So in the last post, I wrote about the first perhaps 11 hours of Chicago Heavy class 014. As the sun was coming up and we were eating for the first time that night in our little penguin huddle. It was a pretty magical moment there on the beach and I had the most delicious cliff bar I’ve ever eaten. The group didn’t really worry about who owned the food, it was simply everyone sharing whatever was on top. As we huddled, Ranger Jason gave us a buoy from the beach as a new team weight, the next objective and we were ready to move out.
As we hit our objective points, we divided into two teams. One team would consist of 5-6 people to take the objective point while the rest of the team would get into a position to provide cover. After the second beach PT, we moved to another objective point further north on the Lake Michigan coastline. At this objective point, we were given the option of changing socks if desired. This was an amazing moment as I was able to change into dry socks and remove sand from my shoes. When doing long events, the most important thing to take care of is your feet. So when given the chance, always take care of your feet.
After the break, the main team moved into a position and let the small team go to the objective point. The main team didn’t provide proper cover, so our small team became casualties. One of the most interesting part of the Heavy was that Ranger Jason taught us tactics and showed us corrections when we didn’t get it properly. So when our team wasn’t in the proper position, Jason had one part of the team pick up the casualties and one part of the team provide cover. We picked up the casualties, brought them back to the group, and created a security perimeter to “heal” the casualties.
Ranger Jason gave us another objective point to take so the group moved out again. More miles along the beach and we moved onto the streets of Chicago. Along the way, we stopped at a gas station for water, a quick break, and some Gatorade. It’s funny how the little things create a huge boast to your morale. After our quick break, we started moving again. The team’s morale was pretty high as we moved through the city. We hit our next beach objective and was given the instructions to move in quietly and unseen. We had cover till a certain point, but then had to low crawl to the objective point.
We were seen much earlier and had to start moving up the beach in groups. One group would move while the other group would provide “cover”. We sent our small team out to the objective point while the rest of the team attempted to provide cover for the team. Unfortunately, we were stuck behind a small pier and couldn’t provide good cover to the team. I found a lot of the movement and tactics really interesting. I really enjoyed that Ranger Jason had us thinking about the terrain and how to successfully cover our team. One of my favorite parts of a GORUCK is not only how it challenges the body but the mind as well. Ranger Jason told us how we could fix our situation and told us the next objective.
Our next objective was to go to Gillson Park and remove the enemy. This was a long movement through the city and I saw some of the nicest neighborhoods in Chicago. We also passed through Loyola University and Northwestern University. This was a rather long movement and I could see the energy of the team dropping a bit. At least we were getting an excellent view of the city this way! We eventually made it to Gillson Park in our time hack and started walking out as a team to cover the area. We eventually made it to the shoreline of Lake Michigan and back into the water we went. We sat in the water for a few minutes and were told to come out. We were given a 10 minute break, allowed to sit, put our rucks on the ground, eat, change socks, basically whatever we needed to do. Our 10 minute break became a 20 minute break and we all sprawled out on the beach and high grass. We also attempted to eat as much food as possible in order to lighten the load of the “candy bag”. Everywhere we went we had the candy bag, an extra ruck (our team weight), and a gigantic lightweight annoying buoy.
As our break comes to a close we all mentally prepare ourselves for more beach PT. Ranger Jason has tells us to get into formation in the grass and has us start doing pushups. No beach PT! After pushups, we are given our next mission which is to go to Wrigley Field about 10 miles away. This movement is when I started to have major doubts. We were creeping along at a snail’s pace while we had to do 20 minute miles to make our time hack and several members of the team were injured. It was probably about 2 in the afternoon as we started to move towards Wrigley so the team was about 18 hours into the event. The miles and physical activity was starting to really wear on everyone. So we frequently passed the team weight, the candy bag, and even the buoy.
While we were walking, I started to see things that reminded me of my husband, my dogs, my normal regular life. I wondered to myself, “Why am I doing this”, “Why did I pay for this”, etc. It was during this walk, I had the realization of how hard it must be to be a service member. I was feeling blue and just 18 hours in and knowing that I will get to go home anytime that I choose. So thank you to those who serve, to those who are deployed far from home, and those who gave all. While I was given a tiny, tiny slice that can’t be truly compared to what you go through…it did make me think and give me perspective. So at this point, I had to complete the event. What I was doing was nothing compared to what others had done, are doing, and will do.
Eventually, the team limped into Wrigley Field. We had missed our time hack by quite a bit, but Ranger Jason is a forgiving sort so he placed a new time hack. If we could get to Soldier Field, about 8 miles away, in a little over 2 hours we would be done. If we didn’t met this time hack, we would move to the beach and do PT. This meant keeping at least an 18 minute mile, but we really needed to keep a 15 minute mile. It was here we lost our last team member. He decided to quit as he was going to injure himself too badly as his job requires him to be healthy (might have been a firefighter, but can’t remember clearly at this point). Honestly, I was sad to see him go but didn’t want to stop as if someone makes the decision that they need to drop to stop from injuring themselves, I understand. As the sun started to set, the team moved off full of vigor. We wanted to be done and we knew what we had to do to be finished.
The movement was long and this is when my body started to break down some. My shoulders were screaming from carrying the ruck, my feet were hurting from moving for so long and it was getting hard to keep energy up for movement. I focused on the end and kept moving. I would not give up my ruck and I would not slow down. About a mile away from Soldier Field, Ranger Jason called a halt. We were given a moment to drink and relax while the team leaders received new orders. Ranger Jason wanted to end at the planetarium about a mile away. New time hack…make it to the planetarium in 15 minutes. I’ve never seen a group of people so motivated in my life. Several of the guys had the extra team weights and they didn’t change weight, they just moved with a sense of purpose to the end. This was the triumph of the night. The ability of the mind to decide it’s moving and the body to follow.
We made our time hack and was told that everyone had to make it up to the planetarium, touch the wall, create a security circle (everyone facing out), and the team leader would signal Jason when finished. While this doesn’t sound overtly difficult we had 5 huge steps (the smallest was above knee level on me) that we had to get the team up, run up to the planetarium about 100 meters away and then set up a circle. We were given 5 minutes. I knew the team could do this. It was all just about hustle. We moved the steps efficiently, everyone tagged the wall, and set up the circle. Our team leader gave a signal, but the signal he gave was wrong. He flashed Jason 6 times with the light when the agreed upon code was 3. So we had to do it again, but this time in 3 minutes. There was no complaining, just movement on this. We all knew what we had to do and we got it done. Team leader gave the correct signal and we were allowed to come down, sit on the giant steps, and lean back. We were finished.
Chicago Heavy class 014 was an incredible experience. I would do another Heavy if asked by someone close although I don’t think I will do one of my own accord again. Heavy really brought perspective as I mentioned before, but it also challenged me. It challenged me to really rethink my limits. Heavy also reminded me to relax and laugh when things don’t go well. Pushups in the waves? Laugh, smile and it’ll get a bit better.
Want to do a Heavy? Do it as it’s worth it.
A very big thanks to our shadows Kimmie and Rodrigo for the pictures!