08 June 2015

on the run ... with camille herron

welcome to another interview in the on the run series ...

some athletes are easy to 'categorize' - they may be track specialists, road marathoners, ultra/trail enthusiasts, or niche runners (e.g. race jugglers).

then there are those special individuals who seem to transcend this kind of pigeon-holing ... and camille herron is that kind of individual.

camille hails from oklahoma and ran briefly for the university of tulsa. although sidelined by injuries from athletics at the college level, she went on to become a three-time u.s. olympic marathon trials qualifier, and boasts a personal best of 2:37:14 (houston, 2012).  she also holds the guinness world record for fastest marathon in a superhero costume (dressed as spider-man/spider-woman), and this year recorded the fastest 100k ever run on american soil. 

besides being a full-time research assistant at the university of oklahoma's health sciences centre, camille is now also occupied with responsibilities as the usoc's athlete services coordinator for the 2015 u.s. pan american team.

. . . . .

1.  Your history in running accomplishments is both incredibly impressive and diverse - including first three-peater at the Oklahama City Marathon, a Guinness WR for marathoning in a superhero costume and fastest 100k on US soil. What's left on your bucket list?

(a) Fastest ascent of the Machu Picchu trail
(b) Most sub-2:50 wins by a woman
(c) Complete the win-in-all-50-states set
(d) Quickest marathon dribbling a basketball
(e) Other

CH:   My original goals as a marathoner were to go for "most sub 2:50 marathons" and to become the first woman to win a marathon in every State.  It would definitely be fun to go for more Guinness World Records too, like the quickest marathon dribbling a basketball since I grew up as a basketball player.  However, since I ran my first 100K/domestic ultra, I've still been in a bit of shock on how well that went!  To have surpassed a longheld record by Ann Trason is truly an honor! I think I will have to put my crazy marathon schedule on the backburner right now and pursue the American/World Ultra Road Records with all my heart -- which means having rested legs, a healthy body, and letting it rip when the opportunities come.  My first focus will be the World 100K Championship next September.  I'm probably going to run the US 50 Mile Championship in Oct. and then possibly the World 50K Championship in December.  I think I can still manage to sprinkle in some marathons and shorter races.  Everyone wants me to try and qualify for Western States -- I've never done a trail race and consider myself a pure "roadie"!  I'm most comfortable on concrete, so it makes the most sense to pursue the Road Ultra Records.  Some day I'd like to run across the country, but first I'll tackle running between various cities in Oklahoma!

2.   You describe yourself as 'living like a monk' - focusing on three core components of eating, sleeping and running. You must have some kind of indulgence - what could it be?

(a) Some nice home-brewed beer
(b) A box of Krispy Kreme donuts all to yourself
(c) A gallon of ice cream
(d) How about just a few extra gels?
(e) None of the above / Other

CH:   Hahaa, all of the above! I indulge every day -- there is no neglecting anything in my diet!  If I feel like whiskey and Coke, I'm not going to tell myself no!  I love meat, bacon, ice cream, butter on everything, chocolate, peanut butter, donuts, and of course our home brewed beer.  I snack on 1-2 Powerbars a day.  I love a good spicey burger, fries, and a pint of a microbrew after a marathon.

The "Living like a monk" mentality came about from reading about the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei.  They live a simplistic lifestyle whereas they run a marathon every day for 100 days to become enlightened about life.  Their singular focus is on completing the feat.  I also am inspired by the Belgian monks who brew beer for sustenance.

3.   Having overcome some significant injuries during your University of Tulsa days, there must be some key things that you do to stay as strong and competitive as you can be. What tops the list?

(a) Intermittent barefoot running
(b) My Skechers GORun Ride 4s!
(c) Plenty of glute and core work
(d) Consistent training mileage
(e) Running more by feel than by metrics

CH:  Wow, you're dead on!  Maybe it's a personal talent, but definitely being able to run consistently high mileage for a long time has prepared me to be able to run so many high quality marathons and easily transition to ultras.  I've averaged over 100 miles per week since Nov. 2006.  My philosophy is "Easy days easy and hard days hard" -- that's the key to consistently high mileage and being able to stay healthy too. I LOVE to race and race frequently, all distances and year round!  I haven't gotten to do as much barefoot running as I used to, since moving to urban OKC in 2011, but I definitely believe that helps keep you healthy and strong and get over injuries.  I think consistent strength training with heavy weights, whether upper/lower/both is great for staying hormonally balanced and also helping with recovery. Being in the right shoes for your feet is critical to staying healthy and able to achieve your goals.  I'm thankful that Skechers have worked so well for me -- I had foot issues for several years, but getting in Skechers has helped relieve all the pain.

4.   This year you've been honoured with the responsibility of being the US Olympic Committee Athlete Services Coordinator for the 2015 PanAm Games. What's the best part of this role in your opinion?

(a) Hob-nobbing with and learning from other elite competitors
(b) Checking out the gourmet meals
(c) Supporting/mentoring other young athletes
(d) Assisting with the administration of a world-class event
(e) None of the above / Other

CH:  Probably the fact I get to spend the month of July in nice and cool Toronto!  It's a dream come true to get to be on the USOC Staff!  My original lifetime intent was to serve elite-level athletes in some capacity -- I couldn't have imagined I would become 'the athlete', having made the 2011 PanAm Team, which ironically opened me up to this role.  I know how much this opportunity will mean to the athletes, so I want to help make their experience as memorable as possible.  I think of my role as being like a "hotel concierge".  The USOC staff had a meeting in Toronto back in March, so it was a real pleasure to meet all of them.  I got to explore Toronto quite a bit by foot, so I have a good idea of what the city is like and how to help guide athletes.  I sure hope the athlete village food is better than Guadalajara!  There's a lot of amazing restaurants in Toronto, so I'm sure we'll be exploring those too.  I'll also have the opportunity to go watch and help with events, so I can't wait to watch the marathons, race walking, and hopefully get to see some track stuff!

*** for more on camille and her upcoming ventures be sure to check out her blog/webpage at http://camilleherron.com/. many thanks to camille for sharing her time and insights with all of us at The Rendezvoo Point!


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