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In Defense of the Group – 5 Reasons Why You Should Ride, Run, Paddle, Train, and Race with Others

Life is crazy. I get it. Trust me, I get it. With a wife, 4 kids, some rental property to manage, a job, grass to cut, sinks to fix, diapers to change, magazine covers to shoot, and now a dog to take care of, life can get crazy. But it’s for this very reason that we must continue to ride, run, paddle, train, and race as a group.

Group Ride in the Snow

Now, I am fortunate enough to have an AMAZING wife (I love you, Shmoopie!) that is cool with me meeting my friends and teammates for some group training or even leaving for an entire weekend to suffer through a 36 hour adventure race as a team. She doesn’t have a problem with it, but she doesn’t fully understand it. And I don’t think anyone can truly understand it without getting out there with like-minded people on a regular basis. You just have to experience it to really get it. But I’ll try to give you a few reasons why I love training and racing with others.

1. Training and racing as a group creates unforgettable moments that last a lifetime.

Adam, Bob, Luke Muddy

'Member when we rode through all that snow and mud, and then Bob crashed (twice) and got his knee all bloody?

For instance there was this one time when Bob decided to… Wait… It won’t be funny to type it. You had to be there. But there was this other time when Casey tipped our canoe and… Um… Well, it just won’t do the experience justice to simply describe it. You had to be there. However, this other time on the way to one of our races, Drew got out of the car on the side of the highway and… Uh… If I tell that story, Drew might get arrested. YOU HAD TO BE THERE! And that’s my point. You have to be there experiencing the ups, downs, and everything in between to create those everlasting memories.

After pack-rafting at Thunder Rolls

'Member when we endured the pure hell of pack-rafting UPRIVER only to climb what seemed like a thousand stairs just to get ONE measly checkpoint?

2. Training and racing as a group allows you to see and experience things you normally wouldn’t see or experience by yourself.

This one kind of goes along with #1, but I know I wouldn’t do half of the things I do if I had to do them by myself. Meeting up with friends and teammates, however, gets me to do all kinds of things which, in turn, leads to great memories.

For instance… Have you ever sat in a canoe on the bank of the Missouri River waiting for the river to calm down while a gynormous sand barge goes by? Well, we have.

Paddling on the Missouri River

That sand barge tried to run us over... Thrice.

Have you ever had to hike 13+ miles in a cold, driving rain at 50 degrees with your friend, a reporter with a separated shoulder, and a daring, young professional photographer? Well, we have.

Hiking in the Cold Rain

Still smiling even though we were miserable.

Have you ever built a raft out of pool noodles after being lost all night while hallucinating in the rain during a 36 hour adventure race? Well, guess what? We have.

Noodle Raft

Why did I have to be on bottom? Oh yeah... I'm the fat one.

With my friends and teammates I feel like I can do anything. Seriously… Alone, we are nothing to write home about, but as a group we are nearly invincible! Or at least mediocre.

3. You will form some great friendships and create and/or deepen bonds that will enrich your life.

I’ve made many new friends through racing and training. Bob has become one of my BFF’s, but I didn’t even know him until we agreed to do a race together. We’re good enough friends that he actually drove an hour and a half out of his way to help me fix the Virtus Van last week. And while I knew Adam and Robby before they joined the team, I now count them as two of my closest friends. So close in fact, that Adam and I helped Robby move into his new house in the blistering heat – something I would NOT do for just anyone. And I had never even met Rusty before he stumbled onto our blog, and now I consider him a great friend (and a replacement to Adam).

Rusty in deep thought

Rusty contemplates the meaning of friendship.

I’ve always been close with my family, but training and racing with them has made us even closer. There’s just something about suffering together and overcoming obstacles together that seems to strengthen family ties. We’ve all heard the saying, “The family that rapels together, stays together.” Wait… That’s a saying, isn’t it? Well, it is now.

3 generations of Lambs

Three generations of Lambs climbing, zip lining, rapelling, and kicking ass together.

4. Accountability is Huge when you train with a group.

Training can be fun… Sometimes. At other times, I’d rather drink a couple of shots filled with the sweat wrung out of Bob’s chamois after a long bike ride in blazing heat. It’s especially tough for me when it’s early in the morning.

Early Morning Run

It's so damn early Bob's eyes aren't even open.

Sometimes I just don’t feel like training at all. But then I remember that we’ve signed up for a 24 hour adventure race, and I know I need to train even when I don’t want to. So I go and check out our account on, and I see that Casey has just run 10 miles by himself in NY. I decide to call some of the guys up and plan some paddling practice, a run, or a ride. Knowing that others are training their asses off and knowing that I have to meet up with the guys to train forces me to do it when I don’t want to.

5. You become a better person in practically every way when you ride, run, paddle, train, and race as a part of a group.

Look… I LOVE my family. I love my family more than anything in this world, and I would do ANYTHING for them. Not only do I have the greatest wife in the world (as I previously mentioned), but my kids are the best in the world as well. My parents are the best parents a guy could ask for, and I can only hope that I’m half as good of a parent as they are. My brothers are two of my closest friends and I love them dearly (yes, even Casey). My In-Laws are even ridiculously amazing! Seriously, I’m truly the luckiest guy in the world, and I’m not just writing this because I know my family will read it (although that never hurts… I hope they emember this for my birthday in January).

Daddy Date Night

Daddy Date Night with Della and Mabel - I TOLD you I'm a lucky guy!

It’s not very hard to want to be around family when you’re as lucky as I am. However… I think I’m a better husband, father, son, brother, son-in-law and overall a better man because of Team Virtus and the training and racing we do together. Whenever I leave my family to do some training or racing, I always come back refreshed and rejuvenated. I come back with a different perspective.

Father Daughter Dance

Me and Lyd before the Father - Daughter Dance.

I don’t get as upset or annoyed with the whining when I get home. I don’t even care if Becca wants to watch a chick flick even though (SPOILER ALERT) we all know the guy meets the gal, one of them has a secret or has told a lie, the other one finds out and they break up, and then they get back together again. I don’t even look at changing Otis’ diapers as a chore anymore (except when he poops of course… That kid can drop a load, man!).

Otis Kiss

There's nothing better in the world.

I’ve also lost weight (yes, I’m still “husky” but I’m thinner than I used to be), I’m in better shape, and I’m healthier because of all of the group training and racing we’ve been doing. And that means that I’ll be around much longer for my family. You can’t even put a price on that one.

And we also have a “Team Code” that we all follow. It all starts with “Strength & Honor.” We try to portray those qualities not only in training and racing, but in everything we do. And that can only make us better.

Virtus Logo

So, there you have it. Five reasons to ride, run, paddle, train, and race with others. I know there is a time and a place for training solo, and we all have to do what we have to do. But you really need to get out there with other people to fully understand what I’m talking about.

If you don’t train or race with others, why not? And if you do, then share with us any reasons I may have missed. Seriously, we want to hear from you. Hit us up with a comment below.

Paddle, Run, Paddle, Prowler Push, and Pain… Oh, the Pain.

It’s hard enough to push yourself when training. So it’s always nice to be able to train with a teammate. Bob picked me up on Friday night for some fun/training/pain. We went to Binder Park here in Jefferson City, and we hopped in a tandem kayak around 8:30 or so.

We paddled across the lake (roughly a mile), and then we hopped out and hiked over to the red loop (my favorite trail to ride and run) for some running as the nearly full moon crested over the treetops. After running the 1.65 mile trail by the light of our headlamps, we headed back over to the kayak hidden in the marshy, brush.  We paddled back across the lake without the use of any artificial light since the moon was so beautifully bright.

Moon Shining on Lake

Binder Lake Looked JUST like this... Sort of...

After paddling the mile back across the lake, we loaded the kayak back onto the truck to head home. Now, this probably would’ve been enough for most mortals.  We are, however, TEAM VIRTUS.  So, we wanted to finish off the evening with some real pain.  We headed to the nearby school parking lot for some Prowler Pushes.

The Econo Prowler

This is actually the Econo-Prowler which is what we use

The Econo Prowler looks innocent enough, but don’t let appearances fool you.  You know what they say… You can’t judge a book by sticking your head up a Bull’s ass… No wait… It’s gotta be your bull…  Uh, wait… You know what I mean. Anywho, This simple sled is actually a device of self-imposed torture.  Seriously, I have a love/hate relationship with this bad boy.  It looks so easy, and at first it may even seem easy.  However, after the first 10 seconds or so, you start to realize that it ain’t so easy.  Then as you get 20+ seconds into a Prowler push, you realize that it kinda sucks.  By the time you finish, you want to die.

You can add weight to the Prowler to make it more difficult when doing sprints, or you can even have your training partner sit on it while you try to sprint with it (I think this is Bob’s favorite way to use it).  Or you can use the Prowler with no additional weight (it probably weighs 40-50 pounds by itself) and push it uphill or push it over longer distances.  Whatever way you decide to use it, you will experience pain… Lots of pain…

After the paddling and running, Bob and I decided to do some hill pushes followed by one long-distance out and back.  It only took 18 minutes (including recovery time) to completely destroy ourselves.  Here is video evidence (just remember… It’s MUCH harder than it looks):

By the way, that video was taken with my new iPod Nano 5th Generation that I got for Father’s Day (a big thanks to my wife and kiddos!!!).

So there you have it.  Just another day in the life of Team Virtus.  If you have questions or anything then please leave a comment.  Or if you want to join us next time then drop us a line, and we’ll be sure to let you know about our next date with the Prowler.

Until next time, keep on truckin’.  Onward and upward, my friends.

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