Two years ago, Ashley Arnold (The North Face) placed third at the Leadville 100 in her first 100 miler. Since then, she’s focused on shorter racing, most recently representing the US at the World Mountain Running Long Distance Championships at the Jungfrau Marathon last weekend. In the following interview, find out what made her want to return to longer races, how she’s prepared for the Run Rabbit Run 100, and what her approach will be to the race.
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Ashley Arnold Pre-2012 Run Rabbit Run 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell here of iRunFar with Ashley Arnold of The North Face before the inaugural Run Rabbit Run 100. How are you doing, Ashley?
Ashley Arnold: I’m good. How are you, Bryon?
iRF: I’m doing great. It’s a beautiful bluebird Colorado day.
Arnold: I know. I really thought it was going to be awful weather, but I’m quite happy that it’s going to be sunny.
iRF: It’s going to be way better than Chamonix when I last saw you. A couple years ago you were really pushing the ultra-distance thing. I paced you at 200 Leadville , and you were third there. Since then, you moved your focus to shorter distance trail running. How has that gone?
Arnold: It’s been good. It’s been fun to get into the swing of doing really fast stuff and a lot of uphill. But I found this year that I was really missing my long hours in the mountains and being able to spend a lot of time outside. The thing about running short races is it’s not really a good idea to go out for a 6-hour run. I just sort of quickly realized—I guess it was after Loon [Mountain] this year—that I need to start doing longer stuff again.
iRF: You had a full summer schedule lined up. You ran Loon; you ran [the] Jungfrau [Marathon] just the other week.
Arnold: I was supposed to run Sierre-Zinal and work and life kind of got in the way, and that was where I was putting my focus. So when that didn’t happen, I think things were sort of flipped upside down. I signed up for Pikes Peak, and that kind of fell through. I ended up pacing Tina at Leadville and, of course, I knew the moment I got to Leadville that it was all over and I was going to be running a 100 soon.
iRF: So when did you decide to run Run Rabbit Run 100?
Arnold: Oh, pretty much after Tina and I finished Leadville.
iRF: Tina Lewis, who won Leadville.
iRF: So here we are. You focused all season on training for the shorter races. What have you done to prepare specifically for your return to the 100? You’ve only run one 100 miler in the past… here you are.
Arnold: My only ultra this year was Way Too Cool 50k back in March.
iRF: Which was very good—you were fourth in a very competitive, very fast race.
Arnold: Yeah, it was a really cool race. That was really fun. So shortly after Loon I was like, “I’ve got to get up in the mountains. Winter’s going to come and the snow’s going to be here soon!” So I did some longer 4.5-5 hour runs. I did the Four Pass loop which is a little less than 6 hours. Then it’s been 2 or 3 weeks now where I went out and did a 36 mile run with lots of elevation change up in the mountains and then followed that up with a 16 mile fast run the next day. That was like my big weekend I guess.
iRF: So do you feel pretty good coming into this?
Arnold: I feel pretty good.
iRF: So what’s your strategy? You haven’t run a 100 miler in two years. There are a lot of really talented, sort of big-named women at this race. What’s your approach going into it?
Arnold: My approach: to start conservatively, because I know I’ll see that steep slope and want to go fast up it or something, which is not a good idea. So yeah, to be conservative and to just kind of let the race unfold and just kind of bide my time. I know it’s a long way, and we can’t have pacers, and we’re running through the night. It’s a totally different ball game than Leadville and than anything I’ve done. There are going to be several times where I’m going to say, “Why the heck did I sign up for this?” But I’m just really excited to just run. That’s all I’ve been wanting to do.
iRF: Well, you’re not going to have a much better day than you could possibly ask for than this Friday into Saturday here in Steamboat Springs.
Arnold: Yeah, it’s going to be great.
iRF: How do you think you’re planning to deal with the sleep monsters? I paced you in your only 100 to date and you…
Arnold: Fell asleep.
iRF: Fell asleep while running…
Arnold: Several times actually. Well, I had some great sleep deprivation training in Chamonix last month. I actually for the first time ever cut back on my caffeine consumption while there which was really difficult.
iRF: I’m sorry.
Arnold: I was drinking less espresso than I normally do. So that and… I don’t know. I feel like I’ve been better at functioning with less sleep lately just because… I don’t know why.
iRF: Because you’re the editor of Trail Runner magazine.
Arnold: Yeah, because of my job.
iRF: Well best of luck this weekend, Ashley. Have fun running in the mountains!
Arnold: Thanks, Bryon! Yeah! Thanks!