“Oh man, did I miss him puke?”


Biggest takeaway from this year’s event: all you have to do to get half of Rochester to write you poetry is to just schedule a beer mile. This is powerful information.

The 2018 iteration of the Memorial Mile took place at Black Creek Park, running around the pond on the southern end of the northern end of the park (so the middle end of the park?). It was a beautiful morning, if not winter-in-Rochester cold.

I want to thank everybody who came and participated, extending a special thank you to the people who helped out. Laura, Jon, Mel, and Corinne all helped out with timing, awards, and various other tasks, and without them, this event wouldn’t have been the same.

Okay, let’s get to the results. The course, as it was last year, was run on snowy, icy ground, devolving to slushy mud around the backstretch. It also measured long, like last year. Each lap was almost exactly one third of a mile, so runners ran three laps to a mile. This means that in the challenge mile, people only did three rounds of challenges, rather than the usual four.


Results of the open mile:

  1. Scotie Jacobs – 6:34
  2. Jamie Hobbs – 6:35
  3. Jason Vidmar – 7:33
  4. Matt Bertrand – 7:35
  5. Jon Griffiths – 8:03
  6. Mike Meynadasy – 8:37
  7. John Green – 8:41
  8. Abby McCarthy – 9:35

DNF – Chris O’Brien, Liam O’Brien, Riley O’Brien

DNS – Jeff Green, and like 50 other people


Results of the challenge mile:

  1. Scotie Jacobs – 8:40 – Beer*
  2. Jamie Hobbs – 9:09 – Beer
  3. Jeff Green – 9:47 – Beer
  4. Abby McCarthy – 10:13 – Beer Lite
  5. John Green – 10:58 – Jumbles
  6. Jason Vidmar – 11:00 – Beer/Rock Salt Carry/He also had a wheelbarrow?????????
  7. Mike Meynadasy – 12:59 – Beer
  8. Jon Griffiths – 13:52 – Beer/Phone Call

*It is important to note that, in addition to notching a double win, Scotie also was the only participant to drink a full four beers over the duration of the challenge mile


The price for race registration this year was a poem, and I received dozens of entries. This was an excellent extra dimension of participation in the event, and while I won’t include it all in this post (hopefully, I’ll put it all in a subsequent entry), one poem stood out clearly from the others, winning the award for Best Poem in a landslide victory. Set to the tune of “Ice Ice Baby”, this is “Ice Ice Valone”, by Chris O’Brien:


Yo, R-O-C, Let’s kick it!!!!
Ice Ice Baby, Ice Ice Baby
All right stop, Collaborate and listen
Valone is back with my brand new invention
Trails grab a hold of me tightly
run with my LonePeaks daily and nightly
(Will I ever stop?)
Hell no
Turn off the lights and I’ll glow
At RSG, sweep the course like a vandal
Light up the trails, I run the 12 hour candle.
GRASS, and sneakers go boom
fillin your brain like a Speedway restroom.
Deadly, when I take a dope selfie (write a dope memory?)
Anyone mess with my dress it’s a felony
Love it or leave it, You better gain way
better see a groundhog, 8 hours don’t play

If there is a ultra, Yo, I’m involved in it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it
(Check out the ROC while Eagan  )

[Ice Ice Baby Valone, likes Ice Ice Baby… Valone
Ice Ice Baby Valone, likes Ice Ice Baby… Valone
Ice Ice Baby Valone, likes Ice Ice Baby… Valone]
Now that the trails are jumping
With the race kicked in, the runners are runnin’
Quick to the aid, to the aid no faking
Better have Ice and a pound of bacon
Burning it, if you treat’it as simple
I go crazy if the aids not ample
got that, bring soup in my tempo.
I’m on a roll and it’s time to go solo
[ Rollin ] Muh-FA-MTL) …
ultrasignup now so my race can grow
The runners on standby, Waiting just to say Hi

[Did you stop?]  No — I just ran by
Kept on … running to the bag drop
I busted a left and I’m heading to the rest stop
My watch was dead
Yo — so I continued to run all DAY

Runners hot wearing shorts like bikinis
Not me suckas, hangin’ at my kneesies
Jealous ’cause my finish is fine
Stay all day,  screamin at the line

Hoodie, hangs on the wall
Lisa’s ill cuz it smells like a horse stall
TShirts hanged out so I can sell
Better buy nine, I’m broke as hell
Jammers, spend my money real fast
Eat pizza logs, then I get gas
Bumper to bumper the Speedway’s packed
Gotta use my points save on gas
(Lisa’s my Queen, know what I mean)
(She snatched me up, hot off the date scene

If there is a ultra, Yo, I’m involved in it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it
(Check out the ROC while Eagan ….)

[Ice Ice Baby Valone likes Ice Ice Baby Valone
Ice Ice Baby Valone likes Ice Ice Baby Valone]

Take heed, ’cause I’m a lyrical poet
Memoirs on Facebook case you didn’t know it
My town, the best trails around
(TrailsRoc app miles around)
(Vice Pres is gettin ill)
(Cuz the roc got vision n feel)
Non-profit and orange, This is a hell of a concept
We make it hype and you want to step
With this. Greenways all day,  
(No I’m not injured, just can’t see a trail blaze)
So flat — other runners say, “scram”
runnin’s my drug, I’ll see you at the Dam)
Keep my composure when it’s time to get GOOSED
Zimas the choice when I kick my juice.

If there is a ultra, Yo, I’m involved in it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it
(Check out the ROC while Eagan ….)

Ice Ice Baby Valone likes Ice Ice Baby Valone
Ice Ice Baby Valone likes Ice Ice Baby Valone

Yo man — Let’s get out of here! Word to your mother!
Ice Ice Baby Too cold, Ice Ice Baby Too cold Too cold
Ice Ice Baby Too cold Too cold, Ice Ice Baby Too cold Too cold


Being the audio wizard that he is, Chris didn’t just offer lyrics – this is a fully mixed audio track that exists in this world. I recommend you go to extreme lengths to acquire it. I’m not saying that you should steal his toucan shorts and hold them hostage, but I am saying he would probably give you access to this tune in exchange for their safe return.

Thanks as always – I like putting this event on, and the past few years have been very educational. I’ve got a lot of ideas for next year. Hope to see you there!

Be awesome.


“You think too much.”

I recently went on a really short, but profoundly symbolic run. A short ways north from my apartment on Turk Hill Road, there’s a four-way intersection. Turning either left or right brings you up a hill into two completely different environments. Even the names of these streets themselves belie their socioeconomic climate.

Turning left sets you on Beauclaire Lane, leading to an affluent neighborhood composed almost exclusively of large, broadly-spaced homes on cul de sacs. The entire area backs up to a vineyard, so all the streets are named for wines. Quintessential wealthy, comfortable living for those lucky enough to have it.

Turning right, you’ll find yourself on Steele Road. a winding, wooded path that soon opens up into farmland. Wide open space stretches in every direction, sparsely dotted with buildings that put function ahead of form. In the wintertime, it reminds me of one of my favorite musical lyrics: ‘the fields are bled of everything, it’s so beautiful, stark, and unkind’.

As I neared the intersection, I weighed my two options. To the left, I could tool around in the neighborhoods for a while, maybe catch some badass Christmas lights that were rumored to be in the area, and head back early. To the right, I would have a much longer run ahead of me, but I would certainly get my full workout in, and reap all the benefits thereof.

This juxtaposition of the two sides of the road hit me halfway up the hill on Beauclaire. I stopped there, panting, and suddenly began extrapolating inward at the speed of light.






Without thinking, I had chosen the easy way out. It wasn’t too surprising – I’ve been doing it a lot lately. I think that in the aftermath of a year of profound personal growth, I spent 2017 mostly checked out of the real world. Sociopathy? Coping mechanism? Who knows? And more importantly, who cares?

I often stress the importance of having fun in the same breath as I encourage pushing your limits. One of the greatest fallacies in my writing is that these two things are often associated. In fact, these two things are often exclusive to each other. Not always, but most of the time. How can you do both? And if you can’t do both, how do you balance them? How do you know whether to turn left or right?

I lost myself in thought, swirling deeper and deeper into paradox, semantics, and technicality. Then I remembered something super important: Turk Hill keeps going straight ahead. You don’t have to turn.

I worry so much about so many things. I like to tell myself they’re the important things, but at the end of the day, they’re really just expressions of self-doubt. Are my life goals good ones? Am I making mistakes? Is my blackened, rotting soul still securely trapped inside my shining, smiling prison, or is it starting to leak out? Should I have turned right instead of left?

Spending time trying to find the answers to these questions only rationalizes them, and strokes my own malignant ego. I don’t have to define myself as being on either side of these boundaries. I can just ride the line straight down the middle of Turk Hill Road, and simply live.

As I headed back down the road to my apartment, I found relief in the notion that I don’t have to live up to an archetypal image of myself. I don’t have to be good or bad, happy or sad, successful or unsuccessful. And I caught the faintest glimmer of pride in one of the few, fundamental truths I can hold on to. Under the dark night sky, I whispered to myself, “I’m Jeff Green.”

I mean, I would have yelled it, but I’m just SUPER self-conscious about raising my voice.

Be awesome.

“You alright there, sport?”

It’s been about a year since my big adventure in the Adirondacks. It got pretty bleak by the end, pretty dark, and though the experience ended on a high note, what followed was twelve of the most emotionally tumultuous months of my adult life.

It wasn’t all bad, but it did kind of reignite an internal conflict I thought I had won ten years ago. The creeping emotional darkness that plagued me through adolescence saw a crack in the door and stuck its foot right in. It plopped right down next to me in the passenger seat, and all of a sudden, the unwelcome hop-on became an incorrigible backseat driver.




I don’t want to belabor the issue here. I hate writing about this shit – I just haven’t been able to write about anything else for the past six months. I have pages and pages of half-written diary entries, hasty angry letters to my brain, and sappy confessionals like this. I’m done. I want to write about something else.

Way back when, I had some pretty serious self-hatred issues. Right now it’s mostly ‘what is even the point of me existing?’, but when I was younger it was more like ‘what is even the point of me existing for another minute’? Through a bunch of pain and suffering and one hell of a lucky break, I beat back those feelings and relegated them to some hidden space in my brain where I figured they would eventually starve and die.

Since coming back from the Adirondacks last year, though, things changed. I had to tell people about these feelings, and how I had been depressed as a kid. This is something I had never shared with anyone ever. Anyone. Ever. It didn’t make me feel better – I didn’t want people to know in the first place.






Talking about it, writing about it, acknowledging it – that gave it relevance and meaning. Weight. It’s invisible as long as I don’t look at it. Now that other people know, it’s like…it’s as if I wished it back into existence just by talking about it. Maybe it’s the healthier option down the line, but right now I’m not so sure.

I’m sitting in my apartment the Friday night before the Whiteface Skyraces, where the bulk of those endlessly patient people I call my friends are. An event that gives me the perfect excuse to escape to the mountains, to have some time away from life and enjoy myself. I’m gonna skip that though, doesn’t sound like much fun.


dep7  dep8dep9  dep10dep11


Instead, I’m going to hole up here and try to cut a swath through this heavy, scratchy sheet that’s weighing me down. People always say you should try to talk about this kind of stuff with people, and I am SUPER bad at that. No thanks. I am not a good talker. I’m going to monologue into the void of the internet instead and hope that makes me feel better.

And I’m also here because I can’t stand the thought of facing my friends right now. I feel like a chump and a failure, and the more I feel that way, the less I want to be around people I care about. The less I want to be around people I care about, the more I want to talk about it. And the more I want to talk about it, the more I feel like a chump and a failure. They’re my problems, I’ll handle them myself. I always have. Is it my brain or society that makes me think that way? Who cares?

Now, I should point something out really quick. Though I tackle these kinds of problems solo, I don’t do it alone. I always strive to be better than I am, and I’m extraordinarily lucky to have a lot of great mentors who lead by example. I strive to be Strat’s carefree attitude. I strive to be Jason’s bottomless font of positivity. I strive to be Welden’s unerring moral compass. Laura’s rock-solid composure. Pete’s easy laughter. Liz’ capacity for stepping outside her comfort zone. Mertsock’s kind patience. Mort’s stubborn determination. Huckle’s unswerving dedication to bettering himself.

Corinne’s brazen confidence.

Mel’s willingness to speak her mind.

Mom’s empathy.

Dad’s curiosity.

The list goes on. By being the best parts of all the people I know, I make myself a better person, a stronger person.


dep12  dep13dep14  dep15


Anyway, the point I’m trying to get at is that this is not as dangerous a situation as it used to be. When I was a kid, I felt like I had no one. No one who knew how I felt, no one who cared, no one who’d notice if I was gone. I had to face up to those demons all by myself. That is definitely not how I feel anymore, and that alone is a huge help.

Still, feeling like this sucks. Moods come and go – some days I feel completely empty, and can’t rationalize my existence. I feel like a pity case to my friends and family, a whiner who can’t just let shit go. A coward. It’s more than I can bear sometimes.
















There was another point in there that got totally blasted to the wayside. That little persona that’s been riding shotgun this whole time is part of who I am. We can’t really exist independent of each other. I could have written an entirely separate thing about a different me sitting in the passenger seat. Maybe I should, that sounds like it would be a lot more fun.

It can be tough to live with this snide, petty side of myself sometimes, but that’s really the only choice I have. All I can do is nurture the other facets of my personality to provide counterweight. It’s worked so far, anyway.

At the end of the day? I know it’ll get better. I can see cracks of sunlight through the walls of this shitty Jeff egg, and it won’t be long before I hatch into a beautiful butterfly/eagle hybrid. How that turned into a bird analogy I’ll never know. Bottom line: I’m good (as in ‘I’m okay’, not ‘I’m good at analogies’).

To you, I’ll say this: thanks for hearing me out through all of this ‘me me me’. Thanks for your patience. It means more to me than I could ever tell you. Someday I hope to repay the kindness you’ve shown me through the days, months, and years I’ve been lucky to know you. There’s no need to worry – if I need help, I’ll ask for it.

And – because this is something I would worry about – don’t take my shittiness personally. If I’m being grouchy or moody, it’s not a reflection of how I feel about you. Promise. I love you! Probably, anyway, I don’t know what kind of randos read my blog. Get hits in Turkey every once in awhile, don’t know what that’s about.

Now, yeesh, now that yucky serious stuff is out of the way, hopefully I can get back to writing some silly stories. I’ve got a bunch sitting up there in the old noggin, just waiting to be slapped on…the waffle iron…of this blog. Shit. You know what I mean.




Be awesome.

“What was the winning beer mile time?”


Well! Another successful mile in the books. Will have plenty to say about it in the coming days, but I thought I’d throw up the results in a timely manner. Though considering I didn’t post any results from last year, what’s the rush?

Before I get too deep into it, I want to say the biggest of thank yous to everyone who participated in the event, whether they were runners, volunteers, spectators, friends, family, or Gambit. Events like this are put on by people, for people, and seeing everyone work together to make this track meet come together is really touching.

Without further ado, the results of the open mile:

  1. Daven Oskvig – 6:24
  2. Jamie Hobbs – 6:32
  3. Jeff Green – 6:48
  4. Mike Welden – 6:53
  5. Jason Vidmar – 6:53
  6. Mike Mertsock – 7:05
  7. Mike Meynadasy – 7:42
  8. Laura Rekkerth – 7:44
  9. John Green – 8:05
  10. Sean Scarisbrick – 8:49
  11. Ben Metcalf – 9:20

If those numbers seem high to you, take into account the fact that the course was long, over frozen, rutted ground with multiple feet of elevation change. Not exactly a PR course. Add on to that below freezing temps, and you’ve got a competition that really gets my blood pumping. Lots of people gutting it out – gotta love that.

And now, the challenge mile results. All challenges are completed on a per lap basis (1 beer/lap, etc.). Here are the results:

  1. Kevin Sager – 11:04 – Beer
  2. Jamie Hobbs – 11:59 – Beer
  3. Sean Scarisbrick – 12:24 – Beer
  4. Daven Oskvig – 12:37 – Beer
  5. John Green – 12:52 – Limericks
  6. Mike Welden – 13:11 – Beer
  7. Jason Vidmar – 13:14 – Pushups/Beer/Growler carry
  8. Billy Frey – 13:26 – Beer
  9. Mike Meynadasy – 14:37 – Beer
  10. Jeff Green – 15:44 – Beer
  11. Griffin Lavine – 17:38 – Beer
  12. Sam Devine – 21:31 – Beer

Huge congratulations to our race winners, and to everyone else who participated. It was not an easy day, and the heart and courage shown by the athletes is truly inspiring.

To participate in the event, athletes needed to write a short memorial to 2016. Something that made the year memorable or significant. I’ve compiled them below. As you read through them, think of something that’s made 2016 memorable for you, and what you’ll do to make 2017 memorable as well. It’s going to be a good year, I think.

Dear Melanie,

You made sure that 2016 was memorable for me. For that I thank you.

Since before I was married (that is a long time ago), I have had a dream of sorts… that once I was old and stodgy, and that beyond expectation, a grown-up kid of mine would invite me on a vacation. I thought of it as a validation of achieving a kind of gold star in parent-to-grown-kid relations.

I kind of felt that I’d earned it when you and Jeff and I spent a few days in the Great Range. But that also didn’t really count as much in my mind for some reason – it was a mutual thing more than an invitation for a kid.

Then, in 2016, you invited me on… A ROAD TRIP across the US! OMG! It was a true post-college adventure, right down to every detail like depart in the late afternoon, drive all night, sleep in the car, eat nothing but Taco Bell burritos warmed on the dash in the sun, 3600 miles in 7 days kind of trip. And YOU invited ME!

Thanks for inviting me to share your celebratory adventure. Thanks for putting up with me through all those miles. For the better part of four of those 7 days we shared a phone booth size space and came out of it happy!

You made a dream of mine come true! Love, Dad

I’d like to thank the tenderhearted Billy Frey for a sensual night in the honeymoon hike at Mt. Marcy’s base

My memorial is to my faith in the American electorate. Maybe it was naive and misplaced, but it gave me comfort and made my world seem better. And now it is gone.

The old man said “Hello” as I stepped from my car at the CVS in Brighton. It was one of the few cool days in the summer of 2016 so weather was the subject of the start of our conversation. We agreed that something was “off” and it was going just the way the scientists had predicted.

I found that he was a Korean War Vet and after the service had enjoyed the life that the big yellow box offered. He considered himself lucky because in his view those days were gone. “I don’t think he’ll win, but I think this Trump might be on to something.” As I stumbled saying I’ve got to get going” in fear of what was coming. He started to outline with great empathy the desperation of the working class and his worry about the future.

He gave me some perspective on the year and a bit of hope. Donald Trump is a fraud, but the people who voted for him are not.

2016 was fine I guess. Obama crushed it and I graduated college! But what really got me through those long, lonely nights was the thought that on January 14, 2017, I would get to see the one and only Jeff Green!

Happy Beer Mile =)

During my running career, I’ve been influenced by all sorts of people, but two stand out most in my mind as shaping me as an athlete and, to some extent, as a person. Through 2016, Josh Rossi made a strong bid at being the third. He did something that people don’t often do these days – he kicked my ass and didn’t apologize. He challenged me to get better. And I did.


Either way, Rossi expanded my athletic career in a new dimension, and that certainly made the year very memorable. Thanks man.

some mething that made 2015 memorable: “so many adventures with friends. Those times spent just experiencing life, challenging ourselves and each other together. With no judgment, only acceptance.”

f. That sounds so embarrassing. Can’ it j anaontlos or something?

-anonymous **

I wish to memorialize the death of the US Political System as we once knew it.

  • No longer will Republicans just disagree with the Democratic President instead attempting to govern.
  • No longer will Democrats avoid paying attention to the needs of the gernal public.
  • No longer will investors enjoy the stability of a stalemated congress.

No folks, those days are gone. The benefits of not having to pay attention are gone. We citizens will now be required to actually pay attention to the forces that shape our world. It’s a new day.

I never get really sick. The sniffles, a bad cold, or a twenty four hour bug is about it.

Pretty good for a teacher who deals with 150 fetid, verminous, diseased little bastards every day.

And then I spent all of December with bronchitis, which just leveled me. Today is the 31st of December, and I just did my first run of the month — a perilously slow three miler on the snowy trails of Bond’s Lake. My body responded a few hours later with a crippling case of the shits, and shivering cold sweats, which sent me back to bed and a three hour nap, which I just woke up from and from where I write this missive.

But I’m gonna be OK. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

And that’s the key of my message. There is, thank God, light at the end of the tunnel.

I don’t know how I’d have handled the weeks of lethargy, the one and a half hour sessions of coughing just so I could go to sleep at night, the days at work where I minimised every movement to conserve the energy I didn’t have because I wasn’t eating, the endless hours on the couch when I got home watching those I love living, the feeling of living a sort of in-between half-life, the unsettling amphetamine-like rush of Dayquil and deadening soul-bunt of Nyquil.

It was bearable because I knew that I would, eventually, get better.

In the midst of it all, however, I began to think about those I know, and those I do not, some I’ve heard of and most I will not, who do not have that light at the end of the tunnel. Those real people with chronic conditions, or disease death sentences, for whom the only real release is the final one into what Shakespeare calls “The Undiscovered Country, from whose borne no traveler returns.”

They have, now, my more than academic love and respect. And my pity, though most never ask for nor desire it.

I don’t know how they do it. They are stronger than I am. If it is, perhaps, ‘only’ because they have to be, it doesn’t change my feelings for them. My hard-won understanding that suddenly does not seem so hard-won.

And that is my memorial to the December of 2016.

I am greatful for the buffalo bills. They did not shatter my fragile perspective of reality and make the playoffs.

To Jeff,

Thanks for the inspiration in attempting the unfathomable in 2016…and for always dreaming big.

Also…thanks for not leaving me to die on NYE MOUNTAIN. (That was cool of you.)

In memory of the times we’ve had.

The hours in the woods.

The laughs.

The silence.

Lifes hard.

You’ve made my life have best days.

Best memories.

The most love.

Maybe the only love Ive ever truly felt.

Thanks friends.

❤ Run fam ❤

Be awesome.

“Haha, let’s do that again!”

I had a plan. There’s always a plan. Then adventure happens. This is a brief (ha, sorry, no, it’s long as shit actually) collection of thoughts I had in the wake of my trip. Thanks for reading through all these posts. It means a lot to me to be able to share this experience with you. Digest what you like at your own rate, and feel free to offer your own thoughts. I’d love to hear them.

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Reflections


So what’d I take away from this whole thing?




I didn’t drink enough water. I didn’t eat enough food. Everyone knew that before I even started. Moving on.


When I started this hike, I had only climbed around half of the high peaks. I wasn’t familiar with the trails or the conditions on the peaks, and being unprepared cost me. I probably hiked over 20 extra miles just backtracking or taking wrong turns. That’s almost a whole day of hiking. That’s way, way too much.


Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I had set a time limit for myself on this hike. I wanted to finish in seven days, and I pushed myself too hard early on to stick to that time estimate. I love the idea of conquering the unknown, but trying to conquer the unknown on a deadline is dumb. It’s something Zapp Brannigan would do. I should have been more clear with myself which way I wanted to approach this adventure. Take my time and explore, or…buckle down and race, really.





One super awesome thing about the hike was that it gave me genuine feelings of joy, panic, fear, and giddy relief. Whether things were going wrong, right, or I was just being emotional, the raw honesty of the things I felt was refreshing. The night after I finished the hike, I walked out to the edge of a thirty-foot cliff, sticking my toes off the end, and looked down. The vertigo shook me, and I had a brief rush of adrenaline, but they weren’t as strong as the ones I had felt in the woods. You can’t create those feelings, they have to happen to you.


It’s taken me a long time to recover from my time in the mountains. Physically, I was fine. Aside from a lingering discomfort in my foot, I recovered very quickly. The biggest hit I took was a mental one. I’ve all but stopped running. I ran the relay to Boston, and have sprinkled a few other runs in here and there, but for the most part, I haven’t been able to get myself going. My goal of doing 4,000 miles this year is all but sunk, and who knows how Twisty Branch is going to go (I ate another DNF at mile 28).


Battling your inner demons is never fun, and can be pretty intense. The idea of facing down my worst fears and insecurities used to get my blood boiling, but not anymore. It’s not cool, or dramatic. You might win, but you don’t walk away a winner. It just sucks.


I was forced to come face to face with a young Jeff, who wrestled with some pretty brutal self-hatred, and vague threats of suicide. He got better, and became me, but I guess I didn’t expect those feelings to linger. I don’t like to think of them as part of who I am now. I like believing in the probably mythical me, just an absent-minded, adventurous screwball with a tirelessly positive attitude. There’s no room in there for shaky self-doubt or dissatisfaction. But…


I guess the reality is that we’re all human, and many of us have to deal with these things on an almost daily basis. Accepting them as part of who we are, good or bad, I think that’s the way to find contentment. Fighting so hard to be people we’re not can’t be good for us. What did Mertsock say to me? Hang on, let me see if I can find it.




Good one, Mertsock. I don’t have to act like that lonely kid from 2002, I don’t have to act like that arrogant prick from 2006, and I don’t have to act like the huge wuss I am today, but I do have to accept them as all being me. I can learn from the people I’ve been, and become the people I want to be. I don’t care what the story of my life reads like so far. I’m the author! I can write whatever I want moving forward. Who will I be next? Who cares?


I owe so much to my friends and family, who are endlessly, tirelessly supportive of my shenanigans. Jason lent me the precious DeLorme unit, and met me on the trail, sacrificing his own grand plans to hike with me. Laura did the same thing, hiking with me despite a neuroma flare-up in her foot and a race a few days later. Everybody who sent their well-wishes through the airwaves to reach me in the depths of the mountains kept my spirits lifted. Jan and Angela shared their experiences with me, and gave me valuable advice that I only heeded about half the time, to my profound detriment.


So what now? I’ve got Twisted Branch and Ossian coming up, but after those, I think I’m going to stop racing for a while. I’ll turn my focus to building a solid foundation for 2017, and planning trips and adventures for that year. I’ll still be doing fun things this year, but probably no more big stuff for a while. I’d like to do the beer mile again in January, and the Wegman’s (ultra?)marathon. I don’t know, I’m spitballing at this point. Moving on.


I’m very happy with my life right now. In fact, I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. That’s thanks to you, probably. Thank you. I appreciate your friendship, your patience, and your genuine, honest effort in life.


I’ll try this hike again, without a doubt. Next time through, I’ll be able to finish. I’m sure of it. I’ll be stronger, faster, better prepared. Many of my friends want to give it a shot as well – perhaps enough to race a bunch of two-person teams. And after we finish, I’m sure it won’t be long before we have some other crazy scheme cooked up to top that one, because that’s just what we do. Maybe Jason had it right all along. Who needs a reason? Just get out there. Just do it. Just…


Be awesome.


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“Why am I doing this?”

I recently attempted to thru-hike all 46 of the high peaks in the Adirondacks, unsupported and entirely on foot. This was far and away the most difficult and dangerous thing I’ve ever attempted. The trails through the high peaks region are some of the wildest and most rugged in the country, and certainly the toughest trails I’ve ever been on.


I had a plan. There’s always a plan. Then adventure happens. Although this is day five, it reads more like Act IV. It might get tough to read. I try to keep things light when I’m writing, since most of the shit I do makes me want to douse myself in gasoline and leap into a volcano, but in the interest of sharing my experience with you, we might have to visit some dark places. I’m not trying to scare you – just offering fair warning.


Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Reflections

I didn’t dream, and woke early in the morning. I snuck out of the campsite, saying goodbye to Laura, who was awake (obviously), and Jason, who had six shiny new staples holding his head together. I strode back towards the Loj, feeling confident. I had relatively easy miles ahead of me, a full night’s sleep, and the giddy rush from seeing my friends. I could do this.


The plan was to hike back to my stuff over Phelps and Table Top, then hit the peaks on the south side of Marcy. I would meet Jason and Laura on the Great Range somewhere, and we would figure out where to go from there. I was pretty sure I could make it over the Great Range that day. Hiking it with a full pack would be tough, but I could handle it.


The Loj flew by, and so did Marcy Dam. Before I knew it, I was on Phelps, climbing the steep, short trail to the summit. I didn’t linger at the top, but immediately began descending. I had miles to go, after all. I was feeling pretty good. My body was still aching and sore, but I had acclimated to it, and it didn’t hinder my hiking at all. I returned to the trail and was off like a shot for Table Top. This was just what I needed! A little momentum, and I could do anything.


As the miles wore on, I started to lose some steam. My calorie-deficient brain began to despair. The numbers didn’t add up, my pace wasn’t fast enough, I wasn’t making good progress. I tried to tell myself these things didn’t matter, but I didn’t want to listen. I just wanted to be miserable, to justify my despondency. It was right around this time that I hit Indian Falls. When I heard the crashing water and saw the sign, I groaned. I should have seen the turn off for Table Top by now. I turned around and headed back down the trail, searching for the trailhead.


I walked about a mile down the trail before getting frustrated. I must have missed it again! There was no way it was back this far. Why couldn’t I just navigate these trails properly? Why did I have to go through the song and dance of getting lost or taking a wrong turn for every single fucking peak that I climbed? There was no way this was going to work! I wasn’t going to finish if I couldn’t even stay on the route!


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I stormed back up the trail towards Indian Falls, checking every miniscule opening in the vegetation to see if it was a trail. Finally, finally, I found the turn for Table Top, labeled plain as day with a large wooden sign that said ‘Trail to Table Top Mt.’ I didn’t laugh it off, I didn’t smile in relief. I just started running up the mountain. I couldn’t think, I was so angry. I ripped through thick, wet spiderwebs as I climbed, covering myself in clingy, sticky thread. I didn’t take the time to brush them off, I just kept going. I couldn’t tell if the heat I was feeling was from the sun or my own desperate rage.


I reached the top of the mountain, slapped the summit sign, and was on my way back down faster than you could say ‘But Jeff, I thought you LIKED the mountains!’ I flew back down to the main trail, biffing it more than once along the way. I think that was one of the very few times I’ve known what “reckless abandon” feels like. When I reached my stuff, I threw it on, and got ready to tear off down the trail.


Instead I sat down and burst into tears. Again. I buried my head in my hands and sobbed. I have no idea how long I sat there, but it was long enough to get bitten on my upper thighs a few dozen times. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and my hands shook. I was thirsty, but I was out of water. I was hungry, but I was out of food. I was so tired. Of what? Why am I doing this?


I was pretty sure that I was done with the thru-hike at this point, but I decided to hold off on that decision until I reached my things at the Uphill lean-to. Regardless of what I did afterwards, I had to at least get there. I nodded, sniffling miserably to myself in agreement.


My watch died.


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I’m not sure if that’s significant, but the remaining three miles I had to hike to get back to my things were some of the strangest, most profound miles I’ve traveled in my entire life. Seems fitting that they were in a GPS dead zone, as if they were off the record. No one would be watching, no one would know. I got up and started walking.


I stumbled down the trail to Lake Arnold and thought. I thought about my life. Where I was, what I was doing, who I was doing it with. I realized that I was almost 25, nearly at the quarter-century mark. A turning point? Would this effort close the book on one chapter of my life and start another? Was I happy with the way it was written? What kind of story would it be?




I wasn’t really sure. I felt as if I had been running my whole life. I mean, running running, obviously, but also running away from stuff, or towards things that always seemed just out of reach. I couldn’t remember at any point being completely content or satisfied with my life.


Then I got really fucking mad. It sure must be nice to have the luxury to be dissatisfied with my life, which had allowed me everything I needed and most of what I wanted. What a disgustingly charmed life I’ve led! A life that lets me leave everything behind and complain about a walk in the woods. I’m a joke, a hack. I didn’t know what hard was. Hard is not knowing when you’re going to eat next. Hard is not knowing if you’re going to live through the next sunrise. Hard is doing everything, anything, to keep the people that you love alive. That’s hard. This was masturbation.


And I was quitting. Couldn’t even make it to the climax. I gritted my teeth. I could feel my face getting hot, and tears welled up in my eyes. I shook my head. Crying again! Come on! Just keep it together for twenty minutes, you asshole! I gave myself a little nudge in the jaw to snap myself out of it. Then I jabbed myself again, a little harder. Then I pulled my arm back and threw the hardest punch I’ve ever thrown in my entire life.


My head snapped back, my neck cracked, and I wobbled and collapsed. I lay there on the trail, head craned against a boulder, and felt all of the anger sheepishly seep out of my system. I stared blankly at the trees in front of me. Everything was awkwardly still and silent. It felt like time had completely stopped.


Why am I doing this?


I hate myself.


My 5:03 mile. My 3:07 marathon. Finishing Pike’s Peak. My DNF at Twisted Branch. My first 100 mile week. Running from Buffalo to Rochester. All phenomenal achievements. None of it had been good enough. Nothing was ever good enough. I’ve been able to impress and inspire others, but I’ve never once felt satisfied with myself.


Is this the way it goes? I thought. Is this just the way it has to be for me to keep chasing goals? Always hungry, never satiated? Or am I really pushing myself to the brink just chasing self-approval? I feel like it shouldn’t be that hard to get. When will I be good enough? When will I finally be happy with what I’ve done? When I’m hurting so much I can’t continue? When I can’t move? When I’m crippled? Maimed? Dead?


I shifted slowly. My body felt like it was a thousand years old. I reluctantly pulled myself to my feet and started hiking again.


Would this be good enough?

One foot in front of the other. Control your breathing.

If I finish this hike, maybe that’ll be good enough.

Correct your form. Pick up your feet.

No. I can do better, I know I can do better.

Balance your pack. Plan your line.

Or maybe I’ll just throw myself off the top of Marcy.




I stopped dead in my tracks. It had been a long time since I thought anything like that with any ounce of sincerity. Not since I was a kid. That was the last straw. I knew how deep that hole was, and I had no desire to slide back into it. The thru-hike was over.




I was a little relieved. It didn’t wash over me, and I didn’t feel like a weight had been lifted, but it was there. I was mostly just tired, cranky, and sore. I was still reeling from Durdening myself, and disappointed that I wouldn’t be finishing the hike. I felt guilty for hijacking my friends’ plans. I felt like a tool for making such a big deal out of this endeavor. I was in a pretty foul mood.


So when I heard bright, cheerful whistling behind me, I stopped. I didn’t want to be near anyone right now. I’d just sit down and let them pass me. After a couple minutes, a young woman popped out of the trees. She started when she saw me, and I realize now that I probably looked like a vulture suffering from indigestion staring up the trail, as if I had been expecting her.


She smiled, and greeted me. She took off her pack (What are you doing) and asked me how I was doing (God dammit). I said I was alright (I want to die), and asked her what she was up to (Wait no, shit). She said she was going to the Feldspar lean-to (Well you probably oughta get going then), then heading up to Cliff or Redfield (Cool, well it was nice to meet you bye). I said that sounded like fun (Or something). She nodded. We sat in silence for a couple seconds. I waited for her to leave.


She sat down across from me. When she did, I stood up way too quickly, stuttered a stiff farewell, and practically ran off down the trail. Looking back on it, it was hilarious, but probably pretty rude. I just wanted to be alone. It had only been a few minutes, though, when I heard her whistling behind me again. I redoubled my efforts. She was so fast! I decided to try letting her pass me again. As she passed, she smiled and again asked how I was doing. I twisted my face into what was hopefully a smile and made sounds in her direction.


Every so often, I would hear her up ahead, talking in a soft voice to herself and the animals on the trail. She stopped once to show me a toad that was hopping around on the rocks. Since I was still being shitty, I mentally rolled my eyes. It was the fiftieth toad I had seen over the past few days. She was delighted, though, and I couldn’t help but grin.


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A little while later, I arrived at the sunken boards I had hiked with Pete, Liz, and Danielle a month earlier. The young woman was there, and asked if this was really the way. I chuckled and nodded a confirmation. She scrunched her face up, then decided to take her boots off before heading across. She started singing softly to herself as she crossed the boards in her bare feet.


All of a sudden I realized I was in a good mood again. The air of playful wonder that this girl was giving off was infectious. This stuff was supposed to be fun, after all. I laughed and congratulated her when we had both made it across. I stood by awkwardly as she pulled her boots on. It wasn’t until she motioned me forward that I realized I was waiting for her, as if we had been hiking together all along. I blinked, said farewell, and headed back to the lean-to. As I folded back into the trees, I heard her whistling, bright and clear in the sunny afternoon.


When I finally got back to the lean-to, I partied hard. I drank, ate, and passed out for almost an hour. When I woke up, I thought about what to do. I was ready to be done. It would be a six mile hike out through Avalanche Pass. Laura and Jason had gotten in touch as well, and said they would try to catch me on Marcy or the Great Range somewhere. I sent them three messages as I whiffled back and forth between meeting them and wimping out, but in the end, I decided to try and meet them at the top of Marcy.


I pulled on the big pack, bid a sarcastic farewell to Cliff and Redfield, which I would have to come back and bag at some point, and headed up the Opalescent to the backside of Marcy. As I climbed, the air cooled, and by the time I reached Lake Tear, it was almost refreshing. Before long, I was at the base of the final Marcy climb. The mountain towered above me.


Why am I doing this?


I looked up at the steep rock face. My friends were probably up there somewhere. Large cairns dotted the mountainside, giving form to the trail ahead. They had been built by people who loved the mountains. People like me. I could see other hikers looking down at me from the peak. They looked like ants. It was a long ways to climb. Grinning, I tightened my pack and started hiking with everything I had left.




Yeah, I know, I know, that’s obviously not the end of the story, but come on. How much more of my writing can you even read, anyway? I’ll give you the abridged version: I met Laura and Jason at the top of Marcy. We stayed on the trail that night, and hiked out in the morning. I spent the rest of my week in the company of some of the greatest people I’ve ever known, capping it off with the Whiteface Sky Races. We ate, drank, and were merry. I still love the mountains, and I still love my friends. Everyone lived happily ever after.



“Wow I am so glad to see you guys!”

I recently attempted to thru-hike all 46 of the high peaks in the Adirondacks, unsupported and entirely on foot. This was far and away the most difficult and dangerous thing I’ve ever attempted. The trails through the high peaks region are some of the wildest and most rugged in the country, and certainly the toughest trails I’ve ever been on.


I had a plan. There’s always a plan. Then adventure happens. Things are getting rough at this point, but don’t count me out yet! Failing now wouldn’t be nearly spectacular enough.

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Reflections

I woke up relatively late, sometime around seven. The sun was shining brightly, and the first thought in my head was how much daylight I had wasted already. I got moving quickly, and was on the trail before long. I was going to move camp that morning to the base of Cliff and Redfield to prepare for the following day. The plan then was to hike to the Loj over Colden, Tabletop, and Phelps. I had been in touch with Laura and Jason, and they said they would try to meet me at the Loj somewhere.


As I sat and filled my water in the Opalescent, I realized that the song that had been stuck in my head for the past three days had disappeared. I raised my arms to the sky in mute exultation. Not that Kickapoo is a bad song, but when you’re trying to enjoy a quiet walk in the woods and a young Jack Black is screaming in your head, ‘GOTTA SUCK A CHODE IN THE PARTY ZONE’, it can get a little distracting.


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The move went relatively quickly, and I was headed up the backside of Colden before long. I had a lot of deja vu the day before, hiking familiar trails and passing the usual spots, but today the feeling was even more profound. I had only hiked this trail once before, years ago with a friend of mine from high school. It was the last morning of a multi-day trip, and we were trying to hike out in time to get a McGriddle from the D’s. The peak proved to be far more difficult than either of us expected, however, and we missed the breakfast menu by hours.


Now, years later, I could still hear and see Luis talking to me, hiking up the trail, clambering over rocks. Those memories kept me company on the way up to the peak, and faded as I reached the peak. Last time I stood on top of Colden, it was a foggy, dreary morning. Today it was totally clear, and I could see the MacIntyre range stretched out in front of me. Being able to see every step of the mileage I had traversed the day before was motivating, and I swelled with pride as I descended down the other side of the mountain.


I hiked for a couple miles before realizing I had missed the turn for the other two peaks on my way to the Loj. At this point, I couldn’t be shocked, surprised, or frustrated. I mean, of course I was going to miss the turn. That’s what I should have expected in the first place. I just shook my head and continued on to the Loj. Worst case scenario, I would hit the peaks on the way back.


I reached the Loj late in the afternoon. As I was walking over to the spigot to refill my water, I heard something. Chatter. Familiar chatter. Loud, raucous laughter. That was Strat. Had to be. I took a couple hop-skip steps around the corner and found Josh and Jason at the spigot filling water bottles.


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Euphoria. Joy. Relief.


I hugged them and yelled a lot about how glad I was to see them. We laughed and talked all the way to Jason’s car, where Laura was also getting ready for a day on the trail. I sat and had lunch while the others packed and prepared. I was so happy just to be around people that I loved. They say home is where the heart is, and I think they are totally right. Sitting in that dusty parking lot with my friends. Laura fussing with her pack. Jason converting his zipper pants into shorts. Strat bouncing around despite a bum foot. I was at home.


After a little bit, Laura, Jason, and I said our farewells to Josh and headed out to Street and Nye. We were ahead of schedule by my estimation, so I was feeling pretty good about the day. I’d knock these peaks out relatively quickly, then be back at my camp before it got too dark. The miles passed by easily. The three of us had plenty to talk about.


As we hiked, Jason and I discussed the question I had been asking myself over the past few days. Why do we do this? What drives us to push ourselves further and harder than we need to? We bounced some ideas back and forth, but nothing really struck me as a good solution. Jason postulated that there was no ‘why’ at all – that we only do these things because we do them. That’s how I understood what he said, at any rate. That was pretty interesting to me. It would definitely explain why I couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer for that question.


An hour of hiking had passed when we reached a sign that would bring us to Rocky Falls. That would- wait. We weren’t supposed to be going by Rocky Falls. Oh…oh no. A quick look at the map and trail guide confirmed it: we had taken a wrong turn and hiked two miles out of our way. Nothing to do but head back. I was disappointed, but I was starting to not feel the sting of these navigational miscues. You can only get so frustrated so many times before your brain stops giving a shit. I was nervous for Laura and Jason, however. It was bad enough that they had given up their hiking plans to meet me, and now taking a devastating wrong turn on top of that? I suddenly felt awful for dragging them out there with me.




They took the whole thing in stride, which was really fantastic of them. We made our way back to the correct trail and made our way over to Street and Nye. The trail was not quite as easy as I remembered, but it was nowhere near as bad as some of the others. Relatively free of rocks, and only climbing at a moderate grade, the trail quickly brought us to the split. The flies had come out to feast, so we didn’t waste a lot of time on top. We were up and down Street before too long, and then we went after Nye.


As we approached the summit of Nye, Jason called up to me and Laura, saying he had smacked his head and was bleeding. Upon investigating the wound, we found that he hadn’t just hit his head, he had ripped it wide open! Laura was concerned, I was unimpressed. I think my fatigue kept me from fully appreciating the gravity of Jason’s wound, because it was bleeding profusely, and Jason seemed like he had been concussed.




We made our way urgently down from Street and Nye. It was starting to get late again, due to our wrong turn earlier in the day, and I was dreading the idea of doing two more peaks that evening. To be honest, I was fed up of hiking in the dark. Hiking through the night a couple days earlier had offset my sleep schedule with daylight hours, and I hadn’t corrected it yet.


Laura and Jason encouraged me to stay at the Loj that night and get an early start the next morning. I could reset my daylight schedule and get some much-needed rest. I wrestled with this a lot more than I should have. It made perfect sense in the context of my physical, mental, and emotional well-being, but…I would fall further behind. It struck me what a stupid fucking internal struggle this was. One one hand, I could make a good decision for my health and the perpetuity of this adventure, but on the OTHER hand, I could continue throwing myself at the mountains like a maniac in pursuit of an impossible goal, expecting them to move for me. Why am I doing this?


I agreed to stay. I was more tired than I had ever been in my life, and I couldn’t stop crying. I had wept more in these four days than I had in the past year, and not for lack of weeping. I just realized I’m a huge crybaby. Damn.


Anyway, this would be good for me. Reset, get moving at a reasonable hour, and catch back up. That made sense. When we got back to the Loj, Jason said he would drive over to Josh’s campsite at South Meadow to start getting things set up. Still wanting to hike the whole way on foot, I walked over with Laura.


We had a really nice walk into the setting sun. Laura and I chatted the whole way, with me mostly dominating the conversation with complaints and rants about the way the hike had gone and how I was feeling. She was patient with me, and by the time we made it to Strat’s campsite, I was feeling much, much better. Jason had set up his tent and sleeping bag, and offered it to me. He wouldn’t need them, he said, because he was going to urgent care(!!!) to get his wound checked out. Wide-eyed, I stammered a thanks.


I laid down to sleep was out in a matter of minutes.