After winning setting a course record at last year’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, Joelle Vaught finished second at this year’s race after holding a lead late in the race. In the following interview, Vaught talks about when she passed Cassie Scallon to take the lead and when Scallon passed her back, her race nutrition problems, and what her path to Western States looks like.
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Joelle Vaught Post-2013 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Joelle Vaught after the 23013 Lake Sonoma 50 miler. You were second this year. How did it go?
Joelle Vaught: I was second this year. Oh, well half good and half bad… maybe two thirds good and a third bad. I felt good until mile 35-40. Then I had some strange leg issues. My leg on the uphill would basically go to sleep or lose feeling.
iRF: Which part of your leg?
Vaught: My whole darn leg.
iRF: Whole leg?
Vaught: Yes. I’ve never had that happen before. The hills, which I usually like, were pretty rough. Then I’d start the downhill and it would come back, so then I could go. It was really strange.
iRF: Just some weird hitch in your stride?
Vaught: Yes, and then I got some calf cramping, which I’ve never had in my life.
iRF: Just one leg?
Vaught: Same leg. Right leg. Chop it off.
iRF: You’ll regret that tomorrow.
Vaught: Yeah, I know. The course was great. I expected to run a lot faster because conditions this year were a lot better than last year. The creek crossings were super low and there was no mud.
iRF: No mush.
Vaught: So I was kind of disappointed that I ran slower.
iRF: Early on you were behind Cassie [Scallon] pretty consistently. She wasn’t building a huge gap, but you were a couple minutes back.
Vaught: Yes, I’d go by people and they’d say, “You’re down 5 minutes.” The next person would say, “You’re down 4 minutes.” The next person would say, “You’re down 3 minutes.” Then the next person would say, “You’re down 5 minutes.” Ok.
iRF: You were at the turn around at about the same gap. When did you know you were really reeling her in?
Vaught: When we were coming back and you’re passing everybody still going out, they’d be saying, “You’re 3 minutes.” “You’re 2 minutes.” “You’re really close to her.” Then I was running with Felix from Salomon—we couldn’t talk but it was really fun to run with him—and he spotted her up at the top of the hill and pointed. I thought, Okay. I think he was trying to help me reel her in. She hit a really rough spot and was hiking a little bit. We passed her pretty decisively. I wasn’t sure if she was done or not, but she came back strong as ever. She passed me even more decisively, and then I never saw her again.
iRF: When did the pass-back happen?
Vaught: I think it was probably mile 44 or between 40-43 or somewhere in there. She asked me how far to the next aid station, and I thought it was probably 3 miles and that was at the 45 mile aid station. I just couldn’t do anything. I was like, I’d better hang on for second, which I barely did. Barely. Then at the end here, I came the wrong way. I came through the parking lot because I saw the finish and I was just focused. Some lady told me, “Um, I think you’re supposed to come out that trail.” So then I had to run back out that trail to get back to where I wrong-turned and then come back. If I see a girl coming here I will be so sad.
iRF: The trail you ran in on last year?
Vaught: Yes. Exactly! You think I’d know that! I was just focused on that finish line.
iRF: You wanted to be there as soon as you could.
Vaught: Yes, that added to it.
iRF: Last year you had some poor nutritional planning. You just mentioned that this year. Same plan?
Vaught: Pretty much the same plan. Yeah, you know, I struggle with my eating.
iRF: Not getting in enough calories?
Vaught: I just can’t eat the gels and stuff like that. You kind of need to, I think, because it’s just such an easy digestible thing. So I use Clif Bloks, but I eat like one every 45-60 minutes or something.
iRF: What about some Jelly Belly Belly Flops?
Vaught: I’m going to maybe get some Jelly Belly’s for Western [States] this year. I feel like I drank enough… which I don’t know why I cramped in my calf. You know, it was warm, but it had a breeze and I never felt overheated.
iRF: It could just be the salt.
Vaught: Yes. Something. I do actually have these new little orthotics things in because I have some bursitis under my achilles. I’ve never run that long with these. I’ve had them for about two weeks. It could be just that little bit of different…
iRF: That little change in your gait.
Vaught: Yes, I’m going to blame it on that.
iRF: That could change with a little bit of time and some miles.
Vaught: Yes, I’ve got to get used to them. Without them I can’t stand it.
iRF: You’ve got Western States again this year?
Vaught: I do. I’ll try it again.
iRF: Are you looking to nail that 100 mile distance?
Vaught: You know, it’s fun to try. It’s fun to have that challenge. It’s such a cool event. It’s just hard for me to get those long, long hours of training in. I’m going to do Silver State 50 and then Pocatello 50 is two weeks after. So I’ll try to do those two 50’s close together. That will be my stellar training.
iRF: Do you plan to race them?
Vaught: Yes. Well, Pocatello, there’s usually not a ton of competition there. It’s super mountainous, which is kind of what I like.
iRF: It won’t feel like a long day at work.
Vaught: No, it’s beautiful. It’s a great race. Have you run that?
iRF: I’ve been up there twice.
Vaught: Oh, yeah. I love that course. That will be fun.
iRF: Obviously Western States is the focus of the near future or the next couple months.
Vaught: Yes, through June.
iRF: Any plans further out?
Vaught: I’m going to do Waldo 100k again because I love Waldo. It’s probably one of my favorite races. There are a couple local—there’s the McCall Trail Running Classic, which is just probably 90 miles from Boise. It’s a super crazy 40 mile course that took about 8 hours for 40 miles. It’s crazy mountainous.
iRF: That’s burly.
Vaught: Yes, I’ll probably do that. Then there’s a race in Sun Valley that’s only about 16 miles. So it’s just some fun races around.
iRF: Started off your season pretty well here.
Vaught: Yes, you know this is such a fun race. This weather—gonna get a little tan or sun burn or something. We don’t have this warm weather yet. It’s going to be tough to go home tomorrow to 50 degrees.
iRF: Us high desert folks… 50 degrees? It’s not snowing?
Vaught: No. We actually had some almost 70s around Easter time, but it’s gone back down.
iRF: Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Congrats on a great run.
Vaught: Yes, definitely. Good to see you.