In our lives, every few years, months or crazy experiences later, we emerge. We emerge with new insights and awarenesses that you can’t go back on. So what’s to do with all of that? Incorporate every last bit of it into yourself. (Not that any of us really have a choice in the matter.)
This winter a fitness badass, friend of mine along with a charity called “GORUCK CARES” sponsored me to do this pretty gnarly military team oriented fitness challenge. It’s not a mud run, or a color party or whatever.
It avgs about 12-14 hours of intense, Green Beret training based PT and team building exercises in a major city for the span of 20 miles or more. Oh and with 4-6 Bricks in your backpack. Hell of a Gift eh?
So I wanted to honor this gift, to repay some debt back to these folks who helped ripped my in laws Hurricane Sandy devastated walls and floors up for nothing but a smile and some hot coffee here and there.
The whole mentality of these folks really interested me. When I started to ask questions about GORUCK, I got some shady answers but almost fluidly “You Must Do It”. OOOOOK.
I played sports in high school and would consider myself actively fit. However not at GORUCK level what so ever. So with my mentor Lisa checking in on me and also meeting with me to ensure my pace I started this pretty intense fitness journey from Christmas eve until the date of my challenge which was originally May 12? I had defer because I just wasn’t ready to go that early so my new date was 6/8 NYC. The days leading up to go time was total unsanity for me. Art had taken a huge backseat to my physical routine. As a mom my only time to work out is when Papa gets home and during naps. So that is a slim line of time to juggle my home, business and fitness duties. I admit I didn’t do enough, but tried to go as much and as hard as I could. Before this I was so anti running. Shit I was a goalie in highschool because I didn’t want to run. I managed to dock 10 miles the night of the Boston bombing. Having worked up to 6 miles in 5 min increments up to that point, the bombing pissed me off enough to go the full ten and maybe beyond if I didn’t have to reset the machine.
There was a lot of equipment needed for the ruck and I admittedly leaned TOO hard on Lisa for sanity sake. It REALLY messes with your mind just registering! I’ve never been so adrenaline laced before in my life. I’m a flower child for sheeps sake! The bus ride to the city that RAINY night was like something out of Fear and Loathing. If you’ve been following you might have picked up on the fact that I have additional senses. This is why I am an artist – I can breathe and literally taste texture and color. It’s part of how I am wired. Things that evoke an almost traumatizing level of adrenaline store in your mind somewhere different than just a lazy walk around the lake. There are distinct moments of that ride where I felt like I was floating and every hue of purple including the hue of my windbreaker and my compression capris has a taste I remember.
What better way to do a team challenge prompted by Hurricane Sandy during Tropical Storm Andrea? My girl Carla met me by port authority for a kiss, pep talk and to hand my belongings off to I couldnt carry. Dry Clothes. She drove me downtown to the “ruck off” which is just a big pre team meetup at O’HARA’S pub down by the WTC site.
I used to work in this part of town when I first moved to NYC for a tech company close to Wall Street off Pine and Water. Sometimes during lunch I’d walk the Battery. Naturally OHaras was a former loved watering hole and has major firehouse and emergency personnel resonances. Ruck Off was a blur of smiles, handshakes, shots and french fries then we all laced up and headed down to the Irish Hunger Memorial. Roll was called, Large and Small Eggs were handed out to vets, including my mentor Lisa and we were off.
You’re not really supposed to talk about the challenge. It’s something you learn IN challenge. But the beginning of every challenge has a welcome party, a getting to know you. They say if you make it past the welcome party you’re good for the rest. You also have no sense of time, watches and phones are a no no. Just you, Cadre (a former special ops mentor) and your Team. It is ABOUT the team in this setting here. This isn’t about who can smoke who – everyone is smoked, everyone is in duress and everyone needs to use their mind and muscles to get out of trouble, together.
It was pouring and we were laying with Ruck in the mud in the middle of battery park somewhere inside of all of that, and we were doing a crowd surf type exercise. Things were slippery, and there were huge puddles forming underneath us. The crowd surf was “gumming up” and I held the bulk of a smiling man over my head while things were clearing up to get him on down the line. I’m not sure what happened next other then knowing his ruck (with 6 manly bricks) fell on the upper portion of my arm. I just kind of laid there helping with my other arm for the last few people and so intensely felt the rain all of a sudden pounding into my eyes and head.
It had been raining the whole time.
All of a sudden I felt it. I wasn’t laughing and smiling any more either. My mental state entered a dark place. I knew I was hurt but had no idea that it was bad at all. I just kind of hurled up when we were allowed up and to hydrate. Next thing I knew I was bolting for the fence to vomit. Lisa came after me because you’re not supposed to leave the team without a buddy. I didn’t really know that or have much control at that point. We all formed up and rucked to the next location and the entire time I remember hearing a new friend we deemed “accountabilly buddies” Marvin saying “Beth you OK?” I almost feel like I didn’t hear anything but “Beth” that entire jog. We found ourselves at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Cadre Bert made one fucking incredible speech about Vietnam Vets.
We were carrying several team weights including the ten house flag from 9/11. That was SO spiritually intense to me. Everything was. Every inch of the night is burned into my head, forever. Also considering I kept hearing Silas voice inside my head asking me to come home, I was pretty lit up. It started to totally freak me out. I remember thinking. “I NEED to touch his cheeks.” I may have even said it out loud? When Bert was done, we had a second to rehydrate and that’s when I raised my hand and asked to leave. Naturally the team thinks you are mentally down and they try their hardest to get you to buck up and offer to carry your ruck or even YOU. I just knew it was my time to leave and I had tears streaming down my face at that point. Cadre promised to help me with the team to get through but I thanked him for his service and suggested that I would run if they didn’t let me go in peace.
Ironically as I ran off this happened to be so close to my old work. I looked up at the white building with rectangle long windows and tipped my Yankees hat. I knew if I dialed 7 I’d get a cab and that Carla could still be awake. One of the shadows had my phone in a dry sack so he gave it back before I high tailed it. A short cab later I was on Carlas doorstep like a wet sad dog. I stripped in her foyer and she handed me the dry clothes and warm tea. Heaven.
I made it 4.5 hours in challenge. It was heartbreaking. I barely slept all night thinking about my team and also really kind of tripping off my thoughts. They ended up going like 22.1 miles or something (14hrs or so) – over the brooklyn bridge, baptized in the east river (OMG.), back into times square.
Shots of the Team After I Dropped:
The next morning Carla took me to brunch in Jersey City. They had a bloody mary special and I ordered one and a beautiful eggs benedict and could barely touch it. I did however use the drink to ice my arm which now hurt incredibly. I felt so hungover and sick. The train ride back to the shore was the longest train ride of my life. I was sweating and totally emotionally destroyed.
I debated going to the ER over the arm but my son had a great ortho and figured I could sling it up and wait on it some more. I was so glad to be home, cherished it more and the weather was incredible.
Monday morning they got me in at Seaview Orthopedics and an Xray, and CT Scan later it was confirmed – Broken Humerus.
Didn’t expect that actually and as it turns out, I was in full blown shock afterwards. That whole train ride, brunch. That night. Shock. Way to go Beth for listening to your body! I am ALL for pushing myself to the very limit of life. Had I stayed I could have permanently damaged myself! People don’t get why I did this, why I said yes, and to this day ask if it was worth it considering the arm. Yes, Yes it truly was.
After wearing this CRAZY robo arm for a month I ditched it for a sleeve. It was a non displaced fracture in the middle of my humorous so it just needs to be protected more then anything. At this point it feels like I could start doing some push ups again but doc says I have to wait 1 more month. I do have a redemption code for another challenge courtesy of GORUCK because I was injured. I think about redemption and what I long road that would be because of my arm.
I’m not sure I even need it at this point, we’ll have to see.
Did I have the spiritual journey that I set out to have? Hell Yeah. I always seem to.
I am back to art during my windows of freedom I have put out more and diverse works than I ever have in a single summer. It’s a combination of things but my senses don’t take ANYTHING for granted. There are things I carry with me in life that prevent me from being the exact person I want to be. GORUCK helped break down some walls. That’s what this is about.
Thank you to my training mentors Lisa and Tracy for getting me through that period of unsanity, Hurricane Sandy and the GORUCK Class 621! Special mention to Marvin and Jen and the people who messaged me to talk me back into doing it. What a ride. I notice some folks doing these challenges often. I wonder what their reasons are and if they are like mine at all. It doesn’t matter why you do something in your life really, its your life. The more you do, the more you’ve lived it as far as I’m concerned.
Challenge Photos Courtesy of the GORUCK Shadow Community
p.s. Lisa LOATHES that “utility belt” pictured above. The first rule of GORUCK is to look cool, I think it’s standard awesome issue, she disagrees.