Running down a PR at Cayuga Trails 50

Top 10 USATF Females. Photo: Jared Avigliano

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.

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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%!

Check out the video from the race!

 

 

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#FridayFuel – Avocado Chia Chocolate Mousse

Is it just me or has it been one heck of a week? Sooo…let’s talk dessert! Although dessert doesn’t always fit in to our training and racing goals, I’ll be the first to admit that there are many times when I’m craving something sweet & chocolatey. That’s why this super-easy Avocado Chia Chocolate Mousse is one of my favorites! And why it is featured on my Lighter profile.

How easy you ask?

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor
  2. Process
  3. Pour into serving dishes & pop in the fridge
  4. Eat 🙂

You do want to let this mousse chill for a few hours before enjoying, so I normally prepare it in the morning so that it’s ready for my after-dinner treat. I separate it into 4 serving dishes and seal tight. That’s almost a whole week of desserts!

**the recipe on the Lighter profile is for a single serving, the recipe on my page creates 4 servings

Avocado Chia Chocolate Mousse

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

When training volume is high and I need an extra dose of healthy fats this dessert/snack doubles to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (or use raw cacao powder for an extra boost of nutrients)
  • Âœ cup chia seeds
  • 4 Tbsp agave (or less if your taste allows – you can also use maple syrup)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high power blender and process for 3-5 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed.
  2. Pour into a serving dish, cover and chill for a few hours.

 

 

 

#FridayFuel – Ultimate Blueberry Beet Recovery Shake

Beet Recovery Shake

Photo: Lighter

I’m going to start sharing some of my favorite meals on Fridays. So let’s kick it off with my favorite smoothie! The Ultimate Blueberry Beet Recovery Shake is my go-to after a long or exceptionally taxing workout, or even when I just feel like I need a fresh, clean, nutrient-dense meal that I can enjoy at home or on the go! Sometimes I like to switch up the protein flavor and the fruit – right now I’ve been mixing it up with chocolate Vega One Nutritional Shake and strawberries.

This is the perfect recipe to share on my first #FridayFuel post as this week was also the launch of my profile on Lighter’s new site! If you find yourself wondering how to plan  meals to fuel your everyday training, need quick & easy nutrient-dense options with simple instructions on how to shop and prepare them, or are simply looking for some fresh ideas – Lighter is a service you should check out.

The site is full of leading healthcare providers, professional athletes, chefs, super parents and badass world changers who share their recommendations with you. Lighter simplifies the process by providing easy-to-use shopping lists to get the ingredients you need for your weekly menu and step-by-step instructions on how to create the meals. What an awesome service!

You can find the recipe for my Ultimate Blueberry Beet Recovery Shake on the recipe page of my site, or on my Lighter profile page. Give it a try and tell me what you think! 🙂

 

Ultimate Blueberry Beet Recovery Shake

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This beautiful smoothie packs a ton of nutrition, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories into one glass.

Ingredients


1/4 cup Biotta beet juice
1/2 cup tart cherry juice
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
1 scoop Vega Protein & Greens vanilla or chocolate
1 large handful of Kale
1 Tbsp Chia seeds

Directions

  1. Wash the kale and use just the leaves.
  2. Blend all ingredients in a blender until creamy.

Reasons Why I Love The Feed

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If you are not familiar with The Feed, let me introduce you. The Feed is a web-based sports nutrition store supplying athletes with the best fuel (and snacks) on the market. You’re in great hands with The Feed knowing that the team is composed of athletes who have tried and tested everything they are offering to their customers. I have been a customer for over a year now and if you have yet to order from them let me share with you some of the reasons why I love this service.

  1. Ease of searching for products. The site is super user-friendly with an extensive menu on the left of the screen giving you many options to narrow your search. Type of product you’re looking for, when you would be using it (pre-workout, post-workout, during workout, etc.), brand, and of course my favorite – dietary choice. That’s right – I hop on to The Feed and click on vegan which takes me to all of the products made for me 🙂
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  2. Single servings for everyone! I’m a sample girl for sure. Sports nutrition can be pricey, and I’m sure we’ve all made the mistake at some time or another where we buy the latest and greatest product only to find that either we don’t like it or it doesn’t work for us. Most of the products you find on The Feed come in single serving size! It’s a great way to test before you commit to a new product. Or just to add some variety to your life.
  3. The box. Everyone loves the box. While I know that many people are tickled pink by the personalized message you receive inside every box, for an super-organized person like me there is even more to love.
    These are a few of my favorite things...

    These are a few of my favorite things…

    I will admit, the first thing I do when I open my box is read the message, but then I take stock of what’s inside and close it back up to be packed away. Beyond using The Feed to try new products, my main reason for shopping with them is to purchase everything I need for a race at once and have it all tidied up and safe inside its box ready for my race. I started this at Cayuga Trails 50 last year. It was my first 50 miler and I wanted to make sure I had plenty of nutrition and hydration for before, during, and after the race. I simply logged on to The Feed, clicked on all of the necessities (Skratch Labs hydration mixes and energy chews, Huma gels, Beet Elite shots, and Vega Sport Pre-Workout & Recovery Accelerator), reviewed everything in my shopping cart, and when the box arrived I was able to pack it in my bag for my trip. It was even more helpful for my trip to Switzerland. I was there for a whole week prior to the race and when you travel abroad you never know what you will and won’t find to meet your needs. I was able to purchase all of my pre, during, and post-race fuel along with plenty of healthy snacks to keep me well-fed throughout the week leading up to the race.

Those are my main reasons for using The Feed, but there are still plenty of other perks. They actually send you emails that you want, and not too frequently. If there is a new item they think you may want to check out, if they’re having a special, even tips on fueling from the pros. I always enjoy getting a code for a free water bottle. It’s the little things… There is a blog on the site that features some cool articles on nutrition and training. If you’re not sure where to start, they offer pre-made boxes (that you can specialize to some degree) for different sports or dietary needs, like the Vegan Nutrition Box 🙂 They even offer subscriptions. You can either build your own box to be delivered to you monthly so you have control over what’s in your box along with how much you’re spending, or go with one of their boxes. And there’s free shipping on all orders over $49!

So, now you know why I love The Feed and use their service for my training and racing needs. If you’re looking to try some new products or just want an easier way to order your favorite nutrition products I highly recommend it. And while you’re at it, feel free to use my referral link to get $5 off 🙂  https://thefeed.com/?raf=14308

Happy Training in 2016!

What Vegan Athletes Eat

Thankfully the longtime question “where do you get your protein?” is fading. I think it’s becoming quite obvious that 1) people, even athletes, think they need way more protein than they really do, and 2) you can meet and exceed your daily protein requirements on a plant-based diet.
pyramidThe question that I am constantly asked is simple: “What do you eat?” It is a question I love. It shows that people are curious about my diet and really want to know more about it. I am always happy to discuss food 🙂 Since it is asked of me so often, I decided to share some of the main staples.

Breakfast
My day absolutely, positively starts with a banana. Bananas are chock-full of greatness. Vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, biotin, copper & fiber. They’re easy to travel with because they come in a cozy little protective shell, and you can find them almost anywhere.
banana banana2

A banana along with a bottle of Vega Pre Workout Energizer get me ready for my first training session of the day.

After training I enjoy a bottle of Vega Recovery Accelerator and right now my go-to breakfast is homemade muesli. In the winter I’ll go with oatmeal and I’m also a fan of muffins. Muesli is the flavor of the season for me right now.
muesliI mix gluten-free oats, raisins, almonds, coconut flakes, cinnamon and soak it in dark chocolate almond milk. That hits the spot! The oats are a low glycemic carb, almonds provide essential fats and protein, shredded coconut contains selenium (an antioxidant), and raisins provide several essential minerals like potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, zinc, copper and sodium. They are also rich in dietary fibers, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. These micronutrients are very important for an athlete’s recovery. Cinnamon is a powerhouse not only because it is rich in anti-oxidants, but it also has been shown to reduce inflammation, reduce oxidative stress and ease muscle soreness.

Lunch
I’ve been on a curry kick lately. Not only because it’s delicious – it’s also a great meal for athletes. Coconut milk is full of electrolytes, ginger is an anti-inflammatory and a digestive aid, curry is good for circulation, and turmeric is also an anti-inflammatory. I have found an awesome curry recipe that is super easy to make and store for lunches throughout the week!
curry

http://vegweb.com/recipes/coconut-quinoa-and-sweet-potato-curry

Another nourishing and delicious meal that a friend shared is super-easy to make in bulk. https://katepaicefroio.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/cabbage-sweet-onion-red-lentils/

Cabbage is a powerhouse for fiber and vitamin K. It’s also high in sulfur which is great for the skin. Paired with the vitamin C content of the cabbage, the phytochemicals in onions improve immunity. Among the benefits of lentils, one of the best is their high protein content. Lentils provide slow-burning energy and are a great source of iron.

If I haven’t pre-made my lunches for the week I’ll go with a big salad of spinach, tempeh, sunflower seeds, and whatever vegetables I have in the fridge. The previous night’s leftovers always work well too 🙂

Dinner
Dinner is where I can really have fun if I have enough time in my day 😉 I could go on and on about wonderful meals I love to try – if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram I’m sure you’ve seen quite a few! For this blog I’ll try to keep it short and sweet. A go-to dinner for me is simple: grain (rice, quinoa, millet), green and/or other veggies (kale, broccoli, squash, brussel sprouts, etc.) and tempeh. I sautĂ© the tempeh in coconut oil and Bragg Liquid Aminos. Quick and easy – covers all the bases.

I am a creature of habit and can easily eat the same thing day after day. Having awesome recipes at my fingertips helps me to branch out and try new things that I rarely have the time to experiment with on my own. Here are some of my favorite recipe resources:

Thrive Kitchen – http://thriveforward.com/thrive-kitchen/
Vegan Richa – http://www.veganricha.com/
Oh She Glows – http://ohsheglows.com/
Nom Yourself – http://www.nomyourself.com/
Post Punk Kitchen – http://www.theppk.com/

Snacks
Who doesn’t love snacks? The word alone makes me smile. Here are a few of my main squeezes. Curry cashews, apples, humus with veggies, sweet potatoes. I sometimes like to make my own trail mix with seeds, nuts, dried fruit. Okay, and maybe some dark chocolate pieces!
cashewAnd I can’t forget the best of the best – avocado. Mother Earth’s most precious gift to me 🙂 Give me a half of an avocado, a salt shaker, a spoon, and I’m one happy girl! It has so many uses, but another one of my favorites is mixed with chia seeds, cocoa and agave as a pudding. As you can tell, getting those EFA’s is important to me. And important to my body. Don’t skimp on those healthy fats!
avocado

If I’m enduring a tougher training block, or even if I feel like my body just needs some extra fuel, a VegaOne shake is the perfect addition to my day. My favorite flavor is French Vanilla and I add a scoop to some water, a big handful of spinach, and some fruit in the Vitamix and I don’t need to worry about my body not getting what it needs! Check out this profile:VegaOne-All-in-One-GraphicI also have a sweet tooth, but eating processed sweets doesn’t fit into my training. Recently I’ve been addicted to these fudge bars that are raw and you keep in the freezer. The perfect snack at the end of my day with 7 simple ingredients: dates, almonds, walnuts, cocoa powder, bananas, almond butter & agave.
fudgie barIt’s as easy as that. Simple ingredients, simple combinations. I’m never left craving anything because I’m giving my body everything I need using clean, whole foods. In the near future I will write about my training and race nutrition. In the meantime, always feel free to ask me any questions. I love food, I love talking about it, and I love sharing ideas!