Mar 7, 2011

FAQ (Updated December 2016)

Questions with stars (*) next to them are questions that I get asked a lot. No star means I don't get that question but do find appropriate. Or funny.

Who are you?

I live in northern NJ, work in New York City and I an an ultra-marathon runner - meaning I run in races longer than a standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles. I also happen to be about 50-80 lbs overweight, depending on who you ask. As you can imagine, that makes ultra-running particularly difficult for me, but also particularly rewarding.

Professionally I am a software engineer at Intersection, and I'm supposed to say here that opinions are my own. I love my job, but that's only my opinion.

So what is this blog about?

90% of the posts on this blog are about ultra running. Oddly, 90% of the visitors to this blog go to the 10% that has little or nothing to do with ultra running.

I don't know you. Should I read this blog?

Given the above tidbit about 90%, probably not.

No, really.

Well, if you don't know me, then most of the posts on this blog are about my experiences with running for exercise and fun. Of particular interest is ultra running. And while I have enormous respect for "roadies" out there busting their asses trying to get their best time in the 10K, my preference is to simply try and finish races of distances closer to 100 miles. That may or may not be intriguing to you. The twist for me is that I'm a big guy (read: in the immortal words of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, "disgusting fatbody"), usually hovering around 300lbs (as of this writing, I'm 287, go me!) and regardless, still attempting to complete ultra-distance events. Sometimes I even finish them! If you find that interesting, then by all means read away.

So you're write this to inspire me to run ultra distances even though I'm fat?

I didn't say you were fat. But even if you were, the answer is no, that is not my intention.

Then what is your intention?

Stupid self-indulgence.

No, really.

Seriously, stupid self-indulgence.

* Is that also why you run ultras?

Probably.

* So how far have you gone?

At this time, the longest distance I've ever completed in a single event is 161 miles. The longest distance I've ever completed in a single calendar day is about 100 kilometers, or 62 miles. I have run successfully 100 miles in under 24 hours, at ~280lbs. It's one of my proudest accomplishments.

* 161 miles?? I don't even like to drive that far!

Aren't you clever!

* So what about your knees?

What about them? I had a fitness enthusiast (a crossfitter) once talk to me as though it's a foregone conclusion that all runner's knees go to hell, and mine are on a fast track. I've logged about 13,000 miles of running. That track isn't as fast as he thought, I guess.

* What other types of exercise do you do?

I enjoy running the most, so that's what I do. Sometimes I do other things - biking, swimming, even weights - but I just don't enjoy those as much as I enjoy running. I thus don't run for fitness, but for personal satisfaction and Stupid Self-Indulgence. The fact that it's generally considered a healthy lifestyle is just gravy.

* So in a 100-mile race, you run the whole time? Do you stop?

No and no. Unless you can or you have to. People generally try to do implement some sort of walking strategy, such as running the first 30 miles and then adding in walking breaks. For me personally, I'll have walking breaks from the very beginning in any ultra, which pays dividends later in the race. A few particularly gifted people can run an entire 100 miles if the course is "easy" enough, but they're rare exceptions to the rule. As far as stopping, people usually don't stop for more than five minutes unless they have to. Same is especially true for napping.

* What is your favorite kind of race?

I like smooth singletrack trails and fire roads. I'm quite fond of races held on this kind of terrain, even though they can have a tremendous amount of elevation change. I also enjoy rocky technical trails, but not very long races on these trails. For someone who runs ultras, I used to have an unusual affinity for big city marathons - I've run two (if you count, MCM, Philadelphia and Las Vegas - 5, but IMHO, Chicago and NYC are my "true" big city marathons.) Logistically, they're a royal pain in the ass and stupid-expensive but there's something about them that I used to really enjoy. Not anymore. I think the hassle has worn me down. However, all of my absolute favorite races have been trail ultras..

What else do you do?

I am a card carrying member of the Highpointers Club, which is comprised of people who try to get to the highest points of the 50 states. As of this writing I've been to the highest point of 34. I have a site about it: tursi.com/projects/highpoints

Because of my job, every now and then a post comes through this blog about a software engineering topic.

* What do you think of Dean Karnazes, author of Ultramarathon Man?

All accounts indicate that he's a really nice guy, but there is little similarity between him and myself, nor between him and my ultrarunning friends. There seems to be a public misconception that he represents ultrarunners as a group. I'd disagree with that. He represents himself. As far as criticism towards him about dishonesty or misleading people, I'd have no comment about that. All I know is that he does incredible things both in personal feats of endurance, as well as in public awareness of health & fitness.

* What about Chris McDougall, author of Born to Run?

Can't really compare him to "DK", but he seems like a really interesting fellow. He's an impressive person.  The book Born to Run is excellent and I highly recommend it.

* What do you think of the barefoot/minimalist thing?

Not my cup of tea, but some people undeniably find it really helpful. McDougall makes a compelling case, but my history of injuries is largely non-existent, which makes me believe I don't have any foot-striking problems that I feel can be corrected with minimalist or barefoot running.

How long have you been writing this blog?

Years. My first post to this blog in its current format was August 2004. I didn't run a marathon until December 2006. I'm currently at about 525 posts. It's interesting for me to read those earlier posts; it is dramatic how much the topics of the blog as changed over the years. It hasn't always been about ultra running.

* What races have you done?

There's a list of races I've done in the right panel of this blog. As of December 9, 2016, I've completed 42 ultras, 12 marathons, and an Ironman.

I would like to read other ultra runners' blogs. Can you recommend some?

Google is your friend on this one. I used to have a list on the right panel of the site but I stopped maintaining it and removed it.

* How do I start running ultras?

Get in touch and go on a run with me and my friends! Or, start here.

Can I read this blog in an RSS reader. such as Newsblur?

Definitely, and I would like to acknowledge you for being smart enough to use an RSS reader. The feed URL is http://stevetursi.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

Are you on twitter?

http://www.twitter.com/stevetursi

I think you're stupid and would like to complain about it.

Post your complaint in the comments. If your complaint is worth responding to I'll be happy to consider it.

I think you're a really cool guy and I'd like to let you know.

Thank you, and please post your thoughts in the comments. I really find those kinds of comments encouraging, and appreciate them tremendously.

I have another question that you didn't answer.

Post it in the comments. If your question is worth responding to I'll be happy to amend this post.

The intent of this post is that it will be a prominently-linked and maintained page.