GoRuck Challenge

Ever heard of the GoRuck Challenge? I confess – I had never heard of it until one of our former WOOT members sent me this story about it. Well hold on, I’ll back up a minute, I had previously heard about it, because my husband has mentioned it as one of his “bucket list” goals – I just didn’t realize that it was the same challenge that Amy Hester recently completed in Florida. 

Here’s how Jason, former Green Beret and founder of GoRuck, describes the challenge:

Inspired by the most elite training offered to Special Forces soldiers and led by Green Berets, the GORUCK Challenge is a team event and never a race. Challenge cadre build each class into a team through collective conditions of mental and physical exhaustion. Classes are small, camaraderie is high, smiles are plentiful, and teamwork is paramount.

I’ll let Amy explain the rest and share her story with you, which by the way, is a must-read if you’re a challenge-seeker (and I know many of you WOOT ladies are!!!)

GoRuck Challenge 

01/05-01/06/2013            10PM – 10AM    CLASS 373            Distance Covered:  22+ miles

Amy D. Hester  Photo Credits: Andy Farina and Greg Stroud

What an incredibly amazing experience! I have never felt so accomplished and powerful!
We began our adventure at Norman Field on the University of Florida campus. The event began at 10pm, but our group arrived at 9pm for some strategy talk and intros for those that couldn’t make it to the RuckOff (the RuckOff is an informal night of drinking the evening before the event). Our group started with ten people – George, Jeff, Pat, Remus, Robbie, Rob, Nick, James, Pascale, and me. The incredibleness of the adventure started immediately. I wasn’t expecting the turnout, but there were 30-40 people at the start to support us – former GoRuckers and friends of teammates. The positive energy was bouncing off the walls of the parking garage. It was like the starting line of a big marathon, but more intimate and, for me, more powerful.
At 10pm we got in formation and opened our rucks for brick inspection. Part of the challenge of the ruck is carrying weight. If you weigh <150 pounds, you get 4 bricks, over 150 pounds and you’re carrying 6 bricks. I just met 6 brick standards – DOH! All bricks must be wrapped (light layer of bubble wrap and duct tape) and labeled (name and phone number). With the bricks, hydration pack, fuel, extra socks, etc. my pack weighed between 35-40 pounds.
After the brick inspection and introduction of our cadre – Garrett Noon – we were ready for the welcome party. That might be the biggest misnomer ever because what happens for the next 2-3 hours is anything but welcoming. All cadres assigned by GoRuck have some kind of Special Forces military training. Garrett is a Green Beret. They take their Special Forces training to make a hellacious boot camp to open the challenge. Welcome party, my ass.
I’m not sure of the time frame because no watches, phones, etc. are allowed, but for what I think was 2-3 hours, we did push-ups, squats, flutter kicks, bench press with ruck, military press, bear crawls, monkey f**kers and other things I’m sure I’m forgetting. And all of this is done with your ruck on. During the welcome party was the only time I would question myself to why I was doing this, but quitting never entered my mind.
Some of the hardest parts of the welcome party were the ranger push-ups and the centipede. For both of these your feet are on someone’s shoulders and someone’s feet are on your shoulders. We couldn’t stop doing them until everyone was able to lift themselves off the ground. The welcome party also included a couple runs around the neighborhoods near Norman Field and a dip into a retention pond. The water was chilly, but not bad. Half of us did push-ups while the other half did deep squats so we were all wet up to our chests.

On the run back from the pond our formation had too many gaps (you must be next to a person and the person in front of you must be one arm’s length away) so upon returning to Norman Field we got to work on teamwork. This entailed working with a buddy. The first drill included you and your buddy sprinting for 3-5 seconds and then face crawling for 3-5 seconds the length of the field and back. After that we got to buddy carry our partner the length of the field and they carried us back. I now know I can buddy carry about 200 pounds and that getting carried sucks way more than carrying – so uncomfortable.

Once the welcome party was over we were given our mission. In our scenario the Florida Gators had lost the national championship and the locals are rioting. We’ve been called in to support the National Guard. For each leg of the mission the cadre assigned a troop leader and an assistant troop leader. This was a great leadership opportunity. On the first leg of the mission we had to make it from Norman Field to Kanapaha Park in under 2 hours. I think it’s a little over 7 miles so if you consider that we’re on foot with weighted rucks, a team weight (an additional 25 pounds just because), a large American flag displayed on a pole, and that we needed to stay in formation, we needed to really hoof it.

Within the first mile and a half our cadre determined that our formation wasn’t tight enough and we needed to work on our teamwork. We buddied up again and did the alternating sprints and face crawls for the length of a football field and back. We hadn’t quite learned what teamwork was at that point so we had to buddy carry our partner with their rucks the length of the field and they carried us back. I felt bad for my partner Pascale because I have about 6 pounds on her plus 2 additional bricks, but she was a beast.

After team building we carried on down Archer Road (a main thoroughfare in Gainesville). We must have been quite the sight marching down the road in formation with our flag sometime after 1am. We alternated fast walking and shuffling until we arrived at the park. We got in formation and learned we made it in 1:59.48. Whew! That was close.

The park we were at is a memorial for all those killed at war throughout America’s history. It was pretty sombering and a good reminder of the importance of the flag we were carrying.

We were allowed to fill our hydration packs and fuel up (I was chomping Shot Bloks) and then get back in formation. At this point our cadre drilled us with where our teammates are from, full names, and if they had kids. We were supposed to have gathered this information over the last 2 hours because our cadre emphasized the importance of knowing the people you’re going to battle with. A few members were too slow in recalling names so the disgusted cadre had us run laps around the memorial.

Our next leg of the mission came and we needed to assist the National Guard who was setting up blockades by bringing them a “barricade”. Our barricade was a heavy log that 3-4 of us took turns carrying. I am not sure of the distance, but I believe it was a good 4 miles. We also entered hostile territory and had to remain silent while transporting. This caused us to come up with creative ways to rotate people on and off the barricade. This was one of 2 points I felt like I wasn’t doing enough for my team. I was too short to carry any real weight. The team was also limited because Remus had convinced himself miles ago that he couldn’t do it. Even though the team carried his ruck and tried to help, once those thoughts have entered your head, you’re a goner.

When we got to where the barricade was needed, cadre gave us permission to put down the barricade and prop the flag during our 5 minute break. About 90 seconds into our break (mid-pee squat thank you very much) we were ordered back into formation. Someone had put the team weight down without permission and we needed to be punished. We took turns doing military presses with our logs and our rucks. Yowzers. After that reminder no further break was given and we marched/shuffled on.

During this part of the march Remus was feeling pretty low. I was assistant troop leader at this time and I talked to him, the troop leader talked to him, the cadre talked to him, but we weren’t able to bring him around. With Remus mentally out, our formation started to suffer. The cadre of course noticed this and took away strap privileges. I didn’t even know straps were a privilege, but you sure miss them when you can’t use them. We wound up bear hugging or having our ruck up on one shoulder for about ¾ mile. Soon after we regained our strap privileges the cadre found another retention pond near the Florida Museum of Natural History (where I work) and boy was it chilly. We didn’t stay in long, but long enough to do submerged push-ups and flutter kicks. At this point Remus quit and the rest of us continued to shuffle.

We reached our next destination just as the sky was lightening, maybe close to 7am. Seeing light in the sky is such an incredible mental boost. It just confirms that we are going to make it. After a break to refill water and make adjustments, we were on to the next leg of the mission. But before the next mission our cadre led us in some morning calisthenics with our rucks as the sun came up. This was all courtesy of the Asian influence the cadre received while in the military (he spent time in Korea and Okinawa). Kettle bell swings with a 35+ pound ruck after 10 hours of work is no joke.

After calisthenics, the National Guard was in a fire fight and running out of “ammo”. The ammo consisted of 20 pounds of rocks, logs, whatever for every 2 people in the group. Even though Remus had dropped we still needed approximately 100 pounds of ammo between us. That plus the team weight plus the flag made maneuvering much more difficult. Plus, we needed to hustle because our guys were getting pinned down with no ammo. About a 1.2 mile from our destination the cadre decided we needed more team weight – a 20+ pound chunk of concrete. That weight stayed with us the rest of the challenge.

When we got to Lake Alice, a lake in the center of UF campus notorious for alligators, we threw our ammo in to the lake to see if it caused any movement. It didn’t so in we went. As we trudged into the lake all I could think of initially was the half-eaten Labrador I had seen here years ago. However, after we stirred up the water and the stench hit us, I was just hoping to not catch any flesh-eating diseases. The cadre took it pretty easy on us with some submerged push-ups and then let us out. I’m pretty sure he didn’t want the paperwork involved with one of us getting munched. We went from the lake to the Swamp, also known as Florida Field, home of the fightin’ Gators. This stadium has 90 rows and we covered them all up and down three times arm-in-arm with a buddy and our rucks still on. It was definitely a challenge this far into the mission.

After the stadium we were headed to the end when we encountered “casualties”. Two of our team had “died” and could no longer walk or carry weight. So between 7 people we were carrying 2 people, 9 rucks, 2 team weights, the flag, and a partridge in a pear tree. This was the second time that I felt I was an inadequate teammate. I could carry 2 rucks and the team weight, but didn’t think I was strong enough to carry the casualties. I’m still kicking myself for not trying.

The team trudged on for over a mile with the additional load and finally made our way back to Norman Field at 10am. In those 12 hours we had covered over 22 miles and learned a lot about ourselves. There was an incredible welcoming committee when we finished and a wife of one of the teammates brought out a camp stove and made us all pancakes. She had fruit and hard boiled eggs. The food was amazing and the kindness of everyone to come out on a Sunday morning was truly touching.

When you complete a GoRuck Challenge, you receive a can of Budweiser and a patch, but you come away with so much more than that.

FYI – for those of you interested in doing the Go-Ruck Challenge, there are two events scheduled on Okinawa this year – May 11th, and November 30th. Go to the link below to sign up:

Ow! My Knees!

Jeanne Goodes
AFAA Certified Personal Trainer

As an athlete, chances are you have experienced knee pain.  As runners, the chances of experiencing knee pain is higher due to several repetitive factors:  the wear and tear on the knee joint, the impact on the knee (body weight plus force of impact on the ground), and the movement pattern of the knee.  Added to these repetitive knee stresses, running also recruits, engages, and stresses the cartilage, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that help the knee (and body) function properly while running.

While running injuries run the gamut from foot to shin to hips (and then some!), this article will address  one of the more common knee injuries – anterior knee pain – also known as Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFS) or  Runner’s Knee (which may also be called IT Band Syndrome). 

In very basic terms, our knee is meant to track up and down.  When the knee is not tracking properly, our knee is mal-tracking, or out of alignment.  Anterior knee pain usually occurs when the knee “slides” to the outside of the knee, when the knee is bent.   This misalignment causes friction of the articular cartilage that lines the back of the kneecap, which is now rubbing against the underlying bone.  As this continues to occur (from the repetitive motion of running), damage to the articular cartilage increases, as does the pain. 

 Interestingly enough, female runners are at a greater risk for mal-tracking of the knee joint.  While the condition may affect anyone, usually due to improper biomechanics or muscle imbalances, female runners experience this injury more often than male runners.  Because females have wider hips, the angle of their femur (thigh bone) from the knee to the hip, is greater than the angle of a male’s femur.  This wider angle directly impacts the female at the knee, creating an increased risk of mal-tracking.   There are other risk factors that may impact anterior knee pain (whether female or male) – weak hip abductor muscles (weak gluteus medius), overpronation of the feet, quad muscle imbalances, etc.

Anterior, meaning front, knee pain complaints begin at the front of the knee.  Because the knee is a joint, it moves around, so actually pinpointing the pain may be difficult.  So, how do you know if you are experiencing anterior knee pain, as opposed to the normal aches and pains you feel after a long or hard run?   Anterior knee pain usually flares up at the end of a run, and may even feel worse the next day or when standing up after sitting.   You may also experience anterior knee pain when walking down stairs. 

After confirming anterior knee pain with a medical professional, treatment of anterior knee pain will focus on correcting the cause of the injury.   If anterior knee pain is caught early enough, effective short term treatment may include the old R.I.C.E. method – Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and anti-inflammatories, followed by corrective action.

For many of us, prevention of anterior knee pain can be as easy as having a properly fitted running shoe, strong muscles, and good flexibility.  If you are not sure how to find the proper running shoe, it is highly recommended that you make an appointment for a professional shoe fitting, as well as make an appointment for a professional gait analysis.  Most running stores have professional shoe fittings and the ability to analyze your gait.  If this is unavailable to you, there are many other resources to use:  biomechanics trainers, physical therapists, athletic trainers, personal trainers, sports medicine professionals, etc.

One of the many ways to determine a muscle imbalance is to look at your squat.  If your knees turn inward, you may have weak hip abductor muscles (gluteus medius).  Muscle strengthening exercises may help correct this.  Again, any of the aforementioned professionals can aid you in correcting muscle imbalances.

As always, flexibility is key to preventing injuries of many kinds.  With anterior knee pain, it is imperative to make sure your quads, glutes, and IT band, in particular, are flexible.  A good stretch, warm-up, and cool down are essential elements to flexibility.  Stretches and myofascial release using a foam roller are ideal for increasing flexibility.   Sports massage will also be beneficial in stretching and working out muscles.
This article is not meant to diagnose knee pain, but rather to inform runners of a common knee injury, and most importantly, how to prevent it.  As with all injuries, please seek the help of a medical professional for a correct diagnosis.

Carbohydrate-Loading Before A Marathon

Jannine Myers

The Okinawa Marathon is just one week away, and you should all be in a reduced phase of training by now and ready to start carbo-loading in a few days. I realize many of you know what it means to load up on carbohydrates during the preceding days of a marathon, but some of our ladies are running their very first marathon and are relying on friends and other runners to coach them through all the various aspects of marathon training (I know I did!). Also, some of you may think that carbohydrate-loading involves eating a large pasta meal the night before the race, but ideally your last dinner meal should not be a heavy one.  

The following article, by Dimity McDowell, was published on RunnersWorld in November 2011, and it provides an easy-to-read explanation of why runners need to carbo-load before an endurance event, and how to do it. Please keep an open mind however – just as there are different schools of thought on everything from shoe preferences, to fueling recommendations, to maximum long run distances and tapering schedules, so too are there different schools of thought on how best to carbo-load.

Fill ‘Er Up

By Dimity McDowell – published on RunnersWorld.com Nov 2011

Carbo-loading can help you race without hitting the wall—as long as you do it right.

Most runners know they should eat pasta, rice, potatoes, or other high-carb foods before a half or full marathon. After all, carbs are a great source of energy, and you need a lot of energy to cover 13.1 or 26.2 miles. But many runners are far less clear on how many carbohydrates they should eat and when to start loading up. “When I go to marathon expos,” says Monique Ryan, R.D., author of Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, “I’m amazed how many people haven’t carbo-loaded properly. Runners train so hard and then arrive with a huge handicap.” Here’s what every runner needs to know about carbohydrates, so you can toe the line fully fueled and ready to go.


When you eat a bowl of spaghetti, most of the carbs are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. Glycogen is your body’s most easily accessible form of energy, but it’s not the only source, says Ryan. During a half or full marathon you burn both glycogen and fat. But the latter is not as efficient, which means your body has to work harder to convert it into fuel.
When you run out of glycogen during a race you hit “the wall.” Your body has to slow down as it turns fat into energy. Benjamin Rapoport, a 2:55 marathoner, is intimately acquainted with the wall. The Harvard M.D. student (who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from MIT) hit the wall so hard at the 2005 New York City Marathon he decided to study how to avoid it in the future (his research was published in PLoS Computational Biology in October 2010). “Proper carbo-loading—or filling your muscles to the brim with glycogen—won’t make you faster, but it will allow you to run your best and, if you race smartly, avoid the wall,” he says.
Which carbs should you load up on? “I’m very utilitarian,” says Rapoport. “I eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” But runners don’t need to be so restrictive. Tortillas, oatmeal, bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, yogurt, and juice are all easy-to-digest options. Many fruits are high in carbs but are also high in fiber—and too much can cause stomach trouble midrace. “Bananas are a low-fiber choice,” says sports nutritionist Ilana Katz, R.D. “And you can peel apples, peaches, and pears to reduce their fiber content.” She also gives her clients permission to indulge in white bread and baked potatoes without the skin since both are easily digested.
Ryan suggests steering clear of high-fat foods—like creamy sauces, cheese, butter, and oils—as well as too much protein. Both nutrients fill you up faster than carbs and take longer to digest, she says. Pick jam—not butter—for your toast, tomato sauce in lieu of alfredo sauce on your pasta, and frozen yogurt instead of ice cream for dessert.
You can’t completely fill your muscles with glycogen from just one meal, “which is why you should start carbo-loading two or three days before your race,” says Ryan. Since you’re running very few miles, the glycogen will accumulate in your muscles. At this point, 85 to 95 percent of your calories should come from carbs, says Katz. Ryan recommends eating about four grams of carbs for every pound of body weight (for a 150 pound runner that’s 600 grams—or 2,400 calories—of carbs per day). During his research, Rapoport developed an even more precise formula, which runners can access at endurancecalculator.com, that factors in variables including age, resting heart rate, VO2 max, and predicted finishing time. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re most likely not eating many more calories per day than you were during the thick of your training—it’s just that more of those calories are coming from carbs.

If you step on the scale while you’re carbo-loading, be prepared to see a number that’s at least four pounds more than your usual weight. The extra pounds mean you get a gold star for carbo-loading properly. “With every gram of stored carbohydrate, you store an extra three grams of water,” says Katz. That means your body will be hydrated and fueled as you start the race, ensuring you cross the finish feeling strong.

EAT better: Even if you carbo-load properly, you still need to take in midrace fuel (such as sports drinks, gels, chews, and candy) to keep your energy level high.
Good Eats
A day of carbo-loading for a 150-pound runner
1 bagel with 2 tablespoons strawberry jam (71 g)
1 medium banana (27 g)
8 ounces fruit yogurt (41 g)
8 ounces orange juice (26 g)
2 Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey
Granola Bars (29 g)
8 ounces Gatorade (14 g)
1 large baked potato with 1/4 cup salsa (69 g)
1 sourdough roll (40 g)
8 ounces chocolate milk (26 g)
1 large oatmeal cookie (56 g)
1 Clif Bar (42 g)
8 ounces Gatorade (14 g)
1 chicken burrito with rice, corn salsa, and black beans (105 g)
1 2-ounce bag Swedish Fish (51 g)
Perfect Timing
What to do before race day to ensure your tank is full
6 WEEKS BEFORE: Practice loading
Two or three days prior to your longest run, start eating more carbs and less fat and protein. “You’ll get a sense of what foods agree and disagree with your stomach,” says Katz.
1 WEEK BEFORE: Make a plan
“A plan is especially important if you’re traveling to a race,” says Ryan. Pack plenty of snacks, like sports bars, pretzels, and crackers. Check menus online and make restaurant reservations.
2 OR 3 DAYS BEFORE: Switch to carbs
From now through your race, 85 to 95 percent of your diet should be carbs. Eat after taper runs. “That is when muscles are primed to store glycogen,” says Rapoport.
NIGHT BEFORE: Don’t stuff yourself
Dinner should be relatively small but carb-heavy. Eat on the early side so you have lots of time to digest.
“You want to wake up race day hungry—not full from the night before,” says Ryan.
RACE MORNING: Have breakfast
Three hours before the start, eat 150 grams of carbs, like a bagel and yogurt or sports drink and oatmeal, says Ryan. Early race? “Get up at 3 a.m., eat, and go back to bed,” she says.

Sayonara Audrey!

Post by Anna Boom

Three fabulous years together!

A few weeks back, Jannine wrote a glowing race report on our first Okuma half-marathon (thank you, again). In it, she mentioned this is our third year of WOOT.

Wow, three years! If this was my baby, it would be able to skip and gallop (along Spider trail) and dress herself (long socks and skirts!). Yes, we have created and developed a regular Saturday morning trail run with an amazing group of women.

We started with a small group of six or so and boomed into almost 500 with anywhere from five to twenty runners on any given Saturday morning. Thinking about the women I have had the pleasure of getting to know on our runs and have who since left our paradise are many: Kathleen, Amy, Tiffany, Steph, Andrea, Stephanie, Kirsten, Jeanne, Renata, Benita, Crystal, Jessi, Lisa…and so many more.

And now another lovely friend is leaving, Audrey Naini. You may know her if run with WOOP or live around Foster. She is the “Mom pushing the two boys in the stroller, rain, wind or shine”. Always loving and kind and moving forward.

Audrey with her Sayonara doll

The other evening, I had the pleasure of meeting her running friends for a farewell dinner. Almost every running woman there told of how inspiring Audrey was. In fact, Audrey was the reason many of them began to run too. It was touching and reminded me of why WOOT was started; for women to run with other women in a friendly, social, supportive environment. I have seen amazing friendships grow, had my own group of Best Running Friends grow and move away (how could you do that, y’all?!) all from our lil ole running group.

One of the really surprising aspects of our group is that some have moved on and others eventually will, yet we continue to support each other, and even meet for adventure (Napa Valley marathon, March 3rd!).

For Audrey, know that we will continue to support you and be your biggest cheerleaders! I know your running fan club will also stand behind and look for your continued success in life. 

All the Best in your next adventure! Come back in three years and run with WOOT/WOOP again. 
Mata (see you again in Japanese) ^_^

Anna and Audrey at our WOOT Half Marathon

Jannine and Audrey – an unofficial goodbye at a recent lunch together

Just echoing what Anna has said above, we wish you continued success with all of your goals, wherever you go, and hope that you will meet many wonderful new running friends. You touch everyone you meet with your genuine warmth and kindness, and I know you will be greatly missed by all of us who had the good fortune of meeting you. Take care, and safe travels Audrey!