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2013 Year in Review

2013

2013

We rang in the New Year quietly at home and just a few days later I was off  to run Ragnar: Miami to Key West

Chuck Norris Never Ragnar'd

Chuck Norris Never Ragnar’d

I opted out of February’s Donna this year due to my hip, but we still made it out to cheer

Cold!

Cold!

For Spring Break, Alex came to visit!

<3

<3

And T:E Girls partied at One Spark

IMG_0550

And rocked it out at the gym

TE

In April, Ben and I hopped on a plane to spend a few days in Santa Barbara and Malibu for my cousin’s wedding

Cheese

Cheese

Malibu Beach

Malibu Beach

Wedding!

Wedding!

In May, we started enjoying Florida’s beautiful beaches again

Date Night

Date Night

By June, I was back in the open water

Duval Ocean Swimmers

Duval Ocean Swimmers

And finally able to run again by July (see: #hipsaga2012)

July 4th 5k

July 4th 5k

CROME (formally known as Timed Exercise) also took to the beach this summer

TE1

TE2

Midway through July we ran away for a week on the Allure of the Seas with my family for my dad’s 60th birthday

Docked at Labadee, Haiti

Docked at Labadee, Haiti

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, Mexico

DSCN0459

Come August, I swam my second Hammer Head 2.5 Mile Ocean Marathon and place 2nd in my age group

Running to the finish

Running to the finish

And Hannah came to visit before shipping off to college :)

So proud of this girl

So proud of this girl

In September I joined JumpingFish for Up The River – Downtown – a 10k/6mi river swim escorted by 45 kayakers/boaters!

river1

Source: Jacksonville.com

river2

river3

Soon after I spent a weekend in NYC with friends. We ate cupcakes, ran through Central Park and celebrated Lindsay’s upcoming wedding

nyc nyc2

October brought several events including my second Siesta Key 5k Swim with a 4th place finish

Siesta Key 5k Ocean Swim with DOS

Siesta Key 5k Ocean Swim with DOS

My 30th Birthday

Thirty

Thirty

My first GORUCK

Damn good heart if you ask me

Damn good heart if you ask me

One Team

One Team

A trip to Virginia with Ben for Sarah’s wedding

Sarah and Andrew :)

Sarah and Andrew :)

Rainy Day

Rainy Day

And my fastest 5k ever!

29:33

29:33

In November I traveled home for Lindsay’s wedding and to see some of my favorite people

Eric!

Eric!

And on Thanksgiving morning I ran the Subaru 13.1 in 35 degree temps (Florida?!?) – this race was iconic for me because it was the first 13.1 after all my hip issues. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to run the distance again. I ran it thanks to my wonderful PRS group.. I even PR’d by a minute :)

2:20.29

2:20.29

Before we knew it, it was December and time for my second GORUCK.

GORUCK Light Class #153 - Jacksonville Beach

GORUCK Light Class #153 – Jacksonville Beach

I also ran a painfully difficult soft-sand beach 5k, but had a ton of fun AND placed!

Patrons of the Heart Beach 5k

Patrons of the Heart Beach 5k

The next day (Sunday 12/22/13), Ben and I went to the beach, like any other Sunday. It was incredibly warm and beautiful for just three days before Christmas.. but that’s Florida for you.

Little did I know...

Little did I know…

Little did I know that I’d walk to the water with my boyfriend and walk back up the beach with my fiancé :)

Yes!

Yes!

The next couple of days included engagement excitement and Christmas

Christmas Eve Shenanigans

Christmas Eve Shenanigans

We rang in the New Year with a simple dinner and home before midnight (noticing a NYE theme here..)

Bye-Bye 2013

Bye-Bye 2013

And started 2014 with friends at an extremely rainy Gator Bowl

We managed to have fun anyway :)

Mid field, 6 rows back – can’t complain

It was seriously an exciting year and we have so much to look forward to in 2014! My calendar is already filled with a trips to Atlanta/Blue Ridge, Islamorada for venue shopping, a one-week south Caribbean cruise with friends, Lake Tahoe for a wedding, Portugal/England with Ben as well as things like the Wolfson’s 55 relay, Gate River Run, Hammerhead Ocean Marathon, Siesta Key 5k swim, many 5ks and fall running :)

One last thing

While it’s important to focus on the good in life, I had one very sad event this year. On 12/1/13 my sweet Alley girl went missing. We have absolutely no idea how she got out of the house and we don’t understand why we didn’t see her lounging around in the sun within two days. She has literally up and vanished. My loving girl is 14 years old and I worry about her every single day – she’s been my devoted snuggle friend for over 11 years. My heart is broken and I just wish she’d find her way home.

Love this pretty girl

Love this pretty girl

The silver lining in this tragedy, is that while trying to find Alley, we rescued an 8 month-old feral kitten. We weren’t sure what to do with her at first, because she was a bit insane (which earned her the name “Ninja”). But she’s pushed our way into our hearts and our home, so we think she’s here to stay.

Not such a ninja anymore

Not such a ninja anymore

All we have to do is convince Savannah

She's still undecided

She’s still undecided

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GORUCK Light Class #153

December’s GORUCK was supposed to be my original GORUCK, but I got antsy and did October’s GORUCK first. I’m glad I’ve done two because they were so incredibly different from one another. The people were different, the cadre was different, the messages were different- an overall new experience. However, both were excellent.

GORUCK Light Class #153 - Jacksonville Beach

GORUCK Light Class #153 – Jacksonville Beach

Our class was unusually small. I’m not sure what happened because I know we had a lot more people signed up. Many people started backing out a few days before and others just didn’t show up that morning. We ended up with only sixteen people and I think eleven of us were girls. This Light was notably “easier” than my last one. I don’t know if it’s because we had a different cadre, because I knew what to expect or because Garet went easy on us for being a mostly female group (I hope not!)

Unlike my last Light, this one started at 7:00am, so we got to ruck during sunrise.

DSC_0005

I felt a bit better prepared this time since I sort of knew what to expect. I chose to wear pants instead of shorts; my shorts were fine last time but I chose pants a) just in case it was a bit chilly and b) because last time my knees got a bit raw during the “Tunnel of Love” (no ToL this time). I also tied my hydration hose to my ruck strap (with a rubber band), which kept it in place, so I didn’t have to keep reaching back to find it. And finally, I was more prepared with the fact that I would have no concept of time and no idea when the event would be over.. last time around, this lack of awareness made the event seem like it was going on forever. This time was much better.

Garet doing his thing

Garet doing his thing

Oh, pushups..

Oh, pushups..

Inchworm pushups

Inchworm pushups

These had a name...

These had a name…

Took us a few tries

Took us a few tries

Embrace the suck

Embrace the suck

Garet, our cadre, was kind enough to hold off ordering us into the 65 degree water until the sun was fully up, but that doesn’t mean it made getting in any easier.

Rucksack trust fall

Rucksack trust fall

Holy cold

Holy cold

Garet also made sure we remained very, very sandy.

Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies

He let us wash off, then said, "Just kidding"

He let us wash off, then said, “Just kidding”

Of course, since this was a Light, we sang quite a bit.

DSC_0090

And when we didn’t sing well enough, we were punished.

DSC_0092

These were pretty uncomfortable.

Luckily, we were spared any real weights this time around. No 120 pound sand bags or a couch… but we were given kegs to toss for a few miles, and then returned them to the convenience store where they originated

Matt, cadre in training

Matt, cadre in training

Most of our singing was done in front of the homes of GORUCK employees and military vets.

Good morning, GORUCK staff!

Good morning, GORUCK staff!

It’s all fun and games until one of your teammates gets out of the water without his team. Then it turns into very cold and wet pushups.

Waves make it a bit difficult

Waves make it a bit difficult

TL

TL

Garet's Class #153 Gift

Garet’s Class GRL #153 Gift

At first, I was a little bit bummed that I didn’t have Jason, my cadre from last time. But by the end of the day, I’m really glad I had the opportunity to ruck with Garet. He’s a really nice guy and extremely funny. He kept us laughing the whole day and really took the time to get to know us.

Though this Light was much more lighthearted than the previous one, what we lacked in buddy carries, excessive singing, and extra weights, we made up for in miles. Nine miles, actually. My legs are pretty sore the next day as are my shoulders from PT. Or, as Garet called it, Asian Calisthenics (complete with Asian elevator music).

A good time had by all, I’m sure. I made some new friends and enjoyed everyone I rucked with. I was inspired by some people who rucked with us despite dealing with some physical challenges. Some people are truly amazing!

The big question is:

What Next?

 

Special thanks to Jim for shadowing this event and taking pictures.


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Walkin’ on Sunshine with GORUCK Light

goruckflag

This past Saturday I completed my first GORUCK Light. Although I “knew” what to expect from talking to others and stalking the internet, I didn’t really “know” what to expect. It’s safe to say that no one does, regardless of what kind of background you have. You don’t know what to expect until you’re actually in it. I had a hard time finding a blog for a newbie, like me (especially for a Light). Hopefully, this helps a bit.

Who and Why

“Who does these things?” is a common question I’ve encountered. Well, anyone does them.. I highly recommend that you’re in shape, can run/walk a good 6-10 miles, carry a decent amount of weight and you’re a team player. “Why?” is a more difficult question to answer. I can’t really say “why” other than “because.” This is a challenge – it’s a bit of a physical challenge but it’s more of a mental challenge. It’s also a team challenge – can you take one for the team? Can you take several for the team?

This particular GORUCK event was a fundraiser for the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, which serves to help families tackle childhood cancer by providing comprehensive financial, emotional and practical support. It’s an incredible organization and I am proud that we were able to contribute to the cause.

Prepping

I can’t say I did any extra preparation for this. My regular weekly schedule of Timed Exercise (EDIT: now called CROME), running and swimming was plenty. The only “extra” I did was a walk or two with my rucksack – mostly so that I could adjust straps and weight and figure out whether I could get away with a sleeveless shirt.

You need: a rucksack (preferably a GORUCK), a hydration system (no, not water bottles.. an actual hydration system like a camelbak), bricks (2 or 4; you must wrap your bricks completely in duct tape to protect the inside of your ruck… google videos), your ID and emergency cash. That’s really all you need for this event. Optional would be snacks and a waterproof case for your phone/keys.

Pool noodle pieces used to raise bricks/take up space without adding weight

Pool noodle pieces used to raise bricks/take up space without adding weight

As girly as this sounds, I struggled with what to wear: capris or shorts? I went back and forth on this for days and tried to google what other women have worn… I came up with nothing. Here’s some help for future GORUCK newbies: it doesn’t really matter. I went with shorts because the idea of wet capris/pants made me cringe. A few other girls wore shorts, a few wore capris and two word ankle-length tights (tucked into socks, which apparently helped keep sand out of socks). My shorts left me with some raw knees from crawling in the sand, but otherwise, I was very happy in them. Obviously, it was a warm day.. I can’t speak for cold events. I opted for a short-sleeve shirt (yellow in all the pics) to protect my shoulders from my rucksack. I quickly learned that nothing will protect your shoulders, FYI. Some girls ended up in just sports bras, some girls wore long-sleeves for protection from the sun.

Let’s Go

We met at the roundabout at One Ocean in Neptune Beach, Florida at 12:00pm. Everyone stood around for a bit, getting to know each other before Jason, our Cadre, came to spread his Peace and Love. We had our rucksack check and were reminded of a few life lessons. Our main theme for this event was: It could always be worse. This was in honor of our fundraiser. The struggle families go through when a child is diagnosed with cancer is far worse than anything I have ever had to endure. No matter what you or I might experience in life, it could always be worse.

It could always be worse

It could always be worse

"You will smile," he said, "Whether on your own or because you are made to...."

“You will smile,” he said, “Whether on your own or because you are made to….”

And then we got wet.

One Team

One Team

Actually, let me point out that originally, we entered the water as a giant, clustered mess; we were quickly lectured on teamwork and punished with heart-shape inchworm push-ups:

Damn good heart if you ask me

Damn good heart if you ask me

Up... down... up... down...

Up… down… up… down…

After about 20 rounds, we were sent back into the water, where we entered as a team… for sure. A few flutter kick later, we exited the water and began the true torture of the day: singing.

I’m Walkin’ on Sunshine

Just typing the words makes me shudder. Every time I hear a tune from a car driving by, I think it’s THAT SONG. This song was chosen via vote on our FB page… it sounded like a good choice at the time. I hate this song. Everyone hates this song. So. Annoying. We lined up in our two “army thingies” (rows) and began singing. We were awful. Everyone was off beat, half of us got the words wrong even though someone had printed out laminated lyric sheets (brilliant) and we were barely audible. I’d like to say that all changed pretty quickly, but it took us a long time to get it right. We sang it over and over and over again… and our cadre was unimpressed over and over and over again. Eventually, a bunch of tweaks earned us the opportunity to move along. We sang this song hundreds of times throughout the day.. in front of Poe’s Tavern, in the courtyard near Lilly’s, in front of beach goers, life guards, Joe’s Crab Shack, Lynch’s , various homes up and down 1st Street, and finally at the Team House.

Sing louder he said, so apparently I did. Also please note, our straps were "taken away" so we held our rucks

Sing louder he said, so apparently I did. Also please note, our straps were “taken away” so we held our rucks

Serenading a lifeguard

Serenading a lifeguard

Serenading the Team House

Serenading the Team House

Casualties, Sandbags and a Couch

Throughout the day we carried each other, we carried sand bags and we carried our rucks. We carried our rucks without straps. We carried each others’ rucks. We also carried a couch. Yes, a couch. A few classes back a discarded couch (throne) was picked up and carried by the team and an ambassador was chosen to sit on the couch… while it was carried. It’s not unusual for a class to come across random, heavy things to carry. I knew this; I saw the pictures. I did not know, however, that Jason had held onto said couch and kept it in his backyard. Halfway through our walk, when we picked up 5 sandbags and 2 water jugs; we also picked up the couch.

Fact: water makes rucksacks heavy

Fact: water makes rucksacks heavy

Casualties being carried

Casualties being carried

Casualties & no ruck straps

Casualties & no ruck straps

While being carried is better than carrying, it's quite uncomfortable

While being carried is better than carrying, it’s quite uncomfortable

What happens when you don't sing together

What happens when you don’t sing together

p.s. these suck - especially when your cadre is spraying a hose in your face

p.s. these suck – especially when your cadre is spraying a hose in your face

Challenge for the girls - carry the 120 lb. sandbag up and back in under 3 minutes(we did it in 2)

Challenge for the girls – carry the 120 lb. sandbag up and back in under 3 minutes (we did it in 2)

Lots of casualties - it was a nasty war

Lots of casualties – it was a nasty war

Flutter kicks

Flutter kicks

Flutter kick w/ ruck passes

Flutter kick w/ ruck passes

Tunnel of Love

Tunnel of Love

Never been so happy to see a house - the Team House - our finishing point

Never been so happy to see a house – the Team House – our finishing point

We're done! As long as we can sing one last time, we're done!

We’re done! As long as we can sing one last time, we’re done!

When It’s All Said and Done

I had a good time. Obviously there were a few parts that sucked and by the time 5 hours passed (total time was 6.5) I was ready to go home, but I had a good time. I’m sore (very sore) and bruised (very bruised) and pretty tired.. but I would do it again. I’m proud of myself not because of the physical parts but the mental parts. When someone needed to be carried, I carried them. When someone needed me to take weight, I took weight. I think I handled my turn as Team Leader rather well. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t complain and encouraged others to do the same. We all got along really well and no one argued; it was refreshing, actually, considering what I observe at work on a daily basis. These are people who work hard. These are people who don’t complain. These are people who acknowledge that it could always be worse.

GORUCK Light Class 117

GORUCK Light Class 117

Light patch - never sold, only earned.. special edition patch for the Jay Fund

Light patch – never sold, only earned.. special edition patch for the Jay Fund

Pro Tips & Things to Remember

*Join the FB event page so that you know important information beforehand
*Pack what you’re supposed to pack, but remember that your rucksack will be passed around and carried by others; if you pack extra, your team carries extra (i.e. I ended up with an 8 brick rucksack)
*It says bring a hydration system, so bring a hydration system. Water bottles are not a hydration system.
*Follow directions, people. Wrap your bricks!
*Don’t plan on anything the rest of the day. You have no idea how long your event will last. Your Cadre can keep you until he decides you’re done.
*Just suck it up. It could always be worse. Be a team player.
*Light does not mean easy. They say it on the website and they mean it. Light just means less hours… it in no way means easy.

Extra Inspiration

We were lucky enough to have Frank join us for this event. Frank’s 6 year-old daughter has been in remission for a year and a half. Frank’s family has benefitted from the amazing Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation, so he decided to ruck with us. Shortly into PT, Frank had a hard time keeping up. H’s a boxer and teaches kids to box every week.. but this was a different kind of conditioning for him. He pushed hard through the Tunnel of Love with cheers from our team and then found himself short of breath and I think a bit panicked. But Frank was reminded that quitting is not an option. Our Cadre reminded Frank that there are people in this world who deal with much more difficult things in life and they aren’t able to just up and quit. “Like my daughter,” was Frank’s response. Frank, like his daughter, is an inspiration. Frank stood up. Frank got in line. Frank finished the challenge. Frank earned his patch. Thanks for joining us Frank!

No man left behind

No man left behind

Please take the time to donate a monetary gift, frequent flyer miles or give the gift of volunteered time to this important organization: More information here

*Pictures courtesy of Jo, who shadowed our class (public album on FB) – thanks Jo