Saturday, April 27, 2013

Trail Sisters

Gina and I run with the Eigher and Monch looming the background.

Some of our best friends are made while running—nothing like uninhibited conversation paired with complete brain oxygenation to bring people together. For Gina Lucrezi and me, that trail time, combined with being roommates and co-workers in Carbondale, Colorado, for over a year, transformed our relationship from that of simply training partners, to practically sisters.

And, since we spend so much time together—both on trail and off—we decided it made sense to interview one another. While we asked one another our share of poke-fun-at-you-cuz-I-know-you-can-take-it questions, we also asked some serious down-to-the-marrow things about running and life.

(You can also view this interview on the Salomon Running blog, here.)

Ashley to Gina:

What's your favorite pastry?
Evil question for two reasons: One, it’s impossible to choose, and, two, now I want one!  … I’d say a Danish loaded with cheese and berries.

If you could be any movie star, who would it be?
Easy … Grace Kelly. Besides being gorgeous, from Pennsylvania (where I’m from), and a princess, she acted with Cary Grant!

How did you become a trail runner?
Nancy Hobbs of The American Trail Running Association took me on some trail runs when I first moved to Colorado Springs a few years ago. I was instantly hooked.

You ran your first ultra last year (and what an ultra to debut with), Speedgoat 50K. Tell us a little bit about that experience.
Well, I might have been a bit over zealous … but you only live once, right? Speedgoat 50K was close by, had great competition and came at a good time of year in terms of my race schedule. I knew it was going to be hella hard, but I figured if I got the hardest one out of the way the others might come easier.

You’re edging your foot into the ultrarunning door this year. What's the motivation there?
Well, I’ve always had tons of energy. My family and close friends are quite aware of this. … I decided to funnel that energy into something that would take more than an hour to complete. Also, Howard Nippert (100K specialist, my former coach) would relay his battle stories and training adventures over our morning runs and coffee breaks. I’ve been interested ever since.

What, in your opinion, makes a trail awesome?
Almost all of my awesome trail runs were shared with great people. I believe that sharing those adventures were the reasons why the runs were so amazing. When it comes to terrain, though, I’m a sucker for pine-tree shaded high-alpine trails with relatively non-technical, soft surfaces. 

You’re obsessed with bacon. Why?
HA! OK, it’s true. It must be the salty and savory flavor, but it can’t be crunchy. I like my bacon still squealing. I crave it after a long run.

We know you love the top 40 (music that is). What's your favorite pump-up song, your favorite long run song? 
Although this would normally correct, I’m currently broadening my horizons. Right now I’m digging Birdy Nam Nam-Defiant Order for my pump up song, and Lindsey Stirling-Crystallize for a long run song.

What’s it like running with your training partner Ashley Arnold? I heard that she can't run in a straight line and is always blowing snot rockets on your feet?
Ha! Ash is a pain in the ass. Just kidding J Seriously, she is a great training partner. We are pretty good at reading each other, knowing when to pick it up or slow it down…or if we should do hills or keep it flat. We both have different strengths/weaknesses, so we force each other to work on areas that wouldn’t always be on the top of lists for fun.  Yes...Ash seems to forget I’m next to her when she feels the need to blow her nose, and never likes to yell/point left or right at intersections. I guess the plan is to help quicken my response time…dodge the snot and avoid falling when Ash cuts me off at turns.

Why do you say “yay” so much?
Great question…I don’t know?  It is like a go-to expression for me whenever something exciting is happening. I haven’t used it once in this the way!

Describe why running is therapeutic to you.
For a long time running wasn’t therapeutic. It was something I did because I happened to excel at it. I started to get sick of running just to compete/perform. I didn’t want to give up the sport, but had to find another reason to love it. After going through some unfortunate life experiences, I found that escaping on peaceful beautiful trails allowed me to relax, and to sort my thoughts. It helps bring clarity, makes me feel healthy, and is altogether comforting.

What is a perfect run? What does that mean?
The perfect run is any run I finish feeling better/stronger/and more positive than when I started, sans endorphins. It is hard to walk away from every training run or race in a good headspace, so I really cherish the times when I do.

Gina to Ashley:

Why trail running? I heard you were a pretty bad-ass hurdler back in the day. 
Aside from when I’m in the studio dancing or putting together choreography, trail running is the only time I feel free. Still, I love the smell of the track. I can rarely pass up interval sessions on a hot, sunny day. ...

If you could only run in one place for the rest of your life, where would it be?
The Colorado Elk Mountains if the rest of my life also meant eternal summer. Ideally, though, I'd live in a place with jagged, high mountains and calm, perfect-for-laying-in-the-sun beaches. 

It takes a ton of work to force you to sit still. How many miles do you have to run in order to feel exhausted, and actually just relax?
I don’t know if it’s possible to run that many miles. I'm still trying. Maybe after Leadville? 

Music plays a huge roll in your life. What type do you listen to when you are on the trails?
Lately I've been listening to a rotating collection of Fleetwood Mac, Beach House, Andy Stott, Holy Other and Destroyer during runs.

Besides your passion for running, you also love dancing. Do you believe the two can benefit each other?
Yes, they definitely can, but I think it's tricky and you have to be careful. Knock on wood, I’ve never had shin splints or any foot problems because of the strength dancing brings to my lower legs and feet. Sometimes when we're heavy into rehearsals for an upcoming performance and I'm using all sorts of different muscles in the studio, I am always going into runs feeling sore in weird places. 

Favorite ice cream flavor?
Coconut, non-dairy coconut. 

What do you believe is the most important piece of training for trail/mountain running?

You have a cat. How did you come up with her name, and how many things does she knock of the counters/tables per day?
Fugazi, like the band. Yes, she has a propensity to knock at least 15 items off the counter a day. 

What race are you most excited for this season?

Can you explain what a "salad dance" is?
Salad Dance (noun): When Ashley and Gina sauté vegetables, split an avocado and make giant salads with corn chips while simultaneously bustling around the kitchen without bumping into one another despite unpredicted movements that are combined with laughing and talking rapidly in outdoor voices

What does running provide you with that nothing else can?
Peace, a quiet mind.

Training partners, do you find them helpful, or a major pain in the ass?
I can't stand training partners. Gina Lucrezi is the worst of the bunch, too.

What run/race from your past "hooked" you to the sport?
Desert RATS Stage race in 2009. I ran it pretty much off the couch and though I was going to die on the second day. I didn’t and I loved it. There is something so incredibly satisfying about simply getting up day after day and doing nothing but running, moving forward. It produces a cleansing effect. That is part of what trail racing is to me: a cleanse.`

Do you have a favorite race or race distance?
Taking a divergence from long races and focusing on the mountain running scene last year further confirmed how much I love ultrarunning. Ultrarunning  produces a body-aching physical pain that forces your mind to reach beyond the uncomfortable—it’s a productive masochism, a catharsis of sorts. Running long distances in the mountains brings freedom, a sense of happiness, of peace and a greater understanding that can allow us to grow and better ourselves.