Saturday, March 21, 2015

BattleFrog Orlando 3/15/15 Race Review and...


For me this was not at all my usual race, and in that theme, I don’t at all feel like doing a typical race report. But maybe that’s just because I’m sitting here, still in my post race stupor.  I really will start with a recap, I guess, just in case someone came here to read the recap and not my random post-race babbling.

Race Review—Battle Frog 15k, Orlando, March 15, 2015
First, let me say: “I LOVED THIS RACE!”

Obstacles—BattleFrog has some of the most unique and challenging obstacles I’ve seen in an OCR. And for someone who’s scared of heights, some of the most terrifying obstacles. (By “terrifying” I mean, multiple obstacles had me climbing, literally, way outside my comfort zone. I don’t mean that I felt my life was truly in danger.)

Distance—5k OCRs seem to be over too quickly. And they are great for sprinters (which I’m not). The 15k was great. It allowed for some obstacles that suit my strengths—the heavy water/gas can carry and the long heavy wreck bag carry.

"Compound Expo" Area—There was a large stage with a sound system, physical challenge competitions throughout the day, several vendors, bag check, showers, changing tents, and plenty of porta-potties.

The Orlando Event was also the site of the BattleFrog College Championships-- a tournament where colleges competed against each other in a 400 meter, obstacle-heavy course. The event will be featured on ESPN this summer. Obstacle Racing Media-- a great source for all things OCR related-- was onsite to consult with ESPN on the race. 
Chatted with Matt B. Davis of Obstacle Racing Media before the race.
But Change is Coming...
Literally, I was one of the last people to run the Battle Frog 15k. Since I ran this race, just last Sunday, BattleFrog has announced that they will no long offer the 5k and 15k options. They are altering the distance to a one size fits most 8k. After running the 15k, I will say, I think I’m a little disappointed. However, I can see why.

Pros to the 15k
Really, this distance set BattleFrog apart from the others. Tough Mudder comes in at 10-12 miles. Spartan offers the Sprint (5k+), Stadium Sprint, Super (8 miles+), the Beast (half marathon-ish distance) and the Ultra Beast (marathon-ish distance).

Bigger distance, bigger challenge. (Duh.) Lots of races offer the 5k course—there’s a plethora of smaller start-ups and charity races out there offering this distance.  Many of us are looking for a more challenging option.

Cons to the 15k
Bigger distance, too big of a challenge. I ran on Sunday in the last heat of the day. I was one of 4 women and maybe 12 people total in my heat. Maybe the 15k is too much for some? And not worth the cost of 2 separate courses?

Speaking of my small heat on Sunday, I was a little surprised as I was driving in. Running the last heat of the day, at 11:30, I expected it would be pretty packed. Not so much. I had no trouble parking, no line to register/check-in. No porta-potty lines, no bag check line. No music from the large stage set up. It felt a little lonely for a "Compound Expo" area.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Typically there’s quite a larger crowd on the Saturday of two-day events. But I’ve heard so much hype about BattleFrog, that the ghost town feel was unexpected. But this is probably why BattleFrog also announced that they will no longer be offering two days of racing. Most likely, financially, it’s much better to produce one quality day of racing than 2 days, one of which isn’t really in high demand, anyway.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do…
I did nearly everything wrong going into this event. Basically, I broke all my typical “how to have a successful race” rules.

Train!—Along with strength training, you should be running to prepare for obstacle course races. I always advise you to follow a running plan that will have you running at least the length of the distance of your race, i.e. if you’re running a Spartan Super, follow a half marathon training plan. I registered for this race 6 days before the event. My longest run in the last 3 months? 4 miles. (A 15k is 9.3 miles, which is around the total distance I’ve been running each week.)

Taper—Ease off training, especially in the last 3 days before a longer race. Lighten the weights and back down the mileage. I’m in the middle of the CrossFit Open; there was no taking a rest day before the race.

No Carb Loading—I always advise to eat some healthy carbs the night before a race, but no more than you would typically eat. The night before BattleFrog? I chowed down on chocolate covered peanuts. (And they weren’t even DARK CHOCOLATE covered!)

Nutrition and Hydration-- Be sure you've drunk plenty of water in the days leading up to the race. If you're racing in a warmer climate and are unsure of the amount of water offered on the course, carry your own. I was unsure of how my body would respond to 2-3 hours of physical activity in the heat of the day, so I took my larger Camelback (a 3 L-- complete overkill, but I needed the zipper pouches to pack extra nutrition). I ate a packet of Justin's Honey Peanut Butter and a sample size Cinnamon Bun Lara Bar and had no issues with cramping or bonking.

Run Your Race—I had ripped a callus open on the palm of my hand the day before, so I knew grip would be an issue on the obstacles. (Note- New Skin helps, but not so much on the palm of your hand in a race where you'll be wet and muddy and gripping often.) I also knew the distance would be rough if I wasn’t careful. I paced myself, didn’t try to “win,” and carefully tackled all the obstacles-- and I did them all successfully. I was also able to enjoy the course, talk to fellow racers, thank the volunteers, AND I still finished 3rd in my age group for the day and 9th among females. My official finish time is 2:14:44. 



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