My Trip To The Epic Hybrid Training Center

“Ready or not we are the new breed. We are the new scene. So tell me now, Do you want it? Step up or or get out of the way punk.” Upon a Burning Body

 When I first did a Spartan Race I was crushed. Crushed by the weight of the rock filled bucket and sand bags. Crushed by how many times I failed. Crushed as I watched myself go from top 3 to 30th, not for lack of fitness, but because of lack of knowledge, and experience. I grabbed a podium spot as a top Masters finisher, and the check that went along with it, but I knew, that while I had an ok debut, I was beaten by this event. 
Sure, I have some legit physical changes I need to do to make to improve, but so much of all sports is body movement. I stress this as a swim coach, and also as a run coach, but when it comes to upper body type stuff its so much about form, and like Notorious B.I.G. said “If you don’t know, now you know.” And there is no way of knowing unless someone teach you. I needed help and was so humbled by my first race it was easy to ask for it.

My Notorious B.I.G. is not big at all. Julia, a slight and solid gymnast and Spartan racer, she rules all things that hang from the ceiling like a monkey queen; her kingdom being Epic Hybrid Gym on 38th St. here in NYC, (but expanding elsewhere). She has learned to translate gymnastics and body awareness to the Spartan obstacles. Watching her hang from rope, swing from rings, transition to bars, and seemingly use no energy was inspiring and made a great first impression. But what made my experience so powerful was her ability to break down seemingly complicated tasks, into simple easy movement, all of which I wasn’t doing and wouldn’t think of doing. For example, I can do a million crunches. Hold a plank for minutes. But all the core strength in the world is useless if you don’t know to engage it when going from ring to ring. I was hanging like dead man trying to swing. Total fail. She had me engage my core and flex my bicep to take pressure off the forearm. She said not to swing wildly, but to use your feet to aim, and to make the movements small and controlled.

We did two sessions. The first was entirely skill based and we went through the long list of things I failed at. Bucket carry, sand bag carry, hoist, rings, the wall climbs, rope climb. She broke each thing down into a series of simple movements and gave me a series of simple exercises to strength the needed muscles once I learn the movements. She also went through the stuff I didn’t see: Tarzan swing, Tarzan traverse, and a few others. I got super practical advice for those too, and also when and if I see them, they won’t be surprises which is huge for me as a novice in the sport. 

The second session was more of a workout, doing all those things at pace, with my heart in my throat (I don’t train a lot above my LT for ironman distance racing). 5 x 6 flights of stairs, stairs with 75 sand bags, 50 lbs sand bag once around the block (that was fun in midtown, next time, I think I will do it in a gimp outfit, because, I mean, at that point why not?). She did some crawling wheel thing that cracked me and I found myself nose to nose with the ground, but I finally got it the second time. We also did all the upper body, hanging stuff I had struggled with. Proof that you will get fast with knowledge over fitness, as I fatigued during the second session I continued to do better. I was getting weaker as I got tired, but smarter and by the end I did every upper body one, and a few effortlessly, things, I hand even been able to do 1/2 of. I went from going 1/2 across, to all the way across, and then without getting off, back again. I could have likely dont it a few more times. Thats not fitness, that straight up knowledge. Seeing progress, is, and remains, the best motivator on earth, though not having to do punishment burpies, a Spartan tradition that Julia adopted is a close second. It’s funny too because as much as I have been a pro training hard for 12 years with seemingly no motivational issues working with Julia also was nice because she would give that little bit of  pep talk when things got hard, it’s funny how much we ignore the mind in sport and I was thankful for the motivational pick ups. We don’t do that enough in triathlon (see my prior post) 

So huge thanks to her and Epic for the help. Anyone looking to do a Spartan Race or just do an insane workout, Check them out. And ummm, Aroo?!?!?  

  

Proud 

Proud
“I work, till I am dead; then I do it all again.” rob bailey. 

We don’t say it enough: “I am proud of you.” We should. It not only is an amazing thing to say; it’s an amazing thing to be told. Mostly because it carries with it the risk of failure. You earn that. You struggle for it. You fight and claw and suffer to do something worth being proud of; worth someone else being proud of you for. Pride both rewards and inspires. 

The ironman lake placid weekend was amazing for me. One of my athletes who historically struggled in the run was second over all in an ultra! A race I would have been proud of her for just finishing. I know how many hours she ran in winter through horrific conditions. How she faced a cultural shock of doing strength work staring down muscle heads as her slight frame added muscle for the first time. I know how brutal the course and conditions are. 

Another finished IMLP 2 hours ahead of his best hopes and PR. He wanted to see a finishing photo of him in day light and I opened a email to him in the most beautiful Lake Placid sunshine! I know the countless hours he spend to prepare for this. The days he got up at 5am to travel across the city to swim with me. The way he listened to my race plan and discipline it took to execute it. 

Another athlete I just started with crushed the swim which we worked on and then fought to finish, under prepared but unstoppable. He completed the Ironman and emailed me asking for a swim workout the day after because he wants to get back to work to improve for next time. He is already back to work to build on the day.

Another athlete faced not setting. A PR because of an injury and lined up with the very real fear that she wouldn’t finish. Her back is jacked and she lined up with the real possibility that this would be a total failure. I know how much bravery it takes to stair down massive failure in a public way and try anyways. She suffered the whole way but refused to give up and finished ironman lake placid. She is reg’ed for 2016.

An elite athlete of mine had just gone through a break up. As an elite just a small fraction less then everything means getting crushed by other elites. It’s a horrible proposition. But this weekend she found herself on a start line in the insanely competitive NYC road running scene, and found the strength to heal herself and commit to being the athlete she is. She found her inner passion and strength and way on to the over all podium and is ready to kill it from here. She has elite talent but at that level so does everyone else. But she had the ability to over come. I know the 100 mile weeks she has done. The endless workouts. And racing with everything you got. This was her first step back and it was more of a stomp. 

Another athlete sat on the sidelines. Weeks before his ironman he got hot by a car. Surgery, casts, slings. We talked at length and we are focusing on what he can do, not what he can’t as he stares down 6 months of healing and rehab. After watching his friends and teammate do IMLP the race he should have been in, he emailed me with “great news” he got an ok from the Doctor to do what I suggested: strength machines, indoor riding can do machines and elliptical workouts. He was 100% focused in 2016 in his email. Zero Pity party.

Another athlete finished IMLP after failing to do so in his first attempt before working with me.

Today I am proud as hell of my athletes and want to tell them that because they EARNED it and they earned it the only way possible; with brutal relentless effort. 

Photo: lots of daylight in this photo! 

  

BLOCK ISLAND TRI RACE REPORT

In 199something I did my first tri. It was the Block Island Tri. It had at that point been going on for for 15 or more years. It’s origins are directly connecting to kona. People saw that race around that island and decided to do their own on their island. When I got into tri more in 1998 I won the race and started it every year since winning it 6-8 times before this weekend (one years results are missing, 2003, and another year they did the old course and new course but I don’t know if the old course race really counts because it was under a different name). 
My friend and sometimes training partner Donnie won this race 6 times. Winning it would make 7 confirmed wins and making me the most winningest winner in wace wistory (said in Elmer Fud voice). At the race start I sipped Drip Drop and had a Carboom Gel and I bumped into a past champ Garen who went on to kona and to qualify for a pro card. He crushed me in our last two battles, but sadly for him he was nursing a back injury and not racing. It’s funny how it works, but he was one of the loudest cheers I got during the race. Their is a bit of a fraternity among the fast. 
I took the swim out hard and just tried to not relent at all for the 7 minutes it took me to swim the course. I had the second fastest swim in my Xterra Wetsuit a few seconds behind the best of the 450 ppl that entered the water. My new suit crazy fast to get off and by the bike I had a big lead. Another near race best split on the bike saw my Valdora and ERC wheels pretty much put the race out of contention for everyone else but because of wave starts I was unaware if I was winning by 4 minutes leaving t2 meaning I had to fight to line. 
The run was hard and I struggled and I could tell someone behind me was out running me and this instilled the always good motivating fear in my stride. I grabbed my Carboom and the 50mg of caffeine and 150 calories made me run better. I also got a big lift seeing my coach and former champ out there fighting to a 6th over all! This race hit me between peaks so my fitness was low meaning I had to really fight hard to race well and was really suffering. As I hit the finish line I waited for second place and found out he was in my wave so I had won by 3 minutes in a time of 1 hour and 8 minutes.   
I was stoked for the win, which until next month serves as my anniversary to Christine when we get hitched. Good to know I will be still be a champ when we tie the knot. 

Photo credit Phil Ludlow. Me in my fly Champion System kit and Block Island Sport Shop Flatty hat looking deep into the pain locker at the end of the race.

  

So you just did an IM, now what? 

So you just did Ironman and want to not end your season? Ok; so first you need rest! Sleep a ton. Cut down stimulates like coffee so you sleep hard. Also you need to really eat properly, with a lot of leafy greens, veggies and lean proteins and I like blueberries because they are loaded in antioxidants. Also hydrate. IMLP takes a lot out of you and you need to rehydrate and stay hydrated to promote the flushing of the damaged cells out of you. Use medical grade Drip Drop as it rehydrates you way better than just water or other sports drinks. 

There is a real danger of doing too much because mentally your stoked, but your body isn’t and you can’t tell because your so engaged with your recent race. Be careful! 

Week 1:I wouldn’t do nothing but rather aim for 10-30 minutes of light zone 1 spinning swimming or aqua jogging with super easy running after a week. 

Week 2 you can do 30-40 min workouts 3-4 times a week in zone 2. 

Week 3 30-60 minutes 4-5 times a week. In zone 2. 

Week 4 30-120 minutes 4-6 times a week. 

Week 5 or 6 is when you can resume training. 

Yoga and massage really helps too. Get the massage at the end of week 1. 

Looking for a race to do: why not the NYC marathon! It’s a pillar of sport! Join www.teamcontinuum.net and get entry into this sold out classic and free coaching from me! 

Photo some of the Team Continuum NYC marathon team drinking Drip Drop and Carboom

  
 

Spartan Race. 

“Whatever doesn’t kill you is gonna leave a scar.” M. Manson 
I won Harryman Half and was thrice second and when you do ok at a race, you often meet the race director. In this case it was Dann who is also part of Spartan racing. In the podium chit-chat he got me excited about Spartan Racing. I had done and won Rugged Maniac so I thought why not. My season was based on a peak for 7/5 but tossing this in at the last minute seemed fun. I had no experience and no time to prep, though I watched videos to try to gleam as much as I couldn’t in the 5 days of travel and recovering between Challenge Canada and the Spartan Race. Even though I new I was not ready really, Iwanted to give it a go. Nothing ventures, nothing gained! Plus you have to have your first race at some point and really it’s the only way to learn. 

At the startline NBC TV crews filmed guys with Olympic Ring tattoos as the pro director whispered in my hear stuff like “oh that guy is a 2:08 marathoner.” “That guy is an Olympic steeple chaser” “that guy, he is a world champ at this”. Wait, he beat the other two guys!?!?! The class of athletes here is crazy! 
The start had us run up a ski mountain in the Poconos. The sloop turned to mudd and rock scramble and I was in the top 3-5 when it did, which felt comfortable but as the route turned to roots and mud I went backwards as I was in 6 oz road flats. Everyone else had cleats. First lesson! 
We got to the top and did the “hoist”. It weights more than me and some big dudes came up from behind me and pulled down. I pulled down and instead I went up. I then watched someone use a combo of their arms and body weight and went for it again and got the 150lbs of rocks to go up. I didn’t lose too much time after that but have a lot to learn and also this was the first sign that my upper body isn’t yet built for this. 
After that we hit a cargo net and I was still in the sharp end of the race. Some guy I later found out is on the Spartan canada pro team did a flip over it at the top and I lost 20-30 seconds as I acted like a fly in a spider web. Then we hit down hill trails. Did I tell you I was in flats? Wet grass and step pitch stopped me from using my one strength, my running as I struggled to not eat it on the super steep ski slope. Then We got to a spear toss and I missed. Throw a spear!?!?! Ok, that’s different and cool. (I have since built 2 spears and won’t ever miss again). This resulted in 30 burpees. Ouch! In the 2-3 minutes it takes to do 30 burpees I lost 20-30 spots. 
After a short wooded section we hit one of two events that took me out of contention. Sand bag carry. Top 20-30 had to do double bags. I slide down the ski slop totally a mess, dropping them, and sliding. Then on the uphill I crumbled. Reduced to shuffling them one at a time it took me twice as long as others. Total disaster for me. The other thing that saw me go backwards was the bucket carry which was very much the same. A combo of footing and forarm strength crushed me and I lost huge chunks of time. 
After that it was a series of runs and obstacles that I managed and I passed groups of people. Also as the race went on my deep base from ironman meant I didn’t fade, and we even had a swim where I leap frogged a lot of people and was back in the top 20. I also was fueled by Carbboom which I took every 45 minutes and I think my fueling was better than most. 
I also had Drip Drop powder which comes in single serving pouches and was perfect! I mixed it with water along the way! Huge advantage as the course is 2+ hours long and only has water. 
Towards the end things went wayward again. Two upper body and grip strength events saw me doing 30 burpees for each fail, rope climb and ring swing. Worse, I have a learning disability and have trouble counting. Each failed counting was a steep penalty. I agree with this totally but it cost me a bunch of spots after the fact and would have only taken me a few seconds more to do the right number. More hard lessons learned. 
After those fails I did ok on the other events and finished 3rd masters and got a podium and check. I was maybe top 20 over the line but dropped down after that because of the penalty (I now do 30 burpees by time using my stop watch only watch by taking a split of the first 10 and multiplying it by 3 and adding a few seconds to make sure I do 1 or 2 too many rather than too few.) 
Over all I learned so much into first endeavor and know that with what I learned a bit of time to train I can really make some progress in this sport which I really enjoyed. 
Huge thanks to Spartan racing for putting on these brutal events that are a true challenge. I strongly suggest triathletes tri one! 
Also thanks to Champion systems clothing for making stuff that hold up to barbwire! And also Carboom and Drip Drop for keeping me strong all day! 
Aroo! Aroo! Aroo! 

  

TOP MANIAC

“Take a breath and exploid like bullets tearing through the wind.” -Rise Against
I love adventure. Ironman was not about the sport of triathlon at firstt; it was simply the craziest thing I could find at the time. I am always on the look out for the that kind of challenge and adventure. That’s why I do off road tris, cyclo-cross, cross country skiing, road bike racing,

trail races winter hikes and ultras and now OBSTACLE COURSE racing with Rugged Maniac

I had seen the sport pop up and explode in popularity and looking at the course with a 50 foot wooden mountain at the end; I got that same exciting feeling in my gut that I do at the start of anything I haven’t done before…that this was gonna be epic. 

I got in line for my wave start sipping Drip Drop, the best hydration product on the market. I tightened my Brooks Launch, a good shoe for the day because it has enough cushion for jumping off stuff but it light enough to race in. 

 The vibe of the other athletes was awesome. We talked, wished each other luck and there was a sense of us teammates as much as competitors. The horn sounded and I took an early lead because I wanted the hole shot and first digs at the 20+ obstacles that stood between me and the finish over the 5k course. The course wisely starts with faster lower obstacles so the field can spread out and I ran through “speed trap” (I big dirt pit with water) and the first set of barriers then the ninja boards. At this point I was racing the clock but with waves all day long and 1000s of people I knew to not let off the gas as I kept going.

I can’t recall all 20+ challenges but I noticed I was excelling at them and think my history of triathlon which uses upper and lower body and also my balance from surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding parkour and off road cycling really prepared me for this. The focus required for the obstacles put me in a “flow state” one if the most wonderfully zen ways to be and is a real perk to this kind of racing. Well except for the sand bag carry. I mistakenly grabbed a 50lbs bag and my body really sunk under the weight as I huffed it out and around the carry route! I am not a power lifter!

By the last mile or so I could tell I was gassing out and had a Carboom energy gel for a burst of energy (anyone doing one of these should have one during it. It’s too long to do without calories). The obstacles really spike your heart rate. I though they would be “recovery” but in fact it was the exact opposite; they demand oxygen from both the upper and lower body at the same time. I found myself on fumes as I came into the final ones which were some of the hardest. 

“Blogstacle” almost bested me near the end. It was a soft 10 foot inflatable that gave way and was slippery. I got a hold of a handle and put my foot to my hand in a rock climbing move I recalled and pushed with my leg and found myself on the way down the other side. After that it was to the big mountain which was when I learned why we all were acting like teammates at the start: as I ran the 25 foot skate board ramp like obstacle two hands reached out and hoisted me up. Teamwork and thanks! After that it was a rope net to the top then the longest most awesome water slide down. I was to focused to be scared until half way down when I realized I was going SOOO fast! We hit the pool of water at the end and I could feel my heart jump out of my chest! What a freakin’ rush!!!! I stumbled out do the pool and over two earth barriers but couldn’t find my legs to kick and just trucked to the finish stopping my clock at 25:47. I knew I won my wave but had no idea how I did over all. 

At the awards I heard the time for third, then second, and knew I won as I was under them. Hooray! I was pumped. I had had a blast and loved this event so to win it was just a honor and I hung out forever afterwards because the party is awesome and unlike anything I had been to prior. Fun contests, great music, lots and lots of beer to get people loose ( I don’t drink but I also not the type of guy you want to make a party awesome and I was loving the vibe of those who do ). 

I know some endurance sports purists might hate on this. Too bad. Because I have watched “pure” sports become corporations and the spirit of that sport lost. This had what that once had. It got 1000s of people outside and gave them a challenge and adventure that was authentic and epic not to mention all the training people put in to get to the start line. 

 If you build it; they will come and Rugged Maniac build something really special and I had a blast blasting through it. Thanks! 

(Photo: me at the start in my lovely Champion System Tec tee, the mountain at the end, me claiming My prize and tossing up \m/, and my lovely Holistic Health nutrition coach winning the pie eating contest!) 
  

CHALLENGE WILLIAMSBURG

  
 ”Here we go. I don’t even know if I will make it to hell. The harder I try, the more I fail.” Upon a Burning Body

I have never been a half guy. Even my 70.3 world championships spot was mostly luck, having a very good day on the right day. A lifetime spend aimed at going twice as long has left me with one speed and a diesel engine. Never the less there are a few halfs out there I can’t resist and with the death of the only non WTC pro race it looks like I will being a few of them. I had always planned on doing Challenge Williamsburg VA, it was meant to be a tune up for Challenge AC, but with that race cancelled for pros this got bumped up as a priority. 
The story race week was the heat which had hit 99 during the weekend with all the humidity of the south. The race course however is mostly shade both on the bike and run making use of the very pretty dense forrest and woods. But the swim was wetsuitless, and while the water feels clean it’s dark and has currents. The result was that it was hard to draft and I got dropped from the group I can normally hang with. I swam ok solo but worked harder for it and hit T1 in 10th, thanks to my Xterra skin suit which is a big improvement over nothing when it’s not wetsuit legal and it kept me in the race for sure. 
A fast t1 and some use of my cross skills had me pass buddy Tom Woods. Sadly for me toms TT skills had him repass and drop me shortly their after. Also Congrats to him on having another kid this season (we did some catching up on the bike). I got passed twice more on this flat fast course and passed one other person towards the end. sure enough my half split was only 6 minutes faster than my full split at AC X 2 and that course was windy. Gah! I should just get Valdora to make me a fixie. 
Out o f t2 I tried to push to see if I could get back into some racing and was flying in my Brooks ST racers. Sockless and blister free in this light weight flats! I love the run course a mix of dirt roads through woods and then paved path. Sadly I was too far off the pace to make any headway however. I did manage to destroy myself and as the miles counted down I felt the “feels like 124″ degrees temps that had come to define the day. As I came unglued I found myself at POLAR: pace of last resort and I was just determined to gut it out and finish bagging a top 10 among the pro men. Thanks to Boom gels for getting me through the final 5k! 
I can’t wait to try it all again at St. Andrews in Canada!

Photo: t1 was Jamestown wher the first European settlers ate each other before all dying. Given the conditions I think most everyone racing got a taste of how that felt.

  

Harryman Half 

“I am not sorry for the way I am…I am a god damn monster. ” -upon a burning body. 

 Photo: (dude let’s take podium selfies!) 

I came into Harryman the defending champ. Called “arguably the hardest half in the east” it’s a brut of a course due to the 2 mile steep climb

you do each of the 4 laps and a relentless run. 

The race go going with a stud swimmer dropping everyone. I followed with another strong swimmer and we came out of the water in 29 minutes and after a nice transition I was not far behind and took the lead within 5k. It was a swim course PR for me thanks Xterra Wetsuits! 

I felt good on the bike and just tried to push the bike as much as I could was way faster than last year. Valdora TT frames really are built to climb. The 4 lap bike give fair splits and good reminder to have a Carboom gel which I chomped on every 30-45 minutes.

 Half way through I saw Mitch West, complete tri stud, 6 times kona qualifier and Am Zof champ coming up on me. I was in the mood for a fight and it took him a full lap to drop me but ultimately he dropped me. Again a course PR, I got to thank Strong Like Bull where we ride big climbs and then C3 Racing my new road team for making me stronger on the bike. I tried to keep it close into T2 because I always have faith in my run. 
Out on the run I put on my Brooks ST Racers and the hammer down but couldn’t make progress and in fact Mitch has a lovely run too and quickly it became clear the podium was set with him on the top step and I cruised in second making sure third stayed third. 
Lost my title but lost it to a stud and friend and had a course PR on the swim, bike and run. 

I can’t recommend this race highly enough.