The 2012 Western States 100 field has a wealth of women’s talent beyond the four past IAU 100k champs whose interviews we shared yesterday. These include Rory Bosio, who has finished fourth and fifth at the past two WS100s; Liza Howard, who is likely the flat-out fastest women’s 100 miler these days; and Aliza Lapierre, who manages to keep a low profile despite a slew of course records and a sixth place finish at last year’s Western States. Keep reading to get the scoop on what these women are thinking going into WS100 ’12.
iRunFar: Typically, you’re very limited in your racing, but you seem to have raced a bit more than usual the first half of this season. Is there any reason for that?
Rory Bosio: My work schedule was flexible this year to allow me to race more. However, in general I don’t like to race too much because I think it takes its toll. I want to be doing ultras for years to come so I’m trying to pace myself. Hard to do when there are so many great races to choose from!
iRF: You’re only 27, but with a fourth and fifth at the past two Western States, you seem to have the race dialed. What are your secrets to success at States?
Bosio: That’s kind of you to say, but I definitely don’t have WS dialed! Last year I had my highest highs & lowest lows. I love the race and view it more as an adventure than an actual race (which my sponsors probably don’t want to hear :) ). This perspective helps me ride out those lows and tell myself that the point of WS is to relish the experience rather than focus on a time or place in the standings. Also, I have a spectacular crew and amazing pacers who keep the event so fun for me. It’s like a party on the trails!
iRF: This is your third 100 and your third Western States. What brings you back? On the other hand, where else do you dream of racing?
Bosio: I’ll keep coming back as long as I can get in! I live in Truckee and have family that lives in Foresthill, so WS is literally in my backyard, giving it a special feel. It’s really cool to have my friends and crazy family cheering me on. They get more excited about the race than I do! Plus, it is such a well run event. I’m amazed by how organized it is and all the great volunteers. I would eventually love to do other 100’s, including Hardrock, Wasatch, and UTMB. I’m drawn to races that have amazing scenery and lots of climbing, because I’m not too speedy on the flats.
Liza Howard: I finished Bandera in January [iRF: Sorry for forgetting Bandera!] and it wasn’t the race I’d hoped, but my time was comparable to the year before with the longer course. I’ve recovered from my knee injury at Rocky and have been running consistently and without pain since March. I’m going into Western healthy and happy.
iRF: Although you’ve run the Zane Grey 50k (’08) and won the Leadville 100 (’10), Western States is a step up for you in terms of mountain running. That said, you’ve spent plenty of time in the mountains with your job. Has that experience informed you to prepare any differently for Western States than your previous 100 milers?
Howard: Sure. I’ve logged lots of uphill and downhill garage treadmill miles to try to simulate the course ascents and descents.
iRF: You live in hot-as-anything Texas. Are you secretly (or not so secretly) hoping for temps well into triple digits next weekend?
Aliza Lapierre: Honestly, I had no idea that I had cut down my training volume. I really put a lot of trust and faith in my coach (yes, you, Bryon). I take my training one-day at a time and really value quality over quantity. I also know that my body doesn’t recover quickly enough or seem to benefit from consistent high mileage and that is respected in my training plan. This year, I have also incorporated Crossfit, which I believe has made me not only physically stronger, but also mentally.
I think that being able to go into races feeling prepared, fresh and excited has allowed me to have a lot of “good” days when the gun goes off.
iRF: You’ve only run two 100 milers, but were second to Kami Semick at the Vermont 100 in 2010 and sixth at Western States last year. To what do you owe your rather immediate success at 100 miles?
Lapierre: I appreciate you using the term immediate success, although I view my performances at the 100-mile distance differently. I am grateful for my performances at the 100-mile distance, although still feel like I have more to leave out on the course.
The Vermont 100 was a great way for me to experience the journey of training and racing the hundred-mile distance for the first time. During VT100 I was still battling giardia, so spent a fair amount of the race using the Vermont woods. I finished and felt like I still had a lot in my legs, as my stomach became my regulator in that race. It was such an honor to be on course with Kami and to finish in the top ten overall for the race. I attribute my readiness for that race to not only my coach, but also Jack Pilla, a veteran of that course who really helped prepare me for that day.
Western States last year was a real eye opener for me, as it was my first time running against so many talented runners at once. My day could have easily ended before the finish line and I would attribute my finishing time/place to my crew, pacers and to those who were sending me positive vibes as they all motivated me to keep moving forward despite the pain and doubt.
I value that I still have a lot to learn about the distance and I think that is why I why soon be running my third 100 miler. Also, as overwhelming as it is for me, I like having the opportunity to toe the line with many of the worlds greatest ultrarunners.
iRF: That said, you had a couple “issues” at Western States. What were they and how do you plan on addressing them this year?
Lapierre: I recall standing at the start line with my husband and with the one-minute warning I went to take a sip out of my pack and nothing came out. With little time to remedy the issue I started the race hoping that a clump of drink mix was impeding the water flow and figured it would dissolve by the time I hit the top of Escarpment. Unfortunately, it didn’t and since it I wouldn’t be seeing my crew until Michigan Bluff, I knew I would have to fix it myself. While running I pondered over my pack issue when I fell and smacked my right hip/thigh on a hard section of snow and went screaming down the mountain slope. I somehow made my way back up the frozen snow sheet to the course and continued on. Now I was thirsty, hungry and couldn’t bend my right leg, but on the bright side around mile 23 I actually get my pack to function. Once I reached my pacer Meredith (who is also my nutritionist), the remaining miles were then spent trying to get my nutrition/hydration back in check.
There were many lessons learned last year from checking my gear before the race, to staying present in the moment, to factoring into shoe size that my feet are going to swell a lot in the California heat. I know each race presents its own challenges and I accept these “issues” that arise are part of the journey, I just hope this year I have fewer.
Call for Comments
How do you think these women will stack up in this year’s Western States 100?