Kaci Lickteig certainly loves the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, as she’s back looking for her fourth finish of the race. In this interview, Kaci talks about how her winter training has gone following her incredible 2016 of racing, what she hopes to get out of this year’s experience at Lake Sonoma, and how she plans to train for and race both the Western States 100 and UTMB in one summer.
Read our women’s and men’s previews to find out who else is running this year’s race. Follow along with our coverage on Saturday.
Kaci Lickteig Pre-2017 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here in Healdsburg, California. It’s the day before the 2017 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. I’m with Kaci Lickteig. Good afternoon? Morning? Good late morning?
Kaci Lickteig: Yes, good morning afternoon.
iRunFar: How are you doing the day before 50 miles?
Lickteig: I’m doing well. I’m excited to be here again. It’s fun. It’s my fourth time now.
iRunFar: Yeah, this is a course or a race that has some brutality to it, but there are also some really lovely features—green in California in the spring, all the events that Tropical John Medinger puts around this race. But running 50 miles in Sonoma is also a hard 50 miles. What keeps bringing you back here?
Lickteig: I love this race. It’s just a good fitness test. Getting out on a course that has a lot of vertical gain in a short amount of time in retrospect, and just being out here in the green after having dull, drab winter is just kind of a refresher from winter to spring.
iRunFar: You had quite a 2016. I’m talking to the 2016 Ultrarunning Magazine Ultrarunner of the year. Looking at your year from the outside in, it seemed like you just couldn’t miss. What did 2016 feel like to you?
LIckteig: It really was just a blessing to me to be healthy the whole year and consistent with training and racing—just being grateful and happy. I’m very blessed to have that.
iRunFar: Following up your win at Western States last year, probably your other bit race of the year was the Bear 100 in September which you also won. After that according to your results, you sort of went quite and did more local races. Can you talk about what you’ve been up to since the Bear last fall?
Lickteig: Really just training and doing consistent training, doing five-mile road races every other week for fun.
iRunFar: How as that?
LIckteig: It’s interesting. It’s been fun though. It’s a low-key event in and around Bellevue, Nebraska. It’s something to keep your fitness up and motivation throughout the winter.
iRunFar: Have you found that it’s actually a good training tool aside from getting some fast miles in? Are you improving at the five-mile distance? Is it translating to some of your other running?
Lickteig: It definitely does. It keeps me sharper fitness-wise. I have been seeing results. Every other week it’s the same course, so you get to see if you’re doing better or worse. It’s good for training.
iRunFar: Last year here at Lake Sonoma you finished second, but you were just rebuilding your fitness after an injury over the winter. I know you always like to not draw attention to yourself, but where would you put your fitness now compared to this time last year?
Lickteig: I definitely have come into this race more fit than last year and more consistent with training because I’ve been healthy. That’s the key.
iRunFar: A lot of us who are fans of you follow your running on Strava, but sometimes it’s hard to sort out exactly what’s happening in your workouts and what you doing. Can you break down just a little bit of maybe some of your goal training ahead of Lake Sonoma?
Lickteig: A lot of it’s been just steady state tempo intervals—anything from 10-minute intervals with recovery for five minutes and doing that for four times up to eight times in a workout—just doing that a couple times per week and then having my little five-mile races.
iRunFar: “Little five mile races,” I love that we say little because actually a five-mile race is kind of a hard race or hard distance.
LIckteig: Yeah, you have to definitely know your pacing otherwise you can blow up.
iRunFar: Western States is back on your calendar. Being the women’s returning champion for Western States, you already have entry. You don’t have to worry about a Golden Ticket tomorrow, but you have all this history with Lake Sonoma. Are you here to win? Are you here to push the pace and hopefully lead some girls around the lake and back?
Lickteig: Honestly, it’s my fitness test. I just like to come back and see where I’m at this year versus last year. I understand that the course is going to be different regarding weather and conditions, but it’s just good for me to know where I’m at for a baseline going into Western. That’s why I really like this. It’s like the spring kickoff for me.
iRunFar: One really interesting race on your schedule this year, at least from my perspective is UTMB. You’re going to try to turn your summer around with doing the runnable Western States and, then, the mountainous UTMB.
Lickteig: I just want to try something new, and I was given this opportunity, so I really couldn’t pass it up. I know I’m going to go into it with respect and learning from others. I want to run it and finish it regardless of where I finish
iRunFar: You’re from Nebraska;100 feet is a big hill. There’s no shame in that, but how do you envision training for something like UTMB going at home?
Lickteig: I definitely will practice and go out to Hitchcock, which is a nature center in Omaha where you can finally get up to 230 feet of gain in a hill—just hill repeats. One thing I love about it is that you can train wherever you are, you just have to know how to train. Working with Jason Koop, he knows what I need and how I need to go about training. Listening to him and doing what he says I need to do to get me fully prepared, that’s what I’ll be doing.
iRunFar: Last question for you. Stephanie Howe has a pretty stout course record here on the Lake Sonoma course, but this year’s women’s field is arguably Lake Sonoma’s deepest so far. Predictions—do you see the course record going down tomorrow?
Lickteig: It potentially could depending on how much the mud is going to affect the footing and everything, but those women are definitely going after those tickets. I can’t wait to see who gets them because they all deserve to go. It could; it could not. It’s just whoever plays the smart race.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you in your own smart race tomorrow and your own fitness test around Lake Sonoma and back.
Lickteig: Thank you very much, and thank you for being here.
iRunFar: Lake Sonoma is kind of something you don’t like to miss. It’s a good Golden Ticket show and a good weekend.
Lickteig: It is. It’s a great race.
iRunFar: Good luck, Kaci.
Lickteig: Thank you.