Kristina Folcik had a breakout race in winning the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50. In the following interview, Kristina talks about her running background, how she tries to enjoy herself while racing, and her rapid improvement from chasing ultra cutoffs to winning major races.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Kristina Folcik, 2013 Cayuga Trails 50 Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: This is Meghan of iRunFar, and I’m here with the women’s winner of the inaugural Cayuga Trails 50. This is New Hampshire’s Kristina Folcik. How’s it going, Kristina? Congratulations!
Kristina Folcik: It’s great, thanks!
iRF: What great hair color! You have multiple colors going on there.
Folcik: I had it done Wednesday for the race.
iRF: I think you must have planned it to match your shirt and your headband.
Folcik: And the nail polish.
iRF: And your nail polish. You’ve got a thing for trail fashion.
Folcik: I do.
iRF: Tell us about yourself. We don’t know that much about you. We know that you’re from New Hampshire and you’re 35 years old. So give us a little background on you.
Folcik: I’ve basically just ran an ultra every year for fun for many, many years until 2011 until I broke my pubic bone from not training for the races. Then last year I hired a running coach, Jack Pilla out of Vermont. He’s just awesome. Somehow he made me fast. I hired a physical therapist, Amber Ferreira, out of New Hampshire. She’s a pro triathlete and she fixed me up. Between the two of them, I got to feeling pretty good. Then I started working with Meredith Terranova this year with nutrition, and she’s been actually keeping me from losing too much weight because that was my problem. I kept getting too skinny. So I hired her to help me keep it on.
iRF: So between the minds of several different experts, we have the winner of the Cayuga Trails 50.
iRF: Tell us about your professional background. What do you do when you’re not running?
Folcik: I’m a part-time dental hygienist now, but I also coach beginning runners. I also started a couch-to-12-mile hill race. It’s over a six-month period, and I have 12 girls that I’m coaching. The coolest part is, six weeks ago, they couldn’t run more than a few minutes, and they just ran six miles the other day.
iRF: Six miles? That’s great for a group of beginners!
Folcik: It’s awesome. These are women who have never worked out before. They’re grown-ups and they’re doing great!
iRF: You’re a La Sportiva athlete I see. How long have you been on the La Sportiva team?
Folcik: Just this year. I never had sponsors before this year.
iRF: What shoe did you wear today?
Folcik: I wore the La Sportiva Helios. That’s by far my favorite.
iRF: There were lots of reports coming off the course that there some slippery tree roots and rocks and that there was a lot of mud. How did the Helios do today?
Folcik: Awesome especially with it raining. They drain really well and are very comfortable on varied terrain. I don’t think there’s a shoe on the market that would have helped in some of the muddy sections. They performed really, really well.
iRF: As evidenced by the mud streaks down there on your legs. Tell us how the race played out today. Let’s start with the terrain. I know that the course traversed two different gorges. You went up and down each gorge twice over the course of the race. Then you spent a lot of time winding and weaving through all kinds of trails in the forest. What were some of your favorite parts of the course today?
Folcik: The gorges. The waterfalls were just massive. It was probably the most scenic course I’ve ever been on. Even if you started hurting really bad and not feeling good, you just looked around and it was really pretty.
iRF: There were a couple spots in the gorges where the terrain got a little severe where it was steep up or steep down and then in between the gorges it was pretty runnable. What did you find hard and what did you find your strengths were over the course of the day?
Folcik: I’ve never done a runnable 50. They are always hikers.
iRF: You pick the ones with a lot of up and a lot of down that allow you to walk.
Folcik: Yes. I thought this one would be that especially after I saw the course change. I really have to run all of this? That was really hard for me, running the whole thing.
iRF: Was it more the mental commitment to it, or was your body rejecting…?
Folcik: My legs were not happy. They were numb the last 12 miles.
iRF: You seemed at every aid station that I saw you at to have a permagrin on your face.
Folcik: That’s my style of racing. I always smile and just have fun.
iRF: You were happy out there all day? No fake-it-till-you-make-it?
Folcik: No, no, no. And I did cry tears of joy a few times.
iRF: You had with you a really cute wire-haired dog.
Folcik: A wire-haired fox terrier.
iRF: And you also had with you a really cute man.
Folcik: My fiancé, Ryan.
iRF: That composes your family unit at home?
Folcik: It does.
iRF: Are the dog and the man both runners, too?
Folcik: They are both ultrarunners. They’re my best training partners.
iRF: Give me a glimpse into your training at home. You said you had hired a nutrition coach and you’d hired a running coach and you have a physical therapist. What’s different in your training this year versus previous years that has enabled your victory today?
Folcik: I never trained before. I’d just show up and do it because it was fun and I was chasing the deadlines of hanging out at the aid stations. I’d barely make the cut-offs.
iRF: Is this actually true? You were barely making cut-offs?
Folcik: It is true. Look at some of my results.
iRF: What year should we look at?
Folcik: Start at 2005.
iRF: In 2005 you were chasing cut-offs. Now you are chasing victories.
iRF: Tell me a little bit about how the competition went down. Early in the race you were running in a steady second place behind Cassie Scallon. She obviously dropped out due to injury. How did the rest of the competition play out for you?
Folcik: I actually ran with Sandi [Nypaver] and Amy [Rusiecki] for quite awhile. They’re both incredible runners, and of course, being girls, we were chitchatting the whole time and having fun. I’m not sure at what point I pulled ahead. I honestly thought they were going to come catch me. I caught Cassie half way through, near the turnaround, and she was injured. I felt really bad passing her because I really admire her and she’s an incredible runner. But I knew if I stayed behind her I’d have gotten caught by a lot of people. Her race was over at that point. Once I got to the turnaround point at mile 25, I just wanted to hold my lead. I just ran my heart out.
iRF: You ran with your heart.
iRF: Congratulations on your victory. Good luck with your recovery. Give us the name of a race we’ll see you at next this year.
Folcik: The Hampshire 100 and UROC 100k I’ll be at.
iRF: Thanks again for joining us for the interview and congratulations.
Folcik: Thank you.