When you first hear about rucking you may think a lot of things:
- That's crazy.
- Why would you do that?
- Or my personal favorite: hey, I should try that.
If you're anything like me you go with #3. When C.C. Chapman mentioned rucking I didn't think anything of it at first but #1 and #3. It wasn't until well after last year's knee surgery and recovery that I felt I could do anything about it. In fact, I started running again before I got into rucking.
Cue the doctor's rant about running and suddenly rucking was one thing that ironically I could do that *didn't* hurt my knees so much (with taping and icing after). The weight doesn't seem to hurt my knees like the impact of running. And thus, a new addiction was born.
After a summer 10 mile ruck I decided I'd sign up for a challenge - GoRuck Light on Halloween, the same one that C.C. did just last year. I thought I was prepared - let's say nope to that.
Queueing up for our start I was nervous and wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into. I was a bit concerned about not being able to hear (wearing hearing aids near water is a no-no) and being helpful to my team. Then I was tapped on the shoulder by one of the best surprises of the day - C.C. had come to shadow the challenge with his camera in tow, a big smile and a warm hug. The three things that would help me throughout the day.
We got started. Right off the bat I almost quit. Almost quitting isn't quitting. Thankfully.
No complaints, it was just really tough on my knees to run with the ruck. Running I can do for short bursts still no problem, additional weight made pain shoot through both knees. It was incredibly bad.
I walked off. I walked away and the encouragement that came from all sides made me feel like I was giving up. Not in a "you're being a baby" kinda of giving up, but in a "please don't do this" kinda giving up. I was asked if I wanted someone to take the ruck and refused repeatedly. I even remember C.C. saying don't be a hero. Heh. Boy, that man knows me well. But the team, this team, these people - THEY made the difference. I absolutely would not have finished it if weren't for my team. No way.
Most of the day was a battle with myself. I was so introverted and in my own head. I was fighting myself the entire time - quitting, being tired, achy body parts, being slow, etc. - it was a tough physical and mental battle. It took all my concentration and effort to finish this thing. I kept being encouraged to smile and while I realized at the end that being amused and goofy would have helped - I let myself get sucked into a mental trap.
During the last hill - or next to last, I can't recall for certain - I quite effectively lost it. I loathe being touched when I'm stressed or frustrated. I finally gave up my ruck for a bit because I knew I wouldn't finish without help. I knew that I had to do that - to accept help - or stop. Accepting help is another thing I struggle with. I certainly don't like asking for it from people I'm not close to.
When I took it back and when I could see Faneuil again, it was surreal. Like WTF just happened exactly? Are we really here? The awe and amazement that flooded my senses and carried me back to our starting point was the most inspiring feeling, ever.
The moment above is gold, folks.
That moment I realized I fucking finished. I can fucking finish. All at once I realized that I can finish, I can push myself, I can do more than I think is possible, that I am built to outlast challenges, I am mentally stronger (read: stubborn) than I thought.
While the challenge was tough physically (one of the hardest things I've done since giving birth), the mental battle was intriguing to me on so many levels. I learned a lot about myself and while that sounds cliché - I'm quite in awe of the lessons I learned from a few hours effort. Those moments don't happen often.
That hug above and earning my patch and the encouragement of my team are something that will carry me through a lot of tougher times because I know I can push limits.
What can YOU take away? Challenge yourself. You might be surprised what you learn from yourself and your abilities to face what's thrown at you.
A few friends asked me after it was over if I'd do another one and I jokingly said I'd wait to answer until after the pain subsided but the truth is I decided well before that. I think I have a lot yet to learn (especially about those mental traps and smiling) and limits to continue to break. After all, I'm limitless.
If you'd like to partner up for upcoming challenges, please let me know. I'm willing to travel/look into doing it near you! (Sounds like a group of friends are on for Spartan Fenway next year, too!)
If you want to learn more about rucking and purchase rucking gear - use this link, please. I don't benefit from it, but C.C. will. It's the least I can do for all his support.