AAR Team Assessment - Part 04: Jay's House of Pain
Road March to Jay’s House of Pain
It was time to leave the park and change our AO to Jason’s dad’s house, referred to last year as “Jay’s House of Pain” aka JHOP. Jennifer had done some recon via Google Maps and satellite photos so we knew that it was about 3.5 miles to Jay’s house on two lane roads. The cadre lined us up on the edge of the field and said we had a 75 minute time hack for a 5 mile ruck march. They sent us on a lap around the park first and then we hit the road. Shannon and I were confident in our ability to hit this standard and set an appropriate pace.
Having done two 50 mile Star Courses together, we knew the best methods. We shuffled down hills and at other points chose landmarks for where we would push the pace. It felt really good to just ruck and talk. We discussed where we were at physically and mentally and took the opportunity to drink from our water bladders. We were both feeling the lunges in our glutes and quads and we knew we were only about 6 hours in at this point.
On the last hill up to Jay’s driveway we heard a voice in the dark encouraging us and then saying good job as we made the turn. We thought it meant we had made the time hack. We kept walking until we saw Cleve who pointed us across the yard and then someone else directed us down the hill. At this point it was unclear what we should be doing or where to go. There was one team still within sight so we followed their reflective bands. Suddenly we were at the river and the other team had disappeared. We turned around and Jason was there. He wasn’t sure what the plan was but said we were probably taking a lap around the field.
This was a path we would get to know intimately over the next 40 hours but at the time we had no idea where we were going or how far it was. We could see some teams way ahead and thought we turned off the track to follow them. After wandering uphill through the woods in the dark and coming out in the neighbors yard, we made our way back to the cadre. At that point we were told that we missed the time hack by 6 minutes.
We were not enthusiastic about this at all fearing we’d get another strike on our patches. We explained what had happened and were told to go take care of priorities of work. As it turns out, we weren’t the only team to get confused about the trail and, although we didn’t get any points for that evolution, we didn’t get a strike. It was a sobering moment but we decided not let it affect our mindset. We did our priorities of work and said “We made it to Jay’s house.”
You Want Us To Do What
No camera angle can do The Hill justice. We’d all watched the Beta TA live feeds as well as Doug’s ordeal during Selection. We’d all heard them say over and over how steep the hill was but nothing prepared us for the real thing. It takes a sharp drop from the top and then a steady run until it flattens out about 25 yards down. Then it was a straight shot to the river and the turn into the woods (about a tenth of a mile). We would start referring to this as The [Favorite Expletive] Hill over the course of the next 40 hours.
We were turned over to JC and Barbarossa for our next evolution. They walked us down The Hill to where it started to flatten out and gave us our orders: One Mile Partner Wheelbarrow. We couldn’t switch positions until the turnaround. To say this is not what we were expecting was an understatement. Shannon and I quickly devised a plan of her starting in the wheel position and I’d carry both rucks and hold her legs. I’m not a fan of wearing a ruck on my front so when we saw another team put both of them over their back we changed to that. It was a grueling mile. Some teams were very fast. We started using our tried and true method: Count and Rest. Shannon would go 25 hand strikes and then we’d rest for a count of 10 and start again. The trail through the woods felt endless.
My shoulders were feeling the strain from wearing both rucks and low carrying Shannon’s legs and her wrists were taking a beating. We finally made it to the turn around and switched places. We were making our way back when JC came by and told us to stand up. All the teams in the back that weren’t fast enough had to do penalty ruck burpees on his count. It wasn’t fun but it was a lot faster than finishing that evolution. At some point in this evolution is when we lost the only women’s team to drop.
To the River and Back
The next series of evolutions had us moving sandbags in various ways from The Hill to the river and back with PT at the end of each leg. I can barely remember what all we did but I have it on good account that it included sandbag shoulder carries, bear crawls, sandbag clean and toss, bear crawl sandbag drags, and sandbag over the shoulder toss. All of these are exercises I had done plenty of times in Heavy Drop Training so I just fell back on my training. I remember the Over the Shoulder Toss the best because we were going for distance but you had to be careful. With all the teams throwing sandbags without looking, it was easy to accidentally get in someone’s line of fire or fling a sandbag right in front of them. As we finished this evolution, the sun began to come up.
It Was Refreshing
With the river right there, it was no surprise that JC decided we should get a few hydroburpees in to welcome the new day. We were allowed to strip down as much as we wanted and told to leave our rucks up on the grass.
The water was...refreshing. Actually the water was warmer than the air which was in the low 40s. For me the first one is the worst. After that, you just have to enjoy the lunacy and do them as quickly as possible.
The key to hydroburpees is doing them in unison. It’s guaranteed that someone at some point won’t be in sync but I think we were only no repped once...maybe twice for not shouting the number loud enough. We were originally going to do 25 but JC wanted us to honor the fallen from the various Spec Ops teams so we did 30 total.
I usually get cold really easily but the GORUCK pants dry super fast and I put my dry layers - UA base layer and t-shirt and windbreaker - back on. I felt more awake and the cold water helped with some of the sore muscles. A bear crawl back up the hill warmed us up. Shannon and I said “We made it to the first sunrise.”