YiOu Wang nearly walked away from this weekend’s Lake Sonoma 50 Mile with her third win at the race, but ended up finishing a close second. In the following interview, YiOu talks about how her race played out, how she tried to hold off her legs dying on her, and how she’ll approach Transvulcania next month ahead of running the Western States 100 in June.
For more on how the race played out, read our Lake Sonoma 50 results article.
YiOu Wang Post-2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar with YiOu Wang after her second-place finish at the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 mile. What a day out there YiOu.
YiOu Wang: That was quite a day. Quite an exciting day.
iRunFar: Yeah? How so?
Wang: Well, getting outsprinted at the end of a 50-mile race after 10,000 feet of climbing is, I think, rare. [laughs]
iRunFar: Time for a bit more track work?
Wang: No. I’m so happy with how the day played out for me.
Wang: I mean, I didn’t really have expectations of feeling that great after 25 miles, and honestly, I didn’t feel great the first five or six miles.
iRunFar: I thought I heard some rumors on the course of like, there were chances of you dropping out or…
iRunFar: You weren’t like, 100% committed, or not committed is the wrong word, but you know like…
Wang: Well, I wasn’t tapered.
Wang: So I didn’t really know if my legs were going to have 50 miles in them, especially on a difficult course like this. I had a really hard hill workout on Wednesday and sort of ran on Thursday and Friday, and I think my legs felt okay, but they were actually feeling pretty tired like the first five or six miles. But I think that ultimately helped me run less hard the first section of the race, because I saw there was a big group of women that went out pretty fast, I would say.
iRunFar: In the very early miles.
Wang: Yeah, in the very early miles, like they were just bombing the downhills. I was like, I’m just going to take my time.
iRunFar: At the end of the road you I don’t know if you were like sixth, or eighth, whatever, you weren’t…
Wang: Yeah, I think I was sixth or seventh when we hit the actual singletrack trail part. And then I sort of just kept checking in to see how I was feeling, working on the fueling, practicing not having a crew.
Wang: Talking to the really nice aid-station people and be like, can you open this for me? Because I can’t open my own bottles. And then as the day progressed, I think I started feeling better, and then I also started smelling some carnage in the field. [laughs]
iRunFar: Because there was some.
Wang: Yeah, because Lake Sonoma, it’s such a hard course. You really have to respect how much it takes out of you. So I think I just sort of rolled with all the ups and downs and I felt like my legs really turned around, maybe at mile 15, and they felt really great from 15 to 25, at which point I had caught up with Anna Mae [Flynn] and Addie [Bracy], and then I just wanted to run the effort that was comfortable for me.
Wang: So I’m not very good, I get kind of antsy trying to run with other people, even though it’s probably good for me to pace with somebody, but I want to run my own pace dang it. [laughs]
iRunFar: Yeah. And that can be very like, you run each little section slightly different than others.
Wang: Right. Some people are stronger with the uphills, some with the downhills, and so I just focused on running my own effort and I saw Sean at Madrone Point, before the halfway.
Wang: And then I saw him again at halfway, and I kind of was like, well, if I’m leading I can’t just drop out now.
iRunFar: He may have been the one who tipped off.
Wang: I still feel pretty good, I still feel pretty good about it. So at halfway I just said to myself, let’s just go to Madrone Point, see how I feel, see how the field is doing. And I knew that Anna Mae and Addie were pretty close, and on the way out I saw a few other women but you know on the turnaround, the people who are really close you can’t see, because it’s kind of like a loopy trail.
Wang: And then I just kept running and got to Madrone Point and was still leading, that’s a big downhill. I’ll just keep going. [laughing]
iRunFar: So you kind of got sucked along, and why would you stop?
Wang: Yeah. Well I still felt relatively good, like I didn’t feel destroyed or that I was totally done, and I just felt like if I just modulate my effort and it’s going to hurt, the last 20 miles are going to suck because my legs are going to die at some point.
Wang: So the last 18 miles was kind of me trying to push the death of my legs away as long as possible. [laughs]
iRunFar: Mentally or physically?
iRunFar: Both, okay.
Wang: Because I had a few moments especially during some of the more protracted climbs where I was like, oh, my legs are just dead. And then I would just drink some more Roctane and tell myself, that’s not true! And then kind of start running on the downhills.
iRunFar: Your legs are still attached.
Wang: Yeah. And then going into Island View, I kind of thought that Anna Mae and Addie were close. Just because I could hear you know, going through some of the other aid stations, and I could kind of see them when we had a really big climb, and then going into Island View I saw that they were really close. So it was like, oh no. Oh this is going to sting so bad the last four and a half miles. And then it was just like, can I actually hold them off? And you know, you give everything that you have at the end. And I heard Anna Mae coming up behind me, and probably the last half mile of the race, and I just started sprinting. I was like, [laughs] as much as you can sprint at that point. And I was like, she is probably, you know, has more momentum and is going to pass me, but at least she has to work for it. [laughs]
iRunFar: And she did. So you got second to go along with two wins here. And you have Transvulcania coming up, is that correct?
iRunFar: That’s why you were self-imposed no crew kind of.
Wang: Well, yes. So I won’t have any crew at Transvulcania. I don’t know if you even can get crew at that race.
iRunFar: I think you can.
Wang: Yeah. But shockingly nobody took a few days off to go to the Canary Islands with me. But if anybody’s going to be at Transvulcania who wants to crew me, I’m looking for crew. So I wanted to practice just handling all my own stuff.
iRunFar: Did you do everything in Spanish?
Wang: I did not. Dang it. Sean has to teach me some phrases. And then you know, this is all, all of it is leading up to Western States.
iRunFar: So how are you going to balance that? Because you know, back in the day folks who would race Miwok 100k really well wouldn’t race well at Western States. Here you are at Lake Sonoma, and then you have Transvulcania, and then you have Western States. How are you going to, you didn’t taper coming into this.
iRunFar: What would your approach be going into Transvulcania?
Wang: Not tapering.
iRunFar: Not tapering.
Wang: It’s just going to be a hard tour of La Palma.
iRunFar: Fair enough.
Wang: And then you know, that’ll make Western States feel a little bit better hopefully.
iRunFar: Hopefully you’ll taper going into Western States?
Wang: I will taper going into Western States.
iRunFar: Excellent. Well congratulations on another great run at Lake Sonoma.
Wang: Thank you so much, Bryon. It was a pleasure.