Friday, February 29, 2008

Angles and surfaces

When I started writing this post I had approximately, or should I be more honest and say specifically 27 minutes to finish the post before my dinner was ready. There was something intensely satisfying in this because less than 8 minutes before I had come in the door from a phenomenal second run for the day. 30 seconds after I walked in the door, in the oven went my Mole Skillet pie (complete with homemade chile chocolate mole sauce and cornbread crust).

Ready to go into the oven!

But as we can see, I didn't quite make it to the end of the post. Emails were more interesting and then dinner was much more interesting and suddenly here it is Sunday afternoon and I am finally bringing together then posting. Phew...

Inside the mole skillet pie

What I learned in culinary school:
Always cover your blender with a rag when blending hot liquid.
I almost got a most rad scar on my arm when my instructor scaled me by not abiding by this.

Mini People and Ice cream makers
I am once again remind in the last couple days of the strange things that make people more human. I never thought that material objects could bring out the best in people (and maybe that IS in fact true) but I observed again, as I had last year, that mini cooper people have this incredible habit of greeting one another on the road. When I first got my mini cooper, I noticed that when I saw another mini cooper the driver would always wave or give me a head nod. I felt like I was in a secret club and inevitably I found myself picking up the habit, at least there at the start of my ownership. After a while, I wasn't seeing as many minis (seattle has less minis that SF) and I wasn't driving as much, so the habit passed into the back of my mind. But in the last three days, I was thrice pleasantly surprised when I saw other mini owners and they all gave me the friendly wave. It may seem silly, but it really made me smile and laugh. In a time when I was questioning meaning and human interaction (among other things), it carried great meaning to me. It is such a simple thing to do but it can mean so much.

Speaking of simple pleasures, can you imagine living without some form of ice cream? I know not everyone likes ice cream. But even non-ice cream lovers occasionally like it or at least have the option to eat it. I however have only one type of ice cream (well, two but for this purpose non dairy fruit sorbet is not really talking bout ok?) that I can/will eat. And you can't get it in the state of washington. How great is that? Not! One of the main things I look forward to about going to SF is being able to get "my" ice cream. What am I talking about? Nut milk ice cream. Dairy, NO! Soy, NO! Rice, NO! Nut milk. Period. If you haven't had some, you have no idea what you are missing (well you other gluten/soy-free vegans out there). It is delicious, it is creamy, I can eat a whole pint in one sitting. And better yet, I can eat a whole pint and only consume 600 calories..... Oh yeah. Most people think nut milk would have alot more calories than even dairy (like its frozen peanut butter or something...) but in fact Nut milks (like the Almond Milk I put on my granola every morning) has about 30 or so less calories per serving than the other guys. I know what some of you runners are thinking, count calories boo!!!!! But really, to me there is something even MORE satisfying to eating a whole pint of ice cream and knowing it didn't take my entire run for the day to burn it. Plus, I make my own nut milk and there is absolutely no sugar in nut milk ice cream, so its alot healthier. All of that said, I have been trying to think of some creative alternatives to gluten free baked goods for the occasional treat and nut milk ice cream came floating to mind. Knowing no where in Washington sells or even wants to consider carrying it (I even asked the Vegan Store to carry it and they said no one would buy it...people don't even know!), I am stuck in a position that I often find myself in in the last year or so being gluten/soy free and vegan....Make it myself. I hoped online and saw that William Sonoma was carrying the one we used in culinary school and I was stoked. There is a store close to my house, so hoping against hope that they 1) had it and 2) had the same 45% discount happening, I went down to check it out. And lo and behold, they did! I bought it and am currently enjoying the thought that pretty soon here, I will be making my first batch of almond milk ice cream. I will post pictures, as soon as I make it.

Week in Review

After last week sans recovery feeling, I was thinking that I would have some inevitable slow down this week. I took monday off, got a massage with the wonderful and amazing Alison, whom I am hoping will soon have her massage website up so I can send all of you too it and book with her and hoped that my legs would come back to me by Tuesday. I had run 86, 95 (not 91 like I thought and posted as such) and 78 miles in the previous three weeks and figured my body would probably insist on taking it easy. But surprisingly, I was wrong. Boy was I wrong!

Tuesday came all too soon and I wasn't able to get out to Cougar Mtn like I hoped because I was waiting around the office for a Fedex, which when it came finally, I was unable to work in the files that I needed to complete the project. I was pretty frustrated and all the co-workers who could help me in the Atlanta office were MIA, so instead of kicking things or sitting there and simmering, I decided to go on what my high school best friend (whom I miss dearly) EP and I use to call a "I hate you so much right now" run, the chorus of this song being the idea. When one of these runs was in store, they were intense and fast. The idea was to run your way out of anger, that or run until you are so exhausted you can't be angry. I took off at a sub 7 minute pace and ran 11 miles, even with a bit of slow down on the big hills (like Wallingford Ave). I averaged 7 min pace for the entire run. And, even more important, I felt better, went back to work and was able to complete the task. That evening, I went up to SRC to do the club run and figured I would pull back so I didn't blow up too early in the week and not get at least a good recovery week in. Or so thought I. Usually there is a group of guys who gets pretty competitive at the front for the tuesday runs. Sometimes I run with them, sometimes I don't. Well, none of them were there and so I figured, great I can just cruise and not feel like I am chasing. Instead, I was out there in front doing my thing. After the initial mile or so, I was running alone with a new guy in the group and we were keeping a nice quick pace. I felt really good actually. We powered up Interlaken, Galer and through the park. Not only were we the first back to the soccer field, but we ran 2 minutes faster than I usually run that route. So much for taking it easy.

Wednesday, I decided to get out to Cougar to make up for my missed opportunity on Tuesday. I was joined for my run by Jove. We planned to do about 10 miles, doing the loop that Alison and I usually do. However, I was evidently distracted or not thinking because I managed to miss one of our early turns and we ended up going a new and creative way around. We went up Quarry trail and then did the Wilderness Peak loop. He is a very good uphiller, so I pushed myself on the uphill hard in order to at least give him a good workout. While we were running, we were discussing the way I feel comparatively between this year and last. It was interesting to think about. It is really hard to say. I definitely don't feel as fast as I was at this time last year, but really I shouldn't. I feel equally fit and more strong and streamlined than I did this time last year. That is where the ideas of angles and surfaces came to mind. Last year at this time, I was peaking for Mad City 100k which was VERY much the focus of the first half of my season. One year ago today, I did the Napa Valley Marathon as a training run (in a big training week for me last year 70 miles!) and won. A month previous, I had run Jed Smith 50k and won/course record and ran one of the fastest times for an American woman in 10 years. I have had a few occasions lately where I have lamented feeling not feeling that fast anymore. But then I remember, my focus is different now. The angles and surfaces are different. This year (first half of the season), I am focusing on running up great big hills on trail and doing that fast and strong. Compared to last year, I am much stronger in that department. I think that is just another one of those things that I have keep reminding myself (but have known from the beginning/ why I love ultrarunning) is that you will never really be able to compare one race to another, there are just too many factors. Nonetheless, we kept running. I manged to run us in another circle on our way trying to connect to the Lost Beagle Trail and we ended up doing a 2hr run, which Jove seemed fine with. Best laid plans right? It was really fun and I look forward to running with him again.

Thursday, oh Thursday. As I blogged, I was not having a good day, but I managed to get out and do a 14+ mile loop. The sunshine went a long way in thawing my heart and I was able to gain some equilibrium in my own mind. I realized that I have for my entire life, been seeking meaning. Last summer, I even realized that I often overlooked what was here and now, in search of some future meaning, etc. At that point, I came to the realization that there is inherently meaning in everything/ no meaning in anything (which if you think about it, really is the same thing). Most of the time, this is a very freeing actualization for me and brings me firmly into the moment. But sometimes, especially since I have also lifelong been prone to melancholy, it is jus such a sorrowing thought. But as I ran, I was once again able to see, that is it neither a good or bad thing, it just is and by accepting it, I am able to embrace it. I have known for a long time, as I said in that blog, that "mama said there'll be days like this" and that I just have to be patient until they go away. In voicing my feelings, I was really looking for an answer simply facing myself on the page and expelling it from within, which is begins of turning the tides on it.

By the time Friday rolled on in, I was thinking my legs were going to be DOA. I had already done 45 miles in 3 days and had gone to sleep with very tired legs. But I woke up on Friday morning feeling decent and headed out mid morning for a tempo-esqe workout. One of the things I need to start being more religious about in my training is speed/tempo workouts. I need to do them weekly and be good about it. I am not sure what exactly my tempo pace currently would look like. I am not in speedster pace like I was last year, so its harder to gauge. But I figured, a hair faster/ about equal to my marathon pace of a year ago was a good goal for this workout. I ran my first 4.12 miles in 6:36 pace and then eased up for the second recovery lap in 6:47 pace. When I got home (especially in light of Jove and my conversation) I did a little, oh yeah I still got it dance, knowing that I felt very comfortable at those paces and if I had rested legs would be able to pull them off for much longer (even a marathon). As a delicious reward I decided to make some gluten free/vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Bread. Another great recipe from Karina's Kitchen, this bread absolutely rocks. Great texture, fantastic flavor combination and straight out of the oven provided some seriously warm gooey goodness. It must have been a chocolate kind of day, because later that evening I made my Mole Skillet Pie. Aren't I glad Dark Chocolate is so good for you!

After making the bread, finishing up the afternoon of work and getting the Mole Skillet Pie oven ready, I went for my second run of the day. I headed down along the Burke Gillman and to Fremont for my favorite loop. I got on Wallingford Avenue and despite having run fast in the morning, I was flying up the hill! I was impressed with myself. By the time I got home, I was twice as giddy as I had been after my morning run. I put my Mole Skillet Pie in the oven and soon there after enjoyed its many layered deliciousness.

Saturday morning at 9am, I met up with Alison, James and many other runners (Laura, Greg Crowther, Van Phan, you know, the usual suspects) to do the 3hr (there was also a 10k and 6 hr option) run at Des Moines Park. The course was a 4 mile loop, with a shorter loop of 1.1 miles for when you were close to the cut off time. Alison, whose hamstring has been bothering her and I set off at a very conservative pace, especially since this wasn't at all a race to us, but merely a quasi-coordinated training run. It was cold at the start so I wore my rain coat and had gloves, I was going to carry a bottle. All of those things got abandoned after 1 lap. The loop itself was most MTN bike track and though pretty flat, never really allowed you to get a rhthym because it was so twisty. Alison and I did 3 laps together and then she decided to slow up and mind her hamstring. The laps were not going as fast as I had anticipated, but I wanted to get at least 20 miles for the day. With 15 minutes left, I came into the start/finish at exactly 20 miles, everyone encouraged me to go do the 1.1 mile loop and so I took off as hard and as fast as my tired (finally) legs could carry me. So for the day, I got 21.1 good miles in.

Today, I met up with the SRC Sunday group, as well as Alison and James for a 14 miler Cougar Squaw Mtn loop(was suppose to be 16 but someone at the front didn't do Central Peak?). My legs were very tired, so I was glad that Alison wanted to take it easy as well.It was a pleasant run and was my first time on Squaw, which is very nice!

This has been a really great training week and though I am tired, I am happy to be because I know my training is going well. This is "good training" tired. I did 96 miles this week and there is even a small part of me that thinks I might even have a recovery run left in me yet for today (just a short tool around Greenlake!?!? 5 miles thats all!) but not likely. I feel good that I am pushing myself but still being smart about not overtraining. The next two weeks leading up to Chuckanut will be a semi-taper though I am planning on training through the race. I just want to get my legs as fresh as possible for that race. All in all, a great week.

Addendum: I did, in fact, go for that extra 5 mile run, putting my week at 101 miles. And even more surprising was how great I felt. I just kept telling myself this was my final charge to the finish line at WS. I actually strapped on my pack and ran round Greenlake and then to whole foods, so really I was just reducing my carbon footprint, multitasking and breaking the 100 mile mark all in one :)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kinda Quarterlife-y

There are just those days when life sometimes fits like a coarse wool shirt on bare skin. It comes out of nowhere and is often prompted by nothing specifically. A feeling of inherent meaninglessness just zaps all semblance of energy and passion and all I want to do is crawl back under the covers and try to sneak out the other side of the bed. And its not even like getting out of the bed on the wrong side really, it is not a bad mood, its not anger, sadness or some combination of emotions that is traceable to anything tangible. Its a feeling that has a popularized term to describe it: the quarter-life crisis. And even that description floats towards the surface of the feeling. Just because supposedly lots of people feel this way, doesn't really help. In alot of ways, it just makes me say, see it is in fact true. I think I need a distraction, I need direction. Working from home, I don't get a lot of distractions. Being single, as well as working from home, I don't get a lot of breaks from my inner space. And a lot of time thats a good thing. Sometimes I can just float in that space like a body suspended on the dead sea, face pointed towards the sun, contented. But not today. Today, I stretch to find a way out, to be thrown a lifeline that at least when I pull, goes taunt instead of giving, at least promising of a secure rooting on the other end. Social life, running, job, financials....I look everywhere for respite but find none. I hear the maternal voice echoing for patience and instinctively think, have I not been? And instead of being moved to even just distract myself, I can do nothing but sit in it, neck high in the muckety muck. I am frozen in space and time. Sigh, even trying to write about it feels forced beyond belief... I tried pancakes (to make me feel better), I will soon try running and hopefully that will at least distract me for a bit. The pancakes, as delicious as they were, just made me worry about other things. I had a few busy days of work, and then today back to the usual. I just need to get out of the house, I need to find connection, I need to find a bit of freedom for this feeling. Each sentence is like this space, floating away separate from each around it, yet combining into one big stew. I'm going to have patience, what choice do I have and tell myself that tomorrow will be better. The old, "act as if"....

Blueberry Gluten Free Pancakes
My one triumph of the day was making from scratch some very delicious Blueberry Gluten Free Pancakes from a recipe that I created. I had been looking around this morning for a recipe for Gluten Free Pancakes but found nothing that sounded appealing, so I took stock of the approximate proportions of dry to wet ingredients and headed into the test kitchen. I have to say, I've got skills. The pancakes were fluffy, not overly sweet and a great prerun fuel up (though, 5 hours later, I still haven't run yet BUT still).

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Mix
1 tbsp Sucanata
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup applesauce (I used blackberry applesauce)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2/3 cup berries

In a bowl mix dry ingredients. Add almond milk and blend well. Add egg & vanilla and fold into batter. Add applesauce and continue to mix by hand. The batter should be pretty liquid and not too dense. Add the berries and gently fold them into the batter. Heat a skillet over medium to medium high heat. Scoop out 1/4 cup -1/2 cup of batter and pour into the skillet (you can grease the pan if you want but I had no sticking), spread around to desired thickness. I made mine with about a 1/2 cup of batter because I am a runner damnit and some little pancake is not going to do anything for me! I let it cook, watching it like a hawk for about 1.5 minutes, until the edges were starting to look cooked but the middle was still pretty liquidy. Flip and continue cooking until cooked through. When the bottom was as crisp and toasty brown as the top is when I figured I was good to take it off and I was right. These were absolutely delicious. I served mine up with a banana, pear, chopped pecans and some grade A Maple Syrup. My body has definitely been on a grain bent lately (kinda like my potato and brussel sprouts) and so I have been obliging as much as I can. As a GF special needs eater, this is more difficult for me than most and being a runner who needs a nice hefty portion of food in the mornings this is even more difficult, so these pancakes filled the bill nicely. Not to sweet, not to heavy, good and good for you.

Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes, the sequel
Last month I posted this recipe after making it with my uncle and his girlfriend. On tuesday night, I made them again and this time remember to take pictures. Absolutely delicious! I served it up with a side of sauteed broccoli, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers with red pepper flakes. These are great even as leftovers!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Recovery Week sans the recovery part

After a big training week last week of 91 miles(!), I had planned this week to be a nice recovery week including two days off and hopefully get my legs back. But plans quickly change when the sun comes out! I took Monday off, which was very enjoyable and my legs felt like they would bounce back quickly if I took it easy this week. Tuesday morning, Justin emailed and asked if I would be keen to get out on Cougar and I had had the same idea, as the sun was absolutely brilliant. We did a nice 10 miles, a bit faster than either of us had really intended in 1:26. I guess we just got talking and our feet just followed. It was great to run in short sleeves and it was great to have the company. That evening, I went up to SRC for the club run and was running with Alan who also ran Orcas and was thus keen to take it easy. About a mile + into the run, I said, "um, if this is recovery pace, then I am going to need to slow down", He said, "I was following your pace". I said, "me, I was following you!". We laughed and told the sizeable group of fast guys that they were going to have to carry on without us, we slowed to a much more manageable pace and had a nice 6 mile run/chat. Wednesday was another beautiful day and I couldn't resist heading out to Cougar for a little longer jaunt. I headed out on the loop Alison and I usually do and added De Lao (spelling?) Wall as well as Wilderness Peak which definitely was not really a recovery effort at all. I could tell my legs were tired and the hills were tough. But the sun was shining, I took my time and other than a minor 1 mile detour near the end, it was a great run. Thursday I rested, Friday I ran (literally) some errands, then ran to lunch with Tara and then home via the uberlong way, up and over Capitol Hill, down along Eastlake, around Lake Union, up through Fremont, down around Greenlake and home, phew. Saturday, I did a nice and easy 9 miles on the roads. I realized at that point that there was nothing very recovery about my week and my Sunday was not looking any better.

I decided to go up on Sunday to Chuckanut with Dan to preview the Chuckanut 50k course, middle 18 miles. Dan was kind enough to take me around for the hilly parts of the course, avoiding all but about 1 mile of the flat part that is the center of the love/hate relationship with this course. Ultimately we did about 20. My legs were absolutely with out juice. Nutritionally, I ran into the same digestive issues before the run, which I need to figure out STAT and thus was feeling a bit low on energy. My legs were just plain tired too, which is natural. Dan was very patient with me and I was happy to get out and enjoy the nice morning. We ran into Laura and her training partners up near fragrance lake and as we ran up Cleator Road it was like grand central station. Everyone was out checking out the course or getting ready. We had stashed my car at the top of Cleator as our aid station, we filled up, I tried a Honey Stinger which is one of my team Inov-8 sponsors. It was quite delicious and despite being sweet (though not any more than any other gel), I liked it. I have heard that sometimes if they are kept too long that the gels (as does honey) can harden and not be very gel like. In other words, they are like honey and therefore act like honey. Which to me is a good thing, as I really am not that comfortable taking things that have no relationship to anything natural. We ran up and along the ridgeline trail, then lost lake and finally up Chin Scraper. At that point we got to "enjoy" a bunch of downhill. Dan had been very patient with me on the uphill and I got to return the favor on the down and flats. I was very happy to be done and ready to be done. Dan drove me back up Cleator and I jumped in my car and headed back to Seattle. All in all, it was a great week although it was not as recovery as I had intended. I am very much looking forward to my day off tomorrow and my massage with Alison! A recovery week with 78 miles is great, not for the recovery part, but at least to know I can put back to back weeks together like that!

View from the ridge

On the ridge trail

Dan ready to be done on the flats

Hot pink knee socks, no joke.

the first time my toes have been painted in a year

Chia Seed posting will be forthcoming, but right now....its time to eat.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hot Date

Tonight I had a hot date, that included delicious homemade sushi, as well as a Citrus-Soy Seared Tuna Stir-fry. Candle light and everything. Hot date with who you ask? Myself! Tonight I reinstituted the hot date with myself which use to be a staple for me when I lived in Pittsburgh. Now, most of my meals are in fact as well thought out and prepared but tonight, I took the time to focus on my meal, sit down at the table and do more than just refuel. It was nice.I was pleased with the sushi I had made and the Stir-fry was fabulous.

Homemade Sushi
Sushi is relatively easy to make. I simply combined some raw ahi tuna (sushi grade of course), avocado, brown rice, nori seaweed and gomashio. You can play with the ingredients depending on what you like (carrots, daikon, etc)! You need a sushi rolling mat. Nori sheet on the bottom, spread the rice on about 4/5ths of the nori roll, some avocado and thinly sliced tuna, sprinkle with gomashio and some chopped scallions. Rolling sushi is a bit challenging, but you need to grab hold and start rolling. Rolling the mat over while you hold the ingredients in with your fingers. Once its all the way rolled up, using a bit of water seal the nori to itself. Mix up some wasabi and soy, and enjoy!

Citrus Soy Seared Tuna Stir-fry

Ingredients Stir Fry:
1 carrot, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup sugar snap peas
2-3 cups spinach
1/2 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
10 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 burdock root, peeled and sliced
tuna leftover from sushi
leftover brown rice
1 tsp gomashio
1 tbsp peanut oil
1-2 tbsp Citrus-Soy Sauce
1/4 avocado

Ingredients citrus-soy sauce (makes more than you need for this meal, save for later!):
zest and juice from a small orange
zest and juice from a lemon
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown rice vinegar

mix the ingredients and set aside while you prepare the stir-fry.

Heat peanut oil over medium heat in a large saute pan or wok. Saute the onion for a few minutes, add burdock, carrots and garlic, cook a bit more. Add broccoli and peas, cooking until they start to cook. When nearly done, throw the shiitakes and spinach in there. Meanwhile over medium heat in a dry skillet, sear the remaining pieces of tuna. Depending on the thickness this could be 20-30 seconds per side. Remember, it is sushi grade tuna, a bit (or alot) of pink is just fine (and delicious). Remove from skillet and set aside. To plate, mix the remaining rice in with the cooked veggies and put on your favorite dish. Put pieces of tuna on the top, as well as slices of avocado. Sprinkle gomashio over the top and serve!

Mac Daddy (Vegan, Gluten Free macaroni and cheese)
This delicious recipe comes from Karinas Kitchen blog. I was in the mood for something like macaroni and cheese, so I tried this recipe and it was absolutely wonderful. Macaroni and cheese is one of my all time favorites and my most treasured former comfort food. But there is not a single ingredient in my macaroni and cheese (the way Norma taught me) I can eat. I was very impressed with myself at Thanksgiving that I could pull off the dish in its full glory without being able to taste test it. This recipe filled the void nicely. I would recommend it EVEN if you like dairy/gluten mac and cheese (its much healthier!).

You definitely have to make the bread crumbs and put the tomatoes on top. I also added a bag of frozen cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. Mind you, this adds to the cooking time by about 20 minutes because the veggies have to heat up!

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'm a hasher afterall

Food and blogging about it can take up so much of my attention that I lose track of all other things. For example, like just now when I was writing up my race report I left a pot of water on to boil to make tea and promptly forgot about it, but steadily wondering what that burning smell was. THANKFULLY, I just mucked up my pan a bit (hopefully not too bad, its my own pan that size). But I had been concentrating on writing up that blog, so I could get to this one. The one about food that is what matters right!!!

Last week, John Pearch had mentioned something about being a Hasher and I said, yeah no, I am not a hasher because I can't drink beer, though the idea of combining drinking and running is not an idea I am unfamiliar with. I mean I did run the Napa Valley Marathon to win the wine. But as the title suggests, I am a hasher after all. A breakfast hash-er that is. This morning, in lieu of having an opportunity to make a well thought out dinner, I made a spectacular breakfast. That satisfies the "morning after" (race that is) hunger. In fact, I like that so much, that is what I am going to call this recipe. I slept really well last night and woke to another beautiful day and beautiful lazy days insist on a better breakfast. Much like my new found love of my cast iron panini grill, I have a rebirth in my love of my cast iron skillet. I just never got in the habit of using it....oh how that is about to change!

Morning After Hash
serves: 1


1/2 onion, 1/2 inch dice
1/2 red bell pepper, 1/2 inch dice
1/3 anaheim pepper, 1/2 inch dice
4-5 mushrooms, 1/2 dice
6 small red, blue or white potatoes, 1/2 dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
red pepper flakes
chili powder
sea salt (lots)

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced (or if already on hand, throw some eggs in the end and scramble the whole mess up together!)
1/2 avocado, sliced
3 tablespoons medium salsa


In a cast iron skillet, over medium high heat, heat the olive oil and add the potatoes.Cover the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, stirring on occasion, but mostly just occupying yourself with getting your other ingredients chopped. Add in onions and cook f0r 2-3 more minutes, then add the remaining veggies and cook an additional 7-8 minutes, again stirring at your leisure. Add a few dashes of red pepper flakes, a tbsp or two of chili powder and as much salt as you need. Plate the mixture and put the slices of hard boiled eggs and avocado on top and a nice size scoop of Salsa, in this case San Juan Salsa Co salsa (keeping the theme of the weekends race). Enjoy while sitting in the sun and reading a good book, well thats how I did it!

Orcas Island 50k Fat Ass Race Report

After last weekends trip out to Orcas to do trail work, I was really looking forward to this weekend's Fat Ass. Orcas is phenomenally beautiful and the weather has been so great all week, I couldn't wait to get out and do a good hard training race on Orcas. By the middle of the week, the course was still up in the air but James finally emailed at weeks end to say that we would be doing a snow route since there was still 18 inches of snow on the top of Mt. Constitution. Frankly, I was a little relieved. I did no taper for this race because it was always intended as a training race and thus I put in about 65 miles this week going into the race, with only one day this week under 10 miles. I was pretty pleased with that, but knew that wouldn't have been conducive to running the non-snow Orcas route which has 9,000 feet of climbing. Instead, I come to find out later there was a paltry 6,900 feet of climbing!

I had originally intended to go up on Saturday and spend the night (despite knowing I would not sleep very well, as I have discussed). But on Friday, my mother called me and she was so sick she didn't even sound like herself on the phone. I spent most of Friday at her house taking care of her, fretting and frankly not liking seeing my mother sick at all. It is a very scary thing to see someone you love sick and I think this is especially true in the parent-child dynamic (in either case). I am not sure if I got a touch of what she had or if my own digestive issues just decided to breakthrough over the night on Friday, but I got barely any sleep and spent a good portion of the night in the bathroom as well. Not a good way to get ready for a race. On Saturday, I just couldn't get things together enough to try and make it onto one of the few ferries that heads up to Anacortes and I was so tired and dehydrated that I figured spending the time I would have traveling that day that I would spend it napping and taking care of my mom who was doing a bit better. I had my prerace meal and packed up my bags for the race in the morning. I had to get up at 3:30am to drive up to Anacortes to catch the 6:05 ferry which would put me at the start line a bit before 8am, plenty of time before the 8:30 start. Furthermore, I figured I could 1) sleep more waiting for the ferry/on the ferry 2) actually like being awake for a few hours before a race so my muscles are warm. I had wanted to be able to spend time with all of my friends up on the island but I just felt a bit too worried and stressed to head up.

3:30 came early but I felt incredibly relaxed and refreshed surprisingly. I grabbed my prepacked bags, threw some post race goodies in a reusable grocery bag (including the remaining brownies I made the other day to give to Alison) and a few books, just in case I had to wait for the ferry coming back. I made my traditional pre-race breakfast with a twist. I have a cast iron panini press and this morning decided to toast my sandwich using it. Two slices of brown rice bread, almond butter, banana, all gooey and toasty. Too bad everything was still going right through me. I ate a half and hoped it would stay with me, but it didn't. I was going to eat my Chia Seeds and didn't. That is an error that I definitely felt during the race and one I will not make again. Afterall, I swear by Chia Seeds so much I took them to the Netherlands with me, you'd think I would take them when local. I drove up to Anacortes and could tell that it was going to be a warm clear day, as even at that hour it was already over 40 degrees.

I hoped on the ferry and spotted Brian Morrison's car behind me. I laughed because I thought I had spotted him on the freeway driving up, turns out I was correct. I easily made the ferry and boarded, used the bathroom, again and then headed back to my car for a nap. I was feeling a little nervous about how my endurance would be without much absorption of calories from my pre-race dinner and breakfast, but I told myself again that this was a training run and that it was a good exercise for what could happen at any point in my first 100. I managed to eat the other half of the sandwich which also ended up in the same place as all the others, unfortunately. The cat nap felt good and as we powered along through the early morning, the sun started to come out and was a phenomenal sight.

I made my way across the island, noticing as I went that I was running pretty low on gas and noted to myself to get some before I got back on the ferry. I made it to the start, checked in, gave Alison her brownies and glove (yes singular) and chatted with a few people. I hadn't been able to tell anybody that I wasn't coming up on Saturday, as there is no cell phone signal, so they were wondering what happened to me. I got geared up, opting for one waterbottle instead of two (yes, Alison had told me two is good 100 training but I got a TB booster on Thursday and my left arm was still sore from that). I made another mistake by putting only two gels in my waterbottle, thinking that there would be gels available at the aid stations. I tucked some extra Nuun in my back pocket, along with tylenol and ginger. I said a quiet little prayer(to who I don't know) that my stomach would stay together. We gathered out on the lawn, aka the start and with a few brief instructions from RD James, we were off. I hadn't seen some of the "usual suspects" at the start, in fact I didn't recognize a good percentage of the people, so I took off by myself about 10/sec or so slower than the front group which charged out of the gate like we were running a 5k. Matt Hart (Nuun) and Jenn Segger leading the way, we quickly funneled out of the wide field and onto some single track around Cascade Lake. I had gone out incredibly quickly to avoid congestion at the start and worked hard around the lake. I could tell there was absolutely no way I would be able to stick with this pace for a long time, but the field spread out quickly and shook out. After going around the lake, we crossed the road and entered what James had delicately described as a "bit of cross country" which meant a Hardrocker doing what Hardrockers do and having us run up so steep stuff which at some points requires you to stick your hands in the dirt and pull yourself up. It was a relatively short section which I was happy to reach the top of. I was with a pack of guys including Brian Morrison and his running buddy Michael (yeah or was it Eric... we have never been formally introduced, but he and Brian run together alot) and as we came to the top of the hill, we immediately went straight back down the other side. I mean STRAIGHT down. I am a really excellent downhiller and never hold back on downhills, but this hill, brakes were absolutely required, otherwise you would probably end up falling and seriously hurting yourself. We made it down and a few of the guys took off ahead of us. I took pause in my brain, knowing that there was a lead pack beyond them and therein, a woman leader, and I fought the temptation to try and waste myself catching up. Brian hadn't taken off with Michael and company and we conversed about trying to remember when you set foot on a race course what you are there for. He too was out for a training race, we are both doing Western States and so it was nice to have a strong runner to run with for a bit. I knew inevitably I would have to back off the pace further as I could feel my already limited energy stores draining. We crossed a road at one point and I tripped, stumbled and managed to catch myself before doing a full facial into the pavement. Nice save. We made it up through the first aid station and then he and the two others who had been silently running behind us, disappeared in front of me. I ate my 1/2 pack of Clif Shot Bloks and tried to find my groove. I was appreciating the loop around the lake which rolled softly along, just my kind of terrain. I could probably go on forever on this kind of terrain, but alas, after looping around the lake, we take a sharp left up the hill to connect to the South End Boundary Trail. When we had started going around the lake I had "recognized" the trail, though we had run it in reverse and in the dark the previous week. That had given me a boost and it gave me an even bigger boost to know I was running up the hill to the South End Boundary Trail which I had seen not only in the daylight, but in the right direction. I kept drinking my Nuun but could tell that I was pre-dehydrated (from being ill) and that the running was just not letting me catch up. I made it to the SE Boundary Trail and let out a little whoop (or was it more like an overly vocalized sigh of relief) and headed down it, admiring Alison, the ranger and my handwork at clearing the trail. I got down to a junction where we headed up hill again to do the "Secret Loop" which is a bit of trail and a bit more of cross country which takes you to an open mossy field with the most astonishing view of the Sound, the Islands and the Mountains from Canada to Oregon. And it was a crispy clear, sunny day and so everything just glistened. Where is my camera when I need it? In the car of course! As I had been heading into the loop, I saw Jenn coming out of the loop which put me a few minutes behind her, at least 5. I came back out of the loop and as I passed the junction for the Secret Loop remembered that we had marked our mileage from that spot on our night run, 3.91 miles to go. This was both a good and bad thing. I knew this part of the course, but at the same time, my energy levels were tanking and like it had previously, this 3.91 miles felt like forever. I struggled up a few steep hills and finally made it back to the road and headed up to Cascade Falls. Coming down the hill at the base of the falls was quite the sight. This course is a feast for the eyes, especially on a day like it was, sunny and beautiful. Glen was sitting on a rock clicking away on his camera and gave me an encouraging "Go Devon" yell. I smiled weakly and ran up the stairs to the road which takes us back to the start/finish area. A young guy wearing a texas jersey had caught up to me and we ran down the road. I was feeling like crap, a bit light headed and definitely not my best bright and shiny self. We turned down the hill and everyone was there cheering. Now is when I mention that this was a two loop course. I searched the aid station table for a gel of some kind, but there were none, damn. Alison was there, smiling and encouraging, she asked me how I was doing and I growled something about "feeling like crap" and "I started on zero (energy/calories) and am running on fumes". I was definitely not the nice, smiling, happy me that I like to be. I immediately felt ashamed of myself but took off running back toward the grassy field and Cascade Lake loop beyond (proverbial tail between my legs). I decided that my goal for this loop was to 1) suffer if that is what my body asked of me 2) check my attitude and 3) remember that this was an extremely valuable experience even if I had to feel less than 100%. I also reminded myself that how did I expect to feel on the last day of a nearly 100 mile week (nota bene, I have run maybe 2-3 in my entire short running career that have been over 90 miles). Texas and I (for lack of a real name) ran around the lake together and chatted a bit, it was really nice to have someone to take my mind off the suffering. We headed back up the cross-country section of the course and then back down again. We ran along together for a while, but he (as we had discussed earlier) was a good strong uphiller and so when I slowed on a few hills to save energy he kept on going. Before he took off, I bummed a gel off him and downed it twenty minutes later. I had had another gel just after leaving the aid station and was just trying to bring my body back from the brink. I finally made it to the aid station and asked John Pearch for a gel. He had one (lucky me!) and gave it to me. I stuffed it in my waterbottle, downed two tylenol and an S!Cap, since I was very dehydrated. I felt myself coming back together and my attitude thawed a bit. At this point, I knew what was to come and was able to settle into a nice pace and be pulled along by knowing that I only had 9 miles to go. Even turning left up the hill to the SE Boundary Trail was a welcome sight because I knew that meant I was closer to once again being 3.91 miles from, this time, the finish line. My quads were more sore than they usually are from the steep downhills. I went into the Secret Loop and saw Van Phan coming down out of the loop. I assumed that she had opted for the 7:30 early start because I hadn't seen her at the 8:30 normal start. I got to the top of the Secret Loop and yelled, "now that is beautiful" Even moreso this time, with my attitude checked and heart thawed, the sight was amazing. I did a little pep talk with myself and thought of my sister during her first marathon repeating towards the end "you can do it" over and over again, I thought about my friend, Jamie and told myself that this was a heart and gut check time. I zoomed down the hill and worked my way back to the road. I caught up to Van at this point and passed her going up the hill. I was giddy by this point, knowing I was almost done and finally feeling like me again. Glen had moved and caught me smiling as I came down the trail to the Falls. I bounded across the creek and up the stairs. Heading up the trail to the road I caught a guy whose friend had come down to run the final 400 of so meters with. I booked past them, digging deep not in a competitive way, but because I always finish running as fast as I can, it is my way, you must finish strong. I turned off the road and flew down the short time, speeding into the finish at 5:24, second place woman. It was a great run and I am glad, despite its rough patches and such, that I put all I had on this day into it.

photos by the amazing Glenn Tachiyama

I checked my watch it was 2pm. I had hoped that I would be done about that time so I could attempt to make the 2:55 ferry back to Anacortes since I was still worried about my mom and had no way to call her out there at camp. I ducked into the mess hall (for lack of a better term) where alot of the 25k-ers were hanging out as well as the other 50k finishers. Alison was giving a massage and I saw Laura, who rumor had it had made not one but 2 gluten free cakes. I told them that I was going to try and catch the ferry and dashed off. I said bye to a few others, felt a bit bad to have been able to spend so little time on the island and with that, dashed to the ferry. My gas gauge was on zero as I drove but I knew I couldn't stop if I wanted to make the ferry. I got to the ferry rolled down my window and the attendant told me, "you will be on the 6:15 ferry!" Dang and blast! It was 2:30. So much for that wonderful idea. It was sad since I was now stuck on the other side of the island and couldn't go back to camp to hang out with the crew, which I really wanted to do. I went into the bathroom and cleaned up and changed. I ate a bar, apple and banana and attempted to rehydrate.I headed into the Cafe with Van (who had similarly tried to make the ferry) and Brian & Co and a few others I didn't recognize and hung out while they enjoy beer and burgers.. The time passed relatively quickly and we boarded the ferry which was filled with other runners who all had been at camp and come later. I hung out with Daniel whom I had met on Krissy's bday run, who just ran the Arrowhead 135mile race! My car managed to start to get off the ferry and I made it to the gas station and then home where I finally enjoyed my post race dinner, veggie pad thai with hard boiled eggs. Delicious. After a long day, I collapses happily into bed, content at a good days work and a fun run.
What a great day. My only regret is not being able to hang out with everybody and relax out on the island, but I am happy to report my mom is doing much better.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What could be better?

Than sunshine? Sunshine, the beach, running and then to top off a perfectly lovely day, gluten free dark chocolate brownies. Today was another beautiful day in Seattle, slightly warm, nearing 50 degrees and crystal clear for most of the day. Working away at my desk I was beckoned outside and half tempted again to hop in my car and head towards the mountains for a 15 mile loop on Tiger Mtn. I checked the weather out there....raining, so I strapped on my road shoes, filled up my Nathan waterbottle with Nuun and off I went! I headed out towards Greenlake and looped around to the north and continued on past the lake towards Ballard to do a 15 mile loop. I ran, quiet and methodical through the very plain city streets (silently wishing it were the trail) until the sun warmed my back and I got the sense of one of my favorite things in life: Seattle in Spring. I could smell it, like a tantalizing tease, just on the edge of the moment, ready to scamper back into hiding for a few more weeks of winter. But it was there, I felt it. And it felt soooo good. It is something I haven't had in a long time, a Seattle springtime, years, too many years. I made it to the beach at Golden Gardens and took pause and jokingly said in my head, "ha ha, I am at the beach on a beautiful sunny day in February". And then off I went. I wrapped back past the locks, into Ballard and down along Burke Gilman to connect to a section I normally do (in reverse) from Fremont to my house via Burke Gilman. Somedays I can run 20 miles and never need food or water, some days I am not so lucky. It had been about 6 hours since breakfast and as I turned the corner past Fred Meyer onto the Burke Gilman, I could tell it was one of those days when it would have been a good idea to have some Clif Shot Bloks or something stashed in my waterbottle pocket. No such luck. I had assumed wrong that my breakfast was going to sustain me, but we all make mistakes. I know, I know....NGWS, but I never carry anything with me on road runs under 16 miles, except my Nuun. Ok, ok, I hear the peanut gallery shaming me already, so I will carry it, just in case. Just as I was having a mini-bonk (I knew I could keep clipping along, albeit with a bit of a lightheaded feeling), I see a runner coming towards me and I immediately think two things. One, "that person must be an ultrarunner" and therefore, two " I must know them". I could tell by the fact that they were carrying a backpack while clipping along, as well as warmup pants and coat (very run to regular life look). And lo and behold, I was right. It was Matt Hart, coach extraordinare, ultrarunner, adventure racer as well as the man in charge of Team Nuun! We greeted each other and stopped for a chat. I was rocking my Nuun Visor which we both agreed was one of our current favorite accessories. He was heading to the grocery store to get some food after teaching spinning at Sound Mind and Body. We chatted for a bit and then off I went for the final five miles of my run. The sun started to fade a bit behind some clouds, the temperature dropped a bit and I was once again reminded that it is, in fact, still only February. I made it home, at some food and then headed to the grocery to get some ingredients to make gluten free brownies!

I had been looking on Karina Kitchen's blog for something else when I came upon this recipe for Brownies . I knew at that very moment that I must have them. I had intended on making them earlier in the week so my faithful taste tester could try them (Alison) but I hadn't gotten around to it. This afternoon was the perfect opportunity and wow are they delicious. In fact, the only reason I decided to do this blog right this very second (being my second post today) was to give the brownies time to cool so I could eat them! I made them with the chocolate chip and walnut options and noteworthy to mention, I used peanut oil to oil my pan which added a seriously, seriously delicious hint to the batch. I used organic dark chocolate (which I melted not with a microwave as the directions say, but in a double broiler i.e. a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water) Here are some pictures....

Try these. I mean it. Even if you are not gluten intolerant. They have no weird gluten free texture feel and the dark chocolate is absolutely decadent. And they take no time at all... I am going to have mine with some fresh organic blueberries and a local organic fuji apple. Yum, yum. What a way to finish off the afternoon and power up for a short (5 miles!) night run.

Love is so fickle, it starts with a flood and ends with a trickle

All Loved Up
This is as close to a Valentine's Day post as I will get. And no, that title is not in fact a reflection of my current view on love. It is in fact the lyrics of a song (Bartender) by Regina Spektor that stuck with me yesterday while I was running. The song came on, the thoughts were floating around in my brain and they stuck together. And here I am a day later, with them still scotch taped on the inside of my head.

It seems like during Valentine's Day week that pretty much everything can be a prompt for thinking about ones relationship status, love, relationships, marriage, relating. I have been thinking a lot lately about my own desire or not to have a relationship. The general internal consensus is a cautious yes, but only when it comes along naturally. All that means is, unlike 2007 which was decidedly the "year of me", that in 2008 I would be open to a relationship but am not seeking one like a guided missile. I really like my life right now, I like who I am, I like the things I am involved with....wait, wait, I love my life. Unlike a lot of people, I am very comfortable being alone. That is not to say I am adverse to relationships, not at all. Instead, I am all about relationships for the right reason. I am perfectly comfortable with the reality that the right person will come along at some point and my only responsibility is to be the best me I possibly can be and that will happen. For most that takes too much faith. That is not to say I have unwavering faith, but I believe that as long as I keep my heart, mind and eyes open than everything I need in life will find me. And I also know how I am in relationships and so the cautious part of my yes answer is based on that. Relationships are very hard (even when you are happy, healthy and functioning well). Relationships are a lot like night running, you can be blissfully running along, bounding over roots, floating on the ups, missing each overhanging branch effortlessly and then suddenly you come down a hill and there is a hairpin turn over a bridge to your right that if you had missed you would be launched into the rushing cold water beneath (such as a certain turn we encountered over the weekend on Orcas while night running, where luckily no one went into the stream). I think there is nothing more pure and beautiful in life than love, period. It would be nice to think that relationships are a mere extension of that love, but often relationships aren't. Have you ever considered that in a relationship there are three members? the two in the relationship and the relationship itself. You have to cultivate your own needs, your partners needs and the needs of the relationship. Consider how hard it is to manage our self and our own needs on our own. Just to know our own self is a struggle for many! I never find it surprising that relationships are imperfect. What makes a relationship work is realism, is putting on your work boots and saying, I am going to do what it takes to make this work. And sometimes you do a whole bunch of work and then realize, hey we have a functional relationship (wahoo) without the emotion that it is suppose to be founded on. And that is ok.... I'll take pause now and move on, because I could go on for a really, really long time about this particular subject, but alas I must digress, a bit.

Another thing that prompted me to think about relationships was going to Orcas Island this weekend with Alison, James and John. We had a great weekend, arriving on the Island after a most epic (epic, long....not epic, good) journey. I (apparently) have not been to Orcas since I was 2 months old and thus arriving on the island I was just blown away. I have always loved the Islands but this just made me want to move there, despite all the setbacks of being island locked (like a 2 hour wait for a ferry everytime). Alison blogged about a feeling I very much related to. I have moved around a lot in the past four years and though I haven't had the experience necessarily of not appreciating my surroundings while I am there, I do relate to the idea that she discusses of being in the here and now. I have moved around in part to try and prompt myself back into the here and now. In my journeying, I have always found that I am the best most present version of myself when I am new in a city or town. I have to be, it is a matter of digging in and surviving. But eventually, the feeling wears off and I find myself ready to run again, move away to the next "this is really where I want to be" location. I should instead focus on being present where I am. Thus, if I do decide to move again, it will not be in pursuit of that feeling, but because I genuinely have a desire to be elsewhere. That said, it will be inevitable that I will move from Seattle at some point because I have always wanted to live in a much smaller town, though I would still like to be close (which is probably while Orcas appealed to me in so many ways). But back to the point.... We arrived on Orcas and beelined to camp so that James, Alison, a local Orcas trail runner Randy and I could head out on the trail to get in a run and see where work needed to be. Unlike Alison, my night run experience was less meditative. I tried to pull myself back into the moment and float along, but I was also doing a little Western States training i.e. wearing a very warm coat and gloves despite the temperature being quite pleasant. Heat training as it were, is my least favorite thing. Couple that with falling down for the second time in two days and I was just more annoyed than I had been when we hit the trail. After the run, we sprinted (well, drove) into town and slid into the organic grocery (double bonus for loving the island) and grabbed some ingredients to make the veggie noodle dish that I have posted about previously. Alison and I threw down in the kitchen and with the restrictions of what was available, we made a decent meal. By that point we didn't really care much anyways as we were cold and tired and just wanted fuel and sleep, as it was getting on to 9pm by the time we were fed. James and I did the dishes and we headed back to the bunks to turn in.

This brings me back to my point of why this trip made me think of relationships. James and Alison who are absolutely precious, zipped their sleeping bags together and are obviously excellent co-sleepers. I got into my borrowed sleeping bag and hoped for a good sleep. When I think about being in a relationship, I think about co-sleeping. I am a very light sleeper and I like to sleep on my stomach/side-propped up semi-whatever position (which is not very conducive to cuddling) and I tend to flop around like a fish out of water in the night. I am in fact a very affectionate person. The hardest thing for me about being single is that I need human contact on a regular basis (hugs, whatever), I am a big fan of touch. But I also really like to have a good nights sleep and I have found in past relationships is that it can take me a good long time before I actually sleep when sharing a bed with someone else. The only good co-sleeping position I can manage is sleeping on my left hip and spooning that way (right hip doesn't work as it hurts to sleep on) and even then, I still usually have to readjust in the night, ok, ok TMI on my sleep preferences but whatever. As we all turned in, I put my headphones to listen to some tunes, knowing it was likely I wouldn't fall asleep until they had all settled into sleep for themselves.

When we got up in the morning, I was confirmed in my belief that as much as I love a good cuddle and having someone (even living together), I am not (currently) a good co-sleeper, even if it is just in the same room. I got absolutely no sleep. One of my bunkmates was not only a snorer but a sleep talker. As annoyed as I was, headaching from fatigued, I just tried to remind myself that hey, at least at the end of the day I get to go back to my own bed and not be bothered. That reminded me of the bigger question or idea of relationships because ultimately I know that if I liked/loved someone enough I would adjust. I would give up a months worth of good sleep to adjust to sleeping with someone else (I lived with a heavy snorer for 4 years afterall). Love is better than sleep. But it made me think of the idea of what else would I sacrifice? I think that is why I am most cautious. Sleep yes, but where do I draw my boundaries. Boundaries are important and I think I will remain cautious until I can fully understand my own.

We headed out on the trail with the ranger, did some trail work, enjoyed some beautiful views and then began our long journey back to the city! Overall, despite feeling exhausted by Sunday night, it was a great weekend and it was nice to take pause and have reason to really reflect on where my own boundaries do lie and ponder on relationships a bit. Needlesstosay, when I laid down to sleep on Sunday night I was happy I wasn't sharing my big comfy bed with anyone else.

View from the south end boundary trail, while doing trail work

I made them stop so I could take this picture for Kenzie.

Sushi is the new ultrarunning food
On Monday, I was going to meet Alison down by Pike Place Market for sushi happy hour. I said to Alison that I might run down to meet here from my house and she said, "yeah you should see if you'll want sushi for you at the aid station (at WS)". Though I didn't think I will find much appeal of raw fish at mile 80 on a hot day, I thought it would be nice to see how well I could run on a full stomach. I grabbed my pack, threw in a thermal and a rain coat, my waterbottle with Nuun, wallet and headed out from my house at a little after 3pm to meet her at 4:30 downtown. I was going to take the long way, so I allowed myself time. It was a beautiful day and I wore shorts. But I have also recently reconnected with my basketball days in that I had an overwhelming desire to start wearing knee socks again. That was my trademark when I played ball and for some reason I was struck a couple weeks ago to wear them again. And not just plain white, I wanted something more ironic, so I bought not only white with blue and brown stripes, a pair of gray but also a pair of bright pink with white stripes. I threw these on for my run and off I went. I have to say I think there is a big part of me that really just did it to delight in the twisted up and quizzical faces of the people I passed. At least for the first 4+ miles, I was not only the strange pink sock wearing, backpack toting runner, but I was doing it at a 6:30/mile clip. To me the irony was motivation enough. I got down through Fremont and headed up and over Queen Anne. It was a beautiful day and the run was an absolute joy. I made it down to Pike Place and met Alison. The sushi was the first sushi I have had since last summer and man was it delicious! I always loved sushi and it was one of the hardest things to give up when I decided to go vegan. Alison had to head back to SRC to do another two massages and so I strapped back up and headed out. It started to rain as I headed through downtown and so I put on my raincoat and got to do a bit more heat training like Orcas. As I ran, I realized that despite us joking when we had said it, sushi is actually a really good running food. The combination of rice, seaweed, avocado and pickled ginger are actually a combination I had planned to implement and have on hand at my races. It was nice to see that the fish sat so well. In fact, my stomach felt better than it ever does after eating on the run. There are many simple nutritional explanations for this, including that, at the very least, ginger is very soothing to my stomach. Even with a belly full, I was able to be pretty speedy and not feel the fullness at all. It was nice to see that something I had thought would be something I wanted for 100s actually worked so well and provides the right nutrients. I took a different long way home and managed a very satisfying 15 miles for the day.

As I came down the hill (opposite where this is taken from), I saw this dog
on a high wall (you can't tell how high it is from the pic unfortunately).
It was just funny looking. He looked like he was standing on a very high wall.
Dog on a wall, how curious...must take picture...
He was cute and cuddly looking, in that cute and cuddly til he claws your face off in unrestrained excitement type way.

DPS Navigation System
Alison and I were going to try and get up at 6am to go do our usual Tuesday Cougar Mtn run, but when 6am rolled around, I had little desire to be cold, to drive out there or be doing anything but sleeping and so we decided not to go. Alison had somewhere to be at 10:45 so it was either leave then or not at all. I planned to just do 10 miles elsewhere on the roads later. Around 8, I rolled out a bed and after getting up James called Alison and asked her if she could see the Olympics. Apparently they were out and looking stunning. The sun was shining and it looked beautiful outside. I had the urge to be outside immediately, but I was starving so Alison and I drove to Fremont to Flying Apron so I could get a gluten free muffin and almond milk latte. I then drove Alison up to Queen Anne where she was meeting her friend at 10:45. As I was driving back along Aurora, I could see what James was talking about but even better, I could see the Cascades as well. They were illuminated and vibrant, I had to give in, the road was not going to be good enough for me today. I went back to the house, teleconferenced with my boss, finished up some work and then calculated in my head whether I had enough time to make it to Cougar and back for a 2pm appointment, I did if I left within 10 minutes. I made a quiet apology in my head to Alison, since I had bagged out earlier and threw myself together and peeled out from the house. I made sure I had my Cougar Mtn map, since I have only run on Cougar 3 times. 2 times were with Alison and despite having it in the back of my head that I eventually wanted to be self-sufficient in finding my way out there, never really paid that much attention to the turns. Fortunately for me, I have absolutely faith in my ability to navigate. And my internal compass did not lead me astray on Cougar. In San Francisco, I acquired the nickname DPS and it has come to be something that has a great deal of meaning to me. I feel like after my run yesterday it should stand for the Devon Positioning System. I navigated perfectly and ran the routes that we had done previously and got a good strong 10 miles in at 1:31. I felt great and wished I had time for more, but had to return to the city. I think having a good sense of direction is awesome and really comes in handy, whether it is being able to find my way on Cougar Mtn or being able to direct someone to a parking garage on a one way street in the heart of Amsterdam (if you have ever been to Amsterdam, you would know that is almost an impossible task) or tour my friends around Edinburgh, it is one skill I will not take for granted and hope never fails me.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The cat that got the canary

I am sitting here quite pleased with myself, smiling deviously, kinda smug and at the same time feeling very humbled and silly. I love paradox! I just returned home from a really good 8.5 mile run in the pissing rain, which puts me at 69 miles already this week. And feeling good, finally! Finally... I will explain, later, but first word from our sponsors, literally.

2008 Sponsors
I wanted to announce and promote my fabulous sponsors for 2008. I am very thankful to have been invited to be a part of Team Inov-8, Team Nuun, as well as Petzl. I am extremely humbled to be a part of such great teams of amazing ultrarunners! It is nice that I am able to be sponsored by products that I really believe in. Inov-8 shoes fit me perfectly and are suited to my needs as a runner. Nuun is an absolute wonder of an electrolyte drink. And Petzl keeps me from stumbling around in the dark. In fact, that said on my great run tonight I could have used one of my Tikka lights. It might have helped stop me from tripping over a curb and skidding knee and hands first along the ground, ripping the skin off both.

I am still hoping for a clothing sponsorship as well as a nutrition sponsorship, but that remains to be seen!

Trifecta of answers aka Who Nu(un)?
As most people who are close to me know (and are throughly annoyed by my musings, answer posturings and general disgruntlement) my stomach/digestion has been not right/well for about a month. I had come up with a bunch of very logical reasons and answers, but the symptoms failed to subside and my frustration grew. I'm not sure digestion is as interesting to anyone else as it is to me, but it was in fact one of my favorite sections in my holistic natural chef program, digestive wellness that is. As someone who has suffered lifelong (imagine me as a child writhing on the floor with the most painful stomach aches you can imagine....oh yeah that would be from the long undiagnosed gluten intolerance as well as the acid reflux I use to suffer from) from digestive issues, I took keen interest. So for the past month, I have been very aware and frustrated by something not being right. I went to the doctor and she pretty much brushed it off, telling me "you're not bloated" Really? I think I know my own body better than you Dr. I've never been your patient before.... and then saying, well we'll do some blood work (since I was also discussing my protein issues, so we were checking all my nutrient levels). I think she decided that if it was anything, it was that I was pregnant. She kept coming back to that. And while I am sure that would be a great explanation of the symptoms, there is a very vital happening that must occur for said pregnancy to occur...and that hasn't happened! But today, finally, finally I got answers! And there are in fact three things going on, which really have nothing to do with each other directly, but when the symptoms overlap, it is quite baffling!

Solution Part 1: I have long suspected that I had a soy intolerance (in my program we learned how to test and recognize food intolerances). I got bad symptoms like a gluten reaction when drinking soy milk and over the past month, my symptoms including the bloating and pain have been worse after soy products. I did an elimination of soy for 10 days and then last night made a devastatingly good Tempeh Shepherdess Pie (recipe below!) and the reaction was swift and ruthless. When I look back to the past month, I can see a correlation of symptoms to when I had soy. As I mentioned in another blog of my suspecting the soy intolerance, it turns out that Tempeh is not in fact ok. I am planning on doing some indepth food allergy/intolerance testing to make sure I have it all covered.

Solution Part 2: My skeptical Dr.'s assistant (the doc is only a stand in for my real doc who is out for a few months) called me back with my blood test results. She happily reported that I don't have Celiac Disease, which is really good and that most things were normal. Except that is for my Iron, which is low, again and my Vitamin D. The low iron, which doesn't surprise me that much with the increase of training and having not taken the ferrous sulfate for a few months. But it does explain why I have felt increasingly tired no matter how much I sleep. The low Vitamin D first and foremost makes me a typical Seattlite but also explains some of the melancholy (doesn't change it, but at least gives me an alternative answer than somedays I am just a big baby who can't take it....). Both of those things are solveable. I went and got some more ferrous sulfate and am hoping my tired blood, tired body problem will be solved in due course (should be a week or two before feeling tip top again). Even though this is my third diagnosis and treatment of low iron I still have a hard time recognizing the symptoms, though I have caught it sooner and sooner each occasion.

Solution Part 3: I went to a natural digestive specialist today who came up with the final piece of the puzzle. My, um, movements and digestion have not in fact been reacting negatively to an herb in my fiber. The problem was a combination of the bulking agent and an electrolyte imbalance. Meaning, when I was taking my fiber and drinking water to get it moving through my system, because I was dehydrated (which explains why this started after Bridal Trails when I drank about 3 sips of liquid for the race) and had low electrolytes, the water simply passes through my body and bobs and weaves around the fiber. Thus the fiber instead of moving thing through becomes the blocker itself. I am kind of a chronic under-hydrator, but this experience has really really made me learn my lesson. Not only do I need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, I need to be taking care of my electrolytes. Enter Nuun! My hero. I noticed without making the connection that I was feeling better and moving/digesting better when I was drinking bottles with Nuun in them. Things got better about 2 weeks ago for a minute when I bought a container of Nuun, but then I ran out! Thank goodness I got a shipment this week and started noticing the change. Fiber will keep you moving, but you have to stay on top of your electrolyte levels. Thus, I procured a bottle of electrolyte fluid that actually serves as a way to check my levels of electrolytes. The digestion expert fixed me right up and my tummy is much much happier. He also reminded me that eating slower and chewing more thoroughly is helpful (which I knew but I tend to be not heed) Hence setting out in the rain for a run that felt so great. For the first time in a while I felt that I was running the road to recovery from all these factors.

Speaking of food
It has been another great week for food. As I blogged about yesterday, the Vegan Posole was a hit and is one of my personal favorites. I took the leftovers to my mom yesterday and she raved about them. Then there is the Tempeh Shepherdess Pie and a side of Sauteed Spinach and Tomatoes (no recipe included because sauteeing spinach with tomatoes, onion, garlic and ginger should be straight forward, use Peanut Oil). And the final there are the Pumpkin Corn Muffins, which I baked up for the weekend journey to Orcas with Alison, James and John to do some trail work for next weeks race. I know there is one girl who mentioned craving these after a discussion about this recipe.Here is the recipes so you can rave about them too!

Vegan Posole with Ancho Chili Paste

1 cup dried pinto beans, sorted and soaked overnight
4 cups vegetable broth
4 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
1 large onion, diced small
1 large carrot, diced small
1 large celery rib, diced small
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 can 14oz, diced tomatoes with juice
2 tsp freshly ground cumin seed
2 tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
2 tsp oregano (preferably mexican oregano)
1 can hominy, 28oz can, rinsed
12 large crimini mushrooms, stems removed
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 package dried ancho chilis

Drain and rinse the pintos and place them in a sauce pan with the stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer until cooked.

Preparethe ancho chili paste. Place dried anchos under the broiler until they start to puff and become fragrant. Meanwhile, bring enough water to cover the pepper to a boil. When the peppers are puffed, removed from broiler and submerge under the boiling water, removing from heat. Once the anchos are rehydrated, place them in the blender with a bit of water and puree to a paste. Set aside.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 TBSP of the coconut oil. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes, then stir in the carrot, celery, bell pepper, tomatoes, cumin, coriander and oregano. Add 1/2 tsp salt, cover and reduce to low and cook for about 15 minutes.

Add the beans, along with their cooking liquid, plus the hominy to the vegetable mixture. Bring all of this to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Add a few tablespoons of the ancho chili paste (if you have a weak palette don't put in much, but do put some because it adds a level of flavor that supports the dish). Simmer, uncovered until the vegetables are tender and the stew has thickened about 20 to 30 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the mushrooms, stem side down in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the mushrooms with the remaining 2 TBSP of oil and roast for 15 minutes (do more mushrooms than 12 if you like mushrooms!). Transfer the mushrooms to a plate to cool, cut them in half and add to the stew. Season with salt and pepper and serve!
(recipe from Bauman College)

Tempeh Shepherdess Pie
adapted from Veganomicon

2 (8oz) packages tempeh
1/3 cup tamari/ soy sauce
2 cups water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 3 cups)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground coriander
fresh ground pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/3 cup plain unsweetened almond, rice or soy milk
2 tbsp Earth Balance (or butter if you swing that way)
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, crumble the tempeh into small, bite size pieces. Add the water, tamari, and 1 tsp of oil. Cover and let boil for about 10 minutes. Start boiling the potatoes in the meantime.

Remove the lid from the tempeh and continue to boil until the most of the water has evaporated about 5 more minutes. Drain the tempeh in a colander and return the pan to the stove top over medium-high heat.

Saute the onions in the remaining olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute. Stir in the tempeh, along with the sliced mushrooms and the spices. Cook for about 10 minutes more over medium heat until the mushrooms are juicy and the tempeh is slightly browned. While this cooks, your potatoes should be ready for mashing and incorporating the milk/earth balance/spices in their pan, and you can go ahead and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Add the corn and peas, and cook until heated through. You may need to add a little extra oil here.

Mix together the vegetable broth and the flour until pretty much dissolved ( a few lumps is okay). Add to the tempeh, along with the parsley and stir. Let thicken about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will thicken when it bakes.

Place the tempeh filling in a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Spoon the potatoes over the filing. Pleace in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. The potatoes should be slightly golden, if they aren't turn on the broiler for a few minutes. Remove from the oven, garnish with extra parsley. Using a spatula cut into eight squares and serve.

Before they head to the oven

a delicious slice of tempeh pie

Pumpkin Corn Muffins:
Instead of typing it up, I am going to direct you to my source for these delicious muffins! They can easily be made Vegan by using egg replacer. I used Pamela's Bread Mix instead of Baking Mix, which contains buttermilk. The source for these is Katrina's Gluten Free Blog! Just now when I was getting the link I saw she has posted a vegan Pumpkin Berry Muffin that is next on my to do list!

So why am I the cat that got the canary... good food, healthy tummy, strong running, great sponsors and looking forward to a fun weekend, how am I not!

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