Aliza Lapierre was sixth at Western States in 2011 and third at last year’s race, yet she remains low key and out of the spotlight. In the following interview, Aliza talks about her foot surgery, how she plans to race Western States in a hot year, and how she trained for the race in two-and-a-half months.
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Aliza Lapierre Pre-2013 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Aliza Lapierre before the Western States 100. How are you doing, Aliza?
Aliza Lapierre: I’m well, thank you, Bryon.
iRF: If I remember correctly, you did pretty well here last year.
Lapierre: Pretty well. I was happy with my day.
iRF: Third place at 18:30-ish?
Lapierre: That’s correct. 18:18.
iRF: Sorry, I need to give you all the credit you’re due—18:18. Since then, you’ve had a major change. You have a lighter foot.
Lapierre: I did. I had a bone taken out.
iRF: It’s a good scar.
Lapierre: Not really.
iRF: Really? You wanted a bigger scar?
Lapierre: Not really.
iRF: How much actual bone did they take out?
Lapierre: A very small piece, kind of like a smushed pea.
iRF: A smushed pea that’s all bone? Can you tell it’s lighter? Do you have a quick foot?
Lapierre: Oh yeah, my turnover is incredible but only on the left side.
iRF: Well, that will help you on some good sections on the climb out of Squaw.
Lapierre: I know.
iRF: You know this course. You’ve run it a couple times, but you’ve never run it in a really hot year. Are you going to approach this course differently this year?
Lapierre: Definitely. It’s going to be a lot hotter and a lot drier, so it’s going to be dusty which will kind of come into play. I think I’m going to have to respect the course even more than usual, really slow things down, and make sure I’m on top of my hydration.
iRF: Also having been here, a lot of women are returning. Do you see anybody taking it out early on Saturday?
Lapierre: I think Rory (Bosio) is probably going to be out in the lead not because she’s trying to push it but because she’s a strong runner and she knows the course really well. I think some of the newer people like Emily (Harrison) are going to be up there as well. But I think it’s going to be a relaxed start and things will start to sort out within the first 30 to 40 miles.
iRF: Any part of the day you’re specifically going to take easy?
Lapierre: I think once the temperature comes up above 90F, I’m going to slow my pace down and try to keep my temperature as low as I can and hopefully that will pay off later in the race.
iRF: Has it been a hot spring in Vermont so far?
Lapierre: No, we’ve been in the 50’s (F), so I’ve been doing a lot of runs with my hat and gloves and jacket because it’s been cold and not because of heat training. I’ve been in the sauna quite a bit.
iRF: What does your sauna training look like?
Lapierre: It looks like me sitting in a hot sauna. It runs about 180 degrees, and I’ve been in there anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes five days/week.
iRF: After your foot surgery—well, you had a long lead up to that as you had a period of time where you were trying to heal your foot and a period of time after you had the bone taken out—when did you start training again?
Lapierre: I think it was the end of March that I started training.
iRF: That had to have led to a different approach to training for Western States this year. What did you try to focus on in your two to 2.5 months of training?
Lapierre: Quality and quantity which is a hard balance, getting as much uphill and downhill, and mileage which is kind of a gamble when you’re coming from off-the-couch. My coach did a really good job sorting things out for me. It was important to listen to my body and respect what it was saying and kind of take it day by day.
iRF: So you’re rested up and feeling good?
Lapierre: I’m getting there.
iRF: You’ve got two days.
Lapierre: I’ve got two days. It’s always a little daunting when you get here and you see the first climb, but I’m excited.
iRF: Well, enjoy that first climb and the 96 miles that follow it.
Lapierre: Thank you, Bryon. You, too! Good luck to you.