Camille Herron, 2015 IAU 100k World Champion, Interview

In only her third ultramarathon finish, Camille Herron won the 2015 IAU 100k World Championships. In the following interview, Camille talks about how the team competition motivated her, how well she researched women’s 100k history, when she started puking, and why she’ll keep going for American ultra-distance records.

For the rest of the story of Saturday’s race, read our 2015 IAU 100k World Championships results article.

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

Camille Herron, 2015 IAU 100k World Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Camille Herron after her win at the 2015 IAU 100k World Championships. Camille, you’ve had a very special day. You have three beers in your hand. What’s the best beer you’ve had so far?

Camille Herron: This Tripel is pretty good.

iRunFar: Along with that, you won a world championship today. How does that feel?

Herron: Yeah, it’s kind of sinking in. I was actually more excited about the team title. When I heard that we were on pace to win the team title, that gave me more incentive to keep going even though I wasn’t feeling too well. I was really excited to just do the best I could to help the team.

iRunFar: And it did matter because third place on the runner-up team, which was Sweden, was well ahead of Meghan Arbogast on the U.S. team. Your time gap on Kasja Berg made a difference as did Sarah Bard’s.

Herron: Exactly. I was really excited to hear that it was cumulative time because I was like, “Oh, gosh. I’ve got to run as fast as I can because it all evens out.” So when I passed Meghan coming in toward the finish, I was cheering her on and she was cheering me on, I was thinking, “My gosh, I sure hope we win the team title.” I was probably more excited about that than actually winning. Yeah, I definitely liked the team aspect for sure.

iRunFar: You were definitely excited early in the race. I think you went out in…

Herron: 3:24.

iRunFar: 3:24—so you were sub-6:50 pace.

Herron: Yeah, so I had done my research and looked at past results to see what the sub-seven-hour women had run, and Ann Trason had run 3:22 through halfway. Then, I think another sub-seven-hour woman had run 3:26 through halfway. I knew that I had to hit somewhere between 3:22 and 3:26 to have a shot at sub-seven hours. So I was feeling great and everything. What happened was I actually started puking from about 65k onward. It was like every time I tried to take a gel I puked it back up. So I just had to stop taking gels. I just stuck with liquids. So I felt like my energy level tanked and I just couldn’t keep maintaining. Obviously my legs felt like rocks. I just wasn’t getting the energy. My husband told me I was on pace to get the American record until about the last 20k. I told him, I could not take gels. It was just like my body said, “No more gels.” Yeah, I just got to tweak my energy…

iRunFar: Was that a problem at Mad City at all?

Herron: No, so what happened at Mad City was I took pretty much minimal energy. I was only taking one gel per 10k. I started feeling hungry about five hours into the race. Everyone told me that meant I wasn’t getting enough energy and to take more gels. So I tried to take in more energy here, but I hit a point about 65k where my body said, “No more. Too much. Too much.” I just couldn’t take in any more energy.

iRunFar: Before that, you had a strict plan. Every time you came across the start/finish line, you had a gel in your mouth literally for the first five or six laps.

Herron: Exactly. I was taking a gel every 10k and then I was taking sports drink at the other station. Then, I switched to Coke. When I switched to Coke, I was basically taking an extra gel every other loop. I think I was trying to get in an extra four gels for the race. We thought that that would be… to try to bump up my energy level, but I just hit a point where… I’ve never puked in a race. I started…

iRunFar: It’s the first time—alright.

Herron: I started puking, and I was just like, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve never puked before.” I told myself just to stay calm. I said, “Okay, just stay calm. Just keep maintaining. If I’m hitting 45 or 46 minutes, it’s okay. I’ve got enough of a cushion on whomever.” I think they told me I was 10 minutes ahead of second place. So even though that American record started to slip away from me, when I heard we were on pace to win the team title, I said, “Okay, just stay calm, keep maintaining, concentrate on just trying to get the win. I’m still going to run a fast time.”

iRunFar: You did. You ran… what was your final time?

Herron: 7:08.

iRunFar: Which is tremendously fast. You ran a fast debut. That’s a whole other level.

Herron: I’m spilling my beer.

iRunFar: You’d better drink some of that. I know you were shooting for sub-seven, but that’s still pretty incredible.

Herron: Yeah, I started passing some of the men on Team USA, and I was like, “Oh, my gosh.” I didn’t know what to think of it because I know they’re all really good. Yeah, I think I’m just born to do this. I just have to tweak the energy thing.

iRunFar: So you’re not swearing off 100k races?

Herron: No, I actually felt like this, mentally and physically, I was definitely more prepared for this race. I’m definitely still going to be pursuing that American record. I’ve just got to keep tweaking… I’m still very ripe at ultras, and I’ve just got to tweak a couple things. I’m going to nail this one of these days. I’m just going to keep trying.

iRunFar: Do you have anything planned for the rest of the year? Any major goals?

Herron: So, I actually committed to the U.S. 50k team in Doha in December. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape right now. I ran 3:24 today.

iRunFar: Do you happen to know offhand what the American 50k record is?

Herron: Yeah, I’ve got goals to go after every single ultra record. I think I was under American-record pace for 50 miles today, but they didn’t have the 50-mile marker on the course. I think I was trying to do the math of when I hit 80k at maybe 5:30-something. The American Record is 5:40?

iRunFar: You were 5:35 or something. It was clearly… that little bit of difference would have been under.

Herron: Yeah, I’ve got my sight on trying to… it’s really important to me to make sure I’m rested for the races. I know there’s going to be lots of opportunities. Everybody is going to be wanting me to go to their race or this and that trail race, but I’m 33, and I’ve only got a five- or 10-year window to go for all the American records on the road or track or what have you. I’ve just got to be very careful how I plan my races and make sure I’m fresh and have a good, fast course. So if anybody wants to contact me about whatever, I know I really don’t know too much about ultras and what the fast courses are, so if anybody wants to pinpoint me to what races to do whether internationally or domestic, I’d really appreciate that.

iRunFar: Are you capping that at 100k for the time being?

Herron: No, I want to get the 50k, the 40 or 50 mile, and the 100k. I wanted to go for a 12-hour record and the 100-mile record, but they told me beyond a certain point it can start to hurt your marathon time or I don’t know. I’m going to keep training like a marathoner. I feel comfortable. I felt like I was definitely speedy and fresh and prepared today. I think it was just the whole energy…

iRunFar: You’re training like a marathoner with a pretty heavy volume. It’s not just running 60 to 70 miles per week.

Herron: Yeah, exactly. I felt like going into this race, we just mainly focused a lot more on keeping my volume really high and working on my aerobic capacity, but I was still doing some marathon training—not quite as much quality as I would do for the marathon, but I’m also… I’ve qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials, so I want to try… my PR is 2:37, 2:37:14. I want to get that sub-2:37 and see if I could try and get the A Standard for the Olympic Trials. That’s another goal. I want to maybe run the Houston Marathon in January and maybe get that sub-2:37. I feel I’m in pretty good shape.

iRunFar: You can mix that up with the 50k. You’ll be a diesel locomotive coming into the marathon.

Herron: Yeah, so for me, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity. I like to do a big race before I have a big race. I thought I would do Doha in December, and then six weeks later bounce back for Houston and try to get the A standard there, and then run the Olympic Trials in February.

iRunFar: Then maybe a break?

Herron: Well, another… I want to get the 50k American record, and that’s 3:13. So if I could be in sub-2:40 shape, then I’d probably have a pretty good shot. I’ve got to kind of like plot and plan. Even if I ran the Olympic Trials and maybe a couple weeks later bounced back and did Cowtown 50k, which is really close, that might be a possibility. I’ve obviously got really crazy endurance, so… I’ve run back-to-back marathons and run really fast, so yeah…

iRunFar: It sounds like you’re excited about this, Camille.

Herron: I’m probably more excited about the beer right now.

iRunFar: Enjoy that.

Herron: I’m excited about this beer. It’s really pretty good.

iRunFar: La Trappe? Is that the only Trappist brewery in The Netherlands?

Herron: Really?

iRunFar: Along with nine in Belgium? Six.

Herron: Oh, my gosh, well, it’s only got 8% alcohol.

iRunFar: Only? Shucks. We’d better go find something else stronger.

Herron: I’ve been drinking these 9% beers, so this is a little weak.

iRunFar: Congratulations, Camille. Enjoy your celebration.

Herron: I will for sure.

There are 13 comments

  1. Ben_Nephew

    That was a really impressive run, Camille, congratulations! If Max ran a 100k AR in Doha, you should have a good shot at beating 3:13 there. I'd talk to Nadeem and ask about the course in Doha. Maybe see if they can take out a few tight turns, avoid the pavers, add some cooling stations. I'm not sure on this, but I think in general that guys who are in shape to run around 7 hours for 100k can run a marathon right around 2:30. The 50k WR is 3:08, so if you are in 2:30 shape, and go through the marathon at 2:35….

    1. @runcamille

      Thanks guys! Ann Trason was a 2:39 marathoner (while I've run 2:37), so I don't believe I need to be running 2:30 in the marathon to run sub 7 hrs. I caught up to the American men at halfway, including Joe, so I think I've got a special talent for the ultras.

      1. Ben_Nephew

        I was actually was trying to make the point that you may be in low 2:30 shape, but you do seem to do pretty well at the ultras. It is hard to imagine you couldn't run faster than 2:37 after going through 50 miles at 5:35 or so and running 7:08. I don't think Ann, and many other top females, did all that many marathons, at least relative to your racing history.

        1. @runcamille

          Yeah, it may also be that women are simply stronger at the longer distances and don't need/have the leg speed of equivalent 7 hr men. There isn't much data to work with for 7 hr women! Ann ran 2:39 in Houston I believe (I ran 2:37 in Houston at the Olympic Trials). She also ran 35 min. for road 10K (I've run 34:39). I ran 4 minutes faster than her debut for 100K. Based on this I think I could get down to 6:55-56.

          1. @runcamille

            That should say my 100K debut was 4 min. faster than her debut, and being 2 min. faster in the marathon, I predict I can run 4-5 min. faster than her AR (I was 4-5 min. faster than her AR for 50 miles). WR holder, Tomoe Abe, was a 2:26 marathoner- add 11 min x 2+1-2 min., and you get 6:56-57.

            1. Ben_Nephew

              That 6:56 could be conservative if you stay focused on fast 50-100k races and not have to try to fit in fast 100k's between 100 milers. Both you and Ann improved quite a bit from your debut 100k quite a bit, and that Tomoe's first 100k, which is crazy.

            2. @runcamille

              From a little more research- Tomoe's WR was actually wind-aided, on the point-to-point Lake Saroma course. Norimi Sakurai ran 7:00 on the Winschoten course- her marathon best appears to have been 2:42. I'll have to create a spreadsheet on the top women's marathon bests vs. 100K times. It seems that some women are simply stronger at the longer stuff- 100K definitely feels very natural to me!

    1. @runcamille

      Well, it's kinda goofy they are recognizing it, unless they're simply overlooking what happened. The ARRS has an "a" next to the 6:13/6:33 performances, and from talking to Ken Young he said that's because both performances at Lake Saroma were tailwind aided. I'd really prefer to run a legitimate sub 7 on a ~loop course, although it would be fun to go run Lake Saroma and see just how fast it is! There's a whole lot of turns at Winschoten- from talking to team members who ran it before, they said the course now has more turns than in the past. I had a bit of a bruised ankle/sore left IT band, probably from the turning!
      http://www.arrs.net/AllTime/AL_R100K.htm

  2. chelle

    Camille congratulations!!! You really are amazing! I've enjoyed following your career and hearing interviews and when you're on podcasts.

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