Subscribe: The Booze Hounds Inc. Running Team
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
baby  back  book  car  good  make  miles  month  mrs viper  new  read  run  running  shoes  time  viper  week  year 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: The Booze Hounds Inc. Running Team

The Booze Hounds Inc. Running Team

Updated: 2018-03-06T17:34:49.902-05:00


Review: Xero Shoes Prio


My first run of the year!I've been a proponent of minimalist running footwear for the last eight years or so, and yet I had never found the perfect shoe that provided my ideal combination of a flat, flexible sole with excellent ground feel.With the Prio, Xero Shoes has done it. This is what I've been waiting for all this time. The Prio have a zero-drop sole for a breathable active-wear shoe that can be rolled up like a chimichanga. The lacing is adjustable for a custom fit around the arch and heel. The toebox is extra wide to all those little digits to flex and move as if you were barefoot.If you are familiar with Xero Shoes' sandals, I recommend sizing up a half to a full size to accommodate the enclosed toe (e.g., I wear an 11 in the Z-Trails and ordered a 12 for the Prio). In comparison to other manufacturers, I typically wear an 11.5 for running shoes. However, Xero Shoes has comprehensive sizing guide to get you the right fit.In just a few days of constant wear, which included a run, I am already convinced these are THE shoe for runners interested in minimal footwear. The shoes arrived the day before I was set to leave for Houston on a business trip. I wore them non-stop, from running through airports, a short run around downtown and through a convention center expo hall. The Prios passed all tests with flying colors.[Editor's note: Yeah, I'm just here for the free shoes. Xero Shoes provided the shoes, and I supplied my own opinion. I really am excited about these, though.]Reflective lacing system!Look good with jeans too. [...]

Review: Umara Z-Trail by Xero Shoes


The day I went for my first run since September last year I got an email from Steven Sashen. You may remember him from such memorable posts as “Almost Nearly Barefoot” and “Review: Invisible Shoes (aka Commercially Made Hippy Shoes).”What? More hippy shoes?You might also remember Sashen from his 2013 appearance on the reality TV show “Shark Tank” where he turned down a $400,000 investment offer for his company Xero Shoes and has since seen sales climb to an expected $3 million this year, according to a March 5 article by Forbes. That’s a far cry from the rubber and string huaraches I reviewed four and half years ago.Sashen’s email was offering me a free pair of his latest sports sandal, the trail-friendly Umara Z-Trail. It was early February, and I had literally just come back from my first run in months. I was feeling that wonderful optimism you get when make a plan and actually stick to it.I had pledged to start running again. I was going to start slow. Just once a week. Every Sunday. I can do that. (Spoiler alert: I haven’t done that.) I was feeling positive in that moment, but still I waited a day to respond. Did I really have it in me to follow through on a product review? Did I really want to reboot the blog? Then I saw Barefoot Josh showing off his Z-Trails on Facebook, and I figured sometimes you just have to say what the fuck. The next day I fired off a reply to Sashen with my shoe size and waited for my package to arrive.My first encounter with the company that became Xero Shoes goes back almost exactly six years when I made those homemade hippy shoes using some industrial rubber sheeting and instructions from Sashen’s website. About a year and a half later he contacted me to review the commercially made version of his huaraches.Both of my prior experiences were good, but the resulting footwear turned out to be nothing more than novelties in my running life. I wore them a few times, but put them away in a drawer. These Z-Trails are different.Unlike its rubber and string predecessors, these sandals have traditional straps like you would find on brands like Teva or Chaco. I had a pair of Tevas a decade ago that were the most comfortable sandals I ever owned, but I never replaced them after the plastic clasp broke.Working hard for the money: Z-Trails at home.The Z-Trails are far more comfortable than those Tevas, and there’s no plastic clasp to break. Furthermore, and Sashen has a video demonstrating this, the Z-Trails are three times lighter than a pair of those popular brands. This is good for running but also for just hanging around the house with your feet up. The sandals never feel like they’re dragging your feet down. From the moment I slipped them on, they felt good.As you might expect from a running sandal, sizing is very important. Xero Shoes has traditional sizes, but the company encourages you to actually measure the length of your foot to get the best possible fit. If you’re between sizes, they recommend you go up a size and then trim the soles if needed. An adjustable crisscross strap holds the shoe to your foot, and a Velcro strap goes across your heal. The fit is secure and customizable.My first real test of the Z-Trails was just hanging around the house and taking my son for a walk (and sometimes run) around the neighborhood. Just normal, everyday stuff.Gravel? What gravel. Plenty of protection here.While out for a walk, I ran around some. Obviously nothing extensive, but enough to get a sense of how they felt. The biggest thing I noticed was no flop. My past experiences running in sandals have been plagued by the incessant clack-clack-clack-clack of the soles flopping against the ground. Not so with the Z-Trails. Major plus.Back in the house, I also ran up and down my staircase to get the sensation of running uphill or over obstacles. If you’ve ever caught your toe on a log, you understand how happy I was when I didn’t trip running on stairs. This was a serious problem with the Invisible Shoes and my homemade hippy shoes. The toe area staye[...]

Flashback Friday: I'M BACK (No I'm Not)


What? Where am I? What year is this? Who has awoken me from my peaceful cryogenic sleep? Someone get me a fucking drink.

Hello, my name is Viper. It has been two years, two months and a day since my last post. Let's first dispel the idea that I'm returning. No. I am not. But let me tell you something, there will be one more post after this one. And it's going to be a crummy commercial.

I guess it's fitting that this post arrives while you're all recovering from your St. Patrick's Day hangovers. While you had kegs and eggs, I ate a green cookie for breakfast on my way to work.

This post is just to see if anyone still remembers me. You see, I still run another blog that you wouldn't stop midway through your routine three-miler to deposit two shits into that nasty portable toilet along the side of the running path to acknowledge the existence of this said other blog. Yet every time I log into the Blogger dashboard, two things bother me.

One is that my total posts to the Booze Hounds Inc. Running Team sits at 1,098. Two entries shy of a nice round 1,100. Make that ONE shy, now.

Second, you idiots still visit this long dormant site. As of this writing, there were 414 pageviews here last month. Dude, did you not realize it's been like 789 days since I last wrote anything about running or drinking? Come on! You're better than this.

There are other bloggers out there still producing what I assume is quality content. I wouldn't know because contrary to what I promised in my last post and because as you would totally expect I have not been keeping up with any of my old running blogger comrades. But still, just take a look at the handy list of overrated bloggers I've compiled down and to the right of the page. Those people just wrote something. I have not, except for this. And one other thing coming soon. But that's it. Find your blogging content elsewhere.

What's coming soon is an obligatory review of a product I just got for free because my clout as a blogger is still way bigger than yours even when I haven't written jackshit in forever. The last time I ran it was to catch up to my two-year-old during a walk around the block (testing said product in the process). Yeah, remember when the Viper family had a baby? He's a crazy toddler now. Time flies and makes you feel old as shit.

The only time I ever go for a proper run is when I have to travel for work. I thought things were really turning around last month when I managed three runs (two of which were when I was in Houston for a conference) and logged eight whole miles. I even started up a 2016 running log to track all my stats. I was averaging a tepid 12:37 per mile. I thought this is it. I'm back.

Yeah. No. Haven't run since February 11. Maybe I'll run more now that time has sprung ahead and there's more daylight after I get off work. You should probably hold your breath until that happens. Ready? Go!(image)

Flashback Friday: Final Flashback


If this post was the Alpha, then the one you're reading now is the Omega.

It's been seven years that I've been writing as your fearless leader of the Booze Hounds Inc. Running Team, and a lot has changed in that time. From hungover race reports to sprawling epics of virtual events, from blogger duels to terrible haikus, and from slaying my white whale to marriage-adjusted PRs — you've followed me through my drunken bachelor days, to marrying the love of my life and finally to becoming a dad.

There just isn't anything else to say, and so I'm following the path that others have blazed before me. I'm joining the ranks of Ian, Razz, Sun Runner, Xenia, Barefoot Josh and sometimes Nitmos in the great blogging hereafter before my posts succumb to further obnoxiousness.

Like all of my forebloggers, this site will not be taken down in its dormancy. I'll still read those bloggers I've been following for years, as I can't deny the draw of the online running community we've created. Perhaps, I'll post again when I have something interesting to say.

I believe this leaves Jess as the lone blogger whose site I followed from the beginning and who is still active. Her streak remains unparalleled.

There are several reasons why I made the decision to go on an indefinite hiatus. I'm no longer the booze hound I once was, nor am I the runner I once was. My priorities have changed such that the things in my life that I would normally share in this space are no longer commonplace enough to warrant the level of navel-gazing that a good blog requires. My posts have lacked the excitement and humor that make for an enjoyable writing experience, and by extension a good read for you. My focus just isn't here anymore.

This isn't goodbye so much as it's an announcement of my semi-retirement. Thank you all for reading about my adventures over the years, and for lending your support and derision in equal measure. Good luck in all that you do. Happy Hour is approaching. Remember, alcohol reduces pain and increases confidence. Run well and drink well. Cheers, forever more!(image)

Cold, Sickness Recalibration


The hardest workout during last week's freezing and coughing spell turned out to be pushing my car for about 15 feet. My goal of running twice went unfulfilled. No matter, I'll try to run twice this week.

This morning, I got up early enough to complete my body-weight exercise routine (pull-ups, push-ups, squats, walking lunges and planks). I felt a bit lightheaded in the middle of it. I think I was dehydrated. I took a break to drink some cold water and felt better.

This week, Mrs. Viper's work schedule may require me to run in the morning, my least favorite time. Hopefully, getting up earlier today will help me do so tomorrow or Wednesday for a run.

This is the new me, trying not to beat myself up over not running when I say I want to. Finding time to exercise remains the biggest challenge as a new parent.

This year, I hope to learn to better manage my time so I can take care of my responsibilities and still have time for the things I want to do, like running, playing music and reading.(image)

Flashback Friday: Cold Deal


Amid historic cold weather, the Viper Lair has been beset by a cold virus. Baby's first cold has been a difficult ordeal. The last two nights, he has woken up several times during the night. Mrs. Viper has been a saint, sacrificing her own sleep to take care of him. It doesn't help that we've both been fighting off our own nagging symptoms for more than a week. Add some car trouble to the mix, and it has not been a fine time this week.

But today it's warming up. Hit the reset button. There are better days ahead.

My goal this week is still two runs. It's already Friday, and have so far completed zero runs. With a sick baby and a tired wife at home, it's going to be tough justifying a run today. Sometimes you have to be OK with failure. But who knows, maybe I'll surprise you.

Back Talk
Wherein the movie is not the book

Miss Zippy chimes in at our recent book club meeting: "Huge Coen Brothers fan…can't wait to see the movie. And haven't read the book, so that will help, b/c you're right--movies never live up to the books."

Answer: Just to be clear, Inside Llewyn Davis is not meant to be the movie adaptation of The Mayor of MacDougal Street. Part of the book was used as inspiration, but otherwise it is an original Coen Brother's film. They said in an interview that it was also based on Homer's The Odyssey (as was O Brother, Where Art Thou?). As far as I know, No Country for Old Men is the only book adaptation they've done.

Happy Hour is nearly upon us, teammates! Enjoy the weekend. Run well and drink well. Cheers!(image)

Boozy Book Club No. 16


Just as expected, The Mayor of MacDougal Street, by Dave Van Ronk, was my 12th book of 2013, meeting my goal at the zero hour. Coincidentally, my local NPR station was giving away tickets to see a preview screening of Inside Llewyn Davis the week before Christmas, and I scored two seats for Mrs. Viper and I to have a rare date night.

The book was a fun read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in New York City during the 1960s or the folk revival period in general. However, it colored my viewing of the movie in a negative light. I came out of the theater feeling a bit disappointed, and I later realized it was because I was expecting it to be more like the book, which was a major mistake.

Although the Coen Brothers used certain anecdotes from Van Ronk's memoir, it was not a biopic nor an historical rendering. The movie was not about the era, but rather used it as a setting for a story about a downtrodden musician struggling to find meaning in his life after losing his partner. It's about coping with loss, letting go of the past, and trying to make a living as an artist.

After thinking more critically about it, I find myself more appreciative of the film. I only wish I could see it again in the theater, but it'll have to wait until it reaches the home video market.

The 2014 Reading List
Just as in the past few years, my goal for this year is once again to read one book per month. Right now, I'm reading a short story collection by the recent Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro, called Friend of My Youth, which has been in my collection for who knows how long.

You may know that I'm a recovering chronic book buyer. From the time I was in college until I became acquainted with debt, I'd go trawling discount and used book stores and library sales and buy stacks of books at a time.

I can't tell you how many books I own from this period that I still haven't read. This Munro book is one of those. I think it was purchased from a library in Chicago, when a friend and I went to visit his brother and attend the Chicago Comic Con, but I may have gotten it elsewhere.

I've never read any of Munro's work, and I've never seen this particular collection mentioned among her best, but I thought I'd read it since she just won the Nobel. So far, it's pretty good. I'm only on the second story. The book sits atop a shelf in our upstairs bathroom, so that probably tells you A.) way too much and B.) how much effort I'm investing in reading right now. But it's winter, which is when my reading typically picks up steam.

From past experience *coughCivilWarReadingListcough* I know not to try to plan out a year's worth of reading. It's impossible to predict what kind of mood I might be in. I do know I want to read The Hard Way on Purpose, the new book by local author David Giffels (whose previous book I reviewed here), but beyond that I'll read whatever strikes my fancy this year. Any suggestions?

What are you reading this cold January? What do you have on your to-read list this year? Let me know in the comments!(image)

New Workout: Frozen Car Lunges


Are you interested in a workout that strengthens your legs, core and arms all in one shot? Of course you are! Here's what you do:
  1. Live in Northeast Ohio during an historic cold snap, wherein a "polar vortex" brings minus 30 degrees windchill and prevents your car from starting while it is parked in a one-lane driveway and blocking your auxiliary vehicle.  
  2. Spend half the morning trying to get the dead car to start by making repeated trips outside to crank the starter to no avail. 
  3. Maneuver auxiliary vehicle, which will start right up no problem, into position to attempt to jump the dead battery. Again, this will fail.
  4. Determine that you need a new battery, which now means you have to move the dead car out of the way of the auxiliary vehicle to get to the auto parts store.
  5. Maneuver the auxiliary vehicle out of the way by parking in the backyard. Too bad that fence is there and you can't just drive through the yard to get to the road, right?
  6. Ensure dead car is in neutral and begin lunging all your body weight against the rear of the dead car. Rock the dead car until you create enough inertia to roll the dead car forward. (Remember: Rock and Roll.) 
  7. Repeat previous step until dead car is out of the way of the auxiliary vehicle, allowing it to pull out of the one-lane driveway. 
  8. Cool down by installing new battery in subzero climate, which will require you to tracking down three different ratchet sets to make an extension shaft long enough to access the bolt that secures the battery to the engine block. No, no, don't worry. This will be fun. Really.
Just to keep things interesting, I warmed up before this new workout by completing a short strength workout that included pull-ups and push-ups. 

The Snowy Start


In case you haven't heard, wicked winter storms have been rolling through the Midwest and Northeast this past week. We got hit good Thursday. It was above freezing this weekend and raining last night before temperatures plummeted and the snow machine started up again. It's supposed to be bad this week. But at least I tallied my first run of the year.

Sunday's afternoon romp was both shorter and longer than intended. It was just shy of three miles and a couple minutes over a half hour. But, remember, we're not talking about goals in terms of time and distance, but rather racking up the participation points like a good beginner.

Right now, I'm just setting my watch timer for a 30-minute run, which tells you there was no negative split yesterday, and there probably won't be one for quite awhile. Unless I can find a local route that doesn't end on an uphill.

Despite fading near the end, it felt great to get back out there. My legs are only minimally sore today. It felt good to record those first numbers in this year's running log.

This week's goal: two runs. That may be tough with will chill warnings and negative temperatures forecast for the beginning of the week. I'll have to backload my miles to make it happen without suffering frostbite. Cheers!(image)

Flashback Friday: Assuming the Beginner Mentality


Happy New Year, readers, and welcome back from the holiday break. We're three days into 2014, and I still haven't run. I broke my long tradition of an annual New Year's Day run, but today I've been plotting my return to the scene.

It dawned on me yesterday that if I'm going to get back to running this year and return to the Akron Marathon, then I need to take a step back to make a leap forward from last year's sad state of running affairs. In short, I'm going to have to start from scratch and become a beginner again.

A couple months ago, when I thought I might actually run again in 2013, I was hashing out this grand training plan to get my fitness back and start building mileage early this Spring, all in the spirit of attacking an ambitious marathon goal.

But that was fucking stupid.

I haven't run in almost three months, and even then I was not in good shape. Instead of aiming for another sub-4:00:00 marathon, my goals should be: A.) get back out there, B.) stick to it, C.) finish the race, and then D.) keep running afterward. And so, there you have it. These are my goals for 2014. No numbers. No times. Just get the participation medal.

So, treat me like a beginner this year. I won't be talking about racking up some unattainable yearly mileage (1,000 miles) or crazy race goals (all the PRs, bitches!), but instead it's one step at a time for me. This week's objective: one run. It doesn't matter how far (3 miles) or how long it takes me (30 minutes). It only matters that I do it. Cheers!(image)

Boozy Book Club No. 15


As 'tis the season for "year in review" posts, it seemed like a good idea to review the books I read this year, but then I realized I already did that. As a reminder, these are the books I've finished so far:
  1. Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson (finished 2/13/13)
  2. Baseball in Blue in Gray, by George B. Kirsch (2/13/13) 
  3. Night of the Hunter, by Davis Grubb (3/2/13) 
  4. A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson (3/16/13) 
  5. Sunset Park, by Paul Auster (3/27/13) 
  6. Driving Mr. Albert, by Michael Paterniti (4/15/13) 
  7. Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick (5/21/13) 
  8. Someone Could Get Hurt, by Drew Magary (6/10/13)
  9. Tenth of December, by George Saunders (8/4/13) 
  10. Joyland, by Stephen King (8/14/13) 
  11. Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K. Rowling Robert Galbraith (8/31/13)
Every year, I aim to read at least one book per month. As you can see, I'm coming up short. Back in August, it looked like I was going to crush my goal, but ever since Baby Viper arrived, I've started and abandoned several books, trying to finish my twelfth of the year. On Monday, I started what I hope will be that final book.

You may not know this, but I'm a bit of a Coen Brothers geek. Barton Fink is among my Top 5 all time favorite movies. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is partly responsible for my descent into old-time music. I own six of their 14 movies, and it would be more if I hadn't gotten rid of my VHS tapes when Mrs. Viper and I moved into the house. And so, with that lead-in, you shouldn't be surprised to learn I am excited to see Inside Llewyn Davis.

As such, I decided to pick up The Mayor of MacDougal Street, by Dave Van Ronk, the folksinger who purportedly inspired the character of Llewyn Davis. Van Ronk grew up in New York City, amid the folk music scene rooted in Washington Square. Old-time music was a major inspiration to those musicians, and it's an era that has always drawn my curiosity, even before I knew what old-time music was.

After 65 pages, I'm hooked. Van Ronk is a crack up, and his worldview sometimes reminds me of myself, particularly his adherence to a certain sense of authenticity in what "folk music" meant before it became popular music and his disdain for certain practitioners and imitators what "folk music" came to mean after the singer-songwriters co-opted the term.

I have a little less than two weeks left to finish Van Ronk's book to count it for this year. I'm off on vacation next week, so hopefully I'll have the time to read in between holiday doings and taking care of my son. Wish me luck!

What final books are reading this year? What was your favorite book of the year? Anything you're looking forward to reading in 2014? 

2013: Might as Well End it Here


It's the halfway mark of December, but it might as well be the end of the month and thus the end of the year, because that's how it feels. I'm done with 2013. Here is my take on the obligatory "year in review" post that everyone is doing now.Don't get me wrong. This has been a momentous year, all except for when it comes to my running. While being fit and healthy is important to me, it just wasn't a top priority this past 12 months. And that's OK. There's always next year. But first, let's take a look back.We have to start with my goals for 2013, which I didn't bother to announce until Oct. 11, exactly a month after my son was born. My goals were meager, but still mostly unattainable. They were:Break 1,000 miles 400 miles 200 miles.Weigh 170 pounds 175 pounds 180 poundsReturn to the Akron Marathon and run two trail races Run a 5K this winterRun barefoot 10 percent of this year's total mileageLet's see how I fared!You Take the GoodAt 13, my barefoot mileage is actually more than 10 percent of this year's 129 miles. I should probably keep my not-running streak going to make sure I maintain this singular running achievement.However, if you want the real good stuff, you have to look beyond the miles I ran in 2013, because babies be life changing. I ran three times after Baby Viper was born, and that was all in October. Instead, I've been focusing on being a dad, which is way cooler than slogging out a few miles a day.Baby Viper has put on nearly 10 pounds since he came into the world a month early. He's smiling up a storm, and that wipes away any disappointment I may have in regard to other aspects of my life.Mrs. Viper and I are adjusting well to life as a couple married with children. We're tired and sometimes cranky with each other, but I sense we're growing stronger and learning to better communicate our needs.Although I haven't played as much music as I had hoped to this year, I've made great progress in learning to play the fiddle. Once I found I could play in the mornings and not wake up Mrs. Viper and not make my son cry in holy terror, I started to get into a good practice routine. There's still a long way to go, as old-time banjo and fiddle guru Dwight Diller says, "It takes 10 years just to start learning to play the fiddle."Our holiday gift beer should be ready to taste on Tuesday, though I'll probably let it condition a little longer before testing to make sure recipients won't gag on their homemade Christmas gift.Which brings me to our debt situation. We've paid off one credit card and 25 percent of another, taking us to more than 8 percent of our total since signing up at ReadyForZero. That's good progress in two months.You Take the BadUnfortunately, the rest of my running and health related goals were a bust. I'm sitting at 129 miles for the year, well shy of my revised goal of 200. My weight continues to hover around 190 pounds, but this past month it's consistently been below that undesirable mark by two or three pounds, so hooray for movement toward that 180-pound goal line. As you are all well aware, I didn't run a single race this year, and it doesn't look like Mrs. Viper and I will get ourselves to a 5K this winter. Maybe the spring?And There You Have the Facts of LifeOK, so I purposefully kept the bad parts of this review contained in one paragraph while lauding my non-running triumphs, but as Johnny Mercer says, you have to accentuate the positive. I know I'll get back to running eventually. I know things won't always be this hectic. Time won't always feel so crunched. Everything ebbs and flows.[...]

The Tannenbaum Testament


For a second I thought I was going to surpass the puke threshold. True, it had been a long while since I had felt this way, but one never forgets that sensation. You might be asking yourself, "Did he finally go on a run?"

No. We put up the Christmas tree.

Usually, Mrs. Viper helps me with some of the lifting, but with the baby along for his first tree hunting trek, she couldn't do much more than give direction. When we put the trunk into the stand, she steadied the tree while I tightened the screws. Otherwise, it was all on me.

We went to a new tree farm this year, Doc Miller's Christmas Trees at Happinest Farm in nearby Alliance, Ohio. It's a bare bones operation with great prices. They provide a saw and tree shaking, but that's about it. They'll help you tie your tree to your car roof, if needed, but you have to supply the rope, tarp and anything else you might need.

In the past, we've gone to places that bail your tree, tie it up for you and charge about twice as much. Bailed trees are a hell of a lot easier to transport and set up, but there's no room for such luxury in our new "world of no." We needed a cheaper venue, and Doc's is the place — and it's awesome.

We trekked "out to the Maple tree and turn[ed] left" to find the spruce trees and began sizing up the selection. It was chilly, so we made our choice quickly to make sure Baby Viper wasn't out in the cold too long. Even so, we got guff from my father-in-law about how red his cheeks were in the obligatory Facebook photo of baby's first Christmas tree adventure.

I worked up a good sweat, cutting the tree down, lugging it back to the pay shack and securing it to the roof of the car. Part one was complete. Part two was getting the tree inside and set up. And that's when I almost puked.

Getting the stump into the tree stand required me to hoist and hold the tree aloft for several long seconds until Mrs. Viper could successfully guide me in. (That sounds naughty.) She held the tree steady as I tightened the screws. When I stood back up, I felt lightheaded.

Damn, that's the feeling of being out of shape. "I need to start exercising again," I said. And so it was with that testament to my recent slothfulness assured that I decided to spend 10 minutes this morning working out. No, it's not much, but it was something. And that's all that matters.(image)

Flashback Friday: Challenge Excepted


Maybe my perception has been off. Perhaps instead of lamenting how few miles I've run this year, I should be rejoicing in the restful "off season" I've had. This. Whole. Year.

Do you want to feel rested? Do you want your muscles to stop feeling so tight? Do you want to avoid injury? Do you want to have more time to eat heartily? Then I have the running program for you!

Take me, for example. I haven't been hurt at all this year, unlike most of my fellow runners, and I've been able to maintain a substantial diet. Moreover, there's not a single tight muscle on my body! You too could feel this way! It's the American Way!

And that's precisely the reason why I'm not going to submit to the challenge recently posed by the ever competitive Xenia: "The last three years have been crap for running for me, but I've been making a comeback in the last few months ... which I've neglected to blog about. Huh. Anyway, we're both in the 120s for yearly mileage at the moment. My goal is to reach 150 for the year. Care to join me in this or are you too busy feeding your pie-hole?"

It's not my pie-hole I'm so busy feeding. It's my son's. Every three hours. He's on special "I was born too early" formula, and he's going through a case and a half every month. I've actually lost three pounds since Thanksgiving, so there!

My lack of running also sparked a few other clever ploys from you wise-ass commentators.

Jamoosh's two pronged approach:
A) Run a mile in December = 100% improvement
B) Call it a non-running streak!
Al's shoeless advice: "If you wore shoes to run, you could say the dog ate them." That reminds me: My barefoot mileage this year is still 10 percent of my total distance run. Achievement!

And then there's Jess. Super hilarious Jess. " could always take up RW's streak challenge to run every day up until Christmas! Some months are like that. I had a bummer of a November too and only logged 98 miles ... Geez, I'm sorry, but I can't even TRY to not be awesome." She closed her snide little comment with a smug little smiley face, which I deemed inappropriate for republication.

I'm probably not going to run 21 more miles this year to reach 150. And I'm certainly not running every day until Christmas. This is the off season. Try me again when we get to training camp.(image)

Bottled Up


Last night, the missus and I completed the final stage of brewing for our holiday gift ale. I wanted to bottle the beer on Sunday, but at the last moment realized I was about 20 bottles short. What a rookie mistake!

This having been only our second batch of beer since I purchased the two-stage kit back in 2010, we might as well have been first-timers. Here, I thought I had saved and stockpiled enough bottles from that tasty "Patient Zero" porter.

Immediately upon learning of my gaffe, I sent out a desperate plea for empties to my Facebook friends. The first responders had nothing. The next day, Mrs. Viper started calling local bars to see if they had any bottles to spare. To our surprise, one bartender was quite willing to set aside that day's haul, but she said there was no way they'd have the amount we needed on a Monday. Finally, one of my banjo-playing brethren sent me a direct message saying he could help. Score!

I spent the night washing and sanitizing my cache of brown and green bottles. I had about a dozen that were recently debeered, so I had the extra enjoyment of scraping off labels. Let me tell you something: If you're a homebrewer on the hunt for bottles with easy labels to peel off, seek out the offerings from Bell's Brewery. On a recent beer-buying rampage, my lovely wife picked up three six-packs of seasonal brew, one of which being Bell's Java Stout. Compared to other brands, Bell's labels peel right off with just a bit of warm water. It's like they care about their homebrewing customers.

All told, we have seven six-packs and two magnum-sized bottles for our gift-giving list. The brew will be ready to drink just after Christmas. From what we tasted last night, it should be pretty good. By my calculations, the beer will be about 7 percent ABV, but it doesn't taste like it. Hopefully, there will be a few extras to keep Chez Viper stocked for at least a little while.(image)

Goose Egg


Shit! Who let November slip by without a run? Oh, that's right. I did.

Fitness and I are on the outs. It's a sad state of affairs. Oh, sure, there were a few walks for a total of 18 miles, but nothing since Nov. 18. (Hey, 18 and 18 — symmetry!)

Behold! I am Sloth Man. See me just sit here, actually.

On the plus side, I managed to play my fiddle more in November than I had in any month since April. But of course, if you cared about that, you'd be reading my other blog.

It seems pointless to list these stats, but in the name of full disclosure and maybe to self-shame, here is last month's statistical rundown:
  • Total Miles: 0 miles (0 runs)
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Highest Weekly: 0 miles
  • Average Weekly: 0 miles
  • Average Pace: 00:00/mile
  • The Monthly Dif: -11 (11 miles in October)
  • Walking: 18.01 miles (9 walks)
So, maybe I'll run in December. Possibly? Maybe not. Maybe it's time to just call it: My 2013 running season is over. Good riddance, right? The good news is now I can get started on my obligatory "year in review" post!(image)

Flashback Friday: A World of No


It's going to be a homebrewed Christmas.This is how we spent our Sunday. What you see is the beginning stages of the best chemistry experiment I know of, boiling the wort for a holiday ale.It's hard to believe it's been three years since the last time we brewed a batch of beer, but life has been a bit busy since then. There was marriage, buying our first house, having a kid, etc.On that most recent life event, becoming a dad has been awesome. Every day I'm amazed at the new life in my life. He has enriched our lives in weighs we can't even quantify. But there's a catch.As new parents, we find ourselves living in a world of nos. There's no time, no sleep, no energy, no exercise and no money. Yes, Baby Viper has changed everything, as "they" said he would.It's been so long since my last run, there's no point in even counting. It has gotten to the point where I've considered abandoning this blog and starting a parenting blog, because there aren't enough of those. If I also started a food blog, I could complete the trifecta of most abundant blog categories.The reality is, I don't have the energy to start up a new blog and try to get you guys to switch over. This one will have to do. It would be different if I were making money from this little hobby. (Oops.)The lack of money is why we found ourselves brewing beer last weekend.Even before Baby Viper was born, Mrs. Viper and I were doing our best to save money and pay down the debt we amassed in our more reckless days. Living on the cheap isn't all that new to us, but having a baby in the house has compounded our financial circumstances.As our son spent nine days in the NICU, parenthood has come with an unexpected deluge of new medical bills to pay on top of the added expense of having another mouth to feed, another body to clothe and another doctor to visit. We are lucky that our family has been able to help us, but still the budget is tighter than ever.I keep reminding myself that it won't always be like this. It takes a lot of work and patience to pay off debt. We're using ReadyForZero to help us stay on track with our financial goals. According to our plan, we'll pay off all of our credit cards by the end of 2017. We've already paid off one account since signing up in October. It feels good, but we've had to say no to a lot of temptations.We've had to cut back on most of our entertainment spending. Dining out is down to a minimum. Personal spending is virtually nil. We pay our bills and have just enough for food and gasoline. Christmas is going to be tough.That's why we decided to make this year a homemade affair. Everybody gets a photo of the baby and something we made. I'm not crafty like my wife, but I have the tools to make beer. Our holiday ale is fermenting as we speak. I'm still not sure what we'll do for our nieces, nephews and younger cousins.Not being able to spend money has reinforced one of the reasons why running became my exercise of choice. If you don't get caught up in buying all the fancy gear, it's one of the cheapest ways to stay fit. Add in body-weight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups, and I could be super healthy -- you know, if I actually did those things. Sadly, exercise has fallen by the wayside for both Mrs. Viper and me. She has a YMCA membership that has languished since before the baby arrived. I haven't run in more than a month. I haven't even been walking much since the weather took a frigid turn this past week. You'd think living cheap would help us lose weight. If we don't buy as much food, we can't eat as much, right? That hasn't been the case for me. Every morning it's the same. My weight stays ar[...]

Flashback Friday: Late Edition


Today's lunchtime walk included spurts of running, three of them, in fact. This is going to hurt tomorrow, isn't it? Having not run since who knows when, my legs aren't used to anything more strenuous than a brisk stroll. Running became necessary when I had passed the point of no return and was in danger of returning to work much later than allowed.

Typically, my walking pace is a little more than 3 mph. There I was, on a three-mile route with only 45 minutes to spare. It seemed like I was making great time when I had gotten to a mile in about 17 minutes, so I decided to extend my walk. After 10 more minutes, I knew I had made a mistake and started running, SLOWLY.

Luckily, I had decided to wear my Merrell Road Gloves to work today, but jeans, a hoodie and light coat don't make for great running gear. After my third running surge, I was starting to sweat through my undershirt, which made me itchy, which made me want to claw my chest off. I took off my coat and let the cool autumn air cool me down.

All told, it couldn't have been more than three-quarters of a mile that I ran, but it was enough to get the heart going and probably enough to make me sore tomorrow because that's what happens when you decide to run after not doing so for, what, like a month or more? TGIF, I guess.

In the middle of all that, I thought about trying out the running stroller this weekend. With the chilly winds, though, I'm worried I'll give Baby Viper frostbite. So, fellow parents with cold-weather knowledge, how should I dress my kid for riding in the stroller in low temperatures? Drop your knowledge in the comments.

Happy Hour is nearly upon us, teammates! Run well and drink well. Cheers!(image)

Silent But Deadly


It's just like me to proclaim some big goal and then fall into the abyss. Getting back into a regular running routine has been harder than anticipated. October started out well, but then everything stopped after the 15th.

The urge to run has been strong lately, but not strong enough to overcome my desire to play the fiddle in the wee hours. There's just so little time to devote to my personal interests, and old-time music wins out.

I'm still walking most workdays during my lunch break, so at least I'm getting some amount of exercise these days. My weight has remained constant at about 190 pounds, a non-ideal number that continues to haunt me.

It's November now, and that means the Daylight Savings Time is over, and it's getting dark as you read this. If I'm going to get a run in anytime in the next few months, it's going to be in the lowlight.

The good news is that Baby Viper will soon be big enough for the running stroller. If the temperature doesn't get too cold, perhaps we'll be able to run together.

Here is last month's statistical rundown:
  • Total Miles: 11 miles (3 runs)
  • Total Time: 2.08 hours
  • Highest Weekly: 4 miles
  • Average Weekly: 2.75 miles
  • Average Pace: 11:12/mile
  • The Monthly Dif: +8 (3 miles in  September)
  • Walking: 32.92 miles (19 walks)
It's amazing how quickly the mileage adds up with just a few walks per week. My routes are between 1.5 and 2 miles on most days. If I eat lunch earlier, I can get in 3 miles. I wonder how long before the cold starts to impeded my motivation.

Well, that's that, folks! It's been a busy few weeks, which is why it's been silent around here. Hope your lives are in tip-top shape. Cheers!(image)

Not Too Early


The idea is to return to the Akron Marathon in 2014. After seeing Jamoosh's post about planning a year ahead, copying him seemed like an unlikely good idea. Before I knew it, I was crafting the framework for a training plan for next year that starts now.

With a new baby at home, my focus for these remaining months of 2013 is running at least twice a week to get my legs back into some kind of groove. I'm also going to try harder to lose some of this sympathy weight. As Mrs. Viper tries to shed her own pregnancy weight gain, she has started tracking her calories, and so I'm copying her too.

By mid-November I'm hoping Baby Viper will be sturdy enough to try running with him in the stroller. Maybe by that time, we'll have decided on whether we'll enter a winter race.

Next year's plan shepherds me through winter with minimal mileage, but then begins to get more intense with slow and methodical base building in the spring, and finally concludes with an 18-week marathon training regimen that begins in the summer.

My goal is another sub-four marathon finish. Considering how little I've run these past two years and how slow my recent runs have been, my goal may be a bit ambitious. Looking at training paces, such as those found at the always unreliable McMillan Running Calculator, my easy runs should average between nine and 10 minutes per mile. That would require me to shave up to a minute and a half from my current pacing. No sweat!

Thankfully, I've never put too much stock into such rigorous calculations. Besides, even if you do it all right, the marathon can still kick you in the ass. Right, Josh?

If nothing else, it feels good to think about running with purpose again. I don't want to be stuck on the sidelines next year.(image)

The Curse of Convenience


The whole time the Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll made its way to my mouth, my mind was screaming, "No, don't do it. Don't eat this." Nomnomnomnomnom.

What could I do? It was there. And, might I add, it was the second package I'd eaten today.

Ever since Baby Viper arrived on scene, our lair has been junked up with malnutricious convenience food. Fast food, pizza, take out, hot dogs, snacks, candy, microwaveable meals, etc., etc., etc., all are high in ... everything bad. We know we should be eating healthier, but it's so much easier to grab something on the way home or call for delivery. It's a curse, a vicious cycle of "What do you want for dinner? I don't know. Let's just ..."

And then we eat like crap.

Neither of us wants to cook. We have healthy options in the house, but we're too tired to plan ahead. We forget to take out frozen meat to defrost. We don't think about our meals until we're on the verge of acting out The Hunger Games.

How do you shatter the pattern?

Mrs. Viper and I want to eat better and lose some pregnancy-induced weight gain, but it's hard to find the energy to make better choices about our diet.(image)

Flashback Friday: Slow Not as Slow


There I was, feeling all "Eye of the Tiger," reveling in the thrill of the fight, in perfect rhythm, exacting some revenge, cruising toward home along Portage Path, when I looked at my running app to see an 11:55 mile pace. I hadn't even taken any walk breaks this time, and I was slower?

Chalk it up to morning mental fogginess. The final score was an 11:01 pace. Still a slowpoke, but faster than the 11:30 miles I logged on Sunday. Progress!

And then I almost got hit by a car.

Two doors down from our house, I had to come to a quick stop as my neighbor backed out of the driveway, which has some foliage that obstructed the view for both parties. I stopped, the car stopped. It was dark, so I couldn't see the driver well, but I thought I had the all clear to cross behind the car. As I was at the passenger side corner, the car lurched into gear and almost snapped my left femur like a twig.

Let's pause for a safety meeting: Communication and visibility are your No. 1 tools for avoiding vehicular manslaughter. While I was decked out in my hunter's neon yellow cap, bright orange shirt and reflective vest (not to mention my pasty white skin), I probably should have worn my headlamp for extra visibility. My communication with the driver was also lacking. I couldn't see inside the car to make eye contact or give/receive a visual cue. Instead, I should have just waited for the driver to proceed. THE MORE YOU KNOW, PEOPLE!

It may sound ridiculous, but I've readjusted my yearly goal to crack 200 miles, which will be my lowest annual total since I began running in 2006. You know, because babies, am I right?

It's a meager goal, but it seems doable, which is the point. I think I can manage about 7 miles a week for the rest of the year. Maybe I'll even surprise myself, but let's not get our hopes up, OK?

After looking back through this year's posts, I don't think I even announced any goals for the year. Maybe because I knew from the get-go this would be a challenging year to accomplish such things. I did set some goals and marked them down in my running log. This is actually the second revision:
  • My yearly goal for total mileage started at 1,000 miles, then went to 400 miles and now we're at 200. 
  • I wanted to get my weight down to 170 pounds, then it was 175 and now I'm hoping for 180, but even that seems a bit far fetched right now.
  • My racing goals were to return to the Akron Marathon and run two trail races, and now Mrs. Viper and I are considering the possibility of running a 5K this winter, which may or may not be this calendar year, to get us both back on the health and fitness train. 
  • I also wanted to maintain that 10 percent barefoot goal from years past, which at 13 miles so far is still in play if we get some more warm fall days.
It's been a challenging year in terms of staying fit and active, but I'm focusing on the long view. There's always next year. 

Boozy Book Club No. 14


Don't be surprised, but I haven't been reading much in the last month (ahem). Since the last club meeting, two more books have crossed my eyes, but I haven't finished a book since the end of August. The good news is that I'm way ahead of my goal to read a book a month. I only need to read one more.Most Recent ReadsThe most recent books I've read were Stephen King's Joyland and Robert Galbraith's (aka J.K. Rowling) Cuckoo's Calling. When you think of mindless summer reads, these two fit the bill perfectly. Both were easy to read and at times engrossing. Neither really wowed me.King provided a taut coming-of-age story with a sense of doom that never came to the kind of spooky climax I desired. Rowling/Galbraith displayed her talents for character and setting, but succumbed to private eye tropes in the end for a disappointing denouement.A Look BackI'm a slow reader, so every year I've made it a goal to read at least a book a month. So far, here are the ones I've finished:Train DreamsBaseball in Blue and GrayNight of the HunterA Walk in the WoodsSunset ParkDriving Mr. AlbertMan in the High CastleSomeone Could Get HurtTenth of DecemberJoylandCuckoo's CallingI think my favorite of the year so far is Night of the Hunter, by Davis Grubb. The movie was also pretty decent, but it doesn't create the same tension as the book. Robert Mitchum is perfect as the menacing "preacher" Harry Powell, and you can see the seeds of his later portrayal of Max Cady in Cape Fear, but the movie gets a little cheesy. The book is a great thriller and an easy read. Coming Up NextThe library, as always seems to be the case anymore, has a couple books waiting for me. Hopefully, I'll find time to read them. Maybe not. We'll see.First is Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson, about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and America's first serial killer. I've been kind of obsessed with this era of U.S. history, with industrialization and the inventors and tycoons who made it possible. This book has long been on my "to read" list, but was reminded of it after seeing an episode of Haunted History about Dr. H.H. Holmes' "Murder Castle."The other book is Chuck Palahniuk's most recent novel, Doomed, which CRAP! I just realized is a sequal to a book I didn't read. I used to be a major fanboy of Palahniuk, but he got off into this raunchy stuff after a while, and I lost interest. I thought I'd give him another chance. I hope I didn't need to read that other book to enjoy this one.Poor Comic BooksI feel terrible. I haven't picked up my comics in more than a month, and I don't have the time or money to do so now. I'm just leaving my local comic book shop out to dry, and I feel guilty. Should I be a good patron and call to say I'm sorry? Or should I just avoid the store forever? You choose!What have you been reading, teammates? Anything you can't put down? Anything you've read that people should stay away from reading? Let us know in the comments![...]

Revenge of the Bastard


Sneaking out for a four-mile run Sunday morning got me into trouble in more ways than one. Today, soreness is my penance.

Having switched feeding shifts last week, the early hours have started to feel not so terrible. Friday, my extra morning time provided a chance to play my fiddle. Saturday, I just went back to sleep after Baby Viper ate his bottle. Sunday, however, seemed like a good time to run.

I put Little Man back in his crib, making sure he was done being fussy, and kissed Mrs. Viper goodbye. Little did I know that she had hoped to have her own time that morning. I'd be hearing about that later.

The morning was cool, but the humidity foretold the heat and thunderstorms that came later. The only hat I could find to tame my wild morning hair was a winter cap. Otherwise, shorts and a short-sleeve shirt were all I needed.

My route would take me down to my old foe, that old dirty Bastard Garman Hill. It had been quite some time since I last ran up the infamous hill. My pace seemed slow enough to save energy to make the climb, but the intervening month since my last run had drained all my trail-honed hill-running skills. About a third of the way up, my legs said, "No more."

Two more walk breaks were necessary before my run was through. The final tally was an 11:30 mile pace. My calves, hamstrings and quadriceps are all cranky today. That's what I get for being selfish and leaving my wife at home with the baby when she's stuck at home with him all week.

The toughest thing so far about becoming a parent is adjusting to the rearranged schedule. Our time is not our own. Although I've taken advantage of the early hours for some me time, I need to remember to make sure my wife also gets time for herself.(image)

Flashback Friday: Remember Those?


As we adjust to the new normal at Chez Viper, our schedules are starting feel more routine. Although yesterday's attempt at a new nighttime feeding regimen blew up in our face, this morning the switch went off without a hitch.

The Little Man slept through to 6 a.m., downed his bottle with no troubles, and he was back in his cradle by 6:25. I found myself with some extra time to accomplish things before work. Running, however, was not among those things.

Instead, I chose to lock myself in the basement to play my fiddle for a half hour, then I did my Pull-ups/Push-ups/Planks (P Power!) workout, then I threw a load of laundry in the washer, then I did the dishes, then I walked the dog, then I left for work, and then I spent the next 90 minutes stuck in traffic. Stupid car wreck.

So much for my plan to do more in the morning and make it to the office on time.

Distant Memories
It seems like it's been forever since there's been a Flashback Friday, and indeed the last one was a month and a half ago, in the heady days of late summer's pre-baby naivete, when the most important question on my mind was when could I run with my son in the stroller I bought from a coworker, when instead now the question is much simpler: When will I run again?

Back Talk
Wherein we revel in congratulatory messages, where commentators know photos of my son will appear sooner than I think, and life as I knew it is over.

Xenia has already targeted her next cyber stalking victim: "Don't feel the need to post photos. That kid will be posting his own selfies on the interwebs sooner than you think."

Ironman by Thirty sees Miley Cyrus as an inspiration for today's youth: "No worries on the pic. I'll just wait for the twerking video."

Nitmos, as always, is just kind of a jerk: "Congratulations, your life is over."

Happy Hour is nearly upon you, teammates! Run well and drink well. Cheers!(image)