Aliza Lapierre started her season off early with a win at the Bandera 100k in January. She’s escaped the cold clime of Vermont to race the much more temperate TNF Transgrancanaria this weekend. In the following interview, Aliza talks about racing long distances early in the season, dealing with the difficulties of travel, and why she’s running TGC.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Aliza Lapierre Pre-2015 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Aliza Lapierre before the 2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria. How are you, Aliza?
Aliza Lapierre: I’m doing well, Bryon. How are you?
iRunFar: Alright. It’s the beginning of March. We’re in the Canary Islands. But you’ve already kicked off your season. You ran very early in the year at Bandera 100k.
Lapierre: Yes, that was a little bit of a surprise to run in January, but somehow I pulled through. The conditions there were great for me. It was 30 degrees and raining, snowing, icy, and muddy, so it suited my training well.
iRunFar: You won that 100k and got into Western States. You really didn’t have a lot of preparation for that one.
iRunFar: Only a couple weeks?
Lapierre: I think we had three weeks of training—one kind of getting back into the groove and three weeks on. So with taper it was pretty quick.
iRunFar: How has your running gone since then?
Lapierre: It’s gone pretty well. It’s been difficult and really cold in Vermont—from 0 to -40 [Fahrenheit] with the wind and snow every night. So training outdoors has been tough—lots of layers, lots of anger with the conditions, but I’ve gotten through it somehow.
iRunFar: How do you get yourself out the door when it’s -40 with the wind chill?
Lapierre: I think sometimes my husband has to shove me out the door, but it happens. I think the hardest part is getting out there and getting moving and getting warmed up, but once you’re out there things fall into place. Nothing happens fast. You’re not doing any speedwork or hitting any PRs out there.
iRunFar: Have there been any mishaps? Any water bottles freezing or gel?
Lapierre: Oh, you don’t even carry water with you because it will freeze right away. Gels freeze. I did one 28 miler with no water and one gel. I was able to chew on it and get it down, but it’s impossible.
iRunFar: Wow. Now here you are here in the Canary Islands. It’s quite a change of pace.
Lapierre: I know. I’m loving it.
iRunFar: You’ve come in about a week before the race. Was that intentional to get used to the conditions?
Lapierre: It was intentional, also to kind of check out the trail and practice being back on the trail and kind of getting my feet back underneath me with footwork. I’m just kind of finding the flow since I’ve been mostly on dirt roads and buffed out snow paths. With the amount of travel it takes to get here, it’s nice not to feel stressed and pressed for time if we got delayed or had a mishap.
iRunFar: Have you changed that over the years such that it’s a new approach to you?
Lapierre: It all depends on my work schedule. If I can take the time I like to, but there are races where you fly in the night before and get up the next morning and race. It’s kind of how the cookie crumbles.
iRunFar: You feel pretty well adjusted now?
Lapierre: Yeah, it’s been nice to experience the dry heat and get used to the food and just be back in the sun. It feels good.
iRunFar: It’s always a challenge when you travel, and you tend to have a pretty refined diet—or unrefined as it were—gluten-free stuff, vegetarian. How is that when you travel to a place like Gran Canaria for example?
Lapierre: Yeah, I probably packed 20 pounds of food, from gels and bars and shot blocks to gluten-free bread, pasta, quinoa. I also made a jar of mixed nut butter to bring and made the mistake of putting that in a glass Mason jar. That ended up exploding all over my bag, so glass and almond butter everywhere with a note from TSA with sticky fingerprints all over it.
Lapierre: Oops. Lesson learned.
iRunFar: You’re able to find a way to…?
Lapierre: Yeah, I’ve definitely been exploring all the grocery stores and trying to figure out, like I was looking for chickpeas which at home is pretty standard to find. I went to four grocery stores and couldn’t find chickpeas or black beans. So it’s a little bit harder knowing that, Well, if I’m not going to get protein from beans, I’ve got to do something else. It’s not ideal, but you find a way.
iRunFar: How about the island and the course—was it what you expected?
Lapierre: I don’t really know what I expected, but I think the course is maybe a little more technical than I envisioned. I like technical, so I’m excited for that. I think later on in the race, my feet and my body might not like technical, but it keeps your mind engaged and busy. It seems like there’s going to be a lot of varied terrain—some buffed-out stuff and some rocky stuff. So, I’m excited. There are great views, and I think the competition is going to be great. It will be good to race against some new people and just experience the island on foot.
iRunFar: So you’re feeling good for it?
Lapierre: Hard to say. I think I feel good. I want to feel good. We’ll see what happens on Friday.
iRunFar: Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this the first time you’ve run more than 100k this early in the year?
Lapierre: I believe you’re correct. I usually don’t like to race until April, and that’s usually a 50-mile kind of tune-up race to get the season going. So Bandera and this will definitely be an early start to the season. Hopefully I can stay healthy and happy.
iRunFar: What drew you to this?
Lapierre: Just the opportunity to travel and to race against new people and higher competition.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there. Enjoy.
Lapierre: Thanks, Bryon. Thanks for covering.