Sunday, February 28, 2010

Some week ending pictures

Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin' a song
Nothin' but bluebirds all day long

Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things goin' so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothin' but blue skies from now on
(Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see)


Well 4 weeks down and to be honest it has gone really fast. I have to say goodbye to some really good friends that arrived the same day as I did and have helped drag, push and support me. So all my best to Colleen, Corinne, and Darlene. I am certainly proud of all of you. Best wishes taking all this fun stuff you learned home, you guys will be missed by lots more people than just me. And also a huge shout out to Katee who is wrapping up a trip here that began before Christmas. The boys at Oral Roberts University are in for a real pleasant surprise.

I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a few of the Biggest Loser contestants here at the ridge. Again I am not a big fan of the show, more diet, more exercise and way less drama would work much better for me, but hey I'm watching college basketball most every Tuesday night anyway. But for the record of all the contestants I have met, this one is the funniest. She was 3rd place in season 2, but won a pretty big prize marrying the winner Matt Hoover. They have all been really nice to me, and they are no different than any other campers in that they all struggle, they just do it on a much, much bigger stage. Thanks Suzy you made the week much more fun

I'm a little out of order here with the pictures but hey who cares. Another dose of Saturday night sober karaoke. To me this is a blast and I actually have come to realize I pretty much stink, but I don't give a damn. Here's Cherise and I doing Ain't No Mountain High Enough For the record one of us was way closer to Tammie Terrill than the other was to Marvin Gaye. Talk about What's Going On. Marvin rolling over in his grave that's what's going on.

Here's a shot of the Fab Four doing All You Need is Love. I have dragged some unwilling campers on their first hikes, and I have taken people up climbs they wanted no part of, but none of that was as hard as convincing Darlene and Merinda to come up and sing with us.

We had a little outing Friday night as 15 of us went to see Colbie Caillat in concert in downtown
St George at Dixie State College. It was a really good crowd easily over 1,000 people. I'll give Colbie some credit as well. Her show while really similar to the one I saw in Madison in December but better. She played longer and picked up the guitar and ukulele. It was a really good time. Quite a few yawns in the mix by 10pm, but still I think everyone was glad they went.

Michelle and Jerica after rocking it up to the stop sign Saturday morning. Michelle sporting her shirt from the previous nights show.I spent Saturday morning in the Mormon church for the third time in a row. Well the gym in the church. Nothing on this trip has made me feel as good as playing hoops. Not the faster time on the stop sign, not the long slots hike, not the bike riding, and not the faster times on the treadmill. But coming off a screen, squaring up from 22 feet, and dropping in a jumper really reminds me of being in my 20's. Doing it with Eric or Trevor trying to guard me makes it even more fun.

Sometimes when I am here I totally forget to take in the sights. I get used to them and they just become background. But every once in awhile I see something so breathtaking that I pause. This overlook never fails to disappoint. My shorts look a little big as well so no complaints.

Friday we did a really fun hike. I had done the components of it before but never all of them at once. We did Johnson's Arch, Jenny's Canyon, Pioneer Names, and Galoot. As you can tell by the picture your blog host and double digit women. No shock there. It is really cool with the hike to Johnson's Arch being the coolest part. It was my first ever off road hike way back in the day. It's funny I went by myself that day made it all the way to the back but never saw the arch. This time someone said look up and that it was. This trail closes soon as it is where the falcons like to get busy and they are private creatures :)

Denise, sweaty ass Terp fan, and Cherise. Congrats to Denise for accepting the challenge and doing her first off road hike on her last day. And then of course shame on Denise for listening to me when i said it would be really easy with no problems. She had an awesome first 99% of the hike. She got dragged to stop sign on film her first day and progressed so well in her stay. Another great Ridge success story.

Here we are on the summit of Galoot Hill. It's a little fall if you go off this. No one went over the side thankfully. Denise took a little fall near the edge but Darlene plucked back. A little bruise on the knee and a few expletives preceding my name and she was back to good. It wasn't so good for one of our hikers on the other hike. one bad step, one little tumble, and a trip in the ambulance with a broken ankle. In my 24 weeks it was the most serious injury I have seen here. It could have been any of us, the terrain can be tricky and unforgiving but again next to no real injuries in my 6 months here.

Sometimes you leave the Ridge for awhile and come back and there is a surprise waiting for you. No not that..come on.... Meet Talon he is the grandson of Denae who is the guest services manager here. And Denae is way too young and way, way too young looking to be a grandmom. Talon's mom and dad joined in the fun at karaoke. And since it was sober karaoke they trusted me to hold him for a few moments. Best wishes to Mom and Dad and Grandmom.

On to week number 5, more biking for sure, more hoops, stop sign Monday, Mountain sprints, pink noodles and black swimsuits in the pool class, a trip to Dixie State to watch a basketball game, swimming laps at the in-town pool, another 1,000 medicine ball sit ups, treadmill running, a much needed hair cut, two old friends coming to the ridge, bowling Saturday night, and of course, much closer to fun in Vegas. A huge smile from my Terps that have one five straight games including a Saturday night 104-100 double overtime win at Virginia Tech. This trip has been full of magic and really the magic has only begun. Terps get Duke at home Wednesday night in a battle for first place. A special thank you to Linda M from where the turf meets the surf in San Diego. She reached deep into the classic tune bag for a song I always associate with Sinatra. Linda is the Queen of the Avocado ranchers, a consumate horsewoman, and another person who will be looking at her watch and waiting for me to finish the triathlon after she has finished. Can't wait for that. Little surprised she didn't grab a song from her really good friend Cher. I hope everyone has an awesome week. 2 more weeks on campus for me. Wow time flies. Peace and Love, Jim

Thursday, February 25, 2010


She's got a way of talkin'
I don't know why it is
But it lifts me up when we are walkin' anywhere

She comes to me when I'm feelin' down
Inspires me without a sound
Billy Joel

So I am almost done with week four of this trip and it really seems to me that many of the people here have chosen 4 weeks as their stay time. Which is not to say that there are no one or two weekers, there's plenty. It's just that people are always asking me how the program has changed since the name change and one of the examples I say is the guests seem to be staying for longer times. There are a couple other changes I have seen with, to me, the most prominent being that each week there are almost no guests that have previously done the program. The Ridge loves to quote it's 50% return rate and I am sure many of these guests will return at some point, but I think there was maybe 3 people out 65 this week that were not on there first trip to the ridge. You are also seeing more people staying for over ten weeks which is close to unfathomable to me. And you are seeing less "whales" and more people that emptied their savings or used 3 credit cards to pay for this because they felt they needed this place. And whales are not bigger people they are people with bigger wallets much, much bigger wallets.

Spent more time this week working on my triathlon prep. Here is a picture of the sand hollow pool lanes where we start the race. I wish I was going to be in this pool for a longer segment on race day. I originally thought the swim segment was around 800 meters but I have come to find out that it is .5 K which translates into 16 lengths of the pool. I swam the full course in around 11 minutes this week. My goal is to complete the full segment including the changeover onto the bike in under 10 minutes. I had hoped to open a little lead over some of my competition here but the few minutes I may gain will evaporate quickly over the next two legs. I saw the bike course as well. Not very hilly by any definition. 2 moderate hills on the way out and one bigger hill on the way back.

This is Jane and Jen both of whom were here in the fall when I was here. Jen is on the staff right here and Jane has taken herself to beautiful Appleton, WI. I am so proud of both of them. They have done more since leaving here than most all of the guests I have known.

Friday night is here and 15 of us are going to see Colbie Caillat in concert in town here at Dixie St. College. Should be a really fun town trip. A few people were like I shouldn't go I will want to have a few beers at the concert :) Ah... yes.... this is Utah, they will not be having special 44 0z. colbie cups of beer at the show. Now if you read further back I did see Colbie in Madison and was a bit underwhelmed by the show but it was mostly because I had seen Bruce right before her and frankly following that performance was not possible. Also when searching for fun in St George anything that could possibly be fun and not involve food or booze is a welcome addition to life here.

Speaking of sober fun in Utah, tomorrow night is once again sober karaoke. Got a couple duets lined up to hide my singing voice. A shout out to my new friend from San Diego, Michelle who looked like she had swallowed poison yesterday when trying the mushroom soup. Just one of the many things that makes me laugh when I'm here is watching the people try the different foods. You are so damn hungry that the thought of not eating everything is sacrilege but then you swallow some beet soup and think I'd rather die than do that again. Then later you will be sitting around talking about the food, because that's what we do here, talk about food a lot, and someone will say how much they loved the beet soup. One thing we all agree on though is the chocolate strawberries everybody loves those. Have a great week Peace and lots of Bubbly Love, Jim

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Measuring Achievments

Life doesn't wait for us to get it right, day after night,
It just goes on, when it goes wrong it goes and then it's gone
So I'm going to do my best to make the most of it, avoid regrets

Take a breath, realize, time is irreversible,
This aint no dress rehearsal

Carolyn Dawn Johnson

For those of you reading this that attended the Ridge back in the pre-biggest loser days I thought you may enjoy this picture of what the Monday morning stop sign hike now looks like. Between the campers and the guides I think we put close to 80 people on the trail. A far cry from back in the day when 20 was a big number. Speaking of back in the day It has now been exactly two years since I walked onto the Fitness Ridge campus for the first time.

This my friend Joyce, She has been at the Ridge for I believe 18 weeks and we walked together on the stop sign hike on monday. It was the coldest day since I have been here and just for fun the rain from the night before had frozen in a few spots on the trail. It was a nasty walk. And when we got to the small stop sign and started to head up I decided to talk Joyce into climbing up Galoot rock. 18 weeks and her first off road climbing adventure, I was happy to be there when she reached the summit. So I did not do the full stop sign hike but I felt awfully good that I could share a new experience with a fellow camper. Not all achievements are measured against the stopwatch heading up the hill and in fact it is much better and rewarding to measure them by the smiles they produce and the satisfaction they create.
Tami one of the principal owners of the Ridge has been hiking and doing classes all week and joined us for the hike monday. And for the record it was the first time I broke out the sweatpants for a walk up the hill. One thing about getting so many pictures with girls is I almost always look really tall :)

Here's a picture of Suzy Hoover from season two of the Biggest Loser. Not only is her sweatshirt funny and appropriate she is extremely funny and friendly as are most of the people here. Speaking of shutting up and sweating I guess I may have felt a little guilty for not pushing myself that hard in the morning or perhaps it is that I am an idiot but I did 500 single arm 12 lb medicine ball sit-ups on Monday afternoon. My last personal best was 300 and my abs are feeling way sore today. I swear there is a six pack in there somewhere.
Tuesday I got into the pool that hosts the swim for the triathlon. It was a little cooler than I expected but not too bad. I banged out the whole swim without much of a problem. Need to work on my turns and improving my speed. Knocked out 4.1 miles on the treadmill in the afternoon. I feel pretty good, a little sore, but no major aches. I do have an unusual craving for lobster for some reason. I believe this stems from the tales of joy in Vegas I have been hearing from some of my fellow campers. Shout out to Marissa from Southern Virginia for today's blog song. She has been here two separate times while I have been here but sadly not this trip. And she was my personal water mule on many of my big hikes last fall hauling my water bottle up the hill for me. Hope everyone's day is warm and dry. Peace, Jim

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Around You

It's a beautiful mornin' ahhh
I think I'll go outside a while
An jus' smile
Just take in some clean fresh air boy
Ain't no sense in stayin' inside
If the weather's fine an' you got the time
It's your chance to wake up and plan another brand new day
Either way
It's a beautiful mornin' ahhh
The Rascals

Unlike the song above the weekend in St George was fairly nasty weather wise with rain and snow and wind. And while I plan to go outside and take a walk this morning I think a beautiful morning is a bit of stretch. It was a pretty chill weekend here in southern Utah. Got to meet the new campers, had to say goodbye to some old favorites and ventured back into the Mormon church for a second week where I did just what I did the week before curse more than your average church goer and shoot more baskets than your average church goer as well.

I am really starting to adore my Saturday mornings here. Not only do I get to miss the stop sign hike that many of the campers do I get to play basketball. And yes my true love is volleyball but make no mistake growing up I was head over heels in love with hoops. A lot of my best youth sport memories came from playing hoops and it's just fun again and we all know Jimmy loves himself some fun.

Speaking of fun and basketball, this pretty much sealed Saturday being as good as it gets for me.
I used to think that St George was pretty much cursed when it came to me watching Terp games but apparently that curse was lifted. Must be all that cleansing in the church gymnasium.

Saturday night was graduation and movie night. The movie was Valentine's Day and while going to a chick flick would have completed my transformation from Friday, I had to put my foot down and say no can do. I do think around 20 people made the trip to the movie. I got a little sidetracked with the campers in this picture and found some live music in town. Now I would love to tell you that I discovered some fabulous new band in Utah but truth is they really sucked. But it was fun to see them, shoot a little pool, and hang with some good friends. And I happen to really like this picture as well.

Today's blog song comes courtesy of of one of my truly best friends in the world and without a doubt my all time favorite teacher, wonderful trivia teammate, and one of the few that shares my passion for college basketball, Paul Schwartz. Of the many wonderful things that have happened to me in the last few years, near the top of the list is reconnecting with Paul, my high school English teacher, after not knowing where the other was for close to 20 years. All this creative blogging I do can be traced to his English teachings. I know he is laughing when he reads that. Just for you Paul. Go Mount St Marys, Go Wisconsin Badgers, and Go Terps!!! And for the record A Girl Like You is my favorite Rascals' tune.

Sunday was as it always is. Hard on me. I did pass on a chance to make a day trip to Vegas with many of the people pictured above. I'm trying to avoid that place on weekends this trip. I took the whole day off from exercising which was needed. My knee really cooperated with me Saturday and feels back to its normal level of slight discomfort and not the uber-post slots hike level. It's all good from a soreness level and no major pains to report. After stop sign I am headed to the big pool in town to work on triathlon swim. Check the course for the bike and run and start to build a transition strategy for the changeovers. Thanks to Tiffany for helping me out here. Not quite ready to rip off 30 miles on the bike, but confident ten miles is coming soon. I hope everyone has a wonderful week and send me some sunshine I am running low. Peace, Jim

Friday, February 19, 2010

Slots for the 3rd Time

But when I feel like giving up
And I'm ready to walk away
In the stillness, I can hear
A voice inside me say

Do something
Do something
It's too late for saving face
Don't just stand there takin' up space
Why don't you do something?
Do something
It's not over
No, it's never too late

The Eagles
Got up Friday morning after the quick trip to Vegas convinced I would find a nice easy hike to get me to the weekend. I was wrong; really, really wrong. I let my friends talk me into doing slots again. I know you are thinking that I have done this hike a couple times and it can't really be that hard if I am willing to get on the horse for a third time because that reverse white rocks I will never do again. I learned that my first two trips out to Slots were merely the bunny slope version of the hike, today I was getting the Olympic Downhill version. It started as with all the slots adventure with a sharp descent into the canyon. Me and my ten fellow campers ( all women, I know shocking) caught a beautiful 55 degree morning for the hike. The sun was shining and it was truly a chamber of commerce perfect February post card kind of day.

Here is the happy group of campers in the first of our "slot canyons" Now, Jimbo is not really a big fan of tight confining spaces but after passing on heading into this canyon the first two times I hopped in and got a picture with the merry band of hikers.The back 6 were already positioned on the ledge when i walked in so rather than obscure the whole bunch I figured I would stand just to their side. Still a pretty cool picture. Now would be a good time to talk about the women at the ridge. They have pretty much emasculated me to the point that I'm not sure they recognize or even care that I am guy anymore. Just one of the happy bunch of girls wandering the desert. Because they don't care one bit what they say around me. I could pass any quiz on tips to avoid cramps, the best mascara and yesterday learned that one of my fellow campers was happy to share her perfect techniques for satisfying her hubby with the rest of the girls. Lord help me. Really??.... just for the record girls when us boys get together our discussions are sports and boobs that's it , that's the whole list. The discussions we have about pleasing our women involve handing you guys an American Express card and turning you loose. Get me to mid-March :)
Back to my day at Slots. Huge shout out to Merinda, not only did she run me in at the stop sign Monday, she slowed her pace down a bit today to hang with us turtles in back of the pack. We hit Wedding Rock at around 10 am. My first time this deep into the hike. I know there is a story behind the naming of this rock, wedding rock but no one seems to know for sure what it is. I assume I don't have 10 new common law wives but this being Utah who knows. The picture on top, of me and the peace sign, is on top of the rock. The drop off behind me is literally the biggest I have backed up to. Not scary if you can stand without falling over but it certainly makes you realize that there is some fragility to life as falling there would be awfully bad. In fact a misstep there and it wouldn't be Slots hike it would be the "Let's go see where Jim bought it" Hike.
At 10 am I know we are going to be a bit late. We haven't seen the famed "Birth Canal" portion of this hike and had about 25 minutes of more hiking to get there. Now I have had plenty of hiking , know just how far it is to the vans, and am ready to get heading back. Darlene has other ideas. She says "Hey we are this far lets just keep going to the canal" She may as well have stuck a fork in my eye. We get the go ahead from the powers back at the Ridge and I know better than to turn down my fellow girlfriends on their Friday hike.
I don't remember hearing before we continued on that the next 25 minutes would consist of me turning a corner muttering an expletive and then scaling some rock just to turn another corner, utter another expletive and do it again and again, and again, but it did, We made it to the "birth canal" There was no way I was going into that thing. I had heard stories from previous campers of squeezing through that and feeling like they were too big to get through. And these campers looked like I could carry them in my pocket. The thoughts of a rescue squad, the jaws of life, and 6 cases of Vaseline to extricate Jimmy from a hole in a rock was a little too daunting to me. By the way I couldn't decide what I liked better for this picture. I heart Cherise or While many people where their hearts on their sleeve Cherise wears hers on her back. Pick the one you like best.

So we have about a 2.1 mile hike through sand, rocks, up and down climbs and what not to get back to the vans. I need a thesaurus to look up as many words for dread as I can find. I am sore and tired and hungry, really hungry. My 1200 calorie allotment ran out few steps out of the van and my body is not happy. Top it off with a slight new pain in my left knee from an awkward step climbing down and I get to limp home the last 1.5 miles. 4 hours from when we set out, well over 2000 calories burned, shoes full of sand, aching feet, pain in my stomach, an ice pack on my knee and a hat I have wrung sweat out of 3 times; I am damn happy to get in the van. That was one long-ass challenging hike. By far the longest hardest thing I have done in probably my life but certainly at the ridge

Got back in time to have the 180 calorie Caesar salad for lunch. My stomach was like are you freaking kidding me? Protein and fat please. I also got to hear the girl across from me, who had been doing advanced hikes this week, say she thought the hike was slow and okay but not that hard. She wasn't happy with the look I gave her and would have been a whole lot unhappier if she could have read my mind. The truth is I wanted to trot her over to the weight bench and challenge her to do medicine ball sit ups until one of us puked and then clean her puke up with her own hair. But I smiled and said I hope I didn't slow you down too much.

Really cool day, but I can promise you that today will be like Christmas Morning compared to that as I am heading out for some Saturday morning basketball. That is, of course, without actually having gotten out of bed today and putting weight on my knee or checking the puffy achy toe on my foot. Speaking of those two maladies, they kept me from dancing on Friday afternoon. Disco-cardio jam next week I swear. Speaking of music, my thanks, to the blog reader who is probably reading from the furthest spot distance wise from me, Thanks Becky for today's blog song from one of my favorite bands ever. Becky Wong is a wonderful friend residing in Hong Kong. I will never forget singing along in the pool on her trip to the Ridge. And she never accused me of singing poorly to make others feel better. Thanks Rebecca !!! I hope everyone has an awesome weekend. Peace and Love, Jim

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sprintsaurus Class

Hold me close
You turn nighttime into day
And you're the most
Brightest star that lights my way

So come home to me now
'Cause it won't matter anyhow
I've got this feeling that today's the day

Well almost through three weeks, and made a quick trip down to Vegas today to drop off Jacky for her return to winter. Don't cry too hard for her as she does have a trip to Hawai'i coming up in two months. The best thing I can say about this week is that I am running more and more each day. Running on the stop sign hike, running at morning sprints, and running on the treadmill. I also, of course, enjoyed having Mrs T. around and she impressed in class each day, but she was ready to be done on Wednesday. Wanted to give a huge shout out to Brandi who has been doing well and keeping a fabulous blog of her journey. I'm sharing her blog with you guys because it is so well done. Enjoy

Here is my morning sprint club. Josh, Eric, Myself, And Trevor. I can't really explain just how hard these things are.
Perhaps the picture on my face below will give you a clue. But I will say that it sure helps to have some workout partners to pull me up that hill. This will be a twice weekly adventure for the next 6 weeks. We even added Renee to this morning's runs as she picked an inopportune time to jog on by. And, in fact, consider this a challenge to anyone else around, you are welcome to join us in the fun every Tuesday and Thursday at 7am on the mountain.

I'm not going to tell you whether this was a staggered start or if Renee has some serious sprinter speed but lets just say it may have been a combination of the two.

My brother Jay, Jacky and I in Vegas today. Both of them flying out in the next 12 hours. And it will be 3 weeks until I get some more sunshine when my friends arrive in Vegas. Speaking of hoops don't look now but my Terps are playing great basketball and need one more win to lock up an NCAA bid. Hopefully it comes on Saturday. I have a fairly mellow weekend planned. More hoops and bike riding on Saturday. I knocked out multiple miles yesterday on the bike and even got out in traffic. Off road hiking tomorrow in the AM although not sure exactly which hike yet. The Saturday post graduation activity this week is a movie and I don't know yet if I will attend but probably not. I am planning an outing for next Friday as I have roped a handful of campers into going to see Colbie Caillat in concert next Friday in St. George. Should be fun. That's all that's new here at the Ridge. Have a great Friday Peace and Love, Jim

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Caution Nature Pictures

As I was walking through a life one morning
the sun was out, the air was warm, but
Oh, I was cold
And though I must have looked half a person,
to tell the tale, in my own version,
It was only then that I felt whole

Do you believe in something beautiful?
Then get up and be it
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists

There is a tale told around these parts, mostly by the old timers, of an elusive creature known to locals as the sprintsaurus. They say it's part man, part beast and it can be seen on rare mornings when the sun is just sneaking out from behind the mountain peaks. Some say the sound the creature makes scares them; almost like a giant tuna being slapped against the cement as the gasping sound of its air filled gills scream out in pain. Lately the locals have spoken in hushed tones as it appears that the sprintsaurus has some how morphed into two creatures the second bigger, scarier, and sweatier than the first. I set out one morning with my special time lapse camera hoping to photograph the creature. I was able to capture the smaller, quicker of the two. The larger more hideous sprintsaurus was bent over spewing some sort of liquid from its mouth as it went through a strange ritual where it appeared to run/spasm violently up a hill only to slow to a crawl turn around and repeat the process again and again. It was quite a sight to behold and one the locals thought they would never see. Through the magic of film I share these photos with you:

Have I mentioned that Eric and I have added sprint work to our tri preparation. Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7 am we hike out about 3/4's of a mile to the first mini peak on the stop sign hike. We go down the hill approximately 125 yards and turn around and sprint up the hill.
We do this 7-10 times and then meander back down to the parking lot crossing paths with the Ridge hikers heading out to stop sign. Its a damn good workout and should help in my prep for the triathlon and more importantly in my prep to look good when my friends roll into Vegas in Mid-March.

Monday's stop sign hike was a lot different than the previous weeks without the cameras following me up and with music blasting in my ears the whole way up. Jacky and I were the last people to actually cross the start line which isn't all that strange for me. Nice, I'll just spot the field 45 seconds because my time is irrelevant. One thing about these bigger groups is it's like a stampede of people taking off at the beginning. Secondly, if I choose to run I am going to pass quite a few people. On the list of things I don't like to do passing people on the hill is one of them. Mostly because I think it has to suck for them to see me go by. I get over it and a lot of them reel me in later in the hike as I slow on the steep incline. I had two goals, be on that road in faster than 58 minutes and two knock some time off my last week's ascent. I walked, I ran, I jogged, I walked, I tried to jog I slowed down, I tried to get the idea. About a mile and a half in Jacky went by me. Cold off the street, with a few yoga classes, and some dog walks under her belt as training, she goes up the mountain in 1:18. Me, almost two years to the day since my first trip from the starting line and at 1:18 I am still a mile out on the hill. But the good news is I am ahead of my best pace ever. And I am only competing against myself, well that and everyone behind me :) I struggle like I always do, no surprise there. I look at my favorite last rock on the left where I always put my butt down and rest and I say. screw it no stopping for you this trip. For the first time ever I will go the whole trip without setting my ass down on a bench or rock. That's something anyway. I go into my last 3 song rotation You Wreck Me, Born to Run, and Running on Empty. Put my head down, get 100 yards out, the lovely Merinda runs with me across the finish line and I cross the tape in a dawdling 1:44:55. Thanks M~ for helping me finish. My time 11 minutes faster than last week. Still slower than most, but at the same time over an hour faster than my first trip and within the possible neighborhood of my goal which is 1:30. We shall see, again me and running and climbing is not the perfect match but we are trying to work it out.

Hopefully that story will get you through a couple days. I take Jacky down to Vegas tomorrow where she will get to use that impressive speed to walk a trade show. I will turn around and come back and continue this spring journey with only 22 days til march happiness and 44 days until the sprint triathlon. Time to get serious on the bike. A special thanks to my good friend and crazy waffle trivia teammate Jon Tanke for today's lyrics. I know he is ecstatic that the blog song band is heading to Madison shortly. Speaking of happy music news I hear a new cd from my favorite Sara Bareilles is on its way shortly.....can't wait. Peace and I will write you a love song, Jim

Sing to Me

well we know where we're going, but we don't know where we've been
and we know what we're knowing, but we can't say what we've seen
and we're not little children, and we know what we want
and the future is certain, give us time to work it out
The Talking Heads
I wanted to wrap up the weekend for you guys and in fact did so, went to publish it, and watched it drift off into cyberspace never to be seen again :( Saturday night's really been upgraded with a weekly outing and a fun graduation ceremony. This past Saturday was the longest yet and included someone reading a long poem they transcribed and many other emotional talks by departing guests. This week it was followed by a round of sober karaoke

Cherise got the party started and not only did she break out her GLEE shirt, she sang so well that she could walk onto the show tomorrow. And of course a very special thank you for her breaking out a little Ingrid Michaelson for me. I broke out the Beach Boys, some Janis, Sonny and Cher, Looking Glass, and the Olivia Newton John -John Travolta duet.

I, and really every other guest, need to give a huge thank you to Jim Simon a guest in the early fall. He reached into his own pocket and paid for the first ever Fitness Ridge Karaoke night and showed the staff that having fun can be an important part of the program. Jen and I were guests back then, and so we broke out Me and Bobby McGee just like we did that first time. I'm sure Janis rolled over in her grave again. My favorite question asked of me, Jim did you sing poorly on purpose to make the others feel better? Ah No....That's just me :)

Sunday's as I have talked about many times before are so hard for me. I love the day of rest, I hate having to say goodbye to my new friends. These two girls are two of my all time favorites. Betsey on my right, is my much more attractive much younger twin from another mother. After arriving late due to extra Vegas Super Bowl partying she worked hard and arranged an awesome Friday party for us. Lisa heads back to her gorgeous family after 3 awesome weeks. She pushed me to be better and never missed an opportunity to dunk me in the pool. Her competitiveness fueled me. I hate watching people walk out that door knowing I may never see them again. These two wll cross my path again for sure (hopefully)
"Salisbury Steak" It was tasty for sure but when I saw steak I had something else in mind. Steak does not imply that the meat was once adorned with feathers; it means hooves were carrying it around. It's nice to dream

They have reinstituted dessert every night. This was coconut sorbet or maybe tropical island ice. I am not a big dessert eater , but the dessert, which is usually less than 125 calories, serves as a tasty way to end your day
I spent Valentine's Day in a place I really feel the love, the sports book in Vegas. Jacky was flying in for a few day visit to the the Ridge so I went down a little early that day and got some time watching basketball and the horses. It was wonderful to get Jacky here, so she can experience my life here. She, of course, destroyed me going up the hill but more on that in your next update. Thanks to Melissa Marks for today's blog song, I hope everyone has a great Fat Tuesday although here at the Ridge every Tuesday is Fat Tuesday. Peace and burning down the house Love, Jim

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I've been searching a long time
For someone exactly like you
I've been travelling all around the world
Waiting for you to come through
Someone like you makes it
All worth while
Someone like you keeps
Me satisfied. Someone exactly
Like you

I've been travellin' a hard road
Lookin' for someone exactly like you
I've been carryin' my heavy load
Waiting for the light to come
Shining through
Someone like you makes it
All worth while
Someone like you keeps
Me satisfied. Someone exactly
Like you

I've been doin' some soul searching
To find out where you're at
I've been up and down the highway
In all kinds of foreign lands
Someone like you

I've been all around the world
Marching to the beat of a different
But just lately I have
The best is yet to come
Someone like you
Van Morrison

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone. It's almost two years to the day since I walked into Fitness Ridge for the first time. And while the exterior sign has changed and the name has changed the program itself is still pretty close to what I started that day. Oh I can do it much better and I feel like a completely different person thanks to my time here but just like that first day you still head up to that stop sign and you still do another 5 hours of classes and you still eat those 1200 calories. And the one thing that will never change is how much love and admiration I have for my fellow campers. They never cease to amaze me. They are so inspiring, so soul lifting, so funny and sweet that I feel as if I can never thank them properly for all they mean to me. So on Valentines Day I want to confess my love for all those 100's of people that have stood with me
at the stop sign, in the pool, on the treadmill, on a step, in a lecture, or just hanging out. You are the reason I come back.

I need to wrap up Thursday and Friday and part of Saturday here. First off the weather has really cooperated marvelously these last couple days. So much so that we got the volleyball net out for a spirited game of water volleyball. Everyone will be happy to know that I am working feverishly on my tan. No complaints about the weather at all this trip.

We did the hike called Reverse White Rocks on Friday and by we I mean 15 beautiful women and I. I had done the White Rocks portion of this hike a few times previous, however the reverse part started much further north than I knew. Now I don't want to be a cry baby but this hike made me want to cry. It was obnoxious and mean and long and just not fun to me. I like to climb on these hikes. I do not like walking through sand in a single file line, I do not like staring at my feet, I do not like walking through lava fields where toe grabbing rocks wait to tip you over, and I really don't like doing this for two hours before you start serious climbing. I did, however, like the company and a special shout out to Colleen who is still cursing me for talking her into trying off road hiking for the first time.

Nancy from Reservations has made it out for the last two Friday hikes. She is also signed up for the St George sprint triathlon. Having seen her hike these last two weeks I am quite certain that she will be one of the many waiting on me to arrive at the finish line.

I look surprisingly happy in this picture seeing as I was making a list in my head of people back at the ridge that needed to be punished for not warning me what I was getting myself into with this hike. That's Darlene, whose son is the fullback on the Pitt Panthers football team. I can trade a blog picture for two tickets to the game at Notre Dame if you are interested :) I want to describe the next 15 or so minutes after this picture was taken. I could see piano rock not too far away. I knew that was the final step in this hike. I really love climbing up there and looking down at the path. I think I have been up there three times so far. We came up through a clearing about 75 yards from the base of the ascent to piano rock. Straight ahead was a beautiful site when we came into that clearing, and as my fellow campers began their climb they could hear from behind the one little voice getting smaller saying "screw that I have seen that before" and instead slowly crawling the happy 2 minutes to that wonderful bright white beacon in front of me the Biggest Loser van belonging to one of the other hiking groups. Hello new group you got a hitchhiker. And while I am sure there is a wonderful picture of my group up on piano rock that picture is missing from my blog because I was dumping sand from my shoes and after making my last climb, the best climb of the day, the one into the van.
The warm weather also brought back one of ,y favorite ridge activities. Each day while the first weekers have and afternoon lecture the multi-weekers have an open gym period. Some go to the gym others head down the street a few blocks to the park for some spirited hoops or tennis or in our case both. I hopped on the bike for the 3rd time this week and rode on over. On the street with cars for the first time and one unexpected laughing trip off road into the sand. It's a beautiful well maintained perk and not often do you get the chance to drop in a soft jumper with Red Rock mountains as your background. Here's Betsey the pride of Southern Illinois knocking in that jumper. Not much of a defensive effort from Lisa there :)

Here's the tennis players getting ready to stride onto center court. A thanks to uber-trainer Robin for filling out our doubles competition. She asked if I was a s good in tennis as I was in volleyball I shook my head no and then ripped a passing shot past her backhand. We didn't really keep score but I know that me and the lovely red head spent a lot less time picking up balls than Betsey and Robin on the other side of the net. Speaking of some two on two competition, I spent Saturday morning in a place I had never been before, an LDS church. There are certainly plenty to choose from in the area. But I was the guest of Eric's and we hit the gymnasium at the church for some two on two basketball. We played some horse and then Eric and I took on Trevor and Renee's husband Brent. Before I tell you who won the two games we played, unlike the wicked reverse hike, this exercise session brought a big smile to my face. It felt good, it felt a little like it used to, I heard someone call me quick, my feet left the ground, shots went where they were supposed to, I boxed out, I rebounded, I played defense, I passed to my partner for easy layups, and I could again see myself in a place that I wasn't sure I would ever see again. And for the record Eric and Jim 11-9 in game one and 12-10 in game two. It was about as sweet a feeling as one can get from winning a meaningless Saturday morning pick up game. I hopped into my car and headed to the stop sign to welcome some of the campers to the top where I was so proud of my good friend Lisa who knocked out the hike in 58 minutes. I know she is leaving this week and excited to see her family after 3 weeks here but she will be missed along with the the other 30 or so campers I have to say goodbye to.

I am going to leave you with a couple pictures of the Friday class I have yet to attempt but begrudgingly have now placed on the calendar for this week. DISCO CARDIO JAM. It is going to be a mockingly bad disaster of that I am certain but I owe it to you guys to boogie my way to this class. I hope everyone has a wonderful week. I'm off to Vegas to pick up my Valentine's Day present :) Peace and lots of Cupid's sweet love, Jim

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's like a heat wave burning in my heart

If you were falling, then I would catch you
You need a light, I'd find a match

Cuz I love the way you say good morning
And you take me the way I am

If you are chilly, here take my sweater
Your head is aching; I'll make it better

Cuz I love the way you call me baby
And you take me the way I am

I'd buy you Rogaine when you start losing all your hair
Sew on patches to all you tear

Cuz I love you more than I could ever promise
And you take me the way I am
You take me the way I am
You take me the way I am

Ingrid Michaelson

I want to wrap up the filming with all the post hike ridiculousness. Upon getting back to the ridge the camera crew set up on the grass by the dorms and Katie, Kamy, and I hit balls for around 15 minutes. Thanks to both of these girls for taking the time to do this and for the record they can both really play. It was the one thing I asked the producer not to completely discard. After that it was onto the bike, where they again shadowed me in the van. I rode back and forth a few times hoping that Renee would not drive into me and more likely me lose control of the bike and crash into her.

Next was lunch and for the record eating soup with a camera 4 inches from your face and a boom mike over your head is not my idea of fun. All I could think of was please tell me nothing is hanging out of my nose and don't slurp the soup. I got to sit in a lecture for 30 minutes while they took shots. Afternoon was circuit class where I got in treadmill, medicine ball sit-ups, elliptical, and some free weights. Followed that with step and pump where the thought of me being filmed trying to keep up was very unappealing. When I wasn't being filmed I was bent over gasping. I did get out ten minutes early so they could swim me doing laps to complete the elements of the triathlon. Next was pool class and I had forgotten they were even around. They wrapped up with some late interviews and called it a day at 7pm. They are talking about pushing the air date back to April and filming the tri but we shall see and I will keep you posted on the air date.

So on Tuesday and Wednesday I tried hard to increase my cardio as that is what is going to be the major component of the triathlon. Look if one of the legs was kickboxing I would be spending time doing that but I need to up the running as much as possible. On top of the morning hikes I have been doing an extra 3-5 miles a day on the treadmill doing interval sprints and building stamina. I have also ratcheted up my sit ups knocking out close to 300 yesterday alone. I, of course, have grabbed a few fellow campers to indoctrinate them into this ab work. It's always fun to watch them struggle to do 15 with the 8lb ball and then to do 60 with the 12lb catching and throwing with one hand. I have asked for some bigger balls and hope they arrive soon.

The sun came out yesterday afternoon and this place is even more special when it is beautiful outside. It was only (sorry rest of the country) 60 degrees but it felt delightful, especially after the morning ice had me cancelling walking the path for the treadmill. The paths can get some black ice this time of year and I don't need to be taking a header. Off to run hills this morning with Eric, and then a couple treading interval classes this afternoon. Plus a couple pool classes and some laps. You would think I would be exhausted but I haven't been sleeping well and just think all this work does something to my body and 5 hours of sleep is all I need. Who knows? We did lose a fellow camper on Tuesday for "business" in Vegas and he has been MIA since then and my no weekending in Vegas will blow throw week two this weekend no problem. Want to know why? Saturday night is SOBER KARAOKE!!!!!

I hope everyone has a happy Thursday, it has been a really good week. I am excited and ready to go. Peace and Love, Jim

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You're looking live at beautiful snow canyon park

The secret of love is in opening up your heart
It's okay to feel afraid
But don't let that stand in your way
'cause anyone knows that love is the only road
And since we're only here for a while
Might as well show some style
Give us a smile

Isn't it a lovely ride
Sliding down
Gliding down
Try not to try too hard
It's just a lovely ride
Sweet Baby James Taylor

Well my two days of filming came to an end yesterday and I am happy that my two days of being followed around like a lab rat have come to an end. They must have shot 12 hours of footage and I will wrap up as best I can what the whole experience was like. But first let me give a shout out to Susan Price who sent me a few lyrics and who really nailed a home run picking one of my all time favorite songs by one of my favorite artists. And not to mention even served as one of the two readings at my wedding. ( The other was from Jim Valvano, I guess you could say we went a little more secular than spiritual)
I talked a little bit about Sunday in yesterdays post but here is the whole rundown. They set up in the dining room with the mountains in the background. I was told it was a beautiful background but I never saw the screen. I was miked up with a pack on my belt and sat in a chair with two big white lights shining on me. I got some make up applied to my face, that made me feel oh so pretty, not really. The producer, a very nice, very petite, woman proceeded to ask me a dozen or so questions. They were mostly along the lines of why did I pick the Ridge, what made me think I needed help, my top weight, how much I had lost, my feelings during these periods, how I feel now, the support I have received, what my family thinks of it all, and my experiences at the Ridge.

Here's some answers I gave her. First I was told not to look at the camera look only at the producer which is hard with a camera staring right in your face. I talked about feeling like a failure at life, and the feelings I had at my heaviest. How I felt like I became a minimalist, doing the least possible moving around to get by. I talked about the things I missed out on due to fear and reluctance like games and concerts and traveling. I talked about looking for help and admitting I needed it. Telling my family and receiving their support in many ways. I talked about the feelings I had that I was disappointing my parents and my wife. I said that I realized life was a gift and much too short to waste hating yourself. I told her my message to others was that if you give it the chance the body will change for you, that you can not be afraid to ask people for help, and that it will hurt but it will get better. I said I realized that my journey was still on going, that I had made progress but I had many miles still left to travel. we talked about the triathlon I had coming up and I went out of my way to repeatedly tell her that my inspiration has always been the fellow campers at the ridge. They are my life blood. She asked if I knew that I was inspiring others. I said that I had been told that I was a inspiration by a few people and that while I was reluctant to accept that I was happy if what I was doing was beneficial to others in any small way.

We went from there into my bedroom which thankfully both I and the maids had cleaned up. They tried to do what they call B roll footage and settled on me sitting on the bed watching TV. Hopefully that part lands on the editing floor. That was it for me for Sunday. I spent the rest of the day at my friend Eric's home watching the Super Bowl and trying to food consumption to a relative minimum as the thought of puking on national TV was unappealing to say the least.

Monday morning started just like all the rest with some breakfast. The crew filmed Paige's welcome talk and I got the first taste of how ridiculously close they liked to put the camera and the boom mike. Our vans waited around 15 minutes to let the others who chose not to be filmed get a head start. My group of 30 or so campers had all agreed to be filmed, yet I still felt obligated at days end to apologize to all the first day campers for any intrusion into their normal day. Kamy, one of my favorite hiking guides and friends, was assigned to shadow me the entire way which meant she got to carry my water, a welcome relief. The headphones went on and off we went. I tried to jog some of the bottom part of the path, partly to make the trip quicker and mostly for the benefit if the camera. The crew shot us leaving, hopped in the van and appeared a half mile into the trek. I was stopped to answer some questions and gave answers in between attempting to breathe. The crew appeared another couple times on the path and also shot footage driving up the parallel road. I believe I hit the road at about an hour. The crew had gone up to the top to shoot the first arrivers and so I used the bottom portion of the road to rest for the top part. Lisa, who has been a really good friend this week, hopped out of the van after finishing in a new personal best and helped push me up the hill. They filmed the last quarter mile with me fighting the urge to assume my hands on the knees dripping sweat position.Sharon and I ran the last 50 yards in to a cheering crowd. I turned around and went back 50 yards to walk in with a first day camper, and then invited everyone assembled at the top to get in my stop sign photo. My time was 1:54 but I think they cost me atleast ten minutes with the interviews :)

Let me give thanks to the people who really helped me on todays hike. Kamy, for being my sherpa leading me up that mountain. Sharon who always picks me up when I need it most. Lisa for caring enough to jump out and inspire me, and also for taking some of the pictures you see. First dayer Denise from Massuchusettes, who got sucked into the vortex without asking for it. Both she and I could have been talked into stopping at anytime but we both got there. The happy couple that yelled Sweet Baby James at me and said they loved the blog. I have no idea who you are but you're not at the Ridge, so that was somewhat surreal for me. All the fellow campers who stayed and cheered when we got there and who I proudly stood with at the Stop Sign.

I am running a little short on time this morning so I will try to finish this later tonight for you guys. Heres the happiest sign on the hike for sure. Have a wonderful day and I am back out to the mountain. Peace and TV Love, Jim