Monday, October 15, 2012

Prairie Fire Half Marathon: I Hate Stairs

It all started with a bet. It always does. A friend and I were just talking back and forth about I forget what. We kind of knew that running a half marathon was on each other’s bucket list. So why not get it over with sooner rather than later? We found out that there were two half marathons on back to back days. He lived in Florida and there was one in October 13th. I was in Wichita and there was one scheduled on October 14th. We decided, “What the hell, let’s just do it.” The bet was then formalized to keep each other accountable. Person who does not finish the half marathon has to shave their head. That is ultimately what got me to this morning, October 15th feeling like crap but with a whole head of hair.
I’m not big on practicing and training. According to my iPhone app, between the day the bet was made and the day before the Prairie Fire Half Marathon, I ran seven times, never more than 4.47 miles and less than 2.53 miles. I ran one time in the month of October and one time in the month of September and that was the Susan B Komen race. Needless to say, I was really worried about the Half Marathon. I looked at the map of the race and my jaw hit the floor. You really don’t know how far 13.1 miles is until you draw it out on a map. The night before, I was up until 1 am. I couldn't sleep!!!
Morning hits. I am extremely groggy and on five and a half hours sleep. Shower, put Band-Aids on my nipples, get dressed, eat a peanut butter protein bar and make it out the door and towards downtown. I step out of my car and it was FREEZING. I only had a short sleeve Dri-Fit shirt on and shorts. It was so cold; I almost popped my Band-Aids off without using my fingers!!!

7:55 am, they sing the National Anthem and then it’s game time; people are off running. Another lesson I learned from the River Run was “pace yourself”. Having only ran once this month, I wanted to gradually start slow and just run at that pace. A mile in I was so cold and my fingers were shivering. A guy in front of me ran in only the shortest shorts known to man. I could not have done that.
Insane.....
My first mile clocked in at 10:43. I was thinking to myself “OK Eddy, you are feeling good. Only 12 more to go. You’re not tired whatsoever. Just stay positive, wait…..did I set my fantasy football lineups?” Panic mode set in and I had to text a friend to make sure they were set and then I see the Mile 2 marker ahead of me.
It's not too late to turn around and quit yet!
10:43. OK, I was ten seconds slower than the previous mile. I’m so cool with that. Going into the race, I really thought I’d average 13-14 minute miles. I thought I’d run maybe five and walk a mile, run a mile, walk a mile, run a mile and finish just under three hours. Then it hit me, I had to pee. I saw some port-o-potties but the lines were ridiculous. I knew there was a Kwik Shop not too far up on Douglas. I ran right up to it and used the men’s bathroom. Of course with my luck, there’s a spider in the urinal. It occurred to me there are some species of spiders that came jump. So I stepped a couple feet back to pee and if the janitor of Kwik Shop is reading this, I apologize.
If that spider jumps on me,
I'm quitting the race.
Three mile marker and that was at 12:23. That mile would end up being my slowest marker. The next 3-4 miles would take me through College Hill where I saw many friends just sitting in their driveway, cheering people on. It was a pleasant site to see. It gave me added energy to continue running and not stopping. Of course, I also did not want any pictures being taken of me walking or looking like I was about to puke.
Foreshadowing?
After seven miles I was 1:16:59 in and my delirious math thought that 8 miles was the halfway point. 13 divided by 2 is not 8. But at that point, I was thinking 8 miles was the halfway point so I was pushing hard to get to that point. Soon enough, I reached it. My eighth mile was also my fastest mile at 10:31. Not fast by most runners but for me, that’s lightning quick!
Haha!! Dolly Parton left her bra behind!
Finally I was telling myself. “Eddy, you’re halfway there. You have 8 down and only 5 to go.” I know….the math doesn’t make sense. Just roll with it. On my way towards mile 9, I texted one of my friends who lived in a downtown apartment to come outside. Along the way near there were a fire truck at Douglas and Washington. People were giving away free bottled water. A few feet past them were people giving away “Gu”. What is GU? Gu is an energy gel that provides athletes with a dose of 100 calories to deliver high-quality, easily digested and long lasting energy for athletes in every sport and at all levels. That’s what their website says at least. I decided to grab a GU instead of the water. Worst decision of the race. I tried the GU and it had a very chalky taste in my mouth and made me feel very thirsty. I threw three quarters of it away; it was so nasty. Instead I reached into my pocket and grabbed these runners jellybeans I saw at Dicks Sporting Good. They were actually quite delicious and gave me some added hydration and energy unless it was just my mind playing tricks on me.
The funniest sign I saw that I forgot to take a picture of said "Sweat is Sexy". I almost responded, "How about tears?" (I felt like crying). But the signholder was probably 9 years old.
Next thing I know, I’m at mile 10 in 1:50:02. At this point, I could feel my legs starting to get tired. I had been running this whole time without stopping. I amazed myself. I was telling myself to continue running until the Mile 11 marker. Then God sent me a sign.
FREE BEER
This is when I thought to myself WWMRD, What Would Most Runners Do?
DUH!
Every runner I saw ran right past it. I thought it was kind of rude and graciously took Not one but two to make up for the person ahead of me who passed. They stood out there all morning with beer to support the runners, who am I to say no? The best part? They didn’t even card me. I chugged both cups down. A hundred feet later, I started to regret it. I was getting thirsty and noticed that I wasn’t sweating through most of the race. Was I dehydrated?
Mile 11 was 12:17. I had to stop running not too long after drinking the beer. My legs were giving out on me. “Only 2.1 more miles” is what I kept telling myself. I walked a little more and then lightly jogged. It was around this time I saw a lady with a 02:30 sign. It took me a minute to figure out what that meant. Her “pacer” shirt gave it away. She was running at a pace to finish at 2:30…well ahead of the goal I set myself. At that point I thought to myself two things 1.) I HAVE to beat a 2:30 pace and 2.) Has she really been holding that sign the ENTIRE race?
Mile 12 was completed in 12:12. I had only one mile left to go. The 2:30 pacer was about 10 yards in front of me. I then digged down deep and forced myself to “sprint” the rest of the mile. I say that loosely because my mind was saying “Sprint Eddy Sprint! But my body was saying “You can screw yourself Eddy!”. In reality, it was a quick jog. I pulled out my cell phone and looked at it as my mileage marker went from 12.20 miles to 12.30 miles to 12.41 miles to 12.5 miles. Then I tried my hardest to kick it to a higher gear for the final .6 miles. Having what looked like hundreds of people along the side taking pictures really helped. There weren’t really many people ahead of me or even behind me. I started to wonder if I was dreaming this whole thing but the constant pain in my quad nixed the whole dream situation.
Reaching the bridge on Waterman St was like seeing Heaven open up from the clouds except St. Peter wasn’t waiting for me…..Gatorade and Orange Slices were. I saw the clock ahead of me tick up and up. I ran as fast as I could………….AND FINISHED! My final time was 2:27 and lots of seconds.
WINNING!
Upon reaching my end goal, the first thing I looked for was my damn participation medal. That’s all I wanted until a friend I saw told me to get Gatorade so I grabbed that too along with a t-shirt. Took a couple pictures with people and walked to my car where I seriously sat for a couple minutes just letting it all soak in. It really felt great to finish the Half Marathon. The sense of accomplishment was up there. I would put it past Winning the Spelling Bee on my list of Top Life Competitive Accomplishments.
Today, I feel great but my legs feel miserable. Walking down the stairs is one of the hardest things to do. I hate stairs. Thank you to Henry Waterman, Elisha Otis, Werner von Siemens, J.W. Meaker, and Alexander Miles. Those were the people who are all credited with helping invent modern day elevators. I wonder how good people feel who actually trained for it. I bet they feel like a million bucks. Me? Well let’s quote one of my friends from yesterday, “You look like you’re walking with a stick up your ass.” Yeah, that’s what it looked like I’m sure.
So what’s next for me? A marathon? I don’t think so. 13.1 miles is a lot of running. I don’t envision myself running a full marathon unless I one night make a stupid bar bet with friends. Would I do a half marathon again? Probably. It’s two hours and 27 minutes of total suck but once it’s over with, you’re glad you did it. Kind of like how I felt every day I went to college classes. Two hours and 27 minutes of suck each day but once I finished it, I was glad I did it to graduate. Kind of like watching the first half of every Chiefs game. Two hours and 27 minutes of suck but once I finished, I’m glad I was entertained to see how bad an NFL team is.
In closing, I want to thank everybody who I saw on the sides cheering for people throughout the race. I saw college friends, high school friends, pickup basketball opponents, acquaintances, and even one of my old high school teachers. Well old as in that long ago from high school………… Hearing people cheer really does give you motivation and energy, something a GU Energy Gel can’t.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go take these Band-Aids off.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bann Thai Restaurant Reviewed

Ever have one of those moments where you’re just driving around during lunch time and your stomach starts to grumble? You’re panicking and rushing to find a place to eat since you don’t have much time? You drive by so many places but since you’re so hungry you can’t make up your mind? We’ve all been there…. I know I’ve been there at least 100 times.
This past week, that was me, driving around the 21st and Woodlawn area, looking for a place to eat before I was back in to work. Then I saw this sign for a place I have never been to.
Bann Thai Restaurant
6249 E 21st St
Wichita, KS 67208
(316) 239-6485
Bann Thai is the Siam Cuisine which I actually went to for soup a handful of times a few years ago. It’s located just west of Woodlawn on the south side of 21st street in the same “strip” as Da Cajun Shak. Bann Thai is on the west end of the little strip so it’s hard to see off of 21st street. I pulled up and saw their sign that says “Bann Thai “A Taste of Thai” Restaurant. Suddenly it occurred to me, “Eddy…. You like Thai Food, you should go in!”

That afternoon my mind and stomach were on the same wavelength. Walking in the place was very festive; it was filled with Halloween and Asian decorations. I believe a witch was inside too because if you look at the picture above, her broom was parked out front!!! Get it?!?!
Ok….moving on……….


I get seated and am immediately greeted and given water. I’m in sort of a rush so I just order their Pad Thai lunch special (spicy) and that comes with a small salad, soup of the day, and a side of steamed rice. The soup of the day was a creamy potato which was actually quite delicious. The salad was alright, nothing to write home about.
The service was extremely friend. They made it a point to make sure refills were always poured in a timely manner, check up on me, and even strike up good conversation. One of the ladies there told me they have been open since around May (just an FYI).
When the food came up, I was ready to dig in. First bite was the steamed rice. It was….well….. It’s steamed rice. If you mess that up, you should not be serving food. Finally the Pad Thai was next. For the record, the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had in Wichita was at Thai Traditions. Since then I’ve had it at countless of places and no place compares. After a few bites, the Pad Thai wasn’t spicy as I imagined it’d be when I ordered it. It wasn’t full of flavor but on the flipside it wasn’t horrible. I have definitely had worst. To me, it could be described average at best. I finished what I could, paid my tab and left.
I waited a few days to write this review to see if my opinion on Bann Thai would improve after sleeping on it. It didn’t. I wanted to like the place because the ladies working there were so friendly, it was a close distance to work but the food was just not impressive. Based on the service alone, I would be willing to go back and see if something else I order is better. I don’t know.
A couple friends of mine have gone there in the past month and gave me their opinions. One said the food was average but the manager was really nice; the other said the service was average and the food was good. Mind you, these two friends went together at the same time. So that is two mixed opinions on the same visit.
If any of you have ever gone there, I’d love to read what you think about the place. I’m sure I’ll go there again sometime just to try something else.
Here is the lunch menu for those interested:


So up next is the Prairie Fire Half Marathon. I’m all signed up and “not” ready to run this Sunday. Let’s just say in the past month, I would not need all fingers on one hand to count the number of times I’ve ran. Pray for me readers. Pray for me.
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Timbuktu Bar and Grill in Andover Reviewed

Timbuktu Bar and Grill
1251 N. Andover Road
Andover, KS 67002
316-773-5630
Way out yonder in a city called Andover just minutes outside of East Wichita sits a little bar and grilled called Timbuktu. Through all my time in college and post college, I’ve heard many good things about this place but could not just ever find the time to make the drive. It has a strong reputation for being one of the best burgers in town amongst many friends of mine along with food reviews I've read.
Well one Friday evening, I finally made it out there. I was accompanied by a handful of friends in celebration of our Aerosmith ticket purchase. There was one other person in our group that has never been to Timbuktu before so I wasn’t alone in this adventure.
We arrived around dinner time and decided to sit on the outside patio. Due to the gorgeous weather, the patio was packed. Every single table was taken except for one which I was able to nab. Timbuktu has that hole in the wall bar feel to it that I really love; a place where the servers know all the regulars and vice versa. (Insert cliché’ Cheers comparisons). We even ran into some other friends who were there, and the servers immediately came up to them and made them feel extremely welcome.
The Corn Fritters
Everybody immediately ordered a big beer…… well except for the two year old at our table. He didn’t have a fake I.D. For an appetizer, I started off with a side of corn fritters because I’ve never had them.  After a quick Wikipedia search, I was informed they are a mixture of corn kernels, egg, flour, milk and melted butter. They can be deep fried, shallow fried, or baked. The corn fritters at Timbuktu were served with ranch dressing. I’m not sure if it was because I was starving or they were just that good, but I found them to be delectably appetizing; others at the table agreed.
As for dinner, everybody ordered essentially the same thing: a Timbuktu Burger either with or without cheese. One of us even braved the Double, a one pound serving. Of course, I had to make sure everybody ordered the jalapeno relish as it was extremely popular according to other reviews I read. The burger is advertised as coming served on a fresh hamburger bun, served with potato chips and fresh dill pickle slices. Fresh onions and jalapeno relish are served on request. I believe nobody ordered chips, instead substituting with fries or onion rings.
For the amount of people there, the food surprisingly didn’t take that long. One of the guys at our table thought it felt like at least 25 minutes. So I could be wrong there; I just purchased the iPhone 5 that morning so I was still playing around with it.

Can you handle a ONE POUND
burger?
First bite into the burger and I was pleased with it. That is probably the best way to put it. I am not sure I would call it the best burger in town unless I am referring to only Andover but it’s not a bad burger by any means. I’d still rank places like Oasis, TJ’s, and Ty’s above Timbuktu. What gave extra points to the taste was the jalapeno relish which I absolutely loved. It’s something everybody should definitely try if they ever go.
One person at our table actually puts the jalapeno relish into her beer. Kind of like a “red beer” but with jalapeno relish so I’m not sure what the technical name would be…… (At the time of me writing this I took ten minutes to come up with some really witty to call the beer but drew total blanks. So moving on…….)
The fries were ok, nothing memorable. I can’t even remember now what they tasted like. The bun? Not good at all. Here’s what one of my friends said regarding the bun, “The bun was terrible – like the Always Save buns at the grocery store. Dry and no substance.” To add to his bun comments, he thought the hamburger meat was average at best. The fried onions he ordered could have used more time in the grill. Overall he was disappointed with the burger after hearing great things about it. I was kind of in the same boat even after one friend warned me to keep expectations low. 

The best part of the meal:
The Jalapeno Relish
Another friend felt that over the past year, their meat quality has been lacking. It’s been more gristle which she hates. But she does love the atmosphere and fried mushrooms and thinks it’s still a good burger. Her family still votes Timbuktu their favorite burger place. Her husband added that the staff is very kid friendly.

The one sentiment we all agreed on is that cash only sucks. One of the guys didn’t even know about that and fortunately one of our friends is a Mexican Drug Lord and was able to spot him the money; that or he just likes to carry cash on him at all times.

Timbuktu has the atmosphere that many bar patrons who like to just go somewhere and have a beer and chat with friends would love. It’s comparable to the old Cedar in many ways. I wish there was a place like that within walking distance from my house. The burger, at least in most of our opinions, is not something you’d go out of your way for. There are so many reviews out there that describe this place as “The Best Burger”. It may be on their list of the best burgers but it's not on mine. My advice? Keep your expectations low if you decide to venture to A-Town as many of my Andover friends describe the city.
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