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
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
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
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.
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