Thursday, February 25, 2010

Meat, its what's for dinner

 

Eat one of these and call me in the morning.

I started reading a book called The Butcher and The Vegetarian and had a realization. The author was talking about her symptoms of fatigue and inability to lose weight no matter what she did. She was a life long vegetarian and the solution: Eat Meat. The book is delightful thus far but it also made me  realize that I had been forgetting something very essential to my own success. I was writing a post on my other blog but I think the portion that follows really fits here as well...

From the delicious journey:

For the last few months of training and life, I have been working incredibly hard. I have run numerous 100+ mile weeks, ate healthy, been smart and on top of things. And yet, I have not really been feeling good. If anything, I feel like I am back to where I was in the twilight days of my veganism. Training hard, eating healthfully and tired as a corpse and not seeing results that my training and diet would indicate. I realized then that I needed to start eating meat again. I did, I felt better. Wahoo. Problem gone! Energy returned. Training gains achieved. I have the type of constitution that thrives off a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and meats (and fats) and all parts of that are necessary for me.

But somewhere over the past year, I started eating less meat again. I would eat meat when dining out or special occasions, but slowly and surely meat dropped out of my diet for the most part until I was having it only 2-3 days a week. And lo and behold, for the last few months (since November) I have been feeling like dirt. My energy is low, my body composition is not changing (for the better) and my training gains appear lack luster. Today I realized that in an effort to work towards my training goals that I have been more strict about my diet during the week and basically eliminated meat during the week. My logic was poor on this choice as somehow I decided that regular meat consumption just meant added calories to my diet, when the fact of the matter is, I eat less when I eat meat (because I am satisfied) and that is just plain dumb anyways. I eat meat on the weekends or if I dine out, but in comparison to my needs from training, it is not enough, especially in the last month. I don't think I need a lot, but I need to have a modest portion on a nearly daily basis. If that means I need to swap out something else to make room on my plate, so be it. It WILL make a huge difference. No wonder I feel so good at the beginning of the week and crap by the weekend, I have eat meat on the weekends and not during the week. Thus, I need to eat meat and be good about including it in my diet.

For those of you who aren't familiar, I was a vegan in addition to being gluten free but ended up in really poor health. I discuss this topic in previous blog postings on my food website Fast Foodie cooks, this post and this post discusses the above further. And I think they illustrate that I have not and do not make the above statements in an unconsidered way.

Get it and then forget it

 Something worth remembering, a beautiful end to a beautiful day in Seattle.

For the amount of thinking, introspectiv-ing and resolving I do, its amazing how much (and sometimes how quickly) I forget the profound (to me) revelations I have. I implement something for a time in order to create a new habit until the next shiny object (revelation or discovery) comes along to kick it out of the way, off my plate and into the back corners of my mind, awaiting rediscovery. Maybe I am just slow or maybe that is just the way that things get learned, you get it when you get it.

Over the weekend, I was up in Seattle enjoying family, friends, food and fun. One of my dearest (and most favorite) friends and I had an intensely deep conversation in the space of 2 minutes in a casual manner one might assume would be saved for talking about the weather. She essentially that she was looking forward to finally getting it, figuring it all out, having it all click. I said one of the hardest illusions to break is the idea that there is a penultimate moment of "figuring it out", that there is indeed a definitive moment in which ones life turns on a dime and becomes different because of a single thought or revelation. It took me a long time to get over the same idea. I wanted there to be a "cue the music, roll the credits" moment. And then I realized that life, no matter the revelations or discoveries or changes you make for better or for worse, just keeps on going. Life goes on, things change, there are highs, there are lows but in the end there is not one single key. Not to happiness, not to life. If anything, the "key' is just to live. Live your life. 2 minutes conversation over, time for a burger. 

Even as we were having the conversation, the words that were coming out of my mouth were shaking off cobwebs. They had been forgotten somewhere in my mind, in my psyche, already discovered then forgotten. I fell into old habits, felt old anxieties, guilts, patterns. But when I opened my mouth to respond to her, they came back. I remembered, I believed and I found peace. These reminders a good thing.

I remember walking through the snow a year ago with Frog, Frog the crazy dog (my greyhound), I was very depressed about something and the only thing that I could think to make myself feel better was, "In ten years, I won't even remember this moment. In ten years, everything will have changed". That was not some bold resolution or statement. In the space of ten years, even the most resistant to change people, change. Time simply passing without any other action changes a person and since we are conscious beings, it changes us a lot. Even in a year, things are incredibly, drastically, profoundly different. I don't even remember the depths of sadness or emotion I was feeling then. Sometimes forgetting is a good thing.

For the last few months of training and life, I have been working incredibly hard. I have run numerous 100+ mile weeks, ate healthy, been smart and on top of things. And yet, I have not really been feeling good. If anything, I feel like I am back to where I was in the twilight days of my veganism. Training hard, eating healthfully and tired as a corpse and not seeing results that my training and diet would indicate. I realized then that I needed to start eating meat again. I did, I felt better. Wahoo. Problem gone! Energy returned. Training gains achieved. I have the type of constitution that thrives off a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and meats (and fats) and all parts of that are necessary.

But somewhere over the past year, I started eating less meat again. I would eat meat when dining out or special occasions, but slowly and surely meat dropped out of my diet for the most part until I was having it only 2-3 days a week. And lo and behold, for the last few months (since November) I have been feeling like dirt. My energy is low, my body composition is not changing (for the better) and my training gains appear lack luster. Today I realized that in an effort to work towards my training goals that I have been more strict about my diet during the week and basically eliminated meat during the week. My logic was poor on this choice as somehow I decided that regular meat consumption just meant added calories to my diet, when the fact of the matter is, I eat less when I eat meat (because I am satisfied). I eat meat on the weekends or if I dine out, but in comparison to my needs from training, it is not enough, especially in the last month. I don't think I need a lot, but I need to have a modest portion on a nearly daily basis. If that means I need to swap out something else to make room on my plate, so be it. It WILL make a huge difference. No wonder I feel so good at the beginning of the week and crap by the weekend, I have eat meat on the weekends and not during the week. Thus, I need to eat meat and be good about including it in my diet. Remembering is a good thing.

Reminders, forgetting, remembering. We get it and then forget it, until we don't anymore. Life continues. I think that is pretty cool.

beef bourguignon, duh.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Race Weight

 

A bite of gluten free muffin. Not a quandry.

Over the years I have been blogging, I have posted at least once a year about race weight- mine, diets, weight loss, "looking like a runner", etc. As the first major efforts of the year are creeping closer and closer, I am again thinking about it. Most of the thinking has been prompted by reading the book, Race Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. This book is geared towards endurance athletes and focuses on more than just beginners.

As someone who knows a good deal about nutrition, healthy eating and food, it is nice to read a book that does offer simple steps/ practices to move towards race weight. The book isn't touting any certain type of diet, though it is in line with what I already believe and practice, a very Michael Pollen-esqe "eat real food" type recommendation. It is informational yes, but in the end it runs me into the same road blocks/questions/conundrums that I consider my biggest hurdles in achieving my race weight.

Currently, as of this morning, I am about 5-6 lbs over my lightest race weight. I could go as much as 7-8lbs down and still be within a healthy range for me. If I am being honest, I would definitely like to achieve something like that weight this season preferably before WS100. I also don't want to sacrifice health and training and such just to be lighter. Fitzgerald says, your ideal race weight is the amount you weigh on the day you run your PR. I care less about the number, than I do about how I feel on race day. Weight is, ultimately, an arbitrary number.

Fitzgerald argues that the best way to lose weight is to increase your training. I agree it is much easier to run 5 more miles (and not up calories accordingly) than to cut 500 additional calories out of your diet when you are in training (at least for me it is). The really big roadblock that I continually run into and did with this book is: calories in to lose weight, but eating enough not trigger hormonal imbalances, muscle loss and fat gain. I have been in the position where (when vegan) I wasn't getting enough calories, got hypo-thyroid and ending up gaining fat/losing muscle because my calories in/calories out were too far out of balance. Thus, I find myself when training hard constantly wondering if I am eating too much (to lose weight) or eating too little for the mileage I put in.

I have had my BMR checked and would wager based on my weight that I burn, maybe 90kcals/mile. Thus, on an average weekday during February in which I have been doing at least 100mpw, that I run (say 20 miles over 2 runs) and work (seated/computer) that I would be burning about 3500 calories per day. My average calories in (weekdays) is about 2400-2800 calories. In theory that means, I should lose a bit of weight each week. But that is not happening. Which means, I am either overeating (which is what I am always convinced I am doing, but not necessarily true) or undereating and freaking my body out. Trying to figure out which one, could drive you insane. Instead, I just try to listen to my body and my hunger. I eat an incredibly healthy diet, so I am not really concerned about the quality of my diet at all.

I know that I could be like some of the elite athletes in the book/that I know/that I have been at one point or another and be completely rigid about my diet. But that is the second roadblock I run into. Do I want to be so strict about my diet that I don't enjoy my life? Do I want to abstain from wine with friends, coconut ice cream out of the container after a long run and trying new things at restaurants or going on weekend trips designed around all the places we can eat? I don't. Being overly obsessed with food and weight is unhealthy and alienates you from everyone and everything. I don't think that running is a free pass by any means, but I think moderation is completely fine.

I don't like to even thinking about race weight or weight at all, but as Fitzgerald discusses, we think about it as elite endurance athletes because it makes a difference. We can feel it. I am less worried about achieving a certain number than I am about feeling a certain way about my body.

Thus, as the season thrusts itself upon me, I am devising strategies to encourage my body towards race weight or better described, race body feeling,  while being happy, healthy and fueled enough to do the good hard work. At the same time, I am remembering that the things I will remember most about my training days are the fun I had with friends running then refueling, not how fat or fit I felt on that day.

 
Post run treats with speedsters at Flying Apron

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffins


Calling my name, GF Banana Ginger Muffins

There are many times in life since going gluten free that I will pass by a bakery window and gaze in upon stacks of beautiful fresh baked muffins and wish that I could have one too. As I have mentioned, I don't crave sweet that much but I do love an occasional muffin. Last year, when I was able to "take a break" from my no-gluten diet (doctor's recommendation for testing) I stumbled upon my all time favorite muffins at Macrina Bakery in Seattle. Vegan Banana Ginger Muffins. I went home after that, totally obsessed and created a version of my own and posted the recipe. But those were made with whole wheat and spelt and soon I had to reliquish their hold over my tastebuds and go gluten free again (thanks for the painful vacation doc!).



I will wait for these to cool, I will wait for these to cool.

After that, I baked muffins occasionally, picked up muffins at Flying Apron when I was in Seattle, and generally went without. And then, the other day I remembered these muffins. I think it was because I was planning a big group run around Discovery Park in Seattle for my visit home this weekend. Last year a bunch of speedsters got together and ran some loops and then went to Macrina. Oh those muffins. I instantly knew that it was up to me to create a gluten free version that would be as crave worthy as the Macrina ones.

I did it. Yes, me and my little creative brain did it.



I took my own original recipe and then worked through some possible flour combinations/ratios. With muffins, especially gluten free ones, texture is huge. And picking the right flour combination makes a huge difference. I settled on brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour in a 2:1 ratio. Flying by the seat of my pants as it were, I also kicked up the ginger content two fold as I recalled that my previous batch a year ago was not as gingery as I liked.

I baked. I waited. I let them cool so completely that by the time I went to eat them I was bonking from lack of food. I think there was a bit of trepidation in there too. I was afraid to try them. The looked like a winner, but would the taste be triumphant? Would the texture leave me once again annoyed that gluten free will never translate the same? Would they dissolve into a wet, fallen mess overnight (like a lot of GF baked goods do)? Would they be hockey pucks?


In a word: No. I was awe struck by these muffins. Look at that texture! If I didn't tell you it was gluten free, you would not know. The taste, oh my! Smooth banana flavor with a perfect and very present ginger flavor. They played nicely together, letting each other have a share of the glory and spotlight. Neither dominated, they comingled, they made music together and my taste buds were singing! My favorite part was that the banana and ginger were present but the muffin was still predominately savory, not overly sweet- just enough. Again a very fine balance, I think.

I was so excited I couldn't wait to share them with the Baker.

He made me wait though. I fed him way too much bibimbap and homemade coconut milk ice cream for dinner. I waited patiently for my second opinion. I finally got it post early morning run with our regular crew in the Headlands. I open the container (which I left on the counter), prepared myself for some caved in or other gluten free horror to unfold but they were still perfect, together, moist.  The Baker took one out and  took a bite, I prepared myself for a polite, "they're good" and to go back to the drawing board.


"Wow" He said. "These are good. These are really really good. Where did you get the recipe?" Happy dance in my head, something along the lines of a end zone dance, complete with strutting and waving of arms!

"From my head" I answered. "Completely original recipe". I liked being able to say that. I feel it is important to my perspective to keep perspective on the whether things are "good for a gluten free item" (because we all know there are plenty of really bad options out there) or "universally good", meaning gluten free/egg free or not these are damn good. I am glad my second opinion heralded them as the second. I made my muffins in small muffin tins so we shared a second muffin, though I am sure we easily could have each had two and not be making a bad dietary choice (since in addition to all the other awesome things about this recipe, there is only 1/4 cup of butter and that is the only fat). These are not "you can eat those because you run 100 miles" muffins, these are part of a healthy and delicious lifestyle muffins. I don't think it is a bad thing when you can have your decadent cake and have it be nutritious too. It is just an added benefit to these muffins that you don't even have to think about it.

They are good. Damn good. I will be making them again and again and again. I have a feeling that down the line, someone will be looking at one of these babies through the window of my own bakery.

Gluten Free Banana Ginger Muffin

Ingredients:
5 small very ripe bananas (if not super ripe, add 1/4 cup almond milk)
¼ cup butter , room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 ⅓ cup brown rice flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
⅔ cup garbanzo bean flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 ½ tsp. ginger zest, divided
4 tsp. crystallized ginger, minced, divided
1 ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch fresh nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 and line with parchment cups/grease 2 muffin pans (12 muffins). In a food processor, mix together the bananas and butter. Mix in the two types of brown sugar and blend together. Add in vanilla, 2 tsp of minced crystallized ginger, 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger (zest).

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients including the remaining ginger until incorporated. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

Scoop about 1/4 cup of muffin mix into the muffin pans, making 9-12 muffins. Sprinkle the muffins with dark brown sugar and bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted and the tops are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Embrace your inner girl



A friend of mine posted this on Facebook the other day and unlike most things that people post on Facebook, I chose not to ignore it. And I am glad that I didn't. This is a powerful talk by Eve Ensler, the woman who started The Vagina Monologues and it includes a conclusion out of the pages of her new book "I Am an Emotional Creature The Secret Life of Girls Around the World".

I have always considered myself an emotional creature. I have always been an emotive person, a sensitive. I feel it all, as they say. And I was always given the impression that that was a bad thing. Whether it was crying because I was sad, or spazzing out jumping on things, talking 100 miles a minute when excited, I have been told time after time after time in life that I shouldn't be that way. Through high school and undergrad, there was always some form of the behavior police around. When I moved away to Pittsburgh in 2004, I was thrust into a world where I was all by myself and nobody new me. There and then, I embraced my emotional self. Or what was left of it. A small small sliver, a remnant.

For most of my life I had been stifling it, so even when I had the freedom to emote as I pleased, my learned behavior ruled for the most part. I went from being a crier, to someone who rarer cried. I went from being overly and easily verbal about my feelings (even good/great one), to being apprehensive of sharing. The freedom alone did not make the memory or sentiment go away. It hung on like Catholic guilt, hovering there to make me question myself. But "I am an Emotional Creature!", damnit. That is who I am. And I realized as I watched this video that in my life I have let myself be taught to not be a girl. And I like what Eve says, that being a girl is so powerful that we have tried to train everyone in the world to not be one.

I want to embrace my inner girl, because therein lies my personal power. A personal power that says I am going to chase after my dreams and follow my heart with passion. A personal power that I have not truly felt in my adult life. I can see that because it is reflected in so much of my angst and searching that I have discussed at length here. I have not felt empowered to go after my dreams, I have always felt like I had to go a safe, responsible route. I do not have to choose that anymore.

I have been feeling for a while like I am gaining momentum (for the first time in a long time) and that things are gathering force, this was a lovely reminder that I am empowered to be swept up in that momentum and pursue my heart's desire. As are we all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Not reinventing the wheel



Beef Bourguignon, the perfect way to end a weekend

This weekend was an absolutely wonderful and blissful weekend. In food, running, life.  It was Valentine's Day Weekend which has never meant a thing to me one way or another. Like most holidays, I don't get swept up in the commercialism and hype. I do my own thing. This weekend was no different, but it is the first time in the history of my life that I have ever received flowers and chocolate on Valentine's Day, and I have to admit it did make me feel all warm and fuzzy. And then I tasted the chocolates from Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Building as my last bites for the weekend I am about to describe, which pretty much cemented it as one kick ass weekend.

Beautiful flowers from the Ferry Building Saturday Market

The weekend started with a fabulous Friday night of food. I decided to indulge in a non-gluten free friendly meal and it was decidedly worth the risk. In fact, other than a bit of asthma symptoms on Saturday, I was pretty non-reactive to it. We went to Little Star in the Mission and had a deep dish Classic, which has sausage, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper. I had been seriously craving pizza for a long long time (I haven't had a slice since November at Delfina) and this definitely satisfied that craving.

This weekend seemed like it was created straight out of my imagination, it contained all of the things that combine to make me insanely happy and content. Saturday kicked off by getting up early and, for the first time in a while, instead of going on a long run, we headed down to the Saturday Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building to pick up ingredients for our planned Sunday dinner as well as our other weekend meals. I wish I had had my camera. We met Brett and Larissa down there, sipped on some Blue Bottle and wandered around gathering more and more ingredients, as well as snacks with each lap around the market.

Our dinner plan for Valentine's Day was simple. After watching Julie and Julia last week, we couldn't help but think about Julia Child's beef bourguignon and since I had never ever had beef bourguignon, it was an easy pick for a Sunday at home on a special occasion. We grabbed our beef from Prather Ranch Meat Company as well as a half chicken for Saturday. We picked up Batch 21 Cheese and Crescenza cheese from Cow Girl Creamery. We shared a box of potatoes from Roli Roti. I drank an outstanding smoothie from one of the purveyors, we snacked on dates and filled our bags with greens, tiny potatoes, beautiful King Oyster mushrooms, spring garlic, beautiful sprouts and pickled veggies from Happy Girl Kitchen. It was a blast. By 10am though, the market gets crazy busy and we were ready to go. Brett and Larissa headed off to Tomales Bay for the weekend and we headed back to my house with all the goodies. We changed, went for a nice long run on the Miwok 100k course from near Rock Springs to the turn around point of the course at the bottom of Randall trail and back. 24 miles worked up our appetites, we made a quick stop at Whole Foods post run for a few ingredients and ice and we headed back to dive head first into our farmer's market goodies.

First there was salad to temporary satisfy the ravenous beasts we were quickly becoming. I tossed a beautiful mix of Greens with Sprouts and topped with avocado, sauerkraut and mild pickled peppers from Happy Girl. The huge ramen bowls were empty in less than five minutes. We put our half chicken into the oven and cooked it "brick chicken" style, using my cast iron grill press. While it cooked, ice baths were taken, beer/cider was opened, veggies were chopped. When the chicken was done, we made fajitas with handmade tortillas from Primavera (also from the farmer's market), bell pepper, jalepenos, onion. We kept the seasoning light and the flavors clean, a bit of avocado, crescenza and lime were all that was needed. Absolutely delicious. The evening was finished off with Coconut Bliss and some gluten free graham crackers which I made on Friday.

We had decided that we wanted to be done running and heading home by 11:30am. We also had planned to run really really hard for a long way, so that meant we didn't have to get up too early. In fact, we each managed to run 19 miles in just around 2:40 and that is on the climby-est part of the Miwok course. Very nice. We were back at the car and heading back into the City by 10:45, which was a vast difference than Saturday when we hadn't even left for our run yet! Lunch was a redux of the previous days salad. And I am thinking that I may be making it for myself every day as long as the ingredients are still available to me. My favorite part was the crunch from the "Market mix", which is a blend of sprouted beans. Wow good.

The beef bourguignon takes a while, so got to work on it pretty quickly. While easy, tasty meals are awesome, there is something really fun and validating about working on small little details and ingredients and spending hours and hours in the kitchen. Sunday afternoons in the kitchen are one of my more favorite thing. It's fun just to create and then be able to eat the reward at the end.

I have not done much cooking out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and unlike most recipes, this one we really tried to follow. There would be no reinventing of the wheel on this one, there is a reason that Julia Child's compendium is in 40-somethingth edition and could become a best seller, again, 49 years after its release. I really liked working through each step, each little detail to create the final product. From individually cooking the bacon, browning the meal, cooking the vegetables before cooking them all together for 3 hours with lots of wine to sauteing the mushrooms in butter (don't crowd the mushrooms!), it was a blast. It reminds me how complex it can be to make amazing simple food. And it was amazing. The beef bourguignon had so much depth of flavor, you felt like you were watching a perfectly executed symphony, but instead of listening, you were trying your best not to submerge your whole face in the still hot dutch oven. We paired the rich stew with a very simple playmate: boiled potatoes. And they played well together. Meat and potatoes to something like an exponent of 10. Meat and potatoes at their best. It was damn good and when followed by the chocolates mentioned above, pretty much capped off the kind of weekend you remember for a long time and enjoyed completely from end to end.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tempus Fugit

 
Mile 55- Western States 2009. Photo by Gareth Mackay
It's feels like just yesterday that this photo was taken as we moved Krissy through Michigan Bluff, mile 55 at States. I can feel the sweltering heat of the day and the crazy energy of the race. It's been, what 2/3 of a year? There are now 134 days left until States. It's just weird where time goes.

This is not a Western States posting though. I am as excited about Western States as I am for any of my other races. I want to run well, challenge myself in both training and racing and enjoy the heck out of myself.  

It is funny to reflect on how quickly things change. While I feel like I have just been in true "training mode" since coming back from Hawaii, my off season really seemed to fly by. This year, my off season was not really an "off from running" season but more of an off from racing season. I haven't raced since Rodeo Beach 50k and raced in an "A" race since JFK in November. And now, I am quickly approaching my first race and am thinking, "ack! Where did time go? Am I ready? Am I fast enough yet?" I was looking at my training plan and race schedule and it really just feels like a hop, skip and a jump and suddenly it's June! The reality of the situation is that I have been doing some great training, dropping the hammer on some good running and am just continuing to be patient. Patience is afterall what I recommend to those runners just starting out, so I need to remember to heed that for myself. And remembering to enjoy, though I would say I really don't have much problem with that. I am as much looking forward to my races, as I am for many a weekend running adventure, pacing gigs and training.

In all honesty, while I am in "training mode" now, I feel this mode has become one that is not hugely separate from my regular mode. What I mean is that, the good habits of "training mode" like maintaining a healthy (but also balanced & balanced with enjoyment) diet, core training, stretching, getting bodywork etc. I feel like, more than ever, that running is just a completely integrated part of my life. Maybe it's because I spend the majority of my time with people who think a weekend is best spent running on trails for hours followed by good food, drink and laughs that I feel this way. Though this has generally never been the case, I know feel like the epic cool runs we do on the weekend are the center piece of the weekends plans instead of something that will be fit in. I mean, I guess most people know by now, that there are not many activities I love more in the world than running and cooking! 


 
The small amazing moments. 
Sunrise over the city on yet another 5:30 Headlands run.
Photo by Brett Rivers.

While I look at my schedule and say, "ack! where is time going?", I am also really aware that I am more present than ever. I am more in the here and now. It is a really cool feeling to know, acknowledge and work towards plans/goals for the future, but to not be missing out on all the great things going on right now that make me so happy, excited, present and content. Life is really good. So even though, when I pause for a minute to think about it, time seems to be racing and I have to work hard at holding on to all the amazing moments that are playing out every day (thank goodness I have taken to journaling), I still feel like each moment is rich and fat and drawn out for my enjoyment.

Integration and Presence. Above all, right now that is where I am. And I, frankly, am quickly forgetting any other way to be.

Tempus Fugit

 
Mile 55- Western States 2009. Photo by Gareth Mackay
It's feels like just yesterday that this photo was taken as we moved Krissy through Michigan Bluff, mile 55 at States. I can feel the sweltering heat of the day and the crazy energy of the race. It's been, what 2/3 of a year? There are now 134 days left until States. It's just weird where time goes.

This is not a Western States posting though. I am as excited about Western States as I am for any of my other races. I want to run well, challenge myself in both training and racing and enjoy the heck out of myself.  

It is funny to reflect on how quickly things change. While I feel like I have just been in true "training mode" since coming back from Hawaii, my off season really seemed to fly by. This year, my off season was not really an "off from running" season but more of an off from racing season. I haven't raced since Rodeo Beach 50k and raced in an "A" race since JFK in November. And now, I am quickly approaching my first race and am thinking, "ack! Where did time go? Am I ready? Am I fast enough yet?" I was looking at my training plan and race schedule and it really just feels like a hop, skip and a jump and suddenly it's June! The reality of the situation is that I have been doing some great training, dropping the hammer on some good running and am just continuing to be patient. Patience is afterall what I recommend to those runners just starting out, so I need to remember to heed that for myself. And remembering to enjoy, though I would say I really don't have much problem with that. I am as much looking forward to my races, as I am for many a weekend running adventure, pacing gigs and training.

In all honesty, while I am in "training mode" now, I feel this mode has become one that is not hugely separate from my regular mode. What I mean is that, the good habits of "training mode" like maintaining a healthy (but also balanced & balanced with enjoyment) diet, core training, stretching, getting bodywork etc. I feel like, more than ever, that running is just a completely integrated part of my life. Maybe it's because I spend the majority of my time with people who think a weekend is best spent running on trails for hours followed by good food, drink and laughs that I feel this way. Though this has generally never been the case, I know feel like the epic cool runs we do on the weekend are the center piece of the weekends plans instead of something that will be fit in. I mean, I guess most people know by now, that there are not many activities I love more in the world than running and cooking! 


 
The small amazing moments. 
Sunrise over the city on yet another 5:30 Headlands run.
Photo by Brett Rivers.

While I look at my schedule and say, "ack! where is time going?", I am also really aware that I am more present than ever. I am more in the here and now. It is a really cool feeling to know, acknowledge and work towards plans/goals for the future, but to not be missing out on all the great things going on right now that make me so happy, excited, present and content. Life is really good. So even though, when I pause for a minute to think about it, time seems to be racing and I have to work hard at holding on to all the amazing moments that are playing out every day (thank goodness I have taken to journaling), I still feel like each moment is rich and fat and drawn out for my enjoyment.

Integration and Presence. Above all, right now that is where I am. And I, frankly, am quickly forgetting any other way to be.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Knowing is half the battle

 

Remember when you were a kid and you would play Marco Polo in the swimming pool? One person closes their eyes and tries to tag the other player by following their voice. One says "Marco", the others reply "Polo". The ones with their eyes open have a serious advantage and the one with their eyes closed just really hopes they get lucky. It can be very frustrating to just spin around in a vast ocean (or pool, usually) responding to the voices that call you in all sorts of directions.
I have felt like that for a long time in my journey. I have felt like I had my eyes closed and simply went where the next voice called me. What was calling me where my interests, passions and the like, but I always responded to them very dramatically. I went the way of the sound with all my might, hoping, just hoping it might catch. I have smacked face first into many walls that way. Many of my "ah-ha this is it, I am such a genius" ideas are followed by a much more quiet, "oh yeah, about that....nevermind." What I have realized through that is I was responding first, then trying to decide afterwards if it was really something that was right for me. Shiny object, shiny object. It's easy to get caught up in the idea that there is an "ah-ha!" moment, a single solution. 

I recently wrote an article for Marathon Matt and Psoas Bodywork about my thoughts on running and lessons I have learned that would be helpful to a first timer. One of the first thing I said was "Be patient, go slow, don’t rush." I realized as I wrote that, that while I have done that with running, letting myself gain experience with time and accumulated practice, that in my career/passions I have not allowed things to just unfold. I wait impatiently for the one big "ah-ha" answer. But I am being impatient without knowing what it is I really want. Therefore, I cannot work to get what I want, because I don't know what that is.

I see this a lot in relationships. People get together with someone but don't know what they actually want from a relationship or from another person. They haven't done the self-work to know why they really want to be in a relationship (either generally or specifically). And so ultimately, not knowing leads to failure because the premise was wrong. You don't go into a clothing store and just start trying on any random arbitrary size do you? No, you have a pretty good idea of where you fit and you try things on that are a close approximation to that idea. If you pull something off the rack and it drastically doesn't fit, you re-evaluate. I feel like I know what I want in most areas of my life. I feel like I have done a lot of self-work to make that so. But I definitely think that I did not, have not done enough work on my career path in the same way as I have in my personal path. I left grad school and lost momentum when I realized I was not super into being a librarian. I haven't done enough to change that because I didn't know what I wanted. And furthermore, I lost a little confidence in my ability to know since I had been SO sure about my career as a librarian. 

I am changing that. I am beginning to toe up to the line to fight the battle. I shucking off some residual fears and digging really deep for my confidence. I also feel like I am gaining momentum even though it is just a whisper. I am starting to know and that feels really amazing. It may not be real change but it is a turn in the right direction. Even though there have been many days full of trepidation and self-doubt, I am finally not being sucked in by it. Knowing is truly half the battle and change is afoot. I like that.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bread and stuff to put on bread

Bread attempts

I am not really the type of person to wish to change circumstances that cannot be or wish things away that simply cannot be wished away. It is futile and a great waste of energy. I change or work for change in things I have control over and celebrate the parts of life that simply are what they are good or bad. No resistance, no stress.

There is one thing though I would change. Ok, actually it's two things. I wish I could eat gluten and I wish I could eat eggs. There is no oh poor me involved in this. I eat these things, I don't feel good. It is a fact of life, one which would be nice to be able to change. People with food intolerance, allergies and diseases like Chrons/Celiac are not doing happy dances when they get their diagnoses I assure you. As much as you can become happy and ok with it, it is not something you'd wish on anyone.

There are a few brilliant individuals such as Karina and Shauna and bakeries such as BabyCakes (NYC/LA) and Flying Apron (Seattle) who are making great strides in creating gluten-free friendly recipes of the things people commonly have to cut out of their diets when they have gluten intolerance and Celiac. It is awesome what they are doing. Goodness knows, I appreciate it when I need a baked goods fix. I have also started to develop gluten free, egg-free recipes of my own that I would some day love to share in a cookbook or bakery.


I think my biggest problem is that I am not really a baked good person in general. You would think that would make being gluten intolerant easier and it does, but the problem is when I do crave a baked good there are some that just cannot be mimicked in a gluten free style. Cookies, cupcakes, even most morning pastries but not bread. The thing I often crave the most is a big hunk of crusty bread straight out of the oven. In my adult life, I have never been much of a consumer of bread on a daily basis, or even consistently of grains. I just prefer veggies and fruit to grains. But there are some days when I can think of nothing more than a hunk of bread with butter melting over it.

Last week was one of those weeks. I wanted bread. I wanted a sandwich. I wanted crusty, flaky warm bread straight out of the oven. And I didn't want to suffer for it. And so, I decided to try my hand at baking on. I consulted many sources but each had something I could not use or work with. One has eggs, another uses a breadmaker and provides no alternate instructions. Each had something I would tweak or change. And so I decided to do that.


I developed a gluten free, egg free crusty bread in my brand new 5 1/2 quart Le Creuset, consulted with the Baker about a few techniques and on Friday baked off my first batch. Fresh out of the oven (after cooling), it had a great outside crunch, the inside was what I would expect of a gluten free loaf- slightly dense, but yes! it had some lift and stretchy bubbles. However, it also had a slightly metallic taste which I had just suggested be worked out of another gluten free recipe that the Baker had me try. The metallic taste comes from the egg replacer which would easily be remedied if I had the luxury of being able to eat eggs. Eggs are a good "cheat" in gluten free baking. The loaf was not bad, in fact, it was probably a revelation in terms of gluten free bread baking. But it was not what I wanted. I will continue to develop the recipe and see if I can create something crave worthy. It is a start and I am intrigued.

Condiment Party



Part of the hope in baking the bread on Friday was that I would have a nice loaf of bread that I could put my hot dogs on for our Super Bowl Sunday party. We decided to throw a Super not Superbowl Party, which eventually became just a Super Superbowl Party. The requirements for coming were to bring a beverage and a homemade condiment. The Baker made buns and we cooked up some great tasting dogs. The day before the big game, we spent a few hours in the kitchen making Maple Baked Beans, Chipotle Ketchup, Roasted Peppers, Caramelized Onions and Spicy Mustard.


Best hog dog buns anyone had ever tasted.



Hot dogs braised in white wine, onions and cloves.



Maple Glazed Beans. Cooked for 6 hours. YUM!


The party was awesome and the party-goers absolutely surprised and delighted me in the level in which they got into making condiments. They showed some great creativity. We had a few types of ketchup, honey mustard, sprouted mung bean relish, spicy thai relish, wasabi mayo, guacamole, tomatillo salsa, sauerkraut, cream cheese. You name it, we had it. It was really fascinating to watch the combination and methods that people chose in getting a maximum number of condiments on their dogs or plates. People had a great time and I was really blessed to have such a great group of people bless my home with their presence and my kitchen with their great dishes!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Little old me


I don't have a place on my blog where you can look up my race history and profile, I don't keep a (public) rolling tab of my races as of this moment. However, if you are interested in knowing about me and my racing history, two of my sponsors have created cool profiles they . Check them out!

Amazing Grass
Hydrapak
FRS

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Transition

I know that good old Punxsutaweny Phil saw his shadow this morning meaning we have 6 more weeks of winter. But I still feel a period of transition in my bones. Maybe I am just transitioning back from being in Hawaii, but I think its more than that.

 

In fact, I know its more than that. Since JFK 50 in November, I have not really been in hard training mode. While my mileage may be good, my specific focus and drive was not in "training mode". I simply followed my bliss, navigated the ebbs and flows in spark and energy. I paced, I explored, I ran for miles and miles. I mostly just tried to enjoy. Now, the tides are changing.

I am back at it. Trying to be at least. Focusing, buckling down, doing the work. It is fun. I am trying to reinvent my routine, or moreover create one in my new space, new home, etc. Not just in running, in life. Routine, transition, these are things I am universally experiencing right now. 

Running is simple. Finding a groove and routine is easy on the large scale. But after a period of non-routine, it is harder to get back into it. I am no longer use to getting up at 6am to pound out the early miles. I want to be. I am completely foreign to a gym workout and I have to remind myself that I should consult my training schedule before I head out. I don't need to be rigid, just consistent as I finish out the winter base training and head towards spring races. 

In running and in life, I have been doing the work, but if there is one thing  I really want to see in the next year in both it is growth. Stop wanting and start doing. I think I am pretty darn good at pursuing goals and objectives, so I need to establish my days in a way that help be successful. I never want to be a slave to routine, but I thrive when I have good boundaries. Most people have boundaries/parameters in the form of office/work hours. When you work from home and are trying to take down a project like writing a book or starting your own business, those boundaries just don't exist. I am sure I could spend an entire day finding things to do that aren't the real stuff I want to get accomplished. That either means I don't really deep down want those things or I need to find a set of boundaries that don't give me an opt out option. I am figuring out a way to do that. Even if it just means declaring to myself that EVERY (week) DAY from 2-4pm I will write and from 4-6pm I will run and go to the gym, than so be it (for example).

I am super keen to see how this year starts to shake out. I know as I go deeper into my running training, that other parts of my routine will also shake themselves out. Like most things in my life right now, even uncertainty and the opportunity to pursue insight that offers, makes me happy and excited. I am looking at even the biggest mountains ahead of me and licking my lips, saying, I am going to find a way to get to the top of that hill. To even say that is to acknowledge a transition. A transition away from a time (maybe even years) that was imbibed with much more struggle, feeling like I was searching around in the dark, searching for a place I belong. I have moved beyond that now. Phew. That was exhausting. Now I turn my sights to climb every mountain that comes before me and see where the road will take me. So whether or not lil old phil says so or not, the thaw has begun in me and I am looking forward to breaking out!


Taming the Green Monster

I know I am a strange person. That is not news to anyone who knows me.

Yesterday I was reminded again that the things I eat and the foods I crave are also not normal. I was doing an interview for DailyMile and we were discussing food and I mentioned craving salads and vegetables which produced a quizzical look. Later on that day, when I was talking to Scott my massage therapist at Psoas, he said "I never crave fruits and vegetables, just fatty food or sugar, etc". Never? Really?!

I thought about it for a while since honest to goodness I don't have sugar cravings, in fact I wouldn't really say I have cravings at all. Usually on my long runs I start thinking about the food I will refuel with and get particularly fixated on something but it's not a true craving and even if it were, well, I usually have earned it. On my 34.5 mile run this Sunday I got fixated on the idea of having roast chicken and salad for dinner and ultimately that is what we had. Rotisserie chicken from Limon and a big leaf salad. Really hit the spot.

After all the talk of food cravings or not, last night all I could think about was a big green salad. Not your restaurant style green salad which is usually just beautiful greens plus a delicious dressing. I am talking greens, green vegetables and even a herb-y dressing. Yes, I was craving it. I needed to tame that green monster.



And wow was it good. I actually ate WAY slower than I usually do so I could savor each and every bite. The only things that weren't green in this salad were the baked tofu and the sauerkraut. I felt like a superhero after eating this salad. I felt invigorated and satisfied. It is definitely one that I will be making again and again. Salad may not be rocket science, but that doesn't mean it can't be profound on occasion.

Greener than Green Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup broccoli, lightly steamed (to make it less gas producing)

2 stalks of kale, cut into ribbons

4-6 cups of greens including arugula, spinach

2 tbsp fresh cilantro

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 cup sauerkraut

1 package baked tofu

1/2 avocado

1 cup rice vinegar

4 cloves garlic minced

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp fresh ginger

2-3 tbsp mixed fresh herbs

1/2 cup+ peanut oil

Directions:

Mix vinegar, garlic, herbs, sesame oil, ginger in a blender. With the motor running, add in peanut oil until dressing emulsifies.

In a large bowl, put the cut kale into the bowl and add 2 tbsps dressing. With clean bare hands, massage the kale for 30 seconds until the leaves slightly soften. Add in greens, spinach, arugula, cilantro, and green onions. Toss to coat with dressing adding more to taste. Top with steamed broccoli, avocado, tofu and sauerkraut. Enjoy. This salad is definitely a meal, split it into two and have it as a side.

Speaking of weird cravings, last week I was seriously jonesing for chickpeas. I mean really, I couldn't get it out of my head. I decided for Wednesday dinner that I would call on my inner Greek and make some recipes from Vefa's Kitchen which I had gotten over the weekend. I made Vegetable and Garbanzo Bean Casserole as well as Chicken Souvlaki. Both were delicious and I am super keen to try more recipes from the cookbook. It is a good one, a classic and a compendium of Greek Food (it's been called the bible of traditional Greek Food). I won't share the recipes, but I will share a few photos of the delicious final product!



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