NBC’s Spartan US Championships, Palmerton, PA.

“I am gonna pick the world up and drop it on your head.” – lil Jon

Looking back on things 6 weeks ago I was pretty iffy if I would line up. I had just finished a forced break do to some serious over training (and racing) and was in rough shape. But this race was the carrot. A big NBC event; a hard course that suited me in many ways and I wanted to come correct for it.

Realistically you can’t cramp 6 months of training needed to get into peak form into 6 weeks. But as race day got closer I had some promising workouts. My upper body strength was close to my peak, as I did 14 pull ups (that’s kind of my bench mark exercise for me) which was 1 off my PR in the fall. Running wise I had won a Rugged Maniac so I felt my speed might be there. Also I had two great workouts where I was able to run up Bear Mountain’s “Weltch Trail” which is tricky and steep. So I had hope to hang onto as I went in. But I also know I am still 4lbs off race weight and solid week isn’t a solid month.

After my pre race BOSTON COMMONS COFFEE and a warm up it was time to get this party started. The start had call ups, all the top guys in the sport had flown in from Europe, North America and Australia. NBC cameras circled us. The announced that the sand bag carry would be two not 50lbs bags not, one. This crushed people last year, me included. They then announced that “shuttling” them, doing one at a time, and dragging them, would be a DQ. Big dude cheered, little dudes groaned. I had done some double carries in training and just stared forward more curious about how much pain this would cause me, like a kid playing with a deep cut in their own arm. Then they threw smoke bombs; we said AROO thrice, and it was on.

Last year I had been one of the top runners up the mountain. Sadly after the first rise my body was just not feeling it. I was disappointed as this was my strength. The first 30 minutes was me not smoking people and being frustrated about it. On a downhill my friend and training partner Jazz caught and passed me then wiped on rocks running full blast downhill, ouch! Then the guy behind me did the same thing ouch ouch!!. Then it was my turn. I hit the deck, but their is no standing 8 count like boxing so I got up ASAP and started running again but ouch ouch ouch!

We hit the strength stuff at some point. Heavy bucket carry; and I didn’t lose any spots. In fact I passed people. What?!?! Sadly the excitement didn’t live long as My grip on the “hoist” got lose as I went to lower it and it fell. 30 burpees later and about 2 minutes of lost time. Gah! It was a good time to have a BOOM GEL. After that we got to the spear throw where you have to hit a straw person from 40 feet and make it stick. I never made this before but thanks to Jazz’s training on proper throwing mechanics I not only hit it, but it was a bulls eye. Things are looking up! In fact from there on things mostly got better and better. I made everything else for the next hour including things I failed often like a boulder wall, and this new insane thing where you jump in water, climb a rope out of it, then do bars that are not fixed and dangle at different heights. Wet and at different heights it made it hard but I made it, avoiding a 20 foot fall into water and 30 more burpees. I also caught 4 people on the barbwire which is becoming my thing as I seem to value skin less then others. But I made my move at the double carry. 20 guys we just broken on the side of the mountain. Literally crumbled on the side of the mountain staring at the group huffing and dying. That was me last year. This year I put both on my shoulder and made my way 150m down being extra careful not to fall as its a black diamond ski slop and I suspect 20-30% pitch with rocks and awful footing, thankfully this year I wore Brooks Pure Grit, the shoe was tipped off to me by shoe guru Jim Ortel at BLOCK ISLAND SPORT SHOP. As we turned to go up I focused on two things 1) footing 2) pacing. The issue isn’t the weight per se: it’s blowing up. It’s nearly impossible to go easy. So I took small steps at a slow pace. I was steady, and made it to the top without faltering and in the process passed a huge number of guys.

My legs and running still weren’t firing however so places where I would have crushed people and dropped them I was now lingering with them. This was irksome. We hit the final obstacles which should have been a breeze except my upper body strength was waning. We did have a swim and I was stoked to be in the CHAMPION SYSTEM skin suit for that and passed people in droves. By the time we hit the rig I was excited because I had made it all 4 times in other events. This time they had a wrinkle. It was a series of rigs to a straight bar, to ropes but the ropes were thin, slippery and had no knots. I slipped on the last one and came up 12 inches short of the bell. I came insanely close o both obstacles I failed which is both encouraging and frustrating. 30 burpees later and I found myself in a sprint for the last pay check (see photo of us coming out from under the dunk wall) with a 2:30 marathoner. I lost. I tried, hard. Gah.

I was 23rd over all and found it a mix bag. Looking back I realize I am making progress; on the other hand I know I can do a lot better and this was a chance to really stand out but my fitness just isn’t there and I won’t get another shot at a big-time event until 10/2 at the ultra beast worlds.

image image

Next up: some tris! Hitting the Tuckahoe Tri www.citytri.com 7/31!

Then defending my title at the block island Tri 8/6.

Can’t wait to get back to some multisports!

TEAM CONTINUUM FUN RUN! 

The return of the team continuum fun run! Come out Tuesday 7/-9 for a fun 5k of running and meet the team! You can learn about our free coaching program and how you can help kids with cancer! 

7/19/16 @columbus circle’s entrance to Central Park! 7pm! We will have a bag watcher on hand if you are coming from work. 

See you there! 

3,2,1 rugged maniac results 

“I am a warrior I have not fear, no one will conquer me, I will not die here.” -dirt wormz 

After my 4 spartan “races” and a 60 and 70 mile run week (see prior post) I was hoping I was fitter. I took this optimism into my title defense of Rugged Maniac here in NYC. They condensed two days of racing into one meaning there were two champions with comp’ed entry from last year , me and the other winner from 2015 plus another pro triathlete and a few guys I know from ocr podiums including my training partner Jazz who rarely doesn’t see a podium. Pre race I had my normal Boston Commons coffee with a double shot of their espresso. I am calling this “John Hirsch Race blend.” And a carbboom gel. The start was wide open and long and we ran a mile without any major obstacles. I must be getting more into OCR because I raced in nothing but my Team Continuum Tri shorts by Champion Systems and no top. Sexy beast mode! Hahahaha 
The other champ of 2015 and Will the other pro triathlete were ahead quickly and I was in third. The other champ missed a turn and I followed. I figured it out and yelled at him then waited. Honestly I didn’t want second place like that. Will was GONE. While this was sportsman like of me it was painfully stupid and what happened after that was 2 miles of neck and neck racing right to the line. 

The final obstacle is a ramp you run up like a half pipe for skate boarding that then goes to a cargo net climb to a 50 foot water slide. We were neck and neck until the top when I got inched out and came down the slide second. Worse, I was on the outside and there wasn’t any water! A lot of friction burn later and I was behind and couldn’t catch up! But the reality is had he not taken the wrong term he would have been ahead the whole time. 

I took 3rd and was happy to just feel fast for the first time in a long time. 

With 3rd came free entry into NJ Rugged Maniac. Again pro triathlete will showed up. Amazingly me and him found ourselves in the first k when a bunch of people went off the front. I was super confused, questioned if I sucked all of a sudden. But a k later and will was first and I was second and that was the running order. The final 2k was miserable as I was paying for the poor pacing at the start. Lucky for me 3rd was a bit back and I got to pace myself to the line for second. 

Some quick talking and I got a VIP entry into the following day and decided to have another go. They are that much fun! It had rained and 10,000+ ppl came through on day one and the course was a mud version of a slip and slide! My Brooks Pure Grit are amazing but nothing stopped people from sliding all over the place! 

Again the fired up freaks of OCR took the start out fast and again I just let them but this time I dialed it back. At the 2k mark it was down to me and 2 others then we hit the first barbwire section and I really crushed it. Mostly because I don’t mind barbwire ripping up my head and back I think. I have issues 🙂 

By half way through I was in the lead by 30 seconds with two more barbwire sections where my lead continued to grow. By the end I knew I would win if I didn’t mess up which is easier said that done as there are balance beams to cross, a series of rings to go hand to hand too and the 15 foot skate board ramp run which was now all mud and slippery. Lucky for me I scored a pair of Warrior Pak gloves and my grip was improved which was key because I almost didn’t make it. 

At the top of the slide I lined up properly with the water and enjoyed the ride. Crossed the line and I had gone from 3rd to 2nd to 1st in the three races I did. Progress! 

4 races and a lot of training in 9 days. 

“I didn’t now yet what I knew when I was bleeding.” – Dax Riggs 

6 weeks ago I head to block island, 10 pounds over race weight, and having done no training and minimal exercise generally. I had taken up a pull up and core routine I did on the dog walks and ran home 3 times a week which was 5k each time and at some point I started mixing in upper body strength and conditioning with an eye at OCR. But Block Island and Memorial Day weekend marked the beginning of trying to build some real fitness. 

My top 5 at Spartan Worlds last fall gave me a free seasons pass and while originally I wanted to race the 4 events they hold in 9 days in early June I knew that wasn’t possible on a week of training. 

I truly dislike “fun” races because there is nothing fun about getting my ass kicked. I have too much pride and ego to show up to get crushed by people I normally compete with but with so little spartan and ocr experience I knew I needed to go to these and honestly they are fun, like visiting a play ground made by a sadist, and the quality of the event is good. Music, expo, give aways, and all the trappings of a major event and a great location on a local ski hill.

I set a new goal for myself: to make it through the obstacles. To my joy I cake walked through the course doing some of the things I had struggled with twice like the bucket carry. This built a ton of confidence going forward. I did miss the spear throw all 4 times but stayed there and threw them until I made it. Since then I also threw 50-100 spear tosses in training and feel good about my skills going forwards there. 

After three weeks of training and 4 of those events I was fitter, more confident, more experienced and able to get down to the business of getting lean and fast. 

All the time for that one time 

Sometimes you will be so sore you won’t be able to walk and you have to find a way to run. Sometimes you have to silent the screaming in you legs, and keep peddling. 

Sometimes you have to extinguish the burning in your lungs with the sweat from your face. 

Sometimes you have to jump into the water and swim, when your mind is a dark and black as the lake you are diving into. 

Sometimes you have to find one more rep when your legs tremble and your will cracks. 

You do this all for that one time. 

For that one time when you swam so effortlessly the water seemed to move you forward as you glided on top of it. 

For that one time when you felt so strong it was like you were riding without a chain.

For that one time when your feet felt like they were running on air. 

For That one time when you cross the line and you knew your own greatness. 

We train all the time for one time. 

Coffee Snob 1.3

Coffee Snob 1.3 
Time for my favorite topic and hobby again, drinking coffee! This coffee post is a bit different because it’s two different types of coffees people know less; Boston Common’s Decaf and their Espresso. 

DECAF

The first sounds like “why does it even matter, bro, it’s freaking decaf?” Except here is the thing, decaf allows for all the taste, joy and healthy benefits (loaded with anti-oxidants) of coffee without the jolt that some people can’t abide. For me I had Over Training Syndrome and my doctor suggested I try to not mask my insane fatigue with caffeine and that this would promote recovery and rest. But I missed, deeply, tragically and painfully missed the joy of a hot beverage on a cool morning. I love the ritual and warmth and the way it makes me poop. What? 

ESPRESSO 

The problem with many decaf coffees is that they use a process that leaves the coffee with chemicals that some folks don’t want. Not Boston Commons which uses a decaffeination process that water, not chemical based. The result is coffee that taste likes coffee and not toxins that may kill you. The flavor of the decaf was medium, like the straight line between all coffees. The mean of all beans. Exactly what you think of when you think of coffee taste, which is perfect for a decaf. 

It’s a common misconception that espresso is high caffeine. I suspect it’s the word itself that sounds fast and intense. Like its the “express” way to get caffeine into your brain. But the government says a serving of espresso has only 62mg of caffeine vs 150 for a small coffee and 300 go a medium Starbucks. This makes it the perfect beverage for those who want to keep caffeine levels down, like me. It’s also the most versatile of coffee choices. You can just have it as a “solo” or “shot.” You can also have it with a dap of steamed milk (or soy or almond milk” and it’s a macchiato or with a bit more milk and you have my fav the cortado. Add more and you get a cafe con letche or latte. Add water and it’s an americano. Steam the water and serve with and Aussie accent and you get a flat white (all the hipster rage). See how fun this is??? 

But like coffee espresso has flavor. Some are bitter and strong tasting, a popular trait for costal American roasts. Others are smooth and rich; a more European taste. Boston Common is much more European like your sitting in a Spanish or Italian plaza. I suggest paring it with olives, fresh baked bread and bikes.

Tattooed swim protocol

A lot of people travel and can’t swim when on the road. Others need to build swim muscle strength. Others want something to mix in during the off season. Lastly, some of you punks (dear to me heart) get new tattoos and can’t swim for a few weeks. 

Either way you want this: 
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=19a2rRzH1kc

It’s my newest workout video for dry land strength training. 

Thanks to Team Continuum, Xterra wetsuits and Purefit Bars for this one! And Bobo for the edit and productions. 

Breaking the Awkward Silence 

“This is a gift but it comes with a price.” – FATM

The internet doesn’t fade. It just sits there. As today becomes yesterday and yesterday becomes last week, last month. As I sat, more like slumped on my sofa I could feel the awkwardness of this space (This blog). But I was too tired to say much. I was looking out into the world like as if I lived in a cave and the world was somehow happening in outside that started at the entrance. I wanted to get up and walk out, but the gravity of this sofa was more than I could manage. 
It was dark in here except for the glow of my lap top showing me my own web site that hasn’t changed in now months. Is this what death is like? Or maybe retirement (same thing to a pro athlete maybe?) 
Things got worse before they got better. Returning from Spain, I could tell this was the worst case of Over Training Syndrome I ever had. It took months. It took Acupuncture and a steady diet of maca root and aswagunda before I could manage a good walk. 
Ask me anything about Peaky Blinders, Game Of Thrones, or any of the countless Netflix shows I binged watched when I had planned to be training but don’t ask me about sports; that’s somethings I didn’t want to talk about doing. Yeah: it was DARK. Seriously now I know why non-athletes always seem depressed. Life without movement is depressing. Life without motivation and energy is depressing. Life without passion is, so, well, passionless. It’s obvious to say but profound to experience. When you hate what you love you only have hate and emptiness. 
So yeah. I feel better. I just finished up 10 days of training and loved every second of it. Maybe it’s a blessing to be able to do what you love enough to hate it and it feels like a curse. To live so fully it feels like death. I can’t say, because I was just born this way. It’s my sav-dharma (calling/lot-in-life). What made me great in October made me wrecked in March. Too many winter races. Too many schedule changes: Challenge AC cancelling it’s pro race extended my season 6 months longer than was planned. Too many temptations over the winter when I should have rested: but cross is boss, and Israman was “free” (cost to my body not included) and why WOULDN’T I run up the largest mountain in mainland Spain? It’s JUST ASKING FOR IT?!?!? 
Anyways. Starting over. Starting slowly. Danced with the over training devil and hard to wait for the song to stop. And June is a lovely time to be outside. 
My goals are long term. win the Spartan ultra beast World Championships in October. Crush Israman’s full distance in Jamuary. Defend a few titles along the way like Block Island Tri, and maybe win a few more too. But anyways, I just wanted to break the awkward silence.