Here we go!

19 06 2012

In the wake of 2012’s Death Race they have been successful at one thing. I am unsettled.

Here is the first of probably many pieces of correspondence with the race director. One thing is for sure, this race isn’t for everyone, but maybe it’s for me. 

“‎2013 will be a special year for the Death race. It will be our 9th year torturing people then watching them go home broken. The Theme is Gambling.

1. Race will start Saturday at 4:00 am sharp.
2. Format will be an all out solo race.
3. Cheating will not be tolerated.
4. An exact gear list will be given to you.
5. Check in will be Friday at 4:00 pm.
6. If you have raced before and finished you will be gambling away your previous finishes. If you have never raced before and you don’t finish you will not be allowed to participate again until 2015.
7. All details regarding 2013 will be given to you on August 1 of this year. Don’t lose the information.
8. You will need an article or your race starts 4 hours late.
9. You will have time cutoff’s at each event if you miss them you are out.

Course closes Sunday at Noon. We’ll have a BBQ and awards ceremony Sunday afternoon.”


MY Death Race

17 06 2012

It is Father’s Day today, June 17th, 2012. It is 11:30 p.m. and work starts early in the morning. I am driven from my bed by a strange illness. Over 1000 miles away in a little town called Pittsfield Vermont a band of crazies are stricken with a similar illness. An illness that makes you choose crazy, stupid things over comfort or even safety. This weekend is the 2012 Death Race and I am hunched over a laptop hitting refresh over and over reading 3rd hand status updates on facebook and wordpress from friends and loved ones of the sick individuals participating in this event. The internet rumors flying around are outlandish and laughable, but with this crew they are also all probably true. Next year, I will be stepping onto the same course to attempt to join the ranks of these super athletes. I have decided my next challenge will be the Spartan Death Race.

This isn’t the first time I’ve deliberately gotten in way over my head. I wish I had a great story about drawing a line in the sand and deciding to get in shape, but the reality is I needed a hobby and started running (more on that in earlier blog posts). I started running a lot actually, and it was fairly uneventful. I just ran. However, one thing did happen. Dissatisfaction began to fester. No matter what I accomplished my eyes were on the next event. Race directors, much like savvy pushers, don’t even let the medal drape your neck before sticking a flyer in your hand for “the next race.” A generally addictive personality like mine is quickly swept into a frenzy… “I wanna do an ultra…” I wanna do a better ultra…” “I wanna qualify for Boston…” There’s nothing like a lack of focus to make you run a terrible race, and there’s nothing like running a terrible race to make you reevaluate your goals.

    After a couple of “unacceptable race experiences” I decided it was time to figure out what I really wanted. Do I want to get faster or run further. Do I want to be more muscular or lean. The answer was a resounding “Yes.” It occurred to me that most of the overweight chain-smoking 40 somethings around me working construction could palm a bag of portland cement, but couldn’t run to the truck if they were being chased by a velociraptor. While all my running buddies that ran sub 4 marathons couldn’t swing a 20lb sledge if they needed to even if it meant a million dollars. I want all those things.

    I began seeking out the oddballs in the fitness community. The weirdos who won’t stay in a mold, the outliers. I found an amazing subculture, like the bastard children of cross fit athletes, ultra runners, and farmers. The figurehead I quickly became obsessed with was a man named Joe Decker. Joe is the fittest man on the planet, according to Guinness. At my age Decker had all the physical prowess of Dom Deluise. Now, he more closely resembles a Frank Miller rendition of a Twilight werewolf. That inevitably lead to the discovery of the Death Race. It is an ultra from hell. I know it will take place in Pittsfield, VT. I don’t know how long it will take. I don’t know how far I will run. I don’t know what crazy sadistic challenges they will dream up in the next year, but I know I will be broken by whatever means necessary. Beyond the basics, the race is deliberately shrouded in mystery. The challenge of the race is not only physical (though there is plenty of that), but very much mental. Check out for more on their race. To even step up to the start line I will have to become a totally different person. This is the first time that being an ultra runner is simply not good enough, but whats bigger than ultra…

I must become Mega!

Stay tuned for training videos and more blog posts documenting my transformation. So I guess, here goes. I’m off to become Mega Josh.

My next marathon*

13 01 2011

I have, at this point, never run a marathon.

I have run the official distance on at least 4 occasions, and beyond on two. However, if one were to attempt to validate that with anything other than word of mouth, or the gps on my phone it couldn’t be done. My 2010 Memphis marathon experience was no exception.

I have had at least four people in my life utter the sentence “I am going to train for a marathon.” I, for whatever reason, always respond with “If you do I’ll run it with you.” When Echo said it shortly after “the incident” at country music I knew I might have to make good on that one.

Echo is one of the busier people I know, she has been plagued with knee trouble, and is coming off of a serious defeat at a recent half marathon. I know this marathon is gonna be tough, and to top it off the forecast says it’ll be in the 20’s. I also know if anyone can do it she can. I refuse to let her see any negativity from me. I try to only relay excitement and discuss her concerns way in advance. I warn her of a few things to expect and start gearing up for our adventure. After all, December is rapidly approaching.
We two couples decided to make a whole weekend out of the trip. We stayed at a lovely hotel with all the amenities, ambient interstate noise, flickering fluorescent mood lighting, and carpets that were vacuumed bi-annually. It had everything you could ask for an old-fashioned murder, or a down home organ harvesting.

Now being a typical last minute shopper I missed the cutoff and this race sold out, but I committed to run the race with my friend so I conclude to just show up and run the race without a number, I mean what’s the worst that could happen (I confess the idea of a video surfacing on youtube of security chasing me on a race course only made the idea seem more awesome). The morning of, we peruse the race guide and see several mentions with very strong language, “no unauthorized runner on the course.” We begin to rethink our plan. This could be her only marathon ever and just for the sake of being overly cautious I decide to drop her in the last mile and run up ahead to meet Chassi and Chaz where we can cheer her across the finish line.

After a good nights sleep our spousal support team dropped us off as close as possible to the start line. Thankfully meteorologists change their minds more often than my daughter changes outfits so by race morning the temperature hovered around 50 and only slightly overcast. The weather was quite literally perfect. We walked up and got ready to start this silly adventure we were about to begin.

We start strong and steady. We literally talked the entire race. Talked about kids, running, family, overweight people, underweight people, money, life, and past and future adventures. I for the first time have no goal times, no one to beat, I am only there to support and have fun. I am running slower than my comfortable pace which allows me options I wouldn’t otherwise entertain, Like the beer stop at mile 12, high-fiving the children near the hospital, and the beer stop at mile 18 (come to think of it maybe they weren’t all great options). We continue to run a pretty steady pace and actually finished quite a bit stronger than we started. As discussed, at mile 25 I take her bag of pretzels, the last of the nuun, hug her goodbye and proceed to run as fast as my tired legs will move. I am concerned there won’t be much time so I am pushing pretty hard. I probably pass over 100 people in the last mile. They all look pretty beat, and rightly so. I make a point to cheer on every person I pass with at least a few words between heavy breaths. I cross the finish line and keep right on running though the maze of people who hand me water, I wave off the lady trying to put a medal around my neck(I mean I didn’t pay, it wouldn’t be right). She looks at me like maybe I need medical attention. I duck a few others and dart up to the bleachers to look for Chassi and Chaz. I get distracted in the looking and hear her name announced and quickly lose her in the crowd, oh well. Eventually we all connect and there was much rejoicing. Echo is beaming from her accomplishment, and rightly so. She quickly encourages us to get to the car while she can still move. We comply.

We hit the town later that night, where I offer Echo a “from personal experience” suggestion, “after a marathon one celebratory drink will pack more of a punch than normal. ” At least I can say I warned her. We ate fried burgers at Dyers, wandered around the Peabody, saw an awesome band at BB Kings. Memphis was an amazing getaway weekend and thanks a million to Chassi and Chaz, the best support team anywhere. I swear they popped up every couple of miles and cheered like no one else.

The conversation on the road there was mostly “I just wanna say I’ve done this.” The conversation on the way back was closer to “I can’t wait to see what’s next…”
And I for one, can’t.

The heart of Rock and Roll is a beatin’

11 01 2011

Ok, now I am the first to admit that music has changed through the years, and not necessarily for the better. Were someone to put my ipod on shuffle your more likely to hear the black crowes, ac/dc, or the Who than anything from the past decade. However the spirit is out there ever changing and there are brave souls still making real music, and when the top 40 nonsense dies down we can still look back on this era proudly.

Joshua’s terrible no good very bad day.

15 12 2010

Ok… My drafts folder is overflowing. I am gonna try to finish some of these posts as my end of the year resolution.

This story has been the go to party story of myself and my wife, and remains the only time in seven years of marriage that she has witnessed me losing my temper (Which I personally think is respectable). I am very mellow and this was one rare moment of weakness. So read, laugh, but c’mon cut me some slack… Here goes…

I have at this point in the story spent several nights in a row, after work, making a 4 1/2 inch by 7 1/4 inch beam that is exactly 12 feet long. This beam sits on a base about a foot and a half off the ground and was finished just in time to play an integral role in children’s kung fu class I will be helping to teach in about a half hour.

30 minutes to class: I arrive home from work. I change into my workout clothes. I grab a cliff bar.

26 minutes to class: Loads of time. I carry this monstrosity of a beam out to my van. I begin a complicated game of masters level tetris. Only to discover that the maximum achievable distance in my van is exactly 11′ 7 3\8″

14 minutes to class: Still enough time. I remove the beam and in the process spill my tool bag that was too near the door. I begin attempting to secure the beam to the roof. The beam is heavy and is bending the roof luggage rack.

8 minutes to class: running out of time. I decide to give up. I might as well be on time. However, there is a beam halfway tied to my van. I get in my wife’s car to head to class. Just as I begin to back up I feel a violent jerk in the vehicle. I exit the vehicle to see the handle of a clamp that used to reside in my tool bag protruding from the tire. Ok. Ok. I am angry.

5 minutes to class: No time. I begin picking up the other tools strune in the driveway and throwing them out of the potential path of cars (in retrospect this was no faster than picking them up). I move chassi’s car which now has a very flat tire. I enter my van to discover that apparently in the attempted loading process I put a large crack in my windshield. Deep breath, count to three. Oh yes, and I have to remove that beam. I exit the vehicle. I am unable to undo the strap due to the tension it is under. I begin scouring the yard for a sharp tool to cut it. Once it is cut I throw the beam into the yard with all the strength I can muster, it is very heavy and doesn’t go far. I slam all the doors to my van and enter it to drive away. I survey the scene once more.

-4 minutes to class: Very out of time. Half of the tools I own are lying on the yard. The beam l just made is there also. My wife’s car sits with a clamp still jammed firmly into it’s tire and I have a crack now serving as the visually dominant feature in the front of my van… And no one to blame for any of it but myself.


13 12 2010

My 2010 Ragnar experience.

After not nearly enough sleep, I rose from my bed before the sun and started washing dishes… I mean who wants to come home from a long weekend to a sinkload of dirty dishes. We arrive at the Vetters at about 6 and begin loading into the van, which will be our home for about the next 32 hours. 32 hours in a cramped space my only significant breaks being to step out into cold and run a grand total of 36 miles.

The great thing about the group we had is that it was an all inclusive group of intelligent runners prepared to take on any challenge foolish enough to lay before us. So naturally we all did the responsible thing, nothing. Our fearless leader and team captain crossed all the t’s, dotted all the i’s, and even filled our lacking roster save two empty spots which were filled by myself and another runner who doubled up.
All in all, the whole experience was far too much for a simple blog post. We experienced the widest array of weather and geography one could ask for. Ran up crippling hills, ran through bitter cold, people ran personal bests, others(me) barley finished. Any of my teammates that wish to, leave a comment or share a memory please do. As for the journey, you just had to be there.

Some things I want to say to people:

Everyone in van 1 – This was so unique, in one day we saw each other in a barage of uncomfortable scenarios it was like a crash course where you get the first few months of a friendship out of the way. I really care about all of you.

Michelle – you make me laugh

My wife – where did you come from, you came out of nowhere and dominated, wow.

Carrie – you had the most amazing attitude in the face of extreme discomfort, a few times it made me want to grab your shoulders and shake you until you quite smiling, but it was an incredible encouragement to us all.

Andy – You were an amazing asset this weekend, even though we all teased each other, when you left the van to run we all realized how good you were at keeeping us on track, thank you.

Chaz – It was amazing to have you so envolved and not even be a runner, you essentially did the race but without your turn to be the focus of our attention. You always new what was going on, Who was where, who needed to be getting ready, and still managed to be really encouraging.

Everyone in van 2 – I felt like we were on seperate teams, It was like you were running a whole other race and every so often we would see you. You did amazing. Proud of you all.

Guy on leg three in a yellow shirt – holy crap, slow down, at your age it can’t be good for you to run that fast. and it certainly isn’t good for my self esteem.

Brian – You were a workhorse this weekend, thank you so much for all you did as a volunteer.

The city of Cowan, TN – Really, I mean… really… My choices for a dinner that isn’t coming out of my duffel bag are the nicest mexican place I’ve ever seen (the waiters wore vests and they had 21 different types of tequila) or pizza by the slice from a shell station. I never thought I’d be wishing a Mcdonald’s.

Tall late 40’s guy with broad shoulders – I saw you off and on the whole race and I don’t know what you do to your hair but it always looked flawless even while you were running.

Echo- our fearless captain, proud of you I know you had a tough time getting us ready, and a tougher time with the race, but you did wonderful with both.

A child after my own heart.

9 12 2010

So this evening I had one of those awesome glimpses into who my children are. Some quick background info: Anna has lost a few teeth recently and had 2 dollars from the tooth fairy. Anna and Morgan were both promised a reward for a number of tough days we’ve had in the past week where their behavior has remained exemplary. We have to make a late night trip to the store for a gift to go to Anna’s school party, of course due in the morning. The stage is set.

Anna, Morgan, and myself are wandering the isles of our local Wal-Mart in the fashion that I typically shop when unsupervised. To say the least it is a very organic process. First I circling the perimeter looking for the various zones I will need to hit, not wavering more than a few feet for any item I will be able to get on the next pass. This is also the pass where I try to isolate sales and remember what in the world it was that I came to get. When my children are thrown into this stage it adds new tangents or conversations, “Where do pomegranates grow?” “Which rice is better, the orange box or the gray bag?” “What if the lobsters had babies, would they get their own tank?” Finally we emerge and commit to a checkout line. This time of year in Cool Springs you can count on a line no matter the time of day or night, and no matter how many lanes are open. Anna begins thinking aloud and ultimately resolves to give Morgan one of her dollars. This will enable them to both pick some gum because even with tax it will be less than a dollar. Morgan quickly agrees and decides on icebreakers. Anna picks fruitstripe gum and jumps in the front of the line. Anna pays for the gum herself, says “yes ma’am… thank you,” takes her receipt and change, steps to the side, and waits patiently with the efficiency of a seasoned shopper. Morgan observes this whole exchange and watches very, very closely. She looks down at her ice breakers then at her dollar, or rather Anna’s dollar. Then with expert nonchalance she slides her icebreakers onto the belt with the other groceries and steps to the side easing the dollar back into her pocket. I, already knowing the answer, ask “whatcha doing?” Morgan’s reply is polite but very frank, “If you buy the mints then I can keep the dollar for later.” The cashier and I exchange amused glances. I reply to Morgan, “I will and you can, but maybe you should think about your sisters generosity to share that with you and if you should really keep it.” She stared long and hard at the dollar the whole way home (Anna spent the car ride home discussing what we learned about pomegranates and never thought of the dollar again). Morgan is obviously now facing great emotional turmoil. The dollar is sitting on their shared dresser and I couldn’t be more anxious to see where it goes next.