Archive for UFC 120 Training Camp Journal

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Here’s a video with some behind the scenes footage taking during my 6-week stay in Iowa at Spencer Fishers training camp.

It also includes video from the week leading up to Spencer’s fight against Kurt Warburton in London, England at UFC 120.

Today is the day when all of Spencer’s hard work in the gym will be put to use!

Tonight is UFC 120 and I’m super excited. So excited that I woke up at 3 am this morning and I don’t think I ever got fully back to sleep after that. Spending the last six weeks with Spencer and his family has been an awesome experience and the fact that Spencer is such a cool guy to be around and train with, makes this day even more exciting to me. I really want to see him kick some ass and get the win tonight as he totally deserves it after all we’ve gone through during the fight camp.

Funny thing is that when I did an interview with a reporter from the newspaper back home –the same person that travelled with me to my UFC fight night match against Josh Koscheck on Miramar base–, he asked me if I used visualization to prepare for my job a corner man. He had seen me do a ton of it while I was preparing to fight and was wondering if I’d do the same thing as coach.

I told him that I wouldn’t be doing much visualization, but today I find myself doing a ton of it; running through different fight scenarios in my mind, both good and bad; imagining what words I’ll use when speaking to Spencer during that very important minute between each round; deciding which one of us –Spencer’s good friend and first boxing coach Reggie will be in the corner with me– will carry the stool, water and other supplies into the cage. It’s definitely stressful. As a fighter I know how important my corner man’s words were to me during my toughest of fights. I really want to do a great job tonight!

Will I be nervous? I’m not sure. I was a little bit when I finalized the deal to become part of Spencer’s training camp but it was those nerves that had me studying material, developing game plans and putting together an entire strategy for the camp. Plus, my knees were definitely knocking a bit when Spencer jumped onto the stage yesterday for the weigh-ins. Again, I think it’s all because I really want Spencer to do great tonight when he steps into the cage. If he doesn’t do well, I will definitely feel like I didn’t do my job in the best way that I could.

Well, it’s about that time. Time for us to meet Burt and all the other fighters down in the lobby so that we can jump aboard the shuttle buses and make the long trek –over an hour drive– to the O2 arena…Wish us luck…

Oh yeah, I got a little footage of fans, friends and teammates wishing Spencer good luck. Check it out!

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I couldn’t sleep last night!

Countless thoughts rushed through my head for hours on end; about the upcoming fight, the weigh-ins today and a bunch of other stuff. Sometimes I really hate how over-analytical my brain is. Great for some things but bad for others, I always over think –to say the least– the things that interest me and under think many other things regardless if they are important or not. I guess I just want to see Spencer to do very well tomorrow. He definitely deserves it.

With Spencer still having to cut about five pounds this morning, he, Eric, Reggie and I hit the workout room. After a few rounds on the pads Spencer broke a good sweat and begin to cut some water weight. We ended up doing pad work for a while, this time with Spencer wearing MMA gloves so that he and I could get used to the change in punching range and the increased hand speed that comes with wearing 4 ounce gloves instead of the much bigger types.

Following that, we headed to the gym next door to cut the final three or four pounds.

After spending equal amounts of time running on the treadmill, sitting in the sauna and burning up inside another “mummy” wrap –we covered him in towels from head to toe to keep the heat in– he got it done.

Checking the scale it read 156.6 lbs!

He was pretty drained after it all but somehow still remained in a good mood. By the time he steps on the scale –in a few hours– in front of the rabid fight fans at the UFC Fan Expo his weight should be right on the money.

We rushed back to our hotel just in time to meet up with the other fighters and catch the shuttle to the venue where the weigh-in was taking place. It seems that the way the roads are in London, it takes an incredibly long time to get anyplace by car. It took us at least thirty minutes to arrive at our destination even though the place wasn`t that far in terms of distance.

We entered the building through a back door which placed us someplace behind a curtain that led to the main stage. A bunch of chairs were lined up for the fighters, their corner men and UFC staff to use. A large television screen was in place so that we all could see what was happening on the main stage.

As we were taking our seats, Dana White was on stage addressing a huge crowd during a Q & A period at the UFC fan expo. Some people asked really good, thought provoking questions while a few others were shamelessly begging for free tickets to the upcoming event; it was entertaining and a little bit annoying at the same time. What`s for certain is that Dana has really become masterful in answering MMA and UFC related questions. He did an awesome job.

Immediately after Dana left the stage, they wasted little time as Joe Rogan blasted the crowd with an energetic introduction of the UFC’s biggest names. His list included Dana White of course, match maker Joe Silva, Bruce Buffer, Mike Goldberg and several others. After that, each fighter weighed in, flexed to the crowd and then positioned themselves for their pre-fight stare down. Being the second fight on the card, Spencer weighed in early. 155lbs! He made it and we were all very excited and relieved that one hurdle had been overcome; in just under six weeks he had managed to drop from one hundred and eighty three pounds to one hundred and fifty-five pounds. Wow!

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Immediately he downed a monstrous bottle containing gatorade powder mixed with water to replenish himself. Once we got back to our hotel, a large group of us travelled together to a Brazilian Steakhouse for dinner. Last time I was at one of those restaurants was during my trip to Brazil back in the summer of 2004 and being at this one reminded me of how much I had loved it back then. From the fried bananas to the endless amounts of barbecued meat that the servers had brought to us throughout the evening, it was all really good. Spencer ate a bit too much over a short period of time and ended up not feeling very well on the trip back to our hotel.

Spencer and his wife Emily, who had arrived in London earlier today, went to sleep a few hours ago. Eric and I travelled down the street to the same pub –called the Hammersmith Ram– that we hung out at a few days earlier. With the fight’s coming up tomorrow, I drank one glass of coke and we stuck around the place for about an hour or so. There was free wireless internet access there, so Eric took advantage of that with his IPhone.

Back at the hotel now, I’m typing in the dark and ready to get some sleep.

Tomorrow is the big day! I’m so excited that I`m smiling as I type this.

Good night!

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Man, last night was a fun but my head’s hurting quite a bit today because of it. Eric and I arrived at the pub down the street –a place Eric had gone to a few days before we had met up with him here in London– and right away the owner jumped up and said hi. Rory was his name and he turned out to be a great guy.

When he first said hello he told me that the guy I was fighting had just left and was standing outside. I quickly realized that he thought I was the one fighting on the fight card, so I told him I was the coach and that our fighter Spencer was back at the hotel sleeping. Looking outside I saw the guy he though I was about to face inside the octagon on Saturday night. It was Randy Couture! I joked about needing a lot more money for that fight :).

Randy’s a machine and one of my favourite fighters to watch. I still remember excitedly jumping around my living room when he was beating up Tito back in the day.

Randy and his girlfriend came back inside some time later all of us ended up having some good conversation and a lot of fun. When the pub closed –at midnight which was strangely early I thought– Rory, Eric, myself, Randy, his girlfriend and one or two others walked down the road to a different place that was open a little bit longer.

We had a few more rounds of beer and all of us –not Randy because the two of them had left a little bit earlier– hit the dance floor for the last song or two. A dance off ensued and If I remember correctly I did some embarrassing old school dance moves when it was my turn. Eric was up next and he was doing some crazy moves of his own. Good times!

After that bar closed at 1am, Rory invited us back to his pub for another drink so we followed him there. I didn’t have any more drinks as I was started to get pretty tired. Soon afterwards we were back at the hotel. I called my wife on my cell phone and chatted with her on facebook chat to save some money; I think my phone calls and text messages are costing me a fortune.

Sitting here now, around 4pm, not too much is going on. We worked out earlier in the day and will probably do another session in a few hours. The good news is that Spencer’s weight is hovering around the 161 lbs. mark which is very good considering he still has a day and a half to get down to 156 lbs. That one pound weight allowance –since it’s not a title fight– really helps the fighters out when they are making the drop from a much higher weight. I had forgotten about that.

I`m going to go eat some food and lay down for a little while but I’ll write more soon…

It’s almost 10 pm and it’s been a pretty busy night. Spencer’s original boxing coach –who will be one of the other guys in his corner–, arrived with his wife. He seems like a really great guy and we all had a long talk. From there it was off to the training room again for another sweat session.

The room was pretty full when we got there; Cao Uno, Akiyama, fellow Canadian fighter Claude Patrick and a bunch of other guys were training. Slipping into his fight gear, Spencer warmed up off to the side of the room by pummelling with Eric then pounded the pads with me again. I didn’t tape the session since it was his second of the day. I thought he’d go slow and take it easy and it wouldn’t be worth filming. I was definitely wrong as he tore up the pads once again.

After training, I did a quick interview over the phone with Scott Radley from the Hamilton Spectator about my experience in Iowa and the training camp in general. I’m also excited that I finally got the internet in our hotel room, for the rest of tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. I have to send out a few emails and I’d like to talk with my wife Corene on Skype before it’s fight time.

I guess it’s time for me to get some rest. Weigh-ins are taking place tomorrow. Should be very exciting!

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Spencer woke up this morning earlier than both Eric and I. It wasn’t until 11am that I jumped from my bed, quickly grabbed a banana and threw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. The three of us then headed down to the workout room, only to find out that it’s wasn’t available.

The media was using the room to take pictures and video of the main event and co main event fighters Dan Hardy and Akiyama. Sorry, I have no idea of his first name but his nickname is Sexyama, I think mostly due to his many modeling gigs in the past. After a few minutes of waiting around and watching the action, Burt said we could use the other warm up room instead –the opponent’s one–, so we headed down the hallway towards it.

It’s so funny; the door to both workout rooms totally look like you need to pull the handle to open them up but you actually need to push on the door to get in. Many times while we’ve been practicing in the room, we’ve heard the click of someone trying to open the door a few times, only to give up a few seconds later –thinking it’s locked– and leave to go someplace else. All they had to do was push it.

Our training session ended up being a great one. Spencer worked his grappling first and then we followed that with some mitt work. He mentioned that his back was feeling a little stiff so we were very careful not to aggravate it; I think it’s probably sore because of how hard he was slamming his punches into the pads last night.

Eric shot some pretty sick video of it all including our final round of pads which is when Spencer did his best work of the day. He was punching so quickly that I found myself breathing heavy from catching the quick combinations he was throwing. I’m excited to put together a compilation video of all the training footage when I get home. It’s going to look effin awesome!

After training the three of us travelled back to the hair salon that we visited yesterday to see how much it would cost for them to shave Spencer’s head. After finding out that it would be the price of a regular hair cut we moved on, with Spencer’s hair left uncut.

After returning and resting at our hotel for several hours, Spencer wanted to cut a little weight so we hit up the fitness gym next door. Spencer got to it right away. First, a fifteen minute run on the treadmill, then fifteen minutes in the sauna and after that was the funny part. As Spencer exited the sauna, we wrapped his entire body in towels –like a mummy- to keep him in overheat mode for another five or ten minutes. He hasn’t weighed himself again yet so I’m not sure how much weight he’s lost but I imagine it’s at least another three or four pounds…

Eric and I are back in the hotel room now, waiting for Spencer to finish getting a massage. Not sure what’s next but I’ll write more before sleeping tonight. Oh yeah, I finally got to chat with the wife today –at that gym, via skype– which was cool. She said they are counting down the “sleeps” until I get home. My daughter counts every time she “sleeps” instead of counting the days until important events happen so they are using that method. I think I’ll do the same with the title of this post and to count the time until I see my family again.

It’ pretty late now and I just finished training again with Spencer in the workout room. We worked out very lightly, mostly so that he’d break a sweat and drop a little more water weight. It worked out perfectly because the slow pace of our workout gave us a chance to work on a few new striking combinations.

I’m just about to head out to a local pub with Eric. I’ll let you know how it goes…

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Arriving at the London Airport at around midnight (our Iowa time), the time change made it around six o’clock in the morning instead. After going through customs, we met our UFC representative –the guy holding wearing the UFC hat, UFC t-shirts and carrying the sign marked Zuffa (UFC)– and walked about 10 minutes to get to a place close to where his van was located.

Once we got there we had to wait about an hour longer due to the fact that he had another fighter that he had to wait for. When that guy finally arrived, he became lost for about twenty more minutes. Finally, after all the waiting we embarked on a thirty minute drive to the hotel we were staying at.

Even though I hadn’t slept at all, I really didn’t feel tired so I decided to stay awake. We all decided to stay up.

First thing on the agenda was to head down to the UFC’s temporary office which was located in one of the many conference rooms here within the very nice hotel that all the fighters, coaches and corner men were staying at. Once there, they took photos of both Spencer and I, for our licenses. Spencer also did a video interview for and signed a bunch of the event posters. It turns out that all of the fighters get a poster signed by every fighter on the fight card. I joked with the UFC guys about not getting one, back when I fought at UFC Fight Night 7. Well it wasn’t really a joke because I never did get one but I guess it turned out that they weren’t doing the same thing back then.

When we were all done there, we received a tour of the entire UFC floor from Burt who is one of the head guys here in terms of event co-ordination. He showed us the workout rooms, a bunch of other stuff and shared some cool stories from back in the days when he was heavily involved in the game of pro boxing. It was easy to tell that he really liked Spencer and that the two of them have seen each other man times over the years. Having fought in the UFC more than most fighters –close to fourteen times– Spencer’s been with the organization a very long time and that’s not including the many times he’s worked in the corner of team Militich fighters throughout the years.

Back in our hotel room –which was nothing too extravagant– I snatched up the hand mitts and changed my clothes in to something better suited for training. Ten minutes later we were in the workout room putting some work in. A few rounds of shadow fighting, then some time spent working on the hand mitts and lastly some grappling practice. The whole time Spencer was wearing a bunch of clothes and a plastic top to see how much water weight he could sweat out. Ten pounds is the amount of weight he has to cut before Friday’s weigh-in.

By the time the workout finished I was beginning to feel the effects of not sleeping; my head ached and a spell of slight dizziness came over me all of the sudden. I pretty much ignored it knowing that I would catch up on my sleep later that day.

Hitting the streets of London, Eric, Spencer and I went for a very long walk. We stopped at a bunch of stores along the way to check out what they had. Eventually we stopped inside a hair salon where I got a quick cut from a nice guy named Georgian. It’s tough to tell what kind of money I’m paying for things when I’m paying using pounds instead of dollars but I think it was the good deal especially since he did a pretty good job. He’s no Anthony –my regular guy– but he didn’t massacre my hair which was good. I still remember getting my hair cut before my UFC fight on Spike TV at some local place in San Diego and the girl cut it way to short making my head look massive on the television screen. Alright, that’s way too much writing about hair; let’s get back to the important stuff.

Our second workout of the day, again taking place in our designated workout room –which was a hotel room containing a water jug, some mats and not much else–, was late in the day.

What did we do?

Once again, pad work and grappling. There were a few other fighters in the room which made things a little bit crowded but Spencer didn’t seem very mind as he turned up the pace, hitting the pads with more power and speed than ever before. It was obvious, by his demeanour, energy and intensity that he is feeling great and is very excited to fight. It was excellent to see!

Spencer went to bed a short while later. Eric and I went across the street to grab some food at a local pub. I ate a monstrous hamburger in the middle of a place that had a great atmosphere. Not really a tourist place, the bar was filled with locals and had an amazing feel to it. We stayed for roughly an hour before travelling back to our hotel.

Soon everyone was asleep, Spencer –since he’s the fighter– got the big bed to himself and Eric and I split the sofa bed with absolutely no cuddling…

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I’m sitting on the airplane that is taking us to London, England. I’m thinking we have around three and a half more hours to go with us getting there around midnight our –Iowa– time, which is roughly six in the morning over there I believe. I’m guessing that it should take a couple of days to adjust to the time difference.

One of Spencer’s students, Eric, a super nice guy who will be working in Spencer’s corner with me is already in Europe. He left a few days before us so that he could visit Dublin and a few other spots before heading to London. Sounded like a pretty cool idea to me. He text message me to tell me he’d meet us at our hotel when we arrived.

I’m been spending most of the flight working on the manual for the MMA QuickStart program and I really got a lot accomplished. It’s pretty exciting to have something that started out as just an idea begin to take shape into a fully functional product that will help others learn mixed martial arts. I’m really looking forward to seeing how people like it once they start to use the program. I’ve been having a lot of fun myself and have sharpened my own striking game by doing the workouts over the last five weeks.

Spencer’s doing a great job of getting his weight down and he should be right on point come Friday at the weigh-ins. Our in-flight meal had a brownie as a desert which is the last thing you want to see when you’re cutting weight. Spencer sniffed his and then passed it over to me and yes I ate mine and that one as well. Just being a good friend :). I’m getting to damn skinny from all this training any ways, I don’t think it will hurt me much.

Anyways, my laptop battery is about to run out of its charge. Once I get to the hotel, I’ll charge it up and write some more. It should be a pretty amazing week in London, England!

We arrived a little while ago but it’s now Tuesday so I’ll continue on the next journal entry..

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I got up around ten o’clock this morning and I must say that I’m getting very excited about visiting England, cornering Spencer at his fight and of course seeing my wife and kids when I get home on the following day. They are celebrating the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday today so I’m missing out on all the turkey and other great food that’s being eaten back home today.

With us flying towards the UK for most of the day tomorrow, we made sure to hit the road for one more run this morning. Fifty minutes…yes fifty minutes later we were back at the car after running, winding and weaving our way through the large bike path that runs around an area close to Spencer’s place. I felt pretty good throughout it all and must have dropped at least five pounds of sweat due to the hot, sunny weather we’re having here today in Iowa.

Upon finishing the run, everyone –Spencer, Nache and another one of Spencer’s students name Christian– lied on the grass while I put them through a mental drill that I do often when preparing myself for a fight. Blending some hypnosis type stuff, positive thinking and visualization techniques, this exercise is definitely a huge part of my success in MMA and one of the main reasons I never felt nervous when fight time arrived. It helped me fight harder and go for the finish each and every time I stepped inside the ring or cage.

Back home now, I’ve been playing around on my laptop for a bit. I’ve got some cleaning and packing to do before we leave tomorrow but I just seem to keep putting it off. I guess I better get it done while I have time…

It’s really late now and I’m lying in bed. Spencer wanted to work out a little while ago so I suggested we hit the gym for some shadow boxing and pad work. We ended up doing five 5-minute rounds of training. Spencer was looking really good; smacking the pads around nicely, staying very relaxed and turning his hips into every one of his strikes.

Anyways, I’m off to get some sleep. Tomorrow we leave for England at around one o’clock in the afternoon. Fight time is approaching quickly!

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Not me, but that's the same thing I had on 🙂

At training this morning it was just Spencer, Anthony –who is one of Spencer’s MMA fighters– and me. The workout consisted of Spencer spending half of each of his rounds –2.5 minutes– MMA sparring and the other half of the rounds working on the hand pads with me. For five 5-minute rounds he kept it up and afterwards he worked through one round of groundwork with him starting on his back with Anthony in his guard. His goal was to work sweeps and submissions or work his way back up to his feet. He did a really good job through it all.

Heading back to the house afterwards, we relaxed for a little while before heading out once again. This time our plan was to go do some deer hunting. I must admit I was pretty excited but didn’t know really what to expect. It took close to an hour for us to drive to  the spot; some private property that was owned by of friend of Spencer’s. It was the same place where we had set up the motion sensing cameras that had taken pictures of some pretty big deer the week before.

Jumping out of the vehicle, Spencer and I walked for a few minutes into the woods. He gave me a few instructions and then pointed at a nearby tree.

“Sit up against that tree with your back to it and keep your eyes open for deer.” he said with much excitement in his voice. He then described the different between the sounds that deer, squirrels and other forest animals make. I did my best to remember his pointers.

“I’ll text you when I’m coming to get you.” With those words he disappeared into the foliage and I was on my own. Clad in an entire suit of camouflage material, everything was covered on me except for both of my hands. Soon after dropping down to sit beside the large tree that Spencer had pointed out to me moments before, a buzzing sound rang in my left ear and I quickly realized that it was a mosquito; one of way too many that were already flying around me. There must have been fifty of them on my camo suit, crawling in search of the blood filled, heat generating, energy source that my body was. It was disgusting! They were all over the place working diligently to fly into the open eye slit on my ninja-like hunting hood. Then they started to attack my bare hands and when I looked down at my legs I quickly realized that my protective pants had a huge rip in the thigh area.

So there I was, standing next to a tree with my hands stuffed deep in my pockets, my body carefully angled so that the hole in my pants was slightly smaller that it had been before all while a repeated buzzing sound was ringing through each of my ears. One time, I made the mistake of looking down at my suit and noticed about fifty different mosquitoes crawling all over me. I tried not to look down again. I friggin hate mosquitoes!

Soon after I started to hear some strange sounds: Quick Footsteps which turned out to be a squirrel, a frightening sound that sounded like the damn “Predator”, something that sounded like a cow mooing and a bunch of slow crunching sounds which I could have sworn were made by a deer that was approaching but I never saw a thing.

Several hours later it started getting dark. Spencer text messaged me that he would be coming to get me in about twenty minutes. Twenty minutes passed and he hadn’t shown up or messaged me. The darkness was making it really hard to see and honestly I started to get a little worried. I began envisioning bad things –Blair Witch type stuff– as I stood there in the middle of the darkening forest. Luckily, Spencer eventually found me and we headed back to his truck. I was really relieved but found myself starving and sore from standing and swatting mosquitoes away from me for three straight hours.

It turned out that I should have been sitting the entire time to rest and to limit the deer’s ability to spot me in the bush. No wonder my legs were on fire and I never saw a single thing out there; I was doing it all wrong!

The drive home was long and again we became a little bit lost so it took even longer. Overall, it was an okay experience that probably would have turned out super exciting had I not scared away all of my prey with my mosquito swatting action.

Back home, a group of us just watched the Strikeforce MMA card. After it was done I headed down here to my room to eat some instant teriyaki rice that I cooked in the microwave and I must say it was pretty good. I think I’m going to finish up this game of scrabble with my wife –which I’m loosing badly by the way– and then get some sleep…

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Jumping out of bed early I ripped through a one hour workout from my MMA QuickStart program in the basement. The one I did focused mostly on ground technique. It was a fun one and I’m finding my own punching getting sharper and faster by practicing the basics repeatedly. Being in really good shape right now, I’m trying to be careful not to make the workouts too difficult conditioning wise since most people doing the program will be new to the sport and maybe even new to athletic training in general.

Right after I finished the lesson we headed over to the gym again (which is where I’m at right now). Time to put down the laptop and teach some stuff…

It’s now late in the day now and it’s been a really busy one. During that morning class I taught an omaplata sequence that I like to use starting with an entry, then the basic submission and lastly I added a back roll sweep to the top position.
Lastly I drilled wrestling takedowns with Spencer. Well not really, it was more like I was the throwing dummy as he drilled a few techniques on me over and over again. We focused on two takedowns that we both feel will work well in the fight for him if he does decide to take the fight to the ground: The chest pressure single leg and the double leg tackle. Spencer tore through five hard, non-stop one minute rounds drilling those attacks and we finished the workout with a few five minute rounds where he took me down to the mat repeatedly using a wider variety of takedown attacks.

After class, I sat around the house for a bit then joined Spencer on a drive to sell some hunting equipment. Two fighters trying to navigate their way throughput a three hour drive ended badly as we got really lost. We managed to eventually meet up with the buddy of Spencer’s that was buying his stuff.

On the drive back we were both starving so we stopped at an Outback –it was supposed to be a Ruby Tuesday’s according to our GPS but I guess the business there had changed– for some food. I don’t know if it’s was my black eye, my UFC t-shirt, Spencer’s leanness, or the fact that we may both look like we’ve been hit quite a bit over the years, but everyone was coming up and asking if we were fighters. Even funnier was when the waitress said, I think I’ve seen you guys on TV? Are you famous? After eating and signing a few autographs we headed back to the car.

Two minutes later we decided to look for a local gym so that we could get a workout in. I really have no idea of our exact location but I’m guessing that it’ll be at least two more hours of driving to get to Spencer’s house.

Anyways, I once again find myself sitting in the middle of a men’s locker room of a gym –a Gold’s gym locker room to be precise–, waiting as Spencer sits in the Sauna relaxing. It’s been good though as it’s provided me with some time to charge my laptop and sit down beside one of the bathroom sinks to write all this.

We’ll be heading home in a bit, I write a little more when I get back…

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