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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

 

The first week of any fitness challenge or journey is one of the most important weeks, because it sets the tone for the entire adventure. It’s the most challenging week physically, but it’s the easiest week mentally. It’s when new habits start forming, bad habits start getting weeded out, and baselines get established. It’s the easiest week mentally, because that’s when you’ve got the most excitement, and you haven’t been burnt out or worn down by the difficulties of the challenge yet.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

~Jim Ryun

This first week for me pushed far out of my comfort zone for running. Because 1) I hate running (for now), and 2) I’m not a great runner (for now). My workouts that we’ve got set up for me consist of P90X3 and a mixture of different runs: intervals, long runs, and hill repeats. I had never done any kind of training for running before so this was all new to me!

Based on my current running experience (almost none), Jay set me up with some running paces.

  • Easy Run (can hold a conversation and run): 11:00
  • Threshold (TH): 9:35
  • Long Run: 11:45

So here’s what I did for Week 1 of my 48 weeks until OCR World Championships!  (starting on Monday, November 7, 2016)

Day 1: Rest Day + X3 Total Synergistics

Rest day?! One of my favorites! I’m an expert at napping, so that was a fun start to my training! The last few months, I’ve really fallen behind in my workout routines. I went from six workouts a week to two a week. From a mix of vacationing in Cancún to business all over the U.S., I’ve been a bit out of balance. So this delay in training was nice for me to just get back into the flow of having a workout routine, because although I didn’t have to run, I still had to workout!

Total Synergistics is a full body workout using both body weight and free weights. It’s a combination of strength, core and balance training. It’s one of my favorites from the P90X3 program.

Day 2: Easy Run (2 miles) + X3 Agility X

My first scheduled running workout is an easy run for 2 miles! I did the run on a treadmill with a 2 degree incline to make up for not running outside. I think it’s time for me to move down south because it’s getting cold up here in Wisconsin!

Agility X, one of my least favorites because I’m just not a fan of doing agility/cardio exercises by myself. Definitely way more fun with other people. However, Tony Horton does crack me up, so that helps. And laughing adds an ab or two right?

Day 3: Easy Run (4 miles) + Hills (8x) + X3 Yoga

Ran at a nice park called Elver Park in Madison, WI. The hill there is also where the Wisconsin Men’s Basketball Team likes to go train, so I thought that if it was good enough for them that it was good enough for me. Unfortunately, it’s that time of year where the sun sets way too early so after I ran my first two miles, I saw that it was getting dark. So I headed for the hill which was enormous! I was only able to run up the full hill once. For the rest of the hill runs, I was only able to run up half way and walk the rest of the way up. By the time I was done with the hills, it was too dark to even see my feet, so I didn’t run the last two miles.  Logged those 2 miles at a 10:16 pace.

X3 Yoga is the bee’s knees! It’s great for stretching out those tight muscles while also training your core and balance.

Day 4: Easy Run (2.5 miles) + X3 The Challenge

I ran 3 miles on a 1 degree inclined treadmill at a 10:31 pace. Notice that I’m not great at following instructions…

The Challenge is a workout that is filled with different variations of pull ups and push ups. This is going to be a key workout for the obstacles in the races.

Day 5: Rest Day + X3 CVX

Rest? You don’t have to tell me twice. I’ve never in my life run this many days consecutively, so this was a nice breather for me.

CVX is cardio with weights. Add this to my list of workouts that kick my butt.

[easy-tweet tweet=”When it comes to working out, I’d rather get my butt kicked than to always kick butt.”]

Day 6: 5k Race + Ninja Gym!!

I had never run a “normal” 5k race before, so this was all new to me! I was invited by Lisa Nondorf to come run this 5k/10k race for Lung Cancer Awareness in Chicago. There I met some awesome fellow OCR racers and had an awesome time at the race, even though it was a little chilly. I finished the race with a 28:28 time w/ a 9:11 pace, so Jay’s predictions about my training paces were spot on!

The race overall was pretty flat, and I spent most of the time trying to dodge the ten year olds that were zipping by me. How do they have so much energy?! Halfway through the race, I started wishing that I didn’t put on so many layers, but at least I was pleasantly distracted by the elk that we ran by. Yes, elk (we ran in a forest preserve for elk). I ended up placing 2nd in my age group (Men’s 21-40). Sure there wasn’t a huge competitive turn out for my age group, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take this W for my first 5K!

If you can’t enjoy the small wins in life, not only will you not be able to enjoy the big success, you’ll never even reach it.

After the race, we grabbed a hearty brunch and headed to the Chicago Ninja Academy. I’ve been meaning to go to this ninja gym for a while, so I was super pumped to finally go, and I was blown away! It was essentially a playground for adults! From different kinds of swinging grips to balance beams, ninja steps to warped walls, climbing ropes to a spider wall, it had everything! The best form of working out is play!

There I finally figured out how to lache, which is a full launch from one monkey bar to the other with both hands releasing simultaneously. That’ll definitely come in handy for the obstacle rigs with larger gaps, especially since I don’t have a large wingspan. Day 6 was an amazing training day; I wouldn’t even call it training. It was a play day with awesome OCR friends.

Day 7: Long Run (5 miles)

Following the trend of not doing what I’m told, I ran 6.1 miles instead. It’s hard to tell entrepreneurs what to do, that’s why we don’t like having bosses. Although to be successful in life, we still have to be coachable and have mentors, so we do listen…sometimes. Fortunately, Coach Jay is also an entrepreneur so he completely understands! I did however run this at an 11:45 pace like I was supposed to. I’ve never run 6 miles nonstop in my life so this in itself is a personal accomplishment!

 

The first week of OCRWC training is in the books! I had never run this many miles in one week either! The most I had probably run prior was 7 miles, and that’s because I ran a 6 mile OCR! In week 1, I logged a total of 16.1 miles! Holy crap!

Like I said before however, the first week of any challenge is the easiest, because it’s when we’re most excited. I’m so glad you’re joining me on this crazy journey, and I’m super excited to see what the next 47 weeks has in store for me!