Tuesday, April 26, 2016

BattleFrog BFX24 Miami.....Facing the Truth About My OCR Addiction

When I helped cover the BattleFrog BFX24 for Mud Run Guide (MRG) last month in Miami I knew it would be a great new experience.  Every race seems to bring out some new perspective on Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) for me.  I certainly expected this to be no different.  What I couldn't predict though was how surprising that insight would be for me personally.

I know we've all read the stories that begin with "Hello, my name is (fill in the blank) and I'm addicted to OCR".  Almost did that myself....several times.  And for years now I have suffered under the illusion that I was slightly obsessed with  (OCR).  I mean, that's all I seemed to be talking about most of the time.  Certainly most of my free time revolved around finding...training for...planning for...traveling to...running...OCR races.  Not to mention writing and posting photos afterward!  That weekend though, I learned the real meaning of the word for me.

So let's start with the definitions.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the two terms:

A state in which someone thinks about someone or something constantly or frequently, especially in a way that is not normal.
[editor's note: for the purpose of this story, we will overlook the fact that the writer frequently thinks about things in a way that would be considered particularly abnormal]

A strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something.
 [editor's note: Ibid. "Obsession"]

Interestingly, this was a race I never expected to be running in the first place.  One, because I hadn't even known there was a regular race Saturday.  If I had, it's likely I wouldn't have been covering the BFX24!  Second, because when I did find out there was a Saturday race, it was in the middle of the night....while out on the course about as far away from the pit area and my car as you could get.  And I was alright with that....disappointed, but alright.  I was enjoying the whole experience so I chalked it up as a missed opportunity...nothing to be done about it.

What happened at daybreak the next day though really put this all into a new perspective for me.  After a short nap in the back of the car...surprisingly, more to rest my back than from being tired...I was up again around 6am.  After heading to the beach to see the sunrise and watch a few racers still chugging along, I headed over towards the festival area.  And that's where it happened!!

As I approached the festival area, long before I could see it I heard the familiar blaring music....by the way, AC/DC seems to be a staple on all the Pump-You-Up play lists.  Then I could see the people.  Racers milling about, making last minute adjustments...stretching...heading over towards the start corral.  A palpable buzz in the air.  Hearing Coach Pain delivering another motivational sendoff.  Suddenly, I was no longer thinking about the BFX24 still going on all around me.  I was watching the first wave go off and then....well, then it all gets a bit fuzzy.

When you're obsessed about OCR, you do strange things.  Like getting at the venue seven hours before your start time.  Spending four hours the night before a race; planning, sorting, packing, repacking......going over every detail.  One day you realize after a meeting that you just told your boss your goals for next year were to increase your squat weight, work on your downhill running technique and improve your grip strength.  But it seems to me that when you're obsessed, you still have some control....I think....maybe....

Not so much though when you have a true addiction.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm fine at home...or at work.  I have no compulsion to check on the latest news or sign up for any race I can find within a days drive.  I don't wear racing shorts under my street clothes.  But hearing that music and Coach Pain and standing under the starting arch taking photos of the first wave.  Next thing I knew....there I was, a race packet in my hand, heading back to change into what little race gear I had with me.  And explaining to Margaret (my MRG editor, OCR friend and on-site boss for this event) that I would be ummm, off-duty, for a little bit.  Without the sense to even take off my MRG shirt!  I had to do this course.....had to.....had to.....

In my OCR career, I've only been at one event that I didn't race...the 2015 OCRWC.  But that was only after fifty-ish hours working on the build, right up until 9pm the night before.  And race day was going to be near freezing, on a course that would be wasted on my injured shoulder and knees.  Yet, even then...even then....when I showed up race day to do some photography on my own, the urge was so strong to get out there...just to see what I had in me that day.  I should have realized at that point....I should seek help....immediately!!

And just a few weeks before the OCRWC, I'd run six weekends in a row, the last four after dislocating my shoulder at a race (and believe me, I am way too old for that to make any sense at all).  I won't even talk about the shape my leg was in from Wintergreen when I did the race at Asheville the following week.  There was always some excuse though...it's the last race in the series...I've waited years to race at this venue...you're already here...you're already dirty...I can't just skip it because parts of me are falling off.  Don't be a wimp!!

 And that's the way it's been for years now.  It was inevitable though that I had to face up to it sometime.  But you know.....I feel a whole lot better now.....free-er.....that feeling of being cleansed.....of finally getting something out in the open.  Of understanding and accepting myself.

I suppose now it is time to say:

Hello, my name is John......and I'm an OCR addict....

It is with great hope that my friends, my family, MRG and the OCR community will respect this life choice and also accept me for who and what I am.  Is that asking too much??!!  So, until the music starts at the next race......

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