Ellis Peak Hike

I hope you all had an amazing weekend like I did! The summer might be coming to a close and I am back in school, but that’s not going to stop me from having a great time. No way. Team Fun right here. On Saturday, I had my Mindful Leadership class, which I can tell is going to be a great class for me personally and professionally. My professors are top notch, there are some great people in my class, and we get to meditate and do yoga as part of the curriculum. How cool is that?! If you haven’t heard of mindfulness, I suggest you look it up. I’ll give more details throughout the semester, but it in a nutshell, it means being present in the moment in a non-judgmental way. Let go of the past and don’t worry about the future. I think we could all benefit from a little more of that! It is crazy to think about how much stress is wasted each day thinking (or obsessing, like me) about things that you have absolutely no control over. I am definitely going to try and embrace living in each moment a little more.

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It’s officially over. School starts this week and I will no longer be able to just pickup and go on weekend adventures. This semester I’ll have classes on Thursdays and Saturdays. Really!? Who creates a Saturday class? It’s a topic that I am really excited about though (Mindful Leadership), so I guess I’ll put up with it. Luckily, it’s not every Saturday, so I’ll still be able to sneak off on a few weekends here and there throughout the Fall to do some exploring.

Looking down on Star Lake by our bear bag.

Looking down on Star Lake by our bear bag. Freel to the right and Jobs Sister to the left.

This past weekend, I had to get one more trip in before it’s back to the books. My friend Jenn and I headed out to Star Lake with the intention of bagging Freel Peak, Jobs Sister, and Jobs the following day. My brother was originally going to come, but ended up coming down with a cold at the last minute. So it was just us two girls off to do some exploring.

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Mt. Rose Waterfall Trail

The past couple of weeks I have been so stoked to have one of my good friends get into trail running with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love running trails by myself or with my little sidekick of a dog, but being out there with a friend who is learning to love running is so much fun. I am running on trails that I don’t usually run and just having fun with it since a lot of our runs are run/hikes because she is working on building a foundation.

Last week we decided to run to the Mt. Rose waterfall, which is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Earlier this year I hiked this section when I bagged Mt. Houghton and Relay Peak, but I had never really run it. I am glad we did and I will definitely be back for more, even if the trail did beat me down.

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Holy balls. I have not been able to keep up with my life lately. I have been on the go for the past month straight and don’t see any signs of slowing down soon. The combination of backpacking every weekend, work, dealing with a remodel of my condo in-progress, and starting marathon training, have left me feeling like this summer is going by way too fast. But to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way. It has been so much fun! Let me share my most recent fun adventure, backpacking in the Stanislaus National Forest to Bear Lake this past weekend.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to tag along on one of my friend’s annual family backpacking trips. Every year they get together (dad, sisters, cousins) and go to one of many cool spots they have found over the years. How cool is that?! This year, they decided to go to a beautiful mountain lake they had been to a few times before, Bear Lake in the Stanislaus National Forest. From Lake Tahoe, it is about a 4 hour drive, but definitely worth it. You head South on Hwy 395 and turn West at Sonora Pass Road (Hwy 108). From there, you follow the road for 49 miles until you pass through the tiny little town of Strawberry. After Strawberry, continue to follow the road for about 1 mile until you reach the ranger station. Backpacking permits are free, but you will need to check-in and let them know where you plan on camping (hint: you can only stay one night at each lake, wink, wink).

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I feel like I have so much to fill you in on! The past 7 days have been non-stop, but all in the best way possible. To start, last Saturday, August 1st, a group of friends, family, and coworkers participated in the Squaw Valley Mountain Run. More on that in a sec. Then right after the race, I left with two of my friends to go backpacking for the weekend. I got back on Monday night, worked three days, and am now headed out for another backpacking adventure in just a few hours. There have been so many great things going on this summer.

I’ll be back in MBA classes starting in a few weeks and I am definitely taking advantage of being outside, exploring, running trails, paddle boarding, and whatever else I can do. I feel like I haven’t had the chance to make any good recipes, but I promise I will get back to it soon. I have some good ideas brewing. In the meantime, below is a recap of what I have been up to the past week.

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I think I have a new favorite thing to do. I went backpacking last weekend with two friends and am totally hooked. So hooked, that I have backpacking trips planned for the next two weekends.

The first time I went backpacking was in high school, but I hadn’t done it since. I honestly don’t know why. Being out in Desolation Wilderness this past weekend reminded me how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and that I need to spend as much time outdoors as possible. The weather has been beautiful this summer in Tahoe and I only have one month left before my life will be re-consumed with MBA work. I am definitely taking advantage of both of those factors.

I had fun shooting some video and taking pics with my GoPro along the way. I am pretty sure that a GoPro is a backpacker’s dream. Well, for anyone who is not a professional photographer. My brother would argue for a different set-up, I’m sure. They are super light, weather proof with the case, and versatile. Check out the video below.

Headed up the primitive trail.

Headed up the primitive trail

This past weekend we originally wanted to hike in from Hwy 89 to Lake Sylvia so we could summit Pyramid Peak the following day. Unfortunately, a forest fire had other plans for us and closed the road that we needed to get there. With a quick change of plans, and some helpful rangers at the Forest Service office, we decided to go into Desolation Wilderness from Glen Alpine Springs to Lake of the Woods. The rangers gave us two options, the 8.5 mile moderate route past Susie, Heather, and Aloha, or the 5.5 mile black diamond route up the primitive trail.

Looking back at Tahoe, Fallen Leaf, and Lily Lake.

Looking back at Tahoe, Fallen Leaf, and Lily Lake

We decided on the more direct primitive trail, as we were feeling up to the challenge, especially since we could no longer summit Pyramid. I would not suggest the primitive route to the faint of heart. The first few miles of the trail are straight up a mountain. You follow a stream bed most of the way and there are a few slick areas, but it was nice to have some water this time of year. There are also quite a few boulders to clear, so be careful. If you do decide to go this path, the unmarked trailhead is about .1 mile shy of the parking lot at Glen Alpine Springs trailhead. The easiest way I can describe it is to drive all the way up to the parking lot, turn around, and use your odometer for distance. Look on the right side (up the mountain) for the small trail that goes up. This trail is not marked on most maps; however, I did see one that had it dotted. I parked in a small shoulder area across from the trail and was fine for the three days.

View from our campsite at Lake of the Woods.

View from our campsite at Lake of the Woods

After weaving through a forest for a bit, you will find yourself starting to go up. Once you get onto the rocky part of the mountain, look for the piled rocks (or cairns) that serve as trail markers. The trail is easy to lose and we lost it once, but were able to find it again after a few minutes. All-in-all it took us 3 hours to get to the top of the saddle. From there, it was another fairly mellow 2 hours to Lake of the Woods. I am sure that you could do this much faster than we did, but we were taking our time, talking to other hikers, snapping pics, and filtering water from the stream. There wasn’t much left of the stream and I would imagine it will be completely dry by Fall, so don’t rely on a water source on your way up.

We got to Lake of the Woods at around 7:00 pm, with just enough light to get camp set-up and cook dinner. When we got into Lake of the Woods, we followed the lake around to the right and found a great spot on the tip of a little peninsula. There were a few other groups there, but it was pretty spread out that you didn’t feel like you were in a campground.

American Lake

American Lake

The next day, we thought we would just try to see if there was a way to summit Pyramid from where we were, but there really wasn’t. At least, not one that was safe. Instead we ventured to Lake Aloha then onto American Lake. We had lunch there and stared up at the mountain that was being blocked by a huge granite ridge and boulders the size of VW beetles. I’m all for an adventure, but there is no need to try and get hurt in the middle of nowhere. I’ll get Pyramid one day from the right side of the mountain!

After a while, we went back to Lake of the Woods, took a dip, and relaxed in the hammocks. It was such a nice afternoon and evening, even if it was a little on the chilly side. I am definitely bringing a down jacket next time.

Lake Aloha from the trail home.

Lake Aloha with Pyramid Peak to the left

The next morning, we packed up and decided to take the other route home. Not only would it save our knees from a brutal descent, but we wanted to go past Aloha and some of the other lakes. We headed out on the 8.5 mile hike on the moderate trail toward Glen Alpine Springs. Although it was a longer route than on the way up, it took us an hour less because it is mostly downhill. I am glad we took this path on the way back to make one big 14 mile loop. We got to see most of Aloha, which is one of the most unique lakes I have ever seen. The views of Heather and Susie are also beautiful. After about 4 hours we were back at the car.

I had such a great weekend and times with friends in the middle of nowhere are some of the best memories in life. It is also a great way to rejuvenate the soul and feel ready to tackle anything in life that comes your way. Unfortunately, I can’t be on the trail all the time, but making the time when I can is something that is super fulfilling to me. Not to mention, completely disconnecting and being out of cell range is a good get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. What things do you do to feed your soul?

Almost seven months ago, did you make a New Year’s resolution? Maybe it was to eat healthier, exercise more, drink less, spend time with your family, or whatever else. And like 92% of Americans, have you since long forgotten about that New Year’s resolution? I don’t personally believe in New Year’s resolutions for the sheer fact that most people fail at them. If you do believe in resolutions, more power to you. What I do believe in however, is setting goals each year and using the year to work toward and achieve that goal. Habits aren’t made overnight and I often think that is why resolutions can be destine for failure. If you have one bad day in the second week of January, the whole year is shot. At least that is how I am with my all-or-nothing personality.

Regardless of what you believe in, we are almost seven months into this year (yikes!) and it is a great time to do a self-evaluation and reset goals for the remainder of the year. Even if you didn’t set goals at the beginning of the year, commit right now to making the second half of the year the best you can. Personally, it is a great time for me to self-reflect, celebrate some of my accomplishments, and focus on what I can do better or differently throughout the remainder of the year.

At the beginning of every year, I write my goals down in a day planner. It is something that I use on a daily basis throughout the year, whether it be to document my training, appointments, or schoolwork. It is always in front of me and I look at my goals often. As I was looking at them the other day, I thought, ‘what better way to stay accountable than share them with a bunch of strangers on my blog?’ So here are my top five goals and the progress I have made, or not made, to date:

Goals as of 1/1/2015

  1. Start running again – I have identified as a “runner” for the better part of my life. However, I have definitely had my fair share of hiatuses where I didn’t run for a year or more. 2014 was one of those hiatuses and I didn’t run. Period. As 2015 was approaching and I was feeling pretty down on myself, I made this my top goal for 2015. Getting my stride back wasn’t easy and some times were downright discouraging. When you go from running marathons to barely being able to get through two miles without walking, you better check your ego at the door. With patience and persistence, I am happy to report that I have definitely conquered this goal. So far this year, I’ve done two 5ks, the Lake Tahoe Relay (10.5 miles), and a half marathon. So what’s next? That brings me to my next goal…
  2. Run a marathon – The ultimate goal here is really qualifying for Boston, I’m not going to lie. But, being that this is my first year back after a hiatus and I need to work on my foundation, I am not going to kill myself trying to achieve a qualifying time this year. If I do, added bonus. What I am doing however is running a marathon in December that will hopefully set me up to be able to qualify in 2016.
  3. Spend more time doing things for myself – This is something that I constantly have to work on…but I am getting better! I am learning that it is OK to say “no” to going out with friends all the time. I am learning that it is fun going for a hike, trail run, paddle, or other exploration by yourself. I am learning that sometimes you just need to sit in a hammock in the middle of nowhere and enjoy the solitude. And I am learning it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy your own company or a good book dining at a restaurant solo. Being a strong, independent woman is something I strive for and I am definitely making progress.
  4. Summit 15 peaks in ’15 – This is the area where I have the most catching-up to do to hit my goal by the end of the year. At the beginning of the year, I thought it sounded cool, but now I am realizing it is harder than I thought to find the time. Right now, I have four: Mt. Tallac, Relay Peak, Mt. Houghton, and Rifle Peak. Each peak takes the better part of a day and if you add backpacking to that, you are taking about at least 2-3 days. Combined with working full-time, MBA course work, races/running schedule, and unpredictable weather (or fires in the case of this past weekend), it is proving to be a challenge, but I am bound and determined to get all 15! This weekend we attempted to summit Pyramid Peak, but I was only able to view it from my hammock by the lake (picture above). I’m putting together a video blog for you on my backpacking trip this weekend and should have it for you in a few days. Stay tuned! In the meantime, tell me all the peaks you know of that don’t take a full day. Go!
  5. Go to the dentist – I can certainly check this one off the list. For the first time in 8 years, I went back to the dentist this past April. Since then, I have had three fillings, one crown, and one wisdom tooth pulled. The good news is, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. It feels good being back on track again, but you still won’t ever hear me saying that I love going to the dentist. Who likes the dentist? Really.

All in all, I am super proud of the progress that I have made so far this year. I have really dedicated time and effort into living a healthy, active lifestyle, and it shows! The following is a quote I have held near and dear to my heart along the way.

“Love the life you live, live the life you love.” – Bob Marley

It is so true in so many ways. We all have the option to live exactly how we want. Sometimes it is a real struggle to break old, bad habits or on the flip-side, create new, healthy ones, but those are the things in life that are so worth it! You can either wish you lived your life a certain way, or you can actually do it. It is really that simple.

In the last part of 2015 I plan on continuing to focus on my goals that make me a happier and healthier person. I am living the life I love by running the beautiful trails in Tahoe, taking in the view (and always yelling) from mountaintops, and spending a lot more time relaxing in my hammock in the middle of nowhere!

How are you planning on killing the last 5 months of 2015? Killing time or killing it at life by being the best you can be?

Rifle Peak Hike

Happy Hump Day! It’s only Wednesday and this week is already turning out to be awesome. To start, I received a check-up call from my oral surgeon on Monday. How nice is that?! He wanted to make sure that I wasn’t having any issues after my wisdom tooth removal and if I had any questions. Of course, I had a question! When could I run?! To my delight, he said that I could go for an easy run that day and if it wasn’t bothering me, I was probably good to go. The main concern is that doing anything that will raise your blood pressure will make it bleed. Well, I ran 3.5 miles on the Flume Trail on Monday with the doggies and didn’t have any issues. Yay! Who said that getting your wisdom teeth out is traumatic? I am probably extremely lucky, but the whole process was pretty painless and the only downtime I had was on the day of surgery. That’s over, done with, and moving on.

Then yesterday, in the middle of a really productive day at work, I decided I wanted to do something different in the afternoon. The annual Squaw Valley Mountain Run is coming up and I thought what a better way to train than hiking to the top of Rifle Peak. I have lived in Incline Village for 25 years and have never summited this most prominent peak that you can see from all over town. I sent a text to my trusty friend Jenn at lunch, who is always up for anything, and we made a plan to hike it after I got off work.

I was done with work by 3:30 and swung by the store to grab some water and a beer and we were on our way. Neither of us had ever hiked the peak, so we didn’t know where we were going or what we were doing, but that sometimes makes adventures like that even more fun. Aside from some really bad information I found online, we were going off of what seemed to be intuition.

We pulled up to the trailhead on Marlene Street. You really can’t miss it. It is a fire road on the left side of the road as you are going up with a large green Forest Service gate in front of it. We followed the fire road down then up and to the right for a little over a quarter of a mile until we reached a water tower. From there, go around the water tower to the back, and the trail turns into a single track and goes straight up the mountain. I have summited a few peaks this year and I have to say, that this might be the steepest. Although not the longest, it definitely works your butt!

After about a mile of going straight up the mountain (which seems like forever), the terrain opens up and you find yourself in a setting that can only be described as a wonderland. I don’t know how else to put it into words. The mountainside is wide open and covered with nothing but mules ears and every other Tahoe wildflower you could imagine all the way to the peak. You can also finally see the peak from this viewpoint, which is shown below.

First view of Rifle Peak after the trail opens up and you come out of the woods.

First view of Rifle Peak after the trail opens up and you come out of the woods.

It is the tail end of wildflower season, and I can only imagine what it looked like two weeks ago. I already have a reminder in my calendar to hike the peak again next year in mid-June. It is just amazing. From here, you are about another mile from the peak, but it is a much more mellow hike, kind of. You hike through the flowers and then eventually meet up with the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Once the trail you are on dead ends at the Rim Trail, head West on the Rim Trail towards Rifle Peak. Continue to follow this flat and slightly downhill trail for about a quarter of a mile until you are at the base of the peak.  At that point, look for a trail that heads up to the peak and follow that around to the backside, where you can walk up to the top relatively easily. No rock climbing required. All-in-all we went from car to peak in about an hour and a half.

The view up there is absolutely amazing. We hung out, took some silly pictures, cheersed a beer, and enjoyed the view for about an hour. After hiking up the 1,734 feet to get there, you will definitely want to hang out for a bit and soak in all the beauty that is Lake Tahoe. We were lucky and the day was absolutely beautiful for a hike. Hazy or not though, it is still spectacular.

Enjoying the view from the top of Rifle Peak.

Jenn and I being dorks and enjoying the view from the top of Rifle Peak.

Knowing that our sunlight was limited, we left the peak at about 6:30 and made our way back down. It took us about 1 hour to get back down and all I can say is quad killer! Also, be careful going back down. It is pretty steep and there are some loose rocks that if you step on, will take you down. I may or may not have fallen on my butt at one point.

Me hiking back down from Rifle Peak through the wildflowers.

Me hiking back down from Rifle Peak through the wildflowers.

I woke up pretty sore today, but still managed to get in a 6 mile run this afternoon. I am sure that I will still be feeling it tomorrow, but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right?

What peaks have you summited? I am on a mission to summit 15 peaks in 2015 and need some ideas. I’m only at four! Any good ones on the West Coast that you love? Leave a comment below. Happy trails!

BBQ Bacon Balls

I hope all of you wonderful people had a great weekend. I had a three day weekend, but it wasn’t a do-something-fun-with-the-day-off kind of weekend. On Friday, I had to get my wisdom tooth pulled. And yes, tooth as in singular. One tooth. Luckily, that is all I will ever have. Don’t ask me why, but only one tooth decided to grow in. My dentist said it’s because I am higher up on the evolution scale (since wisdom teeth are pointless in today’s modern world). I’ve also had others tell me it’s because I’m not as wise. Jerks. Either way, it’s gone!

I was absolutely dreading the appointment with all of the horror stories I have heard, but I have to say, it was relatively painless. I choose to go with I.V. sedation, since I absolutely HATE the dentist. I was out before I knew it, awake 30 minutes later, and had no idea what had happened. I was in a little discomfort on Friday after the surgery, but since then, I have had no major issues (knock on wood!). There is still the chance that I could get a dry socket, which I have heard is absolutely awful, but I really only needed pain meds on Friday. Yesterday, I even managed to get out of the house and go exploring with a friend. We went to some hot springs in Sierraville, about an hour from here, and just spent the day relaxing and soaking. I’m convinced that the hot springs will help with my healing process. Why not?

The only thing that I am not very happy about is that I am not supposed to run for about a week. According to the dentist, any jarring motion like running can dislodge the blood clot and create a dry socket. Since I definitely do not want that, I will be listening to doctor’s orders, although I am starting to feel antsy. I’ll probably get out for an easy run on Wednesday (5 days is close enough to 7, right?) and see how that goes. I got races to train for, people! In the meantime, I’ll be hitting the stationary bike at the gym and light weights. I have been wanting to get back to lifting weights regularly anyways, so I figure this is a good time to get them back in my schedule.

I’m back to eating pretty normal, with the exception of hard, crunchy food, and have a delicious little recipe for you! And when I say little, I mean seriously little in the ingredients department, but not little in flavor. These little BBQ Bacon Balls are absolutely delicious and pack some serious flavor. I made these entree size, but you could also make them a tad bit smaller, stick them with a toothpick, and they would be a winning appetizer. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

IMG_0098BBQ Bacon Balls

Makes 4 entree-sized servings


  • 1 pound ground turkey (I like 7% fat)
  • 12 oz. applewood smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup Organicville Original BBQ sauce (divided), plus more for dipping
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix the turkey, dijon, 1/3 cup BBQ sauce, shallot, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Get out your bacon and cut each piece into two.
  4. Grab about a golf ball sized amount of the turkey mixture and form into a ball.
  5. Wrap a piece of bacon around the ball and place on a wire rack, on top of a foil-lined baking sheet (this will seriously help with clean-up).
  6. Continue making your balls and wrapping with bacon until you have used all of your turkey mixture.
  7. Top each ball with about 1 teaspoon of BBQ sauce.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the bacon has crisped and meatballs are cooked through.
  9. Dip in extra BBQ sauce and enjoy!

You could also make this with ground beef, pork, or bison, which I am sure would be equally as delicious!




If you have been to Lake Tahoe or live in the area, you have likely heard of Mt. Rose. It is the highest peak on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and stands at 10,776 feet above sea level. What you may not have heard of though is Mount Houghton or Relay Peak, both of which are challenging climbs and reward you with some amazing views.

I set out for a hike yesterday with my parent’s dog, Charlie, along for company. We decided to take the trail less traveled and try something new. We were not disappointed and had an amazing time, although both of us might still be walking funny today.

We started from the trailhead at the summit of Highway 431. From there, you follow the trail as if you were going to Mt. Rose Summit. It is well marked and not easy to miss. After about 2.5 miles, you will reach an incredible waterfall. If you wanted to summit Mt. Rose, you would cross the creek here and continue on the trail. Instead, we traveled up the waterfall and stayed on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Charlie enjoying the view from Mt. Houghton.

Charlie enjoying the view from Mt. Houghton.

After about two miles of beautiful trail and switchbacks, you will reach a sign for Mt. Houghton and Relay Peak. We followed the trail to Mt. Houghton, which was about 1 mile further. The views from the top of Mt. Houghton are beautiful. You can see Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake, Stampede Reservoir, Boca Reservoir, and even Mt. Shasta in the distance. Although it was pretty hazy from some fires we have been getting, it was still beautiful. The elevation on the top of Mt. Houghton is 10,490′.

We traveled back down the mountain and on a whim, decided to go to Relay Peak, which was about another mile away. Relay Peak stands at 10,335′ and offers some incredible views of the Lake. After we hit that summit, we came back down and ended up following the fire road to get back to the Rim Trail. This worked out perfect because we came across gorgeous Mud Lake (it’s name doesn’t do it justice) and Charlie got to swim and fetch sticks for a bit. He was one happy, but exhausted dog at the end of the day. All in all, our big loop was about 12 miles. Check out the video below of our adventure!

Taking the trail less traveled lead me to some amazing places that I have never been before. There is nothing like exploring and coming across something new that many others will simply overlook. Do you ever take the trail less traveled? Where has it led you?

Disclaimer: I have a complete running high right now so this post might seem a little scattered.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the epic race this morning! Today was the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon and it could not have been a more amazing race. It was such a great morning, there were wonderful people, and the race organizers totally nailed it! Unless something horrible prevents me from doing it next year, I will definitely be back. I am hooked on this race!

I was a little timid going into this morning’s race, since I just raced 10.3 miles last weekend in the Lake Tahoe Relay. I hadn’t completely recovered and a few toenails look like I painted them purple, but no. They’re just days away from falling off. Last weekend, I left it all on the pavement, so I wasn’t sure what my body would be up to this morning.

I run half marathons because I am only half as crazy – favorite spectator sign of the day

The race started at 8:00 am sharp (and I mean sharp, great job organizers!) at the top of Spooner summit. From there, the race followed Highway 50 into South Lake Tahoe and ended at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The first 3 miles are all downhill and my pace averaged about 9:00 min/mile. I was a little worried about my toenails and a blister I am nursing about the size of a half dollar on the bottom of my foot. Luckily, neither bothered me since the downhill was in the beginning of the race. After the first three miles, the course is rolling hills and flat, and the view doesn’t suck either. The entire time you have the amazing backdrop of Lake Tahoe to stare at. If that isn’t motivating, I don’t know what is.

The 10 miles of rolling hills and flat went really well for me. I think that I had a slight advantage being a local and training at the high elevation. I noticed a lot of people walking the hills, but I was able to keep my stride and power up them. With about three miles left in the race, the course takes a detour from the road and winds through some beautiful trails and meadows I have never explored. It was wonderful to be in the shade of the trees and take a break from the busy road.

It was at this point that I realized I was feeling pretty good and was almost done. Whaaaat?! I picked it up a bit and was able to finish really strong. I even raced another girl to the finish line which is something I totally thrive on from my old cross country days. You can take the girl out of the competition, but you can’t take the competition out of the girl. It’s something that will always stick with me. I ended up finishing in 2:02:20, which equates to a 9:21 min/mile — 4 seconds faster than my race last weekend! Overall, I was 312th out of 1,601 runners, 160th female out of 1,182, and 35th out of 186 in the 30-34 age group. I’ll take it and can’t wait to come back next year and beat my time!

Having only been running again consistently for the last 4 1/2 months, I am super proud of my progress. What’s next?! Well, right now I plan on enjoying a delicious frosty beverage and taking a nap. In two weeks, there is the 4th of July Tahoe Firecracker Trail Trek 5K, which I will begin to focus on next week. I’ll be incorporating more speed work and getting ready for a race that is a completely different animal from distance. Should be fun! What is on your schedule this summer for races?

I’m still recovering from the totally epic race this past weekend, the Lake Tahoe Relay. The first year we had a team together was 2007 and we have managed to do it almost every year since. The DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay is the oldest distance relay in the country and this was the 51st year. I hope that it continues on for a very long time, because it is by far one of my favorite races of the year.

So, what makes it so amazing? First of all, just being outside in Lake Tahoe is gorgeous no matter what the weather. But on top of that, running around the circumference of the Lake is a truly beautiful thing. Combine that with spending the day with amazingly supportive and inspirational people, and you have a recipe for a day that just can’t be beat.

A few of us at the start, bright and early!

A few of us at the start, bright and early!

The seven person relay starts at 7:00 am in South Lake Tahoe and travels the 72 miles around the Lake. With a team of seven, each team member runs about 10 miles, give or take a few. The legs range from downhill to flat to rolling to steady, long climbs. There is something for everyone. The leg that I have run year after year is leg #3, which travels from Spooner summit North to Incline Village. The net elevation change is a decline, which can leave your toes and shins screaming. Pretty sure I am going to lose a few toenails…I am hoping that they simmer down before my half marathon on Saturday (which is less than two days away now, eek). I ain’t got no time for soreness! Oh well. It was a great day and I averaged a 9:25 minute per mile pace, which is about 30 seconds faster per mile than I was aiming for.

I annoyed my teammates all day long and took video of our adventure around the Lake. Take a look for yourself and put this race on your list for future events. You won’t regret it!

I had my first big race of the season yesterday, The Lake Tahoe Relay! It was a very hot day for Lake Tahoe, with temperatures in the 80s, but I still managed to finish about :30/mile faster than my goal! I was fortunate enough to run with a team of inspiring and fun coworkers and friends, which made for a great day. Above is a picture of some of us above Emerald Bay. I captured our day on video and will be putting together a post for you with a race recap. Stay tuned and make sure to follow my blog to get notified when that is up.

Next weekend, I am looking forward to the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon and am going to be taking it pretty easy this week as far as training goes. I did the same last week to make sure that I was well-rested for two back-to-back weekends with races over 10 miles. I think my strategy is paying off and I felt pretty good going into yesterday’s race. Below is what last week looked like for training:

  • Monday 6/8 – Easy 6 mile run, 10:02/mile pace.
  • Tuesday 6/9 – 30 minute tempo run. I struggled with this one and really only did about 20 minutes at the pace I was hoping (9:00/mile).
  • Wednesday 6/10 – Rest day and dentist. Yay!
  • Thursday 6/11 – Easy 2.5 miles on the Flume trail with my pup.
  • Friday 6/12 – Rest day.
  • Saturday 6/13 – Race day! 10.3 miles at 9:25/mile pace.
  • Sunday 6/14 – Rest day. Pretty sore from the race so I took it easy with a relaxing day on the Lake paddle boarding.

Total running miles: 21.8 miles

Total paddling miles: 2 miles

Next week, I plan on having a similar schedule, although my run tomorrow will probably be only about 4 miles. I’m also planning on making sure to get adequate stretching and foam rolling. As much as I hate the foam roller, I know that it is a huge help in recovering and working knots out.

That’s the plan, hopefully all goes to schedule. Lucky me is schedule to report for jury duty tomorrow, so hopefully I am not sequestered somewhere. I am all about performing my civil duty, but it would be nice if they could plan that around your racing and work schedule. Geez. How inconsiderate.

What are some of the other ways you try to recover quickly from a race? Share any of your favorite home remedies in the comments.

Happy Friday! Are you ready for the weekend? Are you doing anything fun? Yes and yes, for me! There are only hours till the Lake Tahoe Relay and I have to say, I haven’t looked forward to a race this much in years, regular pre-race nerves aside. This will be the fifth time I have participated in this race, but I’ve missed out on it the past two years. Last year I was physically unable to do it. I was out of shape and dealing with some Achilles issues. Those are behind me and I have been working my butt off to get in shape over the past five months. It’s game time.

I’ve always loved running because it is about pushing yourself to be the best you can be, but when you have a team relying on you, there is even more motivation to perform at the highest level you can. I’m ready to tackle my 10 1/2 mile leg tomorrow and will definitely let you know how it goes. Hopefully well, because I have the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon next weekend. Hello racing season. It is nice to see you again!

With all this hard work and racing, I think I deserve a little treat. What’s a delicious little treat that makes me happy? Chocolate. Duh. Not only are these brownies decadent and delicious, but they are also much healthier than their refined grain and sugar cousins. These brownies won’t make you feel like garbage eating them and are extremely low in sugar and carbs. Enjoy this treat without feeling guilty, just try not to eat the whole pan.

IMG_0048Double-Chocolate Paleo Brownies


  • 1 cup smooth almond butter (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (shake well before opening)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (or some other good quality chocolate chip, dairy is fine if you can tolerate it)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease an 8×8 glass baking pan with coconut oil. Set aside.
  3. Combine almond butter, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt. An electric mixer is best for this.
  4. Add cocoa powder, sugar, and 2/3 cup chocolate chips. Mix well.
  5. Pour into greased pan and top with nuts and leftover chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool before cutting…or at least try to let them cool before you dig in.

So simple and so delicious! What are some of your favorite treats when you have been working extra hard? Let me know in the comments.



A day like today is just calling for comfort food. It is raining in Lake Tahoe (which I absolutely love) and I had to go to my favorite place in the whole-wide world, the dentist. One of my goals for this year was to start going to the dentist again… I may or may not have gone like 8 years without going… Anyways, I am back on track and just had a little filling completed today. As much as I wish I never had to go to the dentist, I am learning in my “older” age how much dental health relates to your overall health. It wasn’t as bad as I remember 8 years ago and am glad to be getting things taken care of proactively. Anyways, fillings and rain made me really want some good ol’ comfort food. I also wanted something that could be put together in 30 minutes or less.

One of my favorite go-tos that fit this bill are zoodles. If you have never heard of zoodles before, your life is about to change forever. Forever, I tell you. Making zoodles is fun and a SUPER healthy alternative to traditional pasta. All you need is a spiralizer (here and here are some good ones) and zucchini, and boom, you have zoodles. There is so much you can do with zoodles. You can make shrimp scampi, serve with meatballs, top with meat sauce, or just enjoy with some butter, parmesan cheese, and pretend you are five again. For me, I love making zoodles with ground turkey and a combination of red and pesto sauces. There is something about the marriage between the tomato and pesto that is just a match made in heaven. Next time you are craving something comforting, give this recipe a try or get creative in the kitchen and come up with your own combination for zoodles. I promise, you won’t be sorry.

IMG_0029Zoodles with Pesto Ground Turkey

Makes 2 servings


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (cremini or button)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nut pesto
  • 2 medium-large zucchini
  • 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce (I can’t live without Kissino)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add the coconut oil to a large pan over medium heat. After coconut oil has melted, add the onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Sauté until soft and the mushrooms are starting to turn golden brown.
  2. Add your ground turkey to the pan and break up into small chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink in the center.
  3. While your turkey is cooking, spiralize your zucchini. Set aside.
  4. Add half of the pesto to the pan and incorporate with the turkey. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Remove the turkey mixture from the pan and set aside.
  5. Add the zoodles and red sauce to the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes. You really don’t want to cook the zoodles too long. I prefer them barely cooked, so I really just cook them until heated through.
  6. Transfer your zoodles and red sauce to two plates. Top with your turkey and leftover pesto. I also like to garnish mine with some fresh cherry tomatoes.

That’s it! This is so easy, it probably shouldn’t even be a recipe. Let me know if you try it or what your favorite way to eat zoodles is. Get inspiralized!


Beautiful morning paddling yesterday...until it started to rain.

Beautiful morning paddling yesterday…until it started to rain.

Only one week left till my first big race of the season! This time next week, I will have finished the Lake Tahoe Relay and looking forward to the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon the following weekend. I am a little nervous about back-to-back races, but I am feeling excited at the same time. I haven’t had a “big” race (over 5k) in two years and I love the feeling that comes with them. Butterflies at the start, determination in the middle, and accomplishment at the finish. There is truly nothing quite like it.

With some big weeks coming up, I decided to gear down a bit this week, or “taper,” as anyone training for a half marathon or longer refers to it. I was also feeling my hike to the top of Mt. Tallac till about Wednesday, so being nice to my body and not over stressing it was a must. That meant taking my mileage down slightly, but I was still working on speed to try and improve pace. Right now, my long runs have been in the 10:30 per mile range, and I really want to be under 10:00 on race day. Hopefully the interval run and pace run I did this week will help. So, here’s what my week looked like:

  • Monday 6/1 – It’s June! Holy crap. Where did the time go? Feeling pretty sore from a long run on Saturday and the summit hike on Sunday, I took today off from running and got a long walk in with the pup.
  • Tuesday 6/2 – Ditto.
  • Wednesday 6/3 – Ran on my favorite trail with my favorite little furry running buddy for National Running Day! It was an awesome run and we just had fun. Didn’t worry about pace or total mileage, but we got 3.25 miles in.
  • Thursday 6/4 – This was definitely a good, quality run. It consisted of a mile warm-up at about 10:30 pace, followed by 8 x 400 meter intervals. The intervals were at 9:00 per mile pace with 11:00 per mile pace recovery in-between. I love intervals and always have. My total mileage for the day was 5.36.
  • Friday 6/5 – Ran on the Flume trail again with the fur kid. Once again, didn’t worry about pace or total milage, but it was about 3.25 miles.
  • Saturday 6/6 – Today was a cross training day and I started it with an hour of spin class in the morning, followed by a couple of hours on the Lake paddle boarding. It was a beautiful day, until it started raining. We got off the Lake just in time.
  • Sunday 6/7 – 8.1 mile morning run at 10:43 pace. This was my last “long” run till my race next weekend. It’s all downhill from here!

Total running miles: 20.46

Total paddling miles: 2

Total spinning miles: 13.8

Next week, I’ll gear it down a little more leading up to the race. There is no point in going balls-out this time of year, only to get injured and be sidelined for the rest of the racing season. Train smarter, not harder. Right?! What are some ways you gear up, or down, leading up to a big race?

It seems like there is a national holiday for just about everything these days. National Brownie Day, National Leave Work Early Day (that was yesterday in case you missed it…I did), National Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Ball Point Pen Day (really?), the list goes on… However, one day that I can totally get behind is National Running Day, which happens to be today. Lucky you!

National Running Day was designated for all hardcore and wanna-be runners alike. So whether you are a newbie or a seasoned marathoner, get out there and run today! According to the Running Day website, it is also a day for “runners to join in by planning a run, spreading the running bug to a friend, signing up for a race, or setting a new goal.”

My favorite running partner and I mid-run. Selfie break!

Me and my favorite running partner. Mid-run selfie!

So, how am I going to celebrate this all-American holiday? BBQ and beer like every other ‘merican holiday, duh. Just kidding. I am going to go for a run with my favorite little furry running buddy, of course! It won’t be a long or fast run today (I am still really sore from my weekend long run and hike to the summit of Mt. Tallac), but it will be fun and I will enjoy every second of being able to do something that brings me so much happiness. Running is a privilege and I am just so grateful that I am able to do something that so many other people either cannot physically partake in or do not have the discipline to do.

If you are a runner, celebrate your passion and commitment to the sport today. Not everyone physically can or chooses to run and you should be proud of your bad ass self. Run today for someone who can’t. While you are out there, think about how lucky you are to be in the moment. Think about how much your mind and body thanks you for doing something for YOU. Think about how you are a better person because of this simple, no-frills required, primal sport called running. Think about what running goals you want to accomplish in the second half of the year. Runners are some of the most disciplined people I know and anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

Now, if you are not a runner and are thinking, ‘Whatever. I could do that. I just don’t want to.’ (like many ex-boyfriends have said to me over the years), today is a good day to just give it a try. Grab a friend (the two-legged or four-legged kind) and go for a run. It doesn’t have to be long. It doesn’t have to be fast. And it doesn’t have to be pretty. Just do me one favor, wake up tomorrow and the next day and the next day and do the same thing. Stick to it for two weeks minimum. Don’t just go for one run and say, “That sucked. I’m never doing that again.” Runners are not born overnight (okay, in Kenya they are) and it takes time and determination to get to a place where you will really enjoy it. Two weeks seems to be the amount of time it takes for things to begin to click. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Are you a runner or someone who aspires to be? What are you going to do for National Running Day to celebrate?

Mt. Tallac, or “Great Mountain” as translated in Washoe, is the highest peak closest to the shores of Lake Tahoe. It stands 9,735’ above sea level and this weekend I stood on the tippy top to make it just over 9,740’ for a second. The trail to reach the top is one of the most strenuous in the area, but the views are worth every burning step. Hello calves and hamstrings!

I have been lucky to call Lake Tahoe “home” for nearly 25 years and in all my time here, I have never tackled the mountain. The idea to take it on started like all great ideas do, sitting around and drinking a beer with friends. At first we had the really great idea to do it with our snowboards and ride down. I am glad that we realized that was a really bad idea when we had a clear conscious the next day. Although there are hardcore skiers and snowboarders that will hike the mountain with their gear to enjoy the crazy chutes and open bowls, it is no joke. A daypack with LOTS of water, some food, and a long sleeve shirt was more than enough to carry up the mountain on my back.

We left Incline Village on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe a little after 9:00 am and made it to the trailhead at 10:00. The trailhead is pretty easy to find and there is a decent amount of parking. If you are hiking in the popular summer months of June to August, make sure that you get there early to beat the crowds and the heat. Click here or here for more info. Also, when you get to the trailhead, you will have to fill out a permit to enter Desolation Wilderness. One form for each group is fine and I think they really only do it to keep track of all the people that get eaten by bears. Just kidding. Don’t be scared now.

From the trailhead, you might as well plan on sucking wind for the next 4.5 miles. Over that distance, you will climb 3,255’ to the summit. The first part of the trail is little more mellow, but still has an uphill pitch. It winds through a beautiful forest with some amazing views and then comes to the first of two lakes after 1.6 miles, Floating Island Lake. After that, there is more beautiful trail for 0.7 miles until you reach Cathedral Lake. Make sure to stop here, enjoy the view, and drink up. After this stop, you have 2.5 miles to the top.

The next section of the hike is pretty intense. There are also a lot of loose (and I mean, really loose) rocks to navigate, so be careful and don’t try this in your flip flops! Once you get up the steepest part of the mountain, you will reach the ridge top and follow it all the way to the summit. The ridge is beautiful and borders on Desolation Wilderness. There were some wildflowers starting to come up this time of year, but I can only imagine how breathtaking it is in peak season.

Once you reach the rocky summit, you will be rewarded with one of the most amazing views of Lake Tahoe I have ever seen. Views of Fallen Leaf Lake, Cascade Lake, and Emerald Bay add to the “wow” factor. We stayed up top for a couple of hours to enjoy the view, cheers a celebratory brew, and make friends with the chipmunks and yellow-bellied marmots. They are everywhere up there and so cute. Just don’t be tempted to feed them no matter how cute they are or what they tell you.

On the way back down, make sure to take your time. All the loose rock is an accident waiting to happen and you certainly don’t want it to be you. By the time you make the 4.5 mile trek downhill, your quads, knees, and toes will have never been happier to see your car. All-in-all, you can count on being reunited with your car in about 6-8 hours round trip.

I would recommend this hike for advanced hikers only. Although you can go out to one of the beautiful lakes and back, the main attraction here is really the summit. The trail is pretty well marked, so even if you are not familiar with the area, you should be able to follow along by paying attention to signs. Let me know if you get the chance to do it or have ever done it before. What are some of your other favorite hikes?

Week-end Rewind: 5/25 – 5/31

I just have to start off by saying that this was an amazing weekend! I hope that you all had great weekends, too and got to do something fun outside. In Tahoe, it was absolutely gorgeous this weekend, minus some high clouds, but I’ll take it. Yesterday, I got a good long run in the morning and then spent a few hours on the lake paddle boarding. Today, I did something that I have never done in the 25 years I have lived here. I summited Mt. Tallac. It was a challenge, but the views were worth it. I am putting together a video blog post for you on it, so make sure you subscribe to my blog in the right side of the page to see my adventure. In the meantime, the top image is of me on the highest point of the peak.

A well-earned brew at the top of Mt. Tallac.

A well-earned brew at the top of Mt. Tallac.

I can’t believe that there are less than two weeks left till my first big race of the season! Lots of fun things are going on and I am glad that I have spent the past four months really training to make sure that I am ready. This past week, I was really concentrating on quality runs (both speed and length). Here’s the week-end rewind:

  • Monday 5/25 – No work for Memorial Day. I took advantage of the day off and got a long run in the morning, since I skipped it over the previous weekend. 8.5 miles at 10:36 pace.
  • Tuesday 5/26 – It was a cool afternoon with some thunder clouds in the distance, so I decided to take my pup to my favorite trail for a fun 3.5 miles. Didn’t bring a watch with me, so I have no idea what my pace was.
  • Wednesday 5/27 – I had an appointment for torture in the afternoon (aka the dentist), so I ran in the morning before work on my treadmill. 30 minute tempo run at 4:30 am. Fun. Not.
  • Thursday 5/28 – Cross-training was a long paddle board session in the afternoon. I am totally obsessed with my new board. Being on the lake is amazing, and man, is it a killer workout for your arms, back, core, and legs.
  • Friday 5/29 – After hitting it pretty hard all week, I decided to take today off and gear up for the weekend.
  • Saturday 5/30 – Woke up early for a 12-miler. The temperature was perfect and I even ran into my boss, who was also on a run. We ran together for two miles and it was a great pick-me-up in the middle of my run (2 miles at 9:30 pace). The benefits of living in a small town… My final mileage was 11.7 miles at 10:36 pace (I have no idea how my pace was exactly the same as my run on Monday, weird). After my run, I went paddle boarding for a few hours.
  • Sunday 5/31 – Woke up and tackled Mt. Tallac. The total mileage was about 10 miles out-and-back with 3,000′ of elevation gain. I’ve included a picture of the amazing view here, but stay tuned for more to come. I’m just too tired tonight to get anything else together. What a day!

Total Running Miles: 26.7

Total Hiking Miles: 10

Total Paddling Miles: 6

I’m exhausted, but ready to tackle another week. What did you do this past week to feed your soul? What goals do you have for next week? One of my goals is more sleep. On that note, goodnight!

It’s the weekend! I don’t know about you, but short weeks after a long weekend are always rough. There is lots of work to be done, fewer days to cram it into, and everything just feels out of whack. I’m so looking forward to this weekend and spending some quality time outside. And the weather finally isn’t crap anymore!

Tomorrow I have 12 miles to run in the morning and paddle boarding after. Then on Sunday, some friends and I are hiking Mt. Tallac. So, what does that mean? Better fuel up! One of the things that has been the hardest for me while following a primal lifestyle, is trying to find good carb options to keep me fueled on my long runs. Grains, pasta, bread, and all the other traditional carb sources for runners are off the table. It has taken some adjusting, but I have finally found what works for me to keep me going, and doesn’t contribute to inflammation and make me feel like garbage. Enter, sweet potatoes. They are a great complex carbohydrate, have a low glycemic index, and are packed with vitamins. When I have lots of activity planned, I make sure that I eat at least one sweet potato a day. My favorite way to make them is cutting them into fries, tossing with olive oil and spices, and oven roasting. The result is a slightly sweet, salty, and deliciously nutritious side dish or snack.

I have gotten quite a few questions on how to make sweet potato fries. While they aren’t very hard to make, there are a few things that you want to make sure you do to get the best results. Here is a simple way to cook them up and a wonderful sauce to dip them in on the side. So, whether you have a super active day or just want a healthy alternative to regular fries, give these sweet potato fries a try.

IMG_9991Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce


  • Sweet potatoes (generally one small per person)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and seasoning of choice (I love Arty’s Party Rub on these!)
  • 1/4 cup homemade mayo
  • 1 tablespoon Annie’s dijon
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos


  1. Scrub the sweet potatoes but don’t peel them. There are a lot of nutrients in the skin and you don’t want to miss out on those!
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes into sticks 1/4 inch wide. I find, the smaller I cut the fries, the more evenly browned they get.
  3. Place the sweet potatoes into a large bowl of ice water and allow to sit for 1-2 hours. While you can skip this step (and I often do), it results in a wonderful texture that is slightly crisper.
  4. Drain the sweet potatoes from the water and toss in a large bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil per potato.
  5. Add seasoning (chili powder is great) and salt. I also like these with just salt as the seasoning.
  6. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. It is very important that the sweet potatoes do NOT touch. If they touch, they will steam and be soggy. No one wants soggy fries so take your time and line them up all neat and perfect.
  7. Bake at 400°F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
  8. While the sweet potatoes are baking, mix all remaining ingredients to make your sauce. Let chill in your fridge until the sweet potatoes are done.
  9. Dip the golden brown potatoes into your sauce and enjoy!

What are some of your favorite ways to cook sweet potatoes? Comment below and then go get outside this weekend!

Season with whatever you like, but I highly recommend Arty's Party Rub. See how you can get your hands on some.

Season with whatever you like, but I highly recommend Arty’s Party Rub. See how you can get your hands on some.

Take time and make sure that they are NOT touching. Don't just throw them on the pan.

Take time and make sure that they are NOT touching. Don’t just throw them on the pan.

Dip a little, or dip a lot.

Dip a little, or dip a lot.