Body Armor, Gas Mask and a Lesson Learned

Yesterday was our much anticipated work out with the Tallahassee Police Department’s Tactical Apprehension and Control Team to benefit Orphan Logistics and Relief.

Orphan Logistics and Relief is a charity founded by several Tallahassee residents. They travel to third world countries to repair, build and provide services to schools and orphanages. Most of their funding have come out of their own pockets.

I know you are wondering what the connection is.

One of the founding members of OLR, James Fairfield is the Sgt of the TAC team. I met James several months ago when he came out to my gym to build a 12 foot wall for my Adventure Race Camps. From there James and several members of the team began using the gym for their workouts. I learned more about the charity during my conversations with James and I knew it was something I wanted to support in any way that I could.

That is when I had the brilliant idea of the workout.

The TAC team have a physical fitness qualification test that mimics some of the tasks that he and his men may encounter during a call. James and I agreed that this would be a great way to raise money for the charity. I knew our boot camp clients would love the chance to test themselves and their fitness levels.

Yesterday TAC team members, James, Jeff and Gavin arrived at the gym in the Bearcat; the armored vehicle used by the team. Gavin, a sniper, set up a table of weapons and gear used on their job while James and Jeff set up our course.

Jeff went first to show us what to expect. He finished in just under 5 minutes. James said that they want their team to finish in close to 5 minutes but have to do it in under 7.

We watched silently as Jeff sat down gasping for air. No one was volunteering to go next. I knew what I had to do.

As Jeff was putting on my body armor, I began making excuses. You guys know I am just coming back from injury. I am almost 50. I am a grandmother, I just got out of a cast. I’ve only done three workouts in the past couple of months etc, etc. I was scared. I was afraid I couldn’t do it and instead of just being ok with that, I made excuses before I even started.

With my body armor on, I got ready to start. Normally the vest would be loaded with equipment, but in our case, it was empty. I’m not sure how much it weighed empty; all I know, it was pretty heavy. The first task was to pick up, “the key”. That is the heavy thing used to bust through doors. I ran out 25 yards and back and then did 10 deep squats with it. From there I picked up a shield and while holding it, ran the 50 yards again. At this point I was feeling ok. Next up was to grab an aluminum ladder and run again. It was light and I was feeling pretty confident. It was then time to do 10 Burpees. This is when things started to get tough. From here I can’t even remember the order of the rest of the workout. I went into survival mode.

Next was pulling a sled loaded with 90 pounds 25 yards and then pushing it back to start. Then we had to clean and press 95 pounds. I was already gasping for air. It took only seconds to make the decision to opt for a lighter weight. That was my breakthrough. That is when I knew that I was free of Nastasha and her evil doings.

Then I had to grab hold of one of the bars on the Bearcat and hang for 20 seconds. This was the easiest part for me and gave me 20 seconds to catch my breath. I had to climb up and over the top of the vehicle and drop down to the other side. That is where James was waiting for me with a gas mask.

I had to take a minute. I couldn’t catch my breath and the thought of strapping something over my face brought me to the brink of panic. By the way, the picture Megan captured of this moment is priceless.

With a gas mask on my face, I had to decide whether to do a shuttle run or hit the tire with a sledgehammer 10 times and flip it 6 times. Crap. My mask was fogging up because of my rapid breathing and now I had to decide between running and sledgehammers. I chose the sledgehammer and tire flipping. The whole time I was striking that tire, I was wishing I had chosen the shuttle run.

At this point, I had to get out of that mask. I still had to run 100 yards to finish and I knew there was no way I could do it with the mask on. I ran, walked and stopped several times on that last 100 yards but I finished. My time certainly did not qualify me for this elite unit. The only unit I would be qualifying for would be the cardiac unit at CRMC. I was awarded with a 50 caliber shell casing with my time of 10:21. Thank goodness it was a big shell casing or my time wouldn’t have fit on it.

I was so proud of our boot campers. They killed the course all in under 7 minutes. Several of them did the course after doing 45 minutes of boot camp right before.

Through the kind donations of our wonderful boot camp clients, we were able to send James away with a $1250.00 check for OLR.

When I got home, I started thinking (and icing). I was embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed. I’m not embarrassed because I was slow or that I had to choose a light weight to press or even that I had to finish the course without my gas mask. I am embarrassed, no, humiliated that I violated the most important thing that I set out to do as Super Strong Nana. I used my age and my current conditioning as an excuse for not doing as well as I had hoped. I even did it before I started the course! It’s an epic fail on my part.

So, today I vow to dust off my cape. I will do the very best I can in everything I do. If I don’t do well at something, I will accept it for what it is. I will not make excuses. I will just accept that maybe I am human after all and that I do NOT have to be good at everything. I vow to be ok with who I am and where I am.

Leave a Reply