Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 621: Goruck Class 758 - NYC

I don't always eat the cafeteria food, but when I do, I post in on Instagram

Hello kids, it's Mr. Vasquez.

The bald, bow tie wearing blogger from Bushwick is still rockin that symmetrical neck gear pretty hard. I just decided to not post on a consistent basis anymore. By now, you've had a chance to see my entire collection. More than twice, I think. 

I'll be posting a lot less frequently on here recapping some adventures with obstacles course races/ endurance challenges and dropping a line here and there about how it's going with our first year of home schooling. 

Come again? Yup - we're home schooling the boys this year - and we're having a blast so far. That's lettuce for another salad.

This post will feature some thoughts on the GORUCK Challenge I had the honor of completing a few weeks ago. If you're a little late to the party and want to catch up, here's my recap of my first challenge back in May of this year.

Near the end of the challenge we knelt for a moment of silence.

 This goruck challenge is not unlike other challenges. It's a team event. It requires participants to carry bricks or sand in a rucksack. It's an endurance event that lasts anywhere from 10 or more hours. What set this challenge apart from others was that it was dedicated to the memory of those lost as a result of the terror attacks on 9/11. As a result, this challenge had a custom goruck patch that participants earned.

As with all other goruck patches - this one cannot be sold. It is only earned. We each have our own 9/11 story, and mine is not something I would consider altogether worthy of being mentioned, but the 9/11 goruck challenge itself was actually one of the events that helped to form a new perspective on fitness, on challenges/obstacle races, and on appreciating life in a more active way.

It was just over a year ago that I saw our friend and trainer complete his first goruck challenge. I remember telling Lily that my goal would be to complete a Spartan race and maybe another obstacle course race, but that goruck seemed like too daunting a rigorous task to overcome. I never once imagined that I would have completed over 20 events, including four goruck events since then. Aside from being such a somber moment to reflect and honor those who have passed, the event itself represented a milestone for me. 

Unlike the first goruck challenge I completed, this event wasn't about me. It wasn't about my limits. I knew what they were. I trained for this. This challenge was about my team - about the 53 other people who signed up and were by my side throughout the 13-hour ruckathon. It was about our two oldest sons, who are both interested in public service work and who have already expressed a desire to be a first responder one day. This challenge was about the students I teach, and the lessons about teamwork that I would get to impart on them afterward.

Before I synthesize two overarching themes found in this event, let me pause and encourage anyone who has already completed an event like this one - consider doing another one. Moreover, consider making the second (and I could argue every event after that) about your team. It's not about you. It's about the person next to you. How awesome would the world be if people lived with a perspective that put others before them, even in the midst of an incredibly daunting challenge? I'd guess the world would be pretty awesome.

Lesson 1: In light of seeing a challenge from the perspective of a teammate, it would behoove you to prepare yourself for the next one. You've got the first challenge under your belt. You know what bear crawls feel like on your shoulders. You know what an improper low crawl will do to your elbows on concrete. You know what holding a plank for more than 2 minutes with a ruck full of bricks because your team was acting like a bunch of individuals feels like. With a well-trained mind and body you would find yourself with a lot of free space in your mind to consider how many ways you can encourage your neighbor, how you can help carry someone's load, how you can smile through the pain - even if you're in the midst of being a casualty for more than three hours. You will find that your mind won't be clogged with thoughts of frustration with your body, thoughts of quitting with your mind, thoughts of food because you're hungry. You will expect these things, will have dealt with them during training, and will now have time to find more lessons evolving around you.

Lesson 2: There is beauty in obstacles. At some point after 7AM - six hours into this challenge - we found ourselves somewhere in Riverside Park just off 68th St in Manhattan, near the East River at a place called Linda's Lawn.

As much as I fancy myself a true New Yorker, I had never been to this part of Riverside Park. It was as though I had stepped into an alternate universe where the only humans I knew carried bricks and ran exercises in groups of 50 or more. In the midst of a march I looked over and there it was - this train engine from another time. I was convinced we were now not only in a different world, but in a different time - a time where bricks represented causes, logs represented coupons that we could exchange for good livin. And I could appreciate the value of life because I was challenged to think about how worse it could be. 

For the record, I hated being a casualty.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on GRT!

    I'm attempting my first GRC on Nov 16 in Santa Cruz California! :D

    Great post!

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