Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Remember those that have went before and those still to come. Thank you to all those that gave the ultimate sacrifice and those that still guard the gates of freedom.

Here is my Memorial Day post from last year, not much more I can say:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rockford Marathon 2011

The Rockford, IL Marathon

After running the half marathon last year, see this post and setting a personal record I decided to make this marathon one of the two I will be running this year.

I couldn't have picked a worse weekend, it was 40-50 degrees and pouring rain all day Saturday. After driving the 3 hours to Rockford, I picked up my race packet and chilled in the hotel room watching the latest episode of Doctor Who on Justin.TV with the J-Man. Boochie took a nap until it was time to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings with her significant other and his parents. We had a pleasant dinner and she went over to his house to hang out while me an J-man returned to the hotel. Me being me, I laid out all my gear for inspection and prepped for the race by drinking lots of water and eating some ibuprofen. Between the strange bed,noises, and pre-race jitters I didn't actually fall asleep until midnight. The Boochie came back and I was awake again at 0100. So prior to the race I got about 4.5 hours of sleep as the alarm was set for 0530.

We woke bright and early and packed all our gear into the car in case misfortune would happen and we didn't make it back to the hotel before the 1300 checkout window. Surprisingly all the kids got up and even Boochie's boy friend arrived on time, so we were out the door by 0600. The race was to start at 0700 and even though we had some trouble figuring out where to park, I was still on line at the porto potties for the pre-race dehydration by 0630.Weather was surprisingly similar to last year. Even though the rain had stopped it was windy,overcast and about 50 degrees.

This race had pace groups similar to the Quad Cities Marathon, and I had such a good experience last time I decided to utilize a pacer this time as well. I was using this race as a training run for a longer 50 mile run I will be doing in July so I wanted to beat my pace from the Quad Cities but not kill myself. I had run a 4:44 in the Quad Cities so I decided to go with the 4:30 pace group for this adventure. That works out to 10:18 minutes per mile over the 26.2 mile course.

A few minutes prior to race start the played the National Anthem and then the gun sounded and we were off!! As we crossed the start line I hit my Garmin Forerunner GPS and fell in behind the pacer. Her name was Val and she was from PA. Over the course of the marathon I was to find out she had run about 10 marathons and many ultramarathons. As usual the first 5 miles were pretty easy, the pace felt slow but I knew it would get harder as we went. The only bother was we were headed directly into a pretty stiff wind. So stiff I had to turn my hat backwards to keep it from blowing away. They had changed the course slightly from last year but I did recognize several of the landmarks from the previous race.

There were aid stations and/or water stops at every mile marker and most also had more porto potties. This was good as I had to utilize them every mile for the first half of the race. Approximately mile 6 we headed back towards the start line and of course now we had a tailwind which was nice. The course wound along a bike path by the river which was very scenic. I was still feeling very strong at this point which was about the 10-12 mile mark.

We emerged from the bike path to hit the city streets again. Running about another .75 miles the marathon and the half marathon courses split. We said goodbye to all the half marathoners that had been running with us as we turned left up a steep hill. At the top of the hill we took a right and crossed over our previous route and headed west back through downtown. At this point the course would cross back over itself several times and we would hit some of the same roads we had run on previously.

Miles 13-16 were pretty uneventful as I still felt good. There were 4 of us counting the pacer in our group and we were all still holding conversations although the pauses were getting longer. We had noticed and commented on the fact that the mile markers seemed slightly off from what our Garmins were reading. Several of us had them and they all showed us about .25-.30 miles ahead of the official mileage.Val apologized for any discrepancy but she reminded us she had to pace to the mile markers and could not rely on the Garmins. She mentioned maybe we would be banking some mileage for the end.

Approximately mile 18 we lost our first casualty as a lady whose name I didn't catch dropped back and started walking. A little later on about mile 20 Vas, a gentleman who said he worked in a hospital and had recently lost 40 pounds started to fade and eventually we lost him. I saw him at the end and he did finish somewhere around 5 hours. So at that point it was myself,Val the pacer and another young lady from Muncie Indiana. She was running her second marathon.

Mile 22-25 were killer as usual. I think it must be some unwritten code amongst race directors that the last miles of a marathon must be in the loneliest,most godforsaken area available. Devoid of any human contact or encouragement, we ran down a bike path through a forested park. Conversation was at a minimum and I for one was concentrating on my pace and breathing. As noted earlier the mile markers seemed to be a little off. What this did was effectively put us at a faster pace than what we had planned. Approximately mile 24 I started to fade myself. it was requiring increased effort to maintain the same pace. It was at this point I decided I needed to run my own race. I reasoned this was a training run and I could still finish under my previous time for the Quad Cities marathon. So I slowed my pace slightly into something more comfortable. The pace group slowly widened the gap until they were still in sight but out of reach.

At mile 25 some joker decided that it would be funny to put a large hill on the course. I powered up this hill with the finish line in sight and took a left to head back down the hill. It was at this point I saw Val again. She had actually slowed down as she discovered what we had suspected, which was we were ahead of our goal pace. I caught up with her and as we rounded the last curve I saw my kids piling out of our car. They were carrying a the big pink sign they had constructed which said "GO DAD GO." They got an "A" for effort but I told them they needed a little more practice as a support crew. They tried to keep up with us but Boochie stopped because she was laughing so hard .Val and myself ran across the finish line together in 4 hours 29 minutes and 50 seconds.

All in all this marathon was a good time and a success. Not sure I will do it again next year as I want to try some different events. But you never know it might be a yearly event. Training for my Ultra starts tomorrow!!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


One of Special Forces core missions is Foreign Internal Defense. FID as it is commonly known is where Special Forces teams will deploy and train an allied country’s armed forces in techniques and tactics. This is what SF has done in Iraq and Afghanistan with some of the police forces or militias. Back in 1993 missions of this type where few and far between, however one opportunity lay with Joint Task Force 6. JFT-6 was headquartered out of El Paso Texas and was a counter drug task force that utilized U.S. military members to assist law enforcement in the interdiction of cross boarder drug movement. Due to the restrictions of the “Posse Comitatus” statute U.S. military could not actually apprehend the criminals but we could conduct surveillance and train law enforcement.
So in 1993 my ODA was asked to conduct an MTT (Mobile Training Team) mission in conjunction with the Colorado River Indian Tribes Police Department. CRIT was headquartered in the town of Parker, Arizona. Parker was a small town located on the CRIT reservation that sat along the California border and the Colorado River. My team flew into the Phoenix airport then moved by rental vehicle to the reservation arriving in the early evening after about a 3 hour drive. We checked into our hotel and since we would be meeting with our liaison in the morning we decided to go out and see what the town had to offer.
As it turned out not much, and we ended up at the local watering hole “The Red Pony.” We walked into the dark smoky bar and after our eyes adjusted noticed we were obviously the only non-locals in attendance. Well this never stopped any of us before so we found a table and ordered a few pitchers. After about an hour, an obviously very intoxicated gentleman who introduced himself as Tyrone sat done and started to talk to us. Tyrone was Native American as most of the patrons where, and he started to pepper us with questions about who we were and what we were doing in town. Not knowing who we were dealing with, we gave him our cover story of being travelers on the way to Los Angeles. We offered him some of our beer, an invitation he happily accepted. Eventually he became comatose and some of his friends came over and helped us get him to his car. Since he was obviously in no condition to drive one of us drove him home and dropped him off.
The next morning when we reported to the police station lo and behold but who should greet us in the squad room but Tyrone! He was a member of the police department and would be one of the officers going through our training. Due to our friendliness the night before he was our self appointed liaison and protector for the remainder of our deployment. Once he and the other members of the force found out my wife was Native American we practically became honorary tribal members.
So we started on a planned 2 week training schedule of physical training, land navigation, shooting and tactics instruction. Every day we would meet at the police station and take the officers through physical training. Our Engineer Sergeant built them a pull up bar and cemented it in out front of the squad room. Officers were required to do 10 pull ups prior to entering the building. After some land navigation instruction we conducted a day/night navigation course out in the desert. These officers enjoyed this training so much that they designated our land navigation course as one of the selection criteria for the Tribal Special Reaction Team.
We also instructed them in tactics and building entry techniques. One of their main concerns was drugs being moved up the Colorado River and stored in “safe houses” on the reservation. Over and over again we conducted mock building entries until finally it was time for the culmination event. Half our team would occupy an abandoned residence surrounded by fields. They would act as drug dealers while the rest of us would conduct surveillance and eventually raid the residence as advisors to the police force.
Myself and one of our Engineer Sergeants would accompany the surveillance element, while the other Weapons Sergeant and one of our Medical Sergeants would accompany the assault element. Our Team Sergeant was on the objective with the rest of the team acting as bad guys. Our Team leader remained at the Police HQ with the Chief of Police to act as command and control.
So the Reaction Team paged itself out and under our guidance conducted pre-mission planning and rehearsals. After a successful debrief of the Chief of Police the surveillance element infiltrated via patrol car about 2 miles from the residence. This house was surrounded  by wide open fields but there were several irrigation ditches that led to within a few hundred yards of the objective. It was one of these ditches we followed to within about 200 meters of the objective. We infiltrated just at dusk and the plan was to confirm the house was occupied and that there was reasonable suspicion to request a high risk search warrant. Our surveillance team remained on the objective throughout the night reporting back situation reports of any activity.
Our team members on the objective, that were acting as the opposing force, would randomly exit the structure carrying weapons or patrol around the property. Twice vehicles pulled up and cargo was offloaded into a shed and the residence itself. At roughly 0500 the ok was given to execute the search warrant. Our surveillance team switched responsibilities and became a support element as the assault team came down the gravel road laying down in the back of a pick up truck. We deployed the two police snipers armed with mini-14’s in positions of cover and concealment but where they had a clear field of fire. Being a training exercise these weapons were not loaded, however the assault team and the “bad guys” all had M16 and M9 pistols equipped with simunitions. Simunitions are similar to paintballs and by merely changing the receiver on individual weapons they could be utilized for live fire training with real time feedback. Oh and they hurt.
The assault pickup pulled to a stop in the driveway and the assault element piled out and stacked up on the front door of the residence. Announcing the warrant and getting no response they breached the door and entered the residence. We heard an exchange of gunfire from our over watch position and eventually saw our teammates being led from the house in custody. They were loaded in police cruisers that had arrived on scene after entry had been made and taken back to the Police HQ.
During the debrief it was determined that had this been an actual entry there would have been one officer down as a casualty and two of the “bad guys.” Good and bad points of the raid were discussed. The next day after an exchange of certificates and kudos we hit the road back to Phoenix to catch our flight to Massachusetts. It was training like this that kept our Special Forces teams sharp during the dark days of downsizing and general malaise in the military following the first Gulf War.