Krissy Moehl has been an ultrarunning force to be reckoned with for over a decade, but she still managed to run a 100-mile PR at the 2012 Western States by finishing in 18:29:15. That effort also earned her a hard-fought fourth place. In the following interview, find out how her race went, her take on the value and use of pacers, and what’s up next for her.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Krissy Moehl Post-2012 Western States Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell here of iRunFar with Krissy Moehl of Patagonia and UltrAspire and Roch Horton after the finish of the 2012 Western States 100. How are you guys doing?
Krissy Moehl: Good, thanks.
Roch Horton: Good, thank you, Bryon.
iRF: Krissy, you had a wonderful race yesterday. You were 4th in a PR 100-mile time yesterday, correct?
Moehl: That was the end result.
iRF: Under 18:30, correct? 18:29 and change?
Moehl: 18:29 and change.
iRF: What was your goal coming into the race?
Moehl: Looking at the stacked field, I had to really focus on running my own race. I had gotten caught up in trying to run against everybody, and this time it was just like run within myself and see what could happen. I had a personal goal of being in before midnight. I thought it would be cool to be done in the same day, but that was like if everything went really well.
iRF: When did your goal change from 19 hours to 18:30?
Moehl: Justin Angle. Roch got me down to the river very well and put it in Justin’s head that my best 100-mile time was 18:41 at Vermont. “So, let’s go get it.” We were coming up Robie Point and he was like, “I’m not promising anything, but it might be possible.” So he stayed on me. Then these guys met us at Robie Point, John and Roch met us at Robie Point, and they didn’t let me stop.
iRF: Well I’ve always thought of you as one of the smartest racers out there, men or women. When I wear my “Run Like a Girl” hat, I think of runners like you: strong, smart, confident. But yesterday was another level of running a smart race. You were back in 10th or 12th maybe well into the race.
Moehl: Yeah, I came into Forest Hill in eighth. And to be honest, it wasn’t necessarily a smart race; I wasn’t feeling good. I’d love to claim that it was a smart race, but I wasn’t feeling good. These guys kept taking care of me, and I put down tons of calories. When the time came to work, it was there. I came back around. I think the cold took a bigger toll than I imagined it could have.
iRF: How so? You’ve been here in the heat before. How does the cold affect you?
Moehl: It reminded me of Mount Blanc last year. You’re just working really hard and your metabolism is raging.
iRF: How did you recover from it, the cold today?
Moehl: I think once we got into the canyons and it warmed up. I never got hot. Maybe you (Horton) said a couple of times that I looked a little cooked?
Moehl: I didn’t feel anything close to 2009.
iRF: Did you have any particularly low spots? I know the cold took some out of you but late in the race when you’re charging?
Moehl: What would you say? [to Horton]
Horton: At Robinson, she definitely looked cold and sort of a little out of it. She was trying to figure out how to weave her race strategy back into the terrain ahead. I think by Michigan Bluff she did successfully. She was back on the old sort of Krissy style—much more warmed up, relaxed, the big smile and all that. Then by Forest Hill, that’s sort of the crux and the pacing starts in. I knew her goal, and I’ve spent enough time running with her that I knew to push her right to the edge and then back off a little bit. That’s where she’s most economic. Then she’s got that second half, that kick, that experience. So if you can be really deliberate and making those commands to her, keep her fed, it’s pretty much a textbook way to run a race. I felt like I had her right on that edge, and when we started catching both female and male competitors, we got down to the river on a split that was 16 minutes ahead of her goal. I just needed to get her a 3 hours split through the Cal Street section, and she ran a 2:44 or something like that. I was like, “Good girl. You’ve got some capacity to take it into your goal.” So we did. By the time we got to the river, I wouldn’t say she was still fresh as a daisy; she was like any other runner that gets there. I dunked her and gave her the baptism in the river while we waited for the raft, which was sort of nerve-wracking because there’s always that feeling that you’re going to get caught. You’ve worked so hard to get by, and yet it’s a silly raft ride that turns the race around. But we got that guy to row really fast. Then Justin did his magic and we got her into the night. I was just so proud to see her gaining time at Browns Bar. And at Highway 49, she was just solid and focused like she does. I think there was a little bit of magic that was going to happen. Seeing how the field was unfolding, which was a whole story in and of itself…
iRF: Where were people at Browns Bar? What was the layout? Were you 6th?
Moehl: Browns Bar I was still sixth.
Horton: Yeah. Lizzy and Nikki and everyone were right there. Of course Ellie was way out there, but even Rory was within sort of dream shot. She finally did after that, I could tell she was strategizing, and I was sure with Justin pacing we could pick up Nikki. Then as it turned out it was both Nikki and Lizzy. At that point she knows what to do and the pacer just sits back.
iRF: That leads me to ask the question, for you, how important is knowing your pacer and having a relationship?
Moehl: I’d say it’s key. They showed up during the pre-race meeting, and those two guys were standing in the corner and I was like, “I’m set. Spot on.” I have run so many miles with each of them, and to have them both here on a Western States race was pretty cool.
iRF: What aspects of the race do they affect? Is it just the technical aspects—food and fuel—or is it mental?
Moehl: I think it’s the psychological side of it. They know how to talk to me. Actually Justin had never paced me before. I had paced him at [the Angeles Crest 100] a couple of times, but I think in our training, he knows what to say and when to say it. Maybe it’s stuff that works for him, too. And Roch, we’ve paced each other back and forth I can’t even count how many times.
iRF: So, Roch, being on the pacer side of things, you’ve also paced a lot of other people. Do you change how you pace and the strategies you use to encourage them depending on who it is?
Horton: Well, sure, just knowing their personality and how they feel comfortable with me. They’re all best friends off the race course, but when you’re in an ultra, especially during the night and the demons start crawling, there are ways that you have to get in their heads and that’s a whole different story. So it depends on the person and the conditions, but the general strategy is that they have a race plan and it’s my job to help them stick with it. It’s pretty simple. She had a race plan; it was written out. While we were driving from checkpoint to checkpoint we’d sort of rehearse how we were going to do it—who’d stand on her left, who’d stand on her right, (Moehl: As I was saying, I had the best crew.) who’s going to work fluids, who’s going to work solids, who changes her hat. All that stuff we had pre-rehearsed.
iRF: That’s a Formula 1 pit crew right there.
Horton: Pretty much.
Moehl: That’s what I said. Those two can start a business.
Horton: She had it all written down for us, so we knew that was her vision, but we just needed to play that out and get it as fast as possible. We tried not to miss any of the little details. If the Ultragen doesn’t have the right amount of ice it can kind of throw her off, just little details like that. As a return, she pays us back with performance when she eats a lot. You know she’s got fuel in the motor; all you’ve got to do is make sure she’s stepping on the throttle. It’s a neat feeling. It’s something I think this sport offers. Climbers, there’s that climber-belayer relationship, maybe horse and rider, Nascar driver and longneck bud, there’s probably a relationship there. But I think there’s a beautiful thing with pacer-runner relationship when it’s done well, it’s sort of 1+1=3.
iRF: Well, Krissy, you have an ambitious summer. This was leg 1 with Hardrock and UTMB coming up.
Moehl: Um, ask me in a week. I definitely questioned whether it was a smart outset when I was starting off, but having that confidence build as the race progressed… and Hardrock is a totally different event. This is even a bit of training for Hardrock.
iRF: It’s hard not to be stoked about going to the San Juans.
Moehl: Well, they’re kind of in my backyard now.
iRF: Well, congratulations on your run today, and we’ll see you in Silverton in a couple of weeks.
Moehl: Thanks! You’ll be out there?
Horton: Nice work, Krissy.
Moehl: Thanks, Roch-o.