Monday, December 6, 2010

2nd email for the Adopt and athlete program

Here is the second email I sent to the elementary class that in Vancouver that has adopted me through the Canadian Olympic Adopt an Athlete program!

Hey Guys and Gals! 

Thanks for the great questions this week, I have answered them as best I could!

1. Why did you choose beach over indoor volleyball?

Well I played every sport under the sun before I was 10 but my main focus at that point in my life was swimming. I was ranked in the top 10 in Canada for the freestyle 50 meter sprint and I still have records that haven't been broken from 16 and 17 years ago! Sadly I had an allergic reaction to chlorine so I had to stop swimming and I found beach volleyball in a fun professional demonstration event that was played in a local ice arena when I was 10. I couldn't stop thinking about it and told myself in grade 6 that I would move to Australia to play pro!!! I started playing in tournaments when I was 14 and I have been leading my Olympic dream since then.

2. Do you know the opponents you play?

This is a great question. I do know many of my opponents because alot of the time we are taking the same airplanes and staying in the same hotels. We get to know each other off the beach and I am really good friends with guys and gals from New Zealand, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, Norway, England and France. 

3. What % sure are you that you will make it to the Olympics

This is a very difficult question to answer because it is 2 years away and a lot can happen between now and then. With over 100 teams trying for 24 spots in the Olympics the competition is fierce. Lets just keep it simple and say that the odds are 50/50.

4. Do you ever relax at the beach?

One of the reasons I love beach volleyball so much is because of the beach! It is my favourite place to hang out because of the waves, the sun, the people and all the fun activities that can be enjoyed in the sand. If I could, I would be on the beach every day for the rest of my life!

5. Favorite food after a match

After a match I love a good pasta meal. Big chunks of italian sausage or chicken with a nice margarita sauce is delicious!

6. Favorite move in beach volleyball

I would say that nothing beats the feeling of a really big block on someone. That is my favourite thing to do to my opponent.

7. Cohen loved the alligator response and is now quite curious about great white sharks

Well Cohen, thanks for asking. I find white sharks to be extremely interesting because they are so powerful and so feared which in some part has turned them into an endangered species. Did you know that if a white shark stops swimming it will sink and drown?! Also I really enjoyed the Planet Earth video where it showed the sharks jumping out of the water to hunt seals in slow motion, that was really cool. 

8. We were also hoping you could recommend a video of you playing. We already watched Can 1 vs. USA 1 in Cayman islands with Ray.

Well without being biased I would recommend the video of us playing in the National Championship final where we won!

There is also a really neat one where I am playing with a partner named ray against a German team on Ipanema beach in Brazil. You might enjoy that one because I show a bit of the beach and the scenery is amazing with the "Two Brothers" mountains in the background.

And to you Jackson, thanks for the videos. Pretty neat to see giant squid in their natural habitat because they are normally so deep in water. Did you hear about the time when a lot of them washed up on the beaches of Tofino on Vancouver Island? Here is the link to the story.

And to keep with our little tradition of watching videos, I wanted to send you my favourite funny video of all time. It is called "Bizkit the sleep walking dog" and it is HILARIOUS!

Until the next email!!!

All the best and keep working hard.

Martin Reader
2010 Canadian Champion
Youtube - beachballincanada

"You are as strong as your drive"

Adopt an Athlete program

Recently one of my best friends Sean Rupert introduced a program to me where a school class adopts a national team athlete. The program is called Adopt and Athlete and it is run through the Canadian Olympic Committee. 

Sean is a teacher in Vancouver and was keen to give this interactive fundraising program a shot. It would be a great opportunity to involve myself with a community, share my dreams, challenge individuals and positively influence youth to follow their dreams and pursue their passions! Sean and I dove right in immediately and I thought it would be neat to blog the interactions I am having with the class! 

We have had two back and forth messages and I will be visiting their classroom this week for the first time! I am super excited! 

Here is the first email we shared. Enjoy, there great, funny and rogue questions! 

Sean's first email -

We gave a little info of we are from University Hill Elementary and we are Div 3 (grade 6) and Div 12 (grade 2/3). We live in Vancouver and loved the Olympics in 2010!!!!

Here is what we want to know:

  • What age did you start playing beach volleyball?
  • How old are you? (we want to do the math to figure out how long you have played)
  • Who is your partner?
  • What sports are your favorite to watch?
  • What do you do when you aren t paying beach?
  • Where are you from? (I didn't tell them)
  • How did you learn volley?
Also Cohen is wondering if you like alligators.....totally random, inappropriate questions. But funny and i am curious!

Andrea (the other teacher) and i will read your response to the class. 

The kids are excited!!!

My response -

Unreal! Love how this is happening, you are right on it!

Here are the answers to your questions.

  • What age did you start playing beach volleyball?

I started playing beach volleyball when I was 14 years old. I saw there was a tournament in Parksville on Vancouver Island that summer and entered with my first partner named Patrick Gallager. 
  • How old are you? (we want to do the math to figure out how long you have played)

I am 26 years old 
  • Who is your partner?

The partner I am going to qualify with for the 2012 Olympic Games is going to be Chaim Schalk. He is a 6'5 and will play defence behind me. He is a fun guy and has a large blonde afro!  
  • What sports are your favorite to watch?

I love watching tennis, snowboarding, ping pong and diving  
  • What do you do when you aren t paying beach?

I have a passion for physical training so I am always in the gym working out. I also love to snowboard, surf and listen to music! 
  • Where are you from? (I didn't tell them)

I am from the Comox Valley which is in the middle of vancouver island on the east coast. To get there you need to take a BC ferries to Nanaimo and then drive 1 1/4 hours north on the Island Highway.
  • How did you learn volley?

I learnt volley when I was in grade 5 and have been playing it every year since then. I played basketball, soccer, volleyball and did track and swimming until grade 8 when I chose volleyball as my main sport. I am still learning how to play volleyball every day and I know I will learn every time I play until I retire from beach volleyball.

And for you Cohen, do I like Alligators? We'll I ever since I did a project on Crocodiles in grade six I have been very fascinated with them large reptiles! I love the you tube clip "Battle at Kruger" which is an amazing video involving crocodiles, lions and water buffalo. Also, when I was in India I saw their largest Crocodile! You can see in the photo he is ENORMOUS at 23 feet long.

Thanks for the letter and talk soon!


Martin Reader 
2010 National Champion
Youtube - beachballincanada

"You are as strong as your drive"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crossfit day 28 - a date with Cindy

I am pretty sore from this week but am feeling amazing. Yesterday's surprise running main page WOD added some soreness but overall I am still functional and fully capable of completing WOD's to the best of my abilities.

I stepped into strength this morning and launched 295lbs for 3 sets of 5 reps with relative ease. I am really happy with my gains in deadlifts, squats and front squats because it still feels like I am lifting the weights I started with a month and a half ago. The slow progression of adding 5 pounds a workout has allowed me to adapt quickly and adjust perfectly to the linear progression.

Push press was up next and I destroyed that as well with 155lbs for 3 sets of 5 reps. My wrists are getting more flexible so I can carry the weight better while resting it on my shoulders before pressing. I am getting more wholesome leverage on the bar and with a full grip and maximal push from my lower body the weight seemed light. I love improving!!!!

I then did a wonderful yoga session with Katie. It was just Marc and I today so we had a really nice intensive workout which seemed to be perfectly designed to loosen our shoulders and hips from this week's rigorous activity.

I went home and caught up on two weeks of blogging (sorry, I wasn't on top of it and fell behind) and then returned to Titanium Crossfit for a date with Cindy.

Cindy is a little lady who usually goes by the description of as many reps as possible in 20 minutes of
5 Pull ups
10 Push Ups
15 Squats

I love going into the gym in the morning for strength so I get a peek at the workout of the day so I know what I am returning to in the afternoon. Cindy was on my mind all day and I was so prepared to bring her down!

I ripped off my first set in 35 seconds and clearly my pace decreased over the 20 minutes. I felt like I was screaming "ROUND" every 10 seconds, chalk was flying everywhere and my towel, shirt and arm bands were sopping with sweat as I aspired to hit my goal of 18 rounds.

Not knowing how to pace myself I was able to crush every set of 5 pull ups together but had to split my push ups into smaller sets after the fourth round. I went for 5 reps, 2 reps, 2 reps and 1 rep to complete the 10 total reps with just two breaths in between the 2's and 1. Squatting is a strength of mine so I was able to pump them out unbroken without suffering too badly.

Well the beauty of Crossfit is that you are against time, therefore you must change your perception of rest and breaks. I performed all 20 minutes with no more than 4 or 5 breath breaks where I wiped my hands and chalked them up before pull ups. This workout was a beast and Cindy certainly broke me down so that at 20 minutes I collapsed to the floor.

My lungs are bigger, my muscles are firmer and I am moving my body weight (which is 222lbs and more than I have ever weighed in my life) like back when I was in college at 195lbs.

I am happy and I am toast but I crave more. Damn you Crossfit, I am under your spell!

Helping back home

It is always a pleasure to come home to rest and train but the most enjoyable part of the experience for me is coming back to a fresh batch of kids who are eager to play volleyball!!!

I always work with my mother's elementary school and this year we had over 24 grade 6's and 7's who wanted to play! The kids were keen and my mother opened the gym 8 times a week (4 morning/4 afternoon sessions) so the kids could improve as much as possible during the short season

Over a 7 week period I helped them a couple times a week and we went from barely being able to bump balls against a wall to pepper and consistently making 3 hits a side during rallies! There were spikes, a few blocks but mostly the kids really improved on their ability to control the ball once on their side of the net.

We really worked on calling the ball and serving tough with few errors and by the end of the training period we had one of the fiercest volley teams in the school district!

Here is a video I put together of our last practice as well as of the last playday for the boys. It was a blast to be around such energetic and coachable kids and I can't wait until next year's season!

Our fashion show in Chennai, India

A little video summary of our trip to Chennai, India

Video of us visiting the orphanage in Chennai, India

Crossfit day 27

December 1st -Strength.

I moved 235lbs in my bench press for 3 sets of 5 reps no problems. Looks like I am moving to 240 next week!!! I then hit up some ring dips for 4 sets of 6 reps with good form but I am super shaky on my 5th and 6th reps.

Then I was convinced to step into a main page sprinting workout with Marc and Jesse. The workout was
1 mile run - 3 minutes rest
3/4 mile run - 2 minutes rest
1/2 mile run - 1 minute rest
1/4 mile run

I was planning on going soft and easy but after the first mile run I turned it up a notch and by the time I got to my 1/2 mile run I poured on the gas! I ran super hard in the final 1/4 mile and was really pleased with the following times!

1 mile - 6:28 (easy pace cause I hadn't run in a long time)
3/4 mile - 4:11 (upped it a bit but still had lots in the tank)
1/2 mile - 2:47 (stepped on it on the last 1/4 mile)
1/4 mile - 1:18 (ran hard for as long as I could)

I went home and napped and returned to hit the WOD of 5 rounds of deadlifts at 275lbs and 10 burpees for time. I finished in 5:13 and I pushed it nicely. I was pretty sore from running but I powered through the burpees and had no issues with the deadlifts. Good times!

I then hit up single arm 55lb Kettlebell snatch swings for 6 rounds of 7 reps with each arm. It really destroyed my fingers but I nailed the movement after my second rep.

Crossfit day 26

November 30th started with a nice easy foam rolling session and then I eased into a wonderful power yoga class. I went home, napped and returned to the gym for the WOD.

Our workout of the day was as many reps as possible in 15 minutes of 5 overhead squats with 95lbs, 10 knees to elbows and 15 kettle bell swings.

I kept a mean pace and completed 8 full rounds in 15 minutes!!!!!!! It was a great workout for me and I really pushed through a few mental barriers as my body was hurting! 

I then stuck around and did an Olympic training session with a qualified coach who happens to live in the Comox Valley! I did a bunch of snatches and wound up learning the movement and putting 185lbs overhead! For a lanky 6'7 guy I think that is pretty good, however, my height and length will never be an excuse so I will continue to improve that number. I can't wait to be putting over 250lbs overhead! 

I then power cleaned 235lbs for 5 sets of 1 and did some great video analysis on it. My form is looking excellent and I am getting more and more confident each time I work the movement. 

Crossfit day 25

November 29th was a late starting Monday and I paid for it later in the day with a killer WOD.

It started with a 500 meter rowing sprint followed by 3 round sof 10 hang cleans at 135lbs, 20 push ups and 30 squats. Once those 3 rounds were completed you had to rock 50 double under skips as a last little gasser. This workout was pretty serious and I finished it in 12:24.

I quickly left the gym and rolled to Vanier where I practiced with the boys before they left for the Provincial Championships. Stoked to help them out and send them on their way!

Crossfit day 24

November 27th brings Strength on a wonderful little Saturday. Back Squats and Deadlifts are the topic of lifting for the day and some snatch explosions which I learnt last week in an Olympic lifting session with an amazing coach in the Comox Valley.

I squatted 285 for 3 sets of 5 and deadlifted 350lbs for 2 sets of 5 reps. I then did my snatch explosions with 225lbs for 2 sets of 3 and then 185 for 3 sets of 3.

The snatch explosion is where you take the bar from the ground all the way up to a fully engaged hip thrust into the bar timed with a maximal shrug. These two movements combined improve your general power from the floor and really force maximal engagement with your calves, hips and upper back to get the weight as high as possible in the least amount of time. I am loving the Olympic lifting and have noticed nice gains in my speed and general strength. I can't wait to test my vertical when I get to Toronto!

Crossfit day 23

My body is sore but that has never stopped me before. I am not feeling like anything is going to snap or break, it is more of a deep hurt stemming from workouts that have pushed my limits. Eager to continue pushing those limits I jump into the days workout.

5 rounds of 10 thrusters, 15 knees to elbows and 10 sumo deadlift high pulls. I saw it on the board and didn't think much of it but oh my goodness was I ever wrong! This on was a silent killer and left be BAGGED with a total time of 12:24. Holy smokes was I ever punched as my forearms were barely functional. To top it off I decided to do 3 sets of 10 strict ring pull ups with minimal hand grip to continue with the day's theme of grip strength.

Crossfit day 22

Today was a strength day with power cleans. I was super sore from the long week but decided to push forward.

I moved my weight up in cleans from 45lbs all the way up to 225 for a single rep. I then pushed to 230lbs but failed on my first attempt and decided I was too toast to go heavy. I dropped to 165lbs where I did 3 sets of 5 reps with clean form.

I then did yoga with my fave teacher which helped me refresh but still counted as a nice workout.  I am fatigued but not overtrained and I will monitor the next couple training days so I don't hurt myself.

Crossfit Day 21

The WOD was 21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps of the following circuit

Wall ball
Box jumps (30 inches)
Kettle Bell Swings (55lbs)
Double Under skips

This workout was very difficult and I pushed as hard as I could for a time of 13:11.

We then fooled around withs some box jump heights and we wound up making a video out of it! Check it out below. After the jumps I did 40 ab roll outs and called it a day!

Crossfit Day 20

November 23rd I hit strength even though I had just done totals the day before. I pushed my front squat from 245 to 250 for 3 sets of 5 reps and also increased my bench from 230 to 235 although I wasn't able to complete my last set of 5 due to failure on the 4th rep. This means I won't be able to increase my weight in bench until I can destroy 235 for 3 clean sets of 5 reps. I guess I had to hit my max somewhere!

I then did yoga at Crossfit with the amazing instructor by the name of Katie. She is wonderful and I love yoga with her. Need I say more?

I then played vball with the Vanier highschool team from 3-5 and then stepped into the WOD at crossfit around 5:15.

The WOD was "FRAN" which is 21-15-9 reps of Thrusters followed by pull ups. It is a bench mark workout and I completed it in 5:58 for my first time. Not a great time by any means but I guess the first time you do a benchmark workout you don't want it to be amazing!

Crossfit Day 18/19 with 1 rep total maxes!

On Saturday the 20th I kept it simple and improved my front squat and bench.

I hit 245 on my front squat for 3 sets of 5 and then 230 for 3 sets of 5 on bench. Solid numbers and I am pleased I am putting up over 2 plates a side for my bench press! Two plates has always been a weight I have struggle with for reps and I have finally pushed through and am now building past it with no pain and 100% range of motion in my shoulder.

On Monday the 22nd we did Crossfit totals. They take your max 1 rep weight for squat, push press and deadlift and add them for a total score. I had never done it before but figured pushing 1000 pounds was a reasonable goal to set! Well I lifted some heavy weight and scored 1005 total pounds!!!! Super stoked!

I hit 385 on my back squat, 165 on my push press and 455 on my deadlift. Here is the video of my successes and failures!

Crossfit day 17

I have slacked as of late with my postings and will try to keep the last 10 days quick and tight as I play catch-up.

November 19th brought 10 one minute all out sprints on the rowing erg divided by one full minute of rest. I LOVE sprinting cardio stuff and I knew this one would kill me!

Mark Mazzocchi the trainer and owner of Titanium Crossfit made 3000 meters a must for the men and threatened to punish us with 1 burpy for ever meter we were under 3000. HEAVY!!!

My goal was to get to 3000 with 9 sprints as I am longer than most and have an advantage rowing. I went balls to the wall in all of the sprints and missed my goal of the by 35 meters in the 9th sprint; four more pulls and I would have had it! I wrenched through the 10th sprint with as much vigour as I could and battled to 3269 meters in 10 minutes of work. This marked the first time I lied down and couldn't find a comfortable position because my body was in so much pain.

I tried to do 20 abb roll outs but my hamstrings cramped. I ended it there with nothing left in the tank and was very satisfied with my output as I went to what I felt was 97% of my human potential. I pushed to the wall and challenged my maximum and I know that I won't experience that kind of pain for some time to come.