Thursday, May 3, 2012


I’ve often told my children that a nickname is something that is usually bestowed upon you; sometimes for very disconcerting reasons. I’ve told them is very difficult to fight off a nickname, so the best thing to do is to embrace it. Although I consider my nickname to be “Jbone,” another nickname has surfaced and is gaining even more popularity, especially among the running community.

It started on April 3, 2010, which was the day I ran my first (and only) Ultra marathon (read my post “Ultra Marathon, Ultra Disaster”). Because of the dehydration I suffered during the race, I crossed the finish line with my shirt covered in salt. Thanks to Elaine and Pam, “Mr. Salty” was officially conceived.

Although this salt episode was an isolated incident, the nickname has grown in popularity to the point of my friend Jen calling me “Salty,” her husband Dan creating lyrics for me (“I’m Salty and I Know It”), as well as the entire Turtle Running Club of Ocala affectionately referring to me as “Mr. Salty.” I have really learned to embrace the nickname, and try to use it as much as possible. My usual 13.1 mile run on Saturday mornings is now officially known as the “Mr. Salty Half Marathon.”

It was time to get my spring fix of Gators football by going up to Gainesville to watch the Orange & Blue Debut. This is the spring practice game the University of Florida plays where the first team offense goes against the first team defense. The game takes place in the Swamp and is open to the public. Most major universities put on an event like this, which hopefully fills you with optimism for the upcoming college football season. Jen and her husband Dan graciously offered to let us stay with them, and we planned to do a run on Sunday morning with Pam, Elaine and any of the other Turtles that would be willing to come out. This would not be any ordinary run; this would be the inaugural “Ocala Mr. Salty Invitational.”

Glenda, Rachel and I drove up to Gainesville ├╝ber early Saturday morning. The game was scheduled for 1 pm, but Friday night was the first night of Passover, and you know how that goes. We got to Gainesville around 9:30 am, did some shopping, and met up with Lindsey before going into the stadium. Our close friends Paula and Bill always get us tickets in the Champions Club, which means food and air conditioning. The game itself was mildly entertaining, but it’s the tradition and the company that makes it exciting.

After the game was over (an even more shopping), we said our goodbyes to Lindsey and made our way down south to Jen’s house (which is about an hour away from Gainesville). We decided to have dinner at The Villages, since Glenda had never been there before. Pam and her husband Joe would join us, but Elaine and her husband Joe could not make it. We had dinner at Lighthouse Point Bar & Grille, walked around for a bit, and then drove back to Jen & Dan’s house. We made the executive decision to start our run at 6 am instead of 5 am, based on the amount of alcohol consumed at dinner that evening. Pam had earlier suggested that we run in her development, since Elaine lived there as well. Pam kind of lives out in the boondocks, but I was just happy to be running with my friends, and was looking forward to the new scenery.

Since Jen lives almost 30 minutes from Pam’s house, we left around 5:30 am. It was way cooler than I expected, with the temperature around 60 degrees. In true tradition, I was not prepared for the colder weather, and I was underdressed compared to everyone else. Besides Jen, Pam and Elaine, Joe (Elaine’s husband) and their friend Danielle joined us for the inaugural “Ocala Mr. Salty Invitational.” As chilly as it might have been, I was not cold at all, and was really pumped to run with my friends. As is always the case when we all run together, our pace is typically very slow. This is due in part to excessive talking, laughing and urinating. We took a very extensive guided tour of the neighborhood, complete with commentary from Elaine and Pam. Danielle left us at the four mile mark, and Jen took a different route at that point as well (she wasn’t sure if she wanted to run the full 12 miles as planned). After eight miles, we decided to cut the run down to ten miles, since we all agreed that it felt as if we were running all morning long.

Jen met us back at Pam’s house, where Joe (Pam’s husband) gave me a crash course on cleaning my Keurig coffee maker. We then headed back down to Jen’s house where we met up with Glenda and Rachel. After a quick breakfast and shower, we made our way back home to South Florida.

This may have been the first of the "Mr. Salty Invitational" runs, but I’m certain it won’t be the last.