Why I Crossfit

I know people have heard all kind of things about Crossfit– the good, bad, really bad & ugly. I have heard it all. Trust me, when I researched online in the beginning, I would see doctors claiming damaging movements, people with their shins torn up from box jumps, gashes from double unders in jump rope….But, I also saw results from crossfitters that had great, experienced gyms and coaches.

While they say Crossfit is for everybody, I disagree in a sense. It is, however, I think, great for every BODY (young, old, fit, not fit, etc), just not every person.

See, I am intimidated by machines, cables, weight contraptions that look like robots and finger pinchers. I cannot be trusted enough to push myself or do a written work out plan, by myself. I don’t dance, so Zumba is out. I’ve tried Yoga once, unbeknownst to me, it was an advanced class, that took place on the beach, and IT WAS HARD-and just not my thing. Group exercise, all females, is also intimidating to me and sometimes distracting when I realize I am the only one NOT wearing make up & jewelry. I do love a good spin class, but I like to go as it hits me, not be placed on a waiting list, or wait for the RSVP page to open. So, basically, Crossfit fits me.

Now, I won’t get “Hulk” muscles, but that’s not what I want. I want endurance, stamina and strength. I was lucky to find my gym, The Academy, by a fluke. One day, a Facebook ad popped up on my news feed about an 8 week challenge for ladies wanting an introduction to Crossfit, but without bar use. Fearfully, I signed up. I even counted how many days “I’d have to go” and wondered if I could survive. Keep in mind, I did no type of fitness or sport prior to this in over 15 years.

The Academy is not only clean, but their trainers/coaches are top of the line. They don’t let you hurt yourself, they push you when you need pushed (I need that, time to time) and hold you back when you need it. MemeThey are also just all around good souls. With their experience, personalities and the gym goers these qualities attract, it makes this facility perfect for me.

Now, I can’t do double unders, handstands, crazy high box jumps or a perfect snatch…Hell, I probably won’t be able to them perfect, ever, ha! But, I am good at other Crossfit affiliated movements, and I will only get better, with persistence and consistency.

Crossfit gets a bad rap, but its really the people. There are great, experienced coaches out there, and there are shitty ones, too. Just like anything out there. I think the best part is, when you are starting out, great coaches scale down the routines to your fitness level. While you still get in the work, its just adjusted to you, your weaknesses and strengths. Like, say you are a serious runner, and can do the running workouts like its nothing, but when it comes to doing a strict push press, you might not be able to do the “prescribed weight” on the work out..just yet. And that’s ok, and they will help you make it doable. Can’t stand on your head and do push ups? No problem, they put you on a box. Still no pull up ability? That’s ok, that’s why there are resistance bands and rings.

Unlike what you may hear in the stereotyping of this workout regime, I will not announce to every one I meet that I Crossfit, or try to gettedn9 anyone to join me. I do laugh at all the Crossfit jokes & memes out there on the interwebs. I do own lots of Reebok Crossfit apparel and have laid on the gym floor after a work out, leaving an outline of myself in sweat, wondering if I was dying. I will never use Crossfit terminology while speaking to you or mention how much I loathe calorie rows. Everyone is different and thrives differently in fitness. I tried it, liked it and got results.

The ever so changing work outs, the strength AND conditioning, and being in an open air gym really got me in shape enough to do OCR’s. While all the other ways to work out are great too, this works for me.

Wipe Out, I mean, Rugged Maniac!

My first experience with Rugged Maniac was in Conyers, Georgia. That is still a trek from my home in Florida, but I was able get one of Floridian friends to ride with me on that super hot day.  Sitting East of Atlanta, it still has its share of traffic. It was about a 6 hour drive-one way, and having a fellow only-childer with me was perfect-We solved every problem in the world with those 12 hours of conversation.

This race was a “come down” for me, after the Asheville Spartan Super (which was my first Super,

and first encounter of hill climbing in quite some time). The Asheville Spartan literally made my quads cry, with nothing but 8+ miles of incline, and not one down hill to show for it, ha! I figured a 5k OCR in HotLanta sun, I could handle. My inkling was correct, about the only thing that ached after this race was my butt from the long ride and my ribs from laughing so hard at myself and with other racers.

Rugged Maniac is a blast. While it has some challenging/technical obstacles, it has its fair share of “inflatable” or floating obstacles. That’s what made this race so much fun–I really felt like a kid again, and in the open wave, I felt like a pro athlete. Basically, this race attracts every fun-loving person out there. Let’s just say it was nice to not be surrounded by super athletes, nailing every obstacle perfectly with their 8 pack abs!

When you go to their website, you will see a lot of their obstacles will remind you of that show, “Wipe Out.” I am not sure it airs anymore, but if you enjoyed watching that show, you would enjoy being a racer or spectator in this race. I can tell you, the fails on the Rugged Maniac obstacles are just as, if not more hilarious than the show. You will witness racers completely bomb an obstacle, scream, slip/fall and laugh the whole time during it.

One obstacle involves inflatable, swinging, oversized punching bags blocking you from crossing a water obstacle as you try to walk on floating, foam walk way (think yoga mat). Those swinging punching bags were knocking people off, left & right, as the mats were sinking with more than 15lbs on the mats—so think about a full grown adult on them.  I heard so much screaming and laughing coming up to that obstacle, I couldn’t wait to do it!

“The Crag”, which reminded me of an old Nickelodeon show, is this inflatable mountain/bounce house like thing, I landed so hard on the other side, it bounced me me back to my starting point. I would’ve loved to seen my playback video, ha!

Overall, I want to suggest this race to anyone, young & old, beast, weekend warrior or coach potato. I think this would be a great team-building thing to do with employers & employees, family reunion kick off, etc. Rugged is also one of the
ONLY race series that will refund your money for a race in case you can’t make it. No hassle, no extra fees. It’s one of the cheapest races I’ve done, and their discounts are a plenty throughout the year, especially during the holiday/off season months. Yet, very organized and well planned. I loved my t-shirt, headband and medal, too. All good quality. I loved laughing that hard, too.

The Rope Climb!

When I signed up for my first OCR, the Spartan Sprint, the one obstacle I didn’t want to default to burpees with, was the rope climb.

From watching Lassie as a kid, when Timmy would fall in that ever forsaken well, and he had to

depend on his
loyal K9 companion for a rescue, to watching Indiana Jones scramble to get out of a snake pit, I decided it was a good skill to acquire…Just not for avoiding burpees at a race, but a life skill, too, ha!

I first started messing around with the rope at the gym. Laying on my back, I would pull myself upright to standing , hand over hand,  then lower myself back down. This helped me get a feeling of what level of grip strength I needed to hold on and just get comfortable with it. Next, came lots and lots of YouTube videos. From Spanish Twist to J Hook techniques, to the ever so longed for, legless. As I studied these videos, I realized it is more technique than strength. Now, don’t get me wrong, you need to be kind of fit, but if your technique isn’t there, you wear yourself out in a hurry! What I’m saying is, any normal person like myself can do this, you don’t need to be muscle bound!

Later, came my rope climbing station…at home. I didn’t always have it in me after a session at the gym to play on the ropes there. So, one of the perks of having a man who is a contractor is….he can build just about anything! He had me order the rope, and he gathered the lumber (which was way more involved than I thought). I should have known when he told me to cancel the 16′ rope, and order the 20 footer. The treated posts were 24ft tall, and that is no easy feat to get them upright! But once it was completed, it was a game changer. Having access to a rope, Wi-Fi and privacy, accelerated my goal accomplishment.

I quickly realized the J Hook technique was the best for me. Efficient and fast, both up and down. There are less points of contact in this technique, and considered not as safe for beginners. I am very comfortable with heights, climbing and my grip strength, so that doesn’t affect me, much. Plus, the leg and foot placement for the Spanish Twist takes me too much time, I just can’t get coordinated quickly enough before my upper body/grip tires. The J Hook for me is grip, core and leg strength, not eye and leg coordination. Another downside to the Spanish Twist is those extra points of contact can get rope burned/bruised. Even with the tall socks you see crossfitters and OCRacers wear.

The rope climb really does need more strength from the legs than anywhere else. My trainer would always bust me, when he saw me pulling more than pushing. “USE YOUR LEGS, MORE LEGS!” Unless you are a super athlete, you can burn yourself up real fast using all upper body. Just watch the older shows on Stone Cold Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge. Many hot shot guys, with amazing bis & tris never made it up the rope at the end of the “Skull Buster”, because they chose not to use legs or a technique. Though climbing ropes in OCRs are far different than climbing in your backyard or gym. They are crowded. They are muddy, wet, and usually not the competition/Crossfit regulation diameter of 1-1/2″. Keep this in mind. Nothing like a crowd of people waiting for you to get up and down a muddy, wet rope, while people struggle on each side of you and your rope.

My advice is, climb a rope at least once a day. When you’re  tired, when you’re refreshed, if it’s outside, when it’s raining. At the gym, do it a couple times, too.  Watch YouTube, find which technique fits you better. Need to feel more secure? Use the Spanish Twist, wanna go fast, use the J Hook. Either one of those techniques can be practiced by sitting on a jump box, under a rope, and practice those foot/leg positions, safely on the ground.  To me, coming down is harder than going up. Once you get confident enough, do a lot of short climbs, practicing your descent slowly. Learning how to relieve your foot pinch, to SLOWLY lower yourself down without tearing the skin from your palms is very important. Hand over hand is what you want, not a fireman pole slide!

Lastly, it will only take a a couple rope burns on your ankle/legs, for you to get why I wear ridiculous looking, tall socks. The ropes are full of bacteria and chemicals, and I have 2, yes, 2 scars, from two seperate rope descents that were well cared for, and still got infected and scarred.

There really isn’t a greater feeling than getting to the top of the rope for the first time!

Please note, video posted is from this past Spring. Speed and efficiency has improved and as soon as this nasty weather breaks, I will have more up to date clips!

Double Trifecta…Complete!

Central Florida Spartan Beast did not disappoint! This race was extra special, not just because I was getting a nifty 2x Trifecta medal along with my Spartan Beast medal, but because my best friend traveled from Maryland to do this race with 20171209_132552me, and get her first ever, Trifecta!

Mulberry, Florida in December, shouldn’t be as cold and miserable as it was this past Saturday. A cold front came through our sunny state, blowing “polar air” and rain, right at us. I swear, the rain never stopped completely, from leaving our house at 5am, thru the 2.5 hour drive to the venue, during the race, and the ride back. This was the coldest and wettest race in my 2017 Spartan Race Season. This season definitely closed with a soaking wet, shiver!

We were lucky that the dunk wall was late in the race, right about at the 11-12 mile marker, but those last few miles after, COLD! In the Spartanburg, SC Beast, the dunk wall was early in the race, and I can say I was miserable, but no where near as cold as I was

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in Florida! The steady misting of rain to a steady drizzle made a lot of the grip obstacles more challenging than usual, monkey bars, twister and the rings were very slippery. Although the weather wasn’t the greatest, I enjoyed the venue. While Florida is known to be flat, don’t think its an “even” flat. Between the cow paths, low spots and vegetation, Florida terrain can be a challenging trail run. The course was fast, too, you could easily pass other racers and get those miles done and over with, quicker! We ran the majority of each mile of the 13, as I shared my mantra with my bestie, “The faster we Run, the Quicker its Over With!”

My MudGear compression socks worked their magic this race. While others were complaining of calf cramps, I was feeling very light footed, still late in the race. Not only did they keep the cramps away, they also helped my technique on the Tyro Traverse and shielded my legs from limbs and briers on the trails. As usual, about at the 10-11 mile marker, I felt the “zone” kick in. I’m not sure how to explain it, but its something about double digit mileage races that mentally and physically change you right then. It’s not bad, as long as it doesn’t make you feel ill, get you injured or make you cry, ha, but your body & mind just disconnect from each other. Your brain stops telling your muscles you can’t, and your muscles just go into auto-pilot.

While we really wanted to cruise the merchandise tents, relax and get thoroughly cleaned up, after crossing that finish line, we were too cold, and darted to our vehicle. We sat in the truck for about a half hour, thawing out and changing into dry clothes. Laughing about our hangriness, crippling cramps, dementia and shivers. We hit a Pilot for coffee, 5 guys for burgers and headed home. BEST DAY EVER.

Bag Check? Great. What do you take?

 

It didn’t take me long to realize what I needed and what I didn’t need in the bag I take to obstacle course races. All races offer a bag check, while some offer it for free (smaller races), others charge $5-$10. Going Lone Wolf, I don’t have someone to hold my keys, phone, dry clothes or paperwork for me, so I always take extra cash with me, to utilize the bag checks.

I use an Adidas top loading backpack. It has plenty of pockets, room, durable and most importantly, can be laundered. I fill that thing with antibiotic spray, ointment, gauze, Goat Tape & medical tape, band aids of all sizes, scissors, flip flops, change of clothes and towels. I also stash my cash, ID, keys and cell phone deep into the backpack. I decide last minute if I plan to take my gloves on the course or not. Less is more, in most cases.

I don’t pack snacks in the bag that gets checked. Mostly because, the heat, and placement of some of these bag checks are right out in the sun. I take a credit card  and only small bills with me, obviously, for safety purposes. Although I’m sure my cell phone or keys would be the better grab, if that were to happen.  Up until the end of 2018 Spartan Race season, bag checks were being ran by employees or volunteers. But I am guessing with the blasts of racers coming off the course for retrieving the bags, has forced a different approach. You, the racer, are allowed in the bag storage area, and then one or two attendants at the exit of bag storage confirm your wrist band and bag band match numbers. While it did seem to help the wait time, I feel they need to polish it up a little better, it gets quite hectic still. Missing bands, unreadable bands, distractions, etc could allow someone with the right mindset, to steal your things!

Regardless, take some good, quick and easy to use medical supplies. Think open cuts and nasty water/mud. Take an extra set of clothes, and have easy slip on sandals to slide on after taking your muddy shoes off. Rinse stations aren’t spa showers. They run out of gas in the generator running the pump, that is pumping from a pond, they have little pressure because 20 hoses are being used at once and the constant water usage makes a sloppy mess at the rinse off station. Most places say NO SOAP, to please the environmentalists. Some, if they have traveled far, stop at a truck stop like Flying J, Pilot or Love’s who offers showers for a fee on their way home. Either way, a few huge towels on hand is nice, and if you are changing in the car, its nice to have enough to sit on! I have brought gallon jugs of water with me, to leave in the vehicle to “warm up” while I race, in order to help clean up. Works great, but don’t leave those jugs in your vehicle for long, science kicks in and they start to leak with the heat the summer day in Florida can generate inside a vehicle.

Mud Endeavor 8

After my first ever Spartan Sprint, first ever obstacle course race, I immediately started searching for more races. Just so happens, the following weekend after that first ever OCR, was a little race called Mud Endeavor 8. Mud Endeavor puts on races here in Florida mostly in Tampa/Surrounding areas.

After reading through their web site, scrolling through their Facebook, I signed up the night before the race. It’s about a 2-1/2 hour drive, one way, to the venue. I attempted to get someone to ride down with me, but with such last minute notice, that was impossible. I took a later wave time (start time) in case traffic took longer than expected. I left our house that morning, at 7:30am, and it was 85 degrees out. Once I reached the small town of Brooksville, Florida, where this race was located, the balmy, humid, 96 degree heat hit me in the face as I got out of my vehicle. I instantly had a moment of “Maybe I shouldn’t have came all this way, to race, in this heat, by myself” moment. But then, when I finally reached the top of the hill, I saw what used to be a quarry pit, with 3.12 miles of mud, water, obstacles and water slides, that thought quickly vanished.

It was like I was a kid again, walking up to the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. I got my race bib, signed my waiver, and lined up at the start line, right on time. Oh, it was hot. Probably to this date, one of the most hot & humid races I ever did, thankfully their races are always 5ks, and they never skimp on water stations.

Mud Endeavor’s obs18738719_10209130736615589_6104386124165990688_otacles are very well built for being a small organization. Very safe, sturdy, no splinters and they offer racers less advanced options on some of the more difficult obstacles, making it great for anyone, from kids to weekend warriors to beasts.  This is one exception to Florida Swamp/Farm Mud, retired quarries have tan mud, not black…And quarries make awesome viewing options for spectators, not many obstacles are hidden, if any, on the course.  You are basically in a large bowl, and the spectators are on the rim of it. They also have volunteer organizations involving kids, supplying you with water at their water stations.

I crawled on top of culverts, walked through and kind of had to swim through some mucky water holes, go up and down a muddy and slick motocross track set up, swing from rings, go down LONG water slides, 3 to be exact, climb

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cargo nets, tire walls, scale walls, and climb rope. Mud Endeavor has a forever customer/racer with me. They are very well organized, priced fair, and give out a super soft t-shirt for the event, and always a finisher’s medal.  They have a great selection of races every year, and I am anxiously awaiting their 2018 schedule.

Lone Wolf Racers are never alone on the Course…

I very rarely race with a “team”, and when I do, its only when my best friend from many miles away,  can come visit. While there is no better entertainment than you and your best friend crawling through mud, throwing each other over walls, and  saying “WTF?” about every little hiccup in the race, I do not mind going “Lone Wolf”, either…good thing, because travelling from Maryland to Florida or Florida to Maryland can get pricey.

I never have had problems doing things alone, maybe its because I’m an only child, or so introverted that I may be classified as “anti-social” at times, or maybe its due to being put in crappy school work groups, where one kid in the group never pulled their weight? Ha. Who knows. But one thing is for sure when it comes to racing,  its not because I think someone would slow me down, or I couldn’t keep up with them. As mentioned before, my first OCR, I had a team. With all of us being newbies to the scene, we found many fellow racers helping us throughout the race.  This was an introduction of how it goes out there, and it has continued throughout my journeys and races.

That’s what is hard to explain to others when you tell them you did the Spartan Beast iFB_IMG_1507725003020n Spartanburg, SC, by yourself. I am never alone when running an OCR. The community within obstacle course racing is huge, and full of wonderful people. For example, from personal experience, I have had random racers come up to me and help me put my timing bracelet on before the race (which is hard to do without help!), I am always offered assistance at obstacles that I take a moment to analyze, and if you stumble, or begin to slow down, another racer is always asking if you are ok and yelling motivational  lines like “You got this!” or “You’re almost there! Keep going!”

One of the best racer humanity moments I witnessed, was a terrible clothing malfunction no where near the end of a race. A fellow Spartan chick ripped the seat of her pants, from top to bottom on a climbing obstacle. You know, if you are out there on the course, there isn’t an easy way to deal with a full moon situation. While her bestie was lying to her, telling her  “it’s ok, its not THAT bad,” and attempting to magically put seams back together, a random guy came up to them. He was shirtless, and had basketball shorts on. He said a few things to them, and before you knew it, he stripped down, giving the girl his shorts, and continued on the race in his compression boxer briefs. She strapped those shorts on, pulled the drawstrings tight, and yelled, “how will I get these back to you?” and he responded, “I’ll see you at the finish line,” and disappeared into the crowded trail path.  It was honestly bad enough, I questioned if I could go on, if the same thing happened to me. My guess is NO, and I don’t think she would have either, unless that fellow racer offered his shorts.

I am definitely not the only LonFB_IMG_1499550299622e Wolf Racer out there, either. But it surely isn’t for everyone, especially if you start to get emotionally/mentally tired. I tend to shut the brain down when I feel that coming on, it seems to help.  Sometimes, during race chit chat, some will say their friends stood them up, or no one else could get off work. I always say, its really something I love to do and will do what it takes to get here, if someone wants to do it with me, they are more than welcome, but if not, its ok, I will still do it.

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 WarriorPak (for cold and/or wetter conditions) or the UA F5 Receiver Gloves, super sticky, but not when wet! I also recommend NOT using the receiver gloves on rope climbs. It is safer to be bare handed with those heights and the rope fibers somehow take away the “stickiness”.

IMG_20170801_082944_400I have tried other gloves, like the ones Spartan sells, FitFour. No matter what, they were so slippery. So,  I only use them now, in training if I have a ripped grip for protection only. I refuse to get behind anyone on the rigs who wear them, as they retain water like a sponge and wet down bars, rings, grips, TERRIBLY.

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! The downside of these shoes…the super light design means minimalist. The soles, while they offer just the right amount of  traction, are super bendy and not as tough-in turn, I can feel sharp stumps, roots and rocks. I now keep these for shorter distances and certain less technical terrain. I have found with the longer races, tougher terrain, Salomon Speedcross 4‘s and, believe it or not, Nike Air Zoom WildHorse 4 give me the sole protection some terrain requires, while staying light enough, draining quickly enough and gripping just enough. Warning on those Speedcross’s though, they are not meant for walking on pavement, concrete, etc…if those rugged grips catch, it can be a good face plant. Ha!

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. However, with the longer length races, I found that I needed a place to keep my Clif Bloks, maybe a mustard packet or two, and gloves.

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I researched like crazy. First of all, I did not want any that were so bulky and heavy, and not placed well on the back. I needed something tight, that would keep from bouncing (have you seen the rub marks a shoulder strap of any kind can do after 13 miles of bouncing?!). I also wanted something HIGH on my back. I located my dream hydration pack from Orange Mud.

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.

 

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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