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."



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  2. Great report, Jane! Sounds like you two had a blast. That's some pretty epic training for a race that's 6 months away. At this rate you're going to crush it. Keep it up!

    1. thanks, Jeff! i need to do 5 more of these sufferfests before June to get ready. One per month! This ain't no joke! ;)

  3. Replies
    1. I wish you were coming to the Death Race Camp, Johnny!