Into Thin Air

Following my race in Boston, I ventured into thin air to beautiful Tahoe-Donner, just outside of Truckee, California, for a three week stint up at altitude. With the fall colors and crisp, thin mountain air, the running has been amazing and I'm excited to reap the benefits of high altitude training.

Lake Tahoe
I'm loving the mountain lifestyle - it's exhilarating to be living and training at 6800 feet. How could I not love it? It's in my blood! My mom grew up in the mountains of Quincy, CA and her dad - my grandfather - was a lifelong Forest Service employee who never felt more at home than among the evergreens and backcountry roads of the mountainous Plumas National Forest. Perhaps that's why instead of feeling lonely as I run along a hilly dirt road, I feel at home...

My dad and his siblings also came of age on mountaintops, skiing every weekend possible at Mount Lassen. They never seemed to break free of the mountains' allure, as my dad and his brothers have each at some point in their lives said, "See ya, real world!" and escaped to the mountains for a few years to live as ski bums. Which is kinda like what I'm doing right now: being a running bum and loving EVERY minute of it!

Being in this beautiful place is a daily reminder of why the mountains are such a special place for my family.

Post 14-mile long run
Here are some highlights from altitude training so far:
  • Long run from Squaw Valley to Tahoe City and back, followed by a tasty post-run brunch
  • The fall colors - it's absolutely gorgeous up here, and every run I feel so much joy for being in such a beautiful place
  • Exploring new trails - I've run in this area many times before but am discovering new runs all the time!
  • Challenging myself - last Sunday I ran with Olympian Magda Lewy-Boulet and fellow Bay Area runner Brooke Wells and we climbed over 1000 vertical feet during our long run! It was definitely the hardest hill climb I've ever done, but the views along the way more than made up for it!
  • The comraderie - runners from New Balance Silicon Valley, the Impalas, and Bay Area Track Club have been meeting up for regular training runs. Between traversing trails together, learning new core routines, and "talking shop" with fellow elite athletes, it's been like XC camp on crack! Each day I'm inspired by the my fellow runners, each working hard to pursue his or her dreams.
Post-run dinner with the ladies at Herringbone House
Although things have been going really well so far, yesterday the altitude started to take its toll on my body and I woke up feeling pretty beat. After the longest run of my life, at the end of my highest mileage week ever, all done above 6000 feet, I was feeling pretty trashed. As I plodded along the road encircling Donner Lake, Negative Nancy reared her head. But as I took in the beautiful mountain surroundings and looked out over the still water, things started to fall into perspective...

I was reminded that despite feeling like doggy-do, my day really wasn't all that bad. If the worst thing in my world was tired legs, I must have it pretty good... If the biggest problem I faced was deciding whether to nap or do a second run, I must be pretty damn lucky! Choosing between organic free-range chicken or fresh buffalo for dinner -  white girl problems, anyone? The running bum lifestyle is pretty fantastic: attitude has been properly adjusted...

Minus my brief boo-hoo session yesterday, I've really enjoyed my time at altitude up here so far and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to take time away from work and coaching to train. I know the 3 weeks spent in this beautiful place and the hundreds of miles logged in thin mountain air will reap big rewards later this fall and throughout the winter months. Physiologically, mentally, emotionally, I'm growing and developing each day; I know I'll return to San Francisco more inspired and hungry than ever!

In such a beautiful place, you can't help but run joyfully!
I've got a week and a half more of thin mountain air - more updates to come! In the meantime, so that you can share in my altitude experience, I've posted some photos from the trip thus far - enjoy!
Lake Tahoe after a joyful long run at Marlette Lake, NV
Just east of Highway 89, near Old Reno Road
Donner Lake at sunset

Coming down in elevation for a workout at Feather River College in Quincy, CA
My grandma's garden in Quincy, CA
Plumas County, Quincy, CA
Squaw Valley, CA
Running near Alder Creek and the Emigrant Trail off Highway 89
Truckee, CA

Run joyfully!