Another day, another challenge.
This weekend saw my father and I on anther cross-country road trip to yet another Battlefrog, but this time we had the pleasure of having my buddy Adam Castillo tag along so that he could take on his first ever OCR – and what a great one it would be! The trip would be a sixteen-hour drive split up over the course of roughly one and a half days (we were unable to leave on Wednesday thanks to the summer course I just started taking at the local college), so on Thursday evening we threw everything in my truck and started on our way. It’s safe to say the trip went by fairly quick for Adam, who slept for roughly 19 out of the first 24 hours of our voyage, but by the time we had passed through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and into Kentucky, I, on the other hand, was getting antsy, ready to go. Ready to move.
We pulled up to the course on Friday around 6:00pm, where we took some time to survey the different obstacles and figure out a bit about how the course would go down. The first thing I noticed was how shockingly close to civilization this course was located, with parts of the course actually running along paved roads and even circling some buildings and nearing some golf courses – for an OCR, this was quite remarkable, since they are typically found in the middle of nowhere. It was an interesting choice, that’s for sure, but it was a nice change of scenery. We saw race director Chris “the Beard” Accord while we were there surveying the course, and he described it as “flat with one big hill.” I come from a place located below sea level, so to me, “flat” implies little-to-no elevation change; the next day I would come to learn that my oh-so-Texan, very literal interpretation of the word “flat” was not the version of “flat” he was insinuating. But, you know, that just added to the fun. After getting some dinner, we headed back to the hotel to relax for the night.
Fast-forward a bit. We pull into the race site at 6:10am, just a bit over an hour before race time. The original plan was that, after the Elite heat, I would run a 3rd lap with Adam and then, if I was feeling up to it, would run a 4th lap with my Uncle Manuel, who was coming in town from Illinois for his second ever OCR (his first being the BF in Chicago two weeks ago), but after a switch-up during registration, Adam actually found himself registered in the Elite heat along with me, so that just added to the fun – he would be running with us for the first two laps.
Warming up, I felt a bit off. My legs felt good, but something in my stomach just didn’t feel great – a bit queasy, which made me feel a bit nauseous. Nevertheless, I attributed it to nerves and tried to push it to the back of my mind; today, I was going for the gold.
The race took off with a quick bottleneck, but for once I managed to get out towards the front so as to not get caught in the onslaught of people barreling into the ditch of mud we were met with just a few strides into the course. We turned onto a long, nearly half-mile straightaway and I pulled my pace back, letting some people pass me with confidence that I would be able to catch them later. We went under a wall, through another one, and then over one last one, then made out way up a hill, where a pretty easy 4’ wall sat waiting for us. As we turned into the woods, I was in roughly sixth of seventh place. Feeling good, but my pacing felt off.
We ran through some marshy, muddy creeks for about a quarter mile and emerged into a campsite, where we were met by classic obstacles like the Ramp Wall and, of course, more running. After winding through the woods for a while and passing through the Spider Webs, we crossed a road and were met by our first semi-difficult obstacle, the monkey bars. Thankfully, my arms were feeling good, so while the dew on the bars slowed me down a tad, it didn’t affect me too much; I crossed the obstacle and landed on the grassy clearing, darting back into the woods to take on some more creek-running (“Into the Trenches,” as they are called on the race directory). I was in 4th place...and was beginning to realize that the course wasn’t as flat as I had hoped.
But boy-oh-boy was I in for a surprise. Remember that “one hill” that the Beard had told me about the previous day? Yeah, well we got to that, and I thought about crying a bit. Okay, so that’s not necessarily true, but it was definitely a quad-killer, and by the time I was halfway up, my calves weren’t very happy with me either. Mount Battlefrog was definitely a game changer. First and second place started gaining a whole lot of distance, and I realized that maybe more competition had stood with me at the starting line than I had initially assumed. Plus, I was feeling pretty gassed and, according to my watch, we were only 2.27 miles in. Sighing to myself, I pressed my hands into my quads and kept pressing upwards. I was back in 6th place.
The downhill was definitely easier than the uphill, but not by much. It was steep enough that we couldn’t really run down the first half of it, instead having to awkwardly trot down it and sometimes even slide down parts (the sliding happened more so on the second lap). Nevertheless, I managed to finally complete the hill and enter onto some actual flat-ground running for about a half mile: my home territory.
I decided to kick it into gear. After that hill, my legs were surprisingly feeling good, so I opened up my stride and pounded across the ground, hopping logs and dodging branches as I made my way past two racers ahead of me, using the temporary flat terrain to my advantage. We passed through the Cargo Low Crawl and the Normandy Jacks, where my small frame allowed me to gain even more distance. Next came the jerry can carry, which was a surprisingly short course that didn’t really slow any of us down too much. As I rounded the corner, I saw that Adam had kept a pretty good pace with me, only about thirty or so strides behind. I placed the cans down and took back off into the course, which reverted back to its rolling hills.
Eventually we poured out into the campground area for a little while, where we crossed the Cargo Bridge, hopped the Inverted Wall, scaled the Delta Cargo, and climbed 60 Degrees before heading right back into the woods, where we were immediately met by the Confidence Climb. I had fallen back into 5th place, and my stomach was really beginning to not feel good. I was beginning to realize that maybe it hadn’t been nervousness that had been causing it to feel funny; nevertheless, I kept going.
Next came the wreck bag carry, which was a fun little course that, while not too long, still provided us with a nice, big hill to climb. I tossed my bag back into the stack and crossed the street once again, then followed the course down a set of stone staircases which led to a lake, which we ran along the edge of for about a tenth of a mile. Then we went back into the woods for some more running, and after completing the Wedge Wall, an 8’ Wall, and some awkward-to-run-in, swampy-water-that-might-have-been-mud, we opened up into a clearing: the Platinum Rig.
I saw that only first place had crossed the rig thus far – the others had apparently attempted and failed, and were waiting off to the side. Using time to my advantage, I wasted no time hopping on the rig and darting across it, going from ring-to-ring-to-horizontal-bar-to-monkey-bar-to-monkey-bar-to—
Suddenly my feet were touching hay, my hands falling to my side. I had fallen. Looking down at my hands, I realized that the rig bars had been slicker than I had originally thought, still covered in dew; trying to rush across, I hadn’t taken the time to get a proper grip. Heading back to the beginning, I dried my hands off and went for it again, and though I succeeded on making it across during my second go, by then 2nd and 3rd had already passed and started their second lap. I took off after them.
This time through, the second lap didn’t go by any quicker than the first. I’ll spare you all the details (because I don’t want to bore you to death), but to make a long story short, I really started feeling cruddy. I was in constant battle for 4th place, but my running just wasn’t working with me – every time I tried to speed up, my body would tell me “No, David, slow back down” and would threaten to make me throw up if I did not do so. I began to quote my typical Bible verses in my head – Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:31, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – and while that helped motivate me a bit, my body just didn’t want to work with me. I’d gain ground on the upper body obstacles but lose it on the running, a total role reversal of the type of racer I had been back in my high school days.
Lucky for me, three of the last four obstacles were upper-body centric, so it gave me some time to make up some ground. As I pulled up to the Platinum Rig, I saw 4th place ringing the bell and passing on to the Tip of the Spear; he saw me approach as he ran.
It was now or never. I hopped on the rig and crossed it as quick as I could, ringing the bell and using what energy I had to bring me as quickly as possible to the Tip of the Spear. Thankfully, the racer in front of me had just fallen off of it, so I hopped in his place and crossed it, claiming 4th place as my own. I was confident – no backing down. Finally beginning to feel the sun’s heat pressing down on me, I allowed myself a moment to breathe, but then crossed the final parts of the obstacle, rang the bell, and headed off to the HOOYAH. After that, I scale the Rope Wall and sprinted to the finish line, accepting my medal and going to meet up with my dad.
So yeah, I didn’t podium today – and though I had shown up to the race hoping to take home the win, I’m actually totally fine with that. Each race provides me with a lesson, and my greatest takeaway from this race is that I need to train…a lot. Hills, running, you name it. I need to build up my speed and step up my game. I’m not sure what was up with my stomach today – still need to figure that out – but overall, it was a good day. Adam finished a little bit later – he had gotten caught up at the Platinum Rig for quite a while, which becomes pretty taxing on the arms over time (memories of the Atlanta Battlefrog last year still give me nightmares), but he kept his Elite band and crossed the finish line with a smile on his face; as he finished, he began to tell me how he wanted to train and train and train so that we can have a rematch come another race in a few months.
Sadly, I didn’t join my uncle for his lap on the course (I was still feeling kinda cruddy), but that didn’t slow him down. He went out there and absolutely killed the course, completing nearly all of the Elite obstacles and managing to cross the finish line with a pretty dang stellar time. Like Adam, he crossed the finish line talking about how excited he was to take on his next course.
So, as is usual, Battlefrog provided us with another great race course, and it was a beautiful – albeit hot – day for a race. My performance might not have met the standard I like to set for myself, but that won’t stop me. It was good to get out there and race with some friends, and I, like Adam and Uncle Manuel, can’t wait for my next one. Oh, and big congratulations to Ian Hosek for claiming the top spot on the podium today; you killed it!
So, once again, I want to thank Battlefrog for providing us with yet another awesome race. Until next time, my friend; until next time.
As for now, it’s time to train.