Thursday, July 12, 2018

July 4th & GORUCK Independence Day Tough - Chapel Hill


Monday, Jun 18:
South End Pub Run.  It was warm.  Since I had just raced, I didn't want or feel the need to go as fast as usual.  I usually don't go after weekends where I've competed in something so that I can recover.  However, this was the start of the Ultra Running Grand Slam challenge, where the goal was to do 400 miles in 3 months, to match the distance that the Grand Slam runners would race over that time period.  That was good motivation.  I couldn't wait to try.

I'm a low mileage runner, for a marathoner, so averaging 5 miles per day is a huge stretch for me.  In maintenance mode, I may do about 15 miles per week.  A max week for me during marathon training may be just above 30 miles in a week.  I was curious to see whether I could keep it up.

Fortunately, the rest of the pack leaders in the pub run weren't pushing the pace hard, either.  The pub run coordinator Nathan was racing Western States, anyways.

Tuesday, Jun 19:
Only day 2 of the Grand Slam Challenge, and I was already feeling yesterday's Pub Run, and the weekend's Brew Dash... haha... all my runs are beer-related.  I did 7.5 in 1:04:42, 8:38/mi average, at 2 degrees of incline, trying to bank a couple of extra miles, in case I took a day off later in the week.

My incentive on this run was to continue running long enough to finish watching the first half of the Japan vs. Colombia game.  I had a late start, since I had to work late.  I floated between 6.8->7.4mph, which felt better than forcing a certain pace.

I had considered doing a strength session earlier in the day, but I wanted to get in miles.  Maybe I'd get it in later in the week, when I needed a rest day from all of the running.

Thursday, Jun 21:
5.2 in 1:05:13, 12:32 average.  Trail run at the Whitewater Center after work.  Decided to try the run, despite my legs still feeling tired from earlier in the week.  I wanted to take advantage of cloudy weather that day, and to use the trail as an intentionally slower and softer surface for my beat up body.  It was hard on my legs, though.  My Salomon S-Lab shoes felt plasticy and hard under my feet.  It was much harder than a normal run.

It started to thunderstorm suddenly and visciously in the last mile, and was scary when I was going in an open field by telephone towers, since lightning started.  The thunder was straight overhead and loud.  It was pouring as I got back into the car.  It was incentive to go fast.

I can't believe that I'm struggling so hard to even do a few days of 5 milers this week!  My body is so beat up even part way through the very first week of the 400 mile challenge.

Saturday, Jun 23:
55 min strength session.

Monday, Jun 25:
Tread mill intervals.  4.5 mi in 33:46, 7:30 average, 2 degrees of incline.
  • 1 mi warmup
  • 3x [ 0.75 mi @ 9mph, 0.25 mi @ 75mph]
Almost fell asleep running during the warmup.  Tired this week.  I didn't go visit Charleston over the weekend like I had planned, since I was so tired.  Lots of people were at the gym, and the treadmills were full.  People being there spark my competitive juices, which was probably part of the reason for the interval session.

I've been binge watching 13 reasons why, both seasons over about 4 days.

Thursday, Jun 28:
9.0 in 1:13:22, 8:09 average, 2 degrees of incline.  Got 12 hours of sleep last night, after about 5 nights with 6 hours each.  I could've slept even more if I didn't have to work.  I felt pretty good, so I could go long on the run.  I started with a progression run for the first 7 miles, but for the last two, I was flexible about the pace to get in more miles.

Saturday, Jun 30:
7.5 in 1:35:11, 12:38 average at the Whitewater Center.  While my dad went on a walk, I ran.  He and my mom were in town for a visit.  It as tough.  My tummy was streaming with sweat, since it was humid and hot.  The run wasn't easy, and it started to rain, which was a good excuse to stop it shortly thereafter, instead of going for 2 hours like I had originally planned.  Afterwards, I watched a couple of recorded world cup games with my dad.

Monday, Jul 2:
Another interval session.  4.5 in 33:38, 7:28 ave.  Didn't plan on an interval session, but my competitive juices kicked in when there was a guy on the treadmill next to me.  I would've otherwise probably floated for some miles.  It was warm.
  • 1.5 mi warmup in 12:38
  • 3 x [0.75 mi @ 9mph, 0.25 mi @ 7.5mph]
Preceded by a shot of mustard, since I was craving salt and something tangy, despite my mouth feeling like it was already saturated with salt.  Weird.  Over the weekend, I had about 8 bouts of postural hypotension, so I didn't feel so bad about doing it.

July 3rd, out to celebrate Independence Day at the Whitewater Center!

 (official USNWC photo)

On July 4th, a little shopping and walking.


I got to the start point in Chapel Hill at Southern Community Park at about 7:30.  It had rained really hard during the first hour of my drive, but now, it was just lightly raining.  It gave me time to do a little Pokemon Go, meet my teammates, and prep my gear.  Most of the class was members of F3, from a couple of different F3 groups.  A friend from HH12HR was also there. 

Our team weight was a snake from some previous event, which is appropriate for "don't tread on me".  There was a surprising amount of newbies, maybe a third.  But since many were from F3, they were prepared. There were some coupons laid out that I had never seen before... some small cylinders and a large cylinder, included.  The sandbags were all big ones, 60-80 pounders.  That big cylinder, which looks small in the picture, was actually the worst thing, from what I hear... it was nicknamed the #doomtube during the course of the event.

It turned out that I was the only girl in attendance.  The guys were all really nice, though.  They had me start on the flag, but I was pretty quickly itching to get on some weight, since I was getting bored and feeling under-utilized.  I got my hands on some small cylinders after a while.  We soon learned that Chapel Hill didn't get the second part of its name for no reason... there were hills aplenty in the city.  It never quite hit me until tonight. 

I normally don't use the restroom at events, somehow.  I did this time, though, three times.  Maybe it was the heat, and me hydrating a little more than usual.  

The welcome party wasn't at the very beginning of the event.  Instead, we got one or two movements in, first.  I liked that.  It's different.  It lets you get in the swing of things and get a nice little warmup, and it helps to break up the event.  For the welcome party, which is intended to be a rude awakening where you get beat down with a bunch of PT and tempted to quit before the event even begins, we took turns going around the circle, introducing ourselves and leading the group in our "favorite exercise".  We did 15-60 reps of it, depending on how strenuous it was.  That was a nice way to get to know everyone better, than at a usual event.

During the movements, I did a little single ammo can, some 2-man large ammo can, some of the snake (which was surprisingly tough on your shoulders), some 1/4-1/3 full jerry can, a few feet of 60lb sandbag, some small cylinders, and the most of the med bag (maybe 20lb).  

Between movements, we took turns telling the group about a LEO or military person from our area, who we were rucking for.  There were some heart-wrenching stories of real life heroes in there.  F3 promotes the idea of a circle of trust, and I don't know much about F3, but I feel like something similar happened that night, from the kinds of personal stories that were shared.  

Towards the end, we were at a park, and we asked for something that was originally going to be saved for the Light later that day... a lesson on questions on the citizenship test.  We got what we asked for, a little game where we were in pairs, taking turns answering questions, and if you got it wrong, you and your pair had to do pushups.  Fortunately, my buddy and I made it through without penalties.  It was fun.

Before we headed out for the last evolution, we also got a "choose your own adventure", where we could either take a casualty, or get in the water.  We chose water.  It was cold, and we had to get fully wet, and spray the air while saying "America!".

It was getting super tough towards the end as the sun was coming up.  Carrying anything was absolutely grueling.  My partner on the 2-man ammo can was giving me encouragement even as he was struggling to help me make it.  Several times during the event, I thought about how I wouldn't mind quitting and just falling asleep somewhere by the side of the road, even when we were only a couple of miles from the end of the event.  I was starting to feel completely depleted muscularly (not for a lack of nutrition) and wasn't sure if I could physically make it.  Somehow, though, you manage to push on to keep up with the team and not drag them down. 

Cadre J Dub is clear in his standards - a 20 min/mi pace, regardless of terrain.  I like that.  It's not some unknown and arbitrary standard that you have no clue about until the end when you find out if you made it or not.  You know what you have to do and you push for it.  Fail and face consequences.  Make it and enjoy being a winner.  

In the last stretch, we got to go through UNC Chapel Hill.  I always like visiting college campuses.  I was so tired, though, that I had to force myself to look around and appreciate it while enduring the suffering.

This group was maybe the best in terms of teamwork that I've been a part of.  There were willing volunteers when painfully heavy stuff had to be carried.  There wasn't fighting or getting frustrated at each other.  We took challenges like casualties when they inevitably came, in stride, without complaint, and learned from mistakes.  It was special to be a part of that.  The newbies were TL's, too, and they did great, as good as any veteran TLs I've seen for the vast majority.  

After the event, I met up with a friend for a place to shower and then lunch.  Then, a drive home with nap stops along the way.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

RACE REPORT: Brew Dash 6K 2018 & SOL FEST


Monday, Jun 11:
South End Pub Run.  5.1 in 41:21, 8:03 average.  Started slow with the group, then sped up.  Hot, at 90 degrees at the start.  Shade and a couple of sprinkles suddenly came about halfway, though, and wind felt somewhat better.  Usual perceived hard effort, though not a crazy pace.  Good heat training for Brew Dash.  My body craved running today, since it's been about 2 weeks since a run (with a GORUCK in between).

Splits> 9:01, 8:10, 7:55, 7:47, 7:42, 0:46 for 0.1

Tuesday, Jun 12:
55 min strength session
  • Pullups: 7.5, a record
  • Plank: 4 + 2.5 + 2.5 min
  • Abductor/adductor Leg Lifts: 80/120
  • 6 in: 75 + 75s
  • Squats: 100
  • Crunches: 300/side
  • Pushups: 20
  • Single Leg Squats: 2x100 (shallow)
  • Dumbell row pushups: 20
  • Lower Leg Extensions: 125
  • Assorted Dumbells


Beer + Running, all the yes.

It was a warm morning, but I had a confidence booster from this week's hot South End Pub Run.  The course started with the wide Main Loop, then went to the Lake Loop.  I started at the front, was passed quickly by 4 women adn lots of men, got passed by 1 more man 1/4 of a mile in.  But after that, I was passing people.  One woman at 1 mi, 2 more @ mile 2, and the third at mile 2.5.  I realized that I was in first at the end of the Lake Loop, during the out and back.  It was a nice surprise, since I've gotten 2nd, but haven't won a Brew Dash before.  I knew that if I could hang on to the pace, I'd have it, since the others had already slowed.  I pushed hard, to be safe. 

They had a unique prize this year... an awesome stein!


After the race, I filled the gap between then and the start of the beer festival Sol Fest with my first visit to Deep Water solo.  It's like bouldering, but you can go high, because when you get to the top, or if you fall off before getting to the top, you drop into a deep pool of water.  To make this work, the wall is slanted backwards a bit, which makes it more challenging.  

After the orientation and safety class, you get the remainder of the 30 minutes to climb.  I wanted to start with a more challenging one at first, since the start is when I'd have the most strength, and I wanted to see how I'd do.  I got a decent way up.  When I dropped, though, I was slightly leaned forward, and hitting the water from that height feels like a little punch to the gut.  The lifeguard had recommended pencil diving it.  I see why.  After that, I always tried to go straight down, if not slightly leaned back.  

It was tiring, but fun.  I only got to the very top of one or two.  30 minutes is a good amount of time.  I don't have the endurance in my arms to make it much more than that, anyways.  


They renamed the beer festival to Sol Fest this year.  Maybe it's meant to appeal to women a bit more.  I liked the layout this year.  They spread things out a bit more, giving you more space to meander through the festival, without feeling too crowded.  You could enjoy things a bit more.  They had tables where you could enjoy your drinks, and live music, too.  They used to condense everything in a 1-block space.  I like that more breweries are doing sour beers.  It was great for the hot day.  Love all the beer swag, too!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

PB&J in NC

I've been looking forward to having my sister visit for a while.  The last time I saw her was over Christmas and New Year's in 2017.  My dad and family friends also came to visit.

On Wednesday, Jun 6, we went for a little swim after work.  Surprisingly, it was my first time at the subdivision pool, even though I've lived here for 2 years.  It's nice, though maybe too short for legit lap swimming.  You can still get in a workout, though, I suppose.

Thursday, my sister came.  We kicked off the long weekend with doing an Escape Room, my second ever.  With the help of some clues, we got through!  It had some fun and cool elements.

I took Friday off, and we went camping in Asheville, mostly for the experience of building a campfire and sleeping in a tent, and because I had secured us some tickets for a Sierra Nevada tour and tasting.  

We stayed at Lake Powhatan.  The campsites aren't on the lake, but it's a small walk to the lake, where there's a little beach area where kids can play.  It's a nice little getaway.  Not terribly far, like some other sites we were considering.

I was hoping to put my GORUCK Constellation + Expedition fire making lessons to use.  I started with my flint + steel striker, but that didn't catch on my pine straw and grass straw and leaves.  We could get sparks, but nothing would catch.  Plan B was waterproof matches.  There wasn't a working striker sandpaper thing from what we could see, though, so we broke a few matches before giving up on that.  Plan C was a lighter.  Even that took a few tries to get going, but we got the tinder to catch.  After that, I was able to use the Expedition skills to gradually add our prepared stacks of increasingly large pieces of wood.

With our hard-won fire, we made turkey hot dogs and marshmallows.  We also sipped beer.  I only brought 2 between the two of us.  It would've been nice to have a couple more.  I'll know for next time.

We set up our 4-person tent, with the luxury of having our car full of stuff next to us (vs. having to backpack our stuff in for miles).  There were bathrooms and even showers closeby, too. We were only there for one night, too, so water or tons of food options weren't a concern, either.

Temps were decent.  It was warm during the day, but not overwhelmingly so.  At night, it didn't get too cold, either.  The floor was hard because we were on asphalt with not much padding, but it didn't impede sleep too much, and I wasn't sore the next day.  My sister had wanted to play card games and stuff as it got dark, but I was ready to sleep.

The next morning, we didn't feel like trying to get a fire going again, and we had plans to meet my dad and the family friends at Sierra Nevada, so we cleaned up, packed up, and went off.  

It was my second time at Sierra Nevada.  It's an impressive facility.  Beautiful and thoughtfully made.  Lots to do and see.  I think the free pre-booked tours that they do these days are shorter than the ones they did a year ago, maybe to fit in more people.  Still pretty cool and worth the trip and up there on the free brew tour scale.  

You get to experience different kinds of hops.  You can see copper-covered kettles, and do a quick run-through of the rest of the brewery.  It ends with a guided tasting, though only for 4 beers now, not 8 like last time.  That's probably ok... 8 was kind of a lot to get through in a short time.  Maybe 6 is ideal.  4 doesn't give you as much breadth.

The wait for the restaurant for Sierra Nevada would've been more than an hour, so we drove out a little bit to the White Duck Taco Shop, which had all kinds of exotic taco flavors.  A tasty and fun little place.

We went for a little 2.9 mile hike at Dupont State Forest, on the Triple Falls & High Falls trail, with the 5 year old in tow.  She's ridiculously full of energy, though, so this was no issue at all for her.  I rucked it.

The next day, we went to the Whitewater Center, for rafting, zip lining, lunch, rock climbing, and ropes courses.  We packed the day full.

We finished the day with another escape room, with a different company.  My sister said that this was one of the best that she's seen in the 20-ish Escape Rooms that she's done.  The clues were reasonably intuitive.  It's an interesting night-time event, though... sure gets your adrenaline up right before you need to sleep.  The host was really nice and helped us through with clues when we got stuck, to make sure we had a good time.

GORUCK D-Day Tough - Charleston, SC


After GORUCK Immersion, I spent Sunday cleaning up the townhouse for a friend who was visiting from Virginia. 

Monday, May 21:
I like to take visitors to the US National Whitewater Center, because it's a cool place to walk around, even if you don't get an Activity Pass.  The man-made whitewater is cool, and the trails are good for something so close to home.  I rucked it, to get some extra cardio in, and to get my body a little more ready for D-day. 

There are no mountain vistas here, but there are some small bodies of water on some of the trails.  Afterwards, we went out for BBQ at Mac's Speed Shop - good stuff (quality brisket, for example).  I'd go back.  Good food and a nice beer selection.

The next day, we went to Copper for the best Indian food I've had, followed by the airport overlook, bocce, and more Eureka, a fun and quick little game... kind of like how you'd play Tangrams or SET... trying to solve puzzles more quickly than your competitor.

Thursday, May 24:
The right timing for my last strength session before an A-event... 10 days.  It had been a while since my last strength session... almost a month, since I had Immersion, and Spartan Fayetteville in the meantime.   My body was ready for this reset, though.  I might've strained my right outer butt from rucking.
  • Plank: 4 + 2.5 min = 6.5 min
  • Situps, UBRR-style: 40 in 1 min, a bit violent on my back as I went for speed... trying to get ready for GBC Behind Enemy Lines.
  • 6 in: 75 + 75s
  • Lunges: 100
  • Single Leg Squats: 95 + 100
  • Pushups, UBRR-style: 22 + 20 hard... I'm worse than ever at them, I think.  I used to be able to do 40... don't know if I switched form to a harder form, and/or if I'm weaker... definitely weaker there.
  • Adductor/abductor Leg Lifts: 105/130
  • Pullups: 5 with hang until 60s, then 4 with hang til 40s
  • Assorted Dumbell Rows
Friday, May 25:
Went for a post-work run to kick off Memorial Day weekend, at the Whitewater Center.

8.5 in 1:38:27, 11:31 average.  I did a couple episodes of Zombies, Run!  My body beaded water everywhere from sweat and humidity.  More bugs buzzing and following me than normal.  Had to surge to get away from them.  Cloudy and threatening to storm, and some mud to deal with.

Saturday, geocached a little while running errands.  Discovered some good ones!  That can be rare, when you've been caching in an area for a while.

Sunday, May 27:
Biked 16.9 miles in 60 min at the gym, while watching Naked and Afraid.  I recently discovered this show (at Fayetteville in the hotel).  It's actually very informative, and helps to supplement what I've been learning at the GORUCK Survival series events.  The part that opens my eyes the most is usually related to understanding animal behavior, which helps you catch them or avoid predators.

Memorial Day, I worked on planning for the upcoming Europe Trip with my sister, for maybe like 8 hours.  When I get focused on something, I go non-stop for hours on end.  

Tuesday, May 29:
I haven't done interval work in maybe 3 months.  I have been doing tempo sessions and races, but no treadmill speedwork.  My body felt like it could handle it today, though, so I tried.  My butt was sore and cramped initially, but it felt better as I ramped up the speed.  Strange when it does that... it's only the second or third time, and I never encountered that until this year.  I did a longer 1.5 mi warmup because of it.
  • 1.5 mi warmup in 12:19
  • 3 x [0.75 mi @ 9mph (5:00), 0.25 mi @ 7.5mph (1:59)]
Not a record workout, but it is a typical solid one, so I was really happy.


Because a Heavy preceded this event, it didn't start until 10pm on Saturday, which worked out well for me.  It meant that I could take my time driving to Charleston after work on Friday, meet up with a college roommate on Saturday morning, nap a little, then go to the event.  The event was in the same city where my parents live, so I didn't even have to drive far.

My friend has 2 little kids... let me tell you, parents of little kids should earn a patch every day for the heavy carries that they do!  Those kids are heavy coupons, and they often need carrying. 

At the parking lot for the starting point, people gathered.  I saw some familiar faces from previous events.  There were some newbies.  I felt more confident, having done a Tough before, albeit 2 years ago.  At least I was well-rested.

At the Welcome Party, we acknowledged the 74th anniversary of D-day.  We split up into 3 groups rotating through 3 stations.  At the first station with Cadre Montreal, we did 74 reps (split among sets) of squats with rucks overhead, followed by 74 reps (split among sets) of flutter kicks with rucks overhead.  I'm glad we got this one out of the way first, while we were still fresh.  At the next station with Cadre DS (who I met at Expedition), we did 74 reps (split among 3 sets) of ruck kettlebell swings, overhead presses, and a sprint down and back across the field.  The kettlebell swings were kind of tough, since my 26L GR1 would touch the ground.  I started off using the shoulder straps before the Cadre got on me about that, so I switched to managing with the handle.  

Next, with Cadre Heath, we learned proper buddy carrying technique (single and triple), to not hurt ourselves.  The trick to the single is getting your shoulder right between the casualty's legs, pulling their arm in the direction that you want their body to go, squatting up, and shifting them up by adjusting afterwards.  Fortunately, there was a girl my size to pair with.

Next, a history lesson, drawn out in sand.  The history makes the rucking more meaningful, as you think about what our heroes went through and succeeded in doing.  I had no idea about the amount of cunning that went into pulling off D-day.  Brilliant.  That kind of stuff wouldn't work the same way anymore, because of how technology has changed, but I'm sure there are equivalent kinds of strategies that would be at play in modern times.

Now, it was time to get started with the movements.  We picked up our coupons, filled sandbags, filled water at a gas station, then started off on a 3.5 mi ruck.  I did a combo of ammo cans and sand bags for the first couple of evolutions.  It was a little surreal rucking through the streets I used to go through in my childhood home town, in the middle of the night.  At the first checkpoint, we learned about the 82nd & 101st Airborne's mission behind enemy lines under heavy fire as they cut off enemy communications and secured bridges to pave the way for the invasion that would start a few hours later.

We then rucked another 2 miles to the beach.  It wouldn't be D-day in Charleston without something involving the beach.  We learned about the Higgins Boats, with so many crammed in rough waters.  We simulated this with a boat drawn out in sand.  We didn't even have our rucks on when we were in there, and it was tight.  We got in the same position in the water, then did crawls up the beach at low tide, similar to how they had low tide.  

Next, we started heading back.  With Cadre DS, we learned about Hedge Row Warfare, and went through some flooded fields securing positions between two teams.  It had grown light by now, though with a 10pm start, we wouldn't be finishing until 10am, so we still had a ways to go, and still miles to go before we were back to the start point.

We picked up some casualties, and had to buddy carry them to our next checkpoint, a hospital.  Newbies got picked for TLs, a rude awakening, but a good leaning opportunity.  Things didn't feel as heavy to me this time, as they did the first time, or at least I knew how to manage the weight better and shift to different muscles in a more optimal way, so I could contribute more than I could last time.  I'm glad that as opposed to many logs, like last time, they had more individual coupons, and sandbags of various sizes, so it was less of an all or nothing contribution.  You could find a way that you could give the most you could, without being dependent on having 3 people of equal size to carry awkward huge objects with.

At the checkpoint, we learned about the liberation of cities like Sainte Mere Eglise.  One of the team members created a custom team weight, which was the crest of Sainte Mere Eglise.  The church's stained glass, and the crest, commemorates the liberators, and we learned about how appreciative the cities were of the Americans who came through.  It brought tears to my eyes, which is a weird thing to happen at a GORUCK event, but it was really touching.

Next, we rucked to Shem Creek Park, where we simulated securing a bridge on the boardwalk.  I've visited that park once before.  It's really pretty.  It was fun to put learning into action with this little mission.

We rucked a little more, almost back to the start point.  I was digging deep at the time, eager to finally finish.  However, right before we would've taken the turn, we found out that we'd be rucking up the Cooper River Bridge!!!  That thing is huge!  I had spent the remainder of my energy getting back, and I couldn't believe it.  We had to dig even deeper, especially since that bad boy went uphill.  It was the final bridge to take.  

We made it, though!  And we took a quiz on Normandy history at the top, and earned the ability to drop sand.  During the second half of the event, I carried a mixture of the sandbag, the litter with my size twin, and the team weight.  Fortunately, we didn't have to go all the way to downtown.  We finally made it back to the start point.

My biggest takeaways from the event:
  • Learned a lot of fascinating history about what went into the Invasion of Normandy
  • Now that I'm less of a Newbie (still a newbie compared to most), it's interesting to see how they evolve during the course of a single event
  • Glad to see that I'm able to contribute more now, and better able to handle the weight... more confidence
  • Found a strange phenomenon that when you help other people, even if it's by taking on more weight, it feels less heavy
  • Also became more comfortable with asking for help.  A key part of teamwork is taking turns helping each other.
  • And, as usual, respect for a number of women there with impressive smarts, strength, and leadership

This was a well put on event.  I enjoyed this more than the Veterans Day Tough I did two years ago.  I liked the way there was history, a better understanding of our military heroes, good livin, teamwork, good coupon weight distribution, and missions weaved in together.  GORUCK, like all good companies that succeed, is good about getting feedback and always evolving.