Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Season Wrapped Up

With the 2009 race season wrapped up for me I am currently not training for anything and my next race isn't until January.

Daily runs, lifting, working, enjoying my boys, enjoying life. When I'm not racing I don't have a lot to share!

Have a fantastic Holiday Season, it is already upon us!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Why a Raw Vegan Diet?

I’ve received many email and comments relating to eating a raw diet. Why? What do you eat? How do you prepare? How much money does it cost? and unfortunately, what about the protein? That’s the most unfortunate comment of all; it shows that so many buy into the great protein myth. After reading and researching so very much, it turns out we really only need approximately 20-25 grams of protein each day. I hit at least that many grams each day eating only fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. I am usually in the 40-45 gram range.

For the past few years I had been eating a diet high in animal protein. I believed that I needed in excess of 100 grams of protein each day to create a lean muscular build. I hadn’t researched plant based diets at this point.

During April and May of this past year I received mailed letters from Costco stating that the beef I had purchased during these two months had been contaminated with ecoli.

In June I received a phone call from the processor of the grass fed steer I had purchased stating that my beef had been processed in a facility where ecoli had been detected.

In July I watched the movie FOOD, INC. The movie struck a chord deep within me. I began to read all that I could about a plant based diet. The books by Michael Pollan: In Defense of Food, Omnivores Dilemma and The Botany of Desire fueled my curiosity. I researched the topic thoroughly.

One day in June, I recall it vividly, I decided that for this day I wasn’t going to eat any animal products. No chicken, no beef and no eggs. No eggs! I was eating egg whites every single morning. Even though I really didn’t like them, I felt that I ‘should’ eat them. I felt that I needed to begin my day with protein so that is what I was doing.

For this one day I began the day with oatmeal and a banana. For lunch I had a large salad with a variety of field greens, kale, onion, carrot, mushrooms and topped it off with garbanzo beans. I was well satisfied and it was a great tasting lunch. For dinner I was at a loss. No beef. No chicken breast? What would I eat? I had found that if I ate more than one processed carb meal during the day I could usually count on a weight gain. I was very leery of having the corn tortilla, bean and veggie wrap that I was preparing. I ate the burrito and it was very good. I snacked on fruits during the day. I was satisfied and I didn’t miss the animal products at all. I didn’t even miss the skim milk in my coffee!

I was eating a vegan diet and was really surprised at how good it felt. I wondered if my muscle would shrink away. I wondered if I would be able to lift weights as heavy as I had been. I wondered if I would gain weight from the carbohydrates.

No, I didn’t lose any muscle, I could lift just as heavy and the carbohydrates didn’t make me fat. Cutting back on the meat, thereby cutting back on the total calories and fat in my diet, created a weight loss, not a weight gain.

I happily went along eating a vegan diet for the next few weeks when I began to realize I felt best when eating mostly raw vegetables and fruits. I would realize at the end of the day, when I was full of energy, that I had consumed only raw items. A smoothie of spinach and banana for breakfast, a huge fruit plate for lunch and a big green salad of kale, onion, tomato and carrot for dinner with fruit for snacks in between was when I felt best. I began to eat this way more often and began to notice a few things.

I had a bit of a detox period. The initial detox period seemed to last about two weeks. My symptoms included bad breath, chills, headaches, some daytime drowsiness, and dry skin. My teeth felt like they were growing carpet upon them. I began to carry my toothbrush with me to work. I seemed to be shedding my skin. Even dry brushes didn’t help during this two week detox period. At about day 10 I began feeling consistently good on this diet.

After the first 10 days I began to notice other changes.

Mental clarity. When eating raw foods I found that it felt as though a cloud had lifted. I didn’t realize the full feeling of clarity I felt mentally until I went back to cooked foods, then I noticed it immediately. As soon as I went back to eating non cooked items, the clarity returned.

Digestion. By eating raw foods my digestion process was very quick. I didn’t have any stomach upset, or problems running with a stomach that wouldn’t empty.

Energy. I couldn’t believe the energy I felt. I wasn’t tired. I needed less sleep. I began to wake at 430 on weekends because I wanted to and my body was ready to wake up for the day. Amazing.

I find that sometimes the fruit is too sweet to me. I have to ‘tone’ it down with a cleansing stalk of celery or cucumber. A shake of bananas, romaine and celery is wonderful. For some reason blended or juiced pineapple with garlic is good. The garlic cuts the sweetness of the pineapple.

I have run 2 100 mile races while eating a high raw diet.At Leanhorse 100, in August, I consumed a few vegan items pre race. Microwaved sweet potato and oatmeal pre race and Hammergel during the race. The race was fabulous. Recovery was quick and swift.

By the time Javelina Jundred 100, last week, came around I had been eating a raw diet for 7 weeks. I consumed raw pre, during and post race. Again, the race went terrific and recovery was even better. I had no swelling, no aches or pains at all. I was, I am, amazed.

My endurance level hasn’t dropped at all while changing my eating habits, nor has my weight lifting. As a matter of fact I seem to expend less energy now while running. I can run faster without raising my heart rate as high as before. I can’t explain it.

I have been researching raw diets and raw diets for athletes , in particular. I’ve found a wealth of information and other ultramarathoners who are eating a raw diet. Who knew?

High fat or low Fat? I found that when I consumed raw sunflower seeds, cashews and whole avocados as well as olive oils, I felt like I had a barrel of oil in my stomach. Many of the raw recipes that I found were full of plant fats; over 60% of the recipe’s calories came from fat!

I found that there are two camps of raw foodists: high fat and low fat. There are some who believe you can eat all the nuts/seeds/oils/fat fruit and veggies necessary to raise your calories to the necessary level and there are those that believe one should consume a low fat raw vegan diet of approximately 80/10/10. I have to agree with the 80/10/10 camp. High fat is just not a healthy way to eat. Even high plant fat. Some raw diets consist of 70% of calories coming from fat as the veggies don’t provide many calories. If you don’t consume higher calories from fruits (bananas, mangoes) to reach your daily calorie requirement you will do so with fats instead. While researching low fat raw vegan diets by Dr. Douglas Graham, Roger Haeske and Frederick Patenaude I was happy to see that I could trust the way that I felt and the way that the higher fats were making me feel.

At this point I continue to eat a raw diet, however I can’t say that I won’t eat steamed yams or roasted brussel sprouts again. I love the flavor of those two items and when Ifeel the need, I will consume them. I don’t believe I’ll eat animal products again, ever. I just feel so good without them, I wouldn’t want to feel the way they make me feel again.

Cost. The average cost for my food is $53 a week. Yeah! I can't believe what a bargain it is. I shop at either Costco or Cub Foods. Most of the time I can find organic for every item I want to purchase. Costco has a great selection of items and I can buy bananas by the case.

There are a few questions that I’ve answered. I’m certainly not an experienced raw foodist. I am just eating as to what feels good, or great, to me.

I’m finding that juicing is something else that I enjoy very much. I may try a 7-10 day juice feasting trial soon after a bit more research...just out of curiosity.


Take sourdough bread and slice in half. Pull out the bread from the middle, leaving a bit of bread layer but not too much.

Step 2

I smear with a mix of mayo and dijon mustard. I add red onion, lettuces and pickles.

Step 3

Pile on the meat, cheese and whatever else you may want inside of your sandwich. Place top on and wrap tightly in saran wrap. Place heavy plate on top so it kind of smooshes it all together. I slice into 4ths.

Marvelous Muffeletta

The guys have been hunting each weekend from last month pretty much up until Thanksgiving.

This past weekend was the Minnesota Deer Opener. Troy called me on Saturday night to let me know he shot his first one. A big doe. Smart Buck was following doe through the woods, Troy couldn't get a shot at buck as he was hiding behind a tree. Doe trotted right out into the opening. Bam. Troy shot her right through the heart "just like I'm supposed to, Mom". He was pretty excited.

I reminded them that I would be working when they arrived home and asked what they might like for dinner. Not soup, not chili, too hot. They'd been hunting at 65F! How about Marvelous Muffeletta? One of their favorite sandwiches...

It would be ready for them when they arrived and I'd be home an hour or so later. Here is how easy it is to prepare: (next post)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Breville Juicer and Juice


No, not steroids, as I was once accused of taking. I took it as a compliment because it was directed toward me after lifting a PR and running a PR race. In this case I mean as in juicing fruits and vegetables for health.

When I first began eating a vegan diet, over 4 months ago now, I began each morning with a smoothie of dark greens and fruit. Many mornings I am still consuming these, however, I am now juicing regularly, too.

By juicing I am removing all of the fiber of the fruit and vegetable. With the fiber removed, fresh juice digests very easily, so I am not expending as much energy on digestion. This extra energy then becomes available for my body and mind.

Remember when I posted how difficult afternoon runs were for me; that I felt out of energy and my legs felt very tired? I really couldn't figure this out. I assumed it was just the change of schedule-from AM summer vacation runs to PM afternoon runs. The weekend rolls around and I have alive legs and all is well on the weekend AM runs.

Well, the past few weeks-two weeks prior to Javelina and this week-I found that my afternoon runs no longer sucked. Three weeks ago I was still running a high mileage week. I was running 5 in the AM and another 5 in the PM. I was surprised that the 5 in the PM were good, energized runs. I couldn't figure it out. I went to the gym 3 weeks ago and lifted a few PR's. The week prior to the race I cut back on mileage, thereby figuring that the energy I felt during PM running was due to the taper.

This week I recovered so quickly from Javelina 100 that I was back to running AM/PM again, something I have never been able to do post 100.

I finally realized that a large part of the reason for the great PM runs and the recovery is due to the juicing. It has to be. Another part has to be due to the raw diet. I had absolutely no bloat/swelling at all. I went back to work on Tuesday in heels .. I never have been able to do this before. I had no soreness or stiffness whatsoever. Of course I do have the horribly dry skin, hair that falls out and cold sores that I normally have post 100. Yes, I always suffer these maladies post 100.

Back to the juicing...I usually juice approximately 32 ounces for a morning breakfast. I like to begin with a sweet base so I use 4-5 medium-sized carrots and an apple as a base for a 32-oz juice (one quart). By using carrots and apple as my base I am sure to have a sweet tasting juice no matter how many greens I add.

Carrots and apple are high in natural sugar. When I first began juicing I used few dark greens because the taste of the greens was so strong. I usually used the sweet base of carrot and apple and added celery, romaine, and cucumber as they are alkalizing and very mild in flavor. Over time I cut back on the carrot and apple and have increased the dark greens as I have adjusted to the flavor and find it wonderful and refreshing.

When I want a large supply of juice I'll use whole heads of celery as they have a high water content so I can get a lot of juice out of them.

After juicing the fruit base and the alkalizing vegetables I'll add the dark greens. My favorite dark greens to add are now kale and spinach, sometimes collards. I usually save my collards for wraps, using only the ripped ones for my juices and shakes.

Finally I'll add lemon or lime and ginger root. I juice the skin of the lemon or lime too, and about 1" of ginger root. I find that the citrus juice adds a zing to the juice, the ginger adds a great spike of flavor.

After accepting a part time position with Macy's a few months ago, my first purchase using my employee discount was a Breville Juicer. It works very very well. I place a plastic grocery bag or large Ziploc bag into the pulp container to catch the pulp, thereby making clean up even quicker. It stores nicely under my kitchen sink and clean up is a snap. It takes me less than 15 minutes to clean the fruit and vegetables, juice and clean the juicer.

Since juicing my desire for morning coffee has plummeted. I can't believe it. I have always enjoyed grinding my own beans each morning and preparing french press. I found that I now have desire for juice and not coffee! I didn't go through a caffeine withdrawal but I do find that I still want coffee one or two times a week..so I have it. Eventually I'll probably just give it up altogether. Again, this shocks me.

Today after my run I juiced 3 carrots, 1 apple, 1 head of celery, 1 head of romaine, about 2 cups of spinach, 1 lemon and 1" of ginger root. It is pictured above. Tasty!!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Javelina Jundred 100 Mile Trail Run Report

After running Javelina Jundred last year I immediately knew that I would be running it again. I hoped that I would be able to run it again in 2009. I enjoyed the race so much I really wanted to go back.

I’m so glad I was able to take part in Javelina Jundred 2009! Sometimes when high expectations are placed on an event there can be a let down, but JJ did not disappoint. The whole event was fabulous fun in the sun.

I flew into Phoenix on Friday, visiting the packet pick up at race headquarters, called Javelina Junction. By coincidence I seated myself next to Mary Croft and Wally Goettel of Minnesota. I knew they were going to be at the race but really wasn’t sure if I would recognize them. As I introduced myself to the runners on my left they overheard me on my right and introduced themselves. Small world!

The race start temperature was a balmy 49F. I wore a tank top and skirt with the Moeben sleeves I received from last year’s JJ. They were perfect! As the sunrise took place and I warmed up I was able to roll them down to my wrists. During the night I rolled them back up. What a great idea for Shannon to come up with.

I read the notes I had made from last year’s race, telling me not to bother with a flashlight at the start. I’m glad I took notes! About 5 minutes past the start the sky began to lighten up. It was going to be a beautiful day. I could feel it.

There were many runners dressed in Halloween costumes; Bumble Bees, Butterflies, Batwoman, Militia, Goddesses, Gods, it was pretty cool. I can’t imagine wearing those extra items for 30 hours. My own clothing becomes cumbersome during 100s! There was a girl who took pictures all along the course, throughout the whole race at the runners coming toward her. I carried my cameral for one loop and couldn’t wait to stash it in my drop bag.

Javelina Jundred is a 15.5 mile loop that is run alternating directions, 6 times with an additional 9 mile loop at the end for a total of 101.8 miles. The start/finish is called Javelina Junction where the huge start/finish/aid/camping/results/drop bags are placed. Coyote and Jackass Junction are the two smaller aid stations placed at 5 mile intervals. The course is a constant climb or downhill. You pretty much run up the mountain for 7 miles, run rolling hills for a mile and run down the mountain for 7 miles. There isn’t any flat trail at all. The trail is made up of sandy soils, some compacted, some loose and beachy with lots of rocks in some sections. There aren’t any roots. There isn’t any shade, it is totally exposed with a backdrop of mountains and cactus. It’s really quite pretty and so different to what I am accustomed to.

I went into the race with a few goals. One, as always, to pull out a finish, and two, to really race it, beat last year’s time of 23:15 or so. I’d try. The first loop went very well. I was feeling good, running well and I didn’t feel too warm. I went out faster than I did last year, but was still running within myself. I didn’t feel like I was overdoing it. I was keeping track of my splits and had a pace chart with me. I was sure to drink a full 24 oz of water between each aid station and while at the aid station I would gulp down another 10 oz of ice cold water. It felt refreshing and wonderful.

Nutrition: In July I began to eat an all vegan diet and by August I was eating mostly raw vegan. For Leanhorse 100 I added vegan items (oatmeal, cooked sweet potato) and had difficulty finding good food. Because I had to leave my cooler of food behind, as there wasn’t room for it in Tom and Nancy’s vehicle, I was dependant upon area supermarkets and restaurants which were not vegan/raw friendly. I wasn’t going to let that happen again. Live and learn, right? This time I made room for my Vitamix and researched markets in Scottsdale. I knew that I could find fresh produce. I bought a cheap cooler/ice packs at a Scottsdale Target so was able to mix and store my smoothies/juices before the race. I had pre-race items, race and post race items. Spinach, dates, bananas, nuts, mango, ginger root, lemon, etc. I was all set nutritionally. I decided not to use gels but rely on my raw foods instead. This would be the first time as for Leanhorse I used gels in addition to bananas and raisins. A bit scary but I wanted to test this out.

The aid stations had watermelon, bananas and oranges which I was able to use at Coyote and Jackass. I had my cooler at Javelina Headquarters, drinking smoothies every lap. They didn’t upset my stomach and gave me plenty of energy. I was a bit nervous as I hadn’t put this nutrition into practice at another 100 mile race; only training runs.

As I came into Lap 1 I was on 21 hour pace; a little fast but I felt fine. Lap 2 and 3 and I was still on pace, feeling fine. My feet didn’t hurt, I wasn’t too warm, there was plenty of ice on course. I was impressed with all that was offered as aid. I saw S Caps, crystallized ginger, ginger chews and capsules, tums, pepcid; all that one might need.

During Lap 3 the moonrise took place. It was so awesome! As the moon began to rise the coyotes began to howl. I just stood still, stunned. I heard them much more loudly this year than last. They were only a few feet away. I saw a pack of 12 and stopped dead in my tracks. I looked back and saw two men way in back of me. I waited for them. As they approached I told them I was a chicken and that I would follow them. We talked a bit and then they just trotted on down the hill and the coyotes scattered. I followed on their heels. The howling took place all night long!

At 45 miles I was starting to feel hungry. I came into JH and ate a ton of watermelon. It was so good; cold and wet. I couldn’t believe I was already at 45 miles. It didn’t seem that I had been running for so long. I was almost half way to the finish! I slurped back a spinach/banana smoothie and headed back out on the trail.

The next loop wasn’t so great. I began to feel tired and my skin was hot and chapped. I cold feel sunburn on my neck and my lips were raw. I began to talk negatively to myself and forgot that I should be celebrating the fact that I was out in beautiful Arizona, running the Javelina Jundred. Funny how things can change so quickly!

As I came into mile 60 I grabbed my iPod, hoping that the diversion would get me out of my funk. I was now on pace for 22 hours. Fine by me! I looked around to see if I could find another runner that I could hook up with but there was nobody going back out. Lots of runners dropped out at 60 miles. There were tons of them dropping. It was depressing. I had to get out of there. I walked over to my drop bag and took my headlamp and another smoothie. Before I knew it I was back out on the trails thinking about mile 75.

My music helped me, before I knew it I was having positive thoughts and ready to run hard again. I began to pass quite a few people and with each person I passed I felt a bit more motivation to go and catch the next one. It was something to engage my mind for a while. As I approached two guys running side by side they laughed at one another and told me that I was kicking their asses. I had to pass them and make sure I beat them to the finish!

I thought I could feel a vibration under my feet, upon the ground. I turned off my iPod and heard and felt this thundering noise. I just stood there, wondering what in the world was coming toward me. Pretty soon a group of 15 horses came into view! I had seen droppings from them all day long but had never had a view of them until now. They were on the trail, blocking my path. Again, I just stood there, waiting for someone else to scare them off the trail or waiting for them to leave. I wasn’t sure what to do so I began to talk with them, hoping they would soon leave. I looked back and nobody was in sight. I began to walk slowly toward them, talking to them in a sing-song voice like I do to Topaz. The just stood there looking at me, twitching their ears back and forth. I could tell they weren’t going to charge me or anything. I made sure that my light wasn’t in their eyes and slowly walked through the herd. They just twitched their ears back and forth and didn’t even pay any attention to me. I was being foolish for feeling fear.

For some reason the landscape made me feel very spiritual. I think it was the landscape that made me feel this way. I don’t know if it was the vegetation that was minimal, the mountains, the sun, the cactus, the full bright moon in the sky; or if it was the silence of the course, rarely was I running with anyone, I guess I don’t know what it was for sure, or what it was for sure. But many times I felt in awe of my surroundings and so thankful that I was able to be there, thanking whoever it was for creating such a lovely place and putting me there to enjoy it. I felt peaceful and full of joy. It was a wonderful feeling.

Mile 75 and I was tired, like sleepy tired. I normally consume Hammergel Espresso gels during 100s, and one every 30 minutes for the first 12 hours, but since I was running this one raw I was relying on whole foods only. My eyelids had become heavy and I felt like I could take a nap! There wasn’t any place to lay upon the trail as the cactus grew right to the trail-I would have to lay in pickers. No thanks. At mile 75 I decided I had to lay down for a bit. I knew that I would no longer be on pace for a PR but didn’t want to fall asleep on the trail either or while I was running. I filled up my bottle, grabbed a smoothie, a change of clothes and headed for my car. My lovely red down blanket was in my car. I set the timer on my iPhone and covered myself up. I fell asleep instantly. Before I knew it my timer was sounding and it was time to get a move on.

I wasn’t stiff at all from my rest, I felt refreshed and ready to move on out and finish up the last long lap. Oh thank god, I was ready to be done! I felt like I had new life in my legs as I ran my last long loop. I again was able to pass many people on the trail but I noticed that there were even less runners than during my last lap. So many runners go out too fast early, then burn up in the heat and have to drop. I’m just amazed at the drop rate. There was only a 40% finishing rate. Crazy.

As I came into mile 90 I was so excited. Oh, Jamil, place that necklace around my neck and let me get this party started! Jamil clasped the glow in the dark necklace upon me signifying I was on the last loop, the short loop, only 9 miles left! Amen.

I ran out of JH, passing a runner upon the trail. He began to talk in a quiet voice “Your running strong, I’m not. Your going to beat me. Oh man. Yup, your going to beat me” I just smiled and said I’d see him at the finish. I didn’t really see anyone else going out on this last loop, I saw many that were coming in to get their necklace.

As I was climbing up to Coyote I came upon Stephanie from AZ. I had seen her upon the course earlier and learned that she read my race report from last year and that this was her first 100. She asked how was it that I was passing her? I told her I had wheels upon my shoes! It was all that I could think of for a response. Congratulations, Stephanie on your first 100 mile finish! Way to go!!

I arrived Coyote for the final time, filling up my bottle with water and then headed down Tonto Tank trail for the finish. Tonto is an all downhill, sandy trail that I was able to bomb down last year. My sides were now killing me and I was lucky I could jog down the trail. Down down down I ran, the sun rising in the sky. I had hoped to finish before the sun rise but alas, I didn’t make it. I was fine with this. I ran hard, raced well and gave it what I could on this day.

My finish time was 24:38; 3rd in my age group, 7th girl of 41. What a blast! Thank you to all of the volunteers and of course Jamil, for making this race a fantastic one.

I don’t have any pain, stiffness or swelling. I was able to take Topaz for a little run this morning; I can’t believe how minimal recovery has become. I think this is due in large part to the nutrition I am currently eating. My body loves live plants!

Congratulations to all of the runners at Javelina Jundred. I feel honored to have shared the race with you!