"I DONT EVEN LIKE DOING SOMETHING THAT FEELS GOOD
FOR 4 HOURS!!!"
Insanity, pure freakin' insanity. That's what I love about marathon
running. That and no one can "cut" you from the team because it's
such an individual sport. Even when you start out with friends,
in the end, a marathon is a very individual, solo effort. But
that doesn't mean you can't have great memories of great friends.
I'm not really sure how this started.
OK, that's a lie. It started over a make-shift, green felt poker
table in the garage of a friend one night back in 1999. After
many hours and much loss at the poker game, the first fledgling
steps into marathons, ultra-marathons, and Eco challenges begin.
To read about this watershed event and the first marathon it
began, click HERE.
The next step was the stupidity of
making a pact to do it again the next year. Because stupid is
as stupid does, the four of us once again headed to Lone
Pine in 2001. Major Gary Bash had been stationed in Yuma
yet made the trip happily (yes, traveling AND paying the fee
to run for over 6 hours. Can you see the breakdown in simple
logic here?) What was more impressive is that Major
Phil Patch got out of the Marine Corps and moved to Virginia,
yet still felt compelled to travel across country to join us.
The Four Horsemen were together again and this time, it was
Braveheart we watched during the annual hallowed eve
of the race. It sure beat the hell out of Fargo the year
before. But I digress...
Now in 2002, the Horsemen were hit
with a severe case of vaginitus. Everyone had escaped, er, been
stationed elsewhere. I had tried in vain to contact the Horsemen
via email and was under the gun to get my application for the
Big Sur Marathon since I was stationed
in Monterey and, you know, that's the thing to do if you run
marathons around the Central Coast of California. So I signed
up and lo and behold, the Horsemen came calling. well, Major
Bash did and wanted to run the Wild Wild
West for the third year together. I then questioned the
manhood of the remaining Horsemen, trying to goad them by indicating
I would be willing to run BOTH marathons (a week apart) to show
solidarity in the Horsemen conglomerate. Imagine my dismay when
they bowed out due to school and work commitments (like those
are REALLY important in the big scheme of things!!!) and then
I was on the hook to run both the marathons. But being the less-than-brilliant
animal that I am, I beat my chest, grunted a few unintelligible
words and exclaimed that I was up to the task. So a-trainin'
I then went.
About halfway through my training,
my running partner (who I had almost convinced to run both marathons
with me) hurt himself and had to bow out of the Big Sur. Once
again, alone, thrust into the abyss.
I know what you're thinking: "Gee,
two marathons in two weeks. That sounds too easy. Why stop there?"
I'll respond with the same phrase I told the voice in my head
that uttered the same phrase: "Kiss my ass!" oops, I mean, "Yeah...I
must add yet more dung to this Aborigine fire..."
The next page in my little book of stupidity is when I saw
an announcement in the Naval
Postgraduate School announcement board calling for all adventure
racers. Being as intelligent as a bucket of gravel, I answered
the call and asked for the more information because, doggoneit,
I just didn't have enough on my plate at the time. Here is the
response I got back and like to label "Separating
the Men from the Little School Girls."
After a good crying and testicular searching, I decided
this might be soemthing I wanted to do but had to get past the
$600 buy in and avoiding the wife calling the nice men with
the long-sleeved white coat to come and take me away. The monetary
issue was solved a day later when I got a temp job working for
the Sea Otter Classic
bike event. It just so happened that I got exactly $600 for
four days of work so I took that as God poking me along the
path. The second issue was equally miraculous because my wife
was very supportive from the moment I told her. Believe me,
try not to figure this one out lest your sense of logic and
order in the Universe gets crumpled like dried butterfly wings.
So now I was set. I was on the path to my first adventure
run which turned out to be a three day event in Tahoe during
August. It involves trecking/hiking, mountain bike, mountain
climbing, and kayaking. I was upfront with my abilities (or
more precisely the lack thereof) to the team captain but for
some odd reason, he felt that the endurance aspect of my marathon
training would pull me through the rest of the events. I'm sure
he was suffering from some sort of post-endurance race dementia
but I ran with it (please excuse the very bad pun. I try to
avoid them but many times they are like that squirrel that runs
left, right, then left again but somehow finds its way under
your front tire).
Oh, but this is not the end. I know, I know, where can it
possibly go from here? Well, while working the Sea Otter race
mentioned above, I got an email telling me that Jordan had secured
an application to the Armed
Forces Eco Challenge and wanted to put together a team of
Marines to enter instead of the Tahoe romp. After basking in
the glow and the bragging of being on that team, I sorta had
to go through with it. It's 250 miles in Alaska. Somebody help
me, for I know not what I do...
If there was any doubt of the vastness of my horrific self-torture,
this should leave no doubt: I got an opportunity (OK, a lack
of thinking things through...) to join Gary Bash in a 50
Mile Ultra-Marathon on May 18th, 2002. Like the dope I am,
I accepted. Fifty miles is possible, right? Hello?....
Just in case you're keeping score of my foolishness, here
is the Calendar of Pain:
April 28, 2002: Big Sur Marathon
May 5, 2002: Wild Wild West Marathon
May 11th, 2002: Physical Fitness Test for the Marine Corps
May 18th: 50 Mile Ultra-Marathon
Forces Eco Challenge
Here are my experiences: