I wrote a guest blog post on MMA for SBR training here:
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.
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?
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.
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:
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.
“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.
“Lets do something stupid.”
SLB XI didn’t need anything to make it special. It was epic. The athletes, the rides, the weather, the whole experience was just perfect. I felt like SLB was finally turned over to itself. Communidad (community) was the word that kept passing through my mind. My affinity for everyone individually and collective is so high and so strong as the mix of old friend and new energy really has created something magical. Maybe it was BECAUSE of this that I wanted to do something special. It was like I wanted to honor and show respect to what I was experiencing. I didn’t need it for training. It was too long and hard to be useful. I didn’t need it for the experience, I had been up this mountain more times than I could count via bike. Honestly, as I started the 34k run from 2000 to 9000 feet I really had no good reason for why I was about to run up the largest mountain in mainland Spain which when the Tour of Spain dares to use it always proves to be the hardest climb of the tour.
As I got moving I noticed the first part is insanely steep at sections. I was having a really hard time keeping my heart rate down. I set a limit of 5 beat below my LT so I would have something left in the tank but honoring that limit would prove hard.
I also noticed my calfs were on fire. It’s one thing to run a hill; it’s different to run 45 minutes and not have a single step that isn’t up. At the hour mark I hit the quarry; 20+ grade and where Cadel Evans lost the tour of Spain. Today it was pura Paz (pure peace) I normally make it here in 40 minutes or faster so I did the math and realized this was gonna take 4 hours. After that is the spot I proposed to Christine at and I stopped and just took in the view and memories for a handful of seconds and water (see photo of my heart shaped feed zone). It’s just one of the most amazing spots on earth. It’s magic.
After that you hit the main road. It’s less step but the wind, altitude and cold start coming on as you are above the snow line. At this point the first people from the camp started catching me. I had taken off as soon as we got here to get a head start whilst build bikes dress and warm up. I had no bike 🙂 it was nice to see people again and Chris Langford gave me a bottle which was, like, totally the best thing ever. I chased down a Carboom gel and felt better for the next 5k.
Math gets surreal when doing something like this. Normally I might run 3-4 minutes per k. Now 5 min per k is flying and 6-7 minutes is happening. The next 12k went down well and we hit the ski station where the pro roadies stop. We don’t stop there and go another 9k to the military station.
This is where things got brutal. The thinning air was killing me. My high altitude tent is in storage (long story) and I was coming from true sea level. Running at 8000 feet was like breathing threw a straw while a grown man sat on my chest while trying to sprint. Walking in my lightweight Brooks Launch even felt heavy and put me into zone 3. A few running steps and my heart rate went to 180. I was over 3 hours in. I was above the tree line and wind was legit.
With 6k to do I came unglued. I had a hard time eating or drinking. I was shuffling and death marching. I looked like the walking dead. A few pro road cyclists came flying by me and they looked so fast and effortless, like birds using the wind. They made me hate myself. I was consumed with self hate, and curing myself for doing something so stupid. It got dark inside. But The top of the mountain was in front of me and I realized the shape of it is so iconic (see photo) Tattoo idea perhaps, I thought to myself. I have never gotten a tattoo of a training run before but this kind of deserves it.
As I finally crawled to the top I saw the athletes who beat me there. I crawled into the van that was already loaded with bike and mumbled “get me off this f(ck!ing mountain.” And with seconds we were on our way down. I was wrecked. We drove down and at the bottom I sipped Drip Drop, ate a Pure Fit Bar wrapped myself in my Champion System hoodie and track suit pants (baller) and tried to pretend I didn’t just destroy myself for a long time to come. But wow was it worth it. Looking back, I can’t stop shaking my head at how stupidly good that was.
SLB XI Camp 1 reflections
“Every tool is weapon if you hold it right.” – ani
SLB started 11 years ago because I was racing early and needed a warm place to train to work on my weakness: cycling. Spain was picked because it’s epic, and the Costa Del Sol area because it’s where much of the European pro roadies go to live and train this time of year. Lastly international travel is an adventure and how you grow as a person.
For the first time in a long time I didn’t have an early “A” race planned so I can into camp under trained and hoping to not over do it. That is impossible as I discovered. There is no easy way here. It’s big rides, climbs, swims, runs, core work and punishment. I am exhausted ; But I couldn’t be happier with the monster I gave birth too even as it devours me.
It would be easy to begrudge the pain. But the reality is even without this being a critical step to some race; it still holds all its value. For the first time in a long time; coming the camp and doing the camp was the ends in and of itself. I am here, to be here; and just be here this year (my big races are all later summer fall and next winter). This change in perspective and purpose has given me a new relationship to the experience. I have been able to just enjoy it; even as it shatters me physically (and enjoy the physical shattering even).
Finally after 11 years I can just look around undistracted by my own training goals and marvel at all the athletes encouraging each other. The breath taking views (Bc they make you climb 6000 feet to see them) and the local culture: the Alhambra, the Moorish baths, the Roman arches and the 900 year old churches. My legs are tired but my spirit is full and heart aches with gratitude at all the people that have come here and contributed to SLB and made it a truly special community. It’s magical, pure and simple.
Thank you to everyone who came last week. The way you pitched in, in both helping make the camp run well and with so much positivity was amazing. We love you.
I logged 4 international races last year including a few half way to the other side of the earth. Here are 5 key tips:
1) Use caffine wisely. Skip it to sleep on the plane. Get on the plane decafinated so you sleep. Use as much plane time as you can to sleep. Sleeping, even naps release healing chemicals into yur body that are critical to wellness. When you get off the plane only have caffine early in the morning, local time. This will help you adjust to the time change.
2) have a big ass water bottle. Fill it in the airports. Put it in your seat. Drink it. Bug the flight crew for extra drinks. They ration out the right amount based on non athletes. You need to perform better then most. Flying dehydrates you and being dehydrated will really wreck your performance. When you land drink a ton more water until your normal.
3) get on local time. To do this you need to give yourself a day per hour time change ideally. Your body won’t perform well if it feels like it’s 2am. Try to stay up until local bed time. If it’s bed time and you can’t sleep take meltonin which is what your body isn’t producing naturally because it doesnt know its bed time. Beware: this can make you groggy so don’t use it the night before the race!
4) plan the trip to be a fun vacation. See the sights! Get away from the race venue. Stay in other towns etc. this will keep your mind off the race and the stress of race nerves. Get into town 48 hours prior to deal with pre-race stuff but besides that skip hanging around the venue.
5) PACK PRO FIT BARS! You want a high protein bar because your not training and the high protieny k sugar ration will keep your sugar from spiking and crashing. Also you want foods that are easy to pack and travel with. Also produce isn’t gonna make it through customs. Having a healthy food stuff will prevent you from being forced to buy over priced and unhealthy newsstand airport “food”.
Photo: breakfast in Istanbul. Turkish Coffee in Turkey! Witj profit bars.
Coffee Snob 1.2
Got me some new coffees to review!First from Boston Common Coffee was the Guatemala Antigua Panchoy. The is named from the area it is grown which is the oldest coffee producing lands in the country. The coffee is a mix of fairly complex flavors but all are subtle enough to not really notice, rather it stirs into a single flavor that I found smooth and yummy. It seems to be comprised of nuance hints of spice, smoke, flowers and something sweet. But again it’s really subtle and nothing like a “flavored” coffee you might get from a chain.
The second coffee is the Congo Microlot. What’s a Microlot you ask? It’s a special and best area of a farm. So Boston Commons Coffee get the best of the best of this areas coffee and it pays off with a really great brew. It has a hint of something sweet like agave but also something tart. It’s got a touch more of a richness than the two others but I really love that because it gives a stronger darker brew. Or maybe I just brewed it stronger as I was training pretty hard at the time. Again it not a strong flavor, but you can sip it and feel like there is a complexity to it.
The last coffee was the Boston Common Holiday Blend. A true blend of different areas the key to this is the flavor it has. Carmel, fruitiness and chocolate make you feel like Will Farrell from Elf making it himself and saying to you “smiling is my favorite.” It’s the perfect start to the 12 days of Xmas or the 8 crazy nights of Hanukkah. It’s not sickly sweet like a chain dessert coffee
So it’s awesome in the morning but for a few weeks even the morning should have a taste of sweetness! Get some next year so you can wake up with some holiday spirit.
Get some at www.bostoncommoncoffee.com
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(Photo: me giving a one on one run form clinic last week with one of the Team Continuum athletes)