Sherri Hildreth, a member of our gym since 2014, has been on a tear this year competing in Obstacle Courses all around North America! She was kind enough to take a few moments to share her fitness story and her adventures on the trails and in the mud.
SHF: Sherri, congrats on completing two Tough Mudders recently, in Wisconsin and North Carolina! How many obstacle course races have you done this year? Are there any more to go?
Sherri: Thanks so much! It’s been a really fun year. I started 9 Tough Mudders this season and finished 8. My goal was to finish 10, but the hills of Tennessee didn’t get along with my knee. Fortunately I was able to get it adjusted and properly braced to finish the season at Carolinas. The season is over for 2016, but I’m already planning for and gearing up for taking on more challenges in 2017.
SHF: When did you attempt your first course, and what inspired you to give it a try? Were you already fit when you started?
Sherri: My unofficial first course was a birthday present in June 2014. It was the Treetop Adventure Park in Nashville. I loved it!!! My first OCR (Warrior Dash) was that October, I believe. I wasn’t fit when I started. I was midway through losing 100-ish lbs, and just starting to learn how to work out. I made Warrior Dash a goal that year because I couldn’t finish my birthday obstacle course, even my fingernails hurt for days after!!!
SHF: Wow, congrats on the amazing progress you’ve made! What is the toughest obstacle you’ve faced, and which was the most fun?
Sherri: On course, my toughest obstacle is always Funky Monkey. Inverted Monkey bars, to a trapeze, to a single bar. I have yet to make it across that obstacle dry, I always fall into the water. Blockness Monster is the most fun to me, using body weight and maneuvering yourself to help others over the moving blocks, in chest deep water. It’s a great team building obstacle, and always fun.
SHF: I know that many of these courses can be grueling and intense. What motivates you to keep competing in these types of events?
Sherri: Funky Monkey is a big motivator. One of these days, I’m getting across it. Also, the friends I’ve made along the way. All across the United States and Canada, I’ve found my tribe. People with their own stories, various fitness levels, personal hopes and fears, that share the same mental grit. Everyone on that course is part of a team, and that team is just as important as our own personal goals. It’s an amazing community to be a part of.
SHF: That’s awesome the competitors are so supportive of one another! How do you prepare/train for the courses?
Sherri: My biggest challenge in preparation is always cardio. I love weight lifting, I struggle with cardio. Upper body strength is a huge necessity, but there’s an entire community ready to help boost you over a wall. The ability to walk/run 10+ miles, especially on multiple lap weekends, requires regular cardio, which I’d pretty much do anything to avoid. In order to combat that disdain, I try to take group classes and mix things up on the cardio equipment so I don’t get bored and quit.
SHF: I’m sure that road trips and contest prep can lead to some interesting adventures! Did you ever run into unexpected challenges or have any PG rated stories you can share from one of the trips?
Sherri: There are so many! I think my favorite is the random side trips that happen. One trip I went to 6 different Walmarts looking for the Ozark Trail mugs that everyone was crazy about for my teammates. We went at least an hour out of our way to check out the Jelly Belly factory on another trip. I think we’ve made 4 side trips through Chicago for pizza. We’ve logged thousands of miles this summer, thankfully with no mishaps.
SHF: Sounds like good times! I’ve been told it’s a crime to drive through Chicago without stopping for pizza! If someone reading this wants to get involved in obstacle course races, what’s the best way for them to do that? Is there any advice you’d give them?
Sherri: If you want to get involved, sign up! Simple as that. Find someone to encourage you, and someone willing to do it with you. Do NOT tell yourself anything you wouldn’t say to your best friend. It’s hard, it’s scary, and more fun than you can imagine. You CAN do it. Call or text me, I’m not a trainer, but I’m a good person to talk you through your fears, I won’t let you give up!!!
SHF: Great advice! Which course is up next for you?
Sherri: My first next year is Tough Mudder New Orleans. It’s a new venue and I can’t wait to see what they do there. I’m slightly concerned about the swamp creatures, but I’ll handle it when I get there! Then there will be a couple of 8 hour overnight Tough Mudders amongst the regular ones I’ll run monthly in preparation for World’s Toughest Mudder next November. I’m also hoping to get into Spartan races, ideally doing a trifecta.
SHF: Thanks for taking the time for the interview, Sherri. It’s wonderful having you as a member of the gym, and we love your dedication to fitness and your passion for these Tough Mudder events! I’m sure you’ve inspired others to kick their training up a notch and pursue some new adventures of their own. Best of luck for next year’s challenges and especially Funky Monkey!
Sherri: Thank you so much for this opportunity! I truly love SHF, and am proud to be a member. I look forward to seeing everyone soon!