Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer Breezes

Two paths diverged in a wood…and I took the one less traveled by…

…and then I looped around and checked out the other path, because I am an ultra marathoner. I became one for real this summer. But summer is now over and its time to head back to the University of Findlay on a more regular basis starting tomorrow. There will be meetings and free donuts all next week and then the week after that the students return and things will be fun again, but there will be no free donuts. Life is like that sometimes.

The family and I just came back from Disney World and I drove all night long, which is a very ultra-like thing to do. Yep, all night long I drank coffee and listened to music. Then I listened to this guy on the radio talking about UFO’s. Then I listened to music again. It rained for a while then it didn’t rain anymore. The driver’s side windshield wiper was ineffective and the passenger side windshield wiper was in perfect shape. Alas. Then I stopped at a convenience store in Charleston W.V. to get more coffee and interrupted a lovers quarrel between two clerks. I tried to start polite and healing conversation by telling them of my experiences in the Rattlesnake 50K run, which is their local ultra. They weren’t interested.

Driving all night is a lot like running all night except that I find that there is much less puking. And the aid stations charge you money. And no matter how much money you are willing to spend they never have pierogis. Also, they try to get you to buy Lottery tickets, and the T-shirts that you can buy all have dirty words written on them.

I guess that driving all night really isn’t like running all night at all.

But I wish it was like running all night because I miss it already.

Disney World was awesome except for the smothering heat and the part where I hemorrhaged cash day after day. The kids had a blast and everything was well done. The entertainment was great. It was all packaged up for you, just like a present; an expensive present that you buy for yourself….but a present nonetheless. I got in some impossibly awful runs. Every runner knows what its like to go to an amusement park all day long and then run after getting home at 11:00P.M. But I did the run anyway because I became an ultra marathoner this summer and so running is what I do.

I spent a lot of time this summer seeing patients and rewriting a course that I teach. I also spent a lot of time this summer chasing belt buckles. Back in 1977 I spent the entire summer pursuing Halle Stordhouse. I was so unsuccessful that, even to this day, she has no idea that I was pursuing her. This summer I was unsuccessful until I finally did succeed. Sometimes you win sometimes you lose.

Actually spending a summer pursuing something isn’t that unusual for me. I have pursued other women and I have pursued other buckles so this summer was normal. The difference this time is that I didn’t just put on some shoes and set out to conquer Mohican, with every race and training run devoted solely to it. This year I met a lot of people and made a lot of friends. I had a few very good and wonderful people that I ran ultras with before this year but I never bothered to meet anyone new. This summer I think I finally learned some new things about the sport. This summer I grew to love the idea that I am an ultra marathoner. This summer I noticed that there are lots of other ultras and lots of beautiful places to run and lots of great adventures and friendships to be had. I still love Mohican and it will be a goal in 2010. But I now also love Burning River…and there’s this running with scissors thing this fall…or maybe that one in Youngstown. The whole gang will be at each of them. Hopefully I will be too.


  1. Sounds like you had a fun trip, Mark! I plan on taking my family down there early January. I've heard it's a money suck of a trip.

    I must say that I'm looking forward to a fall full of racing myself. If you haven't decided on "Running With Scissors" or "YUTC 50k", let me suggest the "Indian Run 60k". It's a $25 entry fee to run ~37 miles through some of God's prettiest country side in Hocking Hills. It really is a great race and best of all... I'll be there. :)

    Hope to see you this weekend... If not, there will be a lot more weekends when we can run together.

    Welcome home, Sir.

  2. Funny...we were probably in Florida the same time. I probably hit that same rest stop in Charleston West're free peirogies here or even a simple smile!! You are an ultra-runner. My family can't tolerate all night drives--we broke it up and hemorrhaged money just in the travel. Just like you...getting ready for the students to come back.