Run 100 Miles, 100 Times, in 100 Weeks. Now in a Brooklyn Apartment.

Written by on May 4, 2020

The primary time Michael Ortiz ran 100 miles inside his 960-square-foot Brooklyn residence was the toughest. He laid out a roughly rectangular 40-foot cardboard monitor across the rugs on his front room flooring and ran 13,200 laps on it. To avoid wasting his knees from so many turns, Ortiz stopped each mile and reversed course. “It wasn’t actually operating,” he mentioned. “It was extra like quick shuffling.”

It took him practically 60 hours.

Three days later, Ortiz ran one other 100 miles in his residence, this time on a brand new treadmill that he’d ordered. When he completed, he took a bathe, ate, slept 5 hours, then stepped again onto the treadmill and ran a 3rd 100 miles.

Friday, Ortiz started his seventh 100-mile confinement run in six weeks.

Many people have slumped within the face of the coronavirus pandemic, tugging on beneficiant pants and carbo-loading in entrance of the TV. Then there are the stalwart few, itching to train, who’ve made the most of cooped-up living. Some folks have competed in digital triathlons atop stationary bikes. A British man ran a marathon in his backyard.

After which there may be Ortiz, a 36-year-old monetary govt and leisure endurance athlete. Since late 2018, Ortiz has been on a quest to finish 100 runs of 100 miles in as many weeks, with a minimum of one run in every state.

Ortiz was 68 weeks alongside, driving by means of Utah for his subsequent race in Nevada, as different races introduced cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although his race was nonetheless scheduled, Ortiz determined return to New York, apprehensive about the potential of having the virus whereas being asymptomatic and contributing to the virus’s unfold.

As soon as house, Ortiz realized he wanted to get artistic if he wished his quest to proceed, so he got here up together with his “Indoor 100” collection. By his fourth 100, Ortiz inbuilt altitude, climbing 29,029 vertical toes — the equal of Mount Everest — on the treadmill. To maintain cool, he organized 4 followers round him, and switched on a dehumidifier and two air-con models, set at 60 levels.

He runs concepts for his subsequent runs previous Laura Knoblach, a Boulder, Colo.-based endurance athlete he’s courting. After his Everest treadmill climb, he tossed out the concept to run again all the way down to sea degree. Knoblach countered by suggesting he run to the deepest spot on Earth, the Mariana Trench, 36,201 toes under sea degree. Knoblach is Ortiz’s enabler in feats of masochism: Final November she shattered the world report within the double deca ultra-triathlon, an occasion that’s the equal of 20 full-length triathlon races, run consecutively: 48 miles of swimming, then 2,240 miles of biking, then 524 miles of operating.

Treadmills don’t usually tilt downward, so Ortiz propped the rear of the machine on a number of rolls of bathroom paper till it reached a virtually 7 p.c downhill grade. He mentioned that the cardboard monitor run was his hardest, mentally, however the Mariana Trench duplicate was the toughest, bodily.

“You’re consistently braking, utilizing your braking muscular tissues — your quads and your calves. After I completed it, truthfully, it was arduous to stroll.” Afterward, he staggered to a shower of Epsom salts.

He offers himself these totally different challenges to keep away from repetitive, overuse accidents attributable to a lot treadmill operating, but in addition to maintain in form for the hill-and-dale of real-world runs — and to interrupt up the monotony.

Bold ultrarunners would possibly run one or two 100-mile runs in a yr, at most, mentioned James Varner, the founding father of Rainshadow Running, which organizes path races across the Pacific Northwest. What Ortiz is doing, operating one each couple of days, together with on a treadmill, “It’s fully out of the conventional universe of what ultrarunners do,” Varner mentioned. “It’s like going from Magellan to the astronauts.”

An individual doesn’t run 100 miles by means of the mountains, or on a treadmill, with no sure single-mindedness, and Ortiz acknowledges that he’s a hard-driving man. However that drive took on a distinct character in recent times. His brother, David, and operating, modified the whole lot.

Ortiz grew up in Manhattan public housing, in a detailed household made nearer by having seven folks shoehorned into one residence — mom, grandparents, two mentally disabled aunts, and David, the older brother he worshiped.

As boys, the brothers stored their heads down, attempting to keep away from hassle. Michael solely tried operating as a senior at St. Agnes Boys Excessive Faculty to pad his faculty purposes, when a trainer organized a cross-country crew. It was not love at first lace-up. The crew was terrible and Ortiz struggled. He remembers the day the crew ran eight miles — eight miles! — by means of Riverside Park. He thought he was going to die.

The runs had been arduous however what they gave the younger Ortiz had been intimations of a larger world on the market, and the way a powerful drive might carry an individual far into that world.

Michael poured himself into books and faculty, inspired by his household and particularly by David who had enrolled on the State College of New York at Binghamton. When Michael determined he would observe his brother there, David, realizing what Michael might do, pushed the youthful brother to achieve larger. “Don’t restrict your self.” So Ortiz spent his nights writing and rewriting essays, making use of to all of the Ivy League faculties. He was accepted into Princeton, and made one other discovery: You’ll be able to place limits on your self — or you may determine to push previous them.

Ortiz graduated from Princeton and ultimately went to Wall Road, making a fast rise to a vice presidency at Morgan Stanley the place he put in 70-hour weeks and labored to get wealthy.

David took a distinct route. He labored as a clothes retailer supervisor, cared for his or her aunts, and ultimately, he and his spouse moved to San Diego the place they educated for a marathon. That impressed Michael.

The brothers didn’t all the time perceive one another. Michael advised his older brother to journey much less and to avoid wasting more cash. His brother chided him that he was limiting himself, once more, and reminded Michael that the purpose of life isn’t to chase {dollars}. “You’ve received to take pleasure in life extra. You’ve by no means even left the nation.”

Then David was struck by a automobile and killed whereas biking to work in 2012. He was 29. As Michael absorbed the sudden loss, he additionally heard the echo of his brother’s grab-life-by-the-collar recommendation. On the wake, “The one factor that everybody needed to say about him was that he lived his life,” Ortiz recalled. “And I believed, ‘Man, if I die tomorrow, what are folks going to say about me? Right here’s Mike. Fairly good man. He labored on a regular basis, even weekends.’”

In 2013, Ortiz started operating on the weekends, quick jaunts to get to know the neighborhood, letting site visitors decide his route. The weekend runs turned a ritual. He seemed ahead to them after lengthy work weeks.

The runs received longer. In 2015 Ortiz ran the New York Metropolis Marathon, and shortly his first ultramarathon, a race longer than 26.2 miles, at 37 miles. Then got here a 50-miler. In August 2016 he ran his first 100-mile race. One 100-miler turned two. Two turned many.

By late 2018, Ortiz was on a quest to run a 100-miler — roughly the gap from New York to Philadelphia — for 100 consecutive weeks. He’d generally fly to a race on Friday night time, log 100 miles, then seize a redeye to be again at his desk by Monday morning.

Ortiz, who additionally competes in decathlons, triathlons, stair-climbs and impediment racing, considers himself a middle-of-the-pack runner, however has slowed his tempo so he can recuperate sooner for the subsequent run. His private greatest time in a 100-mile race is 22 hours, 42 minutes. He finishes many runs in his 100-week venture in 30 to 36 hours.

He live-streams his runs “to point out folks we are able to adapt to a altering scenario” and be artistic within the face of adversity, he mentioned. Extremely-athletes, household, associates and strangers have tuned in to look at him, and to cheer him, and to ask him questions.

The interactions preserve him buoyed and engaged throughout the lengthy hours. To accommodate the occasional relaxation, Ortiz has laid down an air mattress — skinny as a cracker, uncomfortable sufficient to stop too lengthy a lull — beside the treadmill. He generally watches the Netflix drama “Ozark” or CNBC on a close-by TV.

Ortiz misplaced his job in a downsizing in his unit simply earlier than the pandemic. So generally, throughout a run, he slows the treadmill to a stroll so he can do a job interview. An interviewer not too long ago requested him to call his spirit animal. “A gazelle,” he replied.

“If I didn’t do that factor, I wouldn’t have the friendships I’ve now. I wouldn’t know the folks that I do know now. I wouldn’t have the out of doors experiences I’ve had,” Ortiz mentioned. He wouldn’t have met Knoblach. “I believe that was what my brother was attempting to inform me.”


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