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Shooting the Breeze with Ally Carlton

STB-Ally-Carlton    Carlton has completed four marathons, six or seven half marathons, a 50K race, a six-hour race and a 12-hour race where she logged over 63 miles.


You recently completed a 12 hour timed race in Canton where you logged in over 63 miles. Is that the longest distance you've run?
    Yes - so far. That was my first 12-hour race, so I was pretty nervous in the days leading up to it. There were even several times when I thought to myself, “What am I doing?” I was afraid I’d totally crash and burn. I think it’s good for the spirit to try something every now and then that could really knock you on your butt; it helps you grow. So I’m glad I went for it.             Running through the night and into the morning, getting to watch the sun come up, was just an awesome experience, and it’s always great to meet other runners, people who share that joy for long distance. But I think one of the most rewarding things about this race was that it showed me what I can do—six months ago I never would have thought I could run over 60 miles. Now I feel like this is just the beginning.
    My next major goals are to run a 100-mile race and to transition into trail ultras.

What motivates you to run distances like that?
    When I first started running, I think I just liked to push it and see how far I could go. After a while, it became one of my favorite things, and now it’s such a normal part of my daily life that I can’t imagine not doing it. I just love to run, and it’s not terribly difficult to find motivation to do something you love.
    Long runs are my favorite— they’re an interesting kind of adventure. You have to plan for them, think ahead, and prepare. When you’re out there doing 20-plus miles, you’re going to encounter some variables (weather, terrain, physical ups and downs, et cetera), and it’s figuring out how to deal with those variables that makes it so exciting. There’s something  thrilling about getting caught in the rain, or exploring a new route, and having to adapt to different conditions using only the gear/fuel that I’m carrying with me. I like that it’s hard work. It challenges me, and it hurts sometimes. But it makes me stronger, and training for a big race gives me a sense of purpose. Running has helped me get through some pretty rough times, I think because it’s enabled me to find strength I didn’t know I had. It’s taught me patience and discipline. It gets me out of my own head and relaxes me. I’m really not that great of a runner—I’m actually pretty slow. But I enjoy it, and I do it for me. I just love running for hours without stopping. I love being outside, especially in a beautiful mountain town like this, just out in the big wide open with nothing but your feet under you, no way to get back home but to keep your legs moving. It’s exhilarating.

How long have you been running?
    I’ve been running off and on for about eight years now. I ran track and cross-country in high school, and I ran my first marathon when I was 17. I just started doing ultras this year, though. That I could push my body beyond 26.2 miles never occurred to me until I met my neighbors, Mike and Drina Haviland. They’re like my running mentors, and they are the coolest people. So I’m still pretty new to ultra marathon running; I have a lot to learn, and I’m looking forward to it.  

I see you running and biking around town a lot - including some seriously hilly locales. Is this your way of cross training?
    Well, funny story. I actually started biking because I’m an idiot and I wrecked my car, and I had to save up for a new one. But I still try to ride a couple days a week, because it is an excellent way to cross train and it’s a lot easier on my knees. I like to run around town sometimes to mix up my route and get in some hill training.

Do you listen to music/podcasts/books while you run? If so, what type?
    I’ve never really listened to podcasts or audio books while I’m running, but I do listen to a lot of different genres of music. It just depends on what kind of mood I’m in, and that typically varies over the course of a long run. I usually start off with pretty upbeat music, and then switch to something more mellow once I settle into a rhythm. The Black Keys are definitely my favorite, though; they’re probably the only band I never get tired of. Sometimes I’ll put one of their albums on loop and just cruise. A few other favorites are Tom Petty, The Talking Heads, The xx, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you want with you?
    Oh gosh, that’s a hard one. I don’t know, some sort of first aid/survival kit. A ton of books, too.

What's the last movie you watched?
    About Time, I think. My sisters and I love that movie.

If I had a super power it would be....
    Definitely flight. I’d love to be able to fly. Can you imagine? I’d be up in the air all the time.

I never leave home without....
    My phone and my keys. Typical.

Do you ever binge watch any shows on Netflix?
    Oh, absolutely. I like to watch old reruns of Scrubs and Parks & Recreation.