Learning from the Death Race
June 26th is the start of the Death Race in Vermont and my 4th one. They say it will be the last one but there are a lot of skeptical thoughts on this happening. I bought my plane ticket a few weeks ago and the gear list came out recently with the usual odd mandatory items.
Currently, I am trying to find a dress suitable for church but also one that I can wear at the Death Race. Don’t ask; we just do what we are told! I know for me, when the first gear list hits us, that is when I start having some anxiety over going and questioning why I do these things. Given the fact that last year lasted about 68 hours and we went over 100 miles, if this really is the last one, it should prove to be pretty epic. Guess we’ll find out soon.
3 years ago after following coverage of World’s Toughest Mudder, I had a conversation with someone about why anyone would want to do that. I looked at it as someone who had something similar to a death wish and just wanted to torture themselves. Well, I ate those words last year after I signed up for my first Death Race. Since the beginning of 2014, I have done Crossfit Xiphos Catamount Games, 3 Death Races and the SUCK. Coming up, I have another Death Race, The Ultimate SUCK, Sealfit 20X Challenge and the SISU Iron in early 2016. I have also been accepted to Fuego y Agua Survival Run 2016 and am considering World’s Toughest Mudder. Dominated primarily by men, the female participants are typically outnumbered by about 85% and depending on the event, there is no scaling based upon gender. I am also usually one of the oldest females out there competing by 5-15 years. From the very beginning, I am at a bit of a disadvantage.
I am by no means an expert on the subject but I can provide a personal perspective and the mental aspect behind it for me. I don’t do any of these for anything more than self-serving reasons. True, I may or may not walk away with a skull or a coin but at the end of the day, those serve only as mementos of what I achieved. Physically and mentally, I walk away each time having learned just a little bit more about myself as a person and my limits. We all have our breaking points and being able to push past them to keep moving is a huge internal achievement. I have learned the mind will shut down way before the body will.
This is probably the best thing that could happen. For me, my brain can be my worst enemy; it tells me when I am feeling pain or how tired I am. Once I get to a point where my brain can’t say these things to me, I hit the autopilot stage. This is where I just GO. I don’t ask questions and try to reason with what I am doing, rather I just do it. I have hit my wall many times and I learn with each event how to get past it a little more on my own. There is a reason I have a crew. Sometimes, you just need someone to believe in you to help you believe in yourself. When you are physically and mentally exhausted and the brain is no longer functioning, someone saying “you got this” goes a long way. But even then, you have to have the willpower to get back up and stay moving. When I look back on these moments, they are the ones that resonate with me and will stay with me for a lifetime. I have had plenty of them.
With the next Death Race this week, I can’t help but make this something I continue to think about. I am slowly gathering my mandatory gear and had already stepped up my training from the normal level. I keep having many moments of my past Death Races play over in my mind which I evaluate and think on how to do even better for the next one. Planning for the unknown is never an easy thing but that is part of the game. We have been told to be ready to start racing at any point after 8:59 am on June 26th. I will have my gear and be ready to go. As I embark on what will be a very long weekend, I will carry with me a few things I have been given which bring me internal strength and remind me to never stop moving. I will look for the sunrise around 4:30 each morning over those beautiful mountains in Vermont to tell me I have made it to a new day. I will remember that “Every man dies but not every man lives”. I have chosen to live and be relentless in doing so.