Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Memory Walk To End Alzheimer's

Photos by OHventures

Sadly, a recent report revealed those statistics, fueling the fire for those who are fighting to find a cure for this horrific disease.
My paternal Grandfather, Harold, passed away in 2005 after suffering for years from Alzheimer's Disease. I have previously written about how amazing of a man he was, and how difficult it was to watch him spiral downward as Alzheimer's slowly took from him his memory and his mind.
Because of this, I have been wanting for quite some time now to become more active in the cause. I contribute monetarily each paycheck, and I have made other donations along the way as well.

This year, however, I was thankfully able to round up some of my family members (at the last minute, unfortunately, or else there would be more family involved) to take part in the 2013 "Memory" Walk to End Alzheimer's on Saturday, October 12, 2013 in Boardman Park, near Youngstown.

This was one of dozens and dozens of annual walks in which the Alzheimer's Association holds in communities across the country. This is the largest event for the organization, and it's goal is to raise funds for research and public awareness.

I, along with my dog Slider, my mother, father, aunt, and grandmother, all walked in memory of my Grandpa. I created gold medals to wear around our necks adorning a photo of my late grandfather. We joined an already existing team ("BuBu's Bunch, a team that walks in support of my friend Katie's grandmother, who is living with Alzheimer's), so we all wore neon yellow to match their team t-shirts!

Each walker was given a pinwheel flower to carry with them, each a different color to represent different things (blue flowers were for those living with Alzheimer's, orange flowers were to indicate you were walking for the cause, etc.). We carried purple flowers, which meant that we were walking in memory of someone. Purple also happens to be the color of the Alzheimer's Association.

The walk was very short in distance, but took longer than expected. For one, this was because of the large volume of people at the event - a record breaking 800! Secondly, I was walking hand-in-hand with my 81-year-old grandmother, who is a widow due to this terrible illness. She walks at a much slower pace than everyone else, due to her age, her bad knee, and I believe also because it was such a somber event.
With time, we finished the loop through Boardman Park, and we were very happy to have raised over $200 for the cause, and to stop and remember what a great man my grandfather was. We will always miss him, and we hope that one day, no one else will have to suffer the same way he did.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Youngstown Peace Race

Photos by OHventures

Give peace a chance, Youngstown!

If there is anywhere that needs a little peace, it's probably Youngstown. I know, that's not a good thing for a Ohio-supporter to say, but we all know that Youngstown has a reputation. Plus, I am from near there, kinda, and so I have earned the right to say such things, kinda.

In all honesty, the Youngstown metropolitan area is making a noticeable comeback, thanks in part to the Rust Belt Revival movement. Because of a lot of hard work by committed members of the community, the Yo is turning out to be not such a bad place after all. In fact, I often head over that way to visit the Butler Art Institute, eat at the Youngstown Crab Company, and now to run in the Youngstown Peace Race!

However, the Youngstown Peace Race is nothing new. In fact, this year was the 39th annual race, having started during the Vietnam days in 1975 by a local runner named Jack Cessna. He and the other founders the race were looking to bring together athletes from all over the world, uniting peacefully through some friendly competition. The slogan remains: "They come from all over the world. They come for the competition. They come to celebrate peace."
The Peace Race offers a 400 yard children's fun run, a 2 mile race, and a 10K (the main event). My entire family opted to run the 2K race. This was because we had my 2-year-old nephew and 4-year-old niece being pushed in strollers by my mom and aunt, as well as my 10-year-old niece and father running (and they are not quite seasoned enough for a 10K). My sister-in-law and brother and I decided to do the 2 mile run instead of the 10K so that we would all be running the same event.

The start and finish line were located at Federal Plaza in Downtown Youngstown. We got to the very front of the pack and zipped ahead at the sound of the gun. We headed Northeast on Wick Avenue, turning left onto Commerce Street, continuing west until reaching Front Street, where we turned left. The course swooped around to Champion Street, where we turned left. When we reached Commerce Street again, we turned left, circling around back to Federal Street to the finish line.
This event ZOOMED by, so much so that I did not get the chance to soak in much of the scenery on the short course.and I set a new personal record of 14:38 for my 2 mile run! I kept a pretty nice pace the whole way and even SPRINTED the entire span of Federal Street at the conclusion of the course. This wiped me out pretty good. I was huffing and puffing and hurting, but I was also smiling from ear to ear! I never thought I would get under 15 minutes for a 2 mile run! It is difficult to find a pace like that when you are used to having a much slower pace during longer races so that you do not wuss out at the end. My time put me at 50th overall, and 6th in my age group, but that's quite all right by me (plus I am on the much older end of the 20-29 age group!).

My brother was not far behind me, and my sister-in-law was a couple minutes behind us, placing 2nd in her age group, getting a nifty medal! We were able to enjoy the sounds of live music, the tastes of Dunkin Donuts, and the sights of runners from as far away as Kenya! Rain threatened us on race day, but the skies opened wide and awarded us yet another dry race! We had complimentary Rust Belt Brewing drinks at the new Youngstown restaurant Warehouse 50, and gave a big toast to PEACE.

Horseback Riding at Faith Ranch

Photos by OHventures

Time to saddle up!

Horseback riding has been on my Buckeye Bucket List for quite a while now, and it was one that I was beginning to worry I would never accomplish! When I was 17, I got to ride a horse at my sister-in-law’s mother’s house, but it was such a short ride that I barely recall! In essence, I do not count that experience when I was 17 because I am pretty sure it lasted for about 100 yards or so. Plus, it was in Pennsylvania, and we all know that nothing gets checked off of the Buckeye Bucket List that happens outside of Ohio.

Therefore, it was a very pleasant surprise when Faith Ranch contacted me and asked if I wanted to take part in an hour-long trail ride. Located in the city of Jewett, in Carroll County, Faith Ranch is a Christian-based camp with a riding stable and retreat center.

For over 40 years, Faith Ranch has been offering horseback riding adventures by the hour, the day, and even the weekend in a multitude of packages. Many young children come to Faith Ranch on school field trips, scouting events, or on the high adventure horsemanship summer camp to learn about faith, horses, ranch life and friendship while partaking in nature hikes, crafts, archery, pony cart rides, rapelling, cattle round ups, and overnight wilderness excursions. 

In addition to the camp life, there are also group retreats for folks of all ages, which include meals, lodging, horseback riding, hayrides, and other activities for 24-hour or 40-hour periods.You can customize a retreat or even attend a weekend family camp as well.

The great thing about Faith Ranch is that it is open YEAR ROUND and offers horseback trail rides that are charged by the hour. You don't need any experience prior to coming, and you can come alone or in a group! Most folks come to Faith Ranch for the same reason I did: to hop on a horse and explore the 4,000 acre property in the peaceful and secluded countryside. The base rate is only $25 an hour, which is a steal (it's even cheaper if you have a larger group)! If you prefer to come and take private or group riding lessons prior to tackling a trail, Faith Ranch has you covered on that end, too!

I arrived at Faith Ranch for a quick hour-long trail ride. I was a bit nervous - more nervous than when I went ziplining, but not as nervous as when I went skydiving, to put it into perspective.  A short prayer precedes each trail ride, which is good for a number of reasons. For starters, I am Christian and so there’s never a bad time to pray. And secondly, I was scared out of my wits to get on top of this large animal and trot around unknown terrain with zero experience. I was going to need all the prayer I could get!

Jokes aside, the trail guides (Candy and Dave) assured me that everything would be safe, and they even provided me with a helmet. Candy and Dave had many years of experience working not only at Faith Ranch but with their own horses up near Cleveland. We were in good hands, spiritually and physically (and legally, too, given that I signed a waiver and all)!

After a few awkward minutes on the horse (whose name was Presence), I started to get the hang of things, and even got to the point where I was able to relax and enjoy the ride! As expected, the scenery was fantastic, and the horses were so gentle and magnificent.

I had so much fun chatting with Candy and Dave as they guided me along the trail, pointing out local landmarks and telling stories of all of their years at the ranch. They taught me a great deal about riding a horse: how to hold the reigns and the proper words to say to the horse to get him to go (WALK) or stop (WOAH) or trot (TROT, naturally). The trotting was pretty thrilling, as was going downhill!

The hour long ride went by so quickly, and I had only wished that I had booked a longer trip. But, it probably was for the best, as my entire rear end was already sore from the saddle. Either I need more experience on horses, or I need more padding on my butt. Either way, I sadly had to end the trail ride and say goodbye to Candy, Dave, and of course Presence. 

Next time I come, I will be bringing my whole family along, and we will most definitely schedule more than just a one hour ride. There is so much to see and do at Faith Ranch that you need much more time than that! Thanks again to the fine folks at Faith Ranch for this wonderful OHventure.

Maybe I should stick to fake horses?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Akron Marathon Relay Recap

Photos by OHventures 

Follow the blue line!

That was the mantra of the day. Much like Dorothy's Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz, I had to follow the blue painted line that ran along the course of the Akron Marathon on the morning of Saturday, September 28, 2013. But unlike Dorothy, I had to RUN the whole way and do so alongside 1,977 marathon runners, 4,647 half marathon runners, and 1,256 5-person relay teams!

I had the honor of running the second leg for the cleverly titled relay team, "Running For Donuts." My spitfire of a friend Katie (of Stark County Brace Against Hunger 5K and Life Is Katetastic fame) conned me into joining her and 3 strangers (up until the race, that is) in doing the relay portion of the 11th Annual Akron Marathon, sponsored by Time Warner Cable.

For whatever reason unbeknownst to me, the team name "Running For Donuts" was conceived, even though I knew I wouldn't be eating donuts anytime soon (stupid diet). We all had to pick donut monikers, mine being Michael "Glazed" Evans. Others on the team were Bearclaw (Katie), Apple Fritter (Jason), Cream Puff (Jodi), and Vegan Sprinkle (Mandy). I'm still a bit perplexed by the vegan sprinkle choice myself, but that's neither here nor there! 

As team members, we had some gross looking bright baby pink t-shirts with a funny cartoon of a stick figure chasing after a scared shitless anthropomorphic donut. While the color was pretty fug to me, it came in handy when trying to spot our teammates in the crowd, and made us pretty noticeable to onlookers who would periodically shout "GO DONUTS!" on the route.

I was actually a replacement team member, because someone else had to drop out because she was too preggo to run. So this was all very spontaneous and new to me. This was my very first relay race (other than middle school and high school track where I still hold a 1999 county record for the 4x400 meter relay, thank you very much!). Instead of passing a baton like in track, we had a slap bracelet that we wore, took off, then slapped on to the wrist of the next teammate. Clever girl! 

Funniest part was, I had no idea what my teammates looked like who were running in leg 1 and leg 2, and therefore I didn't know who to look for! That's where the shirts (and Facebook) came in handy! Woo! Also, I did meet Jodi (leg 1) the night before at the expo, but still.

Spoiler Alert! We finished and got medals! And those are FAKE donuts!

Speaking of the expo, I managed to score a lot of random free stuff, stock up on Gu and Clif Bars, learn about a buttload of upcoming races, and buy me some new running shorts (emphasis on SHORT). Plus, 3/5ths of the Running For Donuts team scarfed down some spag at the Spaghetti Warehouse to do some carb loading. Apple Fritter and Vegan Sprinkle missed out on that one.

Anyhow. So, the race began at 7AM, but me being the 2nd leg of the relay meant that I had no flipping clue as to when I was starting. I wasn't sure how fast Cream Puff would be running, so I just had to guesstimate. The first leg was 3.9 miles, so I guessed she would come trucking in around 7:40. I think that was about accurate. All I know is that the second that slap bracelet was slapped on my wrist, I was booking it!

My leg was 4.8 miles, which was smack dab in the middle as far as length goes (meaning there were two legs of shorter distance and two legs of longer distance than my leg. Legs, legs, legs!). Thank God for that blue line because I don't know my way around Akron too well yet. I did look up the route for my leg and it started at the corner of Rosa Parks & High Streets, went South toward the Main Street ramp where it merged with the marathon and half marathon runners (AKA the real runners), continued on South Main Street, turned left onto East Firestone, left onto North Firestone, and left on Brown until I reached the exchange zone, where I would pass off the bracelet to the Apple Fritter dude.

The weather was PERRRRFFFEECT - completely blue skies and just the right temperature! The sun was rising as I ran, so it made it even more beautiful to see the morning skyline in the Rubber City. Even though I think some of the area of town I ran in was a bit sketch, it was still gorgeous. Akron really is a kickass city, and it doesn't get the credit it deserves. All the people cheering us on along the way - on each and every street corner - showed that the community is strong and vibrant! I am proud to be working here now, and kept soaking it in as I ran.

The euphoria must have helped, because I ran at a pretty darn good pace the entire way, if I do say so myself. My time was 0:39:40 for 4.8 miles, which is almost exactly an 8 minute mile. I was THRILLED with my performance. And, I was even more thrilled with my team's overall performance! After all of the donuts were done, and Katie - oops, I mean Bearclaw - crossed the finish line, we discovered we clocked in at 4:00:22! This placed us at 261st place out of 1,256 teams. Now THAT is pretty awesome.

Dudes wearing pink and drinkin Mich Ultra - not a good look.

While there were no donuts at the finish line, we all celebrated at Canal Park with free Michelob Light (times 4), munchies, and live music! I also got to see my friend Emily cross the finish line for the half marathon (her first ever) with some tears of pride streaming down her face! I know the feeling, and I am very proud of her. I also got to witness a very heartwarming and triumphant feat: one runner completed the entire full marathon all while pushing his disabled friend across the finish line in a wheelchair device! It was very inspiring and I got choked up watching it (Katie does a great write up about this on her blog).

Overall, I again am so thrilled that I got the chance to participate in the AkRUN Marathon (see what I did there?) and get to experience my new home city as a runner. Thanks, random girl, for getting pregnant so I could take your place in the relay ;-)!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Rubber City Clothing

Photo by OHventures

18 N. High Street
Akron, OH 44308
(330) 434-4722
Akron is on the rise, and it's time to take notice! One way you can tell this is certain is by seeing more and more people donning Akron-themed and Akron-made digs from the small downtown boutique, Rubber City Clothing. As a new employee in downtown Akron, this much needed retail shop caught my eye and has stolen my heart.
Located right by the Akron Museum of Art and the out-of-this-world restaurant Crave, Rubber City Clothing is definitely worth a look! Rust belt pride is in, and there is no better place to get Akron apparel than at Rubber City Clothing.
RCC has everything from t-shirts to hoodies to baby onesies - all with witty and creative Akron themed designs, such as my personal favorite "Jesus Loves Akron." I stopped in the store and in no time purchased the "Enjoy Akron" shirt, which takes the recognizable design of Coca Cola and spices it up to give it the attitude of the historical "Rubber Capital of the World."
Other spirited designs are: "Raised in Summit County," "Do Not Park on the Devil Strip," (which references a well-known colloquialism in the Akron area), "The North Hill" (a neighborhood in Akron with a design resembling the popular clothing brand The North Face), A K Rowdy (what the kids call Akron), "330" (the area code), "Route 8" (the major area thoroughfare), "I Heart Akro-Americans," a shirt with a tire-tread design, and the famous Goodyear Blimp design, to name a few.

If you live, work, or play in Akron, you've taken an OHventure to Akron, or if you simply love the Rubber City and what it offers, make it a point to get yourself a shirt from Rubber City Clothing.

Local Ohio Art For Sale!

Photo by OHventures

At OHventures, we support all things Ohio-related, and that includes handmade original artwork made by Ohio artists! I could not pass up the opportunity to promote my father's amazing art pieces he has created over the years and is just now beginning to put up for sale for the public!

Just in time for the holidays, OHventures is selling original solid wood (maple) hand carved and hand painted decorative Santa Claus pieces, pictured above.

The Santa pieces stand at approximately 42 inches or 44 inches tall and stand on their own. It can be displayed indoors or outdoors during the holidays.

In addition, we are selling his tiki man sculpture that stands at 36 inches exactly and is made out of purse quaking aspen.

All pieces are carved using a chainsaw, chisel, and other hand tools!

The items are priced at or around $200 each.

Inquire via email and we can arrange for you to see the piece if you are interested! Special orders may be discussed as well.

Made with pride in Youngstown! Spread the word!

Sugardaddy's Sumptuous Sweeties

Walking through Columbus' Pearl Alley Market one Friday afternoon, I was approached by a young lady with a tray of samples with brownies and what she called "blondies." I typically don't go gaga over desserts, but when given a small morsel of a blondie from Sugardaddy's Sumptuous Sweeties, I just HAD to have more. A "blondie" is a rather new term to me, so it immediately gave Sugardaddy's a unique appeal. Blondies are vanilla versions of brownies and are absolutely delicious.

Sugardaddy's Sumptuous Sweeties is located at the corner of High & Gay in downtown Columbus (111 East Gay Street, Columbus). There are two additional locations at Polaris (1329 Cameron Avenue, Lewis Center) and Easton (11 Easton Town Center, Columbus). The stores ship nationally, and have had recognition on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Food Network.

I stopped back after my free sample to go buy some blondies. Inside they have a pretty vivid decor which I found to be pretty neat, even though it's pink and frilly, it was bold and fresh. I came to find there were even more samples inside, so I was able to find my favorites before I bought them.

The blondies and brownies are shaped like a hockey puck and are $3 a piece. I found this to be pretty reasonable, especially for the quality. I chose the strawberry-peanut butter blondie (which reminds me of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich) and the drunken chunky blondie (chocolate chips & walnuts). I will say that I had a taste of my friend's chai blondie and I was not a fan. However, the ones I bought were fantastic. They are not too sweet and have the perfect texture.

There are a good number of blondies and brownies to choose from, but there is not much else going on in that store. I really thought there would be more than there was. They had bits of brownies & blondies packaged as "spare change" which was clever, and cheesecakes on dis[;ay. They make a PERFECT gift to send to others anywhere in the country!!

I recommend Sugdaddy's even if you don't have a sweet tooth (like me).

Teamwork Is Dreamwork

The following is a special guest blog post by Johnathon of the blog Building United, a blog for those with a vested interest in living a life full on consistent personal and professional growth. Johnathon often uses his running experiences as a backdrop for his teaching of life lessons and self discovery. Building United aims to help people think positive, be positive, and do positive. The blog is truly inspiring, and we hope you enjoy the guest post below entitled "Teamwork Is Dreamwork."
It came out of nowhere when I heard it. My buddy Jeff and I were nearing the final miles of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon this past May. I was running bandit style (no bib on my shirt) as Jeff was on his way to qualifying for Boston in his second ever marathon. The crowd began to increase in size over the last few miles.

As we approached a water station, I grabbed both Gatorade and water so Jeff did not have to worry about moving anymore than he physically had to. As I handed one of the cups to him, a spectator yelled out, “Teamwork is Dreamwork!”

Often times, running can become very much an individual task. Battling the inner demons and physical pains as the body gets absolutely battered at different points in time. Inside of each runner is that self-motivation and intrinsic reward in telling yourself not only can I do this, but I will do it. Through our own personal goals, be it in running, work, faith or life in general, it is easy to want to become self-absorbed and make everything a ‘one-man show’.

Looking back in history, there have been several men and women who have become legends for years to come and have established benchmarks in their respective fields. Amelia Earhart is the first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Sure, she had a desire to learn aviation, and she accomplished this feat as a solo flight. Behind the scenes, Neta Snook taught Amelia to fly, and thus enabled her to achieve her dreams – just one example of teamwork contributing to the success of an individual.

These examples are in every corner and crevice of the earth. Behind each great performer is a great mentor, a brilliant educator, and often times, an amazing friend. I can honestly say that everyone needs to have at least one of this type of person in his or her daily life. By no means does your ‘team’ have to bring you the Presidency or earn you a million dollars. To be frank, this one person simply needs to support you in all of your endeavors, encourage you in all tasks, and genuinely care and love you for all that you are. As a team, if you can reciprocate these feelings and emotions with one another, your individual efforts will lead to a team victory.

In my own life, I have been blessed to have a person of this nature by my side for three years exactly on this date (June 30, 2013). She pushes me, she motivates me, and she inspires me to attain all that I can. Without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, nor would I have achieved all that I have in the past three years.

Words can’t express how thankful I am to have Jessica in my life. Although we have spent thousands of miles apart for extended periods of time, our teamwork helped us to maintain our strength and fight each and everyday in bettering ourselves and one another. One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is from Rudy. In the movie, Rudy’s best friend Pete surprises Rudy on his birthday with a cupcake and a leather Notre Dame jacket. Rudy had always dreamed of going to Notre Dame and knew Pete didn’t have a lot of money. Pete simply looked at Rudy and said: “HAVING DREAMS IS WHAT MAKES LIFE TOLERABLE.”

Columbus Oktoberfest Brat Trot Photo Blog

Who: Runners and German enthusiasts alike!
When: September 27, 2013
Why: To compete in a race whilst wearing lederhosen and then gobbling on German sausages and guzzling German bier!
How: Sign up next year by subscribing to M3S Sports!
Photos by J. Speight for OHventures