Saturday, April 19, 2008

Brew #2

The results are now in on my second attempt at homebrewing. I set out to brew a Scottish type ale, reminiscent of McEwens. After numerous taste tests, yes, that means I've tried one in many different settings; one right after work, one after a workout, one after dinner, one after taking a shower, and I must say, this brew has given favorable results in every setting. My son and his 2 years of eligible drinking seniority has also put on his stamp of approval.

This ale is a nice dark brown, full bodied and delivers a nice bite. The slightly smoky flavor seems to smooth out the experience. We shall aptly name this brew "Stine's Hip-Check Ale." For those of you that might not know the term hip-check (forgive me Canadian readers, I know you do!) it is old hockey language. A smooth skating defenseman would line-up the on-rushing forward and at the precise time, turn into the skater, leading with his hip, and deliver a check that sends the unsuspecting player into a tumble. Perfectly legal, of course. In old school hockey, the hip-check was a thing of beauty, a graceful check that produced a strong kick, so to speak.
Here's the recipe:
3.5 lbs Plain Light Malt Extract
3.5 lbs Plain Amber Malt Extract
2 oz Crushed Roasted Barley
8 oz Crushed Peat Smoked Malt
1 oz East Kent Goldings Hop (bittering)
1 oz Fuggle Hops (Finishing)
1 pack Ale Yeast

Reverse Empty Nest Syndrome

Recently, the beer has been disappearing faster than Ty Pennington rebuilds a house. Somehow, this last batch, which produces about 2 cases, has dwindled down to a 12-pack in a weeks time. This strange phenomenon was finally unraveled when I discovered my son had moved back home and was holed-up in the basement. Well, Ok, I knew he had moved back, but imagine the shock to these 2 old empty nesters who suddenly had a 100% spike in the grocery bill! It feels rather odd having someone back home after about a full year of freedom, but the stay should be short lived. Billy is in the process of purchasing his first home and expects to be moving back out soon. Of course, mom and dad will have to help with his finances until he finishes his degree. They must teach that in accounting nowadays, eh?
Billy's new home

Country Music Marathon

I will be heading off to Tennessee on the 24th and meeting up with my daughter, Alison, to run the marathon. I have set my ultimate goal at 4:15 and hope to at least be under 4:30. I feel ready and am excited to see if I can pull it off. After that, it's up to Michigan for a week's vacation, if you consider painting my parents condo a vacation! I may or may not have access to computers during the week, so it could be a week or so before I post the marathon report.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dining on Potassium

With my Country Music Marathon 2 weeks away and an increased workout regime the past month, my body has been crying out for help and guidance. Let's look at what my feeble mind is thinking.

When you run, you have a lot of time to think. I mean a LOT of time. My mind wanders aimlessly through my runs, switching topics as often as my dog wants out on a sunny day. It's usually important things, like why are my hamstrings tight today and not yesterday, or why don't more people recycle, or why can't bacon be a health food?

At my age, it becomes difficult to even remember my thoughts later that day so I can write them down in a blog, but one thing keeps coming back. We can land people on the moon, calculate the square root of 183184 in a nanosecond, even map someones genetic make-up based on a single strand of hair; so why can't we design a program that will record my thoughts while running, swimming, biking, walking and put them together in a concise, easy to read document? Doesn't seem too far fetched, does it?

Well, even without this miraculous program, which I shall dub "ThoughtPress", I actually remembered thinking about this topic on my last run. Potassium.

Potassium is especially important in regulating the activity of muscles and nerves. The frequency and degree to which our muscles contract, and the degree to which our nerves become excitable, both depend heavily on the presence of potassium in the right amount.

Other roles for potassium
Potassium is involved in the storage of carbohydrates for use by muscles as fuel. It is also important in maintaining the body's proper electrolyte and acid-base (pH) balance. Potassium may also counteract the increased urinary calcium loss caused by the high-salt diets typical of most Americans, thus helping to prevent bones from thinning out at a fast rate.

Now don't go thinking I'm like a doctor or nutritionist or something, I just know how to research the interent and this is from the Worlds Healtiest Foods website.

I've been wondering in some recent workouts why I've been cramping more often, not necessarily while running, but more often during Pilates. The instructor mentions the need for potassium if you're cramping. Like most everyone, I know things like bananas, figs and kiwis are a good source of potassium and I eat those fruits regularly. But look at this list of better sources;
Maybe Popeye has something there!

So anyway, here's how my workouts have gone the last few weeks in preparation for the upcoming marathon.

Fri Mar 28
Run 18.5 miles pace 10.35

Sat Mar 29
Run 4 miles 9.02 pace

Mon Mar 31
Pilates class

Tue Apr 1
Run 9 miles 10.13 pace

Wed Apr 2
Run 4 miles 8.52 pace

Thu Apr 3
Run 6 miles 10.30 pace
Pilates class

Sat Apr 5
Run 6 miles 10.30 pace

Sun Apr 6 - Brew to Brew
Run 8 miles 8.22 pace

Tue Apr 8
Swim 35 laps, 1750 yards
Run 4 miles 9.45 pace

Wed Apr 9
Run 7 miles 9.47 pace
Golf 9 holes (c'mon, it was cart path only, lots of walking)

Thu Apr 10
Run 5 miles 9.53 pace
Pilates class

I've only done 2 long runs in this training session, one 18.5-miler and one 20-miler. I'm hoping that the increased workload of swimming, boot camp classes and pilates will help compensate for the lower total number of running miles I put in this time. That and the extra spinach, avacado and papaya I plan to eat!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Brew to Brew Relay

One of my favorite runs in the area is the annual Brew to Brew 43 mile Relay. It is traditionally a fun race where costumes are popular and encouraged. But here's the real hook, the race begins near downtown Kansas City at the Boulevard Brewing Co, the best local brewery in town. 43 miles later, you finish in downtown Lawrence, KS, home of the National Champion Kansas Jayhawks, and the Free State Brewery, hence the name 'Brew to Brew.'

Our team will consist of five runners, all from the local running club where I belong. The race may be run solo or with up to 5 total team runners. Each of us will run between 8 and 10 miles. We all arrive at the Boulevard Brewery at 7:30 am and prepare for our 8 am start. Yes, preparation for this race includes, you guessed it, BEER! The Brewery is open and they're pouring cold ones for the runners. I grab my glass of Boulevard Bully Porter and begin the carb-loading. Soon, I hop on the bus and take the short ride to the start as I will be the lead-off man. My legs will be approximately 8 miles.

My goal on this morning will be to run my legs of the relay as fast as I can, no holding back. I'm curious as to what pace I can do if I push myself hard. The first two legs of the race are along top the levees of the Kansas River. The conditions are nice, a flat, crushed gravel trail that winds through the city's industrial area. However, I've already made a big mistake.

Yes, the problem is now the unforgiving result of coffee, water and beer. Should I stop to go? There's no port-a-poties along the way, I would be forced to run down the steep embankment of the levee to find cover. I think to myself, "Suck it up, you wanted beer at 8 am, now live with the consequences!"

Soon, I've forgotten about stopping and I'm into a groove. As usual, I pick out a person in front of me doing a pace that is challenging and try to keep up. I don't own a Garmin (hint, hint to any family member that may read this) so I don't know my exact pace, but I feel I'm hitting my goal. The goal was to average under 9.00 minute/miles, something I have never done for more than 4 miles. The course had been changed slightly, so when I reached the end of my legs some 12 minutes earlier than expected, I was unsure of the overall pace. However, once I got home and mapped it on Google, the totals came back and I finished with a new personal record for any length run, a whopping 8.22 pace. Woohoo!!!

I've been extremely busy lately (major events for both my kids in the works) so I don't have much time right now. I'll update more and add some pics at a later date. Thanks for reading.