Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Big Sur Half Marathon November 2014

 Pictures at the bottom

Got the call! "What call?", you might say. The call from Dan The Man saying, hey do
you want to run the Big Sur Half Marathon with me and my collage buddies? Scratch that, start over!

I made the call. "What call?", you might say? The call to Dan The Man, saying, "Can I join you and your college buddies when you run the Big Sur Half Marathon?" I had waited for the call, but it never came. So I made the call, as I was afraid the race might sell out, before I got the call.

Dan The Man and his college buddies, Dave and Mark, planned this trip back in March. I waited, waited, waited, but my invite never came. Well here I am at the SFO airport waiting for Dave to pick us up. You may remember Dave Banducci he met up with us in Yosemite last year. Dave is a very successful used car salesperson.

I landed first, then Mark, who flew in from Atlanta. Mark Moore is a sports columnist for the Atlanta Times. Mark travels the country covering all types of national sports. Mark is cousins with Michael Moore the film maker and grandson to Gordon Moore the create of Moore's law.

Dan The Man was last to land.

First stop, where else, In n Out Burgers . After a hardy lunch of 4x4x4's animal style. That is 4 burgers, with 4 patties, and all the extras. We hit the road.

The Big Sur half actually takes place in Monterey California. The course is along the Pacific Coast.

Rather then take the 5 to get to Monterey, we decided to head west to the Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, for the scenic route.

What a beautiful day, for a scenic drive, or should I say exhilarating drive. Dave must have been a race car drive before he started selling cars.

As it was right on our way, we decided to visit the Santa Cruz Bicycle Company. What a great place.
If you are in Santa Cruz and have an extra 30 minutes I highly recommend the factory tour. While the bike frame is manufactured at their China factory, the remainder of the bike is manufactured at this facility. The tour is fairly extensive from the wheels being made to decals being applied. They manufacture about 100 bikes a day each custom ordered.

Once we arrived in Monterey the boys dropped me off at the house I rented just a mile from downtown Monterey. I love, $50.00 a night for a house that is more like a palace. Dave also lent me his bike to get around. Guess what kind of bike? Yep, a Santa Cruz. I think Dave is an impulse shopper. How many people buy a ten thousand dollar mountain bike because they were impressed with the factory tour. I was glad he did.

We met up at the boys hotel, they were staying at the Monterey Marriott downtown. My bike ride to them was all off three minutes straight down hill. We took uber to the Fish House for dinner.

We were told they do not take reservations, but they do, we just had bad intel. The wait was over an hour and a half. After a little southern charm, Southern California that is, Dave got us a table in about 20 minutes. If you go, make reservations. We all had great meals, a must eat place in Monterey.

We took uber back to the Marriott. I biked back home. The ride home took a little longer 1 mile straight up, plus it was pitch black, bike by brail.

In the morning I took advantage of having Dave's bike. Biked as far south as the end of Pacific Grove. Going through Cannery row and many of the tourist destination. A beautiful morning 53 crisp degrees not a cloud in the sky.

Without a bike lock I could not really stop any where, it was approaching 8:00 when the local hardware store opened. I headed south 4 miles and bought a lock. At the same time I got a text the
boys were ready for the day's activity.

We decided to take a drive south, tour 17 mile drive and Big Sur State Park. All places I have been, none of which you can tire of. We had lunch at Nepenthe ( A repeat as far as places I have eaten, the views were as awesome as ever, but the food was a bit lower quality than prior visits. I would recommend stopping for the views, but not for the food.

On the drive back north we decide to stop at the Bixby Bridge built in 1932 a true engineering marvel.

On our arrival back into Monterey we decided we would divided and conquer. Dan The Man would cover church, Mark would nap, Dave was hitting the bar to catch a few college games, I was off for a haircut. The plan was to regroup at 6:00 pm for our pre-race dinner.

I found a great barber, Franco, right off the boat from Italy well he was in 1970, but still speaks in broken English, but his hair cutting technique far out weighed his English skills. As I arrived at the shop, Franco was just closing. After a little begging he agreed to stay open for me. It was a mutually beneficial agreement. I got a great haircut and Franco will be getting a LifeofDug hat.

Not sure how my run would be, but I am sure the hair cut shaved a few seconds off my time.

It was 4:00, I had 2 hours until the meet up, I did some shopping for the next morning. Mostly liquids for the race. Still with time left I decided a nap was in order, not with Mark, on my own.

We went to Domenico's  for dinner, after dinner we called it an early night as morning would be coming soon.

Race day, had my normal pre-race meal, two hard boiled eggs, one baked sweet potato, all washed down with a glass of Gatorade. I was feeling good had a few triple S's and was ready to go.

Biked down to meet up with the boys, rendezvous time was 6:00 am race start 6:55 am. Dave was not
going to be running. This was not only Mark's first half marathon, this was his first running race, he had never even done a 5k. What a beautiful race to break your cherry.

Dan The Man went for a short warm up run. Both Dan The Man  and I were in coral A, just behind the elite runners. This was a first for me, I rather start in the back and pass people. Since this was Dan The Man's  race and I was an uninvited guest, we were doing what Dan The Man wanted to do. "I was just doing what I was told".

The race was very well organized, and run like clock work, 6:55 the gun went off and the elites were out of there. We followed about 30 seconds later. Dan The Man was like greased lighting, much to my surprise the runners quickly spread out and we were not getting passed.

As we completed our first mile I realized why we were not getting passed. Our time, 7:24 that is fast for a 53 year old man that just last week ran his first mile a good bit over 9 minutes. I felt good and Dan The Man looked good. My one concern was negative splitting the race. That is were you run the second half faster then the first. While I felt good I still had over 12 miles to go.

Mile 2 7:14 pace my heart rate was 167 rather low for this pace, still feeling good, Dan The Man  still looked good. I said to Dan The Man, "Can we keep up this pace?" Wendy, who was running next to us, very authoritatively said, "Not Can, Will!" The pace we were running would get us a finishing time around 1:35, I would be happy with anything under 1:45, and my best ever was 1:38 several years ago.

Mile 3, Wendy, Dan The Man, and I were running comfortable side by side, actually
Wendy was always a few steps ahead letting us chase her down. We covered our third mile in 7:15 my heart rate 169, I was very happy with my low heart rate at this pace this meant my fitness has improved.

We had been running along the coast, all of a sudden we turn left up a hill, Wendy was charging the hill, Dan The Man was slowing a little. I had to make a decision, stay with the very pleasant young lady, or hang with sweaty Dan The Man. I chose correctly. Wendy and I covered mile 4 in 7:20 not bad considering the uphill. Heart rate climbed to 173, I am sure the hill had something to do with it.

I found out when Wendy was younger she was on the Canadian National Track Team, and ran in the Olympic qualifiers, but now she runs a yoga studio. She hadn't trained as well as she wanted, but was hoping for a 1:35. I would be ecstatic with a 1:35 my new plan do what Wendy does. Mile 5 7:06 heart rate 170, you have to love a down hill. We made a left and we're back along the coast. What a beautiful view. Bands playing ever few hundred yards.

Could I actually hold this pace, I had 4 GUIs with me, I took one at mile 2, my plan was to stay ahead of my nutrition. At this pace I was not sure what my needs would be, but figured better safe than sorry. GUI number 2 it was. I also made sure I drank water at every water stop which was also Wendy's plan so that worked well.

Mile 6 was all along the coast, we did not realize it but the wind was on our backs, giving us a little boost. At this point the course was a very gradual up hill. We covered mile 6 in 7:16 with a heart rate of 172 BPM very comfortable. Wendy and I were chatting she was telling me what training and nutrition was like when competing at the national level.

The course continued to get steeper not really a steep hill, but noticeable. Clearly Wendy liked to
charge hills, we covered mile 7 in 7:13 with a heart rate of 174 BPM. The leaders were on their way back running effortlessly a good 2 minutes a mile faster than us.

The turn around was at 7.7 miles and again the course got steeper, as we turned we found the wind we had to our backs was now in our faces. We were heading right towards the coast with a nice headwind. Between the steeper grade on the uphill and headwind on the downhill we covered mile 8 at a 7:31 pace, our slowest so far. Heart rate 172. We were still on track for a 1:35, but we had to make sure the last 5 miles were closer to 7:10 than 7:31.

I was feeling the stress of running as fast as I was, I kept telling my brain it was its job to bury the pain, there would be light at the end of the tunnel, just bury the pain. We covered mile 9 in 7:18 my heart rate was 173. The pace was slower than it needed to be and for me the pain was greater than I
would of liked. My left calf was tring to cramp, though I was fighting hard to keep my speed and resist the cramp. Just before we hit mile 10 Wendy needed to stop for a potty break. She waved me ahead and said she would try to catch up. I guess my plan to do what Wendy does just changed.

Without Wendy pushing, the pain was getting the better of me, my heart and lungs were great, my quads, and calf not so much. I covered mile 10 at a pace of 7:29 heart rate of 174. I told myself I only had a 5K to go. I could suck up the pain for 22 minutes, which would be an average 5K for me.

The course turned down hill, mile 11 was 7:27 heart rate 175. Seeing the higher heart rate for the first time I knew I was pushing. I grabbed my 3rd GUI, got some water and said to myself, it is on me now.

Mile 12 7:25 heart rate 175. At least I was getting faster after the dismal 7:31 at mile 8 and 7:29 at mile 12. I was doing some passing but also getting passed. I was doing my best to try to tag onto the
passers. It was working a little.

Mile 13 7:22 heart rate 176. I had a tenth of a mile to go and was fairly confident if I pushed hard I would run my fastest half marathon in modern times. My pace 6:59 heart rate 178 BPM.

Total time 1:37.25 average pace 7:20. A good two minutes faster than the Edinburgh Half in May.

Wendy came in about a minute behind me and Dan The Man a minute behind her. It is what it is, but I wonder if Wendy did not need that potty break would she have pushed me to that 1:35.

Mark started a good 25 minutes behind us in corral H. Being his first race and being in the crowds he was forced to run slower than he would have liked. He covered the course in 2:14 minutes.

Wendy was 5th in her division out of 865 runners
Dug was 16 in his division out of 282 runners
Dan The Man was 38 in his division out of 362 runners
Mark was 199 in his division out of 362 runners. Great job for his first race ever.

We hung around the after party, party for sometime. How can you pass up live music, free beer, and hot soup. The weather was perfect for running 53 degrees at the start 60 degrees at the finish. A very
slight cloud cover to keep the direct sun from heating us up.

Dave biked along most of the race with Mark, but he is no Sherpa.

We were starting to stiffen up, so we decided to shower up, check out and find a place for lunch.

I biked back up the hill, which actually felt good to loosen up my leg muscles. A few hours later we met up at the Marriott. We found a great brew pub on Cannery Row for some greasy food and a few beers.

After lunch we took the two hour drive back to the San Francisco Airport Marriott, after a little price negotiating we checked in. Had dinner at the Elephant Bar, which still had great margaritas, but the
menu had changed from American food to more Eurasian food.

That is it for the Big Sur Half Marathon weekend. A big thank you to Dave, Mark, and Dan The Man for allowing me to crash their party. A big thank you to Wendy for pushing me past my pain point.

Sorry I did not take as many picture, just trying to keep from cramping was hard enough picture were not going to happen.

Not sure where to next, keep voting on where I should go next, the polls close January 1st 2015.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

Trenton Half Marathon November 8th 2014 (3 for 3)

Video at the Bottom

Yes, Heather and I have now done all three of the Trenton Half Marathons, 27 to go (in about 27 years you will figure out what that means).

2012    2013  And now 2014.

This year we had a fairly large group some from the Full Moon Running Club and some from the Dragon Boat Race

Let's see if I can name them all and not forget someone.

  • Elle Kaplan 2:10:52 - 9:58 Pace
  • Shawn (Shrek) Kaplan 2:08:58 - 9:50 Pace
  • Karen Price 2:10:51 - 9:58 Pace
  • Lynn Adams 2:17:34 - 10:29 Pace
  • Melanie Davis 1:54:18 - 8:43 Pace (beat Sweet Willie by 11 seconds)
  • Amy Windish 2:09:53 - 9:54 Pace
  • Christa Brandon 2:12 - 10:08 Pace (ran 11 of the 13 miles injured all heart)
  • Meghan Merkis 1:59:27 - 9:06
  • Crazy Christine Olszanski 1:39:20 - 7:34 Pace (second in her division)
  • Heather Lewis 1:58:40 - 9:03 Pace
  • DUG - 1:58:29 - 9:03 Pace

If you want to know what the race was like, read the 2012 or 2013 version they were faster.

The weather was perfect Heather and I continue our trend in 2012 we did the course in 1:45:38 with a pace of 8:13 in 2013 we did the course in 1:52:51 and a pace of 8:32 about 7 minutes slower. This year we did 1:58:29 a 9:03 pace about 7 minutes slower. If we continue this trend we maybe walking this race.
                                                    One Happy Runner

Enjoy the video.

Off to the West Coast for the Bid Sur Half Marathon



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Austin, Texas October 2014

 All Pictures are at the bottom!

 Austin, Texas October 2014 So why Austin? That is a good question, the only real answer, it is a city in the United States that I have not visited yet. A few months back I had asked Lorenzo about visiting Austin, I knew he was from that area. Not only did I get a complete itinerary of what to do and see, I found out Lorenzo actually owns a house with Wade Howard in Austin and he offered the house for
me to stay in.

With having a house to stay in I asked Margarite to come along. Wade Howard and Lorenzo's house purchase was recent and one of the items on the itinerary was looking for furniture.

We arrived late on Wednesday night, Wade Howard lives in the house but was away until Friday evening. We got an Uber Car from the airport to the house. This was the first time I used Uber. What a great technology, not sure if it was any cheaper or faster than a cab, but the experience was a lot easier.

10 Minute Video of Austin:

What a great house in a very quite neighborhood, less then a mile from Down Town Austin. The house appears to be brand new. The neighborhood is well established and it was clear that there was a lot of pride in the homes. So many were either under renovation or had recently been renovated.

We decided not to rent a car, Wade Howard had left us his mountain bike to use and Lorenzo had recently purchased a beater bike for $170.00. We would soon realize Lorenzo paid $170.00 to much for his beater bike.

Thursday - Margarite made us a spinach omelets for breakfast. The kitchen is well equipment and very well laid out. After breakfast we hopped on the bikes for a bike tour of the town. The house is on a hill, so the ride toward town was very easy for me, Margarite had some issues the beater bike had a very poor rear break, this is not the best option for a steep down hill ride. Between the weak back break and the somewhat functioning front break Maragrite made it down the hill in one piece.

Austin Straddles the Colorado River a dam system has created several lakes. The city has done a fantastic job of creating bike / running trails around these lakes and throughout the city, including
several pedestrian bridges to cross from one side of the river / lake to the other. In a very short time we got a very good feel for the layout of the city.

It was getting close to lunch time and the itinerary Lorenzo had put together for us, dictated we eat at Chuy's we decided to eat at the original Chuy's on Barton Springs Road. After lunch we peddled over to the UMLAUF sculpture garden & museum

In 1991, the property was transformed into a sculpture garden for the dozens of bronze and stone pieces given to the city of Austin by noted 20th
century American sculptor Charles Umlauf. I highly recommend taking a tour of this sculpture garden if you happen to be in Austin.

From the sculptor garden we headed over to a local furniture store to get some ideas for the house. After the furniture research we headed back to the house for some R&R.

The next item on our itinerary was seeing the bats. The Congress Street Bridge is home to about a million bats. These bats arrive from Mexico pregnant in the spring have their offspring over the summer and return to Mexico in late October early November. Each evening around sundown the bats come out all at once. Seeing a million bats all fly out from under the bridge is a fantastic sight.

We peddled down to Congress Street locked up the bikes and walked around town, they bats would not be out until sundown. As the sun started setting we headed toward the Congress Street Bridge. At first we watch the bats from below the bridge and then went to watch from on the bridge I would suggest watching them from the bridge as you get a better prospective.

After the bats, we headed to 6th street. 6th Street has a lot of bars, music, and restaurants. We were looking for a casual dinner and picked the Old
School Bar and Grill, we sat up stairs on the balcony over looking 6th street. Great food, great casual place to eat.

After dinner we walk back to the bikes and peddled home, what a great town for using bikes as transportation.

Friday - We got up and went for a 10 mile run that turned into 11 miles. We explored more of the trail system, what a great place to run. We stopped for Breakfast at Austin Java on Barton Springs Road  as that was what our itinerary said to do. After Breakfast we hung around the house thinking of decorating ideas.

We had planned to cook dinner for Wade Howard so back on the bikes and we peddled to Whole Foods, what a Whole Foods this was. You could buy a beer to enjoy while you shop. We decided on
Mahi Mahi as our main, along with salad and sweet potatoes, berries and Ice Cream for dessert.

Lunch was out of this world we hit a truck food court at the corner of Lamar and Bluebonnet. I had a Pork Belly Sandwich with Onions, Pickles and Jalapeños Peppers at Lone Star BBQ  simply out of this world. Margarite had a protein shake made with Cricket protein.

Wade Howard would be home soon so we had to get back to the house clean the house and get ready for dinner. Margarite made an fantastic dinner.

Saturday - Today the primary event is furniture shopping. We started off with Breakfast at Austin Java. We decided Wade Howard would take us on a city bike tour Sunday so before we went furniture shopping we had to buy another bike. Wade Howard bought an awesome used get around town bike.

Now off to the furniture store, dinner was going to be at home and Amber Green would be joining us, so a dinning room / kitchen table and chairs were the priority. Our sales person had Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), this made the shopping take a lot longer then expected. After the purchase we dropped Margarite at the bike shop to pick up Wade Howard's new ride and get the groceries for dinner while Wade Howard and I went back to pick up the rest of the Kitchen set.

Wade Howard had gotten show tickets so to save time we had dinner at home. You may remember Amber Green from the Lake Placid Iron Man. After dinner we went to see Esther's Follies, what a great show, it was like Saturday Night Live on steroids. Two and a half hours of non-stop laughter.

After the show we headed over to The Broken Spoke one of the original Texas Honky Tonk, Dance Halls. There was a lot of history in this place along with some very interesting characters.

Sunday - Wade Howard took us on a city Bike Tour we hit most of the downtown area, a good part of the University of Texas Campus and more of the inner city bike Trail systems. We had Breakfast at Annie's Cafe and Bar, I ordered Eggs Benedict and it was the best Eggs Benedict I ever had! Toward Mellow Johnny's bike shop to see if they could put some life back into Lorenzo's beater bike, which they did.
the end of our ride we stopped in at

After the city tour we visited the local Farmers Market that was not to far from the house and at the same location as the Lone Star BBQ, with it being late in the day unfortunately for me, that were sold out of pork bellies.

We would be going to Salt Lick BBQ for dinner which was about 40 minutes outside of town. One our way we stopped at Home Goods for some more shopping and bought a nice carpet for the upstairs hall area. While Salt Lick BBQ is an institution and a must see when in Austin. I would not give the food a very high rating.

We had an early flight in the morning so we called it a night. Not sure where I am headed to but I will keep you posted. Please vote on where I should go to next. Upper Right Hand Tab.




Monday, October 6, 2014

Dragon Boat Racing October 4th 2014

Before reading the story please click on the upper right hand tab and vote on where my next trip should be. Thank you.

What the hell is Dragon Boat Racing? In fact what is a Dragon Boat.

"A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft. They were traditionally made in the Pearl River Delta region of China's southern Guangdong Province out of teak wood (mostly imported from Pontianak, Indonesia) to various designs and sizes. In other parts of China, different kinds of wood are used to build these traditional watercraft. It is one of a family of traditional paddled long boats found throughout Asia, Africa, and the Pacific islands. Currently, boats are being made for competitive purposes out of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials."

I have been all over Africa had never heard of a Dragon Boat, I guess I need to spend more time in Asia.

Last winter I was asked to Captain a Dragon boat for a Team called A Love For Life , they would be racing in the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival. I guess my reputation as a sailor has far reaching implication. I had never Captained a Dragon Boat, in fact I had never been on a Dragon Boat, in fact I had never seen a Dragon Boat, in fact I had no idea what a Dragon Boat was. I was just hoping it had a decent motor. I would later find out our boat had one of the best motors (engines) out there.

First step of being the Captain of a Dragon Boat Team is organizing the team. I was very lucky. Heather one of our Full Moon Running Club members and my Trenton Half Marathon Running Partner, put our team together.

Our team was made up of 20 paddlers, which I quickly realized was our engine, three alternates, and me, the Captain. There is also a steers person that steers the boat. This confused me, anytime I captained a boat I also steered it. The rules are the rules.

On our team we had 6 men, and 17 women (3 of them were alternates) as our paddlers. This qualified us for the mixed division. To qualify as a mixed division you must have at least 8 women on your boat. We would find out most mixed division boats have exactly that, 8 women and 12 men. What a mistake they were making. Clearly they had no idea how much pain a women that has given birth to a child is capable of enduring compared to a man.

We would end up having four practices. These practices would happen one in July, August, and two practices in September with the race October 4th.

Before I forget there is a reason that we are all doing this Dragon Boat Race a good friend recently passed away from pancreatic cancer and our team was one of five teams raising money for pancreatic cancer research. The foundation is called A Love For Life  and if you would like to donate please CLICK HERE.

Did I mention, I had never been on a Dragon Boat and I meet most of my team members at our first practice. Some I knew from the full moon running club, the rest I meet at practice. About half our
team had raced before and the other half were virgins to Dragon Boat Racing just like me.

I quickly learned two important factors about being a competitive Dragon Boat Team.

You must stay in sync. The old saying "you will do better if everybody is rowing in the same direction" is so true with Dragon Boat Racing. Not only in the same direction but at the same time.
Pain - or should I say the tolerance of pain. A Dragon Boat Race is 500 meters to help understand that distance 400 meters is about 1/4 mile, 800 meters is about 1/2 mile, 500 meters is about 1/3 mile. When racing you cover that distance in anywhere from 2:00 minutes (very fast) to 3:00 minutes (on the slow side). In order to be competitive you need to go all out for two to three minutes. In order to do that you need to tolerate pain and lots of it. Your muscles are screaming stop, your brain is telling you to stop, your heart is pounding and you gut must suck up the pain and push harder.

Our first practice went well except in one area, rhythm. One of the jobs of the captain is setting the pace of the paddle stroke. The Captain sits in the front of the boat facing the paddlers and counts, and the team paddles to the captains count. If the Captain goes to slow the boat will go slow, if the Captain counts to fast, the paddlers must shorten their stroke to keep up with the count and they lose power and the boat goes to slow.

Guess what, the team quickly learned what I already knew, I have no rhythm, and when I get excited I count real fast. At the end of each practice we do a practice race. At the end of the first practice race I was counting so fast if the paddlers would have kept up with me their paddles would have never touched the water.

My goal is to set the pace for the first two paddlers (Row one), all other paddlers time themselves off of the first row. In our first row were Amy DO NOT MESS WITH ME Windish and Melanie GET OUT OF MY WAY Davis. Not only were they VERY competitive they both had great timing. We decided that rather then them pace off my count, I would count off their pace. Life got much better after that quick adjustment.

We placed our guys in the center of the boat, leading the guys were Gene THE TANK and Greg I GOT IT Lewis. The guys were our engine or power. Their job was to get us off to a strong start and power back up for a strong finish. While some of the guys had more power than the women they could not tolerate the pain their bodies would have to absorb for the entire race. Only women can take that kind of pain.

After a few adjustments all our practices went well.

I am not sure I mentioned this, but reason that we are all doing this Dragon Boat Race a good friend recently passed away from pancreatic cancer and our team was one of five teams raising money for pancreatic cancer research. The foundation is called A Love For Life and if you would like to donate please CLICK HERE.

Christine Edmonds who runs A love For Life had a few social events during the time we were all gearing up for the race and to celebrate after the race. The first event was a team social where all the teams, family, and friends could all get together for some fun. I made A few of my world famous cheese cakes, here is a quick video of how they are made.

For the after race party I made my world famous chili, and here is that video.

Finally race day. Each team will race in three races. The first race is a qualifying race. You race the clock in this race. The outcome of this race will determine what division you are in, "A" division being the best, through "G" division being the worst. While you could sandbag and do poorly in your first race, get placed in a lower division and then win gold, that's not good sportsmanship.

At the race I learned a few more responsibilities of the Captain, you have to wear a Purple Dragon Custom, you have to have your face painted, you your nails get painted with purple nail polish. At least that is what Heather told me. Yet, I was the only captain dressed that way.

With half our boat being first time paddlers we were concerned about nerves. To combat that we decided our first race would focus on form, making sure we were all in sync, we had a great start and finished strong. Our goal was not to go all out, focus on staying in sync. We felt we should be seated in B flight and that was our goal.

Our first race was flawless with one exception our steers person counted, throwing the back of the boat out of sync. We quickly adjusted and won our heat with a time of 2:36 finishing first in our heat.

When not racing there is a lot of down time so we were treated to some of the women doing keg stands. Yes not only can the women take more pain they can drink more beer than the men.

Race two - we got off to a bad start, we qualified for B flight, now we wanted to make sure we made it to the finals, top 8 out of 16 boats. Strategy - go all out. At the start there was a cross wind when the gun went off we were at a 30 degree angle to the course. Our team got off on a powerful start and our steers person slowly got us on track and we caught 5 of the other boats for a third place finish and 7th place for our division locking up a slot in the finals.

We now had a few more hours of down time. We watch our other teams compete all doing well in their divisions.

It was now do or die time. I learned a new lesson about Dragon Boat Racing, actually it was an old lesson I forgot about. When lining up for the start if the boat is not straight the captain must raise his / her hand to make sure the starter does not start the race until all the boats are lined up properly. Guess
what it was my fault we had that bad start in our second race. Our goal for this race was all out and win the gold. As we looked around we could see we were out gunned, the other boats were teams of 12 men and 8 women all ready to race. None of their captains had Purple Dragon suits on.

Once we were lined up we had a great start, but the other boats were ahead. We quickly caught two other boats putting us in 6th place. Our engine did their job but it was not enough, I thought to myself this is going to suck. I kept pushing the team even though I thought there is no way. As I looked around I saw the other boats running out of gas and realized we had a chance (the men on the other boats could not take the pain), we were gaining and moved into 5th place catching 4th place. We had about 200 meters to go, the women all clearly in pain, were paddling harder than any man on the other boats. Our Engine went full throttle and we literal lurched in the water. The boat has a little dragon's tail and the momentum took our tail off. We were now in what I thought was forth place, but was actually third place. As we crossed the finish line I swore we were in third or fourth. I know the other boats thought, "what just happened to us, we got beat by a boat full or women and a captain dressed like a Dragon with purple nail polish.

Why could the ladies take the pain for the two and half minutes and men could not. Most of these women have given birth to several babies. These births took a lot longer than two and a half minutes and were a lot more painful. Our Ladies rocked, and our engine was the icing on the cake they gave us the power when we needed it.

We still had no idea what place we got, I thought fourth, maybe third, a few paddlers were sure we got third. We hit the scoring station and everybody went nuts, we got second a Silver Medal. As we collected our medals:

Texas Debbie Says, "I just keep laughing thinking about the other teams looking at us thinking seriously - there drummer has a dragon costume on and purple nail polish why are they even in the finals - and then we kicked their butt!"

Heather Says, "I hope you realize what we accomplished is insane. We only had 4 practices and never with our whole boat!!!!!!" Heather forgot to mention and a Captain had no clue what he was doing.

In the last 9 years I have traveled the world, I am often asked where is the best place you have been, I always answer the same, there is no best place, just great people. It is always the people that make my trips. I have to say it was clear today it was the people it was our team. They all (100%) gave 200%. They made it happen because they believed they could. This post is dedicated to the men and women on A Love For Life One (Won) as well as Kevin Edmonds who taught us all how to Live Life even in Death.

I am not sure I mentioned this, but reason that we are all doing this Dragon Boat Race a good friend recently passed away from pancreatic cancer and our team was one of five teams raising money for pancreatic cancer research. The foundation is called A Love For Life and if you would like to donate please CLICK HERE.



Monday, July 28, 2014

Where should Dug go Next

Over the last 9 years Dug has been traveling around the world, where he goes is up to you. Pick where his next destination should be. Take your time you only get one vote and you can NOT change it!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Scotland May June 2014

Everything you are about to read happened just as stated. If you do not believe me all pictures are posted at the bottom!

Day 1 Thursday

Wow, time flies while you are having fun. Though three month have past, it seems like yesterday I
was landing in Ethiopia. While I enjoyed my stay in Ethiopia, compliments of Ethiopian Air. I got a request I can not refuse.

It seems that Margarite and Alli Ludwick got this crazy idea to compete in the Edinburgh Marathon. Yes, Edinburgh, Scotland. You may remember Alli Ludwick the Miami University Track Star that went to the 2012 London Olympics.

Margarite and Alli Ludwick asked me if I would join them, how could I say, no! The one quandary. Does Scotland count as a country I visited. The United Nations does not count Scotland as
an independent country. They consider the United Kingdom as the country. The Scottish consider Scotland as their own country, and in fact in September the Scottish people will be voting on separating from the United Kingdom. Maybe I should wait for that vote before I make my final decision.

Once I arrived in Scotland I found out Alli's family would be joining us, Big Bill Ludwick also known as Mr. Pittsburgh, Theresa Ludwick, and the world famous rapper Dylan Ludwick. From my side I invited "Z" to join us. While I enjoy a good Scotch once in a while, I am nowhere near the Scotch connoisseur "Z" is. I knew he would love a tour of the Scottish Highlands and tasting some of the best Scotches in the world.

Column and Ciaran, picked me up from the Edinburgh airport. Both live in Edinburgh, neither had a very good sense of direction. Unfortunately for them, as we traversed the windy roads of Edinburgh, they spent more time with me than I think they would of liked. Fortunately for
me, I got an extensive tour of the city.

Theresa rented an awesome flat for our stay in Edinburgh. Right in the center of town walking distance to everything. Once we dropped my bags off Margarite, Column, Ciaran and I, went for a quick breakfast and then Column and Ciaran were very gracious and took us to the grocery to stock up for the marathon weekend.

It was Thursday, Margarite had been hanging in Holland, she was able to take a shuttle flight over and meet up with us at the apartment. "Z" flew via Iceland into Glasgow. After trains, planes, and buses, he finally made it to Edinburgh.

We spent the afternoon tour the city the main site we visited was the Nelson Monument. From the top of the tower you got a 360 degree view of the entire city.

It was approaching 7:00 PM we decided to look for a spot for dinner. Margarite had noticed a restaurant Café Marlayne » Thistle Street in the same building as our flat. We gave it a try and had a fantastic dinner. The service was great, I had a roasted chicken that was just fantastic.

With just the three of us, the apartment was perfect, tomorrow the Ludwick's would be arriving and a single bathroom for 7 people might get tight.

Day 2 Friday

We slept in, had a casual breakfast of hard boiled eggs, though I did an extensive shopping spree, I forget oil to coat the pan for cooking eggs, so boiled was the only choice. Today was a day of sight seeing and picking up our numbers for the race. No, no, I would not be running the marathon, just Maragrite and Alli, Big Bill Ludwick, and I would be running the Half the Marathon.

Once we got going we walked over to the Edinburgh Castle, we had not pre purchased tickets and the
queue was rather long. Instead of the Castle we decided to walk the Royal Mile to check in for the run and visit some sites on the way. As we walked the Royal Mile we loved taking in all the different architecture. We visited several churches and stopped to have some simply delicious fudge.

We retrieved our race numbers had some lunch and walked back to the apartment. It was getting close to 3:00 PM and the Ludwicks would be arriving soon.

On their arrival we learned that Big Bill Ludwick had, had both a heart attack and stroke, on the flight over, both caused by stress. After finding nothing wrong with Big Bill Ludwick, the doctor released him from the hospital, the Doctor made the suggestion he not run the half marathon.

Once everybody was settled in we headed out to try our luck touring the Edinburgh Castle. It was 4:00 p.m. and the line had died down. We pretty much had the castle to ourselves. The highlight was seeing the Crown Jewels. We found out Big Bill Ludwick was a descendent of the Scottish Royal Family, while we were all looking at the Crown Jewels, Big Bill Ludwick was looking at his
family jewels.

We found another great restaurant on Thistle Street called Iris Restaurant. We were very impressed the seven of us showed up without reservations, not only did the accommodate us, they treated us like royalty. Everybody enjoyed their meals. I had the stuff aborigine, very tasty and tender, cooked to perfection. I had no idea, this would be my last good meal for some time.

Dylan Ludwick a little jealous of all the attention his father was getting over the stroke / heart attack, decided it was his turn. Though he was smart enough to wait until he completed his meal, somehow he caused his pupils to dilate and then he rolled his eyes back into his head. While the rest of us clearly saw this as a cry for attention, Alli Ludwick actually just laugh hysterically.
Theresa and Big Bill Ludwick freaked out, quickly rushed Dylan back to the apartment.

We later found out this was not Dylan's way to get attention, but a trick the Ludwick's use to get out of paying the restaurant bill. When the waitress saw Dylan and his folks run out of the restaurant with Dylan clearly in distress, the waitress quickly came over to our table and asked if everything was ok. Alli quickly said that Dylan was having a reaction to the food and her folks were going to rush him to the hospital. The shocked waitress returned with the owner, who quickly took care of our complete bill. He even offered to pay the non-existent hospital bill.

Alli Ludwick told us her family does this all the time to get free meals. And I thought I knew all the
tricks. The meal was great and the price even better. When we returned to the apartment Dylan had recovered from his fake episode. Dylan spent the evening teaching us how to dilate our eyes and roll them back into our head. A new talent we have now all mastered.

We later found out that Big Bill Ludwick faked his stroke / heart attack on his flight. He had read that medical emergencies by pass customs and immigrations. He wanted to try it out and it worked. He saved over 2 hours not having to deal with the customs and immigration bureaucracy at Heathrow, by faking a stroke / heart attack on his flight.

Day 3 Saturday

Bill forgot to print his bus passes for the race, we all headed out to find an Internet cafe, we found 3. All three advertised the ability to print. All three had
broken printers. At this point we were close to the race registration, we stopped in and found out you really do not need a ticket and taking the city bus is even better than the race bus.

Since we were right next to Holyrood Park we decided to do some hiking, what a great idea the day before a race. Hiked five mile of steep trails.

After the hike we grabbed some lunch and headed back to the apartment.

We split up for dinner, Margarite, "Z", and I went to Fishers in the City, it was just ok. The Ludwick's went out for Italian, it was what you would expect Italian to be in Scotland. This was the start of our declining quality of eating while in

Big day tomorrow so an early evening.

Day 4 Sunday

I got up at 6:00 a.m. The race start was 8:00 a.m. for the half marathon. Breakfast was three hard boiled eggs and a baked sweet potato. At 7:10 we (Big bill Ludwick, "Z", and I) walked to the start. I dropped my bag off. Since this race is point to point. They offer a service where you give them your bag and they deliver it to you at the finish.

The weather looked threatening, 50 degrees and the sky looked like it would open up at any point and drop buckets of water on us. The start was a few minutes late 8:02 a.m. There were two starts,
London Road and Regents Road. I was at the Regents road start. Big Bill Ludwick was also assigned the Regents Road Start. Bill had forgot that his heart attack / stroke on the plane was all a rouse to by pass customs, he thought it was real. For that reason he decided to take the Doctors advice and not to run the half marathon.

Just before the race start, it started to rain, not heavy, but enough to get you wet. The first mile was a slight down hill, which I covered in 7 minutes 54 seconds, my heart rate was 151 beats per minute (BPM). My goal for the race was one hour 45 minutes which is approximately 8 minute miles. With the first mile being down hill I was happy with the pace. I felt good, the course was not to crowded except for a few spots where the course narrowed.

By mile two the dual starts merged and the course got rather crowded, we were still going down hill. My time was 7 minutes 38 seconds and my heart rate was 159 BMP. I still felt good, besides the crowds all was going great. I had to keep reminding myself I still had 11 miles to go. The course was
starting to level out and I knew part of the reason for my fast times was the first two miles were down hill or flat.

During mile three I was feeling great the course was as flat as a pan cake, fast, the rain had stopped, and the crowds had thinned. I was constantly passing people. My time was 7 minutes 29 second, my heart rate was 160 BPM. I had to look at my watch twice seeing the 7:29 scared me, I was only 3 miles into the race and running a full 30 seconds per mile faster than my goal time. Could my body hold this pace? I took a quick look at my heart rate and that set me at ease, at 160 BPM, I was not stressing my body. I made the decision as long as I felt relaxed I would let my legs do what they wanted to do.

Mile four was another flat mile we were running along the coast line, the Firth of Fourth was on our left and a beach community on our right. We were running on a very wide promenade. I was still passing people. My time for mile four was 7 minutes and 21 seconds, my heart rate was 161 BPM. This was two fast, I still had 9 miles to go.

For mile five I forced myself to slow down, I was drinking water at every water stop and I ate one of my two GU's. I covered the fifth mile in 7 minutes and 35 seconds, my heart rate was 163 BPM. I knew with my current pace and heart rate I was going to beat my goal time as long as my legs did not blow up. Now the question was when do I start allowing myself to bring the pace back up. I decided I would hold off on my last GU until mile 9.5. I felt I would be good for another few miles and the last GU would then take me to the finish.

Mile six, 7 minutes 39 seconds heart rate 163. I knew I was doing the right thing even though my body and legs wanted to go faster. I was not even half way through the race I needed to pace myself.

Mile Seven, I was now over halfway done. 7 minutes and 35 seconds heart rate 163 BPM. I had now covered 3 miles at a very consistent pace, my heart rate was very steady and my body very relaxed.
Should I give it some gas, I still had over 6 miles to go.

Mile Eight, I took the governor off a little 7 minutes 31 seconds heart rate 164. Everything felt fine. The course had some rolling hills and the head winds had picked up.

Mile Nine, I had my last GU and turn up the gas a little 7 minutes 22 seconds with a heart rate of 166, still well within my comfort range. Time to shave off some time.

Mile Ten, really started to feel the winds, my time was 7 minutes and 26 seconds my heart rate was 168 BPM. I had officially 3.1 miles to go, but based on my watch I had 3.2 miles to go. I knew I would be close to breaking one hour and forty minutes.

Mile Eleven, at mile 9 we past the finish line soon we would turn and head back the way we came to the finish. I could not wait for that turn around so the wind would be at my back. I was a little disappointed with my time of 7 minutes and 27 seconds especially when I saw my heart rate was 168
BPM. At this point I should be maxing out my body and legs and I was not. The winds were holding me back.

Mile Twelve, finally the wind was to my back, and finally I was pushing myself with my fastest mile at a time of 7 minutes and 12 seconds, my heart rate was up to 170 BPM. I guess I am fitter than I thought. I expected to be closer to my max heart rate.

Mile Thirteen, more gas and a time of 7 minutes and 9 seconds my heart rate reached 173 BPM, I could see the finish.

The last .2 miles I covered in 2 minutes and 2 seconds for a pace of 6 minutes and 56 seconds, my
heart rate was 175 BPM. I was done. Total time one hour 39 minutes and 24 seconds.

The best part I beat "Z" by about an hour and he took the bus. The marathon started at 10:00 which was just a few minutes after I had finished. My hope was to get back out on the course and cheer for Margarite and Alli Ludwick. Unfortunately by the time I met up with "Z" and the Ludwick's, Margarite and Alli had passed us.

They both had fantastic races. Margarite covered the 26.2 miles in 3 hours 16 minutes winning her age group. Alli Ludwick finished in 3 hours 24 minutes for a fantastic first marathon time.

We all had great races. Right after the Alli Ludwick finished the skies opened up so we decided to take the bus back to town and get cleaned up. It had been a long day for everybody, runners and spectators.

Day 5 Monday

The Ludwicks will be heading back to London and we will be heading to the Scottish Highlands.

Margarite, "Z", and I rented a car, I am now very comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road.
Our VW station wagon was comfortable for our tour. Our plan for the day was to drive to St Andrews, Scotland, the birth place of golf. We had no set schedule or reservations. It was early season and we thought finding a place each night would not be a big deal.

We stopped in a small town for lunch called Leven Beach. There was only one restaurant open called the Beachcomber. I am not sure if I would have feed the food we were severed to a pet dog, and I will eat most anything. This was the start of our awful food experience in the Highlands of Scotland.

The next town we stopped at was Fife also along the coast. Here we found a great ice cream parlor with great ice cream. We would find out as the trip continued for as bad as the food was the ice cream was great.

We arrived in St Andrews in the late afternoon only to find all the bed and breakfasts' were booked. We drove just a few miles out or town and found a darling place to stay, The Hawthorne House. Just up the road (walking distance) was a great restaurant (based on the Scottish Highlands standards) called The Tavern at Strathkinness. Strathkinness is a little village just a few miles outside of St Andrews. The Tavern sits on the top of a hill which on a clear day you can see St. Andrews.

Day 6 Tuesday

Today we would tour St. Andrews the birthplace of golf. There were two main historical sites in St. Andrews besides the Links. The first was the St Andrews Cathedral. Though now more of a ruins
than a Cathedral, you could see that this area was a major religious center at one time.

The second sight was the St Andrews Castle. While the castle had both a moat and high walls, the enemies tried to take the castle over by digging tunnels under the moat and walls. Their plan was discovered and defensive tunnels were dug and the enemy was repelled. Before leaving St Andrews we visited the St Andrews Links, the home of golf. It looked more like a beach with grass growing on it.

We continued on our way north discovering what the highlands had to offer. As we rounded a bend we saw a sign for The Edradour Distillery, it was billed as the smallest distillery in Scotland. We thought, might as well start our tour of Scottish distilleries with the smallest one.

We took that tour which was very enlighten. One thing I learned is that Scotch can only be made in
Scotland. It makes sense, but I never knew it. The tour guide did a very nice job of explaining the process of making scotch. She was also very proud that the Edradour Distillery is the smallest and one of the only privately owned distillery in all of Scotland.

It was getting late so we decided to stay in Pitlochry for the night. A nice little Scottish village. We found a bed and breakfast that looked over the town called Ardvane B&B. Scotland has a fairly high latitude and since it was late May the sun stayed up late. We decided to take a walk into town and get some dinner. The owner of the Ardvane B&B had recommended The Auld Smiddy Inn for dinner. The service and atmosphere were great, the food was just ok. At this point my food standards were dropping rapidly.

It was now 8:00 PM, though the sun was still high in the sky. With nothing better to do we decided to
get some ice-cream. As bad as the food was the ice-cream was great. There is a river with a hydro electric dam that runs along the village. We walked a loop that took us over the dam and down the river and back over a pedestrian bridge. It was beautiful night. We had been warned that we would hit a lot of overcast and rainy days. So far we had a few overcast days, overall the weather had been very pleasant.

Day 7 Wednesday

We would be heading to Inverness today. On our way out of town we stopped that Blair Castle. Not only was the castle magnificent, it had some beautiful gardens attached. After several hours of tour the castle and gardens we were on the road

Our next stop was the Cairngorm Mountain while a very beautiful mountain, it had only been a few months since Maragrite's bout with Altitude Sickness on Mount Kilimanjaro, just looking at a mountain was making her nauseous. While we did not take the train to the top we did enjoy a short hike.

We arrived in Inverness just after 5:00 p.m. What we found was an industrial town. We decided this was not the place for us so we headed east to a small village called Nairn. We ended up staying in Nairn for two nights. It was a pleasant village with a great biking / running trail that connected it to other small villages.

Day 8 Thursday

We headed out to tour the Cawdor Castle and Gardens. Another delightful castle but not up to the The Aberlour Distillery. Unfortunately the distillery was closed for tours, though they still allowed "Z" to taste their scotch. They suggested we take a tour of the town of Aberlour. Named after the founder of the distillery. They had set up a nice path that took you through town and back up through the local woods, by a water fall that supplied water to the distillery. Are you seeing a theme for this tour of the highlands, Castles and Distilleries.
same standards as the Blair Castle we had visited the day before. We continued our tour of the highlands with another distillery,

Oh, wait our next stop is the Speyside Cooperage, not a castle or distillery. Most barrels / casks used to make scotch are made from wood imported from the United States. Speyside is the largest Cooperage in Scotland. It was amazing watching how fast they could build or repair a barrel. We still need to get a distillery tour in before the day was up.

Glenfiddich, yep a distillery, with Maragite and I being teetotalers, "Z" was not only tasting his scotch, but he also got ours. After two different distillery's he had a fairly good buzz.

We headed back to Nairn to let "Z" sober up. The night before we had a decent meal at a restaurant called The Classroom. The restaurant occupied and old school house. With my food standards dropping the food was ok. We all decided it had been to long since we had real lettuce and some veggies. In Scotland the only veggie it seems they serve in restaurants are chips (French Fries). We went to the local grocery and bought the fixings for a salad and Smoke Scottish Salmon. One of the best meals we had, had since leaving Edinburgh.

Day 9 Friday

Today we will be heading for the Isle of Skye. Our first stop was Fort George. Actually we stopped at a pig farm before Fort George. Fort George is largest military fort in Scotland, it is still in full
operation today. Of course no day is complete with out a tour of a distillery.

On the way to the Isle of Skye was the Glen Ord Distillery. We decided not to take the tour, but "Z" did enjoy his triple tasting of Glen Ord Scotch.

Tonight we will be staying in Portree , which is the largest town on the Isle of Skye. We found a nice B&B just a few blocks walk to town, Sandra Campbell Bed & Breakfast. The accommodations were nice, but the owner smoked. If she had the door open between the main house and the B&B you would get the odor of Cigarette smoke, not good!

Once we arrived in Portree we took a walk through the town. The dock area was fantastic, each building painted a different pastel color. We decided to have dinner at the Pier Hotel Restaurants. The food was actual ok, I think after 7 days of awful food, our taste buds were starting to revolt.

Day 10 Saturday

We decided we would be staying in Portree for only 2 nights. This gives us one full day to tour the Isle of Skye. We thought let's circumnavigate the island. Our first stop you got it! A distillery. Talisker, the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. After the distillery we continue our circumnavigation going clockwise around the Isle. The coast line was beautiful with amazing cliffs. The sky was clear and as blue as could be. From what we heard it was rare to have such a blue sky on Skye. We ended the day at Kilt Rock. Kilt rock is known for the water fall where the water appears to come right out of the cliffs edge and falls into the sea. Dinner that night was salad and smoked salmon bought at the local grocery.

Day 11 Sunday

Today we will be leaving the Isle of Skye, but first a tour by sea. We choose to go out on the MV
Stardust. Seeing the Isle of Skye from the sea gave us a different perspective. The caves in the sides of the cliffs as well as the Sea Eagles nesting on the cliffs edge.

We finished the tour about 1:00 PM and decided to head back towards Glasgow which will be our final destination. "Z" noticed there was a ferry at Ardvasar, which is on the South East corner of the Isle of Skye. Taking this ferry will cut a lot of driving for us as well as allow us to see some sites we had not planned to visit. Not like we had a plan.

While waiting for the ferry, we ran into a family that suggested we stay in Fort Williams for the night.
Fort Williams was a delightful town near the base of Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in all of Scotland. Also home to the Ben Nevis Distillery which we had to visit of course. We also visited the some castles that were more like ruins. What was shocking, is some of these castles had been used and lived in up until the 1960's, just 54 years ago.

Day 12 Monday

After our night in Fort Williams we headed to Oban. Why? you might ask, of course to visit the Oban Distillery. Oban is a village right on the water. One of the original founders of the town hired local stone masons to build a tower at the top of the hill side. The purpose was to make sure that local stone masons always had work. If commercial Raniven Guest House while in Oban. A guest house seems to be an upscale Bed and Breakfast.
work slowed, they could always work on the tower. The tower is called McCaig Tower, it was a splendid walk both up to the tower and down. You could see the entire town from the hill side as well as the harbor. We stayed at the

Day 13 Tuesday

After our day in Oban it was off to the final stage of our trip Glasgow. We rented a great flat in Glasgow on the 14th floor of a newly built high rise. Located on the river only a few blocks from the town center. We arrived late in the day, and needed to stretch our legs. The weather was fantastic, 75
degrees and sunny, unheard of in Glasgow. We walk through town visited the historic cemetery and got the lay of the land. Having an apartment was a huge plus when it came to eating. We visited the local grocery and stocked the kitchen with food for the next few days.

Day 14 Wednesday

After a morning run along the river, we decided we would take the hop on hop off bus tour. This would allow to quickly get a good understanding of Glasgow. Glasgow was far more modern and metropolitan than Edinburgh. Two of the highlights were the Glasgow Botanical Garden and the River Side Museum. I would describe the riverside museum as a transportation museum. They had all
types of exhibits of transportation that was used through out the history of Glasgow.

As nice was the weather was the day before today it was just poured all day. Outside the Museum was an ice cream stand. With the weather the way it was, there were not many people buying ice cream. For us ice cream was the only food worth eating in Scotland, so we had to have some. Tomorrow we would be leaving.

Day 15 Thursday

Heading some where, not sure where!

That is it from Scotland.