Canada’s Anne-Marie Madden will be making her 100-mile debut at the 2022 Western States 100. In the following interview, Anne-Marie talks about how she likes incrementally stepping up in distance, how the COVID-19 pandemic delayed her 100-mile debut, and what her hopes and fears are for the race.
Anne-Marie Madden Pre-2022 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Anne-Marie Madden before the 2022 Western States 100. How are you?
Anne-Marie Madden: I’m pretty good, so far. [laughs]
iRunFar: So far, yeah. It’s a dicey prospect traveling in these days?
Madden: Yeah, yeah. I think I’ve been telling everyone my number one goal is to make it till Sunday healthy.
iRunFar: Even late Saturday night would be all right. So, you’ve been racing ultras for a while now. Eight-plus years?
iRunFar: And this will be your first 100 miler.
Madden: It will.
iRunFar: What makes you want to step up in distance?
Madden: The ever-present desire, I guess, to try the next challenge. And I think I’m the type of person that does best if I work up to it incrementally and then have a few challenges and experiences along the way where I manage to overcome whatever that daily adversity was, to draw upon it for sort of like the next bigger, kind of like thing to tackle. So, I’m obviously still quite nervous about it and respectful of the course.
iRunFar: It’s a long ways. There are some challenges along the way.
Madden: But I also am so excited, and you know, feeling incredibly grateful to even be here, to be healthy so far and looking forward to experiencing the day.
iRunFar: So, you said you like those incremental upgrades to distance or challenge. I noticed that you had run your first 100k type distances over the last couple of years with Tarawera a couple of years ago, and then qualifying for this. Was that very intentional as well?
Madden: Yeah. I think the 2020 ideal plan had been to do Tarawera and then maybe if I was fortunate enough to get a Golden Ticket in one of the races that spring and then race Western States, but then, of course, COVID changed everything. So, you know, now, three seasons later. [laughs]
iRunFar: So, that had already been part of your plan.
Madden: Yeah, and it’s just been delayed a couple of years. But that’s just kind of how it goes. I think yeah, we’ve all been in the same boat. And even without COVID, you can’t guarantee when you’d be able to get into Western States. So yeah.
iRunFar: Here you are.
Madden: Here I am.
iRunFar: Did you change up any of your training or your sort of mental makeup going into this race because it is a big step up even from a trail 100k?
Madden: Yeah. I think I was a little more intentional with like a bit of a long-term training block plan. So Max King’s been coaching me for quite a while now, I guess since 2017 so, five years. And usually on a weekly basis, I kind of explain to him what the work situation is that week, and it’s a bit like, “Oh, this week, I’m working seven days. They’re all really long so it’ll be hard to get volume in,” and then the next week it’s like, “Oh, this will be better.”
But just with how important I think this one was, about three months out we sort of like had this phone call where I explained to him the weekly, because we have a huge spreadsheet, like, “Okay, this is a week when I could get volume in so we could plan for that. Please make sure that like we’re not, you’re not, in your mind I’m not going to be running 100 miles on this week because I will not even have a single day off.”
Like, so kind of had a bit more of a long-term look at what would be possible. And like probably any build it never goes perfectly, but it hasn’t been that bad. I’ve had no injuries. Definitely a few kinds of colds and a few viruses and some of those took a while to get over. But at least the last kind of six, seven weeks have been fairly smooth from an ultramarathon training standpoint. And I’m a bit shocked as to how much energy returns when you start to taper. I think I’d kind of forgotten what normal was until you’re running a bit less and you’re like, “Oh, I’m not, it’s not that hard to get out of bed in the morning.” You know, like it’s yeah.
iRunFar: So, you’re feeling fresh now?
Madden: Feeling very fresh. I don’t, I mean, yeah, I feel quite good. So as long as I’m still healthy in two days from a contagion standpoint. [laughs] I’m like, don’t think I could be feeling much better.
iRunFar: Nice. Not that you’re, you’re not one to over race, you seem to have a pretty meted schedule most years. But do you think having less racing over the last couple of years makes you maybe more eager to get out there and compete?
Madden: Yeah, I think I was pretty excited to, I think my first race back was last summer when we were in Alaska. And we just like did this impromptu race that Rickey Gates had kind of suggested, and it was only 22k but I enjoyed every moment of it. Like it was pure joy from start to finish. And it was like a very mountainous, steep, you’re like falling down all the time, but I couldn’t have asked for more fun in a race.
And then I did the Squamish 50. And that just happened to fall on like a … I was just not having a good day. And despite like, I was leading the race I guess from start to finish, and you would think that being in first place would override any unhappiness or discomfort, but it did not. Like that race for me was like a grind the entire day. And I just really hope it’s not like that this weekend. And then Black Canyon was just also so much fun. It was just one of those days that went fairly smoothly. Obviously, it’s hard. You’re running 100 kilometers, but can’t complain. Yeah.
iRunFar: Are you excited about anything in particular? Western States course? The distance?
Madden: Yeah, I can’t guarantee this would happen, but I would really love to share some miles with people along the course maybe at the beginning and just have some experiences. And although I certainly don’t want to have catastrophic low points, they might happen. And I do want to be ready to meet that challenge. And work on getting myself out of that and moving through it and hopefully at the end of the day looking back and feeling satisfied that, you know, you did your best and whatever came your way, you kind of, yeah, met the challenge.
iRunFar: Anything you’re trepidatious about?
Madden: So much. The downhill, the heat, and vomiting. I don’t know. [laughs]
iRunFar: All three quite reasonable factors to be concerned about with Western States. Have you thought through like just dealing with nausea or vomiting because it’s, you know, we’re in a warmer climate.
Madden: Yeah, I mean, I think I have because I’ve had problems with that in warm races before. I think when I start to get queasy, I just have to no matter like what’s going on around me, I just have to pull back even if that means having to let a little group of women go or whatever, because I’d rather just rein it in and get on top of it before I’m like fully hurling on the side. Because that takes a little longer to recover from and then yeah, like everyone, I’m sure just trying to stay cool. Stay wet with ice water.
iRunFar: But really react if you do start to feel that stomach reacting, laying off for a little bit knowing that that’s better than some, you know, trying to push through it for hours.
Madden: Because if I keep pushing it, it’s just going to get worse.
iRunFar: But you could bounce back if you actually deal with it.
Madden: Yeah, hopefully.
iRunFar: Well, best of luck and I hope you enjoy your first 100 miler.
Madden: Thank you. Nice to see you.