Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In the Zone

Just got back from such a great trail run. It started out really odd in that I felt a little disconnected from my body. Maybe I was just light headed, I don't know, but I carried on. I focused on my breathing, my heart rate, and keeping a nice even pace. Then as I approached the longest climb of the run (it's only like 10 minutes) I got really deep in thought. So much so, it wasn't until I was at the top of the hill that I realized I had just run up the entire climb without noticing. It was effortless. There is even one steeper climb and I didn't even notice my breathing change. Maybe it didn't. Anywho, it tripped me out.

I am definitely a run thinker. I think of everything and anything when I run. The best part, I am unstoppable in my thoughts. I could be thinking of something so outlandish, but I am so confident while I am running, there is no reason in my head it can't happen. I remember thinking once that Global Television (Canadian TV network) would love to help me out in my traveling endeavors/expenses (because they must have so much money) and I should ask them for sponsorship. Of course I would make it worth their while by writing articles for them or something but it totally seemed legit in my head. Obviously I never followed through with that one when I stopped running and realized that may be a little far fetched. The moral of that story is: Running gives you confidence to take on the world, running makes you think, and running can take your mind off even the toughest climb of the day (hill or life).

I toe the line in Virginia in 9 days for Mountain Masochist. I hope each hill feels as effortless as the end of my run today.

See you in the trails!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tortilla Soup

Alright, I know this has become more of a running blog, but, there is way more I'd love to share with you all other than running. As an athlete, and I am sure most you can agree with me, I love to eat. When you eat as much as an ultra runner, you need to find ways to keep it interesting. Luckily, I have a lot of patience and do not mind cooking myself great meals, even if they are just for 2 or sometimes 1.

I first had this soup at a friends house a few months ago. The recipe comes from an amazing vegan cook-book called Rebar, a restaurant based out of Victoria, B.C. As neither of the couples that night are Vegan, they added chicken to the soup. I did it a little different and added shrimp instead. Although I enjoyed both variations, i find the shrimp a little bit easier, as you simply just add it to the soup at the end.

Tortilla Soup w/ avocado, corn, and asiago

Serves 8 (you can cut the recipe in 1/2 to serve 4, but if you make a lot, you can freeze it for a rainy day!)

8 cups vegetable stock (I have used chicken and it tasted great)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, finely diced
1 tbsp salt
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced oregano
4 jalepeno peppers, seeded and minced
3 cups corn kernals, fresh or frozen (I used canned)
2 large red peppers, seeded and finely diced
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (I didn't use this but if you have it, go for it)
2 tsp chipotle puree
*** Puree contents of 1 7oz (198g) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Now, I was a bit lazy and just added some hot chili sauce, which gave it a nice kick)
4 corn tortilla's, yellow or blue (make sure you get real CORN tortilla's)
2 avacado's, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, stemmed
asiago cheese, shaved with a potato peeler (I grated aged white cheddar instead, as I had it in the fridge)
1 lime, cut into thin wedges
*** Prawns, peeled (optional)

1. Heat the stock and keep it warm on the back burner while preparing the soup. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat oil, over medium heat. Add onion and 1 tsp salt and saute until translucent. Stir in garlic, oregano, half of the minced jalapenos and another 1 tsp salt; saute 5 minutes.

2. Pour the hot stock into the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer 20 minutes. In the final 5 minutes, stir in the corn, red peppers, remaining jalapenos, the remaining salt, liquid smoke, and chipotle puree. Simmer until the corn is tender. Meanwhile, prepare the garnishes and season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. ***If you want to add prawns, do this at the very end, until cooked.

3. To make tortilla strips, slice each tortilla into long strips 1/4" thick. Toss gently with a light coating of oil, a pinch of salt and chile powder (optional). Spread the strips out on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree F oven until crisp (5 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool until ready to serve.

4. To serve, ladle the broth into bowls and divide the diced avocado, cilantro leaves, asiago shavings among the servings. Arrange 8 tortilla strips in a teepee in the center of each bowl. Serve immediately with a bowl of lime wedges on the side.

I hope you have as much as I did making this soup and even more fun eating it. It really is yummy and it was hard to say no to seconds (which I didn't of course!).

Now, go running and get cookin'!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An over-competetive pre-sweeper

Today was the Hallows Eve 1/2 marathon and 10km. I first did this race 2 years ago and boy was it tough. There is a shit load of stairs and lot's of climbing with some pretty rewarding downhill and flat sections to recover. My boyfriend Peter is the race director and I helped him out by pre-sweeping the race course with my friend John Foy. A pre-sweep essentially just runs the course before the race starts and ensures all the flagging is still in it's place. People who walk the trails regularly sometimes do not take kindly to random objects thrown into "their" forest. Last year, I swept the course after the race had finished, so I thought it would be nice to change it up.

We set out around 7:30am. It was a beautiful crisp morning and I was happy to be running as the sun came out. I was glad to see that all the flagging had remained in place, making our run that much more enjoyable. After 90 minutes John met up with his girlfriend and her daughter and we parted ways, and I finished up the last section solo. As I came into the Gazebo aid station I saw a few familiar faces. The Mountain Madness gang were all dressed up as Pirates. They looked awesome! Tom Skinner was also there dawning a girl's costume with red head pigtails and all. I saw the first 10km runner come through and it was my friend Dylan Gant. I got excited and decided to run with him, which lasted about 10 seconds. Not to far behind was the 2nd place male. He came 2nd last week at Around the Lake Giv'r Take 30km. I saw 2 other speedy 10km runners and I cheered them on as they passed swiftly. I was now running back to the start/finish, which is the same trail you run along for about 5km when you start. There were at least 50 10km runners dressed up in their creative Halloween costumes. I cheered them on as they worked their butts off coming up the stairs. I saw many familiar faces from Innovative Fitness, knee knacker runs, mountain madness trail clinics, and the local trail community scene.

I finally made it to the top of Baden Powell before the flats (diamond trail) going back to the finish. Mike Hilleger always volunteers there, so I took a little break and chatted with him. A few more male 10k'ers passed. Then I saw the first female coming up the climb. I politely told Mike I had to go and set out for a random little tempo run back to the finish. My competitive nature kicked in and I wanted to see if I could hold her off. Yes, she had just been working her butt off for 7km, and I am sure her HR was through the roof but I had been out there for 2 hrs 15 min and had done 18 km. Ok, so maybe that was a slow 2:15/ 18km but whatever. So I take off and catch up to this guy dressed as a girl, wearing Lulu lemon pants and a tank top. It was hot. He was keeping a good pace and I was only barely closing the gap. I thought this would be good speed work in prep for mountain masochist, although I hope I don't have to run this fast there. Volunteers kept telling me I was the first woman, and I felt pretty bad and had to keep saying I was "just the sweep". We were coming into the final stretch and everyone is cheering and the announcer says "here is the first woman coming into the finish". I know the announcer quite well and had to go back and explain myself, telling him I am not racing, I am just an "over competitive pre-sweeper". All in all, I really enjoyed the run and seeing all those familiar faces. The running community on the North Shore is an amazing group of people and I am glad to be apart of it.

Thanks to Peter for putting on the race. I saw first hand how much time he put into this event. For the last week, he has left the house after dinner to go back to work, spending hours on the last minute details of the race. I reminded him yesterday that all his hard work will pay off and tomorrow it will all be over and his email inbox will be filled with wonderful race comments from participants.

This week has been pretty random. I took 1 day off after my race last Sunday, doing nothing but a light Hatha yoga class. Tuesday I did a flow Yoga class at YYoga and I lead a running clinic through some downhill eccentric (quad muscle lengthening) repeats but took them easy letting everyone else do the work (hey, I was recovering)! Wednesday I went for a run and felt good so I went for 2 hours. These days, I never know if I'm going to feel good or tired. I thought to myself, if I feel good, go longer because tomorrow I could feel the opposite. On Thursday however I had this little ache behind my knee cap. I thought something might have been bugging my hamstring tendon but was unsure of what was really going on. I decided to take a day off and rest it. Friday, I set out for a nice long hill run but 12 minutes in realized it just wasn't going to happen today. My "knee pit" (that is what I call the back of my knee) was bugging me again and I just knew running on it would irritate it even more.

I went to see a Chiropractor by the name of Paul Wiggins. This guy is unreal and every time I go see him I am amazed at his knowledge and understanding of the human body. I don't go to him for adjustments, I see him for his impeccable ART skills. ART is a technique whereby a trained physician massages out an area as they lengthen the muscle, moving it through an active range of motion. It's very specific and highly effective. He identified that it was actually the head of my gastrocnemius
(A.K.A- Calf) muscle that was very tight. He worked it out through ART and I left feeling pretty good. I almost forgot, he also did one more thing. I had this clicking in my knee pit whenever I fully straightened my left leg. It doesn't hurt and so I never really thought to ever get it looked at. I mentioned it to him and he fiddled around back there and presto, the clicking was gone. I went to a hot yoga class that night and I left feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the weekend. The next day I went for a 2hr 20minute run pain free. There was absolutely no pain or discomfort in my calf. It was the best $40 I ever spent.

2 more weeks until Mountain Masochist. I can't wait! I feel good and ready to rock.
I am hoping I feel like this at the finish!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Around the Lake Giv'r Take 30km Race Report

At last! A race report I am super excited to write about. I can honestly say, I haven't felt this good about a race since Iron Knee (late May). With my injury taking me out for 2 months of the summer, this is the first time in a long while I felt like I was fit enough, to go out and give everything I had. I was able to execute all the things I have been practicing over the last couple of months in training. And, I was finally able to have fun again pushing my ass to it's limits. All the hard work has paid off. I was third overall and I set a new woman's course record by 6 minutes and took 8 minutes off of my own time from last year. All this considering the conditions out there were less than favorable. It rained like hell and the mud was horrendous...but SO MUCH FUN!

Even though this race is not an 'A' race of mine, I came into today knowing I was going out there to give it all I had. In the days leading up to it I kind of threw out to Pete that I should probably just tempo it because Mountain Masochist 50 miler is in 3 weeks. I had already ran 5 hours in the 3 days leading up to this event. I really wanted to do this race so I could test out my fitness. As I had done the race last year, I had something to gauge my fitness from. Last year however, I walked a lot of the uphills. That is something I have been trying to avoid ever since I realized how inefficient power hiking is for me to do. Today, I pretty much ran everything. There were only a few moments where I put my head down, had my hands on my knees, and had to grunt it up the hill. I even ran the steepest of hills today, something I would have never even thought about doing a year ago!

The race begins by circling some flat road and rounding out back along through the start/finish area at Cultus Lake. Immediately thereafter, we start the first climb of the day. This hill goes up relentlessly for about 4 km. There are a few breaks in the hill but only enough to let you catch your breath before heading straight back up. I am pretty sure my heart rate reached 187 on this part. That would be my max! Even though everyone around me was power hiking, I just wanted to see what would happen if I ran. My breathing was under control and the legs were only slightly starting to burn but not fatigue. I think I was in 8th place or so before we hit our first downhill.

Hallelujah!!!!!!! A chance to recover!!!!!!! WOOOHOOOOO!!!!! I immediately passed 2 guys I had been working so hard up that hill with. They ran with me for the next 10 or so minutes and then I never saw them again. I passed one more along this downhill. It was super muddy and you were slip sliding everywhere. Its not a very wide trail and there is pretty much a mini ditch smack dab in the middle. You either have to run in the ditch or pick a side. Going to the outside was a tough call because it was so muddy, you risked sliding right off down the hill. I did a combo but ran a lot in the middle. There were puddles everywhere and I just prayed that when I stepped in one, I wouldn't roll and ankle from hitting a hidden rock. Thankfully, nothing happened, just 2 very wet feet. The downhill I must say is my favorite part of this race. You get to go down for quite a while. The trail has lot's of turns and keeps you well engaged throughout. The trail levels out and widens before going down once more. I passed 2 more guys on this section and was feeling amazing. Eventually it spits you out onto this big open field of grass. It was here that I saw Matt Sessions. I don't know why I have such a hit out for this guy. We have raced each other a few times now and he has become a good racing acquaintance. He has beat me a bunch of times and I have beat him as well. It's always close and it's usually not until the very end of races that I catch him. He's always motivating me (secretly in my head) to finish strong.

He was holding a great pace going back into the tree's. Shortly after, the trail spits you out onto the road. You run down a hill, flats, and then uphill until the 1/2 way aid station at 15km. I couldn't catch him on the road section. We were pretty much running the same speed so I wasn't able to get an inch on him. Once we started up the hill, he was gone and I wouldn't see him for a while. Meanwhile, I had a guy in a blue shirt chasing me down which kept me focused. I blazed through the aid station without stopping because I had a camelbak full of water, enough to last me the entire race. I also had gels stuffed in my shorts pocket, glove, and bra.

This next section is very hilly. You climb up some switchbacks for a while, descend slightly and then undulate for quite some time. There is enough overall descending to recover and the undulations make for some good running. The terrain was making me work. The guy in the blue shirt caught back up to me on one of the ascents and we continued to go back and forth a few times. I was trying to keep up to him on the hills and he was making me work to keep up. There no doubt about it, I was pushing myself. Sometimes when your alone in ultra's, it's hard to push yourself beyond your limits. I was thankful he was there, even though he was kicking my butt.

I eventually passed him again on the down and then we started up our last climb of the day. Thinking back from last year, I really couldn't remember how long this hill was. We climbed for a bit and then these motivational signs popped up. Although they served as a good distraction, there was one that said "you are almost at the top". I turned to the guy in blue, who had passed me again at this point, and said "I really hope they're not lying". Every switch back we crested I kept wondering if it was the last one. The sign said we were almost done, so this has got to be it. I don't think we reached the top for about 10-15 minutes after that damn sign. Whoever wrote it, should have put it a hell of a lot higher up the hill!!!!! Sorry, I'll stop whining now. We finally got to the top and blue was out of sight. I ran as hard as I could to catch him and I finally saw him up ahead. It took me a while to get to him as I am sure he wanted to stay ahead of me. By the time I had caught up to him, he had caught up to Matt Sessions. It wasn't long before I passed them both with only had 3km to go.

The trails spit you out one more time. I was now in 3rd place and really wanted to keep it that way. I had Matt and Blue behind me and was running scared. I ran along the road one more time and Peter was there and told me I was on pace for a C.R. I really didn't care at that point and just wanted the race to be over. The road section was short and before long I was on my last km along the beach at Cultus Lake. I kept looking behind me to see if Matt was on my tail but for the majority there was no one. I tried to run as fast as I could. That last km seemed to take forever but the finish line came into sight and I was done. I finished in 2:29!!!

I was really happy with my finish. I gave it my all and that is all I could ask for. I pretty much ran every single hill and that was my main goal coming into today. I congratulated Matt and Blue for pushing me up those hills and quickly jumped in the Lake to soak the legs.

This race is awesome. I am surprised it doesn't draw more people. I think the rain kept a lot of people in bed today. The organization is great. They must have given out a hundred draw prizes and the overall winners receive handcrafted walking sticks. The food is amazing because they get all the volly's to bake. There is always homemade pie (and a plethora of other treats), meat and cheese platter, and soup/chili...YUM!

I must say, I really needed this day to happen before Mountain Masochist. I needed a solid hard effort day out on the trails and something to confirm my fitness. There is still 3 more weeks until the race and I am looking more forward to it than ever.

See you in the trails!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Holy Miserable Weather Batman

Ok, I'll admit it, the title of my post is a little on the lame side but I remember saying "Holy (insert random line here) Batman" as a kid all the time. My brother's influence of course!

This morning I woke up and checked the weather report on my laptop. To my surprise there is a rainfall warning for Greater Vancouver. This should make my weekend of running really interesting. I have planned on running Around the Lake Giv'r Take which is a 30km around Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, B.C. A few days ago the weather reported a measly 1mm of rain for Saturday. Today however, it's calling for 35-45mm for that same day. I immediately started to question this whole racing thing. Instead, I filled my thoughts with running in the local trails and how much more fun that would be. Then realized, no matter where I go, there is still going to be a Sh$t load of rain!

I can remember being a kid, running around and splish splashing through giant puddles. Nothing was better. And still, to me, nothing is better. I usually start off rainy runs, tip toeing around the puddles trying to avoid getting wet. Which is ironic because I am sure my feet are already wet from the rain pouring down from above. Eventually, I succumb to the puddle gods and that's when the run get's 100% more fun. Once their wet, their wet, there's no going back! I am left to speed through each wonderful puddle, not knowing how deep one is from the next. I am like a little kid, letting out a playful childlike scream every time I hit a deep soaker.

Having good gear helps to. My new favorite shoes are the La Sportiva Crosslites. They are made for handling well in the mud. With the warm temps here in Vancouver, there really hasn't been a whole lot of mud, so today I'll get to really test them out. The Mountain Hardware Quark Jacket is the greatest jacket for the rain. Not only is it breathable, it will keep you and your head (thanks to the hood) bone dry.

Alright time to go face the monsoon! See you in the trails.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The High's and Low's

Well, I must say, I am really looking forward to my taper, which I'll begin in 2 weeks!

I had an awesome week of training, with some high's and some low's. I did a fast Tempo run on the treadmill on Wednesday morning an hour before I had to train a client. It felt so good and there were points where I could hardly feel that my body was moving. I just felt like I was gliding. I couldn't say that about the 2 hour bike ride I went on with some friends later that afternoon.

Thursday was a nice easy 2 hour run out to Norvan Falls and back. It's a pretty flat run out to the 4km mark and then it's a slight incline to about 6km and eases off for the last 1.5km. The last 3.5km are fairly technical with lot's of rocks and roots. I came home last week saying to Peter "I can't beleive I ever thought the run out to Norvan was hilly". This week I walked in saying " When did Norvan get so hilly". Some days are good, some days not so good.

Friday was an easy run in the morning and then intervals later that afternoon. I haven't done intervals in a long time. It's not that I don't enjoy them, I think I just like going for runs better. If I had a group of friends who did intervals in the trails, I'd be all over it but going to the track, honestly, just isn't my thing. I want to WANT to run and track intervals make me NOT want to go run.

Saturday, Kerry Ward and I, ran the classic 3 bridge 23 miler. I used to do this run every year with North Shore Athletics when I used to train with their marathon clinic. Even though I am not training with the clinic anymore I still do this run annually. So, to switch things up, I went for a long road run. I left from my house, which made the run probably more like 26-28 miles. We went slow, it was the perfect day, and it was great to run all around Vancouver. Road running for 4 hours sucks a lot more out of you than 4 hours on the trails. I worked all Sunday morning and afternoon and set out for a run around 4pm. When I got to the trail head, I just didn't have the motivation to run. My legs felt hollow and just drained of energy. Instead, I turned my run into a nice 90 minute round trip hike up to Lynn Peak. Surprisingly, it wasn't much slower than when I try and really push it.

When I woke up on Monday to run, I was a bit nervous. I was just praying that a good dinner and good nights rest was enough to re-fill my legs with energy. I really wanted to run Haine's Valley and I wanted to get another 4 hours in on the trails. I had never done this run solo and it was nice being in the back country with me, myself, and I. Sometimes it's nice to go your own pace and be one with your own thoughts. I felt I was better able to connect with nature. The majority of the time, I do love going on this run with others. It's absolutely stunning and I love taking first timers out here. It's fun watching their mouths drop in awe at the beauty that is before them. I finished the run off with a chilly ice bath in the Lynn Headwaters. BRRRRRRR!!!

That night I got to celebrate thanksgiving with my Gilder family. My brother had us all over for dinner at his waterfront home in Lions Bay. We usually gather at my Aunt Julie's but her and her hubby were away in Edmonton. Thanks Matt for stepping up to the plate and to everyone for bringing such yummy and creative pumpkin pie. There is usually some sort of test of feat at our Gildersleeve family gatherings. Last year it was my brother's one legged squat and the year before my uncles 5 minute plank hold. My cousin told me she squatted my 230lb brother the other day. I decided that I had to test this out for myself. I told him to get on my back and attempt #1 didn't go as planned. Perhaps it was the 'kangaroo jump technique' he decided to use. Attempt # 2 was a bit better. I actually got him on my back in a stable position but there was no way in hell I was EVER going to squat down and back up. Nice work Leanna, I owe you a dinner!

Here is a little take home message and something I have just come to accept:

Sometimes it's disheartening when your body is run out of energy. When your run's feel more like a slog than a jog. But, just like ultra's, you are going to go through those high's and low's. I guess it's better to first experience them in training so you get to know the feeling and how to deal with it, both physically and mentally. If your body is tired for multiple days in a row, take a rest day. You won't lose fitness in that one day but you will feel a whole lot better in the days to come.

See you in the trails!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Better on Paper.

Thursday evening was a day of memories. I got to catch up with a couple good friends and do a lot of reminiscing. We talked about what each other has been up to, which for both of us was a lot. We talked about mutual friends, where they are, and what they are doing now. A little while later, we ended up talking about sticker books. Now, I can't beleive this, but I still have my sticker book which I started back in 2003. I have thrown out a lot of stuff over the years but I was never able to get rid of this thing. I collected stickers for years, fuzzies, oilies, and pretty much every sticker Starbucks has ever put out, on it the names of all their coffee's. That was a tradition of mine when my mom would take me there for a chocolate cookie and a hot chocolate.

This all of a sudden led me to bust out the 5 journals I have kept over the years. My dad bought me my first journal in 1992. He has always written in a journal. Mostly simple things like the weather, money spent that day, who he saw, what he ate, etc. I think there were years where he wrote more deep personal things but those journals are long gone. I can still remember sitting at the Deli in Horseshoe Bay writing my first journal entry. It was March 17th, 1992, "a Wednesday in the rain and fog". The funniest part of this entry is my horrible spelling, but for someone in Grade 2, it isn't that bad. Here are a few examples: unujiwol (unusual), amedyetly (immediately) Kot (caught), ate (eight), ea (a).

I kept writing all the way up until 2 years ago. I pretty much have my entire high school years documented in my journals. I have every poem I ever wrote inside (which isn't many) and they don't really make sense. Every once and a while I will go back and read them. It's interesting to see the thoughts and feelings that occur during those teen years. It's also interesting to see the random comments my mom would write in en entry she didn't approve of! Remember doing that mom? I know your reading this right now!

The amazing thing I have realized is that I never stopped writing. This blog I suppose is my new journal. And it's not just for me anymore, it's out there for the world. I love writing. I have always been way better at expressing myself on paper. I will continue to share my adventures, hardships, and success's on this blog.

I recently had an offer to write blogs for Elevate Me Organic energy bars. The owners would do it themselves but they do not enjoy that aspect of their business. So, they hired me to do it! Getting paid to do something you enjoy is really satisfying and truly is the best kind of work.

Last night I went over to Peter's sister, Kathleen's, house for Thanksgiving. I had the pleasure of giving thanks with his 2 sisters, both their families, and our good friend Mark Grist. We all went around and said what we were thankful for. Everyone said very nice things and me, not being good with words, said something about the pumpkin's she had grown in her garden for the pumpkin pie that we were going to eat. If I could of taken it back I would and would have said something along the lines of..."I am thankful for meeting Peter and getting introduced to his wonderful family, who host us for dinner on a near monthly basis. Thank you for letting me into your family". There you go Angela, that is what I am really thankful for! Not just the garden harvested pumpkin's that make the best pie in the world.

The dinner last night kept me well fueled on my 4 hour run today. I decided to mix it up and run on the road instead of the trails today. Sometimes it's nice to just go for a long road run. I had the company of my friend Kerry Ward. We did the classic 3 bridge run through Vancouver. It really was a stunning day. I swear 4 hours can go by in a flash on the trails but on the road, it feels like forever. Your legs tire that much faster and I swear you can go around the world in 4 hours!

Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving, except for those in the U.S, who have to wait a little bit longer!

See you in the trails!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Special Delivery!

I wanted to start this blog off by saying that I do not suffer from celiac disease and no I am not vegan. What I am though is someone who cares about my body and what I put in it (most of the time). Why do I say all this, because I just received in the mail a copy of the babycakes recipe book and you don't have to be any of those things to own it. I first heard about babycakes from an ultrarunner and blogger named Devon Crosby-Helms. She has a gluten intolerance and a huge passion for cooking. If you read her blog, you will see the name 'babycakes' all over it. Babycakes is a bakery based out of New York City that offers up Vegan, Gluten-Free, and mostly Sugar-Free goodies.

As someone who loves cooking and baking, I was especially interested. I have never owned a 'baking' book and I thought I would give this one a try.

My one guilty pleasure: I love watching The Biggest Loser. Call it a trainer's dream show. Yes, the show can be a little ridiculous at times, but simply, I love watching success stories. I was reading an article in a magazine about Jillian and she said something that really resonated with me. Here is the quote:

"I am not the girl who loves the gym. Wrong girl. And I'm not the one who loves broccoli, either. But I am the girl who feels potent, capable and confident when she feels strong, and I don't want to give that up. To me it's not about building a better body. It's about building a better life. And if your health is your platform for life, it's got to be rock solid. If you want to take on the world, you need a good foundation".

I, like Jillian, look at health as my platform for life. I am comfortable with myself when I am treating myself well. I am kinder and better able to give and receive love when I am feeling 100% about myself. When I was in high school I did not eat healthy. Part of me still feels like the kid I once was. It's a constant battle to make the right choices. Everyday we are faced with choices in health, and it's way harder to say no to something you know is going to taste damn good. That's not to say I never eat treats, because that would be a lie. I just choose not to indulge in large quantities every single day. That's the hard part I find about being an ultra runner sometimes. Because I run so much and burn so many calories, I feel that I have that leniency to eat whatever I want. And I probably could. But, I know from experience that I won't feel good about it. There are times when I have finished a long run and all I want is wings and beer, so I do. Sometimes I indulge and sometimes I don't. I am slowly starting to listen to the little voice that sits inside my head, that says "you don't really want that".

So, let's bring this back full circle. I bought this book because I love to bake. I don't however, like the crap ingredients that go into my own baking- butter, sugar, eggs (I have a food sensitivity to eggs) and white flour. I am a sucker for home baking. But, even when I bake cookies, part of me still doesn't feel good about what I have put inside these cute little bundles of joy. All of a sudden, here comes along a solution. A recipe book I can feel good about. Most of the ingredients are all natural and there is no white flower, refined sugar, butter, or eggs anywhere in this cookbook.

I am probably going to spend a fortune on all these new ingredients. But hell, if I am going to feel better about my health and myself, then it is worth every penny!

I'll keep you posted on my adventures in the kitchen and will post a few of my favorite one's once I get the baking ball rolling.

Until then, see you in the trails!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Epic!

I find it funny when I ask friends "what's new?" and the reply I get on the other end "nothing". I think the sport of ultra running keeps life pretty interesting. Something crazy is bound to happen when you spend hours upon hours in the trails. I naturally find myself traveling locally to new trails and that in itself is something 'new' and fun. I love exploring and I honestly never think about time when I am out discovering something I have never run before. I could be climbing the longest hill in the world but it never bothers me because I have no clue when it's going to end, so I just keep going.

This weekend, Tamsin, Roxy Robbins the wonder dog and I went to explore another section of the Secret Trails. I appologize for my secretiveness but soon enough it will all be out of the bag. We drove up Saturday night because Heather (who runs the Mountain Madness trail clinics) was putting us up in a Hotel. Herself and two other ladies, Lara and Amber, were going to do a 12km section and Tamsin and I were set to do 45km (or so we thought). We woke up Sunday morning, had breakfast and were dropped off at the start of our run. Heather lead us about a kilometer up the trail and sent us on our way. This single track trail was stunning and we followed a river for much of the first 13km. I love running and being able to hear the flow of river water. It has a very soothing and calming effect. The first 26km were pretty flat and it took us around 3 hours to finish up this section of trail. We then began the long ascent.

Days before the run, I had asked Peter if this run was going to be hilly. He didn't really say much but I had this feeling he was secretly snickering under his shirt, happy to not be running it himself. I was loving the uphill thus far as it was quite runnable. I have really tried to run every hill that comes my way, unless it is too steep to run efficiently. I must say, the more I practice running hills, the easier it becomes to maintain a steady pace and heart rate. We had probably been climbing for 20 minutes and we came upon a water source. I was almost out of water and Peter had told me to fill up around the 3 hour mark as there wasn't going to be any water sources once we got up high. I busted out the water filter and started pumping. After filling up both bags, we were on our way. Shortly after, we came across a hiker. He had been out on this trail for 2 days already and was on his way down and off the mountain. He had a big heavy bag that looked like it must have weighed a ton and I was very thankful to be traveling light today. He warned us of snow up ahead and said it was a foot deep in some spots. We kept trucking but this hill seemed to be never ending. After about 2 hours of steady uphill running we were kinda wondering when the hell we were going to reach the top! I seriously was in need of some downhill.

We finally hit snow, which I am surprised really didn't slow us any. We did have to put a few more layers on to warm up however. We both started to lose our motivation to run up this damn hill. We were now 6 hours into our run and still climbing. I had only brought enough food for 6 hours and was definitely worried once I had my last Gel, knowing we still had a lot more ground to cover. Thankfully, the views were phenomenal and the landscape kept our spirits high. The mountain peaks were all frosted with snow and the sun's rays were beautifully lighting up each peak. We were up pretty high now. We hadn't seen a sign in a long time and were nervous that we were still on the right track. We finally came across a sign that assured us we were in the right direction. We kept climbing, praying for the downhill to be in striking distance. Then, it happened. We had both run a race not to long ago out in this same area. I had this feeling we had to run a section of that race, which consisted of traversing up and over 5 mini peaks. Each peak had a steep ascent(10 minutes)followed by an unsatisfying descent, lasting no more than 30 seconds.

(The only pic I got of snow, I guess my hands were too cold to take the camera out when it got pretty deep!)

Tamsin had to bust out her emergency cliff bar and we split it in half. We had been out there for almost 7 hours at that point and we still had a ways to go before the 30 minute downhill to the lake. Each peak seemed to take forever and we both just lost the motivation to run up anything. Nonetheless, we kept the forward motion. If it wasn't for that hiker, we may have gotten lost a few times. We followed his footsteps pretty much the entire way. Eventually though his tracks stopped and we had to find the trail ourselves which was buried underneath the thick snow. I must have been delirious because I couldn't stop laughing at our misfortune. Tamsin had no clue how many peaks there really were. She was leading the way up and over these suckers and every time she got to the top, she would stand there in disappointment at the sight of one more. Myself being delirious, could not stop laughing uncontrollably. For some reason I thought it was hysterical that we had been out here for 7 1/2 hours, without any more food, and we were slogging through the snow. It truly felt epic and I was loving the adventure. I knew Heather would be worried about us. We FINALLY got to the downhill and motored back to the lake. I ran out of water but thankfully there was only 20 minutes to go. My stomach was feeling great and I still had some energy. I guess when the mind knows it wont be getting any more fuel, the body just holds on!

We reached the lake in just over 8 hours of running. My body felt great but my mind was tired. We just wanted to sit down and magically have some wings and beer delivered to the park. As we walked towards the parking lot we realized Tamsin's car was nowhere in sight. We were expecting it to have been dropped off earlier in the day. Shortly after, we ran into Amber. Heather and Lara had literally just left to go check that Tamsin and I hadn't finished early and had potentially hitch hiked back to our car. It was going to take them at least an hour to go check and come back. Thankfully, Heather had left us some warm clothes and food! When they came back, we got in the car and drove back to North Vancouver. I was tired and it was great to be home in a warm house.

(Run Profile)

I found out the next day that the run was actually 52km and not 45km. I was glad to hear that because I had a feeling it must have been longer. I took yesterday off to recover and today I am still a little unmotivated to go running. My neck is pretty sore from carrying my pack. If I turn my head to the left I get a shooting ache down the left side of my neck. My aunt (massage therapist) is away so I had to book an emergency rub with another lady who has come highly recommended, Lesley White. I can't wait!

11 more days until Giv'r Take Around the Lake 30km and then 4 more weeks until Mountain Masochist 50-miler.

See you in the trails!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Percy Wheels

Percy, the name of my new fire engine red 1990 Honda Civic. I couldn't be more excited right now to have a car. Although, not as ecologically sound as I may have liked, Percy is going to make my life a little bit easier (not that I have a hard life, it's pretty damn good).

When I only had a few clients, biking or running to and from their houses/BFit, was pretty easy. Now that I have more, it just takes up so much time trying to bike from one persons house to the other. It's a workout in itself, although, a very inefficient workout. Not to mention, how do I carry all of my equipment?

Car hunting was really starting to get annoying. I was unsure of what I wanted and I really didn't have the patience to go out to Surrey to look at a used car. I told my brother that I was looking and he called me back within a day. His roommate's wife was selling her car. Perfect! It was $700 bucks and in good running condition. It's always nice when you somewhat know the person you are buying it from. Less chance of being ripped off. I really don't need anything new or fancy as I will only be driving it within North Van.

I took it for a test drive today and was very pleased with it's performance. It even has a CD player! I love listening to tunes in the car. Of course, on the lowest volume as to ensure it doesn't distract my attention :).

This weekend I am heading back up to the secret trails to run with Tamsin. Heather is kindly putting us up in a Hotel again and shuttling us to the start. We will be running 45km and a few of the same hills as the Frosty 50km course we both ran 2 weeks ago. The weather is looking great and I can't wait. Keep your eye open for pictures to come on Monday.

My Uncle John has taken a keen interest in my blog as of late and so this one is for him. Last night, Peter and I were invited over to their house for Dinner. I associate their house with amazing meals, great Wine, and Gildersleeve family events. They host at least a couple of family gatherings a year and they are such gracious hosts. Carolyn, my aunt, is the most amazing cook and baker. I am constantly hounding her for her recipes. Last night she made chicken thighs that had been marinated for 24 hours in this amazing mix of white wine, olive oil, olives, prunes and apricots. KILLER!!! I could have gone up for 3rd and 4ths. For desert it was her own magic version of apple pie. I don't know what to call it, as it wasn't pie.

They left me feeling in a creative mood and I can't wait to experiment this weekend.
Time to go run!
See you in the trails!