Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Running and Riding

The Run for Your Lives aka Zombie Run was in Clermont, November 17th. Never being ones to let an opportunity to cosplay pass us by we suited up.

If you don't know who we are...then we...we can't be friends anymore.

The event was a good time, and resulted in some really memorable photos. They are all courtesy of my favorite foodie Dave Chestnut. His lovely wife Lindsay joined us for the race. We also met up with some other friends there as well, including triathlon training buddy extraordinaire, Dani and Megacon compatriots, Sarah and Daniel Dutton.

I'm beginning to notice a theme among my pics of Dave surrounded
 by kick-ass women. Dude's gotta tough life.

The organization and execution was extremely similar to the Warrior Dash. Check-in, etc was well-done. There was food, there was beer, there was music. What more could you want?

That said, I have to say I was really disappointed in the lack of obstacles. There were literally only a few. A couple of walls to hop over, one big sand hill, a couple of mud pits, a slide at the end, a couple of army crawls, and one blacked-out building-type structure that had dangling electric wires that provided a very mild shock. That's it. No real climbing walls, ropes, etc.

This is my new favorite picture of me. Hands down.

 But what they lacked in obstacles they did make up for in Zombies. There were a LOT of them. And they were very committed to their roles. Their costumes and make-up were well done. And the performances were outstanding....and creepy. I'll say it once again, there is no freakin' way I would have done this race at night. Some were stumblers and some were runners. The hard part was you couldn't tell which were which until you got close to them. It was definitely a great sprint workout.

By the end we were muddy and had a lot of laughs. Which is the point of these kinds of things, to us, at least. Dave, Lindsay and I even had a flag left at the end.Which means we survived. Go us!

Dave and his dirty girls.

Would I do this one again? If it was just Dave and I? No. We prefer the more obstacle-heavy races. But if a group of friends were doing it again? Definitely. It was a blast to use the group dynamic to try to get through the clusters of Zombies. To put it simply it, was just plain old fun.

And we, as always, got a kick out of people responding to the cosplay. Dave felt that half of the Zombies who "recognized" him cut him some slack for being Shaun. One, dressed as Shaun himself, even tried to hand him an extra flag. But the other half seemed to be gunning for him particularly because of it. 

And without further ado, my favorite group shot, complete with caption by Dave C.

Good times.

We rode the bikes to the event so that afterward we could attend a Concours Owner's Group get-together a little further north. My goodness, the roads are so much more fun once you get north of Orlando. (sigh)

Gratuitous me and my bike pic.

The Concours guys look just like the BMW guys. Mostly older, white, Docker-wearing types.

Suddenly. Concours'!

But that is where the similarities ended. Around the campfire they cussed, smoked, drank, stayed up late, told dirty jokes and the next morning drove way too fast on curvy (for FL) roads.

I have found my people.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


That's me blowing my own horn, not farting. Ok, it might be me farting too. It's always a possibility with me. Folks at Crossfit probably think I'm trying to show off when I take off for the front on group runs. I'm not. I'm just trying to put some space between me and everyone else before my jet-pack starts engaging.

Yeah. You're happy you read that aren't you?

Aaaaaanyways, Thanksgiving morning I went alone (lazy family) to the local 5K Turkey Trot. I ended up meeting my buddy Dani there, which was nice. Then I didn't feel like such a lonely loser while we waited around for the start.

We're smiling because we're thinking of all the horrible eating we are going to do later, using the 5K as a rationalization for our horrible decisions.

For some reason I had a bug up my butt about wanting to finally make a sub-30 minute 5K. Which I know, to "real" runners (whatever the hell that means) is still really freakin' slow. But not to me. July 4th was the last one I'd done, in 32:something. Which I was ecstatic about. But I just knew I had it in me to get below 30 minutes. Why? I have no idea. Since we started regularly Crossfitting over a month ago I've only been going on true (2-6 mile) runs every other week really.

But off I went...and guess what? 28:43, Motherf*&%#$rs!!! That's what I'm talking about!

Oh, but wait! There's more! Saturday was Pangea's Turkey Burn Adventure Race.
In beautiful Hatbill Park outside of Mims, in the heart of OMFG-I-hear-banjos-paddle-faster Country

The Sport Class was a four hour race, instead of the usual three. Not quite as big of a field as some other races, but very few new teams. Just the competition alone had me thinking this was not going to be a race where we ended up real high on the leaderboard. And then we got to the race site, saw the maps and I said, "I really don't think we're clearing this one today."

Now I don't mean to sound defeatist, because despite all that I was still raring to go. I'm sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again, one of the most important benefits to me from Crossfit is instilling the philosophy of pushing yourself as hard as you can. Not to go faster, harder, longer than the others around you...but to go faster, harder, longer than you did the last time. So we did.

All while rocking my A-dorable Christmas socks.

Dave drew the marble this time and we ended up  Biking first. The bike was a really nice mix of grass and road. I will say that I think it was one of the most physically demanding trails we've done that wasn't sandy. That thick grass can be a bitch, too folks. But it had a nice interlude of hard packed dirt road which was nice. Dave was spot-on with his navigation. I was so proud, especially when I saw several other teams having a hard time with a couple of the CPs.

One of the most entertaining aspects of Adventure Racing to me, is the interaction mid-race with other teams. Everyone is super-friendly before and after. But during the race, the demeanors kind of vary by team. And mine? Mine totally depends on the vibe I get from the other team. Don't get me wrong I yell, "Good job!" You got it!" to everyone. But in those moments when you know where a CP is and the other teams doesn't? Than it's all about karma baby!

There was another couple who had been very smiley (yes, it is too a word) and pleasant-seeming as we crossed paths with them once or twice in the beginning of the race. When I was coming out of grabbing one of the more hidden CPs, I could tell they were having a bit of a hard time. So when she saw me, I confirmed that it was right back where I had come from.

On the other hand, twice we passed teams who had overshot CPs we had just found. But they barely looked up as we passed. Didn't smile, or say hi. Did I let them know where they were going wrong?

About halfway through the foot portion, we caught up with our AR friends Beth & Brian of Adventure Training of Vero.  Ever have those kind of friends that you only see in certain venues and absolutely love but never seem to get to hang out with outside of those certain venues? Yeah, that's Beth & Brian to us. They are da bomb. And awesome trainers too! Check them out if you are in Vero. But I digress.

All four of us got super frustrated trying to find one of the CPs and eventually gave up. Turns out it mayhavepossiblynotbeenmarkedquiteright on the map. But who are we to judge. Brian did end up spotting it a little further down the road and called it out to us as we gave up a few seconds after they did and were behind them. Had he not pointed it out, I do not know if we would have spotted it or not. Maybe, maybe not. But I said to Dave, "Meh, consider it our karmic gift for confirming that bike CP to the other couple."

The rest of the race was a hoot. An exhuasting hoot, but a hoot nonetheless. We kept chasing Beth & Brian and occasionally they chased us. It was the most good-natured, fun competition I've ever had. We all talked about it later and said how we all pushed ourselves harder because of it. Which is just awesome.

A little more about that instant karma; while on the canoe portion Beth and Brian got in front of us but somehow blew right past one of the CPs. I couldn't let them screw up such a great race this far in, so I yelled to them and pointed it out. (as well as to the Team chasing us, but it's all good) This made me feel a lot better about them pointing out the other CP to us. It's not that Dave and I are really such angels, but we really truly prize fairness in competition and would hate to ever feel like we had an unfair advantage. So the scale was balanced and my neurotic little brain was at peace.

Even with that little hiccup, the Wonder Twins STILL out-paddled our asses and got in a minute or two before us. When we checked in I thought we were in 4th place, which was amazing and also a small relief. It's been an on-going joke between Dave and I and some of the Pangea staff that as soon as we Top Three we'll try an Elite Race, but not before. In so far as, at one tanked race earlier in the year, I was (jokingly) accused of sandbagging.

So I was ecstatic with such a high placing but oddly relieved that we still hadn't top three'ed. And then during the awards they realized the team they thought had come in 3rd had not cleared the course. Then, as it appeared to us anyways, Greg realized we were third and announces that the prizes for the Top Three in the Sport Class will be discounts on a registration for an Elite. CRaaaaaaaaaaaP!

I say this in jest, of course. We couldn't be more excited or proud of ourselves that we finally cracked the top three. I know that we both often-times still feel a little "one of these things is not like the others" at the races. It's hard to shed the old body image. But we're getting better, and wins like this certainly help. It's hard to call yourself a fatty, or slow, or weak when we think about what we've been accomplishing lately. So at least we've got that going for us.

Not sure when exactly we're going to do the Elite. I told Beth and Brian that we need to do the same one, so we need to put schedules together. But it has to be one of the ones this winter, for sure. So stay tuned for our Elite premiere...hopefully we will survive it.

Oh and you didn't think we'd leave out this race's Team Photo did you?

You don't find it odd that I happened to already have coal at home, do you?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


This past weekend Dave, Holden and I ran an Aid Station for an Ultra Trail Run. We were out in the woods from 7:00 am Saturday morning until 1:00 Sunday afternoon. Our job was to provide food and hydration to the runners doing 25, 75 and 100 miles over the course of 32 hours.
This is what a bunch of 100 mile ultra-runners look like at the start of a race. Many of them did not look that different afterwards. Freaks.

I have to say that the racers with almost no exception, were very friendly, appreciative, and kind to all of us. Even when they were exhausted and in incredible pain. The front runners weren't chatty per se, but even they were courteous. 

Holden went to bed quite early due to being outside all day and it getting dark early. Dave started nodding off around midnight so I sent him to the tent. I found it so sweet that these runners who had been out there since 7:00 AM were so concerned about ME staying up all night and afraid I was out there alone. The 1:00AM to 4:00AM hours were a little lonely, but thanks to Channing Tatum, I managed. (Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street on the tablet FTW)

Modern camping. Movies on the tablet, Facebooking on the iPhone.

It was a very interesting experience and one all of us are glad we got to be a part of. I walked away with two important realizations:
 1. It is possible for a modern, nine year old boy to spend a weekend in the woods with only his dog, a book, two small toys and actually have fun, occupy himself and never once complain that he was bored.
Here he is using a vine as a jump rope.

2. OK, not so much a new revelation but rather a really important reinforcement of a previously held belief. Goals, desires, capabilities, just life in general is just so freakin' relative. Many posts back I ranted about some people in our lives calling us crazy for doing things like the Mud Runs, Adventure Races, etc. Basically, activities that carry a certain level of, for lack of a better word, pain with the pleasure. At the time I could not wrap my mind around why they couldn't wrap their mind around what I was doing.

I get it now.

I'm going to be honest. Going into the weekend I kind of expected to walk away with a little part of me wanting to a do a 50 miler or more one day. After spending the weekend seeing what the runners go through, listening to them, talking to their spouses......

There is a pleasure to pain ratio to everything we choose to do. Sure, there are parts of every Adventure Race that get a little painful and I think to myself, "Wait! I'm choosing to do this?" But they are small and fleeting. The fun of the rest of the race, let alone the feelings of accomplishment afterwards, are more than worth the uncomfortable bits.

Hell, Crossfit regularly kicks my tubby ass, yet... how I feel afterwards both mentally and physically are totally worth it. But ultrarunning? Not worth it. To me. As the race went on I had a really difficult time trying to understand how any of them could find it worth the pain either. But then it hit me that I was being like my friends who don't "get" the ARs and Mud Runs. To them, it's not worth it.

And that's ok. It's all relative. Relative to this particular point in the time/space continuum. Doing an ultra-run or a six, or even 12 hour AR, isn't worth the discomfort to me now. But neither was making the time to pack lunches and workout two years ago. Because what might not seem worth the pain or annoyance right now, might be worth it to you someday. I know lots of people who claim that they want to lose weight and/or get in shape. But when I mention things like Crossfit or using a Couch to 5K program, or pre-planning meals, they scoff. The discomfort/annoyance is still not worth the pay-off to them. Honestly? I hope someday it will be before the actual pain of not taking care of themselves sets in. But we're all on our own time-line, and those of us on the journey have no right to judge those who haven't started on their own yet. Because for a lot of us, on a different point on the time-line, we were them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Getting around...

What a week! Took the evening flight from Ft Lauderdale and arrived in Denver just before midnight last Thursday night. Why? To spend the weekend with and have a fantabulous time with my college buddy, Kelly, who was desperate for a Get-Out-Of-Dodge weekend. Which she already needed before Hurricane Sandy hit her home in NJ and left her without power for the week.

Her boobs are not usually so shiny.

We hiked.
Red Rocks Park was ah-MAzing. So. Many. Fit. People.

We drank.
Seriously, do we need more than one Coyote Ugly-type franchise?

We hiked some more.
On the trail from Buffalo Bill's Grave to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center.

Where we stumbled into this guy:
We both thought he was a statue at first, till he moved.
After much deliberation, we took our chances and walked past him. He was neither scared nor concerned. A very impressive animal that nearly caused me to have to change my pants.

And we drank some more....
and took really horrible self-portaits. Hey! But at least no duck-face!

I took the red-eye home Sunday night, took a nap and then headed to Orlando for two nights at the Coco Key Water Resort in Orlando with the family, where we:

Got soaked.

Had a few cold ones. (shocking and unexpected, I know) 

And finally worked on my tan lines. Are you people happy now?

Seriously, it was the first time pretty much EVER, that Dave and I just hung out at a resort/pool all day. No rushing to activities or events, just chilling. It was glorious. I think it was the timing of the Denver trip that allowed me to slow down so much, but no matter. It was a really great little family getaway.

And as if we haven't had enough time together this week, the three of us will be sitting in the woods from 7:00am Saturday morning through 2:00pm Sunday afternoon. All alone except for the 89 runners who will pass by our aid station as they participate in the Wild Sebastian 100. Yup, that's 100 miles on foot. And you people think I'm nuts.