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. 


  1. Awesome work James! I ran the same HH heat you were in. If you ever need a teammate for a future race let me know! email:

  2. I will do that! Were you apart of Team Beard??

  3. Pure awesome bro! - You continue to inspire...