RACE REVIEW: BATTLEFROG ATLANTA (Spring 2015)

The best team you could ask for...

I have to be honest with you guys from the jump here. As you already know from my previous reviews- I am a huge BattleFrog fan. I have been ridiculously excited about this race since… oh… last year.   However, BattleFrog announced a major change a few months ago that put doubt in my heart. They were eliminating their 5k OR 15k option and going with a single 8k option. As a trainer, I loved giving my clients this lighter or more challenging option to train for in the gym… and I felt that the reduced length would mean a reduced experience for the 15k racers. I was a little bit peeved at first, I bitched and complained… and I will admit that I was highly skeptical as I walked onto the venue Saturday with my team.

So my opinion flipped... much like my vertical position here.

So my opinion flipped… much like my vertical position here.

SPOILER ALERT: I am not wrong often you guys… but mark your calendars… I was wrong on May 16, 2015.   The race was indeed shorter (I will cover more in the terrain section)… but the obstacles… good lord.

THE TERRAIN:   BattleFrog chose the same location as last year- Georgia International Horse Park- in Conyers, GA.  BF got my attention real damn quick with their use of the property last year. As a matter of fact, the use of terrain was one of my primary reasons for touting this series so highly. We were in rivers, ponds, over slate beds, through fields, woods and culverts. It was incredible. This year… the terrain was not as varied. I will offer that they had fewer miles to work with… which means they can only get to use so much of the property. We definitely did not get nearly as wet or muddy as we did last year. As I mentioned- I believe BF made up for the mileage in their obstacles… but I have to say that there simply wasn’t as much varied terrain as last year- and that was a bit of a let down.

Uphill. Both ways. In the snow. With gas cans.

Uphill. Both ways. In the snow. With gas cans.

THE OBSTACLES: So while I was a little bit disappointed with the terrain and mud… the obstacles were ridiculously hard and strategic this year.   The regular offenders made their appearances this year… Like the Jerry Can Carry that took a trip up hill through single track trails. They stacked obstacles together for increased difficulty… several grip obstacles in a row, followed by several pull-up-and-over obstacles stacked together.   I ultimately decided to forego a monkey bar obstacle (and do my body-builders) to save my grip for the Tsunami (quarter pipe, run and pull up obstacle). There was another grip-burning obstacle that was similar to “tip of the spear” from last year… but wickedly different. On this one, you had to cross slanted walls laterally with ropes, or a small ledge (pretty much only finger tips could fit), and your legs had to stay high and tight to make it work… there were no footholds.   There was an inverted suspended ladder over a water feature (I believe it was named “bridge over river cry”)… another grip and core burner that immediately followed those hateful monkey bars. I have to say that I did find that the cargo nets and Tsunami wall SEEMED more narrow this year- which led to some major major bottlenecking. A small offense… BF just needs to look at widening those obstacles… or adding extra lanes, etc.

THE FESTIVAL: Similar to last year- the volunteers were amazing and pumped. Check-in was more electronic this year, and therefore a bit more elegant. The merch tent was FABULOUS (again, they roll in deep with womens cuts and kids stuff… not to mention tactical sleeves and such that can be used on the course… check out mine in the Jerry Can pick above!)… their gear is high quality and holds up well. Coach Pain Dewayne kicked ass- made your heart swell, and your blood pump fast while warming each of the waves up for their flights.   I feel like BattleFrog did an excellent job of spreading out the festival tents (but not too far) on the campus so that it didn’t feel crowded- but keeping things like the showers, gear check, and changing areas close together in a way that made sense. (however, if anyone from BattleFrog HQ happens to trip over this review: White Tents instead of blue for the changing area… we were changing in the dark in there y’all! 😉

SUMMARY: I walked away from this race incredibly proud. I am proud of myself, my team, and this racing series. I am so happy to see the 2014 freshmen back at it, making adjustments and showing up as solid sophomores… still showing room for growth… but putting on a kick ass and UNIQUE race.   I love that this series is ballsy and not afraid of a little #shirtgate with Spartan… BattleFrog has a sense of humor and cajones! (What more could a girl ask for!??!) I also love that BattleFrog elicits acts of heroism from regular Joes every time I am on their course. You’ll remember Stephanie, the wounded warrior spouse from SC last year… we saw her AND HER HUSBAND on the course this year in Atlanta… and were privileged to run along side them. Then there is my client, Christian, whom has suffered injuries and set-backs… that crossed the finish line- crushing mental and physical goals… with a big WHOOOOO!

Rick Flair said it best... Whoooooo!

Rick Flair said it best… Whoooooo!

This series embodies what I love about OCR’s… it has a magic that brings out the best in people, pushes them beyond their boundaries, and creates a space for racers to see themselves in a different way. Once you’re over the finish line, medal in hand… you can’t help but recount the personalities on the course, the obstacles you crushed, and the ones that beat you this time. That’s why I love and adore this sport: you leave changed athlete every single time… it’s an experience.   Rumor has it that BattleFrog will be back in the Atlanta area in November! It’s at a new venue in West Georgia- and I am pumped to race it! Get in on that early bird action here: http://battlefrogseries.com/battlefrog-atlanta-2015-ii/

What lit a fire under my ass. Literally.

Do you?

I have had a few clients recently ask me what got me motivated in the very beginning… What was the catalyst that made me stop everything and start running headlong for fire and mud? I thought it would make a good “resolution recovery” topic for the first post of the year.  😉

I would love to tell you guys that it was my kids, or my husband or some profound spiritual moment that shook me to my core… and that from that moment on- I was a changed person… and decided to take better care of my body and health.  But alas… I was forever changed by excellent marketing- a promotional video from Spartan Race… I know, I know… *hangs head in shame*.

In this video they were highlighting “Team X.T.R.E.M.E” racing the 2012 Virginia Super Spartan… particularly highlighting Cpl. Todd Love (Triple Amputee Marine) and Sgt. Todd Galloway (Double Amputee- Army).  The imagery and interview of Todd’s dad are particularly moving, and the clips of these guys just kicking ass on the course- after a little morning tandem jump out of a plane- will get your pulse going and maybe even get you to sign up for an OCR.  But the profound moment(s) for me are at the 8:00 minute mark (click here for the jump to the clip) where Noah says: “You know a lot of people tell me ‘I wanna do this, I wanna do that’. Well you know what? You gotta do it. There is no *want*, either you do it- or you don’t. You just… There are no excuses.” And then, immediate clip to Gary Love “That’s why he does what he does. There is no stop to my son. You know, he has no quit in him”.

It was a kick in the chest. This dude standing there with half an arm clearly visible in the frame- saying “either you do or you don’t. NO EXCUSES”.  I remember just sitting there– (mouth breathing, I am sure)– staring at the screen… and the thought that flashed through my mind was: “What the fuck am I doing?! I have two very capable arms and legs… and this guy is getting up and down a rope with one arm and an ARMPIT”.  From that moment in September 2012, it has been a steady drumbeat of realizing what I am truly capable of.  I ran a Warrior Dash right away- just to try out this mud-running thing.  I loved it.  I went on to run my first Spartan Race (Atlanta Sprint), in March of 2013- 6 months after watching that video:

First Spartan 2013

First Spartan 2013

I was completely hooked and immediately signed up for the Super in Wintergreen, and the Beast in South Carolina to complete my Spartan Trifecta.  The Trifecta consists of completing a Sprint (3-5 miles), a Super (6-8 miles), and a Beast (10-13 miles) in one calendar year…  Here I am with my Trifecta Medal almost exactly a year after I watched that video:

Trifecta- Nov 2013

Trifecta- Nov 2013

 

And in 2014… I added in multiple Battlefrogs, Rugged Maniacs, Savage Races, and a few non-muddy street races like the Peachtree.  I really feel like I embraced my inner athlete in 2014, and while I am not up to snuff to run with the elites, YET… I do finally consider myself a runner, and obstacle course racer:

2014 Racing

2014 Racing

(I do tend to enjoy the races that have a military beneficiary- Like BattleFrog and their support of Trident House… they even dedicate each obstacle to a fallen Navy SEAL… but its mostly because of how motivated I was by Team XTREME)

2014 was full of hard and scary moves, choices, and decisions- and some amazing opportunities and experiences.  I decided to change careers from homeschooling mom, to full-time personal trainer (which was HUGE for me).  I earned a bunch of medals, my RKC Certification, and learned so much about myself- what I am really about, and what I really want out of my life… which if I had to boil it down to one word- it would be “experiences”.  I want to experience so much with my kids, my family, my friends, and on my OWN.  That *on my own* part is a real game changer for me… 100% of my life up till late 2013 revolved what I thought I was “supposed” to be doing and what others thought of me… I finally stopped people-pleasing that year.  I think I have fully recovered from that shit 😉

I am not about to go all “New Year, New Me” on you.  Actually the opposite. I really like who I am becoming.  I am not leaving anything behind in 2014… I am carrying it all forward into 2015.  I have an amazing Client Roster at MBT, a race schedule that I simply CANNOT WAIT to accomplish, and a few non-fitness items on my bucket list that have me just… giddy.  I have no clue where I am going or what everything will look like when I get there… but I am enjoying the wind in my hair and the beauty in the messy parts along the way.  As a matter of fact, I hope that I never “arrive”… I am enjoying the ride that damn much.

And all of this because of a piece of marketing material.  I am not saying everyone has to sign up for an OCR… by no means.  But when something grabs your your attention, listen to it… get motivated… get passionate… and get after it.  There is no want… ladies and gentlemen… either you do it or you don’t.

Much Love,
~January

January Shiflett, RKC is a personal trainer, kettlebell instructor, obstacle course racing coach, and resident potty-mouth at Maximum Body Training in Cartersville Georgia.   You can contact her for classes and training opportunities at January.Shiflett@me.com

I call Bullshit.

For most people success is rarely a straight line- it is full of misfires, stutter-steps, failures, and re-starts. Success for me started on an otherwise normal Tuesday, a day- like so many other Tuesday’s before it- that I could’ve made the choice to stay exactly the same.

But those decisions never really sound like how I just phrased it- do they? We tell ourselves we will start that “diet” on Monday… why? Because we just love how crappy we feel when we eat processed food, and we’d really love the opportunity to feel that way a few more days?!? And let’s not start that new workout regimen till the first of the month- because nobody ever lost weight or got strong when they started on the 13th, 17th, or 25th … right? Right?

It's total bullshit.

It’s total bullshit.

It’s all bullshit.   And yet we still listen to it, obey it, and believe it. We ultimately waste an incredible amount of time by being passive players in our own damn life story. Let that wash over you for a minute. By doing the same thing you have always been doing, by believing in the bullshit excuses, you are simply floating through your life completely un-engaged with your true dreams and goals. If you aren’t engaged and making choices that will bring you closer to those dreams then what exactly are you doing?

I have two major regrets from my weight-loss journey. The first was my all or nothing approach to food.   If I made a bad choice- then I would just chuck the whole day. I would essentially say “screw it” to making good food choices for the rest of the day… because I had already gone and messed it all up with ONE bad choice earlier on. That type of thinking allowed me to be a victim to the “accident/cheat/slip-up”, and lets be honest, I never tripped and fell face first into a pizza, I made an active choice to eat it. This rationale also alleviated me of any responsibility to practice self-control for the rest of the day. This bullshit set me back over and over again.

The second major regret was waiting so long to get into the gym- I wanted to wait till I had lost “enough” weight so that I wouldn’t be the “fat girl” and I would better fit in and fly under the radar. This type of thinking is SO SO bullshit on so many levels:

  1. That thinking means that the current gym members must be assholes and would look down on me for doing the exact same thing they did… join a gym to get results.
  2. Lifting heavy weight and following a training program is THE fastest way to ignite your metabolism and lose body fat… you know- the results I wanted.
  3. I was intimidated because I knew that I couldn’t perform the way I imagined the members inside the gym could. And I was right. But by not joining- I only confirmed that fact and delayed my own success indefinitely.

 

Here’s the thing- I know it takes a lot of guts to dress up and show up at a gym, especially in the beginning… you don’t know anybody, and you don’t know what to do- and everything feels weird and uncoordinated. You can do yourself a world of favors by hiring a personal trainer ahead of time. By hiring a trainer you can make sure that you not only perform exercises safely and correctly… but it also means that you’ll have a friendly face there too.

Here’s the thing… I think that we listen to the bullshit, like what I listed above, in order to keep ourselves safe. The reality is that we are all just very fragile, delicate souls. We don’t want to reach out and make profound change- because it could mean that we have to be really uncomfortable for a while. It could mean that our friends will be critical, or maybe even distance themselves from us… or coworkers may take potshots at your new “fanatical” ways. Making change would also mean that we have to shrug off our safe/damaging habits… which would leave us alone and defenseless to some dark parts of ourselves that are scary to confront. In fact- I can almost promise that there will absolutely be some really gnarly junk that you are going to have to address… after all, you haven’t been listening to bullshit for all this time, for no reason have you?

There is good news though y’all. Once you start ignoring bullshit, and deal with the real issues that lie beneath… there is happiness, balance, and incredible peace on the other side. It’s not all unicorns and butterflies 24/7… But you begin to recognize all that old bullshit when you see it, and you tell yourself to quit listening. You start defending your inner peace and happiness like your life depends on it- because frankly… it DOES.

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to keep denying yourself your very own happiness… just sloshing along through a fog of a life? Or are you going to call out the BS, shrug it off, deal with it… and claim the goals and dreams that have been sitting here waiting for you all this time?

Much Love,
~January

 

January Shiflett, RKC is a personal trainer, kettlebell instructor, obstacle course racing coach, and resident smart-ass at Maximum Body Training in Cartersville Georgia.   You can contact her for classes and training opportunities at January.Shiflett@me.com

It’s Easy for You… You’re Fit.

beforeafter

“It’s easy for you”… it wasn’t always.

I have ran into this comment a few times recently… some version of “it’s easier for you… you are fit… you like this stuff… you aren’t out of shape.”  I am not put off by it at all… but it always gives me pause.  Perception is a funny thing. Most of my “friends” on social media and followers of my blog are aware of my struggle with weight, and my eventual progress with losing it for good… However, it has come to my attention that I have made quite a few new friends that don’t know my story, and therefore- have quite a skewed perception on my level of health-nutty-ness (there are crazies out there that think I don’t like candy y’all!).  They just know that I am now a kettlebell fiending, obstacle course racing, lover of all foods whole and clean.  But it wasn’t always that way.  Just 3 years ago I was an obese (220lbs on a 5’9 frame), smoking, metabolically damaged, completely out-of-shape, unconditioned, uncomfortable, weak and unhappy woman.

I have previously outlined my history of how I got fat, what I did right with food, and exercise to eventually lose the weight.  And while I have adjusted my food to follow more of a Whole30 food plan, and I now have earned my RKC Instructor certification… The highlight reel still holds true:  good, whole, clean foods and lifting heavy things will get you big results.  Now- 3 years after that Drivers License picture up there… I have started a career as an Personal Trainer and I get to run Obstacle Course Races in all kinds of awesome places.  But the most important is that I am now happy in my own skin, I recognize myself in pictures again, I am no longer a smoker, and I am definitely NOT a weak woman.

3 years ago- to this very month I was searching too, looking all over for answers. And I can tell you with absolute certainty, the answer is YES. YES YOU CAN DO THIS. It comes down to consistent, daily, sustainable, and realistic changes. There will absolutely be hard days that leave you challenged to stay on your food plan, and there will be extraordinarily sore days after working hard for your goals… BUT YOU CAN DO IT. You don’t have to wait for a silly arbitrary resolution to get started… GO. NOW. Start today!  Even a small change like tossing your soda for a water will put you one step ahead for tomorrow.

I would be honored to be part of your journey as you transform your life. Whether you are a mom looking to drop weight and get strong; an athlete that is looking to improve his strength and conditioning; or a weekend warrior needing to train for the next obstacle racing season… I would be honored to work with you as your personal trainer. I work out of Maximum Body Training in Cartersville GA, and I am RKC certified. I offer kettlebell classes, small-group, and private training.  I want to be on your team.  Feel free to contact me anytime for more details: 770-773-5987 or check out my profile at Dragon Door.

Staying on the Wagon

regretGetting started on a new diet and fitness regime is easy.  I mean really… we all know what we “should be doing”.  And the initial motivation is pretty easy to come by…  being unhealthy and overweight is not fun. And lets assume that you haven’t fallen for any gimmicks (pills, shakes, get-thin-quickies) this time around… and you purchased that gym membership, set an appointment with a personal trainer, and got rid of all of the fake food in your house.  You go with great gusto and determination through the first days, maybe even weeks.  But inevitably, the novelty *will* wear off.  What then?  This is where 95% get bored, sidetracked, and fall off the wagon all together.

So what worked for me, that kept me in the successful 5%?  Well, I do believe that going Paleo, and lifting heavy were absolutely crucial in my campaign.  And I do need to point out that I still abide by a Paleo Lifestyle and Lift Heavy 5-6 days a week, running the other two days.  I will admit that in the beginning, I thought the diet and lifting would be short-term… just to lose the weight and get skinny.  As I highlighted in my introductions, I learned that those changes would have to be permanent for me to be healthy and keep the weight off permanently.  So with the “permanent changes” in mind… you cannot have your special number on the scale as the goal.  At least not as the only goal.  You will reach that special number, then what happens? Well- most people gain the weight back.  And again- we don’t want to be that 95%- or most people.

I think having other goals that are performance based is the best way to stay on track.  Those goals can be competitive or fun- but I really and truly believe that you have to find something that motivates you beyond weight loss.  Having performance goals will keep you going during the plateaus, and keep you engaged and away from boredom.  For me that began with my trainer-friend asking me if I could do a Pull-up or Chin-up.  Nope.  I couldn’t.  But, you know what? I really wanted to be able to do them- when I took a second to think about it.  So I started incorporating exercises and looking up progressions to get me to that first pull-up and chin up.  Soon after that I found out about Obstacle Course Racing (AKA: OCR’s)- like the Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, and the Tough Mudder.  So I started training my running speed and my strength for those courses and obstacles. (I ran my first OCR at the Warrior in Alabama in October ’12, and I will be running my first Spartan Race in March ’13 in Atlanta…. I am so geeky excited!!!).  I also have weight lifting goals- being able to bench press XXX or deadlift YYY.  Yes, my weight continued to trickle down… but that has just been a happy consequence of working hard at my other, more primary, goals.

The point is that there are plenty of days that I really just want to eat that brownie, or say “eff it” to working out. And if “weight loss” were my sole motivator… I would have likely found an excuse. Having other goals have helped combat the “eff it’s” and keep me consistent and motivated… and firmly in the 5%.  🙂

See you next time,
~J

Running Day: 01/03/13

20121215-205848.jpgToday is another Workout Of the Day that is delivered daily to my inbox thanks to those friendly spartans.  You can get our own subscription (it’s free!) by clicking here.

So this workout of the day is probably a couple of days old, I just hold on to them in my inbox- and then pick one when I hit a running day.  This one called for running 3-5 miles, doing jumping jacks, crunches, and push-ups.  I ran 3.5 miles, did 50 jacks, did 50 Kettlebell Swings (25lb)- (the ground was wet- so I didn’t do the crunches), and 30 push ups.  I got 15 pushups in one set, and then had to split up the remaining.  But I hit my goal.

Next time,

~J

Running Day: 12/23/12

20121223-182947.jpg

Good Toes Vs Evil Toes

Today was the annual Christmas Reunion with Mr. S’s family. I look forward to this reunion every year. I am so blessed to have married into such a cool, loving and welcoming family (the fact that they are awesome cooks *may* or *may not* have something to do with my adoration).

The workout was simple- go home and just run. We ended up doing a 5k- in about 34 minutes or so (forgot to stop the timer when we cooled down- so I am not exactly sure on the time).

See you tomorrow for a quick HIIT! 😉
~J