Mad Lib! Cayuga Trails 50



ERIC EAGAN from #TrailsRoc!! (the crowd goes wild) Okay, so my Mad Lib entries were sparse, to put it mildly – but the submissions I did receive were great. Thank you to those of you who played along! Read Eric’s winning entry below. Oh Eric, just wait until you get your Mystery Prize Sack.

Cayuga Trails 50 Mile Race Report

“My alarm went off at 4:00 am and I looked outside the window to see Jesus (no wait that’s Ian…no wait he cut his hair…it IS Jesus) giggling.  It was going to be an interesting day!  I tip-toed downstairs to eat my go-to breakfast of quinoa kabobs & deep fried bananas before changing into my sweat stanked race gear.

When I arrived at the start line I felt like Pumba from the lion king WHEN I WAS A YOUNG WART HOOOOOGGGG.  It was time to race!  At 6 am on the dot Ian blew into the officer’s breathalyzer and we all started the running man challenge.

During those opening miles I was feeling great & belting out the lyrics to Celine Dion’s I Will Go On.  Even though I was all business I had a muck covered face the whole time.  At mile 13 I planned to take a shit.  Luckily I had a teddy bear strapped to my left tricep.

Around mile 19 I heard someone coming up behind me & was thrilled to see Bernie.  We talked about how are races were going and he told me a story that made me Feel the Bern so hard I donated what’s left to him!  That was a great distraction – thanks Bernie!

As I arrived at the start/finish line to begin my 2nd loop I shouted “OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!” to the spectators & they all ran in fear.  This lifted my spirits even higher. By mile 38 I was starting to feel sluggish so I reached for my vegan snack.  Oh crap!!  I burned my eyelashes There’s no time to worry about that.  Onward.

Powering through those final miles was rough, but finally the finish crowd was in sight & I could stop seeing things.  I was thrilled to be finished and excited to get tanked with my friends.  What an amazing day!”

Here are some of my favorite answers from other entries:

“I tip-toed downstairs to eat my go-to breakfast of a Strong Hearts reuben & Earth Crisis milkshake” – Jason Mintz

“Even though I was all business I had a fake mustache on my face the whole time.” – Jason Young

“As I arrived at the start/finish line to begin my 2nd loop I shouted “THE END IS NIGH” to the spectators & they all repented.” – Tom Dee


It’s that time folks – taper time!! I have extra time on my hands so I figured I would get a head start on my race report for the upcoming Cayuga Trails 50. And you my friends can be a part of my big day by creating the story or how my race could, or should unfold. If you want to complete my Cayuga Trails 50 Mad Lib you will be in the running for a Mystery Prize Sack! 🙂

mystery prize sack

Click the link below if you want to play. I will have a 3rd party read the entries and decide which they like best. You can make it as crazy as you want! Not following traditional rules, you can read the story as you go to craft your creative responses.

After the race I will post the winning entry and even complete the Mad Lib myself (to the best of my ability) with my own version of how things really went down…


  • 1 entry per person
  • entries must be received prior to the race start on June 4th at 6:00 am EST
  • you do not have to be running this race, or a runner period, to enter!

Have fun & thanks for playing! 🙂



A minimalist’s dream – the Ultimate Direction TO Race Vest 3.0

My very first hydration pack was from Ultimate Direction – this was back in the day when I had no use for a running pack that carried hydration, had lots of space for gear, and plenty of pockets for easy access to nutrition and other fun items. I still thought the pack was very cool and mainly used it to run commute in Syracuse – rolling up my “work attire” as tightly as I could to fit it into the pack.

Once I discovered my love of trail running I purchased my first handheld – the Fastdraw – and after trying different handheld options and sizes from other companies I found that I liked the Fastdraw best. It is easy to drink out of, easy to fill, and it fit my hand well without having to “hold on”. But in all honesty, I do not like handhelds. I prefer to have my hands free while training and racing. Handhelds still have their place in my gear closet for those training runs or races where a pack is too much but I still require some fluids. They had a place that is – until I got my hands on the TO Race Vest 3.0.
UD fullI was in the market for a new race vest this year and the minimalist TO 3.0 caught my eye immediately. So much utility packed into such a small vest – it was a quick and easy decision. I will review the features of the vest highlighting the pros and cons.

The upper half is open mesh which allows maximum ventilation and reduces the overall weight of the pack. The lower half consists of 2 layered pockets – both which I can unzip and access while running which typically isn’t easy with the minimum range of motion in my shoulders. One pocket has a key clip so that you don’t have to worry about your key falling out when you open the zipper.

Rear pockets

Rear pockets

Along with the mesh on the upper back which extends over the shoulders to the chest pockets, it’s worth mentioning the edging that runs all along this pack. It is super-soft making it comfortable against your skin. As someone whose skin is very sensitive to practically anything that touches it while running, this material is the most comfortable I have come across.

Mesh and edging

Mesh and edging

I’ll start with the 2 pockets that sit closest to the shoulders. They both have Velcro closures which is a bonus. One with a flap covering the pocket (I believe this one is waterproof) and one without.
UD pocketUD flap pocket









The sternum strap clasps are easy to open and close. Sounds like a minor detail, but this is something I have struggled with on other vests/packs – especially when it’s cold and my digits aren’t functioning well. The sternum straps can easily be adjusted to multiple positions along the length of the vest with a simple t-hook.

Sternum strap clasp - a simple squeeze of the blue and you're free!

Sternum strap clasp – a simple squeeze of the blue and you’re free!

Next in line is the bottle holsters. The fabric of these pockets make it easy to get the bottles in and out as the pocket maintains its shape – I’ve found that I can remove and replace a bottle with one hand after loosening the opening using the cord locks.

Bottle holster

Bottle holster

The vest comes with two 500 ml Body Bottles. Once you’ve switched to soft flasks there is no turning back. They conform to your body, shrink as you empty them, and the wide mouth makes them easy to fill & add powdered mixes on the go – you can even add ice to your drinks. The hi-flow bite valves live up to their name – I like a high volume of liquid 🙂

Hi-Flo Bite Valve

Hi-Flo Bite Valve

Below the bottle holsters are 2 more pockets. These mesh pockets are great for stashing nutrition. One issue I did have during my first race with this vest is that once the body bottles were empty these mesh pockets do not hold items in as tightly. I had to stop twice during my race to retrieve gels that came flying out. Now I stash only the nutrition that I will be using in the early miles or once I replace the fluid in the bottles. With all of the other storage options that are easy to access while running this isn’t an issue for me.

Finally, below the mesh pockets are super-convenient trekking pole holders. Although I do not have a use for these yet, someday…

Mesh pockets and trekking pole holders

Mesh pockets and trekking pole holders

I will admit that the first time I wore this vest on a long run I didn’t like it. And I was super-bummed because I wanted to love it. The location of the bottles on the chest make it uncomfortable for women (*note this is not a women-specific vest, and Ultimate Direction offers a women-specific line). The bottles were bouncing around too much making it very annoying. Since I was testing it out the weekend before my first trail 50k I realized that there was no way I could run with this for a race of that length. Feeling dejected after my run I noticed that there was room to tighten the pack on the side straps. Voila! Problem solved – no more bouncing bottles!

1st race in the TO 3.0 - TNF DC

1st race in the TO 3.0 – TNF DC

lightweight – The abundance of ventilation & lightweight materials make this vest super-comfortable – like you’re not even wearing a pack. (the pack weighs in around 6 oz, just over 8 oz with bottles)
storage – For a minimalist vest there are plenty of pocket options (6) and all are easy to access on the run.
aesthetics – I love the color and overall look of this vest. The fact that it matches my Suunto is an added bonus, and totally coincidental 😉

Coordinating like a boss

Coordinating like a boss

lower mesh pockets – Although I like the deep storage capacity of these pockets and the ease of getting into them, the only thing holding the items in are full body bottles. Smaller items like gels can easily fall out while running if your flasks are low or empty.
fit – I ordered the small and every adjustable strap is as tight as it can go. For me the fit is perfect. Make sure you order the size that will work for you and spend time adjusting all 4 straps to get that snug fit. If you have any bounce the vest will not be comfortable. (*follow the sizing instructions on UD’s web site). So…not really a con, just a word of advice!

My fun photo shoot when the vest arrived - thanks Eric Eagan for the inspiration

Yippee it’s here! My fun photo shoot when the vest arrived – thanks Eric Eagan for the inspiration






#FridayFuel – Teff Muffins

You know what I love about muffins? They are perfect little (or sometimes not so little) single-serving, portable snacks that you can pack a lot of goodies into. This muffin recipe is just that – which is why I have been making them for years!

The supergrain teff! Photo: Huffington Post

The supergrain teff! Photo: Huffington Post

If you haven’t been introduced to teff it is time to check it out! Teff is an iron-packed grain from Africa that is gaining popularity and accessibility as it is said to be the grain of choice for elite Ethiopian athletes. In addition to the benefits of easily absorbed iron, it also boasts high amounts of protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and calcium. Since many females in endurance sports can struggle to maintain adequate iron levels (vegan or not), adding teff to your diet is a great way to boost tissue iron levels ladies!

Teff Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Nutrient dense muffins to be enjoyed at any time of day.


  • 2 cups teff flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup agave nectar or maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup melted virgin coconut oil
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional – I add a few on top of the muffins)
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 small tart apple, diced


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan. 2) In a medium sized mixing bowl, add the teff flour, tapioca flour, ground flax, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk together well. 3) In another mixing bowl, whisk together the orange juice, applesauce, agave nectar, and oil. 4) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together. Then add the nuts, dried fruit, and grated carrots, and diced apples. Continue to mix with a large wooden spoon until all of the ingredients are combined. Be sure to not over mix the batter! 5) Spoon batter into oiled muffin cups and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. 6) Cool muffins on a wire rack.

Long Course Duathlon National Championship at Cary Du Classic

carydu2016logoThis was my 2nd time racing the Cary Du Classic as the Long Course Duathlon National Championship and to sum it up – I had a bad day. I can say that I went into this race not having the best mental attitude (which I may expand upon during another post after I do some soul searching in Santa Fe), but it really comes down to not having the speed, power, and grit that I normally possess. As much as I try to squash my lack of confidence and convince myself that I’m ready to race at my best, it doesn’t always work and my weaknesses show up on race day. Here’s a brief re-cap of my day.

I arrived at transition feeling rested and ready. I was definitely a bundle of nerves for this race but reuniting with so many great friends eased a lot of that anxiety. There was Yvonne Carter and Cora Sturzl from the west coast, Erica Ruge and Jason Heimink from the midwest, Tracy Lempke, Kristin Allyne, Jeff Guara, Jackie Miller, and my wonderful host Dave Tierney representing the local crew. Although we were missing some key people, it was like a duathlon reunion! I knew that no matter how my race went today it was worth it to be here with some amazing friends doing what we love.

Yvonne and I

Yvonne and I – representing Topo

The female start time was 7:04 am – it was still cool and crisp before the heat and humidity rolled in. When the command to “go” was given I of course shot off the front. No one was challenging me and the pace was manageable so I settled in, hitting the first mile at 6:05. I heard some people behind me and soon could tell from shadows that there were 3 females latched onto me. Looks like I was the pacesetter and with the strength of the runners at this race and my lack of confidence in my run speed I didn’t think this was a good position for me to be in today. I backed off just a touch as one-by-one the 3 of them passed me. I hit mile 2 at 6:14 and soon after that was the turnaround where I could see the 3 females coming back towards me. They all looked amazingly strong – not at all how I felt. I really love watching strong runners even if they’re ahead of me so it was a treat to see this talent. I finished the first 5 mile run with a 6:13 pace and was excited to get out on the bike.

The bike course changed this year and we were now doing 2 loops which cut out some of the climbing. Normally I would be happy to have more hills since I don’t possess a great amount of power on flat courses, but since I had only ridden my bike outside 3 times prior to the race, I figured a flatter course would benefit me. It wasn’t my strongest bike but I think I fared better than I was expecting. Over the 30 mile course I was passed by 3 females putting me in 6th place off the bike.

Time to get on to that 2nd run and see if I could chase anyone down! As soon as I started run #2 I could tell I was fading fast. I was eventually able to pass the 6th place female, Allie Norman, but I wasn’t confident that the pass would stick. I started getting pretty bad stomach cramps (which I believe were a result of a minor nutrition error) and I could only imagine how bad I must have looked trying to hold it together. I remember telling myself “you’re running slower than your training pace“, which wasn’t actually true, but it sure felt that way. The first female I saw on the return was Cecilia Davis-Hayes and she looked so damn strong – it was awesome! I gave her a big cheer as I plodded along. After the turn-around I saw Meghan Fillnow storming down the hill and knew it was only a matter of time before she blew by me. I did what I could to keep my momentum going and told myself it was okay to be passed on the run, but this was the only pass I would allow 😉 Sure enough she made her pass with a mile to go and I stayed focused on getting to the finish line.

Photo: Dave Tierney

Photo: Dave Tierney

My performance earned me the bronze medal in my age group and 6th overall female for the day. Not the result I was shooting for but I raced with all I had in me that day. I absolutely love racing – good, bad, or ugly – it’s always an experience I cherish. Today was no exception. Many of my friends also earned medals for their strong races so there was much to celebrate!

Me, Kristin, and Cora

Me, Kristin, and Cora

Run #1 – 31:05
T1 – :33
Bike – 1:21:28
T2 – :29
Run #2 – 34:07

#FridayFuel – Coconut Quinoa and Sweet Potato Curry


Jars of curry spice mix to save prep time

If you haven’t noticed I am a big fan of curries. I could eat curry every day. Easy to make, so much flavor, and so many benefits for athletes! I always preach that the best way to recover from a hard workout or race is with a nourishing curry. I cannot tell you the last time I’ve popped a NSAID – it’s been so many years. Why take a pill created in a lab when you can use natural spices to keep inflammation at bay?

As I enjoy curries so often, I find it convenient to mix up a few single-serving jars of my curry mix at a time. Although it doesn’t take that long to throw a mix of spices into a dish on the stove I find it quick and easy to simply open 1 jar and dump the entire contents in the pan when I am in a hurry to get dinner made!

Coconut Quinoa and Sweet Potato Curry is one of my favorite go-to curry dishes. After my evening workout I can throw the quinoa and chickpeas in a saucepan while I hop in the shower and prepare the rest afterwards.

Coconut Quinoa & Sweet Potato Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print



  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas with liquid
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 15-ounce can lite coconut milk
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp ginger


  1. Add chickpeas with liquid and quinoa to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat – simmer for 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Use another saucepan with a steamer basket and bring water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and steam for 5-10 minutes until tender.
  3. In a skillet, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  4. Add your spice mix, the chickpea quinoa mix, and sweet potatoes to the skillet and add coconut milk.
  5. Mix well and bring to a boil before covering and reducing the heat to low.
  6. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk reduces to a thick curry.

#FridayFuel – Avocado Chickpea Salad

A slight twist on your typical chickpea salad – I use ripe avocado in place of vegan mayonnaise as a healthy, creamy fat alternative. There are many ways to enjoy this dish – I like to load it into romaine lettuce wraps (and then add pickle slices on top for even more dill flavor!). I also enjoy it as a topper to a spinach salad. You can add it in a wrap or pita with other veggies and sprouts. Or simply eat it out of the bowl with a spoon 🙂

Avocado Chickpea Salad

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 stalk of celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into large pieces
  • 1 Tbsp onion
  • 1/2 of a ripe avocado
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp dried dill (I prefer lots of dill!)


  1. Rinse and drain chickpeas.
  2. Add celery, carrot and onion to a food processor and pulse a few times to roughly chop.
  3. Add the remainder of the ingredients and pulse a few more times, scraping down the sides as needed, until well-mixed but with some chunks remaining.