Last week I did a leg of the Ruck Across America (RAA), the grassroots fundraiser organized by alumni of the GoRuck Challenge. The pack started it’s journey on June 22 in Coronado, went north to Seattle, traveled across the country to Maine, then all the way down the east coast until it finally reached South Florida. By the time it reached me it was very stinky and filled with various knick knacks from around the country. There was a beanie baby reindeer and a bottle of Fireball. Despite the stink, it was a pleasure to carry.
What I liked about the RAA was the chance to spend a day hiking a section of the coast I had never visited. The most I’ve ever hiked in a single day is 20 miles, if you don’t count the GoRuck Challenge as a hike, which you shouldn’t. My crew opted to walk at a brisk pace, about 17′ miles. Leisurely compared to the GRC, but still aggressive enough that it was tiring. I thought the RAA backpack weighed about 20 pounds, but I wasn’t sure. It felt light but it burdens you just enough to wear you out, especially by the end.
When I lived in Austin in the summer of 2000 I remember watching Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France, his second of seven, against Jan Ullrich. The entire city was rabid about the Tour and about Lance, because he was their favorite son. The rivalry against Ullrich was a great rivalry and would last for another six years, with a hiccup in 2002 when the big German was suspended for taking a banned substance. During that time, the US Postal team was an icon of teamwork, speed, and power. Images of the blue juggernaut were ubiquitous in homes and offices.
I have been a fan of a smattering of baseball players, the occasional basketball player, and a few elite rowers. If there was any larger than life sports figure I was an uber-fan of, it was Lance Armstrong. I admired his approach and I liked that he was a brash, domineering Texas a-hole in competition. At his height, he was a killer on the bike and he made his rivals look like bad.
Having the right gear and nutrition strategy is critical for success at Kokoro. I’ll review what I did and offer some suggestions.
I bought regular white t-shirts from a drug store for like $10 for a pack. You don’t need anything better than that. You want at least 8 shirts at Kokoro…change your shirt every single chance you get so you’re dry. Having a dry shirt also gives you a little morale boost.
For pants, I rocked ripstop TDU pants from 5.11 Tactical. These pants are frigging awesome and I highly recommend them if you can afford it. They’re comfortable, durable, and performed decently despite not being the ideal pant for working out. They’re chock full of features like having cool pockets-within-pockets and a snug-fitting but flexible waistband that is critical for the amount of movement you’re doing. I only brought two pairs, which worked okay, but I recommend having three pairs.
If Kokoro 25 was the capstone to my sports year–scratch that, the capstone to my athletic career–then Megatransect 2012 aka “Mega X” was the after party. I went up with about 20 of my friends from CrossFire Firebase and we had a spectacularly good time. Traversing the 26 mile course was fun and difficult, every bit as kickass as last year. Having done two Megas, I fully plan on going back in 2013. It’s still that good. Below I’ll tell why.
What I Liked
The way I think about Mega the race, I think of a great fighter who humbles me when I finally show up for the battle. I get a good long beatdown and a tremendous learning experience. It is good to be humbled as an athlete, because it gives you perspective on your physical self. It’s healthy for the spirit. Every climb at Mega is a cathartic experience and every descent is a victory. Simply finishing the race is an accomplishment. If you’re a serious athlete, you have to put yourself through these grand experiences or else you’ll never grow. That’s something I figured out last year and something I’ll continue to schedule yearly as long as I’m healthy. Mega is the perfect grand experience.
In my previous post I gave an overview of Kokoro Camp 25. In this post I’ll review what I did to train and offer some ideas for anyone considering Kokoro.
Personal Fitness Standards
Coach Divine recently updated the fitness standards for Kokoro and they are the following:
- Minimum 50 push ups (40 for women), 50 sit-ups and 50 air squats in 2 minutes each.
- 10 dead hang pullups for men, 6 women
- 1 mile run in boots and utility pants on road in 9:30
- Body Armor (aka Murph) with 20# pack (15# for women): 1 hour and 10 minutes minimum
- 10 mile run in less than 1:20 (recommended)
- 20 mile ruck hike with load in less than 6 hours (recommended)
This is me speculating, but I think because of the growing popularity of Kokoro Camp, Coach Divine is putting a renewed emphasis on the basic skills of running, rucking, and body weight PT to make sure attendees have those skills.
It’s kind of useless to describe Kokoro to people who don’t know about things like SealFit or BUD/S or Q-Course. What I usually say is, Kokoro is a military-style adventure event where you work out for 50+ straight hours and it involves team building and mental toughness challenges. The reality is it’s a two-day beatdown that involves finding your Warrior Spirit and pushing yourself to do 20X more than you thought possible. There are a lot of pushups, a lot of rucking, a lot of chaffing, a lot of yelling, no sleep, and it costs nearly $1300 for the privilege of embracing the suck. Coaches are former Navy Seals.
I’ll try to answer the question of why to do Kokoro, or at least why I did it, because it’s a legit question. This will be the first in a 3-part series of posts on Kokoro. I’ll address training and gear in the second and third posts:
I haven’t blogged about this, but my buddy Junior and I have been training for months to participate in Kokoro Camp. The date is finally here…we’re leaving for California tomorrow morning and will be at SealFit HQ by Friday at noon. If you haven’t heard of it, Kokoro Camp is a 50+ hour military-style camp modeled after the infamous BUD/S program that Navy Seals go through. I’m anticipating an extremely high reading on the Suck-o-meter with lots of me getting my ass kicked.
From the SealFit website:
As the world’s premier training camp for forging mental toughness, an Unbeatable Mind and a warrior’s spirit, the camp is an intense crucible experience modeled off of the famous Navy SEAL Hell Week. The difference is that Kokoro is built to teach through experience, rather than try to make you into a quitter.
The Rush 24 is a mid-size backpack offering from 5.11 Tactical. I’m a fanboy of 5.11 Tactical gear and I’ve done long term tests of several of their items, including the Rush 24. (Full disclosure: 5.11 provided me with all of the gear to review.) If you’re interested in a review of the MOAB 10 shoulder bag, check it out here: Rush MOAB 10 Shoulder Bag.
I use my Rush 24 six days per week primarily as a gear bag when I go to the CrossFit gym, but it’s also my go-to bag for overnighters and weekend trips. It has a generous 2000 cubic inches of space in the main compartment and plenty of pockets and pouches for smaller items. Dimensions are 20″H x 12.5″L x 8″D. See their product description page for a full list of features. There are WAY too many pockets to tour all of them in this space, so I’ll let the pics below do the talking. I will say my favorite pocket is the sunglasses pocket…I use this little fleece lined fella virtually every time I step into the gym and it’s an ingenius addition.
I’ve been super busy with freelance lately and haven’t had much chance to blog. I am happy to report that I just launched a website for my friend’s gym, CrossFit Iron Legion, the newest CrossFit facility in Ocala, Florida. Please stop by and let me know what you think. The logos and graphic work were done by a fellow Firebaser, Patrick Randle, and I think he did a fantastic job.
I was able to implement a low cost solution for gym owner Ted Dreaver. I installed WordPress on his Hostgator account and loaded the premium theme Reaction by Brandon Jones. I tweaked the CSS and loaded some custom graphics and Ted was rolling within two weeks. Ted was looking for a dark, “gritty” theme so Reaction with it’s dark version worked really well here.
In its second year, Beast Mode Battle (BMB) is hosted by CrossFit Militia of Lauderhill, Florida. BMB boasted 334 competitors, making it one of the biggest regional events of the year. As usual, the men’s side of the house was well represented, with 199 male competitors between the Rx, Masters, and Scaled divisions.
The BMB claim-to-fame is a unique format where all events are back-to-back and completed in exactly 60’. I’ll explain below.
The setting was the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds. I’ve never competed in a rodeo stadium…scratch that, I’ve never been in a rodeo stadium, so this was a cool experience. There was ample space for spectating and the roof with huge fans made it reasonably cool. The competition floor was packed dirt. The dirt made the shuttle runs, walking lunges and burpees a little more challenging.