Friday, June 2, 2023

A Dialog With Nicole Sour – iRunFar


Towards the backdrop of an more and more professionalized recreation, there are nonetheless some ultra-trail athletes who’re managing to compete on the absolute best stage whilst additionally managing the calls for of a hectic day process. One such athlete is trainer, legal professional, and lifetime runner Nicole Sour.

At age 41, Sour is recently making ready for her 8th Western States 100 get started, having certified with a Golden Price ticket from Bandera 100k previous this 12 months, which is a part of the Hoka Golden Price ticket Races that doles out entries to height finishers of the sequence’s races. I stuck up along with her to unearth the secrets and techniques to longevity in operating, and the right way to stability an elite stage operating profession along a hectic skilled profession and residential lifestyles.

Nicole and Zach Bitter with dogs

Nicole and Zach Sour with canines Stella and Minnie. All pictures courtesy of Nicole Sour until in a different way famous.

Nicole Sour grew up within the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and primary discovered her method into recreation on the age of 5, within the type of determine skating. This used to be simply one of the lively interests in her formative years and he or she mentioned, “My mother labored, so I believe simply to be able to be out of the home and doing issues we have been signed up for all types of sports activities camps. We did just about the whole thing beneath the solar — tennis classes, diving, swimming, football.”

Game temporarily was an approach to life for Sour. In 7th grade, whilst wishing to hone in on a recreation for heart faculty, she attempted out for the basketball group. However alongside the way in which a gymnasium instructor noticed her flair for operating and inspired her within the course of pass nation as a substitute.

She mentioned, “I did moderately neatly in 7th and 8th grade and the trainer of the high-school varsity group used to be in reality my math instructor in 8th grade, so he had me get started coaching with the high-school group in 8th grade. At that time, I used to be beginning to do exercises and issues. I competed all right through highschool in pass nation and ran the 1,600 meters and the three,200 meters in observe. Then I went to Northwestern College [in Illinois] and ran pass county there.”

With years of aggressive operating and coaching already beneath her belt, Sour first found out path operating upon shifting to Texas after graduating, the place she attended regulation faculty at Baylor College.

She mentioned, “There used to be a host of great path techniques all over the college … I’d observed one thing known as path operating so I determined to test it out. I went out and did some path runs sooner than or after categories and I used to be hooked.”

Nicole Bitter - racing in the mountains

Nicole Sour racing within the mountains. Even if she says her strengths lie in additional runnable ultras, Sour relishes the chance to take to the hills.

Even if operating on trails was a part of Sour’s common coaching and leisure operating, it wasn’t till she moved to Dallas, Texas, 5 years later and located a gaggle to run with that her aggressive path operating profession started. She mentioned, “There used to be a gaggle known as the White Rock Co-op and there have been a couple of individuals of the group who have been doing ultramarathons, and I believed, I may just do this! So I signed up and did some native Texas races. That used to be again in 2012. I began out with an evening race, a 60-kilometer tournament. After that I began ramping up the space and doing extra of the native Texas races.”

On the time Sour didn’t have a trainer — however already skilled in different disciplines of coaching and racing, she found out the nuances of path operating as she went alongside.

She temporarily climbed as much as the 100-mile distance, taking at the Rocky Racoon 100 Mile in 2013, the place she took first position and located a convenience zone in lengthy, runnable ultramarathons. She mentioned, “I didn’t in point of fact have numerous demanding situations. Perhaps it used to be newbie’s success, however I simply naturally used to be in a position to do the 100 miles. Particularly on that more or less runnable terrain.”

Following on from her 100-mile debut, Sour had a knee factor, which took a while to get to the bottom of, however mentioned: “After that race I discovered that I used to be in a position to get well beautiful temporarily. I believe being more youthful for sure made it more straightforward. Nowadays I don’t race as ceaselessly as I used to. I most probably used to be operating a minimum of 100 miles every week religiously, and in addition I believe it used to be simply build up after such a lot of years.”

Later the similar 12 months, Sour headed to the Leadville 100 Mile, the place she positioned 9th, and mentioned: “I in point of fact struggled at that race. I had come off any other harm someday and I used to be doing neatly till the remaining 10 miles after which it used to be simply in point of fact difficult. I believe it confirmed the honour between doing a mountain race as opposed to a flat race.”

With revel in, she has realized the place her biggest strengths lie and mentioned: “I really like operating extra mountainous races, however in relation to the place I’m going to accomplish higher, I for sure have an more straightforward time on the flatter, sooner stuff.”

The next 12 months, in February 2014, Sour returned to Rocky Raccoon — successful once more and taking greater than an hour off her earlier time. On her 3rd strive on the race in 2015, she once more gained — this time environment what used to be then the American path 100-mile report in a time of 14:22.

Nicole Bitter American 100-mile trail record 2015 Rocky Raccoon Champion

Nicole Sour on her strategy to environment a then American 100-mile path report and successful the 2015 Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile. Photograph: USA Ultrarunning

Whilst proceeding to rack up wins, a second-place end on the 2015 Bandera 100k earned Sour her position at her first Western States 100, the place she completed 6th — starting an ideal love affair with this iconic race.

Taking a daring step outdoor of her convenience zone, in 2015 Sour additionally headed to Chamonix, France, to finish UTMB — the top of mountain ultrarunning. She had a powerful run, completing thirteenth, and mentioned: “It used to be gorgeous, I felt like I used to be in ‘The Sound of Song!’ Simply operating in the course of the mountains and having that complete revel in, it used to be in reality superior. That’s a type of races I’ll by no means overlook … In truth, I used to be proud to simply whole that race.”

This 12 months Sour will go back to the Western States 100, a race she has an extended historical past and affinity with, having raced it seven occasions — together with 3 top-10 finishes. When requested what it’s about this tournament that helps to keep drawing her again, she mentioned: “I believe it’s the contest, the problem, and the revel in. But in addition, proceeding to push myself and spot what I will do. At 41 it will get somewhat extra like, I will’t imagine I’m nonetheless doing this!

Residing in Austin, Texas, and having at all times lived in sizzling puts, Sour unearths that she copes with the warmth on the Western States 100 higher than many. Concerning the distinction between operating now as a grasp, as opposed to in her adolescence, she says: “I do to find that I most often don’t run as a lot quantity, and I simply concentrate to my frame.”

2017 Western States 100 - Nicole Bitter - finish

Nicole Sour incomes her moment sixth-place Western States 100 end. Photograph: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Her quest to face on the starting point at this 12 months’s Western States 100 started in October 2022, when she positioned 3rd within the Javelina 100 Mile, narrowly lacking out on a Golden Price ticket. Regardless of the close to leave out, she mentioned, “I felt nice to do in addition to I did and feature a just right efficiency. With that stacked of a box, that used to be a win in my guide.”

Then in a atypical accident, Sour ended up having a moment likelihood at a Golden Price ticket within the iciness of 2022/2023. She recounted, “I used to be intended to do a race in South Africa, Extremely-Path Cape The town, proper round Thanksgiving. And the day I were given off the airplane, I sprained my ankle and so I couldn’t do the race! It nearly felt like destiny. I used to be in a position to heal in no time, I used to be are compatible, and the Bandera 100k used to be in my yard. It looked like a just right one to leap into.”

Sour positioned moment in the back of Courtney Dauwalter within the January 2023 Bandera 100k in a time of 10:03 — beating her earlier best possible at the acquainted path, and incomes her price ticket into the 2023 Western States 100.

Nicole Bitter - with Zach at 2023 Bandera 100k

Nicole being supported through husband, Zach, on the 2023 Bandera 100k.

As the game continues to professionalize, Sour is now in all probability within the minority of athletes competing at her stage to nonetheless have a hectic day process — running complete time as a legal professional. When requested about how she manages this difficult balancing act, she mentioned, “I believe the concept that of stability is so onerous. I’d say that I do my best possible and concentrate on the duty to hand. I attempt to give my all after I’m operating, and after I’m being a legal professional, and I attempt to do my best possible after I’m training … There are for sure occasions when I’m spending all of my power on my profession and that’s the highest precedence. However I do love having operating in my lifestyles as it provides me a possibility to be off my paintings chair and to look the arena.”

Sour admits that there are tipping issues, announcing: “I do to find that there are issues the place the paintings tension will get to be an excessive amount of. I do know in 2021 there used to be so much occurring in my day process and it led to me being crushed attending to the Western States 100. I didn’t even comprehend it till I began racing. It’s this positive line that you need to stroll on. However on the finish of the day, I wouldn’t exchange it as a result of I’d slightly have each facets to my lifestyles than simply attempt to do one at the next stage.”

Sour is now coached through her husband — fellow elite runner, Zach Sour — who is a smart reinforce and is helping her with balancing paintings and coaching. Nowadays the 2 perform on other schedules and don’t at all times run in combination. Nicole does her runs early within the morning with the gang she coaches, Crew Rogue, whilst Zach heads out somewhat later. So as to add to their busy family, the Bitters have lately followed a brand new four-legged coaching spouse, Minnie, and along side their older canine, Stella, they continuously head out for circle of relatives runs and adventures.

Nicole says: “Minnie calls for getting out on a daily basis and is most probably my number-one coaching spouse within the circle of relatives on the minute!” Lately, the couple headed to the 2023 Hell Hills 50k, simply an hour from their house, the place they each and every took first position.

Subsequent up Sour will head to the yearly Western States 100 Memorial Weekend Coaching Runs, for a refresher at the path she is already so conversant in. She mentioned “I’m going to head out early with Altra and do a coaching camp, after which keep for the wider Western States 100 coaching camp. It’s at all times a laugh to run with the entire different athletes.”

Sour has realized so much from the highs and lows of earlier Western States 100 runs and mentioned: “I believe simply ensuring to stick iced off is important. It’s a positive stability to remember to get sufficient fluids and salt.”

As she has demonstrated in her stellar performances this 12 months and remaining, Sour’s years of gathered coaching — and a herbal talent to run a ways — can greater than make amends for the opposite calls for lifestyles puts on her. We will’t wait to look her lace up on June 24.

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