The Texas Shredder and Drop Zone Showdown results

What a great month this has been. Dave Goodin’s MRI Texas Shredder show was amazing–one of the biggest natural bodybuilding shows of the year (302 competitors). There is truly something spectacular about competing in such a packed auditorium. The back of the stage, where we are held captive until the show begins, was crowded with beautiful bodies and filled with the familiar smell of oil and tanning products. It transported me back to my first show in 1998. The front of the auditorium was completely lined with product-laden tables of protein powders, shirts, shakers, energy drinks, posing suits, jewelry, natural diet pills, and diuretics, and so much more. What a production Dave’s show has become!! At the back of the stage people were either pumping up, waiting to get a final spray tan coat, oiling up, adjusting their suits, or calming their nerves by sharing stories about their family, diet, workouts, etc. I met some old friends from prior shows and made new ones. I met another vegan there too! It was his first show, and I hope he gets hooked. We need more herbivores gracing the stage.

The morning portion of this event went well, and I felt like I held up fairly well against some amazing competition. These guys were big and ripped! I entered four divisions (open bodybuilding, masters bodybuilding 35+years, open physique, and masters physique), so it was a really long morning turned afternoon. Ready for some food and a nap after all that business, Christy and I went for Thai food. We had spring rolls and vegetable stir-fries. I was already dehydrated, so was not too concerned about losing my conditioning from salt intake.

After a great nap, it was time to get ready for the night portion of the show. This is the time when the bodybuilders get to do their posing routines to a 60-90 second song of their choosing. We also get to find out how the judges placed us. I was happy to end up getting second place in the masters bodybuilding as well as third in masters physique. Not too shabby for a 44-year-old.

I was happy with my conditioning at the Shredder but wanted to take it even further for the Drop Zone showdown two weeks later. I cranked out some extra cardio and tightened down on the diet even further, getting to around 3.5 percent body fat. This show was a WNBF qualifier, so a pro card was going to go to the winner of each category. The Drop Zone was in Sugar Land Texas, about three hours out of Austin, so we had a hotel to stay in, and a smaller venue with fewer competitors made for a much more relaxed feel. I ended up with second place in masters body building and second in physique. Good placing, but no pro card.

I am now just five days away from taking the stage at the Naturally Fit bodybuilding show. It’s right in my town in a huge auditorium (Palmer Events Center). I was offered and gratefully accepted a place on the “Plant Built” team, where 15-20 vegan athletes will grace the stage in record numbers. It will be awesome to show what a herd of herbivore beef looks like!!

This is probably going to be the final show of the year before I start ultra marathon training again and concentrate on creating my new sport, the Power Marathon. This will be a sanctioned power lifting meet directly followed by a full marathon. Power, endurance, and a will of iron will be needed to excel at this.

 

back stage at the Shredder with two members of my gym who also placed well in their categories

Back stage at the “Shredder Classic” with two members of my gym who also placed well in their categories

 

Flashing my pearly whites in the physique division.

Flashing my pearly whites in the physique division.

Three days till the Texas Shredder Bodybuilding show!

Over eight months vegan/gluten-free, and my body is feeling really strong! My old lifting records are being broken even as I have leaned down to sub-4-percent body fat. I will hit the stage around 3.6 percent, which will show a lot of muscular detail without sacrificing any fullness. I’m not the thickest guy out there, so I must rely on symmetry and conditioning to place well. I’m at my all-time best with three more pounds of muscle than I had in 2011 at a lower body fat percentage. The Texas Shredder Bodybuilding show is on April 13, and I’m ready to strut my stuff. Tomorrow is my last day of cardio; then I get to take it easy and cruise onto the contest stage at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.

The last few days of contest preparation involve dietary salt removal, carbohydrate loading, and a little dehydration. I’m not an extremist in any of these three dietary changes, but a big difference in physique can result when this method is done properly. Every person responds slightly differently to these adjustments, so trial and error with plenty of note-taking is a must to dial everything in. It may take a few shows before an athlete figures out the right formula for his/her body, which may explain why it takes a few attempts to win a competition. This will be around my twelfth body building show; I have placed second in my weight division three times and once won my division, but not the overall trophy.

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I am setting my focus this year on getting a win at a show that offers a pro card for the overall champion. I’ll be doing another show in seventeen days that offers this pro card, and have two others this year as well. I have my hands full this year! Here are some pictures that my good friend Teri took of me last weekend when she helped me with posing. She is an awesome coach and a great person.

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One of the best things about being vegan is that I can eat tons of food and still lose weight! Below is one of my awesome salads made with all-organic ingredients. I start with a big bowl of mixed greens, then mix in a low-calorie dressing and nutritional yeast. For this salad, I added steamed cauliflower and broccoli with a home-grown tomato, almonds, apples, and pears. Sometimes I’ll add  tofu or quinoa and lentils for some extra protein. My main source of protein has been plant-based protein powders. I have been using PlantFusion (AKA NitroFusion) for the entire diet phase as well as for my ultra-marathons the last few months. I love this brand because it is not gritty tasting like the others I have tried (really tastes like the whey I used pre-vegan) and it has an almost identical amino acid profile to whey. I mix it with almond milk, water, coffee, or tea depending on the time of day.
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Wish me luck! I will need it with all of the incredible athletes who have been showing up at these events over the last several years. Natural body building has been growing rapidly, and I love being in the mix. I was at the Texas VegFest last Saturday and met some fellow vegan bodybuilders who generously asked me to join them at the Naturally Fit Super Show. Get ready to see some herbivore beef on the stage July 26-27 with Team Plant Built! Check out www.plantbuilt.com and www.nitrofusion.us  for more info. If you are interested in information about a plant-based diet, Christy Morgan (AKA the Blissful chef) has a program specifically engineered to meet your needs www.WellnesReboot.com.

Would love to hear from you if you have any tips on vegan nutrition for athletes. Leave it in the comments!

NPC Texas shredder natural body building show preparations

Well, a month after the Rocky Raccoon 100, I got the itch to do an earlier body building show than previously planned. I was  going to do my next show in 6 months, but I was already pretty lean and definitely motivated to get the show on the road. I first did the Texas Shredder in Austin back in 1996. It was and still is organized by Dave Goodin. It was his first of many and continues to grow every year. Dave is a very accomplished body builder (probably the first body builder to win an NPC pro-card as a natural athlete). If a show does not mention that it is “Natural”, then the organization does not care if you use illegal substances like steroids, human growth hormone or a slew of body fat burning stimulants like thyroid hormones.

I have been competing for over 17 years in what used to be a fairly small organization of natural shows, and have proudly seen the number of participants grow. This will be the first time I have competed as a vegan, so I’m very eager to compare my 2011 results to this coming show on April 13th. The lifting is going great now that I can concentrate on lifting heavy weights over running long distances. I have body-fat calipers that I have used every morning to gauge my progress. The results on each daily read vary slightly, so I take a weekly average. So far, my body fat has gone from 5.47 percent to 4.38 percent in a month. With one month to go I’m ramping up my cardio and eating super clean to get into the 2.7-3.2 percent range.

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I have competed in twelve shows and have placed second three times in my weight class and have won my weight class once but not the overall title. I’m seriously itching for an overall win. Choosing music to create a 90-second routine is so much fun. This is actually my favorite part of the whole ordeal. There are few things better than funky dancing to an old 70’s or 80’s song in a Speedo in front of 400 people. Ha!! Check out this video from 2011 below to see how goofy I am 😉

I have super white skin and really don’t care to tan, so I have to rely on a heavy layering of tanning products. That is my least favorite part of contest preparation. I don’t care for the shaving part either, but an oiled up hairy guy looks pretty ridiculous on stage….or anywhere else, in my opinion. I look pretty ridiculous off stage when I’m stage-ready for that matter. A contestant has to get such an unrealistically dark shade because the stage lights will bleach out your appearance. The desire here is to show the judges as much muscular detail as possible. Think of a white car with a dent in the side door. Now think of that same dent on a shiny dark car. That dent is equivalent to muscular detail.

I have really been into the banana and strawberry/blueberry smoothies with kale/spinach and NitroFusion (PlantFusion) protein powder. I’m also rock’n the salads pretty hard too. My mornings usually start with a proto-mocha-latte. This is something I made up about fifteen years ago. It consists of 2 to 4 cups of coffee, almond or coconut milk (instead of cow’s milk now), and NitroFusion (instead of whey). It is an awesome way to replace a Starbucks mocha, which would have about 500 calories and few redeeming health benefits.

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                                         NitroFusion smoothie and Proto-mocha-latte 

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        Mixed greens with Organic apples, tomatoes, cashews, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, avocado, nutritional yeast, and ginger-miso dressing

I have to say that since I have transitioned to a plant-based diet, fat loss has been easier. I lost a lot of body weight when I initially went vegan 6.5 months ago but am now putting on muscle as I am losing body fat. I started contest dieting a month ago at 178 pounds at 5.47 percent body fat and am currently 180 pounds at 4.48 percent. This muscle weight gain is due in part to supplementing with creatine. Creatine is a natural compound produced in the body from three amino acids and is responsible for energy production in the muscle. It also helps your body hold more water and ATP in the muscle, which not only increases the size but the healing ability and power production of muscle.

I will be posting some additional photos of my changing physique over the next month. Now it’s time for me to go back to the gym for my second round of cardio.

The Rocky Raccoon 100

Hello all! Well, I keep meaning to make my next post about something outside of my race/body building plant-based experiment, but I feel compelled to brag once again. Last week I finished the last race of my self-imposed season as a vegan. The Rocky Raccoon 100 was held in Huntsville, Texas, on a beautiful tree-covered but root-infested 20-mile loop. My first goal was to finish the race. My second was to finish in under 24 hours, so that I could get a special belt buckle again like I did in 2011. My final goal was to beat my 2011 race time.

The morning of the race was a little chilly, but absolutely tolerable; I had to wear only one thin long-sleeved shirt over my other short-sleeved one. The mood around the starting line is always really energizing before an ultra-marathon, with a sweet mix of nervousness, bull-in-a-pen eagerness, and sheer joy. The race started, and we all shuffled across the lap-counting sensor into the night with our headlamps illuminating our next steps. It really looks crazy to see all those beams slide into single file and snake into a luminous string, twisting around corners and floating over hills. These are some of the awesome things that trail racers get to see. I felt strong and ready for this race and was really eager to get the party started.

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The first lap went very well, and the sunrise was truly amazing reflecting off Lake Raven. The second lap was also great, but the sun brought with it some higher heat than we were expecting. By the third lap, I was doing just OK. I felt slightly nauseous from the heat, and the faster pace I was holding was wearing on me. I was ahead of my 2011 time, though, and feeling pretty good about finishing this race. So many things can happen to mess a race up that assuming a finish is not recommended until it’s almost finished. By the fourth lap I was feeling better. The sun was down, and the cool breeze felt amazing! I tend to wake up in the night, so even though my pace had slowed, I was in no way in the mood to stop. I met a really great guy from Brazil who had funny stories to share and a similar pace to mine, so we enjoyed each other’s company for around ten miles.

The people I have met during these races are what really make this whole thing worth it. I must have seen and quickly conversed with twenty friends I have met from prior races, and I made a few more on this one. It was great to finish the fourth lap knowing that only one remained. Looking at the timing clock, I realized that I needed to really put the pedal down if I wanted to break my old record, so I tucked in and fired away into the night. The fatigue was starting to kick in a little, and the roots seemed to rise out of the hard soil to catch my toes more frequently. This was frustrating to say the least in certain sections of the trail. I was developing a decent amount of disdain for these gnarly cables jutting out in an apparent mission to make me kiss the earth. Something interesting happened after that. I decided to think of the roots as my friends, so instead of avoiding them, I gave a kinder attention to them and barely missed a step after that. By the 90-mile mark, I was getting pretty eager to finish this race, so I started to run more of the hills that I would have previously power walked.


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  Joe Prusaitis (race organizer) and me at the finish line.

                                                                      

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I’m going to start a collection of these

At 3:25 a.m. I saw the finish line and almost cried as I saw the race timer; I beat my 2011 time by 35 minutes! I was eager to get home because the cold set into my body fast after I stopped running, so I got my belt buckle prize, took a few pictures as I talked with the awesome race promoter Joe Prusaites, and found Christy’s car to head back to our bed-and-breakfast. I am so glad that she was there to support my efforts in this event by setting up our rest station, bringing supplies, driving, and providing loving moral support. She totally rocks!

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My legs two days after running the Rocky Raccoon 100 in 2011

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My legs two days after running the Rocky raccoon 100 in 2013

These are some pictures to compare the difference in recovery from this race versus the 2011 Rocky Raccoon. No variables have changed except for my nutrition.

Now, it’s time to start working toward my last goal of this year: rock’n the 2013 Naturally Fit Bodybuilding Show.

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The race results and 5 months plant based

Happy post-New Year, everybody! One of my biggest resolutions this year was to continue my quest as a vegan, attempt to beat my old race times, and place better at the next natural bodybuilding show. Well, the first goal of beating my last 12-hour race time at the Run Like the Wind race went extremely well. It is run on a one-kilometer wood chip trail, and your laps are counted by an electronic sensor. I actually signed up for the 24-hour race this time. I not only beat my 12-hour race time by two kilometers but went on to win the 24-hour race. It started on Saturday at 10:30 am and ended on Sunday at 10:30 am. I felt great most of the time with no urge to take a break. I just ran and power walked till the clock ran out. There was a discrepancy on the lap counts, so I did not realize until the next day that I was just one lap away from breaking the course record! Next year I plan to crush it.

Currently I’m gearing up for the last big race of my self-imposed season. It’s called the Rocky Raccoon 100 and will be held in Huntsville, Texas, on February 2. I took a solid recovery after my last race, focusing more on weight training. My weight lifting has been great between training runs, except that I’m struggling to make solid lifting records. This is probably because my caloric consumption has been slightly lower and my sleep has frequently been under seven hours a night. I’m sure that all of the running has sapped my caloric banks as well. I am being very diligent about getting enough protein, and my muscle mass has stayed intact as my body fat has decreased. I’m loving the NutroFusion protein powder right now. I am stuck at work a lot and sometimes forget to pack enough food. This stuff mixes really well and tastes like chocolate milk.

                                                     Right after 115.32 miles. A little dehydrated but still cocky

Something I’ve read about vegan athletes is that their creatine consumption is much lower than that of a meat-eating athlete. Creatine is a molecule that is manufactured in the body from three amino acids. It’s essential to producing ATP, which is responsible for muscle contraction. Natural bodybuilders commonly supplement their diets with creatine as I have in the past, but have not since my vegan adventure. It will be interesting to see if my lifting improves after adding creatine to my diet again and dedicating my full resources to weight lifting for the Naturally Fit Super Show on July 26 and 27. Either way, the running is great–and most importantly, I’m really happy that no more animals are being harmed by my appetite or lifestyle.

This experiment was to dedicate myself to a plant-based diet for one year, but I now feel sure that I will never eat an animal product again for ethical reasons, no matter how my performance is affected. I feel sorry for the creatures I have harmed in the past and now have a desire to improve the lives of these living beings from this point forward. My life sure has improved  since this plant-based decision.

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If you’re interested in transitioning to plant-based eating, my girlfriend, Christy Morgan (AKA The Blissful Chef), has a one-month wellness program that is designed for this purpose. For more info check out  Wellnessreboot .com. Here’s to eating and lifting like a gorilla!!

The Run Like The Wind 2012 Outcome

What a great experience! When I started this plant-protein experiment on September 1, I knew my first race would be Run Like the Wind. My goal was to beat my mileage for the 12-hour race, but I went ahead and signed up for the 24-hour race. Last year I did 60.76 miles in 12 hours. Not only did I beat my mileage, I went on to win the 24-hour race.

I had a great night’s sleep and a great attitude the morning of the race. Robert Cheeke and Ben Benulis ran the 3-hour race, so I had good company for a while. They were actually running faster than I was, because I signed up for the the 24-hour race and needed to play it smart for that distance. Robert won the 3-hour race, also setting a new course record! Ben had a great personal best by running 18 miles. His prior longest distance was 13.1 miles, so he rocked.

I took it nice and easy for the first six or seven hours because it was around 80 degrees during the day. My body is not crazy about hot running. I kept pounding my Vitalyte and NitroFusion chocolate protein powder drink mixed with plenty of ice. Christy was documenting this race with grace and precision too :0). She needed to film a video for her wellness program, so had to take off for a bit while my friend Pascal took over camera and drink-filling assistance. Christy returned and filmed till 11:30 pm.

As the night air cooled, my energy level elevated and the running got stronger. I actually like to run alone, so I killed it solo till the morning light emerged as a deep golden backdrop to the overhead arbor of trees. I started the race in sixth place out of fourteen 24-hour contestants but was in first place and holding strong now. The race director was super pumped, telling me that I was coming close to a course record! I was running this race from the inside out, not really worrying about other people’s performance but my own, so it was great news to hear. Only six out of the fourteen finished the race. It’s interesting to note  that almost everyone who finished was over 40 years of age, so this distance is a testament to using an intelligent pacing strategy and paying attention to the body’s needs.

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I had already beat my last year’s 12-hour race win by two laps, so being first in the 24-hour was just gravy. Christy returned with a beautiful smile that elevated my spirit. I was told that I needed about five more miles in the last 35 minutes of the race, and it was then that I knew that the course record was not going happen. I was 25 kilometers ahead of second place, so I was plenty happy either way. Christy and Pascal took turns running pre-victory laps with me, and I got to cruise across the finish line with lots of great friends cheering me on. It really is awesome to have such amazing friends who are willing to hang out and support me in a ridiculous adventure like this. This race marked my thirteen-week journey as a vegan, and I cannot believe what a powerful impact it has had on my running. My recovery during training and endurance in the race were at an entirely new level. Not bad for a 44-year-old dude.

It turns out that there were a few laps that the sensor did not pick up, and I had been only one lap away from tying the course record. Ouch!! I wish I had known. I could have definitely cranked out a couple more laps for a new record. Next year, I’m going to kill this course. Next up, the Rocky Raccoon 100 on February 2. It’s on!!

Race time

I’ve been on a plant-based diet for over three months now and still continue to reap the benefits. My recovery from hard weight lifting and long runs has made training so much more enjoyable. My allergies are nonexistent, and I feel more rested on less sleep. I have a race in three days that I am totally pumped up for. It’s called the “Run Like the Wind,” and I am attempting to beat my time last year (60.76 miles in 12 hours). I won this race last year and feel an excited pressure to defend this standing. I signed up for the 24-hour, so I have the option of continuing to race if I am feeling up to it. I have run 100 miles before, but 24 hours should give me enough time to break that number. This is assuming that I have a good day and everything goes fairly smoothly. Assumption is a bad thing to rely on, so I’m just going to take things as they come and enjoy the day as it unfolds. There are few things worse than starting a long race too fast and having to try to dig out of a big hole. I learned this lesson the hard way, so smooth and steady for me, especially since the high is supposed to be 80 degrees! The venue for this race is the “Canine Center for Training and Behavior” in Austin, Texas. It’s off 6901 Old Bee Cave Road on December 8 at 10:30 am. The course is a one-kilometer loop of soft , mulchy terrain mostly covered by tree shade, so my body wont take a huge pounding relative to the distance. Come by and scream at me if you are in the area.