Archive for January, 2013

Our running group has thrived and prospered over the past couple of months. We’ve seen new members come and go and then return again. We’ve run routes and rediscovered old routes. And we’ve drunk many a beer in fellowship after cranking out a solid 4 to 5 miles. But we stayed true to our original plan, which was meet-up and run on Monday nights.

route

The Route

Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t enough for some people. (It’s the funny thing about running, the more you do it, the more you WANT to do it) And so a breakaway faction of MNH was born and started running on Saturday mornings. Most of us dismissed this as a fad and went on our way. (seriously, Saturday mornings? Umm…hung-over…hello?) But they kept at it and so the Saturday edition on “Monday Night Hangovers” is an actual, real thing.

So last Saturday I figured I would join them for their insane, crazy, and ill-thought-out running plans. The course was set at a 7.5 mile out-and-back loop from Macguire Park in Lansing, through Hawk Island Park, down the River Trail to Potter Park Zoo, and back. It’s a bit of a longer run than I am used to, but I needed to start packing on the miles for my marathon training plan and I figured I could probably handle it. (plus there was the promise of pancakes afterward. I freakin’ love pancakes) At 8:15AM on a on overcast Saturday, there I was. Sweatpants and long sleeve shirt on, grumbling attitude in tow perhaps, but present and correct.

Off we started and immediately I knew there was going to be a problem. I had recently bought a new MP3 player (product reviews will be added to the site shortly) and I was trying new headphones with them. The bloody headphones kept slipping out of my ears. I could go a couple of steps and then the left one would slip out. A couple of steps and the right one would slip out. It was annoying to say the least. Adding to my increasing rage was the fact that my sweatpants were deciding to slip off of my waist. I was literally running my pants off. The elastic is old and the draw-string couldn’t be knotted effectively so they kept falling down. After a half-mile or so, I had had enough. I was cold, I was going slow (everyone was at least a ¼ mile ahead of me…probably more like ½ mile ahead of me) and these stupid pants were driving me crazy!

In my moment of rage, I pulled off the damn headphones and launched the MP3 player into the grass beside the paved trail. Tugging at the drawstring and tromping through the mud, I tried to calm myself down. I still had some miles to put in after all and everyone else had already disappeared. I knew I was going to be last but didn’t think I was going to be a half-hour slower than everyone.

fatguy

a not fully inaccurate representation

Gathering whatever dignity as cursing fat man with sweatpants falling off his butt can muster, I looked at the situation. I wanted to finish the run, but couldn’t. Not if I had to hike up my stupid pants every two steps. I also couldn’t listen to any music, a blow to be sure but nothing that was insurmountable. So I picked up the MP3 player and looked at the blasted headphones. One of the ear buds was busted. Fully snapped off. As I contemplated the maddening series of events though a thunderbolt of insight popped into my head. The headphone cord was about the circumference of me.  Since they were garbage now anyway, I could turn this into a belt! Eureka!

So I looped it around my waist, tied it tight, and took off for a few paces. It was holding and seemed like it had enough strength to get me through. Relief washed over me and off I went. I knew I wasn’t going to catch anyone, or even finish the full 7.5 miles now that time was ticking away, but I could probably get in 5 miles or so and still have myself a nice little run. The day was warming up and there were plenty of other folks on the river trail (and some deer, too) and there was nowhere else I needed to be at that moment. Just put one foot in front of the other and work on becoming a fitter, thinner, and better person. What more could I ask from a Saturday morning?

It turns out I did 6 miles. (Everyone else did 8…..bastards…) I felt great at the end of it and the biscuits with sausage gravy and cup of coffee I had afterward have never tasted better. It was a great run that I look forward to repeating with this group of crazies that decide to wake up early on a Saturday in January in Michigan and go running. I also have a new moment in my life that I can reflect on when I’m faced with a situation that seems to be getting worse with every step. Instead of raging at it, maybe I just need to step back, take a look at what’s going on, and come up with a solution. Weird how running keeps adding fresh perspective to my life, but there you go.

Post by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life.  On Twitter at timnester.
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spirithorseLike the ancients who strolled these lands before I was born, I recently embarked on a sacred quest to find a guide-post on this windy road of life. (I think the ancients did this….most of my knowledge of history is pieced together from old “The Simpsons” episodes and period sketches from “Portlandia”, but it sounds mystical and old-timey so everyone play along…) Of course the ancients had a name for this creature; they called it your “Spirit Animal”. A mystical projection from the netherworlds that helped you on your way, taught you more about yourself and your place in the great tapestry of life, and showed you the path to enlightenment and spiritual harmony. (I really hope at least 10% of this is true, if I’m insulting anyone than I’m really sorry.)

So, much like the runners at the end of the book “Born to Run” (buy this book…great book), I searched within my own “runner soul” to see who reached back from the mists of the spirit world so that I might learn, and grow, and become wiser and faster and thinner and sexier. I meditated over the course of the last several weeks (read: once for 35 minutes, two weeks ago.) and asked myself what qualities I have that would be ideally embodied in a mystical spirit-beast. The ancients, apparently, fasted for days and went out into the wild in search of this vision, so I decided I would do the modern-day equivalent: I had a salad at lunch and walked around the block once. Deep was my quest for spiritual awakening.

Surprisingly, nothing showed up. Not a mystical purple rhino, not a glittery parakeet who signs life lessons to you in the form of riddles, not even a ghostly chain-smoking cockroach that starts every sentence with, “Let me tell you something there, bub.” Nothing. Zero. Zilch. It was as if the afterlife had taken a look at my sacrifice (seriously, I ate a salad in place of actual food. It’s like I’m freakin’ Gandhi over here!) and said that it was not enough. Or that I was too sucky a person to be bothered with. Or that I had not given them enough money. Or something. You never know with spirits.

So I searched some more. I put my mind to thinking about what spiritual qualities I have that are considered positive. What do I possess within myself that others think of as worthwhile? And what animal would be an accurate representation of that?

panther2My first thought immediately was…..a panther.

Look at him…smooth, sexy, powerful, brooding, vicious but only when provoked. The kind of animal that both men and women alike point to and say, “Damn…that is one well put-together animal.” Prized both for its sheer beauty and enchanting musk.

However, after further consideration, a panther was just not me. In fact, my spirit animal would be the ANTI-panther for sure. The thing furthest away from the sleek, sexy, gets-all-the-girls-without-even-trying, stupid, jerk-faced panther. (Seriously, go f$%^ yourself, panther!) That would be me.

So I was going to need something else.

mooseA friend of mine played upon my height and size and Northern-roots and suggested the Bull-Moose. Not a bad choice, except, I’m not Canadian. I’m not even from Minnesota, which is as close to being a Canadian as one can get while still holding onto the “Everybody sucks but me” attitude that we Americans cling to like grim death.

While the moose is certainly majestic, potentially lethal, and a noble representative of the frozen North, there’s just something about the moose that doesn’t speak to me. Possibly because they are too graceful compared to me. Dainty even. I would need more of a man’s man spirit animal. Something a little more bad-ass but NOT “maul you to death or attack you unprovoked and feast upon your entrails” kind of bad-ass.

There were other suggestions.
mastiff
Meh…….

Maybe this:
manatee
Oh. Hahahahaha…real funny. (extends finger)

and finally…..
kungfupanda
Well that’s just mean…….

And so I went running. (If you are wondering about why I would do this, see previous blog post) And as I plodded along mile after mile and waded through some music that I’m considering holding onto for my Work-out mix, I let my mind drift back to my quest. Certainly there must be some spirit animal out there designed for me. One embodiment of my greater qualities.

And then it appeared to me.

bisonsoul

Oh. Hell. Yes. The Great American Bison. How did this not occur to me sooner? It’s everything that is the best qualities of me: Big, powerful, majestic, gentle-and-yet-still-badass, a caring parent to its offspring, possessor of deep soulful eyes, capable of impressive land speeds but taking a long time to accelerate and decelerate……..easy to kill.  Also, an adult bison was capable of feeding a family of four for nearly 3 months….much like myself if I were to ever go down in a plane crash like that soccer team in “Alive”.

The bison is what I am when it comes to running as well: not the fastest, and yet when you consider the sheer scope of how far they roam, how far they move all of that beef while galloping, then you have to come away impressed. When I finish my marathon in April, that’s exactly the response I’m hoping to get. “Dear God, how can something that big and awkward have made it that far?”

I considered all of this and my soul agreed. I mentally pictured my spirit animal and asked him to be my own and guide me through the path of continued health, speed, and happiness. I saw him clearly in my mind. He knowingly nodded at me and winked. Then said to me “there’s the track…doesn’t matter how fast you go, but you best keep moving along. Wolves will eat you if you stop.”

And so I ran 6 miles. And the wolves went hungry. And now the great bison will be there with me every run, pushing me and reassuring me that the path that I have chosen is the right one. Because he’s absolutely right, it doesn’t matter how fast I’m going, it’s how far I’m going. (26.2 miles in April!)…..and I don’t want to be eaten by wolves.

Post by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life.  On Twitter at timnester.

Huma Lupa Licious

Posted: January 8, 2013 in Beers we've drank

huma lupaShort’s Brewing Huma Lupa Licious

Huma Lupa Licious is an IPA sold by  Short’s Brewing of Bellaire, Michigan.  6.8% ABV.  Sold in bottles.

My Thoughts:

First off, if you are not into IPAs (India Pale Ales) or a very hoppy finish to a beer, than you will need to look elsewhere for your next drink.  This one is only for the sexy people.

I absolutely LOVE this beer.  I’ve loved it since my first sip.  When I first was presented with this I thought, “Wow.  Someone out there finally gets me.  They know that what I want in an IPA is to get blasted in the face with delicious hoppy goodness, lots of bitter, and ample citrus.  Thank you Short’s Brewing!”

That is what I thought upon first encounter…..that is what I still think.  I love this beer, however it is not for everyone.  If you don’t want full-on hops and bitter, than stay away.  Lots of other fine brews out there for you.  We won’t judge.   As for me, one of my new favorites and soon to be a staple in the beer fridge.  (mental note: buy separate fridge and put in basement.  Fill with good beers.  Repeat.)

Review by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life.

T Shirt Ideas

Posted: January 6, 2013 in Random Thoughts

These are suggestions…we can design whatever the hell we want, of course.

Figure around 20-25 buck per person if we want to do it.

Maybe someone else knows of a cheaper source.

t shirt 4 t shirt 5 t shirt 6 t shirt 7 t shirt t shirt 2 t shirt 3t shirt 8

t shirt 9

Bell’s Oberon

Posted: January 3, 2013 in Beers we've drank

oberonOberon from Bell’s Brewery

Oberon Ale is a summer seasonal American Wheat Ale brewed by Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. ABV is 5.8%. Sold in bottles, kegs, and mini-kegs.

My thoughts: 


There are those who are not big fans of Oberon.  Many who claim that Blue Moon and others offer more consistency and solid wheat flavor than Michigan’s own summertime brew.

I am not one of these people.   I look forward every year to Oberon Opening Day.  I’m there the first day to grab it off a tap with an orange (yes, I like it with an orange).  I buy a six pack on my way home.  And it becomes my go to from May until early August.   There, I’ve said it.  It is Michigan’s most noble beer tradition, in my opinion.

Smooth flavor, refreshing, a fantastic example of a wheat Ale that isn’t especially heavy on the hops or malt and is perfect for a summertime evening.  My preference for Oberon over most wheat brews is that it seems to retain a little of the “craft brew” origin in it.  While most mass produced wheats are stronger than lagers, they all seem to be too refined to me, too weak on the flavor.  Oberon allows for a bit of a hoppy finish to it, not over-bearing but just enough to notice.

I go with an orange slice in it when I can (I find it accentuates the spice notes well), but enjoy it just fine without.

Review by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life.

tim bolt

It began around April 20th of 2012.  I had been working out for a month or so because I was running the Hawk Island Triathlon for the third straight year. I was pretty darn slow the first two years and so I wanted to put up a better time and figured that biking like crazy and getting better at the swim would do just that. I was running a little, but I’ve always hated running….HATED it. I’m a big framed dude and it’s hard for me to get any type of speed going and it always felt horribly uncomfortable maintaining it past 1/4 mile. My friends could all bust out a couple of miles without a problem. My wife pops out of the house and goes like crazy. My Dad was a runner, my older brother can bust out a 5K in respectable time, even the old couple down the street enters runs all the time and they’re 70! For the life of me I could never figure out why this was such an ordeal for me. I can bike just fine, for miles and miles in fact. Running, however, remained one of those activities that I figured I would never enjoy and only do because it was the inevitable part of triathlons.

So I got back from vacation in South Carolina and decided to face my fears.  Figuring that I could always go back to the relative safety of biking, I decided that I should run….a lot.  Run whenever I worked out.   Run for as long as I could before stopping, as far as I could without stopping.  Time to slay the demon!  And so it began.

Couple of things I noticed right away.  Firstly, and this probably should have occurred to me before, I was able to run for a longer time and ultimately run a faster overall time when I slowed my pace a little at the beginning.  I must have spent my entire life trying to keep up with people who’s bodies are much better built for this running thing than mine.  By slowing my pace down by 30 seconds to 1 minute per mile, I was able to consistently run for about 2 miles before having to walk (which is about a mile and a half further than I could ever go before).  It wasn’t pretty and I’m certain that the people in the gym who saw me plod along the track were making fun of me, but it felt like I was making progress.

Secondly, I noticed that each day was a little easier than the run before.  Each run made it a little easier for me to get back on the track the next time out.  I was able to relax a little bit and even enjoy the run.  It felt….good.  The more run time I was able to squeeze in, the more I looked forward to next time.  I was always so intimidated by how bad I was at running that I felt tense the entire time before.  Now that I could go at my own pace and just work on starting out slow and getting better, I didn’t have to panic every time I stepped on to the track.

Finally, and this is so obvious to all that it’s a bit embarrassing for me to admit, I was able to feel the affects of NOT smoking.  It had only been 2 or 3 weeks at that point, but I was honestly feeling like I could breathe easier.  Apparently, smoking is bad for you.  I know that the science might confuse you a little, but when you take smoke, toxins, and carcinogens into your lungs it will affect how well you can breathe.  What a revelation!   I also found out that because I was able to run better because I didn’t smoke anymore, I was running more to avoid smoking.  It worked out to be a nice substitution behavior that helped out with the cravings.

So that’s how I got going with the whole thing.  It certainly wasn’t easy, but the triathlon was looming and I had made a side-bet with my brother-in-law on who would finish first, so I kept at it.  And when the triathlon got here, I discovered something else.  I was better at running than I had ever been in my life, and I was still awful at it.  31 minutes on the 5K portion of the tri was not exactly horrible, but it was far from being even remotely impressive.  Afterwards, I decided that I still wanted to work out to keep the pounds off and do a few more triathlons, but I would go back to biking and working on swimming.  Running would shift back to “only when I have to” status.

Then my friend Jojo asked me if I wanted to run a 5K in DeWitt with her.  The last 5K run I had done was in college, somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 years ago.  Since I had dropped 17 minutes off my triathlon time, I figured I would give it a shot and signed up.  It was awful.  It was painful.  I suffered through the whole darn thing and only managed 32 minutes on the clock (which was slower than the triathlon time).  But I was also happy that I had done it, that I had stretched my limits a little.  And was happy that I got to spend a little time with my friend doing something fun and rewarding.  We agreed to meet up for a run soon.

A couple of weeks later I showed up at the River Trail to meet up with Jojo, Justin, and Schmitt to go for a bit of a run.  I knew I couldn’t keep up with them, but we were meeting up at the bar at the end of the run, so if I was a little behind the pack then it would just give everyone else an excuse to have another beer, making me the hero!  It turned out to be a little bit of a life changing experience.  Justin and Jo disappeared pretty quickly, but it turns out that Schmitt and I are about even paced when it comes to running.  Though we’re built slightly differently, we’re built for the same basic purpose.  Power and not speed.  We’re linebackers and not marathoners.  We also found that both of us could push ourselves a little without dropping the other one and that if one of us needed a break and a bit of a walk to recharge, then that was cool too.  We ran for 4 or 5 miles.  It took us 50 minutes or so, but we did it!  I just ran further than I had ever run before!  And had fun doing it!  Plus there was a beer waiting for me at the end of this…..sweet fancy Moses what a deal!

It turns out that my life-long dread of running was based on a misconception that I had to be, well, good at running to enjoy it.  I’m not good at running.  I’m probably never going to be what’s known as “good” at running.  But I am getting better at it, I am enjoying the hell out of it, and I’ve found a group of people who have the same sort of opinion about it that I do.  We get together Monday nights to do something we know is good for us, exercise….and then go to the bar so we can keep a balanced life.  It’s running to have fun, not running to run faster and stronger and better.

As we’ve progressed through the late summer, fall and now into winter, we’ve kept up the runs.  We’ve made new friends who have joined us on Monday nights.  And we’ve embarked on a few adventures for 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and the like, with each race run celebrated at the end.  Not because everyone ran it really fast or won their age division or anything like that, but because we all finished it, we all got off the couch and did it.  And then we went and had fun.

I thank each and everyone of the Monday Night Hangovers crew for getting me into this.  I am easily the slowest one of the group, but they don’t seem to mind and they keep up the encouragement, just as I keep up my encouragement of them. I went from having run in a 5K once 16 years ago to having completed 18 races of various lengths in the course of 8 months….and quit smoking to boot!  Wish I had realized that sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are at something, just that you enjoy doing it.  I’m very glad I discovered it now though.

Happy 2013 to everyone!  Let’s go running!

-Entry by: Tim Nester.   Senior Founding Member of “Monday Night Hangover”.  Email me tnester66@gmail.com