Nothing says summer like the flavor combination of coconut & lime! Coconut water is high in the electrolyte potassium, so this shake is perfect before or after an intense workout in the heat. Or anytime you’re thirsty for something refreshing!
The new trend is sweet potato toast and wow – what a discovery! I love sweet potatoes, and I also love piling things on toast! Since I avoid breads when I’m in training cycles this is an awesome alternative and a great snack idea.
No recipe needed – you simply slice a sweet potato into your desired thickness (the thinner the slice the easier to toast), place it in your toaster and toast on high. When it finishes you will likely need to toast it one more time. You want to see some browning on the slice and then you know it’s ready. When it comes to toppings you can go crazy! I started with some good ol’ standbys:
almond butter, dates, coconut & cinnamon
avacado mash, nutritional yeast & sea salt
chocolate peanut butter, raspberries & coconut
Up next will be cashew cream cheese, red onion, cucumber, capers and dill. Then maybe smashed black beans, guacamole and salsa. Sautéed kale, white beans and garlic. I could go on and on. Have fun creating your own sweet potato toast snacks and feel free to share them with me 🙂
While visiting Santa Fe and dining at one of my favorite eateries, Rasa Juice Bar, I discovered these amazing raw cinnamon rolls that were not only delicious but also the perfect fuel before my long runs in the foothills and mountains.
I fell in love with these cinnamon rolls and made it a priority to re-create them on my own so that I could enjoy them anytime! Through a few trials I finally found the perfect mix. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Remove pits from dates and soak in water while you prepare the base.
Add almonds, pecans & flax meal to a processor and process until it becomes a fine crumble.
Add agave and continue to process (you may need to scrape down the sides once or twice) until you have a moist dough-like consistency (it will still be crumbly).
Place the mixture onto a sheet of wax paper, cover with another sheet of wax paper, and use a rolling pin to flatten into a 9×9 square or similar. Place the base into the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Drain the dates and add them to the food processor with the remaining filling ingredients. Process for 3-5 minutes until a smooth paste is formed, stopping to scrape down sides if necessary.
Remove the base layer from the fridge and remove the top layer of wax paper. Spread the date paste evenly onto the base, and then use the bottom layer of wax paper to gently roll the layers from end to end. Place the roll in the fridge to set for about an hour.
Once set, remove the roll and cut into slices of desired width.
To make the topping, mix almond butter, coconut oil and vanilla and microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir well until syrupy, and then drizzle onto cinnamon roll slices.
I had one simple goal coming into this race – run a PR. After last year’s implosion (you can read about it here) I figured this would be an attainable goal for my 2nd 50 miler. I would be lying if I said a podium spot wasn’t also on my mind but after finally doing some research on my competitors (a mere 3 days before the race) I decided it was not wise to get hung up on that notion with the talented women coming to this race. I also had a “loose” goal of sub-8:30, but mainly I was concerned with the PR.
Race morning brought cool temps which was a pleasant treat when we knew what was in store for the day. The high humidity at 5 am was a stark reminder that the heat was on its way. I had some nervous energy as I was milling about and catching up with friends. For once I fully executed a taper and I was ready to go! Once I lined up at the start next to my friend and soon-to-be fellow Strong Hearts Vegan Power Teammate Jason Mintz I was also surprised by Ellie Pell who showed up to give me a good luck hug and, I was hoping, some of her speed 😉 First Caitlin Smith lined up next to me, then Sabrina Little, then Corrine Malcolm. The intimidation set in but also the excitement of seeing how this race would unfold!
The countdown clock expired and we were off! (I can’t say enough how much I love the relaxed start of ultra races!) The field slowly settled into a very relaxed pace. The lead pack was chatting, telling jokes, laughing… I was right behind Jason and we joked about how this felt like a group run and we would be totally happy if the pace stayed like this. As expected once we crossed the field and then the road to head out on the trail the race began. Sabrina took the lead within the first mile and Corrine was quick to tag along with her. I had to fight the urge to follow suit – I knew that if I wanted to have a successful race I had to stick to my plan. It wasn’t long before both Corrine and I passed Sabrina but then Kelsey Allen blew by and charged into the lead. I watched Corrine go with her and reminded myself to stay right where I was.
The miles were ticking by with ease and I felt totally relaxed. At each aid station I received info on the time gap between 1st and 2nd. It was fairly close which made me feel even better about how I was running. As I approached Lick Brook climb I caught up to Corrine. As we hiked this massive climb together it was great to be able to chat with her – she’s a cool girl with a great attitude. Once we reached the top she again pulled away and I again held off on chasing. It was still way too early for me to make a move I would pay for later. My Suunto beeped, ringing in mile 9, and I said out loud with excitement “I only have 41 miles to go!” Who was this voice inside my head?!? That’s how relaxed I felt and how much I was enjoying this course – which was every bit as beautiful as I remembered!
Photo: Kate Paice Froio
Around mile 19 I was surprised to see Kelsey just up ahead. At this point the marathon runners were coming through and one of the guys yelled “there’s only 15 seconds separating the first 3 females – now this is a race! I knew that she was in reach and I would pass her soon but hearing this got me super-pumped. I had to tell myself to calm down, relax, let it happen. I stuck to it and made my pass on Lucifer’s stairs, moving into 2nd place. I was still feeling totally relaxed and started to question whether or not I was taking it too easy. Looking at my watch I saw that I was going to finish my first loop under my goal of 4:10 – I was not going too slow.
I thought about how much better I felt at this point compared to last year and as I approached the halfway point I was ecstatic to see my dear friend Kate on the trail with her camera. She cheered, she chased after me, screamed “I LOVE YOU!” My spirits were soaring. Just as planned, yet another Strong Hearts Vegan Power teammate, Jay Phillips was waiting to replenish my fuel. I swapped my empty flasks for new bottles of Skratch Labs Exercise Hydration and Hyper Hydration, along with 2 more packs of Skratch Labs Fruit Drops and Huma gels, and was on my way. Now the race begins!
My plan during the first loop was to take it easy on the downhills so that I could save my legs for loop 2 where I could ramp up the aggressiveness. For some reason this wasn’t working – both of my knees and my bad hip were in excruciating pain reducing me to a hobble on the downhills. I felt fine on both the flats and uphills so I took advantage of these spots.
By the second loop I was noticing how the rising temps were affecting me – I was already drinking more and realized I would need to focus on hydration for the rest of the race. The collapsible cup provided as race swag was a part of my fueling strategy as I stopped at every aid station to fill it with water – sometimes more than once. (thanks again Ian for reducing waste by avoiding paper cups!) Leading up to the race as I watched the forecasted temperature rise I decided to tweak my hydration plan slightly – and try something new. I knew that late in the race I could use a fresh, cold pick-me-up so I mixed a bottle of Vega Sport Sugar-Free Energizer that would be waiting for me at mile 37. Now after every beep of my Suunto I would look down and say “X miles to go-go!” (the name my sister and I use for this Vega drink). This helped me to have a goal and break up the race.
Cooling off. Photo: Kate Paice Froio
When I arrived at the underpass aid station I was excited to see watermelon and after filling my water cup I enjoyed a slice before continuing. I also saw freeze pops which were so tempting and promised myself that I could have one on the way back with only 7 miles to go. I set another milestone to look forward to! Climbing Lick Brook a second time the heat was definitely rocking. After you get to the top you run through a few fields where you are totally exposed to the sun. I realized that I made a major error at the last aid station – I should have drank one of my flasks and refilled it instead of trying to ration. Now my fluids were really low and mile 37 seemed so far away. I hopped out onto a road crossing and saw a man carrying a jug of water to the course marshal. “Is the water for sale?” “No, you can have it for free!” I stopped and waited while he adjusted all he was carrying and opened the jug for me and oddly I only thought to have him fill my little cup 😦 I wasn’t thinking straight! It was still a relief and after thanking him and calling him my desert oasis I sped off.
About a mile from the aid station I came upon Jared who was hiking with a hydration bladder and I kindly asked if I could have some of his water. I stopped to take a swig and off I went again – this was getting rough! Finally I made it to Buttermilk Falls where I found Kate once again – I told her I was going to need my sparkle drop bag (all the cool kids have them) and she sprung into action – sprinting ahead, hurdling coolers to get the go-go juice I had been so anxious to enjoy. This time I remembered to fill both of my empty flasks and leaving that aid station with a slap on the ass from Kate and 3 full bottles of fluids gave me a burst of energy. Home stretch!
At mile 39 I heard someone behind me and turned around to see Sabrina,
and feel the impending doom that came with it. Sabrina has way more experience in ultra racing and is a very strong runner. I knew that my time in 2nd place had come to an end but for my own sense of pride I wasn’t going to go down without a fight! In that moment of despair I decided to surge – what did I have to lose at this point? I knew that it wouldn’t last but why not give it a shot. For 3 miles I was feeling strong – thank you go-go juice! When I got to the descent on Lick Brook I was once again reduced to a slow hobble and was sure it wouldn’t be long before she re-appeared.
I arrived at the underpass aid station anxious to claim my prize of a freeze pop. To my dismay I grabbed a purple tube of refreshment to find it was pure liquid 😦 I said out loud “oh, they aren’t frozen” to which a volunteer responded “we have frozen ones!” I waited for her to retrieve one and cut off the top for me while I tossed back the liquid one anyway. I grabbed the green one she handed to me and off I went. I can’t tell you the last time I had freeze pops so I didn’t remember how vile they tasted. But I can tell you they taste the same coming back up – which happened within a mile of eating them 😉 It was still worth it.
I was approaching Lucifer’s stairs when I heard 2 runners coming up behind me. As expected, it was Sabrina and she now had a running partner, Zach Ornelas. They were chatting away and making it look like they were on a relaxed, easy run. Once we summited the stairs I stepped aside to let them pass. With my surge I was able to hold her off for 6 miles but it was time to face reality. Now I started to worry about who was next – surely Caitlin must be closing on me (I did not know that she had dropped). I convinced myself that I could muster one last surge in these remaining 5 miles if needed. In all honesty I don’t think I could have, but I had to tell myself I could make it happen.
I was relieved to make it to the last aid station to fill one last bottle one last time. As I approached a spectator yelled “you can’t stop she’s only 5 seconds ahead!” An exaggeration for sure, and I assured him that I was not in a place to catch her at this point as I grabbed a slice of watermelon to power me through the last 3 miles. As I was about to turn onto the grass trail with about a mile and a half to go I see Jason Mintz in front of me! I knew this meant he wasn’t having the day he had hoped for but at the same time I was happy to have some company to finish the race. When we hit the home stretch and I could see that no one was behind me I could finally relax and enjoy the finish!
Jason and I crossed the line at 8:28:06 (that was my time anyway, his was oddly 4 seconds faster). I had a lot to celebrate – I ran sub-8:30, I made the podium with a 3rd place finish, and best of all – I ran my race and stuck to my plan! The heat was a factor but I think I handled it well (thanks to Skratch Labs Hyper Hydration – I swear by that stuff!) Sure there are plenty of areas I can improve on – could I have run those last 10 miles stronger had I been running higher volume weeks? I’m certain of it. This race was a step in the right direction and I’m excited to see what I can do next.
I cannot say enough great things about this race – Ian and his Red Newt Racing crew do a top-notch job at organizing and supporting this event. The aid-stations are well-staffed with knowledgeable volunteers – it really makes a difference. Thank you to all who donate so much of their time to make this event what it is! I also want to thank Topo for their support this year – this was my 2nd race in the Runventures and when you can run 50 miles without even noticing the shoes on your feet that’s a great sign! I didn’t have one single blister or even a hot spot. Also thank you to Skratch Labs for providing products that are easy on the stomach, ease my heat-sensitivity, and most of all taste delicious! I don’t think I could ever grow tired of those Fruit Drops! Thank you to Jay Phillips for coming out to refuel me at the halfway point, and to Kate who never ceases to amaze me. She captures great photos, runs her tush off, plants kisses on my salty face, and she’ll even give you a slap on the ass to get you on your way! Every time I saw her on the course (which was a lot – she was everywhere!) it brought a smile to my face and recharged me. And last but not least, thank you to Jay Friedman who pulled me around the track and up the hills of New Paltz week after week preparing me for this race. I got to see him once – when I was heading out on loop two. Little did I know he was having a terrible time due to illness and was about to drop out. He was smiling and cheering for me – giving me support despite what he was going through. It was tough day for many – the finish rate was 68%!
It’s been weighing heavily on my mind more and more this year. I have just completed my 2nd National Championship less than one month from the previous, in a different sport, with only a slight improvement in the outcome. I think it’s finally time to face the harsh reality that unless I dedicate my training to one sport I will never toe the line at these competitive races fully prepared to perform at my potential.
I told myself after last year’s Cayuga Trails 50 that I would not return to the race this year unless I could train properly for it. I may have trained “better”, but not “properly”. Although I believe I had slightly more run volume overall this year leading up to the race with two 50k’s already under my belt and better rested, I still did not dedicate the weekly mileage that one should to compete in a 50 mile race. Especially when it’s a National Championship! I know to always disregard what others do in training but when you hear the weekly mileage that ultra runners are tackling the doubt starts to creep in. Embarrassing as it is to admit I had only run one 50+ mile week this year – I hit 83 miles 3 weeks before Cayuga and that was only because I took a week off of work andoff of the bike. While that week felt great and gave me the confidence I needed going into Cayuga, it was almost double what I was hitting in the months prior and once again my race proved that it wasn’t enough.
I think I’ve done the best I could juggling ultra training with duathlon and triathlon training, but it has become less fun and more stressful as I pick and choose where to cut corners. I’m cheating myself in both sports by not fully committing to either training plan.
To be inside my head the last few weeks… In a matter of 3 days I went through 3 different thought patterns:
1) I think after this season I will hang up the bike and focus on ultra running.
2) I’m kidding myself if I think I can be a strong ultra runner. After Cayuga it’s time to cut out the trail running and start training hard on the bike.
3) My bike fitness is so far behind right now. I’m just going to get through Nationals and hang up the bike. I will switch my flight to Switzerland and find a destination ultra race for the fall.
I was in the shower the day before leaving for Duathlon Nationals when #3 popped into my head. So I quickly shut down those thoughts realizing that this was not the mindset I should be in 2 days before I had to race on my bike! I would re-visit it after the race. Now, three weeks later with not a crank turned on my bike since May 14th, and the 50 mile race behind me, I am still left without a plan. And I need to decide what my next move will be so I can focus on a new training block.
I also think – does it really matter? Can’t I be good in both sports and be happy without being my best? Right now I’m not sure I can. Last year I was okay with it and had a ton of fun but also really wore myself out in the summer with the back-to-back long races in different disciplines. I remained in a constant state of recovery-taper-race for over a month. While I really enjoyed the variety of races and challenge of switching gears after each race my results also left me disappointed when I felt I had more potential.
I know I have plenty more years of racing ahead of me but let’s face it – time is not standing still and I need to be realistic about my remaining “peak years”. Right now I’m unsure of which direction I will go – both for the remainder of this year and the next. I guess I still have some soul-searching to do. Every time I think I’ve made my decision I second-guess myself. Honestly I am leaning towards taking time off the bike. Powerman Zofingen will always be there. But the thrill of racing on my bike is a hard thing to quit. It’s tough being an endurance junkie 😉
If anyone has faced a similar decision between two sports I would love to hear about it. For now I will keep hoping the answer comes to me.
Now that I have about 200 miles on my Topo Runventures, it’s time to tell you about them. Weighing in at 7.5 oz (my size) with a 2 mm drop these trail shoes have certainly impressed me.
The good news: the shoes felt comfortable out of the box
The better news: the more miles I throw at them, the better they feel
Topo Athletic is relatively new to the scene but they are making waves by providing high-quality shoes while utilizing feedback received from athletes to constantly improve their line.
Topo Athletic’s main feature is the wide toe box on their full line of shoes. As a runner with small, narrow feet I never saw a need to have a roomy toe box, and instead opted for that snug fit. After long training runs and races on trails my feet – especially my toes – would ache. I thought this was part of ultra running and shrugged it off. Now that I’ve been running in Topo shoes I realize that my toes don’t have to, and shouldn’t, hurt after long runs.
I will admit that I was skeptical of having a wide toe box on a trail shoe. Surely there would be slippage either laterally, into the front of the shoe, or both. This isn’t the case for me. In lacing the shoes I still get that snug fit through the midfoot and the heel is comfortably snug as well.
A view from above – check out the room in the toe box
Benefits of a wide toe box include:
your toes will splay naturally, making them stronger
allows more power in the toe-off
provides a stable platform
The upper is made of a durable, dual layer, rip & abrasion resistant mesh. I have put quite the beating on these shoes and so far the upper is showing no signs of wear or weakness. The dual layer has an added bonus of helping to keep debris out, but at the same time allowing breathability.
Dual layer rip-proof mesh upper
Another detail I find very useful is the ample toe bumper. I’m not the most graceful runner on trails so between the roomy toe box and the sturdy rubberized cap my toes have not complained once!
Toe bumper for added protection
A stand-out feature on this model is the midsole which includes compressed EVA on top of a full length TPU rock plate (which you can see at various spots on through the outsole).
A view of the TPU rock plate through the outsole
In New Mexico I encountered sharp rocky terrain that I do not see as much on my local trails. Not once did I find a “soft spot” on the shoe where I could feel sharp rocks.
I was most skeptical about the outsole of the Runventure. Mainly because I have been accustomed to trail shoes with aggressive soles and deep lugs. During my first true test – a technical run in wet conditions – I started out holding back on the wet rocks and descents. However I quickly gained trust once I found that these shoes had great traction and before long I was pushing the envelope to truly test their grit. I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) by their performance.
All terrain outsole with breaks to allow for a smooth ride
They may lose some traction on super muddy or loose terrain but in exchange they maintain the minimal ground feel. When I raced at TNF 50k it was a mudfest. At times I was wishing I had a lugged shoe with more traction to get through that muck, but quickly realized that I was happy to not be carrying around the extra weight of mud caked into the tread.
The Topo Runventure offers a ton of protection in every area of the shoe while also maintaining a light weight and minimalist feel. I even heard that Maggie Guterl raced in the Runventures at The Georgia Death Race, where she earned her Golden Ticket to Western States! If that’s not a testament to these shoes… Congrats Maggie!
If you’re interested in trying the Topo Runventure, or any of Topo Athletic’s shoes, you can use code TOPOKLINE20 for 20% off your order. If you want to know more about any of their shoes feel free to contact me!