Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Race Food.

Day-before race lunch! No high carbs here.

After feeling so amazing during and then after my thirty days of whole-foods eating, I decided to continue following a Whole30-like diet in the weeks leading up to my 50K. Except for the occasional trip to Tuile bakery for gigantic cinnamon buns, I stuck with no gluten, no rice, no legumes, occasional dairy, and limited alcohol and sugar, especially during the week of my race.

And then Alice threw up on Monday. And I was in a hunger-pinch late Tuesday night and ate two slices of pizza.

I'm uncertain if it was Alice's sickness jumping into my gut or those slices of gluten-filled pizza but I felt so nauseous, bloated and food-aversed from Tuesday night until Friday morning. Meals that I normally would've gobbled down made my stomach turn at the thought of eating them. I even struggled to eat my beloved sweet potatoes!

And no, I am definitely not pregnant.

Fortunately my sickness passed and by the time we hit the road on Friday I felt like my old self again. And I decided not to follow the typical carbo-loading diet that most endurance athletes believe is necessary before a race and instead continued to eat a wide variety of vegetables, healthy fats and an array of meat to make up my pre-race meals.

Since road trip food barely resembles food at all, I planned a few easy-to-prepare meals and snacks to bring along with us. On Thursday I hard-boiled a few eggs, made stew beef in my slow cooker and then Lee barbecued a chicken, and some russet and sweet potatoes. On Friday morning I cooked a half package of bacon (using my favorite method: the oven!) and then we loaded the cooler full of our delicious makings along with a bag of spinach, a few avocados, apples, bananas, blueberries and strawberries, a container of my chocolate coconut almond/cashew butter, a tablespoon or two of coconut oil, a jar mixture of olive oil + balsamic, and a few mason jars of home-brewed kombucha.

The morning of my 50K, I woke up early to eat a hearty meal with enough time allowed so that I'd be able to run by 6:30AM. My race-day breakfast included a large portion of warmed stew beef over spinach with a few russet and sweet potatoes. As we drove to the starting area, I ate half of a banana with almond butter and a coffee with about a half tablespoon of coconut oil.

Instead of consuming typical endurance race food like energy gels and powdered electrolyte replacement, I opted to eat and drink real food during my 31-mile run. I filled my hydration vest with a few cans of pure coconut water and I brought along a few LARABARS and a baggie of homemade trail mix, which included Marcona almonds (roasted and seasoned with lemon pepper and salt) + raisins + a few pinches of kosher salt + 5 or 6 pieces of bacon.

It turns out that bacon is the perfect ultra-marathon food.

Out of the almost dozen marathons and now four ultra marathons that I have finished, this one was the first where at some point during the race I didn't feel sick to my stomach. Oftentimes after eating an energy gel or drinking a powdered electrolyte replacement drink or eating a handful of peanut M&Ms at an aid station, I'd feel nauseous and I've always believed that this was normal and that my body was just being pushed to its limit. I also remember having much more obvious swings in energy levels whereas this past Saturday, I felt consistent energy during my entire race.

And you know the feared state of bonking, which I have definitely experienced in all of my races before? I can honestly tell you that I did not bonk during the entire 31 miles of my race. Not even once.

I probably need to do a few more races while eating this way before I can definitively say whether or not it was a fluke or the food, but at this point, I am starting to believe it was the food.


And then I finished my race and ate this. Definitely not Whole30-approved.

Monday, April 21, 2014

50K Finisher.

Starting line! Marathoners, 50K-ers, & double marathoners. // Gorgeous single-track. // Inches of slippery mud.

I did it! I finished my 50K and I feel so proud. The race wasn't without challenges but overall I am happy with how I felt and with how my body performed over those 31 trail miles.

One of my toenails might disagree, though.

On Friday we dropped Alice off at Grandma Julie's around 11AM and headed southwest toward Grand Junction, CO. It was so nice to have a few hours of drivetime to talk, take in the scenery, and enjoy some time with each other and without Alice (sorry, love bug). Since I ate a very specific way leading up to my race, we packed snacks and a lunch so that we weren't stuck eating the terrible food available at truck stops, but more on what I ate and how felt during my run later in the week.

Saturday started early at 4:40AM and, after gathering my gear and a quick breakfast, we headed to Fruita, which was a 20 minute drive from our hotel. It had rained most of the night and a light drizzle was still falling when we arrived at the starting area but, according to the Apple weather app, it was supposed to clear up around 6:30AM, the start time of the race.

Nope. The Apple weather app was totally wrong. It drizzled and then dumped rain until well after 9AM.

Muddy trails & the Colorado River.

Usually I love running in the rain as the cooler temperatures and cloud cover are ideal for an ultra marathon. But, after hours and hours of rainfall, the mud that resulted made it impossible to run the majority of the course.

The three inches of mud on the trail had the consistency of sticky mashed potatoes. One woman I ran with for a few hours called it 'chocolate frosting.' Perfectly runnable sections of the trail (i.e. flats, rolling hills and downhill) were completely un-runnable as there was no traction, making falls inevitable. Since most of the trail hugged the edge of the mesa overlooking the Colorado River hundreds of feet below, a little fall could potentially be catastrophic. So we all walked. And walked. And then ran a few steps when we could. And then we walked some more.

I ran with a local woman for a few hours who often runs that trail and she told me she had never seen it in that condition before. She'd run that same trail just a week prior to our race and said it was bone-dry! She also said that she has done a handful of 50Ks with her average time around five and a half hours and she finished after me at over 7 hours.

Like I said, the trail was mostly un-runnable.

Around mile 24, though, after a few hours of sunshine, the trails had mostly dried and I was able to run the remainder of the race. I use the word 'run' loosely as my run resembled more of a shuffle after that many miles on my feet but to stay motivated to keep going, I repeated the same thing over and over to myself:

You can either suffer and walk or you can suffer and run. But one of those options only prolongs the suffering.

I finished my 50K in 6 hours and 50 minutes. My left hip flexor started to hurt at mile 9, I got stung by some sort of bug at mile 27, my sports bra left a ring of chafing around my rib cage, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose a toenail but, when I crossed the finish line, I was smiling.

And when a race volunteer asked how I enjoyed my race, I smiled and said, "I can't wait to do it again next year."

Weekend Workouts: Saturday - 31.1 miles/6:50/3,807 feet elev gain. Sunday - Um, rest day!

Views from the trail. // My finisher's medal & my very muddy feet. // Elevation profile!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Buying. Packing. Preparing.

Pile of gear. // Home-roasted Marcona almonds + LARABARS. // Hard-boiled eggs! Race day breakfast.

I spent my day buying, packing and preparing for my big race on Saturday and (obviously) left no time for blogging. So wish me luck! We leave in the morning for Grand Junction, CO (the race will be in Fruita).

And p.s., you can always follow along on Instagram to see how I'm doing!

Happy weekend! What are your plans?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Whenever Mama makes a cocktail, Alice insists on having one, too: Kombucha + Club Soda.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You'll be happy to hear that Alice's puke-fest yesterday morning was an isolated incident and it didn't affect anyone else in our house. I did spend the majority of the day, though, thinking, "Wait... do I feel nauseous?  Oh man. I think I'm sick!"  But nothing ever came of it so obviously it was all in my head.

With just a few days until we leave for the Trail Running Festival in Fruita, CO, I'm starting to finalize my packing list for my 50K. The list of what I need to bring is about the length of my arm so I won't bore you with the nitty-gritty but here are just a few of what I believe to be essential whenever I head out for any length of trail run.
  1. A lightweight and breathable hat is crucial to lessening sun exposure and keeping cool as the temperatures climb. And I always run with a bandana either around my neck to ward off the sun or tucked in a pocket to use as a bandage in case of a fall or to fill with ice to be used as a cooling device.
  2. It's no secret that I am a nerd for sunscreen. Choose a long-wearing sport variety that is water and sweat resistant and apply it liberally to your face, ears, neck and chest. I like to keep a chapstick with sunscreen in a reachable pocket for my lips, of course, but also for my ears and nose as a quick re-application. And if you've ever had chafing then you know how important Bodyglide can be. Never leave for a run without it.
  3. I've run with many a hydration pack and this one wins, hands down. The Nathan Sports Hydration Vests were designed by trail runners for trail runners and, after hours of wearing mine, my neck and shoulders aren't screaming from carrying a few liters of water over many miles. And those front pockets are perfect for storing chapstick, snack bars, and a cell phone (for shorter runs on trail or road, I love this little waist belt).
  4. Having run a few ultras before, you'd think I'd have my favorite sock-and-shoe combination figured out but this area of my training is still a work-in-progress. I did my 20-miler a few weeks ago in the Ironman Wigwam socks and the Altra Zero Drop Lone Pine trail shoes and came away with no blisters or lost toenails (!!). But we'll see what adding another 11.1 miles does to my feet. And to keep menacing dust and blister-inducing rocks out of my shoes, Dirty Girl Gaiters are the only way to go.
So there you have it! My must-haves for trail running. Anything you'd like to add to my list? Hurry up! Race day is rapidly approaching.

And who could forget the tragedy that happened on this day last year.... Boston forever strong.
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