by Johnny Waite, originally published on his blog, Living Myself to Death.

“I wonder how long before Joe realizes this is impossible, and changes the plan?”

That was my thought an hour into pushing a 200 pound tractor tire up the mountain. Sooner or later, I assumed, he would have to figure out that we had taken on a Sisyphean task. That just shows you how little I knew Joe Desena.  I had met Joe about 30 minutes earlier. I was in town for a training camp for this summer’s Spartan Death Race, having driven 10 hours with only these instructions: “Bring an axe, a maul, snowshoes, food and warm clothing to the General Store in Pittsfield for 8pm”.

A picture was snapped of the six of us setting out with the 200 pound tire, a 16 foot canoe, and a 38 pound brick. The only thing these three items had in common was that none of them served any purpose atop the mountain.  As we rolled the tire up the road, pulling the canoe and passing the brick around, a Supermoon rose overhead in the crisp Vermont night.

After leaving the road for a snowpacked trail, we were soon deep in the woods winding our way up a steep path. Two were pulling the canoe by rope, three were trying to roll the tire, and one was carrying the brick. If you have never carried a 38 pound brick up a slippery hill in the middle of the night, you may not fully appreciate the observation that it was the easiest job by an astonishing margin. The canoe was just straightforward hard work – lean in, plant your toes and climb while pulling the rope. The inevitable three steps forward one slide back was par for the course. The tire, though, was another matter altogether. Refusing to roll in the snow, it also constantly threatened to roll back down the hill – crushing us in its path. The only occasional break from the kneedeep snow was where the spring melt had washed sections of the trail out entirely, involving us slogging “upstream” through mud and numbing water. This was going to take all night.

I won’t attempt to get the chronology right for the next several hours but what I can say is that we did not stop. We ran down the mountain. We ran back up the mountain doing interval sprints carrying the brick overhead. We did 100 impromptu burpees on a wet section of ground (this was where I came very close to puking).  By now it was somewhere between 4am and 5am as we trudged back.  Closing my eyes back at the barn had never felt so good.  “Alright campers! Let’s get this day started!!  “What? DID I even get to sleep?? The answer was “NO”.  Putting our wet clothes back on seemed unnecessarily cruel. At least I had packed some dry socks.

Matt Sroka, our new guide for the day, struck out first, stopping every so often to make sure we would recognize the trail back should anyone get lost. Matt pointed out landmarks to remember as navigation points in June. And he didn’t stop smiling once. I believe this route took us about 4 miles to climb the 2000′ to the same peak. By the time we arrived it was full, glorious morning. Descending was a whole different experience – part running, part sliding.

We each grabbed one of the eight wheelbarrows and headed across the street to the gorgeous Amee Farm Lodge, to load up with wood to be split. Walk, load, walk, split, load, walk, stack, repeat, walk, load, walk, split, load, walk, stack, repeat…With the wood split and stacked (awesome practice for a novice like me), most of us headed up to the General Store for food.

As I drove home, sore and tired but very happy, I reflected on the most valuable lessons from my Death Race training camp. Here is the most important thing I learned…

Joe did NOT say: “Let’s see if we can get this tire to the top of the mountain”.

He said: “Let’s get this tire to the top of the mountain.”

There is all the difference in the world between those two statements.  He did not know if it would take two hours or two days. He just knew we were going to do it.

Take a look at where you can apply that in your own life. Where do you say “I am going to try to…” or “Let’s see if we can…”. Because that will be where you fail. You have already given yourself the “out”.

“Do or do not … there is no try.” –Yoda

-        John D. Waite

by Carrie Adams

photo via ncaa.com

The NCAA tournament this year has definitely lived up to its title of March Madness.  My favorite observation came from my running buddy and friend DanCamp who said, ‎26 = sum of the Final Four’s seed numbers.

I have a few friends so devastated by their beloved team loss, (i.e. actual crocodile tears at the unexpected KU loss) I felt I needed to provide an uplifting comfort food recipe for their woes.  Meatloaf is a common comfort food in my house.  I won’t play favorites now that my teams are out (Go VCU), I just want everyone to play well.  I like to make this with a side of whipped cauliflower I prepare in my food processor like I would mashed potatoes.  So throw the meatloaf together and enjoy a warm hearty meal watching the games!

NCAA Final Four Meatloaf Recipe

Ingredients:

1 lb extra lean ground turkey or ground tofu for you vegetarians out there

1 medium yellow onion

2 roma tomatoes

1 Red Pepper

1/4 cup chopped green pepper

1 egg white

2 cup rolled oats (for gluten free folks) or 2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup skim milk

1/4 cup (one containers) Organic Garden Vegetable Baby Food

1/4 cup carrot or sweet potato Organic Baby food

2 TBSP Chia Seeds

2 TBSP homemade clean ketchup

dash sea salt

dash pepper

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Process tomato, pepper, and onion until smooth.

3. Add all ingredients to bowl and mix well.

4 Place meat mixture into a baking dish with high sides. Pat mixture into a loaf.  Cover the top with homemade ketchup.  Cover dish with foil and place in preheated oven. Bake for about 50 minutes covered. Remove foil and bake until browned and center is completely cooked, 10 to 20 minutes.  Let set for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

by Carrie Adams

[See original post on Carrie's blog, www.keepingitclean.org and on www.clockblocking.com]

There is a silent pace killer out there.  It’s real and it’s plaguing races of all distances and disciplines across the globe systematically adding precious seconds to would-be PR’s around the world.  Until recently, this epidemic had no name… it just was this thing no one wanted to talk about but no one could continue to ignore. But, thankfully, now we have a term, a name for this problem and I will not stop until it has flooded the social consciousness and brought a much needed light to this topic.  And much like my disdain for Prefontaine style shorty-shorts on male distance runners, I am going to openly discuss this nameless killer…it’s nameless no more… it’s CLOCK BLOCKING.

What is Clock Blocking?
Clock blocking is when a person either deliberately or inadvertently disrupts another racers flow or stride causing their pace to slip and thus directly hurting another racer’s overall and/or average times for their respective event.

Disclaimer: Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a normal amount of positioning at the start of a race as runners take off and the pack thins over time.  This is normal, but there are “other” circumstances that constitute legit clock blocking during an event I’ll cover in more detail below.

Where did the term Clock Blocking come from?

Jim Collison and I cannot take credit for clock blocking itself, but we coined the phrase while doing a 16 mile run at a lake when we accidentally stepped in front of an approaching runner, our friend, Laura who was training for Boston forcing her off her path, out of her stride and probably taking a good 2 seconds off her training run time.  We were lucky it was just a training run, had this been the real deal we could have cost her the Boston qualification.  This is a game where seconds count and our mindless chatter about whether Fresca was better in its original form or with Black Cherry flavor could have had catastrophic, unforeseeable consequences on race day.  I pronounced Jim a “clock blocker” and thus, the term was born.

Who is a Clock Blocker?
I know what you are thinking… “I’m not a clock blocker.  I am fast.  I don’t do that.” au contraire mon frere. Unless you are the leader with a sizable margin (so if you are doing the math that’s ONE person per race) you could, in fact, most likely you are a clock blocker or occasionally engaging in clock blocking activities.

In fact, I suppose some of you have even engaged purposefully in the act of clock blocking to gain position or to try to prevent a pass (Elites, I’m sure regularly engage in this act, one example might be male elite athletes deliberately clock blocking female elites to avoid being “chicked” a topic recently brought to my attention which will be discussed in another post).  Bottom line: If there are runners behind you, you may be a clock blocker.


When is Clock Blocking a problem?

Clock blocking is always a problem.  We all have been behind the runner updating their Face Book status, tweeting their splits or rocking out to their headphones (and usually in events where they aren’t allowed) oblivious to the fact that they are in the center of the lane forcing runners to maneuver around them to the right or the left losing precious miliseconds and energy in the process.  Or the 10 mile pacers who routinely line up with the front packers who run sub seven minute miles forcing about 25% of the runners behind them to pass them within the first 1/2 mile.  Or the clique runners who chat three across, forming a veritable wall that may force you to slow first and then move around them as they chat about their newest running shoes that match their toe nail polish or the $100 racing visor they bought for the event and how their compression socks make their calves look thinner.

Is Clock Blocking ever okay?
I’ve never found myself in a scenario where deliberate clock blocking is reasonable, but I’ve never been racing for money.  I don’t get paid, and while I routinely finish high in the normal pack of runners, my deliberately slowing someone down isn’t going to change much and I don’t subscribe to that brand of douchery.  However, I imagine if you are an elite or a professional with money or major sponsorships on the line, this may be a necessary evil from time to time.

What can be done?

Pay attention for crying out loud!  Don’t start at the front if you run 10 minute miles.  Follow pacers. (Pacers are signs with numbers on them that indicate per minute mile pace, so an “8″ would mean the runners behind that sign run 8 minute or so miles.)  If there are no pacers, use shorty shorts as your compass.  If a dude is wearing shorty shorts, especially if his legs are also shaved, and you are not shaved or in shorties, and he’s standing next to you, move back about 10 rows of people.  He’s probably faster than you. The shorty shorts don’t make him cool, and more than staying out of his way, you don’t necessarily want to even associate with the shorty shorts crowd.  I’m not saying they are bad people, I’m just saying, “wear longer shorts, guys.  I don’t need to see all that business.”

If you are not going to run the race at all, and that’s totally cool – walking is rad – start in the back.  If you are a lone wolf runner rocking out to Run DMC or Journey, don’t run down the middle of the course unless it’s as wide as a four lane highway, and if you run socially with friends, adopt more of a Mighty Duck’s “Flying “V” formation” to avoid creating a wall of annoying denseness for the runners behind you.

If your adorable kids are holding a sign, or your friends or co-workers are screaming your name and you see them, by all means, wave like an idiot, but don’t stop or drastically slow.  Someone will run you over and then those adorable kids cheering for you will watch their mother or father get trampled.  No one wants that and they will need a lot of therapy.

If your race has a turnaround on a narrow course, run single file and to the right as the Speedy Mcspeedy’s start hurtling back in your direction. (Even if all you want to do is stick out a shoe and trip them since you haven’t reached mile 4 and they are blazing through 9 effortlessly.)  If you blow up at mile 17 and need to walk or puke or puke-while-walking.  Don’t stop abruptly, seizing your sides and put your head between your legs… slow down, move to the side and then throw up as much as you want uninterrupted.  If not, when we see you later, we’ll all remember and we’ll make fun of you and give you a nickname like Pukes-a-lot that will follow you to every event thereafter.


Why am I telling you this?

For new racers, old racers, oblivious racers and even my own temporarily slow self right now as I recover and get faster again, we need reminders, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek ones, that we are sharing a course with thousands of other runners at all skill levels and abilities and different race day goals.  Be mindful and respectful of that.  Most people just don’t know they even do it.  I mean, have you ever SEEN the start to an Ironman?

Does two seconds matter to me?  No.  Not even a little bit, especially right now as I train through some injuries, but there are times when it does.  Should two seconds count to most of us?  No.  Probably not a lot, but it’s not for me to decide what matters and what doesn’t.  Each event brings people together to run their race and courtesies we can extend one another as racers are always appreciated.  Clock blocking doesn’t have to happen…. you don’t have to be a clock blocker.  Let’s work together to bring an end to this debilitating epidemic and while we’re at it, let’s try to do something about the dudes rocking the shorty shorts…

Clock Blocking is flooding the social consciousness as we speak…. We have a website - http://www.clockblocking.com/.  Come tell your clock blocking tale on FB: The Clock Block on Facebook. I won’t stop until this is in a Nike commercial or a documentary.  Join me.

by Carrie Adams

I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants. – A. Whitney Brown

Johnny Waite, Death Racer 2011

I have dabbled in many different types of eating lifestyles: organic vegan, gluten-free, paleo, raw, and vegetarian.  My niche and the lifestyle that works best for me is Clean Eating, but I have seen benefits from a variety of eating habits for a lot of people in my life.

As a cook, I create recipes for dietary restrictions and lifestyles all the time.  One of my favorites is vegetarian.  Once perceived as “tree huggers,” vegetarians are emerging as a vast and differentiated consumer market.  Some notable vegetarian athletes may surprise you.  Joe Namath, famous NY Jets quarterback and arguably one of the greatest athletes to come out of the NFL, is a vegetarian.  Martina Navratilova, the tennis phenom, was a vegetarian for most of her career and it earned her 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 31 doubles titles.

Navratilova

Dave Scott, nicknamed simply “The Man,” holds the record for most Ironman World Championship victories (tied with Mark Allen), winning all six of them as a strict vegetarian.  He came out of retirement at age 40 just to prove he could and he took second. Carl Lewis, the track star went strictly VEGAN before the 1991 Worlds and said he ran the best meet of his life.  Not too shabby for the vegetarian community.

Dave Scott

Most recently, I met an aspiring Death Racer training for the upcoming Spartan/Peak Race in June in Vermont: Johnny Waite.  He’s a vegetarian and Crossfit enthusiast.  His training this last week in Vermont gave him perspective, a touch of confidence, and an overwhelming sense that he can’t possibly know what is in store for his first Death Race. He blogged about it here.  I told him I would pull something together that was vegetarian and protein-packed for his training and I’ll be keeping in touch with him as he trains for the event in Pittsfield June 24th.

Johnny Waite Black Bean Death Race Dinner (Vegetarian)

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup Pureed cauliflower

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic, and sauté until lightly browned.
  2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
  3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, add lime juice and pureed cauliflower and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

Original Post from Keeping it Clean can be found here.  http://carriea81.blogspot.com/2011/03/dinner-for-death-race-vegetarian.html

by Carrie Adams

Hey Spartan nation… I hear that Texas has the largest herd of whitetail deer so can the Texas Spartans run as fast?  Texas has a colorful history and Spartan Race is invading to find out just how crazy fast this race will be.  Just remember that rodeo is the state sport but it’s still illegal to graffiti someone else’s cow, so keep it clean this weekend.

In honor of today’s Texas Spartan race, I’ve concocted a delicious spicy smoothie inspired by “The Lone Star State”.  This one is going to be a doozy!  I mean, Jalapeno pepper jelly originated in Lake Jackson and was first marketed in 1978, so you KNOW we are going to put some of that in there. If you like it hot, come to Texas on Saturday and run with us!  See you on the trail!

Spicy Texas Spartan Smoothie

  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • Ice

Put all ingredients in a blender on chop, then pulse, until desired consistency.  Enjoy!

by Anthony Adragna

photo credit USA Today

This is one incredible story. Anthony Robles of Arizona State University became a national champion in 125-pound weight division. Oh, did I mention he was born with just one leg.

As a result of having one leg, Robles has an incredibly developed upper torso.  He finished this final season with a record of 36-0 and was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler. Immediately after he finished the tournament, he announced his retirement and said he would begin a career as a motivational speaker.

“My stomach started grumbling and I almost threw up before I went out on the mat. But it was definitely exciting, and once I actually stepped out there, it seemed like it was like just any other match. I just kind of switched into auto mode,” Robles told CBS.

Robles’ story shows us that physical challenges do not mean we cannot accomplish our goals. Sure, they make getting there more challenging, but tackling and beating those physical limitations make for an even sweeter reward in the end.

by Anthony Adragna

When training for an extreme challenge, you need to push yourself. Be careful, though, from doing so too hard. The consequences can be dire, as several recent examples from across the country have shown.

Last month we learned that 13 University of Iowa varsity football players were affected with rhabdomyolysis so severe that they were hospitalized. Rhabdomyolysis— or the degeneration of muscle— is extraordinarily rare, but the workouts these men participated in were not normal. Forced to squat 240 pounds 100 times, and doing so while being timed, the team pushed the men to perform at their athletic best. Apparently, though, such workouts were normal and Iowa had been doing similar routines for years.

A football fluke you say? Not so. Ultra-runner Dan Olmstead ended up with rhabdomyolysis around 18 months ago during the second half of 100-mile marathon.  His tissue disintegrated, ended up in his bloodstream and turned his urine into a coffee-color.

Some tips for avoiding rhabdomyolysis:

1.     Build up slowly, over time, for strength-building exercises

2.     Avoid overexertion in extreme heat

3.     Stay hydrated when performing strength exercises, preferably with sports drinks

4.     Go to the emergency room immediately if your urine changes color or if you have extreme swelling (or pain) in muscles

5.     Don’t stretch to help with pain (this can actually make it worse)

by Harmony Heffron

image via shapefit.com

Muscle cramps are probably a familiar ailment for most of you reading this blog. Working out hard can take its toll on your muscles and sometime relief is necessary.  Instead of reaching for aspirin or ibuprofen next time you have muscle cramps, try eating ginger . Ginger has been known to work as an anti-inflammatory for ages, and now new research also shows that it’s an effective cure for muscle cramps and pain.

This good news comes from researchers at the Georgia College and State University.  They found that daily ginger consumption eased exercise related muscle pain in 25% of the people that participated in their study. The study’s author, Chris Black, Ph. D, said, ”You could use ginger any place or time you’d normally take a pain-relieving med; the ginger is potentially just as good, if not better, than taking those kinds of things.”

The study tested the different effects of both raw and heated ginger. They found that ginger had the same effects on subjects regardless of its preparation. So, no matter how it’s prepared, ginger can be an effective way of treating your sore muscles after a hard day of living the Spartan life.

by Carrie Adams

[Check out the original post at Carrie's blog, keepingitclean.org.]

What’s the surprise?  That people want to do 100 miles on snow shoes!  I made this recipe for the guys doing the 100 mile snow shoe race in Pittsfield, VT a couple weeks back.   They needed something hearty and the quinoa gave them some added protein for their journey.  With just a few ingredients, it’s a perfect meal for a busy evening that may or may not include a 100 mile trek through the Vermont Mountains.

100 Mile Snowshoe Surprise

Ingredients:

  • 1 can organic cream of chicken soup (Can substitute cream of mushroom here)
  • 1 lb organic cooked chicken breasts cut into one inch cubes
  • 1 cup prepared quinoa (make according to package instructions)–Brown rice can also be used here
  • 1 bag frozen vegetables (I used the California blend of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower)
  • Sea Salt and Ground Black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Brown the chicken and cook the quinoa.  Add the frozen vegetables and cream of chicken soup and mix well.  Add Salt and pepper to taste.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.

by Carrie Adams

[Check out the original post on Carrie's blog, keepingitclean.org.]

As many of you know, I recently spent a few days in Pittsfield, VT assisting with the 100 mile, marathon, half marathon, and 10K snow shoe races and Winter Death Race put on by Peak Races.  The experience was amazing and it inspired so many recipes that I have to devote an entire series of posts to the people and town of Pittsfield!

Pittsfield is a picturesque town nestled in the mountains of Vermont.  The people there were more than gracious and accommodating to those who descended on them for the weekend.  Home of the infamous “Spartan Barn” and the now-legendary “Barn Beast” Jason Jaksetic, it’s a perfect place to train and a beautiful place to visit.

Spartan Barn

The barn itself is a meticulously restored and renovated space with a green house and living quarters on the top floor complete with wifi Internet access, bathrooms, and kitchen.  The main floor is an open and spacious dining hall space with a fireplace and large windows that give a panoramic view of the mountains and trails outside.

Literally steps outside the back door is 15 miles of mountain trails perfect for biking and hiking in the warmer temperatures and snow shoeing in the winter.  If all the mountain trails aren’t enough to keep you busy, a Bikram Yoga studio in “downtown” Pittsfield can keep you on track with your fitness.

Amee Farm would make a one-of-a-kind wedding and/or corporate event location.  Contact Amee Farm at www.ameefarm.com to learn more.

The general store, which also  serves as a restaurant, is where I spent a lot of time and it was one of my favorite features of Pittsfield.  Their delicious sandwiches were a daily staple for me.  The store was warm and inviting and full of nutritious and organic foods that made it easy for me to keep it clean while cooking for the racers and for myself.  While I was there, a chef was visiting and prepared some amazing seafood recipes including  scallops with orzo.  They also had a great wine cellar and pizza menu.

Pittsfield General Store

I am so grateful for the time I spent there and how hospitable the people were to me  and to the other race particpants and volunteers.  I look forward to seeing everyone again in the spring for the McNaughton ultra-event.  I’ll be doing the 30 miles, but there is a 100 miler, 150 miler and even a 200 mile trail run going on starting May 7th!  Email info@peackraces.com for more details.

Check back tomorrow for the recipes!