Under The Lights: A Race In The Dark

Mud-Endeavor-Logo

Under The Lights

All I could see was my feet in front of me, a huge mud hole, and a 10ft wall in the distance. Scared? You bet. But with a grin on my face, I was determined to kick ass.

   Although an ORM first, Under The Lights has been a staple for the Central Florida OCR athlete for multiple years. Pasco County Fairgrounds in Dade City, Florida hosted the Mud Endeavor: Under The Lights 5k OCR on July 15th, 2017. The race was held on a BMX/Dirtbike track and although the 5k distance seems easy, the dirt hills delivered some pain. The race boasted 30 obstacles from slippery rope climbs, cargo nets, and the always loved warped wall. Under The Lights is not your typical 5k OCR, because it is held at night! With the elite going out of the chute at 6pm, as each wave started it only got darker and darker.

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Jamie Stiles (pictured above)- First Place Female Finisher 

    Jamie Stiles states that she had a few favorite obstacles at the race like the warped wall and the rings. “I wasn’t sure I would make it (warped wall) due to being so overheated and redlining the whole time so when I made it, it was like a big feeling of relief!” She added, “I also enjoy the rings, even when my grip is feeling questionable I love swinging on obstacles!”

Dance Party?!

    Mud Endeavor made innovative usage of the empty barns on the course by turning them into a mid race dance party!  Strobe lights, disco balls, and loud energizing music welcomed runners as they entered to conquer the ice obstacle. Runners crawled through 10in of ice water on their hands and knees for the entirety of the excruciatingly long ice bath. Lights, music, and shivering to your death in an ice bath?! What’s not to love ? Can’t lie and say I didn’t think about skipping the rest of the race just to hang out with the DJ and dance the rest of the night!

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      A dozen athletes including second place overall male, Chris Stansel, decided to take on the race for multiple laps. Chris states that he would have been able to make it a total of FOUR laps, but he had to receive his prize for getting second! Good work, Chris! #BecauseOneLapIsNeverEnough.

Ant Crawl

      Anthony Gorbas of Iron Ant Fitness made the featured obstacle called The Ant Crawl. First, athletes grabbed a 25lb sandbag and made their way to slide down a dark tube. At the end of tube, racers had to carry the sandbags 100 meters through dirt and mud. The obstacle had me feeling like an insect as I carried my sandbag through the dark earthy tunnel.

      Third place female, Danielle Kissel states that the Ant Crawl was her favorite obstacle. “It was so unique and made use of the natural land, but also threw in a test of strength because you had to carry the sandbag as you crawled through the obstacles.”

Ant-Crawl

 

Check out the full action below via Mud Endeavor’s YouTube video !

Overall, this race was challenging and required me to push myself mentally and physically. Firstly, I enjoyed the added fun factor with the lights and music around the course. Secondly, the BMX track provided a great venue to give Floridians the “hill” terrain experience. Lastly, a good Michelob Ultra at the end of any race provides a job well done in my book.

Although Under The Lights is once a year, Mud Endeavor hosts a total of five races in Central Florida! Click here to find out when the next Mud Endeavor Race will be so you don’t miss the action!

Thank you to Obstacle Racing Media and Mud Endeavor for a kickass race ! Until next time:

Stay Dirty and Stay Fit 💪🏻😊

Pre-Race

-Jessika “Popfitness” Poppe

Photo credits to: Mud Endeavor and Anthony Gorbas 

LeaderBoard Training – Coached by the Pros (Part 2)

LeaderBoard-Athletes-at-Chicago-Super

A plateau isn’t just a really tall, flat piece of land. It’s also where you, as an athlete, can find yourself if you get too comfortable in your training. Without the proper guidance, your body can become accustomed to the pace, distance, workouts, weight, and so on. Luckily, as I’ve found, LeaderBoard excels at preventing plateaus so that its athletes can continue their climb to the top.

If you’re unsure what LeaderBoard is, there’s an entire first article to explain just that!

ONE OF THE FAMILY

A common theme among LeaderBoard athletes is a sense of family. It may be a little cliche, but it’s true. Ean Caskey, a member of LB since the beginning, was surprised of the familial vibe. “Once you suffer alongside someone for months on end and share your highs and lows, you feel a certain connection and pride to be part of the team,” he said. The programming, along with Slack messaging, really keeps communication open. Not only can you see how fellow athletes are doing by checking out the WOD (Workout of the Day), but there’s always discussion on the workout itself. Everyone is there to support each other, which isn’t a common theme among training programs. Got a PR? Post it in Slack and just watch as everyone gives you a congratulations and various emojis.

Naturally, the LeaderBoard family has members all over the country. So, although you may have had communication with several members, maybe you never met them. But when several members are going to be at the same race, usually dinner plans are made. Everyone gets together to hang out and share their race day stories, or whatever else may come to the table.

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 PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT

Remember that whole plateauing thing? Well, that can happen without you even realizing it. Sometimes, you just don’t think to add that one part to your workout that keeps your body guessing. Sure they can be tough. But, LeaderBoard athletes like Eric Aanerud, find that the parts he hates are actually his favorite. He explained that they are “the parts I would skip if they weren’t in there. It makes me feel like I have to do it. So I do. You get to the point where you stop asking questions and just do the work.”

I remember quite a few times thinking about how difficult a workout was, but realizing I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Not only is there a sense of accomplishment with the physical training, but it hones your mental strength as well. Jeff Shoaf, who has completed 27 races since 2014, appreciates this part of the training. “They help train your brain to keep going and not quit just because it gets hard or mentally boring,” Shoaf said.

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Forrest Bouge on his way to first place at Savage, Ohio

THE LATEST BENCHMARK RESULTS

Outside of running a race (which I’ll get to), the Benchmarks are a great way to measure progress. Since article number one, I was able to retest all five Benchmarks: the mile, carry, rig, 5k and personal trail BM. Though I expected to beat a few of my previous numbers, I hadn’t expected to PR all five. But that’s exactly what happened.

I didn’t destroy the old numbers, per se, but any improvement in 4-8 weeks is positive. First, let’s start with the rig benchmark, since I had been on the rig specialization leading up to the test. The first part of the test is a grip-alternating chin up, with the second part being a straight dead hang (without dismounting from the first part). Before, I had done eight reps of part one and 40 seconds of dead hang, which counted as two reps. That totaled 10 reps. This time around, I hammered out 10 reps of part one, but only 20 seconds of dead hang, or one rep. Overall, an improvement of one total rep.

On the bucket carry, the test consists of timed carries for the bucket, double sandbag and dumbbell, or farmer’s carry. I was fairly concerned that my total carry distance would go down, since I hadn’t been specializing in it. I was able to squeeze out an extra 15 meters combined. Again, not a large increase. But, considering it was not my specialization and definitely my weakest obstacle category, it was great to see that number go up.

Eric-Aanerud-Boise-SandbagEric Aanerud at the Boise Sprint

We all know in the sport of OCR, running is pretty much the most important part. So, I was really curious to see how those tests turned out. My previous 5k time, done on 4/22, was 23:50. Just about 2 months later, on 6/21, I ran 23:37. That’s only 22 seconds from my lifetime PR, and certainly a non-race PR. As for the mile, on 5/23 I ran a 6:26. Five weeks later, on 6/27, got that down to a 6:19, a lifetime PR.

The trail loop time trial that I discussed in the first article would be another test. The other Benchmarks I had only done one time previously. This was my third out on the trail loop. As of the last article, my time was 59:09, an improvement of 3:43 (previous 1:02:52). This time around, another time reduction, totalling 57:36. My GPS lost signal briefly, so the splits are inaccurate, but the overall time is correct. That means in just under 3 months (March 25 vs June 24), I’ve dropped over 5 minutes off my time!

EVERYBODY GETS A PR

Right, I get it. You’re thinking, “Well, Adam, anytime someone starts a new program, they see the greatest results early on.” And you’re right. Or are you? I looked at some of LeaderBoard’s longest trained athletes, those that have been there since early on. They surely must have leveled out their Benchmark numbers.

Caskey, who is in his fourth year of OCR, hit a PR in the rig during the most recent test, and both the carry and mile this past May. Shoaf also had bests in his mile and carry at the most recent testing. Aanerud almost had a clean sweep recently, PR-ing in all but his rig (due to an injured hand).

Kirk-DeWindt-wins-Chicago-SuperKirk DeWindt fire-jumping to victory in Chicago

Kirk DeWindt, who joined LeaderBoard July 2016, shortly after his first OCR, has also found recent success. He hit a PR in both the 5k and carry during the last round of testing. It’s worth noting that DeWindt was a collegiate All-American in the mile during his college years, so it may be a bit harder to get a personal best there. Forrest Bouge ran his first OCR two years ago and was in the first group of LeaderBoard athletes. He’s hit a PR in all his Benchmark in the past 6 weeks.

OFF TO THE RACES

Now, that part that really matters to some people. How does training with LeaderBoard improve your racing? Shoaf, who had mentioned the benefit of mental toughness, has seen an increase in his ability to race through fatigue. It’s paid off in races as recently as the AT&T Stadium Sprint. Last year, he finished a respectable top 38% in his age group, top 32% of men and top 29% overall. This year, however, he rocketed up to the top 21% in both his age group and gender, plus top 18% overall.

Bouge has improved from a top 15 finisher to a top 10 finisher, with two podium finishes so far in 2017. Caskey was a top 10 finisher prior to starting LeaderBoard. So, with LB training, he’s now consistently challenging the podium spots. “The last three races I’ve been in 2nd for a large portion of the race,” he said. “ Last year that would have made me nervous and think to myself that I was going too hard. Now I feel like I belong there, and confident that my training will keep me moving forward.”

In 2016, Aanerud ran his first season as an Elite Spartan. His placement ranged anywhere from 15th to the mid-60s, and a 77th place finish at Spartan World’s. This year, his worst finish is 25th, with the majority being between 6th and 15th. Most recently, he finished 8th in Boise. DeWindt has also found success since joining LeaderBoard. He won back to back races, his first wins, at Spartan Race Chicago in June, and finishes top ten in most races he competes in.

 

Ean-Caskey-Chicago-RigEan Caskey making quick work of the rig in Chicago

I don’t get the opportunity to run a lot of races, so my main comparison is between Savage Maryland in the fall of 2016 and Savage Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. Though my overall placement wasn’t quite as good, I put that blame on my own inexperience and not my training. At the 2016 MD race, there were a total of 188 racers in the competitive heat. In 2017, the PA race had 256 racers. Unfortunately, in PA, I waited too long to get in the starting corral, and started the race towards the back. This resulted in more cattle jams and even a five-minute wait in line before a first attempt at an obstacle. That obstacle, however, was Kiss My Walls, which took three attempts in Maryland, but only two in PA.

At both races, I was able to finish the SavagePro wave completing all obstacles. To me, the difference was the new obstacles for 2017. The 2016 race had one rig. Savage PA had two rigs, plus an obstacle called Twirly Bird, which is essentially another, more difficult rig. The upper body demand was much higher at the PA race. Though I obviously can’t say for sure, it would’ve been very difficult for me to finish 100% obstacle completion had the Maryland race been as tough. This year, I even had enough energy to run the course again, in an open heat, a few hours later with some friends. Something I know I wouldn’t have been up for last fall.

BLUE MOUNTAIN CHALLENGE

Palmerton gets its own category for a couple of reasons. First off, it fully reinforced the family aspect of LeaderBoard. A group of members got together Friday night, before the Super. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it. At the Super, I had the chance to meet almost all of the LB athletes that came out to compete, which was around 15. Saturday night, the group got together again and this time I knew I couldn’t miss out. After hanging out for a couple hours to chat about races, honeymoons, training and much more, it felt like Thanksgiving dinner with the family (minus the OCR talk). We all even had a chance to catch up with our fearless leader, Brakken.

Sunday I was running the Sprint and ran into several LB members after my race, including Brakken. Everyone asked how I did, talked about the course, and congratulated me on my result. Speaking of, I went into the race hoping to qualify for the age group bracket of OCR World Championships. Even though I know I most likely won’t make it to the race, to say I qualified would be an accomplishment. To do this, I needed to finish top 20 in my age group in the Competitive heat(s). I researched last year’s top 20 times and set the goal of 2 hours. Well, I blew that out of the water. My final time was just under 1:37, good enough for 28th overall and 3rd in my age group. The 1st and 2nd in my age group were 1st and 3rd overall, so any better than 3rd would’ve been tough.

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Tiffany Palmer and Brakken Kraker at Palmerton

The rest of the LeaderBoard crew had equally impressive performances. Several Saturday racers finished in the top 35, which is especially difficult at a US Championship Series race. Two of LB’s female athletes finished top 25 (Tiffany Palmer 15th, Katie Huber 23rd). Many of those who didn’t run the Elite wave finished as some of the top racers in their age group for the Competitive wave. This was also impressive as the athletes registered for Competitive was larger than usual for Saturday’s race. On Sunday, Palmer and Huber returned for the Sprint, finishing 4th and 7th, respectively. Had Lindsay Webster, Rea Kolbl and Faye Stenning not stuck around from Saturday, LB may have had themselves a 1st and 4th podium showing.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Since the first article, a few things have changed at LeaderBoard. There is now a Standard and Pro program. The Standard is essentially everything I’ve experienced at half the cost of what it was. The normal cost now provides Pro, which includes a higher level of personalization. What does that mean? Closer contact with your LeaderBoard coaches, including 6 “Pro Chats” per year plus all the communication that comes with Slack. This personalization will help with individual athlete’s goals, such as a faster 5k time or getting better at hill running.

With this, however, Robert Killian is no longer one of the two Pro coaches at LeaderBoard. But, as unfortunate as it is to lose a great athlete like Killian, current coaches Brakken Kraker and Zac Allen have proven that they are more than capable of getting the best out of their athletes.

Does LeaderBoard require a certain level of commitment? Of course. Any training program does. Some days I had to do part of the workout during my lunch break and finish the rest later at home. But, tailor it to your schedule. If you can only fit in a certain amount of time, fit it. The more you can follow the program, however, the better your results will be.

Remember, everyone can start out with a seven-day free trial. LeaderBoard also added a pretty sweet referral system. If you are referred to the program, you receive $30 off your first month. Once on the program, if you refer someone, you receive $15 off your next month. Head to www.leaderboardfit.com to sign up!

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Photo Credit: Spartan Race, Savage Race, LeaderBoard, David Martineau, Tiffany Palmer

Tactical Titan

Tactical Titan


“Not your beginners 5k OCR”

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 With only its second race to date, Tactical Titan is leaving athletes sore, challenged, and damn proud of themselves. This race is apart of the TitanRuns series hosted by Mike Nelson from Plant City, Florida. Tactical is a mudless 5k OCR that was held on June 10th 2017 at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds. Due to a rainy week in Central Florida the race left runners dirty and racing for the showers post run although it was advertised as being mudless. To offset the flat terrain at the fairgrounds Tactical made sure NOT to slack on the intensity and creativity of their new obstacles.

I thought to myself “pshhhhht, I got this” when I saw Tactical was only a 5k…BOY was I WRONG! Tactical Titan boasted 30+ obstacles in the 5k distance including THREE challenging rigs, tire flips, monkey bars, inverted walls and a SPINNING TUBE OF DEFEAT! As I helplessly attempted to crawl through the tube I felt like I was a pair of tennis shoes getting rolled around in a quick speed dryer! After witnessing these kickass obstacles, I quickly learned that they were NOT to be taken lightly. This race had me feeling a type of exhaustion that I have never felt before during a 5k like Rugged Maniac or Warrior Dash. By the time the last obstacle (bleachers….. oh JOY) had come around I had reached my breaking point due to the amount of physically intensive obstacles.

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I mean come on now; LOOK at THIS TUBE !!!!!!! 

After the fun of really EARNING our medals, Tactical hosted its one of a kind Rig Tournament Challenge. First, athletes had to successfully complete the rig by going down and back across the various hanging objects (balls, ropes, and rings). Second, they had to be faster then their opponent in order to move onto the next round. Pictured below is Rich King from Orlando who made such a BADASS come back in the rig tournament. Rich started in eighth place because of a shoulder injury, but came back to dominate the competition and win first place. He states that the hardest part of the rig was “the balls. It was hard to grab the balls”……… we’ll just leave it at that… BUT; he kicked ass and took home the overall win for the men.

Tactical-Titan-Rig 

This race showed me that teamwork really does, as cliche as it sounds, make the dream work.

     Tactical was able to deliver the three main aspects of OCR; team work, comradery, and getting stupid dirty! This race required a lot of teamwork due to the physically demanding obstacles. “MUDRUNFUN” was titled as the BEST TEAM at the course. Team captain, Eduardo Gonzalez came back out on the course after his run to coach athletes through each step of the challenging rigs. I wouldn’t have been able to get through as many as I did without his help!

Best-Team-Tactical-Titan

Whats Next Titans?!

The Titan Runs series will be bringing Tactical Titan 3 to Dover, Florida again for its revenge. Can’t wait that long?! Mud Titan8 will be October 7th, 2017 in Plant City, Florida. MudTitan8 will feature 1 extra mile, with an additional 10 obstacles!!! Racing information and all things #TITAN can be found here at their website-  Titan Runs !!!

Photo Credit: Course Map and Logo Photo owned by Tactical Titan, while Jack Goras provided additional on course photography !

Stay dirty, Stay fit, and Stay motivated !! 🙂