Friday, December 27, 2013

Selfless Elf Recap

Kyle and Me after the Selfless Elf!

On December 21, 2013, I participated in the Selfless Elf, the inaugural 5K run orchestrated by the Akron Canton Regional Foodbank.
This event was meaningful to me in a number of ways. First and foremost, the race was a benefit for the Foodbank, where I have gone to volunteer along with my fellow coworkers from Akron General Medical Center.

Getting the opportunity to help area folks in need of food and sustenance is a great way to spread holiday cheer. It was also wonderful getting the chance to run again in my new stomping grounds of Akron. I previously ran the Akron Marathon and was on such a high zooming through what I am now calling home.

Additionally, the fact that the Selfless Elf was a holiday themed race made it even more fun. I love Christmas SO MUCH, so anything that involves me dressing up in striped elf socks (provided to every runner), an elf hat with elf ears (provided by my mother), and a bright red jacket (provided by myself) is a winner in my book. Best yet, this attire was adorned by nearly every single runner - some elaborating on the elf/Christmas theme by wearing Santa hats, elf beards, elf shoes, reindeer antlers, wrapping paper, garland, blinking tree lights, and the list goes on!
Also, the Selfless Elf was my 20th (and final) running event in 2013, and my 30th race in 2012 & 2013 combined. That in and of itself made this particular event that much more exciting, as it was a milestone in my running career.

Funny enough, out of all 30 races in 2012 and 2013, the Selfless Elf was the ONE AND ONLY race that rained. That is quite an accomplishment for running in Ohio's sporadic climate. It is pretty funny that the only rain occurred on the very last race of the year. It's as if Mother Nature did not want me to be able to brag about not having a single race with rain. Alas, the raindrops (which were plentiful), were in my book much better than sub-zero temperatures, which would be typical for this time of the year. Instead, it was in the 50s, which is better than the temperature for a lot of other events.

The course, although wet and peppered with puddles, was very easy-going with hardly any hills! Even though it was overcast, there was a lot of scenery. We started at the Foodbank (of course) and ran northeast on Opportunity Parkway, connecting to Bowery Street. We ran on Bowery until we reached Main Street and turned right by the Akron Civic. We then ran from Falor Street, to Bartges, to Dart Ave., where we crossed the finish line. I completed the race in 24:16 (placing 65/695), which was not too shabby considering the rain and early start time of 8AM.

Another cool factor of the Selfless Elf was getting to run as part of Team Compass, which is led by the founder of Compass Media, Doug Kish. Compass Media was a sponsor of the event, and is also the publishers of a number of articles I have written for the Akron/Canton area. Finally running an event with Doug and Compass Media was long overdue!
My friend Kyle, who I have met through working with the Akron Chamber, was also present, and he completed the race in an impressive time of approximately 20 minutes! He ended up winning first place in his age group with that lightning speed!
The event was a huge success, with over 750 elfish participants, and an impressive $30,000 raised for the Foodbank. I am very happy to have participated in such a fantastic event that enforces the spirit of giving and selflessness. Many thanks to Stephanie and everyone else at the Foodbank for making it possible!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

20 Races in 2013

Believe it or not, I participated in a total of 20 walk/run events in 2013, doubling the amount of races I ran in 2012! Most of the events had a fun element added in, such as running through foam (Logan 5K Foam Fest) or running with your dog (Run With The Pack 5K, Avon Lake Dirty Dog Run)! Many were done to support a cause, such as the Memory Walk for Alzheimer's or the Brace Against Hunger 5K. Most were 5Ks, but some were longer, such as the Capital City Patron Quarter Marathon, and some were shorter, such as the Boardman Memorial Mile. Each was fun and exciting in their own way, and I am happy to have successfully completed over 62.55 competitive miles in one year!

Below, you can find links to all 20 of these events from 2013, in chronological order! Hopefully these can give you ideas for races you can run in the New Year!

  1. Fight For Air Stair Climb (February 2013 - 880 steps in 7:48 - Columbus)
  2. Arnold Pump & Run 5K (March 2013 - 3.1 miles in 20:00 - Columbus)
  3. Glo Run 5K (April 2013 - 3.1 miles in 31:00 - Columbus)
  4. Boston Strong Ohio (April 2013 - 4 miles, untimed - Columbus)
  5. Akron Color Vibe 5K (April 2013 - 3.1 miles in 26:00 - Akron)
  6. Capital City Patron Quarter Marathon (May 2013 - 6.55 miles in 56:55 - Columbus)
  7. Boardman Memorial Mile (May 2013 - 1 mile in 09:05 - Boardman)
  8. Run With The Pack 5K (June 2013 - 3.1 miles in 39:00 - Columbus)
  9. Foam Fest 5K (June 2013 - 3.1 miles in 50:00 - Logan)
  10. Darby Creek Trail Run (July 2013 - 6.2 miles in 1:03:00 - Galloway)
  11. Avon Lake Dirty Dog 5K (July 2013 - 3.1 miles in 32:00 - Avon Lake)
  12. Warrior Dash Ohio II (August 2013 - 3.1 miles in 37:53 - North Lawrence)
  13. Brace Against Hunger 5K @ Gervasi (September 2013 - 3.1 miles in 24:23 - North Canton)
  14. Akron Marathon (September 2013 - 4.8 miles in 39:40 - Akron)
  15. Youngstown Peace Race (October 2013 - 2 miles in 14:38 - Youngstown)
  16. Memory Walk For Alzheimer's (October 2013 - 1 mile, untimed - Boardman)
  17. Ohio State 4 Miler (November 2013 - 4 miles in 33:57 - Columbus)
  18. Kent State Stark Turkey Trot (November 2013 - 3.1 miles in 26:00 - North Canton)
  19. Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot (November 2013 - 2 miles in 16:20 - Warren)
  20. Selfless Elf 5K (December 2013 - 3.1 miles in 24:16 - Akron)

Top 10 OHventures of 2013

Another year has come and gone! It is hard to believe! Big life changes took place for me, as I moved from Columbus (after living there for a decade), to Akron/Canton to start the next phase of my career. Sandwiched in between friends' weddings, out-of-state vacations, and acclimating myself to my new surroundings, I made sure to cram in lots of adventures. I give to you the Top 10 OHventures of 2013. There were many to choose from, but if you needed to see the best of the best, here they are (in no particular order)!

1. Ziplining at Valley Zipline Tours: For my 28th birthday, I decided to take a day off of work and stare my fear of heights in the face by going ziplining at one of the newest facilities in Ohio, Valley Zipline Tours in Lancaster.

2. Fight For Air Stair Climb: Probably one of the most challenging physical activities I have ever participated in (and that's saying a lot) was climbing 880 stairs of the Rhodes Tower in Columbus to raise money for the American Lung Association. I was literally fighting for air during this intense event!

3. Open Air Safari at The Wilds: Seeing camels, giraffes, ostriches, and antelope within hands-reach was an experience I will never forget, thanks to my visit to The Wilds in Cumberland. Think of it as a zoo but 1,000 times cooler.

4. Paddleboarding with Project 908: My cousin Jake and my friends Matt and Jess joined me in my very own backyard (which happened to be a quarry) to try out paddleboarding with a Columbus-based company, Project 908. The pictures say 1,000 words.

5. Columbus Brew Adventures: Being driven around in a van and taken to various breweries throughout Columbus for grub, fun facts, and of course booze? Can't get much better than that!

6. Akron Marathon Relay: I ran many races this year (20 to be exact), but if I had to pick the most memorable of all, it would be the Akron Marathon. I was part of a relay team (Running For Donuts) for the first time, and was running through the city that I now call home - it was a great initiation to becoming an Akronite.

7. Horseback Riding at Faith Ranch: If I could go horseback riding every weekend, I would. The city boy in me became a little bit country when I ventured to the town of Jewett to embark on an hour-long horseback trail ride at Faith Ranch.

8. Monumental Workouts in Canton: The McKinley Monument in Canton is not only a massively historic landmark, serving as the resting place for President William McKinley, but it is also becoming a hotspot for fitness enthusiasts who run the stairs and attend boot camp classes here!

9. Arnold Fitness Classic: I have been attending the Arnold Fitness Classic for many years now. It is my favorite festival of all, and we are lucky to have it right here in Ohio. You can watch athletes from all over the world compete in dozens of sports, visit the expo for loads of protein, supplements, and other goodies, or participate in the Arnold Pump & Run!

10. 1 Year Sliderversary at Zoom Room: May 23, 2013 marked the 1-year anniversary since I rescuue the honorary OHventures mascot, Slider (my chihuahua). We celebrated in a BIG way!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

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 2014!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

5 Winter Adventures in Ohio

OHventures loves lists: we've told you the best ways to cool down during a hot Ohio summer, we've given you fun fall ideas, and tips for how to enjoy spring on a budget. And now we are here to let you know some of the COOLest ways to CHILL in winter in the Buckeye State (we should probbaly stop with the puns, and leave those to Arnold as Mr. Freeze). Yes, there are fewer daylight hours to keep us excited about the great outdoors, and yes our social calendars pile up with Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, Secret Santas, and the like. But we are not bears, so quit hibernating, and keep active!

1. Ice Skating: Ice skating outdoors beats any indoor rink hands down! There's nothing like having the brisk wintry winds blowing on your face as you zip around Akron's Lock 3 ice rink, Toledo's Ottawa Park, or Cincinnati's ice rink in Fountain Square, to name a few! If you are reluctant to go ice skating (either because you never have before, or because it's your first time in a long time), there is typically staff available to assist you. It's definitely something you should try so that you can scratch it off of your bucket list, and feel like a kid again! Admission is typically far cheaper than any skiing or snowboarding excursion. For a list of ice skating rinks in Ohio (both indoor and outdoor), check out Skating Fitness

2. Polar Plunge/Polar Bear Jump: A polar plunge (also known as a polar bear jump) are for the bravest of brave and the craziest of crazy! Basically, all that this insane event consists of is jumping into an extremely cold body of water for a short amount of time and then hopping back out! It is a rite of passage for all adventurers, but sounds more like a result of one big game of "truth or dare" or perhaps an episode of Jackass. But, there are many positives to this frigid feat. Many of these events take place to race money for the Special Olympics. There are several polar plunges on the calendar for 2014January 18 in CortlandJanuary 25 in Sandusky and WaynesvilleFebruary 8 inAthensFebruary 15 in ColumbusFebruary 22 in GenevaMarch 1 in Celina, and March 15 in Lakeview. A Polar Bear Jump takes place in Portage Lakes on February 22 to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Akron.

3. Skiing & Snowboarding: I have been skiing for over 15 years - mostly in Ohio - and I can attest that although our slopes are mere bunny hills compared to the massive mountains in Colorado or Vermont, we have some pretty exciting places to ski! There are five locations you can ski or snowboard in Ohio: Boston Mills and Brandywine in Peninsula (this is where I have skiied most often, as I was a member of Ski Club all throughout high school), Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield (the highest point in all of Ohio, so you know it's fun), Snowtrails in MansfieldAlpine Valley in Chesterland, and Clear Fork Resort in Butler (the newest ski resort in Ohio, and the only one I have not yet been to). All of these locations also offer tubing, which is a fun alternative if you are not very skilled at skiing or snowboarding!

4. Winter Hiking: Oddly, we have found ourselves hiking in the winter perhaps even more than we find ourselves hiking any other time of the year. This might lend itself to the fact that in the winter, there are no mosquitos, no ticks, no blazing hot temperatures, and no huge crowds to bother us! Some great spots to hike in the winter in Ohio are Alum Creek State Park in DelawareBlackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve in Toboso, and Clear Creek Metro Park in Rockbrige, to name a few. Study our post on Winter Hiking 101 to get the basics on how to prepare to frolic in the frigid temperatures!

5. Sledding/Sledriding: Depending on where you are from, you either call it sledding or sledriding. You might even call it toboggoning. Either way, the thought of flying downhill on a sled will most definitely bring back childhood memories. But this activity is not for children only! It's intense, thrilling, and downright adrenaline-pumping. IF you find the right hills, that is! We used to go sledriding (that's what we called it) at my Aunt & Uncle's house in their backyard, where they had a pretty gnarly hill to zoom down. But there are plenty of other hills around the state that are sledriding hotspots, many of which located at state parks. You can find a list of state parks with great hills thanks to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. OHventures is looking to plan a couple of good ones this January. Sledding will definitely be an adult sport again - we will leave the snowman-building to the kiddos. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

OHventures Gift Guide

The holiday season is upon us, and the Big Day is just under two weeks away! No matter how meticulously you have planned your holiday shopping this year, you undoubtedly have a few folks left on your list that you still need to buy for. If you're anything like me, you take joy in giving gifts that are unique, meaningful and thoughtful, even if they are last minute (shh, they don't need to know that). Below you'll find gift ideas perfect for the Ohio lover, the adventurous soul, or those who have a passion for an active lifestyle. In other words, "OHventurous" gift ideas!

1. OHventures T-Shirts: We might be biased, but we are pretty sure that the best gift on this list is the brand new OHventures t-shirts! If you have anyone on your gift list who loves to run, hike, bike, jog, or walk competitively or just for fun in Ohio, then this is the shirt for you. Or, if you are a supporter of the blog, an Ohio fanatic, or just like a good graphic tee when you see one, order one NOW! Simply email to get the order placed. You will need to include your gender and size (or the gender and size of who you are buying for). You can pay with check or through PayPal!

2. Celebrate Local: You can probably get ALL of your Ohio-centric shopping done in one stop! Over 170 vendors from all corners of the Buckeye state have brought their Ohio-made products to one centralized location: Celebrate Local, a shop found at Easton Town Center!  Shelves and shelves of goodies honey, cupcakes, beauty products, handmade bags, popcorn, dips, tea, coffee, jewelry, aprons, clothing, candies, produce, pasta, and MORE. Some of my favorite local Ohio vendors previously featured on OHventures also have their goods for sale at Celebrate Local: The Candle LabCamelot CellarsJeni's Splendid Ice Creams, and Brother's Drake Mead

3. Food Tour Tickets: If you are stumped as to what to ge certain people this holiday season, consider the one thing that we ALL have in common: FOOD. Everyone loves food. It's what brings us together. I don't know anyone who doesn't like food. OHventures likes to make food adventurous to of course go along with our adventurous lifestyles! Perhaps consider getting that difficult person on your list a ticket to a food tour in Ohio? There are plenty of good ones to choose from thanks to our friends at Columbus Food Adventures, Columbus Brew Adventures, Canton Food Tours, and Wooster Food Tours!

4. BeachBody Products: I am a huge advocate for a healthy lifestyle...after all, if we live longer, we have more time to explore Ohio and check things off of our Buckeye Bucket List, right?! Back in 2012, I started using BeachBody products to coincide with my running and hiking. I gained strength in my legs, as well as balance, stability and felt better overall! Using the P90X workout, my transformation was rather noticeable! In 2013, I became a BeachBody Coach and I highly recommend its products for anyone who is looking to fulfill a New Years Resolution of a healthier lifestyle in 2014. Try any of the workout programs, such as Insanity, Body Beast, Hip Hop Abs, or my favorite P90X! Or, incorporate Shakeology into your diet to have more energy, lose weight, become more regular and feel awesome!

5. Ohio Apparel: If the aforementioned OHventurs shirts somehow don't seem to be the right shirt for the loved one in your life (we forgive you, kind of), then there are still a lot of great Ohio-themed shirts to choose from! Snag yourself anything Akro-American at Rubber City Clothing in Akron, Cleveland apparel at Fresh Brewed Tees, or shirts for pretty much any other city in Ohio at Homage in Columbus! Homage is definitely the star of the show here, as their t-shirts are pretty much famous across the nation. They are vintage and nostalgic, yet very stylish and comfortable. I have a number of shirts from here! You can even read my Yelp review on Homage if you need more convincing.

6. Ohio-Made Wood Carvings: 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 quaking aspen. All pieces are carved using a chainsaw, chisel, and other hand tools! They are being sold for $150 a piece (or best offer). Shoot us an email at and we can chat! Personalized orders can also be made! Made in Youngstown with pride!

7.  Running Gear: It's no secret that OHventures focuses heavily on running! That said, we know the importance of having the right gear for when we hit the pavement. Many other runners probably also have that same need! Running shoes wear out quickly, and there is always a need for more running clothes because of the ever-changing weather in Ohio! My store of choice is Fleet Feet, which has locations in Cincinnati, Lewis Center, and Northfield Center. Here, they can even give you a one-on-one diagnosis so you get the perfect shoe for your very individualized food. For complete listing of stores in Ohio where you can get specially fitted running shoes, visit OhioOutside. The runner in your life will thank you!!

8. Extreme Gift Certificate: If you follow the blog, you would know there are endless ideas of things to do in Ohio. Some of the more extreme activities will make the best Christmas gifts! Consider getting a friend or family member a gift certificate to take them out of their comfort zone and try something new! Ideas are: Paintballing at Splatterpark Paintball in Mt. Gilead, Horseback Riding at Faith Ranch in Jewett, Parasailing at Put-In-Bay Parasail, Paddleboarding with Projeect 908 in Columbus, Ziplining at Ozone Zipline Adventures in Lebanon, Caving at Ohio Caverns, and the list goes on and on and on.

9. Race Entry: For Christmas each year, my brother and his wife purchase for me an entry to run in the Warrior Dash! This is actually a pretty awesome gift because it generally costs about $60 or more to enter into the race! Try doing the same for a runner on your list to save them the trouble of entering themselves? Perhaps you can buy a ticket for yourself too so you can run together? Ideas of races that are usually on the pricy side of things (and therefore make a great gift) are: Foam Fest, Mud Ninja, Glo Run, and Color Run!

10. Books From Ohio Authors: Last but not least, I thought I might plug some books from Ohio authors who are friends of OHventures. They have fun books on the market that would be a great stocking stuffer! I have all of these books myself, so I can personally recommend them! Breakfast With Nick (a review of some of the best places to eat breakfast in Columbus by Nick Dekker), Home Sweet Homes (tips on moving from Diane Laney Fitzpatrick who has moved many many times), and The Winners Manual by Jim Tressel (okay, so he isn't my "friend" but he did sign my copy!).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bluebird Winery At Little Forest Inn

Photos by OHventures

5252 Alliance Road
Malvern, OH 44644

Sometimes, simple is better. The Bluebird Winery at Little Forest Inn is quaint, cozy, and simple - in a good way. Found off the beaten path in Carroll County, the winery is quite a find! They produce 25 different wines from all over the world, and also offer a full bar and gift shop. The interior is rustic, like a log cabin, and there are tales of hauntings taking place here! 

When I visited with a friend in October 2013, they had a full menu with elegant dishes like Chilean sea bass and pot roast (pictured below), however, the website now indicates that food is no longer served on site! I have been told that their doors will remain open through the end of 2013 for wine samplings, but that the winery itself has been sold and potentially will be moving to a new location.

Of course, OHventures will keep you updated if that is the case! This was a great spot, with a huge deck and beautiful scenery overlooking a pasture. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot 2013 Recap

Photos by OHventures

Thanksgiving Day for my family means two things: wobble, then gobble. In that order.

More specifcally, our "wobbling" takes place in the form of the Warren Kiwanis Turkey Trot, a 2 or 5 mile walk/run that takes part on the campus of Kent State Trumbull Branch. The gobble, of course, is the huge Thanksgiving meal that takes place afterwards at my grandparents' house in Vienna (Ohio, not Austria).

While the gobbling has been going on since long before my birth, the wobbling is a newer addition to our list of family traditions, dating back to 2012! This being just the second year made it truly a "tradition" and we hope to keep it going! Last year, it was my brother, my sister-in-law, myself, my nieces and my nephew in the race. This year, we added my mom, dad, and aunt! Hopefully we can add more family members, and even canine relatives in future years!

Unlike last year, when I wore a t-shirt and light athletic pants to run, this year there was snow all over the ground, and the temperature was therefore quite low! We all wore appropriate attire, but even that doesn't make for the most perfect of conditions. We even joked with my dad that his participation this year would probably result in snow, given that last year was so beautiful. We were right!

I decided to be "that guy" and wear an obnoxious foam turkey hat while I ran, which I got in my swag bag from the Kent State Stark Turkey Trot the previous weekend (it was very coincidental that I ran on 2 Kent State Branch campuses within one week!). But, I was most certainly not the only one with poultry fashions in mind! There were people with elaborate turkey hats, in both their live form and dead form, and even a guy wearing a full-on turkey suit, which must have been pretty warm! I had to get my picture with him, because it was that freaking awesome!

The announcer said that there were a record amount of people who registered for the race, but they clearly did not all show up due to the weather. Last year, there were 2700 runners, which was said to be the largest turnout in Trumbull County race history. The crowd was nearly not as large as last year's! We crowded together and when the clock struck 9:00 AM, our race began!

It was a simple course, and was exactly the same as the year before. We ran up a long road (slightly uphill), around a classroom building, and then back down the road to the finish line. It was difficult to maneuver around all of the young children "running" in the race (a pet peeve of mine), and also difficult to run on the slushy roadway. But, I managed. I was very pleased with my final time of 16:20, given the circumstances. I beat the rest of my family members, but was not near the front of the pack. It was a respectable time for me.

We did not stay around like we did last year. It was so cold that we just got in the car and left, even while people were still finishing! I am telling you, I was not made for winter weather! We all donned our neon orange race shirts over to my grandparents' house for the "gobble" portion of the day and we were sure to take the ever-important family photo in our matching attire.

My niece had us write down things we were thankful for, and then she read them outloud. One of my top things to be thankful for? Turkey trots, of course!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kent State Stark Turkey Trot Recap

Photos by OHventures

The other day, someone told me I was like Superman because of all of these races that I do. While it was a flattering comment, and even though I did go as Clark Kent for Halloween, Superman I am not! I am merely human, and the fact that I sign up for all of these races is simply because I have such a strong passion and dedication for the spirit of running and competition. What I try to do through running is encourage those who think they can't that they indeed can. You don't need to be Superman - or Spiderman, or Wonder Woman, or Wolverine (although all of those would be pretty awesome). You just need to make a decision to get up and go.

I say this because on the morning of November 23, I had to get up bright and early (as I seem to keep doing) to run in the Kent State Stark Turkey Trot, taking place at 9 AM in North Canton (my new hometown)! The night before, I had a party to attend, and had a few too many vodka sodas, and also went to bed at a less than desirable hour. The morning of the race was supposed to be one of the coldest days of November. Sure enough, there was frost on the ground when I peered out the window.

It took everything I had in me to roll myself out of bed, shower, and put on enough layers of fleece, compression pants, technical shirts, long johns, and heavy duty socks to keep me warm. I coffeed up and begrudgingly drove to the Kent State Campus. I am not the type of person to want to quit anything, or not fulfill commitments. And, besides, I signed up for this race for the sole reason that I wanted to make sure that I had 20 races in 2013. The fact that it was so close to home made it very convenient.

I knew all along that I would be riding the strugglebus all the way to this race, because I knew when signing up that there was the big party the night before. But  I wanted to make sure I accomplished my goal of having 20 races. I kept repeating that in my head whenever I had second thoughts that morning.

Arriving on campus, I got my bib and chip and wandered around for a bit when all of the sudden I heard someone call my name! It was my friend, Samira, who was there to run the race as well! I had no idea she would be there participating, but I was SO glad to see her. She immediately told me, "you look tired!" That was an understatement! 

We got our picture with Flash (the mascot) and headed to the starting line. I wasn't ready for this race in so many ways, but that wouldn't stop it from happening. Once we started, I sucked it up and powered through. My body was hurting all over but I pushed myself through the course, which to add insult to injury, was mostly UPHILL! I huffed and puffed, and I winced and grimaced all the way around the Kent State Stark campus. 

With bags under my eyes and frost on the ground, I finally crossed the finish line (which was atop of the steepest hill of the course) and couldn't have been happier. My time was not up to par. It was about 26 minutes. For me, this was not so hot, as I typically run a 5K in 23 minutes. But it is what it is! I did it, and that was the important thing.

Samira ran at a remarkable speed, finishing in I think about 24 minutes, which she said beat her personal record by 30 seconds!! I was so proud of her and kept congratulating her on the huge accomplishment. We went to the recreation center where there were refreshments galore (including my all time favorite - orange slices!!). 

We ate our bananas and warmed up inside while the awards ceremony took place. Not surprisingly, Samira won FIRST PLACE in her age group and got a fancy shmancy gold medal! We were thrilled with that news. Soon, an announcement was made that I placed THIRD PLACE in my age group! I couldn't believe what I was hearing. How could that be? I got my bronze medal in shock and awe!

I think that the lesson learned today is that we are all human and we all face challenges. We can all think of a billion reasons to stay in bed and be sedentary. But with enough drive, determination, motivation, accountability, and dedication, you can do most everything you set out to do! Just keep your eye on the prize and push yourself to your limits. You might surprise yourself, and you might even feel like Superman when you cross that finish line :-).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Columbus Brew Adventures

Photos by OHventures

It's safe to say that for most of us, our ears will perk up at the mention of the word "beer." I mean, what goes better with watching the Browns or Bengals play on a crisp autumn afternoon than a bottle of bubbly booze? Or what allows you unwind after an exhausting hike through Ohio's fall foliage than a pint of pilsner? I think you know where I am getting at - beer and adventures go perfectly together. And not just in the fall, but all year long. So rather than go on an adventure and then have a brew, why not combine two and go on a Brew Adventure?!

With Columbus Brew Adventures introduced to us this September, now you can. Bethia Woolf, the same person who brought you Columbus Food Adventures (where we embarked on a Taco Truck Tour last year), has teamed up with Jim Ellison to bring us all another exciting way to treat yourself! With Columbus Brew Adventures, you can leave your worries behind when it comes to getting a designated driver! That's because as part of your tour you are driven around in a conversion van from brewery to brewery, and you can even have a cab called for you at the end of the evening if you are a little too loose to get behind the wheel.

At a cost of just $55-$65 per person, not only do you have the luxury of a completely mapped out bar hop, you also get generous samples of some of the best beers in all of Columbus (and Ohio) while learning fun facts and the stories behind the breweries and the brews themselves, from both Jim & Bethia, as well as the staff and owners of the places you visit on the tour! Because the tours are limited in size (you can only fit so many rowdy adults in the back of a conversion van), you must pre-order your tickets on the Columbus Brew Adventures official website. The tours fill up fast, so it's best to plan ahead, especially if you have a large group!

There are currently seven different tours offered, which all vary in theme, usually according to geography. The current tours available are: The Grandview Brewery Tour, The Downtown Brewery Tour, Pitchers & Pizza Tour, Meet The Brewers Tour, Southeast Ohio (Athens) Brewery Tour, Granville & Buckeye Lake Brewery Tour, and the Columbus Distilleries Tour (this one deviates from the beer theme and turns it up a notch with locally brewed liquors from Watershed Distillery and Middle West Spirits!).

I had the privilege of being invited to join Jim Ellison on a Downtown Brewery Tour on Saturday, November 9. Without hesitation, I carved time out of my schedule (twist my arm, why don't you?) and happily made my way to the meeting location for the start of the tour: Columbus Brewing Company (CBC). This would be the first of four stops we would make that day. The tour would start at 2;30 PM and last about 3.5 hours or so.

The CBC was a great spot to start, since it is located in what is known as the "Brewery District" of Columbus (in the south central portion of the city. It's located near German Village not by coincidence, but because most of the beers were/are German). Ironically, CBC is currently the one and only brewery still located in the Brewery District (at its height, the Brewery District was home to 5 breweries in the late 1800s and early 1900s, before prohibition). All of these little tidbits of info were factoids that I learned while on the Brew Tour, from our server at CBC, Jamie.

Seated around a large rectangular table in a private section of the restaurant/bar, Jamie served us up a bounty of food to start us off - it would be dangerous to start the tour on an empty stomach! We had calamari, flatbread pizza, chicken wings, and a gargantuan pile of loaded nachos she referred to as "Nacho Jenga." We were told that CBC attempts to incorporate beer in its food as much as possible, as evidenced by their beer cheese soup and pub nachos.

After we were adequately fed, Jamie served us three very different and very flavorful beer samples made at CBC. While I was impressed by all of the beers at CBC, the one that stood out from the crowd was the Bodhi, a double IPA that has been voted best in all of Ohio by! With 8.5 percent alcohol, it has a sweet finish that had me begging for more! Alas, we had to make room for the beers at the rest of the breweries on the tour (you can read more about Columbus Brewing Company on my Yelp Review)!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Historic Village of Zoar

Photos by OHventures

It's likely that you have never heard of the tiny town of Zoar before now. But the job of OHventures is to bring to light some of the lesser known hot spots that are worth a visit. With 169 residents in the 2010 census, this historic village is one that is sure to turn heads whenever driving through.

On my annual camping visits to Atwood Lake in Tuscawaras County, I would always slow the car down and rubberneck my way through what I later learned was the Village of Zoar. It doesn't take long to drive through, yet there is much to see. The buildings are perfectly puritan, some dating back to 1817 when a group of German Separatists were seeking escape from religious persecution in their home country.

Heading here is like taking a quick journey back in time at a speed of 88.8 miles per hour with Marty McFly. The architecture consists of colonial-looking masonry, ornate observation towers (like that on top of the Zoar Hotel - pictured above), and even homes that resemble log cabins. You will stumble across centuries-old buildings with old fashioned trades, such as the cobbler shop, the blacksmith, and the weaving house

Me & Slider hanging out at the Zoar Town Hall!

Many of the buildings are open to the public through educational tours that showcase how things were done in the olden days. You can witness butter churning, bread baking, and tinsmithing on a hands-on guided tour all year long, as well as special Christmas tours to see the village decorated for the holiday season. The Old Cider Mill is currently an antique shop, as well as a bed & breakfast to those who want to stay overnight and get the full experience! Ghost tours, Civil War reenactments, the annual Harvest Festival in August, and nearly year-round crafts are highlights of the culture to be experienced throughout the year in Zoar.

School House Winery

Photos by OHventures

455 Schneider's Crossing Road NW
Dover, OH 44622
(330) 602-WINE

If these walls could talk, they would surely  tell the tales of young Ohio schoolchildren of the late 1800s and early 1900s learning their way through reading, writing and arithmetic in the heart of Tuscawaras County. They'd be likely to spout off stories of dunce caps and chalkboards, yard sticks, and pencil sharpeners. Built in 1886, Oak Grove School held classes in one room from all students grade 1-8 up until 1941. It was thereafter owned by numerous families and used as a home, until it became what it is today: The School House Winery, established in 2009. 

Owners David and Jennifer Jagunic ferment all of the wine on site, most made with grapes from the Lake Erie region. They have approximately 2 acres of beautiful landscaping including a small pond and outside sitting area where patrons can enjoy live local music every Saturday night. 

The school house has been painted a strikingly bright red hue that stands out in the countryside backdrop. Inside, the one-room school house has been transformed to include a wrap-around bar in the center and ample seating throughout. 

All of the wines have been cleverly given elementary school-related monikers, and are available for approximately $13-16 per bottle, $5 per glass, or $0.50 per sample. Naturally, I opted to get a sample of each of the 11 available wines so I could see what tastes each had to offer! Julie, our bartender, poured the samples from driest to sweetest and lined them all in a row!

First up was The Principal, which is the driest red, and seemed like a crowd favorite (others coming to the bar seemed to ask for this one). I personally loved it, given that dry reds are my favorite! The next was Oak Grove, named after the original school. This one reminded me of wine consumed at church during communion, which is a good thing! Equation was next, which was the driest white wine available, and was rather palatable. My absolute favorite was next in line: Bully Red. Full of character, it had a smoky, oaky flavor, and I even bought a bottle to take home!

Next came Eraser, a semi sweet white wine, followed by Teacher's Pet (which wins the coolest name award in my book and is apparently the winery's true best seller), Lazy Daze, Cranberry (a seasonal sweet red), Class Clown (tasted too much like candy to me), and an apple-flavored wine that was a delight!

A small yet incredibly tasteful menu is available that includes meatballs in a bread bowl, 10 inch pizzas (veggie, cheese/garlic, and pepperoni), subs, and pizza rolls. All menu items were made with local ingredients, such as bread from nearby Breadhead Bakery, Mids sauces from Navarre, and cheese from Heini's Cheese Chalet in Berlin.

This quaint winery is one of the most memorable and noteworthy I have been to in Ohio, and is worth a road trip no matter where you're coming from - just be sure to have a DD!

Ohio State Four Miler Photo Blog

Who: You and 10,000 other Buckeye fans, running enthusiasts & OSU students/alumni!
What: The Ohio State Four Miler
When: November 10, 2013. Be on the lookout for this race every fall!
Where: The Ohio Stadium, OSU Campus, Columbus
Why: To say that you have crossed the finish line on the 50-yard-line of the Horseshoe!
How: Keep your eyes on upcoming events by M3S Sports!

Photos by OHventures and M3S Sports

Ohio State Four Miler Recap

Photos by OHventures

Many races have their schtick: whether it be cool swag (like the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K), cool locations (like the Brace Against Hunger 5K at Gervasi Winery), or cool things being splattered on you (paint, mud, foam...). 

One of the best marketing ploys of them all comes from those at M3S Sports (the company who brought you the Cap City Half Marathon and the Oktoberfest Brat Trot). Their major selling point? Cross the finish line on the 50 yard line of the Buckeyes' football field in Ohio Stadium! What can be more enticing than that??

Diehard Buckeyes fans (that's me), running enthusiasts (that's me too), OSU students/alumni (oh that's me too!), and any combination of the above gathered together on the morning of Sunday, November 10, 2013 for the inaugrual Ohio State Four Miler. It was a frigid fall morning, with wind whipping its way through campus, causing the nearly 10,000 running participants to huddle for heat, rubbing hands together and adding on layers of Buckeyes-themed garb. 

Me, Beth & Jim

A sea of scarlet and gray swarmed the area surrounding the stadium in anticipation for the big race. With so many people, it took an awfully long time until everyone was off and running. For some reason, they staggered the runners and only allowed a certain amount of people start at a time. I can see the logic behind this, but while freezing my kiester off, I had wished I was closer to the start of the pack!

Once the floodgates opened for the corral that I had been plopped into (10 minute pace group, which is not really my pace), it was full steam ahead! I was a bit unsure of how well I would do today for a number of reasons, the main one being that I had participated in a Columbus Brew Adventure the night before and was therefore a bit foggy in the head. Also, it was so cold, I was tired, and had not run as much as I would have liked in the past couple of weeks.