Beer of the Week: Anchor Steam X Mas Ale

(By Stephen Magee) One of the oldest and most fashionable traditions is for a brewery to release a special beer for seasonal occasions or special events. Alas most brewers of today just make a nice label or increase the alcohol content and call it a special beer. Since 1972 Anchor Steam has been making a unique beer for the holiday season. Each year the beer is a new recipe and has a new label. Anchor Steam was a brewery in San Francisco that made it's first beer in 1896. Under the current ownership since 1971 when they bottled 200 cases of beer. Back in the Gold rush days and before there was refrigeration on the West coast, beer was made in a tradition called "Steam". There are many theories to this tradition, but no one knows for sure how and why it was called "Steam". It may have been that the early steam ships docked here, it may have been a steam brewing process. I suggest that you buy some of this limited edition beer (on sale from November to mid-January or while supplies last) drink a few and make up your own story as to why it is called "Steam". This beer is not for the timid. It has a rich malty taste, with a good hop bite, and a real spice flavor. Perfect for drinking after a run in the frosty winter air. Want to know more , to see the labels for all the Christmas beers Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season with a few tasty beers. -Peace Stephen


James Brown - R.I.P.

R.I.P. Godfather of soul.


Training Report: Week of Dec. 11-17

I took last Sunday and the first three days of this week off to rest and recover from the end of a long season. I originally intended to take the full week off, but I got restless so I decided to start on my winter base training phase. This week I ran 39 miles in 4 runs, including a tough 14 miler today where I ran 8 miles on horse trails and 6 on a hilly segment of the Rocky River Metro Park bike paths. The plan for the winter is to get in as much Lydiard style long steady distance work as I can handle. Emphasis on steady (i.e. 1:15-1:30 slower than 10K race pace) and not easy jogging. Josh wants me to aim for about 8 hours a week of running with a Sunday long run of 2 hours, which translates to about 60-65 miles a week give or take. I'd really like to be able to handle that because if I'm going to try to make a significant improvement at next year's nationals and in other races in general, I'll need to be able to handle more mileage than I have been doing without breaking down.


The Skids - The Saints Are Coming

Props to U2 for covering this, but the 1978 original by the Skids still blows the new version away. This is a live take from '78 on UK television show Top of the Pops.


Race Report: Masters Cross Country National Championships

Well folks this was the race I had been training for all year and I did really well. Competing against the absolute best runners in the country aged 40 and over, I finished 192nd in a field of about 500. Not too bad for a guy who started running two years ago after a 19 year layoff. I was very happy with my race considering the rough conditions. I ran 39:10 for 10K, which is 6:18 pace, but it honestly felt like I was running faster than when I did 37:27 (6:01 pace) back in November. The course, which consisted of a 2K loop followed by two challenging 4K loops, was super muddy (see photo of me holding up one of my shoes below) due to a very heavy rainstorm the night before and on top of it, the rolling hills throughout the course, as well as the two steep hills and log jumps and various narrow trails, kept everyone honest. Most people seemed to run 2-3 minutes slower than their usual 10K road race times.

I ran a very even paced effort. It didn't get all my splits as I was really focused on the long line of runners ahead of me so I barely looked at my watch. I held back on the first 2K loop, which was pretty flat but very muddy, looping around a horse track, and hit the 2 mile mark in 12:34. At that point I was worried that I was too slow but it 'felt' right. By the time we got to the first big hill near the end of the first 4K loop I knew that I was running smart. People were dying all around me and we had another 4K loop to go. I never got passed by anyone after the first half mile so even at times when I felt like I was moving very slowly, I was passing lines of people, just not accelerating as fast as I would have in a road race. I hit 5 miles in 31:16 (6:15 pace) and remember thinking, damn this feels a lot harder than when I cruised through 5 in the A2 Turkey Trot in 30:09! I was hurting but still thought I had a final gear in me for that last mile, but that last hill and log jumps with about a half to go slowed everyone around me to a crawl and the last 800 was a death march. I nearly threw up on the final straightaway and my wife says my mouth was foaming!

Anyway, most importantly, I went away inspired to train harder next year and maybe even get in the top 50-100! Bring on Cincy 2007!


Way To Go Ohio!

Ohio will be hosting the 2007 Club Nationals Cross Country Championships. This is the same race that I will be doing in San Francisco this coming weekend. Next year's event will be at Voice of America Park in West Chester, OH (near Cincy) on Saturday Dec. 8, 2007. The conditions will probably be pretty cold and brutal but that's what cross country is all about. It will be nice for us Midwesterners to get an edge! Hopefully a full BMLC team will be present in the masters race.


New Beer Mile World Record

Pending certification, it appears that Univ. of Oregon freshman distance star A.J. Acosta has set a new world record in the infamous beer mile with a time of 5:38.9 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. For those not in the know, a beer mile consists of racing an all out mile while chugging a can of beer at the start of each lap. 4 beers, 4 laps, lots of puking. By the way if you puke you get penalized! Acosta's beverage of choice was Budweiser. The 18 year old Acosta broke the previous mark of 5:40 set by 40 year old former New Zealand Olympian Sean Wade, who is now a U.S. citizen and one of the fastest old guy runners on the planet. A quick look at the results from Acosta's race reveals that all but two of the runners were underage! Hmmm. Props to Oregon runner Matt Dettman who opted for Bacardi Silver instead of beer!

Results can be found here:

More info on the Beer Mile can be found at:


Training Summary: November 27 - December 3

I'm in full taper mode now with the masters cross country national championships in San Francisco less than one week away now. This past week I did 36 miles on 5 runs with 2 days off. Highlights were a 12 mile negative split run on Monday and a session of 8 x 400 meter hills at race effort on Thursday. This week will be similar. Today will be a 10 mile negative split run -- it's 20 and windy outside right now so I'm mustering up courage as I write this entry -- and Wednesday will be 3 x 1000 meters at race pace with 200 meter jogs inbetween. Can't wait to get to SF. It's bleak here but will it will be in the 50's and 60's there! Rumor has it next year's national championships will be in Cincy, probably the weekend before Thanksgiving.


The Stands - Here She Comes Again

The Stands are from Liverpool and this gem is from their 2003 debut All Years Leaving. Something about the water there... Beatles, Bunnymen, La's


The Marmalade - I See The Rain

One of the best sixties songs ever and appropriate for the recent weather here in Cleveland!


Beer of the Week: Coal Porter

(By Stephen Magee) A friend of mine returned from the mega crazy beer festival in Denver. I asked what beer most impressed him and his answer was the beer from Atlantic Brewing Company, Located in Bar Harbor Maine, this small brewery started in 1991 and brews only 60 kegs worth of beer a day. The brewery is on an estate that is more like a vineyard than a brewery. With picturesque New England houses and beautiful landscaping, I was wondering how good can this beer be? They have an ambitions goal to be sold in every state east of the Mississippi by the end of 2007. With the high quality and fine taste of the products they brew I am sure this goal could be achieved. Currently they only offer 6 brews, but they put quality and craft into each brew. They have a fun Blueberry Beer, yes blueberry (worth a try in the late spring or summer). My favorite is the Coal Porter. This beer is rich in flavor. When you poor this tasty brew you get a hint of the German chocolate and black malt. The color is a rich dark chocolate with a touch of the fine Belgian lace (head) on top. A very subtle hop flavor is evident in this deep rich porter. Made in small batches and aged 6 months you will be able to wet your whistle and smile after you have one . . . or a few of this tasty brew. Buy a 6 pack today and stoke your boiler against the cold winter months. If your a Stout fan run to the store and get some today!


Training Summary: November 20-26

San Francisco is only a couple of weeks away now so I've started to taper a little. Did 39 miles last week. I meant to do 45 but I ended up taking two days off and Thursday I only ran 3 miles because I was really sore from Wednesday's session, which was the key workout for last week. In that workout, I ran 8 x 800 with 200 meter jogs and averaged 2:51 per rep. The jogs were all in 6o seconds more or less. After the last rep I even did a brisk 200 meter jog to make the workout total 8K exactly. My total time with reps and rest breaks was 30:51. Not too shabby. The key was that I was able to start at 2:55 on the reps and get progressively faster, working my way down to 2:48 for the final one. My other workouts of note were a 14 miler at 7:24 pace on Monday and a 7.5 mile progression run in XC spikes on a grass loop on Saturday.


Ever Get The Feeling You've Been Cheated?

That was Johnny Rotten's famous quote before walking off the stage in disgust after the Sex Pistols' final gig in San Francisco in 1978. It also sums up how I feel about working in rock 'n' roll these days. Rock 'n' roll has been the main focus of my life for the last 22 years and I honestly feel like it's mostly been a waste of time. Up until a few years ago I was making my entire living off of it -- my own record label, working for another label, my own PR company, DJing, freelance writing -- and loving it. Now I'm hastily trying to get out of it as fast as possible. I've been selling, giving away, and even throwing away large chunks of my CD, record and music magazine collection and just trying to be normal. The idea of being the old geek who still collects stuff has scared me shitless. Sometimes I'm saved, like last night when "In The City" by The Jam came on at the bar I was at and I could feel goosebumps, but mostly it's just depressing. I've stopped wanting to see concerts unless it's a band on Elephant Stone and I just turned in the last pieces of rock 'n' roll criticism I will ever write to The Big Takeover and Skyscraper. I retired from DJing last year and just shelved my PR company as I continue to take on more and more hours at my straight job. Ironically enough, one of the articles I wrote for Skyscraper was a review of Jesus and Mary Chain reissues. The JAMC's 1985 debut Pscyhocandy totally blew me away and made me want to do more than just be a music fan. Now, ALL I want to do is be a music fan and never have to deal with bands, editors, and club owners. The famous British DJ John Peel said that he made a point about not wanting to meet any of his favorite bands, and you know what, he was right. I guess part of this is that I turned 40 two years ago and my focus changed from wanting to be 'cool' to wanting to be reasonably well off. There's a fine line between being a cool hipster and being a fucking joke and I feel like I had been leaning more toward the latter. As far as the current scene goes, I just don't 'get it' any more. Rock 'n' roll used to be glamorous and mysterious -- now all the 'hip' indie bands are fat, ugly, regular people like the Decemberists, Black Angels, and Death Cab For Cutie. Iggy Pop didn't bleed so Death Cab For Cutie could make enough money to buy a donut factory. The only stake I've got left in the rock 'n' roll game is Elephant Stone and my interest in that is waning fast. Maybe this is all natural. Rock 'n' roll was always supposed to be a young man's game. My favorite '60s music writer Nik Cohn retired from music writing in his early 20's because he thought he was too old! So perhaps it's high time that I become a fully functioning adult. Better to burn out than fade away...


Beer of the Week: Bell's Hopslam

(By John Voorhees) Hopslam from Bell's is simply amazing! Bell's recently pulled out of Illinois, where I live, over a dispute with its distributor. As a huge fan of Bell's Two Hearted Ale and other beers, I was heartbroken. Fortunately, I make frequent trips back to my home state of Michigan (Go Wolverines!) and have plenty of opportunities to stock up. Two weekends ago I was in Ann Arbor for the annual Tortoise & Hare 10K/5K with Ben and others. I took the chance to stock up on Bell's and some winter running gear. When I got to the store, I was pleasantly surprised to find every Bell's beer available waiting for me. Among others, I bought a 6 pack of Hopslam, which will set you back a steep $13.50. I've got to say though, that it is worth every penny. Released on October 20, 2006, Hopslam is not long for this world. According to Bell's website, just one batch of this incredible brew was made. A double hopped IPA, Hopslam starts with a strong citrus flavor and ends with a great bitter hoppy bite. If you can still find this brew, go for it. I know I'll be looking for it the next time in Michigan.


Training Summary: November 13-19

Another image from my 10K race last weekend. As you can see, it was a very scenic course. This past week I got some good recovery from the race but I also got in some good quality work -- can't ease back too much you know. Ran 49 miles with two key workouts: a 12 miler @ 7:06 pace (last six @ 6:52) on Thursday and an 8K tempo run on the track in my cross country spikes on Saturday in a very relaxed 31:16. I started at 6:33 and ran each mile 8-10 seconds faster than the one prior, finishing in 5:58. The spikes feel really good! Feeling really good as I enter my final sharpening phase for SF.


Jesus and Mary Chain "Teenage Lust"

I had no idea they ever made a video for this! It's borderline pornographic so I'm guessing it never got aired! In any case, one of the JAMC's finer moments...


The Chameleons "Monkeyland"

Epic post-punk rock 'n' roll. "Monkeyland" is from The Chameleons' 1983 debut album Script of the Bridge.


Race Report: Iron Turkey

I have to admit that I was pretty nervous all fall when my coach Josh Scully penciled in this event on my training schedule. The Iron Turkey is part of the Ann Arbor, Mich. Turkey Trot and it involves running a 10K race at 10:00am followed by a 5K race at 11:30 -- two long races with less than an hour for recovery. The weather was cold but pretty ideal. Maybe just slightly too windy, but us runners always complain about something! I opted to wear shorts though a lot of people went with compression tights. I also wore a long sleeve compression top underneath my BMLC singlet, as well as a hat and gloves. Felt like I was back in high school running cross country! Josh advised me to go out really slow for the first mile and pick up the pace gradually and finish strong but leave something in the tank for the second race. I made sure not to line up in the front and when the gun went off I went out at what felt like 6:30 pace. Tons of people shot out like crazy but within a few minutes I was passing lots of them who were already breathing heavily as I was only just starting to warm up! I hit the mile in 6:19 and was shocked at how easy that felt. I accelerated just slightly and was again shocked to hit 2 miles in 12:23. This was going to be one of those days! As the course was a loop in the Hudson Mills Metro Park, I got a lot of support from my wife and BMLC teammates John Voorhees and Mike Dubin who cheered for me at different spots. I remember waving to Bella and Mike as I cruised through the 3 mile mark in 18:22 (5:59 for mile 3!). They thought that was pretty funny. At this point the field was pretty strung out so I would just focus on people who were fading and run as fast but relaxed as possible to real them in. Between miles 3 and 4 I was in no man's land with two guys very far ahead of me but coming back to me fast. I hit mile 4 in 21:19 (5:57) and I could really see those guys were hurting so I pushed maybe a little harder than I should have (considering I had another race to do) between 4 and 5 to reel them in. Mile 5 was a blazing (for me!) 5:50 as I hit the 5 mile mark in 30:09, besting my Masters 5 mile PR by 6 seconds with one more mile and one more race still to do! My best 8K at Allen Park earlier this year was 30:07 and that also converts to 30:15 so that means I was more or less around 30:00 at 8K in this race. Just after the 5 mile mark I caught the first of the two guys who looked like he was in my age group. He was hurting bad and I knew he was toast. Turned out he was in my age group and finished second in 40-44 to me. The younger guy ahead of me still had something in the tank as I caught up to him with about 800 to go. I passed him but he went with me and we hit the 6 mile mark in 36:01 (5:52 for mile 6). He threw in a hard surge there and if I were just doing the 10K I would have gone with him and tried to outkick him but now I had to employ some strategy like a Tour de France cyclist and save myself for the final stage. I eased back and cruised in at 37:27 for an overall pace of 6:01 per mile. Most impressively I was 29:45 for the 5 miles from mile 2-6.

But now came the interesting part. I was definitely tired though not totally trashed as I didn't go full throttle in the last half-mile like I would have if this had been my only race. I immediately drank a lot of water, ate a banana got on my sweats and even had half a cup of coffee. I went inside the metro park clubhouse and just tried to stay warm and stretch. About 15 minutes before the race I did some easy strides to try to get the blood flowing again. For the 5K I opted to wear compression tights under my shorts (like Kobe!) as my left calf muscle was kind of tender. It had been bugging me slightly in the second half of the 10K. Again I lined up a little off the front row as the 5K had lots of fast college and high school kids who hadn't run in the 10K. The gun went off and everyone shot out like a bat out of hell. I tried to run at the same pace I was at in the middle of the 10K and felt pretty good. My body was sore and tired and I was feeling mentally lazy but felt strong in the lungs. I knew this race would be a case of mind over matter! I hit the first mile in 6:04 and that gave me the confidence that I would finish OK. Lots of people who started fast were dying so I had a lot to focus on as I tried to maintain pace. I hit the 2 mile mark in 11:58 (5:54) and still felt good. I didn't feel like I could blast a 5:40 or anything but felt like I could maintain, which I did. I didn't catch my split at 3 miles as I was focusing on the finish line and didn't look at my watch but I kicked it home in 18:28, which means I was probably about 17:50 for 3, which means about 5:52.

After that race I was trash but mentally I felt like a million bucks for running up to my full potential in both races. There was nothing I would have changed about either race. I was especially pleased with how smooth the 10K felt. The 37:27 is a masters PR for 10K as is the 30:09 enroute. This week will be all distance running as I recover from the Iron Turkey and refuel for San Francisco!


The December Sound

(Parts of this write up are from a review I wrote for the forthcoming issue of The Big Takeover magazine). Boston's December Sound are perhaps the best unsigned band on the planet right now. Their latest effort, the "Kill Me" EP is their best release yet. The monstrous title track alone is well worth the price of admission, a six-minute wig out that blends the best of Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR-era Primal Scream, The Jesus & Mary Chain circa Honey's Dead, and the trippier elements of The Verve. And speaking of the JAMC, the last track on this all-too-brief disc is an excellent cover of "Reverence," which is even more frenzied than the original! The other two tunes here are the Slowdive-ish "Reminder" and the high-octane Stooges-styled rocker "Maker. " Like London's People's Revolutionary Choir who I raved about awhile back on this blog, The December Sound are giving psychedelic rock 'n' roll a kick in the teeth that was last evident in the early '90s when British bands like Ride, JAMC, Adorable, Swervedriver etc. put out all those legendary records. And any band that poses with a badass boombox and parkas is alright with me!


Vote or Die

More election fun from South Park!


You're a turd sandwich

Funny how South Park mirrors real life. This snippet from the episode where a douche and turd sandwich campaigned for school mascot sums up how I feel about most politicians these days. Who did you vote for yesterday? The douche or the turd sandwich?


New Spikes! Nike Zoom Miler XC

Decided to bite the bullet and buy some spikes for the Masters XC Nationals race in San Francisco in December. Us old guys need any edge we can get! I haven't raced in spikes since like my freshman year of college but when I tried these on at Second Sole in Rocky River yesterday, they felt fantastic. Lightweight but super comfortable and cushioned. The course at SF is supposed to be a combo of grass and dirt so I could use the extra traction. Now my resolution for next year is to find as many track and XC races as possible so I can race in these more than once a year at XC nationals. I really dig the badass black/red/white color scheme too.


Training Summary: October 30 - November 5

50.5 miles with one day off. Had some really good quality sessions, namely a 16 mile run (half of it on trails) on Monday and my best interval session of the fall on Wednesday. I did 5 x 1.5 miles with only 60 seconds rest between each rep and averaged 9:09 (6:06 per mile pace). On Saturday I did 10 hill reps on a really steep 250 meter incline. Glad that this week will be pretty easy so I have time to get rid of the aches and pains and be ready to roll at the Iron Turkey races in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Sunday. I'll be running a 10K race at 10am followed by a 5K race at 11:30. Results are compiled by adding up your times from both races.


Beer of the Week: Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA

By Stephen Magee:
If you take the trip across Michigan on I-96 heading west you will end up in Grand Rapids Michigan. The home of President Ford, the Fish Ladder, and Founders Brewery. Since 1997 this brewer has been making some excellent beer. This week we tasted the “Devil Dancer” the most complex beer they brew. Available quarterly and aged for at least one year in the cellar. At 13% ABV and 112 IBU’s this is a beer not for the faint of heart. When you pour a glass you will notice the thick cloudy red color and smell the hops. A beer to be savored in a bell shaped glass. Founders’ uses 10 different varieties of hops and the dry hops for 26 days (dry hop is a post brewing hop addition (after the wort has been cooled) cold hopping or raw hopping). When you raise this beverage to your lips you will taste complex hops and a very smooth finish, but still detect a bite of hop ester. This brew is rich in texture and has a huge malty taste. If you enjoy a good IPA try this one on for size and let me know what you think. Try some of the other founders’ brews, you will enjoy the beer and the time spent acquiring the drink. I found them to be the best brewer at the Michigan Beer festival 2006. A four pack of “Devil Dancer will run $11 to $13.


Training Summary: October 23-29

Kind of a down week with two really good workouts bookending it. Ran 41 miles with one off day. Was a bit under the weather mid-week so I took a day off and had three recovery days where I just did 5 mile easy runs. Key workouts were a 12 miler at 6:59 pace (6:49 pace for the second six miles) on Monday before I got run down and an 8K tempo run on the track on Saturday in 30:57 when I got my groove back. That workout went especially well as it was 40 degrees and pouring rain with 30mph winds when I did it. I started slow at 6:31 and worked my way down until I hit the last 2 miles in 6:03 and 5:45. Back on track and ready to roll!


Ultra Vivid Scene - Mercy Seat

Hard to believe that this came out in 1988 -- sounds so much better than anything out now. UVS were vastly underrated.


BMLC Website is Launched

If forming an old guy running team wasn't goofy enough, the BMLC track club has taken the next step and set up a website. You can visit us at where you will find profiles of most of the team -- hopefully the other guys will get around to submitting theirs now that we're public -- as well as entries in our Black and Blue log, named after our team colors and the fact that someone always seems to be injured. Thanks to John Voorhees for taking time off his busy work, family, running, and beer drinking schedule to get this baby launched!


The Only Ones - Another Girl Another Planet Music Video

Never mind the shitty Blink 182 cover version of this song. This is the 1978 original by the criminally underrated Only Ones, who released three fantastic albums in their all too brief career. The band's entire back catalogue is compiled on the 2-CD set "Why Don't You Kill Yourself?" Dig the badass graphics here too -- never mind all those fancy film editing programs available today. Old school still rules!


The Saints - (I'm) Stranded

Vintage 1976 Australian punk rock! Their first two albums are mindblowing and their later stuff ain't bad either.


Beer of the Week: Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

By BMLC teammate John Voorhees (yes, BMLC is a drinking team with a running problem!):

Like Stephen Magee, I'm a big fan of Dogfish Head beers. Stephen has covered some of my favorites and for my money, the 60 and 90 Minute IPAs are two of the best beers around. But as I sit here this evening, I'm really enjoying another one of Dogfish Head's beers - Indian Brown Ale. Indian Brown is a great beer for a cool Fall day. Each bottle is like digging into a fresh loaf of pumpernickel bread - it has a rich, molassaasy flavor that reminds me of running a cross country race in a cold, wet park. Made with Liberty and Goldings hops and a dose of carmelized brown sugar, Indian Brown is a great complimewnt to ribs and a football game. Go Bears!


Training Summary: October 16-22

Another kickass mileage week. 55.5 miles in 6 days with some beastly workouts, including a 16 miler on Monday where I ran 8 miles on the Rocky River Metro Parks bike paths and 8 miles on the horse trails in Mastick Woods. Wednesday I did 7 x mile repeats with only 60 seconds rest between each rep and averaged 6:05 with my last 3 sub 6:00 (final one in 5:48). Thursday I did 8 miles on grass (that is the running surface -- I haven't toked up in close to 2 years!) and Saturday 10.5 miles hard on the horse trails again. I'm getting in really good shape now and can't wait for the Iron Turkey races in November and of course, the cross country national championships in December.


Rock 'n' Roll Runner Meets Ultramarathon Man

I was emailing with my BMLC teammate John Voorhees early on Friday morning and joked with him that maybe I would run into Dean Karnazes on my morning run as he was running the Cleveland Marathon course as part of his 50 'thons in 50 days stunt (see I live on Lake Avenue which is part of the course and on my way out I see this procession of cops, followed by Dean and an entourage. I waved at them and they were all yelling at me to join them. I was half way tempted but the next part of the course would have taken me on the Shoreway for 3 or 4 miles (basically a freeway) and I would have ended up downtown with a long way to go home! And it's not like one of Cleveland's finest would have escorted me home!


Beer of the Week: Pumpkin Update!

I just posted Stephen's review a few minutes ago and realized that I had bought a large bottle of Southampton Pumpkin Ale the other day, so continuing the Halloween theme, I decided to crack it open and write a review while drinking it. My first thoughts after a few sips are that this is very smooth and it has a really nice nutmeg kick and more of an aroma than some of the other pumpkin ales that I have tried. While not as strong as the Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale, which I tried on Stephen's recommendation and loved, it's definitely enjoyable. Not as "pumpkiny" as most pumpkin ales I've tasted but pretty nice nonetheless.


Beer of the Week: Pumpkin Ale Taste Test!

BMLC teammate Stephen Magee took a Pumpkin Ale taste test. Here are the results:

Many say I am just a Dogfish honk. So I had several friends over for a blind beer tasting. I harvested 4 pumpkin beers (I have already reviewed Dogfish Head Punkin Ale), here is the combined review of the three others. First we have an entry from New Holland Brewery "Ichabod". This beer had great artwork on a very nice 6 pack with a flowery and detailed description. Yet that is the best thing I can say about the beer. All tasters complained about the weak color and lack of any flavor. This one hit the drain and was never finished. I recommend you look at the 6-pack and keep walking, don't look back. The next entry was from Blue Moon Brewing Company controlled by Molson/Coors "Pumpkin Ale". This brew was pleasing to look at and had a slight sweet aroma, but not much taste. It was similar to any American Lager and the words "Ale Brewed with Natural Pumpkin Flavor" did not inspire the masses to flock to this beverage. My pal Andy claimed he could taste New Jersey (where all food additives are created in labs) in this beer and that fact that is was bottled in February made me wonder if it would work as anti-freeze in my car this winter? If you like American Lager and want to some off some seasonal brew you could sever this one. The last entry is from Michigan Brewing Company "Screaming Pumpkin Spiced Ale". This beer had a nice amber color and a STRONG smell of cloves and All-Spice. With one swig you can understand why this is called screaming, very spicy and full of flavor. The finish is a bit strong may be too much for some. Worth a glass or two, this beer is your mother's pumpkin pie after your kid sister dropped in extra spice, pie on steroids! The only one of the batch I can recommend. All beers listed here come in a 6-pack and retail between $7.99 and $9.99. Spice is the variety of life, you have to open a few skunks to get a gem.


Training Summary: October 9-15

54.5 miles in 6 days with one much needed rest day. That makes 10 weeks in a row averaging 53 miles a week. Last week's training included a 16 mile run on Monday and a really tough interval session on Wednesday, where I ran 4 x 2 mile with 2:00 rest between each rep in 12:47, 12:33, 12:11, and 11:54 for an average of 12:21. Doing workouts like that as cutdowns (i.e. running each rep faster than the one before) is a great strength builder. You start out at a managable pace but the short rest begins to catch up with you after a while and it gets tough going at the end. A great race simulator. My other 'key' workout of the week was a hard 8 mile run on dirt trails on Saturday. Everything else was relatively easy aerobic work.


The People's Revolutionary Choir

The two best new bands I've heard this year are The December Sound from Boston (more about them soon) and The People's Revolutionary Choir from London. PRC have only one release to date, the fantastic single "Elevate". "Elevate" is staggering -- channeling everything that was ever cool about Spacemen 3, The Stooges and The Jesus and Mary Chain (and even a little bit of early U2) into three minutes of druggy bliss. The flip side "Salvation Blues" is a trippy slide guitar-based instrumental, while the CD version of the single has a third track entitled "Feel So Good," which has a similar rockin' vibe to "Elevate." Jim Reid and Ben Lurie from the Jesus and Mary Chain are big PRC fans, producing early demos for the band and rumor has it that Bobby Gillespie, Kate Moss and the lads from Kasabian have atttended gigs.

Check out the band's website at:

And listen to "Elevate" over and over again on their MySpace page:


I Hate Rock 'n' Roll...

For every good band I work with I get about 50 emails a day from douche bags like these guys looking for a deal. Gee, wonder why no one signed 'em yet? To paraphrase The Who, "The Kids are all wrong."


Training Summary: October 2-8

A bit slow posting this update, but last week I ran 53 miles and had some pretty good quality workouts. Highlights were a negative split 12 miler on Monday where I did the second 6 miles @ 6:54 pace; a session of 10 x 800 meters @ 2:59 with 30 seconds rest between each rep on Wednesday; and 10 x 400 meter hill repetitions on Saturday. Overall, a good week of cross country specific training.


Beer of the Week: Lion Stout

BMLC teammate Stephen Magee comes through with another great beer review: If you think of great Stout you seldom or never think of India. Well hold onto your beer-loving belly and take the trip to Sri Lanka. This brew will change your mind. Lion Stout pack’s a good punch with 8% ABV and a soft taste that is not too heavy. It is bottle conditioned and top fermenting this yields a smooth finish to an exceptional beer. Full of a Mocha and Chocolate flavor this beer will not be the same old stout you have had at the bar each trip. Instead it will open your mind to what a solid beer can be. This beer pours black has a reasonable tan head (a thing of beauty). It starts out sweet and malty, but finishes strong and masks the alcohol well. This beer is brewed to withstand the tropical climate, so it can stand up to you. Don’t trust me? Take a bottle to task and you will be a happy lad.


Jesus & Mary Chain - Rollercoaster

Just because I always thought this song was badass and I've been listening to Honey's Dead a lot lately.


Beer of the Week: Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale

My BMLC teammate Stephen Magee is quite possibly the greatest Dogfish Head fan in the world so he's kindly volunteered to review a few of their finest ales in the coming weeks. This week's entry is the Punkin' Ale, which I'll definitely vouch for! Here's Stephen now:

Love the pumpkin pie that the fall season brings? If you are like me your mom made it with some spice and you had to have it with ice cream. Well each fall Dogfish Head releases another off the hook beer made from pumpkins and it will tingle your tongue. Most seasonal releases from your average brewer may leave your mouth board out of its gourd. This brew will wake up your mouth and treat you to a flavor fest. The smooth rich brew washes down cold without the need for ice cream. At first sip it may taste like any other pumpkin brew. On second sip you get a taste of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and brown sugar. This beer is brewed with real pumpkins and hops. Sold in a four pack this can run $12.00 if you get it on seasonal special $8.99. I have sampled several other pumpkin ales and this one has more flavor and body that the others, not for the Bud or Miller palate, but people who enjoy a good beer will ask for more. This beer is not one that ages as well as others so get some and drink it up. I have had a bottle last 6 months, but after that you may be wasting the beverage. Best to get some and you will treat not trick your taste buds and the buds of all your friends. As one bottle of Dogfish Head (Burton Barton) say’s “Please share it with loved ones and hoard it from the non-believers”!


Training Summary: September 25-October 1

Really solid week of training, especially after a tough race last weekend. Managed 55 miles on 7 workouts. Highlights included a 16 miler @ 7:28 pace on Tuesday and a session of 20 x 400 in 87 (5:48 per mile pace) with 30 seconds rest between each rep on Friday. Really pleased with the 400s as the pace felt very smooth and relaxed and the rest was minimal. Got super drenched as the rain was pretty rough but bad weather builds character. Gives me a confidence boost when I'm working out in the rain or in the dead of winter and I don't see anyone else out and about. This week I have three key workouts planned: a negative split 12 miler on Monday, 12 x 800 with 30 seconds rest between each rep on Thursday, and hill reps on Saturday.


Run Like Hell

Trailer for forthcoming documentary on badass US Olympian Anthony 'Fam' Famiglietti.


Training Summary: September 18-24

I gave a pretty detailed race report below so I'll keep this brief. Ran 52 miles for the week, which is probably about 20 miles more than I've done the week of a race since I started my masters career. Really impressed with the way I'm handling the increased workload. Highlights for the week were a 14 miler on Monday, an 8 mile progression run in pouring rain and 45 degrees on Wednesday, and, of course, the race.


Race Report: Cleveland Heroes Run 5 Mile

This race was advertised as Cleveland's hilliest 5 miler, and for good reason, the half mile climb from 3.5 to 4.0 alone was an absolute killer. Top that off with some rollercoaster hills between 1.5 and 2.0 and a steep downhill just before the mile mark and it was like a cross country race on pavement. I ended up running 30:27 for 13th overall, and 4th in 40-44. Really happy with my race. My time was only about 10 seconds slower than my masters PR if you convert the 30:07 8K I ran in August to a full 5 miles. That course was pancake flat so I feel like this effort was much better! My splits were:

Mile 1 - 6:12 - first mile was flat for about 3/4, followed by a steep 1/4 mile downhill. Held WAY back at this stage as kids and bodybuilder types gunned passed me. It's amazing how so many people sprint like crazy at the start of races and are virtually walking after 5 or 10 minutes! Gotta pace yourself folks!

Mile 2 - 12:15 (6:03) - this mile had a series of rolling hills. I kept a nice groove going and passed people going uphill and let them sprint past me downhill.

Mile 3 - 18:15 (6:00) - flat. Kept it smooth holding back for the monster hill that I knew was coming up at 3.5

Mile 4 - 24:45 (6:30) - No that's not a typo! The half mile climb here was unreal. Caught 5 people on this hill. Felt like I was running in sand towards the end of the hill. What a relief it was to make it to the top.

Mile 5 - 30:27 (5:42) -- Had a lot left in the last mile from being conservative in the early stages and was able to push really hard. Was gaining on a couple of people ahead of me, but I ran out of time.

All and all this was probably my best and smartest paced race of the year. Especially pleased with the fast final mile and the fact that I trained through this week to some extent, hitting 52 miles, which gives me 7 weeks in a row averaging over 50 after running more like 35 a week earlier this year.


Training Summary: September 11-17

Week 6 of my build up to Cross Country Nationals in San Francisco went really well. 12 more to go! These past 6 weeks I've averaged 53 miles a week and have managed to run some really solid strength workouts. I'm feeling really good too even with the mileage increase (prior to August I was averaging more like 35 a week). Last week I brought it down to 46 after two weeks at 62 and 59. Josh wanted me to be fresh for two key workouts: a negative split 12 mile run on Tuesday and a quality hill session on Friday. Both workouts were spot on. I averaged 7:01 pace for the 12 miler (about 1:00 per mile slower than current 10K race pace), doing the first 6 at 7:15 pace and the last 6 at 6:45 pace, finishing in 6:38, 6:31 -- felt great. Two days later I did 10 repetitions of a pretty tough 400 meter hill running them at race pace with easy jogs down the hill for recovery. This week the focus will be on mileage with my first race in nearly two months taking place on Sunday, Sept. 24. The race is a 5 miler on a pretty tough hilly course. I'm not going to taper as the focus is on Decmeber but I expect to run pretty well just the same.


Guinness is Good For You!

Posing with my wife Arabella at her art opening in Cincy last weekend while making a product placement plug for my favorite beverage!


The Rifles - Local Boy

The Rifles -- Best New UK Band? I think so! Totally reminds me of seminal Brit groups like The Jam and The Clash. Debut album is out in the UK, but no US street date yet.


Training Summary: September 4-10

Another solid high mileage week for me. After last week's 62, I followed up with 59 miles in 6 days. I began the week with a super hilly 11 mile run in Dana Point, California on Labor Day and finished the week with a hilly 16 miler in Cincinnati on Saturday with my BMLC teammate Rob Cherry, who is training for the Columbus Marathon in mid-October. Sunday was my first day off in 2 weeks! In-between the two hill runs that bookended my week, I had a fantastic strength workout on Wednesday where I ran 3 x 2 miles with 2:00 rest going 12:39, 12:10 and 12:02. After an easy start on the first rep, I really got into a good zone on the last two and finished feeling like I had a lot more in the tank. My coach Josh has been having me hold back a little in interval workouts so that I finish feeling like I could do a little more if I were so inclined. Looking forward to getting back to racing in October! This week I'm bringing my mileage down to 45 or so and focusing on two quality workouts -- a quick 12 miler tomorrow and hill reps on Friday. The rest of the week will be easy 5 mile recovery runs.


Beer of the Week: Raison D’Être

I've recently been in touch with another old high school teammate, Stephen Magee, who is now the latest BMLC member. Stephen has been tearing it up in the triathlon lately and is also training for the Grand Rapids Marathon in late October and will be running the masters club cross country nationals with us in 2007. Like all of us, he loves his beer, in particular anything from the awesome Dogfish Head brewery. Here's his report:

Way back in 1995 if you wanted to start a Micro-Brewery why would you choose a state that had laws prohibiting this enterprise? That is exactly what Sam Calagione did! Now Dogfish Head is the fastest growing craft brewery in the country. Last year they were able to meet 15% of the orders from distributors. While many of the beers they offer are for the experienced palate only. You will find many gems in the variety of Ale that they craft. The legendary IPA’s 60 minute, 90 minute, and the mouth exploding 120 minute (the IPA 90 is the best beer in America two years running,, IPA 60 is the second best beer in America, Men’s Journal October 2006). Some beers at Dogfish Head are only brewed once a year and have limited releases. Others you can find year round if you live in a state that they supply. I am lucky that Michigan is one such state. I have chosen a less renowned brew the “Raison D’Être” translated “reason to live” or “Reason to Be”. This is also a play on words as the beer is brewed from green raisins. The slogan at Dogfish Head is “Off-centered Ales for off-centered people” and they back it up with only the best ingredients, combined with a crazy let’s make great beer ingenuity. All the beers have increase Alcohol and increase price, but you will find the money spent and well worth the taste. The World Wide stout was the first beer brewed that was over 18% abv. In 1998.

First you need the correct glass; don’t even think of drinking this one from a bottle. A bell shaped glass is most preferred, but a snifter will do. Raison D’Être is a Belgian style ale that once opened and poured will delight you. First you will notice the deep amber and caramel color and the fruity aromatic nose. Once tasted this beer will coat your tongue with a sweet and robust flavor and roll down the back of your throat without a burn. Leaving you only wanting more. The second sip will taste even better. You will note the deep rich mahogany taste that comes from the beet sugar and the raisins. In the spirit of a true Belgian beer this one will not leave you disappointed at the $10.00+ that left your wallet for the 6-pack. Even for a novice beer drinker this brew will be a welcome change from the tried and true path. There is only a pleasant after taste and no heavy taste that can often be left by stronger ale. Smooth to the last drop and often not finished until a second bottle has been dispatched down your gullet. I recommend you try this brew with a close friend of the opposite sex and an elegant meal. Please serve with steak, duck, wild game, or even mussels. This beer does age well and can be enjoyed year long, but why wait? Raison D’Être has a twin that will really kick your booty Raison D’Extra brewed with brown sugar and even more raisins this beer clocks in well over 18% abv and 41 ibu. When you can find a bottle it will run $10-14 each and can be shared and sipped with several friends. Please first test them on the Raison D’Être to make sure they are worth of the extreme brew.

If you want more information please contact myself or If you can’t get any where you live there are now several internet sites that will ship beer and wine to your home. But, don’t worry Dogfish Head is expanding and will have increase brewing capacity by 2007.


Training Summary: August 27-September 3

Ran my best mileage week ever as a masters runner last week, 62 miles in 7 days. It was a pretty standard week workout wise, basically a lot of running! Highlights included a solid 14 miler on Monday and a pretty brutal session of hill repeats on Thursday, which consisted of 5 reps up a 650 meter hill with jogs down for rest. Was in Dana Point, California this past weekend and did some pretty tough runs in the hills there, including an 8 mile progression run on Saturday. Some serious hill climbing for sure!


Milkshake Don't Like The Sitch No More!


Primal Scream - Riot City Blues

Some people have been slamming this record for being too retro, but what's not too retro these days? Primal Scream have always worn their influences on their sleeves but somehow have made themselves sound vibrant almost all of the time with the exception of the subpar Evil Heat from a few years ago. Riot City Blues is a classic '70s-themed rock 'n' roll record and by that I mean the good stuff like The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Mott The Hoople. One of the bonus tracks is a punked up cover of Lennon's stone classic "Gimme Some Truth," which holds it's own with the Generation X version. My favorite song on here is the slow burning "When The Bomb Drops," featuring some mesmerizing guest guitar work from Will Sergeant of Echo and The Bunnymen. Quite similar feel to the 13th Floor Elevators' '60s psych classic "Rollercoaster" though not as obvious as the live version on You Tube which I posted a few months ago. Another great track is "Country Girl," which is the best Rolling Stones song since the Stones stopped making good records about 30 years ago. With so much wussy indie rock around these days it's nice to have a great big sounding rawk record to blast out of my speakers!


Training Summary: August 21-27

BMLC is now an official USATF-certified track club and I have the framed evidence to prove it! As for training this past week, I managed 55 miles in 6 days with one rest day. Highlights included a 16 miler at 7:35 pace on Monday; a session of 4 x 1.5 miles with 90 seconds rest @ 15K race effort on Wednesday, averaging 9:21 for each rep (6:14 per mile pace); and an 8 mile progression run on Saturday in 54:51 where I started slow at 7:24 and built up until I did the last 4 in 6:44, 6:38, 6:36, 6:28. Feeling really strong and adjusting well to the higher mileage I have been doing. Next week should be about the same mileagewise though instead of intervals I'll be doing hill reps.


Kasabian - Empire

New single from Kasabian, one of the few current groups worth bothering about these days.


Speedway Stout: Part Deux

Just an update from my beer review from a few days ago. Ended up finding a place in Cleveland that carries Speedway Stout and it was every bit as great as I remembered it being! It's definitely a sipping beer but it will have you nicely buzzed without giving your bladder a serious workout. If you're a fan of Guinness and stouts in general, you'll like Speedway.

I realize I haven't been writing much about rock 'n' roll lately but that's because must of what I've been hearing lately sucks. I am going to buy the new Primal Scream CD this weekend though and based on the three or four songs I've already heard it should be one of the albums of the year. The new Kasabian single "Empire" is really cool too and the album will be out in September.


Training Summary: August 14-20

Another really good week on the road to San Francisco. Did 49 miles in 6 days last week. Highlights included a 12 miler at 7:23 pace on Monday and an 8 mile run with the middle 4 alternating race pace for 6o seconds with easy pace for 30 seconds on Thursday. Managed to get in 18 sets of 60/30. Felt really smooth. This week the intensity will be bumped up a little bit with 4 x 1.5 miles at slightly slower than 10K pace planned for Wednesday and an 8 mile progression run planned for Saturday. Today I did 16 miles at 7:35 pace so I'm off to a good start. 16 weeks to SF! Looking to get just over 50 miles for the week.


Beer of the Week: Speedway Stout

I've slacked a little on this feature where I ask friends to nominate a favorite beer -- preferably a little off the beaten track -- so I'll step in and recommend something that will knock you off your ass. I've only had Speedway Stout once, at a party hosted by my friend Tim Harnett at his infamous London Underground-themed basement bar. I was talking to a guy there and mentioned that I liked stouts such as Guinness. He poured me a glass and pretty much told me to be prepared to be amazed. If you've ever had Coke syrup, this was like Guinness syrup. Definitely something to sip and enjoy like a nice cup of coffee, which by the way is an ingredient, along with chocolate! "Pounds and pounds of coffee added during conditioning for a little extra kick!" proclaims the website. Couldn't agree more! 12% alcohol -- not for the meek. Writing this made me realize that I need to search out a speciality store to buy one of their champagne-sized bottles or two immediately!


Training Summary: August 7-13

After completing my summer racing season with a 30:07 8K in Allen Park on August 5th, I started my 18 week buildup to the masters cross country nationals in San Francisco in December. Last week, I ran 46 miles in 6 days. Mainly pretty easy distance running with two harder workouts: a 12 miler at 7:30 pace on Tuesday and some hill repetitions on Friday. I hadn't done hills since the spring, but I felt better than ever running 8 reps at race pace on a fairly steep 400 meter hill with easy jogs down for recovery. I'm feeling really fit and if I can hold my mileage at 45-50 in the coming months, good things will happen. 17 weeks to go!


Asics cross country ad campaign! Cool or what?


Is Mizuno the new Nike?

Back in the early '80s in my first life as a runner, Nike was by far my favorite shoe. They were a newish rebel company and I dug their stuff way more than their rivals. I loved some of their classic racing flats like the Oregon Waffle (later Waffle Racer) for cross country as well as road flats like the American Eagle and the Mariah. Not to mention the Internationalist training flat -- I went through numerous pairs of those. When I started up again in the second half of 2004 after my lengthy hiatus, naturally I went with Nike first. Didn't quite gel with the Pegasus or Air Max Moto, but I did enjoy two pairs of the Zoom Elite, until one of the friendly employees of Second Sole in Rocky River suggested I try the Mizuno Elixir. I like lightweight trainers and the Elixir is unbelievable. Almost like a racing flat but with enough cushion to use as an everyday shoe. The other week I decided to get a new pair of racing flats and I tried on the Mizuno Idaten (photo on the left) and was blown away. I bought them and I wore them in my most recent race. They're lighter and more flexible than the Nike racing flats I had been using and they also have more cushion, which is important to us old guys. Check out their website at:


Great race!

Ran really well in my 8K (5 miles) race in Allen Park, Michigan on Saturday. Despite it being a night race, it was still 85 and humid when the gun went off. Nevertheless I ran what I think was my best effort of the year thus far when you factor in the conditions. I clocked a 30:07.6 (just over 6:00 per mile pace) and was 23rd overall and 4th in the 40-44 age group in probably the deepest race I've run in this year. Can't think of a thing I would have changed. My BMLC teammate Tom and I ran really smart races. We worked together for the first half of the race, hitting 6:11 for the mile and 12:15 for two miles before picking it up a bit in the last 3, both of us running nice negative splits. Tom ended up running 30:17. I think BMLC can do really well at nationals if we can stay healthy. Right now John is injured but hopefully he'll be back soon and Josh has been running well in workouts after coming back from an injury. Erik has been training great lately as well and I can't wait to see what he throws down when he races again.


Beer of the Week: Moose Drool

Seattle-based musician Coulter is a true rock 'n' roll runner having run a 3:55 1500 (the equivalent of a 4:13 mile) when he competed for his college team. He can still throw down some fast times when he's not busy touring with his band and when his midlife crisis kicks in in a few years, he could do some damage as a masters runner. If you're a fan of The Smiths, Morrissey, and classic glam rock I highly recommend checking out Coulter's music. Like most runners and musicians, Coulter likes beer so I'll stop rambling and let him take over here:

Moose Drool Brown Ale
big sky brewing co. missoula, mt.

"the mind recoils with the word, 'montana'. clearly, people wind up there for strange reasons. the hollywood mogul who wants their own mountain for the same price of a small bungalow in silverlake. the conspiracy-theory nutjob who sees nuclear-proof bunkers in the never ending series of rolling hills and crag-filled mountains. the nature-loving romantic who's seen "a river runs through it" far too many times (i.e... once). all these people have one thing in common. ok, two..... most likely, they consume far more booze and assorted numbing agents than your average citizen, and out of sheer deference to their new-found homeland, along with a decidedly discriminating palate, they choose: moose drool, a fine brown ale churned out by the sound folks at big sky brewing company, missoula mt. the initial swallow conjures up a syrupy feel... much like the topping for pancakes served on one of those legendary montana winter mornings when the thermometer is stuck on 38 below. and that's without the windchill, which is too depressing to even calculate. some unlucky jackass has frozen his tongue to a lampost somewhere, and this fine bevvy is the only cure. the next sip conjures up a sense of boldness. pull on the lumberjack shirt, strap on the boots and go out and chop some goddamn wood, nancy! who cares if it's july! you can never have enough fuel. bombs ARE coming!! and the finish cries of isolation. the kind of isolation that can only come from a state that doesn't need speed limits. big sky. few will ever visit, and even fewer will pitch their tent there for good. but for those up to the challenge, of both the beer and the bit sky state, the reward is a unique, not-for-everbody payoff of sweet isolation..... a bite behind the product. seldom appreciated. impossible to duplicate. embrace strange. embrace moose drool."



Any of you who grew up in the '80s probably played games like Pac Man and, my favorite, Centipede. Last night one of the bands on Elephant Stone, Philadelphia's The Situation, played in Detroit at a bar called The Belmont. I drove up for the show and was thrilled to discover that they had some old school machines, including Centipede. Situation guitarist, Joe Castro, is also a big fan and we threw down a lot of quarters before the band played an amazing set, which no doubt got them some new fans in the Motor City.


Running Update

Training has been going pretty well. The weather has been pretty brutal lately -- really humid -- but I'm hanging in there. This summer, I've been trying to adjust to higher mileage than I had been doing and it's starting to work well for me. 2005 was my first year on the comeback trail and I averaged about 35 miles a week for the year. I probably did 35-40 from January through May of 2006 and now I've been trying to adjust to 45-50 with a few down weeks to get used to the transition. One of the things I've been doing is slowing down the pace of my long runs and recovery runs, which has allowed me to run faster on my harder days (i.e. intervals and progression runs). It's also giving me more energy to run further on the long runs and easy days. Gotta try to become an aerobic monster! My next race is an 8K on Saturday night August 5th in Allen Park and then I want to train for 8 weeks straight with no races before gearing up for the final homestretch of October, November and master's club nationals cross country in SF on December 9th.


Beer of the Week: Skullsplitter

This week's entry comes from awesome artist Arabella Proffer:

I came upon Skullsplitter after browsing through my favorite liquor store, the image alone got me as it stuck out amongst all the other imports in the cooler; it reminded me of Roxy Music’s Avalon cover art. My mind worked like this: Bad ass viking picture + Roxy Music + bitchin’death metal name + 8.5% alcohol = SOLD! Skullsplitter is from Scotland, named after the 7th Viking Earl of Orkney.

I’m not going to go over the aroma, taste, hints of maple, dry aftertaste, dark yet light to the taste bla bla bla too much. True it looks as though it should be a stout or a porter, but it is a red ale, and that makes it dangerous. I also believe the 8.5% label to be a bit of an understatement (wink-wink), as Skullsplitter was long illegal to sell in the United States, and I’ve had 9% beers in the past that never kicked my ass this much.

The price is a tad expensive for a 4-pack, but you don’t need anything beyond that. I had two beers -- relatively light for what I expected -- and by the second beer I had to go to bed and lie down. What Arrogant Bastard beers (8%) do to me in 5 pints, Skullsplitter did in 2. A beer that can cause me to go beddy-bye in two beers flat is very impressive indeed. My suggestion is have just one with dinner in a snifter, because if you think this sounds like something to pound with your buddies at a party to show off, boy are you going to regret it the next morning.


Jesus and Mary Chain reissues

Along with the prime time Rolling Stones (1964-1973), The Jesus and Mary Chain are my favorite band of all time. Their first five albums have all been reissued by Rhino Records with bonus DVD footage of all their videos. Formed by Scottish brothers Jim and William Reid (both on vocals and guitars), the JAMC set the UK indie scene on fire in 1984/85 with a series of stunning singles including "Never Understand," "Just Like Honey," and "You Trip Me Up," before releasing their debut album "Psychocandy" in November 1985. I was an exchange student in England that year and bought the album the day it came out and it has remained in my top 5 of all-time ever since! Psychocandy contains everything that's cool about melodic '60s guitar pop, along with a heavy dose of Velvet Underground jaded cool and lots of reverb and feedback. This is the template that pretty much inspired My Bloody Valentine and every shoegaze band since. The rest of the JAMC catalogue is phenomenal as well (though I'm still not fully sold on 1995's countryish "Stoned and Dethroned"). 1987's "Darklands" combines majestic pop nuggets like "April Skies" and "Happy When It Rains" with jaded downbeat rock gems like "Nine Million Rainy Days". 1989's "Automatic" is high octane rock 'n' roll, probably the most 'conventional' JAMC record but it contains some of their most beloved tunes such as "Blues From A Gun" and "Head On," which was covered by The Pixies. 1992's long-awaited "Honey's Dead" holds it's own with "Psychocandy" as the group's tour de force with blissful and punishing groove heavy stunners like "Reverence" and "Rollercoaster" and dropdead amazing pop stunners like "Almost Gold". Anyway, I bought the reissues of the first for (passed on "Stoned and Dethroned" for now) and the remastered sound is amazing. It's like listening to the records all over again for the first time like those amazing Stones reissues from a few years ago.


Only in Cleveland

No, this photo wasn't taken in Mexico it was taken in the lobby of the office building where I work. They were having some sort of fiesta and you could have your picture taken with a donkey. This guy was really cool and mellow!


Beer of the Week: Two Hearted Ale

Here's a new feature for Rock 'n' Roll Runner... beer of the week. Our first selection is by my BMLC teammate and big time rock 'n' roll fan John Voorhees:

"Bell's Two Hearted Ale has been a favorite of mine since I discovered it about a year ago. As its maker, Bell's Brewery located near Kalamazoo, Michigan, puts it, Two Hearted Ale is an:

India Pale Ale style well suited for Hemingway-esque trips to the Upper Peninsula. American malts and enormous hop additions give this beer a crisp finish and incredible floral hop aroma.

Being from Michigan, that's a description to which I can relate. Better yet, it's a beer with which I never seem to get bored. A clean, crisp, hoppy taste with a strong citrus taste that is brewed in the true tradition of IPAs, Two Hearted Ale is a great beer for a meal or just sitting on the back porch in the summertime. You may be out of luck finding this one if you live outside the Midwest, but if you can get your hands on it, treat yourself right and give it a try."


Wire reissued!

The first three Wire albums have been reissued on Wire's own Pink Flag label in really cool digipacks made to replicate the old vinyl artwork down to the T. In case you've never heard them, Pink Flag (1977), Chairs Missing (1978), and especially 154 (1979) are three of the best albums from the original punk/post-punk movement of '76-'82 that spawned a shitstorm of influential rock 'n' roll groups. Wire were probably the most unique. They had the manic energy of The Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones etc. but those groups sounded almost primitive next to Wire. Pink Flag has 21 tracks clocking in at around 35 minutes, some of them mere snippets of 40 seconds or so. None of this is thrashy though. It's bare bones minimalist pop music that is catchy and timeless. Chairs Missing was sort of a transition album. Less 'punk' than Pink Flag, it found the group developing their melodic pop chops even more, especially on their breathtaking single "Outdoor Miner." 154 is the toure de force. It's dark and scary like the more experimental work by Bowie and Eno, but it's far more realized. Along with Joy Division this is as intense as pop music gets; 154 feels like a creepy film soundtrrack with a punk rock edge.


Hot Town Summer in the City

Man, what a scorcher! It was 95% humidity at race time at the Tortoise and Hare 5K in Ann Arbor on July 4. I didn't run my best race but still managed to finish 3rd in the 40-44 age group. My BMLC teammates Tom and Steve were 2nd and 4th respectively so we put on a good show. The weather definitely had an effect on our times. I ran 18:39, which is a full minute off my best masters time! I started out slow but I couldn't really get into a good groove in the second half, which was what I was hoping for. Mile splits were 6:02, 6:01, 5:57 and :39. I was pretty pissed off at first but I've been training super hard and haven't tapered at all for my last two races. The focus is definitely on the fall so when I back down a bit, the performances should get much better. Hey, at least I look smooth in the 'official' race photo to your left. Took Wednesday off and today I did a nice long and easy 14 miler in the metro park. It was 70 and breezy and near perfect running weather. Even saw a deer! Next race is an 8K on August 5th. I'm going to back down a little this month and try to get more race sharp and hopefully I'll be able to throw down a sub 30:00. BMLC partners-in-crime Tom, John, and Josh will also be running.


Running Update

I realize I haven't done a running update in awhile as I've been preoccupied with Ukraine's World Cup run. My 10K race went really well last Sunday. I was first place in the 40-44 year old division and 7th overall. I ran a really smart, solid race, starting slow and working my way up through the pack. My second half of the race was about 30 seconds faster than the first half. The time was kind of slow -- 39:04 -- but the course was hilly and it was humid and I think it was a little long as some of the splits didn't make sense (I measured it on and it was 6.4 miles instead of 6.25, which would mean I would have been about 40-45 seconds faster, which seems about right for the course and weather). I think I'm in shape to run 37:30 (6:00 pace) on a flat course in moderate weather. OK, enough excuses. The training is going well. I'm getting used to higher mileage and looking forward to a 5K race in Ann Arbor on July 4 with my BMLC team mate Tom Sisson. It's a long way to SF in December but I'm getting there.


Ukraine into the Quarterfinals!!!!

OK, this is seriously the greatest non-running sporting moment of my life! Ukraine just got by Switzerland in a dramatic penalty shootout and has advanced to the quarterfinals against Italy. Thanks to the Soviet Union going down (Ronnie Reagan was actually right about the Soviet Union being an evil empire -- ask my dad or anyone else who grew up behind the Iron Curtain), countries like Ukraine finally got a chance to strut their stuff on the international stage. I'm pretty speechless. I was just hoping for Ukraine to make the round of 16 -- never in my dreams did I think they'd get this far. Let's hope more miracles are in store against Italy!


Smart Running

This isn't a plug for "Running with the Buffaloes," which is an amazing book by the way, but a starting point to plug a fantastic e-book called "Smart Running" by my coach Josh Scully who is also on my old man racing team, BMLC Track Club, and who has coached numerous high school state championship teams and All-State runners during his tenure at Greenhills School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Like Colorado University's cross country teams, Josh promotes 'smart' racing. CU's teams are noted for starting slow and working their way up in the pack before putting the hurt on in the final stages. Josh's Greenhills teams also utilized this strategy, often seemingly being out of the running half way through a race before capturing victory in the final stages. "Smart Running" is an amazing, easy-to-read analysis of training and racing and often goes against the grain of conventional 'wisdom'. Racing smart isn't as easy as it seems. In order to race well, you have to train well and simulate racing conditions in practice. My 41 year old body is running way faster than it has any right to do after taking 19 years off of running between 1985 and 2004. I owe a lot of this to Josh's coaching. If you want to find out more about the Scully program or what we at BMLC call the Scully regime, visit his website at:


Go Ukraine!

I'm by no means the biggest football (or as we call it in America, soccer) fan, but I'm half Ukrainian so I'm psyched as hell that Ukraine has just advanced to the round of 16 by beating Tunisia 1-0! Ukraine started the World Cup on a bad note by getting thrashed by Spain but rebounded by annihilating Saudi Arabia 4-0 and ended up finishing second in Group H. They will face the winner of Group G in the next round -- probably Switzerland or South Korea.


The Hard Lessons: Detroit Rock City!

I was complaining about wussy ass bands who don't rock last week so now I'll plug a band that kicks ass, the Hard Lessons, from Detroit. Like most of the current crop of Motor City buzz bands these guys know how to combine noise and melody. The Hard Lessons who include Augie on guitar and vocals, Ko Ko Louise on keyboards and vocals, and The Anvil on drums create a racket like your favorite '70s hard rock band with a touch of '60s soul. Ko Ko Louise has an amazing set of pipes! We saw them play in Cleveland at the CMJ Festival last Friday and though they were the opening act they stole the show from their more famous homeboys The Dirtbombs and The Detroit Cobras. Their new EP is really great too. It's been living in my car CD player. For more info and to see if they're playing in your town soon, check out:


Hangin' Tough

Like the New Kids once did, I've been "hangin' tough" only in my case it's not because I'm going out in public dressed to get my ass kicked, but rather because I've been kicking my ass into shape with my training. Last week I ran 6 days and did 46.5 miles. Highlights included a solid 12 miler with the last 2 miles in 12:27 (6:01 final mile) and a session of 8 x 1000 meters with 200 meter jog recoveries (i.e. 1:00-1: 10 rest) in 3:43 (5:57 pace). I also ran a hard 8 mile run on the horse trails in the metro park. You can definitely feel it in your legs hitting the dirt hard. I'm going to try to do off road training at least once a week this summer. This week has been great too. On Monday I ran another great 12 miler and finished even faster than last week with the last 2 miles in 12:22 (5:57 final mile). My next race is a 10K on June 25th. It's supposed to be a pretty hilly course, a 5K loop which we will run twice.


Primal Scream - When the Bomb Drops - Album Chart Show

Screw you Pitchfork, this fucking rocks!


Bring Me the Head of Sufjan Stephens

Remember when Bluto, played by John Belushi, smashed that hippie's acoustic guitar in Animal House? I sure do! When you've got Otis Day and the Knights in the house, the times sure as hell don't need to be a changin'. I feel the same way about today's wussy-as-all-hell indie scene. 'Folk artists' like Sufjan Stephens, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Jens Lekman are like the 'alterna' reincarnations of all that '70s easy listening crap like the Carpenters, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Simon & Garfunkel. Newsom sounds like an 80-year Bjork having a stroke; Banhart is like a lo-fi and lo-intelligence Donovan, Stephens and Lekman are so fey that they make Belle and Sebastian sound like Motorhead in comparison. But they're socially relevant says the sensitive indie boy with a beard. Yeah, but so are MC5, Easterhouse, The Smiths, The Jam and god knows how many others and they rock! It feels like rock 'n' roll is on its last legs when the new folkies get rave reviews, while loser ass Pitchfork gives the new Primal Scream album 2 out of 10, the main criticism seeming to be that they've abandoned their techo influences of their previous releases for the more rock 'n' roll sounds of their 1995 album Give Out But Don't Give Up. Bands like Primal Scream and The Hellacopters do utilize every cool cliche in the book but they do it well and I'd rather raise my fist in the air at a concert than sit on a floor of some stinky coffee shop and listen to some hippie jibberish.


Monster Training

What does my favorite old school boxer, Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns have to do with cross country running? Well, boxers are fit as all hell and John and I just started a summer training program to begin our build up for the USATF Masters XC Championships in SF in December. Our coach and teammate Josh Scully calls the regimen monster training because in his words, "It is a time to put on the gloves and workout! Take your fitness to the max." Good enough excuse to include a badass image of Hearns!

Anyway, here's the game plan:

Monday - Long run of 12-16 miles, pushing really hard on the last 2-3 miles.
Tuesday - 7 miles at long run pace -- kind of an extension of Monday's workout
Wednesday - 5 miles easy
Thursday - Interval workout @ 10K race pace with minimal rest -- i.e. 10 x 800 with 1 minute rest or 8 x 1000 with 1 minute rest
Friday - off
Saturday - 8 mile progression run on dirt trails
Sunday - 5 miles easy

Total each week is about 45-50 miles. I have 3 races planned for the summer: a 10K at the end of June, a 4 miler in mid-July and an 8K in early August.


Fly Like A Falcon

If we told you what BMLC stood for, we'd have to kill you but on Monday, June 5, some of us will be starting a hardcore training program designed to peak for Masters Club Cross Country Nationals in San Francisco on Saturday, Dec. 9. It will be a 10K race at Golden Gate State park against the very best runners this country has to offer in the 40-49 year old age group.

Here's our mission statement:

Three quarters of the founding members of the BMLC Track Club, Ben Szporluk, Erik Fadiman, and John Voorhees all had successful cross country and track careers in the early 1980s for one of Michigan's premiere distance running programs, Greenhills School, coached by R. Bruce Dyer. But, like many budding high school stars, our three heroes all drifted away from running in their college years, with occasional half-hearted comebacks, until Ben had a midlife crisis as his 40th Birthday loomed. Ben started to train seriously and soon got hooked on running local 5K races, proclaiming that 6:00 is the new 5:00! With his newfound enthusiasm he got in touch with the last quarter of the founding members, Greenhills' current cross country coach, Josh Scully, a tough as nails masters runner and brilliant coach. Ben proposed a cross country alumni reunion, which ended up taking place in Ann Arbor, Michigan in November 2005 to great success. Feeding off of the reunion-induced frenzy John, Erik, and Ben decided to form a club and compete in USATF masters competitions. Our first stab at national glory will take place at the cross country club nationals in SF in December 2006 with hopes that 5:30 will be the new 5:00!!

Other members of BMLC include Tom Sisson, Robert Cherry, Sam Nichol, Peter Ross and Michael Dubin. (coming soon!)


Takin' it to the Streets


The Streets frontman Mike Skinner has signed-up to run a marathon.Writing on his official blog, the rapper revealed after talking to the trainer company that sponsor him, he plans to run this year's New York Marathon, which takes place on November 5."Spoke to Reebok about things and I've decided to run the New York Marathon," wrote Skinner under the heading Big Grief. "I know it seems a bit long but if people do it dressed as milk cartons it can't be that hard, right?"The race - which will feature other celebrity runners including Tour De France winning cyclist Lance Armstrong - sees 670,000 runners annually take to the 26-mile course, which transverses the city's five boroughs before finishing in Central Park.Skinner didn't specify what his training routine will be, though worryingly he also used his blog to try to blag a new Rolls Royce car by having his photo taken next to one."I enclose a promotional photo of me standing by my choice of car," explained Skinner of the snap. "ROLLS ROYCE if you're looking at this, please feel free to send me one over."


Swervedriver "Juggernaut Rides '89-'98"

These days when people think of the shoegaze sound, the dreamier (in my opinion, just plain wussy) artists like Slowdive, and, for Christ's sake, the Cocteau Twins seem to get mentioned first. While I like some of Slowdive's stuff, they were hardly the holy grail of the amazing early '90s UK guitar rock movement that spawned the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Ride, The Boo Radleys, Catherine Wheel, and, perhaps, best of all, Swervedriver. What these bands all had in common -- at least on their early records -- was noise and melody with lots of reverb and feedback. All but one of Swervedriver's four full-length records are in print these days, which is why the recently released "Juggernaut Rides" is so essential. In addition to legendary cuts like "Rave Down," "Duel," "99th Dream," and "Last Train To Satansville," this two-disc 33-song career retrospective contains a number of rarities, previously only released on UK import EPs. If you haven't heard stuff like the title track and "Planes Over The Skyline," man are you in for a treat! Mixing then-modern influences like early Dinosaur, Jr. and Husker Du with '60s icons like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Stooges and Love, Swervedriver created vast soundscapes that would all but overwhelm you if not for Adam Franklin's silky smooth vocals. Do yourself a favor and get this while you can.


Wang Wei 10K

What does the unfortunate Chinese top gun pilot Wang Wei have in common with a Chicago 10K that went off course? Not too much, really, but bear with me. For those of you who might not remember, Wang Wei was the pilot who had been taunting US surveillance planes, flying so close at times that he would even flash his email address on pieces of paper at them! In early 2001 he clipped the wing of a US spy plane and fell to his death. The Chinese claim he was shot down. Because his name sounds like 'wrong way' he became fodder for late night comedians amongst others. Anyway, I went the 'wrong way' in my 10K this past Saturday. The course ran through a windy residential neighborhood and the leader who was way better than everyone else took off and the pace car pulled him out of sight from the chase pack I was in. Just around the 3 mile mark, there was a turn. Some guys ahead of me kept going straight. Two guys right with me got into an argument. One said to turn right the other said straight. I went straight and we got screwed. A few minutes later we realized that no one was following us but we kept running hard for whatever reason and weirdly enough found our way back into the race but now way back in the pack. At this point I was really frustrated and just didn't see the point of running an extra half mile or more and finishing with a lousy time! I'm really surprised that there were no volunteers on that part of the course. Oh well. Before the chaos my splits for the first 3 miles were 5:52, 11:52, and 17:52. It was real hot and humid and I can tell I would have slowed down a bit and probably ended up around 6:00 pace or slightly slower (i.e. 37:20-37:30).

That was only a minor blip though. The weekend was fantastic. My BMLC partner-in-crime John and his wife Jennifer (and their three super cool boys) treated us like kings. We saw lots of cool places and I had a kickass Chicago dog at the world famous Weiner Circle! Fortunately, John wasn't one of the guys who made the detour and he had a solid race after having missed 5 weeks with an Achilles injury. He wanted to run faster, but the weather was real brutal. 4 of the BMLC guys (me, John, Tom, Josh) will be running an 8K in Allen Park, MI in August. Look for a much better showing there. I promise to study the course map!


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