Categorized | Primary, Ultra Running Races

High 5 Thursday Athlete Marge Ascari

Posted on 09 December 2010

Each week we highlight a specific endurance sports athlete and profile their background, specific race performances and offer insight on training and sport discipline expertise.

RT: Tell us a little about yourself, Where do you live and train?

MA: My name is Marge Ascari and I’m 48 years old. I live in Brielle, NJ with my 14 year old son, Marcus. While some of my weekly runs are on the Manasquan Bike Path, most of my weekly miles are done on Sundays in Middletown, NJ. I usually start with my friends from the Jersey Shore Running Club at Bodman Park, then head through Huber Woods and into Hartshorne Woods.

RT: What doyou do for a living?  What is your average training hours per week?

MA: I have a cleaning business and make extra money as a crossing guard at my son’s school, Brielle Elementary. Being a single mom with 2 jobs I don’t have a lot of time (or energy :-) for high mileage but I manage to get in
around 10 – 12 hours per week.

RT: Give us an example of one of your favorite workouts?

MA: My favorite workout is my Sunday long run. I try to stay out there for 8 hours, which includes some walking and refueling breaks. I keep the pace easy so I can socialize with my friends during the run. I love that. I
sometimes add hill repeats or pickups on the trails. I’m in my own world when I’m out there on the trails. It just puts me in this positive, relaxed mode and I feel like I could go all day.
RT: What do you enjoy the most with racing and training in endurance sports? 

MA: I have met so many awesome people through running in general, but especially during ultras. It’s so much easier to get to know people when you have to run at a slower, conversational pace. I have friends  from all up and down the east coast who I’ve met at races.

RT: Do you have written race goals and keep a training diary?  If so please describe.

MA: I used to keep track of my runs in a training log, but not anymore. I just make sure I have a few goal races on the calendar and that’s all it takes to motivate me to get my runs in.

RT: How lon ghave you been racing in endurance sports?

MA: I’ve been running for 6 years and my first marathon was 5 years ago. My first ultramarathon was in August 2007, the Turkey swamp 50k.  All together I’ve run 6 marathons and 17 ultras. 

RT: What is your specific dicipline focus?

MA: People have told me I should try doing a triathlon but I laugh because I can’t swim. Nothing like having to be dragged out of the water in the beginning of the race. I’m a land creature and focus all my time on running.
RT: What is your favorite race location?

MA: Of all the places I’ve been, I love the Vermont ultras the best. Mountains, trails, variety of terrain, beautiful scenery, etc. I ran the Vermont 100 miler last July and the 50 miler in September. I’m registeredfor the 200 miler in May. I freak myself out just thinking about it but I’m really psyched! 

RT: How many races do you participate in during the year?

MA: The past couple of years I’ve only run Ultra marathons. In 2009 I think I ran 6 and this year it will be 9 including three 100 milers, that is if I finish the Bartram 100 in Georgia this Saturday :-)

RT: How many races do you “peak” for during the year?

MA: I don’t know that I peak for any of my races. I try to keep my training consistent so I can race any distance at any time. I just tweak  my training before a race and make it more “race specific” depending on terrain, hills,
distance, etc.

RT: What was your all time best race performance?

MA: I’ll never be somebody who wins or even places in my age group, but If I had to pick my best race performance I think it would be the Vermont 100 in July 2010. I had been having such a bad year with injuries and  poor race performance. I was so nervous about this race, but I got my weekly mileage up and did hill repeats in preparation. I came in 98th out of  256 starters. That might not sound great but I was thrilled. Felt decent the whole time except for blisters and shin pain.

RT: What are your thoughts regarding mental performance training?

MA: The mental aspect of ultra running is huge. You have so many highs and lows and it’s so easy to talk yourself into quitting when you’re  exhaustedand in pain. I think you have to go into the race knowing you’re going to
finish no matter what. No doubts. Make the commitment and feel strong about it. That makes it easier to ignore discomfort and dismiss negative thoughts. It’s tough though, so it’s important to practice in training.

RT: What races are on your dream list? 

MA: I’d love to run the Western States Endurance Run someday. It was the first 100 miler and it would be so awesome to be a part of it.  There are so many great races out there to keep me busy in the meantime.

RT: Any personal mantra or famous quote? 

MA: When I’m tired during a run I tell myself “I feel light. I feel strong”  it actually makes me feel lighter for a while. My new one is, “I’m an animal!”. I’m one of the newer members of an extreme ultra running group in Philly called, “The Animal Camp”. Those guys are so awesome!!!!! and I’m so psyched to be part of the group. My nickname is “Mad Dog” :-) Telling myself I’m an animal gives me a shot of adrenaline.

RT: What is your most recent or favorite book that you have read, any subject and related to endurance sports?

MA: My favorite book is, “Running Through the Wall” Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon. It features different runners and their personal race stories. I like reading what other runners have gone through during their races and how they handled tough situations. 

RT: What magazines/ publications ralate to your sport dicipline that you subscribe?

MA: I have subscriptions to Runners World and UltraRunning Magazine. Both are great for training advice, race reports, and personal stories. 

RT: What is your greatest strentgh during a race?

MA: I’m not one of those gifted runners but I have the ability to push myself beyond what I should be able to do, and to never give up no matter  how tough it gets.

RT: What topics are of greatest interest for you that we might include in a future Race Twitch Club Meetup.  ex: race nutrition, functional training, specific race reviews, etc.

MA: I love hearing about other races and hearing reviews from  people who have run them. I’m also interested in ideas about fueling and taking supplements during a race. 

RT: What training and race nutrition products do you use regularly?

MA: I use Extreme Endurance and Hammer Gel. I drink Ensure during races and actually recover with a 16 oz. bottle of Nesquik, yum! 

RT: WHat do you do to maintain your fitness post race season?

MA: I race all year round so I just try to maintain a decent fitness level at all times.

RT: Have you planned your race calendar for next year? If so, what are some of the races andyour goals?

MA: Next year I have several ultras planned. The Watchung Winter Ultra 50k in Jan, maybe the new TAC 100 in Feb. depending on how I feel, Umstead 100 miler in April, McNaughton 200 miler in May, Vermont 100 miler 
in July, Vermont 50 miler in Sept, either Oil Creek 100 or Mountain Madness 50k in Oct depending on recovery, and the Stone Cat 50 miler in  November. The 2nd half of the year isn’t written in stone. I’ll see how it goes. Wow, that sounds like a lot :-) My goal is usually to finish in the top half.

RT: Any words of wisdom or advice you would offer to improve quality of training and race performace?

MA: I think it’s important to do the training necessary to perform well in the race, but for me the biggest thing is to enjoy yourself. So much is mental and you want to make it fun to stay motivated. Of course  this is coming rom someone who will probably never win anything. I guess for those at the head of the pack the advice might be a little more performance oriented. 

RT: How can people get connected with you further?

MA: I run with the Jersey Shore Running Club every Sunday morning. Groups of various paces and distances start at 7 and 8 o’clock. I wouldn’t be doing what I do now without them.

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