Dallas Beast Prologue – HH12HR-015

This was redemption.

I wanted to finish and I knew I’d push to the end, but I didn’t think I actually would.

Yeah, that’s what I was really thinking before it all began. AT WINTERGREEN. In Dallas, I knew I had what it takes to finish. I had been there before. I learned from the previous 12 hour. I was ready. And I FULLY EXPECTED to finish. But in the end, that was what crushed me.

“What’s a Hurricane Heat?”

For those of you that don’t know, there’s a required gear list, part of which is a weighted rucksack/backpack that we must carry at all times unless instructed otherwise. My bag weighed about 25 lbs total, which included the 15 lb weight, hydration, food and gear.

7 PM to 7 AM. 13 hours. Here we go. Wait, what? Yeah, that was the night we turned the clocks back.

We began with a nice half mile run. Then a group tire carry from festival area to bucket brigade (1.75 miles). Next was 6 legged uphill bucket lunges. Three people tethered together carrying three buckets of gravel uphill to the end point 100 yards away via lunging. To get them back down, we did conveyor belt lunges: everyone in a single file line doing synchronized stationary lunges. Next up: the Couple’s Therapy Uphill Bear Crawl. In pairs, connected at the wrist and ankle, we did a 150 yard uphill bear crawl carrying a sandbag. To get back down, we crab walked still tied and carrying the sandbag. My partner (5 time Death Racer – 4 time finisher) and I were the first up and down with about a 5 minute lead. After chatting it up with Uncle Death Race himself (Tony) for about 10 minutes (waiting for everyone else to finish), we carried our tire all the way back to where we got it. We then did a 3 team, synchronized “Indian” run a half mile back to basecamp and lastly, we finished off the team portion with 150 burpees – “AS ONE”.

OH YAY. A SCAVENGER HUNT. DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING.

Land navigation was a failure at Wintergreen, so instead of doing that, they took out the land navigation part of it (compass and pace beads) and just had us use our surroundings to locate the spots we needed to go. Brilliant! Eerily similar, we needed 15 points to advance, each object had its own point value and we could only retrieve one object at a time. Maps stay at basecamp. Oh yeah, and the unforgettable, unknown time hack. Ready?

“Shit, I’m doing this solo, aren’t I?”

*Ominous yes*

“Go.”

Okay, run to the one that’s farthest away first. It’s the only one worth 5 points.

“Oh look! They found something RIGHT HERE.”

Grab one; back to basecamp – 2 points; okay, now to the far away one.

“Um, this doesn’t look right… Wait, they look like they know where they’re going.”

Followed them to the buckets. 4 point object – score! Needs to be filled with water (to the brim) so I run to basecamp and try to find water there rather than a half mile away. Done. Back to basecamp.

“That’s not lake water.”

“Does it have to be?”

“Yes.”

“Did you say that?”

“Yes, that’s why I said…”

I stopped listening, dumped the bucket out and took off running with it back to the lake a half mile away. Filled it up. Back to basecamp. BRUTAL.

“I’m sorry, it’s not filled enough.”

*Blank stare*

“Look at what some of your comrades did. Get creative.”

*Leaves bucket. Takes off running back to the lake*

Upon arrival at the lake for the third time, I emptied my dry pack and filled it with water. Sealed it up and ran back to basecamp. I emptied it into the bucket and heard,

“Okay, you got your points.”

I take off running, past the lake, over a flooded bridge and see a participant coming out of the field.

“Are you coming from A?” (The far away 5 point object)

“Yes.”

“Is this way quicker?”

“Yeah, the path is an L. You can cut right through here, but there’s a barbed wire fence you have to jump.”

“Thanks.” *Takes off running*

“Climb it like a ladder!”

And so now really risking it all, since I’m off the trail, I’m wondering if this was the way to go. Too late. But over the barbed wire fence and then up over the hill, I saw my destination. I successfully cut out about a half mile. Cadre is waiting at the top of the hill pictured below.

TX

“What do I have to do?”

“You have to bring 100 rocks to the top… in increments of 10. When you get to 50 you can take your ruck off.”

And so I did. Retrieving mostly pebbles, I got to 50 and took my ruck off. On my 6th trip up, Cadre asks,

“Did you take your ruck off at the bottom?”

“Yep. Was I not supposed to?”

“Well, you’re going to need it.”

DO I HAVE A LISTENING PROBLEM HERE? WHAT AM I MISSING? IS SOMEONE TRYING TO SET ME UP TO FAIL? AM I REALLY JUST THAT MUCH OF AN IDIOT?

Go, go, go. You don’t have your ruck on so your flying for now.

7th trip. 8th trip. 9th trip I take the ruck back up and leave it there. 10th trip.

“Okay 5 crucifix pushups and hold at the top on the last one for 10 seconds.”

Upon completion, Cha wrote “TM 22” on my safety vest and told me to show that to Tony. I take off running back to basecamp. AND LET ME JUST ADD, that I know I did that quickly, because I started 2 trips after this one guy and finished before him!

This time, I’m not risking it. I take the path back 2.5 miles. I did A so I have 11 points now. I’m so close. I just need the other 4 point object. The water jugs. Run. Run. Run. Okay, I really need to eat and drink something. Done. Okay, time to run again.

Have you picked up on it yet? I WAS RUNNING THE ENTIRE TIME. With all my gear. Alone. I WAS FINISHING THIS TIME.

Yeah, well I get back to basecamp and Tony logs my points. I set back out en route to the water jugs a half mile away with clear directions from other participants. But on my way there I saw people walking back to basecamp empty handed – they had gotten their 15 points already. There’s no way that much time could be remaining if people had already finished. This event is specifically timed for completion and there really is no room for error. But I went anyway. (I know, shocking…) And when I was almost all the way there, I saw people carrying their water jugs back to where they got them. WTF.

“Why are you bringing them back?”

“It’s 2 points to bring them to basecamp and 2 points to bring them back.”

OH.

I go anyway. (Crazy, right?) Grab my jugs (HA) and take 3 steps before I can’t anymore. I use my towel and duct tape to make a sling which soon turns into the means by which I dragged them the rest of the way. And by the time I got to the top of the hill where I could see basecamp, I saw the successful 18 doing PT. I missed the time hack and had been disqualified. I didn’t even get the 2 points (for a total of 13) for getting the jugs to basecamp. I finished with 11.

So I drag my jugs to basecamp anyway (reminds me of a certain cinderblock…), pack up and head out. Oh wait. I didn’t drive. I was dropped off… By people 40 minutes away… And it’s 4 AM. (Yep. 10 hours in. Again.) LUCKILY, a comrade was in the same predicament and she was staying at the same hotel as another comrade who actually drove. AND IT JUST SO HAPPENS, that their hotel was in the same town I was staying in! Glorious. Well, not really. I couldn’t really get pumped about anything at this point. In my delirium, I couldn’t even remember the address, so I ended up hanging out in the lobby of their hotel for 2 hours until the people I was staying with woke up and read my text telling them where I was. They came and got me. No shoes on. Shivering. Tears running down my face. And my pumpkin, bucket and sign were nowhere to be found.

Unfortunately, I let my fire burn out that day. I needed to embrace the situation and I felt I couldn’t. And although I’m still fighting off some of those demons, the fire is back. I’ve been making myself stronger and stronger physically, but I forgot that mental strength is what actually gets you through: being able to listen to your emotions and being able to take the positive from every experience. I am thankful every day to be able to do the crazy events I do and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. I’ll get back out there… eventually.

Dallas Beast

I’ve never ran a race like I did on Sunday.

It was about six o’clock in the morning and I had just been picked up from a hotel I was mooching off of. Wet, muddy, shivering, not wearing shoes and intermittent tears running down my face… I was a mess. And I wanted nothing more than to take a nice hot shower and sleep the day away. But Luis… Luis, man. Well, everybody was trying to get me to go back to the scene of the crime and get back on the horse, but I did not want to. Even though a small part of me wanted the medal as to not leave empty handed, I truly didn’t want to have to go through anything else at that point. I just wanted to fix my situation and relax. And Luis, the last one about to walk out the door, refused to leave me behind.

So I went. I grabbed my hoody, wallet, phone and disgusting shoes, and went. I didn’t have a bag; a change of clothes/shoes. Nothing. I just went – still soaked, still freezing, caked in mud, starving, still miserable. I registered for the race on site and before I knew it, I was in the starting corral and it looked like I had already run the race. I must’ve been some sort of sight to see: crouching down, elbows on my knees – seconds before our heat took off because I couldn’t hold back tears. How was I about to start a disgustingly muddy 14 mile obstacle course race feeling completely defeated?

But the gun went off and as if it were instinct, I took off running. Not before long, we were crossing water, climbing massive hills and getting beat down with obstacles. And by mile 3, I no longer thought it was still possible to finish. We walked. The ENTIRE rest of the way. Isaac fed me all of his snacks, Luis kept me hydrated, and EVERYONE stayed with me, pushed me to continue, and helped me when I needed it.

Throughout the race, despite my exhaustion and lack of proper nutrition, I was gradually feeling better, but at the dunk wall, misery returned. I was beyond cold and I just needed to cross that finish line. 6 obstacles just before the finish. I slipped off the rope and did 30 burpees. Everyone helped me conquer the others: monkey bars, multi rig, log hop, and the tyrolean traverse. I was done. I got my medal and for a moment, it felt amazing. I completed something I didn’t set out to do this weekend. I wasn’t walking away empty handed. I wasn’t satisfied to say the least, but it helped.
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It may not have been the most strategic option to run that day, but it proved to me what Ben told me a while back. There’s always more left in the tank. I had been up for over a day and hadn’t eaten a proper meal, but was still able to conquer the Dallas Beast. I thought I knew what it was like to operate under exhaustion during multiple endurance events, but nothing compares to that day. I damn sure earned that medal and I learned that I’m capable of way more than I thought. Still.

Every day, I’m pushing myself incredibly farther than I had times before. And in asking myself just how far this can go, I’m not so certain there’s a limit. Because if I can do that, under those conditions, imagine what I could do when my head is actually in the game.

Finding My Passion

As I look back on old photos, I noticed that there are few pictures where I am smiling nearly as big as I am in race and adventure photos. Skydiving in 2012, I mean jumping out of an airplane, and here I am just completely ecstatic. Then doing my very first OCR – the Warrior Dash. And then the Color Run. Being completely covered in mud or paint after having ran 3 miles and I couldn’t be happier. Then in China, scaling a mountain at 6,000 ft or hiking 10,000 steps to the top of a waterfall. Then there’s my first Spartan Race ever – the selfie I took in the car, elated that I completed something I didn’t think I could and in freezing temperatures and having done 120 burpees for failed obstacles. Followed by my first Beast and the completion of my first trifecta; goofing off and running a Rugged Maniac for fun, racing with my MOTHER in the BAHAMAS, racing with amazing friends, completing 12 hour challenges like the GoRuck Tough or even failing at the Wintergreen HH12HR – always with an ear to ear smile on my face. I mean there are times I’ve spent with great friends or family not doing something outrageous where you can see that same smile, but there are few things in life, to me, that are nearly as rewarding or fulfilling as the things I just mentioned. And what’s even crazier is that I don’t even recognize myself as I look through some of those old photos. I was happy then, but I’m not entirely sure I knew what true happiness was. Or how to find more of it. And now I’ve found that… in running, in OCR, in climbing mountains and jumping out of airplanes and seeing what’s next. How much longer, how much further can I go? How much harder can I push before I collapse? And if I can and I do, what could I accomplish? Moreover, what CAN’T I accomplish if I merely convince myself that I can? And some people may think I’m out of my mind, but this is the life I love living. And that’s what’s important. Learning about yourself and living the life you love. And that sounds completely cliché, but it’s the truth.303932_10151152251953647_1978824500_n 971626_10151600215448647_451124560_n 1014373_10151605521048647_1230752668_n 1417696_10152010595788647_1820627770_o 1467243_10152110499813647_1603355117_n 1496633_10152719515293647_1410705857_n 10427299_10154059010023647_2991684438595353892_n 11053933_10155048888193647_8636985033850533509_n 11792095_10155048884138647_2524929757547680736_o 11802604_10155048882198647_1824186852712028491_o 11914011_10155922495885696_721784366437105842_n 11954625_1043796322319848_3935212387300121658_n 12029677_10155395763318647_7484985069476725765_o 12038300_10154083549706494_3477619898543830345_n

Medoc Marathon

Camping the night before seriously is the way to go. Despite freezing my butt off, I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to drive an hour up there the morning of the race. And DEFINITELY not before my first marathon. I may not have gotten as good a night’s sleep as if I had stayed at home, but I had such a good time with all of my Raleigh Trail Runner friends that it didn’t matter.

And as we were standing around the fire that night, I learned “the 1st thing about trail running” as told by Joey. “Everyone walks.” And I knew that, but I needed to come to terms with it. And once I set my sights on finishing rather than finishing fast, something I wasn’t prepared to do anyway, I realized I would do what it takes to ensure that I finish strong.

Morning of, I make my instant steel cut oats with chia seeds, disassemble my tent and pack up and head across the road to the race site. Despite having 40 minutes to pick up my packet and get dressed and ready, here I was running from my car to the start line 60 seconds before the race began. I almost forgot my calf sleeves and made a last minute switch from my Inov-8 Terraclaws to the X-Talons, but wasn’t even too sure they were tied good. I had just filled my Camelbak and was still stuffing my Cliff Bloks in my fanny pack as I took off runnning to the start. With the announcer saying there was 30 seconds to go, I found my place in the start line with my bib and 4 safety pins, my timing chip and zip ties still in my hands. 2 pins in and everything else still in my hands, 3, 2, 1, GO, and I’m running while pinning my bib and fixing myself and everyone’s cheering and taking pictures… Well, if ONE good thing came out of diving in head first to this race, it was that it left me no time to think. No time to convince myself to go get a hot cup of coffee and call it a day. No time to let my muscles tense up from worrying too much. Before I even knew it, I was already running the race and I wasn’t all too sure how I got there. Similarly, it was over before I knew it. 5 hours and 19 minutes may seem like a long time and as you read below, I went through a lot before reaching the finish, but when it was all over, I feel like I had awoken at the finish line. It was done – just like that. I had completed something only 1% of people ever will.

The course had a road start section for pacing, an 8.5 mile loop you did 3 times and then a grassy sprint to the finish. Start slow; finish fast. This was the one thing EVERYONE emphasized. Well, probably due to the fact we started on a road and I wasn’t looking at my watch or my feet since I was still trying to pin my bib to my shirt, I took the first mile WAY too fast. I then slowed drastically to conserve energy and it worked like a charm. I took it down to a nice 12:30 – conversational pace with controlled breathing; the best I felt on a run in a while. Soon the thought of taking off at a 10 something pace to start was long forgotten. And the best part about the looped course is that the mile marker signs had the distances for every loop which really helped my mental game. “Okay, next time you’re here you’ll be at XX distance!” That and you got to learn the course: where the big hills, steep steps and aid stations are.

One thing I heard so much about going into this race is how amazing Medoc Trail Races’ aid stations are. What could be so great about an aid station?? LET ME TELL YOU. Water, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, pretzels, potato chips, halved potatoes with salt, skittles, M&Ms, gummy bears, SOFT BAKED COOKIES, STINGER GELS (the expensive ones with caffeine)!! Holy mackerel! You best believe I burned no calories on this race with the amount I probably consumed during it.

But on a more serious note, I took quite a tumble in mile 3 and banged my knee pretty bad. I rolled out of it on my back, got up and kept on running. The man behind me was freaking out way more than necessary which provided some comic relief for the moment. But I was concerned. The fall was preceded by several decent trips over rocks and roots and I knew eventually I would fall. I was glad I had gotten it out of the way, but I was really worried about the rest of the race. Typically you trip and fall when you’re fatigued because you don’t realize that you’re not picking your feet up as high as you think you are. Instead, for the rest of the race, I constantly glared at the ground watching every step I took and the terrain ahead of me and despite a couple more trips, I never fell again. Whew! However, from there on out, anytime I was running downhill or upstairs, my knee was screaming from all the pressure.

For about the rest of that first loop, I was trying to get away from these very sweet but VERY chatty women. I initially passed them, but then somehow they caught me again. When they saw me the second time, they told me I was doing great and had a good pace. They told me not to worry about all the people who took off because “you’ll pass them later on.” I learned how they were from VA and training for a 50 miler. They discovered I was doing my first marathon and threw the running & chatting equivalent of a party for me. I felt like they were pulling my head out of the game and I tried not to let them bother me since I didn’t want to waste energy this early on speeding up just to get away, but I grew increasingly annoyed. So I sped up just a little so that I could pull away from them gradually without expending too much energy. And it took some time before I couldn’t hear them anymore, but by the time I exited the first loop, they were nowhere to be found. BAM – kill, kill, kill.

After that point, I ran the rest of the race solo. It was AMAZING; alone in nature. And at some points, I probably would have forgotten I was running a race if it wasn’t for my bib flapping in the wind since the bottom two pins fell out… I was feeling really good, but then I realized I wasn’t even half way. I began talking to myself more. I had to entertain myself: tell myself stories, lying to myself that I’m not in pain; my ankles aren’t in pain, my knee doesn’t hurt, my hip isn’t tightening up. And before long, I WAS at the halfway point. And as my thought processes shifted away from my current state and toward the finish, I forgot all about the pains and I rewarded myself with a cookie at the nearest aid station – taking about half a mile to eat it. No shame.

Mile 16.2. Ten to go! I kept telling myself, “you’ve got this,” but this is where it became extremely mental – a game, if you will. With only 10 miles left, the “you can still quit” mentality was gone. I found myself chasing a kill I didn’t even consciously decide on doing and looked down at my watch and saw I was running an 11:30. Too soon to push! I let the distance between us grow farther and farther apart not worrying about it. A few miles later, as I exited the loop the second time, THERE SHE WAS – stopping on the sidelines while her boyfriend refilled her water bottle. BOOM – kill. The one I wanted so badly. As I zipped through the aid station grabbing only Gatorade, I passed a man loading up on snacks. BAM – kill. I felt UNSTOPPABLE.

Mile 20 I knew would be GO time, but when I re-entered the loop for the third and final time, I could not slow myself down for the life of me. At one point I looked down at my watch and noticed I was running a 10:39 pace. WHAT. HOW. The only problem was that I was only at mile 19. I still had 7 to go! I slowed down the best I could, but I knew that on this lap, there was no slacking – this was it. Any place I walked on previous laps like massive hills, I would run as long as I could and I would pick right back up the second I reached the top. Needless to say, I was out of breath for the rest of the race.

I remembered from my one 26.2 mile training run that the last 6 were the worst and the last 3 were the devil himself, but I was on FIRE. I was killing it. Crushing it. Beastmode was engaged. There was no stopping me. I knew I’d save my final push for the last 6 and just really empty my tank on the last 3, but man I was cruising and feeling good. I lost count of the kills! People were walking left and right and I just flew past them. One guy said, “WOW! Looking strong! Keep it up!” and the only thing I could think to say was, “Thanks. It’s all I’ve got.” AND THAT”S WHEN IT HIT ME.

I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood the concept of TRULY giving it all you’ve got before yesterday. I was exhausted to say the least. EVERYTHING hurt and at any given moment I could have curled up in a ball and just died a little bit inside. But I dropped my pace to a sub 11. A SUB ELEVEN. WHAT. I mean I was even passing the people that refused to stop. I was powering up those last few hills and I even turned down a porter potty despite having to pee for the past 10 miles. Then: “24.2” – two miles left. “Come on, Justina!” Seeing the break in the woods, knowing I was RIGHT THERE. Passing someone just out of the woods after chasing him down for about a mile and hearing him nipping at my heels on the pavement, salty I just passed him. Pushing, gaining distance away from him. Into the connector trail. Out to the grass. Past the loop aid station and around the bend to the finish. Long strides, hard push. LONG STRIDES, HARD PUSH! 5:19:38. Done.

Stop the watch, hands on my knees. “What’s your number?” I turned and faced the table. “Thanks.” Still doubled over. “Catch your breath. You’re done!” as the volunteer placed the medal around my neck. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. It was beyond difficult to breathe. I felt like I just couldn’t inhale deeply. I felt like I was about to burst into tears. I honestly didn’t know what the hell had just happened. But then Joey comes over to the finish shouting my name and taking my picture, telling me, “SEE! You didn’t take as long as you thought you would!” I go and pick up my finisher’s surprise – a Medoc sweatshirt – and head over to the awards ceremony where I joined Tom and Allison in celebration of the race. I finished my first marathon. I crushed those last 6 miles like I had no idea I could. I was overcome with so many emotions I was just completely overwhelmed. What a rush. What a feeling. It’s indescribable.

It took me quite some time before it set in and I got my emotions under control, but what I realized is that society uses the word ‘impossible’ interchangeably with ‘too difficult to be done without effort’. I began running in May of 2013 barely being able to run a 5k. I didn’t get serious about it until January of 2014. And I only ran my first half marathon on January 3rd, 2015. And here I just ran a MARATHON. October 17th, 2015: 26.2 FREAKING MILES on a mountain. It can be done and anyone can do it. It’s NOT impossible. But you have to want it. And in order to want it, we have to stop treating it like it’s impossible. I’m already thinking about my next big races. Maybe a 50K, 50 miler, 100K… 100 miler! WHO KNOWS what the future holds. But every accomplishment I make, I’m building a better and stronger me. My best possible self. To be more human. To be unstoppable. To be unbreakable. And today, I’m one step closer.

GoRuck Challenge/Tough 9/25/15

When we first gathered at Wintergreen Resort for the HH12HR, I looked around and was intimidated by some of the people that surrounded me: big brawly men and a few tough as nails women. However, when I showed up at Moore’s Square in Raleigh for the GoRuck Challenge, I did not see what I expected. I was expecting 20 or so military type men and women, but what I saw were 5 pretty normal looking men and 1 woman. I was puzzled by the crowd drawn to this event and began questioning the difficulty of it based on appearances. Yet 19 signed up and only 7 showed up, probably due to the rain, so I knew these guys had to have at least some of the crazy my HH family and I have.

When Cadre Heath showed up and introduced himself, I knew we were in for a good night. Following some GoRuck history and introductions, the welcome party began. In 2 teams, we raced to the flag (about 100m away) doing an exercise and sprinting back. Everything was done with our rucks on and the losing team had to do 5 burpees. We did bear crawls, crab walks, burpee long jumps and pushup jumps while another rolled underneath. It wasn’t long before we realized we needed to function as one whole team. We proceeded to do some challenges that forced us to problem solve, but nothing too physically demanding. To be honest, I was a little surprised by what we were doing – like groucho walks in a circle, holding our rucks in front of us while shouting “Beep, beep, I’m a Jeep. Clank, clank, I’m a tank.”  It wasn’t the 90 burpees we had to do at Wintergreen or 117 pushups we had to do in Boston as a “warm-up”. Plus, there was a lot of standing around and this confused me.

Then we had our first ruck. Every ruck had a specific destination and an associated time hack. In addition to our rucksacks, we had our team weight (mandatory 25# weight) of chains, and the American flag on a 25# pole courtesy of Cadre (I SUGGEST YOU BRING YOUR OWN) and the GoRuck Tough flag on a light wooden pole. Before we began, Cadre gave us our 2 water jugs and a big green bag filled with stuff we’d need (tarps, ropes, bags, etc). We headed out for a park about a mile away and had 15 minutes to make it there which we just barely did. Upon our arrival, the expected rain arrived and stayed with us through the morning. We filled a massive bag with wet sand which was the weight we picked up at that location. If we made it to our next location within the next time hack, we could drop the weight. If not, we had to take it with us in addition to whatever weight we picked up at the next location.

Before we left each location, we had a challenge to complete. The first was getting every team member up and over a 20 foot wall. Using a pyramid formation and a rope, we managed to do it. I found it to be very rewarding, especially being the first one over (also referred to as the “monkey”). For successfully completing the challenge, we were allowed to create and use a litter for carrying the 100#+ sandbag. We then got our next location, about 2 miles away, and headed out. Barely making it again, we had our next challenge. But first we got to listen to a nice story for about 15 minutes. I think I fell asleep, but I can’t be too sure. Now absolutely freezing from sitting, we had to haul everyone over a beam suspended about 10 feet overhead on a playground, however 3 people could not touch it and we had 15 minutes to complete the challenge. With one person laying across the top of the beam, we had 3 go over on top of him, not touching the beam, and the rest muscled their way over. Done. We were now allowed to drop the sandbag before moving on.

The next location was even farther. This time, our added weight was a log. We headed to another park carrying all of our weight and sprinting at the very end, we made it with seconds to spare. We continued into the park to a bridge and learned to rappel down using only a rope – definitely the highlight of the night! Upon completion, we headed to our final location. Three miles continuing even farther away from the starting point. This one was rough. This was where I hit the wall. To my memory, we didn’t have any additional weight for this one (other than the chains, 2 flags, water jugs, and big green bag… because that’s not enough). This was a long stretch and I began to feel some intense pain in my left foot as if I stepped on a nail. I just kept on rucking and EVENTUALLY we made it, but I cannot stress enough that seeing the sky slowly start to lighten up was the only thing that got me through. However, we missed the time hack and therefore, we had to take a casualty on our way. This meant that I was fireman’s carried the rest of the way while someone took my ruck and whatever I was carrying at the time. We still didn’t make it before we had to take ANOTHER casualty. With another mini sprint to the finish before we got yet another casualty, we only had seconds to spare before arriving. With 3 casualties, we would have failed since we only had 7 people in our class.

There was no challenge at this location and by then, the sun had risen. It was time to make our final ruck – FIVE MILES all the way back to the start. But there was a catch. We had 20 minutes to make it the first mile, but we had one casualty that had to be carried in a litter and the casualty had to be switched every 5 minutes. If we didn’t make it in time, we had to do it again for another mile until we made it in 20 minutes. Well when they first picked up the litter, a part of the wood snapped off… we were off to a good start. We got 5 minutes in and then I was in the litter with my ruck at my feet. I don’t remember exactly what happened, if the wood broke more or what, but we were allowed to abandon the litter. We were forced to complete the challenge using a fireman’s carry. Let me just say that although being carried sounds lovely, it’s not. IT’S DEFINITELY NOT. My hips and quads were SCREAMING from smashing into the carrier’s shoulder. Luckily, we made it the mile in 20 minutes.

We continued rucking back with no set time until out of nowhere, we were told we had 15 minutes to make it as far as possible until our next challenge. When we were stopped, we were 2.1 miles away from the start. Cadre told us we had 25 minutes to make it back and told us he suggested we jog. And so we jogged until some could no longer and then we fast-walked, then we jogged, walked, jogged, etc. With maybe a half mile to go, time was up. Since we were such a small class, we played a name game to prove we all knew each other, something very important to Cadre. Upon successful completion, we had a time limit to make it the rest of the way back until we got a casualty. We were a block away, and up on someone’s shoulder I go. We could hear Cadre counting down to the next casualty as we sprinted onto the grass of Moore’s Square.  We made it.

We still owed 60 reps from someone not putting his name on his bricks, so down for 3-count flutter kicks we went, Cadre included. When we got to 53, he stopped, and with 7 of us and 7 reps left, we did a low-crawl tunnel of love with our rucks on. Lastly, we all got in pushup position and put one hand up as one-by one we ran through the middle and high-fived each other. We had completed the GoRuck Tough.

Cadre gave us our patches and told us how impressed he was. I’m so happy to have had this experience, especially to try something new, but it was nothing like I expected. I was expecting something similar to the team portion of a Hurricane Heat, but man, what a completely different experience. Much less PT and many more team building exercises and much more distance covered. And if I were to have heard/read what we would be doing, I’m not certain I would have thought it would be challenging until I actually did it – things like trying to make all of the rucks on time while trying to carry all the additional weight, because it was attempting to switch the objects we were carrying while moving that proved difficult; and carrying the flag, which was longer than the 25# pole it was on, upright and unfurled, respectfully as to not hit anything, especially the ground while leading the pack. But I’m so glad I did it. That’s one more wall I’ve pushed through, building myself up to not allow myself to quit. To show myself what I am made of and what I am capable of. I was very wary in the beginning with all of our 5 minute breaks and little chats, but GoRucks are NO – FRIGGEN – JOKE. Don’t believe me? Sign up. Right now. GO. You won’t regret it as long as you DON’T FRIGGEN QUIT.

AROO!

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HH12HR-011 RECAP

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Team:
-90 burpee warmup at 0630
-“Everybody put 2 bricks in your ruck.”
-Wood stacking
-Rope climb with memorization at the top
-Plank holds/squat jumps
-Tree Carry #1
-Bear Crawls & Fwd Rolls
-Tree Carry #2
-With log (& smoke bombs): ovhd lunges, situps, push press
-Burpees & get-ups in festival area (with smoke bombs)
-Hill sprint for time
-Hill sprint with ruck for time

Individual:
-Land navigation scavenger hunt with an unknown time cap. Map was at base camp and you could only get one item at a time. Each object had a different point value & you needed 12 to continue. Objects A & B were the only 2 at the same location and were worth 5 & 4 points respectively. You needed at least one of them in order to get to 12 points. One was a log and the other was a cinderblock & they were at the bottom of the Death March.

We first went for C (3 pts), but never found it. We instead ended up with a 2 pointer after way too long scouring the mountain & 1,776 jumping jacks. We then decided it’d be best to go for A/B. After encountering some bears and braving a small cliff, we returned up the death march with our logs. We then went back for the cinderblocks. My teammates made it back within the time cap, but I did not. However, they only had 11 points, so after 10 hours, we had all been disqualified.

Out of 37 athletes who started, only 10 finished. It was brutal. But I’d do it all over again. & in fact I will do it all over again because I will finish & I will get that patch. It was such an incredible & life changing day – one I will never forget – and for that I thank you @spartanrace. For teaching me more about myself than I ever could have known.

Run Tip #1

Plan your route in advance!

If I don’t do this, I may be more likely to make my route shorter halfway through my run because I’m feeling tired. However, if I plan it out ahead of time and tell myself, okay, you’re running 10.5 today, I’m going to do it. Why? Because when you make a plan and don’t follow through on it, even just once, you feel so unaccomplished and you’ll never want to feel that way again. Trust me.

Only you can hold yourself accountable for your goals. This also means that the only person you would be letting down if you didn’t achieve your goal(s) would be yourself.

The takeaway: Plan your routes in advance and know how far you’re planning to run each day. And when you’re feeling tired, run a little farther!