Monday, December 10, 2012

Death Race Training Smackdown with Jordan

Ok, so why did I laugh for most of the time, on the hour, at the fact that Jordan and I were each carrying a full pack, 5 gallon bucket and a car tire for 15+ miles from 9:30pm-4:30am?

Because it is so damn ridiculous.

And absurd.

And fun.

I would drop the tire every once in a while or look over at Jordan and start laughing so hard realizing how absurd and difficult it was to be doing this! But it was so awesome at the same time!

I went into this Death Race night training with the idea that I was going to cry, I was afraid of what my mind and body COULDN'T do instead of thinking "hey, I am strong, just go into this without fear." I did my best to let the fear go but, hey, I had not done anything like this before so I had no idea what to expect. Jordan reached out about a month ago and we made a plan to do this training and the night finally was here. I purchased a few new gear items that I had worn out over the years (headlamp, merino wool layers) and bought  new items, like an axe, etc. I was ready! Jordan was making the plan for the training and I had no idea what we were going to be doing. He gave me a short required gear list and that was it: axe, bucket, 8 foot rope, lighter, layers, food, water.

I woke up Friday morning, got Aida ready for school, went to work for the day, got my stuff together after work for the training and then jumped in my car at 6pm to head down to Ira, Vermont to meet up with Jordan. I had a 1.45 hour drive. We were expecting sleet and freezing rain throughout the night so our sufferfest was going to be even more sucky with hypothermic conditions. I met Jordan in West Rutland then I followed him to Ira where we parked at the old church. Jordan was organized with the list of tasks we were to accomplish, again, keeping me in the dark about what they were. So, we grabbed our packs and bucket and our first task was to run to his house a mile down the road. There, we dropped our packs and headed up behind his house up through some fields where we eventually came upon two logs that he had marked out for us. Now, pick it up and hike back down to our packs, pick up that stuff and head out and hike/walk up a steep dirt road.When we eventually got to the top, we ditched the logs and did our first set of burpees and planks. The roads were nice and wet and a little muddy from the sleet and so begins our night of being grubby and soaked.

Our next task was to run back to a farm and pick up another large log that we would have to carry together. But, the log was gone! The farmer must have moved it so Jordan said "time to improvise." Which was pretty much the theme the rest of the night. He was pretty good on his feet making sure we were suffering. Anyway, we were supposed to put the two car tires on each end of the log and carry it through the night (which would have been hilarious because he is 6'1" and I am 5'1") but instead, we went back to our cars, each got a car tire, made sure we had enough food and water for the night and headed out. This was 9:30pm. "We won't be back until 4am-ish" he said. Ok! Let's go!!!!

So, we walked up dirt roads, collected wood and birch bark to make a fire later on, and kept trudging away. Carrying a car tire is awkward as shit so it was definitely not comfortable with it draped over your head with it leaning back onto your backpack and then having the bucket attached to your pack hit you in the back of your legs at the same time. Again, friggin' ridiculous!

At one point, Jordan asked if I wanted to walk in the woods on VAST trails or stay on the roads. WOODS PLEASE!!! So, we headed out onto these awesome trails, crossing brooks, we saw some animal tracks in the sleet that had fallen. But, it was so quiet out there. I mentioned how awesome it would be to trail run out there. There seemed to be zillions of trails. At about 11:30pm, we came to a clearing and Jordan started a fire, a self professed Pyro. We laughed at how he got the fire started in 2.5 seconds. We warmed up and did more planking and burpees, ate some food and headed back out about midnight.

Ok, so the yawning started about now. I got kind of tired going uphill with the tire, so Jordan would occasionally take my tire as well to give me a break (thank you!). At about 1:30 we had come into West Rutland and were on some paved, neighborhood roads. "Time for another fire." What? Right here in the road? Yes. So, we started another fire, warmed up, burpees, planks, food. Laughed hysterically that we were planking by fire in the middle of the road at 1:30am, and then moved on. At this point we still had 3 hours until we got back to our cars. So, we trudged along back onto dirt roads again, carrying what we now called the "fucking tires". Jordan helped out with my tire again off and on during this next two hour stretch. My back was tired but I was doing pretty well. We probably had done 100 burpees at this point and about 8 minutes of planking. We were pretty muddy and our feet were soaked and hands were cold but we were still laughing. At about 3:15am or so, we turned onto another dirt road and guess what, "time for a fire." Pyromaniac started it up and 2.5 seconds, again, and we were yawning and sitting on the tires eating and warming up. Burpees and planks. Fire out. Forty five minutes to one hour until we get to the cars. I was dreaming of the hot chocolate that we had there and looking forward to dropping the tires for the duration of the training....8 hours with them was enough! :)

This final 1 hour stretch back to the cars was the damn silliest of the night! We were just plodding away, silent and Jordan's bucket was hitting his back or pack or whatever just perfectly that it sounded like an Native American drum beat. All of a sudden I realized I had been zoning out on it for a while and I burst out laughing, dropped my tire and was in hysterics. Tears running down my face at how ridiculous and funny this had all been, how the sound was lulling us, just super silly shit (you had to be there). It was then I realized, man, this endurance stuff is hard but fun and rewarding and strangely satisfying. No sleep, no rest, hard exercise, pushing your limits, out of your comfort zone, trying something new, not being in control, there was no one around. It was dark. Cold. Foggy/ was all so beautiful.

So, we get back to the cars at 4am-ish. Time to do a mind test. Sudoku. BULLSHIT. I can't do that stuff and my head was junk, so I took the penalty. Jordan gave it a shot. It had to be done in 4.5 minutes or you had to do a certain number of burpees per minute you went over the allotted time to finish. We ended up doing 65 burpees.

Drinking hot chocolate and doing Sudoku in the drizzling rain

Next task, eat a Habanero pepper. WTF. No way! But, Jordan did it. Dude is a freak. Unbelievable!

"contemplating habanero"

After, he cooled off, I think it was me (?) who said "let's go for a run". The rain was just lightly starting up. 4.5 mile loop to come back to the cars. At one point we passed a house and Jordan says "do you smell cinnamon rolls"? Something smelled delicious! Where were they!?!? We lost it again, laughing, trudging back to the cars, wishing for pastries. We get back, and the rain really started. It was about 5:30am. We had been training since 8pm the night before. At 10 hours, we called it done. I presented Jordan with a small "Death Race Training Skull" (for those that don't know, if you finish the death race, you get a skull....very coveted! so giving each other this little skull was just silly and fun). We headed to get breakfast in West Rutland. Looking pretty gross, muddy, tired, we stuffed our faces and I decided to go back to Jordan's house and sleep for a couple hours on his couch before I made the trek back home.

DR training tchotcke

-started at 8pm December 7, finished at 5:30am on December 8
-carried car tire for 8 hours over 15+ miles with full pack and bucket
-25+ (?) miles covered hiking/running
-27 hours without sleep
-175 burpees
-10 minutes of planking
-started 3 fires to stay warm
-we had one headlamp because Jordan's new batteries were duds! So my new Black Diamond Icon (200 lumens!) got us through the ENTIRE night. That thing was a beast!
-one habanero pepper consumed
-about 10 huge bruises on my arms and shoulders
-several laughing fits
-pissed I did not have my camera throughout the night for videos/pics
-no crying
-no blisters AGAIN for me. I had the usual Smartwool socks and Brooks Cascadia 7s
-no hypothermia! Merino wool rules the world once again.
-no wood chopping. Next time there will be!
-3 bottles of Dogfish Head 120 IPA given to Jordan for scheming our night

Post training gear. The bucket full of wet sneakers, sock, gloves, mittens,
and "the fucking tire" that I carried all night.

Black Diamond Icon BEASTLY headlamp.
Everyone should have this.

On my way home, I drive through Pittsfield, home of the Death Race, and where I have spent many hours running this past year. I stopped at my favorite place for a warm drink, Pittsfield General Store, and BOOM, Andy Weinberg and Joe Desena were there. Andy says "Hey Joe! Jane just got back from training all night with Jordan!" Big hugs and stories of my adventures began! Joe gave me his cookie and the rest of his smoothie and I retold the night to both of them. What a way to end my epic adventure than to see both of them, the ones that will be thrashing me on June 21 at the Death Race! They are huge inspirations in my life and this just made everything come to a perfect ending for the long adventure. I love Pittsfield. I love the new people I am meeting. I am loving this new adventure and path in my life that is showing me there is so much out there when you leave your comfort zone. I highly recommend it to EVERYONE to take risks and push yourself.

There is so much to learn. Get out there!

Next up: 30 hour Death Race Camp on January 4-5 in Pittsfield. 17 people signed up so far. Two women. Jordan will be there. Time to kick some ass with the boys again. ;) I am pretty sure I will cry this time around since it will be triple the time out there doing hard stuff....but I bet I see Jordan's fires in the woods and he hears me laughing and all will be "normal."


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Seize the Moment to Meet New People

This past Wednesday, I met up with new friend, Jordan Peters, for a workout at Joe's Mountain in Pittsfield, aka home of the Death Race. A month or so ago, Jordan had posted a request on the Death Race Facebook Page asking if anyone wanted to do some training for the race. I quickly responded YES, that I needed some practice in major suffering and to let me know. So, I get an email a week or so ago from him asking if I wanted to do all night trainings in Ira, Vermont with him. Ok! Let's do it! December 7, it is!

So, I asked him if he wanted to meet up for a run in Pittsfield this week and we headed out and ran all over Joe's Mountain and had a great day! Jordan is a super strong runner...looked effortless. There was a little snow, only enough to get your feet wet but not to slow you down. The weather was perfect...mid 30s, no wind. Great conversations about Jordan's Death Race experience from 2012, training for 2013's race, the Death Race Camp we will both take part in on January 4-5, etc. All said, we spent about 4 hours out there.

The best part about this all: validation that reaching out and meeting new people will take you places and lead to wonderful experiences. Seize the moment to meet new people. Don't be afraid. Jordan is an inspiration. At 23 years old, this guy is extremely wise and already understands that life needs to be lived to its fullest. I don't remember knowing that when I was 23. So glad we will have some fun times training over the next few months.

I dare you all to reach out and meet new people. You will grow from it in many ways!

Next post: recap of the sufferfest/training on December 7th. Start at 9pmish and go through the night until 9am? Tractor tire, sandbags, chopping wood, walking in the river, burpees by the 100s. Jordan is in charge of the plan, I will do what he says. :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Run Your Can Off!

Yesterday, I participated in Run Your Can Off in Winooski, VT. It is a benefit for the Winooski Food Shelf. Instead of paying a registration fee, you bring can food or a frozen turkey. What a great way to support the community! This was a different kind of run for me. Run a 1.30 mile loop over and over again. No hills. No mountains. Urban trail and could hear the cars zipping by on the highway as I plugged away. An aid station every 1.30 miles. Tons of food. No wet muddy hiking trails to slog through. No obstacles. No barbed wire. No camelback or food to carry. Wow! That was different and fun! I got to meet some cool people and got to run a few laps with Jack Cary, who is one of the Race Directors for the Death Race. Super awesome guy, strong as an ox mentally and physically. Jack finished the Summer Death Race 3 years in a row and a Winter Death Race and is now "retired" from the race and comes up with the challenges with the other two directors, Andy Weinberg and Joe Desena. He also had just come from climbing Camel's Hump that morning with Andy and he completed a Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run last Saturday...23,000 foot elevation change and 50 miles. No big deal. Ha! And, I will hate him on June 21 at the Death Race...par for the course. :) So, I was glad to have fun with him at this race and talk about the suffering that comes with the Death Race. This past year I am done so many different types of races. This was a good way to end 2012 (unless something else comes up!). Now training for the Peaks 50 and Death Race truly begins.

Here are some pictures from the day:

This aid station would soon be full of super good food (they had Fritos)!
Thank you volunteers!

Graffiti at the trail head. 

chilly! let's get running!

racers arriving

Jack Cary and I. Dude is an inspiration.
Thanks for slowing down and running my pace throughout the day!

about 10 laps done

Been running 5 hours. I stopped here at 17 laps. 

Done? Ok, I will have a piece of pizza. I put my backpack on, gave Jack and high five,
and he said, "you should do one more lap." Ok, dropped the pack and did lap 18.
23.5 miles done! Super fun and happy with the day!
Ok, NOW I am done.

Awesome homemade medal made from a crushed can!
I will be back again next year!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Aida's Art Part 3: Snakes!!!

All week Aida has been drawing snakes! So much creativity! I love how each day she woke up in the morning and headed to her art table and drew a snake. And, then she would come home from school with more drawings of snakes. She inspires me in so many ways! Enjoy!

"Fairy Snake"

"Chinese Snake"

"Hiking Snakes with hiking poles in their hands"

"Running snake with an Ipod"

"Hiking Snakes with Backpacks" 

"Sleeping Snake with slippers"

"Volleyball Ball Snake"

"Football Snake"

"African Snake with a pretty dress"

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Death Race 2013: Content With Just Being Inspired or Perhaps Inspire Others?

Since the Spartan Beast race a couple weeks ago, I have been obsessing about the Death Race. As I was racing along that day, I witnessed Team Death Racers carrying 70 pound sandbags as they completed the 14+ mile/35 obstacle course and I thought, "I want to be doing that." I volunteered for the Summer Death Race this year for two days so I know what challenges can be given to the racers. It was so intense to watch that I cried in my car at the end of the day.

Why am I thinking I want to do this type of event? I will be abused physically and mentally by the challenges that race directors Andy Weinberg, Joe Desena and Jack Cary will concoct for us. Lift a 50 pound rock up and down for 7 hours? Hundreds of burpees? Chop woods for hours? Carry a kayak for 20+ miles through one of the hardest trails in Vermont? Carry a bike frame throughout the entire course and never use it? Roll on your side for 3/4 of a mile and stir cow intestine guts as you pass by the bucket (puke much?)?

My expectations for this race: I have no idea. I am very much a realist and since 10% of people finish this race and 95-99% of the participants are in top shape and probably the fittest people in the damn world, I am going to put it out there and say that I will most likley be in that 90% who don't finish. But, that is ok!!! I am not being a pessimist! I want to see how far I will go. How many times will Andy, Joe and Jack make me go up Joe's Mountain with cement bags? Or actually carry someone? Or make me swim in the fucking cold river on a rainy, raw June day? Or, it could possibly be 90 degrees. There is so much unknown to this event that I don't even want to try to predict what may be thrown at me. I am entering this race with an open heart and open mind. If I quit, I quit. Maybe it will be 18 hours, maybe 24 hours, maybe 40+. Or, maybe I will finish this damn thing! I JUST DON'T KNOW and that is the way it will be. I have no pressure from anyone to do this race. It is the race against me. I want to see how far I will push myself. I am fascinated by the human mind and how it can convince the body to keep going. Do I have that will inside of me, too?

All I know is that I pulled strength from within when I my daughter died 7 years ago. This is how it went down. Life was good. I was one day away from my due date. I woke up in the middle of the night any my water broke. Yay, right! We had been waiting 9 months for this! Wrong...the water was full of meconium. We went to the birthing center and we sat there and listened to my daughter's heart rate decrease as she was inside my belly. I could do nothing. We eventually lost the heart beat. I was wheeled to the OR, put under general anesthesia, and woke up to the pediatrician crying over me telling me she that had died from an umbilical cord accident. I was tripping on morphine, trying to figure out what the fuck was happening to us over the next 4 days, arranging for her cremation, healing from an emergency Cesarean section, and having to eventually walk out of that birthing center without a child. I still can't believe that happened and I was able to navigate my way through it all. The actual physical pain of my hands aching was surreal and creepy. My body was literally aching to hold that child and was screaming out.

I guess telling that story proves that we have it in us to keep on moving no matter how shitty something is. I guess it all comes down to how you want to face it.

I want to test myself at this race, see what I am capable of on my own terms this time. If life has kicked you in the head before, why not try it on your terms and see what happens. When there is a choice to quit, do you take it or keep moving?

Things that I am going to do in preparation these next 7 months:

1. Learn how to use and ax!!! Luckily, my husband, Seth works for the US Forest Service as a trail guy (best job in the world). There has to be a petite size ax for small french women out there, right? We will have all our wood delivered to us next spring unsplit and proceed to split it all myself. I also am fortunate enough to live next door to someone who processes firewood for a living so I can talk to him and see if he will let me chop wood for him while I sit by and watch him use a wood splitter :)

2. Hire Margaret Schlachter to get my ass in shape. I need to lose some weight, get stronger and get faster. I  am ready to step it up a notch and Margaret knows how to do that. We participated in 3 races together this year; Peaks Ultra 32 miler, Moosalamoo 15 miler, Spartan Beast/Ultra Beast. She has seen me finish all three, knows how fast I am, my build, etc. She knows Vermont mountains and terrain so it seems like a perfect fit for her to show me the ropes.

3. Spend lots of time hiking Joe's Mountain with heavy weight.

4. Spend lots of time hiking Mt. Hunger in my back yard with heavy weight.

5. Sleep deprivation training. Hmmmm.....I wonder if this will count....I spent the first 3 weeks of Aida's newborn life tripping balls from lack of sleep. I will never forget that. And, I was healing from my second cesarean section and grieving the loss of my first child like a son of a bitch at the same time. That was hell. I was exhausted.

6. Hiking in the dark. I will have to get out during the night and work on this. I have never really hiked in the dark in all the millions of miles I have backpacked.

7. Mental game. This is where you can't prepare yourself. I get that. It is going to hit like a ton of bricks and fuck with me. Everyone will be in the same boat. I wonder if people help each other? I guess at some point it is just you and the game.

So, here it is. I am signed up and ready to take it all on.

And, at the race, every time Andy asks me if I want to quit, I will hug him. Kill him with kindness, yes? Watch out, Andy! It will get annoying!

Time to make a sandbag and get training.....
Sorry for all the swears in this post. It is the fucking Death Race, people!! It makes me want to swear!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Spartan Beast Obstacle Race

Eat. Drink. Keep Moving. Ask For Help. FINISH.

These were my rules/goals for the day. I had never done an obstacle race before so I just came prepared to be out on the trails for 8-9 hours. For those who don't know me, my strengths for this race would be the hiking/climbing up the mountain and the trail running. I had my Camelback, food, beanie hat and polypro shirt (in case it was cold at the summit of Killington Mountain) and I was ready. And, I was all by myself.

About 3 weeks ago, Spartan Co-Founder (and friend), Andy Weinberg emailed me and said "you should do the Beast."
me: "What? I have never done an obstacle course race before and this is the hardest one of the year! The Championship for the season! And, I have never really done burpees!"
Andy: "You know you can run/hike the 13+ miles, so you have that covered. If you can't do an obstacle, do the burpees and move on. You can do it."
me: "Ok. Sign me up."

It really was that simple.

And, there. I was signed up and ready to try something huge that I had no idea about. In years past, I would never have signed up for something that I knew nothing about. Uncertainty and the unknown have always scared me. But, I don't think that way anymore. 2012 is a big year for me. I turned 40 and all of a sudden, life feels short. Sort of like a midlife crisis. Time to try things and who cares how hard they are. Just be smart, take your time, have fun doing it.

I started doing burpees to get ready. I had been in good running shape from the races that I did this summer so I was confident about that. But the upper body strength is not necessarily there. Oh well! I had three weeks to get in burpee shape!

All of a sudden, it was Friday and I headed to Killington to pick up my race bib, timing chip, etc. I got to Outback Pizza around 5pm to a packed parking lot of excited racers getting there stuff, meeting each other, etc. Since I was by myself, I went in, got my information, said some hellos to Margaret Schlachter and Chris Davis and quietly left. Big crowds are not my thing! And, I was going to run in a race of thousands of people the next day! Ha!  But, I learned the day of the race that those crowds were the nicest people on earth and willing to help anyone!

Pre-race packet pick up at Outback Pizza

I went to a pasta dinner per invitation of Matt Davis at Junyong Pak's (who ended up coming in second...crazy athlete) rental house after the bib pick up and met so many nice racers! Death Racers and some top athletes in the racing scene. And, me who has never done a Spartan Race! Hilarious.

I headed back to my friend's house in Bethel to stay the night. I woke up and left Bethel by 5:45am so I could be back in Killington by 6:30am. I wanted to be there to see the scene unfold. I tell you, Spartan Race is a well oiled machine. Amazing to see Killington Mountain transformed into carnival-like atmosphere.

I saw Andy and Margaret briefly and just mulled around, observing people's pre-race rituals, warm ups, watched how nervous or confident people were appearing. I saw all types of people, fit, your average Joe like myself, happy, intense, families, spouses, kids. People were ready!

Andy and Margaret
Pre-race, looking pretty clean!
cool tattoo guy!
Pre-race rituals
I checked in my bag, got my number (70729!!) written on my legs and arms and went to the starting line to watch the Elites start their race at 8:30am. I can't even list all of the awesome athletes that were in that line.

Elite racers lined up and ready to explode

Elites are off! The top racers would finish a little less than 3 hours.
So, I had an hour to kill before my heat. And, then BOOM! Team Death Race members Don Devaney, Johnny Waite and Ray Morvan were at the climbing wall! They had started the course at 4am with two 70 pound sandbags that they had to take with them through the entire course. I jumped the fence and ran over and gave big hugs to them all, excited to finally meet Johnny and Ray! I had met Don at the Moosalamoo Ultra a month earlier. These guys are great and I got to see them a couple more times on during the race! Such inspiration. I have followed their successes via the Spartan Death Race Facebook Page for over a year and saw them compete this summer at the Summer Death Race. So meeting them and seeing them during the day was a highlight for sure.

Team Death Racers Don, Ray and Johnny
Johnny Waite with 70 pound sandbag
Ray and Don
Before I knew it, it was 9:30am and I was in line waiting and BOOM we were off! The weather was gorgeous, slightly chilly and the leaves were starting to change so it was spectacular on the trails. Some people were starting off too quickly and were off on the side of the trail puking within the first mile or so. I just kept on trucking, sipping water, running on the flats, stopping at the obstacles to check them out before I launched into them so I would not hurt myself. I asked for help. Dudes totally like to help chicks. If you are wondering if you should do the race yourself, just do it. The people in this race were so nice and everyone wants everyone to achieve their goal and be safe. I loved that.

Here is the Vermont Spartan Beast obstacle list (in order). Holy shit, there were 35 obstacles!?!??!?!!??! The penalty for not completing an obstacle was 30 Burpees. And, keep in mind while these obstacles are happening, we are going up and down Killington Mountain several times. In the end I heard it was 14+ miles with 6000 ft elevation.

Here is a map of where the obstacles were on the course:

Map of the zones of obstacles. NUTSO.

Ditch jumps or Moats-Mud

Over unders- don't remember this one.

Dirt mounds w/ water pits- Mud

Vertical cargo- needed help on this one. One of the guys held the cargo net still for me and then talked me through it. It was high and I had no idea what I was doing but I did it thanks to his help!

Barbed wire high crawl- 4 foot (?) high barbed wire to walk under. Easy since I am wicked short.

Double 7 foot walls- "Can I help you?" Sure! thanks, dude! 

Barbed wire crawl #1- suck ass!!!! There were tons of small rocks and mud and a fire hose was pointed on us and it was freezing and my legs and arms are bruised and scraped up wicked. 

2 short walls- Literally 2 short walls to get over.

Monkey bars- first 30 Burpees set of the day. Those bars were so far apart! And, I have not done monkey bars since I was 10 years old. So, burpee on! This was at the top so the views were pretty and it was no big deal.

Trench crawl- MUD.

Traverse wall- Smoked this thing. Years of rock climbing and bouldering paid off!

Rope climb #1- ZOINKS. 30 Burpee set number two. No way I could climb that sucker. And I got muddy up to my knees trying. 

40° water swim- ZOINKS. 30 Burpess set number three. This was insane and I wanted to conserve myself. This was only at 3 miles or so and still had 12 to go! People were shivering so bad and I said fuck it. 

Tarzan swing-   Not sure what this was. Part of the Water swim. You had to swim out to a bridge, climb the rope ladder, swing out to ropes, etc. 

Water station (4.5 miles)- water refill. 

Memorization poster- "Take the final two digits of your number and find that on the large board and then memorize the phrase for later in the race. Luckily, someone had a Sharpee pen and I wrote it on my arm. GOLF 615-4635.

Herculean hoist-  Piece of cake. Pull a rope that is tied to a heavy weight until it hits the top. 

Water station #2 (6 miles)

Atlas carry (concrete bucket thing)- these were wicked heavy. I had a hard time getting them off the ground and some kick ass woman helped me. Had to carry one a distance, drop it, pick up another and bring that one back.

Barbed wire crawl #2- Excuse me while I swear, "MOTHER FUCKING BARBED WIRE CRAWLS!!!" This one was uphill but it was more muddy and with hay so it was much softer. Still sucked. And, when I got to the end, a woman, sliced open her leg and was screaming. I went over and held her arm while she was shaking and a big racer dude came over and said "I am a medic." He pulled out his supplies and helped her out and I was on my way.

Double 7 foot wall #2- Big dude helped again.

Wall climbs w/rope- these were on the snowboarding slopes. There were easy.

Tractor pull- I think this was the one where you had to haul a heavy piece of concrete that was hooked to a chain up a hill and back down. Had to watch it barreling back down at you on the way down so your ankles did not get pegged. Ouch.

Sandbag carry-  Carry a 20 pound (?) sandbag a good distance up a ski slope and come back down.

Memorization test- GOLF 615-4635!!! We had to tell the volunteer this before the sled pull.

Sled pull- Excuse me while I swear "MUTHER FUCKING TRACTOR PULL!" This was hard. Not sure what the weight was but it a bunch of rocks or sand in a box attached to skis. It had a long rope attached and you had to pull it a distance on big gravel while hay bales were burning all around you. Smoked out....ugh.

Water station #3 (10 miles)

Tyrolean traverse- Big cable hanging above water you had to cross. 30 Burpee set number 4. Skipped that one.

Giant dirt mounds with water- More mud!

Spectacular bushwack up Bear Mountain- this was not an official obstacle but it was a huge one for all of us. We were single file for an hour or more (?) before we hit the top of the mountain. It was so hard but this is hiking and I enjoyed it!  I saw some other death racers and chatted with them. They were doing great!

Rope climb #2- 30 Burpees set number 5!

Log Hop- Somehow I did his without falling off. Bonus!

Vertical cargo net #2- no problems

Double 8 or 9 foot wall #3- 30 Burpees set number 6! Fuck that! I did not want to break my ankles coming down the other side. So, I saw Don, Johnny and Ray, hugged them and continued down the mountain after the burpees. This slope was so steep many were on their butts sliding down. Check in about how I was feeling at this point in the race, I think about mile 12 or 13: I was feeling great!!!! I started running down as I could when it was not so steep. And, then we went back into the woods and it was slow going with all the people again. It was fun to chat it up with many awesome folks!

Hobie hop- easy. wrap a band around your ankles and hop over logs.

Spear throw- we are at the finish line now with 5 obstacles to finish within feet of the finish! I here Margaret say "Hey Jane!" and she is just coming in from finishing her second loop....28miles and all of the above obstacles in the same amount of time that I did one lap!!! She is amazing. She came in 4th place for women. Oh, I had never thrown a spear and totally missed the hay bale. 30 Burpee set number 7!!!!

Barbed wire crawl #3- Bitch ass barbed wire. This was short though.

Slippery wall- Easy. Slippery 90 degree wall and you had to pull yourself over with the rope.

Fire jump-  the famous jump over the fire ring at the end.

Gladiators-  Run passed the gladiators and BOOM done!!!!!

14+ miles
6,000 elevation
210 Burpees
No blisters!  My feet were soaking wet the entire time. Brooks Cascadia 7 sneakers and Darn Tough socks do the job again.
My shitty green hiking shirt that has endured years of hiking and an ultramarathon is being officially retired. Mud ain't coming out of that thing.
A few quarts of water. Nuun in one bladder full of water, plain water the rest of the day.
3 Clif Block packages
Cliff Bar
Cliff Pro Bar (2?)

I crossed the finish line 8:28 hours later. I did it! I heard 2500 people out of 6500 finished the race. I feel so proud I was one of them. My expectations going into this race was not to be fast but to finish! And, I met my goal. I felt so good crossing, too. I still had plenty of energy and felt as though if needed, I could have kept going. Not so sure about doing the Ultra Beast which is two of those laps but I felt pretty awesome. There was no one there to say "awesome job!" since I was there by myself so I got my medal got my pack, talked to a couple people and had someone take my picture and headed to my car. I decided that I was so disgusting from all the mud that I would go home instead of going to the Death Race to volunteer. I had no idea where anyone was anyway. Were the teams still on the mountain? What was Andy telling them to do now? So, I stopped at the Pittsfield General Store, got a burger and chatted with another guy who had just finished the Beast and then headed home. It took me so long to get the mud off!


Those are some clean feet that were in wet sneaks all day.

What is next?

Maybe another trail race if I can find one for this fall. But, the next thing I am signed up for is the Peak Races half marathon snowshoe race in February. Then the Peaks 50 miler in June.

And perhaps.........The Death Race next June. All I could think about when doing the Beast was the friggin' Death Race. I have a feeling I will be signing up for that sucker soon. Andy said I would quit but he is supposed to say that.  :) Who knows maybe I would quit, but I can toe the line and give it a shot!

Life is short, people!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Owls Head Mountain 4000 Footer Backpacking Trip

Yay! Seth and I got to go backpacking!

It had been two years since we last went, and we decided to head back into the Pemigewasset Wilderness in the White Mountains. I had to get one more 4,000 footer in that wilderness and it was time. Owls Head Peak, here we come!

pre-hike pic :) Get me in the woods!

Owls Head!
My good friend, Jill, came from Maine to watch Aida and Cinny for the weekend. (Thank you!) Seth and I left at 6am on Saturday morning and got the Lincoln Woods trail head by 8:30, hiking by 8:45. It felt so good to have a backpack on again! The 8+miles out to the beginning of the Owls Head Path were pretty much flat, with slight uphills now and again. It took us about 3.5 hours to get to the base of Owls Head. The temperatures had been in the 50s with some clouds, some sun. We had been hiking in a narrow slot the whole way so it was shaded and cool. We were in heaven. No more hot and humid weather like the entire summer. We had seen many people who were making a long day hike to get the peak as well. It would be a long day hike of about 18 miles so Seth and I decided to do 15 miles that first day, get the peak, and then hike 3.5 miles to Thirteen Falls Tent Site to overnight.

breaking off from the Franconia Brook Trail onto the Lincoln Brook Trail

We got to the base of the mountain and saw a bunch of backpackers and hikers who had dropped off or were dropping off there packs and heading up the mountain. Seth and chose to keep our packs with us for a few reasons:

1.) Bears. We did not want come back down to shredded packs.
2.) Safety. It is about 3 miles of hiking without any food, water, layers. Dumb if you ask me. As we were hiking down, it started to rain a bit. Glad I had my stuff with me.
3.) It would be good strength and confidence training for me to carry a full overnight pack straight up the mountain in preparation for the Spartan Beast race this coming weekend.

And, let me tell you, that was STRAIGHT UP the mountain. Up a rock slide. It was unbelievable. And, it was fun! The sun was not blaring on us, it was not humid and hot, it had not started raining, and we passed lots of people! "Excuse me, pardon me." They thought we were nutso for hauling a full pack up. Guess what, people? It was rewarding!

We got to the top to the ridge and took a left to the summit. I think it was about .5 miles from there and it is a trailess peak but so many people have done it over the years that it was easy to find. We had a quick snack and headed back to the rock slide to make our way back down. We took our time and only slid a few times (phew!) and we passed some people who were still trying to get up the slide and eventually they decided to go back down.

Summit! With eyes closed, damnit

Heading down the mountain
Views of Liberty and Flume
When we got back down to the base, we pumped some water and headed the final 3.5 miles to the tent site. This 3.5 miles was one of the most beautiful pieces of wilderness that we have hiked in. Wow. Quiet, no people, tons of wetlands and we were hiking in the basin of the 4,000 footers above us so we saw towering mountains everywhere. The trail was narrow and perfect. We did not see any wildlife but I bet there were moose and bear everywhere in that basin.

We finally got to the tent site around 5pm. Set up camp, made some dinner and I was asleep by 7:45. A chilly night but it was so comfy in the tent. We heard it had snowed on Mt. Washington that night. Fall is here!

We headed out the next day at 9 am for the final 8.5ish miles. Perfect sunny day walking by more wetlands and ponds.

I could have kept walking forever.

Home sweet home!

Bear box at the campsite. See the scratch marks? Lock food up!

Scratches and dents from Bear!

Nice chilly morning to head back

we crossed some many large brooks and streams all weekend

Only nine 4,000 footers left! This has been an amazing journey.