Memorial Day Workout AAR

Our 2017 Memorial Day Workout to honor those who served and sacrificed and to wish Mike Drew well on his future endeavors

Our 2017 Memorial Day Workout to honor those who served and sacrificed and to wish Mike Drew well on his future endeavors

It is 10:50 am and I have been working at a serious pace since 7:30 am.  So far, we have run 11 miles,  3 sets of stairs, 5 runs up the steepest hill in town, 30 burpees, 30 clap pushups, 200 weighted pullups, 400 weighted pushups, and 600 weighted squats (2 Murphs and a bunch of running). I have already consumed and sweated out over a gallon of water, but right now, I am just staring at a barbell and wondering if I can pick it up.  
The barbell was 155 pounds and was the single implement to a classic CrossFit hero workout called DT. With this single 155 pound barbell, DT calls for:

12 Deadlifts

9 hang power cleans

6 Jerks

x 5 rounds for time.

The workout is simple, effective and punishes athletes who have neglected olympic lifting strength in favor of endurance or gymnastics. DT is hard for me when fresh, and I am anything but fresh right now.  Over the past few years, I have completed this workout and logged 8 results on my digital workout journal, each with steady improvement from the time before, but it still hurts…a lot...every time.  This is precisely the reason that I find myself just staring at a motionless 155 pound barbell in my driveway at this moment.  It was there for a reason, a serious challenge placed strategically within a long workout to see how we would react.
I walked around a bit, drank more water, even changed shoes and tried to find the switch in my head that would allow my mind to overtake my body… but it was hiding.
Finally, I decided to take things one step at a time. I would try to complete just the deadlifts.  I did 11 deadlifts, but each one was brutally hard for me.  My hip flexors were screaming, my knees creaking and my entire upper body revolting in pain.  It was heavy, really heavy.  After a break, I decided to try to deadlift the final rep and go into the hang cleans.  I was barely able to hold onto the bar and dropped it immediately after 8 reps. It was strategic. I did 8 because I knew I would have to clean it the 9th time to get to the jerks.  Patrick was next to me and started on his cleans.  He was not able to clean the Rx weight of 155 lbs and quickly dropped to 135 pounds.  Keith dropped to 95 pounds and was on the other side of me. (I am a little ahead of Patrick, Mike and Keith in Olympic lifting.  To my knowledge, none of them had done a DT at 155 lbs so they scaled back to the weight that challenged them equally to my 155 lbs.)  Doubt crept in.  I did not think I could complete this workout at 155 pounds and thought that I would also drop to 135 pounds.  Matt Green was my swim buddy and he is very strong.  Matt would have no trouble with this workout so I decided to try the Jerks and just make it through 1 round before reducing the weight.  I picked it up, cleaned it and managed 6 ugly jerks before dropping.  1 round complete.  Matt grabbed the weights and moved them like a PVC pipe.  Feeling better, I decided to give the deadlifts for round 2 one more shot and completed them.  
“Ok, that went ok, so Ill try the cleans.”  a voice said inside my head.
Surprisingly, I did get 8 cleans this time.  Then the Jerks.  It was heavy and I really didn’t think I could do it, but I kept chipping away. Any concern over the amount of time it would take me to finish was gone.  This was survival.   Before I knew it, I had turned the corner from serious doubt to acceptance that I was not going to reduce the weight, but complete this as written. Finally, I found the switch.

This moment was the best part of the day for me and the entire purpose of this extreme workout for all of us.  Rarely in today's society do many have the opportunity to voluntarily face something that looks impossible and choose to take on the challenge.  For some people this impossible challenge may have been a 5k run, a yoga class or a single Murph.  I can certainly remember the first time I ever saw "Murph" written and wondered if it would be possible for me to complete it.
“Could I possibly Run a mile and then do 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and run another mile all while wearing a 20 pound weight vest?” I wondered.
Eventually, I did complete a few Murph workouts which increased our confidence and we later strung 2 of them together. With that challenge complete, I wondered if I could do 3 in a row. I decided to do a Triple Murph for my 45th birthday and a bunch of us, including my 16 year old son completed the entire workout.  We continued adding to the challenge with the hope that we would have the opportunity to be in exactly the same position as I found myself this morning while preparing to lift 155 pounds.  Each of those challenges were completed and with each victory came increased confidence that we could use that experience to accomplish anything using the same strategy as Murph, Double Murph and Triple Murph.  The way to get through all of those is simply one rep at a time.  Never quit, never look at the entire workload, never get overwhelmed.  Simply do one more round, one more pullup, one more pushup or one more squat and soon, you will have accomplished this giant thing that seemed like a complete impossibility just 2 hours before.  A 50 hour camp run by Navy Seals called SealFit Kokoro taught me that when you feel like you have given it all, we are capable of 20x more than we think we can do.  With this philosophy, I have been able to start businesses, win tournaments, build teams, lead my family and make it through 50 hours of training on a cold California beach at an intensity similar to today’s workout.

DT, however, presented a slightly different challenge for me.  Most of the other challenges were endurance related but upon picking up this weight, I did not seem to be physically strong enough to complete 1 round, much less 5 rounds.  I had done this workout many times before… but always fresh.  However, I began to think that if I could do it fresh, there was no reason that I couldn't do it now and I broke it down in my mind as to how this could be possible.  While a 155 lb hang clean or Jerk is very heavy for me, a 155 lb deadlift is not.  So, why not just get the deadlifts out of the way and then see how the cleans go.  If I had focused only on the cleans or become overwhelmed by the looming 5 rounds, I would have given up right then.  Once the deadlifts were complete, I didn’t rush it.  I dropped the weight on the ground, got some water, chalked up and tried the hang cleans.  As with so many other things, what seemed like it was going to be impossible actually wasn’t.  It was certainly difficult but not impossible.  Soon, I was chipping away at a goliath obstacle one rep at a time.  The turning point to this stage of the workout and to so many things in life was when I committed to completing this workout.  No more thoughts about reducing the weight.  It might be slow and ugly, but the work was going to be completed if it was the last thing I ever did.  This is the key to accomplishing anything of value in life and this lesson is amplified in physical training through sweat, grit, pain and misery.  These same feelings are available when starting a business or making a difficult parenting decision, but they are never more clear or obvious than when using your mind to overcome the storm of pain going on inside your body to complete something that seems physically impossible.  It is a cathartic experience.

 With a piece of sidewalk chalk I made another hash mark on the driveway;  four rounds complete…I knew I had it.  The last and final round felt better than the first and I was more confident than at any other time of the morning.  It didn’t matter if it was ugly or slow, I was going to finish … one rep at a time.

At 11:16 am I dropped the barbell onto the driveway for the final time and felt a sense of accomplishment having faced the challenge and pushed through.  I still had a mother of a workload to go to complete today’s workout but it was all downhill now.

By the end of this workout we will have completed:

13+ miles of running
1.3 mile Assault Bike
2000 m Row
2000m Ski
300 pullups-200 of them weighted
600 pushups-400 of them weighted
900 squats-600 of them weighted
155 burpees
60 Deadlifts @ 155
45 Hang Power Cleans @ 155
30 Push Jerks @ 155
30 clap pushups
25 Waterball over the shoulder
8 runs up Woodhill
5 Tire Flips
5 runs up the steepest hill we can find, Kent
3 Stair runs

At this point in the workout, my mind was right, and nothing would stop me.  The experience of overcoming this doubt in myself was worth this entire year’s training and I gained as much out of it as finishing SealFit Kokoro.  A group of friends had come together to wish one of our own goodbye and good luck. There was no better way to say those things than to break down the body so we could open up the mind. The ones who had done the work to prepare their bodies for this test and then overcame all the voices of doubt and insecurity finished this giant physical challenge. Each of us had to face those voices and each of us had to go to a very dark and lonely place to figure out just exactly what we were made. Then, one final step had to be taken and that was to go directly into the fire and commit to finishing, no matter what.

As I accumulate more experience and overcome more self imposed obstacles like this one, it becomes harder to achieve a cathartic experience like flipping that switch on this day. The challenges become bigger, longer, more difficult but the rest of things in life become easier.  So to answer so many of my friends and relative’s questions about “Why are you doing this?”  That is why. 

Today…mission accomplished.  

Gus surveys the schedule for today

Gus surveys the schedule for today

I have compiled some notes in an after action review (AAR) of exactly what this workout looked like for those who are interested:

The official start time was 7:30 am, but a few people got started earlier.  Several of the early starters chose to do just a portion of this workout while a couple just got a head start.

I warmed up as usual and by 7:15 I was ready to go.  There were around 15-18 people going for the first part of the workout.  5 of us finished the whole thing.  For those who may be interested, here is my AAR of the event:

7:30 am- Strapped with 20 lb vests or rucks, we left on the first run of the first Murph of the day.  This Murph was done with a 20 lb vest and non partitioned.  This means that we had to do 100 pullups before we moved to the 200 pushups and complete all of those before we move to the 300 squats and then go on the mile run.  All of this is done with a vest.  Non partitioned is definitely the hardest way for me to distribute this workload, it was nice to get that out of the way first.  This Murph took me 41:02 to complete.

8:11 am- We drop the vests and pick up a Camelbak full of water and run 1 mile to the Normal Park Stairs.  This is a common workout for us that includes running, burpees, clap pushups, and stairs.  We simply run 1 mile to the stairs, run up them, do 10 burpees at the top, 10 clap pushups at the bottom and complete this 3 times before running back to the garage.  Today, we took a left out of the stairs instead of a right and ran to another common workout destination for us. is 2 miles.  We ran 2 miles from the stairs to the bottom of Kent Street, behind Publix and then started in on the Kent/Hartman workout which is 5 rounds of running up Kent (the steepest hill we could find in town) and down Hartman.  When finished with the 5 rounds, we ran the 3 miles back to the garage.

9:30 am- We return to the garage and put the vests back on to start our 2nd Murph of the day.  This Murph is the same as the first with a 1 mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and run 1 mile and was done with a 20 lb vest, however, the reps were partitioned.  A partitioned Murph means that you can break up the reps in different ways to get the workload done as you like.  The most common way is probably a 5 pullup, 10 pushup, 15 squat round done 20 times to complete the work followed by a run.  Others may like a 10/20/30 x 10.  I did the 5/10/15 x 20 on this 2nd Murph and I was back to the garage at 10:23 am.

The second Murph was tough, but I still felt pretty good at this point.  Many people were having issues with cramping calves, arms and quads and had to walk or stop and work the cramp out.  Cramping is an electrolyte issue that seems unpredictable to many, but can be solved with diet and nutrition.  From my experience in SealFit Kokoro and Goruck Selection, I had ideas on how to fuel for this event.  First, drink a TON of water.  Cadre Bert called Goruck Selection a "water drinking contest" with some work in between to illustrate the importance of hydration when pushing your body to this point.  To give you an idea of how much water we are talking about, I woke up at 6 and drank 2 8 oz glasses of water.  I had a 1/2 gallon Yeti and a full gallon Yeti ready in addition to a full Camelbak with a 3 Liter Source bladder, 6 gatorades and 6 Coconut Waters.  By 10:23 am, I had finished:

2 8 oz glasses of plain water-16 oz

1/2 gallon plain water-64 oz

3 Liters plain water- 100 oz

18 oz Gatorade-18 oz

2 Endurolyte pills-

1 8 oz coconut water- 16 oz

Total= 214 oz

A little of the liquids consumed...certainly not all

A little of the liquids consumed...certainly not all

I did not cramp the entire workout.  I was sweating heavily but the air was drying my skin off on the runs.  The tell tale sign that I was not drinking too much was that with over a gallon of fluid taken in before 10:30 am, I had not peed yet.  I didn’t pee until 1:30 in the afternoon.

10:49 am- 2nd Murph Completed and the vests are dropped, another coconut water drank, 1/2 a gatorade and I started on my second gallons of water. I left for the next phase which was Woodhill street where we simply run up and down a steep hill 8 times.  Woodhill is about 1/2 mile away and when I got there, I started on the 8 rounds.  I was able to run up and down the hill most rounds but did walk up a few times.  When finished, I headed back to the garage and arrived at 11:16 am.

11:20 am- Changed out of the running shoes and into a training shoe to start DT workout. This was also a good strategy to avoid having to pick up the bar for a few minutes.

I have no record of the time at the end of DT- DT was complete and it was time to move on to the next phase.  I named the next one "Mike" and the one after that "Drew" for our friend Mike Drew that is moving.  Mike is a team workout where the team of 2 has to complete 25 burpees, throw the waterball over the shoulder 5 times and do a 2 man 700 lb tire flip x 5 rounds.  I was ahead of my swim buddy by a few minutes so I went ahead and knocked out the 25 burpees and 2 waterballs.  He finished the waterballs and then helped me flip the tire.  We broke up the burpees 10/15 and alternated each round.  We made it through the 5 rounds and moved on to the next phase.  I did not look at the clock at this point.

The next phase "Drew" was an endurance portion that consisted of

1.3 mile Assault Bike

2000m row

2000m ski erg

This was the easiest portion of the workout for me because we could take it slow and just get through it.  The bike was actually very nice to move the hip flexors and helped me to feel better. I made it through the rest with the rowing being the most painful for whatever reason.  At this point I was almost finished with my full gallon of water as well, putting me at about 350 oz so far. I was sweating heavily and felt good.  No cramps at all.  I still had not eaten anything.  Michael Lebovitz brought 2 dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts for us and as I was leaving for my 3rd Murph, I grabbed 3 of them.  As it turns out, I like running while eating doughnuts.  It is fun.

There was some walking on the 3rd Murph for sure, but I was able to get moving and run down the hill despite serious argument from my knees and hip flexors.  Once back to the garage, I drank as much water as I could get down, 1 gatorade, 2 Endurolyte pills and dunked my head in the ice bath.  I looked at the bar and wondered if I was going to be able to complete it.  The first 5 rounds of the final unweighted, partitioned Murph went brutally slow and were painful.  Everything hurt.  I was light headed and got an Rx bar from the garage which was the first thing I ate besides the doughnuts.  While there, I grabbed another doughnut, why not?  I had not had sugar in 3 months and these things were delicious!  I took a bite, did some pullups and completed a few rounds while chewing.  More water, the doughnut and Rx bar down the hatch and I felt much better.  10 rounds in, I felt better than I did on the first Murph. 15 rounds in, I kept drinking and going 1 round at a time until I was ready to mark the final round of 20 with my sidewalk chalk.

I grabbed 2 more doughnuts and dreamed of the ice bath that I was going to sit in after this final run.  You could call it a run, but it was more of a walk/limp at this point.  I ran downhill after being passed by Patrick St Charles who looked about as fresh as he did on round 1.  I made it back to the garage at 12:57 which was about 20 minutes longer than I had forecasted for this workout.  I thought that was pretty good.

It's over! 5 of us finished the entire workout!

It's over! 5 of us finished the entire workout!

5 of us finished the entire workout.  Patrick St. Charles, Keith Gray, Mike Drew, Matt Green and me.  Many others completed parts of this monster and all had personal records for volume.  Excellent job to everyone!

I sat in the ice for 10 minutes and finally had to pee at about 1:30.  I kept drinking water until I was peeing regularly through the afternoon.

I laid on the couch for a while and watched Shark Tank.  It was on and I did not have the energy to change the channel.  After a while I moved to the floor because I couldn’t get comfortable and finally to the bed for an hour of rest.

5:30- Party at Rusty's with Beer, BBQ, Banana Pudding and good friends.

I looked around and enjoyed seeing everyone communicating on a different level than in the dark at the garage.  I am so fortunate to have so many good friends and it was so nice to see wives and kids all getting to know one another.  They all had good conversations wondering why their husbands or dads were so crazy.

Next Day- I took the day off and slept til 8.  This really helped the recovery.  I was slow to get out of bed, but I felt better than I thought I might.  My ankles, knees and hips were arguing with me but I made it out of bed and started moving around.  Lower back tightness and the standard soreness from doing over 200 pull-ups was definitely there, but I felt pretty good.  I started drinking a lot of water early and followed that with coffee and my vitamins. I didn't feel like eating anything right away.  After walking around for a while, I felt much better.  Life called and I had to take my son’s boat to the mechanic, mail some packages and go to work.  I took my son, Hayden who completed his first Murph the day before, to Whole Foods for lunch and indulged in way more carbs than normal.  Mashed potatoes, Lasagne, fried chicken, plantains and whatever else looked good went down the hatch chased by a Turmeric milk and another 64 oz of sparking water.  

By now, I was feeling really good and went home and took a 10 minute ice bath followed by another 5 minutes about an hour later.  Light stretching and more water had me ready for a dinner date with my wife and friends at 6:30 pm.  I was even able to stay up and watch an episode of the 3rd season of Bloodline with my wife.  That show is awesome.

Wednesday- I designed a light workout to rid our bodies of lactic acid.  It was simple
1000 m Row
1000m Ski Erg
1 mile Assault
20 KB swings @ 53
100 m Farmers walk with 2 53’s

Not for time…

We concluded with some breath work and 10 minutes of still water meditation.

Back in the saddle!

Jonathan Hurtado Goruck Triple Heavy (HHH) Interview

I don't complain as much because I've become so grateful of the things that I do have, and I've learned that "it could always be worse." 

-Jonathan Hurtado

Many of you who follow this blog will remember that when I was training for Selection with my friends at the RRL, we met a friend, online, through this blog who trained virtually with us.  His name was Jonathan Hurtado and he was in Selection Class 015 with us.  Jonathan is a great guy.  We have stayed in touch since Selection 015 and Jonathan has gone on to complete some really amazing challenges.  We have sat down to talk a few times since.  Read those interviews here:

Goruck Selection and SealFit Kokoro Interview with Jonathan Hurtado

Kokoro 41 AAR from GRT, HCL and Goruck Selection participant Jonathan Hurtado

This time, we are going to discuss a recent event that Jonathan and a few others took on and completed.  This event is called a Triple Heavy or HHH and it is put on by Goruck.  A Heavy is 24 hours of work and many train for a long time to be able to complete one.  Jonathan decided to try to do 3 of them...back to back to back.  Something like this is going to be a crucible experience and it is only going to be completed by someone who is physically prepared and mentally for everything that is to come. 

I asked Jonathan about gear, preparation, training, his "why" and much more.  Thanks so much to Jonathan for doing this here.  Enjoy


Tom Rowland:  Hey Jonathan- Great to catch up with you.  I am so excited to hear about your HHH experience.  Because a lot of other people will be reading this, lets go over a few things to make sure everyone understands just what an HHH is.  Can you give us a little background on the different Goruck events and the difficulty of each?  Cliff Notes version is fine.  

JH: The GORUCK Challenge is a team endurance event based on Special Forces training where participants undergo a variety of boot-camp exercises and team-building challenges while wearing a backpack full of weight.  It tests your physical and mental abilities and is designed to make you work as a team, usually with people whom you never met before. There are three types of Challenges that vary in length and difficulty.  There's the GORUCK Light which lasts about six hours, the GORUCK Tough which lasts about twelve hours, and the GORUCK Heavy which lasts at least twenty-four hours.  There's also Selection, GORUCK's hardest event, that's forty-eight hours and is not a team event like the Challenges.  The pass rates for Lights and Challenges are above 90%.  The pass rate for Heavies is around 50%.  The pass rate for Selection is less than 5%.

Tom Rowland:  How many Goruck events have you done?

JH: Including the Triple Heavy (HHH), I've completed twenty-nine Challenges.

Tom Rowland: So a Heavy is 24 hours and at one time the hardest event in the lineup outside of Selection and you decided to do 3 of them back to back to back?  Why?

JH: After failing to complete GORUCK Selection 015 in 2014, I was going to attempt it again the following year.  I tore my calf during training in early 2015, which ended my hopes to attempt Selection that year.  However, an opportunity came to do a new event called the Triple Heavy later that year.  It sounded dangerous and unprecedented, but I ultimately signed up because I'd figure it would be good prep for Selection in 2016.  I was also curious to meet the other people who were crazy enough to attempt three consecutive Heavies.

Tom Rowland:  Has anyone ever done a HHH before? What is the history of the event?

JH: The Triple Heavy is a custom GORUCK event created by Doug Otte.  Previously, the GORUCK HTL (which is a GORUCK Heavy, a GORUCK Tough, and a GORUCK Light done consecutively) was the hardest team event GORUCK offered.  Doug was inspired by the HTL to create what he considered to be the ultimate team event, the HHH.  Seventeen started the first GORUCK HHH in 2015, and seven (including myself) made history by being the first team to complete back-to-back Heavies (GORUCK HH).  The third Heavy was canceled due to low participation numbers, as only four were willing to continue and five were needed.  I was the swing vote to determine whether the Triple Heavy would continue, but I decided not to proceed because of a thumb injury I suffered near the end of the second Heavy.

We all vowed to come back for HHH02 and finish the event.

Tom Rowland:   Did the reason for doing the second HHH change from doing the first?

JH: Yes, it did.  I did the first HHH event for Selection prep and a desire to meet the other HHH teammates.  For the second HHH, there was a feeling of unfinished business after how the first HHH ended.  But my primary reason for doing HHH02 was to inspire others by showing them that what is considered impossible may not actually be so.  Finishing three consecutive Heavies had never been done before, and I strongly felt that it was indeed possible and the HHH02 team would be the one to do it.

Tom Rowland:  Since the HHH is a team event, how did you decide who you would do the event with?

JH: The first HHH accepted anyone who signed up.  The second HHH had an application process, with input from the GORUCK HH finishers if needed.  Finishing an HTL was an important requirement, but exceptions were made if a person had similar experience (like finishing Kokoro).

Tom Rowland:  Who were your team mates?

JH: The team was a mix of people whom I have done previous GORUCK events (including the first Triple Heavy) and some I had never met before.  One was even a cadre from the first Triple Heavy, Chris "Soul Crusher" Sanchez!

Tom Rowland: So now we understand the motivation and the events, this is where the rubber meets the road…how did you train for the event?  How long did you train for it?

JH: After the first HHH ended in late September 2015, I took October off to recover.  I started my training for the second HHH in November and I already had a major event coming up.  The calf injury I mentioned previously also took me out from doing Kokoro (a 50-hour endurance crucible based on Navy SEALS training) in early 2015, so I rolled into the 41 class in February 2016.  Thus, from November through February, I trained to get ready for Kokoro 41.  I mostly followed Stew Smith's Complete Guide to Navy Seal Fitness during that period, although I wished I did more running.

After finishing Kokoro 41, I took March off to recover.  A good friend of mine, Troy Angrignon (also a Kororo finisher), helped devised a HHH training plan for the rest of the year.  I followed variations of Strong Swift Durable training programs, specifically Fortitude, Valor, GORUCK Selection, and SFOD-D Selection, but I didn't follow them too strictly.  For example, the SFOD plan had 80# ruck training days, which I felt were too excessive for HHH, so I scaled them to 60#.   I also did a bunch of GORUCK events throughout the year, including the GORUCK Triple Light.  However, I didn't do any HTLs this year, as I felt that finishing Kokoro in February was enough in terms of big events. I was worried that not doing at least one HTL before the HHH would be a mistake, but it ultimately worked out.

Tom Rowland:  What kind of communication did you have with your team during the training?  Did you ever get to train in person with your team?

JH: We used Facebook to communicate with each other for the big things like getting the correct items for the event and hotel accommodations.  For those whom I knew prior to HHH02, I either communicated via Facebook Messenger or on the phone.  I would see some of my HHH teammates at other GORUCK events, so we'd talk about the event then as well.

I mostly trained alone, although I did a few workout sessions with a good friend and HHH teammate, Roman Hunt, since we lived in the same area.

Tom Rowland:  How did this training differ from SealFit Kokoro?

JH: It was less running and more rucking.  Pull-ups weren't a big concern, although I still worked on my push-ups since the Heavy does have a PT test.  The goal was to get used to rucking a lot of miles with heavy weight.  One of the modifications I did that wasn't in any training plan was a heavy ruck session that I did once a week, where I did three rounds of one mile with a 45# (and later 60#) ruck and a 60# sandbag.  Ruck PT was also important, and one of my "favorite" sessions was to bear crawl with a 45# ruck around a basketball court for a few laps.

Tom Rowland:  Tell us about the event?  Where was it held?  Temperature, weather?

JH: HHH02 took place in San Diego, CA from September 29th, 2016 to Octobet 2nd.  It was sunny and hot during the day and not too cold at night.  We visited a variety of places, such as downtown San Diego, Coronado Island (including the North Island Naval Air Base), a Crossfit gym, Fiesta Island, the desert in Anza Borrega, and ended at the USS Midway.

Tom Rowland:  What did you choose to wear?  What about socks and footwear?

JH: I wore a cheap Champion athletic shirt, Triple Aught Design recon pants (which sadly ripped during the second or third Heavy), compression shorts, and a Columbia windbreaker when it got cold.  My footwear consisted of Injiji toe socks, Darn Tough Merino wool socks, and Brooks Beast '14 sneakers.  I was considering boots for this event, but I would develop issues with my right ankle whenever I trained in them.  I ultimately decided to go with what I was comfortable training in, so I used the same brand of sneakers I wore for the first Triple Heavy.

Tom Rowland:  Walk us through some of the highlights.

JH: 1st Heavy - Taking a ferry to Coronado Island and enjoying good old surf torture at the beach.  Later on, while walking in the surf, I got stung on my right toe by a stingray or some other animal.  My foot hurt like hell, and I remember Cadre Brett Vernon sarcastically asking me if I wanted to med drop.  I was temporarily a GORUCK causality where I had to be carried on a tarp for a bit, but thankfully my foot got better and I could move on my own again.

Later on, we were granted access to the North Island Naval Air Base in Coronado and got to see the SERE school.  I'm grateful that we had the privilege to visit it (and also grateful that no SERE interrogation techniques were used on us).

Kirk Deligiannis in SealFit 45.  RIP Brother.  We will always remember you.

Kirk Deligiannis in SealFit 45.  RIP Brother.  We will always remember you.

2nd Heavy - The PT test for the second Heavy took place at Crossfit ATR, and we did the "Doc" Hero WOD (in honor of Charles Luke Milam).  Afterwards, we were surprised with a bonus memorial WOD for Kirk Deligiannis, who was an amazing member of the GORUCK community and sadly passed away after finishing Kokoro 45 a week before the Triple Heavy. Teammate Kim McGrath was instrumental in having the HHH team do a WOD in his honor, and we both were given an opportunity to talk about him before we started.  The class yelled, "For Kirk!" before we started his WOD.

We also were honored to have a veteran from Operation Gothic Serpernt, Steve Lycopolus, speak to our class. This was significant since the HHH was also Mogadishu Mile themed, and to have someone who experienced the event we were commemorating made it extra special.

We ended the second Heavy at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Unlike last year's HHH, my thumb was still intact at the end of the second Heavy, so I looked at Kim (who finished the HH with me last year) and told her I was ready for Round 3 while wiggling my thumb.

3rd Heavy - We began in the desert of Anza Borrega.  I was worried about how dry and hot it was, but the third Heavy didn't start until the sun was already going down (making the temperature thankfully cooler).  Nonetheless, that start was intense because we were expected to work strong and hard despite having done two consecutive Heavies.  We were nearly ruck running up a mountain and we lost three teammates in the first 90 minutes of the event.

Near the end of the event, we had to do peer evaluation of our other teammates.  It was really interesting to hear what your teammates had to say about your performance throughout the event and provided an excellent learning opportunity on how to improve as a team member and leader.

And obviously, the endex, which I'll talk about later.

Tom Rowland:  On an event like this, there are going to be some major highs and some major lows.  Can you describe the darkest moment and tell us what you and your team did to overcome and get back on track for success?

JH: The darkest moment for our team came during the second Heavy.  We were supposed to infiltrate the San Diego Challenge class that was happening at the same time, but we kept failing for a variety of reasons.  We were exhausted (this was probably around Hour 40 or so into the event) and weren't gelling as a team.  The repeated failures put a damper on our mood.  The end of this evolution provided a nasty gut punch with the loss of two team members, including Cadre "Soul Crusher" who had to be med dropped.  We were given an opportunity to nap for about 15 minutes or so.  The combination of a brief rest plus the sun coming up allowed us to recharge and essentially start with a clean slate for the next evolution.  We worked better as a team afterwards.

We had another rough patch around Hour 70 during the third Heavy.  Our team was down to eight and we were having troubles working together as the cadre put a lot of stress on us and our team leader.  It took a while for me to realize that the cadre were actively trying to make us turn on our team leader.  I wished I had realized this sooner, and I'll discuss this more in detail when I get around to writing my After Action Review for the event.  We eventually rallied around our team leader to get past this evolution, but I look back at this moment as a failure of leadership in my part and an unfortunate learning experience because I could have done better for my team.

Tom Rowland:   Now that it is complete, what do you see as the most challenging thing to completing a single Heavy…how was it different to complete 3 back to back to back?

JH: If you never completed a Heavy before, you wonder if you can survive putting in work for twenty-four hours straight.  Sometimes your food gets taken away and you have no idea when you'll have a chance to refuel.  The long grind and sleep deprivation create a daunting atmosphere, but it's one that can be conquered if you trained hard and have the right mental attitude.

For the HHH, food wasn't an issue since there was an expectation from the Cadre that we would never be denied food since doing endurance rucking for three straight days required a lot of calories.  After finishing one Heavy, the major issue is whether you think you have enough will power and strength to continue for another 24 hours.  To combat this feeling, I essentially treated the HHH as one long eventAlthough I still celebrated the victory of completing each Heavy, I considered those ends as breaks rather than the end of one event and the start of another.

Tom Rowland:  So you had a short time between each event…What did you do during that time?  How did you prepare for these “commercial breaks”

JH: The first break between the first and second Heavy was tough because I was unable to sleep.  I don't know if it was because of the food I ate, or my inability to be comfortable in the outside grass, but I couldn't take a nap and ended up laying with my eyes closed until it was time to go.  I presumed that the cadre would warn us before the second Heavy start, but that didn't happen and it was stressful to collect all my unprepared belongings before we had to move to the next location.

We all learned our lesson at the next break between the second and third Heavy.  We made sure that our packs were ready for the third Heavy before we took our naps. I was able to rest a bit, and sure enough, our prep paid off because we were told to immediately move once the third Heavy started without notice.

Tom Rowland:  How did you feel when it was over?

JH: The HHH endex was an amazing experience.  We finished near the kissing statue outside the USS Midway.  Members of the GORUCK community and teammates who had dropped from the event were there to cheer us on and congratulate us as we finished.  Seeing that support as we arrived lifted our spirits, especially since it signaled to us that we were finally about to end.  Getting the HHH patch was one of the best moments of my life.  First, the accomplishment of completing something that I was unable to do the year before provided a great feeling of vindication.  Second, being able to show people that nothing is as impossible as it seems was satisfying.  I truly hope that our HHH victory would inspire people to pursue their goals.

Tom Rowland:  Tell me about the recovery process

JH: I slept a normal eight hours after the event, which was surprising.  When I had to walk around the following day, I limped.  The day after that, I stayed in bed.  When I went back to the gym, I avoided using any weights and mostly kept to stretching the first two weeks after HHH.  Unfortunately, I have a lingering injury on my right leg that was exacerbated by the HHH, so I'm still not at 100%.  I've mostly been doing upper-body bodyweight work and swimming to stay off my leg, and I'm about to start physical therapy to rehab my right leg.

What did you eat?

JH: One of our HHH teammates, Kelli, who dropped during the second Heavy brought Jack in the Box burgers and fries to the endex.  She is a saint for doing this, and I will be forever grateful for her generosity.  The Chipotle run after the event was also fantastic, and I appreciate Pete Silver for driving the team there and then back to our hotel.  I joked with my friend and HHH teammate, Patricia, that Chipotle was the food of champions since we ate a burrito the day before our Kokoro and HHH events and we finished both events.

Is there a Quad Heavy in the future?

JH: No. The Triple Heavy was already on the edge of excessiveness, and anything that goes beyond that is too much in my opinion.  I wouldn't be completely surprised if someone comes up with something dumb like GORUCK HHHHHell Week in the future, but I won't take any part of it if it ever exists. You would have nothing to show for it except for some really stupid injuries.  

Tom Rowland:  So now you have done a number of Goruck events as well as completing SealFit Kokoro and HHH.  What lessons have you taken back to your everyday life?  

JH: Mental attitude plays a big role in how you will succeed or fail.  You have to be absolutely confident in what you are doing.  When I first attempted the HHH, my attitude was that I would finish two Heavies and see how far I could go for the third.  Lo and behold, I only made it as far as two Heavies in HHH01.  For HHH02, I changed my attitude and repeatedly visualized myself finishing the third Heavy with my teammates.  One of the main reasons why I completed the HHH was because I absolutely believed that I could finish it.  I used the same visualization techniques to see myself completing Kokoro, and that played a role in becoming a Kokoro graduate.

I don't complain as much because I've become so grateful of the things that I do have, and I've learned that "it could always be worse."  Completing those events also warped my perception of what is difficult.  Any challenge that stands in my way doesn't seem as scary as the stuff I've been through in Kokoro and HHH.

Tom Rowland:  I am a graduate of SealFit Kokoro 30 and I attempted Goruck Selection 015 in your class.  I saw great similarities between the two events, but I also saw them as almost the opposite of one another in so many ways.   Successfully completing Kokoro gave me great confidence and I brought tons of lessons home and became better for it.  Failing after around 20 hours in Selection 015 also taught me a ton of lessons.  In so many ways, I learned and gained more from the failure than I did from the success.  Can you give us some insight to how you would compare and contrast the HHH to SealFit Kokoro?

JH: Reliance on your team members is a big factor in both Kokoro and HHH.  I would not have completed either event if it wasn't for my teammates.

In terms of difficulty, the Triple Heavy was harder than Kokoro.  It seems obvious saying that because the HHH's 72 hours is greater than Kokoro's 50 hours, but I'll never forget how intense it was to be expected to perform again during the third Heavy when you already had done so much in the previous 48 hours.

Kokoro was more than just a test of your physical and mental limits--it was also designed to provide lessons that allowed you to find or reflect on the purpose of your life.  The Triple Heavy, on the other hand, had no specific goal other than to test its participants to work as a team and endure to the end.

Tom Rowland:  Now…the big question…what is next?  Is Selection in the cards for you?  If so or if not….why?

JH: That's a good question, but it's one that I won't answer at this moment.  The injury on my right leg hasn't fully healed, and it's put into question whether it's worth going through Selection again.  After the Triple Heavy, I feel that I don't have to prove myself to anyone ever again.  If I ever decide to do Selection again, it would have to be for a very good reason.

Thanks so much Jonathan.  Congratulations on being a great American and challenging yourself daily


Jonathan is currently working on writing his AAR for the second Triple Heavy, but you can read his AAR for the first Triple Heavy at the links below.

30 and 60 days out from SealFit Kokoro

I came across this great video from the guys at SealFit.  All of these guys and ladies are Kokoro graduates and offer some outstanding advice.  If you are considering Kokoro, please watch this video and pay attention to the details.  Below, I will give you what I did and where I think you should be 30 and 60 days out for Kokoro.


I agree with their advice and I can offer a little more from the perspective of an older athlete going into this event.  At 60 days out you should feel pretty confident in everything.  Use the published standards as a guide and then add 30-40 reps on top of the published standard as a minimum guide to progress.  At 60 days out, you should be increasing your weekly mileage of running considerably while avoiding injury.  Every day, you should be training in the boots and pants you will use at the event.  I was doing Opwods 3-4 days a week, running focused work 2 days and rucking one day...long.

30 days out, your gear should be dialed, your feet should be hard and you should be prepared for extreme workloads of 2-3 hour constant workouts. I did the 5 miles/1000 Burpee workout, Triple Murph and lots of other challenges before the event.  You should feel comfortable with a 10 minute, no movement plank and be able to do Murph weighted at any time.

At 30 days out, you should have all the work done that you need to survive the event.  It is important at this time to try to heal up any injuries that you have and show up to the event healthy.  Showing up healthy is of major importance to all athletes, but to the older athlete, like me, showing up compromised is not at all what you want to do.  Show up healthy, strong and plan far enough ahead that you are not in a panic 30 days out, rather you are starting your taper.

Good luck.

The Assessment

SEALs getting it done in tough conditions

SEALs getting it done in tough conditions

I am certainly not a Navy SEAL.  I have never been one and unfortunately, I think I am too old to ever become one now.  I have had the very good fortune to train with some of the Team Guys in SealFit Kokoro, my SealFit Level 1 certification, my Goruck Selection and a few other times.  Each time, I have learned alot and developed a deeper respect for these individuals. I will also say that I have had the good fortune to train with other Special Operators such as Rangers, Green Berets, MARSOC, Marines and others.  All of these guys have my ultimate respect.  They are highly trained, physically extraordinary, operate with extreme discipline and are always seeking excellence.  I have simply had more exposure to the SEALs through my reading and through SEALFIT.  All special operators are extraordinary and many have minimum standards that far exceed anything I am about to write about.  The assessment I am going to describe would be the absolute bare minimum that someone would have to have to show up to training and if you were barely meeting these standards, you better be ready for some serious pain.  The guys who make it far exceed most of the standards listed.

I am a 48 year old guy who has never been in the military.  I train regularly and use these standards to test myself and stay in relatively good condition.  With that being said, here is the Assessment.

SealFit has an Assessment which provides standards that we can strive for to excel at any task in air, land or water.  The standards are aggressive and paint a picture of a very fit person who would be extremely capable. 

Navy Seal, Josh Bridges is among the fittest humans on Earth

Navy Seal, Josh Bridges is among the fittest humans on Earth

The real SEALs will far exceed these standards in most categories.  For those of us who are not SEALs, will never be a SEAL but respect the dedication, durability, and overall athletic standards to which these people are held (this describes me), this assessment provides some excellent goals to strive for. 

When completing this assessment, it requires planning and training.  It is certainly not something that I can do in a day.  Rather, I plan on fully completing the full Assessment by the end of September.  Even this is fairly aggressive with my travel schedule, however, I have invited my friends to do it with me.

The Assessment calls for max efforts in the major lifts to determine Functional Strength or the ability to do hard, heavy work (BW=bodyweight.  1.0=1x bodyweight, 1.5=1.5xbodyweight etc...)

Front Squat Men 1.5BW / Women 1.0BW

Deadlift Men 2.0BW / Women 1.5BW

Press Men 1.0BW / Women .75BW

Bench Press Men 1.5BW / Women 1.0BW

Squat Clean Men 1.25BW / Women 1.0BW

Clean & JerkMen 1.0BW / Women .75BW

then it tests Strength Stamina: Overcoming resistance repetitively with efficiency over time

BW Squat > 120 in 2 minutes All the way down on every rep

BW Push-up > 100 in 2 minutes Full range of motion

BW Pull-up > 20 in 2 minutes Full ROM / Kipping allowed

BW Sit-up > 100 in 2 minutes Full ROM / Abmat allowed

The next section is Functional Endurance: Developing functional LSD competencies in the water, air and land

Run 1.5 Miles in 9:00 minutes

Run 3.0 Miles in 20:00 minutes

Run 6.0 Miles in 45:00 minutes

Run 14 miles to completion

Ruck 26 Miles with 40# Ruck

Swim 500 Meters in 8:00 minutes

Swim 1 Mile in 35:00 minutes

Row 2,000 Meters in 7:45 minutes

Row 5,000 Meters in 20:00 minutes

And finally, they test Power and Speed: Overcoming resistance explosively

Row 500 Meters for time Target 1:30

Thrusters Max in 1 Minute (95#M/65#W) Target 30

Box Jumps Max in 1 Minute (20" box) Target 45

Run 400 Meters for time Target 1.25

Burpees Max in 1 Minute Target 15


Most of these can be completed during normal morning workouts, but things like the swims, 26 mile ruck, 14 mile run will have to be done on a Saturday or Sunday.  I fully expect that we may try some of these more than once, but I have set the end of Sept as the date that it will all be complete. 

I have sent an email to my group of regulars, but if you are reading this and want to complete this with us, shoot me an email at and I can send you an Excel or Numbers file that will populate the goals based upon your bodyweight.

Here is my previous post on the Assessment


Mon 8-10-15

I had the opportunity to be an intern coach at SealFit 20x at the SLTC facility this weekend.  Having graduated  SealFit Kokoro 30 and surviving 20 hours in Goruck Selection, this training was not new to me.  However, coaching was different. 

Kokoro changed my life and I learned lessons that I use everyday for success in my business, family and personal relationships.  I learned lessons that didn't really sink in for a year.  I am so grateful for that experience.

The opportunity to be on the other side of the training is one that I enjoy because I learn more as a coach than I did as a student.  Thank you to SealFit, SLTC and the students of this class for letting me be a part of it.  The entire finishing class are studs in my book.  You showed up, overcame your doubt and fear and accomplished 20x more than you believed was possible. 

I lead the group through our Gratitude exercise and Stillwater.  Unfortunately for them, the event was not over and it broke into chaos shortly after.  I recommend slowly coming back to consciousness rather than getting hit with a hose...

I lead the group through our Gratitude exercise and Stillwater.  Unfortunately for them, the event was not over and it broke into chaos shortly after.  I recommend slowly coming back to consciousness rather than getting hit with a hose...

Today at the garage:

Back Squat






Front Squat @ 95 lbs

Box Jump/Step Ups @ 30"

Sumo Deadlift Highpull @ 95 lbs



I pulled from the SealFit SOF workouts today.  I was in the mood for a long grind full of bodyweight work.  I found what I was looking for:

Complete as many rounds as possible in 30 minutes of the following…

50m Weighted walking lunge (use any weight you have access to) We mostly used 45-60 pound sandbags

20x push ups

20x 4-count flutter kicks

*At the 15 and 30 minute mark, stop what you are doing and run 800m or row 60 calories

This one was simply a grind.  Good mental toughness training as it was quite boring as well.    I would definitely say that this one will definitely not go on the list of favorites or even one that I might return to, however, the work was valuable and was reminiscent of a Goruck event, 20 x or Kokoro.  Just endless, mundane, routine bodyweight and ruck work designed to grind you physically and mentally. 

Frogman's Christmas/Frogman's New Year

We have done this workout as both Frogman's Christmas and Frogman's New Year.  I think you can probably find it titled both across the internet, however the workout stays the same.

Frogman's Christmas/Frogman's New Year

100 Dead Hang Pull ups

250 Pushups

500 Situps

Run 3 miles

For time

On Dec 26 2012, we did this same workout and my time was 66 minutes and change.  Today, I completed this in 57:10 which is a great improvement for me.  I credit it to all of the pushups and situps we did to get ready for Goruck Selection.  Despite doing much better, I was still smoked by Rusty Gray (on his anniversary) who ran about 400 m farther than he was supposed to and still beat me by about 45 seconds.

We had a great turnout today with Kim Ray, Matt Greenwell, Kyle Haren, Kevin Distasio, Rusty Gray and even Will Hunt dropped by to drink a beverage while cheering us on.  It is great to have such camaraderie at the garage. 

I am continually impressed that I can write something like this on the board and get zero complaints from any of the guys. They just step up and do it.  This, in turn, makes me step up and do it better than before.

Thank you to everyone who is a part of the RRL. 

Normal Park Stairs

Check out Matt Beach doing the Normal Park Stairs workout.  Congratulations to MIKE DREW for being the first to ever finish this workout in under 25 minutes!  24:53 to be exact!

RRL Warmup

Normal Park Stairs

Run 1 mile to stairs

10 burpees at top

10 clap pushups at bottom

x 3 rounds

Run 1 mile back to RRL

This is a very simple workout.  Our gym record for this was shattered today as Mike Drew killed everyone and turned in a 24:53 being the first to ever break 25 minutes on this run.  There is really no strategy or technique to this one...just run a mile as fast as you can, run up the stairs and do the burpees, get back down as fast as possible and hit the clap pushups.  Do it again 2 more times then run home.

Workouts like these are my absolute favorite.  There is nothing better than using a natural feature or man made obstacle and turning it into a benchmark workout.  It is easy to do, you have one right next to your house or gym...guaranteed. 

We do an obstacle course at Renaissance Park, the stairs at Normal Park, Russel x 8 (which is a steep hill that we simply run up and down 8 times for time), Young x5 with 5 burpees on each end.  We may have others, but these are the simplest, require no equipment and are some of the most fun workouts that we do at the RRL.

If you do find something challenging, make sure to write down exactly how you do it and keep time.  It will become a benchmark that you can return to over and over.

On another son got his braces off today!


U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant John Rankel, 23, of Speedway, Indiana, assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Camp Pendleton, California, was killed on June 7, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He is survived by mother and stepfather Don and Trisha Stockhoff; father and stepmother, Kevin and Kim Rankel; and brothers Nathan Stockhoff and Tyler Rankel.


RRL Warmup


Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
225 pound Deadlift, 6 reps
7 Burpee pull-ups
10 Kettlebell swings, 2 pood
Run 200 meters