A Road Trip, Competition, Sleep Deprivation, and a Statement
A few days ago we returned from a Ninja Warrior competition in Indiana. The competition was a qualifier for an opportunity to compete in the national finals of the sport in California. Keeping up to date with the details of the competition a few weeks beforehand, we were counting on seeing about 40 competitors. When the run order was posted, we saw that we were running towards the beginning of a course that would see 70 Ninjas from all over.
There were two ways we could have looked at the event as the details of the competition unfolded. We could have lost faith in our chances to qualify based on the large amount of athletes attending, and how experienced they were, or we could use this as an opportunity to show exactly what we are made of in the face of an event this large. We chose option 2.
We began our adventure the morning before the competition and drove all day from the twin cities in Minnesota, Classic City Ninja Warrior in Indiana. We arrived late Friday night to case the place. We got familiar with the style of obstacles in the gym. We got our hands on the hanging obstacles and got acquainted with the distances between bars, the texture of the holds, etc... We headed back to our hotel late that night mentally prepared to put on a show the next day.
After a couple hours of sleep, some food, and a few deep breaths, we headed to the gym to take one last look at the obstacles before checking in. The course was broken into 3 waves of athletes, and we were the first ninjas in wave 2 to run. My training partner was up first in our group. The previous time to beat was about 3 and a half minutes. We knew what was about to happen before he ran, and as the crowd saw the first 5 seconds of his run, we realized that nobody else was prepared for what was going to happen.
The course began with a few balance obstacles that the previous ninjas took carefully and deliberately. Kyle turned these into a full-blown sprint. The next few were grip intensive and mixed with some larger, more dynamic movements. These also became a sprint. We watched as the mood of the audience completely changed. They knew our goal was not to pass the course, our goal was to blow this away and lock down a spot on the podium. Kyle finished about 60 seconds faster than the athlete who held the temporary first place position. I was next.
About 30 seconds before my run I became very calm. I try to tap into each morning that I don't want to train, but do so anyway. I try to harness that sick feeling during a climbing or ninja workout circuit and understand that I have suffered for this. I earned this, and I'll be damned if I don't channel that concept into a merciless, aggressive attempt at a mindblowing run. They counted me down and my senses lit up. The way we ran that course trickled into the style of every athlete who went after we did. I finished 19 seconds faster than my training partner, and the competition changed.
We had two remaining athletes in our group. One of them is a coach of ours with little competitive experience. He had the strength to finish the course, but made an error that cost him a qualifying position. This is common in newer competitors, unfortunate, but is also something that fades away, and we are positive that it will.
The female competitor was the last of our group to run. She is the owner of our gym, is a tenacious athlete, and has monster endurance. She moved faster through the first half of the course than the other women, and a giant portion of the men. She made it further than all but 3 of the previous women who ran, and lost to a well-known monster of the sport by 1 second. This secured her a spot as a qualifier for the finals.
3 out of the 4 of us qualified for the national finals in a few weeks in California for the 2016/2017 season. The experience washed away any doubt in our abilities. This is one of the first times that we saw measurable evidence of how hard we train as a group.
The competition ended and we got into our cars to immediately began our 10-hour drive home. We did everything we could to stay awake on the drive, and arrived home the next morning sometime after most people finish breakfast. By that evening, we were sleep deprived to the point of mild hallucinations. The next day began a new week of training. The workouts we created are now more intense than ever, as we saw the value of hard work. We will keep everyone updated on how the finals go. The athlete who wins the next competition earns a 10k dollar prize. We are training to win.