Total Pageviews

Monday, February 18, 2013

DNF aka don't be that person

I consider myself the queen of self depreciation
I gladly wear that crown...
but
I never want to be known as the queen of excuses....

See an excuse for failing is like a band aid for herpes... not necessary

Any excuse you verbalize or put in writing,
unless stated out loud during a philosophical moment while pooping or written down in your pretty pink diary 
well the excuse isn't for you..
if it was why the hell are ya putting it on FB?
nah, if your writing it in a blog, or your posting it on FB
well that excuse is for everyone else...

I have learned one or two things in my life
and it took me some time to learn these things I share in my blog...trust me I am FAR from perfect...I mean really really FAR from perfect and I have beaten myself up over my failures,,,
but
I have learned that no one really gives a crap if you finish a race or not
because most people just aren't into gloating over other peoples defeats
unless of course the person being defeated is an ass

Most of us like celebrating other people's triumphs...
it makes us feel good...
see a friend post a pic of themselves at finish line rockin a great big goofy grin and we find ourselves wearing that same big goofy grin. 
Read about someone overcoming adversity or someone beating the odds and it makes us feel like we are part of something bigger than ourselves....

It feels damn good to be part of the human race when we see one of our own finish...

So WHY do so many of us feel the need to make excuses for our failures?
95% of us will experience a great big messy failure in our life
If your like me probably quite a few in fact
The majority of us are not, and never will be, part of the 5% of the population whose genetic freakishness makes them unstoppable...

Nah, the majority of us have, and or will have, at some point in our racing career:
poop our pants during an ultra
puke all over ourselves at mile 50
miss a cutoff
slip while doing some crazy ass obstacle and fall in a pit of cold, dirty water...
or just decide
"I have had enough"
and quit

The majority of us, through no real fault of our own, spend a good amount of time covered in some sort of proverbial shit...it is the result of being human
and during these times many of us just have to say:
"enough already....
 I am just not capable at this moment to keep moving on...
I need to stop and get off this ride"
and we quit.

We all have been
and we will be again...
afraid
and we will quit
cold
and we will quit
sore
and we will quit
tired
and we will quit

Yep we are going to QUIT and there is no excuse EVER for quitting other than...
well
you quit...

If  a race has at least one finisher and its not you... well... you don't really have an excuse for why it wasn't you... other than you did not finish..

Why do we have to feel so embarrassed by our failures that we need to tell our fiends and often times perfect strangers all these reasons for the fact that we did not finish? 

I say lets embrace our DNF's
it is a DNF not a DNS
you my friend started the race...
and that is more than half the battle...

When you don't finish a race
don't waste your breath with the million and one excuses why...
own your DNF
its yours and it means something
if you are at all cognizant of the world around you well then your DNF has probably taught you a valuable lesson
learn from it
and say:

I did not finish...
but you know what?
I will be back to try again


Friday, February 15, 2013

Training Starts TODAY! aka actually was training supposed to start last Tuesday? hmmm

OK so its time to get serious here people...no more lallygagging...
I was at this exact point last year where I distinctly remember telling KZ
"oh yep training starts now...up early in the morning for a run in fact at least 2 times a week I am gonna get up an hour early...at 4 am and run the 12 miles to school and then home after....then gym after work serious lifting to build up my quads and hammies...then a second long run or treadmill workout each evening ..yep over 100 miles a week...and I am cutting back on my wine and sugar and emotional eating...yep totally getting over this depression and BDD...I can't focus on training to run 500 miles with an eating disorder...I will just make it disappear in a haze of running and training....
nothing is standing in my way
HERE I GO
WATCH OUT WORLD!!!
and then I had an anxiety attack and proceeded to eat a jar of almond butter and crawl in bed and cry....
hmmmm

my lack of training and my emotional state led me to my PEAK failure...370 miles...DNF...
now truthfully it was my favorite DNF of all time....and I have had a few ; ) and I call it a failure but I am not now and never have beat myself up over it..no excuse other than I did not finsih 500 cuz I could not do it : ).still..I want that finish...and I think I can do it if I keep trying...it is my goal..it is my big thing..it has meaning to me and damn if I care about what anyone else thinks about it..I want that 500 because of something I am keeping to myself...last year for those 10 days I kept off FB and I just ran...I was not involved in the brouhaha going on around me..I just wanted to run...I love FB : ) I love posting the stupid things I do and reading about my friends triumphs and joys...but in terms of PEAK I want to be left alone to cover those miles and then I want to hug Andy get my PEAK 500 belt buckle...get in the truck with Doc and go home...

Now to be honest and I know it is silly but I have always had a secret dream of being sponsored by Salomon...I have only wore their pro 3d sneaks since I started trail running in 2007...by sponsored I just want to be known as someone who runs only in Salomon sneakers and feels strongly about them as the best shoe out there for people with strange monkey feet like mine : ) I am not good enough to even dream this...but I do...I also dream about owning my own trail running lodge and having the ability to fly...so as you can see my dreams are like my appetite.... far bigger then they should be for my own good....

but what the hay..isn't there some bumper sticker out there that says "Dream Big"?  It's not like I dream of world domination or anything...still I think it is time to stop making these huge plans and huge claims and huge plates of food and instead
take it slow
baby steps if you will...
so instead of planning out this amazing training schedule of 100 miles a week where I get up at 3 am and run to work in the dark carrying a cement block while I FB pictures of myself with the caption..."crushing it" or Badass on the trail" (oh I kind of like that though ; ) and beat myself up when I fail to run or train because I have an anxiety attack or BDD breakdown...

instead

I am gonna wake up every day with the goal to try to do something positive for my body and my soul....
so the first thing I did today was make the decision to cut out Atkins bars as my daily snack and instead eat "real food".

just a baby step..

Tomorrow when I get paid I am signing up for a month of unlimited yoga

baby steps

Friday I am going to North Conway with Doc and Saturday while he ice climbs I plan on snowshoeing some real mtns....no distance in mind...just do it till I don't want to anymore

baby steps

and if I want to run to school with a cement block at 3 am on a Tuesday morning...

I do it...

I am my own worst enemy..
I beat myself down more than anyone else has or even can....
so I am gonna TRY to be nicer to me....
and when I am not...
I will forgive me ....
and start again

baby steps



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Winter Death Race Finale

So those poor souls are still at the river...back and forth they go from one shore to another cold, tired only to have to repeat burpees over and over again...

one point to make here...there are I believe 3 women left at this point...Nele, Melody and Yesel...These are NOT gigantic women...Yesel is a tiny little sweet pea and they did not give up...there was not much body fat on these three and they must have been suffering and yet they had the heart to keep going..they were just as cold and miserable as those of us that quit...and yet they didn't...I am in awe and so inspired by these three....they do a pretty fine job of representing women....to bad more little girls don't have access to women like these three...I say more Yesel, Melody and Nele and less Taylor Swift ; )

As the racers started to return to the greenhouse...both those still in and those that quit... I waited patiently for Doc to arrive...eyes on that green house door it seems like forever and I am worried about him and then the door opens and there he is...looking like a drowned rat and very very tired.  I sit him down and start to untie his frozen boots for him..I tell him I am so proud of him and give him a kiss on his very cold lips...he is in good spirits but quiet...I pull off his frozen shoes and socks and rub his white feet.  I ask him why he has on only one micro spike and he looks down and says "oh I must have lost it in the river" I take mine off to make sure I put them on his shoes....then I start to help him with his clothes..he is pretty much just letting me take over undressing him....and I am happy right now..I am out of the race but I am now totally focused on Doc and his continuing on...I have his pack ready and make sure he is drinking Gatorade.  I explain that when he heads outside to get the log I will continue to dress and meet him and stay with him..I just have to finalize my pack with extra stuff for him and hit the porta potty...he gives me a kiss and says thanks and is out the door...Jane makes sure I am good with stuff says good luck and I head out to pee..when I am done Doc is nowhere to be seen...I see Dan G at the top of the path and he says Doc is on the trail..I start my way down the trail kind of slower then I normally would  now that I don't have micro spikes...I move as fast as I can and up ahead I see him filling his pack with wood...he had taken out his ax and chopped up his log and stashed all the wood in his pack that he could...the remaining pieces of wood four or five he placed precariously on the top and lashed it with bungee cords.  I had to help him to get the pack on his back it was so heavy...I was worried as I know how hard it is to carry this kind of burden up Joe's mountain as I had to do it at the summer DR....but I smile and tell him that was an awesome idea to cut it up rather than drag it...WE start off towards the river.

I tell Doc to trust me and take the trail on the Amee farm side of the river to Joe's and then head up Tweed River drive to War man and straight up to the cabin...I know it is longer but it is less steep...the only real difficult part will be War man but I don't mention that to him...He says OK I trust you and we are off...it is slow and steady...we pass some people and everyone is in good spirits but generally pretty quiet just struggling with their own internal battle.  Doc does not talk as we walk...I say I am proud of you and you are doing great and keep going over and over again like a mantra...who is this for?  I am not sure...I may be saying it for me...it is hard to watch someone you love struggle and I knew that this was hard for him.  Doc runs marathons..he runs every day...but he does not run with a pack, he does not do cross fit or flip tires or carry heavy crap up and down mountains unless we go hiking together...he is a marathoner and a climber...he runs and climbs and we go to the gym together and I put him through a work out like twice a week...he is in no way shape or form prepared for this race and yet...he had made it this far...he is one of 16 people left in the race and he is still official...

Doc is hurting he asks to stop and drink water..he ASKS to stop... saying please can we stop...when I tell him he is doing great he says thank you...he is exhausted and cold and yet still continues to be positive and gracious..he knows this road...he ran up it during summer DR to try and get some water to me..he knows when I say your almost there that he is not but he continues to say thanks and keeps moving forward.  The first and only complaint I have heard from Doc for the entire race is now...he says "the wood on my shoulders is pinching me and really hurts do you think you can shift it a bit?"  I try but the wood is slashed tightly and to take it down and repack it would be difficult he says that's OK and trudges on...I know he is in a lot of pain I can see it in his face and it kills me..I try to be upbeat..I keep telling him how proud I am and I try to make him eat some fig newtons but he is not hungry.

We get to the top of Tweed and it is getting really cold I don't dare complain but try to stay upbeat..Doc asks to stop and he leans on a guard rail and he eats a GU...he is with me and yet he is somewhere else...deep inside himself...I know Doc... when he is ruminating about something he does not share his thoughts until he is sure about what he wants to say...he is one of those people who does not speak unless he has something of worth to say..he does not like to hear the sound of his own voice...I am the baby in the relationship..I often joke when he does take a moment to focus on himself "hey your forgetting that the world revolves around me...focus back on me" and he just laughs and says "oh how could I dare forget that".

We get to the trail heading up to Warman  and I know Doc is exhausted..he did not sleep the night before...Doc actually does not sleep much...when it is bed time I put in my earplugs and face mask and I fall sleep in 5 minutes, but he stays awake thinking...5 hours sleep is considered a good nights rest for Doc...still I know it is coming back to haunt him...if you are tired..the cold is magnified.  We get to the base of Warman and Doc rests on a tractor...we see headlamps and it is Don and Michelle and some other support staff I can't remember exactly as I had the only headlamp...Doc had lost his...there was much encouragement from this group and then Doc and I  were alone...I tell him that up ahead is a picnic table he can take his pack off and move the wood from the hurt shoulder into the bucket and then just carry the bucket.  He loves this idea.  When we stop at the base of the trail we see a snowmobile heading down..it is Johnny..he stops and sweet guy that he is gives encouragement to Doc and tells him the next task is mental but tough and just to stick with it...he takes off to go grab the camera women at the base of the road he will bring her up to shrek's cabin at the summit where the racers are all headed.  This last part of the hike up to the cabin was really difficult...it was very cold but actually quite beautiful..it was snowing and my headlamp would cause the snow to twinkle like fairy lights all around me...I walked ahead of Doc and would stop and call out encouragement for him...it was brutal to watch him...he was bent over and trudging..I remembered the logs from Summer DR 2011 we had to carry..the guys logs were bigger well these logs were 3 times as big..I remember seeing my ex BF on the trail of that race and he is a pretty strong dude and he was struggling.....and here was Doc carrying three times his load...

I have no idea what was going on in his mind for this last part of the hike...I never really talked about it with him..all he said after the fact was " I knew when you said you are so close that I wasn't I remembered the course from supporting you at summer, but your encouragement really helped".

When we finally make it to the summit I see Jeff, Melody, Nele, Olaf, Mark, Josh and a few dark shapes all gathered around one another....I give Doc a bottle of water and head into the cabin to warm up by the stove and Doc heads over to the others...I find out inside the cabin that they are doing some horrific puzzles and that you can't start to do them until the others who beat you to the top finish..you also have to do them with no headlamp (I gave Doc mine and now realized I have no light source) and there is some talk about doing all of this shoeless....that makes me worry as Doc said he was getting really cold having never warmed up from the river crossings...being shoeless in the snow may just be his breaking point...I stay in the shelter and talk with Jeff and Melody who are waiting their turn at the puzzle...they had finished building some sort of snow thing with their shoes as the shovel so they were trying to warm up their feet.  I found some PB J's in my pack and handed them out to the racers and support staff that were in the shelter.  I was in there for about a half hour and I wanted to go check on Doc...when i went out there he was shoeless and shaking...he looked at me and said "Mish I am done"...I said OK baby and told Andy...Don comes over and we both tell Doc to go in the shelter and warm up a bit and then decide...I take Don aside and say i want him to not regret his choice and Don says i know lets get him warmed up.

At this time I see Nele and she is done and ready to head down the mountain...they tell her to take Warman to Tweed River Drive and she does not know the way so I offer to run her back to Amee farm where she has just been told she needs to get another huge log and do the same thing all over again...I will make sure she gets there and by that time Doc will have warmed up and I can meet him on Tweed River Drive for his second assault of the mountain.  Nele and I take off..I have no micro spikes and only a tiny flashlight I put between my teeth and we set off..pretty quickly I have a bad spill and Nele is worried about me, but i do not want to go slow as she is racing...her and Melody are in it to win and I want to make sure I do not slow her down...with my ultra running experience i will admit I am pretty darn good at running up and down mountains so i was in my element...we took off and we had an awesome talk...I made sure to ask Nele if she wanted me to shut up though as some people want to just be quiet in their minds when they are doing something this challenging she said no she does not mind at all if I talk...

So I am 43 not the oldest on the DR course but one of the few older women who compete (if you call it that) I have noticed this past year I am transitioning more into a mentoring role..I felt this strong sense of protectiveness for Nele...I wanted to see her succeed because well she is just a sweet person, but more importantly she has something that is very rare...something I cannot say I have...the combination of the warrior spirit with true athletic ability...a warrior spirit I have but a truly gifted athlete?  Not in terms of DR..ultra running I think I am a strong runner but far far far from elite caliber or gifted...as I watched Nele throughout the race I saw greatness coupled with humility and graciousness of spirit... and it was an honor to witness this...

When I got to the greenhouse Nele jumped right into preparing to head back out and I was going to get food to head back up...First I made sure to ask the staff person if Doc was still in...he told me he was out and that Peter Borden was driving him off the mountain as they did not know if he could have walked out on his own....I did not feel sad to hear this..I just felt proud of him and concerned for his safety.  I talked with Jane and Todd (who had quit to help out racers)...they finally got back and Doc was helped in and laid out on a board with blankets..he looked horrible..I had to take off his shoes and socks and they were frozen solid....he looked like death and it was hard to be upbeat but I said you are fine just nap baby and I leaned over and kissed his forehead like 100 times...I had called the Swiss Farm Inn to get a room as I can't drive Doc's truck and I knew he needed a nice warm bed to sleep in.  He said he felt like he was going to throw up so could I help roll him off his back...ugh...my heart was breaking now...Todd walked over to the parking area to drive Doc's truck back and Jane helped me pack up and load the truck with all the gear...after 30 minutes I asked Doc if he could drive the 1/4 mile to Swiss Farm "he said I am not sure but I can try"
I slipped on his last pair of dry shoes...an old pair of running sneakers and helped him to the truck..Jane came and gave us both the HUGEST hugs a person could ever give...she made me feel surounded by love : ) and we were off...needless to say Doc could barely get into the bed....I could not say enough how much I loved him and he groggily said he loved me back...lights out on the Winter Death race 2012....

Summing up:

the thing about Doc is he makes me want to be a better me....

someone just the other day told me it was stupid that I call him Doc...well there is a story behind why I do and it is not necessarily because well he IS Dr. Kenefick...Doc or Bob lives his life by a very specific code..he learned this from his mentor...whom he calls "the real Doc"

This is what he wrote to me about me calling him Doc instead of Bob..




The 'real' Doc's name was Joan Finn, at least I think of her as the 'real' Doc.  I am honored to have you call me by that name and that others now are starting to know me by that name.  It's also difficult for me because when I hear 'Doc' I think of her and I miss her.  I also don't think of myself as being of the stature of 'Doc' she was such an impressive person and knew herself and what was important in life.  So when I am addressed at 'Doc'- I don't think I've earned that title- and I don't think I deserve it.  It's like being called sensei or guru, titles of honor, respect and recognition as a master- I just don't think I am there yet. But maybe it's just a nick name and I have to go with that.

So Doc would say many things that have stuck with me.  But the one thing I think of often is about how you conduct yourself every day.  You are ultimately accountable only to yourself.  At the end of the day you have to look at yourself in the mirror and know that you gave it your all, that you didn't cut corners, cheat or sell-out.  That you conducted yourself with honor and used all of the talents you have been given to help others which is your responsibility each and every day.

To many, this might sound trite, full of rhetoric but the reality is that Doc lived this way- she was the example and taught us all that we needed to live as an example also.  The hardest part in being called 'Doc' is knowing that no matter how hard I try every day to live the example, there are days that I fail but maybe that is part of the process too.  The longer I live, the more in awe I am of her, she never faltered, she lived what she preached, she stayed true to herself and those that she loved and she appreciated all that was around her.  For me, she set a very 'human' example and it's that example that I try to keep in sight and in her honor and in her memory, live up to

This my friends is why i have fallen in love with this man all over again






Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Winter Death Race part 2

I can't believe that the silliest and most most memorable part of the race I totally forgot to include...late Friday night, I have no idea exactly the time we were broke up into groups of 3 and we had to grab a huge rope  hike up and down the mountain..the kicker was were were each tied to the rope by our wrist...you could only go as fast as the group could go... Doc and I were on the front with Todd Sedlak and let me tell you we gabbed the entire time and the conversations (since it was Todd whom we were conversing with) were absolutely bizarre....the waxing of scrotum, the zen like experience of major surgery without pain medication just to name two of the conversations..Doc got a kick out of Todd...who doesn't?  I spent so much of the last summer death race suffering with him he holds a special place in my heart...the goofball...

So we are at the point in the race where things get absolutely horrific...we are told to gather up all this stuff...wood, huge wooden v shaped things, huge ropes, a bucket of old screws and screw drivers attached to a chain attached to a huge cement block and carry them down to the river.  When we get there they tell us we are building a bridge with only three screw drivers attached to chains rusty old screws and the pieces of wood...they say to get a fire started so we all start scavenging for wood and cutting and sawing felled trees...then they tell us that there is a steel I beam in the river...it spans the river and is covered with sand we need to go in the river and dig it out and remove it by hand...

OK NOTHING I  write here can ever begin to explain how tough this was...the river was freezing and the current strong we only had axes and pieces of wood and our hands to dig out the I beam..this I beam was lodged in that river...Don said you can either help build the bridge or never use it but only walk through the water for the rest of the race, or do 2000 burpees and you can use the bridge even if you don't help build it...

no one chose burpees
someone should have as we never got the bridge built : )

So a few brave souls took off their clothes and jumped right in and started to dig at the beam...Jeff Foster, Olaf, Mark Webb, Todd Sedlak to name just a few.....now here is the point in the story I am going to talk mostly about my experiences....

I got a pass from the river...Joe and Don said I did not have to go in...Joe brought me up to be interviewed about my issues with water..but then I looked out and I saw Amelia crying in the water and I knew there was no way I could not go in the water and with any conscience finish this race..I knew that by making the choice to go in the water it would mean I would probably drop out due to hypothermia..but how could I sit by when everyone was suffering?  Huge guys were huddled shivering unable to walk...I told Joe I wanted to go in and he said "you sure?" and I said yep he shrugged and said OK...

The first thing I did as I was scared was to go over the rope bridge and enter from the shallower side.  I joined Keith Glass and he held my hand as I walked through the current....we were supposed to be cutting through ice that supposedly held the far end of the I beam in place...so I started in on that..I don't know how much help I was but I felt like just suffering along with everyone else and that was what was really important.  Then we were told to get out and Joe and Don made other people take over....they started to tie a rope to the beam, and everyone would get on the rope and pull..the first time the rope broke!  They had those people get out and I got in the water again...Jeff Foster yelled at me and told me not to go in and Johnny said I did not have to go in again but I did...

We got the rope retied and pulled again...Don told me to get out and warm up which I gladly did...then back in again and both Doc and I were shivering by this time...Don yelled medical for these two and told us to go up to greenhouse and warm up...Doc could barely walk as he spent even more time then me in water...we made it to greenhouse and changed...I finished quickly and put on my only change of dry clothes and headed back down...people were fricken hurting from the river and things were getting serious people were trying to get out and Joe and Don were yelling at them to get back in...I could not just sit there and watch so when there was a group working on the bridge I went in...it was Andy, Don, Todd, Jeff and two other guys...I made my way to the end and was scared to death as the current on me was pretty strong as they tried to carry the next section of the bridge down to attached it to the second piece....the second piece started to break away and it was crushing Todd's legs and threatening to pull him down stream...Don yelled to abandon the bridge as it was collapsing and to get all the separate pieces out...I helped to carry them out and Jeff yelled at me again to get out of the water...so I did...but then we started to focus immediately on the beam and so people were told to get back in the river and grab the rope but to pull on it from an angle this time..I had on my sneaks with my micro spikes so a guy next to me barefoot was like "watch my feet!" ...we pulled and pulled but to no avail...at this point I just could not believe we would ever get this beam out...but Don and Joe kept yelling come on come on back in the water and pull!! I ran up and stood by the fire and Johnny covered me with a blanket to get warm...but everyone was suffering and Joe and Don were yelling so I went back down and got in the water and grabbed a board and pushed it under the I beam to lodge it under there to help pull it up when the people pulled on the rope...it was really hard and I was fricken freezing...Nele came in and took over for me as I was shivering up a storm...

then everyone was told to grab the rope...some guys lodged boards under the beam but most of us were now on dry land grabbing the rope...this was one f'd up tug of war!!!  We all grabbed the rope including Don and Joe, Andy, Johnny, volunteers support and race staff and Don and Joe yelled HEAVE HEAVE HEAVE and little by little it actually starts to move!!! Like 5 hours after starting this it moves 5 inches so back at it and HEAVER HEAVE HEAVE and I swear to god I can't explain how this felt but this beam actually came out of that water and we pulled that bastard up on the sand.....

There was no time to rejoice as Joe then yelled at us to gather round the fire...those that were left..already many quit and two were carried up unable to walk on their own from hypothermia...Joe said raise your hand if you think you should still be in this..I raised my hand and so did Doc...Joe called out a few racers and said nope you are unofficial...but both Doc and I were still in official...he said there are to many of you official so I need to cut some so here it is...you cross the river do 100 burpees then cross back then cross back over river and do another 100 burpees...until we reach 1000 burpees...

So across the river I went and by this time I am shivering up a storm and the cold is so bad it is tightening all my muscles..poor Doc looks exhausted...he had never in his life done a burpee before this race and now he had at least 3000 under his belt...I start to do the first set of burpees and I notice people are already done and crossing the river and I am still at 50...I am at 80 and Don yells out "who has not crossed yet?"...a few hands are up and he yells "you are all out!"

Now I know this does not really mean a thing it just means I am now unofficial..I know I can continue on..but the thought of those 10 river crossing fill me with dread...at this point I can't feel my legs or feet, but I can hobble...after 5 more will I be able to get back across the river?  For the first time in my life I made a smart decision...I knew if I quit there was no shame I overcame huge personal obstacles in this race...I also knew if I quit I could support Doc who was holding on but I knew that the cold was really affecting him...so I made the decision and got up and walked to the river...

Dan G met me and helped me across and when he saw me silently crying he whispered "smile Michelle...you smile when you walk up that river bank you have nothing to be sad about" so I smiled : )  I got loads of hugs I didn't even know from who at times and lots of you killed it in the river... nice going Michelle...it felt good...Johnny gave me a big hug and I headed up to the greenhouse after I told Jeff and Johnny to make sure Doc knows I am out but for him not to quit...they said they would watch out for him...on the walk up I ran into Ray and his wife Val and I got a huge hug and they said they would bring Doc some water...

I got to the Greenhouse and Jane gave me the biggest best hug ever...I commiserated with the other races who quit at this point and quickly changed into my one pair of clean pants...they were long underwear, and my last pair of socks..I got all of Docs stuff ready and my pack ready to become his support person...I got his clothes out, food ready as I knew he would be in bad shape when he finished this part of the race...while I was preparing I was approached by a women who had earlier told me Andy wanted me to be part of some documentary she asked if she could interview me..so I had this interview looking like I was just run through a meat grinder...then I waited for Doc to arrive.....my race may have ended but in away his had just begun..he was now racing solo no longer there to be beside me and worry about me...but role reversal it was me who would help Doc to push himself to his limits and finish this race....I felt rejuvenated..I felt blessed at this moment to have made the choices I did...

I know that the Death Race is not about finishing..
it is about holding true to yourself...
it is about pushing yourself past your comfort zone
and oh boy did I do that!
so now it is all about Doc and his journey...
I can't tell him the path to take, but I can walk beside him in this journey..
the next part of this race would make me fall in love with this man all over again...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter Death Race 2013 Part 1


I am home sitting in front of the fire and Doc is asleep beside me on the couch...his glasses on the coffee table and seeing those glasses I have to laugh....

Back story: this morning as we were driving home I was telling him that I posted something on FB about him (he never uses FB in fact I sneakily friend request people under his account that I like because I want people who I run with and do DR with to know him as well) he laughed because he always makes fun of me when I post on FB....I said "people think you’re a badass" which made him laugh even harder due to  a private joke about that saying...so he says "that's right I am a badass near sighted motherf'er"

So looking across at Doc now asleep on the couch hands folded on chest and glasses placed neatly beside him...well he has no idea just how true that statement is....

Before I begin please forgive my memory lapse the winter DR is now such a blur of activities and emotions I will probably miss many things we did or explain them out of order..bear with me on this people as I did not take notes : )

Doc and I arrived at the General Store in Pittsfield VT... checked in, grabbed our swag and headed over to Amee Farm.  We dropped our gear bins in the greenhouse (heated) it was packed with all the racers stuff you could barely move...I took some time to say hi to and hug as many people as I could get my hands on and then Peter told racers to get outside and cut and saw HUGE tree trunks....this was actually really fun... I was near Mark, Olaf and Amelia on one side and Jeff Foster on the other side...Pete St John was a little ways off so we had funny people all around us as we sawed and sawed and sawed (Doc used an ax) for about 90 minutes...then we did burpees...I can't remember how many just a lot...then we were called together and had a meeting with Andy, Peter and Don then we packed up all our gear and hiked out to the river and followed a trail to Joe's house.  When we got there we had to stow our gear, take off our shoes (many people took off layers of clothes) and Joe sent us down into the basement of the barn..this is NOT a normal basement it is gorgeous...

at this point I need to stop and share something....you may read magazine articles on Joe D and you may hear good or bad things...I am only one person with only my opinion being heard here but I need to say something...this is Joe's HOME...this is the place where he and his wife and children live...many parts of this race happen at his home and his wife's yoga studio...his children were there with us...the kids had a martial arts lesson and then they came out and hung out laughing and playing as the athletes did hours of burpees, squats, push ups and sit ups.....this is what makes this race special...you are given the chance to become part of something bigger than yourself...part of the DR family and that family includes Joe, Andy and Peters families...you become a part of their lives and they yours...how many
RD's can you say that about???

So we are in the basement and we are told we are shooting short exercise videos for Maxim upstairs so we all have to get in rows and wait for our turn...and while we wait we have to do a Spartan workout" hahaha...insane...for example we started with burpees planks...60 seconds on 20 second rest over and over and over and then it was push ups...100 in a set 20 then 3 seconds rest then 20 on and on and on...sit-ups 50 or 100 then I think 20 seconds rest…there were so many I lost count needless to say it was brutal and yet still wicked fun…yep I used the word FUN….you see you get to know so many of the racers doing DR that all the personalities come out…I could not even begin to list the names of the people I have come to love and admire through this sport…let’s just say that after 2 hours straight of these exercises I was still laughing at jokes Mark and Todd were making…I can honestly say that I was having fun for 80 % of this race and the other 20% I was in the water and you know what?  I was scared but I can say the camaraderie made it worthwhile (more on that later)

So Doc and I decided early on we would stay together for this race as much as possible…and in truth when we called out numbers to join groups we would always just ignore our number and go with one another (sorry Don and Peter B ; ) we also made sure to team up with Peter St John as much as possible…I love Peter he is an amazing guy..he can’t hear and yet there he is out there doing some of the scariest stuff you can imagine and he is never really hearing the directions just reading the lips of those around him that make sure he knows what is going on…Peter is a repeat DR athlete so Andy and Joe make sure to do there best to ensure he is told what is going on…Joe will yell out for me to make sure that Peter knows what is up..you can tell they love Peter as much as any of the racers...

So we promised to stick together for as long as we could…so when I got called up to do my video…alone…I totally freaked…I am no actress and I certainly can’t do an exercise video..I totally looked like a boob up there and could not figure out what exercise to do…I am a runner what was I gonna do run in fricken circles? Then I see Doc come up the stairs and standing with him is Jane…so I call out “Wait he is my boyfriend! Can we do something together?” and the video lady said “sure”. Bob just laughed and shook his head…so we did a quick video on our push up pull up warm up we do at the gym…I let Bob do all the talking though and kind of just stood there like his pet monkey..hehehe no different than in real life ; ) Back down stairs we went and started in on squats…then ugh jumping squats ugh!!!!  It was sooo smelly and hot in the room but still I was having a blast!  Finally Joe took all the people that were done and told us to get out stuff and head back to Amee farm while the other half finished up their videos.  We packed up and headed back but Andy took us into the woods and then up the trail instead of directly back to the farm…we hiked up the mountain and that was fun…hiking is something I always love so Bob and I just gabbed and enjoyed the cool air…when we finally came off the mountain we were at the bridge…well what used to be a bridge but now it was just a rope bridge over the cold river…one rope to walk on and two ropes to hold on to…it was pitch black at this point and with my head lamp the rushing water looked mighty cold and to me mighty frightening…
I started to have a panic attack..I could not breath..Don and Johnny were there and the other racers and Bob were saying just breath take it slow….I don’t want to go into depth about the fear I was feeling but let it be known that for me just crossing that river made this DR something I am so proud of..

When we got back to the farm we were split up into teams but I did not get on Doc’s
: ( and could not sneak into his group. The next series of events may be out of order dear god I am already forgetting much of the weekend lol I believe the first thing we did was we got in a circle and we had to do “beaver thrusters” nope not a new crossfit term…this was a series of exercises with a beaver… a HUGE dead frozen beaver…then we had to carry all the wood from one end of the farm and stack it against the barn, then we had to go to the other barn where the sheep were kept and with our ax and hands dig out the layers and layers of frozen sheep poop mixed with straw, then burpees…. lots of them…. then back to farm and more wood chopping, then we were put into new smaller groups and were given a rope or a tie down thing you use for tying a kayak to your car and we had to figure out how to carry one of those huge ton bail of hay things wrapped in plastic from the Amee barn to the sheep house..holy crap that was hard…it could NOT touch the ground…Bob and I snuck into the same group so that was fun..it took some time but we did it..there was a group though with way less people so when we finished we stayed with this group to help them finish then ran back to our group who was at work tying up the next bail then we had to carry that and when we got there the team Doc and I had helped was doing punishment burpees then when all the hay bails got to the sheep barn we all had to do burpees..lots of burpees…then we had to run and pack up enough food and water for a 20 mile hike. 

We all headed down route 101 to Joe’s place where we were told to wait in the bridge…when we got to the bridge Joe told us to lay on our stomach and wait for everyone to get there..Doc and I were within the first 10 people so we had to wait and it was cold laying on the bridge it was probably 9 degrees if that..so when everyone got there we had to call off numbers…Doc and I were in a group with Peter, Marshall, and this nice guy we called captain…the groups had to run race each other across the snowy field…it was the field we were at for summer DR 2011…the candle walk field….running with huge packs is tough and Joe was threatening hat he would disqualify the groups that lose….so we raced groups back and forth across the field for a while and I believe we did a single person race as well…then we finally are told to run ahead and meet up with jack Cary who will tell us what to do next…we are told to enter the trail and follow the headlamps up the mountain…yep Andy brought us on a killer hike basically bush whacking the entire time…and this was where Doc and I really did well we were like the last 10 people into the woods and at the end of the hike at Shrek’s cabin we had passed everyone but 7 : )  Steady state hiking up mountains is where my strength is..we never had to stop and rest just relentless forward motion…I loved being with Doc for this…our cadence was seamlessly aligned and we talked and laughed and we really had so much fun…when we finally got everyone to the cabin Joe told everyone to run back down to help the people that were last make it up..so we did…but of course no one would give up their pack : ) these are Death Racers they carry their own burdens…

When everyone was there we broke into groups and Doc and I were with Joe D…this was the HIGHLIGHT of DR for me…Joe proceeded to run pell mell down the mountain not on trails at all but just bush whacking at an alarmingly fast pace….it was amazing…I love running and I love running fast down mountains…gravity just takes over and you feel like you are flying…it was so much fun….when we made it down to the flat trail Joe took off and we had to follow…a super fast pace…we ran until we came to the river…it was here that we got our first taste of the river….the sun was coming up and no more headlamps thank god…Joe told us we needed to find a way across the river…he was standing on a bridge…we had to go across the river and there was quite a current and there were rapids…I of course was terrified…Doc said hold on we will go together but like a deer in headlights I just jumped in!  he quickly followed and I grabbed his arm but the current was pulling me so this awesome guy jumped right over and grabbed my other arm and they help me cross..when I got out Joe D just smiled.  We ran the rest of the way back to the barn where we found out no one else had to go into the river : ) that’s what happens if your with Joe!!!

We had time in the greenhouse to change…now the bad thing is I had soaking wet boots they were done, and one pair of good sneakers and one pair of crappy sneakers..I changed into crappy sneaks..I only brought 3 pair of socks..one down two to go..I only had two pair of pants and two long underwear one set down…..it is not that I did not want to bring more…I do not have more winter sports gar….it is expensive and I have not bought new gear except a pair of winter gloves in over a year…so I had only what I had and needed to make due.  
Both Doc and I said to one another as we changed "if we spend much more time in the water we are screwed" 
oh if we only knew what was to come......