Photo Credit: Bob MacGillivray
Aliza Lapierre is excited about maple, she can often be found roaming the sugar-woods near her residency in Williston, VT on her long training runs. Lapierre is a Vermont local and accomplished ultra-runner who likes to keep it real when it comes to nutrition…which is why she reaches for UnTapped maple and makes her own energy bars (See recipe below!).
• Age: 35
• Current Residence: Williston, VT
• Years running: 13
• Race specialties: Ultra Marathons
• Blog: http://alizalapierre.wix.com/alizalapierre
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lapierrealiza
• Twitter: @alizalapierre
• Instagram: @allrunning
How did it all start, what lead you to ultra-running?
From the age of five I grew up playing ice hockey with the boys and even up through college, hockey running was always viewed as a punishment. Deep inside though there was something I always enjoyed about it. After college I decided it was time to move on from ice hockey and needed to find a new way of keeping active and fit and the simple answer seemed to be running. I started by running 3 miles at a time and would run 5 miles on the weekend. Slowly these distances grew and before I knew it I was training for Vermont City Marathon. After the marathon I heard about the Vermont 50 miler and figured “Why not see how far I can go beyond the marathon?” During the VT 50 I fell in love with nature and the ultra running community.
The races you participate in take tons of commitment and determination. How do you keep yourself motivated through all 50k, 100 miles etc.?
For me racing is like the icing on the cake, I’ve already done the work and at race time it comes down to execution. Ultra races are interesting because there are times you are in groups with other competitors and times when you can be alone for hours on end. I have met some amazing people during ultras and learned a lot about life and our sport from them. Sometimes we chat about serious topics, sometimes just tell childish jokes and sometimes we run in silence just focusing on the rhythm of our footsteps and breath. Ultimately though what keeps me motivated during a race is that when I toe the line it is a chance to test myself. I can only control myself so it’s me against the clock. Can I run a smart enough race that I make it to the finish, feeling happy and feeling like there is nothing left in the tank?
What are your biggest goals as a runner this year?
I can be very internally hard on myself and by doing so I tend to bring myself down. This year I would like to try to work on my confidence and my ability to dismiss negative thoughts that only harm my joy for running.
In terms of racing results, my two big races for this season are the Western States 100 and the Ultra Trail Mount Blanc. At Western States I have never felt like I have put together a complete race, so my goal is to try to execute from start to finish and cross the line feeling like I did everything I could to run my race. Racing the UTMB will be new territory for me, so finishing in the top 10 would feel like a huge accomplishment.
You’re headed out the door for a run, what UnTapped product(s) are you taking?
The syrup packets are so easy stuff in a stash pocket in a running short so I typically grab one or two if I am just going out for a few hours. I have found that I don’t even have to wash them down with water if I don’t have any with me, which makes them very convenient.
I have also really enjoyed baking and being able to use maple syrup in place of refined sugar and am working on some snack portables to take on my training adventures.
Could you describe one moment in your running that you are most proud of?
In 2013 I ran the Vermont 50, which I have come to deem my “home course”. Going into that race I had the course record, which I didn’t feel like was a very stout time and my goal was to lower that time. I ran a very smart race from the start pushing myself just enough to stay in contention for lowering the course record. My mom was crewing for me so we made quick work of swapping out bottles at aid stations and then at mile 40 I picked up my pacer. Without me realizing it he worked me, he had me running strong and laughing at the same time. A few miles out from the finish line my watch died so I had no idea what my time was. When I crossed the line I was just a minute over 7 hours improving my course record by over 20 minutes, something that I never believed I could do. The excitement and joy in my friend Chad Denning’s eyes when he greeted me at the finish said it all. This was a moment that he was so proud of me and I was proud of myself. To put it all in perspective the first time I ran this race, while sharing many of the miles with Chad I ran a 9:40 and now years later I was running it in 7:01 and the best part was having members of my family and friends there to share the day with.
What do you like to do to relax or enjoy yourself in between the long runs?
I enjoy growing vegetables in the summer time, walking my dogs Timber & Lily and exploring with my husband George. I also like eating good food and drinking fancy iced decaf coffee beverages, sweetened with syrup of course.
When you get home from a tough run what are you fueling with for dinner?
If it is summer time and the gardens are producing we usually make dinner with what we can go outside a pick. I think we have this unspoken rule in our house that if it takes longer than ½ hour to cook then we aren’t making it. We do a lot of homemade pizza, garden salads, quinoa with veggies, sautéed kale and eggs in our house.
Out of all of your ultra-distance races, which one is a favorite? What makes this race so special?
The Vermont 50 is the race that will always be the most special in my mind. This is the race where my ultra running career started, and where I met some of my best friends in life. The scenery and terrain is classic Vermont, with dirt roads, long stonewalls, open knolls and exposed fields. Besides that, the race director Mike Silverman puts on a great race and the landowners are kind enough to let the race use their trails. The finish line is lively with music, good food and lots of people cheering in the other competitors.
What lead you to UnTapped and bringing #MapleToTheMasses?
I learned how to ski at Cochran’s riding the mighty mite and t-bar, although I do admit that as a kid I was never brave enough to ride the rope tow because my sister had my convinced it would rip my arms off.
Many years passed and then after I moved from Burlington to Williston I learned that single track biking trails where being constructed on the Cochran’s land. I started exploring the trails while out for runs and over time the trail system grew along with the maple syrup operation. It has been an interesting process seeing the operation in its first years to where it is now.
It is really neat to run on trails surrounded by thousands of maple taps and miles and miles of sap lines. The trail parallels the lines and often swoops under or around lines which have been hung or propped in conscience of the runners and bikers. When I would see the boys out working on the lines or see the steam rising from the sugar shack I began to wonder how my body would respond to a natural and pure fuel such as maple syrup. Curiosity led to trial, and immediately I loved how easy it was to get down syrup while running and instead of dreading taking in fuel I was actually excited.
Favorite way to use maple syrup?
It’s so hard to pick just one way, but I am sticking with using maple syrup on a pile of blueberry, chocolate chip pancakes.
Check out Aliza’s easy-to-make Portable Energy Bar Recipe!
Portable Energy Bars:
1 cup nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, etc.)
1/2 cup Untapped Syrup
3 cups of cereal / I usually crush mine up (puffed millet, brown rice flakes, peanut butter panda puffs, etc.)
1/2 cup add ins (dried cherries, chocolate chips, figs, raisins, etc.)
Over low to medium heat on the stovetop warm the nut butter and maple syrup until it becomes well blended. Stir often and do not over heat. Next remove the pot from the heat and stir in cereal and “add ins”. Mix well and mix before the nut butter and syrup begin to cool.
Grease an 8×8 pan and then spread mixture evenly throughout the pan. For good measure I usually take some wax paper and pat down the mixture to make the bars a little more dense and even. Depending on how eager I am to eat one, they then either go in the freezer or refrigerator until firm.