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Review: “Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing”

offcourseWe all have our stories of suffering through the VT Beast, a hard fought push through the finish, or even just a silly themed mud-run. This book, “Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing”, unlike all the OCR training guides; is the written journey of a woman who has taken on triathlons but had been dealing with nagging injuries. After proverbially writing off running altogether, Erin Beresini found OCR and fell in love with it, as many of us have.

“Off Course…” pulls back the veil of what it takes to not only train for an Ultra-Beast, which Erin completed, but also walks us through the emotion, pain and absolute suck that only Killington mountain can serve up. Her wit and humility make for a great read. I found myself not only nodding my head when I knew exactly what she was going through, but I laughed out loud more than once too.

Erin also delves into the history of OCR and has done a fantastic job of crafting the story-line of how it all began, where it is, and where she thinks it may go. From Mr. Mouse to Joe Desena to Will Dean and more, Erin takes us inside some of the dark parts too. From the rivalry between Spartan Race and Tough Mudder, to the lawsuits against Tough Mudder via Mr. Mouse (who runs Toughguy in England) and even the details on the athlete that drowned at a Tough Mudder some time back.

I’d definitely give her an A for getting down to the nitty gritty of what has gone on behind the scenes. I appreciate the fact she is also not writing with rose colored glasses on. Unless I missed something, there is not an ounce of OCR polarity in this book. She takes umbrage with anyone and writes what some might not want to say. Are the facts shocking? Maybe not to us, I mean you are on this page because you are “in the know” as far as the OCR scene goes, right? We all know that Will Dean is “Mark Zuckerberg” of OCR, like Erin likes to call him. We all know that Joe Desena is a tyrant, but a tyrant who has an interest in bringing us back to our primal selves. Knowing what we know about these characters, some of the antics will not surprise you but you will just shake your head and say, “yup, that’s who ___ is alright!”

It’s a quick read. Erin’s words are light-hearted and you’ll find yourself cheering at times for her. At other times you may slouch down in your seat as she faces some of the barriers that you very well have faced on a course or two.

It’s and excellent read, I suggest it 100%!

Check out the book details at http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Off-Course/9780544055520 where you can purchase the book direct from the publisher.

You can also find it on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Off-Course-Inside-Obstacle-Racing/dp/0544055322

Erin also has her own persoanl page, which links to her old Triathlon blog which was interesting to look back on, go to http://www.erinberesini.com/ to check that out if it interests you!

Grace

bcf41756a6a665d6cdb62c77c2d0dda4Off to Myles Standish State Park for a little camping trip, yet I cannot stop thinking about Pittsfield; especially today as the Summer Death Race kicks off. I started thinking of nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc that might sum up what the racers are going to encounter. Fear came to my mind most willingly as did pain, discomfort, frustration, confusion, failure, etc. I bounced these words around so much and tried to find one positive in them all and it came to me; grace. It was probably after I read the following quote from one of my all-time heroes:

“Fearlessness may be a gift but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions, courage that could be described as “grace under pressure” — grace which is renewed repeatedly in the face of harsh, unremitting pressure.” ~ Aung San Suu Kyi

You can define grace in so many ways. such as: (from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/grace)

grace; (noun)

1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.

The racers must face their fears with grace. To stop the momentum of it would be giving in to failure, which is not even closet to what grace is defined as. Fluid and constant that is the type of grace needed.

2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.

They will doubt the measure of grace they embody. That is more of the race than anything, the doubt that is cast by the tasks and by the mental challenges. They must dig deep, extremely deep and dust this off, it is there

3. favor or goodwill.

There will be those on that mountain that define grace in this way, yet they may be unseen, or unheard from. The grace shown by the support teams is immense and so important to a Death Racer, they may seem benign at time. This is far from the case, 110% of the time. Crew has more grace in their tiny little pinky finger than most. They subject themselves to the same race and endure the same conditions. All to help back those who are taking on the challenge of their lives, that folks is grace!

4. a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.

Especially important is to admire and inspire with grace. Whether that is manifested by a DR veteran or not, the grace is there and the noobs must be able to see it and follow it.

5. mercy; clemency; pardon.

There will be no grace in the hallowed stare and boisterous tone of the RD’s voices.

Said plainly: Joe, Andy and other’s are there to break you.

They pull no punches and have said it themselves, they expect you to quit.

They expect you to cry.

They expect you to find whatever excuse it is that you will use to get out of the race.

They expect from the moment they lock eyes with you that you will cower and not make it through the race.

Do you have enough to get through and not let their scorn deny you an experience?

Do it with dignity, integrity and modesty. Be humble and strong. Do not let other’s define your experience and what you will or will not be at the end. Channel grace in whatever form works for you, the world is watching and win or lose; grace is what truly defines you.

What am I thinking?

I asked myself this past weekend at Superhero Scramble, what am I thinking. It was at the “Hell Freezes Over” obstacle that I began to question what the hell I had gotten myself into by signing up for the WDR.

After the initial jump over fire into the water, it was over the berm my question became pronounced. There was a pool of water filled with ice. This is similar, I believe, to Tough Mudder’s “Arctic Enema” obstacle. You had to wade into the pool of ice, submerse yourself under a beam, and get to the other side.

I got out and was instantly shivering. The front of my foot, maybe the tendons, felt frozen. Maybe they were cramping, I don’t know. The fact of the matter is, I second guessed myself.

I’m thinking it’s going to be extremely necessary to start immersing myself into cold water, OFTEN! Whether it’s an ice bath or jumping into random bodies of water that are unpleasantly cold.

Either way, I have my work cut out for me!

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Thankful in 2013

The past year was rife with change. The word struggle is nothing new, challenges were faced on a near daily basis. That said, I have SO MUCH to be thankful for this year.

I am thankful for my wife. I am humbled that my wife Leah, chose me to share this life with. She brightens up my day with just a smile. No matter how far I fall, she is there to help me up. She is the yin to my yang, more literally than anyone can ever know!!

I am thankful for my three great children. Xena, Alex and Colin fill my heart with joy seeing the way each of them have grown and become their own person. Watching this happen on a daily basis is awe inspiring to say the least.

I am thankful for my family. This year we faced one of the hardest moments. My father passed this year after struggling with Cancer. While we knew it was coming, and had prepared the best we could, it was not easy. He did spend his last few days comfortably and surrounded by my mom, brothers, sister and I. I am thankful for everything he taught me. It may not have seemed like a lesson at the moment, but in the long run, everything he said and or did makes perfect sense now.

I am thankful for my job. I am lucky to work for such a great company. No matter how large it gets, they legitimately care about the little guy in the company. They never lose sight of the fact it started as a company founded on a family first ideal, and they live up to that. I am thankful they are like, as Leah calls it, our military in a way. We have been able to move a few times and still keep the same job. That is amazing!

I am thankful for my ocr team. The New England Spahtens could be included in the family tier I am so thankful for above, that’s what they mean to me and the other members. The team has grown exponentially over the past year and it’s amazing to see it happen so organically. Like a family, they are there for one another no matter who they are. I am blown away to call myself a Spahten!!

I am thankful for so much more, the sun, the moon, the earth and sky. If you look around there are so many things to be thankful for. The material things aside, life is friggin good people, never forget it!!

Huge Day Tomorrow!!

spartanfenwayHaving moved to Nashville last year, I missed the first Spartan Race at Fenway Park. I was beside myself, I am a huge Red Sox fan and a huge fan of the Spartan Race series. It would have been awesome, but alas I was unable to make it.

Fast forward a year, my family has moved back to Massachusetts, the Sox won the friggin World Series and Spartan Race is going to be there again tomorrow. And, so will I!!!

That said, the task ahead seems a bit daunting. Minus a couple runs and a day training at Unleashed in RI, I have done nothing but work and sit on my rear. I am hoping, HOPING, that this test set before me is another spark to get me going again.

While I am fearful of the day, I look forward to it, and look forward to reporting back on how it went!!

Never Forgotten!!

A couple of days ago I said goodbye to my father.

He was the best man I will ever know, and hope to mimic in my life. For years now he has kept his cancer at bay the best he can, to make sure affairs were in order for my mother to be set. He nearly always had a hammer or tool in hand to not only make sure the home they shared was in good shape, or to help the neighbors because he knew the quality of his work. He was one of the best at his craft, anyone who knew him would never question that.

He served his country in Vietnam, again, a selfless act as he was always putting others ahead of himself.

While our relationship was tumultuous as a teen, the lessons I learned from him will continue to bear fruit.

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Intent

My plan with this new blog is pretty straightforward, to chronicle my move into the forties. That said, posts will include, and will not be limited to, updates on fitness, supplement reviews, obstacle race reviews, race gear reviews, etc. With my previous blog, I reviewed a lot of books, and would love to do more of that. I reviewed books for some of the larger publishing firms, such as Penguin, Harper, Shambhala Publications, Wisdom Books, Snow Lion Publications, Public Affairs books and more.

If interested, my old blog is archived at http://preciousmetal.wordpress.com. It was from a spiritual angle. Although I keep a bit of that, it has become somewhat a part of me, it’s become less of a “label” to attach to myself.

Over the next few days I will also be reposting some content from that blog, and from a blog I write for (an obstacle racing team blog, the New England Spahtens).

So, here’s to a new blog and a new journey to share. I hope you enjoy!

ps. I would love to link up with other similar blogs/ pages. E-mail me at natedemontigny@gmail.com and let’s talk

Welcome!

Just created this blog, 5/29/2013, and the content is not here…. yet!!

As the name insinuates, I am approaching the wonderful age of 40. That said, it seems the best years, not to be cliche, are those that are ahead. I have found myself, after such a long time. The past few years I have made a 360 in my life. My relationships have strengthened, and finally I am taking care of myself. Exercise and stuff like that never, ever held any weight in my life. But, having been bit by the obstacle racing bug, there has been no looking back.

I hope to chronicle my journey, as well as share with you what has happened over the past couple years in my training and what I have found works, and what does not work.

So here’s to 40 (which isn’t coming until February, but I am ready) and not looking back, instead, looking forward with FEROCITY!!

Off the couch, Off the cushion

REPOSTED FROM MY OLD BLOG….

I’ve been away for a little while… my apologies for the gap in between postings here.

My travels on the “spiritual path” over the past 5, almost 6, years led me to a place I was getting very uncomfortable with. I needed to make some decisions and choose what was most important to me. My life, due to an inadequate amount of energy, ambition and motivation had become stagnant.

For to long I had neglected not only my close relationships, but neglected my health.  Sitting around all day on the couch, tapping away at this computer was not any sort of rigorous activity. Seated upon my zafu, while good for my mind, was doing nothing for me but bringing me closer to a state of contentment. I was ok with just being! Sorry to all the great teachers and masters that say “just be”, it is not that easy, nor does it just make sense.

To “just be” indicates a level of complacency, it means being ok with what and where you are in life. It also means, there is no change, that things just are what they are. To that I stick my middle finger high in the air, I am not ok with it at all! Change is not something that happens, shit happens.

Change is something that is strived for, something we work at. You can’t expect it to happen without putting in a little work, without getting up and doing something about it. It goes for any area of our lives, we need to do something.

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