AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR — “Daytona Beach Finals” — Pictured: Bootie Cothran — (Photo by: Myron Luzniak/NBC)
Thank you ALL for the support!! ANW9 Daytona is in the books, and if you missed it, you can watch all episodes online at NBC.com.
My first City Finals night was a LOT of fun, and here’s what it was like from my perspective on the course:
It’s a big confidence boost to be able to run the course the second night, having had my qualifying run the night before and knowing what to expect from the obstacles. I knew I could complete everything at least up to the Rolling Thunder, so I felt really good about attacking the course with confidence and speed. Honestly though, I was tired from the overnight shoot the night before, my arms were a bit sore, and Rolling Thunder was in my head. Even if I got through it, I was unsure if I’d have anything left for the salmon ladder. But instead of over-thinking it or focusing on those negatives, my plan was simply to trust my abilities and do the absolute very best I could. That’s all I could ask of myself. That’s all any of us can ask of ourselves in any situation, right? As long as I did that, I would happily accept any outcome.
So here it is by obstacle:
I got the signal to start and made it quickly through the Floating Steps but got caught up going in circles on the rope dismount, causing me to expend more time and energy than I had planned. I was calm and was never worried or panicked, knowing I would correct it, eventually. It was more of an annoyance to me than anything else. After what seemed like 8 or 10 swings, I finally dismounted. I recall slamming my hand down in frustration as I climbed up the platform, a little angry at myself about that, but I knew I shouldn’t dwell on it.
“It’s in the past, dude. It’s out of your hands. The most productive thing you can do is let it go and look ahead.”
So I did. Despite that hiccup, I was feeling extremely confident and was in a great place, mentally. I was running aggressive, and it felt amazing!
I got to the top of the Rolling Pin and didn’t hesitate. I grabbed on, unafraid, pushed off the platform, and held on for the ride. Nearly everyone who had completed this obstacle on both nights did so by landing on their backs at the end of it, and I had too, during qualifying the night before. But as I approached the end, I managed to let go at the right time and landed squarely on my feet, and then I paused briefly to look back at the obstacle with a little bit of an attitude.
I quickly eyed up the Wingnuts and jumped right into the first one. I attacked it with confidence, taking maybe 2 swings to move between each one, and then casually dismounted like I was taking a stroll.
The crowd was into it, and I was running with a confidence and energy I’d never felt before in any competition. I stepped up to the Broken Bridge and there was no question in my mind that I was going to beat it.
“There’s no reason to stand here and eye it up, giving it time to get in your head. You did it last night and it was easy. It’s not going to get any easier by thinking about it. Just go.”
I immediately ran right across in full control, again landing squarely on my feet on the platform, soaking in the roar of the crowd. It was such an incredible feeling.
I took a short rest and jumped up to Rolling Thunder, moving as fast as I could. I didn’t feel like I got as good of a start like I had gotten in qualifying. It felt slower going. I recall it getting somewhat stuck on one of the drops and I had to shake it loose. My hands, fingers and arms were wearing out before I was halfway through. I took a couple of breaks to hang by one arm and shake out the other, but about 3/4 of the way through I was wearing out fast, and was still too far to dismount.
“Just keep going! Reach! Pull! Reach! Pull!
I remember my face scrunching up as I was pushing through the last bit of pain, reaching as if my life depended on it. The next thing I knew, I was falling, and it felt like slow-motion while I just let myself relax and plunge into the water below. It almost felt good. I was completely exhausted, and didn’t have the energy left to get out of the pool. But I was satisfied that I had given it everything I had, and was thrilled to have gotten the opportunity. So with that, despite having fallen short of making it into the National Finals, I left Daytona feeling successful and proud.
I love this stuff. I hope you do, too. Thanks for doing season 9 with me, and I hope we get to do it again next year! Stay tuned every Monday night at 8/7c on NBC to see the rest of my ninjas compete in the remaining City Finals and then the National Finals in Las Vegas.
Peace and Love,