Strength & Speed

"If you want something you never had, you have to be willing to do something you have never done."

OCR America Day 1: Tough Mudder

OCR AMERICA: DAY 1: June 19th

Tough Mudder New England in West Dover Vermont

     I had planned on writing a quick recap after each event that would go on Mud Run Guide or Strength & Speed. Unfortunately, between running, driving and getting ready for the following day, it quickly became apparent that was not feasible. Instead here is a rundown of each event by day. If you prefer to listen rather than read, I was interviewed by Jay Bode daily after each event on the “Overcome and Run Podcast”. An abbreviated rollup will be on within the week of this posting and if you want the long version of the story, an OCR America digital book will be available by early 2017. The digital download book will be 75% story of the event including origins, participants, details and 25% training guide, where I will pass off lessons learned from a multi-day Obstacle Course Race (OCR).

     Tough Mudder New England was the first day of my multi-day OCR America charity fundraiser. While I was excited to have Tough Mudder as part of my event, if I was picking the perfect venue this would not have been it. Tough Mudder New England is probably one of the hardest Tough Mudder’s in the US. With 3,400 ft. of elevation gain per lap, it is a mountain course that had terrain that reminded me more of a Spartan Race than a Tough Mudder.

     I was planning on using Sunday as Day 1 of OCR America to ensure I had a seven day unbroken streak of events. Luckily, this allowed my friends Jordan Smith and Brianne Kuchera, to do a recon of the event the day before. Jordan ran both Saturday and Sunday, so he became my pacer for Sunday. This not only took a lot of mental stress off of me, but also ensured I was running at a pace that would let us finish in around two hours without having to redline resulting in a severely reduced ability to perform the following days.

     Tough Mudder brought their standard affair of quality obstacles and although it was a mountain course still managed to put key obstacles in view of spectators. This was my first Tough Mudder of 2016, but they delivered with some great new obstacles and tweaks to last year’s models, which definitely kept things interesting. Block Ness Monster, which I had seen at World’s Toughest Mudder 2015, was up on the side of the mountain out of view but after completing the obstacle, it was obvious why this was voted 2016’s best obstacle. The rotating blocks floating in water require teamwork or a single person who is strong/fast enough to get over the blocks before they rotate.

     My personal favorite obstacle was Pyramid Scheme, a giant slip wall that also requires teamwork. Arriving at the wall with just Jordan and I created a unique challenge. Luckily some volunteers were present to help. Jordan set up a base, I stood on his shoulders… and then Jordan did a shoulder press with my feet so he was at full extension. With the volunteer reaching down I still could not reach. Eventually I went on my tippee toes and my arm muscles warmed up enough to stretch the final couple of inches. The volunteer and I touched finger tips than managed to crawl our way into a full hand hold. He pulled me up and I reached back to help Jordan. Another volunteer was needed to give Jordan a boost from the bottom to complete the obstacle.

     We continued our movement to Everest 2.0, which is fairly hard to complete by yourself. Jordan and I both attacked the obstacle and made it up first try, unassisted on video. Between Everest and our success at Pyramid Scheme, it made it a very satisfying and memorable event.

     Our pace ended up being a little slower than planned, which means we arrived after the last wave had started. When we went to start again, TMHQ said they would have to ATV us to the last placed runner to ensure we had medical support. We told them that we were fast, we would definitely catch the last place runner quickly. They still seemed hesitant so we stated “if we reach an obstacle without medical support, we would bypass it.” Being trusted, known Legionnaires, Tough Mudder granted us this one time exception in support of OCR America and let us back on the course.

     Up the mountain we went and 50 feet before the first obstacle, we passed the last participants. Once we ensured that TMHQ would not be waiting on us, we slowed the pace way down to conserve energy for the next six days. The result was the first lap took about 2 hours and 5 minutes, while the second lap took 2 hours and 55 minutes.

     The day ended with the two of us crossing the finish line having earned another two orange headbands. I immediately slammed down two scoops of Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite (15% off first order) and headed to the nearest restaurant to eat a meal within an hour. While I normally try to follow a similar practice, this refueling process would become religious ritual over the next week since the ability to perform the following day would be so crucial. Day 1 was in the books and I was still feeling great despite heavy elevation gains.

Donation Link for Folds of Honor

DAY 1: Tough Mudder New England Final Stats: 21 Miles, 6736 feet of elevation gain, 50 obstacles, 2350 calories burned

OCR America Total: 21 Miles, 6736 feet of elevation gain, 50 obstacles, 2350 calories burned

Daily Overcome and Run Podcast Recap Link

This is an abbreviated excerpt taken from a working copy of my OCR America digital book, scheduled for release in 2017.

All images are from Strength & Speed photographers.

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