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.