The Staging Area (About Me)

I know I was born and I know that I’ll die.  The in between is mine.
Eddie Vedder

First things first: the title of my blog was inspired by Cher’s 1971 Billboard #1 single, the first of her solo career.  I’m no Cher fan, but apparently my older sister used to spend hours practicing her middle-school baton-twirling routine to that song; as a result, nearly 40 years later its catchy chorus is still rattling around in my head somewhere.  Not sure why the title popped into my head when I started to brainstorm blog names, but in any case the resulting bastardized version stuck.  I think it nicely conveys the vibe I’m after.

Me?  I’m an academic research scientist full-time and a runner the rest of the time.  When I’m not studying the development and growth of the skeleton, I’m working on strengthening my own biomechanically, by pounding the pavement and trails over and over and over and….  I grew up in Dallas, attended college in Houston, moved to the Bay Area to stay warm and pursue my PhD (check, and check!), and now use my hard-earned scientific talents to unlock the mysteries of human development at a bargain-basement price.

Me at my most photogenic, the year I graduated from college… artistically rendered by the talented David Diaz (I wish he’d been in charge of all my class photos)

Running is something I feel like I do, as Sir Roger Bannister once said (insert stodgy English accent), “because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves.”  My running career began as a necessary evil of team sports… ah, the unfettered joy of high school basketball offseasons spent forcibly training with football players and being “coached” by football coaches.  Who doesn’t treasure their childhood memories of having to run around a football field in the Texas heat repeatedly until the fat kid with the Rec Specs® lost his lunch?  Anyway, team sports (mainly basketball and Ultimate) ruled my spare time until I finished graduate school, friends moved away, and regular pickup games became more and more difficult to come by.  It was then I realized that the isolated running aspect of the games could be pretty rewarding all by itself.

My older brother is the real runner in the family and the person who’s most motivated my running addiction.  He lives down in Southern California and among his many other races he’s run the Boston Marathon twice (though I’m guessing he’s qualified more than twice), something that’s beyond my skill set right now, but never say never….  A few years ago he actually won the Wild Wild West Marathon in Lone Pine, CA on his 42th birthday.  You’ll meet him in these pages from time to time, but it’s my blog and I’ll be sure to always make myself sound faster and more hardcore.

So I guess the most pressing question remaining then is, why blog?  The simplest answer is that I want to document the races I run in a forum that will hopefully benefit other runners as well.  The more space-filling answer is that as corny as it sounds (and it does), running really is a microcosm of life.  As life philosophies go, Eddie Vedder’s distinctively spot-on insight at the top of this page is among my favorites, and it applies equally well to distance running: every race has a start, every race has a finish, but what happens between those two points is mine.  And the shortest distance between them is never the route taken.  No two runners follow the same path physically or psychologically from start to finish, just as the same runner can run the same race 50 times in a row and have 50 different experiences.  I won’t speak for anyone else, but when I lace ’em up I’m not looking for the path of least resistance.  If I were, then I’d be shockingly inept at choosing a hobby.

Mike Sohaskey and Dean Karnazes at 2009 North Face Endurance Challenge

Hangin’ with Ultramarathon Man Dean Karnazes at the 2009
North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco… I’m a fan!

So my objective here is to chart each path I follow on race day from start to finish.  And yes, there will be digressions along the way… I’m not approaching this with an “I came, I ran, I finished” mindset.  Nothing is out of bounds, but at the same time I’m not interested in firing off a blog post every time I break a sweat.  We’ll see what develops – I think the word I’m supposed to use here is – organically.

And as far as life-goals-out-of-my-control go, I’m hoping Tim Burton will decide to do an animated film based on my life… hey, if he wants to call it “Runningweenie” I’m fine with that.  And if Johnny Depp wants to do my voice, I’m good with that too.

Thanks for hanging out here from time to time.  If you happen to know Tim Burton, please let him know I’m free for a consultation anytime, and I’m happy to pay my own plane fare down to L.A.

  1. Jen says:

    Ha! I found you! Looking forward to reading your race recaps.

  2. Louise says:


    I loved reading your article on The Last Marathon (Antarctica), and was hoping to get in touch with you about republishing it in a new marathon magazine.

    If possible could you get in touch via and I’ll tell you more about it.

    I hope to hear back from you soon


  3. Thanks for the kind comments on my Mississippi Blues Marathon performance. Stay in touch here:

    • Mike says:

      Thanks, Scott! And thanks again for entertaining us at that all-important mile 20… my wife and I kept wishing after the race that we’d caught more of your lyrics. Continued success, I’ll be following along on Facebook!

  4. Krissy says:

    Loved your last post. Can’t wait to keep following you. Here’s is my story.

  5. OmniRunner says:

    Mike, you followed my old blog, “I’m a runner and so can you” about 6 months ago. Writing to let you know I moved to Still writing about running and figuring out the complexities of self hosted.
    Berlin sounded amazing. That is a great finish time.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for reading Andy, and appreciate the kind words. I’m still following your Omni Running blog… noticed the change in name, but apparently my WordPress Reader was smart enough to redirect from your previous blog and maintain the continuity. Just for kicks though, I tried just now to enter my name and email on Omni Running but was greeted with a “This mailing list is not currently active. Please notify the website owner” message. So you might want to look into that.

      • OmniRunner says:

        Mike, The list looks okay. I’m puzzled why you could not sign up. Did you use the widget on the main page or the one for race directors?
        I need to contact my service provider and see if I’m doing something wrong.
        Your message looks like you sent it around Midnight EST, or 20 hours ago. It’s 8PM EST currently. Does that sound correct? I’m sure they will ask me when you tried to sign up. Maybe a server was down for service.
        Thanks for letting me know.
        PS I have a re-direct on my old blog to my new one.

      • OmniRunner says:

        Mike, I checked the follow widget and it should be working. I was using an extra layer of code for formatting.

  6. Looks like you were able to squeak by with the 2016 Boston cutoff times. I hope you got your confirmation email.

  7. art says:

    Question. The Berlin Marathon requires AIMS certification. Do you know if they accept the US equivalent usatf? Art

    • Mike says:

      Hi Art, not sure what you mean when you say Berlin “requires” AIMS certification, but my understanding is that USATF certification is only granted to U.S. races. But as a World Marathon Major, Berlin is certainly recognized as a Boston Marathon Qualifier (and an excellent event).

      Hope this helps, and thanks for reading!

  8. art says:

    To qualify as a fast runner the Berlin uses the Association of International Marathon certification. There are only a handful of races in the US that are recognized by AIMS. So I was wondering if the Berlin Marathon committee recognized the US standards. USATF
    Thanks. Art

  9. Gerry Hayes says:

    Hi Mike. Just to tell you I have recently discovered “blisterscrampsheaves” and very much enjoy your writing content. I am 65 years old now and live in Perth Western Australia. I was born and grew up in Scotland and spent seven years working in South Africa. It was in Africa I started running and completed several marathons but the big prize was the Comrades! I managed to complete it in 1988 in ten hours. I loved your blogs about the race and in both directions. You captured the spirit of the runs perfectly and transported me back to that day in ’88. I am seriously thinking about going back to run the race in 2021. It would be special I would be double the age I was last time and on the hundred year anniversary of the first run. Will I see you there Mike?? That would be great if so. Good health and continued running pleasure! Kind regards Gerry Hayes

    • Mike says:

      Thanks so much for reading and for your kind words, Gerry! Sounds like your travels have taken you to some wonderful places. I would love to run the 100th year of Comrades in 2021, though more likely I’ll target the 100th race which, with this year’s race being canceled, is now scheduled to take place in 2026. After three consecutive years in South Africa (two for Comrades, one for Two Oceans), we’ll probably focus on some other destinations for the near future. But I do hope to run in either Australia or New Zealand soon, and I’d wholeheartedly urge you to make your triumphant return to Comrades next year, since you’ll never have a second chance to run the 100th year.

      Take care, keep running strong, and I hope our paths cross one day!

Leave a Reply to art Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s