Monday, October 18, 2010

Raclette Roll!

It was a tough exercising tonight. Maybe it was 36 hours of the miniest of mini vacations one can take. We drove from Milwaukee to New Glarus for a day & night of fun and frivolity. Have you been to New Glarus? It's a small town with lots of character and a Swiss heritage.

The New Glarus brewery is the main draw, but the little pubs and restaurants in the town are the real stars. After the brewery we hit The Glarner Stube for some more New Glarus Brewing Co. beers and roasted red peppers with garlic in olive oil. This place is a Wisconsin classic; check it out when you can: Then we hit the New Glarus Hotel ( where I had one of my favorite things ever: Raclette! Raclette is actually a soft warm cheese, but dishes that use Raclette may also be called Raclette. The menu's description of it is as follows: Famous Swiss appetizer made with middle aged Raclette cheese melted over boiled potatoes and garnished. Let me tell you, if I had any inclination of ever becoming a vegetarian it would be because of this dish. My Jaeger Schnitzel that followed was darn near as good, but the Raclette...oh my. And it pairs well with beer too. A double-edged fitness killer, but one I can't wait to have again.

To further dig the hole, the hotel had homemade swiss pastries for their Continental breakfast. I am not one to ever pass up a pastry, but these golden delicacies were outstanding. I couldn't stop myself and I reasoned that I need the nourishment for the ensuing 18 holes of golf we were about to play at the Edelweiss Chalet CC ( What a fantastic day it was for golf too. Quiet, sunny, and warm. We breezed through 18 holes with a cart in just a little over 4 hours. And what do you after 18 holes? That's right. Lunch.

Lunch was at another ultra classic: Puempel's Olde Tavern ( This place is like stepping back in time. 150 years worth of time to be exact. Many of the pictures on the wall are over 100 years old of the same tavern! And what kind of classic food can you get at this historic establishment? Sandwiches. Simple, perfect sandwiches. My wife had the braunschweiger and I went with the salami. The salami was stacked about a half-inch thick on a couple slices of rye bread. Squeeze on a couple of the "squishees" (mayo and mustard) as the barkeep called 'em and I was in heaven. Sandwich served with a bag of chips and a pickle. Grand total: $4.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that tonight's run was a tough one, but despite all of the delicasies I enjoyed, I still have to blame the Raclette. Oh my lovely Raclette. I will dream about you tonight.

Last thing, dang I love the state of Wisconsin. There are so many cool, off-beaten-path places to explore and discover. And the natural beauty of this place is truly astounding. It crept up on me over the years, but now I can loudly proclaim that I am proud to call this state my home.

Oh, I almost forgot the fudge. (

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cal Higdon's 3-Miles Per Week Training Program

Who is Cal Higdon, you ask? Well he is none other than the younger, chain-smoking, beer-swilling, and under-appreciated brother of the famed marathoner Hal Higdon ( Cal's instructing methods are revolutionary. I've maintained his traing regimen faithfully all summer to maintain an at-a-moment's notice preparation for any 5K run occurring 6 months from now. Cal teaches one the value of time management. For instance, by running 2 miles instead of 4, one gains X * the number of miles not ran ÷ average mile running pace of beer-drinking time (Math. Don't be intimidated - Cal makes it easy in his book using a 6-pack as an example). Cal's program has saved me from countless hours of running with his straightforward approach.

And it doesn't stop there. I credit Cal with taking my 9:30 per mile pace down to 4:57 with his unique technique. Reading it, you'll think, "Why didn't I think of that?!" Simply, at the start of your run, find a nice, fresh pile of dog mess, step in it, and try to outrun the stink. No duh, right?! I used this method regularly for an entire week and rapidly dropped 4 minutes off of my average pace. Who knows how fast I could have gotten if it wasn't for my wife throwing out my shoes. She thought my foot odor was too strong and storing them under the bed just wasn't appropriate. Women.

And on nutrition - the guy's a friggin' genius. I've ate the biggest, most satiating lunches ever since discovering his simple technique: eat a lunch so big that you cannot possibly lose it all during the evening's run. Added benefit: the lunch you don't lose will serve as a necessary base for a night's worth of drinking. By beer #7, you'll agree - Cal is The Man.

Now excuse me while I begin Chapter 10 - Lose the Popsicle Stick; How to Use a Foam Roller to Remove the Excess Head Off of Your Pint.

Look for Cal's book wherever fine bathroom reading materials are sold.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Joy of Spectating a Marathon

Today I did something that I have never done before - I went to the finishing area of a marathon just to watch. Milwaukee’s Lakefront Marathon to be specific, and, to my delight, it was a genuine joy to witness.

My primary reason for going was to show support for many of the runners and friends that supported me at my first marathon last May [The Wisconsin Marathon May 1st in Kenosha]. However, I was caught off-guard by the spirit and encouragement I suddenly bequeathed to runners unbeknown to me. Smilers, groaners, high-fivers, limpers - all pushing themselves to their limit 100 yards from the 26.2 mile goal. It’s an impressive spectacle.

We watch televised sports to see extraordinary athletes do extraordinary things, but to observe average folks exert every ounce into reaching their Herculean goal is equally interesting. I saw one woman - whose time was quite impressive in the 3:40ish range - dragged across the finish line by 2 of her friends. She must’ve ran an impressive pace, but cramps, dehydration, or fatigue finally caught up with her just yards from the finish line. I couldn’t help but get a lump in my throat watching this - what an amazing sight! Another fellow looked about the same way I did - muscle fatigue finally caught up with him and placing one foot in front of another nearly became impossible. I gave this guy my loudest, “You can do this!!” because I felt like I was yelling at myself. I know EXACTLY how he was feeling.

Then there’s the smilers, laughers, and high-fivers - this breed knows that all of their difficult training over the previous 4 months (or longer!) is about to pay off. They’re pumped. They’re the ones who are going to pass the water, orange juice, and Muscle Milk and head right to the beer stand. They have a reason to celebrate. These people inspire me. I want to be one of them.

So the next time you get the chance, whether you know anybody in the race or not, check out the finish line of a marathon. It’s inexpensive and the range of emotions you will experience will surpass the biggest blockbuster showing at your local cineplex. Heck, you can even bring your own popcorn.