Sara Hall Returns to Mammoth Lakes to Prep for NYC

Jul 14, 2021

Professional runner and former Mammoth Lakes resident, Sara Hall, returned to town recently for a high altitude training stint at the Crib in preparation for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon. We caught up with Sara to find out how things were going and to wish her well.

Crib: You are in Mammoth Lakes training for the NYC Marathon on Nov. 6, correct? Why did you choose Mammoth Lakes for this block of training right before the race?

Sara Hall: That’s correct! I chose to come to Mammoth for my final important stretch of preparation for a few different reasons. There is no place like it in the Fall, my favorite time of year here! The aspens are golden and the untouched beauty that surrounds the town is magical. I stopped through here for a few days enroute to Arizona this summer and enjoyed it so much I decided I needed to come back. I spoke with my fellow professional runner Alexi Pappas about doing some training together this month and we kept in touch and made it happen! After living here for five years, Mammoth will always feel like coming home to me and I love getting to run my favorite routes and relive those first formative years of my career.

Crib: How is training here and staying at the Crib benefitting you?

SH: Training in Mammoth and staying in the Crib has been just what I needed to get my body and mind in the right place for the race. I’ve been running up at Lake Mary and Horseshoe Lake as much as possible to be at 9,000 ft elevation. It’s an altitude I’ve realized is really beneficial for me after spending a lot of time training in Ethiopia at the same elevation over the past few years. I think after living at high altitude for a long time it gives me that extra boost and extra challenge to my system. Getting to stay in the Crib, in the beautiful setting of Snowcreek, has been so peaceful and comfortable and allowed my body to absorb all the training surprisingly well. Plus I love getting to know other professional athletes and seeing what makes them great, and learn from them.

Crib: Is this your first time running the NYC Marathon?

SH: It is! I’m really looking forward to running the TCS New York City Marathon for the first time, after being there in person for the last 10 years straight for my sponsors. I actually remember 11 years ago watching Deena run the race on TV and cheering her on during my first week of living in Mammoth! It is a race that has always inspired me and I can’t wait to tackle it myself.

Crib: You mentioned a hilly section that you have been warned about toward the end of the race. How are you mentally and physically preparing to push through this portion?

SH: Yes, I have tried to really embrace the hills in my buildup towards the race to prepare for the hills you face after mile 20 of the marathon. That is a tough part even if the course was flat, so the hills really come at a challenging point and I want to be prepared for them. I like running at Lake Mary because of its rolling terrain, and using my tempos on Green Church Road to visualize how I’m going to attack that section. I also did an uphill tempo run from the Village to Minaret Vista, which will hopefully make any hill I face on the course feel small!

Crib: Ryan has been helping you train. As someone who has competed in the race, what is the best advice he has given you?

SH: Ryan has mentored me in the marathon every step of the way, and the training I do is basically what worked for him. He always gives me advice about the mental component like patience, something that it hard for me coming from a middle distance track background. As far as NYC in particular he reassures me that the crowd is unparalleled there and will give me an adrenaline rush, so to use that to my advantage but make sure to have self-control as well.

Crib: You used to live in Mammoth Lakes full-time. What do you miss most about being here, both training and otherwise?

SH: There are many things I miss about living here, the biggest being surrounded by such untouched beauty, especially the lakes. Convict Lake and Horseshoe Lakes never cease to leave me in awe at God’s creation. I also miss the Lighthouse Church, where I have many good friends that I keep in touch with to this day. I also miss being apart of the Mammoth Track Club, as I’m a very team-oriented person and I like how they function as close to being a team as you can be in professional running.

Crib: You are now the mother of four girls after adopting. How has this new role changed your training and your focus on running?

SH: It has been a big life change, but hasn’t affected my training as drastically as I thought it would. Our girls have adjusted miraculously to a new life on an alien planet after growing up in rural Ethiopia and never going to school. They are learning the language fast and taking everything in stride which has been super inspiring! And they love a lot of aspects of American life, and are even enjoying running now which we love! I have to be very intentional about using the time I have when they are at school so that I can get what I need done for training so that when I’m with them I can be fully present.

Crib: Will your girls be at the race?

SH: They will not, New York City hotel rooms are a bit too small to squeeze us all in!

Crib: What are your top three tips for someone training for a marathon?

SH:1) Don’t be afraid to push the pace on your long runs, this is the day that counts most! I never used to run my long runs fast but it is actually my favorite workout of the week now 2) Make sure to eat plenty of carbs. There are a lot of fad diets that are low carb, but they are the fuel you need to get through the training and race 3) Keep your shoes fresh to avoid injury and keep your muscles from getting beat up by all the mileage.

Crib: What is your favorite run in Mammoth Lakes?

SH: I never get tired of running around Horseshoe Lake! I usually do figure 8s with Lake Mary, but I’d be totally content doing 6-7 loops around just Horseshoe.

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