The Mind Game that Kicked My Ass.
The Challenge I’ll Never Take.
What No One Tells You about GORUCK.
Fu*k Ruck: My Personal Hell.
Hell’s Field Day.
Pick a headline….I just can’t decide on the best one.
I’m such a lightweight.
This past weekend, I participated in my first–and maybe last–GORUCK challenge. Scratch that, it wasn’t even a “challenge” by ruckers’ definitions, it was actually called a “Light.” The Go-Ruck Light, to be exact. It’s kind of like beer. A light beer gives you a taste of the good stuff, but you don’t quite get the full thrill of a pale ale or a crisp cider. Here I am thinkin’ I’m a big shot, and I got my ass handed to me by a freakin’ Coors Light.
I was deceived.
If you don’t know what the GORUCK events are about, visit the website. Read all about it. KNOW what you’re getting into and don’t just sign up for the event because you have a coupon and everyone on the website looks like they’re having a freakin’ blast. In a nutshell, a GORUCK is like being in the military for a day. Or two or three or four. You show up for your “Light,” your “Challenge,” your “Heavy,” your “Selection” …hell, you can even do a Firearms Day or a Scavenger Hunt, or four different types of 4-Day Challenges. Four freakin’ days!? And I could hardly last four hours?!? Anyway, you show up for your event, and it’s like you’re immediately in a very serious military-style bootcamp. What I thought was going to be a 5 hour hike through the mountains with my rucksack full of bricks (mandatory, by the way) and a few pushups here and burpees there, turned out to be an afternoon of sheer hell.
I’m also a whiny, pouting, crybaby.
I learned about 30 minutes into the event that I absolutely HATE being told what to do. I really can’t state this enough. Erik laughed at me later when I told him my epiphany, “I could have told you that a looong time ago,” he chuckled. Form a tunnel, sing Elton John, left foot move, get your fuckin’ knees off the ground (that was to me), the lyrics are Ba-Dum! You’ll sing it til you get it right! Submerge your head under water! I said UNDER WATER! (again, to me) and stick your right hand between the legs of the person in front of you–all of which really happened, including forming a human “heart and arrow” complete with a random guy’s face planted in my crotch for five minutes. Enter Steph’s epiphany.
The good, the bad, and the very ugly.
Let’s start with the ugly: me. I had the WORST attitude from the start. It’s not that I went into it with a bad attitude, it’s just that the first hour–the “this is where they try and break you; you’ll love it by the end,” turned me into the little bitch that everyone else hated for the day. Ok, it was funny when we were all holding hands underneath our own crotches and walking in our synchronized cadenced of “Ba-Dum.” But what wasn’t funny–to me–was the “Human Tunnel of Love” that had not just my weight, but about 30 pounds of rucksack weight as well, pushing down on my already hurt shoulders. I thought, going in, that I’d be able to say, “Hey, I’ve got sprained ligaments in my shoulders–I might not be able to do shoulder stuff…” but that didn’t happen. The human tunnel…in which we held for what seemed like at least 30 minutes, had me in tears. I almost walked away. Several times. I mean, come on. Why was everything and everyone so freakin’ serious? Why couldn’t my ruck touch the ground? Why couldn’t the HUGE water containers we carried rest on the ground when needed? Why couldn’t I rest my poor shoulders when they had me in TEARS? Can you hear me whining?
I remember looking at my friend Terri, several times, and wondering why the hell she liked this. She was having a BLAST, even when getting kicked in the temple with a boot–and for the record–she has actually completed one of the toughest GORUCK challenges done in Virginia. Our “Light” started around 1pm and lasted until 6-ish. Her challenge was in February and it started at 1am, in the snow, and lasted 12-ish hours. She is probably the best definition of “strength” that I know. I actually feel bad that I gave her so much hell…I HATE this! I screamed at her. She put up with my bitching and whining and complaining all day. She was supportive–and so was everyone else there. Even the cadres tried to make me smile. But I still bitched all the live-long day. I could be hiking with Erik and the dogs instead of this sh*t, or I’m missing Myra’s bachelorette party for this! Or even I’m fu*king 32 years old and this jackass thinks he can tell me what to do?! I’m pretty sure everyone hated me.
Massanutten was definitely the hardest of the Lights but also the most fun. My bruises have bruises, and if I’m in an accident now I expect the police would suspect my husband of having abused me. Jean Norum
Did you catch that she called this “the most fun”?! 😉
On to the Good and Bad:
Looking back, was this experience really all that bad? I mean, I did get a killer back workout and one of my current goals is to make my back stronger. I got to spend a day in the sun, and I got a pretty decent workout. I even splurged for dinner and had pizza and ice cream! I got through the day and I got a crazy, story-telling experience. It might have seemed beyond “bad” during the event, but I learned a lot about myself by the time it was over: I hate being yelled at, being told what to do, and acting submissively. I’m also extremely mentally weak. Sigh.
Here’s what we did to bring myself to such realizations:
1. We sprinted to an open field, joined hands, and fumbled around in circles to the out-of-tune “Ba-Dum” march.
2. We made a human tunnel in which we spent what seemed like 30 minutes in a down-dog yoga position (with my ruck falling over my head) while guys twice my size crawled under me and beat my shoulders to death with their rucksacks.
3. The human tunnel turned into the shape of a human heart (see above pic)–still hands and feet only–knees not allowed to touch ground, and the group was forced to sing Elton’s John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” It sounds funny. It was humiliating.
“My favorite part? Quite possibly feeling comfortable enough and crazy enough to sing so loudly in public when no one else stepped forward in response to Jason’s request for someone to sing. There was even videotape running!” Jean
4. The human heart turned to a “heart with arrow” from push-up position. Hands only touched the ground…my legs were on the shoulders of the guy behind me–hence his face and my crotch became quite acquainted. Thank goodness Terri was in front of me. By this time, I was so tired–already–I just laid my head on her thigh. She, unfortunately, was busy getting kicked in the temple. I wish I had a picture of this foolishness.
5. Inverted Wall Climb.
6. Higher Wall Climb.
7. Bear crawls and forced submersions through streams…tunnels…streams…tunnels…
8. Long hike…with “casualties.” I got to play dead and was carried several hundred yards. I was also told that I was “what, 100 pounds?” Love that guy.
9. Telephone pole carry. For what seemed to be HOURS. Dear Lord, thank you for making me only 5 feet tall. There’s no way I could have contributed to the pole carry, which in my opinion, seemed like the absolute WORST thing I’ve ever witnessed. Everyone came off complaining of shoulder pain. NO one got through that feeling well.
10. The river pass through…where the water was so cold it took my breath away and the bottom so sludge-filled that my feet sank at least four inches with every step. And it was deep…talk about a scary feeling.
11. The pull-up contest…with wet rucks.
12. The descent down the mountain–with the telephone pole still.
13. The final ascent up the steepest part of the mountain/ski slope–side by side–line by line with one another–and a 30 minute time cap.
My most favorite part: rucking up a black diamond slope and catching that view. Addison Pumphrey
My favorite part: the climb. Worst part: the climb. I love GORUCK because as much as I was sucking at life on that climb, those who were around me kept cheering me on and pushing me up the slope. Frances Rose
14. The finish.
15. Oh, wait, we have to walk back down the mountain to find our cars? Sweet. :/
I’ve never been so excited to finish something in my life.
If you are new you find out you have limits and that you can break them, and if you are a Vet to GORUCK you are still challenged; either way you walk away feeling like you accomplished something personally and as a team. Francis Wehberg
In the end, I’ll admit, I was smiling more by the finish…but maybe because it was the FINISH. What seemed to be toughest for most people–the climb UP the ski slope–was the best part of my day (besides rockin’ out a couple pull-ups of course). These quads are made for hill climbs and I actually enjoyed the physical push to the top. That’s my game. The mental challenge to push myself through pain? I guess I need to work on that. In the course of five hours, four hours were more mental than physical and I never expected that–not once. Am I really that mentally weak? After this weekend, yeah. I’m a big freakin’ baby.
I love GORUCK because of the challenge of going beyond my comfort zone–well beyond it at times. It offers a physical and mental challenge that I have not found in any other activity. Jean Norum
I hated about 90% of this experience. I still don’t think I would ever do an actual GORUCK challenge. I still can’t believe I just did the “Light.” It really surprises me that so many people enjoy this. Why was everyone around me in complete pain, yet smiling and singing “Don’t Stop Believing” in complete unison?!
Mentally Misunderstood: What GORUCK really is.
During the event you find yourself saying “OMG, I don’t want to do another one. No way I’m showing up to 4th of July GRC,” but then you finish, earn your patch, and you’re ready for the next one despite all the bruises, scrapes, and soreness. Frances Rose
GORUCK events are founded upon the wartime experiences of each of its cadre (a key group of military personnel able to establish and train a new unit) and each cadre who leads an event have all served in Special Operations and are all decorated Combat Vets. The task of a GORUCK is to teach others about teamwork, leadership, and communication (goruck.com).
As much as I tried to wrap my head around why these people were lovin’ life, I just simply did not get it. Maybe I’m not meant to understand camaraderie. Maybe I never appreciated the military as much as I do now. Maybe I just misunderstood what I was getting into. I’m a crossfitting, bodybuilding, obstacle-course racing, eating fun splurge foods kind of person. Maybe I don’t believe life should be all that serious? I wanted to have fun! Submitting to someone’s demands, over and over, and someone whom I don’t even know? I am WAY too alpha for that nonsense. But that’s just me. I repeat, that’s just me. And by the look of things on Saturday, I’m a very small percentage of the “I don’t get this” population. Because while I didn’t really see myself fitting in with this community, what I did see among those who did, was not too short of amazing:
I love GOUCK because it pushes yourself beyond where you thought you could go. Addison Pumphrey
I think Keith sums it up best:
I love GORUCK, simply for the since of accomplishment like no other.. It can’t be compared to anything with the way you feel when you get that patch… And for all of you crazy rucktards!! I love this silly pain loving group!! What a family. Keith Brown
“Everyone Gave More.”
“My favorite part was watching everyone start as individuals and become one as a team. And my least favorite part was having to say goodbye to an awesome group of people at the end of the day.” Aaron Carter
Aaron might as well be talking to me. At the end of the day, as much as I hated absolutely everything, I was pretty proud that I stuck it out to the end. I was beyond thrilled that I helped contribute to our team effort pull-ups. I was ready to push anyone who needed an extra “come on, you can do it,” to the top of the mountain. I started the day a whiny brat, but I finished feeling accomplished. I might have told Terri, “these military people are crazy,” but it takes a little crazy to do what we did just for fun. God bless our military because it takes a very special kind of person to withstand–day after day after day–of physical and mental challenges. I still think I might crack under serious mental pressure, but it makes me appreciate those who don’t, all the more.
Happy Independence Day all you crazy ruckers, and especially all those who are or have served this amazing country. Thanks for taking me in for the afternoon, for putting up with my complaints, and for showing me what it takes to be the type of person who embodies honor, truth, loyalty, and courage.
Me too, Chuck. 100%.