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Road to Nowhere

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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:30 pm

Low HR Run: 90 minutes (8.16 miles)

Weather: Partly cloudy/sunny, cool, a little breezy. 43 degrees. Gear: Testers, shorts, long-sleeved T, jacket, hat. Fuel: Breakfast, PB granola bar just before run. Carried water.

Now THAT is more like it. I changed two variables this morning compared with yesterday: I made a point of having a small snack a few minutes before heading out (a PB granola bar), and I forced myself to keep my HR below 140 as much as possible.

The result? I still went about as fast as I did starting out yesterday, but I didn't see the pace fall off nearly as much. The run felt better overall. Lesson learned. (Again.)

I am still trying to translate what I learned barefooting to shoes, but I think I'm getting clue. As I adjust my form (doing things like trying to let my feet feel the ground, or making sure I have good posture to load the springs in my legs), I can see my HR ease down. It's an interesting process. Even so, I hope to get a few miles in barefoot tomorrow. Smile

Walked first and last 5 minutes. Average HR for entire run: 134
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:58 pm

Fueling will be real important in July - so start learning all those lessons now.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:57 am

Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Fueling will be real important in July - so start learning all those lessons now.

Oh boy, howdy! I know Mike is right when he calls an ultra a moveable feast. The secret is getting your body to the point to where you can tolerate it. That'll be a challenge, because I've ended up nauseous in most of my marathons. You can only eat so much Gu... tongue

And fueling isn't the only important thing I need to perfect over the next half year: it's also finding that level of intensity to where it feels like you can run forever and then, well, pretty much running forever.

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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:16 pm

Barefoot Run: 3.1 miles on wet asphalt

Weather: Overcast, chilly, drizzly and damp. 39 degrees, 98% humidity. Gear: Bare feet, tights, T, pullover, jacket, hat, gloves. Fuel: Post breakfast

A few barefoot miles before work in chilly and damp weather. My toes were screaming at me for about two-thirds of a mile before they either warmed up or went into sullen numbness (not quite sure which!). I took it nice and easy, never pushing the HR.

Average HR for entire run: 136
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mike MacLellan on Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:34 pm

Mark B wrote:
Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Fueling will be real important in July - so start learning all those lessons now.

Oh boy, howdy! I know Mike is right when he calls an ultra a moveable feast. The secret is getting your body to the point to where you can tolerate it. That'll be a challenge, because I've ended up nauseous in most of my marathons. You can only eat so much Gu... tongue

And fueling isn't the only important thing I need to perfect over the next half year: it's also finding that level of intensity to where it feels like you can run forever and then, well, pretty much running forever.


You're right that the training needs to be there so you can "run forever," but you can't run forever if your stomach is shutting down. You know a bit about sports nutrition, so I don't need to explain what kind of fuel you're using at the pace you'll be running... I'll just reiterate it: it's a high proportion of fats.

I'd start ASAP in getting your body used to utilizing fat - aka developing your "fat bump" (no, it's not a belly, it's your ability to USE that belly!) - as well as used to consuming it while running.

I think I've already mentioned nut butter + banana + honey sandwiches. Make sure that bread is LOW FIBER or you'll regret it. Best to be smooth nut butter, too. Trust me, it sucks having to concentrate on eating when you're running. Easier to stick to things you can gum to death.

Also, here's some "light" reading. Yes, it's IM oriented, but the principles are the same. Shows what you should aim for during various parts of the race.

http://www.endurancecorner.com/library/nutrition/race_nutrition
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:42 am

Wow, that is one seriously wonky article, Mike. Are all triathletes that anal?

I found it interesting how it kept admonishing the IM athlete to avoid solid food at all costs. In ultras, that doesn't seem to be the case. I'm sure ultra runners suck down a lot of Gu and liquid fuel, to be sure, but real food has some real appeal. Especially if you're going to be out there for a while.

The idea of something soft as opposed to crunchy really resonates with me. I've tried crunchy granola bars or even Odwalla bars on runs and get stuck trying to deal with turning a dry chunk of jagged stuff into a dry pasty lump. It takes a LOT of fluid to break them down. Something that can sort of melt in your mouth would be very useful. Hence your sandwiches, or something like it. (Several of my famous bean and cheese burritos might work pretty well, for example.) I'll have to start experimenting with it once I start going longer. Good thing I have a decent sized Camelbak with room for stuff as well as fluid.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  dot520 on Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:12 am

Don't know if I mentioned to you that I had all 3 of Maffetone's books. I've been reading about foot problems in "The Big Book of Endurance blah blah blah". This is really the first place that I've had a real indepth description of why walking barefoot (as well as running) is really the best for you. Fascinating reading, really and specifically addresses the remedies we all have heard about and experienced with regard to PF especially. Good stuff. While I'm not running barefoot, I'm barefoot in the house as much as possible even when I had a bout of PF brought on by my shoes!!

Do you run barefoot on your treadmill when you have to run on the TM? The belt on my Nordic is pretty nubby, not sure if afterwards you would have tingling or irritated feet. How is it working out for you wearing your testers and rotating with barefoot?
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sun Dec 16, 2012 10:44 am

Yes, lots of triathletes are that anal - take a spin class someday and you will see it in action! An endurance running friend of mine likes PB and honey wraps and sticky rice during his events - of course, you need a crew for that. I have only done one "endurance" event and it was only a 50K, but it was winter, and I can tell you that chicken broth was the best and I wish I could have carried it in a water bottle with me lol
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:30 pm

MAF Test: 6.36 miles total (5-mile test)

Weather: Not ideal. Cold, rainy, windy, humid. 39 degrees. Gear: Testers, tights, rain pants, T, pullover, jacket, hat, gloves (shed). Fuel: Oatmeal and coffee before. Carried water.

I've been wanting to compare the efficiency of my running in my current set of testers vs. barefoot, and see how my return to low HR training has been going in general. I also wanted to get a test in before I donate blood next week.

I met up with my training partner at the local track on a wet, cold and somewhat windy morning. The rain turned to drizzle after a while, which made it nicer, but it also meant my multi-layer approach was a bit much. Oh well, beats hypothermia. Smile

As MAF tests go, it wasn't perfect. I had a great warm-up, but the instant I started the test, my HR wanted to go up to 142 (rather than my target of about 138), and I fought to keep it down the whole time. But even at that slightly higher HR, I was pleased to see that I didn't have much fall-off in pace. The mitochondria is building! Woot!

And the comparison to barefoot? Yeah, well. As usual, no contest. Barefoot wins, hands down. Er, feet down. Er...



Given the conditions and clothing differences, I'd say today's test was comparable to the one I did back in July in Free 3.0s. Not great, but not horrible

Average HR for entire run: 132


Last edited by Mark B on Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:38 pm

dot520 wrote:Don't know if I mentioned to you that I had all 3 of Maffetone's books. I've been reading about foot problems in "The Big Book of Endurance blah blah blah". This is really the first place that I've had a real indepth description of why walking barefoot (as well as running) is really the best for you. Fascinating reading, really and specifically addresses the remedies we all have heard about and experienced with regard to PF especially. Good stuff. While I'm not running barefoot, I'm barefoot in the house as much as possible even when I had a bout of PF brought on by my shoes!!

Do you run barefoot on your treadmill when you have to run on the TM? The belt on my Nordic is pretty nubby, not sure if afterwards you would have tingling or irritated feet. How is it working out for you wearing your testers and rotating with barefoot?

Hi, Dot! I haven't seen the "Big Book" from Maffetone, but he talks about the benefits of barefoot in "The Maffetone Method" and on his website here. You'd sort of expect Phil to be a barefoot guy, wouldn't you?

The PF issue resonates with me. I've never had it, but after having to test an Air Max style shoe at Nike a year or so ago, my feet were killing me. People might think running on a giant air mattress is a good thing, but my feet were going crazy as they dug into that air bag trying to get some sort of feedback from the ground. Ow. Ow. Ow.

I've got a Nordic Track treadmill, too, and I didn't really have any problems running barefoot on the belt - other than my feet got really dirty. The surface is nubbled, yes, but it's a lot smoother than, say, asphalt. Besides, you need that sensation underfoot to teach you to run gently.

I've been trying to get in one barefoot run a week, once I've made sure I'm going to get enough miles on the testers to satisfy Uncle Phil. It's gone pretty well, and I think it's helping me translate the technique from barefoot to shod. That's a good thing.


Last edited by Mark B on Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:46 pm

Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Yes, lots of triathletes are that anal - take a spin class someday and you will see it in action! An endurance running friend of mine likes PB and honey wraps and sticky rice during his events - of course, you need a crew for that. I have only done one "endurance" event and it was only a 50K, but it was winter, and I can tell you that chicken broth was the best and I wish I could have carried it in a water bottle with me lol

Ooo! Sticky rice? I used to live in Northern Thailand, and I fell in love with sticky rice when I was there. What a great idea for fueling! Thanks, Michele!

I'd love to see one of those highly regimented tri folks' reaction to the buffet tables they set up at ultras. The amount of "low quality" food they have -- chips, cookies, M&Ms, etc. -- would have to be horrifying to somebody who knows they need to consume 392.2 ml of Ensure or some other liquid diet every 17.5 minutes between miles 23 and 43 of the bike leg. To commit yourself to that existence, and then see some ultra guy run up to an aid station, unhinge their jaw and start stuffing in whatever junk they can reach? Horrors!

Which, of course, is one big reason why I'm temperamentally disposed more toward ultras than tris. Very Happy
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Mon Dec 17, 2012 5:11 pm

Long Run: 12 miles

Weather: Adventurous. Cold, wind, rain, sleet/snow, some sun. 40 degrees, winds to 15 mph. Gear: Testers, tights, rain pants, T, pullover, jacket, hat, gloves (off and on as I varied between roasting and freezing). Fuel: Not enough! Breakfast, piece of toast and cheese before. Single Gu about 6 miles in, which only slowed a bonk. Carried water.

I don't know what possessed me to pick my most difficult road route after I was already fatigued yesterday, and as some particularly nasty weather was hitting. It made for a challenging run, physically, logistically and psychologically. And oh, yeah: I also bonked.

The weather was pretty challenging. Perfect potential hypothermia conditions: 40, windy and rainy. So I dressed accordingly -- only to have the wind and rain abate for a while, which left me roasting. No matter, I turned a corner just as a heavy shower came through with wind and either sleet or a rain/snow mix. That set the tone for the rest of the run, weather wise. Freeze and fry.

I blew it on fueling. A dozen miles shouldn't need more than one Gu, if any, but I forgot to take into account all the hills.. and the fact that I ran six yesterday and didn't exactly carbo-load yesterday. I was already bonking when I took the only Gu I had, so I knew it was a matter of time before I totally ran out of gas. I made it about 2-3 miles from home before the bonk came. I made it back with a little walking, but I went into a feeding frenzy as soon as I stepped inside.

A good learning experience all around. As long as I have enough glucose in my brain to store memories. Wink

Average HR for entire run: 136

Here's the route and elevation chart. Well-fueled or not, it was a heck of a workout.

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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:21 pm

Well, that was a productive reloading.

If you were wondering what I sucked down after my run, it was:

Two Chewy Peanut Sweet & Salty Granola Bars
One bean burrito with cheese on a whole grain tortilla
About two cups worth of seedless grapes
A handful of whole grain Goldfish

Later, after a shower, I downed a small bowl of Grape Nuts with rice milk.

Later, after running an errand, I downed an Odwalla Chocolate Chip Peanut Bar.

I burned through about 1,500 kcals of energy on my run, according to the charts, but it's entirely possible I just backfilled that amount. (I'm a little afraid of doing the math...)

And yet, amazingly, I'm still not full. What a Face

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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  dot520 on Tue Dec 18, 2012 4:38 pm

I would bet that your grazing was close to calories burned during the run. Not bad, I say. So I gather from your prior posts (somewhere) that your bean and cheese burritos are magic of some sorts? Usually eaten as recovery or on the run? How would you eat a bean and cheese burrito on the run? I guess the question is, how would you carry a bean and cheese burrito while you're running?
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:18 pm

Walk: 2.2 miles

Weather: Partly cloudy, chilly and windy. 38 degrees, wind chill to 32.

A recovery walk during lunch at work. We had rain and snow mix overnight, and it hasn't warmed up much this morning. Let's hear it for GoreTex jackets! I managed to evade some rain, which is a good thing, especially in these conditions.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Tue Dec 18, 2012 5:23 pm

dot520 wrote:I would bet that your grazing was close to calories burned during the run. Not bad, I say. So I gather from your prior posts (somewhere) that your bean and cheese burritos are magic of some sorts? Usually eaten as recovery or on the run? How would you eat a bean and cheese burrito on the run? I guess the question is, how would you carry a bean and cheese burrito while you're running?

Well, I wouldn't call them *magic*... but they're pretty tasty, and my kid loves them.

I usually have them for lunch at work (along with a tossed green salad with grape tomatoes and a Caesar dressing), but I have packed them for a quick post-run lunch after spending a few hours on the trails. I haven't actually packed a lunch to eat on the trail, but I imagine they could work. I use a fajita-sized tortilla and a quarter can of refried beans (vegetarian) per burrito, so they're pretty compact.

As for eating on the run, I guess I'd munch on them while walking. Stay tuned, because I'm sure hilarity will ensue when I actually try it. Wink
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:10 pm

Low HR Run: 90 minutes (7.67 miles)

Weather: Cold, rainy. 34-36 degrees. Gear: Testers, tights, T, pullover, jacket, hat, gloves (perfect!) Fuel: Grape Nuts with rice milk and coffee before. Carried water during.

I knew it was going to be chillier than usual this morning when I went out for a predawn run, but I'd hoped it'd be dry. Bzzt! Not this year! It started to rain the moment I walked outside and it continued the whole time I ran. Funny, in a way, because I'd decided to forgo the rain pants. Turns out, I didn't need them. I was about as comfortable as you could get running in steady rain in 34-36 degree weather. (And that wasn't sarcasm. I was actually pretty comfortable.)

I donated blood on Tuesday and haven't had a chance to run since, so I knew today's run would be affected by my depleted store of red blood cells. I've figured that I can expect about a 10% slowdown at the same heart rate after donating blood (a donation takes about 10% of your red blood cells), and that was pretty much the case this morning.

I only had one surprise (other than the rain), and that was when I downloaded my Garmin. I kept checking it during the run and had thought I was averaging a HR of about 139. Turns out, it was closer to 140-141. Go figure.

Walked first and last 5 minutes. Average HR for entire run: 135
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:51 pm

Long Run: About 10 miles

Weather: Partly cloudy, cool. Gear: Testers, shorts, long-sleeved T, jacket, hat (stowed), gloves (stowed). Fuel: Post breakfast (and PB granola bar), carried water.

In-laws are visiting for the holidays, including my BIL, who got interested in running after watching me to marathons and is now up to half marathon distances now. So it was pretty much a given we'd have to run at least once while they were here. We opted for the Salmon Creek Greenway Trail.

It was a challenging run for me. My BIL is one of those types who tends to always run as fast as he can, which meant getting him to hit a more sustainable pace was a somewhat hopeless task, and my body is still down a few billion red blood cells after my donation last week. Therefore, this was far from a low HR run, though I tried to keep it (and him) in check.

It was cool too see how much my BIL has improved, though. Running any distance at all was unthinkable for him a few years ago. Now he handled a 10-miler without any real difficulty. He even decided to jog up a hill backwards to work his calf muscles (he's a martial arts sort of guy, so pain is his friend), which was a little irritating as I tried to keep my HR from spiking. Still, he's got his weight under control and seems healthier overall, so I guess a little irritation is worth it.

Average HR for entire run: 140. Walked first 5, most of last 5. And accidentally hit stop before I got home. So Garmin says 9.95, but it was probably a little over 10.


Merry Christmas, everybody! santa rendeer
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Wed Dec 26, 2012 5:57 pm

Walk: 3.3 miles

Weather: Cloudy, breezy, chilly and damp. 40 degrees.

The weather looked fairly nasty but I risked a lunchtime walk - and was rewarded by a break in the rainfall for almost the entire length off the walk. It was nice to get outside, and I had the waterfront path nearly to myself. It was so peaceful that I extended the walk by about a mile more than usual.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:36 pm

Low HR Run: 90 minutes (7.87 miles)

Weather: Partly cloudy, chilly and damp. 37 degrees, 98% humidity. Gear: Testers, tights, T, pullover, jacket, hat, gloves (on, off and on again). Fuel: Cereal and coffee before, carried water.

Relatives have left, so this seemed like a good morning to try to get back into the swing of things. I headed out early on my Llama Ridge route, and I experimented a little with my stride (thinking about lifting my heel off first) and was pleased to see my heart rate hovering at a lot lower level than I've seen lately. The splits weren't speedy, but I was happy that I could keep it nice and easy out there. It'll get a bit faster as my red blood cells come back and as I get better at translating barefoot technique into shoes.

Walked first and last 5 minutes. Average HR for entire run: 133
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:58 pm

Well, this is annoying.

It seems that my wife's family brought an extra little gift during their Christmas visit: a really nasty head cold. Alita fell victim to it on Christmas eve, and it got its hooks into me yesterday. Bleah! I feel like somebody put one of those aerosol whipped cream canisters up my nose and let it go until it stared coming out my ears. tongue

I was hoping to get one or two more runs in before the end of the year, but that's looking doubtful at this point. Oh well. I don't get sick very often, and with any luck, this will burn through quickly.

In the meantime, I'm pondering whether to conclude this blog on Dec. 31 and start a new one, or just keep plugging away. Thoughts?
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:39 pm

Zicam! The only reason to start again is that you are no longer going nowhere. Happy New Year!
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sat Dec 29, 2012 7:04 pm

Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Zicam! The only reason to start again is that you are no longer going nowhere. Happy New Year!

Probably a little late for Zicam, Michele, but it's a good thing to think about for next time.

And you make a very good point about the blog. While not all those who wander are lost, it's safe to say that I now have a destination in mind. Getting there is going to be the theme of 2013. Very Happy
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sun Dec 30, 2012 3:21 pm

So, all my online friends are talking about these awesome runs in cold and snow...

.... and we finally have some clear skies here (after a very rainy fall and early winter)...

... and I'm busy blowing my nose, hoping like crazy that this massive head cold doesn't migrate into my lungs.

$#@!

(Oh well, I guess at least it'll give me a chance to think about how to wrap up this blog for 2012 and start - and name - a new one for 2013.)
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:34 am

Okay, time to wrap this baby up.

I embarked on this "Road to Nowhere" as 2012 began with the idea that a break from structured training would give my body and spirit time to recover and recharge. I'd pushed myself too hard for too long, and I was burning out. It was time for a break.

It's been a year. Did it work? This next year will tell the tale, but I think the answer is yes.

By setting aside race goals and structured training plans, I finally had time to figure out how to lose about 25 pounds that had refused to come off even during training for 2 or 3 marathons a year. It had been a huge frustration before. But this year, I learned that cutting back on total miles while increasing the frequency of activity and cutting out snacks was what I needed. My weight fell from 186 to 160, and I've managed to keep it there so far.

After hearing from a podiatrist that I'm rapidly running out of cartilage in the midfoot of my left foot - and finally understanding why my feet look and work the way they do - I started experimenting with barefoot running to see if I could run with less impact and with less torque on that part of my foot. I was surprised (and thrilled) to find out that it was a lot of fun, got me a lot of crazy looks, and - much to my surprise - that it allowed me to run faster and at a lower effort level than in shoes! Well, except on pointy gravel, of course. Wink

I "only" ran (or walked) 854 miles this past year - a lot less than previous years - but 225 of those miles were done with naked feet. Very Happy

Expect more miles - both total and barefoot - in 2013.

I also went back to low HR training and was happy to see my paces (even when wearing shoes) starting to get back to where they were a few years ago, before my big flame-out, but this time at a HR several bpm lower than before.

I experimented with different types of minimalist footwear, too. (Alas, it will probably take years before I can run crazy distances barefoot.) I wore Luna sandals a lot, but found they were better for casual wear than running. Either I need to perfect barefoot form before I can translate it to sandals, or I picked a variety of sandal that offers too little ground feedback. I tried zero drop shoes, too. They may end up working for me, but I'm not sure yet. The Altra Instincts I got are fairly straight-lasted and, as I discovered during a trip to the Nike last room, my feet are far more curved than the average runner. So the jury's still out. Nike Free 3.0s are still a go-to shoe, as are my Saucony Peregrines for rocky trails.

I suppose I'm going to have to figure something to wear soon because, after a year of swearing off any organized run/race, I'm starting to get the itch to pin on a race number. I've made it onto a waiting list for the Mount Hood 50, an ultra run on the Pacific Crest Trail in July, and it's likely that I'll actually get in.

The process of getting ready for that adventure is going to take up a good chunk of 2013, and it will be topic of my next blog. Stay tuned!

Finally, I want to say how much I appreciated everybody who has taken the time to read my sometimes random, sometimes wonky blog entires. Your comments, wisecracks and support helped keep me going. Thank you from the bottom of my dirty feet, er, heart. Smile

Happy trails!

-Mark

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Mark B
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