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.
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!
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!
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!