Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mid-Michigan Running Group

While I was in Michigan, I needed a long Saturday run to keep my training on track for the Salt Lake City Marathon. I did a google search for running groups and came across the Mid-Michigan Running Group. They have their own event page and were doing a 15 mile run the Saturday we would be in town. The run started only 5 miles from our hotel and less than 2 from my wife's Grandmother's house.

Mid-Michigan Running Group
This group has figured out the secret to any runner's heart–food. All their runs meet or end at a local food place. The run on Saturday met at Bake N Cakes–A local cake shop that is the pride and joy of those in the area. On Sunday's after a long run, they meet at a local cafe. On Tuesdays they meet at a cupcake shop, on Wednesday's they meet at a local tavern and Thursdays are at pie shop. When I spoke with one of the group members she said they get better attendance when they meet at food places. These are my kind of runners.

There were two different meeting times for the Saturday run. Those who wanted to do 15 met at 8:00 am and those who only wanted 10 met at 9:00 am. When I arrived at the start at 8:00 am they had just started running and I had to do a little catch up. Only a handful of people joined the 8:00 group so I had the opportunity to visit with most of them. As we were running, I asked them where the best local places to eat were. I knew I was in good company when they all just started asking me about food preferences. The list got narrowed down to one or two places that got the consensus vote on favorite.

At 9:00 we looped back to the start and met up with a few more people running in the group. During the next ten miles, we looped around the MSU campus and I was told about some of the goals each runner had. Some members were training for a half and others a full and a few had done multiple marathons. I even discovered that one of the members had moved from Colorado recently and he favorite race is the Top of Utah Marathon which I have run twice. AMAZING!

We finished our run, I shook hands and wished them all well. They extended to me the invitation to join them again any time and that there were doing a recovery run the next day at a local cafe. I smiled and wished them well.

Fork in the Road Restaurant
This little place was among the top of local places that were close to where we were staying. We almost missed it. We arrived at the right time because the wait time got longer and longer as we waited. The menu is very simple. It's updated regularly and printed on a chalkboard. You order your food, then find a place to sit and then you have a waiter come over. Since we were new, we asked about their specials and then ordered. We decided on dessert which was intriguingly called a "Backward Rootbeer Float". My wife had the fried chicken which was fabulous and made me very envious. Whereas I ordered the meatloaf sandwich which was ok, but not like the chicken.

But the hit of the night was the Backward Rootbeer Float. It consisted of Sasparilla Ice Cream in Vanilla Creme Soda. The taste was amazing. I'm used to the flavor of vanilla followed by the flavor of rootbeer when having a traditional rootbeer float. With it reversed, my mind and tongue didn't quite know what to do. I kept expecting the vanilla first and when I got the rootbeer it was almost a shock.

The Fork in the Road restaurant was a hit.

Thank you to the Mid-Michigan Running Group for accommodating me.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

We Interrupt This Michigan Trip for a Product Review

Free Swag! I love free swag! I love it when it's running swag....!

I'm pacing the Salt Lake City Marathon again this year. It's the 10th Anniversary of the race and I've run it four times. I like the race. I like that fact that they have taken out a big hill that was at mile 25 of the course. I like the fact even more that Adidas is the sponsor and they are giving all the pacers a free pair of shoes to run in on race day.

"Did you see how fast Blaine went by in those shoes?
Holy Smoke, they are fast"
Two posts ago I talked about the new shoes I bought because of my inability to control myself in a running store and how I had gone in with the intention to try on a pair of Adidas. I chose the Adidas Adios. In Spanish, Adios means goodbye which I am interpreting this to mean that I will be so screaming fast that people will be saying "Adios" to me when I put them on.

They arrived while we were on our trip to Michigan. I had my brother in law (who also is pacing) pick them up and care for them while I was gone. I gave him implicit instructions to speak about running in positive terms and he could even put his Adidas next to mine at night so mine wouldn't get lonely. He rejected my suggestion that he carry them with him as he was running in his. I would have completely shunned him at our family events because of this, but he did give up his shoe box since mine got damaged in shipping. That sort of sacrifice goes a long way in my book.

I've been able to take them out a few times this week and let me tell you–I'm impressed. They are very light and minimal like the Kinvara's, but the toe is narrower. I appreciate the narrow toe box because I have narrow feet. Wider shoes tend to give me blisters, but these ones feel really good. My calves and shins have been a little more sore than normal, but this is pretty typical whenever I get new shoes.

And they are yellow....!

Adidas has a new shoe called The Energy Boost that is supposedly going to revolutionize running shoes. When we were at our pacer meeting choosing our shoes, the Adidas Rep gave us all the details of them. It's a good thing they are hard to get right now and very limited in stock or I would have been having to check into a rehab for buying yet another pair of shoes.

Sum it all up. I like these shoes. I've never done a full marathon in a minimal shoe before, but i've done plenty of half's in minimal shoes. I'm looking forward to the race. Now I just need to get training... :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Michigan Journey Part 1: Rest Stops, Honeybuckets, and Gas Stations...oh my!

This post has everything to do with bodily functions. I'm posting this solely as a courtesy in case my wife (who rarely reads my blog gets told by one of her friends or a relative or someone on the street that I'm writing about this) sees this. 

As a runner, I've developed a pretty high tolerance for rest stops. You can't be too picky when you are six miles into a 15 mile run and you get "the urge" and it's a "RIGHT NOW!" and not a "in 9 miles when you've fully recovered from your run and had a bite to eat..." I do have my standards and that involves only using facilities meant to capture what I am releasing. I'm not one of those "stop and drop" type of people that I see in races.

So, what does that have to do with a drive to Michigan. Think through this with me.

  • 24 hours of actual driving (30 hours if you included stops)
  • 2 adults
  • 3 kids
Since I never made it past Algebra in High School, I asked my son who is signed up for AP Calculus if there were some formula he could give me that would calculate the possibility that we would be making an urgent stop at some point in our travel. He just rolled his eyes at me and walked off. I'm sure someone has done a study. If not, maybe I'll apply for a grant. What is boils down to is a lot of stopping. Sometimes that stopping just meant gas, but if there's one thing I've taught me kids about traveling is that the chance of being left by the side of road diminishes greatly if you take the opportunity to hit the restroom while we're getting gas then when just filled up 10 minutes before and you were fine.

I'd like to think that I know a thing or two about cleanliness and sanitary conditions. Again, I am married to a marvelous women who has gone to great lengths to rid me of my bachelor man ways and converted me to the putting the seat-down-after-I-go ways of being. Combine that training with my knowledge and experience with all the public places to go in a 5 mile radius of my house and I'm here to give you a breakdown of rest stops from Utah to Michigan. I'll break them down state wide West to East. If you're on the East Coast and traveling to Utah, feel free to scroll to the bottom and work your way up.

One of the rare rest stops
in Utah

1. Utah- Despite the pride and respect I have for my home state, I have to say that Utah ranks just slightly higher than the public restroom at Starbucks in New York City that I waited an hour in line to use. First, finding a true rest stop in Utah is virtually impossible. Most have been shut down and boarded up. Your next resort is the gas stations that simulate rest stops. Your chances of finding one  where you don't have to read about "Bubba and his exploits" or wonder if maybe "Bubba" may have just left are slim. Grade: D+

2. Wyoming-In Wyoming, there are a few options. Rest stops are available. We stopped at two during our journey out and back. The first was when we crossed into Wyoming and they had a sign about not petting the buffalo. Another option is the Little America stops. About 150 miles from the Little America I started seeing signs advertising it. By the time I got there, I was convinced that it was one of the many wonders of the world and if we didn't stop it would be life-ending. On the trip out, the Little America in Wyoming was well kept, clean and l
iving up to the cleanliness the billboards claimed. On the journey back this same stop must have had a truckers convention come through not more than 5 minutes before we got there. Rest Stop Grade: C+, Little America: B

3. Nebraska-This section of our journey is like that nightmare that never ends. The endless miles of nothingness. The rest stops were above average comparatively. You could tell that someone had put some thought into making it nice. One of the places we stopped had a neat diagram showing how the stop had been built to absorb the sun in the winter and warm the place while being cooler in the summer. The smell was reasonable.  Rest Stop Grade: B-

4. Iowa-Someone in Iowa really put some thought into their rest stops. I've stayed at hotels that were not as nice as their rest stops. The buildings were attractive, the landscaping was nice. They even had free Wi-Fi. My wife commented that she could still smell the bleach and cleaner used in the bathroom. I had a boss who said he could tell how well a restaurant's kitchen was by the cleanliness of the bathroom. I've got to say that Iowa gets top marks. Rest Stop Grade: A

5. Illinois-Illinois is the land of the toll roads. I didn't realize they had these little things called Toll Oasis'. If you are unfamiliar with this, it is just what it sounds like. You're on this endless stretch of highway, you've successfully burned through $20 in change in various increments at various toll stations and you come upon this big complex that looks like someone uprooted a min-mall and stuck it on the highway. The bathrooms were comparable to what I would find at a min-mall with a lot of traffic. Rest Stop Grade: C

6. Michigan-By the time we reached Michigan I was in such a daze I don't even remember where we stopped. Since nothing stands out, i'm assuming we stopped at various gas stations along the way and depending on which one we chose it could have been pleasant or scary. Rest Stop Grade: C+ 

For the non-runner, this probably would be a very odd subject. For the runner however, this makes perfect sense. My wife will probably fall somewhere in the middle. She puts up with me as a runner so got to give her good marks for that. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Michigan Journey

Sunday March 17 started out as any other Sunday. It involved me anticipating an easy day filled with things like being with the family, attending church, talking with some friends, etc. Toward the end of the day, we received word that my wife's grandmother in Michigan was close to dying. That's enough to turn a Sunday upside down.

After some debate, discussion and pondering we decided to drive out. We have worked to follow a philosophy of "family first" and this fit into that category. It also involved the kids missing the last week of their term and the first week of the new term. It also involved about 30 hours of total drive time one way.

Our thought was that we would get there in time to say goodbye or to attend a funeral. The first being our preference, but the latter would be ok too. 

I plan to chronicle a few of the more interesting events that occurred over the 8 day trip. Some of it involved running, a lot of it involved eating, most of it just involved a runner experiencing a road trip.