After what seemed like an eternity of rain, we finally had a day where water would not be pouring out of the sky. But the mud two weeks of rain left in its wake, now that is another story. (Well, not really, but isn’t that what writers are supposed to say?)
So Luke (AKA the young one) and I are signed up for BattleFrog DC, which really isn’t in DC, but I won’t go there in this post, with a start time of 1 pm.
Now there are 2 things in life that I don’t like, well probably more like 200, but for now 2 will do. One is sitting and waiting and two is sitting and waiting to race in the afternoon. I am a race early in the morning kind of guy.
So after waking up a 6, eating breakfast and after sitting and waiting until 10, we hit the road and head to Wicomico Motorsports Park for the race. We drive for a while, park and register. Registration takes all of 30 seconds which is great; but, much quicker than expected. So I take a glance at my watch and it is 11:30, time to sit and wait, again.
After what seems like FOREVER, finally, it’s time to line up for our race. We jump over the obligatory 5-foot wall and stroll up to the starting line. When we get there, Coach Pain delivers the pre-race motivational speech, which was great and it is time to go. The young one and I had 25 people in our wave and at the starting line was the last time we would see any of them until after we finished. Luke and I set our rules for the race and they were pretty simple, use the elite obstacles and follow the elite rules. We could retry obstacles as often as we wanted and completing all of the obstacles trumped a faster time with a missed obstacle. Below is the course. It shows the obstacles, but not the mud. The mud was everywhere.
The race started and we both set off in search of a completed course. Within 100 yards, Luke and I were off the front and running side by side through the mud. For the first half mile of the course we were right next to one another, then we hit the first hill. I stayed with him for a bit and then decided the better part of valor would be to let the young one get a small gap. We went over a couple of walls, and trudged through some mud and then came to the Wreck Bag Carry. I knew I was better at carrying heavy stuff so I was able catch him and pass him.
Woo hoo! I was back in the lead!
And then we were back out on the trail, for some more running in the mud. We stayed together until a bit past 2.5 miles. I got unhitched and the young one was able to start building his lead once again, The exuberance of youth was more than I could match, especially on the super slippery downhill sections. I was not going to try and match the pace of an out of control 15 year old down steep muddy hills. As it was, I slipped and fell a couple of time and yes, falling still hurts. But fortunately, I didn’t need that “I’ve fallen and can’t get up thing you see on TV”.
So past the over/under/ through, the 8 ft wall and the traverse wall I was able to keep him in sight. And to my surprise I was slowly narrowing the gap. I finally caught up to him at the wedge (traverse) wall and in a lactic acid induced haze I had a brilliant idea. I would sneak over to a side where he couldn’t see me and I would slide past him sight unseen and run to victory! Luke would never realize he got passed. But, as I should have expected, he completed it first and I was chasing once again. I caught up to him at the rope climb and watched him zoom right up and hit the bell while I struggled and slipped on the muddy rope. I thought, “There is no way I am letting the rope beat me” so I dried my gloves and BAM! I completed my first rope climb (I failed it in my last race) and was back off and running.
Next up the Tip of the Spear – Only on our course the middle rope of the three was missing, just to make it a bit harder. The joy of the elite level obstacles.
Much to my surprise, I made it through the first set of ropes, the ledge wall in the center and then across the final set of ropes. But this took way longer than it should have and coming off, I was way behind.
And it only gets worse at the monkey bars. I guess Luke blew right through, I on the other hand needed to take a moment or two get myself under control before I started. I made it across fairly easily, but by now I am almost two minutes behind.
We are now down to the last four or five obstacles and my only real hope to make up ground will be the jerrycan carry. So when I get to the carry, I grab my two cans (45 lbs each) and set off after Luke who seems to be struggling with the weight of the cans. I think this is my time to make up some distance, so I do my best to increase my pace and close the gap. After about 30 steps my legs and lungs are burning, and I realize that this was not a good plan. So I drop the cans and catch my breath. I follow that pattern a couple more times, walk, drop, rest and keep pressing on. By the end of the carry, I only made up about 30 seconds, Luke was still just a small dot in the distance.
Back out onto the trails and I figure there is no chance for me to ever catch up now. But to my surprise when I get to the Platinum Rig (a combination of rings, ropes, monkey bars and anything else to test upper body and grip strength) there is Luke gently swinging on one of the ropes. He had been hanging on the rig for about a minute and a half. I have no idea how he could hang on for so long! So I yell to him, that I still have not missed an obstacle and the race is still on.
So, I get set and start to cross, ring, ring, ring (good) now its time to drop to the first monkey bar. My hand slips and I am down on the ground (bad). Bummer.
The whole time the volunteer who is at the obstacle (turned out to be Sarah Watson one of the Team Battlefrog Pros) is getting a kick out of our father/son battle, taking pictures and giving advice and encouragement in the hope that we both get across successfully.
I try a couple more times, but there is no chance of me making it across. Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
Luke is also spent from his time dangling on the rope and can’t make it either. So he looks at me and says: “I am taking my penalty and moving on” I agree and we drop down and start to bang out our ten 8-count body builders. The whole time I am thinking, “This is so much easier than 30 burpees in a Spartan Race.”
The race is now almost over. We are down to about 600 yards of running, followed by climbing a rope up and over a 12 foot wall.
First one to the far side of the wall is the winner.
My mind says: “I may have a chance after all!”
Luke takes off at some crazy pace that I have no chance of matching and my body says: “No way!!!” and he gets a gap once again. Now my only hope is that he fails on the rope wall, which the chances of that are slim to none.
He hits the wall with a 10 second gap and blasts right over. Since the finish is just on the other side of the wall, I now know the race is over and all I want to do is get over the wall on the first try. So I take 15-20 seconds to collect myself and start the climb. I make it to the top and drop down the other side. Mission accomplished!
I head the final 100 feet to the finish line, stop my watch and collect my medal. I look down the watch reads 1:10.01.
It was a hard race but in the end, I know I did the best I could.
When the results were posted it turns out that both of us won our age groups (13-18 and 50-54) and we both finished in the top 30 (Luke 27th and me 30th) out of more than 800 competitors in the Open category.
Not a bad day.
On the way out we walked past the rig and chatted with Sarah (the lady who was there earlier) who told him: “If you can hang on the rope for 90 seconds, you can make it across the rig. The key is to trust your body and not over think the whole thing.”
So he gave it a try and not surprisingly, he made it across fairly easily on his first try.
While this was going on she asked me: “How old is he?” I replied, “Just turned 15.”
And her closing comment was: “If he keeps at this, HE CAN BE REALLY GOOD!”
I just said: “Thanks, I know” but, in my mind I know he is really good already.