Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursday Thoughts: Oh, My Aching Everything

I am writing this in anticipation of the screaming case of DOMS I will have in 24 hours' time. Why? This morning I attended a "total body conditioning" class at my gym for the first time. If I am to have even the slightest chance of staying injury-free and successfully completing all of the races I want to do this year, including the 50-mile ultra, I have to strengthen all my muscles, not just the ones I use for running.

Oh yeah, I'm going to do a 50-mile ultramarathon in June. More on that later.

It's been a long time since I finished a workout feeling wobbly and exhausted. The DOMS is heading toward me like a freight train. My quads and arms are going to be CRYING by tomorrow.

I had never used a kettlebell before and this class was heavy on kettlebell work. Do this exercise, then 20 kettlebell swings. Repeat three times. Try not to topple over. Sprinkle sweat everywhere. 45 minutes later I was a quivering puddle.

All in the name of improved muscle strength, right? In a few weeks I know it won't hurt as much, but tomorrow it's going to hurt like HELL.

Now, about that 50-mile ultra...

When I ran my first half marathon I said, "that's far enough." A year later I ran my first marathon and said, "that's really far enough." That was far enough through four more marathons and four years. I swore up and down and sideways that I was never going to do an ultra. I resisted all attempts to convince me otherwise, even after I got to know a bunch of serious ultrarunners in my hashing kennel. I stuck to my "a marathon is far enough" until two weeks ago when in a moment of weakness after several months of arm-twisting by my very talented ultrarunner friend Brian, I caved in and registered for the Mohican 50 Mile. Well, Brian registered for me. I just entered my payment information.

Beer may have played a part in my moment of weakness.

As soon as registration was complete, I groaned, "what did I just do?" Brian may have yelled something about "HELL YES" and "THIS IS GOING TO BE SO AMAZING."

Signed myself up for a world of hurt, that's what I just did. Well, nothing to do now but find a training plan and lurch forward with this ridiculous endeavor. Along the way I will be running the Trail Marathon and the Dances with Dirt Gnawbone 50K as "practice" races. In WHAT WORLD has a 31-mile trail race turned into a TRAINING RUN for another, even LONGER race?


After this is all over in mid-June, I have to segue straight into training for the Chicago Marathon in October. I suspect that training cycle will feel easy compared to what I am going to put myself through over the next four months.

I wanted to close out my thirties with a bang. Somehow that went from doing the Chicago Marathon with my best friend to my most ambitious (ill-advised? insane?) year of running ever.

UPDATE: It is now Friday morning and yes, I do have a terrible case of the DOMS. I could barely walk down my stairs this morning and I'm staggering around like I just ran a marathon. Maybe that six-mile run after work wasn't such a great idea. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Ultimate Beer Post

Longtime readers of el bloggo know that I am a craft beer enthusiast. Heck, one of my post labels is "I run so I can drink beer." My Facebook friends know most of my pictures fall into two categories: beer and cats.

This is the story of how I came to be a partner in a microbrewery.

In July 2009 I was at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti. My friend Patti and I were cruising around the park sampling great beers when I spotted this fellow:


I ran up to him and enthusiastically yelled, "YES!" I was perhaps a bit too exuberant; I was a couple of hours into a beer festival, after all. I said that I lived in Chelsea and it would be a craft beer lover's dream come true if there was a brewery in town within walking distance of my house.

He gave me a business card (I still have it) and I got on the mailing list for the potential business. Over the course of the next year I received occasional updates as he began formulating a business plan, and when he mentioned acquiring a pool of investors, that was the first time it occurred to me I could be one of them. Wouldn't that be incredible! Not only to have a microbrewery in my town, but one in which I had a stake? Even better.

I went to my first potential investors' meeting in October 2010. Papers were filled out, information was dispersed, and the months went by. In the summer of 2011 there was a perfect storm of fortuitous financial circumstances, and I was able to purchase a share in the nascent Chelsea Alehouse.

The period after becoming an official investor was agonizing. Now that I was in, I wanted that brewery OPEN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Not so fast. First, there was the matter of finding a suitable space. Once the location had been secured, it had to be built out, which required turning a dismal, dirty industrial building into something light and welcoming. Then there were ENDLESS permits that had to be acquired from local, state, and federal agencies.

Work on the space crept forward during the summer and fall of 2012. I would occasionally find a reason to go past the location to see what had changed. Windows went in, drains and drywall were installed, corridors appeared, paint went on the walls, and the brewing tanks were settled in place. When Chris brewed the first batch of beer, I knew that opening day was mere weeks away. My excitement reached a fever pitch; the waiting was excruciating!

The week before Christmas, I received word: the brewery would officially be open for the first time on Friday, December 21. This was a "soft opening" event for the partners and Founding Mug Club Members.

That afternoon, I drove home and did what I had been dreaming about for a very, very long time:

I walked the half-mile to the brewery I own a little piece of (it took 8.5 minutes) and settled in at the gleaming bar with my mug.

Beer + reading material = awesome
I stayed there for FIVE HOURS. I took full advantage of all three beers available on tap at the time, and walked...okay, perhaps stumbled....home in a happy drunken haze. The whole evening had been joyous. I remember at one point finding Chris's wife and we exchanged an enthusiastic hug as I exclaimed, "I can't believe it's finally happening! This is so exciting!"

More visits to the brewery over the holidays followed, and I was able to celebrate my 39th birthday there on December 28 with a group of friends.

Happy birthday to me!
After years of declining interest in celebrating getting older (who wants to acknowledge they're closing in on 40, after all), this was the best birthday I'd had in a long time.

These days one can find me at the brewery almost every afternoon on days it's open (five days a week right now). All the staff know me; I said to them on that first night, "You're going to see a lot of me." I don't even have to tell anyone which mug is mine: #3.

My "barbed wire" mug
I chose that mug out of the hundreds available because the lines remind me of barbed wire, which reminds me of hashing, because one often runs into (sometimes quite literally) barbed wire on trail. I took the Redhead with me to the brewery on mug-picking night (this was prior to our weekly viewing of "A Game of Thrones") and she was the one who pointed out the resemblance to barbed wire.

I was at the brewery last Friday after work, and the setting sun was shining through the big western window. (I found it kind of depressing that every other time I've been there, it's been cloudy. Hooray for Michigan winter.) The sunlight made all the glasses sparkle and the taps gleam and I thought it was just about the prettiest thing I'd ever seen.

Sad iPhone camera with zero dynamic range did not accurately capture the scene. It was really, really bright.
Thus far having the brewery in town has been all I hoped for and more. Even if I wasn't an investor it would still be a wonderful addition to the local scene. I can't wait for warm weather and the opening of the outdoor patio, being able to walk home in daylight, bringing the hashers in for an on-after, and, of course, continued visits of my own. Many, many visits.

I wouldn't end this post without pertinent information!

Chelsea Alehouse Brewery
420 North Main St, Suite 100
Chelsea, MI

Facebook: Chelsea Alehouse
Twitter: @ChelseaAlehouse

Come on down. Sit for a spell. Have a few pints. Chances are, I'll be there.