Sunday, April 19, 2015

Epic Series event

I really enjoy strength training. I've never formally trained in strongman but it is something I've always had an interest in. I really hate running, for the sake of running (Jogging, 5ks, etc..) the only time you can normally get me to run is if it's for a sport, which I haven't really done in years. Recently I decided to do a charity 5k to support Autism..and well...I hated it! I just don't get how people enjoy running, it's just not my thing. I didn't practice any running, I just signed up and did the event. My time was somewhere in the 32ish minute range. I've also never done any obstacle course races (OCR) for two reasons: Running and Mud. OK, three reasons if you include high entry fees. When I saw a video for a new race in my area, called Epic Series, I immediately said I would get a team together and join up. It sounded like something more up my alley, an OCR that focused more on strength and strongman style lifts! The only part I was worried about was the running, which they called awkward carry, that was after each main obstacle. You would have to run a lap carrying things such as a keg, slosh pipes, bucket with water, etc..

I was definitely looking forward to the main lifts though. So now I had to assemble my team, which consisted of my wife, Lisett, 6 of our gym members, Joe, Jason, Jenn, Mike, Shelby, and Ben and Jason's co-worker, Luke. Other than regular classes, our only training for it was a couple of Saturday team training days. Luckily one of the Epic Series employees, Lorelei came to our gym to give us a brief workout with some obstacles that we could expect to see so it was a complete shock when we arrived, but full details were kept secret until actual race day.
Coming up to the race all of mt teammates expressed how nervous and anxious they were for the race, even though I had confidence that they would all do great. I was excited just to get out there and challenge myself. I had signed up for "Elite" which meant that you couldn't modify any of the exercises and there was a second race after the main race which was more closer to the strongman stuff that I really wanted to do. We had to do the main race in order to do the Elite challenge at the end, otherwise I might have done just the Elite portion to avoid the running. Yea...I hate running that much.

So the race started off with us having to run 1 3/4 laps carrying a flag to the first station: 15 tire flips and hop through after each flip. I get to the tires ahead of Joe and Jason and as soon as I set up to the tire I was surprised by the weight. I yell to Joe as he's almost at the station "Dude! These tires are heavy!" and I'm on my way to flipping the tires and struggling due to the weight when I hear Joe and Jason ask me if I was being serious? The spotter then tells us "Oh yea, the tires all weight differently" So I said to Joe let's switch since he was almost done already and he started way after me. Damn right, these tires were way different, the tire Joe had I could easily flip with just one hand! They weren't even in the same ball park. Best guess was the tire I had was over 350# while the one Joe had was barely over 120# [I thought that was complete BS that they would have tires of such drastically different weight when it's a race against the clock. I have no issue with them all being heavy, but drastic inconsistency in weight is just wrong] after the flips we had to grab a tire attached to a rope and drag it from one end of the course and back.
On to obstacle #2: "Pain in the Butt" grab a 5 gallon bucket filled with water, do 25 squats then do a lap carrying the bucket.
Obstacle #3 was called "Bangerz" it's basically a steel anvil that's on a track. You use a plastic sledgehammer and hit the anvil moving it a couple inches per hit for 12 feet. Immediately after you take a wooden prowler sled a run it to one end of the course and back (killer on the legs).
To obstacle #4: Burpee Walls. There's a number of walls approximately 4ft high, you have to do a burpee then hop the wall. After you get over the last wall you grab a potato sack and had to bunny hop to the line and back. Seriously, WTF? I have to say, this one was beyond retarded and had no point being in the race. Considering how badass this race course was, I have no idea what the thinking was. Maybe it was an inside joke they were playing on us?
#5 Atlas stone and farmers carry: Lift a 65# stone and toss it over your shoulder, 15 times then grab the farmers handles which were 105# each and walk a distance that I'm not exactly sure but it may have been about a football field?
Obstacle #6 was glory poles that you had to flip one side to the other for 15 reps. I'm not sure how much they weighed but they were surprisingly really light. After that we grab a slosh pipe and had to run a lap with it.
Obstacle #7: I can't remember
Obstacle #8 was sandbag wall toss. Grab a sandbag and carry it to the walls and toss it over, then you have to hop over the walls which varied from about 5-6ft each. Halfway through there's a balance beam that you have to traverse while carrying the sandbag. Once you get to the final wall you have to run the sandbag back to the start.
Obstacle #9 Climb the slant wall (very simple) then grab a keg, do a lap while carrying the keg and cross the finish line

Although I felt I was having an off day and couldn't shake the stitch in my side, I still loved the event. I know I can do better but it was my first one and I made it through so I'm pleased with that but now I want to smash it. I kind of wish they had this event every month so I can keep pressing on to beat myself. Now that the nerves of uncertainty are gone, I believe I paced myself too much and should have gone at a better pace. Either way, I had fun and that's all that matters at the end of the day. My time was somewhere around 42 minutes. We all made it through without any injuries so that's even more important!

After about a 45 minutes break, I took on the Elite portion of the race. I still never got definitive answers on the weights involved so these are purely guesses. First obstacle was a tractor pull. [my teammates told me, and pictures proved that they set the tractor up incorrectly and it wasn't in alignment with the direction of the rope which made it WAY tougher than intended]
From there it was a farmers yoke with two filled kegs hanging from ropes. My guess is somewhere in the 200# range. Had to walk it about 50ft there and back. [Since hours have passed since the start of the race day the ropes were coming undone so the kegs were no longer level with each other]
Third event was standing over head press using a fat bar. This was my first time ever working with a fat bar, and wow is it different than a normal bar! My guess is the weight was somewhere in the 130-160# range. My first few attempts off the floor I struggled and didn't get it up to my shoulders, again, fat bar made a big difference. Once I figured out how to get the bar up I was able to do the 8 reps with relative ease.
4th event was walking lunges with 135# and fat bar. I believe the distance to be about 30ft there and back.
5th event was Atlas stone lifts. If I'm remembering correctly it was 4 reps with 90#, 3 reps with 115# and 2 reps with 140#
6th event was Deadlift (my favorite) with unknown weight, I've heard ranges from 200-275#, my guess is towards the lighter side because I did my 8 reps with ease even though they used a fat bar. Deadlifting with a fat bar KILLS the grip! I'm still feeling the effects 3 days later.
Final event was a rope climb, another obstacle I've never attempted and I could only get up to the halfway mark before I had to bow out.
My temper got the best of me because my ego was hurt by not completing the event.
After calming down I reflected and realized I tackled some awesome feats of things I've never attempted before and I also learned what I need to work on for next time. I also had some great words of encouragement from my teammates for not giving up on my overhead press and they said I showed them that I have a never give up attitude that made them proud to see. As a coach, that makes me happy to hear. I have to remember that now that I own a gym, I am always on duty and have to stay focused on being an inspiration to my members.
Overall I had a great time, my teammates loved the event and we all are looking forward to competing again.
If anybody is in California, I highly suggest checking out this event. www.epicseries.co

Now the next challenge for me to tackle: A strongman competition!