Plowed running trails in Truckee

Avian and her pup Beverly enjoying the Truckee River Legacy Trail, just west of the pedestrian bridge

The Truckee area has a variety of town-maintained trails for winter running. Plowed trails in Truckee include the Truckee River Legacy Trail (5 miles one-way), the Trout Creek Trail (1.5 miles one-way), the Brockway Road Trail (1 mile one-way), and Martis Dam Road (1.5 miles one-way). In nearby Squaw Valley, we have 2.3 miles of paved trails.

Even after record-breaking snow, the Town of Truckee continues to maintain our trails

Truckee River Legacy Trail

The longest stretch of plowed trail is the popular Truckee River Legacy Trail, which connects Truckee Regional Park with Glenshire, five miles one-way. Free parking is available in the following locations:

1. near the Ice Skating Rink (10100 Brockway Road Truckee),

2. near the pedestrian bridge at the end of East River Street, downtown Truckee, and

3. in Glenshire, just before the Glenshire neighborhood on Glenshire Drive, approximately 4 miles east of Donner Pass Road.

Ridiculous amounts of snow on the Legacy Trail. But, the path remains plowed.
The Truckee River from the pedestrian bridge on East River Street, Downtown Truckee

Trout Creek Trail

The Trout Creek Trail connects Northwoods Boulevard near Coyote Moon Golf Course to Downtown Truckee at Bridge Street just north of Highway 80. This beautiful stretch of trail is approximately 1.5 miles one way, and also provides access to the trails leading to the Pioneer Center (not currently plowed all the way to Pioneer Center, but there is a foot path).  Free parking is available at the trailhead on the East side of Northwoods Boulevard, just north of Coyote Moon Golf Course. There is limited paid-parking at the Trout Creek Pocket Park on the north end of Bridge Street in downtown Truckee.

Make it longer: From the Pocket Park on Bridge Street, you can continue south on Bridge Street, cross the railroad tracks, turn left on East River Street, and cross the pedestrian bridge to access the Truckee Legacy Trail (it is about 1.2 miles from trailhead to trailhead). If you start at the parking area in Tahoe Donner and run out and back to Glenshire (or vice versa), you can get about 15 miles in.

Trout Creek Trail near Downtown Truckee
Trout Creek Trail, near trailhead at Northwoods Blvd

Brockway Road Trail

This shorter section (approx 1 mile) of plowed trail links Truckee Regional Park with The Rock (11253 Brockway Road). To make a 2.5 mile  loop, start in the Truckee Regional Park, head south on the Brockway Road Trail, turn left on Reynold Way (a residential street, so use caution here), turn left on Martis Drive, then turn right on Ranch Way to access the Legacy Trail under the 267 bypass. Turn left on the Legacy Trail to make your way back to Truckee Regional Park and complete the loop.

Martis Dam Road

Martis Dam Road (located in Martis Valley, less than 1 mile south of Schaffer Mill Road on Hwy 267) is closed to cars in the winter, and is currently plowed 1.5 miles one-way (they sometimes plow 2.25 miles one-way). This full-sun road has sweeping views of the Martis Valley, with Northstar to the south and the Sierra Crest to the west. Free parking is available on Martis Dam Road off of Hwy 267 before the gate.

Squaw Valley Bike Path

The bike path in Squaw Valley, with 2.3 miles of plowed trails, can be accessed from a couple locations during the winter:

  1. Free parking is available at the east end of the parking lot at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Note- the first ¼ mile from the resort to the start of the bike path is along the heavily-used Squaw Valley Road, so exercise caution here.
  2.  From the parking lot at the  Resort at Squaw Creek, 400 Squaw Creek Road, Olympic Valley.
Running under the Olympic rings in Squaw Valley
Squaw Valley Bike Path, obviously, not this season

Trails are plowed once after each storm, but some remain snow-covered and icy in places, so use caution. Have other plowed options for running to share? Please comment below!

Happiness on the Trout Creek Trail

Squallywood with the kids

My kids, Avian and Stephen, age 11, are currently taking a one-year sabbatical after being on ski team at Squaw since they were five. I am a beginner compared to them, but they still humor me once in awhile and agree to ski with me.  I love watching them on the hill- so carefree and happy. And I learned some of their tricks, including how to avoid long lift lines, how/where to get free cups of whipped cream (yes, full cups of whipped cream), how to make boring runs a lot more interesting, and I got some tips on how to improve my skiing.

Squaw One chair, much better than the funitel. Despite a full parking lot, we never stood in a line for more than 5 minutes.
Avian, who gave me tips for better posture and control
Stephen and Avian at Cupcake Island
Stephen taking a cookie break, with a prime seat by the fireplace
a new friend we met at the bar
Stephen and Avian patiently waiting for me. They both ditched their poles at the bottom for this run, which meant they were free to wave their arms through the air like they were swimming, among other tricks. 
Stephen next to the trail sign that is normally a lot taller than him
It might look like he’s wearing goggles, but they’re actually on the top of his helmet – he achieved his goal of not wearing goggles the entire sunny day. 
Avian and Stephen patiently waiting for me
Stephen having fun on Mountain Run
Avian right behind him
Stephen packed the snack bag for us- and surprised me at the end with a beer. Such a sweet (and smart) kid.


Postcards from Truckee

It was a near miss for me this morning – I ran while it was still dark, and the kids and I lollygagged a bit too long making breakfast and just barely missed (what I can only assume to be) a magnificent sunrise on the drive to school.

I’m in love with the tall snowbanks along our streets right now – I feel like a little kid driving or running around town. We used to have to drive up to Tahoe Donner to see snowbanks taller than the cars – not anymore.

Despite missing the sunrise, I still took some photos from our drive to work and school this morning. Because the views in Truckee are always pretty nice.

As we drove into downtown Truckee, the trees behind Commercial Row were glowing
the old Catholic Church
Flower sculpture near the new Rec Center
from High Street, looking Southwest
Train through downtown Truckee on a frosty (14 degrees) morning
I think it’s pretty awesome that the path to the Rocking Stone is shoveled
layer of fog below Mount Rose. Photo taken from the Rocking Stone on High Street
quiet morning in Downtown Truckee
My office is just below this picture
view from my office

Truckee in the snow-January 23, 2017

You know it’s bad when your sixth graders say “I hope it’s not another snow day tomorrow”

The record-breaking snow continues… Not sure how much we got last night, but I can tell you that my car wasn’t able to leave the driveway so I had to run to work. Wearing knee-high gaiters and spikes on my shoes, of course (the roads were somewhat plowed but I needed the gaiters to get out of my driveway). Today was Snow Day #10 for the kids…

We have no heat in our office (but the power works, so Mone’ brought us a space heater). My neighbor had to crawl out her window because the plow guy sprayed snow on her front deck and blocked her door from opening. I can’t find my mailbox.

It’s crazy here, but we love it. Here are some pics from my run to work this morning.

Hard to tell how deep the snow is, but my mailbox is gone and I’m not sure where to look exactly.
Car not going anywhere today. And there’s a big berm at end of driveway.
running to work on Palisades… cheering on the plow guys, who rock.
heading down Brockway Rd into old town Truckee – Cottonwood restaurant on the left.
Had to hold the camera over my head to see over the bridge to the Truckee River
Riverside Drive
Dark Horse Coffee on Riverside drive – note the massive berm blocking access to the main road (Bridge St)
Another hero plow driver on Bridge Street. Truckee Hotel behind.
Sidewalk downtown Truckee – in front of Bar of America
Squeeze Inn
Cooking Gallery
Spring Street and Jibboom Street
Corner of Spring and Donner Pass Road
CoffeeBar – like the benches carved out of the snow?
California 89 shop
sidewalk in front of Marg’s Taco
El Toro Bravo
Donner Pass Road in front of my office
Our office on the right
view from my office window


That’s Susie (co-worker) down by her car, on Donner Pass Road

And there we were, at work, huddled around the space heater. None of the HVAC people could get to us, so I called on a friend, and JP (Prince Electric) made a special trip over to fix the furnace. As the office began to heat up, the sun came out, and my run home was even more spectacular…

California 89 store again… this time a little more cheerful
stopped by the train depot to see how they were holding up
train coming into town with some crazy puffy clouds hiding Mt. Rose
Truckee River in its bluebird glory
Happy to see the sidewalk was plowed on Ponderosa
My neighbors’ house (the one who had to crawl out her window because the door was blocked)
our house. still no mailbox in sight.
My beautiful daughter baked me a cake while i was at work
And the grand finale… I just found the mailbox! And there was even mail in it!!

Winter Wonderland – Truckee

Scenes from the place I love…

Interested in a print? Contact me for pricing. 5304480144

Lucky 66.6 (or 67.8) on the PCT

The following is a photo essay from last weekend’s adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail.

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We set out at 4:15am from the Pacific Crest Trailhead near Boreal in Truckee, CA. The goal was to complete [what we thought would be] 60 miles of trail down to Hwy 50 in South Lake Tahoe. Our estimated time was 16-17 hours, with a worst-case scenario of 18 hours. Stacie Riddle, Kathy D’Onofrio and I happily chatted in the dark for two hours, before Kathy turned around at Mt. Lincoln. She had just finished the Tahoe 200 (2nd female!) less than two weeks earlier, and only joined us for the first part. Stacie and I continued on to witness a beautiful sunrise on the ridgeline between Mt. Lincoln and Anderson Peak.
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Stacie, who ran her first 100 mile race one week before, the Kodiak 100 (which was “easy”). I wasn’t sure if she’d be ready for this kind of mileage, until I peeked at her Strava account and saw she already put in over 70 miles Monday-Thursday. Um, yeah, she was ready.
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Stacie running towards Anderson Peak, with views of the ridge we would be on in about 20 miles in the distance. Best not to think too far ahead though.
Me, on the other side of Tinker’s Knob. No pics from the ridge because the winds were so insane.  Happy to be out of the cold in this pic.
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Dropping into Granite Chief Wilderness in Squaw
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Stacie climbing under the Granite Chief chairlift, with Lake Tahoe reflecting the morning sun
Stacie running South on the PCT on the backside of Alpine Meadows
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The ridgeline between Alpine Meadows and before Barker was spectacular. Every bend in the trail offered another sweeping, breathtaking view.
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More views of the ridgeline with Lake Tahoe in the background. This is still on the PCT, a few miles before it merges with the Tahoe Rim Trail.
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I was surprised at how beautiful the section between Alpine Meadows and Barker Pass is – it was one of my favorite parts. Which was good, because this is where we realized that it wasn’t only 30 miles from I-80 to Barker Pass, it was going to be more like 33.5. Foolishly, I initially thought this must mean we were more than halfway – and it was only 26.5 miles to Hwy 50. Um, No.
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Fall colors on the climb up to Barker Pass.
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Barker Pass views
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Fall colors in Tahoe on the PCT/TRT
At Barker Pass, about mile 33.5, we spent about 30 minutes hanging out with Helen Pelster, who ran the IMTUF 107 mile race the weekend prior (3rd female and 3rd fastest female time on the course). She brought my cooler with coke, water, and some food I had prepared before the run. Stacie and I were very happy to hear we had “beat” the boys, who started from the opposite end of our run, Hwy 50 in South Lake Tahoe. Sure, they started 2 hours before us, but we still thought they might beat us to the halfway point.
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Stacie and I leaving Barker Pass, over 9.5 hours into our run, ready for the 2nd half of our journey. Photo by Helen Pelster
We found the boys! Peter Fain and Paul Sweeney, who proclaimed it was a lot slower going from Hwy 50 to Barker than it was going South – it took them a full hour longer than a previous Barker-to-50 run on the trail. We took this as a good sign – we had it the easy way! Unfortunately, they also let us know that it was another 33.5 or so miles to Hwy 50 – yikes!  Just as we were heading down the trail, the boys said “oh yeah, about your car… it’s not parked at Echo Lake. Go up the PCT another mile, and after you cross this crazy raging river, head left, and you’ll see the car” – we were too happy and high on endorphins at this point to really understand what they were saying. Raging river? what? must be joking. Shortly after we left them, we saw Jesse Wifely, who would join Peter at Barker to continue on to I-80. The rest of the run, they were on my mind – where were they? How long would it take them? Were they home in bed before we finished?
The section from Barker Pass until the Meeks Bay turnoff was my least favorite. Too many trees and not enough grandiose views, in my opinion. It dragged on forever. And Stacie kept promising that any minute we would be out on the granite and back on the ridges – she lied. Here’s a boring lake that I stopped at to filter water.
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We finally passed the turnoff to Meeks Bay, and started seeing rocks instead of just trees. The terrain became significantly more beautiful.
Stacie had remembered a lake near the trail – we were just about out of water, but passed by a couple streams anticipating the lake. We then found ourselves high above the lake we thought we needed, so we had to add an out and back, down and up, to our route.
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We saw several people camping here – preparing dinner, drinking wine, hanging out in warm puffy jackets. I was kind of dying inside, knowing that we still had 25 ish miles to go, and the going was starting to get tough.

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Filling our bottles with the Sawyer Mini filter. There was plenty of water to make it with about 2L carrying capacity and filtering more along the way.
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The miles became harder as we headed further into Desolation Wilderness

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The lakes in Desolation are over the top incredible.
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Stacie heading into the sunset
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Sunset over Emerald Bay
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I felt pretty grateful to see both the sunrise and the sunset from the PCT in one day. I wasn’t feeling especially grateful that we still had 20 miles to go.
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After about the 20th time I asked; Yes, we were finally heading up towards Dick’s Pass
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Dick’s Lake. Just before we reached the high point of Dick’s Pass, it became dark enough to get out our headlamps and put the warmer layers back on. It felt kind of crazy to start out the day running in 30 degree weather, then have it warm up to 80 degrees, and then drop back down to the 30s at night. Such is fall in Tahoe.
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Stacie coming down from Dick’s Pass into the darkness. As the miles barely crept by, it became exceedingly difficult not to get discouraged and negative. My watch stopped when we hit 17 hours and 56.9 miles. At the least, we had 10 miles to go, which could take 5 more hours at this pace.  An hour passed and I asked Stacie how far we’d gone now and she said 58.5 miles. Typically I never sit down during long runs, but now, I started sitting each time we stopped. Why not? We were barely moving. We might just fall asleep and die out here. I thought about how I only had 250 calories left for 4-5 hours. I reassured myself that I had plenty of reserves to survive, to settle the panic.
As much as I was ready to be done (for the last 6 hours I was ready to be done), I still appreciated the beauty of the trail at night, and was entertained by the little illusions and tricks my eyes were playing on me. At one point, I had sat down to filter water and told Stacie to go ahead. As I jogged to catch up to her, I suddenly stopped, terrified at the cliff I was about to jut out on. I yelled “Stacie!! Stacie!!” There was no f-ing way I was going out on the edge of a cliff at this hour, feeling this crappy. I stopped. I’m going the other way. Just as I started back on the trail in the opposite direction I shined my light over the cliff (against my better judgement) and realized it was just a pond. There was no cliff. It was the blackness of a little lake that looked like a dropoff. I nervously laughed and caught up to Stacie. I can’t believe I had almost turned around and ran the wrong direction. I wanted to cry when I saw her.
I had no idea how freaking L-O-N-G the trail was between Echo Lake and Lake Aloha. “5 miles” does not do it justice. The sign should instead say,  “2 hours of HELL”. One of our favorite parts was seeing the sign that said we were “Now Leaving Desolation Wilderness” Thank F-ing God. Along the way, we had been so excited to get to freaking Echo Lake. Now that we were here, we wondered out loud why in the hell did the boys park my car another mile up the trail, and not in one of these perfectly good, comfortable and happy parking lots near Echo Lake? We begrudgingly started UP the trail from the parking lot towards Hwy 50.
After what seemed like forever, around 1:00AM, we finally heard the sounds of the river the boys had mentioned. It sounded like Niagara Falls. We got to the bank of the river and our conversation contained a lot of “What the fuck were they thinking?? There is no way we are going to get across this thing! WTF!?” I finally decided we should get some big sticks to self-arrest in case we were swept down. I told my plan to Stacie and she said “no way am I getting in that water, I’m crossing the log”. I looked up the river at the log perched about 5-6 feet above the raging river. I felt like I was in Bridge to Terabithia. I volunteered to go first – because the only thing worse than falling yourself is watching your friend fall. I had to be brave (totally against my nature here). I crossed with faked confidence. Then I had to watch Stacie cross – completely gripped. When she made it we hugged and yelped. We then wandered through the forest, a little neighborhood, and right around 1:15am when I was about to dial Peter and ask “where the f is my car” we saw it. It was the happiest moment of my life. (that I remember anyway).
We made it!! 21 f-ing hours!! Stacie’s watch and phone combo came up with 66.6 miles. Mine added up to 67.8. I’ll call it 68.
My feet felt like I’d just run 100 miles. In many ways, this effort was much harder than any 100 mile race I had run. During races, you go from aid station to aid station, with at most, 6-8 miles in between. There are other runners and camaraderie on the trail. Out here, it was just Stacie and I, and a smattering of hikers cozy in their tents, not offering us a beer or anything. On the 90 minute drive back to Truckee, while eating BBQ chips and drinking full-fat chocolate milk,  we discussed our adventure. We both agreed this was the “most epic thing” we had ever done. During the run, 20 hours earlier, we had laughed about someone using that term – now we had a legit use for it. We had done it. 68 (or whatever) miles in one day. And we decided we were glad the boys made us cross that fucking raging river at the finish. It just added to the adventure.
The first section, Hwy 80 to just under Dick’s Pass. Hours 1-17, 56.9 miles
Hours 17-21. Darkness. Despair. and ultimately… Joy. 10.9 miles

We later (Sunday night) found out the boys had all stopped at Barker Pass. Even though they were capable of running the entire thing at least 7 HOURS faster than us, on this particular day, considering we were the only ones who “finished”, we beat the boys. 😉

I’d like to thank Peter for putting this crazy idea into my head a few days ago, when I mentioned I wanted to do a 40 mile run somewhere (he said what’s 20 more?!), Stacie for being an amazingly fun and positive companion on the trail, Kathy for sharing the first 6 miles with us, Helen for being the best friend ever to give up most of her Saturday to cater to us at 7,700′, Julia for kicking ass at The Bear and then texting with me for company on my way down to Echo Lake (and celebrating with me on Sunday), and Lucas for the support throughout the endeavor from across the Atlantic. XO


Tahoe Rim Trail 100 2016

Thrilled to have my sister Lynette (aka Net or Netty) fly out from Michigan to crew for me at the 2016 Tahoe Rim Trail 100, I excitedly drove my “new” 1983 VW Westfalia down to the airport in Reno Wednesday to pick her up. This would be the ultimate crew-mobile!

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I learned to drive a stick shift the week before the race

Within 20 minutes of getting Net from the airport though…

poor sad Westfalia

Lynette, Avian, Beverly and I got to take our first ride in a tow truck. The driver gave me his card, you know, “just in case it happens again”.

After getting the VW “home” (to a shop in Reno filled with other broken-down Westfalias), we squeezed into a tiny Porsche for the ride back to Truckee. It was so small that Lynette had to cock her head sideways to fit. We were grateful for the ride though (thanks, Jon!)

this car doesn’t really have a backseat

I had high hopes of spending quality time and relaxing with Lynette in the days before the race, but life happens, and so Friday afternoon after a hectic week at work, we found ourselves racing down to Carson City, barely making it in time for runner check-in.

hydrating at runner check-in

Friday night, 10pm, I finally put an email together to Lynette, Pete and Lucas (my pacers) with my race plan. It was ambitious, but I’d had many solid weeks of training and had run a mountain 50-miler PR (personal record) at the Silver State 50 in May (2F in 9:27). This would be my 4th time on the Tahoe Rim Trail course,

TRT100 2012; 3F in 25:12
TRT50 2014; 3F in 9:41
TRT100 2015; 2F in 25:10 

and the first time I haven’t had to use a treadmill  as part of my regular training routine (twins now old enough that I could sneak out for some early morning runs). It was time to shoot for a 24 hour finish.

training log
The past year in miles per week – Since April, I had 8 weeks in the 80-95 mile range

At 3:30 am Saturday morning, Lucas, Lynette and I left for the starting line at Spooner Lake, Nevada, which is also the 50 mile aid station and finish line, in this double loop course. The course consists of mostly single-track, breathtakingly beautiful trails along the East side of Lake Tahoe. Spooner Lake is about 7,000′ in elevation, and the majority of the course is over 8,000′, with a high point on Snow Valley Peak of over 9,000′. Each lap contains around 10,000′ of elevation gain.

TRT100 course map. Courtesy TRT100 website


Lucas and I at the start. Photo by Net
RD George Ruiz prepares to send us off into the darkness

After the National Anthem and an exciting countdown, over 250 runners began the gradual climb towards Hobart. Around mile 7 I found myself running next to Caroline Barichievich, a talented South Lake Tahoe runner. We chatted with the other runners and the miles clicked by. A Reno runner asked if I was “Jenelle from the Donner Party”… I liked the sound of that.

I found myself cruising into Tunnel Creek, mile 11, happy to see Lynette and Lucas, who had made the 1800′, 3.5 mile climb up. I saw them again after a fun and easy-effort Red House Loop, and they said that only Roxanne (a super fast woman with the 3rd fastest time on course!) was ahead of me. I didn’t really believe them…

Lucas filling my hydration pack at Tunnel Creek

As the temperature rose, I hit the Bull Wheel aid station, and they told me I was in 3rd. I decided that 3rd is better than 2nd this early on. It was going to be a long day and night.

There were many other users on the trail – hikers and mountain bikers, who happily told me I was one of the top women. Lots of “Girl Power!”, clapping and cheering. A group of mountain bikers told me “You’re burly”. I think that was meant to be a compliment. 🙂

Despite all the positive energy, I started to drag, felt waves of nausea, and it took forever to get to the Tyrolean Downhill (a 4 mile descent of 2,000′ down to the Diamond Peak Aid Station). This hadn’t happened to me since the Bishop 100k – which had ended badly, and I began to lose confidence. To make matters worse, I heard footsteps behind me, and they sounded too delicate to be one of the 50 mile men catching up (50 milers/55k racers start 1 hour behind us). On a switchback, I allowed myself a peak, and sure enough, it was Caroline. We ran and talked for a mile or so before she bounded down the trail towards the 30 mile aid station. I thought  I was now in 4th, and although 3rd had been better than 2nd at Bull Wheel, I decided that 4th was not better than 3rd at this point.

Lucas led me into the aid station and told me I was actually in 3rd, but I didn’t want to hear about that until later  -it was becoming stressful since I felt so crappy.

Photo by Net of Lucas and I at Diamond Peak

Lucas and Lynette walked me up the Diamond Peak climb, a brutal, exposed, steep climb up a ski resort with about 20 false summits and 15,000′ of gain (not exactly, but that’s what it felt like). It was now really hot, I felt weak and nauseous, and to top it off, I found it necessary to start the Imodium regime. I felt defeated and dumb, for going out too hard, and blowing up at mile 31.

Hot, weak, and nauseous
Net and I heading up the ski resort

After a few of the long switchbacks I tearfully told Lynette and Lucas I should continue the rest of the way alone, or I would start crying and want to go back with them. In my prior TRT races and training runs, I was so proud of my fast DP climbs – I always felt strong and passed people, cheerfully even. Judging by how I felt at this point, I thought my dreams of a PR were over. At the top, I breathed a big sigh of relief, smiled and snapped a photo, to help remember that moment.

fake it till you make it

Over the next 10 miles, I focused on making myself feel better, which meant slowing down, increasing my calories and fluids, and reminding myself how privileged I was to be out on this beautiful trail with people waiting on me and cheering for me. Around mile 40, I hit the Hobart aid station and caught up to Caroline. We ran together for the next 11 miles, over Snow Valley Peak, and down the long descent to the halfway mark. She had also been experiencing nausea and stomach issues, plus some major blister problems. We had a lovely time, cheering at the various landmarks – water drop aid station, our first views of Spooner Lake, and I was grateful for the company.

running into the 50 mile aid station. Photo by Net

Lucas ran me into the fantastic 50 mile aid station to meet Lynette and Pete. The volunteers gave every runner a standing ovation, which made me choke up a little. My friend Mike served me a quesadilla, Lynette took care of my hydration pack and supplies, and my friend Spike convinced me to let his medical team tape up the hot spots on my feet.  I hesitated; I’d never sat down in a previous 100 miler much less taken my shoes off, but he assured me it would be worth it. I was so glad! The hot spots were non-issues for the rest of the race.

My coach, Meghan, was at the aid station waiting on her runner, so we chatted while my feet were tended to. She was so sweet she offered to trade shoes with me – in case mine were causing the hot spot problems.

advice from a pro – Coach Meghan! Pic by Spike Wimmer

I felt good again, and ready to charge with Pete, who would pace me for the next 30 miles. We set off; I was back in 2nd place for the women, 32nd overall, and about 30 min faster than prior years. Things were looking up.

Pete and I headed to Hobart. Pic by Net

We made our way up towards Marlette, and both commented that the conditions were quite pleasant – as far as the heat. Pete ran behind me and inhaled pounds of dust over the next 7 hours (but he didn’t mention that at the time).

Marlette Lake
cruising at mile 60. Photo by Pacer Pete

At Tunnel Creek, I was thrilled to see Lynette again – I couldn’t believe how much she had hiked/run to help me out. Throughout the race, she would put over 25 miles on her own feet crewing for me.  I also got the royal treatment at the aid station from incredible volunteers like my friends Gretchen, Marisa, Jackie, and Kym.

my wonderful sister Lynette

I told Pete that I had never made it out of the 2nd Red House Loop before sunset. This became a new goal.

Pete and I heading down to Red House – Photo by Andy Pasternak

On the descent, we came across Roxanne, the first female, on her climb up. We congratulated her, and she seemed eager to hear what place I was in. Pete quietly told me she looked to be about 1 hour ahead of us, which meant I’d made up nearly 20 minutes on her since the 50 mile mark. I took her asking what place I was in as a sign that she cared, and maybe she was getting tired, and maybe….well, it all made me run a little faster.

Photo by Net

On the way out, we celebrated my first time of not needing the headlamp on the 2nd Red House Loop. We headed towards Bull Wheel, now in the dark, and looking out for runners to hunt. The trails are so interesting at night with the fairy-tale look of the foliage, spiders, field mice, and beetles by the light of the headlamp. We could see the nearly-full moon illuminating Lake Tahoe along the way.

Despite the fun, on the way down to Diamond Peak I started to feel nauseous again. When we reached the dark, quiet, 80-mile aid station, Lynette and Lucas excitedly updated me that Roxanne had just left about 40 minutes before I arrived, and I had now moved up to 14th position overall.

Around 11:45pm, Lucas and I headed up what would be my most challenging Diamond Peak climb ever. It was stop and go the entire way, and I had great difficulty talking or smiling. Lucas was very encouraging, patient, and made me feel like I was doing really well (even though I was basically taking 10 steps and stopping). We were passed by one runner – the only 100 miler to pass me since the last Diamond Peak climb at mile 30 [it would take 15 miles to pass him back]. Eventually I turned around and walked backwards up the climb, which somehow allowed me to keep moving without stopping.

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moonlight glow over Lake Tahoe. Photo by Lucas

Once again, as I finished that climb, I felt better. We saw many friends, like Jill, Tina, Kathy, and Candice, in a two-way section of trail. At Tunnel Creek Aid Station, we learned that Roxanne had increased her lead slightly, but was only 6 runners ahead of us. Time to count headlamps. I realized we had less than 3.5 hours to make it to the finish (16 miles with a climb over the highest part of the course- Snow Valley Peak) to break 24 hours – that was unlikely.

We reached Snow Valley Peak in 12th position, one of my favorite spots on the course, with panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the moon reflecting over the sparkling water. I allowed my first peak at my watch since Tunnel Creek, and was disappointed to see it was just after 4am – there was no way I could run the last 7-8 miles in under an hour. I quietly accepted this and decided to still give it my best effort on the long, mostly downhill set of switchbacks that led to the finish line.

The final miles became fun again when we spotted a headlamp in the distance- the first runner we’d seen since mile 90. The chase was on. It took a few switchbacks, but we passed him and I was now 11th overall (Sorry, Paul :)). Lucas thought he saw another set of headlamps, and it became a race again. I could feel Lucas getting a little too close, and just when I thought he might accidentally knock me down, he tripped and did a perfect somersault, landing upright and continuing to run.

As we approached the beautiful lake, just before sunrise, we heard cheering in the distance.

Spooner Lake. Photo by Lynette

It’s difficult to put into words the intense high I felt while racing around that lake, with glimpses of the finish-line lights, and Lucas cheering me on and supporting me like he had throughout the past 4 months of training. I’d visualized this moment repeatedly and it was all playing out better than I could have hoped. We charged to the finish line to a very exciting small reception of friends, in particular my sister, all the way out here from Michigan, to wrap up the most amazing race of my life.

TRT100 2016 finish. 24:29:36

As it turned out, Roxanne had a phenomenal race and finished about 50 minutes before me, so the lights we saw turned out to be a new friend, Louis, who made sure I didn’t pass him in the final miles.  The 2016 race had 155 finishers and 75 runners who didn’t quite make it. I had several friends in each category, and realize how fortunate I was to have a good day. You just never know what can happen out there.

I’m eternally appreciative of the love and support I received before, during, and after the race from Lucas, Lynette, Pete, Meghan, my parents, my brother and his family, Betsy, Angela, Audrey, Helen, Gretchen, Diana, Holly, Spike, Chaz, Moné, Kathy, Jessie, Anna Mae, Avian and Stephen, and all my family, friends and fellow Donner Party Mountain Runners. I had so many quotes from each of you going through my mind throughout the race. I’m super grateful to my friend George Ruiz, Race Director, for putting on such a high-quality event, year after year. I’m also thankful for the hundreds of volunteers that gave up their weekend (or more) to provide us runners with the best experience possible.

Lucas and I walking to the car from the finish.
Later that afternoon, at the awards ceremony, with my badass friend Jill, who finished her 11th hundred miler in 5th place.
Lucas, me, and Lynette at the awards ceremony

It’s all in your head

The 2016 Way Too Cool 50k was wet, enjoyable and overall quite lovely, but the lasting memories this year were not within the race as much as from the preceding months of training. I look forward to running ultras because when the race starts all of my problems, fears and worries disappear and all there is to do is run, drink, and eat. After months of challenges in real life, being able to completely escape into a run was a reward more than crossing the finish line. So this is less of a race report, and more of a WTC training memoir.

I followed a plan set up by my coach, Meghan, which began in mid-January. Running in January and February proved “challenging” in a year that we actually had snow.

typical snowy run in Squaw

I hit the mileage every week, but with only one long trail run, the majority was either pavement, treadmill, or running on snowshoes. Although I wasn’t getting much in the way of elevation gain/race specific training, I was consistently faced with challenges that I considered to be “mental preparedness” for the race- juggling a full-time job, a new puppy, and my 10-year old twins with me half the time with school, ski races and training schedules of their own.

My little rippers at a ski race

My typical weekday runs began at 5am or earlier, before my kids woke up or work began. Sometimes getting the mileage in meant breaking it into 3 or more runs throughout the day, whenever the opportunity arose.

Photo Jan 20, 7 09 10 AM (1)
It’s hard to complain about the early morning runs when this happens

My first long run (13 miles) was after fresh snow (kids were at ski team), so running on the roads was not a good option. I snowshoe-ran lap after lap around the Squaw Valley cross country ski trails. Despite only covering 13 miles, when I finished, I felt like I had run a marathon.

Photo Jan 24, 12 26 34 PM
the never-ending 13 mile snowshoe run in Squaw

Some days I mixed it up with downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoe running, and running. One particular fun adventure began at Tahoe Donner Cross Country Center on skate skis – I lasted one mile due to sticky snow and rain; luckily I had snowshoes and boots (Sorels) in the car, so I then set out on a 9 mile snowshoe run.

Photo Jan 16, 1 29 06 PM
fashion over function

Skiing in the rain isn’t fun, but snowshoe-running in the rain is awesome. It helped that there were rainbows everywhere…

Photo Jan 16, 1 06 26 PM
Tahoe Donner

Afterwards, I grabbed running shoes and headed to the Legacy Trail in Truckee for 11 more miles. I saw the most beautiful sunset heading back.

Another hard day called for 18 miles – we had fresh snow, I was hungover, depressed, heart broken… and I couldn’t bring myself to run on the icy pavement, so I went snowshoe running – the first 6 miles with an amazing group run led by Donner Party Mountain Runners.

Photo Jan 30, 10 27 28 AM
Naomi above Coldstream Valley. DPMR Group Run

We got back to the cars, they all went home, I put on dry clothes and did two more grueling laps on the 6-mile course. I was cold, it was a total slog, but it needed to be done and the views made it all worth it. An 18 mile snowshoe run is a great hangover cure too FYI.

Photo Jan 30, 3 30 31 PM
Laps in Coldstream Canyon

On a Saturday with 23 miles scheduled, I got up at 4:00 am to run eight miles on pavement before bringing the kids to ski team – after drop-off, I ran 17 miles on pavement, hitting nearly every neighborhood in the valley + a victory lap through the valley with the sled dogs. The kids appreciated these long runs while they were skiing because it meant I was starving at pick-up and suggesting things like cookies or ice cream for an afternoon snack.

Photo Jan 24, 1 45 04 PM
The views help mitigate the pain
Photo Jan 24, 12 12 21 PM
Running with the dogs

On the morning of my longest training run, after all plans fell apart last-minute (happens often with kids), instead of heading to Reno to run on trails, I dropped my kids off at ski team and ran laps around the valley streets/bike paths for 28 miles. Seriously.  About 90% on pavement (the rest post-holing on groomed ski trails). With one mile to go, a friend (I wasn’t sure who at the time) yelled encouragement out her condo window at me – “Yeah girl, you got this, Go Jenelle!!” – it was enough to bring tears to my eyes (thanks Lauren). I finished just before it was time to pick the kids up – and although this was about as far from race-specific training as I could get, I knew that this was golden as far as mental-preparedness for an ultra.

I ran this street about 6 times that day

The Race
Driving down to Cool early Saturday morning, Gretchen and I caught up on each other’s lives and the race seemed to be an afterthought. We arrived early enough to get our favorite parking spot (I’ll never tell where). It wasn’t raining yet, and we joked about how we had brought a combined 7 rain jackets between the two of us.

pre-race, hanging out at the Liquor Store. Photo: Gretchen
pre-race, hanging out at the Liquor Store. Photo: Gretchen

The race began – and everything just fell into place. The water (rain, puddles, creek crossings) was refreshing, it was wonderful to be on actual trails (finally), the camaraderie of fellow racers was encouraging, and the beauty of the canyons in Spring was overwhelming.  Tips from friends floated through my mind and guided me along (Thanks Melissa, Helen, Gretchen, Lynette). My legs were working, my lungs were working, and my only responsibility was to drink, take gels, and run without fear. That’s all. This was the fun part.

I followed "this guy" for a big part of the race... Photo: Solomon
I held on for as long as I could… Photo: Salomon Running

With one mile to go, I spotted Lucas, standing in the pouring rain, cheering me on. I had been looking forward to that moment, and it gave me a nice boost to run hard to the finish. I was thrilled to splash through the final massive puddles and see the clock – 4:55:42.

I really did wear every one of the rain jackets I brought, at some point during the day. Photo: Lucas
I really did wear every one of the rain jackets I brought, at some point during the day. Photo: Lucas

I’m constantly reminded of why I love ultras… at times, a race can seem like the “hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Then real life happens, and I realize the ultra was just training me to deal with reality. Then, on a day like this race, it actually serves as an escape from said reality. Whatever it is, I’m hooked. And looking forward to easier snow-free training ahead. And happier days in general.



Life in Bear Country

On the first day of summer vacation, June 12th, I woke up to this text from my neighbor Stacey:

Photo Jun 12, 6 01 21 AM

It sounded bad, so before going out to look, I made coffee and got dressed.

I was really happy I made that decision…

my 2013 Subaru Outback
my 2013 Subaru Outback

There was no food in the car… I left the doors unlocked (all the time). I’d once heard that it was best to leave doors unlocked in bear country, because if a bear wants in, it will get in, causing further damage. I didn’t get the memo about also leaving a window unrolled so they could get out, once they get in, and become trapped.

backseat totally trashed as well.
backseat totally trashed as well.

I was supposed to drive myself and Gretchen to Angelapalooza at Mt. Whitney that afternoon, so I texted her a picture of the car to see if she could drive instead. My car had been packed with camping gear- no food- but I wonder if the bear was familiar with Blue Apron? There was an old Blue Apron box in the car that I carry camping gear in…

camping gear
camping gear

My neighbor, Jason, came over to chat while I was assessing the damage. He told me the full story- he and Stacey woke up due to my car horn honking repeatedly, around 2am. Jason came out, thinking there was a burglar (in Truckee!), but he saw the bear in the car, trapped.

Freaking the F#$% out.

The smart bear turned on the hazard lights, continued honking the horn, and even used the remote garage door opener – none of this raucous, or even Jason pounding on my front door and yelling to me, woke me or Avian up.

I kinda like the bite marks in the driver's side seat
I kinda like the bite marks in the passenger side seat

Jason called 911 – I don’t know if they ever came or not – and after about 8 minutes of watching the bear destroy the car, he came up with the idea to wait until the bear was in the trunk area, then open the front passenger door, and “sprint like a cartoon character” back to his yard.

Jason (not a runner) succeeded- by the time he reached his truck (about 50 feet away) and climbed on top of it, the bear got out of the car, and, after pausing in the driveway briefly “What the hell just happened to me?”, ran off.

another front door shot.
another front door shot.

I met with the insurance adjuster the following week. She told me it looked like it would be a total loss – her rough estimate was over $14,000 in damages.

A week later, I was notified that her final estimate was $6,500. What?!  Another week later, same insurance adjuster quit her job… makes me wonder if she set up the insurance company for failure on this claim? The car really should have been totaled.

Throughout the summer, I was able to borrow various cars for the weeks that I had the kids, and ride my bike, run, or walk to work the weeks I didn’t have cars. I had many memorable experiences as a result.

On one fun occasion, I had pink eye in both eyes (which really flared up after an incredible run the day before), and was waiting for a prescription to fill, so I just quickly went to a car wash (in my pajamas) to take care of the borrowed car (a friend of a friend’s car, who didn’t actually know I was using his car).

the view from inside a broken car wash
just a quick carwash

The car wash malfunctioned, with me stuck inside (in my pajamas). I called the business, they didn’t know what to do, so eventually I crawled out the back hatch (car was still running) and had to wait for a maintenance person to show up.

the front of this car was really, really clean after 40 minutes of scrubbing
the front of this car was really, really clean after 40 minutes of scrubbing

Fortunately the borrowed car was not damaged.

Two weeks ago, I paid a visit to the Subaru dealer, to meet the awesome customer service rep, Larry (we had become friends by now, with weekly phone calls and emails), and to check on the progress (and pick up a loaner car- complimentary! A “sorry it’s taken over two months and we have no idea when it will be finished” loaner car!)

This is what my car looked like in the shop…

Car progress - or lack there of
Car progress – or lack there of

The car is still not finished, well, they thought it was finished, but I just went to look at it (with a tray of cookies for Larry), and it still needs a new dash, new center console, new seatbelts, floormats, etc… The running tab for repairs is now over $19,000.

the saga continues.

At least I have a great bike and a free loaner car.

biking has benefits
biking has benefits

weekend at the lake

This past weekend, JP took me on a surprise trip to a beautiful mountain lake. After a two-hour drive on a super rough, winding road, we arrived at our destination lake at midnight Friday night. Under a full moon, we paddled by canoe to find an island to call home for the weekend.

moon over the mountains. oh, and we saw a shooting star about halfway across the lake...
moon over the mountains. oh, and we saw a shooting star about halfway across the lake…

Skimming across the glassy water, I tried to make out the surroundings, but the reflections on the lake made it difficult to distinguish where the water ended and the mountains began.

Saturday morning, I awoke to find myself in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places imaginable.

Thank you for taking me here
JP planned and packed everything – after the busy week I had, there was no way I could have done anything to help, and he took care of it all. So grateful.
oh wow - look over there
waking up and checking things out
a room with a view
a room with a view
no shortage of drinking water no shortage of drinking water
our transportation for the weekend
our transportation for the weekend
A little after-coffee paddle
A little after-coffee paddle


JP set up a little shade/rain shelter for us
JP set up a little sun/rain shelter for us
our island paradise
our island paradise
looking back at camp from my favorite sitting spot
looking back at camp
the prettiest raindrops I've ever seen
the prettiest raindrops I’ve ever seen
looking down at our little island from the mainland (where we visited to use the bathroom)
looking down at our little island from the mainland (where we visited to use the bathroom)

After breakfast, we paddled over to the East shore of the lake to set out on a “run” which turned into a hike with no trails or map.

After hiking up the long granite slabs we saw one lake after another.
After hiking up the long granite slabs we saw one lake after another.
another lake
another lake
more lakes
more lakes
I was still happy in this picture
still happy
still happy

It was fun and challenging, until my greatest fears were combined – fear of heights, and fear of drowning, as our route took us down a creek which contained many series of waterfalls. I fell behind and got lost, finding myself in a creek with steep walls on either side, not sure how to get out. I blew my whistle frantically for about 15 minutes until he came back for me, and after about a 20 minute temper tantrum, I calmed down and was able to enjoy the rest of the hike, and didn’t even freak out when we found ourselves in further precarious situations.

JP and another lake
JP and another lake
the falls along our route
the falls along our route
back to our lake, but not quite at the right spot -
back to our lake, but not quite at the right spot –

After the 5 hour, 6.5 mile “run” turned “hike”, we went swimming, took a nap, and chilled out.

turns out I should have used more sunscreen
turns out I should have used more sunscreen
time to wake up!
time to wake up!

JP made us a delicious dinner of salmon and various salads, which we ate on my favorite rocks next to the only grass on the island.

the best spot
the best spot

After dinner, we went for a paddle around the entire lake, checking out the shoreline and meeting some of the other campers.

found this super cool stump in the water with it's own little forest growing on it
found this super cool stump in the water with its own little forest growing on it

JP did the dishes and we settled down to watch the sunset. FullSizeRender_1   FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender-36 That evening, thunder, lightning, and rain kept me up for most of the night, terrified. I was convinced the lightning was going to strike the metal pole in our tent. We survived though, and after another morning paddle around the lake, we packed up our things and headed back to Truckee. It was the perfect vacation spot, and I can’t wait to go back and bring my kids next time. FullSizeRender-39

Elisa Ruland

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