Monday, October 31, 2005

RBD Tour: Season 1

A new Elenbaas tradition has started! Now everyone reading this who is rolling their eyes after that first sentence LISTEN UP. I admit, some Elenbaas traditions are stretches and some are unnecessary, but this new one is awesome and will last a long time. First, the name: RBD stands for Randy Ben Derek and basically just sounds cool. Tour is because it is a travelling tradition, and Season 1 is for the sports analogy. The new and now hyped Elenbaas tradition is for the 3rd generation Michigan fans to take a road trip to see the maize and blue tear up the big ten. Derek, Ben, and I took our first road trip and watched Michigan play Northwestern in Evanston, IL under the lights for an ESPN televised game on Saturday. I have to credit the idea to the 2nd generation Elenbaas men who have gone to an away Michigan big ten game for about 12 years straight now.

Derek hitched a ride to west Michigan Friday afternoon and I picked up the two of them after work Friday so we could have some additional hang-out time. After making pizzas we watched some TV and then played speed scrabble. Ben was surprisingly good for a 12-year old and almost picked off Derek. After scrabble we went to midnight bowling and got 6 games in before crashing for the night.

Saturday was a football feast. The three of us played football in the morning with a group of guys at Calvin and then headed straight for Chicago. On the ride we talked about football and listened to it on the radio. Then we got to Northwestern in time to check out the campus, toss the football around, and check out the stadium.

There is something about Ben that just generates funny or at least memorable moments. These have been coined "classic Ben moments" by his dad who has undoubtedly seen too many. This weekend there were 3 good ones.

1. After making dinner we made Ben clear the plates. But to be funny he simply laid the plates flat on the rack in the dishwasher instead of nicely placing the plates in the rack so that they could be washed. As he tried to squirt out of the kitchen Erin grabbed him and tried to force him to finish the job. As the two of them were horsing around Ben broke free and slammed directly into my arm, which was holding a freshly poured glass of pop. He nailed my arm in such a way to project all of the pop in the glass all over the wall, oven, microwave, cupboards, floor, and cabinets within 5 feet of me. It was the biggest pop spill I've ever seen. I couldn't have thrown the pop and made a bigger mess.

2. While playing one of the rounds of speed scrabble Ben was complaining about getting a lot of "I"s. All of the sudden, after Derek had said "go" a bunch of times in a row and we were both scrambling to get all our letters in Ben says "is 'Get-er-done' a word?" Derek and I both quizzically look up to see this in front of Ben:

Needless to say, Ben didn't do very well that round, but he did get creativity points.

3. While driving to Chicago Ben kept mentioning having a "lucky penny" because it was from the year he was born. Then, after paying a toll I gave him a quarter. He quickly checked to see if it was a "lucky quarter." After a few seconds of silence Derek asked "so what's the year" to which Ben responded "6661." Derek: "Ben...flip it around." Ben: "Oh, 1999."

We took the scenic route to Northwestern and went through downtown Chicago. It was a beautiful day so we took some pictures along the lakeshore.

Northwestern is a pretty sweet campus. We had a couple of hours to kill before game time so we tooled around campus a bit and tossed the football around.

We really lucked out with the tickets. Ben's neighbor happened to be outside as we were leaving. Paula asked him if he was going to the game and he said he was. She asked if he had any extra tickets and he said there was a whole group of them going and they probably had a couple. Well we needed 3 so we passed him up. The next day he found out they did have 3 so we met up with him and only had to pay face value. We saw some scalpers who wanted $125 each.

The game itself was sweet. Michigan played tough and came out with a 33-17 win. It was their first big ten game decided by more than 3 points and it improved their record to 6-3 (3-2 big ten).

Overall it was a tremendous weekend. It was great hanging out with my bro and little cousin. We will definitely keep this tradition up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Nike! Nike! Marathon Victory

On a hot Summer's day in 490 BC the Greek legend Philippides ran 26 hilly miles from Marathon to Athens to deliver the news that the Athenian Army defeated the Persians. Totally exhausted, he died after the good news reached the city.

What a way for an international spectacle to have its beginnings.

On Sunday I attempted the marathon, which I've now coined the ultimate challenge for the common man. To be exact, a marathon is 26 miles, 385 yards and 1/2" long. For me the marathon was an extraordinary physical challenge and I wanted to say that at one point in my life I had completed one. So shortly after running the 15.5 mile riverbank run in May I decided this was the time to run the marathon since I had already done a significant amount of distance training. I pretty quickly found out, however, that 26 miles is WAY more than 15 miles.

I trained over the second half of the summer and through the early fall and worked up to the ability to do a 20 mile run. I had the support of Jason and Jeff who were also training for the Detroit Marathon and I did a number of the longer training runs with Jason. But even after well over 300 miles worth of training SINCE the riverbank, I was quite nervous about my ability to complete the Detroit Marathon. I knew there would be lots of support during an official race but I also knew some days I just didn't feel that well and my longest training run of 20 miles was a far cry away from 26.2. So I rested my body as well as possible, ate intelligently, and hoped for the best on race day.

The race started at 7:30am on Sunday when it was about 40 degrees outside. My dad and uncle Marv ran the half marathon which started with the marathon so we all got ready to go and waited for the mass of humanity in front of us to start spreading out. More than 9 minutes had gone by before we made it to the start line.

The first 13 miles were pretty awesome. After winding through downtown Detroit for a couple of miles we went over the Ambassador Bridge into Canada. In Canada we ran through some really nice areas along the river before heading back to the US through the tunnel. Coming out of the tunnel around mile 9 was super exciting because there was a huge line of fans along Jefferson, including Erin, Melissa, and my mom. At this point we sped up to about 9:20-9:30 min/mi.

My dad and Marv ran about 50 feet behind Jason, Jeff, and me until mile 10. Marv had never run more than 8 miles in his life before Sunday so his 13 mile run was very impressive. My dad finished the half marathon in 2:10:53 and Marv in 2:11:50.

After the halfway point reality began setting in. Mile 15 started heading away from downtown and I could start to really feel my legs. Jeff fell back a little at this point with some stomach pains. Jason and I continued on at about 9:30-10:00 min/mile and were greeted at mile 17 by Cindy, James, Carissa, and Derek. Derek jumped on the course with us and ran the Belle Isle leg of the race from mile 17-20. It was nice having him run because he offered some additional distraction as my legs continued to degrade. As we left Belle Isle Jason continued at our previous pace but I knew I had to slow way down if I wanted to survive. At mile 20 Derek left me and I continued on at about 12 min/mi for miles 20-24. Even though I was really feeling it and running quite slow, I was still enjoying every minute of the race. The fans were great, the weather was awesome, and every step I took I got more confident that I would make it the whole way.

At mile 24 I had my last carb pack and passed a marching band that was really belting it out and I just got a huge charge of energy. I tried to run a faster but immediately I felt my groin start cramping up so I quickly backed off. At mile 24.5 I was happily greeted by my beautiful wife, who charged out onto the course and started running with me. It was funny because she had about 6 layers of clothes on because it was so cold first thing in the morning so she had to shed her coat and fleece after a few minutes of running. Erin encouraged me for over a mile until we were getting very close. At mile 25.5 I all of the sudden felt very loose and energetic and I started running as fast as I could. There was a tunnel of people cheering us all on as we approached Ford Field. I passed a lot of other runners in that final stretch and then made my way down the steep tunnel onto the stadium turf and all out sprinted to the finish line. It was an exhilarating finish to a tremendous race! My final time was 4:21:31 for an average pace of 9:59. I am extremely happy with how well it went and it is an experience I'll never forget.

Jason ran very well with a time of 4:13:04 for a 9:40 pace and Jeff hit the wall on Belle Isle but still managed a good time of 4:31:29.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Addictions to Stupid Games: Part 5

The last 3 stupid game addictions in this series are the ones that were/are really ridiculous. Yahoo euchre was a severe addiction the summer before my senior year of Calvin. Like yahoo pool, yahoo euchre keeps all your stats and gives you a rating. This rating becomes very coveted the longer you play. For yahoo euchre a new player starts with a rating of 1500 and it adjusts similarly to yahoo pool. You take the average rating of your team and put it against the average rating of your opponent's team. If they are the same then the winning team each gets 15 added to their rating and the losing team gets 15 subtracted from their rating.

So if my rating was 1600 and my partner's was 1800 and we played a 1750 and 1650 team and won, my rating would go to 1615. And also like yahoo pool, it is advantageous to play a team with a better average rating than your own. That way you can play 2 games in a row and go 1-1 but leave with an overall better rating. I've played a game so lopsided before that I won 26 points for winning but only dropped 4 with a loss. The other key scoring tidbit about yahoo euchre is if you abandon a game before it finishes your rating takes the hit for both you and your teammate. So if it is a fair game and my team lost after I abandoned the game, my rating would go down a full 30 points and my partner's wouldn't change at all.

Yahoo euchre games can take 3 minutes to finish but usually take 5-15 minutes each so its hard to finish a lot in a short period of time. During the peak of my addiction I played over 25 games in a single day.

I will say that I was pretty awesome. Yahoo "color codes" each rating level and lumps everyone above 1650 into a single color. My highest rating was an impressive 2380. Unfortunately, by the time I got to that rating I became very picky about who I played. You couldn't really find 3 other people with ratings up there so I'd have to play a couple of people at about 1900 and take on a partner at 1500. But then I would just get infuriated with inevitable stupidity of my partner. Here are my current statistics. I basically haven't played since that summer.

Rating: 2135
Games Played: 819
Wins: 434
Losses: 385
Games Abandoned: 67
Streak: lost 2

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mid October Ski

Skiing is one of my favorite activities. I absolutely love gliding across smooth water on a slalom ski. Unfortunately, Michigan offers only 3 months of skiing weather a year, and everybody else in the state has to cram it in over that same period and on the same lakes, so a smooth ski is rare. Well this past weekend I was able to enjoy this beloved sport one last time for my first ever October ski. The Hoolsema's waited to winterize their boat until we took it out a final time and boy are we all glad they did. Jeff and I skied both Saturday and Sunday and Eric and Luke each skied once in the 62 degree waters and 55 degree air. Luke and I also got to tube. The beauty of skiing in mid-October is you don't have to compete with anyone else. Both days were windy but we could go back and forth on the protected sides of the lake. Luke and Eric took a bunch of pictures with Luke's professional camera too. Notice the changing colors in the background.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

It has been a long weight

Today was a monumental day for me. Today I weighed under 200 pounds for the first time since 7th grade. I was always a tall and very big kid. My earliest memory of my size was when I realized I weighed as much as my 3rd grade teacher. In all fairness to me, though, she was tiny. I surpassed 200 pounds sometime in the 7th grade I'm pretty sure. Sometime during Christmas break my junior year of high school I maxed out around 265. It was shortly there after that I decided once basketball season ended I would cut way back and trim down. From April until August I lost 50 pounds, down to 215.

For the last 5 years I've happily coasted between 205 and 230 depending on the year and especially depending on the season. About 2 years I ago I decided to track my weight. So every thursday morning between 8am and 10am I weigh myself on a scale at work that can weigh accurately to the gram (.002 lbs). I wear the same work shirt, jeans, and work boots every day so the data is as consistent as possible. You can see my progress, or lack there of at times, over the last 2 years.

The key for me is simply effort. I can exercise all I want, but I often more than make up for it with how much I eat. Some strong self control is the only thing that works for me.

A gimpse into the past...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Addictions to Stupid Games: Part 4

My 4th biggest addiction to a stupid game was Yahoo! Pool. This happens to be Yahoo!'s most popular online game and I had my way with it mainly during interim my senior year. With plenty of free time for a change I decided to spend it playing my friends as well as strangers in this online game. The reason I like online Yahoo! games so much is that they keep track of your statistics and give you a rating. Your rating I believe starts at 1200 for Yahoo! Pool. If you were to play someone who also had a rating of 1200 and beat them, yours would go up by 15 and theirs would go down by 15. But, if you played someone with a better rating than yourself and beat them, your rating would go up by more than 15. The kicker is, your rating would drop by less than 15 if you lost. So someone with a lower rating than their opponent has more to gain and less to lose. So anyway, the key is to win of course, but also to play people that have somewhat better ratings. Here are my stats for that 1-2 month period where I played a lot of Yahoo! Pool:

Rating: 1738
Games Played: 753
Wins: 362
Losses: 391
Games Abandoned: 11
Streak: won 5

I'm pretty sure my best rating was near 1850. This addiction did not last long but as you can see, I racked up quite a few games in that short span. Ahh Interim...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Hail to the "Victors"

Another exciting fall weekend. On Friday Reuben and I went to visit Rob and Amy in Ann Arbor. Rob is studying public health at U of M and so we checked out campus, walked around a bit, and went to watch the team I root for hardest in all of sports, Michigan Football! That is why I've alluded to hating Notre Dame and MSU in earlier entries. The whole Elenbaas family breathes U of M. This year has already been very dissapointing and Saturday made it even worse. U of M played a relatively poor game but was still ahead and in position to win the majority of the time. The death blow came when Minnesota was trying to run out the clock at the end of the game but instead U of M let them take off for a 50 yard gain and then Minnesota won on a field goal in the final seconds. Here are a few pictures of the day, which was a lot of fun until the final minute of the game.

In other weekend news I did a 20 mile run to prep for the marathon. Just 2 weeks left. Oh boy.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Livin' Large in LA

Erin and I had a fantastic 3 day weekend visiting my uncle Hal in Los Angeles. We got there on Thursday night and took a walking tour of his neighborhood. The landscaping, and the climate partly too, remind me of Singapore. Spectacular, at least in his area. There were some really nice homes and all of their yards were beautiful.

On Friday morning I did my "big city 10 mile run" but made it 12.5 in preparation for the marathon. I ran from Hal's apartment about 5 miles to downtown LA. It was a perfect morning I love running through downtowns. From there I headed north in the general direction of Dodger Stadium. I say general direction because my intent was to run to the stadium, but none of the roads near it seemed to go to it. Dodger stadium is way up on a hill and as I got closer all I could see was a very steep dirt hill all the way around it (at least from my obviously incorrect location). So I debated about whether to just turn around and run back or make the dangerous climb up the hill. I decided I wouldn't have that many more chances in my life to run up to Dodger stadium so up the hill I went. It must have been comical seeing a sweaty runner scale the steep hill on all 4's. Halfway up the hill I reached a stadium entrance road that was gated off. Not only was it gated off, but I stumbled out of the brush about 30 feet away from a cop on a motorcycle that seemed to be guarding the entrance. I just stood there as the cop had his back turned to me and about a minute later he drove away. So on I went up the rest of the hill, prickers and all, and finally made it to the parking lot. It was totally worth it because the view from there was awesome and I got a close-up look at the stadium. Plus, I found a sprinkler that was on and got a much needed drink.

Later on Friday Hal, Erin, Erin's friend Berniz, and I hiked through the hills surrounding Hollywood. There were some sweet views of the Hollywood sign and of downtown LA. Unfortunately there were fires in the area and the air was about as "smoggy" as Hal has ever seen it.

On Fridy night we went to the taping of Love Inc., a UPN sitcom about a dating service. The show was actually pretty good and the taping was fun. Plus, it turned out that one of my favorite TV characters, Neil Flynn (the Janitor from SCRUBS), was the guest star. Later that evening, we told one of Hal's friends about who was in the show and it turned out that he is friends with Neil Flynn from Second City in Chicago.

On Saturday we headed down to Dana Point, just south of Laguna Beach for some surf lessons. Erin and I had a great time learning how to surf in some small but hard enough waves. I got up a number of times for varying lengths of time but definitely don't have it mastered just yet. Erin decided she liked the one foot one knee method much better and got pretty good at that. After surfing we headed up to Laguna for the afternoon. It is a beautiful beach.

Saturday evening we went to see some improv in Hollywood. During the show Erin snuck out to go to the bathroom and when she came back she was overly excited saying "the Janitor from SCRUBS is out by the bar!" So when the show ended we went out there and sure enough, there he was. So we had Hal's friend introduce us and we got this sweet picture.

The other famous person at the Improv place was Andy Dick. But he was definitely drunk and likely on drugs and making a complete fool of himself. You can see his head behind Erin in this picture.

The we strolled down Hollywood Blvd. and 'saw the stars.' This is my favorite 'star.'

On Sunday we saw Venice beach and then went to Hal's friend Larry's sweet house. Larry is the brother/neighbor of Jim on ABC's According to Jim. His house is way up on a hill overlooking Long Beach. We played some water basketball and sat in the hot tub to finish a great weekend. Thanks Hal!!