In 2010, Ashley Arnold finished third at the Leadville 100, but not with the performance she was looking for. After spending a few years racing the short stuff, Ashley’s come back to the 100-mile distance so that she can spend more time running in the mountains. In the following interview, Ashley talks about what went wrong in 2010, what she’s improved on since then, and what she hopes to get out of running the race.
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Ashley Arnold Pre-2013 Leadville 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ashley Arnold before the 2013 Leadville 100. Ashley, last time we were up here in Leadville—well, 2010 we were up here in Leadville—you were running the race and I was pacing you. You finished thirdbut did not have the day you wanted.
Ashley Arnold: Did not have the day I wanted at all. I think the start of the worst part was your pacing up Powerline. I was crawling, “Bryon, I just want to go to sleep. I just want to go to sleep.” I think I had to pee, too. You were like, “No, you cannot pee, you cannot sleep until we get to the top.”
iRF: I let you do one of them when we got to the top.
Arnold: Yes, I guess I peed. I don’t even remember. It’s all a blur after that. I remember going around May Queen and I kept falling into trees and literally falling asleep. So that was… that was bad.
iRF: Have you figured out perhaps how to deal with that?
Arnold: I think the past three years I’ve done a lot of longer… I’ve spent more time awake. That’s sort of what I’m thinking. I’ve just gotten better at being able to stay awake and being able to function later. I’ve crewed people through later races and I think that’s helpful. Also, I really focused this past week on adjusting my sleep schedule which is something I didn’t do before. I guess really the past few weeks, I’ve tried to go… well, I have tried to go to sleep earlier. I usually go to sleep around midnight or 11:30, but I’ve started to go to sleep earlier and waking up earlier. So I’m kind of getting in a good…
iRF: So you’ll feel good in the morning.
Arnold: I’ll feel good in the morning, which is good. The last time I ran, I didn’t really sleep much before. I don’t know if that was an issue. I just am weird about sleep. I think… I don’t know… I feel better about this. This is a really vague and not very good answer.
iRF: How’s your fitness? You ran 23-low in 2010, but you were seemingly in better shape than that time I think showed. What do you think you’re capable of out here with your current fitness?
Arnold: Yes. I don’t know. It’s so hard to say. I never feel like I’m in shape. So, I just never know. The last time I ran this, I ran White River 50 in an 8:49. I was really tired; I really pushed it. This year, luckily, I didn’t have to push that hard and I ran an 8:28. I definitely took it easy in some sections because other people were tired, so I didn’t have to work as hard which was good because I was worried about recovery from that race.
iRF: Three weeks?
Arnold: Three weeks.
iRF: Between White River 50 and Leadville.
Arnold: Just because I don’t do a lot of ultras I was worried about my recovery. So I ended and I felt good. I didn’t feel drained. So that was a good promising sign for me because it was faster and I didn’t feel as trashed.
iRF: How have you felt since? Do you feel that recovery has continued?
Arnold: Yeah, I feel pretty good. I did a 3.5-hour run last weekend. I felt pretty good. I really haven’t been doing too much since then. I took a little road trip through the Northwest so I really didn’t run for the week after White River.
iRF: So you’re relaxed.
Arnold: I’ve just been trying to relax, yeah.
iRF: After Leadville in 2010, you kind of moved away from ultras for awhile. You did some leading up to it and you did some shorter races. You did some stuff like Way Too Cool 50k, but you weren’t concentrating on the longer stuff. What brought you back?
Arnold: I did some of the shorter races and I did the U.S. Mountain Running Championships. I really like running uphill. I like fast stuff. But at the end of the day when it came to training, I really couldn’t spend the time I wanted to spend in the mountains. That’s why I started trail running. That’s why I love being in Colorado. That’s why I live in the mountains, because I want to spend time in them. There’s this catharsis that happens when you run a long time in the mountains. It’s good for your mind. I found that my mind was better, my “self” is better, when I’m running long. There’s something about that… I don’t know…
iRF: You live in Carbondale, CO. You’re getting to run longer these days. What’s your favorite long run around?
Arnold: My favorite long run—I love the Four Pass Loop, but I haven’t gotten to run that this year because of my schedule and being back and forth.
iRF: Get in there before it snows.
Arnold: I know. Hopefully I can run it after this. I really like running in the Marble area because there are a lot of trails that aren’t traveled that often.
iRF: South of Mount Sopris?
Arnold: Yes, up Highway 133, that way. I did some running over in Crested Butte in that area that I really like. And Mount Sopris is my favorite 13-mile ride or run.
iRF: Mount Sopris is a grind; you like being up in the mountains; you’re pretty good at climbing. There’s a lot of flat at Leadville. Did you train for that at all?
Arnold: I did actually. I ran a lot of flat this year, especially early on. I did a lot of that. I actually worked on my hiking which I didn’t before. I think that was a weak point for me last time at Leadville. I think I had this feeling that I had to run all the way up Hope Pass. On the way out I ran a lot of Hope Pass and I definitely bombed down Powerlines which I don’t think was good for me. So I think I’ve gotten better at hiking; I think that’s good. I did quite a bit of road running early on which is helpful. My easy days have always been flat.
iRF: In town. You’ve got Tina Lewis coming back—she won last year. You’ve got Denise Bourassa. You’ve got a couple other good ladies. Are you focusing on racing them or are you running your own thing?
Arnold: I never looked at the entry list. I don’t care. It’s 100 miles. I’ve done this once before. I love Leadville. My goal is to race against myself and that’s why… I want to see what I can do. I want to see how fast I can run and how comfortable I can be and how nice I can be to my crew and pacers. I want to just spend the day running. That’s why I’m here. If I can run well and I can have a good day, then that would be good.
iRF: I want to see you have a good day out there. And enjoy it, Ashley!
Arnold: Thank you!
iRF: What do you have on there?
Arnold: Momento viver. Live in the moment. Then my friend Blair and I both have this old tree. We have matching tattoos.
iRF: What a fine water bottle you have there.
Arnold: Thanks! It keeps me well-hydrated.
iRF: You’ve been doing too many product videos.
Arnold: I was going to try to pour it in my mouth like the Gatorade commercials.
iRF: But it was going to come out your nose. Alright. I think we just got our B-roll right there.
Arnold: My cat?
iRF: Give us your cat.