24 Jun

The Road to St. Cloud

I have been feeling really good lately. Summer is here. Things have been going well at work. I got a new pair of kicks. And most importantly, I started going to a CrossFit gym again.

Since June 1st, I have been hitting up classes at CrossFit Kingfield four times per week. The return to a more consistent training schedule has improved my overall mood and well-being.

Riding strong on this high, I find myself itching to compete again. I feel like I hit a giant reset button when I stepped into my new box, but it’s not like starting from scratch. There are definitely improvements to be made in my lifting form and technique and I can always get stronger. But I have now almost 4 years under my belt and have proven to myself that I am resilient and that I am capable of achieving success. It’s time to get back at it. I want to keep up this pace with my training schedule, lock in my nutrition and make this summer dedicated to my continued improvement.

With that said, the Granite Games are now on my horizon. It is a three-day competition taking place in September up in St. Cloud, Minnesota. These are the same games that originally made me want to compete. There is a four-week qualifier that just started. It is required if you want to compete at the individual level. I have my sights set on entering the Open Team scaled division and so the qualifier isn’t necessary, but I want the challenge (and the access to early registration).

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So this past Sunday morning after some poor planning of going to the 11am class at CrossFit Kingfield where we did “Fran”, I drove over to Solcana CrossFit at 12:30pm to do the qualifier with my buddy Ryan. He and I met through our previous gym and we have competed against each other at Freeze Fest and the Dakota Games in 2014. Ryan has made so much progress over the last year that I am still chasing him, but he now has an amazing head start.

My Solcananut friends Eric, Lara, Josh, Sampson and Mike all took time from their own lifting routine to watch and cheer us on. They counted reps and kept track of the clock and made sure we got back on the bar and kept pushing.  The burpees were fine and actually felt like rest, but those hang squat cleans, even scaled at 115#, were brutal. My form was not as good as it should be and I was making a long workout feel even longer. Nevertheless, I trudged through and got 5  full rounds. Ryan got 6 rounds and 9 reps. We had a good recovery meal right after of beer, burgers and sweet potato fries.

Week 1 is in the books. I now have the weekend of September 12th circled on my calendar as it is going to approach really quickly. I’ve got a team in place. It is a three-person team of the same gender and so I have Ryan on board and we’ll be joined by Nick Zen, who lives here in Minneapolis but was also on the Nicaragua trip and at Power Monkey Camp with me. All our group/partner workouts in Playa Madera emphasized how much fun being on a team can be. Nick brilliantly suggested we even call ourselves Team Diacachimba!

16 Jun

What I Did For Love

Kiss today goodbye, the sweetness and the sorrow…

Last week was interesting to say the least. It all started by saying, “Yes!” A local talk radio channel here in the Twin Cities – MyTalk 107.1 – was hosting a contest to win a “mystery date” with Tam, one of the co-hosts of the morning nine to noon show. They were looking for bachelors like myself to enter online and so I did.

I was one of eight whose picture and profile was then placed online and listeners could vote for their favorite and the top four guys would go on a group date with Tam – a boat ride on Lake Como. Her co-hosts would be along for the ride and at the end they were going to pick two guys who would each get a one-on-date with Tam.

With the feverish support of my sister and my more social-media prone friends, I was boosted to the final four and found myself speeding from a work event in Champlin across the metro to St. Paul to make sure I got on the love boat before it embarked on a three hour tour.

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With a few minutes to spare, I made the boat and actually had a really fun time with the group. (Check out their recap.) Tam’s radio co-hosts asked the expected questions – best concert, cats or dogs, tattoos – as we went around the lake with two college kids behind the wheel from the rental company, who laughed the whole time in between telling us about the dead people that were found in the lake.

To drag things out, they didn’t pick the final two that night. Instead, I found myself live on the air with the women (around the 11-minute mark) explaining some of my answers. Then, despite the chagrin of my mother and sister (who were now both fully invested), I was not selected.

So you might be asking yourself what does this have to do with health and fitness and competition? I’ll get to that.

As I am sure you noticed the similarities behind the mystery date contest and The Bachelor, it was no less than perfect timing that producers from the show were at the Mall of America hosting auditions this past weekend. I jokingly posted about how it was fate and how my rejection was on leading to this next chapter on “my journey”.  In the back of my head, I knew I wasn’t kidding about going. I was saying yes again.

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Thus my Saturday afternoon was spent sitting in the rotunda with random other men and women – whether or not it was ill founded – who all thought they had a shot at being picked to be on TV and fall in love. I questioned why I was there. But I kept coming back to the thought, “Why not?” And so I waited and eventually went and did a 5-minute interview with a producer for the show and answered some generic questions and then showed myself out when it was over.

I might sound facetious giving the goofy nature of this very true story, but applying for the radio date, being on that boat, going on air and auditioning for The Bachelor was important to me. It was all about me feeling confident enough to put myself out there. To abandon all fear that I was going to be embarrassed or fail, which mind I did for sure at winning the date with Tam (and I am pretty sure the casting directors aren’t knocking down my door anytime soon). But who cares? I’ve lost before. I’ll lose again.

The fact is that I had fun. I took a risk. I had an experience. And it is all ridiculous and silly and my friends will give me a hard time about it and it will be a favorite anecdote to tell at the bar, but I’d rather have a series of misfortunate events than life be a non-event at all. You try, you fail, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

Won’t forget, can’t regret, what I did for love

09 Jun

From a Worrier to a Warrior

Today is my birthday. I turned 33 years old. It is a day wrought with nostalgia and warm memories of childhood celebrations, like the party I had in my backyard where my Dad set up balloons in the trees and let me and my grade school friends shoot at them with a  BB gun, and also adult merriments, like when I went with my two best buddies to a gun range in Las Vegas. Not all birthdays are as loud and exciting. Today’s is one of more quiet reflection as I blow out the metaphorical candles and make a wish for the year ahead.

My birthday wish is derived from something Paleo Nick talked about over dinner one night on my recent trip to Nicaragua. He spoke passionately to the group about how he wanted us to take the week to be active and healthy, but also find time to relax and cancel out the noise. He hoped that we would embrace the local culture and the unknown that we would encounter on our stay. Nick also talked about his goal to turn “O”s into “A”s.  He wanted to help us transform from wOrriers into wArriors.

“ALL worry resides in the FUTURE which has NOT yet occurred.” – Dr. Daniel Peters

The differences between worriers and warriors are clear. I won’t belabor the point. Rather, I will share that I thought about this a great deal over the course of the week in Nicaragua and ever since I returned. Though Nick presented it with different semantics, it is the same issue I have been struggling with since I was a kid and writing about on this blog. I want to stop worrying, being so risk adverse, fearing failure. Instead, I want to embrace the life I know I can lead in which I think big and do big.

I have seen in the past what happens when I am a warrior, when I go out and compete in the world, when I choose fight over flight. It leads to awesome things like moving to Italy, Muay Thai training in Thailand and white water rafting in Costa Rica. It also leads to buying my first house and getting the new job at work that I wanted. The worrier might show up for the race, but the warrior is there to win.

So my birthday wish is to be a warrior everyday. And as I think about that statement, I think about all the times I have been a warrior and the lessons learned. Taking improv classes and getting up on stage in New York City to perform taught me to say “Yes”! Living in Rome showed me how to “be Italian”, which to me means embracing la bella figura, a life in which you present your best self to the world with confidence. At the CrossFit gym, I’ve learned to be humble and have hustle as being a warrior means putting in the work and sweat but not at the expense of others. Finally, as cliché as it sounds, my life in real estate has taught me to always be closing – be disciplined but creative to drive forward until you find success.

I know I have a warrior spirit. It has been hidden in the past by a litany of negative thought and apathy. But when it is awakened, like in Nicaragua when I went surfing it showed itself by getting out in the water and trying to getting up on that surf board again and again no matter how many times you fall off. And sometimes when you stop worrying, you catch the wave and it is pure joy.

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28 May

Murph 3.0

Memorial Day has now become synonymous for me with Murph. For the third year in a row, I completed the Murph workout, which consists of a 1-mile run, 300 squats, 200 pushups, 100 pull-ups and another 1-mile run. And for the second year, I did it while wearing a 20 pound weight vest.

Murph is a CrossFit WOD that honors Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in the line of duty. It has become an awesome annual tradition for CrossFit gyms across the United States to gather in the morning for this brutally long workout and follow it with a celebratory BBQ.

I was invited to partake in the “festivities” over at Solcana CrossFit. Last year, my buddy Josh and I trained for a few weeks with the weight vest. This year, I didn’t do any training at all to prepare but let Josh convince me to do it with the vest again. “I’m sure you’ll be fine.” I was reluctant as I have not done a regular CrossFit class (and especially hesitant because I haven’t done any kipping pull-ups) since December 31st. But coming back from Nicaragua with a fire lit under my ass to be a warrior and get back after it, I decided why the hell not.

As I ticked off round by round, I kept reminding myself that I’ve done this before and thus I was capable of finishing again. My rep system – originally 15 squats, 10 pushups, 5 pull-ups – deteriorated after I hit the halfway mark. The pull-ups were the hardest for me and so I needed a break and started to focusing on finishing up the remaining squats. Total mistake as by the end I was left with 40 push-ups and 30 pull-ups to complete. And that eventually led to having just 20 pull-ups alone before I could start on the second mile. Not the most fun way to finish.

A few people commented that I entered a bit of a Zen like state. That I seemed very serene on the pull-up bar and that I had a much calmer resolve than years past. The constant cheering and support of all everyone watching and working out along side me helped a ton. And I was especially buoyed by having my friends Josh and Ryan in my heat also wearing their weight vests.

Overall, I finished a few minutes slower than last year but I felt so much better than years past. I sprinted the last 50 yards thanks to a second wind that came from the elation I felt by being back in a CrossFit gym, being physically able to do such an intense workout and being surrounded by great people. I felt blessed.

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25 May

Thinking

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can!

– Walter D. Wintle