Yep. She is a kick butt, awesome, inspiring ultramarathoner.
I was blessed to meet Jana because our kids were in the same kindergarten class and fortunate enough to share a cubby together! I quickly found out that Jana was a dedicated runner and then I found out that she runs A TON of miles and loves to race ultramarathons.
Jana is also one of the most humble, kindest, encouraging people I have ever met. When she agreed to sit down for an interview to talk about ultras, I was really excited!
Nothing like chatting with a friend about running on a beautiful Tuesday evening! (huge smiles because we are talking about our favorite subject)...
In 1998 Jana ran her first marathon (The Humbolt Marathon + she used Jeff Galloway's program to train) and was hooked. The following year in March she ran the Catalina Marathon - a difficult, hilly, yet beautiful trail race that she loved. She also met and started running with Craig Chambers, a talented runner who founded the running store Phidippides here in southern California.
In the fall of 1999, Jana ran her first ultramarathon - a 50k (31 miles) in gorgeous Napa Valley, and despite the craziness of the course (pouring rain, poor course markings), that was her point of no return.
In 2000, Jana ran the single crossing of the Grand Canyon, from the south to north rim - 23 miles total and she loved it! 12 years later, Jana went for a much bigger challenge and ran the double crossing of the Grand Canyon which she says was "a magical day".
Here is a glimpse into the life of an ultramarathoner!
Typical week of training
Jana says she runs 70-90 miles per week and during a training cycle, she will run 21 days STRAIGHT before she takes a day off!
A weekend run for her would be leaving her house at 3 am and driving to meet a runner friend at the Angeles Crest trail. They set off running at 5 am for a 30 mile run and seven hours later she is on her way home to hang out with her family. Back to back long runs are also typical in Jana's training - that 30 mile run on Saturday will be followed by an 18 mile run on Sunday.
Jana works closely with her longtime coach Ian Torrance who designs her training schedule and workouts. Jana says she has no problem putting in tons of miles, but her coach is a huge help in terms of helping her with speed workouts.
She also works with a nutritionist that puts together a comprehensive plan of her nutrition during races. She told me an added bonus is that her nutritionist (Meredith Terranova) is also a talented athlete (she races Ultra Man - which is an Ironman X 2!!) that completely understands what her clients need.
Jana also has a manual therapist (Gabe Luban) who specializes in the Shulman Method to keep her body healthy and injury free.
Jana does about two to three hours a week of core work, kettle bells and foam rolling.
What does an ultramarathoner put in her body to sustain her during a race?
Gu (She loves plain and caramel macchiato)
Honey Stinger Waffles
Bonk Breaker Bars
Justin's Peanut Butter Packets
Carbo Pro (a carbo electrolyte drink)
Skratch (performance drink)
Real food that she grabs from the aid stations along the course
For running shoes, Jana has 3 types: the Hoka Challenger ATR on the trails for anything 50K or longer and the Adidas Ultra Boost on the roads (and for tempo runs).
The Hoka Huaka is her go to shoe on trails shorter than 50k.
Swiftwick socks with her road shoes and the Drymax trail running sock on the trails which she loves!
Jana told me she is very picky about her footwear as it is super important for running ultras!
Jana loves the Adidas Advista sunglasses with transition lenses (so they aren't too dark when she runs in dense forests).
The Garmin 910XT (This watch provides a 20 hour battery life, which is essential for her next race. Jana will have to bring 2 Garmin watches since she will be running for about 20 hours!).
What does an ultramarathoner put in their backpack during a race?
-1 liter of water
-Survivor blanket (mylar)
How much does this unltramarathoner sleep each night?
How does she stay safe on her long runs?
-She runs with a friend for many runs, sends her coach her exact run route (some runs she goes it alone) and doesn't wear headphones.
Jana has traveled to some stunning locations for her races. I had to ask her what was her favorite race and why.
The Eiger Ultramarathon in Switzerland (63 miles or 101k) was her favorite which she raced last July. She loved the scenery, the course, people and the organization was fantastic.
After the race in Switzerland, Jana decided to take a bit of a break and try some shorter distance races. She wanted to rest her mind from all the miles and work on speed. This past fall, Jana traveled with her family to the Grand Canyon and raced a half marathon trail race outside of the North Rim. Her 8 year old daughter was able to see her Mom run and Jana loved the race as it benefited the Arizona trail.
In March 2015, Jana went back to her favorite distance (50 mile) for an ultra in Mesquite Canyon, located outside of Phoenix. It was a brutally hot, challenging day, but like a champ, Jana finished well in addition to this race being in the middle of training for her goal race in Italy (coming up in 9 days)!
Since she was in the middle of training, she only took one day off after this race. Following the one day of rest, she went on to run a speed workout, a steady state run followed by a 22 mile run and then a 12 mile run the next day.
This makes training for a regular marathon look like a walk in the park!
Jana is in the "peaking" phase of her training (called the taper in marathoning). Last week she ran 88 miles and this week she will run about 60 miles which will include 1 hill workout (eight 60-90 second hill repeats).
She is not a believer in "carbo loading" and will combine a bit of protein and carbs with her breakfast and dinner the day before the race. For breakfast she'll have a cup of coffee and bread with jam. Very simple and light.
This weekend Jana will leave for her goal race in Italy!
She will be racing The Abbot's Way Ultramarathon, an 80 mile (125K) race in the Apennine Mountains.
She is excited to add another race to her resume and I left dinner feeling inspired to run an ultra in the future.
I know I have the perfect mentor to show me the ropes!
Before we parted ways, I asked Jana what are some locations and races that are on her bucket list and here is a list of her dream races/places:
-More mountain ranges in Switzerland
-The Wonderland Trail (Washington State)
Jana truly loves to run and her approach to races is:
"Not finishing is not an option."
A huge thank you to Jana for letting us peek into her life as an ultramarathoner!!
Have you ever run an ultramarathon?
What is the longest distance you have ever run?
I've never raced longer than 26.2, but I would love to start out with a 50k race someday soon!
Happiness Is (Ultra) Running Life!