AAR Team Assessment - Part 10: EndEx

Rolling Rolling Rolling

It’s funny how we went from anticipating tackling the apparatus phase to just wondering if the addition of the wheels was going to make it suck more or less. Turns out the wheels did make it not terrible to lift and pull but steering was another matter. 

We had to assemble what we started calling “The Cart” first and that went quickly. It’s a pretty straight forward design afterall. We loaded a 40# sandbag (the Competitive female teams got a 60# I think) and were told to go to the river and back. The top teams had to take a lap around the field but all of them were still handling everything like a boss. I think the cadre didn’t want to wait all day for us to finish a lap. 

Going down The Hill was a little tricky but we managed not to run over anyone or get run over ourselves. (The sandbag had to come down separately.) We quickly decided that titling the two bars up at a steep angle and resting them on our shoulders was the most efficient way of going. Steering was a lot like driving a flat cart at Lowes in that it took some effort to correct if you went too far to one side or the other. We made pretty good time, all things considered. 

While we were taking the apparatus cart for a spin, everyone that had finished (the top teams) was “enjoying” some PT with JC in the sunny part of the yard. We soon realized that they were going to keep it up until everyone joined them. 

You Gotta Earn It

Having completed an HTL with JC, I am familiar with his belief that you can’t just line up to get a patch at the end. You have to finish strong. You have to earn it. And how you earn it is with some reps and a fair amount of strong encouragement to do it right. 

When we joined the line everyone was doing ruck overhead holds. Here’s the thing about PT. Everyone has that one or two exercises that they are good at even when they are tired. One of those for me is locking out overhead. We had to stand there waiting for everyone to get their rucks up because the top teams had been getting smoked for some time now. It was pretty warm in the sun and I felt bad that their PT session was long due to how slow we finished our evolutions. 

I didn’t bask in my ability to hold my ruck up because I knew more was coming. JC called for low crawls and I was in trouble. I literally could not bend my leg that I’d strained the IT band on. I did a controlled fall to get on the ground and then tried to crawl. My leg was on fire so I started only using my right side with Shannon encouraging me. Unfortunately that meant we were slower even than usual...which meant we got noticed by the cadre. I was tuning them out pretty well but I start to panic when the team is waiting on me. Sure enough they had the whole class waiting on my gimpy self. 

Walking Wounded

Crab walks are the one exercise that Shannon despises. I’m not a fan either since my triceps always lock up when I do them. We had a running joke that if, at any point during the event, they called for crab walks then Shannon would immediately say “I’m out.” 

After the low crawls, they called crab walks. I started to fall apart and couldn’t hold back the tears. I knew she wasn’t going to actually quit but my leg wouldn’t hold my weight. We got permission to scoot along on our butts. Shannon said that it’s a good thing I was injured so she didn’t have to quit right before Endex. 

Hurry Up

We formed a single line and started bear crawling around the yard. We were near the end of the line and I was keeping up okay despite the pain. That was until I looked up and suddenly Jen was 10 yards away. The accordion nature of the starting and stopping made me instantly the one keeping everyone waiting. Again.

The rest of the class was standing in a squat position while I made my way over to the formation. Not being able to bend your leg does not make for a fast bear crawl. Eventually we made it to the formation and joined to with my best attempt at a squat. 

Endex Emotions

Even when I’ve finished challenging HTLs or Star Courses, I’ve never felt as emotional as I did at Team Assessment Endex. Mocha Mike’s speech had me fighting tears. I was relieved and overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe I’d finished something so grueling and brutal. Going in, I had no doubt I could do it but there were many times during the event that I just didn’t see how my body was going to be able to keep going. When we were patched, I was so proud and so happy for everyone that had completed this elite level challenge. 

Standing there I loved seeing everyone that had gutted it out and conquered their demons. I’m so damn proud of every man and woman that finished that event. I’m grateful to the cadre for recognizing that there were Competitors and then there were those of us in “The Rec League”. That the cadre let us continue showed their belief in the value of doing the work without giving in, even if we were doing it slower than the top teams. 

Our fellow Star Course teammate and Shannon’s sister-in-law, Amy Troutman, asked us on the way home “At what point did you know that you’d make it? That you had it in the bag and were going to finish?” Honestly, not until that patch was in my hand. We truly went from evolution to evolution knowing that it could be the last one. We could do down with an injury or get our third performance strike and get dropped. I felt some relief going into the CulEx evolution knowing that it was almost over but I didn’t feel that we were going to finish for sure until we actually did. 

I’m so happy the cadre didn’t let us quit. I’m so proud that Shannon was my partner and we lived through this together. And I’m so grateful to everyone that affirmed our motivations and goals by saying we inspired them and that they knew we would finish.That patch means something different to each person that finished. In some ways, it might even mean more to some than to other finishers. 

For me, I’ve never actually lived the “when you think you’re done you’re only at 40%” so completely. I’ve given birth to three kids (two naturally) and I can safely say this event is the only thing that has come close to that - both in pain, endurance, and pride when it’s over. Knowing we’d finished such a grueling challenge with so many of our friends watching on live feed was nothing short of surreal. I kept saying to Shannon “Holy S%#! We finished Team Assessment!”

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