Big Daddy’s Wisdom: GRL 230


I arrived a touch late to this event and lined up expecting the usual welcome party PT session. Cadre “Big Daddy” John introduced himself, told us his background, had us do a little PT, then told us to remove our left shoes and follow him.

WTH. This has never happened before. Game on.

All of us hobbling along in one shoe, doing our best to keep up with his aggressive pace. We hit a stop and were given 20 seconds to get our shoes back on. Mental note, look for boots that tie more quickly. 

Back on the move as Cadre lead us down to the river for the real welcome party.


We started out with 5 and 10 second “bottom samples” where you hold your breath under water for 5/10 seconds as you grab a soil sample from the river bottom. I HATE putting my face in cold water, but pushed through as well as I could.

On to the bank to do the more common PT, burpees, mountain climbers, running or crawling up the hill and back.


We went back out in the water, and were told that if we could do a correct 5 and 10 second bottom sample, we would be done, could leave the water, and move on to the next challenge. As much as I hate it, I was not going to be the weak link on this team.


I tend to count quickly when I feel like I’m drowning, so I didn’t trust my own count for time. I held my face under until I heard those around me breaking the surface. Cadre was satisfied, and we were off.

We moved down the river searching for appropriate logs.


We ended up with a lady log, a test-your-manhood log, and…


Yes, that is a concrete parking stop.

Off to our destination, changing out carriers as we could, across the bridge into Kentucky.


Cadre continued to pick up random heavy objects for us to carry along. Sandbags. A concrete block.

We got to our fist destination, 10 minute break, flutter kicks as penance for missing our time hack, new team leader, new destination.

It was a brutal carry. It got worse when we had to carry everything down a set of stairs.


Cadre John then sat us down for a little talk that would have a huge impact on many of us. I cannot attempt to do justice to it here, may try in a future post. He talked about how we need to break through fear and false perceptions in order to become more mentally tough. He told us about recruits he trains, how he would not be permitted to push them the way he pushed us, and that he tells recruits who drop out about us.


That struck home with me. Some of the most badass among warriors are inspired by us. That makes me want to push harder.

We were permitted to get rid of the big log, and went on our way with the rest of the load. Next curveball was inflicting casualties when we failed to stay in tight formation, meaning we have people to carry in addition to all the rest.

We hit the next destination, got rid of the heavy items, and bear crawled, lunged, and buddy carried our way back to Ohio. Sometimes without our right shoe.


We got back to our start point. Big Daddy said a few words on what we had accomplished, ran us through pushups with all of us shouting “Attention to detail” “Teamwork breeds success” “GORUCK” “Tough”

He instructed us to stay in bottom pushup position until he came around and stood in front of us.


As each came to his feet, Cadre would shake your hand, give you your patch, and congratulate you on completing.


This event was a great time, and we all pushed hard to get through it.

It also exposed several weaknesses in me that I need to correct. I have full GORUCK Challenges coming up that will be this tough and twice as long.

So I did what any Rucktard would do. Drove the 3 hours home, put on my ruck, put on my resistance mask, and went for a training ruck. Cadre had told us to push through mental limitations and see how far we could go. Tired, feet still wet and sore from the event, legs stiff from hours in the car- still getting another 4 miles in before bed.


Someone Else’s Dreams…

The world we live in is constantly telling us what we should do, how we should behave, what we should want.

This starts when we’re too young to know better, so we do as we are told. We go and “chase our dreams.” We marry the girl, buy the house, get the promotion, buy the bigger house, have the 2.3 children, buy the bigger car to accomodate them.

And then at some point, it hits us like a sucker punch.

We have no idea who we have become.

We went out and achieved the dream… but never realized it was someone else’s dream that we achieved. In never questioning what we “should” do, we never even considered what we wanted to do.



We realize the trap we have fallen into, and immediately try to break out. How we go about this breakout is as individual as all of us are. New car. New girlfriend. Going after a crazy athletic goal that you never did when you were younger. Putting effort into perfecting your physical form.

Then we are caught by a second sucker punch.

Those closest to us, those who we love the most dearly, reject the changes that we are trying to make. They encourage us to keep eating like we always have, not to spend so much time on foolish endeavors that we can’t possibly achieve. To stop being “irresponsible” and maintain the status quo.

To sit down, ignore the fact that we are in a cage, and just focus on how nice the cage is.

We really can’t blame them for reacting this way. After all, what we are doing is reckless. We have achieved the dream, why would we want to change that?

Because it’s not our dream. We want a dream of our own.


Let me say this as clearly as I can. Re-read it as many times as needed for it to sink in.

This life is yours. It is all that you have. You don’t have enough of it to live out everyone else’s dreams. Live out yours.

Those around you will not understand. They will discourage you. They will tell you it’s impossible. They will try to sabotage you. 

Ignore them. It is not their life to live. Let them stay in the safe, comfortable patterns they have always known. But don’t let them tie you down there. Choose your own course, and don’t let anything hold you back.


The die is cast…

I did something last week that scares me.

I saw that the registration for the Spartan Ultra Beast had opened, and that there is no requirement to submit a race resumé this year. I was registered within 15 minutes of learning this.

I have seen how brutal the course is. Friends who are far better competitors than I am have failed to complete it. Not quitting is not enough, miss a time cutoff by a second and you will be pulled from the course.

And all of this only serves to make me want to push harder to get through it.

My 50K time was rather disappointing last year.

My next will be better.

There are some obstacles that I have never been able to complete.

I have 6 months to learn to do them or get REALLY good at burpees.

I’m not sure if I can actually do it. Other than the odd ability to keep moving when most people have the good sense to realize it’s hopeless, I’ve never had much ability in any sport realm.

But that’s the fun of it. What glory is there in knocking out events that you know damn well you can complete without difficulty? What do you learn from victories that you didn’t need to fight for? It is when we are broken down to nothing, when it takes all we have simply to continue, that we see what we are truly make of.

I want to see what I can do. What I can take. If I can do it in time, which has always been the toughest part for me.

And in this moment, I know where to go to find out.

Spec Ops Spartan: Tampa Spartan Sprint 2014

I heard that Spartan was putting on a new sort of race, partially designed by US Special Operations, and that they had torn up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ field to give us a barbed wire crawl.

I’m in.

20 hours driving, 15 hours to recover, and enter the starting corral. Rather than the traditional “Arroo! Arroo! Arroo!”, for this race we were sent off with, “Hooyah! Hooah! Oorah!” and we were off, up way too many levels of ramps to reach the first obstacle. Under a camo net that the timing chip band got caught in, closely followed by the usual SR over-under walls, lots of stairs, and the over-under-through walls.

Next was the Hobie hop, which is probably the least popular event for stadium races. Several of us realized on the way up that wo looked like cartoon joggers, waddling up the stairs and pumping arms to keep balance. Coming down I used the handrails more and was able to swing down a few steps at a time, making it a bit quicker.

Back outside for the traverse wall. Ran into some teammates, spotted each other across, and made it through with no burpees.

I actually enjoyed the sandbag carries at this race. Longer than most, lots of stairs. I found I could adjust my stride to match the stadium stairs, and shuffled a lot more of it than I walked.

We next came to the football toss, which I missed and can now say that I have done burpees on an NFL field. One of my teammates was struggling through his burpees next to me, me at 20 and him at 10. We counted off 10 together, then did a set of 5 together to wrap up his 30. On to the barbed wire crawl.

Sandy soil, barrels to crawl around, wire really low in spots. They had also added objects like mortar and artillery rounds for decoration.


The Hercules Hoist was heavier here than on past races, a challenge but completed it without too much trouble. The Atlas carry had changed from the usual cylindrical concrete weights to round Atlas stones. I hope this change is adopted, not having that edge to grip on does make it considerably more difficult.

Next were muddy trenches while being sprayed with a fire hose. I didn’t get a picture of me being hit by the hose, but this is what it looked like:


Next was a quick farmer-carry with water-filled ammo boxes, a taller-than-normal reverse-incline wall, and the spear throw. My spear throw is improving, but not enough to prevent burpees.

30 feet from the burpee area was the rope climb. I and the man I was doing burpees with after the spear throw both agreed that a rope climb just after 30 burpees was not going to happen today, so we went straight to the next burpee area and counted them off together.

I would usually walk for a few minutes after burpees before picking it up to a run again. But with the finish line in sight and cheers of encouragement  coming from the sidelines, there is no choice but to run the last of it. Through the ditch, over the slick wall, over the fire, and through the Gladiators’ pugil-stick high fives.

We received both the standard Sprint medal, and the special camo medal just for this event.


This was a really fun race, but I cannot shake the feeling that it fell a little flat. Nearly all of the obstacles that I consider an honest challenge, the monkey bars, the tire or log flip, were absent from this race, and were not really replaced with the hard-hitting anaerobic challenges of the stadium sprints, the rowing machines and medicine-ball slams. It was neither the long, muddy, nasty field sprint nor the intense, lung-burning stadium sprint. The overall feel was more like… Warrior Dash.