Robyn Baldwin to me is the definition of a strong “Alpha Female”. She has worn many hats in her life including being involved in the Marketing industry, recording her own weekly podcast called “The Alpha Female”, sharing her thoughts with the world via her blog, or just getting out there and participating in OCR world. I choose to feature her in my “Bad Ass Women of OCR” article series, is because I wanted the world to know that being a “badass” in the OCR community isn’t just about going hardcore at races, but it is also about being a strong woman overall in life. Robyn radiates strength, as she doesn’t let her PCOS or her MS stop her from going after what she wants.
You have held many hats in your journey – marketing, OCR racer, cheerleader, and even bikini fitness model. What has been your favorite role so far and why?
All of them, I can’t pick a favorite. I recently just interviewed for a podcast on chronic pain and the host said you seem like a multi-potentialist. It was such an astute observation. I love trying out different roles to see which ones I succeed at. Thankfully I’ve really thrived in an advertising and marketing role as a full-time day job. I’ve been obstacle course racing since 2012 and I’ve been blogging (writing) and now publishing a book since 2009 so I think I’ve found my groove there. The cheerleading days were perfect in my last year of University and my first year working full-time as it gave me a great social network of friends and I got to continue my dance days outside of childhood. The bikini fitness model and competitor served me well because it helped launch my personal brand and my fitness and health journey. So they each have a purpose and have been favorites for one reason or another.
I can’t image how being diagnosed with MS has changed your life. Do you feel it has inspired you to work that much harder and be a role model for your family and those around you?
Being diagnosed with MS and how I deal with it is very personal and my actions are never based on inspiring others. If that is a by-product of how I take care of myself then I’m doing a really good job of sharing my journey publicly. But first and foremost, living with MS and choosing to treat it positively is because if I don’t I could very easily get depressed or have a woe is me mentality about something. So I choose to call MS my sidekick and say that it’s teaching me to take the best care possible of myself because it truly is teaching me how to nourish myself, honour my physical body capabilities and how I move it daily, how I supplement, how I relax, how I deal with stress, how I sleep, how I work, how I have relationships. It’s teaching me all encompassing, 360 care.
Tell us a neat trick or technique you have learned to conquer the rope climb (the bane for many women racers out there).
I had to learn how to wrap the rope around my leg. For the life of me I tried the J hook technique and my body just never mastered it. As long as that rope is wrapped around my leg and I can step on it every time I inch higher I’m locked in there. Now getting down is another story. Having that rope wrapped around your leg vs. J hook means amazing sexy rope burn scars on your legs 🙂
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you on course?
I think the course that had me laughing for hours while we tackle it was Tough Mudder Toronto in 2015. I used to train with the Alpha Obstacle Training family in Toronto before moving to Ottawa. Several members decided to run Tough Mudder together that year. It was a leave no man behind mentality and it was really fun to run as a team vs. every man for himself. Everyone kept saying this was one of the reasons why they love the OCR community and to do something together without timing chips was fun. What mad it extra hilarious was finding 2 tutus on the course. Everyone got to wear a tutu. You would don the tutu, run, do an obstacle and hand it off to the next person. I had the lovely chance of wearing it on the Funky Monkey Bars 🙂
What has been your favorite Obstacle Course race and why (the terrain, the people, the obstacle layout)? Please be very specific.
The Ottawa Spartan Race Beast in 2015! That course was amazing. I was so upset in 2016 when they moved the race to Owl’s Head instead. It was my favorite course simply because there was an amazing running portion where I was just flying and able to have fun with my trail running passion. The people along the way were super friendly, the volunteers had absolutely been amazing that year and it’s the only Beast (I’ve run 3) where they actually didn’t run out of water which hasn’t been my experience elsewhere. The other reason why it was my favorite is I conquered a mental aspect I struggle with which is disappointment with myself when I’m not able to conquer on obstacle.
When I overheat I get MS symptoms which include numbness and tingling in my right side, loss of grip strength in my right hand and sometimes balance issues and vision loss. When this happens and I can’t do an obstacle, having to knock out 30 burpees actually makes it worse because mentally I’m mad at myself and getting more overheated. The day before the Spartan Beast my hand was stung by a wasp and ended up swelling to twice its size. I couldn’t grip anything, let alone use it. It wasn’t smart of me to run the race but thankfully getting my blood pumping ended up flushing out the toxin and I finished with a normal looking hand. I went into the race knowing I wouldn’t be able to do any grip strength obstacles so I went straight to burpees. But because I had mentally prepared for them it was just a part of my race.
If you were handed a plane ticket and all-expense paid trip for 2017 to participate in World’s Toughest Mudder, would you do it? Or if not why?
I would come to cheer, crew and cover the race from a media perspective but not race. Mud Run Guide you hiring? 😉 What I’ve discovered with living with MS and now another health sidekick of PCOS is that pushing my body to extreme limits does not serve me well. While I love OCRs and will continue to race I have to be very careful about how I train and how much stress I put the body through. Physical stress converts into inflammation and my body just doesn’t know how to properly deal with it. Learning to go after goals and dreams while being happy and healthy is my top priority.
What is your one guilty pleasure or indulgence?
Popcorn and Coconut Ice Cream – Enough Said.
Do you have a good luck charm or item you bring with you on course or to races? If so what is that and please explain the story behind it.
I’ve raced since 2012 in the same black thong. Unfortunately, it has finally met its maker so I’ll have to develop a new lucky charm!
What is one place in the world that you would love to visit but haven’t been able to get to yet? And why?
After seeing Patagonia in November of 2016 I’m definitely still on an adventure high. But my travel bucket list still goes on for days! I have had Spain & Portugal on my list forever. This year I’m going to Mallorca so technically getting close to Spain. My boyfriend and I are going back to the Rocky Mountains in the Fall because those mountains are calling our names. I also want to tackle the Inca Trail in Peru, surf in Bali and honeymoon in Fiji.
What book have you read that has motivated you to become the force you are today?
You are a Badass by Jen Cincero. I’m obsessed with self-development and self-love so in my journey to truly love myself after calling off my wedding in August of 2012 and starting a healing process this was one of many that helped me repackage my thoughts. I also recommend Spirit Junkie, May Cause Miracles and The Universe Has Your Back by Gabby Bernstein and I talk about The Happiness Project in my book Love Lost, Life Found as having a profound impact on me finding happy in my life. Well that book and my discovery of OCRs 🙂
Anything else you want to tell us?
To be honest, I don’t see myself as a badass woman in OCR. I think every single woman who straps on trail shoes, dones clothes that are going to get muddy and dirty, writes their race number in black sharpie on their body is bad ass. Whether they have been athletes their whole life or are discovering for the first time their athletic capabilities. Just choosing to tackle an OCR qualifies you as a badass woman of OCR 😉
If someone wants to reach out to you on social media to say hi where can they find you?
Instagram, Twitter, Periscope: @RobynBaldwin