Interview With Badwater 135 Legend and Ultrarunner Pam Reed

What keeps you motivated?

I was just dogging it and not feeling great around 100, maybe 110 miles. My crew was always with me. I told them not to run with me, and I put on an iPod and I started running. And I just did so great. I ran 7 ½ to 8-minute miles for five miles.

This one guy and I had been going back and forth. We were in the same wave. I passed him and another guy, and I passed the guy who won last year, whose name is Jorge Pacheco. And that just feels really good to be able to pass people.

Then I slowed down a little. I went through the town and hit the mountain going up and I went really slow. And then Jorge had his surge and ran by me up the hill, and I finished right behind him.

The key to all this stuff is you really want to feel good at the end. And that's the other hard thing. How hard do you go out? How much do you push? Nothing worse can happen than if you blow up.

Through all this are you able to take it all in--the climbing, the landscape, the area that you were in?

Yes, actually I did. The crew, at times they'd say, "Oh, look," and I'd moan, "Ugh." But there were times when they'd say, "Look at that view." And then when I'm feeling good and running good, I'd look up and go, "Yeah." You can appreciate it.

But when you're in one of those downers, boy. No. Nothing looks good. Nothing feels good. Nothing's good enough.

What do you think about the new wave of ultrarunners coming out to these races?

It's great. I think it's cool that they're trying it and doing it. I think you can have a lot of success for a couple of years then eventually it's gonna hit where you have some down time.

I think that happens a lot in ultrarunning. You'll be racing really well and what happens is because it's ultrarunning, I think we're addicted to it. Eventually the addiction overcomes the goodness of it. We overdo it.

So then you end up going in these lulls. That definitely has happened to me where I keep doing it and doing it, and it's probably too many events in one year and you have to pay the price. And you pay the price for a little while, and then you come back again. This stuff takes a lot out of you.

What's next?

My husband and I are doing a bunch of Ironman events. We're doing the Half Ironman in Calgary and then at the end of July we're doing Louisville. And then right after Louisville I'm doing Wasatch--it'll be my 13th time. And then that next week is supposed to be the Wyoming 100, but I might do the 50. Because that one's right in my own backyard, it's hard not to do it. We might do Ironman Florida and then there's Ironman Arizona.

Would you ever transition out of ultrarunning and focus more on triathlon?

No, no. I want to keep triathlon more as fun. They're fun. They're really good events and my husband likes to do them so we do them. But no. I love running. Running is just a big part of who I am and what I like to do. I can't see getting out of it. I just think I'm gonna try to look for different things to do.

One goal in the back of my mind is I'd like to do 10 Leadvilles. I've done over 10 Wasatch. I'd like to do 10 Western States. And now I have six (finishes) for Badwater. Maybe I could do 10 of all of them. Ten is a number in ultrarunning that is special. For Wasatch you get a ring. For Leadville you get this humungous 1000 mile belt buckle.

You know in a way we're all kind of crazy. The funny thing is the minute you do something, someone will say, "What are you doing next?" and you think, "Can't I just have this?" But you can't. That's just the way it goes.

Do you want to come back for Badwater next year?

I don't know. As I said, I keep coming back because I thought I could win. I have to really think about how I could do it differently. Maybe go up to the summit because I've never gone up Mt. Whitney before, and that's how the race used to be run originally.

What advice do you have for ultrarunners--and all runners--out there?

You're way more capable of doing things than you think you are. And that's probably the premise of ultrarunning in general. Nobody can run 100 miles, right? Nobody can run 135 miles. Not until you try, until you just get out there and do it.

Obviously you have to train, but you don't have to be wacko about it. I really believe you can do so much more than you think you can do. And that's the cool part about it: being able to accomplish something that is pretty far out there.

When you think about something like Badwater, it's crazy. It's just unbelievable because it's so hot out there. It's 135 miles. It's far. It hit me when I hit 90 miles. Wow. I still have 45 more miles to go. That is a long way.

And that's where the biggest word in ultrarunning, in my opinion, is patience. You've got to have a lot of patience. Even when you're running a marathon all of a sudden you feel like you want to get there. You get panicky kind of. You're not doing what you want to do, and you panic. It gets crazy. You get so hyper about it. And you've got to just let it go and let it come and you'll get there. Be patient.
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