This World Record Holder's Incredible Story from Overweight to Ultramarathon Champ with Sandra Villines
We have heard some incredible stories over the past year, but this one just might take the cake.
There is a prestigious record that had stood for almost 40 years before Sandra came and completely crushed it.
In 1978 - Mavis Hutchinson set a new transcontinental record by running from Los Angeles to New York in a little over 69 days. It stood for 39 years, that's when Sandra set out on a longer and more difficult route (from San Francisco to New York) and completed it in only 54 days.
So is Sandra a track star with a pedigree of elite athletisism? No! In fact this humble, incredibly gracious athlete is a single mother who describes herself as overweight - and needed to make a change in 2013/2014...
Yeah - that's right! From starting a new workout routine in the treadmill of her local gym - to winning the Badwater Ultramarathon a few years later in 2017 - a race in 100+ degree heat, where one false step can literally melt the shoes off your feet. And then setting an impossible world record.
You're going to love this incredibly inspiring conversation holder with an incredible woman.
Links For the Show
Podcast TranscriptionThe following transcript is provided for your convenience. It was created through a program, and may not be entirely accurate to our conversation.
Intro Quote [00:00:00]
Sandra Villines: [00:00:00]
And getting through Yosemite, so difficult because at the time we went through there and I'm sure it's probably the case all the time, but there was just a lot of people in like RVs.
And the RVs were like all over the road and lots of times on the road, there was no shoulder. And if I looked over the road, I could see, I'm going to fall. If I slip down here, you know, I mean, it was some scary point.
Episode Intro [00:00:30]
Kevin Chang: [00:00:30]
Hello and welcome to the RaceMob podcast. This is episode number 58.
I'm Kevin entrepreneur technology and fitness nerd, and I'm joined by the head coach of RaceMob and master motivator, the incomparable Bertrand Newson.
Guest Introduction [00:00:45]
We have heard some incredible stories over the past year, but this one just might take the cake. There's a prestigious record that has stood for almost 40 years before Sandra came and completely crushed it. In 1978, Mavis Hutchinson of South Africa set a new transcontinental record by running from Los Angeles to New York in a little over 69 days.
That's a record that stood for 39 years. That's when Sandra set out on an even longer and more difficult route: from San Francisco to New York and completed it in just 54 days.
So a Sandra attract star with a long family history of elite athleticism. Some no, in fact, this humble, incredibly gracious athlete was a single mother who described herself as overweight and needed to make a change.
And this was just in 2013. Yeah, that's right. From starting a new workout routine on the treadmill of her local gym to winning the Badwater Ultra Marathon a few years later in 2017. A race that even Dean Karnazes has described as one of the most difficult on the planet, because temperatures regularly hit well over a hundred years. Because the race is located in death valley and one false step can literally melt the shoes off of your feet.
And then going on to set this impossible world record, you're going to love this incredibly intense firing conversation with an incredible woman. All of the show notes can be found online at RaceMob dot com slash podcast.
And without further ado, here's our conversation.
Start of the Interview [00:02:29]
Bertrand Newson: [00:02:29]
Hello, RaceMob audience. Welcome to this week's podcast episode, and we are so wonderfully excited to have Sandra V who is a remarkable, strong, determined, relentless tenacious mother, ultra runner, winter of Badwater 2017 and so much more. So without further ado, welcome Sandy
Sandra Villines: [00:02:57]
Oh, thank you guys. Thanks for having me. I had to kind of share my story in hopes that maybe it's inspiring to others or answer some of the curious questions. I'm sure that people ask things that I still get asked and you know, that type of thing. So, yeah. Thanks
Bertrand Newson: [00:03:15]
Time out. Did you say might be in, it might be inspiring?
Sandra Villines: [00:03:20]
It might be inspiring.
Bertrand Newson: [00:03:21]
Oh, my Lord. This is an Episode that you will want to replay very good for those long runs. So if you're feeling a little down a little tired and wondering, you know, where can I find a little bit of motivation, little bit of inspiration, your story in which you're about to listen to will keep you going on those days.
We need a little extra where you need that motivation to help get you over the hump. To know that somebody who's run a marathon, done a triathlon ran across the United States, won Badwater and, and, and and he will be able to peel back the layers on those stories.
Sandra's Origin Story [00:03:59]
So let's go ahead and kind of start there in regards to, you know home life and you as an athlete growing up, you know, where you lived and we'll kind of let the conversation take off from it.
Sandra Villines: [00:04:10]
So he's interesting to tell this story because there's not much to tell and growing up, I was never an athlete at all. I hate any kind of sports. Just was never. Saying, I was kind of the quiet nerd, read a book, you know, write a story, draw a picture, don't throw anything at me cause I probably won't catch it. I probably can't run very far.
You know, and that's pretty much just my childhood. I, I do recall this one, one time. And it was when jogging was a thing. It was probably in the late seventies. And of course I probably just dated myself, but that's all good.
My, my dad was into running and jogging and it was like the thing. And I remember one, one morning it was like, you know, I think my parents felt like they needed to get me, you know, more active and healthier state and wanted me to go for a run with him. And I, I must've been about seven or eight, but I still remember this. It was horrific for me.
I remember, I remember thinking like running, just trying to keep up with him and we probably didn't go very far. Honestly was probably like a Roman block, you know, and it was dark outside and I just, it seemed like an attorney were out there.
My lungs were on fire. Like I was sweating profusely. It was like, who does this for fun? I was so miserable, you know, and I was like, I would never, ever want to run. Like I hated it.
You know, it was just, it was awful. And I just, I have that vivid memory because I, I refer to that often when, you know, to this day I'm like running or, or training. It's like, I remember that time. Cause I, I was, I was hating it so much and I'm in a place where I actually enjoy running, you know, for hours at a time.
And you know, that's a whole nother story, but it's just ironic. I didn't really even taint the idea of wanting to run until I was probably a youngest.
Kevin Chang: [00:05:56]
Well, I mean, I think, and so much of our audience relates to that, you know Bertrand and I are both later in life runners and I had heard, you know, similar to me, I was overweight. Right. That's one of the reasons why I got started in it's running.
And we've heard that from many, many of our guests that we got into the sport, never even imagined that we would fall in love with the sport, and then take it to new Heights.
Start of the Running Journey [00:06:19]
So tell us a little bit about your journey and your start , into running.
Sandra Villines: [00:06:23]
Yeah. So just exactly what you just said. It was kind of a journey into, okay. Self-check I need to get fit. I need to be healthier version of myself at the time I was I was single mom and, you know, very unhealthy, very overweight.
And I had always kind of had a weight problem my whole life, but it came to a point where, you know, it was interfering with, you know, functioning on a daily basis and you don't have energy to do anything. You know, what kind of parent can you be?
So it was kind of more of a, I turned to running to lose weight and even I knew I hated it. I'm gonna make myself do this. I'm going to drag myself to the gym and to put myself on the treadmill and I'm going to make myself do this. And so of course it was miserable and I hated it probably for the first, you know, six months or so.
But once you start to feel better and your body acclimates to it, like I just realized like, oh, this isn't so bad. You know, I started to take my running outside, you know, just running around outside. And I just, I did it because I liked it. There was no I wanted to race or anything. I had actually no knowledge of any of that.
You know, it was just running was just a way to be healthy. Running was something I was starting to like until it came upon the time when I was actually like going to run my first half marathon. And I, I stumbled across that because I I'd seen the sign posted at the gym about a half marathon. And mind you, this was how naive I was.
I didn't even really know how far that was. So I had to like, look everything up. What was a half marathon? I want to do this. And I was like, oh, 13 miles. Huh. It seems kind of far to the time I was only running like maybe five or six miles, like, okay. Four times a week, I'd gotten, you know, which is like a huge accomplishment.
Right. You know, that's a huge accomplishment. So I don't, I don't want to dismiss that at all. Cause you know, any, any way forward is always a good way. And I was like, well, I think I can do this. I think I can do this. And of course, you know, people that I knew were like, you should start with like a 5k or like a 10 K like, yeah, I'm just gonna do the half mirror I'm going to get right into this half marathon thing.
So I started looking at up and seeing the distance and actually the name of the race was Dean Karnazes Silicone Valley. Half marathon. Yes.
Kevin Chang: [00:08:32]
that was my first half marathon. And we just had know and yeah, a couple
Sandra Villines: [00:08:36]
That's like, the OJI half marathon. I don't even think it exists anymore. Right. So.
Kevin Chang: [00:08:41]
Yeah, it doesn't, it doesn't, I mean, run local still puts on the Silicon valley half marathon. And now MEB is a co-sponsor of that, but yeah, that's, that's fantastic. That might've been my first half marathon.
Sandra Villines: [00:08:51]
Right. We may have even been there. Like I still have, I have that metal hanging because it's, you know, it's, it's my first half marathon. So I'm like, well...
Bertrand Newson: [00:09:00]
what year for perspective?
Sandra Villines: [00:09:02]
That was 2014. 13. Yeah. It
Kevin Chang: [00:09:08] yeah, I think,
Sandra Villines: [00:09:10]
Kevin Chang: [00:09:10]
my always 2010 mine was 2010. Yeah.
Bertrand Newson: [00:09:13]
Wow. Wow. Well, I mean, considering what Kevin and I know about you right now and for you to complete your very first half marathon that I hear that correctly, 2014?
Sandra Villines: [00:09:25]
Was 14, I believe.
Bertrand Newson: [00:09:28]
Oh my goodness.
Consistency and Motivation
Kevin Chang: [00:09:30]
Incredible. Well, I mean, talk to us a little bit about that, that starting journey, right? Like so finding, finding a treadmill, how did you get yourself onto that treadmill? How did you find consistency?
What was it that, you know, do you have any tips for our audience that is just trying to find that motivation or they're just trying to find those first steps on how it worked for you and how you, how you got yourself out to the treadmill and got yourself to start falling in love with the sport.
Sandra Villines: [00:09:56]
Yeah, I just I committed to it. Like I verbally told myself I was going to do this every day and I started small. So every day for 20 minutes I would do this for a week. And then I would gradually increase the time I spent on it. So I wasn't looking at miles back then. It was like, okay, I'm going to spend 20 minutes every day.
That's, that's a realistic goal. I can commit to doing that every day. And that's what I tell people that I'm like working with their coaching now, like make that small commitment. It doesn't have to be something that's so outrageous. And then you'll grow into your goals. As you start to see progress, you're going to spill more, you know, enthusiasm and energy around it.
Okay. I'm getting stronger, you know, I'm leaning out whatever your goals are and then you'll start to progress and that's kind of, you just have to start with something that's good for you. And that's what was good for me at the time, you know, until I just progressed up to, you know, miles and then counting hours and, you know, laps and all that crazy stuff I do now.
But yeah, I mean, that would be my advice. You just have to start, you have to make the commitment and start small because once you see that you, you reach that goal, you set for yourself, no matter what it is, it's an accomplishment. You know, it's a huge accomplishment for yourself. And that starts to build that confidence and that, you know, I can do it.
And you know, you start looking, thinking that big or looking at bigger things and what else can I do?
The Initial Motivation [00:11:24]
Kevin Chang: [00:11:24]
That's incredible. Yeah. And, and so inspirational, you know, give our audience some idea of what life was like before you found, you know, the treadmill and found this you know, whether that be scale, weight, or, or other things you said that things were hindering you, or you could, you could sense you know, from a health standpoint that you needed to make a change.
Sandra Villines: [00:11:43]
Well, I'll tell you when you got it, gotta keep buying bigger pants. Cause they don't button. That's pretty a big sign right there. That light, whoa, like something's got to change here, you know, or coming home from work and just being so tired, you know, you don't have any energy to do that anything, you know.
Let alone, you know, try and, you know, spend time with my daughter and, and be a good role model was that was the first indication is like, you know, my clothes don't fit, I'm constantly having to get bigger pants. Like this is not good. You know, it's not healthy, you know? So I started just, I just made the commitment that I have to do something and you know, just start. Making better food choices and you know, that type of thing.
Scheduling Tips [00:12:23]
Kevin Chang: [00:12:23]
And 20 minutes a day, you know, sometimes when you're starting out, it seems tough to schedule and whatnot. Did you have any scheduling tips too? Or are you finding time before work afterwards?
Sandra Villines: [00:12:34]
Yeah. So I had, I've always had to have like with my daughter growing up, like a very set type of schedule, cause everything was, you know, I had to get her to school at a certain time and then I had to be at work at a certain time. And so then that leads very, you know, very little time for other things. So I always squeeze my workouts at that time in after work.
So I would pick her up and we would go to the gym and she would be in the daycare. And I would do my, spend my hour there at the gym, you know, five days during the week, I just made it a part of my daily regimen because you have to create that habit, whatever it is.
If it's, you know, walking around your block for 30 minutes, whatever it is, but you have to incorporate that somehow into your daily routine, just to make it a part of that, you know, regular, healthy habit that you're going to start. Yeah,
One Thing Leads to Another [00:13:21]
Kevin Chang: [00:13:21]
I love that. Well, I mean, talk to us about the half marathon.
Sandra Villines: [00:13:24]
Oh yeah. So, so yeah, so back to that story, I didn't know who, you know, Dean Karnazes was at the time, so of course I'm like Googling and looking stuff up.
And I was like, wow, she could see my expression right now. Cause I was like, wow, what the heck? What the heck?
Bertrand Newson: [00:13:44]
He's probably saying the same thing about you right now.
Sandra Villines: [00:13:46]
I was what the heck? Right. I was like, so intrigued. Cause then, you know, the more that you read, you know, so about, you know, someone's accomplishments and then like, you know, you dig in and you're like, oh, what is this?
What's an ultra marathon. I was like, what's an ultra, like people run farther than 26 miles? Cause I had, I finally understood what a marathon was. And to me that was like, oh my God, who runs a marathon? Right. Let alone anything past that. And I was like, oh my God. And then I discovered this, you know what Badwater was like, I was so intrigued.
I was so untreated mind you, I hadn't even run the half marathon yet. So like, my brain is like spinning and I'm like, I want to do that. I'm going to do that. You know? And I was like, so excited. I remember telling people about it, like, you know, people that run in the desert and death valley and like their shoes are melting on the ground.
I'm like, the ground is like, it's like wicked hot out there. Like you could die. Like, but I want to do that, you know? And I just remember
Bertrand Newson: [00:14:44]
you sound by
Sandra Villines: [00:14:44]
I was so excited and it's still, it just inspires me up because that water's coming up right now and I'm going off to support a friend. And it's just like, you know, I just, I take it so seriously.
But I remember, you know, just like telling people that I knew and they were like, you are nuts. Like there's no way you're going to ever do that. Like, there's people that have been waiting for years of a treatment training for years, that's their dream race. Like, there's just, yeah. Right. Sandra, you have me run a half marathon, like just chill out.
Bertrand Newson: [00:15:10]
I mean, I am still in amazement with the trajectory of your starting your, your very first half marathon in 2014, to where you are now. I mean, as a running coach, you just don't see leaps like that. A mother working, you know, working mother. So I'm just going to sit back and eat popcorn and let you and Kevin tucked up for front row seat of this story right here.
When's the movie come out. When does the movie come out?
Sandra Villines: [00:15:37]
The movie, you're funny! So, yeah, that's I mean, and ever since I had discovered what that was, I, I probably Googled like every video I could find about people's adventures at Badwaters, you know? So like I see these vehicles at night. I see people all lit up with, you know, cause it's a nighttime race at the time.
I am very nice. I don't know about any of it. So I'm like, these people are moving in the middle of the night, like, how is that humanly possible? Like, what are they eating? Are they sleeping? How are they using the bathroom? Like, how are they still moving? You know? And, and what is this, what is, who are these people in the vehicles?
Like, what are they doing? They're like meeting them and keeping them moving and, you know, doing these, you know, caring for them. And I, the whole thing was just, it became extremely intriguing to me.
And from the time that I, I set forth to do the half marathon, I made it like a personal goal that someday I was going to do that because I was just so intrigued and it seemed like such a challenge.
I would just work my way up to eventually being able to like, at least put my name in the hat for a race like that. Cause to me all the work that was required to just be able to apply was like a huge milestone.
Like being able to do that. I was so proud, you know, to be able to say that I did everything I could to actually submit an application, you know, to Chris Cosmin and say, look, I've done everything.
And then some, you know, to be able to at least apply,
Kevin Chang: [00:17:04]
That's incredible. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And I think it gives us a, a good view into your mindset and the type of the type of person yeah. That, that you know, that you are taking on these challenges, thinking so far ahead, getting, getting really deep into and setting goals for yourself, which is just incredible.
Setting Goals: Projecting for Badwater [00:17:23]
And, and something that we talk with our athletes all the time about setting goals and putting a plan in place to go out and achieve those goals. So I guess, I mean, talk to us a little bit about, you know? you have this goal now to some day compete in Badwater. Did you figure out which year you wanted to compete in?
Did you put a plan, a little bit of a plan in place? Yeah.
I guess, I mean, talk to us a little bit about that.
Sandra Villines: [00:17:47]
So for a couple of years, I just, I did a lot of half marathon. I did a lot of full marathons and mind you I'm coach lists, right? I'm just like what I learned on online and you know, what makes sense to me. And, you know, I started upping my mileage on my own. So probably 2014, I decided like to do my very first.
D Ron passed 26 miles. And so I hadn't actually signed up for a race. I was just running around, you know, my neighborhood and, you know, east side of San Jose. I mean, just, you know, I had my Hills and my, my roots in places that I ran and, you know, I just started working my way up. And I remember I was so excited to run.
I had made a schedule for myself and I was gonna run 30 miles that day. I had no, or run that bar. So I thought something magical was going to happen. Like, I'm looking at my watch. I'm like, okay. 28, 29, 30, like did something magical happened? No, you're still running. Just keep moving. So I thought some miraculous thing was going to happen.
Like when you actually, you go past 26 miles and it was like, oh, nothing, nothing's broken. Just keep moving.
Hydration and Diet [00:18:52]
Kevin Chang: [00:18:52]
Did you find that your body could just naturally go longer and longer distances? Did you find that You had to change your nutrition strategy, hydration strategy? How, how did you end up, you know, being able to go and ultra distance? That seems farfetched for me. I mean,
Sandra Villines: [00:19:09]
You know what? It was just like a weird epiphany. It's like I did it. And then I was just like, oh, it was almost like easier to run farther in my, what I call now, like that zone where I can just like tune everything out and just run. And then I guess I refer to that as like a happy pace. Like you just, you can just go and go and go.
But I remember doing that first run and I was like, oh, okay. I don't know what I was expecting to happen. I was going to expect myself to fall over, like all of a sudden I needed like something, but I didn't, it was like, Okay. And so, you know, at that point I decided, okay, I'm ready to sign up for an actual, you know, 50 K style race.
And so I did a lot of 50 Ks. A lot of the coastal trail runs out there in San Jose and in that Silicon valley bay area, because there are a good way to get that longer distance in where I wasn't always on the road. And I wanted to make sure that, you know, I gave my body a break. I'm not always hitting pavement.
I'm running on trails, it's time on my feet. So I use a lot of those. A lot of those runs for training runs under my Valerie. Any time something popped up, I would sign up for it. Plus I think it's just good, and it's a different environment to be out there and, you know, in the trails versus on the road. So my first actual 50 K was in, I think, February of 2015, and that was kind of the initiation of my plan.
So I'm going to do these 50 Ks. I'm going to do the other two Badwater events because from what I had understood. It's not enough just to be able to run the 300 mile races that are required to submit an application. You know, it's about being a part of the Badwater family and community. It's like, what are you giving back?
Are you supporting the other races? Are you coming out and supporting another runner? So I did all that. I went to Cape fear, which is in South Carolina, it's at 51 miler on the island, you know, across the beach and any Badwater races difficult. And that was like my very first, very first, like big, big, you know, run was like, you know, over 50 miles.
And then two months later I went to Salt and Sea with people that I didn't know on a team that I met on Facebook, you know? And at that time you were required to known a veteran to be able to be a part of a team for Saul and a see, cause that's a race where. It's either two or three team.
And it's not a relay, you, y'all have to run together the entire time. So somebody struggling, then you all struggle together. You know, it's, that's the way it is that you can't leave anybody behind. You have to stay together the entire time. So it really teaches you a lot about thinking about other people and it's not, you know, it's your race as a team.
So I did both of those events. And actually, if you complete saw NC, it's actually acknowledged as a hundred miler in Badwater road because it's such a challenging race. I mean, you have two huge mountain climbs, so it's a combination of road you're in the heat. You got that last climb at Palomar mountain.
And then of course it's cold. So it's, it's almost a... Comparable to like a little mini Badwater, if you will with the climbing and then the, the conditions and the distance. So I remember doing that. And so in 2015, I did a lot. I did, you know, all these 50 Ks, I did those two Badwater events. I did my first triathlon iron man in Santa Cruz.
So I did a lot of things that year
Kevin Chang: [00:22:32]
You did iron man
Sandra Villines: [00:22:34]
it, it was just a half. I had to learn how to, I had to learn how to swim first. I didn't know how to swim. No, I'm serious. I had to learn how to swim. I wanted to, I wanted to learn how to swim. So that's another story in itself too. But training, I wanted to be able to put that on my, on my resume. So I trained for that half iron man and yeah, so. Well, I did that too.
And then my actual first, first a hundred mile race was actually here in Florida. And so mind you at the time, I'd never been here before. I didn't know anything about humidity. I didn't know what that was going to be like. They know about the dewpoint, so of course I signed up for this race, but because it was a road run and it was point a point and I thought it would be a good challenge to do that.
So my first actual hundred miler was here in Florida. They the Daytona 100 and I remember flying out here and it wasn't, it was in November. And that's not a time when it's supposed to be wicked, wicked hot. It's kind of cooled down a little bit. It's kind of like, you know, your summer seasons kind of over.
I remember coming out of the airport and the door opened. It was like this big blanket of like just moisture and all that. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. What am I going to do? What have I gotten myself into?
Kevin Chang: [00:23:56]
Sandra Villines: [00:23:56]
I'm by myself. I mean, I crude myself for that.
Kevin Chang: [00:23:59]
Sandra Villines: [00:24:01]
and my sister came as support. But they were in the hotel and they pick me up when I was done and
Kevin Chang: [00:24:07]
Sandra Villines: [00:24:08]
All these bags I made for all these aid stations.
Cause I had no idea exactly what I was going to need. So I just remember thinking, oh, how am I going to get through this? Whether like, I don't know anything about dealing with this weather. And so I just try to spend the next couple of days outside as much as possible to get used to it before the race started, you know?
And that was definitely a challenge. That was probably one of the hardest things I've had to do because it was a completely different experience. I'm all by myself, out there on the road like that, so.
Dewpoint - Challenging the Weather [00:24:39]
Kevin Chang: [00:24:39]
Talk to our audience a little bit about dewpoint. I mean, for, yeah, for those of us that are trying to figure out how do we run in humidity? How do we run at higher temperatures?
What are some of the things that you're looking at to kind of adjust, because I'm assuming that you adjust your pace depending on what the weather or, you know, what the environment is like.
Sandra Villines: [00:24:58]
I'm a big run by feel. I run, I run by how I feel like don't watch my watch. I'm not a pace watcher. I've learned to not do that just because that's what works for me. And I seem to run better when I'm not. And so my body will just adapt to whatever the environment is. Okay. So now I'm doing, you know, 11 minute mile because that's what I need to do.
Okay. That's fine. I can do that. Because I'm still moving forward at a, you know, with efficiency and that's all that matters when it comes down to them, I'm comfortable. I can move. I'm moving, you know, well, and that's kinda what it comes down to.
But when it comes to the weather, the one thing I learned about out here is everybody. Talks about the heat and humidity. And though there are two, two things that are challenging, but nobody talks about the dewpoint.
So the dewpoint is when it's really wet. So it can be humid, which is like very thick. But then when it's thick and wet and hot, that's like, you know, triple things that you're having to deal with because the more moisture in the air to me, it's just, it drains, like I say, drains your soul.
Cause that's kinda what it feels like. It drains your soul. It, you just kind of have to be conscientious of what, what the weather is going to be like for your race. You know? So it's much different than, you know, when I'm running in California. I mean, yes, there's dry heat and there's heat, but from where we used to live, kind of, you know, close to the bay area to allow the running that I did, you know, it didn't really get too hot.
I was always very comfortable and you know, you could wear a windbreaker or like a, a beanie and you'd be comfortable and here you don't need any of that stuff. Like you just, you don't, it's more minimal.
As far as like, you know, what you wear does a lot more chafing that happens here. And I learned all about that at Daytona 100, cause I had no idea. And you know, I only wear like any kind of compression style short now because I learned my lesson that year.
It was so miserable the last 30 miles, because like literally all my legs and all around, you know, just my legs and my rear end, everything was just so cheap. Like I could barely leave a walk. I was just like death marching, the last 30 miles just to finish, you know, it's like, nobody told me about this.
Oh my God. And so that's like the first thing I always tell everybody is like, if they've never run out here is you need to have some kind of plan to make yourself comfortable because that will definitely, you know, be a hindrance to you. If you're not on top of it,
Kevin Chang: [00:27:18]
Yeah. Well, we often learn our, our biggest lessons from our greatest failures.
Sandra Villines: [00:27:23]
Absolutely And always try and share that with people because it's not like I know it all, but because I've learned from experience, I don't want to see anybody else struggling with that. Like, trust me. Don't want to be there. That is definitely a pain cave you don't want to enter.
Daytona 100 - Approaching Hydration [00:27:41]
Bertrand Newson: [00:27:41]
Yeah. One of the things we've been speaking about with our athletes and recently had the owner of hammer nutrition on our last podcast is fueling and hydration. Can you take us through that Daytona 100 and really what worked for you from maybe some lessons you learned from previous events that helped you still navigate that 100 miles journey?
Sandra Villines: [00:27:59]
Yeah. At the time I was still experimenting with things. I didn't have the course. Much experience. I mean, now I can speak to it in a different way about what I use, but back then I was using water and tailwind. And Coke has always been like my thing, like, I'll drink Coke a because it's got all that sodium in it.
I mean, it's, I wouldn't drink it any other day, but when I'm running, it's like, you know, just give me an IV of it type of thing. So those are like the three main things I used back then, as far as like hydration goes. And in all honesty, I, I never had any issues with dehydration or anything like that, it was very well hydrated.
I always use two bottles. One is for water. One is for whatever I'm my electrolyte plan is now I use P light noon, like to put the noon in the Coke. I mean, I do all kinds of weird, crazy stuff now. So I mean, and that's the stuff that just seems to work for me. And you just kind of create.
Current Hydration Strategy [00:28:57]
Kevin Chang: [00:28:57]
Yeah. I mean, I talk to us about, I guess, what your, what your current hydration strategy is. What are you doing today? So you have two bottles. Is that right?
Sandra Villines: [00:29:06]
Yeah, I use two bottles. If I'm able to have, if somebody is cremated, able to care, it has somebody to like support me. Then I will use up to three different things. So ice tea is another thing that I, especially in the dome that caffeine kick and then it's just like ice tea almost became my new water. That was like ice tea and noon with Coke Pedialyte with noon.
So I would just mix stuff up constantly. And it just seems to give me enough, like bite, where it's like, I think it's satisfying. All the things that I'm losing, especially in something that's so continuous for hours and hours and hours.### Intuitive Fuelling [00:29:44]
Kevin Chang: [00:29:44]
One thing that you mentioned that I, I love to hear is just that you run intuitively. I mean, it seems like maybe you are fueling intuitively a little bit as well, that you just know your body so well at this point, after hours and hours. on the road that you.
Sandra Villines: [00:30:00]
Kevin Chang: [00:30:00]
I mean, when you started out, did you have like a strategy of like, Hey, I need to take a sip every 20 minutes, 40 minutes sort of thing, or is it just kind of, Hey, when you know, I just kind of do it intuitively.
Sandra Villines: [00:30:12]
So I think it's, to this point now with a little bit more based on into it, the intuitive to activity point in kind of what I'm feeling. I used to be very, I had to like have a plan, like, okay, I need to get a hundred calories every hour. Like I tried to follow a formula and it just became to be too much.
Or maybe I'm giving myself too much. Like I don't really need all that. I think a lot of new owners probably maybe make that mistake because of course you don't want to, you know, you don't want to suffer and be on the other side of that fence, but sometimes it's just too much and you got all kinds of other things that happen.
You got sloshy stomach. Now you got, you can go to the bathroom and you got like all the above, all these other issues. So it's kind of, I really don't think there's any formula, you know, advising somebody now it would be more of a like, make sure that you're doing it as you need to, and you're going along.
And if your body wants something, it probably needs it. You need to give it to give it to yourself, you know, whatever that may be.
Kevin Chang: [00:31:06]
Yeah, that makes sense. And I think, you know what what Brian from hammered nutrition was saying is that oftentimes people are over consuming whether that be water or, or calories and you end up having more problems from the over-consumption side sometimes.
Becoming an Elite Athlete [00:31:20]
So you finished this a hundred miler, obviously it's your first event. You made a lot of mistakes. When did you start becoming an elite athlete? I mean what, when did you know that you were going to be kind of towards the top of the pack at the top of the pack? When did, when did this start happening?
Sandra Villines: [00:31:36]
So funny because I don't think of myself that way. I've never, and this is so true. I've never looked at a race and like thought like I'm training to like be in the top or I'm training to be in the front. I'm training to be my best I'm training to, to do better than I did last time. And that's always been my mindset, you know?
I Don't Don't pay attention to people around me. I do my own thing. I've always done my own thing. And a lot of times my husband would be creaming. He'll be like, do you want me to tell you where you're at? And I'm like, no, I don't want you to tell me where I'm not. He's like, but I'm like, no. So a lot of times he's like nudged me and it's always been in a positive way, you know, he'll let me know, like, you know, you're, you're on the top, blah, blah, blah.
And I'm like, what? You know, because I am literally so oblivious. Like I don't, I just don't. I never did. And I think when I, if I do start thinking like that, it changes my mindset. I'm not able to focus. I'm too worried about what's going on. I'm worried about Susie, Joe and whatever, and that's not what it was ever about for me.
So it was kind of like I had to rethink why I started doing this, what it means to me, why I'm doing this, you know, to inspire other people still. And it has to be, you know, the only competition is myself. No, can I be, can I be better than the last
so when you say that it makes me chuckle because I don't think of myself that way. I never really have that in myself that way. And don't get me wrong. I worked really hard for that, you know, female win at Badwater. And the time, and I get this a lot and it's probably why I don't bring it up because when you tell somebody you want to raise, what's the first thing they ask you, oh, what was your time?
You know, and it wasn't like, it was a sub 30 hour finish my God. It was like a 34 43, you know, 34 hours and 43 minutes and change finished. You know, the conditions that year were very, very unusual. It was very humid, you know, that valleys, not a humid place, but it was just very bizarre, very bizarre year.
And once again, I was just, I went in, I did my thing, like this was just, you're gonna, you're gonna adjust to the weather. You're going to, you've been in this before. You know what this is about, you know, You're going to go through a lot of phases in a race of that, you know, on Debbie, it's just going to, you're going to change, you know, you're going to walk, we need to walk.
You're gonna run when you can run and you're going to keep up your hydration and nutrition so you can keep moving forward. That's the main thing you just have to keep moving. No matter what it is, you can walk, but you need to walk with a purpose.
Bertrand Newson: [00:34:05]
Was 2017, your first Badwater. When was your first Badwater?
Sandra Villines: [00:34:08]
No, 2016 was my
Bertrand Newson: [00:34:10]
Okay. And how did that experience.
Sandra Villines: [00:34:12]
It was good. I feel like I went in really well trained. I feel like I had a really good race on my, put it all out there. And ironically the, the times I, for both years, I believe are pretty similar, you know it was pretty consistent. It's just, you know, the weather on that second year was very, very challenging.
But yeah, that's I was, I was shocked. I think, stunned that, you know, when they were telling me that I won, I don't think I could like stop crying. I was like, wait, what? Like know, no, it was just like, somebody like me doesn't win a race like that.
Like, I was just happy to finish it, you know, and, and be able to, you know, move around after to me, like, if you've done, if you've trained off of your race and you can move around the next day, like to me, your training was spot on, like you did everything, right. You know, it's just recovery now. So that it, yeah, it took a while for that to set in.
Kevin Chang: [00:34:59]
If you like our podcast and sign up for our newsletter, where we give you weekly tips on how to run your best race and have fun in the process, just go to RaceMob dot com and sign up today.
Badwater - Challenges [00:35:10]
Yeah. I mean, you got to talk to us about That race. I mean, 2017, I'm sure you came in and probably, I mean, not too many people expected much from me from the race. As you mentioned, and then, you know, what, what were the weather conditions like? What was the field like?
And talk to us about, I mean, I guess, were there any points in time, just like other races that you felt belabored or having difficulty. And what are some of the things that, I guess that gets you through some of those moments and any stories that you may have from that, from that year in particular?
Sandra Villines: [00:35:40]
That race. I honestly, I don't remember a ton.
I really don't. I just remember, I remember it was super windy yeah. In the beginning. And it was like the wind, it was like a blow dryer in your face. But the air was like moist, which is not typical. Like it's usually very dry the field. It was a great field. A lot of, you know, elite people, I was in the middle wave, which suited me fine for, you know, what I was, what I had trained to do.
Yeah. I just remember that first it's like 18, 19 miles to your first stop. And that's back to the ranch. You start at the, at the basin. I just remember thinking, my God it's so humid out here. I couldn't, I couldn't, I was like, I feel like I was in Florida. I'm like, what is this? This is so bizarre. You know?
And I was just telling my team, I'm just like, just, I needed extra, like hydration. Like I dunno what it was like lots of salt and, and things like that. And I mean, I, I feel like I was moving. Okay. I felt like I, I didn't really struggle until maybe we got to a Panamint and of course Panamint usually that value where you, you, you come into and it's flat and it's usually like extremely hot there naturally where the ground is like on fire.
I mean, you can feel like the heat coming up through your shoes. It's like it's just a bizarre feeling. He's trying to stay on the little white line. So it doesn't, you know, you don't feel as much heat penetrating through your feet.
Bertrand Newson: [00:37:03]
Kevin Chang: [00:37:04]
Sandra Villines: [00:37:05]
I did have, I had a really good support team that year and the gal that was pacing me up over a couple of the mountains.
They did a really good job keeping me cool. So, you know, a lot of ice. And then she was just like, with the, basically like a water hose behind me, like one of those things you like pump pesticide around your garden with, you know, keeping me like wet the whole time. So I wouldn't overheat. I mean, that was like a huge, huge help for me.
You know, I use a lot of ice. I like to still keep my body cool. So that was like a huge win. So I think taking care of myself in the first half and, you know, being conservative, you know, was, was a gain for me on the second half, you know, once we got over father Crowley, you know, I was able to move pretty well still.
And you know, I started passing people and that's kinda, that's usually where, you know, you, you take it easy, you know, when people are walking or.
Kevin Chang: [00:37:57]
Yeah. I mean, we tell our athletes all the time, you, you can't win the race and the first half, but you can certainly lose it In the first half. And I think potentially. The way that you run. So intuitively probably helped you quite a bit, because my guess is, you know, maybe some of the elite athletes had a plan going into that race and maybe they went out even just a little bit too fast for what, what happened throughout that whole, throughout that whole race.
At what point did you know that you were kind of creeping up or getting a faster time that people just start reeling? Like you said, you started reeling people.
Sandra Villines: [00:38:32]
It starts putting a bug in my ear. So it's like, you want to know what you're at and I was like no!
That's yeah. That, and it was, it was towards the later, you know, end of the race when the, of course that would happened. And I just, I I've never paid much attention to that because like I said, I don't put myself in that category. I never really had. Not, you know, what makes me feel good about running?
It makes me really happy if you're there, you might as well go for it.
Bertrand Newson: [00:39:01]
Sandra Villines: [00:39:03]
that was kind of way. And my coach at the time had jumped on my crew. And so he was, you know, letting me know like statistically where I was and, you know, blah, blah, blah. And here are the odds and dah, dah, dah. And, you know, from that point on like that last, I think it was 18 or so hours.
Like I, you know, worked my tail off, you know, to get there. I mean, like I said, the time isn't, you know, like a sub 30 or anything, like, oh my God. Wow, that's fantastic. But you know, I worked really hard for that time and I'm proud to say that I, you know, I finished with that time that year and that's, you know, what it took. So.
Keeping Focused [00:39:41]
Bertrand Newson: [00:39:41]
And what's the mental focus Sandy during, you know, again, it's, we're not talking about a 5k 10 K half marathon. Marathon, we're talking about 135 miles and one of the hottest places on earth and you're in contention. Take us there. H w how are you, you know, keeping yourself focused and not letting the, the gravity of the situation overwhelm.
Sandra Villines: [00:40:06]
I guess I just have this weird uncanny, like way of just like disassociating and like, just like staring straight ahead and just like zoning out. Like I can just totally zone out and I'll just stare straight ahead, which is probably a weird thing to, to hear. But in all honesty, that's what I do. I listened to music with one earbud and so most of my music and playlist are set to a cadence as well.
So almost like a metronome. So I just let my body fall into that, whatever it is. And. That's usually what keeps me going,
Kevin Chang: [00:40:39]
Do you have a specific cadence that you, that you try to find music for?
Sandra Villines: [00:40:43]
Oh, I have a closet full of cadences. Now. I got all kinds of gates and all kinds of weird runs and things that I do. And I, yeah, and it's, it's ironic because that's just some of the stuff that I caught myself doing to jump ahead a little bit at the dome in 2019.
And I don't know if it was because of the loop route that it was, but I discovered I had taught myself how to do all these different types of like foot, foot cadences and our movement.
Like, I don't know, it's it became a part of my routine. So, I mean, I didn't do any of that at bat the water. I don't think I had learned any of that or taught myself any of that at the time, but it was just a loss in my thoughts. Listen to my music, keep moving forward. Yeah. That's, there's really not much more to it than that.
Training Routine [00:41:33]
Kevin Chang: [00:41:33]
We know that you had an incredible Transamerica journey and I want to get into that, but you touched on a subject that I think our audience is really curious about, which is what is your current training routine look like? What, what, what are some of the lessons that you've learned even today and, and at your level that that, that you've taken away or that our audience can learn from.
Sandra Villines: [00:41:53]
Yeah. So I guess one of the most important things, and I, I, I talked to, you know, some of the people I work with and that I, I am currently training and friends and it's, it's like when you run, you need to, your run needs to be your own, whatever it is, not all runs are the same. So if you're not going for a tempo run or a speedy run, and you know, one day you're doing a, you know, you do a run it's, you know, your paces, you know, under nine minutes.
And then all of a sudden you do a run. Your pace is 12. That doesn't make it a horrible. That run was meant to be at that pace for a reason, because you're going to burn yourself out. Not every run needs to be at that same pace. There's different reasons for that run that week that you're doing. So don't get caught up in, in thinking that or people's comments on your runs on Strava, which is sometimes why don't like all the noise.
Oh, you had a bad run. No, actually I didn't have a really good run. I was, I was, you know, I was pacing my walk that day. I was training my walk, you know, so people don't always understand what you are doing individually as an athlete, you do your thing and don't worry about the commentary and the noise and you need to do what's right for you.
So I think for me, that's like a huge thing. I just, I do my thing. I have my runs. There's a reasons why they're this. And there's a reason why they're there. There was a purpose behind it. You know, like I, I never mentioned or told anybody that I was going to the dome this year.
And so, and also my mileage like peeked up and, you know, people comment on it and I always appreciate positive feedback and comments, but like I said, it's that pace thing, all of a sudden you're doing like, you know, a run that's maybe, you know, like 9, 9 30, and then all of a sudden, you know, I did a 50 miler, but you know, I was doing 11, 12 minute miles on purpose because I'm also practicing like, you know, talking because there's going to be, you know, some of that involved.
So you can't just train, you know, for that first 20 miles of the race I'm training for the last two days of this race. Like I, you know, that's my mindset. So I guess overall, it's just like, you have to be focused on your training for you and not worry about anybody else's comments.
Training Cycles and Types of Runs [00:44:08]
Kevin Chang: [00:44:08]
Yeah, I love that. And do you gave yourself a longer training cycle? Are you planning out what types of runs are happening in that or kind of still is it more intuitive that you'll just set out on a run and figure out what your body needs or wants that day?
Talk to us, I guess a little bit about overall training cycles and types of runs.
Sandra Villines: [00:44:29]
So it, it depends on what I'm training for in, in multi-day seems to be kind of my, my thing right now, and with a multi-day you just have to have a really good solid base. So I will look at the month and think, okay, where am I at? How have I been running? Do I need to kind of build up first? And I'm always very patient with myself.
Like I don't force anything out of, okay. I haven't been running for a month. I need to build that back up again. And then I'll create a plan for myself for two weeks. See how that goes. And then I will gradually increase my mileage and then gradually like do the longer runs, the easy 10 is now the easy 20, the easy twenties now, the easy 30.
And that's kind of my mindset that it was for, you know, for the dome. Okay. I can do, you know, a 40 and a 50 mile back to back and still feel good. The next I can go run 20. So my mindset is kind of like on a weekly, monthly, and, but I do check in, you know, am I feeling okay? Am I overdoing it? Do I have any, you know, I'm prone to tendonitis.
I'm always very conscientious about that. And I spend a lot more time now stretching and rolling than I ever did before, because I think that was also a huge part of what made the Transcon successful was that piece of like the time that was spent doing those things it'll pay dividends and gains later on, for sure.
As far as like your recovery and preventing that, you know, injury. Happening or even becoming to a point where it puts you out.
Six Days in the Dome [00:45:55]
Kevin Chang: [00:45:55]
Yeah. that makes sense. So how did the dome go for you? And then let's get into trans cons for sure.
Sandra Villines: [00:46:01]
Yeah. It's because it's fresh in my mind. So it's, it's, I'm still kind of like riding the high and you know, I went, I went into the dome cruelest and I was a little, I was a little panicky about it at first because I was like, afraid that I couldn't, you know, do it on my own.
You know, I've kind of, you know, I enjoy having somebody, especially somebody who knows me really well, who can, you know, just give me things without me having to think about it as much, it just makes it much easier. So I almost didn't go because of that. I, you know, I've been training since January and I almost didn't go because I couldn't find anybody that would be able to cruise.
Kevin Chang: [00:46:39]
And for already it's where, where is the Dome and what type of race is that? How long is it?
Sandra Villines: [00:46:44]
So the Six Days in the Dome it's in at the lap of tit ice center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. So it's in this enclosed ice arena. And the point of this enclosed environment is to give you the best conditions possible. It's 55 degrees. There's no outside elements. There's no night gear needed. And you know, you don't know what time of day it is.
So you just keep running. You don't know if it's daylight or nighttime or, or whatever. So it creates an environment where you can, you know, have a really pristine run. You can set records. I mean, it's a, it's a pretty prestigious event.
And it's on a 0.4, five millimeter track. So it's not really a track, it's actually an oval around the ice arena in the middle. So there's like a block of ice in the middle where, you know, kids are ice skating and hockey teams are playing games. So like, there's, this is going on throughout the day. So it's, it's like a weird thing. It's like kind of how I knew what time of day it was.
Okay. That girl was, or her ice skating in the morning. Okay. Hockey in the evening. Okay. It's quiet. It must be nighttime now. Right. So that's kind of how I kept track of what was going on. But yeah, it's this oval and basically they, they lay like a, a fo track.
It's not real. It does not feel like a track. You're basically running on a block of cement, so very hard on your body, but overall it is it's, it is a very nice venue and environment, because like I said, you don't have all those elements and things you have to deal with outside. So it's
Kevin Chang: [00:48:18]
days, I mean,
Sandra Villines: [00:48:19]
days. Your goal is to run as much as you want or.
Kevin Chang: [00:48:24]
Sandra Villines: [00:48:24]
You know, people come for all reasons, some to set records, some just to, you know, do what they can do and you, and you pretty much can do whatever you want. I mean, you could run for two hours and go home and come back the next day. You know, it's totally up to you how you want to do that. So
Kevin Chang: [00:48:40]
And you decide your own sleep schedule. You decide your own everything. You can kind of schedule and... wow.
Sandra Villines: [00:48:46]
schedule is hard because I, I, I think I, I might have a better idea of what I would do for the next next time. It's definitely difficult because I'm not somebody who can nap. I never been an app first, so I can just lay down and, you know, and I envy the people that I would see napping and it's like, I want to just be like, ah, I hate you.
How can you be snoring right now? And it's all this racket, I'm just not, but, you know, I just took it for. I got it. If I'm here by myself, I'm going to be conservative. I'm going to move forward the best I can. I want to, I really wanted to see how my training was going to affect my outcome, you know? And that's, you know, I, I guess I almost didn't go and I was talking to a friend actually P Kostelnik and he's like, you just need to go.
He's like, just don't be a baby, basically what he was telling me and go, and he was right. I put on my big girl pants and he's right. He's like, I've done harder things. I can do this by myself. And my husband ended up coming the last day. So, I mean, that was, it was a, it was a win.
But I went in, I just, I just had my attitude and I said, it's, you're going to do what you can do. You're going to be strong. You're going to keep moving. And if you need to stop, you're going to stop and take a nap. And that's basically what I went in with. Like, if I got off of my feet, if I felt I couldn't, my legs wouldn't turn anymore. With a purpose. Like I couldn't, my legs were just tire out after a while.
And then I would get off my feet and I would lay down for an hour and it actually would help. I could come back and I would be okay, I can move again. Like,
Kevin Chang: [00:50:12]
Sandra Villines: [00:50:13]
you know, and, and it's crazy because I laid, I did lay down somewhere and I rested, you know, but actual sleep sleep was probably less than four hours. The entire time. I actually slept twice or maybe 90, 90 minutes each.
And I'll tell you it's so bizarre what your brain and your mind starts to think. Like, I would close my eyes and like see things and hear voices. It was so crazy. It was almost, I didn't want to lay down anymore because of the, it was tripping me out.
I would lay down and just like, have these weird, like, you know, visions. And like the sleep deprivation is really gets to you after a few days. But I just try not to make it a focus like. You can keep moving. It's only six days you did this for 54 days. Like it's okay. Just suck it up, you know, get over the sleep thing because I, I, wasn't going to let anything just be stuck in my brain.
You know, I know I can have a tendency to get focused on something and then it'll make me not want to do it anymore. So I just, the main thing for me was having a good attitude, which I had the entire time. And I think that was a huge win too, as well. Just being positive about what I could do.
Kevin Chang: [00:51:24]
Love that. Yeah. And what you mentioned about. Taking that first step, sometimes all you need is that first step, or to convince yourself to take that first step and then your body will naturally do the rest of it and, and, you know, kind of carry you on which, what your body can do.
How did you end up finishing?
Sandra Villines: [00:51:41]
Yeah. I ended up finishing. So ironically, like, it was so much better than the last time. And I say that. You might say, okay, well you only did 400 miles the last time. And I did 4 22 this time, but for me it wasn't just the mile. So for me, a lot of other wins. So I managed my injury. So the tendonitis, I mentioned it comes, I knew it was going to come.
I didn't have, I just have to learn. I had to learn to manage it. And I was by myself. And in all honesty, it did flare up on day two. And it tendonitis isn't anything that puts you out. Unless it turns into a shin splint, which we thought it was at first, but it wasn't. So when we could keep it under control and at bay, because they had a great medical staff there, Dr.
Libby was the best, but I said, we'd massage it. And you know, I I'd stop and do what I need to do to take care of it. The pain was, pain was tolerable and sometimes it wouldn't, it would be non-existent to where I could just go. And when it was at a point where I couldn't go as fast as I wanted to, then I power walk my behind off until, you know, it would subside again.
So basically I just worked with it the entire time that I was. Happy to say, and this happened on the Transcon too, by the time I was done, it had completely healed itself.
Kevin Chang: [00:52:55]
Bertrand Newson: [00:52:55]
On it's great.
Sandra Villines: [00:52:57]
Yeah. It it's miraculous. It's like, there's nothing there. It's like completely gone. And not that I would recommend guys, that everybody goes, so let me, let me just make that statement.
I don't recommend for people that are injured to push through it in that way. I know my body, I know what this is. It's self to me several times and I just, I kept a good attitude about my oh, okay. It's time to ice and what am I gonna do? I'm gonna walk for an hour. Okay. It's fine. You know, and that was it.
Oh, it's gone again. Yay. I can run. You know what I mean? So I just went with it and dealt with it. I didn't let it become like, oh my God, I can't run anymore. You know? And that's kind of what happened in 2019. Like I couldn't, I was just so emotional about everything and I couldn't get grips on anything and there was nothing wrong with my body.
Like, I mean, I could, I could run. It was, it was mental. You know, when you get a mental blocker in your head, like it, that really is the worst thing. You know, it's the worst thing to prevent you from, you know, moving forward.
Bertrand Newson: [00:53:55]
How many total laps?
Sandra Villines: [00:53:56]
I don't want to misquote, I, I want to say it was like 1500-something. Yeah. I, I lost track. I just, I just know the miles. It was like 4 22. And I remember hitting 400 on the top of day six, this time around. So it was like 1:00 AM on day six. And so in 2019, like I fought so hard to make 400.
Like I literally had less than two hours left and nine miles to go in 2019. And I remember having a peer say, you know, you can still make 400. I was like, God, dang it. So of course I kicked into high gear and I'm like running as fast as I could around that track.
Like for the last hour and a half, like hauling behind with my, you know, my leg, all inflamed. And at that point too, I also had a a stress fracture, but I worked so hard. I mean, I barely made 400 miles by the end of the race. And this time I hit hit 400 like 10 hours before the race was over.
So, I mean, to me, that was a huge win, you know, I took a long break after that and came back in and finished the race. But to me it was just like a huge, huge, huge improvement from the previous time that I was there.
Bertrand Newson: [00:55:08]
Well, congratulations. I mean, you know, that is just remarkable.
Kevin Chang: [00:55:14] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, averaging what, 70 miles a day. And I mean, that is, that's just, that's crazy. That's insane. That's amazing. That's amazing.
Ruuning Across the U.S. [00:55:26]
And I want to get to the Transcon because you know, obviously you, you set the female record for running across the U S so I mean, talk to us about, I guess the planning of it what we know that you were crewed by good friend of ours from the show.
So, I mean, I guess talk to us a little bit about the planning how you got started and, you know, it talks to us about the, the entire adventure.
Sandra Villines: [00:55:49]
Yeah. So the, the planning piece actually it changed a little bit, so I was supposed to have started my run in August. And then basically we kind of had to lost the team and the crew that was going to support kind of okay. What can I do now? And it, my coach at that time, Had said, oh, you gotta do this still.
Like you're, you know, so conditioned you're in the best shape of your life. Like I, you know, I've been training for that, for that run. And so long story short, you know, we put together, you know, a team and, you know, joy. And Jay and I had met them on my run across California. I ran from missions in Santa Barbara to San Jose in January as like a trial.
It was like 3, 350 BC. It was a trial to see how I would do in a stage style type of race. I met them. I'd met them there. Yeah. I'd met Joyce there. She had come out as a part of the Tri-Valley running group that came to support me. They came out and they ran with me and basically just, you know, try to keep my spirits up and stuff.
And that's how I met joy. So basically I became, you know, friends with Joyce. We did some other projects together. And her brother, Jay. Actually was our driver for the speed project, which we did two years. And he was just a phenomenal crew and eight person. We all became, you know, good friends.
We did a lot of, you know, just practice runs together, Jay Joyce and I, and so I was, they were very on in the know and what was going on with like what I wanted to accomplish and, and so forth. So they became a part of my crew that second time. Jay was the actual driver of it was we call it the clown car.
You know, I mean, yeah, that's yeah, the, the vehicle that we used for that with a Toyota I don't know. I think of the name of it, some other little compact vehicle, it was, it was like a clown car, basically. And, and Joyce was, you know, behind the scenes navigator as far as like, you know, trying to make sure I had, you know, people respond to me, we had, you know, a lot of really great companies and people that helped.
And she was a lot of that behind the scenes doing that. She did my social media for me. She made a surprise visit at the end and basically, you know, saw me finish and help crew me to the end. So they huge, huge, huge part of, of of the crew. But then my crew was virtually pretty small.
So it was basically on the road, it was Jay and then cinder Wolf who was also the crew chief for Pete's run across America. So it was Jay and me on the road and cinder in the vehicle and the RV. And she would basically drive ahead and find a spot, you know, and I would do two runs a day.
So to answer your question about the planning, it was pretty short and quick, like all of a sudden it was like, I don't have anybody. Okay. Boom. All of a sudden, now I've got cinder, I've got Jay, we're going to do what we can do, you know, because I really wanted to go and we didn't have a ton of money. We had, you know, a small amount. And so basically cinder was also doing fundraising.
You know, by the time we got halfway, you know, it was like, okay, now I can start fundraising. People are seeing that you're actually, you know, oh, she's actually moving. She's like, she might just make it, you know, people were, I think intrigued by the whole idea that, you know, we went out there on a whim and a prayer and like the basically, you know, minimal funding, but we were like making it every day, you know?
And I, I always say we, because there's no way I could have done that by myself. I mean, Basically my brain kind of become like a marshmallow, like after a while, I couldn't think anymore, I couldn't make any decisions. And I really relied on them to tell me everything that I needed to do. Like, okay, you're going to run that way today.
You're on straight. You know, I mean, I basically, I got up every day, I put my clothes on, I had breakfast, got out of the RV and started running. Jay would say that way. Okay. And you know, and he would follow behind me, you know, and get me going.
But after a while it was like, you just, you can't think anymore, you know, it was just, it became a point where I'm just, it's two runs a day, run to lunch, lunch, break marathon after lunch, dinner, sleep, get up and do it again.
And that's kind of when I think I developed the power of like staring straight ahead, sighting things in the distance, or I wonder how far that, you know, Jay and I would play a game of it. How far do you think those silos are? Oh, I don't know. And then I, you know, I would listen to my watch tick off miles and I would count them.
And I'm like, you were wrong. That was floor, like four miles, not 12, you know? So, so we would play games, games out there like that, like just to, you know, just to make it more fun. But it, it,
Kevin Chang: [01:00:13]
And a record that stood for what? 30 years? I mean, maybe, maybe more.
Sandra Villines: [01:00:18]
30, let's say 30 years by Marvis Hutchens the woman from Africa and she had done the Southern route and I believe it took her 68 days.
Kevin Chang: [01:00:27]
And your route was longer distance wise,
Sandra Villines: [01:00:30]
My route was longer.
Kevin Chang: [01:00:31]
were trying to go.
Sandra Villines: [01:00:31]
My route was, it has more climbing in it. So there's like 11 mountain passes that I had to climb over before we even got to Utah or out of Utah. I mean like anywhere from 7,000 feet to 9,000, 10,000 feet, each climb was. So it wasn't an easy route. Of course, you know, I wanted to do the harder one.
It's me. I like to do things the hard way. I don't want to do the Winker route. I got to do the hard route, so
Bertrand Newson: [01:00:59]
Sandra Villines: [01:01:00]
it's got to count. Right. So yeah. So 11 mountain passes the first three weeks were pretty much just like a lot of climbing. And then once we'd finally got out of all that and we hit the Midwest, it was like, you know, flat land or land.
So that was, I think kind of when it's almost like my body went through this, like we're training the first couple of weeks. Okay. Now we're going to like, just see how the training's going, you know? And then the last one. Kind of like the challenging part. So it was like hard, a little bit easier and then hard, because by the time we got to Pennsylvania, I'm climbing again and I hadn't climbed since the beginning.
And so it was like, who put these freaking Hills? I was like, so over the map, I was like, so over the mountains, I was like, ah, but yeah,
Kevin Chang: [01:01:49] And averaging what 57 miles a day is that kind?
Sandra Villines: [01:01:54]
Yeah, it was 57. And we started conservatively in the beginning. I think I was just doing like 54 to 50 to 55 miles going through.
Kevin Chang: [01:02:02]
Through the mountains.
Sandra Villines: [01:02:03]
Going through the, yeah, well, cause of course I'm hiking and power walking. A lot of that because it's, you know, the, the grade was like steep, you know. And getting through Yosemite so difficult because at the time we went through there and I'm sure it's probably the case all the time, but there was just a lot of people in like RVs.
And the RVs were like all over the road and lots of times on the road, there was no shoulder. And if I looked over, over, over over the road, I could see, you know, I'm going to fall. If I slip down here, you know, I mean, it was some scary point. And of course I can't get in the vehicle and get a ride to the other side, you know, it's like day, like, I'll wait for you on the other side, you know?
And he was always like, you know, telling me to be careful in him too. I didn't want him to fall off a cliff and into the, you know, tumbling, downhill. I mean, at that part, that part was pretty intense. I was very happy when we got out of there. It took a little bit.
Sometimes I would stand there and I was like, oh my God, how am I going to get through this? And I'd have to like, wait for the cars to stop and then just like, go for it and like run a half a mile as fast as I could. So I wouldn't die just to get through there. Those are, I mean, that stands out in my mind in the beginning because it was, it was just very challenging to get through there.### Shoes and Weather [01:03:24]
Bertrand Newson: [01:03:24]
Question. Did you stay in one brand of shoes to just stay in one type of model of shoes where you were you're sponsored by a shoe brand?
Sandra Villines: [01:03:31]
Yeah. I had only, only were Hoka. I'm very brand loyal. They were my my quiet sponsor for shoes. They gave me all the shoes that I needed. But like I said, they were kind of the silent sponsor. Yeah. As far as shoes go. So yeah. And to this day I'm loyal. They're like my favorite, I won't sweat.
Kevin Chang: [01:03:48]
Any how, how was the weather throughout your trip? Any, any times that you hit any, anything on it?
Sandra Villines: [01:03:55]
Oh, I saw it all. I saw it all. Let me tell you
Bertrand Newson: [01:04:00]
Sandra Villines: [01:04:01]
I've seen it all. Like there was nothing that I haven't run through from the desert heat. I, it was like super hot going through Nevada. Like we were, I seen every, you know, it was like being at Badwater. It was wicked hot. And then, you know, we went through a blizzard, you know, we hit the end of Nevada and going into Utah, Colorado, we, we hit snow.
So yeah, we actually had to wear snow cleats because at one point we were coming into the resort where revenues passes and it was rainy and it was like very icy cold. And there was a fear that we were going to get stuck there because there was this big storm coming.
So, you know, it was kinda like Sandra, you're going to have to push another run out and I didn't want to run. I think the wheels fell off that day and I was like, I didn't want to run anymore. I'd already run 50 something miles, but basically ate dinner, got changed.
And you know, out, we went again and basically in a storm blizzard storm, over rabbit ears pass, you know, there was a, those big things that come out there and clear the road with the snow, you know, out there was just me and Jay and the plow, you know, and then the crew vehicle, because we didn't want to get stuck because there was a chance that, you know, I would lose a day if we get stuck and we can't move, then we're going to be stuck here.
You know? So yeah, I was, I didn't, I didn't want to, I did not want you, I'm pretty sure cinder had to push me out of the RV cause I did not want to go. Yeah, I can laugh now, but I was not laughing then, but yeah, we went out, we did like another thing, 22 miles. I did, I think 70 miles that day, because just to get up and over, you know, we would have lost time, but I thought everything.
So that desert heat to the blizzard pouring rain. Oh, well I think by the time we'd got to Ohio yeah, and it was on this road that I was running and every semi that passed me, like with splash me, I was like, just, I just gave up at as far as like trying to like just, it just was going to just keep happening over and over again.
But we, we changed shoes out, I think like every few hours. So I wouldn't get like trench foot or something. And I think by the end of the day, we had like gone through like all 12 pairs of my shoes. Like cinder had them all drawing with the souls out for the next day. Cause it was so wet.
So to this day I hate running in, I won't I'm like there is nothing I need to prove by running in the rain. I did that more than my fair share. 15 hours of running in the rain from a, how many days? Like, no I'm good.
So yeah, that high winds, we went to Nebraska and it was so windy. Every time I tried to move forward, I just remember like, feeling like it pushed, it would push me around. Like I couldn't, like I was fighting with the wind.
I've definitely experienced you name it. I've dealt with it.
Kevin Chang: [01:06:56]
Bertrand Newson: [01:06:57]
And was there ever a point where adversity reared its head and you thought, you know what? I may not be able to complete it.
Sandra Villines: [01:07:04]
I think there was a time when I said I do not want to do that. Which is a huge difference. And I think it was right around those rainy days, because I was just, I was like, I felt defeated. Like every time something like a truck would drive by and splashed me, I just basically felt like it was pushing me back.
Like I'm never going to get there. And mentally, I was like, I don't want to do this anymore. I don't think I ever felt like I couldn't, because even on the days when it was, I was struggling more than others and maybe not moving as well as I, I could have. I always kept my nutrition up.
Because in the back of my mind, I knew you're going to pass. This is going to pass. This is going to pass. You have to keep in with something like that. You have to keep your nutrition up.
Like, I didn't want to eat anything else, but I knew that if I didn't later on when I wanted to move, I wasn't going to have, you know, the energy to do it. So. The entire time. I was like mentally knowing that I, and, you know, I would be crying and dad would be like, you need to, you're like, okay, you know what?
I would eat whatever, you know, he was giving me, you know, just cause I knew I already knew, but that one time I remember, or I was like, I don't want to do this anymore. You know? And we just took like a hard break. Cause I was like, mentally, like I can't deal with this rain. Like I can't deal with this water.
I feel defeated. I just, it was mentally like, I think the wheels were falling off for me there.
The Final Day [01:08:32]
Bertrand Newson: [01:08:32]
And how was the final day? How many miles did you have to get to the, to the, the end point and soak it all up?
Sandra Villines: [01:08:40]
So by the time we had got to Pennsylvania, the other thing was mentally for me. Like I didn't, I didn't want to have a cap on a number of how many miles I was doing every day. Because at that point I become. Find a happy reason to run today because I didn't want to do it anymore. It was like very mentally hard.
So it became like, okay, I'm going to run today. I'm going to look around a little more. I'm going to appreciate what's around me. I'm going to enjoy my run. And they stopped telling me how many miles we were. You know, I didn't look at my watch and look at my watch. I would take the numbers off my watch. I would show it to him and they would just keep track that way.
Like I had a rough idea, but I wasn't keeping track anymore. But we came to this point where they were like Sandra, we need to have a talk with you. We know you don't want to talk about it, but we're coming to a point where we need to plan for like finishing. And I was like, okay. And I remember Sandra told me, do you want me to tell you how far away you are?
I was like, okay. She's like, you are exactly 135 miles from the finish. So 135, you know what, that signifies, you got one Badwater and you'll be done. Yeah.
So basically it was. Choice for me. Do I want to push to the end here and be done or do I want to take a chance and take another break and, you know, do two more days, which in the end it actually ended up, I think ended up probably would have been the same, but the idea of just to keep moving as much as possible ended up being the option that I took.
So I slept didn't that night. Not that day. Yeah. And I, okay. One last race here. We got Badwaters. So mentally that's what I was like. Okay. And we would do 20 miles at a time and then take a break. And that's basically how it went. And so as we crossed into New Jersey, I was like, oh, okay. We're getting so much closer.
And then I think by the time we were maybe like less than 40 miles away, like I was just so over it I'm like, I can't do this anymore. Like, I'm pretty sure I laid down on the ground somewhere and just like cried.
Cause I was just so tired and so over it, and literally that was, I think the last 20 or 30 miles, you know, Seemed like an eternity in pretty much, you know, I walked that all in, but yeah, I think what really, when it starts to set in, when we were seeing the license plates to New York city, I just like, I couldn't believe it.
I think the shock of like, we're actually crossing into New York. Like I couldn't kind of wrap my hands around that. Like I couldn't believe it. I kept looking at my feet. Like, did I really get here with my feet? I'm like the entire way I, it was, it was shock. I'm pretty sure I was in shock for awhile. I don't even know how to describe it.
You know, I think about, I still just like, I can't believe, you know, I have to go back and look at pictures. Cause I can't believe that I, you know, was able to do that with my, with my legs and my body.
Proudest Moment [01:11:32]
Bertrand Newson: [01:11:32]
Was that your proudest moment, Sandy, as an athlete,
Sandra Villines: [01:11:36]
I think so. I, anytime I do anything, that's hard to me. I'm just, I feel so proud, but to be able to say that I've done that. And to me, I guess, to be able to, to kind of leave that legacy for my grandkids, to me, just like, it means the world to me, you know, and to inspire, you know, people around the world.
And just see somebody so ordinary, you know, do something like that, which is the belief that I'm going to do it no matter what course with the help and support of, you know, people that believed in me too, otherwise it wouldn't have been possible, but
Bertrand Newson: [01:12:11]
when you have grandkids or do you have grandkids?
Sandra Villines: [01:12:13]
I do have grandkids.
Bertrand Newson: [01:12:15]
Sandra Villines: [01:12:19]
Oh my babies. Yeah.
Bertrand Newson: [01:12:21]
Sandra Villines: [01:12:23]
My grandson is three and my granddaughter is a year. She didn't exist at the time, but my grandson was just about to be born, so.
Bertrand Newson: [01:12:32]
how many grandkids can say that my grandmother is wonder woman?
Sandra Villines: [01:12:37]
Bertrand Newson: [01:12:37]
great stuff. And you know, we're talking about, you know, women in endurance sports, and you got into it you know, in 2014, you, you won Badwater 2017. You know, you've done the dome event twice, you know, 400 miles and then 420 plus.
Women's Performance on Western States [01:12:54]
What are your thoughts on Western states 2021, and how well women performed in that event? Overall very tough conditions. And I think we had, what three women in the top 10 over all.
Sandra Villines: [01:13:06]
Yeah, that's that's I look at that race and I'm in awe of those of those those athletes that to me, it looks right. That's a whole different kind of beast. I have so much respect for the,
Bertrand Newson: [01:13:20]
miles though. It's only a hundred
Sandra Villines: [01:13:22]
for the athletes that do that racy AB, but that that's some pretty intense. Terrain and conditions and that's yeah, I just sit back and I'm in awe and just to see the women's performances with outstanding, outstanding, and like, I draw inspiration from, you know, from things like that.
Like, it's just, it's awesome to see, you know, women doing so well in endurance sports. Like it's amazing.
Past and Present of Endurance [01:13:47]
Bertrand Newson: [01:13:47]
Okay. And what have you seen in your, I mean, some would say relatively short time being an endurance athlete and what you've seen, some of the biggest changes, even that from nutrition, gear and shoes or just other things from your perception.
Sandra Villines: [01:14:01]
You mean just in general, like the evolvement of those types of things. I feel like, and I don't know if it was always there and I just wasn't knowledgeable about it. Just, I feel like there's a lot of there's a lot of options and choices and things when it comes to, you know, nutrition or, you know, even, you know, shoes and gear that, you know, help support runners these days.
I guess I'm just pretty old school. I use the same old, hard water bottles the same pack I've had probably for about, you know, the whole time I've been. You know, I, I don't know if it works. I, I believe you don't need anything fancy, you know, it's about the athlete inside and you know what you put on the table, you don't need a bunch of fancy gear to, to set forth on whatever you're trying to accomplish.
The Running Community [01:14:44]
Kevin Chang: [01:14:44]
Talk to us a little bit about the, the running community. Have you met any of these people that you looked up to over the years? Any, any good stories from, from, I guess you're at here years on kind of the circuit and running these incredible events.
Sandra Villines: [01:14:58]
Yeah. So I actually got to meet Dean at that marathon. He was at the pre-race, you know, type of packet pickup thing. And I remember just being like, wow, I was star struck, you know, but then that wasn't my first encounter with him. I I saw him again, it was like 2018. It was 18 at a book signing his, his second book or third book had come out the road to spar Teflon.
And he was at a book signing club in San Ramon, and I was determined. Find it, if I want him to sign my book and I wanted to see him again and just like, you know, tell him, look what I've been doing, you know, so, so proud. Right. So proud. I wanted to like, show him like, look what I've been doing. And and he remembered me, which I think it was so cool. You know, we took a picture.
And so it's, it's so interesting to think that when you talk to somebody like that, though, they're just, they're like, you know, they're just so down to earth, you know, at least with the people that I've met, like Dean for example, and was just, it was like talking to an old friend, you know, very approachable, you know, very comforting, very, you know, positive.
So, I mean, that was like a great experience. And he actually came to my first day when I took off and San Francisco they had arranged for him to show up and see me off. Which I thought was like, amazing. Cause I was not expecting that. And there he was, and he had just completed some race. And so the poor guy I got out of bed and we left at like, I think like six, so he'd have to get up super early and drive down to the city hall and grace us with his presence.
But I was just like, wow. I mean, that just kinda like made me super happy and motivated to like do this. Right. So yeah, meeting him was, was pretty awesome.
Kevin Chang: [01:16:43]
And how incredible, right? I mean, he was one of the first inspirations you mentioned as that very first half marathon, you know, you just reading about his exploits kind of showed you what the boundaries of what boundaries might be. There are more boundaries he might be able to push through and now, you know, hopefully somebody listening to this podcast, you will inspire them.
They will find new boundaries for themselves. And so, I mean, that's so incredible. That life cycle can continue, that you can continue to inspire other people through your endeavors through, through what you're doing. I just, yeah, I get choked up just thinking about it, like, you know, that, that next generation, so.
Next Goals and Plans [01:17:23]
I mean, tell us, tell us a little bit about, are you training for anything right now? Is it, or do you have any goals going on?
Sandra Villines: [01:17:30]
When I finished the trans con, like I mentioned, it was pretty much in a shock for a while. I physically like my body hurt for a long time. Like my bones ached. And I had like, these nightmares about running my legs were still moving. I, it was, it was a really bizarre and I didn't really want to talk about it.
So I was kind of in a weird place for a while. And I, you know, I probably didn't take off as much time as I needed to. So. You know, started running again a few months later and kind of pushed myself into it. But mentally I just wasn't there. And I was doing like these hundred milers and different things and I w my heart wasn't in it.
I was doing it cause I felt like I needed to be doing it. And I wasn't doing it for the right reasons, but didn't really have any, any goals. I was just like taking off a hundred milers just to do them. And I'm like, yeah, I wasn't feeling it. So it, honestly, it's taken a long time to openly talk about my experiences and share it and feel like in a better place.
Probably the best I felt this last, you know, eight months or so since then, where I feel more myself, but I'm, I'm leaning towards the multi-day circuit. I feel like that's where I'm hungry to see what other gains I can get. Definitely excited to see what other mileage I can get under my belt. So I'm thinking maybe across the years, this year maybe hungry next year.
They have a six day event, so yeah.
Kevin Chang: [01:18:49]
Well, and I mean, it's so relatable, you know, like so many, so many of us runners, we accomplish a goal, whether that be a half marathon or a marathon. And then, you know, we, we kind of take a break from it.
We realized that, you know, what drove us into that events, maybe that hunger isn't quite there anymore, and then refinding and rekindling that motivation, you know, even a couple of months later, a year later, I mean, I think so many of us can really relate to that and, and that story.
And so, you know, being open and honest and sharing that story with us, I think is so helpful to so many of us because Yeah. we talked to a lot of our. Trying to find your motivation. Again, myself included, you know, especially with the whole pandemic and stuff, you know, trying to refine to rekindle some of that love and that, that passion.
So that's incredible. I love that, that you're sharing that with us. You know, it just makes you all the more relatable and all the more inspiring for our audience. ### On Social Media [01:19:42]
Tell us where our audience can find you online. I know that you have a Strava profile and potentially some other places. So if our audience has questions or wants to reach out work.
Sandra Villines: [01:19:53]
Yeah. So definitely on Strava, you can find me there Instagram the ultra grill. That's my handle or on Facebook. Those three avenues are great ways to reach me. I'm currently working on creating my own coaching plans to work with people I've been doing it on the side and definitely just, just to help people.
Cause I, I really just want to see people accomplish their dreams and, and that's what means a lot to me is really helping people. So I'm working on that right now. So hopefully more to come on that soon when my daughter's working on a logo right now. So.
Kevin Chang: [01:20:27]
Awesome. Yeah. And we'll definitely want to include it on RaceMob because, you know, I think so many of our athletes are looking for. Different plans, things that will help them reach their goals. And so we'd love to yeah. Work with you as you, as you come out with those plans and, and make sure that they're available to our audience.
Well, just wanted to say thank you so much for joining us this morning on this podcast. I mean, just such an inspiration. I know. I, I learned so much and you know, yeah, no excuses on running my next 10 K right.
Bertrand Newson: [01:20:55]
Sandra Villines: [01:20:56]
excuses. Kevin, not a one, sir. Are you on Strava?
Kevin Chang: [01:21:04]
I am, I am. Yeah. Yeah. So every, occasionally you'll see a couple of runs pop up in there,
Bertrand Newson: [01:21:10]
I haven't excused because I have a broken foot right now. So I'm coming back.
Sandra Villines: [01:21:13]
Kevin Chang: [01:21:14]
Well, we'll come back.
Sandra Villines: [01:21:15]
through that. She got to heal up.
Bertrand Newson: [01:21:16]
And I don't, Hey, you ran through energy though,
Sandra Villines: [01:21:19]
I did. I did.
Bertrand Newson: [01:21:21]
Yep. So what you'd like to say and you know, your body you know, when to pull back and, you know, to walk through it, and there's some times when, you know, you just need to pivot and say, you know what I need to, in my case, it was obvious that I needed to get some medical attention and I did and been on, you know, recovery for the last two months.
And we'll be back at it, hopefully at some point in August. So. Prognosis is good. So, and thanks for the inspiration, wonderful stories. Thank you for the time.
And we know that there's still big things in store for you. And as Kevin said, we'd welcome the opportunity for our audience to learn more about how they can learn from you from a coaching perspective, Kevin is the wizard of helping coaches optimize their business.
He did that with me and his work with several others as well. So there might be some opportunities in the future, just putting it out there, but again, thank you for your time.
Sandra Villines: [01:22:07]
Awesome. Well, thank you guys for, I appreciate the invite.
Episode Outro [01:22:11]
Kevin Chang: [01:22:11]
Well, I hope you enjoyed this episode of the RaceMob podcast. Check out all of the show notes or find a running buddy online at RaceMob dot com.
Please subscribe to us on apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts and leave us a review until next time. Keep on moving.