Monday, December 31, 2012

Best of 2012

It was a busy year here at OHventures! With over 100 posts, we hiked, biked, ran, ate, and trampolined all over the Buckeye State! Here are the Top 10 Hottest OHventures tackled in 2012. It was a tough list to compile, as there was so much going on, but we think this list truly encapsulates the best of the best.
1.       Winemaking Part I & II: This summer and fall, I handcrafted my very own wine at Camelot Cellars Urban Boutique Winery. I gave out 13 bottles to some pretty awesome people in my life this Christmas and shared with them the winemaking blog posts to see where their gift came from. If you want to make your own wine too, check it out!

2.       Dog Days of Summer: On May 23, 2012, I adopted my “pride and joy” from the Franklin County Animal Shelter. His name was Slider, and he is a 2-year-old Chihuahua. Since then, we have been on hikes, participated in 5Ks, visited dog parks, and even hung out at wineries! OHventures will never be the same with Slider around!

3.       Capital City Half Marathon Recap: You’ve probably heard it a billion times by now (even if you’re only a casual reader), but in 2012, I ran my first half marathon. Read about it here!

4.       Skiing In Northeast Ohio: One of my favorite things ever is skiing, and it all started for me at Boston Mills & Brandywine Ski Resorts near Cleveland! This is a must for anyone’s Buckeye Bucket List, so make it happen!

5.       Bexa Body Fitness: In the midst of my P90X workouts (from January to April), I spiced up my routine by going to different gyms and trying different regimens! Bexa Body Fitness was my FAVORITE. The staff is great, the boot camp is grueling, and the piloxing is – interesting to say the least!

6.       STOMP Bike Ride: I also bought a bike this year and put it to good use by riding in the STOMP Bike Ride in Summit County! I am hoping to make 2013 “The Year Of The Bike”!

7.       Columbus Food Adventures: My mouth still waters thinking back to this awesome day when I went on a Taco Truck Tour in Columbus courtesy of the Columbus Food Adventures. If you haven’t done this yet, your tastebuds are missing out!

8.       Carew Tower: You will never look at Cincinnati the same way once you view it from atop one of its tallest skyscrapers, the Carew Tower. It was the highlight of my daytrip to Cincinnati.

9.       Clear Creek Metropark: Someone recently asked me where I would recommend they go on a nice winter hike and without hesitation I answered “Clear Creek Metropark.” It’s the best.

10.   Dedicated To My Brother: I had to include this on my list. It was the first time I had ever written about my late brother, Nick, and how he has influenced me to lead such an adventurous life!
I appreciate all of my readers for sticking with me in 2012. Here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and OHVENTUROUS 2013!

2012: The Year Of The Run

Photo by OHventures

While the end of the world did not come on December 21, 2012 as the Mayans presumably predicted, I sure took the liberty to checkmark as much as I could off of my bucket list, as if the world WAS about to end. What stood out most above all else this year was my constant participation in running events! 

My competitive running amounted to 40.8 miles in 2012, spread amongst 10 different races around Ohio. I began the year attending a kickoff event for the Capital City Half Marathon, where I unknowingly would discover my love and passion for the sport of running!

Here is a recap of my 10 races from this past year, which were all unique in their own way:

1. Capital City Half Marathon (13.1 miles in 2:26:19): I trained hard (too hard at times), got the proper footwear, raised over $1,500 to fight cancer, suffered a knee injury, and ran my first ever half marathon on May 5, 2012 along with dozens of friends and thousands of other runners! This was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life, but also one of the most rewarding! I will never forget it, and hope to someday do another half or even a full marathon!

2. Run With The Pack 5K (3.1 miles in 33 minutes): Fresh after adopting my 2-year old Chihuahua Slider from the Franklin County Animal Shelter, I participated in the Run With The Pack 5K on June 23, in which hundreds of folks ran with their leashed canines at the Scioto Audubon Metropark in Columbus! I was very impressed with my 9-pound pup’s running ability – and his apparent love for it! The registration fee went to benefit “Pets Without Parents” and got me and my dog active and healthy!
3. Defend Your Friend 5K (3.1 miles in 44 minutes): Taking place once again at the Scioto Audubon Metropark, this doggy 5K proved a bit more challenging for my dog, probably because it was on one of the hottest days of the year (August 2), and at 7PM rather than at 8AM like the previous race. Be that as it may, we definitely enjoyed mingling with all of the other dogs and their owners, and of course were pleased to contribute funds to help the Capital Area Humane Society.
4. Warrior Dash Ohio II (3.1 miles in 43:34): On August 25, my brother Curt and I, joined by his wife Regina, ran in the Warrior Dash Ohio II in North Lawrence, Stark County. There was much more than mud at this run: wecrawled under barbed wire, jumped over fire, and jumped in and out of trash dumpsters, among a dozen other obstacles. We celebrated our achievement, got hosed off, grabbed our free beers, chomped on a turkey leg, listened to the live music, and enjoyed being amongst hundreds and hundreds of other like-minded WARRIORS and OHventurers from across the state!
5. Abercrombie & Fitch Challenge (3.1 miles in 27 minutes): After running with my dog (sorry Slider!) and through mud in the last 3 races, I was more than anxious to run a race by myself again! This time, I was given an invitation to run in the Abercrombie & Fitch Challenge on August 30 at the A&F Home Office located in New Albany. My knee was giving me a lot of trouble but I managed to pick a new friend in the crowd (Wes) and keep pace with him! After the race (whose proceeds went to the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute), we got to enjoy food, booze, and a concert by WALK THE MOON!
6. Oktoberfest Brat Trot (4 miles in 34:48): On September 28, the Columbus Oktoberfest added running to its list of traditions by incorporating a four mile (vier meiler) run known affectionately as the "Brat Trot" into the opening day of the festivities. What's best is that after the run, we got to experience all the fun and tasty German amenities late into the evening. My friend Matt and I eagerly signed up for the Brat Trot, in part due to all of the great perks that came along with it – a cream puff, Bahama Mama from Schmidt’s, a German beer, and a technical shirt!
7. Hubbard Library Zombie Run (3.1 miles in 27 minutes): Zombies have become all the rage in 2012, even popping up in running events! The basic premise is that people dress up as "zombies," who, along the course, "attack" runners by ripping a flag off of them (much like flag football). It's an all-out war between zombies and runners, as each tries to conquer the other. My big bro and I took part in a zombie run in our hometown of Hubbard on October 14, and had a blast doing it, even though it was pretty disorganized!
8. Hot Chocolate 5K/15K (3.1 miles in 25:54): Also becoming popular this year was the “Hot Chocolate” races, which benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities, whose goal is to help sick children in need. My sister-in-law ran the Hot Chocolate 5K in Columbus on November 18. The motivation for running in the cold, cold weather was to get to the finish line and warm up with tasty hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and other treats! It was one of my favorite races of the year (and personal record) for sure!
9. Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot (2 miles in 18:01): What is now going to be a tradition with my entire family is the Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot, which takes place on Thanksgiving Day (November 22 this year) and gives you the excuse to pig out later in the day! It’s one of many turkey trots across the state that take place on the morning of Thanksgiving. While grandma is busy preparing the dinner, you can burn some preemptive calories to make up for all the starchy goodness you’ll be eating later that day.
10. Jingle Bell Run/Walk For Arthritis (3.1 miles in 24:39):  2012 was winding down and I had almost fulfilled my personal goal to run 10 races in one calendar year. I had 9 under my belt and just needed one more to cap things off. Thankfully, a friend of mine, Beth, invited me to run in the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis on December 1. What better way to end my year of running alongside people dressed as elves and snowmen with jingle bells attached to my shoes?! I also ended the year with a new personal record!!!
I am extremely proud of the 40.8 competitive miles I ran this year (and countless more in training). I hope through this blog to inspire other runners in 2013! Shamefully, I must admit that the jingle bells from December 1 are STILL attached to my running shoes, which means I haven’t even ran for fun in a WHOLE month! When the New Year starts, however, my OHventures running around the state will continue in full force! The holidays are over, folks, as is the year 2012. Let’s take a deep breath, stretch, and get our rears in shape in 2013! :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Holidays From OHventures

Photo by Green Elephant Photography

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! See you in 2013!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Golden Lamb

Photo by OHventures

The Golden Lamb
27 S. Broadway
Lebanon, Ohio 45036
(513) 932-5065
The legendary Golden Lamb in Lebanon (Warren County) is known across the state (and country) for its extensive history and impressive guest list! Established in 1803 (the same year that Ohio became a state), the restaurant and inn holds the title of the oldest continuously operating business in the State of Ohio! In over 200 years of operation, The Golden Lamb has served up hearty comfort foods and offered overnight stay for such prominent figures as authors Mark Twain (Samuel Clemons) and Charles Dickens, as well as twelve United States Presidents, including William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Ulysses S. Grant, Howard Taft, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and more!
Add to that illustrious list of guests State Representative Ron Maag and myself, Michael Evans! We made a recent visit to The Golden Lamb this fall for a quick bite to eat and to catch up (he being my former boss). While eating with Ron, I was told some great stories of all of the political figures who have made their way to Lebanon just to pay a visit to The Golden Lamb!
The Golden Lamb (named such so that those who couldn't read back in the day could easily recognize the golden lamb symbol) is located at the heart of downtown Lebanon, and features a banquet hall, a tavern (called The Black Horse Tavern), a dining area (called the Lebanon Dining Room), and 18 rooms in what is called The Golden Lamb Inn. The entire building seems cozy, homey, and welcoming, from the warm fireplace in the lobby to the elegant chandeliers in the dining room. While it is a classy establishment, it also is simple and quaint all at the same time.
Ron suggested that I order the fried chicken meal, which came with asparagus, whipped yukon potatoes, and skillet gravy, as well as dinner rolls and salad. He ordered the seared seasonal salmon with parmesan vegetable orzo and watercress beurre blanc. The food was just like mom would make: filling and delicious! While the seasonal desserts of pecan pie and pumpkin pie were tempting, we were stuffed from our dinners and opted out. The prices are extremely reasonable for such a fine dining restaurant, with meals ranging from $19-$35. Even better deals are the starters, which are big enough to fill you up nicely: wild mushroom bruschetta and blackened scallops are two popular choices.

While I myself have not stayed overnight at the Golden Lamb Inn, I am told that the place is haunted! Of course, I don't tend to believe in such things, but it is interesting that so many historical figures stayed here, as it was the halfway point between Cincinnati and National Road U.S. 40.

The Golden Lamb most certainly deserves a special visit if not for its food, for the colorful history that it holds in its walls.

Jingle Bell Run/Walk Recap

2012 was winding down and I had almost fulfilled my personal goal to run 10 races in one calendar year. I had 9 under my belt and just needed one more to cap things off. Thankfully, a friend of mine, Beth, invited me to run in the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis on December 1. Beth was one of my many friends that ran with me in my first race of the year (the Capital City Half Marathon), so she would be the perfect person to run alongside my final race of the year! Since she works at Nationwide Childrens Hospital, her coworkers had a fundraising team set up, and it was great knowing that the race cost of $35 would be going to a nobel cause: to fight arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis (which can be acquired at any age, young or old).
Photos by OHventures
The race was in Columbus (I hope to run more races across the state next year) and started at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the corner of High Street and Nationwide Boulevard at 10 AM. Despite that, Beth and I arrived shortly after 8 AM so that we could stretch, register, and soak it all in beforehand! And let me tell you, there was a TON to soak in!
Never before had I seen such a large array of Santa Claus hats, elf ears and reindeer antlers at once! Thousands of runners (I do not know the exact number) were milling about both inside and outside of the hotel, gearing up for what looked like the most festive race ever. I myself brought a Santa hat to wear while I ran, and as a part of our goodie bag, we were all given jingle bells to tie onto our shoelaces!! It was a pretty clever touch, if you ask me! Beth and I were what seemed like a small fraction of the race participants who decided to run competitively with chip timers (given that our bib numbers were 46 and 47). That made a lot of sense, too, as it looked like many people might have a tough time running in the crazy costumes they had on: garland, wreaths, and even working Christmas lights were some of the accessories people had on for the run/walk!
Not only were the runners and walkers in the holiday spirit, a bunch of characters were present as well, including The Grinch, Frosty The Snowman, and the Big Guy himself, Santa Claus! Some familiar faces were there too, like Louseal and Krash (mascots for the Columbus Clippers), Crew Cat (mascot for the Columbus Crew), Max & Erma, and even a giant Wendy's Frosty. It was bizarre, but hilarious!
It was about 45 degrees and overcast, which put my new spandex running clothes to the test! I was pretty cold, and in awe seeing fellow runners around me wearing tank tops and shorts (and even a shirtless guy here and there). Perhaps the cold would make them run faster, but I was pretty worried that the cold would do the opposite, and slow me down! The race started facing South on High Street. Beth and I were at the head of the pack (something I learned to do from the bad experience at the Turkey Trot).
We sped down High Street, past Nationwide Insurance, past the Statehouse, and into German Village. I tried my best to catch up with Beth, but she is such a speed demon, that it proved difficult! I kept my own, however, as my RunKeeper application on my iPhone (worn in my armband during the race) announced that I had reached 1.53 miles at the 10 MINUTE MARK! Woah! I couldn't believe the pace I was running! If I were to keep it up, I would finish in just under 20 minutes, which would be my best time EVER. Unfortunately, I was losing steam and slowed down a TON for the second half of the race, which headed North on 3rd through German Village and back to Nationwide Boulevard.
Despite a slower second half, I still completed the race with a time of 24:39. I was very pleased with this time, which beat most of my recent races! I learned now that I need to pace myself accordingly so that I do not lose so much gas in the first part of the race! Beth fared much better and had a time of 22:32, making her the 17th female finisher overall and 6th in her age group!!! It was fantastic knowing that all of our jingling was helping people who suffer from arthritis, and thus can not run in races like we can. It was a humbling thought. It was also very touching to see people who were walking who had signs on their back dedicated to loved ones who have arthritis - some who had it themselves!! It was important to have an outlet for these folks to get out and be as active as they can be with their unfortunate arthritis diagnoses.
My face was redder than my Santa hat as Beth and I celebrated with food from Panera Bread and First Watch. We walked around a bit, with our feet jingling away, taking pictures and cooling down. We high fived for a successful 2012 running season and did a toast (with bottled water) for an even better 2013!

Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot Recap

Photo by OHventures
If you feel guilty about hogging down plateful after plateful of atarchy, sugary, carb-heavy food during the holiday season, and particularly on Thanksgiving Day, there is a simple solution that will make you feel exponentially better about your poor diet choices: participating in a Turkey Trot! More and more cities across the state and country are capitalizing on the growing interest people have for an active lifestyle by holding small races on Thanksgiving morning. While Grandma wakes up with the birds to get cracking on turkey dinner, the rest of the family can throw on some tennis shoes and flock to a nearby Turkey Trot!
These types of races have all sorts of names nowadays: The Flying Feather Four Miler in Dublin, the Smoke The Turkey 5K in Toledo, the Thanksgiving Wattle in Grove City, or simply The Thanksgiving Day Race in Cincinnati. Most, however, go by the moniker of "Turkey Trot." My family and I decided to take part in the 34th Annual Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot in Trumbull County, near my hometown of Hubbard. It was a perfect way for the family to bond, especially given that 2012 had been the year that most of us started to get more active and took up running as a hobby.
The Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot took place at 9:30 AM on Thanksgiving Day (November 22, 2012) on the campus of the Kent State University Trumbull Branch. There was a total of 2,700 runners in either the 2 Miler or 5 Miler, which the announcer noted made it the largest race ever to take place in Trumbull County history (sounds like a small race, but for Trumbull County, it was obviously a spectacle). We knew it was pretty packed with runners and spectators, as traffic was backed up on the highway for at least two miles leading up to the event!
My brother Curt, my niece Jaiden (age 9), and myself ran in the 2 Miler, while my sister-in-law Regina and her friend ran in the 5 Miler. My 3 year old niece and 1 year old nephew were there, but just to watch of course! We saw a ton of folks with strollers, and others with dogs on leashes, who were taking part in the 2 Miler, but opting to walk. Since we have many dogs and a few little kids in our family, we decided that next year, some non-runners in the family (such as my mom and my aunt) can also take part in the walk! We also decided that my dad would need to for sure run with us next year, since he has just recently began running (at age 53)! We knew from the moment we arrived that this would be our first of many years as Turkey Trotters, and that we will make it so that everyone in our family will take part to make their Thanksgiving a healthier one!
The footrace itself was rather hectic and somewhat disorganized, namely because I do not believe they expected so many people. We had chip timers on our shoes, but no race bibs (which to me was disappointing, since I like to keep them as souvenirs). However, even after crossing the "Start" line, thus activating our chips, we were walking or running at a VERY slow pace. Apparently, the slower runners did not get the memo to start near the back of the crowd, but hopefully this will be remedied in following years (perhaps with corrals). This slower start was good, however, for my young niece, who can not run at a really fast pace as it is (not yet at least). After about 3/4 of a mile, I took off ahead of my brother and his daughter so that I could perhaps get a somewhat decent time.
The course was uphill the first half, and downhill the second, making a small loop around a classroom building and back. The weather was remarkably warm and sunny, so much so that I ran in just a short sleeved t-shirt and track pants. A slight chill was in the air, making me run a little faster just to keep warm! I crossed the finish line with a time of 18:01, which would equal a 9 minute mile. Not half bad, considering the very slow start we had moseying behind an extremely slow moving crowd. I immediately got some water and a banana, and waited for my brother and niece, who crossed around the 22/23 minute mark! Not half bad! I was very impressed and proud of both of them, but especially my niece of course.
We then took over watching the littlest kids as my sister-in-law and her friend ran the 5 miler. I again was impressed when she came running in with a time of approximately 45 minutes. This was great, given that she had never run a race of that length!
With euphoria and adrenaline from being so active so early, the four of us threw on our official Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot 5K green long sleeved t-shirts and went to my grandmother's to meet the rest of the family. Everyone was very happy for us and intrigued with our proposal that everyone run or walk next year! My dad definitely wished he had run, if not for anything else to get a t-shirt! It will be a great family tradition to wear our matching shirts as we gobble up the calories we burned while running our Turkey Trot each year on Thanskgiving morning.