Monday, April 23, 2012

Enjoying a bit of a break. :)

Range 37 cool-guy antics

Since my last outing, I have since begun to down-shift my efforts and have found myself in a perpetual off-season mentality.  I thought it prudent to do so given the amount of abuse that I have subsequently put my body through within the past few months.  No worries, though.  I fully plan on kicking it back into gear as soon as my school semester rolls over in the beginning of May.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working out although it has dropped to a mere bi-weekly experience.  It’s been kind of nice, actually.  I’ve been able to concentrate on, not only school work, but getting my yard prepped for the summer months to come.  Yes – I’m a lawn ninja.  I take great pride in keeping my yard looking pretty, maintaining the lead in a somewhat passive competition with my neighbors.  I find it fulfilling and, ultimately, relaxing.  It’s pretty gnarly to kick unequivocal and metaphorical ass on a daily basis in more than just one way -- even if it involves measuring the PH level of your Bermuda grass… What? Forget I said that.  Don’t judge me.

I’ve also been keeping a pretty low-key residual signature on facespace.  I think I’ve bombarded peoples’ feeds enough within the past month or so.  I’m sure even you, one of my avid followers, would agree to some extent.  That’s not to say that I haven’t been keeping up with things, it’s just that I’ve been a little less vocal.  I’ve somehow managed to collect a small gathering of followers – I feel that… well…  I feel kind of weird about it.  Not to sound too humble, but I feel that I really don’t deserve the following.  I’m just doing what I’ve been doing for the past year.  I just saw an opportunity to do a good thing so I took a hold of it.  As I mentioned in previous blog(s), I’m not done yet.   I have recently devised a new challenge; one that should be just as fulfilling, challenging, and powerful as the last endeavor.  I have tapped an elite few to help me facilitate said challenge.   It should be pretty gnarly.  I will not release details until the day of the event (or when my teammates and I decide when is best) but I will be dropping clues as to what to expect and when the time is right, I will drop the time and location of when this will take place.  I assure you that it will be easily accessible and if you can make it, I invite you to come watch.  So, without further ado, here is the first clue:

If you know what this is, keep it to yourself.  It’s supposed to be known by a certain type of person.   Of course, even if you did decide to blab it out, there’s no way you could ascertain why I have shown a picture of this or what is to come.  Stay tuned.

There are quite a few of you out there that I look up to; that motivate me and drive me to be a better person today than what I was yesterday.  For that, I thank you.  I’ve never been the religious type at all but I, nevertheless, feel ever so blessed to have you in my life in one regard or the other.  You all know who you are and some of you may not realize that I feel this way about you.  If you’re reading this, odds are you are probably one of those people.  So continue to be awesome and carry out the plan of the day.

As of now, I am still debating on whether to do the SERE Performance 60-to-60Memorial Day Ruck to Remember.  It’s really a matter of scheduling deconfliction with work and school.  There will be a lot of awesome people there and if you have a chance to do it yourself, I suggest you do it.  Keith Jolly will be facilitating and hosting the event so you know it’s going to be good.  If you have any inquires, feel free to email me.  I’d be happy to fill you in.

I’d also like to send a quick shout-out to Ms. Amanda Czapla for, arguably, for bestowing on to me one of the most moving and profound gestures of my life to date.  For those of you who don’t know, Amanda sealed her second official Spartan Race victory this year in Charlotte NC; the very one that I ran in.  For her efforts, she was awarded the coveted and extremely sought after, Spartan Helmet.  She ultimately decided to send the helmet to me via snail-mail with a note.  It simply stated:

“You deserve this more than I do. Thank you for being such an inspiration. Best wishes on your continued success. Until the next Spartan Race… Aroo!!!
Kindest Regards,
Amanda Czapla

I had not even opened the foam casing around it.  I already knew what it was.  When it finally sank in, I began to weep uncontrollably.   First off, I’m a dude.  And if a dude cries, it better be for a good reason.  Secondly, I’m a Marine.  If a Marine cries, it had better be for a damn good reason.  I felt my emotional reaction was fitting.  I had, before all of this, felt guilty in some regards for my efforts.  As if maybe too much attention had been drawn onto me when it should undoubtedly be shined on Wounded Wear.  Until that moment, the length of my efforts had not really sunk in – it’s tough to explain.  I’ll just leave it at that.  The bottom line, I am indeed thankful.  And I know my buddy Nate had a hand in this too.  To Nate: Sorry I couldn’t answer the phone when you called just after the posting; I really was a hot mess.  Class act, all around.  I feel privileged to have shared the same field with you, Amanda. Thanks again.

As always guys, thanks for reading and hope all is well in your neck of the woods.  Take Care.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Become powerful beyond measure.

Without a doubt, this past experience to raise money and spread the awareness of Wounded Wear has been one of the most humbling of my life.  From the ground up, I have so many to thank.  But the person I want to thank most is my girlfriend, Jessica.  She has absolutely put up with me and the insurmountable amount of obsession that I put into my efforts to ensure that I kicked this challenge in its metaphorical nuts.  She was there during the whole weekend dealing with mixed feelings of boredom and legitimate concern.  She’s a gem and I am so lucky to have her by my side.  Jessica, thank you, and I love you with all of my heart.

This blog won’t be too profound.  What I would write has already been said, recorded on video, or spoke of in another blog.  I will just say that I am just getting warmed up.  My efforts to increase the awareness of both our wounded veterans and Wounded Wear are far from over.  Please spread this around where you can, when you can.  I’m not asking you to clog your friends’ feed up, but this will be my focus for the foreseeable future.  Expect to see something crazier in the upcoming months.  I have a few elite people included in on its planning process.  And I mean elite. 

You all will question my sanity and the sanity of my teammates when it’s all said and done… or perhaps you already are.  If you are, turn your head because it’s going to get pretty ugly.  Below are the video and recap of the event itself.  We managed to raise about $2500.  From just friends and family, that’s pretty damn good.  Thank you to all of you who donated; I know money is always tight – especially after the holidays and during tax season. 

The fight continues to spread the word.  Don’t fool yourself – this is a fight.  This country needs a good soul-cleansing and an unwavering appreciation of our wounded veterans is a good start.  Use these words and this video as a weapon to do so.  It’s up to you guys.  I am but one man.  So talk about it, blog about it, facespace it… you decide.  

Thank you, again, to all of you for your support. 

On race day, I did six laps total.  That includes the Hurricane heat on Saturday morning.  It took us about 3.5 hours to finish it.  We got done with that at 9:20 or so in the morning.  I still needed to eat and replenish my fluids.  I did that an washed all of the excess mud off of me.  Lap two for me started at around 10AM.  This was obviously my fasted lap.  I think, total, it took me an hour and a half to finish it.  After got back, I knew I needed to eat but had to just chug a bottle of Powerade and take off.  My friend John Henry was fighting off some serious cramps but decided to do this heat with me.  Three was bad.   I basically forgot to eat and felt it after about half way through.  My blood sugar dropped like a rock.  John Henry kept me going but just making small-talk, pithy jokes and such.  Once I got back I had realized that because I slowed due to my blood sugar dropping, I wasn’t going to be able to do five heats total in that day like I had wanted to.  I took a “break” for about an hour. 

I ate a whole bag of Simple Granola, drank a couple cans of Kill Cliff, changed clothes and I was a new man.  I killed my fourth heat.  I probably passed half of the field from the previous heat (@3:30).  I coasted on in and Eric Ashley, one of my heroes, had been checking in on me and personally gave me my fourth medal.  It’s pretty cool when a person that deeply inspires you, gives you a medal.  And chatted with me for about an hour afterwards.  Super cool guy and he gave me some awesome advice.

One of the biggest challenges laid before me and that was waking up the next day and essentially doing it all over again.  My entire body was bruised, cut-up, rubbed raw — my hands had blisters and splinters.  My feet and knees sounded like a bag of popcorn in the microwave.  But my alarm clock that was set for 5:15 that morning didn’t even get a chance to go off.  I was up at 4 just stretching, pacing and re-hydrating.  I was amped.  Ready to attack it all over again.  The only thing that was stressing me was what I had planned for the final lap. 
Another huge challenge was getting over the mentality of what qualified me as “a finisher.”  That was huge.  Usually, you show up, STFU, get your medal, pass around a few high-fives, drink some beer and go home.  That wasn’t what was in store for me.  As happy as it made me to see all of these new, and very elated, Spartans, I still had a mission to accomplish.  And I sort of had to block all of that out.

John Henry decided to do my fifth lap with me on day two.  That was a HUGE morale booster for me.  Anytime you have JHE next to you, it’s going to be a good day.  While we were running, we chatted about how the last lap was going to go down.  I preemptively bitched about every hill and every obstacle knowing full well that it was going to hurt and it was going to be super tough.  JHE’s standard response:  “Yea, that is going to suck.”  My body was pretty shot at this point so it was indeed all mental.  JHE and I coasted in at just over two hours.

For the final lap, I had about 40 minutes to get changed, feed myself, and gear up.  Just to antiquate it, I had a 20 pound vest, a 30 pound ruck, and (the killer) the elevation mask.  I got a lot of concerned looks on the way to the start line, to say the least.  But I had my elite entourage covering my six: John Henry, Todd Sedlak, and a guy that I ran with at the HH – John Powers.  I’m not going to lie, I walked at a 3.5 mph pace the whole time. 

From previous training, I knew that the mask, when I had all kinds of weight and gear strapped to me, basically restricted my breathing down to barely acceptable levels.  I had to really concentrate on my breathing.  I felt so lightheaded just moving from one obstacle to the next.  I honestly don’t know if I could have made it without my guys– I have a strong feeling that I would’ve had to ditch the mask.  Every hill was a battle.  My muscles fatigued faster than they ever had – I felt kind of useless at points.  There were a few points where I had to take the mask off and take a knee. 

The guys were always patting me on the back: “You got this, man.  This is all you.”   There were some obstacles that there was just no way that I was going to complete it with all of my gear.  To avoid burpees, Todd, JHE, or Powers would do it for me and we would move on.  The low-crawl through the mud under barbed wire was unequivocally the worst.  Todd and John pushed me and Powers helped me drag my ruck.  We moved pretty quickly considering the circumstances.  A lot of the racers had stopped at the end to make sure we all made it out ok — or perhaps they just wanted to see the show that was unfolding before them.  The biggest problem that I was having was trying to keep my mask opening from going in the mud and, thereby, cutting off what little air that I was taking in.  So I had to look sideways and up; not comfy in the least.  And at this point, the mud was at its worst consistency.  Just slick as can be and full of rocks and roots.  I am most confident that all of us walked away from that pit bleeding from at least three areas on our body. 

When I put the ruck back on, it weighed at least fifteen pounds heavier.  That’s something I did not train for.  I just had to suck it up and drive on.  The funny thing is all of the guys were telling stories and making jokes the whole time and I kept laughing in my mask.  That screwed my breathing up but kept my spirits high the whole time.  We kept pushing forward. 
I stopped and took my mask off when I knew had less than quarter mile to go and still in the woods.  I heard the announcer and music playing in the not-so-distant background.  I caught my breath again and thanked those guys from the bottom of my heart.  I could not have gotten this far without them.  And there was indeed a small part of me that, even when I started, thought that I would end up failing.  They, in turn, thanked me for letting them be a part of this.  Are you fucking kidding me?  “You’re thankful?  No I’m thankful!”  We could have argued all day and night but, at that point, it had been BEER:THIRTY about two hours ago so we shoved on.

The rest was history.  We worked through the last few obstacles. And made it to the fire and the floating platform that led to about 75 meters of open water to cross.  Todd and JHE had an epic battle with the pugil stick Spartans at the end.  They pushed them completely off the raft.  I had tripped on the rocks and fallen on my face, hitting my head as well.  Exhausted and confused, I look over my right shoulder while seeing double (and trying to catch my breath yet again) and saw John Powers reaching for me with an out-stretched hand and calling my name. I grabbed it and the flag that I had dropped and jumped onto the platform and back off of it.  My Marine Corps training kicked in once I was submerged; I immediately donned the mask and sank to the bottom with all +50 pounds strapped to me.  I pushed up off the bottom but didn’t even reach the surface before JHE and Todd had snatched me up.  They hoisted me up over their shoulders and I had the flag in my hands.  It was pretty emotional. 

The guys were still thanking me but with cracks in their voices.  “For what?  Having you babysit me for the past 4+ miles?”  They set me down about ten feet from the water line and I was able to walk it in with fifty or so people gathered around and screaming.  It was tough not to get emotional. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

SWCC guys are cuddly.

So unless you’ve been living under a rock or just don’t pay too much attention to Facebook – something that I should probably aspire to do more myself – I am putting together a fundraiser for a 501c Non-Profit Organization known as Wounded Wear.  The organization is great, to say the very least.  They do a whole gamut of things.  For one, they offer a wicked-cool clothing line that spreads the awareness of wounded veterans.  I will admit, at one point in time, I pretty sure I paid these guys’ electric bill.  I love it – clothing that’s cool and acts as a constant reminder of the presence of our wounded among us, even for our most obtuse neighbors.    They also hand out completely-free clothing kits to our wounded vets.  So if you go to their website, there’s a place you can go and submit your information and Wounded Wear will send you a Wounded Wear bag full of goodies.  I had the pleasure of hanging out with Dan Jacobs, a local WW Rep in Jacksonville, and he broke out one of these kits and showed me everything that comes with it – blown away.  He told me each one costs about $250 to build.  It comes with assorted t-shirts, sweats, polos, a jacket, the WW duffel bag that it comes in, and a few other items.  Wounded Wear’s other primary mission is to provide, at no expense to the vet, civilian clothing and military uniform modifications.  Just as an example, if a Marine who has been wounded and has some sort of crazy apparatus nailed to his body or has a newly fitted prosthetic limb, and said Marine wants more than anything to be able to go to the Marine Corps ball with his wife, Wounded Wear steps in and hooks that Marine up and teams up with a tailor to make his dress blues from the ground up.   And trust me: the annual Marine Corps ball is important to us… very important.  I can continue to talk and write for days about how awesome this organization is but I shall spare you.  If you want to know more, please feel free to visit their website at

Lt. Jason Redman -- Founder of Wounded Wear
As far as the fundraiser is concerned, I have been blown away by the contributions that have been made thus far.  For those of you who have contributed, I personally thank you.  I am looking forward to finding something to give back to those who have contributed.  If you have not yet and wish to do so, please visit my site and donate there.  The fundraiser is going hand-in-hand with a self imposed challenge.  The challenge is to complete as many laps as possible in a two day period in at the Carolina Spartan Sprint.  It should be good.  For those of you who know what it is, I will be completing the Hurricane Heat as well.  Needless to say, I will be one tired puppy dog by the end but I can’t wait.  I have also opened the door to pledges.  If you wish to make your contribution size indicative of my output, email me and let me know who you are and how much you would like to pledge PER LAP completed.  I will annotate that info and get back to you once the event is done. 

 Well as most of you know, I am fresh out of my latest weekend event: The GORUCK Challenge in Raleigh, NC.   I must say that the event, as I expected, was the biggest gut-check that I have had to date.  It took place in downtown Raleigh and began roughly at 2200 on a Saturday evening.  There were 21 of us crazies formed up and fresh off of our “ruck-off” which, in essence, is a dinner gathering that we as a class have in order to get to know each other before we start on our journey.   It was roughly an hour before we started when we met our cadre, Patrick.  Patrick was pretty low-key as he handed out our “zero-liability” waivers for us to sign.  After that, and a quick introduction, we were off and on our way.

We started at a pretty hard pace with buddy carries around the neighborhood.  We weren’t sticking together as a team so Patrick put us into crab walks for a while and then bear-crawls.  A few laps around the general area and we began to jog.  We weren’t sticking together again so more crab-walks ensued.  I had, up to this point, realized that my brand new Mystery Ranch Crew Cab was not designed for this; of course, it would be asinine to think so.  The frame was applying constant pressure to my jugular and exponentially cutting off blood supply to my head.  In short, it was a perfect blood choke.  I remember seeing a small group of drunks lingering outside a bar and things just went black – I had passed out.  When I came too, I couldn’t see anything right away.  I saw those proverbial “stars” that one sees when you regain consciences and hearing everyone around me assuring that I was OK.  I was OK, but I was PISSED.  I don’t know why really.  Perhaps I regressed back to times when I was in the Marines and had came to after passing out – usually it was to the tune of gunfire and smoke but  at other times, it was to the tune of Marines giggling because of some sparing exercise that I just refused to tap out of.  Either way, I got back up and we moved forward.  I’m not going to lie, I felt a little emasculated.  And it’s ridiculous to really feel that way.  That little scenario could have happened to anyone.  I also had a wicked little headache that ensued but no worries; I had crammed a couple of aspirins in my pocket beforehand.   I took a couple with a swig of PowerAde in my camelback so I was OK after about an hour.   If there is one thing that I can state is my “Achilles heel,” it is headaches.  I regress back into being a whiny child with a shit-filled diaper, in a sense.

The evolutions seemed to repeat themselves for the next five or so hours: running, push-ups, crab-walks, bear-crawls, etc.  We were indeed all smoke-checked.   It doesn’t really matter how good in shape you are, if you ever do a GORUCK Challenge, you will get tired… fuck that… you will become exhausted.  That’s the point though.  You will ultimately have a chance to make that choice of whether to continue or not.  As I intermittently looked around at my classmates, it seemed that we were all on the same level.  Some were faring better than others, but overall, we all seemed to have that look of doubt about ourselves – doubt about our own abilities.  I felt a whole lot better after our first break.  It lasted about ten minutes and it was just to catch our breath and pull some fluids.   Keep in mind that one of the long-standing GRC traditions is that once you strap that ruck on, it does not touch the ground.  And God help you if it does.  It was after that break that we really started to act as a team.  And the second lesson sank in: no one challenger is stronger than all of the challengers.  Teamwork was severally reinforced.  So there was that.  And it was comforting.  To know that the guy to your left and right are going through the same shit as you and I inherently began to wonder if anyone was having serious thoughts of quitting.  Again, nothing but truth here: the thought had crossed my mind.  It was interesting, to say the least.  I’ve never considered quitting anything before.  It was a mental demon that I came to terms with and, in turn, began to care less about myself and more so about my newly acquired ruck buddies.  As we began to move again, I couldn’t help but digress back into negative land.  The fact is that we hadn’t even moved that far; perhaps a mile or so.  I knew that our evolution, in total, would equal out to over twenty miles of this stuff.  So I had to really compartmentalize my thoughts and, furthermore, stop worrying about the future and just work one step at a time.  Sound’s easier that it really was, I assure you.

For the next couple of hours, it was mostly running again but with a twist.  Indian Runs!  Now, for me, this is something that isn’t to foreign.  I did them all the time when I was on active duty for PT.  But therein lies the rub; not many folks there that night were former or active military.  Maybe twenty percent of us – and that’s stretching it.  No harm, though.  We did a few push-ups (a few means a hundred or more) fixed ourselves, and moved on.  The desire to be a team was there, it was just us getting the gears oiled up that which was taking some time.  We had all night to get that worked out!  After a couple/few hours of those shenanigans and gaining some real ground, we stopped for our second break and were given a task.   Patrick had built and briefed us on a mock TRAP mission.  For those of you who don’t know, TRAP stands for the Tactical Recover of Aircraft and Personnel.   It’s the type of mission that occurs in reaction to a friendly aircraft getting shot down in enemy territory.   There’s much more to it than that but, in essence, our mission was “to go to a specified location, recover any equipment, and egress to an extraction point.”   It took us about thirty minutes to get to the location.  Once there, we discovered that there was a manikin dummy playing the part of personnel and a log that acted as our equipment.  The log, just to put it into perspective, weighed about 900 pounds.  That’s a guess, of course.  You be the judge.

 We had to move it and the dummy for an untold amount of miles to the Exfil point.   The important part is, we were given four hours to do so.  We rolled in at about four hours and fifteen minutes.  Fail.  Sprints for everyone.  After the sprints, Patrick had us climb over twelve foot fence into a softball field, low crawl the length of it to the second fence, clime over it and egress back to our location.   Afterwards, Patrick lectured us about our inability to commit to a plan when it came to how the log would be carried and the system that we used to switch people out.  The lesson:  carrying the log was going to suck no matter what but what was really important is that we embraced the fact that it was going to suck, and just get the job done. 

After that, we carried the log for an additional hour or so – you’ll have to forgive me but details allude me at this point given that we were all so exhausted.    But it was at this point that the sun began to come up and with it, so did our morale.   We eventually ditched the log – I cannot confirm nor deny that we left it is some poor bloke’s yard.  Whatever… it makes a sweet lawn ornament.   Certainly beats some of the crap that yuppies put in their yards these days.   From there, we regressed back to our starting point.  Final stats: 12.5 hours, 21 miles.  The best part was that we started and finished with the same number of folks.  Up until this evolution, I was of the Darwinist mindset that if you want to be weak and quit, then do it.  But I remember that a few of our team mates needed to be talked off the ledge of quitting in the very early hours of the morning.  I was sincerely glad that they decided to stick it out.  I really, truly am.

I discovered that my journey for fitness needs to continue to progress.   I have always felt that I have been in the top ten percent of my peer group when it came to my fitness level but these guys (and gals) that I was with were champs and some made me look like a soup-sandwich in comparison.  All-in-all, I had a great time and I am looking forward to my next one.

So, as I have already stated, my next event is in just a few weeks.  A Spartan Sprint with a twist and, in conjunction, raising money for Wounded Wear.  It’s a great organization guys; seriously.  Just check them out.  I am looking forward to it.  I feel that this journey of mine has just stepped it up a notch, to say the least, and it feels good to be able to give back.  I’ve already thrown this offer out there on Facebook but haven’t gotten any hits back but if any of you guys want to provide support on the day of the event, I would greatly appreciate it.  As always guys, thanks for reading and following – all 400+ of you!   

Monday, February 13, 2012

Embrace that suck.

Before we get into this week’s entry, one of my fellow SERE peeps, (and former Marine) Eric DeAvilla, is raising money for the Leary Firefighters.  I know, I know... former Marine and Firefighter?  LADIES: Maintain your composure!  He is competing in both Death Races this year; the winter death race and Spartan Death Race.  So, in short, this BAMF needs your help to raise five thousand dollars.  He’s already a quarter of the way there.  He promised that if he meets half of his goal before the winter death race in March, he will sport an MARPAT Desert Kilt (picture below) during the Spartan Death race… Needless to say, we NEED to help make this happen.  For realz…  Please contribute what you can. Click HERE.
Stop licking the screen, ladies.

As many of you already know, I am still in the prep stages for my next event: The Raleigh-NC GORUCK Challenge.  Given that I only have about two weeks to go, it’s proven to have been a wise choice to do the SERE Performance event in Washington D.C.  With the physical and mental challenges that we endured and along with mental bouts that come with doing something that has never been done, I feel that I am all but fully prepared.  I know that it will be a tough evolution, as all GRC events are.  I also know that my humble disposition for the challenges I take on will continue to grow; for I know that the challenges that I face currently, they will most assuredly fall within the shadows of the Death Race when that time comes.

I learned quite a bit about where I stand in my journey at the SERE Performance challenge.   I have a far better understanding as to where I stand physically.  And mentally, for that matter.  There will always be things when it comes to physical endurance in which I can improve on; always.  But I also learned that your physical training will only take you so far.  No matter how good of shape that I may be in, there will always come a time where I am completely worn out and I will still have to push myself to continue.  Sometimes for just a few more hours, perhaps even days depending on the level of the challenge that I take on.  But the largest challenge is that when you take on some endurance events, you have no idea what’s coming next or (here’s the kicker) how much further you have to go – how much more pain you will have to endure.  You MUST put it in your mind that you will succeed, no matter the costs.  The most successful athletes that I have met have an opposite approach that what you think.  Rather than wonder what it would take to “break” them, they just continue to challenge themselves and causally wonder: “Will this stop me… Nope?  Okiedokie then… next!”

So I have officially been tapped by the powers to be a SERE Performance Scout.  Whoop-whoop!  J  This entails me to promote the events that are currently on the docket and to also “scout” out areas where a possible challenge could be done.  My plan is to get one of the operators down here one weekend and do some boots-on-the-ground action in Wilmington, North Carolina.  I think it would be a great place to facilitate maritime challenge.  I will be sending up a healthy amount of documentation, PowerPoints, and pictures to the SERE operators.  If they like what they see, then it’s just a matter of getting the folks to take on the challenge.  Good thing I have a boatload of ideas pouring out.  If you are interested, let me know.  I put you on a notification list and let you know if it gets approved.  But don’t expect any inside information to be given – it wouldn’t help you anyways.  I’m excited because this is, in essence, what I do for my job – it’s just formatted in a different shade.  And I’m good at my job.  Really good.  J

Although this may seem counter-intuitive to my previous paragraph but I have decided to pump the breaks on my journey.  Just a little.  My journey to the Death Race, albeit rewarding and very exciting, is starting to take its toll on my life and my responsibilities at home.  I will still execute the events that I have signed up for this year and believe me, there are a good number of them.  But I will begin to shift my attention on my family and loved ones a little more.  And I don’t even really know what that will entail just yet.  As of now, it’s nothing more than a mental note.  For those of you who know me, when I get my mindset locked in on something, I’m unstoppable.  I have, as of late, become obsessed with this journey.  Bad things can come from obsession.  I shall personify this thought with a funny video:  J

             On that note, I shall put an end to this for the day.  As always, I hope all is well with all of you and I know I haven’t said so but I really appreciate the moral support I’ve been getting from you guys.   It means a lot.  Until next time.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inspiration: More important than gold.

"They fought together as brothers in arms; they died together and now they sleep side by side...To them, we have a solemn obligation — the obligation to ensure that their sacrifice will help make this a better and safer world in which to live."
-Fleet Admiral Chester William Nimitz

Well, I am back from my Washington D.C. event.   The staff, support, and operators from S.E.R.E. Performance certainly did put on one hell of an event; one of which, will not leave my memory anytime soon.  And let us be real, this was their “Beta” event which means it was the first of its kind.  Our class number was, after all, 001B.  There were a few bumps in the road but it was to be expected.  It was a frozen mixture of two elements; those who showed and didn’t know that they would actually have to work and the fact that this was, as I have stated above, it was SERE Performance's first shindig.  But for those who toughed it out and hung in there for all sixteen hours of the gruesome and cold evolution, you are awesome.  And for those of you who did OPCON (the special event after the event), I honestly look at you guys and realize that I have a lot of growing up still to do.  You are the tough of the tough.  Throughout the event, I had a great time and I met some of the gnarliest people.  It’s folks like these that inspire me to be better than I am doing and to continue to push myself farther and farther outside of my comfort zone.  I would like to take a moment to thank each one of these that most deeply inspired me or perhaps they just made me giggle.  But for those of you who know me best, you typically cannot do one without the other.    

Adam Bell:  You, sir, proved your expertise and worthiness of that sweet beard that you so proudly sport.  I knew, even before our proverbial kickoff, that it would not take long for us become friends.  There were times when we were up front together, leading the charge, that you seemed almost completely unscathed by the elements and the fifty or so pounds that was strapped to your back.  I most vividly remember crawling through Rock Creek with frigid, thirty-degree waters thinking, “if I can keep up with this guy, then I am doing just fine.” 

Amelia Boone:  Your personality and demeanor absolutely bleed a “get-it-done attitude.”  Most of you may not know, but Amelia has this thing where she pukes when her body is sleep deprived; “C'est la vie”, I imagine, would simply be her response.  She was our class leader for most of the way.  There are few things that I can think of more inspiring than a woman leading the way from the front of the formation, barking orders when needed and intermittently puking whilst doing both… “I’ll take a heaping serving of humble pie, please.”  You are a certified bad-ass, madam, complete with a killer attitude that I will aspire to for years to come.  Team Douche-sparkle!!!  Amelia has a blog as well.  Read it here:  .

John Henry:  You were certainly the sexiest piece of man-meat that I have met in recent memory.  Your DGAF (Don’t give a fuck) attitude, your unprecedented work ethic, and absolutely selfless attitude spoke volumes about you.  On more than one occasion, John would throw someone else’s ruck on top of his own and carry it for the next few miles to give his class-members a break and doing it all with the biggest smile.  He’s probably one of those guys you could tie down to a chair and torture but he would most likely still be making jokes about your fat mother until his last breath left his body.  I look forward to our next event together (GORUCK Raleigh).  I’ll bring the beer, you bring your sexiness, and we shall own the night.

Lynn Sarner-Lena:  The word “cavalier” would fall short if I used it to describe you.  Lynn actually turned 41 the day before the event.  The amount of ass that she kicks seems to correlate with her age; it’s a scary notion, really.  If she continues to go on the path that she’s on, she will probably rule the world.  Lynn also took on a cancer-awareness challenge this month where the objective was simple; complete five thousand push-ups in the month of January.  Lynn decided to quadruple that… that’s right; twenty thousand push-ups.  Please take a moment to let that sink in… If you need to get up and get a drink of water, I will not fault you.  I hope that you will let the world know when you hit your mark, Lynn.  If you ever decide to do something like this again, please let me know.  I will match whatever you put out, even if it kills me. 

Ivana Perterkova:  Even in the midst of the calamity in our Facebook group, I knew that you were going to be one of the few that were going to absolutely rock the event.  If at any time you felt cold, tired, hungry, or a combination thereof, you did not show it.  Every time I looked over at you, you seemed to be smiling.  I’m glad that you and I got to chat for a bit on the last few miles of our trek and I hope that our competitive paths cross in the future. 

Mark Webb:  You are just an all-around-cool dude.  I actually got sick of you volunteering for everything that came down the pike.  You were always pushing forward and you’re pithy one-liners made everyone smile.  You are undoubtedly the closest representation of the framework of an athlete that I hope to one day evolve into.  You can be my wingman, anytime.

Sherry Post:  I am so glad that I got to meet you in person.  I not only respect you as an athlete, but as an avid business woman.  Thank you so much for shadowing us and providing us with some of your delicious granola.  My morale shot through the ceiling after consumption.  The only thing better than your granola are your hugs.  If you can figure out a way to bottle those, you’re going to be a millionaire.  For those who are aspiring athletes, such as myself, or just someone who is trying to get back into shape, Sherry’s line of “Simple” products are the perfect catalyst.  Visit her website to find out more info at : .  Oh – and I promise I will get that work done for you, Sherry!  

Mr. Smith:  I just wanted to give you a shout-out and thank you for doing this thing with me.  Smith is a personal, close friend of mine and took leave from his daily grind as a USMC Sniper instructor to come up to D.C. with me and keep me company.  Smith does what we did in D.C. on a daily basis; operating in clandestine environments for long hours and with little nutrition, sleep, or support.  It’s guys like you that make me miss the Marine Corps every day.  You just keep being you and doing what you do.  Oh… and DIIIIIICCCCCKKKKKKKK……..  Sorry, inside joke.

"Dry socks would be sweet right now."

I will not, unfortunately, be going into detail as to what we did as a class that evening.  You just need to know that it was tough, long, cold, and ultimately rewarding.  We started late at night and finished well after normal lunch-time.  Many signed up; fewer finished.  We even had to medevac a guy who went balls-deep into hypothermia.   I fully intend on continuing forward with any challenge from S.E.R.E. Performance that I can get my hands on.  I hope that within the next couple of years, I will have completed all that they offer and perhaps, one day, work with them as a S.E.R.E. Scout.  Time and the measure of my efforts will only tell. 

But it’s not just completing a challenge that is rewarding.  It’s locking step with those like-minded individuals and finishing as a team.  That is something that you cannot put a price tag on.  As “Actual” would say, “Individual accountability is paramount but teamwork is essential.”  In essence, you need to be locked-on so you can worry about the guy/gal to your left and right rather than feeling sorry for yourself.  I learned a lot during the event.  And as S.E.R.E. Performance promises, not only will you get one heck of a challenge, but  you will also learn small bits of information that will help you survive in a bad situation.  In this challenge, I learned that over packing is the first mistake that many make.  I certainly made this mistake myself.  You need to separate what you NEED from what you WANT.  What you need is hardly anything at all.  Humans, by nature, are resilient creatures and I think that we have forgotten that.  And I think that we have become complacent.  In retrospect, I can’t believe that I took some of the things that I did; or some of the things that I even considered to bring (like that stupid wetsuit).  This particularly bothers me because I used to be a master at field craft.  I have obviously lost my touch but I think “Actual” and his operators will straighten me out.  Thanks, again.  Until then, I have this nifty survival bracelet to show-off.  Sorry, it's only earned... never for sale.  :)

I still have the GORUCK Challenge coming up in a few weeks.  I am ready.  Any lingering doubts that I may have had about my abilities were smashed into a million pieces this weekend.  I’m really digging this lifestyle of constantly reestablishing my boundaries.  If you are wondering what the GRC is all about, they finally had a professional video made.  Thank goodness; it gets tiring trying to explain this stuff over and over again.  So watch the video below and enjoy.  Until next time, guys, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

'Bang, OUT!

          So here I am just a few days out from my first cadre-driven event.   It is the S.E.R.E. Performance Basic Course in Washington D.C.; Class number 001B – The Frozen Chosin Few.  To be honest, I haven’t been this nervous in recent memory.  It doesn’t help that our group page, where the team does pre-event coordination, is an absolute mad house.  The general concerns and fears from my teammates are just absolutely bleeding through their respective posts.  Here’s the best way I can describe it:   it’s like a dark room where forty people are shoved into but as soon as everybody gets comfortable and adjusted, someone from the outside opens a door, throws a flash-bang grenade, and shuts the door.  The product of this is simply everyone freaking out and scrambling.  It’s of no fault of either party.  On one end, you have a group of elite operators (From S.E.R.E.) just doing their job and giving people their money’s worth.  On the other hand, you have your participants, such as myself, who just dig a challenge.  But this event, again, is the first of its kind.  So therein lies the rub.   Most of everything is unknown.   Naturally, everyone freaks out about the unknown.  If you believe in aliens, zombies, or ghosts, you should be able to relate to this on some arbitrary level.  I may not have been voicing my concerns on the group’s page at all, but my concerns are substantial and I am certainly letting my brain get the best of me. 
(Myster Ranch 3DAP)

On a physical level, I full-heartedly believe that there is little that you can do to prepare.  I have been going on hike/runs with my ruck along with my regular workout schedule.  After 3-4 hours of running with a +/- 50 LB ruck on, my body is certainly barking at me.   Experts say that a lot of what is done physically is, indeed, mental.  It’s simply putting one foot in front of the other even though every part in your body is telling you to “Stop!”  I’ve certainly experienced this on some levels in my life but I don’t consider myself an expert.  The side that is really beating me up is the logical or cognitive side of preparing for the event.  The gear list is pretty concise.  And a great deal of what I am taking is to deal with the cold.  The biggest mind fuck, I think, is not IF, but when we will get wet.  Furthermore, I am wondering if I should bring a wetsuit.  The ruck I have purchased for this event is filling up FAST.  Under the recommendation from the operators at S.E.R.E. Performance, I recently purchased a three day assault pack (3DAP) from a company known as Mystery Ranch.  I have, nonetheless, been very happy with my purchase up until recently.  It is probably my fault, ultimately.  I should’ve known better.  But the pack purchased only has 2000 cubic inches of space.  My 32 pound “Equalizer” (20% of my body weight in sand) has taken up a considerable amount of room leaving a lot less room for other things.  I originally planned on wearing a wetsuit (2.5 mm Shorty) the whole time to keep me warm.  The problem with that is that once it is wet, it will weigh a considerable amount as well as an ever-shrinking space issue.  So now I am contemplating just wearing one set of clothes the entire event and toughing it out thereby allowing my ruck to remain a little lighter and, furthermore, relying on our own momentum to keep me warm.  Now remember, I’m a former Marine GRUNT; if there is anyone that is certified in shoving ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag, rest assured, it’s guys like me.  So no I am going back and forth with not only debating on bringing a wetsuit, but switching out my ruck entirely and going with my old-school ALICE pack.  I love to prepare and prepare well in advance but I believe that this will be something that will be decided upon the day of the event.  It’s just a shame that if I do ditch my newly acquired ruck from Mystery Ranch, it’s $400 down the drain.  I could very well use it for other things, but the fact remains that I purchased the MR 3DAP for this event.  I will probably end up breaking everything out and anything that may or may not go and potentially do a full dress rehearsal; complete with full water submersion.  I think that is the only thing that will ultimately quiet the voices in my head.  J

(Equalizer / Pill Assembly)

I am still very excited about the event.  I will certainly know where I sit in my journey to competing in the Spartan Death Race next year.   My weaknesses will be exposed for the world to see, including me.  And that is a piece of mind I am willing to put myself through hell for.  It may sound a little dramatic, but… yea… that’s how I feel.  I will do my best, put out for my team, embrace the suck, and (most importantly) keep myself smiling and laughing with my arsenal of jokes and pithy one-liners.

In other news, I have recently applied to a reality TV series known as UNBREAKABLE.  Spartan Race Head Quarters has teamed up with these folks to film a single episode within an eight episode series.  From what I read, it sounds like they are going to attempt to put 8-10 people through a three day grueling race event that strongly mimics the Spartan Death Race.  I submitted a package with all of the information that they requested but instead of writing a brief paragraph, I submitted a video of me talking about myself.  Uh, awkward…  I will never do that again.  Plus, I only meant for the damn thing to be a couple of minutes long.  Fail.  It ended up being over ten minutes long.  I think they will reject me out of spite for making them watch me talk about myself for ten minutes.  I really have absolutely no desire to be on TV or to be famous in any way, shape, or form.  I really was just looking for another challenge.  Plus I thought it would be pretty cool.  If you want to support me, you can vote by clicking the following link and casting your vote:

                I am a little reluctant to show that video but perhaps I will do just that on my next posting if I can chum up enough courage.  As well as this next event, I am also very excited to get to see my Grandpa and Grandma Beth in Maryland!  I love you guys and I can’t freakin wait to see you!  IT HAS BEEN TOO LONG!

Once again, thanks for reading guys and hope all is well with you and yours.  J 

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Frozen Chosin Few.

   I certainly do apologize for being out of touch with you guys.  I have been scrambling to prepare for my next event.  I do not recall a time in my life where so much money has flown out of my bank account in just a short period of time.  That, in conjunction with the holidays, has left me counting pennies just as it has for you and your shopping endeavors.  I have quite an unexpected surprise for you guys.  But first, check out what one Spartan Racer did to show his support for Spartan Race HQ.  He created a wicked-awesome video that gives me chills every time I watch it.  Check it out:

Cool, huh?  Motivated?  Let’s get on with it.

Around early December after my event in Tough Mudder event in Tampa, a new type of event was brought across my computer screen on Facebook.  The owner of, Paul DiMarino, found a new challenge known as S.E.R.E. Performance and posted about it.  The website,, displayed very little information about their events.  When I first looked under their “S.E.R.E. Events” tab, each event simply gave a Lat/Long grid and a time for the event to start.  Oh wonderful.  I could already see that this was going to be a very unique challenge.  I took the first grid coordinate and plugged it into Google.  It dropped a pin in downtown Washington D.C.  The date: January 27th.  What time?  It starts at 2200 (10:00 PM).  So I have a location and a time.  I then asked myself, “what, pray tell, is this event all about?”  I began to search the website.  It’s very well constructed and very intuitive.  I clicked on their “About S.E.R.E” tab.  It simply stated: 

“S.E.R.E. Challenge is like no other. Our focus is survival through self-reliance. Emphasis on team will be obvious as nobody can survive alone but individual accountability is paramount. ALL will be tested physically and mentally.”

Very well.  I further learned that they offer four different levels: Basic, Advanced, Elite, and Xtream Survival Challenge.  Oh, how lovely.  I checked back to the previous page.  The event in D.C. was a Basic level event.  Back to the info page.  What can I expect for the Basic level challenge?   

“A 12+ hour urban mission based adventure that will test you physically and mentally.  The focus is on team building and individual performance in the areas of strength, endurance and agility – This is a “fun” but not for everyone challenge. Survival is paramount in all S.E.R.E. challenges and you learn the basics here.  The hardest part of S.E.R.E. basic is signing up but you are required to know how to have fun in the extreme ways you are looking for.  More information will be emailed to Challenge participants prior to the challenge date. However, for planning purposes the challenge will start on Friday January 27 at a Rally Point in Washington DC beginning at 10 pm.  Plan for 12+ hours of fun but always be prepared for more.
That is it.  No other information provided.  Furthermore, the class in D.C. is the first of its kind.  So I was essentially signing up for something that no one has done before.  A few of us jumped at the chance.  It really didn’t take much for me to take the leap.  If you offer challenge and a taste of something I’ve never experienced, I am your Huckleberry.  After about ten of us signed up, a fellow member decided to start a private group on Facebook so we could collectively communicate.   One piece of information was missing:  “What the fuck do we bring to this shindig?”  A day later, the powers-to-be, posted that a gear list would be displayed on Facebook for approximately five minutes and then removed.  Most of us were already nervous; this just through gas on that little fire.  We quickly organized a few people to watch the S.E.R.E. Performance Facebook page overnight.  Sure enough, the gear list was posted and taken down at around 0200 EST.  A gal from the group snagged the gear list from the post with a quick copy and paste action.  Only one problem… the gear list was posted in Mandarin Chinese.  Luckily, it was easily translated through Google.  

So it was set.  I now knew where to be, what time to be there, and what I needed to bring.  I am currently signed up for S.E.R.E. Class 001B.  I am very nervous but very excited as well.  We have been dubbed as “The Frozen Chosin Few.”  We are simply a small group of forty people who dared take the leap into the unknown.  The challenge group “S.E.R.E. Performance” was founded by a Marine named "Actual" from "Over the Rainbow" and is the lead cadre at this event… or so I believe.  I really do not and will not know much until I get there and complete the event. 

 (I didn't do anything to this photo. That apparently just happens when you try to take a picture of him. Strange...) 

As far as gear is concerned, I have spent well over $1k for gear.  A new ruck (military backpack), cold weather gear, new shoes, and other assorted gear that was required were all purchases that recently occurred.  I am fairly certain that I will be using this gear in the future for other challenges so I don’t feel as if it will be a waste.  

My workouts have increased dramatically; both in intensity and time.  Some of my future team mates are very well known in the Adventure/Obstacle race community as well as the GORUCK community.  I very quickly evolved into the “little fish” in the group as folks signed up.  I certainly do not want to be the weak link.  That, I think, is my biggest concern. This looming thought forced me to get up on my latest Sunday off.  I loaded up my Mystery Ranch 3DAP (Three Day Assault Pack) with all of the gear that I will be carrying and I decided to go for a little trek.  I picked a starting point on Camp Lejeune, had Jessica drop me off, and I ran/hiked back home.  I did a binary rotation between a fast walk at 3.5 mph for ten minutes and a slow run at 5.5 mph for five minutes.  The total distance was just over 12 miles and the ruck itself weighed in at just less than 57 lbs.  Details on where I went and how fast/slow are below if you click the link :  
I’m not going to lie, I am a hurtin’ puppy dog today but I plan on doing the same thing next Sunday only with a longer distance ( If you care to join me, just shoot me an email).  It should be interesting.  I will keep you updated in the form of one additional post before the event. 
I have been receiving a lot of emails and messages about this blog; mostly from people that I do not even know on a personal basis.  If you have been spreading the word about my efforts, thank you.  But I am merely writing this blog to connect the dots for you; my personal friends and family. 
I’m sorry to be so short but I must get back to work!  Thanks for reading and following!