Team US Training in LA With Alexander Skarsgard
Margaux Mange | September 10, 2013
Hello Everyone! Team US has just returned from a quick weekend of training in Sunny California. I canâ€™t believe that Summer 2013 has already ended, meaning our journey to the South Pole is just around the corner. There is still so much work to be done.
I arrived in beautiful California on 31 August 2013. As soon as I arrived I could feel the dry heat of 85Â°F (30Â°CÂ )Â greet me as I got off the plane. Along with the heat, Inge, our favorite Norwegian, was at LAX to greet me.
I knew Inge was in charge of our weekend training plan, and since you never know what to expect, I played it safe and went to bed earlyâ€¦ well, early by Pacific Standard Time.Â My body clock and thoughts were still on Eastern Standard Time.
I knew my family was at home, fast asleep as they were three hours ahead.
I miss reading to my little one at night. I have most of those childrenâ€™s books memorized by now, but every once in a while a new one creeps into the collection and I find myself having to imagine a new story line.
One day my little one will realise that I canâ€™t actually see the wordsâ€¦ I often wonder how that conversation will go. That will be a complex tale to tell, but for now, I find comfort in simpler stories, such as â€śNot the Hippopotamusâ€ť and â€śDuck and Goose: Goose needs a hug.â€ť
The next morning Inge and I welcomed Margaux to LA with a 2.5 hour long workout at a local gym. Mark and Therese missed out on the fun. They arrived that afternoon.
On 2 September 2013, Team US departed the hotel, stocked with trail mix and water as we headed up to Malibu. My team was great with their descriptions of the scenic drive up the pacific highway as I imagined the wide depth of view of the Pacific Ocean.
We arrived in Malibu at a beautiful horse ranch, owned by Ingeâ€™s friend Klaus. It was at this ranch we met for the first time the newest, and final, addition to WWTW Team US; actor Alexander Skarsgard.
What a great complement to our team! I am even more confident that we have a winning combination now.
That morning we all sat for breakfast and then embarked on a four hour hike up some California switchbacks. Alex immediately connected with each and every member on the team during the hike. On our way back, we accidently trespassed onto Klausâ€™ neighborâ€™s property. He seemed a bit upsetâ€¦ we did our best to reason with him, but got nowhereâ€¦ so Mark threw out the typical excuse…Â â€ťThe blind guy was leading the hike!â€ť Blame it on the blind guy. I always have to take the fall, however, if Iâ€™m honest, I never did like those no trespassing signs.
It must have worked, as we managed to leave the property unscathed!!! However, no shortcuts for Team USâ€¦. we had strict orders to retreat in the direction we came.
This day, 2 September 2013, was special to me, as it marked my 7th year of my alive date. It has been 7 years since that day in Yousifiyah, Iraq, when I was on the rooftop and struck by two 82 mm Mortar rounds that killed two men in my unit and left me severely injured. This anniversary date was a roller coaster ride of emotions and thoughts. I could not stop thinking about Sgt Ralph Porras and PFC Justin Dreese.
I think of Ralph and his family that he left behind. My thoughts were of Justin and his family. I wondered how they are coping with this date.
I thought about everything that has happened in the last 7 years, the good, the bad, the heartaches and pain. I thought of all the things I have been able to achieve and overcomeâ€¦but then I am stopped by dark emotions of what the next seven years will be like, living as a blind man.
How much more darkness can be endured?
What struggles and difficulties will I encounter?
And, most importantly, will I continue to remain mentally strong as I take on each of these struggles?
I thought about that day on the roof topâ€¦. what could have or should have happened that would have changed the outcome of those two men? Where would I be right now if I wasnâ€™t blind? I have a constant wonder on the purpose of my life and why I was spared that day? As with anyone who has survived a tragedy, it is a struggle not to succumb to survivorâ€™s guilt but find a way to honor those lives lost by finding a way to move forward, always carrying their memories etched in our hearts.
Finally, the day passed and it was 3 September and Team US moved forward and yet another hike. This time we had our eyes opened for No Trespass signs.
The temperature was quite hot! I am sure this is a phrase that will NOT be uttered in a few months. After our hike, we had lunch, we all did one or two interviews as well as core exercises led by Inge.
He wanted to make sure we had a full body work out before heading off to the airport.
A mere seven hours later I arrived back in NC. It was good to be home, even if only for a few days.
This past weekend in LA was a great experience for Team U.S. It gave us another chance to bond and continue to experience and gain knowledge in each others strengths and weaknesses. I always appreciated my team coming together and acting as my guide during these training sessions.
In closing, I believe the US team is shaping up nicely! We are dynamic. We all bring certain strength that makes it quite unique.
Now that we have Alex to complete our teamÂ I am confident we are on our way. Alex is genuine, easy to talk to, and displayed his willingness to be a team player. Heâ€™s not afraid to get his hands dirty and was eager to train in order to be an asset… and an asset he will be as he is in excellent physical condition!
Next up, Norway. I am looking forward to meeting up with all the teams!