I’m off…

…almost. Putting last few things into the car, making sure I’ve remembered to brings socks and shoes (among other things). I’ll be carrying my cell phone with me, so give me a call if you want to say hi over the next few days. Friday night, and I’m driving up to place a few of the drops for the second day; tomorrow’s drops I’ll place on the way to Whiskey Spring, the start of my run.

Back in a few days!

Sipping a cup of coffee, laptop on lap. Dawn’s breaking and I’ve still got so much to get ready for the run tomorrow. Still to get: an extra key to my car; foam pad for the back of it (to help foster some sort of sleep at night); ice (lots); some more nutritional shakes (i.e. those thick 350 calorie shakes in a bottle, typically meant for…actually, I’m not sure who they’re meant for, save someone who needs a lot of extra caloric intake); gas for many miles of driving;….

Still to do: final selection of clothes and gear and packing; call various people involved to confirm this, that, or the other;…

For a final pre-run post, this is not very interesting. Suffice to say, I’m still getting things together and am not in a reflective, writing mode just now. Perhaps later…(or much later, after run is finished).

Map of Saturday’s path

Here’s a rough mapping of the first day. That’s all I can do for now, but will back to this and include the other sections post run: MDT193 Day One

Sometimes I feel afraid that I will not have given enough, and time will shorten, opportunity lost.

Not sure why I began this post by writing this; what I really want to say is thanks to the many who have been so far offering to give something to the three research centers at Johns Hopkins. I will be asking each participant if they wouldn’t mind my thanking them by name here, later on, or if they would prefer to remain unamed. I’ve received the pertinent information as to how to submit the donations and am posting it here. At first, it was suggested that the donations be in my honor (I think this is typical, to give in honor of a loved one), but the honors all mine, so that would not work in my thinking. I suggested to JH that if anything it be in honor of the run; I think they just need to keep track of the donations and what inspired the giving.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not collecting any of these; an honor system is best (your pledge is good enough for me). Here’s the information needed:

I. Below are direct links to giving pages for research in breast cancer, ALS, and MS:

Breast Cancer Research

ALS Research

MS Research

II.  Please follow these instructions once on the giving pages:

-Be sure to select the appropriate fund for designating your gift to Breast Cancer, ALS, or MS:

Breast Cancer = JH Breast Center Quality of Life Research Fund
ALS = Robert Packard Center for ALS Research
MS = Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Divisional Fund

-Please click on the “In Honor Of” circle.

-Include the name and address of the honoree or event in the box provided:

MDT 193 Solo Run 1040 N. Saint Augustine Rd.  Chesapeake City, MD  21915

-Complete the remaining form with your donor information.

This trail is an entity that fascinates me; it’s a being created from the contiguous natures of humans and the earth. Someone conceived of a path that would begin at a point on another path, crossing over fields and streams, through forests, along roads and alleys between backyards. Many people contributed to building the trail and many others since have given their weight to the task of tramping down enough of the flora to keep it in view. I still have to learn more about Bob Yost, who is credited with having founded the trail. He died in the not too distant past; there’s a memorial granite marker in the Iron Hill Park in Newark I’ve visited.

People sometime confuse the Mason-Dixon Trail with the Mason Dixon Line; both have their own history. I assume that the trail (which came many, many moons after the line was laid) was named because it very loosely crosses over the line a couple of times. Who knows (really, comment if you do)?

This trail passes through some of the most picaresque (I like this spelling of the word… seen on many late nineteenth century albums) scenes in the mid Atlantic. It also passes through some sad, run down neighborhoods. I’ll be photographing along the way, of course, and will try to snap some of all the colors and shades I notice. I have to remember to lift up mine eyes, so to speak, and stop watching where I’m stepping.

Yesterday, in fact both yesterday and the day before, I went out to the areas between Perryville and Northeast, Maryland, to scope out a section that is listed on the map/turnsheet as having been under development in 2004. The map/turnsheet indicates the trail as it was supposed to have become, but in fact the developers (Principio Business Park) have never gotten around to creating the rerouted trail and, well, a good long while was spent scratching my head as to where I should head to continue “on trail.” This is, after all, one of my most important tasks: to stay on trail. I gave up the first day and found out through some of the trail’s veteran hikers that the reroute had not taken place, so yesterday I returned and figuered out where to go. The old marks, sky blue blazes, 2″ x 6″ streaks of color on ides of trees, or curbs, or rock, fade or are moved or, in the case of trees, return to the ground in blowdowns (those pesky trees that don’t have the sense to fall away from the trail).

One section of the trail, about 50 feet long, in the area was thick with sawbriars (those tentacles that make the pricks of wild raspberry plants seem like a gentle message by comparison). Nobody had passed through that section of trail for many many months (years?).

Most of us don’t ever realize that a trail like this might even make its way across a familiar road we traverse every day on our way to work. I certainly didn’t know how the MDT passed accross 213 in downtown Elkton, for example. The blazes are there if you look closely, on the lamp posts or on the telephone posts, directing the wandering traveler to turn here, to push on there.

Some of the blazes are bright and clear, others are faded. The trail’s alive and reflects my life back to me, all the pushing on, the turns, the getting lost the paved way or the leaved track. I think this is why I’m going to traverse it.

Date change

Logistics call for a change to the start date to Saturday the 11th.

Still tweaking it…

This past Saturday I finished a revered 50k race in WV called The Big Schloss. Schloss is German for castle, and there was indeed a castle-like rock formation at the top of one climb, with a fantastic view. It was a rainy day, for the most part, with some torrential downpours off and on, but at the moment I found myself up top it was nice with the clouds keeping a higher ceiling. Amy and Steve Platt put on a terrific run, with a group of volunteers that deserve kudos for everything they did.

I continue to learn more about pacing and the accompanying issues of heart rate and carbohydrate/fluid/electrolyte consumption. Seems I have to learn over and over again, need to work harder than I’ve been doing to keep ahead of the curve, the curve being a downward slope towards bonking. When I found myself with a queasy stomach at the halfway point, I started pulling back from eating–a mistake, of course. But, I know that it was a combination of feeling great at the outset and pushing a bit on the speed, while not being diligent enough with the caloric intake, that caused this unease. I’ll be writing more about suffering in the coming post(s), but suffice to say, there are dark moments of self-doubt that appear now and again…I’ve come to expect them and not take them too seriously.

I am still tweaking the techniques and am that much closer to the start of this adventure run. I’ll know more when I get out there, but at least I’m feeling that much more confident with my plan(s) of action. For example, the first 60 miles o the trail west to east are mostly road miles and I know I can keep a slow and even pace.

On another note, I’ve gotten a half dozen people to commit to some level of giving to the charities I’ve listed (which, by the way, I am putting together contact names and info for anyone interested in joining in this support), one of which is upping the ante to a dollar a mile. Still have to check with the indic=viduals to see if it’s okay to post their names with my thanks.

Time to run.

On the run…

As they say, this life is moving so fast all around us. (If anyone out there is quiet, composed, and has nothing to do, please write me and enlighten.) Really, I have been too busy to set down thoughts along the way these past ten days, and, in fact, I am only setting this note down because I been feeling guilty for not writing something sooner. I’m off to run the Big Schloss, a much loved 50k run in West Virginia. I’ve not run it before–for the past two years I’ve signed on, but each year I’ve been thwarted for one reason or another (…best laid plans…)–so this will be nice. A super gathering of runners, some familiar and others new. Some I will run for a few minutes or a few miles alongside, and others I’ll not see at all because they’ll zip off from the start and leave the after run fete before I’ve arrived.

More coming after the run.

Solo together

I don’t know how to title this post, I just want to describe another aspect to the MDT193. There are three charities I intend to help support here: research to cure breast cancer, MS, and ALS. These three diseases have hit friends and family of mine (and probably yours), so I ask that any and all who read this and who will be following me on this run, consider contributing 25 or 50 cents per mile. Assuming I end up at Chadds Ford, that will work out to $48.25 and $96.50, resp. I’m leaning towards Johns Hopkins for all three, as they have robust research programs in each; I’ll let any who commit to a donation know where to send their gift.

I thought about this again on my run this evening. Ultrarunning is a lot about running alone–it’s inevitable, over the course of so many miles and so many hours, both in training and in an event with many others, that time alone is a given. While I’d be fibbing if I said this MDT193 wasn’t a whole lot about my own self–overcoming obstacles, challenging limits, finding moments of great insight (through long arcs of frustration and pain)–I want it to be an opportunity that I can inspire others to give something to good causes. If you can’t muster the bucks to give this time round, that’s okay too; each of us finds our way to contributing.

I wish I had much more time in the day to write here. There are only four weeks until I set sail our of Whiskey Springs. Have a comment? Feel free to post it. Cheers to all.

Informing ideas

Back in 2004, one of my running mentors Hunt Bartine set out on a similar attempt at a run of the Mason-Dixon Trail system; heading east to west, Hunt made it 130 miles before injury physical and mental fatigue [edited to reflect Hunt’s comment to my September 29 post] kept him from finishing, which I’ve no doubt he would have otherwise. Hunt’s solo attempt is the most obvious informing idea for the MDT193; it’s intrigued me since I first heard him describe it to me two years back.

Early in 2006 Hunt mentioned an idea for a 100k run along what is arguably the most scenic section of the Mason-Dixon Trail, running alongside the Susquehanna River between the Susquehanna State Park near Havre de Grace and the Shenks Mare outdoor store at Long Level (near Wrightsville). The two of us ran this section over two days early that June, and then on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice, along with a few others, attempted the first Mason-Dixon Longest Day Challenge; the challenge is to finish the 100k in daylight (between sunrise and sunset if possible) on the longest day of the year. We’ve directed this no frills race now for three years, with more intrepid souls joining the event each year. (An ariticle is being published in Ultrarunning in the coming issue.)

Tomorrow I run some of the nearby sections of the MDT as it passes through Elkton, MD and Newark, DE.