Here at Voltage Sport we love to read about and follow stories which inspire us. We like nothing more than taking inspiration and motivation from others! We find social media is a great place to look when you need a little bit of a lift in spirits, for a while now one of our favourite sources of inspiration has come from an incredible lady that we follow on Instagram and Twitter. We love her posts and story as they are full of energy, positive vibes and fun! Over the last few months we have got to know and become friends with "the mudcrusher" we think her story should be known to everyone so asked if she would feature on Voltage Sport, thankfully she said yes! We are incredibly grateful she gave up time in her busy scheduel to answer some questions and share her journey with us and our readers. We hope she will inspire you as much as she does us!
This amazing lady is currently undertaking a challenge of completing 52 OCR's (obstacle course races) in 12 months culminating in the Burning Man Ultra Marathon in the Nevada Desert in September, this is her story!
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Haruko. I live in Texas. I'm a full time mom.
Tell us about your life in fitness and sport, have you had a passion from a young age or have you grown into it?
I definately grew into it. I had two difficult pregnancies (75 pound rapid weight gain) that were quite hard on my joints. I was unable to carry my baby from my house to my car because of the pain. I was tired of feeling helpless and decided to "try" a Dirty Girl Mud Run. I thought it was going to be scary. I was very worried about the event because I felt so out of shape. When I arrived, I saw that it was the opposite. It was not scary, it was exhilarating! I was able to do the obstacles. The ladies in my heat were very supportive and the crowd was amazing. It had great energy and inspired me to do another event. The mud races inspired me to do more cardio, lift weights to get stronger for the race etc... A year after that first mud run I entered a Spartan race just to see what it looked like on the inside. I didn't think I was in good enough shape to do the obstacles but as each one came, I surprised myself. The workouts were paying off! I tried every obstacle in that race. I left the Spartan race feeling accomplished and proud--and sore! It was the best feeling. I was hooked.
How did your challenge of 52 OCR/mud races in 12 months come about, what inspired you to take on such a big challenge?
I decided I needed a change. I was working through some difficult challenges and wanted to put my mind in a better place and I felt that my new found love of OCR was the perfect spot to put my energy. I wanted to take the fear out of taking on a big challenge. I wanted to run as myself; an average woman, not a beast or a fierce competitor, but someone with a different perspective on OCR. I wanted it to be about the fun and the incredible feeling of self esteem and joy that can come from taking on something that you once thought was so far out of your league, you were too scared to sign up.
How do you juggle the logistics of a race a week, how does it fit in with your busy everyday life?
It is a bit like playing Tetris. There is very little wiggle room. I just do my best not to stress and put one foot in front of the other. I usually have friends or family supporting me in every way imaginable. From helping me with my children (who are always with me) to running the races (in full costume) with me! I have been blessed with an amazing support system-I can't forget to mention my social media friends. What an incredible surprise that has been! I have received a great deal of advice and support there. When so many incredible athletes and friends tell you they believe in you, you rally. Many, many times I thought I was too tired to keep going. But somehow every time I thought I could not go on, I would hear from someone with an incredible message of faith. Their encouragement gave me the strength to navigate the logistics.
How do you prepare for your races, whats your training regime and top tips for getting race ready?
Ahhhh! Such a great question. I try to get an hour of cardio five days a week and lift at least three days a week. One of my closest friends is my trainer. I'm very lucky to have her to work out with because she also runs most of my races with me. She sees where I am weak and after a race, we work on that weakness. I try to eat well. I also constantly think about my costumes. I run in a different costume for every race, so that is also part of my race-rediness regime. When I do my cardio, I work on my social media and research my costumes. Not a minute is wasted in my day because when I am with my kiddos, they are my focus.
How do you recover from the races as they are very physically challenging?
Another great question! My first Spartan race felt like I had been in a car accident. That recovery program was a prescription Advil, cardio, stretching, Epsom salt baths and green juice. Although I'm rarely as sore these days as I was a year ago, I still pretty much stick to that recovery program. Skipping cardio in the days after a race is not an option for me.
You have your biggest challenge coming up, can you tell us about Burning Man and the challenges it brings?
Ah, yes. The Burning Man ultra marathon. I'm shaking my head as I type this, as I have since added the Spartan Beast to my schedule of races, to occur two weeks BEFORE the ultra marathon. As far as the Burning Man challenge goes, this is what we are doing: It is a small group (approximately 300 runners) who will meet at 5:30 AM at a designated spot in the Nevada desert, inside the Burning Man event September 2nd, 2015. We will run the perimeter of the event seven times (if I'm not mistaken). The elevation is 4,000ft and it is known for its highly alkaline dust. Considering I have asthma, I will be taking this very seriously. There are no water stations ( to my knowledge) so our nutrition, safety and hydration is entirely up to us. One of the core principles of the Burning Man community is self reliance, so looking after myself in this race is part of the whole Burning Man experience. My strategy for the race is to pace myself. I plan to listen to my music and my body-- run one song and walk one song if necessary. I'm more of an obstacle course racer than a distance runner, so I will adapt as best I can.
What are your plans for the future, any events or big goals that you want to take on?
Recently, a friend approached me about taking on World's Toughest Mudder this October. Because it is an incredible 24 hour challenge, I'm giving it some thought. It is appealing to me because it represents everything I've come to love about this year and this challenge. My mantra has always been "complete, not compete". It's personal. When I am racing, I am just out there doing my best, which is all I have to offer.
What would your message to our readers be, any words of wisdom?
Haha! Hmmmm...I started this challenge to share the wonderful feeling of an OCR experience. I was an average girl with no special skills when I started. I wasn't a runner or an athlete, but I knew that I could take each race and obstacle at my pace. I also knew I could have fun. That took a lot of the fear away. I would like to pass on more than anything, that OCR is for everyone, as are personal challenges. I would like to share the fun of running and encourage every person with even the tiniest desire to stretch themselves, to try it. If people see this goofy gal out there doing her best and having fun, and that gives them the courage to give it a try, then I'm quite happy with that. More than anything, I just want to pass along good vibes and share an attitude that you CAN do it, you just need to try.
I'm an official "ambassador" for Special Spartans. A race created by a non-profit organisation that partnered with Spartan to give special needs athletes a chance to experience this incredible self esteem-building opportunity. I would also like to encourage any racers who are running a Spartan race that has a Special Spartans heat, to volunteer to run a race with them (in their best super hero gear, of course). It will really put into perspective how valuable this type of achievement can be. OCR is not exclusive. It is about support, community and camaraderie. :)
There you have it, such an inspiration to us here at Voltage Sport. We just love Haruko's heart and passion for her goals, she deserves your support too so please follow her journey on social media, we promise you will be inspired every day by this incredible woman!
Follow the mudcrusher: