Recipe for success: passion and pain – Truckee chef’s interesting approach to marathon training |

Recipe for success: passion and pain – Truckee chef’s interesting approach to marathon training

ANDREW BECKER, Sierra Sun Sports Editor

While the Lake Tahoe Marathon continues to get increased national attention, in particular being televised by Fox Sports Network, it has not evolved into a race that is exclusive to world-class runners. With the broad base of athletic talent in the Tahoe Basin, there are plenty of local runners who will be participating in the race this Sunday. As many runners have been training for weeks, even months, logging time on the pavement of Tahoe or through forest trails, one specific racer has a slightly different way of training for the 26.2 miles.

Mike Tebbutt has been creating an unusual, but potentially savory recipe in hopes of a delectable and satiating marathon. This recipe calls for an abundance of what this athletic chef labels pain, suffering and passion. These ingredients, coupled with a mad dash of back country rock climbing, serve as the Truckee resident’s training regimen.

Tebbutt, who owns and operates Twin Peaks Catering in Kings Beach along with co-owner Jim Barnes, will run his second consecutive Lake Tahoe Marathon on Sunday. Tebbutt, 29, placed 25th overall last year with a time of 3 hours, 29 minutes and 2 seconds, his first marathon.

While Tebbutt turned in an impressive time which he intends to improve on this year, the actual marathon running is somewhat bland in comparison with his seasoned training and work endeavors.

The Danville, Calif. native started Twin Peaks two years ago after working in numerous restaurants and working at the Resort at Squaw Creek as a chef. Training for a marathon was a way of relieving stress from a frenetic summer work schedule that mandates 20-hour days and constant preparation and presentation of Twin Peaks’ California cuisine during the wedding season. Twin Peaks Catering has been so busy – advertising is at a minimum – Tebbutt and Barnes get the majority of their clientele through word of mouth. In fact, the day before the marathon, Tebbutt and Barnes will cater a wedding with 150 guests. Hopefully, Tebbutt said, he will be in bed before midnight.

But running, even on trails, isn’t something that invigorates Tebbutt most of the time. It is rock climbing, specifically in the back country of the High Sierra that gets Tebbutt cooking in a way that makes running a marathon seem like a moderate stroll – like eating a five-course feat versus a single slice of dry toast. It’s the marathon days in the mountains that have prepped this on-the-go chef more than anything else. Whether linking peaks in Yosemite National Park’s high country or cruising the back-country peaks outside of Bridgeport, Calif., it’s the grueling approaches, blazing up and down talus slopes and long days baking on the rock that help Tebbutt train the most.

“The pounding on pavement part is easier, except for the repetition, after scrambling on rocks all summer,” Tebbutt said in a phone interview from Yosemite Monday night after climbing the Steck-Salathe route on Sentinel Rock. “Running becomes kind of easy.”

Not to mention a lot more interesting and exhilarating. Tebbutt readily admits that a strict diet of running is not palatable to him.

“Regimen and training are not my thing,” said Tebbutt. “I like to make things interesting out of my training. After pounding my body and mind in the back country and high country in dangerous situations climbing, a marathon is not that huge of a thing.”

When Tebbutt has taken to the trails around Tahoe, he has mostly heaped the Tahoe Rim Trail on his training plate. Well, heap is a relative term.

“I was on the rim trail about once a week last year, but this year every few weeks,” Tebbutt said.

The mountaineering marathoner’s running strategy is based on going with a pace that feels good.

“I try to be mentally prepared – to not put too much pressure on myself. Running is as mental as anything,” said Tebbutt. “The way I look at it is ‘you’re going to go out and suffer and feel some pain.’ I just go with it. Suffering is kind of my forte. And this is just one more form of suffering.”

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