Monday, November 16, 2015

Why I Quit My Goruck Tough Challenge - AAR

My Goruck Tough Challenge was a beast. I am spent 2 days later.

9 PM is way past my bed time. I am old, fat and I love my sleep.

Most of this event was a blur but I will say that I had many on my team checking on me constantly to see how I was doing. They were caring and funny. They were foul-mouthed and hilarious. They were problem solvers and great Americans. They shared their Veteran's stories with me and I was proud to be with them. I saw parts of Downtown Dallas that I have never seen before. We rucked through a lot of it at not very safe hours.

So 14 hours later at about 11 AM on Saturday morning we were hiked across a creek, over a fence and over a pedestrian bridge. We then were put in bear crawl position and told to bear down a hill. My arms and shoulders were so spent I could not keep myself up. I ended up dragging myself down the hill. Not even close to good form. We were given 5 seconds to run back up the hill to get to our rucks and I just couldn't do it. I got back to my ruck and we were put in bear crawl position again to crawl down the hill. I couldn't do it. I grabbed my pack told the guy next to me I was done and walked away from the group. Within seconds I was surrounded by my newest 17 friends begging me to stay and telling me I could do it. I was pretty sure I couldn't. In fact, at that point I knew I couldn't do any more. Even having lost 70 pounds I am still a big dude and not in the shape I want to be, though I am heading in the right direction.

The Cadre separated me from the group and I told him I was done. He had asked us at 9 PM the night before that if we wanted to quit to think about all those who had passed during military service and to think about how they would want to be in our shoes and able to see their loved ones. I had but I was so very tired. He told me he knew I could do it if I would just come back to the group and asked me to give it a try. Cadre CT had been extremely nice to the group. Some Cadres physically smoke classes but CT had been fair. He talked about an exercise we had done in the wee hours of the morning where a classmate had jumped up and placed a sticker on a wall and then with our encouragement had been able to jump higher and place a sticker higher than her original. Nothing had changed except the group encourging her to jump higher and she had been able to jump higher. I agreed to go back to the group even though I was embarrassed as hell and I was humiliated by my actions, but I wanted to complete this event as much as my fellow GRTs wanted to complete it. I didn't want to throw 14 hours away even though I was so very tired.

I returned and we were put in bear crawl position again. We bear crawled halfway down the hill and told to lay on our stomachs and then the song below was played for us. 

I love this song. I have known it for a long time and there is some great history about it. It is worth the read. I sang along with most of the lyrics. It is a touching hymn to military sacrifice. At that point, I would have done anything we were asked to do.

My biggest disappointment in myself out of all of this is the 5 minutes of feeling sorry for myself, feeling like I couldn't do this and feeling like I "should" be done. In that moment it became about me instead of about my team. I didn't put them first, I didn't communicate with them where I was at physically and mentally, and I just gave up.

Some in the GRT community may think I am a quitter and don't deserve my patch, to which I would reply,  I 100% agree with you. I honestly don't feel like I deserve it. I made a 5 minute bad decision following 14 hours of physical, mental and emotion stretching. I am sure most GRTs have thought of quitting at some point during an event, but haven't done it. I, on the other hand, have quit. I regret it but I hope to use it as a learning opportunity in the future.

To Cadre Chris (CT) - thank you for believing in me and seeing where I am at physically and stretching me from there instead of holding me to someone else's standard.

To my fellow GRTs who suffered right beside me and probably picked up a ton of my slack - thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. Everywhere I went you helped me. You extended your arm to help me. Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

12+ Hours of Mental Toughness

Friday night at 9 PM I know where I will be...... And I know where I will be all night. It won't be in my bed.

It will be a long, sleepless night and morning with heavy weight on my back and about 20 of my newest friends to celebrate Veteran's Day in a very special way--by being tortured physically. I regretted signing up for this event as soon as I paid half price for it. I will not be in my comfort zone.

Unlike my last event though, I am less scared even though I know I am going to get physically smoked more than ever I ever have before.* I am a smarter packer, a better foot taper (to alleviate blisters) and more strong willed. The Cadre will not get me quit. I will not quit on myself or my team.
I won't be the fastest. I won't be the slowest.
I won't be the strongest. I won't be the weakest.
I won't ever give up on myself or my team.
This isn't about me.
Grateful for those who served and grateful for those who I personally know that served me.

So here is to hoping it is only a 12 hour event instead of 15 but either way I am smashing it even if I have to crawl to complete it.

*I am pretty sure it will be worse than Carry the Load but ready to embrace the suck.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Unknown Forgiveness

Sometimes you just don't think you can forgive others because they wronged you. You know without a doubt that you were purposely wronged.

Other times you don't know you need to seek forgiveness because you have unwittingly made mistakes. Maybe because you just were not aware.

Sometimes you want to be forgiven because you know you screwed up big. Whether purposely or through an oversight, you see you made a mistake.

This week has led to some interesting feelings in my life. Feelings that occur even though I was the one that was purposely hurt. I want things to be right. Even though I know I have done nothing wrong, I know saying, "I am sorry" will go a long way. Forgiveness means being interested in people instead of  feelings.

I didn't know I had the capacity to forgive some but this week, with the help of two family members and my Savior, I have the desire to forgive others. Today I have unknown forgiveness.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Closed Chapter - Now Choose Your Own Adventure

Growing up as a kid, I hated reading. I hated it so much. Mostly because I wasn't good at it. I tried to rush through the things I was told to read and guess at what words might be. I will never forget when one of my grandparents found out I was having issues.  They sent me some old (and I mean OLD) Nancy Drew books. My Mom would sit and work quietly while I would read to her. She corrected me often because I just didn't care if I got it right. I am sure this time was about as much fun for her as it was for me.

A Nancy Drew book from 1930s which I remember reading.
Since then I have come to love reading - mostly historical books, with the occasional Harry Potter book or Ender's Game-type book woven in there. Church book reading has also become one of my favorites. I have to be in the mood to read. My ADD brain likes to bounce at times around and worry or think about things other than what I am reading. I have read a page without realizing what I have read and then been forced to reread. Sometimes I put a book down and don't pick it up again for a  while. Or maybe never pick it up again because there are better, more interesting things to read.

One of my favorite types of books growing up were from the Choose Your Own Adventure series. You would read and be asked to make one of two decisions and follow the story line by moving through different parts of the book. You could read many different story-lines with one book.

This was one of my favorites!!
Life is very similar to a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Last week I closed a chapter I know I will never have to open again, gratefully. While there was some good, there was a lot of "un-needed adventure" and "poor writing". I learned a lot and grew a ton even though it was painful.

I am grateful to put this book on the shelf and never have to read it again.

I am ready for the next exciting book to read.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Battle of Mogadishu Anniversary - 1993

"Dear Lord, 
Lest I continue
My complacent way,
Help me to remember that somewhere,
Somehow out there
A man died for me today.
As long as there be war,
I then must
Ask and answer
Am I worth dying for?"
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Operation Gothic Serpent, Battle of Mogadishu, 3-4 Oct 1993
1st SFOD-Delta:
SFC Randy Shughart
MSG Gary Gordon
MSG Tim Martin
SFC Earl Fillmore
SSG Daniel Busch
SFC Matt Rierson
160th SOAR:
CWO Raymond Frank
SSG William Cleveland
SSG Thomas Field
CWO Clifton Wolcott
CWO Donovan Briley
75th Ranger Regiment:
SGT Casey Joyce
SPC James Cavaco
CPL Jamie Smith
SGT Dominick Pilla
PFC Richard Kowalewski
SGT Lorenzo Ruiz
10th Mountain Division:
SGT Cornell Houston
PFC James Martin

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Not Quitting

I am guilty of quitting sometimes. More times than not I quit mentally. Or don't even try.

Here is an AWESOME article on not quitting. Read the whole article. It is worth the 3 minute read. Excerpts below.

Here is my simple question to you: Would you rather go without a meal for a day, or without a breath for two minutes? The brain has special circuits to warn you that you are dying and cause panic. Key West teaches you to turn them off. That is what killed Chuck.
Chuck didn’t remember much about crossovers that day, so I got another version from one of the cadre I knew. As the class was crossing the pool, they somehow provoked the ire of whistle guy. Probably displaying too much affinity for normal breathing. He was blowing the whistle pretty fast. I am sure they had procedures and limits, but I never figured out what they were. Safety cadre guy missed a head count because the pace was so quick. The second count was one guy short, but the class was back underwater before he could stop them. Chuck died peacefully at the bottom of the pool. He had no breathing, no pulse, and water in his lungs. His airway was completely obstructed by a swimming pool full of water. They finally stopped the drill and pulled the lifeless body of Chuck Gates from the bottom.
Chuck didn’t quit. You can’t beat a man like that; you have to kill him. Men like Chuck are exceptionally hard to kill, and Special Forces is filled with them. Be like Chuck.

Friday, September 18, 2015

White Water and Calm Water

Have you ever been through white waters? I have. In a canoe. Very scary.

When rafting in white water you don't often have to use your paddle to move or propel yourself forward. Often you use that paddle to just direct your canoe or raft in the right direction. The white water takes care of moving you usually in the right direction.

When rafting in calm water, you must often do a lot of work to keep yourself moving forward by paddling in addition to using the paddle to making sure you are going in the right direction.

Sometimes life is just like that. Sometimes trials are like that. Sometimes it is scary, sometimes it is fun and sometimes it borders on both and you want to wet yourself. During difficult trials all you can do sometimes is just use your paddle to make sure you are going in the right direction. Calm waters seem easier but also require a lot more work to keep yourself moving forward. "Floating" doesn't always get you where you need.

So here is to a combination of both calm and white waters to keep us going in the right direction at the right speed!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11th and Goruck Ready

What a touching day today has been to remind me of the sacrafice made 14 years ago.

Tomorrow I do my own very own memorial with their names in my bag next to my American, Texan and Gonzales flags. It is gonna be a good day especially to remind myself that I am not an individual but part of something bigger. Hopefully my head follows my body.

American flag, Texan flag, Gonzales flag, 9/11 list of those who passed that day, 20# weight, 3 liters water, gummy bears, Clif bars, mechanic's gloves, blue duct tape, waterproof paper, flashlight and my Concord hat. That is a crap load of gear.

In the October 2002 General Conference, President James E. Faust shared the following remarks.
On September 11, 2001, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City were hit by terrorist-controlled airliners that caused both towers to collapse. Thousands of people were killed. Out of this tragedy have come hundreds of stories of courageous, unselfish acts. One very poignant and heroic account is the Washington Post’s story of retired army Colonel Cyril “Rick” Rescorla, who was working as vice president for corporate security of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter.
Rick was a very experienced ex-military combat leader. He was in his office when “the first plane struck the north tower at 8:48 A.M. … He took a call from the 71st floor reporting the fireball in One World Trade Center, and he immediately ordered an evacuation of all 2,700 employees in Building Two,” as well as 1,000 more in Building Five. Using his bullhorn, he moved up the floors, working through a bottleneck on the 44th and going as high as the 72nd, helping to evacuate the people from each floor. One friend who saw Rick reassuring people in the 10th-floor stairwell told him, “Rick, you’ve got to get out, too.”
“As soon as I make sure everyone else is out,” he replied.
“He was not rattled at all. He was putting the lives of his colleagues ahead of his own.” He called headquarters to say he was going back up to search for stragglers.
His wife had watched the United Airlines jet go through his tower. “After a while, her phone rang. It was Rick.
“‘I don’t want you to cry,’ he said. ‘I have to evacuate my people now.’
“She kept sobbing.
“‘If something happens to me, I want you to know that you made my life.’
“The phone went dead.” Rick did not make it out.
“Morgan Stanley lost only six of its 2,700 employees in the south tower on Sept. 11, an isolated miracle amid the carnage. And company officials say Rescorla deserves most of the credit. He drew up the evacuation plan. He hustled his colleagues to safety. And then he apparently went back into the inferno to search for stragglers. He was the last man out of the south tower after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and no one seems to doubt that he would’ve been again last month if the skyscraper hadn’t collapsed on him first.”
Amid the great evil and carnage of September 11, 2001, Rick was not looking for what might be in it for him; instead he was unselfishly thinking about others and the danger they were in. Rick Rescorla was the “right man in the right place at the right time.” Rick, “a 62-year-old mountain of a man cooly [sacrificed] his life for others.” 20 As the Savior Himself said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” 21
Most of us don’t demonstrate our unselfishness in such a dramatic way, but for each of us unselfishness can mean being the right person at the right time in the right place to render service. Almost every day brings opportunities to perform unselfish acts for others. Such acts are unlimited and can be as simple as a kind word, a helping hand, or a gracious smile.
The Savior reminds us, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” 22 One of life’s paradoxes is that a person who approaches everything with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude may acquire money, property, and land, but in the end will lose the fulfillment and the happiness that a person enjoys who shares his talents and gifts generously with others.
I wish to testify that the greatest fulfilling service to be rendered by any of us is in the service of the Master. In the various pursuits of my life, none has been as rewarding or beneficial as responding to the calls for service in this Church. Each has been different. Each one has brought a separate blessing. The greatest fulfillment in life comes by rendering service to others, and not being obsessed with “what’s in it for me.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A True Addiction

I think we probably all have said we were addicted to food but I truly am. About 18 months ago I realized I needed to make some changes in my life after thinking about making those changes for the previous 18 months. I knew the way I viewed food whether stressed or not was part of an ongoing almost 20 year problem. My parents teach the LDS Church's Addiction Recovery class in their stake in Georgia and after years of hearing about it I decided that is where I was going to start. It is a great class. I have enjoyed going. I go off and on now depending on how things go.

Addiction to food, sometimes in the form of overeating and what I suffered from, is an interesting addiction. I used to overeat like no other. I used to think nothing of eating all day and being sick because of it. I was constantly sick, constantly wanting to feel better. I am glad I had the foresight to realize my overeating was out of my hands.

Addiction to food is interesting. If you were addicted to drugs you would stop doing drugs to break the cycle of addiction. You can't just stop eating. I personally think this addiction is hardest (probably because I have only experienced this one) because you still have to eat but must begin the process of thinking of food as fuel instead of a replacement for emotional x, lack of love y and/or drama z. I am still working, slowly I might add, my 12 steps. There are steps I know I cannot address yet in my life due to the nature of some of the things that have led me to overeat.

The LDS Church has produced some real world, real problem videos that are about as real as they get. There is no sugar coating addiction especially to the point where it takes over your life. The LDS Church has not sugar coated these videos either. They are raw and grateful, while there still might be a stigma around addiction in its many forms, being able to just discuss it and not be stared to address it.

So in the process of taking control of this addiction I have lost 70 pounds. I guess I think that is just a by product of me coming off my high of overeating food (and a crap load of exercise). I have hit a plateau for the weight loss. I am not particularly thrilled to have hit it but it is a sign to me that I am doing the right things to not yo-yo and put the weight back on. I have stayed within 5 pounds of my last weight loss rest stop. And yes, there are days I totally screw up but the next day or even that last meal is where I start anew. Yes there are days I still want to inject Mountain Dew Code Red straight into my veins.

It is an interesting thing when you don't weigh 367 pounds. You can do stuff. In fact you can do some crazy stuff. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Goruck Event #2 Around the Corner and Scared

My next Goruck event is around the corner. It has been 6 months since my last one. I am in better shape and lost a bit more weight yet..............

I am scared.

The group will be huge as it is a memorial event for September 11th and I am very sure I can hide pretty well in a group (kind of like I did at my first one). There is a posibility that a mission buddy and a family member will be there with me with another friend shadowing the group. I know I can do it. I have done it before yet........

I am scared.

I hate the unknown. New cadre means different experience. New location means different challenges. Different people means different group chemistry. Different means I don't know what to expect. I literally wish I had the ability to turn off my brain, the doubt, the scared, the doubt and just do what I need to do. No ones life depends on how well I do. All I need is the ability to walk away from the event knowing I did my best and not being hurt. Yet.....

I am scared.

I guess it doesn't really matter honestly. I am going to do it anyways. I may just pee my pants in the process.

Expect me to be more scared in November. 12 hour event is harder than a 5-7 hour event.