2014 AAR

I hadn’t realized exactly how much happened this year until I started gathering my thoughts for this blog.

About 18 formal events, depending on how you count. Some epic road trips and long plane rides. The feeling that I am finally becoming competent at what I do rather than just muddling along. And perhaps the biggest change, a change of venue and a shift in lifestyle, moving from Fort Wayne to Sioux Falls and adjusting from freewheeling bachelor to family man.

So what to do in the coming year? Keep going, keep growing. Keep pushing into tougher challenges.

I have settled in with gym and home training here in Sioux Falls, and it looks like I have a better training setup here than what I had in Indiana. I have my training plans set up, and I am also posting my workout plans to the support group so we can all go through it together.

Two big points that I have to get right: Maintaining a balance of training and family life, and sticking to a plan once I am on one. I am terrible about starting a plan, then finding what appears to be a better plan and jumping ship. This has resulted in some points of my training being awesome and some being woefully inadequate.

Happy New Year to all my readers. Keep pushing, never give up. May the new year bring you accomplishments that you can’t even fathom now.

45 days, 10,000 Reps: The 10,000 Swing Challenge

I found a 20- workout challenge here (http://www.t-nation.com/workouts/10000-swing-kettlebell-workout) and, while immidately taken with the idea, couldn’t quite figure out how to implement it with the workout plans I was on at the time. With roughly 45 days left in 2014, I decided to throw it in at the end of the year and start the new year with more structured training plans. Kettlebell every other day, rest or run between them, a few days for when things just don’t work out. I am terrible about following the letter of programs like this, but I love getting at the gist of a program and adapting to the abilities and equipment available.

I usually only write up my synopsis of a challenge from my memories of it at the end. This one, I decided to write up events as they happen. Let’s see how this goes.

Post script: This got REALLY long. While I will post the full version below, here is the short version:

This program will do everything it says it will. I have gotten stronger in nearly every way it can be measured. In particular, my glutes and the front points of my hip have gained visible muscle. And with a goal number and a deadline, it will push you to keep going when you really want to quit.

Don’t talk yourself out of it if you can’t do the prescribed weight. Adjust to your abilities, and keep testing your abilities as they grow.

One tip: Buy a kettlebell to have at home that is just a touch heavier than you want it to be. You will grow into it, and it is great to have the option of doing the workout wherever you are with only the one piece of equipment.

Now the long version:

11/18: Had to deviate from the prescribed sets/ reps (15-20-30-35 is what I used to make 100 swings each round.) Started with 14 kg kettlebell, dropped to 10 kg when I couldn’t make it through the 30 swings in the second round, moved up to 12 kg for the last round. Did 2-3 pullups between sets. Total was 500 swings and 44 pullups. 500/10 000.

11/19: woke up with mild soreness in every muscle from my hands to the balls of my feet. This really is a full-body workout. Rest day and work on packing up the apartment. Perhaps centering this challenge around two moves (helping Steph move then moving myself) wasn’t the brightest of choices…

11/20: Stuck at work till 11 pm. Today is not my day.

11/21: Got irritated that I had to miss yesterday, and did 500 swings in as few sets as possible this morning. Managed it in 8 sets. Switching hands within the set helps a lot. Heading out on a bus tonight to help Steph move. Kettlebell in the rucksack. 1000/10 000.

11/22-11/24- Helping Steph move, lots of heavy stuff lifted, but no swings done.

11/25- Morning workout, only had the kettlebell with me, so did alternating sets of burpees and swings. Total of 500 swings and 30 burpees, finished up with 4×4 pullups. 1500/ 10 000

11/26- Rest day.

11/27- Had access to a decent hotel workout room. 5 rounds of 20 swings left handed, 4 lat pulldowns, 20 swings right handed, 3 lat pulldowns, 30 swings left handed, 2 lat pulldowns, 30 swings right handed. I think I will keep this pattern, as it makes right-left balance easier to figure out. 2000/10 000.

11/28- Rest day. I now have 33 days left in 2014, and 16 workouts left. Need to stay on it.

11/29- Schedule went nuts and I didn’t get them in.

11/30- Got to the gym to have various sizes of kbells to play with. Kept the 20-20-30-30 pattern and did 4-3-2-1 sets of goblet squats between sets of swings. Swing weights were 30 pound, 12 kilo and 10 kilo, depending on the set I was on and how I was feeling. Followed up with 5 miles on the treadmill. 2500/ 10 000.

Points of note: One of the plusses of high-rep workouts like this is that you begin to truly understand the exercise and what it does. I can feel changes happening at the points of my shoulders and hips. Pavel described the kettlebell swing as the closest thing to a fight without throwing a punch, and it never made any sense to me. I have finally felt the movement enough to see what he was saying.

12/1- FIghting an ear/sinus infection. Taking the day off.

12/2- Still feel like crap. Really wanted to hit it today, but just didn’t feel up to it.

12/3- I can breathe again! Got 4 sets of 125 swings in before work. 3000/10000.

12/5- No swings, start loading for move to SD.

12/6- Had to get them in to say goodbye to my gym. Doing that before loading up the rest of the apartment and driving 18 hours may not have been the brightest thing ever, but it is what I did. 3500/10 000.

12/7-12/8- The lack of sleep on the drive out knocked me flat, and I took a couple days to recover and set up my new space here. Some lifting and moving as I unloaded the U Haul, but no workout per se.

12/9- Back at it. Not feeling the best, and there are a lot of random things that need done. 20 swings left, 20 swings right, do a random household task, another round of swings, another task. 520 total. 4020/ 10 000.

22 days left, 6000 swings left. Falling behind. Need to step it up a touch.

12/11- hit up a new local gym. Pilates class between rounds 1 and 2, goblet squats with 26kg bell between sets of swings with 10-16 kg. 4520/ 10 000.

12/12- 12/14- Not bothering to write out my excuses. no swings done.

12/15- Needed to be on hand to make sure the kids got up on time, so my morning workout was done at home with a 20# bell. Later in the day I was told some opinions that made me want to work even harder to prove the doubters wrong. (I will write that as its own blog post at some point. Post script- written and posted while this one is still in draft.) I rucked 1.5 miles through snow and 30 mph winds to the gym, knocked out my swings and pullups, and rucked back. 5520/10 000.

I also realized that there are little bonus movements that can find their ways into my workouts. The clean and press when I transition from swings to OH kettlebell squats, the jump up to grab the pullup bar, etc. Will try to work these in as often as I can.

12/17- Went for 2-handed swings and tried for heavier bells. 6020/10 000.

12/18- Went to gym for pilates in the morning, then went back in the evening to get my girevik on. Managed to do it all with the 16 kg bell. Sad that I am excited about finally being strong enough to do the workout with the prescribed female weight, but it is a big improvement from where I started. 6520/10 000.

12/21- Got them in first thing in the morning. 7020/10 000.

12/22- Did an ass-kicking boot camp class, then went upstairs to get my swings in. Was worn out and went down to 10-12 kg bells. 30 left, 30 right, 40 alternating with running between sets. 7520/ 10 000.

A young man stopped me in the locker room to say that he had been impressed by the alternating swings. I hadn’t been aware that anyone was paying attention to what I was doing.

12/23- I had intended on taking a light day, but I’m running out of time before new years, and holiday hours will limit me in the next few days, so I got another 500 in. I surprised myself, still sore from yesterday but was able to do it all with 18 kg or heavier bells. 8020/10 000.

12/24- No time for the full 500 workout, but got 200 in between other tasks. 8220/10000.

12/29- Finishing up cleaning out the old apartment, and it turns out my old gym membership is still good. Pushed into heavier weights. 8720/ 10 000. Feeling sick on the way home, run to the finish will be interesting.

13/30- Still recovering from a sinus infection, but feeling good enough to hit it hard. Running out of time, got 750 swings in. 9470/10 000.

12/31- 600 swings to put me over the top, just in time. Happy new year. 10,070.

2014 in review

Interesting to see the annual stats.

Thank you to all of my readers. I really expected to be the only one reading this, and it is being read in 78 countries.

Perhaps a couple more posts this year, and on to 2015.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fuel to the Fire…


After my last post, it was obvious what I need to do.

The people who don’t want me on the same course as them, that think my getting a finishers medal makes their accomplishment marginal, would like nothing better than for me to go away, go sulk in a corner, leave all the awesome accomplishments to be done for them and those they consider worthy.

Nope. Not doing it.

I’m not going away. I’m not limiting myself to minor events. I am going after the toughest and most badass challenges out there. And thanks to my detractors, I’m going there sooner.

All the negative emotions that this brings up are being harnessed to push me farther, faster, more reps, higher weights, 2-a-day workouts.

You can doubt me all you like. No one ever thought that I was capable of half the things that I have done.

And you have no idea what I will yet prove to be capable of.


“I don’t deserve to be here”?




There are moments in life that hit you like a sucker punch, totally unexpected and able to knock you to your knees. I had one earlier this week.

A simple discussion among friends, talking about the future of obstacle racing. Statements that non-elites have no place at certain events, that the existence of an open heat somehow makes the elite heat unworthy. That those racers who never reach the podium, while they can still run the ordinary courses and keep the bills paid, should never be permitted on the best courses.

That I don’t deserve to be here.


From as far back as I can remember, I have always been told all the things I would never be able to do. “You don’t have the genetics to be a runner.” “Your lungs never fully recovered, you will always be short winded.” “Oh, no, travelling is far too expensive. Not even worth it to get a passport.”

It took 30 years for me to stop listening. And then the world opened up.

England. Japan. France. Running crazy distances through the mountains, seeing things that I can’t even describe to those who I grew up with. Pushing through the cold, the heat, the pain. Achieving nearly everything that they said I never could.

I have earned my right to be here. And there are a few things that you must do before you can tell me that I don’t deserve the chance to run the same course as you:

You must shiver through the last few miles of cold, wet misery at Wolverhampton, shaking so badly that you can’t even manage to drink the hot beverage at the finish line.

You must stare up the steep slopes of Killington, your exhausted mind trying to determine if the clearing you see far above you is where you have been, or where you are going.

After 11 hours of constant suffering, at an event you may never get another chance to complete, you have to give up your chance of finishing to stay behind and look after an injured competitor.

You have to do at least a few events after at least an eight hour drive and on less than two hours of sleep, because that is what is required to get the week’s work done and make it to the starting line.

When you have completed all of these, then MAYBE we can discuss what events I have or have not earned my shot at a DFL finish.

Until then, I’ll see you at the starting line.