The St Valentine’s Day FatAssacre


Feb. 14, 2009

I’d been feeling some kind of sick coming on in the days preceding
the Charleston run. I felt a little better the morning of the run
and thought I’d successfully fought the thing off. However, I don’t
know if I sort of nuked my defense system with the hour and a half
of elevated pulse or if the bug had just finally decided it
was ready to get me, but it got me. By the following day I had the
sore throat, runny nose, generally feeling like crap thing that I’d
been able to avoid the entire winter. I knew it was too good to be
true when everybody at work and my family had endured a multitude of
colds and some version of the flu. A bunch of people at work had
colds they’d been dragging around with them for like 3 or 4 weeks.
Monday and Tuesday were the typical feeling like shit days. I did
get out for about a half hour run on Tuesday morning. My hope was
that a little exercise would sort of boost my immune system and my
adrenaline a little bit and kind of clean the bug from my system.
The Sunday it got me good I’d also stopped by the store and picked
up a bottle of Vitamin C and a bottle of Zinc as well. I’d been
taking them religiously and by Wednesday the crappy feeling was gone
and I was just left with the head congestion. Went for another
little run on Thursday, generally feeling better with each passing
day. By Saturday morning I was feeling pretty good. The nose was
still running but I’d at least been able to get a little sleep the
night before. In the middle of the week I’d been awaken several
times choking on my own snot and was a feeling a little sleep
deprived even though I knew I was getting better.
So off I went to Kennekuk Cove where the 2009 FatAss was being held.
Each loop of the lake trail is 7.1 miles. 1 loop earns a “Small
Ass”, 2 a “Medium Ass”, 3 a “Large Ass” and 4 loops garners you the
“Fat Ass”. Several people had made 4 loops of the lake that day
earning themselves a FatAss. There are no real rewards for this.
It’s just a club run and afterwards they have a party and carry on
and it’s just sort of a way for the trail runners to break up their
winter with something fun. In fact, if you don’t feel like running,
you can just show up for the party. It’s really all about the beer.
Each lap is supposed to be 7.1 miles. Last year I’d made one circuit
of the Lake Mingo trail after a 7 or 8 inch snowfall the night
before and earned myself a “Small Ass”. I found it pretty difficult
and wasn’t sure it was anything I needed to do again.
But a year went by and the memory of the previous year’s horror had
waned and here I was again. I’d secretly hoped I’d be able to make
it around twice this year and upgrade my ass. Since I’d been feeling
kind of poorly I’d resolved to myself during the week to just make
it around 1 lap, collect my commemorative sweatshirt, have a couple
of beers and live to run another day. That was my intention, but the
road to hell is paved with good intentions and sometimes I’m the guy
 driving the asphalt truck.

I got there a little later than most. I think you could get out on
the trails as early as 7. They wanted everybody done by 2pm so they
could have a drawing for some obnoxious door prizes and commence
with the real partying. I arrived at 10:30 and while I wasn’t the
last, I was damn close. As I entered the house hosting this shindig,
there was a table laid out with signup sheets. One for every size
ass. What they wanted you to do was sign up for the ass you were
going to attempt and then sign back in when you were done. I think
mostly they wanted to make sure everybody made it back in. There’s
no shortcut back from the trail since it goes around the lake and no
vehicle could come out and rescue you, so if you were still out
there and hurt, they needed to know of it while there was still
enough light to do something about it. So as I went to sign up for
the “Small”, I casually went to the “Medium” sheet and signed up.
For this I have no explanation. You’ve heard of someone’s eyes being
bigger than their stomach when it comes to a plate of food? Well,
this was surely going to be a case of my pants being much bigger
than my ass. I smiled and greeted the club president and then headed
back out the door to what lay ahead.
I strapped on my hydropack full of Gatorade and made my way to the
trail entrance. A couple of young, probably high school age boys
were sitting on a guardrail gathering their wits. They were looking
pretty damp and sloppy. I asked them if it was a little wet out
there. Without looking at each other and almost in unison they sang
back: “It’s muddy!!!”
After the snow had melted the weekend before, we’d had a couple of
days of pretty good rains. A light snow ealier that morning had sort
iced our cake. The temperature was just around freezing. I’d hoped
it would be in the low 20s so the terrain would have solidified
somehwat. Didn’t happen. What we were faced with was a about a third
of the course was covered in damp soft grass, another third bare but
passable dirt and rocks and the final third could best be described
as an absolute hog waller. Early on I was able to pick my way around
some of the soupier spots and remained relatively dry. Eventually I
got into some real slop which threatened to pull my shoes off. I
mean it was like a brown version of Theodor Geisel’s “Oobleck”. And
then water well over my ankles. I’d just about get enough water
stomped out of my shoes so that I wasn’t just swimming in them, and
then I’d be in over my ankles again. Thank god I didn’t wear the
shoe condoms or there’d have been nowhere for the water to escape
to. As the first loop neared it end, my pants were soaked and
muddied to the knees, my nose was running like Niagara Falls and I
was tired and generally uncomfortable. I’d come to grips with the
fact I was just going to head back in and accept another year with a
“small ass”. The last 500 yards of the to the finish were the best
surface of the course. It was along a grassy road that for a change
wasn’t splooshy. My mind wandered back to the year before and how
utterly exhausted I’d been just to get around once in the snow. I
compared it to how I felt now as approached the end. No comparison,
I was in much better shape this year. I was just being a pussy. The
first loop ended, I continued on.

I figured, just go get one more
mile and if it feels like too much I can always turn back. After the
first came the second and then the 3rd followed. Once I reached the
halfway point it was closer to continue forward than turn around.
The middle of the course was just as boggy and wet as the first
time. But now I knew if I got past the crap, the last little bit
would be smooth sailing. I did have to stop at one point and retie
my laces. All the water had stretched the strings and when I’d go in
over my ankle, my shoes were filling up with water and debris. I
kept my eyes forward and plugged along finishing the 2 loops in just
about 3 hours on the money. Slower than mud but much of the going
had been horrendous. The picture of the shoes and that little
YouTube vid I put in at the end of the entry a couple weeks back
were taken and done about 4 hours previous to the ‘running of the
butts’. What you see there are a fairly new pair of shoes with about
100 miles on them. This picture was taken later that afternoon, 14.2
miles later. The shoes will recover, those socks will never be the
same. My pants looked just about the same up to the knees.


 I am the Running Man, and this year, I have a “medium ass”.


  1. Congrats Medium Ass. Seems like everyone I read is sick right now. Sorry it was such a rough going. I did a short one mile walk on the Erie canal yesterday and it was just about as you described. Muddy/icy/snowy/puddles of mucky, gooey stuff. I was wearing boots, but they looked about like your running shoes, plus my socks were filthy and I had mud splatters up my pant legs to the knees and I was only walking. Hope you’re feeling better. Did your shoes and socks take a bath when they got home?

    • The shoes took a bath. The socks were euthanized. Does the Erie Canal still function as a canal or has it mostly become sort or a place to walk or ride bikes along?

      • There are still a few old locks built along the canal in the area I live, but its basically just trails for walking, running, skiing and snowmobiling. They plow it in the winter, so I go walking if its not too cold. In the summer I see people fishing and kayaking. Its only a mile from my house.

  2. For some reason when I initially read “Small Ass” I saw “Smart Ass” and I thought, yeah what’s new about that? Then I re-read and I’m surprised to say I’ve been reading you for at least a year possibly more since I do remember last year’s ass.

    Keep on plugging away, you’re sure to have a fat ass sooner or later. And I can’t believe those are the same shoes. Wow.

    Congrats — keep on truckin’. And talk about sliding in a post in February by the skin of your teeth. Or by the lard of your ass?

    • I thank you and my ass thanks you.

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