This weekend I packed my bags again and headed south for Portland to run the Battlefrog Extreme (BFX). This was my first Battlefrog race and seemed like a challenge I was ready for. The race consisted of running as many laps of the 5 mile course you can. The first lap starts at 8:15 AM and your last lap must be started by 2:45 PM. This course contained over 25 obstacles; the biggest hurdle was the heat. The expected high was 105 degrees that afternoon. Being born and raised in Seattle, 105 degrees was a daunting number for me.
After checking in for the race, I dragged my supplies to our pit area. Here is where I met the other group of people who shared the same crazy idea to run in the heat all day for fun. One of my favorite parts about these races is the people and friendships you create. The teamwork and level of respect for one another is unmatched to any competitive event I have been apart of.
As for my supplies here is what I brought to keep me fueled:
10 GU Packets
4 Glukos Packets
2 bottles of Pedilyte
6 bottles of water
A tub of Macaroni
3 packages of Gummy Bears
1 tub of Almond butter
The few days leading up to this race increased my carb intake and decreased my running. That helped me to store energy that I would desperately need on mile 25 when I became delirious. Everyone had their own quirky list of items they brought to eat, it was cool to see what other people use for fuel and compare nutrition ideas.
In the starting area, I was already sweating. By 8:15 it was well over 80 degrees. Growing up in Seattle, 80 degrees is scorching. This was going to be a mental challenge for me and I accepted the fact that I was going to be hot and uncomfortable all day as we sprung out of the starting line.
On the first lap I used my usual race tactics, I found the fastest girl and stayed right behind her. I was unsure if people were going to take it slow their first lap, or try to get ahead of the pack. Quickly I learned that people were not taking this first lap easy. By the third mile I was still right on Danielle's tail. I met her in the pit area and immediately became friends with her because she had a foam roller and endless amount of GU packets. When we got to the rig obstacle, I completed it, she had to try again. This put me in the lead and I didn't want to give it up. I felt the pressure to constantly push the pace. Completing my first lap went smoothly and headed into the pit area to stuff my face with Pediylate and peaches. Just as I was feeling good and shoving GU packets in my sports bra, Danielle came into the pit area. I gave her a high five and immediately started my second lap. I knew she was only 1-2 minutes behind me, and new this was anybody's race. A lot can happen in 7 hours.
In lap two I picked up the pace. I felt comfortable making this move because I typically get into a rhythm after mile 6. This helped spread the gap between 1st and 2nd place. I was still feeling fresh and the obstacles were challenging but I wasn't fatigued. I had noticed the heat having an effect on my running. Even though I was maintaining a good pace, my whole body felt slow, like the sun was trying to suck my energy out. I came into the pit area after lap 2 and took a salt tablet. (This replaces all the salt you sweat out and allows your muscles not to cramp.) Just as I was catching my breath, I saw Danielle on the last obstacle (Tip of the Spear) before coming the pit area. I needed to leave before she finished, I headed out for lap 3. I wanted to keep a lead for a couple reasons. I could slow down on the obstacles and I also had a pee spot that I would stop by each lap. This was a good sign, knowing I was staying hydrated.
I maintained a steady pace on lap three and four. At the pit I stuffed gummy bears and peaches into my mouth. Lap five was where I felt it. Deep. Exhaustion. This is when the singing began. When your'e running for over five hours you need to keep yourself entertained. I started talking to myself. Theses were not normal conversations. Other racers on the course probably thought I had lost my mind, but at that point I was focused on doing everything I could to mentally keep going. I yelled "You got this Kayla! You are so strong! Yeah hill I am going to conquer you!" Eventually I turned these little outbursts into songs in rhythm with my stride.
I got extremely emotional. With tears streaming down my face I knew I was truly pushing my body and mind to new limits
After mile 25 it was a mental race, I told my body to put one foot in front of the other. At lap 5 I was faced with a dilemma. If I crossed the finish line I would win. But if Danielle went out for another lap, she would win. I had no choice but to go out for lap 6 to ensure the win. I did not know she did not go out for the other lap.
My last lap was long, slow and brutal. It was over 100 degrees and everything in my body was telling me to stop. My hips were tight and my knees numb from the constant pounding. If I stopped my body would collapse. I stumbled through all obstacles with a lot of singing out of tune.
I crossed the finish line and fell into the arms of some local medics. After my adrenaline surging for so many hours, I finally was able to feel how dehydrated I was. I remember yelling the word "electrolytes!"and I sucked down some liquid a medic gave me. They put 7 bags of ice on my body and in my armpits to cool me down. An hour later I was able to stand up and hobble back to my car. Something was wrong with my left knee, but I won and I was okay with that trade. I really believe in the end it was the gummy bears covered in mud that I would stick in my sports bra that kept me going.
This race took everything I had. Pushing my body to its limits is a thrill for me. This will not be my last BFX race. This race has inspired me to set higher training goals and allowed me to mentally become stronger. First, I will be in my physical therapist's office for the next couple of weeks. Until then, I might need recommendations on places to take signing lessons.
a.k.a: My battle with monkey bars and hypothermia
My birthday weekend finally arrived. My celebration wouldn't be complete if i didn't run a race. So I hit the road and drove to Portland for the weekend. I somehow managed to convince my incredible aunt who lives in Portland to enter this race with me. With this race having two options; the 5k or the 10k, I knew she was fully committed when she eagerly jumped at the chance to sign up for the 10k.
This was a really cool experience to have her with me from the beginning of the race day, because all of my other races I complete by myself. It was really awesome having breakfast made when I woke up that day at 5:00 AM, as well as having someone to dance to gangster wrap to get pumped up before our start time. We registered and got our brown bands to wear, meaning we were in the "elite" heat. This meant that if we could not complete and obstacle our bands would be taken and could not qualify to podium.
After stretching and watching the elite males take off on the course, the elite women were corralled into the start gate. It was nice to see a few familiar faces of woman that I have previously raced with. Racing in a different city is always nerve-wracking because you don't know who the "locals" are or if they have ran this terrain before. I gave my aunt the "We got this" look, and a miniature canon sent us through the start gate and my nerves went away. I knew I wanted to be slightly above my pace the first mile so I could establish a good position in the race and make sure I had no other runners next to me when completing the obstacles. This was well established and knew I was in second place without anyone next to me. Around mile two it began to rain. I first embraced this and enjoyed being slightly cooled off as I was running up these horse pastures. But after a few water obstacles, my attitude on the rain changed. My first lap felt really good, and I was ready for the second lap.
On my second lap, I was hoping over this 5" wall and I see my aunt about to submerge herself into another obstacle with water and mud. I try to yell her name but all that came out was this awkward, out of breath scream. To my surprise she turns around and yells across the field "SPARKLE BABY!" I gave her the thumbs up and the thought of me "sparkling" pushed me over the next two walls I needed to tackle. I approach the dreaded monkey balls. (see picture below). This contraption required you to use every ounce of grip strength you had, and if you failed you would plunge into cold water. I spent about 10 minutes on this obstacle and then my hands started to bleed while my arms cramped up. But there was no way I was going to give up my brown band. At this point the race director comes up to me to suggest I go into the medic tent due to the possibility of hypothermia. I told him there was no way I was giving up. I tried several more times but my bloody hands had enough. He told me that if I completed 20 burpees I was able to continue because I was able to complete it the first lap.
I might mention this obstacle brings quite a crowd to watch people try to tackle this. So as I am trying to block out all these people starting at me wondering why I don't give up, I see the girl that was in third and fourth place overtake me. After my burpees were complete I was in 5th place and determined to get back to my second place spot.
To be honest, I should have stopped and went into the medic tent. I started getting slightly delirious on the next obstacle and I really don't remember a good part of the race. I don't really remember passing the girl that was in 4th place either. Somehow I got through the rest of this course finishing in 3rd place. I do remember striping off my clothes in the changing tent as if there were no other women in the tent. There was no concern for privacy at that point, only warmth.
I remember watching my aunt cross the finish line and I thought this is what a proud parent feels like. For her to battle though two laps of those not-so-easy obstacles and not let the cold get to her really inspired me. I'm so happy she went though the whole experience to see what I love and to get an understanding for why I do it. I may have created the next Journeywomen's world champion of 2017 (stay tuned).
As for my podium photo, all the mens photos were taken first. They all took their photos without their sweatshirts on, so I assumed that is what us women were going to do. Apparently I was the only one with that crazy idea.
Attempting to not look like I have the beginning stages of hypothermia.
I could not think of a better way to spend mothers day than running a race my your mom! I am so grateful my mom for signing me up for races when I was 7 years old. Maybe she would rather pay my race entry than for a babysitter? I am tall now, but back then i was tiny, even for my age. I always tried my best to keep up wither her while trying not to get trampled by the other runners.
I was nervous for this race, wanting to do well myself, but also wanting to impress my mom. As we parked in a school parking lot, there was a public school bus wrangling up all of the participants to drive us to the starting line. This morning was windy and cold, so warming up was even more crucial than usual. I can usually get a good feel for who I will be pacing with at the start of the race, so I was excited to be surrounded by some very inspiring women in their 30's. At the start, they had pace runners. These women ran at the pace that was posted. If you wanted to run this half marathon in two hours, you would huddle with the woman holding the 2:00 sign at the start gate so you know how to pace yourself. Being conservative, I started out with the 1:50 group. By the first mile about half the women slowed down. Feeling slightly full of myself telling myself "why aren't you pushing yourself harder?" So I pushed my pace faster. I managed to get close enough up front that I saw the woman in first. I knew at this point I had found my pace.
A lot of things go through my head when I run over 10 miles. Sometimes I wonder why I am doing this to my body? How important are my knees anyway? Other times I gather inspiration and ideas for a new food recipe or try to solve complex situations. Wondering if I don't text whats-his-name back, maybe he will think i'm mysterious. I remember on this run I didn't want to look down the road, because I was looking at how far I had to run. I picked a women and ran right behind her staring directly at her calf. Her right, pale and freckled calf became the focal point of half my race. No, not her left calf, just her right one. I also tried to solve this mystery of why I wasn't inclined to look at her left calf. I never did solve that reason. This allowed me to forget about what mile I was on. I didn't focus on how much more I needed to run, but let me be in each moment, deciding knees are overrated, focusing on each stride.
Around mile 10 it started to rain. I do not mean sprinkle or a shower. I am talking about a torrential downpour of cold pellets slapping my face. My arms started to get so cold I could feel my muscles tightening up. At this point I let my body take control of my arms, and focused on getting through these last miles. Not being able to feel my arms, I can imagine I looked like an awkward puppet crossing the finish line. I finished 13th overall with a time of 1:42.
I cheered my mom on as she crossed the finish line. clapping and jumping up and down as she crossed the finish line, not too many words were spoken because we were so cold. Without needing to say anything we both had the same idea to get as warm as possible. I ran to back check and put on the warmest clothes I had trying to not let any more heat escape my body. Putting on clothes with numb limbs is not an easy task, trust me. As I reflect on this mothers day race, it felt great seeing how far I have come from trying to not get trampled at the age of 7 to being in the front of the pack on this race day.
After the coming down from my "Runners High" from my previous Spartan race, I was thirsty for another event. Franticly searching the internet for a local race around my area, I stumbled upon the Sammamish 10k. To be honest, 10k (6.2 miles) is probably my most hated distance of running. Its not fast enough to maintain my 5k pace, yet not quite long enough to get into a half marathon pace. So I signed up to be uncomfortable for about 40 minutes this Saturday morning. As I approached the starting line I was crowded with extremely fit women who had their kids cheering them on along the sidelines. Knowing I was one of the younger women I knew I had something to prove.
My strategy was to pace with the fastest woman there, who I found fairly quickly. I stayed with her until mile 2 and made my move up the hill to push the pace. I'm glad I did this at that time because for mile 3 it was all a slight down hill. Although this was great I knew this was an out and back course. This meant I would be running all the way up this hill around mile 5. Using the longest strides I could, I gained quite a distance from the other women at this point. Once I hit the turn around point I could see the other women were about 1 minute behind me. The dreaded hill has arrived and I thought to myself "The quicker you run up this thing the shorter time you will have to struggle with this hill." So that's exactly what I did. I kept this pave through mile 6 determined to win women's overall and I hobbled across the finish line thinking its about time for new running shoes.