It’s not often I take a vacation – usually my travels revolve around racing. So when I do get the chance, I like to spend my vacation the way every athlete dreams – fuel, train, recover, repeat. When I get to do this with my BFF, my sister, it’s even better! And when my sister lives in Albuquerque, NM I can train at altitude and the opportunities are endless! Here’s a synopsis of my eating and training escapades in the Midwest.
I arrived in Albuquerque Thursday night and after enjoying a nourishing dinner from my favorite NM eatery, Annapurna’s, we spent some time catching up before I was off to bed to prepare for the weekend ahead.
Day 1 – Friday
Max Elevation: 6,500 ft
I awoke to find my sister in the kitchen prepping a delicious-looking pre-workout meal for the day.
A homemade granola consisting of oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, apricots, cranberries, coconut oil and maple syrup. Hot out of the oven we covered it with almond milk – perfect!
After we fueled up we were headed off to our first adventure. In order to ease into the change in elevation, my sister made the wise choice in heading to the foothill trails of the Cibola National Forest. This was a lovely greeting to start the trip:
The trails were perfect for day 1 – lots of single track, nothing technical, fun rollers, and of course, beautiful views!
After our run we checked out Loving Vegan in the Nob Hill section of Albuquerque for a nice recovery meal. I of course went for gold, getting the Bento Box, which meant I had the leftovers for dinner 🙂
Day 2 – Saturday
Max Elevation: 6,665 ft
Saturday morning the temps were warm enough for me to fit in a track workout before we headed to Santa Fe. With a high school just over a mile away from the house, it was perfect for me to run a warm-up on the way there. But not before enjoying another energy-dense breakfast prepared by my sister. Banana chia pudding topped with coconut and berries. Chia is the perfect fuel for a long day of training!
Despite only having done 1 track workout outside this year, it wasn’t as painful as I was fearing. In fact, the company I had at the track made it fun!
After returning from the track I enjoyed some of the wonderful treats my sister prepared – coconut chocolate and cherry chocolate balls. Raw, vegan, and a perfect post-run treat! Then it was a quick shower and change and we were headed north! Today’s run would be in Ojo Caliente which is 50 miles north of Santa Fe. Since we had a 2 hour drive ahead of us, we were going to need some pre-run fuel along the way 🙂 We stopped off at Rasa Juice Bar in Santa Fe which had plenty to offer.
We went with the Grounding Green juice – a blend of romaine, kale, beet, carrot, apple, lemon and ginger. And we couldn’t pass up some of the tempting treats in the cooler!We each had a lemon chia macaroon (I just can’t get enough chia!) and we split a fig bar. All raw, vegan, gluten-free, and delicious!
Back on the road to the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs. As if another day running in the trails wasn’t enough – starting and ending at the springs made it even more energizing. I set off into the trails to tack on another 9.75 miles to my morning track workout. I was again greeted with a variety of terrain and views. There were twisting hard-packed single-track trails, rolling hills, deep sand beds leading into ravines – a wonderful way to spend a Saturday!
By the end of my run I was definitely feeling the morning’s effort and couldn’t wait to get into those mineral spas!
“Our sulphur-free, geothermal mineral waters have flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer for thousands of years. Ojo is the only hot springs in the world with four different types of mineral water including lithia, iron, soda and arsenic. Over 100,000 gallons come to the surface, revitalizing those who soak in these legendary, healing waters. Our eleven pools are filled with different types and combinations of these waters with temperatures ranging from 80-109 degrees.”
We soaked in the iron spring and the arsenic spring – just what the body needed!
The Iron Spring
A Native American legend tells that the giant rock in the iron pool guards the place where the ancient people of the mesa once received food and water during times of famine. The warm, iron-rich water bubbles up from the natural pebble floor, providing hot spots to discover in this mystical outdoor cliffside pool. Iron is considered to be beneficial to the blood and immune system.
The Arsenic Spring
The arsenic water is believed to be beneficial for relief from arthritis, stomach ulcers and to heal a variety of skin conditions. Water from the iron and arsenic springs is blended in various pools throughout the property.
Feeling relaxed, it was time to head home. But not before stopping for dinner at my favorite NM eatery – Annapurna’s! Go big or go home seems to be my motto when it comes to recovery meals!
I enjoyed a young coconut water to replenish electrolytes. There’s only one way to enjoy it – straight from the source! A hot cocoa because, well, I love hot cocoa. And a wonderful falafel chapati wrap with a side of greens and bowl of my favorite…beet coconut soup. I could eat that soup daily!
Day 3 – Sunday
Max Elevation: 10,678
Sunday already?!? I was just getting started… Although I was bummed that my trip was flying by so fast, I woke up with excitement that my sister saved the best run for last. La Luz. A seven mile trail starting at 7,000 feet and ending at 10,678 feet. I couldn’t wait to tackle this one! I fueled up with an Emergen-C, a banana and a scone from Annapurna’s – one of my favorite treats!
I filled my inov-8 Race Pro Extreme 4 one last time. Then I was off to run 7 miles at ~12% grade before turning around to descend that same trail. It was single track the whole way – ribbons upon ribbons of switchbacks across the mountain as you made your way to the pinnacle. There was no way pictures could capture the beautiful views, but of course I tried 🙂
A race is held on this trail – they start on the road and run 1.8 miles on pavement before climbing their way to the top. In the Fall 2001 issue of Trail Runner Magazine, La Luz was selected as one of the “12 Most Grueling Trail Races in North America.” There are only 400 slots available and registration is done by lottery. I hope to do this race someday, but not this year, as it happens to fall on the same weekend as the Wedding of the Century!
At mile 4.5 I hit the snow pack. I knew this was coming, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to the top if the conditions were rough. I passed a group of runners putting on their microspikes and figured that wasn’t a great sign. But I was determined! I passed a few groups of hikers – all wearing either microspikes, heavy-duty hiking boots, trekking poles, or a combination of the three. Although I was moving pretty slow, especially over the thick icy spots, I was impressed with how well my inov-8 Trailroc 150’s were handling the conditions. I think the people I was passing were impressed too 🙂 I love these shoes more and more every time I wear them!
When I finally made it to the top I had a bit of a Rocky Balboa moment…
I climbed to the observation deck to take it all in, but barely even looked out over the horizon – the winds were high and it was cold!! Time to race back down the mountain.
Of course this run deserved, you guessed it, lunch at Annapurna’s! I was so hungry after that run, my meal didn’t even last long enough for a photo. A dosa stuffed with roasted veggies, a cup of dal, and a side of chapati. Oh and of course another young coconut! Sweet, sweet recovery.
The rest of the day was spent hanging with my sister and enjoying our last bit of time together before flying out early Monday morning. This included a joint effort on dinner – a Protein Power Goddess Bowl from Oh She Glows.
Does a mini-vacation get any better? Awesome trail running in optimal weather, quality time with my sister, and amazing vegan food. I wanted more miles. When can I do it again?