Last year, Rob Krar had one goal: winning the Western States 100 after taking second the year before. He succeeded. This year, he’s back to defend his title. In the following interview, Rob talks about how he’s had a different view toward Western States this year, what his training’s been like, how he deals with poor performances, and why he didn’t heat train or take an extended trip to the course in preparation for this year’s Western States.
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Rob Krar Pre-2015 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Rob Krar before the 2015 Western States 100. How are you doing, Rob?
Rob Krar: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me.
iRunFar: My pleasure. Last year you won this sucker. The year before, you were second and had a good run here. What brings you back again?
Krar: Great question. I don’t think there’s a perfect answer, but part of me just never really questioned it. It was almost a given. I’ve run the race twice now. It’s fascinating in some ways. Three years ago literally at this moment, I barely knew of Western States. It wasn’t until Tim [Olson] won the race in record time and I saw him being interviewed at the finish line, that was really the first time it came into my mind. It’s been a fascinating, quick ride. I love it. I have such a deep connection with this race. I love it. It was a no-brainer for me to come back.
iRunFar: Last year you were here before the start and you were definitely withdrawn into yourself, focused, I guess you would say. This year, seeing you now and talking to other people who have seen you, you’re a lot more relaxed. How did that happen?
Krar: Yeah, I would say I was fairly relaxed last year. It was just the mental mindset that I thought was important for me. Last year was, not that this wasn’t a major goal for me, but last year’s race was a big culmination of a year-long really outlandish goal to win Western States. I was really focused on staying in my zone. This year, it’s a huge race and I want to do really well. It is a huge goal. I think it’s just reflective of maybe where I am in my life right now. I think leaving work, or taking a break from it, has really helped. I don’t think that was a healthy position for me to be working and trying to do what I did the last few years. I’m just going with the moment and staying in the moment and trying to soak it all up.
iRunFar: How has your training gone the last… since the mountains have melted out a little bit?
Krar: It’s been great. I bounced back well after Lake Sonoma which goes a long way, and I had a great race at The Canyons 100k. Just to put in a really solid training block—I feel well-prepared and well-rested. That’s a good combination.
iRunFar: Fitness on par with where you were last year? You can never know for sure, but your training has gone similarly?
Krar: I’m a creature of habit in some ways, so I’ve done a lot of similar workouts the last year. I’m definitely a step ahead of where I was. But I don’t take anything for granted. Everyone else has stepped their game up; I have. It’s going to be a battle out there no matter what.
iRunFar: You stepped your game up, your training is better, and you’re probably fitter. Last year you had that whole year of mental focus on one race. You’re at the point of the needle. This year, you have other goals. You’re focused on this, but how do you commit yourself fully to this race again?
Krar: Yeah, I think it’s a healthy balance. I think it’s a better balance I found this year. It turned out very well last year. I had my struggles along the way. Yeah, I have some other projects and endeavors that I’m chasing right now. I think it’s good not to put all your eggs in one basket. Certainly Western States is huge focus and a huge goal. All my energy and drive is going toward Saturday, I’ve got other things in my back pocket as well. I think it’s allowed me to be a little less stressed and a little better balanced and happier overall.
iRunFar: As you hinted to, you’ve left the practice of pharmacy for awhile. How’s life? I know before you were a little concerned maybe you’d have too much time on your hands?
Krar: yeah, that definitely has not been the case. It’s been a good transition. Certainly when you’ve worked the same shift for over 12 years, I worked graveyard, just finding a new routine was a challenge, but it came gradually. There’s just no doubt in my mind that I’m in a better mental place overall, and I’m happier overall. I’m very thankful for the break from pharmacy in the meantime.
iRunFar: When did that go down?
Krar: I guess it started a week or two before Lake Sonoma, so it’s been a couple months now. I’ve definitely settled into the new routine and the new rhythm. I definitely feel that I’ve benefited from the added rest and recovery and less stressful lifestyle.
iRunFar: So what did happen at Sonoma? You didn’t have the best of days there.
Krar: No, it’s similar to what happened at JFK a year-and-a-half earlier. I don’t know. I really had to let it go quickly if I wanted to rebound well. I think it’s really important. I don’t think in my previous running lives that I was capable of doing that. I would have been in the doldrums and second-guessing myself forever. You just have to get through those. They’re going to happen. It’s frustrating to now know why or when they happen. For me, I just have to roll through it and get back on the train as soon as I can.
iRunFar: This year’s field might even be better than last year’s field. I kind of think it is. If you’re at the head of the race, who’s with you at Forest Hill?
Krar: C’mon, man. You know I’m not answering that question?
iRunFar: I’ve got to throw it out there.
Krar: It’s like I said, it’s a hugely talented field. It’s just the way ultrarunning is heading. Everybody is stepping up their game. It’s going to be a battle out there. I find it doubtful anybody will be alone at the river, but you never know. It’s going to be a hot day, so that’s going to throw a wrench in it all. Who knows? I’m just going to go out there and be patient and compete at the end.
iRunFar: Have you done a little more heat training than last year with the change in schedule?
Krar: No, no, I’m not a fan of heat training. It probably has its benefits, but for me it crosses the line of… it just crosses the line for me. I think heat management—ice has worked really well for me the last two years. That’s the strategy I’m going to use again this year.
iRunFar: I guess a lot of your competitors, especially the foreign ones, are spending days if not weeks previewing the course. Now that you’re free, you chose to stay in Flagstaff and train there.
Krar: Yeah, again, creature of habit. I’m comfortable back home. I’ve never been someone who felt I needed to see the course before I raced it. It’s probably a bit of an advantage, but I like winging it the first time around because it keeps it exciting. I’ve also raced it twice and raced the canyons two months ago, so I know the course well enough to not feel a need to get out of my routine and just stayed at home for as long as I could. So I’m ready to roll on Saturday.
iRunFar: Nice. Good luck and have fun out there.
Krar: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: A bonus question: now that you have more time and freedom on your hands, maybe you have had a chance to have an extra beer or two. What’s been your favorite beer this training season?
Krar: Honestly? I’ve actually decreased my beer drinking, not significantly, but I still have a beer now and again. Wanderlust is always my fav, but I’ve been drinking a lot of Deschutes lately as well. I’ve actually started to experiment with the IPAs which, probably a year ago, I would have said I’d never drink an IPA. Maybe my beer palate is growing.
iRunFar: What is your favorite IPA these days then?
Krar: I’m terrible with names. I don’t know. I had a Deschutes the other night and that was awfully good. Wanderlust came out with a double IPA a couple months ago, so I’ve been hitting that. I’m kind of experimenting. Christina has a better encyclopedic knowledge of that kind of stuff. I kind of drink and forget what I drank the day before.
iRunFar: We’ll have to question her on that after the interview then.
Krar: For sure.
iRunFar: Thanks, man.