Biography

Ultramarathon Runner | Trail Runner | Adventure Traveler | Coach | Occasional Sprinter

Written in 2009:     Israel ran cross-country and track growing up in Alaska in the 1990s where he was semi-competitive, but after college, he became an over-the-road truck driver topping out near 226-230 pounds (104kg) by the summer of 2003.  When he decided to join the Army in 2004, he got back into shape, but was plagued with multiple injuries 2005-2006 which caused him to go through multiple cycles of continued weight gain and loss.

Israel’s endurance running history started on Jan 1, 2007 in Iraq when he was shocked to see he weighed 218 pounds and still tried to consider himself a runner.  He began a consistent training regiment, ate healthy before deciding to compete in his first ever half-marathon in May 2007 in Baghdad losing 40 pounds in the process.   He continued training and racing back in the US through 2008 ever increasing his mileage until completing his first marathon in 2009. 

Upon moving to England, Israel decided to take his running to the next level, and focused his goals on completing the 100km Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Ultramarathon despite having never running over 26.2 miles.  During this time, Israel began his eccentric racing schedule racing nearly every weekend from half marathons to ultramarathons mostly on trails.  He would go on to place 8th at the Mongolia 100km ultra and eventually finished the year competing in 47 races from 400 meters to 62 miles. 

Israel's unorthodox style of combining ultramarathon trail racing with shorter 10K and ½ Marathon races, continues through 2011 as Israel will be attempting to run 170 miles in 8 days in 4 countries for the GORE-TEX® Transalpine-Run.   In addition, Israel hopes to race over 52 races including at least 1 ultramarathon every month throughout the year and log over 2,100 miles in 2011.

Details: Overweight truck driver to competitive ultra runner

I started running track in 7th and 8th grade, 1993-1995 and like most runners started off with the sprints and kept working my way to longer distances through high school.  I tried focusing on the 400 and 800m (2:10pr) through high school, but ran every distance offered in track and field in Alaska. I was never competitive over 800m, but just didn’t enjoy or have the training for the longer races. 

In 10th grade I was lucky enough to attend a boarding school and because of a sheltered childhood joined every sport I could with Cross-Country being the sport I excelled at My PR for the 5K was 17:56.  I think one of my biggest disadvantages was never really having a coach in the off season-I always coached myself, even through Track and Field season because our school had no such sport. I started a team and coached both track and field from what I knew.  During the summers, I ran nearly everyday usually 2-5 miles and everyone thought I was crazy, but did not have a structured running plan other than running 2-5 miles a day.  Sometimes I’d go down to the track and attempt a mile PR, but never could get faster than 5:15.

Running was my life in high school; I was only 160 or so pounds, and went to college hoping to do some running for a college team.  But attending the University of Colorado right after Adam Goucher, Allen Cullpepper, Kara Goucher and such greats, it just was not going to happen for a little pion like me.  I raced in the ‘try-outs’ for Cross Country  but I think the ‘event’ was only for show to say they held tryouts.  I desperately wanted some structured training, but never had any for racing over 5K.  Later that spring, I ‘tried out’ again for the indoor track team in the 800m, and was about 1 or 2 seconds behind the pack who finished the race, but again, think they just had tryouts because of some appeasing rules or something.

I gave up on running (in 2001) and moved on to other sports.  Later in 2001 my life went downhill, moved to Texas where running (to me) was impossible from the heat and lack of trails or places to run. I became a truck driver and over the next 3 years gained over 50 or 60 pounds till I ballooned to 226lbs.  Finally in 2004 I joined the Army, spent a few months spending 2-3 hours a day at the gym 6 days a week.  After Army Basic Training in 2005 I got down to 189.  But for all of 2005 and 2006 I kept getting various injuries from the Army and had several surgeries.  At the time in 2006 I spent the summer trying to get back into running, but was only doing 400m splits about (usually 6-8) all under 1:30 with a couple close to 1:10.  I thought it was pretty good being 205-215lbs.

I deployed  to Iraq in November of 2006, and by Jan 1, 2007 I weighed in at 218 pounds. At this point I became  disgusted with myself so tried hard again to loose the weight.  I ate 2 full healthy meals a day and because of our operations in the war zone, wasn’t able to get a 3rd meal so with my working out and running 5 or so miles a day 4 days a week, I lost 33 pounds in 5 months.  I did it mostly on the treadmill running 45min to an hour 4 days a week while doing some sprints to improve my 2 mile time (I think to 12:46).

That weight only stayed off for about 5 months, then I went back up to 205lbs by October 2007.  In November 2007 I went on a fast–more for spiritual reasons, all the crap and stress happening in Iraq—-and while drinking only water for 21 days lost about 28pounds getting down to 177 in November 2007.  I actually kept the weight off this time for almost a year.

Finally came back to the United States in February of 2008 where my main focus was to make the Ft. Hood Army 10 mile team. I started running 25-35 miles a week throughout most of the spring and summer.  I raced 10-12 5Ks, some 10Ks, and a couple 1/2 marathons.  I made the team and actually helped with most of the training and coaching.  My longest run ever was a 15 miler I did to see if I could, but usually only did the 10 or 12 miles on long runs.  I learned so much about running during this time and started reading all the literature I could on the subject and really loved running again.

But tragedy would strike two weeks before my 10 mile race in Washington DC.  While playing basketball, I rolled my ankle, severely sprained, and fractured it.  Being my stubborn self and because of all I had worked for up to that point, I still went to DC, stopped using my crutches, threw off my brace, and hobbled/ran the most painful 10 miles ever in my life.  Yeah, stupid people do stupid things, but it’s a decision I’d probably do again given the circumstances and being a Solider and all.  Needless to say, I don’t play basketball anymore.

 

After October 5, 2008 I wasn’t able to run again and waited for my ankle to heal.  Because I wasn’t running, I again ballooned up to 212 pounds in January (2009).  I moved to Washington where I found the Club Oly Runners.  I did a couple of 2-3 mile runs on the treadmill then went out for that Saturday morning run with the Club Oly guys and gals, and made my debut with the group running that gruelling 9 mile run.   My ankle hurt very badly throughout the spring, but learned to adapt to minimize the pai

I went through a crazy spurt running a bunch of races in May and June of 2009 (2 Marathons, 3 Half Marathons, one 10K), but I needed to get it out of my blood During the summer of 2009, I hit some point/magical wall where I just kept getting better and better and running 16-18 mile long runs on the weekends, and I was doing them fast (for my standards). I was running about 30-40 miles a week.

 

July 2009 found me moving to England.  What a change.  England would offer a perfect running environment.  The weather is perfect compared to every other place in the world I’ve lived for runners.  I can run trails any day of the week and absolutely love the running communities here.  

 

In August 2009 through the stresses of moving and trying to orient to a new job, new country, new customs, and an attempt to continue running, somehow, I don’t know what happened, but my body shut down.  I had weird numbness in my arms, strange breathing patters, strange feelings in the muscles in my body.  I sort of freaked out because I didn’t know what was going on.  But after much research, finally understood that I had Overtraining Syndrome no questions about it.  I never really pinpointed what really set it off, because I didn’t think I was doing that much, but from July 30, 2009 through September 10, 2009 I could not run and just allowed my body to recover.  It was a time of frustration not being able to run like I wanted, but I understood I’d put my body through too much with the move and trying to increase training, it was overloaded.  

 

 In mid-September 2009, I had start my training all over again going back to 4-5 mile weekday runs and 8-9 mile weekend long runs. It was extremely difficult.   I ran a few half marathons and a 10 mile race to end out the year 2009 with some good memories, but It took taken me until about March of 2010 to get back where I was before the Overtraining Syndrome occurrence.  

 

January 2010, I started a 7 1/2 month training plan to run an ultramarathon in Mongolia.  Everything went according to plan and I kept training wiser and careful, but started pushing my limits of human endurance. 

’ve finally surpassed any fitness level I’ve ever been in my whole life, this is it, I’m at my pinnacle.  Maybe not for speed, but I truly feel I’ve reached the point where I can finally say “I’m in the best shape of my life!” (written in May 2010).

 

Post Script.  I had an extraordinary and excellent training season and continued to improve beyond my wildest dreams, and completed a 35 mile and 44 mile ultramarathon races in June as preparation for Mongolia.  During the spring and summer I also raced a dozen or more other races ranging from 800 meters to marathon distances.  All my races offered great learning experiences that I would apply to the next race after.  

 I did go to Mongolia to compete on the 100km Sunrise to Sunset ultramarthon in July.  I would end up finishing 8th place over all and exceeded all goals I had set out for in attempting just to finish a 100km race.  The full race report with photos and videos, and all other information is here: 

 

In 2010 “the year of the ultramarathon” I posted PB/PRs (personal records) in every race distance from 5 mile (32:30), 10K (40:40), 1/2 Marathon (1:43:04), marathon (3:59:30), ultramarathons (36.6 miles in 6 hours) and beyond (15hours 49 minutes for the Mongolia 100km).  There are continual struggles, pains, joys, and triumph, but I’m always focused forward and looking toward competing the next race!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nd eventually it dwindled down to where it only flares up every month or so for about a week. 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.israeltherunner.com/biography/