It has been a little over a week since my trip to Ontario, Canada to participate in the 2016 OCRWC and I definitely still in awe of just how amazing this journey was. In late 2015, when the venue was announced to be Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario Canada, I thought to myself that there is no way that with my autoimmune disorder (Reynaud’s) that I could handle the cold in October in Canada, especially since I heard stories of frostbite and extreme cold temperatures in Ohio where the OCRWC was held in 2015 & 2014. In early 2016 with the announcement of the NJ Ultra Beast in April, I began to focus my training on endurance events and decided to race at least half of my races “elite” or “competitive” so I needed to improve on my techniques to complete various obstacles spanning numerous OCR circuits.
In April I ran the Spartan Citifield stadium sprint elite and placed 6th masters and shortly after that I completed the NJ Ultra Beast in the “open” division placing 20th out of all females (4th in my age). Then on May 21, 2016 I decided to run the NY Warrior Dash both competitive and then again with my team. That race I was the 5th female to cross the finish line, which by OCRWC guidelines qualified me not only for my age division, but for the Pro Wave. For some reason this sparked a fire in me that perhaps I should go out and compete with athletes from all around the world, but this was going to cost a lot of money and take a lot of training to compete successfully.
On July 7, 2016 I officially signed up and submitted my application to be verified as an OCRWC competitor but decided that it was more realistic to be within my age group vs. the Pro Wave. On July 10th I received my official verification letter and was an actual competitor! It was time to step up the training and start trying to raise some money to help offset the costs of the entry fees, attire, hotel, and travel fees. I had contemplated a variety of ideas but did not want to ask anyone for help so a friend of mine, unbeknownst to me, set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money to offset the costs. I was beyond grateful and couldn’t believe the amount of support I was receiving from my friends. Knowing that they had contributed to my journey, I knew I had to work even harder and make them proud!
There were days that I was so physically exhausted, but I knew I had to train if I wanted to improve. There were days that I was in pain, but I knew that I had to just push through it and modify as needed. There were days I felt amazing and beyond blessed and proud of just how far I had come with my training. It has been a roller coaster of emotions through these past 3 months, but that is all why this journey was so unbelievably amazing for me. The support I was receiving fueled me and when my children expressed that they wanted to go with me to see me compete, it became so much more than just another race, it became the opportunity to inspire others…my friends, my family, and my children!
When I ordered my custom LegendBorne USA jersey, I was like a kid at Christmas awaiting its arrival and the minute I opened it I had to put it on. I was not only representing myself in this race, but the USA! I felt like I was not only racing for me, but for everyone that believed in me and supported me. I felt like I was going to the Olympics and as someone that is not a natural born athlete, I cannot even describe how amazing I felt to have this opportunity.
As the time grew closer, I had asked a close friend of mine, the same one that started the GoFundMe, to join me on my journey and she graciously said yes. She took time away from her family to help me with mine and be there supporting me 100% of the time! I decided to make this not just about the race, but a journey and decided to leave the Wednesday preceding the race and stop at Niagara Falls and spend one evening there. Shortly after crossing the border we arrived and checked in to our hotel we ate at an Outback about a block away from our hotel then we headed over to the falls to watch the fireworks and see them all lit up. It was breathtaking! We spent the next couple of hours walking around and taking photos and enjoying the beauty of the area.
The next morning we woke up, ate breakfast in our hotel which had an amazing view overlooking the falls and headed out to see the area in the daylight. We decided to take the boat tour of the falls, the Hornblower, and also did the Journey Behind the Falls walking tour. We headed around town and stopped off at a local brewery to sample a few local beers. Next up, my kids wanted to head to Ripley’s Believe it or Not, so we did that as well. We walked all over the city and even hopped on and off the WeGo buses a few times. It was a great day but it was time to move on to our next location so we headed back to the car and were off to Blue Mountain.
When we arrived at the resort, it was huge! It was dark so it wasn’t easy to see everything this amazing place had to offer. We checked into our room, I parked my car, and it was time to unwind and get ready for race day #1, the 3K short course. The weather was much warmer that I had anticipated, which I am definitely not complaining about, so I took out my racing gear for the next morning, set my alarm and headed to sleep. In the morning I had to head over to sign in and pick up my bibs for both upcoming races and for the 3K course I was racing masters, which meant I had a very early start time.
The next morning I literally walked out of my room, outside, and made a left to the venue. I couldn’t believe how close I was. Immediately when I saw the OCRWC starting arch, nerves began to settle in. It was a chilly morning so I was a little worried because I didn’t know how much water or mud I would encounter that morning. I entered the room where e had to pick up our racing packets and we were also given athlete badges, membership cards to the International OCR Union, and our finisher shirts. The athlete badges gave us special access to areas, such as free gondola rides for anyone that was with us. I have to say, those badges were awesome and made you really feel like you were kind of a big deal lol. After getting my packet I headed back to my room, woke up everyone else and prepared for the 3K race.
When I arrived at the venue, I became extremely nervous. I had no idea what to expect out there. I knew there were going to be so many obstacles I had never even seen before and had no idea how to tackle them. Just walking on that course gave me such a sense of WOW! As I headed to the starting corral, the short race went off in waves. Each of us had our own starting corral. Coach Pain was there delivering the pre-race speech and he has such an amazing way with words, the just hit you. It is hard to explain, but the emotions I felt at that exact moment in time as my children and friend watched me standing there, ready to take on this course was so surreal. My heartbeat was fast. My adrenaline was pumping. My nerves were a mess. My mind was racing. And then there it was…”Ladies conduct your business!” and we were off!