According to Paul Terranova he’s neither flashy or fast, but he sure does know how to run the Western States 100, as he ran himself into the top ten for the second time in three years. In the following interview, Paul talks about how he went out more aggressively than last year and why that strategy led to a tenuous race.
For more on how the race went down, check out our Western States results article.
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Paul Terranova Post-2015 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here at the finish line of the Western States Endurance Run. I’m with Paul Terranova, Mr. M10 for 2015. Dude, Congratulations!
Paul Terranova: Thank you very much. Thank you.
iRunFar: Your race was really fun to watch. Was it fun to run?
Terranova: It was a lot of fun to run. Just take it step by step and work it aid station to aid station and do the best I could. I knew that on a hot day things like that will happen.
iRunFar: Things can happen.
Terranova: Things can happen and things can change up front, and you just have to be prepared to keep moving forward and be there when opportunity presents itself.
iRunFar: I want to talk about the early part of your race. You were pretty far back early on, and I think that was probably intentional?
Terranova: Actually, early on I was in sight of the three The North Face guys.
iRunFar: Let’s talk about 20 miles in, sorry, yeah.
Terranova: That stretch to Robinson Flat was not so good for me. A gap certainly developed, but I think I was 15th or 20th at that point, which is fine. I knew I needed to get closer to the front of the pack to get myself in position early. I think last year I was too conservative early on and I wanted to make sure I was closer to the mix early. I did a good job of that. I might have done it too much because my legs were feeling it early. I said, “Uh-oh. This could be a really long day.”
iRunFar: At what point, on one of the canyons or one of the climbs, were you thinking, Uh-oh, is this going to happen or not?
Terranova: It was going to Robinson Flat.
iRunFar: Mile 30—really early!
Terranova: Yeah, mile 30. Ian Sharman comes hiking by me…
iRunFar: Hiking at five miles/hour which he can do?
Terranova: Alex [Varner] wasn’t moving too well. I was like, Okay. Then I saw Ryan Bak maybe just past Robinson Flat not looking so good. So Ian comes by hiking and then you see those Nike guys not looking too good so, Okay, well, at least I’m still moving.
iRunFar: I’m not feeling as bad as some other guys. How did things change for you?
Terranova: Right. Just getting… once I get past Robinson Flat—because that’s the stretch I’ve done in training camp so much—it’s that first 24 miles that I only see on race day. I’ve only seen them the past four years. Once you get to familiar terrain that you’ve run before, and you know the turns, and you know how long it takes, so that was good. Other than a couple of diggers that I took—I caught a toe and face-planted out, said some curse words, thanked God that I wasn’t hurt… because you land and the trail is super dry and there’s no soft landing.
iRunFar: You were on my list of guys to watch or guys who are going to slip into the top 10 or pick up the carnage, or do that sort of late-race surging. But I gotta’ tell you, you didn’t move into the top 10 until the very end. I personally was getting a little nervous for you. Were you getting nervous for yourself?
Terranova: Actually, for a brief moment of time between Cal 3 and the river, I passed Ryan Smith, so I got into 10th. Sondre Amdahl was in my age group and I passed him between Cal 1 and Cal 2. Then I passed Ryan between Cal 3 and the river. Then I’m in 10th, so I’m feeling pretty good. Then the Australian guy…
iRunFar: Andrew Tuckey?
Terranova: Andrew… scares the crap out of us. He’s silent. He’s just running by himself and we’re at Sandy Bottom. He spooks us because we see him. It’s either Dylan Bowman resurrected from the dead (because they all have the yellow kit with the blue shorts)… then I thought, Is that Seth Swanson? I didn’t know who it was. He comes by and motors and we had déjà vu to 2013 because me and Jesse Haynes and Jeremy Humphries all converged in that area in 2013 in a super-hot year and we were all jockeying for that ninth, 10th, 11th position. So, we said, Oh, okay, we’ve been here before. So, yeah, I was in 10th but maybe for five minutes.
iRunFar: And then back out again.
Terranova: And then back out again. But then I got to the river and Andrew was there and we crossed at the same time. I saw a boat. I said, “Well, I know Craig [Thornley] said we were going to cross with a cable.” But I saw the boat so I said, “Oh, I’d better get down there,” because you want to be in the same boat as the other person. But we ended up crossing by cable. We used life jackets though which is good safety.
iRunFar: Safety first! So you actually moved into tenth place (M10) at the Highway 49 checkpoint, mile 93.5. Tenth place, François D’haene, was sitting in a chair there? What went through your head then?
Terranova: Yes. Just keep moving. The past two years I haven’t had really good stretches from Highway 49 to the finish. They haven’t been impressive. I’ve walked and hiked more than I should. My wife, Meredith, hasn’t been happy or really pleased with that. So that was something in training camp that I worked and I ran that section a couple of times. I ran it at dusk. I didn’t run it at night. I knew it. I’d run it back and forth a couple times. So my pacer this year, Justin, he and I… I just came through that aid station and grabbed my bottles and moved out. We made really good time. I don’t know what my split was yet, but we made good time.
iRunFar: So you come around the track and you finish M10. After last year just missing the top 10, how does it feel to be back in?
Terranova: Every year here is special. My 2012 was my first 100 and suffered like a dog. 2013 was eighth and just elated. Last year was second in my age group and 13th but still thrilled because I said, “Alright, go top three in your age group.” This year was win my age group and top 10, maybe top five if things were all good. I would have been thrilled with first 40 to 49 or first masters. I would have been thrilled with that. So to have 10th and come back next year is even better.
iRunFar: I guess that answers my last question. Is Paul Terranova coming back to Western States again?
Terranova: Oh, yeah. Best breakfast is over here.
iRunFar: The only breakfast? Just kidding. The best breakfast is the Western States breakfast.
Terranova: Yes, we just need to bring that pizza back, the post-race pizza at night. My crew was disappointed that there wasn’t any post-race pizza.
iRunFar: Congratulations again. M10. We’ll see you back in 2016.