Rise and shine….

It has been a long while since I have done an early morning run.  My schedule has worked out to where I can get runs in just after work and before I pick the kids up from school.  Or I can get a run in when my son is practicing baseball.  But today’s schedule would not give me the time I needed, so I decided to rise and shine and run.

When Lukas Lamb talked me into signing up for the Mark Twain Endurance Run I started looking for motivation.  The rise and shine video really spoke to my inner drive.  I started running.  Every time I feel myself not wanting to run I watch that video.  It inspires me to go run and to push forward.  I keep the ultimate goal in my mind and just run.  I run when I don’t want to.  I run when it rains.  I run when it is hot.  I run when it is dark and when it is light.  I just run.

This morning was about myself.  When I stepped outside, the sun was starting to come up, but it was still dark enough where I couldn’t see the time clearly on my watch.  I was immediately inspired.  I was up before the sun and it felt great!  The only sounds were that of nature and the pack of coyotes off in the distance.  My run started with a nice simple warm-up down the road and back.  Before I knew it I was on the gravel road that leads to a horse barn.  I pushed down and back on this road and then headed out of the neighborhood.  The pace I had set felt good and I told myself that I was going to do 20 minutes out and 20 back.  “Steady Brown…Steady.”  But to my surprise, when I got to 20 minutes I was only .2 away from 2.5 miles completed.  Why stop now?

I wanted to continue on past 2.5 miles, but time was not on my side.  Reluctantly the turn around happened at 2.5 miles.  The rest of the run was great!  I only saw 1 car and it was nothing but me and the birds…and the pack of coyotes I could still hear in the distance.

Morning runs are definitely going to start happening more and more.  I loved the peace and quiet.  I loved the coolness of the air and I also loved hearing the coyotes.

“I am a great champion; when I ran the ground shook and the skies opened and mere mortals parted the way to victory” ~Dreamer

 

3rd Time’s the Charm – Team Virtus Takes on the Dirty Kanza 200 Again

I feel lost. I don’t really know what the hell I’m going to do with myself this weekend as my fellow Virtusans set forth on a mission to finish The Dirty Kanza 200. I will sadly, for various reasons with which I won’t bore you, not be in attendance this year. I feel like I should be there as part of the support crew, but I just can’t make it happen this year.

Buffalo Penis over Robby's head.

So many great memories have been made at DK over the last few years.

Finishing DK two years ago alongside Bob and Adam was one of the highlights of my supremely mediocre (at best) racing career. Last year, my heart wasn’t into it, and it showed when I pulled out at the 108 mile mark. I doubt I’d have finished anyway because the wind was horrible, but both Robby and Casey crushed it last year.

finish line of DK 200

I was so proud of Casey and Robby. What an unbelievable effort to have finished in that effing wind last year!

Unfortunately, Kate hasn’t quite been able to finish this beast of a race. Two years ago she made it 165 miles after getting into the race with just a few weeks to train for it. Last year she succumbed to the wind as so many others did. This year, however, she’s more than ready. Barring a serious mechanical or severe weather (both very real possibilities), Kate is going to finish this fucker this year. No doubt in my mind.

And to make sure Kate finishes, I apparently gave her some extra motivation a few months back. I don’t exactly remember how this all came about, but both Bob and Kate assure me that this happened. Somewhere in an email conversation or facebook chat or maybe even in a face to face conversation, I said if Kate finished the DK this year, I’d be at the finish line in…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

… Nothing but a jock strap.

What the hell was I thinking?! It’s not that I’m betting against her at all, because that would be a foolish thing to do. In fact, it isn’t a bet at all since Kate owes me nothing if she fails to finish (which ain’t gonna happen anyway).

It’s just that I know how much pleasure we all get out of embarrassing each other, and when the going gets tough – and it will get tough – Kate will keep going, knowing that my utter humiliation is in her hands. And I honestly can’t remember how those words ever came from my mouth or keyboard, but I guess they did. I’m such an idiot.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, I won’t be in attendance. So all of the wonderful people at the finish line will be spared from seeing me nearly naked. In lieu of being at the finish line in a jock strap, Kate has agreed to accept a photo posted to our facebook page instead. So, that’s gonna be a treat for everyone.

As much as I don’t want to have to post that photo, I truly want Kate to finish Dirty Kanza this year. I hope all of them – Kate, Bob, Adam, and Travis – finish the race and have a great time. I’m just bummed I won’t be there to see it all go down. And I’ll be even more bummed when I have to post that stupid photo.

So, to my Virtus brothers and sister, good luck, ride strong, and have fun! Strength and Honor to you all.

Adventure Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work – 4/18/14

That’s right! This is a new series here on the Virtus Blog. First, though, I have to give props for this idea to my favorite strength and conditioning blogger, Tony Gentilcore. He’s hilarious, entertaining, and super smart when it comes to fitness. And yes, I totally ripped the idea off from him.

This idea is simple. We’ll post some cool shit related to adventure that we think you should check out. This first installment will be focused on The Cedar Cross since it’s coming up quick, but there’s still time to register!  It is a gravel race in Mid-Mo that is the perfect tune-up race for Dirty Kanza, and it’s one that you don’t want to miss. The race director isn’t half-bad either.

1. One Month to Go and Heavies Ride for Free – Bob Fuckin’ Jenkins

The Cedar Cross is the shit for many, many reasons. One of those reasons is our very own Bob Jenkins. A couple weeks ago, there was an ad on facebook basically making fun of an overweight rider, and it was despicable. Bob was moved to write this post and make Cedar Cross even more awesomer. Read it and see just how fantastic this race is going to be.

2. Cedar Cross 2013 Video – thebikeweiss

Okay, so this technically doesn’t require any reading, but you should still check it out. I don’t know the guy who made it, but it shows some great footage of the race from last year.

3. Cedar Cross 2012 Race Report – Casey F. Ryback

Here’s a great race report from our friend, Casey, from Team Seagal. It’s from the inaugural Cedar Cross way back in 2012. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll sign up for Cedar Cross 2014 and join in on all the fun.

Let us know what you think of the new series. Do you like it or does it suck? Should we continue or shitcan it?

High Profile Adventure Camp 2014: Couples Edition

I’ve heard that racing with your spouse can ruin a marriage. I’ve heard horror stories of couples nearly killing each other out there. But I’ve never had doubts about my marriage, and the High Profile Adventure Camp only made me realize how fucking lucky I actually am to be married to Becca. The weekend in Mount Carroll, IL only confirmed that my wife is indeed my soul mate… even though she literally wished she was with another man at one point, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The original plan for Team Virtus was to all go to camp together and bring our significant others. It was to be an epic battle (and party) with all of us there. Unfortunately, this thing we call life got in the way. Work, children’s sporting events, medical procedures, and perhaps a touch of Antisocial Behavior Disorder kept many Virtusans and their partners from attending camp. But nothing would stop Adam, Michelle, Becca, and I from going. (EDIT: There was one more Virtusan there. Kate, as she pointed out in the comments below, was also there. She volunteered, and she kicked ass as the camp’s social media guru and helped clear the orienteering course.)

We saw a lot of our AR friends as we made our way through the painless check- in at Camp Benson, and we got our fantastic swag bags (worth well over $100 at least). Then we hauled all our gear down to our orgy love shack cabin before heading back up to the lodge for burgers followed by Gerry Voelliger’s opening talk on all things Adventure Racing.

Cabin at Camp Benson for High Profile Adventure Camp

The ladies in front of our cabin.

After Gerry’s talk, I headed over for the advanced orienteering lecture (although I am anything but advanced). Adam stayed with Michelle and Becca for the beginner orienteering talk, and our friend and camp volunteer Dave Huntley promised he’d help out if Becca needed it. Big thanks to him.

It was great sitting next to our friend Scott Frederickson from Team Bushwhacker at the advanced orienteering lecture. He chimed in with some great pointers a few times, and anything I didn’t quite understand was easily explained by Scott.

After the lectures, we hiked back down to the cabin for some group love shut-eye. The flatulence was somewhat disappointing without our friends from WTFAR there and no Bob Jenkins, but Michelle almost made up for their absence. She can really rip ‘em!

The next morning we practiced our orienteering skills at Palisades State Park. Unfortunately, the Mississippi was partially frozen over, so there would be no paddling practice for us. That’s probably a good thing since Gerry still uses this damn photo of us from our first year at camp in his opening lecture. That also meant we had more time to practice our navigation and, later, fixed ropes.

We decided we’d stay in a group of four for the orienteering practice. We headed straight up – and I mean straight UP – to our first checkpoint. On the way, we had to stop off at one of our favorite views, a spot we’ve visited every time we’ve gone to camp.

lookout point at palisades state park

Aw… Isn’t that – BARF!

luke and becca at the lookout point

So beautiful. And the view ain’t bad either. (I apologize for the hard nipple in this shot. It was cold.)

We were mostly successful, although I led us astray on one point that other teams swore was not there. So of course Adam and I had to try and find it. That was stupid. We spoke with our friend and camp volunteer Kim Heintz later, and we figured out where we went wrong. Even though I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, I still have lots to learn and a ton of room for improvement.

Although we didn’t have a perfect run of CPs, I thought we were all having a blast. But then, as we were hiking, Becca turned to me and said:

“I wish Bob Jenkins was here. He’s way more entertaining.”

Ouch. That one hurt. I tried to hide the tears, but everyone knew I was crushed. She’d rather be with my BFF than her own husband? Damn! That just killed me.

Becca claims that she thought she was boring me and that I’d rather have Bob with me instead of her. Don’t get me wrong. Bob always makes everything fun, but there was no one else I’d rather have by my side than Becca. (Cue the sappy music all you want, but it’s true.)

Becca and Michelle are brand new to adventure racing and orienteering, so it was good practice for them as well. They even lead us to one of the CPs without any help. For real! Check it out:

Orienteering at Adventure Racing Camp

They were excited. Can you tell?

Being new to adventure racing, Becca tried to avoid using the woods as a bathroom (maybe we should get her a Go Girl?). She tried to hold it, but eventually had to succumb to nature’s call. Adam was a gentleman and turned the other way as Becca went behind a tree to take care of business. About 30 yards down the trail – literally – we found an outhouse which Michelle gladly used.

After another CP or two, it was time to go back to the Virtus Van and head back to Camp Benson. We stopped at McDonald’s on the way back, because there was a line at Subway. Believe it or not, we were running behind – shocker, I know! – so we opted for the quicker and much greasier burgers and fries than to wait in line at Subway.

Back at camp, Gerry gave the Ropes Safety Talk which terrified me the first year we went to camp. Then the one and only Robyn Benincasa gave a brief talk about paddling followed by some great, quick-hitters on AR gear, strategy, navigation, nutrition, and more. It was a short but jam-packed session as the knowledge bombs kept raining down on us.

Gerry Voelliger at High Profile Adventure Racing Camp

Hey Gerry, quit playing with your dinghy! Oh wait, that’s just a carabiner.

Robyn Benincasa Paddling Lecture

With 3 world records in paddling, I’m pretty sure Robyn Benincasa knows her shit.

And then it was time for the fixed ropes practice: rappelling, zip lining, tryolean traversing, and ascending (we skipped the rock climbing to practice more of the skills we’d encounter at the race the next day).

The first time I ever rappelled was at High Profile Adventure Camp, and I was flat-out petrified. I was nauseated and sweating profusely. I wanted to chicken out badly, but I didn’t. Even today, I get a little nervous, so I was expecting Becca and Michelle to be quite scared. Well, they weren’t.

After watching my wife give birth to our four amazing kids and pass kidney stones as easily as Bob passes gas, I already know she is way tougher than I’ll ever be. Watching her crush all of the fixed ropes proves she’s braver than I’ll ever be as well.

Rather than bore you with words, I’ll just show you how much fun we had on the ropes.

Rappelling

Michell Rappelling at Adventure Racing Camp

Michelle had rappelled before, but it was a LONG time ago. She rocked it!

Becca rappelling at adventure racing camp

Becca’s first rappel ever!

Becca's rappel at High Profile Adventure Camp

Becca on her second rappel.

Ascending

Becca ascending at Adventure Racing Camp

Becca struggled just a bit to get started ascending, but once she found her rhythm, she crushed it!

Adam ascending at High Profile Camp

Adam is an OLD pro at ascending by now.

Ascending for Michelle at AR Camp

Michelle made it up too!

Zip Line

Becca on the Zip Line

Becca coming down the Zip Line.

 

Michelle at the bottom of the Zip Line

The Zip Line was a bit slow at the bottom, so you had to pull yourself down the last half or so.

Tyrolean Traverse

Michelle opted to conserve her energy for the race in the morning, so she decided to skip the Tryolean Traverse. It’s not too bad for the first half since you’re going slightly “downhill.” But then you have to pull yourself the rest of the way, fighting gravity. It can be very tiring.

Becca on the Tyrolean Traverse

Becca at the midway point. It’s all “uphill” from there.

Dave Huntley and Becca at the Tyrolean Traverse

All of the volunteers at camp are top-notch. Dave even gave me a bouncy ride on my traverse, but he was kind enough to let Becca have a steady rope.

Later that evening, Robyn Benincasa gave her world-class talk on what makes winners win, what makes a good team, and what makes a good leader. This talk alone is worth the price of admission.

Then Gerry gave the pre-race briefing, and we got our maps. The Lightning Strikes report will come out soon – sometime within the next two years.

As you can probably tell, we had an amazingly good time the first day and a half. The High Profile Adventure Camp is hands down the best way for beginners to get started in adventure racing, and it’s also a great place where veterans of the sport can continue learning and expanding their skills.

For what you get – the top-notch instruction, the lodging, the awesome swag bag, some food, the super safe environment, the fun, the adventure, the laughs, and then a  4- or 8-hour adventure race – it is an absolute steal. You’re crazy if you don’t go at least once.

We’ll definitely be back (a fourth time for me), and hopefully we’ll have more Virtusans and spouses with us.

A Virtusan’s Best Friend

This post is long overdue. And I mean LOOOOOOOONG overdue. We need to first say sorry to someone, and then turn around and thank that same someone.

We need to apologize for taking so long in writing this blog post. So, we sincerely apologize. We were – and are – afraid that whatever we write will never truly express how we feel. Hopefully, we can come close.

Now, on to the thanks.

We’d like to thank a very special someone who has supported us not only financially, but emotionally and spiritually as well. For the last two years, Cead Mile Failte Ceilidh, or just Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee) for short,  has been our biggest and furriest (yes even furrier than Bob) sponsor.

Wheaten Terrier

Ceilidh is a gorgeous Wheaten Terrier.

Before Ceilidh, I had never even heard of a Wheaten Terrier, but after being educated by my good friend, and Ceilidh’s mom, Ann, I’ve come to realize just how much of a Virtusan Ceilidh really is.  Don’t believe me? Read on.

  • Although Wheaten Terriers are now beloved animals worldwide, they were once known in Ireland as “dogs for poor men,” much like Team Virtus is known as a poor man’s Tecnu Extreme Adventure Racing Team. Wait, what? We’ve never been called that? Well, maybe it’s about time you all start.
  • Team Virtus does a little bit of everything – AR, mountain biking, cyclocross, knitting – just like Wheaten Terriers did a little bit of everything back in Ireland – hunting, herding, exterminating vermin, guarding livestock .
  • Most Wheaten Terriers weigh in at 30 – 40 pounds, but not Ceilidh. In true Virtusan fashion, Ceilidh is a bit husky, tipping the scales at roughly 60 pounds!
  • Ceilidh also has a Virtusan’s heart and spirit. He’s a bit mischievous and rowdy, sometimes chewing and eating everything in sight – just like we do before, during, and after every race.
Caylee's practicing for a Mystery Event.

Ceilidh’s practicing for a Mystery Event.

Because of Ceilidh’s  financial support, we’ve been able to race at Dirty Kanza more affordably, reduce the cost of our jerseys, buy some Control Markers for our Adventure Non-Races, and many other things. And for that we, thank you.

The financial support has been incredible and unexpected, and as much as we truly, truly appreciate it, that’s not the only reason we love Ceilidh and his parents, Ann and Mark.

As amazing as Ceilidh is, Ann and Mark are just as amazing. Every time we race, we know they are keeping an eye on facebook and any other outlets to see how we’re doing. Knowing they are behind us makes us push ourselves that much harder.

Wheaten Terrier through window

Ceilidh is ready to go!

It’s really great knowing that we have friends  (the people- as well as the four-legged-variety) who had never even heard of Adventure Racing until a few years ago, out there watching us, supporting us, and cheering us on. It means more to us than they’ll ever know.

Wheaten Terrier Puppy

Here is Caylee as a pup. Just look at that face!

So to Ceilidh and his parents, from all of us Virtusans, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Ceilidh is, and forever will be, a Virtusan, through and through.

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