Tom Rowland GoRuck Selection AAR

depletion eventHey Brad,
Thought I would fill you in on the GORUCK Selection AAR.

Things went pretty well for a while, but degraded as my body fell apart.

I was top 10 in the class on the fitness test ( 2 min pushups, 2 min sit-ups, 5 mile run, 12 mile ruck) and then made it through the 4 hour exercise party easily. I felt good, was not getting too much special attention and then we loaded our 45 pound packs (now 60 lbs) with an 80 lb sandbag on top. This extra weight was tough for me. I passed the guy in front of me who quit shortly after, then several others passed me. There were only 13 of us left at the beginning of this evolution and by the time it was over only 9 remained and I was out. I was falling behind and I let the demons creep in. I did several things that I swore I would never do.

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I withdrew during an evolution. As I later learned, I was 150 m from the end. I was disappointed, devastated. However, I watched what happened next and 2 more VW’d as they exercised with those same sandbags. Then, by the time the van picked me up, 2 more dropped from the immediate 12 mile ruck holding a performance standard of 15 min/mile.

5 made it through the first day and saw the sun come up but it dropped from there to a single man standing. He was tough and in the right place mentally. He looked fresh on his long walk which was probably around 20 miles. I watched him come in today and finish. Amazing.

The Selection event is far different than Kokoro and much the same. While the exercises are the same, the intensity of Selection never decreases…no down time. I was fine with that, however, what I was unprepared for was the lack of food. I made it to the 19 hour mark I think. We had absolutely nothing but water. Not an electrolyte pill, nothing. I was dizzy, lightheaded, puking up any water I could get down and cramping severely. I was mentally in good shape, but when my body started to fail, the demons crept in. The courage dog became a puppy and the fear dog became a wolf.

This led me back to the reason I was there…my why. It wasn’t strong enough. You see, my why was the same why that I had for Kokoro. I wanted to show my children that you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations continually to grow as a person, to become better. You can’t stagnate, you grow or you die.

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I showed them that in Kokoro. I thought that might be enough on this one, but I really just wanted to see if I could do it…as you know, that is not a strong enough why.

I am 46, I have a successful business, a wonderful family. I have done some challenging things in my life, including Kokoro and when it came right down to it, I didn’t want this one bad enough and this was a very bad environment to be in that situation.

There is a bright side, however. I learned some things. In fact, I learned far more in failure than I did in success at Kokoro.

Selection is an individual event. We were not allowed to talk to anyone, help anyone in any way or be helped. No communication whatsoever. There was no team, just you…alone.

At Kokoro, I drew incredible strength from my team mates and boat crew. SealFit emphasizes the importance of a team, of leadership, of the qualities that a superb leader has to have. I learned those lessons at Kokoro and felt like I sailed through, however they did not penetrate my soul like being in the opposite situation did. Maybe I am dumb, maybe just stubborn or maybe I rely of my individual athletic background too much, but until the entire team aspect was stripped away, I did not fully understand what i had already learned at Kokoro.

As individuals we will never be as strong as we are as a good team. In fact, we are weak when alone even though we may still think we are strong. The wolves and sharks circle and finally attack when defenses are down.

This lesson was hugely important to me and I plan on taking it back to my private life. I am on a lot of teams. My number 1 team is my family and I am going to work on strengthening that team and working better with my wife.

My workout group is my team and I am going to work on strengthening that team as well by doing some other challenge with them and leading them in SealFit breathing and visualization training.

My business is my team and I am going to strengthen that one by communicating better, delegating better and rewarding more. I need to lead more effectively which sometimes means allowing others the leeway to do the job that they are good at rather than doing it for them.

I was not standing at the finish and I did succumb to my demons, however, this was a success. I learned a ton.

I also learned a ton about training and what I would do differently if I were to try it again. I took WAY too much stuff! My rig turned into a disaster in the first 5 minutes as the Cadre went through everything. I couldn’t really get it all stuffed back in in the 30 seconds that they gave me to do it and lost key items right away. I lost my Nalgene bottle and my water bladder broke later in the event. I was lucky that I picked up an Aquafina bottle off the ground to avoid punishment and crammed it in my ruck. That was my water source. This was another issue as I became more and more dehydrated all because I packed improperly. This was a crucial failure that could have been prevented had I gathered more information prior to the event from past finishers or someone who had been through SFAS. It is common knowledge that they are going to toss your ruck and give you seconds to repack. They even did that at my son’s Sea Cadets class. I just looked past that and practiced things that I didn’t need to like sit-ups or even rucking. Had I spent more time on my packing, I could have done better.

Goals were also an issue…as I think back, I wanted to do really well in this event. I visualized being in the top 10 in the class and crushing it. Its funny how things work out when you use visualization training. I was in exactly that spot…number 10 and it was pointed out by the Cadre. I was crushing it and when I realized where I was, I guess something in me kind of accepted it and made it even easier to withdraw. Combine lack of food, dehydration, 18 hours of non stop exercise, 30 more hours (even though they all said 40 more) a very difficult task that seems like it will never stop currently being demanded and a Cadre whispering in your ear that it is totally cool to quit, that you have done great so far, nothing to be ashamed of and BOOM, you say it…Im done.

That is a lesson that you can rephrase and use as a very instructional blog post to your students. Be careful where, exactly, you set your goals because you will achieve them and they may not be what you thought they would be. For example, if your goal is to be top 10 in your BUDs class, you may achieve that but still not pass BUDs. Set your goal to be top 10% of the finishers, not the class. That doesn’t sound like a different goal, but it is a galaxy of difference. When I was visualizing being top 10, I just kind of assumed that would mean finishing, but it did not. Had I visualized differently, I may have had a different result.

Your training, SealFit and Kokoro helped a ton. I feel like I let down the SealFit/Kokoro community, but I know that each of those people would feel as though my end result was a success because of what I learned. It will be a real success if I actually apply it on a daily basis.

Through my Unbeatable Mind training, SealFit and the support of my teams, I am sure that I will.

Thanks for everything that you do, Brad. You are helping tons of people, including me.

Tom Rowland

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