Tag Archives: active

Spartan

My Spartan Race is scheduled for tomorrow on the muddy ski slopes of Pennsylvania; this is how I planned to prepare for the brutal 5 mile obstacle course: over run Prospect Park for distance familiarity, while alternating between sprint intervals and weight training for strength conditioning. As adults, we generally get over the spectacle of walking after we learn to do so as toddlers, unless yesterday was leg day, and you wake up with quadriceps contractions.

I came a long way from the super skinny competitive guy who hated losing, and mocked losers. I have always been competitive and obsessive enough to be good at anything I set my mind to; however, I wasn’t always equipped to excel at physical activities. Being slender, among people who intermittently exercise to lose weight, has earned me quite a few “good genes” and “divine metabolism” remarks; nonetheless, being scoffed at for eating small portions never gets old; neither does a lack of fat translate into an abundance of muscle. I learned the difference one summer when I went to visit my sister on an Army base, and was demolished on a basketball court by muscular men, the likes of which never make it from the pull-up bars to the basketball courts in Brooklyn.

By my mid-twenties, without professional aspirations, I finally adopted an active lifestyle to challenge myself. By that, I mean: I stand in trains cars, even the empty ones. I look forward to flights of stairs, two steps at a time! If not for sweaty shirts and winter months, my bike would be my primary mode of transportation. After paying for multiple gym memberships, I bought my own weights and weight vest to spontaneously break out into workouts. Without fail, I feel bigger, faster, stronger every year. Always trying to one up myself, I joined the New York Road Runners Club with the intention of running the 2014 ING New York Marathon. Now I have to run 9 club sanctioned races before the end of 2013, just to run another 26 miles next year; and I can’t wait.

In the mean time, without an option for “IT professional” on the Spartan Race application, I was told to represent; which means I plan to finish in the top 10% and Instagram a deluge of post race photographs. This isn’t the last of my personal challenges this year either: see my five minute plank if you haven’t already, then look forward to my race against a train; yes, a train, you read that right. Madness?

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Two Roads Diverge

During this wait for my scheduled Firefighter’s Physical Fitness Exam, numerous training programs have reached out to offer strength and aerobic preparation. I met one such program at Prospect Park during one of my routine laps: I’m an athlete; then I passed them: I’m a competitor. And during the weekend that just passed, gratefully filled with humid 60 degree days, I biked from Brooklyn College to 138th Street, and took multiple back and forth journeys in between, which amounted to some 40 pedaled miles. I was accompanied on one such ride by a friend, who submitted my quote of the week:

You don’t just bounce off of cars and continue living.

False. I have. Crossing Flatbush Avenue on Bergen Avenue (pictured above), a car attempted to park through my bike lane, while I tried to round a routine corner. I instructed that driver on proper driving etiquette, hopefully enough to save another biker from a similar experience. My point though, is that my idea of living is not “not dying.” I have seen fear turn “try or quit” choices into “life or death” scenarios. Things happen; stay aware, don’t over react, and respond appropriately. Maybe my assessment isn’t fair, considering my next chosen professional endeavor is designed to face death.

Don’t be misled, I’m a responsible adult who doesn’t play real life Road Rage. I brake at red lights and stop signs then go through them if there isn’t traffic. I pay attention to my surroundings, which way upcoming streets are directed, car indicators, and last minute wheel turns. I should probably wear a helmet more often. At the same time, I will ride twenty miles exhausted, fueled by no more than a Starbucks bagel and Chipotle burrito. It’s in my nature to jump off of my bike and play intense basketball games wearing a pair of khaki shorts and polo shirt; because that sedentary life isn’t for me. A while back, a friend asked why I quit smoking and drinking alcohol, I told him that I wanted to experience my prime in its prime; this same dude got ripped on P90X months later and I couldn’t be prouder. In lieu of wishing for an easier life, I work for greater resolve; so go ahead and chase the path most traveled, I will not be joining you. For everyone else, let’s do this.

Some pertinent tweets from this weekend: