I checked peak number 10 off of my list this past weekend on my quest to bag 15 peaks by the end of the year, Castle Peak! It was definitely one that I had to work for and am still feeling it four days later, but it was so worth it. If you are looking for a challenging but rewarding hike, this one is for you! Not only is the view amazing, but the peak itself is one of the most unusual peaks that I have been on. It was formed from an old volcano and the turrets on top of the peak are crazy interesting. There are so many places that you can climb around that even on a really busy day, you could still feel like you have part of the peak all to yourself.

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Another fun-filled weekend has come and gone and I have a lot to fill you in on. First of all, I got a new iPhone 6s! The thing I am probably most excited about is being able to finally take good pictures. My stupid little 4s just wasn’t cutting it anymore and had to be replaced. The only thing is, my new phone keeps acting up on me and I am starting to get super frustrated. It keeps dropping service and then I have to restart it to get a signal back. Sometimes I won’t notice for a while after it happens and then people think I’m ignoring their texts or calls. So weird. Any Apple people out there know what is going on???

Then Saturday, I got another peak in my bag, Castle Peak! That puts me at number 10 of my #15peaksin2015 goal! I’ll write up a post about that with some pictures in a day or so, but first I have to tell you about peak number 9, Mt. Rose. With a mission to get to 15 peaks this year and some serious catching up to do, I decided to do this on a weekday after work. I knew that it would be tight trying to get it in before it got dark, but we made it happen by running half of it.

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I know what you are thinking. ‘Cauliflower crust pizza? That is so overplayed.’ And yes, I agree that there are thousands of variations of this super trendy pizza. But if you haven’t tried it, I have to tell you it is played-up for good reason. While this is still “pizza” it is definitely much healthier than it’s not-so-distant cousin, regular flour-crust pizza. While I wouldn’t recommend making this all of the time because of the cheese, I do think that it is a great way to indulge a little, as long as you can tolerate dairy okay. After all, who doesn’t love pizza? Come on.

I’ve tried numerous recipes for cauliflower crust pizza, and after lots of trial and error, I finally have refined a recipe that is delicious, holds together pretty well, and still makes you feel like you are eating healthy. You can pretty much put whatever you want on the basic crust recipe below, but I have to say that figs and prosciutto are one of my favorite flavor combinations.

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Pyramid Peak. It has been on the top of my list for the past few months. I attempted it once several weeks ago, but couldn’t go because of a fire that had closed the road to the trailhead. Well, this past weekend, I officially checked that one off of my list. At the same time, I added one of the most pride-filled moments I have had in a long time.

The weekend started with taking Friday off and heading out backpacking with my big brother. It was the first time that I had been backpacking with him and was totally looking forward to some brother/sister time (especially since we now have something in common after years of being typical siblings that thought the other one was retarded. kids). We began at Lyons Creek Trailhead off of Hwy 50. To get there from South Lake Tahoe, take Hwy 50 for 15.75 miles to Wrights Lake Road. Take a right on Wrights Lake Road and follow it for about 3 miles to the Lyons Creek Trailhead.

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After my 14-miler yesterday, I posted a picture of my awesome view to Instagram (IG: mtn.ems) with the caption, “trail therapy.” This morning, one of my friends asked me, “Is everything okay? You mentioned needing therapy on the trail.” LOL. Although I know she had nothing but the best intentions, my reaction was, “Really? Of course I’m okay. I’m excellent! I’m a trail runner.” By saying that the trail, or running in general is my therapy, I don’t mean that in the literal sense that I actually need therapy (…okay, some might disagree), but I meant that the trail is my safe place. The place that I go to get all the crap out that builds up in our daily lives. If you aren’t a runner/hiker/biker, you might not exactly understand what I am talking about, but I would challenge you to give it a try. Go out in the middle of nowhere, all by yourself, and let me know how you feel when you come back. Alive? I think so.

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Guess what day it is?! Hump day long run! I don’t intentionally save my long runs for the middle of the week, but when your weekend is consumed with the typical Labor Day festivities, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get in a long run, hence why I decided to run 14 miles after a full day at the office. Ewwww.

Before I  get to that, let’s talk about the weekend! On Saturday morning, I participated in the Butterfly Effect 5K. The nicest girl that I used to go to school with was diagnosed with thyroid cancer a couple of years ago and her and her awesome friends decided to put on a 5K to raise money and awareness for this horrible disease. Their website does a much better job explaining it than I ever could, so go check it out. Overall, I was happy with how the race went. I finished 20th overall, but still managed to get 5th in my age group. Errrrr. I guess the field of 30-39 year old women was stacked. Next year I’ll get on that podium!

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I hope you all had an amazing weekend like I did! The summer might be coming to a close and I am back in school, but that’s not going to stop me from having a great time. No way. Team Fun right here. On Saturday, I had my Mindful Leadership class, which I can tell is going to be a great class for me personally and professionally. My professors are top notch, there are some great people in my class, and we get to meditate and do yoga as part of the curriculum. How cool is that?! If you haven’t heard of mindfulness, I suggest you look it up. I’ll give more details throughout the semester, but it in a nutshell, it means being present in the moment in a non-judgmental way. Let go of the past and don’t worry about the future. I think we could all benefit from a little more of that! It is crazy to think about how much stress is wasted each day thinking (or obsessing, like me) about things that you have absolutely no control over. I am definitely going to try and embrace living in each moment a little more.

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It’s officially over. School starts this week and I will no longer be able to just pickup and go on weekend adventures. This semester I’ll have classes on Thursdays and Saturdays. Really!? Who creates a Saturday class? It’s a topic that I am really excited about though (Mindful Leadership), so I guess I’ll put up with it. Luckily, it’s not every Saturday, so I’ll still be able to sneak off on a few weekends here and there throughout the Fall to do some exploring.

Looking down on Star Lake by our bear bag.

Looking down on Star Lake by our bear bag. Freel to the right and Jobs Sister to the left.

This past weekend, I had to get one more trip in before it’s back to the books. My friend Jenn and I headed out to Star Lake with the intention of bagging Freel Peak, Jobs Sister, and Jobs the following day. My brother was originally going to come, but ended up coming down with a cold at the last minute. So it was just us two girls off to do some exploring.

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The past couple of weeks I have been so stoked to have one of my good friends get into trail running with me. Don’t get me wrong, I love running trails by myself or with my little sidekick of a dog, but being out there with a friend who is learning to love running is so much fun. I am running on trails that I don’t usually run and just having fun with it since a lot of our runs are run/hikes because she is working on building a foundation.

Last week we decided to run to the Mt. Rose waterfall, which is part of the Tahoe Rim Trail. Earlier this year I hiked this section when I bagged Mt. Houghton and Relay Peak, but I had never really run it. I am glad we did and I will definitely be back for more, even if the trail did beat me down.

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Holy balls. I have not been able to keep up with my life lately. I have been on the go for the past month straight and don’t see any signs of slowing down soon. The combination of backpacking every weekend, work, dealing with a remodel of my condo in-progress, and starting marathon training, have left me feeling like this summer is going by way too fast. But to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way. It has been so much fun! Let me share my most recent fun adventure, backpacking in the Stanislaus National Forest to Bear Lake this past weekend.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to tag along on one of my friend’s annual family backpacking trips. Every year they get together (dad, sisters, cousins) and go to one of many cool spots they have found over the years. How cool is that?! This year, they decided to go to a beautiful mountain lake they had been to a few times before, Bear Lake in the Stanislaus National Forest. From Lake Tahoe, it is about a 4 hour drive, but definitely worth it. You head South on Hwy 395 and turn West at Sonora Pass Road (Hwy 108). From there, you follow the road for 49 miles until you pass through the tiny little town of Strawberry. After Strawberry, continue to follow the road for about 1 mile until you reach the ranger station. Backpacking permits are free, but you will need to check-in and let them know where you plan on camping (hint: you can only stay one night at each lake, wink, wink).

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I feel like I have so much to fill you in on! The past 7 days have been non-stop, but all in the best way possible. To start, last Saturday, August 1st, a group of friends, family, and coworkers participated in the Squaw Valley Mountain Run. More on that in a sec. Then right after the race, I left with two of my friends to go backpacking for the weekend. I got back on Monday night, worked three days, and am now headed out for another backpacking adventure in just a few hours. There have been so many great things going on this summer.

I’ll be back in MBA classes starting in a few weeks and I am definitely taking advantage of being outside, exploring, running trails, paddle boarding, and whatever else I can do. I feel like I haven’t had the chance to make any good recipes, but I promise I will get back to it soon. I have some good ideas brewing. In the meantime, below is a recap of what I have been up to the past week.

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I think I have a new favorite thing to do. I went backpacking last weekend with two friends and am totally hooked. So hooked, that I have backpacking trips planned for the next two weekends.

The first time I went backpacking was in high school, but I hadn’t done it since. I honestly don’t know why. Being out in Desolation Wilderness this past weekend reminded me how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place and that I need to spend as much time outdoors as possible. The weather has been beautiful this summer in Tahoe and I only have one month left before my life will be re-consumed with MBA work. I am definitely taking advantage of both of those factors.

I had fun shooting some video and taking pics with my GoPro along the way. I am pretty sure that a GoPro is a backpacker’s dream. Well, for anyone who is not a professional photographer. My brother would argue for a different set-up, I’m sure. They are super light, weather proof with the case, and versatile. Check out the video below.

Headed up the primitive trail.

Headed up the primitive trail

This past weekend we originally wanted to hike in from Hwy 89 to Lake Sylvia so we could summit Pyramid Peak the following day. Unfortunately, a forest fire had other plans for us and closed the road that we needed to get there. With a quick change of plans, and some helpful rangers at the Forest Service office, we decided to go into Desolation Wilderness from Glen Alpine Springs to Lake of the Woods. The rangers gave us two options, the 8.5 mile moderate route past Susie, Heather, and Aloha, or the 5.5 mile black diamond route up the primitive trail.

Looking back at Tahoe, Fallen Leaf, and Lily Lake.

Looking back at Tahoe, Fallen Leaf, and Lily Lake

We decided on the more direct primitive trail, as we were feeling up to the challenge, especially since we could no longer summit Pyramid. I would not suggest the primitive route to the faint of heart. The first few miles of the trail are straight up a mountain. You follow a stream bed most of the way and there are a few slick areas, but it was nice to have some water this time of year. There are also quite a few boulders to clear, so be careful. If you do decide to go this path, the unmarked trailhead is about .1 mile shy of the parking lot at Glen Alpine Springs trailhead. The easiest way I can describe it is to drive all the way up to the parking lot, turn around, and use your odometer for distance. Look on the right side (up the mountain) for the small trail that goes up. This trail is not marked on most maps; however, I did see one that had it dotted. I parked in a small shoulder area across from the trail and was fine for the three days.

View from our campsite at Lake of the Woods.

View from our campsite at Lake of the Woods

After weaving through a forest for a bit, you will find yourself starting to go up. Once you get onto the rocky part of the mountain, look for the piled rocks (or cairns) that serve as trail markers. The trail is easy to lose and we lost it once, but were able to find it again after a few minutes. All-in-all it took us 3 hours to get to the top of the saddle. From there, it was another fairly mellow 2 hours to Lake of the Woods. I am sure that you could do this much faster than we did, but we were taking our time, talking to other hikers, snapping pics, and filtering water from the stream. There wasn’t much left of the stream and I would imagine it will be completely dry by Fall, so don’t rely on a water source on your way up.

We got to Lake of the Woods at around 7:00 pm, with just enough light to get camp set-up and cook dinner. When we got into Lake of the Woods, we followed the lake around to the right and found a great spot on the tip of a little peninsula. There were a few other groups there, but it was pretty spread out that you didn’t feel like you were in a campground.

American Lake

American Lake

The next day, we thought we would just try to see if there was a way to summit Pyramid from where we were, but there really wasn’t. At least, not one that was safe. Instead we ventured to Lake Aloha then onto American Lake. We had lunch there and stared up at the mountain that was being blocked by a huge granite ridge and boulders the size of VW beetles. I’m all for an adventure, but there is no need to try and get hurt in the middle of nowhere. I’ll get Pyramid one day from the right side of the mountain!

After a while, we went back to Lake of the Woods, took a dip, and relaxed in the hammocks. It was such a nice afternoon and evening, even if it was a little on the chilly side. I am definitely bringing a down jacket next time.

Lake Aloha from the trail home.

Lake Aloha with Pyramid Peak to the left

The next morning, we packed up and decided to take the other route home. Not only would it save our knees from a brutal descent, but we wanted to go past Aloha and some of the other lakes. We headed out on the 8.5 mile hike on the moderate trail toward Glen Alpine Springs. Although it was a longer route than on the way up, it took us an hour less because it is mostly downhill. I am glad we took this path on the way back to make one big 14 mile loop. We got to see most of Aloha, which is one of the most unique lakes I have ever seen. The views of Heather and Susie are also beautiful. After about 4 hours we were back at the car.

I had such a great weekend and times with friends in the middle of nowhere are some of the best memories in life. It is also a great way to rejuvenate the soul and feel ready to tackle anything in life that comes your way. Unfortunately, I can’t be on the trail all the time, but making the time when I can is something that is super fulfilling to me. Not to mention, completely disconnecting and being out of cell range is a good get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. What things do you do to feed your soul?

Almost seven months ago, did you make a New Year’s resolution? Maybe it was to eat healthier, exercise more, drink less, spend time with your family, or whatever else. And like 92% of Americans, have you since long forgotten about that New Year’s resolution? I don’t personally believe in New Year’s resolutions for the sheer fact that most people fail at them. If you do believe in resolutions, more power to you. What I do believe in however, is setting goals each year and using the year to work toward and achieve that goal. Habits aren’t made overnight and I often think that is why resolutions can be destine for failure. If you have one bad day in the second week of January, the whole year is shot. At least that is how I am with my all-or-nothing personality.

Regardless of what you believe in, we are almost seven months into this year (yikes!) and it is a great time to do a self-evaluation and reset goals for the remainder of the year. Even if you didn’t set goals at the beginning of the year, commit right now to making the second half of the year the best you can. Personally, it is a great time for me to self-reflect, celebrate some of my accomplishments, and focus on what I can do better or differently throughout the remainder of the year.

At the beginning of every year, I write my goals down in a day planner. It is something that I use on a daily basis throughout the year, whether it be to document my training, appointments, or schoolwork. It is always in front of me and I look at my goals often. As I was looking at them the other day, I thought, ‘what better way to stay accountable than share them with a bunch of strangers on my blog?’ So here are my top five goals and the progress I have made, or not made, to date:

Goals as of 1/1/2015

  1. Start running again – I have identified as a “runner” for the better part of my life. However, I have definitely had my fair share of hiatuses where I didn’t run for a year or more. 2014 was one of those hiatuses and I didn’t run. Period. As 2015 was approaching and I was feeling pretty down on myself, I made this my top goal for 2015. Getting my stride back wasn’t easy and some times were downright discouraging. When you go from running marathons to barely being able to get through two miles without walking, you better check your ego at the door. With patience and persistence, I am happy to report that I have definitely conquered this goal. So far this year, I’ve done two 5ks, the Lake Tahoe Relay (10.5 miles), and a half marathon. So what’s next? That brings me to my next goal…
  2. Run a marathon – The ultimate goal here is really qualifying for Boston, I’m not going to lie. But, being that this is my first year back after a hiatus and I need to work on my foundation, I am not going to kill myself trying to achieve a qualifying time this year. If I do, added bonus. What I am doing however is running a marathon in December that will hopefully set me up to be able to qualify in 2016.
  3. Spend more time doing things for myself – This is something that I constantly have to work on…but I am getting better! I am learning that it is OK to say “no” to going out with friends all the time. I am learning that it is fun going for a hike, trail run, paddle, or other exploration by yourself. I am learning that sometimes you just need to sit in a hammock in the middle of nowhere and enjoy the solitude. And I am learning it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy your own company or a good book dining at a restaurant solo. Being a strong, independent woman is something I strive for and I am definitely making progress.
  4. Summit 15 peaks in ’15 – This is the area where I have the most catching-up to do to hit my goal by the end of the year. At the beginning of the year, I thought it sounded cool, but now I am realizing it is harder than I thought to find the time. Right now, I have four: Mt. Tallac, Relay Peak, Mt. Houghton, and Rifle Peak. Each peak takes the better part of a day and if you add backpacking to that, you are taking about at least 2-3 days. Combined with working full-time, MBA course work, races/running schedule, and unpredictable weather (or fires in the case of this past weekend), it is proving to be a challenge, but I am bound and determined to get all 15! This weekend we attempted to summit Pyramid Peak, but I was only able to view it from my hammock by the lake (picture above). I’m putting together a video blog for you on my backpacking trip this weekend and should have it for you in a few days. Stay tuned! In the meantime, tell me all the peaks you know of that don’t take a full day. Go!
  5. Go to the dentist – I can certainly check this one off the list. For the first time in 8 years, I went back to the dentist this past April. Since then, I have had three fillings, one crown, and one wisdom tooth pulled. The good news is, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. It feels good being back on track again, but you still won’t ever hear me saying that I love going to the dentist. Who likes the dentist? Really.

All in all, I am super proud of the progress that I have made so far this year. I have really dedicated time and effort into living a healthy, active lifestyle, and it shows! The following is a quote I have held near and dear to my heart along the way.

“Love the life you live, live the life you love.” – Bob Marley

It is so true in so many ways. We all have the option to live exactly how we want. Sometimes it is a real struggle to break old, bad habits or on the flip-side, create new, healthy ones, but those are the things in life that are so worth it! You can either wish you lived your life a certain way, or you can actually do it. It is really that simple.

In the last part of 2015 I plan on continuing to focus on my goals that make me a happier and healthier person. I am living the life I love by running the beautiful trails in Tahoe, taking in the view (and always yelling) from mountaintops, and spending a lot more time relaxing in my hammock in the middle of nowhere!

How are you planning on killing the last 5 months of 2015? Killing time or killing it at life by being the best you can be?

Rifle Peak Hike

The annual Squaw Valley Mountain Run is coming up and I thought what a better way to train than hiking to the top of Rifle Peak. I have lived in Incline Village for 25 years and have never summited this most prominent peak that you can see from all over town. I sent a text to my trusty friend Jenn at lunch, who is always up for anything, and we made a plan to hike it after I got off work.

I was done with work by 3:30 and swung by the store to grab some water and a beer and we were on our way. Neither of us had ever hiked the peak, so we didn’t know where we were going or what we were doing, but that sometimes makes adventures like that even more fun. Aside from some really bad information I found online, we were going off of what seemed to be intuition.

We pulled up to the trailhead on Marlene Street. You really can’t miss it. It is a fire road on the left side of the road as you are going up with a large green Forest Service gate in front of it. We followed the fire road down then up and to the right for a little over a quarter of a mile until we reached a water tower. From there, go around the water tower to the back, and the trail turns into a single track and goes straight up the mountain. I have summited a few peaks this year and I have to say, that this might be the steepest. Although not the longest, it definitely works your butt!

After about a mile of going straight up the mountain (which seems like forever), the terrain opens up and you find yourself in a setting that can only be described as a wonderland. I don’t know how else to put it into words. The mountainside is wide open and covered with nothing but mules ears and every other Tahoe wildflower you could imagine all the way to the peak. You can also finally see the peak from this viewpoint, which is shown below.

First view of Rifle Peak after the trail opens up and you come out of the woods.

First view of Rifle Peak after the trail opens up and you come out of the woods.

It is the tail end of wildflower season, and I can only imagine what it looked like two weeks ago. I already have a reminder in my calendar to hike the peak again next year in mid-June. It is just amazing. From here, you are about another mile from the peak, but it is a much more mellow hike, kind of. You hike through the flowers and then eventually meet up with the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Once the trail you are on dead ends at the Rim Trail, head West on the Rim Trail towards Rifle Peak. Continue to follow this flat and slightly downhill trail for about a quarter of a mile until you are at the base of the peak.  At that point, look for a trail that heads up to the peak and follow that around to the backside, where you can walk up to the top relatively easily. No rock climbing required. All-in-all we went from car to peak in about an hour and a half.

The view up there is absolutely amazing. We hung out, took some silly pictures, cheersed a beer, and enjoyed the view for about an hour. After hiking up the 1,734 feet to get there, you will definitely want to hang out for a bit and soak in all the beauty that is Lake Tahoe. We were lucky and the day was absolutely beautiful for a hike. Hazy or not though, it is still spectacular.

Enjoying the view from the top of Rifle Peak.

Jenn and I being dorks and enjoying the view from the top of Rifle Peak.

Knowing that our sunlight was limited, we left the peak at about 6:30 and made our way back down. It took us about 1 hour to get back down and all I can say is quad killer! Also, be careful going back down. It is pretty steep and there are some loose rocks that if you step on, will take you down. I may or may not have fallen on my butt at one point.

Me hiking back down from Rifle Peak through the wildflowers.

Me hiking back down from Rifle Peak through the wildflowers.

I woke up pretty sore today, but still managed to get in a 6 mile run this afternoon. I am sure that I will still be feeling it tomorrow, but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, right?

What peaks have you summited? I am on a mission to summit 15 peaks in 2015 and need some ideas. I’m only at four! Any good ones on the West Coast that you love? Leave a comment below. Happy trails!

BBQ Bacon Balls

I hope all of you wonderful people had a great weekend. I had a three day weekend, but it wasn’t a do-something-fun-with-the-day-off kind of weekend. On Friday, I had to get my wisdom tooth pulled. And yes, tooth as in singular. One tooth. Luckily, that is all I will ever have. Don’t ask me why, but only one tooth decided to grow in. My dentist said it’s because I am higher up on the evolution scale (since wisdom teeth are pointless in today’s modern world). I’ve also had others tell me it’s because I’m not as wise. Jerks. Either way, it’s gone!

I was absolutely dreading the appointment with all of the horror stories I have heard, but I have to say, it was relatively painless. I choose to go with I.V. sedation, since I absolutely HATE the dentist. I was out before I knew it, awake 30 minutes later, and had no idea what had happened. I was in a little discomfort on Friday after the surgery, but since then, I have had no major issues (knock on wood!). There is still the chance that I could get a dry socket, which I have heard is absolutely awful, but I really only needed pain meds on Friday. Yesterday, I even managed to get out of the house and go exploring with a friend. We went to some hot springs in Sierraville, about an hour from here, and just spent the day relaxing and soaking. I’m convinced that the hot springs will help with my healing process. Why not?

The only thing that I am not very happy about is that I am not supposed to run for about a week. According to the dentist, any jarring motion like running can dislodge the blood clot and create a dry socket. Since I definitely do not want that, I will be listening to doctor’s orders, although I am starting to feel antsy. I’ll probably get out for an easy run on Wednesday (5 days is close enough to 7, right?) and see how that goes. I got races to train for, people! In the meantime, I’ll be hitting the stationary bike at the gym and light weights. I have been wanting to get back to lifting weights regularly anyways, so I figure this is a good time to get them back in my schedule.

I’m back to eating pretty normal, with the exception of hard, crunchy food, and have a delicious little recipe for you! And when I say little, I mean seriously little in the ingredients department, but not little in flavor. These little BBQ Bacon Balls are absolutely delicious and pack some serious flavor. I made these entree size, but you could also make them a tad bit smaller, stick them with a toothpick, and they would be a winning appetizer. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

IMG_0098BBQ Bacon Balls

Makes 4 entree-sized servings


  • 1 pound ground turkey (I like 7% fat)
  • 12 oz. applewood smoked bacon
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup Organicville Original BBQ sauce (divided), plus more for dipping
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix the turkey, dijon, 1/3 cup BBQ sauce, shallot, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Get out your bacon and cut each piece into two.
  4. Grab about a golf ball sized amount of the turkey mixture and form into a ball.
  5. Wrap a piece of bacon around the ball and place on a wire rack, on top of a foil-lined baking sheet (this will seriously help with clean-up).
  6. Continue making your balls and wrapping with bacon until you have used all of your turkey mixture.
  7. Top each ball with about 1 teaspoon of BBQ sauce.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the bacon has crisped and meatballs are cooked through.
  9. Dip in extra BBQ sauce and enjoy!

You could also make this with ground beef, pork, or bison, which I am sure would be equally as delicious!




If you have been to Lake Tahoe or live in the area, you have likely heard of Mt. Rose. It is the highest peak on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe and stands at 10,776 feet above sea level. What you may not have heard of though is Mount Houghton or Relay Peak, both of which are challenging climbs and reward you with some amazing views.

I set out for a hike yesterday with my parent’s dog, Charlie, along for company. We decided to take the trail less traveled and try something new. We were not disappointed and had an amazing time, although both of us might still be walking funny today.

We started from the trailhead at the summit of Highway 431. From there, you follow the trail as if you were going to Mt. Rose Summit. It is well marked and not easy to miss. After about 2.5 miles, you will reach an incredible waterfall. If you wanted to summit Mt. Rose, you would cross the creek here and continue on the trail. Instead, we traveled up the waterfall and stayed on the Tahoe Rim Trail.

Charlie enjoying the view from Mt. Houghton.

Charlie enjoying the view from Mt. Houghton.

After about two miles of beautiful trail and switchbacks, you will reach a sign for Mt. Houghton and Relay Peak. We followed the trail to Mt. Houghton, which was about 1 mile further. The views from the top of Mt. Houghton are beautiful. You can see Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake, Stampede Reservoir, Boca Reservoir, and even Mt. Shasta in the distance. Although it was pretty hazy from some fires we have been getting, it was still beautiful. The elevation on the top of Mt. Houghton is 10,490′.

We traveled back down the mountain and on a whim, decided to go to Relay Peak, which was about another mile away. Relay Peak stands at 10,335′ and offers some incredible views of the Lake. After we hit that summit, we came back down and ended up following the fire road to get back to the Rim Trail. This worked out perfect because we came across gorgeous Mud Lake (it’s name doesn’t do it justice) and Charlie got to swim and fetch sticks for a bit. He was one happy, but exhausted dog at the end of the day. All in all, our big loop was about 12 miles. Check out the video below of our adventure!

Taking the trail less traveled lead me to some amazing places that I have never been before. There is nothing like exploring and coming across something new that many others will simply overlook. Do you ever take the trail less traveled? Where has it led you?

Disclaimer: I have a complete running high right now so this post might seem a little scattered.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the epic race this morning! Today was the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon and it could not have been a more amazing race. It was such a great morning, there were wonderful people, and the race organizers totally nailed it! Unless something horrible prevents me from doing it next year, I will definitely be back. I am hooked on this race!

I was a little timid going into this morning’s race, since I just raced 10.3 miles last weekend in the Lake Tahoe Relay. I hadn’t completely recovered and a few toenails look like I painted them purple, but no. They’re just days away from falling off. Last weekend, I left it all on the pavement, so I wasn’t sure what my body would be up to this morning.

I run half marathons because I am only half as crazy – favorite spectator sign of the day

The race started at 8:00 am sharp (and I mean sharp, great job organizers!) at the top of Spooner summit. From there, the race followed Highway 50 into South Lake Tahoe and ended at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The first 3 miles are all downhill and my pace averaged about 9:00 min/mile. I was a little worried about my toenails and a blister I am nursing about the size of a half dollar on the bottom of my foot. Luckily, neither bothered me since the downhill was in the beginning of the race. After the first three miles, the course is rolling hills and flat, and the view doesn’t suck either. The entire time you have the amazing backdrop of Lake Tahoe to stare at. If that isn’t motivating, I don’t know what is.

The 10 miles of rolling hills and flat went really well for me. I think that I had a slight advantage being a local and training at the high elevation. I noticed a lot of people walking the hills, but I was able to keep my stride and power up them. With about three miles left in the race, the course takes a detour from the road and winds through some beautiful trails and meadows I have never explored. It was wonderful to be in the shade of the trees and take a break from the busy road.

It was at this point that I realized I was feeling pretty good and was almost done. Whaaaat?! I picked it up a bit and was able to finish really strong. I even raced another girl to the finish line which is something I totally thrive on from my old cross country days. You can take the girl out of the competition, but you can’t take the competition out of the girl. It’s something that will always stick with me. I ended up finishing in 2:02:20, which equates to a 9:21 min/mile — 4 seconds faster than my race last weekend! Overall, I was 312th out of 1,601 runners, 160th female out of 1,182, and 35th out of 186 in the 30-34 age group. I’ll take it and can’t wait to come back next year and beat my time!

Having only been running again consistently for the last 4 1/2 months, I am super proud of my progress. What’s next?! Well, right now I plan on enjoying a delicious frosty beverage and taking a nap. In two weeks, there is the 4th of July Tahoe Firecracker Trail Trek 5K, which I will begin to focus on next week. I’ll be incorporating more speed work and getting ready for a race that is a completely different animal from distance. Should be fun! What is on your schedule this summer for races?

I’m still recovering from the totally epic race this past weekend, the Lake Tahoe Relay. The first year we had a team together was 2007 and we have managed to do it almost every year since. The DeCelle Memorial Lake Tahoe Relay is the oldest distance relay in the country and this was the 51st year. I hope that it continues on for a very long time, because it is by far one of my favorite races of the year.

So, what makes it so amazing? First of all, just being outside in Lake Tahoe is gorgeous no matter what the weather. But on top of that, running around the circumference of the Lake is a truly beautiful thing. Combine that with spending the day with amazingly supportive and inspirational people, and you have a recipe for a day that just can’t be beat.

A few of us at the start, bright and early!

A few of us at the start, bright and early!

The seven person relay starts at 7:00 am in South Lake Tahoe and travels the 72 miles around the Lake. With a team of seven, each team member runs about 10 miles, give or take a few. The legs range from downhill to flat to rolling to steady, long climbs. There is something for everyone. The leg that I have run year after year is leg #3, which travels from Spooner summit North to Incline Village. The net elevation change is a decline, which can leave your toes and shins screaming. Pretty sure I am going to lose a few toenails…I am hoping that they simmer down before my half marathon on Saturday (which is less than two days away now, eek). I ain’t got no time for soreness! Oh well. It was a great day and I averaged a 9:25 minute per mile pace, which is about 30 seconds faster per mile than I was aiming for.

I annoyed my teammates all day long and took video of our adventure around the Lake. Take a look for yourself and put this race on your list for future events. You won’t regret it!

I had my first big race of the season yesterday, The Lake Tahoe Relay! It was a very hot day for Lake Tahoe, with temperatures in the 80s, but I still managed to finish about :30/mile faster than my goal! I was fortunate enough to run with a team of inspiring and fun coworkers and friends, which made for a great day. Above is a picture of some of us above Emerald Bay. I captured our day on video and will be putting together a post for you with a race recap. Stay tuned and make sure to follow my blog to get notified when that is up.

Next weekend, I am looking forward to the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon and am going to be taking it pretty easy this week as far as training goes. I did the same last week to make sure that I was well-rested for two back-to-back weekends with races over 10 miles. I think my strategy is paying off and I felt pretty good going into yesterday’s race. Below is what last week looked like for training:

  • Monday 6/8 – Easy 6 mile run, 10:02/mile pace.
  • Tuesday 6/9 – 30 minute tempo run. I struggled with this one and really only did about 20 minutes at the pace I was hoping (9:00/mile).
  • Wednesday 6/10 – Rest day and dentist. Yay!
  • Thursday 6/11 – Easy 2.5 miles on the Flume trail with my pup.
  • Friday 6/12 – Rest day.
  • Saturday 6/13 – Race day! 10.3 miles at 9:25/mile pace.
  • Sunday 6/14 – Rest day. Pretty sore from the race so I took it easy with a relaxing day on the Lake paddle boarding.

Total running miles: 21.8 miles

Total paddling miles: 2 miles

Next week, I plan on having a similar schedule, although my run tomorrow will probably be only about 4 miles. I’m also planning on making sure to get adequate stretching and foam rolling. As much as I hate the foam roller, I know that it is a huge help in recovering and working knots out.

That’s the plan, hopefully all goes to schedule. Lucky me is schedule to report for jury duty tomorrow, so hopefully I am not sequestered somewhere. I am all about performing my civil duty, but it would be nice if they could plan that around your racing and work schedule. Geez. How inconsiderate.

What are some of the other ways you try to recover quickly from a race? Share any of your favorite home remedies in the comments.

Happy Friday! Are you ready for the weekend? Are you doing anything fun? Yes and yes, for me! There are only hours till the Lake Tahoe Relay and I have to say, I haven’t looked forward to a race this much in years, regular pre-race nerves aside. This will be the fifth time I have participated in this race, but I’ve missed out on it the past two years. Last year I was physically unable to do it. I was out of shape and dealing with some Achilles issues. Those are behind me and I have been working my butt off to get in shape over the past five months. It’s game time.

I’ve always loved running because it is about pushing yourself to be the best you can be, but when you have a team relying on you, there is even more motivation to perform at the highest level you can. I’m ready to tackle my 10 1/2 mile leg tomorrow and will definitely let you know how it goes. Hopefully well, because I have the Rock Tahoe Half Marathon next weekend. Hello racing season. It is nice to see you again!

With all this hard work and racing, I think I deserve a little treat. What’s a delicious little treat that makes me happy? Chocolate. Duh. Not only are these brownies decadent and delicious, but they are also much healthier than their refined grain and sugar cousins. These brownies won’t make you feel like garbage eating them and are extremely low in sugar and carbs. Enjoy this treat without feeling guilty, just try not to eat the whole pan.

IMG_0048Double-Chocolate Paleo Brownies


  • 1 cup smooth almond butter (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (shake well before opening)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (or some other good quality chocolate chip, dairy is fine if you can tolerate it)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease an 8×8 glass baking pan with coconut oil. Set aside.
  3. Combine almond butter, coconut milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt. An electric mixer is best for this.
  4. Add cocoa powder, sugar, and 2/3 cup chocolate chips. Mix well.
  5. Pour into greased pan and top with nuts and leftover chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool before cutting…or at least try to let them cool before you dig in.

So simple and so delicious! What are some of your favorite treats when you have been working extra hard? Let me know in the comments.