(Introduction by Adam Kimble)
Though he’s lived in the Truckee-Tahoe area since 2000, you may not yet be familiar with Steve Buelna. Now that he has done what he’s done in 2017, chances are far greater that you’ll see his smiling face on the trails or at a local race! Ever since Steve decided he wanted to lose a few pounds, he has gone down to what he refers as “the rabbit hole.” Having never run a race in his life prior to 2017, Steve has run a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon and most recently the Alibi to Alibi 50k all in just one year. And the best part about it, as Steve will tell you- every race is a PR!
On this incredible journey, Steve has found immense joy in something that used to be nothing but a punishment. Thirty pounds and many races later, he still can’t stop saying “yes” to any new opportunity to race with the amazing people in the DPMR community. It’s easy to forget that this is his first full season of running, because he never seems to stop!
So, whether you’re attending the Salomon group runs, at Performance Training Center taking the TRX class, or you see a big smile on some guy riding a Harley Davidson, you’ll come to recognize Steve. And if you have a big race coming up, keep this in mind: Steve’s running buddies tend to win races. Is that a coincidence? Steve doesn’t think so!
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m originally from Los Osos, near San Luis Obispo. Then I “grew up” (in theory anyway. I really am trying to never grow up) in the Bay Area. I have lived in Truckee since 2000.
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I just began running the beginning of this year. And for me, even the first run seemed like a long distance! But my first longer run was the Squaw Half, then Truckee Marathon, Great Trail Race, and the best 50K ever! I first started running to try to add some cardio and lose some weight. But the challenge, sense of accomplishment, pure amazement of how far it was possible to run, the epic scenery, and awesome friendships I have formed have kept me going.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? if not racing, what motivates you?
I do. I really like the atmosphere of the race. It’s exciting. You are surrounded by other people working on their own goals (whatever those might be). But mostly I like that it gives me a goal to make sure I keep diligent with training. I find that I fall off real quick if I don’t have a goal to shoot for.
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
Not at this time. So far every opportunity has just happened. I’m sure as I get further down the road (pun intended) I will develop some personal goals. But at this time I am just trying my best to not say no to things that I might be able to do.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy? Favorite post-run meal or beverage?
Gu, definitely Gu. I’m totally kidding. Race nutrition is definitely a struggle I am having once I got to distances over 20 miles. So I’m a total science experiment at this point, trying to figure out what works.
Post run meal, for the big ones, is always pizza and beer! And so far I will NOT waiver on this. Haha.
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
Man that is tough. I would say the whole year has been my favorite. I had a couch to 50k season. Not only did I lose 30 pounds in the process, I gained some seriously awesome friends. But if I were to highlight a couple moments, it would be seeing my awesome support team at the Truckee Marathon. They definitely kept my stoke level high that day. The Alibi crew cheering as dark was drawing near, Cloyd clapping at the top of the hill at Cottonwood, my bear encounter during the 50K. That was pretty cool! What has been awesome about my whole year is that literally EVERY race has been a PR for me!
What was the best race advice you’ve ever received?
I would say the best advice I heard was to not get caught up leaving the start line. I would have definitely blown up in every race if I hadn’t heard that. That and to be mentally prepared for what can go wrong before it does. To work that out in your mind before the race day. That helped me to push through at the marathon for sure.
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
I would have to say the last third of the Alibi to Alibi 50k. It was weird to be out in the middle of nowhere, not seeing anyone else for the last half of the run, and pushing through the pain to finish before dark. Eventhough I had planned contingencies for an emergency evac, I didn’t once think that quitting was an option.
What race PR are you most proud of?
So far I have tried to establish several goals for each race. So for the Squaw Half, I set goals of 1) finish, 2) don’t walk, and 3) finish sub 2 hours. And that race, I got them all.
I’m definitely most proud of the Truckee Marathon tho. I missed my time goal, but I did run the whole thing, not to mention just finishing it. And based on the first half of the race and heart rate issues, I was stoked that I stuck it out and finished strong.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made during a race?
Setting my heart rate alarm. It was going off for the first 10 miles of my marathon. I need to adjust for nerves and learn to not worry.
What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
To be determined. In the next year I will definitely do another marathon because I want to break the 4 hour time barrier.
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I’m a city planner for Placer County. So far my boss has been super supportive of my new found hobby. So I haven’t had to miss too too much because of work.
What led you to join the DPMR?
All of my running friends are members.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
Definitely the 50K. That was just SO awesome. An ultra wasn’t even something I could fathom, least of all consider doing myself. And completing it without aid stations was super cool.
Favorite local trail?
I’m going to say Legacy Trail JUST to make Cloyd’s blood boil. But I really liked running the Flume Trail, or any portion of the Tahoe Rim Trail.
What’s your typical weekly mileage these days?
I’m staying at about 30 miles a week currently.
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
Mountain Bike, Snowboard, Fly Fishing, and my Harley
Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
My exposure to running up until this year was simply punishment during soccer practice. The idea of running for “fun” was completely stupid to me. I am blown away at how much joy it has brought me this year and how it truly has been a turning point in my life.