Sunday, April 1, 2018

GoRuck St. Patty's Day Light

GoRuck St. Patty's Day Light

On March 17, 2018 a group of us attended the GoRuck St. Patty's Day light event in Pittsburgh.  We met up and carpooled with several people so that it would be easier to park in the city, especially on St. Patty's Day.  The city is always crazy this day with the parade and tons of stuff going on in the city.  

My husband, myself and two of our friends who've done a GoRuck before went down, along with 3 new recruits.  They wanted to see what it was all about without committing to a Tough or an event that was more intense.  They picked a great event to try it out.

We parked and went to the meet up location just outside of The Point downtown.  We saw lots of new faces and lots of familiar faces as well.  It's always nice to see those familiar faces.  Here we are before we started the event, fresh and eager.  

Once the cadres showed up we lined up to have our rucks checked for necessities (license, weight, and $20 in cash).  We were also graced with the presence of some drunken St. Patty's Day kids who were enjoying the festivities downtown and happened upon us.  They asked some pretty hilarious questions, stumbled around a lot, and all in all made it pretty entertaining for all of us.

At this time we collected rolls of quarters, nickels and dimes for the service aspect, which is always part of any event.  They were put into an ammo can and carried during the event.

Our first task in true GoRuck fashion, we divided in to 2 teams and attempted to complete the ranger push-up circle.  The first team to "push-up" wins.  In a nutshell, you lay down on your stomach, hook your ankles/legs over the shoulder of the person behind you and your hands are on the ground ready for the push-up.  You create a giant circle and then a leader counts to 3 as you push up together.  Below are some photos of our hilarious attempts.  You really do get to know your teammates this way, up close and personal!

Following the ranger push-ups we moved on to another GoRuck staple, the tunnel of love.  Basically you just line up next to one another in a high plank/down dog position, while each member in your row crawls through your "tunnel".  For some, holding the position is hard, for others it's the crawling.
Next we did some lunges, squats, duck walks, crab walks, and some fireman carries.  The PT really wasn't bad this event.

We then picked up our rucks and started walking towards the North Shore, until we reached the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.  One of our own GRT's, who is a Pittsburgh policeman, told the story of a friend who lost his life in the line of duty.  We went to visit the memorial and then we were on our way again, heading towards Station Square.

Along the way we had some "casualties", log carry with a team full of women doing the work (get it ladies!), the team weight (which was a chain link shamrock), and of course extra rucks to be carried.  Our newbies stepped right up and helped with all of these.  I was super proud to see that.

Once we arrived at Station Square we realized we couldn't go any further due to a blocked road, so we had to turn around.  But first we had another challenge, it was called Last Man Standing.  Basically you just hold your ruck overhead and whoever lasted the longest won.  I didn't go great myself, my ruck slipped out of my hand (should have taken my gloves off first), but our teammates were awesome!  Our friend Jennifer was 3rd to last female standing!  Impressive!
In the end, after 14 plus minutes of holding her ruck overhead, a GIRL won and earned the record for longest time.  (across all of GoRuck)

We headed back to our ending location, (where we started) and we lined up.  The event was over.  It last 5 hours and we had rucked 8 plus miles.  We were handed our patches for our accomplishment and we sang Happy Birthday to our friend Jennifer since it was her birthday that day and it was her first event too.  All of our new GRT's did amazing and I think they had some fun too!

After the event was over it was posted on the event page that we had collected $903 for the Hannah Baldwin May Legacy fund, which will provide scholarships for kids to attend the Bell School of Irish Dance, which was Hannah's passion.  How awesome!

Friday, February 9, 2018

2018 Run Across Haiti with WORK formerly Team Tassy

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This is my journey with WORK (formerly Team Tassy), and the 2018 Run Across Haiti.

2018 Run Across Haiti with WORK formerly Team Tassy

You can see more about WORK at the link below.

The mission of WORK is to accompany families in Haiti out of poverty through good, dignified jobs.

To join the 2018 Run Across Haiti, I first had to go through an application process, which I filled out in May of 2017.  

I found out in August of 2017 that I was selected to be part of the run this year (2018).

The first step of the process was to raise $5000, to support WORK and the great work that they do in Haiti.  The goal was to raise $200,000 as a group from the 2018 Run Across Haiti.

First I would like to thank everyone that supported my fundraising campaign.

Partnership Level Donations

Charley Family SHOP 'n SAVE

Sawyer Products Inc.
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Thank you so much to everyone that donated!!

Kyle Miller, Mike Warshafsky, The Charley Family, Brandee Abel, Cathy Swope, Raymond Stiffy, Mike Leary, Pk Knor, Silvia Paesano, Doris and Lloyd Weary, Lisa Hayden, Dale and Billie Jo Gordon, Deb and Don Tack, Adina and Chris Dildine, Rita and Kevin Kibe, Kellee Wheeler, Alissa and Gerrmar Ballard, Sarah Leasher, Run Greensburg, Sarah Zwack and the Westinghouse eFIN team, Mike Wesolowski, Doug and Trudy Gardner, Natalie Tracy, Lindsay Rost, Alison and Don Rosen, Erin Shuey, Christie Gardner, Debbie Lighthart, Stephen Peterman, Jen Varvel, Jorge Carvajal, Diane and Warren Ciabattoni, Mary Jane Mason, Michelle Preston, Sam Taggart, Rachelle and Jim Raible, Ed Schmiech, Sarah and John Fullmer, Ryan and Alison Klosnick, Laura Miller, Jeanne Weber, Jennifer and Brion Morris, Mallory Momeyer, Gary Zaborowski, Luke Snyder, The Viola's, Rudy Pinal, Jonathan Summers, Jeff Herrod, Carol Black, Jeff Syster, Josh and Summer McBride, Donna Baker, Brian Zampatti, Glenda Dillman

Thank you to everyone that attended and/or donated at one of our fundraisers!

Thank you to the companies that donated product to myself and/or the run on my behalf!


All packed up and ready to go.

Packing for 2018 Run Across Haiti with WORK formerly Team Tassy

I was able to get everything into my GORUCK GR3.  Tried to keep it light but it was still a tight fit.  Should have some more room after a little bit of snacking!

Packing for 2018 Run Across Haiti with WORK formerly Team Tassy GORUCK GR3

A few days before I also used Sawyer Permethrin on some of my gear, including my mosquito net.

Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellent

This should help keep some of the bugs away.

Travel to Haiti

My trip started in Pittsburgh. My wife and daughter were kind enough to drive me to the airport.  I miss you two!!

My first flight was from Pittsburgh to Charlotte.

My second flight was from Charlotte to Miami.

I arrived in Miami around 12:30 AM.  My next flight to Cap-Haitien is not until 12:00 PM, so that leaves me with a 12-hour layover.  When booking I didn't give it much thought, but there isn't much open in an airport in the middle of the night.

I am pretty sure this is the emptiest I have ever seen a large airport.  For future reference, a 12-hour layover, not the best idea.  Especially in the middle of the night!

I was able to get a few hours of sleep on and off, lucky for me I had my pillow and mat along in my pack.

All of the runners were on the same flight to Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

Our flight left at 12:05 PM.

The view from the plane was great on the flight.

As we flew into Cap-Haitien airport we got our first look at the mountains.

After landing we all went through immigration and customs.

After everybody was through we went out to our bus that would take us to the hotel.

It may have been a little rough but that is what gives it character.  Like many things I saw throughout our trip to the hotel, they make the best of what they have, and make it work for them.

During the drive I think we got a small taste of what we will see throughout Haiti on our run.  We saw what many people in the states first think of when you mention Haiti, and there are some locations that are quite beautiful.

Traffic is a little on the crazy side.  I am not sure if there are any traffic laws or not, but basically I think you can pretty much drive where ever you want.  This should make some of the running interesting and pretty entertaining.

The road to the hotel was a little rough, but I almost couldn't believe what was at the end of it.
The hotel was amazing, and something I would have never expected.

The hotel was by a small beach, and the balcony looked out over the ocean.

The rooms were quite large and the bathroom was huge.

There was even a pool.

After getting settled in, we all ate dinner together, which was also great.  We also went over what would be going on the next day.  Time for bed and a 4 am start to day 1 of running.  I can't wait!!

Day 1
From Cap-Hatien to Plaisance 34 miles

Breakfast was at 4:00 AM, then we headed to the bus and trucks around 5:00 AM.
We were driven down to the beach where we were able to touch the ocean.

We started in the dark each day, to try to get miles in before the sun was at its hottest.

Through the town the roads can get very busy, and there doesn't seem to be many traffic laws. This is especially true for the motorcycles.  They pretty much go where ever they want.  They pass on both sides of larger vehicles so you always need to be watching them.

The roads we have ran so far vary a lot.  We ran anywhere from dirt roads, to highways that are pretty nice.
Many of the roads are under construction right now so there is lots of dust.  Once out of town it was much better, due to less traffic.

When the sun came up we started to get our first look at the mountains.  The views are amazing!

Many families were out in the river washing their clothes.  It was a great day for it.

Along the way, many young kids would join in and run with you for a little, or you would hear them yelling and waiving from their homes or the side of the road.

The views kept getting better as we started to get to the mountains.

All along the run the kids seemed very happy and they loved interacting with us.
Some times they were asking for us to give them stuff, but we didn't have much with us.  I was also amazed how many of them knew a little English.

This was the only night we didn't stay in a hotel, we slept in a school house.  We spent the night in the school houses, but at least there was a roof over our heads, because it did rain throughout the night.

We had a chance to hangout with some of the kids from the community.  There was even a few of our team who joined in, but only a few runners.

The nights sleep was a little tough though. I do know now that a single point mosquito net is not my friend.  Luckily I sprayed it with Sawyer Permethrin.  So even through I was just basically rolled up in it by the end of the night, I had no issues with mosquitoes.

Day 2
From Plaisance to D'Ennery 13 miles

The route for day 2 would take us up over a mountain.  Basically we went about 8 miles up the mountain then back down the other side.

We started again at 5 AM, and it worked out perfectly to see the sun coming up over the mountains.

Also as the sun was coming up you could see the fog lifting over the mountain.

Most of the roads were pretty rough and under construction.

As the sun rose the views were amazing.  I had no idea how beautiful they would be, this is a side of Haiti that you never see in the news in the US.

The mountain was fairly steep, so there were many switch backs to get up them.

Once again as the sun was coming out more the view just kept getting better.  You could also see the switch backs and the construction equipment.  It was strange to see such a large piece of equipment out that far in the mountains in Haiti.  Once again something I would have never expected to see.

Once again several kids ran a few miles down the mountain with us.  One was in Crocs that didn't fit and the older one was barefoot, which alone was very impressive, seeing as the road was very rocky and rough.  I could even feel the rocks through my shoes.  We were also going at a fairly quick pace which they easily kept up with.  They loved that they could see themselves in my phone.

The road also weaved down the mountain.  So you could see pretty far away from where you still needed to go, but at least it was down hill.

Once we arrived in the hotel, I was once again surprised.  It looked just like a resort in any other country, being as remote as it was, I wasn't expecting that.

They had 2 pools, and everything was amazing.

They even had a pet peacock walking around.

Day 3
From D'Ennery to Gonaives 20 miles

We started out at 5:00 AM again for todays run.

This was our first flatter run, actually a good bit of it was slightly down hill.

As the sun was rising the road improved greatly, as did the view.  I just can't say enough about the mountains in Haiti.

While running at night the roads were so good sometimes I felt like I was back home on an early morning run.

Through out the day, the vegetation could change greatly.  From a lush green field to almost a desert like environment.

At some point the roads were so nice, I could imagine seeing them in the US.  Actually they were nicer than a lot of roads I have seen in the US.  This was also the first time we saw guardrails.

We ran through a small town on the way, which was a little busier.  But the real fun begins when you start hitting some of the markets.  They get extremely busy.

I didn't take many pictures because it gets very busy, and you really need to watch what you are doing.

Most days some of the kids will run along, one ran around 2 miles with us into the finish line for the day.

Day 4
From Gonaives to Saint-Marc 36 miles

This was one of the toughest days so far, mainly due to the heat and running on the black top.  At one of the trucks we stopped at we were told the heat index was at 104 F.

As usual we started at 5 AM.  This seems to always allow us to see a great sunrise over the mountains.

The roads were once again well maintained paved roads.

We started into some more desert like climate, with cactus and almost no trees to shade us from the sun.

On our way we passed through one of the markets.  It is crazy how tight everything is and there are people everywhere. It's definitely not the easiest place to run through.

After getting through the market, we started to pass rice patty fields.  This went on for miles and miles.

After awhile of some quite warm temperature miles we finally hit a sign for Saint-Marc.

At the finish for the day there were quite a few of school children that were quite excited to get their pictures taken.  After taking about 20 pictures and letting them see every one, it was time to head to the hotel.

The view from the top of the hotel was amazing

Before dinner we were able to go back up to the roof and watch the sun set.  It was a great end to a day of hard running.

Day 5
From Saint-Marc to Giulbert (Wahoo Bay) 20 miles

It is amazing how much stuff and people they can cram into these tap taps (what they call the vehicle above).  They're basically trucks that work as taxis.  

Once again we had beautiful paved roads.

There were banana trees on both sides of the road for a part of the run.

Getting closer to the end of the run we were able to see more of the ocean.

During the run we did see a school bus that was parked very poorly.  Ha!  Actually, it looked like it was there for quite some time.  I am guessing that they just didn't have any equipment to move it.

After a few more miles we were up the final hill to finish for the day.

We stayed at Wahoo Bay Beach resort, which was awesome and right off the ocean.

Day 6
Rest Day

Today we visited Menelas, a community of 8,000 people which is across the street from a 300 acre dump where 2,000 more people live.

This is the community that WORK serves.  Before WORK started in this area the two communities would not speak.  Now the communities work together, and WORK is trying to move people out of the dump.

Now families are able to make money from the dumps by collecting bottles and selling them to facilities that chip them up and send the plastic to companies like Thread.

Thread, a sister company of WORK,  uses the chips to produce fabric for clothing.

We also visited the school that WORK is having built in the community.  The construction is being done by workers in the community.

Next we visited one of the Run Across Haiti's crew's house.  He was so proud of how he is now able to support his family.  We were able to see his home and meet his family.

Next we went to one of the local schools where we were able to go to the roof and see more of the community.

After the school we went back down into the community where members of the community gave each of the runners a pin that they helped design.

They pinned them on each of us.  The pin is island of Haiti with our route across it and there is a star that marks Menelas.

This was a great experience to meet the people and the community we were here to support.  They were the reason we are here.  This was amazing motivation for our last 2 runs.

Day 7
From Giulbert (Wahoo Bay) to Port-au-Prince 27 miles

Like every day so far we started at 5:00 AM.

This route was the same route that we drove the day before to visit Menelas.

On our way we saw quite a few kids on their way to school.  There are no public schools in Haiti, most schools are private, so it is quite expensive to send kids to school.

After we were a little over half way, we could see the ocean.

The roads were perfect with a nice lane off to the side to run in.

We did pass a large market, but it was off to the side of the highway, so it was a little easier to pass.

After running by the ocean for a few miles we headed to the finish for the day.

We finished at the Olympic Center.

You could see the tower from quite far away.  It would have felt like it took forever if we didn't already know the mileage for the day.

We hopped in the back of the trucks and were taken to the Eucalyptus Guesthouse, where we would be staying.

When I got in I tried to get some sleep as quickly as possible, because we would be starting our last day very early.

Day 8
From Port-au-Prince to Jacmel 52 miles

Because this would be our longest day, we tried to start around 12:00 AM, but didn't get started until around 1:00 AM.

The night before we were broken up into Pods, based on our finish times from the previous days.  We had to stay in our Pods for the first 20 km.  This was to stay in groups, mostly for safety.

After the first 20 km, we were able to split up.

We were able to view another beautiful sunrise.

After we were about halfway through the final day, we started our final climb up the mountain.

As we climbed into the mountains, the amazing views just kept coming.

The final mountain actually had mileage markers the entire way to Jacmel.

It always amazed me at how much they could pack onto these small trucks, and still make it up and down the mountain.

It was strange to see some of the random animals tied up along the way, but all through the mountains there were small homes hidden.

After going off to the side of the road for a rest room break, I saw this little guy.

After some more time running up the mountain and a few false summits, we were finally able to see the ocean off in the distance.  This was our final destination.

As we finally started descending down the mountain we kept seeing the ocean get closer and closer.

After passing through Jacmel, we finally made it to the ocean.  This was the end of our journey, over 200 miles through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen.

After finishing there was one final challenge, the stairs from the beach to the hotel.

Travel home from Haiti

First we took the bus back over the mountain to Port-au-Prince.

After arriving at the airport we went through customs and got through security and to our gate.

Shortly after getting through security the power went out in the airport.  This seemed to be a pretty common theme through out the country.  We saw it in most hotels we stayed at.

Then we boarded the plane and headed back to the US.  As we flew out, we got our final views of Haiti.


Haiti is a lot different than what you see in the U.S. media. Before I came down here all I heard from friends and family was, "why would you want to go there?" At first, I was looking for the challenge, and to see what Haiti was actually like. When we left the airport, the first town we went through did make me think of what you see in the media, but that opinion quickly changed as we arrived at our first hotel. My mind was changed forever when we started running. The views are amazing, beautiful, and constantly changing.

Even though some of the days the running had been tough, just taking the time to look around helped the miles pass by.

But it was not just the views it was the people, it was amazing how happy so many were with so little.  It really makes you think about your life, and how little you truly need to be happy.

If you get the chance to do the Run Across Haiti, do it.  You will be helping a great cause and it is a life changing experience.

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