Ellie Greenwood made her return to ultrarunning after a long injury layoff with a win at the 2014 Chuckanut 50k. In the following interview, Ellie talks about the kind of training she’s been doing in preparation for her 2014 season, her one goal race this year, how she felt throughout the race, and when and how she passed Jodee Adams-Moore to take the lead after running in second for most of the race.
For more information about the race, check out our results article.
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Ellie Greenwood, 2014 Chuckanut 50k Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: This is Kim Wrinkle of iRunFar with today’s champion of the Chuckanut 50k, Ellie Greenwood. Welcome back to racing, Ellie.
Ellie Greenwood. Thank you so much. It’s good to be back.
iRunFar: Tell us how the race played out today.
Greenwood: I’d say for probably about the first 30k or so I felt like I was just running. I didn’t feel like I was racing at all. I kind of resolved that that was fine, and I came into the race honestly saying Jodee [Adams-Moore] is going to win and that’s fine. I just wanted to have a solid run. It was kind of funny because by 30k, I happened to see Yassine Diboun, and I said to Yassine, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m not an ultrarunner anymore.’ And then the ‘ultrarunner’ kicked in because 30k to 50k is when I really… I mean that was when most of the uphill was over, which the uphill was what I was struggling on a lot today, so 30k to the end was downhill and flat a lot and then I started racing and got into it.
iRunFar: I’m sure you’re pleased to be healthy again.
Greenwood: Yes, I’m very pleased. I came to Chuckanut knowing I could race 50k. That’s all I said. I want to race 50k. I want to get a respectable time. I didn’t want to come back to a race and say, Well, maybe I’ll drop out part way; or, Maybe I won’t be feeling at all fit. I wanted to be decent. There were a few aches and pains, but that is my longest run in 11.5 months.
iRunFar: Talk about the training since getting healthy. Have you changed your approach to training or are you back to the old 100-mile-racing-Ellie Greenwood?
Greenwood: No, not yet. I’m still working up my mileage. I’m getting up to what I feel is reasonable in mileage that I’m happy with. I’ve had one 100-mile week, but most weeks I haven’t gotten up to that, but that’s fine. I’ve also been going… once a week I do speed workouts like 5 x 1k or that kind of stuff—so slightly longer speedwork with a running club I’m a member of. That’s been good to have that kind of motivation to get me going. I think that’s got my speed going even though I haven’t quite done the volume that I was doing a year ago. So that’s been a way to get my fitness back up and to focus on, especially at the start where maybe I was doing a 100k week—if I can’t do quantity, I’ll do quality so I get something out of every run I do.
iRunFar: Tell us the rest of what’s on the agenda for 2014. Big plans?
Greenwood: The one plan I’ve said the whole time is if I was only going to do one race in 2014 it will be Comrades. That’s June 1. It’s a down year and 89k. That’s definitely my focus and one I really, really want to do. Other than that, yes, I’m going to be back doing ultras for sure. I haven’t made any other decisions because I feel like I’m still easing back into things. I think I’ll stay with 50k and 50 milers this year. I don’t really want to jump into a 100 miler. I’ve only ever actually done two 100 milers which happens to be Western States twice.
iRunFar: You’ve done very well.
Greenwood: So it’s not something that I feel like, Sure, I can do 100 milers. Obviously you kind of lose your confidence going on with injuries, so I want to bring that back by races like today at Chuckanut. Okay, I can run 50k and I can race 50k at a decent pace. So, yeah, Comrades and then we’ll see.
iRunFar: Is the approach any different training for a road ultra versus training for a trail ultra—more time training on the roads or not so much?
Greenwood: One thing I think I’ve learned that maybe contributed to my injuries last year is I think I still have to train a lot on trails if I’m going to train for a road race. But there does come a point that, yes, you have to do a certain amount on the roads. But just like even today, the descent at the end and then the flats, I’m like, this is great Comrades training, because Comrades is a down run. But yeah, I’ve been doing quite a bit of running on the trails which is super, but it would be realistic that I should start transitioning to doing slightly longer runs on the roads and hopefully my body holds up on the roads as well.
iRunFar: You say it’s a down year—is there just a victory in mind or would you also like to be the course-record holder for the down year at Comrades?
Greenwood: Oh my goodness. That would be rather ambitious. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I think it’s at least 15 minutes faster than I’ve run on the down run. Yeah, so no. The level of competition at Comrades is huge. And unlike a race like today where maybe you know quite a lot of the names, you can go to Comrades and are people from all over the world. So you don’t necessarily know everyone. So it would be to go in the best possible shape and wherever that brings me…
iRunFar: Really good day for the sponsors, too. Montrail, Mountain Hardwear, Flora—two winners—the men’s record and you won the women’s.
Greenwood: Well I was saying to Max [King], it was funny, when we were still out on the trail and Jodee was still ahead of me and I was like, Oh, I’m going to be second. I hope Max is second as well,’ which he didn’t appreciate when I said that. So I’m very glad to see that Max got the course record today.
iRunFar: Where did she come back to you or was it more you coming up to her?
Greenwood: I think it was a bit of both. Honestly, I was like, Well if Jodee is going to run about four hours, I don’t think I am ready to do that. I felt like I was moving so slowly on some of the uphill sections. I was honestly doing way more hiking than I would have liked, but I just said, Well, I’m going to plow on through and carry on going. Then it was just before the aid station before you go up to Chinscraper, leading up into that, I started seeing the people and hikers that are always out and they were saying, ‘Oh, you’re six minutes behind.’ I’d expected them to say I was a half hour behind. So that six minutes got me like, Oh, well, maybe. Then I gradually crept my way up. Then it was about 7k to go that I overtook Jodee. I think it was a bit of both as I sort of picked off a few men on that Interurban Trail toward the end, so obviously I had decent speed. I think Jodee may have just fallen off her pace just a little bit.
iRunFar: Yeah, we had a report from the last aid station that you were three minutes behind her, I think they said at 24.5?
Greenwood: 24.5… miles… okay, I’ve got to convert here. Yes, coming back onto the Interurban on the way back, which for me is about 11k to go, people were saying it’s about two minutes—I’m not entirely sure. Then the nice thing about the Interurban is then I could then see her when I was probably around 45 seconds behind. I obviously knew that I’d been gaining. I knew I was going at a reasonable speed. So, yeah.
iRunFar: Outstanding run today. Best wishes with Comrades and beyond. I look forward to speaking with you again sometime.
Greenwood: Yes, thank you so much. Thanks, iRunFar.