The Mirnavator Comes to Vermont: Q&A with Ultra Runner Mirna Valerio

Mirna Valeria wearing darn tough socks and smiling from the trail

Ultra-runner, public speaker, mother, force of nature – Mirna Valerio inspires us. If you haven’t heard her story, check it out. We were pumped when she moved to Vermont a few years back and decided to get her thoughts on the move, running, and a few more random questions.

What prompted you to move to Vermont?

Every time I came to the Green Mountain State, whether it was for a professional development workshop in St. Johnsbury, the Catamount Ultra in Stowe, or training to lead a student travel program in Brattleboro, I became more and more enamored with all things green, dirt road, and humidity. I had never spent any time here in the winter, so I was game when a friend invited me up for a week-long winter adventure.

We snowshoed, we ran trails in the snow, we took a snowboard lesson, and ate incredible food. I found an apartment immediately (in Montpelier, which is where I reside today) and never looked back.

When you moved to Vermont, what was the strangest/most surprising thing to you?

Once, when walking on the sidewalk on Main Street in Montpelier, I moved aside so another walker could pass me, and I followed shortly thereafter. The man then turned around and invited me into conversation since we were both walking in the same direction. It was the sweetest, kindest gesture on a very cold day. He also showed me where the nearest wine shop was, so there was that too!

Mirna running down the road at sunrise

What’s your favorite run in Vermont?

It is definitely a two-mile loop in Stowe at Weissner Woods. It’s short, runnable, and rolling, and is spectacularly beautiful in all seasons, even MUD SEASON!

You feel like you’re in the backcountry but you’re just outside of town. I love parking my car and running loops here. Also, if I need more varied terrain I could just head up the Catamount trail and link to many other trails!

Have you had a maple creemee yet?

It actually took me two years to even taste my first cremee and I am HOOKED. Especially when it’s covered in magic dust AKA maple crystals! Best post run/hike treat ever!

On a scale of 1 to 10, how fully would you say you’ve embraced the Vermont lifestyle?

Oh, I’m definitely around an 8!

I don’t do naked bike rides, and I don’t go pond skimming during spring ski season. But I do go outside in ALL KINDS OF WEATHER and ALL TEMPS including the negative ones!

I also turn my heat on AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. That’s a little of my NYC coming out…

Mirna seated on steps wearing darn tough socks

Vermont winters get darn cold. What are your thoughts on sleeping with your socks on?

This is a good question and might even lead to a big polemic.

I am team-start-with-your-socks-ON, get that thermoregulation going, and then gently push them off and lose them in your sheets and blankets!

Your feet help signal when it’s time for your body to sleep so if they’re too warm or too cold it will be tough to fall asleep. This is where the magic of Darn Tough Vermont Socks comes in. Your feet will be perfectly situated to get a good night’s sleep!

And yes, I’ve been reading books about this….

Besides your feet in socks, what else in your life is incredibly comfortable?

My L.L.Bean Ultra Plush Sateen Primaloft blanket. Because it is the softest thing known to humankind.

My adjustable bed.

I sense a theme here.

At what point did you realize that you may never need to buy another sock pair ever again?

When I put on the Stride Micro Crew Sock for the first time, and every time since. Light, thin, it’s such a useful tool for trail running.

Closeup of Mirna's feet trail running wearing black Stride Micro Crew socks for running

Also, I always take time to consider which socks I’m wearing on the airplane since I am on the road almost full-time. Am I feeling quirky or flowery today? Is it a stripes or hare and tortoise kind of day? Am I in a no-nonsense/don’t-talk-to-me/there’s-a-reason-my-Airpods-are-in-my-ears kind of mood, is it a yes-please-ask-about-the-fox-on-my-sock kind of day?

What are your thoughts on the number of stripes a sock has relative to how fast it is?

The fewer stripes — the faster. OBVIOUSLY.

Do you have any quirky running habits?

If I'm doing an out and back, I HAVE to tag something at the turn-around point. I might even talk loudly to myself.

What’s your favorite post-race meal and drink?

It will always be spaghetti and meat sauce with freshly shredded Locatelli Romano, and red wine, preferably a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. 2 glasses. Very specific, but don’t give me anything else.

Mirna smiling and posing with a tree

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

This is easy. A Sourwood tree. I’m obsessed with this tree’s honey. It is amber colored and caramelly with a lovely finish. It sells out very quickly. The tree can only grow in absolutely healthy soil. Its leaves are the first to signal autumn. She is incredible.

What’s your favorite pizza topping?

  1. NONE
  2. Fennel sausage.
  3. Only from Brooklyn. Or Woodbelly.

What’s your favorite sport to cheer for?

Gymnastics. I once had an unhealthy obsession with Nadia Coamaneci in the mid-eighties. I hurt myself more than once doing “floor routines” on the concrete sidewalk and “balance beam routines” on the iron railing. I live to tell the stories.

If you were a sock, would you rather be worn on the right foot or left foot?

I would rather be worn on the left. The left is always forgotten, and I would want to support her poor lonely heart.

Cushion or no cushion in your socks?

The thinnest cushion possible, but yes, cushion!

Is the quarter sock a useful sock height? Explain.

The quarter socks are useful because you can slip quarters in them when you want to pay the parking meter for an unsuspecting soul. Genius.

What’s your all-time favorite sock?

Pacer Micro Crew for longer runs!

Two runners wearing the Pacer micro crew trail running socks

The song that best describes you.

Jill Scott’s Golden.

What’s your jam, the song that comes on and you have to dance? What socks are you wearing for maximum dance master status? 

Or do you mean THE SONG THAT I SING WITH A BOTTLE OF RED WINE AS MY MIC? Indigo Girls' ROMEO AND JULIET.

And this would mean that I am home, comfortable….I’m definitely wearing my Animal Haus crew socks, with joggers on.

Three words your best friend would use to describe you.

Reckless.

How many of the 50 states have you visited, and why is Vermont still your favorite?

Well, I mean, is it possible to love two states? My home state is New York, of course. My adopted state is Vermont. TWO THINGS CAN BE TRUE AT THE SAME TIME.

Although I did just buy property here so I LOVE IT SO MUCH I AM NOT GOING ANYWHERE.

What percentage of the day would you say you’re smiling? What keeps you stoked?

A good 70 percent of the day I am smiling, which is why my face hurts all the time.

Seeing my son thrive here in Vermont keeps me EXTRA stoked all the time!

Any advice for new runners who feel like they might die before the end of mile 1?

Take a walk-break, recover, and when you’re ready run again. Trust me, it works and you won’t die (in the first mile anyway!)

Two runners standing on mountain together

We love how you’ve embraced skiing. What sport or activity would you like to try next?

ICE-CLIMBING. But I probably need to get my indoor and regular climbing skills in check first!

You said one of your words for 2022 is frolic – how would you define frolic, and what are you hoping that looks like?  

Despite what Merriam Webster or the OED says, to frolic is to let go and let in the inner child through joyful movement. This is from the Lexicon of Mirna.

What can your mom cook better than anyone else?

Literally everything. But especially baked macaroni and cheese and sweet potato pie and collards and any other vegetable and baked chicken and yellow rice and pork chops and salisbury steak and… literally everything.


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