Introduction by Renee Jacobs
“If you’ve been coming to DPMR group runs regularly, chances are you’ve seen Garrett! He’s making himself quite a regular lately. While running with him at group runs, I learned about his exciting summer project – his first ultramarathon, which he planned to do unsupported (not an organized event), from his front door, along a route that he created (using some trails he had never been on before). For many DPMR members, such a run can be very daunting. How do you avoid getting lost? How do you train? How do you make sure you don’t run out of food and water? Find out more about Garrett’s project (which is now successfully behind him) and be inspired!”
- Where are you from and where do you live now?
I grew up in a small town, Biggs, near Chico, CA. I’ve been living in Truckee for the past 17 years.
- When did you begin running and/or long-distance running, if that applies? Why?
I did a lot of running when I was on the wrestling team in high school but I hated it. We ran on the side of the road and cars would pass really closely and honk at you. After college, I lived in Yosemite National Park, and I got into long distance hiking; we would regularly do 25-30 mile day hikes and even up to 50 miles. After moving to Truckee, I had less time for those long hikes so I started trail running so I could experience some of the same scenery but in a shorter time frame, and so I could stay fit. Eventually, I grew to love the challenge of a good trail run
- Do you race? Does racing motivate you? If not racing, what motivates you?
The only race I have ever done was the Sierra Crest 30k. I would consider doing another race if it were something I couldn’t really do self-supported either because of the logistics or access. I’m motivated by picking a challenging goal and then working towards it.
- Do you have any dream races (either hoping to qualify for or get selected for)?
I think it’d be cool to pick a challenging trail ultra and earn a belt buckle. I’m not very motivated by medals but for some reason, a belt buckle seems like a cool, understated award. I don’t really know which races do this other than Western States but I know it’s hard to qualify for that race
- Do you have a favorite on-trail food or nutrition strategy and favorite post-run meal or beverage?
I usually don’t eat during my runs, unless they go long enough that they take me past my normal meal times. In that case, I’ll probably have a bar or a packet of macadamia nut butter. After my runs, I just eat my normal meal but I may increase the portion size if it was an especially long run.
- What was your favorite running experience this past year?
I ran my first ultramarathon on July 9th! I had a vague idea for a route and then Johannes from TMS helped me map it out, and Renee Jacobs gave me feedback on the route. The route started at my house and went up the Sawtooth trail, over to Palisades Tahoe, up to Tinker Knob, down Coldstream Canyon and Jackass Ridge, and then back home via Truckee Springs. It ended up being 34 miles. A friend ran most of it with me but he had to drop out due to injury so I finished it on my own in 12 hours. I felt great on the run and had a lot of fun. It was cool to see the culmination of months of hard work and planning.
- Any tips for someone interested in their own self-supported ultra marathon?
The biggest challenges in a big self-supported run are food and water, and what to do in case of an emergency. On my self-supported marathon last year, I ran from my house to the Tahoe Donner campground, then I ran several loops out of the campground, and finally, back to my house. That meant that roughly every 6 miles, I passed through the campground where I could get water. I carried my own food. And I was never more than a mile or two from a road, if something were to go wrong.
My ultramarathon was a little more adventurous. I carried a water filter and asked ahead about the streams that I’d be passing to make sure they’d still be flowing. That was part of the reason for doing the run earlier in July. I also planned to stop at the Village at Palisades Tahoe where I knew I could fill up water and stop at the store, if needed. I carried all of my food, but if necessary, I could have gone out ahead of time and cached some food in a bear box. For safety, I had a friend and my wife monitoring my progress using the Find My Friends app on iPhone. I think there are other live tracking services out there. I sent regular text messages to update them on my status. I also had several places mapped out where I knew I could easily bail from the run and either call for a ride or take the bus home
- What was your most challenging/ character-building experience this past year?
At the start of the pandemic, I started a running streak of at least a mile a day. I’ll be hitting 800 days pretty soon. Maintaining that streak has probably been harder than training for and running the ultra. There have been days where I forgot my run and had to go out at 10 pm, and others when I’m running in calf-deep snow on the streets of my neighborhood. Some of the hardest days have been the smokey days when I’m running in an N95 and my eyes sting from the smoke, but I’m usually able to find a window during the day where the smoke isn’t as bad
- What are your upcoming racing/adventure plans?
I just finished my big goal for this year and I haven’t decided what my next goal will be, but I have a couple ideas:
- the Biz Johnson National Recreation Trail is 25 miles which sounds like it would make for a really cool, point-to-point marathon, or maybe even an out-and-back 50 miler. I read recently that someone does a race here
- someone at the DPMR social run mentioned the idea of running up Cold Stream to Tinker Knob and then north to Castle Peak and then back to Truckee. That sounds like a pretty cool adventure!
- I’d like to join one of the fall “pub runs”. I know one year a group ran from the Alibi in Incline Village to Truckee. I think that could give me motivation to stick with the long runs through the whole summer
I’ll probably cut down a little on the distance [in the future] so I can free up a little time for the gym and rock climbing.
- What do you do for a living? Is it hard to fit in time for training?
I work full-time as a software developer for a healthcare startup, and I teach skiing part-time in the winter at Northstar. I’m fortunate that I can do most of my runs on my lunch break but that’s not possible on the days when I teach skiing. On those days, I’m usually just do a short run after work in the dark
- What led you to join DPMR?
I wanted to socialize with other runners. I started going to the newbie runs this spring and had a great time, so I decided to officially join DPMR so I could go to the summer picnic and the Tuesday evening social runs
- What has been your favorite DPMR experience so far?
I like running with other people and hearing about their goals, whether that’s a big race like UTMB, Canyons, or Western States, or it’s a cool project like one person I talked to who had a goal to run from Mt Rose meadows back to their house
- Favorite local trail?
There are so many great trails that it’s hard to pick one! The Sawtooth trail is in my backyard so it’s one of my most frequently run trails. I also love the Emigrant Trail along Alder Creek because it’s pretty and the creek helps keep it a bit cooler
- 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 mostly listen to my headphones but sometimes I’ll spend some time focusing on my breathing or my posture and technique as I’m running.
- Do you listen to audio while you run and if so, what have you been enjoying lately?
I listen to a lot of podcasts when I’m running. “Trail Runner Nation” and “Human Performance Outliers” are two of my favorite running-related podcasts. I’ll sometimes listen to audiobooks when I run out of podcasts. I just finished listening to “The Rise of the Ultra Runners”. I really liked “Breath” by James Nestor and “The Rise of the Ultra Runners” by Adharanand Finn. Occasionally, I’ll listen to music when I’m doing hard hills or when I need a pick-me-up at the end of a long run. My go-to is the pop punk station on Amazon Music.
- Recovery technique(s) that you swear by?
Yoga and a hot bath are my normal recovery techniques but if I have a nagging injury, I’ll go to my physical therapist, Greg Booth. I also do some mobility exercises before every run, something like:
- high knees
- butt kicks
- leg swings fore/aft and side-to-side
- calf stretches with knee straight and knee bent. Done more as a pumping stretch than a static, stretch-and-hold
- hip external rotation and hip internal rotation (reverse the movement from the external rotation)
- squatted hip internal rotation and squatted hip external rotation (I do it similar to how the video shows internal rotation but pushing out with my elbow)
All of that is a lot but it only takes a few minutes and I’d be happy to show people if they see me at a run!
- Do you have a favorite piece of running gear?
I like Altra shoes. That’s pretty much all I wear, whether I’m running or not
- What other outdoor or indoor interests do you have?
In the winter, I do a lot of downhill skiing and try to get out for some cross country skiing. I also like to go to the gym for weight lifting and indoor rock climbing
- Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share?
I’ve been teaching skiing for 20 years. I taught for 3 years at Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park and for the past 17 years at Northstar