Sunday, June 9, 2013

The O Course Part II

Part I Here!

Yesterday I ran and did The O Course.  Seems odd to have two verbs there but it is what is necessary actually. The whole story goes like this.

I left my house at the ungodly hour of 6am – the same time I get up to go to work the rest of the week – and made my way down to Polson Pier in Toronto.  It was a little tricky to find the actual place, but thanks to a couple of experienced people it was found and the wait from about 8am to the 9am start time commenced.  After a bit of their own detour Tara and Kamita showed up and we grouped up together to do the “warm up” part of the course.


The DVP at 7:25am.  I had to take a picture because I have never seen it this empty before.

This is why I say “did” the O Course.  The '”warm up” was nearly and hour and a half long from start to finish, some of that time was the opening instructions and warnings like “If you think you are going to pass out, let one of the instructors know”.


The warm up was quite challenging, but I felt more from a mental aspect.  Can you push yourself to do more than you thought you could, there were only a very few times I was actually out of breath, but lots of times where my muscles were screaming at me!  You don’t realise just how heavy your arms are until you have to hold them out at the side of your body for like 15 minutes, and do flutters and waves and circles and then hold them again.  I think the worst part was the ‘only for 10 more seconds’ bit. See during this phase everyone HAD to have their arms up for the whole time and we’d get to 10, 9, 8… and someone would drop their arms and we’ve get a reminded to hold them up for the whole 10 seconds and start over.  This happened like 10-15 times at least.  Just hold your flippin’ arms up!  10 seconds is way shorter than the 10 minutes those random people made us do!

Then there was sprints down the indoor soccer field, which I later figured out was 60 metres and my fastest time down was 8.62 seconds.  Then it was crab walking the whole length, and then like belly crawling.  Once we had done all that we went and got our rifles.  These were the 2.5 foot 2x2’s (or close to that at least).  We then proceeded to do a bunch of exercises with these, mostly holding them over our heads or out from our chest.  It is here again that the whole 10 seconds situation happened again.  I swear, relax for a second or two BEFORE the 10 count begins, jeez! Again 10 seconds was turned into at least 10 minutes thanks to a bunch of people!

After all this it was on to the race/obstacle course portion.  We took our ‘rifles’ and headed out on to what I am told was a 5k run, but it was not just a straight run.  About 5 minutes in it was sit ups IN lake Ontario! 


Good God was the water ever cold! Then a little loop away from the water, and then back in the water for 50 squats in waist deep water and then I’d say about a 300 metre slosh in water waist deep or more along the shore and then 25 push ups in the water.  576793_582468048452861_1651625558_n

Thoroughly soaked and freezing to the point of numbness from the waist down is was a nice jaunt along a bike path for quite a while before returning to the waters edge to do ‘box jumps’ onto some big rocks, and then return into the water for more push ups and squat jumps before heading right back to where we started.

Here I, and a couple of people I was following, went a bit of the wrong way extending our run by about 5 minutes or so.  Which kind of sucks because in the end I think it cost me about 20 places!  We doubled back and got on the right path and then it was time for the real obstacles!  We stowed our rifles and headed around the big inflatable indoor soccer building.  Frist thing was hauling tires up out of the water to toss back into the lake, three times, then over a big wall, much higher than those at run for your lives, I’d say it was about chest/shoulder high.



Then hopping over some beams and down into a pit full of putrid water and belly crawling up the mud/sand on the other side.  More beams to hop over and then the Commando Bars. 



This is the only thing I was unable to do.  In fact I only witnessed one person capable of it.  I tried it three times and did make it six bars along I think.  My shoulder just does not allow me to get this done at this point.  Maybe if they where horizontal all the way across, but going upward to start was not possible for me.  So 25 burpees and then on to a few push ups, and 15 overhead sledge hammer swings,  not around to the side and up, but straight up which was a bit harder.


Rope climb was next and looking at it, hands covered in sand, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it.  I wiped my hands on my equally sandy shorts and went.  It took me a second to figure out how to grip the rope with my legs on the way up but once I had that, it was simply a matter of will.  I was getting up that rope! and by the time I reached the top of the 15 feet(?) or so I was grunting with each pull, but I made it.  Of course then I had to come back down, can you say rope burn‽



It looks worse than that now

On to the carrying things portion!  As I come around the building to the beach volleyball courts one of the instructors says ‘Hey Under Armour’, because of my shirt, ‘Go help her out then come back to me!’ So I helped a girl carry an ammo case down the width of three courts and back.  Arriving back I was told to grab a tire, hold it over my head and go down and back, then it was on to two five gallon pails full of sand.  My guess is that they weighed about 60 – 70 pounds each (since if they were full of water they would be about 50).


The worst part of the entire day was next.  A backpack full of sand? lead? dark matter?  I’m not sure but it felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. So you ran down the width of three courts, and then had to belly crawl back.  It was the hardest crawl of my life!  Literally it took everything I had on each ‘step’ of the crawl.  I was a bit muddy before this part, now I was covered, neck to toes in sand.  In my shoes, in my shirt, in my shorts!


Last moving things bit, a deck post base on a chain.  After the backpack this was a walk in the park.  You know that scene in Spaceballs (The Movie) where Barf and Lonestar are carrying Her Royal Highnesses Matched Luggage and then they dump out all the stuff, but still carry the pieces and go “This is way easier, I could carry two or three of these”?  Yeah that was me, I even said that to a guy I passed.


Finally the end was near, it was high stepping into a bunch of tires football training montage style, and then a burpee, hopping over a beam and another burpee, about 15 times and then done!  My problem here was calf cramps!  I did my first burpee and then went to hop over the beam and mid hop both calves seized up!  I barely made it over the beam! It hurt so bad!  But Each hop the muscle cramps were less and less.


1:06 was my finish time, good enough for 36/180+ even with my detour!  It was great and at the time, I felt great too, except for the sand everywhere.

I met up with Kamita who was forced to quit because of the mindblowingly cold lake water.  We chatted and then I wanted to go get “showered”.  It was only about 15ÂșC and the water was just cold tap water to wash with with not much pressure at all. So it was more of a rinse than anything else.  I got cleaned up enough, changed my shirt to the other under armour one I had brought, but stayed in my shorts and muddy shoes.  I then watched for Tara to finish.  I got a bunch of pictures of her as she neared the finish and then we posed for some pics after.



It really was a great morning, some people have gone multiple times, it runs almost every Saturday!  The guy that ‘usually’ wins has won in like 9 *consecutive* attempts!!  Unreal!

Check out The O Course here!  Or on Facebook!


Hopefully pictures/video during my actual race are up soon.  Also to note is that right at the end of the run I felt like I had tweaked my knee a bit.  Once the adrenaline had worn off I was sure of it.  It hurts pretty bad now, to the point of limping and me wondering if I should get it checked out.  I fear ligament damage, but assume I would be in more pain if it was hurt that bad.

The rest of my day in Toronto deserves chronicling as well, but that’s for another post.


  1. Oh-mg! Chris, you have great story-telling skills. The pictures are awesome to go with the descriptions. You are FAR tougher than I am.

    :-) Marion