Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: Gilroy Garlic Festival

I went to the Gilroy Garlic Festival a few days ago, ready and excited to enjoy the art, and especially the food. I really feel like a total grouch and snob saying this, but the food was total SHIT!! The ambiance…not so impressive either.

Problem #1: no competition for food selection
What I mean is that there was only one place for guacamole, one place for stuffed mushrooms, one place for garlic ice cream, one place for egg rolls, one place for EVERYTHING at the festival. The bottom line is this: If I was able to compete against the Gilroy Boy Scouts for stuffed mushrooms at the festival, then there would be a 15 minute line in front of my stand, and a 0 minute line at theirs. Unfortunately, the stuffed mushroom stand has a lockdown on mushrooms, which means they can sell raw and crunchy mushrooms filled with 90% parmesan, 9% ricotta, and 1% parsley like it was Teddy Ruxpin in 1985. And yes, I figured out your recipe in six bites. And no, this stuffed mushroom won’t chew your ear off while telling you sweet bedtime stories from a cassette tape…

Problem #2: Overhyped media attention
I live in California and do consulting work in the energy industry. So I work with a lot of Texans. All the way out in Texas I have co-worker that saw some show on TV that highlighted the Gilroy Garlic Festival. This Texan had actually considered taking his wife on a vacation to California to experience the garlic festival. Yeah…BIG MISTAKE. Good thing he only THOUGHT of the vacation. My best guess for why a TV program would highlight the garlic festival… Why not? I mean, you have to show something on your network every day. And why not waste some hour talking about a garlic festival in California and over-hyping it so that your TV show sounds like they know of all the awesome food capitals of the world? Sounds like a good plan to me. Another good plan would be to remain skeptical of things that sound too good to be true. I don’t mean to be a downer, so please imagine delicious lasagna for a second and smile…

Problem #3: Arts and crafts lacking
I have to admit that I may have had unrealistic expectations about the arts and crafts. If by unrealistic expectations you mean that everything didn’t look like grandma made it, then yes I did. I really love my grandma, so don’t get me wrong. I prominently display the wine glasses that she made me in my living room. And I hold onto the memories of growing up in her presence very dearly. But at the same time, I don’t want to wear her cooking apron, and I don’t want her embossed toad basketball player figurine (yes, she has one). ‘Nuff said.

Problem #4: Creepy dude on the way out…

This might be the most minimal flaw of the festival. But at the same time this flourish was cinema-like in its ability to cement an experience into my conscience. As I walked up the final hill on the way out there was this fat, sweaty dude with a two-wheeled ice cream cart making grunt noises and rhythmically shaking his bell-laden cart every ten seconds. It was as if he was the candy stand which entices children at the end of a shopping experience (or sometimes entices me). It would have been the perfect lure for people after being exhausted from hanging out for hours at a festival in 100 degree heat and climbing a steep hill for five minutes. Except that it wasn’t. Because he was fu#@in’ creepy. I feel bad for creepy dudes. He was probably a really sweet guy. Sorry bro.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

People That Beat You

Today I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon. Also running was my brother and a couple friends. It was awesome weather for running, and I feel pretty good about my finishing time. But we'll get to that in a minute. After finishing, I walked to a position about 200 yards from the finish line and waited for my brother. To pass the time, I decided to start a collage of people that finished before him. I do want to say that my brother is a total stud for finishing. He's not a runner. He's 6'2" and 240 pounds. His sport is karate (he's a 3rd degree black belt), and I guess since I'm his younger brother and he used to like to beat me up a lot, my sport is running. Running from an ass whooping...

I should also mention that the people below are also studs too. Hell, they are 200 yards from completing a half marathon. But hey, they beat my 33-year old brother. So I'm going to make fun of him for it.

I finished with a time of 1:37:42, which breaks down to a 7:28 average mile pace. Of course I'd like to be faster, but this will do for now. My goal is to break 1:25:00. My brother came in at 2:45:58. Congrats to everyone that finished!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rain or Shine, Bitches!!

I'm working on a project based in Houston, which means I'm often flying back and forth between California and Texas. For the last three months though I have been fortunate enough to travel to New York every week. NY is a hell of a lot more exciting than Houston. In terms of beauty, Houston doesn't have much going for it. It's a huge sprawl, it's got crappy weather, and there are no mountains, lakes, or really anything of scenic allure. But what Houston has going for it are my friends. And especially my workout crew. Over the last few months we've managed to consistently pull together a group for interval training.

The group dynamic is always so fun when it comes to intervals. There are always a couple guys really pushing to round up a group, then there are the guys that show up for a good workout if a big enough group emerges, and then there are the guys that are peer pressured by everyone else to get their ass to the track! This last set of guys genuinely want to get a good workout, but you first have to refute every argument they come up with for not being able to make it. Once that is out of the way they come out and have a great time.

This evening we somehow rounded up seven guys to head to the track while a storm was hitting. I'm talking streets flooding and lightning. We lost one of the guys due to the "it's raining" excuse. We tried to get him to come around with the argument, "When it isn't raining outside it's 90 degrees with 90% humidity. So you're soaking wet after 10 minutes anyway."

Alas, the argument did not win him over. Oh well...guess who's getting shit from everyone tomorrow? That dude. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mark: 1 vs. Children: 1

There are a number of success factors that I consider when determining if I am happy with my race performance. One of them being the question "Did any children beat me?"

I don't know what children do these days, but I'm pretty sure they shouldn't be crossing the finish line before me. A few months ago I ran in a 10k with 2800 other male runners. During the run I was a bit surprised when at mile 3 I encountered a child in front of me. I passed him. And then after feeling pretty proud of myself I passed another child at mile 4. As I wondered if the kid was just one of those guys that grew a beard at age 11, he coughed. A very high-pitched cough. Like his voice hadn't changed what happens when you hit puberty.

After the race, a quick search of the results revealed that I got schooled by three children. Two 13-year olds and a 12-year old. The fastest of them beat me by 1 minute 14 seconds. The score at that point in time was Mark: 0 vs. Children: 1.

This last weekend I ran in my first 10k since getting beat by children. And I stand triumphant before you this day as I declare that I kicked their asses. All of them. Mark: 1 vs. Children: 1. Next race I'm pulling ahead. Watch and learn, children.