Saturday, August 25, 2012

GoRuck GR1 hydration mod

I don't think I have ever loved a backpack more than my GR1 made by Goruck. Of course there was a lot of blood, sweat, and not quite tears, but serious emotions involved in our first night together, Goruck Class 113. For those not familiar with how a Goruck class works, each person carries 6 bricks inside their rucksack. Depending on what size ruck is used, the fit can be quite tight to get the remaining gear you would need to survive a class to fit inside with the bricks. 

As much as I enjoy my GR1 I can not help but tinker, to try to make it more comfortable, more specific to my ruck patterns, my inclinations. Make it mine. Thus I have been working on schemes to modify or 'mod' my ruck. Specifically how to carry a 3 liter (3L) hydration reservoir without zipping it into the hydration/laptop compartment that faces the back of the carrier. When I zip my 3L into this compartment it does not allow the pack to sit flush against my back and depending on how I jam everything inside, the zipper may not close all the way and I have gap at the top by the carry handle. Now, many Goruck alumni have figured how to overcome this challenge using their own ideas. But this one is my own. Before I explain how I did this mod, let me show you the results. 

from the back

side view, flush to the GR1
To do this mod, I used the following items:  Camelbak Thermobak AB, 4 feet of inch wide webbing.

IMG_4158The Camelbak Thermobak 3L-AB was the linchpin to this mod. I don't think I could have done it without it. The Thermobak 3L-AB uses a special system built into the pack for the use with military issue combat vests. Side Buckle clip lines are situated at the top and bottom to clip onto standard MOLLE systems, which the GR1 rucksack has along the bottom of the pack. There is also 6 D-rings along the outside for other types of attachment to packs. There is a civilian version of this model called simply the 'Thermobak 3L' that does not have this strap attachment system or D-rings. If you try this mod be sure to use the model with the AB designation. As you can see in the photo, right, I have extended the straps so you can see the location of the straps and the special side buckles that come with it. The female clips, which go on the rucksack,  (and seen as set asides in the photo) have a design that allows them to be clipped onto and off MOLLE very quickly.


The actual modification to the rucksack involved double backing the inch webbing, and sewing it onto the GR1 as a new strip of MOLLE. I noticed to late that we were using a dark blue thread rather than a black. Yes it bothers me, don't make the same mistake if you do this, but I am not going to redo it now.

In the final photos above, I do have a full set of six bricks inside the pack. So that profile is what I will expect in my next class.

Obviously I did not use four feet of webbing to create a pair of MOLLE attachments along the top of my ruck. As I put it all together I realized that the top side buckle strap that came withe Thermobak would not be long enough to clip into the new MOLLE mod. A longer one was made using the extra webbing.

I touched on it in the beginning of this post that I didn't like the bulge my 3L reservoir created along the back panel when I wore the ruck. Attaching the Thermobak in this manner, not only do I have a very flush and low profile hydration platform, the GR1 is now tight against my back making my bear crawls and buddy carries less bothersome.

Another benefit of the Thermobak AB model is that it also has shoulder straps which allow you to unclip it from the ruck and wear it as a solo item. When worn attached to the ruck, the shoulder straps and the side buckle straps all tuck into cleverly designed pockets built into the unit. This additional benefit makes the Thermobak AB ideal for longer runs when I wouldn't want to wear a heavy backpack and for obstacle course racing. The low profile design of the AB which is wider than normal camelbak models, makes it easier to navigate under low or narrow obstacles like barb wire with a design less likely to snag. But the real beauty of the mod is that when I do ruck, I have an external hydration for my favorite rucksack and can also be used externally on all my other rucksacks if I so desired.  

I have another modification I made for my GR1, a modest hip belt. A portion of that can be seen in photos near the bottom straps. It did not involve any permanent modifications to the pack, just some possibility thinking during long rucks.

Time to step it up.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Its a consecutive day challenge not a rep challenge

I am in a social media group for 100 days of burpees which we just hit the 50 day mark. There is over 800 people who said they would do it but only about two dozen who haven't missed a day yet, myself included. There is about another hundred who post regularly who started later and not missed a day or started on Day One, missed a day and started over to attempt the streak again. There are also quite a few that have missed a day, mostly for being lazy, hungover, otherwise 'too busy', and make up those missed burpees at the next earliest point. The longer this challenge goes on the more frustrated I am at this last group. Why?

Maybe I am becoming an old curmudgeon, personally people accountable to the spirit, well actually the title of the challenge, of 100 Days. Its a challenge of straight days, not a challenge of repetitions done during that 100 days. I put a lot of personal integrity into my own personal struggle to make it 100 days straight. I get ticked off when I read people listing that they missed a day, BUT they made it up on another day and everything is A-OK now. As if to say, "We are equal and the same and all worthy of being finishers of the 100 day burpee challenge." 

I don't think we are equal. When I get to Day 100, I can look at the world and say, "I did 100 straight days of burpees, adding one rep each day." The people described above will look at the world and if honest would say something like, "I finished the 100 day burpee challenge. I only did burpees on 97 of those days but on the 3 days I missed I made those up later that week. High 5!". 

I think you missed a day, you should recycle back to Day 1 and try it again. 

I understand the need to get back on the horse. We all have bad days. Yet I would rather see someone reset to day one than quit something like this. It is a transformative challenge. And the real mental paradigm comes from accomplishing 100 days straight, not making it up. 

I should also make the case that people have to deal with real physical issues to get through this. The wrists will start to hurt. Maybe an old shoulder issue flairs up. Then the knee might be bad or the lower back aches. Of course in and of themselves, burpees just plain hurt to do as a cardiovascular and muscular exercise. You gasp like a fish and you flop on the floor and you sweat like a pig when you take the shortest of breaks. And if someone is truly injured, I wouldn't have them do that challenge. No challenge is worth months of physical discomfort (above the action of burpees themselves). Do a different fitness challenges. I have no problem if someone had to stop because of an injury. 

My problem are those that can't find ten minutes in their 15-17+ hour day to do what they promised to themselves to do, burpees for 100 straight days. Most common excuses, survey says, "Hungover, work sucked, hung out at the beach, too busy." 

I see this challenge as a microcosm to how you treat your life. You put in the hard work, the consistent work and you find success in the end. Not, do what you can, when you can, do a little bit more later, feign like you are sorry about the whole thing and then blow it off like nothing happened. 

I have mulled in my mind, just leaving the group because the disconnect feels so strongly on my end. That I am thinking too much into this. I should be more supportive of people attempting to get better. Instead I have to sit on my hands to not type a note suggesting they should reset and try again because they were lazy. I've been doing the 100 day burpee challenge for a long time, this is my third one. I do burpees 4-5 days a week whether I am in a challenge or not. I am the first to admit I hate them, I can't do nearly as many as a few, they certainly look worse than most. 

I respect a challenge. I respect people who 'honor' an agreement to do something like 100 days of burpees. I respect people who admit they missed a day and start over, maybe more so than anyone because I force myself to do them so I don't have to start over. I wouldn't want to make it to day 51, miss the next day and then start looking at 100 straight days again. No way. That scares me like nothing. I like my 4-5 days a week. I don't like 7 days a week for another three months. 

So I will sit on my hands for a bit longer. Praising those that need it, and trying to stay my typing for those that don't deserve praise in my opinion. But I had to get this off my chest. So there you go. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Abs no more

I have decided to stop my personal 10 week ab challenge. This is week 7 and I am performing 700 repetitions per day. I have struggled mightily to obtain my daily numbers the last two weeks and having to force the numbers. To my physical detriment this is aggravating my lower back and making me uncomfortable performing the exercises and tight the rest of the day. I will continue to do my usual & modest 200-300 ab reps a day in my morning routine and continue with my 100 day burpee challenge as well as my normal my endurance and fitness pursuits. 

I never enjoy having to quit a challenge, especially so close to the end, only three weeks remaining. But a more dramatic injury at this point to my lower back would severely harm the efforts I am putting into a number of other areas, huge goals that I feel are much more important. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hike Hard, lessons learned

I prefer to consider myself an Adventure Hiker. Maybe some of my adventures are nothing more than enjoying the scenery but often times it includes some sort of pucker factor. My hike yesterday with my training partner would describe that. We decided to pick up the 40lb rucks and hit the Coon Bluff Rec Area off the Salt River.

Issue #1:  on my last ruck I broke a buckle on my WarHammer pack. Nothing like a fifty cent side release buckle making a $250 pack unusable. As I didn't realize this until I was already a few minutes late leaving the house, I had to madly repack my GR1 with a bundle of 6 bricks, a recharged hydration reservoir and transfer some survival gear. Ruck in hand, off I went. 

We hit the ridge line and then followed an established trail. Then we lost the trail and decided to bushwhack to the river using a wash. The time of day required constant scanning for rattlers and luckily or by throwing a ton of rocks in front of us, we didn't see any. There was some made scrambling down canyon walls and we had to navigate around some standing water sumps along the wash. Man wish I had my gopro for that. 

Issue #2. Rucking in the desert in the summer is hot. Like 105* air temp. But get inside canyons that have soaked up solar heat all day and the ground and side wall temps easily hit 125+ degrees. We sweated our asses off. 

We finally got to the river but realized we had to cross a bamboo swamp to get to it. We decided to tack around it and through an old flood area of downed trees along a cliff face. We hit the river, realize there is no trail, enclosed by cliffs and have to wade up or down stream with our heavy rucks in fast moving water. Eventually we found an egress site, wrung out the socks but had to then climb back up to the ridge line to find a trail. Back to bush whacking. In the desert you don't really bushwhack, its more like avoid cactus. And this time I got nailed. Some teddy bear cholla grabbed my calf and went deep. 

Issue #3. Pulling out fine cactus needles really really hurts. I was able to get about a dozen of the surface barbs and the body off my calf. There remained another dozen of fine barbs still imbedded in my calf and I decided it best to find the trail before a final clean up. Twenty minutes later and each step not feeling great we created a hill and I went to work. What was cool was I had prepped for this for years but never had to do it to myself. I pulled out my Leatherman and used the pliers to pull the barbs from my calf. These were all about a 1/4 inch deep. There remained a few short barbs that I just couldn't clear so I ripped some duct tape off my flashlight, slapped it on, that freaking stung, and ripped it off like a mad waxer. Totally worked. 

(This is not me, nor was the piece I encountered this big. But the
 results were the same. I also wearing shorts. This stuff is no joke)

A bit more bushwhacking to the next ridge and we found the trail which overlooked the parking lot. SAVED. 

Issue #4. We both forgot to bring a celebratory beer for the event. So we drank our now warm water and planned to bring dry socks to all further events. 

Another success adventure. Step it up!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July Challenges completed

July has come and gone.What a month it was for fitness. To read my weekly recaps link HERE. I honestly had my doubts about completing 31 straight days of running and yet I overcame a lot of mental obstacles during the month and honestly a serious injury with only two days left. 

Today, the first of August. I did not run. The unintended consequence of running every day was that I could not recover adequately for the next run. By the second week my distance suffered significantly. Conversely for those few miles I did run every day, my pace improved. While I am glad to have hit this milestone I can't help but think that I did myself a disservice sticking with it. I cherish my endurance ability. Knowing inside that on any day you can go out and run a half marathon is empowering. I don't have that mental edge today. 

Finishing the pushups early helped me get through the dog bite injury. One less thing to worry about. I have still been doing around 100 push ups a day put not the usual dropping at random moments to knock out a set. 

This week is 500 abdominal reps. Which has become easier than doing 300 or 400. Funny how that works. Add doing them in less time. 

Burpees are coming along, haven't missed a day, the 37th now I believe. I don't think I will ever have the flexibility or fluidity to make burpees look like a beautiful or effortless movement. So I do my clunky and ugly burpees knowing that every rep I do is one more day to the awesome Day 100. 

Going to take a couple days to sort out what I will do for a challenge or focus in August. I have a few ideas but I need some time to decompress from doing four challenges last month. 

To quote an old friend, Stay Tuned...