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- 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!

brooke 3

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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