(Introduction by Sean Flanagan, Interview by Renee Elsdon Jacobs)
I am 97% sure Abbey Drake, our March Member Highlight, has an identical twin. Besides being the backbone and co-race director for all of Epic Endurance Events races, Abbey somehow finds the time to do a bit of running herself. That’s of course after her additional contributions to our running community, a full time job, being a mother, planning new races, and commuting between three towns.
Abbey has very well helped shaped our ultra-running community in to what it is today. A snapshot of her resume will highlight some of the biggest races in the region, including but not limited to the Tahoe Rim Tour Endurance Runs, Escape from Prison Hill Half-Marathon, The Canyons Endurance Runs, and even the prestigious Western States Endurance Run. If you raced, volunteered, were a spectator or just heard about any of these races, chances are you have met Abbey and seen the magic she works.
Typically a Miracle March brings snow but with this historic winter, I hope it brings some sunshine. Because if it does, we may just see our Abbey toe the line at one local race she has had her eye on since it’s inaugural year! Read on to find out how Abbey puts the “ultra” in a busy schedule.
- Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in Santa Cruz, Ca, but moved to Lake Tahoe soon after. I lived on the west shore, in Tahoe City, for the majority of my young life. I enjoyed a very “free” childhood with skiing, biking, swimming, and running wild in the woods. I currently bounce between Carson City, Truckee, and Sacramento. Never a dull moment!
- When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I started running in high school when, in P.E., I didn’t want to participate in the normal group activities. My P.E. teacher was the cross country coach and he encouraged me each day when I asked if I could run the trails behind North Tahoe High School instead. Many of you may know the Burton Creek trail system. That was my introduction to trail running. I did not begin distance running until 2009 (at age 38) after a long stint of running 3-milers for years, 2 kids, and a 60lb weight loss. I signed up for the Kokanee ½ Marathon and that snowballed into races such as CIM, TRT, Lake Sonoma, etc.
- Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
I used to race. It’s hard not to race once you pin that number on your body and the RD says GO! After 10 years, I’m transforming a bit into “participating in events”. I have been more focused on race-directing over the past few years and racing has really taken a back seat. My training has suffered, but I’m focusing on getting back into events while still working and volunteering with our amazing community of runners and event coordinators.
Signing up for a race definitely motivates me to train and fit my workouts into my schedule.
- Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
I have been wanting to find the time and stamina to train for Castle Peak. I had a set-back the first year I was training with knee surgery, and I have volunteered every year since. It will happen!
- Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy? Favorite post-run meal or beverage?
I have moved away from sugary nutrition. I actually do much better with small bites and nuts. At very long distances I will start taking GU for quick fuel and to stave off muscle cramping. I usually dose my hydration pack with lemon juice.
Post run meal for a long day will be a bacon cheeseburger-protein style and a nice IPA.
- What was your favorite running experience this past year?
I am just coming back to distance running this year, but the past year has been a lot of fun exploring. Especially in doing recon in Northstar and the surrounding areas to lay down a course for the Ultra Trails Lake Tahoe event we are planning for October. Big climbs and so much fun! We also did some incredible hikes into the Granite Chief Wilderness with the Forest Service and our Trail Stewardship volunteers. Snowshoeing has definitely been “the thing” to get me up high and climb this winter.
- What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
Working full-time while helping with race-directing and commuting between communities. It has definitely made me appreciate my free time, breathe, and enjoy the beauty of the mountain trails when I can get out!
- What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
I am registered for the Bishop High Sierra 50 Mile. Training is a bit hindered by weather, but I’m confident with this distance and excited to support a close friend in her training for her first TRT 100.
- What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I have worked for the State of Nevada for the past 6 years, but the most enjoyable work I do is in co race-directing with Epic Endurance Events. I find so much pleasure in supporting the running community and the amazing people I have had the pleasure to get to know. Truly amazing people. I also race-directed and did run coordinating for Tahoe Mountain Milers for about 5 years prior to becoming involved with E3 and DPMR.
Yes, it can be difficult to find the time time to train. Especially during the winter months with bookend darkness. I do a lot of strength training on the side, found an indoor track, and get into the Auburn hills and Canyons as much as I can. Otherwise, it’s snow play!
- What led you to join the DPMR?
I met Peter Fain through my race directing for Escape from Prison Hill in Carson City, NV. (This one is in April and a great early trainer. Ask Peter!) He handed me a card for DMPR the first year it was getting started. I was certainly intrigued, but it took me a couple of years before I became more involved with the outlying running community.
- What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
DPMR gatherings are always a great time. It’s hard to choose one. I really like our group runs at the Memorial Day gathering and End-of-Year Party. This year I was breathless (no pun) with the return on the PCT at Donner Summit and Lake Angela.
- Favorite local trail?
I’m going to put a plural on that question….Warren Lake Loop from Johnson Canyon. PCT from old 40 to Squaw Valley. In the Lake Tahoe/Carson City area, TRT from Spooner and the Ash Canyon trail system.
- What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
I also enjoy skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking. Biking if I’m injured (I like my feet on the ground!)