Thursday, July 30, 2009


Forty-eight hours from now, if things are going well I will be running Burning River. I just want to say that the nicest thing that has happened to me this year has been the new friendships that I have made in ultrarunning...and how new and exciting the entire sport seems to me.

I have been the recipient of so many well-wishes and encouraging comments regarding BR that I'm stunned. Thanks everyone, for all of it. My status is that I don't feel quite as fit or as sharp as I did before Mohican. This is OK though. I have a plan and I have my health and I have more love than any one person can process.

I'm already this one is for others. This one is for Rob who deserved a Mohican buckle this year more than anyone I ever met. This one is for Nick who is having a banner year. And this one is for Luc who inspires me every time I think of him. This one is for Kim and for Michelle who will be on the trail with me. This one is for Red who I am going to meet at the 64 mile mark. This one is for Scott and got me to this new starting line more than you know. This one is for Ron for being so kind and Roy for being so wise and Colleen for being so beautiful. This one is for Jenny and Emily and Colin and Caleb because, my efforts aside, Carroll's really are tough after all. This one is for my beloved Delaware County Special Olympics Racers..the last time we went to Northeast Ohio you guys won state. I'll try to go there now and win a buckle.

This one is for Mom who will be watching and for Dad who could finish this thing twice while drinking beer and kicking a soccer ball, if only he had two good feet.

This one is for fun and this one is for real. This one is because I can and because I'm grateful that I can...I'm grateful that I know that I can and I'm grateful that I'm grateful.

And all of that business about this being a science experiment? Forget all of that. I want to finish.


Sunday, July 26, 2009


Did you know that I have a pontoon boat? Yep, I own a leisure-time-vehicle. It’s a 20 foot, 1989 Mercury outboard and it was a beautiful boat, back during the Reagan administration, when it was new. Nowadays it sits in the sun, uncovered, all year long, except for the times when it sits in the rain, or snow, or dark, also uncovered. I imagine that my boat appreciates air flow and enjoys the out-of-doors as much as I do so I let it enjoy these things. My favorite times are when the boat and I are sitting in the sun together, with an inner tube hauling several kids along behind us. I keep the boat docked at Delaware State Park and when it is not serving as a refuge for my weary mind it serves as a refuge for various animal species. Seagulls and hornets are common in the summer and raccoons and squirrels in the winter.

The engine always works except for when it doesn’t. Just a while ago it didn’t work until I goofed with it, and then it worked again...and will for a while I imagine. It was the starter again. I can never tell when the starter will go until it goes. I can tell it’s the starter because of the sound of grinding gears and smell of hot metal. The first time it happened I worried that I would be stranded but now I simply pull the engine cover, take the popsicle stick spacer out, trim it, and wedge it back under the drive gear to move the teeth back into proximity with the other gear (the non-drive gear?). Then I don’t worry about it until it happens again. No sense planning for every single thing that can go wrong in life. Have a plan for the big stuff and figure out the rest when it arises. That’s what I always say…

Well, I don’t always say that…

I bought the boat 8 years ago and one of my favorite things to do is to sit on it and gain weight during the months of July and August. This is an especially enjoyable time after a Mohican finish. I can reflect back on the accomplishment and tell myself that I am a terrific endurance athlete as I eat another bag of Cheetos. This year, though, I am still bent toward the task of earning a belt buckle. Today the boat ride got cut a bit short because I need to pack my drop-bags for Burning River. And, despite all of my “fix life’s problems as they arise” platitudes, packing my bags for a 100 miler now takes the better part of a day.

I hate packing the bags for a 100 miler. I mean I really hate it. I used to think that I hated this activity because it was time-consuming but I no longer believe that the time factor is the chief irritant. I now believe that the thing that I hate most about the entire bag-packing process is that it is an extended exercise in imagining all of the things that MIGHT go wrong. The truth of the matter is that all year long I imagine running ultra marathons and, in my mind’s eye, I envision things going well. I imagine myself running powerfully and cleverly diagnosing and treating small maladies before they become killers. These thoughts are always pleasant, and I believe that this type of mental imagery makes us better athletes and better people. I believe that negative thinking yields negative results and that positive thinking ennobles us. But to assume that everything will go well while packing drop-bags is to render the entire activity useless.

The truth is that if everything goes well I will need 2-3 shirts, maybe 2 pairs of shorts, 5-6 ibuprofen tablets, 6 batteries, a spritz of bug spray, a dab of Vaseline, 8-10 Hammer Gels, a headlamp, and a few endurolytes. Beyond that I can rely on the aid stations and God’s love.

The problem is that I can’t be sure that things will go well. I know that I will always have God’s love but if things don’t go well I need to augment this with my gigantic pile of stuff, bags and bags of it, all gathered under the banner of “just-in-case”. I need some things just in case I get hypothermia, other things just in case I get hyperthermia, some things for high blood sugar and others for low. Let’s not even get into all of the things that can happen with minerals but instead mention that "they" say that pain caused by inflammation can be treated with ibuprofen but non-inflammatory pain might be better served with acetaminophen…so wouldn’t it be wise to have access to both? If I have no blisters I have no problems but if I do I need lots of things. The same could be said for gastrointestinal distress, or sleepiness, or chaffing.

Now, add to this list of possible tragedies the fact that I don’t know WHEN any of these problems might arise, and so I need to have access to EVERYTHING ALWAYS. But since I don’t own that much stuff and not every aid station allows drop bags I must sit around IMAGINING when each unfortunate event might take place. I will come home and, whether the race goes well or poorly, I will unpack my bags and find that 90% of their contents are clean and unused. The inefficiency can be chalked up to nerves and registered in the race ledger of my mind under the depressing line of “insurance”.

And that, my friends, is the worst part of ultramarathoning.

The worst part of ultramarathoning isn’t the blisters or nausea or muscle cramps. It isn’t even the loneliness or self doubt. These things are real and thus have earned their place in the pantheon of possible experiences that make ultras a challenge. The worst thing is the negative imagery that comes from trying to control the uncontrollable.

Isn’t it possible for me to just adjust my thinking? Grab the reigns? Possibly get myself on some antianxiety medication? The answer to these questions is that yes, these things are possible. But I have observed at the finish line of many ultra marathons and from what I have learned excusing myself from this painful imagery, while possible, wouldn’t be terribly bright. I have never heard a runner at the end of an ultra say “My legs just could not go on” or “I just ran out of energy”. I have learned that you can go a long long way on a pair of blown legs but you cannot go very far without a light at night, or when your body temperature drops (or soars) to dangerous levels, or when you cannot process food and water. Things like a sweatshirt, or an aspirin, a contact lens, an asthma inhaler, or a Tums can, if available at just the right moment, remove the “d” and the “n” from a “dnf”.

I love the spontaneity of our sport and nothing is less spontaneous than packing drop-bags. And so I must, if only for today, ignore my image of myself as primal-man, moving relentlessly across the landscape on a heroic mission to save my community, never knowing how my mission might end but moving forward using my strength of will and drinking from whatever stream might be available. Instead today I must play the role of primal man’s anal retentive nanny, making primal-man put on galoshes and wear a sweater. And on the way out the door perhaps a spoonful of castor oil “just-in-case”.

All of this is, of course, an effort to help me to stay afloat. Alas. Perhaps I should look into getting a higher quality popsicle stick for my boat.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Using Stress

Burning River is approaching and I guess I’m starting to go into ‘Caveman Mode’. The reality of things is settling in and this means that I am both scared and very excited. I get a bit myopic at times like this and creativity shuts down.

Because of this, and also because I have wanted to write about osteoblasts for a while now, I’m cutting and pasting an article that I wrote a few years ago for ‘The Academic Leader’. The article speaks of stress within organizations, although it could easily be tweaked to discuss stress within personal relationships or in other areas.

You might enjoy this and, then again, you might not. The publisher now charges poor graduate students, with deadlines approaching, seven dollars to access this on-line; strangely it was free when it was new—go figure. Its not worth seven dollars and so I present it to you here for exactly the price that I think its worth. The only thing I ask is that you do not read this and start quoting Nietzsche. Niezsche was the guy that coined the phrase “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”. That’s not what I’m saying at all. Lots of things can not kill you and yet do not make you stronger. Nietzche ended up taking his own life…many know the quote but few seem to know that this was his outcome…so apparently he found his limit. Lets not follow his example.

Here it is:

Using Stress to Create Change; Just as Nature Intended

Organizations are often anthropomorphized; attributed with the characteristics of living things. One might describe an organization as strong or weak. Organizations might be said to flourish or wither. They might be said to experience periods of peace or other periods in which they are under attack and in a position of mortal danger. We might describe an organization as a family or as a team. The stock price of a company may be said to dive or to soar. Organizations are said to be born and, sadly, they often die.

Organizations are, of course, not living things. You will not find them listed in any biological text. They do, however, behave in ways which are analogous to living organisms and nature is often an effective teacher.

The terminology used to describe stress in an organization is nearly identical to the language used in physiology to describe the body’s reaction to both appropriate amounts of stress and stress overload. A comparison of organizational and physiological adaptation to stress yields an important lesson.

In the body, as in an organization, stress is needed for growth. Without stress there is the opposite of growth; atrophy. Overstress leads to breakdown. As tissues are stressed, an inflammatory reaction occurs which leads to environmental changes including increased temperature, a lack of blood flow to the affected area, a buildup of damaging acids, an accumulation of waste products, and a lack of oxygen. This environment, though unpleasant, does have beneficial side effects. If the body is stressed cells called osteoblasts spring into action and repair an area using collagen; a bony material which makes the tissue stronger. Osteoblasts only function in a hot, acidic, low oxygen environment and so stress is always needed to strengthen tissues. There is no growth without inflammation and no inflammation without stress. The next time the tissue is stressed, through exercise or mild trauma, it takes more stress to cause the area to become inflamed because the body is now stronger and more stress resistant. Continued mild stress applied to tissue being repaired causes it to form itself to new job demands. This process is known as remodeling. It’s a great system.

The only problem is that the osteoblasts have no intelligence. The cannot say “Gosh that seems like plenty of collagen; let’s stop the repair (change) process now”. Instead they will continue to lay down bony tissue as long as their environment tells them to. This can lead to too much bone on a joint surface (osteoarthritis) or in a muscle (myositis) making the joint surface operate less smoothly or making the muscle less pliable. Since the muscle and joint then do not operate efficiently they tend to become inflamed more easily. This, in turn, leads to continued hot, acidic environment, which leads to even more bone being laid down by the osteoblasts. The system is cyclical and what was once a promising repair system is now the cause of the injury; often long after the original cause of damage is gone.

Change in the body or in an organization can be due to healthy overload (such as increased business in an organization or exercise in the body) or trauma (such as an organizational crisis or a fracture in the body). In either case, even though the environment produced is unpleasant, the repair (change) process can make the organism stronger. In order to do this the process has to follow a sensible pattern of overload followed by rebuilding. In either case total absence of activity is never the answer. Without stress the tissues or organization will not remodel themselves to their new demands. They will simply become scarred. The trick in either the body or the organization is to allow progressive overload to occur without creating an environment which proves to be chronically toxic; leading to a cyclical breakdown. This can be done through well planned, progressive growth (through exercise or progressive change) or through a sensible healing and remodeling phase (following bodily or organizational trauma). The rate of change should not stress the damaged tissue or organization to a point where chronic overload causes a state of repeated breakdown and scarring.

Change is inevitable. Study of physiology and study of leadership show us that organisms and organizations are rarely static; at any moment they are either becoming stronger or becoming weaker. Appropriate levels of stress are needed to elicit growth. Stasis leads to atrophy. What is needed for either organizational or physiological change, however, is careful monitoring of the environment to ensure that the results of change land between weakness caused by atrophy and inflexible scarring caused by a chronically inflamed environment.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Almost Heaven

The Appalachian Mountains are old. I don’t know exactly how old but that’s OK because no one really expects me to know. Geologists, who absolutely should know, do not know either. They say that the Appalachians are between 420 and 496 million years old. I would be willing to forgive geologists for this 76 MILLION year ‘rounding error’ if they had been willing to curve the final exam just a tiny bit in GEOL100 at Ohio University back in 1983. But they were not willing to be reasonable then and so neither will I be now. Get your act together geologists. An 18% margin of error is OK for you guys, I suppose, but I miss a “C” by two points and you question my character when I ask for a pitty bump? Be gone! We will finish this conversation without you!

Now that the Flintstones have left the room lets just sit back for a moment and consider how old the Appalachian Mountains really are. They are much, much older than the Rockies and the Alps and virtually every other mountain range on earth. How much older? Who knows? Not me and also not you-know-who. But lots older. Like hundreds of millions of years older. They also used to be just as high as the highest mountain ranges on earth today. Erosion has, over the course of untold millions of years, eroded the former jagged rocky peaks into the chlorophyll choked safehouses of life that we know today. We might consider the rocks that lie exposed today on the trails of this region to be some pretty tough characters. This is the rubble that could not and would not be beaten into submission by numerous ice ages, billions of rain storms, heat, wind, and earthquakes. The shale and sandstone disappeared long ago. A rock that has survived all of that isn’t going to bend easily. It won’t even be beaten into form by contact with its own kind, which is why a small sampling of trail within these mountains (lets say, randomly, 31 miles of such trail) contains millions of rocks in all shapes and sizes. And if they survived the forces of hundreds of millions of years I don’t guess that an ankle or a head will have much impact if they strike them full force.

Dennis Hamrick and a handful of his buddies from Charleston, West Virginia decided 15 years ago that it would be a good idea to hold a race over this terrain. They could have given the race any name they liked, but they are down-to-earth folks and wanted to promote tourism. They wouldn’t want to name the race anything that would scare people away such as ‘The Ankle Breaker 50K’ or ‘The Heat Exhaustion Derby’ or ‘The Squeal Like a Piggy Ultramarathon’. No, this was to be a fun, family sort of race run by fun, family sorts of guys so they decided to call it something nice….and “The Rattlesnake Trail 50K” was born.

This is a brief report of my experiences in this year’s edition:

I pulled into the pool parking lot at Kanahwa State Forest and Dennis walked right up to me to introduce himself. I believe that he sees this event as his personal party and feels a commitment to making sure that each of his ‘guests’ feels welcome. I believe we all did. Rattlesnake has a family reunion feel. The event has grown and become prestigious over the years. It has been called the toughest 50K in the eastern United States but that doesn’t mean you can’t sit around with the race directors and listen to tall tales and bad jokes. There were piles of pizza and coolers filled with pop. I registered and told Dennis that I was heading out to find a hotel. He told me that camping was free and it seemed that a lot of runners were sleeping in their cars and that I was welcome to do the same. The night before Mohican I rented a hotel room and didn’t sleep a wink. This time I took all the stuff out of the trunk of my car, let the back seat down, climbed in and slept so soundly that I almost missed the start of the race.

At 6:15 A.M. I pulled the emergency latch on the inside of the trunk and emerged into a group of runners congregating at the start. I swear any other group on earth would have screamed in horror but all I got were a few ‘Good mornings’. Ultra runners are accustomed to strange behavior I suppose. As I scrambled to get ready for the 6:30 start I realized, to my absolute shock, that I had not packed any running shorts. I pulled every single item out of every single part of the car but they simply weren’t there. Five minutes until race time and no shorts, and to make matters worse I was absolutely groggy from TOO MUCH sleep. Well, what’s a guy to do? I grabbed a pair of Khaki semi-dress shorts out of my suitcase and slipped them on, grabbed my waist belt, and made the start just as the gun fired.

We ran 50 feet and began to climb. Rattlesnake has 10 major climbs. All of them have a uniquely tortuous nature. Some climb straight up like a cliff wall, others are more like a staircase. Some are gentler but endless. They all share one characteristic, however; as you are tackling one type of hill you find yourself wishing it was some other type. The long ones make you sentimental for the short steep ones and vice versa. The downhills ranged from steep and dangerous to gradual and dangerous. All of them were rock strewn. The locals run down them like they are skiing on invisible snow. I pray, jump from rock to rock, and apologize to those whose path I am blocking, which is everyone. Rattlesnake is the only race where I have ever ended up with blisters on my HANDS from grabbing trees in order to stay rubber-side-down on the descents.

Passing through a campground at what might have been the 8 mile mark I was sweating and the cotton shorts were starting to weigh me down so I panhandled a hunting knife from a camper, disappeared into the woods, doffed my shorts, cut three inches from the bottoms of each leg, returned the knife, got a confused look from the camper, and was on my way. It took 2 minutes flat. Indianapolis has never seen a more concise pit stop.

Rattlesnake was my very last chance to goof around with food and water and equipment prior to Burning River. So far the shorts were really truly wonderfully comfortable. They made me feel kinda tough and low-tech. Snooty runners avoided me and grizzled old veterans gave me knowing nods…but I’m wearing regular shorts at Burning River because I’m not insane. I also decided to experience sodium depletion. I took no sodium of any kind for 5 hours then took about 80mg per 30 min. for the last 90 minutes. I felt the sodium kick in and man-oh-man it was like someone handed me a new set of legs. I won’t go into detail but I will say that if my problem in 100’s is sodium I think I have it figured out. If its not sodium and I simply cannot run 100’s for some other reason then so be it, but this was a valuable lesson.

The race, by and large, was spectacularly, lovingly, deliciously uneventful. Tragedies make the best and the longest stories I guess. The Rattlesnake was brutal but not tragic. Everything went according to plan, and by this I mean that I ran on a tough course and suffered accordingly. The aid stations were terrific. They seemed to be staffed by folks who were genuinely interested in our well-being. The course was beautiful. It was just a perfect hot sunny summer day. There wasn’t a single place on earth that I would have rather been.

There were, of course, some runners who badly misjudged the race. By-and-large these people kept their misery to themselves. The only exception that I saw befell the family from Parkersburg who had the misfortune of choosing a picnic shelter at the base of hill #8. For all the world their family picnic looked like an aid station. They soon learned that the actual aid station was located about 100 yards away and it became their unofficial duty to explain this to each and every runner as they passed. They were kind people however and apparently not beyond offering some aid to a truly needy runner. As I ran by, a woman who appeared to be the matriarch of the clan walked up to a runner calling out “I WAS able to find a hammer after all”. As she said this the poor wretch proceeded to vomit within 5 feet of the pavilion. I’m guessing that he thought this was the aid station and asked for some sort of Hammer product since they were the race sponsors. Another Rattlesnake casualty I suppose. I will never know whether or not I could have been of some sort of assistance…because I didn’t stop to ask. I was too busy getting myself back to the swimming pool for a dunk prior to my drive home.

The final half mile of this race turns flat and perfectly runnable. I was surprised and really really really grateful. I finished in 6:37…over an hour faster than my only other attempt at this race, in 2004. I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face and was handed a water bottle and a glass sculpture that was either a replica of a Hershey’s Kiss or some sort of bird. I don’t know what it is but I love it to pieces and I’m keeping it forever, or until the last rock in the Appalachian Mountains has turned to sand, whichever comes first.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


This sport has grown so much that its hard to not be amazed. The Buckeye trail 50K is next weekend and I cannot run it because its SOLD OUT. In fact it has been sold out for many months now. How cool is that?....the sold out part, not the 'I can't run it' part. I ran the BT once waayyy back in 1997. As I recall it was a fun run in conjuntion with Joe Jurczyk's birthday. I distinctly recall that the race instructions called for us to show up on time....but please JUST on time. We didn't need people milling around attracting attention since the park didn't exactly 100% know that the race was being held. Sometimes its easier to get forgiveness than permission. But its always best to simply not get caught. I might be recalling things wrong but thats how I remember it. At any rate, the race is now full-fledged bonafide and downright prestigious. Good on ya mates. May the trail rise to meet you. Godspeed and good luck to my friends who planned ahead.

I'm off to do the Rattlesnake 50K in Charleston, WV on Saturday. I ran it once before and sat in a cave for a while waiting for a lightning storm to pass...lightning seems to be a theme this week. Oh well. This race is a toughie. Five thousand feet of elevation (which also always means another 5000 feet of de-levation). The course also has 85 million rocks, each the size of a human head. I'm using bug spray, watching my step, and sticking to tapwater and wonder bread.

Peace friends. --Mark

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Burning Question

I remember when I was in eighth grade and just starting to fall in love with cross country running. I proudly ran for the blue and dirty-gold of Frederick Roehm Jr. High School. Just across town there was another junior high school, and another cross country team, and another runner who was also just starting to fall in love with cross country running. His name was also Mark. That’s where the similarities ended though. I could pound Mark at any distance, any time, anywhere. So could a lot of other guys. He was a nice guy and an OK runner but anyone could beat him if they tried hard enough…until he got hit by lightning and got fast.

That’s just the order in which it happened too. One day we were saying “Did you hear about Mark? He got hit by lightning!” and the next thing you know he was kicking the tar out of all of us.

In hindsight I can see that getting hit by lightning and getting fast are two separate events, but you couldn’t have convinced any of us of any such thing back then. We had read enough comic books to know darn well that getting hit by lightning gives you special powers. And if you needed to see any more proof then you better look fast because there it goes now, disappearing over yonder hill!

Even now if I’m out running and a thunder storm kicks up, the fear I feel is mixed with just a tiny trace of hope. I think of Mark every time I see lightning. But I think of lightning after every ultra I run and I’ll tell you why I do in just a bit.

Did you know that you can get hit by lightning and be walking around feeling just fine-and-dandy and bragging about it? You don’t have to believe me, just pay close attention the next time you get hit by lightning and you will see that I am correct. In fact, maybe you could even get a sympathy date. “Hey, I got hit by lightning and lived. You should date me because I am just that kind of man” you might say. But if you do get hit by lightning you should insist that the date happen pretty soon, because a day later you might be feeling queasy. Then a couple of days after that you might be dead. And no one wants to date a dead guy…not even Demi Moore.

That movie was awful.

See, what happens is that the lightning can travel along your nerve tracts. They are built to carry electricity so a little lightning isn’t such a huge deal to them. If you are really lucky the electricity can pass right on through and maybe just give you a little exit burn and leave a taste like old pennies in your mouth. I don’t know why it tastes like pennies so don’t interrupt me by asking. This I do know though; you really should get that copper taste out of your mouth before your big date. What you won’t discover for 24 hours or so, is that you may have killed one or more vital organs and not even know about it. You can live for a while without a functional liver, or kidneys, so the real symptoms don’t show up for a while. If you time it just right you can stick your date with the check at the fancy restaurant you take her to.

I’ve always felt that running an ultramarathon is a lot like getting hit by lightning. In an ultra your endocrine system, which is responsible for maintaining your body’s homeostasis, can take a real hit. Sometimes, if you haven’t beaten your legs up too badly, you can fool yourself into thinking that no damage has been done. This might happen after a race like Mohican. You feel great but then the mystery injury or illness arises…usually right in the middle of that charity 5K that your co-worker challenged you to. If you don’t plan your recovery properly you will have to suffer the effects of the injury and/or listen to that jerk bragging around the office for several months or more.

I felt good for a few days after Mohican this year. I had been here before though so I settled in and awaited the lethargy, moodiness, and sleep disorders. But they didn’t arrive. In fact I kept feeling good. I might be deeply tired and I suppose I must be. I did run 80 miles after all. But this has been weird. I did 50 miles last week and just ran a hard 10 miler and felt terrific. No cough, no weird odors, no mystery-rash. What gives? After all, if I had spewed just a few more times at Mohican I could have been offered an employment contract as a geyser at Yellowstone. Those are just the type of symptoms you’d expect from a flawed endocrine system. But those symptoms went right away and weren’t replaced by other mystery signs. No weird painless swelling, no breaking into profuse sweats for no reason, no crying while watching “You’ve got mail”.

That movie was awful too.

So anyhow I got to thinking which, for purposes of this conversation, we will not consider to be a weird symptom. Here’s what I was thinking: Once you screw up your endocrine system you can’t just unscrew it. It stays screwed up for a while. So, using the transitive property of ultragoggery, if I’m not screwed up, it can’t be the endocrine system. So then what in the heck happened at Mohican? I was all set to give up on ultras. I was going to switch to shorter distances and win 3rd place ribbons in my age group at 5K’s hosted by festivals that exist in order to honor vegetables. That was the plan…and now I just don’t know.

Could it be sodium? I was not drinking and yet managed to spew crazy amounts of …stuff. Where was it coming from? Maybe salt buildup was causing reverse osmosis …pulling liquid from my body into my stomach instead of vice-versa. That would explain the loaves-and-fishes quality of my stomach contents on the long crawl back to the bridge.

Then I heard from Ron Ross. Ron hooked me up with some studies on sodium and one day, instead of doing my job, I read all about salt. How much sodium do we need? How much do we use? How much is too much? Then I looked at the amount of sodium I took in during Mohican and I did some cyphering and learned that at about the time I was arriving at the Mill aid station on the night of Mohican I was one of the saltiest things on the planet. In fact, the exact order was:

1. The Dead Sea
2. Me
3. Gatorade
4. The Bonneville Salt Flats

So really there could be several different things at work. It could be that I just can’t do 100 milers any more. If that’s the case then so be it. It could be that I am a pansy, but I don’t think so. A pansy couldn’t handle the amount of heaving I did. I heaved so hard I strained an intercostal muscle (“I heaved so hard that I strained an intercostal muscle. You should date me because I am just that kind of man”).

Or it could be.
Yes it could be.
Something special.

That movie was awesome!

Or it could be salt. But I cannot train through sleet all next winter just to have another DNF. I am trained now and I need to know now. I’m going to do Burning River and if I monitor the salt and live then Mohican is on for next year. If I don’t then maybe its time to be the scourge of the West Jefferson Squash Festival 5K Run/Walk.

I’ll try to finish BR but mainly this is a science experiment. Data collection really. I'm going to check my ego and my Gatorade bottle at the door.

And if that doesn’t work I’ll just get myself a rainy day, a kite, and a key.

All my love, --Mark