Obstacle Academy

So during a week in early November, I was in Minnesota, mostly freezing my ka-zizzie off, and training for American Ninja Warrior at Obstacle Academy, owned by the Ninja of the North, Sarah Schoback.  And I just have to say I was also able to witness, in person, the other-worldly talents of Kyle Soderman and Hunter Guerard.  That was worth the trip, right there.


On the first day we just kind of played around, to see what I was able to do.  It was my first time trying devil steps (and actually most everything I did), and I was excited to see I could actually do it!


I don’t have too many pictures from the first day, but it was very exciting and encouraging.  I was super nervous to meet Sarah in person, I didn’t want to disappoint her since she had spent so much time mentoring me long distance.  But she was a great cheerleader and encourager, and I soon felt comfortable(ish).

The next day I took a class with Leif Sundberg, and he was just an awesome teacher.  So kind, so encouraging, it was really great.  And my hands got tore.up.

But I had to push on, so I just wrapped it up and kept going.  It was significantly harder and more painful after this, I must say.


As the days went on my hands got more and more tore up until I just couldn’t do anymore.  The last session I had on the last night I pretty much just had to sit out.  It was very disappointing.  I was very disappointed in myself, disappointed I couldn’t finish strong, disappointed I couldn’t do more.  But overall, the trip was a great success, and I’ll have great memories of it.  And I’m proud of myself for taking the leap and going.  And I thank Sarah for her hospitality.

I did have some down time between training, and got to check out the Mall of America.  I had to pick up souvenirs for the family, so I walked the whole thing twice I think.  That thing is big.


Also, since I was staying in a hotel with a mini fridge and microwave, and not familiar with the area, I stopped at walmart and got a few things for some meals.  Since I was working so hard, I wasn’t worried about my intake, so I splurged on Stouffer’s mac and cheese, which is pretty much the best frozen dinner ever made, some fruit and a tiny pumpkin pie.


I know most people can’t fully appreciate this picture, but it’s pretty much my bliss.  At home, I never get to sit down to a quiet meal by myself.  I usually scrounge leftovers after making a meal for 4 kids.  Or if I do make myself an actual meal, I have 2 babies climbing around my legs, usually spitting up on my lap while I’m eating, and 2 other kids begging for whatever it is on my plate.  It’s always loud.  Everything is always a disaster mess.  So to be able to sit in a quiet hotel room, with a heating pad in my lap to keep warm, eat my favorite TV dinner in peace, while reading a book.  It was just about the closest thing to zen I can think of.  It was definitely jarring to be in this peaceful setting for a few days, and then come back to the chaos.  It took a little getting used to.


The coldness also took a little getting used to.  Much different than my little South Texas town.  But I actually really enjoyed the weather, too.  It makes it easier to get into the holiday spirit when it’s cold.  And I did go to high school in Chicago, so it was familiar.  IMG_2253



So back in the summer I was trying to decide what route my fitness journey was going to look like, what path it was going to take.  I had tried running and found it incredibly boring.  I did a triathlon, and while I had a fun experience with it that day because I did it with friends and I love competition, it’s not something that I enjoyed enough to want to continually train for.  And then I did the Warrior Dash and fell in love with the mud/OCR concept.  I know a lot of hard core OCR people will say the Warrior Dash is not true OCR, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Then Season 9 of American Ninja Warrior came on and I started watching it like I do most other summers.  I never considered that it was something I could actually do, but I saw it through new eyes, since I had been recently introduced to the world of OCR.  I thought if you wanted to be a contestant on the show, you had to be in your early 20’s, preferably male.  If you were female you definitely couldn’t have kids.  (Unless your name is Maggi Thorne, and then you’re just not really human anyway, so it doesn’t count).  You needed to be a former or current gymnast or rock climber.  Being a professional stunt person helped, too.

Then on July 3, I believe, the Kansas City qualifiers aired, and I saw Sarah Schoback compete.  She had been a stay at home mom before getting into OCR.  She started training, opened her own ninja gym, and made it on the show!  She wasn’t a gymnast or a rock climber.  She wasn’t in her 20’s.  She had 2 kids.  Her story totally resonated with me, and I decided right then and there that I would start training to be on the show, too.  If she could do it, I could do it.  Why I thought that, I’m not sure, but I did.

For those of you that have followed my blog, this story is not new.

On July 8th, I contacted her on social media and told her how inspired I was by her and how I wanted to start training too.  She was so gracious to message me back, and that started a long distance mentoring, training, friendship, etc.  She gave me a list of exercises to do.  I bought a pull-up bar for the house.  I started getting my nutrition in check.  And I got after it.

Progress was painfully slow.  I realized how weak and out of shape I was, and I realized how slowly progress was coming.  Sarah was also a great cheerleader.  So after training for a few months, I did one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, and I flew to Minnesota all by myself, to train with her in person for a few days.  It was scary because I didn’t want to disappoint her.  It was scary to really test how far I’d come.  And it was scary because I hate to fly and get terrible anxiety and panic attacks on a plane.

The trip was humbling and encouraging and painful and disappointing and exhilarating all at once.

This was the temperature when I left Texas, and when I arrived in Minnesota…


Funny story about this next picture.  I was so cold on the plane, I couldn’t hardly stand it.  I don’t drink coffee, but they had hot tea so I got that.  I ate all my snacks, and then got the brilliant idea to put my used up tea bag into my snack bag to make a ‘hot hands’ type thing to keep me warm.  And it worked fantastic.  But I didn’t really think about that fact that as I was squeezing this hot bag between my fingers, all the hot water was seeping out of the tea bag into the snack bag, and then when I turned my hand over, all the hot tea water spilled all over my lap.  Which burned for a second then turned very cold.  So I arrived to MN with the front of my pants all tea-stained.  Not a great start.


By the way, those Delta cookies are LEGIT!


I don’t travel a lot, especially by myself, so while I was figuring out how to get out of the airport, and find the shuttle service to the hotel, I kind of pictured myself on the Amazing Race.  I mean, if I could navigate the MN airport, I could totally get myself all around the world, right??


And I’ve never taken a bathroom selfie in an airport, so why not.  This is the best I could do for 20 degree weather.


I’ll tell you more about my training next time…


Rugged Maniac


So I was out of town a week in early November, then I got back in time to start working on Thanksgiving.  After that, all 4 of my kids have birthdays between Nov 27 and Dec 10.  Then I turn around and it’s Christmas.  It’s a crazy busy season, but now I have a week to breathe before all the busy schedules start up again.  I figured I’d try to get all caught up on my blog before then.


The first weekend in November was the Rugged Maniac.  It was the first race I got to run with my husband!  And it was his first OCR of any kind, or mud run.  He’s a runner, but he prefers longer distances, and without the mud.  Or fire.  (Bor.ring)

It was neat to see Mylo Obstacle Fitness had a booth there.  They taught me how to scale a tall wall, I think it was 8 feet?  Maybe 7?  I had never tried before and it was fun.  It took A LOT of convincing to get Kevin to do it too, but he finally tried it, and totally rocked it, for the record.


The race was really fun.  I just can’t get enough of these.  I will say I don’t love the running parts.  This particular race had a lot of obstacles grouped together close, and then long stretches of running.  I was proud of how well I did the obstacles, I really breezed through them.  And then really sucked at the running.  I feel like if I got better at running, I could actually be competitive.  That’s one of my goals for the next year, to do a competitive wave.


I liked that there was a little different variety of obstacles than at Warrior Dash.  The rings were fun, although challenging when your hands are covered in mud.  I had to get a few handfuls of dirt on them beforehand to help with the slipperiness.  They had a couple inflatable obstacles that were different, and they had a warped wall.


I didn’t like that they seemed to have several of the same obstacles.  I think I crawled through 3 different mud pits underneath barbed wire, just with different names.  And I didn’t love the slide at the end.  That was the only obstacle that I had some fear factor with.  And I was disappointed with the scarcity of photogs.  We couldn’t find any in the staging/party area.  We wondered around for a long time after we finished the race to try to find one to take our muddy ‘after’ photo.  I finally had to ask Mylo to take our picture and text it to me.  At the Warrior Dash, they had photograph backdrops and lots of photogs wandering around to take pictures, not to mention everyone on the course itself.


But all in all it was a lot of fun, and I’d do it again.  And I plan to.