Almost Halfway (MidLife)

I recently celebrated my 49th birthday (January 31). Most people at this time of their life begin to dread birthdays. I have a slightly different take on it. My thought process is this: I’m in reasonably good shape and take pretty good care of myself. If I continue to work out and eat right, and with all of the advancements in modern medicine, I feel comfortable that I can live to be 100. That means this year represents the last year of the first half of my life. I plan to use it accordingly.

By the time I celebrate 50, I want to feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been. Physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. But, like most people, I rarely feel like I’ve got it all figured out and often struggle with “having my shit together”. So, this means I have a lot of work to do this year.

Like anything else, if you have a goal, you have to have a plan. I’ve been wanting more tattoo work done, so I decided to finally get to work on a chest piece. I’m working with Paul Averette at Bell Rose Tattoo in Daphne, Alabama to design and finish the work I want this year. I also already have an appointment scheduled on my 50th with Frank Lee Roberts, a kick ass photographer for head shots, fitness, and yoga photos. Hopefully these things will keep me focused as I move through 2019.

Let’s be honest, life isn’t easy. No matter how we look on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, most of us feel like our life isn’t under control. That other people have things figured out and we’re the ones lost and drifting. Here’s the best answer I have. Choose a goal and work for it. Make it challenging enough that it scares you. Do something every day that gets you closer to your goal. If you stumble (and you will) get back up and keep going. While you’re on the way, respect and honor yourself. You are going to feel like everything is moving the wrong way and you’ll never reach your goals. You’ll feel helplessness, hopelessness, and fear. We all do. When that happens, give yourself a little grace. Refocus, reset and get back at it.

Feel free to follow my journey. You may find out that you’re not the only one that feels the way you do. Remember, I write this because I need to read it.

100 Day Burpee Challenge!

It's time for another 100 Day Burpee Challenge!  (Actually it's already started.  Today is day 4, but you can still get in.  More about that later) For all the new people, I'll explain what the challenge is, then I'll give you a history of the burpee challenge and why we do it, and finally I'll give some of my thoughts about how to successfully complete it.

The burpee challenge is very simple.  Day 1, do one burpee; day 2, two burpees; etc untill September 11, day 100, do 100 burpees. They can be broken up throughout the day. If you miss a day, you have to make them up the next day. If you miss two days, then you're out.

You can buy in at any time, even if you miss the start date. All you have to do is the number of burpees you've missed in order to catch up. For example, if you decide on June 8, that you want in you can do 15 burpees and you are in (1+2+3+4+5=15)

You can work ahead one day. Example, you know you are going to be busy on Thanksgiving eating all the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie and watching football so you can do all the burpees for that day, the day before, on November 27. (yes, I know Thanksgiving isn't during this challenge, but it's just an example, and we'll do this again to end on New Years Eve!)

You can choose which kind of burpees you want to do.  Here's a video with some variations, but honestly burpees are only limited by the imagination!

Now for a bit of history. This madness started in 2012 when a good friend, Jenny Carter and I decided to do the burpee challenge to end on New Years Eve. We somehow managed to finish that challenge and bring tons of people along for the ride. Then we lost Jenny to a senseless act of domestic violence and a few of us decided to honor her memory by finishing another burpee challenge on her birthday. Ever since then I've done the challenge twice a year. This is the start of challenge #8 for me. With 5,050 burpees each time that means I now have 35,350 burpees in the bank from challenges alone. And I still do a burpee at the end of every race. Thanks Jenny, for making me a better person and for always reminding me to be the change I wish to see in the world.

Ok... So you now understand what the challenge is, how to do a burpee, and why we do this.  Here's the part where I give you some tips and tricks on finishing.  First, it is important to know that anyone can complete this challenge.  ANYONE.  If you can physically do one burpee, then you can add one every day for 100 days.  The people that give up, ring out, and don't finish do so for one reason.  Lack of mental strength. It is mentally hard to do burpees every day for 100 days.  Especially when you get to day 70 and realize you still have a month to go. You have to make the decision now that you will finish no matter what it takes.  I said before that the 100 day burpee challenge is simple.  Do not confuse that with easy.  It is hard.  Know that going in.  It takes dedication, perseverance and mental strength to do this.  If it were easy everyone would do it. 

Don't fall behind.  It's not so bad early on.  Miss day 10?  Do 21 burpees the next day and you're good.  Miss day 66?  It'll take 133 burpees to catch up. Even if you miss a day later, don't give up.  Technically the rules say if you don't make up all the burpees you missed the next day, then you're out.  Personally, I say try your best to follow the rules, but if you finish 5,050 burpees in 100 days you successfully complete the challenge.  If that means you do five extra burpees a day until you're caught up, then do that.

Join the facebook group we have set up specifically for this challenge. Membership is currently hovering around 500.  People come and people go, but it's a great place to get motivation and inspiration to finish.  There's a new post daily to remind you of the number of burpees to be done that day, and people are encouraged to posy pictures and videos or burpee variations and crazy places they've done burpees.  It truly has become a community.  You can search for the group on facebook and send a request to join at 100 Day Burpee Challenge! (the exclamation point is important) or use this link:

So, today is already day 4.  If you want in, just do 10 burpees and you're in.  (1+2+3+4+10). There's no cost, fees or dues to pay. I am planning on designing shirts for those people that finish and want to commemorate the occasion, and those will be for sale, but other than that, it's all about getting fitter, building mental and physical strength, and learning what is possible when we set our mind to reaching a goal and finding like minded people for support. 

As Jenny always used to tell us, "Burpees change lives!"  They have sure changed mine.






Don't Pull Weeds... Plant Flowers

The only constant in life is change.  Change will come to all of us, whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not.  When we realize that fact and are able to look at everything with a sense of detachment, we begin to understand that nothing can touch us!  An added benefit is that if we pay attention, we might be able to learn something important about ourselves and in the process learn something about life and the way the universe works.

Most of you may know that I spent over 20 years in law enforcement and investigations.  Being a cop is one of the hardest careers in the world: always dealing with the worst parts of society, seeing things that no one should ever have to see, and always under paid and under appreciated.  It also made me very proud for a very long time.  I was proud to fight evil on a daily basis, to make a difference in the world and in my community.  It often seemed an impossible task because there were so many bad guys, and so few good guys; too many robbers and not enough cops.  But like Edmund Burke said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." So, I put on the badge and gun every day and went out into the world to fight the good fight.

Now, I'm beginning my second career as a yoga teacher, personal trainer, and coach.  This isn't what I saw myself doing at 46 years old and many people have commented about how it seems to be a totally different path. But, like law enforcement, I feel like this is an area in which I can make a difference; in the lives of individual people, in my community, and in the world.

Let me tell you what I have learned so far in this journey and career change.  There is a lot of evil and negativity in the world and the natural inclination of most people is to try and remove it.  But here's the problem...  Bad guys and negative thoughts are like weeds.  Pull one, and two grow back.  Once negativity is introduced into an environment, it is virtually impossible to remove it.  Don't believe me?  Try this experiment: Take a large glass and fill it with clear natural spring water.  Grab yourself a bottle of ink and put four or five drops of ink into the water.  Not a lot of ink, but that's all it takes to make the water dark and cloudy.  Now here's the fun part.  Remove the ink from the water. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Feels like a herculean task, right?  That's what it's like trying to remove evil from the world or negativity from our lives.  Ever notice that the more you focus on the negatives, that's all you see?  Do not allow yourself to get discouraged.  There is a way to do it, we just have to approach the problem from a different angle.  

Take that glass of ink clouded water and start adding more clear spring water.  You won't notice much of a difference at first, but the more you fill the glass with pure water, the more that water will begin to dilute the ink.  Continue adding purity, and eventually the glass is filled with nothing but pure, clean spring water.  So it is with our minds and life.  If you have negative thoughts, start filling your mind with motivation and positivity and before you know it, the negative thoughts have moved on.  

During the first part of my life, in my first career as a cop, I wanted to make the world a better place so I spent over 20 years trying to remove evil from the world one bad guy at a time.  It's an important job, and it has to be done.  But, the bad guys are still there no matter how good I was at my job.  It was still my attempt to make the world a better place and make a difference.

In this second part of my life as a yoga teacher, personal trainer and coach, my goal is still to make the world a better place; but now rather than removing evil, I'm choosing to add good. I have stopped focusing on removing the negative and instead use my energy to add positive. By helping people find the best version of themselves - physically, mentally. emotionally and spiritually- I believe they will spread peace, love and happiness in the world.  Add purity and remove contaminants.

There's another angle to this too.  It's the concept of being a force multiplier.  If you've never heard this term here's one definition:  A force multiplier refers to a factor that dramatically increases, hence multiplies, the effectiveness of a system.  In this example for instance, if I help someone on the path to becoming their best self, there's a greater than average chance that they will then do the same for other people, and those people will do the same for other people, and so on.  Spreading positivity at a rate far greater than I could ever do on my own.  If I remove a bad guy, however, that criminal will not do much in the way of removing other criminals.  It's far more effective to focus on adding good than removing the bad.

So you see, this new career isn't that much different from the old one after all.  As you live your life on a daily basis, to make the world a better place, don't focus on pulling weeds.  Plant flowers.

Namaste, and Keep the Inner Peace my friends. 

Ironman Training, NASM CPT Exam, and patches!

So, big news from the Spiritual Cadre corporate offices and HQ.  I am now a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine!  I took the test last week and passed it on the first attempt.  I was a little worried because the material was not something I was familiar with and I had a really hard time learning and retaining it.  With my background in law enforcement and investigations, the anatomy and science sections were totally new concepts for me.  I tried my best to focus on learning and understanding the principles and I'm glad I did.  To be honest, I was really sweating it going in.  I wasn't sure that I was ready and didn't feel like I really knew the material.  When the test started I didn't recognize any of the questions and things seemed to be worded in a totally different way than the way I remembered them and had studied them.  It's a good thing that I didn't memorize questions!  By the time I finished I had no idea how it was going to turn out, but when it was all said and done, I had passed.  I've heard that the NASM test is one of the harder ones in the personal training world and I can understand why.  If I hadn't studied to understand the concepts and be able to apply them, I don't think I would have passed.  Now I just have to make sure I keep learning (we should all always keep learning) and never let the credentials expire!

One week of Ironman training is complete and so far, so good!  (but really, if it didn't go well the first week, what kind of tone would that set for the whole thing, right?) All workouts were completed and I'm starting to see how the training will fit in to everything else going on in my life.  Most of my runs have been on trails, since I also have registered for the Sky to Summit 50K trail race on November 5th.  Trail running is fairly new to me, and I'm beginning to really enjoy it.  It's harder and slower than road running, but I'm finding that it's more enjoyable to spend more time in nature. 

One other development here, Spiritual Cadre now has patches!  They are velcro backed and perfect for hats, rucks, workout bags or anywhere you need a reminder to "Keep the Inner Peace". They are a high quality finely woven embroidered patch and one can be yours for the low, low price of $8.00.  If you want one you can send me an email at and we'll figure out payment and shipping if you're not local.  It's a great way to remind yourself why you're training and to remember to always focus on the mind-body-spirit connection. And you can help support a small business too! (shameless plug over).  Seriously, If you'd like one, hit me up.

Finally, I did another small video for those that have asked.  I'll add the link here, but moving forward, this will probably be the place for blog posts, and videos will go to the Spiritual Cadre facebook page.  My plan is to put training updates and the like on short videos and tackle more in depth topics here.  If you want to keep up to date on all that is happening, follow me on the other social media sites.  In addition to facebook (both my personal page and the Spiritual Cadre page) you can find me and subscribe on my Youtube channel (SpiritualCadre), Twitter (@SpiritualCadre) and Instagram (Spiritual_Cadre).  My hope is that this way, everyone can choose to follow along in the way that fits their life best.

Here's the video link if you like. Until next time my friends, Keep the Inner Peace!

Ironman and a 50K??

Hey everyone...  Big news!  In addition to Ironman Chattanooga, I also decided to register for my first 50K.  For those of you who don't want to google it, that's roughly 31.5 miles.'s a trail race!  The big event is the Sky to Summit 50K in Sky Valley, Georgia.  This race has 15,000 feet of elevation change and mountain summits.  I never thought I'd say this, but it looks like IMCHOO just became my "B" race.  Hopefully, I'll get my training started, my nutrition under control, and find balance in my life, all while trying to grow my yoga, coaching and personal training business.

Since my life is going to get crazy, I decided to start some small video segments.  In these, I'll talk about training, motivation, life balance, nutrition, yoga, leadership, spirituality and anything else I feel like talking about! The first installment is here...


I hope you all enjoy this Please feel free to comment here, locate me on Facebook, find me on twitter @spiritalcadre and wish me luck as I embark on this journey.

Ironman Chattanooga (IMCHOO): The journey begins...

So, here we are 6 months from IMCHOO.  After Ironman Louisville last October, another IM seemed like such a good idea.  I took over three hours off my time from IM Wisconsin in 2011, met some great people, had a great time and generally felt good.  Since then though, I have completed a move back to the Gulf Coast; started my yoga, coaching and personal training business; took a position with Fleet Feet Sports Mobile as a Fit Specialist, Coordinator of Training Programs and running coach; and am teaching yoga regularly at Synergy Yoga and Pilates, and SportsPlex Mobile.  To say I've had a lot going on would be an understatement.  That doesn't mean I haven't been staying active and fit.  I finished the New Orleans Rock and Roll half marathon in 1:57:35 with a group I was training with and coaching, I've been doing speed work and runs with my Fleet Feet training group, tons of yoga and even managed a swim or two here and there. I even have taken up trying to learn Argentine Tango!  However, I am not in Ironman shape.

I was beginning to consider not doing Ironman this year, thinking it would be too hard with all my other commitments and trying to grow my business and my client base. Then I remembered... It's supposed to be hard.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  It's the hard that makes it great! (credit here goes to Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own").  And what kind of example am I setting?  We find time for the things that are important to us.  So, here is my accountability.  I am competing in Ironman Chattanooga on September 25, 2016.  

Six months.  It's nothing. It's a hockey season. (Tom Cruise in "A Few Good Men").  I have a decent run base and general fitness.  It's time to start building the fire.  It's time to find some races to gauge my fitness along the way, schedule yoga and pilates for core and strength, and add weight training along with the necessary swims, bikes and runs.  My goal is to build strength and lean muscle and keep it during the endurance training, all while staying on a plant based diet.  I plan to keep this blog updated with my progress in training, business, relationships and life.  Come along for the ride and see how I manage to find balance in everything. Friend me on facebook and follow me on twitter @SpiritualCadre.  If you have questions or want me to tackle a certain subject, send me a message or comment.  I'm also planning on adding videos so you can all follow the ups and downs of Ironman training.  So buckle up, keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times and hold on.  This ride could get a little bumpy.


Winners Always Want the Ball

What motivates you?

We all have our reasons for doing the things we do.  Figuring out why we do them can be a difficult task.  For me, I think it comes down to the title of this post "Winners always want the ball."  This is a quote from the 2000 movie "The Replacements" starring Keanu Reeves as Shane Falco, a professional football replacement quarterback, and Gene Hackman playing Jimmy McGinty, his coach. In the movie, The coach has called a pass play, and Falco calls an audible changing the play. He hands the ball off to the running back who fails to score and the game is lost. The coach tells Falco, "If I wanted him to have the ball, I'd have called it that way." McGinty goes on to tell Falco that he got scared.  He finishes by saying "Winners always want the ball...when the game is on the line."

That is true.  Winners do want the ball.  I'm not necessarily talking about sports figures, and the people that score the most points.  I'm talking about successful people.  They always seek out opportunities for growth and success.  They want to have the responsibility for what happens.  No matter the outcome, they own it.

That's what motivates me.  Success.  When I was a Detective with the Mobile County, Alabama Sheriff's Office, and there was a big investigation, I wanted the case.  If there was a bad guy that needed to be interrogated, I wanted to do it.  I had faith in my ability, and my training, and I wanted the responsibility.  I wanted the ball!

In coaching and training, I want the responsibility of helping athletes cross the finish line; of helping them do things they never thought possible.  Again, I have faith in my ability.  I want the weight on my shoulders because I can succeed and I can help others succeed.  I want the ball!

Now for the hard part.  How do you cultivate that faith?  How do you get that confidence to ask for the ball?  I think it's different for everyone.  For me it comes down to two things.  First, hard work.  Doing more than necessary, more than expected.  It's putting forth that little bit of extra effort needed to make you better.  I think this will explain it better than I could...

That one extra degree makes all the difference.  A series of small efforts add up to huge successes.

The second thing that helps me have the confidence to step up and be successful is not being afraid to fail. You must embrace the idea of growth and attempting those things you've never tried. To get what we've never had, we must do what we've never done.  Contrary to the famous line in Apollo 13, failure is ALWAYS an option.  The person who never fails, has never tried.  If you knew before you tried something that success was guaranteed, then what's the point?

Thomas Edison said that many of life's failures are people who didn't realize how close to success they were when they gave up. Never give up. You haven't failed, you just eliminated another way that doesn't work.

Start cultivating that winning attitude today!  "Winners always want the ball."  Believe that you can do it.  You won't always win, you can't always win.  But that's ok.  Knowing that you can do it is what puts you ahead of the competition. That's the "extra degree". Great actors want the lead role.  Great speakers want the tough audience.  Great detectives want the bad guy that refuses to confess. And, when the game is on the line, winners always want the ball!



GORUCK Challenge: Winning Hearts and Minds

Here's a report from the first GORUCK Challenge I ever did.  Hope you take something away from it.  Feel free to comment.

Monday, September 30, 2013

GORUCK Challenge class 792

GORUCK Challenge class 792

This past weekend, I completed my first GORUCK Challenge. If you don't know what that is, I'll try and sum it up for you.  Take a backpack (aka Ruck), add six bricks to it.  Show up at a predetermined location at 1 am.  Take about 25 other people that you've never met before, throw in one or two combat experienced military Special Forces operators (your Cadre), and prepare for the unknown for the next 8-10 hours and 15-20 miles (that's a minimum.  Under promise, over deliver.)

In this case, the city was St, Louis, MO.  The start point was the Art Museum at Forest Park.  The Cadre were Cadre Bert and Cadre Brad.  The details, well, we'll leave those out.  Every challenge is different, and to understand it, you need to experience it.  I'll tell you we bear crawled, flutter kicked, duck walked, did push ups,  carried logs, chairs, each other, and more weight than you even want to think about. We got hot, wet, tired, and sore.  We went 17-19 miles over 12 hours.  But we started with 25 people and we ended with 25 people.  We started as individuals and finished as a team.

The Welcome Party...doesn't always make you feel welcome!

The Welcome Party...doesn't always make you feel welcome!

It was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done.  It was also one of the most satisfying.  If you've ever wanted to know what it is like to put your trust and faith into other people, this is for you.  If you've ever wanted to know what a true sense of camaraderie is, this is for you.  If you've ever wanted to know what it's like to depend on other people, and have those people depend on you to be successful, this is for you.

It was an honor and a privilege to spend a few hours with the other members of Class 792 and Cadre Bert and Brad.  There were lessons taught that I will take with me throughout my life, and try to pass them on to the people I train and coach.  Some of those lessons include:

"It could always be worse". Your feet are sore, and you have blisters? At least you have shoes. You're doing more push ups, bear crawls and flutter kicks than you ever thought possible? At least its not raining or snowing. You're carrying your ruck, someone else's ruck because they're injured, you have the team weight and it hurts to move, but you still have miles to go? At least you're not getting shot at. It can always be worse.

Moving Heavy S%&$.

Moving Heavy S%&$.

"Winning the hearts and minds of others." That's our job.  As Cadre Bert explained, Special Forces are nothing more than the Peace Corps with guns.  Their mission is not to kill people.  It's to win hearts and minds.  That's what we should all aspire to in our daily lives.  Not win by brute force, but by winning over hearts and minds.  At one point during the challenge, we noticed a person down in a grocery store parking lot.  Cadre Bert went to them, stayed with them until paramedics arrived, and left the class to go to the hospital with this elderly person who lived alone and had a birthday the next day.  I promise you, Cadre Bert won over hearts and minds.  As we're walking through the streets, carrying a teammate in a discarded chair that Cadre Brad decided was necessary to complete our mission, being led by an American Flag and we see a man get out of his car and stand with his hat over his heart as we pass by, that's winning hearts and minds.

"Embrace the Suck." Things aren't always easy.  There are times when you have to dig deep and go to a dark place to finish what you started.  Vince Lombardi said it this way,  “The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. That's the essence of it.”  Let me tell you, we got knocked to our knees.  But finishing in the face of challenge and adversity.  Finishing as a team.  That was the real glory.

If there are no natural bodies of water, the cadre always improvise.

If there are no natural bodies of water, the cadre always improvise.

"If you ever think, 'this isn't so bad', you're doing something wrong. Because I promise you one of your teammates is having the hardest time of their life.  You should be taking on more to help them."  Cadre Bert said this early on.  It's not about doing your "fair share".  It's about doing whatever is necessary to complete the mission.  Stronger people take on more weight.  That's life.  Deal with it.  To quote my Captain with the Mobile County Sheriff's Office, Bruce Lee, "Life isn't fair.  A fair's where you go to eat cotton candy and ride the tilt-a whirl." Work to your abilities, whatever they may be.  The important thing is completing the mission.

People have asked "Was the GORUCK Challenge fun?" My answer "Hell no!" Something like this can never be described as fun.  It is however one of the most satisfying experiences of my life, and well worth it.  I'm proud to be GORUCK Tough.  

I'll finish with something Cadre Bert said at the start. "Marathons, lifting weights, triathlons, those all make people better.  We're here to make better people."  Thank You Cadre.  I get it.

The patch.  Always earned, never sold!

The patch.  Always earned, never sold!

Ironman Louisville Race Report

It's been a week since I became an Ironman 2.0 with my second Ironman finish in Louisville, KY.  For those of you that know me, you know this finish meant a lot to me.  For those of you that don't, a little background.  My girlfriend and I signed up for Ironman races over a year ago.  She registered for Ironman Wisconsin, and I registered for Ironman Louisville.  Our plan was that we would train together all year, and when race time came, I would support her at IM Wisconsin, and she would support me at IM Louisville.  Unfortunately, the best laid plains often go awry, and this was not to be.   Our relationship ended a week before her race and five weeks before mine.  

As is often the case after a relationship ends, I was heartbroken.  It was a relationship that had it's problems, of course,  but one that I never saw ending.  I was hard pressed to focus on anything, and had an especially hard time focusing on training.  I still had my last long workouts to go, and just didn't feel motivated to do it.  I was going through the motions and trying to process everything. I was a member of an Ironman Louisville facebook page, and posted one day that I was thinking about backing out and not even doing the race because my heart just wasn't in it. The members of that group were amazing to me, and convinced me that I needed to do the race for me.  That most of the training was done, and that I deserved that finish line.   People reached out to me in so many ways.  Men, women, old, young, it didn't matter.  It renewed my faith in people and I appreciate each and every one of you that posted, messaged me, and got me to that start line!

With the decision made that I would race I had my last long workouts to get through and logistics to plan.  Ironman is not an easy event. 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run.  It's harder when you have to travel to do it.  And to travel alone and have to deal with all of the logistics, it can be overwhelming.  At least, I thought so.  In reality it wasn't so bad.  It was actually pretty freeing to not have to worry about anyone else and I could do my thing, hold my own space, and take care of business.

Once I got to Louisville, everything started falling into place.  I checked in and registered, met new friends from the facebook page, found some great vegan food at a place called Heart & Soy, and generally tried to get in a good mental place.  Mentally and emotionally I was on a roller coaster, but I was determined to have the best race possible.  Leading up to the race there was some concern that we wouldn't be able to swim because there was a toxic algae bloom issue along the Ohio River, but on Friday we got the all clear that the toxins were below the acceptable recreational level and we were good to go!  I checked my bike in on Saturday, watched some of the Ironman World Championships on the big screen at the Ironman Village, and just did my best to take in the whole experience.  A dinner of Chipotle Saturday night, a stop at Starbucks to get a few gift cards for random race volunteers,  and an early bed time rounded out my pre race festivities.



Race morning the alarm went off at 3:30, and I was up with no problem and trying to get some calories in to start the day.  I headed down to transition, made sure Shanti (my bike's name) was ready for the day, dropped off my special needs bags, and began to walk to the swim start.  IM Louisville has a time trial swim start which means all the athletes line up and go into the water a couple at a time.  The line is first come first serve so a lot of people get there early to get into the water early.  The finish line cut off is midnight and the first swimmer goes into the water at 7:30.  If you think you might need every minute possible, you want to get in line as soon as you can.  I understand the first people were in line before 4:00 am.  I got there fairly early and was probably 300-400 people back.  It was fairly cool with an air temperature of 49 degrees and a water temperature of 69.  It was fun talking to people in line and trying to quell pre race nerves, but everyone was focused on the long day ahead of us.

One really cool thing about IM Louisville is that before the start, the official bugler of Churchill Downs plays "Call to Post"  He's in full dress and I was close enough to the front to hear and see him.

Here's what it sounded like...


After the National Anthem, the cannon went off and the first swimmers hit the water.  The line moved really fast and about five minutes after the cannon sounded I was off the dock and into the river.    The water felt great at 69 degrees and it wasn't too crowded.  I did IM Wisconsin in 2011 and it's a mass start with all 2500 athletes starting together. This swim was different.  With the mass start, swimmers self seed themselves fairly quickly with faster swimmers moving forward and slower swimmers falling back so you find yourself with like paced people fairly quickly.  In Louisville, you don't have 2500 swimmers to deal with at the start, but because of how the swim start works you are either swimming over others, or having others swim over you almost the entire swim. 

I swam upriver a bit around Towhead Island to the turn around buoy, then headed back down river.  It was very cool to sight on downtown Louisville and while I didn't notice much of a current, I did feel like I could stretch out my stroke a bit.  I had planned to wear an old Timex Ironman watch throughout the day just so I could have an idea of time of day and total elapsed time.  I took it and had the battery replaced a week before and tested it and it seemed fine, but when I came out of the water, I looked at it and it was dead.  Oh well, no big deal.  I came out of the river, had a wetsuit peeler help get the wetsuit off (I was told the day before by a volunteer captain they prefer "peeler" to "stripper").  I grabbed my bike bag from a volunteer and headed into the changing tent.  I had a sense of calm urgency, just trying to be smooth as I prepared for the bike.  I headed out, grabbed the bike and as I was leaving transition, the clock said 1:28.  I knew I went in the water five minutes after the start, so my total race time was about 1:23 with the swim and transition.  I was totally happy with that.  Going in I wanted to break 1:15 for the swim. 

Official swim time:  1:12:14   Pace: 1:52/100m

T1: Swim to Bike: 11:29



As i was heading out onto the bike, I noticed a volunteer at a crosswalk making sure spectators didn't cross in front of athletes.  I stopped and handed her a Starbucks gift card and said thanks for volunteering.  Later I found out she was a member of the IM Louisville facebook group and posted about receiving it.  This community is so amazing!

The first 10 miles or so of the bike course is flat and follows the Ohio river.  It was also pretty cool, so I was glad I had brought arm warmers for the first part of the ride.  The first fun/scary part of the course comes when you turn right and do about a ten mile out and back section.  There's a really fast, winding downhill, followed by a long uphill, then a turn around and the same thing back.  People were flying down the descents and I understand there were a few crashes that ended races.  All I wanted to do was survive this section, so I was more than happy to sacrifice some speed for safety.  Shortly after the out and back, the loop started.  The loop was really hilly with a lot of rollers that just didn't seem to end.  After training all year on the IM Wisconsin course, I didn't think it was so bad, but a lot of people talked about how much the bike course took out of them. Coming through LaGrange was a very cool experience.  Barricades line the street, the announcer is calling names, music is pumping and it's like racing through a town in the Tour de France.   I took a little time to sit up, slow down and totally enjoy the experience.  After LaGrange, there are some short steep hills on some country roads and residential sections,  then its into a headwind and heading back to do the loop a second time.  I was feeling fairly good, and my nutrition seemed to be working.  I went with simple this year.  An uncrustable PB&J sandwich every 20 miles, BASE Salts every 5 miles and water and Gatorade.  Hitting the loop a second time and the hills seemed harder than the first time, but I guess that's the way it always is.  I knew it was a matter of just spinning up the hills, and riding down.  Back through LaGrange a second time and the pick me up from the crowd and before I knew it the second loop was over and it was time to head back to town.  I was hoping to finish the bike in 6:30 and was on pace to do it.  Heading back you get a few miles of overall descent, but there's still enough hills to make you work, and the last ten miles are flat back into town. By this point, I was ready to get off the bike and started going to mantras in my head that my yoga teacher had given me.  "I am Brahman. I am limitless." and "Real Love. Real Tough" These helped immensely to let my mind focus on something else, while still moving forward.  Overall, the bike felt good, but the last 10 miles I started feeling a twinge in my knee that was bothersome and I hoped wouldn't impact my run.  I made it back to transition, grabbed my transition bag and prepared for the last part of my day: Running the distance that killed a messenger in ancient Greece.

Official Bike Time: 6:28:48   Speed: 17.28 mph

T2: Bike to Run: 10:33


As I headed out on the run, I was realizing that my day was shaping up exactly as I had hoped.  My crazy goal time of a sub 13 hour finish was still possible, and my swim and bike had been just about perfect.  Now is a good time for a little background.  My first IM in 2011, I finished.  I can't say much more than that.  My time was 16:19 and I was proud.  Damn proud.  In the last 4 years, I'd had a lot of changes in my life.  I had found yoga as a lifestyle, not just a way to avoid injury, I found a teacher that I love and respect, I became a vegan, I dropped over 40 lbs and I had PR'd at every distance I raced.  I had no idea what was going to happen on this run, but I was prepared for anything.  The run for me, traditionally has always been the hardest and where things tend to fall apart.  This day was to be no exception,  but it was still great and huge improvements were made. 

As I started out, I felt good and strong.  Running aid station to aid station.  I didn't know what my pace was, but I felt good.  I found out later I was averaging about a 9:35 pace for the first 8 miles or so.  Around mile 8, I started to feel incredibly thirsty, had a dry cotton mouth, and realized I hadn't peed in a while.  I knew dehydration could be a serious problem and I did not want to end my day in the medical tent with an IV.  I decided then I needed to back it down, get more fluids in me, and salvage the rest of the day. The bright side was that the twinge in my knee from the bike never presented itself on the run. The marathon course is mostly flat with a few dips at overpasses and its an out and back.  Even slowing down I felt good throughout the first loop, and like most Ironman events you get to see the finish line before heading out again for the second loop.

I Needed a Hero, So I Became One.

I Needed a Hero, So I Became One.


The second loop was a bit harder, still trying to take in as many fluids as possible, doing my best to encourage other runners, and every now and then seeing someone I knew, or a new friend on the course.  This is where you start to find out who you are and what you're made of.  There are some dark moments and you just have to remember to keep moving forward, or as we say in the GORUCK community, DFQ (Don't F&%#ing Quit).  Running, walking, drinking.  I knew that my sub 13 hour goal was gone, but it really didn't matter. I didn't have a watch and there were no clocks on the course so I just kept pushing forward and giving it what I could.  Thinking about all it had taken for me to get there, and the fact that I almost surrendered and didn't even start.  As each mile wound down, I was feeling better.  I figured I would probably beat 14 hours and that would be great!  I made the final turn onto Fourth Street and saw the finish line.  An Ironman finish line is a very special place.  It represents a lot more than 140.6 miles on any given day.  It's mental and physical strength.  It's discipline.  It's suffering.  It's sacrifice.  It's knowing that you've given up what you want now for what you want most.  It's understanding that you have the power to change your life.  It's all those things and more. It's facing your fears head on. It's doing something most people will never even attempt. It is finally coming to the realization that you are enough.  That all you ever need you will find inside.  It's a moment of complete and total triumph.


Official Run Time:  5:10:01   Pace: 11:49 per mile

Overall Finish Time:  13:13:05


What can I say, it was an amazing day as evidenced by the picture above.  I think it captures exactly what and how I felt and that moment and for that I am grateful.  I still have a lot of chaos in my personal life, but I know it will get sorted out.  I learned a lot about myself on this journey, and a lot of what I learned was crammed into the last month leading up to the race, and that's ok.  I will continue to learn, and study and grow.  I want to take this chance to say thank you to everyone who helped me over the course of the last year.  New friends and old.  Triathletes and Yogis.  You all hold a special place in my heart.  I love both communities and hope to bring them together here.  You are all amazing in your own ways and you have more in common than you can possibly imagine.  Stay with me on this journey and let's learn about ourselves together. Send me a facebook friend request or follow me on twitter @SpiritialCadre.

I'll leave you with these two thoughts, and they both apply to all of you in some way or another.

You are an Ironman!


Wecome aboard!

Welcome to Spiritual Cadre! This should be a wild ride.  Hopefully you've visited the home page, so you have an idea where the name came from.  If you haven't,  please do.  While you're at it, check out the "About" page to learn a little more about me and who I am.

I'll be sharing a lot of thoughts on this blog.  Thoughts about training for endurance events (I'm currently registered for Ironman Chattanooga in September 2016), yoga,  being vegan, relationships, Vedanta, and anything else I can think of.  This is going to be about life.  the good, then bad and the ugly.  It's things we all face, so we may as well and talk about it. 

For me, yoga is not simply a series of physical poses.  It is a way of living.  I struggle every day to live my life in a way that is consistent with certain principles.  I often fail, and that's ok.  It's about progress, not perfection. 

I chose the name "Spiritual Cadre" for several reasons.  "Spiritual" should not be taken to mean religious, although if you choose to take it that way, feel free.  For others, just remember that the word simply applies to those things affecting the human spirit.

"Cadre" has a special meaning to me as both a military veteran and a career law enforcement officer. It has a dual meaning both singular and plural.  In its plural form it refers to a group of people that are specially trained for a specific purpose and who are able to train others.  In the singular form, it is a member of such a group. 

The word "cadre" comes to us from French where it means "frame" or "framework".  I think that's exactly what we all seek.  A framework in which we can learn to truly live.

It is my hope that this can become a community of like minded people.  Those that are curious and seek answers about the world and about life.  Our specific purpose will be to live life in such a way that we are true to our spirit. "Spiritual Cadre".  Most people go through life believing that they are human beings seeking a spiritual experience.  I believe we are all spiritual beings having a human experience.

Life isn't always easy.  And it's not supposed to be.  Sometimes when things we don't expect happen to us, and we don't like what's going on in our lives, we let those waves pound us into submission.  Just remember this...

Enjoy the ride.