When people find out that I’m an ultramarathoner, they typically do one of two things. They either turn away, convinced that I must be out of my mind, or they pepper me with a thousand questions. It’s as if they turn into amateur anthropologists who have just discovered a new tribe of humans, and their mission is to figure out how we work. The questions normally fall into one of several categories:Eating and Other Bodily Functions: What do you eat? Do you stop for meals? Naps? Bathroom breaks? Where do you go to the bathroom, anyway?The Mental: What do you think about while you’re out there running for so long? Do you ever get bored? Why do you do it?The Physical: How do you train? Do you ever get tired? Do you ever get injured? What’s the farthest you’ve ever run? What’s your average pace? How fast can you run a mile? Do you ever walk? How do your knees take it?Then there are the general comments: Wow, I can’t even drive a car that far. You must be dedicated, insane, or superhuman.The funny thing is, these questions are frequently asked by fellow runners. People who run 10k’s and marathons, who are used to logging lots of miles. Somehow, when the prefix “ultra” is added to a word, the term becomes mysterious and unfathomable. Dictionary.com defines ultra as “going beyond what is usual or ordinary; excessive; extreme.” It derives from the Latin ulter, meaning “on the far side of, beyond.” Seen in this light, I guess my pastime is not exactly typical. That must be why people frequently comment that I’m crazy, and why my mom gets worried every time I tell her about a new adventure I have planned.From my perspective, however, running ultras is not extreme or outrageous. It’s just a natural extension of what began back in the third grade, when my classmates and I were forced to run the 600 as part of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. Back then, that distance might as well have been a marathon. The 50-yard dash – okay, that was reasonable. The dreaded 600 was another story. Side stitches, leg cramps, and asthma attacks were inevitable. Same with the half-mile we had to run as a warm-up at soccer practice. What were those coaches thinking?With time, however, an interesting thing happened. I began to like those distances. I recently reconnected with a teammate from my seventh grade soccer team and she reminisced about how much I seemed to enjoy those “long runs.” Looking back, I guess that those practices foreshadowed the distance runner I was to become. I recognize there is a lot of distance between 600 yards and a hundred miles, but all of that ground is covered in the same manner – one step at a time.So when I’m asked those questions – by runners and nonrunners alike – my answers are pretty simple. I do it because I love it, because I can, and by putting one foot in front of the other, step after step, mile after mile, hour after hour. Believe it or not, it doesn’t take superhuman strength or endurance. It simply requires desire, commitment and perseverance. I’d be willing to bet that most of you could do it too if you set your mind to it – and are willing to put up with with all of those silly questions.
The University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team returns home to face No. 10 Penn State University in a top-20 battle as the Badgers look to build on their five-game winning streak and stay atop the Big Ten rankings.The Badgers (15-8-1, 8-2-0 Big Ten) are coming off of two consecutive weekend sweeps. They took down Michigan State University in East Lansing last weekend to remain in a first-place tie with Minnesota University.With 15 wins through their first 24 games, Wisconsin has their second most victories in a season through 24 contests since the 2005-06 NCAA National Championship team that had 18.Men’s hockey: Revival of Wisconsin hockey is hereThe last time the University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team was at the top of the conference, Lebron James was Read…The Badgers will face a Penn State team desperate for a win this weekend as the 10th ranked Nittany Lions find themselves on a four-game skid coming into Madison. After losing just two of their first 20 games, Penn State got swept for the first time all season last weekend at Minnesota.Despite the opposite trending teams, Wisconsin will have their hands full against Penn State (16-6-2, 5-4-1), who sit within striking distance of the Badgers in third place in the Big Ten and are looking to rebound in the standings.Defense could prove to be key for the Badgers, who have given up less than three goals in each game during their five-game winning streak. It will be difficult to continue this trend against Penn State because they average the most goals per game in the nation at 4.17. The Badgers won’t shy away, however, as they held the nation’s second highest scoring team — Ohio State, which averages 4.08 goals per game — to just three goals in two games. Wisconsin has also benefitted from their 4.2 goals per game over that five-game span.Men’s hockey: Badgers keep it rolling, sweep Spartans to stay atop Big TenThe University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team continued their momentum over the weekend, sweeping Michigan State in East Lansing to Read…As the Badgers sit in a first-place tie at the halfway point in conference, head coach Tony Granato notes there is still work to be done.“We can’t look at it right now and say, ‘OK lets celebrate, we’re ahead of where we’re scheduled to be,’” Granato said. “We’ve got work to do, and we can’t get caught up with ‘this is how we’re gonna win the Big Ten.’ We’ve got a great competitor coming up in Penn State this weekend, and our way of doing this season has been week-to-week and day-to-day.”Face-off for both Friday and Saturday is set for 7 p.m. CST, with both games being played in Madison at the Kohl Center.