Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

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Dave Nase, Terri Contaxis and her son Michael, Paul Rallo, Alex Maziola, Mike Walter, Jen Cunningham, Marcello Pedalino and Jake Jacobsen

It’s not often that you get a 60 degree sunny day at the end of November.  Today, mother nature was on our side for the Navesink River Challenge, a scenic 9.3 mile run in Ocean County, NJ.

The course was uncharacteristically hilly for the Jersey Shore.  I’m glad that I’ve been doing resistance training, core circuits, and swimming at the gym…otherwise, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

A shout out to Mike, who used today’s race as a springboard to get back on track to doing ’50 in 50 by 50.’ (50 marathons in 50 states by 50 years old)  He’s currently at 14 and recovering from an Achilles’ heel surgery.   Run, Forrest, Run! Special mention also goes out to my friend, Jake, who has transformed his body over the past year by using the P90X system. He looks like a Navy SealHoorah Master Chief!

This Is Sparta!!

This Is Sparta!!

Speaking of great movies, I probably got the coolest race tag number that was available, 300. The Spirit of the Spartan warriors was with me the whole time.

In addition to sunshine, fresh air and great company, the highlight of the day for me came at the end of the race.  Just past the typical bagels, bananas and other ho-hum post-race culinary swag: rows of steaming cups adorned the table.  It was chicken noodle soup! Even if it wasn’t as good as mom’s, it was the best chicken noodle soup I’ve ever had after running  almost ten miles on a brisk Sunday morning.   Yummy.

Life is good.  🙂

NJ vs. Ireland: Gangemi’s Gloves Stay Golden

The Gangemi VIP fan club

Anthony and his dad, (middle), with the Gangemi V.I.P fan club

3 days a week you’ll find me at the West Morris YMCA in Randolph, NJ.  From 6:30 am to 9:00 am, I work out with a small group of fellow fitness enthusiasts who do a combination of core training,  plyometrics, cardio circuits and interval swimming in order  to stay in shape for upcoming events.

Over the past year, I started working on the heavy bag to continue the great advice that most exercise pros preach, “keep it fresh, fun, and challenging.  Change up your workouts at least every two weeks.”

Anthony earns a 3rd round decision

Gangemi earns a 3rd round decision and makes Nj proud

Since the heavy bag usually just collects dust, certain members notice when you use it.  One member in particular is a now a great friend, Bob Sim, a wonderful soul who preaches family values and hard work by walkin’ the walk. He  told me about Anthony Gangemi, the 2009 New Jersey State Champ in the 165 lb. weight class.  Anthony and his dad, John, also work out at the YMCA, but are usually leaving as I’m arriving.

After Bob introduced me to Anthony and John, I discovered 2 more people that I could be influenced by in a positive way. When my schedule permitted, attending a live event and supporting the Gangemi family was a no-brainer.

This outing was Anthony’s Dover Boxing Club of New Jersey vs. Ireland. No, not just kids who are half Irish like me, these guys actually flew in and talked like the guys from U2! The international vibe made it very exciting.

The Irish Boxers entered the arena in style

The Irish Boxers entered the arena in style

Here’s where this blog entry relates to a professional DJ.  Regardless of the type of event taking place, music programming is key. You assess the demographic in attendance and design the play list accordingly.  Here’s the breakdown, there were about two hundred men and 50 women between the ages of 18 and 70 all pumped up to see a great night of fights.  When the doors opened, no music was being played, the venue was uncomfortably quiet and emotionless.  An ambiance was non-existent. Then, as the pre-fight cocktail hour and dinner was half way over, the music finally kicked on, albeit at various volume levels.  Moreover, the selections were eclectic, to be kind.  She’s Like The Wind, by Patrick Swayze and Right Here Waiting, By Richard Marx etc.  had more than one head turning in the crowd.  A few at my table joked that it felt more like a couples skate at a 1980’s roller rink than a Golden Gloves match.  The consensus was that the DJ had his laptop on auto-play so whatever song came up was the song that blasted out. Yikes!

Bob and George pose with one of the Ring Girls

Smooth operators, Bob and George pose with one of the Ring Girls

Just so you don’t think I’m picking on the DJ, the proverbial straw that broke the entertainer’s  back came during the national anthems.  For us, he played a great version of the Star Spangled Banner by Whitney Houston.  Just when we we all ready to forgive and forget the first hour of selections, the DJ cranked up what he thought was the Irish National Anthem…  “Danny Boy“.   Oops! To be honest, I didn’t know that the actual Irish anthem was (Ámhrán na bhFiann),”A Soldier’s Song” either until I looked it up for this blog entry, but everybody in the crowd certainly knew that it wasn’t Danny Boy.  It made for some light-hearted laughs, even the Irish athletes were good sports about it.

As the night went on, the soundtrack  improved dramatically.  I think that had a lot to do with the promoter and venue manager having a little chat with Mr. DJ.

Marcello and the champ

Marcello and the champ

We saw some awesome fights, about 20 total.  We even saw a few female bouts as well.   Picture a combination of G.I Jane and Wonder Woman wearing  a pair of boxing gloves and a serious game face… pretty impressive.

Anthony’s match was of course, the highlight.  He took on a formidable opponent that gave him a good fight, but Anthony scored a few key body shots that helped earn a well-deserved victory after three rounds.

Best wishes and continued success to the Gangemi family.

Here’s a clip of Anthony in a recent interview with a local sports channel.

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