4/14 Night Ruck Backblast – Hard Rain 2

Q-dre: Captain Insane-o (YHC), Zartan

Pax (9): OJ, PK, Star Child, Mouth, Tool Time, Diablo, Mad Cow, Zartan, CI

Objective: Ruck over 10 miles, starting at 2100 and ending at 0100 through a challenging, hilly environment with PT and fellowship.

Method: I’ll be real honest, I forgot I signed up to plan this one. Zartan and I had a collective “oh shit” moment earlier this week when he reminded me. Being the great friend he is, he jumped right in to co-Q this beast (despite having single-handedly planning the prior night ruck that has been described as epic).

YHC didn’t want to repeat what Zartan did. Even if it was banally derivative, it wouldn’t respect the original, so I thought long and hard about what I could add that was different, yet challenging. As I stared at my computer at the spot I wanted to start — the Louisville Zoo — and I ran Zartan’s comment, “I want to do a lot of hills” through my head, it dawned on me.

A Map.

Yea, it doesn’t have that much POP on paper does it? Bear with me because I think it worked.

From the Louisville Zoo to Bellarmine University — our initial course — would put us into the Highlands proper, which is an older neighborhood filled with short, hilly roads that would be a good test.

And I knew I wanted to make it to a cool park in Louisville, Tyler Park, which is divided by a road and has a tunnel between both sides. And I wanted to make it hard for the Pax to just zoom from one spot to another. No phones. Just a grainy, crappy (beautifully laminated) Map. Ok. I’m nerd. Turns out, though, PK loves maps, too. Direct quote from PK: “I love maps.” Suck it.

After that Zartan and I had a bunch more to plan, so we did. And as you’ll see (not that I’d tell you if it didn’t), the plan came together.

I’m going to try to describe this real time as if I was a participant with added context as we go.

Execution: I dropped my rig off near Endex and hopped a ride with Zartan, Mouth and Val to the start: The Louisville Zoo. I had previously obtained permission for us to park here, and we got there around 2040.

As the Pax rolled in — Diablo was there when we got there (he may have slept there) — I couldn’t contain my excitement. I felt good, despite going to Zoo’s birthday beatdown earlier that day, and I was pretty confident that Z and I had something unique and challenging.

Most amazing is that it wasn’t raining. Well, it was sprinkling a little, but they had been predicting rain at 100% from 2000 until the next day. So it was nice to start in a T-shirt and challenge pants. Maybe a little warm, but all good.

YHC and Zartan gave a long disclaimer: safety first, not professionals, not cadre so we had to do all penalties and challenges the Pax did, leader had to ensure safe street crossing, communicate, YHC had a phone for 911, and a plan if the cops stopped us (Zartan would try to charm him/her, then Diablo or YHC would lawyer him/her; great plan). Also, it was important to keep your Map; losing the Map would result in penalties, as would any miss on the challenges: 20 Manmakers (basically a ruck in hand burpee).

We all took turns hand weighing each other’s rucks. And I almost volunteered to carry Mouth’s closet of clothes he brought. Val, the 60 lb sandbag Q, sat in the lot mocking us. We’d have to carry him the entire time.

Eventually, we got our gear right, and we started a little early. 5 minutes early to be exact.

We were off. Errr, not really. Mad Cow forget to lock his rig, so we jogged back, and then …. We were off.

Part 1: With Zartan on the lead, he took us the long way out of the Zoo lot and around Joe Creason Park. We’d switch Val every .2 miles. As we walked up the road, you could tell we were all excited. Lots of banter and laughs. Zartan ended it pretty quick.

For those of you following along, Joe Creason is the site of the Carpenter — the Tuesday Highlands Tank Top Friendly workout that YHC site Qs — and there are coupons there. Used to be 20 until some punks broke about 5 of them. Anyway, Z had us grab coupons and mosey up to the field. There we did some PT:

Coupon plank up/downs (woof, these are hard with a 45 lb ruck on your back; think an incline push up)

Al Gores with Ruck on

Flutter kicks with coupon

And then a really cool set of AMRAP coupon curls where each Pax shared full name, M’s name and years of marriage. Then, we did an AMRAP of coupon rows and talked about our 2.0s and their names.

Then, we moved to the field. We dropped our rucks and coupons and did a nice jog to loosen the legs.

Then, we did a Louisville Honeypot (coupon bearcrawl) inchworm. Each Pax planked on the coupon, Pax in back LPH’d to the front. Repeato. Again, woof. This was hard, and we were only 30 minutes into the whole affair.

Then, Zartan asked for a leader. OJ stepped up. Z gave him a short period of time to solve this riddle: All Pax must plank, but only one of the nine can touch the ground and only his feet. After a little chatter and one more recitation of the challenge, OJ and the Pax got it. I won’t tell you the answer because I don’t kiss and tell, and you may have to do it yourself someday.

We did some more PT. Then, we returned the coupons and lined up for another Zartan challenge.

Zartan had us line up single file toward the next destination point. We did a back to front and front to back sandbag pass. This was a cool teamwork challenge that required communication and physical exertion. It also was the first time we saw the cops. In fact, a Metro police car rolled right by us as we flagrantly ignored park rules on closing times.

We started back on our course as the cop drove to a nearby parking lot. We crossed right in front of the car, thinking it’s was inevitable that we’d be stopped. But, thankfully a kidnapper van was also rolling through the park and it was the appropriate focus on the cop’s attention. Thank you kidnapper van.

Part 2: Part 2 was a speed ruck from Joe Creason to the entrance of Bellarmine University. It turns out that PK went here and graduated in 4 years. Pretty impressive. It would also turn out that PK knows ALL of the streets in this area. As we’d learn, PK don’t need no stinkin’ Map.

At the entrance of Bellarmine, we did a quick gear check and got our first heckle. Two ladies in a red convertible pulled up and asked us what we were doing; a question we got often during the night. What was different about this was it WAS raining at this point, and they had their TOP DOWN. Pretty sure it was Diablo that simply responded to them with, “What are YOU doing?” This was going to be fine.

After that excitement died down, YHC explained the next challenge. From the point we stood, we had to ruck to the tunnel at Tyler Park. The Map would help because at no time could we be on a road for more than .25 miles and we couldn’t go on any main road. Got it? Good.

At this point, I didn’t know that PK was basically a Highlands cartographer. The other Pax HAD NO F’ING CLUE. In fact, my guess is had PK not been there, we’d still be out. Not only was the map hard to read, they didn’t know any of the streets (the Map purposefully left names off) and none knew that Tyler park had a tunnel.

But, alas, PK — the Magellan of the Highlands — took the lead. He neatly folded up his Map and put it in his pocket. Essentially a middle finger to YHC. And we were off.

The entrance to Bellarmine is a giant hill. And I had driven the route prior. I knew this would present an immediate challenge because there was only one route. And that route would lead to a nine foot chain link fence that blocked our progress. After a little refresher on the rules, we made it to that point.

I explained the two options: 1. Scale the fence; 2. Penal…. And Mouth was already over the fence. I think he literally hurdled it. With Mouth on one side and the rest on the other, I’m sure we all thought of the two options: 1. Turn around and leave him; 2. Go a different route and take the penalty. But the 2nd F was stronger than the four letter F. So over the fence we went.

What I love about this photo is Diablo’s hand out to help and Zartan’s look of concern. Mouth was already .25 miles down the road.

We continued under PK’s Nordic-like direction through the streets of the Belknap neighborhood. We passed Endex once and the crew longed to go in for a beer. Too bad we were only an hour in, and they didn’t really know it was Endex. Then, as PK guided us with deft skill, Star Child showed up.

As some of you may know, we’re heading to Toledo for a GROWRUCK at the end of this month. This Ruck is a training for the Tough that will accompany that event. None of us know Toledo, and it’s clear many of us are Map-challenged. So Star Child looks at PK and says, “PK, how well do you know the streets of Toledo.” It was perfect.

We trudged along, and PK led us to one of the two roads that crossed Eastern Parkway to the entrance of Tyler Park, without a single penalty. Woof. Great job. Map be damned.

As we rolled in to Tyler Park to the tunnel (which I had planned assuming it would be pouring rain; not yet), a few of us reminisced about dalliances from the past. And we shared some laughs. At this point we were 1.5 hours and about 4.5 miles in, and everyone was feeling good.

Part 3: In the tunnel, we did a gear check, got some food and hydrated. Then, YHC took over for more PT:

Pack off, over head flutter kicks 30x IC

Elbow plank circle where everyone shared their first F3 workout, their EH, and their favorite moment so far. Lots of votes for the 3rd F efforts this group has done so far, Zartan’s night ruck, and even a vote for this ruck (yea!). I won’t share others because it’s theirs, but I shared that one of my favorite moments was the Hard Rain workout where Zoo and Quimby and Old Bay (I think) first came. It was a torrential down pour with lightening and a crazy burpback mountain workout. I remember waking up to my phone blown up with questions: “We go in this shit?” And my single answer: “Yes”. As Zartan said last night, that workout set the tone (in many ways) for future workouts, and it would certainly set the tone for this night, as the rain started to come down in earnest as we left the tunnel to the next part.

More flutter kicks 25 IC.

Pack on Al Gore Sand Bag circle pass with an Overhead press. Then, we were ready to move again.

Part 4: OJ and Tool Time were designated casualties. So that meant 7 Pax to carry two casualties, two extra rucks and Val. We had to cover a distance just shy of a mile to get to our next beacon point. Diablo led.

Through a variety of carry methods, switches and physical exertion, we made it. The rain was driving at this point. This was hard.

Of course, Mad Cow Larry Birded it. He simply picked up OJ with one hand (OJ weighs almost 180), called us all p$ssies, and started walking. YHC took pictures. Someone had to carry that heavy phone.

We got to the beacon point. The corner of Barrett and Winter. At this point, it was time for the next challenge.

Part 5: Zartan tapped me and said this is Mad Cow’s time to lead, so I voluntold Mad Cow it was his challenge. Very simply, without using main roads (other than to cross), he had to get us to the circle entrance to Cherokee Park in 26 minutes. No .25 distance restrictions, but if we walked on a main road other than to cross it was a penalty. And if we didn’t make it, the penalty would be horrible. Every minute over, 20 man makers.

It’s hard to describe this part other than to say we speed rucked through one of the hilliest areas in Louisville. And we made a couple of wrong turns that required us to walk through a yard, cut through an alley and consider jumping some more fences. I’m pretty sure that the maniacal laughs coming from Zartan and YHC at every turn didn’t help. I think the Pax thought we knew where we were going and our laughs were an indication of us anticipating their failure. Nah, we were just telling dick jokes.

As we moved closer to Cherokee Park, the Pax started to spread out a bit. Val was taking on water and getting heavier. The hills were steep. And the Pax ahead was dead set to make the time. YHC kept a constant countdown so we knew where we stood.

Now, between us, Zartan and I set this up as a failure task. We settled on 26 minutes because we thought it was reasonable enough to give the Pax hope, but still impossible. Consider us shocked when we rolled to the beacon point with two minutes to spare. Woof.

Here we are about 1/2 way through the ruck. We look happy, right. A little wet, but no worse for wear. After a Map and gear check, we took off for the next part.

Part 6: Next, we headed into Cherokee Park to Hogan’s Fountain. This is another major climb to a covered pavilion. A little reprieve from the rain, but not from PT. Here Zartan led us through step ups, decline plank up/downs and YHC made us do picnic table dips (which was silly).

Star Child took the lead to get us back to Bardstown Road; perhaps the simplest challenge yet. But it didn’t prove easy. It was at this point that PK’s brain map hadn’t been updated for construction, so Star Child had to rely on his map reading skills. All I’ll say is let’s hope we can use Siri when he drives us to Toledo.

Regardless, through the mean streets of Cherokee circle, we made it back. We passed YHC’s first condo where the M and I started our life together. And, again, Star Child showed up.

As I mentioned, Val was getting heavy. When Mouth asked Star Child if we were going the right way, Star Child said, “Here, take Val and I’ll check.” As Mouth heaved Val onto his weary shoulders, Star Child looked at him, looked in the direction we were heading, made no move for the Map and simply said, “Yep, we’re going the right way.” Perfect.

We all told stories and lies for a while, and we turned onto Bardstown Road to give the masses what they wanted: A glimpse of nine studs (idiots) walking in the rain, carrying heavy stuff down one of the busiest roads in Louisville at midnight. It was raining so the catcalls were at a minimum, but the looks, oh the looks we got. Priceless.

A ways down Bardstown Road we stopped for a gear check and refuel. Zartan and I discussed our next move. We had a couple of signs to speed up/slow down/do PT, and we had a general sense of where we were spatial and temporally. But we weren’t sure if we were at a point to go to Endex. But we came up with a plan with a contingency and a rule.

Part 7: We’d ruck to a point near Endex, Tool Time (who admittedly had no knowledge of the area) would lead, .25 rule would be in effect, and PK couldn’t help with directions. Little did we know this would succeed/fail on an epic scale.

Back to the Map. When I say it’s was grainy, I understate it. I actually reduced the sharpness on everyone’s map, but mine. There were very few road names and no key for scale/distance. Under PK’s lead, no one had a need to measure distance and then plot it on the map. Huge mistake. And apparently no one paid attention to the route because we got lost. Huge mistake. Seriously, the Pax got lost. Lost on a corner we had just been on, to be very clear. Yep, that’s right. We stood at the corner of Baxter and Winter and the Pax, including Tool Time, were lost. We had just been there carrying two casualties about an hour earlier!

But, Tool Time got it together. We rucked up a serious hill, and he had us back on track. That is, until we took a wrong turn down a road that is a good .4 miles. I warned him. I tried to tell him. We were dangerously close to violating the .25 rule. And then we did.

I don’t know why but I was smiling. 20 Manmakers would suck, but we’d had no penalties so far, and I was getting worried by plan was bunk. I guess selfishly this was validation that had we not had PK the Mapman, we’d have struggled more. And the struggle makes us better.

Anyway, we gutted out the 20 Manmakers. I’ll tell you this sucked. We were in a puddle. It was getting cold. We were wet. We were all getting sore and tired. And it was only 0030.

Back on the ruck after the penalty, the Pax miraculously got it together. I won’t go into how because it doesn’t matter since this is a free workout with no rules, but the Pax all of the sudden learned how to read the Map. I’ll only say, maybe we should have left Mouth after he jumped the fence in Part 2.

But the route requirements pushed time. The .25 rule required a lot of stair stepping through the neighborhood which added miles and hills. It was 0105. And at this point, we approached Norris, which gave us a straight shot to Endex: Shenanigans Irish Pub. So, I called the challenge and we speed rucked to the warm confines of one of my old haunts for a few cold ones.

Do you see PK in there? He’s the guy in the button down. He’s also the guy earlier in this backblast who looks like he’s wearing sealskin on top of the fence we scaled. Right, he was soaked, dressed in black from head to toe. But when we got to the bar, he Clark Kented into this:

That’s right. The Human Map also packed for a night out at the club! No wonder his Ruck weighed 60 lbs.

At Shenanigans we shared some laughs, debriefed, lamented how sore and wet were were, devised a plan to hit Waffle House after the bar, and made a new friend: Kelly the bartender. She acted interested in our idiotic antics and even took it so far to try on Diablo’s ruck.

At this point, it was clear it was time to leave. Plus, YHC and others were ravenous and the healthy plates of the Awful Waffle beckoned. Some ubered back; some jumped in YHC’s rig back to the cars that the Zoo.

5 Pax hit Waffle House, while 4 went home. YHC hit the sack at 0300.

Gearlander: Black mudgear F3Louisville fitted shirt (smedium that became one with me); coyote Challenge Pants; Injinji performance toe socks under features running socks; New balance trail shoes; Mechanix leather palm gloves; Mudgear Tac Hat with blue line American Flag patch (just in case the cops stopped us); Mountain Hardware rain jacket (never worn despite the rain) in my GORUCK Steele Rucker; dry bag with dry shirt, socks, wallet keys. My iPhone stopped working after Cherokee park, but started working again.

Conditions: Varying from 70* down to 65*; started with spitting rain, ended with steady rain and a solid breeze.

Observations: YHC won’t say the ruck itself was awesome because I had a big part in planning it, but I felt like it worked. It was somewhat original, and I can’t thank my guy Zartan enough for filling in all the cool stuff he did and brought.

The fellowship, physical output, mental strength and toughness that developed and were required were awesome. I was with 9 men who have all been married for more than 10 years to the same M, who they clearly love and respect. We all have 2.0s that we’re trying to raise to be quality members of society. While our Ms rolled their eyes about this a little, I know one Pax who got a “go get em” note as we started, and my M just told me that she regaled folks at the party I slid out of with the plan and one of her friends said, “wow, I kind of want to do that.” Bottom line, it was really good for me, even as I sit here with sore legs and a hungry, rumbling stomach. I strengthened myself in many ways last night, and I truly appreciate the men that were with me who helped do that.

Sorry if I left anything out. Please add it in the comments below. I’m sure someone will read this….

CI out to ice my legs.

4 thoughts on “4/14 Night Ruck Backblast – Hard Rain 2

  1. Awesome backblast and had me laughing out loud numerous times. I am a HC for the next one…I’ve missed a lot in the last few months…health issues, work constraints….blah, blah, blah…and it has weighed on me….I miss this and you guys in the gloom…see all this week! Quimby

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your backblasts are always entertaining. I do know that Tyler Park has a tunnel 🙂 A very cool one dividing the park in half, as you said. My Aunt has been a Highlands resident since the 90’s. I’ve seen that tunnel a TON. Other than wanting to claim my tunnel knowledge, I’m speechless while also thinking ‘damn’, as in I’m impressed. I also love maps. I bet PK owns a few Gazateers. I’ll have to ask him. I do.

    Liked by 1 person

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