Selection 000: After Action Review (AAR)
Cadre: Lou, Chris Don’t Call Him Donnie He Hates That, Patrick, Jason
Post Author: Matt Francev, one of eight finishers
What can I say that hasn’t been said before? By now everyone has read about the running, the swimming, the sit-ups, the push-ups, the flutter kicks, the constant physical beat down. Everyone has touched upon the mental aspect of it as well. Hopefully, I can give you some insight into my mind and my experience. First off, I was told by Brian Crabb that Lou and Jason chose the “biggest s**t talkers so we can f**k with them for 48+ hours.” If you’ve done a Challenge (which if you’re reading this on the GRT page then you have . . . .) you know that questions are encouraged after the welcome party and there’s an attitude where you can enjoy the time spent, especially if this GRC isn’t your first round at the rodeo. Selection IS NOT a challenge. Well, it is. It’s 4 non stop challenges. I don’t want to get into the details of the event, because it’s something that should be experienced by everyone who wants to do one. Granted, what I tell you here won’t apply to the DC Selection or even the Jacksonville Selection. The cadre are not your friends. Yeah, they knew us; some of us (names withheld for ambiguity) better than others for various reasons . . . . wheelchairs, diapers, walkers, Werther’s Originals, pacifiers, et cetera . . . . . but that did not matter. The cadre shift back to being your friend once you’re done with Selection, be it VW, IVW, Med Drop, or by completing Selection. Until that point, you’re at their mercy.
You chose to sign up for Selection. You think you have what it takes to finish. If you think you have what it takes to finish, you won’t finish. Straight up. Going into Selection Screener, I had no doubt in my mind that I would finish. I had to keep telling myself that there was no way I would get back on a plane to Los Angeles without completing it. Yeah, the patch is symbolic, but it doesn’t mean shit. It’s a 2×3 piece of Velcro backed cloth. What means everything is what you get out of Selection. I was prepared to go to some deep, dark recesses of my mind and explore myself. I did. I learned more about myself and my teammates. I made the mistake of suggesting to the team that on our first “It pays to be a winner” event we come in as a team. Great idea, but we paid for it. Sorry, guys. I don’t regret it though, because it solidified us and reminded us that we’re all in this together. The bonds, experiences, challenges, triumphs, (momentary) defeats all helped to shape the event.
The physical aspect is no joke. I, like everyone else, came in with some preexisting condition. Mine was just getting over walking pneumonia. Sorry to lie to you Patrick when you asked if we had any injuries. I’m not a gym rat or a CrossFitter (sorry guys who are and who were on the team), but I have my “workout” routine. I run; however, I don’t like it. I loathe running. I ran in high school to make weight for wrestling. I ran a lot in college while playing rugby. Once rugby ended, I stopped. I’ve never lifted a weight in my life. I prefer to work out utilizing my body weight, or various things I find. For Selection Screener I knew that there would be a ton of walking, running, and rucking. I did all that I could to get my legs and feet in shape. I rucked. A lot. I’d load up a GR2 and go hiking with around 60-80 pounds. I’d log anywhere from 5-30 miles on a trip. The cadre PT’d us like there was no tomorrow. And then some more after that. A lot of sand PT. A lot of water PT. A lot of PT in general. I can’t stress enough how important it is to train for this. You can’t just walk into Selection and think you’re gonna be fine because you won’t. You need to be prepared physically. There’s no way around it. You need to run, ruck, swim, and do every kind of “welcome party” exercise you know. And do them a lot. Even when you’re by yourself. At home, at work, on the street, on the sand, in the ocean. If you’re physically prepared that’s one less demon to battle. But, at some point the physical hits you. There’s no way around it.
Your feet are your wheels. They carry you everywhere (literally). The best piece of advice I read from Dan Plants was to put your new boots on, get them wet and start rucking in them. Get blisters so your feet toughen up. Let your boots conform to your feet. Get your boots broken in early. Become one with your boots and your running shoes. You want to be able to spend countless hours rucking under a weighted ruck. It sucks sometimes going out alone for 12-18 hours of rucking, but you’ll thank me for it. And more importantly, so will your feet.
The mental. What can I say that hasn’t been said? You have to be 100% mentally prepared. If you even say that worst 4 letter word (here’s a hint: it starts with the letter ‘Q’ and rhymes with quit) you’re done for. NEVER LET THAT THOUGHT ENTER YOUR MIND. I can honestly say that it never entered my mind. Even when everything was sucking, I never let that virus into my body. Once you do, you’re done. You might as well VW. Quitting is not an option. You don’t want to quit on yourself, but you don’t want to quit on your team. You will discover more about yourself than you had ever hoped for. You will learn what you are capable of doing. Sleep deprivation will make you see some crazy things, think some outlandish thoughts, but you must power through it. It’s a mental game. You need to tell your body to piss off and stop making internal bitch noises. Guys like the cadre have had to do way more, and at times because their lives depended on it. You’ll learn to not only suffer in silence, but also support yourself and your team in silence.
The biggest thing that helped me was this: I knew I wouldn’t quit because I didn’t want to let my team down. Also, if I quit, that opened the door for Mark Webb to quit because we made a pact that he wouldn’t quit until I quit, and I knew I wouldn’t quit. It’s a huge mental game of chess that you have to learn to play with your mind. There was a point that I knew (even if I had no strength to do so) I’d carry every last teammate out to the finish. At a point, there was no way I was going to allow the team to lose another member. And smile. You gotta smile and love this s**t. After all, you signed up for it. I’m a naturally happy guy who smiles a lot; although, I’m sure Kit got some photos of me grimacing. Webb and I would often smile at each other and I tried to smile at the rest of the team. It’s a small gesture that means so much. It gives them hope, which in turn gives you hope.
There’s nothing more I can say that you haven’t heard. If you truly want to, sign up and experience Selection. If not, no worries, you’re no less of an individual. And I know that all of us were completely overwhelmed at the support we were getting. I haven’t had a chance to fully look through the posts on Facebook, but, what I saw made me teary eyed. Y’all have no idea how important that was to us.