Camelia Mayfield will debut at the 100-mile distance at the 2018 Western States 100. In this interview, a part of the iRunFar Live at Western States show, Camelia talks about how she wasn’t targeting Western States until she earned a Golden Ticket at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, her family history with this race, and how she’s prepared physically and psychologically for the 100-mile journey.
Camelia Mayfield Pre-2018 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar – Dylan Bowman: We’re live! Again. Welcome, worldwide ultra fans. It is the third edition of iRunFar Live here. It’s Thursday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. so we’re what, 36 hours from the start of the Western States 100?
iRunFar – Meghan Hicks: I’m not racing and I just felt shivers go down my spine. For the audience watching online, please know that we do have a live audience here. Let’s make some noise for the people online. [Audience applauds off-screen]
iRunFar – Bowman: Yes, we’re broadcasting live from the Coffeebar in Olympic Village. Thank you, Coffeebar. They’re great hosts, they’ve been excited to support us with this new, exciting interview format. Thanks also to our sponsors: Drymax, Buff, and Jaybird Sport. Anything else we need to mention?
iRunFar – Hicks: This is Dylan Bowman [gestures to the viewer’s left] and I’m Meghan Hicks [on the right]. Our first interview this afternoon is with Camelia Mayfield.
iRunFar – Bowman: Camelia, you are an up-and-coming runner in this sport. You’ve had a lot of really impressive performances over the last couple of years. You live in Bend, if I’m not mistaken [Mayfield nods]. You raced your way into Western States just a couple months ago at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. It’s one of the most competitive 50 milers in the U.S., as I’m sure everybody here already understands. Was that your goal going into the race? Were you looking for a Golden Ticket, or was it a surprise?
Camelia Mayfield: Definitely not for that race. I had kind of put dreams of Western States for this year on the back burner. I’ve got a couple of things going on in my life, so I’m like, “You know, maybe another year of developing my running would be fine.” I had done Chuckanut 50k the month prior and I hadn’t done as well as I’d hoped to.
So going into Lake Sonoma, I didn’t have a ton of confidence. I just wanted to have fun and I knew there was some really talented women racing it. I was like, “Oh, I’ll shoot for the top 10.” So, pretty early in the race I figured out that maybe I’d do a lot better than that. It was a great surprise. For me, anytime you get a chance to race a race like this, that’s so competitive, you’ve just got to take it.
iRunFar – Hicks: This is an interesting story. This is going to be your first 100 miler, and it was just two months ago that you decided to do it. You jumped right in.
Mayfield: I feel like I’ve been preparing to do a 100 miler for a long time, at least emotionally and mentally.
iRunFar – Hicks: That’s more than half the battle.
Mayfield: It’s been my goal since I started doing ultramarathons that I wanted to race this race. As with a lot of people who are doing it right now, and who are entering the lottery, it’s a bucket-list race.
It’s a little bit daunting to do a race that was 50 miles and maybe 75 to 80 degrees [Fahrenheit] that day. So I finished and was like, “okay, I can do double that, right? Maybe with 20 degrees warmer? Right.” I knew that it would be a challenge. Initially I was talking to Bryon Powell of iRunFar and I was like, “Yeah, I’m taking the Golden Ticket.” Then my fiancé was like, “Let’s step back a bit. Don’t feel like you have to do it.” It definitely gave me that chance to evaluate and say, “Yes, I really want to do this.” It might be a big jump, but you never know until you try it.
iRunFar – Hicks: iRunFar interviewed you once before after your finish at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. But the iRunFar viewing world still doesn’t know too much about you. Can you talk about your background in running?
Mayfield: I grew up in Ashland, Oregon. As you may know, that’s where Hal Koerner lives now. They actually just started the running store in town when I started high school. Trail running definitely gained some interest in that time. I then went on to Portland State University for my last three years of college–they convinced me to stay for a fifth year.
iRunFar – Bowman: Didn’t Ruth Croft run there? Did you know her?
Mayfield: She did run there. I was nowhere close to getting her record in the 10k.
iRunFar – Bowman: She’s very strong. That’s nothing to be ashamed of [laughs].
Mayfield: So I did the 10k there. Actually, doing the 10k at regionals in 2015 was the last time I had to do any sort of heat training, with the regionals being in Austin, Texas. The past two-and-a-half years after college I’ve been increasing my distance and doing a lot more trail races, which is pretty easy when you live in Bend.
iRunFar – Bowman: In addition to your interesting personal history, you also have an interesting family history, particularly when it comes to this race. Your dad has done the race, and I think you said your mom was pregnant with you one year when he ran the race.
Mayfield: Yeah, I believe he did it at least two years: 1991 and 1992. I was born in 1992, on June 28–don’t steal my identity [laughs]. I think he finished the race just a few hours before I was born. Unfortunately, due to drive time and the lack of cell phones back then, he did end up missing my birth. It’s really interesting talking to him because it definitely holds some special memories for him. He can forget life events that we’ve done, but he’s like, “Oh yeah, Foresthill, you’ll feel this way, and Devil’s Thumb is the hardest part.” It’s definitely interesting the way that he has that history at this race.
iRunFar – Hicks: Did you say that he’s going to be crewing you this weekend?
Mayfield: He’ll be around, mainly spectating. I think that choosing your crew for this race is probably one of the most difficult decisions you have. In some ways, crewing is harder than running it. The focus is on making sure you’re in the right spot. You have all the things that you need to have. At the same time, the crew is also sleep-deprived and has to have their own nutrition and all that.
iRunFar – Bowman: It’s so interesting. You have that story and the fact that you grew up in Ashland, which is the home of both Hal Koerner and Timothy Olson when he won the race. There’s some serious history and success that has come out of that town. I think that bodes well for you. We’re also curious, since this is your first 100 miler, and certainly the most competitive race in your short career thus far, do you have any competitive ambitions going into the race? Or is it more, “I’m going to let myself develop as an athlete, get a good finish under my belt, and then come back later and do even better?”
Mayfield: I’d say more of the second option. One of the hardest things about running is that this is essentially a championship race. You have no control over how other people are going to handle the race, but you have control over how you handle yourself. My plan is to run within my own ability, especially early on. I’ll take those internal gauges of how I am feeling and how I hope to be feeling, and go from there.
iRunFar – Hicks: Did I see that you’re a coach?
iRunFar – Hicks: Do you do that professionally, or what do you do professionally?
Mayfield: Professionally, I’m a caseworker for the state of Oregon. So emotionally, I have a pretty demanding nine-to-five job. I coach for Trails and Tarmac on the side.
iRunFar – Hicks: Going into an event like this which has a lot of unknowns, that’s not unfamiliar territory for a lot of the people in here. Are you analytical about your approach? Or are you just trying to see how everything feels from moment-to-moment? What’s your thought process going to be out there?
Mayfield: I’d definitely say I’m more moment-to-moment. I like running in a mindful way and taking that inventory of what my body needs, what emotionally I need. In the past, I feel like every race is training for something and every life event is training for something. I hope when things get very hard I can pull on some of those experiences of when other races have been really difficult, where I’ve felt hopeless before and I’ve gotten through it [laughs]. I’m sure there will be those moments.
iRunFar – Bowman: Cool. Well, maybe one more question: we mentioned that you lived in Ashton but you’re in Bend now. Bend is also a hotbed of trail and ultrarunning and people who have been really successful at this race, including Stephanie Violett and Ian Sharman, who are both in the race this year. Mario Mendoza as well, and Amy Sproston. Have you gone on any runs with them or hung out with them and gleaned any advice from their experience?
Mayfield: Definitely Ian Sharman has been a wealth of advice. Since he’s also a coach, he’s been very outspoken about sharing his advice. I did the Memorial Weekend Training Camp, where we shared some miles together. Then, of course, Stephanie and I sometimes run together. I think it’s definitely difficult–some of them have full-time jobs as well, but my schedule is pretty rigid so it can be hard. When other people are training at such a high level, coordinating schedules can be very difficult.
iRunFar – Bowman: Sure, but it’s good to have that wealth of information at your fingertips if you need it.
Mayfield: Definitely. Just knowing what are the good local trails to go to, what are other people doing when it’s 40 degrees [Fahrenheit] and we’re trying to train for the heat.
iRunFar – Bowman: Well, it’s been great to get to know you a little bit. You seem wise beyond your years in experience, so good luck this weekend. I think it’ll be a really interesting race to watch and we wish you nothing but the best. So, a round of applause, please, for Camelia Mayfield! [Audience applauds]