After finishing second here last year, Megan Kimmel is back again at the 2017 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon. In this interview, Megan talks about what her winter off-season has looked like, if she thinks she’s bouncing back into racing fitness again, and what she thinks about racing in the hot and humid weather predicted for race day.
Megan Kimmel Pre-2017 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Megan Kimmel before the 2017 Zegama Marathon. How are you, Megan?
Megan Kimmel: I’m doing great, Bryon.
iRunFar: How was your winter?
Kimmel: The winter was good—action packed, a lot of moving around, and yeah, it just flew by definitely a little too fast.
iRunFar: I think, in talking to you last year, you were striving for a simpler life, but it sounds like your off season was a little more complicated than you planned?
Kimmel: Yeah, I know. I’m still striving for that simpler life, and I think I’m getting there, but there’s been a lot of complexities on the way. I moved twice basically in the last six months, but I’m happy for all the change.
iRunFar: I know in the past you’ve done a lot of skiing. Did you get some this past winter?
Kimmel: Yeah, I definitely got a fair amount of skiing in but called it good at the beginning of March, which was earlier than I wanted to, but I think I’ve got my running legs on, and that’s the most important thing for this summer.
iRunFar: You’ve already had at least one race this spring. You won the Yading Sky Race again. How was that adventure?
Kimmel: It was great. It’s one of the best cultural experiences as far as racing goes, in my mind, so it was pleasure to be back there. It’s such a beautiful place. As the running itself goes, I definitely felt like it was really early season, and it wasn’t exactly the confidence booster I was looking for. I’m not worried. It’s still early season.
iRunFar: So, a win, but not as strong as last year maybe?
Kimmel: Yeah, exactly. I pulled off the win, but I just didn’t feel as strong. I don’t know if it was the second time I was out there or what the story was, but I enjoyed the day a lot, so I don’t know. Maybe I could have pushed myself harder, but yeah, I got it done.
iRunFar: Did you get a chance to do anymore adventuring than you did last year?
Kimmel: Not really as much as I would have liked to. I ended up making that a really short trip. I wanted to spend a few more days there, but things back home kind of shortened the trip quite a bit. I went a little bit further on one of the trails, but I didn’t really get to do one of the big loops that I wanted to do, and we did so much last year in that very small area that to do more, I just need more time. So I would be happy to go back next year and spend a few nights in the woods and see some more of the area.
iRunFar: That area, western Sichuan, and the Tibetan Plateau is spectacular.
Kimmel: Yeah, it really is.
iRunFar: It’s hard finding a hotel anywhere else at 14,000 feet and then going up from there.
Kimmel: Yeah, that’s a factor, too. When your hotel is at 14,000 feet, even coming from altitude, it really takes it out of you. I cut down to town a few days prior to the race just to be feeling better.
iRunFar: Did you do some other adventuring with Salomon before or after the race?
Kimmel: The plan was to do some adventuring with the Salomon team, but once again, some factors back home made me stay closer to home, so I look forward to more of that in the future.
iRunFar: I think, again in the past, you’ve talked about wanting to race a little bit less or be more selective about racing, and as last year continued on, you had the regular Megan Kimmel schedule of a lot of races and maybe got a little tired at the end. Was that the case?
Kimmel: Actually, my first move involved a house, moving out of a house and into a new house, and I actually got pretty slammed with renovations that needed to be done in a short time, so I was working a lot and doing a lot of physical labor that was really hard on my back. I know that was for sure a factor with the Moab race, and then I just wasn’t training enough for The North Face. That was way more of a factor than any kind of psyche level as far as racing goes or any kind of fitness thing. My fitness just went down hill.
iRunFar: Just life. Well, you’re here, and you’re strong. Last year, I think weather was a bit of a factor. Was that the case?
Kimmel: Yeah, last year was freezing cold up high. I guess I didn’t put a layer on quite early enough. It affected about six miles of my race. That was a bummer. I felt good that day. I’m hoping to feel good this year. I don’t think the weather is supposed to be that cold. That was pretty abnormal. Even if it rains, I’m good with that. If it’s sunny, hopefully we can have some fast times.
iRunFar: If it’s not too hot. That seems to have been a factor here in the last couple days being in the mid-90s [Fahrenheit].
Kimmel: Yeah, I know, I couldn’t believe it. The hottest day I’ve been out was yesterday. When we were looking at the forecast, we couldn’t really figure out if it was supposed to be 93 degrees here or not because that’s hot.
iRunFar: Really hot, and it’s supposed to sort of stay that way into the weekend.
Kimmel: Yeah, but we’re going for a noon run today after a couple things this morning, so we’re going to test the waters to see how hot it really is out there.
iRunFar: Have you had any hot training days back home yet?
Kimmel: No, it’s been kind of cold and windy and a wet spring around home, so yesterday was the hottest day I’ve been out since February when it was hot in Colorado during the ski season.
iRunFar: So you’re jumping into the deep end here. Have you made any… you’ve gotten to see the course twice now since you ran it a number of years ago and then last year. Any tips for specifically preparing for Zegama?
Kimmel: Well, to be working on uphill and altitude and vertical training is always key for Sky Racing which I find is really challenging in early season especially in Colorado or maybe around the United States. This course has a pretty technical section, so just be aware and train for that as well as you need to. Of course, it’s 42k, so it’s not short. You definitely need to have some endurance underneath you to pull off a decent race the whole time.
iRunFar: So a lot of factors for an early season race.
Kimmel: I think so, yeah.
iRunFar: What brought you back here?
Kimmel: I just love Spain and Zegama. The energy of this race is incredible. It’s just such an experience, and of course, it’s part of the Sky series. I’m signed up.
iRunFar: You’re signed up. This is your second race in the Sky series this year. You’ve already won one race. Will you try to make it two this weekend?
Kimmel: I’d love to. That would be great.
iRunFar: Best of luck, Megan.
Kimmel: Thank you so much, Bryon.