Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Death Race 2014- DNF but DNQ! :)

Three Death Races in 7 months?!!?

Am I an idiot?

Would I have what it takes to do this again and again and again? 

You have to rise up and be 110% mentally and physically every time you enter a race like this. 

Winter is not my favorite season, but signing up for the Winter Death Race made me face my fear of the cold, hypothermia, and the inevitable "getting into the river/pond in January" challenge. I had all the winter gear already and had a handle on layer and managing getting overheated, etc. 

Then, "the email" (gear list) comes out a week before: "70 pound sandbag." *gulp*. How the crap am I going to carry a 70 pound sandbag AND my gear/food/water all weekend? I am small! How would I wrap that up and make sure it wouldn't break or how would I carry it without breaking my back? MIND GAMES. I had to let it go as much as possible or I would want to quit right then and there before the race even started. Then, the night before the race, Andy sends a new email and says women can carry a 35 pound sandbag instead. THANK YOU SWEET MOTHER OF GOD. I had hope, again.

We were required to have a partner for the race so my friend, Jerry Libecki (who I had raced with at Summer Death Race and Team Death Race and Sacramento Beast last year) and I partnered up. We were a great match! Jerry had helped me during some hard stuff at the end of the Team Death Race so it was a good fit. We met at 10am and had breakfast at the Pittsfield General Store, then went to the yoga studio parking lot and got our gear together, fixed our sandbags, made gear and food decisions, and most importantly, we tried to figure out what the sign at the general store meant...something about if we wanted to earn money before the race started at 3pm, go to the Amee Farm and chop wood. Oh great, is this the same game they play every time just to get us to do more work than we have to? Damn it. After we got out gear together and packed up, we went back to the store and had more food! Eat up, right?! While we were eating, other racers were filtering in, getting lunch and reading the "wood chopping sign' as well. Mid turkey burger, Peter Borden (who is my favorite person on the planet) came over and said to me so everyone could hear, "Jane, have I ever mislead you? You should go earn some money at the wood chopping right now." He had that death race director smile on his face that could mean either "I am telling the truth or I am fucking with you." He said it one more time and then got up from the table and left. We finished up eating and then a bunch of us decided to go over to the brown barn (our base camp for the weekend) at Riverside Farm to drop our gear off first. 

The decision to drop off our gear first and arrive at the wood chopping at 2 instead of 1pm would prove to be the decision I BELIEVE that cost me from finishing the race. We learned later that we really were required to wood for 2 hours and get back to Riverside for the 3pm start in which we had to carry our full pack and sandbag for the Time Trial Loop. Only 8(?) people out of the 40 or so actually did this and therefore, the next day, they did not have to do the Time Trial Loop that we did after the 14 mile morning hike to Sable Mtn. If I would have done my Time Trial Loop when the race started, my race would have been completely different, in that I would have been way more fresh to do that heavy load than after 24 hours of death racing.  Anyway, here are the details.

We started chopping wood at 2pm after signing our Pittsfield Worker contract, and instead of heading back to the brown barn after our two hours of chopping to official register, we were all told we had to stay there and split wood until it was finished. Joe was there "supervising" for a bit. He said "Hey Jane" and I went over and we gave each other a hug (I will always hug you, Desena!!) and continued on with the task. At around 4:30ish, Lee gave us back our worker contracts and we headed back to the brown barn to register for the race. When we got there, a few of the earlier racers were coming back from their time trial. Andy saw me and said, "Jane!! You know better! You should have been here earlier!" Then, Peter was inside and saw me and said the same thing. At that point, I still had not figured out the importance of the timing of the time trial.

Mark Webb and I waiting to register with Peter Borden.
Mark is awesome! Three time Death Race finisher
and wonderful presence at these races.
And totes has nice hair. :)

After we were all registered, Andy brought us together as a group and introduced us to two guys who were off-the-grid survivalists in Vermont. They were to show us how to make a fire without the use of matches and how to make tinder with an Altoids box and ripped up cotton t shirt pieces. Looks like this information would be a part of our race at some point! So, after the instruction, we practiced and then Andy asked us to get all our gear (minus the sandbag) and head to the Amee Farm Brown Barn. We followed the trails in the woods and got to the river....surprise! It was completely frozen over! Could it be possible that we would not have a water challenge this year!?!!? Oh god, please! Anyway, we walked across the ice easily and headed up to the farm and were told when we arrived to get into our indoor fitness outfit. We left our gear in the basement and changed and headed up to the second floor. BALLET CLASS TIME. Four hours of it! A sweet instructor named Eileen lead us through 4 hours of exercises, with an hour of Joe coming into torture us by making us do 500 leg lifts per leg, 20 minute squat pose and standing on one foot for 12 minutes, stating "I want them to hurt!!" Poor Eileen teared up and would not let Joe "buy her off", trying to make a deal with her to pay her $50 per person she could get to quit. "I cannot be bought, Joe!" So cute. So, we got through the four hours, hugged Eileen and were told to get ready and head back to Amee Farm. This was around 10 or 11pm, I think.

Jerry and I at the fire making instruction

Our fire building instructor.
Super great guy and great teacher!

Death Race Ballet!!!
20 minute squat. Thank you, Joe!
And, Mark Jones was in front of me doing ballet
and exercises. yes!! lol

Once we were back, we were told to get all our gear and the sandbag and go up the stairs to the top of the mountain. We had until 5am to go up and down as many times as we could. Each time we would check in with Anthony at the to of the mountain and then check in at the brown barn when we got back down and received a puzzle piece. We did not know how many pieces we were collecting until much later Saturday evening. So, game on. It took a while to get up the mountain...people were not moving fast with 70-100 pound packs with that sandbag weight added to it. When we got back down, we were told to drop the pack and go up and down as many times as we could before 5am. But we had to make sure we timed it right for our last trip up so that we were ready to go at 5am back at the barn. After 3 trips (I think?), Andy told us to get our packs (minus the sandbag) and that we were going to hike to Sable Mountain and summit that peak. I had an idea of where it was...I knew it was behind Joe's Mtn but I had never been there. So, we headed out. It was maybe 20 degrees. Dark. We were ready for the sun to come up. I ended up hiking with Mark Jones and Pete Coleman for a good while and I think this may have been the best part of my race. Just two amazing men and racers, very down to earth and easy to be around. We arrived at the parking lot of the trail head and Andy was there. We had to do 100 burpees...all now or 50 now and 50 when we got back from the summit. We chose to do 50 now and get going. We could see that the summit was a good distance away. The sun was starting to lighten the sky. The hike out there was not terribly hard. We had a great pace and got to the base of the last push to the summit and then the sun started coming up and it was just beautiful! We got to the top and there was Matt Baatz taking our names and numbers. We ate some food and then headed back down. We got back to the parking lot and checked back out and some amazing volunteers of Amie Meyer gave me Pepsi and chips. Thank you! Jerry and I headed back the way we came to get back to base camp. I felt pretty nauseous for a bit so we stopped and got water and then headed out. We got back around 10:30am I think. It was about a 5.5 hour 14 mile hike. Jerry and I were starving and needed solid food so we cooked upa  Mountain House meal and we were told that we had to do the Time Trial Lap now that we had not done yesterday. This would be with the full pack and the sandbag. UGH!!!! After hiking all night up and down the mountain and then just coming back from the 14 mile hike, now we were to go spend 3 hours hiking with 70-100 packs. Holy shit. Low point for me. I got my stuff on and we were also told that we had to hustle because we when we got back, we had to hike the 1.5 miles to Amee to drop off our sandbag but to first hold the bag over our heads for 45 minutes before we got rid of it. And, then after that, we had to go to Peter Borden's house to for a challenge and we had to be done with that before 6pm or we were DQd. OK, TIME FOR JANE TO LOSE IT. I got really overwhelmed, got my gear together and started out. I was crying so bad....I was afraid I would be cut off and not make it to Peter's house and finish whatever thing he had for us by 6pm.

Andy directing us on the hike to Sable Mountain.
I loved this hike! Sun came up as we were sumitting.
Like my friend, Quinn says, "It's not a Death Race until Jane cries".
Low point of the race.
Phew, smiling again. Sill on Time Trial Loop.
Jerry with his 70 pound sandbag.
That thing was truly evil.
Peter Borden and Pete Coleman.
Two amazing people!
Pete Coleman, again. Love this guy.
He brought flippers and a tube to the summer race
and carried it the whole time and SMOKED the 3 mile swim with them.
Smart racer!!!

This is when I realized how important it was to have done the time trial totally fresh the day before. Now, I was totally smoked and having to hurry this hike with 70+ pounds. I cried ALOT, folks. When we finally made it to the summit, the volunteers were there and there was a young boy happily playing in the snow. I got super emotional and all of a sudden really missed Aida. We got our stuff together after a short break and then headed back down the stairs to check in. We collected our puzzle piece and headed to Amee Farm.

We get to Amee and racers were holding their sand bags over their heads as promised. We had just got settled into holding the sandbags and then we were told to head back to base camp at Riverside. But, we could leave our sandbags! YAY! We all swore at the bags as we dropped them in the woodshed and then rushed back the 1.5 miles to base. We checked in, got another puzzle piece and then headed over to Peter's house. When we got there, Peter ziptied our right hand to our right ankle, then we dragged our selves to his yard and had to find 30 pennies in the snow. Racers were giving us tips on where they found theirs. It took about 45 minutes or less perhaps. It was starting to get dark and it was about 5:30 when we finished. Jerry and I both headed back to the barn, checked in and then we were told to drop our stuff and go up and down the mountain. This is when I got totally confused. My brain was junk. I was not processing anything correctly. I thought we had to just go up and down the mountain only. Then I saw people making fires. Huh? I asked the volunteers, I did not understand. I asked Andy, he got mad at me (I don't blame him) and said check back in with the volunteers. We were told that we had until midnight to get 18 pieces of the 24 piece puzzle and then they next cutoff was 2am. I was still totally spaced, had no strategy, stood around trying to get food in me. Andy is yelling "Jane, get going! You can't linger! Transition time matters!" I think we heard three different versions of what we had to do. So, Jerry and I went up and down the mountain a few times, made a couple fires. Mark Jones and Ryan Atkins finished their puzzle by 8pm I think and everyone else finished much later than that...after midnight. So, we figured out that we were not going to meet the 18 piece/midnight cutoff. Basically, my race was over. FUCK. But, I was not going to quit. We decided to keep moving and making fires until midnight anyway so that we could say WE DID NOT QUIT. The snow had been falling, going back and forth from sleet to snow. Tinder for fire was wet. Racers were totally zombies at this point...on autopilot...yelling at their fires.....the trail was getting slippery from being hiked on for hours. We were all digging in deep.

Ben Sexton with zip tied hand and ankle
and digging for 30 pennies!
This dude came in 7th!! Nice job, Ben!
up and down Joe's Mtn....many, many times.
So, it started to snow and sleet and made the
fire making a tad difficult as the race was
ramping up around 9pm
great shot of us making fires....over and over again

Conor (in sunglasses) crewed about 5 of us, I think!!
Amazing help and wonderful guy!!
Thank you, Conor!!! xoxoxo

Midnight came and Jerry and I approached Andy and told him we had collected 14 puzzle pieces and that we knew we were not going to meet the cutoff 4 hours earlier but kept going until the midnight cut off anyway....that we did not want to quit.  Andy congratulated us and told us we were DNF'd. He gave me a hug and I cried. I went into the barn and gathered myself a bit and then turned my focus on the racers that were coming in and that needed support. Andy let us keep our Death Race bib since we did not quit. Thank you, Andy!!!

Before I left, I got one last hug from Andy and he said, "Jane, we are so glad you come to our races."

That, right there, is just as great as receiving the skull.

Stats! (not sure the accuracy of some of these stats but this is what I heard):
60 miles trekking
15+  miles with 70+ pound pack and sandbag
30 pennies found in the snow
4 hours of ballet
40,000 foot elevation change
30 hours of racing
14 puzzle pieces earned
Many hikes up the stairs to the top of Joe's  Mtn (the stairs I helped build at the summer death race!)
learned how to make fire without matches!! I love learning new skills!

Lessons Learned:
*Transition time matters. This was my first race that taught me this.
*Keep asking questions until you understand what the hell is going on!
*Show up for the early work...who chop wood for two hours, that ain't going to break your race, but not showing up for the early work could break your race if you are a slower. And, yes, they like to confuse you and make you do more work than you need most of the time. Again, who cares. Just do it.

After the race, Conor drove me back to the bed and breakfast, I took a shower, chatted with TJ for a bit and then fell asleep around 2am. At some point in the night, Conor checked back in and said he got another room and one of the racers would bunked in with me. Cracked me up, sharing a bed with a random dude and I did not know who it was but who cares!!?! I could not tell which racer it was in the dark. I was tired, so was he and when I woke up at one point, I said, what is your name? LOL!! Yay Death Race!! Nice to meet you, Tim Midgley! Hilarious.

I love this Death Race Community.

Three Death Races done....One official finish, one unofficial finish, one Did Not Quit. I am proud of that.

Official list of finishers per Peak Races:
I love you all!!!

Bib # 
191 1 Atkins Ryan 28:43:15
220 2 Jones Mark 28:51:00
189 3 Rice Chris 29:48:00
186 4 Coleman Andrew 31:37:00
133 5 Coffin Ted 33:00:00
180 6 Godmer Christian 33:32:00
194 7 Sexton Ben 33:53:00
312 8 Grodinsky Dan 34:08:00
324 9 Belley Robert 34:09:00
316 10 Midgley Timothy 34:20:00
190 11 Dolitsky Matt 34:22:00
197 W1 Hazi Melody 34:27:00
185 12 Vreeland James 34:44:00
321 13 Taylor Shannon 34:44:30
182 14 Webb Mark 34:45:00
196 W2 Zurkinden Flo 34:50:00
304 15 Ellison Shane 34:55:00
306 15 Coleman Shane 34:55:00
301 16 Coleman Pete 35:23:00
173 17 Waller Matthew 35:55:00
195 18 Glass Keith 35:57:00
183 19 Kim David 35:59:00
193 W3 Meyer Amie 36:00:00

Shout out to the three women who finished!! Nice work!!!

Melody  Hazi, first place woman

Flo Zurkinden, second place woman

Amie Meyer, third place woman

breakfast after the race!

Next up: Peak Snowshoe Marathon on March 1. Many of these fine folks will be back for that weekend!! I am so excited to see them again!