Monday, June 06, 2011

For the Love of Reno

Trails near Peavine Mountain, just West of Reno.

A year and a half ago, my husband and I both began commuting to Reno from our home in Truckee for work. I was beginning a new job teaching 5th and 6th grades at a private school; he was attending paramedic school and eventually working on an ambulance in the city. On our drive home, we would share our days, and marvel at what opposite worlds we experienced in the same city.

The world of a paramedic is less than glamorous, as I'm sure you can imagine. While I was awash in loving, well-off families, bright, happy children, and a world that values education, he existed in the seediest of underbellies for such a small city, describing scenes straight out of the movie Seven. His work is beyond admirable, but I have to say, I prefer the view from the teacher's desk. 

After spending so much time there by this point, I've developed an ardent fondness for Reno, and in fact, I owe it a lot. Let me explain what I mean.

Aside from being home to a job that I love, and of course, Trader Joe's, Reno has an awesome community of people. Being a runner, I'm primarily speaking of the running community. I have yet to meet a runner from Reno that wasn't friendly and enthusiastic. There are my favorite Team Library Dorks, and all the folks who are involved with events like Silver State, Escape from Prison Hill, and Tahoe Rim Trail. There is a vibrant running community!

I also have great affection for both the trails and climate of Reno. Running through a winter in Truckee means pounding a lot of pavement, frequent whiteout conditions, icy roads - adversity in all forms. It builds character but tends to kill the weekly mileage.

Remember March? We had over 200 inches of snow that month. My house looked like this:

Reno typically looked like this:

This is Flat Stanley hanging out with me at the top of the hill at Bartley Ranch Park, where I do my weekly hill repeats.

Only 30 minutes away, but Reno exists in this wonderful little thing called the rain shadow. It's magic, really. Storms come in off the coast and slam into the wall of the Sierra Nevada. The mountains effectively act as a giant umbrella over the East side, sheltering it from the rain and snow. Storms rage in the mountains, while the sun shines peacefully in Reno.

Not only am I running in better weather, but there are nearly always some snow-free trails to be found. I run more miles and almost no pavement now because I get to run after school in Reno.

I like to hit up trails at Peavine, or in the hills above the Patagonia store. Turi did a great write-up of one of my weekly destinations for speedwork, the Steamboat Ditch Trail. There are trails east of Reno, south in Galena or down in the Virginia Highlands where the wild Mustang roam and surely more than one cowboy movie was filmed. 

I give Reno full credit for my strong Winter and Spring training this year. Did I mention the weather? This was my house on June 2:

Um, yeah. And here it was this morning, June 6th by the way, after the morning dog walk:

And by comparison, here was the sky in Reno today:

Enough said.

Thank you, Reno!


  1. Love the snow picture. Still can't find your house in it.

    - Dean

  2. I had my doubts about Reno when I first moved here, but there's a lot to like about it. The year-round outdoor sports is just one facet. It's a pretty cool running community, too - active, but small enough that you recognize lots of faces at running events.

  3. Great post! We love the runners, Truckee and Tahoe too. Coincidentally this last weekend we just had a large group of Bay area and So-Cal runners up, they would have all run up in Tahoe but for the snow. We took them on our great Mt Rose area trails and they were all blown away. Needless to say we dispelled their Reno-911 visions.


  4. Yes!! Thanks for the shout-out to Reno. I loved going to school there and yes the rain shadow is a sweet little escape from winter.

  5. Great post, and congrats on how strong you are, thanks to the good weather, hard training!

    - Sarah

  6. I love your house! It looks like my dream house. Snow in June!!! Bliss...

  7. After 40+ miles with JB and Jen last weekend on their Reno trails I was blown away with how awesome a place it is (completely dispelling the reno stereotypes). JB forwarded this to me this morning (i'm pretty sure to rub it in!). I'm not sure how much he paid you to write this but the trails above reno hae been a frequent daydream for the past 48 hours ;-)

  8. Dean - Yeah, that view would look pretty different right now - a whole side of a house, windows, roof - all burried in snow in that picture!

    Turi - It's been pretty nice getting to a point where I can show up to a race and always see someone I know. Definitely a good community!

    JB - Thanks! Dispelling Reno911 myths was actually in the back of my mind when writing this. :) Glad you showed them what was up. Thanks for sharing the link, too!

    Jamie - You're welcome! I have sung the praises of the rain shadow many a time.

    Sarah - Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Pam - You're so funny! It might be your dream house if you like smallish and messy. ;)I hear it's been fairly sweltering on the east coast, so I guess I can count my blessings, even if I do need heat training.

    Brett - Thanks for the comment. It is kind of surprising, isn't it, how many beautiful trails there are around here? I love the high desert, with the sandy trails, sage brush perfume, and mountain vistas.

  9. Trader Joe's is enough to make me love any city it is in :) I LOVE that place!

    Whudda thought...Reno? It looks great, and you are so lucky to have that, and so close!

  10. Paige - Yup, TJ's is a nice bonus. And hooray for being lucky! It's a good thing to remember.

  11. Sweet! Flat Stanley rules!!!

  12. Yeah, Scott! I was hoping someone would give Stanley a shoutout. Of course it would be a cool dad like you. :)

  13. Gretchen, I LOVE this post! I wouldn't want to live anywhere else, and living in several states and countries as any army brat has given me a pretty good idea of what else is out there. I love our mountains! (The shadowed side :) They are home to me. I'm so happy you've discovered some of our best trails (I'm happy to say that I've run on every one you mentioned! Now I feel like a seasoned runner!) I also think you rock for taking Flat Stanley running with you~ I bet he got tucked in a pretty sweet spot while on the go. Ha ha! Thanks Gretchen- I'm passing this post along...

  14. Amber - Oh you totally are a seasoned runner! And cheers to the shadowed side!