Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spectacular Sports Weekend, Days 2-5 ~ SEC Championship Game, Atlanta, GA

Day 2 of our spectacular sports weekend had us at the Cleveland State women’s game vs. Western Michigan, where the Vikings pulled out a 66-55 victory. Both Cleveland State teams are rolling thus far as the women are 6-1 and the men remain undefeated (the only 10-0 team in the country) and #1 in the mid-major rankings…Horizon League foe, Butler, is ranked #5 on that list. Following the game, we met Sean and Alex for dinner at Melt. Once again, the two hour wait was worth it as we indulged in a sandwich that was made available for two days only…The Dude Abides Melt. A sandwich with two jumbo beef and pork meatballs, crispy fried mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce, provolone and Romano cheese. Seriously? Yes, seriously.

We managed to get about 4 hours of sleep before we began day 3 of our spectacular sports weekend. We woke up at 4 am to catch our 5:30 am flight to Atlanta, GA for the SEC Championship game where the #19 South Carolina Gamecocks would face-off against the #1 Auburn Tigers.

Unlike Steve, I was able to sleep for the entire 2 hour flight. We met Jon at the airport and then all hopped on the MARTA to meet Cal at the Downtown Marriott.

We found Pittypat’s Porch on our walk to the hotel and it seemed like a nice place to stop for a drink. Pittypat’s wasn’t your typical bar. In fact, instead of bar stools, Pittypat’s had rocking chairs. The guys were pretty happy.

We headed toward the Georgia Dome and stopped at Taco Mac’s for another drink.

After that we walked to the Civic Center to check out the SEC Fanfare…That’s about when things went sour. Apparently, lack of sleep and food isn’t good for the body…at least the body of a 37-year-old Stephen Schur. During the walk around, Steve became very pale, ill, sweaty and then fainted. Jon called EMS where they checked him out and pretty much said he wasn’t 18 anymore! He was instructed to get some food, fluids and rest.

While Jon & Cal headed to a USC tailgate, Steve and I returned to the hotel to get him some rest before attempting to catch the 4 pm kick-off. We made it just in time and our seats were pretty amazing. Unfortunately, Steve was not feeling amazing.

As halftime approached, the Gamecocks were only trailing 21-14, which was promising, but Cam Newton’s 51-yard Hail Mary during the last few seconds of the half is really what put the nail in the coffin…and this was when we figured it was time to head back to the hotel and watch the remainder of the game on TV. Auburn went on to win 56-17 behind an amazing effort by QB and Heisman likely Cam Newton, who threw for 335 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to his two rushing TD’s.

On day 4 of our spectacular sports weekend, I woke up extra early due to my extra early bedtime. I went for a 7 mile run and then Jon, Steve and I went to the Hard Rock Café for lunch.

Excited for the NFL games that would begin at 1 pm, Steve went back to the hotel to get a little more rest while Jon and I began our trek around downtown Atlanta. We started at Meehan’s Public House for a bloody Mary & bottomless Mimosa’s (yes, bottomless). Unfortunately, they did not carry the NFL Ticket so were forced to go elsewhere.

Steve met us at Gibney’s where they had cheaper beer (something VERY hard to find in Atlanta), the NFL Ticket and KENO! I only mention that because I won $70 playing, which always helps pay for a few rounds.

Next, we went to a sports bar in the Marriott Marquis called High Velocity. They also had the NFL Ticket and their menu looked pretty delicious. Steve remained steady with his Ginger Ale consumption and wasn’t ready to eat so Jon and I shared their sampler platter. It wasn’t really a sampler, considering it included 8 sliders, 24 wings, a tower of onion rings, fries, celery, carrots & dip. Although it was way too much food, we still gave it a try. Someone on the streets of Atlanta was happy with our leftovers :)

We returned to Gibney’s for the rest of the games (remember, they did have cheaper beer!) and then to the Westin to check out their Sun Dial bar. The bar was located on the 73rd floor and made a full revolution every 60 minutes. Jon and I thought it was pretty cool, but I think it made Steve a little dizzy :)

We finished the night with a car bomb at Meehan’s before calling it a night.

On day 5 of our spectacular sports weekend, we walked around downtown and stopped at Sidebar for lunch.

We returned to the hotel to pick up our bags and get a drink at the hotel bar before getting on the MARTA and returning to the airport. By this time, Steve was feeling much better and was ready to get to work on Tuesday!!

Despite Steve’s bout with the flu and the Tigers devouring of the Gamecocks, we still had a great time. Whenever we spend time with friends…whether it’s 12 hours (sorry Cal), 48 hours, or an entire week, we always make memories that will last forever. Thanks again for a great trip!

Until next time...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Spectacular Sports Weekend, Day 1 ~ Cavs vs. Heat, December 2, 2010

On the evening of my 31st birthday, LeBron James made his “Decision” to leave Cleveland….147 days later, he made his return and I wasn’t going to miss it for anything. I was excited and the city was excited.

There was definitely a buzz around Cleveland and the hoopla around this “event” was pretty spectacular…The tickets for the game were selling for more than any other non-playoff game in Cavs history. Our $89 tickets were selling for $300 apiece online. The local restaurants and bars that have lost so much since LeBron’s departure were embracing this opportunity…One bar served “Witless” beer, a locally brewed beer mocking LeBron’s “Witness” marketing campaign…another featured a specialty drink called “The LeBron” which combined “Arrogant Bastard” and “Blithering Idiot” beers. The bar we chose to visit showed LeBron highlights and lowlights before the game. That was a little depressing…

The National media couldn’t get enough of this story…What would the fans do? What would LeBron do? Will LeBron do his famous talc toss? Has the city begun to recover? Why doesn’t Cleveland just get over it? If you turned on SportsCenter for one minute during the last week, you knew when and where this game was going to occur. We knew there would be a certain number of idiots that made the city look bad, but we were okay with that because that’s all part of the fun…This wouldn’t be story without the idiots!

Sean & I were joined by our friends Todd & Gina. We all agreed that the atmosphere of the game was amazing. It matched the intensity of any Cavs playoff games I have attended. The fans booed every time LeBron touched the ball, they chanted a**hole, Akron hates you, and (my personal favorite) Delonte. The game itself was a disaster. LeBron could have easily scored 50 points, but settled for 38 and sat out the entire 4th quarter. The Heat finished with a 118-90 win over the Cavaliers. Ouch. There were very few incidents at the game and I have a feeling that the media will make it out to be more of a spectacle than it was. The environment was consistent with what you’d expect from passionate blue-collar fans…and the official final count from The Q was 1 arrest and 4 ejections. I was actually hoping for more.

Day one of my spectacular sports weekend is in the books.
Let’s hope I survive the rest of it!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2010 Turkey Trot

On the morning of Thanksgiving I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot around downtown Cleveland. It was a balmy 41 degrees with a slight drizzle, but nothing too terrible as I was dressed for the colder temps. As a race spectator, Steve was surely more miserable than I was. There were nearly 5,500 runners so it was a crowded race throughout. I finished in 50:20 (10:04 min/mile) and 143 of 261 in my age/gender group.

Thursday afternoon/evening we headed to my cousin Matt's house. He and his wife Jenny were hosting their first holiday and we were honored to be invited. We were joined by my Dad, Berneda, Sean and Alex. It was a nice small group with fantastic food. We ate, drank, talked, watched movies and sat by the fire. It was a very nice and relaxing way to spend the day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Malley's with Daniel

My nephew Daniel had a sleepover with Sean and Alex on Friday so we joined them for dinner, bowling and ice cream. Malley's is an ice cream parlor that we really enjoy and have taken the kids to on many occasions. On this particular trip, the five of us decided to indulge in "The Ultimate Sundae" which includes 10 scoops of ice cream (we choose...chocolate,.vanilla, cookies n' cream, moose tracks, cookie dough & chocolate peanut butter), 4 toppings (peanut butter, caramel, hot fudge & marshmallow), 2 kinds of nuts (spanish peanuts & cashews), whipped cream, sprinkles and cherries. I am certain that there were MANY more than 10 scoops, which you can see from the picture. When we checked out, the guy that made the sundae said it weighed 4.5 lbs and was just under a gallon!! I guess you can say we did our best, but didn't come close to finishing it. The sundae cost us $19.95, but Daniel's expression is priceless...

We're Going to the SEC Championship!

For the first time in school history, South Carolina won the SEC East and are headed to the SEC Championship game. The Gamecocks will face Cam Newton (unless, of course, all of the allegations against him come to fruition and he is ineligible!!) and the Auburn Tigers on December 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm.

Minutes after South Carolina defeated Florida to clinch the East title, we booked our flights and hotel. We figured we would deal with getting tickets later. We soon went onto eBay, Stubhub, RazorGator, and any other online ticket site only to find that the cheapest ticket available was $300+ and those are BAD seats...nosebleed seats in a 71,250 seat venue. We're really fine with bad seats because the atmosphere is what really makes the game, but to pay that much is crazy. We knew this would be a hot ticket considering there are no sales to the general public and South Carolina and Auburn only get 15,900 tickets per school (not many considering USC has an 88,000 seat venue and approximately 30,000 students)...All other tickets go to sponsors and a few to other SEC schools.

So, we got thinking. We knew a friend who has been a season-ticker holder for years, but didn't want to put him in a position where he'd feel obligated to sell any extra tickets to us...and it actually turns out that he was unable to get tickets because the season-ticket holder/doner lottery is based on a "point" system. The bottom line is...$$$ donated = tickets. After a little more brainstorming, we decided to contact an old colleague from the Cavs who is currently an Associate Athletic Director at Tennessee (another SEC East school). We had met up and had a few drinks with he and his wife (another former Cavs/Rockers employee) at the Final Four in Indianapolis so Steve gave it a try...he sent him an email and within a few days we had 4 tickets at $125 face value in our possession. When we received them in the mail, we realized these weren't just any seats, these were prime lower level seats at the 30-35 yard line! Seats similar to this are selling for $750 apiece online...

We admit we got really lucky, but it obviously doesn't hurt to know the right people :)

Here is the seating chart...

The game will be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. Steve and I will be joined by our friends and USC alumni Jon & Cal as well as countless other USC fans. We're looking forward to it!

Go Gamecocks!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Great Pumpkin 5K at Lakewood Park

On the morning of Halloween, I ran my second 5K (3.1 miles) of the month. Once again, this race began at Lakewood Park and was actually the exact same course as the Nature's Bin 5K I ran earlier in October. 

Here I am before the race...

Due to their close proximity, my Mom, Rich, Molly & Daisy were there to cheer me on at the corner of Summit & Lake. They even had noise-makers...

Here I am during the race...I finished in 29:25 (9:29/mile pace) and 32 out of 62 in my age/gender group

Here I am after the race with my husband and biggest fan...

Although I didn't dress up in a costume, there were many other runners that did. My personal favorite was the pregnant nun...complete with a cigar and glass of wine. Not exactly family friendly, but funny none the less.

Following the race, my mom, Rich, Steve & I went to the West End Tavern for brunch. My mom and I celebrated my run with some Mega Mimosas. I guess you can say we're always looking for a reason to celebrate :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nature's Bin 5K at Lakewood Park

It’s been almost six weeks since I received the go-ahead to resume running again. I’ve slowly progressed from 2 miles to 3.5 miles, running three days a week. Prior to my injury, I was running 6+ miles, 4 days a week, but have been advised to alternate running with other activities to limit the impact on my hip. In order to train for the half marathon in February, I'll eventually have to increase the frequency, but don’t anticipate consecutive days for another eight weeks. I’ve been using our Concept 2 rowing machine another 2-3 days a week, so I’m doing my best to follow doctors orders with alternate cardio work outs.

Anyway, in an effort to get back into racing mode, I decided to sign up for a few local races to see how my mind, legs, lungs, hip, etc. responded. I’ve been running solely on a treadmill, so a road race is an important step towards my real recovery. Hermes Sports & Events organizes several races in the Cleveland area so I went to their site and found two 5K’s (3.1 miles) in October at Lakewood Park…a park about 1.5 miles from our house.
The first race was the Nature’s Bin 5K. For those who know Lakewood, the route started at Lakewood Park, ran down Edgewater to Summit (my mom's street), then down Lake to Kenneth to Webb and back to Lakewood Park. Because a short part of the race went up my mom’s street she, Rich, Molly & Daisy (dogs), Steve, Sean & Alex posted themselves at the corner of Summit & Lake so they could see me at the 0.75 and 2.75 mile markers.

 Here I am before the race...

 Here I am during the race...

My friends Britt, Lia and their tiny dog Deuces (he’s a Teacup Chihuahua, so I’m not kidding when I say he is tiny) were staying at our house for the weekend so they also came to cheer me on. I had quite a crowd…7 adults and 3 dogs. I definitely think I had the largest fan club. Steve is usually my only cheerleader so he was very happy to have company, especially in the light drizzle and 50 degree temps. They were all very brave and prepared themselves with chairs and umbrellas.

Here are Lia, Dueces, Me and Britt after the race...

I finished in 30:10 (9:44/mile pace) and 11th in my age/gender group. Regardless of whether I’m running 3, 5, 10 or 13 miles I always seem to maintain the same pace (approximate 10:00 minute mile). I think it’s because it’s more about the rhythm of the run rather than the speed. I guess you can say my legs and my lungs aren’t really into the speed of running :) I’m not trying to be faster; I just want to have fun.

The next 5K is the Great Pumpkin 5K at Lakewood Park on the morning of Halloween. Maybe Steve will run this one with me. It'll be one year after his foot & ankle surgery, so it's actually quite poetic! I've begged and pleaded, but he still won't bite. No pressure ;)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So Much To Love...

I recently read a friend’s blog about the negativity that surrounds us on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s the job market, the weather, family issues, work issues, food quality, service quality, etc. etc., people always have something to complain about and it seems to bring everyone down. As a generally happy and positive, yet overly emotional person I try very hard not to get roped into other people’s negativity. Over the years, I have learned that my happiness and the happiness of my family are what matter most and societal pressures are not worth living up to.

Sometimes it's too easy and inconsequential to come up with an "I don't like" or an "I wish" list, so in an effort to clear my mind of the negativity that often enters my head without permission, I put together an "I love" list…A list of some of my favorite things that make me happy no matter what.

I love the beach, and I’m not talking about the beaches of Lake Erie, I'm talking about clean beautiful beaches. I love that I am lucky enough to be married to my best friend. I love running. I love listening to the same song on repeat, especially when I’m running. I love that my husband adores me. I love vacation…oh, how I love vacation, especially beach vacations. I love my family. I love my husband's family. I especially love that my family loves my husband...and he loves them. I love sports, especially basketball and football. I love that some women just “don’t get me” and my love of sports. Regardless of what the rest of the world thinks, I love Brett Favre. I love food. I love wine. I love cooking. I especially love cooking with my husband. I love Costco. Despite its age, I love my house. I love that my family will always go the extra mile to help us with our house. I love that my in-laws have bought my husband and I tickets to the men’s Final Four for three straight years. I also love that my husband would always prefer to go with me than with one of his guy friends. I love that I live in a smoke-free state. I love a good night's sleep but wish I could do without it. I love all-inclusive resorts. I love taking walks without a destination in mind. I love that I was married at the beach and we have made countless memories at that same beach. I love planning and mapping bar crawls in different cities, but still cherish the original Madison crawl. I love finding new places in the city that I’ve lived in for 31 years. I love that I can walk to my brother's house and we often meet in the middle for dinner. I love trying to “Go Green” and reduce my carbon footprint with sustainability, even if I’m not always the best at it. I love getting new running shoes, even if I already have six (eight?) pairs. I love a good deal. I love that my husband and I share so much in common, yet we’re really not that much alike. I love my uncluttered life. I love that I work with my mom and we car pool almost daily (my car loves this too). I love my health. I love my happiness. I love to relax and do nothing, mostly because I’m always over-planning. I love that no one cares that I wear my hair in a ponytail for 350+ days of the year. I love lists so much that they’ve become a part of who I am. I love life as a DINK (Dual Income No Kids). I love to plan vacations (just ask Jenny) and I think I’m damn good at it. I love the Food Network, Travel Channel and ESPN. I love cheese. I love bacon. I love pizza. I love that all of the contents of my fridge have a purpose. I love to laugh. I love being a strong independent woman, but also love being taken care of. I love that over the 10 years that I’ve known my husband, I have grown, matured and changed so much, yet we’ve done this together and continue to love each other deeply. I usually love surprises, even though it may take me a little while to absorb it. I love to organize. I love that I’m compulsive and my husband couldn’t be less compulsive. I love to paint. I love that I'm still (kind of) the baby of the family. I love happy hour and can never resist a last minute invite to happy hour. I love cook-outs in our backyard and the company that it brings. I love pay days. I love date night, either at home or at a nice restaurant. I love my nieces and nephews regardless of how much or little I see them. I love that we’ll be two hours into a trip and my husband will remind me to bring something, even though he knows that I’ve been making lists for months and packing for days. I love random hole in the wall bars where you meet real and often seedy people…trendy bars make me feel dirty. I love myself. I love my husband. I love our life. Although there is so much to love, what I love most is being home.

This was fun and it feels good writing about the best things in my life.
You should give it a try…

Friday, September 10, 2010

Alexandria, VA ~ September 3-6, 2010

We make the six-hour drive or one-hour flight to Alexandria, VA at least once a year. If not to visit our friend Jon (Steve’s friend from college), then to participate in Steve’s annual fantasy football draft in which Jon is also a participant. This isn’t just any draft…They rent a banquet room and hold a live draft and with 15 teams and about two people per team, it’s pretty intense lasting at least five hours. Everyone brings beverage coolers and they order pizza following the 8th round…It’s like every fantasy football satire you’ve ever seen. Men who are angry, jealous, stupid, cruel, irrational, etc., etc. all in one room at one time. As you can imagine, it’s quite a sight to be seen and something that I wouldn’t suggest everyone witness.

You may ask yourself “How does Shannon know all of these details???” Being the football (a.k.a Brett Favre) obsessed and totally awesome wife that I am, I also serve as Steve’s sidekick, making me the only female at the draft. It sort of makes me feel like I’m a member of some club, but not a club that I would ever choose. You see, the huge majority of these men are married to their fantasy football team and not to actual women. I don’t intend to make fun of them (actually, yes I do), but they're just not the kind of guys that I want hanging out at my house on football Sunday.

I sure would like to hang out with this guy!!

If I didn’t have an odd obsession with Brett Favre (I admit that it is a bit much), Steve probably would not participate in a fantasy football draft of this caliber. I am totally happy hanging out on Sunday with my husband. We eat, we drink, we cheer, we high-five (yes, we high-five) and overall we have a whole lot of quality fun. It’s worth every penny we spend on the NFL Ticket and I guess every dime we spend on Steve’s FFB team. P.S. I reserve the right to change my mind after Brett actually does retire :)

Anyway, back to the trip…We made the drive on Friday night and arrived around 9:30 pm. Jon is always an accommodating host and had a frosted beverage waiting for us upon arrival. What we expected to be an early night ended up being a late night and we stayed up a lot longer than I want to admit.

The draft was held on Saturday. Steve ended up with the 13th pick and eventually drafted Brett Favre (thanks to my irrational threats…just kidding!) Our friends Todd & Gina were staying at the Westin across the street from the draft location so we met up with them for a drink before heading out with the rest of the group to O’Connell’s on King Street. Oddly enough, Todd & Gina live in Hudson which is only 30 minutes from where we live…Steve and I both worked with Todd at the Cavs and we have done our best to stay in touch with them since my departure. They now have three kids and were visiting Alexandria for their 10-year wedding anniversary. We’re not the best at getting together, so it’s ironic that Alexandria is where we would see each other again.

On Sunday afternoon we took a water taxi with Jon, Todd & Gina to Georgetown where we had some beers and enjoyed the perfect weather. While Todd & Gina went back to their hotel, we returned to Jon’s and had a few more drinks before calling it a night!

I had no part in choosing these outfits...They must have been playing dress-up because neither the hat or shirt are something that Steve owns.

The Monday drive home from Alexandria is always miserable…We stay up too late, drink more than we should and don’t want to return to work the next day, but overall it was a fun time and I wish I took more pictures!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The New and Improved "Gym Schur"

A few months ago we had a flood in our basement in what we called the “Basement Debacle” where close to six inches of water covered our entire basement floor. We had a lot of help from friends and family (thank you Britt, Lia, Sean, Alex, Rich & Greg!) with buckets, garbage cans, etc. to remove the water and then a company came in throughout the following week with dehumidifiers, fans and sanitizers to finish the job (hello electric bill!) After some further cleaning, we finally had the opportunity to freshen up the 160 square feet of finished space in our basement. We had previously used it as a place for my treadmill, an extra TV and mostly storage and since we have too much storage in the rest of our house, we decided to maximize the space and turn it into a home gym. We painted everything, had carpet installed and put up baseboards. We already had a treadmill, but also bought a Concept 2 rower, a pair of Powerblock weights (which are all-in-one dumbbells that range from 3-24 lbs), a medicine ball and a stability ball.

With the exception of the painting, we pretty much finished the room in one day. I arranged for the carpet to be installed on Tuesday, so Steve took the day off and I left work at 1 pm. My wonderful stepfather also came over to perform his electrician duties. Rich and his senior apprentice (a.k.a. Steve) added an outlet for the TV and also replaced all of the existing outlets with new pretty white ones. They also did some other electrical things that I can't really explain, other than they make my life easier and me happier (their words, not mine). I proceeded to install the baseboards, DirecTV came and installed our HD DVR box and then Steve and I set up the remainder of the room. Pretty long but super productive day!

We also bought a 42” plasma and surround sound that we got a great deal on at Costco. I guess you can say we have a little obsession with flat screen TV’s :)

Overall, it looks really nice and we’ve already utilized it twice in two days! I have maintained my membership at the YMCA simply because it's nice to get away from the office and it's only a block away from work. I also have a great weight room at work with a brand new Woodway Treadmill (the crème de la crème in treadmill country…seriously like running on clouds), so I guess I have a plethora of options and no excuses! We’ll see how it goes.

On a related note…I am back running and feeling good. I am on a pretty strict schedule that includes three days of running beginning with 2 miles and progressing weekly in ½ mile increments.

We leave Friday afternoon for a long weekend in Alexandria, Virginia and will report back when we return...That’s it for now!

Happy and Safe Travels!