GORUCK – Memorial Day Weekend – Light AAR

I was excited and nervous for my second GORUCK event. A light challenge in Chapel Hill over Memorial Day weekend. The theme of the event was Honor the Fallen.

A little back story on getting ready for the event.

After my last light event I realized I needed to up the intensity and frequency of rucking PT workouts and training. I was in the middle of a cycle of Pathfinder Training but had neglected the workouts in favor of the part of the challenges and the miles. I had to rush to get over half the workouts and 2 challenges done in the last few weeks to finish the program. There is a weekly recommended workout and there have been some GORUCK workouts as part of their monthly virtual challenges. I love the pathfinder program and plan on doing it for a long time, but personally i needed some more direct guidance on the workouts. After listening to an All Day Ruckoff on Heavy Drop Training and learning it was for all ability levels not just folks who wanted to do a Heavy, I reached out. HDT has 3 workouts, a care package, which is an amrap and either a run or a ruck every week. Sounded like what i was looking for to compliment Pathfinder, helping me with specific workouts. HDT was in the middle of a cycle but Bryan made an exception to let me in during the middle of the round. I got 3 weeks of workouts in before the Memorial Day Light. I felt better prepared and yet still a little nervous on what was coming our way.

To make matters more interesting, the weather has turned HOT earlier than normal. Highs in the upper 80s and low 90s all week. I reached out to my group of Pathfinder and got some great advice on tapering leading I to the event and about hydrating the week of and during the event. That advice was crucial to my success.

Event day comes and I roll up to the start point. Say hi to a few people I recognize and get everything ready. We do the admin portion and learn there won’t be a welcome party. The weight and the miles will be our main instructors of the day.

Sandbags. 3 – 80s. 5 – 60s. 4 – 40s.

1 can and 2 bladders full of water. And a team weight that the team leader carried.

We headed out and on the first evolution we just called out for “can anyone take the …..” and if you were lucky someone was ready to take your weight for a minute before you went to relieve someone else.

About 10 minutes into that first ruck I realized that the mouthpiece to my source hydration bladder had come off. I guess the good news is that they are designed to be able to be removed, so I wasn’t just leaking water, but I couldn’t drink any. One guy who had done several of these came by and reminded me to drink and I told him I couldn’t. He said he had an extra mouthpiece and he’d give it to me at the first stop we had. He was in F3, and his name is Uzi. Uzi really saved my ass and made the event bearable for me. I was going to ask the group of anyone had an extra but knowing that someone did and I’d have it in a bit was a relief. I’ll be ordering an extra or two so I can repay the favor and pay it forward sometime down the road.

After a good ways we stopped under some trees in a church yard.

We had some lessons taught by the Cadre and then had time to share stories on why we were there for Memorial Day. About half the class spoke and it was great hearing the why of so many.

Before we set off again we organized ourselves into 4 smaller teams. My team of 5 was awesome. We had a bladder, 40#, 60# and 80# sandbags. We rotated through them in a set order. I’m not sure the order was the best but we were at the front of the group, right behind the flag and helped set a good pace. That 80# bag was a monster.

I’m right behind the flag In these photos, with the 80#er. I would rotate off that onto a brief rest period before we would rotate again. I tried to keep getting fluids in as it was so hot.

We stopped again after about 4 miles, talked about what was working and what wasn’t. These are the times to get some food, go to the bathroom and refill water.

We changed team leaders and set out for the final few miles as we headed back to endex. Somewhere in the final mile to mile and a half the toll of all the coupons and the heat was catching up to me. I had to stop rotating into the 80# bag and ended up sticking with the 40 the last mile, until the Cadre stared eliminating a few coupons. I am in awe of the folks who kept rotating those monsters around and doing work. Our mission changed up the teams in the last half mile and we had less coupons. The team work and communication was still required because a lot of us were slowing down a bit.

One thing I noticed in the third evolution, was the front group and the flag had to be called to slow down many times. The back of the group was moving a touch slower and the group was splitting. That’s not something that is allowed. I think it would be interesting to take a few of the people that were slower and get them up front behind the flag. It might help give them some confidence in not falling behind and they might surprise themselves by going faster with other GRTs on your heels.

We rolled back into the park where we endexed. The class was roughly half men and half women and let me be the first to tell you, that everyone did amazing. Every person on our team that day carried some heavy stuff and just about everyone had the 80 on their back for a while.

Another thing I noticed out in the middle that it might be a good suggestion to rotate people in and out of the flag position because while they have a lot on their shoulders for pace setting the flag is usually lighter than other coupons and if they don’t also have a team weight it might be a way to keep some other folks fresh longer.

Cadre Blackdog and Cadre Doc spoke a little. Chris (aka Blackdog) said he wanted to see about a non welcome party event where the coupons and the miles did the work. I thought they did a great job with the event. The lessons in team work and communication were good and everyone got a heck of a workout.

Class Photo
I made it! You really do have to earn these patches.
Lou!
Uzi! The man, the myth, the Legend!
Mike – aka The year of the GORUCK

Corey! -Love this dude

That was one hot event. We covered nearly 7 miles with a lot of heavy items and had to really work together to keep moving forward.

It’s amazing at how different events can be. This is only my second and I’m looking forward to more in the future. Every Cadre has a rough outline of time to go by but can run the events as they see fit. Not knowing what you’re getting while you are there is a way to really get outside your comfort zone. I want to keep working to improve my fitness and endurance so one day I’m the guy who is still grabbing the heaviest item at the end to help out someone else.

Is GORUCK really building better Americans. It seems that way. The people that come out for this are already great people but getting some real world team work, leadership and communication training only makes people better. Better members of their families, work teams and communities. That’s pretty amazing.

GORUCK Constellation Changes for 2020

Cadre Machine was on the GORUCK show with Bomber and Lee today and gave a lot of details about the new constellation events. I’ve heard they were changing but hadn’t heard much else about them until today. If you are a member of the Tough our check out the interview. Below are a few notes i jotted down while watching.

If you are interested in more of the firearms training that GORUCK does check out the All Day Ruckoff podcast episode 41.

Some highlights of the Constellation changes:

Taking the parts of Jedburgh and Trek that were awesome and Incorporating them into constellation.

There will be 4 survival type courses.

  1. Constellation
  2. Navigator
  3. Ascent
  4. Immersion

Beta testing is happening in Miami or Fort Lauderdale later this fall, and also in Texas this fall.

Some of the events will be on the calendar in time for the Christmas in July sale.

Machine said that there would be 12, twenty four hour events. One a month happening all over.

He went on to say that constellation would also have 12 hour events that would run 8am – 8pm. (Maybe 15 hours if that’s what it takes to get the material in.)

I’m guessing those will be the normal version and that there will be more access to those than the 24 hour version.

Many of them will be done in conjunction with (Fire Rescue?)

And many will have a Force on Force event the next day from 8-5.

He said “this is going to be badass”, we will be repelling, getting CS gas training, hot working cars, locking picking, “all kinds of cool shit”.

I am very excited about the 2020 Constellation events. I did the 6 hour course this year and really wish I would have signed up for the 12. I wanted to learn more. 6 hours was great but it wasn’t enough time. The new curriculum sounds amazing.

Bitcoin Pizza Day & GORUCK

Pizza Patch

Bitcoin Pizza Day. Wait, that’s a thing?

It’s funny how you learn about things sometimes. I’d heard of bitcoin. I’d read a few articles about it a few years ago but hadn’t thought much about it since.

I saw a photo of the above patch on twitter a few months ago and was blown away at how cool it looked.

To learn about how this patch came to be and a little bit of background on Bitcoin Pizza Day read this GORUCK blog post.

Then if you want to see a twitter account that tells you what the worth of this pizza in today’s value is go here. @bitcoin_pizza

So, I decided I’d figure out how this worked. Ruck My Life on Twitter gave me a little info and then I headed off to Coinbase to make an investment. After a few weeks I was ready to be able to spend those bitcoins I purchased. The Padded Hip Belt from GORUCK is what I bought and man has it been a game changer for some longer rucks and ruck pt.

Bonus, I got this sweet patch. Win. Win.

I have no idea how long these patches will be around. I got mine in April 2019.

 

GORUCK May Challenge – Honoring Service

This month the virtual GORUCK challenge is 5 workouts in appreciation of those who serve.

Teachers. Firefighters. Police. EMS. Military.

I started with the teacher workout. With my beautiful wife being a teacher, it was a no brainer to start with this one.

The plank hold was probably the hardest part of this one. Lunges got challenging. Miles added up since I did a Heavy Drop workout immediately prior to doing this.

Next up was the Fire Workout. Hands down 100m of Bear Crawling was the hardest part of this one. I’m glad they were in there because it was great practice.

Knocked out the EMS one as the third one. It was the shortest one of the month. Did it before a CrossFit class. It went well.

The Leo Workout wasn’t the longest one but was probably the most challenging one for me. I did it after a long day of work, then a few hours of yardwork. It was on the schedule and I was determined to do it so it was done on the treadmill. I’m thankful we have it but I really don’t enjoy rucking on it anywhere near as much as I do outside. Push ups and Sit Ups were not with a ruck to simulate the APFT.

Second time I’ve done 12 miles. It was a little quicker than the last one but was still a grind. After 2 miles I knew that it was going to feel like a long haul. I’m glad I took my older shoes out because wearing the newer Cascadia’s I would have DNF’d. They were hurting my feet and killing my calves. Switch to the old Adrenalines and things were fine for the rest of the miles.

12 miles for this and a Pathfinder Training Challenge! With a Light this weekend, I wanted to get this done so it wouldn’t have to be on one of the last few days of the month. I probably won’t do 12 again until the 12 mile Star Course in Charlotte on June 22nd.

May GORUCK Challenge is complete.

I’m ready to see what June will bring.

Java GR2

I was looking for the right pack for Rucking. I knew it was a GORUCK pack but wasn’t sure which one.

I went back and forth over whether to get the Rucker or the GR1. Ultimately 2 things led me to the Rucker.

  1. It costs way less. These packs aren’t cheap. But they are built in the USA and guaranteed for life.
  2. The GORUCK website told me which pack to get. Need to protect a laptop, get the GR1. If you don’t, get the Rucker.

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After I got my all black Rucker in I noticed there was a beautiful dark brown color on the GORUCK website. And the color name was Java. What!? I love coffee. Java. It was perfect. I reached out to a few people and asked how dirty the pack might get at an event and what they thought about black vs java. Both of them suggested that for events, the black is a good safe bet. I agreed with them and went on about my day.

Now that I had my hands on my Rucker, I knew how solid it was. I love it. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the Java pack. GORUCK also had their larger pack, the GR2 which comes in a 40L version in Java. I did a little more digging around on the site and found out that the color name was in homage to Jason’s (the Founder and CEO of GORUCK) late chocolate lab, Java. Java had been in many of the product shoots and was being remembered with this color name. We had lost our beautiful dog Trixie not a month prior to this and now it just seemed like the perfect storm leading me to this bag.

Here is the story behind Java Forever.

https://www.goruck.com/stories/the-dog-behind-our-java-rucks

I love GORUCK products. I love made in the USA products. I love lifetime guaranteed products. I love Java (coffee), and I love and miss our dog.

I had a Reebok CrossFit 41L backpack that was my gym bag and it was great. One large compartment. Velcro on the front and sides for patches, laptop compartment, etc. But I couldn’t get this out of my head. Those Reebok bags go for a good price on Ebay. I sold it and then pulled the trigger on the GR2 during the holiday sale.

This pack is beautiful. It’s well made. Has more compartments that my last bag and it will be a great travel bag. Is it overkill for a gym bag? Yes. Does it make me happy every day I pick it up and take it with me? Also, yes. And that, my friends, makes it worth it. Java lives on in the name and having it, right now, makes me smile and reminisce about Trixie.

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I’m looking forward to having a GORUCK event patch to put on this bag in April.

To be fair, the more I think about it, the less I think I’ll care if a pack gets dirty etc, during the events. Event tested with any scrapes etc they will get. I might end up with another color sometime and at that time I’ll have a nice black bag we can put some bricks in as I start to recruit some friends to join me on this crazy journey.

 

Intro to My Rucking

Rucking.

 

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What it is. How I found it. And maybe the most important, why am I doing it?

What it is:

Rucking is carrying a weighted pack on your back. It implies action, energy, and purpose.

Rucking is the foundation of Special Forces training. Green Berets are well versed in shouldering heavy rucks through cities, mountains, jungles and deserts, in war and in peace — alone when they must, together whenever possible. Rucking requires strength, endurance, and character — and builds it, too.

Note: Hiking is rucking in the mountains, urban hiking is simply called rucking. Rucking can be done at any weight.

All that was taking from the GORUCK site for What is Rucking. If you’d like to watch a 2 minute video on what is rucking click here.

 

How I found it:

I’ve known about GORUCK for a while. I had some folks I knew from my old gym do an event, but I honestly didn’t give it much thought. Then, in the summer of 2018 Chris Spealler launched a program called Grunt Work. We had done some Grunt Work through ICON athelete at the gym and it included sled pushes and pulls, farmer and other carries etc. It’s a great workout that is often low impact on the body. Don’t mistake that for easy. I signed up for Gruntwork and try to put a workout like that in with my regular training every once in a while. The program called for a ruck once or twice a week. What’s a ruck, it’s putting some weight on your back and going for a walk. Simple. Effective.

Then, in September they partnered with GORUCK. Log 4 rucks in Strava and one person will win a GORUCK pack (backpack that is basically bombproof) and a weight plate and some other gear. So I jumped on it. Did my first 4 rucks due to this challenge. One was in Denver, and I’d taken a cheap Jansport bookbag and “borrowed’ some dumbbells from the hotel. I rucked down a coffee shop and back. Around 2 and a half miles. About halfway I worried about, what would happen if the backpack breaks and I have to get these 3 dumbbells back to the hotel while trying to carry a coffee.

I didn’t win the ruck, but during that time I had been investigating the GORUCK site more and more.

You need to know that there is a difference between rucking for fitness (there are a ton of fitness benefits) and doing a GORUCK event. The event contains rucking but also comes with huge lessons in leadership. It’s run by former or current special forces members from our armed forces. There is PT with your ruck; like push ups, squats, bear crawls etc. At these events you and your team will carry logs, and other objects. You’ll learn to work as a team. And unless you quit, you’ll come out on the other side with a sense of pride, lessons in leadership, a great workout and you’ll earn a patch. The patches are always earned, never sold. All those lessons are what I’ve read about and been told. I have yet to do an event, but that will change on 4.7.19 in Charlotte, NC.

After Finding it:

I researched the GORUCK packs over and over again. They are built in the USA and have a lifetime guarantee. If something happens to it, they’ll fix it or replace it. But they aren’t cheap. That’s for sure. I waited for the Veterans Day sale and pounced on the Rucker. It’s cheaper than the GR1 (the staple of the line, the first pack made) and even the website says if you aren’t going to be carrying a laptop, get the Rucker. I had a bag I use for travel that has a laptop area and this was just to ruck with. So, I grabbed the Rucker and a little while later got the 20# GORUCK plate to go in it. I won’t be rucking with my weight vest anymore.

Rucker: https://www.goruck.com/rucker/

Why I am Rucking:

I really enjoyed the rucking we did in the Gruntwork Challenge.

I love the exercise benefits of it and the change of pace you get with adding it to CrossFit. I’m may do a post with all sorts of links of the benefits of rucking.

I miss the endurance aspect of cycling. I won’t say running because I never really loved that. But I did like the running events you could do and be a part of.

I love the fact that GORUCK has different events. Not only do they have Light (5ish hours) avg completion rate 100%, Tough (12 hours) with an average completion rate of 94% & Heavy (24 Hours) with an average completion rate of 50%. You can get real crazy and do all 3 in succession for an HTL with just a few hours between events. There’s also Selection, which appears to be like the CrossFit Games of GORUCK.

Each of those type events is different or seems to have a theme.

Memorial Day, 4th of July, Veterans Day, etc. And some are based on famous battles in History; D-Day, Battle of Baghdad, Battan (https://www.goruck.com/event-14107/) which I’m doing, and more.

GORUCK 4.7

GORUCK5.25

One of my Professional Development goals for 2018 was to read more books and get a few new leadership books under my belt. I read a few good ones, but so many just get repetitive. You could boil over half the leadership books out there down to the fact that you need to communicate with all types of people and in different situations. GORUCK is going to be a real-life communication book. You have a leader, pushing you and a team to accomplish tasks that you are going to have to communicate to do.

This is from the GORUCK webiste: Note: Your Cadre will lead the class, teaching team-building and leadership lessons based on his time in Special Operations.

This is outside of my comfort zone. That’s another reason I think this is going to be a valuable experience for me. And there is an amazing community of GRTs(GORUCK Tough people, apparently you can be a GRT by finishing a Light, which is a little confusing, I digress). The community of people I’ve already interacted with, read articles from, got training advice from, etc is inspiring. I think it’s safe to say that community’s of rad people doing cool shit is a huge similarity between CrossFit and GORUCK.

I’m going to train and exercise (win), add this to my professional development (win), get real life lessons from special forces trained teachers (win), meet awesome people (win) and earn a damn cool patch (win). That seems like a lot of wins.

Currently I’m enjoying the training. I really hope I enjoy the events and they are something I can do a few of each year. They seem amazing.

I think my twitter is going to turn into my training and exercise social media outlet. So if you care to follow along, outside this blog, feel free to head over to twitter and look up @dhill37.