Saturday, August 31, 2013

GORUCK Challenge!

I LOVE challenges that stretch me beyond my known limits. Since 2007, I've found myself involved in a rather eclectic mix of activities... everything from the 2007 AidsRide, 2009 High Desert 50k, 2011 USAW Pan American Masters, 2013 R2R Grand Canyon and now last weekend's GORUCK Challenge. Each one of these grand adventures have helped shape my character as both an athlete and adult woman.  I can't hardly express just how important they have been in creating my destiny, but maybe that's a post for another day.

Tonight, I'll just share about GORUCK.  Let's open with it's not your typical fitness event.  In fact, every single one of the girlfriends I told about it were positive I had gone insane.  I guess I either didn't explain it properly or they just couldn't see past the dirt and discomfort to all the benefits of the event.

I knew I wanted to do a GORUCK as soon as Eric and Elise shared a few stories after their GORUCK Challenge.  I surfed the website and saw GORUCK Lite (6-8 hours), but it didn't attract me... too easy. (Eric has led our community on too many leadership challenges for me to be too easily intimidated.) The thing was I didn't think I could thrive in a Challenge (12-14 hours), I just knew I wanted the experience.  So, I threw out a post on Facebook to see if I could get a battle buddy and within hours Beth Jensen said she wanted to do it too.  I'm really glad she did too!  She was the only person among all of our friends and community who chimed in.  I like to think I would have had the courage to sign up alone if she hadn't joined, but I'm so very glad to have missed that test and been able to share the experience with her.  Beth was the BEST imaginable companion for this adventure... fearless, strong and unflappable. Her constant calm confidence kept us both firmly grounded during all the months and hours leading up to Challenge.

We chose a GORUCK Challenge three months out, in San Luis Obispo.  We figured SLO would give us the best scenery and great opportunities to roll around in the surf and sand.  After we registered, we read and reread everything we needed to know, then went out backpack shopping.   All GORUCK events require that participants wear weighted down rucksacks (another name for backpacks- hence the name "Go Ruck".)

Our challenge required we carry 4 bricks totaling 20 pounds.

Doesn't sound like a big deal, but then add 3-liters of water, plus the weight of the pack, and a few snacks and emergency items.  I never weighed it, so who knows what the actual weight was, I'll just say it felt ridiculously heavy!  At least that was the case during all my weekend training hikes.  In fact, the more I trained the more trepidation I had about my success.  I kept having these visions of being in the surf doing flutter kicks and getting drown in the waves because I couldn't move in a soaked pack.  Ah, the mind can create some pretty scary scenarios!  The reality?  We never even went to the beach, nor submerged in any body of water.  It's a good thing I didn't let my irrational fear demon (you know the little guy tattooed on my left forearm?) win because he was wrong and if I'd have listened, I'd have missed out of an amazing growth experience.

So, fast forward to G-Day.  Beth and I drove up early afternoon, opting out of meeting the rest of the team for beer and burgers beforehand, preferring to just rest and build up our energy reserves for the night.  Our GORUCK launched at 9pm, which meant we would be out all night.  In hindsight that was both good and bad, bad because we missed an opportunity to meet and greet 15 guys and 4 other gals.  Good because we didn't puke during the first session of "Good Livin" like some of those who'd been partying early.

I could go on forever about all the different experienced we shared.  Sure some of the stories are favorites, like watching the fog roll in as we're climbing Madonna Mountain and accomplishing the impossible when we moved that enormous power pole a good half mile.

Others are super humbling like when I put my foot so deep in my mouth with Cadre John that we all paid the price at the top of Madonna Mountain...  The Cadre are a funny breed... as we all know from our own fearless leader, sometimes they're gentle and sometimes they're brutal.  So Beware When Poking Lions!

Then there's the completely ludicrous, like Kellie somehow being passed this beast and no one wanting to take it off my hands.  Are you kidding me???!

Some of the stories are super funny, like my almost getting us all blasted during my leadership turn because I was too excited to find my inside voice in a residential district, (instead we missed our time hack, so I got to lead us to flutterkick hell anyway, lol)

or getting hosed and cookie doughed in a sand box.

There were SO MANY remarkable memories that it's impossible to share them all.  What I will say is that the whole night was everything I had expected and yet nothing at all like I had expected.

I went in to it thinking I would be the oldest and slowest, the weakest link.  I was ready for the night's lesson to be one of humility and teamwork.  What I found was that as soon as we started, my energy spiked and my pack instantly lightened... and it stayed light the entire night, making it much easier to maneuver up and down off the ground than I would have thought possible.  Beth and I were both right in the middle of the pack, the entire night... except she's a much stronger leader and got us all through some sticky teamwork challenges that the assigned leaders were failing... like setting cadence to lift that bloody pole.  Shhh... don't tell but that's also her with the honor of carving Class 742 on our finally resting seat.

There were some moments when I was weaker than most of the guys, like on the freaking weighted push-ups and moments when I was stronger than some like hiking up that endless mountain.  We ALL had our moments of strength and weakness and I was actually able to thrive throughout the entire event.  That was one of my greatest lessons of the event.  To finally STOP underestimating and selling myself short.

So, now I look back to last weekend with a new set of eyes and accept the fact that I chose a goal I wanted bad enough to do what it took to accomplish it.  That meant dialing in my food, sleep, training, and culminated with asking Eric's help to get back on the Arrogant Bastards.  That extra boost of his eagle eye on my performance, nutrition and stressors, helped elevate my fitness foundation to the place of what I consider complete and total success.

Oh, and if that's not enough good stuff to soak in... here's a real kicker... you know how I've been struggling with reducing my body fat for years right?  Well, Eric weighed and pinched me after the event to gauge just how much muscle I had lost through such a long endurance event and not only did I NOT lose any muscle, in the last two weeks I have actually gained over a pound of lean muscle tissue AND my body fat percentage is now (drum roll please...)
29.5%  I am under 30% for the first time since 2008!

Obviously, I'm staying the course and continuing to do exactly what Coach says because, on October 12th... I will again be pushed to the limit to get back on to the Arrogant Bastards, hopefully just in the nick of time to train for The Bastard 50k in December!

Oh, by the way... I have been vetoed on all possibility of forming a custom GORUCK event here at home, so if you want the time of your life, grab a battle buddy and go make it happen on your own!  If you time it right, you just may find me out there with you... because I definitely see another Challenge in my future and am already beginning to wrap my head around the possibility of dare I say it... GORUCK Heavy.

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