How did you find GORUCK?
I started GORUCK through the gateway drug of Spartan Races. After several years of doing their regular races, I wanted to find something deeper to challenge me. I always found the mental aspect of longer races to be what really tested me and helped me grow as a person, so venturing into their endurance sector made sense. That’s how I discovered the bigger world of endurance. Several of my friends that I did Spartan Endure with were also doing GORUCK events —so that’s how I first learned about it. Once I found GORUCK and started participating more in those events I dove in pretty quickly. In May 2018 I completed my first Light, then immediately followed it up with my first HTL in September 2018, just 4 months later (ouch). I just really loved the community and the fact that everyone has the same focus and goal of just being better made it really easy to stick to my goals and complete the challenges.
My first event was the NYC Memorial Day Light 2018 with Cadre Flash. I love this dude and the way he believed in me helped me be better than I thought I could. He really helped me to keep pushing and do more. He’s the one who talked me into my first Tough and my HTL and I’ve always appreciated that. I really think all the Cadre just see our potential more than we do ourselves sometimes. My most memorable moment at that event was sitting around and listening to Cadre Flash’s personal stories regarding Memorial Day and who he wanted to remember. It just made it all very real and touching. I also think it’s helped me realize what this day is really about and helped put my priorities and perspectives in order.
What do you love most about GORUCK Events? Why do you keep coming back?
I’ve always fit in best with the types of people who don’t take the easy way out of things, and I think you find a lot of those people at GORUCK events. Complainers and weak-minded people just sort of get weeded out. In general, everyone is just out there trying to have a good time and work through whatever it is they’re there to do, or whatever lesson they’re trying to instill in themselves.
It was during my HTL’s that I learned the toughest lessons. For those that do not know, an HTL is a Heavy (24 hour event) followed by a Tough (12 hour event) then followed by a Light (4-6 hour event), with minimal rest in between. It is during those moments of rest where you find your inner strength to keep pushing. Picture yourself in whatever transition place – at home, in a hotel room – you just ate, you might have showered and you’ve gotten your gear in order, but there’s a BED there and you just want to lay there forever. I think having that discipline to GO BACK to the pain not knowing how much longer you have to push can be really difficult sometimes. But that’s why your WHY needs to be really personal and really significant — you need something bigger than yourself to be able to put yourself back into that torture. For me, it was about fulfilling my goal to finish and being there for my team.
When it comes to an event like Star Course, it’s a different kind of endurance. For my 50 miler, the hardest part wasn’t until around mile 40 and it’s sort of the same type of difficulty to train your mind not to think about being somewhere comfy but rather to Embrace the Suck. Again, your team and your personal goals have to have a really solid foundation to push you through. Another hard thing, at least during my HTLs, is when I had to talk myself out of some really ‘sorry for myself’ moments. They’re normal and I think it’s important to train yourself to know that you’re going to get into some deep, dark holes but also to figure out how to pull yourself out of them. That’s why I never trained with music when I was training for an HTL — I wanted to get used to my brain going haywire and learn how to pull myself out to the other side BEFORE being faced with those feelings mid-event.
What’s your favorite rucksack?
I used the Rucker for my first GORUCK event and I even used it when I was doing Spartan endurance. A few of my buddies who were helping me prep for my first Spartan Endurance event had recommended it. I have a few rucks, but I love my very first event ruck because it’s weathered tons of storms with me.
How often do you ruck? Are you part of a ruck club?
A few times a week! I always use it to walk my dog and it’s a pretty significant part of my regular training routine. I bring my ruck to the gym and I’m always the maniac after the group workout doing tons of extra ruck training in the back. During that time I was using it at least 5x a week.
I’m a part of BAAR – Big Apple Area Ruckers. I think everyone is BAAR is super welcoming and kind. We also have O’Haras as our after-party bar so that’s badass in general.
How has the pandemic affected your rucking and training?
My boyfriend and I both ruck when walking the dog or just for extra training in general. It definitely did taper off a little during the beginning of the pandemic, but everything’s sort of getting a little more normalized — or maybe I’m just more used to it and needing that sense of comfort of doing something I always did before.
What do you get out of rucking?
Aside from friendship, rucking for me is a totally mental experience. Yes, you will certainly gain or maintain a good basis of fitness, but I find it to be much more mental than anything else, and that’s the part I love the most. I’ve loved long training rucks where I learned how to take the pain of a blister, wrap it up and be able to continue on. It’s really all super interesting how much you can do if you use your noggin and will power.
It makes nothing else seem so bad — or at least not feel forever. I don’t panic in the midst of crisis, and I think alot of that has to do with GORUCK. You’re taught to stay calm and figure it out — to accept certain things in life as what they are and learn to move through them. Small things that can annoy some people just don’t bother me at all anymore, and that’s because standing in line wherever will never be as awful as standing in line in the East River at 3am getting ready to do hydro burpees until the Cadre is satisfied. I think it makes people more resourceful, more calm and more ready and willing to face real-life situations in order to accomplish a mission or help another person. Ruckers are always willing to get down and dirty and help someone in need.
What are you most excited about to return to (somewhat) normal?
I cannot wait to do an event after everything dies down. I miss it so much and just having that community and pushing my body, mind and limits. I also can’t wait to hug every single person ever.