Warrior Dash

Mud. Sweat. Beer.

There has been a ton of hype heading into the Warrior Dash out here in Huntersville, North Carolina.  There was a tremendous amount of excitement stemming from people in the local and surrounding communities; however, the threat of hurricane Irene made the potential postponement or all out cancellation of the Warrior Dash a realistic possibility. Fortunately, the hurricane changed course mid-week and the race went on as planned.

Per my usual routine, I indulged in some delicious r.a.w. sushi the night before the big event.  For whatever reason on shorter races, sushi is my fuel.  I relish in “filling up my fish tank” and then waking up the next morning and running, well, more like Superman on this day.

My close friends Adam & Michelle (who flew in from Cleveland for this race) decided to join for all the festivities.  Our wave was at 2:00PM and we decided to scope out the event by heading to the grounds at high noon.  As we were pulling into the lot, we could see people dressed up in a variety of costumes from Braveheart & samurai warriors to villains & superheroes.  No matter what age or gender, everyone was here to have a good time and get dirty!

While waiting at the Start line, the energy was positive and brewing. The weather was a typical 90-degree Charlotte summer’s day  (without humidity), partly cloudy skies and a slight breeze in the air.  The countdown began and we raced through the coral as fire was going off above and headed down the winding path for about 3/4 of a mile before hitting our first couple of obstacles.  We scaled over fences and crouched beneath barbed wire.  We came around a short bend only to come up to a bunch of different dumpsters  where we were hopping in & out, from one to the next. After this, we approached a bunch of uneven connected ladders and had to walk across maintaining our balance.  Of course, off in the distance we could see a major roadblock ahead:  a 30 foot wall.

As we approached the wall, there were 4 ropes dangling in front.  We carefully pulled our way up to the top of the wall, and flung our bodies over the side to come back down.  As a reward, we had a water station awaiting. Not much time to relax as the next challenge lead us through a trail path that weaved up & down throughout the forest another 3/4 of a mile.  As we approached the end of the trail, we had to get down on our hands & knees  in order to continue as there was an enclosed black tarp that we had to crawl underneath (about 100 feet).  Inside was total darkness.  There was a ton of dirt, dust and random arms and legs swaying to & fro.  I kept my head down and my eyes wide shut until I spotted a glimpse of daylight.

We popped out and rounded the corner.  In front of us, a muddy river!  We jumped from land to water, straddled logs in the river and managed to come out soaked to the bone.  One thought: keep moving!

As we headed up a hill, we reached our last mile of the Warrior Dash challenge.  Obstacle after obstacle lay ahead: crawling like a spider over jagged  cargo nets, hiking up stairs and sliding down fire poles, climbing more cargo nets and crossing over structures that had no safety nets below.  It was an adrenaline rush to say the least.

With the finish line in sight, we could see smoke and fire in the distance.  We ran towards the fire and hurdled two sets of burning logs only to run directly into a barbed-wired filled mud pit.  It was deep and beyond muddy…fantastic!  The mud pit spanned about 30 yards and we boot-camped it under the wire. Covered in mud from head-to-toe, we crossed the finish line and were given our rewards: a medal and a cold beer!

Before heading out we were hosed down by a water truck.  This was both fun and necessary!  As mud poured down our bodies, we headed towards the parking lot and stopped short of the massive pile of dirty shoes that warriors donated to charity.  These shoes would be cleaned and given to those that needed them most in the local community.

All in all, this race was the craziest one so far!  I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to partake in the future!  As my fellow warriors would attest:

It’s all about the Mud, Sweat & Beer!

Next year, I look forward to sharing this experience with both fellow warriors and newbie competitors,  and of course, compete for best warrior time and costume!

To see video from the race go to: Live Commentary as a Warrior

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Are you a warrior?

Live from the Warrior Dash

Here are a couple videos that were recorded at the Warrior Dash race in Huntersville, North Carolina…please feel free to comment!

Pre-race Warrior Dash Commentary:

Mud. Sweat. Beer! Warrior Dash Teaser

Head-to-Toe Wrap-up:

To read my step-by-step account of the race go to: Warrior Dash Run

The “Wizard of Knoxville”

Dementia diagnosis will not stop Pat Summitt

They’ve called Pat Summitt a ground breaker, a legend, an inspiration and the “Wizard of Knoxville,” a nod to UCLA’s John Wooden, who may be the only college basketball coach who can compare.

She’s recorded more than 1,000 victories at Tennessee in women’s basketball, eight national titles, two Olympic medals (silver as a U.S. player in 1976 and gold as Team USA women’s head coach in 1984) and enough memories for multiple lifetimes.

Only here comes the saddest news of all, Pat Summitt, at just age 59, has been diagnosed with early onset dementia.

Really though, nothing is certain, except this is one cruel disease.

“There’s not going to be any pity party and I’ll make sure of that,” Summitt told the Knoxville News-Sentinel in a statement that is as pure Pat Summitt as you’ll ever find.

And how brutal is it that a woman of such accomplishment, wisdom and impact might have her career cut short, robbing any number of players that would’ve enjoyed her guidance.

She’s an indomitable presence, who made her point about increased funding and opportunity and understanding through force of will, not whine. Pat Summitt didn’t claim people owed her or her women anything. She just proved they did.


Major ALS Breakthrough at Northwestern University

Researchers discover common cause of all forms of ALS

I have partnered with Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine to help create awareness for PPA research.  A couple days ago, this department had a MAJOR breakthrough in the researching and testing of the brutal disease ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The relentless persistence of a quarter century has finally paid of for senior author Teepu Siddique, M.D., Professor of the Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurosciences at Northwestern’s Feinberg School and a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

He said he was initially drawn to it because, “It was one of the most difficult problems in neurology and the most devastating, a disease without any treatment or known cause.”

The underlying disease process of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease), a fatal neurodegenerative disease that paralyzes its victims, has long eluded scientists and prevented development of effective therapies. Scientists weren’t even sure all its forms actually converged into a common disease process.

But a new Northwestern Medicine study for the first time has identified a common cause of all forms of ALS.




72 Hours of Silence

Rose Goes Quiet

To support Rose’s silence visit: www.justgiving.com/silentrose

Rose, who works at Connect, is doing a 3 day sponsored silence as part of our Fantastic 50 challenge – to raise money and awareness for Connect and people with aphasia.

“I am too lazy to run a marathon and I have already jumped out of a plane so I have decided to do… a sponsored silence!!

I will therefore not talk for 3 whole days! That is 72 hours or 4320 minutes or 259,200 seconds not saying a word!!! For many of you that know me well, this is going to be a real challenge!!

I am not doing this for fun but I am doing it for an amazing charity called Connect, who provide vital support for people with aphasia.

Every 11 minutes, 3 people will have a stroke, 1 of them will loose the ability to communicate. This is called aphasia and can happen to anyone at any time. Some people cannot speak at all, others can no longer read, write or use numbers.

This challenge will be no comparison to actually having aphasia however I hope it will highlight how devastating it can be when you loose your speech in an instant.”


My First Trail Race Run (10K)

Silence in the Woods

I have been looking forward to my latest race for quite some time.  Having never run a trail race before, I was told by many friends to purchase trail shoes as opposed to my normal running pair.  Trail shoes are made to better absorb the rough terrain and provide extra support around your feet.

I walked into my favorite running store, Run For Your Life, and went to get my bib for the race.  To my surprise, the employees behind the counter said that 11 bibs had been  “pre-stamped.”  I asked “What does that mean?” It meant there were giveaways like shoes, runnnig shirts, and other gear being raffled to a handful of runners post-race.  I took this as a good omen, purchased a pair of trail shoes and headed to meet my good friend Adam for a pasta dinner at Maggiano’s: gnocchi with vodka sauce and sausage…delicious!

The night before the race, I layed out my gear (superstitious -yea I’ll own it).  My alarm went off at 6:57 AM (yes another superstition) and I headed out to the race located at the White Water Center in Charlotte, NC.  The temperature was in the high 70’s by the start of the race and I felt really comfortable and ready to run.

The race had about 400 runners and I learned real quickly that passing people on a trail run was not something that was going to happen very often due to the narrowness, slope and tight angles of the path.  It was more single file leading into the woods which was an easy way to keep the pace.

Once inside the woods, I remembered what my good friend Christy said, “Make sure to watch your feet at all times!”  Excellent advice.  There were tons of roots sticking out, big dips & sloped inclines as well as miscellaneous natural debris scattered throughout the trail.

This race was so different than all the others because for the most part, it was utter silence. The only supporters along the way were a handful of Run For Your Life Employees at 2 water stations and directing the flow of the route.  It was so calm and peaceful to be jogging in the woods. Normally, I feed off the crowd cheering me on, but this serene quietness was a completely different type of atmosphere, which I was starting to love mile by mile.

The challenging part was balancing the quick dips versus the steeper inclines. While running downhill, I had to carefully slow down my body and use a lot more energy due to the sharp declines.  Contrastingly, on the steep uphills, I would quickly run up the path. I knew that if I went at my normal pace, I would expend too much energy and be too fatigued moving forward.  This tactic proved wise as I could recover at the top when the path leveled out.

Overall, the race was a winding and weaving trail with obstacles all along the way: avoiding numerous roots, running alongside the water and doing my best not to turn an ankle with the awkward slopes. This was a fantastic experience and without a doubt, will not be my last trail race.

I am already looking forward to the next one…

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Meeting A Living Legend

How I Got to Run Side by Side Bill Rodgers

22 Time Marathon WINNER Bill Rodgers Endorses Run4Papa!

I I was told there was a man named Bill who had run the Boston Marathon 4 times and would be the keynote speaker.  Whether it was because I was up at the crack of dawn, or just flat out didn’t hear the information clearly, I was thrilled to be part of any event partnering running with a local charity. I filmed the registration of the event, some warm-up exercises and did an introduction for our staff. I saw Bill speaking to some people, taking pictures, and signing autographs. It was sinking in that I had not heard the whole story about this man but I had to prep for the race.

We counted down from 10 and the race began.  I got out of the gate quickly as I had to film the start, portions of the race, and an interview with Bill afterwards.  I ran about halfway and stopped in order to film some of the runners.  As I saw Bill approaching (he had gotten a late start due to being swarmed by fans), I felt comfortable with my footage and continued running the second half of the 5K. He had was been running alone at a steady pace…

We struck up a conversation about running immediately and briefly discussed how international the sport has become over the past couple of decades.  “There are races anywhere and everywhere. No matter what the language or location, you can challenge yourself on any part of the globe,” said Bill.  My immediate curiosity got the best of me and I asked him, “Is it true you have run the Boston Marathon 4 times?” Without being pretentious or condescending he replied,

“Actually I ran it 17 times. I won it 4.”

To tell you I wanted to crawl in a cave and hibernate for a season or two is being awfully generous.

I am positive he sensed my embarrassment; however, we continued running and talked as if we had been friends for years. He was so grounded and friendly.  I asked him how many marathons he had won. “22. Boston 4 times, New York City 4 times, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm, Japan…” I asked him about the pressure of 3-peating the Boston Marathon from ’78-80 (he informed me of the exact dates ) and he just had a confidence about him that was contagious.

He just loves to run.

He asked me “Have you ever considered running a marathon?”  It was this question that lead me to explain the Run 4 Papa campaign. He mentioned he once ran the Beijing Marathon and came up 1 mile short. My face must’ve shifted color and expression as Bill chuckled and said,

“Well, I was trying to win it and not just finish!”

As we were nearing the finish line, he offered his full support for the cause and asked me if he could endorse the website on camera.  Here was a living legend offering his endorsement to raise awareness about PPA. I was floored and honored.

After our interview, Bill was kind enough to give me his contact information and said, “Make sure you call me when you get back to Charlotte.”

I guarantee this time I will be well prepared for our conversation…

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