Questions & Answers: Why The Spartan/Tough Mudder Competitions?

It was a perfect question at a perfect time.  Back in 2015, I put my mind, body and spirit to the test.  In one of the most difficult races of my life, I saw everything flash before my eyes: ewwwww! Black man! Negro! Pimp! Black people are disgusting! — yes, these are the comments that Thai women spewed upon me.  Not only that, in 2015, I worked for a company where a dutchman, who is known as a pedaphile here in Thailand, got more praise at a job (how does he have a job being a pedaphile in Thailand is beyond me) than me.  2015 was also the last stint of holding myself to being a victim.  It was difficult.

So, like many people, I joined this competition to hopefully get over that mental hurdle.  Did it help? Not only did it help, but it opened something within my mind that pressured me to better myself.

If it wasn’t for these redunculous competitions where I put myself through so much agony, I wouldn’t be where I am today, right? Something inside me needed to be turned around.  My paradigm needed to change or else it would’ve driven me to pure insanity.

Back in 2016, I still remember working at a job in the heart of Bangkok and they said, “sorry, you can’t teach TOEIC (a test for non-native English speakers) because you’re black and the students don’t like you).  I quit that job in a heartbeat and continued searching.

This is why I do these competitions because now I’ve re-created a reality that none of that trash from 2-5 years ago exists.  Sure, I get the occasional racist looks, but hardly ever.  I stayed away from racist Thai news websites that demonized black people….and now all of that has seemingly vanished.  Let’s get into this in my podcast down below!

Podcast

Ramble of Positivity: 5th Anniversary In Thailand

It’s been an unbelievable 5 years.  Wow, how can I even put it into context. I will try highlighting this through pictures.

First Three Years

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You understand where my focus was, right? 2013-2015 were the rough years with lots of racial influences, advertisements, and me focusing on “what I didn’t want.” I had a woman from Thai Airways threaten my life, stating that she would get dangerous people to kick my face in.  I got the “ewww black man! Low-class! Pimp!” comments from lots of women.  I was denied jobs for being black.  My language center (New Education World if you must know the name) denied me dozens of jobs stating, “ohhh, they want a white teacher.”  All of these culminated for three years (and even well into this year after cutting off the unknowledgeable job)…..until the beginning of 2016.

Then this happened…..

Last Two Years

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And just like that, within two years time, I was able to overcome all of the ignorance — ignorance that I saturated myself in.  Let’s look back at the years that transformed me into the influential figure I am.  It’s time for the ramble!

My first photo, which was taken at a night safari deep in some forest in Bali, is possibly the best trip I’ve ever had in my life.  Bali, an alluring island that’s tucked away in the bottom of Indonesia, was one of those chips that changed me as a human being.  It should’ve been the trip that made me quit my current job, but it never crossed my mind.  This island is inhabited with white sandy beaches, quiet beachside fronts, jungles, monkeys, and a rich history.  The indigenous people there are full of smiles, big round eyes, and possess such a wonderful heart.

The second Spartan Race, which took place in Chon Buri, Thailand, was a memorable WALK.  I’m kidding.  However, I’m not kidding about it just being a long walk.  Regardless of laziness and the willingness to push yourself, this was one of my favorite runs because the amount of smiles and people pushing each other.

Maldives.  I’m laughing while writing this because this was a country that featured no currency.  That’s right.  I went there with Thai currency, only to be turned away and had no means of getting any currency while I was there.  Until I was met with the most incredible gesture anyone has ever given me.  This trip, which could’ve been a hell of a lot better, taught me a lot about myself in general.

Ho Chi Mihn City – the city of beautiful souls.  Well, not all.  I got cussed out roadside by a Vietnamese boy who was soliciting me for services *curling eyes*.  Going inside the remnants war museum and seeing the pure destruction the USA Army unleashed upon all Vietnamese crippled me inside.  Not only that, but it made me realize how strong-willed the Vietnamese are.

First Spartan Race in Malaysia (and the one just two weeks ago) were FUN! Wait, I’ll take that back. The first Spartan race SUCKED.  Ok, yes….it was near public transportation (versus the last one that was in the middle of a damn jungle), but there weren’t comedians or anyone cheering each other on – on the course.  Get what I’m saying? But a Sprint and Super have been achieved.  It’s time for the BEAST!

Moving into my new condo and leaving a place that was killing my insides…was a monumental feature.  I believe I brought all the pain from the beginning of the years to my last job and it held me down.  I took the leap of faith, left, and I could finally breathe again.

Anyways, enough of that.  How about checking some things off my list! Sheraton Hotel, which is a five-star hotel in KL, was put on my 101 goals list in 2015 — ACHIEVED! It wasn’t the only one to join the “checking” list with several others being highlighted.

And last but not least, the trip back to Arizona — a place I haven’t been in years.  I competed in a Tough Mudder after fighting off food poisoning (courtesy of Singapore Airlines – Thank You!).

All in all, when I was looking in my camera roll on my iPhone, I began to tear up.  How was I able to overcome all of it?

Personal development, of course.  5 years in Thailand and I still go through the craziness of it all.  So, I want to just say THANK YOU to no only my loyal followers and supporters, but the fact that I never gave up.

Darren Hardy: Chapter 6 – Acceleration

First time I did a Tough Mudder in Melbourne, Australia, I was stoked.  I mean I remember the long drive there, the cool temperatures, the enthusiasts at a pit-stop along the way wearing leggings.  I mean the build up was insane.  My best friend, Joy, was just driving casually; meanwhile, the energy going through my body was unimaginable and I was just tapping my feet nervously while gazing away at the gorgeous green hills.  This was that moment of truth.  This was that moment that everything that had taken place in Thailand would be completely disrupted.  This was Arsenio versus Arsenio.  This was literally gathering up all this embattled pain and hammering it on this course.

Well the race had begun and in the first km, I was gassed. LOL! I built up some momentum with the Big Mo, and around the 6km-8km mark, the race got increasingly fun.  Music was on point, gorgeous Chinese-Australian women everywhere ( just saying – lol), and I was rapping and dancing during one obstacle.

However, when the half-way mark came, the wall came.  The mental barrier.  The wall that goes up in the mind of humanity when you just wanna give up.  .

I recall looking up the hill and seeing these ants sprawled everywhere.  Were they ants? Of course not….they were people straggling off in the distance, going up the goliath that towered over me.  I was terrified and said, “I think it’s time to give up.”

That’s when you hit the wall.  This could be in physical exertion, or just life in general.  That point when your mind says, “enough.”

Another instance was in the south of Thailand at a place called Lan Saka.  I thought it was going to be a mellow and cool bike ride with my neighbors from across the street, but without the proper biking shorts, it turned into a painful haul.  Halfway in it we were going up yet again…..hills.  Hills that didn’t make any sense.  Again, I recall looking up this particular hill and saying, “no, there’s no way I can go up.”

I told the other rider, “mai dai krap.”  Which is a proper way of saying “cannot.” He, with just one hand, began pushing me up this hill.  I was yelling in sheer anger, feeling the absolute burn running through my thighs and I was saying “I CAN’T DO IT!”  He kept saying, “pai! PAI!” Meaning “go! GO!”

I reached the “summit” and there it was….ecstasy showered with pain and laughter.

There is a point at which you “hit the wall” and come face to face with your true inner character. Suddenly, all the projections and ideas you had about yourself are stripped away and you’re left with the naked truth.

“When conditions are great, things are easy, there aren’t any distractions, no one is interrupting, temptations aren’t luring, and nothing is disturbing your stride; that too is when most everyone else does great. It’s not until situations are difficult, when problems come up and temptation is great, that you get to prove your worthiness for progress. As Jim Rohn would say, “Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”
When you hit the wall in your disciplines, routines, rhythms, and consistency, realize that’s when you are separating yourself from your old self, scaling that wall, and finding your new powerful, triumphant, and victorious self.”

Excerpt From: Darren Hardy. “The Compound Effect.” iBooks.

Podcast

Health Goals For 2018

This is going to be a little bit of a difficult year for me because of the sporadic races on terrible dates (in regards to Spartan).

For example, the Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur sprint will fall on the day I will be in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.  This will make it a little bit difficult for me to get a sprint in.  Now there’s a Super here in Thailand – making that journey extremely easy.  However, Thailand will have only one race in May.

And then there’s the Beast — a 20km monster.  This is going to have to be completed in Australia in November.  So, that means I might be taking two trips to Australia this year for a Hurricane Heat and a Beast….but the Hurricane Heat is in February and might be too soon to travel to Australia…so I might bump it.

Nonetheless, I have a Beast in Australia, Super in Thailand, and Sprint in ______________.

This will allow me to achieve the trifecta, which means completing the three races and getting an amazing medal for it.

This is the “why” power behind my working out.  The reason why I’ve gotten much bigger and I’ve taken running so much more seriously is because if I don’t, these competitions could end in a disaster.

Now, another goal of mine is of course to become more lean.  Since joining this wonderful gym back in September of last year, I feel like I’ve gone from looking lean to looking bigger.  Was that a goal? To a certain extent, but I don’t want to look “big.”  This is why I include loads of cardio in my workouts because my intent is not to become a muscle head (oops – lol).

Eating habits will gradually incline, but it will be a bit costly.  Bangkok has this “healthbox” company that delivers lean, vege, vegan, and other types of meals all across Bangkok.  This could save me a little bit of money, and it could save a lot of time trying to look for food (which is always packed with sodium here).

Typing this right now is utterly exciting though.  Not that many people around the world have this type of lifestyle.  I’m able to travel at will, go to different places around the world, inspire people globally, and shake hands locally.  It’s just such a remarkable way to start off the New Year.

However, there is just one problem……

Podcast

Napoleon Hill – Failure – Introduction of My Physical Failure

Let me paint this picture of this life-turning night at Palo Verde High School back in May of 2005.

I was a 300m intermediate-hurdler who was favored to at least make it to the Sunrise Regional Championships.  I remember I failed miserably at the 110HH – not intentionally, but because I was more focused on the ‘endurance’ run that was approaching the next day.  So, here I am sitting on what feels like a frosty field for 10-20 minutes.  Before the race began, I did a fair amount of stretching to keep loose.  However, all athletes were forced to keep seated in the inside of the field until the 800m race had finished – which seemed like for AGES.

Boom, here we go.  Approached the blocks, glanced at the heavy crowd on-hand and I recall glancing at just two random Filipinos, making eye-contact with them.  It just seemed like at the moment, it was time to do WORK!

“Runners on your block!”

I did my usual jump-crunch and backed into my blocks, waiting calmly for the gun to go off and unleash hell.

“SET”

…………

“SHOT FIRED”

I’m flying out the blocks in tenacity so I can get ahead quickly and pace myself.  This track’s 300m race starts in the first curve rather than the back straightaway, which was very odd.  It didn’t throw me off, but I just remember getting to the first and last curve before I felt my legs tighten up on me.  Not to the point that I pulled my hamstrings, but it felt like I had 2-20KG cinder blogs on both shoulders.  The other athletes zoomed by me and I saw my hopes of making finals dwindle before my very eyes.

I finished, fell to the ground, and wept like a baby.  I staggered walking across the field in utter devastation and seeing some of my teammates looking at me with no reaction.  The hardest part was going to my coach and apologizing to him.  Other athletes from my team who were heavily favored to reach the Class 4A State Championship Race also didn’t qualify.  It was a night of misery.

Or was it?

Podcast 

Spartan Race Looming Large!

This will be the first ever Spartan Race in Chon Buri, Thailand and I’m not even worried.  For the most part, there’s a huge underestimation of the race happening within my mind that will sneak up on me.

Malaysia Was A Rude Awakening

I thought the Spartan Super in Kuala Lumpur was going to be relatively easy.  Even halfway through the course, my legs were sound and I didn’t have any tension in my upper back.  However, things got pretty difficult when I had to carry a bucket of rocks for almost a quarter mile – leaving my back in a good amount of pain.  I had to also carry a sandbag over my head into a ravine and all the way back up.  By the end of the race, my knees were buckling on the outside and it was difficult for me to go down anything.  I recall coming across the 3rd to last obstacle and seeing another contestant who had given up on doing burpees.

Towards the end, it was just pain.  It being in Kuala Lumpur probably didn’t help because there wasn’t a sense of comradery and fellowship between everyone running.  Everyone either just looked out for themselves, or their group.  There was no cheering each other on and no speaking to one another.

Thailand – I’m Just Praying To Any Entity In The Universe

That prayer is simply hoping that everyone will work together to achieve the goal, just like Tough Mudder.  This is what separates Tough Mudder from Spartan, too.  In Bali, Melbourne, and Phoenix (three different continents), everyone worked together to battle it out to the finish.  Australia, towards the very end, people just wanted to finish.  America, given the fact that we’re just so warm-hearted (lol), reeled everyone in, regardless if you knew them or not.  I recall helping an older lady over a Berlin Wall with her daughter and son on the other side.  It doesn’t matter who you are and what background you’re from…..

……The goal is to develop a sense of fulfilment, heart, and help one another.  That’s what this race is predicated on.

So, for those Thais who will read this throughout the course of the week, do something for someone without being told to do it!

Can You Physically Prepare For Sufferfests?

What is a sufferfest? This is basically  your household Spartan Races (although they’re much funner), Tough Mudders (notable obstacles: Arctic Enema & Electro Shock Therapy); and then there are the upper echelon sufferfests.  I’m talking about the marathons, ironmans, ultra-marathons, anything that involves you pushing yourself, like Amelia Boone does, to the absolute limit.

Amelia Boone quoted, “I love pushing my body to the point whereas I’m suffering.”

A gentleman at a restaurant in Sedona, Arizona saw my shirt and asked me about Tough Mudder.  However, unbeknownst to fitness, he made claims like, “why would people even do that?”

As some of you know, one of my greatest failures in life happened back in 2005 – Southern Nevada Sunrise Regional Track & Field Championships where I was suppose to finish in the top 2; conversely, I fell apart 125 meters into my 300m intermediate hurdle race and finished dead last.  This failure right here is music to my ears and I keep it with me everyday like a little girl keeps that teddybear by her side when she retires at night.

When I’m getting ready to give up on a Tough Mudder Course, or any workout in general, that point of suffering arises.  That moment when I crossed the finish line, collapsed, and wept at the Regional Championships.  That point of absolute defeat drives me everyday of my life, and it’s not in a bad way, either.  This greatest defeat has carried me more than 50,000 miles across the world since then and I’ve become the success I am today because of it.

What a sufferfest does, like I told a doctor from Cincinnati, Ohio yesterday, is it destroys the mind.  It destroys that habit….the thing that controls your life everyday.  It breaks the comfortability bubble that you’re in everyday.  A Tough Mudder could be anywhere from 10-20km (6-12 miles), but your body is only capable of being trained for the first half of that race.  I learned the hard way in Australia.

My first every Tough Mudder was beyond fun.  People, of all walks of life, were throwing each other over mud hills, laughing and dancing.  At the time, I thought I was at the 15km mark.  However, we reached a sign that first said 10km (halfway through) and then a course that said ‘Gorilla Hills.’  Then the moment followed…..that moment when the mental barrier and the word “quit” was beaming at me.  These ants, which were people, were making their way up these mountainous hills.  I’ve never seen anything quite like them before in my life.  I was thinking about cutting the course, taking a go-cart up the hill, quitting, so many things were going through my mind.  My upper back was in a state of pain, knees buckled, shoes were torn with little pebbles scattered throughout – killing my feet even more.  At this time, everything I ever been through in life, in terms of pain, came before my very eyes.  The suffering I endured throughout Thailand, my family, the trials and tribulations of everything came…..that’s when I stood there and looked at my reflection and said, “if I give up now, it will continue to conquer me.”

After walking….3km past; 4km past, 5km past – next thing I know the Arctic Enema was there and I almost went around.  Nope! Since I’m already suffering, I need to get a reward from it, right? That very day changed my life

These are why suffering fests are important for human beings.  The only way the growth will take place in the most uncomfortable situations is when you’re in the middle of nowhere and quitting is not an option.  The body is completely destroyed after a certain mark, and when the mental part kicks in, you begin to control the mind and tell it what to do.  Once you do that, you can start taking control of your life.

This is why they’re vital.

2.5 Tough Mudders later and a Spartan Race approaching in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I simply can’t get enough of them.

Tough Mudder – Tempe, Arizona

I’ve done Melbourne, Australia (the worst mudder because it was the first with massively massive hills) 2 years ago; Bali, Indonesia last year (extremely rough terrain, but absolutely gorgeous); and now Tempe, AZ in the USA.  I got 2.5 tough mudders under my belt, and I was hoping to get my 3x mudder headband, but unfortunately I didn’t do the full.

Nonetheless, here’s a rundown and a few photos of what the dry, deserted-desert area looked like that hand endless dust-devils and other things scattered across the drylands.

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DUST DEVIL!

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Vendors

To have the likes of Jamba Juice there, Mexican food, delicious hamburgers and other things made it the best out of all three mudders I’ve done so far.  Having protein and even a merchandise tent that sold endless apparel and necessities was just amazing compared to what I’ve seen in the past.

The Course

Now, having ran in Australia already, I was a little bit aware of the dry heat.  However, there’s no way you can possibly acclimate to the inhalation of sand.  By the time the race was over, I was wheezing.  Positive: zero hills and running on pretty stable terrain compared to Bali made the course decent.

Comradery

Ahhhh, I went from being alone and bored the first 1.25 miles, to barrelling through the course and being pushed by someone who asked me, “how you doing, man?” We teamed up and started talking about life overseas and our personal trials and tribulations that vaunted our workout status to unshakable heights.  It’s incredible sharing stories with strangers and seeing miles just drop, drop, DROP OFF.  By the time we can across the obstacles where assistance was actually needed, we had met some wonderfully beautiful German beauties (the Pink Team) whereas the course got much funner.  One girl even claimed that she hadn’t worked out since February…..here I am hyperventilating because of my 5 day hiatus.  That’s the beauty of Tough Mudder; let alone Americans.  The forming of an alliance amongst strangers and putting 100% trust into them makes this an obstacle course to remember.

Going Forward

I have a Spartan Race coming up in Singapore next month, perhaps one sometime during the American summer months that will be in Kuala Lumpur, one in Thailand (AROO!) and perhaps a Tough Mudder to top off the year.  Enjoy the pictures and even my podcast down below!

Podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/11587764

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Donating The Shoes

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The Main Reason Why People Don’t Travel

If you look at your bank account right now, and you don’t have the funds to buy a flight + hotel + plane ticket, you wouldn’t think twice about traveling, right?

This is probably the main reason why people just don’t travel.

Let me put this more into perspective…..I’m going back to America for the first time in April.  So, at the beginning of January, did I have ALL THE MONEY NEEDED for the travel in April? Probably not, but anticipating salaries and savings was one of the first things I did.  At the beginning of January, I bought a Singapore Airlines Ticket (BKK-SIN-TOKYO-LAX) and the RT was included; ticket was cheaper than all USA Airlines (such as as United, Delta, and American) at just under 900$ USD.

Now, did I buy the plane ticket from LAX-PHX? No.  I waited.  I knew I was getting paid again in February; however, I bought the RT ticket a few weeks later just to clear all flights.

If I had to stay in a hotel (which I will because I have a 9 hour layover in Singapore), I can book the hotel in February instead of January, right? You don’t have to book everything at one time, people.  Book slowly leading up to the travel.

You’re going to have to set aside a budget.  I talk about this a lot in my podcast how I save 66% of my salary by wire transferring to my American bank account.

Living here in Thailand, no more than 30000 baht (equivalent to 1000$ USD without the crazy currencies happening) is needed.  This also restricts me from going out (I don’t like spending money on nightlife here in Thailand).  Therefore, I save between 1000-2000$ USD minimum from my priority job A MONTH.

Now a lot of my American friends and colleagues understand why living in Thailand is wonderful.  If you’re able to save that much per month and take rampant trips throughout the year, would you? Rather than spending 1000-1500$ a bills and only having a fraction of your money left?

This year, I have a monster trip (probably the biggest trip of the year) heading back to America in April.  I have a small, three day trip for a competition in Singapore in May.  I have Hawaii/Fiji in July, Malaysia/Bali in September or October and Melbourne, Australia  for Christmas & New Years Eve.  Now, do I have enough money for hotels, flights and spending money for all of the trips right now? Obviously not (although next year will be a massive change), but I book little-by-little over time.  I know when I come back from America, I can buy my Singapore Airlines ticket and two-night hotel for Singapore instantly.  I know my Hawaiian/Fijian plan ticket will be booked in May, and the smaller trips leading up to the end of the year can be booked on the go.

See, not too bad, right? Book slowly overtime.  Having the full money now may be impossible for a lot of people out there, but if you book little-by-little over the course of three months, you can hit off the travels!

Gelatin – Is It Good or Bad? America Takes The Affirmative & Thailand Takes The Negative

About a year ago, I was engagement in one of those idle-gossip-conversations at work that involved a teacher spewing rhetoric about factories in Thailand.  At the time I was eating candy that contained Gelatin, an ingredient that’s literally put into candy here and in Germany for some odd reason and the British teacher ERUPTED….

“Omg, you know those are made in factories here in Thailand.  Cow skin and bones is what Gelatin is and it’s put into that mess.”

It wasn’t only him, but other staff members were predisposed to consuming candy that had the infamous “Gelatin” in it.

So, I finally did some research and my oh my, this is why you NEVER listen to the opinions of others and you just have to check it out yourself.

Gelatin is a protein made from the skins and bones of pigs and cows. It’s a common ingredient in a number of products, including: medicine, makeup, vaccines, and food.

Why do people take Gelatin?

Many people with arthritis take Gelatin supplements Gelatin contains collagen. That’s a material in the cartilage that cushions the bones in your joints.

The idea behind this usage is that eating gelatin (with collagen)  will add collagen to your joints. However, that’s probably not true. The collagen in gelatin gets broken down when you eat it. It wouldn’t travel directly to your joints.

Nonetheless, there is some evidence that gelatin could help ease joint pain in people with osteoarthritis.

Then came Amanda Boone.  Amanda Boone, who is the first person to win first at the World’s Toughest Mudder, actually takes hydrolysed Gelatin.  She said in Tim Ferris’ book ‘tools of titans’ why she actually takes it….

“I’ve consumed Gelatin for connective tissue repair in the past.  I’ve never stuck with it long term because Gelatin takes on a seagull poo-like texture when mixed into cold.” – Amelia Boone 

 

“Amelia saved my palate and joints by introducing me to the Great Lakes hydrolyzed version (green label), which blends easily and smoothly.” – Tim Ferris

Amazing results from one of the greatest, ultra athletes in the world and a highly sought after writer/entrepreneur.

Interesting when we just go by the opinions of others and let that dictate what we believe at that specific moment.  However, when you actually check things out and do the research yourself, you have your satori moment.

Podcast – https://www.spreaker.com/episode/10544369