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I Need A New…

So now my first few short training runs are in the bag; six months to go.

Being well into “middle age” (and retired from professional life for a few years now) does not make me old. The body may age, but I refuse to get old. That’s a conscious decision we can all make.

Last year, my logbook indicated that I ran, walked, and hiked a total of 2,700 miles in calendar 2016. At the start of that year, our local running club, the Lake County Milers, posted a mileage challenge―speaking to my competitor’s spirit―and I had some big things planned for the year. For example, I trained for and ran only one ultramarathon, the Redwoods Creek 50K (31 miles), and then I planned for and hiked the John Muir Trail in California (approximately 220 miles plus an additional 30 miles to join the JMT from Cottonwood Lakes trailhead). I also walked my second Camino de Santiago in Spain, the Via de la Plata (625 miles).

John Muir Trail, California, 2016


Via de la Plata, Spain, 2016

Following those milestones, and over this last winter, I took some time off, rode my bicycles a bit, and worked on muscle tone at one of our local gyms. Oh, and I hoped the pain in my foot wasn’t plantar fasciitis. The downsides to all of this winter inactivity (relatively so, for me) were weight gain, anxiety, too much wine consumption (in my opinion), and restlessness. I needed to get my foot pain sorted out, and I needed something new to focus my competitive spirit on. I needed a new challenge. But first, the foot.

I developed a mastermind of advisors in the hope of solving the foot issue with their help. I talked with friends and acquaintances. I received all sorts of advice—all good, usually beneficial—but all attempts provided only temporary relief. Knowing I didn’t want to hear a confirmation of fact, a wise friend of mine was very tactful when he said, “Maybe just treat it like it’s plantar fasciitis, and see what happens.”

I tried every known stretch, exercise, anti-inflammatory, and home remedy. I tried ice, heat, and vibration, and I got really frustrated. Nothing seemed to help the pain in my heel for long. I would try something and rest for a while, and then I would try to walk a few miles or run a bit. But the next morning, the pain would be back just like the last time. I don’t like focusing on the bad things that come my way, but it’s super frustrating when you are accustomed to being very active and are sidelined.

The ever popular frozen water bottle.

The vibrating, heated Acumo Massage Ball.

The Strassburg Sock™.

So I gave up on self-help, fought my own resistances, and eventually sought professional advice. It was a last-ditch effort to solve this long-term issue. By the way, you wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve talked with who have suffered from this malady. So off I went to see the docs. I got x-rays and ended up receiving a dreaded steroid shot in my heel. Let me tell you, that bloody hurts! Fortunately, only for a short time.

So now the heel was on the road to recovery, and I was back to looking for that new challenge.

And then it happened; it found me. A few weeks back, I received an e-mail from the French organization that put on the stage race in the Sahara, which I ran back in 2014. The e-mail said that the organization would hold its first-ever stage race in Peru (in the Ica Region’s desert) this fall. And the introductory price for previous finishers of the race in Morocco was very attractive.

I just received word from the French: “We are pleased to confirm your registration for the MDS PERU.”


Here is an explanation about the race from the official website:

The MARATHON DES SABLES PERU will take place from 26 November to 6 December 2017. It will replicate the original race: approximately 250 km divided into 6 stages, to be completed at free pace in self-sufficiency conditions in a desert environment and with the support of a quasi-professional organising team.

The event will take place in the Ica desert, 300 km south of Lima. Endurance lovers competing in this first MARATHON DES SABLES will discover the most beautiful South American desert. They will move about in one of the world’s driest regions, with huge dunes and sandy plateaux perched between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes cordillera.

Of course, the organisers will export across the Atlantic the core values that have patiently laid the foundations of MARATHON DES SABLES: thirst for challenges and adventure; sharing with the largest number of people; safety of everyone; self-respect; and care for the environment. Organised with the full and active support of the Peruvian authorities, MDS PERU also aims to spotlight the beauty of this charming region.

Pictures from MDS Peru Facebook page

Oh sure, I’m aging (beats the alternative), but I’m not an old man. And why should that stop me anyway? Or anyone?