Prana Zion Stretch shorts or pants. I can't rave enough about them. They are nice shorts to go out to dinner in but in an event, are incredible. Both pants and shorts have a pocket on the left leg that has a zipper at top and at side. I always kept my beef jerky here and a few gels. That way, I can eat anytime I want without having to get into my ruck. There are also drain ports in the crotch. Never a bad idea to drain/air out that area, right?! And, they are stretchy and easy to squat in. Lastly, they have a strap built right in to the waistband so when they get wet and sweaty and you need to cinch down, there is no need for a belt. Just give it a tug. This is how they look after a Tough event in Detroit in June and this Heavy event. This is prior to putting them in the wash. Side Note: I have the pants version in beige and gray and wear them to work every day. Bonus: they have a 36 length which is like finding a unicorn in the pants world for me.
Friday, August 10th, 6pm start, Park of Roses, Columbus, OH
The start point was easy to find and the cadre were millin' about prior so there was zero doubt about where to be. We started with 15 at the start and timed perfectly for the 6pm start, the skies opened up and the downpour began. We still opened up our rucks for inspection and got moving on the Heavy's PT test: max situps in 2min and max pushups in 2min. The rest of the PT test is normally a 12-mile timed ruck but we got a curve ball thrown at us with a 6 mile run without our rucks. I was good with it since I was wearing trail shoes and like to run but many were wearing boots. But...the lightning began so that got held up. We instead headed to a shelter and began learning about the timeline of Extortion 17.
|Photo Courtesy of Rocky Hogue|
Cadre Cleve (one of our two cadre), a Force Recon Marine, is known to bring his deck of cards to events. Now that the individual tests were complete, it was time for the infamous Welcome Party. They can take any form and totally up to the cadre's discretion. The deck of cards works like this: 52 cards in the deck plus the two jokers. Each ace, in our case, equaled 20 reps, each face card 15 reps and the rest were whatever number appeared. For the suits, he chose overhead squats for the spade, thrusters for the clubs, 4 count flutter kicks with ruck overhead for the diamonds, and 8-count body builders for the hearts. For the two jokers, it was Cadre Mocha Mike's call. Mocha is local to the Columbus area and brought all the "toys" for us to haul around. Mocha chose 38 burpees (with rucks) for the first joker and 38 lunges for the second. That first joker just happened to be the first card called. So there we went for the next hour in the rain in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Two would try to quit the event here but didn't. However, we did lose one after we finished. We are now 13 strong. Also, much thanks goes out to Mocha for identifying the youngest (17 years old) and oldest (ME!) in the class and nick-naming us War Baby and War Daddy. We got to stay in the middle of the circle during the deck of cards. The worst part about that deck? 8-count body builders...no doubt.
Side note: I haven't done many events so I haven't been a part of many Welcome Parties. However, I have experienced the spectrum. From screaming, demoralizing rants from the cadre to soft spoken words to Cleve and Mocha. These guys are class acts. Easy to talk to, approachable, but they hold you to the standard. In other words, they're awesome humans and treat others as they want to be treated. Sound familiar? It's not always the case with these events. Just pull up some YouTube videos and you'll see. I really appreciated this as my tolerance for that venom is low and it's not what I signed up for. So if you're reading this, Mocha or Cleve....THANK YOU.
First Movement North
We offloaded (4) 80lb sandbags, one 120lb sandbag named "Bertha," and two water jugs weighing in at 65lbs a piece from the back of Mocha's Ford. Cleve already told us that the weight would only increase as the night progressed and this is where we were starting. We were given a time hack and of course, we didn't meet it. I'm not sure how far or how many movements we did until we got to Antrim Lake. I do know it had to be around the 5am hour, though, as the first birds were starting to sing. During this trek, we got rained on more and I was getting really chilled so the warm water of Antrim Lake was a welcome addition to the event and cleaned all of the funk off of the team who were all smelling pretty ripe. Lucky me...I got to lead the class in hydro burpees (shown here).
We also knocked out some more 8-count body builders here. Apparently, Cleve loves these as they appeared time and time again. Mocha didn't leave with us after the Welcome Party. It was time for some zzzzz's for him before he'd swap with Cleve later on Saturday. We got some time to eat and clean out our shoes after the water before hitting the trail north again. We started seeing our first runners around now and it multiplied to a scale I have never seen before. Large running group after another passed by us all morning long as we continued north. The Olentangy Trail was extremely busy. There isn't much to share about this journey north except to say that when we didn't meet a time hack, we did more PT...and we missed just about all of them.
Worthington Hills Park + 250lbs
Until I wrote this, I never knew how far north we got during this event. I was really surprised that we got north of I-270! I also didn't realize how close we were to the Rusty Bucket and cold beer...but that's probably a good thing. We arrived here and Mocha was waiting for us.
Out came the two largest ammo cans I have ever seen, a large GORUCK kit bag full of rope, a tarp, straps, etc., and 4 steel poles...and of course, two fresh water jugs filled to the top. Cleve turned over to Mocha and Mocha was all ours. He gave us about 10min to figure out how to carry everything. We still had "Bertha" and the 80lb sandbags but now we had these. We used two poles and the tarp to carry many of the sandbags and suspended the ammo cans using straps with the other two poles. This contraption was called "Pain and Misery" by Mocha and appropriately so. Now if we thought we were moving slow before, slow took on a whole new definition. Not only were we slow, but we could only go so far before we had to put the weight down. The pressure on the shoulders from those steel poles were our limiting factor and would remain so until we rid ourselves of them. We left the park and started our return trip south, stopping often to re-adjust what we made to make it work better.
John Galipault Field
This was our destination after leaving Worthington Hills Park. We barely met the time hack to get there, too, which was a relief to finally do so. I seriously thought reward was coming after that movement in the form of dumping some weight (e.g. emptying some sandbags). We actually did dump 120lbs of sand en route because I think Mocha realized we were never going to get where we needed to unless we made a change to the weight. Prior to that, we were under 700 pounds of combined weight as a team. Dang.
So we got some time to chill out here, refill the water tanks and prepare to move again. What we found out is that this field, shown above, is about a 1/4 mile around and we were going to do the GORUCK-modified version of the Hero WOD "Murph" here as a team. "Now we're talkin' my language!" I thought to myself. Mocha laid it out like this:
- 1 mile run (4 laps around field as a team)
- 100 ruck swings (like a kettlebell swing)
- 100 situps with ruck on chest
- 100 walking lunges
- Bear Crawl without ruck about 200m
- Crab walk forward a little over 200m
I actually enjoyed this! We broke up the movements into 10 sets of 10 which made it far more manageable. Mocha gave us a 55min time hack and we did in 52+ minutes. Afterwards, we talked more about Extortion 17 and Mocha allowed me a moment to share my experience while deployed and being on the flightline that night. After that...time to move out.
Our next destination was a BP station in order to get some electrolytes. There were a few very pasty-white looking individuals and many were out of electrolytes altogether. This was a very tough movement for me and I'm not proud of how it got to me. The Heavy is a very physical event but it is more-so a mental one. Every person WILL face themselves square on and if you're ugly on the inside, it'll come out. Sleep deprived, beat down, and constantly being pushed will do that. I was struggling a lot during this movement, being assigned to continue under the ammo cans. Many were seriously hurting and the strongest were needed to shoulder, quite literally, "Pain and Misery." The major stressors for me were twofold: the pressure on my shoulders and my right back muscles cramping up. That limited how long I could stay under the weight until it had to go down. Time for a sidebar:
When I see someone struggling, I talk to them, engage them, and ask them how they are doing. If I assess that they simply can't, then change needs to happen. If it's a case of "won't," then that's a different story and motivation is instead needed. Unfortunately, that approach isn't always reciprocated, especially when everyone is in the condition they are. Well, my "cries for help" were ignored which caused me to lose my cool and say some things I regret. We were under pressure to meet a time hack...I get that and believe me, I wanted to make it! However, to make a switch to the other shoulder can be done in 10-15sec. We missed the time hack by 2min, 53sec. You/we have to look out for our team, even when we perceive they are strong, etc. We are all human. So for those around me on my team and heard me, please accept my apologies. I got my head right after that but the sense of "team" was certainly diminished and I felt responsible for that...and still do.
Once we reached our destination, I grabbed a Vitamin Water and a fancy double-Snickers bar. Oh my, how good that was! All I really had up until that point was two protein bars, some gels, and a lot of beef jerky. Not many carbs at all so I wanted to get that sugar infusion into my blood stream and oh my, did I feel better after that! Because we missed our time hack getting there, we did some mountain climbers on a grassy area while the traffic whizzed on by. We moved on out after this en route back to Antrim Lake where Cleve would be waiting. Just after we left, though, we came upon a row of telephone poles. Mocha told us that if we could get the pole onto our shoulders as a team, we could dump two 80lb sandbags. We did on the first try. He took a photo of that but I haven't seen it surface just yet.
Back at Antrim Lake, I was hoping we were going back in the water as that sounded so refreshing and the sun was blaring. Based on what Cleve posted online, they were planning to put us in there again but decided against it. We had a break once we arrived and we offloaded all weight except for the team weight I had brought. FINALLY. At this point, it's past 3pm and maybe even 4pm. The end is in sight.
Hit by Snipers
We were given an aggressive time hack and there was no way we'd meet it. Even fresh, you'd have to mix in shuffling or running to meet it and this team was in no condition to do that. Plus, we could only move as fast as our slowest person and we had a few who had feet in terrible condition. Still we lined up two-by-two and headed out at our fastest speed possible. Somewhere about a mile or mile and a half into this movement, our cadre picked off 3 of our team members one at a time and told them to sit alongside the trail and told them to simulate being hit by snipers. Then, our team leader was asked if we still had everyone. No one had been turning around so when we all did, we realized our team was fractured and we had lost a few. This stopped everything and we had to send people back down the trail and carry them back, simulating being killed or badly wounded. Once back, we got some training about watching our 6 and looking out for each other along with a super cool way to build a stretcher using rucks. We actually did it and it worked! Very cool and testament to the high quality and military grade of GORUCK rucksacks. No JanSport would ever survive that!
We did carry a few team members a very short distance using the rucks but then 3-man-carried our one team member who had the worst feet all the way back to the Park of Roses, over 1 mile away. We learned how to switch out while on the move and never stop and never put him down. Motivated by the knowledge of the end coming soon, we got it done.
Afterwards, a good friend of mine let me crash on his couch for the night because driving home 2 1/2 hours would be far from wise and strictly forbidden! But first, I pulled up Google Maps and typed in "burgers and beer" and found a place, Pat and Gracie's, only a few miles away. It was the perfect capstone to an epic event.