A Place To Bury Strangers

I'm pretty jaded with most 'new' bands, but Brooklyn's A Place To Bury Strangers have grabbed my attention with two excellent albums and a fuzzed out noise fest of a live show that outdoes the Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, and, to be honest, most of the first wave of shoegazers (I'm old kids and I saw most of the 'legends' from that era). Combining a relentless fuzz pop attack with a dark edge that brings to mind some of the heavier goth groups like Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, A Place To Bury Strangers are a nice antidote to all that uber-sensitive twee pop that's coming out of the indie scene these days.


Jog Into Spring 5K

More like Jog Into Winter as it was about 25F when the gun went off! That said, it was one of those beautiful sunny days with very little wind and after jogging most of the course for my warm up, I knew this would be a fast early season race as it was virtually flat. I felt really good in my warm up and after a few strides I was anxious to go. As usual I locked right into my 5K pace instead of sprinting out like most people do, but by the mile mark I was clearly in second place, running alongside a high school runner who also went out conservatively. We hit the mile mark in 5:38 and I felt really good so I tried to push it ever so slightly more. The kid stayed with me and we sort of jockeyed back and forth and rolled into the 2 mile at 11:14. I still felt really good (where was all this sharpness 2 weeks ago?) and decided that I needed to try to pull away sooner rather than later as I didn't want it to come down to a kick at the end. I pushed hard for about a half mile and for awhile I thought I opened a gap, but the kid pulled up to me again and gapped me a little. I caught him again with about 200 to go and tried to outsprint him, but he just had more wheels than me and beat me by a second. In any case, I ended up with a 17:24, which I was really happy with. Much better Age-graded performance than the 5 miler 2 weeks ago. I was 3rd overall and first in my age group. Really enjoyed this race in Independence. The course was great and well marked and it was accurate. People who wore Garmins had it right at 3.12. That doesn't always happen with Cleveland races!

Next up is the Meteor 10K in Michigan in 2 weeks. Last year I ran 36:06 for my PR and I would REALLY like to get under 36 this year. Feeling good and motivated.


Bunch of Beer

It's been awhile since I've done a beer review, so I'm cheating a bit here! Everything in this picture was really good, so here's the brief rundown going from left to right:

1) Heavy Seas Mutiny Fleet Siren Noire:  Imperial Chocolate Stout. Not as candy-like as Young's Double Chocolate, but then nothing really is. This is more of a sipping kind of beer with a good amount of kick.

 2) Smuttynose Shoal Pale Ale: Very smooth. Like an IPA but not nearly as hoppy. A nice beer to have with dinner or to have if you want more than a few!

 3) Monk's Blood: Belgian style dark ale brewed by 21st Amendment in Cold Springs, Minnesota. Dark Red hue, hence the name Monk's Blood. Mild spicey flavorings, including nutmeg and cinnamon. Comes in a very attractive box, which contains four cans inside.

4) Scotty Karate: Very nice scotch ale. I've had this in a snifter at the Buckeye Beer Engine before, but never in a bottle. Very strong at 9.75% alc., but surprisingly smooth with a smokey flavor, not unlike a high end scotch.

5) Great Divide Titan IPA: Just a really nice IPA. If you like the Dogfish Head 60 minute or 90 minute IPAs, or any of the IPA from Lagunitas, you'll definitely dig this.


Training Update

It's been a while since I reported on my running (or anything for that matter) on this blog lately (bunch of beer reviews forthcoming!), but things are going well. I've been feeling really good and sharp since the St. Malachi race and have hit a variety of key workouts in the past fortnight, including hill reps last Wednesday and a really nice 13 mile trail run last Saturday, plus a really good interval session this Tuesday (first time on the track in 2010). I'll be racing a 5K this Saturday in Independence and I'm excited about that. Though the forecast is calling for upper 20s/lower 30s (!!!) at race time, it should be sunny and it looks like the wind will be minimal. I don't mind racing in the cold at all if it's not windy.


RIP Alex Chilton

Wow. What shocking and sad news. RIP Alex.


World Champion Bernard Lagat!

Bernard Lagat wins the World Indoor 3,000 meter championship in ridiculous fashion. Love those red, white and blue spikes he's wearing.


Tindersticks - Falling Down A Mountain

I will never get tired of listening to Tindersticks records just for Stuart Staples’ whiskey-soaked delivery alone; the man creates such lovely, potent, and heartbreaking melodies. Combine that with his band’s astounding epic orchestral arrangements and you have one of the most important musical forces of the past two decades. Like all Tindersticks records, Falling Down A Mountain is definitely masterfully recorded, but this album has a little bit of a looser, more spontaneous feel than prior efforts, almost as if it were a live in studio session. The title track opens things on a heavy, bluesy note, but most of Falling Down A Mountain is much more sublime with gems like “Black Smoke” and “Harmony Around My Table,” which holds their own with stone Tindersticks classics such as “Rented Rooms” and “City Sickness.” (www.tindersticks.co.uk)


St. Malachi 5 Mile Run Race Report

This is not an easy course in the best of weather, so when it dropped to 40F and started raining this morning after perfect weather all week, I knew that the best strategy going into the race would be to race smart. By racing smart, I mean starting at a pace that I know I can handle and keep passing people throughout the race who went out too hard. The first mile in this race is FAST. It begins with a 200 meter or so downhill where most people sprint out like they're getting chased on the TV show Cops. After the initial insanity it stays flat through the mile mark, though this year the mile mark was WAY off. 6:20? right. After that I knew that this was going to be a terribly mismarked course so I treated it like a cross country race and focused on my effort instead of my splits. I picked off a lot of people in miles two and three. The second mile had a long gradual nasty climb, while the third mile had a shorter but shittier ascent. One thing you can say about this course is that it's easy to focus on the competition. Scenic it ain't. The Flats area of Cleveland is an industrial wasteland reminiscent of some of the sketchy bombed out looking areas of Detroit complete with several grated bridges. Anyway, on to mile 4. This mile is usually super fast as there's a gradual downhill for much of it, but this year it went smack into heavy winds. I seem to remember getting a  sweet tailwind on this stretch in prior races on this course, but not today. The last mile is flat until a gut wrenching uphill quarter mile finish.I was really gaining on one guy at the end and just missed catching him.

As for my result, I ran 29:39 for 1st place in the 45-49 division (I won my age group by 55 seconds) and 17th overall out of maybe 2,000 runners. I feel like I was in shape to run about a minute faster as I mentioned in my contest post, but the race gods weren't really on our side today, but I'm happy with my race and I'll certainly take it. Nice to get out there again after 3 months away from competition.

Matt McCoy was the winner of the prediction contest, so let me know what CD you want Matt!

As you can see from the photos, I'm wearing the ever so colorful Brooks Green Silence racing flats. What an amazing flat! Lightweight, but just enough cushioning for all the tough hills on the course.


Lindemans Peche Lambic

Continuing with my promise to review every beer that passes through my 'fridge, next up is the Belgian Peche Lambic. To quote from the ever resourceful Wikipedia:

Lambic is a very distinctive type of beer brewed only in the Pajottenland region of Belgium (southwest of Brussels) and in Brussels itself at the Cantillon Brewery and museum. Lambic is now mainly consumed after refermentation, resulting in derived beers such as Geuze or Kriek.

Unlike conventional ales and lagers, which are fermented by carefully cultivated strains of brewer's yeasts, lambic beer is instead produced by spontaneous fermentation: it is exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Senne valley, in which Brussels lies. It is this unusual process which gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous, and cidery, with a slightly sour aftertaste.

I normally don't seek out lambics, but Bella bought a 750ml bottle of the Lindemans Peche and poured me a glass and I liked it a lot. I've had the Lindemans Cherry Lambic in the past and enjoyed that too. If you're in the mood for something a little off the beaten path, the Peche Lambic might do the trick. There's obviously a fruit flavor in this beverage, but this beer is far from being 'fruity' (wine cooler this is not!). There's  a really nice cider-like kick to this. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that anyone who likes a fine cider like Strongbow or Hornsby's will become a fan of the lambic too.


Founders Breakfast Stout

I'm not a big fan of breakfast, the meal, but I'll sing the praises of Founders Breakfast Stout till the day I die. Who needs oatmeal when you can have a double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout? Seriously, this is a meal in a glass! If your knowledge of stout is limited to, say, Guinness, then a good way to describe the Breakfast Stout is to say that it's more of a sipping beer. In a good brew pub, you'll get this served in a snifter glass, as opposed to the traditional pint. The Founders Breakfast Stout is less chocolaty than the Young's Double Chocolate Stout,  the chocolate taking a back seat so to speak behind the coffee and oatmeal flavors. Like an Irish coffee, it's a nice way to wind down the day (or start it). When it's available at the Buckeye Beer Engine, I usually end the night with this one. As a side note, if you're ever in Grand Rapids, visit the Founders Brewery. I've been there twice for post-race beers after the Brian Diemer 5K race (my favorite race period!) and this year I plan to celebrate the trifecta!


The Stevenson Ranch Davidians - Life & Death

The Stevenson Ranch Davidians hail from the desert country just outside of Los Angeles and, appropriately enough, they conjure up some nice canyon rock meets UK shoegaze/space rock vibes on their second full-length Life & Death. Vocalist Dwayne Seagraves draws you in the same way that Richard Ashcroft does on the best Verve records with his soft and soulful melodies. The new record is a little more grounded than the 2006 debut Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs, which was closer in spirit to the likes of Spiritualized and The Verve. While those influences definitely remain on Life & Death, the Davidians also give icons such as the countrified Rolling Stones (think “Sister Morphine”) and Gram Parsons a shot of their lethal modern space rock sound. (thestevensonranchdavidians.com)


Predict my race time and win a CD!

I'm running my first race of the year on Saturday, the St. Malachi 5 mile run. To spice up some interest in this blog, I'm offering a free CD of your choice from my record label, Elephant Stone Records, to whoever comes closest to predicting my race time. To give you some background, I ran 29:00 flat (5:48 per mile pace) in this race last year and 28:40 in 2008. The weather in 2008 was PERFECT, last year the footing was a bit slick, still some ice on the ground. For those who might enter the contest who are not from Ohio, the snow has pretty much melted here, and the roads on the race course should be fine. Weather for the race is looking like low 40s with a chance of rain. As for my fitness, you can view my workouts via the 'My Training Log' log link, but if you don't feel like doing that, for what it's worth, I'm in better shape than I was last year at this time and I'm shooting for a course PR. Send your predictions to: modvendetta@gmail.com


Ready To Race

I wrapped up another really good training week and am really looking forward to my first race of the year next Saturday, the St. Malachi 5 mile run. This is a really hilly course so hopefully all the mileage and hill work I've done this winter will play to my strengths. Last year I ran 29:00 in this race and would like to think that I'm in shape to run about 30-40 seconds faster this year. We'll see. As a rule I don't like to make predictions, but I'm feeling pretty confident that I'm further ahead than I was at this point in 2009. On Monday I'll be running 16 x 400 w/100 jogs as a final tuneup and if I can hit 83/84s feeling relaxed that should be a good sign. This past week I hit 57.5 miles with three really good key sessions: 5 x 5:00 on Monday, 16 x 200 on Thursday and a nice and easy 12 miler today.


The Chamber Strings limited edition 7" single!

It’s been nearly a decade since the last Chamber Strings record of any kind, 2001’s acclaimed Month of Sundays album on the now defunct Bobsled Records imprint, yet somehow Kevin Junior hasn’t missed a beat. Backed by the same lineup that recorded the aforementioned release, these two new songs on the limited edition "I Come Apart (A Tragic Comedy)" 45 (yes, I still have a turntable!) are wonderful snippets of Junior’s melancholic magic. The title track and the equally impressive flipside, “The Check-Out Girls,” are epic, orchestrated pop songs that hold their own with anything in the Chamber Strings arsenal. One can only hope that this is just a teaser for a forthcoming full-length. In any case it’s great to see these guys back.


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