In this web series, we will be shining a spotlight on several local women, on top of their game in a variety of fields, showcasing the diversity of interesting and accomplished women in our fine city. See the rest of our Spotlight on Women series.
To say that Annie Weiss is an talented runner is a severe understatement. This incredible woman just set a new record for running the entire The Ice Age Trail (1,200 miles) in 21 days, 18 hours and 7 minutes, beating the women’s record by 14 days and the men’s record by 11 hours 53 minutes. That amounts to over 50 miles or about 11 hours of running every day for almost 22 days in a row! To most of us that sounds like torture, but for Weiss, it was a goal she set out to accomplish — and she far exceeded her own expectations. So who is this woman with legs of steel and the mental focus of a monk?
Name: Annie Weiss
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI
Occupation: Ultra Runner and Registered Dietitian
Other titles/past lives: Previously, I spent much of my career as a dietitian working with eating disorder patients. I also used to be more of a road runner/marathoner, which over time I didn’t love as much as the trails.
What’s your favorite thing about running in Milwaukee/Wisconsin?
Yes, we have incredible trails here, but the trail and ultra running community is one of the best. They are kind, down-to-earth people who just want to enjoy the experience of running. I finish runs with my trail friends and feel better than ever!
How did you get started with Ultra races?
I used to run marathons and over time I fell out of love with road racing. I put too much pressure on myself to always be winning. A friend introduced me to trail running at Lapham Peak State Park in Delafield, and I fell in love with running all over again. I started racing in Ultras in 2011 and officially switched to racing all Ultras in 2014. I haven’t looked back.
Where did you get the idea to run the entire Ice Age Trail (IAT)?
I got the idea from my husband, which is a funny story. We were on a run on the Holy Hill segment and he mentioned how he would love to run the whole IAT but didn’t feel he was in shape for it. I stopped dead in my tracks, turned around, and said, “That’s what I’m going to do.” So I basically stole his idea!
How do you train for an ultra race?
I train for ultras under the guidance of my coach who is out of Flagstaff, AZ. I focus all my training on time spent moving versus mileage. I will train anywhere from three to six hours a day for ultra races up to 100 miles.
Can you share a defining moment in your personal life?
I definitely feel that completing the fastest known time on the IAT is the most recent defining moment of my life. But in my personal life, I would say it was getting married to my husband. He is my biggest support and without him I’m not sure I would be as successful in my racing or crazy goals.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
It’s been hardest to learn how to run relaxed and not put pressure on myself. When I stay relaxed and bright I do very well, but when pressure sneaks in, I crash and burn pretty hard. Even with crazy goals like completing the whole IAT, I needed to stay positive and focus on the present. It took a few failed races to really learn I need to stay relaxed.
What do you do when you have free time?
Oh gosh, free time? I welcome any free time! Outside of work and running, Brian and I really enjoy going to new restaurants and tying new recipes at home. I enjoy cooking and baking and I volunteer at the Milwaukee County Zoo on weekends, which I really enjoy!
What is your favorite thing to indulge in when you’re not training or when you get done with a big race?
After a big race, I’ve definitely been known to indulge. After a proper recovery, I typically enjoy a cheeseburger and fries from anywhere. I also take the next couple days off and watch as much Netflix as possible. I love it and gets my mind re-set to start the next training block.
To learn more about Annie’s journey, check out her blog, which her husband dutifully updated daily while she was on the trail.