Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Let me make mistakes so you don't have to - Obstacle racing in contact lenses

A few weeks ago I made an appointment to get some new glasses.  As I explained to the eye doc how I lost my old pair of glasses in lake Nicaragua during Fuego y Agua a blank look came over her face.  "You were doing what when you lost your glasses!??"  Yes, I was wading in a lake and the lake was more like an ocean and a wave knocked them off my face.  I couldn't see long distance for the rest of the race and subsequently got lost on a volcano....

Last known photo of my glasses!  LOL!  Fuego y Agua race just before the lake.

As the doc stares at me like I'm crazy a smile begins to crack... "you need contacts" 
I had never wanted contacts before because I have really sensitive eyes and was worried about putting them in and taking them out. My eye doctor convinced me otherwise and also convinced me that they would be the perfect solution to me not being able to see at my races.  I told her about the mud, the water, the smoke and the dust involved in my races and she still seemed to believe contacts would be great so I gave them a try.

Since then my contacts have completed two Spartan Sprints, and one GoRuck.

The first day I wore my contacts I was thrilled.  I could see the entire race course,  I could wear cheap sunglasses over them and not care if they got muddy, I could recognise my friends in the crowd!  This was awesome!  Saturday went by flawlessly and while my eyes were a little dry from the long day I was very happy with my contacts. 

Saturday pre-race.  Thank you Navy Federal Credit Union for this cheap pair of sunglasses! They were a perfect way to protect my contacts and eyes :)

Sunday started out the same until I hit my spear throw!  I was so excited that I hit my spear I flew through the traverse wall and literally dove head first into the underground mud tunnels!  I emerged covered in mud and totally blind.  I could not see ANYTHING and my eyes were on fire!  I stood up and stumbled forward until I ran straight into the camoflauge netting seperating the next half of the tunnel.   " I cant see!!"  I yelled.  "I'm blind!"  somehow I made it out of the tunnels and continued to stumble forward, literally wobbling as the mud was thick and I couldn't see my foot placement!  Was this going to end my race??? I was horrified as with my spear I had moved into first place!!  "Help!!"  Somehow from the sidelines someone yelled for me to walk over.  I slowly made my way right and someone placed a water bottle in my hand.  I dumped it over my eyes and my right eye began to open up again.  Light... i can see light!.  Out of my left I could see only darkness but my right was good enough to make out shapes.  I approached the slippery wall and began to grab for a rope.  "Go to the right,  go up the right"  people yelled at me from the sidelines.  I moved right a few feet and began climbing.  I made it over the wall. 
The rest of the race was a muddy, painful, and amazing blur!  I ran with my left eye closed and my right eye squinted, feeling pretty stupid. 
As a first time contact user I forgot to bring any solution or eye drops for after the race, I didn't even have a mirror so I could take them out.  Big mistake.  My eyes were gooy and red for days after the race. 

Mud face :)

So with Texas this weekend i am going to attempt the contacts again with some things in mind.  This may sound like common sense for long time contact lens wearers but it was a big lesson for me. 
I recommend the following things:

1.  No matter how excited or pumped you are about the race, DO NOT jump face first into the mud pit!
2. Bring an after race contact cleanup/recovery kit: water, contact solution, eye drops, and a mirror to take them out.
3. If you have prescription glasses or sunglasses to wear in case your contacts fail - BRING THEM
4. If you are wearing contacts, get some cheap dollar store or gas station sunglasses to wear over them.  Saturday I feel this helped protect my eyes.  Sunday I didn't have them. 
5.  Ask you eye doc which lenses might work best for races.  Mine recommended disposable in case I lost or damaged them... and I have done all of the above.  I lost one about 5 hours into GoRuck friday night :)
6.  Have fun!

O.K. Good luck racers.  See you in Texas :)

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