After a long day of climbing in her first-ever trail marathon, Faith Stephan climbed to the top of the podium at her debut Leadville appearance.
Was this your first time tackling the Leadville Marathon? Why did you want to do this race?
Yes this was my first time. I was looking to do something different that would challenge me, and the timing of this race worked well with my training schedule.
What’s your running and racing background? Is the Leadville Marathon typical of your experience (trail, long-distance, altitude), or was it different from what you usually do?
I was a pole-vaulter in college and just started long-distance running when I graduated college in 2010. I have mostly done flat road races and have been focusing on the marathon distance. I have run three marathons, one of them being Boston this last April. This was my first trail marathon.
Take us through your race. Did you have a strategy? Maria Monks was challenging for the win early on. How did you advance and claim the win?
I went out at a comfortable pace that I was confident I could hold. My strength is definitely downhill running, and I’m usually better during my second half of marathons, so I figured if I could keep close to the leader I would have a good shot at first. After passing her I couldn’t let my guard down, and I figured as soon as I did that she would come up on me.
What’s your favorite mid-race fuel?
I don’t enjoy eating anything while running, but I force myself to take espresso- flavored GU Energy Gels. The watermelon and oranges at the aid stations were helpful as well.
Favorite post-race meal?
Usually I try to eat whatever my stomach will accept. Something salty is always good but usually a sandwich of some sort does the trick. I also attempt to have a beer or two after the race.
What was the toughest thing you encountered at this race? Do you have a secret or mantra that keeps you strong through the tough moments?
The lack of oxygen during this race was the most challenging because I have mild asthma. The fact that I have short legs can be a challenge as well. It seemed that each time I power-hiked, eight people with longer legs would pass me. Therefore I got myself to run more often, even on the challenging parts. I tend to be very competitive and determined, especially toward the end of a race, so I usually pick it up and power through to the finish.
Will we see you at the Leadville Trail 100 this year?
No, I don’t really plan on ever doing any distance longer than the marathon. My focus is on the marathon for at least the next few years.