Alex Nichols had a breakout race to take third at last year’s Les Templiers. He’s back this year and looking to win. In the following interview, Alex talks about what may have changed with his race at Les Templiers last year, where he’s seen success this summer, and how he plans to approach this year’s Les Templiers.
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Alex Nichols Pre-2015 Les Templiers Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Alex Nichols before the 2015 Les Templiers. How are you, Alex?
Alex Nichols: Pretty good.
iRunFar: You had a good race here last year.
Nichols: Yeah, it was the start to a lot of good races actually.
iRunFar: You’ve had a really good last year.
Nichols: Yeah, definitely.
iRunFar: What was it about this race last year that… did you change anything leading up to it to cause a breakout?
Nichols: I had a really good chunk of training before the race last year where I wasn’t just going race to race and doing what I could. That definitely helped. Then, I don’t know, I just kind of went into it with not a lot of expectations and just ran my own race, and it worked out really well.
iRunFar: Since then, have you been continuing to “run your own race,” or has it been a real boost in confidence?
Nichols: I’d say it’s both for sure. Up until this race last year, I had done one or two long races—maybe 50ks—so it’s been a learning process in figuring out what I can do and how I should run these races. Yeah, I think in the last year I’ve just learned a lot.
iRunFar: Even the last couple races you’ve run, you had a good summer. Tell us a little about that—after IAU World Championships.
Nichols: I kind of started with the Annecy World Championships—that went really well. About a month later, I came back and ran Mont Blanc and won that. I just ran my own race and sort of enjoyed it as much as I could.
iRunFar: That was another 80k.
Nichols: Yeah, and by far the longest race I’ve ever done—10.5 hours, so it was really daunting but worked out really well. Then, I got second at Speedgoat. I didn’t feel super great in that race, but I got through it. It was just a lot after doing Mont Blanc.
iRunFar: Only a couple weeks before.
Nichols: Yeah, 10.5 hours definitely takes its toll. Then I had enough time to get ready and win the Pikes Peak Marathon which was kind of a lifetime goal.
Nichols: Yeah, for me that was kind of… I could finally relax. I’d made it through the summer. I’ve just had the last two months plus a little bit more to get ready for this race.
iRunFar: Have you actually been able to train since Pikes Peak?
Nichols: Yeah, I had a couple of issues after Pikes Peak, I think, just from that downhill. It’s a hard downhill. It’s fast and long—13 miles continuous. It took more out of me than Annecy did.
iRunFar: Really? Just the higher intensity?
Nichols: Yeah, it’s crazy. Exactly. You can never back off. It’s fast.
iRunFar: Mont Blanc 80k, you can’t crush the downhills.
Nichols: Right, you have to conserve the whole time. Pikes Peak, there’s no conservation. You pretty much just have to go for it from the get go.
iRunFar: Did you run pretty strong on both the climb and the descent on Pikes Peak?
Nichols: Downhill was definitely better. For some reason, I was just not feeling the uphill that day. I just knew I had to get close enough to the leaders that I could pass them on the downhill.
iRunFar: You felt pretty confident that you could?
Nichols: Yeah, especially after all the big races. I knew I had that kind of leg strength.
iRunFar: For this year, it’s your second year at Les Templiers. Did you prepare differently having seen the course last year?
Nichols: No, I kind of tried to do it similarly since it worked so well last year. It is a really interesting mix of really steep climbs, steep downhills, and flat, fast running.
iRunFar: You did more of that, more flat and fast running, than you did before Mont Blanc and Speedgoat?
Nichols: Yeah, those races I just focused on uphill and downhill. This one, I tried to get some tempo runs and even a couple short local races in town.
iRunFar: Even this past week?
Nichols: Yeah, technically I raced last weekend, but it was 3.5 miles and I only ran 1.5 miles hard. I backed off.
iRunFar: You decided not to push it through the water crossings?
Nichols: Yeah, that race has a mile of uphill through a horribly polluted stream. I decided not to run that hard.
iRunFar: Maybe a wise choice. Aside from a little bit after Mont Blanc, you’ve been pretty healthy last year?
Nichols: Yeah, I had little things here and there, but I’ve managed to keep it all together. I think that’s a big reason I’ve done well.
iRunFar: Last year you said you ran your own race here. Is there any temptation for you to sort of be more aggressive since it’s the end of the season and just go for the win?
Nichols: I’m always going to hope to win.
iRunFar: Yeah, but be more aggressive in your approach?
Nichols: Yeah, I think looking back at how the race went, I think I’d like to be a little closer to the front, but Zach [Miller] sort of showed last year it’s sort of a death sentence in this race if you go out really hard. It’s so easy to go really fast, really early.
iRunFar: It is not over when you hit that last mountain.
Nichols: Yeah, I just ran two miles up the course for the final downhill, and it’s a serious downhill, and that’s after 40 miles of racing. There’s a lot of time to be gained in the last section. I’ve got to remember that even if I feel good early on.
iRunFar: Good luck throughout the race on Sunday.
Nichols: Thank you.