It was a dark and stormy night…wait! It was Halloween, but THAT’s a different story. I am here to tell you the tale of the very first BattleFrog Indoor Battle. First, allow me to give you a little bit of background, I am 29 years old and holding for 12 years now (that’s 41 for those of you counting on your fingers) and a complete and utter newbie to OCR. I started running in mid-July and completed my first OCR (Savage Race) the end of September. I was instantly hooked and my friends and co-workers think I have lost my mind. Between you and me, I don’t think there was ever one there to lose. Anyway, I have since volunteered for the infamously and ridiculously muddy Atlanta Spartan Super that took place in mid-October. I am still cleaning mud out of my crevices from both of those races. But, on Halloween, I volunteered for the BattleFrog Indoor Battle Arena at the Lee Haney Physique & Fitness Games. This was a first for BattleFrog and was not widely publicized as it was a part of the Lee Haney event and was not listed as an event on the BattleFrog Series web page. I had heard about it on my local OCR Facebook page (shout out to my fellow GORMRs!) on Monday and promptly sent a volunteer email so I could check out what will be awaiting me Nov. 7th at the BattleFrog in Tallapoosa (that’s just a fun word to say – Tallapoosa). I tried to convince my 12-year-old son to join me, but apparently sitting in the basement playing video games was much more appealing to him.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
My husband and I are both planners, and while he was packing up his gear box for his trail race Halloween morning, I started getting my cinch sack ready for my volunteer (and hopeful run) session. A few snacks, charger for my phone, nothing spectacular. Since the venue is about an hour away for me and contemplating traffic (yes, it was a Saturday morning, but in Atlanta, anything is possible) I knew I had to get up early. I didn’t sleep well the night before and had a long day at work, so I was mentally exhausted anyway. I headed to bed early and my head hit the pillow at 10:15 p.m. I tossed and turned in anticipation of what waited for me on Saturday morning and right now, sleep obviously was not one of things. The time projected on my ceiling from my alarm clock kept ticking closer to midnight, then one….next thing I knew my Fitbit was buzzing and it was 5:15 a.m. Time to get up and get this party started!
6:30 a.m.: Got in the car and pulled out of the driveway … damn, forgot to close the garage door.
6:40 a.m.: Hit the ATM at the bank (just in case I need cash)
6:47 a.m.: Starbucks!!! THANK YOU for being open!!! One venti quad non-fat white chocolate mocha (yes, I am one of those people – hey, it’s early, on a Saturday – 4 shots of espresso sounds like a great idea)
6:54 a.m.: Now, back roads or highway? Back roads or highway? I opt for highway and cross my fingers that there were sensible drivers and minimal construction the night before.
7:02 a.m.: Slam on the brakes…SHIT!!!! Damn deer! Now that my stomach is in my throat and everything that was in the passenger seat is now in my engine compartment, I continue to the highway. Thankfully, it is uneventf
ul the rest of the way.
7:38 a.m.: Pull into venue and yep, glad I hit the bank….I see a sign in front of the booths leading into the parking lot. Parking – $10. Gold star for thinking ahead!
Young guy in booth: “Are you participating today or volunteering?”
Me: “I’m volunteering for BattleFrog”
Young guy: “Oh, not sure what that is, but you guys have the whole building today. It’s $5 for volunteers”
Me: “Suh-weet!” And I give myself another pat on the back.
7:45 a.m.: I park and walk inside. There seem to be tons of booths being set up and a bunch of people walking around looking as clueless as I feel at this time. It seems that the main hall is one big circle with endless branches of hallways going in different directions. So, pretending to be confident and wanting to look like I know what the hell I am doing, I turn down one hall that looks promising. There is a big ballroom with people handing out those obnoxious bright yellow EVENT STAFF t-shirts….ewwww, really?!? I skip past that room and wander aimlessly for about 5 minutes and then swallow my pride and ask for directions from a giant in one of those bright yellow t-shirts. No kidding! At a mere 5 foot 3 ½ inches (hey, that ½ inch is important y’all), anyone over 5’8” is tall, but this guy is giant. I barely come up to the bottom of his chest, his arms are the size of bowling balls and his neck is bigger than my thighs, but by the looks of if, he at least did not forget leg day. He graciously gives me one of those fugly shirts and escorts me to the BattleFrog course.
8:05 a.m.: We walk through a small door in a dark hallway and light hits me in the face…que the angelic music….there it is, the course, and the first thing I clearly see is the bright green platinum rig. Damn that fucker is loooong. My shoulders instantly tighten up like a prostitute on Sunday. I make my way around the perimeter of the course and realize that 3 things are missing: mud, miles, oh, and more mud. This course is Ninja Warrior style, obstacles back to back, with one added element of danger…concrete. The three year old inside of me is jumping up and down screaming, “I wanna play! I wanna play!”
As I meet some of the BattleFrog team, Jennifer, Josh, Mike, Cajun, and Beard, the rest of the crew is busy putting last minute touches on the course. I’m getting high from the spray paint fumes. Am I feeling light headed because of that or my four shots of espresso on an empty stomach?
9 a.m.: We open the course for warm-up and practice runs. Oooooooh, let the fun begin. My fellow volunteer, Jewel, and I decide to give it shot. I’m just praying that I don’t make a complete and utter fool of myself, and that I come out on the other end unscathed.
The first series of obstacles are mere feet away from the starting line. A series of walls, varying in height.
4-foot wall: Okay, I got this. Easy peasy….up and over. Ooops, watch the trailing toes.
6-foot wall: A few feet of running, jump, grab, pull….come on Jen, puuuuull….yep, that’s not going anywhere. Nope…not
gonna happen. Dammit! I have seriously got to work the upper body and
back more. Jewel, and everyone else mind you, get over the wall like a cat jumping from the floor to the couch. (As a side note, I did go back and try this wall again later and got over…Go Me! Perks of a short course)
8-foot wall: I walk up to the wall and stand in front of it, looking straightup. I start giggling and shaking my head. Jewel launches herself upwards and over….son of a bitch. Well, she does weigh at least 50 lbs. less than me (tiny tiny). Hell, I could fly if I weighed 50 lbs. less. Just give me a cape and I’ll launch myself over this wall like Superman bounding over the tallest building. Instead, I walk around…(don’t worry, this is a practice/warm-up session and not competition, so there were no 8 pt. body builders being done as penalty at this time – those come later)
60 Degrees: Well, well….this is the cleanest I am ever going to see this damn thing. I can even grip it and not slip (I’ve heard horror stories). Wait, what is that, why is this moving….holy shit, is that an earthquake? Nope, but with 2 or more people on this rig, on concrete….don’t look down….it’s swaying like a skyscraper during an earthquake. Move with it, just move with it and get the fuck down without breaking an ankle or face planting into concrete.
12’ Rope Wall: Great. Ropes….I loathe ropes. I grip and begin my climb. I make it about 7’ up and my running shoes slip. My elbows hit, breaking the momentum that had my nose on a collision course with the wall. Jewel, of course, is Spiderman in disguise.
O/U/T: Okay Jen, you definitely got this….I learned from my mistake at th
e 6’ wall. I hit the first wall, throw my right foot over the top and use my legs to pull myself over. I love my legs. I launch myself off of the top of the wall and perform a ¼ turn which causes me to be slightly off kilter. Auto correct! Must auto correct! I land on the backside of my heels, momentum still carrying me backward, and I land square on my ass. My momma calls me Grace for a reason you know. Damn that concrete floor is hard and I am a little happy about the extra padding I haven’t been able to get rid of back there… I’m up as quick as I was down and now I have to go down again. I try to slide under the next wall with baseball like precision. Only problem is that I have never played. As I slide, there is good momentum when clothes and concrete meet, sliding like a hot knife through buttah – but, I put my leg down too soon and it was like slamming on the brakes when my skin added friction upon contact with the slick concrete floor. I hit my head on the bottom of the wall. Grace… However, I’m up and through the next wall in seconds.
12’ Peg Wall: Shit, more upper body. You have got to be fucking kidding me! This is going to be embarrassing. I’m giggling as I step up and grab the two pegs and pull myself up. You are allowed to use the edge of the wall, just not the supports. So I brace my feet to add a little leg strength. I pull out the left peg and place it into the next hole up. AHHHH!!!! I did it! Holy Effin’ Shit! I moved one! Okay, now for the right. I pull out the peg and move it up as well. I can’t believe this – I actually moved not just one peg, but two! Major accomplishment! As I mentally celebrate this accomplishment, my arms go as limp as a cooked noodle and I’m back on the ground. Dammit! I look up and am convinced that Jewel really is a Marvel Super Hero in disguise because she is at the top and working her way back down. “Great job Jewel!” I say, while mentally tallying all the 8-pt. body builders I will have to impose on myself later.
I wonder out loud if I started doing body builders now, if I could count them toward my total that I am sure will be a very large number at next Saturday’s BattleFrog in Tallapoosa (damn I love saying that word). I’m immediately informed that I can do all the body builders I want between now and Saturday, but only those done on Saturday will count. I mumble a few more colorful metaphors under my breath.
12’ Ladder Wall: Climbing! I LOVE climbing! This wall is awesome and the best part, it’s EASY! I scurry up, throw my leg over, and climb back down. I jump the last few feet, concrete or no, I am feeling daring. I turned and there it is. The nemesis of any upper body weakling…the foe of forearms…the gallivant of grip strength…que the ‘Psycho’ music and silent scream…it’s, it’s The Big Green Monster of Death and Endless Body Builders.
Platinum Rig (5 sections): This big green monster is set up in 5 sections, which means if you make it through one section and just touch the first apparatus of the next section, then you can drop and rest without penalty (a.k.a. body builders).
The first section is 3 hanging ropes….oh goody! I can feel the 4-letter excrements beginning to creep their way out of my mouth. I have to traverse from one rope to the next….riiiiiight. I’m on one rope and begin to feel the pull of gravity, I reach for the second and I’m sure you can guess what happened next. I hit the ground. Ooooh, padding! Good call – mats under the Platinum Rig. My knees are appreciative. Add another five 8-pt body builders to my mounting total.
Next section, rings of varying height. I should be able to handle this, it’s like my playground from elementary school. The only thing I’m missing is the tire swing, damn I loved that swing. Okay, back to the task at hand. After a few attempts at reaching said ring, I’m showing off my spectacular 2” vertical, I finally get a good grab and hold on. From one ring to the next to the … floor… again. Damn! Another 5 get added to the total, I believe I am now at 40.
Bars are next up – a stationary horizontal bar, reach up to a higher swinging bar, then back down to another stationary bar. Does anyone have a step stool I can borrow to reach them? Did I mention I am vertically challenged and have zero ‘ups’? I start laughing like the Joker because I have hit the point of utter ridiculousness and embarrassment. I just cannot believe how weak my upper body and grip strength are. I know traversing the platinum rig is all about momentum and grip strength, but you add the pull of gravity and I might as well be trying to escape the Death Star while caught in the tractor beam.
Following the horizontal bar is another ring leading to a swinging long bar. I jump up to grab the long bar, and in my usual graceful fashion, my fingers grip, the bar swings, fucking gravity takes hold of my 170 lb. frame and I hit the mat. I love this mat. We are good friends by this point. Maybe I’ll just lay here and take a nap.
The last section is another set of rings traversing to a rope and then all you have to do is hit the finishing bar. My brain says go ahead, my shoulders and forearms shutter at the thought…I believe at the end of the platinum rig I am now standing at 55 8-pt body builders. My life is over as I know it. My final analysis? The platinum rig sucks a big ass sack of hairy balls. The only positive thing I can say about that big green monstrosity is that thank goodness it not wet and muddy because that would suck even more, if that’s possible! Oh, and yes, Jewel again did very well, and a few of the competitors for the day put on a clinic on how to traverse that damn thing properly. Kudos to them and their Justice League of America super strength. I am in awe and jealous, but I know I will get there one day.
Inverted Ramp Wall / Ramp Wall: I round the tight corner to the final obstacles. I pull myself up the back side of the inverted ramp wall, throw my right foot over the edge and shimmy my way up. It doesn’t have to be pretty and it definitely isn’t, but I did it. I slide down the wall and head for the ramp wall. My first try was met with much laughter as I stood straight up as opposed to leaning into run up. I might as well have just run straight into the wall. My next attempt was successful and I begin to try to flip over the edge and decide against it since being graceful was not working in my favor today. So I jump and land successfully upright and run, okay, jog, through the finish line.
Whoop, whoop! I finished my first BattleFrog course. Albeit indoors and definitely not a muddy mess, I still did it and now I have a vague idea of what might await me next Saturday in, say it with me, Tallapoosa. Even though I have 55 self-imposed body builders to do, I am still proud of the obstacles that I was able to complete and the ones that I attempted and failed miserably. It gives me a starting point.
I spend the rest of Halloween morning assisting the youngins that attended the Haney Fitness Games run through the Kid’s BattleFrog course. Many of these children have a ridiculous amount of athletic talent and even take on the adult course between the competition rounds and do very well. I spend the afternoon cheering on the adult competitors as they race through the indoor battle arena. The competition in the men’s category finishes in spectacular fashion with the final round and championship being decided by mere seconds.
Throughout the afternoon, my fellow OCR enthusiasts and I discuss the event and we all agreed that we would have loved to see more competitors (only about 12 in total today), and would absolutely welcome the idea of more of these types of indoor battle arena events. Although many had seen and conquered these obstacles before, having them one on top of the other without the respite of mileage for upper body recovery, definitely added a level of difficulty. It was also nice seeing what you are actually able to accomplish (or not in my case) without all the mud.
Time for the awards before we begin teardown. WOW! The medals for the top 3 place finishers in women’s, men’s, and teens are the size of my head. Wait! What’s this? What are they giving to the 1st place finishers? Holy Shit! It’s a sword! An effing, cool as hell SWORD! WTF BattleFrog? You just upped the game with this one! NICE! VERY NICE!
All the podium finishers get their pictures with The Lee Haney and the crowd disperses. That is when I am really put to work assisting in dismantling the obstacles and getting them ready for being loaded up. There is a shit ton of work that goes into putting on something this small and I can only imagine it on a larger scale. So, if you have ever thought about volunteering. Do it! They need all the help they can get and being behind the scenes is pretty cool too!
To the powers that be at BattleFrog:
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do more of these types of events and publicize them! Put them on your page for all to see….I think it would have been ridiculously busy had this approach been taken. Oh, and one more thing – bring more mats! Falling and concrete definitely do not mix well together. My ass thanks you.
Kids course: I really wish the 12 year old had come with me because he would have really had a blast. The kid’s course consisted of a shortened Delta ladder, a shorter version of the O/U/T, and 2 ramp walls. The smallest and youngest to do the course was 3 and she couldn’t get enough of it. Sooooo stinkin’ cute. Oh, and thankfully I can say that I had 100% obstacle completion on that course! Yeah baby! It was just my size…..Fun Size.