Jorge Maravilla has run well enough the past two years to get himself noticed, but he had been lacking a win at a major ultra. That changed early this year when he won the Bandera 100k, part of the Montrail Ultra Cup. Now, he looks for a strong result on the world stage at the TNF Transgrancanaria. In the following interview, Jorge talks about his recent performances, the great running community around him in San Francisco, and how he’s building mental strength.
[Editor’s Note: Get up to speed on this year’s race with our full 2014 Transgrancanaria preview and join us for our live Transgrancanaria coverage this weekend!]
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Jorge Maravilla Pre-2014 TNF Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jorge Maravilla before the 2014 Transgrancanaria. Que tal, Jorge?
Jorge Maravilla: De maravilla, siempre.
iRunFar: Siempre. So, your season has already kicked off. This is not the start. You already went to Bandera and threw down a great time and won the 100k distance. How did that feel? It seemed like a breakthrough race for you.
Maravilla: It certainly was a performance that was pretty surprising and pretty amazing to me. I was going into it with one thing in mind which was to get my golden ticket for Western States. Pretty shocked that I went in and got a course record on such a technical terrain course. Yeah, it’s a great start to the season.
iRunFar: That’s got to feel good. So you have your ticket to Western States now.
Maravilla: Oh, yeah.
iRunFar: Some big races along the way including this weekend here—Transgrancanaria. For most of the other people I’d ask, it’s 125k at the beginning of March but you’ve already run 100k. Do you feel ready for going another six, seven, eight hours?
Maravilla: Yeah, I think so. I’m in the right kind of shape I want to be in come early March right now.
iRunFar: How is that? You obviously… I would guess you’re making Western States a focus on the season.
iRunFar: Here it is you’ve already raced Bandera and it’s March 1 for the race here. With such a long season, how do you plan out your training for the long scale?
Maravilla: I think it’s key to maintain balance. For me, having raced Bandera, it’s given me confidence to accomplish that distance early on in the season. Since then I’ve just been able to try to maintain and it’s been incorporating a lot of cross training and a lot of strength training. I’m certainly looking at, Hey, I want to be leaner and faster come June. Right now, I’m just really trying to maintain speed and strength.
iRunFar: You have been doing Crossfit and that sort of thing. Is that specifically oriented towards runners that you’ve been doing?
Maravilla: It is. I’m really fortunate in that I live in the Bay Area, as you know, so there’s a lot of love and a lot of strong community. My friend, Nate Helming, has this very specific crossfit for runners that I attend at least once a week. It’s very focused emphasized on biomechanics and strength training on runners. We’re certainly not hauling tractor trailers with chains around our necks or anything like that. It’s super fun.
iRunFar: That’s a fun image to think of.
Maravilla: Unfortunately that’s what I perceive as Crossfit, but not this one. It’s very functional and running-specific. I have that. Also Ashley, my girlfriend, has a Masters in sports psychology, so that’s really helped me out quite a bit, too. It’s really helped me. Having the right people around me and of course the strong community at SFRC [San Francisco Running Company]—it’s pretty cool.
iRunFar: You said you’ve been working on speed. You ran a very fast half marathon at the end of last year. What was it?
Maravilla: 1:09 at the Berkeley Half. That was two weeks before North Face [50 mile] which was essentially part of what this training has been for me in terms of focusing. That whole race was about run fearless. It was that way. It was a very challenging race because there were a lot of turns. I felt like I actually ran a faster time but because of so many turns in the course… taking the sub-1:10 two weeks before North Face and getting that mental tenacity…
iRunFar: You’ll take it.
Maravilla: I’ll take it.
iRunFar: What tips have you learned from your girlfriend in terms of that mental aspect of running? What are the key takeaways you’ve gotten?
Maravilla: There are quite a few to mention. I’d say one of the things is that many people fear getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s very challenging to push beyond what pain is for some of us and trying to just get comfortable with that. Also just pushing your limits as well as just owning that moment in that specific situation and being able to adapt to whatever mental or physical challenge you’re faced with at any given time whether it’s the course of a half marathon or 50 miles or 125k with 28,000 feet of vert.
iRunFar: So in building that comfort with the uncomfortable, is it through purely mental training or doing focused speed work where it’s very sharp and pointed training? How have you worked on that?
Maravilla: For me it’s certainly been making every run have a purpose so not just like in the past, Oh just go out and run have fun and enjoy it. Certainly still I enjoy it, but I think focusing on what you’re emphasizing—biomechanics, focusing on if it’s an uphill effort getting that heart rate up and being comfortable with what that feels like, and having that in your memory bank. Just being confident in what your ability is.
iRunFar: You’ve now moved to the Bay Area and have been there over a year now, right?
Maravilla: I’ve just recently moved to Mill Valley, but I felt like I pretty much lived there. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for awhile.
iRunFar: You have this great community of runners around there. Does that help you break down those barriers and get in that really focused training?
Maravilla: It certainly does. There’s something very special going on right now in the Bay Area. I feel that I’m very fortunate be part of what that community is as a fan of the sport as well. I’m very proud and happy to have friends like Matt Laye and Dylan Bowman and so many strong elite runners that are in the area. We get to train and run together and also just check up on each other. Hey, how are you doing, D-Bo? How’s it going? Matt, what’s up. Let’s run. The beautiful thing is having that community and as we call it, ‘Bros on the Mountain.’ We get together and go run up to the top of our small mountain and enjoy the sunrise and push each other. It’s really special.
iRunFar: Do you find that… I would worry about it personally in a community like that… that people may push each other too often. Are people ever checking on one another to make sure they’re not doing too much? Has that ever happened?
Maravilla: I don’t know actually. I don’t necessarily focus too much on what exactly my friends or competitors are specifically doing because it’s sort of out of my control because it’s sort of out of my control what they’re doing or not. So I specifically do not. I just always help however I can in contributing or listening to what’s working for them. I think that’s the benefit in having so many great people around you.
iRunFar: What’s going to be your approach this weekend? You said with your half marathon it was to be fearless and just go for it. Is this another learning experience?
Maravilla: Yeah, this will be interesting. It’s a lot of vert, right? It’s different terrain and a different type of challenge. One thing I’ve learned with everything is just being patient. I think that’s the key. I think all of us have looked at that race course profile. You’ve certainly got to have legs with 50k to go because after that, it’s pretty runnable and downhill it appears. So as long as you’ve got some legs there, it should be a good race to the finish.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you this weekend, Jorge. Have fun out there.
Maravilla: Thank you very much. Muchas gracias.
iRunFar: De nada.