Magdalena Boulet won last year’s Western States 100 in her 100-mile debut. In the following interview, Magda talks about what she’d like to get out of this year’s race, how her training and racing have gone differently this year, why she wants to be more present in the race, and more.
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Magdalena Boulet Pre-2016 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Magda Boulet before the 2016 Western States 100. How are you, Magda?
Magda Boulet: I’m doing great, thank you.
iRunFar: Last year you came here to the start of Western States 100 looking to finish your first 100-mile race. This year, you already have a 100-mile finish. You have a win at Western States. What is your journey going to be about this year?
Boulet: Well, I think it’s pretty similar to last year. The number-one goal is I want to finish—to finish and I want to put a race that is full of good experiences. I want to be competitive—that’s the second goal. The third goal is to improve a little bit on my last year’s time. Hopefully I can run a bit faster than I did especially in the last 20 miles.
iRunFar: So that’s where you think you can make up some? How did you struggle that last 20 miles?
Boulet: Well, I think not that I struggled that much but going off course early in the race, once I got to the last 20 miles, it was a little of a mental battle—Oh, I’m going to run more today, and I need to be conservative. So I was kind of playing this conservative game. It’s also an unknown. I haven’t been here before, so I really need to play it safe. I’ve been there now. I think the last 20 miles I’m going to take a little bit of risk and not just be safe just to get to the finish line.
iRunFar: Now do you have any other changes or lessons you learned last year that you’ll be employing this year?
Boulet: I’m going to be more aware of where I am at any given time of the race. I think I zoned out quite a bit last time. I was just floating and having a good time on the trail. I think I want to be more present and aware.
iRunFar: Literally of where you are?
Boulet: Literally where I am on the course. Lessons learned, wow, there’s always so much that you learn, but my fueling and nutrition went really well last year. I have no issues. I’m hoping we can just repeat the same.
iRunFar: With your job at Gu, you’re kind of on the forefront of knowing what’s going on in endurance and nutrition research, but it worked well for you, so why change it?
Boulet: Why change it? Obviously, my approach to a race can be different depending on the course. Each course presents different challenges, so you have to dial in your nutritional fueling to that. But since this is the same race and it worked and it’s going to be warm, I might as well… my plan is to have the same strategy as last year. I’m not trying to reinvent anything new. I’ll stick to what works with this race.
iRunFar: Was your training similar to last year? How do you feel fitness-wise comparing?
Boulet: Yeah, training has kind of been different. I would like to say I had the same lead-up and preparation, but it didn’t work that way. I was hurt in January and February. I started running in March. I don’t have as many races under my legs as I did last year, which I think is a blessing actually. I still had very respectable training leading up to this race, but there were definitely early hurdles that I had to overcome. The last three or four months have been great, and every week has been feeling better and better. So I think the timing is good. The race is going to show. I was a little worried about not having as many races leading up to it, but at the same time, it’s a silver lining because I’m more rested.
iRunFar: When you did run, you ran the Canyons 100k, and that went well.
Boulet: Yes, that went really good. It was warm. Actually, it was not warm this year. It was raining, but that’s okay. Unlike the first year where it was super hot, it definitely took a lot more out of me two years ago. This year it was a great training run. I felt good and strong and I felt like I actually owned the race and the course, whereas the first year the course owned me and I just got to the finish line. Yeah, so I ran Big Sur Marathon which was not in my schedule originally, but I couldn’t show up to Lake Sonoma 50. I wanted to go to Lake Sonoma, but it just wouldn’t work out. The timing was too soon after the injury to show up.
iRunFar: How did Big Sur go?
Boulet: Big Sur was great. It was totally fun. It’s been awhile since I ran a marathon on a road.
iRunFar: It was more fun than when you used to run marathons—the pressure not so much?
Boulet: It was fun. High-fives along the way and smiles—how can you not enjoy running along the coast? It’s spectacular. The crowds really fire up. The town puts on a great event.
iRunFar: Now you were talking when we started chatting about your “A” goal being to finish. In your earlier career on the road, did you have any races you spectacularly blew up and you did just kind of bring it to the finish? Would that be a new experience?
Boulet: It can happen in a marathon. It can definitely happen in a marathon. I had marathons where I didn’t finish. I probably shouldn’t have started. All the races that were kind of a disaster, it’s because I was sick. I think it was LA that I showed up with a fever. You’re kind of in denial leading up. You’re fit and you’re ready to go, and you wake up in the morning and you don’t feel well. You just kind of tell yourself, It’s nothing. I’m here to do one thing and one thing only, and you just move forward. The smarter part of your brain should be saying, What are you doing? There are plenty of opportunities. I think I’m smarter now. I know better not to do it, but you still get caught up in those moments.
iRunFar: Is it true that you’re trying to get something different out of running than you were 10 years ago?
Boulet: Yes. I’m seeking the complete journey. It’s an experience. Running 100 miles is a very unique experience. I’m not trying to break records. I’m not trying to just have one race and never run again and have the best race of my life. It’s definitely about having those incredible experiences. You get so much out of it, out of running and competing and finishing a 100 miler. It’s really addicting, that experience. You walk away from a race and you forget about all the unpleasant stuff that might happen along the way, and you sign up for another one.
iRunFar: I hope this one is a great journey for you. Enjoy it out there.
Boulet: Thank you.
iRunFar: A bonus question for you. Last year you had your hat. Is that hat coming back to the race this year?
Boulet: It’s definitely coming back.
iRunFar: Nice. I can’t wait to see it out there. I’ll see you coming from a long ways off.
Boulet: Yes, saving it for tomorrow. Thank you.