As you probably know by now, I am an avid runner and especially like running events of marathon-distance (26.2 miles) or longer.
Anything longer than a marathon is considered an “ultramarathon” and of those, there are two types. The first is a distance and the most common distances are 50 kilometers (31-ish miles), 50 miles, 100 kilometers, and 100 miles. There are even some 200-mile events, but the longest I have run is 50 miles.
The second type of “ultramarathon” is a timed event. In this case, the event lasts a certain duration of time, and one covers as many miles as possible during that time. I have run two “timed events” now, both relatively recently. Last New Year’s Eve, I ran a six-hour run and managed to cover 37 miles despite the frigid temps that evening. With the windchill, it was 25 below!
On June 30, I participated in the Titletown 8-Hour. This event is held at UW-Green Bay in their Arboretum. It’s the same idea—cover as many miles as possible in 8 hours. My goal was to hit 50 miles as this was another event in our office’s fundraising effort for Kim Olson. In May I ran the Ice Age 50 Miler in 7 hours and 44 minutes, so going in to this run I was optimistic that I would be able to make 50 miles in 8 hours.
Then the weather happened.
As I mentioned, it was about 25 below at my last timed race...and the Titletown Ultra saw a temperaturc shift of about 110 degrees from then! The high on June 30 in Green Bay was 95 degrees and boy did I feel it. The fact that it was already 87 degrees (and humid!) at 5:10 a.m. when the run started had me worried. I had a plan to stay cool as much as possible, and stay fueled, and for the most part I stuck with it. As the temperatures increased, I switched my shoes and socks so that my feet stayed relatively dry, and I kept working—one step at a time.
By 10:30, however, I knew I was off of the goal pace. I wasn’t going to manage 50 miles in 8 hours as the heat and humidity were taking their toll on me and I was already out of clean and dry socks and shoes. I had never before changed socks or shoes in a race, and at Titletown I went through five pairs of socks and three pairs of shoes in five hours! This was mostly self-induced. It wasn’t sweat from my feet that were saturating my socks and shoes but moreso all of the water and ice I was dousing myself in to try to stay cool. I even wore a “bucket hat” that I would fill with ice and then let it slowly melt down my neck and back. While it felt great and kept me a bit cooler, all that water eventually made its way to my shoes. Blisters. Game over.
I finally called it a day at about 11:15. I had covered 33 miles and was thoroughly cooked. The winner of the 8-Hour event managed 43 miles, which was well below what normally would have “won” the event. I was OK with my decision to stop, and am simply using it as motivation for the next round of training and the next attempt at 50 miles. I’m signed up for the Fall 50, which is a road marathon in Door County...in October.
October should be cooler. Then again...this is Wisconsin, right? So who knows?!
To support this effort—and much more importantly, support Kim Olson and her family—please feel free to contact our office! I still owe Kim 50 miles...and I WILL get to that finish line!
(The contents of this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional health care advice. Do not use the information in this column for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition.)