Professional ultrarunner (and UnTapped employee!) Aliza Lapierre hit the road for the first time in over a year for the sake of competition. She’s obviously not let the grass grow under her feet as she won the recent Ultra Race Of Champions 100k in Virginia. One of the friendliest people you’ll meet in an already friendly sport, here’s our interview with Aliza Lapierre.
Welcome home and congratulations on your recent victory! You’ve done an amazing job staying local during the pandemic. How was it hitting the road again?
Yes, for the past year I did make the personal choice to put racing on hold so I could adhere to the guidelines that the State of Vermont put forth during the pandemic. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a well over twelve months since I have pinned on a bib to toe the line at a race. Earlier this month I raced the UROC 100k in Virginia and despite being vaccinated I was very anxious. Anxious about what? Absolutely everything from the travel and lodging to trying to anticipate if my love for competition still existed.
What’s the one thing that you missed the most over the past year?
Over the past year I have really missed the ultrarunning community. Years ago, when I ran my first ultra what I absolutely fell in love with was the people. From the participants to the volunteers, everyone was welcoming, encouraging and supportive. I have meet some of my current-day best friends while racing, training and volunteering and I think that speaks volumes about the type of people who participate in the sport. I have missed them, even the ones that get a bit cranky when their blood sugar dips because they have waiting too long to eat.
What’s something you didn’t realize you’d miss in the window of no racing?
I have always considered myself a homebody and have always found going somewhere different to be somewhat stressful and anxiety provoking so I didn’t anticipate that I would miss the travel that comes along with racing. Recently in just traveling to Virginia to race I was amazed at how excited I felt to explore a different area. I also missed human connection as I really enjoyed hearing locals’ stories about everything from hunting mushrooms to how they navigated the pandemic. All and all it made me realize that when I travel, I might get nervous, but at the same time it is a growth opportunity.
Living in Vermont, you have to be creative in your year-round training. What have you been up to the Green Mountain state to remain fit in lieu of racing?
Not racing this past year has provided me with the opportunity to explore more of our state via human powered adventure. Last summer I spent countless days in the mountains putting in long efforts on the Long Trail and enjoyed connecting local trail systems via dirt roads. Speed was not the goal; it was more just relentless forward motion while enjoying my surroundings. During the winter trail options are much more limited so road running becomes necessary and more cross training comes in to play. This past winter I really enjoyed skinning up mountains with friends and then this spring I bought a mountain bike and everything seems to look different on a bike!
In retrospect I think that during the past year I have created personal challenges and my coach has created challenges to keep me progressing without me even necessarily realizing it. For example, late this winter and spring I was training for a “mock half marathon” and I had a lot of fun doing intervals and tempo runs after faster speeds than I traditionally do for my ultra-training.
(Editor’s note: to read more of Aliza’s “atypical training” visit this blog about her marathon preparation.)
Can you walk through your nutritional tactics or any tips you can share that fuel you over the course of an ultra?
In general, my fueling plan is rather simple, but it works hour after hour. For any event between 50k to 100 miles I aim to consume 280 calories an hour for entirety of the race. For me this traditionally consists of one serving of Lemon Tea Mapleaid and two Maple UnTappeds. Both products are really easy to get down while I am running and are easily digestible. If conditions are hot, I make sure to focus on taking in UnTappeds that contain sodium and during the late hours of the night I rely on Coffee UnTapped for the caffeine.
Lastly, as we look into the future here in the spring of 2021, what did you discover during your first event back?
I learned that travel looks little different, from social distancing and mask wearing to sanitizing your seat and armrests when you board an aircraft. At the same time racing looks a little different from prepackaged single serve food at aid stations to spaced out starts and less spectators. Although during my first event back what I discovered has remained the same is my love for the community and the sport that we call ultrarunning.