Monday, January 28, 2013

Resolution 1 - Run a Half Marathon - Training Update

Since my last entry on running a couple weeks ago, I made the trek to Scheels and spent way too much money on winter running clothes in preparation for the local Frozen Feat 10k run. I purchased a Nike inner shell that was surprisingly comfy, some track pants and running gloves. Today was one of our warmest days of the last several weeks which has mostly consisted of temps dipping into subzero almost every day. It got up to 26 degrees this afternoon, and I felt it was a perfect opportunity to bust out the winter running gear for a, sorry.

I went for a quick 2.35 mile run to see how warm the running gear would get after generating some body heat. From what I have gathered, dressing lightly for winter runs is the way to go, it is pretty bitter for the first five to ten minutes, but once the body heat kicks in it is smooth sailing the rest of the way. My run was for a little under a half hour, and that was pretty much how it went down for me. I was not freezing by any means initially, especially compared to our temps that were 20 to 30 degrees cooler a couple days prior, but I was easily a little chilly in my light clothing attire at the start. Though after five to ten minutes, I felt the body heat pumping and was fine for the rest of the duration of the run. Hopefully once temps settle into the 20s and 30s regularly here hopefully within a month I can get be done with the treadmill for awhile and switch to running outdoors again full time.

I did go out and pick up a cheap windbreaker for a light outer shell afterwards, just in case on run day in a few weeks temps are in the single digits. If that is not the case, well, I was in need of a new spring jacket anyways so I am a winner regardless! The day before my first outdoor run of the year, I reached two huge milestones for me running on the treadmill. I finally broke the 10 mile mark with a 10.2 mile run in 100 minutes. Like I stated before, each run I have either been increasing my amount of time and/or speed running by a minute or two or an extra tenth mile an hour. It felt great finally breaking that pesky 10 mile barrier. From what I have read and heard from friends, come marathon time you are going on adrenaline for the last few miles so I should be well conditioned now to last the half marathon.

I have been debating now for the next few months by looking at other half marathon training programs how to spread out my runs. I have been leaning towards one program that consists of five runs a week going in the pattern of 5 miles/2 miles/off/6 miles/3 miles/10 miles/off a week. If anyone has any pointers or past experiences to share on getting ready for a marathon I am all ears. Feel free to leave a comment below, or email or tweet me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Resolution 7 - End the Podcast - Two Episodes Left!

Since early 2006, nearly seven years now I have been hosting a videogame themed podcast, called On Tap. If you go to you can find a listing of our entire archives to download or subscribe to the show through iTunes, Zune or RSS. I started the podcast with my friend Chris when both of us were writing for, and the podcast was a nice supplement to the website to expand on our latest reviews and features there for the first couple of years of the podcast.

Unfortunately, VGpub ran its course and ceased to exist in early 2008. Chris and I were having a fun time producing the show, and added our friends Scott and Matt as recurring guest hosts to spice things up. We kept the show alive by splintering it off a few months later and started I apologize for the abysmally dated web design. Chris promised a new design, so I used my very limited web designing skills for the travesty that is currently there, and has remained there for the last several years.

About two years ago, I started to get bored with our format and felt like it was time to put an end to On Tap. We really branched out what we covered, and started doing all types of retrospectives on classic games and reviewing countless, horrible videogame based movies. After doing this for several years though, I was running out of ideas and just did not have the same drive to produce shows as I did prior. I ran this by Chris and his wife Lyzz, a fellow gamer who joined on as cohost a couple years prior, but they were not quite ready to wrap up the show.

So I roughed out another year of outputting shows, but they were just not the same as it used to be. So about a year ago I convened with Chris and Lyzz again and we agree to downgrade the show to part time status and went forward outputting shows....whenever we felt like it. A few months go by and Chris and Lyzz end up moving to Fargo. This caused a big wrench on meeting trying to get our schedules to mesh to meet up to record and so we decided come this February we will record our final episode of On Tap and put that book to rest.

That decision happed a couple months ago, and in the meantime I wanted to make sure to end the podcast on a high note and put out a few more episodes I could be proud of. Recurring guest host Matt and I have had an annual tradition on the show the last few years of themed episodes covering our friendly rivalry to see who has beaten more games throughout the year. I always enjoy those episodes, and we recorded that one a couple weeks ago. Last year Matt and I also had our first best and worst of the year in movies episode. That episode was a thrill to record and was a very nice break from all our regular videogame talk, so I was eagerly anticipating our second installment. Yesterday, we recorded our second annual best and worst of the year in movies episode, and I brought on coworker and fellow movie enthusiast Jay for his take as well!

We ended up going way longer than I thought we would, and clocked in one of our longest podcasts yet at just over three hours! Matt and Jay keep up with a lot of the behind the scenes happenings of Hollywood than I do, and had quite a lot of wisdom to shed about the latest going on in the industry as it related to our top 10 and worst 5 picks of the year so please bear with us as we went off the rails a few times with some lengthy tangents. Regardless, it was blast to partake in and I got a bunch of new movies added to my Netflix Queue as a result, hopefully you will too coming out of this. Click here to give it a listen.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Resolution 9 - Clint Eastwood Quest - 10% Complete

I have only seen two Clint Eastwood films, but I respect the hell out of the guy. I tried to make it a point over the last year to get a list of some of his best films from a few friends and track them down through Netflix to catch up on his best work. I gathered a list of recommendations, but always neglected to add them into my Netflix queue. Inexcusable, I know, then about a month or two back I ran across this great deal of 10 Clint Eastwood classics on BluRay going back to the 60s to as recent as a few years ago for only $30. I could not pass that up, and it finally gave me the swift kick in the butt to watch some of Clint's best.

Buying it was one thing, letting it just sit there on my shelf collecting dust is something I simply cannot allow. Thus, Resolution 9, watch all 10 movies in the Clint Eastwood collection before the end of the year! I decided to watch them in the order they were placed in the BluRay casing, and at the front of the case was one of the two Eastwood films I have seen, Gran Torino.

I absolutely adore this film, and could not resist skipping over it. It is easily one of my ten favorite movies of all time. This is my third time watching it, and it still is as instantly memorable and quotable as the first time I have seen it. In case this one slipped by you, Clint stars as Walt Kowalski, a Korean War vet too set in his ways and growing increasingly perturbed as his neighborhood diversifies over the years. He forms an unlikely friendship with his Hmong neighbors after breaking up some gang violence and takes their neighbor's son Thao under his wing after he attempts to steal Walt's prized Gran Torino.

I never did develop a knack for reviewing movies, so I am going to avoid trying to turn this into a traditional film review and just gush over why I love this. Clint Eastwood absolutely nails the role of the stereotypical over the hill racist. He makes drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon seem like the most badass thing ever, a feat that only he in all of Hollywood is capable of. I was stunned at how brazen the dialogue in this movie is, and I think Clint Eastwood is the only one who could get away with it or else it would have been drastically scaled back for anyone else. Clint naturally overcomes his prejudices, and watching him bond with Thao over the duration of the film and teaching him to man up and constantly telling a helping priest to screw off throughout had me in love with what should be a very unlovable character.

There is no big budget special effects, as a majority of Gran Torino takes place in Walt's neighborhood. So it has a very down to earth, real feeling to it that resonated with me. Every single actor nails their part, and I cannot think of a single actor I disliked in their role in this film, nor can I think of a single scene I would change or remove after seeing this my third time. I take that back, there is one scene later in the film where Eastwood lies to his dog, Daisy that he is smoking in the house for the first time when there is a scene just several minutes earlier of Walt puffing on a cig. Do not lie to dogs Walt, they are your best friend! I would flip those scenes around, that is all. I can go on forever about why this is one of my all time favorites, but I do not want to talk this up to death for those that have not seen it.

Ironically enough, this was the first Eastwood film I remember seeing, and it is only appropriate it starts off this collection. Next up, well you will just have to wait and see the next Eastwood Quest blog entry to find out. I will try to knock out one of these a month, so please keep checking back and feel free to comment below if you want to gush (or hate) on this film with me!

Bonus Resolution 1 - Live to See the 49ers Make Another Super Bowl - Complete!

In two weeks I may be deeply regretting this blog if things do not go my way, however I was so ecstatic last night after the 49ers victory over the Falcons to send them into their sixth Super Bowl I could not resist the temptation to write about it. The last time the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl was for the 1994 season against the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX, winning their fifth Super Bowl, I was only 11 at the time and do recall watching the game at my dad's, but nearly two decades have passed since and I could not be happier for the 49ers to make it to another Super Bowl.

"But Dale, you live only five hours from the Twin Cities, how come the Vikings are not your favorite team?"

I hear you, but when I was a wee little child, I had absolutely NO concept of "home" team. I had and still have a lot of family and friends in the Twin Cities. I remember visiting family all the time down there, I also remember it taking several hours to drive down there, and being a child that seemed like an eternity. So when all my fellow first grader classmates were puzzled that how can you not root for your hometown Vikes, I vividly recall my naive six year old self replying, "The Vikings are not my home team, they are five hours away!" There was also one other little detail...

The first football game I remember watching was the 49ers crushing the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV, 55-10. When I was that young, I would glue myself in front of the television and watch almost anything on ESPN, and wrestling....that was it. For sports, I used the ridiculous logic that I would always root for the team wearing the white colored jerseys because white was my favorite color back then (it is now black by the way!). It has been years since I saw any footage of Super Bowl XXIV, and I do not even need to run to YouTube to assure you the 49ers wore white jerseys that game. Ever since that very game, I have latched onto the 49ers as my favorite team.

If any of you are wondering, over the last decade I have come around to the whole "home team" thing. The Vikings are my number two football team (what a crushing defeat they had in the playoffs), and I have gotten back into Twins baseball over the last few years, catching quite a few Twins games over the last two years combined than ever before. Also, go Timberwolves!

Regardless, the rest of the 90s were a great time in my youth with Steve Young leading us to many winning seasons in the 90s and the oh-so-great Super Bowl XXIX victory! Then, after several broken ribs and concussions, Mr. Young just could not go on and then came the Jeff Garcia years. Garcia actually had a couple of really good years, and watching the brazenly cocky Terrel Owens provided countless moments for me, but we kept choking in the playoffs. Before we knew it, Mariucci got fired and Dennis Erickson was brought in and brought the teams to new lows in his two years at the helm.

The 2004 Tim Rattay/Ken Dorsey year was atrocious to watch. We went 2-14, and I am not looking this up but recall from memory both of those wins came in overtime, both against the Cardinals, BOTH with a winning score of 31-28. That led to us getting one Alex Smith as the number one pick of the 2005 draft. And from 2005 on, Alex had a confusing ride, 2006 led me to believe we had a solid "rebuilding" year, with legit rebuilding accomplished and we were bound for greatness. But Alex got hurt and rushed back too early in 2007, and over the next four seasons we had a revolving door of temporary QBs, coaches and coordinators leaving me a vastly disappointed Niners fan, with many horrible lows for a majority of the last decade.

Then the 49ers brought in college coaching sensation, Jim Harbaugh as the new coach for 2011. My only memory of him was picking him in the surprisingly enjoyablye NFL Quarterback Club on GameBoy. Whatever Harbaugh did, he lit a fire under the Niners with mostly the same cast as the previous year that got coach Singletary canned. Alex Smith all of a sudden turned into an brilliant, game manager QB and the Niners defense seemed unstoppable! A 13-3 season blew me away, and I kept thinking throughout the season, "there is no way we are this good." I was a rollercoaster of emotions watching the 49ers defeat the Saints in a classic divisional playoff game for the ages. It is probably my best moment at Buffalo Wild Wings, and I do not even recall getting any food there.

Next week however, the 49ers had another too close playoff game against the Giants in the NFC championship game, where the ending unfortunately did not go their way this time in a heartbreaking loss in overtime. I was pissed off for a good two or three days afterwards. I will never forget having to go almost directly to work after the loss to the Giants in no mood to talk to anybody, and at least being mildly comforted by a few sympathetic coworkers when I walked in.

The 2012 season was filled with a little controversy with Harbaugh benching a well playing Smith for Colin Kaepernick after he played surprisingly well against top teams filling in for an injured Smith. It has proved to be the smart move in the long run, because Kaepernick has broken out as both a great passing and sprinting QB, and is unquestionably the future of the franchise.

Last week I watched the 49ers and Packers battle in the divisional playoffs. I had to prep up and wear as much Niners gear as possible. I ordered a much needed new 49ers hat and tshirt, both way overpriced at I busted out my old, grungy, filthy, partially ripped apart late '90s 49ers Starter coat, and had a 49ers headband on to boot as you can see in the attached picture! I rooted for the Niners with fellow fan and friends Derek and Brooke! I was on edge for the entire game, even the when the 49ers started to run away with it in the third quarter.

Now we have yesterday where the 49ers faced the Falcons in the NFC Conference game. I was relieved the Falcons just barely squeaked by the Seahawks, because they had our number this year, crushing the Niners both times they squared off in the regular season. I got all decked out in Niners gear again and rejoined Derek and Brooke to root on the Niners to the Super Bowl. However, I was devastated and in a bad place when the Falcons pulled out ahead to an early 17-0 lead. I had to make sure to take out my aggression on Twitter. Friend and Seahawks fan John, replied back to me with a little empathy, reminding me as evidence of last week the Falcons are capable of blowing a huge lead.

To my surprise, Kaepernick and company did mount a comeback. Gore got a pair of huge rushing touchdowns, and the tight end that everyone forgot about for the last several weeks, Vernon Davis reminded everyone why he was so awesome coming through with several big catches! Atlanta hung in there until the very end, and for the final hour of that game I was unbelievably nervous and on edge. I was barely sitting down, leaning close to the TV, and for the last couple of minutes I was pacing back and forth, in all likelihood freaking out Derek and his girlfriend in the process! When Matt Ryan threw his final pass as time expired, well short of a touchdown all three us of us jumped up and down in triumph and embraced in a victory hug for the ages! Words cannot describe how happy I was to see the 49ers make it to their first Super Bowl in nearly 20 years. For the next good half hour or so we all were in this state of disbelief and shock, but it felt great!

49ers are Super Bowl bound in two weeks and I have never felt better. If things do not go our way....well please disregard this blog and do not contact me for at least a few days.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Resolution #1 - Run a Half Marathon - in training

For those of you that follow me on Facebook, you have most likely seen my frequently recurring running progress updates from my RunKeeper app for the past several months(unless you decided to hide them, then boo on you ;)). As I mentioned in my previous blog, I made 12 resolutions for 2012 and one of them from the outset was to start going to the gym. I joined the newly opened Planet Fitness in town, which had an irresistible rate of $10/month, and started going regularly to the gym a few times a week from the first week of the year on.

Around the time I started going I had a few friends that started to go on a big gym/health kick a few months before. They were pretty happy with their results, and understandably promoting their new lifestyle. Also going on in the beginning of 2012 I somehow managed to come through and defy odds of a random personal goal I set for myself: no hamburgers or pizza for a 100 days. I lost a little bit of weight, not too much from that stretch and wanted to do more to keep it off and then some, so combining that with the persistent nudging from a few friends led to me enrolling in the gym a little over a year ago.

I knew I wanted to focus on cardio and trying condition myself to long runs from the get go. I also knew I had no conditioning whatsoever for running. Smart, I know. I think a couple of times the previous year I only managed to run a block before getting gassed. So I started slow, primarily walking for ten minute stretches on the treadmill, with only thirty seconds of running in the middle, and I would dread those thirty seconds every single time like I dread watching a Transformers movie. After a few workouts, I would step it up to 45 seconds of running, and after a few more, a whole freaking minute of nonstop running.

You get the idea, these were babysteps, but freaking huge steps for me. Come summertime last year once it got nice enough outside, I was going out on near one mile runs. Then I moved across town in May and had a plethora of new running options available to me on the other side of town. Within a few weeks, I plotted myself a new mile and a half stretch I got comfortable to running and stuck with that route for about a month until I got crazy ambitious one day and tried a new route that was triple what I was use to at that point, nearly three and a half miles! Then I made the terrible mistake to do my first run on that route nonstop with no breaks. I have no idea how, but I found the willpower to pull it off, but I was really sore and hurting for the next few days because of it.

I persevered however and stuck with that route, with two well timed breaks, which eventually transitioned into one break, and by the end of the summer I made a few tweaks to that route where it went from three and half miles to four and a quarter. At this point however, that ever so familiar North Dakota winter started to reemerge and it was back to running indoors on the treadmill. I admire all the winter runners out there, but I absolutely dread slipping and wiping out on the ice, I took three tumbles doing regular summer running last year so I do not want to imagine my odds come winter time.

A few months back when I started to run again on the treadmill, I got into this nasty habit of stepping up my running almost every other run. Be it upping my speed just .1 mph or an extra minute in the entire run. The results have been dramatic, I have nearly doubled the amount I conditioned myself from running in three months from four and a half miles to eight and a half and counting. This led to me giving a lot of serious thought into running a half marathon about a month ago, and as a serious goal to push myself to.

A big part of me was afraid to sign up for it. "Maybe I should just be content on doing a 5k or 10k." But I still had this huge part of my conscience nagging at me for not doing any sports in high school, and felt I was capable of doing more. I have come a long way this past year, and as much as I hate to admit it, I actually ENJOY running now. Somehow I found it quite liberating the longer the duration. I just feel that not only completing the race, but trying my absolute best to practice for it and perform well in this half marathon would be the quintessential exclamation point on what I have worked towards this past year. I know I am getting in over my head and there are no doubt many more experienced and veteran runners that will be competing, but rest assured I will be giving 110% out there.

So, on Christmas day a few weeks ago I ended up buying myself the present of registering to run in the Fargo half marathon come this May. A half marathon is just over 13 miles, I still have another four and a half miles to condition myself for. A week ago I did something else I fear I may end up having disastrous results. I was informed by my friend Justine of the annual "Frozen Feat" 5k/10k race about a month out from now right in Grand Forks. As noted above, I am petrified of wiping out in the winter, and I am just not too keen on running in freezing temperatures either. I initially laughed off the Frozen Feat, but then my aforementioned conscience kept nagging at me that this would be a great way to warm up for the half marathon and experience that race day atmosphere whether it is 35 or 80 degrees out.

So against all my better judgment I ended up signing up for the Frozen Feat a few days ago and come next payday am going to make a trip down to Scheels to pick up some outdoor running gear I have been researching.

This is where I stand right now working towards running a half marathon, expect another blog updating this resolution around the time of the Frozen Feat race a month from now and if I managed to survive it unscathed.

Photo credit - Red River Runners Club Facebook Page

Monday, January 14, 2013


Hello everyone and welcome to my new blog, Dale's Quest of 13 Resolutions for 2013! Make sure to add this blog to your feed, or bookmark right now.

The reason behind this blog is because last year I tried a similar experiment to complete 12 resolutions in 2012 and kept a log at home. I debated about publicizing my progress in a blog, but procrastinated against it. I ended up coming through on 8 of my 12 goals last year, which was far more than I ever thought I would, and in order to try to pull through on all 13 resolutions for 2013, I came to the conclusion to publicly blog my progress, whether I pull succeed or fail at each and every goal.

To keep up the mystery, I will not be revealing all my goals right off the bat, but rest assured the list is made and it is tacked to my wall above my computer staring me in the face every single day, right now as I type this as a matter of fact. There are some major personal goals on this list, along with a few leisurely ones for kicks to keep things interesting. You can keep track of each and every resolution as the year progresses by looking on the navigation bar at the side as I will tag each blog with the resolution it is relative too. Make sure to follow me on twitter @Gruel as I will tweet whenever a new blog is posted!

I was pondering whether or not to include this blog as one of the actual resolutions itself, but that seemed like too much of a gimme. This blog will be the first major piece of online writing I will try to regularly post and maintain in over a year. I wrote for several websites before in my old quest of trying to become a videogame journalist for 12 years before a few unexpected turns that occurred in the span of a few months in 2011 drove me away from that goal all together. I knew I needed a break desperately, and after some sporadic pieces of writing throughout 2011 and early 2012 I forced myself on a year hiatus of writing. This blog seems like a fresh start, and a much needed change of pace from the plethora of videogame writing I spent the past decade plus on.

Thanks again for joining me on this journey, and please feel free to contact me or comment below!