David Laney is excited enough to race the 2018 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile that he’s pinned his bib number on a day early. In this interview, Dave talks about wanting to earn an Altra Golden Ticket into the Western States 100, where he thinks his early season fitness is following Chuckanut 50k a month ago, and his plans for the rest of 2018.
For more on who else is racing, check out our in-depth Lake Sonoma 50 preview before following our live coverage on Saturday.
David Laney Pre-2018 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m with David Laney. It’s the day before the 2018 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. We’re in downtown Healdsburg, California. Good morning.
David Laney: Good morning. How are you doing?
iRunFar: I see you’re ready to race?
Laney: Yeah, I am. I picked up my bib, and I don’t want to misplace it in the next 20 hours. It’s the important thing you need.
iRunFar: Right. Does this mean you’re also in your racing kit?
Laney: Yeah, you know, it may be modified between now and then. Temperatures seem to be climbing, so I may take off the long sleeves. Definitely the board shorts though.
iRunFar: Okay. Are you going to wear them?
Laney: It’s likely. They’re quite comfortable.
iRunFar: The board shorts seem to be the volume of clothing you tend to wear over your entire body during a race. It seems like a lot of material.
Laney: Yeah, it is. It’s more than I usually do. I usually go with the one-inch split. It really shows the full hip. These are a little bit more modest.
iRunFar: More like the 16-inch?
Laney: They’re an 18-inch split with very little split.
iRunFar: They’re actually no split.
Laney: Or no split.
iRunFar: So you’re back to Lake Sonoma. What brings you here?
Laney: That’s a great question—the beautiful weather and sunshine.
iRunFar: It seems at Lake Sonoma it’s either a cloudless, perfect day or it rains like all heck. You’re going to have the former tomorrow. It’s going to be beautiful weather.
Laney: Yeah, I’m very happy. That mud, I’ve seen. I’ve never raced in the mud here, but it looks bad. I probably would have slept in.
iRunFar: No you wouldn’t. Let’s be honest.
Laney: Yeah. I’m really glad it’s sunny. I ran out there this morning. It was a little muddy in sections, but I’m sure it will dry up a little bit more tonight. It’s not bad when it’s not shoe-sucking mud.
iRunFar: In general you’re a pretty quiet person and you keep to yourself. So, I’m not sure why you’re here. Are you here hunting a Golden Ticket? Are you here to see how things shake out early season? What brings you here?
Laney: That’s a good question. I ask myself that before most races? Why am I doing this… again… when I’ve sworn hundreds of times never to do it again?
iRunFar: You really should… there’s probably a 5k around.
Laney: Is there? Oh, that sounds great. I could be done by 8:15 and not limp for the next two weeks. My original intent was the Golden Ticket, and that’s still my goal. But I’m also really excited about this race—it’s a cool race. It’s kind of fun to run 50 miles and have it done hopefully before midday. Having a race that’s not short but doesn’t take 24 hours is nice. It’s a fun course. It should be a fun day. I’m excited for both hopefully.
iRunFar: This is already your second race of the year, is that right?
Laney: Yeah, I ran Chuckanut exactly a month ago.
iRunFar: You’ve run Chuckanut several times, so that’s probably a good indicator of where you’re at physically and where you’re at mentally. How did Chuckanut feel for you?
Laney: I felt like it went pretty well. There were a few really weird things. I actually took a wrong turn—awkwardly I’d been training there for two months and have basically been in Bellingham for five years. It was a really stupid wrong turn. I only went 100 yards out of the way. People were yelling at me, “Should we follow you? You seem like you should know what you’re doing.” “No, don’t. I’m doing my normal morning loop.” It took 20 seconds. It wasn’t much of a detour, but then I kind of bonked. I seem to always bonk at that race. The last 10k is so hard. It gets flat.
iRunFar: You have to really run.
Laney: Yeah, running 5:30-pace at the end is hard.
iRunFar: It’s not just one or two flat miles, it’s a full 10k. Coming back to Lake Sonoma, there’s some course familiarity between… course similarity between Chuckanut and Lake Sonoma—runnable terrain and some steep climbs. How does Lake Sonoma terrain favor you?
Laney: That’s a good question. I always think when it’s runnable I’ll do well. I’ll get 20 miles in and I’ll wish we could just hike. Why can’t we have a 4,000-foot climb?
iRunFar: Or just a bunch of rocks where you can’t run.
Laney: It’s like the grass is always greener… though that grass is green. It could not be greener.
iRunFar: You would be allowed to say the word, “literally.” It’s literally green.
Laney: It is as green as possible, so I guess everything will be perfect tomorrow because nothing can be better.
iRunFar: That’s a good attitude. Western States—what makes you hungry to do that again?
Laney: I don’t know if hungry is the right word. I think it is… it’s just so… I’ve tried to figure it out for a long time. What it is, is it’s obviously very special. Last year, missing it, I was like, I really missed being a part of that. I guess a couple months ago, I was like, I really want to get that spot back. I was going to run the Sean O’Brien 100k but got really sick. I was like, Okay, I’ll run the 50 mile. That will be fun. I got really, really sick and threw up 12 times in eight hours and was in bed for three days. It was insane. I don’t think I’ve ever been that sick in my life. I couldn’t really move for four days just in bed. It was a weird winter. Then I was like, Georgia Death Race, I didn’t really want to do that, so this was a good opportunity to try and get that spot.
iRunFar: When we spoke to you at UTMB last fall, you kind of were alluding to, and maybe it was more direct than alluding to, just some sort of spectrum shifting and reinventing or trying to figure out what you wanted to do next with your running career. Have you had any mindset shifts? What’s gone through your head since last late summer?
Laney: Four or five years ago was when I really got into trail stuff and really loved the competitive aspect of it. I’ve kind of gotten to the point to really liking doing things alone that take all day or multiple days. I’m kind of like, if you only have so much time to run hard, I guess I can run hard my whole life, but run hard and be able to walk for the next week, what do I really want to do? But I’m back here at Lake Sonoma, so I haven’t figured it out… or maybe this is it. I’m still trying to figure that out. It’s a hard… figuring out what i’m still good at and what I can be good at and what I like doing…
iRunFar: And what you want to do…
Laney: I’m saying this now in April that I might not run UTMB, but in August, I’ll be like, Oh, yeah, I’m running UTMB. I’m not going to not be there. So, I talk big and then I change my mind, but we’ll see.
iRunFar: You are not changing your mind about bib number 29.
Laney: It’s my lucky number for today and tomorrow hopefully.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you, number 29.
Laney: Thank you. Thank you very much.
iRunFar: I look forward to seeing what kit you actually choose tomorrow.
Laney: Yes, who knows?
iRunFar: Good luck, Dave.
Laney: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: Are you going to wear your bib number? Here’s your chance. I’m going to tilt this down a little so they can see your bib.
Laney: I feel like Bryon is going to be like, “I don’t get it.” He’s like, “That kid is so strange.”