Chasing Challenges

I have been out with a knee injury for the past several months.

It has sucked pretty badly.

I saw all my friends training and competing in events. While I was happy and excited for them, I had sub-feelings of envy and frustration that I tried my best to shove when issuing congratulations or encouragement to people. It’s not their fault that I was sitting out and I didn’t want my feelings to color their experiences. I have had some of my experiences soured in the past by other people doing just that. I won’t be that person.

I’m super happy to announce that my Dr was not horrified at the thought of me returning to competition next month! So I have been cautiously training this past week – getting back into shape sucks. I’m up 8 lbs from my normal competition weight and my cardio sucks so badly that I can’t sit down after class because I know I might not get back up for hours.

I love it.

During the time off I have been planning out my approach to this next season and doing a lot of searching for my own motivation. I took it back to my day 1 roots and realized that my motivation has remained the same – I’m chasing the challenge. This is why I got into Jiu Jitsu. I was overweight and unhealthy – but was bored to tears just working out at the gym because there were no concrete hard goals. I remembered how much I enjoyed doing TaeKwonDo and Hapkido as a teen and decided to find something similar to push myself with.

It was pretty hard. And there are so many layers of difficulty! Once I could make it through class all the way without nearly passing out – I decided to try a competition. I won 1 out of 4 matches and got hooked. I made measurable progress and worked my way up to a silver in both the European Championships and the Pans. Just as I started to get comfortable and see an end goal come closer (gold at one of those events), an awesome thing happened!

I was promoted to my next belt rank and started all over at the bottom of the divisions – losing most of my first matches (badly) and scrambling for improvement once again. I went through the “blue belt blues” – trying to readjust my mentality to focus on long term improvement while dealing with the bubble pop of going from the “top white belt” to “bottom blue belt”. This is where I really started branching out to compete in different countries around the world in order to test myself in as many different ways as possible. With each test, I learned a little bit more about myself and became better.

Again, just as I reached the level of comfort, I was promoted once again to my current belt rank (purple). This time, however, I anticipated the bubble pop and did not let it get me down. It is just a period of mental adjustment to a new level of intensity and goals. The main difference I’ve noticed is that people take me a lot more seriously as a purple belt than as a white or blue belt.

So here I am in my purple belt phase. I wouldn’t be able to summarize it properly until it has past and I am looking back at it. But I’m going to enjoy it and milk the entire experience for as much as I can get out of it.

It’s all just practice for my black belt anyhow – so it’s okay to try things out and mess up. The failures aren’t as bad as I think they are, and the successes aren’t as glorious either. They are rungs on the ladder of improvement.

So now that I’m back into active training, my first order of business is to get my cardio back so that I can train effectively. I’m still at a high risk for re-injury so I am being very cautious who I train with and how. I also need to drop back down to competition weight, which shouldn’t be too hard now that I’m cleared to train again.

During the time off to heal, I focused on my mental game and also on building my own personal business. Now I have a strong foundation to work from and I can’t wait to see what I can do! I’ll be testing myself once more at the Master Worlds next month in Vegas – it’s going to be awesome!

My Inspiration – Ironman Issue

A lot of little girls grow up believing their Daddy is a superhero.


One of the things I remember as a constant, is that Dad always ran. He would do several marathons (26.2 miles) a year, usually qualifying for and running the Boston Marathon.

This past weekend, dad finished his second Ironman Triathlon in 105 degree weather. Not bad for a gray haired, 55 year old grandpa! I definitely get a good portion of my competitive drive from him! (creative writing skills come from Mom!)

Dad wrote up an article for his tri club newsletter about the whole experience, and I asked him if it would be all right to share here – so here it is! Enjoy and please share what/who inspires you!

And yes, my Dad is cooler than your Dad!

This is Craig’s 140.6 Race report for CDA.

For months I have been preparing and planning for this race. I thought I had a good plan until found out what the temp was going to be and had to do some major changes to my strategy. But I am happy how well I did and running in 105 heat I can truly say “I Am An IRONMAN”.

Prepping for the HEAT:

On Monday before the race I started the process of hydration by drinking Smart Water and downing a bag of pretzels each day. It may be in my head to use Smart Water but for past 4 years I have done this for Marathons and have not had issues with heat. I also popped a Salt tablet each day. On Saturday I switched to PowerBar Perform and two Salt tablets. Friday Jim and I went on 30 minute swim and then 20 minute run (in the morning). In the afternoon I went back to the Expo and at the Active Release Therapy tent one of the therapist worked on me. He spent around 40 minutes on me with focus on knee, hip, hamstring, and neck. Note: for 5 days I had bad headaches each day but after the ART session I have not had a headache for 6 days.

On Saturday I did a 10 minute ride to make sure Bike was ready and then checked in the bike around 9am. I then went to the ART tent again and was worked on for 30 minutes. I felt very relaxed and loose after this session. After a big breakfast I crashed in my Mom’s Motorhome for the day to prepare for the race. I tried to minimize time outside as even in the shade was very hot. In the afternoon Jim and I drove the bike course and this was good that we did this. We could see were the long grinder hills were. After good pasta dinner I was ready for the next day.

SWIM (2.4 Miles)
Age Group Place: 56

Was able to get a nice warm-up and then got into my starting position. At CDA use a rolling start and I was in the 1:20 to 1:30 group. This was nice as swimming around people the same speed. Felt good and focused on my stoke. Only crowded when going around the turns and got punched a few times. After 30 minutes my left goggle started leaking. The swim is two loops and you come out of the water. After 1st lap I was happy as in 43 minutes. I had a gel with me so was able to take this while running back into the water. But I also stopped to try and fix my goggles, but did not help. So for 2nd loop had to swim with one eye shut.

Coming out of the water was not happy about time but did bet my last IM time of 1:35:31

Transfer 1

After coming out of water went to grass were my wetsuit was stripped off. Then grabbed Bike bag before going into tent. Tried to go as fast as possible and resisted the urge stay long. Loaded my back pockets with food I exited the tent. I was greeted with two people that put handfuls of sunscreen all over me. Grabbed bike and had long jog to mount point. Now ready for battle.

BIKE (112 Miles)
AG place: 24

001To survive the day I knew had to hydrate and take in salt. Every 15 minutes I would take in Gatorade Endurance from my torpedo (I really like the torpedo). Coming into each water stop would suck my torpedo dry so would get as much as could. At the start of water transition would grab water to cool off head and then Gatorade for the torpedo. At the top of the hour would take a salt Stick and Powerbar Gel. At bottom of hour would take part of a cliff bar or protein bar. With 1.5 hours to go was taking a salt stick every 30 minutes. I felt doing well with my hydration as continued to sweet and able to pee throughout the bike ride.

The bike course is two loops of one short out and back one long out and back. The first out and back was around 15 miles through town and along the lake. The 2nd out and back starts with a climb and then a LONG LONG climb. Then some flats and a few up and downs before heading back.

The first loop I was doing well with power and cadence. On the climbs very strong and passing a lot of people. But on the second loop it got hot and on the first climb and downhill my neck got very tight and hard to stay in aero position. On the climbs I had to massage my neck so that I could be in the aero position for the downhills. With 18 to go at the water stop I decided to pore just a little water on my neck and put bottle in my back pocket. Then every 5 minutes pored some water on my neck. It was amazing by my neck started relaxing and able to stay in aero. WHY DID I NOT DO THIS BEFORE?

With 5 miles to go it was amazing with the number of people on the side of the road under shade trees. But I was doing well, as I did a smart race. With 1.5 miles to go I was cranking for the finish and pumped for the start of the run. At the start of this 1.5 I downed a salt stick and gel as thought was needed for the run.

Note: the last hour of the bike was like riding in an oven and could feel the heat coming off the pavement.

What would I do different on the Bike? My Hydration was perfect but I should have kept a water bottle in my back pocket. If I would have put water on my neck every 5 to 10 minutes I think would have cut 15 minutes off my time.

Transfer 2:

I was told that temp was currently 101

After dismounting my bike, the volunteers grabbed it, and then I stumbled a few steps to the stand were had two cups of water. Then a lady put an ice cold towel on my head and I called her my angel as it was what I needed. Just before the tent two people had big buckets of ice water that poured on my head. Inside the tent I put on my shoes and hat quickly. I then made a split decision that was the BEST decision I made all day. I knew that the key was to keep my head and neck cool so decided to keep the towel for my head in the run.

RUN: (26.2 Miles)
AR Place after run: 7
Temp: 105

I did not think the 105 was that bad as able to keep cool and my hydration was good.

I ran with the towel on my head under my hat. At every water station would do the following: Take my hat off and pore two (or more) cups of ice water, with ice, on head. Then drink half cup of Gatorade with full cup of water. Leaving would then put two or more cups of water on my head. Note: This is the first time in a Marathon (have run 46) that have taken Gatorade and I was doing every mile but I knew had to do this. Around 200 yards after water stop my stomach would not feel well with the Gatorade (every time) and I would put my finger in my mouth and then a BIG belch would come out and I was OK. Also had spectators with water hoses and I would hit every one of them; having them spray on my head and back of neck. My favorite station was were someone would grab my hat/towel and run ahead to a place where dipped in bucket of ice water and hand to me as I went by.

For nutrition, in addition to Gatorade was taking a gel and salt stick every 45 minutes. At 19 last salt stick and 21 last gel as I have found to do good on last 6 need gel around 21. One funny story is that at one point I went over to the side and just stopped. A lady was concerned that I stopped so fast and ran over to see if I was OK. I then told her “I am OK I am just peeing” she told me that was good and to enjoy the pee. Note: I was SO wet that I felt was OK to pee in shorts.

Because of the heat I decided that would run by feel and not by a select pace. But was surprised that my body decided to do around 8:20 pace and in some case faster. I also found that after .5 miles with no water I would start to slow down (to a 8:40 pace) but then after water stop would speed up, with same effort. I also made a big effort to hit as much shade as I could. A few places I would run off the bike path and run under the trees in the shade.

A little after 5 mi started a long uphill to mile 6 were greeted by lady with water hose to cool me down then little was further before turn around and head back. At around mile 13 started on the 2nd loop. I was feeling it a little but decided to keep to the same pace. At 19 mi started the long climb again and most people were walking but I was able to grind up at 10:30 pace with my goal of getting to the water hose at the top of the hill. After turning around was able to do sub 7:20 pace coming down the hill and at this point decided to focus on my cadence. At mile 23 was starting to get excited as so close and began to pick it up. At around mile 25.5 I ran through the water stop and the smiles came on my face and the celebration began. With 4 blocks to go you have a downhill through town and can see the finish. At this time my hands were in the air and it was amazing. The finish was a block long and I was clapping people’s hands on both sides as announcer stated “Craig Stoller from New Hampshire, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.

After finishing I had a little concern as my jaw was sore so talked to medical. She told me that I was OK as I was just smiling too much.

In this Marathon was about the best I have felt the last 6 and this was my 47th Marathon.

What did I do correct? Towel on head under hat to keep cool, use a hat and not visor (as can hold more water and ice), Good nutrition on Bike, Good nutrition on Run, and GREAT volunteers.

What did I do incorrect? Nothing.


I Can, and I Will

I’ve made several attempts at dropping to feather weight (129 lbs in the Gi), and each time I have hit a wall at 133 lbs, gotten fed up, and given up. I have given myself many excuses for quitting, all of which are logical. 

So yet again, I find myself making the attempt to cut. My goal is to make it to at least 126 to give myself a little wiggle room.

I hit my wall again at 133. This time, however, I have some accountability (hi Taylor!) and after pondering quitting, I decided that I WILL make weight. If for no other reason but to shut up my excuses.

As of this writing, I have made it to 130 and I see light at the end of the tunnel! What is doing the trick for me is an hour of fasted cardio first thing in the morning. I do this by setting a fast walk on a max incline treadmill. It was pretty hard to focus until I found the correct soundtrack that would enable me to just zone out/in and it becomes fairly meditative as I spend an hour just focusing on goals and visualizing outcomes.

It’s odd to wake up and see abs for the first time in my life!

I have started to stall a little bit again with the drop in the past few days, so I am going to change it up again. My shoulder has started feeling a bit loose, I’m adding in my rehab Kettlebell circuit in the afternoons. It has the combined benefit of stabilizing my hypermobile joints, and also acts as a mid-intensity circuit. Here is a quick video I filmed explaining this routine! 

Weight Cut and Video Update

I have been pretty busy (and fairly cranky with this weight cut) lately and haven’t taken the time to write. So I offer the gift of video logs of my training this past weekend!

With this cut I am having to do 30 minutes of cardio, twice a day. I elected to do the treadmill set on a max incline. It makes me angry and I only make it through by useage of my most excellent collection of motivational soundtracks.

Pan Ams are just about three weeks away! Aaaaahhhh!

Saturday Evening (14 Feb) with Katherine

Sunday Morning (15 Feb) with Ruth

Circuit Training Motivation


Well I had a great time this morning with my good friend known only as “The Circuit”. I look pretty beat in this picture, but this was actually my less exhausted take. I looked so dramatic in the other ones that they appeared fake!

I did 5 rounds of a 6 minute circuit with a 2 minute rest in between each. This circuit included burpees, prison walks, tire pushups, overhead weighted squats, etc. By the end, I managed to punch out just over 100 burpees!

Halfway through the 4th round, my quads started trying to give out on me. I’m definitely going to feel it in the morning. Shoot, I feel it now!

I’m really focusing on my conditioning for the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Pan Ams. Last year I got gassed in the finals, and lost by an advantage. I don’t want that to happen again! I want to go, knowing that I am in the best shape of my life and can trust in the techniques that I drill for hours a day. If that’s not good enough, at least I know I gave it the best that I have to give now. I have no qualms loosing to a superior opponent, but I refuse to lose because I didn’t prepare like I should have.

I found this amazing motivational cd on itunes by “Muscle Prodigy TV” entitled “It’s All On You” – I think it is going to be my new favorite thing to listen to in the mornings. Shoot, I even had it set as my alarm on my ipad! I highly recommend it – you can purchase it on iTunes for just under $10. Best money I’ve ever spent on a digital item before. I listened to it through my circuit, and it kept me pumped up and focused!

It’s a collection of inspirational speeches, with dramatic background music. That’s the kind of thing that gets me going – I’m curious what sort of music/soundtracks get you going! Please comment below!

Sunday Fun Day

Finally wrapping up an immensely full day!

Did circuit training this morning and it was a blast! It used to be just myself and Ruth, but a few of the other ladies have started joining in on the action.

Here’s the video we made today. I edited it down a bit, but it was a 6 minute circuit repeated 3 times. Coach wants us working up to 5 rounds with a one minute rest.

I’ve come to the determination after watching myself on film that I some odd speech mannerisms. I’m totally gonna rock it though!

I’m going to talk with coach tomorrow about creating a time slot for this circuit training other than just on Sunday. Maybe Tuesday and Thursday evenings methinks?

Video Shoot
We did filming after circuits for the upcoming “Move of The Week” video series. Now just gotta wait for the intro to be completed so I can get that rolling!

And Now For Something Completely Different…
I spent the rest of the day designing a webpage for a local business. I got it all done and they were quite thrilled with it, and I get paid tomorrow! Yayness!

Grocery Shopping
I’m not cutting weight anymore, but can’t bring myself to junk out. I just stocked up on poultry, eggs, and some açai bowl fixings. On that note I close this blog post. My blender is calling!


Circuits, Weight Classes, and… Mexico?

Well I introduced the ladies in my Saturday morning class to circuit training today! We started off with just a three minute circuit with three minutes to recover in between – we will eventually work it up to a five minute circuit with a minute rest in between.

Today we drilled loop chokes from half guard. Our position this week has been guard, but one of my ladies has sore ribs and a bum wrist – so we worked around it!

Mexico City Training Camp:

I just registered for a training camp in Mexico City with Mackenzie Dern and Sophia Drysdale. It will be at the end of July, and I am EXTREMELY excited for it already! Get your registration in now to reserve a spot!

Ladies Jiu Jitsu Training Camp

Weight Classes:

In other news, I talked with my coach yesterday about my weight cut. He decided he wants me to stick with light weight instead of continuing my drop to feather weight. Not gonna lie, I’m kind of happy about that!

Size wise, I fit in the feather division better. Problem being, my doc says I have very dense muscle, so I weigh a lot more than I look. I’d have to lose a substantial amount of muscle to make featherweight, and that isn’t safe for me because of my hypermobility.

Meaning: I’m currently 132, so coach wants me back up to 137-138. I’m not just gonna fluff up though. I’m sticking with eating really clean, upping my caloric intake, and adding more strength training into my routine. I will confess, I’m going out for Italian food tomorrow for dinner with friends – but i’ll burn through that in no time flat!

See what Tournaments I’ll be at next! I love to meet people!

Hello 2014!!!!

New year, and new look for my blog!

I started my year off with circuit training followed by an hour of drilling the morning of the 1st. Did three massages, and then another circuit. Oh, and I did a cool video of it!

Kudos to you if you watched the whole thing!

My awesome sponsors at Raijin Fightwear liked this video so much that they have requested I start a “move of the week” video series. I’ll be filming some of that this Sunday after circuit training – They are even designing me a cool custom video intro! I’m so excited to get started with that! I am of course just a blue belt, so I definitely still have a lot to learn – but I have learned some good things in the last two years that are worth sharing.

Weight Cutting:
I’m in the process of cutting down to feather weight. I did 2013 at light weight, walking around at about 145 and cutting to 138 for competitions. It was recommended to me that I try feather based on my body size. Currently I’m weighing in at 130 and am shooting for 126 to make 129 in my Gi. Coach says I am pretty close to my limit of what my body will allow me to do, so it’s slow going at this time. I’ll probably post more about this later (maybe a few angry posts).

Ladies Team:
I love my ladies team! It’s slowly starting to pick up a bit, and I am now teaching a Saturday morning class as well as the Friday evening one. Coach says he will eventually have me take over the program – I’m being groomed it appears. I’m very excited that this year we have a confirmed 4 ladies from our school going to the Pan Ams, as opposed to last year being just me.

I’ve been drilling a lot lately – one good thing about the ladies is that they love to drill! Getting in at least an hour a day on top of class time.
I’m finally starting to feel competent as a blue belt, it took me a few months to get in the swing of it but I’m good now!

My first competition of the year will be the IBJJF San Francisco Open on Feb 9. It will be my debut as a featherweight. It’s a bit of a distance to travel, but since the Chicago tournament falls after Pan Ams this year, this is my chance to test my new weight class out before Pans.
NAGA is going to be in Nashville on Feb 22nd so I think I’ll try out the expert and intermediate divisions if they will let me do both – otherwise I may just go to coach and save the money for my Pan Ams trip.

Hmmm I think that is about it for now. I’ll probably think up some other things to say tomorrow. It’s almost drilling time again!

Strength & Conditioning Training

I never thought that I could both love, and hate, the same person – at the same exact time!

This new strength and conditioning coach is killing me!

Yea, that’s what it’s like…

At least I know I won’t get tired next weekend at No Gi Pan Ams!

Black Belt Conspiracy

Well I had some good training over the weekend. No rolling, but lots of biking and kettlebells. I have added two new things to my kettlebell circuit on Sunday. I’ve added snatches, and then this:

Yea I know, it’s not kettlebells… but it’s just as awesome! This was my last rep of this exercise and I think I took a little bit of aggression out on those poor innocent ropes!

When I got home last night, I made up some Acai – I’m working on perfecting my recipe and I’m pretty close to perfection with this latest batch!


Ah sweet glory!
Ah sweet glory!

I made two varieties. One with pineapple, and one with blackberry. The blackberry was the winner for sure! Wish I had a good ice cream maker so I could make it nice and smooth. Oh well, still amazing!

photo (7)I got to roll with three black belts today and have come to a conclusion. They all got together and decided “hey you know what would be funny? Let’s all do nothing but knee bars and heel hooks on Nicholle today!” They are out to get me. It’s some kind of conspiracy! What’s next? Toe Holds and Biceps Slicers???? Aaaaaaahhhhh!!!!

The only other option is that I’m doing something to give it to them… But that’s impossible! I am perfect in every way!


I’ve had a gnarly headache off and on since Worlds. I think it’s from getting slammed twice in my first match. I’m gonna try seeing the chiro tomorrow to see if there’s anything he can do to help!