Into the Mines – A Battlefrog Review

BATTLEFROG

Now there’s a word I’ve been hearing for a while now and yesterday’s Pittsburgh location was a chance for me to finally experience what all the hype was all about. As a member of the BF Field Team, I had some insider knowledge. I read reviews, browsed pictures, and kept up with Ryan Atkinson winning every race he entered. But August 8th…it was my turn to run!

— The Course —

11811523_1052767594741402_5030100361229740475_n

The course was slated to have 35 obstacles over the course of around 5 miles. 2 laps were to be done by the elites. So in essence, we did 70 obstacles in 10 miles! How’s that!? The downside… the Delta cargo net apparently collapsed during the Men’s elite at the beginning of the race (everyone is ok I hear), the Dirty Name obstacle (sternum checker) was shut down later in the day due to a head injury by a racer, and the Mine swim was also shut down due to lack of head lamps, so the lifeguards couldn’t see those who needed help during the cold swim. I know some open wave racers didn’t even get to experience the Mine, which was the main draw for many to attend this location in the first place, major bummer. Though there were these stumbles, I was able to on my first lap experience them all and get a taste for what level of obstacles Battlefrog can provide. I was impressed with the course. It was challenging, muddy, creative, and definitely beat me up! 2 laps took me just over 6 hours (1 1/2 hours were spent at the Platinum rig obstacle). I have bruises and scrapes for days, but they were all worth it. I learned a lot about my endurance as an athlete on this course. I tried my hardest at that rig, but just didn’t have it in me to successfully complete it. Elite band handed in. I was so impressed watching the top elites breeze through it. I only hope to get to that level one day. I enjoyed the Mine swim a lot – it was freezing! Something out of titanic you might say. We ran the whole thing in the dark (no headlamps). The ladders were challenging, the tip of the spear obstacle would have been more fun for me if I had anything left in my grip strength at that point. Oh well, next time! The hill climbs, wreck bag carry, creek runs…all made for a great course. So congrats to BF for keeping it new and interesting..and muddy.

What was done well:

  • The course – was well designed, challenging obstacles, good use of terrain. Though, I would put the obstacles a little further past the Start Line to help thin out the group to avoid bottlenecking.
  • The medals – heavy, colorful and proud to wear; and I liked the difference in the 1 lap vs 2 lap designs
  • The DJ was turning out tunes all day! Well done!
  • Elites going to the front of line – seems a little strange, but totally makes sense.

Some tips for a better race experience:

  • Better Bag Check – get a system in place. Don’t just throw bags anywhere there is room! It makes the reclaim process that much more difficult. Color code, have a table for each set of bib numbers. Something with structure. All racers want to do is take a shower and get into clean clothes. Don’t deny them that at the end of a grueling course.
  • Parking/Instructions – We were a vendor for this course, so we were sent a different email of parking instructions than racers. But even that proved to be challenging, as we were all sent to the wrong place. Good thing someone from our group had been there the day prior, so we got the RIGHT address and passed it along to the dozen cars who were also confused.
  • Spectator Layout – Spectators love to see their racers hard at work. Give your festival area a few viewing places to watch the obstacles. Not just at the finish line and not just the Platinum Rig obstacle. Put the picnic tables and shade areas close to an obstacle. Same with the DJ – you have no idea how amazing it is as a racer to hear that music and know that you are close to the finish!
  • Volunteers/Course Marshals – As the day went on, volunteers seemed to disappear at some of the obstacles. Though it was okay for some, a few of those obstacles required some supervision out of safety (like the 60 degree ladder).
  • Organization – where some things were run very well, others it just seemed like it was an afterthought. In order for everyone to take a new race series seriously, it needs to come across like they have everything under control. Like, why was there no line for Open runners at the registration tent? Only Elite, Xtreme? Make sure volunteers know the rules of the obstacles – 2 jerry cans vs 1 if you are an open runner? You can use your feet or you can’t?

— Overall —

I am very happy with my first Battlefrog experience. It was fun, challenging, taught me some lessons in humility and endurance and grip strength for that matter, and introduced me to a ton of new faces. Our OCR family is a family unlike any other and standing in line waiting to do the Rig was a great opportunity to chat with the elite women. I was so impressed with the sheer determination of some of the women to never give up their elite bands. Some waiting hours upon hours to keep attempting the Rig. Amazing.

The pain and bruises I feel today will soon fade, but I will have lasting memories of this race. Will I do it again? Sure! I need Platinum Rig redemption!

For those that are interested in trying Battlefrog out, here is a link to their Events! & Don’t forget to use code BFJEN for a 40% discount! I hope to see you at the next starting line. http://battlefrogseries.com/events-page/

Advertisements

Mid Season Report!

Here we are, July 14th, and halfway through the 2015 racing season. What a year so far! Quick Recap: It all started in February with my first Spartan Stadium Sprint and also the first race my parents were able to see me do. Then I switched gears to road racing for the Asheville 1/2 Marathon at the Biltmore Estate and the 10959675_907037976005860_1230184913863521958_nCherry Blossom 10 Miler. Two of the most beautiful races of the year. Then came the race that nearly brought me to my knees, the TriState Spartan Beast, 13.2 miles up and down Mountain Creek Ski Resort designed by the one and only Norm Koch. So that’s what leg cramping feels like?! #effnorm But my spirits were lifted when I ran my first Pro wave for Savage Race Maryland and secured a 2nd place age group finish and 100% obstacle completion. A confidence booster for sure. With concert season looming, I tried to squeeze in two last races…the Warrior Dash Maryland and a last minute sign up for the MCM Historic 1/2 Marathon in Fredericksburg. It was my first back to back racing in terms of OCR vs Road. Interesting combo. And surprisingly got a PR for my 1/2. Maybe I should try that more often?! From there, I did my first Tough Mudder with an 11174599_866444720949_7597347627516374783_oawesome team of newbies and Tough Mudder fanatics. Dodging the sun became my biggest obstacle on this course, but had an amazing time and I think the color orange is growing on me. It must be the year of firsts, because I followed TM up with my first ever trail run race, and a 1/2 marathon at that! The Big Elk 1/2 Marathon was a very new experience for me but something I will try again. And then finally, this past weekend’s Spartan Weekend in PA, the Super and Sprint. Another mountain, another reason to reconsider why I keep signing up for mountain courses…and Norm courses… oh yeah…because we like the challenge!

Looking back – I’ve definitely had quite the busy last 6 months. All the time I am putting in the gym is showing up on the race courses, both road and ocr. I am improving and I am still having fun, even when I’m not even halfway through an uphill sandbag carry. It’s times like these when I wonder what 10547358_864778734599_3890601854838507223_oI would be doing with my life if I didn’t discover racing. Then I quickly stop thinking about what might have been and focus back on my future in racing and how much further I have yet to go, learn, and how many more amazing people I have yet to meet in this great community. Racing has been such a positive influence on me and I look forward to seeing just where it will take me…

11 races down, 12 to go with OCR World Championships and Spartan World Championships still hanging out on th TBD list.

2/14 – Spartan Tampa Sprint – COMPLETE!
3/15 – Asheville 1/2 Marathon – COMPLETE!
4/12 – Cherry Blossom 10 Miler – COMPLETE!
4/18 – Spartan NJ Beast – COMPLETE!
5/2 – Savage MD – COMPLETE!
5/16 – Warrior Dash MD – COMPLETE!
5/17 – MCM Historic 1/2 Marathon – COMPLETE!

6/13 – Tough Mudder VA – COMPLETE!
6/20 – Big Elk 1/2 Marathon – COMPLETE!
7/11 – Spartan PA Super – COMPLETE!
7/12 – Spartan PA Sprint – COMPLETE!
8/1 – Spartan DC Sprint

8/8 – Battlefrog Pittsburgh
8/22 – Spartan Super Wintergreen

9/12 – Spartan Super TriState

9/19 – Spartan Beast Killington

10/10 – Savage Race MD

10/17-18 – OCR World Championships

10/25 – MCM 10k
11/7 – Disney Wine and Dine 5k & 1/2 Marathon

11/14 – Spartan Beast Carolinas

11/15 – Spartan Sprint Carolinas

Asheville Half Marathon – Biltmore Estate – Review/Experience Recap

In Mid March, I made the 7 1/2 hour drive from Virginia to Asheville, NC so that I could run in the 3rd Annual Asheville Marathon & 1/2 Marathon at the Biltmore Estate. I’ve been a frequent visitor to the Biltmore over the years and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect backdrop for running my first road race of the 2015 season. Below, I’ve detailed some of my experience.

 

THE EXPO

The Expo was held at the local DoubleTree hotel in Asheville, just around the corner from the entrance to the Biltmore. With a race cap of 1,400 people, I wasn’t expecting this to be a huge event, not too many vendors, and not too many crowds…all of t10983548_921144887928502_4293112650594218091_ohose expectations turned out to be true. Though I wish there were more vendors, as expos are one of my favorite experiences when it comes to these road races, I needed to just remind myself that this wasn’t a Rock N Roll series with 30,000 racers. The vendors that were there, however, were pretty good. In particular…Biltmore Wine. I grabbed my commemorative bottle of 13.1 cabernet and considered my expo a success.

THE RACE

Hmm, where do I even start with this one? There were just so many positives about this race. It was set on the beautiful Biltmore Estate, we ran through the private forests, along the river, gardens, and past the horses. We saw the sunrise. I met some great people 11034321_921144177928573_4938312148326285284_ofrom Florida and everyone was just super friendly. The Start Line was easy to find and we were off in one pack – Marathoners mixed in with 1/2 Marathoners. Though a little clogged at the start, we soon spread out over the first few miles of paved roads and hills. My personal performance started off a little dodgy – heart rate was high, breathing wasn’t controlled, and the hills weren’t helping. But soon, I found a way to level out once we reached the halfway point…the house, Mile 6. Running up the driveway approach to the house was the highlight. It’s like you are running towards history. Photographers were naturally stationed here as this makes a pretty good picture! And using the house itself as a halfway mark gave me that boost I needed to pick up my somewhat slower than normal 11min mile pace. On the back side of the house, past the gardens, we entered the horse area and the paved roads turned into packed dirt. YES! My joints were celebrating and my pace picked up to around a 9min mile pace. It’s amazing what a surface can do to affect your running! Needless the say, the back half of the course along the river was a really good run for me. I felt like I made up for lost time. The sun came out, the weather warmed up, and the race neared it’s conclusion. But not before what felt like the longest mile ever…Mile 12! You had to double back on a portion of it an I swear it went on forever! Ugh. And on top of that, my phone with my music died at Mile 12. Guess the rest was run on pure determination to finish strong. And I did. Crossing the finish line I was given my medal, blanket, water, and could finally take a breath and let it sink in that I had just finished a 1/2 marathon.

PRE RACE NUTRITION & ON RACE FUEL

Sometimes I think that I sign up for these races so I have an excuse to eat some of my favorite carbs. Pasta carb-loading the night before? Sure! Eggs, english muffin, peanut butter and a pop tart before the race? Sure! I felt very well fueled for this race. My nutrition was on point and I was not cramping or tired miles into the race. My protein powder and juice plus kept me energized. I will say, this race had the best water and fuel stations! Can you say girl scout cookies?! How about peanut butter sandwiches? Or every flavor of GU you’ve ever wanted!? So ya…I was well fueled.

THE FREE SWAG

Of all the road races I’ve competed in, AVL has by far the best swag. In the bag: bottle10608758_921144491261875_71120024061360719_o opener, monogrammed runner’s gloves, a buff (which I’ve always wanted). Your shirt was a long sleeved tech tee and it fit & looked good! Expecting the usual foil wrap blanket at the finish line? Nope! How about a monogrammed fleece blanket instead!? Add on the commemorative wine for purchase at the Expo and you have yourself a good lookin’ take home prize of race memorabilia.

THE MEDAL

10818368_921144334595224_6315102689527680878_oIf you are a ‘medalwhore’ as I am, the goal is to fill up your medal display with an abundance of unique looking medals from a variety of races. And AVL did not disappoint. I do not have any medal that looks like this one. Made of wood instead of a heavy medal, it stands out from the crowd. Pretty snazzy. The wood is pretty light in weight in comparison to the other medals in my collection, but it makes up for it in creativity. Not to mention, a medal made out of wood makes complete sense when you think about the terrain you just ran. I just ran through the private wooded estate of the Biltmore after all.

 

THE TAKEAWAY

Overall, I had the best experience running the Biltmore. Smaller races tend to have more of the perks that make running fun and enjoyable. For my first time running the Biltmore, I wasn’t lost or confused, it was easy to figure out when and where I needed to be and I was happy to be running on the grounds of this beautiful house. I ran a pretty slow first half of the race – the hills didn’t help. But having the second half of the race on packed dirt road was amazing. Can this happen more often in other races?! I finished in 2:11:47. My goal was to run a sub 2 hour, so I still have some work to do. Though, this race was a PR for me by 7 minutes. I enjoyed my experience so much that I immediately signed up for 2016. So I’ll be back Asheville…

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 10.09.12 AM

What’s new, JHO?

Well, in 2015 I’m trying some new things to get me closer to reaching my goals.

Here’s what’s new, JHO!:

1) I’m trying out Protein Powder. That’s right! I am now the proud owner of 3 different flavors of Dymatize 100% whey protein powder (Chocolate, Vanilla, and Cookies and Cream, respectively). And yes, I’m surprised how much I like it. My trainer recommended I add in some more protein to my diet, primarily to act as my pre-workout snack, as I found out I wasn’t eating enough. Imagine that!? So, I took a deep breath and purchased some powder, mixed it with almond milk, shook it up, and took a sip. Not that bad! In fact, the cookies and cream flavor is delicious. Other uses: sprinkling the vanilla on cereal or oatmeal. 25g of protein in just 1 scoop and it keeps me full during a workout. My muscles are coming out to play this year! Woohoo!

IMG_34702) Juice Plus. I came across this product in one of my OCR groups. A lot of the athletes are taking it and from what I hear, are getting great results and swear by it. So…naturally, I researched it, inquired, and decided to give it a try. I know I don’t get enough fruits and vegetables daily. I mean, how am I supposed to stuff 20 servings down my throat every day!? I’d be eating all day! So that’s where Juice Plus comes in. It fills in the holes when I don’t get enough. It keeps me energized, it helps me recover, and it contains all the nutrients that fruits and veggies have for my body! I think I can jive with that 🙂 And after taking it for almost 2 weeks, I am definitely starting to feel a difference. Skin is healthier, I feel energized, and I think I can say I feel like I am getting the necessary nutrients my body needs to keep healthy. Stay tuned for more results…

3) It was time for an upgrade. I’ve been wanting a GPS watch for a while now, since I can’t take my phone with me on the courses. That where Suunto Ambit2R Watch & Heart Rate Monitor came in. The watch not only looks awesome but will serve a greater purpose of keeping track of my pace while on the course so I don’t have to 1) bother the volunteers by asking the time and 2) do math. I’ve also been working with my trainer on using a heart rate monitor. Now this will be a learning curve. I think I might just have to do a new blog post on just my heart! IMG_3626

4) The Food Journal has made a triumphant return! Granted, I can’t seem to physically write it down, so I’ve discovered and LOVE MyFitness Pal. It’s online, really easy to use, and practically has everything I eat already logged in for calories, carbs, fat, protein, etc. Set your goals, stay within the guidelines, and boom…you’ll start losing weight in no time! I’m down 3 pounds in 2 weeks!

5) For my birthday, my brother got me the FitBit Flex. It is so fun! He picked a great color, red, and every day I try and get to my 10,000 steps goal. (15,000 steps = 7 miles) I really enjoy it. It’s a fun mind game to try and meet your goal, compete against friends, setup weekly challenges and hey…even track your sleep! Now that’s cool!

 

All in all, I think I am pretty well geared up for 2015. I look forward to sharing how these 5 new products effect my training.

A World Record Attempt – Justin Anderson

My friend and trainer, Justin Anderson, will be doing something epic on February 28th, 2015. He’ll be going for the Guinness Book of World Record for the most amount of burpees completed in 24 hours. The record currently stands at 10,110 (which was actually just completed yesterday) and Justin hopes to complete 12,000! I don’t know about you, but that’s crazy! Does it surprise me that he’s attempting such a record? No. He is the type of person who lives by extremes, so I expect to add world record holder to the adjectives used to describe him soon.

I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to be a part of this event. Helping out with social media and PR, not to mention, the responsible one who’ll be recording the whole event for Guinness to review. Though, that is what terrifies me! I am crossing all my fingers and toes and my computer and cameras choose to work perfectly for all 24 hours. I will be a dead person if I screw this part up! It’s been a pleasure editing together video trailers, flyers and posters, press releases and assembling photos to use as social media graphics. It’s a nice distraction from my usual 9 to 5 sometimes.

Here is the most recent video I put together from one of his training sessions (5 hours, 3,105 burpees completed)

And I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t take this opportunity to plug the event.

The 24 hour live event will be held at the UFC Gym in Alexandria, VA (528 N Henry Street) on Saturday, February 28th starting at 8:00am est. In addition to going for the world record title, Justin is using this opportunity to also raise money for a charity he’s been supporting since 2013, Team Nicholas. Team Nicholas is named after a brave little boy who lost his battle to leukemia in 2012 and the charity supports families facing long-term ICU stays. A fundraising goal of $12,000 has been set. The event will also be live streamed on USTREAM.

Sponsors, fans, volunteers, friends and family…it’ll be quite the event and I can only hope a very very successful one! Keep an eye out for press, interviews, and more videos to come out soon with  more information about the event.

To make a donation: http://www.gofundme.com/cnyw1c

To follow Justin, his training, and prep for the event: https://www.facebook.com/JandersonOCR77

Event RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/1576301029250571/