My first race was Malibu 2013 and it was COLD!! Not knowing what I was getting into, we went hard out the gate. I was huffing and puffing so hard, I literally thought I wasn’t going to make it. I was slipping everywhere because I was in experienced and was wearing Nike Frees! I failed pretty much every obstacle out there (rope climb, monkey bars, spear) so I was drowning in burpees. I wanted to cry because I was so tired and so cold. I kept asking myself “why did I sign up for this”! But then I crossed the finished line and earned my first medal. After that, I was hooked.
After our third kid, Emily (my killer awesome wife) starting working out hard in the most inconvenient times (early morning and late night) to lose the baby weight. She proved to me that it can be done and that health is important. The “I need to change” moment occurred in my parents’ kitchen. My dad squeezed my shoulder and said, “That extra weight looks good on you Rick. Makes you look like a man.” I wear my weight well, and he was sincere. I looked stronger, but it was just a layer of fat. It was the first time that someone, excluding Emily, acknowledged the “extra weight.”
I had little kids that I could not run around after my daughter was teased by one of her friends because of her weight. I was so young and I was trapped inside a body that would not allow me to do the things I wanted. My doctor saw me struggling to lose weight and suggested the surgery and five months later I did it.
The turning point was when I got locked up. Seeing my mother cry and scream was the worst feeling I've ever felt. The worst part was that I caused all that pain. When I was in jail I decided it was time to change. I was not going to put my parents through that much pain ever again.
I did have a brief moment during my first race that I thought I might not finish when I looked up to the top of the mountain and was out of breath. I had to focus on one step at a time and tell myself that I was capable and strong enough to finish. When I did cross the finish line I felt extremely proud. I worked hard and it paid off in the end.
I was friends with Yancy Culp before he started training full-time. He is a motivator! It's hard not to get excited after talking to him. Yancy has been my personal trainer for two and half years. My wife and I also motivate each other to stay at it.
I had back surgery in 1998 and this started the downward trajectory of my health and fitness. Once a HS basketball star, I quit taking care of my body and the scar tissue from surgery did the rest. At times I was confined to a wheelchair because of back spasms when I would walk. After finally reaching 220lbs, I decided to not let back pain hold me back any longer.
I love OCR, as it encompasses so many different types of fitness throughout a race: cardiovascular, strength, muscle endurance, along with agility, speed and skill. I do it to model the lifestyle that is possible to my clients and everyone. OCR is a great metaphor for life: we all experience obstacles that we must overcome.
OCR forces me to live a healthy lifestyle, or I simply wouldn't be able to compete and do the things I do. It has re-taught me to appreciate my body and value it for what it can do, rather than how it looks. I marvel at the progress I have made and feel proud of how far I have come, and recognize that I am indebted to the OCR community and all who have supported me along the way. I also feel inspired by so many of the people I've met and stories I have heard.
I’m a naturally competitive person and I’ve also always loved climbing and monkeying around on things. After doing a couple races, I found that the community is great and I have a natural ability with obstacles that I really enjoy. I love what I do and that’s important. This week on Faces at the Races we profile Jacob Kohler.