For the last couple of years I have mentioned, in closed circles, that I am going to discontinue the tradition of the 12 Beers of Christmas, secretly hoping that one of my friends exclaims, “Jamoosh, I can not and will not let this tradition die!” Yet, as December approaches and the beers of the season begin appearing on shelves, I can’t help myself.
This year featured an apartment packed full of folks with the usual suspects taking over a much too small kitchen; most everyone else keeping tabs on two TV screens featuring college football; and a few brilliant peeps paying attention to my awesome Christmas Mix Tape…
The reaping for the 12 Beers of Christmas usually begins a week or so prior as I comb beer stores (in the city I am working) for the privileged beers that will sink or swim at the actual event. I also contact friends and family (my sister lives in the beer mecca of San Diego) and request them to secure a few selections, if possible. This process helps me bring new beers to the gathering, many which cannot be found in Texas.
Behold, the 12 Beers of Christmas – 2013 Version
The weather cooperated very nicely this year, with temperatures in the 30’s and a tempestuous wind that gave the day a significant wintery feel. And set the stage for the perfect cold weather dish: chili!
One bit of deliciousness that pairs well with chili is cornbread. Hence, the evening before, I spent time making mini jalapeno cornbread muffins with cheese and bacon. Of course, spending an evening cooking means cooking with beer and by that I mean, beer for me. Which also leads to some nonsense.
Yup, that is a mini cornbread muffin on top of a beer. And yes, I did tweet it out as “muffin top” – I am not sorry…
Best In Show
As we made our way through 12 different holiday and winter beers, two selections really stood out as the people’s favorites:
AleSmith Brewing Yule Smith Winter – an imperial red ale (special thanks to my good friend, Dr. Jon, who contributed this to the selection).
Dunedin Brewing Holiday Pharmhouse Ale – a spiced Saison brewed with orange peel, cinnamon, & black cherries (big thanks to Jack and Zee who drove out to Dunedin Brewing to pick up a bottle for me and to Jaclyn, who transported it back to Houston).
Nearly everyone had these two brews in their top three, so it was not hard to separate them from this years pack.
This year attendees were also treated to a special beer preview. The head brewer (Kris) of the soon to be BAKS Brewing brought a few beers over for some tasting and feedback.
All I am going to say is you may want to begin standing in line now for the Belgian Blonde because it is most excellent. This is a beer that will not need any recipe tweaking at all and I am reserving the first keg that gets filled.
Kris also brought over two versions of a pale ale that were dry-hopped with different hops. It’s amazing how changing one thing will affect the taste (and aroma) of a beer. Kris graciously accepted compliments and feedback and explained how the nuances of each hop can impact the beer. It was certainly a delicious and learning experience for many.
Oddly, I almost always enjoy the party prep as much as the party itself. I am going to have to start incorporating beer into some of my recipes instead of only incorporating beer into my liver.
Austin, TX and Escondido, CA were in the house as some folks drove and flew several hours to participate in an evening of awesomeness (thanks Jana and thanks Laurie – my sister, who also came bearing gifts of beer).
There was a 13th Beer although it was not officially part of the tasting. Someone remarked they could not believe there was no Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. After I punched him in the mouth*, I gave him one from the beer hibernation unit.
They ate all my Bugles…
* For the record, I did not punch anyone
Because I Care
Cravings. We all get them and sometimes they are so overwhelming we gorge, much to our detriment. Since me and science both care about you, here’s a handy chart to decipher your cravings:
I Went There
Check this out, Mainly Marathons hosts several running events where runners can run up to five marathons (or half marathons) over five consecutive days. Here is some of their literature:
Time limit: None, no runner left behind.
Awards will be given to those who come in last.
Hey kids, here’s a challenge we are making so easy, you get a prize for not training!
Five albums I listened to over and over again in the 70’s:
1979 – Song you may recognize: Refugee
1978 – Song you may recognize: Best Friend’s Girl
1979 – Song you may recognize: Rock Lobster
1977 – Song you may recognize: Go Your Own Way
1977 – Song you may recognize: Staying Alive
Lucky Number 12
My annual 12 Beers of Christmas party, an intimate extravaganza with, get this, 12 different seasonal brews, takes place tomorrow. (I think I was short a comma in that last sentence, but I am going to get over it)
I’ve lost count of how many iterations of 12 Beers there has been, but this may be the 13th or 14th year.
Thanks to my awesome sister Laurie and my good friends Jaclyn, Jack and Zee there are plenty of new entries for this year’s version.
Hope you can make it!
People, the weekend stretches before us. May fair weather grace your runs and may your beverage selection be wise.
The one rule I have learned about understanding women is Don’t try to understand women.
That being said, I do have some advice for women getting their swoon on over James Bond.
Nyet. Stop. Don’t do it. Turn around. Walk away.
Most women who get to meet James Bond’s secret agent either end up mysteriously disappearing, or dead. DEAD!
Five For Friday
Five honeys I had a crush on in the ‘80’s (First names only; I have to make you work for it):
- Gabriel (many people thought her name was Nena)
- Jennifer (no “flash” in the pan)
- Phoebe (Brad Hamilton’s fantasy)
- Leah (Michael J. Fox’s mom)
- Martha (Video Killed the Radio Star)
As God is my Witness…
“As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”
Check Out My Splits
I haven’t seen the sun in several days, so although it was supposed to be an “off” day, I opted to pop out for a lunch time three-miler.
Just call me Mr. Consistent. Or Mr. Wonderful. Your call.
When Black Friday Comes
Does anyone find it ironic the day after the Thanksgiving madness is called “Black Friday”?
Friday, September 24, 1869 is the original “Black Friday” in the United States because of a failed ploy that left many wealthy investors broke. Wealthy investors attempted to corner the market on gold, buying as much of it as they could and therefore driving up the price. However, when the government found out, they released $4 million worth of gold into the market, driving down the price and clobbering the investors.
So either way, “Black Friday” refers to the emptying of wallets…
Perhaps one should just stay at home and listen to Steely Dan’s Black Friday instead.
I Am Going to Hell
Four Day Weekend
Huzzah, a four-day weekend (if you aren’t in retail) is nearly upon us. Travel smart and make good beverage choices. Remember, that Turkey Trot is doing double duty: keeping you healthy and making room for the big meal.
Whatever your tradition, respect your elders and enjoy the moment.
I am going to guess we are still several years from a life of servitude to our Cylon overlords, so it makes sense to embrace technology that benefits me. Never was that technology more important than over the past weekend. Mainly, because I was remiss in remembering said technology was available to me in the “other” closet.
Although I live in the Houston area, I travel enough to experience running in all the different weather the country has to offer. Hence, unlike my regular wardrobe, my running wardrobe affords me much better layering and comfort when temperatures reach frozen nipple levels. Which is a good thing. Because long gone are the days when I would stupidly wear a singlet when it was 35 degrees out, proving absolutely nothing other than perhaps my brain functions needed a tune up.
This past weekend featured nearly identical conditions on both Saturday and Sunday: low 40’s with a wind chill in the 30’s and a wind advisory. Normally I am not one to lament weather conditions, but I have to admit, when I hear the window screens rattling and there is a chill in the air, I give pause because I am convinced the Weather Gods enjoy skylarking just like a sailor on liberty.
The dilemma presented by an ill wind is one that every runner is familiar with. Layers of running shirts do little to block an icy wind that could care less about thread counts and fiber density and depending on the temperature, a running jacket may be required. Further, hand and head gear often must be factored into the equation.
Unfortunately, the functionality of a runner’s careful layering and the running jacket (if they have so chosen) is totally dependent on the direction of the runner’s path and the direction of the wind. Assuming a runner has taken a multi-layered approach to combat the wind, running into the wind is mildly uncomfortable. Conversely, when running with the wind, the runner quickly turns into a rotisserie chicken.
To make matters worse, upon turning back into the wind, the sweat build up can quickly turn to a stinging cold – which pretty much sums up Saturday’s run.
Fortunately, I made a random pass by the “other” closet and discovered an oft-used running jacket with Brooks Shelter Technology. And by “discovered” I mean I “forgot” because I have enough running stuff to outfit Team Jamoosh (which can include up to five runners and a six-pack of beer).
Quick Tangent – I am always at a loss as to why I have so much running stuff. I mean I know why, but I often forget the “what” and the “when.” Did I purchase this because it matches my blue eyes? Did I have to have this because it shows off my finely toned buttocks? Was this a must have because the colors cover up any signs of anal leakage?*
Sunday I headed out with a single light layer and my Brooks Running Jacket and hello technology! I knew there was a reason I purchased this jacket and I was reminded quickly. The Brooks jacket keeps the wind out, but also doesn’t turn my upper torso into a roasting pan. Hooray science!
Now, this isn’t meant to be an advertisement or review for Brooks running apparel, but a note on having the right running gear for the right conditions. The last thing I want is to be forced indoors to a treadmill (insert treadmill running joke here), so from time to time, I try to invest in running gear that actually serves a specific purpose. I just need to remember I own it…
Are there types of weather that provide you with a running apparel conundrum?
*If everyone included an ode to Nitmos in their blog posts, the internet would be a much better place.
I’ve been getting really annoyed with other peoples’ really long race reports. I don’t need a three-part saga about your marathon. It’s not that interesting. Keep it short and waste my time in a more pleasing manner.
Couldn’t agree more. Race reports have turned into a mini-series of minutiae wherein every aspect of marathon weekend must be dissected and commented on with an appropriate amount of trepidation balanced with shout-outs, ‘’bloggy” meet ups, pictures of food, and race day selfies.
Some people treat their marathon blog posts like an in-depth Rolling Stone investigative piece, but instead of a dozen ink-filled pages of engaging prose, the author often provides a multi-part, mile by mile tome that likely has caused more than one English teacher to consider giving it all up and going to work in the fast food industry (sadly, the pay is probably the same).
As a one-time journalism student, some might think I would appreciate the effort to document every last detail. Especially in light of the proliferation of aggregated news stories that are often short on facts and even shorter on substance. But for those who understand column inches and word counts, crafting a good article (or a good blog post) is about engaging the reader and providing the pertinent facts in a limited amount of space.
Granted, the internet provides an unlimited amount of space, but just because it’s there, doesn’t mean it must be used. Blog readers are spending their own time to consume the words virtually appearing on their screens and a good writer/blogger has a duty to respect that.
Lets face it, most (not all) miles are boring. Heck, they are not only boring in print, they are boring when actually running them. There is no need for that narrative.
I have personally made the mistake of a multi-part race report, but quickly learned my lesson. When asking some close friends if they read my race report, the feedback I got was it was “too long” or it was “boring.” Most people really just want to know how I did with a highlight (and/or lowlight) or two. And of course, what beer I had post race.
I have heard the excuse “this is my personal record” or “this is really just for me and my family/friends.” If that’s the case, make your blog private. Oh, and get rid of all the ads and stop doing all those overt things you do to try to increase your number of followers.
The Viper said it all when he said, “Keep it short and waste my time in a more pleasing manner.”
A little rant on a Friday, but as the weekend approaches, it’s time to turn more positive and begin considering what beer to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. May the weather be to your liking, may your runs be well, and above all, make wise beverage choices.
Hark and joy, that time of year is upon us!
I am not talking about the incessant Christmas-themed commercials begging us to scoop up the latest bargains, most of which neither we nor any of our friends or relatives really want or need.
Oh look, an ornament sweater – just what I funking wanted.
No, no, no – the season of runny noses and snot has begun and that can only mean one thing:
Is there any greater joy than feeling the thrust of a snot rocket as it evacuates your nose? I think (s)not. A well-executed launch is a beautiful thing and that momentary cleanse is joyous.
During the colder months, mucous is in great supply, therefore many running paths, sidewalks and (unfortunately) shoulders become frequent landing zones for expelled DNA.
Of course, snot rockets can be hazardous. If your head is not cocked just so, or you forget to compensate for the wind, your sweet new running jacket can become a magnet for wayward nasal phlegm. That’s a “doh” moment just waiting to happen for those who are not cautious.
Sadly, there is one other less than joyful event that occurs on a cold morning run. The faux rocket. My running friends know exactly what I am talking about. The nose is dripping, there’s a build up, the moment has come, ready, aim, nothing but spray.
Spray leads to snot crumbles, that build upon the edges of the nostrils. And once the crumble build-up begins, not even a well launched snot rocket will clear them off. Spray is like the Grinch, trying to suck the fun out of turning nose goo into a projectile that is ejected at speeds that may exceed 100 miles per hour.
Damn you spray!
But even some spray here and there will not temper the elation of a thick gob of mucous propelled from your nostril that easily clears the shoulder and lands harmlessly several feet away.
Ah yes, the snot rocket. Tis the season!
Celebrate with care.
AJH over at Age Groups Rock forwarded a list of craft breweries that a Buzzfeed Community Member feels everyone should visit. Of course, lists such as these are wildly subjective, so I thought, hey allow me to feel the self-important expert too.
Having visited hundreds of breweries and brewpubs myself, it makes sense to put my two cents in (for the sake of this blog which has had a dearth of beer related posts over the last few months). And let’s face it, with inflation and all, my two cents is worth more than your net take home pay.
In no particular order, behold the output of my many beer travels:
Hopworks Urban Brewery – Portland, OR
unwashed; Hopworks has two-thirds of Hippie Culture present in their daily vocabulary, but one would never know it. These guys are bike friendly and brew an excellent selection of well-balanced, tasty organic beers. The food is off the hizzy (do they still say that?) as well. HUB, as it is known, is my Portland tradition.
Stone Brewing – Escondido, CA
I am going to spare you with flowery descriptions of awesomeness, so just go and experience it for yourself.
Ale Asylum – Madison, WI
These guys started with good beer and built out from there. Most folks think of The Great Dane, which is never a bad choice. But I prefer heading northeast toward the Madison Airport for the best pints in Madtown.
Dunedin Brewing – Dunedin, FL
Cigar City, an excellent visit in it’s own right, seems to be front and center of the Tampa Craft Beer Scene, however Dunedin Brewing has that down-home, everybody is welcome feel to it. A little less pretentious/touristy than some of the other craft locations in the Tampa area with excellent brews to boot.
Maui Brewing – Kahana, Maui, HI
While Kona Brewing was expanding their reach, Maui Brewing was busy making some excellent beer. A visit to their brewpub in Kahana provides patrons with a bevy of choices, most brewed right there onsite (their main brewery is just down the road).
Thirsty Pagan Brewing – Superior, WI
Thirsty Pagan is a quintessential hole in the wall, which as far as I can tell is the sole reason people live in Superior, WI.
Great Lakes Brewing – Cleveland, OH
Great Lakes has a solid line-up of beer, but to fully appreciate the experience, take a trip down to the “cellar” and grab a seat at the bar. Tell them “Jamoosh sent you.” On second thought, don’t…
Midnight Sun – Anchorage AK
Love this place. If I ever have to spend a winter in Anchorage, this place will make it bearable. By far the most superior beers in Anchorage and the least touristy of the breweries/brewpubs in town.
Lost Abbey/Port Brewing – San Marcos, CA
At Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, you get a double-shot of goodness. Lost Abbey specializes in Belgian style beers and Port specializes in American style craft beers – UNDER THE SAME ROOF! Win and win.
Dirty Bucket – Woodinville, WA
I have an affection for small breweries doing great things and when Steve Acord opens the “garage” door goodness happens for anyone stopping by for a pint or two. It’s a refreshing break from some of the bigger craft establishments in the Seattle area.
Thirsty Planet – Austin, TX
A little out of the way and featuring beers you can only get in Austin, Thirsty Planet is always on my menu when I visit. If good people = good beer, then dare I say there are some great people here!
Rough Draft – San Diego, CA
A relatively new edition to the awesome San Diego beer scene, these guys are making the beers you want to drink. They are very serious about getting feedback from patrons and tweaking their beers for the benefit of the customer. And they are dog friendly.
And there you have it, a dozen of breweries I like to frequent when I am in or near their respective cities. And by the way…
When visiting a brewery, be sure and check the hours. Don’t assume they are open “regular” hours and of course, drink responsibly and use a designated driver whenever possible.
Howdy kiddies. Fresh off a 27 degree run, I realized it’s that time of year again. When a plethora of running bloggers publish the Clothing and Accessories to Temperature chart. You know the chart I am talking about. It provides guidance for what temperature you should pull on some gloves; when to layer; how many layers; etc. Many of these bloggers will treat the chart as if they themselves brought it down on carved stone from upon high. All of them will essentially be wrong.
Raise your hand if you watched (or ran) the NYC Marathon? Don’t be shy, raise them high so I can see. If you did, you may have noticed a strikingly divisive take on appropriate clothing for the prevailing weather (if you didn’t watch the marathon, just take my word as gospel).
From multiple layers and running tights to shorts and a singlet. Running jackets, arm warmers, leg warmers and a variety of accessories were to be found on some runners, whereas other runners were wearing as little as possible. Did not everyone get the memo? Did not everyone read the hallowed chart? Probably not, because not only are we are all different, but all conditions are not created equal.
There are two things you need to know. First, cold sucks energy just like heat does. Most people forget this. Second, trial and error will be necessary to find what levels of clothing and accessories work for you in varying conditions. That’s all I am going to say on the matter.
Jester King is doing some amazing things with beer. Especially with capturing wild yeast and creating a variety of sour beers. I have tried several of their sour offerings and while they are not in my wheelhouse, I still respect and appreciate what they are trying to do.
To dismiss the work Jester King is doing (as well as those patrons who enjoy their beers) would be taking the narrow view. Never a wise thing and that concludes my motivational moment for the day.
And oh by the way, Jester King does have several other offerings I do enjoy, like the Black Metal Stout for example. Yum…
Virginia is for Lunatics
After multiple projects and multiple months spent in several locations across the state of Virginia, I can safely say Virginia has the worst drivers in these United States.
I will give a pass to those in the Washington DC area because there’s a homogenized cross-section of people from everywhere, but the rest of Virginia is a FAIL.
Do you know how sometimes people have problems figuring it out at four-way stops? Virginians have problems figuring out two-way stops. Random breaking? Check. Inability to merge in a timely fashion? Check. Slowing down for hills – yes, indeed. Potential kamikaze pilots? Oh, yeah.
Sniffing glue would explain a lot of things. Did I miss something? I thought only Colorado and Washington legalized pot.
I have taken to performing Jedi Mind Tricks on myself to remain calm and patient in the face of all this lunacy.
Does your state have lousy drivers?
My first run of my marathon training plan took place yesterday morning and it was a time trial combined with a long run…on The Bridge.
First, I am starting with a time trial so I know where I am beginning. Sure, I could look at my previous weeks running stats, but that’s not the point. I am doing it because I can. Second, all time trials will be run on The Bridge because it is one of the more difficult or challenging courses in the Houston area.
So what is going on here?
Indeed, my fabulous readers!
I have given myself a year to train for my next marathon and it truly is a plan, although the numbers are highly suspect and without a doubt, will change. Which means I am right on track from Day 1.
Seriously, am I messing with you?
Not at all.
My entire Marathon Training plan is achievement based. This means, I will not move to the next phase or stage until I meet a specific achievement. For example, doing a 12 mile time trial (on The Bridge, of course) at or below a specific pace.
This is one of the failings of many marathon training plans. The plan goes on, even if you cannot. In my case, since I have the luxury of time, I move forward when the numbers say I should move forward.
It also means there is a certain amount of flexibility in the plan. Not around missing runs and such, but what the weekly training consists of. Let’s say I am hitting base mileage, but not the time target. I can substitute repeats or other speed work during the week to help bring my time down.
I once took a class that was self-paced. By the middle of the semester students were “all over the book” with respect to progress. One of the reasons is everyone does not learn at the same rate. You should suspect this would be the same for training as well.
If you read my pieces on DNA, a light bulb would be shining brightly, perhaps even blinding you at this very moment. We all don’t train (or more specifically, reap the same benefits from a training session) at the same rate.
Thus, rather than use a training plan that was built backwards six months from insert target race here and designed for “the masses” I am building and modifying the plan as I go, based on my progress.
Please take a moment to bask in the warm glow of my brilliance. I am like a fabulous Fall day.
The plan is pretty simple throughout. The first four months are about building base mileage, strength training and losing weight. The second four months are really the grit of the plan, when I focus on bringing my times down, so that means the integration of speed work. I could easily start speed work earlier, but another key consideration of this training plan is the health of the runner. Speed workouts are more responsible for running injuries than other running workouts, so I want to be in a really good place. Let’s face it, I am not built like a cheetah.
The last phase is all about tweaking. That’s T-W-E-A-K-I-N-G, not “Twerking.” What a difference a letter can make! This is when I nail down my fueling plan, hydration strategy, etc. It gives me time to try a few different things and boost my confidence level from a strategy stand point.
That First Run
I headed to my run Saturday thinking it might be too easy. Not to say that any run on The Bridge is easy. But the weather conditions appeared to be very favorable; 63 degrees and only 74% humidity. However, I neglected to check the wind and was thusly surprised to find 15 mph winds gusting at 20 and 25.
The goal of this run was to check my “comfortable” pace in less than ideal conditions and my choice of The Bridge and the Weather Gods intervention definitely provided a good stage.
At seven miles the marker would be set, and that means I would not look at my watch until then. Checking my times and my splits serves no purpose during this time trial because I am looking for a certain effort not a time target. Knowing the data can cause me to speed up or slow down, thus clock watching is verboten.
The Garmin says – 9:15 with some mildly entertaining splits thanks to the wind. The marker has been set and the training begins.
What About You?
Have you ever worked with a non-standard training plan, or one that is not canned?
For those who don’t know, the Javelina Jundred is a race where you run until you see 100 javelinas; in this case, two miles. Or something like that…
Getting Pulled Up a Bridge
Have you ever had one of those moments? A moment that foretells nothing of the future, but is excellent all the same? A feeling that may or may not repeat itself, but one that is hard to forget?
I rolled out of bed this past Saturday morning with the Kemah-Seabrook Bridge on my mind. I have developed quite an affection for the bridge that stretches just short of a mile, rising over a waterway that connects Clear Lake and the Gulf of Mexico.
Nice temperatures of 65 degrees and the standard 100% humidity greeted me in the morning twilight as I set out for a seven mile excursion, which included traversing the bridge six times.
A gusty crosswind kept most of the cyclists off the bridge save for those travelling to work, leaving the bridge to runners and regular early morning traffic.
The Garmin would later report steady splits for the first six miles, but the 7th mile was for the glory. Running up the windward side of the bridge on the last transition, I couldn’t help but be buffeted a few times. Yet I hardly noticed because an unseen force (perhaps a running angel?) pulled me up the bridge as if there were no incline whatsoever.
(Running Angel, or just an excuse to post a picture of Jessica Alba?)
I knew that last mile would be fast, but sub 8:00 fast? Did not expect that in the least. I felt good and strong as I started that last climb, but was not prepared for the floating feeling (go toward the light…) that engulfed me as the crest of the breached grew closer with each step.
I initially thought the wind was at my back, but no, the crosswind was forceful enough that I knew better. So I just went with it, expecting to be reduced to a wheezing blob of jello before I reached the top. But before I knew it, I was loping down the Kemah side of the bridge. What a feeling!
What a feeling, bein’s believin’
I can’t have it all, now I’m dancin’ for my life
Take your passion, and make it happen
Pictures come alive, you can dance right through your life
Cue the water…
While everyone is talking New York City, I am quietly beginning my Marathon Training Program (“quietly says the the guy with the blog letting everyone know he is beginning marathon training…). It starts out with an upper body workout today and a long run tomorrow. WTF?
What the funk indeed. I’ll explain in my next post.
People in the Mix, the weekend stands before us with open arms. May your races and runs be spectacular, but more importantly may your post run libation be a worthy choice based no your efforts.