AAR Team Assessment - Part 05: Friday Morning
Sun Up in God’s Country
We aren’t sure if anyone else in the state calls Ohio “God’s Country” but Jason sure does say it a lot. I have to admit, the sun rising over the soybean field and glinting off the slowly flowing river was very pretty. The weather during the Welcome Party and the night had been incredible -blue skies and mildly warm. This day was shaping up to be another splendid one as least in terms of weather.
We got cadre change over and Cleve was in a great mood (No, really he was, I’m not being facetious). He gave each of the women’s teams two 40 pound sandbags (Open had 60#s) and told us to take them for a 3 mile farmer’s carry. I was really feeling the wheelbarrow in my shoulders so we did our count and switch methods. It was slow going but we tried to admire God’s Country while we trudged through the woods and around the field.
As we came around the last leg of the field, Cleve was waiting. He bestowed a gift upon us by saying we could now shoulder carry the sandbags. We immediately decided he was The Nice Cadre...at least for the moment. The next two miles went much faster and we finished 4th on that evolution. Fourth and fifth place was our sweet spot. We simply weren’t fast enough or strong enough to keep up with the top 3 teams (01, 03, and 08) so we were happy to stay at the front of the second wave of teams.
Our next evolution was a series of laps around the field with exercises at the top of or up the hill after each loop. The loop around the field was like a gift. Just rucking a lap was like activity recovery. Some of the exercises weren’t too bad like Sandbag Volleyball where each team member cleaned and tossed a sandbag to each other for 50 reps (40# Female, 60# Open). Or the Bear Crawl and Drag reverse down the hill and forward up the hill.
Others were just horrible like the Low Crawl up and down the hill. Going down wasn’t so bad. The top of The Hill is very steep so we adopted a River Otter Technique where we were basically sliding along on our belly for most of the way. The way back up however was the WORST. On flat ground my low crawl is not impressive. On a vertical incline, it was downright comical. It seemed like we were only progressing by inches and the worst part was how rocky and hard the ground was. I was missing our nice soccer field.
We spent a lot of time low crawling up that hill and many of the teams struggled as much as we did. I remember we ended up laughing at ourselves quite a bit. It’s hard to feel like you are dominating when you're inching along side other teams. At the top Cleve asked why I was smiling, probably thinking I wasn’t trying hard enough. I told him we just loved this so much. My answer should have been “Well nobody is asking what’s for dinner or to put their hair into a ponytail so this is like a vacation.”
We figured out on our loops around the field that this evolution was more about the time spent working than how many laps you completed (for those of us not in the battle for first at least). We noticed the top teams starting to repeat exercises so we were hoping that our pace would keep us from having to repeat the low crawls up The Hill and we MAY have taken a little more time than was strictly necessary on that last lap (working smarter not harder). We did get lucky and time was called before we had to do that particular exercise again.
The 24 Hour Break
One of the biggest milestones was getting to the 24 hour mark. It did not feel like “half way”, that’s like saying you're half way up Everest. But it was a significant milestone. The best part is this is what we called “The Long Break”. We were given 60 to 90 minutes to get some real calories in and catch some rest. It was also an opportunity for teams that were in the back of the pack to get a significant rest period. Up until this point, the top teams reward for winning was a good bit of extra rest. Now all the teams got to fuel and recover.
With relief we got to our priorities of work. We had worked out a strategy ahead of time. We knew we needed to dry out our feet, eat, and rest. Since we had time to break out the MREs, we took off our socks and shoes then got the heaters on the MREs going while we went to the bathroom.
Jason’s dad has a nice yard with thick, soft grass. Even though our feet were doing fine, it was heavenly. We thought this was the point that we would want to change into our second set of clothes but since we had not gotten especially muddy or sandy, we didn’t bother.
By the time we got back from the bathroom, our MREs were nice and warm. The cadre all chimed in on their recommendations on which entrees would be best. Shannon enjoyed some spaghetti while I elected for chicken and noodles. Up until then, we’d just had some of our snacks. Either the MREs were pretty good or we were just hungry. I also mixed up some Drip Drop electrolytes in my Vapur bottle and drank about half.
We filled our water bladders and repacked our rucks. We also went ahead and put on dry socks and put our boots back on. Jen had the good sense to suggest packing a gallon ziploc bag to put our wet stuff in so it wouldn’t get everything else in the dry bag funky. I was grateful for the foresight. While we ate we applied Ruck Wrap to our legs with particular attention to our quads and hamstrings. If I could have figured out how to wrap my glutes, I would have.
We knew the cadre would give us a 3 to 5 minute warning so we settled down to sleep without worrying. I’m a power napping pro so having 30 to 40 minutes was perfect. That’s all I will usually sleep between a Heavy and a Tough anyway. Some people chose not to rest because they didn’t want their bodies to start shutting down. You have to do what works for you.
Since we’d repacked and refitted before going to sleep, the call the ruck up wasn’t stressful. The stiffness and screaming quads was another matter. The Ruck Wrap really did make a difference in recovery and being able to get up again but as Shannon said “My quads have some words to say.”