Alice Bernier leads the B group in Dusk Patrol, a weekly group run Thursday mornings EST on Zwift. Alice raced Boston marathon this year, qualified for the 2019 NYC Marathon and hopes to qualify to OCC ultra-trail Mont-Blanc one day.
Read on to find out more about Alice.
How did you get started in running?
I was working crazy hours at work, I wanted to perform well, I was building my career… and at some point my health got so bad that one day, while shopping, I fainted. I think that is where I decided to sign up to a gym! My first day with my trainer was epic, she gave me my first training program and I looked at it and said, ok cool, why is there no treadmill? She said “oh no, it’s not for you”, “you will do 15 minutes of elliptical for now”. So after a couple of weeks on the elliptical, I switched to the treadmill because I wanted more. I started to do 15 minutes of running… then 2.5km jog outside, then 5km jog/walk and eventually I was managed 5km without walking.
What encouraged you sign up for your first race?
Five years ago, I wanted to push myself a little more than just 5km and my cousin offered to run a race with me, a 10k, she really supported me. We signed up for the 10km at the Montreal Marathon. The race went really well, it sparked a passion for running.
If you could run with anyone in the world who would it be?
At the moment, I would not change my running partner for anyone! My boyfriend is the best partner I could have. We train together, we support each other and we are looking into racing together.
What is the most challenging part about training in Canada?
Here we have distinct seasons with extreme weather contrast; winter is obviously very cold, about -30 degrees Celsius and during summer it can go up to 30 degrees Celsius and can be very humid. During winter, when you are serious in your training, doing intervals on icy sidewalks or in 1 foot of snow is not ideal and can be dangerous. Also, for me, when it’s under -20 degrees Celsius my lungs compresses and gives me some kind of light asthma. So what I’m doing during the cold days, is run only once a week outside to do longer mileage only at a relaxed pace. It’s healthy to take some fresh air, but most of my trainings will be inside on treadmill or sometimes on the track. That way I can keep my speed during winter and have a good fitness for spring races.
How did you find Zwift?
I can’t recall which YouTube channel I was watching when I saw Zwift Run for the first time, but a youtuber was saying that Zwift was no longer for cyclists only; some people were spotted running on the course. That spiked my curiosity, I reached out for more information and that’s where I saw Zwift Run was free for runners. I signed up, ordered a foot pod to try it and never looked back.
What made you want to lead a group run on Zwift? Do you lead any other group runs besides Dusk Patrol.
In fact, I wanted to be a virtual bunny! Dusk Patrol is the only group run I’m leading at the moment. When I contacted Zwift through their website, I was put in touch with Jordan Maddocks, who founded Dusk Patrol. Jordan found the idea of having a B group at Dusk Patrol interesting and the pace he wanted me to run was a good fit, so we did that and it’s worked out well!
The experience of leading a group run has been very cool, I’ve made new friends and it helps motivate me to do a tempo run each week, which keeps my speed in check.
You raced Boston Marathon this year. What do you remember most from the event?
The Boston marathon was epic, not the weather I was expecting at all! Strong head winds, cold weather and rain… it was my first Boston and it was a tough race. There were so many memorable moments during my race, one of them was starting fast in the early part of the race and then regretting it later when I reached heartbreak hills. Another moment, I never felt before was my jelly hands, they were not able to grab my water bottles because of the cold around 30km+… But seeing that big blue arch was beautiful when turning onto Boylston street: I was so happy to arrive!!! The crowd was amazing too, even when it’s pouring rain. Even with the poor weather conditions, I managed to beat my personal best.
You’ve qualified for the 2019 TCS New York Marathon. How do you plan to prepare for this race?
I plan on working on my speed at the beginning of the year, I think I can push a little more speed for the marathon distance even if I’m not training like an elite athlete, who train 100km+ per week… I will train for NY the same way I did for Boston, which is very strategic since I work full time, sometimes more. I will do 14 weeks training for the marathon, with a least 50km volume per week minimum and only 4 weeks with high volume from 70 to 90km, BUT I will combine that with some cross training such as biking on Zwift and swimming 1 to 3 times a week depending on my energy level. 4 weeks prior the big race I will do a 30-35km long run. I might do some 5km and 10km race tests to push speed and try to beat my half marathon personnel best as well.
What inspires me about NYC marathon… it’s the biggest marathon in the world and it’s also challenging to qualify for it when you are not a pro. The course is interesting too, you get to cross 5 bridges and run into 5 boroughs: That’s just awesome.
A successful day at NYC TCS marathon would be to run a marathon at 100% of my current potential, to run it fully, if I have the chance to do that, it will be a success.
What is your inspiration for venturing off the roads and into trail races? You've mentioned OCC ultra-trail Mont-Blanc and Himalaya ultra as goals.
Yes lol… I like challenges and I’m not super good at trail running: I have a lot to learn. I also like running in nature and forests. I will perfect the marathon distance on the road before subscribing to my first ultra trail, I think. I did Canadaman Xtreme Triathlon 2018, I was the runner on a relay team, and it was really tough. 1500m of elevation gain on trails during 42.2km. My quad muscles were sore for 4 days afterwards. I need more trail running practice and experience. But doing an ultra trail race is definitely a goal for me in the future. Looking forward to it!
Join Alice every Thursday at Dusk Patrol on Zwift.