It’s been a little over a month since Alex Nichols set the Nolans 14 supported fastest known time (FKT). For those unfamiliar with Nolans 14, it’s basically 100 miles that links 14 Peaks all over 14,000, much of it is off trail and very rugged. This record is a mountain of a feat, in fact it is 14 of them. We also thought Alex Nichols and the Nolans 14 would be a great band name… but I digress, Here is our quick interview with Alex.

PC: David Hedges

 

Mental and Emotional Training for Ultras

A perspective from Camelia Mayfield at Western States

About three weeks ago, I was one of the lucky participants of the world-renowned Western States Endurance Run. This was my first hundred-mile race and I thought it might be helpful for me to share more about the mental and emotional experience of running 100 miles. Before this race, the longest I had run was 100k. My finish time of 19:47 means that I ran nine more continuous hours than I had ever run before.

I’ve been asked a thousand times why I run, or how I started running. I’ve probably answered this question a thousand different ways but it always comes back around to me waiting on the porch for my Dad to get back from his morning run, so I could join him for a few laps around the block. My Dad never really pushed me to run, if anything it was quite the opposite.  Seeing as my Dad is 70 and still running strong I thought folks might be interested in his perspective on running.

For the past few years I’ve gravitated towards doing, and putting more emphasis on longer races, primarily 100 milers. I thought that 100s had to be my best event. I mean I am not a sub 2:20 marathoner! I can’t compete with all these fast guys in the “short” distance ultras. I’ve slugged it out with long trails, Euro 100 milers and for the most part I’ve lost the battles. I certainly don’t intend to lose the war, but I needed to start 2018 on a good note. I decided I’d race at Way Too Cool. I’d never run this event before. With it’s long history and runnable course I figured I’d at least be able to maximize my fitness level and really see where I was at.

The Tour du Mont Blanc is the most beautiful trail I have ever run…or so people tell me. Most of this rugged ribbon of singletrack I have only seen at night, while deep in a gel fueled haze while racing the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc. I’ve seen hallucinations on the trail and seen others vomit, I’ve felt the intense spirit of sport, but I’ve never seen much of the grander this place has to offer. I dream of someday doing the TMB the slow down and sip the espresso way. I’d love to soak in the afternoon sun at Refuge Bonatti, or grab a Coke at Champex-Lac, I’d love to chat with the caretakers at the refuges, or take time to just sit quietly and breathe in the alpine inspiration of the high country.

Honestly, I’m as guilty as the next person. The gun goes off, the race plan goes out the window. Any coherent logic of starting at a casual pace, or drinking calories early, or taking it easy on the first climb evaporates like the ice cubes in your hat in that last hot ultra.

About a week ago we launched a little contest, basically the contest read,

“Some of you have great years of running, and some of you may have had brutal seasons. @trailsandtarmac wants to hear those stories. If you have a friend, running buddy, family member or coworker who really crushed it this year working hard toward achieving their personal goals you can nominate them for a gnar-boss of the year award! If you had a rough year, maybe a few DNF’s, some major blowups or Injuries we want to hear those stories, and what you learned too! You can win the Epic Manure award!!! Nominate a friend for the Gnar-boss award or nominate yourself (because hopefully your friends wouldn’t do that!) for the Epic Manure award! So, to nominate email a brief paragraph or two with a photo to info@trailsandtarmac.com.”

Well the response was pretty awesome.  We learned a TON by reading the responses, and we also realize there was no way we could choose just one for either the Gnar Boss Award or the Epic Manure Award.  By far the biggest thing we learned was there was hardly any difference between the GNAR boss Award and the Epic Manure Award! Both awards highlighted these runners individual trials and how they dealt with major discouragement and never quit in the face of adversity.

Summers never seem to last long enough. Not that I dislike winter, on the contrary, I LOVE winter. If I were not a runner, I would be one of those skiers chasing storms from the Northern to Southern Hemisphere searching for powder and steep lines 12 months a year. When I say summer is never long enough I mean as a runner, all the coolest, raddest, most fun trails are high up in the mountains where snow can linger long into July and August. There is a short window of time to tackle what has become a fast growing list of MUST DO mountain running objectives. A person could have worse problems obviously.

Mile 107: Nothing left.

Coach Alex Nichols

Photo Credit: Irunfar

We could not be more pumped to have Alex join the Trails and Tarmac coaching team!  He brings with him a depth of racing experience covering all types of terrain and distances. Alex’s  racing style is something that we have respected for a long time. He always runs his race, pacing impeccably well, and usually ends up dismantling fields in the second half. His intelligent thoughtful style spills over into his coaching. Alex has been the women’s distance track and assistant men’s and women’s cross country coach at Colorado College for the past six  years. There he has coached 7 out of the 9 conference champions in the schools history. He’s coached women to school records in the mile, 5k, and 10k! We know that with Alex’s incredible experience in training for and racing all distances as well his years of successful coaching at Colorado College that he’s the perfect fit as our newest Trails and Tarmac coach. We did a short interview where you can find out a bit more about Alex, what he’s bringing to the table, and why you want him to coach you! If you are interested in learning more about being coached by Alex or any of the Trails and Tarmac coaches you may fill out this questionnaire.