Nicole Kalogeropoulos - December Athlete of the Month

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Nicole Kalogeropoulos, our N Plus One Apparel athlete is also our featured athlete for the month of December. Her feature is a 3-part interview done over the course of several months before and after major races. Many of the questions were fashioned to give others an understanding of how she trains, her nutrition, her rituals during the race and her recovery process. Keep running like a girl Nicole!

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Above Photo: Shama Sattar

Before Run Rabbit Run

We've seen you've been doing a lot of training runs in Colorado, what is the next big race you are preparing for?

I am running Run Rabbit Run, a 100 mile race out of Steamboat, Colorado. It follows the beautiful network of trails through Steamboat's mountains. In October, I head to France to run DesTempliers, a 74 km race in the Pyrenees Mountains of France. 

Living in Dallas, how are you able to train for races with so much climbing?

That is the challenge. I do my best to incorporate as many hill runs as I can, but ultimately, I do not get as much climbing as the runners who live in mountainous areas.

Do you taper your training before a big race? If so, in what ways?

Generally I simply reduce my total mileage in the two weeks leading up to a big race. In the week before the race, I usually only run half of my average mileage. I also try to get extra sleep and spend as much time off my feet as possible.

Do you find it easy to adjust from a long travel trip with jetlag, etc. and into running long distances in such high altitudes? Are there any tricks you use to help you adjust/recover quicker?

Luckily I do not tend to experience major issues with altitude. I do try to give myself a few days to acclimate if I am running a mountain race. It is always nice to have extra time to adjust. 

Do you have pacers at all/most of your races? How many do you normally have and how far do they run with you?

All races have different rules regarding pacers, but I usually bring along a pacer if the race permits. It is always nice to have a friend running alongside you during a tough race.

What do you take with you on the trip for the run? Will you have support with a race not in the U.S.?

I am fortunate to have a friend coming with me, so that makes the trip more fun. Otherwise, I bring the same gear I would use for a race in the United States. Occasionally I also bring trekking poles if the terrain will be difficult to assist with the climbing.

On these century runs, how many aid stations are there normally? Do you have people there to help you at all the races? If not all of them, how do you prepare differently for those without them?

Generally the 100 mile races have aid stations every 5-7 miles that are stocked with water and tons of food options. Each race is different, but often you can have crew members at several of the aid stations along the course. If permitted, I typically have someone checking on me to make sure I am running strong. 

What do you usually have at the aid stations? Do you normally change clothes/socks/shoes? What usually happens? We saw most runners had ice bags/packs around their necks at Western States - is this a well used trick to help cool your body temperature while running in the heat?

At the aid stations, I make sure to hydrate and grab some fuel to carry me through to the next aid station. It is essential to have a strong crew as they help troubleshoot any difficult challenges that arise during the course of the race. On a hot day, a crew will have tons of ice ready to cool down their runners. That was what my crew was helping me with at Western States.

What do you do to recover after the race? Anything specific?

I usually take a couple days off of running and may do cross training like swimming. It is nice to have a mental break after a particularly long race.

Are there certain foods you like to eat before and after the race?

Prior to the race, I usually eat a simple meal of fish, vegetables and bread. During the race, I often fuel with gels, so after the race, I can't wait to eat real food again!

What was the most surprising thing to you when you first started running these long trail runs?

I was surprised at how beautiful the terrain was on many of the courses. You get to see parts of the world that very few people get to see. For example, UTMB runs through the Alps in France, Italy, and Switzerland. It was absolutely breathtaking to take in the views during the 100 mile race.

Do you try to mix in leisure time in the locations in which you race?

Yes, if possible as I love to travel. This October I am running a race in France and plan to also visit Barcelona and Lisbon following the race.

With winter coming will racing slow down for you? With living in TX this probably isn't as big of an issue for you, but is there anything you do to stay in shape in the winter when you can't get outside? 

 The best part about living in Texas is that the weather usually doesn't slow down my training. It is rare that I can't get outside to train. If the weather is particularly bad, I may go to the gym and do a workout on the elliptical or take a kickboxing class. It is always good to fit in more cross training!

After Run Rabbit Run

The course was broken down into 16 sections. Do the descriptions give you a good idea of what to expect? Were there any sections in particular that were the most difficult or stood out?

I knew the course fairly well, as I had traveled to Steamboat Springs a month before the race to do a training run. The race also provides a fairly descriptive manual which provides a good overview of the race. For me, the most challenging portion of the race was the first climb over Mt. Werner. It is approximately 5 miles of straight climbing, and I power hiked much of this portion of the course.

Do you know how many vertical feet you climbed over the duration of the race? 

I believe the total vertical climbing was 22,000 feet.

How long did it take you to finish? 

The race took me over 23 hours.

Were you able to run with a pacer during this race? 

I was able to run with a pacer for two 4 mile sections of the race where there was heavy traffic around the town of Steamboat. I was fortunate to have two friends, Rick and Connor who paced me for these sections of the course.

What was something that surprised you about the race or that you find particularly challenging?

The temperatures on the course dropped into the 30s during the night, so that was a big adjustment given that I had been running in Dallas all summer where temperatures had been in the 90s. My crew was well-prepared and had warm clothes and multiple layers ready for me when I entered the aid stations.

There were two divisions, hares and tortoises. What was the difference? Did you have to do anything special to qualify to run in the hare division? 

The hare division was eligible for winning prize money and the tortoises were not. There was no special requirement to enter the hare division, but given the prize money, it was mainly composed of sponsored runners. 

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Above Photo: Paul Nelson Photography

After Des Templiers.

In October you went to France for Des Templiers. Congratulations on your 12th place finish!

Thanks so much! It was exciting.

How do you qualify for the race? How far in advance of the race did you arrive? 

I was invited to participate in the race based on my 10th place performance at Des Templiers last year. The race took place on Sunday, and I arrived on Friday. I felt as though this gave me adequate time to prepare.

Did you have a couple rest days after or travel around? 

I spent a week after the race visiting Spain and Portugal. It was a wonderful way to relax following the race.

Where else did you travel, would you recommend and why?

I would recommend visiting Portugal, specifically Porto. It is a seaside town with a beautiful coastline lined with lovely restaurants and wineries.

When and where is your next race? 

I am running the Team North Face 50 miler in San Francisco the first week of December.

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Above Photo: Shama Sattar

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