From zero to super sprint

Hi, I’m Matthew. And I use to run a blog before we “pandemic’d.”

Now that we’ve addressed my awkward absence of the last 16 months, I’m doing my best to get back to what life was like before a bat closed movie theaters and indoor dining around the world (am I making a light hearted joke about a global crisis? Yes – it’s called coping… and thats for another post when I’m ready).

Things are slowly opening up again which mean, triathlons are actually happening – that’s right LIVE and IN-PERSON sporting events (insert mind-blown emoji – tears of joy emoji or pizza emjoi – just because people love pizza).

So the opportunity presented itself recently to return to racing and to get a taste of what life use to be like (and after exploring the COVID protocols, limited participant entry and social distancing efforts) and I made the decision to go for it…

And as you’ll find out (if you have the patience to listen to me talk to myself for 13 minutes) I had less than 3 weeks to train…

From Zero to Super Sprint – How I returned to racing…

The whole vlogging thing is new to me – but makes talking to yourself feel less neurotic when you have a camera. Eager to hear your feedback!

Thanks for tuning in!

My latest Top Picks…

I’m sure everyone is spending more time shopping for things online these days – especially now that going outside just isn’t an option. We share our favorite places to eat, places we recommend visiting with friends and family – so why not share what we’re buying/using right now?

I’m currently obsessed with Perfect Bar protein bars… They are only refrigerated protein bars that I’m aware of and they are delicious! I love having one after a long run or as a late night snack before bed.

The dark chocolate chip peanut butter are my favorite so I have been sticking to that flavor. Maybe one day I’ll venture out an try another flavor – but I could happily stick to the CCPB flavor for the rest of my life on this planet with no complaints…

Check these out on Amazon!

Without the ability to overpay for coffee right now, I’ve perfected my at home barista skills. I drop 1-2 shots from my Nespresso machine into 1/2 a bottle of these chocolate protein shakes and I instantly have an iced coffee to start the day (and to be honest I go back for the other 1/2 of the bottle and add another shot (or 2) later in the day too!

I love these protein shakes, especially after a long endurance workout. But like I mentioned above, pour it over some ice an mix in a few shots of espresso and you’re in business for the day!

Check these out on Amazon!

With the current “Shelter in Place” going into week-three here in California, I’ve been adding to my home-gym with this awesome set of resistance bands.

Whether you have a home gym or go to a local studio, you can 100% benefit from having your own set of resistance bands to sneak in workouts at home – or easily pack them when you’re out on the road!

Find this on Amazon!

And with having to do most of my cycling indoors on the bike trainer, I’ve been keeping the rest of the garage clean by keeping a cover on my bikes gears and tires. This awesome find has been a life saver to keep the garage and my SUV clean when moving and stowing my bike(s)!

I throw my bike(s) in the back of my SUV all the time, and this awesome find keeps the gears covered from getting snagged on my seats and also covers both tires from tracking in dirt/debris. And it’s quick and easy to throw on! There are more expensive options out there, but at $20, this was a killer find!

Find this on Amazon!

Let me know what you’re using right now as we are all find new ways to stay busy, fit and sane in this COVID-19 world!

CHeck out all of my current “top picks” on my Top Picks Page!

Thanks!

The Miles Add Up…

You can debate the pros and cons of having a digital footprint – but for millions of millennials (like myself) we great up in the age of posting, tagging and sharing. And I’m immune to post-shaming… I love the comments and interactions I get from friends and family on what I post (and if you think I post a lot, be grateful you’re not in any of my group chats)!

Believe it or not, I only share a small amount of the pictures  I take. And I take a lot of pictures… A. Lot. Of. Pictures. Everyone who knows me knows that this is something I’m really passionate about. I’m not someone who binge watches show on Netflix or Hulu (or Disney+, Amazon Prime, etc…) but I will spend a lot of time watching old videos I recorded and looking back at pictures of people I’ve spent time with, places I’ve been or things I’ve done – and a very unhealthy amount of pictures of meals I’ve enjoyed.

The additional time on my hands (thank you, Shelter in Place?) has given me the chance to organize some of my media specific to 2019 and merge it together in one video.

2019 was my “Year of Triathlon” as I chased one of my bucket list goals of becoming an IRONMAN triathlete (which I did, DM for my address to send me congratulatory gifts – JK… just send snacks).

Training for two 70.3 miles races and one 140.6 mile race meant that I covered a lot of ground (+water and road) training. And those miles added up – as did the post workout posts I’ve been flooding your newsfeeds with (in addition to what I ate for dinner).

If you’ve got 3 minutes to spare – feel free to follow my digital footprint of my workouts and training from November 2018 when I signed up for IRONMAN Arizona to the week of the big race (SPOILER ALERT – my race specific photos and videos are in another post).

I can’t remember where my car keys are or where I left my cell phone charger – but looking back at this video, I can vividly remember each and every moment.

While I’m grateful for each and every opportunity I had to train (and be outside – damn you, COVID) I am especially thankful for the workouts that sucked… the times I feel short of my training goals and when I just wasn’t feeling it. Because looking back I can say it was worth it and I’m glad that I put in the blood, sweat and tears (yes, there were plenty of tears – I still have PTSD when anyone says “headwind” or “B-Line”).

And I’m grateful to everyone who shared this journey with me…

My parents who constantly reminded me to be safe, my friends who motivated and encouraged me (and sent hilarious texts during long training sessions).

I’m grateful to the trainers & coaches who I grew and learned from – and my fitness community who never missed an opportunity to ask how my training was going.

I’m grateful to the IRONMEN who came before me and gave their constant wisdom, encouragement and support (especially Steven in Australia).

And I have the most appreciation for my husband who found ways to entertain himself for hours and hours between seeing me on race courses and survived the endless 5:00am wake-up calls and the “I can’t I have to train” excuses for the last 16 months.

I’m grateful for this footprint and this experience and can’t wait to see where the miles take me next.

“I am, Giant”

There is so much I want to say about my IRONMAN experience…

Completing the 140.6 mile triathlon has been a goal of mine for years. And with seven 70.3 mile triathlons (the distance before the 140.6) under my belt, I finally felt ready and prepared to make the jump to the “full” Ironman triathlon in 2019.

At mile 132.6 in the race the sun began to set and I slowed my “casual” pace down to walk to take the entire experience in. It was then, when a particular quote and song from my training profoundly hit me – and that reflection is what I wanted to share in this post…

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Photo Credit: Sarah Lau-Braunhut (Ironman Arizona 2020 & IMAZ Alumn: Facebook Group)

At the Mile 18 marker of the 26.2 mile run, I looked up to the beautiful, watercolored Arizonan sky and it hit me – that it wasn’t just the day that was coming to a close – but also my journey to becoming an IRONMAN (more IRONMAN specifics in a later post to come).

Like all things in life – there is a start and a finish. But for me, this finish was an actual “finish line” and the difference between the start and the finish was 52 week of physical training, mental toughness and self care/preparation.

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Photo Credit: Julia Reich (Ironman Arizona 2020 and IMAZ Alumn: Facebook Group)

I’ve done a ton of endurance races in my life (as most people do in their late 20’s – early 30’s) and I’m generally the person who picks up speed to sprint to the finish. But not today. Not this race. And not this goal. This moment was when a quote and song from my training spoke to me and appeared clear as day, almost as vivid as if the words were etched along the concrete trail in front of me.


Background on the quote…

One of my favorite quotes I had obsessed about during this year of training was –

“It’s Not the Result That’s Important, It’s Who You Become in The Process of Achieving the Result.” – John Canfield

And at mile 16 (or mile 132.6 of 140.6 miles) it hit me that I was definitely going to cross that finish line and I was definitely a different person than I was 52 weeks ago when I committed to this goal.


Background on the song…

Music fueled a great deal of my training, and my “go-to” song was “Giant” by Calvin Harris & Rag N’Bone Man. Here is a cliff notes version of the lyrics –

“I would be nothing
Without you holding me up
Now I’m strong enough for both of us
Both of us, both of us, both of us
I am a giant (ooh)
Stand up on my shoulders, tell me what you see
‘Cause I am a giant (ooh)
We’ll be breaking boulders, underneath our feet
I am, I am, I am, I am, I am, I am a giant (oh)
Don’t hide your emotions
You can throw down your guard
And feed from the notion
We can be who we are
You taught me something, yeah
Freedom is ours
It was you who taught me living is
Togetherness, togetherness, togetherness”
– “Giant” – Calvin Harris & Rag N’Bone Man
When times got tough during training – like mile 56 of a 112 mile bike ride, 2,100 yards of a 4,2000 yard swim or mile 13.1 of a 26.2 mile run knowing I was only doing HALF of what was going to be expected of me on race day, I spoke to myself and asked my “Giant” for help.
Who was this Giant? Well, he was the voice inside my head who reminded me that I was stronger, tougher and worth working hard for. Basketball players may channel Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan or Lebron James – but in the triathlete world, that “Giant” to me was Craig Alexander (2011 IRONMAN 70.3 & 140.6 World Champion), Lionel Sanders (multiple IRONMAN 140.6 & 70.3 Champion) or Tim O’Donnell (2019 IRONMAN World Championship Runner-Up) – all icons and legends in the triathlon world who not only stood out as IRONMAN Champions – but were legends at the largest IRONMAN stage in Kona, Hawaii.
During training I would watch Youtube video of their key races, their training routines and pre/post race interviews. Their dedication to their craft and laser focus in swimming, cycling and running made me want to be a stronger athlete.

Now back to the story…
 So as I looked into the sunset and could visually make out the 8 miles ahead of me leading to the finish line, I started to think about how far I had come and how this big, epic, scary, audacious and bucket-list goal of mine was minutes (okay, hour’ish) away from being one of those “breaking boulders (underneath OUR feet).” 
I say “our” because I started my training with my “Giants” being my sport specific idols. But my internal thoughts and voice slowly developed into its own person – the “Giant” within me. I was creating and fueling my own driver and motivator.
As my personal fitness and mental toughness improved this year, I didn’t always have to look to my idols content to motivate or push me – I found that push in myself to be better and to naturally want and expect more from myself (don’t get me wrong – watching any of Lionel Sanders workouts will always humble me and leave me in awe). I was becoming my own giant and my own motivating voice inside my head (Did I just admit to talking to my own self in third-person? Yup, A little crazy? Probably. All aboard the crazy train.. Choo Choo).
In my 6th 70.3 race, the first race of the 2019 season – I crushed my Swim, Bike and Run personal records in Santa Cruz – becoming my own giant and identifying that not only was I out performing my previous efforts – but I still had gas in the tank to push harder – and to give it that little extra effort that I didn’t know existed months prior.
Just one month before IRONMAN Arizona at Tempe 70.3, I took my PR time from Santa Cruz and CRUSHED it by 9 minutes – with my BEST bike time (on what is known as a pretty sh*tty bike course). I can vividly recall the conversation in my head during lap 2 of the 3 lap bike course. I had improved my time from lap 1 by minute and could ultimately pull my fastest bike split EVER if I could shave 3 more minutes on lap three – and then I did. That right there is Giant AF, my friends.

And even more important than race timing and personal records, I became my biggest cheerleader and my biggest driving force to step up my own game. The outside voice of “You can do it” turned into the confidence to know and own the statement, “I can do it.”  

And there are too many additional voices and faces to name that kept motivating inspiring and holding me accountable to my IRONMAN dream – for them, I will forever be grateful. There wasn’t a single conversation, text or social media message that didn’t positively impact me and leave a lasting impression on me and this amazing experience.

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There were many setbacks, injuries, low-points and moments that derailed my training and straight path to this finish line – but the person I became this year made my drive (and Giant mentality) bigger and stronger than the problems and setbacks I faced.
The lyrics of Giant also said “Stand up on my shoulders, tell me what you see.” That view started as a medal, a finish line and even visualizing the social media “I did it” post minutes after completing the race. But as the race got closer, and my personal Giant got bigger, the view was a better and stronger me. Not just athletically – but mentally stronger, emotionally in-touch with the overall experience and (SO) appreciative of every milestone and step it took to get there – and again, grateful for the support system I had cheering me on to accomplish this goal.
These thoughts, memories, quotes and song lyrics got me from mile 132.6 to mile 140.6 in what felt like the blink of an eye – and with the biggest smile on my face when I got there.
Could this just be the rambling of a 35 year old who worked way to hard this weekend and still needs to rest and recovery? Possibly (add dehydrated and sore to the list).
But that home stretch to the finish line is one I don’t ever want to forget…
Or the months of work it took to get there…
Accomplishing something new,
Becoming something more
And finding your own Giant inside yourself

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Don’t forget to come up for air…

This year has been challenging. Work has been challenging. Projects with the home renovation have been challenging. And committing and training for a triathlon has been challenging.

Disclaimer: This isn’t intended to be a dark post –  if you can make it till the end, you’ll see the marshmallows in this bowl of Lucky Charms. 

I could elaborate – but the point is, life will always present challenges. Life will throw you curve balls, disappointments and derail you. But staying focused on the end goal, the overall benefit or the “finish line” helps to keep you going. And to be honest, that isn’t always going to be enough. You’ve got to develop a new level of perseverance and for me, if I’ve had to do any training this year its been on developed my mental toughness.

One of the most common questions I get when people hear that I’ve been training for a race (which some might consider cruel and unusual punishment) for almost a year is “Why?” And frankly, my “why” keeps changing. Some days it’s because I started this whole ordeal because it was a bucket list goal. Then it became a science project to see what my body was capable of. And some days it was because I’ve gotten this far so why stop now… But ten months into this process my answer today would be “to see what else I can learn in the process.”

In this process, I’m learning that mental toughness is a muscle that needs to be exercised, fueled, flexed and also given time to recover.

When the alarm goes off at 5:30am to workout from 6:00am-7:00am, 49% of me says “GO BACK TO SLEEP…” But the 51% says “You’re working towards something bigger.” And some days, its 75-100% “Lets do this” and 25-0% “You’re warm and comfortable – you’d be crazy to jump in a swimming pool… it’s ####### January!” But I’ve had to train myself to see the cost and the benefit and put my faith in the latter.

This same practice comes to play when you’re on a bike for what seems like forever, your butt hurts and your legs are cramping… You have to rely on that toughness to tell you to keep your cadence up, switch to a lower gear and that “little old” hill climb will be over soon.

…and when the hill is greater than your push that day – you walk your bike up the hill next to speeding cars honking at you… and you use the time to hydrate, eat whatever nutrition you packed for the ride and tell yourself every honk is someone who thinks you look damn good in bike shorts.

It’s not the outcome you wanted like powering over a tough climb, but you didn’t stop and made the best use of your time and effort – and that’s still a win.

That mental toughness is telling the voices in your head (and in the outside world) that your smarter, stronger and bigger than the obstacle in your way. Sure, you’ll get knocked down and failure is always a possibility. But toughness means getting back up and continuing to move forward and learning along the way.

There are a million Instagram posts, quotes and stories that reinforce this – but not enough dots to connect you from where you are to where you want to be.

For me, I connect those dots by fueling my mental toughness – and I do that in a lot of different ways.

I try to celebrate the milestones and forward momentum no matter how big or small they might be. I post almost all of my workouts on my Instagram Story (because posts on FB or an actual IG Post would be way more annoying than my posts already are). I do this, because on long rides on my indoor bike trainer, I love watching my IG Story highlights and seeing my times, distances and training that got me to where I am today. I am far from where I’d like to be, but I can 100% celebrate how far I’ve come. Using IG Stories has helped me do that and after 10 months of training, I can smile and laugh at the posts – which burn about 12 minutes (and growing) of time on the bike! (@MattthewCGoto on Instagram)

Selfishly, everyone likes attention – I’m not going to say I don’t like compliments or praise received on social media. But the reason I like the comments (and don’t act like you don’t) is because I’m my hardest critic. I’m the first person to compare the watts from todays workout to yesterdays. I can tell you if I’m getting faster or slower in each discipline down to the second, yard and mile. And I have a laundry list of thing I know I can do better or be better at… But I’m not as quick to give myself a pat on the back or praise – which is worth its weight in gold when someone who you care about, respect and trust leaves you the comment “I’m proud of you” or “You’re killing it.”

Narcissistic? Maybe. Reinforcing Mental Toughness? Absolutely.

Another way to build your mental toughness is by finding a community of support who can hold you accountable and cheer you on. I train mostly by myself because of my travel schedule, but I consider myself to be unbelievably lucky to have a local gym/studio with caring, passionate and supportive people who always ask me how my training is going. Not just to be polite, but because they genuinely care and are cheering me on through this journey. I can’t count the number of times I left a hard workout feeling physically depleted – but fueled spiritually and mentally because of the advice, support and energy my community shares with me.

And I have some amazing friends and mentors who send me random and unexpected messages of encouragement – who I can never truly thank enough for their support. And my Plus+ for life has been more understanding and supportive than I deserve – especially with the 5:00am wake-up calls and the fact that I’m always wearing running shorts in public. #WhoWearsShortShorts #ItsMe

And I also fuel my mental toughness by leaving myself positive affirmations. For me, this comes in the form of post-its (so many post-its) to remind myself how many days I have till my next race – or to be confident with new projects at work or during tough decision making. Sometimes it’s setting a playlist with music that puts me in the best state of mind to crush a workout, relax or sometimes hits so hard I’m ready to go to war. And sometimes it’s as simple as a bag of gummi bears (Haribo – everyone else to the back of the line) waiting for me in my stinky gym bag as a post workout treat. #TreatYoSelf #GummiBears #HashtagsAreStupid

But what I have found to be the one of the best ways to reset, put me in the right mentality to take on challenges and to fill the mental toughness tank in my brain is to take a step back and come up for air… (and unlike everything else in triathlon, air is free)! The “time out” to breathe helps put things into perspective, slows down your heart rate and allows you to re-evaluate the situation.

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I like filming my swim workouts for corrections – especially in interval training (which I’m terrible at – Example 5,001 of being a tough critic). But this screenshot mid-300 yard repeats was inspired by one of my favorite triathletes, Cody Beals. He has a blog that I follow and I have found a lot of inspiration and motivation through his story, experiences and the fact that he’s a bad ass triathlete that just won IRONMAN Mont Tremblant with a sub-8 hour finish… His photos are way cooler too: http://www.codybeals.com =)

If you get anything from my 2,000 words of rambling, I hope you can take these traits to build your own mental toughness – or at least gain some understand as to why other people do the things they do..

  • Celebrate Milestones
  • Be Open and Appreciate Praise
  • Find a Community of Support
  • Positive Affirmations
  • Come up for Air

And if you are one of the lucky ones who have these tools, please help provide these for others. Give the compliment, ask what you can do to help someone else breathe easier and take the 2 seconds to give someone praise – you never how how impactful that can be. Sure, I’m talking about triathlons which most people will never try – but these principles speak to challenges in general – and we can all agree that we appreciate all the help we can get when life gets challenging.

So when things get challenging – like this mornings swim workout that I felt would never end, my neck mobility was non-existent and my coffee wasn’t kind to my stomach  – I came up for air (literally – I soooo need to write Dad Jokes). I looked at my mental toughness checklist and appreciated the fact that I’m healthy, spending time on my personal growth and development, and have so much to be grateful for. Then I put my goggles back on my face (and awkwardly smiled at the old dude splitting my lane – he didn’t share my joy… but I’ll win him over eventually) and started playing one of my favorite songs in my head, and got back to swimming with the rhythm of the song in my head keeping my pace – and pushing through the neck cramps by switching lanes and being grateful for clean restrooms conveniently located to near the lap pool.

Once I finished the workout, I took a 6:48am selfie with goggle lines on my face and smiled – not just because the workout was done – but because I dipped into my mental toughness to go head to head with this mornings challenge… and I came out ahead.

I am still learning – every single day I’m learning. And in being open to learning I hope that I am growing in this process.

That you for reading – I hope you were able to cash in on the metaphorical Lucky Charm Marshmallows of positivity I hoped to share in this post.

I’m excited to share more of my triathlon journey with you and all that I’m learning in the process. If you have any training tips, advice or even general feedback – please send it my way – like I said, I’m always learning and would love to learn from your experiences too!

 

Just Keep Swimming…

The one thing that always draws me in when it comes to Southern California is the Ocean…. Yeah, Disney is great and all but there is nothing as refreshing and more connected to Mother Nature than the fresh ocean water.

I’m finding my way in Northern California and I’m starting to find my go to swim spots. But if I get the chance to get my feet wet in Southern California, I take it (but if you’ve got any recommendations for open water swimming or canoe friendly bodies of water around the bay area – I’ll gladly take the rec).

Leaving the Midwest after college and moving back to the West Coast (literally the Coast) planted me in Huntington Beach, CA from 2010-2016. I loved the city, the people, the culture and most importantly the beach.

Being a (terribly slow) triathlete I loved being able to walk down the street and enjoy an open water swim. Sure, there were occasional shark sightings and open water swimming has its fair share of risks – but a morning swim is better than coffee and wakes up all of your senses (and especially when the water temps drop).

So this past week while in Orange County for work, I had the opportunity to join other ocean-centric folks who make swimming around the Newport Beach Pier a weekly occurrence – one of my favorite SoCal activities (when I could wake up early enough to make the 7:45am start)! I definitely get the commuter award, being the only person to make the swim a few times a year from San Jose – and lucky for me, this Wednesday started with the Pier Club!

Side note – if you couldn’t tell, I bring my GoPro with me pretty much everywhere I go. And swimming around the Newport Pier is no exception.

And on a recent update, the GoPro App added the ability to create “Quik Stories” from your recent pictures and videos. I’m a huge fan of this feature because it does the editing and compiling for video for you. It takes the trouble of having to “edit” and takes the drivers seat in terms of creativity. It seriously reduces the posting and time consuming process of sharing – huge time saving for “working professionals” (adult slag for someone who doesn’t have as much fun as they use too or spends more time at Sams Club than the actual Club).

But back to the point – a few minutes splashing around the Pier (and quickly recognizing that I’m not as in shape as I use to be and not remembering the pier being this long) is all I needed to feel reconnected to the ocean. And I’m glad I was able to capture a few moments on my GoPro.

Here are some cool clips I pulled from my Quick Story from Pier Club!

I’m generally pretty easy going when it comes to posting and sharing my pictures, but these clips really stood out to me – and obviously I liked them enough to share them here.

This was a reoccurring view on every pier swim. The blinding sun was a glowing reminder that it was a brand new day, and I loved how optimistic and energized I felt when I saw this site coming out of the water – an awesome feeling I love reliving through this picture.

And like a true millennial, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a selfie. I can’t wait for the day when we all get old and have to explain all of our grandkids that we really did have friends in 2018 – we just obsessed about taking picture of ourselves. I wonder how the conversations will go, “Daddy, why did grandpa take so many pictures with the Puppy SnapChat filters?!?” Luckily for me I take pictures of beaches and my food like other well balanced (and slightly basic) millennials (and for the record – if you don’t like the puppy snapchat filter, it’s not the filter… it’s you).

And back again to the actual point of this post – I’m glad that even though I’m 375 miles from Newport Beach Pier, life constantly changes around us, and we all get older and more boring by the day – I’m glad I can still find the time to just keep swimming and enjoy SoCals greatest gift to the world.

And shoutout to the Newport Beach Pier Club (Photo Cred: @PierClub) an awesomely random group of guys (and a female on every third full moon on even dated Wednesdays) who welcome anyone craziness enough to join them every Wednesday. The post swim coffee and donuts aren’t too bad either!

Check out my QuikStory on Vimeo:

Pier Club (Newport Beach)

Angels Landing, Zion National Park: Day 4

Day 4 of our Road Trip kicked off our first day in Zion National Park!

We were very lucky to know someone whose family had a BEAUTIFUL vacation home in St. George, Utah who offered us a place to stay for a our visit in Utah – an invitation we graciously accepted and continue to be grateful for!

I strategically planned this day to be the most strenuous – so our adventures built up to this day – and we could spend the next two days on mild and pretty flat hikes to recover.

On this day, we planned to conquer Angels Landing – known as the most difficult but most stunning hike in all of Zion National Park.

Driving into Zion for the first time, I was so impressed with the beautiful mountain views that welcome you into Springdale, Utah. On our next trip to Zion, I think we might stay in Springdale so we can walk to the local restaurants and socialize with the other adventure seekers visiting Zion. This town was built to cater to the adventures and biking/hiking/climbing culture! And as typical tourists, we bought bumper stickers and visited the various rock vendors – FYI most of the rocks aren’t even from Zion #SpoilerAlert.

Similar to Yosemite, we paid the park entry fee (which was $30, like Yosemite for the week) and it was well worth the small price for the beautifully defined trails, maintained restrooms, visitors center (with a huge gift shop) and access to the shuttle buses… If you’re like me, the sound of “shuttle buses” sounded more like DisneyWorlds Magical Express and less like an outdoor adventure. But when you spend the bulk of your days hiking out in the sun – the buses are a luxury you quickly come to appreciate. And speaking of the buses, there are a series of narrations playing on the buses – which were pretty informative and shared a lot of information about the parks name and history that I am glad I learned – but probably would have never googled on my own.

Make sure you stop by the Zion Visitors Center before you board the shuttle buses and get a free park map! Our map was clutch for navigating the nine different stops and mapping out each trails distance and time commitments.

Angels Landing was everything I expected it to be and more… I totally over-packed for the hike, but I was comfortable and more than prepared – which I will take any-day over being under-prepared.

I had a 3L hydration pack for water, first aid kit, sun screen, warm-jacket for the morning (which was helpful – but I could have toughed out the first hour of the morning without it and free’ed up space in my bag for the rest of the afternoon), lunch, snacks, cell phone, GoPro, backup batteries and a solar light that I NEEDED to have in case I got stranded on a mountain overnight (not sure how my thought process got here – but glad I was prepared for a blackout on the mountain).

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The switch backs and incline (almost the entire way up) were tough. But taking time to catch my breathe and gave me plenty of time to take in the amazing views – there isn’t a bad view anywhere on this trail!

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Even though the there are clean bathrooms, shuttle buses and great amenities in the park – you totally feel disconnected from the “real world” and connected with nature the second you start the climb.

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We picked the perfect time of year to make the trip to Zion. Late Septembers allowed for a bright blue and clear sky, cool mornings and highs in the 70-80’s – I don’t think the strenuous climb to the top of Angels Landing paired with 90+ degree weather would have made for a pleasant experience.

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I spent a great deal of time contemplating my move to Springdale, Utah and wondering if I could live the rest of my life as a park guide. Highly unlikely, but this was one of those days so enjoyable you’d consider making huge life changes just to be able to reconnect with nature more.

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My 3 liter hydration pack was more than enough water for me  – I’d say you need to know yourself and your water consumption. I went with three friends and we all had different hydration needs.

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This was one of my favorite views from Angels Landing, simply because from the base of the canyon the lower formation seemed so tall – but from Angels Landing that small formation didn’t stack up to even half the height of where we stood. Gave us all a great deal of accomplishment being able to understand how far we really went that day!

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This was by far the best hike I have ever experienced… The views were stunning, the weather couldn’t have been better and sharing it with close friends was icing on the cake!

We saw young kids in crocs and Spiderman pajamas all the way to Grandmas hand in hand with their Grandchildren making the climb to the top. As long as you have the stomach for the height (the narrow trail to the top isn’t for those afraid of heights). I think this is a trail almost anyone in good health can accomplish. I’m putting this hike on my “things to do again” list and hope to share it with more family and friends on the next go around!

This hike was the perfect mid-point for our Road Trip and National Park Adventure. We built up to the hike after starting in Yosemite and had a good cool day in Death Valley. I left Zion that day looking forward to crossing more trails off the list in the next two days – and couldn’t wait to kick my legs up and relax after a great day of hiking!

Stay tuned for the more of our Road Trip Adventures and check out some extra footage I captured on my GoPro on my Vimeo Channel :

Wake up and Work Out!

I’ve got 48 hours left in San Diego for work and I couldn’t be down here and not take advantage of the beautiful coastline and the scenic views! So this morning I set my alarm for 5:55am and was out the door and headed to Blacks Beach by 6:00am!

This short and sweet hike feels secluded and tucked away from the busy world just up the hill from the trail.

Got in a great little hike (always easier going down than back up) and a refreshing swim to stretch my muscles and warmup my body before I start another 12 hour day at work!

Check out some clips of this mornings adventure on my Vimeo Channel-

Blacks Beach Hike & Swim

Make time to Adventure!

I’m currently on a 24 day work trip with most days lasting 12-15 hours long…. but I still make time for “ME” to get some fresh air, clear my mind and take advantage of the cool places that I have the opportunity to visit while traveling!

This morning started at 5:00am and I was wide-awake and at the base of Camelback Mountain in Paradise Valley, AZ ready for a new adventure. I love hiking this mountain – I’ve done the Echo Canyon trail dozens of times. But apparently Saturday morning is THE time to hike so I couldn’t get into the Echo Canyon lot and was forced to explore a new trail on the other side of the mountain (aka the Camels Butt – it’s not called that but it makes it easy to find the trail).

The Cholla Trailhead is right off of East Cholla Road in a beautiful neighborhood – but you can’t actually park in the neighborhood (there are signs everywhere and a park ranger who will you direct you out of the neighborhood. My suggestion if you are considering doing the hike is to park off of North Invergordon Road – just north of the Phoenician Resort. There is limited street parking, but if you are able to snag one of those spots you are only a 3rd of a mile from the trail! The Echo Canyon trail has its own parking lot, rest room and water fountain – Cholla, not so much. Make sure you have plenty of water and use the bathroom before you hit the trail – because there aren’t any services on this trail. AND Cholla has ZERO protection from the sun. Echo faces east so you are able to take advantage of some of the mountains natural shade and Cholla doesn’t have any shade or overhead covering.

After doing both trails, I’m still an Echo Fan… But I think Cholla was fun to give me a new perspective and see new parts of Camelback Mountain (and the Camels butt).

So I had a fun 3 mile hike as the sun rose over the valley of the sun! Check out a quick video I made from the adventure!

Shout out to:
GoPro – I never Adventure without it!
Nike+Run Club App – I love the shoutouts during my workouts!
Strava – because if you didn’t post the workout, it didn’t happen!

CamelBack Mountain – Cholla Trail

The View from the top is great – but you’re gonna have to climb to get there!

Well in an attempt to keep exploring and adventuring in my new home – I tried something different tonight! While furniture shopping and running to different stores to get the correct pieces for the backyard patio set, I found a rock climbing gym (you can’t miss it – it’s huge)! And I told myself “I’m going to go one day and check it out…,” And believe it or not – I finished work around 6:00pm tonight and headed over to Planet Granite!

Www.PlanetGranite.com has four locations, tonight I hit up their Sunnyvale location!

So I have to amend my initial reaction of “Holy crap that’s a huge rock climbing gym….” to now say “Holy crap that’s a huge Climbing, Bouldering, Slacklining, Crossfit, Yoga, Spin and Fitness Center.” I had no idea this place had so much going on in a huge clean and friendly environment!

I parked, walked in and immediately told the staff at the front desk “I have never been here before and have no idea how this works…” They appreciated my honestly and directed me to fill out their digital waiver on an iPad then let me know what they offer and what to expect! It was “Singles and Swingers” night – but unfortunately I wasn’t “belay certified” so I would make a pretty crappy partner. Luckily for me they could fit me into their 8:00pm class so I had an hour to “boulder” and explore my way around the facility.

The climbing belt and shoes where included in the rental and then I had to watch a short video on climbing (and falling) ediquete – actually pretty informative as no one likes to look like a newbie with rockstar climbers going full spider-man up and down every man made rock in the building.

There were probably 300 people there tonight all following the unspoken laws of climbing etiquette. I thought it was really cool how people don’t really communicate, but if someone makes a good move on the wall or has a killer save the crowd will roar and voice their support – the gasp of someone losing their footing or missing a hand placement is a pretty big attention getter as well!

So when I started to climb I tried counting the different climbing options – but 30 minutes I switched to counting aching muscles! This is a workout what takes no prisoners . So many courses and so many sore muscles in the making… lol

This is one of the (many) bouldering sections which I tried out! The courses are all color coded and labels based on difficulty and incline – this is a rock climbers Paradise and for a new comber the crowd was super chill and hospitable to the clueless climbers (like me)

And just when you think you see it all, there are more walls around the corner and even more through a small cave – but watch overhead for swinging climbers who may come your way (gravity wins every time – according to the intro video).

I enjoyed the hour long belay class and instruction. My instructor was detailed, thorough and had a personality which makes learning more fun. I use to climb back in my Huntington Beach years so it was a lot of review, but I appreciated the refresher especially knowing that there are drop in climbing options and I would potentially climb with strangers with my safety in their hands. While learning the basics does take time – I appreciate knowing they have a detailed training program and have high standards to climb in their facility.


I had a great time – could have used a climbing buddy – but doesn’t change that I found a new place for adventuring and look forward to coming back!

Thank you to the staff at Planet Granite and the strangers who helped me learn the “ropes” of the bouldering walls! If you are in the Bay Area I strongly suggest giving this place a try! I’m going to get a day pass on my next visit so I can brush off my slack lining skills from college and then build my climbing skills – from the ground up!