Cecilia Flori will start the 2018 Tarawera Ultramarathon as the fastest-returning finisher from last year, where she placed third. In this interview, Cecilia talks about what she’s learned about ultramarathoning since last year, how she’s modified her training, and how she’ll strategically approach this year’s race.
Cecilia Flori Pre-2018 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here with Cecilia Flori. It’s before the 2018 Tarawera Ultramarathon. I’m in your sort of neck of the woods. How are you doing?
Cecilia Flori: I’m doing very good. I’m very excited for Saturday.
iRunFar: I bet you are! Last year I met you here and watched you race here. You ran to a third place in a competitive race and filling out a competitive podium. You’re coming back with a little bit of weight on your shoulders because of that do you think?
Flori: Yeah, I think so. At least now, I’ve done a few more 100k races, so I think I’m a little bit more experienced than last time. Hopefully it goes well.
iRunFar: When I interviewed you after the finish of Tarawera last year, one of the things that you said was, “I just didn’t know how to run. I hadn’t done this before, so I ran and felt good, and maybe next time I could go faster.” What have you learned about ultramarathoning since you ran Tarawera a year ago?
Flori: My nutrition is much better. Last time I just on the spot decided I was going to eat gels. I realized liquid nutrition is also good because I’d never had that before.
iRunFar: Putting powders into your water?
Flori: Yes, not just water but electrolytes would be good. And maybe less carrying weight and the importance of crews I actually learned also.
iRunFar: Lighten your pack a little bit?
Flori: Yeah, and not carry a really massive pack.
iRunFar: Since Tarawera last year you went to Europe and raced?
Flori: Yeah, I did the Mozart 100k in Austria.
iRunFar: Which is 100k?
Flori: Yeah, 105k.
iRunFar: How did you find that? You won it by a clear distance, but how did you find the experience?
Flori: It was interesting because it was much steeper than Tarawera. I realized a lot of people were using sticks. After watching them, I thought maybe I should use sticks here. That’s another thing I learned. Then, I learned how to use my hands on my knees when you’re going very steep. It was good. I stuck with the then second lady which I learned a lot from. I was just sticking with her, and then the last 10k I over took. That was my strategy.
iRunFar: I know you raced at the very end of the year at the Kepler Challenge. Did you do any other races between Mozart and Kepler?
Flori: Yes, I did a local one called the Taniwha that was 60k.
iRunFar: How did that go? I didn’t see the results for that.
Flori: Overall, I beat all the guys. It was good.
iRunFar: So you won the race for everybody.
Flori: That was a good moment, sorry. That was good.
iRunFar: Sorry about that, gentlemen.
Flori: It was good. That was all. Then, the Kepler.
iRunFar: Kepler was about two months ago now or a little less than two months?
Flori: Yes, fourth of December.
iRunFar: You raced there, Ruby Muir, who you’ll see again this weekend. The two of you went one-two, and both of you had quite fast times.
Flori: Yes, thank you. It was pretty fast. I wasn’t feeling very good that day. I tried to stick with her, but she’s amazing and so fast. It’s good that she’s here. It’s good if I can try and keep up with her as long as I can. It will be good for me.
iRunFar: The Kepler Challenge is obviously shorter and has steeper bits but then some more runnable bits kind of like Tarawara, but overall it’s a different style of race than Tarawera would you say?
Flori: Yeah, I think so. It’s very steep at the start and, then, a lot of flat for 30k, so you have to keep your legs for a very fast, flattish 30k.
iRunFar: Here we are back at Tarawera again. You ran last year, but, now, they’ve flipped the course around, so you have to go in the opposite direction. How do you feel about that?
Flori: It’s going to be slightly harder, because it’s all uphill this year and now, fast, downhill the last 20k. It’s a little logistically harder for the crew to come and help also. It will be interesting. I think overall it might be a little slower probably than last year just, because it’s uphill. It will be interesting to see. The finish line will be really good though apart from the smell.
iRunFar: Yeah, we’re standing amongst Rotorua’s famous thermal features. There’s a bubbling hot pot that is spewing warmth and the smell of sulfur as we do this interview. As you come down from the hills and into downtown Rotorua on Saturday you’ll be joining the odor of Rotorua’s thermal features.
Flori: It will smell like home as in I know I’m close to the finish.
iRunFar: Wow, you live in a really interesting home… I’m just kidding. Yeah, you’ll… taking the phrase “smelling the barn,” you know horses smell the hay in the barn and they sprint home at the end. You can apply that phrase very literally at this time. So I think you’re a pretty analytical person in your life, in your profession, and you seem very methodical in your approach to training watching you online. Are you the same way or becoming that way with ultramarathon racing, too?
Flori: Yes, I’m starting to wear a heart rate monitor and monitoring how I do with tempo runs. I’m not just going by feel as I used to, but going by effort and knowing where my limit is. It’s improving my training.
iRunFar: Are you going to race by heart rate on Saturday?
Flori: No, I know enough to know by feel how my heart is doing. It’s just going to be uncomfortable with the monitor. I don’t want distractions.
iRunFar: Stop beeping at me. Last year when I interviewed you after the race, you said you had more energy at the end of the race. Once you learned, you learned you could have given more effort. Are you planning on leaving it all out there and really putting it down?
Flori: I hope I can do it. That’s the idea. I hope I can do it.
iRunFar: Maybe a bit more aggressive racing style this year?
Flori: Yes, I’m trying. Last year, I wasn’t very knowledgeable, but this year I’ll just go for it, and if I bonk, I bonk.
iRunFar: It happens.
Flori: It happens. I’m going to try and give it all, yeah.
iRunFar: Fantastic. Good luck to you. I look forward to chasing you around the course on Saturday.
Flori: Thanks. Thanks.