It’s embarrassing that I don’t recall the first time I met Kelly Barber (see “What led you to join DPMR?”) But I clearly remember when I really met him, and I’m so grateful for the start of an enduring friendship with one of the most generous, fun, and geeky runners I know.
As I was transitioning from road to trail runs, I had hopped in the Davis Turkey Trot on a whim. I noticed a volunteer pace group leader wearing a hydration vest. At a road run. We started chatting, and it turns out that this guy Kelly already knew me from DPMR. I can’t count how many miles we’ve shared since that day!
Kelly’s generous nature is evidenced by how much time he gives to others. He has volunteered for every DPMR event I can think of from the Memorial Day Picnic to Castle Peak 100k, and now he is serving on the Board of Directors. Personally, he has paced me at two out-of-state 100 mile races, gently pushing me to beyond my own expectation of possibilities. (Kelly’s insanely fast hike is his secret ultra pacing weapon.)
Running with Kelly has really taught me the importance of not taking yourself too seriously in training and racing. In 2017 Kelly accomplished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, completing four iconic 100-mile races in one season. I agreed to pace and crew him at the Vermont 100. Honestly, my achilles was in bad shape (I never told Kelly,) and I wasn’t expecting to enjoy myself.
Perhaps it was because I saw fireflies for the first time in my life, but more likely it was because Kelly killed it out there, finishing in a mere 19h 09m, but the entire Vermont experience was classic Kelly fun!
And then there’s Kelly the Geek… he’s a consummate learner, researching and executing optimal training, fueling, and logistics. He loves to listen and learn from everyone around him, in a quiet, appreciative way. Okay, I’ve gone on enough. I’ll let you read a little about Kelly in his own words…
- Where are you from and where do you live now?
Born and raised in Northern California (Red Bluff). Currently, I live in Woodland with my wife Jen and our youngest daughter Jessica. Our oldest daughter lives in Inglewood.
- When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
In 2008 after returning from my 20 year high school reunion, it became clear I needed to get back in shape. Those then and now pics can be brutal. That fall I started to swim a few times a week. The next spring, as part of a fitness challenge at my gym, I stepped on the treadmill. The goal was to see if we could complete the distance of an Ironman over a one month period. One to three miles per workout was excruciating but after successfully completing the challenge, I was excited to take on more. I bought a bike and decided I would try my hand at a triathlon. Once I tried my first race, the competitive side of me was hooked and I wanted bigger challenges which prompted the next logical step of “How about a marathon?” and I found myself toeing the line at CIM in 2010. After continuing to race triathlons, my running partner wanted to train for a trail marathon. A marathon is a marathon, right? So we set our sights on Grizzly Peak and happily worked through our road marathon training plan. On race day, we had no clue what we were in for but we ground the climbs, made it through a toasty day in the East Bay hills, and I vividly remember two things. I loved being on the trail. And after having both my calves seize up about 2 miles from the finish, I needed to get smarter about how I trained. So if I was going to do this again, it may as well be an “ULTRA”.
- Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
My first motivation was to see how far I could take this and use it to go to places I have never been. Through that process of going from one mile to 200+ miles, it became clear that I love spending time with this community and if I’m racing, crewing, volunteering, or just hiking, it’s a key part of my life.
- Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
I have been in the Hardrock lottery for 4 years… someday…
- What was the best running advice you’ve received?
Being told that anyone could sign up to be a pacer for Western States. The first time I ever ran overnight and the longest distance I had run to date was pacing a runner at States in 2013.
- Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy and favorite post-run meal or beverage?
Low carb, lots of plants seems to work well for my general nutrition. For running, I always use Tailwind as a base and certainly prefer real food but that can vary all over the map depending on the race. I have been a fan of Spring Energy SpeedNut and Trail Butter Dark Chocolate Coffee this last season. The post run ‘go to’ is definitely a burger.
- Do you have a favorite recipe to share?
Sourdough blueberry pancakes. I’ve taken this base recipe and add blueberries to each pancake after I pour them in the pan. I had to cut myself off because I was making them twice a week…. Definitely were not “low carb”.
- What was your favorite running experience this past year?
My first mountain lion sighting. It was a beautiful foggy morning on the Western States trail climbing from Eldorado Creek to Deadwood. As I rounded a corner, she was a couple hundred yards up gracefully moving down the trail. She never turned back so I was able to stand there a moment and watch her disappear into the fog. I yielded the trail to her and headed the other direction. It was amazing.
- What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
Showing appreciation. With so many people trying to find local places to get outside from being stuck in their houses, it is easy to get frustrated with busy trailheads or lack of adherence to health guidelines. It’s a continuing effort to be hopeful and positive that more people experiencing our parks and trails will mean more people who want to see them stay beautiful and accessible.
- With most races being cancelled this year, do you have your own adventure or virtual race plans?
Certainly hoping for a return to racing. I have Canyons, Western States, and Ultra Trail Monte Rosa scheduled for this year but if that doesn’t happen I could happily climb some 14ers and maybe another Backyard challenge.
- What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I work in supply chain for Roche Pharmaceuticals. Have worked some part of my schedule remotely over the last decade and been very fortunate to be able to flex my schedule to build in my training.
- What led you to join DPMR?
The first climb up Diamond Peak at the 2014 TRT100 and meeting this woman named Helen who was very excited about this running club that was getting started in Truckee. I was excited to learn more about the trails in Tahoe so it was a great fit.
- What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
There are so many. This is my tribe. But definitely a favorite is the end of season run. Chris always finds a new trail for me to try and I always meet a few new club members.
- Favorite local trail?
TRT from Tahoe Meadows to Spooner Summit. It’s definitely my happy place to catch the morning sun on Marlette Peak.
- 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 don’t like to quit so the sheer drive to finish gets me a long way. If it’s an especially hard race there always seems to be something that presents itself to help me make it through. I may pick a random person to race against who may not even know. It may be taking a few minutes to re-center and take in the environment around me. A number of people can attest to that at the 2018 TRT when I was swimming around in Marlette Lake on the second loop when my race started to spiral.
- Recovery technique(s) that you swear by?
Love my Air Relax compression pants.
- Do you have a favorite piece of running gear?
Altra shoes, Injini socks, Path Project shorts, and hand bottles. Once I distilled it down to this, I can add as weather and course demands it but these are always part of any run.
- What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
Spending a lot of time in the kitchen (sourdough, sauerkraut, and diversifying the weekly meal plan), getting the garden in shape, and took up axe throwing (a good outlet for a frustrating day).
- Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
We are new to #vanlife and are looking forward to where that takes us this year.