When I learned back in June that I’d been selected to join Team Australia and represent my country at the OCRWC in Cincinnati I was nervous but so excited at the prospect of running alongside the world’s best. This morning when I woke up I was still excited and nervous, but pumped for the day.
The OCRWC works differently to other OCRs – you get a wristband at the start of the race and if you choose not to complete any obstacle it will be cut off. I wanted to keep that wristband for as long as I could and was determined to see how far I could get.
Turning up at the race site when it was 0 degrees threw my mental state a bit as I was concentrating on the cold rather than on getting a good start in the race. There ended up only being about 60 elite women and I was proud to be standing alongside the best in the world.
The starting gun went off and I started running what would be my toughest race ever. At about the 1km mark I already started struggling mentally as I was cold and was letting the outside world affect my performance. I got to the first obstacle (5 foot walls) and saw Deanna Blegg on the sidelines. She asked if I had any Tim Tams (I gave her one in Tahoe) and I said I had Vegemite so I was ready for the day. The first strength obstacle was a walk with a 50lb wreck bag up some lovely hills which was easy enough.
I could see one girl in front of me and I wanted to keep up with her so I trudged along the riverbank trying not to let my feet get caught in the sludge. The water was absolutely freezing but luckily there wasn’t much wind. My hands however were like ice despite having gloves, and I knew that grip would be key.
I surprised myself by getting up an obstacle called The Destroyer, and then stalled for 20 minutes at Dragon’s Back (where you jump and grab a pole). Again I let someone else affect my mental game as there was a girl next to me freaking out which led to me freaking out. The crowd was yelling encouragement and even the Race MC (Coach Pain) came up to give me a pep talk and helped work through my nerves. When I finally jumped all I could hear was about 50 people yelling congratulations at me.
I then struggled getting over another high obstacle but didn’t want to give up my band. The monkey bars (V shaped) killed my forearms and fingers but there was no way I was giving up. I had to tell myself “grip the bar” as my hands were so cold that I wanted to let go.
There were some more obstacles and plenty of rocky gullys and muddy hills, but the one obstacle that got me was the Sternum Crusher.
Basically you jump and try to get over a high log, which sounds simple enough. I stayed for an hour and tried 7 times to get over it. I was getting my leg up but the numbness in my fingers meant I couldn’t hold on to get my other leg over. After an hour I admitted defeat and they cut my wrist band. Then the tears started.
The rest of the obstacles were really tough for me, with only a few being easy to get through. The terrain was very technical at times and although I tried to run as much as I could I struggled. The cold affected my breathing and even though I had a space blanket I wanted to push on.
My breaking point was at Mile 9 when I reached the tyro lean traverse. I couldn’t get my feet on the platform at the end and the tears started. I’d been going for almost 7 hours and I wanted to finish so badly. Then a stranger by the name of Amy grabbed my hand and literally dragged me up the next hill. All I heard was her voice telling. Me to keep going and so I pushed as much as I could and dug really deep.
We got to the last few obstacles and at the high slant wall I broke down crying again. The Team Australia guys were standing here yelling encouragement, but my arms were so tired and I just couldn’t do anymore. and Amy stepped up and helped push me over that damn wall and weren’t going to give up on me. I skipped the last few obstacles due to sheer exhaustion and made it over the last slant wall with the girls pushing me once again.
The tears kept coming and by the time I crossed the finish line 7+ hours after I started I was sobbing. Everyone surrounded me with hugs and I took a few smiling photos before crying again.
I’ve never faced such challenges, and have never left everything I had out on course, until today. I gave the race 110%, mentally and physically, and never let myself be defeated unless I tried my hardest to push through. A burpee penalty has nothing on the defeat I felt when failing obstacles repeatedly. I am proud of myself for pushing on and definitely have a lot of work to do mentally and physically to become the best I can be.
Thanks to everybody in Team Australia for being such an awesome group to be around. Let’s see if my body is up for a team race tomorrow!
OCRWC – 17 October 2015
King’s Compond, Mason (OH).