Sunday, April 28, 2013

McKinley Monument

Photo by OHventures, April 2013

McKinley National Monument 
800 McKinley Monument Drive NW
Canton, OH 44708
(330) 455-7043

It is pretty remarkable that the 25th President of the United States is buried right here in Canton! Canton was William McKinley’s “adopted” home, having been born in Niles (near Youngstown) and later practicing law in Canton. He lived here when he became Governor of Ohio until he later had to of course move to Washington DC to serve as president! History is rich and deep here at the absolutely stunning and ornate monument (pictured at the beginning of the post) that was built for his final resting place, after being assassinated in 1901. Even if you’re not a history or political nerd like me, you will still appreciate what this building holds and represents. You'll appreciate even more the adjacent museum dedicated to the historical leader.

In addition to all of the architectural splendor and historial aspects the monument brings to the city (and the state as a whole), the McKinley Monument also adds an element of fitness and adventure to the community. Each and every day, rain or shine, one can find any number of individuals or groups of boot-campers running up and down the stairs Rocky Balboa style! Over the years, the 106 stairs at the monument have become a hotspot for health nuts and fitness freaks looking to use the landmark as their very own outdoor public gym! 

Folks will get their cardio fix running the stairs over and over, feeling the burn in their calves, quads and lungs (much like the Fight For Air Climbs). People also get to build muscle by using the landings of the monument as areas to perform sets of push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and other body-sculpting exercises. I personally joined some physical trainers at the site for some early-morning stair climbs and got my butt kicked! That day, there were over 100 people gathered from local gyms (and as individuals) also making the most of their surroundings.

It is awesome how versatile the McKinley Monument can be for everyone in the area. It's the location for many events throughout the year, including concerts, fireworks, patriotic celebrations (such as 9/11 rememberance cerremonies), and more.

Akron Color Vibe Recap

Photos by OHventures

Whoever came up with the "color run" concept was a creative genius: people participate in a 5K race dressed in white, getting splattered with bursts of colored powder along the way so that they end up looking like a rainbow threw up on them? Who thinks of this stuff? I suspect that color runs were invented as an alternative to the mud run: instead of getting drenched in brown mud throughout a course, why not get drenched in colorful "paint" instead? Pure. Genius.

However they came to be, color runs are a strong fixture in the novelty running scene. Various companies have sprouted up with their own take on the event: Color Run (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati), Color Vibe (Akron, Dayton, Toledo), Color Me Rad 5K Run (Columbus, Akron, Toledo), Color Blaze 5K (Lima), and others that are not located within Ohio (Graffiti Run, for example). Thousands and thousands of people take part in these color runs, so if it tickles your fancy, you should probably sign up as soon as possible before it sells out! 

Video by Amanda Williams

I recently took part in the Akron Color Vibe 5K on April 27, 2013. The event took place at 9 AM at the Summit County Fairgrounds, technically located in the City of Tallmadge. As suspected, traffic was backed up for miles getting into the fairgrounds. Thankfully, it was a rain-free day (you wouldn't want all the color to wash off!) with the perfect temperature for a great run. My friend Ryan (a local musician and Featured OHventurer) came along for the ride. We came equipped with hats and bandanas, an extra pair of clothes to change into at the end, wet wipes, and towels to line the seats of the car. All of these things are good precautions to take, however, you will find that the color is not as damaging to your clothes or car as you would think!

At the registration booth, we were given Color Vibe t-shirts (which were white, so that all the colors would show up better), a pair of sunglasses (to shield your eyes from all the color), a racing bib (which is more of a keepsake than anything else, since the run is not timed), and most important of all - packets of color!! We were given one packet of yellow and one packet of blue. I personally was hoping for my favorite color (green), but it turned out we did not get much of a choice. We ran into some people we knew who were running and they had purple and pink packets! So, naturally, we all took turns throwing all of the color powders at one another! We used all the techniques we could think of to pelt each other with the powder. My personal favorite was "The LeBron James Chalk Toss."

Even though the race was set to begin at 9AM, there was no way that everyone was going to start at that time (thankfully). Instead, they had everyone line up and took waves of approximately 1,000 runners at a time. While waiting in the mass of color runners, more color packets were thrown into the crowd, and I was able to intercept my precious green color packet!! Everyone was "jonesin' for colors" and going buckwild throwing the powder (which was nothing more than dyed corn starch) every which direction! A super fun moment happened when Color Vibe workers came by with what looked like fire extinguishers that shot out - you guessed it - even more color!! Looking around, it was great to see everyone laughing and enjoying themselves!!

Soon, it was time for the race to begin for my group. The course was very interesting. I will say it was definitely not my favorite, as it turned out to be an "all terrain" experience - running on grass, dirt, pebbles, pavement, etc. The course weaved throughout the fairgrounds, at times with orange cones haphazardly designating the way to go. It was a bit hectic, but no one seemed to care too much, given that it was not a serious run! Some people were cutting corners or skipping parts of the track altogether. We stayed true to the route, however.

Color stations were scattered throughout the course where Color Vibe volunteers threw more of the powdery stuff on you by various means (squirt bottles, buckets, hands, etc.). Each station had its unique color - blue, pink, green, purple, and yellow. All ages and athletic abilities were amidst the runners and volunteers, and all of our once-blank canvases were turned into artsy masterpieces by the end!

I did not officially time myself with an app on my phone, however, I ran the event in approximately 26 minutes, give or take a few seconds. I was very pleased with this, and was also pleased to discover that the corn starch color cleaned up very easily and nicely. My shoes were the hardest to clean, but everything else was pretty easy (even my iPhone that was in my pocket that got some powder on it cleaned up well). Anyone who is asthmatic might have a bit more trouble in the run, but other than that, the colors were not bothersome to many! Ryan and the others I ran with had colorful sweat marks running down their faces, which was probably one of the funniest sights to see!

All in all, the color run was one of the most enjoyable and lighthearted races I have done in a long time, and I highly recommend!

Glo Run Recap

Photos by OHventures

First came mud runs, then came dog runs, and soon after came zombie runs. But now, a whole new kind of 5K walk/run has arrived: glow-in-the-dark! Like many novelty races, there are many different names for the same kind of event: the Glow Run (Columbus), Electric Run (Columbus & Cincinnati), and Glo Run (Columbus) are all examples, and many are taking their turns in various Ohio cities. On April 6, 2013, the Glo Run Columbus 5K walk/run was held and OHventures was there to try it out firsthand!

When I told my mom about a 5K walk/run that included glow sticks, laser shows, black lights, and fluorescent clothing, all she could do is laugh and say "sign me up!" My mom is not a runner, for the record, but she wanted to be a part of one the zany races that me and my brother were always taking part in! So, I signed up my mom, dad and aunt to do the Glo Run (although they joked and called it the "Slo Run" for them) when they came down to visit me in Columbus.

The "swag" for the Glo Run was pretty fun - we got neon shirts (either pink or yellow), race bibs (even though it was not a timed race), and glow-in-the-dark necklaces and "glasses" (which made us look like Wall-E). At many races, people do not wear the t-shirt until AFTER they completed the race and therefore "earned" the shirt. But, for this race, it was different. Everyone wore their pink or yellow neon t-shirts, since they themselves were part of what made the event stand out from the rest! The "Glo Run" text on the shirts in fact was "glow-in-the-dark"!

Also joining me in the race were my pals Beth (who ran the Jingle Bell Run with me in December), and Kristen (who recently participated in the Fight For Air Climb with me), The race began at 8:30 PM (you know, in order for it to get dark and all) and began/ended at Genoa Park, by COSI and the Scioto River in downtown Columbus. A DJ was spinning some jams for us to make it seem more like a techno rave than a 5K run! It was definitely a sight to see! Many people elaborated with their outfits: we saw a group of folks with neon green light-up afro wigs and another person with an outfit made entirely out of glow sticks! It was pretty bizarre if you took a step back and looked at what we were doing! But, we were having fun!

All of us agreed to walk the first half mile with my parents and aunt, as they are not runners. The first part of the course took us east on Broad Street, North on Marconi, and West on Spring. From there, Beth, Kristen and I took off running. As much as I wanted to stay with my family, it is just too hard for a runner like myself to not try my hardest! Unfortunately, it was very difficult for any "true runner" to truly run this whole race! That is because most of the rest of the course took place on the nearby bike path, and therefore was very narrow. This caused a massive bottleneck, given that there were so many participants.

Videos by OHventures

This just made us realize more that the Glo Run was definitely one to take lightly. We jogged our way through some pretty awesome tunnels where people blew bubbles, laser light shows bounced off the ceilings, and strobe lights flashed about. Another tunnel had black lights shining, which made for a pretty cool effect! Because of these fun additions and the slow moving crowd, Beth and I managed to finish in approximately 31 minutes. We grabbed some free snacks and water and waited at the "after party" for my parents, who came "sprinting" in at exactly 50 minutes. 

I have to say, I was very proud of my family for comleting the walk in such good time and good spirit! They said that they occasionally had spurts of energy and ran for a short while, but said they did not enjoy the hilly course. All in all, it was a pretty fun time. But we were definitely excited to go have our OWN after party having drinks at a nearby bar! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boston Strong Ohio

Photo by OHventures

On Monday, April 22, 2013, 100 cities across the country (as well as Paris, France), came together for the Boston Strong running events. These events were created (in a matter of days) in order to commemorate the one week mark since the horrific bombings that took place at the Boston Marathon and shook the nation.

Columbus, Westlake, Akron, and Cincinnati were 4 of those 100 cities, representing Ohio loud and proud. There was no fee to participate. There were no chip timers or starting guns. It was simply a race to show support for all of the victims - the runners, the spectators, first responders, and the human beings - who were affected by the tragedies that unfolded one week prior.

As the creator of the Boston Strong effort (Pavement Runner in San Francisco) put it, this global event can be described as:

A run for us to unite and show our strength.
A run for those that were unable to finish.
A run for those that may never run again.
A run for us to try and make sense of the tragedy that has forever changed something we love.

Being that I live in Columbus, I was able to take part in this touching and symbolic event that took place at Bicentennial Park downtown by the Scioto River. The running family of Columbus came out in full force on an absolutely gorgeous spring evening. There was not a cloud in the stunning blue sky, which set the tone for the 2-4 mile walk/run that was to take place at 6:45 PM. The event was what you made of it. You could run or walk, and go any distance you desired. The point was not to compete or to win, but rather to be a part of something greater and bigger.

Joe, Me, Steve

Me, Kristen, Mathew

Me & Ericka

While the reason for the event was somber, there were many smiles and laughs all around. These moments of joy were out of no disresepct, but rather spoke to the monumental and empowering spirit that runners have, and the passion and love we have for the sport, for our health, and for each other.

I ran side-by-side with my self-proclaimed "fitness friends" Kristen (who recently ran with me in the Glo Run and Fight For Air Stair Climb) and Mathew (who ran with me in the Oktoberfest Brat Trot and Arnold Pump & Run). On top of that, other friends of mine such as Christina from Yelp Columbus, Joe from Discover Ohio, and Ericka from ODOT were also present to participate!

Donning our blue and yellow bibs ("We are all Boston Marathoners at Heart"), Mathew, Kristen and I ran just shy of 4 miles along the Scioto River. The trees were in bloom and the air smelled amazing. A family of walkers carried American flags the whole way, which reminded us of the reason we were there that day. Despite having different levels of athletic abilities, the three of us worked together as a team to ensure that we would cross the "finish line" side by side. Even though I was incredibly tired earlier in the day, I was somehow energized and had one of the best runs I have had in a long time. There was definitely something in the air that guided us along!

Sara of Words to Run By, 2008 Boston Marathoner John Cox, and Kris of No Limits Running

#BostonStrongColumbus, as it was affectionately referred to, became possible thanks to the efforts of Sara from the local running blog Words To Live By and Kris of No Limits Running. It was a blessing in disguise getting the chance to meet these two awesome bloggers and runners through this event. I truly cannot express in words how thankful I am for their hard work for putting this together.

Many thanks also go to WSYX ABC 6 News for covering the story, and to Panera Bread and Max Muscle for providing food and drinks. 

It was great to be part of something so monumental and special for the people of Boston and the world. We all signed a poster board to show our support (shown below) which was a fantastic tribute. Let us not forget: We are all Boston Marathoners at Heart!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Valley Zipline Photo Blog

Who: You and up to seven others!
Where: Lancaster, OH
When: Spring, Summer, and Fall!
Why: To zoom through the foliage up close and personal!
How: Save up about $80 and ignore that fear of heights - you'll be safe!

Valley Zipline Tours

We are fortunate here in Ohio to have some fantastic zip lining facilities right at our fingertips! The newest of which is Valley Zipline Tours, found in Fairfield County in the northern part ofLancaster. Built in 2012, Valley Zipline Tours consists of 10 zip lines soaring high in the sky at heights up to over 100 feet above the ground. Brave souls get the rare opportunity to soak in amazing views of the local Catfish Valley, home to an extremely popular fishing pond called Paylake. 

Valley Zipline

The tour begins with a short how-to presentation to get folks acquainted with zip lining. After you get your gear on, you hop onto a mini-zip line to practice with the instructors. Our instructors and tour guides did an awesome job at making us feel comfortable and have a great time the whole way through!

Valley Zipline

Transportation then took our group (we had three, but groups can be as large as eight people) to our very first zip line! We found that the first five zip lines were built from treetop to treetop and were noticeably closer to the ground than the others. This was by design, so that the zip lines would get progressively higher off the ground and therefore ease folks into the idea of the more extreme zip lines that were to come!

We completed the treetop zip lines with ease and moved on to the tower-to-tower zip lines! Three of these zip lines run right above the aforementioned Paylake pond, providing a pretty spectacular view! These above-the-water zip lines are complete behemoths, spanning 1,000 feet from start to end and zooming at over 40 mph!