Fitness Training and Obstacle Racing

OCR World Championships

It’s difficult to put into words how the OCR World Championships went down for me. There is both a sense of accomplishment and many feelings of disappointment from failed obstacles. Failing an obstacle and giving up (handing in my band) was very difficult to do. When I had to face the truth that I wasn’t going to be able to beat the BattleFrog Platinum rig they set up, I had been working on it for over 30 minutes and my forearms were done.

When I look at the medals I received for finishing the race, I don’t see them as an accomplishment, but as a reminder not to leave any holes in my training. Leading up to the World Championships, I had not failed a single obstacle in a race. The only thing that has ever slowed me down was my running. So naturally I put all the time and energy I had into improving my running and getting better at running hills. I can’t look at that plan as a waste of time because I did improve my running by a good margin and although I failed my goal to finish the World Championships properly, I still kicked butt on the hills. That’s the positive I am taking away from this experience.

About a week prior to the event I knew I was in trouble with my grip strength. Our team completed our final team session involving our ninja grip line and a number of gripping obstacles. While carrying things hasn’t been a big problem, transferring my weight from object to object for some reason has been and I didn’t realize it until the session before the OCR World Championships. But I convinced myself there was nothing I could do at that point (and there wasn’t) and I went into the race feeling mostly confident.

The 15km Long Course

We arrived at the venue on Friday evening with the main 15km race set for Saturday morning and the Team Relay set for Sunday morning. We received our athlete bags and t-shirts and checked out some of the obstacles. Of course you couldn’t help but read or hear about a good number of people that failed to complete obstacles that morning at the 3km short course (we elected not to do this one).

The venue was awesome. I can’t say I’ve been to a better one. The village had a load of things to check out and eat and the best parts of the race course could be seen from there (the hills and the obstacles). There were a few hidden tough obstacles at the top of the mountain but you could take the chalet up the mountain with an athlete pass and check it out. But it was late enough in the evening and we were hungry so we skipped the top of the hill view.

The morning of the race I felt good. All our team members raced at different times since we were all in different age groups. The athletes at the event almost exclusively looked like they are in good shape (and they were). We were up against the best that the OCR community had to offer and there was a boat load of very fast athletes led by winner Jon Albon (1) and Ryan Atkins (2).

The gun went off and the race went pretty well for the first km. But the first major obstacle (a large wall with a rope full of mud you had to climb) took a lot of energy out of me and killed the lead I had generated over some of the OCR Academy athletes I was secretly competing against. I failed it over and over and thought I was toast very early on. It took me a few tries and the retry lane finally getting set up for me to get across it. I also had to learn a slippery, muddy wall technique to get over it because my usual strategies weren’t working (this type of obstacle is normally not that tough).

The race went on and I succeeded through all the obstacles. Up and down the mountain I went (we had to go up and down five times) and I crushed the mountain. I had a few scares when my legs cramped up and I thought I was toast, but some salt tabs I had with me along with energy gels and water quickly flushed my legs and had me back up to full speed (some people were laying on the side of the course writhing in pain from the cramps they were experiencing).

My doom came in the last couple km’s when I reached the BattleFrog platinum rig. I made it all the way through the rig until the second last obstacle, leaped for the bell and just missed it. Unfortunately, when I tried again I felt the strength gone from my arms and I failed again. This went on and on until I gave up my band because I couldn’t even grip the rope. After that, I failed obstacle after obstacle with no strength to hold myself up. It was a very disappointing finish to a strong race. If I had nailed the bell on my first try, I think I would have been successful until the end of the race and probably 45 minutes faster. But it wasn’t meant to be.

I crossed the 15km finish line disappointed in myself and an hour and a half to wait for the next member of the OCR team to cross the line (Shawn).

I tried to pump myself up and shake it off but it wasn’t meant to be in that moment. Eventually the team finished and I set my sight on the next day. With Alec having a really hard time on the mountain running and my hard time on the obstacles, we switched it up for the team relay. I was set to do the run (which turned out to have 16 obstacles) and Alec would do the hard technical obstacles while Shawn was our strength man and Stephen our motivator.

On a side note, my awesome race team bought me an OCR World Championship jacket in thanks to the work I put in managing the team. That really perked me up Saturday night leading into Sunday’s race.

The Team Relay

The Sunday race kicked off and I found myself in last place on the run. How did that happen? I was up against some fast runners, there was no doubt about that.

Little by little as the racers traversed the mountain I started to pass a good number of people that couldn’t keep the pace they had set to start the race. A few tough obstacles also slowed down some competitors including the monkey bar traverse which was wet and muddy and I had barely gotten through.

Sadly, as I made my way to the final obstacle in my portion, I failed the Mud Hero wall because I couldn’t grip the muddy wall and rope well enough. In fact, I failed it several times for about 8 minutes, watching helplessly as more people passed me until I was able to complete it. I got to keep my bracelet but my pride was once again tarnished.

I waited for Shawn to complete his portion of the race (Strength) and then for Alec to do his. Unfortunately, Alec came in a while later with his arm wrapped around his side and informed us that he couldn’t continue. The final portion of the race, which was a three-man traverse of a long tall wall with a small roper only at the very top (find a way to climb up each other to win) wouldn’t be in the cards for us. We had to give up our official team finish and cross the line for a medal filled with lessons (metaphorically).

With all that done, so was my season. The World Championships was the final event in my race plan and hitting the showers and the off-season was up next. It wasn’t the way I wanted to finish the season but despite learning a lot about my weaknesses, I still loved the race and I continue to look forward to the 2018 season and all the things I can do better next season.

I have to give credit and thanks to an awesome OCR race crew currently made up of Stephen Pinsent, Shawn Fitzsimmons and Alec Norris. Without friends like these guys I don’t think I’d be traveling to so many races or competing so well. The power of the team can’t be underestimated.

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