Atlanta: Post-run thoughts

Course from warmup zone sm

I took this from the warm up area, where ninjas are called about 10-15 minutes before their run. This is when it gets real.

Wow, what a ride this has been!

First, I need to point out that over 110 people ran the course in Atlanta, but not even half of those folks end up with any airtime. Each new 2-hour episode only has time to show 30-40 runners, leaving many deserving ninjas who will never get to see their run or share it with others. I wish there was a way for those runs to be shown or maybe released online, and getting those folks some recognition. I would not be in this without them as friends and fellow-competitors.

I really wanted another shot at that course for Finals night. After going through it the first time (nearly completely) I felt like I could’ve gone a lot faster on the second night, and with a lot more confidence. Here it is by obstacle:

The new steps were definitely harder than prior versions. A number of people went swimming there. I never considered trying to 1-step them. But I did feel confident I could make the jumps and move between them by just focusing and not rushing. My dismount needs some work.

I knew the big dipper was doable, but I had gone out on a pipe-slider obstacle in season 5, so that was somewhere in my mind. Still, I figured if I allowed my legs and body to trail behind me as much as possible during my descent, that would help me generate more momentum through the curve to launch to the net/platform. The mixed grip was the popular advice on this obstacle, as the straight grip might allow the bar to roll out from under the fingers more easily. The grip felt a little unnatural but I’m glad I did it.

I think the spinning cubes had me concerned the most. On an obstacle like that, you don’t have any idea how it is going to respond until you actually step on it, so you don’t know how much weight or pressure you can get away with using. Also, last season I fell on a balance obstacle with questionable footing. When I was warming up before my run, I decided my best approach here was to have my momentum moving forward as fast as possible, like trying to run across water. My bailout plan was to dive for the platform if anything went wrong. The cubes had a lot more mass to them than I expected, which added to their stability for my small size. I was across before I knew it.

Bootie Spin Cycle Atlanta 2016

Bootie Cothran. Photo posted by @nbcninjawarrior

The spin cycle. I had seen these last season in another region. They looked like they’d be pretty fun, and they were! I had an idea for a more aggressive approach but was going to save that for the finals and play it more conservative in qualifying. I felt comfortable that once I got up there I could work my way through it.

The pipes. Obstacle number 5 of 6. Twenty feet away from the warped wall. My “underneath” approach on the 2nd pipe was intentional, saving my grip and arm strength by pulling the pipe to me while also advancing to the end of it, then using the swing to get to the 3rd pipe, ready to transfer to it. My first attempt would’ve been great, because if I had held that position I would’ve transferred facing forward, and able to easily transfer to the last pipe. But my second attempt put my hand on the 3rd pipe so that the transfer put me backwards. Once there, I could not figure out how to turn myself back around without losing my grip. I’d like to do that one over. I believe I would’ve gotten up the new wall.

Group selfie in stands

Some of the friends and family who were there to cheer me on.

Although I didn’t hit the buzzer or make it to the finals, I had SUCH a great experience, all-around. It’s always a great time catching up with ninja friends, making new ones and just experiencing the energetic atmosphere that is there. This year, with the location being so close to home, I had a great crowd of family and friends in the stands cheering me on. Many of them were children and youth who were already big fans of the show, but for them to get to be there and see it all up close and in person was like going to the moon. After my run I got to hang out in the stands with them, have some “ninja” talk, and watch some other runners come through the course. And later I pulled some of the top-name ninjas over for photos and autographs with the kids. I really enjoyed watching their excitement of it all and being able to be a part of it.

I’d like to thank everyone so much for your support! What a crazy adventure, huh? I’m trying to figure out whose life this is I’m living. Let’s keep at it. I’ve got to hit that buzzer!

American Ninja Warrior Premiers June 1st!

Bootie CothranFriends, here comes season 8 of American Ninja Warrior! On Wednesday, June 1st at 8/7c., the season premier will be the Los Angeles region, and then on June 8th, the Atlanta region, where I competed, will air. Don’t miss it!

The first two weeks the show airs on Wednesdays, then moves to Mondays.

To get you warmed up, here’s a quick promo video for the new season, and a link to some of my photos from Atlanta.

Follow these official American Ninja Warrior social media accounts:
facebook: NBC American Ninja Warrior
Twitter: @nbcninjawarrior
Instagram: @nbcninjawarrior

Photos: American Ninja Warrior 8 – Atlanta

Don’t Let Go


This song came out of my recent American Ninja Warrior adventure in Orlando. My favorite songs are the ones that end up writing themselves – they just sort of come out on their own, from somewhere inside, and this one was no different. I wasn’t trying to write a song at the time, I was just picking on my guitar one day in early summer and this groove started coming out, and then these lyrics started coming out, so I followed where it took me and this is what I ended up with.

It’s titled “Don’t Let Go”, and it offers a glimpse into what was going on in my mind as I was running the course, but it’s about more than just that. It’s about not letting go of our goals and dreams, being unafraid to fail, using those failures as motivation to overcome our obstacles, and about hanging onto whatever figurative “rope” you’re hanging onto in life for just a little longer.

100% of the proceeds of this song will go directly to support my ninja friend Kenneth Niemitalo and his wife, whose new baby girl is dealing with some expensive health issues, so please share this post, spend an easy dollar and let’s help a brother out!

This song is dedicated to the entire ninja community, and everyone out there who is reaching for their goal or hanging onto their rope. Don’t let go!

Peace!
Bootie


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Guitars, Bass, Vocals, Güira:  Bootie Cothran
Drums, Bongos:  Ryan Harper
Sound asst:  Will Dodson
Camera:  Peyton Mills, Richard Saad
Mt. Midoriyama Stage 4 Photo:  Jimmy Bogle
Additional video:  NBC

Better Yourself

Trees
Nature inspires me.  It is Life in action.  It is always striving, growing, and reaching, trying to do more.

There is a stand of mature white oaks and red oaks near my home, all growing tall and straight.  They grow like that because they are competing with each other for the sunlight, reaching to get through the shade of the other trees.  It is an obstacle they must overcome, or they won’t survive.  Some don’t.  But, interestingly, the very same acorn that produces that tall and straight tree, if it had taken root alone in an open field with no other trees around it, would not grow tall and straight.  It would grow shorter and rounder, spreading out to gather as much sun as it can.  It adapts to its environment and makes itself better.

When growing close together, the trees are in competition for the sunlight, and they must push and reach to get to the light.  Somehow they have that capacity to strive and try.  Somehow, they are able to change themselves, physically, to adapt to their obstacle.  However it happens, they are able to strive and make themselves better, and Nature, as a whole, is better off because of it.  It’s happening outside our doors and windows all the time, and we are a part of it, too.  All of Nature is striving and reaching right now, bettering itself.  Trees reaching for sunlight, vines reaching for a stronghold, animals pushing through adversity, grass creeping into the flower beds, callouses forming to protect against the struggle.  Life, facing constant obstacles and opportunities, grows, and betters itself through its struggles.  That’s pretty powerful, pretty creative, pretty miraculous.

What can I learn from that?  If Nature betters itself, and if I am a part of Nature, then it makes sense that I should strive to better myself, too.  I should reach for more than I think I can.  I should stretch just a little further than I did before.  I should strive to improve myself.  I should embrace the struggle of any obstacle, knowing that I grow better and stronger because of it.

Season 7 of American Ninja Warrior is coming up next summer, and I’ve just finished submitting my application.  I love what it represents:  Competition, relationships, fitness, the “bettering” of ourselves.   I could’ve given up, sat on the couch and resigned myself to being too old anymore, and no one would’ve blamed me.  Or I could try to do something more.  I could reach, strive, push, and better myself.
2014 Ropes_sm
Whatever your obstacle, do what Nature does.  The solution is to push, to strive, to reach and to try, to dig deep, to hang on just a little bit more, even though it’s a struggle, and know that you will grow stronger from that struggle.  Find something about yourself you can improve, and work toward it.  Grow, learn, teach yourself something new.  Better yourself!