Competing in this race was a last minute decision because I was supposed to be gone on a work trip the weekend of this event.
But lucky for me, the trip was cancelled and I signed up for this race 3 days prior to the event.
Unlucky for me, since I signed up so late it cost me $175 to get in…. And I was a bit out of shape because I spent the last 2 weeks drinking and visiting with friends, instead of training.
I wasn’t too worried though because I had just ran a Battlefrog in Miami 2 weeks prior (so the endurance was there) and figured that with 2 weeks off, my body would be more than ready to take a beating. I was well rested and that would be my advantage on the competition.
So I signed up for the event, googled the event location, searched for a hotel nearby, got my plane ticket, and was on my way.
I arrived in Orlando Thursday night and crashed out. The next morning I went to the Typhoon Lagoon waterpark to kill some time and drove out to the event location to check out the landscape (I always try to do this before a race).
That night I ate steak and sweet potato as always, then took a heavy dose of sleeping pills and racked out for the 0730 event.
The race was held on a ranch east of the city of Orlando. The terrain was flat and grassy with a lot of swampy sections that Battlefrog used to their advantage.
We all arrived in the dark around 0630, checked in, attached our bibs and bracelets, then proceeded to talk with each other and stand near the starting line.
For the race I wore UA running shorts with long socks (to protect skin on rope contact), my typical New Balance Minimus shoes, my buff, and my Suunto Gambit GPS watch so I could track my pace. I’m glad I wore the watch because it helped keep going when I wanted to slow down. If I slowed to an 8:00/mi pace, I was going too slow.
We all lined up and were given a quick brief on the rules and our pre-race motivational speech. Looking around I had Ryan Atkins and Junyong Pak to my left, with Ryan Woods on my right. This was going to be a tough race and I knew it. Half the elite men here had just come back from the Spartan Cruise and were at the top of their game.
The race started in a sprint and we all took a quick left turn to the first obstacle, the over/under/through walls. This didn’t slow anyone down and we continued to run in a tight pack through the woods until we reached the water crossing and the Jerry Can Carry. I was in the top 20 at this point.
I was happy that Battlefrog put the Jerry Can Carry at the beginning of the race because this really helped spread everyone out as guys struggled with the load. I felt fresh this time and sloshed my way out and around the swamp working my way up to 8th. When I finished the carry and took off running I could still see Atkins and Pak ahead of me, I knew this was going to be a better race for me.
I held my position as I worked over the 8-foot walls and completed the rope climb that hung over water (great idea). We were still in the swampy area as I ran through the trenches and over the 6-foot walls by myself, but I could hear footsteps closing in behind me (never look back).
I picked up my pace to hold off the guys behind me but soon after the Delta Cargo net we were running in a pack of 3.
When we approached the caving ladder (a horizontal rope ladder that you had to traverse without using your feet) I caught up to Ryan Woods who was having trouble with the obstacle. Once he learns the technique for completing obstacles, he will be unstoppable because he is a damn fast runner.
I passed Ryan on this obstacle and got back ahead of the 2 other guys on my tail, but they soon caught me again as we approached the stump hump (a series of stumps you have to hop across). This time they passed me for the last time but I was able to keep them in sight.
After a few more wall obstacles the course opened up and we approached the wide-open grass fields that were the ranch. In the ranch the course became a runners course and I was passed again by Ryan Woods and soon after by another guy who had been on my tail since the beginning. Ryan Woods disappeared from sight immediately.
From here on out I would be running the course by myself as I killed my body to maintain a 7:30/mi pace. I was sucking down the thick Florida air trying to breathe but my cardio just wasn’t there that day. I slowly lost sight of the guy in front of me as we completed the Wedge Donovan, inverted walls, and trip wire obstacles.
When I approached the orchard to the Wreck Bag Carry a volunteer notified me that I was in 11th place. I picked up the bag, slung it over the back of my neck, and took off running the 400m loop. I caught sight of the guy in front of me again at this point but my hustle here was not enough to gain any ground. I guess he saw me coming and picked up the pace.
When I finished the loop and dropped my wreck bag the guy behind me was just picking up his. I did some quick calculation and figured I had a 3-minute lead on him, but there was still about 3 miles left.
I took off as fast as my legs could take me and completed the 60 degrees and dirty name obstacles like I was running for my life. On dirty name I literally cleared the second log.
I ran up to and climbed up and down the Delta ladder as fast as I could (still haven’t figured out a way fast way to do this obstacle) and continued on working my legs to get my pace down to a 7:00/mi.
Next up was a new obstacle called O3, to complete it you had to climb a pole with rock grips then descend a rope at a 45-degree angle. I completed this without skipping a beat and continued running down the field keeping the flags to my right.
For the next half mile I went into a daze and focused on increasing my speed. I knew I couldn’t catch the guy in front of me at this point, but I didn’t want the guy behind me to catch up and I wanted to beat my time from the Miami course 2 weeks ago (a 1:23 finish). I went into such a daze that I actually missed the turn to the crawl section beneath the barbed wire fence. I realized this when I looked down and didn’t see any flags around me. I freaked out and turned around sprinting along the fence until I found the flags again.
I crawled under the fence and cursed myself for being so dumb. I just lost valuable seconds giving the guy behind me a chance to catch up.
Once I hit mile marker 9 I knew I was on the home stretch. Battlefrog always likes to finish strong and this course finished with 4 back-to-back obstacles.
First up was Tip of the spear (working your way across an angled wall using ropes and 2×2’s), I leaned back and moved across with a purpose. Having OCRtube.com there to film me motivated me to not mess up haha.
Next up I had the Monkey Bars. This time the incline section was first and the decline was second. The bars were dry and I worked my way across without pausing.
With the monkey bars out of the way I only had to summit Tsunami, slide down the other side, and crawl through the Normandy Jacks to a cold beer.
Running up to Tsunami I looked back and saw no one. 11th place was mine, but I wanted a good time so I kept on moving with the crowd cheering me on.
I got a nice sprint up the quarter pipe, grabbed the rope, pulled myself up, and jumped down the other side without hesitation. I spent all day at the water park so wet slides were my thing at the moment.
Once out of the water I crawled as fast as I could through the sand and under the wires. I finished the race out of breath and had given it my all.
I finished 1:17:23, with a 8:19/mi average pace.
My 1:17 finish shaved 6 minutes off my time from last week and I improved by 6 places overall. There is still a lot of room for improvement if I plan on consistently placing in the top 10 in these events.
I won’t celebrate the small victory at this event because this course was easier than Miami’s Battlefrog event. There was no rope traverse, only a small swimming section, and plenty wide open fields to run across instead of MTB trails.
I did like the abundance of obstacles that required upper body strength. Obstacles like the Monkey Bars, Jerry Can Carry, Rope Climbs, Caving Ladders, Inverted walls, and Tip of the Spear are essential in separating the sport of OCR from running. Without those obstacles that require strength and technique, this sport will be lost to the running world. The only reason I finished so well is because I have the strength and technique to complete these obstacles, so of course I am going to praise them.
What I learned
Wearing a GPS watch was a great idea. I kept me in check when I wanted to slow down and motivated me to increase my pace. Numbers push me harder than anything.
I need to work on my running. BIG TIME. This was my last race for 2.5 months and I will spend that time concentrating on that area. I need to be running a 15k in 58:00 or less. I am going to work it by running sprints, dragging sleds, and doing a lot of 15k TT runs.
Long socks are terrible. As soon as I got wet they slid down my leg and stayed there in a soggy bunch. Next time I will wear calf compression sleeves to protect my skin from ropes.
For breakfast I ate chia and granola mixed with muscle milk in a bowl. It all came out looking the exact same. I will never eat that crap again before a race. You can’t beat eggs and bacon.