From a Standing Position

But…. But… I don’t like veggies! That is the craziest and most absurd comment I hear from people. It makes no sense. Does it? Don’t like peanut butter? Don’t like apples? Franky, I call bullshit on that.

> Change Your Life!
> Make the Changes You Want To See!
> Educate!
> Eat Plants!

Kill the Excuses…. Watch the video!

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Do

Accountability, community, progress, success. Do it. You know the answers deep down inside most of the time! Lets keep facilitating progress through community and action. Do it! Eat Plants!

Bootcamp 1

It can’t be just about running, guys. If we only run, we are more susceptible to repetitive motion injuries to our running parts. (knees, ankles, feet, etc.) If we’re trying to initiate our running journey, and we’re still heavy for our natural human frame, we especially need to strengthen core (back and front), legs, hip flexors, butt, etc. The stronger (not muscley-er! Different thing) we make our bodies, the more apt we are to holding proper form in the last half or third of your running efforts. I’ve found this is where my form becomes a slop-fest, and that’s when you will hurt yourself; running throughn bad form for the sake of getting it done.

There are no kudos for hurting yourself such that you’re in a constant cycle of inflaming injury, taking time off, catching back up. It’s import, for consistency’s sake, for sustainability’s sake, that you treat your WHOLE body right, and do it with purpose.Just thought I’d share some of what I do (with my family!😊) to address these concerns…

Camp life

With Growing up on the Bayou – Camp life is something that’s really special to me. I’ve grown up connecting with nature and I think it’s time to create Plant Camp! Like I’ve said before – many, many, many times a big part of this journey is community.

What do you think? Please leave comments below…. or message me….. or scream it from the rooftops. You want to connect with others that are trying to make their own big change? Interested in learning more about the plant based whole food lifestyle? How bout a few days of camp life?

Watch the video and please kick back some feedback!

LURk’n

My brother was standing there in the middle of the woods waiting for me. I saw him as I came around one of the last curves on the Bear Lake trail, before the trail empties out into the campground. For miles and miles I had been thinking about him, and the rest of the people in my life who are so crucial to where I am today. And on that particular “today” in my life I was leading a race, and about to run into the finish line with my brother. What a ride life can be.

People say all the time that “hard work pays off,” but I think what’s more accurate is that hard living pays off. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying that I’ve had a hard life by any stretch of the imagination. What I am saying is that life throws hard shit to deal with at all of us. Exactly what shit, and how hard it is to deal with is relative to each individual. I have found over the past few years that honoring my physical body through punishment and voluntary suffer sessions makes it stronger, and that makes me feel better about me and my ability to deal with non-physical pain, turmoil, and confusion life can throw at us in these modern times.
Back before we had food, and “food,” on tap 24/7, our biggest worry was starvation, living to see another day. So our daily struggles, by default, put our asses to work searching for things to eat, and potentially running from other things that want to eat us. You see, back before planes, trains, and automobiles (yes, great movie, but stay focused here. lol), the daily struggle to cover the distances needed to sustain our existence was done with bipedal locomotion. Before the days of agriculture and animal domestication, we had to find the plants and animals we wanted to eat in their natural environment, which meant traveling. There was little time for what we call stress today; internal worry about things that do not pertain to the physical survival of the organism. And, I think that is where our brains, and ability to keep us from the old daily stresses of evolved human life, have failed us. Our natural existence had a balance between the energy we consumed in the form of food, and the energy used on a daily basis to acquire it. This is how the human organism has evolved, and we’ve been bas
tardizing that balance for about 10,000 years or so. The previous few million years created the physical success and prowess of the human organism, and with “progress” we have systematically begun to dismantle it.

My point is that we must now seek out and find the work, pain, and suffering that used to be brought to our lives by default. We must seek, voluntarily, what used to be an involuntary given; and although work, pain, and suffering are perceived as negative in today’s human existence, I submit that they are crucial to the order of nature, an order that has our bodies and minds working together. Hopefully without being too wordy, that’s my explanation of why I do what I do with intensity with which I do it; eat plants, run miles.

As many of you may already know, I started the journey that has me where I am today a few years ago with a desire to not be the fattest guy in a room full of college students. Spurred emotionally by the Super Bowl victory of my favorite NFL franchise (WHODAT!), the words of its head coach in his book following that magical season, my wonderful you-can-do-anything wife, and a lifelong friend who wanted a workout partner, I began my journey to simply lose weight. (another modern human problem of our making, not nature’s) After finding myself at a place I’d actually been before, down 80ish pounds, I knew that to keep this from being just another “that time I lost all that weight” I needed to do something different. And, in walked Running.

At first, Running was just an acquaintance; “I’ll just use running to get more weight off.” I’d give Running a little nipple blood, and Running would give me a smaller number on the scale. But one day that all changed because I entered a race. After that, Running seemed a lot cooler to me. I wanted to have a deeper relationship with Running, so I read about Running and eventually began to realize that, as a human, I was born to be besties with Running. I embraced this new concept. Running was no longer there for me to use, but there to be my partner in a better human life; a life that included a human diet, and a human body with natural human proportions and physical capacity. It dawned on me that if I bought in and really cozied up to Running and my new pal Plants, then by default, I’d look the way I’d always dreamed of looking, and have the feelings and emotions that came with that type of nature’s protocol-abiding life. Long story short (I know, already too late for that), Running and Plants saved my life. I’m not being dramatic, I’m being serious; they saved my life from being one of shear existence-till-death. I’ve seen those consumption-derived-happiness lives play out over and over in my family and people I’ve been connected with throughout my life, I don’t want that.

Fast forward a few years of living this way, my friend Jean, who is also pretty tight with Running and Plants and is the person who talked me into signing up for my first ultra in Destin this past February, twisted my arm ever so slightly to sign up for the Bear Bait 50 miler, yet another ultra-marathon (now my fourth). He had just inspired the living shit out of me in November with his performance at a 100 mile race in the mountains for which our buddy Wally (another person my homie Running has introduced me to) and I paced, and helped his wife and daughter crew for him. Not long after witnessing what I saw him do on the mountain that night, I decided that for the first time I wanted to really race, as opposed to just finishing an ultra. I wanted to pay Running with something besides nipple blood this time. My previous ultra events had been so mind-blowing, so overwhelming, that I was elated to just get to the finish line. My real race efforts were saved for the 26.2 mile distance I, while still a newbie, felt like I knew a little more about. But what if I trained for, and raced and raced an ultra like it was a marathon?
Can my formerly morbidly obese body really do that?
Is that being greedy?
Am I going too far?
Am I asking too much from a body that I have abused in myriad ways for a solid 89% of my life?

As I began training for this race, I decided to follow Jean’s lead. I had seen him reading Hal Koerner’s book A Field Guide to Ultra Running, and if I know Jean at all, I know he gobbles up the best literature on ultra training available, so I didn’t even question or waiver for a second on the decision to follow Hal’s 50 mile training plan. I went in! He had me running 60, 70, 80 mile weeks; back-to-back 20+ mile long runs on the weekends; he also had me running tempo pace runs midweek, with only one rest day out of seven. Honestly, it kept me tired and hungry. But after only a few weeks I began to feel really strong on the weekend long runs, and was able to speed up and run hard toward the end of almost every long run, really emptying the vessel.
By the time the taper began, I was feeling nervous, but ready. In the first week of the taper, I knew from past experience that not running my usual weekly mileage would bother me, I’d feel like I was losing ground (tapering can be a mind fuck. js), so on the Monday morning of the first week of my two-week taper I did a leg workout that my gym-rat wife put together for us a while back. It’s about 600 reps of leg exercises. And, I kept up my Tuesday/Thursday bootcamp routine that week. Needless to say, my legs were so sore that week that the last thing on my mind was running more. But as I healed up, it was hard to run those recovery-pace miles in the week leading up to the race; I was feeling good and started the week off running a little too fast. However, with some friendly scolding via text message from our LUR (Louisiana Ultra Runners) mother hen Rhea (an experienced ultra beast whose advice should grab your attention) I was able to course-correct and stay on task for the rest of the week, and heal up properly.

On Friday morning I woke up at 4am and double-checked my list of needed gear, got my truck loaded and headed over to my Bam Bam’s house to link up with my race crew: Mom, Bam Bam, my brother Dustin, and his lovely lady Mishca. We arrived early enough to get a lap of the race course in, and get my race packet before we retired for the evening. After getting Bam Bam settled down and in bed (sometimes he forgets he is not going home when on a trip, so some comforting explanations are required to get him settled enough to hit the sack), my brother grilled up some taters and other veggies for supper. After getting our grub on, we were in the bed as well. (Bam Bam ate fruit for supper, he is a bananaholic)

Before my 3:30 am alarm sounded off, I was awake. It’s race day! It’s time to, like an ol football coach used to say, GET AFTA DAT ASS. I’ve been waking up this early almost daily, even weekends, to get my training in before other daily obligations and duties. During my training for this race, life definitely tried to derail me, but failed. Dammit, I’m ready to get this show on the road. Dammit, I’m ready to run right NOW, at 3am! Let’s do dis! I put on some Juvenile and started getting my mind right. Chills. Butterflies. Tears.

With Bam Bam and the rest of my crew loaded up and ready to roll at 4:15am, we double-, and triple-checked the gear, nutrition, and hydration, and were rolling out by 4:30. After a foggy, slow ride to the campground where the race was to start, Mom dropped me off at Wally’s camper. There, I met up with Wally, his wife Nikki, Jean, Jerry—our “Godfather of ultras,” and Rhea. We all donned our headlamps, and headed for the start line.

Now, at the start line, after the requisite pre-race selfies, the “beeps” of our GPS watches fill the air, and just like that BOOM we’re off! Jean jumped out in front of Wally and I immediately with the intention of getting ahead of the pack in an effort to avoid congestion on the single track trail on which we’d be spending the day. I liked the pace. It was about 2 minutes per mile faster than what my goal pace was, but it did wonders for the butterflies in my stomach. That first lap was so cool! It was Jean, me, then Wally, in that order, with Wally and I making jokes about Jean mistaking this race for a 5k because of the pace in mile one. Also in that lap, a deer damn near ran into Wally. Oh, the memories that are born on the trail. Good stuff!

After the first lap, Wally blew thru the aid station and left me and Jean to our 50 miles while he went beast mode on his 50k. Jean and I stayed together for lap two and three, still a little quicker than I had planned, but hey, if Jean was running this pace, so was I. By then end of the third lap, I decided I wanted to change into my fresh shoes early. I called out to Jean that I was going to run ahead to change my shoes. As I sat there changing my shoes, Jean popped out of the trail, and effortlessly moved through the aid station looking strong. By the time I got my shoes tied, he was about 1000 meters out in front. I could see he was starting to do the smart thing: settle into a more sustainable 50-mile pace. And, while I wanted to do the same, I figured I’d catch back up to him first. But it wound up taking me the entire 4-mile loop. I didn’t get back up to him until we were back at the aid station. When we went to leave the aid station this time, he took the time to caution me. He said, “You pushed pretty hard in that last loop, bro. That was totally unnecessary. This is a long race, man. You had all day to make up that time.” His words were sincere, and well-received. I promised I would chill, starting on this lap, lap 5. Lap 5 I chilled, and started to settle into an all-day effort.

My Mom, per my request, had been recalculating how slowly, per lap, I could go after every lap I finished, to still finish in under 10 hours, which was my goal finish time. But I kept coming in under the planned 46 minutes per lap, and felt good, so I was feeling encouraged. I had kept going in lap 6 when Jean stopped for a second with his crew (the most adorable crew of the race btw), so now I was alone.
Alone on the trail with 7 laps to go, I just obsessed over staying steady. I wanted to just keep a solid average and not need to slow to a walk at the end if possible. Just like I did in the New York City Marathon, I thought about my Bam Bam. I kept thinking about that overused term I hear from people when we get on the subject of running, “I just can’t.” “No, you just won’t,” I’d think to myself about the hypothetical excuse-maker. My Bam Bam “can’t,” that term should be saved for the people who actually need it. To use it by choice is blaspheme. This would fuel me every time I would start to feel like I “couldn’t.” My Bam Bam is sitting there in a wheelchair waiting to see me pop out of those woods and make him smile one more time, because he’d give me a big smile every time I came thru. While Bam Bam was a huge source of inspiration for me, he was not the only relationship that drove me and my passion to drive, drive, drive that day. My wife, who often has to miss these races due to her professional obligations, but we are both with each other always, regardless of physical proximity, was on my mind. She is the best thing I’ve ever won, and I could hear her in my head saying, “Get your life together, and finish the fucking race baby! I know you got this!” In addition to Bam Bam, my brother, who often gets the shitty end of the stick being my business partner, was also there waiting for me to come through, ready to give me any aid I need, per usual, as well as a loud, confident, “You can be tired later, bruh! Let’s fuckin GO!” I could see the pride in my Mom’s eyes, it was mixed with concern, but I could see pride nonetheless.

On every loop everyone who matters to me played a role in motivating me: I knew Jean was back there somewhere, not too far, just buying time, doing his normal steady grind, and the last thing I wanted was a “you alright, bro?” as he passed me on his way to his usual confident, stoic finish; I knew that I was ahead of Rhea before the 50k finish, and the prospect of her coming around me with a “shouldn’t have come out so fast, my boy…,” as she went around me kept me driving to the 50k mark; I knew Wally had finished the 50k already and would be standing with my brother and Bam Bam as I’d pop out of the woods after that 8th loop, and I wanted him to be surprised and proud of me…

I wound up finishing that 8th loop, the 50k finish (which was actually 32.5 miles), in 5:25ish. my previous 50k pr was 5:55. And that was actually 31 miles. I came in right behind the first 50k female. Now I’ve got 5 more laps, 20 miles. I’ve done 20 miles a million times, it seems. So at that point, I was telling myself “only 20 left.” I began to relax a little. I was feeling good, and began to slow a little. I knew I was ahead of my goal, so I took a breath and slowed the pace.

Then, out of nowhere, I heard footsteps. Uh oh! The 50k is over, this cant be a 50k’r. Can it? I looked back and saw a petite female blasting up the hill behind me. Then I noticed a yellow bib, that means she’s a 50 miler. Damn! I’ve done so well, I’ve come so far, I’ve never run stronger or longer in my life, regardless of gender, I don’t want to get passed now! So, I picked up the pace and kept looking back. I could see that I was getting some separation so I just kept pushing, and checking back to see if I was still pulling away. I was. Then, I saw a couple dudes standing there in the middle of the trail. As I approached, I could see one of them was wearing a yellow bib. I was about to pass a 50 miler! Cool! I mean, hell, I was happy to just still be running, much less passing folks. I ran up to the guy and high-fived him pretty hard, I was excited and was genuinely offering encouragement. Well, as I went to run past them, the guy not racing said, pointing at the racer, “He’s first place, so y’all are 1 and 2!” At first I thought he meant that I was now in first place, but after I thought about it for a minute, I decided that he meant that I was second and he was a lap ahead, in first. If I was in first there should be some indication when I got to the aid station. When I arrived, it was just business as usual; my brother met me at the woods, asked what I needed, yelled it to the rest of the crew, and they got it ready for me as I approached. It was confirmed in my head at that point: I was in second place. By this time, the girl that had been behind was even with me, and as we passed through the start/finish I heard them tell her she had 4 laps left, I had 3 left, so she was a lap down. I was relieved because she was fresh as a daisy, and I didn’t know if I could run with her for the rest of the race. Phew!
But as we left the start/finish, I kept her in my sight anyway. I figured I could use her to pace me, and maybe I could run fast enough to catch up to the leader. So, for almost that entire loop, I ran uncomfortably close to her. I apologized to her and admitted that I was using her for pace, when she prompted me to pass her on one of the foot bridges. She laughed and said, “You can’t draft off me!!” But by the last mile in that loop, I couldn’t hang with her anymore. Shit, we were running an 8:30 pace at times in that loop. Pretty sure she wanted me to stop breathing on the back of her head (insert embarrassed face emoji). When I popped out of the woods this time, again, no mention of the leader, so I was kinda settling into the idea of second place. I checked with my crew to make sure the girl was a lap down, and they confirmed that she was. But my brother and mom was really pushing me out of the aid station for some reason. Mom said, “You’re doing really really good, Josh! So good! Keep pushing!” So, I assumed I was climbing on the leader.
On that second to last loop, I went as hard as I could muster. I was still trying to keep the girl I’d been harassing close, but damn, she was KILLING me. When I got back after that loop, my brother walked up with me to the rest of the crew, and broke the news “You are in the lead by 5 minutes!” I immediately started to cry, hard. My brother said, “ It ain’t time for that yet, Josh! Finish this fucking thing!”
I started out on that last loop not quite sure how to feel. I was just kinda in a daze, man. “I’m the leader? It’s the last lap, and I’m in the lead with a 5 minute cushion! Why the fuck am I running right now? Time for a little walk break, Joshua.”
Then I walked past my LUR friends’ campsites, and I heard Wally shout “GO, BIG J!!!! HOODEE HOOOOO!!!!!” I returned a “HOODEE HOOOOO!!!!” of my own.
Next, I heard Rhea, “you better run, my boy! Just remember the person that wins is the person that’s willing to suffer the most!”
I thought, “Does she realize I’m winning?” Then I thought, “Maybe she knows the guy chasing me can catch me. SHIT, I better get moving!” I took a couple swigs of Tailwind, and started running. I spent the rest of that loop running, walking with purpose, and checking over my shoulder. I knew I had some left in the tank, not much, but some. So I figured I’d get as much recovery as I could incase it was a sprint to the finish, but I never saw anyone behind for the whole last loop. I got to the end and my brother was waiting there to run me in to the finish. Man, that was one of the best feelings of my life! I’ll tell ya what, feeling proud of yourself is one of the most powerful things you could ever do for You.

It turns out, though, I wasn’t the only one with good reason to be proud. For starters, my buddy Wally’s cute-as-a-button little wife went totally HAM sammich, and came in 3rd female overall in the 50k, and pr’d the distance by over thirty damn minutes! Wally himself ran to a second place overall finish in the 50k, completing 8 loops in about 4 hours and 50 minutes! Fuckin’ ANIMAL! Rhea, our LUR rabble-rousing mother hen—even though she’s younger than all of us and the furtherest thing from a chicken one could imagine, came in a nonchalant 2nd overall female in the 50k. My buddy Jean came in third overall in the 50 miler.

imageOnce at the finish, basking in the accomplishment of not just myself but my whole group of friends, it met the guy I had passed in mile 40. He was quite a guy! Rob Smith is his name, and it turns out he was also a plant-based guy, and a fan of Rich Roll. Further, as Jean, Rob, and myself stood there, for the paparazzi-esque camera action focused on us, the top three 50-mile finishers, it dawn on me that we’re all plant-based guys… PLANTPOWER, baby!
What a day! The day I married my wife was the happiest day of my life, and I’ve had some fairly life-altering experiences along this journey with Plants and Running that rank right up there tied for second place to that day. But this one bumps them all to third. The trail was breath-taking. Even after 13 loops, I was still enjoying the views, the path, the trees, the gentle uphills, the puddles of cool clear water we ran through, the great foot bridges! It was magnificently manicured and the most forgiving and gentle running surface I can imagine. I think I may be spoiled for life!
Bear Bait Ultras was an amazing host. Bill and Dan, as well as all the volunteers, were attentive, accommodating, and genuine. They were so nice, in fact, that I decided to forgo putting on a specific shirt I’d had made denouncing the popularity of bacon, as I’d been offered it several times during the race and didn’t want to come off like a vegan asshole—there’s enough of those, lol. Plus, I didn’t think I’d be the winner of the damn race when I planned to don said t-shirt.
Anyway, thanks, Bill, Dan, and all the volunteers; thanks, Bear Lake Campground, and all the high-fiving hikers on trail; thanks to my wife, Mom, Dustin, Bam Bam, Mishca, and all of my LUR family. What a day of love, peace, plants, and running!

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Dear Vegans, Hunters:

Months ago my wife told me about an Instagram crush of hers, @domzthompson. This is no big deal. I mean, I have Instagram crushes of my own (ahem…@robinnyc, @shebaturk, @shalaneflanagan…), so I can’t hate on my wife for possessing similar, let’s say, “admiration” for a social media personality of her own. However, when she showed me a picture of this guy, I was like, “Damn, baby. You went IN on this one!” The dude was ridiculously handsome, ripped, swoll, fast, strong, he had eyes that even another (straight) dude would notice, and to top it all off he was a compassionate outspoken vegan. And, while the man and husband in me had to hate just a tad, for his physical ridiculousness, on sheer principle alone, the plant-based athlete in me was intrigued. The dude was obviously a beast; a beast with compassion. And he didn’t seem to give a flying fuck who knew about it. Long story short, I came to kinda dig the dude myself, not for all the same reasons as my wife, but dig him nonetheless.

As I became a follower of his on social media, I found his message to be compelling, refreshing, and quite admirable in the machismo-centric space of athletics. My wife and I bought some EAT WHAT ELEPHANTS EAT T’s from his website Crazies and Weirdos and proudly donned them around the city, as well as on the bayou in Thibodaux and Houma. As a man who was raised in a machismo-centric environment (I know to some this may come off corny), it’s comforting to see an exemplary beast-of-a-man show compassion, wear it on his sleeve, and be willing to be different for it. And, much the same way Rich Roll’s example compelled me to embrace my plantpoweredness, and go on the offense for it, Dom’s example has made me feel more comfortable about embracing the innate compassion, and empathy we are born with as humans for other sentient beings; it’s ok to empathize with a crying, hurting, confused, abused, soul, even if it’s not human. And I submit that this tact is more manly than taking the “fuck dat deer’s, pig’s, cow’s, chicken’s, duck’s, rabbit’s feelings” path of least resistance in the world of “manly” men.

Listen Vegans, don’t get it twisted here. I’m not putting down or vilifying my bayou brethren who still hunt. I understand how hard it is to go against all we’ve known for our whole lives. I understand that to a coonass, cajun, Louisianan hunting is a way of life passed down from generation to generation. It is not a collection of heartless country bumpkins getting their jollies from “torturing” and “murdering.” It is a group of salt-of-the-earth nature lovers perpetuating a model of camaraderie, respect for nature, and the serious act of taking a life for the percieved greater good of providing “food” for your family and other loved ones. I have come to understand that eating animals, and therefore the act of taking their lives, is not only unnecessary but actively harmful to our bodies. Those who have yet to discover this, or even who have discovered this but struggle with change, are not evil. They are people I know, love, live among, befriend, communicate with regularly, and yes, understand and want to help.

With all that said, Hunters, I am a voice for change. That may sound grandiose and self-important. I get that. But for those who know me, who have hunted with me, who “Q’d it up” on the regular with me, you know how big the changes in my life have been, and you have seen first-hand, in person over the years as these changes have manifested themselves physically. Yes, I have lost weight, but that is the least of what I’m talking about, if at all. I couldn’t care less how ascetically “pleasing” you are, or how thin, fit, lean you look. Although, those things are a side effect of health, real health. But they can also be an indicator of biological manipulation via contrived macronutrient controls and unnatural, unsustainable practices. What I mean is, the aforementioned things can be achieved through sheer manipulative force (calorie restriction, unnatural macronutrient attention and manipulation, pharmaceutical appetite suppression, etc…), or unhealthy practices and habits (cocaine habit, heroin habit, smoking crack, severe alcoholism, abusing pharmaceuticals, etc…); OR, they can be achieved by truly understanding that diseased, overweight, depressed, unhappy, stressed, and tired are not the natural default for the magnificent organism called the human being, AND, by leveraging the multiverse of informational resources in this day and age, give understanding what is natural and proven as a path to default health and vitality for the human being a real shot, coupled with pragmatic implementation and gradual but permanent lifestyle change (natural human diet: plants. natural human movement: covering distance with bipedal locomotion). I know, I know, that’s a mouth-full. Read it twice if you have to. I’m probably lacking the necessary animal-derived brain protein to put it in a more concise, digestible way. But, I swear, I gave it my best shot.

My point is this: Yes, vegans can come off as “too much” to hunters. And, yes, hunters can seem heartless and cruel from the outside looking in. But, in the end, all I want is to articulate, in the best way I can, why both sides have respective “good” to be lauded and supported. And, to truly give my people an avenue to default health and vitality via plants, without being considered or feeling like a sellout, turncoat, pussy, etc…

And, I’d like to add one thing here. Of all the ways humans use animals for food, even though the idea itself is evolutionarily incorrect for the human organism, hunting for “food” is by far the most inline with the anti-suffering values of your average vegan. But, hunters, let’s think about doing our nature-loving in a different way. Nature, of which our bodies and minds are a part, will thank us.

Come Hell or High Water

Last year as I was training for the NYC Marathon I signed up for this crazy thing I’d heard of called the Hotter Than Hell Marathon. It’s a marathon on a two mile loop starting at midnight, in July, In New Orleans. I heard of this event through my buddy JT on one of our long runs. And if recall, he said something to the affect of “that sounds just crazy enough to be fun.” Well, we found ourselves in Audubon Park that July, at 2am, looping the two mile walk path over and over until I reached 26.2 miles (JT showed up to pace me for my last 13ish). I remember apologizing to him as I started to bonk in mile 22 because he’d come out there to support me and here I was cramping up and slowing down while he was fresh and ready to run. He gently scolded me for the preposterous nature of that statement/apology when he said, “Don’t apologize to me, Bruh! You’re giving it everything you got.”  The point is, I was done, I had emptied my vessel, and I had run my second 26.2 with my new buddy JT cheering me on.

What a night! Not only had I finished my second marathon within 6 months of my first, but I had done it where I’d logged what feels like a million training miles, in Audubon Park. What a night that was. But while I was looping around the park for my 26.2 miles, I noticed a tent with a sign that read “Louisiana Ultra Runners,” and I learned that these folks had been looping that same track since 8pm the night before…mind blown. My buddy, Jean, was there that night too (he and my buddy Wally helped me through that Destin 50k I wrote about back in February, more on them in a minute…), but he was with the “Louisiana Ultra Runners,” “Dusk Til Dawn” crew. I barely knew him at the time, but I knew him enough for us to exchange pleasantries during the run that night. I remember he was actually aiming for the 50k mark that night, but called it a night when he reached the 26.2 distance. At the finish, I learned that this was actually his very first marathon. So, he was aiming for a 50k without ever having run a marathon…balls! I knew then that we would be friends.

Fast forward 12 months, two more marathons, a 50k beach race, and a 40 mile training run, and  I found myself at Audubon Park again this year, but this time signed up for the “Dusk Til Dawn” event I’d been blown away by a year ago. Not only was I there ready to do this craziness, but JT was there to run his first ultra distance race. But this year it wasn’t just JT, Jean and myself. This year, thanks to the Thibodaux Running Group, we had quite a posse running. Beside the three of us and my wife, who was there to run the first 10 with us this year, there was Wally and Ethan, Wally’s wife Nikki, and our friend Anna who’s running NYC this year. But simply introducing these folks by name alone will not do. They are so important to me that I’d like to say a little more about each one of them before I continue on with this narrative.

Let me start with Ethan because I am most proud of him for what he accomplished Saturday night. He went into this race kinda worried, almost doubting himself. He’s younger than the rest of the crew, and, as much as we fuck with him, he still looks up to us I think. He’s always full of questions, worry, and sometimes doubt. But Saturday night his nuts dropped as a runner. This young man went to work at 8pm Saturday night and stayed steady all night, reaching the 40 mile mark before I did. Which is something I know he’s proud of, and that flatters me more than he knows; that beating me to 40 miles was such a big deal to him. We are both from Chackbay, have lost a lot of weight, and are now both plant based ultra runners. Who’d a thunk it, right? Love ya, E! Way to grind, babe!

Then of course there’s the lovely Anna. What can I say, she’s a beautiful, strong, smart young woman. She has the heart of a lion and the face of an angel. What a sweetheart! She’s like another little sister to me, and I’m proud to be her running buddy. She is running the NYC Marathon this November and I can hardly wait for her to experience that! She ran her first marathon in January at the Louisiana Marathon in Baton Rouge this year. Her goal Saturday night was to get another 26.2 under her belt as a conditioning run on her way to NYC. She did it and felt good getting it done. I’m very proud of her for coming out to run a marathon starting at midnight, in July, in New Orleans. It’ll pay dividends, sha!

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know who JT is from the #TCSNYCMARATHON post I made about our run in NYC together. But you know him as a marathoner, not an ultramarathoner. Saturday night he ventured out past the 26.2 mile comfort zone, and reach the 50k mark. This was his goal going in, and he got it done. I’m glad he was there, and glad he got it done. Dude’s a beast, and the best friend a guy could ask for.

I spoke about Jean a little in the beginning of this post, but what I didn’t mention was the fact that, since that fateful night we spent together a year ago, he has gone on to become quite an accomplished, while at the same time humble and aspiring, ultra marathoner. Beside helping me thru my first 50k in Destin, he’s gone on to run the Mount Mitchell Challenge, the Sleepy 50k, Badlands 50 miler (which was called at the 50k mark for almost everyone due to whether. I only mention that fact because he would want me to), and has played the role of pacer for his ultra running friends along the way. He and his wife are quite literally some the coolest people I know, and their daughter will melt you instantly. In a year’s time we’ve grown from exchanging pleasantries to becoming dear, dear friends. I value his presence in my life and running more than he knows.

And then there is Nikki and Wally, the couples equivalent to human Prozac. Nikki was there, as was Anna, to run the marathon distance. She just wanted another one under her belt as she trains for her first 50k, which is coming up in October. It was wonderful to have her bouncing around that two-mile track after midnight gushing with encouragement. She is one of the sweetest, cutest little humans you can imagine, and her husband is a stone-cold beast. Wally may be a beast, but you don’t know it until you see him in action. He is the most humble accepting, generous person you would ever want to meet, yet, at the same time, an animal in the ultra distances. And he, like the rest of us, is a newbie in this ultra thing. If you remember my post about my first 50k, Wally is the guy who came back for me after he finished his race. He’s the consummate Marine, and the epitome of what an American soldier should be. The English language fails me in describing what this man means to my running and my new life. Wally ran 42 miles, came in 5th overall, and was still looking fresh as a daisy at 6am. Animal!

“Fresh as a daisy” is NOT how I’d say I felt after my 40 miles Saturday night; “Emboldened”? Yeah; “Proud”? I’d say yes; “Encouraged”? Absolutely; “Progressed”? Without a doubt; “Humbled”? Bet your sweet ass; “Learned”? A resounding ABSOLUTLEY!

You see, I’d run this distance before in training. My friend from Houma, about 20 miles South of Thibodaux, Stu, put together a training run where he and I, and several other running friends were to run from Houma to Thibodaux, then back to Houma for a total of forty miles…just for funsies. lol! But, I knew when I committed to it, it was going to hurt, and that my body was, as still a somewhat newbie runner, not 100% prepared for it. But that wasn’t really of concern to me. What I wanted to practice was not quitting. Here’s what the few months previous looked like for me as a runner: (1/25/15)started the race year off with my fastest marathon ever at 03:34:16, and fourth in twelve months; (2/14/2015) then within weeks I found myself in Destin at the startline line of my first ultra, a beach 50k; after that, I started to try to get back into speed mode for the upcoming Crecent City Classic (CCC) where I would be aiming for not only a poster (top 500) but a sub-40-minute 10k, so lots of speed training; (3/29/2015) I found myself in Marshall TX the weekend before the CCC for the Healthfest 2015 where I met Rich Roll in person for the first time, and we recorded our latest podcast conversation, and I ran a 5k in which I PR’d my mile at 5:50; (4/4/2015) ran the CCC in 41:06, not my goal but felt good about it, it was everything I had, still a PR; (4/27/2015) we started our “fun run” from Houma to Thibodaux and back…

Needless to say, I knew it would be rough. But again, I was just practicing the being-out-on-the-course-all-day aspect of it, as I knew I had signed up to run a 100k in October 2015. And boy did that run empty my vessel for sure! The last 8-10 miles was just pure survival. With 6 miles to go I was reduced to walking only. In the last 4 I could no longer stop walking for water breaks (I was carrying water tho) for fear of ceasing up with cramps and not being able to continue. But, as grueling and tough as it was, I made it back to my truck in Houma. Stu, my marathoning buddy Jerome, who ran off in mile 36ish to get back in time for his daughter’s soccer game (BEAST!), and my new friend Chris, who I’d only previously known on Strava, got in 40 tough miles on a random, hot, muggy, April Sunday. It felt great to be done, and to have that new skin hanging on my wall (sorry for the trapper metaphor, vegans.lol)!

Finally, back to this Saturday night…

So, I knew I’d done the distance before. I knew I could suffer through it and get it done. I had learned some more about my mid-run nutrition and hydration on subsequent (to the 40-miler) long runs leading up to this, and although I knew I had probably run too many miles leading into this all-night, timed event, again, I was practicing my not quitting more than the actual running of 40 miles. Although, I wanted 40 miles that night, come hell or high water!

But here’s the thing, I abandoned my newly found gel-nutrition, Ion-capsule-infused-water hydration, en lieu of using whole foods to fuel my run. I had, instead of Huma gels and electrolyte water, dates and potato/rice burritos, and gallons of just regular water.

This was a mistake, and here’s why. While I felt good early, I wasn’t getting anything in the way of calories or electrolytes into my body ahead of time, before I really needed it, as I had been on my previous long runs with solid results. I knew I had food to eat back at the truck, and my plan was to start eating dates around the 8 to 10 mile mark, which I did. I was going to start eating my potato burritos at about 15-18 miles. This was an experiment that failed in a large way. The problem was was 1.), I wasn’t drinking my normal electrolyte water because I thought I’d have all I needed in the pickle juice (yes, that was my plan), and 2.) when it was time for me to eat my burritos I was already vomiting and about to pass out, therefore food wasn’t gonna happen…fun shit!

I ran right into a brick wall in mile 18. Mile 19 took me the better part of an hour, and the pussy deep inside me contemplated dropping. But instead, I dug into my running bag and grabbed some old Huma gels. I smashed back about four in a row. I went to the restroom and looked at myself in the eyes. The main reason I’d done this was because a couple of my friends were telling me I looked “bad”, which I assumed meant pale and dehydrated. The bathroom mirror visit proved them right; I looked rough. But while I was there, I literally looked at myself and said “you are not going to quit, you hear me mother fucker! Get it together, take a deep breath and let’s get moving. You got this!” I hobbled out of the restroom straight onto the track and began to chop away at the, at the time, seemingly insurmountable remaining 21 miles, which I wanted to get done before 6am.

By mile 20 I was feeling good enough to post an update about my progress to Instagram. I remember looking at myself on the screen of my phone and thinking, “still looking a little rough, playa!” But, by the time I got back to my truck and got some more gels in me, I was feeling better. As the miles passed, I felt better and better. I found a nice lady with some s-caps, and she got into the routine of giving me three about every other loop. But, as I wasn’t planning to use gels on this run, I ran out quickly. Thanks to Wally and Jean being at their trucks as I finished one of my loops, I was able to explain that I had switched to gels, was feeling better, but had completely exhausted the supply of left-over gels I had in my running bag. The two of them pitched in and donated enough calories for me to finish.

My only problem by this time was severe cramping. I was feeling great now, mentally. I had my stamina back, and I wanted to run, and I was able to run miles without stopping at times, then I’d cramp badly and have to walk. Then I’d slowly ramp it back up and string together a few more consecutive miles of running, then boom!, cramps again. This was the rhythm for the last 16-18 miles. I even caught my little asshole, chackbilly, dickhead buddy Ethan at one point, who had gotten past me, only to have him catch back up and overtake me as I was walking out my cramps about a mile and half later. “Fuckin cramps!,” I thought to myself, “gonna have Ethan all puffed up in the damn head…” (Don’t take up for him. This how he’s treated. He’s used to it.).

By mile 34, I knew I’d get my 40 done. It was going to be close. I had cost myself a lot of time with a pretty huge race plan brain fart, but I did the math in my head and figured I could get 40, just barely, but I could get it. I had even decided that if 6am were to catch me, that I was going to continue anyway to get my forty. DNF or not.

In mile 36 I saw a sight for sore eyes. Wally was rounding out his last lap, mile 42. He said “how ya doing, big J?” And I just walked over to him and hugged him as tight as I could. I told him I was gonna get my 40, I only had 1.5 laps to go, and I could feel he was proud of me. We were both sweaty and tired, but he looked good.

I made it back to the truck for my last water/gel/salt-capsule refill. My watch died just after I clocked 38.1 miles. I walked/jogged as fast as I could for the last two miles to make it to 40 miles before the 6am cutoff: 5:56am.

When I got back, of course the first face I saw was JT’s. He just said something to the affect of “kudos, brah. I don’t know how y’all fuckers did that! Congratulations!” I couldn’t even look at him, because I really didn’t want to bust out into tears. I don’t want this to be a big deal. This is my new normal…

I met and ran with some awesome people on my run run Saturday night. And that’s the draw: the people. You see, building a new normal is work. It can’t be done alone. You can try, but the likelihood of sliding back into your old ways, the ways that kept/keeps you less-than is very high. Just like we tend to not eat like shit and drink alone, living/thriving/achieving is best done in the company of people who embolden your spirit and keep you accountable. I love my running family, my life team, my partners in crime. Thank you for being there, and thank you for getting us together, Erika (founder of Thibodaux Running Group).

Believe you can. Associate with those who think your right about that. And have fun getting it done. #runthibodauxIMG_9305

Running With a Purpose

As I listened intently to Rich Roll‘s podcast a couple weeks ago, I learned about a bold fella named James Lawrence. He had quiet confidence and a loud, world-record-shaping mission. A young father of five, James (A.K.A. The Iron Cowboy) is a dad that gets to spend time with his kids and their classmates. In doing so, he noticed an issue that is prevalent among school children, his kid’s very classmates: obesity. And even though his state of residence is not one of the fattest states in the country (as mine is), it is a noticeable, heart-wrenching issue. Further, he learned of a statistic that has equally effected me in my journey: this generation of children is the first generation in history expected to NOT outlive their parents. As a father of five, he found this completely unacceptable. This, in a nutshell, has spurred him to DO. As an avid triathlete, and current world record holder in that realm, he aimed to use his athletic prowess to shine a bright light on the rocky shores that so threaten the children of this great nation: obesity and obesity-connected disease, especially among children. He has committed to completing a full Ironman-distance triathlons  (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run) in all fifty states, in 50 days. Yes, you read that right. While the lumens produced by these actions are significant and brilliant, it will not be enough by itself. The whole idea behind it is use not just raise awareness of the rocky shore, but to inspire the ACTIONS necessary to avoid said shore. Which is what brought me to Alabama on a warm July Thursday afternoon.
After hearing the aforementioned podcast, my buddy Jonanthon (JT) texted to me a message… You see, we had both heard James’ story on the same day via #RRP 149, and Jonathon had a “crazy idea” per this text message. The minute I read the text I knew what the crazy idea was, and if I was right about it, I was IN. Sure enough, just as I suspected, JT was proposing we tri (see what I did) to catch up with the Iron Cowboy as he made his way along the gulf coast. We have a buddy in Mobile, and we noticed that Iron Cowboy James would be completing his 20th (!) Ironman-distance there. So, we decided to, pending tropical weather, go run the 26.2 miles with him that day. Lucky, the weather cooperated, James was still going strong, and the run was on…
JT and I pulled up at the Iron Cowboy’s staging area in Fairhope, Alabama, right on the other side of Mobile Bay from Mobile, Alabama. It was at a cool looking little place called the Windmill Market. As soon as we arrived we noticed runners waiting around for James to wrap up his bike leg so they could begin the run with him. As we mingled and waited for the Iron Cowboy to get back to the Windmill Market ourselves, we met some cool folks. Almost immediately someone recognized me thanks to Rich Roll and his podcast, and my having been a guest myself. This is something that I don’t think I’ll ever get used to, but am flattered and grateful for. That very recognition will, I hope, serve as a seed for being able to reach people much the same way Rich and James are, in a way that positively effects health trajectories one by one, and ultimately, concentrically; a bayou, a state, a region, a nation, a world. But, anyway, after meeting all these nice people, and making the usual introductions, the Iron Cowboy shows up on his bike.

If one had assumed, as we did, that a man on his 20th ironman in as many days would need a minute after he jumped off his bike before he started his run, one would be incorrect. James whipped in, took a few photos, then BOOM he was off and running. And JT n myself, along with a horde of newly acquired running buddies, fell in right behind him. The start happened so quick that our buddy from Mobile hadn’t had time to make it over from across the bay in time to start with us (he actually ran out ahead of us, and then back, to offset our head start on his Garmin. Runners! Gotta love em. lol!). We made a few loops around Fairhope logging miles and killing time until the 5k was scheduled to kick off back at the start. There, we would pick up even more people. But, before we got kicked back off, James said a few words to the local media and coordinated the all-important pre-run group selfie.

As we ran the 5k (miles 8,9,&10 for us), I talked and bonded with strangers who were strangers no more due to mileage and scenery, and apparently Rich Roll again; while running and talking I heard a “is that the voice of Josh LaJaunie I hear?,” come from behind as I ran, to which I replied with a typical “yes ma’am.” Turns out she is a big fan of the RRP and knew who I was. Crazy! We continued through the beautiful little town of Fairhope until we ultimately, in 3.1 miles, wound up back at the staging/starting area again. Here we lost a few runners as we embarked on the final 16 miles of the Iron Cowboy James’ Alabama marathon.
By now the sun was getting low in the sky. We had a smaller group of runners now, but still his largest marathon group to date per James himself. We ran along the shore of Mobile Bay as the sun set and we were getting well into double digit mileage for the night. As we sadly veered from the beautiful view of Mobile Bay onto a dark running path that paralleled the highway, we sorta separated out into small groups as the path couldn’t handle everyone running shoulder-to-shoulder. In my little pack one of the people with me, besides my buddy Aaron (who would run ahead and back to catch up the mileage he’d missed earlier. Yeah, that guy.), there was a young lady who mentioned her longest run to date was 5 miles. Well, we were about five miles in since the start of the 5k, where she had joined. I knew we had about an 8 mile out-n-back before we were due back in Fairhope, but here she was just running. She had no idea how far she’d make before she would need a ride in, but she was going for it. I was so impressed with her heart. What balls!? I love this stuff! That’s what this kind of things does, besides awareness: it inspires assaulting your normal, breaking new ground, getting hella uncomfortable for the sake of something bigger than yourself. She wound up not hopping into a vehicle until she had done 11 miles! Straight beastmode! In the cutest little package you can imagine. I never even got her name, but I’m so proud of her. Quite inspiring.

We ran into the dark until the mile 17 mark. Then it was time to turn around and head back. We knew we’d be a little shy of 26.2 when we got back, but James wanted to make sure he didn’t take one step more than 26.2 (can you blame the man. He’s on his 20th in a row!). So, we knew we’d be doing some looping once back in town to make the full 26.2. [side note: as I write this, I just saw on Facebook that he is starting today’s marathon now. BEAST]. After the loops, we finished on the exact spot he’d wanted. High fives all around!!!
As we sat around, as runners do after a solid run, we discussed the evening. What a beautiful thing for a beautiful cause. I found my vessel sufficiently emptied. I had a few new friends. And I was completely inspired by the journey Iron Cowboy James has chosen for himself, his family, and his cause.

I usually hate to bring up money, or especially ask for it, but in this case if you can find it in your heart to donate to his cause, as I have, I would be forever grateful. He’s the prime example of how DOING, as opposed to wishing, can start the momentum of a world-changing paradigm shift.

Thank you James Lawrence. It was an absolute honor to empty the vessel in your, and your cause’s, presence. Peace.

F.A.Q.s (profanity. really. js)

 

Let me start this post by saying that I offer no absolutes. For every ascertain I make, one can most likely find a loophole, an exception, a contradiction. That’s life. That’s why there are highly educated lawyers in this world. Everything is open to interpretation. And depending upon what one’s endgame is, there are infinite interpretations of a set of finite words. So, with that in mind, I’d like to write a little bit about some common questions, and some ideas that have bubbled into my head after having heard them fairly often.

 

 

“What do you eat?”
This one is kinda easy.

The first thing I’ll say about this is the way I eat hardly ever requires a recipe, or some structured plan. I don’t dislike recipes or structure at all. I know of several authors whose books are full of great ways to get started, and pages can not only help you create delectable table fare, but also create a plan. And I often refer anyone transitioning to seek them out and use them. But the “be careful of caloric density” caveat I often give gets left out in execution.

So, here’s how I’d like to answer the question:

I eat a diet of beans, whole grains (not bread. whole entire grains), greens, and fruit. I want my fruit and greens to be raw almost all the time. These real human foods are able to be mixed in infinite ways. Familiarize yourself with all the different types of beans, grains, greens, and fruit. Experiment. Find favorites. Watch people who eat this way on social media, you will see stuff you’ve either never heard of or never thought of trying. But you have to do it; it’s not a function of finding the right recipes.

I have smoothies that I mix with oats often as a breakfast, yes, but I also usually have a really hard, calorie-demanding run as an appetizer. I mention my appetizer because 1.) there’s no better way to spur appetite (not that most of us have that problem), and 2.) because at that moment I want my body to get calories in a way that is proportionate to my use of calories, and I want to fuel cellular recovery as efficiently as possible. If you don’t do anything as appetizer before you eat a delicious, whole fruit, no sugar added (by “sugar” I mean any sweetener added to make it taste “better” honey, agave, raw organic cane sugar, or crystalized angel tears), you really shouldn’t have one. Really. Eat a breakfast that you need to chew. Like a piece of fruit, or six.

At the grocery store, I mainly purchase from the produce section, and I go to the store often because the food I buy is very perishable. I know we are accustomed to “makin groceries” like once a week or so, but I prefer to go more often. Plus, I’m lazy and I only buy what I can grab with my hands & I’m out. (I know, I know, I don’t have children tastebuds to satisfy. Again, I point to those who have written cookbooks that I recommend namely “The Plant Power Way”.)

 

 

 

“Yeah, but what about the cravings? I’m a picky eater, I only like certain things.”

This statement is often posed in a way that says “now what? Answer me that!” As if it’s a thing you were born with, like progeria or something. Your cravings and food pickyness is just a thing you do. Stop it. That’s what to do. Stop eating things you have cravings for that make you sick, and cause you to seek answers from someone who has figured it out, to certain degree, for himself in the first place. Yet, what he did won’t work for you because you have cravings, and he doesn’t. Wrong! I have them, but I have turned their volume down in my head, on purpose, because I don’t want the proven outputs associated with them. I have truly educated myself, on purpose, about the difference between what we call “food” and what our evolved bodies know and desire as food. I do these things on purpose because I’m creating a better, more authentic version of myself—to borrow from my mentor, Rich Roll. My existence craves that.

Or, you can keep doing that and wonder why nothing works. So what if a juicy steak is something you “just can’t live without.” Stop lying to yourself. You not only can live without it, but you should significantly curb you intake (like to zero oz.s/day. lol). Most of us know that. Most of us, modern medical science included, know that saturated fat and cholesterol are bad for our cardiovascular system (hence the 610,000 meat-loving cardio patients’ deaths per year—and despite the lauding of Time Magazine covers). Yet we still “can’t live without it.” I submit that the opposite is true. I also submit that as long as you harbor that obstacle, and search for the answer outside of yourself, you will not get traction; you will constantly spin in place, wondering why you just can’t seem to get it together. I’ve lived there most of my life.

Educate yourself thoroughly on what food really is and not what you want it to be (Netflix: Forks Over Knives, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Food Matters, Hungry For Change. Books: The Plant Power Way, Whole, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Thrive, Finding Ultra, Eat & Run…). That’s how I overcame “the damn cravings!”

And, yes, get some professional help. You probably need it(I know a guy in Houma, holla). Get a positive group around you that supports your new approach. Don’t be afraid to call it, or deal with it as, an addiction.
“What about all the extra skin?”

First of all, on this question, who gives a shit? Really? You’re overweight. So much so that you are asking me about what will become of all the “extra skin” that you know you have to cover all your extra fat. You obviously don’t like being that way. Yet, like with the “cravings” thing, you need to understand what will happen to it before you get started. So you’re willing to stay overweight to look better in your mind? You stand before me, a person who has something you want, to ask a question that says, in a nutshell, “what I’m scared of the most is to look like I think you look without clothes.” I call bullshit! This is road block creation. If there are roadblocks you can’t proceed, and it’s now out of your hands. Now there’s a good reason to quit before you start. Congrats.

 

“What if I don’t like to run?”

What you don’t like is pain and working hard on your free time and breathing hard and feeling tired and sweaty, or pushing yourself for the sake of a better self; All crucial ingredients to your overcoming this problem. If you say you can’t run, walking vigorously with a perpetual commitment to increase the intensity as part of your activity structure will serve you well until you start running. Unless you are born with a condition, like progeria, that literally prevents you from running/walking, or you have somehow otherwise found yourself incapacitated in regard to standing and walking, you should run/walk. It’s free. It’s nature’s intended use for this organism’s most prominent physical attributes, and will ultimately bring you to your athletic, natural normal when coupled with the natural whole-plant way of eating that evolution has been honing for eons.

Stop laughing-off the fact that you’re being a pussy. Google Derek Mitchell‘s story, then tell me you “can’t,” pussy.
“I’ve been eating vegan for a while, but I have not lost any more weight?”

Caloric density is probably your issue.

I eat from the green bars on this chart almost exclusively. Very rarely do I mess with anything to right of the “legumes” bar. Note that refined complex carbs,”Ref CC,” is to the right of my last green bar. This means breads, pastas, processed cereal, etc. are out 99% of the time for me. I know you can find these things in a minimally processed form, however, the human tends to go overboard with well-it’s-better-than-X foods. I treat the “ok” versions with the same caution.

cal den

Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gTLpTq1nQk

 

 

“But do you hunt?”
I have hunted and fished my entire life. This question is usually posed as if it were a road block to a plant-based lifestyle. But I challenge you, hunter. I challenge you to consume your game in 1.) a quantity that seems naturally attainable to the human being without the use of tools (which is what makes the large consumable stock-piled-a-freezer quantities possible), 2.) consume it in its natural state; no sausage, tamales, burritos, or myriad other ways we eat our “wild game,” and 3.) keep your consumption to less than 10-20% of calories, not volume, calories. In other words, on a 1000 calorie plate, make the animal part 100 or less (using big numbers here for illustrative purposes).

 

We have a tendency to think we will pre-figure-out before we get started on things that are perceived as difficult in an effort to put off mustering the effort necessary to complete the thing. Homework comes to mind. I would be willfully confused a lot of the time, in retrospect, by my prescribed homework in an effort to prolong doing it. I would get my mom to explain it even after the teacher had already done so in a more specific, assignment-relevant way. Then I would still not “get it.” What was really happening was I was scared to start because it meant giving up something “fun.” However, with maturity, and a desire to thrive in a way that makes my entire being smile, I realized that the homework is the fun; it creates a better version of the Me that the universe magically manifested into existence. I’m only here for a minute. And I want that minute to be wide-ass-open-throttle-great! Come with us, as I am not alone; or hide, watch, and poke holes. Either way, imma do me. Peace.
One last thing: Sorry I called you a pussy. I still want to be friends.

[Tasting] Ultra

I was still about 340lbs when I finally started to “jiggle jog,” as you know if you’ve read my FREE JOSH LAJAUNIE post. Not long after, I decided to sign up for a race: the 2012 Crescent City Classic. I got my ass handed to me by that 6.2 miles (not unlike this weekend lol), but something clicked that day; I didn’t care about losing weight anymore, I wanted to be a runner.

Fast forward to 2014. I ran my first marathon in January, and was training for my second when a sweet, cute, friendly young lady from Thibodaux put together a Thibodaux Running Group on Facebook. I was so pumped! I had already met Jonathon (J) and we had already been running/training together, but this is where I met and became friends with Wally Naquin and Jean Aponte; the crazy-tough, relentlessly happy and uplifting, truly committed runners who talked me into signing up for this 50k. Honestly, it seemed ridiculous. But, my buddies were going (minus J) so I signed up.
I wound up running 4 marathons within the 12 months of my first. ROCK N ROLL NOLA ’15 was my most recent (03:34:14, -01:10:00 off my first). J and I really trained hard for that one. He smashed the damn thing almost breaking 03:30:00. What a day! But, as J knew, I had Destin on my mind through all my marathon training. I was worried about being marathon-ready and not ultra-ready. However Jean, (who had actually run the longest run of anyone I’d known personally up until that point, and since) was a perpetual source of encouragement. I respected what he had to say, and did my best to heed his words. And Wally is a robot, except for that huge, fleshy, selfless heart. They are both the epitome of how I envision an American soldier. They are beasts! And they were going to help me become an ultra-marathoner! Ready or not.

The day before the race, Wally and I ran the 5k with our families who were there to support us (and boy did they!). We learned of Ratchet 33, and how this “5k” was actually 3.33 miles in their honor. It was a special race, and it was our first taste of the Destin sand. I knew the next day was going to be quite an experience after running that race. Derick, my brother-n-law, was shooting for a 5k pr in the Destin sand (coonass-crazy!). Wild ass almost did it, too. He wasn’t the only one (wild coonass, that is), Wally’s wife got across the finish first out of all of us. She was flyin’! But after running in the destin sand for the first time, we all kinda shared a look that said “31 fuckin miles?!”.

Derick got him a nice patch of sand, and chilled on it. Wally and Nikki, his wife, found the beer (shocker!), and I was making a hyperlapse video of people finishing up in the insane scenery for the ‘gram (also, shocker!). My brother and his sweetheart were next in; Mom, Kassi, and my little nephew (inside Kass’s belly) all finished with solid times and efforts. And I’m pretty sure I shared a “31 fuckin miles?!” look post-race with almost everyone in our group that morning. We hung out for a little while after the race, but we had to get back to the condo to get cleaned up and fed. Wally, Jean, and I had to get to the pre-race meeting at 1:30pm. I can only speak for myself, but I was scared shitless. This was going to be tough.

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Yet, later in the day, while we were giggle-fartin’ over being in Destin, the wind and temps, and the anticipation of the “potentially chest-deep water crossings” we’d learned of at the 1:30pm pre-race meeting, the 24hrs/100mile guys were getting started! They started as the weather deteriorated Saturday afternoon. The winds had to be 20mph and cold! They started a one mile out-n-back route to log the prerequisite 50 miles before the 5am start of the 50 mile race, where they were to then take off with the people only running 50 miles. Then, the people only running 50k, were to kick off at 6am.

The weather report had been indicating that it would be in the high thirties and windy on race morning. And from what I was seeing Saturday afternoon, it was proving to be quite windy already. I was sufficiently worried (shitless I tell ya). The first thing I did when my eyes opened at around 2:50am Sunday morning was check the weather app on my phone. It was 60°. YES! However, the temp was forecast to drop to about 45° by 7am, but less wind than witnessed on Saturday afternoon, and plenty sunshine. The weather was going to be great for our run! I was pumped! I couldn’t go back to sleep so I got up and fidgeted around the condo making sure all my stuff was ready. Around 5am or so I headed to the beach to meet up with Jean n Wally. I was so nervous; these guys (Jean n Wally specifically) are tough, they’ve been through basic, they’ve used their bodies in ways I have never (I’ve seen the Nat Geo documentaries about how our service men and women train…)  I was worried about disappointing them and not keeping the pace.

3 smiles, but behind them, inside of those heads, echoed the words "chest-deep water crossing"
3 smiles, but behind them, inside those heads, echoed the words “chest-deep water crossing”

After the race started, the nerves settled and the beauty of the morning was all I could feel. We ran and talked and ran and sang and talked and laughed (and pee’d). We were high-fiving our leap-frogging, poster-toting, cheer-leading section at every checkpoint. My brother even managed to get a protesting Bam Bam to the beach “in all that damn wind!” to see me run by in mile 20 (a feat in itself). Everything was awesome! Until mile 24.

what a glorious thing
what a glorious thing

On the way back, the tide had come up a little, and we were being pushed against the dry sand by the waves. So I found myself often deciding between getting wet feet from an oncoming wave and exerting precious energy to jump the 18″ sand cliff to avoid it. This is where I began to get my feet wet and sandy for, really, the first time. I began to fall off the pace not long after that. I encouraged my buddies to keep truckin’. I’d just finish this up solo. That last leg found me crying, laughing, talking to myself in both anger and pride. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Then, with about two miles to go I see what I thought was a mirage. Was that Wally running back toward me!?! When he got closer I knew without a doubt it was, in fact, Wally coming back for his buddy. I started to cry. He got to me and said “I’m not gonna push you, I just want be with you.” I had about 1.5 miles to go. Then, with about a mile left, my brother and his girlfriend showed up to help run me in. The love was overwhelming. They got me running again, and I was able to run on in. An hour behind my buddies, but an ultra-marathoner nonetheless.  destin9destin11destin7

Not only was this experience profound for me as part of my weight-loss and running story, but as an American. I’m a boy who grew up in the shadow of his Bam Bam. My Bam Bam is my grandfather. He served in the Korean War on the USS Lofberg 759. I love him like no other. He was at mile 20 as well as the finish line Sunday. Having him there, Wally and Jean running with me, and the whole event raising tens of thousands of dollars (over &50,000.00 was the last figure I’ve seen) for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, made me feel like more of an American than I ever have in my life. I’m proud of the men and women who make the dream of “the land of the free and the home of the brave” the truth.

I will never forget Ratchet 33, and I will never forget my first ultra.

Thank you, Destin. Thank you, America.

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