Greatness Found

Greatness Found

Yearly Archives: 2017

Greatness Found

After 5 months, 30 cities, 17,000 miles with only 1 message, “why settle for the good when you can go for the great,” we are home in sunny San Diego and back out there enjoying Gut Check classes with our hard working crew. What an absolutely life changing experience this was. We were able to truly see the topography of this great Nation like never before as well as to interact with thousands of motivated individuals during the Good to Great workouts that we hosted in each city on the tour. Contrary to much of the crap that the media spews, from our experience, there are still plenty of hard working fun-loving people out there that like to work hard and sometimes play harder. The theme of the tour was a quote from one of America’s most prolific runners, Steve Prefontaine, and goes, “why settle for the good when you can go for the great.” Trust me, there was no settling for the good out there. Nicole & I would like to THANK our sponsors Road Runner Sports, New Balance, Injinji toesocks and JUCY Campervan for making this amazing journey possible. As well as all the hard working Gut Check team leaders that took care of the HQ crew while we were spreading the love.

 
One more thing, as most of you know, I’m a man that lives by sayings and my wife even keeps a list of Joe-isms, so after going for the great, it’s now time to switch gears to “if it doesn’t challenge then it doesn’t change you.” This past weekend saw a dozen hard working gals complete the 12 Hour Ladies Night Out – 3 Peak Challenge and up next, the 36 Hour Ultimate SUCK, named One of the Most Extreme Fitness Tests in the Nation, followed by the Rabbit Peak trail marathon. I can promise, you join us for one of these events and it will change you why you’re going for the great. Kill two birds with one stone. Hope to see you on the trails.

Death March to the SUCK

Two months and 8,000 miles later we somehow find ourselves halfway through the Good to Great motivational fitness tour and what an absolutely amazing ride that it has been. We’ve been fortunate enough to catch up with numerous old friends, to make countless new friends, to see this amazing country like never before and to ultimately spread our passion for the importance of leading a healthy and fit lifestyle. So rather than bore you with the endless stories that I could share, I’ll try to keep it short because as you can imagine, you collect quite a vast array of adventures in 8,000 miles on the road.

IMG_5752Last I checked in, George, Mike & I were getting ready to attempt the 75th Annual Memorial Bataan Death March on the White Sands Missile Range, NM. All we had to do was run a marathon through the desert, over a mountain while carrying a 35lb., nothing to it right. Needless to say, it was an amazing event and paid tribute to the brave soldiers that were part of the original horrific experience during WWII. Certainly a must do and extremely patriotic. All three of us completed the event with Mike & I walking/stumbling away with 2nd place medals both in our age divisions and George with a top 10 finish in his. Great work from the Gut Check team. Afterwards we headed to our remote campsite to share stories, beers and howl at the moon. My kinda night.

Next stop, Roswell, NM. I do now believe in Aliens as many of the people walking around the visitor center looked to be possible descendants of. Pretty interesting place and crowd with many speaking in languages from Star Wars and humming the theme to Close Encounters of the Third Kind but was able to walk away without any probing which was a good thing. From there, down to Carlsbad Caverns, NM and all we can say is WOW, what an absolutely mind blowing cave, and definitely a must see natural wonder of the world.

5EDE19DC-A1B6-4B7A-8579-9CFA444B45AATexas here we come. Made a stop in San Antonio to see the Alamo and the Board Walk then over to our fave, Austin, TX that’s always keeping it weird. Had to partake in some of the killer Texas BBQ then check out a little music on 6th St. Hit up the amazing Barton Springs for a little dip after a run and Gut Check workout along the river. Over to Galveston to only be able to pull our JUCY Van up on the beach and crash for the night. Very cool experience sleeping next to the ocean just had to watch out for the tide.

Time for the Big Easy. Over to New Orleans or as the locals call it, N’awlins Darlin’. Was able to catch up with many old friends that I knew from my bartending days on Bourbon Street. So much fun. Even had Ryan Kovacs join us for a couple days with a couple outings on Bourbon St. and Nik’s first crawfish boil. Plus her first shrimp po-boy from Verti Marte and a famous burger and baked potato from Port-of-Call. So much great food and good times. Certainly a different city from twenty years ago but always a relaxing and enjoyable adventure. So much food and wine, we need a Gut Check.

Mind you, we’ve been spending the week days staying in remote campsites from San Diego over to New Orleans and after N’awlins, it’s time for the woods, some workouts in Mother Nature and enjoying the landscape. Camped everywhere from the bayou, through the mountains and the forests of southern Mississippi to Alabama with a stop in Birmingham, AL to see our friends Sean and Penny for some R & R, catching up and killer pizza.

Onwards to Atlanta, GA for a little more Good to Great with that Road Runner crew. Hosted two workouts in Atlanta, met some amazing people, plus an incredible organization called Back on My Feet. Check them out if you get a chance as it’s a great cause to get involved with.

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IMG_6214Miami, FL here we come. This was a pleasure only stop to see our Great friends Linda and Greg Diamond that we’ve known for years and actually married us in Italy. Lots of laughs, countless good times and plans for future events then it’s time to get the Good to Great bus on the road to DC for our next stop.

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We had four days to enjoy the beauty of the South from Savannah, GA, to Charleston, SC, Jekyll Island, up through North Carolina to Virginia. Was able to stop in Wilmington, NC to see our Great friends Courtney and Stanley, he’scurrently battling cancer for the 2nd time and kicking it’s butt. This is truly a beautiful part of the country from the cities to the countryside. In South Carolina we were able to eat catfish stew and snake for the first time, and yep, it tastes like chicken.

 

Virginia, where Nik and I  took our first dates years ago to the many wineries and incredible trails like the Appalachian Trail. Had to do a little walk down memory lane and visit both the AT as well as the wineries like our first, Tarara Winery up by Leesburg, VA. With a pit stop to JMU where Nik went to Grad School. Nik’s dad, Rick, who just retired, actually came to join us outside of Charlottesville, VA for a couple days to see what JUCY van camping was all about. More hiking, campfires, wine drinking and memories we’re created. Time to go home Rick.

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Our old stomping grounds, DC here we come. Nik and I both lived in the MD & VA area, Bethesda for about 10 years so as you can imagine, had numerous old friends that we were able to catch up with. A couple more killer workouts in Falls Church and Rockville. Plus, had a reunion like cookout at our friend’s, Brad and Carol Carter. Fantastic evening sharing stories of the past, cackling like hyenas, with plenty of great food, good wine and Cuban Cigars.

Next stop is Cherry Hill, NJ and King of Prussia, NJ. Had old friends from Cuba high school join us and even a couple of crazy guys that had completed the SUCK. Both groups were great to work with and certainly went for the Great. Stayed Sunday with our high school friends, Josh and Darcy Nelson to catch up about Cuba & Lewistown, IL school days which is always so much fun. Oh, but can’t forget the go for the great, as we had to check out an authentic Philly Cheesesteak at Jim’s place on South street. Not low cal but certainly pretty yummy.

Time to head to the Midwest for Nik’s 38th birthday and the next stop on the Good to Great tour, Chicago. Oh, but I’m forgetting a stop in Pittsburgh, PA for one of the famous Primanti Bros. sandwiches made up of, pastrami, coleslaw and French fries on two slices of Italian bread, and yes, it’s that darn tasty. Ok, now to Ft. Wayne, IN to see the family and for Nik to see her girlfriends. A great time was had by all and a wonderful birthday for the princess.

Chicago here we come. More catching up with old friends which never gets old, thank you George and Julie M for the hospitality and Rich for stopping by. Both Chicago workouts were absolutely incredible and the RRS crews did a truly Great job. So wonderful to see our old SD Gut Check members, George & Willow as well as Ang & Omar at the workout plus SUCK competitors Jessie & Jerry in attendance. We were lucky enough to have use of a killer apt downtown on the 44th floor of Eugenie Towers, thanks to Nancy as well as Nik’s sis, Kari that came to join us. Had an incredible 10k run along Lake Shore drive before we left to head back to Ft Wayne then Bloomington, IN to get ready for the Midwest SUCK this weekend. 18358657_10155168820492368_8411037096927547979_o

So here we are, 2 months and 8,000 miles into this adventure with the SUCK in the woods of Brown County this weekend followed by a Gut Check Certification next weekend at my buddy Dorian’s CrossFit 309 in Peoria, IL.

There is so much more to share with all of you but I feel that is best done over a campfire with a glass of wine. I can say this, TRAVEL, it truly will change the way that you look at life, at the things that you hold to be valuable and will ultimately change you. In what way, you have to determine that for yourself but I know that I’m a better man for it. There’s so much out there to see and do but unfortunately with not that much time to do it. Start now. I’ll close this with a quote from Thoreau to give you something to think about, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and many go to the grave with the song still in them.” #goforthegreat

Check out our Fox 5 News DC Interview with Holly Morris

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Going for the Great

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I find it hard to believe that as I write this while sitting in a wine bar in Las Cruces, NM, that my wife, Nicole Decker and I are two weeks into this crazy, awesome and amazing thing called the Good to Great Tour for 4.5 months, 30 cities, 10,000 miles around the Nation all while delivering just one message, “why settle for the good when you can go for the great.”

 

You’re probably asking, “what the heck is the good to great tour and what does it mean?!” Good question. Last October while visiting Australia, we decided to rent a JUCY Camper van and tour the east coast of the country. The goal was to host Gut Check events but also to hold weekend workouts like we do in the States but I wanted a plug a message to get people interested and excited to join us. As someone that continually tries like hell to continually pursue the best that life can be, I thought about the Prefontaine quote, “why settle for the good when you can go for the great.” Boom, there was the message and the title of the tour, the Good to Great.

 

Nik and I had a great time touring the amazing Australia eastern shore board while making new friends along the way. After it as over in November, I thought to myself, why not do the same back home. So I called one of our favorite partners, Road Runner Sports in San Diego, pitched the idea and they loved it. So now we have our sponsorship with RRS as well New Balance plus Injinji toe socks joining the party too. I pitched the locations to my buddy at RRS then drew up the map that you see above. Holy  moly, this thing is becoming reality.

 

17021503_10154952182567368_937851643794479653_nPicked up our JUCY Camper van in LA two weeks ago and we are off. The first stop was the Anza Borrego desert for the West Coast 12 Hour SUCK. Oh, and unlike the first time in JUCY, this time I had done my research and ordered all the coolest gizmos and gadgets from it’s own pop-up tent, an inverter to power Nik’s pet hair dryer, which was for her, to an Aero press to make some killer coffee in the morning. First night in the desert, watched the sunset, the moon rise and the stars shoot, both of us knew this was going to be a pretty epic trip. Side note, it’s truly amazing and refreshing when you realize just how much you do not need to be happy. Life truly is simple when it’s simplified.

 

OK, 30 participants show up on Saturday, ready to kick off 12 hours of what has been named one of the Most Extreme Fitness Tests in the Nation and the SUCKfest is on. Always so impressed with the amazing men and women that join us for this empowering event. Truly gives me hope in humanity that there are still people out there that are motivated to find out and be the best that they can be. At this event, our mantra is, “if it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you.” The West Coast SUCK did just this, with miles, actually over a 50k, of bucket carries, sand bag runs, trail runs, humping a pack up an extremely steep trail, thousands of bodyweight calisthenics and much more. All of this awesomeness finished with a half mile swim in the lovely Salton Sea. Not that’s what I call, “embracing the SUCK.”

 

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Here we go again. Next day we hit the road for the Grand Canyon. Had a couple camping stops along the way. Note, as a country boy and an Infantry Vet, I do not camp where other people do, as I prefer remote locations. As you can imagine, have found some pretty incredible locations. Only been bogged down once.
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Grand Canyon here we are. It’s the Wednesday before my birthday and find out that the Bright Angel to North Kaibab trail is 46 miles round trip, add one more and I’ll get 47 on my 47th as well as hopefully complete the Rim to Rim to Rim epic crossing. 14 hours later filled with awe inspiring vistas, I am done with one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. If you haven’t been there, do not die without giving it a look see. It’s that amazing.

 

Now time to officially kick off the Good to Great tour, #goforthegreat, with our friends at Road Runner Sports at their Tempe and Scottsdale locations. Had a great crew of motivated and hard working individuals show up ready to go for their own great. Just like we do at Gut Check Fitness, was able to find some pretty cool and challenging terrain. Workouts were a hit, everyone loved the New Balance, Injinji, NUUN, Grabbagreen and RRS raffles plus giveaways. Stop one, a huge success, time to get on down the road.

 

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Here we are in Las Cruces, NM as I mentioned above. Time to get the head straight for another bucket list event, the annual Memorial Bataan Death March. All you’ve gotta do is run 26.2 miles with a 35 lb. pack around White Sands, NM. Very happy to have my buddies, Mike and George join me for what’s sure to be an epic event while each of us go for our own great.

If you’ve made it all the way to this part of the blog, thank you for tuning in and taking the time out of your busy day. Also, hope that you’ll stay tuned on this great journey as there’s much more to come. To follow along you can go to our FB page or on Instagram. Hopefully you’ll all continue to constantly strive for your own greatness. Life is short and to be cherished with every sunrise. To finish off, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the Shawshank Redemption, in the words of Andy Dufresne, “get busy living or get busy dying.” Cheers!

 

Join us at our next Road Runner Sports Good to Great Workout in Georgia, April 8th & 9th. REGISTER HERE