I’m going to a what – again, and why?”
Nerves kick in as I get up at 4am and prepare to head out. I’m about to be a part of the BattleFrog 15K “elite” wave. I feel physically rested and mentally assured that I can handle any challenge I encounter. I actually leave on time.. check. The sign of a good day ahead as I’m generally 15 minutes behind schedule every race. I get there in time to register for both the race and volunteer participation. I’m impressed with the ease and efficiency at check-in. I get done and have about an hour to kill, when out of the corner of my eye, I see an infamous face – Hobie Call?! So at 40+, I get all “fanboy” and am all, ‘thanks to you.. and blah, blah.. gotta go!’ Thankfully, this isn’t the end of our exchanges that day. But it’s been pretty cool to experience the meet and greet aspect of these events as photos on social media become fellow racers right before me. It’s a great way to catch up with the OCR family and meet the people on the podiums. This particular event brought out a talented group of great athletes, elite and open.
After socializing, it was time to head towards what I imagined would be a challenging event. Warming up, the excited anticipation returned full force. I sang along to the National Anthem and listened to the final race info, to include penalty info (8 count body-builders). And we were off amid smoke, gunfire and the whir of a helicopter overhead. I had been given an orange wristband to signify I was a 15K runner, but the 5K and 15K elites were sent out together, creating a little confusion. The split seemed to occur quickly enough, but a delay might have worked better.
We all surged out of the gate, but spread out over the next half mile as there were few obstacles at this point. I sought to settle into a good race pace. I had raced this terrain before for other events and figured some familiarity would help. It did not. I fell in with a pack who moved ahead steadily and quietly. Then I saw a runner up ahead, perched on a wall taking pictures, uh.. As I got closer, Hobie is grinning and encouraging all those within earshot.
A group of racers up front became misdirected near the Delta Ladders, but thankfully Hobie was in front of me to redirect the pack. My adrenaline spiked a bit as my positioning improved, although through mishap. This ended up being short-lived as speedy runners flew by undaunted, while the excellent use of terrain slowed me down. I also started collecting a good amount of sand in my shoes and stopped for a dump. The sound of quick footfalls behind me made me anxious to continue when I turn and see Hobie again. I ran with him a bit to the Jerry-can Carry when he says, ‘hey lemme get your picture for this one!’ and bounds off. He grabs the cans, easily covers some ground before snapping a photo. His capacity to multi-task expands, as I get some good natured ribbing after he zooms through the obstacle.
“Now I’m gonna wait until you drop the cans and get another picture!” he yells back to me. The competitor inside me says, ‘then keep waiting’. He does and I do too. Temporarily drop the cans that is, while he clicks, laughs and is gone once more.
The BattleFrog not even halfway done, would now become a war of attrition. My pre-race training sustained me well.. through the first five miles. The obstacles were good, yet sparse. The hilly terrain and intense heat were the most difficult obstacles for me to overcome. I had also assumed the course would provide some relief and recovery needed to finish strong, but I was wrong.
I forged ahead over high walls, carrying a log and through the traverse rope challenge (fail)! “The Hill” was a later point of conversation for those of us who experienced the intense incline. At mile 8, feeling exhausted I encountered even more obstacles such as the angled wall in the water that provided some cramps that forced me to rest a bit at the top. Sliding down, I ran ahead to the paintball shooting challenge which wouldn’t have been that difficult if I wasn’t feeling totally gassed by then. I hit the Tsunami Wall, dove for the short rope and fell.
Dejected, I pound the ground and take my penalty. I drug myself up the ladder and thankfully slid into the water on the other side. The jack crawl awaited me at the glorious end and I was so happy for the barbless wire.
Shouts of encouragement from the side helped me power through and trudge to the finish. It was such an honor and challenge to participate with this group of folks and I had then earned my SEAL of approval as a BattleFrog combatant.