There’s a funny saying that’s been circulating around our area for awhile now, that I learned by making the mistake of attempting to introduce Steve Woo to an acquaintance of mine. As I started to introduce them, the person immediately responded back at me, “Oh, I know Steve!” followed by the now commonly repeated joke, “everyone knows Steve Woo!”
If you happen to be one of the few who hasn’t actually met Steve, or don’t know him that well, we are hoping this month’s member spotlight gives you an enjoyable snapshot of this outgoing, adventurous, extraordinarily friendly and generous DPMR member. From DPMR end-of-year pub runs to UTMB to off-piste skiing to fly fishing, Steve is an outdoor adventure junkie and natural extrovert who moved to Truckee full time a couple years ago.
I’ve been fortunate to share a few fun adventures with him (thanks for coming to the rescue with those delicious overly-salted, olive oil soaked potatoes at Paradise Lake!) and hope you all get the chance to spend time with him as well. Just don’t be surprised if he says he hasn’t run much lately and then jumps right into a 20+ mile outing with you … and brings his fishing pole.
– Jack Macy
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m a Bay Area native. I grew up in the town of Los Altos Hills and was a long time resident of San Francisco before moving to Truckee about two years ago.
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I actually started running in high school where I ran for our cross country team, but I don’t recall liking it much and quit after my sophomore year. In college, I raced on the cycling team and during the collegiate off-season I would do triathlons to stay in shape. So that got me back into running, though I never considered it part of my ethos. I was a cyclist first, and running was something I only did at the end of a triathlon. I had not run in a race by itself (unless you count Bay to Breakers where I wore a costume and pushed a keg in a shopping cart). But I had a bit of an aha moment after qualifying for the Ironman on the strength of my run. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t have a good bike leg, but that I had run my fastest marathon split despite my longest run in training of only 13.1 miles. I started to wonder if I was naturally better at running than cycling, and how fast I could actually run a marathon with some training and without having to swim 2.4 miles and bike 112 mile before. That lead me to running two Boston Marathons before burning out on the intense training. It was around then that my girlfriend at the time got me into trail running and eventually doing my first ultra – The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K. She wasn’t the competitive type but all about participating, fostering community, and smelling the roses. That was refreshing to me after years of being around super serious and intense athletes with every bit of their lives revolving around racing. Trail running was a huge change in mindset as I stopped paying attention to my per mile pace and started appreciating more the beauty of my surroundings, fun terrain, and company. I stop to smell the roses more now, and unlike my competitive cycling and triathlon days, there are always others that will stop with me.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
I do race and love racing. But what motivates me is different from cycling and triathlon when I was more focused on beating others. I love the challenges trail running poses and I’m still discovering what’s possible. It’s not about chasing insane distances, but the adventure, scenery, and destinations. I’m also motivated by our running communities. I really enjoy sharing experiences and celebrating accomplishments with friends… and of course, with beer. I do have a much more casual approach to “racing” but that’s not to say I won’t try to compete. If there’s a chance I can find my way on a podium of course I’m going for it! But let’s be honest, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to “training” so I’m very realistic about my expectations. Some people can run nearly every day and endless miles – I can’t. Maybe it’s because I’m older but a lot has to do with wanting to live a balanced life.
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
After just saying I’m not about crazy distances this is going to sound silly. But ever since seeing The North Face sponsored film “Curiosity” I’ve had my own curiosity in doing UTMB. I was totally inspired by Rory Bosio. Up until maybe last year, that distance was insane, and I told myself I never wanted to do anything that long. That was before I “accidentally” signed up and completed the TDS course in 2019. I’m shooting for UTMB 2021, if I get in. I guess my lazy days of training will have to come to an end.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy and favorite post-run meal or beverage?
My nutrition changes frequently and is always a moving target. I’m always experimenting with new products and different foods to see what works for a given distance, intensity, and weather condition, not to mention caloric needs as fitness changes. I have to have variety as I tend to get sick of too much of one thing. In general, anything under 90 minutes I usually don’t bring much more than water or a sports drink, and maybe gel. For longer runs, I’ll carry a lot of random stuff, ranging from boiled fingerling potatoes to Funyons and red licorice, gels to bars to the freebies I’ve acquired from the last race.
For races, I try to get as many calories as I can through my drink especially if temps are warm as it also serves to maintain hydration. Otherwise, for long races, I’ll start out with solids foods (bars, stroopwafels) early and as long as I’m aerobic or can stand them before progressing to softer (Clif Bloks) and then to semi-liquids (gels) as my body demands quicker energy. I save the caffeine gels when I’m really in need. And then it’s Coke in the soft flasks.
Post-long run meal? Tacos Jalisco or La Mexicana burrito of course! Otherwise, I’ll settle for some sort of chocolate-flavored recovery drink..
Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
My mom makes delicious Asian noodle dishes and it’s what I look forward to when I visit my folks. When I get a craving, I try to make my own. Through much trial and error, I figured out a recipe I love and have served to the delight of guests… And it’s not my own! Although I do make it my own with slight variations and different proteins – beef, pork (I make a homemade char siu), and shrimp which this recipe calls for… ASIAN GARLIC NOODLES
What was your favorite running experience this past year?
Without question the UTMB TDS race (Courmayeur to Chamonix). It was the hardest race I’ve done and yet enjoyable. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had running.
What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
Last year’s TDS race without question. I recall fighting four distinct battles – nausea, sleep deprivation, injury (popliteus), and the sight of so many runners sleeping on course and dropping out – that had me questioning my sanity in continuing. The new course ended up being about 93 miles and 30,000′ of climbing which proved too much for 39% of the field.
What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
I am signed up for Broken Arrow 26K and Castle Peak 100. Let’s hope we can get through these tough times. I’m looking forward to lots of backcountry adventures otherwise. Of course, UTMB is on my radar for 2021
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I work remotely for a small cloud-based software company managing our company’s business solutions. Basically I enable our entire workforce to do their jobs remotely. It’s quite a change from previous roles in sales and marketing where you’re on more of a fixed schedule. I do maintain pretty regular hours but have more flexibility during the week to play.
What led you to join the DPMR?
Moving to Truckee I knew was going to be an adjustment coming from a big city where I had established great friendships and a deep connection with the endurance athlete community. A couple friends of mine had told me to check out DPMR. My intro to the club was the 2018 end of the season TMB to TMB “fun” run where I met so many amazing and cool runners, and drank a lot of beer with them afterward. I knew these were my peeps.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
Chris Cloyd’s TMB to TMB end of the season run!
Favorite local trail?
I’m not sure I have one. There’s still much I have yet to discover, but I also like variety. I do love the Warren Lake Trail down to the lake itself with the scramble up to Paradise.
Do you have a mental training technique, mantra, or similar that you rely on to combat the mentally trying times of a longer run?
I credit backcountry skiing for helping me not only in fitness but in my mental prep for running up hills. When my legs get heavy and I really have to grind it out on an uphill, I visualize an easy skinning up motion and then think how great it is not to have boots and skis attached to them!
Do you listen to audio while you run and if so, what have you been enjoying lately?
When I run by myself I’ll pop in earbuds and listen to a playlist depending on my mood, tempo, or workout. I have a diverse taste in music but last season I played a lot of electro funky jazzy music like GRiZ and Gramatik in my playlists. There’s a combo of motivational beats and chill groove. I’m working on some new playlists for 2020. For long low aerobic runs I found listening to talk shows and podcasts are key to preventing me from running too fast. Last year I listened to a lot of Science of Ultra (credit to Mike Kreaden for this suggestion!). I never have the earbuds in on group runs or races.
Recovery technique that you swear by?
Drinking a recovery beverage within 30 minutes of a long or hard workout is absolutely the key.
Do you have a favorite piece of running gear?
The FlipBelt Running Light is brilliant – literally. I don’t run much in the dark but used it for TDS and works so much better than a headlamp. Because it sits at your waist, you don’t get a reflection in your face from fog and mist. And it lights up the whole trail in front of you. No wonder everyone let me lead on the downhills!
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
I have so many interests but a favorite past time and reason I want to live in the mountains are the fisheries and a love of fly fishing. It’s true you’ll sometimes find me running with my pack rod strapped to my ultravest! Skiing is a given during the winter. Besides resort and backcountry, I recently got into skimo racing which I totally dig! Would love to see more people join me and see the sport grow. With more time I’d play golf, guitar, and learn languages.
Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
I once threw out the honorary first pitch at a San Francisco Giants game. And I threw a strike!
I used to play the saxophone. I’m thinking about dusting it off…
I learned how to trade securities in the 7th grade. Have been dabbling ever since.
How has COVID-19 altered your training and do you have any advice for others?
At this point I’m not really affected from a training perspective, For one, I typically take the whole winter off from running. It’s a good mental and physical break. As long as there’s snow (like there is now), I’m skiing. While the resorts are closed which is a bummer but I just take my AT setup and hit the backcountry. Backcountry and skimo has been great for my running. Social distancing isn’t an issue in the backcountry as even with a partner we can easily maintain 6 feet. But we do have to be more conservative with risk. The last thing we want to do during these times is have to involve medical or rescue professionals. That said, I have places I like to go that are close by, low angle fun, that I know well. As the saying goes “if you don’t know, don’t go.” Crossing my fingers we continue to be allowed to recreate in the backcountry and don’t get shutdown like Colorado…