Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ubuntu


"People are people through other people/ I am what I am because of who we all are"
- meaning of the Bantu word, Ubuntu

In high school, I was a hardcore basketball player. I played on my high school team, I played on a year round "select" team, I worked out 8 hours a day. When I think back on that time of my life, I don't think about the endless hours of drills, practice or even games. I can't remember which important shots I made or missed. I can only vaguely recall any of the details I felt were so incredibly important then. I don't miss basketball at all and I am a completely different person now then I was then (though who I am is hugely informed by who I was). What I look back to, reflect on and miss about that period of time is my teammates.

My teammates from my select team and I were a community of like minded individuals, working for a common goal. We pushed each other to be better, we lifted each other up and supported one another. Even though we each were trying to develop our own careers, we were partners in each others success. We raised each other up, knowing that we could all succeed and helping one another did not change that. In my entire life it is those bonds that we shared that define for me what it means to be a part of a community. I was who I was because of who we all were.

Those girls and I unconditionally, and sometimes blindly, supported one another. To this day, I still consider some of them my closest friends. Britt, Natalie, EP, AB- all of those ladies and I have weathered more than just well played hoops and basketball dreams. We share a bond that goes far beyond time and distance. It goes beyond powerful individual friendship to a space of power group conscious. That community is something I long mourned. It was such a powerful thing to be a part of- people working together for the betterment of one another, depending on one another, supporting one another completely, unconditionally and selflessly. In my adult life, I searched for that kind of community but found it lacking. I started to wonder if being disconnected was the way of modern adulthood and that I would never experience a community such as I did then.


This year I feel the tides of change. I suddenly feel like the tipping point has been reached and I tumble, laughing head over heels, into the depths of an amazing, special community. I know that this community that I am wading deeper and deeper into is something that all of us have been cultivating for a long time. I feel connected and I feel inspired. Waking up at 4:30 am or psyching up for a 30 mile run is easier when you know that you will have 10 friends in the trenches with you. But it goes beyond having running buddies. I have been a part of the "ninjas" for almost two years and for a while it was a rag-tag bunch of runners who wanted to sneak in a trail run before work or have company on the trails on the weekends. In recent months, I feel like it has transcended that. We have grown in size but I think things have changed. Our lives, both off and on the trails, are becoming intertwined in a way that has all of us partnering in each others success.


I have long felt that the word "network" and "networking" were dirty words that described that act of trying to cultivate something strict for yourself. That someone how knowing the right person might be your ticket. I have long refrained from actively "networking" for my business or for my brand or for myself. As I see this community develop, I realize that I have a new definition of "networking". That is - "community building". Every day my community is expanding in the most brilliant and unexpected ways.

Our running community is built out of  a huge spiderweb of 1st and 2nd degree connections. I invite someone who invites someone who invites someone else and each one of those individual is folded in to the community and loses that tag "you are so and so's friend". The group expands exponentially in every direction and there is room enough for everyone. This community that we have built absolutely inspires me. Instead of being afraid to "network", I am learning to put myself out there and connect with others for no other reason than to meet inspiring rad individuals and in an incredibly short amount of time, I went from feeling lost and confused to daily inspired and motivated. And motivated not just for myself, but for the betterment of all of us. It is not even a conscious move for any of us. We are pushing each other to be better, in life not just running, we are partnering in each others success and supporting one another. We are sharing our skills with one another and infusing each other with passion. It has been an incredible thing to watch- someone says "I want to do this" and the group responds by saying, "here's how I can help", "I have someone who you should meet", "I have some experience with that", "I think that is a fantastic idea, I am fully supportive".

As I watch the community that I am a part of grow and change and build momentum and I am reminded of my time in South Africa. A community philosophy I learned  there is known as Ubuntu- "People are people through other people/ I am what I am because of who we all are". I always believed it was a beautiful idea and something that I wanted to have again (after basketball), but I honestly had not felt it. Until now. And I am deeply, truly grateful for that. Human connection and community is one of the foundations of all of life's joy and happiness. It costs nothing and only exponentially enhances our lives. Share, love, build, connect and be happy.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Be Your Own Personal Chef: Part I

Welcome to my second new series: Be your own personal chef. Over the past few months, we have been taking a page out of my personal chef book and sitting down on Sundays to plan out our week's menu and shopping list for Monday-Friday. We pull all the recipes we are going to use (if we use any) and make a grocery list so we only have to shop once a week. This saves a huge amount of time AND money. We have committed to doing a meatless day once a week as well. In this series, I will share with you our weekly menu plan and any (actual) recipes we use! The idea behind this series is to give you some inspiration on how to be your own personal chef and get fired up in the kitchen. Be sure to check out my other series: Nutritional Navigator for more ideas!


My first installment of Nutritional Navigator guided you through a typical taper week. Thankfully, that means this week is a recovery week from my big race this past Sunday. After months of hard training, an unsuccessful first attempt at qualifying for the Olympic Trials and success at last, this weeks menu reflects some well deserved celebration and not training typical meals for me (stay tuned for an upcoming blog on my great bread experiment). We wrote this menu after my race and ironically enough, I was craving pretty normal healthy foods instead of anything wild and crazy. I have had some weird cravings in my life, but after Sunday I was just craving the comfort of the familiar with a few exceptions.


Our weekday menu:
Monday: Tequila-spiked slow cooked chicken
Tuesday: Dinner out at Bar Tartine
Wednesday: Shrimp tacos. Shrimp marinated in chili powder and lime. Roasted sweet potatoes, onions and garlic with ancho powder. Fresh cabbage slaw with jalapenos. Primavera tortillas
Thursday: Vegetarian pizza. Fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, hot peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic (meatless meal).
Friday: Homemade lamb sausages. Lemon roasted potatoes. Braised chard.
Other items: Homemade chocolate hazelnut cashew butter ("nutella"). Homemade Banana "Nutella" Muffins. (Recipe below)


We just got a food processor and my absolute favorite thing to make is nut butter. I wanted an excuse to try out creative nut butter recipes and what better way than to make homemade nutella. I didn't have enough hazelnuts on hand to just do hazelnuts so I mixed it up by adding some cashews.


Homemade chocolate hazelnut cashew butter

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup melted chocolate
Directions:
In a food processor, add the nuts and turn on. Let process for 3 minutes. Then with a spatula wipe down the sides and continue processing. Continue this process until the nuts release their oils and turn into a beautiful silky smooth butter. This takes a bit of patience but no fancy tricks. Once the nuts are a smooth butter add in the melted chocolate and process for 1 more minute. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid.

Banana Nutella Muffins
  • 2 cups GF flour mix (see below)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup homemade "nutella"
  • extra banana slices for topping
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place paper liners into muffin tins (12). 
Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl or standing mixer. In the food processor, combine the ripe bananas with other wet ingredients, except nutella and process into a smooth paste. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add in nutella and stir until incorporated.

Pour batter evenly into muffin cups and top with banana slices. Bake for 26-28 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and store in a tupperware container. Enjoy with more homemade "nutella".

GF flour mix:
  • 1 cup tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch)
  • 1cup potato starch
  • 1cup buckwheat flour
  • 1cup sorghum flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
Combine all flours in a large container with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously to combine. Store in the freezer.

Note: These muffins were my first attempt at the recipe. They were good as is but the recipe still needs a bit of tweaking.

That's what we are cooking and eating. How about you? What was your favorite meal you made this week?



Want to learn how to be your own personal chef? Check out my Culinary Coaching Services. Love the idea but don't have the time and energy? Check out my Personal Chef Services.

Monday, March 21, 2011

LA Marathon- Pursuit of the Olympic Trials Qualifier Part 2


When I woke up on Sunday (March 20th) morning at 3:05am, I bounded out bed, flipped the switch for the coffee maker before it could start on its own. I was up, I was awake, it was race morning and I felt, calm, deadly calm. I know I can't fake that feeling but I knew it meant that I had genuinely conquered my expectations and was ready to accept the day no matter what happened. I was ready to just enjoy the race, be present for the race and smile at the rain that I knew was coming. I decided to take the above picture before I headed out. I wanted to be able to look back and say, I went into the race smiling, did I finish that way?

I am happy to say, I achieved that goal. I also had a "Devon Day". But now, I am getting ahead of myself.

Post-Houston/Pre-race

I have talked a lot about my feelings after having such a bad race after Houston. It really messed with my confidence and my head, but in the end, despite feeling like there was nothing redeeming about the experience for a long time, I see now that the bad experience itself was its redeeming factor. Because it taught me a hell of a lot and it gave me experience going through all sorts of things all at the same time (kind of like an ultra, just way faster).

Even though I was bummed after Houston, I got right back up and back in the saddle. I considered my race schedule and decided to do LA marathon. I was helped greatly by rockstar Creative Director of the race Peter Abraham. I am so appreciative of Peter from getting me into the race to allowing me to join him and others in his hospitality suite before the race to introducing me to other ladies going for the OT in the open field to braving the crowds in the corrals to ensure we were up front and had room to get out quick. I am eternally grateful. Thanks Peter for making this experience possible.

Once I had LA on the schedule, it was a matter of balancing recovery from Houston and sharpening for LA. I think I walked a very fine line and part of me was very afraid that I was doing too much, that I had pushed myself over the edge, pushed too hard. And I knew I wouldn't know until things started to shake out on race day.

I headed down to LA on Saturday morning where I was met by Jonathan (aka Bestest Everest) and we headed over to the expo to get a little excited by all the race energy. I didn't need to go to the expo for my number because Peter and friend/Coyote leader/coach/ultrarunner/etc Jimmy Dean had made sure I had all my number, credentials, etc and was completely set. But going to a race expo at a big race is run. LA marathon had 26,000 running! You can't but help getting excited around that kind of energy!

We then made a quick stop at Whole Foods to get all my necessary dinner items and then headed over to my wonderful and gracious host's house. I was lucky enough to be hosted by Kathy Eldon and Michael Bedner at their house on the beach in Malibu. Jonathan works with Kathy at Creative Vision Foundation and they were excited to help support my pursuit of getting my OT any way they could. They were amazing hosts and I felt right at home. Jonathan and I went for a good run, but short and then we made dinner early; nice rib-eye steaks Michael had gotten, roast potatoes and salad. It was a delicious meal, but I ate pretty light overall for the day and went to bed early (before 9) feeling good. I slept really well despite being woken up about every 2 hours by something (first text messages then a faulty iphone alarm). Just after 3am, I was up, eating a hearty bowl of oats with banana and peanut butter and getting my racing kit on.

Excited by the forecast for race day: Lots of rain, urban flooding and debris flow.

Race

It wasn't raining, yet, when I got up but the forecast wasn't that good. The night before it had looked hopeful that it might not rain between 7am-9am and that there would be a lot of rain before and after that but it didn't really play out that way.  But I wasn't particularly worried, I am a battle hardened veteran and after Houston, I wasn't surprised I was again pulling the crappy weather card. I think at this point I should just expect the storm of the century every time I line up. At least there was no talk of canceling the race like there was at Houston.


Jonathan was wonderful and drove me to my shuttle bus at way the hell too early in the morning (arrived at 4:30am). I was able to get on the Coyotes shuttle, again thanks to Jimmy Dean, so that I didn't have to navigate the horrendous traffic at Dodger Stadium as 26,000 fought to find parking or be dropped off or shuttled in. We were to the start and another OT qualifier hopeful, Emily Mitchell, and I made our way from the shuttle up the stadium to Peter's hospitality suite. We met one other hopeful, Joanna Zeiger (who is a badass 70.3 World Champion) and eventually made our way to the start. And waited and waited and waited. Finally after lots of waiting in the cold (thankfully still not raining), they sent the elite women's field off. Then we waited exactly 17:03 and we were off. We were at the front of corral A but we were swimming in a sea of pushy, scraping for the front folks whose bibs indicated they should be way back in B or C. I had my apprehension as we took our first steps and I was cautious. My intuition was right as this dodgy guy next to me accidentally tripped Emily 3 steps passed the start line. She slammed into the ground and I could barely hurdle her and keep going to avoid being crushed my the crowd. It was a bummer not to have the opportunity to run with her but she managed to pull herself together and run a PR of 2:56. Not the day she wanted, but she overcame a lot and had a great race.

I was off and running. Jimmy Dean had sent me some splits the night before for a 2:45 pace adjusted specifically for the course. I didn't memorize it but I noted the mile splits that I should expect to be higher than my needed 6:18/mile pace. All I did was remember that miles 4,5, 18,19, 21 and 22 would be slower to much slower. It provided me a guideline to work with based on my plan to run by feel not by pace. I didn't wear a garmin, I wore a watch and hit lap every mile split (where there was one, only about half of the miles were marked which sucked). I would glance at the split and compare it to how I felt. Simply note it and leave the math for later in the race.



We headed out of Dodger's stadium and proceeded to follow an amazing course to the sea. I really liked the course. It really highlights all the various things you'd want to go visit in LA. It was interesting and despite the rain that started in about 1/2 mile into the race, there was a great deal of crowd support. I settled in and felt really comfortable. My first mile was slower than my goal pace, a 6:20 and I looked at my watch and smiled. Perfect. It was perfect because I wanted to go out slow, I wanted to keep myself comfortable for as long as possible. Especially since I knew, despite some good rolling hills later in the race, that this was a great course to negative split on.


It was raining quite hard by mile 4. We climbed this awesome, pretty steep hill heading out of Chinatown but I actually found it pretty easy to get up, being pulled upwards by the sound of 40 drummers beating in time at the top. Comfortable. I just felt like I was cruising, taking it in, smiling, doing my best to interact with the other runners and acknowledge the crowd. I got super excited at around mile 6 when I saw my fellow ninja, Georgia, who was at the race to help pace her sister to a BQ! She was screaming my name and it gave me such a boost.

I was cruising with a pack of folks including a few woman, Joanna included. One of the guys told me he was shooting for a 2:44 and I felt like I was in the right spot. There were about 8 of us that were roughly together and we made it through 10k in 39:21. Not smoking but within striking distance. After the 10k split, my mile times started getting faster. Partially it was the course, partially I think my body was finally warmed up, partially I think I knew that this was my day and that I should gas it a bit but not get too crazy.

I stuck to my nutrition plan perfectly. I drank a sip of water at every aid station (every mile) and I took my first gel at 45 minutes into the race. I felt like a machine. The running felt easy. I wanted to maintain that feeling for as long as possible. Sure I was aware of my overall time, but not really aware of the math that it would take to figure out if I was going to make it or not. I wouldn't really have a clue until the half way point of where I stood. I decided until then just to keep a smile on my face and the killer instinct in my heart. I was freaking so happy with every step. My body and mind were in sync and I am sure I annoyed more than a few fellow runners encouraging them and carrying on conversation.


The group broke apart a bit but Joanna and I stuck together. We hit mile 13 (which had no marker) and then the half way point was somewhere in there too (also not marked). I asked Joanna, who was wearing a Garmin, what we had hit the half in and she responded right around 1:22. Nice. Faster than Houston by about 30 seconds but I felt 10 billion times better and comfortable at that pace than I did at Houston. At Houston when we were passing the halfway mark, I felt like I was red lining, but now I just felt like I was settled in at that "I could run this all day pace". It was raining a bunch, we'd turn corners and get slammed with a headwind. There was even lightning. My hands were freezing and I could barely get my gels out of my pocket. I took another gel at 1:30 and accidentally dropped my Hyper-vespa which momentarily freaked me out, but then I instantly pulled myself back to the present and decided not to borrow trouble.

I was starting to get excited the closer I got to mile 16 for a few reasons. First, I knew that if I hit mile 16 feeling good that I would never falter. Why did I know this? I am not sure. Second, I knew that Jonathan, bestest everest would be waiting for me to hop in and run me in. Despite there being 26,000 in the race, there wasn't much of a crowd upfront and he was nice enough to be a volunteer pace rabbit for anyone who wanted to get in under 2:46.

Joanna and I ran passed the Chateau Marmont and I turned to her, as she had slipped behind me a few steps, and said, "just stay on my shoulder, hold on. I have a friend coming who will take us in under the standard". But I was accelerating and feeling strong and I was soon on my own.


I didn't have to be on my own for long. Jonathan jumped in and we were off to the races. In fact, looking back, my splits for the mile leading up to him and mile after picking him up were an average pace of 5:44. I was flying. And still smiling.

Jonathan cautiously checked in with me and all I could do was beam. "I feel great!" I said. I knew I needed to stay smart through the upcoming miles, especially since I didn't exactly know what the hills of 18,19, 21and 22 would entail. Thankfully, Jonathan had run the final 10 miles on Friday with Jimmy Dean and so he was able to talk me through each section and let me know what to expect.

I was so happy to be sharing that run with Jonathan. It was a beautiful thing to share. I simple was absorbed in the run, floating along. I would just suddenly get the goofiest smile on my face or say something out loud like "smile at the rain". We made it easily past the bumps of mile 18 and 19. I had to laugh because they were so little (especially compared to that first giant hill) but my pace was slightly slower as we rolled upwards. At 2:15, I tried to get my last gel out of my pocket but my hands were frozen blocks and I struggled for a good 30 seconds while trying to keep pace to get it out. Thankfully, I managed. I took my last gel and a salt cap and started to get serious.


I don't mean serious in a bad way. Like deadly ninja assassin serious. Like I am about to do one of my patented Devon closes. Like I am about to see how many guys I can chick in the final miles. I stayed smart and cautious through mile 22, getting up and over the final hump before a nice gradual downhill finish. Just after the last climb, I encountered the most serious urban flooding I'd seen all day (which is saying something since I went through some major flows). I splashed through ankle deep water that covered the road and then began the hammer drop. I was still happy on the inside but I had donned my ninja mask and was ready to fly. I was ready to put myself in the pain cave, I was ready to run "eyeballs out" as my friend Hollis says. I had been comfortable and cruising all day, now I needed to see what I could squeeze out in the final 7k. At 35k, I was running 6:16 pace, arriving there in 2:16:53. I finally took time to consider if I was going to make the 2:46 standard or not. I was feeling really good, but had I run smart enough and fast enough to make it? I couldn't do the math but I wasn't sure. It felt like it was going to be close so I put it on the line.

Something happened in that moment. I clicked over into the next gear seamlessly and my body didn't resist. My mind somehow had been able to communicate to my muscles "it's ok, we have enough energy to do this". It felt like no effort at all. And my mile splits got faster and faster.



I would occasionally look over at Jonathan or grunt a small command to him as I went for a water cup or to take the higher more even ground. I knew Jonathan was running quite possibly as hard as he could at that moment and I let that propel my forward letting out even more than I thought I had. I still didn't hurt, so I gave more. Mile 22-6:16. Mile 23-6:14. Mile 24-6:04. I was flying at this point, passing other racers like they were standing still, offering them not even a chance to respond or hang on. Mile 25-5:43. "Holy crap" I exclaimed. "We just ran a 5:43 mile in my freaking 25th mile". Jonathan beamed. I knew I was going to do it. I knew I was going to realize my dream of making the Olympic trials. I knew that I could push and push and enjoy every last soggy, cold, windy step of this race.

Thanks @zkiraly for the screen shot!

We made the turn onto Ocean avenue with just under a mile to go. I just kept pressing, now against the most intense wind I had felt all day. I could see the finish line. I knew the crowd would have no idea how important this was to me as I soldiered into the wind, all alone now (as Jonathan had to jump out of the final section as to avoid the shoots). It was my moment, I was all by myself facing down the finish line. I was the first woman in the open field and I would be the only woman from the open field to make the Olympic Trials. I pushed back against the wind with a final 1.2 miles in a blistering 5:42 pace. I crossed the finish line in 2:43:28. I thrust my hands in the air victorious. You might have thought I'd just won the race I was so excited. But I won my race. Peter Abraham was there and raced over to me to congratulate me and told the finish line emcee that I had just made the Olympic Trials and that I was the first woman from the open field (I think they thought I was just the last woman in the elite field). The emcee got back on the mic and excitedly told the crowd who I was and what I had just accomplished. I was interviewed for the news and wrapped in a heat blanket. I finally realized how cold and wet I was. I was soaked. But I was riding high. I felt like I just wanted to keep on going forever I was having so much fun.


Cool race info from Runpix.com. This is where I stood in the overall field,
excluding the women's elite race. My favorite stat was that in the final 4.5 miles I chicked 9 guys. I also like that it says "for the record, you were ahead of about 100% of the guys".


02:43:28
DistanceMAR
Clock Time02:43:32
Chip Time02:43:28
Overall Place44 / 19761
Gender Place10 / 7768
Division Place5 / 1205
Age Grade82.8%
Pace6:14.2
10K0:39:21
15K0:58:41
20K1:18:18
25K1:37:39
30K1:57:19
35K2:16:53
40K2:35:40



Wow. What an experience. It was a "Devon day". It was my day. And not just because I made my goal, but even more so because I did it with the same smile on my face that I started the day with. I ran happy, I ran without expectations. I simply ran the way I love to run. After Houston, I left a little lost,  felt a little void in my running self, felt a little question mark hanging over me. I just felt like I wanted it all (achieving my goal) to be over. After LA,  I was overwhelm with relief. It is exciting to achieve your goals, but it is also a great relief when you have pursued it hard after a failure. I feel invigorated, I feel excited, I feel absolutely renewed. I feel totally in love with running again. I couldn't have asked for a better experience. I am beaming and for once, I am going to take the time to bask in my accomplishment to let that feeling wash over me. It is deep and satisfying to achieve a goal, no matter what that goal is. It is a rare and genuine gift. I fully intend to take my time savoring it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nutrition Navigation: Taper Week

Welcome to my new series: Nutrition Navigation. The idea behind the series is part of the vision behind the cookbook I am working on, that is, bridging nutritional knowledge/needs and great food. In this series, I will focus on specific training periods or training needs (like peak training or post-long run), on a specific nutrient (like Vitamin D) or a specific food (like Kale) and show you how that translates into real, healthy, gourmet meals. Often times that means I will provide a snapshot of a days worth of meals or a collection of ideas, recipes or methods. Have questions or want to see something specific covered. Email me with your special requests! Please note, I am NOT a registered dietitian and these views reflect only what have worked for me as a runner and personal chef.


I am nearly all the way through my second big taper of the year (already!) and thought to myself, this would be a great time to launch that series I've been meaning to do on my blog. After all, taper is the time when most people are thinking, what the heck should I eat? For me, leading up to the race, I have a few simple "rules" to guide me as I make my daily food choices:

  1. Don't introduce or reintroduce anything new. Through much of my training, I have been following a very specific diet to help support my peak training as well as navigate around all of my various stomach issues and intolerances. 
  2. Keep it simple. Keep it consistent. What has worked for me through my peak training should continue to work for me through taper, although my daily needs are lower, I am eating the same foods I was during training. For me, this means that my diet for most of my taper is still 40/30/30. That is 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. I often feel like taper week is a "best of" from the various training meals I have enjoyed. I eat a normal healthy diet.
  3. Don't be restrictive but remember you are running a lot less. In peak training, I can be doing upwards of 120-140 miles per week which means I am taking in a huge amount of fuel during those times. During taper, my appetite may still be revved up but I am burning less calories. Find a happy balance between being satisfied and tapering your calories in accordance with your miles. You want to make sure you are fueling for your race and that means eating good fuel and eating often. Remember this shouldn't be a restrictive thing because if you keep in mind #1 and #2 you should have nothing to worry about.
  4. Carb up, without a depletion phase, in the last 3 days. Science has shown that you don't need to precede a carb loading phase with depletion. That means I eat my normal healthy diet Monday to Thursday and then start up'ing my carbs and lowering my fat and protein on Thursday to start powering up.
  5. Don't overthink it. There is no universal right answer of what to eat. Some people have iron clad stomachs and some people are hyper-sensitive. Look at what has worked for you and model after your own best practice.
What works for me:

I personally learn from examples. Even though I can understand a list (like above) or a set of instructions, often times I am able to synthesize it best by viewing an example. I thought for this series, I would include an example of what a typical taper week day of meals looked like.

Breakfast:
Throughout my training, I have developed the habit of having gluten free oats virtually every single morning. In fact, it is a rare day that I do not. Thus, during taper, I keep the habit alive. I believe in eating a hearty breakfast and setting myself up right. 


My favorite method of making oats is prepping them the night before, so when I return from my morning run, a warm creamy bowl of oats is only minutes away. I call this "modified overnight oats". Overnight oats are by far not an original creation, but since I like my oats hot, I don't just eat them out of the fridge.

Before I go to bed, I combine in a large jar:
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • teaspoon chia seeds
I put all the ingredients into the jar, seal tightly, give a little shake to combine and throw into the fridge.

In the morning when I return from my run, I take the jar of oats add 1/2 cup more water and pop into a small pan. I heat over medium heat, until it starts to bubble. When this happens, I take a whole banana, peel in and using my fingers, pinch of pieces and mix them into the oats. Once the banana is added, I stir frequently for 2-3 minutes, breaking up the banana further with a spoon. After 2-3 minutes, the mixture will have started to become thick and creamy. I turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup of liquid egg whites to get some good protein in there. 1/2 cup of egg whites has 12 grams of protein and only 60 calories. You get great bang for your buck on that and plus, they really make the oats smooth. I pour the oats into a bowl and top with two tbsp of nut butter. This morning I was enjoying some homemade roasted cashew and almond butter. The nut butter is key as it gives you some good fat and will keep you satisfied for a few hours. 



Lunch #1 and Lunch #2:


I eat two lunches during my training and therefore I eat two lunches during my taper. I use to only eat one giant lunch in the middle of the day but that left me feeling way too full for a while and then starving by dinner time. Now, I eat two moderately large lunches broke up by 3 hours. I like it way better than normal snacking. Typically my lunch #1 and lunch #2 are going to be a permutation of the same ingredients. Today, we went to the farmer's market before lunch so I was able to pick up some beautiful greens, kale and broccoli to highlight in my lunch.

I love salad and feel very incomplete without them on a daily basis. Ditto on the vegetables. Some might say it is too much fiber, but my body likes it, but I wouldn't recommend you take on salads in your taper week if you haven't been eating them in abundance in training. 

Each salad included:
  • Mixed Greens
  • Kale massaged with 1 tbsp of Udo's DHA Blend oil.
  • 1/2 cooked sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted broccoli (lightly sprayed with oil, roasted for 10-15 mins in a 450 oven).
  • Mustard and Apple cider vinegar
Kale getting a massage

Salad #1 awaiting broccoli

Homemade grape kombucha on the side

Salad #2, three hours later with a glass of Nuun.

Clearly, I am like an elephant and like to eat my own weight in broccoli and leafy greens. In training and in taper, I actually have to think about ensuring that I have a good carb source (sweet potato), protein (hard boiled eggs) and fat (Udo's oil) to make sure I am getting enough in these salads. 

Dinner:

The Baker and I, over the past few months, have been pre-planning all of our dinners. We sit down together and figure out what we are going to have for dinner each night of the week and build a grocery list accordingly (I am going to be launching a series of blog posts called BYOPC- Be your own personal chef to highlight our menus and plans). Thus, it is easy for me as dinner time nears to execute our plan and not have to ask the question "whats for dinner". 

During taper week in our house, the taperer gets to lead the menu planning because of some of the aforementioned bullet points. For me, that means eating lots of veggies, sweet potatoes and potatoes and some lean meat.  Tonights dinner was a buffalo and veggie stir fry with sweet potato (for me) and rice (for the Baker) included:
  • ground buffalo
  • bok choy
  • red cabbage
  • carrot
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • gluten free tamari
  • roasted red chili paste
  • coconut oil
  • scallions
  • peanuts for garnish
  • sweet potato for me, coconut rice for the Baker

It was a pretty simple stir-fry. I heated a tbsp of coconut oil in a large pan and then put 1/2 of the garlic and ginger in the pan, cooking it for less than 30 seconds before adding the buffalo. I let that brown for a minute, added a couple teaspoons of roasted red chili paste, and cooked for another few minutes. I added a splash of tamari and then removed the pan from heat and put the buffalo in a bowl. I added a tbsp of coconut oil to the pan (since buffalo is so lean there was no fat left) and cooked the vegetables with the remaining garlic and ginger, which I had shredded into the same size (carrot, cabbage, red bell pepper and white parts of the bok choy. I added another splash of tamari, added the bok choy green parts and let that cook until the vegetables started to get tender. I added the buffalo back, tossed it all together and served. I served mine onto my sweet potato and Nathan's onto the reheated rice, topped with scallions and a scant tbsp of peanuts. Delicious!


As I said, these eats worked for me. It was a pretty easy running day and I felt sustained throughout the day. I really, really enjoyed all my eats today and feel like I successful married my nutritional needs with my desire to eat incredibly delicious food. Taper week nutrition couldn't be easier. Stick with what you know, stick with what you like and don't do anything new!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Minimus Maximus

Nathan cruising in to the Finish of Napa Valley Marathon in 3rd place, 2:33:07

This past weekend I witnessed something awesome, something inspiring and something that made me think. On Sunday, I was up at the Napa Valley Marathon cheering on The Baker as he raced his first marathon since October 2009. This was a race he had been really training hard for, at the expense on time on the trails which is really saying something, and was seeing what he could really do if he specifically trained for the marathon. I set him up with a training schedule and a set of paces to workout at. His key runs were based off of a 2:35 marathon time pace chart and routinely in his track workouts he was well ahead of his splits. This pace was also well ahead of his 2:43:xx PR but was also the first time he had actually trained for a marathon since starting ultrarunning. This time, it wasn't a marathon followed by a 24 hour race or some such deal. He seemed primed and ready according to the workouts he was clocking. A few times on long runs our paths would intersect but he would leave me in the dust like I was clocking a 9 minute mile instead of a low 6 which I was actually running at. He would say his workouts were "ok" or "not bad" but I never got the sense that he was really confident in his training (admittedly it was a short training schedule with a hard load, not exactly confidence inspiring, but nonetheless).

When we headed up to Napa on Sunday in the dreary rain, I was not sure how he was feeling. He didn't seem nervous or excited, just his usual more stoic self. I flashed back to Burning River 100 miler last summer where his sister Kristin and I had to kick him out of the car practically and wondered if I would have to do the same in order to entice him out in the rain. But he hopped out of the car and off he went. I went on my own run, met Brett and Larissa for coffee and then headed out to mile 8.5 to wait and cheer.

I can't say I am surprised by what I witnessed. Nathan came cruising along, smiling and being goofy with the little crowd at the bridge there. He was flying, zooming past us less than 49 minutes into the race. In fact, I think it was less that 48. We zoomed to our next appointed spot, mile 18.5 where we barely had to wait for him (especially since I went WAY past where we needed to turn). Again, he came up smiling and being goofy and moving seriously fast. He was not slowing down and I hastened to make it to the finish line to cheer him in. 

It was like crewing for an ultra on hyperspeed. The race was over before my hair was even dry from running at 5am in the rain. He zoomed into the finish line in 3rd place having consistently moved up through the race and PR'd majorly running 2:33:07. It was astonishing. He smiled the whole way and while the first thing he said was something like, "I am so happy I get to go back to the trails now", I don't think he spent the whole race or all of his training miserable and suffering. He did what he loved: he just ran. It was beautiful to watch.

Admittedly, watching his race made me feel a whole host of things: pride, happiness, love, joy as well as some mixed emotions. The mixed emotions are a product of my experience at Houston. Watching Nathan, I said to myself, I want to have a day like that. Not just a day where I run seriously fast, but a day in which I don't spend the entire race fighting with something whether physical or emotional. I had been hoping that Houston was going to be my day but it was quite the opposite. It was a lesson teacher, an equalizer and has made me think a great deal about where my head is and will be leading up to LA next week.

Nathan's run was inspiring to me because it reflected something that I DIDN'T have going into Houston. Nathan didn't have any expectations ostensibly, he just went and said, I'll see the day I have, hope its good. At Houston, I had great expectations. My training had been going good, I had been running fast and Strands kept telling me I could run a 2:42 marathon. I felt like I was ready to run well under the standard. I felt that despite getting sick race week and having stomach issues the day before the race that come race morning, everything would suddenly feel easy. 


Though I hadn't raced a road marathon in a while, I can remember the feeling of starting CIM back in 2008 and thinking for mile after mile after mile "wow this feels easy". I built up this expectation that come race day things would click and I would have a "Devon Day". I think this expectation even a more diluted simmering under the surface version of itself was hugely detrimental. When the going got tough when I didn't think it should be, it mentally screwed me. I became hugely reactive in that race. I recently read a great article called "Why You Should Expect the Worst", which basically summed up my experiences at my best and worst races. At my best races, I came in genuinely uncertain about what the day would hold for me. I usually had diminished expectations for one reason or another. I always felt a comfortable uncertainty, I relinquished my control over what would happen and hoped for the best. I genuinely didn't expect a thing and was prepared for the possible outcomes. At Houston I wasn't. I wasn't prepared to navigate a bad day, I was not okay with any outcome other than meeting the standard. Ultimately, I derived very little pleasure out of running my second fastest marathon ever and my fastest in more than 2 years. Matt Fitzgerald writes: 


Sports psychology as it is commonly practiced is a form of positive psychology, based on happy talk and can-do spirit. That stuff has its place, but widely recommended techniques such as visualizing yourself performing perfectly in races and feeling supremely awesome while doing it may actually hinder performance instead of helping it, because they may send you into races with unrealistic expectations. Going into races with confidence in your ability to achieve your goals is a good thing, because true confidence is inherently realistic. But going into races expecting to feel any better than wretched in pursuit of maximum performance is a form of self-sabotage. Expect every race to hurt like hell and you will race better.- Matt Fitzgerald "Why You Should Expect the Worst"


On Sunday, I was excited to watch Nathan run the race he was prepared to run. He was fit, he had prepared well, he didn't come with any predetermined idea of how things were going to go. He just ran. He smiled, he enjoyed, he challenged himself. Reflecting upon watching him and looking forwards towards my own race I am faced with those whirling set of mixed emotions that came about from watching such an inspiring race. I was faced with the reality that I have lost a great deal of confidence after Houston. I am faced with the reality of struggling with keeping up the same intensity of austere living, though by most standards I am still a monk (or ninja). I am struggling with the toll of so much hard training and so little downtime. I actually understand what it means to consider that I might not reach my goal. I have finally minimized and destroy my expectations. I've maximized view to be okay with a whole host of outcomes. I have finally gotten back to believing one of my mottos from one of my favorite authors, Dan Millman: "No Resistance, No Stress".


Think about it: when we have expectations, and things don’t go the way we expect (which happens quite often, as we’re not good prognosticators), we are disappointed, frustrated. It’s our expectations that force us to judge whether something is good or bad.Leo Babauta "The Elements of Living Lightly".


As I sit here, tapering away, thinking towards race day, I am thinking about last Sunday. I am holding the image of Nathan's joyous smile as he clipped along. Ultimately, at this point, what happens on race day will happen. I have done the work, I have fueled and slept, run hard and easy, stretched and sat in ice baths.  And now, I just have to do my best to be present, take it as it comes and most importantly, enjoy the hell out of the ride. Race day is a celebration of all that has come before it. It is the ultimate practice in being present and frankly the only thing that can truly disappointment me on that day is if I forget that.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Boundaries

Road trip, South Africa 2003. Going outside of my boundaries and outside of myself.

When I was little, I loved to be outdoors much like I do now. My sister and I spent a lot of time playing, running, riding, swinging and exploring on Capitol Hill where we grew up. In order to keep us safe, my mom gave us boundaries. These boundaries were physical locations, streets that we could not cross, but we were free to roam about within those bounds. They changed the older we got but I found that even when I earned another street or my territory expanded, my go-to locations stayed the same and I found a great deal of comfort in routine. When I deviated, I always felt like a rebel, even if I was still within those boundaries and no rules were being broken.

As I grew up, I didn't realize it but I internalized this framework. I developed boundaries for myself, safe routes, territory in which I was comfortable in. In high school, the boundaries were distance and the territory large, so I never really even noticed them. But looking back now, I can see them. Looking through all of my journeys and all of the places I have lived, I see now that it has been part of my strategy, part of how I frame a place, it is an instant framework that I setup whenever I arrive in a new location. 

Examining it now, I can clearly see this play out. I have somehow managed to be bold and adventurous but at the same time somehow managed to instill boundaries wherever I land. It has been an amazing coping mechanism to get myself oriented and settled wherever I have gone. I can be very spontaneous yes, but subconsciously, I think I am more a creature of habit than I ever real imagined. I can remember living in South Africa and a few of us deciding to go on a road trip to 4 different countries. We had a rental van and a map and I remember being reluctant to go because we had no plan, we had no route, we had no boundaries. I went and it was one of the best times of my life, but I can see now how my subconscious is ordered when it comes to adventure and spontaneity.  

Nothing better in life than exploring new routes and trails with friends.

Looking back it is amazingly evident to me, though I never really thought about it. When I lived in Fresno, South Africa, Pittsburgh, London, Atlanta and when I first moved to San Francisco, my first order of business was develop standard routes to the places I needed to go. I always felt better once I knew exactly how to get to the grocery store or pharmacy or my favorite place to eat. In running it seems even more evident. I am a route girl. I find a route and I set my boundaries and I develop permutations of the route to suit my distance needs. Deviating from those routes always makes me feel like I am on an adventure or being a rebel even if I am not one. 

It is very easy for me to become a creature of habit. I come by that honestly. When a lot of things in life are up in the air and I feel like I am really going outside of myself to do something hard and new and different (starting my own business and writing a cookbook), familiarity is my equilibrium. The boundaries give me comfort. Or so says my subconscious. A few days ago, I set out for a run and realized that perhaps the boundaries, the routes I was limiting myself to were not in fact comforting me, but deadening my senses, allowing me to check out and zone out instead of being present. Its almost like I was sitting in front of the tv, shutting my mind down and allowing myself mindless time. And not in a good way. On that run, I decided to run a new route, I decided to be different. I didn't have a specific workout or speed to go at, so I was free to just explore. It was amazingly refreshing to come to a fork in the road and decide which way to go. I was present in the moment instead of somewhere else or nowhere at all. There is a time and place for routes but I realized that I need to be conscious of how I balance the two things. I think they have gotten out of balance more since I have been training for fast road marathons since the focus is more on paces, splits and miles than when I trail run. I have *less* of this problem when I am out on the trails though I see its presence too. I finished up my run and though it was not remarkable in any way, it felt liberating. Variety is the spice of life and I realize that I need to check myself and keep in balance. Boundaries are not inherently bad, but you have to find a healthy equilibrium between staying within them and pushing past them.

It's really hard to take a picture of yourself splayed out on the ground post long run.

This week I have also been wrestling with boundaries in my training. I am tired. As I mentioned last week, I have been pushing myself really hard and burning very close to the edge. I realized that I had never really stopped pushing the training since December when I started training for Houston. I haven't really taken a step back since then. I raced Houston, took a token light week and was back to it. In my head, I compartmentalized my training for Houston and for LA and didn't see the big picture. The big picture being that I have run well over 90 miles a week with 3 hard workouts a week continually for nearly 3 months. Leading up to Houston, the cycle was so short I never did a cutback week, there was never time. I was doing the same for LA. The only cutback weeks were the taper for Houston, and week following Houston. Not much of a cutback to race a marathon in 2:50. No wonder this week I felt like I just needed to not press into the 100 mile range. I needed to respect my own personal boundaries or likely I would fall to pieces before I was even to the start line. 

Yesterday, though it was not easy for me to convince myself to do so, I decided to take it really easy.  It became a relative rest day, running only once in the morning with Nathan who is tapering for tomorrow's Napa Valley Marathon. I knew I had a long run planned for today but it still took me nearly two full hours in the afternoon to talk myself out of a second run and I even had to text my sister to tell me not to run. My body was spent, my mind reluctant and my glute/hip thing was not happy. Hello, obvious much! I decided to opt for an ice bath and a concurrent cocktail instead. I have been living an austere yet strict life for the better part of  3 months trying to achieve my goals and really, sometimes you absolutely need to remind yourself that life is too short to be so serious and that being constantly rigid will drive you mad (and make you wander around in your running clothes for 2 hours while anxiously trying to decide if you should run or not).  Respecting your physical and mental boundaries in training is essential and as I sat there in my ice bath, sipping a cocktail, I realized I was doing way more for my training by NOT running, by not being rigid and ridiculous, by not pushing myself too hard and by not giving into neurotic behaviour. 

When I woke up this morning, I was ready to run. I felt refreshed, my leg wasn't bothering me and I was ready to push hard in my 2 hour long run. Since I hadn't been able to do my tempo run during the week, I decided to incorporate some hard tempo intervals into my long run. While last week, I worked on relaxing and not forcing myself to run every long run at or near marathon pace, this week I decided to really push my limits and push outside my boundaries. It was a perfect morning, shorts and t-shirt weather. Sunny and pretty still. I did an out and back into Sausalito. I hit around 6:30 pace to warm-up then once on the bridge started doing 2 mile repeats at 6 min/mile pace or faster with 1 mile recovery at long run pace (between 6:30-7:30). It was hard but it was awesome. There were moments when I just wanted to stop during the intervals and instead, I pushed harder, found the next gear. I went outside of myself and dug deep. I didn't limit myself, I just pushed and burned. My 4th and final interval, nearly 15 miles into my run I was able to clock back to back 5:50s. It felt really really good. 

In the end, I realize that boundaries can mean a lot of things and can exist concurrently. They can provide comfort and security, they can provide a way to navigate the world. They can be limiting or protecting. They can be respected and broken. And they can be all of these things all at once, existing in perfect harmony and balance, if we let it.

You may also enjoy:

Related Posts with Thumbnails