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Warrior Dash Was First Hurdle In Personal Obstacle Course

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Good afternoon on this August Tuesday everyone.  The Warrior Dash was this last weekend and it was a fun race.  The race was the only thing fun about the day.  It rained the entire morning and really made the course extra muddy.  It was hard to run in areas that made sense to run in.  Did you understand that?  In other words, the expected dry areas to run on were now just sloppy and dangerous.  Many people were sliding and slowing down.  Some were complaining about how their time would be affected.  Others did not care.

Import 2My heat began at 1 PM.  My wife and I were thankful were had donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and have access to the VIP tent to stay out of the rain.  That was a highlight.  Able to wait it out the rain and remain dry majority of the time.  Also a few private port-a-potty‘s.  Even though I was prepared, I was still emptying my bladder every 15 minutes.  Nerves will never go away.  The same thing would happen in wrestling before going through the curtain.  Go to the bathroom a few times and then it was showtime.

There was even a wait to get on a few obstacles.  One obstacle in particular where one had to crawl under barbed wire had a good 5-7 minute wait just to start it.  Thankfully the rain stopped right before the start of my heat.  Even with that blessing from above the course was treacherous at points.  I may not be the best conditioned athlete, but certain points I know I could have been running at if it was not so muddy.  When I start a physical activity, I like to finish as hard as I start the event.  The mud detracted from that as caution and safety took over.

I think I was the only one to finish the race with no mud on their chest, head, and face.  I wear contact lenses for a race like this.  I also wear swimming goggles to protect my eyes in a race like this.  I received compliments on my use of swimming goggles.  Some wore tutu’s, other team’s matching shirts, and others barely anything at all, I wore swimming goggles.  If I could have any of these courses mud free, I would.  There are many like myself who would love a course with nothing but obstacles & less distance running, without having to join the military.

The distance running in majority of these mud runs is a necessary evil.  At least cut back on the mud.  There is no need for it to be waist deep.  I would love to see more challenging obstacles in the typical Warrior Dash without having to sign up for an Iron Warrior Dash or Urban Warrior Dash.  Some of these groups offer more than one kind of run.  The Spartan Race and Tough Mudder do the same as well.  There is even a kids Spartan Race.  I think that is a great event for kids.  I plan on tackling the courses for the Spartan Race and Rugged Maniac in the future.  I know I will need to work on my stamina and do the necessary cardio.

Import 1One of the best personal reasons for me to do this race is to complete a personal challenge.  I have run this race two years in a row with no teammates and I savor the sense of self accomplishment in finishing a race of this kind.  Where teammates are helping each other on each obstacle, I tackle them alone.  The feeling of no limitations on my personal self increases the light on the person I have kept down for years.

Myself.

I have always played it careful when it has come to letting my true self shine.  Years of bullying bullied suppressed the person I know I can be.  Fearful of others opinions without even considering my own.  Not putting me before the comments that were being made of me.  I am not just talking about physical bullying, but verbal as well.  There were some girls in middle & high school that would also be verbal bully’s.  Verbal bullying went on for me well into college.  I can remember working at a company in college where my peers would make me feel small from it.

There are times certain incidents will pop into my head.  I never let them take control of me or my confidence these days.  I use it to be more determined to succeed.  Another step in that direction is to go all out, not caring about what anyone thinks.  As Nike says, to just do it.  I keep preaching about leaving that proverbial comfort zone.  It is time for me to take my own advice and be comfortable in my own skin.  To be the opinionated, sarcastic, wise ass that everyone knows me to be.  Not in a bad way though.  It is just my personality and who I am.

Camera Roll-250In the movie Tombstone, Val Kilmer is Doc Holiday and Kurt Russell is Wyatt Earp.  Doc Holiday passes a comment regarding Wyatt Earp’s wife.  Wyatt Earp chuckles while his brother Morgan, played by Bill Paxton, took offense to the comment.  Wyatt tells Morgan that Doc meant no harm by the comment, that it is just his style and he doesn’t mean anything.  The same goes for me.  I never mean any harm from the comments or jokes I may pass, it is just my nature and who I am.  I only poke fun at the people I like.  I never mean any disrespect.  My sarcastic, wise ass humor has always worked with my quick wit and intelligence.  It is just who I am.

I have been standing alongside the highway of life, holding my thumb out, hoping to hitch a ride with someone instead of taking the chance to drive that road myself.  It is about time I did.  I have had control of the wheel many times.  I just never mapped out my own course.  I seemed to rely on others for that.  No more.  Time to put myself out there and not worry about failing or criticism.  I have learned from other failures in life, why should it stop me now?  Everyone needs to experience the failure as much as success.  If you never learn from your failures or mistakes, then you will be doomed to repeat them.  I have had my fair share of mistakes and failures, believe me.

On my YouTube channel I will be starting a weekly video blog.  I may decide to post more than weekly if the desire and enough topics come up that warrant it.  I have a strange feeling it will on occasion.  Many issues about current events, the New York Jets, my past, my future, other projects, random opinions, being bullied, and plenty of other topics that require more commas.  Sometimes writing is not enough as certain emotions and body language make video a better form of self expression.

I do not want to ramble on, cramming topics that have no relation to each other into one post.  Your mind would be over the place more than a Jack Russell Terrier.  Which means I will have to come back more often to update everyone.  Sounds good here.  I enjoy saying what everyone else thinks.  Making statements and passing comments that make others gasp, but know those comments are true.  If you are not a fan of that, sarcasm, and comments that “straddle the line”, then you may want to read another blog.  If you are one who enjoys that kind of wit and banter, then I encourage you to keep coming back to enjoy yourself while having a few laughs.

Time to get some other items done.  Will be moving in a few weeks so time is spent packing and tossing out items that have been sitting in closets for over 10 years.  Many bags of clothes and other items have already been donated to Goodwill.  Still a ton more to go through.  I will have my first vlog up next week.  It will be raw with no graphics or effects, but no sense in waiting considering I have waited long enough.  See you all soon, on here and on YouTube.

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Vision Impairments & The Warrior Dash Don’t Slow Me Down

This Saturday will be my second time competing in the Warrior Dash at Lewis Morris Memorial Park in Morristown, NJ.  Races like this appeal to me mainly for the obstacle course they put together.  If majority of the race was an obstacle course without all the running, I would enjoy it even more.  The Warrior Dash is 3.2 miles and about 15 obstacles over all kinds of terrain.  You run through open fields, up steep hills, through small rivers, a lake, over walls, in mud, and everything else the people at Red Frog Events can throw at their warriors.  A lot of fun actually.

Warrior-Dash-1Last year I finished the race in 47 minutes plus change.  All I am looking to do on Saturday is beat my own time.  It does not matter if it is by 10 seconds or five minutes. I just want to show improvement.  Even when I was a wrestler I showed the same intensity.  Regardless of the challenge put in front of me, I am always determined to prove I can overcome.  If I can not, then I know I gave it my best.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when anyone tells me I can not do something.  People will use words like “No” or “You can’t”.  I answer with “Yes, I can” and “watch me”.  Obstacles are always being put in front of me.  Once I was diagnosed with central vision loss in 1991, many areas of enjoyment became off-limits.  I was informed I could no longer wrestle in high school.  Told to not exert myself in to strenuous a fashion.  That sat with me for many years.

Did I listen?

No.

After high school I wrestled professionally on the independent circuit for a while.  I told no doctors or my parents.  It took a picture being left out by my brother for my mother to know I was wrestling.  Did I stop at that point?  Nope.  It didn’t even slow me down.  I was proving that even though I had suffered this vision damage and told not to exert myself physically, that I was able to do it with no new damage happening.

406257_3724698788475_628888476_nMy eye doctor at the time was amazed.  My current specialist in NYC was shocked to know what I did and nothing happened further with my vision.  My mother eventually said “If I can not stop you, I may as well support you”.  Now THAT was a big win for me.  My determination in completing what I start gives me focus.  I did not have closure wrestling in high school because someone else ended it for me.  I guess that is why even today I do not like others halting me from what I know is right for myself.  If I know something is beyond me or too dangerous, I am intelligent enough to know when to stop.  My wife tends to think otherwise.  In her case, I listen.

I became aware of the Warrior Dash a few years ago.  I subscribe to Men’s Health magazine and they were taking out ads in every issue.  Even before Red Frog started running events in NJ last year, I knew I wanted to attempt it.  Red Frog Events has been putting on the Warrior Dash longer than a majority of the other mud runs out there.  I kept pushing off racing as I was not in the best shape.  But as life and situations improved for my wife and myself, I knew the Warrior Dash was in my future.  I worked out at L.A. Fitness last year, about 4 days a week.  I put together a weight routine and ran on the elliptical every time I worked out.

I had myself in decent shape.  Decent enough to get through the race without needed oxygen afterwards.  I just hate doing cardio.  Long distance running is not my forte.  I understand stamina is needed for any physical event and sports so hence doing a necessary evil.  One has to run in order to have enough stamina.  One also needs to shed unwanted pounds in make cardio easier.  I am at the same weight now that I was last year.  I know if I lose another 10-15 pounds, the cardio will be a lot easier.  Something to focus on before next year’s race.  I am a nighttime snacker, sue me.

Completing last year’s race as a sole racer, no teammates, had me smiling from ear to ear for days.  My elation in running a race filled with obstacles and being able to physically put myself out there for enjoyment makes me hold my head a little bit higher.  I am a physical person by nature, it makes me happy.  I gain confidence knowing that even with my limitations, I can still enjoy the physical activities others said I would not be able to do.  If I could have played football as a kid, I would have.

389089_3724662267562_1262596730_nA few weeks after the Warrior Dash last year I noticed a change in my right eye.  I decided to make a doctor’s appointment to see what the change was.  After the usual tests the doctor informed me I had some leakage on the blood vessels behind my eye.  No blood or anything yet. just the start of something.  They caught it in time to halt its progression and even minimize the effects.  All it took was a shot to my eye.  Apparently, a cancer medication has become useful for those with glaucoma in slowing it’s advancement.  My mother currently gets them every few weeks.

He explained it as a small brush fire that sparks or a lightning strike.  Prediction of what may happen is uncertain for someone my age with this condition.  All they can do is watch it, they do not want me to limit myself in what I do in life.  That was a sigh of relief.  Since that point I have not had another shot.  I have been back for follow-up visits with everything being fine.  By this point, I started to work out harder in the gym.  I knew my limits and I was determined to straddle the line in pushing that limit.

warrior-dashI switched health clubs from L.A. Fitness to New York Sports Clubs.  NYSC offered kettlebells, TRX, UXF, and a fraction of the membership.  Parking is easy to find, the equipment I want is always available, they provide towels, and the management goes out of their way to make it enjoyable.  L.A. Fitness was always busy, other members were rude, plus when one has to wait to use every piece of equipment, it can be annoying.   There is a story there in itself.  It was a change for the better.

Over the next several months I really bulked up.  My shirts we getting tighter up top.  My wife has been extremely happy about it.  I am in the second best shape of my life.  When I was 30, I was in great shape and a little leaner too.  I added more muscle this time.  Plus my abs are starting to see definition for the first time in like, history.  I enjoy going to the gym.  It feels good.  I am no gym rat or a “I lift things up and put them down” type of guy.  I only want to stay in shape and enjoy myself in the process.

I knew for this years Warrior Dash I added extra strength.  I have no run as much as I did to prepare last year.  I used to run 4 days a week.  Now I am lucky if I get to the gym for two days a week.  I always run a fast mile before any work out as a warm up.  The distance running is what I lack time in.  I can keep a steady pace and run five and a half miles in an hour.  More than enough to help me finish the race.  I just hate the anticipation of all that running.  Once again, it is that necessary evil.

486777_10151577216754394_1610444792_nEven as I know my vision got a little worse it did not deter me from wanting to race again.  I will be doing events and activities like this until I physically can not do so.  I also run the Warrior Dash for those more visually impaired than I am.  For those blind and visually impaired who would like to participate in physical and challenging events.  Many have other causes and purposes for running other events, this is mine.

I ran the race for the same reason last year.  It was a great experience I wish other could have shared with me.  This year, everyone will be able to.  I will be running the race with a GoPro Hero 3 Silver Edition.  This way everyone can see what the Warrior Dash is like and share in the ride.  The video should be up a week or so after the race.  Maybe if some people I know see how the Warrior Dash is, they might reconsider and want to race next year.

I wrote a piece last year before my first race (shar.es/kNfFB , best link I can do).  I gave more detail about my wrestling background, being bullied, and more where the Warrior Dash just became one more obstacle to overcome.  Every time I defeat a course like the Dash, I feel a little prouder of myself each time.  I rarely ask for help, even when I know I am having troubles.  I am getting better in asking for assistance in some ares.  Men hate to look vulnerable or weak, it is hard to ask for help at times.  The bigger men are the one;s who know when to ask & understand it will not affect their pride.  I am learning the latter.

It is hard to ignore my vision issues every time I open my eyes.  At least my dreams are in perfect 20/20.  I have to constantly think a few moves ahead to compensate for the loss.  I am sure many others who have had their setbacks have a certain method they use to overcome and lead a normal life.  I hate using the word disability.  Many are inflicted with one but it never slows them down.  Those people run a Warrior Dash every day of their life.  The daily obstacle course, filled with challenges, that are overcome everyday.  For some, making it to tomorrow is the biggest victory.

531371_3724686948179_1563518323_nSeriously though, click the link above and read the article.  I can tug a few more heart-strings and give you more to laugh at by clicking the link above.  Go ahead.  This piece is not going anywhere.  It will be here for you to finish when you are done reading it.  Fin.  Keep reading here.  At least share it.  I had to try a little shameless self plug.  It provides insight as to why a race like this is important to me.  The article provides a better understanding of who I am  & why it is important to never give up on what truly matters in life.

Next year I will not just be running in the Warrior Dash,m but the Tough Mudder as well.  I need to be in better physical shape for the Mudder.  Dedication to training and a better diet over the next year is key to have the stamina and energy to last 10-12 miles.  As I prepare for the Tough Mudder, I will also prepare for American Ninja Warrior.  That is my ultimate goal.  To at least make it through the first round of qualifying for American Ninja Warrior.  I have the right frame of mind for both events, now my body needs to be just as ready.

I love a great challenge.  Nothing makes me smile more than facing life obstacles and overcoming them.  Making people rethink their comments to me, after they see what I am able to overcome.  I love to prove others wrong when it comes to my physical limitations.  No one leads my life or knows what I am capable of.  The only way to find out is to stand back and watch.  Or head to my YouRube channel to watch my videos.

Either way, I will give everyone a reason to stand up and take notice.  Not everyone is perfect.  We all have our imperfections.  Mine just happens to be my vision.  Tat never slowed me down.

And it never will.

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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.