An interview with the 2017 Zumbro 100 mile women’s champion and third overall including men and women, Tina Johnson (TJ) of Milwaukee WI, interview conducted by John Storkamp – Zumbro Endurance Run Race Director (JS)
(JS) While you have won a few shorter races and some longer races (tBunk 200, Potawatomi 150) was this your first 100 mile trail race win? If so, what does that mean to you?
(TJ) I was the top 160 km female finisher at NUTS Karhunkierros in Kuusamo, Finland (2015), but technically this is my first 100 mile win! I am still in shock. I ran Zumbro in 2013 when the conditions were much different, and it took me an extra 6 hours to cross the finish line. Zumbro chewed me up and spit me out! To run Zumbro again in such perfect conditions, among so many friends from the Upper Midwest Trail Running community, and set a PR and CR is simply the best.
(JS) You have been running ultras since 2009, a few years of top 15 type performances and after that started to make it to the podium just about every time you raced. Do you consider yourself a competitive person? I ask because you never seem overly focused or intense as you arrive at aid stations with your requisite huge smile and calm demeanor.
(TJ) This is a tricky question! I would say that I am not competitive, but my friends and family might argue with that statement. I hate the pressure of knowing that I’m in the lead. I want to run my own race, be respectful of how my body is feeling in any particular moment, and take in the energy of the trail. This is my favorite kind of vacation: to be unplugged and connect with other runners, volunteers, and the beauty of my surroundings.
(JS) How about training, are you one of the amateur ultra runners that is training like a pro or are you a little more casual about it?
(TJ) I have a lot of fun with my training, which I consider to be more casual and social. Nearly all of my runs are with friends or my dog Lola. My speed training consists of when my soon-to-be-step kids want to race me. They probably think I’m being nice and letting them win, but they are much faster than me! Last fall I started working with a new trainer at my gym, Arthur D’Amato. I knew he was the right trainer for me when he didn’t balk at my race schedule or tell me that I needed to run less. We train twice a week with the current focus on fatigue management via reduced weight volume and an emphasis on stability and prehabilitation. I am definitely seeing benefits in my races and recovery times. I also believe in total wellness. My formula includes sleep, nutrition, massage, meditation, and prayer.
(JS) With all the loops and other distances going on Zumbro can be an interesting race to run and keep track of. Did you lead the race from the get go or was there any interaction and back and forth with the other women – your nearest competitor was nearly 2 hour behind at the finish.
(TJ) I led the race from the beginning, and probably would have been clueless had it not been for the announcers after each loop. I had very little company for most of the race with no back-and-forth with any of the other women. I had some back-and-forth with the 3rd place male, although at the time I had no idea that we were vying for 3rd overall.
(JS) Putting the women’s race aside you placed 3rd overall among men and women, besting the previous women’s record by nearly an hour – was any of this a surprise for you or did you know you were in the right shape to run so well.
(TJ) I was SHOCKED! I ran 3 Days of Syllamo a few weeks prior to Zumbro feeling strong and without needing time to recover. That gave me a ton of confidence. With the Gnarly Bandit series being the main goal this year, my plan for Zumbro was to run comfortably, have fun, and not trash myself. Luckily, the conditions allowed me to do just that at a nice pace.
(JS) Anything stick out from the race, a theme that stuck with you after the weekend?
(TJ) I traveled with Angela Barbera and Kevin Clark, who both had great races, as well. Right before the race, Angela read us The Daily Motivator by Ralph Marson, which just so happened to be titled “Let it Flow” for that particular day. “…Life never has to be a trying experience. See yourself as doing, as achieving, as making a difference, then follow through on what you see…Effective effort is a joy, and is never something to be avoided… Stop trying so hard and let it flow.” That was a great message to have for the race. Todd Rowe even reminded me a few times on the course to let it flow. It was exactly what I needed to hear!
(JS) Anything else you would like to add or share with us!?
(TJ) This trail life makes me a better person, and I am very blessed to have an adventurous and supportive family. I have had the opportunity to visit some beautiful places and meet some of my very best friends because of this sport. Thanks for all you do, John, with Rocksteady Running and advocating trail stewardship. You are making a difference!
(JS) What is next on the calendar for you?
(TJ) I threw my hat in the Gnarly Bandit Ultra Series, and next up is Kettle 100!