Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Running Recap 2015!

Photo by Zipper City Blog

Most all runners love to look back at the end of each year to reflect on their accomplishments and milestones. While I only ran in 10 races this year (as compared to 14 in 2015 and 20 in 2013), many of them were significant in my career: I ran in one of my fastest 5Ks ever (Warren Fit 5K in 23:02) and I ran in my 3rd ever half marathon (the Pro Football Hall Of Fame Half Marathon in Canton). In addition, I did some runs that had a fun element or theme added in unlike any I have done before (such as carrying a pumpkin the entire way in the Great Pumpkin Run and stopping to chug beers in the Ultimate Beer Run).

Included on the list is one run that was not done in Ohio (the Across The Bay 10K). I do feel a bit like a cheater for putting that race on this site. But, it was a very significant race for me in 2015! Either way, I am happy to have successfully completed over 47 competitive miles in one year!
Below, you can find links to all 10 of these events from 2015 in chronological order! Hopefully these can give your ideas for races you can run in the New Year!
1. Pro Football Hall of Fame (Half) Marathon (April 2015 – 13.1 miles in 2:08:00 - Canton)
2. AkRun & Crawl (May 2015 – 3.1 miles in 24:45 – Merriman Valley)
3. Ultimate Beer Run (May 2015 – 2 miles, in about 1 hour, with beer stops - Columbus)
4. Thirsty Dog 8K (June 2015 – 4.97 miles in 42:37 - Akron)
5. Warrior Dash Ohio II (August 2015 – 3.1 miles, untimed – North Lawrence)
6. Warren Fit 5K (August 2015 – 3.1 miles in 23:02 - Warren)
7. Wellness Walk & Run (September 2015 – 3.1 miles, untimed - Stow)
8. Akron Marathon Relay Team (September 2015 – 5.8 miles in approx. 48:00 - Akron)
9. Great Pumpkin Run Cincinnati (October 2015 – 3.1 miles in approx. 31:00 - Clarksville)
10. Across The Bay 10K (November 2015 – 6.2 miles in 58:21 – Chesapeake Bay, MD)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Discover The Best Ohio Bars To Catch Up With Friends!

The Federal in Youngstown - Photos by OHventures

Nothing brings people together more than the holiday season. Each year, we look forward to catching up with friends who have come from near and far back to their hometowns. Some of the best places to go to spread the warmth and cheer of the holidays is at your local watering holes.

While bars and pubs can be a dime a dozen in some areas, there are some that stand out above the rest with a certain charm and cool factor. Below are some of those bars that are worth a visit when you're meeting up with old friends and family.

Thirsty Dog

Akron
In Akron, the Thirsty Dog Brewing Company has been concocting tasty beers since 1997. But only recently have they opened their very own Tasting Room, located right on site in the room next to where the stuff is brewed! Found near the University of Akron, this nondescript building lures you in with the aroma of freshly brewed hops. Try the canine-themed beers, such as Whippet Wheat, Irish Setter Red, and of course the 12 Dogs of Christmas!

If beer is not your style, consider heading to Jilly's Music Room on the North Side, where you can get cocktails in a modern and sleek setting while enjoying local live music!


Athens
My pal Jake always shows me some great places when I visit Athens in Southeast Ohio, and one that I will never forget is Tony's Tavern. This is a dive bar where everybody knows your name, and where the house specialty is a shot called the hot nut - made with hot coffee and hazelnut liquor. They are delicious, cheap, and a lot of fun!

Another go-to spot for OU alum and other folks who come back into town is The Pub. Here, they are known for their aquariums of beer and for having the best cheeseburgers in town (according to Jake)!


Buzzbin Art & Music Shop

Canton
If downtown Canton is where you are heading for the holidays, then Buzzbin Art & Music Shop is the destination for you. The atmosphere is eclectic and one-of-a-kind, with a counter made entirely of bottle caps, and an adjacent arcade full of vintage pinball machines. The crowd is great for people watching, and you never know what genre of music will be blaring from the stage that night.

Rhinegeist Brewery


Cincinnati
Rhinegeist Brewery is a brewery situated in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Over The Rhine in Cincinnati. The wide open interior is available to reserve for private events, or you can come anytime to play cornhole, ping pong, foosball, or watch a ball game - all while relaxing with some locally brewed booze. Take a tour to learn about the history, or enjoy the awesome rooftop bar for a 360-degree view of Cincinnati.

Cleveland
We all know that Cleveland rocks, which you can experience for yourself by going to popular music bars such as Euclid Tavern, an old staple of University Circle, which was recently featured on an episode of "Drunk History."

For something new and different, try Punch Bowl Social, located in the Flats neighborhood. It's a bar that focuses on entertainment and games, including bowling, ping pong, karaoke, board games, foosball, video games, shuffleboard, and more! You can't go wrong competing with friends over drinks and games!

Bodega

Kingmaker's


Columbus
It was extremely difficult to choose just one, but my favorite bar in the Short North is Bodega, which is a "hipster" hangout perfect for a small group of close friends. Bodega has been recently renovated and is known for its endless array of draught beers, to-die-for grilled cheese, and a charming crowd of cool kids.

For something really different, you should head down the street from Bodega to Kingmaker's Board Game Parlour. offers over 500 unique board games paired alongside a nice selection of cocktails and beers on draft. Visitors are required to pay a $5 "library fee" that lasts the entire night, and allows them to play any and all of the board games of their choosing.


Blind Bob's

Dayton
The Oregon District is the place to be for nightlife in Dayton. My personal pick is Blind Bob's, a great  mom & pop spot for people in search of a few drinks, good ol' fashioned bar food, some rockin' karaoke, and even "Battle of the Bands" events. Not to mention, the fried pickles are the tastiest I have ever had!

Another fine choice, as told to me by my pal Dan, is The Century Bar, a bourbon and whiskey house. Even if you don't like bourbon, the folks at The Century claim that they can make anyone a bourbon drinker, even those with the most discriminating palate.


Toledo
One of the newest additions to the downtown Toledo scene is also one of the must-visit places. M'Osteria & Bar is situated right between both stadiums, and is a perfect mix of old and new. There's a wraparound bar and open kitchen format downstairs, and a classy lounge area with live entertainment upstairs.

You can never go wrong with heading to the famous Tony Packo's to chow down on chili, and to check out the hot dog bun collection.


Youngstown
For those of you who watch the TV show "Bar Rescue," you might be familiar with The Federal. This recently transformed bar in downtown Youngstown was jam-packed with patrons when I went back home for Thanksgiving - and for good reason! The bar is complete with a dance floor, pool tables, and great drink specials - try the Youngstown Mule, and the Burger Bomb (if you dare).

Right down the block from The Federal is V2 Wine Bar Trattoria, which is definitely worth a visit!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Top 10 OHventures of 2015

2015 brought the most out-of-state adventures and vacations than any other year in the past. I went to Washington,DC; Detroit; Siesta Key, Florida; Chesapeake Bay, Maryland; Las Vegas, and Chicago, to name a few. However, despite the jet-setting across the country, I still stayed true to my Ohio roots! This year brought some of the most high quality and exciting Ohio adventures to date! 

As with every year (see 2012, 2013, and 2014), I give to you the Top 10 OHventures of 2015. There were many to choose from, but if you needed to see the best of the best, here they are (in no particular order)!

Use this list to start planning some awesome bucket list items to do in 2016.

1. VeloSano 100-Mile Bike Ride: This epic fundraising event was held in Cleveland, with over 2,000 cyclists signed up to raise money in the months leading up to their bike rides. I raised over $1,500 for cancer research, rode 100 miles, over 4,000 feet of elevation, in the 90 degree heat, which took about 9 hours!

2. Kalahari Indoor Waterpark & Resort: With the nation's largest indoor waterpark, a candy shop with seemingly endless amounts of treats and desserts, one of the best arcade and gaming areas around, world-class spa treatments, a fitness facility, and a fine selection of adult beverages (including a swim-up bar),Kalahari Resort in Sandusky is anyone's dream come true.

3. Escape To Kelley's Island: Located in Erie County in the western basin of Lake Erie about 4 miles north of the Marblehead peninsula and 10 miles from Sandusky Measuring more than 4 square miles, Kelley's Island is the largest American island located in Lake Erie. Join us as we drink, eat, sightsee, and adventure on the island, and for an added bonus, read about our flight to the island!

4. CryoTherapy Plus: I survived -293 degrees Fahrenheit with Cryotherapy! Cryotherapy is an anti-inflammatory treatment involving skin exposure to ultra-low temperatures for a brief, controlled time, in order to help enhance athletic performance and recovery. It's one of basketball prodigy LeBron James' favorite things to do after games, which was reason enough for us to check out this Akron area full-service cryotherapy spa!

5. Cooking Class at Gervasi VineyardBeing a frequent flyer at all three of Gervasi Vineyard's amazing restaurants (The Crush House, The Piazza, and The Bistro), and being a budding chef in my own home kitchen, I had been wanting to attend a culinary class at The Cucina for quite some time. I had the chance to be a student this October in the "Great Fall Grilling" class with Chef Meg Feller as my instructor.



6. Go Ape Treetop AdventureThis past April, the Go Ape Treetop Adventure course opened to the public in the Cleveland Metroparks' Mill Stream Run Reservation. The Go Ape Treetop Adventure Course challenges participants with an outdoor obstacle course over 3,000 feet in length and is suspended up to 40 feet above ground. The course gives you the opportunity to see the world from a bird's eye view as you navigate the treetops like a monkey by traversing bridges, zooming on zip lines, and hanging on ropes.

7. Bodhi Tree Guest House & Studio: This Buddhist-inspired getaway can be found off the beaten path, hidden among the trees and on four acres of the Appalachian hillsides of Southeast Ohio. Booking a room earlier this summer allowed for me to retreat from the busyness of life, clear my mind, and treat both my body and soul. I opted for a Thai massage coupled with a 60-minute float in a state-of-the-art float tank!

8. Stand-Up Guys PaddleboardingIn the Akron area, at the Portage Lakes, there is a great company aptly named The Stand Up Guys, who offer paddleboarding rentals along the PLX for very reasonable prices! The Stand Up Guys are totally laid back and willing to work with you on rental times and the location on the lakes in which you will launch from. I was able to convince my dad to try it out for the first time ever as a birthday gift to him, and I dragged my mom along too. 

9. Ultimate Beer RunTeam OHventures (Me, Matt, Megan, Matt #2, Jess, Megan #2, & Jim) united in our green & gray OHventures t-shirts, party beads, and oversized neon sunglasses to tackle the challenge of the Ultimate Beer Run head on! The Ultimate Beer Run isn't about who is the fastest or the fittest. It's about good people, good beer, and tons of good costumes!

10. Rhinegeist BreweryRhinegeist is a brewery situated in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Over The Rhinein Cincinnati (which is located in Hamilton County). Nothing beats the atmosphere at Rhinegeist. The wide open interior is available to reserve for private events, or you can come anytime to play cornhole, ping pong, foosball, or watch a ball game - all while relaxing with some locally brewed booze. Take a tour to learn about the history, or enjoy the awesome rooftop bar for a 360-degree view of Cincinnati.

Give The Gift Of Spartan



'Tis the season to be Spartan!

The Spartan Race was one of the greatest challenges I have ever embarked on, and one that was unforgettable and incredibly fulfilling for the adventurous spirit within me. 

For those who do not know, the Spartan Race is a well-established obstacle race series designed to push your limits, test your strength, and challenge your endurance. There are dedicated followers both nationally and internationally who travel to compete in these epic events year-round.

In 2014, the Spartan Race made its first appearance in Ohio in Cumberland (near Zanesville) in Guernsey County. On May 7 & 8, 2016, the Spartan Race Ohio will return (at the same location in Cumberland)! OHventures will also return to tackle all of the mud, obstacles, and burpees that will make up the grueling course.

Because we love our readers so much, we are providing discount codes for Spartan Race gear! Give the gift of SPARTAN this holiday season! 20% off all full priced items + an extra 15% off all clearance items. Use code GIFTS at checkout. Expires 12/14!


Also, for an even more awesome stocking stuffer, please FOLLOW @OHventures on Twitter and tweet "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A SPARTAN RACE!" and you will be automatically entered in our GIVEAWAY for a FREE ENTRY into the OHIO SPARTAN RACE. Tweets must be sent by December 18 at midnight to be entered into the contest!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Happy Holidays From OHventures

Photo by OHventures

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to all of my readers of OHventures! Thank you so much for your continued support in my quest to show everyone just how cool Ohio can be! May the next year bring you an endless thirst for adventure! See you in 2016!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Wellness Walk & Run Video


Tim Frankish of Infocus Studios LLC created an amazing video that captures the essence and excitement that took place during the Akron Wellness Walk & Run earlier this year on September 5. The video is a fantastic representation of the event, complete with action shots of the warm-up session, and views from inside the Wellness Trails. Take a look!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hiking At Quail Hollow State Park

Photos by OHventures

Quail Hollow State Park
13480 Congress Lake Avenue
Hartville, OH 44632

Quail Hollow State Park is a multi-functional park that has a variety of trails (14 miles total) accessible to handicapped individuals and experienced hikers alike. There is also a designated horse trail (5 miles) and mountain bike trail (4 miles). 

I have taken readers to Quail Hollow to go sled riding and for a photo shoot. Now, I encourage you to go to this Stark County state park to go hiking! My good pals Greg and Matt joined me one crisp November morning to head out on an expedition to Quail Hollow. We knew the trails offered here are relatively short and are moderate in length, so it would be a light and non-demanding trip. We had a goal of making a 4-5 mile hike, which we predicted would take us 2-3 hours, with stops.

Driving into the park entrance, we parked at the trail head for the Sedge Marsh. This short 1/4 mile section of trail is made out of boardwalks. We completed that quick loop and then hiked the Meadowlands (1 mile), followed by the Beaver Lodge Trail (1.5 miles). We accidentally happened upon a portion of the bridle trails, which I do not recommend (there were a lot of "land mines" along the way that didn't make for a great hike). When all was said and done, we met our goal by hiking 4.4 miles in 2.5 hours.


During our hike, we actually stumbled upon a geocache! This was really neat, since I had never seen one before, and especially neat since we weren't even trying to locate it using GPS, like those who participate in geocaching.

One of my favorite aspects of the park is the herb gardens and the Carriage House Nature Preserve, which has educational exhibits and interactive elements. It's a beautiful old house that the Tall-Grass Prairie Trail wraps around. In addition to hiking, biking, geocaching, sledding, and horseback riding, other activities at Quail Hollow include: fishing, camping, picnicking, cross country skiing, volleyball, basketball, and special events.

OHventures Photo Shoot With Eric Battershell


Recently, as part of my 30 Before 30 Bucket List (which turned into 30 While 30 Bucket List), I scheduled a mini photo shoot with my friend Eric Battershell. 

Eric is a local Ohio-based photographer who owns Eric Battershell Photography, and has become known across the country and the WORLD for his work. Most of his work is under what he calls "FITography," because most of his photographs celebrate fitness and physiques. He is constantly traveling, flying from state to state and even across the pond to meet his clients for stellar photo shoots! 

It just so happens that Eric lives just around the corner from me in Stark County, Ohio. And he was more than thrilled to go on a shoot with me right in his own hometown (no long flights or layovers required). The purpose of the photo shoot was to celebrate turning 30, and to get some great professional shots for the blog. 

We wanted to showcase a great Ohio spot, so we chose the nearby Quail Hollow State Park, where we went for a mini-hike while taking our photos. 










OHventures Abroad: Across The Bay 10K

Photos by OHventures

For all of those who read my blog to hear about my running escapades, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share with you one of my favorite races of all time, that happened to take place outside of the Buckeye State: the Across the Bay 10K located in Chesapeake Bay, MarylandWhile I may take vacations outside Ohio, it is rare that I do so specifically to run a race. However, this one was special!

My family and I rented a house on the Chesapeake Bay in Centreville, Maryland for an extended weekend get-away so that me, my brother, and his wife could all participate in the race. The Across the Bay 10K is the 6th largest 10K race in the country, with approximately 25,000 people taking part in the big event. What makes it so popular? The race course spans across the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which is known for being the world's longest continual over-water steel structure. 


It's also known as one of the "scariest bridges in the world," due to its low guardrails, frequency of high winds, lack of shoulders, and its extreme height (it is nearly 200 feet off of the water at its highest point). It spans 4.3 miles across the Bay, so the remaining ~2 miles of the race took place on the roads before and after the bridge (naturally). The money raised for the race goes to several charities, including Bay research and restoration, and breast cancer research.



For being such an enormous event, it was extremely well organized. Packet pickup was held the day before at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.The eastbound span was closed for traffic, which is where the run occurred. The westbound span was transformed into a two-way bridge temporarily for the day of the race. There were several designated parking spots where shuttles would transport runners to the starting line, and there were many different start time waves to eliminate congestion on the course. 


For being November 5, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, with blue skies and a perfect temperature in the upper 50s/lower 60s (ideal for running).



I was dreading the incline during the first part of the race, but it was surprisingly not so bad at all! I think that the beautiful scenery, with water on either side of us, is what helped take my mind off of the giant hill we were running up. At the summit of the bridge, we of course had to stop and take some photos (I think most everyone did)! There were many photographers along the way as well, and a great deal of energy pumping through the streets. And our reward for jogging uphill to the top of the bridge was that, eventually, we got to run downhill as well!


Even with all of the stops we took for photos and just to soak in the view, I completed the 10K in a time of 58:21 (with my brother and his wife not far behind). I was thrilled with my time, and also with how awesome I felt after it was all done! We got some pretty awesome finisher's medals, which of course included the Maryland flag as part of the design (so did the t-shirts...pretty much everywhere you looked in Maryland, you'd see the state flag).



Afterwards, we returned to our cozy cottage and experienced a bit of Maryland by canoeing in the Bay, and eating some of the best seafood nachos and crab cakes I have ever had (at Doc's Riverside Grille). We also relaxed with the kiddos as we colored in adult coloring books and played board games. Every so often, it's nice to travel outside of Ohio and turn a running event into a four-day vacation. Ohio is situated in easy driving distance from so many other great states. It's one of the things that makes living in Ohio so fun!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Peace, Love, & Little Donuts

Photo by OHventures

115 S. Prospect Ave.
Hartville, OH 44632
(330) 877-3043

While driving through the City of Hartville in Stark County one day, I happened across a small and colorful bakery that caught my eye with its tie-dye and peace symbols on the storefront. The name of the confectionery was Peace, Love, and Little Donuts - and with a name like that, it's hard to pass by without stopping in!

Talk about a place that is adventurous with its flavors! Inside this tiny donut shop were tiny little donuts in a not-so-tiny display case full of sugary goodness. It was sensory overload, with the rainbow of sprinkles, and the sweet aroma of chocolate, cinnamon, and other delights. My friends and I were flabbergasted by the impressive selection of traditional and obscure flavors and varieties.

As if the name of the joint didn't give it away, a bit of a hippie theme was going on, as evidenced by the donut categories: Groovy, Far Out, and Funkadelic.

Groovy Donuts included any donut topped with cinnamon and sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, honey, or maple sugar. Far Out Donuts are donuts with "far out" frosting, including vanilla, chocolate, maple, raspberry, strawberry, orange, banana, lemon, and mocha. 

Funkadelic Donuts are the ones that get the most attention, as they have "far out" frosting along with fun and exciting toppings that you'd be hardpressed to find at any other donut shop: Oreos, coconut, pretzels, marshmallows & graham cracker (s'mores), maple bacon, salted chocolate, M&Ms, Nestle Crunch, apple pie, blueberry French toast, strawberry shortcake, samoa, and the list goes on (and on and on)!

Each of us ordered a half dozen little itty bitty donuts to gorge on. Mine are all shown above, with the stand-out flavor being the Funkadelic Fruity Pebbles donut! That one definitely wins the award for most bizarre (but bizarre in a good way, of course).

Peace, Love, and Little Donuts is not just in Hartville. There are 4 other Ohio locations: Massillon, Canal Fulton, North Canton, and Cleveland. There are also 6 in Pittsburgh (where it started), one in Grove City, Pennsylvania, one in Oregon, and one in Florida. So, while it's not entirely exclusive to Ohio, we are definitely fortunate that this wild and adventurous bakery has a large presence in Stark and Cuyahoga Counties!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rhinegeist Brewery

Photos by OHventures

1910 Elm Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 381-1367

Rhinegeist is a brewery situated in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Over The Rhine in Cincinnati (which is located in Hamilton County). The name is in reference to The Rhine, which is a European River running in and along France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Early Cincinnati settlers believed that the Ohio River resembled The Rhine of Europe, and therefore named the neighborhood as such. 

The brewery's name "Rhinegeist" is German, and translates to mean "Ghost of the Rhine" in English. This was fitting, due to the fact that the large building in which the brewery is housed was once the Moerlin Bottling Plant, serving up beer from 1895 until prohibition in the 1920s. The new owners "resurrected" the building to make it once again a beer-making facility, in the skeleton of the former bottling plant. The first Rhinegeist beer was brewed in June 2013, and it has become one of the fastest growing breweries in the state.


The spooky name was also fitting due to the fact that we visited on Halloween day. The branding of the beer cans and bar taps has a ghostly/skeletal figure that makes it easily recognizable and memorable.

We learned about all of the history of Rhinegeist by taking a tour of the brewery. Free hour-long tours are offered at various times throughout the week. You can sign up online for priority placement, or sign up when you arrive at the tasting room. Typically, visitors have access to over 25,000 square feet of space, which composes only a fifth of the total square footage of Rhinegeist. The tour gave us an in-depth look into the other four-fifths of space in this gargantuan facility.



We were able to see some of the high-tech stainless steel tanks and other production aspects of the beer brewing process. There was also a great deal of office space (see the leather couch juxtaposed against the beer-making machinery above?), spacious events center, and some unfinished space that will soon be transformed to make Rhinegeist an even cooler spot to visit!


Stacks of barrel-aged beer lined the walls of the basement, right next to the new canning machine that will allow Rhinegeist to increase its production quantity. Down the hall from this was a gigantic freezer, which housed all of the canned beer, ready for distribution to local bars and stores. All Rhinegeist beer is self-distributed by their team so your beer will be fresher and tastier.

You can find these hop-filled cans at many locations in and around Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Kentucky (this list will soon grow). You can check out the Beer Finder to determine where you can get your hands (and lips) on some Rhinegeist for yourself!


We were able to bring glasses of Rhinegeist beer along with us on the tour, which was poured for us in the taproom. After the tour, we continued sipping and sampling the beers we had just learned about by ordering tasting flights. I opted to taste: Zen (a very balanced session pale ale), Homie (an American double imperial pale ale, on tap exclusively while we visited), Workhorse (my favorite of the day, a lager), and Panther (a chocolatey and robust porter).

Other featured beers include: Truth (IPA), Cougaer (blonde ale), Franz (Oktoberfest), Dad (a holiday beer that I have heard is amazing), Puma (pilsner), Pure Fury (hoppy pale ale), Hustle, and more. There are also "bombers" which are larger 22-ounce limited edition bottles. Two hard ciders are also available.




While you should definitely try finding the beers at a bar or store near you, nothing beats the atmosphere at Rhinegeist. The wide open interior is available to reserve for private events, or you can come anytime to play cornhole, ping pong, foosball, or watch a ball game - all while relaxing with some locally brewed booze. You are welcome to bring your own food in from other nearby restaurants, or (in warm months) head up to the brand new rooftop bar for amazing 360-degree views of Cincinnati in all of its glory.

Rhinegeist is waiting for you! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kingmakers | Columbus Board Game Parlour

Photos by OHventures

17 Buttles Avenue
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 223-1358

If I didn't know any better, I would have thought had died and went to heaven when I walked into Kingmakers for the first time.

Located in the Short North Arts District in Columbus, Kingmakers is a relatively new "board game parlour" that offers over 500 unique board games paired alongside a nice selection of cocktails and beers on draft. Visitors are required to pay a $5 "library fee" that lasts the entire night, and allows them to play any and all of the board games of their choosing.

With shelves of games from floor to ceiling, you are bound to find an old classic, or discover a new favorite! There is a wide range in skill level, time required to play, type of play, and number of players required to fit any group. 

The board games are categorized on the shelves in groups such as "Classics" (Clue, The Game of Life, Trivial Pursuit), Party Games (Taboo, Apples to Apples, Guesstures), Strategy (Settlers of Catan, Dungeons & Dragons, Axis and Allies), and others. Colored stickers are on the boxes help to indicate what type of game it is, as well as a label showing what the estimated length of time and ideal number of players.


Folks known as "Board Game Sommeliers" are available to help give suggestions on what your group might enjoy, and guide you through game set up, rules, and play (which, by the way, would be a super awesome job to have). It's nice and bright inside this underground parlour, purposefully so that you can see all of the game pieces and parts more easily. 


My buds Steve and John joined me for an impromptu visit to Kingmakers this past October, and we had an absolute blast! Our group particularly was drawn to the party games. We tried a couple that we had never heard of before, such as Hoopla (from the makers of Cranium), and Smart Ass (an awesome trivia game that I ended up winning!). 


We ordered some refreshing beers on tap, served to us in mason jars, and we admired the incredible collection of games, taking note of all the ones we wanted to try when we were to come back. I honestly can't wait to bring other friends and family to Kingmakers on future visits to Columbus! I hope to see you there sometime, and you can challenge me in a riveting game of Operation.

(Editor's Note: I have also come to learn that a similar place exists in Cleveland, called Tabletop Board Game Cafe)



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Great Pumpkin Run Cincinnati

Pile of Pumpkins! Photos by OHventures

One of the most awkward things I have ever done is run a 5K with an 8 pound pumpkin.

I experienced this on October 31 (Halloween!) when taking part in The Great Pumpkin Run in Cincinnati (another one took part in Hartville, near Canton). This is a running series that challenges you to tackle trails and conquer corn mazes each fall on various farms around the country. 

By paying an extra fee, participants can choose to run while carrying a pumpkin in what is known as the "Tough Pumpkin." If you complete the course with the gourd in tact, you will receive an extra special "Tough Pumpkin" medal in addition to the Great Pumpkin Run medal. Double the bling? Sign me up!

Folks kept asking why on earth I would choose the Tough Pumpkin option. I have a history of doing crazy stunts (jumping in freezing cold water, sprinting up skyscraper stairwells, and getting electroshocks in the Tough Mudder, to name a few). Aside from the extra medal as an incentive, I view the Tough Pumpkin as a fun way to challenge myself and (pumpkin) spice up my typical 5K run!


My friend Matt (of Ohio State 4 Miler and Ultimate Beer Fest fame) and I drove on down to Bonnybrook Farms - the setting for The Great Pumpkin Run Cincinnati. We came to find that Bonnybrook was technically located in the city of Clarksville in Clinton County, which is about 40 miles north of downtown Cincinnati. Apparently, race organizers billed the event as "Cincinnati" since it was the closest metropolis around (a bit misleading, but that's OK).


We arrived at the farms and went straight to the giant pile of pumpkins to pick our poison for the race. I strategically chose a pumpkin that had an extra long stem so that it might serve as a handle as I ran with it. We weighed our pumpkins on the nearby scale - Matt's was 10 pounds on the dot, and mine was 7.3 pounds. It was a chilly and cloudy day, so we huddled in the barn and by the nearby campfire for warmth before our 10:00 AM wave.


When the race began, Matt and I soon learned firsthand about the awkwardness I described above. There was no easy way to carry our pumpkins as we ran! We tried doing it with one hand, with two hands, on our shoulders, cradled in our arms, at our side, against our chest, and every which way you can imagine. The easiest way for me, I discovered, was carrying it by the stem, alternating from hand to hand every so often. You can see my technique above.


Our minds were taken off of the pumpkins, however, when we approached the giant corn maze at the final mile of the course. Running among the cornstalks provided an awesome vantage point that was the epitome of autumn! There were so many surprising twists and turns, and the only way I knew which way was which was due to the finish line music I could hear in the distance!

Soon, after navigating through the maze (there were signs telling you which way to turn), the finish line was in sight! I completed the run in just over 31 minutes, which is far longer than my typical 5K run. That pumpkin definitely slowed us down - and we definitely earned those two medals!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

TITLE Boxing Club Of Stow

Photos by OHventures

4433 Kent Road
Stow, OH 44224
(330) 474-7062

I have never sweat more in one hour than I did when I took a class at TITLE Boxing Club of Stow! When it comes to giving you a killer workout and getting you in shape, they mean business!

Boxing requires you to be in peak physical shape, and to have stamina, strength, agility, and endurance to be a success in the ring. TITLE Boxing Club offers classes that deliver the amazing results of boxing, minus the combat. These intense workouts transform and strengthen your body from head to toe by showing you how to master the moves of the boxing pros. It is incredibly fun and rewarding experience that will have you coming back for more!

In Ohio, there are 16 TITLE Boxing Club locations: Columbus (2), Grandview, Hilliard, Highland Heights, Kettering, Liberty Township, Loveland/Cincinnati, Medina, Mentor, New Albany, Pickerington, Powell, Solon, Westlake, and Stow. There are even more locations all over the United States, and one in Mexico.


My friends at the TITLE Boxing Club of Stow are particularly awesome, and invited me and my friends Greg and Brandon to check out a kickboxing class one night this fall. I had known the owner Cindy and the trainers Michael and Tori from TITLE Boxing Club of Stow's recent sponsorship of the local Wellness Walk & Run in Stow. This 5K raised money for breast cancer screenings for those in need. The folks at TITLE Boxing Club of Stow are incredibly devoted to keeping the community healthy in all ways, so it didn't take much to convince me to stop in for a class.

The three of us had little or no experience in boxing before this class (I had taken one class a few years ago in Columbus), so we had to be taught the basics. The class required we wear hand wraps (which are sold on site in various colors) and boxing gloves (of course!), which are provided at the gym. There are various group classes that are available, including traditonal boxing, 30-Minute "Calorie Crusher," 60-Minute "Power Hour," 75-Minute "Super Sessions," one-on-one personal training, and kick-boxing (which is the class we took).


The gym was set up with punching bags all lined up in rows. Everyone gets his or her own bag, and the instructor (ours was Tori) stays near the front of the class demonstrating what to do, and guiding you over a headset. The class was an intense cardio workout that incorporated toning exercises that are guaranteed to help shed pounds.

We were taught the various boxing moves, such as the jab, hook, uppercut, and cross. We then were given a series of combinations of these moves for the duration of our hour long class. We added kicks, and moves around the punching bag.


At the end of the boxing session, Tori led us in a series of ab work that pushed us even further! We definitely got a full well-rounded workout that was fun and different, but also a challenge. It required coordination and concentration, and was a great way for us to get together to try something different. It was perfect for letting of steam during the work week!

Tori and Michael let us get in the boxing ring for a photo op (shown above) and also try on the giant oversized gloves (shown below). They were fun, personable, and dedicated to what they do. 


I recommend a group boxing class to anyone looking to spice up their workout. You can burn up to 1,000 calories in an hour when you take a high energy, high intensity class at TITLE Boxing Club of Stow, and you build muscle and endurance at the same time. Our group proved that you don't have to be a boxing pro to take a class! Any level of ability is welcome. Ask about coming in and trying your first shot free so you can see for yourself!