Monthly Archives: September 2011

I’M A BLOCKHEAD

As in…my head is blocked and I’m struggling to find originality, unique thought, creativity, etc.  Sorry suckers…nothing inspirational or to motivate us this week…….hardly anything going on in my world worth mentioning or writing about……

Oh….except this little event Pro-Activity’s staff & Endurace Club (PACER) are helping to promote, sponsor, and get off the ground.  Haven’t heard yet….well why the heck not….do you live in a cave?  Here’s the gist….want to have an awesome fall weekend…check out www.ohfar.com…….it’s probably only going to be the coolest (as in Arthur Fonzarelli, not temperature) thing Hunterdon County has to offer for a while….but then again….that’s hardly anything to write about…..

I could write about what it takes to save a life…..not that I know….but there was this short instance recently where two colleagues may have literally saved a life, alongside the rest of their team…so discretely and effectively, that no one even knew except the individual in the compromised state and a few others who needed to be “in the know”…..but hey, all in a days work…right?

Or what about the short conversation and contact we made a few weeks ago, that somewhat unexpectedly, is looking like it will be landing one of today’s greatest extreme endurance athletes in our home at BaseCamp31….a man who has climbed all 7 summits and has completed over 100 foot races AVERAGING 125 miles or greater in distance….that might be blog-worthy….someday….

Oh, and there’s this little group of professional athletes we started training….with a national championship and about 20 All-American claims among the 6 of them….I guess you could say they’re marginally impressive!

And how bout some of the group that is quickly becoming one of my favorites to run with as I train for a new marathon PR on 10/30/11….maybe I should write about these “Weekend Warriors”…..many of them are in their 50’s….and on Saturday mornings (7am) for long runs (ranging from 16 to 22 miles)…they’re with me stride for stride (for at least their chosen distance) ….to 7 minute miles and below.

Then of course there is the new corporate client we’re gearing up to serve…the 11 new staff members that have started in the last 30 days, the new BootCamp & Yoga offerings…a not quite “new” anymore Fuel Good Cafe….the growth of our current training and health coaching programs…some new endurance focused services around the bend and a wrestling mat “out back”….what…did I really just say that?……ah, piece of cake…that’s just work….or play….or……well, depends on the day and who’s asking 🙂

Did I mention in 3 more months I’ll be a Dad…gulp…holy crap…at least when the baby comes and I’m feeling like a “Blockhead” (wait a minute…isn’t this every Father’s God given right???)…I can always just exploit baby stories…..then I’ll have more to write about….right!?

Till then….here’s to “nothing” going on.

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J.E. Culley……she’s in the zone!

Remember those video game commercials……E…….A……..Sports………..It’s in the Game!  I used to love those commercials….always highlighting impressive moves you could make with your video game character….hit the “x” button for spin….the “y” button to juke….and when you were truly a master of the game, the commentator would say “He’s in the zone!”.

We’ve heard of this legendary place called “The Zone” many many times…researchers and authors have spent decades writing about it, few of us will ever be lucky enough to experience it, but those that have talk about this almost out of body heightened sense of consciousness as an incredible place where you body and mind take over and just “do” without you thinking about having to try.  It’s said the “game” slows for these folks, in these moments, and some even claim it’s like stepping outside their body and watching as “they” take over.

Last night, I had the opportunity to speak with someone who was “In the Zone” this weekend…….Hunterdon County’s newest National Champion, Julie Culley…..a friend, a colleague, one of my trainee’s and at the same time…my coach (yes it’s pretty confusing….Julie coaches me in running….I recently started training her and her teammates in strength & conditioning)…………and her story is AWESOME!

As many of my readers know, Julie and I have remained good friends since we first started riding the bus back and forth to school in 1st grade, through our years in school, time in CCD, and most recently through her decision to move back home, join the NJ-NY Track Club and the staff at Pro-Activity, and make Clinton Twp. her home once again.  We’ve shared some good conversation and time over the years, and the thing that’s always impressed me (outside of her sick athletic ability of course) is that she’s one of the only people I know that has said (paraphrased of course), “Yeah….I’m going after my dreams…and yeah there’s sacrifice…but they’re my dreams…and they’re worth it!”   I’ve witnessed first hand as she’s maintained commitment to her dreams against all odds.  I’ve watched as she’s pulled herself up from the bootstraps and rehabbed back (kudos to another friend and colleague Justin Bagley, her physical therapist) from nagging injuries, returning to competition a stronger, more seasoned athlete!

But despite all Julie’s accolades and accomplishments in the last 25 years since I’ve known her…..last night…for the first time…I heard her say….”I told myself to go for it….I did…..and I got it….and I’m proud!”

My words will never touch what it must have been like for those watching live, or of course…what it must have been like for Julie as she crossed the tape first, becoming the USA 5k Road Championships National Champion….but her story goes a little like this (paraphrased in my words…from Julie’s viewpoint, with Julie’s permission):

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I remember warming up that morning and just feeling really loose…..I did some light warm-ups and some stretching that I’ve learned with one of our NJ-NY Track Club coaches Tommy, and I just felt really good, just listening to some music, and I was a little surprised at how relaxed I was.  I was doing a little thinking, and saying to myself, today’s my day….I’m sick of just being one of the girls in the pack….today I am going to go for it….going to make a statement….going to be the best…today people are going to say “that’s Julie Culley”…I was relaxed and ready.

I remember going up to the line and thinking that I’m typically a slow starter, but after the start, I just shot out….I was really surprised and just thinking…oh, they just must be right behind me….

The first mile came and I was feeling great, and was out front….I looked at my watch and it was somewhere around the 5:00 mark, and I was like…holy crap….I feel really good….like this was just a tempo workout…..it was cool…the guys from Runnerspace.com were filming and almost pacing me…they’d go up ahead and film me, then I’d catch them….I think at one point I even waved to them….who does that?  And I just kept thinking….Wow, I feel great….am I going to fast?  Where is everyone?…and before I knew it I was at mile 2 with about 10:00 on the clock…..holy crap, I had just run two back to back 5 minute miles, and I felt great….like I wasn’t even working that hard….like everything was in slow mo……  And then I started really believing…..I’m going to do this…..I’m going to win my first National Title…..I feel great….I’m going to go for it.

Soon I was running next to a guy, and I actually said to him, how far back are they….it’s almost funny to think back…who would actually do this in a National Championship race…but he was cool….and he said….about 12 seconds….and I felt great, it was like I wasn’t even working.  I saw a pack of guys up ahead and I decided to go for them….and as I picked up speed….I just kept saying to myself……I’m doing this…..I’m doing this…..and the last mile flew…..so fast that the race officials had to jump in front of me just so they could get the finish line out in time…..I had done it…..I had just won my first National Title…..I had done what I knew I could…..and I was proud!”

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Congratulations Julie!  We’re all so proud of you…..never give up on your dreams!

-Eric

p.s. readers….click the link below to check out Julie’s race

http://www.runnerspace.com/video.php?video_id=53910#ooid=0ydjZ0Mjp2rWUrRVnnUfXntq6BcwVstU

 

 

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“Play Like A Champion Today” – Quest for Sub 3!

I remember seeing “Rudy” in the theaters with friends and being exposed to this incredibly famous quote (author unknown) for the first time.  I thought it was so cool that just before the legendary Notre Dame football team took to their battle ground…they slapped the sign as a reminder to give it everything they had…because anything less is unacceptable.

Growing up, and after seeing this movie, I remember feeling like I related in many ways to Rudy….always the smallest kid on the football team….always feeling like a bit of a scrapper…giving a bit more than the next guy to “eek” my way ahead when the opportunity presented itself….and always doing so because giving your all was just an unstated (and sometimes voiced out loud by parents) expectation.

But in thinking back to the story…there was more to Rudy’s success than just his deep rooted commitment to being his best…more to it than his determination, grit, and work ethic…..in fact, if you remember…..it wasn’t one of these things that actually got him on the football field….but rather the way in which he used these things to represent his overall being that triggered a unmatched level of respect among several of his more talented teammates…..and it was through this respect…something Rudy earned by being true to himself…that got him on the field and allowed him the opportunity to complete his quest.

On my run tonight, I began thinking of some of the more recent developments in my own (most current) athletic quest…this one to break the 3 hour mark in the upcoming Marine Corps marathon (10/30/11)….and how I’ve been presented with an opportunity to maybe, just maybe have a Rudy-like moment….it’s just that unlike Rudy…in this game (like the game of personal health & fitness)…the guy I’m competing with is me.   I must outwork the other guy (in this case my own head that tells me how tired I am and how “hard it is)…..I must be more committed to my goals than the past….I must remain gritty, hungry to excel, but humble enough to seek advice when needed……I must seek opportunity in each set-back….and play like a champion.   And as I do, I’m confident my “teammates”…my support network, with mutual respect, will give me the opportunity to complete my quest.

How will you Play Like a Champion Today?

**Special thanks to Julie Culley for agreeing to coach / pace me through my quest…and inspiration from family, co-workers, friends, and clients….including my new NJ-NY Track Club training group (go ahead…google them)!

my favorite scene….”Five feet nothing…a hundred and nothing…hardly a speck of athletic ability”…sometimes it hits a little to close to home:)

 

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Raising the Bar – VA Beach 1/2 Marathon Recap

In 2008 I decided it was time to do something bigger than myself.  Growing up and wanting to be “just like Dad”, I was always intrigued to try distance running, and wanted complete a marathon.  Call it a bucket list item, or whatever you want….it was always something I thought I’d do someday.  The difference between 2008 and the other years I attempted distance running (2005 & 2006 at the Newport-Liberty 1/2 Marathon) was that in 2008….I heard the call of a friend who, just before passing after a long and hard battle with cancer, encouraged all of us to “Raise the Bar”.  Although I wish I had been closer with Jason Schaible – the incredibly wise-beyond his years (early 20’s when he past) man who told us all to try harder and give more, even in the most darkest of times……..his cousin John was my best friend.  And tragically, 4 years prior to his cousin Jason, and exactly 8 years ago tomorrow, we lost John in a motorcycle accident…

I don’t think I can truly put into words what it’s like to lose your best friend….someone you imagined in your life for a long time…someone you always envisioned would be with you when you met your wife,  someone that would be one of the first to greet your first-born on her first day home…someone to share family tailgates / bbq’s with…or just someone to tell you when you’re really being an idiot (like John only could).  John’s death, and the time following was by far the most difficult time in my life….but at the same time, the most influential.  It helped me follow my passion and values, guided me to my current profession, and when his cousin Jay passed….I knew I had to take some of the things learned from John…and combine with advice from Jay…..I needed to do more for others….challenge myself to not only follow my passion, but share it….I needed to “Raise the Bar”.

So in 2008, I decided I would pursue the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon (and eventually Philly marathon) and train under the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Team in Training”, and run in honor of both Jason and John.  It was a constructive way of mourning….I raised funds to support a great cause, and pushed myself to a great level of fitness.  Each time in my training when the going got tough…I thought of Jay and what he must have dealt with through his treatments….I thought of John and how he’d be looking over all of us….and I’d train harder, run faster, look for ways to share my passion and experiences…and “Raise the Bar”.

Competing in my first year at Virginia Beach was incredible….the pasta party the night before with other team members…..the personal thank you’s from survivors and their families…the never ending cheers from spectators  as we ran through the streets of Virginia Beach as part of something bigger, and the top of the world feeling that came from training hard, pushing to the max, and accomplishing something great!

When I got home from Virginia, I couldn’t wait to share my experience…share some stories, and encourage others to get involved in endurance sports….all of a sudden, it was all I was talking about.  My brother Mike and another best-friend (and that of John’s) Justin were thinking along the same lines too….and before I knew it, we decided to start this little thing called the PACER (Pro-Activity Conditioning & Endurance Racing) Team….for me, it was a way I could “Raise the Bar” and share my passion.  It was a way I could model health & wellness…walk the walk (or run the run in this case), and encourage others to do the same….serving as models of health & strength for their children, spouses, and friends.

Justin, Mike and I believed in it…and we were committed …even if that just meant the three of us having some fun at a handful of races….but to our pleasant surprise….the idea gained some steam, and others started to see the method to our madness.  And after a few events in early 2009….I couldn’t wait to get a few of our team members to Virginia Beach for what would be the start of our team’s Labor Day weekend tradition….

2011 VA Beach PACER Team

Now, three year’s later, with about 20 of us racing and another 20 or so family members aka “Loud Mouths” as we call them making the trek for this year’s race, Virginia Beach 2011 didn’t disappoint!  Thank you so much to those racers (below) and families who once again made this weekend unforgettable!

Margaret B – Wow….to think it was only a few months ago when you had never run a race…couldn’t have been more proud to watch and cheer from a distance as you went from run-walker to 1/2 marathoner…awesome!

Deb S. – Lady, your energy is infectious!  Not only do you come ready to rock after only two months of training….you bring an entourage of inspired awesomeness in your family!

John S. – They say a great Dad can dig down for a little more strength and effort when needed most….congrats to you….in my mind, you get inspirational moment of the day for your strong finish!

Matt, Jordan, Kellen, Nathan & Kylie – so seriously, no training?  Ill-advised, but impressive nonetheless….you’ll probably never know how awesome it was for your parents and loved-ones to have you with them this weekend.  Thanks!  And by the way….imagine what a few months of training would do!

Cassy B. – a 6 minute PR!  Whaatttt?!!!  Marine Corps here we come!

Tim & Erin J. – Can you say power couple?  There’s something to be said about the couple who isn’t afraid to tackle anything together!

Patti D. – so in 2008 did you ever think you’d call yourself a “veteran”?  Congrats on a great race….you approached it like a veteran….listened to your body, ran your race, and came out ahead of where you were thinking you’d be.  Maybe just enough to keep you hooked?

Chris B. – gotta hand it to you man…you’re an animal…mentally tough as anyone I know…can’t say I know a ton of people who’d go out and just “get through” a half marathon with a stomach virus.

Wandy B. – another PR!  Wow….5 minutes is huge!  Your journey continues to inspire us all…..keep going!

Jess B. & Greg E. – well folks….here’s the thing about not hitting the coveted PR….it gives you an opportunity for redemption…talk to Mike E…..he’s making a year of it!  Regardless of clock-time….it was great to share this weekend with both of you.

Amy W. & Mike E. – congrats to both on PR’s….it’s an honor to run with you, and share in proudly representing the brand that you both started!

Loudmouths (John & Drew D., Craig family, Booth Family, Brian & Weller kids, Lindsay & Eisenhart kids, Amy & future Eisenhart kid) – I’ve said it at least a hundred times….., your voice, your cowbell, your clappers…and most importantly, YOU, are amazing.  I am 100% sure, this race….the race I consider probably my strongest race ever (oh by the way readers, I ran a 1:27:03, exactly a 2 minute PR from what I ran 5 months ago in Boston)…..would not have been possible without you.

Hope you readers will join us on one of our adventures next time…..and / or find your way to “Raise the Bar”.

And to Jason & John….with my deepest sincerity….and for your never ending guidance…THANK YOU!

 

 

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