Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Marathons Are Nothing

My parents have been visiting for three weeks (which explains the lack of posts). Yesterday, for their last day in San Diego we went to the beach in front of the Hotel Del Coronado. Coronado Island is home one of the world's great beaches and of the Navy SEALs.

The water was a bit too cold to swim, but we walked along the shore and got our feet wet. Then we sprawled out on the beach blanket and watched military aircraft do some practice runs - touch-and-go's, short landings, the whole works. It was a nifty impromptu air show of small planes, a Gulfstream jet, a Hornet, and two different helicopters. Very cool, indeed.

As we were combing the beach for sand dollars we noticed a whole slew of guys in rafts. We ambled over to find 15 rafts of Navy SEAL trainees doing some sort of training exercise. I'm not sure what they were doing, but it looked arduous. Three rafts were selected out of the pack to race to shore. The winning crew would get out and heave their raft over some rocky shoreline. If the did something wrong and they'd get punishment of rolling in mucky water then in sand. Then they'd do push ups, squat thrusts and jumping jacks until the instructor got bored. Then it was back in the raft for another round. One guy had a ripped pants leg from his calf to his thigh. I can pretty much guarantee that it wasn't just he pant leg that ripped but his leg flesh too. He was rolling in sand and sea water without complaint.

The Navy sent a Public Relations Officer along with the training crew. It makes sense since this is a public beach and all. Poor guy had to spend 30 minutes answering my questions. I get my money's worth for my tax dollar.
  • How many men make it through the SEALs program? About 70%. Nearly all of the drop outs (90%) are voluntary; the remainder are medical or performance.
  • Do SEALs get paid more than Navy personnel of similar rank? Yes, mostly in the form of bonuses.
  • What is the usable life of a Navy SEAL? Some stay in the SEALs for 30 years, but they aren't the guy kicking in the door. They are planning missions.
  • So do those old SEALs get fat and unfit? No, all SEALs can pass the same physical standards.
  • How long is the training? About a year, but it can vary.
  • Are they done for today after this exercise? No, they'll run back to the base and train for another few hours at least.
  • How do the rafts get back to the base? They'll carry them as they run, balanced over their heads.
  • How long have these guys been in training? Less than three weeks. They aren't receiving any bonus pay yet, because they haven't hit the first milestone.
Sheet! These kids were doing this exhausting workout for no additional pay, a 30% chance of success and they'd have to do this another year.

I'll never complain on mile 20 of a marathon again.

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