Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Avon Lake Dirty Dog 5K Recap

Photos by OHventures and Earth Fare Cleveland

By now, you should know that I am the proud owner of a nine pound pup named Slider, whom I take on various doggy 5Ks, such as the Run With The Pack 5K and the Defend Your Friend 5K in Columbus. We've become nicely acquainted with one another's running style and we seem to work well together now (I am not tripping over his leash or running too fast like I was in the early stages).

On July 21, 2013, I thought it was about time to step it up a notch or two. Slider and I traveled to Lorain County to the town of Avon Lake to take part in the Avon Lake United Church of Christ Dirty Dog Run, Walk, and Wash! There were torrential downpours the night before and the morning of the race. Things were NOT looking good for us! My friends who were planning to run that morning took one look at the dark gray storm clouds and decided to back out. I, however, am pretty crazy! So, I went ahead to the church to prepare for the run.

But because of the friends deciding not to participate, I wound up running with ANOTHER dog in addition to Slider! Our running mate was my friend's 5 pound chihuahua, Max, who was only pushing seven months old on his inaugural 5K run! I was very skeptical for how this race was going to go. The pouring rain and the added canine were not going to make it easy. Thankfully, by the time I arrived on site, the rain cleared up! Not a single droplet fell on me or the dogs for the rest of the day! Praise the Lord!

Walking around with Slider and Max surely attracted a great deal of attention. So many people kept stopping me and asking me about the little dynamic duo, and many people vocalized their disbelief that I was going to RUN the 5K with both of these little guys, especially since a 1-mile walk was an available option. Depite all of the doubt cast by onlookers, I went for it! The horn sounded and the three of us were off and running!

Much to my surprise, running with these two dogs was not as awkward or as difficult as I had thought. I just had to pay extra attention so that they would not cross over in front of me and so that the leashes didn't get all tangeld up! The crisp post-rain air actually made things a bit more bearable, as we did not have to run in 90 degree weather as I have had to in the past.

The course was through a small residential area in Avon Lake, which was a nice added bonus. The pups would occasionally stop to pee and -ahem- other things, which slowed us down a bit. But other than that, they kept up pretty well! Max set the pace, which was very surprising, but makes sense since he is such a young puppy full of endless amounts of energy. He would bark at many of the other dogs though, which was kind of funny.

Soon enough, the course wrapped up and we charged through the finish line in full force! We completed the race with a time of 32:40, which was better than any other dog 5K I had ever done before! This was remarkable, given that their were TWO dogs with me! I owe it to Max, who was the fastest of us all! My time helped land me a prize! I was the 2nd Place Finishing Male in my age group, which meant I got a "trophy"! It was so exciting!

Even though it was not raining, it HAD rained all day and the night before, so the dogs were kicking up a ton of water onto their undersides. Good thing that the "Dirty Dog" also offered FREE dog washes to all those in attendance! We stood in line for a little bit and the pups got all shampoo'ed and scrubbed clean! It was a great amenity and a genius idea (all dog 5Ks should offer this at the end of the race)!

Food, live music, and dog friendly companies were all present after the run. Earth Fare Cleveland was kind enough to give Slider and Max some treats, and snap some great pics of them (below).

This was a fantastic event and a great challenge for me, despite the odds. It was also for a great purpose: the Dog Wash and Dirty Dog 5K are fundraisers for the Youth Ministry programs at Avon Lake U.C.C. Specifically the proceeds from this event are used to help fund the various mission trips that Jr. High youth and High School youth from the church attend each summer.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

FLIP Darby Creek Trail Run Photo Blog

Who: Team OHventures, FLIP Now, and over 250 other runners and walkers
When: July 13, 2013
Why: To explore Ohio, get in shape, and raise funds to fight cancer
How: By joining a team through FLIP Now!

Photos by OHventures and FLIP Now. More photos available here.

FLIP Darby Creek Trail Run Recap

Photos by Team OHventures

Last month on July 13, OHventures had the opportunity to partner with a local Columbus-based organization, FLIP Now, for its annual Darby Creek Trail Run 5K/10K. It was a perfect fit, as both OHventures and FLIP are devoted to promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, and both are advocates for exploring the great outdoors in the state of Ohio. Additionally, FLIP encourages others to Fight, Live, Inspire, and Prevent (FLIP...get it?) cancer through special events, including races!

So when Carl Seiley from FLIP Now was interested in having a "Team OHventures" take part in its staple "inspire" event, the Darby Creek Trail Run, we were incredibly excited. This was the first opportunity to gather OHventures readers together to fight for a cause, get a cardiovascular workout through walking and running, and see a part of the state that none of us had been to before!

The best thing about the Flip Now Darby Creek Trail Run was that it offered a number of options to accommodate the different skill levels and interests of participants! The 10K and 5K courses were each completely separate from one another (aside from the start/finish line) and 5K participants had the option of being "walkers." On top of that, dogs were permitted in the race as well! Team OHventures had people participating in every option possible!

Me and My Family at the Darby Creek Trail Run!

Team OHventures (I love the sound of that) consisted of: Myself, My Mom (Kim), My Dad (Mark), my Aunt Patty, and my friends Matt, Ryan K., Ryan H., Emily, Beth, Rachel, Spenser, and Katie (Katie's husband Matt also came to take photos and give moral support). Those who did the 5K walk were: Mom, Dad, Patty, and Katie (with her dog Lilly); those who did the 5K run were: Matt, Ryan K. (with his dog Franklin), Ryan H., and Emily; and those who did the 10K run were Myself, Spenser and Rachel (with her dog Hunter). I was thrilled to have such a great turnout of folks who came to support the fight against cancer through FLIP, and to help support the blog as well!

The Batelle Darby Creek Metro Park is located in western Franklin County in the city of Galloway. The race began bright and early at 9:00 AM. We were all amped, as it was an absolutely gorgeous day, if not a little too hot. The gun sounded and we shot through the starting gate, splitting off almost immediately. Since I ran the 10K, I can only give a firsthand account of that course. However, I do know that the 5K course was mostly paved, and looped around a bison preserve. Unfortunately, I had reports that there were no bison to be seen on the morning of the race (save for on the photo on the fence)! The other runners and walkers did, however, let me know that it was a very pleasant and picturesque course on wide, flat terrain.
Rachel & Hunter

The 10K course, on the other hand, was not so flat and wide. It mostly weaved through a thick wooded area, and had gargantuan hills that were incredibly steep and incredibly long. They were so difficult that I decided to walk up the hills as not to "run out of gas" trying to slowly jog up the hill. Because it was so hot, I was extremely sweaty and extremely thirsty. I only wish there were more than just two water stops during the 6.2 mile course. I also wished there were mile markers so we could see how far we went. That kind of made it so we had to do it the old fashioned way and keep on running until you didn't have to anymore (which was kind of cool in a way).

Crossing that finish line, I was filled with lots of euphoria, as everyone from Team OHventures was there cheering me on, as well as Carl and others from FLIP Now. It was truly a fantastic experience.

Race results for our team were as follows:

5K Results:
Emily: 30:09.3
Ryan K.: 30:49.8
Matt C.: 31:23.2
Beth: 31:52.0
Ryan H.: 36:25.9
Katie: 47:21.6
Patty: 48:13.0
Mark: 48:15.7
Kim: 48:16.1

10K Results:
Spenser: 50:28.0
Mike: 1:03:37.3
Rachel: 1:09:56.8 

Everyone had AWESOME times. And, let's not forget the great performances by Lilly (with Katie), Franklin (with Ryan), and especially Hunter (with Rachel)! Running that far for those pups is the most impressive of all (Slider says congrats!)!

I was dripping with sweat but didn't have a care in the world! I learned that despite all of the excruciating hills, I absolutely LOVE trail runs. They beat running on shut-down city streets any day!

Most all of us headed to Bob Evans for breakfast (hey, it's an Ohio based company after all!) and then me and my family attend the official FLIP Now After Party located in Grandview at Fifth Avenue King. There, I saw my old pal Andrea, and more importantly, I discovered that Team OHventures won the prize for the LARGEST TEAM to participate. That is pretty awesome. We won a party for up to 50 friends at the new event space in Brewery District called "The Vue." The party can take place sometime between October and March. We will have an OHventures party and you'll all be invited!

Me & Andrea at the After Party

It was great to have all of us together doing something positive to help fight cancer and also to explore Ohio.

We had beautiful weather and great scenery, even though there were really tough hills on the 10K course and there were no bison to be seen on the 5K course!

Many thanks again to all participants!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Paddleboarding Photo Blog

Who: You and any friend wanting a great workout and some thrills doing something extremely unique.
What: Paddleboarding 
When: Whenever the water isn't frozen over, March-November!
Where: On any body of water within Ohio, from Lake Erie to the Ohio River to Griggs Reservoir.
Why: To experience a new and different surface water sport that gives you great exercise!
How: $30-$80 by renting (or buying) through Project 908

Photos by OHventures and Project 908.

Paddleboarding With Project 908

Photos by Project 908 and OHventures

Up until recently, I had no idea what paddleboarding was. I could probably make a few educated guesses based on the make-up of the compound word itself, but I still was not totally sure. But even without knowing exactly what it was, when someone asked me to go paddleboarding, I of course agreed. I mean, "YOLO," as the kids say these days.

Paddleboarding is also known as stand up paddle surfing or stand up paddleboarding. However, you don't actually have to stand up the whole time either, as you can opt to kneel or even lay down while doing it. This surface water sport consists of a surfboard-type device approximately 10-12 feet in length, typically made out of fiberglass or a similar material. As the name suggests, it also requires one to have an oar, or "paddle," to propel oneself on the water.

As it turns out, paddleboarding is gaining a ton of popularity, even in Ohio. That's because unlike surfing, paddleboarding does not necessarily require waves, or even a current, for one to partake. You can paddleboard on any body of water, whether it be an ocean, a lake, a river, or just a tiny little quarry (like I did). It is much less extreme than surfing, but still provides a lot of thrills and a killer workout.

In Central Ohio, a company called Project 908 was started for all of your paddleboarding needs! OHventures had the opportunity to meet with the owner, Nate, to get private lessons and learn more about the company itself.

Project 908 offers rental packages and private lessons to those interested! There are many options that you can discuss to maximize your paddleboarding experience. Make sure you call or email the office a few days in advance to plan everything. Project 908 can deliver boards right to you in and around Columbus, or you can transport the boards yourself with the proper vehicles! The prices are extremely reasonable: $30 per board for 2 hours, $60 per board for 4 hours (half day), and $80 per board for a full day.

Some great ideas of where to take your paddleboards are: Alum Creek, the Griggs Reservoir, or the Scioto Mile downtown. Me and my friends Matt and Jessica, as well as my cousin Jake, opted for ultimate convenience and had the paddleboards delivered right to my home at the Runaway Bay Apartment Complex. The complex sits on a large quarry, so we could spend our 2 hours on a calm, peaceful, and nearby body of water.

Nate brought the boards to us at the quarry and we spared no time getting them in the water!! There were a few different boards that he brought to us, each one a bit more advanced than the other. My friends nominated me to go first, so I of course took the least risky of the boards so that I didn't embarrass myself! It was a large, flat blue paddleboard that we nicknamed the blue whale!

Getting going on the paddleboard was a bit tricky! You have to start in a kneeling position, bringing yourself to a standing position slowly yet deliberately so that you maintain your balance on the board. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and should straddle the middle of the board exactly so that you do not wobble.

Once you are all aligned, the tough part is steering with the oar. You place on hand on the top (which I didn't always do by mistake), and one lower on the handle. Like a canoe or rowboat, you must switch sides when paddling in order to go straight. If you want to turn right, you paddle on the left and if you want to turn left, you paddle on the right. Reversing is a bit more advanced, but essentially requires you to "back paddle" by turning the oar backwards.

I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and watched as the others hopped on their boards. We each took turns on the different boards so we could experience the different levels of difficulty. Some are more aerodynamic and require you to focus more on balancing in order to master it. Matt and I even switched boards in mid water, without getting wet, which was fun, yet pretty tricky!

I never fell into the water, but I admittedly played it pretty safe as well. Jake took a spill on one of the more difficult boards when taking a turn (he would probably advise you to think twice about paddleboarding when hungover). And Matt took a number of falls, but that was because he was attempting daredevil tricks such as handstands and headstands!

Nate told us that sometimes he takes folks out on the boards and they all have a yoga class in the middle of a lake. Because of this, he had both Jess and I try different yoga moves, such as the sun salutations and side planks. Let me tell you, if you think that yoga is hard enough in a studio, try doing it on top of a paddleboard! That extra element of balance really takes it up a few levels!! No matter what you do on the boards, be prepared for some sore feet, calves, and shoulders, as your muscles are working in overtime to get yourself moving on the water.

The water was perfect - like glass - on the day we paddleboarded with Project 908! It really could not have been a better experience. Nate was a fantastic teacher and was extremely easy to get along with. He was kind enough to take a number of photos for us (which you can see throughout this post). We also scored some awesome t-shirts to show off our accomplishment (available for purchase online). The best thing was that he allowed for my dog, Slider, to hop on the paddleboard for a few minutes at the very end (below)!!

Project 908 actually manufactures all of their paddleboards right here in the state's capital of Columbus, which allows for some customization. You can pick between different color options, as well as custom graphics. In addition you can purchase different packages along with your paddleboard to get exactly what you want out of your paddleboard experience. So if you rent a board and come to find that it's something you love, perhaps the next step is to consider buying one through Project 908!

No matter what you have in mind for you and a group of friends to scratch paddleboarding off of your Buckeye Bucket List, do not hesitate to go with Project 908. They will work with you to accommodate you in any way they can, and you will find that paddleboarding is the most fun you can have standing up!