AAR Team Assessment - Part 09: CulEx

Ready, Set...CulEx

Now that everyone knew where they stood and what they had to gain or lose by their performance on the CulEx evolutions, we were ready to begin. First JC warmed us back up with some reps of PT. Getting down on the ground for 8 count bodybuilders was nothing short of ridiculous. My legs simply wouldn’t bend all the way and I debated just letting myself fall and trying to catch myself before my face hit the ground. 

The first of the CulEx evolutions was a sandbag collection race. They had the sandbags piled up by weight - 40#, 60#, 80#, and 120# sandbags each had their respective piles. Your points were determined by how much weight you brought back across the line. The usual rule of staying within arms reach of your partner applied. But additional rules included that if a sandbag hit the ground, then it had to stay there and the cadre would put it back in the pile.

The distance to cover was short Shannon and I knew we wouldn’t be fast but we also figured the other teams were going to go for the bigger sandbags to get more bang for their buck. So we took off for the 40# pile. We each cleaned and put one on our back and then buddy carried a 60# between us. The next time we decided to share an 80#. I don’t know how well our strategy paid off but our pile had a decent amount of sandbags when time was called.JC had us do some more PT in unison while the cadre tallied up everyone’s weight. It was very kind of him to keep us warmed up and limber. 

Bounding with Buckets

This year HQ invested in some nice branded white buckets. I have to admit that carrying the American flag spearhead bucket made me feel more badass than an orange Home Depot one. They made for good photo ops too.

The next evolution involved taking two buckets down to the river, filling them up, and bringing them back to the top of The Hill all while keeping the water level above the line. I asked if we could leapfrog or bound with the buckets and was given an affirmative. This was the strategy that I think almost all the other Rec League teams used. 

This involved carrying one at a time together. Then going back for the next one and carrying it passed the first one. We knew that we couldn’t carry both buckets at a time. So we would switch sides and therefore hands each time we set one down. 

With several teams using the strategy, there was some concern about getting buckets mixed up. Jen put a buff around the handle of their buckets. We thought this was an idea so we picked some long blades of grass and added them to our buckets. Soon each team had their own designated additions like leaves. We joked that it looked like we were making tea. We were a little punchy but just settled into the work. 

The hardest part was getting up The Hill. By now, Shannon and I had developed a preferred path up the slope with designated stopping points along the way. We started at The Ledge where the slope began, made our first stop at The Knoll, and geared ourselves up for the ascent at The Bare Spot right before the steepest part over the lip of The Hill. We’d leave one bucket at the bottom and take one to the top. Once both buckets were at the top and passed inspection, the cadre had us dump them out and repeat. The objective was to get as many buckets to the top in the time allotted (an hour I think). 

At some point, Jason decided (I think he was bored) to turn the garden hose on everyone as they made their final steps over the top. I think he even offered to add water to a few buckets. Eventually he handed the hose to Cleve who tried to spray our faces but my hat brim took the brunt of the water assault.

Over a day and a half, most of the low crawling and other abuse had worn all the grass off the upper part of the slope. The result of all this water play was the very steep hill was now not just hard to climb, but dangerous. I can’t remember how many times we made the ascent with the buckets but we started going as far to the right as possible to avoid the slickest part. 

Perceived Effort

The trainer/owner of the gym I go to once explained perceived effort to me. Sometimes it isn't about the weight of what you are lifting or the percentage of your max but the amount of effort you think it takes to make it.

On the next evolution we had to take an 80# sandbag each (120# for the Open) down to the river and then back up the hill. I was in no condition to carry an 80# sandbag down and back. The repeated hill climbs had returned the “my quads are about to separate from the bone” feeling again along with the almost constant cramping sensation in my glutes. Shannon was in the same place. So we got out the nylon runners and proceeded to drag the sandbags. 

Well Shannon did. My sandbag clearly had way more friction than hers. I mean, it must have had more contact with the ground because I was struggling to move it. I tried pulling it forwards, backwards, hugging it. Nothing. I was so smoked. 

This is where it helps to have a level headed, problem solving partner. I wanted to have a mini pity party and kick my sandbag a few times. But Shannon suggested that we buddy carry one and come back for the other. I told her I wasn’t sure I could press an 80# at this point. She assured me we could clean it and then use one of our practiced techniques to duck under it one at a time. This is another time when having a lot of event experience with each other paid off. We’ve done this at events and it works like a charm. It was such a relief to share the load and set off at a nice clip down to the river. Suddenly I felt like a badass again. That was until we got to the top of The Hill. 

Going Down 

So that path way to the right that wasn’t as slippery? It was now just as slick. We were within arm’s distance of the top of The Hill feeling confident and making sure our penguin feet were propelling us up the steepest part when it happened. My left foot slipped and my quad failed. I felt my IT band yank tight and we were going down. 

I gave an involuntary yelp when fire shot down my leg along my IT band and then the sandbag on our shoulders drove us face first into the mud. We each had one hand on the outside handle and then the other arm looped through each other’s so we couldn’t catch ourselves. Once we were flat on the ground (albeit at a steep angle) I couldn’t even get the sandbag off of me. 

Shannon helped me roll over and halfway sit up while yelling for a cadre. JC and Mocha were there in a split second and Hand was standing by in case I needed medical attention. It hurt like hell but I knew I wasn’t injured...I just couldn’t move my leg at the moment. I was SO relieved that I wasn’t injured and neither was Shannon. After they assessed the situation and we assured them that we could continue, the cadre let us laugh it off for a minute before we had to get moving. “Your shirt was too clean.” Shannon said. “I thought you were getting bored.” I told her. 

Sitting on that hill with her partner in severe pain and not once did Shannon think “Well, now we are out.” Nope. She was immediately plotting how she could get that other sandbag to the top of The Hill by herself. We were finishing this event no matter what.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published