Monday, April 30, 2012

The Final Stretch!

The Capital City Half Marathon is just 5 days away! I don't even know what to think. I have mixed feelings of nerves, butterflies, and excitement! Overall, I am thrilled and proud to be a part of something so huge and meaningful, and for being one of 13,000 participants running on Saturday, May 5!

The above video shows David Babner,Race Coordinator, whom I had the chance to meet back in January at the Race Kickoff Event. In the video, he takes you on a guide through the 13.1 mile course that looks both daunting yet exciting!

The start of the race will be at the brand new Scioto Mile which is one of my favorite places in the entire city. It's so beautiful next to the Scioto River, and it will be a great backdrop for the beginning of the race!

We run to Olentangy River Rd., north to Lane Avenue, where we will pass the Ohio Stadium, or "Horseshoe" where I have attended countless Buckeyes football games, and also where my commencement ceremony took place when I graduated from OSU.

Then, we will turn onto High Street and run south through OSU Campus (my old stomping grounds), The Short North (my current stomping grounds), Downtown (where I work), and German Village!

The course will then wrap around and finish at the new green space in the city, The Columbus Commons. This is where the HUGE after party will take place with 32 bands, 18 DJs, champagne, and FUN!

I hope to see you there at the finish line!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Statewide Walking Challenge

Photo by OHventures

The Ohio Statewide Walking Challenge is underway! It started early last week on Monday, April 16 and will last through June 10. The purpose of the Challenge is to get state employees who sit at a desk all day (such as myself) to stop being so sedentary and start moving! We wear a very sophisticated Omron Pedometer that digitally tracks each step we take and stores the stats for seven days. Each day, we are to enter the number of steps taken. Teams are formed throughout the state to compete against other teams to see who has taken the most steps during the Challenge!

Even if you are not an employee of the State of Ohio, you too can have your very own "walking challenge" by wearing a pedometer and setting a goal. My goal is 7,000 steps per day. In the past two weeks, I have averaged that amount. Some days, I have had around 5,000 steps, while other days (like today) I had 11,000 steps (due to an evening run).

Here are five tips to utilize in your every day life that can help you step away from your desk and add a bit of fitness to your daily routine. Even minor changes can make a big difference in your health and well-being!

1. Take The Stairs: Not only do me and my coworker, Stephanie, take the stairs every day, we also outdo ourselves by climbing the stairs above and beyond the floor we work on! Since we work on the 2nd floor, and our building as only 4 floors (5 including the stairs to the basement), we walk the entire length of the stairwell each morning before we start work! Walking the stairs is great for the calves (mine are sore now)!

2. Park Far Away: We have an enormous parking lot at my place of employment. Even when I don't have to, I park on the far end of the lot to get a brisk walk in before heading inside the office. This gives me a bit of sunshine and helps me wake up before it's crunch time at the computer. Unless it's raining, it's actually a very enjoyable jaunt! If you park far away, you'll inevitably have to revisit that morning walk at the end of the day when leaving for home!

3. Walk at Lunch: On my lunch break, before I grab my grub, I will take a stroll around the perimeter of our building (outside if it's nice, inside if it's rainy). Not only does this break up the monotony of being in the cubicle, it also helps speed up my metabolism and offset any "bad" foods I might be eating for lunch that day (carbohydrates, fats, sugars).

4. Set Calendar Reminders: Calendar reminders are a godsend at work; they help remind me when upcoming meetings are taking place when I lose track of time or completely forget! A little tip is to add workouts and walking appointments (or other cardio activities) on your Outlook or other desktop calendar. Set a reminder a couple of hours ahead of time, and you'll be more likely to actually follow through with your scheduled activity!

5. Have Fun With It!: Walking seems boring, but it can be fun! Simply "challenging" coworkers, friends or family in a format similar to the Statewide Walking Challenge can add an element of competition and excitement to an otherwise mundane activity. Doing it with a friend, walking the dog (or a friend''s dog), walking in a scenic park, or even at a shopping mall can also make walking more exciting!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Writers Talk Video

As I previously posted, I had the distinct honor and privilege to appear as a guest on Ohio State University's "Writers Talk," a talk show dedicated to discussing all things writing. The show is put on by the OSU Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing (CSTW) and since I am an alumnus of OSU, I was extremely excited to appear on the show to discuss web writing with fellow blogger Nicholas Dekkar of the popular Ohio blog, Breakfast With Nick

The interview aired on the radio, and since my last post about Writers Talk, it has been posted on YouTube! I get a bit lengthy and chatty with some of my responses, but I was a bit nervous - it was my first ever recorded interview, after all!

Thanks again to Doug Dangler, Shantay Piazza, and Chad Weiss for the opportunity for me to appear on Writers Talk and share OHventures with their viewers!

Vote Derek Dorsett for MVP!

Photo Courtesy of The Other Paper

The Columbus Blue Jackets are looking to their fans to vote for the 2012 Most Valuable Player award! My friend, Blue Jackets player, and former Featured OHventurer, Derek Dorsett is up for the award and definitely deserves it! He works his ass off to kick ass each game, and I encourage you to vote for him! The contest lasts until the end of the month! So hurry up and vote for Derek Dorsett for Columbus Blue Jackets MVP up until Monday, April 30! Thanks so much!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Put-In-Bay Getaway!

Photos by OHventures

Why bother planning a Spring Break trip or a summertime vacation to far off places like Florida or Mexico, when you can take a getaway to Ohio's own Put-In-Bay? Put-In-Bay is an extremely popular tourist destination in Ohio that thrives during the months of April-October, which is prime season for outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking and swimming. It is located on South Bass Island in Western Lake Erie, and is a part of Ottawa County. The island is 12 miles from the Ohio mainland, and is the third largest Ohio island. Only about 150 people actually live on the small island, but many tens of thousands visit annually!

I recommend booking a hotel and staying at least one night so you can fully enjoy the nightlife and the true Put-In-Bay experience! Below is a list of 10 Things to do on a Put-In-Bay Getaway!

1. Ride The Ferry!: This is sort of a given! Since you cannot drive directly to Put-In-Bay, you will have to plan ahead and park your car on shore (or pay to have delivered on the ferry). The Jet Express Ferry leaves from both Sandusky and Port Clinton and is always a memorable ride! I have been to Put-In-Bay numerous times, and the ferry ride is always a highlight! However, the real fun begins when you arrive!

2. Rent a Golf Cart!: Renting a golf cart is the easiest, most fun and most popular way to get around the island. Odds are you did not pay to have your car delivered on the ferry, and that’s OK! Island goers (adults and children alike) are encouraged to travel by golf cart on Put in Bay. Not only do they get you from place-to-place, but you get to enjoy a different sort of transportation that is fun for everyone you’re with!


3. Climb Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial: Perry's Memorial was erected in 1936 to commemorate one of the most significant events in the War of 1812, the Battle of Lake Erie. It is named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry who led the victory of the battle. This enormous memorial is a column stretching 352 feet into the sky, making it the tallest "Doric" column in the entire world, and fourth tallest monument in the United States. As of April 30, renovations will be completed and visitors will once again be able to climb to the top of the observation deck!

4. Taste Some Wine: The Heineman Winery at Put-In-Bay has got to be my favorite winery I have been to in Ohio. The fantastic wine offerings are due to Put-In-Bay's rich island soil that helps grow some of the highest quality grapes in the state. Daily tours are offered 11AM - 5PM in which you get complimentary samples of wine. The Pink Catawba is one of the most popular wines. I suggest you get a bottle of that and some of the others to stock up on, since getting to Put-In-Bay is not the easiest of trips.

5. Explore Crystal Cave: As its name suggests, it is a cave full of "crystals" (really, a blueish mineral called celestite) and is the largest geode (a rock cavity with crystals inside) in the WORLD. Most geodes you cannot even put your hand inside, yet this one you can WALK inside. You can get tours of this while also touring the Heineman Winery. This is truly one of the most unique attractions in the whole state!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Youngstown Crab Company

Photos by OHventures

3917 Belmont Avenue
Youngstown, OH 44505
(330) 759-5480

Growing up near Youngstown, I have long known the splendor that is the Youngstown Crab Company. Throughout my travels, I have even seen billboards for this well-respected restaurant as far away as Canton and Wooster (over an hour away)! Youngstown (or any Ohio locale) is admittedly, a place you probably wouldn't peg as having amazing seafood. However, this place will knock your socks off with its quality of food.

This place is more than a few notches above your run-of-the-mill Joe's Crab Shack or Red Lobster. If you're willing to dish out a few more bucks than normal for a meal, then you should be sure to treat yourself to the Youngstown Crab Company for an absolutely delicious meal of crab legs, mussels, steaks, and other seafoods. It's a favorite dining destination for me and my family, and I recently went there as a birthday gift to my taste buds!

The Youngstown Crab Company is one of the only places around that you can get fresh raw oysters on the half shelf, tantalizing lobster, and, naturally, fantastic crab! One of my favorite crab dishes is the appetizer of spicy crab and shrimp queso (pictured directly above). The clam chowder and shrimp gumbo are also fan favorites!

For dinner, I recommend the cajun linguini alfredo with sea scallops, or the tilapia and crab au gratin (both pictured at the top of the post). And, you can not go wrong asking what the fresh fish catches are for the day!

As an added bonus, the Youngstown Crab Company has an enormous bar with ample seating and fantastic drinks, including its famous "Parrot Punch" (which comes in a souvenir parrot-shaped glass), and a long list of craft beers. There are also real life parrots in cages by the bar that will interact and talk back to humans (which gets more and more fun the more drinks you have in you). 

Running To Fight Cancer

When we're kids, we feel like we're invincible. When we're teenagers, we feel beyond invincible. And when we're in college, we feel beyond beyond invincible! It takes us humans a bit of time to step back and realize that time is precious, our days are numbered, and our lives are gifts!

Perhaps my recent birthday (27!) has made me feel more and more connected with these concepts. I've come to realize even more how important it is to know that getting older is a privilege. It's easy to complain about how "old" we are getting just because we might not get carded at a bar anymore, or a few gray hairs are sprouting here and there.

But, we must remember that not everyone gets the opportunity to age and live to be old like our grandparents. For some people, like those afflicted with cancer, time is even more precious, the days are more clearly numbered, and life is the biggest gift under the tree.

That is why I love so dearly the message of the American Cancer Society, and their inspiring slogan "The Official Sponsor of Birthdays." It's simple yet moving. It's powerful and profound. I can not wrap my head around the startling statistics and heart wrenching stories we hear (and don't hear) of those whose lives have been changed because of a cancer diagnosis. Some survive, and some do not; but they all must fight in hopes to see more birthdays.

We all have the stories of those in our lives who have had to put up that encumbering and painstaking fight. My friend's father who passed away from colon cancer fought so strongly that he lived years after any doctor had ever expected. My friend's mother who passed away from skin cancer fought in such a way that her beauty and joy and amazing smile remained until her last days (and still lives on inside of us). Sadly, these stories can go on and on.

The American Cancer Society fights too. This organization raises millions of dollars a year for cancer research so that we can one day find a cure. And, since no one is immune from this terrible disease, ACS also looks to find ways to prevent cancer from happening more and more.

I am so happy to be running as a part of the American Cancer Society's DeterimiNation Team for the Capital City Half Marathon. I have raised nearly $1,300 so far and am so happy to know that every mile I run will go towards helping people celebrate more birthdays.

I have experienced "runner's knee" during my training, which I have been trying to cure with IT band stretches on a foam roller, more shoe support, glucosamine chondroitin, a knee brace, ice, heat, and rest. But the best way for me to overcome the pain in my knee is to think about all of those who suffered (and continue to suffer) far, far, far greater than me with cancer. Those I truly am humbled to have the ability to complete this race (even if I do have a knee that is acting up).

Not everyone has the ability to run a race, either because they are too ill, or no longer with us. I am running this race for my friend's mother, my other friend's father, and all of the countless people who have or have had cancer.

Please consider donating either to my race, or to the American Cancer Society in general in order to help others celebrate more birthdays.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

OHventures Turns 1!

Cake by Cake Central

OHventures has reached the one year mark and is celebrating its "birthday" today, April 12! It's by no coincidence that this monumental occasion also falls on my very own birthday. This blog was a birthday gift to myself, because I wanted an outlet to express my creative writing and share my stories of all the cool things I have seen and done in Ohio.

I want to thank all of the great followers and readers for their support and encouragement over the past year. It truly is what has kept me writing, and it has helped me find my voice! 

Through OHventures this past year, I have been able to expose readers to the Buckeye Bucket List, writing about a laundry list of awesome activities, including canoeing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, parasailing, ziplining, paddle boating, boating, kayaking, trampolining, boxing, skydiving, wine tasting, caving, running, skiing, winter hiking, urban hiking, and MORE! 

And I have been to cities like Akron, Canton, Toledo, Chillicothe, Youngstown, Columbus, Zanesville, and countless others. I've visited restaurants like Der Dutchmann, Kewpee Burger, Crave, Schmidt's Sausage Haus, and more. And I have written about Ohio landmarks like the Statehouse, the Harding Memorial and the Mansfield Reformatory; as well as staple events such as Warrior Dash, Pelotonia and the Ohio State Fair. 

It wasn't all about me either: my "Featured OHventurer" series introduced readers to awesome Ohioans like Columbus Blue Jackets player Derek Dorsett, Zanesville anchorwoman Kelly Mills, and recording artist Ryan Humbert.

In the past year, the blog has evolved and grown a great deal. Aside from growing in readership, we also were able to reach new audiences by being featured on radio and in print! We were published in Columbus Alive as the Weekly Q&A Feature, and we appeared on the OSU Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing radio show "Writers Talk." Additionally, I am now a guest blogger on Ohio's official tourism blog, Discovering Ohio. You can also find my business cards at the Ohio-centric boutique, Celebrate Local at Easton Town Center, and soon can catch me as a "celebrity runner" in the Capital City Half Marathon, which I am currently training for!

All of this momentum is extremely thrilling!! Over the past year, I have started a new job, moved to a new apartment, traveled to Florida and Nashville two times each, celebrated the birth of my nephew, attended numerous weddings, and the list goes on. While at times these life events have prevented me from writing as much as I would like, I promise that OHventures is a huge passion of mine that I will never let collect dust and fade away! I am in this for the long haul, and there is much more ground to be covered. 

I have tons more in store for the second year of OHventures (and the third, fourth, and so on!). I am so glad to have every reader by my side on these crazy adventures! Thanks again!