Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter Running in North Carolina

I spent the first 22+ years of my life in Western PA.  For a runner, that meant many (all?) months of the year were not ideal training conditions.  Today, I thought I would give one runner's perspective of moving from the snowiest city in America of Erie, PA, to Raleigh, NC.  As I started a draft of this post last week, I had yet to see a single flake of snow hit the ground in North Carolina.  Obviously, once I began writing this, the Triangle region has been hit with record-breaking cold temperatures and the local schools have canceled the past four days.  It's currently 15 degrees in Raleigh with a windchill of 3 degrees.

During the winter months in western PA, it was very difficult to get in any kind of speed work outside.  Roads, trails, and tracks were perpetually covered with snow and ice.  It was a great time to build a base and get some miles, but not much else.  I was lucky enough to have access to an indoor track in both undergrad and grad school, but it can get pretty nauseating after a few dozen laps on a 200 meter track.  I have done long runs of 12-14 miles on indoor tracks before (100+ laps), but I would not recommend that to anyone who wants to keep their sanity.  It was far too difficult to keep track of the laps.

Running in North Carolina has been a dream.  With the exception of this week, I have been able to run in shorts all winter long.  In fairness, the current windchill of 3 degrees is still much better than negative 18 windchill in Erie.  I always think I can pick out other runners from up north based on what they're wearing in the cold.  For me, 30-40 degrees is usually a long sleeve t-shirt with shorts and maybe a hat.  Forty degrees is a spring track practice in Pennsylvania.  When I see a runner that is bundled up enough to travel through the Article circle, I think they are probably from the south.

The treadmill is typically a last resort for me.  Although it wasn't fun, I still ran outside last year a few times when the windchill was around negative 20.  Many non-runners often scoff at hearing that, but somehow I always managed to survive and not get sick.  Given the choice, however, I may wait until it warms up a bit this afternoon before I head out into the coldest February 20 of all-time in Raleigh, NC.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Beer of the Month - January 2015

Unlike December, I had several great beers in January.  Not a new one, but I was able to enjoy some 2014 Foothills Sexual Chocolate at Busy Bee last week.  A big, sweet, super chocolate stout.  For those who like stouts that don't come with a lot of coffee flavor, look no further.  I'm not saying I would stand in line all night for this beer like some do, but it's very good.  Speaking of standing in line, the 2015 Sexual Chocolate is was released at Foothills this past weekend.  There are several releases on draft and in bottle shops this week in Raleigh, I will definitely be getting my hands on some.

My favorite beer of January is from none other than Wicked Weed.  A new bottle and sandwich shop from the owners of Trophy, called State of Beer, opened recently on Hillsborough street.  I've made several stops at this fine establishment, most recently for a Wicked Weed tap takeover.  I brake when I see a Wicked Weed truck a parking lot.  The draft list featured six offerings from Wicked Weed, including two of my favorites, Freak of Nature and Lusus Naturae.  The rest were all new to me.

The drink I ordered, and thus my beer of the month, was Dark Age.  An imperial stout aged in Four Roses barrels.  I had no choice in the matter.  Huge chocolate flavors, dark brown sugar, vanilla, and a warm bourbon finish.  My favorite dark beer from Wicked Weed thus far.

Dark Age Bourbon Stout
Wicked Weed Brewing
Russian Imperial Stout
11.9% ABV, 55 IBU
Rate: 4.5/5

My girlfriend ordered the French 75, a cocktail-inspired American Wild Ale.  I've never had anything quite like this one.  Floral, lemon, and a lot of mint, almost like a peppermint patty.  There was so much going on in this beer.  It very much reminded me more of a cocktail than beer and while it was very good, I'm not sure I could do more than one pour of this.

(Photo cred to blrea)