You see a lot of “26.2’’ bumper stickers on cars driving around the roads these days but not too many that say “50.0.’’
Well, that’s because marathons are fashionable and get a lot of television time.
Plus, there’s the old “look what I did’’ factor, which means telling everyone at work, school and the dinner table that you did something special.
Then there are those 50-kilometer/50-mile and up folks, commonly referred to as ultramarathoners, who do these distance monsters for different motives.
For a lot of these folks, it’s about running down wooded trails far from the cameras and sort of bonding with the environment.
The joy they derive from these adventures comes from the very journey itself.
That’s why accomplished ultra runner Lisa Schmitter can’t seem to get enough of the ultimate tests.
The Buffalo native, now residing in Bucks County, runs about a half-dozen ultras a year. She’s become accomplished at 50-kilometers (31 miles) and 50 miles.
Now she’s aiming higher, making plans for her first 100K (62 miles).
And to think that just over eight years ago Schmitter hadn’t even run a step.
But 2011 proved to be a fateful year. A friend invited her to compete in a 5K “mud run’’ in Washington Crossing, N.J. and while things didn’t go well that day, it set events in motion that would lead her to much bigger things.
“I decided to train for roughly two weeks and failed miserably,’’ she says with a chuckle. “I completed the course but it was not fun, I sprained my ankle by the end of it.
“After I recovered, I decided I just wanted to do better. I tried longer distances and I liked seeing the progress.’’
Schmitter studied psychology at Buffalo State University and that could help explain why she takes such a philosophical approach to real long-distance running.
“You’re on the trails, you’re in the woods,’’ she says. “You’re going over gnarly terrain. You have to pay more attention.
“For me, you can sort of get lost in yourself.’’
There’s a band of ultra runners in Bucks County, including Chris Mortensen, Harris Brenner and Greg Holtz among others. They do some training together and compare notes for this demanding athletic endeavor.
Lisa has been human resources director at New Jersey’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence for the past 16 years.
Her first ultra was a 50K in Maryland in 2016. Now she’s worked her way up to the awards podium. She’s already completed a 50-miler in just over nine hours.
She bunches her ultras close together to take advantage of her training and also by scheduling them in the spring and fall avoids the heat months.
When she prepares for a 50-miler, she will do a maximum training run of 50K. And for a 50K race, she will try to complete a 25-miler.
At 43, she figures to have plenty of good racing left in her.
“It is kind of infectious,’’ she says. “The individuals who I run with on the trails, they’re doing really impressive distances.’’
The trick is to train a lot. . .but not too much.
“For me, it’s diet, hydration and keep moving,’’ she says. “Not resting too much. A little physical therapy.’’
No bumper stickers on her car either. That’s what might help keep the whole thing special.
School Lane 5K, 10 a.m., Bensalem. Contact www.runsignup.com
Cousins for Carol 5K, 9 a.m., Southampton. Contact www.cousinsforcarol.org
Sunday, May 19
21st annual Kiwanis-Herald Sesame Place Classic 5K, 7 a.m., Sesame Place, Middletown. Contact www.sesameplaceclassic5K.com
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