Monday, April 1, 2013

5K Foam Fest Miami - February 2, 2013

Because Ray and I had so much fun running the Warrior Dash, and even more fun running the Run For Your Lives Zombie Infested 5K (despite my ridiculous knack for getting hurt), everytime either one of us gets an email about a new obstacle run or mud run, our interest gets piqued.

So when we got an email from the makers of the 5K Foam Fest, we immediately began getting excited to get out there and challenge ourselves again.

5K Foam Fest is like other mud runs, with climbing obstacles, electricity, barbed wire, and mud. But then they have added a new spin to the idea and have included a number of inflatable bounce-houses, slides and other obstacles which they have filled with foam (soapy bubbles). Think Slip and Slide meets child's bounce house party, but for adults. With a 5k run.

And things like this beast of a water slide.

And a medal at the end.

And beer.

Leading up to the actual event was not so great. I kept getting the nagging feeling that the promotions company was sub-par. We got an email about being registered. Then we got an email that the registration had inadvertedly left off some fees for mandatory insurance so we had to give them more money or we couldn't run. Then we go another email a few days later that reminded us that parking was $20 per car, and if we didn't pay the parking we couldn't get into the lot, and we probably wouldn't be able to run. Then a few days later we got another email saying that we had to make sure that we signed waivers (which took away their liability should we get hurt) and that if we didn't bring them on the day of, they would have some available for us, for a $5 fee. If we didn't sign them or pay the fee for a copy of the paper, we couldn't run. Then we got an email reminding us to bring cash to the event so that we could buy some of their merchandise. Then the day before the event, we got emails telling us that there would be photographers on the course and for a $5 fee we could take home the photos on the day of the event as they would be printing them on site.

Each of these things seems reasonable enough when separated out as isolated incidents, but because it was always one thing after another, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth, feeling as if we were being nickle and dimed.

When I go to a race, even if I know that there is no charitable aspect involved in it and we are doing little more than lining the pockets of the promotions company, I still want to be treated with respect, and like more than just a paycheck.

So Ray took to emailing them. And the woman he was corresponding with was seriously lacking in the customer service department.

I am high anxiety to begin with, but the idea of running at an event where there was poor customer service combined with feeling like we were being treated as just a way to bring in some fast cash had me dreading my participation in the week leading up to the event. I began to worry that they wouldn't be giving us what we paid for, that the obstacles might be dangerous, that we wouldn't have a good time, that the promo company would just flake out altogether (which did happen at a race that we were signed up for in October but we never actually participated in), and that it was going to be an all around disaster. And then there is the fear of personal injury.

I can understand a little bit of disorganization at an event. Perhaps there are not enough volunteers to hand out water. Perhaps the course is damaged so it bottlenecks too much and creates a traffic jam. Perhaps the weather is awful. But when you see disorganization and a lack of appropriate response to participants legitimate concerns, this could be a sign of a bigger crack in the system. And at an obstacle race, these cracks can lead to devastating injuries.

And me, considering that I seem to get injured just walking out of my house in the morning and I manage to find any possible hole in the ground within 50 yards of me, I dreaded being put in a situation where I could wind up getting hurt.

But our fears were for naught.

Me with Ray, David, Kevin and Shannon
We carpooled with our friends Shannon, Kevin and David (to split the $20 parking fee), and we arrived to find a much more organized event than we had thought we would find. Sure, there wasn't as much of a pre-race party atmosphere as we had been promised leading up to the event, but it was still early in the morning. And it was brisk.

After checking in with registration and getting our bibs, I was somewhat saddened to learn that that as a "fun run," this would be an untimed event. I guess their website states this, but for some reason I didn't know about it before hand. While I never complete these runs thinking I will win my division based on time, I do like the idea of timing chips on these runs, because it is just one more way to challenge myself and keep myself on track and running the whole thing.

The actual run left me feeling far more impressed than the customer service leading up to it. There were plenty of really great obstacles and I felt myself having a great time. It was chilly, but there was a moment of serious cognitive dissonance because while it was so chilly, the sun was was brutal (with sunburns being imminent). I had a great time running through the mountain biking trail portions (enough fun that I might consider doing some trail running as training), but found myself having some issues when running on (supposedly) level and flat ground.

True to form, if there is a hole anywhere within spitting distance, I'm gonna put my foot right into it and roll an ankle (something that happened THREE times on this race). No serious injuries this time (thankfully), but still enough to make me cautious about where I stepped.

The only obstacle I had difficulty with were 8 foot walls that we had to scale. I knew that I needed to get my toes between the slats but they wouldn't fit, and I didn't have the upper body strength to pull myself up (I am seriously lacking in any kind of strength, let alone arm strength). I fell off of the first one and tried a second time before making it over. The second wall in the sequence had me trying multiple times before giving up and going around. I told Ray it was no big deal, I'd skip it and I'd be fine, but about 10 yards later, I was getting down on myself.

I don't want to be one of those people who does things half assed and who gives up when the going gets tough. While I'd never judge anyone else for not starting something or for giving up when they knew their me, the only thing that is worse than not trying something is quitting before absolutely necessary.

Ray saw me getting upset and he stopped me to give me a pep talk.

And I decided we needed to turn around and I needed to give that wall another fair shot. This time, I accepted his help in the form of a leg-up, I struggled to get my upper body wrapped over the top, and then pulled with all my might to get myself up and over the top.

It was only an 8 foot wall, but it might as well have been climbing Mt. Washington.

I would definitely be sore later, but at the time, I felt invincible.

I don't know how well I fared based on time. But what I lacked in that department, I made up in spirit and determination.

I earned this medal.

And the beer that went with it.


  1. I'm so proud you went back for that wall!

    1. I am too. quitting seems to be a recurring theme for me... it feels really good to be able to successfully challenge that desire to quit. thanks for reading!