Meet Multi- Day Ultra Runner Mark!
July 2017 – Early morning I feel this horrible cramp take over my right calf. Screeching pain bringing me to my knees and laying on the floor over 15 times. (felt like numerous forks being stabbed into me at once). It takes a LOT of pain to say BRING me to the emergency room. This is one time I said let’s go RIGHT now!!
The short story is a after a few hours. Crazy drugs. I was released with some more heavy drugs to take for the next three weeks. I am not really convinced they figured out exactly what the issue was. The drugs masked the problem. The next week I was able to see my regular doctor and after a full exam he explained my magnesium was a bit short. LOL $10 amazon shipment of Magnesium and I was cured!?!
My training did diminish a bit while I continued to do long races ranging from 24 hours to 6 days.
A few months pass and I arrive at ATY (Across the Years) for a 6- day race with a plan of about 350 miles and earning my 1000-mile jacket. What is wrong with me?!!? I can barely lift anything and in a lot of pain in lower back. The race begins as a struggle while I have a smile and encouraging face painted on. I was basically OUT of the race three or four different times. Laying down at mile at approx. 180 miles I was done. However, I had my goal and I ALWAYS finish strong. I am back in pushing forward at a very painful rate. My hat on and sunglasses secure to help hide the pain.
The timing tent could tell I was hurting and jokingly said you may make it to 250 miles. I pushed. Aleve had no beneficial assistance as I changed my stride and pushed hour after hour. I stopped at 300 miles early in the morning. Still short of my goal. I couldn’t walk straight any longer. Leaning to the right and pounds of pressure filled my lower back. A return home where life does not stop and business continues. I again finally see my main doctor in early Jan 2018. A number of work meetings are cancelled as I can barely drive.
Months go by that include dozens of doctor, physical therapy visits, insurance approval issues and delays, and finally a MRI. 2 degenerative discs causing a left leg sciatic issue. Walking sideways and my left leg feeling like more forks being stabbed. The right calf continues to behave as I take my magnesium. What a mess I am. J
Back a few years I ran my first marathon (1988 Chicago Marathon) then after a 20-year taper. I jumped back into it with a 50k in Hell Michigan. After that I was hooked again many marathons and 50K’s later… then a string of 50 milers and five successful 100-mile races in a row. Then a number of mixed 100’s with lots of stomach issues and eventually being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Not the normal thing a fairly fit on weight individual hears. 100-mile races are still tough going for 24-30 without breaks for my stomach. I am not sure I will figure out the correct recipe. Longer races of 150-200 seem and are better as they have some rest breaks. After some 150 miler and 200 miles races I heard of this 6 day race going on in Alaska (2014) . I contacted Joe Fejas and he put me on a waitlist. Shortly after I was in and wondered what did I just do?! Now I have completed twelve 6-Day races and two 10-Day races. Four of these were completed in 2019 and Three more are scheduled for 2020!
Months of pain and suffering and plateauing progress. Nine months of zero running at all! 5 or 6 epidural shots, physical therapy, and sitting on the sidelines. Weight gain of 15 lbs. I met an ART Chiropractor in Philadelphia. After he explained how messed up I was he highly suggested I get a local ART to look at me and start a very regular schedule of seeing them. (3 x a week). Months of this, acupuncture, and some Cryo Some progress could be seen and felt. Goal was to avoid surgery and build core back to a manageable level.
A few painful re-occurrences in lower back and finally some relief. Exercise ball, rowing machine, treadmill, stretching, hanging, inversion table, consistency all contributed to another comeback attempt. April of 2019 entering the Sri Chinmoy 6 day I had high delusional goals. I guess starting at my heaviest weight ever won’t really help achieve an outstanding performance. However, I fought through mostly pain free (just out of shape) and completed 254 miles. Not outstanding but not broken and building a base.
May 2019 24 hour in Philly 70 solid miles before exhaustion hit. I was convinced 110 miles in 24 hours would happen. It did not. Great participants and energy at the race. Was glad and happy to be able to walk and run well at least for the first 16 hours.
3 or 4 more local races leading up to THE Dome Deux in Milwaukee. All-star runners filled the course and high energy. My goal was to return to 300 plus pain free miles. Still working on getting in shape I figured 300 would be possible. A great start followed by exhaustion then a good middle and more exhaustion followed by my previous great finish and I reached 372.54 miles. Tired but felt great with my second best 6 day ever.
Sept 2019 ended with around 550 race miles. Leading up to another 6-Day (Yes maybe too much) in November (Icarus). Icarus went well with a limited field second place 329-mile finish.
I feel I am back on track. I am about 95% strength I am maintaining core with all of my machines and a more regular TRAINING schedule.
I feel fortunate to avoid surgery and most fortunate to run and meet so many great athletes and people from all over the country. Every day is a blessing.
Ultra Running Wife Shirley
Some of my Ultra running facts:
- - Met my ultrarunning wife during an Ultra.
- - I have 100’s of friends with real communication met through all ultra-distances but especially 24 hr, 6 day, and 10-day races.
- - I have a friend who have climbed Everest, run (walked) 3100 miles, Hold World Records, National Age group records, completed dozens of 100s in one year, Deca Ultras, lost 100+ pounds, run across nations, etc. etc.
It really is amazing what we can all accomplish. Encourage, positive, and know it is possible.