Saturday, May 21, 2016

Sunderbruch Beer and Bacon 10Kish Trail Run 2016

Another great race put on by Joshua Sun and the QC Trail and Ultra Runners. 6 minutes faster than last year at 1:29:21. Oh ya and Bacon!!!!















Friday, May 20, 2016

Impactful


I was working the other day in a small town about 30 minutes from where I live. I stopped to get a soda from the convenience store and I saw a friend that I had not seen in person for quite some time. I hollered and at first he didn't recognize me (I was out of context ) but when he did we gave a hand shake and man hug. We were shooting the shit when he asked me if I would come talk to the high school class he was teaching about the War on Terror. Maybe tell about some of my experiences in that regard. I agreed, with the proviso that I was working as a paramedic and if I got an ambulance call I would have to leave.

So the next morning I showed up and he met me at the front office and took me down to his classroom. Several students were seated in a semi circle and another teacher also joined us. He introduced me and I took a seat. The students had written some questions on the board and they took turns asking me each question and allowed me to answer. As conversations do we got off on some tangents but it was fun and they seemed truly interested. Eventually I was asked " What was your most impactful experience?" Just then my radio squawked for a 911 call and I had to thank them and leave in somewhat of a hurry. I never got to answer the question.

I have been thinking about it since then. What was my answer going to be? I have chronicled many of my experiences here on this blog. Stories like this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2010/04/baxmal.html and this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2010/05/kirkuk.html andthis http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2010/04/road-to-klaw-kut.html and this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2010/04/april-9th.html and this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2010/07/no-mans-land.html and this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2010/09/wrong-place-wrong-time.html and this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2012/02/war-dogs.html and this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2013/02/i-dont-dance.html and this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-little-girl.html and this http://mikemac356.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-banya.html .

Good stories all but were they impactful? I think the one that was most impactful was the one I haven't told. Its the story of my time as Team Sergeant on a Special Forces Military Freefall ODA.

I have to go back in time a bit to set the story up. I was put on the promotion list to MSG shortly before my move from 1/10 in Germany to 3/10 in Ft Carson Colorado. I had recently left the best ODA I ever had the pleasure of serving on,ODA 014 MFF. That team was solid from top to bottom. I then spent time as the Battalion Operations NCO as well as the interim Team Sergeant on ODA 016 on a Kosovo deployment. By the time I moved to Colorado I was a newly promoted MSG and was assigned to the 3/10 Battalion Military Freefall Team as the new Team Sergeant, the senior enlisted member of the team. I was well qualified for the position having been on MFF teams for 10 years and also being a former MFF instructor at the Special Warfare School. I was qualified but under prepared.

No one told me to expect the personalities I would encounter. The team I walked into was as tight as the team I had just left. They worshipped the former team sergeant like a god. I had enormous shoes to fill in their eyes. I had quite a good reputation in the Special Forces community or so I thought. These guys didn't give a shit. It was obvious that it was going to be a tough road. Several guys were helpful and over the months ahead proved to be very valuable. But with a few of the guys I experienced something I have never experienced before or since. I believe they actually hated me, as in despised me. They hated my personality, my training ideas, they way I did things. They just hated me. This was a shock, it had never happened before. I was second guessing myself trying to figure out where I went wrong and what I could do better. The guys who could not accept me as team sergeant undermined my authority at every turn. Instead of helping me and working together they actively looked to make my job harder. This sucked. I was at the epitome of my career. I was a god damn Team Sergeant on a Special Forces MFF ODA and I was miserable. My ego was in tatters. I started believing that I wasn't up to the job.

This went on for months and through multiple training deployments and real world missions. Slowly the old team members started rotating out and they were replaced with guys I had known from 1/10. Guys who requested to come to my team. But still there was that little hard core clique of naysayers. Eventually we got the call to deploy to Romania for the invasion of Iraq. I was now getting along with most of the team but my Senior Communications Sergeant was not having any of it. He was the last hard core member of the "We Hate Mike Club." Where ever I went, what ever I did he would subvert,bitch, moan, complain and downright ignore my orders. I tried talking to him, talking to his peers, asking my boss what I could do. Nothing worked. He thought I was a moron and I thought he was a insubordinate little fuck. This went on so long because he was very good at his job. I needed him or so I thought. But finally I had enough. I went to the Company SGM and on the eve of what was the greatest real world mission of my military career I asked for my Senior Communication Sergeant to be removed from my ODA. They didn't argue too much as I was adamant. I would rather go to war a man down than deal with the drama anymore. For his part he didn't argue either. I think he was relieved. They moved him to the Company HQ just prior to our infiltration into Northern Iraq.

Impactful? Yes. This experience made me question my leadership abilities, my knowledge, even my own self worth. I was so shaken by this terrible time in my life that upon return from deployment I put in my retirement papers. Maybe that's what they wanted all along.

Through the lens of hindsight I see that I had a lot of positive experiences as Team Sergeant. I have friends and old teammates from that ODA that I still stay in contact with. In the past 12 years of civilian management experience I have been quite successful and can dispel any myths that I am not a good or effective leader. But I still wonder that if I would have had a better Team Sergeant experience if I would have stayed in the Army longer. I guess I will never know. One  thing I do know is that wherever that guy is I hope he somehow reaped what he sowed.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

So Prince Died and Veterans are Pissy

So the legendary pop artist Prince died unexpectedly a few days ago. I wasn't ever a great fan of his, however I can appreciate his virtuosity, showmanship and talent. I do have two of his albums on the original vinyl, because who didn't in my generation? Anyway I have been seeing a lot of chatter on social media decrying the fact that the general public is making a big deal about his death but not mentioning anything about the multiple deaths our military has experienced recently. Some folks are getting downright pissy and saying that they are glad Prince died or that it doesn't matter. Not only is that classless but it is irrelevant.

Prince's death and the subsequent media coverage and outpouring of sorrow has nothing to do with the respect or lack of respect being given to those in the military that have given the last full measure of devotion. One of my saner colleagues remarked how ironic it is that veterans were expressing self absorption while they mocked self absorption. You can feel sad about something and feel equally as sad about something else. It is not a zero sum game.

Truthfully though besides bitching on the Book of Face I would like to know what some of these folks have actually done to help mitigate veteran suicide or help support a gold star family? Have they attended an Honor Flight or joined a Veterans Service Organization? Volunteered in the community to take care of grave sites? What have they done? The sensitivity and entitlement sometimes exhibited by the veterans community occasionally gets out of hand. Sometimes I feel like certain former military members are afraid of losing relevance. I read a good article the other day that stated that our time in the military should not be the end all be all of our lives. We should be that shining example not the stereotypical joke. Educate those you feel are deficient but do it in a tactful and professional manner. Invite one of your Prince loving friends to a community veterans event. Be a good community member. Mostly quit being a dick its OK to like a lot of things everyone appreciates your service.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

CVO Gun Talk Episode 001





Our first episode. 3 guys talk guns and training. Download here http://www.tpspproductions.com/cvo-gun-talk-1/ or subscribe on itunes

Hawkeye 50K: 6th Consecutive

I ran and completed the Hawkeye 50K for my 6th consecutive time yesterday in 7:52:24. Over an hour slower than last year and 2 hours slower than my best time on that course. I was severely under trained, oh lets be honest I trained none for this race. I ran a long run of 15 miles on the course the week before and averaged about 15-20 miles per week total leading up to the race. But I had to run it. This was my first ultra back in 2010 and if I don't run another race all year I will run this one. I am going to complete a streak of 10 years and see where it leads form there. I have written 5 other race reports so I wont go into the course much.

I ran most of the first loop by myself, leapfrogging Kris and Marci two friends on there first 50K attempt (they smoked me by 12 minutes hurrah!!). I spent the second lap pacing a young lady named Hillary who was also on her first attempt. In all honesty motivating her to continue also motivated me. It was a win win.

I learned a few things. #1 you can finish things if you put your mind to them.#2 pain is relative. I didn't feel any better or any worse really than the other ultras I have raced. I was just moving slower at the same perceived effort. So that is what training does? It lets you move faster at the same perceived effort, eureka!!!

My friend Brian was the Race Director and I had many friends out on the course and volunteering. They all did a fantastic job. I would like to give a shout out to my cousin Mark who spent all day at the stream crossing making sure people were safe. #3 I still love trail running. Multiple people greeted me by name and waved throughout the race. Very cool.

Well I need to think about what the year will bring. Now that the Hawkeye monkey is off my back not sure what is next. Some pictures.
















Thursday, April 7, 2016

Merle Haggard

My favorite country music artist Merle Haggard died yesterday. He died on his birthday at the age of 79. Merle was my favorite for many reasons. Not the least of which was he reminds me of my Father.

He reminds me of my Father because my Dad used to play his albums on the turntable in our living room while we were cleaning house. He also reminds me of my Dad because his song "Working Man Blues" is about my Dad and his hard work raising 6 kids on a construction workers salary.

Merle will always be my go to artist. His "Bakersfield Sound" is head and shoulders above the crap they call country music today. RIP Mr. Haggard

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

15 years

So I had a friend post that today was his 1 year anniversary of being alcohol free. I thought "Now that is a significant accomplishment." Then I realized that my own anniversary of sobriety had come and gone on the 8th of March. 15 years had regulated this once significant event to something that barely registers.

I started drinking alcohol when I was 14 years old. Throughout high school and the military I was a steady to heavy drinker. Before I was legal I used to get beer the way that most underage drinkers do. Using a fake ID or getting an older  friend to buy it. Once of age, it was game on. When I lived in the barracks as a young private it wasn't uncommon for me to polish off a 12 pack of beer and a bottle of Boones Farm Apple wine nightly. I would then celebrate my accomplishment by hurling the glass bottle against the cinder block wall of my room.

Several incidents stick out in my mind over the years. The time I got off work on Thursday night at the start of a four day weekend and chugged an entire bottle of Bacardi 151 to get the weekend started. I woke up 3 days later. Or the time myself and my fellow instructors stayed up drinking whiskey until 3 AM and then showed up to work at 5AM to do our 6 high altitude parachute jumps with our students. Sucking oxygen at ground level in an attempt to sober up. Or the time I was car surfing in Switzerland and the car took a left and my body took a right. As I hit the cobblestones at about 30 mph I was hoping I didn't get a license plate to the back of the head. Or the time I was so hungover on a redeployment that I flew from Greece to Germany with a stopover in Spain without ever waking up. I have many more instances of "good times" that were a result of alcohol induced poor decisions.

I was a functioning alcoholic. I never missed work. I never fucked up in a major way.I never got a DUI. Never went to a meeting.  But no doubt about it I was an alcoholic. Then I went to a birthday party at a NCO club in Southern Bavaria. I don't remember much of that night. I do remember waking up the next day covered in puke with the worst hangover I had ever experienced. The hangover lasted for a solid week. Even the sight of alcohol made me nauseous. It was then I made the decision to take a hiatus from booze. It was hard at first. All my friends were used to Drunk Mike. Sober Mike confused them.I had to quit chewing tobacco as well, as that made me crave a beer. But as time stretched from one year to two and into three my situation changed. New friends never knew drunk Mike. Old friends accepted the fact I no longer drank and quit asking me to enjoy a beer with them. Time marched on and I kept on my hiatus.

I won't say things are perfect. Alcohol is very much a part of the culture of guns,manliness,cops, emergency medicine and military that I hang with. I often feel out of place or like the fifth wheel at social gatherings. Mostly I choose not to go when invited just to head off the awkwardness. I sometimes still wander down the beer aisle wondering " if just one Hefe Weizen" would be ok. Make no mistake I didn't quit drinking because I didn't like it, I quit because I was too good at it. But inevitably I decide to "wait until next time." So I will continue my hiatus. I won't ever say I quit because if given the opportunity on my deathbed I am having a dang beer.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Captain Clay Higgins

I was first introduced to the man they call the "Cajun John Wayne" when I was perusing Facebook and saw one of his videos shared on my feed. I clicked on the link and saw a tough,STRAC looking law officer giving some real talk to the thieves that had vandalized a church. I did some research and discovered this officer was named Clay Higgins and he was a Captain on the Saint Landry Parish Louisiana Sheriff's Department. I loved his no bullshit approach to law enforcement and his videos broadcast on the local Crimestoppers segments.









But it was this video that would become the undoing of Captain Higgins




The ACLU complained that this video "intimidated" the alleged gang members. Family members believed it put them in danger. The furor that was ignited caused the Sheriff to instruct Captain Higgins to tone down the rhetoric on his CrimeStoppers segments. Captian Higgins felt he could not follow these orders in good conscious and today he resigned from the Sheriff's Department.



It is a crying shame that those that are weak are allowed to drag down the warriors in this nation. This episode reminds me of what happened to George Patton during WWII. It also reminds me of the character played by Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men"



We need more men like Clay Higgins. Dedicated professional men who have dedicated their life in the service of others and the combating of evil. We have let him down.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hell House Marine assaulted

Recently one of the 3 Marnes in the iconic "Hell House" photo from the 2nd battle of Fallujah was assaulted outside a McDonald's in our nations capital. So much is wrong with that I can't even list everything. Remember friends stay aware, avoid places where things may happen,continue to train. I hope this young devil dog recovers fully.


Monday, February 15, 2016

My Top 5 Doctor Who Episodes

So the announcement was made recently that there would be no new Doctor Who episodes until 2017!!! As much of an Anglophile as I am the way the BBC drags out the series irritates me. I have been watching Doctor Who since I was about 7 and first saw it on Iowa Public Television. It is a mainstay although I have missed it for long periods when I was overseas etc.. Any way in no particular order here are my favorite episodes. The episodes that made me go "Holy Crap did you see that!!"

1. The Unearthly Child-  Season 1 Episode 1: This is where it all started. I never actually saw this episode until Netflix became a thing but nevertheless it belongs on the list.



2. The Mind Robber- Season 6 Serial 2- The Second Doctor is whisked to a world of pure fantasy. This serial was all about books. One of my favorite subjects. The departure into the world of fantasy was unique for the Doctor.




3. Terror of the Autons-  Season 8 Episode 1 : The third Doctor who also happens to be my favorite Doctor. He was very campy utilizing his Martian Judo and such. Also the Master makes his appearance as the Doctor's arch enemy. The Moriarty to his Holmes



4. Genesis of the Daleks  Season 12 Serial 4- The 4th Doctor goes back to where the Daleks began and meets the evil Davros. Ultimately he has a morale dilemma. He has the opportunity to stop the Daleks from ever existing but should he? Really tied together all the questions about the Daleks.



5. Heaven Sent- Season 9 (New Series) Episode 12- This is a very new episode however the sheer magnitude of the Doctor escaping a prison after breaking through a solid azbatanium mountain for thousands of years was inspiring. I really enjoyed it.




As you can see I mostly like the Classic Who although I think the Capaldi version in the current incarnation is very good as well. Mostly because I see it as a throwback.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Why are Legends Legends?

This past weekend Gordy Ainsleigh showed why legends are legends. But lets set the stage. In 1974 Gordy decided he would attempt to finish a 100 mile trail race that had previously only been attempted by horses. Just to prove it could be done. This race became the Western States 100 . Fast forward to this year. Western States has become iconic in trail racing. It is the oldest 100 mile trail race in the United States and thousands try to qualify for one of the few spots on a yearly basis. Gordy has continued to run the race however in 2013 the Western States Board voted that Gordy would have to qualify like everyone else to participate. In 2015 the qualification standards were raised  in response to the popularity of the race.

There was a good chance that the founder of the race would not be able to participate. Many in the trail and ultra community howled and beat the drums suggesting to the board that Gordy should have a lifetime exemption. However Gordy would have none of it. He respected the decision and played by the rules. He wanted no special dispensation. His thought was if he couldn't qualify he didn't deserve to take a spot from a more deserving runner. And this past weekend he qualified at the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler in 28:31:57. At the age of 68 he ran the entire race in a skate boarding helmet for safety due to a previous concussion. Legends are legends because they do legendary shit!!

Image result for rocky raccoon 100 ainsleigh video

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hey Army Guy-Nobody Cares!!!!

So the other day a new hire at my business says he wants to talk to me. I said sure and he sat down in my office. He then regaled me with his many years of military experience (6 years). His desire that our employees should be better trained ( I agree but unfortunately clients pay the bills so they get what they pay for.) His thoughts that he should become an instructor for the company ( I asked for his bonafides and he had none other than he almost went to Special Forces selection and he was a combat lifesaver.) I discussed the reality of the business world with him and sent him on his way with some encouragement, to put his nose to the grindstone and good things would happen. Good initiative poor execution on his part.

After he left I reflected on the undeniable fact that I have learned in my 11 years of post military "retirement." That fact being NOBODY CARES! You could be the most ass kicking operator with multiple combat tours and awards out your ying yang but without the civilian street cred nobody cares.  Civilians don't understand military jobs or responsibilities. I have been leading and managing individuals since I was 19 years old but the first 22 years I had no paper trail to back it up. Anyone can say they have "leadership experience." You need to start from the ground up and work your way into acceptance. For anything but an entry level job you need training and experience. No one is going to hire you off the street to manage 300 employees if all you have done prior is be a squad leader.

You need to better yourself. Through education and training you need to make yourself more marketable. There are thousands of former military out there with the same experiences as you. Just because you went to Iraq and busted some caps doesn't mean I am going to start you off at $20 per hour. Get some training, show up on time and work hard.

Don't assume that civilians don't know anything. They have all done the job longer than you. Shut up an learn something. No one likes the know it all. Be diligent and thorough in your work.

Everyone likes to say thank you for your service but when it comes to investing money, business owners are going to go with the solid performers regardless of background. Honestly I have had mixed success with former military members. Some are great and some disappoint me. Sometimes I am embarrassed to acknowledge our common bond of service.

So those former military members that are hitting the civilian workforce. Get over yourself. Thanks for your service, now get to work.




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Annual Goals

So I read an article on irunfar.com about annual goal setting. I thought it would be good to put down my goals for 2016 on paper (metaphorically speaking) on purpose and see how I stack up at the end of the year.

Short Term Numerical Goals
1.Weigh 175 on Jun 1
2. Run/hike and average of 30 miles per week through Jun 1
3. Average 2 cross training sessions per week through Jun 1

Long Term Numerical Goals
1. Run/Hike 2016 miles for the year
2. Total 2500 miles for the year total movement
3. Participate in at least 1 race a month for the year

Short Term General Goals
1. Become a better Paramedic
2. Become a better Instructor
3. Drink more water
4. Get more sleep

Long Range General Goals
1. 3 days per week strength and flexibility
2. Be patient
3. Read every day

So there ya go. Lets see what 2016 has to bring

Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 By the Numbers

Image result for 2015


2015 was the year of the gun. In 2015 I ran less but trained more and more diversely. It was a transition year that during some points were very melancholy and other times was very exciting.

Running,Biking,Hiking

Miles ran- 801 When I was lamenting about how few miles I ran this year a good friend of mine laughed and reminded me how I just ran as far as "normal" people.  The motivation wasn't there at times but I hope to get it back.

Miles biked- 209 I cross trained more this year. Most bike miles ever I think. Mostly Mountain Bike.

Other miles- 21 hiking,walking,rucking etc..

Total miles- 1031..869 miles less than last year. I need to ramp it up again

Races

I participated in 7 races this year. 13 less than last year but I took an 8 month break from racing. I didn't race on the road at all this year.

1-50K
1-Marathon
1-Adventure Race
1- Mountain Bike Race
3- Other trail races

EMS

My first full year as a Paramedic I ran over 200 calls. I was lead on about 150 of these. Ran my first code without a net as the Paramedic in charge. I expect to run more on 2016.

Shooting and Training

I became heavily involved in self defense/firearms training this year. Both taking training and giving it. I expect this to continue as I have started my own firearms training business.

Firearms Training Courses taken- 7
Contact Weapons/Defensive Tactics Courses taken-4
Instructor Credentials obtained-3
CCW classes instructed- 30

Random Numbers

Years since joining US Army-33
Years since retirement-10
Years since Ranger School-27
Years since Q course- 25
Number of jobs I have quit since retirement- 2
Number of jobs I currently have- 3
Number of Reserve LEO Departments- 2
Number of EMS Agencies-3


Thats it. 2016 is waiting