Magdalena Boulet has been a regular at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships throughout her ultrarunning career and she’ll be back to race it again this weekend. In the following interview, Magda talks about her experience at this year’s UTMB, what exactly her recovery looked like after UTMB, and which races she popped into this autumn.
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Magdalena Boulet Pre-2016 The North Face EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Magdalena Boulet before the 2016 The North Face 50 Mile Championships. How are you, Magda?
Magdalena Boulet: I’m doing great. Hi, Bryon.
iRunFar: Can you believe it’s already another The North Face championship race?
Boulet: No, we were just here last year. Same spot.
iRunFar: You come back to this more or less every year. Does this feel like, not only physically home, but kind of your home race?
Boulet: It is. It’s the back yard. It’s just right across the bridge. It’s really hard to pass up on this race.
iRunFar: It’s really kind of where you started out in ultrarunning as well.
Boulet: That’s right. It was my first big race.
iRunFar: It still holds a special spot for you?
Boulet: Absolutely. I think just the Marin Headlands in general and running through that area, I can’t get enough of it
iRunFar: Do you get over there much in training?
Boulet: I try to—not as much as I would like to, but I make every effort to get out there and spend some time on those trails. It’s one of my favorite places to run.
iRunFar: Earlier this year, you went over to the Alps again. You ran CCC last year, and this year you ran UTMB. How was that experience?
Boulet: It was really overwhelming. I think that race is just such a big race. It’s so much bigger than you. It’s just from the time you land and you put your feet on the ground at Chamonix, [France] you can feel that excitement, that energy. That stays with you until you get back on the plane. It takes over. People live it there. They live for that race—from organizers, from spectators, from workers, to all the people who show up for that race. It’s a big deal. It’s a big race. It’s always very competitive. The mountains are just so big. They’re so much bigger than anything that I’ve seen before.
iRunFar: How did you fare on those really big mountains?
Boulet: I really enjoyed all the climbs. There were some spots on the course especially at night that I had some challenges with moving rocks at night. It felt like I was not even on a trail. It was a great learning lesson for me. I took a lot from that race. It gave me a bucket list of things to work on in the future. I had a great time. I took a very conservative approach to that race. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. Despite really crazy weather at the end, I felt like I was moving really good in the last part of the race which was really encouraging. Yeah, I think I really felt like the race was a good challenge and I have some things to work on. I want to go back and prove myself again.
iRunFar: So, a positive experience?
Boulet: Absolutely. I walked away very satisfied with how I performed.
iRunFar: It’s roughly the same distance you’ve run before at Western States, but it’s a whole other level in terms of impact on your body from all those mountains and time on your feet. How did you fare recovery-wise?
Boulet: I was really surprised. It was 28 hours for me. My previous longest race was 19 hours. It was an additional nine hours of being on my feet. I felt really good at the end. I was pleasantly surprised. I was still awake and moving. Recovery actually went really… physically, I recovered pretty quickly. My body did not feel as beat up as I thought I would be. Emotionally, I needed to take a little bit of down time after that race. I needed to give myself that time off to step away from big training sessions and spending a lot of time on my feet.
iRunFar: When did you get back to it?
Boulet: The rule of thumb for me it to take two weeks off completely. I did that.
iRunFar: When you say completely, obviously not running, but are you doing any cycling or are you getting out and walking on purpose? What does your recovery look like?
Boulet: Actually, I like two weeks of just no workouts, definitely no running, but if I do get on a bike, it’s to take my cruise bike and go sit at a coffee shop. It’s transportation but not as a work out.
iRunFar: It’s not a recovery session. You just get on your bike to do something.
Boulet: I do like to incorporate just more walking or light hiking, but again, just for the purpose of being outside and not any workouts. Really, I kind of disconnect from having a routine where I’m committed to a workout session.
iRunFar: After those first two weeks off, how did you work back this time into your training?
Boulet: I think I ran a marathon as a long run.
iRunFar: Just jump right back in.
Boulet: Again, I give myself two weeks to work back to establishing a routine. After you take two weeks off, it starts to feel a little bit comfortable. It’s actually not that bad taking time off. I incorporate easy running. I think I did do Half Moon Bay Marathon which his half trail and half paved three weeks later but just as an easy long run.
iRunFar: You still find yourself able to do that in the marathon world where you really had applied yourself for quite some time? You can just go have fun?
Boulet: Yeah, I can go and have fun. Yes, absolutely.
iRunFar: Then you get a phone call a little while later about another race?
Boulet: I got a phone call from Ann Trason that said, “You’ve got to be at my race.” It’s the Overlook 50k. It was on my calendar. Then I did Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim. I think just three Rs. That was a big day. The Overlook 50k, we got rained on. It was a lot of fun. It was muddy. It was a good long run. It was just a fun race. It’s great to be on those trails in the fall. They’re literally alive. They’re wet; the dirt is nice and moist. It’s fun to run different than running in June when you run Western States and it’s dry and packed and you almost snap off the ground. It’s a very different experience. I had a lot of run.
iRunFar: Then you had Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim. Was that the first time you’d run that?
Boulet: That was the first time in the Grand Canyon for me. It was amazing.
iRunFar: Just a fun adventure?
Boulet: Yes, I did it with a couple friends. Yeah, we had a great time. It was a big day. That was in the middle of October or first week in October, so not that far removed from UTMB. To run 46, 47 miles that day, it was a big, long run.
iRunFar: You’ve had a bunch of pretty long runs since UTMB.
Boulet: Yeah, a marathon and a 50k and… yeah.
iRunFar: You haven’t taken off since then.
iRunFar: You also went on a nice little adventure down to Utah.
Boulet: Yes, that was last weekend.
iRunFar: You do some adventuring other than running?
Boulet: Yes, I’m lucky to be surrounded by great people that introduced me to different things in life, and more than anything, just taking me out side of my comfort zone.
iRunFar: Did I see pictures of you rappelling?
Boulet: Yes, we did some slot canyons. This is a dear friend of mine, Bryce Thatcher, who owns UltrAspire out of St. George, a friend of 20 years. This was not my first time doing that adventure with him and his family, but I got to take my son to do this which for an 11 year old to rappel 100 feet down puts a little bit of fear in your soul. It was great. It was great to see him overcome that and gain some confidence. It’s pretty incredible. You guys are really lucky in Utah.
iRunFar: It’s a good state.
Boulet: It’s a good state.
iRunFar: This weekend, will your son be out on the course at TNF 50?
Boulet: Yeah, my husband is… if you ever want to hire a crew person, he’s the guy for you. He just shows up at random places and comes out of the bushes here and there. I’ll see him on the trail just somewhere further away. Maybe it’s not very close, but he knows how to get around. They make a good team.
iRunFar: You have strong confidence in…
Boulet: I’ll see him more than I should.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there. Enjoy this weekend, Magda.
Boulet: Thank you.