Introduction by Meggie Inouye
I can’t remember the specific Newbies run that I met Dia, but I soon found out that she too was planning to run Castle Peak 100K. I also gathered pretty quickly that she is an incredibly strong and adventurous woman and yet beautifully humble about it. Although lately Dia finds herself behind a desk as a grad student, during her mid to late 20s she served as a wildland firefighter as a self described “ditch digger” for the US Forest Service. Photos from her Facebook page highlight adventures of her skiing remote, snowy slopes; happily camping out of the back of her 4×4; and doing headstands in beautiful corners of the wilderness. Dia burst into the ultrarunning scene just 2 years ago with the Silver State 50 miler finishing as 2nd place woman (18th overall). More recently, she completed the Castle Peak 100k finishing as 3rd place woman (14th overall).
Dia and I started CP 100k together (as pictured below) but she was quickly far ahead of me. Thanks to the OAB portions of the race, we were able to give each other some high fives and words of encouragement along the way, but when I saw her charging up out of Warren Lake as I was heading down, I knew she was in for an amazing finish. I am so excited to see what she does next and to share some more miles together.
Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in Burlington, Vermont and now live in Olympic Valley.
When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why? I’ve been running in some form since I could walk, but I consciously starting running solely to run in 6th grade. My mom used to be a beautiful runner and I think I wanted to go with her so we started to go out in the early morning before school. Looking back, she was so patient because I hadn’t figured out the whole pacing thing yet and would burn out after 200 yards. But I did figure it out and it was only a matter of time before I fell in love with the long runs so it’s been a natural progression towards longer and longer distances ever since. It’s only been within the last 5 years that I began to call myself a distance runner and compared to some, I wouldn’t consider myself a distance runner even now! But I have always enjoyed the simplicity of running and distance running adds in endless possibility for adventure. It’s very freeing to be 20, 30, 40 miles from my starting point and know I got there with just my two feet.
Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you? Yes, I do race. I am a competitive person so having a race on the calendar does motivate me to wake up at 5am and get a workout in instead of staying in bed, but I see races as more of a reward than a motivator. Races are fun! They are the reward of endless hours of training, when I get to hang out with friends and see how far I can push my little legs. Day in and day out, though, I am motivated by the want to have a strong, healthy, capable body that can withstand long runs, skis, bikes, bushwhacks, epic adventures. People ask me all the time on the trail “What are you training for?” and my answer is always “For life!”
Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)? I am still very new to the distance running scene, so I’m sure the list will evolve, but I would love to qualify for UTMB.
What was the best running advice you’ve received? Just recently, I heard “respect the bib” and have been thinking a lot about that advice in the days leading up to Castle Peak 100k and now afterwards. I don’t know who first came up with this motto, but I think it’s a really good reminder. I think it can mean a lot of things, but for me, it is a great reminder to respect the culture of the sport and remember why I do it.
Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy and favorite post-run meal or beverage? I tend to rely on a lot of dense, high calorie trail food and avoid most of the high-tech nutrition strategies that are out there. Salt and vinegar potato chips and nut butter of any kind are two of my staple foods. I also like ginger candy, as it seems to prevent an upset stomach. Post-run, I am a huge fan of lemonade or Skratch Horchata Recovery Mix.
Do you have a favorite recipe to share? I have been making different variations of a chocolate, nut butter cookie with teff flour that I take with me on runs. I have never written down the recipe, but the ingredients usually include: powdered cocoa, teff flour, oats, an egg, almond butter, coconut oil, chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds, chopped dates, flax meal, vanilla extract, maple syrup, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I’ll write down the recipe next time for anyone who wants it!
What was your favorite running experience this past year? Last October, my good friend Molly and I ran the Ruby Crest Trail in Nevada which had been on my to-do list for a few years. It was super smoky and both of us had a million things going on in our lives, but we fit it in and it was spectacular! We missed the turn right off the bat and started our 12+ hour day by bushwacking through pretty heinous brush for two hours. Once we found the trail again, we traversed over countless 10,000 foot peaks, ran into a Basque sheep herder in the middle of the wilderness, and jokingly mused why we didn’t go on a beach vacation instead.
Do you have upcoming race or adventure plans? I’d love to find time to do a Desolation through run. I am also really looking forward to Broken Arrow in October.
What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training? Currently, I am in graduate school, work part-time for both a logging company and the county planning department, and am a self-employed artist. In so many ways, fitting training into my life is impossible, but it gives me so much in the way of mental sanity and happiness that I make it all fit.
What led you to join DPMR? Running can be such a solitary thing, so when I heard about the Newbies Run in 2019, I thought it sounded like a great change my normal routine. Instantly, I really liked how vibrant and welcoming the club was.
What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far? Volunteering at the TRT 100 aid station! I still haven’t made it to any of the picnics or yearly parties (which I hear are a blast), but working the aid station was so much fun. Aid station volunteers have always made my life so much better when I’m racing, so it was awesome to be able to do the same for other racers.
Favorite local trail? I have always enjoyed running up in Coldstream Canyon. I usually do a single track to road loop that totals about 6 miles. It’s easy enough for an evening run but still gets you varied terrain, some hills, and then a cruise back on the road. And then you can jump in Donner Lake after!
Do you have a mental training technique, mantra, or similar that you rely on to combat the mentally trying times of a longer run? Not related to only long runs, but if I’m not feeling motivated to get out the door or tired, I always give myself permission to turn around after 10 minutes if I’m still not enjoying it. Sometimes I do, but most times I don’t.
Do you listen to audio while you run and if so, what have you been enjoying lately? I do on distance day when I want to keep my heart rate down. Recently, I have listened to Tina Fey’s book Bossy Pants, This American Life, and Science of Ultra (yes I know–listening to a running podcast while running is dorky but his voice is so calming!)
Recovery technique(s) that you swear by? Ice baths. Just put on three puffy jackets, hold some warm coffee, and it’s almost bearable.
Do you have a favorite piece of running gear (hydration system, shoe, clothing layer, sock, etc.)? My REI hooded sun shirt. I am very fair skinned and, now, it’s all I wear when I’m outside. It allows me to keep my face shaded, the hood keeps my vest from chaffing my neck, and I have discovered that I can dunk my sleeves in creeks to keep cool.
What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have? Slightly atypical of avid runners, I don’t run a whole lot in the winter. I Nordic ski and backcountry ski almost every day instead. I love a good game of cribbage and am trying to grow veggies in our apartment window.