Monday, July 1, 2013

Death Race 2013: Year of the Gambler

After 7 months of burpees and hiking and running and chopping wood and death race camps and other random trainings and bucket loads of advice from death race veterans and time away from my family, June 21 finally came. The Death Race was here!! This year's theme was Year of the Gambler. Collect chips at various check points. Cutoffs were enforced. I was so scared and excited. Please let me get through this race!! This race was in memory of my daughter, Faye, who died at birth 8 years ago, and I wanted to bring home a skull in her memory, leave enormous grief out there and have the strength to move through a tough point in my grieving.

The night before the Death Race, I packed my car up, headed to Pittsfield, dropped off hay and grass seed to some California friends (Daniel Dodson and Commodore Man), and then met my friends, Craig and Sharon Pannell for dinner. They had flown in from Cali and this was Craig's second Death Race and he was ready to give it another go and finish. Craig was an enormous help to me for a few months leading up to DR. I owe my increased confidence and the ability to tap into "the mental" to his coaching. Craig is a long time firefighter/paramedic (who has received medals of valor) and part of one of seven of the nation's urban rescue teams (his team was flown to 911 to help for two weeks). He is also an All American Football player,  S.E.R.E. instructor, and just a straight up badass. The dude knows how to push through to get shit done. Yet, COMPLETELY HUMBLE (he is probably going to hate that I just listed this stuff about him, but whatever, this is my blog, yo...LOL). How lucky was I to fall into a friendship with him? LUCKY. I am forever grateful that we are now friends. I have this cache of tools to tap into for future events and it is all because of this guy. As for Sharon, I will talk about her awesomeness later on in this blog. I could not have finished without her. She was there at the most critical part of my race and kept me in the game. 

My buds, Craig and Sharon. I kind of love them, A LOT. ;)

Yes, Craig is that tall, and yes, I am that short.
Put us together and you definitely have Mutt and Jeff!!!

June 21:
7am! Craig tapes my feet up and we eventually head over to Riverside Farm for registration. I write Faye and Aida's names on my left arm and I have Craig write "Just Do!" on my right arm. Also, on my left arm was a bracelet that Craig made for me to wear during the race....Faye and Aida's names (their names glowed in the dark!! I would look down during all three nights and there were their names, shining brightly), two skulls, and 14 blue beads which represent my lucky number/sports number I wore my years playing sports.  A+ Craig for the sentiment and for the positive energy that bracelet provided throughout the entire race!!! I probably won't ever take it off.  :)

Registration and ready to get down to biz!

The bracelet Craig made for me. This sucker
carried me through the race.

I rewrote their names so many times with my
Sharpie throughout those 76 hours. My arm
was so bruised and scraped and swollen here after
carrying the rock for so long and from hauling wood in my arms.

After registration, we headed out to Andy's new home via trail. When we arrived, BOOM, a couple hundred people are swinging axes to break rocks into gravel, doing burpees, getting yelled at by Don. I had the privilege of being personally harassed by Andy and Don several times "Someone said that Jane said the chip will be useless!" "What no bucket, Jane? Who does not bring a bucket to a death race?!?!? You have a bag? You haul 4 bags of rocks then!" "Where did you get that rake? 100 Burpees!!"  "Try to keep up with the boys, Jane!" Oh boy, there is a target is on my back. They know how bad I want this. :) Fine, guys! Bring it! The gambling began, too, with having to roll a pair of dice...I got 10 burpees with a loaded pack for not rolling the same number on each dice. Then, we had to finish digging a ditch behind Andy's house and dump the gravel in it. FINALLY, after a few hours, we were done and had to get back to Amee Farm to collect a chip. So, up and over Joe's Mountain we went. For those that don't know Joe's Mtn, it is not a walk in the park. I have run extensively there and every time, it kicks my ass. The trail we took was straight up to the summit and the hike down was straight down. If anyone had bad knees, sucks to be you because that route was not forgiving. When I got to the Amee Farm, I got a chip with the number 7. We were told we could not stop to get any food from the tent and that we had to turn right back around and go back over the mountain to get to Riverside by 2pm. With our heads down, a couple of us missed the tape/trail marker and we were off trail. We did some bushwhacking and then looked at our watches and hauled ass back to Riverside just in time. 

Andy, Joe and Don. Ready to thrash us for 70+ hours.
They did an excellent job of it, by the way.
Photo: Peak Races

Andy and Joe give us a speech about cutoffs and our next task which would take until 5am. The number on our chip would be our team: Team 7!!! I was the only woman on our team of 18. What a team!! All teams were told that we would be building a massive rock staircase "Stairway to Heaven" from the bottom of the mtn to the top....1 mile straight up. The only tools we could use were what we had with us and a few steel pipes Joe provided. These pipes would be used as rails to help move the large rocks up the mountain. We were also allowed to chop trees down to use as rails as well. THAT WAS IT. I am still floored at what was accomplished!!! Joe told our group to clean the rocks that were already laid on our section of trail by meticulously scraping them with our hand shovels. Then, we dropped in more rocks along the trail and finally closed the gap with the other team ahead of us. Once we finished our section of trail (after dark), we helped the other teams. Joe would come by periodically and tell us to redo rocks, scrape them again, etc. Eventually, during the night, we met up with other teams up the mountain who were in charge of hauling and placing rocks that were bigger than me. I still am in awe. It was extremely dangerous, my friend, Angela, dislocated her shoulder after a fall, people were pinching fingers, straining backs, tripping on the steep grade WHILE hauling rocks that were hundreds of pounds. It was fucking insane. This was all during the night!!! These 200 racers were the toughest people I have ever met. At around 3am, we were cutting and sidehilling a new section of trail above where the rocks were laid and all of a sudden a volunteer said "lights out and on your backs!!" Ok! Nap time? What is this? Nap during the Death Race? (Yeah, this rest time was used to confuse us and to get us to stop moving, to get cold and stiff.) So, we all laid down. When we woke up, I had thought it had only been 10 minutes, but I guess we were asleep for about 1.5 hours. I fell asleep next to Mark Webb and eventually my head slid off my pack and onto Mark's belly. I sort of knew in my sleepiness because I felt my head rising from his breathing, but I did not move.Thanks for the Pillow of Abs, Mark!!! No wonder I slept solid!!  ;)

Rocks! Big! Heavy! Awkward! Beasts working hard!
Photo: Peak Races

check that shit out, people. amazing work if I may say so!!!
photo: Chad Weberg

You know, just scraping rocks and resetting them as Joe demands all night.
This was my friend, Jerry. He is awesome!!!
We did alot of rock work together.
And laughing and chewing of gum.
Photo: Peak Races

June 22:
5am: We were told to wake up, I was freezing, and we had to hike a short ways up to the summit where we were told to take out our hand clippers and clip all the brush down on the summit. Ha!! Oh god, the Death Race. I kept hoping there was no poison ivy, etc. We also had to move huge rocks to a circle around the fire pit. BIG ROCKS, of course, that took dozens of racers to drag. Joe barked, "We have a wedding up here at 2! Get this place clipped down and those rocks moved!!" wedding, of course, but Joe was rested and ready to get on us. We were FINALLY told we could run down the trail and spread the hay and seed that we lovingly carried thus far. Yay!! Get that shit out of my pack!! It took up the whole thing!!! 5 pounds of hay is bulky, people!!!

Next: hike down quickly to the top of Tweed River Drive and meet Joe and Peter. GRAVEL HAULING TIME! I had no bucket but I used my pack and that actually seemed to work better!! I emptied my pack of all gear and food and loaded up what I thought was 5 gallons of gravel, joked with Peter Borden as he confirmed my pack was adequately filled, ate his chocolate chip cookie (thank you!) and headed up to dump it along the trail. I can't remember how many times we did this....3 loads perhaps? We hauled these loads up a steep road, then up a long hill and then we hiked with it along the trail and finally dumped it. Three times we did this. After we were finished, we had to find a rock, get it approved by Patrick (my crew guy!) and get a chip. What we did not know was this rock was going to be carried, only in our arms, not in our pack, for almost the rest of the race. We left there, hiked back over Joe's Mountain and down to Amee Farm where we would then be chopping wood and hauling and stacking it for hours. Our new cutoff would be 8pm back at Riverside. We had to chop 30 logs, stack it and then go to the barbed wire crawl back up at the top of Tweed River Drive and then back down to RIverside by 8pm. If not, you were out of the race.

I got back to the Amee Farm, and as I came up over the side of the trail and everyone started cheering for me!! Whoa!! Completely blown away!! My friend, Karyn, was there and it was soooo nice to see her! She brought me pizza and some other snacks, but I had no time to hang out. I had to get chopping!  Our task was to chop 30 logs into 6 pieces each. It was hot out and we were in the sun for hours. People were EVERYWHERE chopping wood. So dangerous!! Axes swinging, racers running around. Joe and Andy were a tad nervous so they had us stop and haul the wood that was already chopped and stack it and then we started up again. My wood was sucky!!! I could not chop through it very well. Craig helped me chop a couple logs that I could not get through and so did Jordan (thanks, guys!). We then brought our stacks to the edge of the road and sat on it until Lisa told us what our next move was going to be. This took forever. We hauled it across the street, then when we finished that, we hauled it up to the BB. So, this made the task horribly boring, the sun was baking us, and hauling it a million times was mind numbing. Finally, when I finished, I went over to Joe to give me permission to move on to the barbed wire crawl. He looked at me and said, "move this wood across the street." NO!!!! I WOULD NEVER MAKE THE TIME CUTOFF!!! I started crying and getting freaked out that this would be the end of my race!! I let him get into my head. I continued with the task and then Jack Cary came over to me (he appeared at the best possible times in my race for very quick advice and then was gone, like a ghost!). He said "just don't quit. get yourself over to Riverside by 8pm. Do whatever it takes to get there". Ok, deep breaths, I finished what I had to, Joe then came over and said, "Grab your rocks, get to the barbed wire crawl. If you are not at Riverside at 8pm  you are done." Ok, so the fucking rock was in my hands and had all my gear and made sure I had enough food, etc, because it was going to be a long night after we completed the barbed wired crawl.

Getting back to the Amee Farm.
Rock! I HATE YOU! But, more importantly,

Bring on the wood choppin'!

Wood chopping chaos!  Photo: Chad Weberg

That 4 mile hike along the road, up Tweed River Drive, to the Barbed Wire Crawl challenge was awful. I was scared of not making the cut off.  I was slow, the rock was getting to me, I was scared shitless of the barbed wire crawl. I was crying. I luckily was walking with some pretty amazing people...Adam Connors, Chris Irving, Jordan Peters...Dan Grodinsky, DR veteran and awesome guy, kept telling me, " you can do it. You HAVE to make this cutoff, Jane." I kept plugging away. I could not stop crying. I saw Craig and Sharon and Josh Z. at the crawl, and they told me "don't worry. It is not that bad. You have to pick a card. Beat the house and you only have to do one pass through. If not, you have to do up to 5 crawls up and down the ravine until you beat the House. Plus, you are short which is an advantage at this task!! You will be ok!" Ok, I can do this.

oh snap. we have to crawl from up top there and down.
this pic does no justice and we actually had to go down further than this.

My new Ginger DR buddy, Mike Petrrizo, getting it done.

I get up there, drop my rock per Peter, take my pack off and drag it with me under the barbed wire. The ravine was about 90 yards long, steep and slippery as hell from the mud, and my pack was sliding into me the whole way down. There was a bottleneck of people coming back up but eventually I made it down. Racers were holding the wire up for each other and it actually made it go more "smoothly". I got to the bottom of the ravine and picked a card from a deck. A Queen. Phew. Now to crawl back with the pack and pick a low card from the House. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. I CANNOT GO BACK DOWN THAT RAVINE OR I WILL MISS MY CUTOFF. More bottle necks trying to get back up. I could hear Andy and Don yelling about the cutoffs, about "this is a race, just start running over people to get back up to the top." I get to the top, finally, and the deck was handed to me, and BOOM, a Jack. I win!!! Fuck you, House!! I grabbed my rock and I was off to Riverside. I was going to make it by 8pm. Just barely, though. Craig, Josh Zitmore and I head out. We get back and Andy said to go in and get some lasagna (what? this the death race!? Naps and food?) and we have a few minutes to get ready for the all night hike up Bloodroot to the Chittenden Reservoir. 30 mile hike to come....although I did not know it was going to be 30 miles.....

Pack is ready, feet ready (thank you, again, Sharon!), rock in hand. "Go get in line and Joe will recheck your rock." Joe approved it again and we headed out. We had to carry this in our arms the entire way to the reservoir. For 30 miles. I needed my trekking poles to stay sane and to move fast. But, I had to carry this fucking rock when hiking??!??! Oh shit. Josh Eckler, Josh Zitmore, Craig, Luke Gregory, and some others I can't remember right now, head out/meet up with each other. Josh Eckler knows the way so we follow him since everyone is so damn slow. But, we had to stop at the top of a trailhead to wait to get further instructions. We would have been way ahead but the game had started. So, we stood in the rain and there were random people up there drinking beer and playing was all so weird. Jason Hayden eventually came up with his car and gave us instructions....we had to meet Andy at a trail junction. We saw Andy, he told us it would be about 8 miles from there. HA!!!! Whatevs, Andy!! A tad more than 8 miles!! Rock was pissing me off, so Craig and Josh helped make a harness with my webbing. Craig helped me carry the rock. I hated that rock so much. Eventually, it was dark, the rain stopped, the moon came out and I was all alone...I could not keep up so I put on the Ipod full of angry hiphop/rap that Craig loaned me. That thing got me through the night!!!! I was in my own little world of "bitches and hos and mutherfuckers" and booming  music and I was in thankful for old school Public Enemy, Eminem and Rage Against The Machine that whole night. :) At one point, Jack Cary came out of nowhere and chatted with me. I was starting to sleepwalk and kept thinking, "the sun will start coming up at 4:30am" light. Soul sucking mud slowed me down but I keep cruising. Eventually, I came upon Craig and Josh Z sitting in the middle of the trail taking a break. We caught up a bit and then we started out again. Off and on over that next few hours as the sun came up, I was sleep walking like crazy, starting to hallucinate...which was amazing!! I was seeing houses, people, hearing things in the woods, voices, seeing skulls on shimmering leaves. I hiked some with Amy Palmiero-Winters and she shared lollipops with me to help me stay awake. At one point, she took her prosthetic leg off (she had lost her leg in a motorcycle accident) and tended to the horrible blisters and sore spots on her leg. She is amazing and a huge inspiration to me and I feel so lucky to have been out there with her. Other people started catching up, Peter St. John, Sean Meehan, etc, people that helped me gather a second wind of energy!!

9:30am??, Sunday:
We finally got to the Chittenden Reservoir access road, I saw Stacie Weber Preston and Shelley Bishop Koenig, two strong front running women, and they were heading back out after the swim to make it back to Pittsfield, but had to go over what I had just came from. I am feeling pretty beat at this point but finally make it there and was told to go check in with Joe....we now had to haul 7 buckets of gravel to help patch a driveway. Ok, more gravel....did it, done. Now, time to swim. It might be 10am or so at this point? Not sure. But, Sharon was there and Patrick. Josh Grant. Jack Cary. I think Johnny Waite and Patrick Walsh. I needed to see these people. I was tired from hiking all night and now it was time to swim. All I knew was that I had to swim one mile and then spin the wheel when I got back to see if I had to swim one or two more laps. I got my life jacket on and jumped in. I could barely see the damn buoys it was so far out there!! Ok, don't look at them, just swim. Just do it. So, I was off. The whole time I was getting worried "please don't  spin the wheel and get two more laps. I will miss the cutoff to get back to Pittsfield!!" I moved fast not only because of the cutoff but to also stay warm. I get back after that first mile, I get out (walking on blistered feet on rocks was not fun) and Melissa Crossman told me it had changed, that i could not spin the wheel yet, in fact I had to do another lap. FUCK!! They are starting to change the rules as they go...common for the Death Race to rattle you and get you to quit. Ok, out I go. I did not look at the buoys again and just did it. Don't think. I pulled from Craig's advice often during that swim. AND, every damn time I pulled that left arm out of the water to swim stroke, I looked at my bracelet and thought of Faye and Aida. Just do it. I have been through the worst already in life, just fucking do it. All of a sudden, a boat comes out to me and says I need to be back 12:30pm cutoff. I swam like a mofo!! This is the pinnacle point in my race!! I need to meet that cutoff! And, I did.

I swim in, crying. Melissa is crying. My blistered feet were screaming at me as I climbed on shore over the rocks. I walk up to the wheel. Don is there. Sharon is there. I spin it and I had a gut feeling I was screwed. It landed on one more lap. There is no time to swim the last lap! SHIT. I lose it. I am hysterical and Don says quietly, "Go see Joe". I walk up to Joe with Sharon, barely able to articulate asking what I need to do next. I say something like this, "I have one more lap. What do I do now? I just swam so much!!?? I want to keep going." Joe says calmly, "There is always a solution. Gather your stuff and come see me."

Spinning the wheel for the fate of your race.
It got me. Photo: Peak Races

This is where Sharon saves me. I had just hiked 30 miles, swam 2 miles, and now being an official racer was in danger. Is it possible I won't be bringing home that skull in memory of Faye? Sharon takes over, fixing my feet up, telling me that I can do it, getting me changed up, putting my pack together. Don was barking that we had to get going immediately to head back out to Pittsfield to be at Peter Borden's house for the next time cutoff, which we were all confused about. I still don't  even know when that time was. Anyway, I go up to Joe, still a blubbering mess, and he says "Give me your bib, you are unofficial. You can continue racing but you are no longer official." BOOM. Oh my god. No skull for Faye. This was perfectly played by Joe because he totally HAD me emotionally. That was the last thing in the list to try to get me. Physically, nope, still strong. Mentally, nope, I blasted through that swim and was ready for more. Emotionally? Yup, he could have had me at that moment. No skull for Faye. Unofficial. Giving that bib back HURT SO BAD. (I still want it, by the way!) Don is still yelling to get going. I could have packed it in and left. 

Truth is setting in. About to get Bib pulled and go on unofficially.
I am a mess.

"Fuck you all!" I say to myself. I am going on. I can still memorialize my daughter just by FINISHING this race.

1pm, Sunday:
So, Sharon gets my ass in gear. I have no idea who I am going to hike with or how to get back to Pittsfield. I fell into a group of people, thankfully, and eventually saw Craig again. That whole time I was confused. Craig was sleep walking and trying to stay awake. A big thunderstorm rolls in. Soaked. We get back to Pittsfield and go back to Amee BB to get food, etc. We are hearing reports we missed the time cutoff/we can still meet the cutoff at Peter Borden's house. We hear people are diving under muddy water, chopping more wood, have their feet bound together and climbing up Joe's Mtn to get to the top to memorize something...if you fail to recite it correctly when you get back to the bottom of the mountain, then you will have to crawl back up again. HOLY SHIT, the race is ramping up FAST. So, a few us make it to Peter's house finally by 7, I think, where we are told to check in with Joe. He tells us we have to finish cleaning up after the wood chopping and then we are on to Hayden's House for a "shitty task that will take hours." Really? A shitty task that will take hours!! Big surprise!! 

6:30pm, Sunday:
So, we head out to Jason and April Hayden's house just up the road. Our task, to haul 20 buckets of dirt/gravel to their house over the next 4.5 hours to fill in potholes in their driveway. Walk down the road, fill up bucket, walk back, dump it in the driveway, walk back, hallucinate, listen to stoned neighbors play loud music and listen to their GIANT dog bark at each of us every time we walk by...REPEAT FOR 4.5 HOURS. At about 11pm, Thomas rides by on his bike and says "Midnight cutoff...get this done and get to Riverside or you're out." Not much time! So, we finish up, Craig is all ready done and at Riverside, I dump my last bucket and start jogging with my stuff. Cutting it close!! I get there and racers are doing PT. I check in at the pool house at midnight, see Craig and a bunch of others, and we are then told that we need to be back at 6am when the Casino opens with our tux on, gear list and gear.

Craig calls Sharon to pick us up at Riverside at around 2am and the three of us head back to Amee BB and sleep until 5am. 

6am, Monday:
With Tux on, we arrive at Riverside. Racers are being organized into groups based on the number and color of chips they earned the past three days. I am in the unofficial group of folks who lost their bib along the way but decided to continue on regardless. One by one, the Official Racers were taken into the casino to gamble for their Skull. Lots of happy racers coming out with their skulls while we unofficial racers sit back and wonder if we will even get shot at earning one after all. I had no bib, no skull. Can I get either one? In the past, Joe and Andy gave the unofficial racers skulls but we are told that is not the case this year.

6am, waiting for the Casino to open to start gambling for skulls and bibs.

My "long lost family", Craig and Sharon, after Craig received
his Official Finisher skull! Congrats, Craig!!
And, he could not have done it without his amazing wife/crew, Sharon!

Finally, it comes down to us. We gather around Joe and he says, "ok, you guys can line up at the Casino and you can gamble to get your bib back. BUT, if you want to repeat the Bloodroot hike and go back to the rez and do one more lap of swimming, you can do that to earn your skull." I think to myself, "this is a no brainer" and say to Joe, "I'm in!" I looked at Craig, and then I hopped up to get myself going. Joe said, "ok, get your stuff and be back here in an hour to leave." 

So, I ask Craig to tape my feet, (he whispers to me, "this is badass!'), he gives me a speech about how my feet are a wreck but I can do it. Don't pay attention to the pain. Sharon is getting my food and pack ready.

Bad picture, but here is Craig taping up my blistered feet,
giving me a pep talk, and me stuffing my face with chips before we head out for the
final hike/run in hopes for the coveted skull.

All of a sudden, there are 21 people with me, packs ready to roll.

Andy and Peter come over and say "do you realize how stupid this is?" Yup, this is completely stupid, I say to myself!! Y'all threw it out there as a final challenge!

So, Peter and Andy change it to a time trial run. We have to meet certain cutoffs along the way to the trail head if we don't we can't continue on. I knew I was going to be too slow. My feet hurt, I had been up and at 'em for 70+ hours, I was tired. Some of the 21 racers were crying, not sure they could do it. I just lined up and ran when they said. We were off. I was trying to run as fast as I could with my pack, but I was just too slow. Sharon and Craig were driving next to me as I was running, cheering me on and telling me to keep going! Unfortunately, I did not make it to the second cut off in time and Joe was standing there waiting. He said, "you are done, Jane, stop." I grabbed his hands and said "If i get by you, I am going!" So, here we are, wrestling in the middle of the road, laughing, he calling me crazy, and then I finally gave up. He says the race is done just up the road anyway and that there is no hike to Bloodroot. I started crying, asking him for a skull....pleading with him that I hoped to have inspired people to get out of their comfort zone ONE MORE TIME after being depleted from racing for 70+ hours...Peak Race's moto being "People Inspiring People." Nope, no skull. So, my gamble of getting my bib back or skull did not work out for me. BUT, 5 MORE PEOPLE GOT SKULLS on that last run to the trail head. I am happy with that.

Joe shook my hand and said, "come train with me sometime."

And, that folks, is how my Death Race, 2013 year of the Gambler, ended.


After I got home Monday night, I received so many awesome messages from people who had been following the race!!! Thank you to everyone! Jack Cary reached out and said he was giving me his 2011 Death Race skull, stating "I earned it." He and I will meet up at the end of the month for a beer and to talk about the race. Frank Fumich, endurance legend, and who I met on top of Joe's Mtn in March at the Peak Snowshoe Race, sent me his one and only Death Race skull with the following note:  "Jane, massive effort at the DR!! "She" is my only one, but happy to give to you. You earned it! Frank". This Death Race community is nothing like I have ever witnessed or been a part of. From the help of Craig and Sharon, to my crew guy, Patrick Vericco, Sheryl Kline of Good JuJu Granola (look her up! I saw happy Death Racers eating her goods all weekend!), to DriSuit Technologies for providing a kick ass waterproof phone case to protect my Iphone, to Achiva Energy who provided nourishment, to all of the Death Race veterans I saw volunteering this past weekend at the race: Patrick Walsh, Johnny Waite, Ray Morvan, Robin Crossman, Jack Cary, Dan Grodinsky, Joshua Grant, etc, offering me words of "don't quit, keep moving, don't listen to Joe or Andy or Don." Also, my sweet friend, Michelle Roy, sent her blessings via her boyfriend and my friend, Bob William, and Kevin Lowe, Lynn Lena and Dave French coached me along the days prior! Mike Pavlisak, Michelle Lomelino, Lee Biga, Jordan Peters, Rebecca Daniels Hansen, Keith Glass, and Peter St. John were veterans racing who would make me laugh and or give me some good words along the way, too. And, we can't forget the New England Spahten volunteers!!! What a crew!! I felt so supported and felt like someone always had my back. How can you quit when you have support like that!??!!? You don't quit. Find the people you love the most in this world, get them on your side, and you will always be able to accomplish what you are set out for. The Death Race teaches you so much about yourself, of course, but it also reminds you that you are surrounded by the most legit people in the world.

Oh, and memorializing Faye? Her memory was carried through that race. I feel as though I did some major healing out there...that I finally moved beyond a massive wall that I was not brave enough to crawl over for years. When I got home from the race, I was able to finally put away her tiny urn and incorporate her sweet pictures with all of the other family photos on our wall. She is now one with our family, no longer this separate entity that I felt I had to hold special....holding her separate from our family for 8 years was heavy and tiring. More heavy than the rock I carried for 40+ miles over the weekend. Thank you, Joe, Andy, Don and Jack for providing this experience that allowed me to move on and lighten the load of my grief. I love you all!!

Frank's Death Race Skull and his note
with the chips I earned

And, yes, I will be at the 2014 Death Race, Year of the Explorer.  :)