Sunday, February 23, 2014

S.E.R.E Urban Miami Event Review

The S.E.R.E. Urban Challenge may just be my favorite event. Why? It has so many elements-- teamwork, competition, practical survival instruction, scavenger hunt/missions to complete, miles covered, PT, fun. Oh, and maybe also because my awesome team won the "Top Team" coin.

True confession: I originally didn't want to sign up for this event. Really, I had to be convinced by a guy on Facebook who would become my instructor. Why? The information about the event was pretty slim. Of course, I like some mystery (the biggest reason I love Spartan Races-- no course map published in advance). In all my searching, S.E.R.E. Urban appeared to be very much like GORUCK. I already have a GRC scheduled, so I really didn't want to spend money on another one. What convinced me to join? One word: COMPETITION. I am so very competitive.  

What's not to love about some morning PT on the beach?
So, what is the S.E.R.E. Urban Challenge? According to the website,
The S.E.R.E. URBAN Challenge will creatively test you physically & mentally. Though a fun challenge it gets serious quickly, you will have fun & make new friends as you learn how to adapt, overcome, & improvise through instructor led classes such as resource acquisition, exploitation, evading detection, first aid, communications & signaling, caches & offensive & defense tactics, urban movement & navigation. 
It has recently undergone a revision, so it's not what it used to be. I don't want to give away all of the specifics about the Miami event... there should be some mystery for you. I'll just give the highlights.

We were pre-assigned teams-- 5 people per team, but in my case one member was a no-show, so we were one of 2 teams of 4-- 2 males and 2 females. I requested to be placed with my favorite partner in all things torture, my BTF (Best Tough Friend), Cindy-- a tae kwon do black belt and speedy runner.

After checking in, we started on the beach with some PT-- push ups, low crawls, dive bomber push ups in the water, low crawls, rolls, inch worm walks, and more low crawls. There was a PT challenge, with an extra help on the first mission as a prize. Team Charlie, my team, won.
One of our "Proof of Life" check-in photos.
The day was spent completing several missions, which all related to the scenario we were given at the beginning of the day. We were given some practical instruction on urban survival in the event of an emergency, catastrophic natural disaster, injury, and/or zombie apocalypse (well, zombies were never mentioned, but I couldn't help but think of I am Legend as possible scenarios were described). Penalties and rewards were given, depending on how each team performed.

The missions were tricky, required quick thinking, adaptation, and fast movement-- sometimes over several miles. No cell phones were allowed, no maps except for those which we obtained during the challenge, no public transportation. We had to be creative, while staying within the parameters given by our instructors. Very challenging. I loved the intellectual side of this.
Photo proof of a completed mission. *Note: shopping cart was not a requirement of the mission and was not stolen from the premises of a store (we borrowed it from the roadside)*
I would love to go into the details of each challenge and describe how our team managed to win all challenges but one; however, I don't want to give too much away. I will say this-- we listened very carefully to the instructions given for each mission, and we tried to think outside the box while remaining inside the boundaries of our instructions. We did not cheat. We made the most of every opportunity.

You have to sign up for a S.E.R.E. event. I loved it! There were times when I felt like I was on the show Amazing Race, times I felt like I was in a survival class, times I felt like I was in bootcamp, and times I felt like a toddler being pushed in a stroller (for someone who is rarely spontaneous and never does anything that could get her questioned by the police-- it was hysterically fun sitting in a shopping cart, being pushed full speed alongside a busy street. *We were not questioned by police, but I was quite concerned that we might be.).
Special thanks to Haidar Hachem for his superb shopping cart driving.  
If you want more specifics, I'd love to answer questions. Post them to "comments" or find me on Facebook.
My awesome team and Instructor Cuthbert

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Find Your Delight

delight: n. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture

I'm a perfectionist. Type A. Highly critical, especially of myself. I'm also a pessimist. And I realize that I have this bad habit-- nothing is ever good enough. There is always a "Yeah, but..." attached to my achievements. This is NOT a healthy perspective; I know this. I am working on it...

This week, I was confronted by this unhealthy habit in a big way. In the weight room, this was my heavy week-- workouts included lifts of 95% of my max training weight, with the opportunity to work past that max to find a new 1 rep max. Monday was squat day; Tuesday-- Cleans and Bench; Thursday-- dead lift; Saturday-- overhead (clean and jerk). It was hard work. Exhausting. I reached new maxes in the 3 major lifts. 

But what stands out to me the most? The missed lifts. Those cleans. Never mind that I equaled my previous max for multiple reps-- not just one. Never mind that I defeated my previous maxes in the other lifts. Never mind that I worked hard, did my best. 

So, if you are a bit like me, here is what we need to do: purpose (v. to resolve) to delight in our accomplishments. Instead of rushing onto the next thing, delight in the completed work. Instead of replaying the misses, glory in the moments we overcome. Center our thoughts on the positives. Meditate on the progress, not the setbacks. Be thankful for the strong body that works hard. Delight in the good. 


"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:4