Sunday, November 27, 2011

Danish Beers

I have a really good friend who married a girl from Denmark.  On their last trip up there he was kind enough to round up a few Danish beers for me and wanted me to try them.  I was impressed with a couple of these and not so much with the rest.  From what I can tell though Denmark has a pretty varied brewing culture with lots of small breweries producing obscure brews and a few big breweries producing some in mass quanties, almost makes me wish we had taken a trip up there.  Oh well, here is what I thought of the beers that I did get.

Fynsk Forar Hydleblomst Ale -  This appears to be a summer ale from Denmark. The label proudly proclaims it as a European Beer Star 2008 Tasting Gold Award winner.  It pours a cloudy straw yellow with some hints of orange.  The head is slightly off white and disappeared quickly.  The aroma is spicy citrus, somewhat reminiscent of a wheat beer.  The taste is sweet and caramelly with hints of fruits.  A little bit of hops comes in at the crisp finish.  This would be a great beer for drinking after mowing the yard on a hot summer day.  It came in a .5L bottle and at only 5.0% alcohol is something that can sipped on for awhile, definitely deserving of it's Gold Award, if only I had another one .

Vestfyen Willemoes Ale - This is a dark brown ale from Denmark.  It pours a dark brown with hints of red throughout the body.  The head was beige in color and very thin, dissolving rapidly with just some lacing on the sides of the glass.   The aroma is sweet and rich.  The taste is of well roasted malted caramel with hints of brown sugary sweetness.  Not much hops bitterness in this one.   The strength of the roasted malts is pretty overwhelming.

Ceres Bering Bryg -   This beer is supposedly from the Royal Brewery of Denmark.  Some reviews I've read called it a sweet stout, sounds good to me.  This beer pours a very dark chocolate with some hints of red throughout the body.  The head was thin to nonexsistent.  The aroma is very sweet.  That sweetness hits you in the face immediately, giving this beer an almost liqueur like taste.  The finish is wet and crisp with some alcohol overtones.  Wow this beer is really really sweet.  At times I almost thought I was sipping a spiced rum and coke.  In fact the sweetness was almost overbearing and ended up dumping this beer after a few drinks.  Alcohol abuse I know but I really couldn't take it anymore.

Wilbroe Argangsol 2011 - This beer is brewed by the Carlsberg brewery in Denmark.  I've seen it described as a malt liquer on some beer rating sites but Carlsberg calls it Pilsner.  I'm not sure it's a Pilsner but I don't think it's a malt liquer.  To begin with this beer has 10.6% alcohol by volume, so it packs a little bit of a punch.  It pours a clear copper red with a very thin head that dissolves almost immediately with some very fine lacing on the sides of the glass.  The aroma is very sweet.  That carries over into the taste which is sweet caramally malts, almsot reminiscent of a Marzen.  The finish though is where you find the alcohol and it lingers and lingers, although not overbearing.  A pretty interesting beer that you can only drink a little bit of.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kulmbacher - Kapuziner Weiss Biers

Kapuziner Brauerei is the wheat beer or weissbier producing subsidary of Kulmbacher Brauerei.  I've tried all of the other Kulmbacher beers but haven't tried any of the Kapuziner imprint.  Here is what I thought:

Kapuziner Weissbier - This beer pours a cloudy orange with a very generous head that crested the rim of the glass but held it's shape.  The head gradually dissolves, leaving lots of lacing on the sides.  Cloves, spices and fruits dominate the aroma.  The first taste is one of cloves and hints of bananas and orange.  The finish is crisp and clean with a fruity after taste.  A pretty decent weissbier.

Kapuziner Weissbier Dunkel - A dark chocolately brown with a generous beige head that hung around for awhile.  The aroma is of roasted wheat and slightly smoky.  The taste is cloves and bananas and the finish is crisp and clean. Not my favorite dunkel wiesse but not bad either.

Kapuziner Winter Weissbier - This beer pours a dark cloudy orangish brown with a generous beige head that dissolves down to about a finger width.  The aroma is spices and cloves.  The taste is citrus and bananas.  The finish is crisp and clean with hints of spices lingering.  An interesting winter wheat.

Kapuziner Kristall Weisse - This beer pours a clear dark amber with slightly off white head that dissolves quickly leaving lots of lacing on the sides of the glass.  Aroma is cloves and fruits...oranges and bananas?  The taste is more of the same cloves and citrus.  The finish is light and very crisp.  This one was my probably my favorite Kapuziner.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Athens Classic Marathon Recap

Well I've had a few days to reflect on the Athens Classic Marathon and during that time the screaming in my quads has subsided and I think I can look back with a slightly clearer head.  Here's the recap.

On the morning of race day, me and the two other guys that were running the marathon got up around 4 am and had a light breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee to wake up.  We then made the 15 minute walk to the pick up point where the busses would take us to the start point at Marathon Stadium.  After about a 40 minute drive we arrived at Marathon.  The first thing that we noticed was the light drizzle that was being blown sideways by the gale force winds.  Great this is going to be fun.

We grabbed plastic bags from the volunteers to keep us dry and we quickly found shelter under the stands of the stadium.  While we waited for the 8:30 bag drop, we stretched, tried to stay loose and debated how much clothes we wanted to wear.  I'd purposely left my tights back in Germany, thinking it wouldn't be too bad, but I did have a have a long sleeve technical shirt and a long sleeve half zip outer shirt, my warm up pants are way to baggy for me to run in so I knew it was going to just be shorts for me.

Here's a picture of some of the other runners from Vilseck, two
of them were my neighbors and the others where from my old
Squadron in 2 CR.
Just before bag drop time I went to the porta john for that last minute download and that's where things started to get interesting.  As I was trying to get all of my layers off/down my gel bottle fell off my race belt and plop! Right into the blue water of the porta john. Great.  There was only going to be one gel station on the route and I'd wanted to make sure I didn't have to rely on it.  Now I was going to have to ration my gel and pick up more than one packet at the only gel point at around mile 15/16.
I dropped my bag having made the decision to run in the long sleeve shirt and the half zip.  We then ran into/met up with several other runners from the Vilseck/Graf area.  All told there were probably 13-15 runners from the area there for the race.  There were blocks that the runners had to go into to start and then it would be a rolling start.  Blocks were determined by your finish time from your last marathon.  This is where we all got split up as we headed to our specific blocks.

9 am start time.  The gun went off and everyone takes off.  I was in Block 4 and I finally crossed the start line at about 9:05.  I weaved through the crowd trying to find my stride, which I finally hit when I got on the sidewalk and started to pass everyone.  The first 10k is basically a gentle downhill slope.  We looped around the the tomb of the Greek Soldiers who died at the Battle of Marathon and then we started a gentle up hill climb. 

At the 10k mark I was feeling good running at a avg 8:30 pace which is a little faster than I wanted to be but I was comfortable.  The weather had started to clear and I was starting to think I had overdressed and having some thoughts about finishing under 4 hours.

At the half way point is about where things started to go to hell.  The weather had gotten worse again with wind gusts of 20-30 mph with a continuous light drizzle and the temp seemed to be dropping.  I had started fighting some calf cramps around mile 12 but I had stopped and stretched and seemed to be working through them pretty well.  I crossed the halfway marker just under 2 hours, still on pace for a sub 4 hour.  Little did I know what was about to hit me.

According to International Association of Athletics Federations the Athen's Classic Marathon includes the toughest mid race climb in any major marathon. Here are the charts from my Garmin.
First 13 miles, not bad. Mile 14 to mile 20, this sucks.  Mile 20 to the finish, it's all downhill!
The climb from the 6 mile mark to the halfway point isn't too bad.  It's the almost 900ft in elevation change from mile 12 to mile 19.5 that really kills you.  If you don't think that's too bad check out the grades below.
The grade chart demonstrates that many of those uphills are actually short .25-.5 mile grades of almost 10% or greater in some cases followed by an equally short steep downhill.  Those short ascents and descents played hell with my quads and it was right around the 20% grade at mile 17 where everything fell apart.

At mile 17 I stopped to stretch my calves again and all of a sudden it wasn't just my calves, it was my quads, my hamstring, AND my groin.  Basically my whole left leg was a taken over by muscle spasms and cramps.  In all of my athletic endevours I have never felt anything quite like it.  I was leaning against the metal guardrail in the median and pounding on it in pain, thinking that I was going to end up at the medic station waiting on the Sag Wagon bus to take me to the finish.  The cramps gradually subsided though and I decided I would walk until I felt like I could shuffle/run again. 

Statue of Pheidippides along side the route.  He died after
running from Marathon to Athens to give news of a Athenian
At around mile 19 I actually saw 3 busses full of people who had called it a day and at that point I was cold, wet, miserable and the wind was whipping pretty bad and it took all of my intestinal fortitude to not call it a day.  But as I've said before I'm too damn stubborn (or dumb depending on how you look at it) to quit so I kept driving on, besides in only a mile it would become all downhill too the finish line.
Can you tell I'm struggling here?
I made it to the downhill portion and I managed to pick up the pace to a shuffle/slow run and I was actually able to hold it all the way to the finish.
I have never been so happy to see a finish line in my life.  I picked up the pace as I headed into the stadium but had to shut it down again as my legs started cramping again, although I did cross the finish line at slow run.  I was very disappointed with my 4:59:48 finish but considering the course and weather I'll take it.
A view of the finish area at Panathinaikon Stadium
from across the street a couple of days prior to the race
This was a well run race event with over 8500 runners for the marathon.  It is an IAAF Gold Label Race so it's well supported.  The course is completely closed from Marathon all the way into the Athens' City Center.  Aid stations were well stocked with water, although it was in bottles and not cups, with alternating stations having sports drinks and bananas.  The race expo had lots of cool gear and exhibits with several booths from marathons across Europe.  I was disappointed in the photography of the event.  The photographers, and there were a lot, only managed to capture photos of me crossing the finish line from a distance and at the edge of the shot, even though there were plenty of photographers at ground level and at other points throughout the course.  Oh well.

This was a fun race and if the weather had been different I think I would have had a better experience.  Average temps in Athens during November are in the mid 60's, it was in the high 40's low 50's on race day.  The sheer history of the event makes it worth doing.  I'd recommend though that this not be someone's first marathon and that they train for hills (something I really didn't do) and that you really pace yourself to the half way point (something I also didn't do) because that's where this race will get you.

I really need to wash the taste of this race out of my mouth.  I'm thinking but Shantel and I have both agreed that races between October and May are not good because of the unpredicatability of the weather.  With that said, there is the Olathe Chamber of Commerce Oz Marathon next April 21st.  That's almost May, right?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Athen's Classic Marathon

Well  I should be getting started in the Athen's Classic Marathon right about now.  I'm looking to run a sub 4 hour race and hopefully I'm pretty close to a 3:45 but we'll see.  Take a look at the elevation chart and you'll see my concerns.

Downhill for the first 6 miles and then it's uphill for the next 14 until you cruise the last 6 miles downhill to the finish line.  Sounds easy right?  Well that uphill will be tough on my quads and normally I would stride out the downhills but after 20 miles I'll be lucky to be doing more than shuffling which will then be even worse on the quads and knees.  Sounds like a good time doesn't it.

With all of that said here's the actual run course from Marathon into downtown Athens.  Hopefully we avoid any protesters!

26.2 miles of pure fun

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Marathon Training

Last week was a good week.  I really enjoy tapering down leading up to a Marathon or long distance triathalon.

This week is more of the same.  A mile of strides on Tuesday a short run with strides on Thursday and a two mile jog on Saturday, all in an effort to keep the legs loose.  Since we are traveling all day Thursday I don't I get that run in and we'll be doing some walking and sight seeing on Friday and Saturday so we'll see if I get the run in on Saturday.  I bet I get something in since one of the guys we are going with is a super fitness guy so he'll probably have me and the other marathoner out early every morning for one of his "light" workouts.

4x400 SI
3 miles
6x100 S
2-mile jog

Special Beer Review - Schloderer Brau

This week's brewery is a local one from Amberg.  We've gone there a couple of times to eat and the food is really good as is the beer.  With a combination like that you can't go wrong!  Here's a more detailed recap of the beer. 

Schloderer Schlodi Kult - This is the helles beer from Schloderer Brau.  It's a little different in that it comes in a .33L bottle instead of the standard .5L bottle.  It pours a darker amber/gold with a very thin head that disappeared quickly leaving some lacing on the sides.  The aroma is hoppy and reminds me of fresh cut grass, not something that normally comes out in a helles.  The taste is more hoppy than other helles I've tried and the finish lingers a little bit.  

Schloderer Weizen - The wheat beer from Schloderer Brau. The body color is a cloudy amber gold. The head was minimal compared to some weizen I've had, but still frothy and generous leaving light lacing on the sides. The aroma is cloves and fruit. The taste is an explosion of cloves and apples. Really good. This is one of my favorite weizens.
Schloderer Dunkel- As the name suggests, this is the Dunkel from Schloderl Brau. It pours a a very dark coffee with a beige head. The head lingers and leaves light lacing even after it disappears. The aroma is chocolaty sweet from the roasted malts and that carries over into the taste. The finish is clean with no hoppy bitterness or after taste. Not a bad dunkel.