How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

read more
6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

read more
NYC Marathon: Goof Recap

NYC Marathon: Goof Recap

If you didn’t have an opportunity to read the epic writing in the previous post, I discussed the reason “why” I ran the NYC Marathon, then I highly recommend that you do.  Not just because the writing was fantastic, but it is my hope that the recap will be more emotionally moving.

Delta carried us to New York City and back with no issues.  I was upgraded to the business class on my departing flight, and returned to Tampa in economy class.  Even with my average size, I felt extremely cramped in economy.  Scott and his six-foot-one-inch frame looked extremely uncomfortable.  It is obvious, that Delta increased their upgraded business class at the expense of the comfort of the economy class passengers.  My suggestion to anyone flying Delta to the NYC Marathon, just include the cost of the upgrade if the flight it over 3 hours.

The plans were made well in advance for room and board.  After each of us declared our opinions for a hotel of choice, one of our teammates found a condo in Chelsea that would accommodate all of us comfortably and provide a full kitchen to save a little money on meals.

Per an email from VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) we were to pick up the keys at a local pizza restaurant located next door to the building housing the condo.

Team Tampa PKD arrived around 4 pm and the employees working that afternoon had absolutely no idea what we were talking about.  Of course, we called the management company and were basically told they did not receive the contract.  When we had the contract in hand we called the agency back but no one would answer our calls.

Here we were, in New York City, on marathon weekend, not to mention the third and fourth game of the World Series, homeless.

Teammate Kevin O’Brien to the rescue.  Kevin works for a landscape development company and happens to travel quite a bit, which was lucky for us.  With his Hilton Honors status we were able to procure two rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn located in Tribeca.  Thank you Kevin.

The rooms were updated, immaculate and comfortable.  Another, nice little value add of the Hilton Honors was the choice of extra points or free breakfast.  Kevin being the generous person he is, opted for the free breakfast for us which again helped save a little bit of money.  Again, Thank you Kevin.

With all of us now settled, we headed to the Javits Center to pick up our NYC Marathon packets.  The bibs numbered up to 72,999.  It still amazes me how easy it is to retrieve a bib, swag and t-shirt at the expo.  It runs like a well oiled machine.

NYC Marathon The Javits Center

The Javits Center

There is a booth for every few thousand bib numbers.  The athlete walks up to the booth that includes their bib number, shows ID and their registration card.  Then they receive their NYC Marathon bib and other instructions, verify their info and then walk towards the t-shirt area where on the way, they pick up a plastic swag bag that also serves as the gear bag for the race.  The official NYC Marathon t-shirt area is well-marked with a line for the different sizes and within a few minutes of walking into the expo, the athlete has bib, swag and t-shirt.

NYC Marathon The Expo

That isn’t the most exciting part of the  NYC Marathon expo.  There are vendors from all over the country whom give runners have the opportunity to try and buy the latest gear and gadgets.

One aspect of the expo I really enjoy, is the aura and feeling of the environment.  There is an excitement in the air of the larger expos that increases my heart rate a little and excites me to race.  It is probably one of my most favorite parts of any race weekend.

NYC Marathon Team Tampa PKD minus Karen

The following day we made another visit to the expo simply to walk around and make some purchases.  I found a couple of vendors that I had met at other races  and made some new contacts for product reviews.  Stay tuned.

I have loved New York City since the first moment I stepped into Manhattan years ago.  I have a lot of friends here, and I just really enjoy the pace and excitement of the city.

NYC Marathon NYC Times Square

There is always one place, that is mandatory to visit, at least once, every time I am in town.  John’s Pizza.  I couldn’t believe my ears, when Rich and Kevin decided not to partake.  It was their loss, so Scott and I headed over to John’s for lunch.  Carb loading, baby, I just love it.

I could write a full post on John’s, so I wont go into the heavenly scrumptiousness of their pizza here, but trust this self-proclaimed, pizza connoisseur, when I say the explosion of flavors that emanate from each bite, redefines the word delicious.

NYC Marathon Brad & Scott at John'sNYC Marathon Brad digging inNYC Marathon The Pie

Saturday night, we were scheduled to have dinner with the PKD Foundation and the other runners from different areas at Carmine’s.  Scott, Kevin, Karen and I were all pretty familiar with the city and had even known of Carmine’s as it is pretty well-known.

That night we entered the subway and got off at 42nd street in order to head over to 44th where Carmine’s was located, as we started up the stairs from the station, Scott mentions the address which made Kevin and I do a double take.  2400 W Broadway, which was Broadway and 90th street.  At the moment we were on 44th st which means we were 46 blocks away.  That was a few miles from where we were at that point.

Of course like men we decided that maybe the address was wrong and went up anyway.  As it turns out, it was correct.  There was a newer Carmine’s uptown and we were in the wrong place and already fashionably late.

It ended up working out for us again.  We caught the subway up to 86th and when we arrived, food was just being served.  How long could this luck hold, right?

The dinner was fantastic and we met a bunch of really amazing people who were just as passionate about running for PKD as we were.

NYC Marathon PKD Runners NYC Marathon Carmines Table

Like good little runners we went back to the hotel and retired for the night in anticipation for the NYC Marathon the next morning.

NYC Marathon The Night Before clothes layout

As I mentioned both in the last post and in my NYC Marathon recap from last year; the logistics for this race are not the most convenient.  It involves a ferry to Staten Island then a bus to security, a decent walk to the assigned village and finally another walk to the specific corral.

An announcement came out from the NYC Marathon staff, about two months prior to sign up for transportation to the start and of course we all missed and ended up getting assigned the 5:45am ferry to Staten Island.  Since three of us had already experienced the ferry and knew that there was no accountability, we decided to just take the 7am ferry instead, not only giving us a little more time in the morning, but also keeping us out of the chilly temps for a couple of hours.

The lesson I learned here was there are two choices, either go by the scheduled time and arrive with a lot of time to spare, sit around have some coffee and bagels while waiting for the start, or go a little later and hope to make it to the corral at the time of your scheduled start.

We took the latter ferry and ended up having to wait for two ferries to get over to the island and then when finally getting on the bus, the traffic was so heavy we ended up having to rush to the corrals in order to make the 9:40 start.  It was probably perfect for the rest of the team that had later starts, but for Rich and I it was a little tight.  Personally, I do prefer the latter.

NYC Marathon Statue of Liberty from Ferry

I found my green village, dropped off my gear bag with my long sleeve shirt and pants, and headed to the corral just prior to the 9am cut-off to enter the corral.  Now I had about half-an-hour to stretch and use the portlet one last time.

I was talking to a woman from Basel, England when I heard my name being called.  Ryan Wallace, was a Facebook friend and runner I met at last year’s race.  A really fun guy to hang with, so after chatting for a bit we found we were looking at accomplishing the goal of 3:50 or better.  Score!  Someone to run with.

NYC Marathon Start Corral

In the Start Corral

They opened up the corral to head closer to the start line around 9:30am, and just after the final note to one of the most beautiful renditions of our national anthem I have ever heard, sung by opera singer (and runner) Susanna Phillips Huntington, and announcements by the executive director, the gun went off and we were running.

The NYC Marathon is the largest marathon in the world.  Largest meaning the most athletes run the course of any marathon in the world..  This year there were over 50,000 finishers.  It boasts spectacular views, fantastic support from the spectators, and a challenging course.  The route takes the runners through all five major boroughs of the city, starting in Staten Island, crossing the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn, heading north into Queens crossing the 59th St bridge, then into Manhattan crossing the Queensboro Bridge, north into the Bronx over the Willis Ave Bridge, turning south back into Manhattan over the Madison Avenue bridge and then finally the incline to the finish line in the heart of Central Park.

The experience this year was better than last, as the temperatures were much better as we started around 55 degrees Fahrenheit  and just a little breeze versus the 30 degree temps and 33 mph winds from 2014.

Ryan, his friend, and I started the NYC Marathon conservative for the first couple of miles, but as we rounded the first 5k I noticed we started to increase our pace.  I only was witness to it due to calculating my 5k under 27 minutes, which being under a 9 minute mile that soon, concerned me a little, but I was feeling really strong.

The spectators in the NYC Marathon are everywhere and they clap, yell and scream not only for their family and friends, but for any one they seem to be inspired by.  Statistics pretty much show, that even know there were over 50,000 athletes running this race, and hundreds of thousands of finishers in marathons all over the world, less than 1% of the population has finished a marathon.  In other words there were a lot of people to be inspired by during this race and the spectators expressed that.

NYC Marathon brad behind ryan

The Goof peeking out behind Ryan

Ryan and I ran together up to about mile nine, constantly telling each other to slow down, yet neither of us could hold a slower pace for very long.  About that point, a pressure emanating from my bladder was increasing to a point where I was just not comfortable any longer, so I speeded up to the mile 10 aid station to relieve myself.  My thinking was speed up, use the facilitates and then speed back up just enough to catch Ryan again.

Unfortunately, we didn’t cross paths again during the race.  I was out there on my own, all by myself.  It was just me and 50,000 of my closest friends.

There was plenty to see as I continued on my NYC Marathon journey.  Achilles International volunteers were out in droves this year with guides helping blind and other challenged runners through the race.  Guides would run in a formation with one tethered to the blind runner and then three-to-four others running on each side of them constantly helping to clear a path through the crowd.   It was so motivating, that I knew somewhere down the line in my own journey I would have to help like that in some way in the future.

As I crossed the 13.1 mile marker of this NYC Marathon, and saw the clock I realized that I had been running for an hour and fifty minutes.  That for me was fast, but I was still feeling really strong.  The sights of the area’s architecture, parks, people and the smells of the local restaurants were consistently keeping my mind occupied as I just let my legs decide what they were going to do.

I was concerned though.  I know enough about myself, that keeping this pace would have it’s consequences toward the final miles.

My favorite bridge on NYC Marathon course is the Queensboro bridge.  It feels like it never ends, but the view of Manhattan and the Hudson is spectacular.  Not to mention, the completion of the bridge is a u-turn with a horde of spectators that it feels like a roar of excitement is exuded from them.  I felt a boost of energy when I crossed mile 16.

I was actually a little impressed with myself as I hadn’t really slowed as of yet.  It is usually around this mile marker that begins the stiffness of the previous miles.

The next checkpoint for me is usually mile 18, but that too came and went without any real pain.  My inner dialogue started having delusions of grandeur of possibly finishing the race around the 3:40 mark which be a huge PR for me.

As I crossed the Willis avenue bridge, I felt the start of a twinge in my left leg and a smile crept across my face and out loud I said to myself,”There it is.”

The NYC Marathon mile 20 clock showed I was two hours and fifty-two minutes into the race, which was already better than last year.  My thinking at that point was that I could pretty much slow to a ten minute mile at this point and still cross under four hours, but that didn’t happen.

Mile 21 came at just three hours which was a first in a while for me.  I am usually only at 20 by three hours and here I was a full mile closer to the finish.  My period of optimism was cut short by a stiffness in my right leg that quickly became painful.

NYC Marathon Starting to hurt

I walked though the next NYC Marathon aid station and grabbed a banana from the hand of a volunteer thinking just get some more glycogen to my legs so I finish this last five miles.

What little stride I had became periods of walking between miles 22 and 23 as the pain started to sear and engulf the rest of my leg.  It was getting harder and harder to bend my right knee as the stiffness was setting in.

Central Park came and the crowds were getting louder and more dense.  I did not want to walk through the park with all these people.  I wanted to run in strong, but the pain was getting more and more intense.  I actually yelled at myself, “C’mon legs.  WTF are you doing!!!”

NYC Marathon Almost There

My mind drifted to Erika at that moment.  As I was trying to run stiff-legged and just suffer through this intense pain, I thought that this frustration and uncomfortable feeling must be what Erika feels all the time.  The disappointment at feeling run down, the pain that comes with these huge cysts on her Kidneys and the eternal uncomfortable feeling that keeps her from sleep and just enjoying life, must be one hundred times worse that what I was feeling.

If Erika had to continually go through this pain, then I could at least endure it until I reach the finish line.

I didn’t stop running, no matter how much it hurt.  I thought about Erika and the last couple of years of misery she must have been going through, and how Jennifer would also have to also have a painful times ahead through her recovery from donating a kidney.  It kept me going as I really felt like I was going through it for them.

I am not a totally idiot, I know that running the NYC Marathon of which I enjoy doing, really would do nothing for either of them.  It was the fundraising and support where we as a team were doing the most good.  Maybe it was for me.  Maybe because I was not able to donate my kidney, that I the pain I was feeling now was so that I could empathize with both of them.

NYC Marathon The Finish

The NYC Marathon finish line was just as glorious as the other marathons I have completed.  I was extremely happy to cross in 3:56 and at least beat my time from last year by about 10 minutes.

My official NYC Marathon finisher was medal handed to me, I was congratulated by a volunteer and ushered through to take continue the long mile walk to retrieve my gear bag.  I was engulfed on all four sides with athletes as we all did the marathon shuffle through the park.  There was a sense of peace and a little giddiness that filled the air.

NYC Marathon Medal FInish

We all did something extraordinary today.  Whatever the reason “why”, we were bound at that moment by the accomplishment and conclusion of a journey that started with the decision to embark, the hours of training and the final step across the NYC Marathon Finish LIne.

NYC Marathon Stepping Across the finish

Once dressed in dry clothes, I found Rich and we headed out to The Keg Room which was where Team Tampa PKD would gather back together.  As Rich and I were in the first wave, where he PR’d at an incredible time of 3:27, we arrived first.  Kevin, whom was actually in the last wave to take off, showed up next followed closely by Karen and finally Scott.  Everyone finished and accomplished what they set out to do, but I was most proud of Scott.

NYC Marathon Keg Room

Scott had micro tears in his gastrocnemius muscle (Calf) and had been trying to rehab it for the last couple of weeks.  I really didn’t think he would finish the NYC Marathon and we all told him it would have been ok if he didn’t .  He did though and under 5 hours with walking.  He also said that he felt like he didn’t feel like he did anymore damage.

NYC Marathon

Scott Bragan

I am proud of the whole team.  Team Tampa PKD was able to raise over 20,000 for PKD, finish the NYC Marathon and, most importantly, find a kidney donor for Erika.

NYC Marathon

Team Tampa PKD – (L to R) Scott Bragan, Rich O’Dea, Karen Dempsey, Brad Minus, & Kevin O’Brien

 

What kind of challenge are you partaking in or plan to journey towards?

Carpe Vitam!

NYC Marathon 2015: The Why

NYC Marathon 2015: The Why

My Why – PKD

The human brain is an advanced computer that controls many different systems.  The body is like a room full of servers each independently managing a different system with one major system, the brain, as the master controller for all of them.

When the master controller has a difficult task to undergo, the systems will cluster together in order to complete the task as efficiently as possible.  If one of the systems begin to fail, it doesn’t mean the task will not be accomplished it just means another system will take over the lack of work.  The work may not be handled as efficiently, but nonetheless, it will be completed.

Only when the master controller issues a command to stop will the other systems desist what they are programmed to do.  The question would be “Why did the Master Controller issue the command?”

This long analogy comes right down to a quote I use all the time.  Internally, and with my client athletes.  “The mind will quit 100 times before the body does.”  Every excuse will come to mind while an athlete may be suffering, but it is the reason “why” they are challenging themselves that will override the mind’s command to stop.

My 15th Marathon was the 2015 New York City Marathon, and my “Why” was tested.

In 2014, at the completion of the New York City Marathon, I said to myself, “Self, I am really happy I did it.  It was a tough race, in tough conditions (sub-40 degree temperature with 33 mph winds), but we did it.  It may not have been the time we wanted, but scratch the largest marathon in the world off the list.  I will probably not do this one again.”

My reasoning was the logistics of the race.

First, it is located in New York City.  That just says a lot of $$$ is going to be spent.

2) Getting around the big apple in a timely manner is difficult for someone not living there.

3) I have a lot of friends that live in the city and I want to see them, which means, more travel, meals and more $$$ spent.

4) The race doesn’t start until 9:50 which at 4 hours means 1:50 which is after the usual 12 pm checkout time.  Again, more $$$.

5) In order to pack the corrals with 50,000 runners, it is required to be in the runner villages close to 3 hours early, and in sub-40 degree weather for someone from Florida is somewhat uncomfortable.

6) After leaving the finish line when the legs are burning and everything is getting stiff, it is another mile to get to checked bags and then another half mile to get out of the park where there are no cabs.  Then another 5 block walk to the subway.

Other than that the race is amazing.

This year, the reasons above meant nothing to me, because I ran this race not for me, but as a member of Team Tampa PKD for Erika Bragan, Jennifer Thomas and all of the other people affected by Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

Team Tampa PKD Scott with PKD Patient Erika

Scott & Erika Bragan

In 2009, Scott offered me a chance to run the Chicago Marathon for the Polycystic Kidney Disease.  At the time we were both in a boot camp class at a Lifestyle Family Fitness.  He mentioned it to a few others as well, so I brought up the idea of a team concept, where we could organize events to raise awareness and funds for PKD and then split up the money so everyone could reach their goal.  it actually worked for the 10 of us that competed that year, as we raised around $26,000 for the PKD Foundation.

Team Tampa PKD 2009

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2009

In 2011, we resurrected the team and signed on twenty-two members and raised over $56,000 for the foundation. Again in 2013 we had just Five members and raised over 25,000 that year as well.

Team Tampa PKD 2011

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2011

Team Tampa PKD 2013

Team Tampa PKD – Chicago Marathon 2013
(-1 not pictured)

This year, we again signed five members.  Scott, Rich, Myself, Kevin, and Karen.  we raised over $25,000 again, but this year we also accomplished something else.  Over the last few years, Erika’s kidney functions were reduced to less than 5% apiece.  A normal human being can survive on 5% of one, but with PKD it is inevitable that the kidneys will fail.

Team Tampa PKD NYC 2015

Team Tampa PKD – NYC Marathon 2015
(-1 not pictured)

Erika had already been put on the donor list for over a year, but it had yet to pan out, so we added not only raising as much financial assistance for the foundation but finding a donor for Erika as well.

For over a year, Erika has been in pain, not sleeping and basically been in a state of misery.  Scott has recounted this for me numerous times, so when he said that it was time to start thinking about a transplant, I immediately asked him for the details to get tested.  I wanted to help any way I could and if it meant giving up a kidney so be it.

The Bragan’s waited to see if being on the donor list would pan out, but as Erika’s kidney functions continued to deteriorate, family and friends stepped up to be tested as donors.

I was tested as a kidney donor, with the preliminary tests proving positive, meaning I was a match.

However, the secondary tests diagnosed protein in my urine which is common in endurance athletes.  Unfortunately, for the medical staff, it is a risk for kidney stones which have a small probability to clog my ureter and if that was the case now, I would have another kidney to fall back on.  If I donated one, it could be fatal.

I was heartbroken when I found out, but I understood the reasons.

On July 10, my friend and Team Tampa PKD teammate, Rich O’Dea was on a blind date at the Imagine Dragons concert.  While getting to know each other Rich made mention of Team Tampa PKD, the marathon and Erika.  At first, it seemed a nonchalant question when she asked how to get tested, so Rich took as her just being nice, but even after she ended up returning to a long relationship, she still communicated with Rich she wanted to get tested.

Team Tampa PKD, Rich with Jennifer Thomas, PKD Donor

Rich O’Dea & Jen Thomas

Her preliminary tests proved she was a match, and the secondary tests proved she was healthy enough to donate, so on Friday, Oct 23, the Tampa General Hospital Transplant committee approved the living donor kidney transplant from Jennifer Thomas to Erika Bragan, and scheduled the surgery for the 18th of November.

When I found out that Jennifer passed the second round of testing, I was absolutely ecstatic that she would be able to do what I and three other people could not.  I am still absolutely overjoyed that Erika will lead a longer more normal life and Scott, Madison and Spencer will continue to have their wonderful wife and mother.

While in an interview with ABC, Jennifer was asked why should give up her kidney for a total stranger.  Without skipping a beat, or even taking a breath she said, “Why wouldn’t I? The more important question should be, why is it so shocking that I would.”

I happened to be in the room when she was getting interviewed and I just about fell over.  Without trying to sound conceded, or take away any thunder from her, but I felt like Jennifer was someone who actually thought just like me.

Jennifer’s medical bills will be taken care of 100% by the Bragan’s insurance, but the recovery time may cause a little bit of financial hardship.

Of course, Team Tampa PKD is stepping up and hosting an event called Tailgate for a Transplant prior to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New York Giants NFL Football game on November 8th at 1 pm.  (If you would like to help, but cannot make it to the tailgate please click here)

This is my “Why”.

What is your ‘why’?

Carpe Vitam!

Coach Brad’s Goals for the New Year!

Coach Brad’s Goals for the New Year!

Happy New Year!!  Welcome to 2014 and the year of YOU!

It’s that time again.  The beginning of the new year and time to set some new goals.  Notice I am stating resolutions, these are goals.  In my experience, the best way to set new goals is to make sure that each one of them is SMART.

The Iron Goof, with the Iron Goofy

Coach Brad with the Iron Goofy

S- Simple
M- Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timely

Let’s take a look at the last year 2013-

Personal:

1. Get over my fear of leaving my day job and get my business off the ground. – Business is good, I have had up to 13 clients with 9 still with me after the tri season was over.  I have 3 that have contacted me wanting to start in March.  With a full-time job, it keeps me busy.  Luckily a few of these are virtual so most of the work is email, phone and Training Peaks.
2. Reduce debt by minimally 50% – Complete – Actually more like 75%
3. Re-commit to a financial plan and budget – Complete – see #2
3. Complete my Certified Personal Trainer, USAT Level 1 coach, and USATF Level 1 and minimally begin my Certified Nutrition Professional. – Complete except for CNP (*also added RRCA, Newton & Lydiard Certs)
4. Blog at least 5 times a week – Unfortunately, this did not happen more like once, but will re-commit for this year to at least 3.

 Sports & Fitness:

 
1. 2 Ironman Triathlons: IM Louisville, IM Florida – IM Florida, but IM Louisville turned out to be more financial 0477_67915then not trained.
2. IM FL in less than 12 hours – This one was discouraging. Read about it.  – I am thinking about doing another one for vindication.
3. Running average pace at 7:30 min/mile at RPE 2 – I got to about 7:45 for a 10k
4. Biking average pace at 22 mph at RPE 2 – Complete – hit this at IM Augusta
5. Swim at 1:45 per 100m at RPE 3 – Incomplete – will have to focus more on the swim this year
6. Start CrossFit as strength training – Started it, but stuck to more of a Lydiard method.  Will be incorporating at least once a week during strength phases.
7. 1 half-marathon at 1:35 or less – 1:43 was still my best.  Have to dedicate to this one again

The score is 8 out of 13 completed with each at least attempted. I would consider it a successful year, but I would like to do better.

What’s in store for Coach Brad in 2014?
Personal Goals:

1. Completely eradicate debt
2. Start another passive income stream with the possibility for full-time income. (already started actually)
3. Have a plan by the end of the year for leaving my full-time job
4. Communicate more with family
5. Start a financial plan for the future
6. Understand more about SEO and Internet Marketing
7. Blog 3x per week minimally
8. Complete CNP, USAT Youth & Juniors, USAT Official and start CSCP certifications
9.  Less take-out and dining out, more cooking. (25 out of 30 days a month)

Sports & Fitness Goals:

profile_499989070_75sq_1385952801
1. New York Marathon – 3:40 or better
2. Half Marathon – 1:35 or better
3. Conversational pace at 7:30
4. Complete 2014 miles ran
5. Possible Vineman Ironman Distance?? (Vindication Race)
6. Complete two 70.3 triathlons
7. Swim at 1:45 per 100 for 2 miles
8. Inaugural ITU Chicago Triathlon – 2:25 or better
9. All members of the TNT I am coaching crossing finish line at both Nike Women’s and RnR San Diego
10. First – Complete Dopey Challenge with a smile.

How about you?  What are your goals for 2014?  Are they SMART?

Carpe Vitam!!! (Seize Life)

Goof Review: Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Goof Review: Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Can you feel the magic of Christmas in the air?  With all the urgency of completing our shopping before that December 25th deadline sometimes we don’t slow down enough to enjoy just the simplicity of the holidays.  I spent a majority of my life in the Midwest, so living here, in this snowless climate, I usually find myself missing the aura of the holiday season.  Not this year, Baby.   I was lucky enough to be an audience member for the opening of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes at the David A. Straz Center here in Tampa.IMAG0030

Out of all the time I spent in New York City, I never had the privilege of seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.  I’ve been missing out.  Even this former performer was amazed with the synchronicity and precision of not only the dancing of the Rockettes themselves, but the remarkable coexistence with several different types of media.

The festivities started an hour before the audience was even allowed into their seats, with the Rockettes marching from the stage door to the red carpet outside Carol Morsani Hall.  With pure elegance and grace each Rockette took an arm of an uniformed Tampa Police Officer and were escorted into the theater.  It was a pure showing of honor to our civil servants that was so simple yet so powerful.  I cannot begin to explain why.  I imagine that is the limitations of my writing ability.  The honor didn’t stop there.  The Tampa Police Chief took an opportunity to read “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, on stage, to a group of children at the opening of the show.  Again, it seemed like such an honor to the chief and our civil servants.

The night consisted of 12 different numbers lasting about 96 minutes including a 20 minute intermission, but it flew by so fast.  The night was narrated by Santa Claus, who also sang with a booming baritone voice that projected proudly throughout the arena.

Shine compressed

All of the numbers were not strictly performed by the Rockettes and Santa Clause.  A few numbers included short plays that not only included singing and dancing, but also small life lessons as well.Parade of the Wooden Soldiers -- Fall

One number had Santa and two young boys with a lesson on faith and believing, another was a brilliant combination of the Rockettes and the Radio City Singers about Christmas in New York City.New York at Christmas

My personal favorite had to be a scaled down performance of the Nutcracker with a little girl playing Clara, that was an absolute phenomenal dancer, not to mention other incredible dancers in oversized animal costumes.  I have no idea how the dance so gracefully with those huge heads.

This show was brilliant, funny, emotionally moving and just plain fun for the whole family.  The Rockettes give a performance worth seeing in this wonderful holiday show.

I give it Five out of Five Goofs.

12 Days compressed

Carpe Viam!

The Radio CIty Christmas Specatacular plays at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, December 12th through the 29th Tues thru Sunday.  See the Straz Center Website for details.  http://www.strazcenter.org/Rockettes.aspx

 

Tribute Thursday – Matt “IronBeast” Dolitsky

Tribute Thursday – Matt “IronBeast” Dolitsky

There are a number of you that call me “crazy” for continuing to do Ironman Triathlons and keeping the training schedule I do during the season.  At least it is the inspiring kind of “crazy” right?  I enjoy training and obtaining results as a part of it, not to mention just maintaining my fitness level.  There is one person out there that I call “crazy” in the inspiring kind of way.  He puts all of my 100 mile bike rides, two-a-day workouts and mega brick training workouts to shame.  He makes me look like a couch potato and he is more inspiring and motivating that any person I know.  Let me introduce a guy who continues to motivate, inspire and just plain amazes me; Matthew “IronBeast” Dolitsky.

552277_490472044308353_1069924659_n

Imagine if you will, a 9 mile obstacle course, that includes swimming in cold water, then a rope climb over a wall to exit the lake.  Imagine again doing this is in 30-40 degree temperatures.  Of course that is only one obstacle there are 29 others as well.  Now imagine doing that course as many times in 24 hours as possible.  Does that sound crazy to you?  This is “The World’s Toughest Mudder“(WTM), and Matt will be competing in that this coming weekend.  What makes it even more amazing, is that he is competing in it for the second time!

Matt claims he is average, and when I was talking to him about doing this blog he said, and I quote, “I’m just an average dude too just an above average pain tolerance and insane determination!”  All I can say is “Yeah, right!”

1424405_10201620700913850_138323445_nWhat does it take to compete in adventure obstacle challenges like this?  Let me give you an example.  I caught Matt training one day on Swann Drive flipping a huge tire for a mile.  Does that sound crazy?  How about a 75 mile bike ride on a mountain bike that didn’t start until 10pm?  How about a 3 mile swim around Harbor Island here in Tampa?   Matt incorporates these workouts as training on a regular basis and I think these are his easy workouts.  During the Gasparilla Half Marathon I did, pass Matt, but there was a huge difference.  I wasn’t carrying a tire on my half marathon, but Matt was.

Matt also inspires others constantly, and to a point where he is bringing a few people to the World’s Toughest Mudder with him.

35463_503491526363259_785760569_n

Matt and I met at Fit2Run while I was coaching there.  We were on a run together and I helped him (I think) relax a little on his run.  This was at the very beginning of his journey into ultra obstacle racing.  From there he was like a rocket ship.  Last year, I received a message from him on FaceBook asking me if there was an Ironman he could get into.  I laughed a little and told him after WTM and the Spartan Death Race, Ironman wouldn’t even challenge him, but I told him about Louisville.  He set his sites on it and wouldn’t you know it, he completed it as expected.  Needless to say Matt inspires me and a bunch of others every day.

Enough of my soap box about Matt.  Let’s let him talk for a bit.

Name: Matthew Dolitsky892243_553937851317850_1895750352_o
Age / Sign: 43 Years old, Gemini
Location:
Tampa, FL
Place growing up:
Long Island, NY
High School: 
Half Hollow Hills HS West
High School sports:
Lacrosse & Hockey
College: 
University of South Florida
Other Sports: Adventure Obstacle Racing, Triathlon
List your favorite races:
Ironman Louisville
Spartan Ultra Beast Marathon
World’s Toughest Mudder
Death Race
391515_363883563679774_1770674260_nI refer to you as not just a beast but an UltraIronBeast, because of the challenges you compete in.  What made you start doing these Ultra-Mud-Obstacle challenges?  
I stumbled upon my first obstacle race about 2 years ago.  It was a basic 3 mile mud race but after finishing the race, I felt invigorated with a sense of accomplishment.  Shortly thereafter, I “Finished” Tough Mudder and my passion for obstacle races and extreme challenges was born.
Now that you have competed in both mega Obstacles Races like the World’s Toughest Mudder and Ironman, how do you compare the two?
Comparing World’s Toughest Mudder or even the Death Race to IRONMAN is very difficult.  The bottom line with any of the three is that simply making the commitment to get to the start line is scary enough and takes great fortitude!  Once you make it to the start line, reality sets in and you now have to endure everything thrown at you or face a DNF.  A 140.6 mile IRONMAN triathlon is never comfortable but there is comfort in knowing exactly what you are getting into.  It’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run.  Barring variations in terrain and weather conditions, it’s pretty straight forward.  Long and hard but straight forward.  World’s Toughest Mudder and the Death Race are totally different beasts.  They do not tell you what you will be doing PERIOD!  Sure, you have an idea from previous races and intelligence gathering but you better get yourself comfortable with being uncomfortable really quickly and embrace every miserable moment of it.  World’s Toughest Mudder in New Jersey is 24-26 hours of running a Tough Mudder course on steroids braving miserable cold temperatures while running in layers of neoprene.  The Death Race was 70 hours of hiking gnarly terrain in the mountains of Pittsfield, Vermont while building stone stair cases up the mountain, doing countless burpees, chopping wood, endless manual labor, running, carrying 50+ lb. packs of supplies, etc. while not sleeping for 3 days!  With all that being said, the one thing that all three races require is mental grit because everyone of them will expose your weaknesses and tell you to quit at some point.  If you have the mental element coupled with proper training, your body will do whatever the mind tells it to do!  
If you could give me one adjective to describe the feeling  you 1010696_585362928153605_187298322_nget when you are working what would it be?  
One word to describe how I feel when working out or training is HAPPY.  Training makes me feel healthy and alive and that equals HAPPINESS.  I love being outdoors.  When I’m outdoors training, I’m in my element and the result is overall HAPPINESS.  It makes any negative thought that creeps into my mind disappear.
What is going through you mind while you are competing during a course like the Spartan Death Race or WTM?  
While I’m competing in races like World’s Toughest Mudder and the Death Race, I focus on micro movements while thinking of the race as a whole.  If I take my mind off my next foothold or hand placement, I could get hurt.  I must be focused on every series of movements the entire way through!  I have to become like a machine and keep performing consistently, safely, efficiently, and patiently.  I repeat this for the duration of the race until I am finished!
You have children that I know you love and adore.  For all of the parents out there, how do you balance the amount of training you do with work and family?  
Balancing kids, work, and training can be challenging.  Essentially, I 1150844_10201030414997071_604802185_nbalance my training around work and kids.  Sometimes I’m up early in the morning to train and other times I’m up late at night training.  It’s not uncommon for me to finish training at 2am.  It’s about committing to my goals!  Reaching goals and finishing races happens long before race day.  It’s about putting in the hard work and hours of training.  My races are unorthodox and so is my training.  I always try to train in conditions worse than I’ll experience on race day.  This way, conditions for me will always seem ideal!  I often take advantage of blocks of time I have available to train.  I’m very spontaneous and flexible.
What would you say is your greatest personal obstacle you ever overcame?  
Everyday, I overcoming the greatest obstacle there is.  Life.  I’m trying to keep life as simple as I can make it.  Living each day as it comes.  Trying to be happy, make a positive impact, motivate and inspire others, and be a loving father to my two boys.  I’m surrounding myself with positive people in the racing community, gaining some awesome sponsorships, and accomplishing things I never thought possible.  I’m also learning from some mistakes along the way.
1174834_10201136756895552_238071442_nWhat is your greatest victory?  
While crossing the finish line at IRONMAN Louisville was pretty amazing, living a life of happiness will be my biggest victory.  Something I’m trying to achieve everyday.  
What are your future goal races?
Double Anvil IRONMAN, Fuego y Agua Survival Run in Nicaragua, Bill Floyds 8 mile swim from Clearwater to Tampa
What are you favorite quotes?  
 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover.” -Mark Twain  
Shout outs from Matt “UltraIronBeast” Dolitstky : His sponsors VPX Team Xtreme OCR, Reload Fitness, Mud and Adventure, and AL1VE Magnetics.
Matt is pretty inspiring right?  Check him out on FaceBook at Facebook.com/matthew.dolitsky

Carpe Viam!