As you all can tell, I am trying to interview women for this article series from all types of backgrounds and with stories to tell. When I first learned about Amy Pacjic, it was humbling. Not only was she an American Ninja Warrior competitor, but she is the only women to stand on both the overall podium of both Obstacle Course Racing World Championship and World’s Toughest Mudder.
Please tell us a bit about yourself
I started out as a runner, keeping up with track and cross country through high school and my first 2 years of undergrad, when I quit due to injury. I was a hurdler and a high jumper. I LOVED obstacles, and I loved running, so naturally (especially considering I became an avid rock climber), it translated well into Obstacle course racing. I love the challenge and the thrill of the Obstacles. Outside of athletics, I am a veterinarian near Cleveland Ohio. Family wise, my husband is in the military, so I don't get to see him as often as either of us would like, but we make due. We have a couple of dogs (both runners).
What is your proudest achievement to date in your sport?
This is a hard one, such a wide range; it's difficult to pick just one. To this day, I am the only woman to have podiumed both world's toughest mudder and OCRWC. Both were early in my OCR career, before I thought I could ever be any good competing.
When someone says to you Obstacle Race or Obstacle Course race, what does this bring to mind for you?
Fun and Obstacles!!!
Out of everyone you have met in your industry, who inspires you and why?
Michelle Warnky has always been my inspiration. She was the one who really got me into OCR. she and I started training together for WTM 2013, I brought the endurance training and she brought the Obstacle skill. Once that was behind us, she convinced me to apply for American Ninja warrior (not that it took a whole lot of convincing).
We all have our strengths and our own personal challenges. Please tell us about one strength that speaks to who you are, and one challenge that you are working to overcome (can be professional or personal)
My strength in the OCR world is Obstacle technique/ completion. The experience from rock climbing certainly helps with that, there is always more than 1 way to complete a route or an obstacle, so the way one person does it may not be the best way for me. I love finding fun or different ways to do Obstacles for fun, but when it's down to business in a race, I can get through Obstacles efficiently.
As for my weekends to overcome, I think the biggest struggle is always/ will always be trying to squeeze workouts into the schedule on top of a full-time job and have to motivation and focus to really complete the workouts to the beat of your ability after a full shift. I have gotten very good at time management, but there will always be sacrifices that need to be made to keep up with work and training and living.
If you could be any flavor of ice cream what would it be and why?
I had a difficult time choosing a flavor, so I'll take my husband's suggestion: butter pecan, because I'm sweet, but a little nutty, haha
What was your first competitive event? Tell us about that
My first competitive OCR event was WTM 2013. I had no expectations to place high, my goal was to finish the full 24 hrs. In the middle of the night, I found out that I was in podium placing rank at the time! It was so exhilarating; I never dreamed I would be able to compete with the top women. I ended up placing third, and I went from a nobody to a known name on OCR overnight. What a kick off to my OCR career! I also learned a lot about gear choice that race. When it got cold, I layered hoodie on top of hoodie and when I stripped out of my race clothes and packed them up to go home, I could swear the bag weighed about 50 pounds!
Is there an event/competition that you would never do?
Not going to lie, (and I know a lot of people won't like this answer haha) I will never do the Spartan Race World Championship race. First off, it's been in an expensive place to travel to. 2nd off, it's a race of carrying heavy objects up the mountain and back (sure it's a good work out, but why? It's not fun, Obstacle heavy races are fun, if I wanted to carry heavy objects around, I can do it for free at home) thirdly, I prefer mandatory Obstacle completion. If you are claiming yourself as an elite athlete, you should be able to complete the Obstacles. When the highlight of the race is a burpee off at the finish line, it is not my kind of race. (Sorry for the rant, feel free to use or not use what you please haha)
What quote inspires you?
“Enjoy the Journey” from my high school cross country coach. I do the sport because it is fun, because I love it, and I never want to lose that. If you are not enjoying it, what is the point. Don't lose sight of the reason you started.
What is one little-known fact about you?
A little-known fact about me is that I hate chocolate. I hate the taste, as many times as I try it hoping I may magically like it this time…
I know we all have our own training plans/schedules/goals – tell us a bit about yours….
I have never really followed a strict training schedule since I quit track/cross country. But I try to run 5-6 days a week, lift 2-3 times a week, climb and play on Obstacles as much as I can. As for goals, I've got small goals I keep working too not really related to OCR, like for a while my goal was to be able to do a muscle up (done!) Next I want to get to one armed pull ups.
Do you feel like you are a “minor” celebrity with what you have accomplished? if yes does that feel weird to you at all?
Yes! Especially after American Ninja Warrior. I can always tell when my episode airs again, I get a lot of friend requests and messages from random strangers. Many are really great though, I get messages from parents saying their daughter saw me on TV and is now training to climb or doing pull ups or similar. I got a few messages from people saying “I quit drugs because I was inspired by what you did, and I want to do it too” and many others. It is really weird going to races and lots of people know who I am. Even weirder is when I am in a store or out in general public and people recognize me from ninja.
Please name one guilty pleasure you have?
Food, all sorts haha
If someone wants to reach out to you on social media, how do they find you?
Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter Amy Pajcic username