ELLIE GREENWOOD Q&A
Facebook Live Q&A with Coach Ellie
1. Coaching accomplishment(s) you’re most proud of and why?
This is actually quite a hard question, but likely Angie Woolman's first attempt at the 100 mile distance and finishing Javelina 100 in 25hrs at age 63. Or in 2015, Eoin Craigie running a 2h36m marathon at LA (his previous best was just under 3hrs) - inspiring as he put in the work, stuck to tough workouts and then nailed the race on a very hot day where many others struggled. It was inspiring to see someone have the confidence to run a race at a pace far in excess of their previous best pace i.e. go into unknown territory.
2. Most exotic personal running experience?
The North Face Endurance Challenge just outside of Santiago, Chile, 2011. Beautiful scenery and fun to race in a country where I didn't speak the language. I put a Canadian flag on my hydration pack and was chatting to folks in English before the race even started which I appreciated! The aid stations were very well stocked and well run, but lacking friendliness of North American races. When I arrived at the finish line I asked if they were volunteers or not and was told no, they were paid employees which made a lot of sense - efficient and great at their job but not the same vibe as in the US or Canada which was interesting. There were also lots of cow pats in the fields we ran through which meant we ended up running on shoes that felt like platform shoes as they accumulated so much mud/cow pat - it was funny and frustrating at the same time. I placed 1st female and 3rd overall, and certainly got some interesting looks as participation of woman in running, especially ultra, events in Chile is far lower than in North America.
3. Favorite local trail?
Lynn Headwaters to Norvan Falls. This is a super accessible out
and back trail of about 18kms in North Vancouver. It gets well
used but not so much that it is ever crowded. It runs by the
river which can often become a raging torrent with snow melt
and rain, so has a feeling of being quite wild. In general the trail
is very runnable with only a small amount of incline, which I
enjoy, and it mixes up some really fast sections with some fun
root and rock hopping.
4. Favorite cross training activity?
Hiking. In North Van we have numerous trails that go up Grouse Mountain - most are about 2.5k long with 800m of ascent, and then I ride the gondola down to avoid downhill impact. It's great cross training as much lower impact than running, I still get outside in the fresh air and in the winter once at the top of the trail, there is the option to add on some snowshoe hiking on some marked trails up there which is a nice little taste of winter without getting into the extremes of back country terrain.
5. Personal running accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?
Comrades 2014 when I won. Despite a strong finish to that race, I went through a whole host of low points. I had dreamed that I could possibly win that race (after coming second in 2012 and then missing the race in 2013 with a stress fracture) but it ended up being a roller coaster of a day where I gave up on the idea of winning but never gave up on the idea of running as fast as I could. It was with less than 3kms to the finish that I moved from 3rd to 1st and then hung on for dear life. I have never run so scared and yet with so much determination as I knew I was in possibly a once in a life-time position to achieve my biggest running goal ever.
6. Most unusual coaching issue you’ve had to deal with?
I had a client who had newly started with me, was just recovering from a stress fracture and had an entry to Western States. Had it been practically any other race I would have said I really wouldn't advise the client to even train for the race, let alone start but I know how hard it is to get a WS entry. We therefore had to be careful - push the training a little, but not too much - after all, having a good foot rather than being well trained was much more important. As well as focusing on making the most of the training that he could do, we focused on nailing the logistics and prep - if a client can't run to their potential then other factors such as heat training, having a spot-on fuelling plan, etc, become all the more important.