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.
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 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.
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!