Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Eat, drink, and be merry. Tomorrow we run!

I was thinking about food on my runs (I'm lucky and get to run twice on Tuesdays) this morning and I thought I would share my ideas with you.  First off, Thanksgiving is my favorite day.  Although I tell my friends and family that I cherish them often, it is a great excuse to tell them again...to take a step back and appreciate things like your health, your fitness, and mountains, among other things.  AND I LOVE GOOD FOOD!
Opt out the CREAMY dishes

Roasted Garlic Mashed Purple Potatoes Recipe
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Olive Oil
It's weird to me that people dislike the holidays and I feel sad that people shy away from them in fear of gaining weight.  Traditional Thanksgiving meals are filled with vegetables and turkey is very much a low-fat source of quality protein.  PERFECT!  This Thanksgiving I challenge you to eat until you are full and contribute quality vegetable dishes to your Thanksgiving festivities.

Buy Local.  The turkeys will be smaller, taste better, and be free of hormones!
Remember the rule darker is better?  Well I recently learned that cauliflower (white!) is jam packed with Vitamin C, K, B6, and Folate.  Have you ever heard of people steaming and blending cauliflower in with their mashed potatoes?  I also found this recipe for purple mashed potatoes!  YUM!  Purple potatoes are a little sweeter and contain compounds that can help improve memory and prevent blood sugar spikes, and disease-fighting antioxidants.

Another thing to keep in mind, in addition to choosing colorful vegetables, is to add spices to your cooking.  Some of the healthiest populations in the world are huge proponents to the use of spices.  Although I don't necessarily buy into all of the research surrounding spices, I do believe in a good sweat when I eat curry or pho.  A substance in black pepper called piperine may help block the formation of new fat cells.  Some studies have found that the use of cinnamon or ground ginger may decrease muscle soreness.  Ginger might make you feel fuller or help you burn additional calories and vanilla may help with your sweet tooth.
All I am trying to say is that you should go for it.  We don't often "let ourselves go" and if the holidays aren't that time to give ourselves a break, then when?  Fill your bellies with quality foods (everyday, really...) and your hearts with love, and your homes with those you adore.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
1 head garlic
1/4c. olive oil
10 sprigs fresh thyme
2lbs. purple potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
1/2c. low-fat milk
1/2t. salt
1/4t. freshly ground pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 400F
2.  Rub off excess papery skin from garlic head without separating the cloves.  Slive the top of the head, exposing the cloves.  Place the garlic in a small baking dish, such as a bread pan.  Drizzle with oil and lay thyme sprigs around it.  Cover with foil.  Roast until very soft, 30-45 minutes.  Uncover and let cool.
3.  About 15 minutes before the garlic is done, cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water until tender, 8-12 minutes.  Drain well.
4.  Return the potatoes to the pot.  Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins into the potatoes.  Strain the oil through a fine sieve over the potatoes, pressing on the solids (discard the thyme).  Add sour cream (lowfat?), milk, salt and pepper.  MASH!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The "Oldie, but Goodie" Trail

I was thinking Friday during my standard "oldie but goodie", what makes a run a classic?  Why am I fascinated with and continue to come back to this trail?  And so I contemplated the oldie but goodie for 10 epic miles from Popperton Park, up Dry Creek to upper BoSho, to the top of Terrace Hills and back.  My favorite.  I thought that I would delineate it for all of you.  Here are three signs that you have an "oldie but goodie" on your hands.

1.  Le Drame:  The drama, man!  You either know the people on this classic route, or your know their deal.  Running on Dry Creek, you will see the university and hospital employees out in droves around lunch and right after work.  On the first sunning day in awhile, or a serious weather warm up, the trail will be packed with mountain bikers.  This was the case last week...let the drama commence.  I love the mountain bikers, especially when I'm feeling strong!  I love passing them on the uphill and keeping up with them on the flats.  I also love when you are pushing it and really working hard they will all get off the trail for you.  It's a fun game.

Epic sunsets also help the oldie but goodie.
2.  High Frequency of Flow:  Could it be the product of the sheer number of times you run the oldie but goodie?  Could be.  I am sure there is a high frequency of terrible runs for the same reason.  BUT, I do believe that flow, runner's high, or euphoria, is more common on terrain that you are intimately familiar with.  Think about it.  Your mind can wander and let loose far more frequently on a trail that you know like the back of your hand than a technical adventure.  Flow, and other similar amazing feelings, are giving your body positive feedback and thus keep you coming back for more.

Happy dog!
3.  Location, location, location:  Let's be honest, it's convenience is the reason you first started going to this trail in the first place, but the terrain can't be all that bad or you wouldn't waste your time.  You probably have easier runs closer to your home (like flat on the road), but you chose this convenient run for it's dynamic and decently easy and hard nature.  My oldie but goodie is close to home (check!), dog friendly (check!), has a 2.5 mile uphill to start, the middle is rolling and basically non-technical, I sometime descent 1 mile before I turn around so I can climb back up, rolling back, and bomber downhill to the car.

Go get yourself some oldie but goodie this week!  Happy trails, my friends.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

First Snow Run

I love being a runner who loves to run the morning of the first snow.

Sage and I bundled up after toast and tea this morning, ready to leave fresh tracks around the Avenues.  I love making fresh tracks and so does Sage.  Although we chose to bypass the dog park for epic tracking out, we left our mark almost everywhere we went.

At one point, not far from home, Sage looked up at me with fresh snowfall plastered on her eyebrows and face.  I said "You're all snowy" and she waved her tail furiously and hopped back into her run.  She loves morning snow adventures, too.

I feel invincible running through a fresh snowfall.  The world is sliding to work in their cold cars, cranky people are complaining about being cold, and Sage and I are catching snowflakes in our eyelashes.  It's a beautiful thing.

Did I mention that I love running?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy "Beer Mile" Halloween

SPOILER!!!!: I won!

...Let's go back, let's go back... Let's Tarantino this s***...

The HUMR beer mile is usually on Cinco de Mayo.  This year it wasn't, or rather it was and I made a poor showing (or never left the BBQ portion of the beer mile)... Anyway, the HUMRs decided to have a second beer mile to coincide with Halloween.  This is a great idea!  This way we aren't just a bunch of grown adults standing around in our superman costumes doing nothing...we are competing here!

So, I have always said that this is my one allotted DNF for the year.  The first year I competed, I had just raced, PR'ed, and placed ninth overall in the Ogden Marathon...I was a super light weight and not feeling very competitive.  I drank one beer, jogged 0.25 miles and sat down to ring cowbell.

Second beer mile?  See paragraph one.

This year?  I planned to DNF, but then my competitive nature kicked in and I decided to come up with a strategy.  I took a look around and saw that there were four females that would be competing and I just figured that I was bigger than every one of them.  My plan: take it slow, sip, and wait for my competition to start feeling crappy.

I was in dead last for my first lap, and slowly crept up in the field.  I wasn't really paying attention to the men's race...they are gross and guzzle and don't mind puking.  I do.  Around lap 3 I passed Curtis and by the beginning of lap 4, two females had dropped and it was between Breein and I.  I felt great, by the way.

I guzzled my last beer and left Breein in the dust and the rest is history.
It's all about the prize.  When I saw the crown, I needed the crown.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I love my Pearl Izumi M2s!

So, I feel that I need to share with the world my love of the new Pearl Izumi M2 and N2 series.  Since mid summer I have been running exclusively in the N2 Trail and M2 Road shoes.  Not only are the colors so much fun, the shock absorption rocks!  Choose the N2 for a little more trail feel and the M2 for more cushion.  I started to break in the purple and red M2's two weeks before my first 100-miler.  Unfortunately, life got in the way and I only had the chance to run in them twice.

Mile 75 of The Bear 100.
**I know... you're scared to hear what happened to my feet...**

NOTHING happened to my feet (aside from one of the smallest blisters I have ever recieved on my big toe)!!  This, let me asure you is nothing short of a miracle since I am a blister girl.  I have odd shaped feet and thought that I would have carnage for sure.  Nothing.  I just thought I would share!  Pearl Izumi's trail shoes are rocking right now!  Check them out!

That is all...carry on.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Bear 100: Oh snap!!!!

I AM SO GLAD THAT I AM NOT STARTING THIS POST WITH A "I dnf'ed"!!!!  Because, I have to tell you, that is ALL I thought about for the first 29 miles.  BUT, spoiler alert, I FINISHED my first 100 mile race and IT ROCKED!

(OK, enough caps...I just had to get that out)

It is true.  My first 29 miles of the Bear 100 were plagued with negative thoughts, break-up calls to my pacers to explain that I wouldn't be needing their services, Facebook DNF posts, and standing in front of my 60 students to tell them that I dropped out of my race.  I tried to reason that a 50K would be a good day, and perhaps I could continue to 50, and that is also a hard ultra distance.  GOSH, the negative thoughts just flowed and flowed.  I believe that this was a product of nerves, freezing cold temperatures, and hard terrain (although I didn't really feel like it was hard...it must have just been taxing on my body).

Let us back up a tad (sorry...) to the night before.  Dang, it was cold, but after having shaking hands until 11AM on Thursday I vowed to go zen.  So, when I arrived at packet pick-up and put on two down jackets I floated (all zen-like) to grab my t-shirt and race bib.  All of the usual suspects were in attendance and some of them were complaining...I stopped listening.  I knew it was going to be cold and I was prepared.  I woke up extra early, took all of my t-shirts and shorts out of my bag and packed everything warm that I owned (NO JOKE).
So excited for the big day!
We went out for dinner and I was quiet.  Kelly Agnew must have picked up on this because he remarked," I so want to give you crap right now, but want you to do well..."  Blah, blah, blah... I wanted to kick his butt, but was too nervous to talk smack.  After dinner, Nick and I drove to the starting line and camped in the back of his pick-up.  We slept great and work up an hour before the start.  I was nervous, but collected, and that was basically my game plan for the first 20 miles.
Hanging out at the start.
The gun went off and we jogged down the street to the big first climb and I started to walk.  I hiked all the way up that first climb, hanging out with Amie Blackham and Jeremy Suwinski...they were very nice to let me hang out with them, as I didn't know what the heck I was doing.  It was so very cold and the running gloves with hand warmers weren't enough!  The views were fabulous, but I was really too cold to stop moving too long.

Enter negative thoughts.  I told myself to save my iPod until mile 20 and I was left with my head.  Oh, boy.  I saw Nick (crew chief awesomeness) at mile 20 and he asked how I was doing.  I told him that my legs didn't feel like they had any energy and that my hips were tight...also, that I was waiting to start having fun.  He told me to suck it up (nicely) and that he would see me in 9 miles.

Me, probably laughing at Forrest's jokes.
Enter negative thoughts with crappy iPod music.  Saw Nick at mile 29.  Same questions, same answers but with "this music sucks!!!"  Nick handed me my BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #1: an iPod of his music that I knew he was making for me and I huge thermos of coffee.  What I didn't know was that this iPod had phone calls from family, friends, and loved ones giving messages of love, encouragement, and inspiration (oh, and some funny jokes).  I heard from my grandma, Mom, Forrest and Pam, Colin, Chris and Cait, BJ, Scott Jaime, and Nick's grandma and mom.  Between crying and laughing, and COFFEE, I zoomed into the next aid station and THAT is how my roughest miles occurred at mile 1-29.

ADORABLE!  AND I got a hug!
BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #2:  I have the most amazing friends ever who bring adorable little girls with pompoms and are so helpful and I wanted to kiss you all, but my lips and face were full of Gu.  Thank you Curtis, Debbie, Lane, Cory, and all of the other lovely people I knew at aid stations.
Happy girl with the best crew chief in the world!
BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #3:  I picked up Ryan at mile 51.  Apparently, I was on pace for a 24 mile finish and Ryan was just barely able to make it up to the aid station in time.  Thankfully, I was running with Nick's SPOT because he could see exactly where I was and that things had changed since mile 29.  I had been looking forward to running with my friends and, of course, Ryan was pumped for me and also to see the beautiful views.  He made me stop to smell the roses and for that I am so grateful.  I think that this was the most beautiful part of the course.  The colors were practically fluorescent with white snow brushing the mountain sides.

Big hugs!
Ryan complemented me, saying that I was really moving well, but I was doubtful.  I guess this is a good time to say that my goal was to be done before lunch on Saturday (a 30-hour finish) and TO FINISH!  I mostly brushed Ryan off, reminding him that I'm just here to finish, though I was glad to be doing well.

Weather update:  Also, BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #4: I thought that it felt warmer.  I was moving just fine and only got cold at aid stations.  At mile 51, I changed my entire outfit for the second time so that I wouldn't have any sweat on me and this strategy was working well.

Food update: Also my race strategy: Also, BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #5: EAT!  I was eating Gu like a super woman!  My stomach was strong and only bothered me after eating at aid stations for about 45 minutes.

Running with Ryan was good.  I had some tired moments, but Ryan reminded me to eat while I felt good, fed me mints (like an angel), and encouraged me to drink a 5-hour energy.  As with the entire race up to this point, I ran the flats and downhills and walked uphills.  It wasn't until we started to descend into mile 75 (Beaver Lodge) that my left knee started to bother me.  We precariously tip-toed into mile 75.

Breein medicating.
BEAR 100 Clutch Moment #6:  Harrison: pacer #2.  That stinker looked jacked up on caffeine from the moment I saw him! I knew I was in trouble...more on that in a second.

Harrison Bootcamp.  Where's the whip?!
Beaver Lodge brought lots of friends, including Forrest and Breein who made the drive to say hi and see the finish!  FUN!  Breein helped me with my legs pains, while way too many people offered food, etc.  I don't mean this in a bad way (I feel loved), but I now know why 100-miler runners look at me with a blank look as I offer food...they are overwhelmed.  They have just been in the wilderness for far too long...

So off we go and right away Harrison starts check his watch.  Poor guy.  Basically, Harrison kept me company and milked every last ounce of desire to run out of me and did a great job motivating.  At this point my legs were aching and had some serious general fatigue.


We somehow managed to make it to mile 92, where I picked up Nick, who I love, but I will not pretend like this was the BEAR 100 Clutch Moment... Nope.  Nick's time brought tears.  We had a brutal climb out of this aid station and then a very hurtful and mean descent into the finish, with one sneak ascent (NOT NICE!).  I wasn't very nice to Nick and none of his motivating strategies worked and I lost a lot of time.  But this is not his fault.  My legs hurt and I reasoned that this could be the worst pain I have ever felt.
I did finally get to the finish where my loved ones awaited and I could lay down.  That was awesome!
Finish line party?

We pulled over so I could puke on the way home and the ever punctual Jodi and Alyssa pulled over, ran toward me, exclaiming, "We saw your car...we want a hug!"  Which I think means, "We saw you yacking, we are not sure if we want a hug anymore..."  We went out for water and I relived the story for the first time and it was awesome.

I wore my best buckle to work today and told my students all about my adventure and they think I'm cool.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ramblings of a Soon-to-be-100-miler on Taper

So, I basically ran out of Nick's truck last night (we drove back from Steamboat Springs, CO yesterday), jumped into the car with Sagey Pup, and hit the trails.  I was a little agitated.  I wondered why and this is what I came up with...

Short answer: I'm tapering. And I'm nervous.

Weird things have been happening to me during the last week... and I have two more weeks to go before the big day.  I tell myself not to get too nervous and that I am going to be just fine.

Weird thing #1:  I have done more tempo work in the last week than I have all summer.  I am sore.  I need to roll out.  I feel like I am trying to prove to myself that I am fit.  All the while knowing that speed alone will not help me finish this race, but mental toughness and grit.

Weird thing #2: I find myself imagining crossing the finish line at The Bear.  Passing bikers and runners must think I'm crazy because I am overwhelmed with pride and joy and am smiling as big as absolutely possible.  Oh well.  Eventually that feeling passes and I am nervous again.

Weird thing #3: Breathe in: I'm nervous, breathe out: I'm ok, breathe in: I'm nervous, breathe out:... UGH!!!!!!

Harrison, Sage and myself.
I realize that my work is done, the money is in the bank, and that, in the words of my pacers, I am physically ready, it's the mental part that will be difficult.  I tell myself that I WANT THIS BAD.  I am getting good sleep, taking good care of myself, avoided injury, and am ready!  But then I breathe in.
Hopefully Breein can make it to the finish, but the crew is all pictured here plus Jodi.
I am so lucky and am looking forward to sharing this experience with three of the best friends a girl could have.  Ryan and Harrison are bringing their experience to mile 45 and beyond.  They are great runners and care about my goal.  Lovely Nick will be taking me the last 8 miles into the finish.  I am sure I will be emotional by then.  My good friends Jodi and Alyssa will be coming to the finish line with Sagey Pup so I can give her (and them) big hugs!

I have the best friends and I get to share this with them.  That is really exciting.