fifteen years…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 16, 2016 by roninsherpa

I was in my truck headed to install an alarm in a house when my cell phone rang. She and I had spent time in New York and she wanted to tell me an airplane had hit the Tower. I remember her saying the word “Cessna.” She also said there was a live shot of it on television. She worked in an office building, managing an entire floor of people in cubicles, so for her to know about something on TV at 9:00am was odd. I thanked her and hung up. At the next intersection there was an old, run down convenience store and I pulled in. I remember that place felt really dirty and grimy. I remember the rebel flag and the taxidermy deer. There were very few windows and the light came from fluorescent bulbs. The walls behind the counter were painted a pale yellow. The entire place was cluttered and messy in a sad run down way. I have no memory of how the person behind the counter looked, only the way they made me feel. They did have a television and I clearly remember the huge wad of aluminum foil on each of the TV’s rabbit ear antenna. I bought a Coke because I wanted to be a paying customer. I remember having to ask the cashier something about either switching on the TV, or changing the channel, but my memory is not clear about which. What I do remember clearly is the World Trade Center burning. I stood there in shock, finally saying to the cashier that I had lived and knew people there. The cashier made openly prejudiced remarks about people from the north, and about his indifference toward what was happening there. The rhetoric went something like “Damn yankees, probably deserved it. Kill’em all.” I remember feeling disgusted about being in there, and felt badly having contributed money toward this person.

The second plane hit the Towers as I stood in the dirty store with the prejudiced cashier.

Fear gripped me and I remember I did not want to waste energy being submersed in the ignorance of that place, so I walked out. I sat in my car in that parking lot for a moment trying to think of a way to get out of installing this alarm, but I went anyway.

He showed me around the old house and we discussed the alarm he wanted. The whole time my mind was on fire with the events I had witnessed, so I was hardly paying attention to him. I remember how old the house was, wooden in construction with peeling wall paper and prevalent water damage. It seemed the cliché setting  for any horror movie. One room had hundreds upon hundreds of newspapers stacked from floor to ceiling except for a path which led to a window. If there were any furniture in this room, it was under this ridiculously massive glut of newspapers. He had a full grown Doberman Pinscher, a ferret, and massive macaw parrot, all of which had free roam of the entire house. The odd bit was that the living room had $100,000 of audio visual equipment. It was like the Space Shuttle in the middle of a swamp. He had the largest TV I had ever seen which was not a projection screen. I understood why he wanted the alarm. He said he was going to leave me in the house to do my work, and he would return later. He warned me to be weary of the macaw. He was right, that damn bird bit me more than once. Before he left, I asked if he would be so kind as to turn on the TV so I could watch what was happening in New York. I remember his saying he didn’t want to pay me to watch TV, but when he turned it on almost immediately they reported that the Pentagon had been hit. We stood there, with the dog, the ferret and the fucking murderous bird, watching our country erupt into chaos.

After that my memories blur…


I remember Dan Rather getting choked up on David Letterman’s first show back on the air.

I remember President Bush throwing out the first pitch a Yankee Stadium.


Fifteen years.


The Premier! The Polar A360 strapless HRM’s

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2015 by roninsherpa

The Premier! The Polar A360! 


As you know, I am a Polar Brand Ambassador. A select few of us scruffy looking, nerf hearders, have been granted special permission to give the new A360 unit a unique, once in a lifetime test! I will be wearing this unit during the premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, along with my Polar V800! I will be posting my own personal heart rate as I visit my life long friends R2D2, C3PO, Han, Luke and Leia along with all the new faces like Rey, Fin and the new Dark Lord Kylo Ren! It will show you the difference between the accuracy of the two units, and the data each collects. That way you can see Polar’s flagship: the ultra advanced, highly accurate V800, and the new strapless A360! I have already been given tickets to the IMAX 3D show on Thursday night, so the whole world can see just how nerdy I am and how badly I flip out seeing the Millennium Falcon! (It did the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, you know…)

I assure you that while my posts will show where all the excitement is in the movie, they will be spoiler free! I welcome the entire world into my Nerddom and Geekness. May the Force be with you!

“Put the A360 in the cargo hold.”


That time I broke a bone on a vegetable…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 25, 2015 by roninsherpa

I’ve cracked a rib.

How did it happen?

I would love to say I was scaling El Capitan, free style and slipped…

OR that when base jumping my parachute failed to open and I careened off of a glass skyscraper falling into the top of an ice cream truck…

OR as I was saving the orphans, nuns and pet rescue dogs, part of the burning building collapsed on me…

But no…

None of that happened.


I was putting away the groceries and trying to organize the frozen veggies into a stack in the freezer. I was holding two or three in the crook of my right arm while stacking them in the freezer using my left. I smashed them against the door frame of the freezer to break up the ice and make them stack a little easier. So now I was standing there with the last package of California Blend Veggies pinned between my right arm and my chest, while I was breaking the ice on another one with my left hand. I could see there was a perfect place for the last one, but the large ball of ice/veggies needed to be broken to fit. I squeezed my right arm against my chest trying to crunch it when suddenly POW! I physically recoiled, stepping away from the freezer. It felt like I had been shot! It took my breath away.

It took a second, but I realized what had happened. I cracked a rib.


Just below my right pec there is an area the size of a dime where when I take a deep breath it lights up. There is nothing a doctor can do for a broken rib, you just have to take it easy and let it heal. It just sucks for a while.

So no shit, there I was, no burning orphanage, no attacking Martians, and no skydiving accident…

I broke a bone on a vegetable.


Happy Thanksgiving.

“100 Things” or “The Bucket List”

Posted in Uncategorized on January 7, 2015 by roninsherpa

Welcome to my updated list of:


100 Things to do before I die

This list is not in order of importance.

I recognize some of these are well outside my grasp but complacency is the mother of death.

Some are frugal while others are quite indulgent. Some are outright silly, but a man has to be able to laugh at himself. I encourage you to write your own list, and keep it in a place which can been seen daily. A goal is a dream with a timeline and ‘someday’ never comes unless you change today. You are worth big dreams.

1. Big Feet

2. Qualify for the Boston Marathon

3. Run all 5 Space Coast Marathons in the “Big Bang” Series, earning the 7 available medals

4. Run a marathon in all 50 states.

5. Run a marathon on all 7 continents

6. Badwater 135

7.  Marathon des Sables

8. Norseman

9. Ironman World Championships in Kona

10. See the Worlds Largest Frying Pan. It is in Wilmington, Del.

11. Buy a new car

12. Drive a Ferrari

13. Convince Congress to pass legislation to control electronic cigarettes as cigarettes and mandate displays be put behind the counter

14. 6 pack abs

15. Get over my anger and disappointment toward Lance Armstrong

16. Own a Range Rover with a winch

17. Restore a 1969 Mustang fastback painted red with a black hood

18. Visit Easter Island

19. Bora bora

20. Ride a bicycle in France

21. Organize a long weekend getaway with my girlfriend which she knows nothing about until I drive her to the airport

22. Own an Armani suit

23. Learn to speak French

24. Help pass legislation where electronic cigarettes are treated like cigarettes

25. Learn to cook 100 different meals

26. Own a condo

27. Visit the Sengaku-ji shrine in Shinagawa, Japan

28. Snowboard Aspin

29. Be a father

30. Learn to speak Danish

31. Fill my passport with stamps

32. Write a book

33. Know true love

34. Be in a movie or TV show

35. Meet Col. Chris Hadfield (astronaut)

36. Build my business

37. Sell my business

39. Earn someone’s complete trust

40. Play my sax in front of others with no fear

45. Learn to play “Lisa” “Pick up the pieces” and “Chicago Song”


2014: A year’s adventures

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2015 by roninsherpa
Walking to the Start Line through The Siq

Walking to the Start Line through The Siq

2014 has been a busy year. There have been more events than what I’ve recorded here, but these are the highlights.


The first of the year had some of the worst snow in this area we’ve had in many years. Over 10 inches in some places with freezing rain, hail and sleet on top of that. People walked away from vehicles stuck on the interstate. The local municipalities do not possess equipment to deal with that type of weather, so we just had to wait it out. I was one of the lucky ones and never lost power.


I stayed at home and watched the Sochi Olympics.


I am a biathlon fan and Ole Einar Bjørndalen has been the man for many years. He has won more Winter Olympic medals than anyone, ever. He took a Gold medal in the Biathlon Sprint and helped the team take the Gold for Relay… and he’s 40. Most Olympians are in their teens or early 20’s yet Ole beat them solidly. It was awesome to watch.


This year my volunteer work in the fight against cancer has continued. Working with The LIVESTRONG Foundation progressed to my being elected Senior Leader last year. The position brings the responsibility of training and directing new and existing Leaders within my region: NC, DE, VA, MD, and KY. I also assist LIVESTRONG HQ with their efforts, in building and maintaining relationships with our affiliated partners, like the YMCA and Camp Kesem. Over the winter I volunteered as a member of the Leader Training Advisory Council where I worked diligently with HQ and a select group of other Leaders helping to develop the new online training platform which will bring a clearer focus and better understanding of duties and responsibilities to an appointed volunteer Leader.





In March I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to run in the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships. 30,000 other runners from all over the world came to take part. I was there working with my fellow LIVESTRONG Leaders, Anne Chen, Karen de Kerk and Jacob Elkjær. It was through Jacob’s hard work and organizing we were joined by over 100 supporters all wearing shirts bearing the LIVESTRONG Foundation logo.



Over 30,000 runners took to the Copenhagen streets in the 2014 World Half Marathon Championships

Cancer does not care what nationality you are, who you pray to or what colour your skin is. Cancer is a bastard who wishes to rob you of joy. The LIVESTRONG Foundation works with their extensive network of survivors to bring hope, options and yes even joy back into the lives those dealing with cancer right now.

While at the World Half Marathon Championships I was able to meet with the reps of Polar Denmark and view the new V800 and V650. At the time, the V800 had just being unveiled to the public, but the V650 was still just a prototype.



Copenhagen was founded as a city more than 600 years before the United States was even around. The food, culture, and atmosphere of Copenhagen is addictive. I look forward to spending more time there.


LIVESTRONG CEO Doug Ulman addresses the Leaders at the 2014 Assembly in Austin, TX.

In April, I traveled to Austin, TX for the LIVESTRONG Leader Assembly. While this beautiful group of people does not get together every year, when we do, it is fantastic. Leaders are people from all over the world who have but one common element: We hate cancer. We also love life and when we get together, it is easy to see how much. The Assembly is how we have received training, guidance and direction from HQ, not to mention fellowship with other survivors and caregivers. Every time I have the chance to be around other Leaders it fills me with purpose and hope.




Copenhagen Crew in Austin!


Unity is strength.


I was asked to once again to travel to Washington DC and address Congress and the Senate for One Voice Against Cancer’s OVAC Lobby Day. 27 different cancer related organizations come together to ask Members of Congress and the Senate for their support of a $32 billion package which supported the National Institutes of Health, (NIH), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cancer Programs, and the Health Resources and Services Administration, (HRSA).


With Congressman George Holding R-NC in The Rayburn Room of The Capitol Building


Presenting Senator Tom Harkin (D – Iowa) with a lifetime achievement award for his work for Cancer.


With Senator Kay Hagan in her DC office in Dirksen Senate Office Building

The 2014 OVAC was a wonderful success, gaining a lot of commitments and support. Congressman George Holding (R-NC) came off of the floor just to meet with me. It is wonderful to meet with professionals who care so much. I was also able to take part in presenting Senator Tom Harkin a Lifetime Achievement Award for is unending support.

While in DC I was also able to visit with a fellow Polar Ambassador, Cheryl Hori. Cheryl works on Capitol Hill and rubs elbows with the President like it’s no big deal. Cheryl was nice enough to give me a tour of the Capitol Building pointing out some really crazy details like bullet holes and beautiful out of the way art few tourists ever see. She also allowed me access to the secret underground Senate train which runs from the Capitol Building, to the Russell Senate Building. It was a very special thrill to ride the same rails as Presidents, Senators and heads of state! The ride only lasts a few minutes, but it is a part of Secret Washington I had only heard and read about. Thank you Cheryl!


In the room intended to be George Washington’s tomb in the Capitol Building. That Star is the geographic center of Washington DC.


In the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda

 Late Summer

Most of the rest of my summer was spent working, eating right, watching the hummingbirds fight over the sugar water and training for the Petra Desert Marathon.




Training for Petra

The idea of traveling to the Middle East and running a marathon through the desert came from speaking with friends about their travels and adventures. Jacob earned the Norseman Black T Shirt, Anne summited Kilimanjaro… wanderlust and adventure burn deep in my soul like the red hot magma of a volcano. I trained in the middle of the day to prepare myself for the desert heat.

The Middle East


Amman, Jordan

The sights, the sounds, the foods and the culture of Jordan brought adventure at every turn.


Freshly squeezed juice from a street vendor in Madaba, Jordan.


Anne and I visiting the Madaba Mosaic Map in the early Byzantine Church of Saint George at Madaba, Jordan.

Seeing the Madaba Mosaic Map was a real thrill. It was made sometime around 542 AD. Years later, in 746 Madaba was destroyed by a massive earthquake and the entire town was abandoned. The mosaic was not rediscovered until 1884. More than just art, the Madaba Map has proven to be a very accurate map of religious locations once thought lost, or even fictional.


The 2014 Petra Desert Marathon


Atop the desert precipice.

The arid desert heat was not the only challenge of the Petra Desert Marathon, the relentlessly brutal hill climbs would have taken any runner to task. The terrain was brutal with its steep pitches, and undulations. The 5km climb which happened at the deep end of the marathon, took its toll on me and I had hallucinations while on the course. I had been running with a woman named Odette from Cape Town until we got to that bloody hill. In the photo above you can see the road half way up becomes a wall which you have to somehow climb. I had to walk, I had to crawl, I had to… I blinked and as clear as day I was sitting in my mother’s winged back chair in the house I grew up in. The large red brick fireplace was in front of me with the huge, black steel, wood stove in it. I have the memory of this vision as clear as if it had actually happened. I saw the brass knobs on the wood stove and the small brass kettle which always held a bit of water. Then… things… shifted… and I was deep in the heart of a Middle Eastern desert, running a marathon again. It was surreal. I realized I had pushed my body’s reserves of sugar past a place I had ever been before. But then I remembered the my hidden trick for it: Pepsi. One of my running flasks held a few ounces of flattened Pepsi. It’s sugars react in my body much quicker and in a different way than Gatorade. Within minutes my mind was working again and I was able to catch up to Odette and Finish with her. It was the hardest bloody marathon I’ve ever done. I would do it again in a second!


Running a marathon through a city carved from the living stone thousands of years ago was an adventure of a lifetime.

Winners Dinner in Little Petra

Our Winners Dinner was held in an ancient smaller place known as Little Petra which is some 600 years older than Petra itself. We dined under a night sky so clear and so uninfluenced by light, we could see the Milky Way. We ate, we drank and we rocked out to German House Music.

The Jordan Adventure was awesome. The food, the friends, the history, the professionalism of our guides and of course the challenge of the marathon itself. I would go back and do it all again in a moment.


Cancer doe not care what nationality you are. Cancer does not care what colour your skin is. Cancer does not care who you pray to. Cancer does not care about your hopes, dreams, goals or loves. Cancer does not care. I do.

Back home I moved into a new place. While I did not move far, I did move. My parents also moved. Their move was much more significant as they were coming from a house they had been in for almost 20 years.

Then it was time for Florida.


This is the fourth year in a row I have run the Space Coast Marathon in Fla. It is always held the weekend after Thanksgiving which makes it a perfect event. I see family, have a wonderful meal and then fly out of town the next day, and explore Kennedy Space Center. Over the years, I have witnessed rocket launches, made friends with actual astronauts and collected photographs of all manor of space craft. I am a total NASA Nerd. This marks the second year in what race organizers have called The Big Bang Series. For five consecutive years, each medal for both the Full and the Half, commemorates one of the Space Shuttles: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis. If a runner completes any three of these events, another medal dubbed the Milky Way will be awarded, and should a runner complete all five events a seventh medal titled the Intergalactic will be earned. I totally dig the Space Bling and intend to earn them all.


All the Full and Half Big Bang Medals! 


With Anne and Space Shuttle Atlantis

This year I was joined by my fellow LIVESTRONG Leader, Anne Chen. This was to be her first full marathon! It was also her first visit to Kennedy Space Center.

The Space Coast Marathon is special in a number of ways: First it does have the ‘space’ theme and each of the water stations have people dressed up in costumes like Mr. Spock, Jabba the Hutt, and Stormtroopers. The other thing to remember is that this event takes place in Florida, and is entirely on the waterfront. You can see pelicans, seagulls and if you are lucky, dolphins!


Stopping at mile 4 for a moment to capture the sunrise

Anne and I separated during the start and I did not see her again until mile 20 or so. I had held onto a GU energy pack which had a little caffeine in it to give her, I knew she would need it. She looked tired, but was soldiering on. I said “You are doing it! Look at you!” She said her knee was bothering her, but she was OK. I gave her the GU, gave her some more reassuring words and I was off again.


On the left is at mile 5 just after sunrise. On the right is just a few meters from the Finish Line.

This is my fourth Finish of the Space Coast Marathon, but I wanted to make sure it was special for Anne as it was her first ever. I collected my medal, (a lovely one by the way) found a Pepsi, and had a piece of pizza in the Finishers Village there in the park. While I was waiting I bumped into a few people I have only ever met through this race and congratulated them on their Finish. The announcer called Anne’s name and we all cheered and clapped! The final time did not matter because she Finished and we were all very proud of her. Anne collected her medal and mentioned her knee again. We found the med tent and had a nice sit down. A lovely attendant wrapped Anne’s knee with a large bag of ice and I got her a nice cold soda. I am very proud of Anne for pushing through the frustration of things not going exactly right and I commend her for having the awareness of not injuring herself further but accomplishing the goal. In my past I have at times “soldiered on” yet hurt myself worse.


Finishers of the 2014 Space Coast Marathon! Anne’s knee wrapped with ice.

2014 has been a year of adventure and change. Last year I chose to end my career in the cycling world, so much of this year has been spent taking various classes and state proctored tests to acquire my licences to work in the insurance world: Life, Health, Property and Casualty along with a few others. Without the help, love and support of my family, friends and sponsors, this would all be impossible.My mother’s lasagna and a hug cures the darkest moments of self doubt. My father’s words of wisdom and his advice ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS works if I do what he tells me to.

It is my humble honor to be a Brand Ambassador of Polar Electro, makers of the finest, most accurate self monitoring devices on the planet. As a 46 year old athlete who travels the world and puts himself into new and different atmospheres, with new foods and differing qualities of water, I have to listen to my body and understand what it is saying in simple terms, and Polar does that.

X-Bionic manufactures articles of clothing which improve your body’s performance simply by wearing them. Whether it was the chill of the Scandinavian winter, the arid heat of a Middle Eastern desert, or the humid autumn of Florida, I have found X-Bionic provides tangible improvements to performance.

This year I have run my events in the Asics GEL Nimbus models 14 and 16. I hiked the ancient city of Petra in the Asics GT-2000. I believe Asics provides the highest quality, best fitting off the shelf running shoes on the market.

These adventures and this effort would not be worthwhile alone. A special thank you to my friend, colleague and partner in crime, Anne Chen.

Birthday Space Station

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2014 by roninsherpa


I subscribe to and you can too. It is a free service that works almost anywhere in the world and will alert you some 6-8 hours before the International Space Station flys over you.

I was thrilled that for the second year in a row I was going to have the chance to see the International Space Station on my birthday! I got the following message at 3:59am:


“Time: Sat Dec 27 5:39 PM, Visible: 6 min, Max Height: 48 degrees, Appears: NW, Disappears: ESE”


I was thrilled! When the ISS is visible for 6 minutes it means it is passing almost directly overhead. Most of the time it is 3 or 4 or 5 minutes, but at 6 minutes it covers the entire sky. When you are looking for the ISS, understand you are not seeing a spaceship. What you see is a dot of light. NASA says it is the “third brightest object in the sky,” the other two being the moon and sun. You can’t mistake it for a low flying airplane because it doesn’t blink. It is also traveling faster. Relative to the ground, the ISS travels some 17,500 miles per hour, circumnavigating the entire Earth in only 90 minutes. It is moving damn fast!

Last year on my birthday I watched a Russian Cosmonaut on NASA TV, live from the ISS taking a space walk to do repairs to the outside of the Station itself. That night we watched as the ISS orbited across the night sky.

This year I was poised and ready to see the station again. I was going to try to get a photograph of myself with the ISS in the background because I am just a massive nerd like that. It is bright enough to be in your selfie on a clear night. My trouble was that a massive cloud cover was drifting across the sky just at 5:25 when I was outside waiting. It seemed to be a race. 5:39 came and I knew the dot of light was overhead but those clouds had come from the NW and were traveling ESE. I was going to have to be lucky and wait for the final few seconds to try and get the photo. The issue is that the lower the ISS gets on the horizon, the atmosphere distorts the light and you may not see it go all the way to the treeline. It was a race. I was either going to run out of visible time, or visible sky.

Then it happened, with only the narrowest of views, between the clouds and a building, one little speck of light dropped from the clouds! As you see with the photo above there was only the narrowest of margins.

Fuzzy, off in the distance, through the haze of clouds, and atmosphere, there is a little dot of light in my photo. It is the International Space Station and seeing it on the same day two years in a row is pretty fracking awesome.


The Petra Desert Marathon – part 3 – RACE DAY: The Goddess of Fortune and Beethoven’s “Ode to Pepsi”

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2014 by roninsherpa




We got to the Petra Visitor’s Center around 5:30 in the morning. 50 runners: 26 for the half marathon, and 24 the marathon. We walked through Petra’s grounds, through the Siq, past the Treasury, past the Roman Theater, out onto the Street of Façades to the Start Line of the Petra Desert Marathon.

Walking to the Start Line through The Siq

Walking to the Start Line through The Siq

The Half and Full marathons were set on the same half moon shaped course around the valley and then up and over the crest of a pretty steep ridge. The Full marathon would break off through the desert in a few places and then an 8k out and back through a rugged agriculture area. Our Finish Line would be at our hotel which was outstanding. The hills were about 1000 times more severe than I had planned for, they were steep and unforgiving. However, I was not there to break personal records, only to cross the Finish Line.


What happened was my body ran out of sugar. You see your brain runs on sugar like your car runs on gas. Burn enough sugar out of your body and your mind will not work right. We have all seen those disturbing videos of the seasoned athletes willowing away, unable to hold themselves up. Late in the day, it began to happen to me.


Anne and I at about 05:45 the morning of the marathon. We stopped briefly to take each others photo by The Treasury.

Anne and I at about 05:45 the morning of the marathon. We stopped briefly to take each others photo by The Treasury.

But lets get there first. The Starting Line of the 2014 Petra Desert Marathon was on the ancient stone “Street of Façades.” The morning was cool but not chilly. I wore a light jacket to the Start Line.

2014 Petra Desert Marathon Start Line

2014 Petra Desert Marathon Start Line

With only 50 people running our group was a good size. Intimate, you might say. Because Petra is an active archaeological site, our run started under a controlled pace for the first 500 yards or so. The Race Director said a few remarks we all counted down and we were off.

We were running the Petra Desert Marathon.

Qasr al Bint on the left was built in the first century BC. Anne on the right listens to music on her glass iPhone and wears X-Bionic clothing which improves endurance simply by wearing it.

Qasr al Bint on the left was built in the first century BC. Anne on the right listens to music on her glass iPhone and wears X-Bionic clothing which improves endurance simply by wearing it.

It was at that moment I had an epiphany:  I was wearing some of the most technologically advanced running kit mankind has ever created, tracking my every step using a series of robots in orbit who were communicating with a computer strapped to my wrist, which was monitoring my vital signs. All of this was happening while running through a set of stone ruins so old that multiple civilizations have built their lives on top of the dust of those who came before only to perish away themselves. One of the civilizations to live here, were the Romans. I was running by the stone structure called Qasr al Bint listening to “O Fortuna” on my glass iPod. “O Fortuna” is a poem written in the 13th century about ‘Fortuna,’ who was the ‘Goddess of fortune’ and the ‘personification of luck’ for the Roman religion. It was a brilliant moment of recognition where we have come.

Anne runs up one of the first hills on the course.

Anne runs up one of the first hills on the course.

2014 Petra Desert Marathon

The course turned from the steeply paved road behind us into the harsh desert.

It is a difficult moment to reduce to words on a page, but I will try.

If we, as a species, can climb from a stone cave to listening to symphonic music played from a piece of glass, we can cure cancer. Is it arrogant to stand on the ruins of other civalizations and preach of collective intelligence? Am I foolish to believe in hope when faced with the mortality of my current wave of humanity? Do I dare hope for a better future for those to come? I think we must. I believe we can do anything. I believe together we can achieve great things and I believe the evidence of Petra still existing after so many millennia is proof of that.


Anne and I were able to run together for a short while until the Full Marathon course turned further out into the desert. After the split, the only humans I saw were at water stops. I found a few goat herds on the rockier bits, but once the sun crept over the hills they were hiding in whatever shade they could find.


One of the first hills on the course. The shadows of the morning sun quickly giving way to the hot sun.

Desert selfie

The Pepsi.

In being a long distance runner I have discovered my body changes how it works over the course of a marathon. Later in the event my body requires a different type of nutrition to keep it functioning. Often you will hear endurance athletes speak of “hitting the wall.” This is typically in the later stages of an event. Typically in a marathon it will be around mile 17, 18 or 19. It is caused by your body running low on sugar and because sugar is what your brain works on, you can’t think straight. Sometimes if you push youself beyond that simple confusion stage, your body begins to shut down. The first thing your brain will shut down is your limbs. They are the farthest things from your vital organs so they get cut off first. These are the guys you see in the videos who wobble and stagger at the finish line. It is what made Julie Moss famous in the Ironman. 50 feet from the Finish Line she collapses and the girl in second place passes her to win. Julie crawled across the Finish Line and into history. It was all filmed and shown on ABC’s Wild World of Sports. Triathlon became a sport after that.

Julie Moss crawls across the 1982 Ironman Finish Line

Julie Moss crawls across the 1982 Ironman Finish Line

With Julie Moss in 2009

With Julie Moss in 2009

I was on that hill and I could swear I was just sitting in a chair. I saw it. I felt it. It was a wing back, claw foot chair upholstered with paisley flowered fabric. I knew I had just been sitting in it and that the brick fireplace was right in front of me. It stopped me in my tracks. I shook the cobwebs from my head. I snapped back to reality. For a moment I had faded into the ether of memories because that chair and fireplace was in the house I grew up in which my parents sold 20 years ago. I was 2/3rds of my way up a nasty, steep 3k hill in a desert in the Middle East and it was kicking my butt. The girl I had been running with was now no where to be seen. Poof. Gone. Woosh up that hill like it was nothing. Maybe I had been in La-la Land a little longer than I had thought. Julie Moss popped into my head. I heard her say “You have some Pepsi in your Fuel Belt.” I did. I had a small bottle of Pepsi I had opened the night before and let it go flat so it would not foam over when I was running. I took a few sips and within a few minutes I felt like a new person. The reality that my nutrition was not tuned in came to my mind and I had another sip. I read Chris McCormack’s book “I’m Here to Win” and in it he proclaimed that soda had made the difference for his late marathon issues. I had tried it before, but this was irrefutable proof that the man knows what he was talking about. Thanks Chris. Thanks Julie.

Taking stock, I felt exhausted. These hills were much more than I had prepaired for. Being reduced to walking many of the hills and running down them reflected a hole in my training. My legs burned with lactic acid, feeling heavier and heavier with each step.

At the top of the late race 3k hill which winds down behind me. The Race Doctor took this photo.

At the top of the late race 3k hill which winds down behind me. The Race Doctor took this photo.

The top of the hill finally came and the race doctor was there with some Jordanian men. At each water stop they had given us two small bottles of water, one of which I would promptly dump on my head. It was shockingly cold and would cause an involuntary grunt. Over the last of the marathon I had begun to look forward to it. The doctor said I was in good order. I handed her my iPhone and asked her to take my photo. I wanted to remember that damn hill.

I was off the road now, on some goat path. It wound around and up a little further over the summit of the ridge. Now I could see the town in the valley below. The road I was on was loose dirt mixed with large stone and all I could think of was my ankle twisting. A quick glance of my watch and a half hearted attempt at math and I was instantly worried that I would not make the 7 hour time limit. I drank the rest of the Pepsi and began to run. Soon my heart rate was off the chart and I was forced to walk again. I finally came to the 3k to go marker. This was the last water stop. I got my two bottles and said a silent prayer about finding the strength to finish what I had started. When I looked down at the little trash can that was sitting there for my bottle, just on top of everything else was Anne’s water bottle with all the LIVESTRONG decals on it.

“O Fortune, like the moon you are changeable.”

The Jordanian guy manning that water stop did not speak English and he probably thought I was a freak for laughing that loudly about trash, but it was what I needed to see, when I needed to see it. Funny how things like that work out, eh?


Of the last 3k 2 were down a very steep loose dirt and stone road. They had said the last kilometer was uphill.
That’s when I saw her. The girl who had left me in the dust on that awful hill. I had to catch her. Faster and faster, stumbling and making unashamed grunting noises I blasted down that hill. I imagined myself as the Road Runner with a cloud of dust behind me. The road became even steeper and suddenly I was on pavement. There was the police station. I was coming back into civilization. Then I was beside the girl in blue. “Where did you come from?” She asked. “Pepsi!” is all I remember telling her. Then there was the bottom of the hill… and the sharp left turn… and the road so bloody steep I wanted a ladder. Blue girl was in as much pain as I was, so I just kept saying things like “You can do it, c’mon! We’re almost there!”

Here is the elevation chart recorded by my Polar RCX5

Here is the elevation chart recorded by my Polar RCX5

I suffered. I just can not convey that fact through words on this page any more than to say it was harder than anything I’ve ever done. I was giving her words of encouragement so that I could hear them too. We topped that damn hill and turned toward the hotel. It was also uphill, but at least it undulated a bit…. A bit.

When we crested the last little bit I caught a glimpse of the other runners who had finished long before us. The Finish Line was a welcome site. Anne was there and I shared that I had seen her water bottle in that trash can at just the right moment. We had a laugh about one person’s trash being another person’s treasure.

Petra Desert Marathon 2014_Y2Q3226

The Petra Desert Marathon was a life changing event. The event itself was an ongoing struggle with myself asking and answering the questions of “Can I” and “Why.” Petra itself is a statement of foundation, and the ability to endure. I will relish my time there and always see it as a life event others pale in comparison to. My visit to the Middle East brought new and different questions to my mind about possibilities and the future.

Finish Line of the 2014 Petra Desert Marathon

Finish Line of the 2014 Petra Desert Marathon


My thanks to my friend and fellow LIVESTRONG Leader Anne for her invitation to this event and her encouragement during and after. She held her own and kicked my ass. This adventure would not have been the same without her.

Winston Churchill said: “If you‘re going through hell, keep going.” Cancer robs us of joy. It does not care who you are, what your goals are, who you love, or who you pray to. Cancer takes away choices. When I set out to run this marathon I knew it would be difficult, but it was easy compared to what someone suffers with cancer in their life. I support the LIVESTRONG Foundation because they directly help those families who suffer cancer with navigation services. If you know someone who is going through the hell of cancer please put them in touch with me, or call 1-855-220-7777. Thank you.