Let me start off by saying this was easily the most humbling experience of my life. I am no stranger to an endurance challenge. To date I have done 20 Tough Mudders, 7 Goruck Challenges (Class 080, 112, 131, 184, 213, 274, 352), the color run, and registered for the NYC Marathon. My training for all of these events has consistently been the same: Roller hockey once or twice a week and beer regularly. Occasionally I’ll go for a run, but people who know me can assure you, my workout regimen sucks. I have thankfully been blessed with a body that heals quickly and obeys my crazy-ass brain.
Initially I did not care for Goruck Heavy. Something about it just did not appeal to me. After seeing all of the pics and updates of 001, however, made me realize I had to do one. Reading Cadre Dan’s suggestion to do a Heavy before a Selection solidified this. Unfortunately, there were no local Heavy’s available before the Selection I was registered for, Boston 8/8/13. Friday night, TeamFARM was registered to do SERE Urban in NYC. I was never all that interested in doing one, but the idea of fucking around with the FARM enticed me to register. Coordinating plans the day before (as I am wont to do), Nicken suggested that he would see off Heavy Class 002. This was the first I had realized GRC Heavy was even in NYC. “Well shit, I want to do a Heavy”, but I couldn’t back out of SERE. It was a team event, and I had to stick with my team. Friday morning brought a ton of snow, and as it turned out, Horse, Lion, and Eagle were now unable to make the trip from Boston, decision being made at noon. Around 2:00pm is when it occurred to me, I can now do Heavy. But can I get my work done, pack, eat, and make it into the city by 8:00pm? Ran the idea by the girlfriend, she confirmed that it was an absolutely horrible idea, that I would get hurt, but as long as I kept my promise to do the GRC Boston Saint Paddy’s Day Edition with her next week, she fully supported (she is that awesome). 5:00pm hit, and yes, I was good to go. Ran home (20 minutes), packed, called in an order to the diner, and was on the road by 6:15pm. Ate along the way, parked in Jersey City, and took the Path in. Right here was when second thoughts really started to hit. The Path was delayed, and I was cutting it close. I had 15 minutes to get to the start point (Freedom Tower), and I was still in NJ. I could turn away right now, and no one would even know. Perhaps it would be smarter to wait, train, prep, etc. Nope. My brain responded the way it typically does, “fuck it, why not?” The path finally showed up, and I was en route. I showed up at 8:05pm (thanks Lou for waiting), asked Lou to hold my phone, tied my boots, and we were off. (quick note, I had overnighted the boots on Wednesday to use them during SERE, best $160 I have ever spent).
Lou starts off by saying “we’re breaking records tonight; I want to go 50 miles”. Andrew Rice posted this pic:
Cardinal commented on it “Hahaha there’s Uni (me) immediately regretting his decision. God speed 002.”. This was 100% accurate. Too late now, I’m balls deep and on a mission to finish. First mission, get to the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, you have 15 minutes. No problem, we tore that shit up. “See that giant fucking log? Start carrying it till I decide it’s time to stop.” It took 14 of us to lift and carry that fucker. And we did work. I have no idea how far we carried it, but it was far. We finished off with log PT as is tradition.
Next mission? Find a beach on Long Island. During this trek was when 4 of us dropped. Now down to 11. We hit a gas station and Lou asks, “we’re still a ways out; we can continue, or we can head back to Manhattan” . Fuck that, we want to set some records, we’re going to keep going. Sun comes up, and we eventually reach a beach, roughly 25 miles from the start point (we got lost). Lou makes us all lay down on the beach, face in the sand, and tells us “I’d get a combat nap in if I were you” and makes us sit there until all of us inevitably fell asleep.
I have no idea how long we were there for, but that had to have been the roughest awakening I have ever experienced “UP UP UP! Everyone get up and run over to the rocks over there!” Welcome to the smoke session. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we completely forgot we were even in a challenge. Oof.
Here’s where reality set in. I had been focusing on my knee the entire challenge, something about an IT band in my knee; I have no idea, my girlfriend the PT said it was fucked up and that I’d probably make it worse. Anyway, it was bothering me the entire challenge. We’re now 20+ miles away from the start point, and it’s time to head back. 10 miles into the return trip, I thought to myself “nothing short of another log carry is going to make me quit at this point, I fucking got this”. I made it about 13 miles (I think) when it really became an issue. Every step was now a stabbing pain in my knee. I had also managed to adjust my posture to compensate for my knee, and now my hip flexor was also stretched too far and killing me every step. At this point, I knew that if I continued rucking, there would be serious damage done to my knee. I went another mile, limping the entire way, and realized I had reached my limit. Demons got the best of me, but I did not want to quit. So I called the TL (team leader) over and told him that I either needed to give up my ruck for a bit and relax, or I was quitting right then and there. This was the first time, in any challenge, that I have had to give up my ruck. I carried someone else’s ruck to the finish of my first challenge (have I mentioned it contained 6 bricks per the Goruck packing list?) I was literally in tears. I had to swallow my pride, and make this move, or I would never make it. I took my ruck back after about 15 minutes, and realized that I couldn’t carry it at all. I actually told the TL (John) “I’m quitting here, I’m done”. This has never happened to me in a challenge. His response? “fuck that, we’re so close, you’re finishing with us”. The second part was true, but the first was far from it. We still had 5-6 hours to go, that seemed to stretch FOREVER. My team, which I am honored to call my team, carried my ruck for me the entire remainder of our lovely trip. Reaching the Brooklyn Bridge seemed like it would never happen. We were moving at a pace of 1.25 mph, and the end just felt unreachable. Every 15 minutes that went by made me revisit the idea of quitting. I got an idea of what Heavy was, I didn’t train, fair enough, I can quit now. Nope, no one was going to let me quit, not even Lou (love you Lou). My favorite quote of the night had to have been Roberto quoting my patch back to me
My role in the team started as pace keeper/flag holder, and turned to “keep Roberto awake”. I felt like I had purpose again. Roberto and I lead the final 2 hours, which were absolutely miserable, through the final stretch. Holy fucking shit was it hell. It was constant feeling of so close yet so very far. We eventually reached the end, shaking hands before we even reached the finish, and it was awesome.
To the 10 individuals who helped me finish, I am proud to call you teammates, and friends. I will happily buy any of you a beer any day of the week. To anyone that wants to do a Heavy, I continue to believe that most of it is mental, hardest part is signing up. To anyone registered for Selection, do a Heavy, it is certainly eye opening. To everyone that rooted for me, thank you a ton, it really meant a lot to me catching up on facebook the next day. To Shanie, thanks for supporting me even though this was probably the most idiotic decision of my life. And to Cadre Lou, fuck you for deciding to break records, I’ll see you in Boston. ♥