Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Stone 10th Anniversary IPA

This looks like trouble ...

Stone 10th Anniversary IPA harkens back to our earlier Anniversary Ales, with abundant hopping at many stages of the brewing process.

Appropriately, the aroma is over-the-top, with pronounced piney and resiny hop
flavors combined with tropical fruit esters and more subtle notes of toasted
malts and alcohol. Our Stone 10th Anniversary Ale weighs in at 10% alcohol by
volume (perfect for a 10th anniversary beer), and has a little more color and
malt character than our other IPAs. In addition to using the new Summit hop
variety in the brewhouse to provide the powerful bitterness, we went back
through our records and found some of our favorite hops over the years, and used
them to flavor this brew, including Chinook, Crystal, and large doses of Simcoe
in the dry-hop to provide a huge, complex, piney, fruity and floral hop
character. This is a colossal beer, big in every sense: hoppy, malty, rich, and
strong! Right up our alley.

APPEARANCE: Deep copper/amber with a light tan, dense head.

AROMA: Really hoppy, with pronounced piney hop aromatics combined with layers of pineapple and mango tropical fruit.

FLAVOR: Wow! Intensely hoppy, alcohol and bitter with some nice complexity provided by lightly roasted malt.

PALATE: Full bodied, bitter, with some hotness from the alcohol.

OVERALL: This beer delivers on everything-hops, malt and flavor! We hope everyone is as stoked about this beer as we were when we first tasted it.

What is it about Stone Brewing, that gives me anxiety attacks??? I actually shake as I bring the bottles to the cashier. Could it be the demonic / gargoyle imagery toying with my overt Catholicism??? (Wait a minute .. we INVENTED gargoyles!!)

Could it be that my ‘former life’ silk-screener is asking me ‘why … HOW … could they print a gunmetal silver metallic ink on a brown bottle and expect the UPC scanners to pick it up [we’ve had troubles with the gold ink on the Ruination]???” Maybe it is the flat out “You’re Not Worthy!!!” on the Arrogant B.

For whatever reason, I felt like I needed to ask permission to open it up. Even that felt like some deep Satanic ritual I “knew not, but was guided to” ... After finding out about the Limited Edition caps [and realizing the one I had was on a short run] I employed the ‘Nickel Trick’ and popped it open.

Align the opener to the cap with the Devil Head; slip the nickel between to perserve the artifact of this glorious moment; kiss your ass goodbye.



Okay, granted, many people read the reviews on BA or from the brewer’s site and were tipped to what to look for … Usually they come off saying “Maybe I’m wrong; Didn’t find it.”

I read and posted Stone’s self assessment AFTER I bought it but BEFORE I tasted it … Let me say this: If you ever want to know what “pronounced piney hop aromatics combined with layers of pineapple and mango tropical fruit” is ... get a bottle of this!!!! They are so right on!!! I hate to admit that I didn’t know what I was tasting without being LED to it by the brewery … but I couldn’t have defined it better

And that was just the first sniff!!!

If you want my review … just use theirs … I have nothing to add.

Except this: This is an excellent beer to transition from Summer to Fall. It is a definite threat to Dead Guy Ale as my 'go to' Halloween Beer. It has all the thirst quenching dryness of a strong hoppy IPA combined with a rich mellow maltiness of an Oktoberfest / Marzen. It’s coming home, changing out of your work clothes, throwing on cammo cargo shorts and a T-shirt, and - while you go around the block on your bike, barefoot – you realize it’s a bit cooler than you thought. A hoodie sweatshirt might have been appropriate; the whole 'short pants / long sleeve' surfer dichotomy in full effect. The streetlights are on way too early. There’s a slight smokiness in the air … late wildfires, last-chance weekday hotdog grillers or early fireplaces???

It's been nice, Summer 2006.

---- Call me??? ----

Sunday, September 17, 2006

2006 Philadelphia Distance Run - Epilogue

Epilogue

I crossed the finish line, received my finisher’s medal, collected my tchotchkes [including a very nice pair of flip-flops], and turned toward home. It was nearly 11:00 when I stepped off the Parkway. Eulogy would be opening for brunch. Tempting as it was, I missed the girls. Well, more importantly I wanted to tell them how Daddy blew up, Daddy walked, but Daddy didn’t quit.

When I came into the house, just past 12:30, Mariel greeted me at the door.

She saw the medal on my neck.

“Daddy!!! You won!!!”

I hadn’t thought so; but I may have been wrong.

###

Classic Philadelphia Distance Run:
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=450609.
1999 PDR:
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=450628
2006 PDR: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=450662

Someone whose day went way, WAY better than mine: http://www.xtri.com/article.asp?id=1860

2006 Philadelphia Distance Run - Part Three

Recovery

Right about the 10-mile mark, my logical brain [which had been pouting for about and hour] woke up …

“Hey … wait a minute … wherever we are … is closer to the finish … than we’re used to being …”

“Yes,” the engine room told the pilot, “we only have three miles to go … versus the five you were anticipating, at this point.” [In truth, there was only a one mile difference between the Classic route and the 2006 route, but the feet knew that they had to keep Bobble-Head in the game or they wouldn’t finish at all]

“How are you feeling?” He asked, knowing that everyone would lie to him any way.

“We’re good. Fire it up.”

###

There are landmarks that, hopefully, the people in charge of this event never change. They’ve monkeyed with the start; they’ve monkeyed with the finish. But as long as the “Philadelphia Half-Marathon [Soon to Be Rock’N Roll’ed, I’m sure.] goes, they have to keep: The Parkway, City Hall, and the Fairmount Loop. Within “The Loop” are such physical landmarks as the Spring Street Bridge, Strawberry Mansion on the West, over Falls Bridge to Kelly Drive. Many participants are bike- or tri-geeks and recognize “Lemon Hill” as a critical point in the Philadelphia Cycling Championship [or whatever it’s called these days].

Equally important - although, never as critical to the outcome - is “the Rock Tunnel.”

After going under maybe a dozen nameless shapeless bridges, Kelly Drive takes you under a legitimate tunnel. Carved into a finger of granite poised to poke the Schuylkill in the ribs, the Tunnel provides both a car ride through and a run/bike path round. When given a chance, it is an awesome echo chamber. I had raced through there in the past, with many a Rebel Yell. Apparently, only those who intended to finish the Distance Run under 2 hour will scream … I passed through the legendary Rock Tunnel in silence.

After the Rock Tunnel came the Girard Street Bridge; essentially the end of Fairmount Park and [for those who had any speed left] the run up to the Finish.

After ‘blowing a gasket’ in the middle 5 miles, I‘d held it together pretty well over the past two, and now considered making a charge over the final mile. It was basically up and over the hill behind the Art Museum; something I’d reviewed since, well, forever, really …. I had always told anyone who asked, “You know the steps Rocky up? Well, the steps in the BACK of the museum are worse!!!! They’re shorter and steeper!!!” I knew about this part of the course, and had both feared and revered it for years.

So much so, that when I lost my breath, as saw my bride walk down the aisle in 1992, my best man, Tommy Fung asked, “ What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?”

“The hill behind the Art Museum.”

“And you had to run 12 miles to get there. This should be easy; you’re standing still”

He is my sensei.

###

One word kept repeating itself through my head: “Crunch!” This baffled me since I really felt no discomfort. My hips, thighs and calves had stopped hurting; I could sense no blisters developing; I might even keep all my toenails.

Then I realized what “Crunch!” meant.

I had backed off enough between mile 7 and 10, that I probably had enough gas left – even without the agita producing Amino Crap and GU [which never showed up] – for another five miles … only ONE of which I needed now. After Annabelle and I did Broad Street [rather conservatively] I was fine to run 3 miles that following Wednesday.

“Crunch” meant that nothing hurt yet, we were going to make sure that something did … and for days to come.

My head went up, the arms went down, and the feet went over and over. It hurt, but I found something of a kick.

My final mile was in the 8’s.


Unfortunately, my arm crossed my number, so this is all we’ll ever see.

2006 Philadelphia Distance Run - Part Two

Half Mary, (not so) Full of Grace

There was no “gun” so to speak, just a round of applause – as the winners left the gate – then a slow wandering to the start for everyone else. I didn’t check my watch for my actual chip time to start. There would plenty of time to figure my deficit later.

I started my chatter.

“Well. We got that pesky ‘point one’ out of the way. Only thirteen more miles to go.”

“The first mile is very important. This is where you select the girl you’ll be following for the next 2 hours.”

No one wanted to play. It was too warm, and there was a definite seriousness about.

We passed the first mile timer at 15 minutes and something. So, if all my splits ended in a five, I’d be putting in 10:00 miles. That would be fine for today.

The first band was stationed at the corner of Love Park. A very nice Beatles cover band in 1964 attire. If nothing else there would be good tunes today.

We curled around City Hall. A girl just ahead of me misjudged – or didn’t see – a curb and went down. I quickly hopped around her, since I didn’t want to tumble, too.

I was tempted to turn down Broad Street just for laughs … but decided against it.

Cruising down Market into the sun was a treat. Nothing quite smells like Market Street, Philadelphia early on a Sunday morning … except, of course, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. The aromas of steam vents, pee, last night’s garbage, bus exhaust, the Homeless, all create a tasty m√©lange that fairly overwhelms the senses.

We took a loop through the historical district and up Walnut. Band #2 was the Eagles Cheer band. I could only assume that they would be playing “Fly Eagles Fly” for over and over for the next hour or so. I mentioned to another runner that although I would like the Eagles to win this afternoon, I had Eli Manning and Tiki Barber on my Fantasy Football team. Many of guys near me were in the same predicament. This led to a discussion of post race beer.

“What’s ‘400 Beers’ mean?” a dude behind me asked.

Finally!!!

Splits 2 and 3 were in the nice safe 25 and 35 minute range. Ten minute miles, a 2:11 finish. I could live with that quite happily.

We continued our little cruise through the cool shade of downtown; then made our run back up the parkway. In my mind I had broken the race down into three segments: 5 miles downtown, 5 miles out and over the Falls Bridge, and a final 5K back to the Art Museum. The first 5 mile portion was behind us as we took the water stop at Spring Garden Street. I had paid close attention to my coach to stop and walk through the stops. It was getting warm and a little slow down to relax was very helpful. The gentle curve over the Schuylkill brought us directly across from Boathouse row.

I did some quick math … 55 minutes out, they should be almost be done …

“Fuck!! There they are!!!” I shouted as the winners sped past the row of boathouses. Man, they were cooking!!!

We rolled into under the Girard Ave for a 10K time of 66 minutes. Right around 10 minutes; taking “the deficit” into account.

“But wait, isn’t the 10K split supposed to be near Strawberry Mansion??? It took us an hour to get to the Zoo??? This is a problem” My brain was having a bit of trouble visualizing exactly where we were

“We should be much further along!!! We are very far behind!!!” The ‘engine room’ tried to convince the ‘pilot’ all was well. My feet didn’t hurt and my legs were turning over nicely. I wasn’t breathing very hard, although I was warm. The captain would have none of it.

As a Conrail freight train screeched, groaned, rattled and clattered on the bridge above, my own wheels fell off.

I stopped running. I began Gallow-walking [look it up – it basically means ‘run for a while, walk for a while, get your T-shirt’ e.g., you suck, Rudy]

“If you are always allowed to stop training whenever you feel discomfort, you will find it too easy to give yourself permission to quit” – Jet Li

It wasn’t really discomfort in a physical sense - no pain of any sort, just disorientation and confusion. I figured that I was in some sort of fuel problem, since D’Wife and I had waylaid the traditional pasta dinner in favor of a more favorable – to her schedule – dinner of … wait for it … meatloaf. Possibly, the exact opposite of a nice bowl of rotini, a bit of mozzarella, a few olives and a couple tsp’s of sauce. I hadn’t run far or hard enough to tap into my protein supply – of which I had plenty – and had burned all my carbs (if I hadn’t quit drinking for two weeks, there would have been plenty). My plan at mile 7 was to was to load up on Gatorade at the next break and pack in some GU when I could (word on the street was they would have GU at 8, 10 and 12).

Problem #1: No Gatorade. Somehow, in their quest for sponsors, Elite racing [who also manage all the Rock’n’Roll Marathons and Half-Marathons (of which this is one, but Jeff won’t give up their naming rights, just yet)] didn’t sign up Gatorade, or even Power-Ade, but instead went with … Amino Vital.

WTF!!!???

Amino Vital???!!!
Sounds like some barely legal male enhancement substance the WWE would endorse!!!

Plus, as I found out at mile seven, it tasted like someone puking a pitcher of Kamikaze’s into your mouth!!! I would take a pass at further tables … there would be GU to make up for it.

Let me not forget to mention the VERY EXCELLENT blues / funk band playing between 6 & 7.

I hadn’t trained with GU this year but was well familiar for my triathlon days. My tummy would have a “Hey, I remember you!!” moment

As I waddled from miles seven through ten, the day of moderate triumph I had planned was now done. Without my pace-turtle, my brain had left, my tummy was in revolt, my hips, thighs and calves were cramping and un-cramping in a round robin tournament of “who can fuck Randy up the most?” The highlight – if you could find one - of the agony of the second 5 miles was that, yes, the Piper was on the Bridge.

[Look it up, the dude’s been there, since the beginning as far as I know]

The “one thing” about the Philadelphia Distance Run / Thomas Jefferson Half Marathon is that the halfway point ISN’T at 6.55 miles … It’s when you cross the Falls River Bridge. The course is a double loop - an out & back; then further out & back again. You are never really on your way home until you cross the bridge, pass the piper, and head down Kelly Drive – named for Jack Kelly, Princess Grace’s dad.


I actually sprinted to get myself a 10-mile clock time of 2 hours. Sure, my “chip time” deficit may have been 5-8 minutes, but at this point it meant nothing. I was 20 minutes behind my Broad Street time, and I felt 400% worse than I did at this point in May. When we finished that race, I think Annie and I could have gone another 3.1 miles easily. At this point, in September, heading now down to the finish with the other walking, struggling, and - more importantly - silent BOP’s, I couldn’t imagine how I had gotten through the last three miles, and had 3 more to go.

2006 Philadelphia Distance Run - Part One

The Warm-up

Even as I waited for the train Saturday afternoon, to go over to the Convention Center to pick up my number, I had no idea how I was going to get to the race the next day.

In the past, when the Philadelphia Distance Run started on Market Street, the Expo was in either the Ben Franklin Hotel on 17th & The Parkway or at the Marriott on Market. It was a pretty simple decision: take the train. But, with the Start / Finish at the Art Museum, I had to either, drive over park and walk; or drive to the train and walk just about the same distance. The deal maker would be timing.

I could figure it out on the way home from the Expo.

I got my number, my chip, my 2006 T-shirt and proceeded to browse the Expo. I considered purchasing a pint and / or shot glass, but after putting out $14 for three 2005 left-over shirts, that was a bit much. Besides, I could always get them on line later.

On the way home, I consulted the train schedule. If I took the 6AM train, I would be in town by 6:30 and – with a half hour walk to the Art Museum – I could be in place by 7:00 with plenty of time to warm up. Missing the 6 though, would move everything back ½ an hour … too close.

Six o’clock it would be; 5:30 departure; 5AM wake-up.

“If I know you - you have your equipment organized in your head if not already out and ready to be packed” Annabelle had e-mailed me Wednesday. I was already ahead of her. I put all my gear for Sunday in the wash Tuesday. I had my pre-race, race and post-race gear all settled upon. [I would wear the same thing as Broad Street – Cerveza tank, etc.]. My back pack was packed: towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, change of socks all accounted for. My MP3 player was loaded. I was as ready as I would be.

As I lay in bed, and the doubts started, I thought of three e-mails from my coach.

“Not running will have little effect at this point - honestly!” She had said when I missed a couple workouts around Labor Day, due to a cold I caught on the ride home from Bingo. I couldn’t tell if she meant that missing wouldn’t make things worse; or that adding miles wouldn’t help any.

“Anyways - Not to worry - you'll do fine. Anyone who has run the miles that you have covered this summer, who can throw his bike over a fence and ride around in the mud [BMX reference] and has your attitude, can do a little old race like this one. Keep with your current plan - don't wear anything new - stop at the water stops and walk a few steps while you drink - you need to stay hydrated and the best way to do this is walk and get the fluids down.”

“Eighty degrees [the forecast] is pretty hot - you may want to consider starting out slower than you planned if it is that hot - you will make up the time on the end if you can. If you start out to fast you may not have that option at the end to make up the time. If you start out slow and stay that way the entire race, that is also okay - speed goes down as temp goes up. You probably already know all this, but just in case.”

I fell asleep with two final thoughts of my own:

1) NOT finishing was NOT an option.
2) Visualize success.

###

I woke up in the dark. I brushed my teeth and took a shower – a courtesy I was sure many of the 15,000 I’d be spending my morning with hadn’t considered. After dressing, I took a quick look on weather.com for the current temperature.

60°

Uh-oh.

I put a pair of small apples and a bottle of water into my backpack for the ride over. I left the house at exactly 5:30.

I left the house again at exactly 5:35 after I realized that I had forgotten my wallet, and turned back.

This was going to be a long day

###

The sun was just coming up as the train crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge. I got off at 13th Street. I figured that, with a walk through the underground concourse, it would be the closest stop to the end of the parkway nearest City Hall.

The crowd was gathering and moving up the Parkway to the Start. Some were even running, as if 13.1 miles wouldn’t be enough for them today.
I got to Eakins Oval around 7 and found a nice place to stretch out, near the George Washington statue. After stretching, I txt’d Annabelle, put my phone away, and pulled out a pair of Sharpies. I had seen in the “Race Together” forum on CoolRunning.com, that one of the members would be starting in the same corral as me [#9]. Using a green and a purple Sharpie, I tagged “400 BEERS” on my left calf … a little self-promotion wouldn’t hurt, would it???