Good Livin'

This post is slightly long, but it tells the story of our Saturday. Which, surprisingly, has nothing to do with the Kentucky Derby even though we're in the same city. Instead, it's the result of all of Josh's silly "backpack full of bricks" training he's been doing lately. Sorry it's long but it was a long day and I didn't know how else to blog about it ;) 

I stayed awake for 22 hours on Saturday. That might be a new record for me. I shadowed the GoRuckers on the GORUCK CHALLENGE! Let's just go ahead and let me explain what the GORUCK CHALLENGE is (taken from the GoRuck website): 

The GORUCK Challenge is a team event, never a race. Think of it as a slice of Special Operations training where – from start to finish -- a Special Operations Cadre challenges, teaches, and inspires your small team to do more than you ever thought possible. Leadership is taught and teamwork is demanded on missions spanning the best of your city. The hardest part? Signing up. We recommend signing up with a friend, but you don't have to. Either way, you will leave with 29 friends for life. You will show up to the start point with water, wrapped bricks, and a rucksack full of anything else you need. You will meet your Special Operations Cadre there, and then it begins. You will stay with your team the duration of the Challenge. Your Cadre will be with you the entire time until the 30 individuals have become one team and earned the GORUCK Tough patch.

For us, this translated to 19 people, it lasted about 12-13 hours and covered 21 miles. It started Saturday morning at 1:00am.

Yes, 1 o'clock IN THE MORNING.

Josh said to me about a week ago, "You're going to shadow us and take pictures, right?" Which I thought meant I was going to be driving around following them and occasionally getting out and taking photos. I also thought I'd meet up with them at a reasonable hour, like noon when it finished... or at least 9am or so when there was daylight ;) But nope. They were not allowed to have cell phones and the only thing they knew was the starting location, so there was no way for me to know where they'd be to meet up with them.... SO I had to follow them them, BY FOOT, from the beginning if I was going to at all! I was actually more excited about this than the thought of driving it! I hate driving in Louisville.

I made it 18 miles with them before my foot gave out. It was perfect timing because one of the other guy's fiance had called me to see where we were to meet up with us, so I caught a ride back with her. I missed their last little 3 mile trek back to the park where we started, but I was pretty proud of myself for making it as far as I did. I've never covered that much distance at once before, so I thought that was pretty cool! And now that I know what I'd be getting myself into, maybe I'll sign up for one of these myself! Maybe.

But anyway, on with the ruck!

The group met at the designated meeting spot. Everyone was ready... had their ruck sacks, head lamps, some had slept and some hadn't, but they were ready to go!

This is how Josh feels about me that early in the morning apparently ;)


At 1:15 the Cadre still hadn't showed up. We thought maybe we got the meeting spot wrong. It's not like a race so they don't have a big start line set up or anything, plus it's dark so it's kind of hard to know for sure you're in the right spot. Especially because we were supposed to meet on a street called Dingle which no one had heard of before! But two guys on the team had done a GORUCK before, and they assured us that everything was fine and sometimes the cadres like to show up a few minutes late just to keep you on your toes.

By 1:45 they still weren't there, and we were thinking, "This is so weird!!!"


And then my phone rang. A number I didn't know. At almost 2:00am. Weird. It was the cadre! Turns out, he was in the wrong meeting spot. They had changed it a couple times because the GoRuck headquarters had failed to think about all the Derby events that were going on (our new meeting spot was actually right next to the Brownstable Brown Gala party which a lot of celebrities attend... we didn't see any though),  and the cadres didn't get the memo. I was seriously baffled as to how these guys got my phone number.. it's not on Facebook and even if it was I'm not associated with any of the GoRuck groups, so I was REALLY confused. We finally figured out it was because I was Josh's emergency contact. Duh. It just so happened to be that I was actually with the group, because if I wasn't I don't know what good I would have been since they weren't allowed to have cell phones. But Josh and Pat went to pick them up and all was well by 2:30!

They started off with a "Welcome Party" which isn't as much fun as it sounds. There was no partying involved. It was a bunch of PT (push ups, squats, flutter kicks, partner drags, and other team building exercises in a dark field) and then we were off on their first mission! Had to make it 4.5 miles across town to the Big Four Bridge in 70 minutes. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Don't forget, they had to carry backpacks full of bricks and a team weight. Don't worry though, they made it!

Then Cadre Mike decided that 5am at 55 degrees was a perfect time for a dip in the Ohio River.


I felt so bad for them!! It was chilly when we weren't moving and I knew that water had to be freezing.


Even worse when he made them go UNDER! Crazy! After that it was time for some drills at the park!


They were trying to rest their shoulders. Something about a 40+ pound ruck sack on your back for hours kind of gets to you.


Finally some daylight! Good morning, Louisville!

After some drills and more PT, they had to get a log from the riverbank and were off on their next mission... approx. 4.5 miles across town to the hospital! WITH THE LOG.


Also on this mission there was a "casualty" which meant that one person had to be carried the whole time. Didn't have to be the same person, but one person's feet had to be off the ground at all times to simulate the dead body.


I felt so bad for these guys. They were really giving it their all... switching out on the log as often as necessary to give each other breaks, switching out the body carries, and who was carrying the team weight and the flags. I really wanted to help them, I would have carried anything but I wasn't allowed :(

Finally the hospital was in sight! One last push up the last hill and they made it with only seconds to spare!!! (Luckily, they never failed a mission... didn't want to know what happened if they did!!!)

Of course, they had to do push ups but after that we had a small break, then they rolled the log down a hill into traffic (don't worry, traffic was clear!) and said goodbye to it forever!

At the start of our next mission, Cadre Mike took a turn down an alley and made everyone get on their faces! It was hose time! This seemed evil to me... everyone had finally dried out after the morning dip in the river and here he was spraying them with a hose. Let's not forget it was chilly outside (~55-60 degrees) when we weren't moving and being wet didn't help! He didn't just sprinkle them either, he put the hose down their shirts and everything! I felt so bad! (I am so not tough enough to go into any branch of the military. I would cry.)


The rest of the day is kind of foggy to me.

I know at one point one of the other shadows (there were 3 of us) got hit near the eye by a falling tree branch. A lady ran out of her house and asked if we needed help, so she went with her. The other shadow, Amanda, and I stayed back with her until we were sure she was fine, and then we "sprinted" 2.5 miles to catch up with the group. We missed most of this mission since almost as soon as we got there, we were off on the next one.


CrossFit coaches Renee and Case making it look easy!

 This was their last location, and the one where my feet (most specifically, the left one) said NO MORE PLEASE. Josh was the team captain, or whatever they called it, for this mission. Basically he was the one in charge of it.


At this point it was a little after noon, pretty steadily raining, and definitely seemed like it was getting colder. My IT band and the arch of my foot had been hurting for awhile, but on the 4 mile trek to this spot it was almost unbearable. I was trying not to think about it too much because I knew if I felt this way, these guys had to be miserable. However, when Leah showed up (one of the other guy's fiance) I knew it was probably smarter of me not to further injure myself and just get a ride back with her. Plus this way I was able to see them when they got back and if I had followed them I'm sure I would have been way behind them! I was kinda bummed to miss the last 3 miles, especially because I thought it would be really cool to say I did at least 20 miles, but 18 is pretty good too :)

Congrats to all my GORUCK TOUGH friends!!! I'm glad I was able to experience most of it with them. It was awesome to see everyone come together and work as a team, to put others before themselves, and to really dig deep when things got tough. I'm so proud to call these people my friends.

This is a mostly complete group shot.. we forgot to get one  right when they finished. For some reason, I think all they could think about was putting on dry clothes! They were all miserable at the end, but are already talking about the next one! Some of them even want to do different levels... they have GORUCK events that last 24-48 hours or more... crazy! Personally, I think I will start with a GORUCK Light version.. about half the time and distance of what these guys did. Who's with me?! ;)