Monday, May 31, 2010

The Bryan Hayes Memorial Day Run; or, Things That Go Bump in the Day

Having today off, I decided to do some trail running. It's Memorial Day, and I thought I'd honor my good friend Bryan Hayes--who is completing his tour in Iraq--by running at Herb Parsons State Park, a place we've talked about running many times but have not yet visited together.

It would have been to my advantage to have had Bryan with me. In addition to being great company, Bryan knows the 7-mile loop around the lake; I, on the other hand, did not know the trail (today was my first time there) and thus got lost or turned around several times. I also tried to be a hero and circumnavigate the lake twice instead of just once, and the heat and time on my feet conspired to leave me exhausted by the end. But I loved the trail itself (much wider than the Wolf River trails, and, unlike the Tour de Wolf, most of the trail is in the shade).

I look forward to running it with my good friend when he returns later this summer. Happy Memorial Day, Bryan!

Running log:

My Herb Parsons experience by the numbers:

Miles ran: about 14
Miles walked: about 0.5 (at around mile 13)
Number of wrong turns: at least 5
Number of times I fell down: 2
Number of times I fell down because I bumped my head on the branch of a fallen tree: 1
Number of seconds spent lying on the ground after bumping my head: probably 15 or so
Number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches eaten during and after the run: 1
Number of clothing changes during and after the run: 2 (I felt like Madonna!)
Number of items purchased at the park store to meet the $5 debit card minimum which I decided to pay because I was hecka thirsty but the Gatorade cost only $1.59: 5

Sunday: 3 miles at Shady Grove

Beer log:

Sunday: Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy (thanks, Charlie!)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Don't Try This at Home...Maybe Not Even at the Zoo

I spent both Thursday and Friday evenings at the Memphis Zoo; I spent today resting a spell.

Beer log:

Zoo Brew, with 3- to 5-oz servings of the following (* = first time I'd tried this beer):

Saranac Summer Ale*
Victory Hop Devil
Beamish Irish Stout*
Singha* (lager from Thailand)
Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout
Sierra Nevada Porter
Flying Dog Garde Dog Biere de Garde*
Bosco's Bombay IPA
Abita Jockamo IPA*
Rogue American Amber*
Unibroue Maudite*
Unibroue Don de Dieu*
Dogfish Head Raison d'Etre*
Yazoo Hop Project*
Acme Pale Ale* (North Coast)
Eye of the Hawk ale* (Mendocino)
Kasteel Rouge*
Ghost River Glacial Pale Ale
Hook & Ladder Backdraft Brown*
Hook & Ladder Lighter*
Beer 30* (Wisconsin)
Homebrew: Moose Drool Clone*
Homebrew: Scottish 80 Schilling Ale*
Homebrew: Rye Ale*

A couple of notes:

1. A few beers were nice surprises--the Saranac Summer Ale (lager with lemonade) was really flavorful; I may buy a six-pack of that this summer. I also liked the Yazoo Hop Project (#28...each batch of Hop Project is brewed with a different mix of hops, so each batch is different from every other one)--along with the Ghost River Glacial Pale Ale (even in such lofty company, it still stood out), this was probably my favorite of the hoppy beers. And all three Homebrews were really, really good. However,

2. Even with small serving sizes, trying 24 beers in one night was maybe NOT the best idea. I tried to pace myself (I really did!), and I kept bottled water with me the entire time. But I overdid things; an especially poor decision was trying all of the Homebrews back-to-back-to-back right before we left--each was really strong, and I spent the next 2 hours regretting that final sprint to the finish.

Still, I had a great time with my brother, my sister-in-law, and our friend Joey; I just might use a little more discretion (read: self-control) next time.

Today: Not even considering having a beer.

Running log:

Thursday: Zoom Through the Zoo 4-mile race--I finished in 27:28, more than a minute faster than my time last year. After getting caught up in the middle of the pack for the first half mile last year, I decided to start closer to the cheetahs and gazelles...even though I was winded by the end (OK, well before the end), that speedy first mile helped me to the improved time.
Friday: 7.25 miles on the muddy Yellow and Blue trails.
Today: Not even considering running.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pasty Lord of the Sith

Yesterday, I became the thing I hated.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a rather long tirade (back when MySpace was my repository for such things) about men who ran shirtless. I was not commenting on male shirtlessness in general or any aesthetic qualms I have with that state, but just on some bad racing etiquette I'd seen in a few guys who happened to be running topless (I've pasted the full rant at the bottom of this post).

My plan yesterday was to take a break from running to rest my joints for tonight's Zoom Through the Zoo race; I figured 30 minutes on the Y StairMaster would stake out a nice Via Media between no workout at all and the pounding of road running.

When I arrived at the Y, however, I realized I'd packed my shorts, shoes, and towel, but no t-shirt. My first thought was to simply wear the shirt I had on and then go home for my shower before returning to work, but the idea of spending 30 minutes on a StairMaster while wearing a cotton polo shirt was less than appealing.

So, with no other options immediately coming to mind, I headed to Sea Isle park and ran. Shirtless. Like Anakin Skywalker, I'd become the very thing I'd fought against, complete with labored breathing.

(Though much, much pastier.)

And though I was a hot sweaty mess afterward, I quickly threw on my polo shirt as soon as I returned to the car, rendering the shirt a hot sweaty mess as well but covering my shame, and my blinding paleness, most effectively.

Running log: 3 shirtless miles at Sea Isle.

Beer log: Dos Equis at El Porton for the joint birthday celebration for my wife, my sister-in-law, and me.


The Curse of the Shirtless Dudes

I like running longish distances. It makes me feel good.

I also like healthy competition. It also makes me feel good.

The upshot of those two facts is that I like to run in distance races.

Running plus competition--the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of sport for me.

But I also try to be a Good Sport.

(Those who knew me growing up know that has not always been the case. But I'm trying.)

So when I get toward the last stretch of a race, and I see someone ahead of me busting his or her butt who has been ahead of me pretty much the entire race,
I consider it bad form to blow by that person right before entering the chute at the end of the run.

To me, that person earned the better finishing position.

Being a Bad Sport does not make me feel good.


Not everyone seems to take that stance.

Three different times this year, I have held back and not passed someone right in front of me at the finish of a race

And then have watched as someone else makes a mad dash and passes me right before I reach the finish line--

Even as I'm consciously NOT passing the person in front of ME.

The Good Sport part of me knows I should just let it go

And I think the Good Sport part would win out easily

Except for the fact that the dude that passes me at the end

Is inevitably running Shirtless.

On paper, that may not be a big deal,

But when one runs one's first half marathon,

Like I did last spring,

And finally gets to view one's Official Race Photo

And then finds that one is barely visible in said photo

because a 45-year-old Shirtless man is
(1) Eclipsing one photo-wise and
(2) Passing one at the finish

Well, let's just say one decides NOT to shell out the twenty bucks
for said Official Race Photo.

It should go without saying that

That did not make me feel good.

Anyway, to add insult to injury today
(figurately--I was not injured, thankfully)

Not only was I once again passed by a Shirtless Dude

Right at the finish of a race,

But the man in front of me from whom I respectfully kept my distance at the end

Was also Shirtless

And the Passing Shirtless Dude passed me

And then passed In-Front-of-Me-Shirtless-Dude.

And then when we were standing around right after the finish--

Me breathing easily, but the Shirtless Duo gasping for air--

I heard Passing Shirtless-Dude say to the volunteer

Who was handing out the finishing-order cards,

"Be sure my card reflects the fact that I finished in front of those two guys"--

Meaning me and In-Front-of-Me Shirtless Dude.

I still think I made the right call

And was a Good Sport

In not passing In-Front-of-Me-Shirtless-Dude,

And I'll most likely make a similar decision

The next time I approach the finish line

Just behind someone I believe has run a great race.

That would still make me feel good.

Except if that someone is Shirtless,

In which case

He's gonna be wiping my dust

Out of his chest hair

If he has any.

And that would most likely make me feel


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The PBR Headache

The latest incarnation of the San Juan Brigade played trivia at the P&H last night. After I enjoyed a solo 1554, I partook of the community pitchers of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Not that anyone would mistake me for a hipster anyway, but any possible street cred I might've accrued by playing in a rock band with younger, hipper dudes is surely leavened by the fact that I simply do not drink PBR. I tried it back in 2002 (why do I remember these details?) and, while I thought it tasted OK, I developed a severe headache after only a single pint. I hadn't tried it again since.

But because it was right there in front of me last night, I had a cup. My first impresson was that, hey, it's pretty good...not packed with flavor, but cold, light, and crisp. And cheap. I poured a second cup. Still tasty. Still cheap.

And then--WHAM---the headache kicked in. I drank other liquids to try to counter the effect, but the dull pain persisted. Offered another cup, I shook my head and declined.

Turns out I'm not alone in experiencing this adverse effect. In "10 Reasons Why You Should Not Buy Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer," G.R. notes the "crushing headache" that accompanies only a couple of pints. Another drinker's review of PBR consisted only of "Guaranteed headache."

Regardless, though, last night's experience only confirms the obvious:

I'm definitely not a hipster.

Street cred = nil.

Though I guess I could still go buy a trucker hat, or a chain wallet, or something.

And, as my wife can attest to, even though I don't dress or drink like a hipster, a night at the P&H always leaves me smelling like one.

Running log: 3 miles at Sea Isle near race pace (preparing for Thursday's Zoom Through the Zoo 4-miler)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another “draft drought"...

…though, fortunately, not a “draught drought.” For the record:

Beer log:
Tuesday (5/18): Ghost River Brown on tap at the Grove Grill (work dinner).
Wednesday: Abita Pecan Harvest Ale—light and tasty. A nice “humble” beer.
Saturday: Unibroue La Fin du Monde. A little bit of Belgium right here in North America!
Sunday: Delirium Tremens (from actual Belgium) at CafĂ© 1912 with a downsized—but plenty fun—version of our dinner group.

Running log:
Tuesday: 6 miles at Sea Isle
Thursday: 6 miles at Sea Isle
Friday: 6 miles at the Y
Saturday: 6 miles at the Y
Sunday: 1.85 miles at the Y (after StairMaster)
Today (Monday): 6 miles (including hill/incline work) at the Y (the plan was to run at Shelby Farms, but the surprise thunderstorm changed my plan)


Fortunately, this week promises to bring extra beer excitement, since (1) I picked up my first "package" as a member of the Joe's Wines and Spirits "Beer Nutz" Club (more on that soon) and (2) I have a ticket to the Zoo Brew beer tasting event to be held this Friday night.

Monday, May 17, 2010

No time for editorializing...

Running log
Friday: 6.25 miles on the (muddy) Tour de Wolf (extra .15 due to wrong turn)
Saturday: 6.1 miles on the (still muddy) Tour de Wolf
Today (Monday): 8.25 miles on the Chickasaw Trail

Beer log
Saturday: A pair of Saranacs--Adirondack Lager after the run and Brown Ale before bed...neither stellar, but the lager was pretty refreshing on a hot afternoon (though a little filling at 5.5% ABV).
Sunday: The previously described Sierra Nevada Torpedo Double Pale Ale at a wedding reception (Many Years, Mitch and Sandy!) and then a Chimay Premiere at Studio on the Square during One Came Home (I enjoyed the beer, and Cindy and I both enjoyed the movie).
Tonight (Monday): The devilishly good Avery White Rascal.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Right in the kisser. Walloped by the Hop Wallop.

Back to the Beer Fast...

You-Know-Who in the Details

From an article titled "Satan Ale Pulled From the Pig's Shelves:

"'The names of these beers have nothing to do with any religious statement or message, but they simply refer to the old brewing traditions, and the hard work near the fire of the cooking vessels,' stated a Brewery De Block representative via e-mail. 'As a matter of fact, the Belgian football players are called the Red Devils, and a lot of beers from Belgium and other countries have brand names like Biere du Demon, Delirium Tremens, Luciver, Duvel, etc. I have never met anybody here who said that they were upset about these old traditions.'"

The last beer I had before I began Beer Fast 2010 was Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing Company. I'll go ahead and mention that it was a hell of a good beer--malty, heavy without being syrupy, and just a little bit chocolatey. I enjoyed that beer while celebrating Mother's Day at Sweet Grass, a new favorite restaurant in Cooper-Young.

Had I bought this beer for home consumption, however, I would have not added the empty bottle to my growing much as I enjoyed that stout, I would have felt, well, uneasy having such a questionable character leer down at me (and my wife) from the top of my kitchen cabinets.

I ran into a similar dilemma a few weeks ago, when I decided to recycle instead of display the empty bottle that had contained Avery's White Rascal, another beer I very much liked but about whose diabolical label I was less than enthusiastic about keeping around. Even in my limited beer-drinking experience, I've come across many beers whose names and/or labels give at least a wink and nod to the Evil One: HopDevil, Duvel, several Unibroue varieties...and that's just off the top of my head. Moreover, these cervezas celebrating the Unsavory One are generally the big, strong, and very tasty beers that I usually prefer.

I have not yet reached the point at which, for me, drinking such beers in and of itself precipitates a moral crisis (though drinking too many of these high-gravity brews in a single setting might).

Nor is this a comprehensive reflection on the origins of beer names and the history of the beer-Beelzebub connection.

Hell, maybe it's 99% marketing.

But I do feel better about ditching those bottles afterward.


Running log:

Sunday: 6 miles on the treadmill
Monday: 7 miles on the treadmill
Tuesday: 3.1 miles on the treadmill
Today: 6.25 miles on the road

Friday, May 07, 2010

Roll Call

Just for the record, here's a list of the rest of the beers I've had this week:


Saranac Black Forest Ale: My favorite from the Wild World of Wine and Beer a few weeks ago, and just as delicious at home. A new favorite for sure.

Thursday (with pizza at Mellow Mushroom with good friends--the MM has a great beer selection, by the way)

Victory HopDevil Ale: Wow! That's one hoppy, flavorful ale. Perfect with the Philosopher's Pie (steak, portobello mushroom cap, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, provolone, feta, and mozzarella cheeses on an oil and garlic base).
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA: 90-Minute "light"--similar in taste, but less wallop than its bigger-by-30-minutes brother. I probably should've had this one before the HopDevil.

Tonight (Friday)

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA: Pale Ale heavy! Actually, the hop profile is a little different from that of the Sierra Nevada flagship brew; also, at 7.2% ABV, it's a "big" but not "BIG" beer.
White Hawk Select IPA, from Mendocino Brewing Co.: Another new favorite, and different enough from the Torpedo (and sufficiently hoppy) to hold its own as the second beer of the night. Second and final.

“Don’t Waste the Beer!”

I first heard that phrase in the summer of ’86. For the second straight year, my Uncle Mike and Aunt Connie had driven my brother and me to St. Louis to take in a few Cardinals games. That particular day, we were in the Busch Stadium nosebleeds for an afternoon game in the middle of July. The Cards were losing, everyone was sweating, and our section was getting rowdier by the inning. Anyway, as a fellow made his way up the steps with a tray of beers, he tripped upwards, spilling the four cups he was carrying onto the ground. Hence the chant, repeated in the same semi-drunken stupor in which “Let’s Go, Cubs!” is chanted at every game at Wrigley. I was thirteen then, but the memory of that moment is still as clear as day.

If only I’d actually learned the lesson of the chant.

Because I wanted to make sure that Brandon and Caitlyn retained their deposit, and because no one I spoke to knew of any other accommodation, on Wednesday I returned the keg of Ghost River Pale Ale that had been hibernating in the church fridge since the end of Brandon and Caitlyn’s reception Sunday. The last time I'd seen the keg, it seemed to have at least a gallon or two of beer remaining inside. Like a fool, however, I did not bring with me any of the empty growlers that had collected at my house over the last few weeks. I tried to console myself by saying, “It’s been three days, it’s gone flat by now, it’s no good, it’s no loss.”

But I needed to know that for sure. Although I had no cup, glass, or bottle with me, I just couldn’t resist (once I pulled into the Ghost River parking lot) pouring just a small bit of bachelor-no-more beer into the only receptacle I could find—a Tupperware sandwich container. Tilting the plastic square circle toward my lips, I sipped.

Of course, the beer was still in tip-top shape.

Opportunity = missed.

Beer = wasted.

Dave = ashamed and embarrassed.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Running Fast

Several weeks ago, I promised my muscles and joints that I'd soon give them a full week's break from running. That week has arrived. My goal is to continue to ride my bicycle and work out on the elliptical machine and StairMaster at the Y as much as I can this week, but I'm not planning to run again till this coming Sunday.

To my Achilles tendons and left hip, I say, "You're welcome."

The running fast may or may not be accompanied by a similar beer fast; the beer fast will most likely occur next week, when my Dad (of the Teetotalling Twombly subgroup) will be in town. Blood is thicker than ale...even stout.

Evening update: No beer fast this week! I enjoyed two New Belgium 1554 Enlightened Black Ales during trivia at the P&H (3rd place this week--let's hear it for the San Juan Brigade!). I'd had a bottle of 1554 a couple of years ago and was underwhelmed by it--it seemed a little dry and even flat. On tap, however...ahh. Not sweet but not too bitter, its rich, full flavor persisted from first sip to aftertaste. I'm glad I gave this one a second chance.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Tapology 101

The short version of the post:

Read the instructions.

The "I'm a Dude, So How Can I Avoid Reading the Instructions?" version:

My good friends Brandon and Caitlyn were married yesterday. To connect the dots from an earlier post, Brandon is the originator of the use of Twombly as an adjective meaning, roughly, "that state of slight goofiness that follows consumption of a couple of beers." Our shared love of good beer probably lay behind Brandon's asking me to help man the keg at his wedding reception yesterday.

It was a post at which I was more than happy to serve, especially since the brew du jour was Ghost River Pale Ale. There was one problem, however: though I had reaped the benefits of many a tapped keg, I had never actually tapped a keg myself. I thought about this after Liturgy yesterday and cornered Brandon as we were moving tables and chairs into and out of the parish hall for the reception. "Do you know how to tap a keg?" I asked outright. Brandon, kind enough to at least address my question while his mind must've been on thousands of more important things, said, "Nah, but I think it's easy."

Fortunately for me, Brandon had also "tapped" a second beer server, our friend Nathan. "You ever tapped a keg?" I asked Nathan. "Oh yeah, lots of times." Good, I thought, and went home for my post-Liturgy nap feeling confident in my ability to be a good Beerman.

After sleeping a bit too long and waking a bit too groggy, I drove back to the church in what I thought was plenty of time to ready the keg before the wedding began. I found Nathan, and we moved the keg from the storage room to the larger room where food and drinks were to be served. Once the keg was in place, Nathan promptly inserted the tap into the valve at the top of the keg, turned it clockwise, and tried to press the handle down. Nothing. "Hmm," he said, and tried again. A bit of beer shot out at the bottom of the tap onto his sleeve cuff. "Uh-oh," he said, as beer continued to not flow from the business end of the tap. "Hey," Nathan said, "I need to run upstairs and do my job as an usher...ask [another friend] if he can help you."

"OK, I got this," I replied, with absolutely no confidence that I actually "had this." At that point, I began to sweat a little: Brandon had splurged for the good beer, and he'd given me the responsibility of serving it on this most important of occasions. So I went upstairs to the nave to find a helper. Walking along the side aisle (as the choir was singing--there was now about 10 minutes till the start of the wedding), I spotted a likely helper. "Psst. Can you help me tap a keg?" I asked him. "Sure," he said, "but I've never tapped one before--just tell me what to do."

By then, I'd begun to sweat a lot more. Ushers (including Nathan) were escorting attendees to their seats. Groom and Pals were ready to enter the nave from the narthex. I'd even seen the bride begin to make her way to outside the front door of the church. "I wonder if the brewery has an after hours, beer emergency phone line," I thought to myself. 7 minutes till the wedding. I strained my eyes looking up and down the nave, but I could see no other potential keg-tapping assistants. 5 minutes and counting.

At that point, I figured I had one last shot to try to right the beer ship myself. Taking a deep breath, I walked back downstairs, entered the serving room, and tried to press the handle down again. Nothing--except this time a small bit of beer sprayed onto my sleeve cuff.

In desperation, I removed the tap from the keg to look it over closely. Right there on the side of the tap, bold white on black letters, were the magic words: "Tapping Instructions."

"Why not?" I thought.

"Step 1: Insert the bottom of the tap into the notched opening at the top of the keg and turn clockwise one fourth of a turn till the tap locks in place." OK, that's what Nathan had done, but I'm out of options. Done.

"Step 2: Pull handle outward and then press down until it locks in place." Aha! Pull handle OUTWARD. THAT's what we hadn't done. Sure enough, I pulled the tap handle outward and was easily able to press it into its locked and beer-releasing position. "Now we're getting somewhere!"

"You should now be ready to serve the beer. Use the pump only if the beer flow slows." Grabbing a plastic cup, I attempted my first pour. Foam. Then nothing. "That's bad!" I said, probably too loudly. I gave the pump a couple of pushes and tried again, hoping for the best. Presto! After a slight bit of foam, real live beer flowed into the cup. I was tempted to down the cup's contents as a celebration/thank offering, but decided there would be plenty of time for that later. I had a wedding to get to--and only 2 minutes to make it upstairs.

God grant you Many Years, Brandon and Caitlyn!

Running log: None today, but a "virtual 10k race" (6.2 miles) on the Y treadmill yesterday as a substitute for the Corinth Coca-Cola 10k that I skipped owing to the (realized) threat of storms that morning. Time = 43:34, which would've been a personal best had I run it outside in a race.