Exploring New Challenges with a Playful Spirit – 2014 Texas Trail Series Ultra Women’s Champ – A Chat with Lise Plantier
“I am always happy to wake up on the weekend and get out on the trail.” – Lise Plantier
In the last race of the 2014 Texas Trail Series, Lise Plantier of Texas, earned the Women’s Ultra division win! Lise put together seven top series race finishes including the 100 mile win at Cactus Rose last October.
Lise’s trail running spark was lit after moving to the United States from her home country of France and deciding to take a break from triathlon.
And that spark quickly led to a warm and passionate flame as she observed her love for the natural outdoors, the love of running trails, and the love of its community.
Enjoy our Q&A chat about Lise’s journey in this sport and 2014 Texas Trail Series memories. (Originally this had been planned to be an EB Podcast but due to the unfortunate poor recording, I instead transcribed it below. Sorry for the delay.)
EB: What is your running background and when did you start running on the trails?
Lise Plantier: So, I don’t really have a run background like most people I know here (Texas). I started about seven years ago while I was still in France. And never really ran a race until I arrived in the US. Started doing some triathlons and wanted to take a break and that is how I found the trails. I joined a trail running group with my friend Erik Stanley and started running the smaller race distances in Austin. I first started running the trails about three years ago.
EB: What did you initially enjoy about the trails?
Lise: Just being outside. It is always interesting. There is always something different on the trails. If you run the same trail it looks different at different times of year and time of day. Have always liked hiking and being in the mountains and I get that feeling back, when running on the trails.
EB: Do you still enjoy these same characteristics now?
Lise: Yes! And I keep reminding myself this. There are some races I have done here or places that I have been running, and I run the same places but it just never gets old. And for wildlife, I am like a five year old kid every time I see a bunny or deer.
EB: What was your first trail race?
Lise: My first trail race I really remember was a Angel’s Staircase 50k in Washington state. It’s one of those races that has absolutely no road running of any kind, just singletrack the entire way. It was just beautiful.
EB: What were some of your strongest memories from that race?
Lise: It was my first experience so I was running with a friend and just wanted to finish it and figured at one point she would get so mad at me because every mile I was saying “Oh my gosh, this is so beautiful! This is gorgeous!” It was literally every mile. That has to be my strongest memory.
EB: Were there any big lessons learned from the 50k and had you ran road marathons in the past?
Lise: No, actually I think my longest distance up to that point was a 30k. I just had no desire to run a marathon on the road. That sounded so much harder to me that even a longer distance on a trail.
EB: Any surprises at the 50k?
Lise: It actually surprised me that I finished it. I was so happy the entire time. Had some bad IT band issues at the end that I have never experienced before but I was still smiling and just so happy to do it.
EB: How would you describe the role trail running currently plays in your life?
Lise: It’s my stress relief from work. That’s the one thing that keeps me sane, I guess. And during the week the training runs aren’t always fun or easy and sometimes I have to push myself and get out and do it especially when it is cold outside. The way I train, on the weekend I will do those long runs and take a day trip. It’s a big part of my life right now.
EB: Are you a run-only type of runner or do you cross-train as well?
Lise: I do cross-train a little. Of course during the week I focus on getting in mileage so I don’t have lots of time to do anything else. I am working at a gym call Atomic Athlete. I go there between two and three times a week and do some strength and conditioning training. It has been helping me a lot and I can really see the difference. And in the summer I try to go and swim.
EB: What kind of strength training are you doing?
Lise: It is regular exercises with dumbbells, Olympic lifts, and things like that. They really push us to uncomfortable places which I think is very useful in any long races because you know you have to keep going.
EB: A big part of the sport in improving is consistency, whether that be training, nutrition, recovery. Do you have any specific habits in your daily or weekly life that you feel have supported your consistency in this sport?
Lise: I will get a race I really want to do, which would be my ‘A’ race and create a training plan and I really try to follow that plan as closely as possible…and not think about it. If initially the plan was to go out and run that much during the week…I don’t question it.
EB: Are you one that trains mainly at a certain time of the day?
Lise: I am more of an evening trainer and that’s mostly because of my work. I start work pretty early so I couldn’t get the quality and length of the workout done in the morning. In the morning I get in my strength training unless it’s the weekend then I will run in the morning.
EB: What does your family think of your involvement in the ultra running world?
Lise: I am not quite sure they really understand what it means. I say things and they are like “OK…” but I think they don’t really quite understand.
EB: Are you a reader? Do you have any favorite run related books?
Lise: The two ones I always keep in mind is the The Extra Mile. A friend of mind bought it for me a couple of years ago for Christmas. Just reading the story of this women’s running mileage and it was just so inspiring to me and I wonder if it played a roll in my desire to run distance. And of course Eat and Run by Scott Jurek.
EB: Let’s talk about the 2014 Texas Trail Series. The year started with a bang with both Bandera 100k and Rocky Raccoon 100M within four weeks of each other. That is not easy to put these two races back-to-back. What was your training and recovery approach between these two races?
Lise: I have been preparing all year for that because actually Rocky Raccoon was my first 100. I really took Bandera 100k as my last long run for Rocky Raccoon but still went out to go as good as I could. In December (2013) I started having some knee pains and things were just not right so I had to take some time of before Bandera and between Bandera and Rocky. I was just glad things held together for the races. My last few miles at Bandera were really hard, I remember being in pain but I made it through. Rocky was much better. It was a different experience being my first 100. Having my friend there crewing for me. It was much better than I expected initially.
EB: You ran sub-21 hours, that is a heck of a first 100. Were there any surprises being your first 100 as compared to the 100k distance?
Lise: Yes, the big difference between the mile 60-ish to 100 for me was at the end of the 100 was very emotional. I got mad which I am usually not that kind of person. I don’t know why but I wanted to cry but couldn’t cry because I was too tired. It was this whole unexpected behaviour that I didn’t know what was happening or how to control. That was a big surprise for me.
The running, it is always interesting how I feel…you go on a 20 mile run on your weekend for training and you arrive at the end of 20 and your like “Oh my gosh, I don’t have any legs, how can I run 30 or 60” and somehow you go and run. In terms of distance for the 100, that is kinda how I felt. I was tired of course and walked a lot at the end, I still felt like I had just enough to do the 100.
EB: When you look back on the year and series, what do you feel was one of your best ran races of the series?
Lise: My best I have to say was Cactus Rose. Cactus went pretty good for me. The beginning of the race was actually the hardest. I couldn’t find a pace. It was extremely different then my first 100 (Rocky), I just got it done. I had a good race even though my time was not amazing, but pretty good. It went good for me.
EB: Texan Anabel Pearson was in chase throughout the race. Did you know she was behind you?
Lise: Yes, I had a couple of women that knew I had passed in the first loop and I knew they were still behind me. At that point I was moving as much as I could so you never know what can happen. If she would have passed me back, there was nothing else I could have done and she deserved it. I didn’t slow down and was just running my race.
EB: After Cactus, I don’t think the series was wrapped up yet. Nicole Studer was slightly ahead in points. You then ran Brazos Bend 50 in December (last race of the series) which created the small 8 point gap for the series win. How did Brazos feel?
Lise: Brazos was really hard. Coming after Cactus I was a little burned out. I was still training and getting in the runs. It’s a flat course and not my favorite and knew it was going to hurt. I need to run the race and just went and did it. I didn’t know if Nicole would show up or not. I guess luckily for me she didn’t show up. I think I had to run over 70 more miles than her just to get a couple of points ahead of her. She is an amazing woman.
EB: After 7 big ultra races and other races throughout the year, how did you keep the body and mind fresh?
Lise: I don’t look at all those races as ‘A’ races. Just an opportunity go out and have a long run. I just love the community. What was great this year in between some of those long races, I had to take some time off and had the opportunity to volunteer at some of the races. I just love the spirit. Seeing other people. Seeing others finish hard races for them is very inspiring and all those together makes me want to keep doing it. I am always happy to wake up on the weekend and get out on the trail.
EB: Lise, thanks so much for sharing some of your journey in this sport and memories from the 2014 Texas Trail Series.
Lise: Thank you so much.
Posted on 20 Mar 2015