Engineer & Entertain

Ideas I grapple with

Archive for the category “Fitness”

GORUCK Challenge Class 2027 Flagstaff 2016

I completed my second challenge and fifth Goruck event on 29 July 2016 in Flagstaff with Cadre Chad, an SF engineer. I plan on doing any event which appears in Flagstaff and as many events as I can which are in Arizona. If you have the opportunity to do an event with Cadre Chad, then jump on it. He is tough, but personable and shares a lot of his experiences.

For previous events I trained for the event following Goruck’s six week program. This time around I followed the Tactical Barbell Zulu program which lays out a lifting schedule. Combined with the Tactical Barbell Conditioning program, I had a general fitness program which makes me good for any event, but not great at anything in particular. Four times a week I would lift: squats & bench press two days and dead lift & dips the other two days. After lifting I would either do a high intensity conditioning workout or I would go for a ruck. I have since switched my training to the Tactical Barbell Fighter scheme because it works with my schedule. I lift twice a week, condition twice a week, and ruck twice a week.

The only change in my gear was a new headlamp; I destroyed my previous one in the Pacific Ocean during the Pearl Harbor Challenge. I now used a Black Diamond Spot 2016. The rest of my gear and its placement in my GR1 remained the same.

The 20 lbs weight plate is in the laptop compartment with a cut-down-duct-taped yoga brick above and below it. The main compartment holds my 3 liter Source water bladder, cheap cycling wind breaker, spare AAA batteries, and a Pelican 1020 case. In the Pelican 1020 case I keep my ID, $20 bill, and first aid kit. The first aid kit is nothing more than duct tape, gauze, benadryl, tylenol, and aleve. The outside slash pocket held a Source UTA and a dry bag. The dry bag had my food (4 Clif bars) and electrolyte tablets (Enduralyte Fizz Lemon Lime).

Our event began in a city park. There were only seven of us and initially it looked like we were only going to have four members. Cadre joked that if we didn’t have enough the event would go from a Challenge to a war stories and beer. I almost wish that had happened because Cadre Chad has some great stories.

Our team weight was a waste oil can filled with sand and covered in Route 66 stickers. Before any great American road trip, especially one on Route 66, you should have an oil change. Our flag also had to be freestanding and weigh 25 lbs. A team member built a base with deployable legs. There are some refinements which could be made to make it faster, but her engineering was quite impressive.

We nearly had a med drop during the Welcome Party. The individual was from Phoenix, and though physically fit, was not used to the altitude. Phoenix is at 1,000 ft elevation compared to Flagstaff’s 7,000 ft. The individual was able to recover and, spoiler alert, made it to the end.flagstaff-mt-elden-lookout-cadre-chad

During the Welcome Party we also learned the importance of having a standard operating procedure (SOP). We lined up to do flutter kicks and some of our feet were pointing to the cadre and some of heads were pointing to him. When told to roll to the right we rolled over each other. Lesson learned. It does not matter if our feet are pointing toward or away from the cadre as long as we have a standard we will end up with the same results and avoid rolling over each other.

Cadre asked for a team leader and I quickly volunteered as I did not want to be penalized for lollygagging or hesitating. I led the remainder of PT during the Welcome Party and then was instructed to move us to a nearby high school.

At the high school, I was fired from being team leader and a new one was selected. We then had some bear crawl races and bear crawl wrestling at the high school. The races were straight forward. Bear crawl to a point and return the fastest. The fights involved being in the bear crawl position and causing your opponent to put their knee on the ground or otherwise drop out of position. Initially we did one and one and then expanded to melees. Our finally battle was every man for himself. Honestly this was one of the most fun things I have done.

With our new team leader we rucked to a church. We also received a coupon before we headed out. It was a one handed rock. The rock could only be carried with one hand. If I passed the rock to another teammate, then I had to do it with one hand and my teammate had to receive it with one hand. The purpose of this was to make us consider our veterans who are returning without all of their limbs or without function in their limbs. The point was definitely made.

We did not make our time hack in part because we did not listen to our TL or our bodies. TL would tell us to run and those up front did not set a pace because of their own inexperience and physical inabilities. We could have done it had we set a decent pace.

After paying our debt for not making the time hack to the church, Cadre provided Get-To-Know-Your-Cadre-Time. During this time we were allowed to sit, take care of our feet, eat, and ask Cadre Chris anything. He said he would answer anything that was asked, but cautioned us to consider what we were asking because he would give an honest answer. Not everyone will want to hear the answers of a combat veteran. That said, his stories were amazing and what he shared was truly appreciated. Get-To-Know-Your-Cadre-Time should be mandatory for Goruck events.

quote-george-orwell-we-sleep-safe-in-our-beds-because-50519

I am pretty sure this quote comes from Richard Grenier, but the point remains. 

 

Switching TLs, our next movement was to the trail head of Mount Elden. Once there our next time hack was to make it to the peak of Mt. Elden before sunrise. Our American flag had to be flying with all of us posed around it as the sun was rising. We took breaks frequently and checked for altitude sickness. Thankfully no one succumbed to the altitude. Our team just barely made it to the top in time. We could have made it with time to spare, but our team broke down. We were doing so well until this moment; in our exhaustion our personalities clashed.

flagstaff-mt-elden-lookout

After a team photo, we hiked down the mountain and earned our patches. I would not hesitate to do another event with Cadre Chad. He definitely gave more than any other cadre I have experienced. This event, though a “typical” challenge and not a special event, was definitely more enjoyable than any other GORUCK event I have done.

patches

Mettle Forger HTL/HTLS Training Plan Review

I will be completing a GORUCK Jedburgh in July. I have heard recommendations you should at least be in shape to complete a Challenge, but if you are in shape for a Heavy then even better. I purchased the Mettle Forger HTL/HTLS training plan to help me prep for the event. TL;DR I do not recommend the guide for the cost. The tips, set ups, and training methods can be found in after action reports for free without any effort.

  • Pro
    • Equipment requirements are minimal (ruck, sandbag, and pull up bar) if you are okay with substitutions.
    • Teaches how to make gear e.g. a pull up bar and sandbag
    • Provides clear photos of the gear load outs and ruck set ups.
  • Neutral
    • The layout is atrocious in the Kindle app. The quotes, sidebars, and special characters did not translate into the Kindle app. As a PDF the layout is perfectly fine. It is easily read with the Gumroad app which is the service which sells the book. The Gumroad app is free.
    • You’ll be flipping back and forth between the general schedule and the actual workouts. I find this to be annoying, but par for the course for workout manuals.
  • Con
    • All of the information can easily be found for free with no effort. Spending $35 did not save me time in comparison to doing a quick Google search.
    • It is helpful to have a barbell for deadlifts, a kettlebell for swings and farmer’s carries, and equipment to test UBRR
    • It refers you out to another site for some workouts: “Go to Sealfit.com and search for Monster Mash and pick a WOD”. Might as well tell me to go to my local library and look at the books in 796.41.

The main take away for me is that I should examine the tools I already have before I purchase another. I was aware of this lesson before I purchased the book, but when we are tired we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago. My fault; lesson learned. If you knew you wanted to do a Heavy, but had no clue where to begin, then there is a slim possibility this text is worth $35. For the rest of us:

GORUCK Pearl Harbor

At some point during nursing school I learned the 2-5-1 method of doing after action reports. Two introductions, five fingers, and one take away.

Two Introductions: Who you are & Summary of the experience

I have completed two lights and the Pearl Harbor Memorial was my first Challenge/Tough. My second light I completed a week before this event. It was a GORUCK Thanksgiving Light in Phoenix.

Completing a GORUCK Challenge has been a goal since learning about it. The experience was positive as a GORUCK event, but a bit of a let down for a special event. I wanted to hear stories, history, or correlations about Pearl Harbor with other events. The event was light in this area which was a shame given the significance of Pearl Harbor. I was unimpressed by this cadre’s planning and I would certainly do another special event with another cadre.

TLDR up front: While the details change, the events are the same. The cadre didn’t do his homework, but there was a welcome party filled with PT, there was plenty of rucking while carrying heavy things & people, and there was plenty esprit de corps at a beautiful and historic site.

Little Finger: What went unnoticed?

The waterproof rating on my headlamp went unnoticed. The lamp is splash proof and perfect for running in the rain or camping in damp conditions, but there was a lot of PT in water. Once the salt water entered in the lamp, it was perpetually flickering and changing brightness settings.

At one point in time I did not notice I incorrectly fastened my dry bag allowing sea water to enter. The packaging on all of my food held up and none of my food became waterlogged or inedible.

Ring Finger: What relationships were formed?

The night before the event there was a ruck-off at a local bar. My previous events did not have a ruck-off. I now think they are required as everyone I met at the ruck-off was a solid participant during the event and quickly formed as a team.

There was some friction from those who did not attend. Class 1832 would lose three members during the Welcome Party. Their issues were knee pain and lightheadedness. I assessed them and did my best to render aid, but they ended up dropping. A few Marines who signed up for the event also almost quit about ⅔ or ¾ of the way in. A contingent from the ruck-off convinced them to finish. It is never good to have people quit or almost quit, but I would say morale remained high regardless of the drops and almost-drops.

We violated Rule 2 and we got lost. We were in a field where there were unsavory dealings. Even though we were lost in a crack den, every one tried to make the situation better and most people kept a bemused detachment. We weren’t quite a team at this point, but everyone was actively trying to work to make the situation better and maintained a detached bemusement. Regrettably, we were all pulling in different directions rather than one. We were at the storming stage of Tuckman’s group development, or, in more technical terms, a clusterfuck.

Eventually we figured things out, formed as a team, and performed as a team. Class 1832 would be patched at the World War II Valor In The Pacific Monument. Most surprising and most pleasant was the fact that several of us met up to do things after the event. Given that most of us were tourists, it would have been easy for us to do the GRC and then go on and enjoy our vacation separately. To my pleasant surprise we were still texting each other to meet up for drinks, going to the beach, and sharing our vacations.

Shout out to JJ, a local GRT, who was kind enough to drive a couple of GRTs to the ruck-off and event. Props to Lex, a sailor stationed in Hawaii, who completed his first GRC.

Middle Finger: What did you dislike? What made you frustrated?

Early on we were asked trivia about the Pearl Harbor attacks. I knew the answers without hesitation in part because I went to the memorial that day. Answering the trivia staved off a round of PT. Later in the event, my trivial knowledge did not hold up and we ended up doing some PT in an ocean inlet. Every wrong answer was corrected with PT which involved a motion to submerge you in the water. Despite the ocean being warm, I became very cold and very frustrated I couldn’t recall answers I read earlier that day. I am a Ravenclaw; I value wit and critical thinking. My memory failed at a time when I needed it most. Although I never thought about quitting this was my darkest time.

My own personal frustrations aside, I was frustrated with our cadre because he did not do his homework. He stated he only planned the event by looking at Google Maps. As the map is not the territory, cadre typically walk the route to ensure they can accomplish their mission and that it is safe to do so.

Moreover, he only shared a few bits of trivia about the attacks on Pearl Harbor. GRTs who did the event last year shared how the event was awe inspiring and that the cadre went above and beyond to make you think about what unfolded on 07 Dec 1941. What has transpired from then through now. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I felt like I received an event rather than GORUCK’s advertise special event.

Index Finger: How to be number one? What would you do better next time around?

Salt tabs would have been useful to add to my first aid kit (duct tape & gauze). One GRT was cramping up despite using an electrolyte additive in his water. Another member had salt tabs and that cleared up problems fairly quickly.

Improving my physical fitness would certainly make me better at my next event. I am strong enough to complete the event and strong enough to not create more problems. I would like to be stronger so I can contribute more to the team.

Thumb: What went well? What was good?

I think I have figured out my rucking kit for three season rucking. I would not know exactly what I would need to ruck in Chicago in December. For the remaining seasons, I could assemble my ruck, weight, and accouterments seconds after you asked, “Want to do a GRC?”

Despite the med drops, I was able to provide medical care to keep others in the game. By the end of the event, several of the military GRTs were calling me, “Doc”. It’s always nice when you can contribute your skills to the team.

One Take Away: The most important take away from the event

It can always be worse. I was cold while doing PT and trying to answer poor bar trivia while at Pearl Harbor. But at least I wasn’t being shot at by Japanese aircraft or swimming through water covered in flaming oil. No matter what tragedy befalls me, it can always be worse.

GORUCK Light Thanksgiving AAR

Light Class 1044

I signed up for several GORUCK events and impulse purchased a light for Thanksgiving weekend. Class 1044 started and finished with 71 people. My first light had 8. My first light went for 6 hours, had a 1 hour welcome party and covered 8 miles. The Thanksgiving light went for 5.5 hours, had 3 hour welcome party, and covered 4 miles. Though the specifics are different the outcomes were the same: I had a great time with some good livin’.

The event started late because the Challenge which started the night before ended just before the light started. The Challenge had to push a 70,000 lbs (31,751 kg) semi truck. 15 of the people who did the challenge also did the light. They essentially performed one long event which ran 20 hours as they did not have time between to reload and refuel.

Cadre Sean and Cadre Daniel, both Army Special Forces, started our event with sprints and PT with our ruck. We also had some team building activities in there like inch worm pushups (think the human centipede performing pushups), low crawling under our teammates, body surfing our teammates to the end of a line, and rolling underneath our team.

Inch worms

Tunnel of Love

Body surfing

These events were followed by bear crawls, wheel barrow races, buddy carries, and more PT.

Cadre Sean then shared how mortar fire saved him and his team several times in Afghanistan. A nearby volleyball court allowed us to appreciate his love for mortars. After crawling on our backs and dragging our rucks between our legs, we linked up – legs around the waist of the guy in front of you. We grabbed handfuls of sand and threw it straight up in the air. This was repeated until the mortars provided the necessary support.

Fire in the hole!

Sufficiently sandy we were ready to start rucking with the worm – a group of sandbags connected by carabiners. A young man was tasked with adding the weight of the worm. It weighed 560 lbs (254 kg). The worm had some specific requests. At first it wanted to be carried low, then it wanted to be carried on our shoulders. Its most interesting request was to be carried between our legs.

While rucking to Encanto Park, some teammates were deemed casualties and had to be buddy carried. The worm and our casualties arrived safely in the park. We reformed rank and file. Half of the team jumped in a pond while the other half held plank. Then we switched. During this movement a participant received an actual injury. A girl fractured her ankle although we thought she sprained it at the time.

Not cold enough to elicit the mammalian dive reflex.

I am grateful that I repeatedly jumped in Lake Michigan in the winter. The pond class 1044 jumped in was cold, but those dives in Lake Michigan taught me the water can always be colder. In order to warm up we performed more PT. 5 minutes of arm circles turned into 8 minutes because we had to restart any time someone’s arms dropped. Once we were warmed, we rucked back to the Margaret T. Hance Park.

Chop your own firewood and you will be warm twice.

Passing our rucks back and forth while doing sit-ups.

A mile out from the park 50% of our females were casualties who had to be carried. We were given a time limit to make it back to the park. For every minute we were over, five more females became casualties. Once back at the park we formed rank and file again. We held our rucks overhead and began marching. With that drill we earned our GORUCK Light Thanksgiving patches.

New piece of flair.

Cadre Sean also handed out patches to individuals who had participated in 5, 10, or 15 events with him. He gave a patch to a woman who had done 15 events and to his recollection, she is the only one to do that thus far.

Pictured left to right: Beer, Cadre Daniel, Me

Cadre Sean also shared how the patches are just swathes of cloth that mean nothing. It is how it is earned that means something. He displayed a cloth sample which meant nothing, but was earned in an extraordinary way – his green beret. The cadre shared some interesting experiences with us and kept us motivated and entertained the whole way through.

Cadre Sean

Wear & Gear

Not much changed between my first light and this one.

  • Merrell Grassbow Air trail runners instead of my Saucony ones (they were finally worn out)
  • Patagonia Rockcraft pants instead of shorts
  • GORUCK 10 lbs (4.53 kg) rucking plate instead of two bricks duct taped together. The plate was supported by a yoga brick which was cut down to width. The plate was stowed in the laptop compartment of my GR1.

My gear, what I wore, and how I trained were otherwise all the same. I performed the GORUCK 6 week training plan before this event and felt well conditioned. If I continue to ruck and PT I think it is safe to say I would be ready for any GORUCK Light in a moment’s notice.

GORUCK Light AAR

Intro

GORUCK Light is an introduction to the team-based training found in Special Operations. While wearing a backpack (or ruck in military parlance) with 2 or 4 bricks in it, you and your team receive a guided tour (AKA rucking) of your town with good livin’ (AKA PT) along the way. It is not a race. You do not win or lose, but your team does. The only way to succeed is as a team.

The class learns teamwork through adversity. This adversity is orchestrated by a cadre, an experienced member of Special Operations. Danny, a SF medic, was our cadre for class 311.

Each class may have up to 30 teammates. There were nine people in the class. I thought it was only going to have four as only four people signed up on the Facebook page. The Facebook page is the main source of information about your event and I highly recommend signing up. That said, several members stated they couldn’t find the page; a problem I also had which was rectified with an email to Goruck.

Three of us (myself included) are civilians. Five of the military members were going through a two month leadership course in southern Arizona and the other is a member of the National Guard. The National Guardsman, a combat medic, completed several Goruck Challenges and Lights. His girlfriend was doing her first light.

Training

There are many ways to prepare for GRC or GRL. I followed their 6 week program and felt fairly prepared for the physical challenges. How ever you decide to train, make sure your training includes rucking.

Although the event is physically challenging, the mental taxation is a far greater problem. It is very easy to quit rather than push through the event. My mental training consisted of watching Apollo 13 the night before the event. What better movie/event to reinforce the concept of teamwork under harsh conditions?

My motivation for the event. If I ever became down and out I was going to reflect on my dad’s military service, my time with the Ship of Fools, and becoming a nurse. I never felt down and out.

Packing

As recommended I wrapped my bricks in three layers of duct tape.

Members of the GRT community recommend wearing the bricks high on the back and securing them so they do not shift around. Just as there are many ways to train for the event there are also many successful ways to pack the bricks.

I strapped my between two yoga blocks. The lower block elevated the bricks and the upper block prevented the bricks from hitting my head during bear crawls.

 

My 3 liter hydration bladder sat on top of the bricks.

 

To prevent it from slipping to the bottom of my pack, I secured it with a carabiner to the interior MOLLE webbing.

My food and electrolyte tabs were kept in a 1 quart Ziploc bag in the outer slant pocket. I kept a Clif Shot in my cargo pocket for easy access. After I ate, I replaced it the next opportunity I had. I packed more food than I needed. I had enough to share with others, but so did everyone else. I also had Nuun electrolyte tabs. Imagine Alka-Seltzer crossed with Gatorade. These tabs are excellent and definitely kept me hydrated.

Gear

As long as you have a durable, comfortable pack, you will be fine to complete the event. That said, the GR1 is made for this event. It is expensive, but it is durable and well made.

Five of the military personnel wore ALICE packs which jut out. The packs worked well, but when we did low crawls under our teammates (Tunnel Of Love) the ALICE packs definitely whacked some of us. Our lone female reported having a mastectomy as a result of the packs whacking her. A low profile pack is not a necessity, but it is appreciated.

A Pelican Box 1020 contained a first aid kit (gauze & duct tape wrapped around an Aleve tube), my ID, cash, Leatherman PS4, and my challenge coin.  I also brought a cycling windbreaker which was kept in the mesh zipper compartment. Of all of these items I only used the Leatherman (we used another teammate’s first aid kit though). I would not hesitate to bring all of these items again because their weight is minimal in comparison to their utility. I also brought a pen and a rite-in-the-rain note pad. I brought them in case there were complicated orders (there were not). It is not a huge weight, especially in comparison to three liters of water, but I would not bother to bring them again.

Clothing

I wore Saucony trail runners. Five of the military personnel wore combat boots which retained water and did not drain well at all. The civilians wore trail runners or running shoes and had no problems with water retention.  Of note, our cadre stated he wore trail shoes on missions & patrols and wore combat boots for general duty.

Injinji toe socks were worn on the recommendation of long distance runners. With fabric between to the toes I had no hot spots, blisters, or other feet abnormalities. Being made mostly of wool they wicked water & sweat and dried quickly.

Any athletic wear will suffice for the event. All but one person wore shorts. I wore swim trunks which I typically wear when working out or running. I was going to wear Patagonia Rockcraft pants, but they were too hot when training. A cycling jersey served as my top and the pockets in the back proved useful for keeping items close at hand.

Mechanix gloves protected my hands when carrying coupons and enjoying bear crawls.

Event

We met at Wheeler Park on a windy, sunny afternoon. After going through a safety briefing, Cadre Danny called for a non-military, non-Goruck candidate to be team leader. As there were only three options, I volunteered as tribute. The cadre provides mission details to the team leader who then leads the team on said mission. Our goal was to move from Wheeler Park to Thorpe Park in 8 minutes to meet a contact. We did not make the time hack and as a result the corrective action was physical exercise. Once we arrived in the general area, I was looking for an actual contact (we were originally assigned two cadre so I was looking for the second one. This was wrong). That error taught us a chant, “Pain now. Beer later”. The first part of the chant is said in the down position of a push up. The second portion is thus said in the up position.

Once we arrived at Thorpe Park, we entered a pond up to our shins. We then received our welcome party which consisted of squats, flutter kicks, squat thrusters, and other body weight exercises.

Our next mission was to pick up a cache of weapons and move to a safe house. Cadre Danny showed me a map of where we were and where we needed to be. Like last time, the route was up to us.

Our weapons cache which required eight of us to move it.

Our safe house was this open field where we performed bear crawls, bear sleds, buddy carries, and the infamous Tunnel of Love.

This is a non-standard buddy carry.

I was then fired from being team leader and another person was brought on. From the field we had to march to the Lowell Observatory on top of Mars Hill.

Class #311

From there we went to the woods behind the observatory and performed a few more team building challenges and earned a jerry can filled with 5 gallons of dirt.

With a new team leader, the American flag, team weight, and other coupons we marched to Northern Arizona University to take out a target. We had to borrow 4 minutes of the Cadre’s time, and we paid him back with squats, push ups, flutter kicks, and more.

Some more shenanigans occurred which brought two teammates to share a leg.

We rucked to our exfiltration point on time and proceeded to do more PT. With the last round of bear sleds complete, Cadre Danny had us rise and receive our GRL patch.

Nothing in life is to be given. It is only to be earned.

We covered 7 miles over the course of the event.

Cadre Danny with me and the team weight, the Designated Individual Comfort Killer

You Could Earn A Patch!

The President has thrown down the gauntlet.  He’s frontin’.  He’s gettin’ physical.  He has challenged students in gym classes everywhere to do sit ups, a shuttle run, v sit & reach, a mile run, and several pull-ups.  So, the President does not front the way an original gangsta does, but a physical challenge has still been issued.

In order to qualify in the top 85%, and earn the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, a 12 year old boy must perform the following:

I certainly remember doing the PPFC.  I cannot recall if I earned the Presidential or National award, but that is why my mom has maintained a box of all my awards, report cards, and hopes & dreams.  What I do know is that I recently went on a mile run and it took me 8 minutes, so as a 26 year-old, I did not qualify for the top.  Do you remember doing the PPFC?  Did you qualify for either the Presidential or National award?  Do you think you would still qualify for it?

If you are feeling ambitious, you can take the U.S. Marine Corp physical fitness test – which is not really all that ambitious if you are a Marine (thanks by the way).  The USMC PFT awards points for pull ups, crunches, and a 3 mile run.  At a minimum, Marines must score 135 points to pass.  If you wanted to earn 45 points in each event to minimally pass you would need to do:

  • 9 pull ups
  • 50 crunches in 2 minutes
  • Run 3 miles in 27 min 10 sec

A perfect score on the USMC PFT is 300 points.  It is earned by performing:

  • 20 pull ups
  • 100 crunches
  • Run 3 miles in 18 min

A Marine recruiter stated Drew Carey routinely performed perfect physical fitness tests.  This motivates me more to get back to running 6 minute miles.

Post Navigation