Overcoming Obstacles Before The Warrior Dash

For a few days now I have been pondering what to type up next.  Not much Jets news besides Wilkerson’s crash and the usual Sanchez/Tebow drama.  Training camp begins soon.  I assume the drama will start up soon.

I am not going to be working on my Jets documentary forever.  It led to me covering the fans and giving them their chance to shine when no one else really does.  Not just on video but in print.  But there  is more going on to talk about than just the New York Jets and it is time I branched out and started to write about many other topics.

Let’s face it, diversity is key.  Need some variety here.  The Bakery is getting stale with the same old topics.  It needs to be freshened up with some new topics and coverage.  And maybe some more about myself, what I am doing, and what I have been through.

What better way to start than to talk about my foray into the Warrior Dash this Saturday.

What is the Warrior Dash you ask?  Check their website at Warrior Dash.  I can not be bothered talking about it so find out for yourself.

Just kidding.

The Warrior Dash, the World’s Largest Running Series,  is a 3.20 mile long course made up of 14 “hellish” obstacles.  They take place on off terrain paths, in water, over walls, in mud, over fire, and many other obstacles.  There are 45+ races in the United States every year and also Australia.

Some of the obstacles change from course to course, depending on the environment.  This is the first time Warrior Dash is in New Jersey.  It is being held at Lewis Morris County Park in Morristown, NJ and this is my first time running in this event.

Even the walking I would do filming at a Jets game is not enough cardio for an event like this.  I would begin by parking at the Sheraton on the other side of Route 3.  Then with some maneuvering, use a NJ Turnpike exit bridge to the stadium to cross the highway.  Then  walk from one end of MetLife Stadium parking to the other side, and back again.  Even over to the Izod Center and everywhere in between.

I have been training for this since March considering I have not been in a gym for about six years.  So I knew I had to dedicate time and energy to make sure I could at least finish the event.  The Warrior Dash website does outline certain training routines for different skill sets.  I am glad I trained beyond what they recommend.

The event begins at 9 AM.  The first 500 warriors will line up for their dash through hell.  Then in 30 minute intervals, waves of 500 Warriors will line up for their opportunity.  I line up for my chance at 1:30 PM.

You can track my start of the event and when I finish on Facebook or Twitter.  Pictures will also be posted by Warrior Dash’s in house photographers as well as race day updates by myself.

As I write this my mother sends me an e-mail saying she just read what the Warrior Dash involves.  Then she asked if I was crazy.

I responded yes.

The race does involve and obstacle where one has to jump over a wall of flame.  It is just a line of Duraflame logs.  To get an more in depth review of Warrior Dash and other running series like Spartan Run, Rebel Race, Tough Mudder, and others go to Travelete.com.

I bring that up because some obstacles seem worse than they sound.  They do not want it to be impossible where only few finish.  That is the Tough Mudder, (recognize my sarcasm yet?).

If there is someone struggling, others have been know to provide assistance on the course.  Many do act like sportsmen and want to see others overcome and finish.  You can sign up as a group  as well and run with your friends.

To me, the Warrior Dash is just another physical activity I enjoy putting my body through.  I know a few may not like to hear that, but I enjoy doing extreme activities.  I wrestled professionally for about 13 years (mostly on weekends), bungee jumped, went to Mountain Creek when it was Action (Traction) Park, played tons of sports when I was younger, and just enjoy a great challenge.

When it came to physical activities when I was younger, I was lucky to do what I did.  My vision provided some, not major, limitations in activities my parents would let me do.  Football was out.  The one sport I wish I had played in my life.

At the age of 10 in 1984, wrestling was the one sport I stayed with.  Did not give it up.  Loved to wrestle.  In eighth grade, I went through the season undefeated in the heavyweight weight class (149-275 lb, I weighed 163) and took first place in two county tournaments.   was able to climb the ropes in gym class using just my arms.  My sophomore year in high school I made varsity at 189 lbs.

I held my head just a little higher after making varsity after years of being teased, bullied, and made to feel insignificant by my peers.  To many, it didn’t matter and some teasing continued, even from some of my teammates.

But it never stopped me from quitting wrestling or anything I did.  I persevered though it.  I have always had this mentality that I can do anything I put my mind to, no matter what my limitations are in life.  I never like to hear the word “NO” or “you can’t do that”.

My attitude is “Yes” and “watch me”.

That was until some news I received over the summer of 1991.  I noticed a change in vision.  I had to visit a specialist in New York because my condition could not be diagnosed by my specialist in New Jersey.

I was attended to by one of the three leading specialists in the world regarding my vision issue.  I underwent three and a half hours of testing to determine what my vision issues were.

It was determined I had subretnal neovascularization with pathological myopia.  Say that three times fast.

I can.

To sum up the condition, imagine looking through two scars on your eyes everyday.  You can see, but not perfectly and with some vision loss.  That is me.  Doctors told me no more wrestling.

I was devastated.  I cried for a long time on that one.

At the age I was diagnosed, I was informed my condition occurs in one out of three million my age.  It is a form of wet macular degeneration that normally happens to people in their 60′s and 70′s.

I was officially a winner in the unlucky lottery.

If I strained the blood vessels in my eyes significantly it could increase the scarring from blood leakage behind the eye.  This was what the doctors were worried about and advised me not to wrestle or do any extraneous physical activities.

So, for my final two seasons on the wrestling team I was the team manager and recorded all the wrestlers matches.  My senior year I was an assistant freshman wrestling coach.  I had good knowledge, what can I say.

Yes, I know I had on a sweater.

But after high school I went into professional wrestling.  Yes, I know I was told not to wrestle but I did it anyway.

It was what I wanted to do and I was not going to let anyone tell me otherwise.  I miss the physicality.  I enjoyed hitting and being hit.  Not too hard of course.  But I enjoyed it.  I love putting my body out there.  The adrenaline rush makes me smile.  If I could have gone into MMA instead of wrestling,  I would have.

For years I wrestled and did other physical activities, including weight lifting, with no other damage any doctor can make out.  I have been in the clear.  I have always said every time I go out there and do something I risk the odds.

Odds makers in Las Vegas have gone broke betting on me.  I am pretty good with numbers.  I can figure rough odds playing poker.

Knowing my limitations and abilities does keep me a step ahead.  If I need to pull the plug on something or realize a limitation.  I will stop with no hesitation.  I may be crazy, but I am not stupid.

I am a very headstrong, determined individual.  When I set my mind to something, I set to accomplish what I start.  I went headfirst into filming a documentary and learned on the fly about film making.  Major thanks to Anthony Artis and others on their guidance.

The Hardcore Champion. Retired undefeated with the belt. I still have it!

The Warrior Dash is just another challenge I KNOW I can accomplish.  If you don’t challenge yourself you will never know what you are able to accomplish.  One can never realize their full potential.

I never want to look back and say I never tried.  It is better to attempt and fail, than to not try at all.  OK, so someone may have said that before me but it works well here (Thanks Ant!).

I keep repeating a scene from the movie “Rocky Balboa” in my head.  Rocky tells Rocky Jr. that it is not about how hard you get hit it is about how hard you come back from that hit.  That no matter how much you feel you are being hit further down you fight back that much harder.

Hey, draw inspiration from whatever adrenaline boosting IV you can get it from.  As long as you do something about it.

I am dedicating my race on Saturday to two groups.  For those visually impaired, who can see and do more than their limitations let them.  Also,  for those younger who need the confidence to fight back and overcome obstacles & realize their full potential.  I am not sure if there is a non-profit or .org for that one.

I think the obstacles I’ve faced in life have set me up well mentally for the obstacles at the Warrior Dash.  Glad I was able to get my body physically capable as well.

I know the Warrior Dash is going to be fun.  Another event in the long line of physical activities I decided to sacrifice my body to.  I know I am going to hate the cardio in between the obstacles.  I hate doing cardio, but a necessary evil.  It is the obstacles I am looking forward to the most.  Getting down and dirty, using my hands, climbing ropes, jumping over walls, stopping speeding bullets.

OK, I got carried away.

I plan on doing one of these events a year.  My wife Gina wanted me to do the Super Spartan Race in September as well.  No way I am ready for an 8 mile race.  But for my 40th birthday, I do plan on running the Tough Mudder.

Here comes another e-mail from my mother.

Bing.com: Making Great Travel Decisions With Dhani Jones

Last Wednesday, I made the trip into New York City to attend an event sponsored by Bing.com.  Bing had as their special guest Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Dhani Jones.  Dhani has pretty much seen it all when it comes to travel, and he has partnered with Bing Travel to provide his tips, recommendations and personal stories on traveling the world.  Go to www.bing.com/travel for video interviews and personal photo slideshows from Dhani’s travel, as well as more recommendations and his “Wish List” for future destinations.

Dhani Jones – NFL superstar, author of “The Sportsman: Unexpected Lessons from an Around-the-World Sports Odyssey” and former host of the Travel Channel’s “Dhani Tackles the Globe” – is not your average linebacker. Sure, he stands 6 foot 1 and weighs 235 pounds, but when he’s not on the field with the Cincinnati Bengals he is folding himself into an airplane seat and flying to wherever his abundance of curiosity takes him. Dhani began traveling at an early age with his parents; his father was in the military based in Southeast Asia, and they took family trips to Kenya, Thailand and Bermuda, among other places. It instilled a sense of wanderlust in Dhani that continues today.

Bing’s purpose was to let people know they could use Bing to find anything they needed when it comes to travel.  From choosing a destination to securing a hotel.  When it comes to travel, Bing will provide you information you need to answer any question to make your next vacation or day trip the most enjoyable.

One’s Past is Motivation For A Future

I wrote this last night when I came back from the Bing.com event.  It took a lot for me to get it out and put it here.  I usually hold back and do not share thoughts like this.  But with what is going on in the economy, I know others feel the same.  Others wish they could change professions but lack the means or experience to do so.  Many do it for free in the hopes to one day be paid.  That is my case.  Determination and motivation propel me to never quit at what I set my mind to.  My goal is for someone to see what I am able to and takes a chance to make me a part of their team, and get paid:

Good evening all.  I just got in from the Bing.com sponsored event with Dhani Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals.  I will have more of a write up soon.  I have a lot of thoughts going through my head as I left the event and on the way home.

I enjoy attending these events.  It gets me out there amongst those I get to network with and show my creative side.  A side of myself that has been neglected for so many years.  A side of myself that is true to who I am and the path I should have chosen years ago to follow.  Now this could be the six Jack Daniels and Diet Cokes in me but then again, it could also be the  true voice I have kept inside for too long.

I always enjoy attending these events.  This is the second one I have attended from Bing.com.  I enjoy writing for FootballReportersOnline.com and ProFootballNYC.com.  I enjoy filming my documentary and the places it has taken me.  I enjoy doing the radio show on Tuesdays for Football Reporters Online that focuses on NYC football and other football topics.  But in my case, I seem to enjoy doing the things I do not get paid for more than the things I do.

Here I sit, a part time worker in the retail industry.  A casualty of the economy as I was one in the financial services field.  I was not happy.  In high school, I made many small films as extra credit in almost every class I was in.  I liked to write and be creative.  I had such a cloud over my head I could not see the path I should have gone down in front of me.  Today , at age 36, I am trying to change careers in a down economy and attempt to make a living and get noticed on what I love to do.

Tonight at the Bing event, I realized a few things that made me feel proud and disappointed at the same time.  Here I sit, trying to make something of myself with a checked past.  I network, overhearing everyone talk about their positions at People magazine, Sunshine Sachs, Bing.com, American Airlines, and other notable fields.  I inform those I am conversing with I am a sports blogger and documentary filmmaker.  I may not be being paid for it, but it is what I consider myself.  If I could be paid for what I do, I would be a happier person.  It always makes me feel a little down when I hear others talk about their profession when I know they get paid for what they do while I strive to get noticed to get paid for what I love to do.

Now my resume may not look the best or have detailed experience on what I want to do for a living.  That does not mean I am not determined to learn and strive to achieve my goals to make it in the field I want to earn a living from.  I am a fast learner.  I can tell those I networked with tonight are younger than me and made the right decisions to get to where they are now.  I dd not.  I am making up for past mistakes.  I may not have the right internship of job experience, but I have heart and determination and some do not look upon that as enough.

Tonight’s focus was about how to use Bing.com for your travel purposes.  I heard many talking about their recent trips to Paris, Thailand, Barbados, and a few other destinations.  Some did it for work.  I am frustrated I am stuck where I am.  In an economy where the job market is horrible.  A job market where you have to know the right people and bypass certain resume readers just to be considered for some positions.

I can not change my past.  I can only learn from it and take the right steps now on where I want to be in the near future.  I enjoy writing, filming, and marketing via social media.  I may not have major experience behind me or the right educational background, but that does not mean I should be overlooked.  I know I am not old, it just feels that no matter how hard I try it seems like a tough hill to climb to get to where I want to be with my checkered past.  I can not go back and change anything, but I can work my hardest now to make things right for the future.

Tonight made me realize where I want to be.  It is not an easy road for me to get there.  But it is attainable.  I would like to get back to a position with a salary.  Where I can have a vacation, a 401K, and other perks that make me want to go in everyday.  I would like to have the kind of career That makes me proud to be in the industry I work hard and not get paid for now.

I want to support my family.  I would like to be the one that makes more than my wife.  Tonight was the kind of night that makes me strive harder to accomplish my goals.  To be the one that talks about the places they traveled to for their job.  There are thousands in my position now.  Wishing they could make a change but they do not have the means or experience to do so.  I just have t keep plugging and hope one takes notice of me and sees enough to give me the chance someone else will not give.

Am I jealous of those I was around tonight, no.  Am I envious of the paths they took to get to where they are, maybe.  I just look back and wish I did things differently.  It just sucks I have to make up for lost time and do all of this in a down economy.  I am sure my words echo many who think along the same lines.  All I can do is continue along writing and filming, and get my work into the right hands of those who decide on weather to hire or fire.

Sometimes it is easy for me to keep my feelings inside.  Others times I want to shout them from the rooftops.  This time I could not keep them in any longer.  I felt the need to speak my mind and use this as a way to talk about more than just football and my documentary.  Some say hope is a powerful thing, others say hope means nothing without faith.  At this point in my life, I hold both close to me knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel that is my journey today.