Rabbit-Sponsored Runners Visit Mammoth Lakes for High-Altitude Training

Ayla Granados and Alycia Cridebring prep dinner at the Mammoth Lakes Crib as the weather outside their kitchen window oscillates between sunshine and hail (hey, it’s May in the Sierra).

The two 27-year-old runners have a bottle of red wine stashed to the side on one of the marble countertops (they’re not quite as ascetic as Crib alumnus Soufiane Bouchiki) and they’re throwing ingredients into a bowl for their episode of Cooking at The Crib.

Their meal (gyros) is a throwback from the time they spent racing together in Belgium. “They eat gyros in Belgium like they eat burritos in California,” Granados says.

It’s a pretty pro food scene. Cridebring has a Himalayan pink salt shaker she brought from home (“don’t make fun of me!”) and she ambitiously attempted to make her own na’an bread at altitude. Unfortunately, it didn’t rise—and it becomes a whole thing, with Cridebring worrying that Reid Buchanan, another pro runner who is a bread baking guru, is going to mock her (luckily, there’s backup packaged na’an).

The two banter like college roommates—Granados grins, holding up a head of garlic on cue as Cridebring describes what ingredients go into tzatziki sauce. “We’re on a cooking show like every other week,” quips Cridebring. “That’s why this is going so smoothly!”

Both runners are sponsored by Rabbit and came to Mammoth Lakes to train for the Portland Track Festival High-Performance Meet, which was held in June.

Cridebring, who is coming off a year hiatus due to stress fractures, will be running her first competitive 5K since being sidelined. The UC Davis grad (Cridebring grew up in Sacramento) holds records in the 5K and 3,000 meters at her alma mater.

Granados, a Chico State grad and Bay Area native, competes in the 1500 meter and holds her school record in that event.

Both looked at their month in Mammoth Lakes training at high-altitude with the Mammoth Track Club as a chance to have an edge in Portland. We caught up with Alycia and Ayla during their stay at The Crib.

How did you learn about The Crib?

“I heard about The Crib from Daniel Tapia,” says Granados. “Daniel always said you should train at altitude, that it will really help you. And he just loved it here, so he wanted all his friends to come.”

Cridebring found out about The Crib from (ultra runner, Mammoth Hospital physical therapist, and all-around impressive human) Tim Tollefson. Tollefson runs for Sacramento Running Association, Cridebring’s running club.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Granados is currently working on her Master’s in Business Administration and is the assistant track and cross country coach at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. “I’m hoping competitive running can remain one of my main priorities for a while and hope to get a full-time coaching position using my Master’s,” she says. “I want to contribute to the running community in some way after I’m done competing professionally.”

“I feel like you run until you can’t,” says Cridebring, speaking from the tail end of her injury-mandated running hiatus. She works “medium-time” for an environmental consulting firm in Sacramento (Alycia studied environmental science and management at UC Davis). She gave a huge shout out to her boss, Joe Brusca of Brusca Associates. “The last time I was here he bought me a laptop so I could work from The Crib,” she says with a grin.

What’s your superhero origin story (i.e. how did you find running)?

Granados was a professional swimmer who started competing at the age of six. This isn’t surprising—one of the first things you notice about her is her incredibly toned biceps. “Actually,” she laughs, “my coach and I have been trying to figure out how to make my arms less muscular because with running, you don’t want to be super buff.” She swam until sophomore year of high school when she found she had kind of plateaued. She went out for cross country and found success. Her parents were big supporters of her swimming, but “my coach was like, ‘You can get a running scholarship if you want to.’ Then my parents were like, ‘Do running!’”

Cridebring found running because she was just straight up hyper. “I was that really cool kid,” she says with an eye roll. “I would do laps around the basketball court at recess, and see how many I could do.” Her grandmother, who currently lives south of Bishop, also tried to wear her granddaughter out with running. “When I would get too crazy, she would make me run loops around the house.”

Favorite thing about Mammoth Lakes?

“The weather,” Cridebring says just as another burst of hail begins outside. “Just kidding! I love that there’s no traffic. We love the trails. Runs go by so much faster. And I love being able to visit my grandma!” Her favorite high altitude training locations are either Mammoth Lakes or Flagstaff, Arizona, and “Flag is a little bit more expensive. I mean, there isn’t a Crib to stay at.” And that’s huge. “You’re putting a lot of time into the sport and not making a lot of money. Runners don’t do it for the money.”

“Definitely the traffic thing, because I’m from the bay area,” says Granados. “And just the simplicity of life here. When I’m doing coaching and commuting and training, some days you just have to make it through, whereas here, everything just kind of slows down.” She also loves the members of the Mammoth Track Club and their low-key attitudes. “Not all elite track clubs are this welcoming.”

Sarah Rea

Sarah Rea has lived in the Sierra for 20 years (eight in Yosemite and seven so far in Mammoth Lakes), but has been eating cast iron skillet pancakes for most of her life. She learned how to make soap from bacon grease when she was four and has always loved picking wild berries. She thinks…

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