Monthly Archives: April 2016

And I Am Launching

It’s official!  I have decided to launch my own signature cross conditioning obstacle course racing program.  After thinking long and hard about how I wanted to get the Charlotte community informed about the training that is available for these types of races, or better yet being a more balanced individual, I felt like I need to do more.  Before I go on, let me make a few things clear.  I will still be training at the Harris YMCA, but I will not be teaching Spartan SGX as of now.  That said, I feel strongly in the staff and SGX instructors on site at the Harris YMCA.  As such, if what I am doing does not work for you, I offer that as an alternative.  I do plan to continue my relationship with the Y in hopes that we can continue to build the sport of obstacle racing and training in Charlotte and possibly add an evening class back in the future.


I introduce to you “Cross Conditioning Obstacle Course Racing“.  Since the Charlotte Spartan Sprint, I have been thinking long and hard about the perfect way to train for an obstacle race.  While I love the idea of just having a class two days that works on strength and teaches individuals the skills they need to conquer obstacles, I actually think conditioning should be placed at a very high importance as well.  The terrain of these races is not easy and the length of time people are on their feet can be anywhere from 1-4 hours.

How do we get the best of both worlds?  We make a program that focuses on longer workouts with a conditioning focus.  We take the barbell out (because when in real life or racing is it functional to do a hang clean – sorry I said it).  We add core functional and primal movements. We place practicing being on our feet at the same level of importance as learning how to do an obstacle.  Let’s face it, if you fail, you have to be conditioned to do burpees before continuing to move again.  I think you are starting to follow me now.


For those of you that are serious about a 12 week program that phases into building a more balanced individual (specifically for obstacle racing), I have worked out an incredible schedule of workouts for you to follow that will essentially set you up for being faster, stronger, and one step closer to the finish line.  You don’t need to do any other workouts (unless you want to), yet I would ask you not to.  Each of the workouts below is included.

  • Sunday – Cross Conditioning Spartan SGX class at Crossfit Mecklenburg
  • Monday – Recovery/Cross Training Day (Flywheel/Yoga)
  • Tuesday – Speed/Hill Training Workout
  • Wednesday – At home mobility/strength workout
  • Thursday – Cross Conditioning Spartan SGX class at Crossfit Mecklenburg
  • Friday – Recovery/Cross Training Day (Flywheel/Yoga)
  • Saturday – Steady state endurance long run

As you can see, Crossfit Mecklenburg will be the host of the Cross Conditioning Spartan SGX workout.  Flywheel has also offered a special rate to 12 week program participants to use on their cross training days.  See website for details.


Through the 12 week program, we will focus on a phased approach.  This will allow each individual to build necessary foundations before moving on to more difficult metabolic outputs and strength exertions.  We will also work through the importance of mobility and nutrition as it relates to performance.

Phase I – (Weeks 1 – 4)

Master basic fundamental body weight movements.
Discuss nutrition and its impact on performance.
Begin conditioning body for increased metabolic output.
Place major emphasis on mobility and range of motion.

Phase II – (Weeks 5 – 8)

Ramp up the intensity of program using more complex movements through metabolic conditioning.
Begin implementing strength training mechanisms; including kettle bells, sandbags, and sleds.
Increase duration of steady state endurance workouts.

Phase III – (Weeks 9 – 12)

Place foundation of workout around mimicking the intensity of a race.
Less rest, including obstacle skill sessions. Obstacles that can be guaranteed to be practiced, include: Rope Climb, Bucket Carry, Sandbag Carry, 8 Foot Wall Jump, and Hercules Hoist. Other obstacles TBD.
Discuss race plan and practice unexpected race scenarios.

Should one phase not appeal to you, you can opt to not attend that phase, but come on a monthly basis. Further, if you would like to “drop-in” on a workout you may do so as well. In both cases, you will opt out of some of the benefits that those choosing the 12 week program will receive.


I would love for you to look around the website.  I would love for you to provide some feedback.  I want to keep the 12 week group relatively limited the first round, so that I can be the best coach for you that I can be.  I am committed to a process and seeing you change into a more confident individual.  As much as I believe that men and women both equally benefit from the races, from experience I can guarantee that women will feel empowerment and strength they never thought possible.  When you finish this race, you won’t feel defined by a number on a scale or the way your clothes fit, but instead strong and encouraged by what you realize you are capable of (and that is what matters).


Whether you want to drop in, commit or just inquire, please reach out.  The enthusiasm I have for this sport is out of this world.  I love talking about it.  I love meeting new people.  I love learning new things.  I can’t wait to see what we can do here in Charlotte.



Cross Conditioning 12 Week Program

I had an incredible discussion this weekend with one of my best girl friends who just happens to work in PR and social media.  I have been dragging my feet about proudly displaying details on my program in fear that it might not work out.  I don’t know why I feel the need to have someone approve my idea.  That said, she lit a freaking fire under my ass.  I’m going to do this on my own, and I’m so confident in this that I want to give my readers a heads up.

Cross Conditioning / OCR – Take Crossfit. Remove the barbell.  Practice longer WODs (workout of the day) with a conditioning focus.  Add core functional movements.

It all came to me this weekend.  I love everything that training for a Spartan Race has to offer, but what if you don’t want to do a race?  What if you just want to be an overall better athlete?  You want to run a little faster, you want to lift heavier items with ease, and/or you want to improve your overall quality of life with others around you.  That’s what this is.  It’s for everyone.  It prepares you for life.


I am a mom to two incredible girls (a one year old and a two year old).  While I was a college athlete, I have had to work just as hard as any other new mom to get my body back in to shape.  It was with this cross conditioning method that I found myself in better shape post baby than I was during my post-collegiate days.  I was also spending less time at the gym and actually increasing my calorie intake (as a result of an increased metabolism).


This week, I will finalize my plans for my 12 week cross conditioning program, which will also prepare all fitness levels for the Spartan Race in Asheville on August 6, 2016 and/or the Fort Bragg Sprint and Carolinas Beast.  It will be hard, but I will hold you accountable.  Know this – there will be two options.

  • Completely online  – I will send you workouts each week, in which you will complete on your own. It will essentially be a guide for those of you who know how to exercise, but do not know how to draft a formal plan.
  • Participant Level – In person.  Notebooks to track results.  Direct conversation with me regularly.  Details to be disclosed later this week, but you should expect:
    • One in-person speed/hill workout per week in a group setting.
    • Two in-person Spartan SGX workouts per week in a group setting.
    • One running workout to perform on your own.
    • One at home strength workout to perform on your own.
    • Group workouts regularly at disclosed locations.
    • Group communication.

As a Spartan SGX coach, I will also offer discounts on races and gear with affiliates.  Please reach out to me about any questions you have, as I finalize details and get this out to the general public by end of week.  As I speak to my results, I dream of seeing my clients do the same.  Nothing is more fulfilling than feeling strong and confident.

Charlotte Spartan Sprint 2016 Debrief

If you would have told me on January 1st that I would be running in the April Charlotte Spartan Sprint Race, I would have shrugged my shoulders.  If you follow my blog, you remember that it was during the Asheville Super the prior year that I dislocated my shoulder and was ultimately sidelined from many upper body exercises.  I sure did make a comeback.  Let me start in January.  I regained the ability to lift my arm overhead.  I was released from physical therapy.

I eased my way in to some serious lat exercises through training with an incredible group of women led by the one and only Emily Breeze Ross at Stax – an incredible crossfit gym in Charlotte.  It was in these workouts that I gained confidence in the workload that my shoulder could handle.  Let’s face it, I was afraid.  In the confines of my home gym, I was hesitant to try certain movements for fear that I would end up in physical therapy again (even though it was evident I wouldn’t).  The environment was supportive and the push from other women forced me to work outside of my comfort zone.  It was during these workouts that the wheels started turning that I actually might be able to pull off this race (this year).


I completed my Spartan SGX coach certification in February.  This gave me the ability to lead my own Spartan training classes.  I started teaching my first class in March.  It all happened so fast.  I was introduced to an incredible group of people, who welcomed me with open arms into a pretty tight knit community.


So positive.  So tough.  Regardless of what was going on during my day or theirs, these individuals (my team) pushed through some high intensity workouts while also having a lot of fun discussing races and attempting to complete several obstacles. I signed up for the race in February and put the pedal to the metal.


I focused on strength, but also put a major emphasis on conditioning.  This year’s course was 25 obstacles spread over 5 miles.  It favored those who could run (and run fast).  Let me start at the beginning. Conditions were about as bad as it gets for Charlotte in April.  Temperatures in thirties.  15-20 mile per hour winds.  Warm up was imperative.  My husband was set to start at 7:30 AM.  I was set for 7:45 AM.  After picking up our packets, we went back to the car and sat until 7:00 AM.  At that point, we stripped down to our race wear and a long sleeve shirt that we could chuck at the finish line.


I have to admit, this is one moment in my life that I will remember being the coldest (and I went to school in VA where winter wind chills were in the negatives).  See my choice of apparel above.

  • Mudgear Compression Socks
  • Reebok Women’s All-Terrain Super Running Shoe
  • Reebok Compression Short
  • Athletics8 Compression Arm Sleeves – I ordered just days before due to the weather forecast.
  • Nike Racer Dri-Fit Singlet

I dropped my long sleeve shirt at the start.  Surprisingly, the arm sleeves made an incredible difference.  I would consider wearing these more often.  I already knew the socks were key.  Outfit set, I was ready to start.  See details below.


  • Run hard as hell down a cattle beaten hill straight over a small creek.
  • Upon climbing a short hill, OBSTACLE 1 – hurdles.  Beams suspended about 4 feet off the ground.  Clear them.  Any way possible.
  • Mile 1 done.
  • Approach OBSTACLE 2 (“classified”) – over, under, through.  You got it.  Jump over a short wall, roll under a raised wall and jump through a wall with a hole in it.
  • Loop back to start.  OBSTACLE 3 – A-Frame Cargo Net climb.  See below.


  • OBSTACLE 4 –Multi-Rig.  I made it halfway across before my cold hand grip failed.  I failed.  I was sent to the burpee zone.  30 burpee penalty for me.  My hands just got more cold.


  • OBSTACLE 5 – Hercules Hoist.  Lift a heavy bag up and lower it controlled slow.  The women’s bag is around 60 pounds.  I am still not sure how I was gripping the rope.  The only thing that I could think about was how my hands were working, but I wouldn’t feel them.


  • OBSTACLE 6 – Spear throw.  It’s hit or miss.  I actually hit the target dead on, but it fell out.  That counts as fail.  I’m in the burpee zone.  With that I am 60 burpees in and I haven’t even run 2 miles.


  • We have hit the 2 mile marker.
  • OBSTACLE 7 – “classified” – Monkey Bars.  I failed these in Asheville. I nailed them in Charlotte.  Nothing is better than kicking that bell to let everyone know you made it.


  • OBSTACLE 8 – Atlas Carry – pick up a heavy stone, carry it several feet, put it down, do 5 burpees, and carry it back to start.
  • OBSTACLE 9 – Vertical Cargo Net.  Take that A-frame net and make it go straight up.  My tip – stick to the sides where the net is the least loose.  You can climb quicker on the tighter sides.
  • OBSTACLE 10 – Plate Drag.  This should not be hard.  In fact, it isn’t for me.  However, being the one of the first groups of people to get to the obstacle, it was nearly impossible.  The grass was 2-4 inches high.  There were hidden rocks underneath.  My sled got wedged in the clumps and rocks.  I took longer than necessary to get my sled back and forth.
  • We are at mile 3.
  • OBSTACLE 11 – Sand Bag Carry.  Run/walk/put on your shoulder/back/biceps.  Do what you need to do to carry it around a large loop through the woods.
  • OBSTACLE 12, 13, 14 – 6, 7, 8 foot wall.  Elites have to complete by themselves.  I am at a disadvantage being so short.  Either way, I made them.
  • OBSTACLE 15 – Z-wall.  I am convinced that my height makes this almost impossible to complete.  I just can’t reach some of the hand hold blocks.  I’m back in the burpee zone.


  • With that, we are at mile 4.
  • OBSTACLE 16 – “classified” Bucket Carry.  I dominate this.  Could we do the bucket carry the entire race?  Having two 20 pound children that I carry around together regularly, easily prepares me for this. See picture at start of post.
  • OBSTACLE 17 – Pond run.  I never saw a pond.  I just saw a lot of mud and nearly impossible terrain to run on.  I was forced to slow down.
  • OBSTACLE 18 – “classified”.  Again, I never saw this obstacle.  Maybe they forgot it?  Maybe I was just so cold nothing phased me anymore.
  • OBSTACLE 19 – Barbed wire.  My downfall.  My new nemesis.  I chose the route where the barb wire was closest to the ground. I tried to roll.  I tried to change directions.  I tried to crawl.  No matter what I did, I got dizzy, was unsuccessful and I ultimately got passed by 4 people in a matter of 100 yards.  It shut me down.  The anxiety of two weeks of racing set in.  I just wanted to make it to the finish.


  • OBSTACLE 20 & 21 – Rolling Mud and Dunk Wall.  I was actually starting to feel warm before I was forced to submerge myself in water, which eventually led to me having to swim under the dunk wall. I began to hyperventilate and had a very hard time catching my breath. The picture is pretty hilarious.  It says it all.


  • OBSTACLE 22 – Slip wall.  In past races, this obstacle has not actually been that slippery for me.  In this race it was imperative to use a rope with the knots. It was slick.  My shoes held up for me, providing me the traction that I needed to stay up.
  • OBSTACLE 23 – Inverted wall. Another obstacle that I am not used to being so slippery.  Climb/jump/find a way to reach the top of an inverted wall and slide down the other side.
  • OBSTALCE 24 – Rope climb.  No water underneath.  A big fan attraction.  You better practice this and get it.


  • OBSTALCE 25 – The famous fire jump.  I tried to edge someone out over the pit.  I didn’t quite make it.


I was reluctant to check my place at the end of the race.  I thought I was much further behind than I actually finished.  My initial check left me at 13th.  I was in shock.  I thought for sure I would be high 20’s.  After final results were posted, I ended up 14th.  I snagged a picture with my husband before chatting with him about her experiences.


In my comeback race, I finished 14th overall, 7th in my age group and failed three obstacles (completing 90 burpees).  I missed the top 10 by less than 1 minute.  Jeff ended up 26th overall, 5th in his age group.  He failed one obstacle (completing 30 burpees).  It sounds like somebody worked a little harder.  Kidding.  Here are my biggest takeaways from this race.

  • The sport is getting much more competitive.  In the first mile, I was running hard.  I have improved my run a lot, averaging 7:28/mile in race the prior weekend.  The women running in my heat have run races in 2016 with average paces in 6:30-7:00/mile range.  They are fast.
  • Sponsorship is everywhere.  Elite Spartans are making money racing. This is no joke.
  • I was not phased by strength, but rather conditioning.  I could have saved time transitioning quicker between obstacles and the run.
  • Anyone can do these races.  I am so proud of my team and all of the other groups out there helping one another to complete these races.
  • Most importantly, I am back.  I am injury free.  I am confident in my ability to do another one.  That is HUGE.



Cooper River Bridge Run Debrief

We headed out of town mid-morning on Friday.  We anticipated a decent amount of traffic due to the high volume of people that head to Charleston for the event.  We opted not to pay the extra money to have our packets mailed to us.  That said, we were required to report to the Charleston Convention Center by 8 PM on Friday to pick up our bib and packet at the Bridge Run Expo.


I typically hate going to these types of Expos.  There is an overwhelming amount of running “stuff” thrown in your face just hours before your competition.  While I get the purpose, the day before the race is not the best time to start contemplating changing your original plan.  With that in mind, my husband and I picked up our packets and cruised around the various booths.  The first thing we noticed was the deals on gear and fuel.  Therefore, if you decide to do this race next year, keep this in mind.  You can definitely restock on Gu packs and try out various technology.


We didn’t spend a lot of time at the Expo.  Instead, we headed to our hotel in Downtown Charleston.  Since we were on a trip by ourselves, we opted to stay right near the race finish line at the Francis Marion Hotel.  Great location, not so great room.  For the price we paid, there was not much room to move and there was a lot of noise.


The forecast for Saturday morning called for thunderstorms and wind. At least it was going to be warm right? After going back and forth with my husband about our race wear plan, we came up with the following:  If we were going to get rained on, we wanted to have the least amount of clothes on as possible (especially since it would be warm).  Hence, no shirts.  That said, what would we wear on the bus over to the start and during the transition time from drop off to start line?


Yup – that’s what we came up with.  We couldn’t find ponchos, so we bought some 55 gallon trash bags at the local Walgreens.  We cut a hole large enough for our head to fit through the top of the bag.  We would put the bags on in the event of a down pour.  We also brought with us old t-shirts that we could wear underneath, take off 5 minutes prior to the start, and leave on the fence of the corral.  If you are not aware, a local charity does come around and collect the leftover shirts after the race starts.  


We left our hotel to walk to the bus to take us to the start line at 5:45 AM.  It’s a school bus.  I don’t know why I thought it would be a chartered bus.  The ride took about a half hour.  We were dropped off at the Harris Teeter (former Piggly Wiggly) in Mount Pleasant.  From there, we walked at least 20 minutes to our start corral.  It was 6:45 when we got there.  Race starts at 8 AM.  Since the roads are closed, we hunkered down under the wide spanning roof of a gas station right outside of the competitive corral.


We stretched and we put on our bags.  We waited.  The buildup for the race is pretty incredible.  Controlling your nerves is essential to saving energy for the actual race itself.  For those wondering, the competitive heats (i.e. times under 50 minutes) start at 8 AM.  The remaining groups are held back until 8:05 AM.  There is a gap.  Since we are running the Spartan Race in Charlotte this coming weekend, my husband and I both treated the race as our last very hard tempo run before the Spartan.  We were not running this together.  We wished each other luck as the gun went off and didn’t see each other until I crossed the finish line.


The things that stood out to me the most in the race?  I am happy that I had my Garmin with me.  It was windy as hell.  It was 6.2 miles.  Where are the obstacles?  Now the details.

  • Mile 1 – 7:27 mile. Flat, somewhat downhill. Everyone started too fast.  That’s why I’m glad I had my Garmin.  I knew I wanted to run 7:30’s.  I studied my watch to ensure I didn’t push too soon.
  • Mile 2 – 7:20 mile.  Flat, somewhat downhill.  Still not on the bridge.  I knew I was going to slow down as soon as I hit the uphill.  Since I was feeling good, I decided to press a little the second mile to compensate the amount I would slow down mile 3.  People were still running too fast.
  • Mile 3 – 7:52 mile.  Yup – it was harder than I thought to run up the bridge.  It was like   tunnel vision.  The end felt like it could never get closer.  As much as I tried to tell myself I would never walk in a running race, I did.  Twice on the uphill (right near the top), I stopped, took 10 walking steps, and then kept running.  I was red lining.  If I had any chance of pushing on the downhill, I had to drop my heart rate.  As I watched my pace drop to 10 minute miles on my walk, I had the sinking feeling that this was going to be a BAD day.
  • Mile 4 – 7:20 mile.  Get your shit together Jen.  Part of racing is convincing yourself the negative things going through your mind are not true.  As I started my downhill, running into a serious headwind, I looked for people to draft off of and thought about the positives.  NO MORE UPHILL.
  • Mile 5 – 7:25 mile.  I’m over half way.  I’m in Downtown.  I grabbed a cup of water from the water station and poured it on my head.
  • Mile 6 – 7:25 mile.  Tunnel vision.  Again.  Running through the crowds on Kings, makes you feel like you will never get to the final chute.
  • Mile 6.2 – UM excuse me.  I thought this was a 6 mile race.  Why didn’t I think about the fact that it was a 10K?  When I ran through the 6 mile marker and the race wasn’t over, I thought I might throw up.  That feeling continued to last as I ran through the finish.


I ran into my husband almost immediately.  A lot of people have asked me how he did.  He doesn’t put anything on social media.  This guy ran 6:30/mile and almost broke 40 minutes.  I am so proud of him, as was he of me when I crossed the finish line.  They say couples that sweat together, stay together.  I think that might be the case.  We bonded over details of the race and our similar experiences while working through the course.




The rest of the weekend was about food and drinks – Blood Mary’s at Burns Alley, Lunch at Pearlz, Ice Cream at Kilwins, cocktails at O-Ku, Steaks at Halls Chophouse and Sunday brunch at Charleston’s Cafe.  Hard work should be rewarded.  We had a great time seeing friends, yet spending time together.  We will most certainly do this again at some point.  Hopefully as a family one day!