Ultrarunner Shahid Ali Follow-up

I wanted to follow-up with ultra-runner Shahid Ali, who I interviewed back in early September as he was preparing to run the Pine to Palm  100 Mile Endurance Run directed by Hal Koerner of Rogue Valley Runners. For those who don’t know, Shahid finished the race, but he did more than just finish.  He crossed the line in 7th place and he made it under the 24 hour mark which is considered a huge accomplishment in a 100 mile race, especially on a course like Pine to Palm.  Running under the 24 hour mark is a big deal and his effort was rewarded with a special belt buckle.  He also ran one of the fastest splits in the final 10 miles of the race.  Now if all this didn’t seem remarkable enough, he had also done a majority of his training leading up to the race during Ramadan in which he fasted during daylight.  If you haven’t read the initial interview, you will find more details on his training regimen leading up to the race in that earlier interview.  I was there first hand to witness this miraculous performance because I was part of his crew, providing supplies at specific aid stations.  I wanted to have him share what it felt like to run 100 miles and what he has planned for 2012.

RVFT: So how long did it take for you to recover from the race?
Shahid Ali: I took one week off and then ran a couple of miles the very next weekend.  I went for a 25 mile run two weeks after the race but ended up with plantar fasciitis and had to take another week off.  Then I went on a 8.5 mile run but my feet still weren’t feeling right, so I had to shut it down for another eleven days. My quads were shot for a long time!

RVFT: How did you feel during the race?  Did you have ups and downs?
Shahid Ali: I felt relatively good until mile 71 and then on a downhill section, my quads started killing me.  My pacer told me to take some salt and feeling powerless at that moment, I watched a couple of runners pass me.   I don’t know if it was the salt tablets, granola bar, and gel kicking in, or just the sight of a familiar face in fellow runner Todd Ragsdale, but I felt invigorated and was able to start running at a decent pace again.  I passed Todd and another runner.  Climbing up to Wagner Butte, I tried to conserve some energy for the final 20 miles.  I hit another rough patch on the way up to Wagner Butte and it was really a struggle.  I had to rely on my pacer to keep me moving and get me to the downhill section.  I saw Jenn Shelton and Erik Skaggs up near the summit and this gave me another boost of energy.  I realized I was going to be cutting it really close to the 24 hour mark when I passed through the final aid station.  My pacer and I ran one of the fastest, if not the fastest final 10 mile split in the race.  I was motivated to run as hard as I could, knowing I was so close to that 24 hour deadline.

RVFT: Did you believe you could break 24 hours? Did you have any idea you could be in the top 10?
Shahid Ali:  I believed I could break 24 hours and it was one of my goals.  At the Rogue Valley Runner’s group run in the week leading up to the race, I asked Hal Koerner for his honest opinion on whether he thought I could go sub 24 hours on the course and he said “No”. I still secretly believed I could do it. I didn’t really think about where I would place in the race, I just wanted to go under 24.

RVFT: Did you have an awesome crew and pacers, or what?
Shahid Ali:  I had some really great pacers in Tamara Ellis and Chad Wikander.  They definitely helped me when I was hitting those low points and helped motivate me to keep moving.  I was lucky to have a great crew making sure I had everything I needed and it was nice to see their familiar faces.  They did everything to help me get through the race.  Having great pacers and an awesome crew is huge in a 100 miler.

RVFT: How did you feel when you crossed that finish line?
Shahid Ali:  It felt so good to cross that line and accomplish my goal.  It was awesome to have friends and family there.  It meant a lot that they took the time to show up at the finish line even though it was so early in the morning.  When I looked at the time as I crossed the line, I was shocked and felt redeemed after not finishing the year before.

RVFT: What races have you done since Pine to Palm? Fill us in!
Shahid Ali:  I ran Lithia Loop Marathon with one of the teachers I work with.  I also signed up my boss for the race without his knowledge and then surprised him.  I signed up for North Face 50 miler but changed it to the 50K because I didn’t feel like my training had been good enough for that race after Pine to Palm.  I cut about an hour off my time on the 50K course from when I ran it the previous year.

RVFT: What do you have planned for 2012?
Shahid Ali:  Chukanut 50K, Lake Sonoma 50 Miler, and Miwok 100K are all the major ones I have planned so far.  I was disappointed that I didn’t get into Western States but I may do San Diego 100 miler.  I will run Pine to Palm again as long as I am healthy.

RVFT: What award did you pick up at the year end ultra-runner party held here in Ashland?
Shahid Ali:  I won the golden toe for having a good year and also “How to get fired from your job” award for that whole signing up my boss for Lithia Loop Marathon without his knowledge.  I also received a crew award because I ran over Tim Olson’s Moms’s foot but for what it’s worth, she was not injured.

RVFT: Thanks for your time and I can’t wait to see what you do in 2012!

Shahid Ali: Thanks!

Michael Sotos