Amanda’s Bench

Morgan Shoemaker doing a perfect head stand at Amanda’s Bench in 2017

There is a bench at the Hummingbird and Rocky Peak trail  intersection that my husband put there in honor of our daughter Amanda Shoemaker. 
The bench that was there was falling apart and he asked the Santa Monica Conservancy if he could repair it. From scratch. 
He ordered special wood and sanded, carved and finished it. 
Then we asked for help getting it up the trail and so many people joined in. There were more people than needed but it was more about being part of this really special event.  It was heart warming to be surrounding by so many people wanting to help.

We put something special beneath the bench at the last second.  Next time you hike up, take a peek.  

Now that we are leaving Simi Valley to begin our next adventure we have asked a special person to keep the bench up.  It means they have to visit it off and on to check on how weathered it has become.

We lost Amanda in 2009.  April 28th. 

Her gravesite is Oakwood Memorial Park in Chatsworth.   I don’t know the exact way to tell you where she is resting.  When you pass through the gates you carry on straight over a speed bump.  About 300 yards past the speed bump is a road.  Amanda’s grave marker is in the next field on your left (west side).  There is a bench made of stone and it is above that toward the one tree. Everthing in that area was brand new when Amanda was laid to rest. 

During cooler months we come and sit to think about life and Amanda.  

Every Christmas we decorate too.  

Sarita & Randy v. Linda Taix

Alpha Team Jen Jen Doris and Cory HOVER perfectlyOur entrepreneur plan started off AWFUL.

Backstory: We met on E-Harmony over a decade ago bringing our families together.  Two kids each.

Then there was that time at band camp where we decided to quit our cushy full time 6 figure jobs and open a business that we believed in.  Both of our mother’s were battling cancer (brain and breast) so life with them along with our own children became a top priority.  We were working long hours and pretty much OWNED by our employer.

Both Pat (Randy’s mom) and Mary (Sarita’s mom) pushed us to work hard and believed we could do this on our own…whatever we set our mind out to do.  Both of us have held jobs since we were 14 and in looking back we both gave 110% to whatever the employer asked of us, if not more.  We did not have the courage to jump into the Entrepreneur world individually but as a team we decided to go for it.

That’s when we began 805 Boot Camp.  No, wait, we started as Extreme Boot Camp and thought we would be partners with the owner of Extreme, Linda Taix.

Randy’s mom had already passed on and my mom was on death’s door.  She was able to understand that we’d made the leap and were starting our “own business”.  I am so grateful she loved photography and was with us at our first Street Fair taking photos of our beginning.  I am thankful she was able to see we got on the FRONT PAGE of our local newspaper announcing our camp had begun a fundraiser to fill the Simi Valley Library with the latest Health, Fitness and Nutrition books.  She was extremely proud!

We had two full camp tours when we were called to the Extreme HQ’s to discuss the “agreement” we had signed to go into business with Linda.  She took us out to lunch at a local La Canada steakhouse where she was well known by every person we met.  Seated in a corner booth she told us we needed to “sign some papers”.  It was a contract to be a Franchise.  Thankfully Randy had already had experience with a franchise model and he began reading while Linda and I talked about how great our Simi boot camp was going, the locations and marketing needs and wants we planned.  She smiled, nodded and excitedly agreed with me on most everything.   Then we talked about our Thanksgiving Day boot camp where we raced a relay carrying a frozen turkey.  She explained that she really did like the idea and in the future we’d just need to run it by her before doing anything like that.  I got immediately confused because I actually did not understand what in the world she could be talking about “getting her approval”?

Randy had finished reading over the 3-inch stack of contract paperwork and pushed the binder to me to begin reading.  I did not listen to their conversation, I read…every word.  I have this irritating (to the sales person) habit of reading every word in every single document I’m supposed to sign after making some dumb moves trusting people when I was the General Manager at Panda Software.

I hit the section about costs and compensation.  There was a $35,000 amount due to have the franchise.  I interrupted Randy and Linda and asked about this $35K, “what does the $35K buy?”  You see, at this point in time, EBC was a giant boot camp in La Canada California – known only by the local community.  ZERO marketing or public relations had happened to make this business model known by Linda (or anyone she hired).  While I, on the other hand, began writing for the local paper, sending press releases out on updates and covering our fundraising and community involvement with photos.  As of our 2nd camp I had a website created (because Linda could not or would not) and we’d done newspaper ads (which I created using PAINT!!), mailers and we walked business to business MEETING people in our fatigues and announcing our program. So, when I saw that $35K I was again puzzled and confused.

“It’s for the name Extreme Boot Camp” Randy replied.

“What do you mean, ‘the name’?” I choked on my iced tea in reply and looked at Linda and Randy.

“Oh, you guys don’t have to pay that.  It’s just for the future Franchises.” Linda assured us.  “I love you guys and we’ll work it out.”

This was my friend Linda.

Linda, by the way, was at our WEDDING along with a few of her Trainers.

She, as well as her employees that did not have families to spend Thanksgiving with, were invited to my mom’s yearly Thanksgiving Feast.  At this point I trusted Linda and believed she would make this happen.  BUT after decades of experience in marketing and sales, her lack of action on helping us create the Simi Valley boot camp made me realize she did not know much about marketing and how it was crucial in building a business, let alone Public Relations.  Businesses don’t build themselves.

I kept reading over the other expectations:  full access to our personal computer, we would use her email system and server (my personal experience was sending her multiple emails and calling multiple times before getting an answer to a question on a regular basis and I assumed it was because she was busy creating the Franchises for EBC).  We would pay her a percentage of our income.  She would dictate how we would run the camp.  I did not see this as being in alignment with what we quit our jobs to do but I didn’t say anything at the table.

We finished up lunch and lugged home the binder.  I continued reading while Randy drove.  He told me the story of the franchisee that had be allowed to not follow the same rules of the other franchises.  The only person at risk in this is the FRANCHISEE (that would be Randy and Sarita) who would be hit with penalties, paying what was not paid and attorney’s fees.  That freaked me OUT.

It was crystal clear: we needed to begin our own business and do it without Extreme Boot Camp.  We made an appointment to get back to Linda and give her the news.  For us we figured we would remain friends and help each other – we were 40 miles (and 40 minutes on a GOOD DAY) away…ONE WAY.  There would be no risk at us taking her clients or business at all.

In her tiny office in La Crescenta we squeezed in a third chair to tell her our decision.

As Randy spoke she absorbed what we were saying.  I was sitting in the doorway (there was no other space) and she was unable to leave the room.  If she were able to I think she would have run out and begun screaming at us.  Her face got very red and her eyes became furious.  I was snot expecting this from someone that called themselves a friend. Someone that knew about our moms, our kids…I would have expected she would want the best FOR US.  It seems I was very wrong on that assumption.  We were screwing up some plan we did not know we were part of.

We left there with her angrier than a hornet AT US.

A few days later we were served with papers and sued.

And that’s the start of our adventure as 805 Boot Camp!  Yipeeeeee!!!

Sued in Federal Court for a variety of things but the courts show “Trademark Infringement”.  The paperwork was 6 inches deep of all that we had taken from her.  She claimed she had invented outdoor boot camp as well as certain exercises like push-ups.

We had to hire an attorney and like idiots we got one that knew NOTHING about this sort of thing.  He was cool and we liked him a LOT but if you ever get sued for something seek help by an attorney that specialized in that area.

Our attorney told us we could easily fight this and quite possibly persevere but it would cost us a lot of money (and we did not have it).  So we settled and paid her $15,000 plus attorney’s fees.

We had an explicit date to have absolutely zero Extreme Boot Camp essence on our business model.  From the website to the apparel.  We were not allowed to have a name that began with the letter E.  We were not allowed to have black shirts.  These demands were silly and as though we WANTED to be Extreme Boot Camp or mistaken as them, which we did not.  If we did not comply 100% with the demands in the injunction we would be open to be sued AGAIN and pay for her attorney’s fees.  The date we had to make was May 1st, 2007.

I got on that task immediately writing back and forth with our attorney proving COMPLIANCE to him.  He helped with an extra set of eyes to make sure I was correctly moving forward.

Meanwhile, my mom was on her last days on earth.  I was up doing camp then driving to the hospital in the Sunland area to see her.  It was an AWFUL period of time and then I’d come home late and be crying all the time.  I was also very sick with those blisters so couldn’t eat or drink much.  I watched my mom die every day while working and trying to get the injunction complied with.

My mom died on April 29th.

On May 3rd we were served with 12 inches (NOT KIDDING) of paperwork that Linda’s attorney’s had printed from the website proving we had NOT actually removed all the remnants of Extreme Boot Camp.  SHE WAS SUING US AGAIN.

The evidence she included were screen shots of photos, of SEO tags… our website (and I built it with the help of Go Daddy) still had crumbs of Extreme Boot Camp on it DESPITE the fact that I’d spent hours with Go Daddy being assured I’d complied with it.  I kept meticulous notes of these tech support conversations because I was new to this world of web design.

Either way, my mom died and two days later Linda sued us.  Cold, huh?  I thought so too.

The prior months we had to come up with a new business name (that did not begin with the letter E so the acronym would not be EBC which was Extreme Boot Camp’s acronym).  I went to the Simi Valley Town Center and personally surveyed 50-70 people describing our program and asking them what single word came to mind.  Endurance.  Nooooo!!! I could not use Endurance because it was the letter E.

I noticed the pride people of Simi had though.  Coming from La Crescenta, Glendale, Los Angeles, Hollywood and Burbank I’d never been in a neighborhood where people were NICE to you.  It was a point of pride.  I was happy to leave the 818 and live in the 805.

That’s when I realized: we should be 805 Boot Camp.  Again, leap of faith in an idea.

We hired a designer for our logo (I’ve got to write the story of this rip-off) and have a website built.  We paid him $5,000 and got a rendering of our logo and THAT’S IT.  Do NOT trust a guy named R. Grant Perry, Jr  who had a business called Cre8v Planet with the address of 37 Langhorne Circle Newport News Virginia.  He took our $5,000 and left us high and dry.  I just now hunted the internet for him. He’s STILL claiming to do websites and probably ripping people off.  What a jerk.  What a LESSON.

We got our new logo (which I really like), printed our letterhead and shirts on every color but black.

Camps continued and we hired two Instructors.

But Linda wasn’t through with us just yet.

She immediately opened a storefront (which was a stipulation on that original Franchise) on Erringer (right behind El Torito) and staffed it during odd hours.  We peeked in when they were closed once and saw a few stationary bikes and racks of weights – that was it.

She paid two instructors to drive all the way out from La Crescenta EVERY DAY to deliver camp in the same parks we were in.  It was as though someone was giving her the information about where we would be.

One dark morning in Lemon Park we were running the dirt path and her campers purposely ran into (physically) our campers going in the opposite direction.  That could have been bad but we’re not into fighting and shrugged it off.  Clearly there was animosity being carried on by her employees and transferred to her actual clients!  Crazy!  It happened more than once, so we chose a different park.

Lessons learnt so far:

  1.  Do your own website and UNDERSTAND what is going on rather than believe what a tech support person tells you
  2.  Do not trust someone you believe is your friend…look at their actual actions rather than their words
  3. Hire professionals with MEGA references to help you create in an area you are not knowledgeable in
  4. Trust your gut on humans
  5. Don’t give a dime to someone to work for you without seeing the results – if anything give them HALF.

The plan to keep our business open was looking more and more difficult.

We called a friend – a REAL friend – Joan Murphy-Contreras (know Byrd) who set us on the right path back to believing in our original purpose.

Despite dropping everything we knew to be stable for ourselves in 2005, we did.

And 12 years later we’ve got LOTS to share on what went great and what went south along with people you might trust and those you just cannot trust.

Always learning!

805 Boot Camp had its first camp and it was rocky and sketchy and we were worried about that damn law suit for years…nothing happened on it.

We moved on and it looks like she opened up 30 franchises!

On a whim I was taking design classes at Moorpark College with Svetlana Kasalovic and a student sitting near me in the lab noticed my 805 Boot Camp water bottle.  We struck up a conversation and it seems her boyfriend had purchased THREE Extreme Boot Camp franchises and they were all doing awful with zero support on marketing and public relations.  I felt bad for the girl and her boyfriend but there was nothing I could do.

She told me that the Simi Valley boot camp model was used as a way to close him on purchasing because it was so successful.

When I got home I looked up how many Extreme Boot Camp Franchises existed.  They were ALL OVER Southern California.  I took screen shots at the time but they’re on another external hard drive so I cannot be sure.  I’d guess 20?  WOW.

Her website was word-for-word a copy of our introduction.  She started programs that matched our program (like our Low Impact Program).  Her photos were the ones my sister took and she was asked to remove them (and she did).  It was hard to not be angry about her behavior.

The law suit was never heard in Federal Court.  That was 11 years ago.

Since then we have had a few other face plants and learning experiences getting our diploma from the University Of Hard Knocks.

We stuck to it and in the end we survived the attacks from her as well as the few other people that sincerely wanted to put us out of business.

I’m a believer in karma and I am pretty sure when they get served up it is going to suck big time.


My  Stem Cell Procedure

Pain was at 8 out of 10 almost every day.  If I did NOTHING then the pain went down to 3.  If I even walked up steps it would go to 5 or 6 for 24 hours. I’d rest and it would feel better so I tried to “live normally” and work…which means I would be hiking trails, running, walking at boot camp.

Processed with Snapseed.
Miss Ann Archinal!  She’s single and we do not understand why!?
Friend Ann Archinal (pictured) had mentioned ONE MILLION TIMES that I should check into Regenexx’s procedure and possibly be part of a Clinical Trial.

I began the process but was told (by a Regenexx Call Center woman) I had to be “PRE-qualified” by a “Regenexx Doctor”, which required an MRI.  I found a doctor in Simi Valley on Alamo Street (right around the corner from where I live).

Work continued to antagonize my knees and since it got worse and worse we opted to get an MRI at Ventura Orthopedic in Simi Valley, CA.   That cost $400, cash.  Most insurances will cover this (but we do not have insurance so have to pay cash).

The MRI on left knee only was analyzed and sent to my sports chiropractor Dr. David Sommer, Sommer Sports Chiropractic in Simi Valley, CA.  He explained the findings.  MRI showed torn meniscus and burst baker’s cyst in my left knee.  DISCOVERED LATER: Bone spurs and arthritis in my right knee.

Set appointment for Regenexx doctor in Simi.  Just to see him cost $350.  I recorded the conversation to make sure I didn’t misunderstand any of it.  Went to appointment, he reviewed MRI and told me I was a candidate.  Offered three solutions: cut, stem cell, do nothing.  He said he would do Stem Cell for $9700 for ONE knee.  He printed two pieces of paper from his website and charged me another $100.  I left there pissed and resigned with the fact that I would never get my knees repaired.

Went to Facebook, Regenexx’s site.  Posted that I had been quoted $9,200 for my knee.  Immediately replies started to pop up,  One said “$1,700 in Texas” which prompted me to begin researching other possibilities.  One hour later I discovered that Regenexx had removed my post PLUS all of the replies and information.  DANG IT.  Luckily I’d written down a few notes and discovered a realistic solution.

Found Dr. Venkatesh Movva and called to find out if I could go there and what the cost would be.  Quoted $-private (call for your quote) for both knees (he would need to see my right knee himself and agreed to do this without the MRI).

We emptied our small savings nut and invested in my knees.  I am happy to report after 8 months of holding my breath that the pain would return: I’M GREAT!  Read below for the little ups and downs but overall I’m PAIN FREE!  Like zilch, nada, nothing.  I wake up every day so grateful we decided to invest in my knees.  It was worth it.

Are you searching for a solution that doesn’t include DRUGS, CUTTING OR EXTENDED RECOVERY?  Stop reading here.  Pick up the phone and CALL THEM!

Dr Movva's Team 1


Tuesday August 23rd to Saturday August 27th


One little love bug living at my Air BNB place.
Tuesday. Day 1 flew to Texas (round trip tickets American Airlines $204 through Hotwire), got a rental car (Hertz $200) and drove to my Air BNB place in Grapevine Texas ($262) which I highly recommend you book.


Wednesday.  Day 2 arrive at Dr Venkatesh Movva’s office at 9:00am and filled in paperwork and paid for both knees to have the Regenexx Stem Cell procedure.  At about 11:00am I had injections by Dr Movva that I was told would inspire my body to send my blood to my knees to prepare for my stem cell injection the following day.  Left after an hour and drove to a nice outdoor mall and wandered around.  Noted that I was in less pain (I’d say 25%) and got a bit excited.


Day 2 Bone Marrow draw
Day two! Bone marrow draw. Wore my PEACE headgear to keep calm.
Thursday. Day 3 arrived at 9:00am for bone marrow draw.  You lie down on a table face down and injections to numb my hip area are done.  It was numb.  Dr Movva drew 3 vials of my bone marrow.  It did not hurt at all and I was wide awake.  I felt a sort of heavy pressure on my hip bones.  Sent to lunch and then returned.  My marrow had been split into platelets and stem cells.  The stem cells were injected into my knees.  This hurt a tiny bit and I think it was mostly because I was able to watch it happen (since I was on my back and wide awake).  A little spray can was used in the areas the needles were going into.  There was really no pain, just a “fullness” in the joint area.  Sent to meet with the Physical Therapist for my PT assignment, fit for two knee braces and a set of crutches (same building) then directed to go home and STAY OFF MY LEGS.

Friday. Day 4 arrived at 10:00am to get my final injection which was my platelets.  This hurt more than anything else.  One side hurt way more than the other .  Dr Movva said my reaction was the same as every other person and was normal.

IMG_5611Saturday. Day 5 got up super early to get to car rental return (Hertz) and fly home (American Airlines) from Dallas/Fort Worth.  Hertz was ready (I was alone and called ahead telling them of my “stay off your knees” circumstances) to pick me up and take me to the airport in a private car!  When I got dropped off a DFW employee scooped me up with a wheel chair and took me to my gate.  I was embarrassed to use this but MAN it was necessary!

Followed instructions of NO RUNNING OR IMPACT for 5 weeks.

Began slowly.  Tried Aqua Running before the 5 weeks was up and directed by Dr. Movva to go at 25% only (which I did).

I was 50% on doing my PT which I regret.


Went on a vacation to Oregon.  Biked and walked a lot, braces on made it cumbersome.  Knocking my knees a lot (the braces are very stabilizing…and HUGE) and tripping when they caught on each other.  Knees had a slight pain but it was dull.  Pain would be 3 out of 10.  Did my PT 4 times a week average.  It was tough stuff but when I did it I felt less pain the following day.  My PT took 60 minutes not rushing.


Began walking slowly and jogged a little.  Less pain.  Knees felt unstable as though they were loose.  Work was easier and I was able to run exercise stations and demonstrate (without extra weight).  PT was 2-3x per week, regrettably.  Began mountain bike riding and road rides for 1-2 hours at least once a week but started to feel pain on the back of my knees after a lot of uphill climbing.  Continued to fall back on my “pain” habits such as gripping stairwell banisters, going down steps one at a time and slowly…mentally I feel like I’m shedding these go-to practices that always helped me alleviate the pain.


Lots of activity, braces off.  PT remained 2-3x per week. Again noticing how strong knees felt the day following PT.  By end of October I was doing squats, running trails and road SLOWLY (partly because it has been years of low activity and my cardio was weak).  Mountain bike riding was easier so I began pushing myself.  Signed up for Spartan training and dialed it back on any lower body exercises.  Noticed the pain in my knees when I did burpees (the kick out) so stopped. Pain stayed and moved to a 4 so I wrote to Dr. Movva and he replied right away despite being in India where he helps children (love that).  He offered a Booster PRP procedure and said he would not charge me for it if I could get into the offices for the one-day procedure.


Feeling good and better after resting and staying mostly immobile during our time off of camp.  It couldn’t have been better timing to have a break.  I did no running, stopped drinking alcohol through the New Year!  Focused on healthier nutrition during the down time.  Felt like my knees were recovered.


Started the year off slowly but eventually riding and running trails (slowly).  No PT at all but do not feel the need for it because I feel stable and strong in my knees.  RAN stadium at Moorpark twice, walked up and ran down Hummingbird Trail and Chumash. Ran /Walked Tapo Open Space. Things are stronger and no pain.


Able to squat down low with kettle bells (26 and 18 lbs), swinging bells, burpees, jump rope and continued road and trail hiking.

Overall my experience was incredible.
The only part of my procedure that was awful was visiting the arrogant local “authorized doctor” to find out if I was a “candidate” for the Regenexx procedure.


Wow.  I’m SO HAPPY I got this procedure.  I am able to participate in pretty much any activity (with training) that I want from being a boot camper to running trails and road.  I am mentally still worried to push the envelope and blow my knees out – but so far I’ve had no pain at all.  LIKE AT ALL.

One thing that began in 2013 was my knee going out of it’s joint.  That is very painful.  It’s “almost” happened on both knees a few times in the past two months.  Randomly I’ll be moving my legs (like swinging them onto the bed or into the truck to sit) and a knee will get that pang of pain.  It takes my breath away instantly then is gone – no remnants.  I believe I just need to keep strengthening the surrounding tissue by USING my legs and following the PT work.

I would only recommend Dr. Venkatesh Movva.  He can review your MRI and tell you the truth from any place on earth.  Just get your MRI and send it to him.

If you do end up using his services, be sure you mention you read my blog.  He will appreciate knowing and maybe (just maybe) give you a “Sarita special deal”!

Read on if you are bored and/or interested in my sob story!  It’s so fun!



AKA more explanation on HOW I became injured and what we went through

Pain began three years prior (2013) in my left knee and got worse over the years. No ONE event happened.  I was very active as a kid into my high school years playing soccer, softball and volleyball.  I got tons of injuries, mostly twisted ankles, that I’m sure I did not allow to heal properly before jumping back into my sport.

At age 38 I became a boot camp owner which “required” teaching exercises, running road and trails.  My life went from cubicles to running around the planet and it was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

After the pain in my left knee began I backed off.  It was an up and down ride on recovery inbetween visits to my chiropractor for therapy and my massage therapist for relief and excruciating fun on my IT band.  The pain was undiagnosed because we did not have insurance and I am a “suck it up” type of person.

Bulldog 25KEventually, over three years, I went from running races and training for them (25K Bulldog, Half Marathons, Xterra) and our boot camp regular trail running to walking races and trails for our boot camp to just sitting in the car because I could NOT ascend one of my favorite trails without paying for it dearly.

We finally saved enough money to get an MRI.  This is after spending the three years going to chiropractic and massage for relief (which I did have, but then I’d go run again and it would return even worse).

MRI showed a torn meniscus with a Baker’s cyst that burst. NO WONDER I WAS IN PAIN ALL THE TIME.

Spent too much time trying to become a candidate for a Regenexx “Clinical Trial” which may have happened but I did not live in Colorado and/or they didn’t care who I was or my situation.

My friend Ann had the procedure for her knee and a shoulder injury and she was back up and operational in a short amount of time.

I decided to get myself to a doctor to find out if I was a candidate.  We had to pay $350 just to sit in the room with this doctor and he looked at my MRI then described the few options: stem cell, surgery, nothing (pain management…aka pills).

He said he could handle my left torn meniscus with stem cell but it was not guaranteed (of course).  Stem cell meant there would be no tissue removed and I was good with that.  It would be my own stem cells…good with that.  I would only need to pay him $9200 for it.  He printed me two more pieces of paper FROM HIS WEBSITE then sent me on my way…after charging me another $100.

I left his office PISSED at his arrogance and certain I’d never get this procedure.

The next day I went to the Regenexx Facebook Page and left a note for everyone to read (or it was a comment, it has since been removed):  “Got a quote for a torn meniscus and baker’s cyst in my left knee for $9200.  This is way more expensive than I expected.”

Immediately comments began popping up from other folks that were in the forum. Most people were commenting on how much they’d paid.  One person posted “$1,700 in Texas”.  I almost fell out of my chair.

I hobbled downstairs to Randy’s office to tell him the good news!

From there my quest became locating the doctor that had given this procedure for this price.  I logged back into Facebook to find the person and ask more questions.  THE POST WAS COMPLETELY REMOVED.  Like 100% gone.

Side note: every post I have made complimenting them is never replied to, answered, response of a ‘thanks’ in all of my social media.  I think I must have hit a nerve?

Go to the top…








more to come!

Spartan Training Day #1

Houghton-Schreiber Park, Simi Valley, Ca

The plan was a 30 minute workout. Quick and dirty.

Just to give all of us a little taste of the expectations (reality) of a Spartan Race.
My awesome husband Randy decided to put a group together of willing participants for the Spartan Race happening in January 2017.

Willing is the first step, right? What are the remaining ingredients necessary?
I think we found out as we had our asses handed to us in a kindergarten level workout.

  • Punctuality
  • Focus
  • Responsibility
  • Teamwork
  • Positivity
  • Drive
  • Strength
  • Endurance

Almost everyone showed up on time. 

We. Are. Sparta. Wait…what have we decided to do here again?

Those that were there before 4pm seemed to be the most dialed in to the plan.

We were instructed to wear long sleeve shirts, no jewelry and shoes with traction for mud/dirt. I got 2 of the 3 straight. Wore my newest pair of road shoes because I figured we would be road running. I was partially correct.

These things all work themselves out once you get a group rolling as we’ve discovered over the last decade. Randy is an expert at creating tough workouts that you can adjust to your fitness level. This was a different animal and it became obvious we would need to practice and work hard on our own.

I’m going to describe how it went in my opinion. I’m a cautious one with my new knees but after the past few weeks of successfully getting out of my box I was going to push myself a little further.  

Like the scenes in the movies Stripes and Private Benjamin, we began our running warm up from the park down Arlington and back. I’d guess all of us are over 40, most of us over 50 years old. We need to take time to lube up the joints and muscles so dynamic warmup is a no-brainer.

It was a half mile out and back. My goal was to not stop at all, which I accomplished. That gave me a little boost in my own efforts.

You know how ducks gather and pick in the grass and dirt moving a lot, quacking and somewhat excitedly bobbing their heads up and down for feed? That was us. In a circle, Randy giving us the starting information (to which a few people just weren’t even listening). In a few minutes it was time to begin as just like ducks sensing the danger of an approaching predator we were off!

The Assignment today: warm up jog, 40 tire flips, 90 Spartan Quality burpees, bucket carry twice, two times through the bear crawl, military crawl (“it’s just like Spider Push-Ups” Eric pointed out) and log roll. Did I miss something?   

Well, PERSONALLY, I think I heard more moaning and groaning on the log roll than anything. I had my plan if I, too, became dizzy after that station. Just “unroll”. It worked as a kid so it better work now.

It seems that once you become an adult you forget how to do the simple things we used to do as kids; like rolling down a hill, spinning each other in chairs until we can’t see straight, running across fields of grass without being concerned of gopher holes or tree limbs. 

We were 15 minutes, I’d guess, into the workout and I could not believe how far I would have to go. These were baby level challenges and I was pretty cooked. I was also concerned that I’d split my pants on the burpees and made a mental note to wear different chonies just in case that actually did happen. Spartan is no place for thong underwear.

I stopped (or was it that I was just going so slow it would be considered a full stop) to catch my breath after my 7th burpee and looked around the beehive of activity. Pretty much everyone was drenched in sweat and openly stating how tough this was. I liked hearing that I wasn’t the only one dealing with gravity and age.
Mark came up next to me to do his burpees when I got to number 20. He made it look easy, of course. Mark is in his 60’s and build like a brick shit house SOLID with muscle. I happen to know his body fat is lower than most everyone I’ve ever tested. He’s freaky strong. Here I was trying to do burpees next to Superman. I gleaned a little of his energy and his encouragement as I watched him perform his first perfect burpee. I’d been doing them wrong leaving out the HOP at the end. WTF.

I looked down at my Roxy’s Revenge shirt. I’d chosen this shirt on purpose. She is one inspirational woman I definitely could use some Roxy’s Power from. I added the hop to the remaining 9 burpees and picked up the pace a TINY bit. Mark was long done when I finished.

The stations were all booked up except for the bucket carry. I headed over trying to move quicker than before and catch my breath. It was a short distance through sand and that made it a little tougher. I got to my bucket and lifted it into my arms as instructed then surveyed the path. Through sand and up a small hill about 80 yards then back. Eric was on the return and made it look easy. I like Eric’s wit but didn’t hear any at this point. He, too, was dripping sweat carrying the bucket quickly. Strong. Man. Move. Fast. 

I heard Randy behind me, “Good job Honey!” That gave me a little boost in my heart.

This is hen I realized what I was actually experiencing. This was reliving my childhood. There was always one friend that could rally and organize the fun outdoors and a pack of us would follow. It was just like that and I could see Randy having a blast (inbetween coughing fits that kept creeping in because he is dealing with bronchitis).

On my right I saw P1 and P2 working together on the tire flip and getting on each other’s nerves. Beyond the P’s was father Rajeev knocking out sloppy burpees absolutely drenched in sweat, Tina G was “bear” crawling, Dorothy was lugging a bucket, Shawna was log rolling crooked and headed out of the coned area, Bill was just lifting a bucket into his arms as though it was filled with feathers, Jaydee was just beginning the military crawl (and not that good at it). We were a combo of starting practices of the movies The Bad News Bears, Major League, Stripes and Private Benjamin.

The best part was no one was standing upright flat footed and relaxed. We were all in various states of action working at our own 110%.

Diane twisted her ankle but was there for moral support and got roped into keeping track of the assignment and along with Tracey they were encouraging (laughing) and helpful (pointing and laughing) while snapping photos of our various states of pain.

I’d just finished another round of bear crawling, army crawling and log rolling (and teaching Hilda about unrolling out of the dizzy) and headed over to the bucket carry for my second round when Diane shouted, “STOP!!!”
That was the end of the 30 minutes and Randy gathered us together again. We looked like wet cats and were breathing a little harder. I was happy to stop (officially) and laid down on the grass. Jaydee set himself up nicely in the recliner/tire.

We all looked to Randy for “what’s next!?”

“OK, that’s all on the obstacles here. We’re going to do a few more over at the school playground. We’re going to practice hopping a fence. Remember, this is a TEAM activity and that means we get each other over the fence before we move on.” We stared at him. He stared back and took off running across the grass yelling, “follow me.” Jeff was on his heels immediately and I hurried to catch up.


I’d lost the button on my pants while doing burpees and they were slipping down. I had to hold them while actually running. I contemplated how I’d get over the fence and decided to try the one-hop-right-foot-touch-push-over method and land on both feet. Mentally I reviewed how great it would look as we ran up the embankment for a turn.

Randy was there helping get us over and beyond him Jeff stood watching probably concerned at the lack of fence-scaling skills a majority of his team was displaying.  He stood akimbo and eyes wide.

I approached the fence on the right scoped out my section and put both hands on it hiking my right foot up to the top…I was halfway there when I remembered my past fence-scaling disasters all had to do with my shoestring catching on the top. I slowed my butt way down which was a big mistake. The inertia was gone and I was now straddling the fence keeping my hoo-hoo above it using what strength I had left in my arms. Crap. I looked down the fence at the other Spartans. Jaydee and Eric were busy trying to assist the gals over, all of them did the same thing as me. Randy was shouting encouraging words while trying to help and capture the moment on his phone.  

I took a deeper breath and heaved my leg over the rest of the way and landed heavily. I ran over to help Shawna and Tina just getting in their way of dismounting. Note to self, not everyone needs help which is comforting!
The last to approach the fence was Rupa, Rajeev, Preksha and Prerana. He’s a gentleman through and through and got his family over the fence becoming a step. Even with the step, Rupa is pretty short and it took a lot of her inner power to clear the fence. Raj got himself up and over and we headed down the hill into the school yard toward the monkey bars.

I heard Rupa say she tore her shirt. “Flesh wounds.” I thought to myself.

In the back of my mind I reviewed my apparel choices and what might be best on the big day. Definitely not shorts. Definitely not cotton. I was a little lost in my thoughts and missed the beginning of Randy’s next plan.

“…as long as you can or as many as you can. Three sets.”


We were doing pull ups or hanging. Randy had been doing all of the photo coverage and I took over so he could jump in.   

The shorter campers headed over to the geometric dome. Once they all found their rung and began the hang they sincerely looked like monkeys, cute ones by the way. The sun was setting behind them and the conversation was yammering on about how unexpectedly difficult “just hanging” was.


Randy took the phone back and I began my assignment to just hang. I’ve tried doing pull ups and have yet to get one executed without assistance. I thought about that as I held on to the bar holding my feet off the ground. Counting to see how long I held on, the stinging began on my hands. 24…25…26…27 I’m out. I turned to try a different set of bars (as though that would make a difference). Jeff was across from me looking bored! How is that possible!? This was tough. He is 6’9″ so had to really lift his heels up for this to work. Since he was making it look easy, I tried holding my heels up higher but my hamstrings weren’t cooperating and I lost count cursing myself.

We’d all done our best and now it was time for the Grand Finale. The jungle-gym crossing. I got in line for my turn. Bill went before me and I watched his technique. Clearly it’d been a while since he had crossed a jungle gym and I was thankful there were no crocodiles or hot lava below. I held my breath hoping he’d get all the way across and at the 5th rung I shut my eyes because he was writhing all over the place, legs flinging left and right…it was not looking good for rung 5. With my eyes closed I heard everyone cheer prompting me to open them and exhale. Awesome.

My turn. I stepped up onto the foot rung for some reason. My arms reached way too far so I let my body drop hanging on tight trying to swing forward. It takes a bit of coordination to get the process moving and by the third rung I felt it kick in. The only problem was the skin on the inside of my hand was burning like acid had been poured on them and it took my mind off of the inertia I felt almost kick in. Three rungs from the finish I gave up and dropped. My fingers were locked in a curve and burning and I looked for Tina to commiserate.

Every one of us tried those monkey bars and I’d say we did pretty darn good for our first try. 
That concluded the training, WHICH WAS AWESOME, and we headed back to the starting location to clean everything up only to discover Diane and Tracy had done it for us!!

What I completed in the initial 30 minutes
Bucket Carry
30 Burpees (only 10 with a hop finish)
Tire Flip 20 times
Bucket Carry
5 more Burpees

How I feel
My knees are good.Mentally I feel excited to do this with the group of people signed up.

What I learned
My army style pants were too heavy. 

 Pockets are a no-no. They were too snug to do burpees.

I can hang on longer than I thought possible.

I believe I can get stronger.



Common Sense Stuff About Getting OLD

Randy Morgan having dinner talking in kitchen Feb 2013
Father’s give good advice.

Keeping it simple helps you make a better choice

Our bodies are miracles.

Get a cut and your body will heal it.  Break your leg…bam…it will repair it!  This also includes: shave your legs and DANG IT…is there a REASON we need hair on our shin in this day and age?!

The natural growth of a body is like a plant growing from a seed.

Plant a seed good soil filled with nutrients, make sure it gets water and sun then watch it blossom to its full potential.

Science has proven that the right (or correct) balance of macro and micro nutrients is not simple at all.

According to the USDA’s website an article by Adrienne Youdim, MD, FACP  “Overview of Nutrition: Macronutrients” starts off strong with “Nutrition is the science of food and its relationship to health. Nutrients are chemicals in foods that are used by the body for growth, maintenance, and energy. Nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the body and thus must be derived from the diet are considered essential. They include vitamins, minerals, some amino acids, and some fatty acids. Nutrients that the body can synthesize from other compounds, although they may also be derived from the diet, are considered nonessential. Macronutrients are required by the body in relatively large amounts; micronutrients are needed in minute amounts.”

The bottom line is: we need vitamins, minerals, some amino acids and some fatty acids.

Wrap - bean veggie carrot
That’s a wrap! Steamed carrots, black beans, cabbage on lettuce. Spicy hot chili sauce (sriracha).

As we age there are plenty of road signs telling us: GET UP AND MOVE!  That burns energy which means EAT!

A progressive loss of lean body mass can occur with aging.  Starting after 40 years old women lose about 11 lbs and men 22 lbs of muscle!  Add in the lack of nutritient-dense foods plus sedentary lifestyles and that will increase.  Ref: Merck Manual Overview of Undernutrition by John E. Morley, MB, BCh.

Mr. Morley writes, “Aging decreases basal metabolic rate (due mainly to decreased fat-free mass), total body weight, height, and skeletal mass; from about age 40 to age 65, mean body fat (as a percentage of body weight) increases to about 30% (from 20%) in men and to 40% (from 27%) in women.”

So let’s get outside, build up our fat-free mass (imagine what body parts we’re talking about)  and eat foods filled with nutrients.

For our campers: bring multiple sets of varying weights to camp to do, especially if you are a believer in the science of our bodies and want to stave off “old age” problems.

Just for kicks take a minute to look at different foods you eat and compare them to the Percentage Daily Recommended (%DV) of an adult consuming a 2,000 calorie reference diet.  Remember: your personal daily values may be different.

I use Nutrition Data for a quick and detailed report. Personally I love charts and maps and could spend hours just staring at them “imagining” scenarios that apply to my own life or plans.

If you are wondering what your daily requirements should be, visit the USDA’s National Agricultural Library where health care professionals go to calculate the information.

Overview Of Nutrition by Adrienne Youdim, MD, FACP

Undernutrition by John E. Morley, MB, BCh

Are Your Arms Broken?

Trader Joe arms broken? .jpgCan I cuss?

OK…no one is reading this anyway so I’m cussing in this post.

It pisses me off (Level 10) to see people treat other people like servants.  I CAN’T’ STAND IT.

Yesterday I was grocery shopping at #TraderJoes in #SimiValley and it was rather busy.  A lot of people trying to jam through the check out counters.  The clerks were busting ass too – moving as fast as possible on those tiny little checkout counters they have to work with.

Side note: do not go to Check Out Counter 1.  I think I’ve figured out that is where they put the employee that appears to be working but is just moving around and nothing getting done…maybe they’re under review?  It’s torture to watch other aisles zip their customers through and out the door they go…and Aisle 1 is jammed up like the 405 Freeway.

Back to my observation of blechy humans.

I watched 3 people stand with their arms by their sides while the checker did EVERYTHING (and kept a friendly conversation going as well).

Pull the stuff out of the cart.

Scan it.

Place it on the Playskool size counter.

Handling the payment.

Bagging it without letting things fall off the counter.

Placing it in the cart.

Being friendly the entire time.

Now why?  WHY can’t you pick up a bag and put YOUR groceries in it?


I watched you scratch your elbow.  Once the space was clear you set your hands on the counter. You gazed my way (Yes, I was scowling at you). Fold your arms and watch.  Get in the way of other shoppers trying to leave through the tiny portal of space between the checker counters and the water displays.

Side note: can you guys PLEASE remove the water display so there is actually space to navigate past to the door?  I hate bumping into people (except for those just standing there watching other people work I guess) trying to get out the door.

I was taught to lend a hand.  Pitch In.  Pick Up A Shovel.  I was taught is was NOT OK  to stand there and watch someone work when you very well could help.

Shame on you and your yucky behavior.

Anywho, that’s all I’ve got for today’s blog post.


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