Going ultra-long

MANCHESTER - To say that Manchester attorney Brian Teason would be fully warmed up for the start of the Shires Marathon on Sunday would be a bit of an understatement.

At virtually the same time the local marathon gets underway for the third time, Teason, 52, will be winding up a 24 hour run a few hundred miles south of here, in Augusta, N.J. He'll be one of the runners taking part in another event where the winner is measured by how far they were able to run over a 24 hour period, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 18.

After something like that, what would another 26 miles and change be?

But then again, Teason long ago left the typical marathon run behind and now focuses on "ultramarathons" - which technically could be considered any race longer than the standard marathon distance of 26 miles and 385 yards - but is usually seen by purists to be something longer than 50 kilometers, or a little over 31 miles.

"A 50K is the same pace as a regular marathon; same nutritional intake, same basic training; it's just another five miles," Teason said. "But when you start getting into longer distances, the race becomes different, the pace becomes different."

Teason has been running ultras since November, 1994, when he ran a 60K race in Central Park in New York. He came in third place. He's competed in ultras exclusively ever since, winning 18 overall. He won National Championships in the 50 miles road category in 1997 and 1998, as well as the 50 mile trail division in 1997. He was a two-time member of the U.S. National Team that competed in the world championships in Japan in 1998 and in France the following year. That experience was one of his most memorable in his running career, he said.

"It wasn't the race so much as representing the U.S.," he said, complete with the flags, the uniforms and trips to area schools as an ambassador of his country.

Teason first began running in 1983, when, almost as a lark, he went on a nine-mile run with a couple of friends. He ran his first race two weeks later, a half-marathon.

Then it was off to the Marine Corps marathon that November. Then came law school and launching his legal career. He didn't compete in road races again until 1992, and after doing well at the half and full marathon distances, it was on to the ultras. His race this weekend in New Jersey is different from many in another respect- rather than going out for 12 hours along roads and byways, then back for another 12, the course is a one-mile loop- around and around. Doesn't that get a little - well, boring?

Apparently not.

"After the first few loops you don't even notice that you're going around and around," he said. "It's no different from a five hour training run out and back. People think it would get boring, but after so many years I don't get bored. I get into my own head."

Teason doesn't even like to listen to music or anything else on an iPod or some other device that many runners favor. He tried a Sony Walkman once - those of a certain age will recall the first generation portable audio devices that played back tape cassettes and FM radio. He didn't like it. Rather, he finds himself drifting into a meditative, reflective state where thoughts come, thoughts go, and the experience is equal parts physical, mental and spiritual, he said.

"I used to think a lot (when running)," he said. "I go out on a run now and specifically don't think. It's like meditation. My body's in motion but my mind is still. I might have a thought but then it passes right through me."

Teason turns to social media such as Facebook to share some of those experiences and reflections. He posts fairly regularly; about his training routine, or sharing quotes from some of the spiritual or self-help books he is fond of reading in what is, after work and a training routine that would leave most runners gasping, a fairly small amount of spare time.

He started posting the quotes and comments about a year ago. It's a way to connect with others who might share similar interests, and if they don't they can keep scrolling down the page, he said.

"I figure if it makes a positive difference in one person's life, it's an awesome experience," he said, adding that he avoids political or religious issues.

No runner puts themselves in a position to 50 to 100 miles, or for 24 hours straight, without a lot of training and attention to diet. Teason is no exception. A typical training week for him would include a 4-6 hour run on Sunday, and over the course of the week he will log about 100 miles on the roads. As he geared up for this weekend's 24 hour race, that got more intense, and could reach more than 100 miles of running between a Friday and Sunday.

Teason had a special experience earlier this year when he competed in a 100 mile run last January, which he finished in just under 18 hours. It was his first crack at that distance in a competitive race and he finished third.

"There's something magical about 100 miles," he said. "Just knowing you've run 100 miles non-stop from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. the following morning - what a great feeling."

He's eyeing another 100 miler later this summer as well, and also looking forward to the 24 hour championship runs that will be held this October in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Nutrition is a big part of the program also, he said.

His diet is heavy on fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, with a little chicken thrown in when his 12 year-old daughter tires of the fish, he said. No red meat. As the big run this weekend approaches, Teason did what most runners do on the eve of a big race; tapering off the intensity to rest his body up for the big day. Last weekend, he summed it up this way on Facebook:

"I have trained well and am prepared physically and mentally for this next challenge/experience/adventure. I'd like to express my sincere gratitude to my many friends who have offered and given me their support, encouragement, advice and who are helping me expand my horizons. As reflect back on my 30 years of running, I am reminded of my first run and in the words of Forrest Gump, 'That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run.'"

He hasn't stopped yet.


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