Sunday, July 13, 2008

VT100 Interview: Jeffrey Waldron

Coverage of the 20th running of the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run continues!
If you've missed anything, you can check out previous posts by clicking their link below or by scrolling down below this post:
VT100 Interview - Dot Helling
2006 VT100 Pacer Report
Vermont 100 - Countdown
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Name: Jeffrey Waldron
Age: 22
Residence: Rindge, NH
Birthplace: Concord, MA
Occupation: Student, part time work at a liquor store
Years Running: 2 ½
Running and Other Accomplishments/Hobbies:
Hmmm when looking back on things I am proud to have been co-captain of the varsity baseball and soccer teams in high school along with my twin brother. Our soccer team made the playoffs for the first time in the schools history, pretty cool moment. Other hobbies include hiking, kayaking, mountaineering, ice climbing, and ofcourse clif jumping with my friends

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Jeff about yourself and the upcoming Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run.

SJ: Tell us a little bit about how you became an ultra-runner.

JW: Becoming a runner in general happened by complete chance. As a freshman at Bryant University I was lifting a lot and gaining a ton of muscle, but in turn I was losing my quickness and athletic look. Out of all people, my janitor, a Laotian man named Kham, suggested for me to go on a run with him in order to drop some pounds. Well, one run led to another, 2 miles turned into 3, 4, 5 and before I knew it I was hooked. It turns out Kham has ran over 90 marathons with a 2:41 PR, yikesss, I didn’t know what I was getting into. After months of training I ran the Applefest Half Marathon and got cooked by the hills. However, I loved it, and ran the Breakers marathon with a big ol’ cast on my arm as my first marathon. After learning the ropes about training and nutrition, as well as how to pace (they called me bat out of hell before lol) I was able to run the 2007 Boston Marathon. It was definitely one of the best moments of my life. However, the roads always beat me up, and I began running trails more and more, and the trails became my haven. I officially became an ultrarunner at the 2007 Vermont 50 where I was lucky enough to meet the crazy guy conducting this interview (Sherpa John) as well as Nate Sanel and Paul Kearney, all great guys who I love to laugh and train with.

SJ: What was your progression through the different race distances, did you run a marathon before an ultra?
JW: Before running the Vermont 50 (my first ultra) I ran the Breakers marathon in fall 2006, Boston Marathon in 2007, and the Jay ½ Marathon in the summer of 2007. All these races gave me a nice base for ultras, and the road marathons allowed me to realize that running on trails is where I want to be.

SJ: What is your marathon PR and when was it?
JW: As of now my official marathon PR is 3:33 at Boston in 2007, but I’ve ran the Hyannis Course unofficially in 3:08 for a bib

SJ: How has the sport of ultra-running treated you to this point?
JW: I’m lucky to have fallen into this sport, I learn something new on every run, and especially at every race. No offense to anyone, but ultrarunners have a great hold on life, they aren’t out there cramming numbers in there heads every second, franting over mile splits, elbowing for start position, etc etc they are social people who love being outdoors and I can’t get enough of these people. It’s very cool to meet random people at different races and after talking to them for a few minutes, a once completely random person is now offering you a place to stay out in CO or CA for example. It’s the kindness and care I never experienced in road racing, and in turn I try and keep my arms open to people as well. Also, I love the small, tight knit community, and how many races are runner’s races where all the volunteers understand what you want and need, and why on Gods earth you are running 50 miles haha.

SJ: How long do you see yourself participating in ultra-running?
JW: As long as I can move forward. I’ve already had runners knee, patella tendonitis, and battled those injuries with my eye on the future so whatever is thrown at me I will get through it. My goal is to always finish, even I have to crawl across the finish line, so I want to be running for life.

SJ: Do you have a favorite race to this point?
JW: By far my favorite race has been the Pittsfield Peaks 53 Miler. The course is very challenging, and favors hikers so it’s the perfect race for me. Also, I conducted my volunteer work for the VT100 at this course, so after running parts of this course twice, I feel attached to this race and have began to love the difficulty of this race.

SJ: What is the toughest Ultra you've completed?
JW: Definitely the Pittsfield Peaks 53 Miler because it was a killer hot day, and the course is unforgiving. Tons of climbs and switchbacks that you think will never end, but boy does it feel sweet when you peak out on some of those mountains. My best moment in the race came climbing one of the last peaks where I was just in the zone and hiking the thing like I was on an escalator lol, pretty sweet moment. Toughest part in the race came climbing/descending the last section called the “hell section” where I had some killer quadriceps cramps. I ran the race with Sherpa John, and Nate Sanel, so after a tough 12:20 on the course, it was a great feeling to finish a tough course with your buds.

SJ: So tell us a little about your Vermont 100 Run... when and why did you decide to take on the 100 Mile Distance and in Vermont?
JW: I decided to tackle the 100 mile distance shortly after running the Vermont 50 in the fall because the distance is a great challenge. I love being challenged, and what’s better than trying to run 100 miles? Also, I gotta give credit to DK after reading his book Ultramarathon Man, it is truly inspiring, but definitely one of the best moments that made me want to run a 100 miler was seeing Krissy Moehls ’07 finish at the Hardrock 100. I say this because she laid it all out and her emotions signify the amazing feats one can accomplish if you follow your heart. Definitely someone I look up to in ultrarunning and would love to hopefully meet her one day. I chose Vermont because it is close to home, and being a college student, I am lacking the moola it takes to run a race out west! However, once Vermont is over I’m hoping to run the Grand Teton 100 because I’ve never been out west and am dying to see the trails and utter beauty. Well see if I can scrounge up enough quarters from the sofas lol.

SJ: You were recently in a serious car accident and have rebounded from it greatly, tell us about the accident and how things have been since it happened.
JW: Yea the car accident happened on a Tuesday, when the Pittsfield 53 Miler was on that Saturday, so I was pretty upset about the whole situation at the beginning. I was coming home from work and an 80 year old lady simply pulled out on me from 10 feet away when I was doing 40 so not much I could do to avoid the crash. In short, car was totaled, I got ambulanced out of there, diagnosed with internal swelling and a bruised rib cage, and couldn’t lift a thing for a couple days. But, I just stayed positive and focused on being mentally prepared for this race regardless of my situation. I showed up for the race buzzing off ibuprofen and just powered through it with Nate and Sherpa, what a turn of events to be in a hospital bed on Tuesday to crossing the finish line of one of the hardest 50 milers on Saturday! I’m all good now, I am definitely blessed to have recovered so quickly, guess the ultra Gods are looking out for me!

SJ: Supposing you are nervous.. what are you nervous about the most?
JW: I am more excited than nervous for the race, but if I had to pick something to be nervous about it would be my pace. The course is definitely a runner’s course, so I’m just worried about going out too hard, and getting wrapped up in another runners race. My gameplan is to do what I always do though: run my own race, stay consistent, be patient, leave a lot for the finish, and be tough as nails. In the end, we’ll have to see what happens, but as always goal # 1 is to just finish, especially since it’s my first hundred.

SJ: What previous running experiences will you take with you through to the finish line?
JW: I have grown a lot since I started running a little over two years ago. Specifically, I am leaving a lot more for the finish by starting slow, and my race mentally has done a total 360. I used to get bummed out seeing a big hill or long switchback for example, but now I use those situations to remind myself why I am out there. To run for life, to run for those who can’t run, and to push myself to limits that I never thought possible. I am running for the American Cancer Society, so I will have all those less fortunate than me in my mind while running. Also, I run for my twin brother who is my best bud, and he will be in my mind as he will be in Washington training with the Army. My favorite quote to recite while doing ultras is “tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

SJ: Buckle or Plaque?
JW: Buckle, leaving it all out there. But if no buckle, its ok, it’s not the end of the world.

SJ: Do you have a time goal or ANY goals for that matter?
JW: Goal #1 is to always finish, goal # 2 is to go sub 24

SJ: Who is your pacer and who is your crew?
JW: I have my uncle, Richard Miller, who runs the NE mountain series, pacing me for miles 70-85, and one of my buddies Matt Smith, pacing me miles 85-100. My crew consists of those two guys, as well as my parents.

SJ: What is your overall race strategy?
JW: My strategy is to start slow, and to leave a lot for the finish so that I can actually run in the later miles. I’m going to run my own race, work on getting in and out of aid stations because there are so many of them at the VT100 and that’s a place where I do not want to lose a lot of time. Also, I’m just going to break things down like usual, one aid station to the next, run to see my crew next, and just keeping moving forward. Walk all the hills and focus on a quick turnover. I try to keep things simple, and love to eat so if you see my downing pizza at an aid station, pull me out of there!

SJ: What are you excited about the most?
JW: I’m excited to see my crew at least 8 times during the race because they provide me with a huge boost while running, and they can push me even when I look like complete crap during the race. I’m also looking forward to running at night because it’ll be the first time during a race. Also, just stoked about the finish, the excitement and adrenaline of finishing a 100 miler is definitely the thing I’m most excited about.

SJ: Will you be camping or staying in a local hotel or Inn?
JW: I’ll be camping at Silver Meadow with my two pacers (Rich and Matt) so if you see an older guy who looks like he’s from Hawaii (Rich), a young guy with red hair (Matt), or a kid shaking like a leaf (Me) say hello! haha

SJ: Any other 100 Milers that interest you?
JW: Oh for sure, I’m definitely going to try and tick off almost all the hundreds out there, some just don’t interest me as much as others though. But I love the brutal ones, where hiking comes into play and pure endurance, so the top three have to be Hardrock, Grand Tetons, and Wasatch.

We wish you the very best of luck in your endeavor Jeff and we WILL see you at the finish line.

Thanks SJ, goodluck to everyone else running or pacing!
Good Luck!

Jeff is running on behalf of the American Cancer Society and you can donate to his cause by visiting his First Giving Page at: http://www.firstgiving.com/jeffreywaldron