I am not so sure introductions are needed here since Michele has volunteered or captain’d an Aid Station at nearly every race within a 100 mile radius. For those of you who don’t get out much, meet Michele Thomas, our February Member Highlight.
A recent Reno/Tahoe transplant, Michele and her husband Chris are familiar faces at most, if not all DPMR events and any other social gathering that involves dirt and running. Michele enjoys her downhill running, especially the technical stuff, but her true passion is helping others fulfill their running dreams. One of the many Aid Stations she Captain’s, is the Andromeda Aid Station at our signature event, the Castle Peak 100k. If I could duplicate Michele twelve times, I’d have her Captain all the Aid Stations at Castle Peak, because her passion truly does shine out there.
Aside from being an All-Star Aid Station Captain, Michele is a mother of two (three if you count Chris), works full-time and somehow finds 26 hours in a 24 hour day. If she’s not out on the trail, you might find her at the happy place on earth, which may explain why Dory speaks to her while running. Ho-ho’s and Netflix are on her list for recommended training and recovery and it’s not a coincidence her email handle contains “momrules”, because this mom certainly does rule!
Where are you from and where do you live now?
From Sonoma County, living in Reno as of August 19.
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I started running 4 years ago. I was a smoker for over 20 years. I started working out and quit smoking so I could work out and not die. I started running when I was invited to Sunday morning trail runs. I would roll my eyes at my husband who took to it and extended his distances really quickly. For me it was a much slower process. I enjoyed being out in the sun and out on the trails. I will say its been a struggle and a lot of trial and error in extending my distances. I am slow. I would love to be faster. I just seem to break a lot easier or fall a bit more. I love downhill running. Especially rocky downhill. I try to better myself and find a faster, more efficient way down. I started with a couple of trail half marathons which were awesome and painful. For some reason, I found myself hanging with a crowd of ultra runners and eventually was egged on into running my first 50 and only 50 miler. I will say that both gave me confidence and broke me all in one race. I finished my goal of the full 50 miles. Even did it under the final cut off time (just missed the last aid station by 8 mins – so crappy). So, I’ll probably never run a 50 again. I’m sticking with 50k’s & 100k’s and love them! I have run two 100k’s and signed up for another and am looking forward to running the Siskiyou 100k in July.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
I enjoy races. I like running them and volunteering and crewing them. When running I get horrible anxiety before them. I always want to do my best. I sign up for them as goals to keep on training. I really like group runs. I love long runs with my husband. I love puddles and mud and sunshine!
I also like to run them so that I know what to do to help runners at aid stations. I been through excellent station and awful stations. I really love all the people I have met at aid stations. I love helping people finish what they’ve started. I love crewing races too. I get to meet so many people doing that as well.
When it comes down to it, I run so that I can go farther and see cooler things than if I never ran, hiked, slogged, walked, or shuffled.
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
Not so many dream races. I would love to do a stage race – that’s more slow and steady.
I do secretly want to run Western States. I have finally gotten one qualifier last year at Black Canyon. I am signed up for the Siskiyou 100k this year. If I run a 100 miler I would love western to be my first. I’m trying to see if I can qualify on 100k tickets only.
I want to get fit enough to run the Courmayer-Champex-Chamonix (part of Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc). I really would like to run the Transylvania 100k – it starts and finishes at Dracula’s castle! Although I’ve heard I will need a bit of orienteering experience before running that. I also want to find a nice 100k in Japan. I look at some of these races as opportunities to travel, excuses for vacation.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy and favorite post-run meal or beverage?
Anything fruity (watermelon, oranges). Ohhh, I do like Spring energy. That stuff goes down no problem. I also love Roctane for liquid fuel and noodles and broth for super long runs when the sugar doesn’t work anymore.
Mid-week training snacks are HoHo’s and Kombucha.
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
I really enjoyed running up to the Top of Tam on a super nasty rainy day! I think it rained more than 3 inches by the time we got back down. I was slipping inside my shoes from all the water. But it was an absolutely beautiful day!
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
That’s a hard one between having to move out of state and my fall. I fell on the last mile of an easy run in mid-April last year. It was the last mile in a big week. I tore something and got a huge contusion on the upper right quad that has taken months to heal. My right lateralis is still numb and I still have a dent in the upper quad and a hematoma next to it. It’s affected my entire right side for several months now. Took more than 5 months to be able to run downhill no pain. I kept trying to get out and run but since half my leg was numb and weak I kept falling. I have been strengthening and extending my mileage but not with out niggles here and niggles there. I’m finally feeling so much better!
I would say they both took a tremendous toll on my ability to stay happy, focused & free this second half of the year. They definitely forced me to back out of running Castle Peak 100k. I pulled out right after Lost and Found. I could not run downhill and I couldn’t focus on anything. Last thing I wanted to do was hurt myself worse.
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I work for a really awesome company out here in Truckee! Between working full time, two teenagers, their homework, training, and the volunteering I do for different races every year, yeah, training isn’t easy, especially with acclimating to the weather up here in the winter!
What led you to join the DPMR?
My husband and I joined after our experience at Castle peak the first time he ran. I really enjoyed the people and wanted to stay in touch with runs up here.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
Volunteering for Castle Peak 100k. I love volunteering – it’s always a blast! Not to mention helping and meeting new people at the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Run run aid station. Or maybe learning new trails.
Favorite local trail?
Not sure yet… Really anything with a view, a killer sunset, no poison oak and limited coyotes… Bears, yes! I want to see a bear! I like the Warren Lake loop. I really can’t wait to explore more up there this coming summer. I have not run enough up here to have a favorite trail. I do like the Verdi to Hirschdale Pyramid Trail. I have run in NorthStar and that’s super pretty. My go to right now is the Ditch trail by my house in Reno.
Do you have a mental training technique, mantra, or similar that you rely on to combat the mentally trying times of a longer run?
“Just keep running, just keep shuffling, running, running, running…” (but like the way Dory sings “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”)
Do you listen to audio while you run and if so, what have you been enjoying lately?
On the tread mill I can get in the zone with Bassnectar, Black Gummy, Dance with the Dead, Le Castle Vania, Muse. I’m starting to think I need to break out some tunes during my mentally deficient downer lulls on long races.
Recovery technique(s) that you swear by?
Sleep! Netflix! Laundry, clean the house… Shopping? (I mean online shopping)
Do you have a favorite piece of running gear?
I LOVE Rabbit gear! My favorite shorts are the Mountain Climbers! And the Dirt Pounders. Their bras are pretty awesome and so are the shirts! I’ve always got a buff or two for my snot rockets. Injinji crew socks and Altra Lone Peak shoes! Can’t handle any other shoe. But don’t ever need to change my shoes on a run.
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
My second favorite place to spend time on feet and money is Disneyland… Yeah, I know, but I love it!