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It’s the most wonderful time, of the year… Ragnar week is coming!

No, it’s not Christmas in May. It is time for the Ragnar Relay to invade Cape Cod again though, and to me, that’s nearly as good as Christmas. Last year was my first and it was so much fun. Running 3 times in 24 hours was just a side effect, the awesomeness of Ragnar is spent traversing the 192 mile course with a team of 12 broken down into two vans of six.

Last year was so much fun. I knew all the guys I was sharing the van with as we had been racing obstacle courses for a while as part of the New England Spahten team. Most of the guys on the team I had known since the team began in 2012, so we had quite a bit to talk about. The camaraderie was as solid as it gets, and at the end of the race we were like brothers.

This year is different though and while I am excited, I am super nervous. Minus social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, I really do not know any of the people I am running with. I’ve been talking to some of them since the last Ragnar though, that’s how I knew about them. Ironically, one of the teammates I will be in a van with is friends with a family that I consider part of my own family. That sounds more confusing than it is… Point is, it could be awkward; or you would think it would be.

Thing is, I don’t think it’s going to be at all. You see, we have more than racing in common; we share moral and ethical values. A couple of years ago I went vegan for my health, but like any choice or life change, once you head down a path your eyes open to much more. We adapt and evolve with each change we make. I went what I thought was “plant-based” but that lifestyle morphed into veganism. And while they may seem so much the same, they are not as close as you might think.

This year at Ragnar is going to be much different from last because of veganism. You see, the team is very outspoken and while they wear their emotions and consciousness on their proverbial sleeve, they also wear it on their chest. If you are around Cape Cod next week you will see us, dressed in mostly black with bold white lettering on our gear that proudly says, “Strong Hearts Vegan Power,” we will most certainly be one of the most noticeable teams.

Last year the team was heckled here and there with the usual “BACON” cat calls, but for the most part people seemed interested in hearing the message. The folks at SHVP are not the preachy vegan types, they are willing to take the time to explain factual information, not just regurgitated one liners from documentaries. When I approached them they were nothing but welcoming.

So, maybe I’m not as nervous as I thought. I do know these people, they are me.

Bring it on Ragnar, SHVP is coming!

ps. Check out this video from last years Ragnar and SHVP.


SHVP & Maple Farm Sanctuary

maple farm sanctuary logoAs you may or may not know, this coming May I will be running the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay with a whole bunch of amazing people. These amazing people are all part of the Strong Hearts Vegan Power Team. At each Ragnar that the team runs, they raise money for a chosen beneficiary. This year Maple Farm Sanctuary in Mendon, MA is the chosen beneficiary and we need your help to make the final donation a big one. Here’s a bit more about SHVP and Maple Farms Sanctuary, taken from the GoFundMe project they have put together.

“Strong Hearts Vegan Power is a competitive vegan running team dedicated to both physical and social advancement through the vegan lifestyle, athletic development and varied means of activism. Through our running accomplishments and team exposure, we seek to further the cause of animal liberation by establishing ourselves as respected ambassadors for ethical veganism and athleticism.

In the summer of 2013, two friends decided to check out this crazy race series called Ragnar. It’s a 200-mile course split between 12 people, and this one in particular went up through the Adirondacks. With that as a basis, they gathered up an all-vegan team, and with a driver, took on the autumnal hills with a positive attitude and placed 26th out of 200+ teams, with the team comprised of runners of all abilities. That was the start of Strong Hearts Vegan Power.

The real growth came as we eyed the 2015 Cape Cod Ragnar. As word spread, our numbers grew, and where it was once a team of 12 runners and 1 driver, we were now looking at 36 runners and 6 drivers, all bringing a message of ethical veganism and athleticism. After an intense 24(ish) hours, the A Team placed 5th overall, and 3rd in the Mixed Open division. The three-team setup carried over this past fall when we returned to the Adirondacks, and with a “home-court” advantage, the A Team placed second overall, and first in the Mixed Open division, with even more new faces (many of them either new to veganism or to running).

We’re now getting ready to take on the 2016 Cape Cod Ragnar with 4 (yes, FOUR) teams of vegan athletes. That’s 48 vegan runners and 8 dedicated van drivers, keeping our runners safe and on track!

Our beneficiary for the 2016 Cape Cod Ragnar Relay is Maple Farm Sanctuary. Maple Farm Sanctuary is an animal sanctuary providing lifelong homes for abused, abandoned and unwanted farmed animals while promoting veganism and respect for all life through public information.

Maple Farm Sanctuary has taken in a fraction of the billions of farmed animals that are bought, sold, tormented and slaughtered by the meat, dairy and fur industries. Learn more about their lifesaving work at www.maplefarmsanctuary.org

Please consider making a donation in support of team Strong Hearts Vegan Power and Maple Farm Sanctuary.

For the animals,
Team Strong Hearts Vegan Power

Chris Cooney, Sean Scott (captain), Peter Nussbaum, Alan Dumond, Pulin Modi, Micah Risk, Samantha LeBlanc, Kendra Murphy, Adrian Centoni, Joseph Burns, Ian Sherlock, Giuseppe Cavallo, Dana Portnoy (co-captain), Aaron Zellhoefer, Meghann Wilson, Skott Daltonic, Jay Phillips, Laura Gardner (co-captain), Samuel Hartman, Lia Belardo, Suzie Constantin, Rachel Atcheson, Scott Spitz (captain), Lauren Harper, Nate DeMontigny, Heather Ryan, Joan Albert, Jessica Ryle, Sheila Bailey, Alex Shopov, Carrie Howerton, Joel Capolongo (captain), Lauren LaPierre, Marie Gryszowka, Brian Hahn, Lana Stafford, Erin Jaskiewicz, Christine LaDuca, Brian Smith, Aaron Bell (co-captain), Candace Bell, Melissa Centoni, Joe Stawiarz, Rachel Wellner, Kaitlin Long (captain), Jeremy Ritz-Totten, Jordan Black, Michael Harren, Honey LaBronx, Molly Wason, Jason Young (co-captain), Carrie Hineline, Casey Johnston, Nicholas Broat, Jasmin Singer, Sheera Witt”


Today was a big day; I RAN!

Two months ago I had an accident and received a traumatic concussion. Not only has it kept me from writing, but I haven’t been able to run. The dizziness and headaches have kept me away from all physical activity actually. I even had to go on light duty at work for a month. It was the worst 1-2 month span that I have had in a while!

Even though I eat right, I gained 5+ pounds during that time. Normally it is super difficult for me to gain weight, this was not the weight I was hoping to gain though.

Yesterday, my wife and I went to Sears just to poke around and see what type of gym equipment they had. We ended up buying a home gym set up and a recumbent bike! What?! It’s not going to be delivered for another two weeks though.  But, ya, I’m pretty sure it was my bodies way of saying it’s time.

Later on that day, my brother called and wanted to go to the gym. Now, the universe was intervening! It was time to try something physical and see how my head reacted. Thankfully the only thing sore today is my triceps and back, but that’s from lifting things up and putting them down! YAY!

I wanted to keep the momentum up and decided to go for a short run. It was barely a 5k but the good news is, I felt great. Again, no dizziness and no headaches; that’s a win-win to me! Here’s hoping I can keep it going, I miss it!

Running For Something: Redux

This past September I wrote “Running For Something.” The short and tall of it hinted that this year, 2016, I would have more of a reason to run.

In the past, I ran as part of one of the largest obstacle racing communities, The New England Spahtens. It was only until recently that I was on the admin board of the team as I was one of the founding members. During the last year with the team, I ran as part of our mens team during the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay. I fell in love with the format of the race and enjoyed the camaraderie of the team during our time together.

IMG_0176From the beginning of the race I had seen another team that had some snazzy shirts; The Strong Hearts Vegan Power team. They seemed to be everywhere! It wasn’t until the stop at Nauset High School in Eastham that I had the opportunity to talk to them and see what they were all about. I walked up and introduced myself to Peter Nussbaum. I obviously knew what a vegan was, I was just unfamiliar that this particular team existed and that they were this large. Like many people at this pit stop, Peter was off to find some relief and pointed me toward some other teammates of his. I met Scott, Julie and Kathleen and they gave me more of the low down on the team. Read more

Expectation; A Personal Demon

I’m not sure about everyone else out there, but I have certain expectations of myself. I expect that no matter what, with training there should be progress. If I run often I should be able to run faster and farther, right? And when that doesn’t happen, I/we get down on ourselves and turn to the comfort items in our lives that might console us. Yesterday, I came to terms with the fact that it is not always how it is, nor how it should be.

During a not so brief 6 mile run, the anxiety crept in and I started getting down on myself. My pace was way off. I had taken a wrong turn. The place I wanted to get to was now out of reach for the distance I wanted to travel. Read more

I Finished My First 50k!

It’s Wednesday night and I think my legs are finally ready for a run, wow did they ache the past few days…

bib127This past Saturday, I attempted to run my first 50k ultra-marathon. Minus training leading up to the event, I had only run a half marathon distance for my longest. I was certainly out of my element, and looking back, maybe was out of my league. But, being the bullheaded person I am, I showed up at Noon Hill Rd in Medfield, MA at 6am ready to tackle the TARC Summer Classic!

Parking was super simple. This wasn’t like a major production race, instead of thousands of participants and cars, there was just about a hundred and most people carpooled if they could. The check-in table was just ahead of where I parked, a mere 15 foot traipse at that. I got , my bib, #127, went back to the truck to make sure I had everything I would need as the start line was a 1/4 mile jaunt up the dirt-road. Read more

50k Checklist, Beginners Edition

I say beginners edition because, well, I’m a beginner at this whole ultra thing. This will be my first 50k and maybe I’m over thinking, but I am a planner and have to make sure I have what I think I will need. I’ve gained valuable insight from folks on how to plan, prepare and so forth. So, for the beginners that may come after me, this is what works for me in my prep.

Of course I will bring a change of clothes, etc. The drive home is 2 hours, I’m not going to just sit in the funky 50k sweaty clothes on the way home, that’d be gross. Read more