Scott Jurek's Vegan Strawberry Pancakes

These are SO good - please try them!  You really don't need syrup, they're already pretty sweet because of the strawberries.  Plus, warm & filling - need I say more?!?

First, I mixed a double batch in a container.  Isn't it beautiful?  Recipe below is for 1 batch (6-10 pancakes if they're small)

1/4 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat flour (grind 1/4 cup old fashioned oats in food processor)
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1/4 cup barley flour (I couldn't find, so used another 1/4 cup whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup ground flax seed or chia seed
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups almond milk
3 tablespoons olive oil (I only put in 2 for an entire double batch - obviously, this adds calories fast - yes, good calories, but you may be able to omit more)
5 packets Truvia (or 2 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups fresh strawberries, cut small (probably could do blueberries, bananas, ?)
oil for pan
Maple syrup for topping

It might seem like a lot of different flours to round up, but it's worth it if you can make up a bigger batch & just have on hand.

Mix together and cook like a normal pancake.  Enjoy while hot off the pan.  You can taste the different flour textures.  SOOOO good! 

Nate added more fresh strawberries to the top of his, but I was content without.

I can tell, you're already looking forward to your next long run/ski/bike so you can have these!!

Calories: 670 per half batch above (made with just 1 Tbsp of oil).  So make sure to find someone special (or 3!) to share it with :)  5:1 carb/protein ratio.  Flax seed and oil provide good fat calories as well - so this is darn near a perfect food choice!


Math Equation

Tropical Storm Bopha (flooding and 20+ mph winds through Sunday evening) + just starting on antibiotics to kick this sinus infection (now over a week since I got sick - thank you 3 year old niece) + SUPER busy/stressful week at work = CIM???

Another side effect to trying to draw out a taper -- your body knows you tapered a month ago & were going to race THEN.  It's confused by trying to taper and race again.  It now has gone into a mode where it gains a few pounds (I've tried not to! Believe me!), loses some muscle mass, etc (also because I haven't been running high mileage in quite some time now).  The weight observation is curious.  It's like my body knew it was racing NYC and naturally got down to my lowest racing weight ever (granted, just by .2 pounds, and not quite at my original "race weight goal" but still! I was so proud!).  Now that that's over with, I'm not running as much, it goes into its natural cycle of gaining a few pounds to get back to my training weight.

Jim Patterson talks to me all the time about the natural rhythm of things, natural ups and downs, encouraging me to observe them and listen to them.  It's been interesting to observe those natural cycles within my own body.  I know, I know - doing this whole two taper thing is NOT observing the natural rhythm of things, so not the best for me, but hey, I had to at least give this a try (I also had Jim's blessing on the racing decision, so even he made an exception to his rule, in case you were wondering).

It's been harder than typical for me to stay positive, especially since I've been so sick lately & haven't hit my workouts, but I know it's important to think ALL THINGS POSITIVE, so will be trying my absolute hardest to do this.  Starting now :).

I am strong.
I am fit.
It's only Tuesday, race is Sunday.  Plenty of time for the cold to clear up.


Lots of updates?

It's been a while, and I guess there are a lot of updates... although nothing really important.

First:  Like I said, I booked the tickets.  I got a lot of great advice from people who I really trust.  A few of the things that stuck out for me:

"You only regret the opportunities you don't take"

"What's the worst that could happen?"  The worst would be running a crappy race because my body 1. was specifically tapered for NYC and has had a lot of ups and downs since trying to extend the taper for 4 weeks, 2. work stress and hours have majorly impacted running post NYC since I left a lot on my plate for after the marathon (thinking I'd be done and have nothing to do but work, work, work!).  But honestly, is running a crappy time that bad?  At least I would know and not be wondering for the rest of my life.

"The best advice I can give is to try to let go of NYC" - from someone who also went through the heartbreak of an unexpected change of plans.  Her personal stories have been SO helpful.  I never expected to be so affected by the cancellation, but it's good to know that I'm not alone.

"Time to start acting elite" (part of a much longer, spot on email - but I've thought a lot about this in general.  It's true.  I have to realize that I am an elite marathoner & start acting like one.  No more of this freaking out about running with Olympians, will I fail at this workout/race/etc - time to buck up, realize I'm fast, and THINK fast)

"It's just money, right" - a recent grad donating a larger amount to the GAC XC Nationals fund we collected.  Made me realize that even though the tickets were expensive, it IS only money.  And what else would I spend it on, honestly? 

Plus, I was able to find a wonderful friend in Sacramento that is willing to put both Nate and I up for the whole trip - which makes it even more fun. 'Nuff said.  Tickets are booked :).

Second:  Training.  The legs felt terrible last week.  Last week's mid-week workout was so bad I called it quits after 2 reps (6 planned).  First time I've done that in a long time.  I was just working WAAYY to hard for slow times, straining with each stride.  I know that feeling and know that when I try to work through it I put myself behind for a week or more.  I don't need that.  I need the legs to feel good, fast, quick, and easy.  The second workout last week went better, 2x30 minutes at MP.  I think I averaged 6:10s or so for each segment on legs that didn't feel that great.  I slowed to 6:17 and 6:19 for the last couple of miles that were uphill and into the wind.  That gave me confidence that I am fit for a PR, since my PR is currently at 6:15 pace. 

This same workout before NYC was a bit of a struggle as I was still working through drained/very tired feeling legs.  So that also gives me confidence.

I'm excited for a 3x10min tempo workout tomorrow.  The legs have been feeling much better this week, probably because I was able to rest a bit more this weekend & first part of this week.  Amazing what a little sleep will do for you.

Third: I can't comment a lot on this yet, but I have made some new life goals.  Sorry for the clif hanger, especially since it'll likely be late Dec/Jan until I can say anything.  But I'm pumped :).  And a reason for you to keep checking back here post-marathon, since my life won't be that exciting then and I'm sure you won't be as interested either :)!  As Scott Jurek's dad would say, "Sometimes you just do things".  Oh, and I have a fun "bucket" list I'm excited to share after CIM!  I can't share it now since my rule is only to focus on the race at hand - once that's done you can start scheming the plan for afterwards.

Fourth, speaking of Scott Jurek, if you haven't read his book yet, and have an interest in eating well/vegan/training a lot, pick it up.  It's a really fun read.  Although I eat fairly well now (except for the occasions when I'm really stressed out and tired at work... like the time I got home at 10pm last week - and brought home a handful of fun sized candy for our "bowl" at home... except once I ate one on the way home, I ate them all... it was as if my brain was turned off, the sugar tasted so wonderful, and I frankly didn't care about much of anything at that point.  Doesn't happen often, but still not excusable.  Please don't judge!), I am so inspired by stories like this.  I'm going grocery shopping tonight and am picking up a lot of items found in his recipes and just great-for-you-foods in general.  I sort of wonder how much of my diet I could make plant-only (today I decided would be a 90% plant day, with the exception of 5 egg whites because I simply love them too much!).  Hmm, might be a fun experiment :).  Time to get on that "recipes" tab here!!

Alright, that's all for now.  Back to work for me!


Alright, peeps :)

I booked my flight tonight.  2 weeks, let's get after this!



I feel like I'm on that amusement ride that you just want to STOP.  It was sort of fun at first, but now it's just been going on for too long...

This week has been tough.  First, presentations at work and the resulting changes to the plan after we roll everything up - as well as year end - have made for some pretty late nights.  I'm exhausted.  Last night I left work after 9, so got home at 10.  I was supposed to go for a short shake out PM run, but I was just drained... this is the second PM run that I've missed in the last week and a half due to work.  Not good... I'm all about working hard, until it interferes with my ability to fit in my workouts (because that means I'm working WAAAAY too many hours!)!  Priorities!

Second, marathon indecision.  At first, CIM didn't respond so I had decided to run Tucson (after looking at Las Vegas, Jacksonville).  Vegas was a great option, but it starts at 3, but I am not good at running in the heat especially when I'm not acclimated.  Plus, Tucson is a net downhill and my goal at this point is just to run a PR.

CIM emailed me this Monday, apologizing for the delay, asking one of the elite coordinators to forward the link/code.  Super!

Except now... Tucson or CIM?  After a little deliberation, I decided CIM would offer a lot more support and people around my speed.  Thank you, John Miller, for helping with that decision!  There was just one guy at 2:35 and two at 2:40 at Tucson.  What if one of them didn't come this year?  It just had the potential to be lonely (although I am still very intrigued by the race... if you told me you had free plane tickets out there, I think I'd jump at the chance...)

I was able to find lodging, and was about to book our flights out last night, but something told me to wait.  Do you really want to do this?  Is your heart in it?  I think part of the reason I'm not super excited about it now is because I'm truly exhausted - from work, from thinking about where to race/when/etc.  Plus, it doesn't help that I botched my mid-week workout :(.

As always, Jim the miracle chiropractor and worldly thinker, talked me through the situation:  If I were looking at my training as a 4 year process, it probably would be best to just shut it down now and focus on a really speedy spring marathon.  Point taken.  But then I brought up that you just never know when you'll be forced to shut things down for a while (injury) -- so if you're in PR shape and don't race, won't you look back and regret that decision? 

He countered with two thoughts:  1.  You shouldn't let the 20% dictate the 80%, meaning: don't let the chance of future injury dictate what you're doing now
and 2. Whatever you do, you need to put the "fun" back in it.  Think of it as a one night stand after a big breakup:  You're going to go out, have a wild night, etc - and even though it's totally wrong, selfish, it'll be totally right.  It's exactly what you need to get over the breakup

HA!!  He is so wonderful.  Every time I think of the race in these terms, I smile & decide that I should race! :)

I know I just need to decide - either book the tickets and continue working on getting the legs feeling springy and fast - or take a week or so off, plot out goals for 2013, and start building an enormous mileage base & working on a little track speed.  Except I find myself completely unable to decide...


I'm hoping my workout planned for Saturday will help me decide.  I'll get some sleep this weekend & see how the legs are feeling.  Sorry this post is such a downer - it probably sounds like I should shut it down?  Except I really do love racing & think I could race to a new PR... which would be so much fun...

PS - Thank you to everyone who has contacted me, through here or through FB, with offers of places to stay (saving on lodging is key since last minute flights are so expensive :( ).  How absolutely awesome!  I promise to write back - just have to decide on things!


100+ miles instead of cheeseburgers and chocolate

Where do I begin?  This week has been such a roller coaster of emotions...  long post, beware.

I guess the biggest up and down has been the abrupt change in training.  Instead of tapering and racing, I have switched gears completely.  Starting Saturday, the first day I could get out after flying into NYC, I've logged 81 miles (6 days).  So, this will easily be a 100 mile week for me.  Much different than the "no running!" I was looking forward to.  I'm back to being careful about what I eat, instead of allowing myself to eat whatever the heck I feel like/gain weight (in all honesty, it isn't a huge deal for me to eat healthy, I actually love it once I'm into the habit of it - but when you're looking forward to greasy cheeseburgers & all of that Halloween candy lying around the house... ). 

One comment about the switch:  I have felt great all this week.  I know it's because I tapered for the marathon, which didn't happen, and I'm running on that.  But my legs haven't felt this great since my string of 100 mile weeks this summer.  So perhaps ramping back up, keeping the legs feeling like this, and then tapering again may suit me very well.  I also wonder if my body just responds better to higher mileage.  I have never felt good running 70-80 mile weeks.  Every time I'm up near 100+, I feel different, faster, more efficient... hmmm....

Mentally, the cancellation was a big downer for me as well.  As I've said before, I was SO ready to race against the professional field.  I was ranked 16th going into the race (1 woman faster than me couldn't race due to injury) and I thought I could beat 5 of the women ranked ahead of me.  I thought MAYBE if another American woman was injured, had trouble during the race, etc -- that TOP 10 (!!!) might be in the cards.  It would have to take a great day from me, but I was ready.  I was mentally and physically prepared to hurt like I've never hurt before.

As people have said, "You'll be invited back next year!".  True, I may.  But I don't know if the race will have the allure it did for me this year, if that makes sense? 

People have also suggested other marathons.  On Saturday after the cancellation, I told Nate that I thought I might just need to hang up the shoes for a while.  This has been a long training cycle for me.  I've loved it, but I've pushed really hard, physically and mentally, and I think I just need to step back for a little while (if even a week or two!) before starting to train hard again.  So the thought of another marathon wasn't appealing at all.  Another hard tempo workout sounded deathly unappealing - much less another month of hard tempo workouts. 

That changed during Sunday's hard effort with "the Olympians" :).  As we clipped along, I realized how much I love running, love how efficient and strong I feel (there is something very magical about breathing in crisp fall air, feeling it being used so efficiently, feeling your feet dance across the pavement).  I also realized that I love working as hard as I can.  The "you can hang on for one more mile" mentality of the run was so perfect - I was able to find my limit and push past it for another mile or two.  It was hard, but also satisfying.  I just ran with two Olympians for 15 freaking miles! :) That run also helped me realize how strong I've become in the last year.  Even before the Trials, I don't know if I could have done a workout like that.

Adding to that was a 6x1 mile tempo effort on Tuesday with a GAC XC alumni who lives in NYC.  Can I just tell you how cool it is that the GAC runners and alumni have such ties to each other, that someone who has officially "retired" from any sort of running for the last year is willing to go out & help pace me in a hard workout?  He could only do the first 1/4 of each repeat (fighting a cold as well, nonetheless!), but it was so awesome.  He and Nate also jumped in for the last 1/4 mile of the last repeat.  I gave it everything I had... to be paced by two Gusties, in a random place like NYC, is beyond words.  It makes me very proud to be a Gustie.  I also nailed the workout: 5:59, 5:57 (into very strong headwind), 5:50, 5:46, 5:43, and 5:40 (told you I gave an extra push that last repeat).  The last 4 reps I went 3 minutes into the wind, 3 minutes with it.  This was a big confidence booster - especially after a long hard run just 2 days prior.

So... back to my original point:  another marathon.  I am now looking forward to racing, wherever that may be.  I still need to rid myself of NYC.  As Jim, my miracle worker chiropractor said today (he was paraphrasing a philosopher, I'm further paraphrasing):

"To understand, you have to dig up the tree, examine it's roots carefully, before discarding"

I teared up. I'm not sure how he comes up with these things, but this is so applicable!  With any injury, lost goal, misfortune, etc., you really have to examine the roots of everything, thoroughly, before you can truly move on.

I haven't heard back from CIM yet, which is a huge bummer.  I'm giving them until Friday... but I think I may need to move on to a different race :(.  The next two options are Tucson and Jacksonville.  Tucson's race director offered to find me someone to stay with (so nice!), but it also sounds like there might be a few Red Wing connections in Tuscon (yeah, snowbirds!).  That would be a lot of fun. 

Tucson (Dec 8th) is appealing because of its course profile.  Check it out.  Is that considered cheating?  CIM is also downhill, but still OTQ legal.  Tucson would not be :).  But, right now the point of racing would be to set a new, awesome PR.  Wonder how much the altitude would affect me?  Would it negate the net downhill? Things to weigh:  There aren't as many runners here - I'd likely be running with the top guys.  There also isn't likely to have much for elite support (i.e. bottles, ability to drop clothing right at the start, elite porta potties - I am SO spoiled!!!).  I'd have to think through my gel plan for the race.  I don't know where to stuff 5+ gels on me!! 

Running times did a great article on the effects of uphill/downhill/altitude courses here.  Very interesting!

Jacksonville is the next weekend (16th).  The course is supposed to be fast and flat, and a few more faster guys racing.  They also have prize money, which could be fun :).

So - lots of changes :).  One thing I will say, though, is that I've realized just how wonderful (and how large!) my support team is.  Two women racing CIM have reached out to me, race directors were willing to try to help, the YMCA group is going to try to reach out to their contacts (friends, family) to help me find lodging, Chris willing to pace me through an awful workout... that is simply amazing.  I am so blessed. :)



Instead of racing today...

I woke up this morning and my first thought was:  I'd be an hour into NYC marathon at this point.  It felt so weird to wake up and get dressed for a training run.

It wasn't a regular training run.  I was meeting 4 very fast women - Amy Hastings and Kim Smith (Olympians in the 10k and marathon, respectively), as well as Michelle Frey (Minneapolis!!) and Katie DiCamillo (10ker who was going to debut here in NY).  I was nervous, not going to lie.  My goal was to hang on as long as possible.

We started our first mile in 7:10 or so.  I showed my watch to Nate and that point and raised my eyebrows.  This pace is very foreign to me and take a lot of effort.  My long stuff is typically 8 min/mile, and MP is 6:05 or so -- stuff in between feels awkward (and feels fast). 

I warmed into the pace with them - down to 6:20s or faster.  Ironically, paces like that feel more normal to me (perhaps because it's  closer to race pace for me, so isn't in that weird "in between" world).  They were out for an easy jog, I was definitely working. 

At mile 4, I told myself to hang on until mile 10 or 12.  As the miles clicked along (they go by fast when you're running 6:00 pace!), I kept telling myself, "Just a mile or two more!".  I was able to hold on for 15 miles.  I'm really proud of that.  The last mile of the 15 miler was in 6:09 pace... not too shabby.  Kim, Michelle, Katie, and Amy went 22 miles.  I had to duck out after 15 with them, doing 20.5 mile total (the last 5.5 were very slow).

After the run I gobbled down a lot of great food (yeah, organics! the hospitality suite is first class) then got dressed for a dinner.  That was also really cool.  I met Janet Balcom (10k Olympian), who is also one of the nicest people I've met.  That's been a fun theme of the weekend.  I have met the NICEST, most humble people.  I am so thankful for the opportunity. 

Dinner was awesome - steak, dessert, drinks.  I allowed myself to splurge, eating everything that was put in front of myself.  I'm overly stuffed now (uncomfortable feeling!), but I know I needed that... just a little reprieve.  Since I'll likely be racing in 4 weeks, I know I'll need to start watching things after this week. But it's nice to have a vacation :)

Have to ask again... if anyone has Sacramento contacts, let me know (or anyone nearby)!  I'd love to stay with someone if I can!


Making the most of it!

Since there's no race, I've been trying to make the best of our time here.  Today I don't know if I succeeded in that (as far as getting out and seeing the city) - but mentally, I'm much better than I was yesterday.

First: updates from the race:  They held a conference for the pro athletes at 11 (which was postponed until 12, and then didn't actually start until 12:45) to let us know what was still happening.  Meals are still all a go; if you want to change your flight, expect to pay a lot; logistics like that.  Mary addressed the group as well, talking about how difficult this decision was and how the NYRR aim to make this as good of a stay for us in NY.  They have really done a lot, considering the circumstances.  I have a lot of respect for Mary, David, and the rest of her team.  I really hope someday I'll be able to race for them.

See Nate's legs in the ABC News picture :) 

Second: updates on my plans: I think I'm going to target CIM on December 2nd.  There is still a small part of me that is mentally fried - it was such a long training cycle (a full 4 months), I was so mentally psyched for the race (basically all my prep focused on the streets of NY, the pack of women I wanted to hang with etc), that I know it'll be hard to re-focus that excitement and energy into another race.  My body is a little banged up as well, this darn hamstring is SO tight.  But, there's another part of me that wants to set a new PR.  Wish I knew for sure if a PR was in the cards.  If not, I think I'd take some downtime.  If yes, then I'd charge ahead. 

And because I really think I am faster/more fit than ever before, I think I'll try to create a training plan for CIM.  Philly is another option, but with a big presentation at work that week, I don't know if the timing is the best.  We'll see what Jerry has to say. 

So... anyone know of someone I could stay with in Sacramento? :)  Seriously!!

Third: other updates: I've met some really cool (and very fast!) people out here.  Today I had dinner with Katie Dicamillo (35:01 10ker), Scott Bauhs (27:48 10ker), Andrew Carlson (Team USA MN), and Tim Ritchie.  Tomorrow I've been invited to do a long run with Katie, Kim Smith, and Amy Hastings.  I told Katie I'd try to keep up as long as I could...


Cancelled :(

I'm sure you've seen the news... NYC is cancelled.

I found out after we landed in NYC.  Literally, turned on my phone after we landed and found  numerous text messages, phone messages, and an email from the elite coordinator.

I couldn't help myself, I broke down and cried.  A very selfish reaction, I know, considering the thousands of people without power, homes, hot water.  Considering the city is still recovering from the storm.

But selfishly, I SO wanted to race.  I have been preparing for months to test myself against an incredibly fast professional field.  To have a breakthrough performance at the world's largest marathon.  To set a new PR, enjoy cruising through the streets of NY, and again - to do so in the company of the rest of the professional field.  There were 20 invited Americans, and I wanted to see how high amongst that group I could finish.  I thought 15th American might be in the cards, potentially higher if I had a really good day.  I know there will be other opportunities, other competitive fields... but this is NEW YORK.  I so wanted the opportunity & the "life story".

I'd say perhaps another year, except that Nate and I have been talking about a family... so, yeah...

A lot of the other elites are out at bars right now, drinking.  Ha.  I met A. Carlson from Team USA MN, and he was livid (and planning to head out for drinks).  I, on the other hand, am just exhausted.  My eyes are tired, and my brain is exhausted.  I think I'm going to bed early.

I did indulge in a lot of the hershey's mini chocolates they had at the hospitality suite... and a lot of lasagna.  That was nice :).  Although, I'm sure I'll regret it, tomorrow - since I had worked for 2 months to get down to this race weight.

First thing I ate after hearing the race was cancelled :)

Here's hoping we find out more tomorrow.  There's a press conference with Mary (CEO NYRR) tomorrow at 11am.  Otherwise... suggestions on marathons?  I would really like to race this fall to capitalize on the strength and fitness I have.  CIM (California International Marathon) on December 2nd was the first one that popped into my head... do I know anyone living in/around Sacramento?  Other good/fast races?


3 days to go!

First, let me post this video of Amy Hastings (go Brooks!) doing a hard marathon workout with Kim Smith.  It looks tough - but something I'd like to try.  It's not too different than my typical tempo work; just different interval length and recovery (I'd do 4x2 miles, for instance).  It is interesting that they do these on a track.  Guess that allows you to be really consistent from interval to interval.  Also note:  pace is 5:12/mile.  Amy's current marathon PR is 2:27:03, which is 5:36.  I'm assuming her goal marathon time is quicker than that - which would make these tempo workouts about 20 seconds faster per mile than goal MP.  Nice to see that my pace goals are similar to theirs :).

Anyway, 3 days to go marks the start of my carb-loading diet.  Yeah, my absolute favorite part of the taper!

I've always done the 6 day depletion/load diet, but this cycle I opted just for the carb-loading portion of the diet.  Studies are varied - I think the general consensus is that the depletion/loading method fools your body into storing just a little more glycogen (it over compensates when you start carb-loading because you've starved it of carbs).  It's worked like a charm for me earlier (Twin Cities '10, Grandma's '11 for my OTQ).

But - what I found at Grandma's this year is that the full cycle left me feeling heavy and flat.  I also don't think it worked as well for the Trials earlier in the year.  That puzzles me a bit - each time I've done it, it's become less and less effective.  I know there are hundreds of factors and diet is just a small one - but what I do know is that my body reacted weird (i.e. very infrequent bathroom stops).  I know that my appetite and body have changed a little, even in the last year, becoming pickier and reacting to things more severely - so perhaps that's partially it.  Whatever the case, I think a less severe of a carbo-load regimine will suit me better.

One last note, though: one benefit of the depletion stage is that it becomes a fun mental part of the prep.  It's something you can focus on when you can't really focus or change much else.  It also helps to limit the quantity of food you're eating, since you're shying away from any "mixed" food.  It's an easy way to cut back portions/meals.

Enough about that :).  What the carb phase means is that I have an excuse to just eat carbohydrates all day!  I have an excuse not to choose a bagel with jam over chicken breast!  Yippee!!  I have looked forward to my meals a ton today:  Oatmeal (my favorite food!), bagels with jam, fruit, plain pasta!  Yumm :)  The only thing I miss is egg whites; I typically eat them plain (salt and pepper) or in a wrap, and make them pretty much every day.  I love how simple they taste.  Okay, Nichole, stop thinking about them...

I'll finish packing tonight (what am I forgetting??), and then fly out around 3pm tomorrow.  Let's hope I can get in; LGA's runways were damaged in the flooding!