OCR Transformations- Tarren Soukup

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Author’s Note: The following transformation story is being told by Tarren herself. No better way to see the impact of someone’s story than through his or her own eyes. Enjoy this month’s OCR Transformation brought to you by Tarren Soukup!

TARREN’S STORY

My weight was never something I had to work at. I was always little. 5’1 and maybe 105 lbs. I was never very active, partly because I didn’t have to be. That all changed when I became pregnant with my son. I was 22 years old, and extremely naïve about the whole thing. I had it in my head that the second I gave birth, I would return to a size 0. The first 5 months went pretty smooth. I didn’t gain too much weight, and I felt good. However after my wedding, my health started declining.

The first indication that something was wrong, was my blood pressure spiking. The doctor’s felt it was too early for pre-eclampsia, so they sent me home with instructions to take it easy and follow up. Over the next few weeks, my family watched helplessly as I worsened. I started ballooning out in an almost comical way. I felt like the blueberry girl from Willy Wonka. Later we learned it was my body filling up with fluid because my organs were failing. By the time the Doctor’s finally realized the severity of the situation, I had already lost function of both kidneys, and was in the midst of liver failure. Just about 2 months prior to my due date, I was being taking to the hospital in an ambulance, with a shaky prognosis.

Tarren Hospital

After several more complications, I had an emergency C-Section. Despite the trauma of it all, I birthed a healthy, albeit tiny baby boy. He would be my only child, as the risk was too great to birth another. When all was said and done, I went from 105 lbs, to 196… nearly doubling my weight.

YO-YO

The next several years were fraught with yo- yo diets and inconsistent workout routines. Despite being married to a professional athlete, I couldn’t seem to make anything work. I would go through bouts of depression, not recognizing the girl in the mirror. Even after a corrective surgery, to restore some of the damage done abdominal wall, I was unhappy.

I remember one time in particular. I was on vacation with my family, and feeling a bit more confident, as I’d recently lost some weight, being the lightest I’d been in years, which was somewhere around 145 lbs. On this day, I was walking down the beach with my husband, and we were laughing at something my son had done. I remember looking up to see two young women walking past us. Tanned, and toned. Beautiful. They were looking at my husband…and then at me. One turned to the other and asked why he was with that.

Tarren Beach Before

WANTING MORE 

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to fuel the change for me. I hovered around 140 for the next few years. I worked out sporadically, and only to keep up with my family. I did some road races with my husband, and a few triathlons. It was still a struggle. At this time, my husband found a new love. OCR’s. As a former professional downhill mountain bike racer, he was always looking for the next thing. He started Spartan races in 2011. The Killington Beast was his first. I remember hearing him recap his experience and thinking “oh hell no” no way would I ever do that.

Then last year he talked me into doing the Tuxedo Sprint. He would run the elite wave in the morning, and then again with me. When it was time to jump the wall into the starting corral, I need a boost. It made me feel insecure, as though I shouldn’t have been there. Despite struggling through the course, with the help of my husband, I didn’t do terrible. And crossing the finish line was a feeling of pride and accomplishment that I hadn’t felt before. It made me want more.

That summer, I did three more races including the Palmerton Sprint (killer) and the Barre Sprint. While I wasn’t training as much as I should have, I would get excited about the races, and felt as if they brought me closer with my husband. The day before the Barre race, I was outside with my dogs. One was roaming free, and the other attached with rope lead. I was tired after working all day, and not paying close attention. I threw a ball for the dog running loose, will the other ran for it. Unbeknownst to me, his rope was wrapped around my ankle, and when he ran, it cut me nearly to the bone. However being the stubborn person I am, I taped it up and raced anyway.

Tarren Spartan

I was hospitalized later that night with a severe infection. The antibiotics weren’t taking, and there was a real threat of having to amputate me foot. Luckily they got control of the infection before it reached that point. Yet the recovery was a rough one. I was on a crutch for a few months following that, and started eating like crap. Over the next few months I had gained 20 lbs.

ENOUGH

In December of 2015 I had enough. My marriage was on the rocks, and I was miserable. I knew that the only person who could change that was me. So I signed up for cross fit at a local gym, Pioneer Valley Cross Fit. I started going 3-4 times a week, and absolutely fell in love with it. The coaches were super helpful, and felt extremely invested in my success. Although I felt myself growing stronger, I didn’t change my poor eating habits, so the weight didn’t really change.

I did not truly have my “ah-ha” moment until the Socal Super of 2016. It was my longest Spartan race to date, and didn’t do very much training for it. And boy did I suffer. I huffed and puffed along the rolling hills, dragging my tired body over the obstacles. I was unable to get over any of the walls unassisted, and failed many obstacles. When I crossed the finish line, I felt an overwhelming disappointment. It was in that moment I swore to myself I would never feel like that again. This was something I could control. I didn’t have to be a slave to complacency. I would become the person I felt I was meant to be…leaner, faster, stronger.

Immediately upon returning home, I did something that would ensure that kick in the ass I needed. I signed up for a bikini competition. It was a training program I had done before with real results, and the trainer was a former body builder, Bonnie Lefrak. She had the nutrition down to a science. Along with my nutrition program, I continued doing cross fit 4-5 times a week, and cardio at least 5 x a week. I began incorporating hill work, and mountain climbs. In the first couple weeks I dropped 10 lbs and felt unstoppable. With the mentality of “Go big or go home” I signed up for the NJ Beast. I was seeking redemption.

Tarren After

By the time the Beast rolled around, I was down to 125 lbs, and was stronger than I had ever been. I was still unprepared for how well I would do at the race. I nailed most of the obstacles, including the rope climb (thanks to my Cross Fit coach) and powered through the entire course. This time crossing the finish line, I felt like a god damn super hero.

The people who helped contribute to my success are first and foremost my husband, Jason Soukup. His drive and motivation keeps me going every day. Also Ryan Katz, and the team at Pioneer Valley Cross Fit, for helping me find a love for weight lifting, and providing an amazing community of support. And Bonnie Lefrak with the Fitness Asylum. Bikini Boot camp will whip anyone’s butt into shape.

CURRENT WORKOUT PLAN

My current work out routine is 4-5 days of cross fit, 3 days of elevation work, 2 days of running, and I try to walk for at least an hour on my lunch breaks. I am training for the Killington Beast, and am hoping to do the Montreal Beast and Super as well. I am trying for a triple Trifecta this year. My weight February was 141.3. Today its 120.

Tarren Transformation

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OCR Transformations- Jason Gelleny

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Jason grew up playing all types of sports. Weight lifting and baseball were his main concentrations through high school and he had hoped to earn a scholarship. However, a major back injury during his senior year eliminated his chances for a scholarship to the states to play University baseball. Without a real back up plan from playing sports, Jason quickly joined the work force after high school. He struggled for years to find his calling, but he eventually found a career in Emergency Medical Services.

Jason Beach before

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

The job market for an EMT was extremely competitive and typically takes several years to your first full time job. The first few years, Jason often spent his time working for multiple companies in casual employment positions including some volunteer positions. His shifts would end up all over the place anywhere from 24-96 hour shifts at times. This crazy routine took a toll on Jason’s life in more ways than he realized. There were periods when Jason would have to work for four different EMS services and travel all over for stretches up to 31 days at a time. This lifestyle caused him to make some pretty poor decisions for his health which ended up becoming bad habits over the course of three years. His social life diminished to just the people he was working with any given day due to his sporadic and hectic schedule. Jason had also stopped working out and his eating habits had taken a nose dive. His meals would consist of gas station quick stops, to fast food, or even hospital vending machines. His weight and overall health took a negative turn and before he knew it he had gone from a size 28 pant to a 38. His weight had also gone from a healthy 150 pounds to an unhealthy 210 pounds and at 5’6” he was considered pretty overweight.

Jason Fishing

FRIENDLY MOTIVATION 

Jason was finally motivated to change his years of bad habits once they all added up and he hit his all-time low. It had gotten to a point where his stress levels were mounting, his health was poor, his confidence was shot, and he did not feel like he had much control over his own life. Thanks to his best friend who had stuck by Jason’s side through the ups and downs… he was motivated to get back into the gym once again.

Starting back at the gym was a little uncomfortable for Jason, but he knew that if he kept going that he would eventually get his feet under him again. The gym used to be his comfort zone and the place where he felt at home, but it had become foreign to him and he now felt like an outsider. What kept him going was realizing that although he felt that he had lost control of his life… the one place he could regain that control was in the gym. As Jason continued to get back in shape his confidence was slowly coming back and he was able to find happiness once again.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED 

After seeing an ad on Facebook one day, Jason decided to sign up for his first Spartan Sprint. He wanted to challenge himself and try something he had never done before. The event took place in Red Deer Alberta and Jason remembers a time where he was all alone running through the trail and he fell in love with the trees and environment around him. With only the wilderness and the sound of his heart beat surrounding him… Jason found himself again and knew that this was going to be his new life.

Jason Beach

TESTING LIMITS 

Jason’s second race was BattleFrog Race Series elite heat in Las Vegas back in February 2016. He was able to take plenty of time to prepare for this OCR event because he wanted to test his limits and see how hard he was able to push himself. He even hired a personal trainer in January to better prepare himself for the race. For his second event and first elite heat, Jason really proved himself by finishing 15th of 77 men in the heat. This success gave him hope that maybe he could really get good at this sport. This was the turning point for Jason’s training that took him from a body building program to full on OCR addict.

Jason crawling

SUPPORT SYSTEM 

In the past year since starting his transformation journey, Jason has been very fortunate to have such a great group of people contributing to his success. His best friend who got him back in the gym, his family who have supported him through it all, his colleagues who supported his crazy workouts between calls, his trainer who continues to bring out the best in him, and his sister who he trains and runs with. Recently, he had the chance to attend an OCR training camp where he got to meet some amazing people who inspired him to push harder in his own training.

CURRENT TRAINING PLAN

Currently, Jason trains with his friend and personal trainer Kory Allen who designed his program. The program consists of mostly two-a-days with sprint circuits, EMOM’s, and 60km of running a week with a ton of grip work mixed in. April 2015, Jason was 210 pounds and dropped to a healthy 150 pounds by November 2015. He is now about 160 pounds with muscle mass and specialized training built in.

Jason Transformation Pic

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OCR Transformations- Nicholas Hoyer

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Nicholas was overweight as a child, but his battle with obesity did not begin until after high school. Over the four years of college, his weight went from 235 pounds to 335 pounds. At the age of 26, Nicholas hit his max weight at 425 pounds.

Nicholas College

COMFORT FOOD

Since the age of seven, Nicholas had been made fun of because of his weight. He ate to feel better and gained more weight as a result. Luckily his outgoing personality helped him to make friends along the way, but they all enjoyed the same bad habit…food. Nicholas played golf all four year of high school at Varsity level, but his insecurities hindered him from going out for any other sports. Once he reached college, his busy schedule caused him to eat out more and more causing him to gain 100 pounds his first two years out of high school.

AROUND THE CORNER

Nicholas’ mindset changed drastically once his daughter Avery was born in 2005. He wanted to be a major part of her life and he knew he needed to lose weight and change his lifestyle in order to do so. His biggest motivator was to not be an embarrassment to his daughter when she got older. Nicholas recalled a dream he had when Avery was just a baby, “I went to drop her off at school and she asked me to keep going and drop her off around the corner so she didn’t have to be seen with me”. That was one of his biggest moments that convinced him to take control of his life.

Nicholas and Avery

CHANGE IN HABITS

When she was six months old Nicholas decided to go to the gym and eat healthy. His diet initially consisted of Clif Bars, Smart One frozen meals, and salads. For a year straight he did not stray from this routine and was able to lose over 100 pounds. The only cardio he would endure was the elliptical machine which he built his time from 15 minutes to 90 minutes a day within the first year.

Nicholas First OCR

SETTING GOALS 

The first goal he set for himself was to one day do a Tough Mudder. He saw videos of the event wanted to be a part of the fun. He would run and lift weights in order to train for the first race, but his biggest struggle was making sure he did not over eat. After completing his first Tough Mudder he felt a sense of accomplishment, pride, and motivation. It was one of the best feelings of his life. From this point on Nicholas set new goals for himself to continuously work hard and continue making a difference in his life. Since his first Tough Mudder, Nicholas has participated in many OCR events as well as marathons (full and half).

Nicholas Spartan Transformation

Nicholas has several people in his life that have helped him in his journey. His wife Lisa has become his running and training partner and Carl Hultgren who owns PFT Pure Form Gym where Nicholas is now a trainer.

Nicholas 4 way Transformation

CURRENT TRAINING PLAN

Nicholas currently does HIIT training Monday through Friday for one hour a day and runs about two to three miles those days as well. On Saturdays he coaches a Spartan workout which is a circuit for an hour and on Sundays he runs six to twelve miles. Nicholas also loves adding some basketball games to his training routine to mix things up!

His highest weight was 425 pounds and his is currently a fit and healthy 198 pounds.

Nicholas Final

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OCR Transformations- Katie Purcell

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Katie grew up in Fairfield County, the suburbia of Connecticut which many would reference as “the OC of the East Coast”. Although she lived in a great location on the outskirts of New York City which allowed her to go to the city on the weekends and to the beach in the summer…the pressure of fitting in to a certain “norm” was very predominate. Social influences started shaping Katie’s future at a young age which would haunt her for years to come.

FOLLOWING THE TREND

One day during lunch in the 8th grade, Katie remembers her friends talking about dieting, starving themselves, and making themselves throw up in order to look a certain way. At the time Katie thought they were a bunch of attention crazed young girls, until the trend kept catching on among her group. Before she knew it, Katie was getting sucked in to this diet “trend”. From that point on she experienced the slippery slope of dieting which became easier for her to hide her habits when she was transferred out of town for high school.

Katie Before 3

Katie began to literally eat just a single apple a day and then the next day she would binge and purge. This vicious cycle took a toll on her mind and body. Katie would spend countless nights crying herself to sleep not knowing if she would wake up the next day from the lack of nutrients in her body. The whole experience put a lot of stress on her relationship with her family. Katie even had thoughts of not being able to graduate high school or succeed in college. Her college social life was also hindered by her eating disorder because she would constantly avoid social outings where food was involved (very limited time to hang out in college).

Katie Before 2

The stress and pressure of her habits came to a head when she dropped out of college halfway through her freshmen year. Once she got home, Katie went in to therapy for 6-8 months for general depression which in turn brought to light her eating issues that needed to be addressed in order for her to move forward in her life.

Katie Before 185

STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY

A few years ago, Katie was able to finally start going to the gym and take fitness more seriously (other than elliptical sessions to burn calories). Her friend Kristi asked her if she wanted to sign up for a Spartan Race that November. This gave her something to train for and she was able to tailor her workouts toward prepping for the Fenway Park Spartan Sprint. Having a goal gave Katie more motivation to work out in the right way so that she could develop strength enough to do the obstacles.

Katie Sand Bag

The impact of Katie’s first obstacle race left her with an indescribable feeling. In that moment, she was the proudest of herself she had ever thought possible. She felt invincible and grateful for how far she had come in order to get to that point. She knew that from finishing her first race, she was able to open an entirely new chapter of her life. She was now ready to take on any obstacle that came her way (literally). Previously, Katie was the girl who would actually black out just walking up stairs from being so unhealthy and nutrient deprived. After her first event, she knew that all of the hard work she had done for herself was paying off. The emotional, psychological, and physical growth Katie endured allowed her to complete the course. This event marked the moment that all of her baggage and pain was able to melt away…Katie was finally able to move forward with her new life.

Katie Back Flex

WOMAN IN THE MIRROR

The more she competed; Katie noticed that her race stats were actually pretty good compared to others. She was also able to deduct that her performance was better when she provided herself proper nutrition verse the days she didn’t. The experiences of OCR also helped Katie shift her priorities because of how proud she began to feel after finishing a race. She felt like she accomplished something while having healthy fun and her new healthy hobby allowed her to focus on the person in the mirror and not on the number on the scale. The new friendships she had developed at OCR events made her want to be a part of something instead of taking herself out of the game.

Katie Rope Swing

There was a memorable weekend for Katie that truly helped drive home the fact that in order to race efficiently, her health and nutrition had to be her number one focus. She did an event that allowed her to race the same course/ same location two weekends in a row. The first weekend, Katie had not taken care of her nutrition the way she needed to leading up to the event. This caused her to struggle with everything from the hills, running, and even some of the obstacles she would usually excel on. The second weekend, Katie was able to properly prepare and it was like night and day the experience she had. Her mind was better and she was able to overcome all of the challenges she had struggled with the previous weekend.

Katie Wall

BIGGER THAN

Katie’s parents have been incredibly supportive throughout her journey. Her race buddy Kristi is the one who first inspired her to take the next step in her recovery by signing up for an event. That push gave her hope to start something new and consider going out of her comfort zone. All of the “race friends” she has met along the way have also aided in her success. She also thanks her Spartan boyfriend Luke Walsh, Danielle Rheinhardt (founder of the non-profit Bigger Than The Bully), and others who have continued to be positive influences in her life.

Katie BF

CURRENT WORKOUT PLAN

Katie’s current training schedule varies because she likes to change it up. She currently works out about five to six days a week, but takes her rest days VERY seriously :). Her active days vary between OCR Bootcamp classes, long runs, Thai Kickboxing, HIIT, and a mix of cardio kickboxing and bootcamps. Katie is 5’7 and her lowest weight was 105 pounds, her highest weight was 185 pounds, and now she is a healthy 135 pounds.

Katie’s 2016 goals consist of completing five Spartan Race Trifectas, to earn a Spartan Coin to compete in Spartan World Championships, as well as compete in OCRWC (she recently placed 3rd at the Bermuda Triple Challenge which earned her a spot). She is also going back to school for her MBA. Katie has also earned a 2016 sponsorship with Honey Stinger brand.

Katie Transform 2

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OCR Transformations- Colin Menzies

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Colin grew up in a tiny village of about 500 people in a remote part of New Zealand. His house was nestled at the base of the hills and was surrounded by bush. On the hilltops where it plateaued out, the ground was all swampland. Colin and his friends would spend every hour they could hiking through the shrub, into the hills and onto the swampland to collect sphagnum moss (which was used to put in flower arrangements in the mid 1970’s). Each of them would take two coal bags at a time and fill them. Then they would carry them back down to the shed at Colin’s home where they would then clean the moss. The round trip was probably about 5-6km and each filled bag of wet moss weighed about 30kg. At seven years old, that was almost their entire body weight.

From the age of four, Colin played Rugby every weekend. He spent most of his youth as a very active kid which resulted in him being pretty slim while growing up. Colin has a ton of great memories spending time sleeping out in the bush, out on riverbanks, tubing down rivers, and doing fun community events. In school, Colin’s focus was to be either a geologist or an astronomer.

When Colin was 12, his parents split and he moved to the city. The city was the complete opposite of what he had known his life thus far. Suddenly, there were three people living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment surrounded by more apartments and lots of concrete. Without the close support of the community, Colin withdrew from life and really hid within himself. Colin’s grades started to drop at school and he was finding it difficult to make friends. Also, without sports to keep him motivated and involved…he started to drift.

When Colin was thirteen he had enough of city living and he wanted to go to the home he had known for years. Colin hopped on his bike and started pedaling. He remembers that there was a mountain range that divided the South Island of New Zealand and the city where he was from was on the other side. All Colin knew was that he needed to reach his home. After about three hours of cycling and realizing that the mountains kept getting taller and taller…he finally stopped and turned back around. Colin remembers this day as the day he became a quitter. On this day, he started giving up on overcoming obstacles in order to reach his goals.

Colin 1

OUT OF SIGHT

At the age of 23, Colin got on a plane and ended even farther from his goal of getting back home. Now half way around the world, he would find work through manual labor while traveling. At the end of each week he would relax by getting drunk and needless to say his health and fitness deteriorated over the next ten years.

In 2005, Colin moved back to New Zealand and after a mental decline…he was hospitalized for three weeks with severe stress and anxiety. “Is this me? How long am I going to be here staring at a wall?” thought Colin. One day, Colin left the hospital…better, but on prescription medication which he would continue to be on for the next decade. He enrolled in classes to help deal with anxiety and stress such as yoga, nature walks, etc… in an attempt to enjoy his life more. Colin struggled through the next seven years in a daze.

Taking medication every day for ten years took a toll on his body. He gained 30kg and at 5’10, being 100kg was hard for Colin (he was used to being 70kg soaking wet). Most of his weight gain occurred within the first two years and it felt impossible to make a change.

Colin 2

NO MORE

In 2009, Colin moved from New Zealand to Australia and he was lucky enough to live opposite of one of the most famous beaches—Bondi Beach. Unfortunately, there were days when Colin could barely muster up the energy for a swim. Side effects of his mood enhancers and thyroid medication caused him to live in a “zombie” state of mind. Even getting through the day was a constant battle for Colin.

In 2012, Colin had enough of the chemical therapy. He told his wife, “I’m going to be off this stuff within two years”. His wife was concerned for him to remove the medication from his program, but after overcoming his stress and anxiety trough programs and meditation…he knew that now was the time to transform him physically.

Colin 3

Things fell apart once again for Colin in 2013. After embarking on a failed business venture, his emotional and financial health was tested. This test of his strength helped guide Colin down the path he needed to follow all along. He went back to school and studied to be a Personal Trainer.

A week after graduating, Colin was looking for PT work in the local magazines. The first ad he saw read “blah blah blah…please send a photo as I don’t want to be trained by anyone fatter than me”. At this point, Colin knew he wasn’t going to get any clients without making a change. This is the point when Colin decided to be his own client.

Colin 4

COMMITTING TO THE CHANGE

When he began his fitness journey, Colin weighed a little over 90kg and had 23.5% body fat and he could barely run 400 meters. Almost a year later, he dropped about 12kg and felt much better about his overall physical and mental health. Another wrench was thrown into his plans when they had to leave Australia and go to North America. His Visa didn’t allow him to find proper work so he had to find another avenue to keep himself busy. With some research, Colin found Obstacle Racing.

Mud Mulisha was hosting a series of three races in his area at the time…so he signed up for all three. As added motivation, Colin signed up for the elite races with the simple hope of finishing. Before he knew it, he was throwing himself under logs and through mud! Within 100 meters he was hooked. This was the first time that Colin had participated in a sport as an individual and he managed to cross the finish line in 4th place!

Colin 5

UNLOCKED POTENTIAL

Colin’s new renewed sense of achievement allowed him to unlock his internal ability to train for his next race. He focused on motivation and how the top athletes trained for the sport. Within a few weeks, Colin had completely changed his training routine.

The second part of the race series ended up being cancelled due to a forest fire, so this gave Colin plenty of extra time to train in between his next event. He bought ropes, built climbing walls, made sand pits for hand strengthen, anything he could build he did it.

Through the physical challenges that obstacle racing brought…Colin realized that it was also helping overcome all of the stress, anxiety, and childhood memories he had been fighting so hard against for years. Obstacle racing truly taught him how to overcome life’s obstacles and how to grow from challenges presented to him.

Colin was seeing life in a new way. Rope climbing was now his way to climb out of the physical numbness he was left with after years of medication. The barbed wire crawl taught him that sometimes you have to crawl through your pain to get to your goal.

For the next race, Colin wanted to be standing on the podium. The race was fast and he wasn’t prepared for the adrenaline rush and nearly drowned at the take-off across the water obstacle at the starting point. He also wore the wrong shoes that day which made it nearly impossible to run in. While running through the woods…Colin kept stumbling on tree roots, slipped on all of the mud, and couldn’t get a grip on his breathing. He just kept reminding himself to have fun and everything will fall into place.

Colin 6

On that day, Colin crossed the finish line in 3rd place. The warm welcome at the finish line reminded Colin that he did not have to go out of his way to get recognized in life. Obstacle racing taught Colin that enjoying life was enough and that the people on the OCR community just enjoy seeing people do what they love!

Colin had another mental transformation at the Spartan Beast in Sun Peaks 2015. He went there to qualify for the OCR World Championships, but a string of nerves overtook him at the starting line. He remembers seeing the mountain that they were meant to run and he hid away in the back of the elite starting wave just in case he decided to chicken out at the last minute. He remembers that everyone took off at the start while he was still fidgeting with GPS and by the time he walked across the start line…the rest of the pack was out of sight. All Colin could do at this point was run and run hard and that is exactly what he did…finishing third in his age group.

Colin 7

With the support of his family, Colin has been able to turn his health around in eighteen months. He has committed himself to proper training and has made it his full responsibility to be mentally and physically fit for his family. All of his hard work and transformation helped him build a joint business, The Fitness Doctor and Warrior Fitness. Colin wants people to realize that setting physical goals and reaching them can also help you find your peace of mind. “OCR is an awesome way to be active, test your-self, and have fun”, says Colin.

Colin 9

CURRENT TRAINING PLAN

Colin is currently preparing for this year’s OCR World Championships. He has already registered for both short and long courses in the elite masters heats with a six day a week training plan. When Colin first landed in New Zealand again in 2005 he weighed 160 pounds (73kg). Within two years of taking his medication, Colin reached nearly 220 pounds (100kg). In July of 2014, after graduating as a personal trainer, he was able to get down to about 198 pounds and by the time of his first OCR in 2015 he weighed in at 174 pounds (79kg). Currently, Colin weighs in at 163 pounds (74kg) with about a 14% body fat index. Most importantly…his mental health has been renewed through his transformation process.

Colin Transformation

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OCR Transformations- Brooke Van Paris

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

Six years ago, in October of 2009, Brooke’s life changed forever. She was attending Indiana University as a sophomore and double majoring in Accounting and Finance through the Kelley School of Business on a full ride Scholarship. Before college, Brooke had been a gymnast for ten years and even participated in club gymnastics at IU.

BLINK OF AN EYE

On October 29th, 2009…Brooke was leaving class in her car when she crossed through an intersection and was hit head on by another vehicle. In a split second her world was changed. Her SUV did two 360-degree circles, her windows shattered, all four tires blew out, the airbags blasted out, and the engine of her vehicle came through the car and landed into her lap. When Brooke opened her eyes she was in complete and utter shock. She remembers smoke everywhere in her car and she couldn’t stop screaming uncontrollably. As she tried to get out of her car she realized that her pedals had wrapped themselves around her feet. The only way she could escape was by sliding her feet from her shoes to try and get out as fast as she could.

brooke's car

As Brooke ran from her car, students that were near the intersection grabbed her and held her as she screamed and cried in devastation. She tried to gather her thoughts and had a stranger call her parents in the meantime. Within that time Brooke realized something was very very wrong….both of her hands were crushed.

The next morning Brooke was scheduled for surgery with an orthopedic surgeon in the Indiana area. She had X-Rays taken which confirmed that both of her hands were severely broken. She immediately had surgery and for the next eight weeks Brooke was confined to full casts that ran from her fingertips to her elbows on both arms. Over the next two years, Brooke endured numerous surgeries to correct the destruction of her hands. She had four surgeries over a two year span (one every six months) to try and correct the damage. The surgeries consisted of plates, internal pins, external pins, screws, physical therapy, and multiple casts.

broken hands

“You may wonder what it would be like to have no use of either hand. Well let me show you…take both hands, tie them behind your back, and proceed to live your life” – Brooke Van Paris.

PERSPECTIVE

Without her hands, it was clear to Brooke that she had previously taken life for granted. She couldn’t go to the bathroom alone, shower alone, brush her teeth alone, touch her own face, eat without assistance, dress herself, open a door without help, use a computer or phone alone, or even pet her own dog. She was completely helpless and it tore down her spirit. At this time, Brooke was a 19 year old independent, intelligent, all-star athlete who now had to ask for help with almost everything she wanted to do.

“It was easy to get down on myself and down on life, but I had to stay strong”- Brooke Van Paris.

During this time, her parents were her biggest supporters. They would come down to the University two to three days a week each and would help her with anything they could. They would share talks about life, strength, and about God and his plans for her. Brooke had made the decision that she was going to be a fighter and get through this. She wasn’t going to pity herself and she was going to stay in school and finish the way she planned. Her dad would always tell her to believe in her dreams, focus on her education, and that education is something that could never be taken from her…so she did just that.

With the help of her support group and her amazing professors, Brooke finished school after four and a half years and with a 3.67 GPA. She maintained a full-time student status the entire time after her accident and graduated with a degree in Management from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Brooke was a fighter and she achieved a huge victory by not allowing her accident get in her way of her dreams. She firmly believes that everything happens for a reason and that God had a much bigger plan for her life. Through a “never give up” attitude, she was able to use positivity to help her see the light at the end of the tunnel. Brooke’s accident taught her to be humble and show compassion. She has learned to live every day like it is her last and to value the people in her life.

“Life is just too short to be anything but happy!” – Brooke Van Paris

SECOND CHANCE

After her accident, Brooke’s muscles had atrophied and were almost non-existent. Everything she had previously worked for was gone and she was now 22 years old and her goal of playing team sports were very limited. Over her healing period, Brooke gained weight because she was unable to be active like she was used to and she would use food as a way to comfort herself. Brooke had become overweight, un-athletic, and basically living in a body that wasn’t hers.

brooke before

Last year, Brooke was invited to do her first obstacle course race called Morgan’s Mud Gauntlet. It was a small three mile local race with obstacles, trails, and water. She figured she would try it out and little did she know that her life was going to change yet again. When she finished the race she was absolutely exhausted. Before that day, she couldn’t run to save her life and the obstacles seemed challenging, but she was hooked!

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When she got home (covered in OCR kisses) she hopped online and signed up for as many events as she could find. This included OCR events, trail runs, road races, and anything else she could find! Not to mention the fact that before race day she couldn’t even run a single mile without stopping. In the last year, Brooke has done 48 races (22 OCR events) and she qualified for OCRWC at eight of them. In October of this past year, she competed at OCRWC in both the individual and team events (ranking high in each of them). With determination, healthy eating, proper training, racing, and focus…Brooke was able to lose 40 pounds in just a year.

Brooke Medals

“I had earned my body, my happiness, and my life back!” – Brooke Van Paris

BEAST MODE BARBIE

Obstacle course racing helped Brooke meet so many amazing people that have helped her growth from novice to elite. Some of her biggest supporters (other than her family) are the Crazy Mudder Muckers, Kevin Jones in particular. She joined this OCR family of racers after the Ohio Spartan Beast and they have always supported her! They share workout tips and meal ideas through social media as well as meet up at races to share experiences. Being a part of this group has made Brooke feel like she has an OCR family that shows each other love and support on and off the course. They have even given her nicknames such as: BVP and Beast Mode Barbie.

brooke competes

The last year has been a crazy ride for Brooke and she continues to love every minute of it. The world of OCR has taught her to wear her OCR kisses and medals proudly. Even though she raced nearly every weekend for nine months, it helped Brooke find her passion and love for life again. She wants to inspire people with the story of her journey and to motivate anyone she can as a reminder that they are not alone.

Brooke uses a quote by Babe Ruth to describe her journey, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up”. She plans on running mainly elite heats this coming year, but she will always remember her journey and the struggle she has emerged from.

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“No matter where I end up placing, I know that as long as I try my best and never give up, I will never be beaten.” – Brooke Van Paris

CURRENT WORKOUT PLAN

Brooke currently goes to the gym five days a week and includes weightlifting, plyometrics, grip strength training, and cardio into her routine. She prefers to get out of the gym as much as possible and enjoys riding her bike, running trails, running the stairs at the War Memorial downtown Indiana, and she also runs the canal. Brooke also loves rock climbing and doing obstacle training with the Indy OCR meet up group.

In October 2014, Brooke weighed 170 pounds. She now weighs 145 pounds which consists of a 40 pound fat loss and 15 pounds of muscle gain.

Brooke Transformation 2

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