Aliza Lapierre has been tearing up the East Coast ultra scene for years, but last year she made her first mark on a national stage when she placed sixth at the Western States 100. Since then, she’s broken her own course records at the Stone Cat and Bull Run Run 50 Milers. Hear what she has to say about this year’s Western States in the following interview.
Aliza Lapierre Pre-2012 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Aliza Lapierre of Salomon at the start of the 2012 Western States 100. It’s two days away. How are you feeling Aliza?
Aliza Lapierre: I’m feeling nervous. I’m feeling more nervous for this interview than for the race, to be honest.
iRF: You haven’t had a lot of time in front of the camera in the ultrarunning scene, but you certainly aren’t new to it. You’ve had multiple course records at Stone Cat, Pineland Farms, Bull Run, and pretty much everywhere you run. Last year you ran sixth place here at States and it was only your second hundred, but it didn’t go perfect for you. Have you tested and tried out all your gear and made sure that it works?
Lapierre: I have definitely been more diligent about learning how all my hydration packs work, making sure everything is functioning, and that I have everything packed and ready to go this year. So hopefully that’s not a factor.
iRF: So with a cool day, and your hydration pack properly working, maybe you’ll have fewer hydration and nutrition problems than last year?
Lapierre: I hope so. I definitely have a nutrition plan A, B, and C. I also have my nutritionist pacing me. Hopefully, I have all my bases covered.
iRF: Not to give too much away since you do have a nutritionist, but what’s the basic plan for you in a 100 miler in terms of nutrition?
Lapierre: I do a lot of liquid calories: about 200 liquid calories/hour, and then Gu or shot blocks on top of that. I’m aiming for about 300 calories/hour. Then every couple of hours I’ll eat part of a bar just to bank some nutrition because I don’t really eat any food at the aid stations or any “real food.”
iRF: It’s also nice to have some of that fiber just to settle the rumbling stomach.
Lapierre: Yeah, I didn’t do any real food last year; my stomach wouldn’t tolerate it. Hopefully this year with less heat…
iRF: Do you integrate your electrolyte program into your beverage mix or do you supplement with electrolyte caps?
Lapierre: It’s part of my mix, but I also do electrolytes on top of that, 1-4 per hour just depending on…
iRF: Of S-caps or E-caps?
Lapierre: Neither of those, I honestly don’t even know the name of them. I think they’re thermolytes; they have a little ginger in them. They help my stomach.
iRF: You ran great last year, sixth, with some trouble. You’ve run even faster this year. You ran Bull Run Run as your sole race this spring. You broke your own course record by a good ways. How do you feel fitness-wise coming into this year’s race? How’s your training been going?
Lapierre: I think it’s been doing well. I always kind of question it because I do train a lot by myself and not really with other females. So it’s hard to gauge exactly where I’m at. I was pleased with Bull Run, but I ran alone for 49 miles so again, it’s kind of hard to gauge where I’m at. It’s hard to gauge how I’ll do in competition when I have to battle. So we’ll see. This is quite the field. It’s probably the biggest, stacked field in the history of women’s ultrarunning.
iRF: How do you feel about that, the competition that’s here?
Lapierre: It’s nerve-wracking, but honestly it’s a privilege to be out on the course with all the males and females. I feel like I won’t have to worry about being alone out there. I’ll always be around and battling with somebody and enjoying it.
iRF: That’s got to be really different because you live in Vermont and in most of your races on the East Coast you tend to be the top woman by a ways and set course records. Here you were running with Rory and Nikki some going up Devil’s Thumb. Did you get to run with other women during the race?
Lapierre: I ran with Nikki, Rory, like you said, Kami a little bit, and also Meghan Arbogast. It was a good variety.
iRF: And having not a lot of experience like that, you run a lot of races with guys, train with guys, what was that like during the race running with these other women? Was there any fun camaraderie or was it intense competition or did it vary through the race?
Lapierre: It varied. I feel like Rory and I shared a lot of fun miles together where we just enjoyed being in the mountains and each other’s company. Nikki is just really inspiring to watch her strength on the uphills and the downhills. Kami has leg speed. Meghan is just all around amazing. So it was just fun to get to know each of them individually. Definitely there were different conversations than with the males, so it was just kind of switching modes. But it was a definitely a privilege either way.
iRF: Did you find you were still able to run your own race? Sure, when you’re just running Bull Run Run and there are no women running with you for a ways, you’re running your own race. How does that change when you’re in the thick of it and running neck and neck with five other top women?
Lapierre: It’s definitely more nerve-wracking for me. I don’t really feel like I know how to race because often I’m just doing my own thing leading the way. So chasing and being behind and not letting that mentally impact me is something I’m working on. But again, it’s just fun to be around other females and share miles with them.
iRF: So what do you plan to do as a strategy; do you have a plan?
Lapierre: No plan. Obviously, I have a time goal in my head, but a lot can go right and go wrong. Really, I just want to go out and run comfortably up to Green Gate and then see what I have left in the tank. A lot can happen, for me and for anyone, so really I’m just going to see how the day unfolds.
iRF: What are you most excited about?
Lapierre: Getting up and over the escarpment—the first 4.5 miles are a little daunting for me.
iRF: Is it the atmosphere or all the people? You are a great climber.
Lapierre: I think it’s the pre-race nerves and everyone kind of sorting themselves out – just kind of letting things settle out. You can kind of look back and see Lake Tahoe…
iRF: So in your mind when you take that turn at the top, you can sort of look back and put all those pre-race jitters behind you and go forward from there.
Lapierre: Yeah, everything kind of falls into place after that.
iRF: Good luck this weekend and enjoy the race!