Want More, Choose Better!

Another week closer to the reason I started this journey and I am feeling great. I seem to have a completely different outlook on training now and instead of dreading waking up early to train I now feel lost when something comes up to interfere with training. I enjoy my training now. I seem to have this nagging feeling of slight disappointment when I don’t think I am pushing myself hard enough or even think about taking an easier route. It’s almost as though I seek out ways to make my training harder. I forgot how good this makes me feel.

I have continued to incorporate my GoRuck into most of my training including weighted runs. I’m not sure where I derive more pleasure on weighted runs. I enjoy the burn and the burden and knowing that I can overcome the additional weight and any “coupons” I may find along my route. I think though I slightly enjoy seeing the looks on other people’s faces as they ride their bike or run by me. I tend to give them a thumbs up and a big smile. I suppose it may seem a little cocky in a sense that with that smile I give them I may actually be saying, “You look miserable running without extra weight and I couldn’t be happier with the extra 35 – 40 pounds on my back.” Instead it is meant as an invitation to join me in this good livin’.

On my latest weighted run my thoughts began to meander back to January of this year. I took some time during that run to reflect on how far I’ve come in less than a year. Back in January I could barely run 6 blocks without almost collapsing at the end. Here I was 10 months later with 35 pounds of bricks on my back on a 3 mile run with a smile on my face. I have a feeling that 10 -20 years from now I will look back on this year as the turning point in my life.

Yes it has taken some commitment and dedication and no it has not been an easy 11 months. However, all it takes to get going is a desire to change your life for the better. I think that desire ultimately lives inside all of us but sometimes needs a little push to get it going. I started out by choosing to be a better, stronger person. I then made a basic plan for how to get started and set a goal. After that, things just kind of found a way to work out.

I urge each and every one of you that have been following my blog to take a good look at yourself and decide whether you desire to be a better person. If the answer is yes then start taking those steps, as small as they may need to be at first. I have no specialized training but I would be willing to help anyone who so desires to get started.

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

Filed in Geoffrey |

Beware, the Holidays are Coming!

Last week started off pretty good with incorporating my new GoRuck GR1 into my training.  The bricks that I used for the GoRuck challenge have found a pretty good resting spot inside my GR1 and have accompanied me on all of my training last week.  I thought it was going to be a pain in the ass to carry around my ruck with bricks while I continue my training but instead it almost feels natural.  I think you’d have to try it out to understand it. 

Late in the week I decided to work on my hill training while carrying my ruck and so I did sprints up and down the levee with my bricks on my back.  The workout felt great and I certainly received a few “what the hell is wrong with that guy?” looks.  I think I may have enjoyed those looks a little too much.  Unfortunately, once I completed my sprints I felt some pain in my right thigh muscle.  This seems to be a problem area for me as I had the same injury while doing sprints a few months ago.  I think I will try a neoprene sleeve on my thigh to see if the compression helps any.  I will also focus more on stretching the area better prior to any sprint training.  Hopefully I can overcome this issue sooner rather than later.

With the holidays approaching I know most people start to fear weight gain with all the food and treats.  Fortunately for me, this has never been a problem for me and certainly won’t be this year as my training has allowed me to take off the few pounds that were starting to creep up on me.  My training partner, Tim, had been suggesting we run a Thanksgiving Day run which takes place in City Park, New Orleans the morning of Thanksgiving.  So it looks like I will have a chance to really work up an appetite for Turkey Day this year!

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

Filed in Geoffrey |

Thank You

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sacrifice as the “destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else” and further defines as “something given up or lost”. Every November, I, along with most Americans, take the time to say thank you to those veterans that have served or currently serve our great nation in the enduring battle for our freedom. It’s kind of fitting that Veterans Day also falls in the same month as Thanksgiving. You would think it was planned that way. This, however, was not the case. For those that do not know the history of Veterans Day I’d like to offer some historic insight.

November 11th was originally known as Armistice Day. This date marked the unofficial end to The Great War, now known as World War I, in 1918. An armistice was signed between Germany and the Allied nations that went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918, was generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, this unusually absurd war which was the first war to mix modern technology and pre-modern war tactics failed to end all wars. Instead, the Treaty of Versailles, the official end to World War I, arguably was the driving force behind the next almost globally encompassing war known as World War II.

Armistice Day was first celebrated in 1919 in America when President Wilson proclaimed, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”. In 1926, the United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

In 1938, November 11th was made a legal holiday to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.” With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. (http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/vetdayhistory.asp)

If ever you wanted to attempt to understand human folly do some research on World War I. I first read about World War I when I was in fourth grade. This led to my fascination of war history and respect for not only our American soldiers but for all soldiers. I read a book about World War I that focused on the Battle of Verdun. The Battle of Verdun was one of the deadliest and longest battles in all of war history with approximately 306,000 deaths and 500,000 wounded over the ten month long battle. What drew me in more than anything about World War I was the courage and bravery of the soldiers on both sides to go “over the top”, which meant to climb out of their trench and assault the opposing side after a hellacious run across what was known as “no man’s land”, over and over again knowing they most likely would be mowed down by an opposing machine gun or blown apart by artillery. It eventually took the Americans getting involved to show how idiotic trench warfare was and to advance through cover while assaulting the enemy instead of lining up on each side and shooting at each other for years with little to no movement in the front lines. To this day I still can’t fully grasp what makes a soldier advance under enemy fire.

No Man's Land

Soldiers

Soldiers crossing No Man's Land

Every Veterans Day I try to personally thank all of my family and friends that have served or currently serve. I wish I could do more to thank all veterans and I will continue to live my life the best I can to honor all veterans. So to all veterans, I thank you. From the bottom of my heart and from all I can ever aspire to be, thank you. Thank you for your service. Thank you for sacrificing your time with your family and friends. Thank you for having the courage to advance under enemy fire. Thank you to your families who bear the burden of not knowing if you will ever come home. Thank you for sacrificing your innocence. Thank you for believing in our great country. Thank you for putting yourself in harm’s way so my children can live free. Thank you especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  If there is ever anything I can do for any of you, just ask.

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

Filed in Geoffrey |

Inner Strength

Last week was a rollercoaster of emotions and attitudes for me.  Coming off the GoRuck Challenge I seemed to be on a GoRuck high through at least Tuesday or Wednesday.  Once I came down off the high I realized that I was in fact a different person.  It wasn’t like I was a completely transformed person mind you but different nonetheless.  It is almost like an increased inner strength an acknowledgement of confidence that has always been there but always just under the surface that has now been thrust to the forefront of who I am.  I can’t explain the pride I feel when I see my GoRuck Tough patch that I earned. 

My training last week was abbreviated since I was recovering physically from the GoRuck Challenge and still not sleeping very well with my 2 month old son still crying and eating at night.  My physical ailments and soreness went away pretty quickly but struggling to get enough sleep was my biggest issue.  I finally had a chance to go for a run on Friday morning and it felt great to get back out there.  The weather has certainly turned cooler and I am still adjusting my gear to see what works for the cooler temperatures.  This still seems better than dealing with the oppressive heat and humidity over the summer so for that I am thankful. 

My GoRuck GR1 rucksack came in the mail as well last week.  I ordered mine too late to use it during the GoRuck challenge so I will have to break it in on my own.  I have since used it to carry my gear and weights to the park for my circuit workout and I look forward to beating the hell out of it for years to come.  These rucksacks are a little expensive but they are made in America by hard working American workers and from what I have seen they look like they can take just about anything thrown at them.  I’ll certainly be posting more about it as I incorporate it into my training. 

GoRuck GR1

 We have added another teammate for the Tough Mudder Keep Movin’ team this week after one of my GoRuck teammates decided to join the fun.  The reservations for our camp site have been made and the rest of our planning is underway.  80 days seems further away than it is especially with the holiday season approaching.  I know our team is kicking their training into high gear these last few months and they’ll be ready to kick this Tough Mudder’s ass come January.

I do want to take a moment and remind you all that as part of the Tough Mudder experience we are also raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  If you are unfamiliar with the Wounded Warrior Project, click here to learn more.  You can also click here to support the Keep Movin’ team with donations to the Wounded Warrior Project.  These wounded soldiers need our help after sacrificing so much for our freedom.

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

Filed in Geoffrey |

GoRuck Challenge Class 079

Halloween weekend in New Orleans and everyone was ready to party.  My coworkers were all finalizing their costumes and talking about different parties and bars they would be hitting up over the weekend to celebrate a holiday that easily rivals Christmas here in New Orleans.  The French Quarter would be the main focal point of the costumed craziness to ensue and I wasn’t going to miss it.  I decided to wear a costume this year as well but I would not be enjoying the same type of celebration.  This year I decided to celebrate Halloween weekend with a rucksack filled with bricks, water, and food.  As most of you know, I decided to take on a GoRuck Challenge this Halloween weekend.  It was a crazy night for sure but one that will live with me forever and just may be a point in my life when I finally decided to take control of my future.

I started my journey to becoming a better, stronger version of myself back in January with the Tough Mudder challenge in January 2012 in mind as my goal.  Although the Tough Mudder is still my goal, I think after completing the GoRuck challenge the Tough Mudder should be a walk in the park.  I know a lot of you have asked to hear all about my GoRuck experience and I will certainly give you a good bit of the story but some things will stay with me and class 079 as they should.

I had a few expectations going into the GoRuck Challenge but for the most part I had no idea what I was in for.  I saw a quote somewhere from a GoRuck Cadre that states “if I have to explain what the GoRuck is you won’t understand it”.  If you want to learn more about it, click here.  Leading up to the GoRuck challenge, my class, 079, started to converse a little on facebook to get to know each other as much as possible before we started this journey together.  We decided to get together the evening before for a ruckoff where we could meet up and discuss our expectations for the challenge.  The ruckoff was a good chance to get to know each other and bounce ideas off of each other.  It’s also an opportunity, if you’ve never done anything like this before, to realize these fellow classmates are just normal looking people and not a bunch of juiced up looking bodybuilders.

As I was getting all of my gear together the day of the GoRuck, the butterflies in my stomach began to swirl.  I think it was mostly excitement with a little bit of nervousness of the unknown mixed in.  The temperature was expected to dip into the mid 40’s with a decent wind so I decided to wear an Under Armour cold gear long sleeve shirt and shorts.  I picked up some Mechanix gloves, a Nike running cap, and some running socks that wick moisture away.  I figured we would be moving around enough that I would stay pretty warm.  I was pleased with my choice of clothing as I only felt cold for a brief period of time and that was only because of an unexpected stop.  Let’s just say this stop was several hours in and someone was getting a little hungry and thought it a good idea to stop for coffee while we stood in the parking lot with our rucks on our heads.  Good livin’!

For food, I decided to go with several packs of GU and Roctane, a Clif Builder bar, a pack of Clif Shot Roks, and a pack of Chomps.  For water, I decided to mix Cytomax into my 3L Source hydration bladder and I brought along 2 additional bags of Cytomax to mix in when we stopped to resupply.  I ended up only drinking about 4 liters of water all night and never used the additional Cytomax.  Instead I just topped off my bladder with water when we made a resupply stop.  I had brought additional food too because I didn’t want to run out but I ate a lot less than I had expected.  I think we got really lucky with the weather as it was almost perfect for this type of event.

We all met up in Jackson Square, which for those not familiar with New Orleans, is basically the gateway into the French Quarter and the site of the St. Louis Cathedral.  This is where we met Cadre Lou and Brian (Lou’s assistant and a trained paramedic).  After completing paperwork and handing out rucks, we jumped right in with some pushups for a warm up.  At this point Lou picked out our first team leader of the night, Neal.  Lou took Neal aside and a few moments later Neal informed us that we had 5 minutes to pick up and move our new best friend, the “peace” log, off the rocky shore of the Mississippi River and get it up the steps and across the street to Jackson Square.  I will refer to our log as the “peace” log throughout as we never came up with a name for it but someone had spray painted the word “peace” right in the middle of the log.  When I first saw the log I really didn’t think it looked that big.  However, once we started to move it I immediately realized it was going to be a long night.

"peace" log

The “Peace” log

Pushups

Just the beginning!

After we moved the “peace” log into Jackson Square we were told we would be practicing certain exercises which would all come in to play throughout the night.  These included pushups, bear walks, crab walks, buddy carry, inch worm, and Indian sprints.  Before we started our practice, we were paired up with our battle buddy for the night.  I really didn’t know what to expect from my battle buddy, Ilya, but he certainly looked like he was capable of handling everything we were about to go through. Practice went well with the exception of the inch worm in which we tried several times but were unable to get everyone in the air long enough to take a step.  While doing the inch worm I also realized how much this night would be about disregarding certain sanitary concerns such as laying face first on the ground in Jackson Square while being sober.

Inch worm

Inch worm in Jackson Square

Crab walk

Crab walk in Jackson Square

By the time we reached the Indian sprints I really didn’t know how long physically I could keep up but there was no way I was going to let my team down.  I knew mentally I would never quit as I’ve been through enough shit to know you just have to keep moving to reach the end.  However, I was beginning to wonder if I was prepared enough physically.  Luckily, my head and heart took over and I never again considered failing physically.

While we were practicing our exercises we were being heckled and cheered by drunken partygoers.  We were instructed to answer any questions of what we were doing by screaming as a team, GORUCK!  This was a pretty effective team building maneuver as we were bombarded by the French Quarter drunks, all dressed in costume mind you, with questions of what the hell we were doing.  The GoRuck yell seemed to really get us fired up and ready to go.  About this time is when Lou decided to let us know we would be heckled and harassed by many drunk people throughout the night.  However, we were told to keep calm and he would either defuse the situation, get us out of the situation as quickly as possible, and if all else failed he would take care of it.  I think at this point I smiled internally and thought these drunks have no idea what they would be up against with Lou (I’m glad he’s on our side).

We posed for a quick class picture with our “peace” log before we were told we would be toting our log around the French Quarter.  As you can imagine the French Quarter was pretty crowded with drunken costumed partygoers.  The “peace” log weighed at least 1,000 pounds and we really had no idea how to properly carry the log, especially while dodging cars and people.  All I remember over the first few hours of log pt is being crushed under the log as we struggled to keep it on our shoulders.  Luckily for me and a few others at the front of the log, the 5 women in our class volunteered to carry our rucks while we struggled with the log.  A big thank you to Juliet who carried my ruck and always seemed to be waiting for me with my water any time we stopped for a break.

1st Group

1st Group photo in Jackson Square

log 2

French Quarter log pt

After several hours of toting the log around we decided to stash it while we made a resupply run.  After finding several closed stores and a suggestion by me to throw one of our many bricks through a CVS window, we finally found an open store for water and snacks.  I don’t know that this resupply run could have come at a better time for me.  My shoulders were aching and I knew they were cut up pretty good as well as bruised.  That log was crushing me physically but there was no way I would let it take my spirit.

After our resupply break we headed back toward the log.  Once we returned to the log I was happy to hear we would be leaving the log for a while as Lou and Brian had found us some good coupons.  Coupons are items found along the way to be carried for however long the cadre sees fit.  The coupons consisted of a plywood box that was large enough for 4 of us to carry, multiple cinder blocks, and a nice surprise I found out about a little later.

Coupons

Coupons

We headed up Burgundy towards Esplanade on our way to City Park.  I started out by helping carry the box but rotated out about halfway to Esplanade and asked if I could carry a cinder block for anyone.  This is when I was greeted with a surprise.  I was handed a large piece of concrete that was not smooth at all and instead had gravel sticking out all along it.  That damn piece of concrete must have weighed a good 40 pounds.  I certainly wasn’t going to drop it nor pass it off for someone else to bear so I held on tight and embraced the suck!

Over the next few hours we swapped up from running along Esplanade with our coupons, constantly switching out who was on the box and who was carrying the cinder blocks, to lunging with our coupons.  In unison of course because lunging with coupons down Esplanade Ave. at around 4 am should look pretty after all.  Once we reached City Park we posed with our coupons for a few more class pictures.  What happened over the next couple of hours will stay between me and class 079 but let’s just say class 079 did not have any ninjas on our team.

City Park

City Park Class Picture

Voodoo

Voodoo Fest Class Picture

The next few hours were spent returning to our “peace” log so we could meet up with Bob.  I didn’t know who Bob was either until after the challenge at breakfast.  This is another tidbit that will stay between me and class 079.  The trek back down Esplanade Ave. was pretty quiet while we were moving with a few eventful stops that again will stay with me and class 079.  Something involving coffee, donuts, jokes, and indecent exposure may or may not have taken place.

Head rucks

Rucks on Heads

Once we returned to our friendly “peace” log the sun had already started to rise.  We picked up our log and began the journey to see Bob.  Of course we had to make a detour down Bourbon Street along the way.  To those of you who have never seen Bourbon Street in the morning, it is what Lou called a biohazard.  We dodged street sweepers, garbage trucks, and a few left over partygoers on our way to rendezvous with Bob.  The last few blocks seemed like an eternity and then suddenly ended with us abandoning our log in a nice quiet parking lot as we were told by a park attendant that our “peace” log could not be returned to the river from whence it came.  I think Lou was a little disappointed at this point as I think he was looking forward to seeing us do a little water pt in the Mississippi river.

"peace" log

The “Peace” log on Bourbon Street

Miami

Miami enjoying some Good Livin’!

help

A little help with our morning wood!

We finished up by going for a light run along the river to stretch out before we found out we would be bear crawling and belly crawling through sprinklers in Woldenberg Park by the Aquarium.  This crawl was about 50 yards and that water was invigorating to say the least.  Or as one of my teammates, Miami, pointed out, “I can’t crawl any faster my nuts are cold!”  During the crawl one of our teammates had his back lock up.  I volunteered to carry his ruck to the end.  It was after this when Lou told us we had one last task to complete and that since this was GoRuck we would finish strong.  This meant that we would be buddy carrying everyone from Woldenberg Park back to Jackson Square.  We were allowed to carry anyone we wanted and to switch up so everyone could embrace the suck.  About this time, one of our female classmates declared that we should “pass the women around”.  As you can imagine, this brought a nice hearty cheer through the rest of the team.

belly

Belly crawl

Ilya and I decided we had stuck together all night we might as well finish strong by carrying each other.  At this point I realized it might not have been a good idea for me to grab our fallen teammates ruck.  Oh well, embrace the suck!  Ilya and I took turns carrying each other with him carrying me at least 90 – 95% of the way.  I estimated that the weight with the extra ruck and everything to be carried was about 300 pounds.  I did what I could but Ilya certainly took over and got us both to the end.  I can’t say enough about my battle buddy as he was always there to step up and help out all night as all of our team did.  The guy is a beast and certainly inspired me to do more than what I thought I was capable of handling.  I told you before Ilya and I’ll say it again.  I’d ruck with you anywhere buddy!

Ilya

Buddy Carrying me to the end!

After about 11 hours and probably close to 15 miles, the GoRuck challenge had come to an end.  Class 079 was an incredible team and I thought we all worked well together almost from the start.  There were no fights and very few arguments throughout the challenge.  I would certainly do another GoRuck Challenge in the future and as of me writing this there is already talk of an anniversary challenge for class 079 next year.  I met some good people and had a great time.  I highly recommend to anyone to at least check out what it is all about.  It certainly is not for everyone but well worth it if you think you can handle it.  It certainly is, Good Livin’!

Lou

We’d follow you anywhere Lou!  Photo by Brian Crabb

Bob

We’re coming to see you Bob!   Photo by Brian Crabb

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

GoRuck supports the Green Beret Foundation and a portion of all GoRuck Challenge fees are donated to the Green Beret Foundation.  The Green Beret Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 foundation that provides financial resources, immediate need supplies, caregiver assistance, and educational scholarships to wounded or ill Army Special Forces warriors and their families.  If you would like to donate to or learn more about the Green Beret Foundation please click on the GBF logo below.

Green Beret Foundation

 

 

*All photos taken by Ginger Zenczak unless otherwise credited.

Filed in Geoffrey |

Another season

After the last several months of busting my ass to get ready for the Tough Mudder challenge, I have less than 100 days to go (96 as of this writing). I turn 32 in a couple of days and all I can think about is getting my ass kicked during the GoRuck this coming weekend. Should be a good week preparing for the unknown of the GoRuck.

As I was running this past week in the “frigid” 45 degrees of a clear, crisp fall morning in New Orleans, I suddenly realized that I have been training now for almost a year. I have officially entered another weather season and with that come a sense of accomplishment. Sure I haven’t finished my challenge yet but as I have said several times before this journey may actually be worth even more than the destination. Several months ago I thought to myself about how life is full of things that are out of your control. However, since I have started training I am beginning to see more and more how many things in life are actually not only completely in your control but more so how the choices you make in life actually make you feel out of control. I know that concept may be hard to understand for some but it becomes clear when you decide to stop riding and start driving.

I was able to complete my normal running routine last week without any foot pain. I am hoping the pain I did experience previously was due to my old shoes and bruising. I have not started back with my long runs yet but plan to once the GoRuck is over this weekend. I may even have my training partner back once November gets here next week. I plan on taking it a little easy this week leading up to the GoRuck but after I complete that challenge it’s time to kick my training into gear again. The plan is to start focusing more on interval training for my runs and continue to get stronger elsewhere. Should make for a fun next 3 months leading up to the Tough Mudder.

On a side note to my training, I had a terrible experience this morning with my four legged furry kid. My wife and I have a nearly 7 year old full blood German Shepherd who was certainly our first “child”. Her name is Jasmine. She was a beast of a puppy when we first brought her home but she has grown into an incredible dog. She knows her role in the family is to protect her 2 little “brothers” and my wife if I am not around. She really only has one fault and that is she eats everything in sight and lots of things not in sight. We have tried everything over the last 7 years to break her of this habit with almost zero success. Her German stubbornness and persistence has been able to win any battle we undertake with her to keep her from stealing food.

With all of that said, she ate an apple core yesterday that I had dropped at the park. I woke up this morning to her vomiting in the office which happens from time to time and really is not that big of a deal. However, as soon as I entered the room to check on her she collapsed and I thought she was choking. I soon realized she was not choking and instead she was having a seizure. Luckily it only lasted a couple of minutes and when she became responsive again she looked at me like she had no idea what had happened. She then immediately ran into the bedroom to check on her little brothers to make sure they were ok. So far the only noticeable damage was when she bit one of my fingers as I attempted to clear whatever I thought she was choking on. Quick tip: NEVER put your hand inside a German Shepherds mouth if they are having a seizure. I’ll survive though and I am pretty sure she will as well. My hope is that the apple core caused this as it was the only thing out of the ordinary.

Jasmine

Hopefully I will be able to recuperate from the GoRuck challenge this weekend in time to write about my experience for you all.

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

Filed in Geoffrey |

Sunset

Another week closer to my ultimate goal of completing a Tough Mudder challenge and I feel like the journey thus far has certainly been worth it.  I know I am not where I need to be yet but it has been fun so far.  I am starting to remember how much fun I had when I was in shape and was able to participate in any pick up sporting events and be able to have fun and not be exhausted and sore the next day.  However, there is still a lot of work left to be done over the next 103 days.

This past week I was still getting used to my new training regimen without my training partner.  I was able to complete the circuit portion of the Tough Mudder workout without the 35 minute run by myself last week.  I didn’t complete the run as I am still wary of my foot having something more serious than just bruising.  I have however been adding some long bike rides to my training to make up for the non-running. 

This past Friday when I arrived home from work I decided to take a bike ride with no real idea of how far I would go.  I filled up my water bottle, sucked down a Strawberry Banana GU, put my headlamp in my pocket along with my phone/GPS/camera and took off along the levee.  I decided to head toward the Audubon Zoo along the levee as I know the route well from running it several times.  I decided to stop along the area behind the Zoo along the river called the Fly.  This is an area with soccer fields and baseball fields as well as lots of open space where college kids tend to hang out.  I arrived just before sunset and was afforded a pretty nice sunset sky view.  My bike ride ended up covering just over 11 miles and finished well after sunset.  During a portion of my ride I kind of felt like a little kid again as I ran out of road/sidewalk and turned to the grass to return me to the levee.  I was jumping tree roots, curbs, and anything else to get back to the nice flat ground of the levee.  I loved every minute of it and could not have asked for a more beautiful evening.

Sunset

Gear update

For my upcoming GoRuck Challenge (2 weeks away), I decided to purchase some Mechanix gloves.  Gloves are required for this challenge due to the crab walking on concrete and such which would obviously destroy a person’s hands pretty quickly.  I am hoping to break in the gloves by wearing them on every workout for the next 2 weeks.  We’ll see how it goes. 

I have also decided I will be using Cytomax sports drink in my hydration bladder for the challenge.  I have been using this over the past month now and have been pleased with the clean fresh taste without the aftertaste I would get with Gatorade.  Besides, the pricing is similar to Gatorade as well.  I will also be using different flavors of GU as my primary calorie replenishment for the challenge but will also be adding a couple of Clif Bar Builder Bars.  Again, we will see how this goes.

With just under 2 weeks until my GoRuck challenge I am starting to get that nervous/excited feel in my stomach.  I can’t wait for the challenge to get here and at the same time I wonder if I am truly prepared for it.  I’m really hoping to just have fun with it while at the same time getting my ass kicked by it. 

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

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The Only Choice

This past weekend I attended a family reunion with my wife’s family in Arkansas. We had a 6 hour drive to get to the campground in Moro Bay State Park. My wife and I have been on many long drives over the nearly 13 years we have been together. These drives always turn out to be a good time for my wife and I to talk about things we normally wouldn’t have the time to talk about. We discuss history, religion, politics, sports, and anything else that happens to come up along the way. I enjoy these long drives and look forward to any time we have an opportunity to get on the road.

On this trip we had wandered on to what Keep Movin’ is all about and which people in our lives embody what it means to us to Keep Movin’. As you know, if you have been following my journey, Keep Movin’ started as a team of average (some maybe even below average) individuals who decided to challenge themselves to become stronger through the Tough Mudder challenge. At this point, the Keep Movin’ team seems like it is on life support as life has fought back against several members and their plans to train for the Tough Mudder.

With the struggles of the Keep Movin’ team, I think it may be a good time to discuss what Keep Movin’ is all about. Keep Movin’ has always been an attitude, or more specifically a choice. In those moments in life when things are the darkest and when there seems to be no way out a person chooses an unexpected choice. This choice changes everything and immediately motivates and inspires those around to do more, to be better, to push through the darkness and accomplish the impossible.

Keep Movin’ can be found in all walks of life. When a person is diagnosed with a terminal illness and instead they choose life, this is Keep Movin’. When an overweight person chooses life over being obese, this is Keep Movin’. When a person loses a loved one and chooses to use that death as a springboard into becoming a better person, this is Keep Movin’. When a person is buried under a mountain of debt with seemingly no way out and instead chooses to fight through it and regain their freedom, this is Keep Movin’. When a child is bullied and instead of suicide or revenge chooses to fight through it to become a stronger person, this is Keep Movin’. Keep Movin’ is what causes a person to run into a fire in order to save someone when all signs point to getting the hell out instead. Keep Movin’ is about not ever backing down when confronted with a seemingly overwhelming opposition. Above all, Keep Movin’ is a choice.

Now onto my weekly training update. I have done something to my left foot when I ran 8 miles a couple of Saturday’s back. I thought my foot was broken it hurt so bad to walk on for a couple of days. However, within a few days, my foot began to feel better and I attributed the pain to my running shoes needing to be replaced. I ordered some new shoes, Mizuno Wave Rider 14, and while waiting for them to arrive I decided to take my bike out for a few long rides instead. The bike rides were a great change in training. The bike riding also gave my feet and shins some relief from the constant road running. I decided to also continue wearing my backpack with bricks on these rides for a little extra kick in the ass.

Since my new shoes had arrived in time, I decided to go for a 4 mile run in Arkansas on Saturday. The weather was a little chilly in the mid-50’s and the sky was dark but filled with stars. Since I was running alone I decided it might be a good idea to try out my headlamp as well. I found the headlamp to feel fine but instead of providing me with good light it was instead distracting my vision. As I was running through a particularly dark area I decided to turn the light off. To my amazement, and from what I learned as a kid growing up in a wooded area, once I turned off the light I was able to see so much more. It was almost like the scene in Avatar when the guy first gets lost in the woods at night and makes a torch only to eventually have the torch knocked away and extinguished and can then see so much more and even better. I say almost because to my dismay the ground did not begin to glow where I stepped. The 4 mile run felt good while I was running but once I stopped the pain in my left foot immediately returned and did not go away until Sunday afternoon. I’m not sure what exactly I have done to my foot but I may give it a couple of weeks rest before trying it out again.

All in all it has been a bit of a rough patch for training lately. I certainly have not been training with the consistency I started out with. However, I feel like I am finally starting to adapt and it is easier to get up at 5:30am by myself to train. I think I have been worrying too much about my training schedule and need to focus more on having fun with it. I am now choosing to look forward to my training and to enjoy my training instead of dreading it. I don’t know if I have motivated or inspired anyone else through this journey thus far but I have inspired myself and for me, at this point, that’s more than enough.

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

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Adaptability

This past week has been an exercise in adaptability.  After my first 10 mile run it took me a little longer than expected to recover.  My legs ached for a couple of days and I could barely walk much less train.  I think my leg issues were a combination of mostly running on roads and sidewalks as well as my running shoes showing some age.  Either way the 10 mile run kicked my ass and has changed up my training routine considerably. 

Tim has decided to focus a little more on weight training while keeping up with the long weekend run and I have changed focus to prepare for the GoRuck Challenge at the end of this month.  I have incorporated training with a backpack filled with 4 bricks and my new Source hydration bladder as well.  To save my legs I decided to go for a bike ride with my backpack instead this past week.  It felt pretty good to change up the routine a bit so I think I’ll keep up my bike riding and maybe increase it to 2 days a week.  I plan on keeping up the circuit training one day a week for now and increase this once the Tough Mudder gets closer.  I plan on incorporating more “hill” running over the next few weeks.  Since I have no hills here in South Louisiana I will instead run up and down the Mississippi River levee.  I really need to focus on increasing my upper body strength over the next few weeks as well.

The long weekend run has really increased my confidence in what I thought I would be able to accomplish as fast as I have.  The 10 mile run I completed was about 2 months ahead of the schedule I had set at the outset.  I was dreading my scheduled 12 mile run this past weekend however as I was just starting to recover from the 10 miler.  When I arrived at work on Friday morning Tim was waiting with a big smile on his face.  Apparently, Tim had misread the training schedule and instead of 12 miles we only had an 8 miler scheduled for Saturday.  I have never in my life been so happy to hear I only had to run 8 miles. 

The 8 mile run wasn’t too bad especially with the weather starting to cool down and the decreased humidity.  However, my shoes have died.  After the run my left foot felt like it was broken.  I could hardly walk on it Saturday and Sunday and am only now walking with no pain.  No worries though as I have already ordered my replacement shoes. 

Gear update – I have used my Source hydration bladder and it was great.  I have only used it while bike riding however and still have to try it out while running.  It is a 3 liter bladder so it is pretty large and I’m sure will add some decent weight while running.  I also used for the first time Saturday a pack of GU and GU Chompers.  I wanted to test these out to make sure they would not upset my stomach and would in fact provide enough calories to keep me going through the Goruck Challenge.  They worked great as I tried the GU package prior to my 8 mile run and the GU Chompers after.  I was pretty impressed with both and think they will be sufficient for my challenge.  Starting this week I will begin running with my headlamp on to get used to wearing something like that while I run.  I also plan on picking up some Mechanix gloves to try out.  I will post more about these once I test them out.

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

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Humbled

After the last several weeks of “taking a break” from training, I was finally able to put in some time this past week.  I was thoroughly welcomed back by sore muscles and barely being able to walk after the first day back.  Though I thought otherwise, I was pleasantly surprised by not losing much of my endurance training.  The first day back was pretty rough as I was unable to complete the last 2 exercises of our circuit as I was absolutely drained.  I was fighting my body from wanting to pass out and vomit at the same time.  I am happy to announce I did neither.

I eventually got back into my training rhythm and completed the longest run of my life so far, 10 miles.  I really had no goals for this 10 mile run other than to survive it.  I figured I hadn’t run much in the last 3 weeks and have not been getting quality sleep so this 10 mile run was shaping up to be brutal.  Luckily, the weather has cooled down a bit and the humidity wasn’t so bad on Saturday morning.  The run started out great and I was amazed at how good I was feeling.  The trek took me along the Mississippi River and around the Audubon Zoo and through Audubon Park.  The change of scenery was good and a good portion of the run was on grass and trails.  As I ran down St. Charles Ave. on the way back to the levee I couldn’t help but think about the bottle of water I had stashed at the levee and how good it would be to taste even a drop as I was parched.  My mind began to wonder what I would do if I reached the levee only to find out my water bottle was stolen.  I don’t think there were any pleasant thoughts that raced through my head thinking about my water bottle missing.  It was all for nothing though as my water was there and tasted a little like heaven on earth! 

I was surprised at how good I felt over the first 8 miles of the run.  It was just after the 8 mile mark when I felt like I was no longer moving forward.  I could feel my legs moving.  I could feel the air entering and exiting my lungs.  I could hear my feet striking the ground.  What I could not feel was my body moving forward.  Apparently I was in fact still moving forward as mile 9 finally turned into mile 10.  If mile 9 felt like I wasn’t moving, mile 10 felt like I was getting punched in the ribs repeatedly!  I was tired.  I wanted to be finished.  I knew the end was near and I could almost see the end of the run.  Mile 10 was a lot less of physical ability and so much more of mental ability.  I have never wanted to quit running as much as I did in that mile.  Thankfully, my mind overcame my body.  It also helped to have Tim running next to me going through the exact same pain and suffering.  When I reached the end of the run I don’t think I have ever been so happy that a run was over.  My happiness was cut short however when I found out next Saturday we have a 12 mile run scheduled.  I guess my personal best of 10 miles will be short lived!

On a non-training note, every now and then an inspirational story pops up just when you need it.  I typically draw inspiration from the military and the courage necessary to accomplish what those young men and women have done throughout history.  Another source of inspiration for me is individuals facing a terminal disease or condition and choosing life over death.  For you New Orleans Saints fans out there I’m sure you have heard of Steve Gleason.  Many of you may also be aware of his condition after seeing the beginning of the Saints vs. Texans game yesterday afternoon.  Steve Gleason was recently diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  This disease attacks the brain and the spinal cord which eventually causes the motor neurons between the brain and muscles to wither and die.  This causes the person to be unable to control muscle function.  This disease is terminal and there is no cure.  This disease seems pretty nasty and destructive.  If you have time, please take a moment to read this column on Steve Gleason and how he has chosen life over death in the face of this terrible disease.

Keep Movin’ friends…it’s the only way to get where you’re going!

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