The Record-Setting Life of Mike McCastle


McCastle’s mother, Gloria, an Air Power nurse initially from the Philippines, was demanding and protecting throughout his childhood in Illinois and New Mexico. He was nearer in identity to his father, an Air Drive law enforcement officer from Louisiana: easygoing, gentle-spoken, fascinated in the metaphysical as substantially as the corporeal.

Raymond McCastle Sr. struggled with a vast variety of well being troubles, which include Parkinson’s, cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. But he endured it all with astonishing power and grace. “My dad was a fighter,” McCastle states.

When McCastle and his older sister were young, Raymond read through them philosophy: Plato, Nietzsche, and Viktor Frankl. He was in particular fond of the Stoics—Seneca, Marcus Aurelius—and Epicurus, who all believed that self-regulate and fortitude have been the route to residing a virtuous and meaningful daily life. “It was way over my head,” McCastle states. “It wasn’t till I was more mature that I could recognize and in fact see what the lessons were being and truly utilize them.”

McCastle’s parents separated when he was 7. In higher school, he moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, with his father. (His sister was presently out of the dwelling.) Raymond’s overall health was deteriorating promptly, and he essential support with fundamental duties like shaving and bathing. It was a massive accountability for the teenage McCastle.

For the duration of his junior 12 months, McCastle arrived property from basketball observe a person day to come across his father collapsed on the kitchen area floor of their small condominium. He couldn’t communicate and his entire body was convulsing. Combating off panic, McCastle gave his father an insulin injection and identified as 911. The ambulance took an eternity.

McCastle stop the basketball group the next day. “I felt like it was my fault,” he says. “I really should have been there.”

As Raymond’s well being declined, he saw the toll it was taking on his son. Raymond had two daughters and a son from a earlier relationship, and one of McCastle’s half-sisters, who lived in Chicago, available to take around his care. Raymond agreed to move in with her so his youngest son could transfer on with his daily life. McCastle required to join the Navy when he finished higher school. His father supported him, but it was however the toughest determination he had at any time designed. “I felt like I abandoned him—like I was operating absent.”

In the Navy, McCastle worked as an air site visitors controller, a high-tension position that put him in charge of the safety of thousands of folks each working day. He figured out how to execute underneath stress and compartmentalize his thoughts. Meanwhile, health and fitness and energy coaching turned an obsession. He labored out just about every single day, jogging, lifting weights, and performing calisthenics, with extensive hikes and kayak paddles in concerning. In 2012, he passed a brutal examination consisting of push-ups, pull-ups, operating, and swimming that permitted him to test out for the SEAL method in San Diego. But significantly less than two months into the two-thirty day period training period of time that adopted, he took a terrible soar through a beach operate and blew out both of those his knees. He was devastated.

“I lost my id,” McCastle claims. “I felt like nobody.” He began consuming, acquired 30 pounds. Despite the fact that he was never diagnosed with melancholy, he thinks he would have qualified if he had sought expert assist. “There’s a stigma hooked up to psychological well being challenges in the military wherever it is viewed virtually as a weak spot,” he suggests. “It was like, you just suck it up, you get the work performed.”

The worse he felt, the a lot more McCastle isolated himself from buddies and relatives. He was sinking. “I appeared in the mirror and believed, this is not a person my dad would be very pleased of,” he says.

Pushing his system to its restrict was the a person issue that built him really feel the most alive. He commenced wanting for something challenging, a obstacle that could be just out of his get to. He had hardly ever run a marathon but felt guaranteed he could entire a single. So in late 2013, McCastle determined to run 50 kilometers all-around Lake Union in Seattle. To make it about much more than just proving himself bodily, he resolved to dedicate the run to elevating revenue for cancer research at Seattle Children’s Hospital. It experienced been just around a 12 months since his knee accidents. Still, he chose to operate with a 40-pound vest on, to symbolize the fat of a baby battling cancer.

For McCastle, the physical pain and mental soreness of the Labors are both the issue and beside the stage.

His knees held out and he finished in beneath 5 hrs. The good results pushed back again the darkness and still left him with a new emotion of liberty and objective. The operate didn’t transform him into a SEAL, and it did not enable his ailing father. But it was anything. It aided a person. “The bring about was the important,” he states.

McCastle remembered his father reading him the Greek fantasy of the Twelve Labors of Hercules. As the tale goes, Hera, the queen of the gods, designed Hercules go briefly crazy and get rid of his wife and children. When he recovered his sanity, Hercules was tasked with completing a sequence of feats so difficult they appeared not possible. His reward for ending was absolution—and immortality.

McCastle had heard tales about true folks accomplishing incredible factors when the instant demanded it— mothers who lift autos off their younger children trapped beneath, canine entrepreneurs who battle off bears to help save their animals. How substantially could he experience, he wondered, in the assistance of other people? He determined he would produce 11 much more tasks of his own, each just one as near to impossible as he could conceive, and every tied to a charity. For variety two, he set his sights on the planet file for the most pull-ups in 24 several hours: 4,030, set by Navy SEAL David Goggins. This a person would be committed to the Wounded Warrior Challenge, a charity and assistance corporation for wounded veterans. He experienced for 6 months, creating his way up to 1,500 pull-ups a working day.

His mother was in the crowd when he designed his try in a general public park on Whidbey Island, Washington, in July 2014. The initially thousand pull-ups went fantastic. But shortly soon after he passed 2,000, the tendons and muscle mass in his arms commenced to fall short. He saved likely. Some donations ended up based mostly on his hitting selected benchmarks. But it wasn’t just that. “My delight and panic wouldn’t allow me quit,” he says. Day turned to dusk. All through rest breaks, he viewed his urine flip as dim as barrel-aged whiskey. His overall body was breaking down his ruined muscle mass tissue and flushing it out by way of his circulatory program, a issue called rhabdomyolysis that can direct to kidney failure and dying.

After 17 hours, McCastle experienced to halt. He had finished 3,202 pull-ups, far significantly less than his objective. His entire body was so wrecked he needed 4 times in the medical center. His mother sat with him and they viewed the information on Tv set: Sailor hospitalized following pull-up challenge—after this split.

Even even though McCastle raised above $10,000, it felt like SEAL schooling all about yet again. All he could believe about was that he had unsuccessful. “It was about me and my moi,” he claims. Now even the 50-kilometer operate seemed self-serving, a lot more about proving something to himself than helping others.

He imagined about the notion of amor fati, or “love of destiny,” 1 of the several Latin phrases he’d absorbed from his father’s readings. A pillar of Nietzsche’s philosophy, it signifies accepting, even embracing, failure and struggling as aspect of existence, and working with them as prospects to find out and mature.

On McCastle’s second working day in the medical center, a teenager in a wheelchair rolled into his space. He was waiting for an organ transplant, McCastle recalls. The kid apologized for displaying up unannounced, but he preferred to say how substantially the pull-up attempt experienced influenced him.

“He didn’t care about the file,” McCastle states. “I saw that even in failure, I could however effect people today in a constructive way. It was an epiphany.”

McCastle felt his thinking change as his physique recovered. “I no lengthier had some thing to establish as a result of the actual physical labor alone,” he states. “I could focus far more on the trigger and the objective behind it. Even if I unsuccessful, I was Alright with it.”