Defending Western States 100 champion and three-time finisher Kaci Lickteig is back to race again. In this interview, Kaci talks about how she thrives on the shared positive energy between she and other women in races, how she thinks that she has to run her own race in order to have her best race, and what parts of the course she is most looking forward to running again.
Kaci Lickteig Pre-2017 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kaci Lickteig before the 2017 Western States 100. How are you, Kaci?
Kaci Lickteig: I’m doing well. How are you, Bryon?
iRunFar: I’m doing alright.
iRunFar: What does it feel like showing up in Olympic Valley as the defending Western States champion?
Lickteig: It’s still surreal. It’s very welcoming and warming. It just feels like the right place to be.
iRunFar: Happy to be back?
Lickteig: I’m very happy.
iRunFar: Earlier this year, you ran the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and ran with Magda Boulet pretty much the way—I don’t know if it was every step—but how was that experience for you?
Lickteig: It was phenomenal. That’s one of the races I’ll never forget. Being with somebody for 50 miles is something you rarely ever get to do.
iRunFar: Could you see yourself, not necessarily with Magda, but pairing up with someone and running some early miles together for awhile Saturday?
Lickteig: Absolutely. I’m sure we’ll be kind of packed together with the snow and everything that we’ll be working together. We all have the common goal to get to the finish, so we’ll help each other out.
iRunFar: Does it feel that way if you’re running together at 20, 30, or 40 miles that you’re sort of a team working together?
Lickteig: Absolutely. Everybody from start to finish is a team. We want everybody to achieve that goal.
iRunFar: But if you were able to achieve a little more at the end of the race, you’d probably go for that?
Lickteig: I’m sure, but even though, it’s 100 miles.
iRunFar: Aside from your finish at Lake Sonoma which was great, you went on to run a 2:45 marathon and a second place at Quadrock. How did those two efforts feel?
Lickteig: Good. I’m very thankful to be able to run and be healthy for these races and stay happy and keep running.
iRunFar: How does your fitness feel?
Lickteig: It feels good.
iRunFar: You ran with Magda, so we don’t know if you were running 100% on that day. Do you feel like you’re as fit as last year or fitter?
Lickteig: I do. I feel like I’ve been healthy and stayed consistent more so than I have in the past. I’m just going to have fun with it again.
iRunFar: Does that excite you to come in with some extra fitness?
Lickteig: Yeah, especially with the differences in the snow and the heat. It’s good to have a good fitness backing you into those things.
iRunFar: With your run at Sonoma and those other couple races this spring and now just talking to you, you kind of have this reserved confidence. You’re not someone who is going to talk a lot of smack or talk yourself up, but you seem grounded and strong in that. Does that feel a bit right?
Lickteig: Yes, it’s 100 miles. Any race is any race. You either have a good day, bad day… it’s just about having your day and working through that day.
iRunFar: We just had a little border collie that was playing with us, and it could be a mascot for the race. Between you and Magda and Stephanie [Violett], is there a competition for the ‘most positive person?’ That might be the fiercer competition here.
Lickteig: I think it’s amazing. That’s what drives us to do what we do. This is the sport of it. Being on trails, being happy, being present in what we love, that’s number one.
iRunFar: With you and those two and Camille [Herron] and Amy Sproston back, what do you think it’s going to take to win?
Lickteig: I think it’s going to take a smart race. It’s going to be one you have to run your own race. It’s a race of 100 miles, and if you run somebody else’s race, you’re either going to have a bad day, or you’re not going to run to your potential. It’s your race and your race only.
iRunFar: How do you achieve that personally?
Lickteig: For me, it’s just running within myself. That’s how I race. I know my limits. I know when I need to back down or when I can push—just basically, just staying that even keel throughout the day and being happy.
iRunFar: For lots of other people who are watching this, what is the sign? In 100-mile race, how do you know you’re pushing too hard right now? What would that feel like? What are the signs for that?
Lickteig: For me, I can feel my heart rate gets higher; my breathing may get higher; I may start feeling my effort is too hard. I’m really good about gauging my effort on races. I know when to back down, and then I can come back stronger in the ‘easier’ sections or the sections I’m better at.
iRunFar: What does that feel like for you? What are the sections that you think you’ll excel at or enjoy or feel the most ease at on Saturday?
Lickteig: I love running, smooth running, any of the downhills. Cal Street, I love Cal Street, because it’s that single buttery-track trail.
iRunFar: You’ve had this consistent improvement over the years. Where do you see that moving up to this year?
Lickteig: Just working on any of the things that I’ve done wrong in the past or things I always think about that I can work on to improve.
iRunFar: What are those? Where can you run a better race?
Lickteig: Managing to stay more hydrated—doing very well with that. Just for myself, running happy and knowing when to push and when not to push.
iRunFar: Any particular challenge you have looming for you this weekend?
Lickteig: I’m excited for it all. I’m excited for the snow. I’m excited for the heat. I’m excited for the canyons. I’ve had enough sauna training for that Devil’s Thumb, that I’m ready. I’m so sick of the sauna. I’m ready for that Devil’s Thumb climb and thinking, Six more minutes in the sauna; climb Devil’s Thumb—just that kind of attitude.
iRunFar: Maybe come Sunday there will be a lot of air-conditioning time for you? Are you done with the heat?
Lickteig: Yeah, well, I love the heat. I actually prefer the heat to the cold, so I’m happy about that.
iRunFar: It suits you, and you’re prepared for it. That sounds pretty dangerous, Kaci. Best of luck out there this weekend.
Lickteig: Thank you so much.