As most of you who have been following my journey know, my training has taken a backseat to my newborn son.  Last week was our transition period from a family of 3 to a family of 4.  Our routine was challenged and completely broken down last week.  The days and hours all seemed to blend together into one long and hazy week.  There were times I had a moment to relax and watch a little TV which would normally not be a big deal.  However, one evening I was watching TV wondering why nothing good was on.  I thought it was 8pm but the clock read 1:30am.  Sleep came whenever it could and most of the time included several “naps” throughout the day.  For the most part I think my family was able to come through that first week with little issue. 

Since I have no training to speak of this week I thought I would take the time to praise my incredible wife and my amazing 3 year old son.  I didn’t know what my oldest son was going to think about bringing home his little brother.  He was excited throughout the pregnancy and couldn’t wait to meet his new brother but I was curious as to how he would react when the time actually came.  He seemed a little uncertain when he met his little brother for the first time but he quickly adapted.  Within the first week he has been helping with diapers, bringing baby toys to the baby, and just keeping an eye on his little brother whenever he is around.  I was also curious to see just how my son would adapt to not being the center of attention anymore and not being able to sit in mommy’s lap whenever he wanted.  He has done an incredible job with all of this and not once become upset while we were in the hospital for a few days.  I am incredibly proud of my son and know he is going to be a great big brother.

My wonderful wife never ceases to amaze me either.  Although she gave birth to our 2nd child and in doing so underwent surgery, she popped out of bed the following day and hasn’t slowed down since.  She has done everything she can to make the transition as easy as possible for our first son and makes it a point to spend some alone time with him.  Everything she does puts her family first.  She feeds and changes the baby all through the night all the while trying to be as quiet as possible so I can sleep.  (Before any of you jump on me about not helping out during the night I was not born with the right tools for this job and will do my part once I am able to.)  My wife knows how important my training is to me and the fact that I go to work every day to support our family and so has even suggested I sleep in the spare room so her and the baby don’t disturb me while I sleep.  (I have welcomed her suggestion but at the same time declined her offer.)  Not once has she become upset about her lack of sleep.  I am so incredibly blessed to have her as my wife and the mother of our children. 

With all of that said, my training picks up tomorrow as I meet Tim at 5:30am to enjoy our nice run and circuit training.  The weather seems to be getting slightly cooler which will be a welcome change from the last few months.  I am also only a month and a half from the Goruck Challenge.  For this I have incorporated a backpack with 4 bricks in it on my nightly walks with my dog.  I am also starting to get all my gear together that I will be using for the Goruck Challenge.  I’ll do some reviews on the gear as I incorporate it into my training regimen. 

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

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An End, a Beginning, and the Journey

Training for something like the Tough Mudder is not to be taken lightly. A person must be determined, committed, strong, and most of all a little crazy. Over the last few months I have written about my journey here. I have dealt with soreness, allergies, both good and bad weather, changing my whole life routine to make time for training, and even more soreness. I feel like I am well on my way to my ultimate goal of being a better person. I have become stronger both physically and mentally. I feel, alive. This past week, however, has been an emotional rollercoaster with new challenges to overcome and be a part of.

I was finally able to train one day last week while Mother Nature decided to cooperate again. However, training was derailed again but this time it was due to life, both the end and the beginning. With a heavy heart, I attended a funeral for a very good friend of mine’s stepmother. She was a wonderful person and the world is certainly a lesser place without her in it. My thoughts and prayers continue for the family she left behind. I hope they come to find peace through their mourning.

Any time I attend a funeral my thoughts always go back to those family and friends I have lost over the years. I have known my fair share of death through my years. I have lost close family members and friends starting at a very young age. I count my blessings though, as I have not endured the type of death that is known to those unfortunate souls born into war torn or third world countries. I long for the day that we come to know world peace; though I don’t see how it can be.

I did say my training was derailed by both the end and the beginning of life this week. My wife and I were blessed with our second child this past weekend. I am now the proud father of two wonderful sons. I can hardly explain the joy a father feels when holding his newborn child for the first time. It is hard to contemplate that someone so tiny will eventually be a grown man making decisions for himself. The strength I am gaining from my training routine will certainly help with this journey of fatherhood and parenthood I am also on. Life is certainly funny the way you say goodbye to such a wonderful person one day and then hello to a new wonderful person the next day.

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

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Weather Hazards

Mother Nature decided to play games with my training schedule last week.  First, a marsh fire that had started due to a lighting strike had enveloped all of the New Orleans metro area in a thick smoke.  Air quality was terrible most of the week with the smoke getting thick enough at times where I could not even see across the street from my office.  Outdoor training was out of the question while the fire was still burning.  To make it worse, since the fire was in the marsh the fire department was helpless in getting it extinguished.  The only hope in putting the fire out was for a strong rain storm.  This is where Mother Nature decided to continue to play her little game as she whipped up Tropical Storm Lee out of nowhere off the Louisiana coast.

Tropical Storm Lee was certainly the perfect solution to the marsh fire as the storm acted like a conveyor belt bringing wave after wave of torrential downpours to the area.  Many areas were expected to receive up to 20 inches of rain over a 2-3 day period.  With the marsh fire now but a bad memory, I was looking forward to running in the Tropical Storm weather.  I have done this once before and it is incredible and also dangerous.  As I awoke on Saturday morning thrilled to get a chance to pit myself against Mother Nature, I unfortunately noticed I was under a tornado warning.  This warning continued from 5am until 8am.  As a husband and a father, the danger level was a little too high to risk.  Besides, I have to get out for my training very early in the morning before my 3 year old son wakes up, especially on the weekends.  By 8am my son had awoken, and instead of training, I was building pillow forts and taking on the “stinkin’ pirates” in sword fights with my son (still a pretty good workout by the way.)  My son has an amazing imagination and so when the “stinkin’ pirates” show up it consists of me having to run throughout the house while jumping over furniture and attacking pirates with my foam sword with much gusto. 

Tropical Storm Lee radar

I finally had the opportunity yesterday morning to get out in the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.  When I started my run, there was only a little wind whipping around and a slight misty sprinkle.  I was unimpressed with Tropical Storm Lee and, as I do sometimes, I decided to challenge the weather similar to the way Lieutenant Dan did on Forrest Gump in the Hurricane scene.  When I reached the halfway point on my run I was able to look down the Mississippi river and I could see a wall of rain heading toward me.  I smiled pretty big as it seemed Mother Nature had heard my insults.  The wind kicked up and the rain increased.  Still I threw out insults.  About a mile and a half from my ending point, the wind shifted from pushing the rain into my side to driving the rain directly into my face.  At this point I could only laugh and keep my head down.  I have always enjoyed running in the rain and this run did not disappoint. 

Tropical Storm Lee wind

Well played Mother Nature, I await our next confrontation with much joy.

Tropical Storm Lee severe weather warnings

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

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152 Days…and counting

I have added a countdown to the Tough Mudder challenge on our main page.  We have 152 days from now to get ready.  This was a little discouraging to me because I really thought it was closer.  I am ready for this challenge now and think I can complete it in the shape I am in.  I am also sure that I will be at an even better fitness level in 152 days.  The dog days of summer have certainly punished me in my training.  I have felt pretty much exhausted for the last 2-3 months and it has taken just about everything I have to continue waking up at 5am to engage in the brutal training four times a week.  I can only hope cooler less oppressive weather is around the corner and it gives me motivation to keep moving.

Over the last few months I have sweated enough each training day that it feels as though I am either running in a massive rainstorm or underwater.  The worst part of this sweating is having wet socks, which equates to wet feet.  Is there anything more miserable than wet feet, squishing around while training?  I finally decided to check out socks that are made for running and especially moisture wicking.  Long past are the days when a runner had two choices for socks, cotton socks or no socks.  I was quickly overwhelmed by all of the choices.  There are cushioned socks, socks to reduce friction, moisture wicking socks, socks that make you run faster, socks that help you walk on water, etc.  I think I may have over exaggerated a little on that last one but I’m sure someone will develop one soon enough.

I found a non-descript sock that felt lightweight and claimed to wick moisture away to keep feet dry.  I was skeptical at first as I just assumed all socks were the same.  After my first day training with my new socks, I was pleasantly surprised when my feet still felt dry at the end of the workout.  Still a little skeptical but with my interest piqued, I completed an 8 mile run with my new socks and still my feet felt dry when I finished.  I’m not sure the brand of these socks but they were the cheapest socks I found at Sports Authority.  I will certainly purchase more as I only bought 3 pair for $10.  Well worth the investment.

I am thinking my next gear investment will be some type of hydration system for these long runs.  I’m sure I would have been better off thinking of hydration at the beginning of the summer instead of now but I also wasn’t running 8 milers back then.  I have started to research hydration systems and I am leaning toward the WXP made by Source.  Let me know if any of you have any experience with this one or what your experience is with hydration systems period.  I’ve never used one and would love any feedback on it.

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

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Stale bricks

These journal entries are getting harder to write as my training is becoming stale.  I am still amazed everyday at what I have been able to accomplish over the last few months.  When I started this training at was having a lot of trouble just running a few blocks.  Now, I’ve run a few 8 mile runs and they weren’t easy but I also didn’t feel like I needed to go to the hospital when I was finished.  The weather is still atrocious but I know it is simply making me a stronger person both physically and mentally.  I told Tim this morning that I know it is going to be a tough day when the humidity percentage is higher than the air temp especially when the air temp is in the 80’s.  Maybe this part of my training is to test my will power and determination.  The training is not fun and to be honest is miserable.  It took everything I had to get out of bed this morning to train.

Tim and I decided to take a different route for our 8 mile run this weekend.  We ran along the levee until we reached St. Charles Ave.  We then proceeded down St. Charles and turned just past Audubon Park and Loyola University.  This was a welcome change as I was able to get some grass running in instead of the constant pavement running which does not do my shins well.  It is really different to run in Uptown New Orleans on an early Saturday morning.  We dodged street cars as we were running on the street car lines.  I thought about all the times I have been in that part of New Orleans that early on a Saturday morning.  I can honestly say that was the first time I was not headed to eat breakfast with my friend Moises after an all night bar hopping excursion.  There were lots of runners out and about as well.  We were passed by a female runner on our way back to the levee and she was hauling ass!  I pointed out to Tim that he had just been passed by a girl (she was on his side of the streetcar line).  He claimed it must have been her shoes and we just didn’t have the right gear.  I agreed!

For those of you not familiar with New Orleans, St. Charles Ave. is a pretty famous street.  It is lined with very large and expensive homes most of which hark back to a much earlier time in New Orleans history.  The famous New Orleans streetcar lines run down St. Charles Ave. past Audubon Park, Tulane University, Loyola University, etc.  The street is canopied by ancient oak trees to provide both beautiful settings and more importantly, shade.  Many Mardi Gras parades also roll down this beautiful street.  A must see area if you are ever in New Orleans.

This week I will be adding some new training to my routine.  I want to get used to carrying a rucksack for the Goruck challenge in October so I pulled out my old high school backpack and filled it with 4 bricks!  I am pretty excited about this (or I’m just stupid!)  I plan on starting out with a 1 or 2 mile run with the backpack on to get used to it.  Any suggestions on the best way to train for a 15-20 mile 8-10 hour challenge would be appreciated?  I’m just hoping the weather cools down by then.  If not, I suppose I’ll be ready for the heat and humidity anyway!

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

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I probably should not have called out the “wall” in my last posting as it has decided to show its wonderful face again.  Just another tough week in the miserable heat and humidity I suppose.  I decided to do some snake runs up and down the levee which was a great change of pace and actually led to me feeling sore the next 2 days.

I have decided to take on the Goruck challenge at the end of October here in New Orleans.  This is probably going to be the toughest physical event I have ever attempted.  I am pretty excited about it but also very nervous.  This will certainly be a confidence builder leading up to the Tough Mudder event in January as long as it doesn’t kill me.  My training will also have to increase over the next 2 months with some additional training with a backpack full of bricks to get ready.  I am certain I will complete the challenge but not without some blood, sweat, and perhaps even tears.

My long weekend run was bumped from Saturday to Sunday morning due to my son’s 3rd birthday party on Saturday.  This normally would not be an issue but I failed to realize the lack of food intake and, more importantly, the food intake I did have was almost all “junk” food.  This is not ideal prior to a 7 mile run at 5:30am the next morning.  When I rose Sunday morning to head out to the trail run for my 7 miles, I checked the weather like every morning.  I was pleased to see it would be cool out at 78 degrees.  My attention then turned to the humidity level. I think my lungs immediately decided to rebel against my body when I noticed the humidity level was at 99%!  Are you kidding me?  Do I look like Aquaman?!?  How is a person supposed to breathe much less run 7 miles in 99% humidity?  I did not complete my 7 mile run.  I did what I physically could.  If I want to complete the Goruck challenge and the Tough Mudder, I need to do better.

Heat & Humidity

September is expected to be a fun month for training as well.  My wife and I are expecting our second son in the early part of September.  I suppose this will be good training for sleep deprivation for the Goruck challenge.  The next few months will be a lot of fun and a lot of work.  I am looking forward to meeting my new son and completing these challenges.  From my understanding of the Goruck challenge, this is good livin’.

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

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Conquered Wall

The last time I wrote a journal I was being attacked by a wall.  This past week I think I may have conquered the wall…for now.  Don’t get me wrong, the weather is still miserable and the workout is still as tough as ever.  I’m not sure exactly what changed, if anything.  I completed an 8 mile run on Saturday and it went smooth.  Maybe that’s where my confidence began to grow.  I have never run more than 8 miles at a time without stopping so I think Saturday proved to me I might be getting back to a fitness level I had once attained. 

I have been planning on running the Jazz half marathon,, on October 29th but just found out there will be a Goruck challenge,, in New Orleans that same day.  The Goruck challenge will certainly be tougher than the half marathon and will also give me a better idea of what to expect for the Tough Mudder.  Now I just need to talk some of my Keep Movin’ teammates into doing the Goruck challenge as well.  I’m sure they’ll be up for it!

I also want to remind everyone that the Tough Mudder raises money for the Wounded Warrior Project.  If you would like to support the Wounded Warrior Project through our Keep Movin’ team follow this link to donate money on our behalf, Keep Movin’ donations.

Remember when you hit the wall, Keep Movin’!

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Attacked by a wall

Last week = beautiful weather for training in Santa Barbara, CA.  This week = the worst week of training to date. 

I started off the training week back in New Orleans with a pretty good 7 mile run on Saturday morning.  My thoughts at the time were that it wasn’t going to be so bad transitioning back to the heat and humidity.  Boy was I wrong!  Monday morning around 5:30am I was met with 80 degree temperature,   80+% humidity, and rainy conditions filled with mosquitoes everywhere.  Think rainforest.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention the dead car battery!  No training took place that day. 

Wednesday morning was probably the worst training day yet.  The conditions were still horrid but Tim and I braved the elements anyway.  I think we ran into what all athletes know of as “the wall”.  This imaginary wall must have been built with rough stone and had spikes facing out at us.  I think there was also a gorilla on my back pounding my entire body with a spiked mace that was on fire as well.  I don’t think I can get across just how miserable Wednesday was. 

This of course was followed up by arriving at the park Friday morning only to find all of the gates pad locked.  Tim and I decided to go for our run figuring the park would be unlocked upon our return.  As our luck would have it, there were the normal people out walking on the track we see every morning and one of the gates was open.  That is only one gate on the opposite side of the park from our cars was open and unlocked.  As we walked around the park cursing each locked gate we came upon we finally found a gate we could crawl under to get to our cars.  By the time we made it to the cars and after the terrible week I had been through I decided to call it a week and leave without doing the remaining portion of the circuit workout.  I can only hope next week is better.

As miserable as last week was I don’t want that to leave a bad taste in your mouth.  I’m sure I will overcome “the wall” as I knew this day would come eventually.  The stifling heat and humidity will ease and I will be stronger because of it.  Besides, all I can do at this point is Keep Movin’!

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Beaches, Mountains, & Celebrities

What an incredible week for training last week in Santa Barbara, CA.  The weather was amazing and the scenery was just a little better than looking at the muddy Mississippi river every day.  I think the entire time I was in Santa Barbara the highest temperature was 76 degrees.  I was in Santa Barbara for a company meeting/retreat so it wasn’t all fun and games.  However, during our meetings we were overlooking the Pacific Ocean so I guess I can’t complain too much.  The week was also filled with celebrity sightings of Jack Black, Kevin Costner, and even Ron Jeremy.

I completed my normal circuit training on Monday but the running was done through the hills of Santa Barbara and in 60 degree weather.  I’m not sure if I even broke a sweat over the 3.3 miles I ran.  The course I ran took me along the Pacific Ocean for a large part of the run but also through gorgeous homes and lush gardens.  I thoroughly enjoyed the flowers along most of the route which were probably the brightest flowers I have ever seen.  The intoxicating aroma from the gardens was also a much needed change from the stagnant muddy odor from the Mississippi river levee runs.  Unfortunately, I had to complete the circuit exercises in a gym setting.  Normally I do not like working out in a gym, however, I could probably get used to this gym.  The gym overlooked an Olympic size pool which overlooked the Pacific Ocean.  Incredible!

Tuesday morning I decided to go for a solo run on the beach.  The temperature was again in the 60’s.  I had not mapped out any distance nor did I have a watch for time.  I simply walked to the beach, which was in front of our resort, stretched, then began running.  There were very few people out on the beach as it was about 6am.  Some of the people that were on the beach were walking their dogs.  Apparently, this area is very dog friendly as there were dogs everywhere and rarely did I see any of them leashed.  Being a dog person, I had no issue with this other than I wished my dog were there with me as she loves the beach.  As I continued along I was surprised at the large rocks embedded in the sand.  It was a fun obstacle course dodging the rocks while also dodging the incoming waves.  Again, the scenery was a much welcome change from the norm.  There were cliffs, rocks, sailboats, even a few seals lounging on the rocks out in the ocean.  I’m not sure how far I ran but it was possibly the most relaxing run I have ever completed.

Wednesday morning Tim and I decided to “run” a trail run in Rattlesnake Canyon.  The weather that morning was the worst it had been the entire trip so far.  Fog and mist had set in and the temperature was hovering around 60.  We drove about 20 minutes from our resort to Rattlesnake Canyon as the sun was beginning to rise.  Once we found the trailhead and parked we were pretty excited to get started.  I decided to carry my iphone with me for GPS and for pictures.  After stretching, we started to run but only made it about 30 feet before we were interrupted by a creek crossing.  It was pretty obvious early on that there would be no running on this trail and it would be a hike instead.  The trail was supposed to be 3.5 miles round trip with an elevation change of 1000 feet.  Since there were no signs we ended up going 4.5 miles roundtrip with an elevation change of about 1400 feet (thank you GPS).  This might not seem like much of an elevation change to you mountain dwellers but to us flatlanders it was a big difference.  The views available to us on this hike were incredible.  Unfortunately, we were unable to see the Pacific Ocean since the fog and mist were still covering.  We broke through the cloud cover pretty early on as well and the temperature was just about perfect in the sunshine.  We wanted so badly to reach the Summit but had to turn around as we had scheduled group events we had to attend.  I had been looking forward to the Wednesday hike for a few weeks and it certainly did not disappoint. 

 Pictures of Santa Barbara and the hike can be found by clicking here.

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High Flying

“I’m flying high over Tupelo, Mississippi…
with America’s hottest band…
and we’re all about to die.”
                                     – Almost Famous

I always think of the above quote from Almost Famous when I fly.  I hope to never experience what the characters in the movie experienced on their flight but it is also one of my favorite scenes.  It shows just how dysfunctional a team can be but still pull it together to accomplish a single goal.  If you have never seen the movie I highly recommend it.

This week’s journal entry is being written 30,000 feet in the air.  I am currently on a flight from New Orleans to Santa Barbara, CA for a week long work meeting.  Everything I have seen or heard about this trip so far is that it should be a good time in a beautiful area.  If nothing else, I am looking forward to the nice cool weather to train in.  This will certainly be a welcome change from the sauna I currently train in. 

I do have a bit of a bone to pick with Delta though.  My wife and I arrived at the airport around 6am for a 7:15am flight.  We attempted to check in and print our boarding passes.  This should be a fairly simple process and one that you would think the airlines would have figured out how to complete with little to no issues by now.  After several attempts at the self-kiosk, we had to stand in line to speak with someone about not being able to check-in or print our boarding passes.  The debacle finally got cleared up around 7am just in time to see the TSA security line had grown considerably.  We were with some of my coworkers who were also having the same issues.  One of my coworkers raised enough hell for one of the Delta managers to walk us to the head of the security line.  Thank goodness too because we were the last to board the flight and just in time.  So, thank you Delta for helping us skip the security line after causing us to almost miss our flight.

This past week has not been very interesting to write about.  I have continued the circuit workout 3 days a week and it is still as hot and humid as ever.  It does seem however, that I may finally be reaching the point where the workouts are still tough but I am not as miserable once the workout is complete.  I did complete a 5 mile run last Sunday and a 6 mile run this past Saturday.  The 5 mile run was pretty miserable and I was pretty wiped out for most of the day afterward.  The 6 mile run however, felt smooth from beginning to end and I felt great the rest of the day.  I’m not sure if this had anything to do with what I ate the night before either run or if I am finally reaching that point where my body is finally not fighting me anymore.  My hope is for the latter.

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