Steve Mason, 45, of Merrimack, is setting the bar high for himself. Very high. He’s always been physically fit, but upped his game with a recent indoor run at the Merrimack YMCA.
On Saturday, February 26, he arrived at the Merrimack facility when the doors opened at 6 a.m. Within minutes he was running on the indoor track. The goal: run 50 miles. Immediately. He put on his headphones and concentrated on the challenge, while listening to a mix of rock, alternative, music, rap and country.
“I like to go after things… when I make up my mind, I don’t stop unless there’s a reason. I figured I was going to run 50 miles that day. I planned my nutritional needs and my water needs for the day. I want the best times possible, so I had to plan very short breaks. I thought of running in the same direction. If I made all my turns in one direction, it could hurt me. My plan was that when no one was on the track, I would run in the opposite direction. Although that was the plan, there was fairly continuous action with runners and walkers on the track that Saturday as well.
“There were people who wanted to talk…and some wanted to run with me. I don’t think I told anyone what I was doing. There was a woman walking on the track. I think she wanted to survive me. She walked for 4 hours!
It was cool to see all the different people on the track and what they were doing. The space was filled with people playing basketball, tennis and hockey, I was amazed…it’s serious business and it was like watching professional hockey players doing their laces.
Y tennis coach and Member Services Representative Dick Lane watched over three hours of Steve’s long run. “I taught three sessions of tennis lessons and watched him run at an incredible pace for hours. I was in awe of his stamina and wondered what his goal was. One of my students said, ‘ here it is again!’, Dick said.
Steve ran for eight consecutive hours – 50.4 miles, with an average pace of 9:55 minutes per mile. He ran a total of 385 laps! (His fitness tracking app Streva told him his commute time was 8 hours and 16 minutes total). He said he was in no pain the day after his race. “I felt discomfort in my right knee and right ankle, which was the leg I spun on. With the track a little inclined, I felt that. I ran this Monday and I felt it again. Friends asked me to run a 50k in Virginia on a whim the following weekend and I ran with no problem!” He shared. The friends got off, ran the 50k, and were back in New Hampshire, all in 48 hours!
When asked how he manages eight hours of constant motion, he shared, “I have a lot of experience with Gu packs (energy packs for runners). I can bear it. It gives me what I need to keep going. It’s not the best. I crave real food. It’s so easy to tear the top of the package. I will eat 1-2 per hour. And I will also take between 2 and 6 salt chews per hour. I drink as much water as I can. I stop briefly to eat a Gu, salt tablets. And drink water. And take a short restroom break.
“For me, I need to challenge myself and I feel like running on pavement isn’t challenging enough for me. Even the inside track, the goal of the track was more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge. You have to stay focused and not lose it. It was physically tough, but mentally exhausting. he said. “I did great runs on the treadmill at the Y, 20 miles. But I’m more of a trail runner. I love being in the mountains and the different challenges we have here in New Hampshire. I do 5Ks with my daughter and obstacle courses. But my love is being outdoors running in the mountains. I like to challenge myself, so every year it could be something different. I started rock climbing a few years ago, but I’m still running and it’s still part of the mix. Last year, I set myself the goal of taking on big challenges in the White Mountains. I hit 3000 miles and got 1.6 million feet of elevation gain. This is equivalent to climbing Mount Everest from the ocean once a week. I was able to check off all the goals I put on paper.
Being a member of the Y is a family affair for him. He joined his son in 2012 when his then 14-year-old son Chad wanted to ride a lift. Steve Power was competitive in his youth and was happy to share his knowledge with Chad.
Late last year, his 14-year-old daughter Paige joined him at the Y. She, too, was interested in weightlifting. Paige also enjoys running and hiking. Steve was happy to move his training sessions inside the Y, as he was tired of running in cold weather and rain.
Steve’s accomplishments go beyond his running. He is a frequent swimmer at the Merrimack YMCA. A goal this year is to do a full Ironman. “I am not a triathlete. I have never done a triathlon. I jumped into the Y pool at the end of January. I swam when I was a kid. Never freestyle. When I started swimming at the Y, I could only swim one lap and had to take a 30 second break. Last week I swam 2.75 miles, more than an Ironman swim. I was happy to be able to do this swim under the time limit that I would need to do for an Ironman. I trained fairly regularly to achieve this goal. I train three times a week with weights. Running and biking. Steve is a truck driver by trade and delivers throughout New England. He sets his own hours and is able to get his workouts in by getting up early and getting his work done before focusing on training. “Today I got up at 2am and walked out the door at 2:20am! » he said.
“Almost my whole life I’ve struggled with alcohol and drugs. Eight years ago I gave it all up. That’s been a big part of my therapy…being outside doing physical activity like this and challenge myself. When I quit, I was scared. I didn’t know how I would survive. I thought the only way to have fun was to drink alcohol and drugs. But, I’ve had more fun in the last eight years than in my entire life. I’ve done incredible things and visited incredible places that I would never have seen.
Steve Mason, you are an inspiration! Your Y friends cheer you on as you reach your personal goals and plan your first Ironman!