Monday, August 31, 2015

The Best Thing I Ever Put In My Mouth (almost)

I debated whether I wanted to drive 4 hours round trip this weekend to experiment with one of the runs I will be doing for our upcoming ultra relay. Georgia Pass, baby! This is to be a 12.9 mile run up and down a mountain. I kind of wanted to know what I was in for so I could either be really confident or really terrified.

So…I got up at the ass-crack of dawn and drove to Jefferson, Colorado, which consists of a gas station, a school house and a ice cream/burger stand. I remembered that when we first moved to Colorado over 20 years ago I stopped at that gas station once with Ken’s VW Jetta and tried to put diesel in the car. Ken probably would have divorced me, but we weren’t married yet. That was the total of my experience with Jefferson, Colorado.

My friend, Julie, lives in Breckenridge, so she met me at the trailhead for Georgia Pass. While waiting for her to show up I downed this, which may be the new best thing I have put in my mouth (twss). Crazy good. I might have to put it on ice cream in the future.


Oh, and I had not felt these temps since last April.


When Julie arrived, I made a run for it.


I seriously had to poop for the last 50 miles of driving. Always feels good to unload before a big run. No need to carry extra poundage up mountains. And, good thing you can’t clog a pit toilet.

I didn't know what to expect from this run.


I knew it was 2,100 feet of elevation gain and 6 miles to the summit.



Here’s Julie heading above tree line.


We took our time, and it was an hour and a half to get to the top. The views were amazing. I could not breathe, but NBD. Breathing's over-rated.


What a damn ugly place. I need to move.



This was the timer shot I attempted.  Hey look! It’s the sky!


I brought q-tips:


This is my “take a picture of me for the blog while I pretend to run” shot (because a few have asked: this is the Nathan Firecatcher Hydration Vest. Goes for about $57 on Amazon):


We finished a bit before lunch time. And, then there was this, because there had to be (kind of weird no Colorado brews..):


Saw this sign at the place we had lunch. If they knew I was coming, they would charge $25.


12 miles. 2,150 feet of gain. 2:45 minutes

When I do the actual relay I will be going up and over the pass, not up and back like I did this weekend.

Glad I did it because now I know I can do it. This will be my 3rd of 6 legs for the relay. I have decided I will fuel with only salted caramel GUs for 39 miles.


Favorite GU/Gel flavor?

Favorite post-long-run meal? EGGS in any form. Or a burger. Or pizza. Or anything with calories and cheese really.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Few New Products to Try (& a Mini Giveaway)

I am always keeping me eye out for new stuff that makes life easier or better or tastier. Sometimes, I just need a bit of zest in my day and like to experiment.

Yesterday I was cleaning out my mini appliance cabinet. It is full of crap. Waffle irons that make heart-shaped waffles (used only at Valentine’s Day). A sandwich maker that hasn’t been used since 2009. A crockpot (not at all useless, I use that thing to death – right now I’ve got a pork roast in there), another waffle iron (we all need Belgium waffles in addition to heart shaped waffles) and a rice cooker (also under-used).

I noticed  bright blue thing in the back – a gift we received at Christmas that I never even opened because who needs one more mini appliance. Actually I thought it was a spaceship for Barbies or Polly Pockets.


Hmmm…what is this thing and how does one use it?

After watching a very corny stupid tutorial, I was hooked. Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge egg eater. I will eat an egg on anything. Day-old casserole? Plop a fried egg on top and call it lunch. Toast smeared with avocado? Poach an egg and put that sucker on top. Don’t even get me started on pizza with an egg on top (I first had this when I spent a semester in Paris. When knew this was a thing?)

Here’s the thing with this egg maker. It’s easy, no mess, quick and make the perfect eggs. You can poach, do omelets or make hard boiled eggs. You throw in water, put on the lid and push the “on” button. It cooks the eggs and then turns off automatically. This thing rocks the house.

Me poaching an egg today. Fascinating.


Then putting it on zucchini brown rice casserole with a smathering of hot sauce. BAM.


So, there you have it. I don’t know if this particular brand is still available (it is the MCM brand and I think it came form QVC), but there are many others like mine.

Onto my second product. Nothing says goodness more than three words = Honey Stinger Waffles. I feasted on them throughout marathon and Ironman training. The perfect breakfast? Two waffles held together by almond or peanut butter. In the past years, the waffles have gotten fancier with new flavors. I just noticed there is now a CARAMEL waffle and the thought of that has me drooling. Maybe I will put an egg on it.


Anyway, I just ordered a few boxes from Amazon because I have PRIME, shipping is free and they come out to about $1 per waffle. Nice.

Last thing…

There are a bazillion running socks on the market. I know because I have a drawer full of them. If you are like me, you have favorite brands or certain socks you wear with certain shoes. However, these new socks I tried have a new twist. Yes, they are a great running sock, but there is something else.


For every pair you buy, Bombas donates a pair. They are motivated by a quote heard from the Salvation Army, “Socks are the number one most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.” I did not know that.

Anyway, Bombas kindly sent me a few pairs of socks, which are awesome. I have an unopened, unused pair (navy blue) to give to someone…so…in the comments tell me about the last thing you donated or gave to someone. Then I will send the winner a pair of socks and I might put an egg on it.

Best new product you’ve tried lately?


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Magnolia Ain’t Just a Flower

For the 4th time this summer I ventured to this spot in the hills outside of Boulder. It was to  be my longest run since the Leadville Heavy Half (15.5 miles) back in July.


It’s about a 45 minute drive to the start of this run. Why drive so far just to run? Seems stupid. Well, it’s not, so stop saying that.


The reason I go is this:

High starting elevation. Rolling hills with some elevation gain (1,550 on this run). Cooler temperatures. Nice, wide, soft dirt roads. Kara Goucher goes here and someday I will run into her and and ask to touch her abs and she will ask to be good friends and I will say yes.

About this run: we won’t talk about the huge black deer flies that swarm around you the sweatier and smellier you get (or if you have to do some roadside pit stop business).  And, the many discarded empties of Bud and Keystone Light (although I did not see any used condoms as I did on my run last week). And, road kill. Lots and lots of fresh road kill. If I was on Naked and Afraid I would be in heaven. This road is also heavily travelled by the mascot car of Colorado – the Subaru. Suburu drivers if you are reading this, slow the f&ck down.

The thing is, when you are training for a race your routes need to be race-specific. That means you should train on the surface (trail, asphalt, concrete) your race will run on. You should try to simulate race conditions as best as you can (altitude, climate, etc). I think Magnolia Road is probably the best training simulation I can do for my upcoming ultra relay.


So, Joie and I started out, hydration packs in place at about 8:00 a.m. I brought about 50 ounces of water – it was going to be warm. It was blustery (said Winnie the Pooh to Piglet) and beautiful. It seemed like we had gotten higher than the huge haze of smoke hanging around Boulder/Denver for the past week (from the fires in Washington/Oregon I think).


This road is constantly rising up and heading down, giving your body a chance to vary muscle usage. We hit the turn around at 7.3 miles. I had a peanut butter/chocolate Chia Bar and a couple of  strawberry Shot Bloks (margarita flavor would have been better). A weird reason I like Chia bars? Because I continue to find the swollen chia seeds in my teeth for hours to come. It’s like the bar that keeps on giving.

As we started heading back, we heard voices behind us. Many times I’ve shared this road with shirtless/hairless cross country hunks, but I’ve never seen them like this:


It was a whole freaking herd of these specimens. I think they were from CU’s cross country team. We stood aside and I made really hilarious comments like “Hey! Is it a rule you cannot wear shirts if you are on this team?” I am sure the boys are still talking about my wit. And, then I yelled creepy 48-year-old-mom comments like, “Nice pecs” and “Sweet package blue shorts on the right!” <just kidding, did not say that even once.

Overall the run felt good. We kept a pretty chill pace and I tried to stay even on the ups and downs. The best part? When we were driving down the canyon Joie suggested we get in the creek. Nature’s ice bath, baby!


I did get in further than this, but I am a pussy in the icy cold water and almost could not take it. If I had balls they would be very, very small and tucked in.

Why the post run ice-bath torture?

  • Reduces swelling and tissue breakdown
  • Blood flow increases post-ice bath as tissues try to warm up
  • Flushes unwanted debris out of the system

So do it and stop complaining. I will if you will.


What was your run this weekend? Next race you have coming up?

Do you do ice baths? Not nearly as much as I should. I love warm showers, which increases inflammation.Not good.

Weirdest thing you’ve ever found on a run? Last year I found a parakeet.



Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Karma Envelope

This post is not about running. But it’s still important. GASP!!

There’s a ton of stuff in the news these days that’s just a shit storm.

Police brutality. ISIS. Forest fires. Ashley Madison outing 37 million people having marital affairs. Jared Fogle doing unspeakable and disgusting things (yes, I did interview him a few years ago for this blog when he was going to run the NYC Marathon – he seemed nice at the time. Apparently “seemed nice” does not tell nearly the whole story. He and his big fat weight loss success story can go make some friends in the shower. Don’t pick up the soap! And don’t expect there to be any of your sweet onion chicken teriyaki in the slammer).

My point is not to bring you down with all of the above crap. My point is I wanted to share with you something that makes us remember there is good stuff that goes on too. Because there is and yet it doesn’t make the news very often. 

Ken and I love this new pub that has opened in town. It has a name – “The Longs Peak Pub and Taphouse,” but as it has become our place to go we now just call it “The Pub.” We are so cool. He gets the Monterrey Chicken Sandwich, I get the Speakeasy Steak Sandwich. He gets the Annapurna amber ale and I get a glass of chardonnay from the tap. The kids get nothing because they are usually not invited.

That is not us sitting at the bar.

Why do we like The Pub so much? It’s inexpensive. It’s a local spot. The atmosphere is mellow. The fries are off the chain. When you wait for a table you get free fries and sometimes free beer. The employees work as a team and everyone does everything and the tips are split.

But, the reason we love it the most? Let me tell you.

The Pub does not take credit cards. In this day and age when even lemonade stands take credit cards, this is unusual. Why do they do it? To keep costs down. Makes sense.

So, when you go to the Pub you have to remember cash or your checkbook. If you don’t, well that’s okay. Enter…the Karma envelope.


Here's the deal. If you don’t have money to pay for your meal, you take a karma envelope. You don’t give your name or phone number. You just take it with the intention of sending the money for your bill in the mail when you can.  Doesn’t matter if your bill is $5 or $50. No questions asked. And, guess what the success rate is? 80%.

That means for every 100 people that do the karma thing, 80 actually pay the restaurant back. Did you need me to tell you that? Probably not. I just like explaining percentages to myself.

So, you might be thinking that this works because The Pub is in some small town in the middle of nowhere where everyone knows everyone. Nope.

My city – Longmont - has about 100,000 people and has its share of ugly stuff that goes down (unfortunately I know this all too well being a social worker here – drugs, gangs, theft, sex assault are more prevalent than I care to acknowledge). Anyway, this “karma” system doesn’t work because this is some safe and insulated place to live.

The karma thing works because people today still do have a conscience. People still do care about doing the right thing. It becomes less about “getting away with something” and more about stepping up when no one is looking or keeping tabs.

You know that saying, “Character is what you do when no one is watching”? Yep, that applies here.

Basically when someone trusts you so inherently to do the right thing and believes in you to do the right thing, it is harder and harder to let them down. Or, that’s my take  on it.

Granted, there are still 20% of people who don’t pay The Pub back. A-holes. I doubt they are the kind of people who sit around feeling guilty about that.  They are the same kind of people who hit a car in the parking lot when no one is looking and simply drive off. Or the kind of people who let their dog lay a huge turd in my yard and don’t clean it up. There will always be those people, but in this case they are the minority.

Good outweighs the bad. That’s what matters. Now come visit me and I’ll treat you dinner at the Pub (wink, wink).


Friday, August 14, 2015

This Will Make You Feel Better About Yourself (& My Favorite New Thing)

I am not dumb. I know it’s much cooler to run before the sun comes up and sometimes I do. Other times, I laze around drinking coffee in my home office doing odds and ends before I realize, SHIT, now it’s hot and I still have to run. I mean…I GET to run. Yep, that’s it.

This procrastinate-til-it’s-stinking-hot scenario happened yesterday. As I was finishing up this 5 mile run and sweating like a pig in heat, I noticed how my pace had slowed in the heat. No duh it had slowed. And some a-hole had put gobs of sand in the only water fountain available.. But I drank from it anyway because I am a risk taker and I like diarrhea.

I remembered I had seen a chart somewhere saying exactly just how much performance deteriorates the hotter it is.

Here it is. I found it for you. Now we can all feel much better about those summertime suck-fest runs. Just in time for fall. Then if your performance is really bad in the fall/cooler temperatures you can feel terrible about yourself, because it shouldn’t be.


So print this out, put it in your shorts and when you are feeling especially demoralized, pull it out (twss).  And bring your calculator so you can figure percentages.

Alright, alight. I know it’s not all about pace. I get that. But, pace has been a way I am gauging if I can meet certain goals or not.

Lately on my hottest runs I’ve been wearing my Garmin but not looking at it until the run is over. That’s because if I look at it I cuss. I often do the same thing on trail runs where pace is usually a good 3-4 minutes lower per mile if you are climbing and the terrain is especially rocky.

By the way, this snake encounter happened at one of my most favorite trails, and I was there that day. I am glad I am not 64 and from Wyoming because that is who rattlers like. Apparently.


One last thing. Fuel Belt sent me a care package this week with many goodies to stay hydrated. My favorite new thing (and I’m not just saying this. I only tell you I like something if I REALLY like it) is this handheld (see how I gaze lovingly at it?):


Better view:


Here's why I don’t like handhelds in general. They are annoying. I don’t like holding anything while I run. On the trails I’m afraid I won’t be able to catch myself right if I fall because I have a bottle in my hand. I feel like it messes with my arm swing and will bulk me up on one side and not the other because I can only carry in my right hand. And, what if I have to pick my nose which is also something I only do with the right hand. It gets complicated.

There, I said it. These are my First World Problems about handhelds.

But, every pretty cool trail runner uses one. And being cool is my only priority in this world.

What do I like this one? Because it is small (only 10 ounces) and if I move the strap over my knuckles it says in place. It is light. It kind of melts into the palm of my hand and I almost forget it’s there. Almost. Plus it’s a pretty color and that goes a long way with me.  Don’t be jealous of the quality of my pictures.


Obviously with only 10 ounces you can’t use it on super long runs. But if you are racing, it would be a great one to refuel at aid stations or from your crew. If I only had a crew.

Do you run with a hand held? Why or why not? Which one? I also like the one from Orange Mud but it is bigger.

Ever encounter a snake on a run? Yes, last year I actually ran over a rattlesnake and my partner (behind me) came up on it as it was posing to strike. Yuck.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Running Is Hard (& Other Reasons Runs Suck Sometimes)

I wonder if you do what I do.

You have a bad run, or a series of especially sucky runs, and you start to question everything. Why is this happening? What the hell is going on?

It is like an investigation into all of the factors that could be contributing to this horrendous situation (CSI for runners). Why? Why? Why? For God’s sake WHY???

I’m training for this ultra relay (September 11-12). I’m kind of stressed about it only because the runs are really tough with lots of vertical gain and altitude, and I am running 40 miles over the 24 hours on no sleep and weird food (well, probably existing on Clif Bars, PB&J and cheese sticks – not weird so much as not real meals).

Flaming Foliage Relay profile map

I can imagine my stomach will revolt all over the trail at some point. I’ve been training hard – trying to get out to the trails and doing back to back longer runs on the weekends. Did I mention there are only five of us covering the full 170 mile distance?

The last two weekends of runs have sucked balls. It’s been hot and I’ve been tired. I’ve fallen (and gotten up), ran out of water, had horrific stomach cramps, farted a bunch, and tried my best not to complain. After all, these are goals I’ve chosen and dammit I’m grateful to be able to run. But, why is this so f*cking hard sometimes?

This is what I’ve come up with (some is physical, most is mental/emotional).

  1. I’m getting old. Well, okay I’m not ancient, but I’m older than I was a few years ago (see how smart I am? Yes indeed 48 is older than 42!) and this can make recovery tougher.
  2. I’m dehydrated. On the weekends I drink more wine than normal and forget to drink as much water. The weekends are also when I am doing my long and hot runs. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to know this isn’t helping my performance.
  3. I’m too hard on myself. I love social media for certain things, but other time it pisses me off because it make me feel not good enough (yeah, yeah, no one should be able to make you feel not good enough…but). This is really freaking stupid because I know everyone posts a filtered and ideal view of themselves, but sometimes it’s tough not to compare.
  4. I’m not eating enough before my runs. I was reading an article yesterday (can’t remember where, sorry – I was getting my hair done at the time so it must have been US Weekly – the source for all good running info) that said prior to a long run, I would need 5-75 grams of easily digestible carbs, like a bagel or oatmeal or something. I KNOW THIS, but I don’t always do it. I also know I should floss, but…
  5. I need to accept that pace naturally slows in the heat.
  6. Where I run. One run I do in particular is on Magnolia Road in the hills outside of Boulder. If you know “Mags” as it is called then you know this where Kara Goucher and the Univ of Colorado Cross Country team trains. And many other crazy fast and pro people. so, when I am out there huffing and puffing my ass off, struggling to keep a 10 minute mile on the hills and these shirtless/hairless cross country boys come bounding by with no water and hardly breathing heavy at all I seriously want to punch them in the balls. Yes, that is jealousy. It just is.
  7. I must have some bizarre disease taking over my body that I don’t know about and that is why I’m tired. Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this.
  8. Running is hard. And then you die.

So, there you have it. I need to get behind myself and stop the negativity. I also need to pay closer attention to hydration and diet. We all get off track, no?

Comparison is the thief of joy, my friends!

The good news is I got out early today and had a splendid run. Here I am. I am bigger than a house.


And, I remember things could be worse because I could knowingly be running with my period and not using a tampon and be in the news about it. If you haven't heard this lovely and bloody story, go HERE. Apparently she did this to fight period shaming (PS). To that I say “WTF?”

This is one trend I will not be participating in. What’s next? Purposefully running when you have diarrhea to see what happens? Will someone do that to fight poop shaming?

When was your last suck-fest run?

What do you tell yourself when you have a bad run?

Would you run without a tampon to fight PS?


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

10 Things That Give Runners the Reputation of CRAZY

There is this 1/3 mile hill in my neighborhood I’ve been using for my hill repeats. This morning I was out there running up and down that bitch 6 times. The hill goes by at least a dozen houses. Although I don’t care what people think (after all at least I am out there getting my heart rate up unlike some people), it did occur to me that it must be amusing to watch someone run up and down the same damn hill 6 times. I can just hear Aunt Gertrude now commenting as she eats her All Bran, “Come look at this Howard! This girl keeps jogging up the hill again and again. Do you think she is deranged? Should we call someone?”

When you think about it, runners can look a bit delusional and slightly masochistic at times (or is it hedonistic?). After all, running up hills is the devil’s work and not that much fun at all. But…I do it because I SWEAR with each repeat I actually can feel myself getting stronger.

Because I didn’t really want to think about how pukish I felt running fast uphill, I started thinking about all crazy stuff we do as runners. Because I am a runner myself, these things all make perfect sense to me, but I can see why non runners might see it as ridiculous. I’ve had many a person say to me that I must enjoy torture and pain because I run so much. Whatever. But, I get it. Kind of. Here are some things that might get us runners labeled as masochists:

  1. Running up and down hills on purpose.
  2. Paying $60 to $100 so we can wake up at the ass crack of dawn, run a race and get a dry bagel at the end.
  3. Running until our toenails turn black and fall off.
  4. Running until we throw up or crap our pants.
  5. Stopping at 7-11 on the way home from along run to buy 20 pounds of ice to put in a bath.
  6. Getting on a machine that is kind of like a wheel for hamsters (i.e., treadmill) and running many many miles without going anywhere.
  7. Running for hours, not minutes at a time.
  8. After long races limping and avoiding stairs because they are so sore.
  9. Eating flavored gel the consistency of pudding mixed with toothpaste.
  10. Getting up early while on vacation to “just” run 10 miles.

Funny thing is, I don’t care that I sometimes look like this during and after races.


I love all the craziness, pain, torture, and grit that goes along with running. Because right alongside of that comes accomplishment, joy, determination and success.

Am I right?