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Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Quote of the Day: “The music of the marathon is a powerful martial strain, one of those tunes of glory. It asks us to forsake pleasures, to discipline the body, to find courage, to renew faith and to become one’s own person, utterly and completely.”

- George Sheehan

It’s that time of year folks. Time to do my annual Lone Pine, Wild Wild West planning for 2006.

I started running this race in 2000 so this will be my 7th uninterrupted pilgrimage to Lone Pine California to run this race.

It hasn’t always been a big event. The highlights from past years are as follows:

2000: First marathon EVER and was talked into it over a drunk poker game. Did minimal training, longest run being a 15 mile run that was shortened to 11 by my wimpiness and a sandstorm. Drove with the other three Horsemen from 29 Palms and finished in just over 6 hours.

2001: All Four Horsemen made the return trip from 29 Palms. I worsened my time by almost 15 minutes.

2002: Had moved to Monterey but made the 8-hour drive to meet Gary Bash. The other two Horsemen flagrantly wimped out and I broke the 6-hour monster. This is also the first year I had run another marathon the weekend before and was running my first 50-mile ultra two weeks after.

2003: Made the same drive as 2002 but was met by Sir Phil this time while the other two Horsemen cried themselves to sleep in their beds at home. I crushed my PR by over 30 minutes and repeated the marathon the weekend before and 50-mile ultra two weeks after.

2004: My debut of traveling from the east coast with Sir Phil and also my most shameful performance. Pretty much gave up on the time and enjoyed the race with a ridiculous time. Didn’t really count as a race.

2005: my second trip cross country from Virginia and I redeemed myself, crushing my PR by another 20 minutes and getting within 4 ½ minutes of cracking the 5-hour monster.

That brings us up to date and I decided today was the day to start the planning. Signing up was relatively easy and the long pole in the tent was buying the ticket.

This is the part where you look at me funny because I’m paying a lot of money to fly across the country so I can drive further (about 5 hours) to finally get to a small mountain town, sleep, and get up crazy-early to run 26.2 miles through mountains and trails. Then reverse the entire fiasco to get home sore and a lot lighter in the wallet.

OK, so we understand it’s a fool’s errand. So what.

Combine this with the fact that I might be one of the cheapest bastards around and you get a recipe for scouring the Internet for a good deal on air fare. I will spare you the details and cut right to the chase: I ended up at Travelocity and not only got a cheaper fare than last year but I get to leave out of Reagan National instead of BWI, a savings of a few hours of driving.

The damage was $255.20 which is about 100 bones less than last year when I waited too long. It was supposed to be $245 with tax and fees but the bastards changed the price mid-booking. At least they said “sorry” in red. Bastards.

There was so much blog-worthy moments in buying this that I feel bad that I can’t go over the details. Suffice it to say, I got to pick my seats and we got a good price with reasonable departure and arrival times.

Sir Phil made the reservations for the Vegas hotel. Oh yeah, did I mention, we are going to Vegas? Neither Sir Phil nor I are gamblers or whore-mongers so the stereotypical Vegas draw is lost on us but we get to walk around a lot, look at the spectacles, and pay 3 times the price for meals unless we want to eat at 0200.

He also hooked up our room at the famous Dow Villa in Lone Pine. We’ve done this so many times that we have our favorite room (one with an actual bathroom. If you saw the place, you’d understand this is a treat) but it was taken so we had to get a room in the “Weed Wing,” so dubbed after we smelled a certain fragrance in the hallway during our first year back in 2000. I’ve been told that we have a bathroom so we’ll be living the high life… in the Weed Wing. (Yeah, like I’d trash 19 years in the Corps for some reefer.)

Free Advice for Today: “Refill ice cube trays.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.