Simone’s enthusiasm for life, friendship, running, Truckee, and all things Austrian are contagious. I recently watched a video of Simone explaining her career path (biomedical engineering) to Austrian school children and even though I couldn’t understand anything she was saying, I was enchanted by her passion and gusto. I’m proud to introduce you to our December Member Highlight, my friend and fellow Donner Party Mountain Runner, Simone!
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I am originally from the Austrian alps (grew up in a ski resort with a lake, much like Truckee!), and I’ve lived in Montreal, Canada, for 8 years before moving to the SF Bay Area with my wonderful husband Karl! Truckee reminds me so much of home that I like to visit regularly and would love run with the Donner Party Mountain Runners in the future!!
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I started running in late 2014 and ran my first marathon in April 2015, followed by the first 50k in October 2015! Originally I started because of a bad back injury, which hadn’t subsided after almost two years in pain. The running removed all that! It also helped my underactive thyroid and generally made me feel alive! In 2016 I met my husband Karl through running and we’re now an inseparable ultrarunning couple!
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
Yes! I love running ultras, but also like speedy road races. I don’t race all races at full intensity, sometimes I just like to go to a race to meet people and feel the enthusiastic and uniquely authentic vibe of the running community. I always race with flowers in my hair – a tribute to much of the personal emotional healing I have gone through. Both the running activity and the running community have been so instrumental in my feeling much better – and I like to emphasize that happiness with my flowers.
On top of my personal goals I like to pace road races and help other runners succeed with their time goals. It is immensely rewarding! I pace with a few groups, among them Beast Pacing and the Tri Valley Running Club!
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
I just completed my first 100 mile race – which was somewhat of a dream. Due to the health problems above I would have never thought I could do this. In the past few years however I sorted a lot of health issues, and having completed this milestone marks a new beginning for me – one of full health!
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy? Favorite post-run meal or beverage?
I am intolerant to dairy, so my choices are a tad limited! I use Lara Bars! I also don’t do well with lots of sugar, and so in races I limit myself to mostly chips and potatoes with salt. I only drink limited amounts of sports drink because of the sugar and try to get the electrolytes from salt caps. I do love caffeine! In longer ultras I prepare split pea soup with ham ahead of time!
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
Split pea soup: buy the Fresno Split Pea Soup package from Safeway, follow instructions (extremely easy), cut up ham and insert when the soup is almost done!
I also had Risotto with porcini and ham in my 100 miler, would love to share the recipe!
There is also a great book called “Feed Zone Portables” and I made some of the rice squares/balls because it was a neat way to avoid sugar and get good food for my race!
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
My 100 miler, and also a new half marathon PR in Sacramento. I started this year out pretty slowly and out of shape for thyroid health reasons, and by the end of the year I had not only sped up significantly but had also tackled my first >50 mile race (FLUT 110k), followed by the Rio 100 miler. I ran 7 ultras on the PA-USATF roster and was able to win the series without planning on it at the beginning of the year. Very exciting!
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
I faced some challenging times as a woman in the ultrarunning sport and was at the brink of leaving the USATF PA ultra series. Before leaving however I decided I could try to make a change and make things more enjoyable for us ladies! With my USATF club Excelsior in San Francisco I have become the women’s team captain and have started to build up a great women’s team for both ultrarunning and road running, with XC to follow next year. The sport needs more support for women and more women members! Ladies rule! We have a great team now, always looking for new motivated ladies, no matter the pace! Every month we hold a ladies run in a beautiful location, followed by BBQ or picnic. Come and join in to see if you like it!
What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
I don’t have set personal plans. I’d like to run a marathon PR, either at CIM or at Boston next year. Beyond that, at this point I am more invested in the sport for women as a whole but I am sure personal goals will pop up here and there.
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I am a biomedical engineering researcher at Stanford and likely soon professor at Cornell. I also own an engineering business and a portrait studio. I love combining both the sciences and the arts in my professional career. My schedule is full but highly flexible, which makes it fairly easy to find time for running. I work a lot and so running is much needed. For instance when I get a pesky email, the way to forget about it is by running!
What led you to join the DPMR?
My awesome friend Jenelle and my love for Truckee as it is so similar to my Austrian hometown!
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
I joined one of the midweek runs and the Donner Ski Lodge party! All people were so wonderful! I also really enjoy my friendship with Jenelle and her posts and stories about the club!
Favorite local trail?
I am still exploring – I love the PCT at Donner Peak, and a little further away I love the Flume Trail / TRT loop with Snow Valley Peak from Spooner Lake.
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
I am an avid professional photographer, love swing dancing, ski touring, and languages!
Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
I would love to hear from you as I am new to the club! Find me on Facebook here, I’d be delighted given that I am new to your running area! Also consider joining one of our ladies runs each month! Being part of our club does not interfere with the DPMR as it is more related to scoring points at races that are on the USATF roster! In fact, I am member of both! Get in touch if you have questions, or even just to chat, no matter the club interest!