Why I Drink Beer – Part 1

16 Jul

La Cerveza de Costa Rica

Beer, you’ve gotta love it.  Believed to be one of the oldest prepared beverages, beer trails only to water and tea as the world’s third most popular drink.  It can be found all over the world, in the biggest cities and most remote of locations.  It is everywhere, and enjoyed by so many.  Here is the first in a series of short essays on why I drink beer.

Part 1: Imperial

I don’t remember my first beer, but I remember first learning to enjoy it.  The first beer I would have called my beer of choice was Imperial, a Costa Rican Lager, similar to any typical Latin American lager.  It is gold in color, light in taste, and has a foamy white head.  I remember trying out different Costa Rican beers, and as a beer rookie, I wasn’t really able to tell the difference.  There isn’t much special about Imperial, except the memories.  As a teenager studying abroad in town with no other gringos, it was beer that brought me together with my new friends.  It was beer that loosened up the tongue and brought out the Spanish.  And it was beer and beach that brought out more laughter than anything else.

Since then, beer for me has meant just that:  bringing people together, making new friends, and sharing in laughter.  Whether you are out at a bar with friends, sitting around the house with family, or in the back yard lighting up the grill, beer just seems to set the mood.  Co-workers become friends, heartbreaks are mended, and anniversaries celebrated, all over beers.  I’m not really sure why beer can be credited for so many great things…maybe it’s the alcohol, maybe it’s the taste, or maybe just the history.  No matter what the reason, the mood is set, the people have fun, and we keep drinking the beer.

That is one reason why I drink beer.

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Down Dog – Running and Yoga

13 Jul

Last winter several new things came into my life.  One of them was down dog.  As KFB was training to become a certified yoga teacher, I decided to start practicing yoga some myself.  As her teaching guinea pig, I found myself flowing through vinyasa sequences up to a few times a week.  I really started getting into it while the snow was falling throughout the bitter DC iceland.  It was a great way to get the body moving, the heat rising, and the mind grounded.  While it was miserable to run outside, it was incredibly appealing to practice yoga inside.

Now that the snow is long gone, the running shorts are back out of the closet, and the training has begun, yoga might not seem the obvious choice.  And of course, when I’m running 5 times a week, it is harder to find the time to step back onto the mat.  But as I’m putting in more and more miles each week, I see (and feel) more and more reason to make my way into the studio.  The benefits of yoga seem to be endless, but here are just a few ways that I see my practice on my mat affecting my practice on the pavement.

Balance – Yoga is all about balancing your body.  Everything you do on one side of your body, you mirror on the other.  You are working towards equality through each position.  Running should be the same way.  Each movement by one pace should be mimicked on the other side.  A good stride has balance.  If your hips are shifting in one direction, but your ankles another, knee problems are certain to arise.

Breath – Endurance running is all about breath.  If you are constantly trying to catch your breath, you’re miles will be limited.  Yoga makes the connection between breath and movement.  With every inhale and exhale comes a movement, a rhythm, and a flow.  Running is extremely repetitive, finding the connection between the flow of your movement and the natural flow of your breath will bring you directly to that sweet “zone” that every running is searching for.

Strength – If you’ve ever seen a yogi, then there is no doubting their strength.  While traditional yoga might not give you the same cardio workout as biking or swimming, it will certainlly work your abs, legs, arms, and everything in between.  Holding a deep lunge, down dog, or inversion long enough, and you’ll be twice as sore as you were from yesterday’s 8 miles.  Yoga works your core and your upper body, often left out of the typical running workout.

Mind – Long distance running takes a lot of focus.  With every pound of the foot, many runners get too focused on the distance left to travel or the incline of the next hill.  While that is only natural at times, I’ve learned through yoga to focus more on my breath, tune into each part of my body, and mentally dedicate that time and energy to something else.  Once you stop rocking out to yesterday’s top 40 on the ipod, and start focusing more on the movements you are making, the run can fly by leaving you with a strong body and clear mind.

While yoga might not be the first thing a male training for a marathon might think of adding to his weekly training schedule, it will undoubtedly add strength, depth and meaning to your workouts.

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Week 1-2: Hot and Tired

28 Jun

6 Miles: Start and end at 14th and Park, NW

I have to admit, these were not my best two weeks of running.  The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy for me at work, often at the office with 5 plus hours of overtime a day.  It was a big few weeks for me, as months of preparation were coming into action.  Hitting the road for a run after 12 or 13 hours at the office was not exactly what I wanted to do, especially with this weather.

You may recall that I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how much more I liked running in the heat than the cold.  Well, I take every single one of those words back.  I liked running in the heat for a total of 10 days.  All 10 of those days happened to be when the DC heat was below 90.  The past few weeks haven’t seen a day under 90 yet.  Running in 98 degrees with DC humidity has been brutal.  I’ve tried waking up to get in my run early, and waiting until almost dark to get in my run late.  I’ve even tried my damnedest to time out my run with a rain shower, only to have the rain pass by, as if to rub the heat in that much more.

But even with the lack of sleep, intensive heat, and low motivation, I still laced up my Asics and hit the road.  Although they were slow, the miles have now been logged.  I even did two track workouts, which actually turned out to be some of the best days for me.

This week’s long run was only 6 miles, which I happily took, knowing the longer runs were in the near future.  Next week picks up a little bit, but nothing longer than I know I can handle.  Next weekend I head to Rochester with KFB for the 4th, which will hopefully bring lower temperature and exciting new routes!

Weeks 1-3

20 Weeks

14 Jun

If all goes as planned, 20 weeks from now I’ll have just completed the Marine Corps Marathon.  While it isn’t my first marathon, there is still so much running through my head, at least 26.2 nervous butterflies fluttering through my stomach, and so much left unknown.  I now know what it feels like to hit the wall, to run myself to tears on a training day,  change plans with friends because I have to go on a run, and cross the finish line, but I don’t know what it is like to start this journey by myself, to run this new training schedule, or to run with a body that I already know has some issues.

On one hand I’m confident, because I know I can do it.  On the other hand, I’m shaking in my Asics, because now I know how much it is going to suck.

I’ll be using a 20 week training program, with 5 days of running per week.  This year I plan to do more track workouts, focusing a bit more on speed.  I will also be a little flexible with this schedule, listening to my body and adding some yoga throughout the weeks.  The training schedule starts off a bit light, but I thought it would be good for me.  I want to make sure that I don’t burn myself out, and take it easy on my knee.  I know there will be days during the first few weeks when I add a mile or two to a run, but I think it is best to take it easy instead of pushing it too hard from the get-go.

You can check out the training schedule below.  I’ll also be tracking my progress and updating it on TheHaySay weekly.  Plus you’ll be able to follow the progress in The Runs section.

Here goes nothing…

Marine Corps Marathon Training Schedule

BP Videos

10 Jun

Photo Taken from BeyondDC.com

Every day I look at the news in disbelief that this disaster is still going on, and getting worse.  It blows my mind that we are STILL unable to stop the leak.  I see the images, read the stories, and feel sick to my stomach.

There has been so much satire about the spill, so I picked out a few that I thought you might enjoy.

The first one comes from UCBComedy.

The second was compiled by the NRDC.

Chinese Food Makes Me Sick…

8 Jun

“I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch, Chinese food makes me sick…”

Well, I haven’t really liked girls in Abercrombie since 7th grade, and Chinese food only makes me sick about half the time, but when I started thinking about this post, that song wouldn’t leave my head!

Last week while I was camping with a group of friends, we passed through several small towns on the way to Big Meadows.  Looking for a place to eat, we noticed that we were pretty much limited to one of three options:  1) Small town diner, 2) Fast Food, or 3) Chinese Food.  Of course we opted for the small town diner, but it struck up a conversation on Chinese Food.

The conversation started when someone asked if Chinese Food was on the way out.  The once staple to everyone’s take-out rotation, is now little more than a small town strip mall option, food court staple, or (in DC) one of those crazy Chinese/Subs/Seafood combo dumps.  In our great city full of food options from nearly any country in the world, I can only think of one, maybe two, places that I would actually get Chinese Food.

So if Chinese is on the way out, what is feeding our hunger for Asian food goodness?  After a little consideration, we decided that Thai was the new Chinese.  As others have noticed recently as well, Thai joints seem to be popping up all over the place!  They’re hip, they’re trendy, and yes, they are freak’n delicious.

So why is it that Thai is taking over Chinese?  It could be that we were just simply tired of General Tso, but I think it is a much bigger phenomena.  Even though the majority of Americans haven’t yet jumped on the organic or local food wagon, we are all certainly more conscious about what we eat.  When I think about Chinese take-out, three foods comes to mind: Fried egg-rolls, flavors of fried chicken (read Sesame, General Tso, etc.) and egg foo yung, all with a side of two pieces of broccoli.    When I think of Thai food, I think veggies and rice noodles, spring-rolls, and tofu substitutions.

I think we are growing up!  Not only do we no longer associate Asian food with just Chinese anymore, but we are learning to eat our veggies.  And with our grown-up taste buds, we are moving on to bigger and tastier things.  So what do you think?  Is Chinese on the way out and Thai taking its place?  Or are we just diversifying a bit?

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Off to the Markets: Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market

2 Jun

Greens from Quaker Valley Orchards

Over Memorial Day Weekend I joined KFB and a few other friends for a camping trip out in Shenandoah National Park.  We planned the hikes, organized the equipment, and divided up the meals before hitting the mountains.  KFB and I picked dinner, and started planning.  After a few disappointing weeks with Arganica, we decided to just hit up the farmers market instead.  This was actually my first DC market of the year, so I was pretty excited to see what all they had.

The Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market is a charming little market located right in the small plaza on Mt. Pleasant Street and Lamont Street, NW.  It has several different vendors, each offering a few different items, a bike repair station, and some live joyful bluegrass to get you in the mood.

We had a grilled veggie melody dinner in mind, and knew that most of what we might be cooking over the camp fire isn’t really in season, but we were able to find some delicious items for the trip.

Asparagus from Truck Patch Farms

Asparagus - Truck Patch Farms

To start, we found a great loaf of rosemary bread  baked fresh from Atwater’s Bakery.  We ended up coating it in garlic and butter, wrapping it in foil and throwing it on the coals.  After a short toasting, it was the perfect addition to the meal.  We also found some asparagus and strawberries from Truck Patch Farms in New Windsor, MD.   Good for us, but unfortunate for our camping friends, neither of these made it to the mountains.  The asparagus was so flavorful we just had to have it for dinner that night, and the strawberries so sweet they didn’t make it past dessert.  These fresh strawberries and a little vanilla ice cream went together like coffee and morning, or BP and shame.  I heard this was the last week for local asparagus, so I’m glad we took this opportunity to have one last indulgence while we could.

What did make it on our trip were some tasty Fuji apples from Quaker Valley Orchards.  Nothing beats a juicy apple on a humid hike.

Mt. Pleasant Farmers Market is a great place to get your seasonal produce and local meat right near Columbia Heights.  While I can’t wait for Columbia Heights’ new farmers market to open up next Saturday, I really hope that it doesn’t take away from Mt. P neighborhood market and its charming character.  I know I’ll certainly be frequenting both this summer.

Strawberries from Truck Patch Farms

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Rave Run – Sweating It Out

25 May

5 Mile Route (Click image for interactive ap)

The first signs of a DC summer are here.  High temps and high humidity fill the late evening air, and I for one am glad to see it!  After such a long winter full of cold, icy runs, nothing feels better than returning to the house soaked with sweat.  It wasn’t until this week that I really had my first great hot run of the year.  After a weekend of no running and too much boozing, a swift 5 miles with a lot of leaking (read: sweat), couldn’t have felt better. It is one thing to get home and be tired from a run.  It is another thing to get home, be tired, and FEEL wet.  No question you just had a work out.

I’m not looking forward to 90+ degree training this summer, but I’ll soak up this 75 degree, 70% humidity any day.

So what do you think?

I’ll be post all of my routes on my MapMyRun profile.

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The Dhamma Brothers

13 May

This past Tuesday, KFB and I joined a few other friends for the a DC area viewing of The Dhamma Brothers.  The documentary takes place in the Donaldson Correction Facility, a high security prison in the State of Alabama.  It documents the account of several prisoners who decide to attend a 10 day workshop of Vipassana Meditation.  The workshop is 10 very structured days of total silence and meditation for hours on end.  Throughout the film you see once extremely violent criminals open up and address reality often for the first time.

The film shows hope for people with none.  In a very violent and dangerous community, it is hard to think of a life of peace.  Following the film was a panel with some of the Vipassana teachers from the prison and some of the administrators from the Donaldson Correction Facility.  The Warden of the prison testified the importance of the program, which was forbidden for many years due to the conservative Christian’s movement to keep it out of the prison.  As we heard from the testimonies and saw in the film, it was through Vipassana Meditation that many of them found peace for themselves and the world.

It was truly an incredible story, one certainly worth checking out.

The Dhamma Brothers will air on DC Public TV on Sunday, June 20 at 11:00 p.m. and Tuesday, June 22 at 8:00 p.m.

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Brewing TV’s First Episode

11 May

Northern Brewer, one of my favorite homebrew supplies stores, has started a new online show airing once a week.  They are calling it Brewing TV.  Here is what they have to say on their website:

“Brewing TV’s mission is to cover the world of homebrewing through the magic of video.  There are so many stories to be told, brews to be brewed, and people to profile … in other words, no shortage of segments and content to be shot.  The homebrewing community has always been a strong one, whether it’s your LHBS, a club in your city, you and some friends brewing in your kitchen on a weekend afternoon, or an online forum with rabid regulars. Brewing TV is a place where those different communities can connect and hear about what homebrewing has been, what it is, and where it is going.  Brewing TV is a voice for homebrewing culture … the “why,” not the “how.” If you want technical, you can always read a book!  Seriously, read more books.

I highly recommend you check out episode 1, as they meet the guys behind Fulton Brewing Company, brew and American Wheat, and explore the Upper Mississippi Mas Out.  Enjoy!

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