Tag Archives: Dallas

Battlefrog Redemption

By: Travis E. Blythe

The Ultimate Transformation Tuesday!

I started writing a blog a couple weeks back about my first experience with Battlefrog and how it “took my soul” away from me at the Houston race.  But now fast forward a couple of week and and instead of reviewing the Dallas race, I thought I would just write down how I felt I transformed myself after both of these races. There really are no before and after pictures or some incredible physical change that took place, no this rather is a transformation of my mind, will and determination.

Houston

So a quick overview of the Houston race, I think I was just a little to over confident. I went into that race thinking I was ready to run in the “elite” wave, even in the Masters division. Competing against the 40 and over crowd seemed doable. I was so sure I was going to get at least 3rd place. I mean I have been training hard, I have been running well at other events and I was all about “chasing the money”.  Then the race started, the most brutal ORC/mudrun I have ever attempted in my life. I know I have done some hard Spartan Races, but the fact we had to do 2-4.8 mile laps with roughly 68 obstacles, was just exhausting.

But this is also a mental game as much as a physical one. Case in point, I lost my bracelet pretty early on (10th obstacle) and after that, I was mentally defeated. I let that defeat creep into my mind and even though I finished my 2-laps and I attempted all of the obstacles, my head was not in it. I barely attempted things and used the I am so tired excuse, but in reality looking back I wanted to finish, get my two laps in and just be done. So It did.

The Takeaway

So what did I learn? I definitely learned a few things about myself, preparing correctly and race strategy. I talked to a lot of the true “elites” in the sport and picked their brains, how they did things, technique and I learned a ton about what I did wrong. I think the biggest mistake was just being to much in “Race mode” and trying to hurry through the obstacles instead of taking my time and doing it right. So I left Houston knowing my deficiencies and what I needed to work on.

The Plan

So if you are running a battlefrog and you want to know what you should spend some extra time training on? Then my answer to you is grip strength! The jerry can carry is no joke and having to do it twice is a beating. So I bought 2 cans, I filled them with water and I weighed them and they are 55lbs each. I simulated the distance of the Houston race and practiced carrying them. I would even do it twice sandwiched between a 4 mile run. Started running with the wreck bag and playing on more monkey bars. I have to admit I was lacking on that. I also put my gripmaster in the car and I drive around all day squeezing it!

The second phase for me was to attack the course very methodically. I was really nervous about several of the obstacles, but I knew if I took my time and did not rush I could be okay. Knowing the location of the Dallas race, I knew it wasn’t too hilly, so I figured I could make up time on the running after a slow obstacle. The object was just to finish anyway. No stress on trying to get on the podium or win the race, I just wanted to finish with bracelet.

Dallas

One of the greatest parts of being in the sport is that all of the people you meet are really some amazing people. I meet new people every week it seems and my core group of friends are some of the most supportive I have ever met. So here we are at the starting line and it is like the who’s who of racing toeing the line. I always think “what on earth am I doing here?”, but not today, because I am only racing the Masters division, the 40+ guys. I know I belong, I am only getting better with every race, I have a plan.

Lap one

20150415215845The race starts and off we go, with every obstacle my confidence is growing. The wreck bag carries seem so easy now, I run with that 50lb bag like it is nothing. My first major test was the “Bridge over River Cry”, I couldn’t get this one in Houston, but it was real early in the race, so I still had a ton of grip strength. As I approach, I see that Isaiah Vidal failed once and was still in line waiting to go again. No worries though..I got this. Three rings from the top I look away from the task at hand to see where the pole was and I missed grabbing a rung and I slipped and fell. All I could think was, oh hell here we go again. But I got out, got back in line and kept telling myself to be patient and calm. Nailed it on the second attempt!

Then my friend Melissa who was volunteering gave me the mantra of the day “Not Today!” Not today was my new theme, not today will they be taking my bracelet, not today will I fail, not today will this course beat me!

The rest of the obstacles were just flying by, one after another I was pushing through them without any difficulty. Even the dreaded jerry can carry. I stuck to my slow and steady plan, don’t burn out the arms was all I could think of. Then before I knew it I was at 5 miles, I came up on the rope climb, nerves setting in because this is my worst obstacle, nailed it. At this point I am like wow, I can see the finish area, two major obstacles left before lap two. Confidence is growing. I dominated the “Tip of the Spear” and rolled through the “Monkey Bars” on my first try. I think I let out a slight yell and a fist pump as I ran on to the next lap. I am thinking holy shit, I just did the lap and I have my bracelet.

Lap one: 1:18:38

Lap Two

I think the endorphins of doing so well on the first lap were at an all time high and I think it helped me on lap two. I set a goal, just duplicate lap one and I would be happy with that. I knew the course now, where the flat parts were, where I could rest my strength and where I could run just a bit faster. Most of lap two was a blur, I was smoking the course, “Bridge over River Cry” one shot and over! I saw Melissa immediately after and I ran over and gave her a big hug, kissed her cheek and I said “Not Today!” I showed her I still had the bracelet and I ran off!

I was so ecstatic after that, I remember feeling like superman, because I was just crushing these obstacles, one by one, I was 5 min ahead of the first lap when I got to the jerry cans for the second lap. Stick to the plan, don’t get too far ahead of yourself, save your strength.

I was closing in on the end of the race, I was running great, faster on lap two, then the wheels fell off.  I came upon the rope climb. The ropes were horrible, muddy, wet and a ton of people around trying and not succeeding. I ran in to one of my friends who was still on her first lap, had been stuck there for an hour already. Another was on lap two, was in 4th place in the female elite race and she got stuck.  In the end I spent close to an hour trying to climb up the ropes. Panic started to set in, several people started piling up, several elites just looking exhausted and defeated. More kept coming, some made it up real easy and that just made me feel worse. I finally rallied one last time, not today. I got up that rope and punched the bell as I let out a primal scream, jumped down and took off for the finish.

Okay, so I just lost an hour or so, its okay, we are going to finish, there is literally nothing left I can’t do. I am still finishing! I blasted through “tip of the spear” again and headed to the monkey bars.

When people talk about gut checks and never giving up, survival instincts, I am sure mots of us roll our eyes and just say whatever. Well I spent close to 3 hours trying the monkey bars. I suffered through the cold water, shaking uncontrollably until the sun came out and warmed me up. My first run I was 2 bars from the end and I just lost my momentum and just stopped, then I was dead and I fell.  So close, I wouldn’t get that close again for hours. I remember trying to keep calm. Don’t rush it, so I waited 10 min, then 15 min intervals, then 20, then 30. I must have tried easily over 10 times. My last three attempts I gained a blister on my right hand. Worse than a blister, I had the skin ripped off and I was bleeding. My hands would not close, I had no grip strength. I was actually contemplating quitting. One by one my friends would come over and offer support, pep talks, instructions on how to defeat this. They were giving those of us left a time limit and we would be pulled off. I had the mentality that I was going to be pulled off the course before I quit.

Finally I waited 45 min before my next run. I thought my hands had one last attempt. So I went for it and it had to be possibly the ugliest crossing of monkey bars ever attempted. I wish someone would have gotten video of it. After the transition I went from straight on to sideways to backwards and pretty much back around again. I thought I was going to fall, the bar twisted and I started losing my grip, I basically did a pull up to get closer to the bars and just kept moving, Don’t stop, please don’t stop. Well I made it. I will never tell you what I was thinking about that really got me over, my motivation to make someone extremely proud, not fail can be a strong motivator when you are whupped.

I made it, “Tsunami” was a piece of cake, I finished the mud crawl and the rest is kind of a blur. I remember dancing and screaming and jumping up and down. My friend Melissa was the first person there with my medal. I got my medal and a huge hug. There were more friends there clapping and cheering and it made it all that more worth while!

Lap two: 6:04:00

Yes that is correct, over 6-hours on the second lap. I thought I would finish around 2:40:00 which would have been a podium finish and 3rd place, had I been able to get through it and not wait those couple of times. My official time was 7:22:38, that is right over 7-hours to run a 11 mile race and complete every obstacle without failing.

The Takeaway

20150415220048I bet you might be wondering WTF is with this guy and why would anyone care that I just wrote this blog. Well honestly, I find it a huge accomplishment for me. I’m a 43 year old guy who is not elite by any means, but I am not the open weekend warrior either. I am somewhere in between. I love the challenge this gave me. How it crushed my soul in Houston and I had sweet redemption in Dallas. Now I can see where I can improve. I can continue to get better and stronger by working on the things I already was working on as well as learning the techniques which would have given me a higher finish.

I can find solace in knowing that I still have a long way to go and that honestly drives me to get better. Who knew at my age I would feel this alive doing something so brutal but yet so much fun!

I found I have some of the best friends ever, we share a bond, even if we just met to days before, have been Facebook friends and never met until we spoke on the course or have bled together the last year to be better. The comradery  I have with these people is truly amazing. I can’t mention everyone who I bonded with this day, but if you helped me, I thank you. If I somehow gave you motivation to keep going, then you are welcome, but that is me, I will always be a coach at heart and a motivator.

Until the next event! See you on the flip side!

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Trade Show Marketing 1.1

By: Travis E. Blythe

In an earlier post, I outlined what I thought were the three main steps or stages involved in a trade show conference.  In this section, I am going to talk about the first step.  This is normally called the “Planning Stage”, and hopefully you don’t wait until the last-minute to schedule your conference or trade show.  With that being said, the planning stage is one of the most important stages.  It is here, you create the awareness of your company being in attendance and where people can find you at the conference.

Okay, you signed up to be an exhibitor at the best trade show of the year.  You sold the powers that be, this conference is the “be all to end all” conferences your company needs to be at and needs to have an exhibitor/booth space.  Everyone is usually skeptical (I mean the CEO/President/Owners) because they think they are throwing money away and no one really works a booth or they can’t measure the ROI.  Well, you haven’t met me or my tactics for trade show marketing yet and I can usually always bring home some business.  One of the first items of business is to make sure you post on your website exactly what conferences you plan on attending for the year.  This is important, especially if you have a strong client interaction with your website, some clients may see you going to a particular event they didn’t know about and will thank you.  The second step is to get the attendee list once you pay your money for the exhibit space.

Now that you have the attendee list, item number one is to send out the “Email Blast” to all the attendee’s telling them exactly where they can find you and what prizes you have to offer to get them to stop by.  Make sure you entice with a big-ticket item (something they think they can win) and an awesome give away item (like a cool, hip t-shirt).  Just don’t SPAM the email though, address them individually and don’t let them know you mass emailed it.  There are several programs out there that do this. If not, then send them all separately if you have the resources.  With today’s Social Media taking off the way that it is, you should try to look up all the people you want to target, or all the attendee’s you want business from on Linkedin and Twitter.  Send them invites to connect or follow them.  I would also include in the email ways they can find your company on social media. Engage them to connect with you.

When you have the proper time to plan for the conference, study the schedule and whether you will have time to entertain clients.  Find out what current clients or potential clients are going and set up dinners.  There is nothing worse than to arrive to a conference and have nothing lined up or trying to do it the same day.  Most everyone will have plans and you will end up waiting for everyone to return before you can engage and entertain them.

The next part of the planning stage, which is important is packing up all the materials you will need to be successful.  The number one item is obviously the business card.  Make sure you have all of your company’s literature, a nice 1-page graphic of the prize you are giving away, a bowl for business cards, business card holders, pens, and what I like to call the contact sheet (for those who forget or run out of business cards).  Because I never trusted the other sales reps who attended the trade shows with me to be as responsible as I am, I usually brought all the stuff with me even though some of it is packed inside the booth already.  Somehow the trade show booth fiery always lost or broke something.  Also, don’t forget to have all the “swag” shipped to your conference so you actually have stuff to give away.

One last food for thought is to make sure you have booked your travel.  Scout ahead of time to see if you need transportation from the airport (if flying) or if there is a shuttle to conference site. Show the boss you saved money by booking 2-3 weeks out. Same for the hotels, most conferences offer a conference rate to stay at the hotel where the conference is located or one relatively close.  I understand there maybe cheaper places to stay just down the road, but remember you have to be traveling back and forth sometimes and it can be a pain if you are 5 miles away.  Especially when you are lugging around supplies, laptops or want to change your clothes when the exhibit hall closes for the day.

If you follow these steps, you should be very prepared for your conference or trade show and ready to conquer!

Enjoy your conference and safe travels!

Next up Trade Show Marketing 1.2 – The Show

Is Your On-Line or Social Media Marketing Like a Texas Snowfall?

By: Travis E. Blythe

If you live in Dallas or the DFW Metroplex, you can pretty much count on having snow fall at least once a year. In most areas of the country, this is not a bad thing and usually it is not anything to worry about.  However, if you live in Dallas you are very familiar with the nightmare which encompasses our yearly snowfall. Most of us weigh the options of whether or not to travel and venture out into the city.  People who are used to snow and wintry conditions usually fail to understand is that we don’t have salt trucks, we don’t have snow plows, what we do have are a few trucks that are able to dump sand and dirt over the top of the snow and ice that accumulates. We all know that is really not a solution for the problem, but rather a temporary fix to get through the problem.
 
Has your online marketing turned into a nightmare? With all of the buzz surrounding social media and how to effectively utilize it within your business model, are you reluctant to travel out into it?  Are you worried that you do not have the tools to properly engage your clients and potential new customers?  Are you putting a little “dirt” on the problem hoping for a quick fix to get you by?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, maybe it is time to invest either your time or your finances to learn how to effectively approach your social media or online marketing efforts. Normally when you head out into the cold, snow and ice, you make sure you are prepared.  You check your tires, make sure you have plenty of gas, you dress properly and then hope for the best. Your marketing strategies should also have plenty of preparation.  You need to make sure that you are ready to launch the campaign in order to make it successful, you have the time to invest, and you utilize all the tools available to you.
 
It is pretty comical how the “local residents” in Dallas-Ft. Worth tend to drive when we get our annual snowfall or “wintry mix”, as they call it. Since this happens once a year for a maximum of two days, no one has any experience in driving in snow, ice, and slush.  This makes it even more hazardous to the rest of us that do know how. I am always amazed at how I see people get stuck for driving too slow, or they can’t go up a hill because they are driving to slow. I thought it was common sense to utilize traction when driving on ice, but here in Texas apparently it is not.  When you approach how you want to market yourself, you should also be experienced in what you are doing and know what you want to accomplish. We all have several “pains” from the previous marketing experience or the latest efforts.  Don’t get caught going too slow when it comes to your social media and online marketing. You need to make sure you are 100% invested in seeing it through otherwise it will be a waste of time and money.  The last thing you want to happen is to start your social media campaign and stall half way through because you didn’t have the tools to execute or you “ran out of gas” along the way.  Make sure you have the traction you need to gain the optimum results you are looking for.
 
I could go on and on about the six ways for this, the six things for that, what to do to get started and how to go about your marketing efforts in order to be successful.  However, the plain truth is, you should consult someone who is experienced in this field. You could spend all day shoveling snow out of your driveway, or you could use a snow-blower and have it done within the hour.  After all, you are a business owner and the proverbial phrase “time is money” definitely applies here and your main goal is to find creative ways to increase revenue and build your business.
 
With a new year looming around the corner, are you prepared to get back out on the roads? Are you ready and prepared for a successful marketing plan? Don’t just sit at home and wait for the weather to clear.  I guarantee your competitors are not waiting.