This blog post has been on my mind for a while, and yet it isn’t news at all. For those who follow or are friends with my personal Facebook account, I already posted about retirement but now seemed as good a time as any to put the time into a full post. Here is the post from October 22, 2015, on my personal page…
In 2010, my OCR journey began. I have written about and discussed in interviews my first step into OCR’s many times before. It all started with the very first Spartan Race in 2010 outside of Burlington, Vermont. Fate brought me out to that race that day and also an internal need to find some change within my life. That singular race would start to set the wheels in motion for a completely new life.
In 2011, OCR became more than a hobby to me, it was an obsession and an obsession that would continue on for a few more years. I was single, living in a dorm as a dorm parent, coaching and an administrator at a private school in Vermont. On paper, all looked really good and I was on track in the education world.
BUT, unknowingly I wasn’t happy and my life somehow did not seem like my own. I jumped into OCR as a distraction from other things in my life. I took this sport seriously when most still called it “stupid”, “dumb”, and had other choice names for me as well. It was this year I picked up support from my first sponsors, the brave companies that saw OCR as a thing before the rest of the world did.
Many thanks to CW-X and Mocean Mate for believing in me before the sport even had an identity.
In 2012, this is when things started to heat up. That year Gaspari Nutrition gave me the golden egg of sponsorships, a paid sponsorship that would cover living costs and some race travel. This allowed me to quit my day job and as a side become the first female professional obstacle racer. I also had the support of CW-X, Mocean Mate, Honey Stinger, Drymax Socks, Garuka Bars, and a few other companies on the side offering help. I traveled all over the world chasing the Spartan Race series, finishing 5th in the world that year in the points rankings, as well as earning what would now be a dinner plate sized 7 trifectas in the year.
I had the opportunity to help train Chris Davis, which is still one of the things I am most proud about during this whole OCR journey.
I saw the greatest successes I have ever seen athletically in any sport. It was an amazing ride.
Finally, this was the year I was offered a book deal to turn this website and my knowledge of the sport into a book. 2012 was also the year this website won Best Sports Blog in the 2012 Bloggies.
Simply put 2012 was a dream year.
In 2013, the year started off great with some good results, some podiums, and then injury took me out for most of the year. This injury in many ways was a blessing in disguise. While injured, I was able to focus on the writing while laid up on crutches.
I began writing for FitnessRX for Women, growing my own column there. I made the cover of my alumni magazine (Babson College), featured in a couple Outside Magazine articles and a Trail Runner Magazine article, as well as a few others. It was a surreal year where on one hand I saw my name in print several places, but athletically I was mostly injured.
Of everything that happened that year, I am most proud of offering the first OCR camp and the first OCR camp for women. When I introduced the idea in 2012 online it made sense to me from the skiing, surfing and lacrosse world but was still an unknown in the OCR world. It is fun for me today to see others following and creating their own training camps across the country. It is great to see so many of the women that first came to my camp doing great things in the industry.
However, I wasn’t over racing, not yet! In 2013, I finally got vengeance against the race that almost killed me in 2011. Overcoming World’s Toughest Mudder would be my greatest race accomplishment of the year and learned the importance of team.
I am eternally thankful for this year of change.
2014 was really a year of transitioning.
This was the year I found myself being pulled more to the journalistic and analysis side of the sport. New faces were quickly entering the competitive side of the sport and it was growing at a rapid pace. The people who once called me names and told me obstacle racing was foolish were now embracing it fully. Oh the irony, I wish I had more than one conversation on record from 2010 and 2011!
My writing took the form of being hired as Obstacle and Extreme Racing expert for about.com as well as Editor in Chief for Mud Run Guide. In April of that year, my book, that I had been working on since 2012, was published by Tuttle Publishing. With this, I began to see my name in a few more magazines and online websites.
We started Obstacle and Adventure Weekly and I spent most of the year filming interviews with people. It was my first time in front of the camera and a role which took a lot of work to be comfortable with. Without me even being aware, my place in the OCR industry was rapidly changing. I still raced competitively and even found my way onto a podium or two, but writing was becoming more and more of my passion.
This past year has been a huge year of growth. My place in the OCR industry had transformed over time, and it took me a while to settle in and acknowledge where that place really was.
Looking back, I realize I was never destined to be a star OCR athlete. I had my run, and I loved every minute of it. My group from the old days are mostly gone now, having left the industry years ago. They were the innovators. I often look around and find a new OCR world around me and myself comfortable in my new OCR role.
Being behind the scenes is not the sexiest position to have in any industry, but it is important. These days, it is far less about me and more about the people, companies, and products that make us who we are as a sport.
While I am more in the industry than I have ever been, my part to play is mostly as a name, rather than a face. My work is all done in the shadows behind the curtain these days.
I edit somewhere between 35,000 – 55,000 words a week, according to my online reports from Grammarly. In truth, the number is probably higher. To put that in perspective, my book was 35,000 words. With that many words to put to print, behind the computer has become my place.
This past year alone, I have been honored to have been interviewed for a number of articles about OCR, consulted on a legal case as an industry expert, and have written over 200 articles and edited countless more about our amazing sport. I am truly lucky and lucky to have found a niche in this new and emerging industry.
What does Retirement Mean?
So why did I title this article retirement when I am not really going anywhere?
I am sure it is obvious by this point that I am not leaving obstacle racing. There is still much work for me to do in the industry and I feel the need to take it as far as it lets me.
When I refer to retirement, I refer to the competitive athlete and professional obstacle racer part of my identity. That part of me has indeed retired. I am done chasing podiums, done feeling the stress of missing a workout, done pleasing sponsors, done with the push of needing a podium finish. I enjoyed that part of my life immensely, but I am smart enough to leave on a high note.
Retirement to me, means letting the expectations go. It means going to major events and opting to work instead of race. It is knowing where I am currently best suited – in front of or behind the camera, and even more often behind a computer.
Retirement means helping others. It means giving back to those who have given me so much. It is watching the next batch of superstars rise to the top and write about their journeys.
The sport of OCR has taught me much about many aspects of myself. Being competitive fueled a need I have within me to succeed. I got to actualize the feelings of success in a sport I had always dreamed of as a kid while ski racing. I felt the feeling of a podium finish. I got to click that box.
Will I be competitive again? I have no idea. But, for now, I have no plans of being a competitive obstacle racer anymore.
When I look at the last 6 seasons of obstacle racing, and look at the bucket list items accomplished, it is almost surreal. I have experienced almost everything I ever imagined for myself in this industry.
Thank you to everyone who has hung onto this website, my writing, my story, and so much more over the years. The site is still very much alive and thriving. I will continue to find female voices to highlight as well as trends and industry news.
In the future, some of the other aspects of living a healthy and active life will start to creep into this website, including the urban farm and homestead in our backyard. When I look at sport and life the lines are very much blurred, I use to see it all as separate things. Today, I see it all working together to create the whole.
Looking Ahead to 2016
Look for some new stuff in 2016, possibly some redesigns and cool new content. Be sure to head over to Mud Run Guide and see all the stuff we have going on there. Each day new stories from the industry are published.
2016 will mark my 7th season in the OCR industry. A head coach I once worked for said you aren’t truly an expert or “real coach” until you have done it for 10 years. Slowly but surely I am moving closer to that decade mark in OCR.
Thanks for all the support and continued support moving forward!