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:  http://raceipsa.blogspot.com/  .

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 : http://simplefuel.com/ .  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.


  1. Odgen! J.O.!! Whenever u need a friend, an ear, an arm, some simply amazing all natural body food... I'm right here! U inspire me! I will work on a bottle or bucket hugs and smiles someday! Glad u enjoyed the simple granola and fuel... I read this blog and it moved me... everyone in our adventure group and community has amazing camaraderie! See u at next event!

  2. good write up. I am friends with many of the people you met there, some listed above. You nailed them. I've got a GORUCK on feb 18 and SERE San Diego on 3/2. Aroo.