Leg three took us to downtown Toronto, where the first challenge was trying to find which of these abandoned-looking warehouses housed hours of fun? After circling the block we found it – Pursuit Obstacle Course Gym http://pursuitocr.com/ . Gotta say, I was really freaking excited for this challenge – I workout a lot, but more importantly, I watch a lot of American Ninja Warrior, and I wanted to do that. I mean, how hard can it be?
As you can see from my tastefully compiled photo collage (which I’m inserting right at the top of this blog because it both makes me look thin and makes my boobs look fantastic), I had a really, really freaking good time. I want to go back now. Weekly. I want to keep running this thing until I flip over walls like Jason Statham with hair. However, there is a definate learning curve to these techniques.
Shortly before we visited I officially registered for my first Obbstacle Course Race, the Rugged Maniac, so I came into this knowing this was my first chance to see if I was going to be able to complete the race or if I was going to die somewhere between the start line and the first obstacle. The pressure was on.
As is a running theme in my life, we were greeted at the door by some incredibly fit hipsters and asked to sign another waiver. This turned out to be a particularly good thing in my case, but more about that later. They give you the quick tour of the neon-lounge meets boutique fitness space and then release you to the maze, a winding playground of cargo nets, tires, bungee cords, warped walls and an adult-sized ball pit deep enough to swallow a grown man. My first instinct was to run the course like I was racing to Mt. Midoryama in Vegas, but then you see the first hurdle is a series of walls, ranging from four to eight feet that you need to climb over. For a tall girl like me, the four foot walls were no problem, but the eight foot… In my head I can just walk casually up to it, jump up, grab the top, and haul my flabby ass over. In reality, I flop against the wall and eventually fall back to the ground. Now I see why everyone talks about the sense of community that comes with obstacle course racing – with a boost from a friend, I was up and over no problem. We had been here like 10 minutes and already my strategy for Rugged Maniac had changed. Now I knew that, unless I had mastered this wall climb shit in the next few months, I needed to flock with a bunch of friendly newbies and we could work together to get our not-elite-racer selves up, over and through whatever they decide to throw at us.
Personally, I find those wall climbs one of the most challenging of all the obstacles, as I simply don’t yet have the upper body strength and/or the proper technique down to fly over them yet. Other tasks, like the cargo net climbs, rope climbs and broken bridges I was flying up like no big deal. The technique is more important than the straight-up strength, if you do it the right way, what you lack in power doesn’t matter all that much. But the one thing I have learned that there is no substitute for is grip strength. It seems like such a simple thing – hang from some swinging rings like you’re in the olympics or on American Gladiators (fuck, I love American Gladiators. When are they going to bring that back again?). They even give you chalk and grip tape on the rings to help you out. But before you know it your grip is gone and you’re neck deep in balls. Giant mental note – work on grip strength. Come to think of this, grip strength basically seperated the lead teams from the bottom feeders on the last season of the Amazing Race Canada, as the monkey bars under the Jasper Skytram was entirely down to your hands.
And it was my hands that gave out first. After numerous runs through the course, my technique was getting better and I was getting more and more comfortable with the obstacles. But I couldn’t make a fist any more. It was time to call it a day – a super fun, successful day that left me with a list of things to practice before my Obstacle Course Race. And I can’t wait to do it. Practice will make perfect and in a couple of months I’m going to be able to get my flabby ass accross the monkey bars without dropping half way through. Every single one of these babies was worth it
Leg three – pitstop: Gained a position. Tested my physical and mental strength and increased my confidance. Kept getting up and going back for more. Eliminated: the team who failed like three times on the wall climb and then the weaker of the two had a meltdown, curling up in the fetal position on the floor and crying “this is pointless, we should just give up”.