all photos courtesy of Thomas Reiss and family)
I wasn't the first to wonder "who is this guy blowing by me?", and was able to catch up with him as he recovers from TRT.
1) First, congrats on your win at TRT! That is definitely one of the more challenging terrains you have tackled in your short ultra career. How did the race go for you?
Challenging is the right word. I never really felt that good. I went into it hoping to feel like a Sunday long jog for the 1st third of the race, feel good and easy, then get into tempo mode in the middle and race the last 3rd. I am not sure if it was the altitude or the terrain but I just did not feel that great. That said, I was very happy with the outcome and the time I ran. It all worked out at the end.
2) What got you into ultras this year? What has been the biggest challenge in moving up from the marathon?
I was always fascinated by ultras, even before I moved to the USA from Germany 11 years ago. I ran quite a bit with Charly Doll (the first German to win Comrades) and thought this is pretty cool. I never made the move to ultras early on and actually only ran 2 marathons in my life before Tahoe Triple. Mostly I raced half marathons and the 10k. The marathons I ran were in 1990 and one in 1998.
6 years ago I stopped running until I heard about the Tahoe Triple in 2005 and decided to try that kind a race. I did the triple again in 2006 and also decided in 2006 to give this Ultra thing a try. So far things have apparently been going great with 4 starts and 4 wins.
3) What are your 10k and half marathon PR’s?
1.09.34 for the half and 31.51 for the 10k.
4) What is training like in San Luis Obispo (SLO)? Are there enough hills to be ready for courses like Quicksilver and TRT?
Not really, we have very few real hardcore hilly single track trails here. So often I run a trail loop several times up and down and around. The longest climb is around 3 miles with 1000 feet.
5) I was able to meet your wife and kids at TRT this year. What do they think of all this crazy running?
My wife (Valerie) is great, she is the one always encouraging me when I am down and frustrated and talk about quitting. My kids are 2 and 4 and they love it. When I do a long run and come by my house they set up aid stations and always cheer me on. Since we are back from TRT they are running around the house arguing about who is a 50-miler and who is a 100-miler.
his forearm tattoo has the names of his two sons, Dylan and Luke)
6) Can you tell us a bit about your training regiment? What does a typical week look like for you?
I normally run 4-6 times a week, between 50-70miles. Before a big race I crank it up for about 6-8 weeks up to 90-120 miles. Most of the time I do a 2.50-3 hour marathon once a month and a long 30-40 mile run once a month. Once a week I do some kind of speed / tempo workout. I also try to run on the surface that the upcoming race is on. So before TRT I ran as much as possible on trails.
After a hard race I always take 2 weeks super easy with running 4-6 miles every other day or less depending on how hard the race was.
7) Do you have a coach?
Not really, I write up my own schedule and then run it by my running partner and motivator Linda Somers Smith (former Olympic marathoner), Sean Meissner also helps me with advice and usually I get some feedback on my plans from Karl King from Succeed.
8) What are your favorite foods for training and running?
That is my weakest spot. I do not really watch my diet and learned some hard lessons in my first races regarding hydration etc. Karl King from Succeed has been a huge help in getting me on the right track. So during TRT I used Succeed Ultra, Amino and S-Caps plus GU’s. Plus the pre-race and recovery vitamins. I need to start experimenting with solid foods if I move up to the 100.
9) What motivates you the most to get out there and run?
I am very driven and competitive by nature, and I know that to be good at ultrarunning you have to go out and put the effort in. Plus I have met some great people through running and made some awesome friends.
10) What do the folks at work think? What do you do for work?
I am creative director and owner of a high end design and branding firm (www.kraftwerkdesign.com) here in San Luis Obispo. My employees love it and are very interested and supportive, so are our clients. But I also know they all think I am crazy.
11) Any races planned for the rest of 2007? Where will we see you next?
I am planning on Tahoe Triple then JFK 50. After that I am planning on running the Orange Curtain 100k (a road ultra) in Long Beach, CA in February '08 to try to qualify for the 100k World Championship. After that I would like to run Way to Cool if I get in. Not sure what after that, a lot will depend if I qualify for the road 100k world cup.
12) Any chance we'll get you in the 100-miler division?
Yes, it will be the logical next step. It is the ultimate ultra race. Like running half marathons and 10k's when the real deal is the marathon, I think it is like that with the 50k and 50mile and the real deal is the 100miles. I would love to run Western States at one point as my first 100. I was always fascinated by that race. I am not sure about when. Maybe in a couple of years.
13) Are you currently running for a team?
Not right now but I would love to be part of a good ultra team. I have always been on a team when I used to race the shorter races and I really miss the team aspect - going to races meeting the rest of the team and supporting each other is just great. So if you know of any team who is adding to their roster let me know!
14) Will you be focused on road or trail ultras moving forward?
Short term I will be doing both. I still would like to make it to worlds in the road 100k and get a good 100k road PR so I may do that plus several trail races. I would guess next year am doing 2 road races and 4 trail races. Long term I think it will be definitely trail.
15) What else would you like to accomplish in ultrarunning over the next few years?
Honestly I am not sure. I am still a rookie at this and don’t even know yet the full extent of my goals and capabilities. One of the great things about continuing in this sport is that you learn so much about yourself with every race. I hope I keep meeting more cool inspiring people. I love becoming part of this great ultrarunning community.
Thanks for the interview, Thomas! Looking forward to seeing you out on the trails.