I was chugging along with my workout routine, not training for anything but just wanting to keep fit, when my good friend asked if I wanted to compete in an upcoming obstacle course race. Never one to back down from a challenge, I agreed. The race was about a month away, so I started upping the intensity of my workouts and running longer runs.
It would be my first obstacle course race so I had no idea what to expect. I went in blind. That’s probably a good thing. I’m not sure that words can accurately describe what this race was like. I’ve done all sorts of tough athletic endeavors, including college track workouts, college basketball conditioning, and a half marathon. Nothing stacks up to the challenge of this obstacle race.
Designed by former Marines, the BattleFrog is well known as the toughest obstacle race out there. Of course, I didn’t know this, but I definitely do now. I somehow managed to smile when I saw the camera man, but don’t let that face fool you. I was super tired and in pain for much of this race. Yet, I loved it. The thrill of a challenge? The course is an 8K and the website says to expect 22+ obstacles. The Cincinnati course had 40 obstacles! The obstacles vary from v-shaped monkey bars, to large walls you have to get over, to wading through muddy water before climbing through tunnels. Oh, and scaling giant hills like this. There were actually several hills with ropes we had to get up, and this was probably the smallest.
There were a few times during the race that I almost reached my breaking point. The first was this wall. It looks innocent enough. But this is where my friend and I got separated. It was towards the end of the race and I was tired. Beyond tired. Shaking tired. And I climbed up the front of the wall and froze. I looked down and all I could think was, “If I fall, I will break my neck and die.” I literally pictured leaving my children motherless in the middle of this race. My throat tightened and I felt myself starting to panic. I couldn’t make it over the top. I climbed back down and performed the penalty (10 8-point military-style burpees) for not completing an obstacle. The second time I almost reached my breaking point was when I accidentally took a wrong turn. I was running and came to a fork. One of the race volunteers directed me to go over a log and up a hill. I saw some participants going that way and others going down under the log. Something didn’t feel right, so I turned and asked the volunteer why some people were going down. She responded that you had to go up and over first. We were in the woods and so many parts of the race looked similar, so I didn’t noticed I’d already gone up and around. I got to the top of a very grueling, steep hill and saw an obstacle I’d already completed. I was already separated from my friend and trying to catch her and now I’d just repeated part of the race. I cried. I turned around, racing down the steep hill, crying. Other participants asked if I was all right (I love the comradery in these races) and I couldn’t do anything but keep going even though I wanted to stop.
The most difficult obstacle came after this. This obstacle tested my will. We had to carry a fifty (yes, 5-0!) pound sand bag on our backs a half mile up a steep trail and back down. This was the part of the race I thought I was going to reach my breaking point. During my climb up, I was stepping over a log and I lost control of the bag and it fell off my shoulders. There was no way I was going to be able to get it back up there. I tried a few times to lift it, but 50 pounds was more than I could get up and over my shoulders. Thankfully, a generous man stopped to help me.
At that point, I realized I was going to have to dig deeper to finish this race. And somehow, I did. Funny how that works. I had to give myself a serious mental pep talk because I was ready to be done. But when I got to the bottom of that hill with the 50 pound bag, I knew there was no way I was stopping. I was going to finish this race.
This slide came shortly after the sand bags and it was a welcome break from so much climbing up.
The slide had two sides, and most people were avoiding one side because it had developed a huge bump. A few of us didn’t want to wait in the line that formed on the safer side, so we chanced getting catapulted so we could keep moving in the race. You can see the fear in my face as I’m trying to slow myself down before the bump. It didn’t work and I still have a huge bruise on my bottom from where I hit that bump. I wish they’d gotten an air born picture of me!
I ended up finishing the race in 2:52:07, which was 6th in my age group and the 26th woman overall. The sense of accomplishment I felt from just finishing was incredible. Even though during the second half of the race I thought in my head a million times, “WHY am I doing this? WHY?!” I want to do another one. I feel like I’ve found a perfect fit for me in my fitness adventures. I need competition and love challenging myself. Road races lack the fun factor for me, but obstacle course racing is totally different. I loved this BattleFrog race and can’t wait to do another!