Monthly Archives: May 2012

The best season

Things that are finally in season:

Parties

Boat rides

Water balloons for little kids and big kids alike

Berries

Patriotic desserts

And spending the day on the water

This season could last forever, and all would be right with the world.

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Filed under Dessert, Family, Fun

Ice Age Trail 50 Race Report

I have given myself a couple of days to process, yet somehow it still doesn’t seem quite real. I often have this feeling after big races, as if it all might have been a dream. I woke up to my alarm clock at 3:40 am on Saturday morning after a surprisingly restful sleep. I did all of my usual pre-race things. Coffee, dressed, packed, pb&j, banana, car. I ate half of my sandwich along with the banana during the 45 minute drive to LaGrange. I wasn’t nervous, just ready. I arrived at the race site around 5:15 am, plenty of time to pick up my bib, use the facility, and hang out with some friends before the 6am start. Part of what I love about trail running is how laid back everyone is. There is no vibe of nervous anticipation jitters that you would feel at the start of a road race, just a bunch of people who would like nothing better than to spend the day running through the woods.

At 6am, we were off. I reminded myself over and over to take it easy though the first 9 mile loop. I wanted to feel like I wasn’t even starting to breathe hard, virtually no effort. I knew that it was going to be a long day, and that I’d better pace myself if I was going to enjoy it.

[photo copyright Ali Engin Photography]

The first couple of miles seemed really long to me, but I just tried to settle into an easy pace. I listened to a lot of conversations going on around me, but didn’t really talk to anybody. Once I got into a groove, the loop was over before I knew it. I started counting down the miles until I would see Steve at mile 17. I made it a point to eat early and often, and arrived at 17 feeling great, except for my right ankle which was feeling pretty stiff.

I asked Steve if he had any Advil in his car and he said no. Oh well. I continued on towards the turn around. The next portion was easily my favorite part of the race. I started seeing a lot of people I knew who were ahead of me coming back the other way, and cheered for each of them as they passed. I also counted the women ahead of me, and determined that I was in 12th place. My two best-case goals for the day were to break 9 hours and to finish in the top 10 for females.

After the turnaround, I saw a ton more people I knew that were still heading out. I said hi to everyone and great job. At one point the guy running just in front of me said jeez, did you bring your whole hometown to the race or what? I said no, just a really awesome running club. At mile 26 I saw Steve again, and he had procured some Advil packets from a gas station. I stuffed them in my pocket and kept running, still feeling good.

After a while, the miles started to wear on me, and I had my first low point of the day. All of a sudden my legs felt awful, I was sucking wind, and I didn’t know how the heck I would be able to finish. By the time I started up the hills on the last out-and-back section, I was hurting with nearly 20 miles to go. I took a walk break and threw an electrolyte tablet into my water bottle. Then I remembered the Advil and decided it couldn’t hurt to take one. I was a little nervous that it would upset my stomach because I’ve never taken anything like that while running before, but it turned out to be fine. I also ate half of a Larabar at that point and hoped for the best.

I don’t know what did the trick, but within 10 minutes I was feeling great again. The trail had flattened out and I felt like I was flying. I started to pick people off one by one, and I was so glad I had taken it easy in the beginning. I came into the final turnaround at mile 40 feeling nothing short of amazing.

With 10 miles to go, the end was in sight. I knew there would be one last really tough hilly section, but I got through it knowing how close I was to the finish. When I got to the final aid station at mile 48.5, I somehow confused myself into thinking that there were 3 miles to go. Don’t ask. Imagine my delight when a guy ran past me and said less than a mile to the beer!  This was the first time all day that I checked my total time, and I was absolutely shocked when I saw that I was about to finish well under my 9 hour goal.

My official time was 8:48:25, 8th female and 1st in my age group. I could not be happier with this finish, and I am so proud of this race. To train hard for months and then have everything come together perfectly on race day is a feeling like no other.

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Filed under Races, The run

50 in the morning

Food is packed…
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Clothes are ready…
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50 miles here I come!

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I scream, you scream

I wasted no time in testing out my new ice cream maker, as if there was any doubt. After browsing a few recipe ideas online, it all seemed pretty simple. I whisked 1 can of full fat coconut milk, 1/4 cup of honey, 1 tsp of vanilla, about 2-3 tbsp of Ghirardelli dark cocoa powder, and a pinch of salt in a bowl.

I let that hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill. Then is was magic time. I turned on the machine (I had frozen the bowl for a good day and a half) and watched, giddy with anticipation.

Fifteen minutes later, I was rewarded with a luscious batch of creamy chocolate coconut ice cream.

So good, and so healthy you could eat it for breakfast. Not that I would ever do that, no sir. I already have a ton of flavor options spinning around in my head. Good thing the bowl is back in the freezer already.

And for the completely indulgent side of things (let’s face it, ice cream can’t always be healthy), I wish for this book in my near future:

Important question: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

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Filed under Dessert, Food, Recipe

Homemade Coconut Joy Larabar Bites

Lately I have been on the lookout for healthy snacks that are easy, portable, and pack a nutritional punch. I love Larabars for their short, natural ingredient list (dates, dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes chocolate) and tasty fun flavors. I have even been eating them during my long runs with no ill-effects. What I do not love is the price tag of $1.50-$2.00 per bar.

When I Googled homemade Larabar recipes, a lot of good examples came up, but none of them were exactly what I was looking for. I used some of the ratios I found in other recipes, like here and here, but decided to come up with my own simple concoction based on the winning favorite flavor combination of coconut and chocolate.

Coconut Joy Larabar Bites

1 cup pitted Medjool dates (about 10)

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 TB coconut cream concentrate (optional, or may sub 1-2 tsp coconut oil)

Dash sea salt

1 cup raw almonds

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet)

Instructions:

Place dates in a bowl and cover with warm water. Allow to soak for about 10 minutes.

Drain dates and place in food processor along with the shredded coconut, coconut cream or oil and dash of salt. Process for about 1 min or until the mixture comes together and starts to form a ball. Remove mixture to a medium bowl.

Add almonds to food processor and pulse until they are small chunks. Add chocolate chips and pulse a few times until they are broken up.

Combine the nuts and chocolate with the date mixture and mix together. It’s easiest to smoosh it all together with your hands. Form into balls or bars or whatever you fancy. I got 16 ping-pong sized balls out of the recipe, all loaded with good fats, fiber, and a little bit of protein for an energy punch.

They should be stored in the fridge and should keep for a couple of weeks, not that they would ever last that long. The flavor combinations here are endless with all of the different dried fruits, nuts and seeds out there. I plan to experiment with these more in the near future.

These will be great to use for a treat at work, a healthy desert, or a pre-run snack.

What is your favorite healthy snack? Recipes welcome!

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Filed under Dessert, Food, Nutrition, Recipe

Happy day

First things first. Coconut syrup is back at Starbucks. Oh, happy day!

I stopped for my usual post-run coaching soy mocha and was beyond excited when I could make it a coconut mocha.

On my way home I decided to stop at Bed Bath & Beyond because I had a gift certificate that has been burning a hole in my wallet since we moved last November. I wandered around aimlessly, not really finding anything that I just had to have. That is, until I turned a corner and spotted this baby.

Oh yes, come to mama. I have been lusting after an ice cream maker for so long. I used a coupon and my gift certificate which made for a great deal on this beautiful machine. The freezer bowl is already in the freezer, where it must remain for 16-24 hours before I can make ice cream. I cannot wait.

Six days until the Ice Age 50 Mile Trail Race. I am excited and ready and only slightly nervous. This past week was a little rough on the running front. I didn’t feel the best after returning from vacation, which I can only attribute to the lack of sleep and inordinate consumption of food, sugar, and alcohol. My focus this week will be on getting plenty of sleep and eating nutritious foods all week long. Ice cream is very nutritious, in case you were wondering. I ran 8 trail miles yesterday and 8 easy road miles today. My plan is to take Monday off (or maybe run a few super-easy miles), run 6 on Tuesday, and 6ish on Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon I will get a massage to flush out my legs, and I will rest on Thursday and Friday while loading up on good food. That should make everything good to go for Saturday.

Do you have an ice cream maker? Any recipes to share?

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Filed under Dessert, Food, The run