Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Victory- Completing the Fenway Spartan. AROO!!!


Last weekend I raced in the Fenway Spartan and  won another victory in my continuous fight to CRUSH adversity, and deal with the challenges of being a wounded warrior. Racing with me were my family, and Team Red, White, and Blue.I was wearing the Team RWB Eagle and carrying Old Glory the whole way.
 




I am from the Boston area originally, so doing this race was a homecoming of sorts. I graduated from Newton North High School and one of my classmates, Tina, was racing as well. This was her first Spartan and she CRUSHED IT. 

Check out her Spartan post here: http://marathonandsprint.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/a-burpee-for-you-and-a-burpee-for-me/. It was cool knowing another Newton North Tiger was out on the course as well. 

I have successfully completed the Spartan challenge before in Burnette, TX. This race was different from that one since it was in Fenway Park, a baseball stadium and not in the beautiful back country of Texas.  I knew I would not get as muddy as I did in Texas, but knew this would be challenging anyway since in a stadium the only way to run is up.  



Once the race started it proved to be a challenge right away. Event though we were in a stadium we were still crawling under and jumping over obstacles. Old Glory was flying high the whole way,and as the RWB wave hit the obstacles there was great examples of teamwork helping get the flag over the obstacles.  

When we failed obstacles, the penalty was 30 burpees so there was plenty of company in the burpee area. . If you do not know what a burpee is watch this Spartan video: 
 
Crossing the finish line with old Glory was truly an AWESOME feeling. 



As I stated in previous posts, I win every time I cross the finish line. For those that don't agree, I invite you to race with me, or another wounded warrior/Veteran, and find out what is like to be in our shoes, CRUSHING adversity daily. 

I am not racing in another Spartan for a while, but I am looking forward to watching the Spartan Championships on December 7th. Click here for the event page on Facebook

AROO!!! FIRED UP!!!



Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013:Connecting Veterans and Community Members



Over the past few days I have participated in several Veterans Day events. I spoke at a Veterans Recognition event and participated in two WOD for Warriors workouts.

Speaking at the Veterans Recognition ceremony.








WOD for Warriors

For Veterans Day, I spent the morning with some fellow Team RWB members running a fitness session for the employees of PepsiCo in Somers, NY.  




 All these events were about connecting Veterans and community members, which was the subject of my remarks (posted below) at the Veterans Recognition ceremony.


A lot has been said about the divide between the military and the civilian population we protect. This can easily be bridged when community members get involved. When Veterans leave the service, approximately 60% end up in a community different from where they entered the service, and some, but not all Veterans struggle to readjust to civilian life. The mutual trust and interdependence experienced can be difficult to find once they transition.

I subscribe to the notion that if Veterans and community members take part in a shared experience the value of this interaction will benefit both the veteran and the community member. There are numerous organizations supporting Veterans and giving community members a way to get involved. In my off-duty time, I work for one of them, Team Red, White, and Blue (www.teamrwb.org).

Physical fitness and sports are proven ways to bring people together and set the conditions to build meaningful relationships. In our case, they provide Veterans with renewed camaraderie, a sense of purpose, and shared accomplishment. In addition to being an excellent way to connect on a social level, physical activity is proven to be therapeutic and healthy for both the body and mind. By inspiring Veterans and members of their community to become physically active, we create frequent opportunities to establish authentic connections. By increasing the number and quality of personal interactions, Veterans become integrated into their new community, lead richer lives, and improve their overall chances for success in their post-military lives.

For the community member they are more in touch with the Veteran population and more aware of experiences Veterans have faced in defense of this nation. For example if you were to go run with me, a wounded warrior (http://itickwhenirun.com ) , I would share my story with you and you would hear about combat and overcoming adversity. As I shared my stories about combat you would hear about my soldiers and learn about their courage, valor and loyalty.

If you were to get involved and talk to my wife, you would hear about her being by my side when I woke up from surgery holding my hand. You would hear about love and commitment. If you were to get involved with your local chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue you would interact with Veterans, some of whom were wounded in defense of our freedom.  You would see them working together with other community members and learn a lesson about teamwork and resilience.

As you observe Veterans Day this weekend, ask yourself "How will I change the lives of others? " One way is to establish a connection with Americas Veterans individually or through a shared community experience. They will appreciate it and the value to you will be immeasurable.

Happy Veterans Day!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Alive Day WOD- Get Involved

On Tuesday, October 22nd  I had the honor of participating in an “Alive Day” WOD for CPT Ed “Flip” Klein. He was wounded on 22 OCT 2012.  The workout was a celebration of life as participants pushed themselves , CRUSHING IT in honor of Flip (If you would like to make a donation to support the building of Flip's Smart Home follow this link and then scroll down and look for "Edward Klein" https://ourbravest.org).

The workout was as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in 20 min of the following exercises:
20 min AMRAP
20 thrusters (95/135)
20 pull-ups
20 burpees
1 tire "FLIP"
*All exercises can be scaled*





I met Flip this past August at the West Point triathlon. Other than talking to him briefly I did not know much about him. Before we kicked off the WOD , Benjamin Hartig, a classmate and friend of Flip said a few words.




 Ben also shared a few other things with me about Flip and by the end of the WOD I knew a great deal more about him.  And that is the POINT of this post. “Alive Day” WODs are a great way  to connect Veterans and community members. Alive Day workouts can be an event that lets the local community know more about the wounded Veterans that served and live among them.

If you want to get involved with an Alive Day WOD e-mail me at: jonathan.silk@teamrwb.org

Start Strong! Never Quit! Stay FIRED UP!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More COWBELL Please!


The sound of COWBELL was everywhere at the Team RWB Rowathon last Saturday hosted by Crossfit Tritown in Monroe, Connecticut.  Throughout the competition participants rang cowbells to motivate their teams and others.





A total of 67 participants formed 9 relay teams that rowed 50,000 meters each. The Rowathon was a great event that brought together Active Duty service members, Veterans, and community members  for a great cause.







Rowing 50,000 meters is no small feat. As rowers dropped the hammer and neared the finished the cowbells were.back. When teams completed the relay they gathered around the other teams and cheered them on.  One Crossfit TriTown member said “My biggest accomplishment was surviving the Rowathon and completing a 5k this past weekend.” 






The event left its mark on the participants in other ways. I tick when I run and also when I row. Many participants heard me ticking during the event and inquired about it. Sharing my story with them reinforced that Wounded Warriors are Warriors and not victims.

Team RWB recently posted this challenge “We all have the opportunity to leave our mark in some way---how are YOU leaving your mark?”    I know I left my mark at  Crossfit TriTown this weekend as did the rest of my Team RWB teammates.







 Looking forward to the next event. FIRED UP!!!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Wearing The Eagle at the Fenway Spartan- AROO!!


I am FIRED UP for the Fenway Spartan Race coming up in November. I will be representing Team Red, White, and Blue, an organization focused on enriching the lives of America's Veterans. I am a Wounded Warrior and finishing this race with Old Glory and yelling “AROOO”  will be yet another opportunity to show the world that Wounded Warriors are ‘Warriors” and not victims.  Events like this are  mini-crucible events. I come out a better person for having faced the challenge.




My family is FIRED UP as well. This will be our third Spartan. The first one was in Burnett, Texas in 2012, followed by another this past June in Tuxedo Ridge, New York.

 We can’t wait to be at the starting line again listening to the crowd yell “I am a Spartan”
 
The best part of signing up for this race so far has been the functional fitness workouts we have been doing together as a family. We have been flipping tires (click here for video) as well as lifting and moving other heavy things. I have always emphasized physical fitness with my family, but more so since recovering from my injuries I received when I was in Iraq in 2004.



 Green Monster here we come. AROO!! IT'S OUR TURN!!!



Monday, September 23, 2013

By Dawns Early Light








Last week over 30 members of Team RWB-West Point  and Black & Gold Crossfit, two groups  who share a passion for physical fitness, community and leadership, came together for a CRUSH IT workout at West Point.



The workout was a challenging one. As many rounds as possible in 30 minutes:
15 Partner assisted leg throws
30 Air Squats
15 Kettle Bell swings
1/4 Mile partner run with a 45lb bumper plate

The group split up among the four stations and  the workout started with the blast of a horn. The teams ran station to station carrying American flags, the stars leading the way. 



Workout sessions such as this are an example of how a shared experience can bring two groups together for one purpose, to enrich the lives of America’s Veterans.  FIRED UP!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Inspiring Others To Get ACTIVE


One of the things that gets me FIRED UP about working with Team RWB is the opportunities to conduct Veteran outreach events and interact with Veterans and community members in the area. Yesterday I got to workout with a group of Veterans and community members in Carmel, NY. There were Veterans and community members of all ages. 




The workout was a circuit consisting of several functional fitness stations with various pieces of equipment (slamballs, weight sled, medicine balls, etc..). At first glance this type of workout can be intimidating, especially to people who have not been physically active in a while.  Before the workout started I gave a few remarks and stressed that “if you can move or walk you can be an athlete.” That message had an energizing effect on the group because it removed a potential obstacle to participation. The workout went great and team members were encouraging each other and cheering as they rotated between stations.



Being physically active does not mean being an elite athlete. From my perspective as a wounded warrior, and from having several friends whose combat related injuries have placed physical limitations on them; I believe if a person can move/walk they can be an athlete. If that is walking around the block than so be it. As long as they are challenging the baggage, and making changes not excuses they will improve, which will influence and inspire others to get active.  And that is exactly what happened during this workout. 



In the picture above,me and another team member are standing with Vietnam Veteran and Silver Star recipient Karl Rohde. Karl was pretty FIRED UP after the event, and is looking forward to getting active and working out with the team next month.  Talking to Karl and the other Veterans reminded me of the letter General Jonathan Wainwright sent to soldiers getting out of the Army after their service during World War II (Read the letter here) His charge to them “Start being a leader as soon as you put on your civilian clothes."

FIRED UP!!!!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Make Changes Not Excuses - Challenge The Baggage






Last weekend I raced in the West Point Triathlon as a father-son relay team. It was inspirational seeing the teamwork in action as Team RWB members from six different chapters.




What really got me FIRED UP was being in the company of fellow wounded/disabled warriors . These great Americans were out CRUSHING IT with other triathletes despite their injuries.





Wounded/disabled warriors like myself have to deal with the baggage of our injuries. That is where the  power of team comes in to play and organizations like Team Red, White, and Blue empower veterans whether wounded/disabled or not, to make changes not excuses. As a wounded warrior I learned to challenge the baggage I had from being wounded with the support of family and friends.



Racing with other wounded/disabled warriors is source of energy and inspiration. I am looking forward to my next race.

Keep Fighting! Never Quit!

 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Make Every Second Count! A Wounded Warriors Advice for the Boston Bombing Victims


I recently visited the site of the Boston Bombing  and also read this article on Wounded Warriors inspiring victims of the attack.  This caused me to reflect on my journey as a wounded warrior since I started my road to recovery over 8 years ago and ask myself “ What advice can I offer the victims?”

Reflecting on my experience, I remember at first feeling sorry for myself, feeling very angry, and generally having a poor attitude. But then I came to the realization that it was up to me to recover. My friends and family would help me along the way but ultimately it was up to me.

I came to realize that I wasting time with all the negative energy and that was a turning point. I realized every second counts!

My friend Mike Erwin recently shared this Jim Valvano quote “There are 86,400 SECONDS in a day. IT”S UP TO YOU to decide what to do with them”



Recently I spent 2,700 seconds working out with the local Team RWB chapter. In fact, I spend between 2,500 and 3600 seconds every day working out. Physical fitness is one of the best ways to turn negative energy into positive energy which will have appositive impact on those around you.

So my advice to the victims of the Boston Bombing is to make every second count.

Keep Fighting! Never Quit!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

“Yep, that is me ticking!”


I was recently working out with a couple of friends and during a break between rounds one of my friends who is not familiar with my wounded warrior story asked me “Is there a ticking coming from you?”  I laughed and said “ Yep, that is me ticking!” I proceeded to share with him howI was wounded,  and despite the bleak outlook from the medical team, how I recovered and beat the odds both continuing to serve in the Army and continue participating in endurance sports.



I also shared with him  (which is the purpose of this post) that I had some dark days but ultimately I knew it was up to me to recover  and get back on my feet. In combat I took the hit and got back up on my feet to continue the fight, I had to do the same to recover and continue to live life.  Through the support of my family, friends and community I was able to get on the road to recovery and get active again.



And that is really the power of the non-profit organization I support now, Team Red, White,and Blue. They focus on connecting veterans to fellow veterans & members of their respective community through physical activity. I do not swim, bike, or run nearly as fast as I use to before I was wounded, but with team members like these it does not matter, it is all about finishing and if you finish you win.

Keep Fighting! Never Give Up!!!