I guess you could say it was an unspoken fear of mine that someday I wouldn’t be able to finish a race. By mile 2.5 of the 9+ mile Bonefrog Challenge I was running Saturday, I knew I was in trouble. It was my own fault really…I hadn’t hydrated as well as I should have so by the time we started at 10am (a really late start for Florida) I was already slightly dehydrated. To top it all off, the temperature at the time we started was 92. And I had also forgotten my fuel: no Nuun, no gels, no chews. Apparently I decided I really wanted to challenge myself this time around.
When we started I was excited to try a new race and a new course. I had never before run a race at Rock on Adventures before, and was looking forward to a new venue. What I didn’t anticipate was that this course had virtually no shade. So while I was out running during the hottest part of the day, I was subjected to intense sun beating down on me pretty much from mile 2.5-7.
The course itself had some great views and pretty scenery. They advertised 36 “navy seal style obstacles” on course, but for the first four or five miles we didn’t see many of these. We did several low crawls, treks through thigh-waist deep water, hopping over fallen logs and maneuvering our way through single track trails in the woods that had plenty of debris we had to watch out for.
One thing that was severely lacking on course were the course markings. Several of the elites got lost and had to double back, causing many of them time and placing. Brian and I got off track at one point and had to navigate our way back to the course in a field of orange groves. Confession: we picked a few oranges and ate them. They were delicious.
Heat exhaustion started to set in for me about halfway through the course. Not only was I dehydrated and extremely hot but I was also suffering from muscle cramps (probably caused by dehydration). I cramped up on at least four obstacles and had to stop and wait for the cramp to subside before I attempted the obstacle a second time. On one of the obstacles (the hoist) I got a vicious side cramp and just decided to skip it at that point. By the time we got to the water stop around mile 6, the attendant noticed I wasn’t sweating. “Is that a bad thing?” I asked. “If you’re not sweating it means you’re severely dehydrated,” he responded. He gave me some ice to put on the back of my neck and under my arms to help me cool off and gave me several cups of water.
Since I was pretty delirious for most of the back half of the course I have no idea what order the obstacles came in. At one of the final low crawls in the water Brian and I decided to just sit there for a few minutes enjoying the cool water.
Most of the big obstacles came at the end of the course. This is typical for many obstacle races, but I do wish they had more at the beginning. It would have broken up the running portion more because the first five miles felt mostly like a glorified trail run. By the time we hit the big obstacles I wanted to quit. My body was exhausted, my strength was depleted and I just wanted to be done. I pushed myself as hard as I could to finish as many of the obstacles I could but I did end up skipping a few.
At first I wasn’t proud of myself for this race. It was my worst performance to date; I walked more than I cared to admit. I was angry with myself for not hydrating better and being better prepared. I’ve lived in Florida my whole life so I know how hot it gets. I should have known better. But if I’d have given up or not entered the race at all I wouldn’t know what it takes to run a Bonefrog. I would still be watching others doing it, wishing I had been there and planning to run it next year. It may have taken me 3 hours and 45 minutes but it’s given me a better feel for my strengths and weaknesses. Obstacle racing is made to push you to your limits and make you want to give up. A true OCR tests you in so many ways but you come out of it a stronger person: mentally and physically. Facing your weaknesses allows you to see where you failed and where you can improve. You can go out next time and run better, be stronger. Next year I will be better prepared for the challenges I will have to face. And all that number on my time is is a time to beat for next time I run this race.
Obstacles: They did have a lot of good obstacles in the back half of the course. Some of which I hadn’t seen before, like the Tarzan Swing, Swingers Club, & Drunken Monkey.
Pretty Scenery on course: There were a lot of good areas of the course. The wooded areas were nice although I wish they would have had more time in the woods since that was the only shaded part of the course. And there was this one part by a giant lake that was gorgeous.
Challenging course: This course took me down- literally. Although heat and hydration were a factor, it was definitely a pretty challenging course.
Course markings: So many people got lost and off track! The course markings were all messed up and unless you were paying close attention you wouldn’t have noticed a few turns you were supposed to make. Better markings are a must in the future.
Some of the “obstacles” weren’t really obstacles: Like hey, climb over this fallen tree that has always been here. That’s not really an obstacle- it was there anyway and we would have had to climb over it anyway. It kind of felt like they were just marking random stuff as “obstacles” in order to meet the advertised 36 obstacle mark.
Not enough obstacles in the beginning: Most of the beginning of the course was straight running with a few built obstacles. I think they could have had more in the beginning and heard many complaints about that.