What’s Your Burden?

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This past Saturday I took part in Burden Operation Company’s Limit Pusher Event.   This event is intended to be a 12 hour endurance event where you carry weight (men and women different weights) and ruck around the trails doing PT and other activities while being part of a team (yep good run on sentence there).

A bit about the Burden Operation Company from the Leaders and Owners themselves :

Burden Operation Company
The reason we named it that is all of us have a burden be it from family to work, from kids to your past, from a death or guilt.. but not all burdens are bad and not all bad burdens need to weigh you down… instead of letting the weight of the burden we decided to use it as fuel and instead “Honor Burdens by crushing limits “

     My Burden is also my guilt and my fuel alot of people have heard me talk about my buddy ryan. I did not know ryan for very long we meet via spartan street team. He knew me and my ex wife very well. When my divorce struck I was devastated. He kept me training and gives me the “guys / spartan way of thinking ” a few times I thought about taking my life and a few times I tried… dude would show up and pound my door till i opened it..  I looked up to him a lot and his love for life and people around him. The year 2013 my first spartan world championship I had lots of doubt in my heart he called me up to check on my the day before the check on me knowing I was doubting myself. I didn’t feel worthy to be alive never mind even at the championship… He said some spartan aroo aroo aroo told me this is what I work for as I just blamed my failed marriage and life and etc he said loudly and sternly
“Dave shut the fuck up! Look your a good guy your a spartan at heart” then he said the most profound thing to me “You define yourself nothing more nothing less” a few more encouragements then off to the mountians with his girlfriend.
Well after the weekend and being home I get a call from a buddy “Dave. …… ryan is dead… ” you read that right he died.. how? He committed suicide the one thing he kept me from so many times .. how can I not see it in his eyes? Was I that self centered? How, what,  and why was my thoughts… at his funeral services you saw 1st hand the sheer numbers of people he effected.
Do I feel survivors guilt? Why yes I do? Why him and not me? Do I feel guilt I wasn’t able to save him? Again yes I do..
This is my burden this is my weight on my shoulders .. I have chose to keep living in the memory of ryan the things he taught me in the short time I knew him.

Who was Ryan? Ryan was probably 1st person I met that loved spartan race as much as I did he was also the one that taught and showed me what a limit pusher was, introduced me to goruck and got me to sign up with him and I learned I loved rucking!! He loved to have fun and live life, truly loved it and lived it to his fullest, always smiling and always laughing. A true spartan by heart and code not company or brand

At the beginning of the operation, we were given a brick that said “Ruckin for Ryan”.   Ryan was a dear friend of David, who David worked out with and looked up to in many ways.   We got asked to write the burden that we live with everyday.    A burden that sits heavy on our shoulders with every day we live.   Mine was “Living with a disease that doesn’t have a cure and tries to kill me everyday”.  Lupus lives with me everyday, I currently have it in control but it still is there I don’t know when its going to rear is ugly head.   I don’t know when I am going to have to deal with it.   It does sit heavy on my shoulders.  However, people in the group also dealt with many other things that were much worse than what I deal with daily.   They had real life problems that burdened them EVERY day of their lives.

A little background is needed on this operation.   I did this operation last year, I am sure I can go back and find the post, but it was terrible.  I lost the weight out of my ruck within a mile of starting. ONE MILE , I physically was unable to walk up the very first hill, my body was screaming at me for even attempting something like this.   I live in pain on  most days and I try to play it off and ignore it.   Why? Because I don’t need the sympathy.  I don’t need to hear it from people, but good friends know when its true.   David saw that and pulled my weight.   That weighed heavy on me that everyone else was able to keep their weight and I had to give mine up.   Needless to say and here this post is not about last year but to just highlight what happened last year.  Also the mental state I was in going into this year’s event considering what happened last year. Link to last year’s post (http://lupuscombat.com/?p=186)

This year I wanted it to be different, I didn’t want to fail.   I didn’t want a repeat of last year.  I didn’t want to not be able to complete the task at hand.  As we started all of this weighed on me.   I am always thinking about how I am going to do, if I am not going to be able to complete the tasks that we are challenged with everyday.  I am my worst critic.  I am my own worst enemy when it comes to tasks like this.

As we met up with everyone in the parking lot, some of us knew each other some of us however didn’t.   They were race buddies, but we may not have actually known each other that well.  This event proved to change that.   It would pull us closer than any of us every probably thought at the beginning.    There were 9 of us total: Josh, Wade, Paul, Ralph, Bryan, Jack, Jessica, and Alicia.  These people over the next 12 hours would become some of the closest friends I can count on.    These events are unlike other races, you must work together to achieve a goal.  You must work together and come together as a team.  And come together as a team we did. 🙂

We started with PT in the parking lot.   Exercises that was each of our favorites.   We were supposed to have 15 people come to the event.    So the number of the moves was 15.  We did sit ups, flutter kicks, squats, jumping jacks, push ups, etc.   This was while we were waiting for one more team member to show up since he was late.  Upon his arrival we had to do a burpee for every ten minutes that he was late.   So we did burpees as a team.  The reason not only one person was punished was because we are a team, not individuals.   There is no I in team……..

A few laps in the parking lot and then we were off on the trail.  I was nervous to say the least.   I didn’t know what my body would do.   I didn’t know what the day would hold.  We started off on the trail, trudging along, me taking puffs of my inhaler because breathing seemed to be slightly difficult at the beginning.   Once I get going I am ok, so I was a little slower at the beginning then the rest but I would find my grove.   Along the trail we had to stay within arms reach of each other, if not we would have to carry that person.     I was pulled back by Laura, and Josh kept asking back if I was ok, and she would make a noise as if it was me.  They figured out it wasn’t me and the whole team had to come back and pick me up.   So someone on the team had to carry my ruck and had to carry me.   This is harder than it appeared because you are using your arms to hold on for dear life, since I have the worlds shortest legs, I could lock my ankles while being piggy back carried.

Finally we were able to put people down, and we continued on.   We reached the bridge that I intimately remember, because the hill that about killed me was around the corner.  The hill that I cried on last year because my legs hurt so much, the hill on which David took my weight from me.  This year however I had my ruck which was close to 40 lbs and then had strapped two gallons of water on each side.  And I made it up the hill without a problem, without pain.  I wanted to jump and down with joy.   That hill was a huge accomplishment.   Many may not understand the impact of making it up a hill, but for me it was huge.    We continued on, and at points had to carry another individual, so I carried another ruck.   I was able to do this several times, hell I even volunteered.   I would have never been able to physically do that last year.  I could barely carry an empty back pack let alone two weighted rucks.

We started working together as a team after the first few failed time hacks.  Everyone had their place on the team and we all worked together as a team to make our goals.

Water oh how I love the water, cold or not I love water.  We encountered our first water experience.  We were required to do burpees in the water (another favorite) while some did squats.   It was awesome.

The first real group challenge we had was a group push-up.   the person in front put their shoulders on the person behind them’s shoulders and so on and so forth.  As a group we had to do a push up.  This was a hell of a lot harder than it first seemed.   And after multiple attempts and rearranging we were unable to get a push up in.

We had to continue on the trail and had fifteen minutes to make it to the picnic area.  My other favorite water spot.   This is where I first fell in love with water burpees last year.   The first task at hand was making it up the river to a stick and turning back around and making it back to where we started.

After this we were required to go into the water again to do some river Yoga.  The best kind of Yoga! Nothing like stretching out in the river and getting our muscles and icy chill.  After the nice little splash in the water we need to do full submersion water burpees (WOOT WOOT).   The burpees didn’t count if the head didn’t go under.  So we did have a few no reps but we all got the hang of it and were able to knock out the burpees, despite making a few people uncomfortable.   But that is the point of the operation, you have to push into that uncomfortable zone to see what you are really capable of.  As weird as it may seem I requested to do 5 burpees in a row on my own (full submersion).   And I loved every minute of it.

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At that point we were able to get out of the water and required to memorize a poem.  At that point each of us were required to memorize this poem and recite it.    All of us were able to successfully complete this task.

Back in the water!!!! Flutter kicks my favorite.   I feel sorry for anyone that sits next to me, because my intention when I flutter kick is to splash as much as humanly possible, including myself.   This was an awesome one, there are some great pictures, and apparently had both operators David and Laura, laughing till they cried.  Hey I do what I can 🙂

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all you see is my pink sock and blue shoe 🙂11920385_10206352635085964_2089254218_n

splashing myself 😉11949516_10206352635445973_951011951_n

After that back to warming up.

Ralph was the man that carried everyone, if we had an “injury”, he was the first to step up, it was one of these occasions that I had the honor of wearing his ruck.  Let me tell you it wasn’t light.  I had to guide Jessica through some rocky trail, because she lost the privilege of her vision for this specific section.   So while carrying Ralph’s ruck and guiding Jessica we made our way back to the bridge we had crossed and had a toll in order to  cross.  We had to do a group crab walk.  This is harder than it seems.   But for the girls who could barely get there arms on the ground, the boys basically just picked us up and lifted us out.   On the last push when I was on the back of the train i kind of went flying because Wade who was behind me had stood up and I wasn’t quite ready for it.   🙂 It’s all good all part of the operation.

Back to the location where we first entered the water.  We had to play a game “Mother may I” using three movements, of our choosing and Laura’s approval to get to a specific movement on the trail.  The first one there would get to pick the movement they do.  We were all going through movements and getting close.  I intentionally was holding off on burpee broad jumps until we got closer I knew within a distance I could get three and make a fair amount of distance.   Sure enough the last time that I got to go I used my burpee broad jumps and made it across.  I however didn’t chose the weight that David would have to carry, as a team we did.  Josh’s ruck would be carried by David and we got his, which was significantly lighter.  Next, three of the men had to go out and find a log that David and Laura found suitable for us to carry.    The first log was found in appropriate.   So while they were out on the search the rest of us did PT.    One of the PT movements was dead lifting that original log with all the rucks attached to it, totaling close to 250 lbs.    As a group we lifted the weight.  Then it was the girls turn to deadlift it, us three girls were able to lift it without a single problem.  The boys did the same.   Then david wanted us to bench press it.   The boys went first, the girls were allowed to help and guide on the first rep, then they were on their own for I believe two reps.   Then the girls turn.   Bench pressing that much weight is not easy by any means.   The three of us did it though, even without the men helping.

BENCH PRESS!!11950768_10206352633165916_728623608_n 11911624_10206352632765906_2112047414_n

The boys finally came back with an appropriate log.   However the PT group was just getting ready to do the crossfit work “Diane” with our rucks.   30 thrusters for time.   This happens to be one of my favorite movements in crossfit.   I was able to complete mine and then help out fellow team mates make it through the rest of theirs.   This was probably physically demanding simply because of the movement.  That movement is not easy by any means, and I have to call out Alicia who thrusted the men’s weight and did in under 4 minutes.    She is a little ball of dynamite and never gives up!! Great job !!

Back on the trail with the heavy log.   I volunteered to carry two rucks as we made it back to the location where we had just left.    Which was the picnic area.   We were required to keep our log and take it with us.   I helped out as much as could with the log but one of the things that I need to work on is grip strength.  I have been struggling with the muscles in my forearms and hands spasming uncontrollably.  I don’t know why they are doing this, and probably need to have that looked at.   So as soon as I helped and held on for awhile I couldn’t anymore.  We finally got to a steeper section of the trail.  You could tell in everyone’s looks on their faces that we were worn down, that physically we were all exhausted.  We had done a lot throughout the day.   David and Laura gave us the option to do a workout or to keep carrying the log.   We chose to do the workout instead of caring that beast of a log.   The ladder workout with lunges, pushups, and situps is what we started with.  However as we hit the second rung of the ladder, David gave us the option to do 30 8-count body builders.    As individuals we did the body builders, and then were able to help out our teammates complete theirs.  This was one of the best times that we worked as a group to finish a task.

We were on the final stretch and almost to the start point.  After a few minutes as we were nearing the finish, we were asked to pull the brick with our burden on it.  We were reminded that we had been carrying that burden all day.   I couldn’t help but start sobbing.  I had done something that one year ago I was not able to do.   I was not able to carry weight at all last year.  To think about the accomplishments I have made are astounding to me.   I was happy to see what Crossfit has done for me and that I am able to do these things now without hurting.

We walked in silence for a good section of trail.  Laura asked that each of us carry the team weight one last time.  This had to be done for me, I had to carry that, I had to prove to myself, not another living soul that I was able to do this.  During that carry, tears flowed again, because 4 years ago as well I couldn’t walk most days.   I couldn’t get out of bed.   I was in a really really bad place.  Fast forward to this weekend and I was able to carry heavy things.  We all carried the weight one final time.

As we reached the parking lot, we were all proud of the fact we had finally made it.  We were done, but we had one last task.   We needed to do burpees for each of our teammates.  At this point we could share our burden and what we had been carrying around with us all day long.   This was something I struggle with sharing at times still, I am criticized by some, none of our group that day, but others that believe I am just craving intention.  No my disease is real, I live with it every day.   We went around and shared our burdens with the group.  This was an emotional time for all of us.  There are many in the group that carry a lot of weight on their shoulders and are smiling every day, putting on a show that everything is ok.  I am not going to call out any of the group those are their burdens, I just happen to share mine every day.   But to each of my fellow burden teammates, I am so damned proud of each and every single one of you.  You accomplished a lot on Saturday. You over came fears, you conquered goals, we all laughed, we cried, and we succeeded in completing this goal.   You have the right to be proud and raise your head high because of what was accomplished.  I am thankful for each and every one of you that day.

Comparing this to last year, this year did have its harder aspects, I am not sure if it had anything to do with the mental state I was in last year, or if it was everything in general.  We carried a log that was a lot easier to carry than last year.   The PT seemed harder this year but I was able to do it, we didn’t have as much PT last year, or I completely blocked that from my mind.

I have done several of Burden Operation Company’s endurance outings.  This is truly the hardest one they have.  This one was not only physically demanding but mentally as well.  This one holds a special place in my heart and always will, I will be back for more trust me.

Well the story doesn’t end here, sorry this is a long one.   The next things up was we had to go to Boulder High School in order to do the Grind PT test.   I was pushing myself beyond anything I have ever done before.   The next thing harder than this was running a trifecta in a weekend, the previous weekend from this.   So apparently I am trying to run myself to the ground.

Several of us showed up to attempt the Grind PT Test, this would allow you to do the grind and be able to continue for the evening.  The ones that showed up for the testing were Alicia, Ralph, Jack, Paul, and myself.  We were all crazy enough to keep going.   This would be the first time that I have done this and to say I am nervous is putting it lightly.

The test for the Grind is as follows:

2:00 minute push-up test  m-40 F- 30

2:00 minute sit up test f-40 m-50

5 min burpee test – 60

15 min 1.5 mile unweighted run

40 min rucking 5k males
45 min rucking 5k females

Bear-ly Breathing 35 min time cap
3 rounds
10x front rack squat w/ruck
50m Bear crawl
15x curls w/ruck
50m Bear crawl
20x Burpees
50m Bear crawl

50m = 164 feet or 82 feet down and back

On a football field it’s 20 yards

I could tell that my body was feeling the effects of the day’s activities.  I didn’t want to tell anyone that my right leg hurt a lot or that I couldn’t get my right arm to stop shaking.  I was holding my arm close to me so no one would see it.   I didn’t want anyone to know what my body was doing.

So we started the PT Test.  Burpees up first.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love burpees however, doing burpees after a 12 hour day isn’t as easy.  But I was able to finish the burpees with a few seconds to spare. PHew one down a few more to go.

Pushups were next and my arm shaking was a problem.   The pain in my lower arm was bad, it hurt.   I knew I was going slower than the rest of the group and was petrified of failing.  I hate being a failure and not completing what I put my eyes on.   I finished the pushups barely I knocked out the last 5 as fast as I could.

Next up situps.  I can do situps, thank you crossfit.  We do a lot of them butterfly style so I am able to knock them out without a problem.

Running was up and I knew the leg was hurting.   I knew this was going to be a struggle.   I knew this was going to hurt.  6 laps around the track is what we had to do, this is where I struggled to stay out of my own head.   After two laps I was going to quit.  My leg was fighting me, I was struggling to tell if it was from the lupus or an injury.   I am usually decent at figuring out the difference.   I pushed on after lap two and kept going.  I found my rhythm and didn’t stop to walk after that.    I pushed, I got lapped by everyone, which was for me discouraging.  Its hard for me to explain how much it hurts for me to be lapped, I know I am not an elite athelete by any means, but I give it my all.  I am slow I know this but discouraging that I wasn’t keeping up.   I finished that 1.5 miles in 14:55, sprinting the last section faster than I ever have before.

Next up the ruck.   My leg was hurting and both David and Laura know that it was.   I kept pushing though I was moving slow and the leg was hurting more and more.   I made it four laps before them pulled me off the track and said I needed to stop so I didn’t get hurt.   I cried, I failed.  I didn’t finish something that I wanted to finish. This was hard for me, I immediately broke down, I couldn’t handle this.  I couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to finish.  I felt like a failure, I know everyone is going to tell me I wasn’t but in my eyes I was.   It was hard and almost shameful to not be able to continue on.   I was willing to take the two brick penalty and continue on.  But after doing a few laps with the ruck I wasn’t even able to bear crawl, without excruciating pain in my leg.   I had to be smart I had to stop.  I didn’t complete the first Grind Ops that I have ever tried.  This was hard for me.  I needed to do this, but couldn’t.  I wished the guys good luck, both Paul and Ralph had finished the ruck and knew they were on track to making it to the grind.

On the way home I got to think a lot.   A lot about the day and what I had done.   As hard as it is for me, I was able to achieve things I didn’t achieve last year.  I was able to help others achieve things as well.  I went from being the weakest operation member to being one of the team again and no one having to carry my weight.  So as hard as it was despite not completing the PT test I am ok with it now.

Congratulations to the Grind Operations Completers.   You guys killed it last night and probably did a lot of things you never thought you would.   Ralph, Josh, Jack, and Paul congratulations on finishing and completing one hell of a task.  Watch out I am going to make sure I finish the PT test next event.  I will come back and will eventually get this.

So to end, what is your burden?  Does it hold you back?  Does it push you to keep going?  Does it weigh so heavily you cave to its weight?  Whatever your burden is, remember you aren’t not alone in this battle, you have a team behind you.  You may not have known this person to begin with but in the end you will have people who have your back and are willing to help you through the struggle.   This is why I love Burden Operation’s Events, you make friends that you never once thought that would be your friend.


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