This weekend was my first Atlas Race and only my third ever obstacle course race. After a fun and challenging experience at the Warrior Dash in the Fall, I took the great opportunity to join the Atlas Pro Team. So I approached this weekend’s Atlas Race as a learning opportunity. What did I learn? 1) The Atlas Team and the OCR community are filled with awesome people, 2) Atlas puts on great races, 3) I have a lot to work on, 4) Play to your strengths but DO NOT neglect your weaknesses.
Lauren Ho was a great travel partner, and it was fun to get to know the whole Atlas crew. Lauren and I didn’t get to see the course ahead of time, so we didn’t know quite what to expect, other than that there would be a strong field of women with Lauren, Cassidy Watton, Chikorita De Lego, KK Paul and others. Atlas kicked the race off with a hole shot, giving a cash incentive to whoever made it through the first 400 meters fastest. KK and her long legs took the win on that one. But I caught KK on the hills. This would be an approximately 4 mile course and I knew my only strength was running, so I did my best to move along on the hills. We got warmed up with a few over and under walls, but at the top of the first big climb we met an 8 foot wall. I just stopped and looked at it, asking the volunteers, “Do I have to go over that?” Silly question, of course the answer was “Yes!”
“Holy cow!” There was no way I could get a hand on the top by just jumping. Pathetic, I know! With a few attempts at getting some momentum off the side posts I struggled my way over. Thank goodness for some more hilly running, because I needed a little buffer when I came to the Tyrolean traverse. All the videos I had seen made this obstacle look much easier than it is. The traverse felt ten times longer than that muddy crawl at the end of the Warrior Dash World Championship. KK ate up nearly the entire gap I had formed with that single obstacle. The rest of the race played out with me using my strength on the running and KK, Chikorita, and the other ladies kicking my butt on the obstacles. Despite the advice of The Great Max King to use two hands on the monkey bars, I didn’t even get a hand on the second bar before I fell.
A quick intro into what a thruster was, and I was on my way to 20 reps with the WreckBag. It felt as if at any moment the other ladies would go flying by me. But I pushed on still in the lead. A few balance beams, walls and WreckBags later, I approached my favorite, the mud. No struggles there until my shoe got sucked off my last step out of the mud. Contemplating leaving the shoe behind, but thinking I had several more obstacles to go, I stopped for awhile and struggled to get my shoe back on. Little did I know, I was one little hill away from the finish. It was such a relief to come down that hill and see the finish flags with no obstacles in my path!
Many firsts at this Atlas Race: 8 foot wall, Tyrolean traverse, sandbag carry, monkey bars, traverse wall, balance beams, WreckBag throw, WreckBag thrusters, cargo net traverse, and sadly…DROPPING OUT OF A RACE.
After a fun day hanging out at the course and cheering for the kids in the Atlas Kids Race on Saturday, we returned Sunday for the Ranger Course that would be around 8 miles with a few more obstacles. I was really excited for this race because it would involve more running. But apparently I had brought the Eugene weather to SoCal with me, as Sunday was cold and rainy. We usually fly by the mantra “A little rain never hurt a duck,” but obstacles in the rain are a whole new challenge. It was fun to toe the line with the men for Sunday’s race, but amongst the women the first bit of the race played out similarly to the previous day’s race. KK beat us to the hole shot, and I caught her a little later into the first big hill climb. One of the first few obstacles was a sloped wall with rope assist. The slippery surface definitely made it harder to climb, but the worst part was nearly falling off the back side when my foot slipped. Clearly I would have to pay more attention to my footing today. At the top of the first big hill, that darn 8 foot wall seemed to have grown a couple feet over night. With the wet, slippery surface, my method of getting momentum off the side posts left me landing in all sorts of compromising positions and never anywhere near the top of the wall. After several dangerous attempts, it was time to reassess.
I knew I had a team of ladies making their way up the hill who were counting on me, but I also knew I had a team of ladies back home in Eugene who were counting on me for the USATF 15k Road Championships in two weeks. Knowing I wasn’t going to make it to the finish line without getting hurt, I made the tough decision to drop out. Running down that hill past my teammates and everyone who was toughing out a muddy course was the hardest thing I did all weekend. As terrible as it felt to drop out, I believe it was the right decision for me. But I know I never want to make that decision again. I FOUND MY FIRE! I will be better prepared for the next Atlas Race, so that I don’t let me teammates and supporters down.
It was awesome to see everyone out there rocking that tough, muddy course. KK took the win, followed by Chikorita and Lauren. Those are some strong, hard working women.
All in all, a great weekend! From kids to adults, elites to rookies, there was so much fun, hard work, inspiration, excitement, and smiling at this Atlas Race. I’ll be back for more!