Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 821: Reflections on Redemption // Goruck Heavy 030

Cadre John aka Big Daddy introducing us to what would be "different than any other event you could ever do."
Photo credit: Jen R.

I have waited over six months to share my perspective on Goruck Heavy class 030. Although I hope these thoughts shed light on the event itself, I know there are already many words being strung together to more adequately detail the experience that 42 of us shared over 26.5 hours and 45+ miles in NYC this past weekend. The report I will offer you came at the cost of Heavy 019 back on October 4, 2013 and I will purposely leave out many details that you can only appreciate by experiencing them firsthand. I can honestly say that I could not have made it through Heavy 030 without the lessons I learned by my voluntary withdrawal at Heavy 019.

If you got a chance to read my thoughts on Heavy 019 you know that I was both physically and mentally unprepared for the event. I didn't dress appropriately, didn't pack right and was not the best teammate I could be. I remembered everything about that class and began training for Heavy 030 almost as soon as I could walk again, making sure that along with heavier rucks I was reading up and constantly trying to cultivate more mental toughness and a team-first attitude. I devoured every AAR related to Heavy before and after the new SOP was formalized and told myself that the desire to quit would never be entertained. On December 31,2013 I even  made the conscious decision to sign up for Selection to give me something greater to train for, knowing in the back of my mind that Selection was probably not something I really wanted to do. I just needed to put Heavy in the right perspective. It's not the hardest challenge I could be facing, so why place the event on some form of pedestal that seemed out of reach? 

By the time roll call started on the Friday evening of April 4th, the winds were howling and the rain was coming down on the pier at Coney Island and 59 people were locked in arms, listening to the cadre introduce themselves. I looked around and tried to gauge as many faces as I could see and find people who were already shivering and could use a smile or a fist pump. 

After a quick inspection of our rucks we were off and running to the surf to begin our push-ups and sit-ups. How many did I knock out in two minutes? It doesn't matter. We were each told to perform to the best of our individual ability for two minutes. Someone in our facebook training page suggested we complete 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups every day leading up to Heavy and I'm content with how close I came to what I did throughout my training, but no one took record of our results. It was just a taste of what would happen at Selection. The 12-mile ruck at pace is what followed. Initially I stayed close to the flags and tried to keep pace until I realized some of my friends were not moving as quickly so I slowed down and tried to start conversations, embrace the new pain of rucking on sand, and nurture relationships that were founded through overcoming similar obstacles. I set my eyes on at least five individuals who I would invest the most time talking to throughout those lonely 12 miles. I checked in on them, stopped when they needed to, and asked them to listen to me talk on and on about my family. Unfortunately we were informed that we did not meet the time hack for the 12 miles and were disciplined for it and then instructed to complete another 12 miles. It was then that I realized that although the first part of Heavy was a taste of Selection, it was also the ticket to being part of the team element of Heavy. Registration fees did not entitle me to a roster spot on Heavy 030. 

Redemption always comes at a cost. 

The cost included many early morning or late night training sessions on an empty stomach without any stimulant. The cost included testing gear during warm days, cold nights, rain storms and snow. The cost included reading a variety of books that ranged from mental toughness to sermons. The cost included changing up my diet, experimenting with my eating habits and developing an appreciation for being hydrated. The cost included asking colleagues how I could be a better teammate at work. The cost included time away from loved ones who I could not return to empty-handed. 

Heavy 030 would continue for at least another 17 hours and I was finally ready to redeem myself.

Buddy carries near the end point. Photo credit: Deanna T.

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