Atypical Marathon Preparation with Aliza Lapierre

Aliza Lapierre is an ultrarunner from right here in Vermont. She recently ran the Vermont City Marathon -- where she took the title of fastest female Vermonter -- all the more impressive since she had a five-hour training run the day prior! Aliza has big fish to fry later this season, so we checked in with her to see how the year is going so far.

Hi Aliza! You opted for some functional cross training this spring by spending time in the woods pulling taps with the Slopeside/UnTapped crew. How does being a Vermonter factor into your training?

I really take pride in being a Vermonter and have really enjoyed the opportunity to learn firsthand about the process of making syrup. I’ve learned it goes far beyond just the sugar house and the boiling of sap to syrup. For example, at the end of each season the taps need to be removed from the trees. The terrain is extensively varied, with cliffs, hills, streams, downed trees and of course sap lines. It’s all manual labor, hiking through the woods to pull the taps.

It was fun to slow down and to be in nature and to better learn the land that I frequently train on. I know the trails well, but once off the trails I was at first disoriented so learning more about the topography of the sugar bush was interesting. I also enjoy being more involved in the process puts me that much closer to the products that I am using to fuel. It’s certainly hard work, but working on functional fitness while being in the woods as they transform from the dormant winter landscape into a flourishing spring landscape is really neat.

You put together a very impressive Memorial Day weekend: Saturday featured a five hour training run and you followed that up with the Vermont City Marathon on Sunday. How’d the race go for you?

Vermont City Marathon has a special place in my heart as it was my first marathon many years ago. I've been in thick of a building phase for the Western States Endurance Race, a 100 miler in California, so have been putting in some long back to back training runs. Given that I didn't want to miss the opportunity to run in the event I decided to incorporate it into my training. This meant no taper in the week leading up to it, then a five hour run the day prior. It was hard to wrap my mind around toeing the line in a race after what was already a big week, but I tried to remind myself to just have fun and see how each mile unfolded.

I felt great for the first 8 or 9 miles and then went through a rough patch where my pace significantly slowed. I had to work to keep my mind focused and to not give up. I reminded myself that I should be tired and that it shouldn't feel easy and that this was not uncharted territory as when I am training for hundred milers it is not atypical to put in long back to back runs. It was awesome having UnTapped as the fuel on course so I took Coffee UnTapped to put more pep in my step and I was able to cross the line as the first Female Vermonter. It was an honor to earn that position as I've admired many runners that have earned that title throughout my running career.

Holy cow, that’s awesome. Congratulations! How do you fuel for a weekend like that?

During all of my runs I fuel with UnTapped. For drink mix my favorite is the Lemon Tea Mapleaid and I then I usually reach for Maple UnTapped to consume 100 calories per half hour of time. These go down really easily for me and I don't get flavor fatigue, which is key given that I can be relying on them for up to 24 hours straight in a race.

When I am doing a lot of high volume I try not to think amount the amount of calories I am eating, and focus more on eating nutritious foods. I predominately eat the same breakfast every day of the year, that being oatmeal with cut up fresh fruit and berries and I add in some form of protein such as a big scoop of almond butter – of course I sweeten it with maple syrup. Mid-morning I have a solid snack and my favorite is trail mix that has cashews, cranberries, and dark chocolate. Lunch is usually a large salad with chickpeas and nutritional yeast and then dinner usually is carb heavy with quinoa, sweat potato and black bean mixture in a corn tortillas. Each day I usually find a excuse to grab a coffee beverage of sorts and always carry a syrup packet with me to naturally sweeten it.

Real foods. We love it. That's the basis for all UnTapped nutrition! What else do you have coming up?

Last weekend I did the Cayuga 50 which was the national championship for the 50 mile distance. This was the weekend following VCM and again I used it for training towards WSER, which is June 29th. In August I hope to go after the fastest known time (FKT) on the Long Trail.