Friday, October 4, 2013

Quest for My DR skull....and Team Mousclestache!

Team Death Race 2013.

57 hours of racing. Hardest freaking thing I have ever done. In  my eyes, harder than the 76 hour 2013 Summer Death Race I participated in.

24 hours of quarrying and hauling rocks. Zip tied to a rope and bushwhacking/hiking through some of the night. Zip tied to each others ankles and wrists hopping up and down a steep hill. Sitting in a cold river making a human dam (twice!) while having buckets of water dumped on us. Hiking to Killington from Pittsfield for 4+ hours in hypothermic rain. Doing burpees in a muddy, rainy bar parking lot at 1am. Sitting around soaking wet for hours during the night waiting for a 28 mile race to begin, a race we would have to finish as a team in order to earn the SKULL. That was the Team Death Race. My team and I finished, myself crossing the finish line after 57 hours. Marshall, Jordan, Ron, and I pushed through whatever Andy, Joe, Peter and Don told us. Thing is, I barely saw my team from the moment we started the race. We chopped wood together for about 45 minutes together in the beginning and then we were separated pretty much until the end, 57 hours later. I was "alone". No team, no crew, making decisions about my food and water, taping my feet a few times, and keeping my head in the game. BUT, I WAS NOT ALONE FOR 57 HOURS. I had Team Mousclestache, four amazing, strong, friendly, handsome men from Alabama, who I had been wanting to meet for while, who helped keep me in the game throughout that weekend. Here is how it played out.

Team Mousclestache!
Kevin Lowe, Quinn Otte, Cole Leighton and Ian Morgan.
Funniest bastards...EVER.
Team Tears, Tires, Tiles and Father Time (my team name! Tears for me since I am crier, Tires for Jordan Peters, since he pushed/rolled a 6 foot tractor tire for 17 miles earlier this year, Tiles for Ron Corrado, who works with tiles, and Father Time for Marshall Breite, a 60 year old badass, super strong racer....oldest guy to have finished the ultrabeast and the Death Race!) showed up at 11am to register, get our death race bib (lucky number 013 for me!) memorize some items, and then gather downed trees to split into a cord of wood. Soon after, Andy, Don and Peter gathered us and had us climbed to the top of Joe's Mtn. NBC was there filming us and the Spartan Championship in Killington throughout the weekend so carmera people were here and there during our tasks.

Two of my teammates: Jordan and Ron
Once we got to the top of the mountain, Don had us line up, shortest to tallest, which meant I was first in line being the smallest one in the group of 70+ people. There were 5 women and the rest dudes. Don randomly counted out 8 of us, myself and 7 other men. Great group! Daren De Hares, Darrin Ingram, Tom Lee, David Kim, Josh Eckler, Mike Pavlisak, and Jerry Libecki.We were told to hike down a 1/2 mile-ish to a quarry, pull some rocks out the woods and haul them back to the top of the mountain to that quarry. We needed to haul 50 rocks back up there before 4pm. All the other racers were told to go somewhere else on the mountain. We found out later one group was making a bridge somewhere and another group was working on trails? I still don't know. We did not see anyone else until about midnight I think. So, we hauled rocks back to the main quarry over those 4 hours and then Team Mouslestache joined us! Kevin, Cole, Ian, and Quinn. Yeah for more big guys! because Andy came back and we needed to start moving those huge rocks and make stairs. Pick ax out, the big guys started chopping the big rocks and moving whatever they could. I helped haul the other rocks to the staircase to start placing them. It was hot. We hauled and hauled, set rocks, were told to remove them and start over. For hours. The other teams eventually met up with us. Joe showed up and we got leftover lasagna, rolls, and apple crisp from the Farm to Table dinner that was happening just down the mountain at Amee Farm. We chowed while being told "you better eat up because you are going to need it later on in this race!" Once we finished eating, we were told to climb the rope or do 50 burpees. 50 burpees for me. Then we headed back up the mountain to move rocks up and down and up and down until sunrise...6am ish. Mind numbing. But, I did get to work with two kick ass, amazing women; Dana Lynn Whitemore from Alabama and Christa Mockenhaupt from Florida. Strong, motivated and hard working women. I feel fortunate to have met them and worked hard with them! Dana and I carried many rocks together throughout the night while her partner, Darrin, was one of the big guys who was up at the top moving the big daddy rocks. After sunrise, we continued with more rocks. We did this until about noon on Saturday....totaling 24 hours of moving and placing rocks. Each team finally found each other and we were responsible for setting a section of trail with stairs. Boom, our team made a great section. It needed to be approved by Peter Borden.

In those 24 hours, Team Mouslestache provided me with:
1. Water- thank you, Cole, for filling up my camelback!
2. Laughs- so many. oh my god. Thankful!
3. One liners as we passed on the trail of relentless rock hauling: "Jane, you are tougher than woodpecker lips!" per Quinn.
4. What Mouslestache had to really offer to my race came later.

Moving rocks for 24 hours! Insanity! Kevin and Quinn pictured here

Christa and her team! On the end in the white long sleeved shirt,
is my friend, Joe Falcone, who I met in Miami at the Miami Spartan Super
and with whom I raced with in the Summer 2013 Death Race.
Tom Lee, super bad ass and lucky to have raced with him!!!

Dana, who I moved rocks with for hours during the night.
Cole snackin'

Big Mike Pavlisak!! Love this guy. We had a ball together.
And, he will be my partner for the Summer 2014 Death Race.
He had me laughing so much!

After resetting a couple rocks, our staircase was approved and then we were told to head to Peter's house in Pittsfield. We needed to be there by 1:30pm. Here come the mind games. Part of Peter's lawn had a nice long pile of clipped grass for rolling in. But, first, we had to all lie down on our bellies, next to each other, facing the river and were told to low crawl down over rocks into the river. The river was not deep but enough to make you cold! Peter told us we had to make a human dam so that the water would rise over a rock that was behind us. I am trying to guess how long we were in there, 15 minutes?, but everyone was shivering, at one point I got up and went up and down the line of people and stuffed rocks in the places where water was getting through. The water was almost above the rock but not enough. People were uncomfortable and shivering so a suggestion was made to all get up and get closer to the rock. Boom, the water covered the rock and we got out. We then had to roll through the grass clippings and then do the human dam, again. This time, we had to set up where Peter told us, a little further down the river. Again, it took a while, but we eventually got it to work and we were so psyched to get out. People were really cold second time around. Next task was to find two rocks in the rapids, read the number sequence, and report back to Peter. You could not pick up the rock but had to immerse your face in the water to read the numbers. Impossible to read because they were strategically placed in the rapids. So, we all eventually helped each other, reported back to Peter who had trick questions about the numbers. Finally, done with the river.

Part of the human dam.
Oh, and that wicked big guy is Darrin Ingram!!
He gave me a workout program a month before the DR. He is great!!!

Next, we head over to Don as a team and get zip tied together. One member of the team had to have his/her wrist tied to the others ankle so they were bent over the entire time. Poor Marshall took the hit for our team.The rest of us were tied together by ankles only. It was awful, trying to coordinate steps so that person bent over was not getting dragged along. The zip ties dug into your ankles. Frustration setting in as a cadence was figured out. We had to walk up the driveway, across the road up a hill to a tree to read/memorize a school schedule. Then, go back down to Don who would then ask you a few questions about what you read. We had to do this 3 times. UGH. When we got back, Peter made us to 25 backward rolls zip tied together. I was miserable!! This was so hard and hurt my neck every time. I was so pissed. I was crying. This was the only time in the race I was fucking ANGRY. When we finished, I just walked away and got my stuff and was ready to get the hell out of there. I say good job on the frustration level, race directors!!! And, I still love you, Peter Borden!!  :)

We were then told to grab a long rope, lining up shortest to tallest, again me being first. Our destination was the top of Tweed River Dr where our cars were. We walked back across the road from Peter's through the woods, across Route 100 and then past Joe and Courtney's house. At the top of Tweed River Dr, we were told by Andy to drop all our tools, go as light as possible, get our glow sticks out, reflective vests, etc. I changed my sneakers for the first time and retaped my feet, stashed more food in my pack, etc. We were then ziptied to the rope by Don. A nice, bushwhack/hike in the dark was about to begin.

The rain had not started yet, but we were stumbling around, going the wrong way, the GIANT blackberry bushes slashed my ankles and lower legs (oh the is pretty bad) getting yelled at to turn around, it was SUPER SLOW hiking. We did this for about two hours or so?? I don't really know. I do remember that I was laughing with Big Mike Pavlisak and Michelle Roy and Bob William alot. Hilarious. We eventually got off of the VAST trails and woods roads and got to onto South Hill Rd, were cut free of the rope and told to run a couple miles down to Rt 100. When we got there, Andy greeted us and told us that we had to hike on Rt 100 to Killington to beat the 1am closing time Wobbly Barn bar. Ok, 13 mile trek I think it was. All was fine until 10pm, the skies opened up and it started to rain hard. This is when my race with Team Mouclestache would begin!!!

Ah, Michelle Roy. A woman I love and respect!!
And, Dan Grodinsky! There is alot of awesome in this picture!
Kevin, Cole, Quinn and I hiked quite a bit on this walk to Killington. I think Ian was up ahead? Eventually, it was just Quinn and I. We chatted it up! He sang to me. We kept each other company in that shitass, cold rain. People were driving by us, honking with respect, but one knob three a beer can at Quinn! Wtf?!?! He was fine but that sucked. We finally got to Rt 4 and to the access road of Killington and it was raining even harder. I was praying that the friggin' Wobbly Barn would be just ahead but it was not. The hike was relentless and annoying. Quinn and I stuck it out. Soaked to the bone and the temperatures were dropping as we were walking up the access road. We finally arrived at the bar at around 11 or 11:30pm I think and we had to do 100 burpees before we could enter. In the muddy parking lot in a downpour. And, just inside, beyond that door, was warmth, beer, food. Brutal! So, a bunch of us were doing our burpees, I finished, went in and started to take some of the wet clothes off. Then, I thought, I don't have many clothes left, I should not change out of these wet ones. Next, I thought, I have to call my friend, Craig Pannell. I need someone to talk me through this cold, hypothermic night that will make me want to quit. So, I called Craig who lives in California. Craig is the guy who helped me train for the Summer Death Race and who gave me tons of advice on the mental game and how to push through. Well, Craig is exactly what I needed when I was inside that bar wondering how I was going to get through the next 17 hours if it was going to rain that whole time. We talked for a while, I cried, scared of the cold, he told me to go get a whiskey and down it and get back outside, which is the opposite of what I wanted at that moment but it was EXACTLY what I needed to do: to get away from the comforts, the warmth, the fun, etc, because that alone would make you want to quit. No dry clothes, no warm food, down the whiskey, eat a bit and get back out in it. "You will be fine. Just go back out. You know you will be done by the end of Sunday. Just get through that. You are almost there. You can do this. We love you. Get back out there." I took those words and processed them over and over and over for the next 17 hours or so whenever I was questioning quitting. I was so thankful for that conversation and for Craig being there for me yet again.

Not long after talking with Craig, we were told to get back outside and do more burpees in the rain (300?) before we headed up to the base of Killington where we would be be waiting for our next instructions/task. Ugh, so muddy and wet. We finished and then were told to walk the final miles up to the base lodge where the tents were set up for the Spartan Race in the morning. We were told we had to wait outside and could sleep, etc, whatever we wanted until the sun came up. Ok, we slogged up the road and came to the base and realized, shit, no way to warm up. We have to sit out in the cold under tents for 5 hours. People were tired, we had been racing since 11am on Friday and it was now 1amish on Sunday. Hyperthermia was about to set in for many. Mouslestache to the rescue! I huddled up with Kevin under a blanket and we both got a little warmer. Then we all moved to another Spartan Tent that had walls to block the wind. I sat in a chair shivering. Kevin says "Jane, you cold?" Yes, I am. "There are huge garbage bags in the trashcan. Put one on." Boom! That sucker was as tall as me! Perfect sleeping bag! I don't know how long I sat in the chair but I think I did sleep some. But, I woke up pretty cold so I went back to the other tent and came upon racers dealing with someone who had woken up and was in a bad hyperthermic situation. But, there was a heater there so that was going and an ambulance was called and he was ok. I was so cold that I stood around the heat for a bit, took off a couple layers off and held them up to the heater and dried them off. That was the key for me....A dry layer! Boom.....soon enough, it was 4:30amish, Ultrabeasters were arriving to get registered for the race that would start at 6:00am. Tommy Mac arrived and told us to go pick up fencing that had blown over during the night. So, we did this and then PATIENTLY WAITING for some type of warm drink to be brewed in the cafeteria!!! I wanted coffee! Something warm! Of course nothing was ready so I just hung out a bit and got warm, ate a doughnut that Margaret Schlachter gave me, hugged Yitzi Sontag and Sarah Keddel (thank you!), cried a bit and eventually we were called out to the starting line. I gathered my stuff and met the other Death Racers. Andy, Joe, Don and Johnny were there and we were told that we had to complete the Ultrabeast before 10pm and we had to finish with the entire team to earn the skull. THE ULTRABEAST?!?!?! Holy shit. That would be racing the 28 mile course with our gear. Andy told us to lighten our gear if we wanted and only take what we needed....I did not dare give up my warmer layer of clothes I had and I needed all the food I had if I was going to be out there from 6am-10pm. So, I hauled it all with me. Thankful for that decision because I needed all  my clothes by the end of the race. It was rainy and cold and windy by the time I finished on that damn mountain.

Kevin is the fool playing in front of the camera.
I am still laughing about this. Quinn is patiently waiting :)

So, we headed out as a group of team death racers. I started out with the Mouslestache boys! Cole threw me over the wall like I was a paper airplane. Strong! Those guys helped me along the way for sure. The first climb was relentless. Cole and I hiked a bunch together, talked about our families, and then cruised down through the woods. I saw Marshall again and told him that I was going to be slow and to go on without me and that I would probably do the beast only. Marshall said he was going to go for the ultrabeast. That was the last time I saw any of my team until 7pm. Which was totally ok! I had the pace I had. It was slow. My body was so tired and the climbs were straight up. I just kept moving forward. And, I was not that far behind others I would find out later. I was just alone for a bit from time to time.

The next time I saw death racers was at the unforgiving sand bag carry!! Super long hike up the ski slope with a 60 pound sand bag!! Took me an hour. I did see Kevin, Cole and Quinn here and that gave me a bit of energy! They were ahead and took off to the next climbs.

It took me an hour to carry the 60 pound sandbag up
this lift line. Relentless Forward Motion.

After this, all I remember is putting my iPod on and zoning out because it was one climb after another. At one point, I came to a summit and there was Cole! And, just down the hill was Kevin and Quinn! This would be when I would be with those guys for most of the ultrabeast course. Cole tossed me over the wall that said "ultrabeast" and this is where the Beast Course and the Ultrabeast course would officially split off.  Cole and I did a balance obstacle, which means we fell off and had to do the burpeess :) and then the 4 of us were off on the long hike. Cole and Kevin were hallucinating so much....they thought they were seeing kangaroos on this MASSIVE Rock. I was laughing so hard. Then Quinn and I split off while those guys were tripping and we hiked for quite a while together. Quinn and I were hearing things in the woods and then this guy with a red bag that looked like a pizza warmer came by us. He said he was a first aid guy. It was a little rainy and cold and I was starting to get that "QUIT" feeling. I was tired, I knew we had miles and miles to go, we were way out on the outer boundaries of Killington and I was not feeling "it" at all. Quinn saved my ass out there. He kept me in the game, convinced me not to quit, he sang to me. Thank you, buddy!!! I was at a low out there!!! We came upon the first aid guy and two people on the woman was hypothermic and huddled in a blanket and the other was Ian, Quinn's teammate. He decided out there to leave the death race and left with first aid guy. Soon after, Cole and Kevin caught up to us. Kevin was not psyched about being out there at the point either....All I remember at this point was Cole saying he did not come there to quit and he and Quinn moved on ahead and Kevin and I hiked a bit together. All of a sudden, two spartan employees were behind us and told us if they passed us that we were out of the race. BOOM! Kevin and I started running. I had to take off a couple layers now that we were running so Kevin grabbed my back pack in addition to his as I was desperately trying to change my clothes on the run! I stopped at one point and asked the staff (Matt Barber, thank you!) to not pass me while I changed. They were fine with waiting for me. I got up and quickly caught up with Kevin again and took my pack back and he and I were off on our jaunt. We had to make it to the bottom of the trail by 3:30pm. And we did! We came out at Skyship ski lift (I think?) and Andy, Todd and Johnny run over to me. Johnny says, "Holy shit, Jane! We and your team thought you were out of the race!! Jordan is going to be so excited to know you are in it!!" Andy told me that they were cutting about 6 miles off of the course for the death racers at this point, told us where to go and said that my team was about 30 minutes ahead of me. "Get going!! Your team can finish and get a skull!" So, I was off. Other death racers were ahead of me. This is where I separated from Kevin, Quinn and Cole. I remember seeing them sitting down for a bit outside of the lodge. I am so bummed that was the last I saw of them that weekend. They were so important to my race....keeping me in the game, making me laugh, throwing me over walls, singing to me, hiking with me. I was never alone because of these wonderful men. Thank you, Mouslestache!!!! Since then, I have been informed that I have an irrevocable membership to Mousclestache. :)

IPod on, relentless climb #451. About to meet up with Cole, Kevin and Quinn,again,
and to head out on to the Ultrabeast Course.

Jerry, who stuck with me on the final miles. Thanks, buddy!
Jerry and I raced together at the Summer Death Race, too.

Ok, so at this point I am alone again. There were other death racers hiking with me but no team and no Kevin, Quinn and Cole. So, it was, once again, one relentless climb after another. Up...down...up...down. It was so hard. For the final 6 miles or so, this is what we did. I think we may have had a couple more obstacles but it was mostly climbing. I met up with my buddy, Jerry Libecki and hiked with Patrick Mies for a bit. We got to a water station and I lost it and started crying. I was tired, cold, I needed to put on more clothes. It was windy and lightly raining. It was going to start getting dark soon, which meant night number three. I asked the woman at the water station to fill my camelback for me and I asked Jerry to stay with me. After I got more layers on, Jerry and I continued down the mountain, his teammate, Dan Riley, pointed us in the right direction, and we made our way down the final stretch. Before we knew it, we came around the corner and there was the finish line. We had one more mud pit barbed wire crawl, the slippery wall just after it, and then the gladiators. Fuck, I don't to fully immerse in the mud pits...cold!! So, the spectators were cheering me on and told me to crawl along the far side where there was less water. Done. Then, I climbed over that slippery wall with no problems (I usually slide back down! I was just so focused on finishing!) and then when I got back down the otherside, I looked at the gladiators and they pulled their sticks aside and let me walk through instead of thrashing me. I started crying a little and got the biggest hug from Carrie Adams, a Spartan employee, who put the UltraBeast medal around my neck. I asked her if the death race was really over and she said yes. I remember seeing Olof Dallner and Joshua Grant and getting hugs from them, who had finished the Ultrabeast that afternoon. 57 hours. DONE. All i know is that I wanted a coffee and warm shelter. :)


Thinking, "Really, am I done??!?!?"

Carrie Adams and I as soon as I crossed the finish line

Jordan finishing!!! 
My buddy, Quinn, finishing!!!

Homeless Kevin looking glad to eat something.
I don't have a finishing pic of Cole  :(
Marshall and Ron are standing on either side of me.
These are some of the other finishers
I love that I am the only chick in this pic :)

Of course we weren't totally done. We had to do some chores and put fencing away. Then we waited in the lodge for instructions. Finishers were happy and relieved and taking pictures. I finally caught up with my team!! Yay!! Hugs and we were excited that we would be getting skulls! We warmed up and had coffee and then we were told to get to the Sushi restaurant down the road because Andy and Joe were there handing out the winning skulls. So, I got a ride with Tom Lee and  his team and my team made their way down in other cars (remember our cars are all back in Pittsfield). Classic Joe...we get there and Joe comes out of the restaurant and tells us to line up along the window until all our team gets there and watch people eat and stare at our skulls which are on the inside windowsill. EVIL!!! It was super funny. We were all laughing. I called Craig to tell him I had finished. It was so good to celebrate the accomplishment with him even though he wasn't there in person. Having earned a skull this past summer, he knows what it is about. Again, I am so thankful for talking with Craig during the race.....he is yet another person who kept me in the game!

We ate food together at the restaurant, snapped pictures, got a ride back to Pittsfield from Johnny Waite (thank you!) and I crashed on the floor of Josh and Conor's B&B room. Thank you, guys! I slept from 1am to 5am and had to head home to let Seth get ready for work and to get Aida to the bus stop. Family life does not stop! Gotta jump back in.

Stats of race: this is what I heard but if someone has better information, let me know!
57 hours for my race
80 miles of hiking
Elevation?? I have no idea. Mt. Everest elevation times 2 probably :)
24 hours of quarrying and moving rocks to make more stairs
1 Ultrabeast
2 human dams
25 backward rolls zip tied to my teammates. Peter, I forgive you now that the race is done.
3 jaunts up a hill zip tied to my teammates
1 beer can to the shoulder/head averted by my buddy, Quinn. He took the hit. XOXOX
I became an adopted aunt to Quinn.
I think I only cried 3 times (miracle!)
0 blisters, bitches!!

Why so much detail here? I just want my daughter, Aida, to read this when she is older and realize that she can also take care of herself out there, make sound decisions, participate in hard things or even just get through the hardships of life. As a woman and a mother of a daughter, this is really important to me: that she grow up with the confidence that I had as a young girl/woman/adult and that you can continue to push your limits no matter how old you are.

What a weekend.
Thank you Ron, Marshall and Jordan for digging in with me to make this weekend happen.
Kevin, Cole, Ian and Quinn, Please come back to Vermont and race again.
Or put on a death race in Alabama. I will make the trip because you guys are top notch.


Looking homeless but HAPPY!

At the restaurant with Team T! Not the best pic here we are with our skulls!
and super tired :)

Joe and Andy. Smile, will ya! :)