Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Li (Death Race) fe

First and foremost this post is my excited announcement that I will be racing in Pittsfield Vermont  June 15th through the 17th? 18th? 19th? Who the 2012 Death Race.  The post has been a few days in the making, but as most of you know, that thing we call life is always getting in the way.  So let me catch you up there first.  

I've been truly blessed these past few weeks.  A month ago my close friend Jennifer and her awesome husband Eric came up to Tyler for a visit.  I had planned to cook dinner for them at our house, but a combination of a hectic schedule and my procrastinating personality left me with nothing to cook and no plan of what to cook the day they were supposed to be here.  Abort plan A and commence with plan B.

Here, I must digress for a second time.  Heather and I have been researching extensively food, nutrition, and healthy eating and living for a few months now, and as a result we have become pretty much vegetarian, but not quite vegan.  I'll still have some cheese or an egg here or there, but not too often.  In addition to that, we are juicing fruits and veggies daily and eating a large portion of our diet as whole-raw foods.  I have a whole blog post planned for that topic so I'll stop there for now and get back to the first digression from my original digression...dinner. (confused yet? I almost am!)

So where can a vegetarian go get something yummy to eat while still giving his non-vegetarian friends a tasty option?  We decided on Mongolian barbeque.  Which is how we found ourselves discussing cafeteria food at schools in Texas less than two feet from the table beside us.  As we are ranting about how ridiculous the food choices are and how wasteful the school policies are, one of the ladies at the next table over interjects her two cents into the discussion.

After a few minutes of discussion, she tells us that she works at a local elementary school.  We connect based on the fact that I'm a teacher without a job, looking for substitute work.  The conversation continues, she texts some people from my last school about me, and they of course tell her how awesome I am :)  She eventually reveals that she just doesn't work at a local elementary, she's actually the Assistant Principal.  She tells me about an upcoming long term sub job that I might be able to do. We part ways for the rest of the meal, and I don't really think too much of the whole encounter.

One week later exactly I get a call from the principal at her school.  They have an opening for a teaching position and she wants to know if I'm interested in interviewing for the it. I told her I was, suppressing my exuberance long enough to hang up the phone, before I lost it in excitement.  I interviewed for the job and got it.

I had two days to help move a teacher out of my classroom and set it up for my kiddos...not nearly enough time!  So...I'm now teaching 21 first graders at Douglas Elementary here in Tyler Texas!!! As I type this I can barely talk, my voice a casualty of my first two weeks of my new career.  I  don't think I could have gotten luckier in the whole deal and I don't just have any job...I've got a great class of kids, a very supportive administration and some pretty awesome coworkers!

All of that to say that life has been a whirlwind the past few weeks and that's why it's taken me a few days to write this important blog.  On to the original topic...Death Race 2012.

What is the Death Race?  It's a 48 hour grueling test of not only your physical endurance, but also and probably more so, your mental strength.  Here's a quick montage from this year's race if you haven't heard of it before.

If you've read any of my previous blogs you know I started this blogging endeavor after reading THIS BLOG written by Johnny Waite.  It's an account of his training sessions, preparing for the Death Race.  I was hooked.  I kept up with his training and his trip to the event.  He was one of only 35 finishers out of 235 entrants...80 didnt even show up and 120 quit during the race.

Fast forward to this past Saturday.  Johnny posts this on facebook:  

Death Race 2012 is June 15. As an alumnus, I can register one additional person at a significant discount. Who will commit to doing it with me. I am serious. It will be the best/worst experience of your life. Message me ASAP if you are interested. 

As you read down the comments you see things like "Let me be the first to say ....... No fucking way!!!!!!"(which nine people liked) and "I love that you had to add the 'I am serious' part just to clarify. lol" and " BTW. Asking people to join you in an outing wherein "you may die" is somewhat akin to handing someone a bottle and asking "does this taste poisonous?" Just sayin...."(which 5 people liked)  so naturally I commented too.  But instead of telling him how crazy he was, I told him how crazy I wanted to be too!

And that's how it came to be that I'll be Death Racing next summer.  I won't be the fastest or the strongest physically...But I'll be ready mentally and I plan to give myself incredible leverage...that's what will separate me from the vast majority of competitors who DNF every year.   

Here's an excerpt from a post Johnny wrote after his experience:   
As I looked around the church at the 35 finishers, I thought, "What is the difference between us and the 125 who dropped out, or even the other 80 who did not even start?" There did not seem to be an easy answer. It certainly wasn't just physical strength, as I watched huge, chiseled Marines quit. And it wasn't just conditioning either, as there were phenomenal triathletes who fell by the wayside too.  
The next obvious thing to consider was mental toughness, but we all seemed to have that at the outset, and I know that some of the people who were no longer racing would have never ever ever imagined not finishing. Obviously they had demonstrated mental toughness in the past.
Not being able to see inside anyone else's head, I turned my attention to mine. What had kept me going? Well, my fundraising for POGO. I had promised a beautiful young girl that I would finish. I said "If she and her family can survive three years of cancer treatment, then I can survive three days of racing." Plus the 60+ people who had donated over $5,000.00 to that cause. Then there were Jack and Katy. I actually posted on Facebook that I wanted them to be able to tell people "My Dad completed the Death Race" and not "My Dad started the Death Race but quit when it got hard."
Speaking of Facebook, by broadcasting my training and my progress and my commitments online, I now had thousands of people who would want to know how it went. I could not just sneak back into town in the night and never really mention it again.
So, as I realized, all of this was leverage. Leverage on myself. I had thrown my hat over the fence, as the saying goes, and now had to go get it. No matter what. Reading some people's blog posts after the race, I found that they had left themselves loopholes - where there was still room to call it a success for having tried. I don't think I could have given myself that credit. I had bet the house. I can, however, think of too many other ventures where that wasn't the case. Where I had quit long before I started and then went through the motions. What if I only started things from now on that I intended to finish, no matter what. How powerful a perspective would that be to live from?

So this begins my Leverage.  I will finish next summer.  I'm not leaving myself  any outs.  Hell, if anyone probably should have had an out last year it was Johnny.  Going into the race he had foot, shoulder, and knee injuries and had been on doctors orders not to run for many weeks heading into the race.  But he gutted it out anyway.

"Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how
far one can go."

-T.S. Elliot

Any and all of you are more than welcome to come to cheer us on this summer.  Hopefully I can even con a few of you into being my crew for the race! 

If you want to learn more about the race check out  The video there is a couple years old and the race is much longer now, but it still gives you insight to how it works.  Thanks for reading all of this (if you made it this far) - I have to write an essay about why I want to do the Death Race this weekend and I'm headed down to Austin for Tough Mudder, which seemed hard before, but now seems sorta puny  compared to what I've got ahead of me, but I'll try to post again next week!  Thanks again to Johnny Waite for changing my life last spring, and again this week.


  1. Dude how do you even train for this? You can't just run. You can't just chop wood. And its not like you can do walk-throughs of the race, first because you don't know what its going to be and second, its two f#@(##@ days long. Beside the tough mudder type races and stuff, are there any ultra-marathons or long tri's in your training schedule in the next, what, 9 months until the race?

  2. Oh, PS: Sick. Good luck my friend.

  3. I'm so looking forward to racing alongside you JT. Thanks for the props!!

  4. holy hell, what an endeavor you have planned for yourself! Good luck and keep us posted!! :)

  5. JT, that's amazing. I'm so excited for you. What an adventure! And how cool to be running it because of someone who has inspired you so much?! I've noticed of you and Heather that you both have such a positive outlook on life, and such great attitudes. That alone will get you farther in the race than many of the other runners. Good luck, and I can't wait to hear what happens!! And congratulations on the job!! That is such a cool story of how it came about! Man, if someone heard me talking about the incompetencies of school lunch programs, I can tell you I WOULD NOT have gotten a job! hahaha

  6. Thanks for reading and commenting everyone! Jake - I'm just going to focus on overall conditioning rather than mastery of any specific tasks since you don't really know what will be required. It does seem that chopping wood is a fairly common event so I'll be doing quite a bit of that,

    This is the start of a busy stretch coming up for me. Tough Mudder this weekend, a shorter warrior dash in Nov 19 and then a Super Spartan Dec 3.

    Eventually I'll need to get in some training that starts out in the evening and goes all night and into the next day. That will be a little while from now though!