In our crazy OCR community, we are all family, and our family stretches across the country, from coast to coast and even internationally. You get to know of and to know some fascinating and crazy people (in a good way).
I have been following and participating in the OCR world for a couple of years now and wanted to get to know some of the “athletes” a bit better. I was honored when Lindsay said yes to being interviewed, as to me she is a force to be reckoned with in the OCR world. For a while she was known as “Ryan Atkin’s girlfriend / wife, why” but this fierce young lady has come into her own and made a mark in the OCR world. If you are curious to know more about her, keep reading!!
What was your first OCR race? Why did you do your first race?
My first OCR race was actually the Spartan World Championships at Killington, Vermont in 2014. Yikes! My husband (boyfriend at the time) talked me into signing up because he though I’d do well. I was just coming off my mountain bike racing season, so from an endurance/fitness standpoint I was ready for the race, however I hadn’t done ANY upper body conditioning. Needless to say the obstacles were a bit of a challenge 😉 I think I ended up doing around 200 burpees throughout the 4.5 hour race. I managed to pull off 4th place in the elite field, but holly crow I was stiff and sore for weeks!
In your racing career, what has been the hardest race you have done and why do you feel that way?
The hardest race I’ve ever done, in any sport throughout my life, is probably a tossup between the 2014 Spartan World Championships (which I talk about above… I signed up having no idea what I was in for!), or World’s Toughest Mudder 2016, which just took place. World’s Toughest Mudder is a race that I think many people say is the hardest race they’ve ever done. It’s 24 hours long, and you’re doing a 5-mile obstacle course over and over again. Wet suits are a must since you’re in and out of water, and it gets really cold at night! The combination of trying to keep my brain preoccupied, especially through the night, from thinking of the pain my body was in and how cold and tired I was is the most challenging part. That being said, the community of people who do this race are amazing! Everyone helps each other through the obstacles, and you’re all out there together pushing to your limits. It’s a pretty unique experience.
Is there any race / OCR that you won't do? why is that?
Not that I’ve heard of yet! I’m up for anything, mainly because I really like to challenge my limits. Training for new goals every now and then keeps training and racing really interesting.
If you have to look back on your OCR career, what is one thing that has scared you?
I’m terrified of heights! A lot of the Tough Mudder obstacles take me way out of my comfort zone, especially during World’s Toughest Mudder when I had to do them over and over again each lap. However, I did do them, even the infamous 35-foot cliff jump. When I was standing on the edge my heart rate would climb up to nearly max just from looking over the edge of the cliff, but encouragement from competitors and volunteers, and definitely some determination from within, got me to take the leap.
I also worry about disappointing people, like fans or sponsors. However, I’m so lucky to have the most amazing support system, through family, friends, fans and sponsors. Even my sponsors just want me to do my best, but they never put pressure on me to win or make the podium. Sometimes, when I get to focused on pleasing others, I have to remind myself of that. I also try and remember to race for me and just give it my best, because if I’m too focused on expectations, it will take the enjoyment out of racing.
Is there a specific goal race / or challenge you have in mind that you are training for now? If so what is it?
Several! My training, year-round, is always focused on the end goal of Spartan World Championships and OCR World Championships. However, I think that my main focus for next year will be World’s Toughest Mudder, since I didn’t technically finish my race this year. To clarify, this race is all about doing as much as you can do and pushing your limits, which for some people means completing a few hours of the race, and for others it could mean all 24 hours. For me, my goal this year was 24 hours, but I didn’t quite make it. I got through 18 hours of the race and packed it in. My reasoning at the time was that I’d crossed the 100km mark, which was further both time and distance-wise than I’d ever gone before. I was cold, tired, and very sore all over. I thought I would be happy with that, but as soon as I woke up the next day I was so disappointed with myself for not completing my 24-hour goal. This is definitely a race that you learn so so much from each time you do it, and it was my first year. I’m really proud of the new limits that I did reach, but I know I can do all 24-hours! I knew right away that I will take another shot at it next year. As much as not reaching my goal has bothered me, bad days or “not quite’s” are all part of racing, and I always say you learn more from the bad days than the good ones. It’s made me so determined for next year!
Is it hard to be in the “public eye”? What I mean by that, is to be known by so many people that may or may not approach you at races / social media / etc.
Not really, the OCR community is a fantastic group of people! I’ve literally never had anyone be anything short of super nice to me. I can just be myself, and race my best, and people seem to be amazingly accepting and supportive of that. One of my favourite parts of races is hanging out with other competitors and the kids after. I did talk about pressure to perform in question #5, which is probably the hardest part of being a pro athlete. I think every pro athlete experiences it, but I’ve also learned how to deal with it. If I’m ever having a tough day, I have my husband to talk to, who’s also an OCR athlete and great at making me feel better. My sister used to be an Olympic cross-country skier, so I also have her and my family to talk to, who have been through it all before.
Do you believe it is harder to participate in an event or be a spectator?
There are definitely some races, like World Championships, where the pressure to perform is really high (really from myself, I’m very competitive!). It’s during races like that where I get to the start line and think, “Why do I do this to myself.” I’m so nervous I can barely think clearly or function. My friend and competitor, Faye Stenning, once said “I have to remind myself to enjoy the moment. It’s so amazing to be in the position we’re in, and we won’t be able to do this forever.” That helped a ton! I always do that now when I’m feeling really nervous. Once the start gun goes off, my nerves go away and I just settle into race mode.
What’s one random fact about you that you would like to share?
I’m obsessed with chocolate peanut butter iced cream. A good portion of my evenings are spent telling myself not to eat the whole tub. It’s fine in moderation, Lindsay!
What is the one piece of OCR gear that you cannot live without?
Tough question! Probably my monkey bars, for dead-hangs, chin-ups, and technical practice. I also love the Athletics8 tights that I race in. They don’t get too hot, even on really hot days. Once they’re wet, they actually help keep you cool, so if it’s a hot day during a race I’ll just wet them before I start, and they keep my legs from getting all scratched and sore during crawls.
Who inspires you?
Lots of people! My husband, my sister, Nelson Mandela, Emma Watson, and all the people who I see come out to races who changed their lives to be there or were told they’d never be able to walk again. That was one of the things that inspired me most throughout the night at World’s Toughest Mudder, and kept me going. So many of the racers there, such as my friend Jim Campbell who’s team I raced on (Goat Tough), have been in horrible accidents and were told they might not survive or would never be able to walk again. They come out to the race to walk for 24-hours just because they can.
What drives you to continue to race / OCR – is it a need to “feel the fear”, a competitive streak within yourself or?
I just love the sport! The things they make us do during the races are a bit primal. I feel like it brings us back to the roots of humanity and what the body was made for. It really keeps you full-body fit. It’s also such a fun sport to train for! It doesn’t require you to just spend a ton of hours on a bike, or running… you can literally do anything from hikes in the mountains, to dragging a tire behind you up a hill, to prepare for these races.
What is the best piece of advice that you have gotten from anyone over the years in regards to OCR, racing, life.
Besides the old saying “live, laugh, love”? My sister once told me to always go out and race your race, and race your best. Don’t get too caught up in beating any one person. When you’ve raced your absolute best, even if you didn’t win, you can finish the day saying it was one of your best days. If you’re just trying to beat someone, and you don’t succeed, even if it was the best race you’ve ever run you’ll come out disappointed. She’s a smart sister!
If someone wants to reach out on social media, how can they find you?