Jason's Marathon pages

Sly The Unfortunate Snake




Along about mile 40, I was bonking. Bonking is a term that endurance participants use that means that your body, and mind soon to follow, starts to break down. In other words, you start losing it physically and mentally. At mile 40, I was a stumbling example of such a state (“Look, kids, that shell of a man is bonking!”)

It started with a stomach ache that quickly turned to a cramp, and by “cramp” I really mean a jagged hack saw straight into the gut. As I bent at a 90 degree angle, my legs decided it was a good time to join the chorus. They started twitching (“Hey Jason, down here. How do you feel about a little muscle seizure?”) and before long (about 4 seconds), the dizziness set in. The net effect was that I was scared silly. I had gone 40 miles and was pressed for time. If I went down now, it was all for nothing. Secondary to the dishonor of going down was the realization that I was in the middle of nowhere with no one around. I’d likely be there until dark before anyone missed me. Not a great moment in the life of Jason.

My vision tunnel started closing, getting smaller with each rhythmic heartbeat. When it closed, I knew it was quite literally “lights out” for me so with all the will I had not squandered, I concentrated on staying conscious. At the last moment, with a pinprick of light left, the tunnel reversed its progression and started widening. I would live to see another minute.

As I recovered from this and in the heat of success, one sudden, encompassing thought entered my head: I have to take another dump. And NOW! (such is life in the world of endurance lunacy).

I trotted off the side of the path and searched out an accommodating facility. I was in an open field of sage brush and sand so it came in handy that this kind of race strips you of all your pride when it comes to baring what God gave you. I wandered here and there until, to my utter disbelief, I came across a perfectly formed natural toilet.

This boulder was about knee-high, flat on top, and split down the middle in an inverted V-shape. About 3 inches into this widening crack was a smaller crack that led into the heart of the boulder. I couldn’t believe my eyes; a natural-formed commode in the middle of nowhere (yes, I did consider the possibility of hallucination but thought, so be it. Whatever it was, it was about to be shat upon.)

I didn’t have time to ponder over my luck and barely stripped my gear in time to tear down my racing shorts and point the business end at the boulder. I will spare you the gory details but imagine a steamroller vs. a bottle of Hershey’s Syrup. Now turn the intensity knob three full rotations. You get the idea.

As though this confession is not embarrassing enough, the rest of the story is impossible to explain without admitting another detail that I would normally exclude. But for the sake of continuity, let’s say I might have somehow caught a peek of my work. I don’t know how it happened but I was NOT admiring my work. Can we move on now?

When you spend an entire day in the middle of the California desert, you become accustomed to seeing the same natural colors. Therefore, it seemed strange to see a bright florescent orange (something you don’t normally see in a desert) down in the second boulder crack. My first thought was “How could a piece of litter get all the way out here and all the way down there?”

I just had to get a closer peek, despite the toxic environment of my own making. Upon further inspection (a half an inch closer), the true identity of the mystery appeared before my eyes much like those Magic Eye posters come to life when you finally “get it.”

A moment earlier, my ass had been mere inches away from a coiled up, very poisonous King Snake.

“What if” point of view: My body was broken down, I had just almost fainted, I was dehydrated, and I was cramping all over. After barely making it to the Rock and spewing forth sweet relief, what if my exposed anus was viciously attacked by a poisonous snake? IF I lived to tell about it, what would I tell? How would I tell everyone who asked (after a period of convalescence) “How did the ultra-marathon go?” I shudder to think what COULD have happened but my simple answer would have just needed to be “A real pain in the ASP.”

Snake’s Point of View: very ugly if you take the title literally. Here was Sly the Snake just chillin’ in his rock, minding his own business. Suddenly he hears some rustling and then the sun disappears and is replaced with a full moon. Just as he’s wondering what to do (Attack? Bolt? Wait and see?), a jet of excrement spurts forth violently and in one unforgettable moment (even for a snake), he is Sly the Shit-Covered Snake. What does he tell his friends? How does he clean up? How does he align this in his mind with anything he has ever experienced?

For a moment, I just stood there as these thoughts raced through my head. No way had I just released my churned bowels on a poisonous desert snake and lived to tell about it. From that moment on, the rest of the race seemed trivial. Still, to this day, I wonder what ever happened to that poor snake. Whatever the outcome, I bet he's the local advocate for avoiding that particular boulder for the rest of his days.

Back to 2002 Bishop Main page

Quick Links to all of my marathon experiences:

How it all started...

Summary of All My Races To Date

2000 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon

2001 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon

2002 Big Sur International Marathon
2002 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon

2003 Monterey Bay HALF Marathon
2003 Big Sur International Marathon
2003 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2003 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon
2003 Marine Corps Marathon

2004 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2004 Marine Corps HALF Marathon
2004 Marine Corps Marathon

2005 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2005 God's Country Marathon
2005 Seafair Marathon
2005 Marine Corps HALF Marathon
2005 Marine Corps Marathon

2006 Shamrock Marathon
2006 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2006 Marine Corps Marathon

2007 Rock & Roll Phoenix Marathon
2007 Carlsbad Half Marathon
2007 Miami Marathon
2007 San Dieguito Half Marathon
2007 Los Angeles Marathon
2007 Wild Miles Adventure Relay
2007 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2007 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon
2007 America's Finest City Half Marathon
2007 San Diego 100 Ultra-Marathon

2008 Carlsbad Half Marathon
2008 San Dieguito Half Marathon
2008 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2008 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon

2009 Seattle Marathon
2009 Pigtails Fatass Marathon

2010 Tacoma City Marathon
2010 Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon

2011 New York Marathon

Other Running Craziness
36 Mile Training Run: February 25, 2006
40 Mile Training Run: April 15, 2006
Another 36 Mile Training Run: April 19, 2008

Email -- jason@grose.us
Web -- http://www.grose.us/