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 Jessica Murden

Road to the Games: Week 1

It’s Tuesday night, March 15th.  Along with many other members from my home box at CrossFit ACT in Saddle Brook, NJ, I am scrambling for last minute registration to compete in the CrossFit Games Open Sectionals.  I finally register myself – for the second time; my first attempt at registering would not let me affiliate with my team.  Fail.  So now I’m registered.  I have my profile set up, complete with a picture of me deadlifting – a secret tactic used to intimidate my competitors.

Everyone at the box is now eagerly awaiting the announcement of the first WOD at 8pm.  We wait and wait and wait.  Nothing.  By 8:30 the site had crashed.  The CrossFit world was in an uproar.  I wouldn’t doubt that people lost sleep over refreshing their browser.  By the next morning, the workout is posted: as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of 30 double-unders and 15 power snatches (75lbs for men and 55lbs for women).

Upon hearing the WOD, I am psyched.  I love double-unders and power snatches – awesome, great start.  On Wednesday I watch the first people attempt the WOD.  It’s a sure sign that a workout is a destroyer when every single person collapses onto the ground when they’re done.  I watch person after person perform the workout all week.  I see each and every single one of them persevere through ten minutes of constant movement.  I observe the face of pain, hear the grunts as the weight grew heavier with each rep, and take in the intensity level that each athlete had minutes before the WOD.

By Sunday, it’s announced that the deadline for the first WOD will be extended a week since there were so many technical issues involved in the announcement of the first workout.  I think of this as a blessing in disguise; extra time to recover.  It seems like a great idea, except for the fact that anticipation is building up for over one week.  Fast forward to Saturday and I am ready to do the workout.

3, 2, 1, Go!  I start flipping the handles of the jump rope quickly.  I’m feeling good, confident in my double under skill.  I then move onto snatches.  I’m keeping a steady pace.  Sweet.  15 reps later I’m back to double-unders.  First attempt, I trip-up.  Second attempt, I trip-up.  I quickly realize that it is not going to be easy to pick my feet off the ground.  My legs are fatigued, but that’s no excuse.  In CrossFit, you push through the fatigue.  It’s that sense of suffering that draws us in; that walks the line between athlete and CrossFitter.  After 10 minutes, I find myself in the same position as my fellow teammates: on the ground.  It’s quite the humbling experience to be utterly and completely raw for just a few a minutes and have everyone around you know the same exact emotions and feelings.  Commradery at its best.

With week one complete, the CrossFit community is now able to see a worldwide ranking.  Tuesday night unveils the second workout for 2011.

by Harmony Heffron

image via whisperedbetweenwomen.tumblr.com

You’ve probably seen images of the 50′s workout craze that involved machines that wiggled and jiggled women skinny. A vibrating band was placed around the waist in order to shake the fat off. This craze turned out to be completely bogus. It was just wishful thinking to believe that vibrations could help the body lose excess fat. However a new, similar craze might actually have some merit.

According to the New York Times, researchers have found that after standing on a vibrating platform, performance in activities like jumping, weight lifting, and sprints improves.  Exactly why this works and what direction and degree of vibration should be used is still a mystery. Despite the unanswered questions, vibrating platforms are already being used in some gyms and to train athletes.

Is it worth seeking out a vibrating platform in your area? You may want to think twice, especially before investing in your own for home use. William J. Kraemer, a professor at the University of Connecticut, told the Times, “If you think of conditioning as a toolbox, there are lots of tools, but when  companies are selling something, they want to pretend that one tool does everything.” In the end, Spartans know that when it come to training nothing beats hard work and some sweat.

photo via runaddicts.net

by Anthony Adragna

Horrible news for people out there who like to have fun. For those people who do not normally exercise, doing physically strenuous activity could potentially stop your heart and kill you. The study also says that occasional sex could trigger the same response from your body.

The study was done by researchers in Boston and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. After reviewing the results from 14 similar studies, scientists concluded that normally sedentary people have anywhere from 4 to 100 times greater risk of having a heart attack every time they do strenuous exercise.

Researchers were quick to caution that the risk of having a heart attack at any particular moment is quite small, so the greater risks do not actually increase the risk that much. They also point out that regular activity nearly eradicates all increased risk.

The only conclusion we can make: everyone needs to exercise and have sex more often. Sound like something you can get behind (so to speak)?

Photo from RunAddicts.net

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!

photo by 30 Year Challenge

by Anthony Adragna

Scientists published a new study that claims daily physical exercise can help decrease the negative impact of a high-salt diet on blood pressure.  The consensus in the medical community is that people who eat diets high in sodium tend to have elevated blood pressure.

Dr. Jiang He was the co-head of the project at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. The study found that people who exercise more will minimize the impact of a high sodium diet because their blood pressure will not rise as dramatically. The study relied on participants from a rural area in China.

“It’s a little bit of a surprise,” Dr. Jiang told the US News & World Report. “But this is the first study to look at this particular association between physical activity and salt sensitivity and blood pressure. But after thinking it over it makes sense, because we already know that physical activity will reduce blood pressure.”

High blood pressure is the number one cause of strokes among Americans. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of salt a day. Scientists acknowledge that the study will need to be repeated for an American population, but believe the results will be similar. Of course, limiting one’s daily intake of salt just makes sense from a health standpoint.

Photo by 30 Year Challenge

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.