Friday, July 29, 2011

Running in Kentucky

My wife's family has a reunion every couple of years in Louisville Kentucky. Through nine years of marriage this is the first time we have had the opportunity to attend. I have been looking forward to it and dreading it all at the same time.

The only reasons I would say dreading is because it is a long drive with the girls and also because meeting a bunch of new people is a little outside of my comfort zone.

The ride up really wasn't too bad, and so far so good on the meeting new people thing. It is no surprise that all of Reagan's family its incredibly nice and very down to earth.

Even with everything going well, I still needed to get a good run in for my physical and my mental well being.

What a great run! I ran around the two ponds and up the big hill and watched a deer cross in front of me before heading down the hill and logging a little more than 3 miles. The scenery was beautiful with the rolling hills and beautiful sunrise, I just had to stop and snap this picture.

I did not plug the eat buds in and did not listen to any music I tried to focus on my form, my breathing and my surroundings. I was not concerned with pace or splits just with enjoying the run, and I enjoyed it very much.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Race Recap: I ♥ Running 5k

July 23, 2011 8:00pm

If you have read  some of my previous posts you know that this is a race I have been looking forward to for some time. This was the first time I have ever participated in a night race, and I was very excited about the prospects of a little bit cooler weather. Additionally, I was excited about getting to go to an event put on by Run-N-Tri. The only other event I had attended that they were affiliated with was the Nutri Hut Race in May and it was a well put together race and a lot of fun. I also prefer to run in events that raise money for good causes and what could be a better cause than The American Heart Association?

There were however a couple of things, I did not consider. The first  thing I did not consider was my schedule. Most races take place early in the morning, since this one did not, it didn't seem to conflict with anything else I had going on; however, after working in the morning at the bank and then hosting an alumni event in the afternoon, I was a bit tired by the early evening. The other thing I did not consider is that I would happen to be experiencing a bad case of the "training blahs." Not sure if that is a real term, but it pretty much sums up the discouragement and malaise I was feeling last week.

My training partner Will decided to run this race as well, and he met me after the alumni event to ride over together.We thought we would be pressed for time,but actually arrived at Run-N-Tri before they were ready to start registration.

It had rained earlier in the day and it wasn't super hot, but there was a heaviness in the air, that I could feel as we watched the workers continue to get everything set up and listened to the band go through their sound check.

Will and I were the first 2 registered. In addition to the shirt and bib at registration you also received a  glow in the dark bracelet and a key chain. Unlike many of the shirts I have received, this shirt was actually pretty cool. It was a technical material and was black with gray and red designs ( I might would actually wear this shirt somewhere besides running).

Picture stolen from Lisa

People begin arriving and at 8:00 it was time to get started.There was a fairly large crowd for a first year event (according to the results 268 runners, I would have guessed more than 300) and they were all in festive spirits. As you can see from the picture on the right it was just before dark when the race started.

The course was a little different from other races I have run. It was an out and back course but it wound through a nice neighborhood with several twists and turns. The organizers did a great job of marking the course with signs and with volunteers. The volunteers had flashlights and the glow in the dark batons to help guide the way.

I felt pretty good for most of the race, but the air did seem extra heavy as we got deeper into the subdivision. As usual I found someone to pace with; I never got her name but I referred to her as "Gold Shorts" because she was wearing, well... gold shorts. Gold Shorts and I were passing people and keeping what seemed like a pretty good pace. She was the first to comment on how heavy the air felt, a sentiment I could not disagree with. Even though I felt like I was keeping a good pace the first mile seemed to last forever. It was close to the first mile when we came upon the first water station that I lost Gold Shorts (she slowed for water, I never do).

Finally got to the turnaround, which was well marked with a flashing light, still feeling pretty good. I know I am not on a course for any type of personal record, but I am feeling pretty good. It is getting pretty dark now and it is kind of cool watching the other racers who were clad in various degrees of reflective and light up clothing and accessories. Some were wearing the glow in the dark bracelets and others had on bright reflective clothes. A few even had on little flashing lights on their clothes.

About 2.5 miles in; I begin wondering if this was really a 5k or if someone had measured it wrong, because I was really beginning to struggle to keep up my pace. It was about this time when Gold Shorts caught back up with me. We agreed to help each other finish and thankfully she pushed me to the end. When I saw the 3 mile marker I was surprised by how much I still had in reserve and I was able to get one last kick in. This was good since Gold Shorts and the other lady that was with us also kicked in for one last sprint at this point.

I was a little disappointed to see my time of 28:06 because I have done so much better than this in the past; but it was still below 30 minutes and I never stopped running. As we crossed the line, I turned and shook hands with Gold Shorts and thanked her for the push. I turned and looked for Will and to my pleasant surprise he was only a few seconds behind me. 28:15 was his time. pretty impressive for his first run in many years.

There is a difference in just a race and an event, and this was a great event. Not only was the atmosphere great, but the after party was amazing as well. There was Papa John's Pizza and Chick-Fil-A as well as water, Gatorade and Michelob Ultra.   Jacob Blue was the band and they did a great job of entertaining.

It was a long day and Will and I were sure we did not place high enough to win any awards so we headed home. Before we did, I was able to steal a few moments with Lisa McCombs, Marketing Director for Run-N-Tri and friend of the blog. Lisa was pleased with the turn out.
"We had a blast putting the race on, and we're so proud of all of the finishers and contributions to the American Heart Association."
Lisa, Thanks for all you did to put this on... we had a blast as well. I also want to say thanks to all the people who helped out, especially Tish & JG and their "children."

The next race I am running will be August 13 in Vancleave. I wasn't sure there was a place in Vancleave to run a 5k, but I am looking forward to it, I am also excited that it will be the first race The wife participates in as well.

Thanks as always for anyone who might be following along, I will try to put up a better time next race

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My New Kryptonite

The shiny little green rock on the left is the one thing in all the universe that can hurt and even kill an otherwise invulnerable hero.  Kryptonite is the one thing that weakens Superman to the point that the evil doers may have a chance to wreak havoc on the world. Due to the widespread popularity and universal recognition of Superman; Kryptonite has become synonymous with anything that is a weakness or a vulnerability for a person. I have found my new Kryptonite.

Picture Courtesy of
There is a wonderful local homemade custard style Ice Creamery here in Ocean Springs, that has amazing flavor creations and super friendly service. The only problem I have with Quakes is that it might be too delicious and certainly can not be a good healthy food choice. That has not stopped me and my family from enjoying it several times in the last few weeks.  I personally like the Heath Bar Quake which is 2 scoops of Vanilla or Chocolate Custard blended with heath Bar. YUM! But there are so many creations I am not sure you could ever try them all. There is always a flavor of the day and one of the great flavors is a no sugar added Yellow Cake. The wife is partial to this flavor with brownies and sprinkles.

Why is this wonderful place my Kryptonite? Quite simply it is the one thing in the last 18 months that I know is bad for me, that I still can't get enough of. Oh, and if you look at the building you will notice it is the same color as Kryptonite. I am not as lucky as ol' Clark Kent though, He didn't have to pass by his weakness twice a day every single day.

I'm sure that little green rock doesn't taste nearly as good as a Quake!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Needing Motivation

I don't want to do it! I don't want to train for my Triathlon. I don't want to train for anything. I love to run, but I don't want to; I really love to cycle, but I haven't cycled since Saturday. I enjoy going to the gym, But I haven't been in 2 weeks. I can blame being busy, I can blame a tight schedule, I can throw the blame on life itself, but the simple fact is, I am struggling with motivation right now. I don't know what has caused this case of the blahs; but all week I have chosen to sleep in instead of getting up and getting my exercise.

I have found myself a little bit frustrated that I am not running any faster than I was a few months ago, nor am I riding any faster than I was last month. I am also a little frustrated b/c I have still not found the opportunity to get in the water. I think it might be easier to just run and bike for enjoyment and forget about the triathlon.

There is a voice deep inside of me that is telling me not to throw in the towel; I have set this goal and I can achieve it; but every other part of me is thinking how much easier life would be if I just put this goal off for now. I have accomplished a lot and I do not want to stop now... but, part of me doesn't want to continue either. Life would  easier without a training schedule ...

Give me some help guys; I don't want to let anyone down, not even myself, I have set this goal.... I want to achieve it... how do I get past this mental block....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Long Leaf Trace & Tabella

Logo from
I enjoy riding a bike, and I enjoy eating, I also really enjoy spending time with my beautiful wife, so yesterday was a great day for me!

The wife informed me she was teaching a coupon class in my favorite city (Hattiesburg, MS) and we decided it would be a great time to have our anniversary dinner and have a little bit of adult time.

So, the plan was while she taught her class I would ride my bike along the Long Leaf Trace and afterward we would meet up and have dinner at our favorite restaurant; Crescent City Grill.  The little ones went to spend the day with their grandmother and we were all set; well except for one little detail, the weather forecast for Hattiesburg was for 60% chance of afternoon thunderstorms.

Now I had a dillema, do I bring my bike that I absolutely love to ride and run the risk that it will just set on the bike rack on the back of the car and get rained on, or do I rent a bike at the trace and take my chances? Normally it is always better to bring your own bike it is so much more comfortable, because it is what you are used to. but I decided with the weather threatening it would be smarter to take my chances with the rental bike.

The rental bike
The rental bike turned out to be, ok, it was a Raleigh hybrid bike that was probably 10-15 years old, but it was well maintained and had no real problems. It was not however, designed to go fast or be very efficient.

If you are not familiar with the Long Leaf Trace it is a beautiful scenic 40+ mile bike trail that stretches from Hattiesburg, MS to Prentiss MS. The trail was once a rail line that was long abandoned and has been converted as part of the Rails to Trails program. The terrain is smooth and fairly flat, there are not a lot of hills or curves. This is a great trail for training as fast as you would like to ride or for a scenic nature ride. There are rest stops along the way as well as places to stop every few miles so a rider out for a joy ride can have just as much fun as an ardent rider.

I began my ride at the Southern Miss gateway which is directly across the street from the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, a place I am very familiar with.  The last time I rode the trail (almost 10 years ago, this section wasn't even open yet.   As I began to travel I began to notice how much the city and the surrounding businesses seem to be embracing the trail, there are many apartments who have replaced their old privacy fences with rear facing bike entrances that lead out to the trail and there is a tunnel that rides directly under a busy street. There is also an elevated and covered bridge that crosses over the Interstate.

The trail is very clearly marked for safe passage. The mile markers are very visible and there are ample places to stop and rest. If you like nature there is a lot to behold. There are signs posted along the way pointing out various types of trees and plants and about ten miles into the ride you cross over black creek. The scenery at some points is very refreshing and you do not realize you are most times not far from a main road.

I decided before I left that I was going to go as far as the Sumrall Station which was 15.2 miles from the beginning and then turn around.  as I was roughly half way there I did have a deer walk out in front of me. He quickly retreated back to the woods, which was probably best for both of us.  The ride was gorgeous and peaceful, However My legs did get a little tired on the way back.

The only real negatives about the ride were that I dropped my phone along the way and I am not sure it will ever work right again.  There is also the old building close to the Jackson station that kids have felt the need to vandalize, this was an eyesore in an otherwise pristine setting.

About 20 minutes after I turned the bike in the bottom fell out of the sky and there was about a 30 minute downpour in Hattiesburg, I am grateful it waited!

Once The wife and I hooked back up we rode to the parking area for Crescent City Grill one of our all time favorite restaurants owned by one of our all time favorite chef; Robert St. John. I have probably eaten there 500 times (no exaggeration and never have had a bad meal. As we pulled in to the parking lot we begin to have a bit of a debate as Mr. St. John has opened a new Italian restaurant in the same area and we had not been there.  We decided to give it a shot.

Wow! I am glad we did, the atmosphere was classic, but still casual. We were immediately greeted by a friendly well dressed professional hostess who took our information and asked if we wanted to wait in the waiting area or in the bar. We chose the bar, and it was a good choice.  We sampled a couple of house specialty mixed drinks including an "Italian Cream Soda" and a "Dark Roast Martini" These were both great and they were both served with a smile but friendly bartender name  C. C. We were seated in a very timely fashion and our server was again very friendly and professional. We ordered an appetizer of roasted 5 cheese ravioli that was delicious and then for our main course I ordered something called Pasta Mia which was shrimp and mushrooms covered in a garlic butter cream sauce and served over pasta and the wife ordered Chicken Pancetta which was served with capers, roasted potatoes and green beans, everything was so incredibly good. We finished it off by splitting a slice of the best cheesecake I have ever eaten. I regret the phone wasn't working, I wish I had pictures of how beautiful all the food was before we ate it. Not to mention the prices were very reasonable.

Not sure how many calories I burned riding 30 miles and not sure how many I took in eating at tabella, but WOW were both acts well worth it! If you find yourself in Hattiesburg Mississippi both the Long Leaf Trace and Tabella are well worth a visit.

For more info on tabella you an go to

for more info on the long leaf trace you can go to

What an amazing day!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rapid Review: Red- My Uncensored Life in Rock

This review is probably coming out of nowhere as it is not the type of book I usually read  and review. Let me start with a disclaimer, I don't typically read celebrity autobiographies for a couple of reasons; first I find most of the celebs who put out these books have massive egos and are using the books to stroke their egos and "settle" disputes with other celebrities. The other reason I really don't read this type of book is that I usually don't find it much of a challenge; they are usually written to a fairly low reading level as they are trying to sell as many books to as many people as possible.

With that disclaimer out of the way, the next obvious question is; "so, why did you read this book? Well, I am glad you asked.  As you May have read elsewhere on this blog I have had an incredibly busy week and I was finding it increasingly difficult to devote the time and energy to read a couple of the other books I had started. Molly and I made a trip to the Library last week and turned in several books we had finished and checked out a few more for her. I am still working on The Family by Mario Puzo and I have started Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, but I have noticed either book was requiring more focus than I was able to put in during this busy week.
So, as we were standing in the library I noticed this little nugget and I had a bit of a flashback to my high school days.  Since the Library lets you read books for FREE and since I needed and easy read I picked it up.

Now for a little back story, my favorite band for many years was Van Halen, I owned every Cassette tape then later every CD they ever made. I would listen to VH at high volume as I drove, as I worked out, as I read, as I hung out, you name it.  My best friend at the time was also a big fan of the band and we had countless conversations about Eddie being a guitar god and about how much we loved the band. I remember talking to her for a long time late one night after we found out Sammy Hagar had been fired or quit the band.

Van Halen had long been a tumultuous band with internal strife and lots of addiction issues and this was the second time they had parted ways with a lead singer, but this was the lead singer we most identified with the band.

So, I guess the answer to the question of why I picked this book up really comes down to nostalgia and wanting to hear Sammy's side of the story. Sammy does tell his story in this book and he does give us some great insights into the band and into the brothers Van Halen. Sammy also talks about his love for fast cars, his tequila business, his marriages, and his bars and restaurant businesses.  Sammy talks about his first band Montrosse, his solo career, his 11 years with Van Halen, his revitalized solo career, and hyis projects with Chickenfoot and the Waboritas.

As I expected there was a lot of Sammy stroking his own ego and talking about how his problems with Montrosse and Van Halen were not his fault. I also find it incredible that he can give verbatim quotes from a conversation 30 years ago.

I will say this if Sam's accounts of his last tour with the band are even partially accurate I sure hope Eddie got the help he needed.

Also, as expected the book was not very challenging with very limited time and effort available to me I finished the book in about 4 days. I don't really feel smarter for reading it, but there were some very interesting anecdotes and some pretty cool stories about how some of the songs were written.

I also really respect Sammy's fun loving attitude. I also think he looks great for a guy who is 64 years old and has lived a rock star life. I think Sammy has made some smart financial decisions through hios life and think he is an interesting character.

All in all a decent mindless read if that's what you are looking for. I would probably on give the book a 2.5 out of 5 stars, unless you like me are just looking for something mindless.

Now, what are your thoughts, was Van Halen better with Roth or Hagar?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Get Moving Mississippi

Today's Blog is a bit of a rant... 

I am proud to call myself a Mississippian. My state is not as depicted in Hollywood movies and TV shows. Sure we have things in our past that we aren't proud of, but we are not all barefoot rednecks wearing overalls and drinking moonshine. Mississippi is actually a state that has produced some amazing athletes (Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Brett Favre), some Amazing musicians (Jimmy Rogers, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley, Faith Hill, etc) and other celebrities (Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman etc).

Mississippi does not just produce celebrities but casting aside the stereotype that we are illiterate our state is also been the home for William Faulkner, Willie Morris, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, and John Grisham among others.  Mississippians have also influenced the arts with such notables as Leotine Price, Walter Anderson, and George Ohr. Mississippians have risen to many heights in politics, the military, business, and even space exploration.  Not only have many Mississippians risen to prominence and been wildly successful but most Mississippians are the friendliest people you could hope to meet. Friendly is only one attribute that can accurately be used to describe Mississippians. Look at the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; you will see that Mississippians are resilient, hard working, determined individuals who do not give up easily. 

Mississippi is not all backwoods and swamps; we have a lot of majestic scenery, but we also have a lot of thriving industries, our seafood industry is second to none. We build ships on the gulf coast, cars in Canton, and guitars in Meridian. We have huge casinos and thousands of kitchen table entrepreneurs.  We have Miles and Miles of beaches, and beautiful untouched woodlands. We produce lawyers in Oxford, Polymer Scientists in Hattiesburg, and  business leaders from colleges and Universities across the state. We are blessed with banks that did not need to be bailed out and most of our people do not have their hand out. 

Unfortunately, no matter how much I brag on my state there is still one dubious distinction that I can't put a nice package on. According to this article for the 7th Consecutive year Mississippi leads the nation in obesity with 34.4% of all adults being considered obese. This means that more than one out of every 3 Mississippians is obese; this number is entirely too high.  As the article goes on it lists some of the possible causes for our great state leading the way and also some of the possible solutions; here is a sampling:
The report released on Thursday showed that over the past 15 years, seven states have doubled their rate of obesity and 10 states have doubled their rate of diabetes

Mary Currier, Mississippi's state health officer, says her state has struggled to drop its No. 1 status and it has been challenging because much of the state is poor and rural.
"We live in an area of the country where eating is one of the things we do, and we eat a lot of fried foods," she said. "Trying to change that culture is pretty difficult."
Long Leaf Trace
She says the state has had some success by making school lunches healthier, taking high-calorie foods and drinks out of school vending machines and trying to find more low-cost exercise facilities for residents of rural areas.
"It is frustrating, but we've had some progress," Currier said. "We just have to continue to work at this. It's not something that's going to change overnight." 

Natchez Trace
While I appreciate all of our political leaders doing all they can to help get us from the top of this dreadful list this is where I get on my soap box for community and personal responsibility. As a state we must begin to chose healthier foods. we can learn to grill our chicken instead of fry it, we can learn to make healthier choices at the drive through or forgo it altogether. This is not the government's responsibility to mandate these lifestyle changes it is our responsibility as mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and friends to help each other make smarter choices about food and exercise. We have a lot of great organizations and initiatives in our state designed to help us turn off the tube, and get moving it is time that we begin to encourage each other to get involved in some of these programs. Take a walk, take a spin on a bike, get up and get moving. I have posted a few pictures of great places in the state to take a walk, a run, or a ride, I am sure there are many many please share some of your favorite places. If walking, running, or cycling are not your thing, there are countless trails to hike, and rivers to canoe here in our state.

Biloxi Ocean Springs Bridge
If you are not sure how to get started there are many organizations that can help with that as well. I wrote a blog a month or so ago about a great program called the Couch to 5k and there are many more. Here is the link to that post. 

Let's get ourselves moving and get our friends, neighbors and loved ones moving and making better food choices. Let's all make it a goal to not be on top of this this list next year. We don't need a government program or federal funding all we need is to hold each other accountable.
I am very proud of a lot of aspects of my state, this is one area I am ashamed of and I am committed to trying to improve. Who is with me?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Race Recap: Wesson Memorial

31st Annual Wesson Memorial Race
Ocean Springs, MS July 4, 2011

I was excited before this race for a few reasons. First of all it is only 2 miles and I thought "that sounds easy." Secondly, it was less than 2 miles from the house and that meant there would be no stories about running late or running out of gas. Finally I was excited because it would be another race for my beautiful little runner Molly.

The fact that this event was on the 4th of July added a celebratory feel to the proceedings. Many people were dressed in their patriotic gear and everyone was in good spirits. There were even a couple of young ladies who had painted one leg with blue stars and the other with red stripes.

The weather was typical for July in South Mississippi; hot & humid even at 8:00am.

Even though we had not preregistered, the registration process was quick and painless even though it was very crowded. I also got a new shirt to add to my growing collection, this one a "patriotic" tank top.

We socialized a bit and began warming up. It was great to see the Cross family as well as Greg, Gavin, & Donovan. It was also nice to meet Hunter Henley ( I am looking forward to your event next month in "The Cleave".

As we lined up to begin the race we had an invocation from a surviving member of The Wesson family as well as a very spirited Pledge of Allegiance, and a stirring rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner." We then got a few race instructions, the horn sounded and we were off.

Okay, I was wrong when I thought 2 miles would be easy. I got off to a great start and despite the hilly course and the humidity I was feeling great and making great time, unfortunately I forgot to pace myself. Honestly, I didn't forget to pace myself, I didn't think I needed to. This was my 6th race and my shortest one, I run 2 miles all the time with relative ease. I wasn't taking into account the effect of race day and that with some many other people running I would push myself harder than training.

I finished my first mile in a record time for me, I was at 7:43 and feeling pretty good, but at about the 1.5 point I begin to feel my pace slow and my body begin to resist. The hills on the way back suddenly seemed steeper than the first time by and I also started to notice people passing me. Never one to quit, I kept pushing through, but my second mile was nowhere near as good as my first.

I had sat a goal for myself to finish the race in under 17 minutes... I am happy to say I surpassed my goal, finishing "officially" in 16:26. I am not ashamed of that time at all, in fact I am quite pleased.

After I re-hydrated and got my bearings back it was time for Molly's 1/4 Mile race. She had not trained much and I think made the same mistake I did in thinking this would be too easy. I am very proud of her for running it and for running it hard. She did not get any medals or trophies this time but still had a great time.

We didn't stick around for awards this time as we knew we weren't going to receive any and we had plans for the holiday; but overall this       event was fun and well put together my compliments to the Gulf Coast Running Club and Blossman Family YMCA for a great event.

There were some new records set in the race. The link below is a great write up from the local newspaper