. . . I guess I might as well try and run the Mason-Dixon Trail again. My first attempt back in May resulted in me quitting after 99 miles. Even though I wasn’t able to finish what I started, I had a blast out on the trail and was completely satisfied with my effort. The failure hasn’t been gnawing at me or anything. I have been thinking that if I got a Goldilocks weather window (i.e. not too hot and not too cold) during a down time in my race calendar, that I would give it another shot. Well, the weather next weekend looks good (60-70 degrees with a chance for rain) and I’m still 2 months out from my next 100 miler.

So why not now?

Whenever I’ve DNFed races before, I’ve created rules that will help me avoid similar failures in the future. Rule #1 is not to decide to quit between aid stations. Once you make that decision, there’s no going back even though the next aid station can likely fix or mitigate whatever your issue is. My second rule is never to think past the next aid station. There will be times where your brain will tell you 40 miles is impossible and you should shut it down. But 5 miles to the next aid station is always doable.

But I haven’t been able to come up with a rule for my MDT DNF. I’ve given a lot of thought to what could have jacked up my ankle, but there’s no smoking gun as to what the actual cause was. I was slowly running downhill on a road when it happened. I didn’t step on anything. Didn’t fall. Wasn’t hit by a car. It’s possible a gremlin ran up, whacked it with a hammer, and disappeared before I spotted him. Best I can do is file it in the category of [expletive] happens and move on.

One of the exciting things about trying to run twice the distance than you’ve covered previously is the unknown. In May, I thought my biggest unknown was how much sleep I was going to need after the first night. This was followed by how much my pace was going to drop off in the second half and how many times I was going to get lost. Being forced to stop because of injury wasn’t even under consideration as it’s never happened in about 50 ultra distance runs that I’ve done so far.

So Friday morning, I’ll tap the tree stump at the western terminus and start a journey into the unknown. Again.