Michele Yates has long watched videos about the Western States 100 and, now, she’s finally in Squaw Valley ready to toe the line. In the following interview, Michele talks about why she doesn’t think she races “aggressively,” what she thinks her potential is at Western States, and what it’s like running in her first season as a mom.
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Michele Yates Pre-2015 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Michele Yates before the 2015 Western States 100. How are you, Michele?
Michele Yates: Great, thanks.
iRunFar: This is the first time you’ve seen the Western States course.
Yates: Yes. It’s super exciting. I’m stoked. Just looking at it, obviously it can be deceiving. I’m very aware of that even with Colorado mountains. But even coming in, it’s very exciting to me because they look a lot smaller than the Colorado Rockies. It’s exciting for me, and I’m really happy to be here.
iRunFar: What brings you here?
Yates: Oh, I think… the competition, but the tradition, too. Of course, it’s always been a bucket list thing. I grew up watching the videos and movies about Western States and trail running in general and most of them are about Western States.
iRunFar: How is that that you got to watch that stuff when you were younger?
Yates: Those were the running movies. That’s what running movies were—that and Steve Prefontaine. Those were what I watched. Of course watching the trail ones, it was very interesting and intriguing.
iRunFar: Now you’re finally here and part of the intrigue.
Yates: Yes. Yes.
iRunFar: You like to compete.
Yates: I do.
iRunFar: There is no secret about that. You have Stephanie Howe here and Magdalena Boulet and a bunch of other very strong women. Probably the strongest field you’ve run against at 100 miles, right?
Yates: Yes, at 100 miles for sure. I’ve only done a few 100 milers. Like I’ve said before, at 100 miles, it’s really anybody’s game. I learned that from early on. Magda and Steph are strong. [Nikki] Kimball… the list goes on and on. We know that there are strong runners here, but it is a 100-mile race and anything can happen in a 100-mile race. So, be prepared, hope for the best, try to do your best, and then go from there.
iRunFar: Are you going to run in typical Michele Yates style and go for it from the go?
Yates: I hear I’m the aggressor, I’m the aggressor. It’s funny because I guess to everyone else it probably looks that way, but it’s not like I go out and totally redline it or anything like that. I go out and I run to my potential. I don’t push past a certain rate as far as heart rate goes and all that kind of stuff. I really take care of myself. I make sure I eat and drink and all that. I guess to some people it looks aggressive, but to me it’s knowing my potential and running my own race and seeing what I can really do. I’m really excited this year because you may have seen on some of the other interviews that I really worked on my uphill training, so I’m really happy and excited to see what I can do on that. The downhill is going to be fun for me because in the last couple weeks I’ve really been able to fine tune some of the post-partum stuff. My core is there again and I feel like I can free-bomb it. So I’m going to have to be a little bit conservative, but at the same time, I know that I’m just going to enjoy the heck out of it. I’ll let it flow.
iRunFar: So if you grew up watching the Western States videos, that means you grew up watching Ann Trason.
Yates: I did, yes.
iRunFar: So you probably know what kind of times she ran on this course.
iRunFar: Is your potential in line with that?
Yates: I think so. Ellie [Greenwood] obviously has the record. I really had hoped to race against Ellie Greenwood, but it seems that our schedules never match up. In her spirit, I will be racing against her course record. Maybe it will work out for me, and maybe it won’t. I’ll definitely go for… running to my potential. I really don’t know what that is right now. I know I feel great. I feel strong. I’m excited. I’m thrilled to be out here. I love Maya, my daughter, but I’m happy to have a day off and…
iRunFar: It will be a day off.
Yates: Yeah, I’ll be doing what I love with the people that I love, and Maya will be here helping crew and my best friend is here and, of course, my husband—it’s just going to be an experience to remember.
iRunFar: You haven’t raced that much since you had Maya. You did very well at the Gorge Waterfalls 100k. That’s pretty much it since…
Yates: Yes, I’m at least twice as better as I was at Gorge. Gorge really felt like… I still had the pooch going and the swollen uterus. My technical downhill ability just wasn’t there. I could still feel that core strength shifting around and everything. Lately, especially in the last month, everything has really come together. It’s pretty much there. If it’s there for a 100 miles, we’ll see. I’d like to hope so. I’ve trained for it, so hopefully it will be good.
iRunFar: With Maya in the picture, have you had to switch up your training in volume or schedule or anything like that? What adjustments have you made as a mom?
Yates: My adjustment is actually that I was smart and I finally got somebody to help out. I got a nanny to help out with the volume stuff when I’m doing higher volume. Otherwise, my husband and I kind of work our schedules where I can run either in the mornings or the evenings around his schedule when he’s home. It’s been taxing, there’s no joke about that. It’s been challenging with the post-partum issues like bones just moving because of hormones and this and that. “Oh, what’s going on now?” That’s the thing—it was such one thing after another and mental and physical strain that I’m here now and I’ve worked hard for it and I feel great. My uphill ability is better than it ever has been in my life. I just really want to see what I can do. Now I have the experience. In 2013, I was learning. Then I got pregnant and had Maya. Now I’m back and it’s just still so fun and invigorating to learn more and take those chances and maybe push the limits but, again, be smart about it.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there, and let’s see what your potential is.
Yates: Thank you.