A Brief Review of PrimalCon
I figured that if I didn't get to go to this, I would at least want to read a review from someone who did. So, here's my report.
It. Was. AWESOME!!!!!1!!!11!!!!
Did you want more detail than that? Well, if you insist.
PrimalCon was held on the beach at Oxnard, a short drive from my own home but a place I had never visited. It was absolutely beautiful, with wind-swept dunes, broad, grassy parks, and a charming population of retirees and friendly personnel from the nearby naval base at Port Hueneme. I've seen a lot of beach towns in my years in California but this was one of the nicest. If you're ever there, I recommend the Ventura County Maritime Museum with its enthusiastic docents and enrapturing exhibits from the golden age of sail. Did you know French prisoners of war passed their time constructing flawless models of ships, with no plans except their own imagination, using just the bone and sinew from their rations? Those models are on exhibit, and they really brought home to me how much latent potential we all have, waiting for us to tap into it.
My wife and I attended with our six-month-old baby in tow. We had to miss a number of the sessions for junior's sake, but what we were able to attend was fantastic.
First I attended sprint training by Michael Stember, former olympian. I've logged a lot of miles since I caught the running bug several months ago, increasingly shoeless, and I thought I had my form nailed down. But Michael showed us a number of things which, while they didn't seem too significant at the time, subtly improved my form. The next day I had occasion to sprint across a parking lot, and I felt a full 10% faster, simply from improved mechanical efficiency. Dang! That stuff works!
Then I attended strength training with Philippe Til, an excellent weightlifting coach. Again, I thought I knew a thing or two about stretching and limbering, but Philippe multiplied my repertoire several times. The instruction on dead-lifting was particularly useful and I can't wait to try it out on the concrete chunks that I dead-lift as part of my urban workout. Philippe put us through the paces with some strenuous exercises. The upper-body stuff was a snap for me -- that's the shovelglove advantage -- but the burpees, oh god, the burpees! I usually avoid them because they're so annihilating. And so I was annihilated. But in a good way.
Then came lunch. Now, this may be a little much for your imagination. But I want you to picture a buffet where ALL the food is as delicious as it is healthy, where you can stuff yourself silly and still feel light as a feather. Folks, that is pretty close to heaven for me. The onions... purple as an emperor's toga and with a sting like wasabi. The strawberries... red as Count Dracula's private reserve and screaming with flavor. And the meat, merciful heavens, the meat! It was as fresh and succulent as if we had hunted it down right there in the park. I was amazed that such fare even exists for modern man. Did Grok eat this way all the time? No wonder the mofo was ripped!
Then we retired to Mark's nutrition panel. The pictures you have seen of Mark, incidentally, hardly do justice to the man himself. Not too put to fine a point on it, but I can't wait until I'm 58. Mark gave us an edifying summary of his insights, many of which were familiar to diligent students of this web site, but to hear the man's story in his own words and even have him answer our questions was a surreal and unforgettable experience.
It was during that panel that I noticed a strange, warm sensation on my skin. Back in my room, I noticed that my body's color had shifted quite dramatically to the red end of the spectrum. It looked a little as though I had just crossed the Ross Ice Shelf wearing a tunic and baby oil. I was shocked that I had finally found my threshold for sunburn. Apparently four hours in direct, late-spring sun was enough to provoke a reaction. I was a bit concerned at first, but the strange thing is it didn't hurt more than a little tingle, even when I washed or changed clothes. Within two days that burn was gone, replaced with an honest-to-goodness tan. So it really is possible...! I credit the unbelievable food for my rapid recovery from what only six months ago would have laid me up for a week.
I couldn't make it to the organic farm trip -- Mrs. Timothy needed a reprieve and Mr. Baby doesn't suffer bus rides in silence. But I certainly ate the food from that farm that very evening. Now, I almost never eat more than once or twice a day. But all this food was too amazing to pass up. I hoovered everything at every meal, even breakfast (all-you-can-eat bacon bar ZOMG), but despite the massive calorie intake I swear I left PrimalCon leaner than I arrived.
That night was the wine and chocolate reception, which Mark magnanimously hosted in his suite. I never drink because it always made me ill, but that night I made an exception for three glasses of wine. Lo, I could hold my liquor and a truffle to boot! When I got back home, my wife did have to remind me to lower my voice several decibels. Even so, I woke up the next day feeling dandy. Score another win for the awesome benefits of primal nutrition.
The next event I was able to attend was Barefoot Ted's seminar. Of all the amazing speakers at PrimalCon, Barefoot Ted blew my mind the most. How can I describe the Barefoot Ted experience? The man appears to have reached nirvana simply by crossing every corner of the globe unshod. His enthusiasm and authenticity shined through in his brilliant discourses, and you could tell that his mind is as busy as his feet. Barefoot Ted is one of the most intrinsically motivated people I've ever met -- a guy who hops on a skateboard on a whim just to ride it for a hundred miles, after which he's having so much fun that he keeps riding for 24 hours straight, setting a world record, and then laughs about having his record broken only a few days later. In short, Barefoot Ted twisted my cap and I haven't seen the world in quite the same way since. By the way, Barefoot Ted's feet are like fresh leather right from the tannery, unblemished, the way feet ought to be. And he has legs like a fricking dinosaur. I was already a fan of barefooting before I met Ted, but now I'm a frothing zealot.
Nikki Florio's presentation on sustainable living was great food for thought. I now have many, many more reasons to avoid CAFO meat and similar abominations -- not that I needed many more.
My favorite activity of the weekend was without doubt the obstacle course that afternoon. It tested our bodies and minds in a dozen different ways. Hurdling down a sandy dune to stack three apples on top of each other and then recite the ten primal blueprint laws? Now that's functional fitness! Plus I got a neat new avatar pic out of it.
The following morning, we enjoyed Maya White's lecture on posture. I only caught the end due to baby care, but it was most enlightening. Maya brought some copies of Six Steps to a Pain-Free Back, a helpful, illustrated manual on posture. Needless to say, Maya's own posture was exquisite. Even now I'm sitting a little straighter thanks to her.
Brad Kearns' lecture on endurance training was fascinating, thanks to his mastery of the medium and his contagious passion for sharing his insights with others. He had us hanging on his every word as he described his journey as a professional triathlete, brushes with overtraining, and discovery of the Primal Blueprint with Mark Sisson as his coach (some guys get all the luck). Just one session with Brad would dispel much of the chronic cardio CW that bedevils so many would-be athletes and even crops up on these forums from time to time.
Finally, I made it to the primal fitness assessment, a sort of rapid-fire circuit workout consisting of five minutes of intense, full-body activity. It was tremendous fun to hit the paces with my new primal friends and to cheer them on as they demolished the exercises. The pictures speak for themselves, but I have never seen a more dashing and capable crew of athletes, drawn from all walks of life but brought together by a common love of primal living. It was truly a privilege to run alongside them.
By far the best thing about PrimalCon was the people. I have never met so many kind, welcoming, and inspiring people in one location. Two and a half days is way too short for a socially average guy like me to meet everyone, and I regretted not getting to spend time with every single attendee. But those I did meet charmed me completely. I only recognized two people from the forums -- TimActor, an athlete of impeccable form and disarming friendliness, and lars1000, a most urbane and witty conversationalist and fellow traveler. If there were other forum members at PrimalCon, would you please let me know? I'd love to find out who you are.
In short, best. Vacation. EVAR. How I wish you all could have been there! I am so grateful to Mark, Brad and all the staff for conceiving this and pulling it off with style. Now, where do we sign up for 2011?
I wish I could have afforded it. I'm thinking of saving my pennies in hopes of next year. I could really use a vacation, and what would be better than vacationing with wonderful Primal peeps? I watched the daily blog, in envy and awe at the wonderful time you all got to have.
Thanks for the review of the Primal Con! I too wish I could have been there, but reading your review and the entries in the blog have certainly encouraged me to continue with the primal living way. Sounds like it was a great time!
Wow, I'm glad to hear that it was a child friendly experience, even if you didn't get to go to all of the lectures/events! Now I can think about saving for the next one, knowing the groklings can be there!!!
I do hope there are some videos available in the near future...
We'll see what happens with a trip to the US next year...
Sounds like a blast! Thanks so much for your candid report - I think it makes many of us wish we had been able to go.
I thought I saw your primal hair do in the photos. =) I'm so glad you guys had fun. I love that you made it a family thing.
Sounds great! Hopefully I'll see you next time.
Wow Timothy, thanks for the kind words, and what a description of Primalcon! Brad Kearns was inspiring to listen to, and hilarious. Mark himself is such a down to earth guy as well.
Everything was great, and the icing on the cake, was the people. Everybody I met and got a chance to engage with always left me a bit more inspired. I think that's what happens when you put people seeking self improvement the Primal way in the same room/beach/obstacle course/and or food table.
One bonus was meeting two primal couples that live within blocks of my wife and I. Timothy, I will be enrolling in Shovelglove Community College shortly!
Thanks for spending your time to give us less fortunate un-attendees such a colourful picture of the weekend, Timothy...it is good to hear how it went - sounds irrefutably awesome. I wondered if I would attend the next one if work permits - you have now convinced me I should definitely travel the 20+ hours for it!