Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pro Football HOF (Half) Marathon Photo Blog

Who: Over 3,000 runners from 37 states and 5 countries.
What: The Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon & Half Marathon
Where: Canton, Stark County, Ohio
When: April 27, 2014 (next year's date is set at April 26, 2015)
Why: To run in Hall of Fame City where legends are enshrined!
How: Train appropriately and sign up early!

Photos by OHventures

Pro Football Hall of Fame (Half) Marathon Recap

Photos by OHventures

The power and strength of NFL legends of years past was shining down on over 3,000 runners Sunday, April 27, 2014 at the inaugural Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon & Half Marathon. Taking place in downtown Canton, the Pro Football Hall of Fame & Museum served as the setting for the start of the big race, while the nearby Fawcett Stadium held the finish line! Energy pumped into the streets of Stark County bright and early as runners from 37 states and 5 countries prepared themselves for the 7:00 AM starting time.

I was one of the runners huddled in Corral B, rubbing my hands together and jumping up and down to try and keep warm in the 40-degree weather. My nerves had me wound up, as this was only my second-ever half marathon I had ever participated in, the first being the Cap City Half Marathon in Columbus in May, 2012. During that fateful race two years ago, I injured my knee a great deal, causing a 5-month recovery and a lot of apprehension when it came to running long-distance again. Two years ago, I never thought I would be lining up to run another half marathon. But here I stood, ready to face the challenge head on!

Thankfully, my 100 day training program prepared me to the point that I was rather confident that my knee (and everything else) would hold up just fine. But it would take finishing this half marathon once and for all to truly convince myself that I was strong again.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame (Half) Marathon was a perfect way to reinvigorate me when it came to long-distance running. There were multiple runners alongside me who had on jerseys of their favorite NFL football team. Some even had helmets and shoulderpads as they ran, and one guy even carried a football the whole way! Seeing folks dressed as their pigskin heroes was inspiring, and kinda funny too. It also provided great imagery to the rest of us runners. We all consider the pavement to be our playing field - the halfway mark is like running past the 50 yard line and crossing the finish line is like scoring a touchdown. We are athletes and today was game day!

I threw on my headphones to blare some tunes in my ears and kept pace right behind the "1:52" sign help up by one of the official pacers. The first couple of miles were easy as pie! The sun was rising in the sky and things were starting to warm up. The course took us from the museum to Tuscawaras Street, briefly on 3rd Street, and then North on Market Avenue for a couple more miles. There was a pretty hefty hill on Market, but the downhill portion made up for all the sweat on the way up. We then headed west on 23rd Street and south on Cleveland Avenue. 

Motivational signs - both funny and serious in nature - were sprinkled along the "sidelines" and truly helped push me through each mile. Some of the best signs I saw read: "Go Hard! (That's What She Said)," "Run Fast, I Farted!," "Getting Up Early To Make This Sign Wasn't Easy Either," and my favorite that simply said "Motivational Sign." And, for the first time ever, I friend made a sign specifically to cheer for ME, and it really made me so grateful. The sign said "I Wanna Be Like Mike" and was made by my good friend Emily. Having her support, as well as other friends (and strangers alike) along the way is so appreciated!

At Mile 7, the route took us west on 4th Street to Monument Park, where we weaved in and out until Mile 11. Mile 11 was by far my biggest struggle. I was losing steam (hitting a wall, as they say), I had to pee (I stopped at the port-a-potty), I had to walk up a steep hill, and lost power to my iPod that was churning out jams to keep me running fast. All of these things hindered my time during that mile, but I didn't give up. The McKinley Monument was a highlight of this mile, and it recharged me and helped put a pep in my step again! Also, there was a random bearded stranger who was so overly enthusiastic that you couldn't help but be motivated!

The last two miles seemed like they took forever, and of course had significant uphill portions! But soon, I turned the corner and found the ground beneath me change from the asphalt roadway to the astroturf of the football field in Fawcett Stadium! Running on that field with the crowd cheering away was an amazing feeling.

I finished the race in 1:56:27 - which is literally a 30 minute improvement from my ill-fated half-marathon in Columbus in 2012!! I was so relieved and overjoyed! We received awesome medals, shaped like footballs of course, and a really cool Hall of Fame Marathon fleece blanket, which came in handy once the wind picked up (SIDE NOTE: the blanket is probably the coolest swag I have ever received at a race). After seeing my friends Emily, Ryan, and Simas at the finish line, I was in great spirits! 

Whereas last time I finished a half marathon I said I would never do one again...this time, you can quote me as saying "I'm hooked!" Don't let setbacks in life keep you from pursuing your dreams and doing the things you love! 'Til next time!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Powell Village Winery

Photos by OHventures

50 S. Liberty Street, Suite 174
Powell, OH 43065
(614) 505-7465

After a work-related visit down to Columbus, my friend Kory and I wanted to meet up for a bite to eat before I drove back to Northeast Ohio. I asked for him to find the nearest winery to his house, and he came up with Powell Village Winery, which is found tucked away in the picture perfect town of Powell in Delaware County. Described to us as an "urban" winery, Powell Village Winery is camoflauged amongst the downtown storefronts, and is easily missed if you aren't looking for it specifically!

The quaint locale had a trellised entryway to a small summertime patio, and a cozy interior complete with seating at the bar or at individual high-top and low-top tables, some made out of wine barrels! Eclectic and modern, the decor was warming and inviting. We went on a Wednesday afternoon, so the place was not buzzing with too many patrons, but everyone who came in seemed to know the employees well!

While we knew that we were at a winery, we needed to first take care of ordering dinner before diving into the juice! Kory and I each ordered a full-bodied flatbread pizza, which had oregano, basil and rosemary laced crust highlighted with a thin layer of tomato sauce and mozzarella & provolone cheeses. I opted for "The Guido" which came with banana peppers  & pepperoni, while Kory got "The Gina Maria," which had balsamic drizzle and basil-pesto. Other food options on the menu include hummus & veggie plates, cheese plates, and signature bread with dipping oil.

Now that the grub was taken care of, it was down to business! At Powell Village Winery, the wines are made from juices which are purchased from various parts of the country (mostly California) and then made on site. This is typical for urban wineries such as this (and Camelot Cellars in Columbus, for instance), since they do not have the land available to grow their own grapes. While this means that not all of the wines are true Ohio wines, that does not take away from the fact that they are still made in Ohio, and the fact that they are amazingly delicious!

You can order wine in one of three ways: by the glass, one-ounce single taste pours, or in a paddle wine flight (this consists of four half-glasses of wine served in a wine bottle-shaped paddle). Kory got the paddle and I had a few 1-oz. samples (only because I had a long drive ahead of me, otherwise the paddle is the way to go!).

The bartender did an excellent job describing all of the wines to us, and was fantastic at making the best suggestions based on what kinds we were looking for. I am an avid wine drinker always seeking the fun and adventurous wines, but also keeping close to my favorites, which are typically dry red wines. Kory, on the other hand, is completely new to wine and didn't know what kind he would like!

Powell Village Winery does a fine job of creating a nice variety of unique flavors, all of which were tasty in their own way! Based on my tastings, here are some of my suggestions if you want to get a bit adventurous:
  • My Place Or Yours (Gewurtztraminer): An "off-dry" white wine choise with a hilarious name, this won me over with its crispness and spicy notes!
  • Simplicity (White Merlot): The bartender referred to this one as a "patio pounder" because it is SO easy to drink, you would have no trouble downing a whole bottle out on the porch on a breezy summer day.
  • High Maintenance (Bordeaux Style): This is the most popular red wine at Powell Village Winery, and with good reason. A middle-of-the-road red with an oaky, fruity taste.
  • Sugar Daddy (White Cranberry): This was one of the most unique of the fruit-infused wines available. It was sweet, but not too sweet. Other fruit wines at Powell Village Winery include peach, raspberry, pineapple/kiwi, strawberry, and green apple!
  • Guilty Pleasure (Red Zinfandel): You don't come across too many red zinfandels these days, so this was a treat. It turned out to be one of my favorites out of those that I tasted - very bold with cedar notes.
  • Call Me A Cab (Cabernet Sauvignon): Cab Savs are always my go-to wine, and this one did not disappoint. Full-bodied and VERY bold, it is not for the casual or novice wine drinker ;-)
I am so glad to have found Powell Village Winery - it was the perfect spot to catch up with an old friend and soak in our surroundings. Can't wait to come back.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Discover Mohican Treehouse Cabins

Photos by OHventures

Halfway between Cleveland and Columbus is an adventurer's paradise, an outdoorsman's dream, and one of the most unique attractions found in all of Ohio: The Mohican Treehouse Cabins. If you ever had a desire to live Swiss Family Robinson style for a day, or if you wanted to bring back childhood memories of the treehouse you had in your backyard, now you can! The Mohicans, located in Glenmont, Ohio in Knox County, have these exciting accommodations available for anyone to stay!

Two treehouse cabins are located on site all year 'round, with many more in the works, according to The Mohicans owner, Kevin Mooney. For those who are more comfortable staying closer to the ground, four luxury cabins can also be rented. No matter which option you choose, you will be treated with suprising features, such as granite countertops, expensive linens, and flat screen TVs with DVD players. All cabins (including the treehouse cabins) have indoor plumbing with restrooms and fully functional kitchens, complete with coffee pots, mini refrigerators, and microwaves.

Borrowing technology from the zipline industry, the treehouses are constructed upon platforms with heavy-duty bolts and hardware fastened to the trees to ensure safety, and to provide flexibility for when the trees inevitably grow in size over the years. These cabins are nestled in the treetops starting at around 20 feet in the air, allowing for beautiful picturesque views of the Mohican Forest, and providing a peaceful refuge for birdwatching or reading with a mug of coffee.

The first of the treehouse cabins to be built at The Mohicans is the White Oak Treehouse, which was erected in 2012 and sleeps four campers comfortably. The rails of the White Oak Treehouse (both inside and out) are taken from vines that were removed from trees in the area, and add a beautiful and rustic feel.

The Grand Barn

The scene stealer, however, is the Brew Haus Treehouse, a two guest cabin built in 2013 and featured on the Animal Planet television program "Tree House Masters." Originally intended as the beer brewing site for the Mooney family, it was soon transformed into a place to sleep due to the growing demand of those wishing to stay in the White Oak Treehouse. The beer-brewing equipment was relocated to The Grand Barn at the entrance to The Mohicans, which serves as a spot for corporate retreats, weddings, and other events. 

The Brew Haus Treehouse stands out amongst the canopies due to its striking red exterior (an ode to the red barns dotting the Amish countryside) and its enormous head-turning stained glass window. The gothic-inspired structure is accessed via a 30-foot long extension bridge with a staircase ascending from a nearby tree. The inside is equally impressive, with a vaulted ceiling and cozy feel!

When staying at The Mohican cabins, there is certainly not a shortage of fun activities to keep you occupied! Try ziplining at Tree Frog Canopy Tours, canoeing with the Loudonville Canoe Livery, hiking the Mohican State Park, or attending a pow wow at the Mohican Reservation.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mohican Treehouse Cabins Photo Blog

Who: Alone, with your significant other (in the Brew Haus Treehouse), or with a group (in the White Oak Treehouse)
What: Lodging at the Mohican Treehouse Cabins
When: Any season of the year, depending on how many leaves you want to see out your window.
Where: The Mohicans located in Glenmont, OH in Knox County.
Why: To relive memories of your childhood treehouse and to have some prety cool stories to tell.
How: Book a stay by visiting and prepare yourself for fun!

Photos by OHventures

Brew Haus Treehouse

Brew Haus Treehouse

Brew Haus Treehouse

Brew Haus Treehouse

Brew Haus Treehouse - Kitchen

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Day Trip To Cincinnati

Photo by OHventures

Cincinnati is located in Hamilton County, in the far Southwestern portion of the state, with Indiana and Kentucky just minutes away. The Ohio River serves as the southern border of both the city and the state of Ohio. It is the 3rd largest city in population (just behind Columbus and Cleveland) with approximately 297,000 citizens, yet boasts the largest population in Ohio when including the metropolitan area. Being that it was the first major inland city established in the country, it is considered the first "purely American" city. Known as everything from "The Queen City" (because of its amazing beauty and architecture), to "The Nasty 'Nati" (as some of my college friends would affectionately refer to it), Cincy is booming with tons to do!

Growing up in Northeast Ohio, Cincinnati always felt worlds away, and I unfortunately did not get the chance to visit often. However, I was fortunate to do work in the area from 2009-2011, and had some pretty wild times visiting friends at University of Cincinnati. Recently, my good friend Sam took me on a tour of the town to spur my memory of why this town is so cool, and all of the great things there are to see. 

If you are planning a day trip to Cincinnati, here is a list of things 10 things you can do to maximize your visit while getting a variety of culture, food, outdoor adventure, and active lifestyle! Be on the lookout for more posts dedicated to Cincinnati and focused on how to plan the perfect trip to The Queen City!

Sam & Me on top of Carew Tower

1. Carew Tower (441 Vine Street): Carew Tower is 49 stories and 574 feet tall, making it the second tallest building in all of Cincinnati. For a small $2 fee, you can head up a series of elevators to the observation deck on the roof! Here, you will get the most spectacular view of the Queen City possible! On a clear day (like the beautiful November day I visited) you can see miles and miles in every direction. You can even see across the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio River into Covington, Kentucky. You get spectacular glimpses at everything from the University of Cincinnati to Paul Brown Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Bengals) to every other skyscraper in the city. You can also see into Indiana!

2. Skyline Chili (643 Vine Street & Various Locations): I used to believe that Skyline Chili was not really chili. Where I come from, chili is a tomato-based soup with peppers, onions, beef and beans. But here in Cincinnati, they have their very own chili, aptly referred to as Cincinnati Style Chili. And while it might not look like the chili you are used to from back home, it definitely tastes AWESOME! Cincinnati Style Chili has sweet undertones of chocolate and cinnamon, and is a thick meat sauce served over spaghetti. The most quintessential Cincinnati chili can be found at Skyline Chili, where you can order it with onions, cheese, beans, and hot sauce (known as two-way, three-way, four-way). While you can get Skyline in cities other than Cincy, there is nothing better than having it right downtown! So, do it!

3. Mount Airy Forest (5083 Colerain Avenue): Mount Airy Forest is the spot with the highest elevation in the city and looks over the Ohio River. Burn off all of the calories consumed at your Cincinnati chili lunch with a hike on the many miles of trails at this Cincinnati Park. Consider even taking a packed lunch on your hike in the park and have a picnic overlooking the lake, in the gazebo, or in the public tree house!

4. Caldwell Preserve (430 West North Bend Road): I have yet to go to this southwest Ohio locale, but I have heard tons about it from readers of the blog. Cincinnati Parks web site says it: "features a Nature Center, an amphitheater, and 3.5 miles of nature trails, including a level-paved trail that makes it possible for wheelchair users to go into the woods, see the flowers, and hear the birds"

5. Fountain Square (Center of 5th Street): Restaurants, bars, shopping, concerts, entertainment, festivals (like Oktoberfest), movies, ice skating, tailgates, and dancing can be found at Fountain Square of downtown Cincinnati. The city square is centered around the Tyler Davidson Fountain, an elaborate bronze and granite statue which is an ode to the Ohio River and its contributions to Cincinnati.

Elephant and Giraffe Encounters at the Cincinnati Zoo

6. Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (3400 Vine Street): Zoos can sound not-so-exciting for an adult, especially for one without kids. However...Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is not your typical zoo! This 85-acre establishment is home to over 500 animals, and is one of the most beautiful zoos in the country. It has also been named as the "greenest" zoo in America, which I learned about on a recent exclusive visit - this is due to the solar power, geothermal energy, and other alternative energy sources utilized on site. They also offer exclusive "animal encounters" that will give you up close and personal experiences with exotic animals. I had the chance to feed giraffes and elephants firsthand at the Cincinnati Zoo!! It is an experience I will never forget.

7. RockQuest Climbing Center (3475 East Kemper Rd): If you think you're up for the challenge that is indoor rock climbing, the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville has you covered. And if you haven't yet, read about what it takes to go rock climbing, check out the pics, then head to RockQuest to ROCK OUT! ;-)
8. The Righteous Room (641 Walnut Street): After a day of exploring the city, you deserve a drink. My buddy Sam took me to The Righteous Room, which is part of downtown Cincinnati's revitalized bar scene. It  has a killer selection of beer, great whiskey specials, and a modern, young professional scene.

9. Montgomery Inn Boat House (925 Riverside Drive): With its striking view of the Ohio River and its world famous menu specializing in barbecue ribs and steaks, The Montgomery Inn Boat House is a MUST. This spot is perfect for dates, business dinners, bachelor parties, and the list goes on.

10. Paul Brown Stadium & The Great American Ballpark: I would be remissed if I did not include the exciting sporting venues which serve as a prominent part of Cincinnati's cultural landscape. The town has long been known as a huge football and baseball town, and its teams are powerhouses in the national scene. Catch a Cincinnati Reds baseball game at The Great American Ballpark or a Cincinnati Bengals football game at Paul Brown Stadium.