Sunday, March 31, 2013

What Do You Mean I Can't Have It All?!?!?!?

gear, bucket, axe,sneakers, truck tire, food....
the way my car has looked for a couple months.

My world of adventures has been amazing since January, starting with the first Death Race Camp, then another camp the following weekend, then volunteering for the Winter Death Race for 3 days, then two weeks later road tripping to Miami for 5 days to do two Spartan Races, then the next weekend after Miami completing a half marathon snowshoe race in Pittsfield, and then....then.....crickets....nothing.

I am struggling with not racing/adventuring at every chance I get. I have been watching many young, athletic, inspiring racers lead this awesome fun life EVERY WEEKEND. And, all I want to do is follow that. Follow my heart. But, jesus, I have a family! I work 40 hours a week! I fill in all the other precious minutes and hours of the day by running and training.

I am at this point in my life where I am in the best shape I have ever been, enjoying meeting people at races, seeing the familiar faces, laughing, rolling in mud under barbed wire, carrying dumb shit like truck tires up steep stuff, but I don't have the time to do this ALL THE TIME whenever I want. I have priorities. Very important people in my life that I love. How do other people do this? I just can't figure it out.

Maybe people with families don't do every race that comes up. They have priorities, too. How do they cope with the want or NEED to keep moving and improving oneself or feeding the fire and desire inside? Are they just more rational and understand that racing and adventuring are not the most important things in their life right now?

I am 41. I have watched very important, close friends and family die over the past year. Very young people. I continue to deal with the death of my daughter that happened EIGHT FUCKING YEARS AGO. I do so with as much grace as possible but it can just creep up on you and BOOM, there it is. I ride the roller coaster ride out and then I move on until it decides to hit me again. What I am getting at is LIFE IS SO SHORT. I want to grow. I want to take advantage of where I am at right now with how good I feel, how healthy I am because you just never know. Am I taking life on by being fearful or just really wanting to grow? I have no idea.

I just know I want to race. I want to grow as a person. I want to meet new people out there who inspire me and perhaps I will inspire others. I want to make a difference. I want to be connected to everyone I meet.

I don't think this is a bad thing. But, I need to find balance.

I have work to do. I love my family. I love myself. I love everyone.

Not sure how to make this happen but this is the path I am on right now and life will always be about work. And change. And growth.

Wonder where this will all take me. It will be interesting to check back in a year and witness my work and if I have peacefully created a balance in my world..and, most importantly, to never forget that I have so much to be thankful for already.


The "entrance" to Joe's Mountain, Pittsfield, VT home of Peak Races, the Death Race,
and where magic and personal growth (and pain!) happens.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Three Months Until the Death Race...It's On

Three months from today, June 21, the Summer Death Race will commence.

I decided to sign up for the Death Race in October 2012 and immediately emailed Andy Weinberg, race director, and said "I am signing up. How do I possibly get ready for this?"

Andy said, "I will get you to the starting line, but you are on your own as of June 21."

Game on. Tell me what I need to do, Andy!

Andy had been hugely influential and inspirational to me throughout 2012, giving me coaching advice for my first ultramarathon, then convincing me, albeit easily, to do the Spartan Beast at Killington, my first OCR. So, of course I would go to him asking him for any fitness advice he could give me for getting ready for the Death Race.

Basically, this is what he said.

1. Get your core in tip top shape over the next few months....body weight exercises, running, etc.
2. Go to the Death Race Camps that Peak Races will put on over the next few months.
3. Sign up for the Winter Death Race.
4. Train once per month with a Death Racer.
5. Complete at least 5 sleep deprived, extremely hard training sessions.
6. Once April and May come, do a big training hike once per week...miles and with weight.  Don't do this too early or you will burn out or possibly get injured.
7. Do the Peaks 50 ultramarathon on June 1 that you signed up for, even though it is 3 weeks before the Death Race. Perfect training.

Ok, coach, I have done number 1. I have lost 15 pounds since November by simply adding body weight exercises to my running plan...hundreds of burpees, pushups, planks, lunges. I am now doing 1,000 burpees per week, a challenge I joined 2 weeks ago thanks to Death Racer, Daniel Dodson, who came up with the idea to do 16,000 burpees before the Death Race.

Number 2: I attended the two Death Race Camps in January in Pittsfield, and will possible attend the one in May.

Number 3: I volunteered for the Winter Death Race. Watched the suffering, helped racers out and learned a shitload by watching the perseverance of those amazing athletes. I could not bring myself to be that cold and challenge myself that way, so I decided to help out instead.

Number 4 and 5: I did an all night training with my friend, Jordan Peters, in December, trained at the death race camps with Death Race veterans Dan Grodinsky, Robin Crossman, Keith Glass, Jordan, and Michelle Roy. I have done 3 out of 5 sleep deprived workouts, unless my sleepless 5 day trip to Miami to do the Hurricane Heat and Spartan Super counts....then I have done 4.  :)

Here comes number 6. April and May workouts. I was awarded 8 extra days of vacation for being at my job for so long so I will be using these every Friday in April and May to hike hike hike and then hike some more. It will not be hard to motivate me to do this since hiking mountains is my favorite thing to do anyway (but the workouts will suck! ouch!) Here is a list of the hikes/training sessions I am aiming for each of those Fridays, each hike getting progressively harder as I approach June.

1. Hike Camel's Hump via the LT- 6 miles up and then 6 miles down. 8000 foot elevation change in one hike.
2. Hike Mt. Hunger to the top, go down the other side, and then back up and down. I did this in October and loved it. Almost puked on the way back up and then carried a rock on the way back was fun nonetheless!  ;)
3. Hike Camel's Hump then drive over to Mt. Hunger and hike that.
4. Head to the White Mountains and hike Passaconaway and White Face....two 4000 foot peaks in one hike....and this will knock my 4000 footer list down to 7 out of 48 to finish! Dual goal.
5. Head to Pittsfield, do a Bikram yoga class then hike 10 miles up and down and around Joe's Mountain.
6. Hike Camel's Hump, Mt. Hunger and Mt. Mansfield in a day.
7. Hike a 10 mile section of the Long Trail with a sandbag or my famous truck tire. I have hiked the entire Long Trail so it will be fun to pick a favorite section and ruin the good memories by carrying the tire. ;)
8. All night hike somewhere carrying a sandbag. Not sure where yet.

There is no right answer to preparing yourself for the Death Race. It's a race where you show up, have no idea what you will be doing, have no idea when it will end. You will be lied to, told you will quit, yelled at, pushed to your limits, etc. You can't really prepare for that. I am going to show up June 21 in the best shape of my life...this 41 year old woman, mother of 2, who has never done something of this caliber before. I will do my best. I will get my ass kicked. I will be broken down and stripped to the core. Showing The Fuck Up is really the point. Toeing the line. No matter what happens at the race, whether I finish or not, preparing for it has and is the best thing I have ever done. I have met amazing people, witnessed amazing perseverance  and seen myself grow as a person.

I have been inspired and I have inspired others.

What is not to love about all of this?

Pittsfield, VT, June 21, 2013. Let's go.

I am Showing The Fuck Up.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Peak Snowshoe Race.....with a Tire

Cruising back to the Amee Farm after my first lap!

I signed up for the Peak Race Snowshoe Half Marathon last July after I completed the Peak 50K. All of a sudden, it was March 2 and I was standing in the Amee Farm Greenhouse at 6am, staring at my 3 favorite Death Racers: Michelle Roy, Jack Cary and Robin Crossman. (The three of them have 10 Death Race skulls (finishes)). They had already been racing for 22 hours and were competing in the 100 mile snowshoe race. The skin on Michelle's heel was basically ripped away, Jack had been asleep for hours on the greenhouse shelf and Robin was sleeping on the gravel floor. My heroes were getting their asses kicked by Joe's Mountain YET AGAIN. I am thinking, oh shit, I am supposed to carry a car tire for 13.1 miles today on that 6.5 mile course???! Ok, let it go. Don't think about it. This is death race training.

So, I talked with Michelle for a bit, checked out her foot, and drove her to her bed and breakfast to wake up her boyfriend, Bob, so he could fix up her foot so she could continue the race. She had already done 8 loops!! Jesus. Here is a picture of her foot before she started out on 4 more loops to finish with 12! She tied with the male 1st place racer who also did 12 loops. Amazing! I never saw her again that day in my travels up and down the mountain 2 times but I knew she was out there kicking ass...because she is Michelle Fucking Roy. :)

Can you believe Michelle went back out there for 4 more laps
with this fucked up heel ?!?!?!
Michelle and the log she carried for one of the laps.

So, Robin woke up and so did Jack. They made fun of each other...about how long they had slept. They were in no hurry to get back out there. Robin was waiting for his wife, Melissa, to get there, as she was going to do the half marathon. Robin, Michelle, and Jack all encouraged me to do a lap WITHOUT the tire to see what it was was icy, steep and kind of sketchy in places. Hmmmm....3 death racers were telling me to do this. I guess I will listen! So, I decided to do the one lap without the tire. I left it in my car and suited up with my snowshoes and headed out at 8:30am when the race started. And, I am glad I left the tire behind for the first lap because I had the best time running! I had never run in snowshoes before, only climbed steep mountains with them. I had rented a pair of Atlas Snowshoes from Onion River Sports. They were ok, but they kicked snow up and I was SOAKED for the entire first lap! It was awful. No one else was having that problem. I was kind of pissed but kept moving so I would not get cold. I met a woman named Jackie on the course and we pretty much stayed together the entire time, leap frogging each other. She was super nice and we encouraged each other along the way. At the two mile mark, we came to Tweed Cabin where there was water and snacks. I just kept on moving since I had food and water with me. I loved the next section which lead us eventually to the Labyrinth, a dark section of soft wood trees near the summit. We then came out at the summit at Cabin 2 where there was more water and wonderful views! I never get sick of the views up there. I did not stop for long and started down the final 3 miles to the farm. It was amazing! I am a downhiller so I just ran and cruised down so fast! I was having a blast! Running in snowshoes was not difficult at all. There were some steep sections but they were not horrible. I thought, hmmmm, I should carry the tire for the next loop. Eventually, I got back to the bridge that would take me back to the Amee Farm where I would check in with the timing guy. I saw Jordan and Norm at the bridge and Jordan said "get the tire for the next loop." Ok! Here we go.

So, back at the Amee Farm, I changed my clothes since they were soaked from the shitty snowshoes, refueled, grab the tire from the car, and headed back out. I got some funny looks and comments, but nothing but respectful, encouraging comments. :) Jordan said he would meet me on the trail and help if needed.

Heather of Run Faster, Mommy! created this. So sweet!

Jack was heading out on his last lap (I believe he ended with 8 laps) with his girlfriend, Kelsey, and I hiked with them a bit as I trudged up the mountain. Jack would yell back at me "I know exactly how you are feeling right now. I carried one of those up Camel's Hump training for the Death Race." Or he would say "that is excellent death race training!", encouraging me. After two miles up, I got to Tweed River Rd and there was Jordan. I flipped that tire off as fast as I could and said, "Your turn to carry this thing!" He "happily" grabbed it and we were off. I stopped at the Tweed Cabin for a quick cup of soup and then continued on to the summit. At this point, a few marathoners were passing us on their 3rd lap and looking strong! Jordan hauled the tire up to the top of the mountain, we saw Jack up there and I then took the tire back for the remainder of the race, 3.5 miles back to the Amee Farm. We saw many marathoners along the way trudging along. Many people asked why I was carrying the tire: "Death Race Training, people!" I then saw my favorite racer ever, Dan Grodinsky, along the way and he said from 100 yards back, he knew it was me with that damn tire. :)

Jack Cary and I. Jack was about 30 hours into his 100 mile race. He finished with
8 loops! Amazing! We were about 2 miles from the end at this point, I think.

After a few trips and falls and laughs and getting pissed at the tire and great conversations with Jack and Jordan, we made it back to the bridge. Yay! I was almost done! I was not horribly tired but was looking forward to dropping that thing. Who wouldn't be? I got back, got my medal, yet the only bummer was: NO ANDY WEINBERG. He was away on a trip and was not there to say "good job!" I love it when he is there at the end, to congratulate me and give me a big hug. A Peak Race is not a Peak Race without Race Director Andy, but everyone else who filled in for him did a fantastic job. Thank you to all of the volunteers who made this event one of the biggest snowshoe races in the nation!

Done! The new Peak Race medals are pretty awesome!

I feel proud of finishing the half marathon, deciding to carry the tire on the second lap up and down Joe's Mountain, and hopefully inspiring people to push their limits and dig a little deeper.

I had a fantastic week of racing, starting with the trip to Miami, and then a few days later, trudging in the snow up and down Joe's Mountain a few times. I am getting addicted to this fun life. I don't have a race until May now. What???? That can't happen. I have to find something in the meantime. Let me know if you know of anything! I am up for it!

Oh wait, I think this is my next challenge: S.E.R.E. Performance. Check it out! Time to hone my survival skills. I am shitty with a map.  ;)

next challenge!