Pam Smith, 2013 Western States 100 Champion, Interview

Pam Smith surprised many in winning the women’s race at the 2013 Western States 100. In the following interview, Pam talks about how her race went, how she used her strengths on race day, how she trained for the race, and where you’ll see her next.

[Editor’s Note: iRunFar also recorded the race’s finish-line interview with Pam Smith.]

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

Pam Smith, 2013 Western States 100 Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Pam Smith, the 2013 Western States 100 champion.

Pam Smith: Thank you, yes.

iRF: Pam, that’s crazy! I bet it feels that way, right?

Smith: It really does.

iRF: You went out pretty strong. You were in secondwhen I saw you about Robinson Flat. Was that the plan?

Smith: I actually started with a group of women. I was with Aliza (Lapierre), Kerry Bruxvoort, and Amy Sproston. We were behind Rory (Bosio), and I think Joelle (Vaught) was out front at that point.

iRF: Yeah, she went out.

Smith: We were pretty conservative, the women’s race and the four of us seemed like it was going pretty conservative. Moving up to Robinson Flat, I’m kind of a climber. I like the climbs. With Western States being more of a downhill race, I kind of wanted to take advantage of the uphills, which are my strength.

iRF: Gotcha’. That’s why you were moving as strong as you were.

Smith: That’s why I was moving a little bit more on the way up to Robinson Flat.

iRF: With purpose.

Smith: I certainly wasn’t planning to catch anybody at that point. I was just using my strengths.

iRF:  You were in secondthen.

Smith: I caught Rory on the climb.

iRF: You had a good run in the rest of the high country?

Smith: Yes. I think because I’m not a great downhiller, it almost helped to save my quads a little. I felt like I had a lot left at the end of the race which is always good in this race when they talk about being able to run from Foresthill to the finish, which was good for me.

iRF: You must have caught Joelle.

Smith: Joelle was six minutes ahead of me by report when I came into Robinson Flat. Then, right out of Miller’s Defeat, I didn’t think I would have made up that six minutes, but I looked ahead and Joelle was just leaving. I caught up to her pretty quickly then.

iRF: You probably moved past her pretty quickly.

Smith: Yes, it was funny because I was moving pretty well and that section is pretty smooth and I like the smoother stuff and, with a road background, I had some good leg turnover. I was like, I’m moving pretty well, and then I actually had my first ever “ultra puke.” So I was like, Oh NO, maybe I’m the one not doing well here. It was actually a blessing in disguise.

iRF: Where was that?

Smith: Just out of Miller’s Defeat before coming in. Once my stomach was empty I was like, WOW! I can run! So I just nailed that downhill to Dusty Corners. Then I was in the lead from there and used the climbs.

iRF: So Devil’s Thumb was probably nice for you.

Smith: Yes. I started picking up ground and it seemed like every canyon on the climbs I was making up a little bit of time.

iRF: So do you know how far of a lead you had mid-race or Foresthill?

Smith: I heard at Devil’s Thumb it was eight minutes over Amy. My crew stuck around and found it was 25 minutes by Foresthill. Then, when we got up to Green Gate, it was up to 37 minutes.

iRF: At that point you have a 37-minute lead. Do you back off, or try to build more lead, or come into yourself on a hot day?

Smith: We took some of the hikes and tried to back off knowing that, I am a climber but I don’t want to blow up here. It’s one of those things where you know, I’ve got 38 miles to go and I’ve got a 25-minute lead and, wait if it’s two minutes per mile and how long does this go…?

iRF: It probably doesn’t start to feel real until Highway 49 when you have a half hour…

Smith: No, I’ve heard enough of the stories about Brian Morrison and whatever that it’s not a done deal until I’m across that finish line. It definitely was…

iRF: You talk about yourself as an uphiller and you’ve also been on the World 100k team, so you have foot speed.

Smith: I don’t have good downhill technical ability. I just don’t.

iRF: Did you work on that before this race?

Smith: I did a lot more of both uphill and downhill repeats. Salem, Oregon, has a high elevation of 950 feet.

iRF: That’s a lot of repeats, eh?

Smith: Yes, I have a 500-foot hill I go up and down during the week. Then, on the weekends, I travel to trails to run a bit more. But with work and kids and everything, I have to do all my training in town during the week.

iRF: Speaking of which, is this the first time you’ve had your kids at the race?

Smith: It is. My parents live outside of Auburn, so it’s been really convenient to leave them there being that they’re younger, the timing, and their interest in ultrarunning is maybe not so high. They’ve never been out to the race. But they came out this year to Foresthill; I got to see them there. Then my daughter actually ran around the track with me. It was really cute. She was ready to drop me on the track to show up mom.

iRF: Nice. So what else do you have planned this summer?

Smith: I am actually now switching gears to a professional-pacing role. I’m going to be pacing somebody at Tahoe Rim Trail (100), Angeles Crest (100), and Cascade Crest (100), and taking a little bit of downtime. I’ve put a lot of focus into the Western States training and a little bit higher miles than I’m used to. I think with 100 miles, the recovery, and the training period, I’m looking forward to some downtime.

iRF: So you’re not headed back to World 100k this year?

Smith: I will be, but that’s in October.

iRF: So you’ll maintain a little bit over the summer.

Smith: I’ll keep my fitness.

iRF: And then ramp up the specific training in September?

Smith: Exactly.

iRF: Congratulations, Pam, on a great win!

Smith: Thank you very much, Bryon.

iRF: One quick bonus question; you’re a Sportiva athlete. What shoes were you wearing?

Smith: I was wearing the Sportiva C-lite.

iRF: Did they work out pretty good for you?

Smith: They were great!

iRF: Awesome!

There are 4 comments

  1. Rob M.

    Excellent run Pam! I was yelling at my computer every time your splits checked in. It's awesome to know that living at 1000ft I can still train well for uphills. I hope your down time is just what you want it to be – you deserve it!

    Bryon – thanks for the interviews, as always.

  2. Chris

    Great run Pam! Another Oregonian on the map! What a gutsy race. I am out now advocating for 'Unbreakable 2' to show your dominating race while Amy, Nikki and Meghan battle for top 3. What a race!

  3. olga

    Finding out Pam was in the lead, and a huge one at that, by Hwy 49, when I finally got to civilization that day, was exhilarating. I saw the "hill" Pam trains on, and I know how many responsibilities she's got. THAT in itself is the most impressive thing. Totally thrilled for her! Downtime well deserved.

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