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Where training meets fandom. And everything in between.

Abington Police Community Partners 5K Race Recap

 

Yesterday, I ran the Abington Police Community Partners 5K in my hometown of Abington, MA.  Since I started running 3 years ago, this is only one of two races that I have run all 3 of those years. Not only do I love running it because it’s in my hometown, but they made a beautiful little course out of it.

Tara and I did what we typically do and stayed at Julie and Dan’s house on Friday night. They only like about 10-15 minutes away from Abington so it’s really nice to be able to sleep in a bit before heading to the race. Unfortunately, we didn’t get in until around 8:30 Friday night so I missed the early bib pick-up. This meant leaving around 7:00 to get my bib when they started giving them out at 7:15. In hindsight, I could have left a little later, but it worked out fine.

 

 

Once I got my bib, we just hung out in the car for a while to stay warm. It wasn’t super cold out, around 60ish degrees, but very cloudy so it wasn’t super warm either. The rain held off, so I was happy about that.

 

 

 

I had two goals going into this race: 1. Not to walk at all and 2. Keep a steady pace.

#1 shouldn’t have been an issue, but there is one hill on Centre Ave that always forced me to walk it. #2 was a general rule because I tend to get swept up in the pace of those around me and if I start out too fast, I never get into a proper rhythm.

 

 

 

The course starts out in front of the police station, loops by the junior high, through the cemetery, back out to the police station right around the halfway mark then loops around Island Grove back to finish at the station.

 

 

 

I am very pleased to say that not only did I meet both of my goals, but I set ANOTHER new 5K PR. I had told you I just set a new one a few weeks ago at a different 5K, but I now have a new one again! I’m super excited!

 

 

 

 

That is the face of a very happy Courtney right there. I refused to look at my watch the entire time I ran because I didn’t want to get thrown off by it at all. I maintained a comfortable, but pushing, pace and figured I’d let the chips fall where they may. Not only did I set my new 5K PR, but I also beat my best time at this race by almost 2 1/2 minutes! And at the end, they had cupcakes with glitter on them. Glitter!

 

 

I’m still riding the high off of this race since yesterday. I know that I can push myself out of my comfort zone and even though some days I don’t feel like I’m doing enough, I know everything I’m doing is helping make me better.

 

 

 

 

 

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Spectating The Boston Marathon

 

I’m going to pick up where I left off, when we finished the GOREV event Sunday morning.

Amy B and I were met by our other friend Amy C, who was the one running the marathon the next day. She brought some food for Amy but I had felt pretty sick the last four hours or so of the GOREV, so I couldn’t eat or drink anything for a while. Amy B’s husband came up with their kids to meet us at the finish and she changed into some fresh clothes. I literally dozed off sitting up on the stairs while she was changing. Once we had stopped moving, I lost all adrenaline that had kept me going.

Once everyone got situated, we headed back to the parking lot to pick up Amy B’s car. From there, the two Amys and I drove to my cousin’s house just south of the city. She was nice enough to let us stay there while they were away for the weekend so we didn’t have to pay for a hotel. It was 5 minutes from the T station and it’s not far out of Boston. I think we were able to get in the house and settled down sometime between 10:30-11:00am and Amy B and I were going to get some rest while Amy C did some errands. We laid down on the couches and I think Amy B was asleep before she even finished laying down. I was super restless and still not feeling well and only got rest in 10-15 minute increments. I think I got up 4 or 5 times to either drink or take medicine or whatever. It was not restful at all.

I finally gave up sometime around 1pm and Amy B woke up shortly after that I believe. We sat around chatting for a bit and then all got ready to attend the pasta dinner being held by Amy C’s fundraising team for Brigham and Women’s Hospital. We were thrilled to have a buffet to eat because we were starving, but we all ended up only getting the one plate of food and calling it quits.

 

 

Once we had eaten, we stopped at Target on the way home to pick up some food and last minute supplies for the next day. I think we managed to get to bed around 9pm, but at this point time and days were a blur to me.

Monday morning Amy C got up and got ready and I got up shortly after her around 6am, with Amy B following soon after. Our super runner finished up and then drove up to meet her team and get ready. Amy B and I sat around a bit, had our breakfast and chatted, checked in with people on our phones and then both got ready to head into the city.

Amy C was in the wave to have an approximate 11:15am start. She kept sending us updates and pics and it was really exciting to see what was going on with the athletes. Amy B and I took the T in because driving would have been a nightmare. Our plans we made the night before were to meet her at around mile 16, mile 23 and the finish.

We arrived without much of a delay to mile 16 and starting watching for her based on the text updates we were getting from the BAA and from her occasionally. It was amazing being part of something like that, even just as a spectator. The atmosphere is pure electricity and the sound just never stops. I can’t even imagine running in it.

 

 

 

We got a text from Amy C shortly before she met up with us that she needed some dry socks. We had two runner bags with us that had mid-race supplies and after-race stuff. When she finally came to us, she was soaked through just like everybody else out there. We helped her strip her shirts off and change into something warmer and drier, then she changed out her socks, grabbed some more Swedish fish and kept trucking. She was in some pain from a prior leg injury and had a cough that wouldn’t quit, but there was no way she wasn’t going to finish her first Boston.

Once she took off, one of Amy B’s friends, Adam, took us to near Beacon St where we needed to meet her for mile 23, which should have been where her team cheering area was. There was nobody there. I guess it was team family members and once their runner went by, they were leaving.

 

 

I sort of wish we hadn’t stopped there because that only gave us maybe 30 minutes to get to the finish by T. Yeah – that didn’t happen. We got the text she finished before we even got to the last stop. I was so disappointed and felt like I’d let her down by not making it in time to see her finish. Luckily, we found out afterwards that 3 of her other friends were there at the finish so she did have some support at the end. She did awesome, coming in at 5:16:46.

 

 

Once we knew that we couldn’t see her finish, we re-routed to meet her at Boston Sports Club which was the after destination for her team. Once we got there, we went to the meeting area, but she wasn’t there. We finally got a Facebook message from her that she was in the med room. I, of course, immediately panicked but we asked at the front desk to find out where she was and found her getting her leg looked at and being warmed up. Her phone had been ruined by the rain so she had borrowed a PT aide’s phone to message us.

We got her stuff picked up and she went off to shower before grabbing some food there, then we all headed to the food court in the Prudential Center (where BSC was) to get food because the restaurants in the area had very, very long waits. You would think something was going on in town!

 

 

 

I am so amazingly proud of this girl. She worked her tail off to get there, training through injury and sickness. You did it, Amy! You ran “the fucking Boston Marathon”!!

 

 

 

 

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GORUCK Gorevolution

 

To say that April 18-19, 2015 were life-changing would be an understatement. Let’s just start at the beginning.

You’ve heard me talk about GORUCK before, including the one I took part in back in October. The event that was being held this weekend was a Gorevolution, the second of its kind. It was basically a GORUCK Heavy (24+ hour event), but with a historical twist – we would be following in the footsteps of our ancestors as we walked from Concord to Boston along the Battle Road Trail, Minute Man Bikeway and Freedom Trail.

When they tell you that the event starts at 4am, you get there early. We ended up going to bed later than I planned on Friday night (somewhere around 8:30-9:00?) and I set my alarm for midnight. I knew several people that were doing the event, but was there mainly in support of my friend, Amy. It was her first Heavy. Amy and I stayed at Julie and Dan’s house so we’d be closer to the start and wouldn’t have to drive so far so early in the morning. Once I was up and ready, Amy got up at 1:00 and started getting herself ready. We were out the door just past 2:00 and on our way! We arrived where we were told to park around 3:00 and there was a very nice guy everyone calls Jeans that hooked us up with a ride to the start (about a mile and a half away). We thought we’d have to walk to the start so this was a nice surprise. We were at the start by about 3:30 and just kind of hanging around with others that had arrived early.

All of a sudden, out of the pitch black walk the two Cadre – Andy and Logan. So begins the event. First things first, they lined up to have the roster checked. There were supposed to be 35 people there that had signed up, but only 23 were present. I don’t remember in what order the next two things occurred, but they had their bags inspected to ensure they had the correct weight, food, hydration and safety gear and then were read the rules and precautions to be taken during the event. Cadre Andy then took us shadows aside to advise us on how he wanted us to behave alongside the class.

 

 

 

 

Once everybody was situated and checked in, off we went. The beginning started out deceivingly simple – walk along a little bit, stop at a historical marker, Cadre would tell us a bit about it and then move on. No yelling, no PT yet. This lasted maybe a mile and a half or so as we made our way into Minute Man Historical Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See this picture below? That man in the black coat and evil grin? That would be Cadre Logan. He’s grinning because they are about to bring the suck. Once they got across that bridge, things would get much, much worse.

 

 

 

From here, they needed to get down on the ground to avoid “enemy fire”. They were told to low crawl, roll left, roll right, all while trying not to become a “casualty”. If you become one, you are no longer allowed to move under your own power. In this instance, they had to be dragged by other members of the class to get them to the tree line and cover.

 

 

 

 

 

Once they made it to the tree line, we walked over to the park path to get back to our trek. Not everyone was falling in line with what the Cadre were saying, so some PT needed to be done including up/down with their rucks as well as holding them overhead.

 

 

 

Some bear crawls, lunges and crab walks were next.

 

 

 

 

 

Once we rounded the corner after a quick jog, they got a small break while the Cadre spoke again.

 

 

 

 

Back to the road they went with some low crawls. I thought it was highly amusing watching the runners and bikers come through looking at them like they’re nuts. After that, they played a lovely game called “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” where they had to get up, move for a second, then lay down all to the cadence of saying that phrase.

 

 

 

 

They went around another bend and had another quick refuel and then more crab walks, because it’s fun. After a little more walking, we came across a tunnel where they had to lay down and do 100 flutter kicks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they walked a bit more on the trail, we came to Fiske Hill. Oh, Fiske Hill. They had some fun there. It started out with having to crawl down the embankment from the parking lot into what can only be described as disgusting. They then had to make their way up the hill, stopping here and there for PT and picking up various “weapons” to charge the hill.

 

 

 

 

Near the top of the hill were casualties, so there were lots of buddy carries through here up another short, steep hill.

 

 

 

 

After we left the park, we had a long, boring walk along the main streets until we reached the Lexington Common. We had just missed a re-enactment so we took a break to eat and check feet. We got to see just a bit of the next one starting, but had to keep moving on to stay on track.

 

 

 

 

 

From the Common, we entered the Minute Man Bikeway. There was a lot of just plain rucking on this portion. At times, Logan got them going at a very quick pace. I spent a lot of time shuffle running to keep up in the back. Along the way, they were told to pick up various items like aluminum fence posts and tire rims. Little did they know, they would soon be building “the apparatus”. They would have to use these pieces, along with whatever rope and straps they brought with them, to build some sort of method of transportation for an oil drum that was left on the side of the bikeway.

 

 

 

 

 

We rucked on the bikeway for a long time it seemed and then veered off for a bit to see a few areas of interest before joining back up with it.

 

 

 

 

 

It was nightfall by the time we reached Boston Common. We had another break for food and feet before walking along the Freedom Trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once we were past the Old North Church (one if by land, two if by sea), it was time for some very difficult maneuvering. They were to pick up some items and move them to our next location, which was an extended break at a local gym frequented by ruckers.

 

 

 

Once we got there, they were able to leave those items behind. After our rest period to refuel and check feet, off we went to Fort Washington, where they would pick up more items to be carried all the way to the end in Dorchester Heights to build a “cannon”.

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say that I believe this was the most difficult part of the journey. It was a lot of walking through a closed city of Boston. They had to carry these really heavy items for miles with very few breaks because there weren’t enough people. You also have to remember we’ve passed 24 hours during this trek and everyone was exhausted. The smiles during the first few miles had long disappeared and I watched as zombies shuffled past me. I will admit that there are times I don’t remember getting from one block to the next. I could have been sleepwalking for all I know.

23 started, 21 finished with one voluntary withdrawal and one med drop (who pushed it so, so hard and should be proud). At the end, with the sun coming up, they were handed their patches. Tears flowed, cheers erupted and everyone squeezed each other tight. These are a few of my favorite shots from the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is our GPS that I forgot to start at the very beginning, but that’s pretty close to the actual duration and distance.

 

 

What I witnessed was incredible. People pushing through immense pain, working together to get the tasks done. Tears, sure, but no quit. They didn’t know the meaning of the word. I am so, so proud of every member of that class and it was an honor to walk alongside them.

 

 

 

 

 

14 Comments »

Mini Recap

 

I know that I want to do justice to the events I witnessed this weekend, so I’m not even going to attempt to write my blogs on those just yet. I will say this:  it was incredible. To be a witness to that kind of life-changing stuff is amazing. I am so, so proud of my girls and completely inspired to do more.

Here are a few of my fave pics to hold you over.

 

This is slightly off because I didn’t remember to start it for maybe 1/4 mile or so, but it’s pretty close.

 

At the end of GOREVOLUTION

 

One of me snapping pics

 

 

With the finisher!!!

 

 

 

 

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And Now We Wait…

 

It’s official! I’ve *actually* entered the MCM lottery to run my first full marathon. Holy balls! Now I hold my breath until 3/25. Wish me luck!

 

lottery

 

 

 

 

 

14 Comments »

Thoughts On 2014 And 2015

 

With how low I’ve been feeling lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. People keep pointing out what an amazing year I’ve had, but it’s hard for me to feel accomplished when all I focus on are my failures. I decided to put it into writing so I can look back at it when I need a boost.

2014 was a year of firsts. In order of this year, I did: my first trail race, first 10K, first 10 Miler, first Tough Mudder, first (and second and third) Spartan Race, first half marathon and first GORUCK. This was among other road races and OCRs for a total of 20 races on the year (click tabs to the right to see all races).

Normally, at this time, I’d already be scheduling my 2015 events. I’d like to do less this year. My first two years of racing have seen me do 15 races in 2013 and 20 in 2014. It’s very busy and very costly and I think I need to cut down for both of those reasons. I need more focus. I can’t just register for every race I have the desire to run.

On my radar for this year is the Marine Corps Marathon. That’s it. There are a few others I would like to do, but I need to see how my weeks are going to line up. I’d like to do the Ragnar Trail Relay with my team, plus I have a free entry to Battlefrog OCR that I’d like to use. Other than that, I need to develop a take it or leave it attitude. I’ll be spending much more time supporting friends at races and events instead of running them. I’d like to keep rucking with Carry The Fallen, as well as become a shadow for GORUCK events that include my teammates and friends.

I have high hopes for 2015.

 

 

 

 

28 Comments »

Minor Blog Entry, Major Announcement

Yup, I’m still here.   😉

I’m popping in today to make a pretty big announcement. I need some accountability and what better way than to announce it to the interwebs?

Through a great deal of thought and an even greater amount of peer pressure, I have decided I am going to throw my hat in the ring and sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon next October. Yes, you read that correctly – marathon.

I must be completely insane.

Now is your time, runner friends – PLEASE give me all of your best tips, tricks, advice, etc. The first step will be actually getting in since it’s a lottery system (that I just found out yesterday), but I am starting training for it next week. Lay it on me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29 Comments »

I’m Still Here

Contrary to popular belief, I have not been abducted by aliens. What I have been dealing with is a lot less fun. You see, I’ve talked about my anxiety before, but not much about my depression. I feel like, who wants to read that stuff. I figure people just want to hear about the fun races and events I’ve done, how training is going for any given thing or about one of the many fandoms I love. Then I think to myself, this is my blog. I can write what I want and if people want to read it, they will. If they don’t, well, at least it’s been purged from my brain.

So what’s been going on with me? Well, I’m trying to focus on feeling better. I’d be lost without Tara and “the girls”. They are my support system x 1000%. They get me out of the house, out of my head, distract me and whatever they can do to help me. I’ve had a few events lately, which I’ll throw some pictures of below, but haven’t felt much like being around the blogging world right now. I’ve started seeing a new therapist and once I start feeling a bit better, maybe I’ll be back much more often. For now, I might try to just aim for my Friday posts (which I haven’t even done). Baby steps.

Before I share some of my events, I wanted to share two videos. The first, I heard about through a running blogger I follow. It’s worth the 8 minutes to watch because he describes what I’m feeling almost perfectly. The second video is a song I recently heard shuffling through Spotify and it has almost perfect lyrics for me right now.

 

 

 

The last post I did was about my event on 11/8, which was Carry The Fallen. That is still such an amazing thing to me and I can’t wait to do the next one in March. A few days later, the girls and I got together for a Paint Night. For $35, we got to do a painting of Starry Night – my all time favorite. It included all the supplies we needed, plus two drinks.

 

 

A few days later was an event I had waited all year for – the Spartan Stadium Sprint in Fenway Park! I didn’t get to run with my girls, but I had a great team of Battle Buddies to run with from the Spahtens team. We got to run on the Green Monster, though the visitors clubhouse and dugout and around the warning track in the outfield. It was an amazing experience but pretty nerve wracking because of how many people were jammed into the park throughout the day. Did I mention it was flippin’ freezing that day??

 

No biggie – just the top of the Green Monster!

 

This past weekend, Tara and I and a couple of friends signed up to volunteer at Operation Holiday Cheer. It’s run by the Lt. Governor in RI and is a two day event taking in donations to send to RI troops overseas and then packaging and shipping them the following day. We signed up to take in the donations on Saturday, which would have been from 9-1, but we ended up leaving around 12:15-12:30. The donations were slow this year, sadly. Tara and I have done this before and the last time we did the bins were overflowing with donations. While there were plenty of people that volunteered to help, there just wasn’t enough coming in for everyone to stay, which is why a lot of people left early.

 

 

And finally, I have some new ink I wanted to share. I had pinned this quote on Pinterest months and months ago because I really liked it. I feel like it suits me between what it means and my love of the ocean. I felt like now was just the right time to get it done so I finally pulled the trigger. It’s my Christmas present from Tara.

 

 

I hope everyone is doing well. Stay tuned – same bat-time, same bat-channel.

 

 

 

 

 

17 Comments »

GORUCK Light Class 481

** I would like to note that this post will be extremely wordy, with very few pictures. Due to the horrible weather conditions, we had no one to “shadow” our class and take any pictures. I’ve got as many details as I could remember in there. **

 

These patches are earned. You can not buy them. Now let me tell you how I earned mine…

 

 

Let’s start at the beginning. A group of my friends from Unleashed all decided they wanted to do a GORUCK together. Several of them had already done one (or many) before, but we also had several rookies sign up, myself included. It says right on the website that “If you can do a mud-run or a 5K, you can do Light. Our Cadre will introduce you to the power of a team. You will also smile. A lot. We promise.” Since I train so much, and the event that was chosen would be after my first half marathon, I thought sure, why not and signed up during their Christmas in July sale for only $37.50.

I figured I had 3 months to get ready for this madness and would train really hardcore after my half was over. The events were almost exactly a month apart. What I didn’t plan on was injuring myself during the half since I had trained following the plan to a T. I was definitely concerned when I had the peroneal tendinitis because when it first happened I could barely put full weight on my foot. Thankfully, doing everything I could, I was able to walk normally and do a little training prior to the GORUCK.

Prior to Saturday, we were picking the brains of our friends who had all done one before. What to pack, how to pack it, will this work, will that work, etc. Finally, it was suggested we have a “packing party” so they could see what we had and help us out. I’m SO glad we did this because one tip I got about taping all of my bricks together and laying my yoga block flat might have actually saved the day for me. During training, I had the yoga block standing on it’s side and I had 2 bricks strapped together and the other 2 together, but not attached to each other so essentially they could shift. At the last minute, my friend Amy suggested taping the two 2-brick packs together so I decided to do it since I trusted her judgment and thank you for that!!

During my training, I threw a 4K (almost 9 lb) kettlebell on top of the bricks in my pack. I’m also super glad I did this because once I put in dry clothes, food, water, etc my pack ended up coming in around 28.5 lb with the bricks only being about 18-19 lb of that weight. We all took down some pointers from Amy and Corrine – our resident experts – and I think us rookies did OK!

 

 

I’m also glad we had this little “party” because while Chrystal was looking at my ruck in the picture above, Keisha happened to notice something fall off. Turns out, it was one of the clips that pulls my ruck in tight to itself, compressing the contents within and making it sturdier. It looked like the strap had never even been sewn in properly! Without time to get another one taken care of through Amazon, Tara took it to her mom on Friday and she was able to sew it back on and save the day. I never had any issue with it during the event.

Now that I’ve bored you to death with a little background, let’s talk about game day. I’ll just start with the weather forecast. In one word, it was Misery. 80% chance of rain, temps with highs only in the low 50s, oh, and we’d be on an island. Good times. I got up at 4:30 with the plan that everyone local was meeting to carpool to the ferry and would be at my house at 6:30. Tara got up, being the team “den mother”, and baked some pumpkin bread and cinnamon braids from scratch. There was no way I would be able to keep something like that down, being as nervous as I was, so I had my typical pre-race fuel: a bagel w/ peanut butter, banana and coffee.

Around 6:15 or so, Christine showed up with her friend Steve that was joining us. Everyone else trickled in slowly after that. Some ate some food, some took a potty break (drink all the water, pee ALL THE TIME!) and we finished packing up what we needed for the day. We decided there being 7 of us, we’d take 2 cars. I had Christine, Steve and Stephanie in my car and then Amy drove with Chrystal and Corrine.

 

 

Normally, with traffic it can take anywhere from 45-60 minutes to get to the ferry in Narragansett. It only took us about a 1/2 hour to get there, which is good because we ended up leaving 15 minutes later than we planned to catch our 8:15 high speed ferry to Block Island. Once we got there, we paid to park and walked over to wait for the boat. We ended up meeting two of our soon-to-be teammates, Jordan and Joel, and then another Unleashed friend Chris met us there with his friend Josh. I can only say that shenanigans followed and we probably annoyed half the people on the ferry on the way out there because we were all hyped up. I know I personally didn’t stop talking the whole time because I was so nervous.

 

Photo credit: Christine Dion

Photo credit: Christine Dion

 

The boat ride out wasn’t that bad, only slightly choppy due to the weather. I know some that would disagree that don’t enjoy boats very much, but we didn’t have any hurling so we’ll count that as a plus! Once we arrived, we found some lockers and got ourselves prepared to take only what we needed. It was about a 1.5 mile walk from the ferry landing to Veterans Park, where we were instructed to meet our Cadre – Logan. A GORUCK Cadre can only be a Cadre by being a former Special Forces member of the military and have participated in a GORUCK before (I’m pretty sure that’s right, but correct me if I’m wrong).

Once we left the landing and started our march to the park, it didn’t take us long before we were soaked to the bone. The rain was pretty unrelenting and damn cold. I was glad I had 3 top layers because I needed every last one of them. I led the way there with Chris because I had checked out where we were going earlier in the week. I looked at Google Maps and Google Earth to get a street view. The roads were easy enough to follow, but the street view image was very confusing and only made it worse once we actually got there. As I had seen online, there was only a dock and a large house, which I think was maybe a bed and breakfast. When we got there, there was definitely no park so I walked over and found a woman walking out to her car. She said we just needed to go back to the road we passed maybe 100 feet prior and go up it and we’d see the cannon in the park shortly after that. She said Google isn’t very reliable when plotting the island, which apparently was true. It only took us another couple of minutes to get there after that.

 

Photo credit: Christine Dion

 

Once we arrived, we realized we had a lot of time to kill. We found the best tree we could in the park and all penguin huddled underneath it to stay as warm as we possibly could in the conditions. At this point we were basically all shivering uncontrollably and hadn’t even started yet so I was a tad concerned. A little while after we got there, Jordan and Joel showed up, as well as Rich, Emily and Kim who had taken on the GORUCK Challenge the night before (for 10 hours). I don’t know how they found the strength to do them back to back, but they amazed me. So here we were, the 14 members of GORUCK Class #481 – ready to rock and roll.

Cadre Logan drove by shortly after and gave us a thumbs up and a smirk. It was at that point I went in to full blown panic mode, wondering what the hell I was doing on this island, in this weather, with bricks on my back. He circled around the park and drove off to park his truck. Once he arrived back to us, he had us line up and gave us a short introduction about himself and what we were about to embark upon.

There are three certain rules which were to be followed at all times – your ruck never touches the ground and you need to remain at roughly arms length apart. If you were to get too far away from anyone at any given time, you could possibly become a “casualty”. The last was that you always needed a buddy. You were never to go anywhere without someone else.

After our intro, it was time for us to embrace the suck. GORUCK Light had begun. We started off with basic PT. We did flutter kicks with our rucks on our chest, mountain climbers, push-ups and seated military presses with our rucks. Don’t forget – if we’re not holding the rucks, the rucks are on our backs. Once we finished PT, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. It was so tough, but only tougher because of how cold and wet we already were. This was the first point I seriously questioned what I was doing here and wanting to stop right then. I didn’t know how I could possibly make it through several more hours without knowing what would be coming next.

Next came log PT. There was a lovely pile of logs next to the small building in the park. So convenient, so nice of them to be there. We were broken up into teams based on height. He picked each team and then picked a log for that team to work with.  We then lined up and did some exercises while holding the logs – pick them up, put them down, curl them by bending in half at the waist and then back up, then we lifted them up and over from one shoulder over our heads to the other shoulder. That last part was the absolute hardest part for me personally. We worked well as a team though, so that made it a little easier.

From here, Cadre Logan asked us for two volunteers for the first mission. I volunteered to get it out of the way. I don’t enjoy being a leader so I figured I’d just get it over with. Stephanie volunteered to do it with me, so he took us aside and told us our mission. He said we needed to move 3 logs from the park about 2 miles and asked us how long he thought it would take us. Stephanie suggested 32 minutes. Since I use humor when I’m anxious, I thought I’d be funny and suggested 32:54, just to give us slightly more time. He told us that was fine, plus he gave us a few minutes to brief our team on what our mission was and then to get moving. I was called the PL (which I believe was “platoon leader”) and Stephanie would be my APL (assistant PL).

Stephanie and I were not allowed to carry the logs, so they had 2 less people to work with, but the same size/weight logs. I also carried the flag. The flag is always up front and never touches ANYTHING except the person carrying it. Our jobs were to make sure we stayed together as a team, never separating too far, and if someone needed a break to call it out. We were never allowed to walk on the road unless otherwise instructed or someone could become a “casualty”. This would prove to be a bigger issue for me than one would think. My foot/ankle was already still bothering me prior to the event, but walking on uneven terrain, tipping my ankle inward, made it much, much worse.

We followed the instructions given to us by Cadre Logan. He also had told us during our briefing that we would be allowed one map check and one time check during our journey, to make sure we ended up where he wanted us to go. We found what we thought to be the right road, but it appeared to just sort of end at some docks. We were going to use the map check, but I think he took pity on us realizing we were so close to where he wanted and just told us we should probably check out the road. We ran down together and left the team with the logs. We ended up finding some stairs at the end of a driveway and they led down to the beach he wanted us at, so we ran back and led everyone down there. We made our time goal!

He had us leave the logs where we were and we all walked down to the small beach at the bottom of the stairs. He filled us in on his time with a diving team and how they only had certain instruments to guide them underwater. We knew it was inevitable we were about to get even more wet and sandy. He had us all line up single file and link our arms together. He then had us step forward, or backwards, adding to the torment just a little. Once we were in the water, we then had to do flutter kicks. I inhaled more than a few mouthfuls of water on this one with the waves coming up over my head. We then turned and did some push-ups and sat and did more military presses. We all then had to turn and face the water, get down on our knees and stick our heads underwater.

Once he finished with us in the ocean, he had us line up 2 x 2 and squat. He then instructed us to pick up handfuls of sand and throw it up in the air. When he instructed, we would change directions (left, right, forwards, backwards) but always tossing the sand with both hands. It was at this point I thanked my friends for suggesting wearing a hat! It totally protected my face from getting tons of sand in my eyes or mouth.

When we finished on the beach, we had to walk the logs back to the park. At this time, Cadre Logan told Stephanie and me that we were fired and asked for two new volunteers. I should probably mention, only rookies can be PLs. At this point, Chris and Josh took over. We had to get the logs back to the park and then march down past the park to Cadre’s truck to pick up some water jugs – 6 total. These were 5 gallon jugs I believe, and if my math doesn’t fail me, this means they weighed over 40 lb each.

We were told that we needed to march the water jugs to the end of Graces Cove Road. We didn’t know how far it was, but we had 45 minutes to get there so we needed to keep a quick pace. I started out carrying the flag and then cycled in to help carry the water jugs here and there. Everyone tried to give people rest who needed it if they weren’t carrying anything. I should mention we had also now picked up our team weight – a sandbag – which needed to be carried as well.

We made our time to the beach at the end of Graces Cove Road and this is where I was basically ready to throw in the towel and had my meltdown. My friends kept checking in on my throughout the march because my ankle was bothering me more and more as we went on. I didn’t want to be that diva, the weak one, the whiner, so I would just kind of shake my head when they would ask how I was doing. We got down to the beach and were then told it was time for “Logan’s Run”.

Logan’s Run was a nightmare. Essentially what it was, was that we would run down to a fixed point (in this case, a large boulder on the beach), touch it and run back to the start point. This would be our standard to measure the rest of this portion of the mission. Each time we ran after that first run, we had to run it with the water jugs. If we beat our initial time, we got to put down one jug. If we didn’t, we picked up a jug.

Our initial run was 40 seconds. We lined up with the jugs and ran as hard as we could. It’s at this point I should mention that we were not running on packed sand. Oh no, this was straight up soft as it gets sand, making it all that much tougher to run through. I knew there was no way I could carry anything while running with my ruck on so I purposely never took one and felt really guilty about it, but it only got worse. With each sprint we did, I could breathe less and less and my ankle was screaming more and more.  I don’t remember how many we had done, maybe 4, when I threw myself across the finish line to make sure we made our time. I didn’t want to be the reason we picked up an extra jug. I couldn’t get up. I vaguely remember heading “take her ruck!” and feeling people take it off my back, and unhooking the straps on the front, but it was all kind of a blur after that. I know my friends took my arms, my hands, anything they could and helped me finish out those last few sprints. We beat every time – we never picked up an extra jug. All of that is thanks to my amazing teammates. I cannot thank them enough for that moment.

When we finished Logan’s Run, he gave us a brief moment. I do remember at one point we almost had a casualty because someone was alone without a buddy. He then had us line up, arm in arm again, right in front of the water. He had us doing the step forward, step back torture again and we were sure we were going back in. At this point, I probably wouldn’t have minded it because I LIKED being in the ocean. It actually felt warmer than being in the freezing rain so I enjoyed it.  Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. After a few steps forward and back, he told us we had 20 seconds to grab all the jugs and run them back up the rocky trail that led to the beach. We barely made it up.

Chris and Josh were “fired” at this point. He then asked for two more volunteers. Things got confusing here. No one volunteered, and I’m not sure what happened, but we all ended up being instructed to get down and do flutter kicks. He then asked again and Chrystal stepped up, but no one else. He told us we were then going to do mountain climbers, but we all realized there was only Chrystal left that hadn’t done it. For some reason, it was thought that there were 6 rookies. We didn’t have to do the mountain climbers since that was the case.

This is where the bargaining began. We were told we had to march back to the park, however, in order to get any time we had to bargain with casualties. He said we could have 2 casualties for 20 minutes apiece. This meant we had 40 minutes to get back to where we were before. The catch was, we got to pick one person while Cadre would pick the other. We picked Amy because she is small and light and then, of course, Cadre picked Steve who was the biggest, heaviest dude we had in the group. Chrystal was instructed that she could only carry the team weight (sandbag) and nothing/no one else. We were given a couple of minutes to coordinate and then our time started.

We didn’t start out well. It’s very tough to have so much stuff and even less people. Due to my stupid friggin’ foot, I started out cautious. I took Amy’s ruck and wore it on my front and carried the flag. This way, she was lighter for whoever carried her. As we marched along, I helped out as much as I could, grabbing the handle of a water jug here or there or whatever I could do. We were picking out points in the distance and saying we would walk to the pole and take a break, or walk to the tree and take a break. It was just tough and we were zapped and, after 40 hellish minutes, we finally just ran out of time.

It was bargain time again. This time, we were told we could have 5 minutes per casualty. We opted for 2 since we thought we were pretty close and could do it in 10 minutes. This meant we now had 4 people to be carried, none of whom could help carry all the stuff we had. We worked out the next 2 casualties and trucked on. With about 300 yards to go, we ran out of time again – we took 2 more casualties for 10 more minutes and knew we needed to get it on this final push.

At this point, I had a ruck on my front, my own ruck on my back and would have to carry 2 water jugs as well. There was no escaping the math. I took the two jugs with straps tied on them figuring maybe I could have them over my shoulders, but that just didn’t work. I tried to Farmers Carry them and fell behind VERY quickly. I was in the back all by myself, nothing left in me and the Cadre was next to me. I asked if I could drag them and he said yes, on the grass only. I said hell yeah and let them fall to the ground and dragged those bastards as fast as I could. We had to cross two streets, so I did have to carry them again briefly, but the dragging made all the difference. I never would have made it if I had to carry them straight up. Towards the end, I ended up swapping a water jug for the final street crossing and took someone else’s ruck in exchange. We were SO tight on time by the time we got back in the park. I don’t know what it was, and I remember he told us, but I was just so happy that hell was over.

He had us put the water jugs over to the side and had us line up single file arm in arm again. I remember thinking I don’t know how much more I can take because I barely made it back. It was at this time he said congratulations, we were done! I couldn’t even believe it. I just remember the BIGGEST hug from Amy and I didn’t want to let her go because I was SO happy it was over. We all stayed in line and Cadre came to each of us individually and shook our hand while giving us our patch. I’ve said it over and over – of all the medals and race shirts I’ve gotten over the last two years of racing, this is my most favorite “bling” ever!

All total, we covered about 5.5 miles and took around 4 hours 20 minutes to finish. Below is a graphic shared by one of our team members on Facebook.

 

Credit: Rich Erwin

 

These are my teammates. Without each and every one of them supporting me, this never would have happened.

 

Photo credit: Christine Dion

Photo credit: Christine Dion

Photo credit: Christine Dion

Photo credit: Christine Dion

 

While I’m elated at finishing, I wish I contributed more than I did. I did everything I could that my body would allow, and even more because of them. Would I ever do another one? At this point, I say no. I don’t like feeling like a failure. I’m my own harshest critic and this was really hard for me. Really, really hard.

Thank you to Amy, Christine, Chrystal, Stephanie, Corrine, Steve, Jordan, Joel, Chris, Josh, Emily, Rich and Kim. I will forever thank you whenever I look at that patch.

 

 

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Face The Music Friday #55

So basically, my week consisted of lots of this:

 

 

Whether it was outside, on the elliptical, in my living room – it involved my ruck. You see, tomorrow I take on my first GORUCK Light. To say I’m nervous is an understatement. I’m trying to figure out ways to just pump myself up. This video will show you some of what I may or may not be undertaking. No one knows how long, how far, or what will be done in a GORUCK so…yeah. A “Light” consists of 4-6 hours, 7-10 miles – those are our rough estimates.

 

 

I’m keeping it short and sweet this week because I have a lot to do between getting everything organized for tomorrow and then working the rest of the weekend at the Scituate Art Festival to help Julie sell her Jewels by Jules.

If you have already donated to my fundraiser for Active Heroes, thank you! If you would, please continue to share and get the message out there. Word of mouth is just as powerful as a donation! We have a few more weeks until I ruck march the Boston Marathon route and I would love to reach my goal by then and give them as much help as we can.

This week’s musical selection will pump anyone and everyone up for anything – I don’t care what you’re doing. If this song doesn’t get you revved up, you may be broken. Have a great weekend everybody!

AC/DC – Thunderstruck

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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