Sunday, July 16, 2017

Indiana Hurricane Heat HH-116

You might have read my blog posts on my first Hurricane Heat experience in Chicago here and here. If not, they might be worth reviewing for some of the basics of Hurricane Heat (HH) mechanics. That said, let’s dive right into the story.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times – oh wait, I think that’s already been used by another author. While initially I was thinking it was a funny opener it is very fitting for my Indiana HH experience. How you might wonder? Only one way to find out – read on!

My son and I drove down to Perfect North Slopes in Lawrenceburg, Indiana Saturday afternoon with plenty of time to arrive early. We needed to locate the rally point and neither of us had been to this location before.  Contrary to popular belief southern Indiana does have hills and as usual, Spartan makes good use of them. The Sprint course looked like it went up and down at least three times but I am not sure since we didn’t run it. We met up with some other HH participants who were easy to spot with their 2.5 gallon buckets which was one of our special items we needed to bring. We sat around and chatted a bit and I got to meet up with Jillian, who had been a teammate of mine in the Chicago HH. I am learning the Spartan community is a small, but very diverse group of people and it is nice to find familiar faces at the events
This HH was different from the others that have been run as it was close to the 4th of July holiday here in America and we were instructed to deviate from the usual black shirt, no logos, to either a red, white or blue shirt. This rule also applied to the Palmerton HH (HH-115) that was running at the same time ours was. As the time drew closer, another familiar face, Jeff, was given the task of getting us checked in and waivers collected.  It wasn’t long after our krypteia arrived and we met Dylan and Mike. We knew these guys were serious dudes from the get go and we stacked our buckets per their instructions and lined up. They instructed us in how to count (zero instead of “o”) and we began counting off. We started with some calisthenics like pushups, flutter kicks and leg lifts.

In what seems to be a regular thing for the HH, we had people show up late but the group wasn’t punished for their tardiness thankfully. We did have some challenges counting and that sparked an escalation where we were told to get into the pond and to move with purpose. We did and then enjoyed some aqua pushups and flutterkicks. We also practiced a mantra of “Attention to detail” on the down movement and “Teamwork is key” on the up movement.  We were in and out of the water and filled our buckets up before dumping them on our heads a few times. Now that the “warm up” was done, it was time for the HH to really begin.  (Yeah – all of that was the warm up.  Sounds like fun – sign up for one!)

Our first activity was to walk around the perimeter of the pond -in the water – and pair up with someone to do a fireman’s carry. Those of you I’ve met know you want absolutely nothing to do with trying to carry me anywhere – LOL. I knew this would be an issue and my partner was up for the challenge. We tried but it wasn’t going to work with him carrying me so another guy and I teamed up to carry him. We made it a few steps before my footing slipped on the slime and rocks in the water and I tripped twisting my knee in a painful way. I crawled out of the pond and gimped around a bit to make sure there was no serious damage and thankfully there was not. It hurt like hell but I could move it and put weight on it. Mike asked me if I needed a medic and I declined. I didn’t want to DNF on the first activity.  I got back in the pond and my partner and I walked to the rest of the group. Warrior’s Ethos #4 in full effect.

Our next activity was to bear crawl across some pontoons on the pond and then back around to the line. Yeah, you read right, we are bear crawling again. Imagine my despair but I wasn’t going to quit. I bear crawled across the pontoons and then stopped to put on my knee pads that I brought along just in case before making my way back to my line. We then got back in the water, got out and crawled through a storm pipe under the gravel road. This was a bit claustrophobic, but it was empty and only 20 feet long. Dylan congratulated us on our excellent listening and teamwork before having us get in the creek and do a variation of “Tunnel of Love” with a low crawl under everyone. This was a fun, wet, muddy and painful challenge as the creek was low on water and had plenty of rocks.

Once we completed it, we paired up and did some “couple’s therapy” by duct taping ourselves to a partner at the wrist and ankle. I was paired up with a great guy, Jeff, who has completed multiple Spartan Agoges, HH12HR and HH. He helped me with the technique and encouraged me through the parts where I was gassed and needed to pause. We crawled through the creek, then into the mud pits and under the dunk wall from the Sprint course. It was mega muddy and of course, there was some rough ground to crawl over as well for extra fun.

We then sat and listened to our krypteia talk for a bit. This was Dylan’s last HH as he is shifting his focus to Agoge events and being a race director. We also learned he was a US Marine in Force Recon – no wonder this dude was a take no crap from anyone kind of guy. Mike was officially being promoted to krypteia and he was US Army and served in Old Ironsides heavy artillery – another take no crap kind of guy. We also had the opportunity to hear from CJ, also former US Army, who served as a medic for the Night Stalkers in some rough places. These guys are amazing and we all learned a lot about teamwork, the price of freedom and service from them. We were able to be crawling around in the mud and doing stuff in the pond because of people like them – thank you to all of our past, current and future servicemen and women.

We then worked on some team building activities like transporting casualties up a stone wall and then transporting them across a field. Our krypteia had spotted some logs earlier so our next tasks involved them. We worked together as a team to extract what I am guessing was a 30 foot log and transport it. We used various mechanisms like shoulder carry and high carries (above our head) as well as worked on team communication for swapping people in and out as they wore down. We also transported them across the pontoons, which was a treat when our pontoon collapsed under the weight of us and the log and then across part of the Sprint course. We were successful and then carried the log back to its original location.

Our next activity was a sprint led by Dylan. We took us back to the Sprint course and then partially up the ski slopes. I was doing OK in the flat but once we hit the slope I had to walk but eventually joined the team and was also happy to not be the only one who was gassed out.  We posed for our team picture as it was getting dark and then celebrated by forward rolling down the ski slope. While at face value this sounds fun, a ski slope in the summer is a rough place with plenty of rocks and dirt to keep you surprised. I ended up barrel rolling down along with a few others. My knee was still shaky from the earlier attempt at a Fireman’s Carry so squatting down to forward roll was extra painful. We made it to the bottom to find that one of our team mates had blacked out and was going into shock. It was pretty warm and humid and I suspect dehydration got the best of her. I know I drained my entire Camelbak pack during the event. She was given medical attention and we returned to the rally point. It was official – we survived another HH! 

We talked a bit about the experience and some people shared what they learned about themselves during the event. I know it sounds trite but a HH is a transformative event and you will push yourself outside of comfort zones and beyond when you think you’d quit. It’s amazing and I see why people come back for more.  We collected our swag and my son and I posed for pictures with the Corn Fed Spartan participants. As I walked back towards my car I was exhausted and proud at the same time. This was a very physically demanding event and I didn’t quit. I certainly wanted to multiple times but part of what I am learning at these events is to shut that quitting voice down and push through.
I learned about of my various scrapes, scratches and bruises at the hotel when I got cleaned up. They are reminders of what I’ve accomplished and more importantly what I can do when I stick with it.  For the record, they didn’t look as bad Saturday night as they did Monday.  Check this out. 

So I guess the real question is what is next? Spartan has the answer to that in the form of a 12 hour Hurricane Heat event. My son just completed his at Palmerton but I know I am not physically prepared for that event. There is also the Ultra Beast which we are doing in Dallas in October.  Part of our prep for that event will be to complete an ultra-marathon (50k) in early October so my sights are set on that. Along the way we’ll have more Spartan Races and trail runs. We are also signed up for the Ultra Championships in Iceland in December so hopefully that event happens as it sounds amazing! I am hopeful that my preparation for these Ultra events will prepare me for the HH12HR and possibly the Agoge. Time will tell but after 2 HH I know I have the ability to do just about anything I set my mind to.

Here are some assorted pics from the HH that I wanted to fit into the blog but instead and putting them here.

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