Sunday, April 22, 2012

When a Porto Potty is a step up

When I first heard about the GORUCK challenge, I was completely in awe that such a company could even exist, because who in their right mind would EVER sign up, much less pay their hard earned money for that torture?

And yet, somehow, I was convinced to try it.

The fun started Saturday night when Colleen, Lily and I met at Jackie's house to prepare, which meant duct taping four bricks together to put in our ruck sacks.

If you prefer NOT to have the sharp edges slamming into your back all night, foam padding is essential.

As Colleen and I sat on the floor wrapping bricks in foam padding, I noted that all of my friends were at the bar at that time. How did running with bricks become our choice Saturday night activity again?

On the way to Annapolis, we were basically hysterical with nervous energy and talked nonstop. I drank some coffee with quite a bit of vodka in it, so I was also pretty tipsy. It was fantastic because unlike the other girls, I wasn't nervous in the slightest. 

Until we pulled up. Then the fear hit me like a ton of bricks (pun intended) and there was no going back. 

The challenge started at 10pm, and we arrived about 9:30, which gave us tons of time to observe everyone in their ruck sacks and panic. I was so sick of the anticipation and just dying for this thing to start already. 10pm came, but then we had to stand around, sign death waivers (very comforting), have our bricks inspected, and listen to instructions before we could begin.

FINALLY, we got the show on the road, and almost immediately were completely submerged in thick, gooey mud. As in, we were belly crawling through it. Then through water. Then we completed the cycle again. Welcome to GORUCK!

The challenge covered about 18 miles over the course of 11 hours and 47 minutes. That's a long ass time to be wearing a pack with 20 pounds of bricks and two liters of water, among other things. It's also a long ass time for a blog post, so I'll just share the highlights.
  • GORUCK is essentially a team building activity based on military training that takes place overnight. The point is to learn to do things with your fellow "classmates" as a team. OR ELSE.
  • After the mud crawling, we jumped into the Annapolis harbor in front of a bunch of drunks hanging out outside the bars. All I could think of was Jack's description of the ice cold water in Titanic when Rose wants to jump. On the bright side, it was the one time we could put our packs down.
  • We had to carry each other a lot. The girls were lighter and therefore the ones everyone wanted to carry. This sounds great, but it really wasn't. When it's 50 degrees and you are wearing freezing soaking wet clothes, you want to be moving, not constantly being thrown over the shoulders of a random man only to be flung down and yanked up by another random every two minutes. That being said, the guys carrying us had a much tougher job.
  • We carried a telephone pole something like 2 miles over the course of 2+ hours. Those things are heavy. And awkward to carry. And we still had those precious ruck sacks filled with bricks.
  • The running was more of a walk/shuffle combination and it was the easiest part. That's a relative term, but it was way better than pushups and bear crawls.
  • We marked so many places in Annapolis with our pee that I'm fairly sure we now own that city. At one point Colleen saw a Porto-potty and was the happiest girl in the world. When a porto-potty is such an improvement in your bathroom situation that it's cause for a celebration, you know you are hardcore.
  • I was too busy to drink my Crown Royale and remained sober the entire time.

After nearly 12 grueling hours, we were finally done, and I truly never thought we would make it there. Eric had been waiting for our call in the car for nearly 2 hours, and we were so happy to see him we couldn't handle it. I've had his phone number memorized for over six years since we first dated, but somewhere in the early morning I panicked that I should have written it down, because I was so delirious I wasn't sure I knew it anymore.

Four sexy, soaking, muddy, tired GORUCK veterans.

One final picture, and the four of us crammed in to a Starbucks bathroom and completely defiled it when we changed out of our nasty clothes for the trip home.

Much like the trip down, the four of us drove Eric insane with hysterical babble about the challenge. I honestly can't believe I made it through. I thought when the sun came up that we were nearly done, but it just kept going on, and on, and on, and every time it seemed like we were done there was more.

All that to earn one of these coveted patches! 
And tough it was.
 So far, after every new experience - marathon, ultramarathon, triathlon, I've finished knowing I wanted to do it again. Like, before I even stumble over to the free water at the end.

So, the million dollar question: would I do GORUCK again?


I'm so glad I did it. It's an amazing feeling to do something you never thought you could, and then sense of accomplishment is incredible. I honestly had fun during parts of the challenge, laughed with my friends, and while it was tough, it was in no way 12 hours of pure misery. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, the experience was fantastic. I met some great people and bonded even more with good friends. But for me, it will be a one and done. I got what I came for.

This is what my nails looked like after a shower and my ponytail holder that was white when I started.

Three hours later, my feet are still white, shriveled, and scary. That's what running in sand filled soaking wet shoes for 11+  hours will do to you.

Not only did Eric pick us up, but he's taken it upon himself to wait on me hand and disgusting foot today. I got home around noon, and can't believe I'm still awake! For someone who never even pulled an all nighter in college, I'm at 30 hours and counting. The coffee is helping, although I needed both hands to hold the cup up to fill it because my arms were shaking so bad. Tomorrow is going to suck.

Thank you so much for all the well wishes and concerns over my death on twitter. I have no idea how, but I am currently alive.


  1. How messed up is it that now I know you're alive and well, I want to try it too? Thank goodness there isn't one in GA or TN so I won't ever be tempted.

  2. Wow! Congrats on completing it! I think I'll live vicariously through you and count your running it as MY "one and done".

  3. I'm going to have nightmares from that giant picture of your feet (I hate feet). I'm with Mandy, I'm impressed that you completed it, but no way I'd ever do it! And we really were very concerned that you had died. I thought maybe the CHUDs had gotten you in a sewer or something.

  4. That picture of your feet will haunt my dreams.

  5. Also, are they going to find this post and kick you out of the Ruck Club??

  6. wow, intense! so they let you blog about it? or is that a secret? my lips are sealed. ;)

    umm, it sounds fun?! definitely an experience.

  7. such a fantastic experience to share with you ladies - you are definitely goruck tough!!!!

  8. Wow, what an experience I am not even slightly tempted to do. I am with Mandy & Sarah, I'll count yours as my one & done too. You are hardcore!

  9. Holy cow, that sounds intense!So glad you survived but I'm curious about the day after soreness...hope it isn't too bad!!

  10. I'm glad you lived. That sounds insane. What sadistic person came up with that anyway?

    I'm guessing you don't have today off to recover.

    1. Her students are just left to wonder why Mrs. Lindsey is always limping on Mondays.

  11. 1. Why did you post a picture of a cadaver's feet?
    2. Blogger Fail for not taking pictures of the defiled Starbucks bathroom.
    3. There is no #3. You already know you're an idiot.

  12. De-lurking to say that I was so excited to read about this. Am I crazy if I still want to do it? It sounds like the unholy spawn of CrossFit and an ultramarathon in terms of suffering. I'm all over it!

    Now if I can just con my sister into joining me for the DC one in June. She might never forgive me from the sounds of it!

  13. Goodness gracious Alyssa! Can't even imagine how exhausted you must be. How are you feeling today?

  14. I can't believe you did that carrying 20 lbs of brinks!!! You are sooo bada##! Seriously, I am beyond impressed. Congrats!!!


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