Gear. Keep it Simple.

Unlike many sports, obstacle course racing is 95% your body. You obviously don’t need shoulder pads, a Louisville slugger, golf balls, a bicycle or a paddle of some sorts.

That other missing 5%, is a damn good trail running shoe, compression/anything BUT cotton clothing and possibly gloves.  Depending on the condition of my hands at the time of a race, is how I judge if I need my gloves or not. I currently use FitFour O

IMG_20170801_082944_400CR Spartan Slit Grip Gloves when my hands beg for a break. I use them for more of a hand protector  than assistance with grip. You can use discount code: OCRCHICK at checkout, to get 10% off your purchase!

I began my racing in Salomon X-Mission Trail Running shoes. While they had great grip on rough terrain, rigid soles for rope climbing, they did not drain water quickly. After a lot of research and review readings, I found Merrell All Out Crush Light Trail Running shoes. They were affordable, and when I tried them on, it was like they were already broke in. Let’s face it, I did not want to break in a pair at a race, nor did I want to pay over $100 for shoes to get muddy & torn up. Plus, they can be thrown in the washing machine and come out looking brand new, every time!

Living in Florida, working outside in Florida, I learned quickly, cotton feels like fleece in the summer humidity, and you need moisture wicking clothing to stay half way comfortable. Same goes for racing. You get sweaty, wet, and then dry out and the cycle happens again. I have at least 2 articles of clothing from every big name to no name brand out there, and guess what, they all work. I wear the compression or fitted versions of it all. It helps protect me, lessens my recovery time and doesn’t weigh me down or get snagged on anything because its secure against me.  In the cooler temps (like below 70s, haha) I wear long sleeves, and shorts. In the warmest temps, sports bra and shorts-BUT, be careful, I am NOT allergic to poison ivy, oak or anything for that matter, so if you are allergic to anything that might be out there in the jungles & forests, cover up! Too many horror stories of poison out there.

Socks. I am a climber, and it only took about one time descending from a rope with ankle socks, for me to get a traumatizing rope burn on my ankle. From then on, I wear tight, over the calf socks. Sometimes, MudGear compression socks, sometimes Stance socks,race_3364_photo_56489170.jpg

because I love their style. Either way, if you plan on running through any jungles in shorts, you need to protect your legs from briers, poison, sticks, etc…and of course, avoid those tender calf muscles the day after!

As for hydration packs, I have been very fortunate to have attended races that always had water check points strategically placed throughout the course. Its extra weight, and only if the race requires it (HH, Endurance, Ultras, Etc.), would I take one. If you do believe you need one, make sure the straps will not rub your neck and back. You will make a lot of friction running off road with those things, and will need to plan to take it off on some obstacles in order to not get snagged on things.

Sunglasses. The obvious: Don’t wear your Oakley, Costa, Ray-Bans. I purchase cheap knock offs at the local flea market, polarized lenses, but cheapos. So when they are lost, broken or packed with mud, no harm no foul.

Must…Love…Mud…

I have become a Mud Connoisseur of sorts these past few months. Mostly because my Double Trifecta journey has made me travel from Florida to Georgia, South & North Carolina. A Trifecta is a Spartan Race Series, of 3 races. They involve a Sprint, Super & a Beast. The medals to these races, form a larger medal, once all races are complete. I wanted to do it twice, so I had to travel a bit.   Oh, and these races have to be done all in one year.

It is blacker than the night. It has an odor close to sewer gas. While it won’t necessarily steal your shoe, it may let you sink up to your butt in it. If you are experiencing this type of mud, its either Florida Swamp Mud or Florida Farm Mud. I have been blessed with the opportunity to wade through snakey Florida Swamp Mud as well as roll and crawl in Florida Farm Mud, with black Angus cows looking on, in the next field over.  At a race in St. Cloud, FL, put on by the local police department, called Robo Mud Run (which was awesome), there were true snake/gator warning signs in the swamp areas. I later realized, after climbing a seemingly large hill for the state of Florida, that it was a retired landfill hill. Priceless.

It will steal your shoe, without warning. If any odor, it smells like clay molding day in elementary school Art class. You may be crawling up an embankment with what you thought was a good grip, and slide right back down–way race_3364_photo_56542080-1 (1)faster than you went up it. It will cake to your shoes, and make your feet feel like they are concrete blocks. It is red…Wet or dry, its red. But it will not stain you. This is the Georgia Red Mud. At a Rugged Maniac race in Conyers, GA, which was my first race experience in Georgia, I experienced chlorinated mud/water pits. Yes. You heard that correctly. Due to threats of water borne viruses and bacteria (whole other blog post discussion), Rugged used pool chlorine, like you would buy at your local pool supply store, in all their water obstacles. It was mind boggling, approaching a pit that looked like the chocolate milk but smelled like the public pool. Never have I felt so dirty and clean at the same time!

While its color is nothing to write home about, its nothing but good ol’ brown mud. Its consistency is perfect for making a mud pie. It washes off when its wet almost with a mist, but it definitely is gritty. Let it dry, and you feel like a stone statue cracking during an earthquake. You typically don’t risk shoe loss in it, but smear this mud on a slip wall obstacle, and you’ve got yourself slippin’ and slidin’, and hopin’ and prayin’ you make it to the grip ledge. North Carolina Mud. I’ve been to two Spartan races in North Carolina, one which was on a farm in Fayetteville (Fort Bragg area, is what it is known for) and Asheville, at a rock quarry. I can’t say much for Asheville mud, because of the intense, not so Floridian friendly inclines, but I can tell you, the Slip Wall at that race, was like

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they greased it with Crisco! The mud in Fayetteville dried on me, and when it came to getting it out my hair, it took about 45 minutes of shampoo, condition & repeats.

Last, but definitely not least. Blood red in color. Kind of smelled like blo

od, now that I think back, ha. Tasted terrible, too. Not that I wanted to taste it, but sometimes, shit happens. While it had all the above features the other state’s mud h

 

ad, it also STAINED. I typically wear Under Armour Heat Gear tops, and Xrace Wear shorts, and never encounter damaged clothing due to any mud runs. But this mud, put a red tint on everything I wore that day. Being somewhat of a lighter skin tone,

and being an “enhanced blonde”, ha, the clothes were the least of my worries. I felt so terribly sorry for the red stained wash clothes and towels I left for the hotel staff, along with a hastily cleaned shower. At first entry of the shower, water and mud splattered the tile walls and shower curtain, and it looked just like a full color scene from Hitchcock’s PSYCHO. My hair, even after 10 plus shampoos, could not shake the red tint. Sooooo, my hair went short. Real short. Then, even though I thought I was clean, my white pillowcase had an orange tint where my neck and shoulders rubbed on it the night after the race.

Overall, though, you gotta be ok with mud…Hell, I love it. I mean, you are paying to be dunked in it, roll in it, run in it, accidentally get some in your mouth.  The time in between the start line and finish line, getting muddy, climbing things, seeing beautiful landscapes, makes me feel like a kid again, when I had no worries, and life was so simple.

 

Why I will always support Bonefrog Races

I pondered the Atlanta Bonefrog for days before clicking “register.” You see, Atlanta and it’s surrounding areas are NOT close to me in Florida. The traffic within 60 miles of that city can be quite unforgiving, stressful and exhausting. The kicker for this race, there was no other way  that GPS could find for me, without adding hours to the commute, than going straight through downtown Atlanta, with its 10 lanes of non-stop traffic. Now, while I’m a seasoned driver, Atlanta traffic is a whole other level of crazy. Going lone wolf, 6 and half hours one way, seemed like a terrible idea, and it was…Until I reached the venue.

The date of this race was during a real shit show of politics, professional athletes kneeling during the National Anthem and just overall lack of patriotism. In my opinion, the  disrespect shown to our flag, soldiers and country was super charged. Social media was filled with Anti-somethings, hateful memes and illogical points. I hated to scroll on Facebook or watch tv.  When I rolled up into the backwoods of a Northwest Georgia motocross park, I forgot all about it.

Seeing as that Bonefrog is owned and operated by our very own Navy Seals, this race, you could say, got me by : “curiosity killed the cat.” I wanted to see these obstacles that were fashioned from their training camp..I wanted a Navy Seal to hand me a medal. I wanted to be around humans who loved this country so much, they signed up to protect it.

Not only were their obstacles awesome, challenging and one I actually decided to NOT attempt (rib cracker, sternum checker-Hell, I don’t know, but if you look it up, you’ll see why being lone wolf, that far from home, would make me chicken out) but I saw red, white and blue everywhere. American flags, shirts and everything else.  There were Seals at the start line, with red, white & blue glittered beards, at obstacles motivating you on, Jr ROTC volunteers, and Seals at the finish line telling you great job and handing you an awesome medal.  To be honest, that was the most red, white and blue I had seen in a very long time.

The soldiers and Jr ROTC volunteers were so sweet. I’m sure getting a good laugh from watching us pitiful civilians attempt VERY scaled obstacles they had to do everyday, without sleep, injured and in worse conditions. During the race, I couldn’t help but notice they were all smiling, laughing at themselves (and us) and goofing off. I couldn’t help but to think what these men have seen, been through and/or will go through. In a time when many showed lack of respect to our soldiers and country, they showed such class and happiness.

I was repeatedly thanked for signing up, hugged and offered help at every obstacle that I may have looked at/studied, too long. I recommend everyone to do one of these a year, at least. Like I mentioned, the Bonefrog is tough/challenging. Upper body strength is needed. Heads Up-If you can’t complete an obstacle, some times you have to do penalty push ups or squats.

I Thrive, believe it or not.

A year or so ago, I had a friend talk me into trying Thrive. From what I got from it was that it was just another new age, possible pyramid scheme weight loss product. Although I was very critical and reluctant, I could see a positive change in her since using it, so I gave it a try. 

I read all the reviews, tried to find complaints, and was pleasantly surprised. While not every user of Thrive had results, many did. Not just weight loss, but increased energy, better sleep and  the universe knew I needed that. 

I don’t push the product on anyone, because the few times friends or family tried it, they were discouraged they didn’t drop 15lbs in one week. And I get that, as the results are different for everyone. That’s the big  problem with products like these- nothing can work better than dedicated time, exercise and healthy eating habits. 

I started the product around the same time I dropped soda from my diet. Yes, there is caffiene in Thrive, but I am so tolerant of caffiene, I can drink coffee up until bed time and still sleep. The first thing I noticed within a week or two of using the product, I was getting a restful sleep and waking up before the alarm. I NEVER was able to do that. Ask my mother, she has had to physically pull me out of bed as a child, and even a few instances as an adult when I slept through my alarms and phone calls, and my boss was concerned I was missing. 

I regularly use Thrive. It’s simple. First thing when I wake up, I drink a small shake, take 2 vitamin like pills and put a “DFT” patch on. The patch is commonly mistaken for a nicotine patch. The shake doesn’t taste bad and the pills are a manageable size.  I additionally use their “Balance”, which is a nightly probiotic. 

While it isn’t a miracle drug, it works for me. I did not lose weight using it, didn’t experience lack of appetite, or gain mad muscles, but my results were fitting for me. Restful sleep, and added nutrition. If you find yourself interested in this stuff, feel free to reach out to me. I will gladly give you the ups, downs and in betweens with no holds barred. 

In order to view their products,  you just go to my  Thrive website. 

The “Risk” Factor

One of the most frequent questions I am asked, when someone learns about my obstacle course racing addiction is: “What if you get hurt?”

Well, its a good question, I suppose, if you haven’t done one of these races. Fact of the matter is, you CAN get hurt. Seriously hurt. But, then again, you can break your leg or neck on your front porch steps.

Being a small business owner who uses a ladder, climbs roofs and what not on a daily basis, I feel that I have a little bit more awareness of what COULD go wrong, and how to take precautions to avoid it. By all means though, I am not invincible to injuries. And by being a small business owner, I cannot afford an injury, monetarily (because lack of health insurance) or time-wise. I am an owner & operator, if I go down, the business is down, until I get up.

This being my first year of obstacle course racing, I have been fortunate enough to go to 5, going on 6 Spartan Races, 1 Bonefrog, 1 Savage Race, 1 Rugged Maniac, 4 Mud Endeavors, a couple Titan Runs and some random charity/local organization ran outfits.  I lost count of all the 5k runs I have done this year, as my area has plenty of them to fill in the scheduling voids with OCRs.  That being said, I can’t tell you of a race I ran, that I didn’t see some sort of injury. Some worse than others.

I personally wreak havoc on my hands (ripped grips), callouses ripped off, splinters, cuts, etc,  busted up knees and elbows. I have witnessed fellow racers get their head/neck stuck in a cargo net (thankfully no one was seriously injured), lose their grip on an inverted wall, monkey bar, rings, rope, and fall flat on their back-The sound a body makes when it hits the hard ground from a fall over five feet, will haunt you. I’d say the worst injury I come across with other racers, is sprained or broken ankles. The terrain you need to run through to get to the next man made obstacle can be just as tricky as the obstacles themselves. Roots, rocks, stumps, hidden holes, loose ground and elevation changes. Running trails is so different than running roads. Your eyes and mind work overtime, assessing the trail and its hazards, constantly telling your feet- “step here, oooh, watch that, step there!”

What do I do to help prevent injuries? Here are a few things:

  1. I wear the right shoe. You need trail rated shoes. Not your Nanos, Metcons, or running kicks or basketball high tops. (Believe me, if you fly past me in any of these shoes, slip and take me out-You will hear it from me.)
  2. If the terrain gets too sketchy, I SLOW DOWN. Beating your own personal record is great, beating your friends or fellow competitor is even greater, but what if you can’t finish the race at all, because you tripped over a rock and broke or sprained your ankle? Towards the end of any race, especially the 6+ milers, you will see stumbling, missteps, because you are tired. It’s ok, to slow down, or even stop, to regroup.
  3. When approaching an obstacle, I watch fellow racers and their techniques. I have found if muscles fail, technique can save you at times, and vice versa. Then my very analytical brain groups together what works, what doesn’t and how to handle it if doesn’t.
  4. Just be careful, and be very considerate of your fellow races. If you are climbing a cargo net, be aware of where your fellow racers are kicking their legs over, same with walls!
  5.  If your gut tells you its a bad idea, maybe it is. Don’t do it. Do the required penalty loop, burpees, squats or push ups–or worse, take the banter from the other racers.

 

My First OCR

Before I discovered obstacle course racing, I discovered Crossfit. While I was frequently told my results, physically and mentally were awesome, I never noticed. That’s how we chicks are at times, though. I knew I needed something to work towards, a goal, larger than my first goal in the beginning of my healthy lifestyle change, which was a shallow “fit in my jeans from high school” goal. I wanted to test the results I was getting…

With being a frequent shopper on Reebok.com, I was constantly seeing “Spartan” apparel, and I often wondered if that was something I could do….So, at first it was a wild suggestion to two of my friends to sign up, but when they responded “Let’s Do It!” I may have cringed a little.

Well, we all signed up for the Spartan Sprint, in Bunnell, FL. I trained for months to not be the weak link in our team, ate super healthy and studied YouTube videos of obstacles and how to complete them.

When race day arrived, I was immediately hooked. Addicted. The people, the mud, the sportsmanship and most of all, the obstacles! I never knew my body could climb like it did that day, I never knew I could hang from rings and I never thought I could survive 5 miles deep into the Florida jungle, on a sunny & humid, Spring day. There was cussing, grunting and crying, and many cuts and bruises. But we  DID survive, and I immediately decided, that this is exactly what I needed to add to my life and goal setting with fitness. Get faster, get better and win those medals.

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