Archive for April, 2013

West Coast & Venice Beach on Deck

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Mad love and respect to the West Coast ninjas who are hitting the ground and lining up to take their crack at American Ninja Warrior 5 for the next two days starting tomorrow (Friday) night. The 6 region structure of American Ninja Warrior 4 has been replaced with a 4 city structure that serve as proxies for the regions: Venice (NW and SW), Denver (Mountain & Midsouth), Baltimore (Midwest & NE), and Miami (South & SE). Rumor is that there were over 2,000 video submissions for the Venice competition, and with probably only around 150 run spots that means many worthy ninjas got left out in the cold this year.

The Venice competition is stacked with some of the best ninjas America has to offer. Below is a reminder of the National Finalists from both the Southwest and Northwest regions that will mostly be competing in Venice this weekend. Run hard!

Southwest
Evan Dollard
Jesse La Flair
Kole Stevens
Remi Bakkar
Brent Steffenson
Chad Simpson
Derek Nakamoto
Dorian Cedars
Dan Mast
Paul Darnell
Sedderick Bassett
Ryan Thompson
Dylan Curry
Ronnie Shalvis Jr
Michael โ€œFrostiโ€ Zernow

Northwest
James McGrath
Travis Furlanic
David Campbell
Sean Noble
Kyle Cochrane
Justin Sweeney
Josh Horsley
Nathan Sausedo
Justin Walcker
J.B. Douglas
Kevan Reoli
Ben Snead
Brian Kretsch
Gunner Bahn
Patrick McGrath

Readiness Grades Right Before ANW5

Monday, April 1st, 2013

A few months ago I did an honest and brutal assessment of my “readiness” for American Ninja Warrior 5 in the form of a blog entitled “Readiness Grades – 4 Months Til ANW5.” With American Ninja Warrior 5 just a couple of short weeks away, it felt like it was the right moment to upgrade this assessment as I stand in the chute to compete in my fourth American Ninja Warrior competition (provided I get an invite, of course!). It also feels like a productive use of the insane amount of energy I have waiting to hopefully get called next week to compete in Baltimore in 3 weeks…despite my Zen article “The Waiting Game for American Ninja Warrior 5“, I’m feeling pretty jacked up and anxious!

HEALTH: A- (up from B+)
As I stated in my earlier assessment, this Health rating I feel is the single most important grade. Having competed in the past with ninjuries ranging from nagging to fairly severe, including recovering from a partially torn Achilles heel last season, I feel blessed to be in good health right now. My plantar fasciitis, which plagued me the first half of the year after ANW4, has more or less gone away, and the primary goal of my training the next couple of weeks before the competition is to not injure myself! Being healthy and with the right mindset I believe are the two most important factors to success for me.

KUNG FU GRIP: B (up from B-)
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to go to the rock-climbing gym but maybe once a month, so my grip strength for this year’s competition is almost certainly less than it has been in previous competitions when I had been climbing twice a week. In the last few months though I’ve been forcing myself to do more grip-training stuff, mostly when I take the kids to the park and do maximum hangs on odd shaped bars around the playground ๐Ÿ˜‰ Sounds silly, but has actually been pretty tough training, and I’m feeling fairly strong. No tendinitis anyway really helps this.

JUMPING: B (up for D)
I had given myself a horrible grade of D when I assessed myself four months ago, after having been sitting around trying to rehab my plantar fasciitis for months. Fortunately I’ve healed up the last couple of months, and have really been working on leg strength through box jumps, Bikram yoga, sprints, and other leg exercises. If you check out my submission video, you can see that I can dunk again, which isn’t bad for a 41 year old dad ๐Ÿ˜‰ A long way from my days when I could 360 dunk, but my jumping power is better than at any time in the last couple of years. This was the area of my training that I felt like I most needed to improve from my self-assessment a few months back, and I’m feel relieved that I’ve been able to make strong progress in this area.

CARDIO / ENDURANCE: B- (up from D)
Inactivity due to plantar fasciitis had me at a D grade a few months back, but since returning to health I’ve really been focusing on this. Bikram yoga, sprints, tabatas, and some ferocious games of tag on the playground with my 7 year old and his friends have pushed my cardio back up to a respectable level where I feel pretty good entering the competition. Those little kids can run all day, I’ll tell ya!

AGILITY: C+ (up from C-)
The same story here, plantar fasciitis had me weak and lumbering a few months back, but health has allowed me to train and regain my agility. I’ll include Balance here as part of Agility, and I’ve been working on my balance in general on some rope pyramids at the playground and feel pretty good.

UPPER BODY STRENGTH: B (up from C+)
I’m not currently plagued by any shoulder or bicep tendinitis, and some bar training has me feeling pretty good. My explosiveness isn’t super, but I’m feeling fairly strong and pain-free. I’ve been using free weights to work shoulder and bicep strength in multi-joint moves to build up explosiveness and stamina.

WEIGHT: B (up from D)
For those of you who saw my runs in the Regionals and the Regional Finals, you know the commentators fixated on my weight of 220 lbs a bit, particularly Olympian Jonny Moseley. A few months back I was tipping the scales at 224. Today I weigh in at 214 and have dropped body fat as well. I wouldn’t call myself “lean” yet, but I’m pretty happy with losing 10 lbs in the last few months, and getting trimmer has me feeling relatively good about my weight.

OVERALL GRADE: B (up from a grade of C-)
Overall I’m fairly pleased with the progress I’ve made the last 3 to 4 months getting ready for American Ninja Warrior 5. My grade at C- from a few months ago was pretty poor, and had me concerned. I tried to be honest and a little brutal with myself as a way to motivate myself and to create a roadmap for improvement in the final stretch. Avoiding injury, staying healthy, improving my jumping power, and dropping some weight were my main goals, and I feel like I’ve achieved them. I could be stronger and faster I suppose, although I believe I’d always be inclined to think that, but overall I feel great and ready to give my best shot at the course in American Ninja Warrior 5, and fight my way to my goal of reaching the National Finals in Vegas in June. Hopefully they invite me and I get my shot!