Posted in fitness

Rucking Rabulous

So here we are, twenty of us in class 1508, learning the rules of the ruck. We met in Bushnell Park, Hartford, CT. We received our ruck inspection and safety briefing before starting the “Welcome Party.” That was fun.18118664_703436243234_6362588101747274796_n
This is before I knew my new-ish, kind of expensive, running shoes which were totally inappropriate for this event, would be garbage in a few hours. That’s me, center, in the grey. One of my friends is to my left in orange, and if you’re wondering what her expression is, it is her wondering what the ruck she signed up for and also quietly cussing me out.

I have completed several road races of varying difficulty, but have never completed a race with “challenges” such as a mud run. I feel comfortable with not climbing wall after wall and splashing around in sweat and god-knows-what-filled pools of watery mud. But this isn’t like that. First of all, it isn’t a race. It isn’t brought in on trucks. There aren’t any water stops and there aren’t any swag bags or massage tables at the end. This challenge uses what’s available in the city, and you bring your own water with you, on your back and shoulders, and on your friend’s shoulders.

Why did I sign up for this? In a word–jealousy. Another word–determination.

My husband signed up for a ToughRuck, not associated with GoRuck. It’s a marathon-length ruck event with military and civilian divisions, associated with the Boston Marathon. He assumed I would not be interested, so he didn’t tell me about it. By the time I resolved to register, the registration had sold out, so I was pissed. Count me out of a ruck march, will you? Well I’ll just find my own!
That’s when I started e-mailing and researching and that’s how I found GoRuck. It’s a company that makes rucking gear, and created challenges as a way to test out their product’s durability. They have several types of challenges, the Light, Tough, Heavy, and other special challenges. I signed up for the Light. Then I got three of my friends to sign up with me. I started doing the workouts listed on the website. I thought I would whip myself into shape!

Then I stopped the workouts, which may or may not be obvious from these photographs.

The “Before” Photo

So after we finished the Welcome Party, we headed on our way to our first destination in a double-column. We were on the city streets, twenty-one of us total, led by a flag-bearer, so I imagine we looked a bit out of the ordinary. We had to carry weight as a team of various shapes and loads. We had to work together, comply, and get it done. We completed exercises as a team, we carried a huge log as a team (well they did, I was a team lead for that leg of the journey), and at one point, we even carried each other.  We carried on like this for hours and miles.

We received a reminder from our cadre during one of the challenges that it might feel sucky getting down on the ground and back up over and over with our 15-25lb ruck on our back in the plush grass… Just remember all the men and women who have to do that because of a real and deadly threat, with an average of 70 lbs on their backs, in much different terrain.

Hello. Yeah, what we were doing really wasn’t that bad.

The “After” Photo where we are all obviously feeling a little more bad-ass than when we started


At the end, we were all kind of tired, but no worse for the wear. Maybe it was because I didn’t carry the log, but I could have probably kept going if it had been a longer challenge.

We finished with some more team exercise before receiving our GoRuck Light Patches. If you’re looking for something different and you’re up for some real physical activity, teamwork, and getting dirty then definitely sign up for a GoRuck Light. Today, I feel pretty well with only some mild discomfort and stiffness but I have felt worse after running a distance road race with no weight and no other physical challenges.

What we came here for


But don’t forget the right shoes. Make sure they fit well, are comfortable, can get dirty, and that you’ll be OK with never being able to wear them again. And also dry socks.

Posted in fitness

Follow Me to Thirteen

I was looking forward to lacing up yesterday. It was my first day of a 33-day military order which allows me 3 hours of fitness time per week during the duty day. The weather was nice, a bit windy, but nice, coming off a stressful holiday weekend. Turning on my rusty RunKeeper app, I was prompted to run for 26.2 minutes for the Boston Marathon. Don’t mind if I do!

I have missed being able to run around within the safety of the base’s gates without having to run into my family time in the evening. Shortly after moving to where we live now, I would go for early morning runs before my husband went to work, but was quickly discouraged when I was harassed every time I went out. I had never experienced this harassment in our previous neighborhood no matter what time I went out. I appreciate running on base because there is very little traffic to navigate, there aren’t any hills to tromp up or down, and everyone around supports physical health and fitness—I’ve never experienced harassment while running here.

It has been difficult since having my daughter who is almost three now, to consistently make time for physical fitness, be it running or going to the gym or whatever. She literally attaches herself to me, and with my husband now working overnight, time is extremely limited. Knowing I was coming on a month-long order, I signed myself up for a few races to motivate me to train. Maybe I am setting my expectations a bit high, but I have signed up for the 2017 Boston Run to Remember, which is a tribute to fallen law enforcement officers and first responders. I ran in the 2013 five-mile race with my friend, while my husband ran the half. I remember it being a really crappy day, but a really nice course. The previous year, I “ran” the Manchester half marathon in New Hampshire on virtually no training, it was a terribly trying route, I experienced debilitating Morton’s Neuroma (MN) pain where I had to stop, take my shoe off, rub my foot before carrying  on. Terrible experience. That was the only half I’ve ever “run,” if you can even call it running. More like crawling.

Finishing the Holyoke Road Race (in blue)

Last month, I participated in the annual Holyoke St Patrick’s Road Race which is a hilly 10k. This month—this weekend, actually—I am participating in a GoRuck Light, which is an appx 7 mile ruck. This past weekend, my husband completed a Tough Ruck affiliated with the Boston Marathon. I missed registration and despite my attempts to acquire a bib, the organization would not sell me one, so I signed up for a GoRuck instead to quiet my jealousy. Next year, I will be registering for the Tough Ruck.

So here I am, gearing up for a half marathon, and yesterday I began training and I hated every step. I made it a mile before I started feeling the MN in my foot. My lungs felt tight. It was just an uncomfortable-feeling run in general, which was pretty disappointing given how much I was looking forward to it. I committed to running 26.2 minutes, and I know I can do it if I just stick with it, so I just did it. I was hoping I would feel good afterwards, but honestly, I didn’t. Maybe I was still feeling heavy from my big Easter dinner. 

But if I’m going to meet my goal, I must keep going. Keep trying. Keep lacing up. Keep fighting. I keep remembering “where I used to be,” and keep wanting to get back to that place. Where I could just run and run until time ran out. Where people knew me as “a good runner.” Where two miles was a warm-up. step