Friday, January 29, 2010

A little bit aloha

I know I promised. Promised to be a good bloggie and post lots of fantastic recipes to have you zooming around the roads and trails and in life. And smacking your lips and rubbing your belly saying, yummmm that was good. But well, I was busy. Busy sitting on that beach in sunny, warm, beautiful Hawaii. I was there for HURT pacing duties for nearly two weeks and it was fantastic. We enjoyed some seriously good eats. Before the race, we cooked a bunch and discovered an absolutely awesome new staple. I can take, well, 0.0% credit for the dish as the Baker made it and I merely prepared it a few times. Coconut Rice. After eating it once with a beautiful piece of fresh fish (one of the many varieties I have never heard or seen before), I couldn't think of anything I wanted more in the world.

Coconut Rice ingredients:

1 cup white rice

2 Hawaiian medium sweet potatoes or 1 large (regular sweet potatoes will do, I guess...if we must)

2 carrots

2-3 jalepenos

1 medium onion

1 can organic thai coconut milk + 1 can water

Coconut Rice directions:

Cut veggies up to bite size pieces. Your choice, not too small though. In a large pot with a lid, bring the coconut milk+ water and vegetables to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat and simmer until rice is cooked and veggies are tender. If you want to get really wild and crazy, do it in a cast iron skillet and after it boils, bake it in the oven until the rice is cooked. You will get good crispy bits on the bottom this way. And we all know the crispy bits are the best.

We enjoyed this meal a lot. It was that good. Hawaiian food is notoriously un-Devon friendly (i.e. gluten, eggs, etc) and not really know for it's healthiness. Before the race, we made the above meal because it was good for ultrarunners stomachs and for its awesome nutritional profile. But after the race...... well that is a different story!

There were fantastic burgers at Kua Aina on the North Shore. I was with 3 post-HURT runners and I don't think there was even a crumb left on the table. They had amazing looking burgers and even though I didn't get a burger, my grilled chicken salad really rocked. I just loved that they put an entire half of avocado on the burgers.

There was also a second trip to Matsumoto Shave Ice on the North Shore. We went on my first full day on the island and got Hawaiian Style shave ice with adzuki beans. So delicious. And we got shrimp and rice from a truck.

After the race we also tried out Morio's Sushi in Wakiki. This sushi place is a natural food grocery by day and a flying under the radar out of this world sushi restaurant by night. It may not be much to look (ok, it is downright ragged looking building) at but the man, Morio himself, was throwing down some amazing food for us. We went 2 times and both times the stuff that was coming over the counter from Morio was amazing and even adventurous (including whole sardines and a natto hand roll). The fish was pretty much straight out of the ocean and every bite was incredible. He was giving hitting us with supreme sushi, brilliant tofu, crab legs! Seriously. It was an experience. Thanks to Gary for the recommendation! Morio's is BYOB and we brought beer, but we could tell we had made it on to his good side when he was giving us shots (ok the bottle) of Shochu. On our second trip, we made sure we brought a case of Morio's beer of choice, which we quickly discovered that all the regulars did. We spent 3-4 hours there each time, chatting, drinking, eating amazing food, digesting, then diving in to more great food. And the price, you just can't beat it.

A final worth mentioning meal was at Helena's Hawaiian Food. I feel that I am always in for a authentic experience when a local waiting for a table next to you ask, "how did you guys find out about this place, we don't get many tourists here?" And it was true, the building was no where near anything touristy and not much to look at. But the food was out of this world. We had Kalua Pig, Laulau, Poi (which I didn't much like), Opihi (on the recommendation of the aforementioned local), Short ribs Pipikaula Style and my personal favorite, Haupia- a delicious coconut milk dessert.

Hmmmmmm, well there you go. A brief recap. Tons of fun in the sun, delicious eats and well, now I have worked up quite the appetite so I am going to throw down some grub!

Helena's Hawaiian Food on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pace until it HURTs.

Last year I did quite a bit of pacing. Hell, I did a whole lot of pacing and for the most part, I had a good time. I feel I learned a great deal about how to help out my runner and definitely experienced the sacrifices a pacer is needed to make at times. Pacing, especially the longer stretches, can be extremely hard. Sometimes when you are 30 miles in you could feel the need to slow down, stop and go to the bathroom, etc etc. But when you are pacing, your own needs go out the window. At least, in my opinion that is what a good pacer does. I paced 4 100 milers (and several other races) in 2009 and after reviewing my experience, as well as examining how pacing fits into my own training and racing schedule, I decided that I would be doing a bit less pacing in 2010 or at the very least, I would think a bit more carefully about my pacing choices. So what is the first thing I volunteered to do this year? Pace!

 Pacing in Hawaii. At least the recovery doesn't suck!

Of course I did! I was the only one in our fearsome four (Brett, Larissa and Nathan, my regular training partners) that was not running HURT 100 on January 16-17th, so when Nathan asked me to pace him for the final 40 miles of HURT, I happily said yes. Ok, maybe there was a subsequent freak out about what I had just gotten myself into, but I just tried to prepare myself for 40 brutal, rooty, muddy, insanely steep and possibly dangerous miles on one of the hardest 100 mile courses in existence.

I arrived in Honolulu the Tuesday before the race and was able to get out on the course with Nathan and over the course of the next few days preview the course. At the very least, I was able to see the route and get a more realistic idea in my head of the terrain. I had been scared s**tless by Bryon Powell telling me he has nightmares about pacing there. See, nothing to worry about.....

Course photos by Nathan Yanko

 And my job was to pace on those trails, at night with a very fast runner. At least there was in fact a huge bright side. There was none of the very famous mud and rain. Usually those roots are covered in a thick ankle deep mud that makes it nearly impossible to even see the roots. This year there was serious luck and no rain fell before the race making it optimal conditions for running fast.

Crew extraordinaire Kristin, Nathan, Larissa, Brett and I before the race.

Run fast they did. Gary Robbins, my Canadian friend and a very speedy Montrail runner and Nathan ran the second fastest first loop ever in 3:36 (20 mile loops). They were flying. There is about 5,000 feet of ascent on every loop, so that is really no joke. Brett was running solidly as well through lap one, as was Larissa. Nathan's sister, Kristen came to the Hawaii to crew for Nathan and she was absolutely outstanding. I have never seen someone crew like her. She should hire herself out and make some serious cash. She was outstanding and together we got Nathan in and out of the aid stations really fast.

The race itself I can't really comment on. We saw the runners 3 times per loop and by early 3rd loop Gary was solidly in first, Nathan still hunting him in second, and Brett was running third guy and fourth overall. When we got back to the nature center to await Nathan's arrival for loop 4, I got myself ready, donned my cycling gloves (on Bryon's recommendation for grabbing roots and such) and my two lights.

All ready to run? Photo by Courtney Brown

Pacing is a weird experience in that you wait and wait and wait to run and then all of the sudden your runner appears out of the woods and you go from spending hours and hours not running to go go go. I have only paced fast people, so I have never been able to just ease into pacing. You just go straight into go mode. I have never found an easy transition.

Nonetheless we headed up the trail (first rooty picture above) and ran/hiked as fast as we could. The sun was disappearing and the light faded quickly since the trail is very shaded. I paced from behind, letting Nathan monitor his footing and see the trail. We ran mostly in silence, except for the occasional encouragement to pick up the pace or tell him to eat. We went up and over and picked our way down to Paradise where Kristen was waiting. Then back up and over and down to Jackass Ginger aid station. You pretty much go straight down, straight up, straight down, straight up in this section of the course which is about all but 6 miles of the course.

After we reached a runnable section along an exposed ridgeline, we got a bit chatty and enjoyed opening up the stride for a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed this part. It is those moments on the trail, especially at night, that just don't translate in every day life. It was cool. Lap 5 was probably the hardest. You have the taste for the finish but are still 20 miles from the line. It's dark, at this point it was 11pm and everything on your runner is tired. I managed to fall a few times and bang myself up and was not feeling awesome. I just kept going though, pushing, encouraging and supporting. When we made it back to the top of Jackass Ginger we yelled at the top of our lungs in celebration (that and sang "Climb Every Mountain").

I had told Nathan that I wanted to make it from JackAss Ginger back to the finish in 2 hrs which would put him at a 22:30, which is wicked fast for HURT. He was running uphill incredibly well even in the 5th loop (I was sure at points he was going to drop me) and we made our way as quickly as possible. My light started to die and less than 1/2 mile before the finish Nathan gave me his headlamp and went to just his handheld. I looked at my watch and said "You can get under 22:30 but we'll have to push it". We picked up the pace through a not so fun rocky downhill section. A few feet from the end of the rocks I tripped and smashed into the rocks very painfully. I told Nathan to go, to leave me behind and make the time. But of course, he wouldn't. So I jumped up and started running as hard as I could. Nathan didn't miss a beat and sprinted in front of me and made a final push for the finish. He crossed "the line" (there was no real finish line) in 22:29:50. Of course we find out after the race they don't count seconds, so it shows up as 22:30, which was the 4th fastest time on the course ever. Gary had won the race and set a new course record! As soon as Nathan was cross the line, I stopped, burst in to tears and finally let myself hurt from falling. It really did hurt, but just a few bruises.

Post race, pacer and runner watermelon

Fast guys! Brett (3rd), Nathan (2nd) and Gary (1st)

It was a hard 40 miles. Not that running 40 miles is ever easy, but this was particularly brutal. But I only got to run 40 miles, all my pals ran 100(miles or kms)! I am so happy I got to be a part of Nathan's race and watch so many friends and runners run, fight, struggle and triumph. The relaxing on the beach for a week after the race didn't suck either!

Sponsor Highlight: Hydrapak/Gel-bot

This year I am very excited to be adding Hydrapak as one of my sponsors. Hydrapak not only makes great hydration packs they also make an invaluable tool for any ultrarunner: The Gel-bot.

Gel-bots are my favorite product made by Hydrapak (slightly ahead of their soft flasks). Gel-bots help me get my hydration and nutrition in a much faster and streamlined way. Gel-bots have a unit in the middle that can hold about 2.5 gels. When you suck on the mouth piece you get a nip of gel and when you open the top of the waterbottle, you get just water/hydration. It means no messing with gel packets or zippers or anything. Fantastic. They come in both 24 and 20 ounce options.

They are a great sponsor and I look forward to doing some more promotions and such with them in the near future. For right now though, I wanted to introduce them to you, have you check out their website and check out their cool profile of me as well: Devon's Hydrapak Profile.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A reality break

I have been in Hawaii now for a week and a half. I feel like I disconnected from reality on the mainland and never looked back.

I have traveled a lot in my life. Been all over the world and I think this is the first trip, first time I have truly left behind everything: worries, stresses, routine, etc. And not just bad things, good things too. I simply have not thought about life, as it exists outside of these two weeks. I have never felt that way before. I am not necessarily having a more exciting or better trip than other vacations I have been on, I am simply the most present in what I am doing, which is in fact, a whole lot of nothing.

I have traveled many places in the world that I immediately have taken to, wanted to take up residence in and never leave. Surprisingly, this is not one of those places. It's beautiful, it's warm, it's relaxing. But I love my life back home, though I don't really miss it either.

It is a funny head space, good funny, but still funny. Right now my biggest decisions are which direction from home I will run in the morning, which beach will be sit on for a few hours and what flavor of coconut bliss do we want to eat for dessert. I am trying to remember what it's like to tackle my to do list, train like I mean it, organize house and home, work, etc. I have so disconnected myself and now, with only a few waning moments left I am trying to transition back, reconnect, reignite the passion and motivation. I haven't been writing while here, not on my blogs, not even in my journal. I haven't been twittering really, facebooking sparingly and have only vague inklings of the goings on in the world. I am present in my own little world, but not the world at large.

It has been amazing coming here to crew/pace for an very fun and brutal 100 mile race, but I think that there was no better decision than to spend a week AFTER the race existing in the space I just described. It would be awesome if I lived in a reality where I could show up the Thursday before a race, race and then hang out somewhere beautiful and relaxing like this for every race, but even in my vacation bubble I have no thoughts that it can be. It's nice though, I have enjoyed it and will continue to for the next couple of days. But in the coming days, I will contemplate one thing: what are the pieces I want to bring back with me? And how can I make that a reality?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Run to me

I have a favorite run. It is on Mt. Tam Watershed,15 miles of good, not too easy, not too hard, dirt and it seems like everytime I run there I get to really thinking about things. I have had several experiences where I have literally run straight back to my car and driven straight to the shop to buy a notebook to write down the thoughts that seem to come so easily on that trail (you would think by now I would just remember to bring a notebook, but alas no). Today was no different. Or maybe today was, since I am actually blogging about it. Most of the time, the thoughts I have on this trail stay between me, myself and I.

I have been known to cry on occasion while racing. Usually about 1/2-1 mile away from the finish line of a longer or more epic race/run. Thanks to the nature of ultrarunning, usually nobody gets to see it. Today was the kind of day where I was very thankful for the solitude of the trail, thankful there was no one to see me suddenly overcome with despair. Imagine, if you can, me running up a steep hill, suddenly (and seemingly for no reason) sobbing. You'll have to just imagine it because there are very few people in this world outside of my mother who have ever seen me truly despairing (except for the occasional person causing me despair, which has been very rare in the past 5 years).

I don't mean crying, most people by now have seen me cry at least once. I use to be a big cry baby, now I find myself crying when I am happy or blissed out on the trail. But there I was (thinking WTF) on the trail, deep in despair (but running quite fast up a hill nonetheless). And I know why and the subsequent miles washed the tears away and replaced them with happiness and resolve and joy.

I don't talk about it much anymore, I don't often need to on my own accord. Occasionally though someone stumbles upon THE article in the Seattle Times and brings it up (more often than not people have read it and don't tell me which is fine too). I don't talk about it because my road to recovery, to survival, back to life I have kept it close to my chest. I don't want to be defined by something that is (while very significant) just an event, a time, a bad thing that happened. I have done so much self-work to survive, I have left no stone unturned in making sure that a bad thing that happened didn't dictate or define my life. I thought for a long time that there would come a point in my life where it didn't affect me or influence who I am. That is wrong, it was a significant event in my life and it was a catalyst for immense self-work and introspection. It was probably a catalyst for a lot of floundering, sadness and self-deprecation too.

Today for the first time in a long time, I cried about it. It's been 2 years probably since that happened and then it was because Lance, Tony's brother, walked into my library and (again) changed the course of my life and career. Today I cried because it has been almost exactly 9 years since my escape from that situation. It's been 9 years since someone finally asked me what was going on and the truth came out. I remember sitting in my car with J, having driven two hours, talking the whole time before he finally asked what was really going on. I told him, then I smoked a cigarette while sitting in a parking lot in some small random town on the Olympic Peninsula. He told my mom the story that night, I couldn't. I never had been able to tell her, why would that change. She never asked. They gave me a choice, do nothing or do something. I decided to take the hard path. I did something. And in the same breathe, I decided: I will not let this destroy me. I will survive. I will recover. I took the hard route and said, I want this to be a bad thing that has happened to me, not a bad thing that dictates, rules and ruins my life. I want to find a way back to myself. I want to understand everything.

That day, 9 years ago, my life changed. I completely changed directions. Where I had been on a path of becoming a star D-1 basketball player, a cocky bastard who deep down was as insecure and afraid as they come, that day I changed everything about my life and ultimately who I have become nearly 10 years later. I can imagine the person I might be and it would probably be startlingly similar to that same frightened, beaten down 18 year old. On that day, I started an ultra harder than any we could ever imagine. Run a 100 miler every weekend for 5 years (if you could without dying, ha) and it probably would still be easier.

I am glad that 9 years ago my life changed. As I ran today, I let myself feel whatever came up. I thought about everything. I am at a point now where I can look back and see everything clearly, remember the journey to where I am now and look hopefully towards the path I will go forth on now. I remembered the first 3 years where I despaired greatly, no one saw and no one comforted me. I cried myself to sleep for 3 years. I hated myself, my life, I questioned everything I knew. But I faced every dark and scary corner and even when my hope was barely a faith shimmer, I held on and just kept going. I knew I just had to keep moving forward, a lesson I have carried into my running. Keep going, it will get better, I promise. In those 3 years, I also was really strong for other people. As you can imagine these things don't just affect the victims, they affect EVERYONE. I was a pillar of strength for my family and friends even though no one had been strong and protected me. I let them off the hook, I forgave even though no one asked for forgiveness. I took the hits that were doled out, like getting lost of the trail, and just accepted them, setback or not and moved on. I did so much self work and in 3 years, I made it back to ground zero. I dug myself out of the hole that situation created in my heart, soul and psyche. I made. I transitioned. I moved on. I am and was proud of that. I checked and rechecked, made sure I'd covered everything. I allowed myself the space for things to come up in the future, for feelings to occur as they did (for instance when I had a strong reaction to Lance coming to the library. That shook me to the core, it scared me and I would be inhuman if I didn't have a reaction). But for 99.9% of it, I thought I had closed the book on that part of my life. I moved to Pittsburgh, I changed my life (in that 3rd year), I started off fresh, new outlook, new city, new everything.

I realized something today though. While I have continued with the self-work over the years, I never thought about things this way until today. I realized that the place I got to "ground zero" after those 3 years, that getting back to neutral was not enough. That was a place where even before the Players Only/Giles situation, that I was an insecure, afraid, little girl, desperately looking for love and attention. People often tell me, its not my fault that happened and yes I know that, but I also know that there was something about the way I felt about myself, something about what I needed and wanted from the world, some underlying something that stopped me from ever protecting myself or from valuing myself enough to think I didn't deserve that. Neutral was not good enough. I needed to do better and thankfully, even though I never thought about it that way, I have continued the work, the struggle, the real digging for the past 6 years.

I took up running 7 years ago, almost exactly. I was living in South Africa and my roommates and I trained and ran the Cape Town half marathon. I never stopped running after that. What I realized today was that the growth curve of my life and the growth curve of my running are one. I realized for the first time what running has been to me all this time. I think about all the hours I have spent in contemplation while on the run, sure that is obvious. Running is definitely a cheap form of therapy. But the less obvious thing, is that through running I have learned to value myself, I have learned how to take care of myself (mentally and emotionally- which is key in ultrarunning), I have developed confidence. And to say I have developed confidence is PROFOUND since until even a year ago, I lacked confidence in a lot of ways. Running was the way I learned to manage my life, to make my life better. Running IS NOT life but it has given me a chance to have a better life. Even if I never raced or had any success, it would still do that. I realized that today. On the trail today, I despaired and rejoiced in the matter of a mile. I came full circle and said, the period of my life that ended 9 years ago was significant, it will never not be a part of me, but let it be the creator of the best parts, let my life now be born of the fires I endured to survive it. I have been running all this time, running towards my self, running to become me.

I actually got quite giddy after the top of that climb where I despaired. Because I understood for the first time, my own healing and self-growth curve. I finally could see the interconnectedness of some of my current behaviours as products of the process of survival (like being overly introspective, being really hard on myself, being a high achiever and having high expectations of myself and never letting myself fail or be weak) and was able to let go of them. I finally see and understand. As I ran, I felt a lightness of being, I felt a burden lifted off of my shoulders. If this makes any sense, I finally said to myself I can be weak, because I know I am strong. I can stay here and feel this, because I know I have truly moved on.

9 years. 9 years and today I feel like I am a different person. I feel like today I took the scaffolding off my psyche and saw *hooray* everything held. I know it has been for a while. I am not that despairing 18 year old I was 9 years ago though she is a part of me. I am not the sickened frightened lost 15 year old I was 12 years ago when this all began, though in my mind I hug that girl, that child that never had any comfort or voice. And today, I decided I should give her a voice.

Over the years many have said I should write about my recovery, write about what happened to me, I always thought "well maybe". I realize I was too afraid to go back into those fires to retrieve the story. I never wanted (or want) to be defined by that part of my life and writing about it made me fear being seen that way. I realize now, I don't care because its not the truth. I feared that because I feared that I was self-defined by it. I realize now there is much to be said and shared. It is not just about that situation, really it is about all the things that come after that. That is the real story.

I have decided to tell it. Tell the story. For better or for worse. No one can imagine the things I have seen, the places I have been, I have never shared the details that weren't necessary to make the case. I am going to write the story, write the book. I don't care if it never is read by another human being, it is important to me.

Next year will be 10 years (oh yeah I can do math!) and for that significant milestone, I literally, figuratively and everything(ly) will put that book on the shelf.

(how's that for putting myself out there!?!that was a leap my friends. this was not an easy one.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Hello Goodbye Hello Goobye!

Thursday Morning Runs, Sunrise and Friends 
Photo by Brett Rivers

I am constantly inspired by my training partners (past and present!). Whether it is trying to keep up with them running up Miwok at 6 am on a Thursday morning or hoping to be only 45 minutes behind them in a race, they challenge me and push me to be better. One of the things I am most thankful for finding in 2009 was a great group of friends that are also amazing training partners in my new city. And one of the things I am most looking forward to in 2010 is training, racing and going on all sorts of adventures with them.

Though one of my training partners, Brett Rivers (Trail Run Times) was joking on this mornings Thursday Morning Headlands Rim Run (our weekly 5:30am run) that his goal for the new year was to "get new training partners who don't make fun of him all the time" (as we have a tendency to tease each other), I wouldn't trade them all for anything (neither would he). On any given thursday we have 4-10 people out in the wee hours of the morning and most weekends a few of us are meeting up for long runs. It is great. I look forward in 2010 to a lot of training with them. Even if getting up at 4:20am on a cold winter morning is hard, it is a part of my routine that I adore.

It's January, sunny and 65.
And I am at the beach after a nice run on Skyline to Sea Trail.

And right now, I am very geeked out about being in one place. 2009 was the year of being a wandering vagabond. I had no home (just a storage unit), I spent probably a month at a time in one place before heading somewhere else, I had no consistency, no routine, no roots. It was an interesting year, but a very difficult one too. In 2010, I am looking forward to not only having a home (which I do in the City), but having a routine, roots and a home base from which to leap. I wasn't going to do it, but Brett's post about his 2009 running and racing year (his debut season as an ultrarunner), made me think of all of the madness I packed in to my year and what an awesome journey it has been. My life was so fast paced and fluid, I needed to send round a document called "the whereabouts" just so my family and closest pals could know what city/state or country I was in at any given time. The year didn't fly by, it felt like 10 years passed. I cannot believe it was just a year ago that I was running messy muddy Bridal Trails with Alison. It feels like longer. I packed in a lot and enjoyed every twist and turn. I hope 2010 is another type of adventure.

2009, a "brief" look.
1/10/2009 Bridal Trails 50k (Seattle)

It was cold, it was dark, it was wet, it was "muddy", it was Bridal Trails at its best. In 2008 Alison and I ran it as a team (each member running 25k) and we decided it would be more run to run together in 2009, so we ran together and dropped out together. Scott M prides himself on having a very low finish rate for the 50k and I wanted to help him keep that tradition alive.

1/22/2009 Seattle Public Library Run.(Seattle)
Jonathan, Sam and I get together to run to every library in the Seattle Public Library system during open hours to promote their new Passport Program (recap here). We make it all but 2 and run nearly 70 miles on pavement. The awesome Linda crews for us and takes care of frog frog the crazy dog.

1/25/2009 Injured reserve.(Seattle)
After only taking one day off after the Library run, I ran 18 miles with Owen my ankle/foot starts hurting. By Monday I can't even walk. I spend two weeks intensively rehabing and doing ART and am back in action.

2/7/2009 Orcas Island 50k Crewing (Orcas Island, WA)
Though I was feeling sorry for myself and was going to not go, Krissy talks me in to heading up to Orcas with her to see all my friends and cheer them on at Orcas Island 50k. I hang out with fellow injured runners Jonathan, Matt Hart and Susannah Beck and kick it with my pal (and co-RD of the race) Alison.

2/21/2009 Hagg Lake 50k (Oregon)
My stuff had just been put in to storage and I headed south in my mini cooper for the first of many road trips to San Francisco. I stopped off in Portland to explore and to also head out and run Hagg Lake 50k. Krissy is there and we run most of the way together, though in the end I send her off to try and chase down Joelle in first place and I lay back content to just cruise it out. All three of us ladies go under the old course record. I run a 4:24 and we celebrate by eating delicious buffalo burgers. (Recap)

2/27/2009 4 am run with my sister (San Francisco)
My sister and I get up at 4am to go for an 11 mile run in the Headlands. It is super fun and I think it would be nice to make it a regular routine (recap). My foot is completely healthy and I am back in full training mode.

3/8/2009 Appalachian Trail Run (Georgia)
I go to a very cold Atlanta, GA for work and while I am there I get to hook up with my buddy Christian and go on a great long run on the Appalachian Trail up to Blood Mountain. We run about 20 miles and I get my first taste of what the trail is like, it was awesome (recap). I also start to feel like a runner again after not feeling very fit or fast. But I wasn't running on that day, I was freaking flying.

3/14/2009 Way Too Cool 50k (Cool, CA)
I fly back late Thursday before the race feeling like I didn't want to run at all. I run anyways, not feeling great and decide to just back it off and enjoy my day (recap). It was a great day for friends and training partners since I got to see a lot of my old friends from the area, as well as it is the day that I met Caitlin Smith, who would over the following months become a fast friend, training partner and kick ass TransRockies partner (not to mention winning pretty much every race she entered!). I come in 6th woman after throwing a brief temper tantrum at mile 20. I run a 4:25.

3/21/2009 Chuckanut 50k and Winthrop Weekend (Bellingham and Winthrop, WA)

After Way Too Cool, I drive back to Seattle and promptly head up to help Krissy before the Chuckanut 50k. I had out bib numbers, socialize for a bit and then take off in the car to go to Winthrop to hang out with Alison and explore her town of Winthrop. We do lots of fun things and run in crazy partially frozen snow. It was so much fun and I was so happy to be able to hang out with Alison for a while.

3/26/2009 Mt.Si Run with Krissy (Cascades)
Krissy and I get together to do the first Mt. Si repeats of the season. Its pretty much straight up and down. We attempt to go all the way to the top on the first go and are turned back by the snow. On the second time up, we brave the knee high snow to catch the view from the top and promptly smack ourselves for not bringing a camera. We add miles on the road at the bottom. It was at least a fun adventure. A bit too early season for the kind of hill repeats we wanted to do.

3/28/2009 Dizzy Daze 50k (Seattle)
I head back to Seattle and run the bestest everest Jonathan Bernard's race Dizzy Daze 50k. I wasn't feel great the night before, the weather was going to (and did turn out to) be crap and it was 10 loops around Greenlake. I ended up feeling great, was first female/ second overall in 4:04 despite about 6 bathroom stops along the way and just felt stronger and stronger as the race went on (recap).

4/21/2009 Boston Marathon (Boston, MA)
Invited to be a part of the Women's Elite Start at the Boston Marathon and I figured I would go for it since it is on my list of races I want to do. I feel fit and ready and hoped for a 2:45. It was a lot of fun hanging around the likes of Kara Goucher, but my favorite moment was when my friend and 100k teammate Michael Wardian came over to say hi where the elites got to hang out before the race and all the girls I was hanging out with got all starstruck. It was funny. I end up running a 2:53:20, good enough for 36th place out of 11,000 and enjoy myself. It was a crazy windy day and the downside of being in the Elite Women's Start is there is no one to hide behind to break the wind. It was an experience (recap).

5/3/2009 Pacing Miwok 100k (Sausalito, CA)
Back again in California (epic drive #2), my Seattle pals come down to race Miwok 100k. Before the race I chat with Caitlin again and after the race we exchange numbers and plan runs together. Jonathan has a good day despite having issues with him feet and puts in a solid performance. I pace him for the last 20 miles and fall in the mud numerous times on what was one of the colder days I can remember in a long time (recap).

5/11/2009 Ohlone Run with Caitlin and Will (East Bay, CA)
I go for a nice long trainer with Caitlin and Will from Sunol to Mt. Rose on the Ohlone Course. We take it easy and do a lot of uphill. I can't keep up on the uphill but run away on the downhill. I make a note to self that if I want to keep up with Caitlin, I must work on uphills. I suggest to her that we should consider running TransRockies together in August.

5/16/2009 Pacing Glen at MMT100 (Virginia)
I crew for Glen all day and then pace him for the 27 hardest miles I have ever run in my life. We have a battle for most of those miles with Mike Mason and Todd Walker. In the end, Glen edged Mike by about 30 seconds. It was brutal, but still a lot of fun. Second pacing gig of the year and not slowing down.

5/23/2009 40 mile road training run (Seattle)

After flying back to SF, driving back to Seattle and then planning to run 40 miles on the road as 1 of 2 peak runs for June's World Championship in the 100k, didn't bode well for the success of the run. But I surprise, no shock myself and run super strong and feel fantastic. I pick Jonathan up for the last 18 miles and he paces me out for the second half. We run all over Seattle, it really came together and I ran the 40 miles in 4:47.

5/29/2009 35 mile road training run (Seattle)
Less than a week off my fantastic 40 miler, I put in another great long run at the same pace, running 35 miles on the roads. In the month of May, I ran 475 miles. Felt fit and ready to go for WC100k.

6/6/2009 Pacing Jonathan at SD100 (San Diego)
I fly down to SD for the second time in two weeks (the first was 5/30 for my sis's marathon) and pace him for the last 30 miles of his 100. He has stomach troubles and feet issues but pulls through to have a fantastic race. It was freezing cold but I was so happy and pleased to have been able to crew/pace Jonathan and crew for Linda. Pacing gig #3!

6/19/2009 WC100k (Belgium)

I put together dang near the most flawless race I have ever run. I paced my teammates when they needed help and took off to try and hunt down 3rd place when I was still feeling great after 75k. We win the team gold medal, I am 4th woman and run a 7:59:14 (turns out the course was actually 1-2k longer). I crossed the finish line and scratched my head, could I really feel that good after running that way (recap).

6/23/2009 Headlands Birthday Run (Sausalito, CA)
I flew immediately back from Belgium the day after the race, so I could be back for the following week's pacing duties for Krissy at WS and so I could spend my birthday in CA. I invited Caitlin, Will, and new friends Brett, Larissa and Nathan out to do a 15 mile super hilly trail run. They all blow me out of the water, but I run along happy and tired knowing I had so seriously cool and fast friends (and that I had run a rockstar race on 3 days earlier)

6/27/2009 Pacing Krissy at WS100 (Squaw Valley to Auburn, CA)
I pace the last 20 miles of Krissy's amazing race at Western States. She comes in second and runs her heart out. It was a great experience and was so glad to be a part of her crew.

7/7/2009 Firenze 10k (Florence, Italy)

While on family vacation/business trip to Italy, my sister and I are convinced by Lorenzo Targetti to come out and do "a little race" in the park. The race turns out to be a big deal 10k. I win and bring home a whole bunch of cool things including a Vespa Helmet. I make it in the papers all over the area but the reality was, I was just running my marathon pace. Was the first time I started to feel good while still recovering from WC100k.

 7/11/2009 Headlands run with Nathan (Sausalito, CA)
Upon returning to California after our trip to Florence, I decide what I need is a good 30 mile run to get back in the grove and start training for TransRockies. I head out in the Headlands and about 4 miles into my run I see Nathan coming up the trail. We decide to run together. He is on his second loop of a 50 mile training run for Headlands Hundred in August. I talk a million miles a minute about my trip to Florence and torture him by talking about all the great food I ate. I couldn't help myself.

July 2009 I stay in one place and train my butt off.
For the rest of July I stay in CA and do weekly double and triple back to back long runs in preparation for TransRockies with Caitlin. I become an excellent hill climber for an ultrarunner.

8/8/2009 Pacing Brian Krogman at Headlands Hundred (Sausalito, CA)
After a brief trip up to Seattle for a visit, I hurry back to pace Brian at Headlands Hundred. I pace Brian for 50 miles after he gets lost on his 2nd loop. It was an experience. I will just say that. Nathan wins the race and I am super stoked for him. My 4th time pacing a 100 miler in the year.

8/12/2009 Run up Hope Pass with Bryon Powell (Leadville, CO)
I head to CO to acclimatize to elevation, meeting Bryon in Leadville to camp for 10 days before Leadville 100 (for him) and TransRockies (me). The morning I arrive, I stumble out of the car and we do a double crossing of Hope Pass, up and over 12+ feet (blog).

8/23-8/28 TransRockies Run with Caitlin Smith (CO)
Cailtin and I team up to race TransRockies and win the women's open division. We just edge out Kami Semick and Nikki Kimball by less than 2 minutes in the end (recap).

9/27/2009 Vermont 50 (Vermont)
I change my plans last minute to just run TusseyMtnback 50 mile on Oct 3 at the behest of my Salomon teammate Glen and go to the east coast early to race Vermont 50 and try to get a spot in WS. I run great despite the gnarliest mud you've ever seen and win, earning my way into the 2010 WS (recap).

10/3/2009 Tussey 50 mile (State College, PA)
After Vermont, I get the swine flu and end up deathly ill and unable to race Tussey.

10/17/2009 Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim (Grand Canyon, AZ)

Meet up with my Seattle girls Krissy, Ellen and Monica and we run an epic Rim to Rim to Rim run in celebration of Krissy's birthday. 11,000 feet of climbing, 46+ miles. Fun Fun Fun. This run just made me want to go on as many running adventures as possible.

10/24/2009 SF One Day Crewing
After doing my own 30 mile run, partially with Brett, Larissa and the Endurables, I head to Crissy Field to cheer and crew for Nathan as he runs SF One Day.

11/7/2009 Lithia Loop Trail Marathon (Ashland, OR)
Nathan and I head up to Ashland for Lithia Loop Trail Marathon. I run it as a tune up/speed workout for JFK 50 miler. I run 3:16:20 and nearly catch 2nd place in the last mile when she was more than 45 seconds ahead of me (she finished 5 secs ahead of me) (recap).

11/21/2009 JFK 50 miler (Hagerstown, Maryland)

I run the race of my life and have the most fun ever. I am first woman, 10th overall, beat a bunch of fast guys and break the course record. It was epic. I run a 6:29:21(recap).

11/28/2009 Cheer Squad at Quad Dipsea (Mill Valley, CA)
Nathan and I don t-shirts that say "GO LARISSA" and do a crazy run all around Mt. Tam trying to catch her at different spots of the course. Coming up Matt Davis I fall hard on my face and hurt myself. But I run 20 miles, mostly climbing, a week after JFK and felt good.

12/5/2009 Pacing Michael Wardian at The North Face 50 mile (Sausalito, CA)
I try and pace Mike Wardian. This run takes the cake as the hardest I have ever run on trails. 20 miles of what felt like tempo pace. It was no easy run, but I feel like I helped Mike get back in the Top 10 (recap).

12/12/2009 Seattle Move
Not a run, but a move. I fly to Seattle on the 11th. Pack up the truck on the 12th. Drive back to SF on the 13th and finally have a home for the first time in 2009.

12/19/2009 Rodeo Beach 50k (Sausalito, CA)
I finally feel the move, JFK and the season coming down on me and feel super tired. I show up for the PCTR race anyways. As the miles tick away, I feel better and better. I put together a good run and am first woman in 4:28 (recap).

12/23/2009 Thursday Morning Early Run on a Wednesday
We run a pre-Christmas early morning run on our usual Headlands Rim Route (Nathan, Brett, Larissa and I).

12/24/2009 Thursday Morning Early Run Christmas Eve
We run counter clockwise on our usual loop and run 15 minutes faster. It was me and 5 fast boys. We pushed the pace the whole way and had a fun fast time.

12/26/2009 40+ miles of Headlands and Mt. Tam 
12/27/2009 21.5 miles of Mt. Tam
The last big long weekend of the year. I run with Nathan (who is peaking for HURT) from the Coastal parking lot along the gnarliest route up to Pantoll (18 miles), around Mt. Tam and back to the Coastal parking lot for a total of 40 miles and 7500+ climbing. The next day Nathan, Jim and I run from Rock Springs down to the Lakes and back up Cataract. Nathan and I continue with a loop on the North Side of Tam for a 100k total weekend.

12/31/2009 Final Thursday Morning Early Run of the Year!
Brett, Larissa, Nathan and I get up at the usual time and do our Headlands Rim Route. We celebrate a great year of running (it was ALL of their debut ultrarunning year! Crazy) and enjoy a run on the final day of the year.

All in all, I ran almost 4300 miles. I was like 8 miles short. I thought about going out for an extra run to make it but decided to be a rebel and not go for the even number (ha). I am excited and intrigued to see how 2010 shapes up. It will be different. It will be special. It will be all part of the journey and I am definitely looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

California Winter Wonderland

I am so happy. I love where I live. California rocks. Seriously.

View of the Pacific Ocean from Point Lobos

Over the weekend, I headed down the coast for a super secret mission that involved a trip to the Monterey Aquarium, wine tasting, and all sorts of adventures from San Francisco down to Monterey. There was Whale Spotting from Point Lobos Wildlife Reserve, Porchetta Sandwiches from Roli Roti and a Saturday night picnic of fresh greens, pickled vegetables (Happy Girl Kitchen), and roast chicken & potatoes (also Roli Roti) from the San Francisco Saturday Ferry Building Farmer's Market. Lunch in Santa Cruz at Walnut Ave Cafe of tofu scrambles and potatoes. There was a perfect run up the Skyline-to-Sea trail and watching the sun go down over the Pacific Ocean. I am sure I am missing a fresh from the market persimmon and loads of Jer's Chocolate Peanut Butter in there too. It was fantastic. It was the kind of weekend where at the end you sigh and say, "wow, we live in an amazing place". I ate good food, ran in amazing places, slept in the biggest bed ever, and pulled off the birthday surprise of the century. Ok, well maybe not the century, but I kept a secret for like a month and that is a big deal. While the weekend sounds packed, it was actually the most fun relaxed weekend I have had in a long long time. After the stress of the holidays, we all need a little vacation right?

Looking up and forward to the new year.

After the weekends activities, actually for about a week before and even now, I have been seriously hankering for hearty, pickled vegetable laden salads. Probably post-holiday balancing after eating a few things my body doesn't like (gluten). I ate really healthy and light for most of the holiday season, but ate my mom's Stollen that she makes every year and a super secret sugar cookie or two as well. As we were driving back, salad was on our minds and I suggested a salad I had been playing with over the course of the week. Fresh greens, arugula, sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, roast onion and a very bright herb dressing. After a bit of brainstorming, we decided that the additions of a nice soft cheese and avocado would take it to the next level. It was awesome.

This salad balances the light crisp flavors of the greens, dressing, sauerkraut and arugula with the hearthy, warm winter vegetables of sweet potato and roast onion. Profoundly good for being profoundly simple. This salad is a keeper.

Sauerkraut, Sweet Potato and Roast Onion Salad

5 cups salad greens
3 cups arugula
2 sweet potato
2 small red onion, sliced
2 cups sauerkraut
2 small avocado, chopped
½ cup soft cheese, crumbled
red wine vinegar
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Baked Sweet Potatoes until tender. With about 10 minutes left before the sweet potatoes are done, roast red onions on a baking sheet with parchment paper until tender.

Compose salad in large bowls. Toss greens and arugula with red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients to taste.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Expand and contract

View from Point Lobos Wildlife Preserve

It's the new year and all this talk of resolutions and such makes me, well, gag a bit. My thinking is that if you have goals and resolutions that you genuinely want to accomplish, you will get them going as soon as you realize them. There is no time like the present. In fact there is not time BUT the present. But I digress.

Sunset at the beach after a run on Skyline to Sea Trail
Despite my best efforts to just continue to plug away at my goals on a continual basis, the new years and all the talk of resolutions has made me at least consider if there is anything I want to add (or even subtract) from my list of goals. Nope! Though having just accomplished a big goal of finding a place to call home, I am naturally moving on to another big goal at the same time as the new year begins. But I need to decide which big goal. After reading this post about putting all your eggs in one basket and focusing on a specific goal with all your intensity, I realized (or reconfirmed) that I really can and need to focus on one thing at a time with all my heart and soul and energy. Finding a place to call home definitely took a lot of energy. Maybe for me more than for most because I have such a deep imbibing sense of disquiet when I have no home to return to. 2009 was a fantastic adventure but I definitely had to grapple with more anxiety than I have in the past when I have had (at least some semblance of) a home. Now, I have truly come home. I am not wishy-washy about where I want to be, I am resolute.

Over the weekend, I reveled in where I lived. I shopped at the Saturday Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building and got roast chicken and porchetta sandwiches from Roli Roti. I went on a road trip to Monterey Bay Aquarium and slept listening to the ocean break against the shore under my windows. I did a fantastic run in Point Lobos Wildlife Reserve and another on the Skyline to Sea Trail, ending at the beach just before sunset. I ate a fantastic brunch in Santa Cruz, enjoyed a local winery wine tasting. It was fantastic and I just felt blissed out, contented and so damn lucky. It is a nice feeling.

 Monterey Bay
The brief pause to enjoy ticking off a major goal is nice, but I cannot linger. And not because I simply need to do something, but because I want to use the momentum and motivation to continue to hit the ground running. So what do I do? Where do I focus?

The answer has been really apparent over the move and the holiday season. Actually, there are two things that float naturally to the top (or should I say, pound at the gates?). That is my blog and my career. I need to do something about both. Last year, I spent a few months dividing and establishing my food and running blogs as seperate. Then I added in this blog to publish my musings and ramblings about both and everything in between. Since the move and the holidays and the crazy end of the year, I have epically failed at all three. While my intention was to establish my food blog as a good authority on the subject of (gluten free) cooking and recipes for endurance athletes, I wonder now if that really is my passion. I love to share my food adventures from new recipes to food experiences to restaurant reviews, but do I care enough about a tone of authority by making that all I talk about? I am not sure. I really like having my running blog so that people can read my race reports and adventures. So how do I navigate. I expanded quickly and clearly, but I wonder now, was that the right choice? Aren't all these blogs basically just an extension, a reflection of my life and thoughts? Is anyone less likely to try a fabulous recipe of mine because the food post is followed by a run post? I am thinking not.

I have an idea. This blog is going to be THE blog. THE blog of food, running, musing and silliness. The other blogs will still exist but their postings will be also be on this site. Consolidation. For some reason, though that doesn't lessen my postings or really change anything, it gives me something I feel like I can singularly focus on instead of feeling like I am divided between 3 blogs. I am going to trial run it and see how it goes.

The other goal that has made its self self-evident is a change in career. I have a good gig sure, but I need to cultivate my interests, I need to stimulate my brain, I need to follow my passions. Thus, I am looking for a new job. I would love to work in the food industry: either working for a food company, farm or producer I believe in or cooking in a kitchen where I can earn my chops. I would love to work in R&D for a food company. That would be awesome. That would combine my culinary certificate with my Info Science background. I am also looking into a return to the library, but that is more contingent upon the library systems than on me. Of course, my longer term goal is to open my own bakery (with a gluten free focus), but that is something to put in the hopper instead of fasttracking. I am staying open to opportunities, developing my business plan, etc, but haven't picked up a hammer, yet.

I think I will start there, for now. I am excited at what the new year will bring, it should be another adventure and I truly look forward to where the path shall lead and what shall come of things. Whether you believe in resolutions or not, I hope that the goals you have a pursued with passion and intensity and that you are able to accomplish what you have set out for yourself.

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