From dealing with illness and obesity to winning ultra marathons, Angela Shartel is no stranger to overcoming challenges. She’s one tough cookie whose expression “it’s just five more miles” has taken her to the top of ultra running and continuously looking for new adventures. This year, she’s taking a brief detour from trail running to hit the pavement, as she’s qualified for the Boston Marathon!
We had the chance to sit down with Angela and ask her a few questions about her love of ultra running and what made her want to head to Boston for a stint of road running.
1. So we know a little about your background, but could you tell us a bit about yourself and your approach to running?
As I overcame obesity, running entered my life as a means to shed my last five pounds and ultimately meet my goal weight. Of course, as you read online, and is illustrated in my documentary, it became so much more.
2. What made ultra running so attractive to you?
I think it was the thought of whether or not it was possible for me to go that distance—the question of whether or not I had what it would take and if I was strong enough.
3. What was your first experience with an ultra like?
It was very exciting. My first ultra was a 50k on the trails and as I hit the marathon distance in the race, I began to cramp in my legs. I remember being humbled by the kindness of the other runners who stopped to check on me and offer help to work through the issue.
4. What’s your favorite part about ultra running?
There are so many aspects of ultrarunning that I love, it would be hard to pick a favorite. If I had to try, I would say it’s the people and the journey. The people are what make ultrarunning the amazing sport that it is, and the distance provides the personal journey and lessons that cross over and apply to life.
5. So we hear you’re planning to run Boston this year. What made you want to do that?
I have a very close friend who’s never been so we decided to qualify and go.
6. Is there any special significance with this race? Why now?
In addition to sharing the experience with him, my son and my boyfriend are going as well. None of them have ever been to Boston and I’m excited to share the experience with them.
7. What’s different about the training process? Do you have a favorite training method or period of time while training?
Other than the qualifying race, I haven’t run a marathon in over nine years. I had to dig out my old training logs to see what I did so long ago. I’d have to say the biggest difference is more speedwork and more road running miles, neither of which I enjoy. I prefer to be on the trails. For that reason, I decided to continue training on the trails with the exception of one fast 10 miler a week on the boardwalk.
8. Is there a difference in your mindset for a road marathon vs. an ultra?
The biggest difference is time. My mindset is such that there isn’t much room for error when it comes to pace or nutrition. That ends up being a major factor in my strategy.
9. How’s the transition going? Any notable milestones you’ve reached or differences in the training process that you’ve noticed?
I wouldn’t call it a transition as much as it’s a brief side road from the trails. Trailrunning is where my heart is. In fact, I have a 50 mile trail race two weeks after Boston.
10. What’s your favorite Injinji sock? Is that different for ultra running vs. trail running? Why do you like them?
I love and wear all of the Injinji socks. They’re the only socks I have. What I prefer depends on what I’m doing. For the marathon I’ll wear the Women’s Lightweight Performance Run because of all that the name implies. For distance trail running, I prefer the Performance Trail sock. They’re heavier in weight and easily go the distance.
11. Why do you run in toesocks vs regular socks?
I believe them to be better. The toe separation allows your feet to splay out naturally which I feel improves your form as well as reducing friction in between your toes which in turn helps to prevent blisters.