After qualifying for OCRWC in June, I used the rest of the races this season to get me ready to survive the future weekend in Blue Mountain, Ontario.

July

FINALLY! An OCR/Ninja gym has come to Wisconsin! Legendary Fitness brought to Milwaukee by Trevor and Sara Paull is exactly what so many of us OCR addicts in the area have been waiting for. We finally have a place to train for specific obstacles like Conquer the Gauntlet’s stairway to heaven obstacle, tarzan swings, salmon ladders, pegboard and rigs. Aside from now training at Legendary Fitness, I started July off with a trip to Denver and got some sweet hikes in with great views.

Then we made a trip as a team to support Lisa and LeEarl at Tough Mudder X. TMX is a beast of a course where 100 handpicked athletes were selected for the 1 mile race with 10 obstacles and 10 workouts. The race definitely catered towards OCR folks with CrossFit experience. I even did a practice run with Lisa and absolutely died.

July was a great month of training with the new mix of the ninja gym and doing CrossFit with Lisa to help her prep for TMX. To cap the month off, I ran Savage Race Chicago which I’d considered my first real race of the season, because of mandatory obstacle completion and the number of elite athletes.

Since I already accomplished my #1 goal of qualifying for OCRWC, I treated Savage Race as just another training day. Although the course was flat and I knew OCRWC was going to be on a mountain, they did emulate the grip strength exhaustion by placing most of their rigs near the end. They had the Savage Rig, monkey bars with pipe traverse, twirly bird, and mad ladders to finish the course. I breezed through the rig and monkey bar/pipe combo, but spent way too much time on twirly bird. My grip wasn’t exhausted, but I just kept letting go whenever I didn’t get a good grip on a hold. Only when I said to myself to stop overthinking it and treat it like I’m playing around at a ninja gym did I actually get through it.

The lesson there is to just trust in my training and that I’m just monkeying around and having fun.

August

August was a month of new experiences, new friends, and big wins! In the first weekend of August, the CrossFit Games took place. For the next three years, Madison, WI will be home to the CrossFit Games, so I’m super pumped about that. I have never seen so many fans of a sport that actually participate in it; and I can’t forget to mention how totally ripped everyone was. Usually at sporting events, it’s big beer bellies and spectators that are used to watching from their couches. Until this year, I had never really understood what CrossFit was until I tried it myself and now have seen it from a competitive perspective. I thought OCR was nuts, but these guys and gals are just as crazy!

In the same weekend on Saturday, the squad and I went to Conquer The Gauntlet Iowa! Last year, I was taken out by 3 obstacles: slackline, Stairway to Heaven, and Pegatron. My goal for CTG this year was to be able to just finish with my belt. CTG, in my opinion, has the hardest obstacles in all of the races I’ve been to. Fortunately, I’ve been putting in a lot of upper body work at Legendary Fitness.

The first tough obstacle of the race I encountered was their rig, and unlike other race series, CTG’s rig is one of the tougher ones. The rig has about a 6 foot gap between their holds instead of the usual 4 to 5 feet. CTG also uses more difficult holds like an upside down bowling pin, a banana grip, and tiny grenades. When I got to the rig, there was a pretty big line already, especially behind a lane that looked easier than the rest. And because it looked easier, I decided to hop in that line too, but I quickly found out that it was not easy at all!

Since I didn’t want to waste anymore time waiting in line, I decided to go for a harder lane – one with a bowling pin, banana, AND a grenade. The upside down bowling pin seemed impossible, but then I saw someone grab it in a way that I didn’t even think about! After seeing that, I was able to crush the obstacle and move on to the next obstacle: the dreaded slackline.

I’ve been working on my slackline balance in the few weeks before CTG, but it’s a whole different ball game with OCR shoes and mud. I spent a whole twenty minutes at the slackline before finally getting across! The next tough obstacle after slackline was Pegatron! I haven’t touched a pegboard for a full year up until that point. My first attempt failed, because I chose a lane that had a slight tilt that worked against me. My second attempt failed, because I tried using brute strength to get across. My third attempt was a success when I decided to implement Lisa’s technique of treating it more like monkey bars, so I swung underneath for each peg instead of traversing sideways. I can’t believe I got across Pegatron faster than I got across the slackline.

The last “difficult” obstacle of the race was going to be Stairway to Heaven which was a piece of cake! Because of how so much harder the Legendary Fitness version of Stairway to Heaven was, CTG’s didn’t even seem like a stopping point at all. With all of the tough obstacles conquered, I succeeded in keeping my belt! Goal accomplished!

The only other race I had in August was Rugged Maniac. It was a fun race and good time hanging out with everyone from Wisconsin OCR.

September

The month of September was focused on getting ready for OCRWC, so that meant doing a lot of things that I normally don’t do. I spent a bit more time training on the ski slopes with the squad. Since the race is on a mountain, getting a lot of laps on hills was going to be necessary. It was death, especially when we added wreck bag carries to the laps.

Running longer distances was going to be another challenge for me. All of my races since I started running OCRs were under 7 miles, and OCRWC was a 15K which is approximately 9.3 miles. I signed up to run Tough Mudder last minute, because it would force me to run 10 to 11 miles, since I knew I wouldn’t want to do it by myself. I couldn’t imagine running that far without friends and obstacles — it would be so boring.

I capped off September with a final race before OCRWC at Terrain Race Chicago. That was another fun race with just about EVERYONE in the OCR midwest community. It was a great time before we saw each other in two weeks in Canada.

 

And with that, concludes the training and qualification journey to OCR World Championships in Blue Mountain, Canada! It’s time to try and not die, but also to create new memories and experiences with amazing teammates!

It’s time for the long overdue update on my journey to qualify for OCWRC!! So long in fact that I’ll summarize the highlights by months.

March

The offseason training continued. Nothing out of the ordinary.

April

We started the month off with a road trip to Minnesota after a butt-kicking boot camp in Milwaukee. Yes! Since the weather has warmed up, weekend boot camps are back! In Minnesota, we went to Obstacle Academy to play on the ninja obstacles, and the day after, we went to the Spartan Workout plus another round of ninja training at Conquer Ninja. In April, Jay added some speed training on a track to the schedule. I ended the month in Salt Lake City for a conference, but kept up with the training: an awesome boot camp, runs around the city, and a hike to a great view point of the city.

May

It’s interesting how I’m able to keep up with my training when I travel, but as soon as I came back home, my routine was messed up and I slacked on working out. One thing I learned about myself is that when a deadline is approaching or pressure hits, I move into action. With my first race coming up this month, I started getting back into routine the week of the Warrior Dash in Wisconsin. Let the OCR season begin!

The Warrior Dash date happened to be the same day as my sister’s graduation, so I had extra motivation to run fast to gauge how my training in the offseason went. It was my fastest race time yet for an OCR, and the first time I kept an elevated heart rate throughout an entire race. I had never run competitively prior to this year, so this was definitely a new experience for me. Approaching obstacles with a higher heart rate was challenging, but Warrior Dash’s obstacles were on the beginner side of difficulty, so it wasn’t too bad.

The next race was a spontaneous registration for Midwest Mayhem hosted by Dirt Runner in Illinois. I wasn’t planning on going to this one, but that’s what having a good influence will do for you. Good friends will challenge you to step it up to the next level. This race really revealed my weaknesses to me. It’s a locally run race on a permanent course, so it was filled with heavy carries which I’ve found is my weakness. Being small is no excuse either, since Jay who’s even smaller than me, still crushed the carries. Another weakness that I discovered was my lack of ability to run downhill on technical terrain. The course was filled with steep hills which wrecked my calves. Overall it was a great race, but it was my worst performance yet for a race that was only 5 miles.

June

The month of June opened up with the Spartan Super in Chicago. This was going to be my first attempt at qualifying for OCRWC. Long story short, I died. Whether it was poor hydration or lack of healthy eating the week before, my calves cramped up really badly during the race. Obstacles were easy, including the new twister obstacle, besides the mandatory 30 burpees for missing the spear throw. Safe to say that I did not qualify that day.

The next weekend’s race was Terrain Race in Milwaukee. This race was probably the most impactful this season, because we had over 50 people in our group. From people seeking the podium to first-timers including my sister! Another bonus was that I was going to be taking it easy for this race, because I was having some inflammation in my knee, similar to my injury last year. Thankfully this time around, it healed by the following week. You can check out Jay’s review of Terrain Race MKE at the end of the post.

Attempt #2 at OCRWC Qualifications: Spartan Sprint Lambeau – Competitive Wave. The qualifications for OCRWC in Spartan Competitive is top 20 in your age group. With my knee feeling better, I was super pumped to run this next race for a lot of reasons: 1) It’s a stadium race.  2) It’s at Lambeau Field and I’ve been a Packer fan my entire life. 3) Stairs are a strength of mine. 4) My first OCR was a stadium race. 5) No mud to slow me down. 6) My younger cousins (ages 5, 8 and 11) are running the Spartan Kids Race.

I ran in the competitive wave with a lot of familiar faces starting in the same heat, so I felt good. We were sent out in waves of 10 to avoid back ups at obstacles. This was one of my first races where I felt comfortable pushing and keeping my heart rate elevated, especially when I kept seeing fellow racers like Jeff Frank from Wisconsin OCR, who started in the wave 1 minute ahead of mine. This let me know that I was keeping a good pace. I finished the race with 0 burpees. Yep! 0 failed obstacles which means I nailed the spear throw! This no doubt helped me get my fastest time ever in an OCR and I finished 8th in my age group.

I DID IT! I DID IT! I finally qualified for OCR World Championships! It felt so good achieving this goal that was set in October of 2016 due to massive FOMO from watching everyone’s live videos during last year’s world championships. Safe to say that I won’t be missing out this time! Definitely wouldn’t have been able to improve so quickly without the help of Jay, Lisa, and everyone else that has pushed me along this journey — whether it’s from bootcamps or during races.

Now with the qualification out of the way, the pressure has been lifted and now it’s time to focus on the next goal: Surviving OCRWC.

 

Terrain Race Review by Coach Jay

 

Womp womp womp…

After a pretty solid 16 weeks of training came a period of necessary recalibration. Week 17 (Feb 27) and week 18 (March 6) were two weeks where not much was done. I got a workout or two here and there, but my consistency just went out of the window. I only ran a total of 13.55 miles for the two weeks put together!

There were a few causes to this which taught me some things about myself. On both weeks, it was an open schedule which meant that it was up to me to figure out what I wanted to do each day since there weren’t any workouts assigned.

That was the first mistake. When it comes to my fitness, apparently I need a strict schedule to keep me on track. It’s likely one of the reasons why I failed at living a healthy lifestyle before I met Jay, because there was no structure in the beginning. So the solution is to always have a predetermined workout regimen set for the week beforehand.

What gets scheduled, gets done.

The second learning experience is the power of expectations. When it warmed up outside and I was able to start running outdoors, I had begun expecting that weather to continue. So when it became freezing outside again, my motivation went out the window, because my excitement to run outside was shot down.

There’s a story that illustrates how detrimental certain expectations can be. On an 18-hour overseas flight filled with entrepreneurs and business people, the passengers knew that they would not have internet or Wi-Fi for the majority of the flight. Nearing the end of the flight, the pilot comes on the speakers and announces that internet and Wi-Fi is now available, so the passengers were excited. However, after ten minutes, the internet cuts out. The passengers start complaining in a frenzy and are furious over the loss of internet.

How is it that these passengers were able to fly for the majority of an 18-hour flight without internet in peace, but once they were given internet for ten minutes and lose it, they go crazy?? It’s because of expectations not being met. They first had certain expectations at the beginning of the flight, which changed when the announcement was given. So when that new expectation had failed to be met, people were upset.

My expectations of having warm weather to run in held me back from continuing when the cold weather hit. My solution for this is to maintain the right expectations for myself AND to remember why I was pursuing this difficult path in the first place.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had poor training weeks and this won’t be the last, but at least I learned what needs to be done in order to set myself up for success.

As your competence increases, your confidence increases.

Day 1 (Monday, Feb. 20, 2017): Recovery Run (2 miles) + Chest & Shoulders

After that huge accomplishment last week with the 5K, I was feeling good! So I ran my recovery run at a 10 minute pace which is much faster than my usual easy run.

Day 2: Rest Day (Missed Day — Rest of the week offset by 1)

Day 3: Intervals [5 min WU, 2x(5 min @ TH +1 min recovery jog), 2 min recovery jog, 2x(5 min @ TH + 1 min recovery jog), 5 min CD]

I finished this tough run with a 10:00 pace with 3.72 miles!

Day 4: Easy Run (3 miles)

Finished with a 10:09 pace! The confidence just had me feeling good!

Day 5: 30 Minute Bike + Conquer Ninja

Road trip!! Jay, Lisa and I made our way to Minnesota to participate in the UNAA Qualifiers Ninja Competition. Well…they participated, I played around. From ninja-ing around, I noticed that I had a lot of technique I needed to progress on in terms of swinging and transitioning, which is going to be necessary for me to succeed on the upper body obstacles in races such as the rigs.

Day 6: Easy Run (3 miles) + Biceps & Triceps

Finished with another 10:00 minute pace for 3.07 miles. Wooh! My average pace for the entire week was around the 10:00 minute mark!

Day 7: Long Run (6 miles — Missed)

Noooo! The momentum came to a halt as I missed my last run of the week.

Overall, it was a great week! Because of the excitement from the previous week’s progression assessment, I wanted to challenge and push just a bit harder this week. The journey to OCR World Championship is trucking along!

You will never accomplish your goals if you can’t self-assess.

~Eric Thomas

Day 1 (Monday, Feb. 13, 2017): Rest & PiYo Upper Body

I hadn’t done some core work in a while, so I threw in a PiYo workout to spice it up! PiYo is a combination of pilates and yoga, so it was a perfect low-impact workout for this rest day.

Day 2: Easy Run (3 miles) & PiYo Lower Body

I found a trail! I found a trail! I finally found a trail near my house! I don’t know why it took me so long to find it, but I found a nice trail in my area for me to run on. I finished my 3 miles at a 9:58 pace and supplemented the run with a nice PiYo workout.

Day 3: Long Run (6 miles) & Leg Resistance Circuit

Woah dude! A long run in the middle of the week? Well…sort of. I got bored on the treadmill after the 5k mark (10:46), so I hopped off and took a leg day at the gym. It got cold outside, so I had to run indoors. Of course it gets cold right after I find a trail to run on.

Day 4: 30 Minute Bike

Day 5: Easy Run (3 miles)

A nice easy run at a 10:25 avg pace right before my…

Day 6: 5K Race!

Ohhh, so that’s why you “tried” to do a long run in the middle of the week. It’s time to measure my progress in my run training. Remember, my last 5K was 15 weeks ago with a 9:11 pace as my PR.

The race was held in a nice suburb of Madison, WI and the weather was perfect! The run overall was pretty challenging, because there were SO MANY hills! I finished the race with an average pace of…

8:25!!

Whaaaaaat! I ran the first mile under 8 minutes which is my fastest mile I’ve ever logged and to finish with an 8:25 pace blew my mind! The hard work is paying off especially with that kind of improvement in only 15 weeks!

Day 7: Rest Day

It’s hugely important to continue to measure progress. Not just measure the daily workouts, but also assess the changes based on milestones and PR’s. When you find things that are working, you stick to the process, but when you find that you aren’t getting the results you want, then it’s time to adjust. That’s why it’s imperative for you to track your results in anything you do.

 

Whenever there were group projects back in high school or college, I always hoped that there was someone in the group that was good at public speaking,
because I DID NOT want to be in front of the class.  The fear of messing up, looking foolish, getting made fun of and failing my group always plagued my thoughts when it came to public speaking.

However over the last two years, I’ve spoken in front of more people than I ever have in my life, so what changed? My mindset about fear changed.

Now I didn’t say I was any good when I started — in fact, I was terrible in the beginning, but I learned three things from my mentors that helped me shift my stinking thinking:

1. If it scares you, it means you should do it.

2. There is no growth inside your comfort zone.

3. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to START to be great.

Earlier this month I was asked to do a 4-hour training event in Chicago because the scheduled speaker, who’s also one of the top leaders in the company, wasn’t going to make it, so someone had to step up. Without hesitation, I said yes. Why? Because it scared the crap outta me and I had NEVER done anything like this before.

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!

~Richard Branson

It ended up being one of the most fun events I’ve ever attended. Amazing things happen when not only YOU are stepping outside of your comfort zones but when you are ENCOURAGING OTHERS to do so as well. I want to give a big shout out to the amazing people that put it together and I can’t wait to come back in the future!

It’s great to have a brand new car, but it’s useless without gas in the tank.

Day 1 (Monday, Feb. 6, 2017): Rest Day

After a slight misstep with the previous week’s Sunday workout, today was a “recollect myself” kind of rest day.

Day 2: Intervals [5 min WU, 4x(6 min @TH + 2 Min Recovery Jog), 5 min CD] & Shoulders + Triceps

I ran on an indoor track on this day — I get access to an athletic club on Tuesdays because I’m a volleyball sub (yes I’m totally taking advantage of the free access, even when I don’t play). I finished this hard run at a 10:25 pace with 4.03 miles. Finished it off with some free weight exercises to get me some boulder shoulders.

Day 3: Easy Run (3 miles)

I ran a 10:36 pace and then in the middle of it, I added a half mile 10 degree incline, because I was getting bored on the treadmill. Treadmill’s are the worst, but it’s necessary up here in the frozen tundras of Wisconsin.

Day 4: Rest Day

Day 5: Intervals [5 min WU, 5x(2 min @TH + 1 Min Recovery Jog), 5 min CD]

Second set of intervals this week! Fortunately, it was a very short run. I ran around my neighborhood which is a very hilly area. It also didn’t help that it was ridonkulously windy. I ran 2.44 miles with an average 10:23 pace. The big takeaway for me is that I need to practice running on more hilly areas, especially considering that Blue Mountain — where OCRWC 2017 will be held — is going to have a lot of climbing on the course.

Day 6: 30 Minute Bike

Day 7: Long Run (6 miles) & Adventure Rock Climbing

I went on a fun run in Milwaukee with Lisa and Jay for the 6 miles and finished with a 10:35 pace which is much faster than my usual long run pace. At Adventure Rock, we ran into a bunch of OCR friends including some elite racers, but things took a turn when one of the elite racers fell and injured herself. I always cringe and get woozy when I see injuries, so after seeing that AND the lack of food in my stomach, I ended up fainting…TWICE!

The last time I fainted was when I was giving blood and I had to fast beforehand. It was obviously caused by the lack of fuel that my body needed, especially after a 6 mile run! I was running on fumes and it caught up to me. Lesson of the week is to properly fuel yourself for the activities that you’re partaking in.

Boredom has an important function. because pushing through it can unleash creativity.

~Amy Dickinson

Day 1 (Monday, Jan. 30, 2017): Rest Day

Good ‘ol recovery day after the long run from last week.

Day 2: Easy Run (3 miles) & Volleyball

I ran a quick 3 miles at a 9:50 pace on an indoor track as a warm-up for the volleyball match! I love volleyball and I used to play in a league, but now I just play as a sub. I had to take a step back from volleyball to stay committed to my business and couldn’t commit to giving up evenings during the week. We crushed the other team 3-0! #SWEEP

I love playing other sports to spice up the fitness activities; it’s a great way to keep fitness fun.

Day 3: Strong Run (4 miles) & Back + Triceps

I was instructed to aim for a 10 minute pace, so I started at the 10 minute pace. Then I incremented by .1 mph at 2 miles, then at 3 miles. At 3.3 miles, I kicked it up to 6.5 mph and finished with an average pace of 9:48. I capped off the day with some free weight and machine exercises focusing on back and triceps.

I wanted to run PAST the finish line which is often necessary for quicker growth and results.

Day 4: 30 Minute Bike

Day 5: Rest Day

Day 6: Easy Run (3 miles)

Nothing too eventful here. I ran a 10:12 pace for the 3 miles.

Day 7: Long Run (6 miles) — Missed

Tsk tsk Anousone.

 

Overall this week wasn’t very eventful, but when things start to get a little boring, it’s important to add variety like playing different sports.

There is nothing as sweet as a comeback, when you are down and out, about to lose, and out of time.

~Anne Lamott

Day 1 (Monday, Jan. 23, 2017): Rest Day

Rest days aren’t just necessary to reset the body, but also to reset the mind.

Day 2: Intervals [5 min WU, 1 mile @TH, 2 min recovery jog, 1 miles @TH, 5 min CD] & Biceps/Shoulders

To get back on track, I had to push through a painfully difficult interval. I finished 2.96 miles at a 10:35 pace. I had trouble with what I thought was a cramp, but found out that it was a stitch. It’s pain in the upper right side of the abdomen which is caused by a strain on the diaphragm. I found that it happens to me when I either ate or drank too much before the run.

Day 3: 30 Minute Bike

Day 4: Easy Run (3 miles) & The Challenge

Ran the 3 miles with a 10:20 pace and then capped off the day with the push up & pull up challenge workout. I went for 8 push ups and 20 pull ups this round. Since I was pretty gassed out after the run, I died around the 4th round of exercises, but pushed through nonetheless.

Day 5: Rest & Yoga

This was much needed, because I was super stiff from the previous day!

Day 6: Intervals [5 min WU, 2 miles @ TH, 5 min recovery jog, 2 miles @TH, 5 min CD] & Play @ Abominable Snow Race

Abominable Snow Race was the first OCR of the year in Wisconsin. I didn’t race, but I decided to go with Lisa and my sister to hangout with the amazing OCR community. We got to hangout with Coach Pain and other elite OCR racers. We even went to play on the course (which was probably not allowed). We snow tubed, played on their version of a rig, and climbed the ski hills covered in snow!

I got home late, so I ended up doing the run at night and on a pretty full stomach. I ended up running 5.22 miles at an average of 10:07 pace. I had to walk some of the recovery portions of the interval runs, but overall it was a solid run.

Day 7: Long Run (6 miles) & Adventure Rock

This was the smoothest run of the entire week with a 10:42 pace. And to top it all off with some lovely rock climbing with lovely people!

 

There’s one thing to note about this week which I’ve labeled as a comeback week. I had to work harder and struggle more in the first few runs just to get back on track. By the end of the week, I was back to my normal state. The lesson: it is much easier to stay on track than to fall off and work twice as hard just to get back to where you were.

 

 

This week I stepped on to the wrong bus — the struggle bus.

Day 1 (Monday, Jan. 16, 2017): Makeup Run (5 miles)

The previous week, I fell off the boat and so this day was supposed to be a swim to return to the shoreline. My body wasn’t happy with me this day, so I wasn’t able to run. I ended up walking 5.2 miles on this makeup day.

Day 2: Intervals [1 mile easy, 2 miles @TH, 1 mile easy]

I ran 4 miles at an average 10:03 pace. Nothing too exciting here.

Day 3: 30 Minute Bike & Leg Resistance Circuit

A quote from my logs: “Now my booty is sore.” I think that says it all.

Day 4: Intervals [5 min WU, 10x(2 min @TH, 1 min recovery jog), 5 min CD] & 10 Minute Yoga w/ Tony Horton

I ended up missing the run due to exhaustion from work — which is why I recommend working out in the morning. This is a prime example of where I failed to listen to my own advice. However I did throw in a 10 minute yoga to at least get a minimum workout in.

Day 5: Rest Day & The Challenge

Initially, I intended to do a makeup run here, but I decided to just do the P90X3 Challenge workout with a target of 8 pull-ups / 19 push-ups for the 16 different exercises. I was having stomach problems the entire day and felt that a run would leave me looking like Mikael Ekvall (just google him if you don’t know who I’m talking about).

Day 6: Easy Run (3 miles)

Aaaaaaand…I missed this workout too.

Day 7: Long Run (6 miles) & Yoga

On my attempt to get back on track, I ran 3 miles and died. I speed walked for 1 miles before calling it. I capped off the week with a much needed yoga session to stretch and exhale all the terribleness from this week.

One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to share my journey is to show the highs and lows. As you can obviously see, this week was one of the lows. We are humans, and we aren’t perfect. We’re not here to be perfect, we’re here to PROGRESS.