Saturday, February 18, 2017

2017 Charleston Marathon Race Report and Video

Dave took care of the pre and post race fun of the Charleston weekend so now on to the race report.

The runners: Michael, Stan, Alex, Julie, Jessica and myself decided we would drive to the start location while our race chasers: Dave, Pam, Mike and Jan would drive right to their first cheer spot. This worked out well as the start area was a bit chaotic and I think it would have taken them a while to get out of there. Weather appeared to be pretty good, sunny but not very cool so that had us a bit concerned. The girls waited in the longest line for the bathroom ever while the guys “patiently” waited. We finally made our way to the start and only had a few minutes to wait before the National Anthem played and we were off and running.

We planned to take it easy and just have some fun today. The course in the beginning was great. We ran along the water, Battery Park and then ran ALL the way along King St. The race did a great job of having cheer stations throughout the course. Unfortunately after we left the downtown area of King St. (Around mile 5 or 6) the course stopped being scenic. In fact it got pretty boring. I think we rank by every industrial park and by every house in North Charleston via a series of left and right turns and out and backs. They never ended!

We still had a good time and made the best of it. We were all doing pretty well, but it was getting quite warm! We were all feeling it and we slowed down the pace to compensate. We did see an alligator on the course, well off the course thankfully but that was neat to see. Our race chasers did a superb job of tracking us down and kept us fueled with snacks, drinks and even a special “energy” drink toward the end.

We did have one more scenic section before Mile 25 but overall the course was really boring and all the turns were awful. I also did not feel well towards the end. Too much water and my electrolytes were all out of whack. Thanks to my friends for sticking with me and getting me to the finish line. I felt fine as soon as I had some salty chips at the end. I wasn’t used to running in the heat since it’s still so cold here at home.

The finish area was a nice party atmosphere with beer and shrimp and grits. It would be a fun place to hang out after the race and celebrate. We were all ready to go back to the hotel and get showers and go have some big burgers! While I enjoyed Charleston and I had fun running with friends, I wouldn’t rush back to run this one again. Good organization and the medal was cute, but the course leaves a lot to be desired.

Dave's Comments

The course was stupid. It wrapped around itself about 900 times and there were many traffic choke-points. We hit all of our spectating goals up through mile 9. Miles 10-14 were down a peninsula that seemed to only have two entry points: one was a total traffic choke and another about a mile north by the shipyard. Google maps satitle view confirmed streets and parking lots to cut through. We headed north and found those roads and lots were now a big field of grass. #thanksgoogle. The four of us had a 6 mile (one hour) break. There wasn't much in the area but we did have porta-potties to use near the free clinic. Chasing from that point on was fine except for the fact that our runners split into two groups which messed with the timing of making certain planned stops. We almost didn't see our runners finish because a freight train was stopped on the tracks blocking the finish area. We made it with about 5 minutes to spare.



Monday, February 6, 2017

Charity of the Month: COPD Foundation

Charity of the Month is a way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizations. As part of this program, we will dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money.

Unfortunately we skipped picking a charity in January. The main reason for this was no organization really jumped at us. We'll catch up with a double-month soon.

December: In December we supported Toys for Tots with a $125 donation and a really fun shopping spree at Wal-Mart. Our hope was to give kids a little bit of joy for Christmas. Toys for Tots takes donations all year so feel free to visit them.

February Charity of the Month:

COPD Foundation

Occasionally some of our charity picks are selected based on wishes of family or friends that have recently passed away. This month's is unfortunately one of those months. Holly's first manager when she came out of her sales training program passed away. Bob picked Holly up from the airport the day she moved to Chicago (Dave moved out a few months later). He was and still is Holly’s favorite boss. He taught her how to sell and was a huge reason she loves her job as much as she does. He would probably be shocked at how things have changed but also at how some things have stayed the same. She will always be grateful for the guidance and patience he showed Holly early in her career. He was a brilliant engineer, a great friend and quite the character. He truly was one of a kind. His obituary will give you an idea of the kind of guy he was.

He will be missed by many.

From the COPD website: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.

Many people mistake their increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging. In the early stages of the disease, you may not notice the symptoms. COPD can develop for years without noticeable shortness of breath. You begin to see the symptoms in the more developed stages of the disease.

Many other conditions may influence the onset of COPD including inhalation of fumes, chemicals and dust found in many work environments. Genetics can also play a role in an individual’s development of COPD—even if the person has never smoked or has ever been exposed to strong lung irritants in the workplace.

Find out how you can help


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Charleston the Non-Running Stuff

A few weeks ago we went to Charleston, SC so Holly could run the city's marathon. With the race being held on Dr. King's Weekend we were able to stretch the trip out over the holiday.

Borrowed from the web

We landed Friday morning and had an hour to kill before the race expo opened (which was near the airport). We hit Wal-Mart for supplies and browsed a few nearby outlet stores. We were delighted to see the outlets were on a street named after Darrius Rucker. Our friends Stan, Pam, and Michael met us at the expo before making our way downtown. After dropping the car off at the hotel we headed on a non-scenic route to the Waterfront Park area for lunch. We chose Fleet Landing based on using iPhone maps scanning for seaside dining. We chose well! Great food, sandwiches, beer (Hi-Wire Bed of Nails Brown), and an outdoor table with temps in the low 70's. We had views of Castle Pinckney and Fort Sumter in the distance.

Castle Pinckney
Fort Sumter

After lunch we walked Waterfront Park to The Battery at the tip of the peninsula before turning up King Street to take in the real estate. This was the oldest part of the city with a mixture of colonial and antebellum homes that were restored so well they looked as if they could have been built last year.

A few of us ended up at the Barony Tavern in the Renaissance Hotel for a beer. It's worth checking out for its strange taxidermy displays (according to their website the restaurant is now closed). We headed back to the hotel before walking a few hundred feet to our pre-race day dinner location: Vincent Chicco's. They were able to accommodate our table of ten with top-notch service and excellent food.

The waitress at the Barony Tavern gave us the tip of check out JohnKing, a bar near our hotel. It was the post-race rendezvous point for our group after the marathon. This was a great place to go for burgers, gourmet fries, and some incredible mac & cheese. We all decided we needed a place with a better beer menu so we went up the street to Charleston Beer Works. The place was packed due to the football playoffs so they sat us at a picnic table in the beer garden. It was a tad bit too cold for us out there. To make matters worse our waitress screwed up our beer flights so our drinks were a bit of a mystery. The final stop of the night was The Silver Dollar. The historic bar had just opened for the evening so we were able to comfortably spread out at the bar and enjoy some conversation.

The next morning we had brunch plans with Julie and Alex at Magnolia's, but before dining we took a carriage tour. In Charleston horse carriage tours are pretty popular. The several companies operating tours are pretty well controlled by the city so there are only 20 carriages out at a time, and the route is assigned to the coach at time of departure. Our hour long tour took us to the west side of the city. This is the least scenic of the three routes, but we still had a great overview of the city and got to see the inspiration for Tara from Gone with the Wind.

Magnolia's was one of those great dining experiences. The four of us shared the fried green tomato appetizer and then moved on to entrees of Parmesan crusted fish or shrimp and grits. Next time we are in Charleston we will book a dinner here. After lunch we browsed the craft vendors at nearby Charleston Market. This was followed by a drink on Henry's rooftop bar while we waited for some of our party to meet up. A few of us headed to The Griffon, a dank old bar.

We had declared Sunday date night. We decided to walk to our destinations and we were surprised how quiet it seemed for a tourist town. We started with a cocktail at 5Church. They transformed an old church into an amazing looking restaurant and bar. Dinner was at Poogan's Porch. Our meal was good, but not great. Both entrees were slightly overcooked. On the plus side the restaurant was cute and the service was very good.

Our final morning was spent touring the Old Slave Mart and taking a quick walk through St. Phillip's Cemetary. The Slave Mart was a building where slaves were sold up until 1865. Very powerful exhibits about the process of trafficking and the economics behind the system. The museum had several audio files of former slaves that were recorded in the 30's.

For lunch we headed back to Fleet Landing to enjoy a few more minutes by the water. It ended up being a good choice. The she crab soup and shrimp and grits were excellent. We had time for one more beer so we stopped in Craftsmen Kitchen. The beer list was massive, but well organized by style.

We'll definitely return to Charleston. There are plenty of places for a great meal and still a lot of historical sites to see.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016 Rocket City Marathon Race Report and Video

Here's Holly's Rocket City Marathon (Alabama) Race Report and Video. Following are Dave's comments and some photos from the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Some states are easy to pick which marathon I want to do. This was one of them. I love the space program, so a marathon held in Rocket City with a rocket theme is a win all the way around. We got to Huntsville the night before the race with just enough time to meet our great friends Stan and Pam for a delicious pasta dinner. We then headed over to the hotel and checked in.

Race morning and we couldn’t believe how bundled up we had to be in Alabama! It was 22 degrees at the start and I don’t think it got up to 40. My three coldest marathons: Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. Crazy! I was feeling prepared for this race and my mental preparedness was much better than the last two marathons. Honestly, the hardest part about running a marathon is keeping your head in the race the whole time. It’s easy to give up and just start walking. I’m happy to say that this did not happen for this race.We started off a bit too fast but I think that was because we were cold and we were trying to warm up. The course wound around on itself several times, but I could never tell. We ran mainly through neighborhoods. The highlight of course was running through Rocket City Park. Running by the Saturn V and under a space shuttle was priceless. It was even better to run with Stan, who is a huge space nut and he provided great commentary.

We ran through a great park that had a ton of Christmas light displays up. It would have been cool to run through this in the dark to see them all. Dave and Pam were doing their usual stellar job tracking us and collecting the few layers we actually did shed. This is the first time I ran with a running vest and I loved it. It kept me warm but I didn’t get overheated.

We kept up our intervals the whole way and yes, we did get tired at the end, but I didn’t give up, as I really wanted to get in under 5:30. The wind picked up a bit and that was a challenge but soon we were finishing by running into the indoor Von Braun Arena. A nice place to finish since it was cold. We were given a huge medal and a finisher hat. They also had free race photos and great food: Ice cream sandwiches and chicken noodle soup. They also gave us finisher certificates with our names printed on it at the finish. Very nice.

This was a first class race setup with excellent communication, a nice course, great finish and great swag. I would highly recommend the Rocket City Marathon.

Here's the video:

Dave's Comments:

This race had one of the strangest courses on paper we have seen with the route crossing over itself many times. Our first planned stop was in an older area of town with a bunch of one-ways and closed roads. We ended up driving on the course for our first viewing point. Ugh. After that it got relatively easier with a lot of residential areas connected by larger commercial streets. Our last major hurdle was getting to the finish because of closures, but the police officers watching the course gave us a decent route cutting through a shady apartment complex. We got some snacks at The Embassy Suites breakfast buffet near the start (I was a guest so it was ok), a Starbucks, and a Korean grocery store. The course was pretty lack-luster with the exception of the older homes at the start and the Rocket Center.

Post-race we found "brewery row". Three different breweries on the same street almost next door to each other. We had lunch at Straight to Ale, which was in a portion of an old middle school. Dedication plaques and the gym scoreboard were left in-place to enhance the theme. Next door was Yellowhammer. They had a great space and shared their building with a wood fired pizza place - this ended up being our dinner spot later in the evening. Salty Nut was the third brewery we visited. They were in an older commercial building that was a bit smaller than the others but they had a great beer garden (which we could not use given the cold). We liked the place a lot but left quickly since a hard rock band was warning up. To their credit they handed us earplugs.

On Sunday we visited the Space Center and looked at rockets. We sat through an interesting presentation on the International Space Station and walked through a model of it. We toured through the room with the Saturn V rocket hanging from the ceiling and read through most of the timeline of the space program. Honestly I am the wrong person to comment on this since it was mostly looking at cylinders with pointy ends. To be fair, my breweries are the same thing: cylinders with liquid in them.


My exit from this thing was not graceful


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tennessee Detour - Jack Daniel's Distillery and Nashville

Recently we were in Huntsville, Alabama for the Rocket City Marathon. While Holly and our friend Stan were running, the snow storm up north started. All the weather people were predicting a large amount of snow for the entire weekend so getting home Sunday night did not seem like a reality. By Saturday afternoon the airline sent us a note that our flight for Sunday evening was cancelled and we should call them to make arrangements. Being quick thinkers we decided that we would extend our car rental for a day, drive to Nashville, stay over by the airport, and fly out on a 5am flight Monday morning so we could be at work on time.

On Sunday we had a lovely Waffle House breakfast, toured the Huntsville Space Center (details in another report), then headed for Tennessee. Our first stop really excited Dave (as opposed to the Space Center - not his thing): the Jack Daniel's Distillery. We booked one of several tours while driving through Tennessee and we were excited to see that we could actually taste product in the dry county. Jack Daniels gets "a pass" as long as it's only a small amount served.

The visitor center was very nice. Outside the building was a stream created from the mountain spring, area, picnic tables, pathway to town (Lynchburg), and a Christmas tree made of whiskey barrels.

Inside the building were a few displays of bottles, marketing artifacts, and explanations of the distilling process. The "gift" shop only sold liquor, which could be packaged for shipping. All other tourist items were available at a shop in town. There were a few items on display related to the company's 150th anniversary.

Our tour group of twenty-eight was summoned to go to the bus boarding area. We certainly did not expect to have to bus anywhere. Most of the production buildings were not visible from the visitor center because of the large property layout and hills/forest areas. Our first drive-by was through the town of Lynchburg where we saw the courthouse, the Jack Daniel's gift shop, and a few other shops. Next we made our way up in the hills passing many of the warehouses where the whiskey is aged. These tin barns can get very hot in the summer and the temperature differs greatly depending on the floor of the building. The different brands are aged on different floors based on temperature ranges. We disembarked the bus near one of the barns and made our way to the charcoal production area. All their whiskey is filtered through charcoaled wood made on premise by three men (one of them is named Stick).

Other areas we toured while outside included the old fire truck display, the cave where the mountain spring water comes from, and a small building that used to be Jack's office.

When we went in the production facilities we could see the distillation vessels in action and watched the raw product drip into the charcoal filters a drop at a time. Total time for a drop in the filter tank is five days. We toured through one (non-operating) bottling line and watched a video on how the oak storage barrels are crafted then charred. Jack Daniel's uses each barrel once then sells them to other distillers and brewers. The final stop was the original barrel house where batches were still being stored and where the tastings would be conducted. Because of the tour we chose we were able to sample 5 different premium products.

Holly is still not a fan of whiskey
The tour and tasting was almost two hours long. It was enjoyable (for Dave) and educational. The tour guides kept it informal and handled the group well. The only downside is there's not much else to do in this small section of Tennessee. The dry county could benefit by adding a brewery or two in the area and capitalize on the captive audience they have coming into see Jack Daniel's.

We walked to town quickly to check out the branded merchandise. Lots of fun stuff from glasses, Christmas villages, statues, and almost anything else you can slap a logo on. Dave would have bought a t-shirt, but since Jack Daniel's signature colors are black and white he found nothing that suited his color palette.

Later that evening we enjoyed a few hours out with our friend Bill in Nashville. We had a quick BBQ dinner before heading to Nashville Crossroads to watch one of his favorite bands - Eskimo Brothers. Great live performers!