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(holding post for yours truly to start posting VRAA #7 team profiles starting (hopefully) tonight Monday, Mar. 10)
 

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<b><span style="font-size:large;">VRAA #7 Team Dossier: The A-Team<br></span></b><span style="font-size:large;"><span style="font-size:xx-small;">(superhero graphics created by HeroMachine at <a href="http://www.ugo.com" target="_blank">www.ugo.com</a>)<br><br><img alt="" src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/josquared007/vraateamatemplate.jpg" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br><span style="font-size:small;"><b>Captain</b>: Jensparks<br><br><b>Team Members</b>: alan fletcher; curleytop; Elaine3112; em73; fbgrrl; larua; lkschiller; mandaroo; RichardC; RocketPack; sauconRunner; Tithers; tzobel; valricokirk<br><b><br>
Team Origins</b>: In 1992, a crack running & fitness unit that was having immense success in turning on Americans to the values of an active lifestyle was captured and convicted on crimes they did not commit. As it turned out, a secret corporate conglomerate who were seeking billions of dollars by selling bogus diet products to gullible and out-of-shape customers were to blame, via the efforts of highly-paid congressional lobbyists.<br><br>
However, these men and women promptly escaped from their maximum security prison to the Los Angeles fitness underground, with a vow to continue their crusade to bring the virtues of running & fitness to all Americans across the country.<br><br>
Even today they are still wanted by the government and must still survive as soldiers of fitness. However, A-Team members, whose ranks have grown since their beginnings less than two decades ago, admit that the lure of kickrunners.com VRAA #7 was too hard to resist, despite the great risk to themselves. The lure of going mano-y-mano against such highly esteemed and talented people from other teams have stoked their competitive fires, and they are looking forward to giving only their full efforts for as long as the competition lasts.<br><br>
They also would like to remind you that if you feel lazy, out-of-shape, your only ally is the Alli you spend mondo bucks for off the drugstore shelf, and if you can find them, maybe you can train with...the A-Team!</span><br></span></span>
 

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<span style="font-size:small;"><span style="color:#000000;"><b><i><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-size:large;">The A-Team - Spotlight Members</span></span><br><br></i></b></span></span> <span style="font-size:small;"><span style="color:#0000FF;"><b>JENSPARKS</b></span><br>
Captain Jensparks first foray seems apropos for being on The A-Team: kicking ass via the martial arts. "I’d taken karate for a few years to learn to protect myself but had to stop when I found out I was pregnant with my son."<br><br>
After the birth of her son, the desire to drop the extra weight as well as the need to get out of the house led Jensparks to take evening group exercise classes and eventually aerobics instructor status. "I taught aerobics for 4 years part time at my place of employment supporting engineers," she said, but eventually grew tired of the grind. The next path, so to speak, was running, and the rest is the proverbial history.<br><br>
You would think that Jensparks wouldn't have much time for anything else judging by that byline, but she has squeezed in her loves of hiking mountains and trails, biking, and yoga into the mix, as well as a sub-4-hour marathon & and sub 22-minute 5k run-wise. "(I'd love to) keep improving at all distances," she declared, as well as finishing finish hiking all of her home state New Hampshire's 48 4,000 foot peaks so she can do them again (to date, she has knocked off 29 of the 48.) And of course, don't forget about spending that valuable time with the family and friends that's her big life priority.<br><br>
A-Team members may have already been treated to a hot steaming cup of coffee and a giant breakfast, Jensparks' favorite thing after a good hard morning workout. As for those teammates, Jensparks can't rave enough about them for this VRAA round. "I like the encouragement and support, and also the extra drive to do more cross-training!"<br><br>
And frankly, B.A. Baracus couldn't have said it better than the team captain when asked why the A-Team would come out on top. "Because, we’re The A-TEAM...FOOL!<br><br><b><span style="color:#0000FF;">RICHARDC</span></b><br>
Imagine waking up one winter morning and realizing that you were nearing your mid-30s, pushing 300 pounds and pounding down two packs of cigarettes per day. Well, this happened to the A-Team's RichardC, and he did not like it one bit.<br><br>
"I was an athlete most of my adolescent years...(now I was) a long way away from the person I thought I would be," Richard remembered.<br><br>
From that day forth, he decided to challenge myself physically through running. And as the days passed on, he kept adding on even more athletic challenges to what had now become a list. "Running has added a part of my life I had missed, although (I was) not a runner growing up. What are my limits? And are they limits I made or they real limits?"<br><br>
While running has become the main focus, glimpses of the old athletics-focused Richard have resurfaced. "I was a competitive swimmer most of adolescent life," he said, adding that he had a few state high school records to his credit. "I have just reverted back to adding swimming back into my weekly exercise (and) am trying to add other things like yoga and bike now as well."<br><br>
It is in fact these swim records which has brought Richard the most pride so far; however, his increasing passion for running has merely put those records as interesting markers on a longer and fascinating athletic journey, which will include his first ultra on April 19th of this year, not to mention the a 50-mile run and Ironman race that he has planned farther down the road. Lofty goals, Richard admits, but he says it is only he who can tell himself it can't be done.<br><br>
Running does have it's advantages: all of Richard's long runs get followed by followed by an ice cold beer and a big juicy double cheeseburger. But even that tempting combo can't beat what truly makes RichardC happy. "Nothing and I mean NOTHING - not running or anything - makes me as happy as seeing a smile on my beautiful wife's face!!!!"<br><br>
As a returnee to the VRAA, Richard likes the accountability that the VRAA brings. "Sometimes it has already pushed me more than I should have pushed myself, but that's alright as long as I learn from it."<br><br>
If nothing else, the A-Team has its message and smack down pat. Richard acknowledges all the talented people of the other teams signed up in this round of the VRAA, but he is amazed at the amount of ability that his team has. "The team I am currently on is filled with WANTING to go the distance...and to win you MUST WANT to win...and The A-TEAM WANTS TO WIN!!! FOOL!!!"</span>
 

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This is AWESOME Moon. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> I had such a good laugh!<br><br><br><br><br><br><i>(for the record, I'm from Massachusetts, but I love NH enough to say it's like my home state. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> )</i>
 

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Moon, <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"> Thanks for everything you put into VRAA..<br><br>
If you were on the A- Team I would recomend you get bonus points.<img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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Outstanding report guys. But you have nothing on us!<br><br>
The A-Team is going down, such fools to think they can beat the rUnbeatables.<br><br><br>
Moon you are very talented.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
<b><span style="font-size:large;">VRAA #7 Team Dossier: Banzai Badasses<br></span></b><span style="font-size:large;"><span style="font-size:xx-small;">(superhero graphics created by HeroMachine at <a href="http://www.ugo.com/" target="_blank">www.ugo.com</a>)<br><br><img alt="" src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/josquared007/vraateambtemplate3.jpg" style="border:0px solid;"><br></span></span><br><b>Co-Captains</b>: Batmomm & valleysuper<br><br><b>Team Members</b>: Apple; BigGahoona; Bugs34; Jen; jjketark; KyKy; La Tortuga; Maples; monikam; mykemp1971; rasmussenmp; sb70; thirtyin04<br><b><br>
Team Origins</b>: Inspired by an ancient Japanese story of seven samurai who were tasked with protecting a village from roving bandits for only meager compensation, seven unemployed fitness trainers in the late 1960s were tasked with providing personal training for a small Texas town for only Payday Bars and Gatorade as compensation.<br><br>
The local restaurants, seeing demand plummet for their high-fat, high cholesterol offerings, rounded up roughly forty thugs to try lay a brutal, good old fashioned, fists-a-swinging beat down to both fitness trainer and town member alike and put an end to their activities.<br><br>
Initially surrounded on all sides during the showdown at sundown, these magnificent seven trainers ordered their students, who now thoroughly respected these hearty souls and their efforts, on a long distance run at marathon pace minus 30 seconds. The thugs, who were all severely lacking in aerobic capacity, soon dropped exhausted after a mere mile or so in the humidity and the hot Texas sun, and were quickly rounded up along with the restaurant owners who had hired them to do this dastardly deed by the local Texas Rangers contingent.<br><br>
From the efforts of these original seven emerged an organization whose philosophy is to spread the gospel of a fit lifestyle throughout the world. They eagerly accepted the invite to the VRAA tournament, with members universally expressing their excitement at competing at what's considered one of the elite competitions in the world. They added that they would do their best to uphold the spirit of their original seven founding Badasses.
 

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<span style="font-size:small;"><span style="color:#000000;"><b><i><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><span style="font-size:large;">Banzai Badasses - Spotlight Members</span></span></i></b></span></span><br><br><span style="font-size:large;"><span>thirtyin04</span></span><br>
It took awhile before Melissa displayed the athletic promise that earned her membership into the Banzai Badasses. "I was the fat kid for a good part of my childhood and always the last picked in gym class."<br><br>
It wasn't until high school when she started to lose weight, playing volleyball and soccer in order to show off her athletic skills as a way to prove something to others. However, she didn't really make a commitment to athletics until her 30th birthday approached. "I wanted to run a local 5k taking place on my birthday and prove to myself I could do it," she remembered. "I also wanted to shake off the fat kid visualization that I still saw when I looked in the mirror." Her tough training paid off as she finished<br>
that race with energy to spare. Melissa was hooked after that, losing over 30 pounds since 2004 and intending to keep it off for good.<br><br>
Outside of running, Melissa enjoys a variety of activities, especially hiking, which is made easier by a local state park close to her house, as well as biking, volleyball, and soccer. And oh yeah, let's not forget about the occasional boot camp class cardio striptease and cardio pole dancing classes for "fun and giggles", as she puts it<br><br>
So far, Melissa is just happy to be getting out there and making fitness a priority. Long term, she would love to earn revenge on the local Sunburst Half Marathon, where she said she had a "big fat DNF. I'm going to run it this year, and I won't stop until I cross that 50 yard line in Notre Dame stadium and collect my medal." And if all things work out, 2009 promises her first marathon attempt, either Chicago or the Sunburst Marathon.<br><br>
If you had a good hard training session with this Banzai Badass member, you might enjoy a nice thick grilled steak along with a baked potato and an ice cold beer, along with her close friends and her special buddy, her dog Conner.<br><br>
Away from the gym, this Banzai Badass loves cardmaking and scrapbooking, watching movies and TV, and sitting out on my back porch and enjoying an ice cold beer. It's been a little tough to squeeze those relaxing moments in lately, however; nursing school tends to eat up a lot of time, as she is finding out.<br><br>
As a three-time VRAA veteran, Melissa likes the competition but even more so the motivational factor. "It really motivates me to get out there to help out my team, but the benefit is I am pushing myself to be a better me." She is excited to be a Banzai Badass for this go-around. "I love my team this round. Everyone really seems supportive, and everyone really wants us to do well. I've already seen the commitment, even with it only being early in the competition. My team is the best!"<br><br><span style="font-size:large;"><span>valleysuper</span></span><br>
Nicotine had had its way with Banzai Badasses' co-captain valleysuper (aka Mike), but unfortunately for that addictive substance, Mike had had enough of it as well.<br><br>
"I am an ex-smoker who had enough, I needed the punishment of exercise to keep my mind away," he said, acknowledging that the mental part was tougher than the physical in terms of quitting.<br><br>
These days Mike has transformed into quite the triathlete (he is still bitter after just missing the age group Nationals for triathlon by 15 seconds last year) but still holds his triumph over cigarettes highly, making it into something of an annual ritual. "I ran the New Bedford half marathon on the anniversary of my quitting smoking in years 1, 2, and 5."<br><br>
And like cigarettes, he has a plan for overcoming his near-miss at the Nationals, setting himself for a two-year plan where 2008, where marathons, Half-Ironmans and a year of base building acting as the proverbial red meat that will allow Banzai's co-captain to unleash his top form in 2009.<br><br>
This strong focus has worked its way into most everything - whereas many would like to celebrate that hard race with something sinful fattening and calorie-laden, Mike thinks that a banana coated with peanut butter and honey on top of toasted multigrain bread with a After Glow (protein/carb) shake is the ultimate hit-the-spot combo.<br><br>
Don't think that that combo is indicative of valleysuper's culinary prowess outside of the workout room, however. "I also love espresso and bourbon after the kids go to bed," he declared. "I am a foodie with a taste for red wine. I could take 3 hours to make dinner, just so long as it is good food and wine, and company (my wife and kids)."<br><br>
Above all that, Mike says being together with his two daughters is key. "I live for them, and we can play all day and night and I smile the whole time. Nothing in the world comes close."<br><br>
VRAA is very motivational to this Badasses co-captain, and he believes it really enhances the KR community, relating this competition with his experience with the Nike+. "I got hooked on these things...when it came out just over a year ago. It is just so much fun to have races with people from all over the world. I have more friends that I have never met, hell I don't even know their names, than I do in my "real" life."<br><br>
When asked why he thought his team would come out on top, Mike cited every one of his teammates, from his co-captain Batmomm to their formidable Canadian and hearty upper-Midwest contingents, even noting one his Badass teammates was running laps on a cruise ship. "But the real reason we are going to win this thing," Mike concluded, "is because we've got the <span style="text-decoration:underline;">Name</span>. The reason we are all in the VRAA, to be badass, but we have kicked it up, as badass just was not enough. We are Banzai Badasses, and there are few things more intimidating than a screaming, charging Banzai of Badasses. If you don't believe me just watch the top of the leaderboard!!"<br><br><span style="font-size:large;"><span>Apple</span></span><br>
Banzai Badasses team member apple (aka Kim) didn't think of running as punishment, like many people tend to think. She actually thought of it as something of an "in" thing.<br><br>
"Always thought runners were cool people and wanted to be one. The one thing that pushed me into it was getting a dog that required lots of exercise," she remembered. "I started running with her to wear her out. Didn't realize how addictive running was and 3 years later the puppers<br>
and I are still hitting the pavement."<br><br>
In fact, her puppy and Kim love anything having to do with the outdoors, with hiking being a particularly enjoyable. In fact, it's this love that has led so far to apple's finest achievement to date in her mind, the Half Wit Half Trail Race. "Very technical and had no idea what I was in for. The fact that I finished was a miracle," she laughed.<br><br>
One suspects that Kim will just get better at the longer distances. In fact, maybe her favorite food combo of a pizza and margaritas can be on hand when she runs her first full marathon, which is the next immediate future goal on her mind.<br><br>
Family, reading, gardening, and hanging with friends round out the non-fitness realm for this 2nd-time VRAA participant. In fact, this Banzai Badass has found the VRAA incredibly helpful toward her fitness goals. "It keeps me accountable & pushes me for that extra effort."<br><br>
Maybe like that fateful fruit that silently fell on Isaac Newton's head, apple prefers to have actions speak louder than mere words. When asked why her Badasses would come out on top this round, she smiled and said, "Simply because we are badasses! We kick butt."
 

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These are great, moon!
 

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Excellent writing <b>Joe</b> Thanks so much for doing these! Very much enjoying reading them. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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Thanks moon... the pic you have for me looks so buff!!!!
 

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This is so kewl moon <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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<span style="font-size:large;"><b>VRAA #7 Team Dossier: Catch Us If You Can</b></span><br><span style="font-size:xx-small;">(superhero graphics created by HeroMachine at</span> <a href="http://www.ugo.com/" target="_blank"><span style="font-size:xx-small;">www.ugo.com</span></a><span style="font-size:xx-small;">)</span><br><br><img alt="" src="http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y27/josquared007/vraateamctemplate.jpg" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br><b>Co-Captains</b>: intensebeet & Tamster<br><br><b>Team Members</b>: Abb94; AlaMichele; Andi; chosha2002; eccabex; JJJessee; kfuller; Korbel; lgreenberg; Mustang Mom; Runnin-from-the-Law; Vashondan; Winejunky<br><br><b>Origins</b>: In the 1980s, the organization that would soon be known as COBRA (Covert Operations Bringing Running to All) was established as a daring and highly trained special force that would operate without borders. Its purpose: to defend efforts to improve overall human fitness by touting the goodness of running.<br><br>
Contrary to the negative government publicity and other multinational organizations who saw their efforts as profit-threatening, their intentions were noble: They traveled at high risk to themselves all over the world, battling forces of laziness at every turn, saving the day and turning around the health of thousands of formerly at-risk individuals via the mantra of running, never giving up and being always present to fight over land and air.<br><br>
As the years went on, COBRA branched out into other areas of fitness, but the mantra of running remains its main philosophy. And despite increasingly favorable public perception, COBRA has remained listed as a subversive organization by many official government bodies.<br><br>
Despite the danger to themselves, members of COBRA decided to accept the invite to participate in the renowned kickrunners.com Virtual Race Across America as Team Catch Us If You Can. They are thrilled to be here, seeing the reknowned event as a tremendous opportunity to further their efforts...as well as kick a little booty in the process.
 
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