Category Archives: Doing

My First Month of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

I’m definitely not a great athlete, but I really love doing physical stuff. Always have. Whatever sport I’m doing, I’m at least willing to work hard for the gains, which is a good thing, because they aren’t going to come to me naturally.

One of the things I wish I’d done (literally) decades ago is kept a journal of my relationships with rugby and running. I’ve done that with triathlon to some extent, and it’s pretty cool to go back and look at all the things I’ve learned, all the mistakes I’ve made, and all the things I didn’t understand until I matured in the sport a little bit and (just like I do with everything else) learned the hard way.

Luckily, I can do that with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After one month of training, and I’m completely hooked. Even better than that, I’m like a newborn baby seeing and experiencing things while at the same time being fully aware that there’s a whole level of understanding to what we’re doing that I can’t comprehend yet.

So here’s a quick summary of my experience with BJJ so far. I’m guessing every single thing I’m experiencing has been experienced by millions of people already, but…


  • How’d you get that submission?
  • Do it again!
  • How’d you do it so quickly?
  • I have to improve my cardio.
  • How do I defend that?
  • Ribs!
  • Ok, how were you still able to get that–what did I forget to do?
  • When I did defend it, how did you get the next submission?
  • Wow…my whole family really loves this! I’m glad I won’t be boring them to death when this is all I want to talk about.
  • Cardio needs improvement, but isn’t as bad as I thought. Mostly I have to relax more.
  • Now I’ve read and watched some videos, and my mind is blown. Literally blown. This goes so much deeper and wider than I could have ever imagined.
  • I can’t soak this up fast enough, and my body can’t keep up with my head when I do absorb something.

Week 2:

  • Hey! I recognize this situation, and I know what I’m supposed to do here! Why can’t I remember the first step and execute it?
  • Wasn’t planning on training tonight, but I really want to. We already made other plans. That sucks.
  • Wow. Rolling with someone new completely changes everything.
  • How can I get more new people here?
  • I can mark my progress against the more experienced guys by the fact that it’s at least taking them longer to submit me. And now I’m making different mistakes.
  • My primary training partner is equal to me in size, strength, and experience and it feels like we just lay on each other because we are limited by our knowledge and experience.
  • Gym closed today. That sucks.
  • I’m so glad my kids are into this. What a tremendous skill for them to have.

Week 3:

  • Next time I roll with that guy and get in that situation, I got a little something for him.
  • Now, why did I have to work so hard for it? Please show me the technique that won’t require that kind of muscle/time.
  • I know where I feel most comfortable for now. By “comfortable” I mean the place I can make my opponent most uncomfortable.
  • This has all of a sudden become the reason to running, cycling, stretching, yoga, and an NSNG diet.
  • Foam roller being used for real.
  • More relaxed now.
  • “Position Over Submission” is going on the next coffee mug I buy.
  • Gym closed today. That sucks.
  • Can we just bring dinner to the gym in some plastic containers so we can roll for an extra 30 minutes?

Week 4:

  • Morning classes soon please?
  • My submission from last week won’t be happening to him again for a while. He saw that coming from a mile away.
  • Hey…we’re not laying on each other! We’re moving a lot more!
  • But this other guy moves so much faster and so much more that by the time I recognize a situation we’re already two positions past it.
  • New rule–you kids can roll all you want, but no submissions or chokes allowed without adult supervision. Be careful with your friends.
  • I think if I got jumped in the street I could do a pretty good job of keeping myself safe until help arrived. Probably couldn’t do too much damage, but that’s ok. At least I could defend myself and walk away without getting my face smashed in.
  • We’re not really ready to look for a house yet, but we are shopping for mats.

Unschooling John Muir and Squirrel

We found this book at our local library with a great story about John Muir in Yosemite, and his interactions (mostly fictional) with Floy Hutchings (Squirrel). Her father operated an inn and tour guide business in the Valley, and John Muir worked for him when he first came to Yosemite.

The kids loved seeing photos of themselves from our trip to Yosemite last summer. in the places he could have been–“Here’s a picture of you playing in the same river John Muir is relaxing beside. The exact same river!”

It’s really cool to see them make connections between their own lives and what they are reading. Also funny to point out to them that they were having so much fun playing in the Merced River that they completely missed the fact that Yosemite Falls even exists.

And maybe this view help develop his idea that glaciers formed the landscape?

Olmstead Point – always carry a stuffy

[Amazon affiliate link included]

Want To Try Trainerroad For Free?

Quick and to the point, if you’d like to try out Trainerroad for a month,  just leave a comment to this post with your first and last name and I will hook you up. The email address you use will have to be legit, but it won’t be displayed–I just need it to fill in the information on the TR side. First three commenters get them.

No catch, and they don’t have an affiliate program (yet), so I don’t get a dime for it. I just strongly believe in their product and want to help anyone who’d like to take it for a test spin.

Horrible pun.

I’m a huge fan of Trainerroad, although you wouldn’t know it by reading this blog lately. Actually, you wouldn’t think I’m a huge fan of much of anything by reading lately.

Still, when I am training (and why am I such a lazy bum right now?), I can’t think of a better investment I’ve made in my fitness that Trainerroad. I was riding a ton about a year ago–well, at least a ton for me–and I saw tremendous results not only in my cycling, but also in my running.

Yeah, being a strong cyclist takes you a long way towards being a strong runner.

I even did the Sufferfest Tour of Sufferlandria in 2014. What has happened to me?


Every Wave…

Black and white of the beach snapped at Torrey Pines State Park in San Diego, California
Every wave leaves behind a beautiful pattern in the sand
And every wave destroys another beautiful pattern in the sand
I reckon that’s supposed to be some kind of metaphor.
Or maybe it just looks cool.

National Parks Tour – Grand Canyon


After our February trip to Death Valley National Park, we were all pretty excited to go to see The Grand Canyon. As an added bonus, we were taking the scenic route via Flagstaff, AZ to visit some of our best friends, which paid unexpected dividends later.

We left Las Vegas in the late afternoon for the drive to Flagstaff, and we loved how the scenery seemed to change every 30 minutes or so as we changed elevation.

2015-03-21As we arrived in Flagstaff, 4 of the 5 people in the Adventure Van were worked into a fevered pitch by the sight of a Chik-Fil-A sign. It was the first chance to eat that stuff since September, and we fell off the gluten-free wagon (again) to take advantage.

The kids were excited to see old friends, but crashed pretty quickly after we got to their house. The next morning we were treated to pancakes (glad we were off the wagon) and cartoons while we got everyone prepped for the day. Flagstaff is cold in March.

We piled into our cars and headed toward the Grand Canyon. First stop, Desert View Watchtower. The only other time I’d been to the Canyon, I’d come straight from Las Vegas, so this was new to all of us. I don’t think the views are as “grand” here, so it doesn’t make the impression for first time visitors the way Mather Point does. But, while not as impressive for The Missus, the kids loved the tower, and we spent a good deal of time here.

Which brings me to a couple of things to consider regarding the downside of taking young kids to the Grand Canyon. Our kids really like to hike and experience things hands on. At the Grand Canyon, there are big crowds, and it’s sometimes tough to keep your eyes on them to make sure they are staying safe. There are also limited opportunities for them to hike, but luckily we were able to remedy this.


Our next stop was the Visitor’s Center. Again, really crowded. But we at least needed to get our passports stamped and let the kids pick out a souvenir.


Now the good part. Our friends are both biologists who work or have work for the Parks Service. Luckily, one of them spent lots of time working at the Canyon and knew just the spot to get away from the crowds and allow the kids to rampage. We took a nice mile long hike through the forest to a secluded part of the south rim. Really nice because their kids are the same ages as ours, and it gave them an opportunity to climb around on fallen trees and do lots of exploring. Plus, the quiet and uncrowded spot was nice!


Before heading back the next day we decided to check out Sunset Crater National Monument in Flagstaff. Really cool, and zero crowds! There’s an amazing lava flow to explore and a short but steep hike to the top of a crater with beautiful views. It was the perfect stop to stretch our legs a little to prepare for the drive back to southern Nevada.


National Parks Tour – Death Valley

Death Valley National Park

Ussie at Badwater BasinSince it’s so close, we decided to make our first big “National Parks Family Trip” venture to Death Valley in a single day. January and February are the prime visiting times for this park, and it still wasn’t very crowded. Maybe people have the idea that there isn’t anything to see here, but that’s not the case at all. As soon as we arrived at the visitors’ center and saw the campground, we wished we made it a two day trip. This place is absolutely amazing. There’s a ton of cool stuff to see in Death Valley, even with little kids, and we’ll definitely be making another trip when the weather cools off again in the late fall.

Death Valley Stamp

At the Furnace Creek Visitors’ Center we bought each of the kids a National Parks Passport book to collect cancellations–we plan on hitting a lot of parks, and wanted them to have something they could use for their rest of their lives. I hope they’ll try to see as many of the Parks as possible. And hopefully, this is the first stamp of many we’ll collect in 2015!

Pupfish at Salt Creek Interpretive Trail

Our first stop was at the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail. We love to see stuff that you can only see at one (or at least only a few) places in the world. Believe it or not, there are fish in Death Valley. This trail is a boardwalk that crosses Salt Creek several times, and it gave the kids a chance to get a close up look at the Death Valley Pupfish. They were stranded in Death Valley at the end of the last ice age and have adapted to this environment. Pretty cool!

Death Valley Pupfish

Sand Dunes

Hiking the Death Valley Sand Dunes

The first time I ever came to the Mojave Desert, I was surprised that weren’t at least some sand dunes to see. I was just looking in the wrong place. For our next stop, we visited Death Valley’s Sand Dunes. This was definitely one of the highlights of our visit. You go for a couple of miles on these dunes, and when we come back we’ll definitely come armed with more water and some snacks. The kids had a great time running down these–almost as good as playing in snow. Almost.

Death Valley Sand Dunes

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin at Death Valley National Park

This was the stop I was most excited about personally. Being here in January, I can’t imagine getting out of the car here in July, much less running 135 miles from here to Mt. Whitney. Temperatures were in the upper 70s for us, but it felt much hotter, even with a little bit of an overcast sky. The girls had fun pretending the salt flats we were walking on was snow–any chance they get to play “Elsa and Anna”. It was a little tough keeping them off the untouched cracked sections. I’m sure that was very tempting to them. What kid wouldn’t love to feel that crunch under their feet?

Salt Flats at Death Valley National Park
DSC_0476Because of its proximity to Las Vegas, Death Valley was the first on our long list of National Parks we want to visit while we’re living out West. One of the best things about living in Las Vegas so far has been the proximity to so many amazing things we never had access to on the East Coast, and we’re taking full advantage.

If you’re ever in Vegas on a cold day and want to see something cool, I’d definitely recommend a quick road trip to Death Valley. Much closer than the Grand Canyon, and you can enjoy the warm sunshine on a cold winter day.

We’re also enjoying the Ken Burns documentary on the United States National Parks (my second time watching) and found this great companion to the show.


We can’t to return to Death Valley this November or December. It’s such an easy drive from Las Vegas, and stopping in Pahrump for dinner on the way back was a treat as well!

White Rock Loop Trail Run

My intention was to write a long descriptive post about how awsum this run was. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to blog, and have now forgotten most of the details.

That’s a good thing, because the sooner I forget how much this run beat me up, the sooner I’ll go out and do it again.

Enjoy the photos!!!