Tag Archives: Spartan Race

Blydawg Travels – Arizona Adventure

Out with the old, in with the new…

Every year we make these new year resolutions, sometimes we set goals that are totally unattainable, unrealistic, or that are just plain mainstream ideas. In 2015, I said I wanted to “Love Harder” and I feel like to an extent I did, I gave my heart away a couple of times and let myself get the feels.  Well that year ended with a dud, but fortune favors the bold, and fortune favored me when I was asked to get out of town and go on an adventure to Arizona. The main purpose of this adventure was to go on a Spartan Race, but we ended up creating an epic adventure, creating memories to last  lifetime.

symbolsSo our adventure begins with a flight into Phoenix, AZ.  Once we landed, we were starving so we called my old college buddy and good friend Kevin and we had breakfast at The Original Breakfast House.  OMG! All I can say is that this is a must stop! I had this French Toast/Chicken Fried Chicken dish and WOW!! Not to mention the cinnamon danish it was pretty awesome too!

After stuffing our faces, it was time to explore, we had a rental car and we did get to town rather early in the day, so we thought…what the heck, let’s go see London Bridge in Lake Havasu, AZ.  So off we went.

circle-lightbulbBut First! We had this bright idea…since we are so close to  the border of California and Arizona, why not go see Blythe, CA? Why not indeed!

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With a full tank of gas, cooler in hand, we headed that way. As you can see we found it, and we were also able to start our state sign collection together! It is with a huge sigh and disappointment I must admit that the metropolis of Blythe, CA is pretty disappointing.  If you blink you might miss the entire town.  I stopped at the PD station and they were closed. I couldn’t even show them my drivers license and try an get a PD patch. Oh well, maybe next time.

After our brief stop in Blythe, CA and our state sign pics, we took off for the London Bridge!

London Bridges falling down…

For years I have thought this would be a cool place to visit. Never really having the time or having been in that area, I was not sure this was ever going to happen.  However, with my new co-pilot in tow, we said “Let’s do it!” and off we went!

What a cool place! The bridge is a cool piece of history and it is unbelievable that someone took it apart half way across the world and reassembled here in the USA.  This bridge has been a part of Lake Havasu since October 10, 1971.

Lake Havasu was fun, we arrived to the bridge just in time to watch the sunset and get some awesome pictures. From there we were going to hit up the LH Harley Davidson store, but they closed before we got there…bummer, I guess I will have to get my poker chip another time.

After the sunset we ended up getting our carbs on over at Angelina’s Italian Restaurant.  Not a bad place to grab some grub. We had just spaghetti and meatballs but it sure hit the spot! After our meal we hot the trail back to Phoenix for the race the next day.

We are SPARTA!

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Sedona!

After Running the Spartan Race, we had a whole day to kill since our flight was not until late Sunday night. So why not head up to Sedona, AZ and hike! So we took off and headed up to Cathedral Rock. Hiked to the top and watched the sunset!

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We were told about this awesome burger place called the Haunted Hamburger in Jerome, AZ. So we headed up into the mountains in search of this place.

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So the rumor is that the restaurant is haunted from before it was a restaurant. Apparently the ghosts like “hammers” and some patron photos have captured a female ghost lurking in the background.  Did we see a ghost? No we did not, but I did have a great big bacon burger. The location was awesome and this is definitely worthy of a burger review!

Another adventure in the books, the first one with my new co-pilot Mother & Poet and I have to say this was one of the best times I have had. We were silly, goofy, and saw some really cool sights. By far one of the best race weekends I have ever had!

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The 7-P’s

Time to get right

Do you know what the 7 P’s are? Well I do and after running the Spartan Beast Glen Rose this past weekend, I realized some things and this was all I could think about. During the whole race, which was actually shortened due to flooding, all I could think about was writing this blog. Not so much to complain and bitch about how bad I did or the “whoa is me mentality” but to remind myself to not do this again. Never take injuries for granted and think you can just power on through them (mind over matter, sometimes is not wise) and I learned this lesson again.

Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Proper Planning and Preparation

I have no one to blame but myself. Basically if you stop running and sit on the couch, do not expect to have good results. My previous race before this, I actually did pretty well, Battlefrog Austin on 10/3, I felt good and redeemed myself from that disaster in Chicago. I finished top 10 and didn’t really think I was injured. But I have been having this nagging back problem since February and going to my chiro is what fixes it.  Well I was in pain a few days later and I decided to do nothing. I had also been experiencing what can only be described as a pulled muscle in my hamstring, which ran down behind my knee.  I also tweaked my groin or something in that area or maybe my labrum is acting up again, either way it has been painful at times. Of course my infinite wisdom told me to sit and rest and not do a thing. Well the week of the race I went and tried to get fixed 3-days before the race.

I also didn’t get in my flow of pre-race rituals. I didn’t get sleep, I didn’t hydrate on Friday and I didn’t get my pre-race meal right.  So basically noting seems to be in my favor driving down to the race.

Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Well piss poor performance is an understatement. This race sucked, I was in pain after about 5 miles in (10 mile race) and struggled to keep a pace, I walked some and my leg was bothering me a lot. I felt like I had absolutely no energy. I failed the spear throw and that pissed me off and then I failed the rig at the end. I was just so over this race, I was ready for it to be done, I never fail the rig, man that pissed me off.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t whine, I am sure my results were still pretty good to some people.  However, I hate it when I feel like I did bad and especially when I know there is more I can do to prevent it. So note to all of you out there, sometimes you can’t just show up and be your best. No matter how great you think you are, training and nutrition have to be on point.

Okay this is the end of my rant…I was disappointed, but this made me realize my injuries maybe more serious than I realized and I need to go get fixed.

How one month has changed my life

One Month, 4 States, 8 Races, 89 Miles, Life Changed Forever

I was going to write about all of my recent races in detail and I still may, but after this past race I had some time to reflect on what I just accomplished as I prepare to take some much needed time off from racing. So I started thinking and wow…I just did a lot of running, probably the most ever and I loved every minute of it!

So this journey of me all started on July 25th. Why is this important? Well it really isn’t except for the fact that I had not really been running. You see in May I rolled my ankle so bad, then attempted to still run on it, I had to do the smart thing and take the entire month of June off.  Sure I raced once in June and it was horrible. I started my rehab running on July 1st. To see where I was at, and knowing I felt like my conditioning was still off, I raced my first race on July 11th in PA.  I felt tired, but I did well all things considering. But afterwards, I feared I fractured my foot, took some time off and eventually went and had x-rays. They were negative so more rest for me.

As I am in rest mode I get an invitation to join a few friends at this Fossil Valley 6 hr trail night run. I originally went to cheer on my friends and spectate. But unfortunately that is not in my DNA.  I brought my gear “just in case” and the foot was feeling good so I went for it. This started a domino effect of what the next month was going to be like. Okay, here is a recap of the month that changed my life.

Race 1 – Fossil Valley 6-hour (26.9 Miles) 7/25/15

I already wrote in detail on this Race, but this one has to be the defining moment when I learned the most about myself. I discovered  can do anything, my mental toughness will get me through the physical pain my body endures. I ran for 6 hours, did 10 laps of a 2.69 mile course.  My first attempt at anything over 16 miles and no obstacles. This was such a challenge to run trails with a headlamp on in the summer Texas heat, in the middle of the night! I loved every minute of it.

Finish – 5th AG, 9th OA

Race 2 – Trinity 5000 5k (3.1 Miles) 8/6/15

I stumbled upon this 5k summer series purely by accident because it was across the river from the float the river night in Fort Worth. So I thought what the heck! It was 100* at 7:30pm when the race started and it was glorious! I was excited to see how my pace was on concrete. I have not run on the road race since January, and seldom train on the road. This was really my first run since the 6-hour too.

Finish – 1st AG, 20th OA

Race 3 – BattleFrog Pittsburgh (9.66 Miles) 8/8/15

Battlefrog has become one of my most loved/hated race series to date. I love it because it is so challenging and the mandatory obstacle completion actually give me a chance against the faster guys. I actually don’t hate it all, it just makes me the most nervous of any of the races I do. The DNF possibility is always there lingering in the background.

Pittsburgh was no joke! I mean I heard how great it was from the cave swim to the terrain. It did not disappoint at all! I crushed the first lap, took me 1:30 and only one repeat on the monkey bars. Feeling confident, running in the top ten, I had a mental and physical break down on the RIG. I spent an hour trying to get through it on lap two, then the rest of the race was cake.  I tried to make up some time on the runs, but the creek runs were brutal and I couldn’t make up the hour. Still I finished with my band. Mission Accomplished.

Finish – Masters Elite – 13th place Male, 13th OA

Race 4 – Spartan UltraBeast Hawaii (26.2 Miles) 8/15/15

I went to Hawaii to earn my Hawaiian Trifecta. Three races in two days…no problemo! Then an unexpected turn, peer pressure. Who would have thought at my age I would get peer pressure to run an UltraBeast? I mean I am not a distance guy, I don’t like distance, I like the shorter Sprint type courses, that is my thing! Nervous about the if you don’t complete it, you get nothing and worried about making the check points I was very concerned. But I threw caution to the wind and I went for it.

Running this race I definitely took my time, worked on a slow and steady pace, I knew I wanted to stay in the 15 minute mile running pace if possible. Well I was doing great, I finished the first lap of that tropical hell in 3:30. Half way done! I took a 15 min break, tried to eat PB&J but that was not going down too well. So I went back out on the trail, I didn’t want to lose anymore time than necessary. The second lap I did slow down just a tad, it was hard to get going again after the break. But I already knew I had this, I figured I could have walked the rest of the 2nd lap and still made all of the cutoffs. I was pretty stoked at this point. I continued going, into the tropical jungle hell of 85* and 80% humidity, where many people were suffering, I did not. I guess the Texas heat had me prepared.

What a feeling, tired and exhausted once I finished the second rope climb which was the highest I have ever seen, I knew I had done it, just the spear throw and rig left. I ran into the festival area to the spear and I see my good friend Laura Messner standing there and cheering. I nailed the spear and as I ran to the rig I remember giving her the “double check discount” motion. I am sure she has no clue what I was talking about, but I was referencing to the fact that I am about to get a damn belt buckle! I smoked the rig, over the non-slip, slip wall, nailed my epic fire jump pose and crossed the finish. My time was 7:49 for the 26ish mile race. ZERO burpees, yes I ran a burpee free race!

Finish – 15th OA

Race 5 – Spartan Super (8 Miles) 8/16/15

The start of a two race day. I wasn’t out to crush this, just complete it so that I could get in the sprint also. Feeling the full effects of the day before, blisters, sore feet, tired calves, slow and steady was the objective. Basically as a group effort, we jogged and walked and did all of the obstacles.

Finish – Yes I did!

Race 6 – Spartan Sprint (4 Miles) 8/16/15

Yes I am exhausted, but sadly I am refreshed also. Unfortunately I don’t leave a man behind, no matter how much they beg me to “just go on.” So there is no running even though I swear I could have done it. At this point a lot of people are just trying to finish. This meant strictly walking the final 4 miles to my Ultrafecta glory.

Finish – Yes I did!

Race 7 – Dirty Rock Triathlon (Swim, 6 Mile Bike, 2 Mile Run) 8/23/15

I know its not even a real sprint TRI, but I was itchy watching everyone else race all weekend so I found something to do. It was literally Saturday afternoon and seeing all my friends post about their Spartan races, made me want to do something. So I looked at the local race calendar and boom here I go! Since I only have a mountain bike, this was perfect. I did pretty well considering I have only ridden my bicycle once this year and no trail riding at all. The trails slowed me down, but I was able to make up for it on the run.

Finish – 3rd AG, 18th OA

Race 8 – Battlefrog Cincinnati (10 Miles) 8/29/15

I have to admit I was somewhat intimidated just by the location and after seeing first hand some of the obstacles, I knew I was in for a true test. The running was never a worry for me, it was basically two obstacles I had in my mind. The Rig and the monkey bars from hell. I shouldn’t worry about the rig, but second laps tend to have a mental block on me. The Monkey bars on the other hand, were just plain brutal for me, no strength left in my grip or forearms on the 2nd lap had me hanging on for dear life to not fall. I knew if I did, then I would be done.  Once I got past both of them on lap two…I knew is was over, I did it once again. Now I was just running for time. Trying to catch the ones I let get by me from the rig. Lap one was 1:50 with no failures, lap two with a 45 min break at the rig came in at 3:06. Granted I took my time on the hills and my watch died so I had no idea about time and pace…ugh. I was shooting for the 3:40 mark (total time)…which in the end was the difference between 5th and 8th.

Finish – Masters Elite – 8th Place Male, 12th OA

 What I have learned

When I had my summer schedule out, there were no intentions of running the equivalent of a marathon, much less two. What changed you ask? Well, for starters I stopped thinking there was something I couldn’t do just because it was out of my comfort zone or I thought I would be in discomfort. All year I said I was never doing an Ultrabeast…too much running. Then people began inspiring me, actually watching others go out and do things they had never tried before was exhilarating to me.  It was like I drank some hypnotic love potion, this lust with wanting to challenge myself in a new way.  I mean seriously watching someone nail 50 miles…its just awe inspiring. Secretly observing friends race everything from 10k’s to triathlons to OCR, at all ages, but especially people my age, motivates me to do epic things. This whole thing started with the 6-hour run and just showing up on a whim, no training for distance, no clue of what I was doing, just some good friends doing it so I thought why not. Once I did it, as difficult as it seemed towards the end, I knew from that point on I could do anything. Sure I will admit I was up in the air about the UB in Hawaii, but not because I didn’t think I could do it, I knew I could do it, it was whether or not I could do it in the allowed time frames.  I knew once I completed the first lap of the UB that it was mine. The whole second lap I just smiled and laughed and knew I had a buckle.

My mindset has changed over the past month too, now I want to run the 9-10 mile distances, I love the two lap Battlefrogs.  I am thinking what the future holds and honestly, I have to say I want to try new things, push myself more. If that means less OCR races and more trail running or adventure racing, then so be it.  I’m still skeptical of a real marathon, I think it will be too boring, but you never know.

I posted this phrase the other day which pretty much sums up my last month.

Sometimes

it’s the very people

who no one imagines anything of

who do the things

no one

can imagine

I think I absolutely fit in this category, I have never been a great athlete, I was an average wrestler, I didn’t start running until late in my 30’s.  But I am competitive and everyday I want to get better to be better. So I never imagined in a million years I would be where I am right now, doing the things I never thought I could do.

So the real realization…I am a distance runner.

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Things I Think – Thursday – PA Road-trip Edition

11 States, 3368 Miles, 2-Races, 1-Speeding Ticket

Every once and awhile you need to take a road trip and experience what this great country has to offer you. If you are lucky enough then you can take your time and explore some of the great things that are out there. So, while we had to do a cannonball run up to PA and back, it was without a doubt a fun trip filled with adventure and laughs.

Initially I was going to travel alone as I could not find anyone to travel with me, then my good friend Natasha from Making Natasha a Spartan said she has nothing else going on and since we choose to LIVE OUR LIFE, off we went.  Life is too short these days and without knowing if another opportunity like this would ever happen for her, it was awesome she wanted to go.

Louisiana

OIMG_5039ur first state was Louisiana. We stopped in Shreveport first and we had a few items we needed to see, so off we went! Here is our list:

  • 14-Story Mural – this is the largest mural in the United States. It was created in 2000 and contains 19 people and 40 objects, capturing the people of Shreveport, their treasures, triumphs, and tragedies.IMG_5043
  • Giant Dalmatian -“Art” is 19-foot-tall statue peeking in the window of the Central ARTSTATION. He is said to be the guardian of the arts in Northwest Louisiana.  At night the spots light up in the dark!

The other highlight of this city was see what is claimed to be the only “World’s only Tattoo School”. I am not sure about this one and I can’t make this up I swear, but this little jewel deserves its own photo, well just cause it makes you think about who would actually go in and get tattooed by one of these “students”? I had an apprentice give me a tattoo once and I had to have it redone because it was so bad and looked nothing like the picture I had picked out. Needless to say we did not get any new ink!

IMG_5088

 

IMG_5156We then made our way on to Monroe, LA and no road trip would be complete without seeing the Duck Dynasty place. It was shocking how it was the same building you see on TV. The loading docks and everything. I was not surprised that they sell everything under the sun in products. They have their label on just about everything there.

Mississippi

So the only cool thing we stopped to see here was the great Mississippi River. Oh and there was a cool ass cannon at the top of the hill too! Otherwise there wasn’t really any cool roadside attractions we found on our route.

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Alabama

Sorry Alabama, but we kinda flew through your state and we didn’t stop to see anything. Not that we didn’t have a couple of items on the list, but by the time we got to Birmingham, everything was closed and it was dark out. But we did have these two places…maybe next time.

  • Statue of Liberty Replica
  • World’s largest Motorcycle Museum
 Tennessee

Traveling at night through a state makes it very difficult to actually experience anything. Especially when you are driving in the wee hours of the night.  On the return trip it was more of the same, we entered the state in the early morning hours and left at 0600.

Virginia

Sorry Virginia, while I am sure you have a lot to offer since you are made for lovers, we were on a mission to get to Phily to see some cool stuff.

Maryland

Your morning traffic sucks! We didn’t see much because of it.. I know you have some cool stuff and things, maybe on a different trip.

District of Columbia

The only non state we visited, we drove right though and waved. I will admit that I did hold my breath through the Fort McHenry Tunnel, just to see if I could. I did and I didn’t pass out thank goodness!

Delaware

I think I sneezed and we were already out of the state.

Pennsylvania

PA how I am growing to love you. I don’t think I had been to PA since I was 16 and now I have been there twice within a months span. Opposite ends of the state but I never thought I would say I was in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (even if Pitt was just the airport).

So off to Phily and yes I had to refrain from yelling “How ’bout them cowboys!” for the fear of being stoned by batteries! But none the less we were able to take in a few sights.

  • IMG_5483Rocky Statue – no trip would be complete without visiting the statue and going up the steps. While I had this whole video parody planned, it just was not as feasible as it was in  my head. Next time I will take a film crew! But we did get to see the statue and walk up the steps.  There was also this really cool statue at the foot of the museum and I took some rather interesting pics there too!  So some of the funnier things to happen was watching Natasha look both ways before crossing the street and then walking out in front of a bicycle. While I yelled ” Waiiiitt” in slow motion voice, somehow they just missed each other and she stopped before crushing into the bike.
  • IMG_5579Love Park – this was cool, we saw this love statue and what could be better then a rally for legalizing pot! I kid you not, they had flags, big ass bongs and legalize it everywhere. Of course it was right were all of us “tourists” were trying to take our pictures and they were annoying. It was definitely a hodge podge collection of people, because you also had kids playing in the fountains like it was a water park and the homeless hanging out like they were on the couch watching TV.

quote  “Have you seen a big bell around here? It has a crack in it, maybe bronze in color?”

  • IMG_5549Liberty Bell – now this was probably the most interesting part of the trip as we found the plaza where the phone said it was; however, it was not visible as I thought it would be. My co-pilot who has since been nick named Magellan for her awesome navigational skills (NOT), was lost getting there, so I basically rolled down my window and asked the question “have you seen a bell around here? It has a crack in it, maybe bronze in color?” Needless to say that after circling the block no less than three times, getting honked at at every green light because we didn’t take off like a bat out of hell, we finally parked and found our precious bell.

I am having a hard time finding this to the city of brotherly love when people drive in walking lanes, almost run over a man in a wheelchair and don’t give a crap.  One of the other funnier moments in the trip had to be when I was trying to find the bell and I casually say, where is this damn bell and Magellan responds with “what smell?” Oh that’s great, the wax in your ears is working perfectly! (she had an ear infection and put wax in her ears) It reminded me of my grandma who was hard of hearing and never heard anything correctly…so this became the new joke of the trip, yes I can’t ever let anything go.

At this point there is only one last thing we need to get before we can take off and make the final destination…you guessed it, the Philadelphia Cheesesteak sandwich. So I asked a local where we should go, the suggestion was “the best” in the city a small place called Jim’s. So we ventured a few blocks and found said Jim’s. Now the first thing you need to know about Jim’s is that they are cash only, well it is a good thing they keep an ATM in the lobby for losers like us who NEVER CARRY ANY DAMN CASH! So we get the sandwich and head upstairs to eat. Now I am not going to say it was a bad sandwich, okay it was a horrible sandwich, I think I have made better ones myself! It was dry and needed salt as it was tasteless. Anyway I am sure it was the best cheesesteak in Philly at one time, actually I know it was, they had a plaque on the wall, “Best Cheesesteak Sandwich, 1979” so there you go, in 1979 they ruled this place!

Spartan Race

What can I say, this is probably a totally different blog post because this was a different kind of race I have not experienced in a long time. So lets just say, I participated in two races and I completed two races and they were on a ski resort. Made me kinda wish it was the winter time again so that I could ski!

Return Trip

So during our trip my shotgun rider took sick and we had to take her to the ER on Saturday and combine that with some family issues going on in Texas, we bolted right after the race on Sunday to get home as soon as possible. For the most part we took our state sign selfies to add to the collection, had another late night waffle house experience and got a speeding ticket!

Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas

Here are the states which were traveled through…nothing exciting except for rest stops and fuel. The bandit was on a mission, had to get back to Texas, family was waiting.

But…that is not to say we didn’t have a few highlights along the way, yes we truly are a comedy of errors and you can’t say that I won’t show you a good time.

  • So we were at this restaurant called Westy Bar & Grill, you know grabbing lunch before the trek home. Anyway they are having a wing special and the menu says flat out “the biggest wings in PA!” Well shit! I gotta have some of them, oh yeah and they are known for their hamburgers. If you know me and my quest for the best burger, hell why not, I’ll take the wings and the burger.  Well without giving a whole burger review (because it doesn’t deserve it) it was not that good. Oh yeah and the wings looked like normal wings you get anywhere, I have had bigger at hooters. Well everything is bigger at hooters! bada-bing!
  • IMG_5840Tasha gets a speeding ticket. Okay so let me set the stage…I’m sleeping. I am suddenly awoken by the rumble strips and I open my eyed to blue lights flashing. Still in a foggy state, Magellan is freaking out because she got pulled over. I have to say I have never laughed so hard in my life while receiving a speeding ticket. Maybe it was the combination of the very thick southern accent the Virginia State trooper had, combined with Natasha’s instantly blonde demeanor acting like she was the most clueless driver on the planet. Well here are a few of the highlights:

circle-dartSpeeding 85 in a 70, we were advised that anything 85 and over is considered reckless driving in the great state of Virginia. Which carries a $2500 fine and or Jail. He also advised he could take her to jail right now if he wanted to. After he leaves I get this “I can’t go to jail Travis, I just can’t go to jail”…ha ha…

circle-dartHe asks for her license and registration. She gives him her license and a copy of her personal insurance. He tells her that is great but he wants the registration. I advise him it is in the window, at this point Natasha grabs the flier from the Spartan race and tries to give it to him. If I had been drinking anything it would have been all over my dashboard. I calmly say, no it is the sticker in the window. To which the response was “they don’t give you a paper copy in Texas along with the Sticker?”

circle-dartSo he cuts her a favor and writes her up for 80 in a 70.

 

circle-dartWhen asked why she was speeding she calmly says she was just keeping up with traffic. I mentioned about how fast she was going to which her response was, “I don’t look at the speed-odometer, I just keep up with traffic”

IMG_5837circle-dartThe best part of the stop was when he goes back to his car and we both bust out out cameras to take selfies with the blue lights in the background. “did you get a good shot?” “No, did you?” “No, I wish he would turn off that stupid spot light!” I think we both took several shots and I can only image what it looked like from the rear, two cameras and arms up taking pictures!

circle-dartUpon completion, I calmly asked the trooper if he would take a selfie with me, I mentioned it would be the perfect end to our epic roadtrip. He politely refused and told us to drive safe!…Dang it!

So there you have it, after that, it was a pretty calm trip home. We will take with us the memories of this and all of the great state signs that were captured to add to our collection!

 

Footnote

So there was as usual a ton of pushback about taking Natasha with me, as people just don’t understand why she does crazy things like this. I am sure I am a hated person as it seems to always be on my watch that the adventures kick in and something arises to cause concern to everyone. So while yes, I can tell you I am greatly concerned about the health of my friend, but sometimes you can’t predict what the future holds for any of us. Any of us could kick the bucket tomorrow and who wants to have regrets? Certainly not me.

While many see this trip as something crazy and hazardous to her health, she viewed it simply as a way to escape from all of the pain she encountered in her life lately. The prior week was filled with heartbreak on a family level. So sometimes people need a good get away to keep their mind off of things. We could never have predicted the complications which lead to taking her to the ER and then checking herself out to get home.

After all of the complications we encountered on this adventure, Natasha has the can do attitude and one comment that will always resonate with me long after she has left us.  When she yelled at me “I am not going to just lay in bed and wait to die!” a cord was struck down to my bones, which although I was very concerned, it made me realize just how much of a fighter this woman was and she is going to live her life. No my friend you are not, your illness does not define who you are and you are going to do whatever you want, even if it does literally kill you one day. Until then, I cherish all of the times we have had and I look forward to many more.

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers!

Things I think – Thursday AWOL Edition

Floods, Road Trips, and Funny Ass Sh!T

Oops I did it again! I know, I know I went AWOL for three solid weeks again, but I do have an excuse, I have been traveling and just too busy to write. Granted I have been writing down thoughts but I was just making a list in order to write this. So lets catch you up over the last three weeks.

Week One – Spent time traveling to Ohio in a car with one of the funniest people I have met lately. We went through Arkansas, Tennessee and Ohio. Then I raced a Spartan Race on Saturday and Sunday!

Week Two – Spent a week in Pennsylvania and had such an awesome time. I painted coffee mugs, watched a killer sunset over Lake Erie, attempted some acro-yoga and failed but haven’t laughed that hard in a long time and went to Cedar Point and rode roller coasters!

Week Three – after finally getting back, I kicked off my 9-days until my birthday do EPIC stuff week, so I missed the deadline there too…but the good news is, there is a part two today and it is all about my birthday!

Floods

Right before I left on my road trip, Texas under went a record amount of rainfall and it brought about some of the worst flooding we have had in years. One place in particular which is special to me was affected is a huge way. Luckily the two people who I hold dear in my heart were not hurt and are doing okay.  But it does make you think about the big picture of things and how quickly everything can change and totally change your life forever.

It was also great to see Texas communities coming together for those in need and help people who were affected by the flooding. Also watching my OCR friends volunteer to head down there for a weekend and help out a family in need was outstanding!

Road Trippin’

As you may know by now, I love going on roadtrips and traveling all over the place. My travels to date have mostly consisted of just places across the united states, but they are fun none the less. So when I was giving the chance to actually drive to a race, of course I took it. I had the most fun in a car I have had in a long time, lucky for me my partner in crime loves to sing and I think we sang every song on the radio. Oh yeah, and you can never here the song “Footloose” too many times!

Along with making several videos, we also did this during our road trip:

  • Arkansas Road Sign
  • Tennessee Road Sign
  • Graceland in Memphis
  • Karaoke in Nashville
  • Spartan Race in Ohio

IMG_3191After Ohio I traveled to Pennsylvania and stayed 5-days there visiting the great town of Erie. Sandwiched between a couple of work days I got to do more awesome things. I already mentioned them above but definitely going to Cedar Point was the most fun. I am glad I had the company I was with, I love roller coasters and having a super awesome partner in crime makes it even better!

 Funny ass Sh!t

So here are some random thoughts I just thought were funny over the course of the past few weeks.

  • People in PA think line dancing is country dancing! Yes I knew this was the way northern people thought when I first moved to Texas over 20 years ago, but I was asked if we could country line dance in Texas. Then I heard a country radio station advertise that they were going to be doing that…I just shook my head and laughed. No, we don’t line dance in Texas. (unless that is we are doing the electric slide or something)

circle-questionDid you know? In Salt Fork State Park in Ohio, this is the home of bigfoot? While in the gift shop at the lodge, I asked why they sold all this bigfoot stuff and why the statue in the lobby. Well, they have had “sightings” for over 100 years and even as recent as 2015…

  • Laura not knowing what Graceland was! At least she did know who Elvis was!
  • I know I touched on this before regarding athlete pages, but I also think if you have the word “Spartan” as a part of your name on any social media platform, I think you are just kinda lame. I mean think about it, that is the name of a race and a company. I know you are going to argue that you think it means you are a real spartan kinda like a warrior or something, but no, no you are not. It would be like someone putting their name to be “Dopey Sam” or maybe “Triathlon Steve” or why not one of the other races? I’d love to see someone be “Savage Joe” or “GladiatorRR Bob” or even “Battlefrog Tony”…no, no one else does it for any other of their hobbies, we don’t have “Marathon Jane” or “Scubadiver Sally” or “Motorcross Ken” so just stop it already. I am sure if your profile pic is a picture of you doing a run and you labeled it correctly in your profile, we all know already.

quote

                                                                                                  I’ll be your top thrill                                                   (quote as seen on a shirt at Cedar Point)

  • I absolutely love the women’s world cup! Pretty much the only time I watch women’s soccer is when the cup is on! USA won the pool and now the march to the cup starts!
  • So after my recent trip to ROT (blog coming soon) I have decided to add a new event to my list of goals for this year. I am going to try to complete the Iron Butt ride before the end of summer.
  • I know this is very random, but how many people have you said “I love you” to? I was thinking of this on my ride recently, while reflecting as I usually do while I am riding and it occurred to me that I have posted a lot recently about being in love or I was in love or had been in love and my feeling on love and yeah…pretty much a lot of love stuff.  Well that tends to happen when you wear your heart on your sleeve and you give yourself over to someone with reckless abandon. But contrary to belief, I have not actually told that many people that I love them. Sure I have had feelings for someone and I may have said I was falling or whatever, but at the end of the day, after 44 years, I have only told 9 (nine) women that I loved them. That is pretty much since I was 16 and I have to say some of the love I threw out there then, isn’t anything like how I think love is now (3 before 20YOA, is that even really possible?) So now I am wondering if that is a high number or a low number? I first thought it was pretty low, but now I am not so sure. What is your number?
  • So I discovered the key to making our kids in this country smarter! It is bribing them with Pizza and Movies! Okay this was pretty funny when I saw it, so I am just going to leave this here…IMG_3043 IMG_2499
  • I also discovered a new thing…while in Erie, PA, I decided to go walking and I found that they have pizza joints on like every corner! So if I ever go to visit again, I am going on a walkabout, a pizza walking tour and I am going to try a slice at each place!

circle-lightbulbFun Fact! If you need your house cleaned, dishes washed, light bulbs replaced, trash taken out…apparently all you need to do is invite me over and my OCD takes over and things seem to get done…flaw or great quality?

Music

So this week in honor or one of my favorite bands Lifehouse releasing a new album, I am going to list my top songs I love off the new album.

Lifehouse – Hurricane

Lifehouse – Firing Squad

Lifehouse – Wish

Lifehouse – Hourglass

Lifehouse – Hindsight

I know 5 songs is a lot, but these are my favorite so far, but there are a couple more that I like as well.

Making Natasha a Spartan

Austin, Texas 5/16/2015 – Spartan Sprint

quote“There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

~Kurt Hahn

Every once in a great while, you get an opportunity to change someone’s life.  I find most of the time I have no idea if something I did or said has made any impact on anyone’s lives. Sometimes I get emails from people who tell me I did, but I don’t go out trying to be a difference maker, I live my life and if I can be an example then I am happy to hear how I have inspired you in some way.

Last December my friend Natasha was in the ICU unit and posted on facebook she would love some company or someone to visit her and bring movies.  So of course I grabbed some DVD’s and went right up there.  I still get confused as to her illness (I’ll explain in a minute) but I gladly went up to visit. Unfortunately at the time she was under some heavy sedation so we did get a chance to talk in between her naps. I watched her sleep and chilled for a few hours. I don’t know if she really remembers everything, but I am sure she was grateful I was there if just for a short time.

I monitor her status from time to time and she has been living in the hospital basically for the last few years. Well this past week she commented on one of my pictures at how great I was doing at my runs. I privately asked her how she was doing and she said she had been out of the hospital for the past 3 weeks and was feeling great. In jest I mentioned if she ever wanted to run a race I would make her a spartan. Well she took me up on the offer! She decided on a Friday afternoon to up and participate in the Reebok Spartan Race Sprint in Austin, Texas the next day.

 Natasha’s Illness

So what I found out is that Natasha actually suffers from Eosinophilic Disease. What is an Eosinophil? An evil white blood cell that is a type of B cell. It has one job: attack parasites in the body. In her case these cells went rogue. Two (2) in every million people have  EGPA. In her case the Eosinophils are attacking multiple organs. EOS diseases have NO cure & NO FDA approved treatment. Let that sink in. We fight a losing battle daily with band-aid medications that rarely work.

She is currently in Stage 3, this is the last stage of her illness, and the cause of her recently mild heart attack. Yes you read this correct, she had a heart attack in March 2015 and is also on the transplant list for a new heart. Oh yeah and she also undergoes up to 5-hours of experimental Chemotherapy to fight this.

In September of 2014, she received her “death sentence” as she calls it, they told her she had give or take 5-years to live. As she told me “I no longer consider my illness a death sentence because I keep fighting through the tough times. Like I’ve said before, I’m Chronically Fabulous!” These are words of a true fighter.

The Race

Most of what I actually knew of her illness I learned during our race. I had no idea of some of these things when I asked her to do this, like the heart attack or that her cardiologist was probably going to hunt me down and shoot me because she has a strict no exercise policy or lifting anything over 5lbs.

But we started our adventure on the course at her insistence, she told me her illness was not going to determine how she lives her life and jokingly stated this could kill her today but it would be fun.  I guess it is a good thing she signed the Spartan “death waiver” then huh? So she tells me YOLO and off we go towards the start line.

Seriously I am a little worried at this point, but she is all smiles and doesn’t have a care in the world. We are in the starting coral and yelling AROO, AROO, AROO and now I can see it all sinking in, this is about to get real.

Just to review:

  • Heart attack in March (2-months ago)
  • On the heart transplant list
  • No exercise or lifting over 5lbs
  • She forgot her inhaler
  • 6-days post race she goes in for 5-hours of chemo

So armed with her feeding tube (yes still in), oh yeah she can’ eat real food either, her chemo port and the biggest smile ever, we took off on our Reebok Spartan Race adventure.

So off we go, walking our way to glory.

Mile 1

As we start off we instantly start talking about the past 6-months or so. Sometimes I am amazed at how fast time flies by. This is where I learn of her disease in depth, all the restrictions and how we shouldn’t even be walking. But she won’t quit so we keep going. She went up and over the saw horse looking things and then the 6-foot wall, at first it was intimidating, then she went for it and made it!

We hit the 1-mile marker and and she asked me if it was really a mile. Then it gets silent for a second and I can see something going on in there and she tells me, if you had asked her if she would have ever done this, she would have said no. I could tell she was proud of herself and she was ready to keep going.

Miles 2, 3, 4

It seems I did most of the talking, (I know imagine that!) but it was okay because we were working on her breathing and keeping her heart rate low. So I talked and talked and talked some more. I had plenty to say, it has been a busy 6-months!

As we approached the obstacles, she did just about all of them. I stuck the spear throw for her and then let her try, she had obviously never done that before and it did go straight, just not enough arm.  I asked her if she played softball as I was showing her how I throw it and the response was “No, I was a cheerleader!” okay then, cheer for me!

I did the rig pipe thingy because they would not allow me to assist her in any way to even try and she could not hold herself up there, so no big deal I knocked that out.

I carried her sandbag and mine too, can’t break the lifting restrictions and the water was a refreshing break.  This  is where we almost called it a day. You could say she was a bit stubborn and refused to let her illness stop her from at least trying the things that were doable. But her heart rate was going off the charts and we ended up sitting down at the water station to rest.

She wanted the medic and then didn’t want the medic so we sat and we talked and I tried to crack tasteless jokes to lighten the mood. Then I told her about my Houston Battlefrog DNF and how my motto for the Dallas Battlefrog was “Not Today.” So I told her that was her new motto to, not today. You are not dying or quitting this race today. Tomorrow you can, but not today! Then we looked around and I pointed out all of the other people just sitting around, taking breaks, goofing off, not doing anything. You see she felt bad she had to stop and was mad that she couldn’t lower her heart rate a tad. Then I calmly stated the obvious…what was their excuse? They were all healthy people, granted maybe out of shape, but they don’t have a death sentence or chemo therapy this week or a heart attack a couple months back. At this point it was like I turned on a light switch, she looked at me and said “yeah, what is their excuse?” she looked around and mumbled you are all healthy people just sitting around, then she stood up and off we went.

I also ended up doing the sled pull for obvious reasons, but she did do the Z-wall, even after much discussion on if should could, well she could and she did! She also did her own barbwire crawl and did the tunnel crawl.

But after the tunnel she saw the hill. She became petrified she would not make it up such a steep incline. She asked the volunteer to call for a medic just in case she died on the way up, no lie her words. The volunteer walked with us, we went slow and steady, up and over the big rocks and when she got to the top, out came a big “I did it!” and a huge smile and a high five! She truly has no idea how inspiring this is right now that she is just beasting this course. I mean, she isn’t even supposed to be walking to the mailbox! I told her the hard stuff is over, we are almost there. Then we took a selfie! 🙂

mountain selfie

Mile 4 Mile Marker was another milestone for us. When she saw the sign, knowing we had roughly a mile left she got really excited and of course we took the gratuitous picture. With her heart racing and struggling to get her breathing under control she looked at me and said “well crap, I’ve come this far, I can’t quit now with a mile left”…no, no you can not, not today.

Mile 4Continuing on we just keep going, I scale the 10-foot wall and then we approach the floating bridge. Without hesitation she gets up on it and starts across. On the last one she jumps off and immediately her arms shoot over her head and starts jumping up and down in the water. What a sight to see, such a huge smile on her face. When I get over to her, she is out of the water and on the shore and crying. I instantly think something is wrong and I ask if she is okay and needs a medic and you know what? It was a happy cry, she got so emotional completing that obstacle she broke down. I told her not to waste her tears on this one, you save them for when you leap over the fire and get that medal!

On we go, walking to the bucket carry she was having issues and we stopped and again I was about to get the medic. But she no, and just said when she got so excited it took its toll. Actually the whole day had now taken its toll on her and every step was a milestone. She marched on to the bucket carry and got some water and rested while I completed it with no problem.

The Last March

You can hear the festival area, I kept telling her we were so close, but the walking was really starting to break her down. I offered to piggy back ride her, but no that was not an option. It took a while but we made it to the slip wall, I knocked it out. I did the Herc hoist, Tarzan swing and I kicked the bell for her on the rope climb. Then we marched to the dunk wall. I could see the terrified look on her face. I told her not to get in but she did, then she started to hyperventilate of the thought of holding her breath and going under. In the end she did it, like a champ! Nothing but smiles as we get out and look to the fire.

The fire took awhile for her to go, but at this point we were not in a rush. I know her breathing was an issue and I think the thought of jumping over fire and into a water pit may have also been somewhat intimidating. She looked like a lioness actually, she was staring it down, pacing back and forth looking at it as if where to attack it. I am just standing off to the side waiting, my plan was to go with her and jump together and get it all on video from the side view. She walked up to me as if to talk to me and then she just took off.

I am so happy she went, but it was the funniest moment of my day. I wasn’t expecting it, I was a step behind trying to catch up to video and she also kinda blocked me and went to the far right. I was behind and now worried about landing on her, but I just pulled up and went in right behind her. Then I heard it. That laugh. That happy laugh I had heard all day every time she accomplished something.  We climbed out of the pit and marched to the finish and she got her medal.

It was hard to not break down. While her little heart was bursting from over use and stress, my was the complete opposite, sure I was getting choked up but my heart was full. I made her a Spartan and now I know no matter what life throws at her, she will always have this moment to reflect on. I hope this makes her stronger when she gets sick again and we end up watching movies together. I guess the next time I can take 300 and the sequel and we can yell our AROO AROO AROO down the ICU hall! Hopefully I don’t have to do that for awhile. For now, I will visit on chemo day and we can laugh about our adventure.

Natasha we may not get 5-years more with you, but I hope we get more. You have a fragile heart, but it is a heart of a warrior and you have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. Thank you for allowing me to bring you this special moment. I look forward to more adventures in the future! I am so very proud of you for this accomplishment.

Here is our video of the EPIC day.

The Day I Actually Quit

The longest 3 – Minutes Ever

quote

When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.

~Napoleon Hill

Have you ever flipped that switch in your head and you become almost obsessed with something? Well that happened to me when I DNF’d at Battlefrog Houston earlier this year. Since then I made the decision I was never going to do that again. So I got off my ass and started working out hard to achieve my goals.  It never stopped, I kept getting more and more into what I was doing and I was driven and on a mission.

Although the Spartan Race has recently lost its luster in my eyes, I was none the less excited about the upcoming Austin Races, 4-races in back to back weekends. Training was going great, my diet had also changed and I was feeling like this was actually going to be a great couple of races for me. For the first time in a long time I went into a race extremely confident and ready to perform at a high level.

I was challenged the night before to not run the OPEN race and upgrade to the ELITE MASTERS race. My camp kept telling me I was ready to take the next step. They believed I could do really well and were pretty convincing. Ultimately I went with the plan I started out with and I remained in the Open heat. Not only to I regret that decision now playing armchair QB, I knew it the moment I watched the elite men take off for the start of the Super.  But nothing you can do now I told myself, just crush the race and try to catch the women elites.

So our heat started and off we went. I always try to control myself and not get caught up in the initial sprint off, I mean it is a 9-mile race, no need to die in the first mile. So I let the knuckleheads take off but I also kept a good pace myself. The beginning was all trail and I train on this, so I felt good. I caught up to the small group who took off and I was passing them. I even yelled out “on your left” as I was going by. Then it happened. I took my eyes off the technical trail with the wet slippery rocks for a second to look ahead at the group I was passing and my left foot came down, the ankle slipped and rolled on a wet rock and I heard a “POP” sound, this was worse than anything I had ever heard before with my ankles. I came down hard too, full force on the foot.  I took a knee, in near tears with the pain.

Time: 3:31

Yes I took a knee, I looked at my watch and I was only three minutes and 31 seconds into the race. My ankle was throbbing and I was not sure what to do. People started to run by now, people asking me if I was okay and each time I responded with “No, I am not.” Reflecting now, this was the first time I ever got hurt and admitted it. I mean like, I was saying, “yes I am hurt and I need help” never in a million years did I ever thing this would happen. I remember I could not put any weight on the ankle, I couldn’t stand, so I just kept kneeling and semi rubbing it. There were offers for people to send back a medic and one guy said he would tell the next water station for me.  I was in a state of bewilderment. All I could think was “why is this happening to me? I was in great shape and I was ready, this was supposed to be my race! I was supposed to kill it and then show them and myself maybe I can run with the elites.” Then I hear a familiar voice. My new friend Darlene came up and started talking me, made me stand up. I told her I was done. I couldn’t race, I needed to just head back towards the start line.  So we started walking back,  back to the start line, back to the festival area, away from the race.

During this walk so many emotions started going through my head, “what would people think?” for starters, I know I shouldn’t care but still, that goes through my head. I didn’t want the sympathy, I didn’t want to let down all of the people I trained with, the ones who took time to train me, I was feeling this defeat and I could feel myself getting emotional. I know Darlene was talking to me and I half remember what she was saying over the voices in my head. But then something happened, the foot started feeling a bit better, so I tightened up the laces on my shoe and I stopped walking the wrong way. I looked and Darlene and I said I can’t quit. I just can’t do it. I absolutely had to cross that finish line, even if I was crawling I was going to cross that finish line. She told me to lightly jog and see how it felt, so I did. It felt good, only some sharpe pain here and there. But then I started running a bit faster and then a bit faster and then I just took off.

quoteWhy is this happening to me? I was in great shape and I was ready, this was supposed to be my race! I was supposed to kill it and then show them and myself maybe I can run with the elites.”

I looked at my watch and this whole thing took a little over three minutes. Darlene was running with me and I told her, it was starting to feel good and now I was pissed that I just lost 3-minutes.  Her comment was something like “just run faster then and catch up, its a long race still.” So off I went to cross the finish line.

I was actually very surprised at how I actually was able to keep going. Mile after mile, obstacle after obstacle. I did twist the ankle three more times during the race, two were very slight tweaks and one was a good roll again on a wet rock. It wasn’t until around mile 8 when I hit the wall. Which is odd because I was actually putting down a good pace on mile 7, I was passing female elites and I had not failed an obstacle.  Mile 9 was hell, for some reason as long as I kept running I was good, when we stopped for any reason, I was getting bad. The last barb wire crawl, the tubes, and the sled pull, all actually hurt. Walking was becoming difficult but I motored on, I went slow through the rolling hills and I carefully went over the floating docs, but I couldn’t run as we approached the bucket carry.  I went through the bucket carry and then I tried to run to the festival area, I am glad there was no one there to watch because it was ugly. It was a jog/hobble combo thing. Slip wall was no biggie, up and over the bridge and then the Tarzan swing,  the only thing I failed. I think it as a combo of things why, but I was for sure doing everything off one foot, but I doubt that was why.  So I did my burpees (so easy when you practice them!) The rope climb was no problem and then the fire jump. It was a sad day, I didn’t jump (yes no fire jump pose) I calmly stepped over it and into the water pit, crawled out and crossed the finish line.

I crossed the finish line, mission accomplished. I basically walked right through the finish area without stopping and made a beeline to the medical tent. I got wrapped and ice and called it a day. I was sad I didn’t get to race the Sprint the next day, but the swelling was worse and it hurt to walk so I thought it would be a good idea to just lay low. Of course this did mean that I could be cheerleader to my friends, take pictures and try to take it easy.

So I learned something about myself again this past weekend, I do have a never give up mentality. I could have easily called it a day, but I didn’t, I forged on. What really makes me feel both good about things and somewhat disappointed at the same time is that I ended up with this time:Screenshot 2015-05-13 14.04.11I am pretty pumped about this considering I had a bum ankle and when I compared my times with the elite masters, I would have taken 5th place. So I think I do have the confidence now to try and run the elite class and say goodbye to the Open heats.

One more weekend lies ahead and I am not ever sure at this point if I will be able to compete or not. So for now I am resting this week, staying off the foot and hoping I can feel good enough to at least run the Sprint on Saturday. If not, I will have my camera and video camera, so I can take a ton of pics!

 My name is Travis and I talk to strangers!

Things I Think – Thursday 4/30/15

Riots, Relationships, Workouts, Athlete Pages and Spartan Koolaid

I have gathered my thoughts for a week and here is what I think this week.

Riots

All I can say is that I am totally disgusted with the ignorant people who live in our country. Now that one city has done it, people everywhere are going to act like a bunch of heathens and burn cities to the ground.  This is absolutely the stupidest thing I have ever seen. I think everyone arrested or identified as stealing and looting needs to have their homes and cars confiscated and put in jail. How are they gonna feel losing everything. Sure the situation surrounding the riot is heartbreaking, but how about a little faith in our justice system and that the investigation into the death will be dealt with.  It makes me sick that we have these idiots ruining our country. Lastly, kudos to the police and the national  guard. That moron that got snatched up on CNN was epic. More of that is needed! I mean why is everyone crying foul? Curfew was 10pm, it was like 10:38pm and he was out on the street in violation of the law, I don’t care what he was saying whether it was peaceful or derogatory, it was past curfew and they arrested his ass. So…what is the problem?

Relationships

I have thought a lot lately about relationships, mostly because I recently have gone through some shit. No worries this isn’t a woe is me post and I am not crying. But I do have another revelation which has caused me to re-evaluate how I approach things moving forward.  You see this may come as a shocker to the people who know me best, but I am a stubborn son of a bitch.  Which isn’t always a bad thing, but it can lead to some serious headbutting. With that being said here is my new profound approach to how I am going to think moving forward. It all comes down to these simple three questions I need to ask myself.

  1. Do you love this person
  2. Do you love this person enough to want to spend an extremely long amount of time with them…IE married or just 40 years or so.
  3. Does the love you have for this person make you want to embed them into your life so much you see yourself having a family. Either a new created one or just make two parts one whole and then establish an existing one.

So let me break this down and explain more in detail. #1 seems pretty simple right? Well sometimes you can think you are in love and in actually you are in love with an idea. That was me last year.  You know you are in love, when you want to shout from the rooftops to tell the world. You are not embarrassed to be around them and you want all of your friends to meet that person. It also means you drive over 4 hours at the drop of the hat, because all you want to is see that person and when you get there, it is a surprise and you don’t say anything except this “I just wanted to to tell you that I am madly, deeply in love with you and I wanted to know and I couldn’t wait another minute” you know that whole “if tomorrow never comes” type of thing.

I know #2 and #3 may seem like the same thing, but they are not. I want a family, that is not a surprise to anyone who knows me. Of course I want to have my own children, sometimes life throws you curve balls, so in the end if I never have my own, but I come across someone who already does, I would be just as content being in their lives and making them better human beings.

Synopsis

So why am I on my soapbox? I am sure to most people this makes perfect sense and they already know this…well my friends this is my blog and it is what I am thinking! Seriously though, here is my revelation, outside of those three things, nothing else really matters.  It doesn’t matter if you live in a 3000 sq foot home or a 900 sq foot apartment,  big city living or life in the country. It doesn’t matter if you live in Texas, Colorado or take up a gypsy lifestyle and travel the world. None of that matters, because in the end all that matters is that you are with that person.  So from now on I am open to the possibilities of grand adventure, you want to buy a bus and travel the country…lets go, as long as we are together it’s all okay.

We all have our 3, 5, 10 year plans and honestly we all have goals and tasks we need to get ahead in life. I have a ton of goals in which I want to carry out both in my personal and professional life. But then again when this crazy world throws at you a curve ball, you know like telling you what you had planned is great and all, now go do it while trying to fit this love in your life.

So this leads me to my second thought,  compromise. Embedding another person into your daily life is difficult, you find that things start to change, your schedule gets off and you start to wonder “what the hell.” Happens a lot, mixing in is a struggle. But here is the deal, I learned a valuable lesson, I can’t always help people, I have to learn the balance between trying to make someone’s life easier and completely taking it over to do things my way.  So I need to compromise better, understand that things can be a certain way and its really okay.  We all have to make sacrifices sometimes and the hard part is determining what you can live without and what you can’t. Trust me, don’t wait until it is too late to figure this out. I often do this, I don’t see it until I reflect on things long after the fact.  Because in the end all that matters is that you are together and living a happy life.  This saying pretty much sums up everything I want, no relationship! I want a partner and partners work together to make it awesome.

Photo Apr 26, 23 16 51

Workouts

I am sure you can tell I have hit the workout thing a bit more aggressively than usual. I hate to post crap about me doing workouts and what not, because for the most part, everyone pretty much knows I workout to run the races. I am not a trainer, I am not a leader of a fitness movement, but recently I had another revelation (I know right like two of these suckers in a short time!) and I do like to humble-brag some on my accomplishments.

But first and foremost I need to apologize to some people and if they actually read this, you know who you are.  You see last summer I really became serious about getting better. Not because I wanted to win money or be this great “Elite” athlete, but because I am somewhat competitive (I know shocker) I wanted to just do better at races. Well you know what happened, the winter came and I went into hibernation mode. The time change and cold weather really demotivate me. But I did have this accountability partner who actually got me moving this winter. We only butted heads over gym workouts versus running. I am not a huge gym and weights guy, in fact I normally don’t do anything except run and the occasional push-ups and pull-ups.  So yes I was an ass, I was stubborn and I failed. I failed because I didn’t do anything the whole month of February. This caused so much discontent and animosity and I added on my “winter weight” and once march hit it was ugly. I started to run again in March because I knew I had at least 2-races.

So March was an eye opener for me, I had my first DNF. I didn’t posses the tools to complete the obstacles. This fueled my fire, I kinda went nuts.  I was already heating a healthier lifestyle thanks to my awesome nutritionist [yes she changed my life (now you know this too) and I’m eating things I had never eaten before] but now it was on overdrive. I was reading more on it, asking questions and getting advice. Plus I invested in more training tools, stuff I can take out on the trails with me and busting out the old P90X workouts.

Needless to say I came back stronger at my next event and beasted it. So now that you see me going to the gym (I still hate them) to get stretched out or doing these homemade workouts, it isn’t because I never wanted to do it in the past or that it was anyone in particular. I just switched gears and found out there are things I needed to change in order to get better. I learned that osmosis does not work.  So I sincerely apologize to everyone that I was an asshat to over the winter, you were right and I was wrong. But it took me failing to see that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for inspiring me to get off my ass and actually put work in. Things like:

quote“You now know what you need to do, what to train on, go do it and come back stronger”

“Not Today”

“You know if you trained more you would be a beast”

At the end of the day also, I am still a better coach than I will ever be an athlete and inspiring others to be their best is a lot more rewarding. So come workout with me, push me harder, make me better and I guarantee I will do the same with you. I love making others better!

Athlete Pages

So this is going to piss off a bunch of people including really good friends I have…but WHY!!!!???? I mean I get that we are all athletes but no one is truly a professional. I mean unless you are not working a normal job and devoting your whole life to racing like my friend KK Stewart-Paul, then yes you can have an athlete page. But I mean some of the people I see with pages I just have to ask what the purpose is? What do you post there? I mean are you trying to inspire people or make a difference in their lives with something or is it just a vanity thing? It makes me think…hey look at me! I just don’t get the point, especially coming from someone who works in social media and has a pretty big grasp on the concept of what channels you use what for. I mean I could see if you wanted to stop the friend requests and keep your Facebook page a little more private to close friends and family, why then you would start pushing people to your athlete page to keep up with your OCR life. But no one is doing that. If you still are accepting friend requests from people all over the country, most of whom you have never met, then what is the point? I mean I am sure you women get 100’s of requests because your profile pic is usually in booty shorts and sports bras. What do you expect there? Of course everyone wants to be your friend, they want to creep your pictures. But I mean if you have 3000 friends and 2000 or so are OCR people, I don’t get it.

I think this would be like me starting a page Travis Blythe Dirtbike rider or Travis Blythe Snow Skier. Afterall those are my hobbies too, or wait I could also be Travis Blythe Scuda diver. I could even add the word “Elite” to it and damn I would sound like a total badass!

Note to you amateur facecrack people with Athlete pages, if you post on your personal page all of your workouts and accomplishments and pictures for everyone to see, then what are you doing on your athlete page? If you double post, then why on earth am I ever going to go over to your athlete page? It will always be the same content, come on people get with the program here, either learn how to use social media or stop with the athlete pages. Most of you are just weekend warriors anyway, stick to letting me live vicariously through our friendship and creeping through your feeds instead of random athlete page posts. And if you are tired of me posting my race pics or dirtbike pics or skiing pics or riding my Harley pics, well tough noogies, it is my page and this is my life and I will share with you as I seem fit and what I see fit. Unfriend  me or hide me from your feed if you must, but no I will not create an athlete page just to post my weekend hobby adventures on.

Spartan Koolaid

After the Las Vegas Super and having run Houston and Dallas Battlefrog, I have to say I have stopped drinking the Spartan Koolaid. In fact I poured that shit out. I am now on a steady diet of frog juice! Yes I know, I know I am still running like 6 more Spartan races this year, but I have to tell you the luster is gone. Last year was all about getting the “Trifecta” and even this year everyone was on the “how many can I get this year.” Well I am here to tell you that I could care less. If my schedule stays the same, I am on track to get one, yes one trifecta. I will have a bunch of supers and sprints but I only have one beast to date on the calendar.  Truthfully I do not care, the only way that changes is if I do something epic like go to Hawaii and try to do a trifecta weekend just to see if I can. (I know I can, it’s just wanting to actually do it) So Spartan out, Battlefrog in.

Music

Here is my weekly contribution to music that I like!

Ron Pope – If you were a stone

Boyce Ave – Speed Limit

Footnote

It is funny to me how music can mean such different things at different times in your life. Last summer when I was having some difficulty making a transition into a new life I remember hearing some music and how it made me feel. Then a mere 6 months later I hear the same song, the same words and the meaning is totally different.  Funny how the universe works that way. Tomorrow I could hear that song and it takes on new meaning again because life has changed again. Then on the flip side of all that, there is that one song, you totally bonded with someone over and how no matter where you are or what you are doing, that song makes you remember them. I mean they could have killed your cat or boiled rabbits on your stove, but all you remember was the epic good things like how your epic first kiss tasted or the most passionate love-making you had…or I could be wrong and you never forget the rabbits.

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

 

Things I Think – Thursday – 4/23/15

By: Travis E. Blythe

Random thoughts after a week in Vegas!

Okay a few from Vegas and a couple others, because hey it’s random right? So typically I pick some topics and give my 2-cents on them, kind of ranting if you will. Since it has been about 5-years and I think I have matured a bit, I am going to give you my weeks top ten things going on in my mind. In no particular order other than how they popped into my head.

1.  After spending a week with world class chefs, getting a recipe out of them is like pulling teeth! Seriously though, the problem is they just tend to make stuff up and I can’t write fast enough! But I can tell you this, when you do get one, watch out that stuff is like gold! Plus when they are athletes, they make nothing but healthy food and it is awesome!

2. They don’t call me the “Road Captain” for nothing. Yes I like to have fun, yes sometimes I am still 12 and if you want to have adventure in your life – just add me. I had several messages from people who followed along just to see what I would do next. Never expected it, but it does make me happy to see others living vicariously through me and if it puts a smile on their face…I am happy. I am looking for a partner in crime, a Bonnie to my Clyde if you will. Although there maybe an asterisk by that statement, the jury is still out on that. But in the mean time I had such a blast with my friends exploring Vegas in the most unusual way.  That blog is coming out soon so be ready for a detailed account of our shenanigans!

3. I love the song Mirrors. My favorite version is this one.

4. It is snowing up north, in April, and I am laughing hard. It really sucks to be you and hence why I live in Texas, the greatest country…errr state in the world!

11159509_10153311297097962_5283471119770058671_n5. So I made this video while in Vegas poking fun at Matt “The Bear” Novakovich and his spears. See he sells them for $80/ea and autographed. You can make them yourself at Home Depot for $10. So while in Vegas I made a video saying I was going to pawn an original autographed spear at the famous Gold & Silver pawn Shop as seen on the TV show “Pawn Stars”.  Needless to say he has a great sense of humor and since we have been bantering in chat rooms every other day.  What a cool guy.

6. I think I am so grateful for all my friends. You know who you are, you have massive shoulders, you put up with my crap and I appreciate everything!

7. So what is the deal with Hummus and Blue Bell ice cream recalls? Its a good thing about ice cream because it is not on my diet! But I just started eating hummus and I kinda liked it…WTH?

8. So I am pretty sure Spartan race has jumped the shark for me. After two very grueling Battlefrog races, I traveled to do a Spartan Super, which is basically the same distance. All I can say is that it was easy. There was a ton of running and hardly any obstacles. Those they did have were really easy and I had no issues.  I even hit my spear throw for the first time ever.  So, I went burpee free, finished top 35 out of over 8,400 people and not to boast but I was also sick all week and day of the race and injured. Kinda makes me think how I would have done healthy. I’ll take it, but I really don’t need to do a bunch of these races this year.  I would rather travel to the Battlefrog races and battle to keep my wrist band.

9. I made it a week in Vegas and I did not gamble! I am so proud of myself. I also only had 1-beer and 1-drink the whole time. I really didn’t want those either, but sometimes peer pressure gets to you. Okay I take that back, I also had 2-beers after the race, but those don’t really count because I was so thirsty I just gobbled them up and that was really early in the day.

10. This is going to come as a shock, but after spending a week in Vegas one thing I was starting to dig was the mountains. I instantly became jealous of all the running they do in the mountains. So now I am very open to possibly moving or spending some time this summer in a place that has mountains so I can run up and down them. Who knows, the winter might not be so bad either as long as I can ski.

Bonus thoughts

Okay, I know I said the top ten, but there is apparently more in me so here are a couple more bonus things I think…

11. I am so grateful for getting into this sport I have come to love. I have met some amazing people and I continue to make new friends and acquaintances every week. Whether I am connecting with Facecrack friends in person that I have never met before or meeting total new people, they have been nothing short of awesome. Over the course of the past 2 weeks I have met some funny people. Sometimes it amazes me how different people are in person and once you crack that shell they are so funny. I have new friends from Colorado, Florida, Atlanta, BFE Georgia, Utah, California and Mexico (yes the country). So what do I think? I think I am blessed and I look forward to seeing more unicorn farts in my inbox!

12. Forks in the road can come in all shapes and sizes. I find myself standing at a new one. One direction leads to parts unknown, new adventures, new people and new possibilities.  The other leads to paradise, it leads to where I could call home, familiar faces, warm hearts and every one of those happy quotes you people post every day. This second path is also filled with new adventures, new responsibilities and endless possibilities. So the question is, where do you go? The decision is not mine alone, although it does feel like it is. So of course I have one side I am leaning to and where I want to go. Now don’t go getting all sappy on me, don’t read to much in to this, because I have not told you if this road was personal or professional or both? Hmmm…inquiring minds want to know I am sure. I guess you will have to stay tuned for this little nugget and see where I go.

13. I love coaching and motivating. I realize I post a bunch of stuff every week and I try to relate everything to my personal journey, but I want to thank every single one of you who take the time to read stuff like this. You message me privately and tell me I made a difference in your life and that means more to me than any medal I get at a race. This week I saw a friend ask for help, not from me, but just in general. She needed an accountability partner, someone to make her stay active and on track for her goal in two weeks. Sure I could have ignored it and just gone about my business. But you know what, I am not that type of person. So even though I had no sleep, catching a redeye flight home, getting in at 5:30am, staying awake all day, I still met her and walked step by step with her up and down hills. It didn’t matter to me, I was doing my job. Fast forward to the following day and I schedule a brutal workout, mostly for myself, but there she was doing it. I mean everything except for the dreaded monkey bars. So we finished and we made her do the monkey bars.  I could tell she had a ton of self doubt, but we pushed and she went. She did it, the whole length, without stopping! She finished and as I go to high five her, she busts out in tears. You see she had never done anything like that before, not even as a kid. That is what it is all about folks, that is why I help people and I have been my whole life. I get knocked because I sometimes give to much and get nothing in return. But it is not about me, so I am going to keep posting motivation and transformation stories and hopefully secretly inspiring others to live the life they want to live and that they can do anything they put their mind to.

14. Just throwing it out there, if anyone wants to sponsor me and help fund me to go to races, I would much appreciate it. And no I am not going to start a “Go Fund Me” account, I think that is just wrong to beg for money to go to races. Now if you wish to donate to me, that is something different all together.  I mean, hey I do have a birthday coming up and if you were to send me a card with money in it, who am I to refuse that?

15. So there is a special someone I need to thank. You see as much as I just said I like to motivate and inspire, sometimes the “Struggle is real” and it takes a lot to get me going. This year has been a bunch of ups and downs. The truth is, I rarely do anything after the Glen Rose Spartan race, that typically ends my year and then the cold winter and time change sets in. What that normally means to me is that I hibernate.  See you in March when it warms up is usually my M.O.  However, this year was much different. I met someone who changed me, inspired me and made me want to not be idol. Whether this person thinks so or not, they have had a direct impact on this years racing season.

You see, I started the year on fire in January. I was running, working out and I was the most active I have ever been in January. Then February came and laziness crept in. I had excuses and no matter how bad this person tried, I was an ass. I think this caused some serious damage in the friendship because I was just not feeling it, I had one excuse after the other.

  • it’s too cold outside
  • it’s raining
  • I don’t have a gym membership
  • I think I just sh!t my pants

I had a ton of excuses. March hit and the weather started changing and as usual so did my attitude. Unfortunately I wasn’t really prepared for my first race because I was lazy. Sure I did okay, I finished decent but I know I could have done better. So at the end of all this, there was a comment made to me which has stuck in my head since then. The comment was thrown so loosely I doubt they even remember saying it, however, the comment was:

quote“You know, if you trained harder, you could actually be a beast”

This person was absolutely right. So since then I have refocused on my training. I started running again and adding strength workouts to my day.  March was a stellar month, I put in a bunch of miles and I felt great! I even lost that winter weight I think I put on in February during my “comfy” stage.  So thank you, you know who you are and you need to know I am sorry for my stubbornness, you were right (damn that hurts to admit I was wrong!). So go ahead and do your “I was right” dance…you deserve it! See it was a win/win!

16. Okay so this week has two songs, well because I said so! This one I heard two weeks ago and it has stuck with me, I just love it. If you don’t well then you can suck it. Sam Smith and John Legend…come on man! Here is the video.

Until next time, my name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Transformation Story – The Mud Pixie

By: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

The Mud-Pixie

Not all transformation stories are created equal, what motivates one person to make a change in their lives may not necessarily be the same thing that motivates another.  Recently I was able to speak with Kimberly Easterling-Stewart, aka The Mud Pixie Kim recently debuted her new mud pixie look this past spring and while many people think her costume is “cute” there is a deeper meaning behind why she wears the costume.  Before we get into all of that, lets get down to the nitty gritty, who is Kimberly Easterling-Stewart?

Kim was an ordinary girl growing up in Texas, she was involved in sports, very athletic and she was a wrestler and played softball in high school.  She was so good in fact she scored a scholarship to play softball at Northwood University.  All was going great for Kim until after her first year of college.  Personal hardships ensued and she was unable to go to school for her sophmore year.  Faced with a difficult decision on what to do with her future, she took an easy way out. She ran off with her boyfriend at the time who was a military man.

Vincent Van Gogh once said “As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.”  I believe that after speaking with Kim, everything she has gone through to this point, has made her the person she is and her inner strength was forged.

The military years were to say the least, less than thrilling. This us where everything started to snowball into the place where this transformation truly begins. After having their first child, it started with trying to just lose the baby weight. Several years consisted of yo-yo dieting and no exercise. Then came the car accidents, two car totaling accidents in a six week time period. Having hurt her neck in these accidents, this is when she felt the first signs of depression.

Depression hits us all in different ways, sometimes we feel like we are not good enough, skinny enough, or worthy enough for all of the people in our lives and unfortunately we are the only one who can eventually tell ourselves we are and we can and we will. She told me “You don’t know how strong you are, until strong is the only choice.” Before we get to where Kim was able to say all of that, she had a few more hardships to endure. As if the accidents and neck injury was not enough, she found the holidays approaching in the fall of 2012. The only bright spot she had, is that they found out they were pregnant with their second child. Unfortunately on black Friday of that year, she lost the baby. This started a spiral of self loathing and more depression.  Not only was she dealing with the loss of the unborn child, but she had to also deal with the fact that her two sisters had also become pregnant and were having their babies around the same time she would have had hers.

quote“You don’t know how strong you are, until strong is the only choice”

kim1In 2013 fast approaching the year anniversary of her loss, she found herself weighing close to 220 lb at 5’5″. She had been battling her weight and was fluctuating between 168-200 lbs, but now she had finally had enough. In February of 2013, she saw an advertisement for “The Vampire 5k.”  She made a decision she was going to run that race, she went to Ehow.com and downloaded how to train for a 5k run and started working the plan. Kim stated: “I had this feeling, like I had wasted my life and I never lived up to my potential” and she was determined to do something about it.

quote“I had this feeling, like I had wasted my life and I never lived up to my potential”

Four weeks into her training, she was sticking to the plan, she started eating a little better, making smart swaps on eating healthier. Then a friend asked her to run in a race benefiting Lupus. She ran her first 5k, running the whole time in 33 min. Having felt such a sense of accomplishment, she continued to train, vowing to run at least one run a month.

Then on June 1, 2013, she ran her first obstacle style race, the Fair Park Urban Dash.  This race had become her motivation, where she feels it all started. Her grandfather passed away just days before this event. So along with her cousin, they dedicated this race to him. Kim is still weighing close to 185 lbs and felt like she was doing everything right. This event is where the light bulb went off, she fell in love with OCR.

By August she decided she would sign up for the Tough Mudder. Knowing this was a serious race, she decided she needed to get serious about everything.  Not only was she training, but she also went on an 8-week therapy session to get her neck, back and hips fixed from those accidents she had a few years before.  Better eating habits, running, physical therapy and spin class is what her weeks entailed. Then in October 4-weeks before the Tough Mudder, she started taking supplements. When she started this, she went from 175 lbs down to 158 lbs by the time she competed in the TM at the end of October.

quote“I want to be the best me I can be and the person I was always meant to be.”

She then went on to compete in Savage Race and The Spartan Beast to end the year.  In 2014 she made an all out dedication to the OCR world and as she says, “I want to be the best me I can be and the person I was always meant to be.”

After competing in the Atlanta Spartan Sprint, she felt after placing 3rd in her age group and 13th overall on day 2 in the open heats, she had a new goal. She was going to focus the remainder of the year to reach her goal of running in the elite heats instead of the open heats.

kim3So now we have come full circle since the beginning of the article.  Kim created the Mud Pixie persona to show everyone that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. Her costume, or her wings rather represent her transformation, on how she didn’t let depression beat her, she didn’t let her weight slow her down, she made the decision to reshape her mind, her body and most importantly her spirit. She has started this journey and she really shows no sign of slowing down.