by Carol Patterson:
I first met Usha Kreaden about 4 years ago; we were both bringing up the rear of one of the Castle Peak 100 practice runs through Euer Valley – Usha, somewhat new to trail running and me, in my usual spot – bringing up the rear. Neither of us have a 100 miler or an FKT under our belts, but I found that we both shared a love of the mountains, trails and running when time and physical being allows. (Lately we’ve both had plantar fasciitis interfering with time on the trails). After spending 4-5 hours on the trails with someone, you get a pretty good sense of who they are as a person. May I introduce Usha!
Usha, where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m originally from Montreal; now we split our time between the Bay Area and Truckee.
I know Mike, your husband is Canadian; is that where you met?
Yes, we went to school together and will be celebrating our 33rd anniversary next month.
When did you start running distance on the trails?
Well, I ran a little bit in high school but Mike really got me started. I got tired of staying home while Mike was out running and his runs kept getting longer and longer, so I joined a running club in the Bay Area and got myself up to 8 – 9 mile runs. Then, Mike and I drove down to Santa Cruz for the Santa Cruz 1/2 Marathon. On the way there, Mike said “oh, by the way, I forgot to mention – I signed you up for the 1/2!!!” I finished and lost a toe nail in the process but I had so much fun. Mike said he knew I could do it. I went out and got new shoes and have done 5 more 1/2 marathons since that original surprise.
I remember Mike was so encouraging and patient with us as we trudged along during that Castle Peak 100 exploration.
Yes Mike is very patient. My issue is I’ve been inconsistent. At the beginning of this year, I was taking care of my Dad. He passed in March, right before the COVID situation surfaced so we were among the lucky ones and were able to celebrate his life with friends and family before lockdown. Since then, we’ve been able to spend a lot more time in Truckee so its much easier to access the trails and get going. But, it’s not been a good year…we lost our dog in May.
Do you listen to audio or music while running?
No, not much. I do listen to audio when driving back and forth to the Bay Area. I’ve been listening to “Hidden Brain”, a podcast with Shankar Vedantam. He discusses science and uses storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships. Very interesting!
Do you have a favorite piece of gear?
Yes! My Hoka Challenger Airs; I’m so happy with them! I’ve been dealing with plantar fasciitis in my left foot. These shoes seem to help a lot. Plus I have found that using a brace to keep my foot flexed while sleeping has also been very helpful. At this point, I know I’m good for about 10 miles before experiencing any pain. I’m starting an adventure to tackle the Tahoe Rim Trail, one leg at a time. So, I think I’ll take an extra pair of shoes or inserts along and switch if things get painful.
Once you get out there, what’s your favorite trail?
I love going down the Powerline trail to the Bermgarten trail head for the Donner Lake Rim Trail, up and over Donner Lake lookout and back around and down the Powerline. We’re so lucky – we can just go right from our front door!
How about a favorite food or recipe?
Ratatouille – we love it. I make it about once a week:
- 3 bell peppers ( yellow, red or orange)
- 2 Japanese eggplants
- 3 large portabello mushrooms
- A small box of cherry tomatoes
- 5 stalks of asparagus
- 1 large leek finely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic ( this is what makes the dish great)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 tbsp oregano
- Pinch of saffron
- A cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tbsp Ras el Hanout
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup veggie broth
- Optional: handful of dried raisins, pistachio nuts
Cut all vegetables into large pieces. Place in a casserole dish with all other ingredients. Toss well in olive oil and spices. Cover with foil, Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove foil give it a good stir and bake for another 10-15 minutes. We have this with rice or couscous. It also makes a great side dish.
Do you ski, too?
Yes – downhill, cross country, backcountry and Helen got me going with skate skiing. I’ll go downhill and cross country by myself but I wont go backcountry alone. Doesn’t seem like the best choice. I also prefer to run or hike with others. By myself, it can feel a little boring.
Any other comments you’ll like to share?
I love my poles….they keep my knees feeling great!!
Thank you for your time, Usha……. can’t wait to try out your recipe!