More than Mud - Lauren Ho

More than Mud is an article and interview series dedicated to documenting the incredible characters and stories that we come across in the world of OCR and outdoor adventure and endurance racing events. They range from everyday heroes to extreme athletes but all have unique and engaging stories to tell.

What are the highlights of your race and event resume? 
09.14.14 Ultimate Hawaii Trail Run 10K 1st 
08.16.14 Hawaii Spartan Super 2nd
03.23.14 Hawaii Spartan Stadium Sprint 2nd
2.22.14 Atlas Race LA 5th
12.07.13 Malibu Spartan Sprint 3rd
11.24.13 XTERRA World Championship 7th
9.28.13 Atlas Race Medford, OR 1st
08.17.13 Hawaii Spartan Sprint 3rd

Have you always been fit?  
YES! I was super active as a kid - I started talking really late as a baby and started walking and running around very early. I had my older sister and brother as examples; they did cross country and track and soccer, respectively. My main sports were soccer and running, but I also did baseball then softball and a little volleyball, basketball and hula (I’m putting it in the sports category!).
I did track and cross country at the University of Washington for two years but was injured most of the time. I took two years off and played intramural sports, stayed pretty fit and enjoyed college life. Then I went to the University of Hawaii and played soccer for one season. I got into CrossFit once I was done with soccer and started doing some trail and road races until I found OCR!

What makes you different from other athletes? 
On a given race day, I may not be the fastest runner or the strongest athlete, my endurance might not exceed everyone else’s and I may not have the highest pain tolerance but I can adapt and I’m not afraid to work on my weaknesses in training, and if a race course or competition plays to my strengths, I take full advantage of it!

Who are you outside of racing, and what are you passionate about? 
I am a faculty researcher at the University of Hawaii Center on Disability Studies, full-time.  I train with a group called “Out of the Box Fitness” (OBXF) based on Oahu. There’s 6 of us and we train three times per week as a group - twice in the gym and once on Saturdays under the sun. It turned into a collaborative group, where we bring programming and WOD ideas and equipment together to train as a group but to also support each person’s individual goals. We all have different fitness and athletic backgrounds – I have more of a distance running background, and together OBXF has backgrounds in MMA, football, basketball, soccer, track and field, wrestling, etc. We come together based on CrossFit but we each bring unique training styles to the table.
I also coach a women’s fitness class, probably best described as a bootcamp-style workout group. It’s called F.I.T. (Functional-Interval-Training) class and it’s three times per week. We have about 10 regulars, with an age range of 30-65. The women are doing so great! Some of them just ran 2 miles straight for the first time ever and a lot of the women are doing full push ups! We even integrated burpees a few months ago!

Do you practice specific obstacles before an OCR event? 
I’ll practice spear throw, bucket carries and sandbag running, and I’ll do lots of trail running and some running with shoes on in the ocean. I think CrossFit naturally prepares you for obstacles because of grip-strength training, jumping, strength-work, etc. I’d LOVE to do some obstacle-specific training, but Hawaii doesn’t really have a venue for that at this point. I’ll sometimes do some rock climbing and monkey bars, of course, but I’m not building 8’ walls in my backyard, as awesome as that would be!  

What is the favorite race experience you can remember? 
The two Atlas Races have been my favorites so far. The Atlas Race is an individual AND team race, so you’re not only vying for a spot on the podium as an individual; you’re also trying to get yourself across the finish line as fast as possible to help your team.

What has been your toughest race? 
My toughest race was my first ever OCR race. It was a Spartan Sprint and led the race out of the gate and everything was going really smoothly. I surprised myself by getting over the walls that were progressively getting taller and I was so stoked that the race was going so well. I put at least a 2 minute gap between me and the woman in second. With a few obstacles left in the race, I suddenly found myself off course with two guys. It took us about 5 minutes to get back on track and at that point, I didn’t know what place I was in, but I knew I was passed by at least 2 women.
I now know that going off course isn’t infrequent in OCR, but what made this my toughest race was feeling so optimistic and thinking everything was going perfectly...then finding yourself lost and completely pessimistic. When we got back on course, I was no longer there mentally...I gave up when I realized I wasn’t in first anymore. This race experience definitely taught me the lesson that you can’t give up in an OCR race. Anything can happen to any competitor at any time.  

What's next for you - what are your goals in 2015? 
I’d like to race more in 2015 – to keep improving and getting on the podium, of course! I want to hone in on my programming – to build on my strengths and work on my weaknesses and put my training to use in races!  

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