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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

I stumbled upon awesomeness!!

So I am out of my usual Vega protein that I really love. I have a tub of Garden Of Life though so I check to see what else I had. There it was… some Vega Accelerator. The simple equation hit me, add the two and maybe, just maybe, it’d taste like a creamsicle. Vanilla and tropical flavors should at least be close right? It worked and I am a friggin genius! (just kidding, not kidding)

Recovery done right!!

vegagardenoflifeOrange Creamsicle

2 cups water
1 scoop Vega recovery accelerator (tropical)
1 scoop Garden of Life raw protein (vanilla)
6 ice cubes

Shake it up and BAM!! Liquid gold!


Clarification of a Goal: Performance

A friend of mine posed a question today on Facebook:

“If you had to choose between looking the way you want but having lower performance in sports events, OR not looking the way you want but having sports performance unaffected which would you prefer and why? (Phoenix from The Spotted Chair)”

Initially, I responded with:

“In all honesty, I’d prefer performance over looks. Of course I would like to look at a certain way, but looks aren’t going to help me finish a 50k or other endurance events. I want to finish, not get a DNF but look good. Do I want to look a certain way? Sure, but at 41 it’s getting harder and harder. So I train for performance now.”

That was six hours ago and it’s been on my mind since then.

As you’ve read, I recently competed in the Winter Death Race (WDR). This was my first DNF (did not finish). I cannot attribute any other reason for that DNF other than I was not as prepared I thought. I wasn’t going into it thinking I was doing it to look good either, because, to be honest, I was not in the best shape either. So there were fails on both fronts considering the question that has been asked.

Read more

Pride and Humble-pie!

lakeJust got back from camping over the weekend. It was a nice break from the constant grind of work and renovation.

My sons, nephew, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and myself took a long hike on Saturday. It was roughly 2 hours and covered just over 3 miles, closer to 4. I’m extremely proud of my nephew who wasn’t thrilled about the hike but did it anyway. I am proud of my 6 year old because he has such tiny legs yet kept up the whole time. I am uber proud of my sister-in-law for pushing through. As a diabetic heading out on that type of a challenge without support (we didn’t pack any snacks, ugh) could be dangerous. We got back to camp and she was about 10-15 minutes shy of getting into trouble with her blood sugar. A few pineapple slices and other fruit and she was back to normal.

Today, I was humbled. My wife and I set off to swim across the lake, then come back the same way. Well, nearly half way there my legs started tiring and I was using more of my arms in my stroke and fatigued. I panicked a bit, doubted myself, and turned back. It felt like failure, and still does. It stung, bad. That said, my wife killed it. She swam across the lake in 8:30 minutes!! She took a brief break and came back the same way in the same time. She killed it and I couldn’t be more proud.

For me? Back to the drawing board and to kick start this forsaken training….

As a Red Sox fan it pains me to quote this, but it is from here on out my driving force…” I love it when people doubt me. It makes me work harder to prove them wrong.” ~ Derek Jeter


Spahtens Invade Unleashed

NE Spahtens at UnleashedYesterday a group of Spahtens hit the road from various locations to hit Unleashed in Warwick, RI. Unleashed is a unique facility that focuses on Obstacle Fitness & Functional Training. They are the largest indoor training facility of it’s kind in the New England region. They offered to put together a special day for us Spahtens to train and play at their awesome gym. This date was set up as an alternative to running Rebel Race, which is not only a horrible event but they actually cancelled this particular date as it got closer. We’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, we were able to open a few people’s eyes as to the danger they would be getting themselves into by running such an event due to their sordid past.

Paul graciously picked me up for this trip and was anxious to spread some new Spahten love, winter hats. He also brought his camera gear to shoot the session, all photos used here are one’s he took.

We walked in and it was quite a spectacle. There were walls, there was a masochistic looking contraption, otherwise known as a saw tooth monkey bar rig. It had a cargo net on one side, rings for ring dips on the other. They managed to squeeze in a weight hoist in two different spots, and had a traverse rope extended the length of it. I can’t remember all of it, but this thing was the real deal!! This was going to be intense, I got the same butterfly feeling of nerves and excitement I get before a race.

A couple of the local race’s were present to see how it went down, including Tuff Scramblers, BoldrDash and F.I.T. Challenge. A couple vendors even showed up to teach about their products and fuel the team. They were Core Power and Go Nuts, Co. Thanks to you all for coming out and networking! 561528_547759688645715_370987693_n

Our instructor for the day, Kevin, laid out the plan. There were 18 different obstacle stations, we were to be rotated in and out of each one after a couple to few minutes. Before that though, we needed to warm up. He took us out for a quick run to a playground where we ran a bit, climbed some little barriers, did burpees, etc. We sprinted back to Unleashed and it was go time.

Forgive me from the jump here, I am not going to remember all of the obstacles and in which order they were run, but I will do my best to get to each one and my experience with them. AND, as you will see, this is rather long-winded. I wanted to make sure you, the reader, truly understood how awesome this place is though!

RUNNING: Of course the first station I was given was more running. I had to run around the building, up and down a short grade, as many times as I could until time passed. Nothing major to see here, it was just running, move along folks.

WALL TRAVERSE: The evil geniuses at Unleashed did not set this particular obstacle up themselves, but worked with what they had. Behind the facility was a large brick/ stone wall. You basically had to work your way across is. Plain and simple.

BARBWIRE CRAWL: Next came the “barbwire” crawl. This is pretty cut and dry if you’ve ever done an OCR, every race has a variant of this. Due to obvious insurance reason, Unleashed did not have barbed wire, but string. It was still effective as you had to remain under it the whole time. I did this back and forth a few times, rolling on way, crawling the other. After the run and crawls, my legs were already starting to burn, fantastic! Mike McKenzie

LEAPING BOX JUMPS: I was a bit daunted at first with these, not by the short one’s but by the tall one in the middle. You basically had to jump from one box to the other. You were allowed to jump up on one, then down to the ground after, but my goal was to box jump from box to box. They were setup so the first was lower, maybe 12″, the middle was higher and could have been 24″, and the third was another low one. I blew myself away at how I was able to stay off the ground after each circuit through. And I thought my legs were burning before this, yeah right, they were downright fried after this exercise.

STANDING/ UPRIGHT SLED PULL: Not 100% on the weight, but it looked like there were three plates on the sled and I am not sure on the distance but guessing the sled was about 80-100ft away from the pull spot. Not much else to say except you grab the dang rope, pull that sled toward you, push it back and start over. The suck was starting to set in!

CorinneBUDDY CARRY: Fairly simple task, grab a bag shaped similar in shape and weight to a small human and carry it back and forth a 100ft or so. Before each sprint out, do some squats. Sprint, squat, sprint, squat…

BACK SLED PULL: Just like the standing/ upright sled pull except your are laying down on your back pulling the rope. This movement is to simulate rope climbing and you can really feel it. I believe this sled had the same weight as the other. After destroying my legs, the upper body was gasping for a reprieve at this point, and we were just getting warmed up…

6 & 8 FOOT WALL CLIMBS: We’ve all seen this, and depending on your skill level, you either hate them or love them. I love the 6 footer, it’s just a hop and over, it’s great. But, being vertically challenged, getting over the 8 footer has been the bane of my existence. As Dikembe Mutombo says, not today, not in my house!! I sized up that damn wall, hit it and over I went. I got to hit it three times and knocked it out three times!! Yay me!!

10 FOOT WALL CLIMB w/ ROPE: Grab the line, repel yourself over, repel back down. There it is. You’ve seen em, you’ve climbed em. It’s all about refinement, get it done and find a way that works best!!

ROPE TRAVERSE: I have yet to deal with this obstacle and was dreading it a bit. I had overheard Kevin coaching someone else about a technique and I tried it. Basically you grab on, get your feet on the rope and basically walk your feet along, not drag them. My upper body was toast so I couldn’t make it the whole length, but I definitely feel comfortable learning Kevin’s technique and if I face a traverse rope again, I am confident I can complete it.

KETTLE-BELL HOIST: This was probably the simplest task of the day, the kettle-bell was not that heavy. But, it was all about refining technique, so I was able to try a few things that worked for me and should work well for future races.

CARGO NET: Another simple task, climb up the net and back down. For those feeling adventurous, present company accounted for, you could climb the next and then bear crawl over the saw tooth monkey bars to the other side and then climb down. I did this a couple times then time was up.

RING DIPS: They had some regular rings or you could try out this ring contraption that had a belt on it. Basically you used you own body weight to leverage yourself up. I would love to play on this some more when I am not completely burnt out. I used to love the rings as a kid and wanted to even learn gymnastics just because of the rings. But alas… here I am.. lol

LADDER CLIMB: The next couple obstacles are cut and dry. This was a dangling rope ladder, you climb up, you climb down. I found as I got about half way up I was swaying a bit from side to side, almost to a spin. Maybe I was wobbling because of the fact I was burnt the heck out. Either way, it was fun and taxing on the body.

ROPE CLIMB: Although I said the next couple are cut and dry, the ropes were nice because they were not all the same size and type. A couple of them were larger, one knotted, and were those white, almost waxy, ropes. There’s not much grip on those, at least not to me. They had two others that were a bit thinner and made more of a rough style rope, which was perfect. Kevin gave me the leg brake technique, something I had yet to learn. I still have to work on it, seemed like it pulled too much on my knee. Next time I will get this down!

SLED PUSH: Grab the 80lb sled, push it on the pavement outside down a hill, and then push it back. It’s all there is too it! It was much easier going down, not because of gravity, but I think it was more the pavement grain was going downhill rather than up. This may have been the most simple task of the day but could have been the most brutal!

TIRE FLIP: I always have enough gas left to flip me some tires!! Not sure the weight but the course of action was to flip it 10 times down and then ten times back. I thought I would be completely spent by this time, but I kept it going and grabbed onto that knobby sob and flipped away!!

BAG MOTION SQUAT: Aaaand finally we get to the last task, at least on my circuit from where I had started. You squat down, grab a weighted bag, squat back up, curl it into your chest and start banging out squats until time was up. This took everything I had left, and my quads are TOAST today!!

After a brief intermission, chit chat session the gym was ours to work on [articular obstacles we felt we needed some help on. Then, after that, Kevin offered to take those that wanted to, out for an hour long trail run.

So now you know why YOU NEED to check out Unleashed. Besides the fact the facility is spot on, the way they charge their members is great too. Rather than your pricey CrossFit gym where you get charged whether you go twice in a month or thirty days, here you can purchase a non expiring punch card and drop in when you want. Their trainers are top notch and do not talk down to you. They are there to help and I see this business model being a huge success. I already can’t wait to go again… Did I say plans may be in the works for another outing? HMM??

Incorporate these exercises into your run, you might thank us!

James Horgan, a card carrying member of the MA Spahtens, suggested we come up with a few exercises to incorporate into a running routine. The hopes was the exercises be practical, and that you would not have to carry anything to make them possible.

So, we came up with a  list of ten that we think will strengthen the WHOLE body only using your body weight. The idea is, after every mile (more than likely on a three mile run) to run through a set of these. There are no particular reps you HAVE to do, just do what your body says you CAN do. This list may change, nothing is static, change is inevitable. We hope that with these exercises, you will feel that change.

These exercises, and video links, were compiled by Eric Matta, another card carrying member. Thanks for your work Eric.

1 – Burpees (full body)

2 – V sit Crunches (core)

3 – Lunges (quads, glutes)

4 – Divebombers (shoulders)

5 – Pullups, find a tree, bench, ledge.. (back)

5 – Squat jumps, elbows to knees (full body)

7 – Russian twist (core)

9 – Air Squats (quads)

6 – Plank (core)

10 – Pushups AMRAP (chest, arms)

Let us know how it goes, we’d love to know how you incorporate this into your lives. AROOO!!!