2013 Table Rock 27K – 1st/CR
2013 Bayshore ½ Marathon – 1st
2012/13 Brazen Racing Series Champion
2012 Bayshore Marathon – 1st
2012 Olympic Trials Marathon Participant
2011 Walnut Creek ½ Marathon – 1st/CR
What is your favorite ultra that you have competed in, and why?
“A 46K I did in Mirmande, France. I had just returned back from injury and it was so beautiful and unique. I just recall being extremely happy and grateful in that race.”
What is your educational background?
“I have a B.A. in Justice and Social Change from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Art.”
You have an incredibly varied background. Which part of your resume’ translates best to the world of ultra?
“Being a doula (childbirth assistant) probably translates the best. I have spent many hours, sometimes even days at births.”
Is there a race you always turn as inspiration when training?
“Not at the moment. When I need a little inspiration or motivation, I think about the moms that I’ve helped through childbirth. I think about how much women’s bodies are capable of and well that’s pretty inspiring.”
Is there one portion of your training that you think universally translate to all runners?
“All of it… there are good days and bad days, but every day I look forward to my run.”
The Ultra scene is changing rapidly—more money, more sponsors—in your estimation is this improving or hurting the running scene?
“It’s making the sport more competitive and I believe that’s always a good thing.”
Describe the moment your realized that ultrarunning was your true passion?
“I don’t know if there was ever a clear moment. I kind of fell into ultrarunning. I would spend hours out on the trails before I started racing and when I finally decided to get over my race anxiety I tried some 20K trail races. Then the next year I was dabbling in 50Ks and longer. I would say my passion is for shorter ultras. I really enjoy 50Ks and that happened from my very first one Sequoia 50K in 2009.”
What aspects of your training do you have difficulty with? How do you overcome those mental obstacles?
“Self-doubt and race anxiety are my two biggest difficulties. The best way I have found to overcome these is to just focus on that fact that it is just running. It is just my body and my mind doing what I love. The more I just partake and get out of my head, the better I do.”
Are you technology driven or do you run by feel? Or a combination of both?
“When I first started running it was all based on feel. I never new what I was going to do until I got out the door, I would run far when I wanted to, short when I needed to, and varied the speed depending on what felt good. I still try to ultimately listen to my body, but now that I am trying to push myself more, I do rely on a watch and pace when I am doing harder efforts.”
There are so many amazing new products available in today’s ultra running world—how much do you explore all of these options? Are you a “keep it simple” person or do you like to see what the new technologies can deliver?
“I keep it simple. All I need is my running shoes, baseball cap, sports bra, and shorts and I am good.”
As an elite athlete do you think your training becomes as much a mental exercise as a physical one?
“At this point in my training, it’s more mental than physical. I doubt my abilities and this has had a huge impact on my running. It makes it difficult to push through workouts. Part of what I am doing now is spending time believing in my capabilities and fighting that mental doubt when I start to physically struggle.”
During a race—cuss words or words of encouragement—and how do you use these mental pokes to push it to the next level?
“It depends. Sometimes I am running angry and in times like this, definitely cuss words. Otherwise, I tend to be a sucker for words of encouragement.”
Getting lost out on the trail is no fun but in hindsight is there a time that it happened to you that can be considered humorous now?
“I actually like getting lost on the trail well unless I’ve already been running a ridiculous amount of time. When I was training with my boyfriend for Way Too Cool 50K in 2011, he picked up the pace and I told him I would meet him back at the car. Well, I proceeded to get lost and by the time I figured out where I was at, I was quite a ways from the meeting spot. Luckily, I waved down to kind ladies who drove me back. He looked pissed when I got back and I thought it was because it took me so long. Nope, it’s because he broke his foot in the last two miles of the run. Needless to say the beers and burgers didn’t make up for that crazy day although it’s a good story now.”
Is there a difference between sports becoming life and sports being part of and enhancing one’s life? In other words, how do your balance your life as an athlete with your life outside of athletics?
“Running has added so much to my life. I’ve met amazing people, seen epic views, and learned so much about myself. I balance running with my life by making sure it is in fact adding and not running me down. There are times where I have had to back off because it has stopped being fun or starts to feel overwhelming. Usually before I know it, I miss it, and I am back out on the trails.”
What does the next 12 months hold for you? Do you work on a long arc or just take life as it comes?
“I am really excited about the next 12 months. I have been working through some difficulties in my training and looking to break out of my plateau as a runner. They’ll be 5Ks to 50Ks involved. I’m hoping for Way Too Cool 50K as a tune up before Boston. The Jung Frau Marathon in the fall. Both trails and road and maybe a 10K on the track depending on how things go. And hopefully I’ll qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials by mid-next year.”
Website or blog URL?
wcaitlinsmith.com and blog: wcaitlinsmith.blogspot.com
Salomon and Infinite Running