Five Questions: Maddy Hribar

Courtesy: Thomas Neuberger/Maddy Hribar
Courtesy: Thomas Neuberger/Maddy Hribar

I first learned about Maddy Hribar from the Facebook postings of friends of mine there, namely Ally Speirs, Caleb Masland, and Peter Larson.  I friended her and have followed her running exploits and successes for a few months now.

She is an incredibly talented runner, speedy and resilient.  And it seems that she never really stops smiling. One Facebook friend of hers summed her influence perfectly: she said her race the next day was going to be rainy and muddy but she was gong to channel her “inner Maddy” and take Maddy’s “who cares, Let’s rock ‘n roll” attitude.

Yes, in January, needing a 20 mile run, she signed up for  marathon, and was the first woman finisher.  Not bad, eh?

This past weekend she finished 3rd woman overall at the Hat Run 50K.

Many thanks to Maddy for agreeing to the interview:

1)Let’s see, in the fall you won the NE Ultramarathon championship. In January you had a 20 mile training run scheduled, so on a whim you register for a marathon–then finish first of all women with a 3:04. I say this with all respect and admiration: FREAK! Seriously, though. Tell me about the marathon. Did you just get into the race and feel it, or was this sort of planned in the sense of saying “let’s see what I have here?”

The marathon was a last minute idea. Ive been trying to go sub 3 for a year now, and just missed it at Boston last year (3:01). With training for Leadville last year I didn’t have the speed in me going into the fall, so I started training again in December for Boston 2014. I was visiting a friend in Orlando at the end of January and he was signed up for a half marathon. I looked at the course profile and saw how flat it was and figured I had a good shot at  going sub three. I also managed to convince my boyfriend, my sister, and her boyfriend to run the half ha-ha they all swear they wont go on vacation with me again. The course was super flat, but it had a ton of winding turns through a development and I only had about a month of speedwork in my legs. I held my sub three pace through mile 17 and couldn’t hang on. I was still happy with the time for early in the season,  and hey – its pretty cool to win a marathon right? Also there were mimosa’s at the end, but I digress..

2) Have you always been a runner? High school? And when did you realize: “Hey, I’ve got some talent here?”

Hmmm, I did run in high school, track and cross country, I was mediocre. I didn’t run competitively in college. My dad was a 2:40 marathoner, and when I graduated I started training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. My goal was to finish obviously, but I really wanted to qualify for Boston. I did manage to qualify and went on to complete several other marathons and then began to dabble in ultras. I don’t think I really realized how much faster I could be until I started training with Coach Caleb last year. I had never done any speedwork or tempo runs when I started working with him, and my marathon PR dropped from 3:12 to 3:01. My 5k PR from 19 something to 17:35, and I finished Top Ten at the Leadville 100. It was a good year.

3) You were at Boston last year. Tell me what it means to you, especially after the bombings. 

Shortly after running my first marathon (and qualifying for Boston) I moved to Massachusetts. The Boston Marathon has become my home court. I’ve run the race every year since I moved here. This will be my fourth one. To say that I love it would  be an understatement. When the bombs went off last year- I was waiting in the family area for my sister and best friend who were also running. I was really lucky in that my whole family, and my friends and teammates were all safe. But the fact that some people lost loved ones and limbs that day, and playing out all the “what ifs” in your head..its still really tough.  The rest of that week was a combination of being so angry and so sad. Runners are such amazing people. The best of the best of humanity really. We are also really resilient. I was lucky enough to get to run in the One Run for Boston shortly after the bombings last year- a 2,000 mile relay from LA to the finish line in Boston. It was really cathartic and we raised a ton of money to go to those who were affected the most.  Its amazing how people come together during tough times.

4) If you could only choose one, which would it be: roads or trails? And what distance would you consider your sweet spot, the one where you feel the strongest?

Definitely roads. I actually hate running trails ha ha ha. I like racing on them, but I hate training on them. As far as race length- I think I’m still trying to figure out what my strongest distance is. I love having the flexibility to race fast and shorter in the spring, and then transition into 100’s in the fall. The variation in training is just refreshing. Its easy to get burnt out looking at back to back 20 milers on the weekends. The Rhode Island 6 hour is one of my favorite races though, just because it combines my road running with the longer distance.

5) So, a glance at your Facebook timeline reveals almost as many pictures of wine as running pics. So let me put it out there: Wine. Discuss. 😉

Hahaha so I’m giving out top secret training advice now.. OK. -Everyone knows my traditional fuel the night before a big race has to end with red wine and chocolate cake.

Bonus: I circled back to Maddy a few days later to ask her a question about whether she still gets nervous before races or long runs.  I did this for a friend of mine who I am coaching to a first marathon.  I wanted to show her that even the best and fastest, like Maddy, deal with anxiety and nerves:

I definitely still get nervous before long runs and races…and especially speedwork haha. I try to get some new music on the iPod, or get someone to meet up with me for some of the long run miles…anything to make it more fun and take the “work” out of it. Also: the red wine comes into play here. The night before big races, I would never be able to sleep without a glass or two to calm me down. 🙂

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