My Spartan Adventure

Blood, mud, and barb wire,
Up mountains and over fire,
I AM SPARTAN, AROO!

It’s been one week since I became a Spartan – and I didn’t even have to look like Gerard Butler to achieve my new found status. All it required was 8+ miles of of mud and sweat, the overcoming of a number of treacherous obstacles, and a lot of grit. Running the Salt Lake City Super Spartan was honestly one of the most difficult things I’ve done both physically and mentally. And it was incredible!

Pre-race Spartan pic

Pre-race Spartan pic

It was a hot summer day in Utah, which meant temperatures were in the upper 90’s. Over the course of a little over 8 miles we had to wade through mud; climb under, over, and through a number of walls and cargo net obstacles; climb up ropes and pull things attached to ropes; we carried buckets of gravel uphill and hefted heavy stones; we tossed spears, did burpees, crawled under barbed wire, and jumped over flames. While thousands of people ran this same course that day, the victory I felt was personal. I’ve had a goal to get a team together and run this race since the beginning of the year. It was more difficult getting people to join my team than I thought it would be, but in the end, there were just enough of us. We trained hard for 6 months – admittedly we could’ve done more, or at least I could’ve. There were a number of times I felt like giving up; tossing in the towel and taking a nap instead. And even if I had, I don’t think my team would’ve let me. I learned a lot about myself and my ability to push myself further than I thought I could. Every ache and pain was worth it, just to prove to myself, that I am capable of accomplishing anything. I know that all sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true. It gave me a glimpse of what I could accomplish. Not only on the race course, but in life. Now, if you’ve never heard of Spartan Race, where have you been? The Spartan Race is one of many, in a long list of obstacle course races, each with different challenges and each drawing hordes of athletes to their various events. Their popularity seems to come from the fact that they are so much more than endurances races, and they aren’t just competitions of strength either; they challenge competitors to be more well rounded. This is what initially drew me to the Spartan Race. I’m not a fan of distance running, unless I have something to keep my mind occupied (ex: cross country running vs soccer). So to just run for miles and miles seems awfully dull – for those of you who love this I mean no disrespect, it just isn’t my particular cup of tea.

Post-race Spartan Glory!

Post-race Spartan Glory!

Another aspect that I love about the races, and didn’t fully appreciate until race day, is the sense of camaraderie and support along the course. In fact, unless you’re in the elite heat, it seemed like most racers weren’t concerned about beating you as much as they were with pushing themselves. It may be this way in other races, but I think these races take it to a new level. In a marathon I can’t help you run any of the miles, and I can’t run your miles on an obstacle race either, but in an obstacle race I can lend you my hand to offer some help over a wall or boost you up a to reach a ring. In essence, running it with friends, or making some along the way, means you have real physical and psychological support throughout the ordeal. We’re already halfway through 2015, what are you going to do to finish the year out strong? What memories will you create? Even though the pain of this first race is still fresh in my memory, I’m already planning my next one. Maybe you’ll join me in achieving Spartan glory, AROO!

A little dirt never hurt, right?

A little dirt never hurt, right?

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Adventure Movies

One of my great passions is film – watching them, talking about them, and I wish I knew more about making them. Films can take us to places we’ve never been, or even imagined. The best films can inspire us, make us to reflect, or motivate us. I like to think of movies as the gateway drug into my wanderlust addiction. As a kid I saw adventurers travel to exotic locations and I wanted to do that, and even today movies make me want to get my adventure on. So I decided to devote a post to some films that have fed my desires to travel (in no particular order).

 Indiana Jones – this is the quintessential adventure movie. The ultimate adventurer. This guy is rugged, he travels the world, speaks several languages, and is named after a dog. This guy is my adventure hero, but isn’t he everyone’s?

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – while the movie is nothing like the short story (that’s a discussion for another day) it was all Martina and I could do to not hop on our laptops and book tickets to some new destination. Walter Mitty is just a regular guy who finally steps out of himself and finds adventure. Like me, he’s just a man living his life, trying to make sure it doesn’t pass him by.
Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit – not exactly the travel most of us would have in mind – and giant spiders are a huge turn-off for me – but regardless, there are probably few films that compare to the adventure that each character has in these films. Not only do the characters see new and exciting things, but in many of them we see growth and change. That’s what travel can do to a person, it can change you and reshape your views of the world.

Up – perhaps the most touching Disney movie ever. When I see the love that Karl and Elie have for each other, I see me and Martina – especially their mutual love of adventure. I seriously don’t know where I’d be without Martina. And more importantly, I don’t know where I would go without Martina. She is my travel buddy and my best friend. Squirrel!
The Bourne Series – so this series is not exactly a travel series, but if my passport was filled with stamps and visas from all the countries that Jason Bourne has been to, it would be one mighty happy passport. Knowing several languages and martial arts wouldn’t be too bad either.

The Motorcycle Diaries – this film is one of the more thought provoking ones on my list. As the film states, “Let the world change you, and you can change the world.” Regardless of your feelings towards Che Guevara, and how he tried to change the world, this movie reminds us that traveling should change us; travel should cause us to grow. And maybe one day I’ll get to go on an epic motorcycle journey.
Star Wars Series – long ago in a galaxy far, far away… people were traveling at lightspeed and using their T-16’s to bullseye womp rats. Oh, and they were fighting galactic wars throughout numerous star systems. And don’t lie. If that Star Tours ride at Disney was real, you know you’d be booking your trip to ski the wintry peaks of the planet Hoth. Don’t we all sometimes feel a little like Luke – wanting to escape our mundane life for something more exotic?

The Muppet Movie – the original Muppet gang gets together for a good old fashioned road trip to make their dreams come true. Like any good adventurer Kermit meets others like him and forms friendships, over comes hardships, and follows his heart. There are some classic songs, and what road trip is complete without some singing?

These are just a few of the films that have inspired me to travel, and if you haven’t seen some of them, I hope you get the chance. If you have any suggestions for me, leave your list in the comments below. These adventure movies should help hold you over until your next grand adventure!

New Year…New Adventures

Sorry it’s been awhile since I blogged…guess I better add that to my list of New Year’s resolutions, huh?

Whether you get into the whole “new year, new you” thing or not, I think the beginning of a new year is a great time to review last year’s triumphs and short falls, along with plan for the upcoming year…even if January is almost over. So let’s start with a short look back at 2014:

2014 Successes:
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    • Boston turned 1!
    • Martina and I celebrated 3 years of happy marriage – yes all three years have been happy 😉
    • Finally met one of Martina’s host family’s from Brazil
    • Went to Orlando for a family get away
    • Hit my year mark at InsideSales.com and participated in my first golf tourney for work (didn’t win, but had a blast)
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    • Stayed at the Montage in Park City (it was a work conference)
    • Spent Thanksgiving in California with great friends and lots of great food
    • Benched 235 lbs (a new max for me)

     

    2014 Short Falls:
    I know I should make a list of things I would’ve liked to have done better at, but frankly, most of that stuff translates into what I’m going to be doing this upcoming year.

    2015 I have decided is going to be the year of doing difficult things. Maybe I’m the only one, but I find myself being too reactive to life – just taking things as they come, rather than facing it head on. Before I know it, the year has ended and I’m wondering what the heck did I do with my life? So this year I want to challenge myself. Really set some goals, not just silly resolutions. Commit myself to being the man I want to be, while still being happy with the man that I am.

    2015 Plan:IMG_2405

    • Run the SLC Spartan Super (June 27)
    • Take a family trip to Cambodia in the summer
    • Blog often (once a week – we’ll start from this week)
    • Recommit myself to studying Portuguese and Cambodian
    • Make it to 4 years of happy marriage with Martina
    • Hit 2 years at InsideSales.com
    • Cook more meals at home
    • And hopefully many other wonderful unforeseen adventures

2015 is gonna be a great year and I’m excited for you to share in my adventures! What makes you excited for 2015? 

Hiking Y Mountain

Just last week was Labor Day, and I finally fulfilled a promise to Lil’ Holly that I had made at the beginning of the summer: to hike “Y” Mountain with her. 

Before summer had even started, I asked Holly what were some things she wanted to accomplish over the summer. The one thing she said was that she wanted to hike “Y” Mountain. I loved the idea, BYU, and hiking. So I told her we would go. Fast forward through the summer and still no hiking. What the heck?! Nobody warned me that working a real full time job in the US meant that summer was just like the rest of the year – work everyday and run errands on the weekends. And Holly, being the darling she is, never bugged me about hiking because she knew how busy I was feeling at work with a new position and all. But the hike and passing summer weighed on my mind. 

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At the end of our hike up Y Mountain

Thankfully, my work takes labor day off and I knew this was the best shot I had to finally take her hiking. I think she was excited, it was her first real hike and I don’t know if she knew what to expect. So when we got there I told her we’d take it nice and slow and for her to be careful on the trail, but I was just wasting my breathe. She was a natural hiker. 

We decided to time our ascent, just to see how fast/slow we could get up the mountain. Now. I’m not in the best shape of my life, but hiking up the mountain reminded me immediately of that fact. The hike isn’t that difficult, it’s steep, but only about 1.2 miles up. No big deal, but man, the shape I’m in is not fit. Holly on the other hand, would run up to the bend of the switchback and then run back. How did it not occur to me that this little soccer player, who runs up and down the field – pretty much nonstop – would out hike me? Duh!

So need less to say, the time it took is to get to the top (34 minutes) was more my time to get to the top, subtract about 10 minutes and that would be Holly’s speed. We hung out on top, went from the top of the Y to the bottom of it. Then we went back down, cause that’s typically what we do on hikes.

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Panorama of Utah Valley

It was beautiful to look over the valley, and it was neat to be able to see 3 LDS Temples (one is admittedly still under construction). Holly sure was a trooper for putting up with such a sluggish guy, but it was a great little adventure to take with her. Maybe next time we’ll be able to get up the mountain faster – I’ll just need to do some training first.

Soggy Camping

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You mean we’re going to be here all night?

A couple weekends ago (sorry I’m a little behind) some friends invited Martina and I to go camping with them. It was a pretty perfect deal: they would find the camping spot and plan the meals. All we had to do was bring our stuff up and camp. To top it all off, they were bringing their little boys (ages 2 and 6 months) so we didn’t have to feel weird about bringing along our little guy for his first campout! A day away from work, spending time with friends and family, and just relaxing out in nature, how could we say no!

As I mentioned in another post, camping is a great way to escape and recharge from time-to-time. It was fun to sit around watching our kids explore and play in the mud – even though I knew it meant Boston was going to need a major bath. Our kids would follow each other around and share toys. While we adults sat and talked, or just relaxed in the sunshine while a breeze rustled the trees.

As the day progressed, clouds started to fill the sky, not the fluffy kind that look like monkeys and dragonflies. The kind that look like, “Oh crap.” But we decided to stick it out; we were after all having steak, dutch oven potatoes, and dutch oven pumpkin cake for dinner – and I love me some dutch oven cooking. The rain cam – a small trickle – while we ate. We gathered under the tarp over our picnic table and stayed pretty dry. The rain remained light and even stopped. Unfortunately, our friends’ kids were getting really cranky and in the end our friends decided one of them needed to take them home rather than stay another night (we weren’t too far from ours homes and they had come up a day before us). So my friend’s wife packed up the kids and headed home for the night, promising to return for breakfast (again, we were gonna have dutch oven breakfast, so who would want to miss that?).

Not even an hour had passed before the storm gods decided to grace us with their presence. The rain returned, with reinforcements. We did what we could to keep things out of the rain, but it just kept coming. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled. We stayed under the tarp, hoping against hope the rain would subside, but with no luck. In the end we decided to just call it a night. In the short time it took us to get from the picnic table to the tent we each become decidedly more soggy.

The rain, lightning, and thunder continued and though there was a brief let up in the middle of the night, and I thought it was over, the storm gods had tricked me. It started up stronger than before. The tent kept us dry and the new sleeping bags Martina and I bought kept us warm (though Martina needed a couple extra blankets to get to that cozy warm she likes to sleep in). And while it wasn’t the most restful of nights for me, I considered it a blessing that the lightning and thunder didn’t wake Boston up, who I think actually had a really restful night.

When morning came we made a fire, set things out to dry in the sun, and started getting breakfast ready – a hardy mountain man breakfast. I thought Martina was going to be a little cranky about the poor weather, but on the contrary, she was so excited to have made it through the night. She said it made us hard core campers and she was glad we had stuck it out. My wife rocks.

We got home exhausted – weird how relaxing in nature can make me so tired – but it was an awesome adventure. Our friends definitely came through on an awesome weekend, we might even make it an annual event to get together and camp for a weekend during the summer. Annual adventure, count us in!

Natural Born Explorers

Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like to explore? Someone who hates adventure? I don’t think I ever have. Granted, we all explore or adventure in our own ways. Many of us adventure in far off countries – some of us on a shoestring and other with a silver spoon. Many of us explore through the use of the internet or through books. But no matter how you explore, you love it. Why is exploration so central to our lives? What makes us long for adventure? Well, you could say we’re born with it.

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What is this? Can I eat it?

This will seem off topic, but I love being a dad. Everyday I see my son learn something new, and in small way, I get to experience the world in a fresh light. Everything is so fascinating to him – from the balloons at a birthday party to the little potato bugs on the sidewalk. He loves to makes silly noises, hit things, bite things, and grab things. He wants to understand everything around him, and with the exception of some of the more dangerous or disgusting items, we encourage him to explore. So from the beginning, we’re explorers.

Exploring is how we learn – about ourselves, about the world, about everything! Life is exploration. Athletes explore the boundaries of human performance, scientists explore the laws of physics, artists explore the possibilities of imagination, and the list goes on.

So if everything we do can be looked at as exploration, if everyday can be a new journey ask yourself: how do you adventure? 

Boy Scouting

My little tent in the woods

My little tent in the woods

Like a lot of guys, I was once a Boy Scout of America. In fact, I even became an Eagle Scout (the highest rank in the Boy Scouts of America). I can’t say that I am a hard core outdoor wilderness guy, but I do enjoy camping, hiking, and the great outdoors from time to time. Now as an adult I am a Boy Scout leader in my neighborhood; working specifically with the 11 year old scouts. This past weekend was one of three campouts we go on as a group.

It had been a long time since I’d last been camping, and to be with a group of 11 year old boys is a whole other story. The first thing I noticed when I got to our camp was just how quiet it was. No traffic. No loud music. No technology hum. All the sounds that make up the background noises of my life seemed to vanish. I felt a little guilty pulling out my iphone to check if I had service — nothing. It was so refreshing.

The camp we were at was an organized scout camp, so there were camp programs and activities. The first night we walked about a quarter mile on what was called the Honor Trail. Every few meters or so we would stop as a camp councilor would talk to us about one aspect of the Scout Law. We were each asked to walk in silence and with our flashlights off. It gave each of us time to reflect on becoming a better person. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see constellations above us. It was beautiful. The moon eventually came out and my eyes had become so adjusted that the moonlight seemed incredibly bright.

The view at 7 am after 2.5 miles of hiking

The view at 7 am after 2.5 miles of hiking

The next morning we went on an early morning hike – 5 miles before breakfast (which for me is an accomplishment). The hike was great. The quiet morning before it got too hot and the incredible scenery that I don’t get from my office’s windows. Added to that was the success of each young scout that completed this trek – waking up early, on a Saturday, to do something a lot of them weren’t even sure they wanted to do. By they end, they all agreed it had been worth it.

A part of my faith is to set Sunday apart as a sacred day; to take that time and reflect on how I can serve others, improve my relationship with God, and work on being a better person. I think camping can work the same way. I get caught up in the daily grind of life and taking the occasional overnighter to get away from it all is empowering. Camping is one of my favorite summertime adventures (we’ll talk about winter campouts another time). And hopefully I’ll get to do more.