Penelope Freedman finished 3rd for the women at the 2015 Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Running World Championship. This weekend, she is tackling a challenge that's a little closer to home at the 2016 Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Running National Championship in Ogden, Utah. We checked in with her before the big race on Sunday.
XTERRA: Why did you want to come race at the Paul Mitchell XTERRA Trail Run Nationals event?
Penelope: I am excited to run this race because of the location and just to be part of another XTERRA event. Every XTERRA event I have participated in has been extremely well organized and has made me feel very welcome. I am also particularly excited about the location. Having been a former competitive snowboarder, I have snowboarded at Snowbasin and spent lots of time snowboarding all over Utah during winter. However, I have never been spent any time in the summer at gorgeous SnowBasin, so it should be interesting to see the mountain from a different perspective.
XT: Do you have any specific goals for the race?
PF: I try not to put any expectations on myself during races because that could set me up for feeling like I failed if I don't meet those expectations. I train very hard and try and set realistic goals for myself. I would like to be among the top 5 women to finish at XTERRA Trail Run Nationals.
XT: What has your 2016 racing schedule looked like so far?
PF: I have had a very interesting season!....The first part of my race season (May - June) I raced 3 weekends in a row; all in highly competitive races with a strong professional field. I believe pushing myself so hard at the start of the season contributed to a sciatic nerve injury, which I am now recovering from, so that has been a bit stressful.
The last 2 months I spent on the East Coast (for work; as well as 2 weeks coaching at a Nike Trail Running camp in New Hampshire) so I did not get to do as much altitude and mountain running as I would have liked. On the other hand, my coach worked a lot with me on improving my speed during that time so I definitely feel like that has improved vastly. It should be interesting to see how that translates into the XTERRA Nationals Race.
XT: Can you tell us a little about your running achievements?
PF: Some of my results I'm proud of this year include .
3rd overall female in the Pro-division at the Park city Discrete Peak series half marathon.
5th place overall female @ the Go-pro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado
1st place overall female @ local Howelson Hill 8miler trail run in hometown Steamboat Springs
XT: How will it be to race at elevation?
PF: The elevation is almost Identical to Steamboat so in that regard I have an advantage to competitors traveling from lower elevations. Again, I myself have trained at sea level most of the summer and only been back in Steamboat for a few weeks, so that makes me a little nervous.
XT: What do you do when you aren't running?
PF: It is extremely expensive living in Steamboat so I, like everyone else, often have two or three jobs. I own a raw, gluten free, vegan, super-food company producing energy bars, vegan cheese, chocolates, etc... and distribute and sell locally. The Company is called Kenchuto Bliss. I also coach the local triathlon team in all their track workouts. In addition I nanny for a 5 year old and family's hire me out to privately to coach snowboarding during the winter.
XT: What is your favorite thing about trail running?
PF: I love trail running as it is just another excuse to get into the mountains and experience them from a different perspective than snowboarding. Mountains are my number one passion and one of the greatest ways to express my joy for living is through trail running. I love the serenity and silent strength of the mountains and the humbling respect and fragility of life I experience through all the sports I do in the mountains.
XT: What is your game plan for Sunday?
PF: Having never done this course before and having no expectations for the outcome, my main game-plan is to HAVE FUN and make some new friends.