Episode 14- Gary Robbins

Dad, Husband, Ultra Runner, Business owner, Excited

Gary Robbins is one of if not my favorite endurance athlete on the planet. I just feel that he does it "the right way". He is tough, He is gritty, he wears his emotions on his sleeve, but most of all, you can tell that he absolutely loves what he is doing.  

When I thought to do this podcast, he was on my bucket list of people that I wanted to interview. I was fortunate enough to get a response from him and he agreed to give me some time out of his extremely busy life for some dinky podcast that not many people know about.  For that reason, I'm embarrassed it took this long to publish his episode! 

What struck me right out of the gate was that Gary has an inability to sit still. In fact when we first got on skype I could not see him. I asked him if his skype connection was working ok because I could not see him and he told me that he turned off the video because in his experience on skype he would give people motion sickness because he  would be walking in circles through out his house...

A lot of people know Gary from his recent battles with the Barkley Marathon which once again ended in heartbreak this year but what drew me to Gary was his performance on the Wonderland Trail and the film that Ethan Newberry, The Ginger Runner made about that FKT. In that Film, Gary's unwavering enthusiasm for what he is doing is infectious. I would go as far as to say, Gary is Infectious. Try not to like this guy!  

Episode 13- Nick Symmonds

OLYMPIAN. RUNNER. ENTREPRENEUR. ATHLETE ADVOCATE. BALLSY

Nick Symmonds was on my short list for people who I wanted to have on my show. To me, Nick has really brought athletes rights to the forefront of the conversation in a way that we have not seen since Steve Prefontaine. He did this at his own admission for selfish reasons but really has an altruistic consequence. If he is successful it will benefit all professional athletes. 

Nick started a company called Run Gum. In starting that company he naturally wanted to promote that company. As a professional athlete he had a great platform to promote his brand just like many other professional athletes who have companies. Also, as a professional athlete, Nick has sponsors who would like to use his stature to promote their brand... This all seems logical right? U.S. Track and Field(USATF) does not agree... Not wanting to write a huge legal brief, lets just say that Nick and USATF do not see eye to eye and are currently in a legal battle.

What's funny to me is that Nick is one of USATF's biggest stars.  USATF needs Nick. USATF makes money and grows the sport because of athletes like Nick. I do not understand why USATF would want to restrict the earning potential of the athletes that earn them money...

Other than his advocacy for athletes income rights, Nick is a pretty interesting guy. Nick comes from an academic family and he is no dummy himself. He was on cruise control heading towards a comfortable life in the medical community. Nick said he was not ready to hang up the cleats. He gambled on himself and won big. After coming out of a Division 3 college, Nick has really become one of the most accomplished and reliable members of USATF. Appearing in 2 Olympic games in Beijing and London as well as being a 6 time US Champion in the 800m race. He has a whole lot of other really impressive results as well. Nick is currently working toward making one last world team after an ankle injury ended his 2016 season.

 

Episode 12- Tyler Yamauchi

DAD. DOCTOR.  GYMNAST. WORLD RECORD HOLDER. AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR

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One night while watching American Ninja Warrior, I saw Tyler compete. His size is not the first thing that struck me. What struck me was his stature. Although short, he is built like a tank and he has an unbelievable explosive athleticism. I reached out to Tyler and we met up at a climbing Gym that we both go to. I relate a lot to Tyler... Not just because of our shared first name but because of our post collegiate mentality. Playing a sport for the sake of playing a sport does not sit well with either of us. We as athletes, require tangible results. We require the drive that only working towards competition can give. On top of being an elite athlete, Tyler is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, a husband, and a dad.   

Episode 11- Akalaini (Bui) Baravilala

USA Women's Rugby pioneer

I had a great time chatting with Bui. I definitely felt as though we were kindred spirits. She is extremely soft spoken and you can tell she is just a bit uncomfortable with her being the center of a topic. 

Raised in Hawaii, Bui grew up with a strong sense of community and family. She started playing Rugby in high school. Bui's dad, who was a successful rugby player in Fiji started the girls team and Bui quickly recruited her friends to play too. 

Bui quickly figured out that she had the love and the talent for rugby that went well beyond hobby. She ended up being one of the first 8 girls selected to the Olympic residency program. Because she was there from the beginning, she saw all of the growing pains that USA rugby had to go through.

Her career has not been without some heartbreak and drama because of those growing pains in the program. She even took a break and stepped away from USA rugby for a while  in order to heal physically and emotionally during the height of the growing pains. 

Bui came back stronger and refocused and is most proud of being apart of the first women's Team USA rugby team. I think what I like most about Bui is that she is an extremly thoughtful person and has genuine passion and appreciation for each phase of her life. 

Episode 10- Kahlil Gonzalez

UlTRA RUNNER. 9/11 SURVIVOR. EX-CONVICT. INSPIRATION

 

I don't know what to say about Kahlil other than he survived. He survived everything the world could throw at him. In fact, that wasn't enough for him. He decided to create his own chaos to survive.  Not only did he survive, he now thrives and is an inspiration. 

I became aware of Kahlil When Trail Runner Magazine ran a story about him in the September 2016 issue. The second I started reading his story I wanted it to have a happy ending. I had never met this person but I felt pride in him. I felt pride in being a part of his tribe. 

I thought a lot about why I felt that way and here is what I landed on. Regardless of background, runner's all have experienced the same pain. Running is the great equalizer and because of that, runner's are a tribe. if you say nothing else of runners, we are supportive of one another. 

Kahlil's father was  incarcerated when he was at a developing age. Like many kids in his shoes, the chip on his shoulder was pretty big.  Kahlil found comfort and passion in Skateboarding but at that time in America, Skating was branded as counter culture. Kahlil was branded as the bad kid. He embraced that and set out to prove them right. After getting involved in gangs and drugs Kahlil found him self bouncing in and out of the criminal justice system.

He ended up working at a brokerage firm across the street from the World Trade Center. He says that being a pot head saved his life on 9/11. After 9/11, he lost his Job at the brokerage firm. He soon identified an untapped market and started his own business. A Weed business in the financial district of NYC. 

After a spending some time in Jail, his Weed business dried up and Kahlil got into high end burglaries. Needless to say, Kahlil found his way to prison. Prison is where Kahlil found Running. Kahlil saved himself in prison with the help running. 

Talking to Kahlil was important to me. In my career as a police officer I caught a young man in the act of a home burglary. That young man got a very similar sentence as Kahlil did. I think about that young man a lot and I feel bad for him. Not to say that he was innocent because he wasn't. I feel bad because he was a good kid who made  a very dumb choice. I wanted to to talk to someone who had made those same choices and survived them. I feel some closure about that case after having talked to Kahlil. I don't think I'll ever find out what happened to that young man but because of Kahlil I know redemption is possible. I know that Kahlil is proof that you can survive and thrive after bad choices.  

Episode 9- Wade Dunn

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  Regular Guy/Ultra Runner

I met Wade while running a race in Alabama. We just happened to be running at the same pace and struck up a conversation. Wade claims to not be very interesting. However I disagree. One of the first things Wade said to me was that he is clumsy while running. I did not really know what he meant until a few minutes later when he was laying on the deck. Wade is a normal guy with a wife, 2 kids and a Job. Only difference between him and every other normal guy is that Wade runs Ultra Marathons. Oh and his best friend is a garden gnome named Norm.

To date, Wade has over 40 ultra's under his belt. Speaking of belt's Wade's belts are held together by a 100 mile buckle from the Rocky Raccoon 100 miles race.

Wade and I got into a number of interesting topics. Everything from his adoption, being a musician, being a good student, how he found running. We talk about snakes on the trail, broken legs and riding unicorns to the finish line. 

This is actually the second take of an interview with Wade. Early on in trying to get interviews Wade and I hoped on a skype session but I did not have  a handle on my recording equipment yet and it sounded terrible. Wade was super cool and gave me a second try. I appreciate that. He was also motivated for a second take also. He felt because of listening to other episodes that he wanted to get at least 1 F bomb in... He did... Barely. 

Episode 8- Guy Petruzzelli

Dad. Professional Athlete. Professional Coach. Crash Survivor. Washed Up Lawyer.

Guy Petruzzelli does not exactly take the path of least resistance. Tough south side kids like Guy tend to need to be hit by a car to heed their parent's advice. That's just what happened to Guy. His Dad wanted him in law school. Guy wanted to pursue being a professional Triathlete.

Being hit by a car on a training ride changed his fate. Or did it? Guy woke up a week later in the hospital and began the long slow road to recovery. His triathlon career was surely over.

Guy went on to Law school and became a successful attorney in the Mortgage industry. Something was missing though. A successful career had left him with a couple bucks in his pocket, anxiety, depression and about 50 extra pounds. It took a severe panic attack at the age of 30 to help him decide to make a change. He decided to get back on his path from the decade earlier and pursue multi-sport. 

Guy wasn't quite done with cars though. In 2010 he was hit again. This time being hit brought him to CrossFit to recover where he found his other calling in life. Guy's belief in CrossFit Endurance (CFE) was featured in Outside Magazine in 2013.

On top of being a professional Duathlete, Guy is a level 1 coach at CrossFit Iron Flag.

 

Episode 7- Lauren Doyle

USA! USA! USA!

I got just as swept up into the Olympics as everyone else! As a wrestler I hold the Olympics in the highest esteem possible for sport. I love the human interest side. I love that we get invested in these athletes. We want to see them succeed because we not only like the sport or their ability but because we respect them as human being's and we like the way they represent our childhood dreams. That is certainly how I feel about Lauren. 

I was reading the Chicago Tribune one morning leading up to the Olympics and I was reading about athletes from Illinois. Lauren Doyle caught my attention. One, because Women's Rugby was brand new to the Olympics and would be making history. Two because Lauren was (in terms of playing sports at the highest level) fairly new to Rugby. How do you just pick up a sport later in life and become an Olympian?! 

In high school, Lauren was a track star. The term "star" carries a lot of weight, and Lauren was pretty burned out of track. Lauren may have been ready to move away from track & field but was not ready to move away from pushing herself and competing at the highest level. Lauren was not done being an Athlete. She attended Eastern Illinois and quickly realized that she was not just an average rugby player. 

Lauren currently plays rugby for a living. She is a professional athlete.  

Episode 6- Charlie Kern

Husband. Father. Son. Athlete. Coach. Philosopher.

My conversation with Charlie Kern is unlike any conversation I think I've ever had with an athlete. In terms of sports, he is like a warrior poet. He is a fierce competitor but his cerebral approach to sports and life in general is not stereotypical  in jocks.

His Journey is unique. Adopted by his Parents in New York State, He became obsessed with the state of Kansas. He came to find out later that perhaps he had a biological pull to that state. He  discovered his athletic talent  playing tag in the neighborhood. He had a bigger stronger motor than anyone else. Luckily for the sport of running, he had bony shins and was afraid of ground balls. We spoke up growing up blue collar and giving our kids more than we had.  We talked about how he met his wife. How he convinced his now father in law that he was worthy. How he ended up at York and we spent a lot of time chatting about life in general. 

Kern is the current Co-Head coach of the York Community High School cross country team. In terms of significance, York is probably the greatest cross country program of all time. Outside of coaching this historic program, Kern also owns his own running coaching business http://ckrunning.com/ .  He loves running, the running community and of course runners. 

After our conversation ended and I left, I felt enriched, somehow wiser. I could listen to this guy talk about anything. Enjoy.

Episode 5- Kate Lane

My goal is to find amazing athletes with amazing stories from all sports.  With Kate Lane, I definitely achieved that goal.  Kate is an IFBB pro body builder.  The dedication to her sport rivals any other athlete I've encountered.  Kate starts most days in the wee hours while we are all sound asleep.  In addition to focusing on her competitive career, Kate is also a full time personal trainer & pose coach. 

Kate grew up running around rough housing and playing GI Joe's with her brothers.  She was on the student counsel in high school and started smoking in college.  For Kate's 21st birthday she decided to get healthy.  From there on out she fell in love with the fitness industry. 

Kate Knows that body building is not exactly thought of as being feminine; however Kate truly does love the beauty pageant aspect of her sport.  She loves the balance of those two worlds.  Kate loves to model as well and she has some pretty amazing photo spreads out there.  Did I mention that Kate is also a bad ass hunter?  All the red meat that she eats is from what she has killed.  Did I mention that she is a very talented amateur chef?  Kate has never really considered herself a female role model....but maybe she should.    

Episode 4- Alex Wildman

Rock Climber. Adventurer. Dad. Nurse. Cancer Slayer.

In speaking with the Wildman I realized one thing.......I haven't done enough adventuring in my athletic life.  Too many of us are hung up in traditional sports: stats & scores, winning & loosing, going after results that are tangible on paper.  Alex crumpled up that paper and threw it away a long time ago.  When was the last time you went ice climbing?  Alex can answer that question.  Have you ever hitch hiked across Alaska?  Alex has.  Do you remember the time you rode your bike across America? No? Alex remembers.  Alex is also the co-chair of the Philadelphia chapter or the American Alpine Club.  Oh yea, and he has also devoted his life to helping others as a cardiac nurse.

Six months ago, Alex was preparing for a climbing trip to Patagonia.  Those plans changed.  He received news that he was not expecting.  Cancer. The single most terrifying word in the English Language.  Alex was about to embark on a six month climbing trip that no one ever wanted to go on.  During a 96 hour chemo marathon, Alex received an unexpected yet very welcome guest: Conrad Anker.  Conrad is like the Michael Jordan of expeditions.  He stopped by and imparted some inspiration and wisdom.  Hold Fast, All Storms Pass.  This phrase has changed Alex's life.  Alex is an internet inspiration @fortyonethirty (instagram) using #holdfastallstormspass 

Alex believes in some sage advise he got from a total stranger in Alaska.  If you want to have a huge adventure, just put a date on the calendar and go for it! 

During Alex's treatment, a go fund me page was set up and that made a huge impact on Alex's life.  Alex also told me about his Friend, David Clark. Another young man, climber, adventurer who has stage 4 cancer.  He also has a go fund me page so please help if you can:

https://support.firstdescents.org/fundraise?fcid=715284

Episode 3- Matt Roth Part 2

Join me for Part 2 of my conversation with Matt Roth. We dive deeper into his career as a professional football player. We touch on a variety of topics. Getting Drafted, NFL coaching, NCAA unionizing, injuries, pressure and of course concussions. 

Episode 2- Matt Roth Part 1

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Matt Roth.  What can I say?  Matt was kind enough to invite me to his home.  We sat outside in his beautiful back yard and had a great conversation. 

Guys like Matt are the reason why NFL is king.  He seems to be larger than life and has a magnetic personality.  Guys like Matt are why I wanted to do this podcast.  Yea, he is a "jock" in every sense of the word.  He is physically gifted beyond most of our wildest imaginations.  However "jocks" like him are not just meat heads.  He is  a cool dude and is extremely intelligent, thoughtful, and charismatic.  

Matt grew up in the Chicago Suburbs and came from a very loving, caring, and supportive home.  Although Matt's Dad owned a successful business, Matt had to earn everything on his own and he was very proud of that.

Matt and I touched on a number of topics from finishing college after retirement because he promised his mom that he would, to his most influential coaches, and even a great story about Junior Seau bailing him out of a dinner bill when he was a rookie. We talked about how he first got into wrestling through his high school coach finding him in fights at the park, and even spoke on some serious issues like unionizing collegiate athletes, and of course concussions.

Try not to like him. I dare you.

Episode 1- Steve Marianetti

Steve is about the nicest guy you'll ever meet, and very easily one of the strongest.  You would never guess while you are talking to him that he could probably rip your arms right off your body.

In my opinion, Steve has to be one of the most under appreciated American athletes of the last 25 years.  He was a NCAA Champ & 3 time All American, who won gold at the 1997 Pan Am Games, silver at the 1998 good will games, silver at the 1998 world cup and was also a member of the 1998 Team USA world team.  Steve has spent the last 10+ years as the head coach at Elmhurst College and has been twice named NCAA Division 3 Coach of the Year. 

Unlike most elite wrestlers, Steve did not start wrestling until he was in high school. Like most wrestlers though, he thought he was meant to be a basketball player...

Steve and I spent a great deal of time talking about his approach to the 1995 NCAA finals match. You can watch that match here.