Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Green Beret Challenge : Behind Enemy Lines - Urban Assault

HOW I GOT INTO THIS CRAZY EVENT:

A few factors came together that piqued my interest, and it soon became clear that this was the perfect event for my next step.
  • I had done GORUCK Constellation, which I enjoyed because of the skills that we learned and practiced.  
  • I had seen a facebook friend's pictures of a past GBC BEL event, where they were doing stuff with guns, and it was intriguing.  
  • I read more about GBC BEL, and saw that it had many of the teaching elements of Constellation, if you survived a PT test and team activities like Selection.  
  • Another facebook friend had done a GBC Operators obstacle course event at the Guardian Center in Perry, GA, which has a mock city, complete with a fake subway, flooded neighborhood, earthquake rubble, highway simulator, car crashes, etc, where first responders go to train.  It looked like such a cool venue.  
  • Plus, after getting through HH12HR and a GORUCK Tough, I wanted to see how I'd fare with a 24 hr event.  
So... cool stuff we get to do + venue + 24 hour challenge.

TRAINING STRATEGY:

I signed up about 2 months before the event.  That would give me some time to prep for the PT test.  The test format may slightly vary from event to event, but you could probably count on a few key exercises being there.


There are published minimums for official UBRR standards, but we were told to do our best, and not necessarily settle for the minimums.  With the real test, if you don't meet a minimum, you fail, so I worked on my biggest weaknesses where I might not meet the minimum.  That meant trying to get in more push-ups and pull-ups than I used to do.  I'd throw them into the mix more often.  I did see some improvements in pull-ups... not even close to where I need to be, but it was nice to see efforts pay off.  My push-ups didn't improve much, though... even after doing the 10,000 burpee in 100 day challenge, which is a little confounding, but it may just mean that I need to work harder.

During my weekly strength sessions, I started doing exercises with the same 1 min AMRAP format, too.  I do some of these exercises as part of my routine anyway, but I'd typically focus on pure number, as opposed to number within a limited time frame.  Although sit-ups would be one of my stronger points, I had to get used to forcing speed.  

TRAINING IN THE 2 WEEKS LEADING UP:

Monday, Jun 19:

9.0 miles in 1:14:05, 8:13 average, 2 degrees of incline.  I hadn't run in the past week, aside from the 6K race, so my legs were fresh enough for it.
Wednesday, Jun 21:

45 min Strength session:
  • Sit-ups/1 min: 40 + 38 + 38 = 116
  • Push-ups/1 min: 33 + 27 + 25 = 85
  • Flutter Kicks (4-count): 45 + 55 + 35 = 135
  • Lunges: 115
  • Plank: 3 + 2.5 = 5.5 min
  • Squats: 100 + 85 = 185
  • Mt Climbers: 100
  • Jumping Jacks: 75
  • Assorted dumbells
  • 1 set of pull-ups and 1 set of toes to bars
Saturday, Jun 24:

I didn't work out on Friday, in order to save it for Saturday.  On Saturday, instead of a run, I did some rucking while geocaching, though.  2 birds with 1 stone.  Maybe 3 birds... I had bought some used BDUs from Amazon, plus some boots from REI, so I got to test the gear and figure out if any of it would give me issues.






The geocaching was great.  I had gone to Latta Plantation with my dad a few weeks prior, for some rucking, but I didn't realize how many geocaches there were.  I ended up with 15.  The BDU pants and the boots ended up working really well.  I did have to tie the laces repeatedly, to keep them tight, but it's better to find that out now, to be prepared for it during the event.  Both helped to keep me dry when I bushwhacked through dewy brush when I was looking for the caches.  They fit well, too.  

Afterwards, I went to NODA Brewing to pick up my prizes from the Brew Dash 6K... excellent Boba Brett wild ale, a trucker hat, a 4-pack, and a brewery tour.  A satisfying day.




Sunday, Jun 25:
The next day, the Whitewater Center's trails were [still] closed, because of recent rains, so I went back out to Latta Plantation.  I decided to make it a goal to run as much of the trail system as I could.  I ended up doing all but one trail, covering 15.4 mi in 2:26:44, 9:30 average (including stops for re-tying laces 3x, and giving someone directions).  The one trail that I skipped was only 1 mile long, too, but it had been on the early part of my journey, and I avoided it because last time when I was there with my dad, there were lots of mosquitos.  Oh well... it will give me a target for next time, to do the full thing.  

It was a fantastic trail system.  It was wide, pretty flat, and non-technical, for the most part.  I can see myself using this for marathon training later on.  I used the Whitewater Center for my last training cycle, but I had to be selective about the trails there, since most of those are hilly and more technical.  
Work had been tough this week, with so much to do.  It's been overwhelming at times.  It was a good weekend to celebrate getting through it.

Monday, Jun 26:

I didn't end up doing a formal workout, but at 9pm, a neighbor posted on facebook that she had extra cucumbers from her garden that she was giving away.  I decided to ruck/run it.  The running part was because I had only 15 minutes until Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge was going to air on TV, and even though I was DVRing it all, I didn't want to miss seeing it as it aired.  It ended up being 2.2 miles round trip.  I normally don't train rucking for speed, so it was good to get a little practice on this, too, before BEL, since that was a component on the PT test.  That would be 4 miles, but I felt comfortable that I could do 4 miles fast enough.  

Since the madness would start at 7pm on Friday, I tapered for the rest of the week.

THE DRIVE DOWN:

I took Friday off of work, so that I could do the 5 hr drive down to Perry, GA, and get a nap in before the 24 hr event.  If I hadn't gotten a nap, then it would've really been 24 + 10 hours with no sleep.  I stopped at Ocmulgee National Monument on the way down, since I love national parks and other national park service places.  They had Indian mounds there.

It was another 30 minutes down to the Guardian Center, where I unloaded my stuff at our base camp.  I met our designated Class Leader, Lance, and a few others who started coming in. After unloading, I parked my car and rested up for an hour or two.

When the time neared, I made my way back to the admin building, to do final prep for Phase 1.  I got my roster number on, filled my sandbag, got my ruck ready, etc.  There would be 22 in the class, with 1/3 being women.  It had been interesting to see on Facebook in the weeks leading up, which other crazy people had decided to sign up for this. 

PHASE 1:

For the PT test, we took turns doing push-ups, sit-ups, a shuttle run including heavy carries and a sled drag, a rope climb, a 4-mi run, and a 4-mi ruck.  In the tests, it was all about you pushing yourself to do your best.  In life, most of the work and growth happens when people aren't watching.  Who are you and how do you push yourself in those times?  I suspect that the people who put down the money to do this event, and felt up to the challenge weren't going to be the type to phone it in, though.  Sit-ups went well, I did my best with the push-ups, I wasn't very fluid up the rope and struggle bused it a bit with getting my feet right but got up it, I felt strong on the run but came in second girl to someone who was not only super beastingly fit but also clearly fast, and enjoyed the night ruck run.




Then, a group march, then carrying heavy things.  Team dynamics were tested, as we figured out our strategies, how to allocate people to items, share the burden, etc.  Different people had opportunities to be team leaders during various sections.  The mosquitos there were freaks of nature - 4x the size of normal ones.  We also built a raft for our rucks and swam across a 0.15mi (240m) lake.  That was really cool to do in the dark, moving along with just our heads above the water, with headlamps and glowsticks on.  The swim felt good after that heavy stuff, and it offered some relief from the bugs.



I physically and mentally rested when I could, and cherished the 1 hr that I had to sleep.


PHASE 2:

We got to learn a bunch of cool stuff from experienced Green Berets.  I'm glad that there was nearly no overlap with stuff that I had learned during Constellation.  We learned [a taste of] restraint escape, movement between buildings, clearing buildings, rappelling, and building scaling.







The Green Berets are of course physical machines, highly skilled operators, with the experience to back everything up.  But they were also awesome at teaching, and set up a great environment for us to learn, try, make mistakes, be coached, and improve.  

PHASE 3:

I don't want to spoil the fun, so I'll just say that this was epic.  We got to put what we learned in phase 2, and the team dynamics that we built in phase 1, to use in a mission.  We had 2 teams working together to complete an evolving mission.  So much more and so much better than any event I've encountered before, a thousand times over.  Like my jaw dropped at some of the surprises along the way.  It was crazy exciting.  





24 hours felt too short.  

TIPS:
  • You'll really appreciate bringing extra changes of clothes, between each sweat / dirt / waterfest.
  • Rest when you can.  My OCR bucket was nice to keep stuff in, and to set on.
  • Eat and drink.  It's 24 hours.  Stay on top of things.  You'll appreciate having real food.
  • Help each other out.  You're a team, and it makes all the difference.
  • You get out of it what you put in into it, with the work during the event, and the work before the event.

SUMMARY:

This was an incredible event... everything cool about GORUCK, Constellation, and Hurricane Heats, but with stakes raised and the epic factor multiplied by ten. I got to try and learn some things I never thought I'd do - challenging and thrilling. I was glad to have experienced it with such awesome people. 

The Cadre taught not only with words, but also with actions. Their experience, knowledge, and teaching ability were second to none, but we learned just as much from how they interacted with each other and poured 110% into everything they did to make sure we got the most out of the event. They created a great atmosphere to try, makes mistakes, learn, and improve.

 Mad respect to our Class Leader and Phase 3 Team Leaders Lance, Rachel, and Deborah. They proved themselves and earned our trust and admiration in the first phases of the event. They gave us the direction that we needed to succeed, and were also willing to jump in and help shoulder the burden without hesitation.

Finaly, the team made it the experience that it was. Some moments designed to test you can be tough, and like with most events like this, there are times when you wonder why you're putting yourself through yet another sufferfest. But the encouraging words from Rosie, Ericka, and Alissa, or the inevitable laughs that come from Miguel being Miguel 😜, bring light to any dark situation.

I learned from each person on the team, and I sincerely hope that I'll get to participate in another BEL event with you all in the future. Thanks for the adventure!

I'm really inspired by the people I got to work with there, and want to start training now for the next one!  Time to up my game!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

RACE REPORT: Brew Dash 5K 2017

TRAINING IN THE 2 WEEKS BEFORE THE RACE:

Sunday, Jun 4:
Run on a gravel trail, 7.6 mi in 1:10:18, 9:15 average.  Nose breathed it the whole time, not intending to, at first, but the pace was easy cardiovascularly.  Legs weren't in the mood for a treadmill run, which would be more jarring, so this was just what I needed.  Afterwards, I hit the obstacle course at the whitewater center, doing just a little to get my arms more conditioned for it.  Then, I went on a walk around the man-made water course, doing sets of push-ups (30, 20, 20, 15) along the way.  It was a good combo workout of running and some upper body, for Green Beret Challenge Behind Enemy Lines (GBC BEL) & OCRWC.  Otherwise, in bed most of the day.  The workout and movement makes me feel better.

Tuesday, Jun 6:
35 min strength session... they tend to be half as long these days, maybe because of the types of exercises that I'm doing.
  • Sit-ups AMRAP in 1 min: 38, 40, 40 = 118
  • Push-ups AMRAP in 1 min: 30, 25 = 55
  • Plank: 2.5, 2.5 = 5
  • Squats: 100, 100 = 200
  • Pull-up and hangs: 6 pullups, 10 toe touch
  • Flutter kicks (4-count): 60
  • Mt Climbers: 100
  • Assorted dumbell exercises
Wednesday, Jun 7:
6.0 in 49:33, 8:16 ave, 2 degrees of incline.  Did this on tired legs.  Paid for it a little.  Outer right knee complained a little bit mid-run, left achilles felt pulled afterwards but not during.  I guess it's good that I usually listen to my body and don't run on tired legs.

Friday, Jun 9:
 The GBC will involve rucking.  I felt like I needed at least one rucking workout (not just hiking, but an incline workout) as, at the very least, a confidence booster.  I took my ruck to the gym at work.  It was heavy hauling that in by hand!  I didn't want to put it on my back, and dirty up my work clothes.

The workout:
3 x
[1/2 mi @ 5* incline, @ 4mph (15:00 pace), 1/2 mi @ 7.5* incline, 4mph (15:00 pace),
1/2 mi @ 5* incline, @ 4mph (15:00 pace), 1/2 mi @ 5* incline, @ 5mph (12:00 pace)]
a good, doable mix of incline, some speed, and recovery.  I like it!  Afterwards, met up with a former colleague for BBQ and catching up!

Total, 6.0 mi in 85 min.

Saturday, got my oil changed.  Did a bit of geocaching while waiting.

Sunday, Jun 11:
Explored some new-to-me trails at the Whitewater center, since I cared more about time on my feet and general conditioning, than hitting a particular mileage or time goal.  It was nice to mix it up and discover some cool little trails off the main trails.  My favorite was one called the "Toilet Bowl", which may be named because you start at the top of a ridge and kind of circle down into a valley... and there's actually an old literal toilet bowl somewhere along the trail, too!  It was fun.  The run went better than expected.  8.1 in 1:26:42, 10:42 ave.

Monday, Jun 12:
Running might've been doable, but would've been a little risky, given last week's results when I tried to run on legs that weren't fully recovered.  I could either bike or row.  I decided to go for rowing, since it would help a bit with grip strength and pull-up ability, too.  It was a great choice - whole body cardio.  I went hard, trying to make it 5K in under 25:00, when I saw that my initial 1K split was good.  I pushed hard, and made it in 24:33, 7:55 ave - very comparable to a reasonable 5K run pace!  I ended up besting my previous 5K Concept 2 Rowing time by over 3 minutes!  The next day, though, my right back was tight, and my left foot was a bit fractury.

Tuesday, Jun 13:
60 min bike session.  30 pushups afterwards.  Covered 13.4 miles.  Went at level 13, instead of 12, for the first time.

Then, tapering.

Thursday, we did go to the Whitewater Center for River Jam's concerts, and for watching all of the cool activities they offer there.





THE RACE:

My parents came to visit, which was great.  I dragged them out to the Whitewater center early in the morning, since I like to get there early.  I had gotten 2nd last year, and was hoping to do something similar this year.  I felt like I'd be in better shape this year.  The start was at a nice pavilion, with music going.  They had separate races for a competitive timed run vs. the fun run, so the people out here in the early morning were out to race hard.  It was a little warm.  Like at Noda, there was one girl doing extended warm-ups... usually a sign of an elite runner.  I'd get tired just from their warm-up.  I did my usual 2-min warmup and dynamic stretching with 15 minutes to go.



We were off... I went out fairly hard, because at trail races, you don't want to get locked into a spot by too many people.  I was battling 2nd and 3rd in the first mile.  We'd take turns passing each other.  Fortunately, the trail they picked is pretty wide, so passing is possible.  I took 2nd by mile 1.5, I think, and I had to keep it going.  I was afraid for a time that I'd blow up, a little like I did at Rugged Maniac NC, when I felt like I had something to prove and went hard early on.  I held on pretty well, though, settling in behind a line of three guys for about the last mile, then kicking it in, up the uphill finish.


After finishing, we cheered on the other runners.  My mom's an excellent cheerer.



My dad makes an effort... he is more of a photographer.


They didn't really have overall prizes, but they had age group prizes, which was good.  First place did get the Brew Dash version of a champagne shower - a Noda Beer shower.  1st finished several minutes ahead of me, so I probably don't have much of a chance.  The prizes are great, as usual... Noda 4-pack, a pint at the brewery, and a hat.   


Afterwards, the beer festival!  $6 for 4x4oz tasters to some great local breweries who have swag, too.




Sunday, June 4, 2017

RACE REPORT: Noda 5K

TRAINING WEEK:

Shorter week, due to the Memorial Day long weekend.

Tuesday, May 30:
6.0 in 48:23, 8:04 ave.  This was a recovery run for me.  My right side was sore and tight from volunteering on Sunday.  One of our tasks during Course Build was to move sandbags (one of the obstacles) to the designated part of the course.  We did two trips of 3x20lbs, about 0.3 mi per trip.  I was bucket brigading it, shouldering it, deathgripping it to make it.  Anyway, I needed this run to help reset my body's imbalances.  At first, I figured that I'd do maybe 4 miles, but I got to 6 ok.  I could've pushed farther, but I didn't want to overdo it for Noda.

Wednesday, May 31:
For an A-race like a marathon, I do strength sessions no closer than 10 days to the race.  I decided to do one on the Wednesday before a Saturday race, though, because I needed to keep up on Green Beret 24 hr Challenge training.  Furthermore, when I had looked up last year's Noda 5K results, it looked liked my typical times may only get me 3rd in Age Group, at best.  They had stiff competition attending.

I did more Deez Nutz WOD exercises.  I thought that I'd be getting stronger, but I kind of stay at the same level.
  • Situps (in 1 min, hands behind head): 31, 34, 32, 36, 36... target is 40.
  • Lunges: 135
  • Flutter Kicks (4-count): 60 + 45 + 45
  • Plank: 2.5 + 2
  • Push-ups (in 1 min): 30, 25... target is 40
  • Squats: 130
  • J-jacks (4-count): 100
  • Assorted dumbbell exercises (10lb)
On Friday, my hammies and some of my glutes were really sore.  I'm surprised.   I thought my body would be used to the squats.

THE RACE:

This was my first Noda 5K, although I had been to this facility before, to pick up last year's prize from the USNWC Brew Stash Dash.  I was looking forward to a good beer run.  It was hot, fully sunny and 86 degrees.  Parking was limited, so I came early, although it meant finding ways of dealing with the heat while waiting.  I was inside for a while, and iced off, which helped for a while, but during the warm-up time, I feel like I went back to being really warm.

I started pretty close to the front, along with one other girl who had been doing a long warm-up earlier (I did just my typical 2-min jog, then dynamic stretching).  I was determined to pace smartly this time, vs. how I did at Rugged Maniac, where I faded after 1.5 mi.  It was already hot and uncomforatble, even just sitting around.  It would be downright painful to bonk during an over-exerted 5K.  We went out... nobody went to crazy, which is good.  We were respecting the heat.  I was surprised to be in 2nd for the women early on.  I wasn't going overly fast.  Not too long after, another woman caught up and passed, so I was in third.  Mile 1 came in 7:02, reasonable.

We went through residential areas.  It was nice to see some great views of downtown.  My feelings on living in downtown vs. outlying areas is that the outlying areas give you the awesome views of downtown... seeing the beautiful forest, vs. being amidst the trees.  So I thought that the place where the race was held was awesome, because of that.  There were a couple of stretches of road that offered the great view.  There were some trees every now and then, which offered much-needed shade.  Wished there was more, but you appreciate any shade you can get.  Volunteers were great.  There were water stops at 1.5 and 2.5.  Mile 2 ticked off at 6:53.  There were some rolling hills, so I didn't take it as necessarily going faster.

I debated whether to slow down a tiny bit to get water at 2.5.  2nd place was still in view.  It was better to get the extra cooling and mental help of the water, to have enough for the final push, though.  I kept the effort pedal on.  I was very, very slowly reeling in 2nd.  It wasn't until the final 0.3 miles that I started really gaining, though.  Mile 3 went down in 6:37.  I had truly been speeding up.  It wasn't enough, though, and I finished 7s behind her.  She had paced well in the heat, and she was 10 years older than I was, so her 2nd place finish was well-deserved.

21:46 in 7:01.  About a minute slower than my usual time, but given the heat, I'm happy with it.  I was glad that I had paced it well, and finished feeling less pain than usual.  I did wonder if I could've started kicking earlier, to make up the 7s, but at least I got 3rd.


The swag at this race is maybe the best I've seen for a 5K, especially a 5K that was only $30-ish for registration.  They offered ladies and mens tanks or tees, which are choices you don't normally get.  They looked cool.  Plus, there were awesome medals... my first beer-related medal.  You got a beer.  There was also a sponsor offering free printed pics.


One thing that I was really excited about was that my race number was none other than.... 360!


After the race, Noda had live music, and their outdoor beer garden has boccee, disc golf, and corn hole.  A fun place to hang out.  Everyone was having a great time.

 



Geowoodstock XV, Tour de Fat, Memorial day, Spartan Kids

First, non-Geowoodstock stuff...

Sunday, May 21:
After qualifying for OCR World Championships the previous day (being able to say that will never get old, haha), it was time to start long-term prepping for the October race, and it was time to get serious about the impending Green Beret 24 hour Challenge : Behind Enemy Lines (GBC BEL) that I was going to do in late June.  After taking into account 10 weeks of strength taper, I'd only have a few weeks of training time available.

I did a 40-min body weight strength session, continuing with some of the Deez Nutz WOD exercises.  I did the GBC-relevant exercises in the style of the selection test that they'd be giving, to assess how I'd fare.
  • Sit-ups: 38 in a minute and 70 in 2 minutes but with hands on shoulders instead of head, 40/min with hands behind head, 38/min, 38/min.  The target is 40, hands behind head.
  • Push-ups: 35/min starting really fast then really fading, 27/min, 25/min, 22/min.
  • Flutter Kicks (4-count): 40 + 40 + 35 + 35
  • Plank: 2.5 + 2.5 + 2
  • Squats: 90, with legs not 100% integrity.  100 more with 7lb kettle bell raises in alternating arms. 
  • J-jacks (4-count): 100
  • Assorted dumbell arm exercises
 Monday, May 22:
10 mi in 1:23:15, 8:20 average.  I discovered today that the treadmills at work's gym has a function that lets you change the default 60 min workout timer to up to 120 minutes.  Yay, I'm no longer constrained!  Of course I could've done 2x 60 min sessions, but after stopping, it's hard to get my legs feeling ok starting again.  I celebrated this discovery with the 10 miler.  I was feeling awesome afterwards, and felt like I could handle a long-ish run like this multiple times per week.... not really true, but it felt like it at the time.  It was a little less than 2 weeks out from the Noda 5K, so this was a good time to get in a last long-ish run.

Wednesday, May 24:
Biking session at the gym, covering 13.6 mi in 60 min, after an 11 hr workday.  Celebrated getting a long-awaited task done at last.  Going to the gym has become a post-work treat that I look forward to.  I did some burpees afterwards.  I think it's the first time I've done them since finishing the 10,000 burpee challenge.  I threw in extra pushups in the last 10 reps, about 15 extra total.  Also did a bit of pull-ups, since I'll need that for GBC.  Did 20 and 10 more push-ups after that, too.

My dad was visiting for the long Memorial day weekend.  On Friday, we went to a local park - Latta Plantation.  We hiked the Cattail Trail (0.8 mi), half of the Audobon Trail (~1.2 mi), an unnamed horse trail (1 mi), and parts of the Treasure Tree, Catawba, and Shady Trails (2 mi).  It was by the water and pretty.  Some mosquitos.  Got a geocache while I was there.  I rucked it, to prep for GBC.  I used to go to the gym in my neighborhood and would ruck the 1 / 1.4 / 1.8 mi that it takes to get there and back (with optional side trips for a Pokestop).  I've been going to the gym at work these days, though, so I haven't rucked as much.  I need to start getting my body used to it again.




Saturday was Geowoodstock day in Waynesville, NC, near Asheville.  We wanted to make the most of our day there, but I had also won tickets to Tour de Fat sponsored by New Belgium, back in Charlotte.  So... we left Charlotte at 4am, to go hiking at Purchase Knob Trail, a part of Great Smokey Mountains National Park, before the start of Geowoodstock.  It's a service road up to an education/training center.  It was pretty in its own way, despite being a service road, with a bit of water features, some wildflowers, and nice views from the top.


Once we got back to the car, time for Geowoodstock!  Last year, my dad and I had flown all the way to Denver for my first Geowoodstock (GW14).  At the end of last year's event, they announced that the following year's GW would be within driving distance of me!  Denver's event had been awesome.  Fantastic planning, side-events, and SWAG.  I was curious how this would stack up.

We got there just 15 minutes after opening, perfect.  We registered, found Signal the frog, and signed the log for the event, a VW Beetle.





In the morning, they had the annual picture... so many ardent geocachers!  People traveled here from all over the US, and some even from other countries.  A bunch of crazies together ;)  Over 2K people attended.  Not everyone is even pictured here, since some come later in the day, or were still at the main event area at the time.


We visited vendors, where I got 3 National Park-related geocoins.  There was an exhibit where someone showed off some of their gadget cache designs.  There weren't any geocaches on site like they had last year, but they did had lab caches, which are temporary caches where you get a code word to plug into a website to get credit for a geocache.  They were all gadgety, which was cool.  The funny thing about geocaches at mega events is that there are always lines of people behind the cache, so there's no real "finding" required... so the gadget element gives you a good incentive to stay in line to be able to try it for yourself, even if some of the element of surprise is missing.  It's a good strategy.



I saw the Geocaching Vlogger there, filming for a youtube video:


He does great videos, is really enthusiastic, and spreads the word about geocaching.




We also traded trackables.  You get to pick up as many as you drop off, so thankfully, I still had the Casino chip trackable that I had found in Charleston, SC.  I traded it for a mini cookbook from Hungary!


They had trackables that were put on display for discovery.  They're typically gigantic ones that can really only be traded at events, and not placed in geocaches.





There were also a couple of Geocaching-related games... one where you try to ID mystery containers by sticking your hand in a box, and another where you sort through a bunch of film canisters to look for one that contains a log sheet, rather than a fake sheet.



Our time there ended with lunch, since we wanted to get back to Charlotte.  They had BBQ, which is my favorite.  Fun times at GW15!


Onwards to Charlotte... I did grab a true geocache at a park-and-ride on our way back.


Tour de Fat probably didn't have as many people attend as they had hoped, but it was great.  They had jumbo games, circus acts, live music, and a funny and engaging singer + comedian + host guy that goes by the name of Fire Leopard or Snake.






Sunday, I volunteered for Spartan Race for their kids event at the Jimmie Johnson Fit Fest.  I worked with a crew to build some obstacles and mark the course.  I'm always proud to be able to build anything, since I'm not good at that kind of thing.



That night, the Whitewater Center hosted a memorial day celebration.  They had music and competitions all day, but we didn't make it out there until 8pm.  We did get to watch some music from afar, we people watched, enjoyed the scenery with the water and all of the activities in the area, and then came a nice fireworks show.






The next day, my dad came to volunteer, too.  We directed parking, and then came back to help on the course a little bit.



Those obstacles were no joke, and it was adorable to see little kids, future Spartans, take them on with less fear than their many of their adult counterparts.