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Spartan Beast – TriState, NJ 2019

Figured since it is now June, it is finally time to finish all these thoughts and get this thing published!!!!

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Nestled in the hills of Vernon, NJ resides Mountain Creek Resort; which is home to the Spartan Beast. From an elevation standpoint, this is the 2nd highest venue on the east coast, with Killington being the highest. This was my 2nd Beast venue that I had ever done back in 2018, and my third time racing here as we normally get to race here 2x per year (spring – Beast, fall – Super).

This has been a beautiful venue overall each time I have raced here, and I always look forward to it. This was my 3rd race of the year, as I have previously completed two sprints up to this point. Weather is one thing that always provides us with the unknown; so the social media posts become pretty hilarious leading up to this race. Clothing always comes down to a race day decision really – so traveling with variety prepares for anything – seems to help me!

I went pretty basic, knowing it would be in the mid-40’s for the race, but with the sun supposed to be out the temps would get up to the 50’s.

Gear:

  • Shoes: VJ XTRM’s
  • Solomon Gaiters
  • Socks: wicking Base layer and Darn Tuff Spartan socks
  • Lower Body: compression shorts under compression pants
  • Upper Body: 2018 Beast shirt, long sleeved compression top, LegendBorne jersey
  • Gloves: Fit-Four fingerless and Warrior Pak Gloves

It was a pretty hectic week leading up to this race: going through PT for the tendonitis in my right knee, volunteered with the build team on the 23rd, got my MRI back on the 25th on my bicep telling me I had a partial tear where the bicep attaches to the radius, and preparing for a big meeting on Sunday night for work – crazy!!! But I was looking forward to getting out there, seeing friends, and having an awesome time!!!

Race Day:

I chose an afternoon heat when I signed up for this race. I worked a bit later than I wanted to on Friday but got all my gear set and ready to go; studying the map and getting my strategy together. I had initially set a goal of 4hrs 30mins – since I completed the beast last year in 5hrs 4mins; but this would be entirely up to my knee. As a preventative measure I did wear my knee brace as well as an ankle brace (since I strained my ankle at Citi Field a couple weeks back).

I did not sleep well – which is pretty normal the evening before a race. My mind is always moving, so I find it hard to shut it down and go to sleep; or if/when I do fall asleep it is light. I got up early, ate, packed the car, and headed out. Ended up getting there too early – I misread my start time and thought I was off at 12:15pm but in actuality I was off at 1:15pm. Oh well, got some stuff at the merch tent; got an awesome parking spot right up near registration, and headed to the festival area to stretch out.

Before I knew it we were off. I was feeling good out the gate and was able to run for a bit, but my knee was a bit tight overall. The first 6mi went great overall – I completed all 12 obstacles encountered (first time getting Stairway to Sparta 2.0 and doing Helix) and was kinda happy to see that the dunk wall was closed due to the cold (plus those gusty winds). Normally I don’t like missing any obstacles but did not mind today, lol! I finished the first half of the race in just over 2hrs and on pace to hit my goal time!

The 2nd half of the race my knee really started getting tight; to the point I would run for a bit then I would have to walk. Had some struggles with a couple obstacles – missing the multi-rig, Spearman, and missed Beater (first time doing it and got 1/2 way). Lastly, I had nothing left for the rope climb at the end and only got 1/3 of the way up unfortunately. So, a total of 90 burpees and a penalty loop for the day – which is not bad, but not great and more than I had wanted. Finished the day at 5hrs and 22mins, and the course this year was much more difficult than last year.

I did have some wins though – I nailed Twister (the 3-section beast mode version) for the first time, rang the Olympus bell with muddy shoes – so I was pretty proud of these for sure. My lack of training and running could be felt in all honesty, but I have really been taking it slow to recover my knee and bicep. Getting that fire jump really meant a lot to me – this was a great test for my upcoming Ultra in Ohio in a few weeks.

One of the highlights of the race was to see so many friends out there on the course! I bumped into SGX Coach Jeremy Nicholson, Danny Cabrera, and Toni Ann Canora as they were out there doing the Ultra – congrats on earning that buckle!!! Saw Lisa CoCricchio and Fray Dtrick as I finished; and ran into my Canadian buddy Dorothy Leung! I even got to see Terra Blakely Jump that Fire and saw my good friend Sonja Shotts Lay in the merch tent as I was leaving the venue. Also ran into Ed Soja with his buckle; and Darnell Murrell getting his eat on after the race!!! Some awesome people here – they all inspire me and thankful to call them friends! #Aroo

VJ Shoes

When running the Spartan Tri-State Beast, you need a “beast of a shoe” to do so!!! After 13.95mi of varying terrain and over 6,000 total feet of elevation change, my VJ Shoes #XTRM’s lived up to the challenge and then some!!! I had zero slip instances, plenty of mud to navigate along with water, and they drained super quick!! This was the fattest I have Run in these gems, and my 2nd race in them!!! These shoes are phenomenal!!!! How do your feet Spartan?? #VJShoesUSA #TheBestGripOnThePlanet #VJShoesAmbassador

Recap & Final Thoughts

The Spartan build team did a fantastic job on the course and this is such an awesome venue as well! My only call out was the lack of water and volunteers on the back half of the course. I had a hydration pack so I was not affected really but I can only imagine some fellow Spartans running the beast and the ultra having some issues with this; and rightly so – this should not happen.

It has been a tough start to my 2019 race season due to injuries. I’ve really had to take it extremely slow from a training standpoint. This has affected me on a mental level as well – it is tough not being able to get the body to perform like you have in the past and doing what you know you are capable of. I will keep pressing forward though, close the opportunity gaps and maintain/improve upon the wins. I have a lot of facing in front of me and I am looking forward to the challenges!!! Until the next race, get after it out there!!!! See you all in Ohio!!!

Spartan Greek Peak 2019

Post Race Medal Shot at Greek Peak

As with most of us Northeast OCR racers, the Spartan Greek Peak Winter Sprint is the kickoff to the new year’s race season. After being cooped up all winter, I have really looked forward to this race over the last 2 years! This is also a litmus test-type race for me to really gauge how my “preseason” training has paid off, as well as a way to kick off the cobwebs to get back into the swing of things!

I signed up for this race at the end of 2018, so counting down the days can get you yearning so to speak, and I was really itching to get back out there. This year would be a bit different as well, since I was going to lead the SGX Guided Race; and what a way to really start the season off on a high note – I always get so much more out of these experiences!!! For me it is a way to give back to a sport that has provided so much for me; and I get to meet so many awesome Spartans along the way that truly inspire me! Seeing them complete an obstacle the first time, to get out of their comfort zone, and ultimately cross that finish line brings a smile to my face each and every time – and I am always thankful for this opportunity!!!

My initial plan was to head up on Friday night and stay with friends (Robert Ashcraft and Linda Worster) – bit it seemed car issues for both my wife and I earlier in the week would not allow this to happen. My car needed a new rear window and the wife’s car needed a new throttle – and of course both cars were ready to be picked up on Friday. So, I was able to leave a bit early from work on Friday – fought traffic to get my car; went home to grab the wife and kids; then back out to get here car – got me home after 7pm, so no trip that night.

Traveling to Cortland, NY

So bright and early on Saturday morning, I was off to Cortland, NY – leaving at 5:30am to make the 3.5hr trip. When I got up there, I met up with Robert and Linda, who were sharing a condo right across from the slopes; which was an awesome place! I got changed, got ready, and we walked over to the venue and we were super excited of course!

Robert Ashcraft, Linda Worster & myself

Standing on the deck looking at the mountain brought back great memories from 2018, when I ran this race with Lynn and Sonja, who unfortunately did not make the trek with me this year. Missed you both as always!!!

Our view from the condo deck!

I knew my way around this year, and the set up was essentially the same. So off to registration we went – and bumped into Michelle Meli, Lee Holmes, and finally got to meet Lasheen for the first time in person;who was also dressed as Deadpool which was awesome! After a few quick words, it was off to the merch tent, bag check, then over to the SGX Coaching Zone! Man I was getting excited!!!

Ran into Lasheen (aka DeadPool) on the course!

The SGX Coaching Zone is our new meeting place this year – a way for the coaches to speak to Spartans as well as conduct some competitions for rope climb, pull ups, and wall climbs – all of which are timed events with free races offered as the prizes!!! It was pretty cool to hang out for a while till we were ready to go. I also was able to check in with the Race Director and both emcees for SGX Guided Race announcements! As 11am pulled closer, my participants began to show up – and I had a total of 11 Spartans with me for the day; and I had some familiar faces as well as some new Spartans to meet!!!!

So after our introductions, we had a few laughs, had a pep talk, and got to our warm up! At 11:15am we were heading into the starting gate; and with the first wall obstacle completed we were on our way straight up the mountain! The initial start wave can be tough to navigate at first, and tough to keep everyone together – but we made it up the mountain and ran the course: talking, laughing, and coaching – it was a blast! We only lost 2 along the way, as they were a bit quicker than the rest of the group so they forged ahead right after we started.

Back Row: Terra, Ethan, Prateek, Linda, Rich, David, John. Front Row: Quoc, Robert A., myself, Dorothy, Alison

Personally, I have ran better – but I was concerned about my knee and how it would hold up. I have runner’s knee I believe, and injured it mid-February as I increased my weekly run mileage as I train for my upcoming Spartan Ultra in Ohio (June). Since that time I have been unable to run sadly – but overall the knee felt great during and after the race; and I did make sure to warm it up well! As for obstacles, I only missed the multi-rig (slipped off 1/3 of the way through) and the spear throw (I swear those ropes were short/tight) – so 60 burpees it was. Not quite the upper body obstacle completion I wanted, but things to continue to work on this year!!!! A special shout out to Dorothy Leung – she was in our group and ran a perfect race!!!! #SuperD killed it, and I was so proud of her awesome accomplishment!!!!

Ahhh….missed that spear throw….

It was such a beautiful day weather-wise as well; and I had field tested what I wanted to wear for the race as I trained in the weeks leading up to Greek Peak. A lot of people always ask me what to wear, and my best advice is to practice and tweak accordingly in the elements yourself – you never know what weather you will have on race day; so come prepared to adjust accordingly! Additionally, what works for me may not necessarily work for others! Here is what I went with:

  1. Spartan tech beanie
  2. UnderArmour light thermal top (base)
  3. Compression top
  4. LegendBorne jersey
  5. UnderArmour light thermal bottoms (base)
  6. Spartan compression pants
  7. Second Skin shorts
  8. Lightweight wicking socks (base)
  9. Waterproof socks
  10. VJ XTRM Shoes
  11. FitFour gloves
In the “Burpee Zone”

My newest additions were my VJ XTRM’s! I recently became an ambassador and was excited to try them out for the first time. These shoes did not disappoint in any way: great fit, some awesome traction in the snow and ice, and they kept my feet comfortable the entire race! Additionally, my toes/toe nails bruise and get discolored post race – but I had zero issues with these; and I would recommend them to anyone! Looking forward to trying them out at TriState at the end of April – should be a lot of mud and water to play in!!!!

My VJ XTRM’s and medal – post race

To be honest, I think I was a bit overdressed for the race. It was cold and in the upper 20’s lower 30’s at the beginning of the race, but as the sun was out it did warm up into the 40’s. There were a couple times where I did feel hot, but overall I was pretty comfortable throughout the race. The only time I got a bit chilled is when we stopped – but that was minimal in nature as well kept moving pretty well as a group overall!!!

We were able to run and finish as a group, which was pretty awesome! My Garmin noted is as doing 4.07mi and we finished in 2:22:10 with a 34min per mile pace. Not too bad overall! We did the fire jump as a group which was pretty cool – and Prateek and myself got tangled up after the jump and he slid under me as he landed and I ended up falling on him, lol! We had a good laugh after the fact as we slid down the hill!!!

Fire Jump & Finisher SGX Guided Run Pics

After the race we got our post race stuff (Fit Aid, banana, shirt, medal, etc) and recapped the race! We also exchanged info and started talking about running together in future races! A phenomenal group as I have stated – wonderful Spartan athletes who gritted out the day and crossed that finish line as a Team!!!! A couple of us headed to the lodge – grabbed a beer, and chilled out for a while! I even ran into SGX coach Scott Kunkel – and we had the opportunity to chat for a while; great times!!!

Post race with Scott, Dorothy, and Linda!

Robert, Linda, and I headed back to the condo, showered up, and made dinner – spaghetti and meatballs was on the agenda; and man did that hit the spot! It was so good, I did have seconds……lol!!! After dinner we headed to the Spartan 4-0 after party to see a couple people and to have a beer or two. So, we headed over to Hairy Tony’s for an hour or two then headed back to the condo. We chilled for a while then off to bed;it had been an awesome but long day! I stayed in the loft room, which was only accessible by a ladder on the wall – it was pretty cool!!!

A view from the room in the loft!

My parents had come to visit us back home, so the plan was to shove off by 6am the next morning so that I could visit with them before they left for home. When we woke up a couple things happened: it had snowed a couple inches and there was a time change; so that delayed me a bit overall. So Robert made us steak and eggs for breakfast, which again was delicious!! Packed up my stuff, cleaned the car off, said my thanks and goodbyes, and hit the road around 7am.

Driving conditions on Sunday am

Had a pretty scary moment on the way back just above Scranton, PA. I was traveling on I81 and the weather was rough, with slushy conditions on the road. I went to pass a small tour bus, and as I transitioned back into the right lane after passing him, the back of the car slid out and the car slid back and forth a few times as I pumped the brakes and got control of the car. I was actually almost completely sideways on the highway. At one point the bus was right up on me in my rear view mirror, and he almost hit me – it had all happened so fast. I thought for sure the car was going to flip – and I am fortunate to not have anything happen really; it was a pretty scary scenario that I have never been through before.

A pretty epic weekend overall with some awesome friends, Spartans, and getting the 2019 race season under way! Leading my 8th SGX Guided Race was pretty spectacular, we had so much fun and I really love to pay it forward! It was great seeing people I have not seen in a while, and making new friends as always! Spartan did a bang up job overall as well as the Greek Peak Resort – we could not have asked for anything better!!!

The Lehigh Valley Spartans were representing as well, but I only got to run into Danny at the monkey bars (on his fun lap)!!! It was an awesome time – and I look forward to next year already!!!

Lehigh Valley Spartans in action!!

I have a pretty full Spartan schedule set for 2019 – with at least 18 races planned and going for my 6x Trifecta!!! I have 3 trips set for Canada, and a bunch of new venues sprinkled into my favorite ones! Looks like I will have 7 more SGX Guided Races too – so looking forward to some awesome times this year!!! For those that made it this far reading this, thanks for following along!!! See you out there, keep pushing!!!

#Aroo #SpartanUp #SpartanReady #STFU #SpartanSGX #SpartanGreekPeak #VJShoesUSA #FitFourFam #LegendBorne #TrainHarderRaceEasier #BuckleUp2019 #LehighValleySpartans

To Pre-Season or to Off-Season…That is the Question

Where is your mind at once your race season ends? At the end of my 2017 race season I took a different mental approach to training after my last race – adopting a “pre-season” mindset as opposed to an “off-season” approach. For me, the off-season signifies the end of something which puts my mind on R&R. On the flip side, pre-season drives me mentally to start working harder for the upcoming season; and gets me in the right frame of mind!!! This past year (2018) I took that same stance but did a couple things differently; just to switch it up and try some new things. Ever adapting – that is how you improve!

My Spartan race season ended with the Sprint in South Carolina on 11/18, and I was ready to switch some things up and try some new things!!! Going from 5 races in 2017 to 17 races in 2018 (5x Trifecta) – that was a huge jump; and although I did well overall, I am going for even more races in 2019!!!

Rest & Recovery

This year I took the opportunity to take some time off. I did this for a couple reasons really. The first was to give my body a rest. It was a long season for me, running from March to November; and the body did need a break. After 17 Spartan races, a 10mi race, a half-marathon, a 15k trail race, a few 5k’s, and a ton of training – it was well deserved. This is something that I did not do the year before – and an opportunity to give the body a brief period to reset and relax. So no workouts from 11/15 through 12/1 (minus the beast and sprint in South Carolina) – and I took the opportunity to rest up; although I was literally going stir-crazy!!! Every time I opened FaceBook I would see my friends posting about their run or workout; so it was tough to stay away!!!

My Spartan 2018 Race Recap (Missing 1 Sprint)

The second reason was to clear my mind. Over the past couple years I have dramatically changed to a much more fitness-driven lifestyle; and it really takes a lot of will power, focus, and mental fortitude to eat, train, and coach my mind to do the right thing. I am continually thinking about how to maintain this lifestyle and push myself to do more or get better. Additionally, when you miss and fail obstacles – you are always thinking of ways to close those gaps so they can be overcome at the next race! So I used this time to relax a bit, enjoy some of the finer things in life, and just not “think” or spend so much time concentrating on my eating and fitness. Now I did not go overboard and kept myself in check – but overall I was more relaxed with myself; which I know was beneficial.

Training

The first change was my workouts in general. For most of 2018 my Coach was writing my workouts for me, but unfortunately the gym location I was at closed down in November, so I started writing or programming my own regiments. This is a new realm for me – I have always had the workouts provided, and no issues coaching and training others and myself on how to complete them effectively. I never really had a lot of opportunity to write them personally, but have the overall concept down pat. So I made some changes and got to it – focusing on some new exercises and target areas. Since I was having right knee issues (I will get into that later), my workouts really focused on upper body primarily.

Another facet of training is equipment. I used to be of the opinion that I would only run in nice weather – but since I started running Spartan races in all types of weather my perspective has changed. Now I try and train in all kinds of weather – especially rain, snow, and mud! These types of weather conditions allow me to try different clothes and shoes combinations – to find what works accordingly. I see a lot of people online asking about “what gear works” – but in my opinion nothing can replace you from training to help you prepare you for race days. What works for me may not work for you – I have learned that! Try new things, tweak accordingly, and train in those elements!!!!

Challenges / Events

I went all out with holiday challenges this year – I was really trying to push myself in the month of December to see what I could really get after and how I would react. The first one I did was the OCR Beast Challenge, which is a Hang Challenge for time. Essentially you complete a dead hang from a bar starting at 2 minutes and increase 0:10s each consecutive day; completing the final Hang the last day of the month with a final time of 6 minutes. This was my 2nd time completing this Challenge, and did much better this year with my back engagement and grip strength. I will tell you my callouses were glad to be done by the end of the challenge!!!!

OCR Beast Challenge 3

Another challenge I did was the Spartan Burpee Challenge. Basically you set a daily goal of burpees and complete then each day for the month of December. I had never done this challenge previously, but again wanted to see what I was made of. I set a goal of 200 burpees per day – with a total of 6,200 burpees. It was tough in the beginning for sure – regulating my breathing and my shoulders were two things I could recall overall (as opportunities). But the more I did the better and more efficient I was – and even ended up doing 250/Day the last 5 days and over 300 on the final day!!! I was able to surpass my goal and completed 6,400 Burpees during the month Of December!

Spartan Holiday Burpee Challenge

The final challenge in December I participated in was out of the Spartan 4-0 group: the 12 Days of Fit-mas; where you did a step approach or pyramid workout each day. So on day one you completed an exercise – the next day you completed an additional exercise followed by the one completed on the first day. So on day 12 you completed all 12 exercises. This was a ton of fun overall, with some great participation and encouragement from others doing the challenge. It also allowed me to try different variations of basic exercises, so I was able to get out of my comfort zone a bit to push myself.

12 Days of 4-0 Fitmas

In January I did a thing – and signed up for my first Spartan Ultra! This is a 30+ mile race with well over 60 obstacles! Never have I been so excited and freaked out at the same time, lol! This has been a goal of mine for some time now and had wanted to do NJ, but never pulled the trigger sadly. So Ohio became the focal point for June! Time to #BuckleUp baby!!! 💜💜

After taking the back half of November and December off from running, I got back into running (slowly) in January as I got ready to execute a training plan for running long distances in Feb. I had 9 runs in for almost 27mi, and could feel my right hamstring and knee getting tight near the end of the month – which was something reoccurring from earlier on in the year starting in West Virginia in August. It was nothing major really at the time – more like a dull ache or pain and some tightness; and I was able to work through it. As February came around, my run mileage started increasing about 2-4 miles per week; and on my last run on 2/16 I did 12mi and decided to cool it for a while and get checked out. I self diagnosed myself with runner’s knee – and a tight IT Band based on my research. Once my health insurance kicks in I will get a diagnosis – as well as continue to work on my running form (which is partially to blame along with my lack of pre-Run stretching).

My Shock Doctor Knee Brace

On 1/26/19 the Lehigh Valley Spartans had their 2nd Annual Indoor OCR event at SoldierFit. My second year attending and they stepped up the challenge this year with an awesome course and running it 2x! I like to use this as a training barometer to see successes and opportunities and love this team!!!! Run #1 was ok – but I missed the rings, the rope climb felt harder, and missed a couple sections of the rig. I did better on the 2nd run – but I slipped off the peg wall (at the end) and had issues with the rig again. I came in 15th overall (out of 20) with a combined time of 6min 25sec – which was 4mins slower than the guy that won it (he was on point)! It was such a blast with some awesome people!!!

2019 Lehigh Valley Spartans – Indoor OCR Event

February I was back in another run challenge with my crew, the Lehigh Valley Spartans. I managed 10 runs for 60miles, but had to bow out halfway through because of my knee. Even with a brace, there was too much discomfort on the outside of my knee to do any more.

Running at Washington’s Crossing

Food / Nutrition

I wanted to go through a bulking phase during my pre-season to add some muscle. In November I went from about 1,800 calories/day and weighing 175lbs – and upping my caloric intake to 2,800 calories/ day in February and weighing 183lbs. My carb intake was approx 400g per day; and man I ate a lot of chicken and rice!!! I definitely felt the weight gain and could be some of the reasons for my knee issues – as well as some shortcomings at the LVS indoor OCR event. I did not scan as I wanted to – I do have access to this, I just need to make it happen lol!!! I also started feeling lethargic and bloated as well – and it almost seemed like my energy levels were down although my workouts were great!

I am sure I added some needed muscle, but the distance running most likely hindered some bigger gains – but I am ok with that. I am always determined to make both worlds work in unison; but it this is not always easy. Currently I am cutting, back down to approx 2,000 calories/day, low carbs – higher fat/protein. So far down a couple pounds and I have a goal of getting back down to the higher 160’s which is my ideal racing weight I feel.

After Bulking Pictures

My 2019 season starts in the near future, and I cannot wait to get out there! First up is Greek Peak, a snow Sprint up in New York and it will be my 2nd year attending. Even better, I am leading the Spartan SGX Guided Tour – where I have the pleasure of leading up to 20 Spartans through the entire course, providing direction on obstacle and race completion!!! I am fortunate to have the ability to pay it forward, and really enjoy doing this!!!

Greek Peak 2018

My plans are to complete at least 18 Spartan races this year, and to chase my 6x Trifecta! I will be running with the Lehigh Valley Spartans, and will be incorporating some age group races this year as I transition out of the open waves! I think it is time to get a bit more competitive and make that jump out of my comfort zone to continue to improve! I also added my first Spartan Ultra as I noted above – and will be focusing hard on getting ready and practicing my “transition” as I train. I am also looking forward to some new locations this year – with 3 Canadien races booked as well as adding Fayetteville and Asheville this year along with my normal venues!

Some large goals for sure – but I am up for the challenge! I am looking forward to seeing Teammates, friends, and fellow Spartans out there on the course! I am looking forward to forging new partnerships and friendships along the way; and pushing myself and others to new levels! You are stronger than you think – try new things and get out of your comfort zone!!! I am sure you will be surprised at what you can accomplish once you try!!!

Good luck, have fun, kick ass and I hope to see you out there!!!

#Aroo #SpartanUp #SpartanReady #SpartanSGX #STFU #SpartanUltra #BuckleUp2019 #VJShoesUSA #TheBestGripOnThePlanet #TrainHarderRaceEasier #FitFour #FitFourFam #LegendBorne #LehighValleySpartans

My Road to Spartan Greek Peak: OCR Off-Season Vs. Pre-Season

As I have written in the past, 2017 was really my first “serious” OCR season – my freshman year; with 5 Spartan races and 1 Terrain Race completed. Nearing the end of the season I could see the end was approaching, just like many other OCR addicts. As I rounded out the Tri-State Super back on 11/4/17, this saddening fact came to realization and I was essentially done for the year. My next Spartan race would not be for another 4 months – now what?

I remember reading a post in a Spartan FB group about how to get your head around this situation, which was something that I had never thought about previously. Essentially there were two camps of thought – “off-season” vs. “pre-season.”

By definition, off-season is defined as: “A time of year when a particular activity, typically a sport, is not engaged in.” On the flip side you have pre-season defined as: “The period of time before the regular season.”

So for me they both made sense, but I wanted to go with best the mental mode to push me to achieve my goals in 2018 – which is a 3x Spartan Trifecta and some various other runs sprinkled in. I knew in order for me to really hit these challenging goals that I would really have to push outside of my comfort zone, train hard, and eat clean to make it through.

Inevitably, I went with the latter – and mentally viewed this time as my Spartan “Pre-Season” and got to work! For me this is where it begins – in my mind!!!!

 

The Game Plan – Food

I work at 3DFitness and I have a fortunate opportunity to work with my Coach, who assists/mentors me with both my food and training regiments. The workout aspect was typically the easiest facet for me – getting the right food and macros was always the challenging piece for me. We worked on upping up my caloric intake in strides to put on muscle, and for most of the winter I went from about 1,900 calories (August) to about 3,000 calories (January); dialed into carbs, protein, and fat intakes. At one point, my carbs were up to 450 grams per day – which are a lot of carbs to fill – trust me!!!

Weight wise, I packed on 17lbs since August – topping out at 188lbs at my heaviest. My body fat went up as well about 3%, and skeletal muscle mass improved 2.5lbs which is a huge win in my eyes! The last several weeks we have been scaling back, and I am already down 8lbs – and a pretty aggressive goal of 20lbs more to go!!! Below are my InBody scan results for the last few months (I did not scan in January unfortunately, which was my heaviest).

Roadblocks & Injuries

I was able to remain injury free last year until the end of the OCR season. It really started in Killington, where I sprained my left ankle following my son Zachary as he completed his first Spartan Kids Race. It made for an interesting Sprint about an hour later, but I made it through.

Since that weekend, I could not do a lot of running or leg work for a few weeks, which placed me behind in my training for the Rocky Run (which is a 5k followed by a 10mi Run – essentially a half marathon and named the Italian Stallion Challenge!).

The race was held on 11/11/17 – and I was pretty limited in my training mileage, but managed to get some jogging and light runs in – but nowhere near where I wanted to. On race day, I did the 5k with no sweat, but when I hit the 8mi mark during the second leg (11mi in of the 13.1mi), I could feel the legs cramping up as well as some pain on the outside of my foot. I finished in just over 2hrs total for both combined, well off my goal of and hour and 45 mins. This was also the most I have ever ran at one time!!!

My foot hurt so bad the next day, I did head to the doctor for X-rays, which came back negative. So I either pulled a muscle, tendon, or just bruised myself somehow in the mix. Chalk this one up to inexperience and me trying to push through it all – it is times like these I need to stop and listen to the body!

From here the problems went upwards to my shoulders, and I started having issues on my left side. This happened on Jan 1st, the day I got home from vacation from Vermont – and the day before I left for Nicaragua. I think it was a combination of training and shoveling snow. My shoulder hurt so bad, I had trouble lifting my arm – painful to even put on a coat or shirt when I lifted the arm. I rested it for a couple days, and started training again – only to get the same pain back. Arnicare Cream was one of my daily staples, and it helped me heal up; but I still have some minor issues now an again with it. I continue to monitor and listen to the body, which helps dictate my course of training!

Training

I did all kinds of stuff this year when it came to training. Typically I was working out with weights 3-4 time per week, concentrating on total body. Again, I am fortunate to have a Coach that assists me with this – and all my exercises are logged through an app – which allows me to keep track of my weights, gains, and setbacks. I really pushed myself as much as possible – a lot of the time working out by myself. When I did have a partner, it was awesome because I would push myself even more!

I also participated in the #OCRBeastChallenge – where I did times bar hangs each day for the whole month of December – a total of 108.5 minutes. This was a tough challenge overall, but I stuck to it and learned a lot – especially around proper form!

I took advantage of my family vacation in Smuggler’s Notch, VT to run the snow covered “hills,” as well as test some various clothes and equipment in preparation for Greek Peak. Temps were negative for most of the trip, but once I was out there and moving I felt great! This allowed me to really train in some more difficult conditions that I knew would assist me later on down the road; and I was appreciative of what I learned overall.

When I got back from my vacation in Nicaragua 🇳🇮 – I started hitting the local trails; and found a new place at High Rocks State Park that offered several trails and hills that I could run for practice. It is a nice area relatively close to home that I can utilize and get a heck of a workout. I tried to get over there about once a week for a trail run.

As far road running, I stepped up my mileage over the past couple months. I got involved in a couple Garmin challenges, and since I was lottery selected for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Broad Street Run for 2018, I downloaded a new training app called RunCoach that has provided me some different runs goals (time, intervals, recovery, tempo, etc). My favorite place to run is hands down Tyler State Park – some awesome trails and scenery, with plenty of options for hills and distance. This is where I love to do most of my runs!!!

My last event was at #SoldierFitPA – who hosted an OCR training event with the Lehigh Valley Spartans. I was really looking forward to this event to see where I “stood” and I had some big expectations for myself overall. My only concern was my shoulder – but I went in and made it happen. I did struggle on the rig – which was very upper body driven; falling off twice (once was a result of my gloves falling off). I also struggled with the wall climb; for some reason I just could not muster the strength to get up and over on the first time, but I got it on the 2nd attempt! Regardless of my last placement, I had a blast and know what I need to continue to work on!!!

Spartan Sprint: Greek Peak

Greek Peak could not get here fast enough in my mind, I was jonesing to get back out in swing of things – especially since I have big plans and goals for 2018.

I remember the night before – filled with last minute thoughts of what I needed to take, or not take; well maybe I should take this or that! With this being my first snow race, was not sure what I would want to go with when I got there. I had trained in several different things, but you never know until you get there! So I loaded up the car, wrapped up, and tried to get some sleep.

I did not have the best of sleep, but I did get in about 6.5hrs – pretty much an even split between light and deep sleep; I was restless! Got a bite to eat, grabbed a couple last things, and headed out the door to pick up Sonja & Lynn. When I walked outside I noticed I left the tailgate of the Equinox up all night – and my heart skipped a couple beats; I thought surely the car battery was dead. Thankfully that was not the case and it started right up, whew!

The road trip to Cortland, NY

It started snowing right before we got there, and man the excitement really set in; it was almost show time! We parked, got registered, hit the merch area, suited up, and made our way to the start line! #GoTime

In the registration line

Pretty soon we were in the starting gate – and we fist bumped each other, cheered with the rest of our wave, chanted “I am a Spartan” and “Aroo” and we were off!!!

Greek Peak ended up being my fastest Sprint ever – was doing great the first 2 miles and was running a clean race. Then I ran into a couple issues and missed 3 obstacles (Spear Man, Multi-Rig, and the Rope Climb) – so 90 Burpees it was. The Spear Man was low, made three rings into the rig when my grip slipped, and that damn rope was wet as hell and I could not lock my feet in – typically I hit this. Need to just train to complete this with no legs!!! It was a fun course – the elements were challenging, but rewarding overall!!!

🔥 jump – 4mi completed in 1:48:44

Once I finished, there was a bit of a backup to get pics and the finisher shirts. I remember a solid sheet of ice the whole way down the hill; and I almost bit it a couple times. Once I got my shirt, I dropped a couple things off at the car and “skated” back up the hill to the finish line to wait for Sonja and Lynn. I remember freezing and physically shivering – the wind had picked up and I was getting chilled to the bone for sure! When I finally saw them I was pretty excited – I waved my arms and yelled out to them; and got a great video of them crossing the fire jump!!! Greek Peak was in the books!!!

After the race, we changed clothes and headed back home. Made a stop at the Central City Bar & Grill with a bunch of fellow Spartans. The food was good, but our initial service was pretty poor – and the lady was rude to say the least. We still had some good laughs and fun!!!

So What’s Next?

Man, what a journey – twists, turns, ups and downs to get to this point!!! This is what it is all about though; taking the good with the bad – rising up to overcome obstacles that are presented to us! It’s all about your attitude and how you handle these situations – not only physically but mentally as well. You gotta control what you can control and let the rest roll off your back – and make sure you take the time to enjoy what is happening around you!!!

Like I mentioned earlier – big plans for this upcoming year. 3x Trifecta is part of that plan with a couple road runs in there along the way. Gonna work on my Spartan SGX certification at some point too, and keep honing my workouts to increase strength and muscle mass – and drop my fat percentage as well.

It is going to be a balancing act as always – finding the time to spend with the family, work during the day, Coach classes in the PM, train nights and weekends, work around the house, vacations, and race, lol! I am up for the challenge however; and look forward to making this journey with friends and family along the way! But just like one of my Spartan races, I will tackle each obstacle when the time arises!!! Can’t wait for the next adventure!!!! Until the next update – keep chasing down those goals out there; remember you are stronger than you think!!! #Aroo

Our Road To Spartan Trifecta

If you told me two years ago that I would be doing Spartan Races and achieving a Trifecta in 2017 – well I would have said you were crazy?!?!?!?

My life has changed drastically in this time frame: transforming myself from an overweight guy suffering from migraines to a fitness coach doing “crazy” things to push my limits, lol!

What started as some talk back in 2015 and then again in 2016 (this is when I got it by the OCR bug), a few of us considered the fact that this was something we should go after in 2017; after doing a Tough Mudder, a Terrain Race, and the Spartan Sprint at CBP!!! The proverbial seed had been planted…..

Since that time we never looked back. We worked out, we ate clean, we trained, we pushed our limits and boundaries, and then trained some more – as a Team we started to make our moves…..

Fast forward to July 2017 – we completed our first Spartan Super at Palmerton on 7/8/17! We had a beautiful day, which challenged us both physically and mentally – but in the end we managed through and completed it in 7hrs 46mins!!! Not the best time overall and knew we had some work to do with the Killington Beast looming in the near future…..We hooked up with Justin Scholl and the Lehigh Valley Spartans and started spending our Sunday mornings training on Blue Mountain in Palmerton – it was here that we started pushing those “mountain” legs to new levels knowing we had some relatively “large” hills in Vermont upcoming. We made new friends, shared best practices, talked shop and strategies, and had a blast!Out Team changed a bit during this transition, with Lynn deciding not to do the Beast (yet) due to personal reasons – and I know this was not an easy decision for her and we supported her fully, even though we were disappointed. Lynn is a competitor, a fighter, and she continued to train and decided to still make the trek with us as a Team. On the flip side we picked up Lora and added her into the mix; who practically did a portion of the Super, and was a great addition to our Team of 5 now!September arrived and we headed out to Vermont. I was the first to arrive before Dave, Jess, Lynn, and Lora – and I truly felt like I was not whole; like a piece of me was missing. That was soon rectified when they arrived, and it was game on! We had an awesome evening chilling out, and a great dinner as we talked about a little bit of everything. I remember going to bed full of adrenaline, and had trouble sleeping – I could not wait to get out there…..9/16/17 finally arrived, and I remember seeing Killington for the first time – so amazed by what it had in store for us, and knew it was going to be an awesome day deep inside. It was a foggy morning and as we pulled up the fog lifted – exposing the majestic scenery and the Beast of the East showed us what was waiting! We had come to “Punch A Mountain in the Face” – and we were hell bent on making it happen! We pushed hard the first couple miles knowing that we had to maintain a 30min mile average for the day just to ensure we did not get time hacked, and managed to get some reserve time in the bank! This was nothing like we had encountered before – but it was awesome! The Death March after mile #12 was my favorite by far, a one mile Ascent to the top of K1 with a 1,500ft elevation change to the top (just over 4,000ft)! I love those hills of Vermont, lol! We wrapped up the day with a series of obstacles, including a crazy bucket carry in the dark with many other Spartans with headlights a blazing! After 15mi and 9hrs and 36mins on the mountain, we crossed that fire jump with renewed energy – and knowing that this baby was history. We completed the Beast, where it all started, and we were damn proud of what we accomplished. The best part was yet to come however; Lynn happened to be at the finish line and gave us our hard earned medals – and it was a pretty emotional cap to an amazing day!But Killington was not done with me, and I guess I was not done with Killington either – thirsting for one more shot to conquer that mountain! Lynn spent Saturday volunteering as I previously mentioned, said she decided to do the Sprint on Sunday. Since we were staying in town till Monday morning, I signed 2 of my boys up for the Spartan Kids – and decided to join Lynn so she did not have to race alone (she really had to twist my arm!!!).

Working on about 4 hours of sleep (ugh!) we headed out early. Ethan ran first at 9am – doing a nice challenging 1mi course, and he had a blast! I got some great video with the GoPro which was awesome!Zach was up next, and the plan was to run with him as a shadow, and use my new GoPro that get some course video to journal his first race! He did awesome, and ran the entire 1/2mi course!It was all fine and dandy, but as I chased after him ducking into a wooded patch – and rolled my left ankle either on a root or a rock, was never saw it. All I heard and felt was a “pop” and then the pain set in. That burning sensation kicked in and I hobbled out. I keep shaking my head knowing I had a race and I hoped I could walk it off.Well, I was able to walk it off some, but I knew it was not 100% and I could see that it was swollen under my sock. I told Lynn I was still a go – figured I would give it a shot and see how it went; and would take it easy. A little more than 5 miles and 3hrs 55mins later we crossed the fire jump!We had a great day – incident free and we definitely had some fun! I was super proud of Lynn doing this Sprint, which was not easy in any way – we still were playing in Killington! Seeing Lynn complete this course made me realize all the improvements she had made since the Super at Palmerton. Her stamina and endurance were improved, her breathing heavy was minimal as she scaled those hills, and she tackled those obstacles and completed a good portion of them!!! It was exciting to see her smile when we crossed that finish, wow!One race left to go, with the hardest two under our belts we set our sights on the Spartan Sprint at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia! We knew it would be challenging, but we recruited a Team of 23+ people to join us in our plight. This was awesome because CBP was in our backyard and we were gonna bring it!Team Consolidated Awesome was a force to be reckoned with on 10/7/17 – there was no “I” today – just the “Team.” We had a range from a couple weathered vets and some first time racers; and our goal was to ensure everyone finished. We start as a Team, and we will finish as a Team!For me this race had multiple goals: 1) have my boys run and have fun, 2) assist the Team, 3) no injuries (or to re-injure my left ankle), and 4) earn that Trifecta! Additionally, this was my first ever Spartan race in 2016, so this was a special anniversary race for me as well as some others. So Ethan went first again, and successfully completed the 1mi course; which essentially was 2 times around the course. Zach went second doing the 1/2 mile course. Both boys did awesome; and they had a blast as always – fun! We got some great video and pictures, and I could not be more proud of my boys; they truly embody the Spartan spirit – it’s all about the Team!!!Now we turned to the “big” kids lol!! The Team all met at the A-Frame, and we talked and got caught up with each other. There was a lot of anticipation, adrenaline, and even some hesitation from a few – but we moved through it. We got everyone together near the start time, and Jess and I lead the Team in a warm up. We had a huge circle, everyone in their Consolidated Awesome shirts, and we made our presence known! Afterwards we did a Team pic and headed to the start line!It was a nice course again this year, and in my opinion better than LY! We had varying levels from everyone which was great – and I made it through myself with only one missed obstacle (that darn multi-rig, missed it by like 2ft)! I even hit the Spearman for the first time – I even hit is a 2nd time to get a video; so officially I am now 1 for 5 🤣!!!

I remember coming to the field for the last few obstacles. We hit the rope climb and I was able to ring the bell (excited for that). As I came down I saw Jess making her way up – so I turned on the GoPro to see her get after it! She pulled up and up – and was within striking distance when she paused….I could tell she was digging deep both mentally and physically, and with one more pull she rang that bell, wow! This was her first successful completion, and boy was she stoked – as we all were!

Many congrats and hugs followed, and we made our way over towards the Burpee zone – and all I heard was Team Consolidated Awesome being voiced over the PA and then I saw us up on the big screen – how cool was that?!?!? So then we all did burpees to help Gabby along, and helped her finish as a Team!We hit the last couple walls, went through the gladiators, and met up with the rest of the Team who were there waiting for us. The Spartan photographer was kind enough to take one last Team photo as again the PA was announcing us! We all crossed the finish line (all 24 of us), got our medals – and the rest is history!A for three of us (Dave, Jess, and myself), the Trifecta is complete, what a journey – what a ride! As for Lora, hers will be upcoming on November 4 in NJ at the Tri-State Super( and we will be there of course. As for Lynn, she is set to complete her Beast on the same day at the Carolina Beast! Wishing them both luck as they get it done!!!What can I say about these phenomenal athletes? My friends, they are like family! I have seen them grow before my eyes, getting stronger and more experienced with each race completed and obstacle achieved! We are individuals – each with our own strengths and opportunities; but at the end of the day we are a TEAM, a FAMILY! We compliment each other so many different ways, and there is nothing I would not do for any one of them and I know they would do the same for me! We celebrate the wins and extend a helping hand when we are low; and we keep pushing forward with each step! You four mean the world to me and I am fortunate to have you in my life during this journey, and I could not have done it without you, nor would I want to! ❤️As for behind the scenes, there is a lot going on as always; and I need to throw in some thanks here at this time. First to my family – my wife and kids, thanks for putting up with me and my training and travel; I am sure it can be tough!

Second my parents – my mom and dad have always supported me (and others) during the last two events at Killington and CBP. They are the ground control, the taxis, the meal preparers, and photographers – my mom took 550+ pics at CBP; wow! Thanks to my friends and my Consolidated Awesome Teammates – so many to name, you know who you are! You all mean the world to me, and inspire me to do more each and every day – thanks so much!

Thanks to #3DFitness and Coach Blair Baxter, I would not be where I am without your guidance. You have provided me with valuable tools to create a lasting foundation as I continue my lifestyle transformation; as well as a chance to Coach myself and help pay it forward to others, something that I enjoy dearly!!! I am sure I can be a tough case to Coach when my OCR and running activities counteract my goals, but you continue to help lead me regardless! I will always be grateful for what you have done for me, so thank you!!! So what’s next……there’s a lot on the plate of course! Short term goals and long term goals of course – they change, but I stay focused! As for 2018, I am looking for a 2x Trifecta with the Team, and I have one pass purchased and I will be training hard over the next couple months. Trying out some different venues is something I look forward to, as well as hitting some of my favorites like Palmerton, Killington, and CBP. I also want to do my first Ultra Beast – which essentially is 2 laps of a Beast race; pretty much a marathon on the mountain!

Endurance events interest me as well – and I got to wet that appetite this past year (The Grit Experiment), and I have a thirst for more! Even considering the Agoge – which I know will be tough. So we’ll see what the future has in store, and I can say that the support network and Team is in place. I look forward to others jumping in the mix with us; and I love seeing people grow and push their boundaries and limits as I have and will continue to do!

Best wishes to everyone making moves out there – remember you are all stronger than you think! Plan the work and work the plan – you got this!!!! #Aroo #SpartanUp #TrifectaTribe #Family #Focus #Trifecta #Killington #Palmerton #CitizensBankPark