Perseverance is spelled with an I for Imma

Perseverance is spelled with an I for Imma

The seventh edition of the Vertical dels Isards, a vertical race organized by the Soldeu Esquí Club and the second qualifying round for the World Championship of Mountain Races in Andorra, was held in early June. The winner of the female category was our colleague from the Encamp office, Imma Parrilla, who finished the race in 46 minutes and 47 seconds, three minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.

We talked with Imma about how she organizes her day-to-day life, and what she does to find a balance between work, sports, and family.

1. You made headlines in the Andorran media for being the winner in the women’s category in the Vertical dels Isards vertical race. The long-distance course was 4,850 meters long with 943 meters of vertical gain. What was the race like for you and what was your strategy ahead of the challenge?

I ran the race last year so I was already familiar with the course. It’s extremely “vertical”, since you start in the town of Canillo and finish on the peak of Llempo. It was really competitive, since I had the second female competitor right on my heels. So I had to keep up a solid pace from the start!
The verticals are pretty brutal from the get-go: a lot of elevation gain in a short distance. I personally enjoy longer-distance trail races much more.

2. What’s your weekly training like?

I go running in the mountains or ride my road bike every day that I can. I also ski in the winter. I take it week by week and it depends on the time available.

3. How do you organize your schedule so that you have time to train, a life outside work, and take care of your domestic/family responsibilities? You have to be extremely disciplined and methodical…

The key is to take advantage of any free time. Like you say, things get complicated between work, my daughter, and home. I always keep the backpack in the car and I take advantage of any free time I have. That’s usually midday, and in the morning before work or in the afternoon when I can; it varies from day to day.

4. What’s your pre-race routine?

I usually make sure that I have everything that I’ll bring with me ready, like clothes, shoes, and food, and I try to rest and go to bed early.

5. Are you really careful with what you eat?

I’ve always eaten healthy because I truly enjoy it and it’s not a sacrifice for me. When I’m training for a race I try not to eat too many sweets, because I’ve got a soft spot for chocolate and ice cream!

6. How did your love of mountain races start?

It was because of a housemate: my friend, Alex Pau. He asked me to participate in a company race with him and a few other colleagues and that’s how I got to where I am today. I ran the Desman for a few years with Alex, Jordi Carbone, Jose Lameiro, Josep Lluch, Oscar Aristot, and others. I have great memories of race days with them.

7. What is your most memorable race?

I ran the Ultra Mític d’Andorra (110 km) in July 2016. It’s an extremely tough race with a lot of elevation gain. But making it to Comapedrosa at night and having the satisfaction of crossing the finish line after so many hours of effort is priceless.

8. Any memory or anecdote in particular that you want to share?

Food didn’t settle well during my first long-distance race (the 80 km Matagalls Montserrat) and I had to make a “pit stop” during the final push before arriving at the Monastery. I cried from emotion when I crossed the finish line. Thanks to my race partners, because I wouldn’t have made it to the top otherwise, for sure!

9. Mentally, how do you manage exhaustion or pain in the middle of a race?

I try to dominate the suffering and agony during short races by visualizing the goal. In longer races, exhaustion is already a part of it, and you start to get into your head. If you think about what you are doing many times you end up repeating to yourself: “What the hell am I doing here?!?”
But the satisfaction is so great when you cross the finish line that you immediately forget the pain and want to do it again!

10. Does this physical and mental training help you in your work at MoraBanc?

Yes, of course! Determination, perseverance, personal growth and motivation are values that are part of the race as well as everything you do on a daily bases: work, personal life…
Our work requires these values of a spirit of improvement, enthusiasm, motivation, perseverance and effort to do things better.

11. Any races coming up?

I’m going to run the Andorra Cup again, because the event includes all kinds of races and you run into your race partners, which is always a pleasure. The atmosphere is great, you get to enjoy our mountains, and there’s something for everyone. Everyone competes at their level. I recommend them. I am also running the Circuito FER, mountain races in Catalonia. These races are close to home and also offer a range of really fantastic courses.

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