Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Product Review: Vibram Spyridon MR

Do you run in minimal shoes?

Well, ya should. You'll feel like a ninja.

And ninjas listen to this kick ass Pendulum song.


Ok, so maybe minimalism isn't for everyone. (Check with your local running store/coach.) There's been a bit of controversy over these kinds of shoes for a while now.  

Which is a damn shame. Because personally, I love them. These ones in particular.

Nice and dirty, like they should be.

I did some miles in Vermont with these, but lately they've been seeing a lot of our only local trail, The Hulk. It's not a super rocky trail, but there are plenty of roots and short steep ascents/descents.
And this shoe crushes it.

Good traction right there.

You can see in that picture right there ^ that there is a funky little piece of white plastic, well that helps protect your arch. My first pair of Vibrams didn't have that. And let me tell you, it can hurt when you step with your arch onto something sharp. So that's a pretty cool feature. A cool feature which still allows this shoe to be really flexible.

That's one shoe.

The lacing system is much better than my previous as well. This shoe has a speed lace system which, especially for OCR, is significantly better than Velcro.

Be thankful you can't smell them.

The sizing on a minimal shoe is always going to be strange. Especially if you off-road the hell out of it. Between the water, mud and extreme surface changes, you really beat the hell out of shoe, and stretching may become an issue.

I wear mine just a bit tight, I want to feel the trail if I'm sporting minimal shoes. And the aforementioned speed lace does a good job keeping them in place. I sweat like a SOB in Myrtle and my shoes are soaked within 3 miles. These don't shift on my feet at all. (NO SOCKS)

I have run in rain in these, no stretch. I have not, however, gone out and purposely run through water.

My previous vibrams (which I still wear), unfortunately have stretched beyond trail running and the velcro lacing system isn't up to the challenge any longer.

I really did beat the hell out of my old ones (on left).

I really like this shoe for all those reasons. I feel like a ninja. It has sick traction and while offering some pin-point arch protection, still offers great flexibility. The Speed Lace system is easy and secure.
And this particular shoe has not stretched a bit. 

And...it's Vegan. NO animal products at all. 

If you're thinking of going minimal, there are some VERY important things to keep in mind (and don't be shy about researching minimal shoes).

Make sure they fit! 
Duh. But seriously, don't just assume your normal size shoe is going to cross over into these. Go to a store, try them on.

Don't just put a pair on and go run a 10k. Start with real light mileage, even if you're a seasoned runner. Minimal beats up your feet, and as you're probably mid to fore foot striking now, it's gonna destroy your gastroc and soleus (calf muscles).

I'm not joking! Running in these takes some practice and, holy shit does it hurt at first. But once you're muscles get used to it, it's amazing. You feel light, nimble and bad-ass.



As of this writing (9/26/15), Vibram was offering 1 free Warrior Dash and 4 twenty percent off entries with a purchase of this very shoe. That's a pretty kick ass deal.

Racing is more fun with your best friend


Here's a review on a Warrior Dash I did a few years back.


I have yet to do a Mud-run or OCR in these yet. I'm a little nervous. Not because of the shoe. But because of possibly losing a one. I've done a couple races where the mud was so deep I lost a Reebok. But other than knee high mud (which no shoe is going to excel in) I really can't wait to try an OCR in these. Maybe the Carolina Sprint in November.

So check back on this post in early December to see how they held up!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Product review: BOA running shorts


I'm not actually cool enough to get these products sent to me for review. My girlfriend is, but I have a way to go yet.

Sometimes however, she gets me things. Either on purpose or accidentally, it doesn't matter. 

And I review 'em. 

I still have no job, so what the hell else am I going to do?

I run in short shorts. I cannot stand wearing long shorts. What the hell is the sense of long shorts? Just wear pants. If you have little chicken legs, who the hell cares? You can still dress like decent respectable citizen.

Don't wear long shorts. My advice to you for the day. 

Wear these!

Best shorts I own

You can get your pair here. But damn, look at all their latest gear!

I'm going to give you a little run down on my BOA shorts here.

They are short. (we've already covered this, ya?) But when I say short, I mean they're only a bit more than Boy Shorts. Mine have a one inch inseam.

Please don't make fun of my back bacon.

They wash clean, every time.
I have to Vaseline the hell out of my crotch every run. Even after washing, most of my shorts now stink like petroleum jelly and sweaty junk.
Not these.

This makes them great for silly Foam or Color runs.

That's my kickass mom right behind me.


They dry really damn fast. In the Carolina humidity, this is quite obviously an advantage. Sweat and water, both evaporate nicely.

They are ridiculously comfortable. You won't know you wearing them. 
Everyone else might if you're sporting the flashy color patterns, but you won't.

They have held up wash after wash. I've had these 2 or 3 years now, and they still look brand new. Quality fabric in these.

BOA does make a wide array of  different length and style shorts for men and women, as well as cold weather gear and tops.

So far I've only had the opportunity to wear this particular model. And I can tell you, people notice these shorts. The Hashers love them, but they are also very, very visible when running in low light conditions (I recommend lights and reflectors too!)

The most expensive pair of men's shorts from BOA is forty bucks. That's quite reasonable for a quality pair of shorts. But the kicker is most of their shorts are in the thirty dollar range with some as low as sixteen bucks! Man, that's pretty cheap.

Go buy these shorts, I think you'll like them.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Hashletics

I've been pretty active since leaving the military back in '91. That's a pretty long time. Jesus Christ I'm old.

But who cares how old I am? You don't. I sure the hell don't.

When I first started being a "Jock" it was with cycling. My dad got me into mountain biking wayyy back. Before suspension, disc brakes, SPD's, before all the new carbon fiber or Ti frames. Hell, I think my bike only had 15speeds.

From there it was an natural transition to Road Cycling, then of course because I was surrounded by triathletes on Cape Cod, I got into Triathalon.

And I was never great at these sports. I loved every damn second of doing them, but I'm not an elite...at anything. I just like doing shit.

Life bounced me around a bit and I ended up in Worcester MA. I started training in Martial Arts there. I did some rock climbing. And I was able to keep up with my mountain biking believe it or not. Some of my favorite riding was just outside city limits.

Life Bounce again, this time to Brattleboro VT. Road cycling was out of the question, too dangerous. But now I could snowboard, snow shoe, and I got involved in White Water Kayaking.

Bounce to Reno NV. (2006-2011?)
The Reno-Tahoe area is a Mecca for athletes. I was able to mountain bike, road bike, run, start lifting weights, snowboard, kayak and cross country ski. I was fatefully introduced to Adventure Racing.

More importantly I was adopted by RH3 and the Hash House Harriers.

I'll spare you the entire sob story, but basically as my 2nd marriage was crumbling around me, I met two runners who asked if I would like to run with their group, the Reno Hash House Harriers. They mostly run trail and they have free beer at the end of the run. And their next run is Saturday night out in the desert, 10PM start time. 

So of course I went! I'm a jock, I run at night all the time anyway, I'll go get in a solid run, call it good.

As soon as I arrive I can see this is not a typical training group. 

Why are some dudes in kilts? Is that one dude wearing a Rugby helmet? Is she really going to run with that big pink boa thing. Who the? What the? Is that a stuffed animal?

Am I at the right place?

I was. And I'm real glad I stayed. I spent hours with these people running through the desert. When we would stop, I would be bent over with laughter. The kind of laughter that makes your gut hurt. I don't remember everything of my first run with RH3, but the experience will never leave me. And I made friends I will have a lifetime.

And I knew I had found a new and better group of friends than the snobby fucking roadies I was hanging with.  A group of friends that never judged how much money I made, what kind of car I drove, what kind of beer I drank. A group of friends that only wanted to run a little bit, drink a little bit and stop stressing about the real world for even a little while.
(Not all roadies are snobs, I've known a few real cool roadies, and I miss them a lot.)

By now you may be wondering exactly what the Hash House Harriers are. Or what a Hasher is. It's probably not what you think. Nobody has to do anything with the drug Hash, we don't eat eggs and Hash, etc.

You can read the wiki. It gives a good run down. But trying to describe a Hash is like to trying to describe sushi to a hedgehog.

I am a Hasher. Given the choice, I will go to a Hash Event before most athletic events. There's a few exceptions, but I'd even skip Spartan Worlds to go to NURD any day.

But I'm also an Athlete. I may suck, but athletics are a part of me.

And here is born Hashletics.

The concept that anyone can be both a Hasher and an Athlete.



Me and my buddy Just Walt at Spartan Super New Jersey




We're not all going to be elites, no matter how fucking hard we try. I learned this long ago. Both thru trying and some basic learning about the human body. (VO2Max sound familiar to anyone?)

My philosophy is then just to have as good a time as possible...

I like to sing and drink.

...but still push my athletic ability just outside it's comfort zone.

I also enjoy disrupting the norm sometimes.

 



There are a lot of points of view on physical fitness and how it effects mental well being. There's a TON of Personal Trainers out there that may argue with this Personal Trainers point of view. But it's my Blog, and this particular blog is about my point of view!

Everybody wants to get better, faster, stronger, whatever. But why?
I mean I do. I'd love to be a better athlete. 
But what does it take, and do I have it?

Infinitus 2015. I only made 52 out of 100 miles

I'm gonna tell ya, I don't have it in the sense your thinking. I am not going to put training above anything in my life. Stressing about training only leads to more issues. When training becomes a Stress, it's no longer fun. Read: Burnout.


NURD 2014. No stress here. Just a dude looking at me bum.

 

In those years up RH3 I spent all my free time training. I really wanted to be a cyclist. I had the gear, the friends, the drive. Even a team.

Crappy picture, but you get the idea.




But it sucked. My VO2Max is around 48-50. I am not going to be a Cat 1 no matter how hard I trained. I kinda started hating it. I wasn't able to do some of my other sports, my non-cycling relationships suffered. Not worth it.

Hashing is a sport. And it has a wonderful twist: If you finish first, you are soundly ridiculed and must pay a penalty. Cheating is often encouraged and there are no Rules, only Guidelines, and even those are open to personal translation. You can run as fast as you want, or just walk the entire time.

I have gotten to run through all parts of San Fransisco, Sacremento, Boston, New Haven, Saratoga Springs, etc. that most people will never have the opportunity to see. I've had fun every step of the way, I've made new friends every step of the way. Because of the Hash. 



As a Personal Trainer and jock, I'm constantly bombarded by shit like this:

This is utter horse shit.


 Or this:

Half horse shit


The human body is a wonderful and amazing thing. But scientifically, anatomically and physically it's only capable of so much. 

Look at that first bit of horse shit. What if you've sprained your ankle during a run? You didn't puke, faint or die. 

Look at that second bit. Well maybe I want to bench 350lbs. But what if my muscles simply aren't designed for that?

Screw those kinds of attitudes.  I know my own limits and when/how to push them. 

And Hashletics is just that. The theory that I can train and race as hard or easy as I want and still have a really damn good time doing whatever the hell it is I'm doing, whether it's Poof Middle of Nowhere or the Big Blue Adventure Race. 

Hero Rush 2013 (?)

PorME Prom 2014


Are you getting the idea yet? Probably. Hopefully...

It's a pretty positive attitude based in (my own) physical reality.

Vomit Sutra


Some of my best friends are Hashers.

Some of my best friends Athletes.

And I'm kinda like a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup of the two. Because you can do both.

 
I hope this post has kind of given you an insight on what goes on upstairs in my cranium.

See you on trail.





Sunday, September 20, 2015

Product Review: Steel Reserve Alloy Edition, Blk Berry

The market is flooded with recovery drinks. Protein, electrolyte, aminos, even chocolate milk.

But sometimes after a run you might want a damn beer or a hard lemonade, ya know, something a bit more adult. And we all have our favorites. PBR is disgustingly popular, but I personally would prefer an IPA or if it's wicked hot, I want a Mike's Hard Lemonade.

I was out running the Hulk the other afternoon. I was shooting for just the front lap, 4 miles. But at 1 mile in I just wasn't feeling good and at 2 miles I felt like total crap. I'd forgotten to eat after the gym and I'm still recovering from Lyme. So I bailed at 3 miles and went to the store and bought this:

Alloy Series? Alloy of what? Window cleaner and rubbing alcohol?


I'm used to drinking lower than average grade booze. I'll drink Busch, PBR or even Keystone if I have to. But this stuff...this stuff has got to be the grossest shit I've ever tasted.

White Trash.

It is called Blk Berry. It's purposely misspelled. I guess that should have told me something. But I was real thirsty and wanted to try something new.

1.99 for that can. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Sometimes you get less.

I'm surprised there's no chunks.

8 percent alcohol. Not shabby. But if you can't keep it down, it doesn't really matter what percent it is.


Trying to describe a taste is always hard. But if you were to take fingernail polish and soak some dirty purple underwear in it, then mix with ben-gay, then serve in a can lined with asbestos...you'd get this stuff.

Next time I'm just going to drink the Glass Cleaner.

I was told by my partner in crime that the Margarita version wasn't too terrible. In fact, after drinking the Margarita, she polished off the Blk Berry. 

Gutsy. 

But I personally won't be buying any Steel Reserve in the future. I do hate giving bad reviews of anything, but the general public needs to know NOT to drink this.  I wouldn't even buy this for my younger brother as a joke. It's plain awful.

 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Product Review: Navel Oranges

Everyone eats fruit. Well, everyone should eat fruit, and oranges are often an easy go-to. 

A medium sized orange has about 80 calories, 250mg of Potassium, 14g of sugar and 130% of your DRA of Vitamin C.

From the Sunkist webpage


But more importantly, Oranges taste good and they're pretty refreshing. Usually...

Because I had nothing to do the other day I thought I'd review some Navels that I got at my local Kroger.

Typically navel oranges are available from November through May, with peak supplies in late winter. So maybe buying them in September wasn't the best idea.They weren't a recognizable brand name either, just a knock off brand.


Sometimes you want to peel an orange. And these actually peeled quite well and easily. There was a low-moderate amount of that white skin stuff. 

A reasonable amount of skin left after the peel is gone. 



Sometimes you just want to cut your orange into slices. If you have a sharp knife, this is easy enough to do and you can see here that these kept a pretty uniform slice and didn't just turn into pulp.


However, slicing them actually yielded less available edible fruit. You can see from this picture the wasted orange.

And it gets stuck in your teeth.


But it really all boils down to taste. 
These were actually Ok. Almost the kind of orange you would expect to get with your bill at Chinese Food. They'd also make a great garnish orange. For the money (2.99 a dozen), they definitely weren't a bad deal, but if you want an orange with some real pizzazz, you may need to spend a bit more. 

Slices vs Peeled. Also, please notice the gratuitous product placement. The Reebok All Terrain Supers I want to review (Those are Heather's) and my coveted O2X/Dunkin' Donuts cup.

The convenient carrying size of an orange should also be considered. Notice how readily a Navel fits inside a Reebok All Terrain Super.

Heather's Reebok All Terrain Super. I'd run the living piss out of these.



Fruit is gamble. You can get a great apple on Monday, then a crappy apple on Tuesday. 
So make sure to ask your local Produce Expert what kind of fruit is best for you. 

But in the meantime, I'll continue to bring reviews on all sorts of things. Until I get a job, then you're on you own.

Monday, September 14, 2015

My first Naked 5k with Lyme Disease

I'm from Vermont. There's woods and lots of it. Unlike South Carolina, the trees aren't out to get you. The bugs aren't bigger than your thumb, there's very few poisonous snakes, no gators, all in all the woods in Vermont are pretty cool. Other than goddamn Deer Ticks.

My mother and sister have both had Lyme Disease. Both have told me it was the worst experience of their lives. And thank god, both of them were ultimately treated in time to hopefully prevent further complications.

After my Myrtle Beach GORUCK, I came home with a sore lower back. No big thing, it was GORUCK, you're going to be sore. Sunday however, the pain got worse, to the point I thought maybe I had thrown a disc. It hurt.

Sunday night, I am so uncomfortable I can't sleep, the pain is so bad, my head hurts so much and I'm so dizzy, I have to crawl to the bathroom. And when I get there, I can't decide if I need to sit on the throne or pray to the porcelain god. I honestly thought I was going to die right there in the shitter. I can barely think straight, let alone see straight. I'm now thinking I broke my back, or my kidneys are highly infected. I probably should have gone to hospital. If I'd insurance, I would have.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I slowly get better. The pain in my back subsides, I am able to walk. My headaches lessen, I'm able to read again. But my body temperature is still out of control. Cold sweats, when I could sleep I would wake up with soaked blankets and immediately start freezing.

Friday. I've got to get this looked at. After researching the long term prognosis of untreated Lyme, I decide to spend the money I don't have and go to Urgent Care. They test me for the Flu, makes sense. Look at the symptoms. Flu test is a negative. And thank christ, my doctor is cool and prescribes my Doxycycline.

It's been my understanding, and this happened with my Mother, that many doctors don't want to treat for Lyme without testing. The general public is now so suped up on antibiotics for little things that all of our bacteria are starting to become immune to antibiotics! But here's the damn catch. It's A) SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper to treat Lyme than test for it. B) the long term prognosis is fucking horrible. The doctors at Brattleboro Memorial refused to treat my mother for Lyme on her first two visits to the ER.  My doctor was efficient, empathetic, and thorough. I'm taking Doxy.

Months ago, somewhat on a whim, Heather and I signed up for Sunbare Whispers 5k. I forget how we heard about it, but she said it was on her bucket list, so we went for it.

Nudity is weird thing for a lot of people. I won't lie, I don't understand why it has to be weird. Everyone is naked under their clothes, right? If we're supposedly all made equal, where's the damn problem? Well anyway, I won't carry on to far with my runaway train of thought, because honestly, I've been training for this for years.

Back in my thirties I was an avid white water kayaker. Show me a kayaker that won't drop trow on the side of the river, road or anywhere just to get out of a urine soaked wetsuit or prevent hypothermia from paddling in the winter. You just do it because you have to and you get used to being (not staying) naked outside the comfort of your home.

I'm also a Hasher. Hashing never requires nudity. But after you play umpteen games of Strip Cup or Slippy Cup, after you've done a few UGHs, after you've been to a Camp Hash, you get quite used to being around all kinds of naked people. And it doesn't bother you, like lots of things in life, you get used to it. Many Hashers, myself included, often run regimental under our Kilts. So you get used to your boys being free to do as they will while running.

I woke up Saturday morning not sure what I was going to do about this race. I've got Lyme disease and pushing a 5k race pace just doesn't seem wise. But I'm mobile, my back no longer hurts and the Doxycycline hasn't started it's evil side effects yet, so I decide to run, NOT race this thing. I mean, c'mon! I'm sure I'll get to do another one of these, but I paid 30$, it's a great weather and Heather wants to give it a go.

Here is a link to Earth Wind and Fire's September. This is such a fantastic song.

Whispering Pines is located in Ocean Isle, an easy hour drive north from Myrtle Beach, about half way to Wilmington/ Cape Fear. It's a small gated community of permanent mobile homes, RV's, etc.

Respecting the rights and rules of the park, it's members, the competitors, and race organization, we took no pictures in the park, of other racers or at the event itself. Any pics referring to this event were re-enacted shortly after at a nearby location.
 

Once inside the gate, it's naked time. I mean, you get to park your car first. So our parking guide, who was also the park owner is completely nude. As it's still an hour before race time, we see just a few other folks about, drinking their coffee, talking with friends and neighbors, totally naked. It's pretty cool.

We park our little SpartanMobile and I step out wearing my kilt. No sooner do my feet hit the ground when from behind me I hear "A man in a Kilt isn't wearing pants".  YES!! My kinda place already! I turn around and immediately get to meet the Race Director (I feel like an ass because I can't remember his name), who is incredibly friendly and notices our Vermont plates, striking up a conversation about a race they used to put on north of Burlington.

Side note, a friendly RD (race director) can make a good race great. See my review on the Francis Marion Dirt Dash. 

At this point my girl is out and about, naked. And I won't lie, I'm pretty damn proud of her. She's not a prude by any means, but I honestly didn't know if when race day came, she'd have the stones to bare it all. Well, she did, and once again proved how cool she is.

We walk over to to the rego table, and I'm a little curious about bib numbers, chips etc. But no bibs or chips, or even Sharpie'd numbers, they're using an old school Carding system. We walk around the park a bit, it's really kind of nice, reminds a bit of Mohawk Campground where we used to GAP when we lived up north. All in all, I can tell this going to be a good morning.

The RD is also the Race MC, and he's doing a great job. He gives us some stats of some of the previous races here. The course record is 14:47.  That's a 4:45 mile. What the ffffuuuuckkkk. People are amazing. Can you imagine being that fast? I couldn't even ride my bike on this course that fast!

Well it's finally race time. 10am and we're going to start right on time. We line up in the corral. I'm just running, remember? But my girl is racing so she's right on the start line, where as I'm casually kicking around in the middle.

Hey, ya know how you go to a race or event and you casually side eye and check out the competition? Well, that changes a bit at a Naked race. Think about it.....there ya go. But we had all kinds of people doing this race. People from the community, which was awesome, and some people, like Heather and me, that drove in just for the experience.

A brief description of the course, and we're out of the gate. And it's AWESOME! I'm not sprinting, I've got godamn Lyme! I'm running maybe an 8:30 and it feels great. I mean everything feels great. There's no awful bouncing, no chaffing, no helicoptering, no clapping sounds. It's awesome. Awesome, awesome.

My first lap (1mile per lap), I feel great, almost forgetting I'm sick. Second lap I start wondering if I was dropped on my head as a child. Third lap I fall apart and occasionally have to walk.

As mentioned the course is 3 laps. There's no pavement on course, most of it packed dirt road. The exception being what the RD called The Sand Pits where the course moved on to grass briefly. In fact in the Sand Pits you could see some of the obstacles they use for their OCR (I gotta do that). There are volunteers in golf carts along the course. There's a water station and the very best....there's a gentleman with a garden hose ready with a fine mist if you want to cool off. And it was a nice warm morning, so this was an especially nice touch.

I wish I had felt good for this race.

But hey, life's a bitch right? At least I didn't have Lyme for my GORUCK.

I finished, running over the line, without dying on trail. I'm counting that as a win for this day.

There's some bananas, fig newtons, water and Yuengling at the finish. Btw, Yuengling makes a fantastic recovery drink. And even though I probably shouldn't have alcohol, I am a Hasher, and I did just finish a race. So eff it. I had one. And it was great.

We hung around a bit afterwards and cheered some other competitors thru the gate. We also had to kick around because Heather came in Second! Yaaay! (Here is her recap)

We did have to roll out soon after the awards, but the park offered some food and beer and a nice general post-race atmosphere. In fact, next year I am going to be sure not to schedule anything after this event and stick around for the day. In fact, In fact, next year I am going to try my best to convince others to come join us for this event. People have a lot of hangups with nudity, and sometimes jumping into the fire is a great way to get rid of those hangups. So if you're reading this, consider yourself invited.

Thank you Cape Fear H3 for taking this re-enactment photo!



Myrtle Beach GORUCK Light Sept.5 Class 927

The first GORUCK I did, back in October 2014 was also a Light. But it was also a Mogadishu Mile, something a bit more special in the GORUCK world. I didn't do a re-cap, but damn straight my girl did.

Myrtle Beach in September is significantly different from Portland in October. A) It's a helluva lot warmer. B) The beaches are sand, not rock. C) It's a helluva lot warmer. D) There's a ton of people in Myrtle. E) It's a helluva lot warmer.

And this event was also significantly different from my experience in Portland.

My Portland GORUCK was pretty much an "Embrace The Suck" kind of thing. I am in no way knocking it. It's GORUCK. You sign up, and you get what the Cadre and the environment give you. This is important to know. I've attached pictures of both events to try to show the difference.

But my Myrtle 'ruck was actually fun. Ya, there were some moments when I would rather have been sitting on the beach than marching around with sand in my junk carrying a big ass water container, but it was still fun.

(Unless noted otherwise, all photo credits to two of our shadows, Tammy & James Vretis. Thank you guys so much)
 

Class 927


I'm not going to go into too many details on what GORUCK is. But the basic premise is Team Building and carrying shit around. Although I understand some people like the Team aspect, Team has never been a word I use often. I really just like the physical aspect of these things. 

As noted above, there's a good chunk of people in Myrtle Beach, especially on a nice Saturday on Labor Day Weekend. Well, our start point was at a popular beach head right down town. And although parking kind of sucked, I've never minded making a spectacle of myself, and I'm pretty damn sure a bunch of folks hanging around in a beach parking lot, in the sun, 80degrees, wearing backpacks made a spectacle.

GORUCK is team thing, so you introduce yourself to people when you show, because you're all going to be relying on each other soon enough, may as well get to know your buddy now. As we kick about the Team Weight shows. An ammo box with some gear in it, and a bottle of Captain Morgans. Nice. Then the team flag shows. Thank Christ, I was most worried about this, because YOU WILL have an American Flag when you do a GORUCK. The fellow that brought the flag was a badass who had also done a longer GORUCK event the night before. (You'll meet these crazies when you do a GORUCK). Unfortunately, I guess the flag pole wasn't up to par, so the current pole was taped to this big heavy ass metal rod. Rumor was it was now 27#s. Can't confirm or deny that one.

After getting the flag squared we trudge down to the beach and line up. Yep, this is military styled event. Stay in formation until told not to. Rucks off, rucks open in the sand, Cadre is gonna check out your weight/gear.

Look at those smiles! 4 out of 5 Dentists recommend GORUCK


There are currently a few different options for what kind of weight you use, but essentially I was carrying 4 bricks, 2+liters of water, headlamp, batteries, ID and twenty bucks. I knew I wasn't going to need any extra layers on this adventure...it's freeking 80 degrees. 

Have you done a GORUCK before? Well let me tell you, your Ruck can make a huge difference,my GOLITE pack was designed with Adventure Racing in mind, not lumping bricks. When I get the funds, I will be looking into a GORUCK Pack. It makes a difference, TRUST ME.

Packs on. Two rows facing each other.

Front leaning rest. It felt like we spent 15 minutes bear crawling backwards and forwards while introducing ourselves to each other, again. (Hint, practice push ups and bear crawls for your GORUCK.)


Pack on your belly. Two rows back to back.

So now we're leaning against each other doing squats. I hardly squat anymore because of all the damn running, so this kind of sucked for me.

Pack on your back, face your buddy.

Do more squats,but it only lasted as long as the country song that Cadre played over his mega-phone. I love country music. My partner however, was singing along. Which was cool, motivation and all.

Then...then, the much dreaded Buddy Carry. I HATE THIS. I'm a tall skinny guy, trying to get underneath some two hundred pounder is brutal on me back and knees. But, perseverance, and using a smaller partner helped. 


Grab the Team Gear, time to go!

Staying in formation seems pretty hard for civilians, especially when you now add in the weights of the ammo box, 2 five gallon (filled) water jugs, and an army duffle full of something...
So we shuffle down the beach, I'm loathe to call it marching, with our Flag Carrier in the front, team weights behind. Now, at this point my bad memory gets even worse, but I believe Cadre gave us fifteen minutes to cover about a mile of beach. Now, 15min per mile is no big thing on pavement, but lumping in the sand is a different story. Our destination is the Ferris Wheel on 11th. Our "Platoon Leader" and "Assistant Platoon Leader" are tasked with getting us there in time. 


However, neither of them have done a GORUCK before, and neither of them are carrying a forty pound water jug. So when they ask for a jog....the formation gets a little sloppy. Trying to double time carrying some of the team weights can be challenging.
But hey, we make the cuttoff and we make a real great scene because this is where the beach is really damn busy. You'll now know what a GORUCK is when you see it, but the general population has no idea what to think about a squad of civilians carrying random things with an American Flag up front.


Remember how I keep mentioning it's in 80s? Well Cadre now brings us into the water. The nice cool, beautiful ocean...Hydro Burpees were introduced to me. Pretty fun actually, and not real easy when wearing a pack that has a highly buoyant yoga block in it. We may have done some flutter kicks here as well. We also played "Duck, duck, dolphin". This involved one poor sod staying underwater for the duration it took the rest of us to run out of the water, up the beach, around a water jug, and back to Cadre. I'm not a huge water guy, and thank christ I never had to be the dolphin. 
Myrtle Beach

Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines






































Back on the beach.

We're given another rally point, 2 different leaders, another time cutoff, and an option. Fill one of our canvas duffles with beach sand (250+ lbs.), or take a casualty. 

Work smarter, not harder. And we were given the choice. And we had a few girls under 130lbs. So guess what we chose to do? Ya, we took a casualty.

One of the veteran badasses carrying my girl.




The scene we made with general population before? Well now where doing that same thing except we're all taking turns doing the newly learned buddy carry down the beach. 

Our crew had some decent size dudes in it, and we took turns lumping a couple the girls down the beach like sacks of potatoes. Being the casualty is actually pretty damn painful, so big kudos to the gals that took one for the team here.

Making the rally with time to spare, Cadre has us sit in a semi circle. Of course I'm thinking it's about to get ugly. But instead, we got a GORUCK exclusive experience (O2X Summit Challenges offers another fantastic similar experience at their Base Camps). Cadre talks with us about his time in the Special Forces. He explains the importance of team work in day to day living, and how the ability to overcome problem A can often make overcoming problem B easier, even if in round about ways.









I mentioned earlier I am not a big Team guy, but if you wanna learn about Team Dynamics, learn from a Special Forces Vet. Damn right they know what they're talking about.




 

I would maybe guess we sat for 15min. So getting back up on freshly locked up muscles was interesting...Back down the beach we go. At this point the crowd on the beach is getting used to us. We here random shouts of  'Merica! or chants of "USA,USA,USA!"
We even have people approaching to ask us what we're doing. Strangely however, nobody wants to join us...

At our destination we have an interteam competition. 2 squads face off, no packs. We have 2 lines running parallel North/South to the beach facing each other. Everyone belly down in the sand. The plan here is to get the Southern most person to the Northern most point of the formation. But this person has to roll on their belly under the rest of them who are planning on doing a plyo pushup over the rolling person passing underneath. Pretty easy if there's only 3 of you, with 7 or 8, it becomes more of a mosh pit with arms, asses and elbows flying about everywhere. But it's still pretty fun, and physically taxing. Let alone all the lovely beach sand in your eyes.
Myrtle Beach









Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines






























After this bit 'o fun, we're given our last rally point, but the caveat is we only have 7 minutes to cover a mile. Not an unimaginable feat solo, but again, we need to stay in formation, on a crowded beach, with weights and some participants are starting to feel the day. But this is a GORUCK, not a book club. So we start off.
Myrtle Beach









Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines


This is where my own feelings towards GORUCK get squirrely. If Cadre designates Platoon Leaders, it becomes their job of organizing the mob into formation and moving it along. But what often seemed to happen (at my 2 events at least), is you get some Alphas in the pack that start yelling "Go, go, go" because they can't see the poor folks struggling off the back, and they can't hear the PLs yelling "Slow up".  It quickly becomes a mess, any hint of a formation is gone, and we look like a random drunken beach party making our way along.
 
I really do appreciate the team aspect of GORUCK, but I'd think one of the first ideals of a team is no man left behind, right? 
It might be the only damn thing I remember from my time in the Army, but you keep the formation together until directly ordered not to. I'm a little surprised we didn't have hell to pay for this stretch.

After the 7min ruck we change things up a bit. Platoon Leaders are now carrying some Team Weights, everyone else pack off. This event is pretty hard to describe, but it involved the guy in the back of the line handing his bag forward, while everyone else also handed their bag forward, and the last place guy sprinting to the front. Then the whole thing starting again. This was an interesting way to get a feel for some of the other peoples packs. And damn, we had a couple hardcore sumbitches packing at least 40lbs for a Light (only 20lbs reqd if you weighed over 150lbs). 

Finally getting back to our start point. It's pretty warm out. I just felt my water bladder 86. Shit, now I need to drink my tepid backup bottles.

But wait, back into the water. This was a releif as we were starting to have some real casualties. We weren't asked to do anything to crazy, just link arms and fall back into the water.

I really love Myrtle Beach.




Cadre let us linger in the water long enough for team recovery, then brought us back on the beach for some more...fun.

But it wasn't bad nasty burpee fun, it was plain simple fun. The kind of thing you may see 8yr olds doing.

We take our rucks and make a circle then march around them while Cadre plays another of my favorites, "Girls" by Beastie Boys. And we played Musical Rucks. March until the song is stopped, then dive onto a bag. If you don't get a bag, you're out. So grab a ruck then go to the "pit" and do the wave til everyone gets bumped. It was hilarious!


Then we were done!

What, done? But I was having fun man. It's only been about 4hrs, let's just go another 2hrs, this is the shit. Ok one more hour. Damn. 

Line up, two rows face to face. Cadre busts out the pack of patches and walks done the rows shaking each participants hand and offering a sincere word of congratulation to each of us while handing us our patch.

Look at that smile!



Three members of troop had already done 2 other events with Cadre Heath and they were issued his own personal patch. Pretty cool.

This was only my second GORUCK. I am not claiming to be a pro at this shit. There are alot of badasses out there that do these. And I've only done Lights. Although I personally do HIGHLY recommend everyone do a GORUCK, find some GORUCK vets and get their feed back. 
I can't honestly tell you when or what level GORUCK I will do next. I'll absolutely do the Myrtle Light if it comes back next year. But I really need to look into a ruck. 
Here are some more contrast pictures. Because you never know what you're going to get.
Myrtle Beach










Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines












Myrtle Beach








Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines


Myrtle Beach











Line up! Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines











Staying cool in Myrtle Beach






Staying warm, Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines











Heather enjoyed Myrtle Beach GORUCK








Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines













































On a comical (?) side note! My first ruck I mentioned, I had just started cyclocross training 2 weeks prior and had some saddle sores. No big, you get a saddle sore, you keep it clean and it goes away. BUT, if you get a saddle sore then spend 5hrs in the 50degree rain, in and out of the freezing Portaland ocean, you may end up with a thumb size abscess on your taint. Like I did. It hurt like hell, I couldn't walk and I had to have it surgically attended to. TMI?

Well a week after this GORUCK I am being treated for Lyme Disease. Ya, seriously.

These two ailments are in no way caused directly by the GORUCK, but whats going happen if I do a Tough? Leprosy?
 

Anyway. Start training and get out there and GORUCK. This link really does take you to GORUCK. I lied on the others because I can't stand country music or beastie boys.

MOG Mile Patch from Portland, Light Patch from Myrtle Beach. Now I need a Heavy?