Day 2 of PrimalCon 2012 is done, and it was possibly the best yet.
It wasn’t the fact that the sun came out and the clouds went away and we spent the day outdoors. And it wasn’t just because they doubled the burger portions for lunch and served Asian-cut short ribs, three kinds of salad, and beets for dinner that made it so awesome. Nor was it the several dozen bottles of red wine served with dinner. All that stuff was incredible and definitely contributed, but the real reason today rocked most was that the structure of the day and its content was free and open-ended. Rather than have more formal lectures by top experts where attendees consumed information and insight, day 2 was about attendees engaging other attendees and the experts on their own terms.
The day began with Angelo dela Cruz’s VitaMove session, designed to loosen limbs and clear out the morning (mental) fog. While I’m not sure VitaMove could completely replace a cup of coffee, it certainly complements it.
Shortly after 8:00, once everyone had gathered, the groups split off for either the sprinting clinic with Michael Stember or the group Survivor Challenge. I won’t even try to explain the convoluted intricacies of the challenge, but rest assured that it involved sand dune chases, frantic digging, puzzles, and teamwork.
Michael Stember, former Olympian, broke the ideal running technique down step-by-comprehensive-step, covering things like breathing and hand position and ankle flexibility and elbow angle in addition to what most people imagine when they think of running – the foot hitting the ground. This is the stuff you’d never think of on your own – you’d just “go run” – but that makes the difference between an Olympian and someone who just runs. Oh, and he wore at least three different brightly colored track suits throughout the day, looking a bit like a Russian mobster with exquisite running form.
Lunch was held at a beach house about 3/4 of a mile from the park. The menu was the same as the last day’s, only with more of everything. Good thing, too; the line of hungry attendees stretched out the door, all the mac nut-cashew butter disappeared (a couple gallons worth), and I saw plates piled high with three or four grass-fed wagyu burgers. Folks were hungry!
Next was free time. For roughly three hours, the schedule was wide open. Impromptu sessions were popping up all over: Timothy  led three sessions of sledgehammers, including a private one for yours truly; Kelly  talked mobility some more to a huge crowd, showing people how to “mash” their quads to clean out any nasty tight bits, and used Mark as an example (you can see him wincing); I had the distinct pleasure of mashing Barefoot Ted ‘s quads until he practically begged for mercy; Erwan  walked up a vertical pole, then showed others how to follow; William Vives (formerly Billy) gave kettlebell lessons and then got some Olympic lifting lessons himself; Ted gave trotting lessons; Monisha White  did her mom, Esther, proud and gave a fantastic talk on posture that had me actively rolling my scapula back in place all day and night; Angelo was working fascia and correcting dysfunction; and all the while attendees were connecting with each other and playing around on the equipment.
Right around 4:30, a couple hours before dinner was set to start, groups split up and either attended Chef Rachel ‘s cooking demo or Erwan’s introductory MovNat  session. This was the kind of situation where you couldn’t really go wrong:
Both presenters showed incredible attention to detail. Rachel’s simple tips about knife work, prep work, seasoning, and other stuff may have seemed minor, but they are invaluable to anyone who actually cooks. Erwan’s cues for movement may have spanned just a few words, if that, but they spoke volumes.
Both presenters gave practical advice. Everyone eats, and so everyone who cares about their food has to cook for themselves, but everyone also has to move, and so everyone who moves learned something from Erwan.
Both presenters stressed the importance of precision and efficiency. Erwan performed efficient movement done with the minimum amount of force required to complete the movement successfully and gracefully; Rachel performed efficient movement in the kitchen done with the minimum amount of extraneous steps required to complete the cooking movement successfully and deliciously.
Both presenters made everyone there realize they had a lot of work to do on themselves. It’s a humbling but necessary thing to realize.
And then dinner arrived. It was held at the same beach house as lunch, only this time there were four dozen bottles of wine. The food ran a little late, and I could sense the collective tension in the house, but as soon as the wine went around, everything just released. The mood went from anxious insistent hunger to the best rager you’ve ever been to (consult the Urban Dictionary if you need that one defined ), only without the rohypnol, the keg, and the guy with the guitar who insists on playing “Wonderwall.” People were lining the stairways, squeezed onto couches, and spilling out into hallways.
The coolest part, at least for me, was that the conversations weren’t necessarily about this weird food we eat or the funny toe shoes or “How did you discover Primal?” There was some of that, but mostly it was people who had finally realized that they were among like minds. They didn’t have to talk about how different they were, because they weren’t anymore. They were home, in a way. We all were.
Oh, one more thing: during a dinner conversation about beets (what do you talk about at dinner?), four out of six people I talked to claimed that they taste like dirt. What? Is this a thing, like how some people have a genetic aversion to cilantro or a predilection for asparagus to make their urine smell especially bad? I thought everyone liked a good beet. Are I and Dwight Schrute alone in our love for them? Let me know.
Tomorrow’s the last day, and it’s a little sad, but what can you do except go out and make the most of what’s left? Til then, folks. Thanks for reading, and start making your plans to come out in 2013!