Renee Elsdon Jacobs is a Truckee-based mountain runner/mama bear/engineering superhero. She’s been a huge influence on me, personally, and helped me push my mountain skills to better serve my own playtime in the mountains. Renee’s a talented runner, mountaineer, splitboarder, and climber – her versatility is as impressive as her character. I couldn’t be more proud to call her a friend, and am excited to see what her running future holds for her!
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in a very scrappy town in the “armpit” of California – Bakersfield. Despite being relatively close to the coast and the mountains, it was one of those places where teenagers weren’t interested in anything other than hanging out in strip mall parking lots/malls and getting into trouble in the orchards. I didn’t have any friends or mentors that were outdoor enthusiasts and was completely ignorant about the existence of essentially all of my current hobbies until college or after! It took me many years to discover my passion for endorphins and exploring my limits, a path which really started at Berkeley, where I went to college and met climbers, backpackers, mountaineers, cyclists, runners, etc. At some point I found myself driving to the mountains almost every weekend and dating someone that did the same. When our landlord decided to kick us out to sell the house, we decided to relocate to Truckee and we haven’t looked back since. I am now married to and have a child with that wonderful man (Matt Jacobs).
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I’d say I am a late-bloomer, for sure! Although my mom was a runner, which led me to grow up running, she was a relatively short-distance runner and I never really though of running more than 3-5 miles at a time on a semi-regular basis to get a bit of exercise. It wasn’t until college that I met other runners and developed a desire to run a marathon, which I saw at the time to be the penultimate running goal! I seriously didn’t even know that ultra running was a thing, let alone foot races as long as 100 miles, until moving to Truckee about 7 years ago (when I was in my early 30’s)! I started getting really excited about long-distance running (primarily as a component of remote mountaineering objectives) relatively recently – over the past 5 years or so, I have been learning about nutrition and training and working on incrementally increasing mileage. I love being able to complete a mountaineering objective in a significantly shorter amount of time using running. For example, Mt Clark is a peak that dominates the Yosemite High Country like a king on a throne, overlooking half dome. It is a very aesthetic peak with a 15-mile approach (starting from Happy Isles trailhead) and includes a class 4 finish. Running the majority of the route allowed my partner and I to complete our outing in about 12 hours, rather than the 2 or 3 days that others might allow.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
I race rarely… Although I know I have a competitive streak, I find that I like doing things on my own terms and on my own schedule, and my interests generally diverge from what races offer. Specifically, I like being able to reschedule if the weather is not cooperating, push myself on days that I feel good, only run single-track through wilderness areas if I am so inclined, and I only recently discovered that some running events actually have some of the qualities I enjoy from tough mountaineering objectives (like the Castle Peak 100k!). I also still feel like a newbie and need to prove myself to myself before going public. 🙂 The thing that motivates me most is breaking through what I previously thought impossible for me, whether that be leading/free soloing a particular climbing grade, running ultra distances on a regular basis, ski ascents of intimidating peaks…
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
My current “dream” event is going for the women’s FKT for the CA 14ers. However, for the first season ever, I have managed to achieve weekly mileage in the 30-40 range and run ultra distances without injury! In previous seasons, I’ve always hit a wall with injuries, which started making me think I was just not cut out for the ultra running thing. This season I think I’ve finally figured out the key in my training, which makes me start fantasizing about those 100K and even 100 mile race events again…
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy? Favorite post-run meal or beverage?
YES! I am a trail food geek and I love geeking out with anyone that cares about athletic nutrition. My pantry is filled with freeze-dried food so I can make instant gourmet camp meals at a moments notice. Though I don’t subscribe to any particular diet (I am skeptical of the latest fads…), through a blood test and elimination diet, I discovered some food allergies/sensitivities that has led me to avoid gluten, egg yolks, and cow milk products. I’ve also learned the importance of protein and through a period of tracking everything I ate, discovered exactly what it takes to meet my protein goals (such as eating egg whites for breakfast almost daily). This makes my system run a lot better during endurance events (e.g. fewer emergency trips behind bushes in the middle of a run)!
Right now my favorites include:
post-run recovery beverage = shelf-stable chocolate-flavored nut milk + two generous scoops of vegan chocolate protein powder + iced water (e.g. a frozen nalgene that’s been sitting in the car during the run)
post-event treat on hot days= chilled (water)melon with salt
ginger kombucha (home brew) is my secret for tummy recovery after an especially long day that has my tummy in knots
mid-run special treat = homemade gluten-free banana bread, which also happens to be vegan (I have a recipe to share!) or a big hunk of yummy cheese (like aged goat milk cheddar)
running food staples = kind bars, power bar power gels, salt stick caps, potato chips, and I recently fell in love with baked sweet potato
Off the trail, eat home-cooked, organic, local food that is as close to straight from the ground/off the animal as possible.
After a big event, the meal(s) of choice = (grass-fed, local beef) cheese burger on a (gluten free) bun (w/bacon and avocado if possible!) w/ some sweet potato fries, a big side salad covered in goodies, and a beer for dinner. Then, egg whites, (gluten-free, whole-grain) pancakes, and bacon for breakfast the next day please! My tummy enjoys multi-day recovery 🙂
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
The recipe I use+love for gluten free vegan banana bread/muffins is from minimalist baker.
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
Tuolumne to Mammoth with my best friend and mountaineering partner, Liz. It was a dream run that I’ve had my eye on for years. It was great to finally do it with a good friend, who’s husband happened to be down to drive us from Mammoth to Tuolumne!
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
Having/raising a baby! Tyler was born August 2017
What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
This season, I am excited to explore pushing my weekly mileage and long run distances to see just how far I can continue going without injuring myself! Next season, I want to find a good late-season 100K and find some good trail marathons and 50Ks to train for it.
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I have spent most of my adult life as a weekend warrior in a 40-hr/week desk job, doing structural engineering and architecture. It certainly is a challenge to squeeze in training in on the weekdays with that schedule and I essentially gave up on every achieving the level of fitness that would be required to run a 100-mile race (in addition to setbacks from injuries). Having my son last year threw whatever balance I might have had completely out of whack, which prompted me to put work on the back-burner. This has significantly improved our family life but has also given me more time to increase my weekly running mileage and also have some flexibility to do things like organize the DPMR mid-morning run. I am really enjoying meeting local runners!
What led you to join the DPMR?
My friend, Chris Cloyd! I couldn’t help but be attracted to a group of crazy running folk that are also into keeping things mellow and approachable to the less experienced out there. DMPR is a great group. Kudos to all of you that spend so much time making that happen!
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
I have not been able to join many events in the past (because of my hectic schedule), but I really liked Chris’ Mellow Fellow-to-Mellow Fellow run a few years ago and look forward to running the TMBC-to-TMBC run this season.
Favorite local trail?
I am inspired by exploring new trails/terrain so I’d say my favorite trail is the one I haven’t run yet! But I’ve probably run the Martis Valley trails the most, because I have a dog that runs with me. I like it because it’s close to home and has lots of water for her (and me) throughout the summer and great loop options of all sizes (when you start venturing into the Northstar/Martis Camp network).
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
Mountaineering, climbing, alpine skiing, snowboarding, backountry skiing/splitboarding, nordic skiing, yoga, cycling, mountain biking. I used to think that this was enough cross-training and that I didn’t need any additional gym/PT work to keep me in running shape, but I’ve learned the error of my ways and now I am also doing Barre and/or strength training at home, ideally once a week.
Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
Ha ha I feel embarrassed to have already talked about myself so much and think your questions have covered everything I can think of!