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Category Archives: Fitness

Warrior Dash New England

On June 10th, some members of the team we assembled for Tough Mudder (named Beer Wings, but we’ll get to that in another post) got together to tackle the Warrior Dash.  The 2012 New England event was held at the Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, CT.

Beer Wings: Before.  So, clean.  So shiny.

It was a hot day in New England, and we were ready for anything. We had decided to run the Dash as a team, and after the rally cry from the MC, and the flames exploded above the starting line, we were off! Or rather, we were walking along as the group of 400 of us hit the first challenge about .1 miles into the course. The first challenge wasn’t so much an obstacle as it was a muddy embankment into a cool creek. It was met with many screams as the cold water filled everyone’s shoes, but our little group was attempting to run at every moment to create some room for ourselves. We held our own really well, and slogged through the various mud puddles, patches, and creek beds that came up thigh high. The first obstacle was a muddy embankment which had a cargo net draped over it for some traction. However, the five of us skipped the cargo net section and just charged up the muddy slope using our hands for extra leverage. In no time, we were though that section and onto a slightly wider trail where we could begin to find our groove.

Scott & I running along

We settled into a nice easy pace, and came upon our next obstacle. Up and down some pitched balance beams, but not too difficult. I could see it being a bit more of a pain if it were later in the race, and your legs were tired. Next up, we had to hop over some barricades, and duck under barbed wire fences. Scott & I had gotten into a rhythm of scaling the wall, taking a couple of paces to the barbed wire, dropping and rolling through, hopping up and repeating the process. I don’t remember how many sections there were, but I remember being glad to finally get to the end of that one. Not long after, we were making our way through a tire field, up and over wrecked cars, up vertical walls, and down 20 foot poles. We held together pretty well through them all. Jack was falling back a bit towards the end, and waved us on.

Barb’s husband, Ryan, her children, and Drea were all on hand to spectate and snap some photos of us. Unfortunately, they weren’t allowed too far onto the course, so all their photos came at the end. However, some great obstacles were at the end, and they were able to grab some great shots of us!

As we neared the end, we passed some firemen who were cheering us on letting us know that there was 3/4 of a mile to go.  But, in the last half mile there were four obstacles to take on.  The first was the 20 foot tall “Warrior Wall” which you had to scale up and over.

Scaling the Warrior Wall

I hit it really well, and was up and over in no time.  And, like we had been doing, I turned to back and was rooting on my teammates and waiting for them to join me.  Scott & Barb came over next, and as I was standing there waiting for Mike, I noticed that they kept running!  I had heard that Barb had a competitive streak in her, and it seemed like she was smelling the finish line.  So, I began giving chase.

Next up, he had to jump through fire hurdles.  Scott had cracked me up by jumping up and clicking his heels over the fire, or so I thought.  When I questioned him later, he wasn’t actually trying to do that.  He was legitimately unnerved and was just trying to get his body as far from the flames as he could!  That made it even funnier.

I’m on F I R E !

Once past the flames, we had the last vertical challenge of the day, the “Cargo Climb.”  You had to go up a few steps of a wooden ladder, and then scale across about 30 feet of horizontal cargo netting, up another 10 feet, and then down via more cargo net.  Well, as I came upon the obstacle, I found the spot where the center beam was, and decided to try to walk across the beam, tight rope style.  My legs weren’t nearly as fresh, and it got dicey at least once, where I almost crashed down into the net.  But, alas, I made it across with no issues.

Walking across the Cargo Climb

Once again, I was first off the obstacle and turned to wait for my teammates. And, once again, Barb just kept on running by!  So, I turned to jump run with her into the final obstacle of the day… a mud pit that you had to crawl through.

Underneath the barbed wire, you go!

There was some relief experienced being in the mud bath. Did I mention it was really freaking hot that day?

Barb & I are crawling out at the same time. (There is someone in between us, trust me, Barb is there).

Barb & I crossed the finish line just about together. To be fair, she beat me by 0.15 seconds. Not 15 seconds, mind you. But zero point fifteen seconds! But, on this day, it wasn’t about time. It was about team building and having fun. And, we certainly accomplished both!

Beer Wings! Not so clean. Not so shiny.

Mike, Scott, & I

Scott & I

For completing the Warrior Dash, we received medals, a t-shirt, and warrior helmets which we would wear on the summit of Lafayette a couple of days later. All in all, it was an awesome experience. It’s got me all amped up to do the Tough Mudder, and perhaps a Spartan Race or two. Additionally, I definitely want to go back and see how I do for time.  So, I’ll probably see you in 2013, Warrior Dash.  Only then, I will be running it much faster.

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Some Progress… I Guess

Alright.  Everyone reaches this point while getting in shape.

I’m seeing some progress.

I’m about to embark on my first tropical vacation in what feels like ages.  Being wintertime, I had to try on a ton of summer clothes to make sure I could still fit in them.  And, believe me, when I got back from Colorado back in mid-January, there would have been some serious doubts as to whether they would have fit.  Back in January, I was squeezing into all of my pants – a size 34. Shit, I was probably pushing the need for size 36 pants… but there was no fucking way I was going to allow myself to get bigger pants.  Thankfully, last night, I was fitting comfortably in them all… even requiring a belt for some.

I’m seeing some toning in my chest… I think.  I’ve previously joked with Drea about having moobs.  They were only A cups.  But, still.  I’m seeing more of a progression to actual pecs.  Again, I think.  It could be my imagination working overtime because my muscles feel tighter in general.  So, I’m seeing some progress, and I was even feeling pretty good about it…  and then, I stepped on the scale.

(sing it like Rage Against the Machine) "KNOW YOUR ENEMY!!"

The scale is the enemy.

I’ve been watching what I eat.  (mostly.)  I’ve been working out regularly.  But, the scale is not moving as fast as I would like.

I’ve stalled a bit the last couple of weeks.  Admittedly, there have been some counter-productive events: Superbowl, and Valentines Day, a weekend away with the guys… and now an all inclusive vacation to Mexico.  Holy shit am I going to have to work extra hard the next two months in order to hit my weight goals!

So, my attitude towards my progress thus far is… meh.  But, I’m firmly fixated on my goals.  And, I’m going to continue striving to hit them.

Scale be damned!

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Fitness

 

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Battle Ropes

Yesterday, the trainer at my gym introduced me to battle ropes.  Holy freaking workout!

For those that don’t know what battle ropes are, here’s a great video I found on them:

I love the fact that it is a core workout, in addition to the (obvious) arms workout.  I was only doing three sets of 20 seconds with 20 seconds rest in between.  And, then I repeated that later in the workout.  By the third set (both times), my waves were getting smaller and smaller.  TOUGH exercise.  And, I loved it.

I am definitely going to be mixing this into my strength training.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Fitness

 

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Nerds Like Fitness Too

Over the weekend, amid conversation that revolved around what each of us were doing to get into shape, Drea pointed me to an online article written about a former co-worker of hers.  The article summarizes her transformation from a soft, out of shape young woman, to a “Master of Deadlifts.”

Star Wars Rebellion Inspired Nerd Fitness Logo

I found the article as interesting as the site’s name:  Nerd Fitness.  Aesthetically, the site has a fun comic book inspired design to it that immediately sets it apart from other fitness sites.  (Apparently, the site was recently re-designed by a member of the Nerd Fitness Community.)  Additionally, the guy that graced the header was sporting a Sox cap… so that gave him instant cred in my book.  After finishing the article, I jumped to the “About” page to learn what the deal was & who the hell Steve Kamb (the guy in the Sox lid) is.  It was immediately clear to me that I was going to be spending some time on this site, as the about page had Superman, Transformers, and assorted video game references.  Hell, the tag line is “Leveling Up Your Life.”  Like I said, not your typical fitness site.

So, over the rest of the weekend, and some of Monday evening, I spent my fair share of time combing through the site.  (According to my lady, spending time online doesn’t count as “reading,” hence the usage of the word “combing.”)  There were tons of great articles on the site.  Obviously, the majority focus on fitness (big surprise, right?), but there were also sections discussing travel & generally living large.  (I will definitely hit that topic in a future post.)  But, given the recent fitness goals I placed on myself, I thoroughly enjoyed reading a perspective in a voice that I could totally relate to.  I enjoyed brushing up on proper squat technique, something that, despite how much I ran in the past, I have never really felt comfortable with.  I’ve been inspired to mix in some of the circuits that Steve has recommended.  I’ve been reminded to focus on form while doing the exercises.

Now, I certainly don’t agree with everything he has to say.  But, I’ve never agreed with everything any one person or group has ever said.  There are always more ways than one to skin a cat.  (I like that phrase because of my general dislike of cats…)  So, just because the dude doesn’t advocate tons of cardio, doesn’t mean I am going to abandon it.  To his credit, he doesn’t say don’t do cardio.  He advocates that there are more time efficient methods to lose weight and trim up.  I can certainly see some validity to what he is saying.  But, in the end, I like running and biking.  And, since I like it, I’m going to do it as part of my fitness strategy… and because I’d like to run competitively again.  He advocates a “clean” diet.  Although, I may integrate some of the concepts into my regular diet, I love cheese and carbs too damned much to abandon them.  In the end, it’s finding what works for me.

"These aren't the abs you are looking for..." But, if you can figure out how to do 50 pullups, you might get them!

I definitely want to “look better.”  There is no secret that vanity is part of the reason for working out (putting aside all of the other benefits for a moment).  And, I love this quote from Mark Twight (trainer responsible for getting the actors in shape for the movie 300):

“Appearance is a consequence of fitness.”

I’m going to remember that quote through this transformation I am trying to undergo.  I am going to focus on fitness goals, rather than appearance goals.  I believe my current goal to lose 30 pounds by April 30th fits under that umbrella.  Losing that weight will be a consequence of my dietary changes and how much more fit I am from the time I started the process. But, going forward, the more specific goals will be things like, how much weight I can bench press, how many pullups I can do, how fast I can run x distance, etc.

I’ve definitely subscribed to the RSS feed.  I’ve checked out the forums a bit.  (God, how I have always hated vBulletin boards.  They look so damned clunky – especially in relation to the great site design for the main site.)  I haven’t signed up for them and not sure that I will.  But, apparently, they have some games, and fitness challenges that the community members run.  They run some 6 week challenges, also.  I’m already involved in a 12 week challenge. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to set short term goals that will help me achieve the 12 week goals.

So, in case you haven’t caught the drift of what I am trying to say here, I’ll spell it out in black and white.  Nerd Fitness is a cool freaking site.  Check it out.  (I’d link it again.  But, I’ve already linked to it like 5 times above.  Come on.  Don’t be lazy.)

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Fitness

 

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Time to get in shape

Now that all of the holidays are done, the family trip to Colorado is but a haze of great memories, and all of the other assortment of excuses to eat & drink in excess are gone. (Oh who the fuck am I kidding?  There are always reasons to drink in excess.) I weighed myself when I got back from Colorado and I matched the highest I have ever been.  That’s right, “matched.” I’ve been here before.  Sloppy.  All of my clothes not fitting.  It’s time to end the see saw of weight loss and weight gain.

Immediately, after returning from Colorado, I started eating healthier.  Over the course of those two weeks, I had lost seven pounds.  A good start for sure.  But, certainly, not enough.

It’s time to get in shape.  No.  It’s time to get in shape, and stay in shape.

So, I have taken a couple of steps to make sure that I am successful.  First off, I’ve signed up for the “Body Transformation Challenge” at Gold’s. It’s a 12 week nationwide contest with a cash prize incentive.  But, that is not what I am interested in at all.  The name of the game, is transforming the entrants body from a soft mushy lump into a harder physically fit one.  The name of the game for the 12 weeks for me; drop 30 pounds.  So, couldn’t I do that without the contest aspect of this?  Sure, I probably could.  But, this contest gives me a 12 week period where I can focus on that one goal.  And, provide the extra incentive to keep on it.  Most beneficially, for a severely discounted rate, it gives me access to the trainers and keeps me accountable for the results.  And keeps me going to the gym.  I’ve been paying for it.  I might as well get the benefits out of the membership.

I started on Monday with my official weigh in, measurements, and photos.  I don’t have copies of those… yet.  Nor would I want them posted anywhere right now.  Blech.  But, after the 12 weeks, I will consider posting the before and after pics.  I am certain there will be a big difference, hopefully a drastic one.  After meeting with my assigned trainer, I hit a bike for a while and committed to coming back on Tuesday AM to hit a “Body Pump” class.  It’s essentially like a P90X video.  Except it is a full body workout rather than targeting a specific muscle group.

I felt like this. But, worse. (I looked much worse, as well!)

Thursday, I had my first personal training session.  And, it was going great.  Again, staying with the full body workout method, I was doing a circuit that had very little rest between exercises.  It was going great.  It was tough.  But, I was enjoying it.  (I always have enjoyed the feeling while working out.  Since college, I’ve just allowed life to interfere.)

We were about half way through.  As expected, I was breathing & sweating hard.  But, then I felt it.  I started feeling a bit woozy.  A bit weaker.  And suddenly, I had the thought rush to the forefront; “Fuck.  I’m crashing.”

And, crash I did.  I sat down and drank all of the water I had.  Mike, the trainer, went and grabbed me a gatorade.  I had to move to the couches and sit down for a bit and recover.  I managed to make light of it, saying “Shit.  Being fat and out of shape is not all that it’s cracked up to be.”  I was certainly embarrassed that it happened.  And, I aim to make sure that I am never so out of shape that I have to go through that again.  I immediately re-booked for next week.  And, damnit, I will make it through the entire work out.

So, that’s the short term plan to drop 30 pounds by April 30th.

But, three months of fitness is only a good start.  It’s only a beginning.  By the end of the program, I will be in much better shape.  But, then the goal will be to get into competition shape.


So, I found another hard date that I could put onto my calendar.  July 14th.  On that date, I will be competing in the Tough Mudder at Mount Snow in Vermont.  I will need to be in good enough running shape to handle 10-13 miles.  But, in reality, I will need to be ready to handle more than a half marathon as those 13 miles are on the slopes of a mountain, and littered with military-style obstacles.  It is not an event that I will be focused on time.  It will be an event that I am focused on enjoying and making each one of those obstacles my bitch.

If you don’t know what Tough Mudder is, I have found two videos that will give you a sense of what I am planning on tackling in July.  This one is a video created by NESN, but they don’t allow for embedding on other sites, so you will have to visit their page.  This was taken at last year’s New England Tough Mudder.  The one which I can embed here is a well produced video (and features Dropkick Murphys tracks), but it took place in sunny California.  Therefor it is missing some of the New England grit.

If you followed either of those links, you will see that it is a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, whose goal is  “To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.”  Read up on it, and if you are compelled to donate at all, please donate through my own fundraising page.

Stay tuned, the next few months could be interesting.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in Fitness, Outdoor Adventures, Running

 

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And, we are registered.

Today, I signed up for my first Road Race in ages. It also coincides with the first three goals listed in my “New Year Resolutions” post.

The race is the Take the Lake 5K on July 10th. It coincides perfectly with the scheduled conclusion of my recently re-started Nike+ 5K training program.

It will probably not be the first race I run, I’m targeting one in June. But, it will probably be the first one that I begin caring about my time. After all, August 1st is only a couple of weeks after that.

I registered the girl, and I think a few other friends are going to join us. Should be a fun morning!

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Running

 

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Fun Runs

On the heels of the Boston Marathon, here are a couple of interesting runs that I’d like to do around Boston.

Boston Freedom Trail Run
I’ve never explored the Boston Freedom Trail. And, although, I’d like to walk it sometime… this just looks like it would be fun to do once.

Royal Rooters 5K Run
How could I not do this?? Running + Baseball + McGreevy’s = 3 of my favorite things!

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in Running

 
 
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