My OCR World Championship experience 2016

So it's been a few weeks since the OCR World Championship in Blue Mountains, Canada. If you follow me on social media or have seen me since I participated in OCRWC then you've probably heard me bitching and complaining about my performance. As I started writing this post, I slowly recalled each obstacle and the feelings I went through during my races. These reflections turned out to be really good for me.

Before I tell my story, I want say THANK YOU to especially Houlind Houlding Aps and all the people who were so kind to sponsor me! Without you I wouldn't have had the chance to go to Canada to compete, so THANK YOU!

So here's my story:
Before going to Canada I honestly didn't know what to expect at all! I had signed up for a short 3 km race Friday, 15 km Saturday and team relay on Sunday. For the first two races my goal was to get my wristband with me to the finish line (that means you completed all obstacles), but that was it. The team relay was just for fun, and I had no expectations for that whatsoever.

First up was the 3 km race on the Friday. I was so relaxed before start, I had no expectations to myself (which is really rare for me), so the plan was to just go with it and see what happened.

They sent us off in heats of 8 with two minutes between each heat. When my heat got to the the first obstacle (hurdles) I was in front, next up was a hill where I started to pass the girls in the previous heat. I got to the Q steps obstacle and they were easy, I continue on down the hill to Dragon's Back, which is an obstacle we have at Toughest race so I was comfortable with it! I don't really have any problems with this one, I just climb up and went past the girls up there. From Dragon's Back it's uphill, through some bushes and on to Platinum Samurai. This is like five or six pillars/logs you have to manoeuvre across without touching the top or ground. This was where the fun stopped! On my first attempt I get to the first or second log then I simply slide down. I give it 5 or 6 more attempts with no success. I decide it's not worth keep fighting. It's Day 1, Obstacle 4! I need energy for the rest of the race and weekend, plus my attempts get worse and worse because I'm getting worn out. I get my wristband cut. I continue down hill for the rest of the course. I honestly don't know what I felt at that time. When people cheered on me and shouted "well done" I felt like I didn't deserve it, I didn't do well, there was a obstacle I hadn't conquered. I go on to the second Platinum Rig (an obstacle with rings and different grips where you swing through it) My upper body was absolutely destroyed and I had burns on my arms from the logs. I give it two half-hearted tries and give up. Honestly at this point it just didn't matter anymore, I didn't have the wristband so who the fuck cared! I was so annoyed and angry.
Luckily for me the next obstacle was wreck bag carry. I just took the 50 pound (approximately 23kg) bag threw it up on my back and started running up the ski slope. I had to start walking when the incline got really steep but I started passing people on the incline, and I could see how much they struggled. I started to feel good again, on the way down I began to jog with the bag and it was fun again. On the short course, the obstacles are close to each other, with only short runs between them, just the way I like it. Next up is the high wall (8 feet), two girls are struggling I go around them, do it on the first try and I'm honestly happy. From there I think we went on to the monkey bar and pipes, not a problem! Further on to Irish Table, perfect! I love this one! Not a problem, first try and I'm running again! I get to the Suspended Wall (small bouldering walls hanging in the air) and they were FUN! I only have three obstacles left! First up is Skyline, you grab a handle, and then you just slide down. On the way you have to make three jumps while hanging on to the hold, as there are small blocks, you have to jump over. I get it on the first try, and it was fun! Straight on to the spinning wheels, I was worried about these as I have had trouble with these at Toughest races. For my first two attempts I get to the fourth wheel and then I slide off. For my third try I decide to do double grip (both hands on the wheel), that worked and I'm through. Second part of this obstacle are small rings that turn when you grab them. I get it on the first try, I'm almost through standing on the edge of the obstacle, when I start to loose my balance. I manage to get it under control and jump down on the ground. All the spectators where so sweet and cheered me on - and I didn't even know them! Last obstacle was the Inclined Wall with a rope, not a problem, I'm up and suddenly I'm crossing the finish line. At that moment I was HAPPY! A stranger came up to me and was like "you fought so well out there, you were really good", it was so sweet of him to say, and it made me smile. Walking back to the Denmark camp it hits me I don't have my wristband! The emotions starts to overwhelm me and tears are coming! I get back to the tent and I just see everybody happy and celebrating there victories. At that point I felt so lonely! I didn't belong in that group. I just grabbed my stuff and walked away. The disappointment was immense! I don't regret giving up my wristband, it was the right decision, I wasn't getting through it and it was taking all my strength, but wow I didn't imagine it would hit me that bad! I was basically crying on and off from when I crossed the finish line and for the rest of the evening.

Road to Redemtion

When I woke up Saturday I knew I wasn't gonna give up my wristband. That feeling of giving up and walking away was horrible and it was not something I was prepared to do again. I feel sick, but I know I NEED to eat, so I force myself to eat breakfast and a snack before my race at 11.30. Luckily for me the Platinum Samurai wasn't part of the course, so that was one thing less to worry about.
When I stand in the start area, I feel out of place, I much rather be basically anywhere else than there. We are send off on our 15 km race. I start out slow, when we get to the first obstacle which is the hurdles it's just chaos too many girls stop or jump in front of each other. After hurdles we start on a long up hill run, and I started feeling really good! I love running uphill! I conquered every obstacle on my way on my first try. We got to Net Climb on top of a hill, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, the threes were so pretty with their fall colours and the view over the lake was gorgeous! If it hadn't been for the race I would have loved to sit up there for a while and take in the view. We start running downhill and get to Dragon's back. Two of the Danish guys were standing there cheering and I remember being happy and telling them to enjoy their run later because it was gorgeous and awesome!
At the Platinum Rig, I fail my first attempts but I keep it cool and I nail it on my second try. Off to the wreck bag carry, and then back up hill (I think), the further I get the happier I am. I'm going pass so many athletes from previous heats and best of all I'm having FUN! I really enjoy it!
I had dreaded the warped wall, when I get to it I see girls standing there looking defeated. I stop for a minute to catch my breath and get my heart rate down (there was a LOT of up hill running). I go for the wall and I get it on my first try. I continue on and get to Skull Valley which was bouldering grip formed as skulls with some ropes in between, I get to the end and reach for the bell to indicate I made it, but then I slip. I shake my arms and give it another go straight away and get through. Next is Low Platinum Rig which was like a meter tall (or low). I get to the very end, make my last swing to cross the yellow line (which means you completed the obstacle), but my feet touch the ground 2 cm on the wrong side of the line. I grab some water from the water station and then go for my second try. This one is easier as I noticed some useful moves some of the other athletes used. As the rings where so low, instead of holding on to them with their hands, I saw some girls putting their arm through. It was brilliant as they save their grip (this obstacle was grip intense!!) and they automatically got further off the ground. I get through the rig on my second attempt, and I'm running again. I pass I girl who was tired, I remember trying to cheer her on saying "you can do this, we just need to get through Stairway to Heaven, from there on the rest is easy!"

Stairway to Nowhere

Well I get to the famous Stairway to Heaven! This was probably the obstacle that I had been the most worried about going into the race! I knew my upper body strength wasn't where I wanted it to be. I'm not the girl who can do countless of pull ups, on a GOOD day I can do four strict pull ups in one set, and despite the fact that I've been working on my campus board skills for six months I can only get half way up. But I was confident, the first 11 km of the race had been going so well! I give it a try, I don't make it to the top, but I still think I can do this - I just need to figure out how. I give it another go, and another and another! I try kipping, I fight my way to the top of the Stairway several times, but I just can't make the transition to the other side and I fall down and land in the hay. My hands are ripped, blood is running down my fingers and I try to dry it off in my vest. I need to have strangers help me get the hay out of my hair from all my falls! Some of the other Danish girls get to the obstacle, some get through on their first attempt others don't. At one point Mica and I are sitting in the hay talking. Mica said "remember we do this because we like it and it's fun". At that point I don't think much of it, but later that sentence should prove important! Mica is amazing and in great style she gets through Stairway to Heaven. At one point we were 4 Danes there together fighting Stairway to Hell, but it was back to just me again. I start crying, but I refused to give up AGAIN! The clock is ticking and the 5 hour time cap is getting closer, I think my Garmin says I've been at it for around 4 hours and 15 minutes in total. I was so grateful, that I for the first time ever had stuffed my sports bra with an energy bar and 2 energy gels (they also proved helpful for grip, because they were sticky).
I talk to one of the other girls there, she says, if you can get to the top, then just jump down and touch the last step instead of doing the transition. I was like "wait ! What!! Can I do that??" She told me one other girl had just done it! WTF I just spend about 2 1/2 hour up there trying to make that transition! I need to do 4 pull ups to get to the top, I kip and kick and make it up there (don't think I have made as many pull ups in my entire life as I did that day!). When I get up there, I start moving my lower body so I get some swing, from there I just throw myself towards the last step on the opposite side. I touch it and land on the ground! I look up at the official who nods "IT'S APPROVED" - I start running again. I have lots of energy and I'm running against the clock! I get to several obstacles, one of them being power pull, the thin wire burns my open wounds but I keep pushing and complete it. Then I get to Rope Climb. Normally rope climbs aren't a problem for me, I'm not fast, but I get it done. On my first attempt I almost get to the top, but my hands have nothing left, so I just slide/fall down - I just added rope burns to my already destroyed hands, but it didn't matter. I decided to take a break, I sit in the hay and try to gather my strength. I give it a second go, I get to about the same point only one or two moves away from the bell, and then I fall. My hands just wouldn't hold on anymore, my body is tired! Somehow I land underneath the rope next to me. The guy on the rope starts yelling "get the girl away" I roll to the side, where I just lay on my back with my eyes closed. I can hear more people saying "is she okay" I give them a thumps up - somehow I was physically okay, besides ripped hands and shins I hadn't hurt my myself from any of the many falls. I sit in the  hay and cry!

The wristband

The sweetest girl comes over to me asking if I'm okay. She says "you can still finish and get your medal!" The thought hadn't even crossed my mind. I had fought SO hard to keep my wristband, finishing without it wasn't an option. I started to worry what would happen if I attempt the rope climb again, it must have been about 5-6m, I could get seriously hurt, if I fell down again. I remembered what Mica told me earlier "remember we do this because we like it and it's fun". It wasn't fun sitting in the hay crying, having strangers trying to comfort me, and if I attempted Rope Climb again, and fell, I could get seriously hurt. I realised the only thing to do was give up my wristband. Sobbing and with tears rolling down my cheeks I walked to the official and stretched my right arm so she could take my precious wristband. She and so many of the others at Rope Climb were so worried I was hurt, because I couldn't stop crying. I was only crying because of my wristband though. I started running again, I get to another Net Climb, the net hurts my hands, it wasn't fun but I made it. I got to the monkey bar and pipes, I had nothing left to fight for. I get up there, grab hold of the monkey bar. But there was nothing left in my hands and that thin monkey bar was no treat for the hands "fuck it" and I jump down, I had done it Friday, so I knew I could do it, which was really comforting for me to know. The next obstacle is Irish table, it requires no grip, and thanks to two seasons of military obstacle course training I know what technique. On to Floating Walls, my bouldering paid off, I know to use my feet, so not a problem just through them and then to Skyline, fell on my first attempt but get through on my second try. Spinning wheels, again I completed them the day before, I knew to use both hands. I get through the first four on my second attempt and then on to the smaller ones. I get half way through them but then I just can't hold on any longer. I think I used a different technique than on the Friday, but it clearly didn't work. In an attempt to explain myself I show my hands to the official. I felt like I needed an excuse as to why I could not complete it. She was horrified "that's the worse I've seen all day" she said. As the spinning wheels and smaller rings are part of the same obstacle I had to start with the spinning wheels again. I decide to give, but when I start to walk away, I change my mind and give it another go. I get half way through but I just couldn't hold on any longer. I give up! I walk over to the last obstacle. It's a high wall with a rope! I get over and run to the finish line. I cross it and then I just throw myself on the ground and start crying (yet again).
I've seen pictures from when I cross that finish line, my smile looks forced (but you smile when you see the photographer) and I just look defeated and tired!

What's next

On Sunday I had to give up on doing the Team Relay, I had the running part of the relay, but it included pipes and other things where I needed my hands and grip. I decided not to do it, and one of the other girls step in and do it for me, my hands were useless and they hurt. Also, I was still so disappointed with myself from Saturday that honestly, I didn't want to have another bad race experience.
That evening most of Team Denmark went partying! Not me! I didn't feel like I had anything to celebrate. Many of the others could celebrate their great results, I had 2 races, 0 wristbands - at that point I was defeated!

My self confidence disappeared somewhere in Blue Mountains. It has been gone since, however, it was kind enough to replace itself with lots of self-doubt. With my next race less than a month away, I started to worry! "Can I do it? They are introducing new obstacles - oh no I will fail! I can't believe I have to give up ANOTHER wristband!!"
BUT I can honestly say it has taken me until this very moment, writing this blog, to find my self confidence again! I don't know why, but writing this has been SO good for me. I realised there were so many new and unknown obstacles I did conquer. Less than a year ago (10 months to be exact), I couldn't do a monkey bar or rings. I simply didn't have the grip strength for it. My OCRWC 3 km race and 15 km race were my OCR race number 5 and 6. I've come so far, in just two months (my first real race, which was where I also qualified was mid August). Now I have the winter to work on my weaknesses and get stronger, leaner and meaner! And I'm SO excited and motivated! I know I need to focus on the mental part as well, as that's a big factor for me, but I'll get there. I have my nunchucks and my new pull up bar, I'm ready to work hard for this! Bring on OCR season 2017!


Popular posts from this blog

2018 in pictures

Julsø Ultra 60km

A status of 2018