I’m sure that by now, you are well and truly over it. You’ve endured the pictures, the wanky statuses, the ‘you had to be there’, jokes and the tales of our trials and tribulations on our quest to keep that little rubber band.
Well, sorry, but you’re going to have to deal with it awhile longer. I went to the OCRWC and I haven’t really been able to write about the race yet. But now I can. Lucky you.
After having a bout of injury, I was strongly considering bottling the trip to Ohio. “It’s just a race, like any other race.” I told myself, but when I finally got to the venue, exhausted from hours of driving from Chicago, I realised that this was way beyond any course I had seen before.
I resisted the temptation to have a ‘play’ on the obstacles on the Friday. I knew that I would just psych myself out. The only thing I allowed myself was a hop atop the sternum checker (clambering rather than jumping), because hell, if I couldn’t do them on Friday, I wouldn’t be any more adept on the Saturday.
With registration an absolute breeze, I took in the briefing and retired to my room (or my fortress of solitude) to attempt a decent night’s sleep.
On the morning of the race, I felt a mixture of cold and dread, closely followed by abject despair as we neared the venue and the car temperature gauge started peeping about just how nippy it was. The course was covered in a thin layer of frost, and the paddock was dotted with people huddled around flaming oil barrels, like extras from a Gotham City Ghetto scene in Batman. As luck would have it, I had made the trip with almost a hundred pals, so it wasn’t hard to nestle into a group of equally terrified competitors.
We gathered to watch the ‘elite’ women start, and it was then that I started to become a little more taken in by the atmosphere, the motivational growl of Coach Pain, the start line MC. Seeing the strong field of first wave girls hurtle off into the hills made me feel woefully inadequate, but maybe also the tiniest bit excited that I was going to get to play on some seriously impressive obstacles. Starting off with Holly and Hatti made me feel pretty good though – Hatti was on top form shouting encouragement whilst competing herself, and Holly is a brilliant pace setter, who has gotten stronger and stronger as the season has progressed. I was sad to leave them at the Dragon’s Back, but my ‘don’t think, just jump’ mantra had me over it in seconds, and I had started to get cold (yes, already) waiting as they were stuck behind teary, hesitant runners.
I’m not going to take you through each mile of the race and bore you to death about the undulating terrain and the killer hills –there are more than enough walkthroughs, google earth virtual rundowns and emotive videos – suffice to say, the obstacles were TOUGH and the hills were even TOUGHER. It felt like the longest race I had ever done, not entirely from a physical perspective but from a mental one too. I think I was categorically ‘over it’ from about mile three. It was so cold that I saw people vomiting and passing out from hypothermia – I myself was turning into a bit of a human statue after finding out that my new gear was retaining water like a PMT ridden teenager with an unforgiving outfit to squeeze into the next day. I was horribly uncomfortable and reduced to wearing a foil blanket for about 2 miles. It also really hurt to not be able to assist anybody – even being told that I would receive a penalty for assisting someone who had lost their band. I completely understand why assistance wasn’t allowed pre-band loss, but for me, it detracts from the spirit of the sport not to be able to help each other out after the bands had gone and the focus was simply on completion. It didn’t stop me forcibly snuggling a hypothermic man after a water section though – I think I needed the hug as much as he needed my rapidly deteriorating body heat.
I had initially *just* wanted to keep my band, but I quickly realised that this was an unrealistic expectation given my lack of technical training leading up to the event, and the number of totally novel obstacles that I was simply unprepared for. The goal instantly became survival. I didn’t even care about failing obstacles past a certain point, as I saw large queues forming at oft-failed obstacles, and I cared much more about not dying of hypothermia than I did about a four minute penalty. That’s not to say I didn’t have a swift sob about having my band cut – it was oddly ceremonial.
A lot of people have asked me whether I enjoyed the race. The answer is, I’m honestly not sure. I’m so grateful for the opportunity, I’m so proud that I worked so hard to get myself there, and I had an absolutely fantastic time ‘off course’ with people that I am so lucky to have in my life.
Basically I have a lot of feelings that I don’t think I have fully processed yet about what this means for my training, technique, plans and even the races that I’m going to take on next year. All I know is, that there can be no off season.
(I must say, that whilst this sounds terribly depressing, the feels that I had on the course were muuuuch elevated after Sunday’s team event, but that’s a story for another day).