This past weekend I was out in the Bay Area visiting old friends, training a few people, workout out like crazy and enjoying the absolutely incredible California wilderness! here is a little rundown of the 5 days I spent out there:
Showed up mid morning on Wednesday, grabbed some food with CrossFit San Mateo's owner and head coach Brendon Mahony, then stocked up on some food, Courage Bar ingredients and soon enough hit the gym for a good workout. Thursday and Friday were much of the same, with Lindsey getting in Friday, and one of the toughest workouts I have ever done crushing me so badly that I am still feeling the effects of it as I write this post today! It was a descending ladder of rope climbs and DB squat clean to thrusters, and that damn rope climb beat me down like nobody's business! I took my time on the climbs as I knew my technique was not spotless and I wanted to conserve the grip strength. But, no matter what the approach, by the third round my grip was so far gone, I basically had to take almost a full minute to recover between each one to be able to get back up. The crazy part of this whole thing was that I never had the ability to cardiovascularly recover. i think I was so worked up by the whole thing that my heart rate just never came down. 19 and a half minutes later I finally finished, and it took me close to three hours ot actually feel like i was somewhat normal again! And to top it all off, I ripped my ankle up so much I was having a tough time walking! The one positive takeaway from the workout was my 345# back squat for 13 resp, AWESOME!
Anyways, Saturday morning brought even more fun. Core Foods owner Corey and his girl met up with me and Lindsey and we all got workouts in at the gym. Mine was a 5-workouts-within-one-hour mes that left me craving 10 pounds of meat and a 6-hour nap! But, we all geared up and drove down the Peninsula for a few hours of trekking though the woods! this turned out to be such a a blast. We explored the different paths, talked about all sorts of different things, interacted with a buck within 15 yards or so (so much fun to see wildlife that close up!) and stayed out there as the fog and darkness began to cover us completely.
We then wandered back to our cars and drove down to Half Moon Bay to see if we could find some camping at the beach. Seeing how it was the famous Pumpkin Festival weekend, the known camp-site was totally booked up; but, with a couple phone calls we were directed a couple miles south to Cameron's Pub. This was one of those placers that causes sensory overload with the amount of crummy, hoarded items they keep hanging on walls and tucked into corners. The place was like a haunted museum of beer cans and tin signs; and in the back, a huge field set aside for RV's and campers to hang out for a night or two (or weeks or months as it seemed some were doing). We found our way to the very far end of the field, just outside a spooky abandoned greenhouse and set up shop. Corey got a great fire going and we enjoyed flank steak, asparagus and grilled bananas before catching a few eukaryote songs at the pub and then crashing for the remainder of the night.
After meeting up up another friend Lisa (check out here awesome blog here) for breakfast, we connected with Justin Gubser and his buddies to hit the Pacifica surf for a couple hours. This was an all around blast! And the best part: our last wave had Lindsey and myself riding all the way to the beach, literally side by side, pretty freaking sweet! The cold water and the entertaining crashes and here-and-there wave catches worked our appetites up enough to feast at Guerrilla BBQ and it was off on our separate ways after that. Lindsey and I hot up our favorite burger joint, Roam Burger, in the city before catching our red eye back East. Man what a trip!
I must admit, it'd been a real long while since I've been able to just spend some good quality time with a small group of awesome people, and while I was a little bummed out that the Into The Wild weekend didn't take off like I had planned, and that a few people never showed up for the weekend that had said they would, it turned out to be a weekend I will never forget. Sharing that deep connection to the great outdoors with Lindsey and another couple;e that clearly appreciated being out there just as much as me was so energizing. It inspired the need to do this sort of thing WAY more often! Oh, and yet again, surfing is one of the most fun things to do in the world! Yet another reason to head back out to our second home-town on a regular basis!
Miss all my West Coaster already, but I'm excited to get back to training in The Garage with all my awesome athletes and friends here in the DC area! This is going to be a crazy brutal week of training for everyone, so let's all keep up the support and get after it!!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
This weekend ended up being a pretty fun one all around. Late Friday morning my dad and I packed up some things and we began what would end up being the drive from hell, up to New York City. On a good day, driving from MD to NYC takes about 4.5 hours. But this time around it took us a wonderfully pleasant 9 hours! Brutal! And to top things off, we were planning on meeting up with my brother and heading out to the Red Sox/Yankees game, but, the damn thing got rained out!
Oh well. We had a tasty dinner and chatted each other up while hanging out in Times Square (not something we generally do in NYC, but my did got a hotel there…crazy, and also highly entertaining). I ended up headed off to sleep around 1am, just to get up again at 3am to pack up a bag and head out to Staten Island for the Spartan Race. I was initially scheduled to run the race at 1pm, but opted to try out a special heat they were offering called the “Hurricane Heat”. It was something they did for their last race because of Hurricane Irene, and had such a fun time they thought it would be cool to offer it as a regular event for their races. It had plenty of kinks, but I think the whole plan was really to just get a ton of people together to run through the course before the actual race started, just to make sure everything was in order. I personally chose to do this so that I’d have the rest of the day to spend with my dad and bro, and also be able to meet the founders of the race and network a little.
Well, my honest opinion was that it was both good and bad. The bad part was my own fault because I could feel my competitive side kept creeping in. This heat really had nothing to do with racing, more to do with just getting though the thing as a huge group. Bright and early at 5:30am we all split into groups of around 20 people and get our warm up in. We quickly got to the understanding the creator of this race was a little nutso. Our warm up included a couple rounds of 30 burpees, 30 push ups, 30 jumping jacks, 30 hops, 30 squat jumps and on, and on, and on. We then limped over to the start, and with happy, excited shrieks and yells we all took off! About 20 feet later we were met with our first surprise: about 25 yards of knee-deep, icy cold water! If that warm up didn’t wake everyone up, this sure as hell did!
We made our way to the beach, over a few walls/hurdles, had ourselves another 60+ burpees and jumping jacks…ugh…then back around through the woods to our first REAL obstacle: 50 meters or so of a mud crawl, under legit barbed wire. I found the trick to get through this was to stiffen up the whole body and just slide through the crazy deep mud and water. I totally got sliced up a couple times from the wire, but that’s the fun of it all! After people got through the mud, we all hung to re-group, and, did a crap-load more burpees!
Just to make the post a little easier, I would guesstimate that I got in well over 200 burpees on the day…
Things went slowly but smoothly through the woods and over a few more obstacles for the next hour or so until we got to the three high walls, the water and fire, and the super high cargo net. A few of our group blasted through them all, then waited at the end for the group. This was when I younger guy and myself saw a girl who was in our group but was waaay behind beginning to approach the first wall. We decide to head back and help her through the mess. It was fun to get through the obstacles again, and also fun to be able to hang back and help out a good collection of people get over those walls! Then it was off to the woods for a long stretch of trail running. The younger guy and myself hung back with this girl through the trials until we got to our creek/river portion and to the one portion of the course that actually got my heart racing a little. A 30-meter tunnel under a road that we all had to crawl through. It was dark, tiny, insanely muddy and the fact that we heard there were tons of rats in there the day before made it a little gross…
After we got through that fun, the younger guy and I decided it was high time to see if we could catch up with the group. So, we sprinted! About 10 minutes later we got to the front of the whole ordeal and I took off with about 4 other dudes to just keep on moving through the rest of the course. While it was an absolute blast to get rolling at a faster pace, being up in the front forced us to wait for the rest of the group at each obstacle. Generally not a problem at all, expect that we had to do burpees and jumping jacks until the whole group got together! Yeah, maybe it was more along the lines of 300+…
Anyways, there was plenty of mud, water, sand, and trails. I would say that if you are a good trail runner, you’d probably tear these things up. I personally feel as though I’d do somewhat well competing in one of these things, and if they made the challenges longer lasting (like running a long portion of the race with cinder blocks rather than just a little sprint with them) I would fair even better. But, in my honest opinion, I think the obstacles were a little too quick and easy enough to really hinder a good runner from winning these things on a regular basis. But, then again, I didn’t actually do the race, and it could be set up a little differently for them! In the end, I had a blast, met a few really awesome people, got nasty muddy and scraped up in the great outdoors, and was back in the city with the fam by 10:30am. Not too bad! I will totally be doing a few more of these races at some point over the next few years as they are right up my alley! And, I hope to go ahead and get that Death Race under my belt at some point!
So, the rest of the day was spent wandering the city with my dad and brother and doing our thing! It was fun, except fro when we thought it would be a good idea to get Captain America to watch at our hotel room…bad movie…
If you’ve never gone out to do one of these crazy races, I highly recommend checking one of them out. There’s the Warrior Dash, there’s the Tough Mudder, the Spartan Race series, the Urbanathalon, the Muddy Buddy and so on! There are so many of these things out there that it’s super easy to sign up and have some fun. In fact, there’s a really cool one coming up in a few weeks out in Northern California called Into The Wild! Yeah, you should totally go check that awesome thing out stat!!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Well folks, REGISTRATION IS UP AND RUNNING which makes this event officially ON! So, along with that I wanted to post up a bunch more info for everyone, hopefully answering as many questions as I can. Of course, if you have any other questions, please do ask!
The entire weekend will be $350. This includes:
· Detailed fitness instruction from two world-class coaches, Josh Courage and Brendon Mahony
· Presentation/seminar from Core Foods founder Corey Rennell
· Information packet with notes and resources for everything you will learn all weekend
· Three local, organic, very high quality meals from food picked up at a local farm and prepared on site
· An entertaining evening on the beach!
· Surfing instruction from one of Pacifica’s longest running surfing schools
· A bad ass t-shirt!
· And a few other surprises…
As this is the first event like this I will have put on, I have decided to let people pick and choose how much of this they want to attend. If you want the whole weekend, sweet! But if you only want to camp and surf, or just camp, or just workout in the woods, you can do that as well. All of these options are up on the registration site, so, sign up for what you’d like!
Two events - $275
One event - $150
What I cannot stress enough is that whatever you sign up for, you will not be able to change. I am working tirelessly to make sure we have the proper mount of food and gear for everyone coming. So, if you sign up for just the woods training but then decide you really want to join the camping, it will NOT be allowed (as much as I wish I could allow anyone and everyone do whatever they want!). Also, I cannot offer any refunds.
I am working right now on getting a spot for people to crash on Friday night if people want to travel to Norcal for this event. No matter what, if you plan to travel to this thing, let me know and I will offer either good hotels to stay at, or contacts for people who will lend you a couch for the night!
Meet up will be at San Mateo Team Elite in downtown San Mateo at 11am on Saturday morning. We will all get together there, go over the itinerary for the weekend, pack up all the gear and head out around noon o’ clock for the woods!
This is a fitness adventure, so you can expect to work your butt off the entire weekend. Of course we will have plenty of rest and down time, but if you feel your fitness level is extremely low, this may not be the thing for you. That being said, it is not only for super-athletes as well. Everything we will do all weekend will be doable for anyone with a base level of fitness. We are not weight lifting, we are learning to move in nature. You will learn how to run, walk, crawl, climb, throw, and on and on. You can expect to get out of breath, sweaty and most likely very dirty. And, I will pretty much guarantee that you’ll be smiling most of the time.
The first portion of Into The Wild will be in the woods. We will learn how to move fluidly though trails, over rocks and stumps, around trees and through water. We’ll learn how to climb trees, boulders and hills, we’ll learn how to use what can be found out there to your advantage in movement and in training (who needs barbells when you have massive branches!?!) . The second portion of the Woods will be a friendly, but I am sure highly competitive Throwdown/competition. I’ll put together a multi-workout challenge that everyone will take place in, and winners will get some extra goodies!
From there we will all pack up and begin a relatively less intense hike through the woods to get to our next location.
Our next workout will be Portion Three of the adventure (Portion Two is just camping and will be talked about below). We will wake up and everyone will be led on an early morning beach workout. You can expect to run a lot and do all sorts of fun crazy things in the sand! Again, the nature of these workouts will allow all to be a part of it, no matter what your fitness level. It’s not going to be a run for distance; there will be nomonotonous activities this weekend!!
The final “workout” will take place after breakfast when we all head to the ocean for a couple hours of surfing. I put this in quotations because there won’t really be any form of structured workout, it’ll just be getting out and learning to catch waves. For anyone who has done this before (and I’ve only don’t it once…) this is sneaky tiring, so, expect to work up an appetite!
After our Throwdown/Competition in the woods, we’ll hike on down to the beach for a chilled out night. We will cook our awesome food together over an open flame (details on that below), tell stories, sing some songs, and I am sure there will be a collection of “skills” being shown off throughout the evening. Handstand, rolls, flips and so on.
I highly recommend everyone sleeps under the stars for this one, but we will have a few tents for people to crash in, and some tarps set up as well. You will be more than welcome to bring your own camping gear if you’d like, as we will only be supplying a very base amount of gear for people. A full list of what will be supplied and what you might want to bring will be coming in a few days.
The idea for the evening will be to chill, enjoy each other’s company and just have a good time in the California air! While we are not supplying any alcohol at all (we’ll have plenty of water for people) I am not opposed to people bringing along a drink or two. We’ll have a couple large coolers at the start of the whole thing where people can put food and drinks they want to bring along. Of course, if you plan to bring a drink, you should expect to share with others! So yeah, anyone who knows a good local vineyard or something, get the hook up and bring it along! Just remember, we’ll be waking up pretty early to run around the beach, so keep it toned down if you know what I mean!
Yours truly of course will be leading this whole thing, and if you want my credentials, just ask away (or check out the About section of this website). All I’ll share with you about me here is that I basically spent as much time as physically possible outside and have established a pretty close relationship and understanding with the great outdoors. It’s my goal in general to inspire as many people as possible to utilize nature to their advantage to become healthier, fitter and happier, so, this adventure is just about the most perfect thing I could ever imagine!
Brendon Mahony is basically a running genius. The dude has run at the highest of levels and still competes at high levels today. I have learned a ton from him and am proud to have him as a friend and fitness consultant in my life. He also owns and runs San Mateo Team Elite (formally CrossFit San Mateo). He’ll be helping out all weekend, and will be giving everyone a crash course in advanced trail running!
Corey Rennell is the owner of Core Foods, hands down the BEST meal bar in the market I have ever found (and believe me, I have searched like crazy). Everyone will get the pleasure of feasting on his creation throughout the weekend, but you’ll also be getting a little something extra. In the process of getting his company up and running, Corey traveled around the globe learning nutrition from tribes and indigenous people who have been eating their way for hundreds, if not thousands of years. He’ll be sharing what he’s learned with everyone! The information this guy has in his brain is invaluable. So pumped for this!
Pacifica Surf School is owned and operated by a family that I am so proud to know. I met the Gubsers when I began to train Justin, and beast of a football and baseball player looking to tear it up next year in college after a hugely successful High School career. It took way too long, but eventually I went out with him and got my very first surfing lesson. I can’t say much more than: it freaking rocked! You all will be in such good hands out there. Whether you’re an avid surfer, or have never touched a board, it’s going to be crazy fun!
I am working right now to secure the perfect farm(s) to get all the food we’ll be eating from. We’ll be feasting on the highest quality meats, veggies and fruit; along with Core Bar, Courage Bars and plenty of liquids. While this is not a “Paleo”-specific weekend by any means, you can expect the majority of the food supplied to be as follows:
· Red meat
· Chicken and/or turkey
· Core Bars
· Courage Bars
If you have any specific concerns for food, please let me know ASAP. If you sign up for the whole weekend, you will be getting three LARGE meals. Trust me, I will not let anyone go hungry here! That being said, if you feel like you want to bring more, perhaps you have an awesome dish you really think should be enjoyed by everyone, please bring it! And a mentioned before, if you want drinks other than water, you’ll have to bring it yourself. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be getting an email with details about the food and gear. Basically you’ll receive what can best be described as a menu and you’ll be asked to let me know what you want so that I can purchase the right amounts of everything.
As only I do, you can expect the weekend will be filled with all sorts of extra little tidbits (think, random challenges thrown at everyone without notice with fun little rewards, one-on-one throwdown challenges and so on. Be prepared for anything at any time!). Again, a very comprehensive list of what will be supplied, along with a list of what you should bring will be coming in a few days or so. But the main thing to prepare for is that the whole concept is to connect with nature, I discourage bringing tons and tons of gear. But if you feel like you might need something in particular that is not on the list I supply, bring it to my attention and I’ll let you know what I think!
Right on everyone! That’s it for this one. Please let me know if you have any questions and/or concerns and of course, get yourself a spot NOW! If you know f anyone who might be interested in this, please do share it with them. The info is about to go out to a large amount of people in the Bay Area, and I fully expect all spots to be filled up pretty quickly, so get yours ASAP!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
After a new client came in for some work early Saturday morning, I hopped in the car with JP and we began our drive out to around Massanutten Mountain in the Shenandoah's for a bit of a camping trip. This was a great time with a group of really cool people and, despite a couple potential strange moments at the start, we all had an awesome time, even though it was such a short trip!
We paused at a Safeway in Fairfax, VA to meet up with an additional 10 people and stocked up on some extra food and such for the trip. This is where the strangeness began. For a trip that would turn out to be only about 17 total hours, we were sitting in that parking lot with enough gear for at LEAST a full week! No joke, here is a list of some of the stuff stuffed into the 5 cars:
2 x 8-person tents
4 x 2 person tents
A few other tents
1 full gas grill (yep, an actual gas grill)
3 large coolers filled with food
4-6 full shopping bags filled with food
1 fold-out table
A 2-stove gas stove
Um, a luger (like, the gun. Not only was it strange enough to bring a gun on a 1-night camping trip, but the fact that it was a luger was actually slightly frightening)
This is the short list. But after a bit of passive-aggressive conversation on what and what not to bring, we decided we would just bring it all (yep, 5 cars driving out to the woods...) and just get out there and set up. So, our organizer gathered us together and briefed us on the 2-hour drive ahead of us (Geez! We literally got a pre-written briefing on how we would all drive out to this location!)
So, all that aside, we hit the road, and immediately things started to loosen up. For those of you who have not driven out towards the Shanandoah's in Virginia, it is a breath-taking drive. JP and I talked and gazed at the scenery as we left the bustling city behind and disappeared into the dense forest and mountains. We set up camp about 100 yards of a gravel road in the mountains. The clearing was perfect and while most of the crew moved from another site we were thinking about using to this site, myself and another guy strung up a tarp and began clearing away some areas for our tents (almost forgot to mention, it was raining pretty hard at this point). Once the rest of the crew got there it began to clear up a little and we unpacked the mulitple car-loads of gear we had and set up our site before headed out, now in the wonderfully blazing sun light, for a hike down the path that split our site.
The rest of the trip was your basic camping experience: a long hike, a quick cool down in a near by creek (JP and I ran the 3.5 miles to it, making the cool down that much more rewarding), lots of grilled meat and snacks, and chilling by the camp fire until the wee hours of the night talking, singing songs and just chilling out. Then it was up bright and early for eggs and bacon and JP and I hit the road to get back to civilization in time for our scheduled doings (I had a double header I had to coach!).
A few moments stood out to me while out there this weekend. First, it was our little run down to the creek. Running in an area that is completely void of anything remotely human (besides the trail/path/road you are on), no houses, no cars, no planes, nothing, is an experience everyone should have at some point. When the only things you can hear are your feet, your breath and whatever nature has going on, you get overcome with a sense of security and peacefulness. It's awesome, it's exciting, and it's so calming. Second was a small walk I took, probably around midnight, out to a clearing that overlooked, well, everything it seemed. JP had walked out there and I went out to join him for a bit. While trudging down the thickly covered single-track, I decided to turn my light off for a little and just feel myself completely alone in the woods. The second the light went off I got scared. Not being able to see anything, and knowing there is basically endless mystery completely surrounding you is scary feeling. But after a few seconds that scared feeling dissipates as all your senses heighten. It is a natural high. Endorphins flood your body and you instantly recognize what it must have been like to be primal. For those handful of minutes before you snap your light back on and break the experience, it is just you and the rest of the world. Nothing in between. Just writing it gives me a little burst of energy! And third, it was the people. While it was a group that I generally would not go out of my way to hang out with (they were all from JP's church, and I am in no way an avid church goer) there is still something so wonderful about connecting with people like that. Even though it's in a totally different setting, and for totally different reasons, it feels very similar to when you are with a large group of people for a workout. The extreme aspect of the workout, and the for last night, the extreme aspect of being way out in the woods, adds a desire to connect with your fellow humans for comfort and to share in the experience. And while I do love being in the wilderness alone, AND, I do find it kind of sad that a group of people being out in the wilderness is considered an extreme in this day and age, I can not deny the warmth a group of good people brings you.
I look forward to many, many, yeah, many, many more wilderness excursions in the coming months!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
After a bit of tumbling and stretching out yesterday I decided to hit the wilderness for a little fun today. I packed a couple sandbags (52# each), a couple kettlebells (70# and 62#), a sledge hammer (10#) and a weight vest (20#). I didn't really know what I was going to do, or where I was even going for that matter, i just hit the road. I headed out into the mountain between the Bay and the Pacific and right at the ridge a hung a left, headed South and into the ever-thickening wild. About 15 miles in, I hung a right and disappeared down a super narrow, very winding road. Another 8 miles or so and I spotting a tiny tail head, so I pulled in.
I got out, walked around a little and found the perfect spot! Just to the side of the trail head there was a bit of a clearing that led to a ledge that just dropped off into the woods. I had about a 30 meter, insanely steep hill to another clearing amongst the redwoods, I had a huge fallen tree about face height, I had a massive redwood stump and tons of awesome scenery! So I began brainstorming a workout. [video below!]
All of a sudden I remembered that my good buddy Blair Morrison of AnywhereFit had challenged all his readers to design a storyline workout. Basically a workout that could replicate a real-life scenario. And just like that my imagination began to run wild! Here is my story!
I am a farmer (slash master warrior!) in the 17th century living in my humble home with my two small children (the two sandbags). All of a sudden in the distance I see the evil villain of the area and his army of bandits charging my land prepared to steal all my food and goods and take my children away for slavery. I act quickly (being the battle-master that I am) and transition my children and weapons to my hidden safe-house. I throw on my body armor (the 20# vest) and high-tail it!
Later on in the day I headed to the track with a handful CrossFit San Mateo athletes and did this little challenge:
100 air squats, 400 meter run, 75 air squats, 400 meter run, 50 air squats, 400 meter run, 25 air squats, 400 meter run.
I came in around 13:20 but I also was in the bathroom when the rest of the group started (Brednon said it was about 1.5 minutes or so before I actually got my start). Either way, it was a tough one but I feel as through it got my blood pumping perfectly. Now I plan plan to roll out and stretch a bit before ed and tomorrow it's time to hit Open Sectionals Workout #4 at Lalanne Fitness!
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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