2014 was a busy year for Hillsound brand ambassador, Jeff Pelletier. The avid trail runner and Vancouver local bagged 2nd place in the CMTS Cap Crusher 8km, 17th in the Squamish 50km and completed the 150km Wonderland Trail in 2 days. A video of his Trail Running Highlights from the past year is available here. Last month, Hillsound caught up with Jeff to discuss his recent run in the Chimera 100 mile Mountain Race in California:
H: Hi Jeff! Congratulations for completing your first ever 100 mile race in just 25:30 at the Chimera this past month! How do you feel?
J: Thanks! My legs felt surprisingly good within a few days of the race but, for several weeks afterwards, I felt a really deep fatigue. My appetite was on another level too – I was eating literally double the portion sizes I’m used to, which is a lot 😉
H: To enter your first 100 miler must have been a very hard decision to make – how did you come to this decision and what drove you to complete it?
J: I tend to think racing should be about smart execution, not gutting your way through an almost impossible challenge. It’s like the last big run in a long training plan when all of your hard work (hopefully) comes together, along with your fuelling and pacing strategy.
I hit a bit of a rough patch towards the 2/3 of the race, but got a third or fourth wind and ended up feeling progressively stronger through the last 30 miles.
The race as a whole was a challenge, but I never had any doubts about whether I would complete it. I think this just proves that I got it right in training, more than anything.
H: We know that you got serious about running around the age of 27. When did you come to the realization that running long distances around the world was your passion?
J: Mine was a gradual but steady progression. Moving past the marathon to the 50k, 50 mile, 100k, and finally 100 mile distances seemed to happen very naturally. Each time the bar had been raised, it changed my perspective on what I was capable of if I work hard enough. I’m now confident that 100 miles is really just the start, although I would like to get faster and more competitive at ‘shorter’ distances like 50k too.
Ultra distance running now gives me the fitness and skills to explore further, higher, faster and in more remote locations around the world. Being able to cover distances in a day or two that most might take up to week to complete is what I love most.
H: Did you participate in any sport teams in highschool/college? What other sports do you enjoy now?
J: I was never very good at team sports, but I did always enjoy hiking, camping, and snowboarding. Endurance sports tend to be more of a mental challenge than physical, and my lack of any natural athleticism fortunately doesn’t seem to hold me back.
I’ve recently taken up Nordic Skiing as cross-training in the off-season, too.
H: You have travelled around the world and ran/trekked many different routes – do you have a favourite trail?
J: I absolutely fell in love with Nepal last Winter when trekking the Annapurna Circuit with my girlfriend Jane, and will definitely be going back. In fact, I have a crazy dream to fastpack the entire Great Himalayan Trail one day, or at least the Nepalese section. The terrain, the people, and the culture just combine for such a great experience – I’d definitely recommend that everyone explore the region.
H: You and Hillsound have more than one thing in common. We’re both proud Vancouverites! What’s your favourite local trail to run or hike?
J: I’m all about the views, so I love the Howe Sound Crest Trail which stretches from Cypress to Porteau Cove. I also enjoy Hanes Valley since it provides such quick access to the backcountry, as well as an amazing view from Crown Mtn.
H: How did you prepare for this race? Strict diet and training? Any guilty pleasures?
J: As a pescetarian (vegetarian with a sushi addiction), I try to eat a healthy, mainly plant-based diet. But I’m addicted to carbs, and I enjoy good craft beer which Vancouver has no shortage of. Fish N’ Chips after a run are definitely a guilty pleasure.
I do try to think of food as fuel and to keep it clean, but running longer distances means I get to eat a lot more of it. Oh yea, and lots of beet juice.
H: Any particular songs or genre of songs that help you stay pumped?
J: I used to listen to music when I ran roads, but I never do on the trails. In my car on the way to a run, I’ll typically be listening to any genre with the words Indie, Math, or Core in it.
H: Since this was a race outside of your usual grounds, I wanted to ask – did you see any familiar faces?
J: I was fortunate to be running alongside my good friend Dave Melanson for most of the race, who convinced me to come down with him. I knew a couple of people from social media, but most were new faces that I look forward to seeing again.
It’s of course great going to local races that can feel like a little reunion, but it’s also nice to toe the line without the pressure of racing your friends and for a chance to meet some new ones. Racing is like travelling – go alone and you’re guaranteed to meet good people on the way.
H: Since the race was in the middle of November, you were probably still very accustomed to the cold and wet weather in BC. How did you adapt to the Los Angeles weather in time for the race?
J: It was a little warm during the day, but fortunately nothing I couldn’t handle. At night it got quite cold and windy at higher elevations, and quite a few runners dropped out for fear of hyperthermia, but we felt right at home!
I’ll be spending 6 days in the desert running the Grand to Grand Ultra this September which will be a different story. For that, I’ll most likely have to hit the sauna for some heat training, and will probably head down a week early to better acclimatize to the dry heat. I’m not sure how I’m going to learn to practice running in sand dunes though..
H: Out of the many reasons you love to run outdoors, what do you find the most rewarding, and what motivates you to continue to run?
J: Running has really just become an excuse to play in the moutains all day with a great group of people.
I showed a video to a friend in Ontario recently of us running on the Howe Sound Crest Trail, and he commented that it looked like we were in one big playground. And that’s exactly how it feels sometimes!
H: What does “competition” mean to you?
J: I thrive on friendly competition during a race – it’s what motivates me, not just to push hard, but to really give it that extra effort. I’ve got a few friends I consider to be faster than me, but not completely out of reach, which gives me something to aim for.
But in running, unlike in team sports, competition tends to be internally focused. It’s about becoming faster, stronger, and generally just a smarter athlete than you were last season.
H: Thank you so much for your time Jeff! Happy 2015!