Ed Anacker Bridger Ridge Run is On My Mind

A few years ago I had the chance take part in the making of a short film about the community that gathers every year in the Bridger mountians outside of Bozeman, MT to run the four peaks. This race is one that calls you back. The beauty of Montana the and runner comradiere is hard to deny which, is why I am joining in again. Being from Montana, a MSU grad, and an ultra runner, this race and it’s people are in my DNA.

Check out this flick I was part of during my second sabbatical (earned after 14 years of leading nutrition strategy for Clif Bar & Company). I would like to dedicate this years run to someone or something. Any ideas?

A North Face 50K Birthday Present

Spending my birthday getting dirty running the trails through Golden Gate National Recreation Area, John Muir Woods, Muir Beach, and over the Golden Gate Bridge with a bunch of runners and, my family at the finish line, is my kind of celebration. This is exactly how I will be celebrating not only my birthday but, the fact that I get to be at the The North Face 50K in the first place.

Not only do things have to be good in life to run, things also have to fall in place to get fit enough to run! One of the most challenging parts of training  is carrying on with all the other responsibilities liking working, parenting, dog-owning, home-owning, teacher conference-ing, doctor appointments, stomach flu (the whole family), volunteering, home-work helping, and traveling two-hundred miles between home and office twice a week (in temporary transition – ask me later). To me, all of this is actually part of endurance training (or is running training for all of that?). I am doing all those things and yet still I insist on adding training to the list. Why? Because running is me and, without it is too easy to lose me.

So happy birthday to me!

 

 

 

Running Rim to Rim to Rim

Choices are hard sometimes . I had already begun to imagine the dirty trail beneath my feet, the view, the exhaustion, and the gab session when my running-mom-partner-in-crime (Lisa) asked me a random question to distract us from the inevitable fatigue that would set in while running the Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) of the Grand Canyon. I just couldn’t make it happen this round.

Perhaps the decision not to join in the R2R2R fun was what propelled me to plop down on the couch with a glass of wine with my laptop and proceed on a race registration “bender”. Late August I put another set of challenges of no less equal magnitude on my race calendar: The North Face 50km, Cal International Marathon, Seven Summit Series by Ragnar, The Truckee Half Marathon, and the furthest out and most outrageous, Comrades Marathon in South Africa (running-mom-partner-in-crime from college made me do that one – Stephanie).

Some people online shop in the late evening hours after their family is in bed; I sign up for races.

More than the wine, it was having to decline the great adventure of running the Grand Canyon. The R2R2R, I have discovered,  is one of those things runners do not as an organized race but rather, a collective challenging adventure that produces stories and memories for years to come. It is roughly forty six miles of rough running down, across, up and back again in one of our countries most beautiful, natural landmarks. It sounds ridiculous but, it is available to all who of the desire to see the entire Grand Canyon on foot. Last April another running crew I associate with went out as a seventieth birthday party with our high school cross country running coach we are all still in touch with.

Tomorrow morning my running friends from CLIF embark on this great adventure, starting before sunrise.  Not joining them was  tough decision. Instead, I am on a different kind of adventure, exploring the nutrition and running communities of Chicago and bringing new insights back home from a nutrition conference. Blah, blah but, don’t worry. I will make those insights worth it.

This R2R2R crew is so on my mind that last night I dreamed I had the weekends mixed up and that they were actually running it next weekend instead. I could join the after all! Alas, it was  a dream. It is impossible to “do it all” after all.

Given I have a an ultra and a road marathon coming up I will be putting in some miles between nutrition sessions. My Grand Canyon crew on my mind all the while. Just knowing they are out there will motivate me to cover the twenty two miles on my training plan tomorrow while I think of them having to go twenty-four more miles to meals, showers, and bed (likely in that order). Enjoy every spectacular minute!

 

Selfies in London Continued: Riding Bikes

I could think of no better way to see London for the first time than riding a state-of-the -art road bike on the closed-to-cars streets past some of the world’s most recognized landmarks. Actually, I could think of a better way, running on foot.

I am not a cyclist so when I learned that my role at the Ride London event was to ride forty-six miles with a bunch of athletes and journalists while spouting off nutrition information, I was a little nervous.

The curly handle bars, pointed seat, and narrow tires on paved streets with pot holes and who knows what else are discomforts and fears that have turned me away from road cycling towards other athletic pursuits.  Those things aside, this actually sounded like an opportunity of a lifetime, and no place for irrational fears. So I saddled up for a different kind of an adventure. The ride was everything you could imagine cycling through and around London without worries of cars to be, complete with a finish in front of Buckingham Palace.

What struck me most is the thousands of people who also showed up to cheer, ride, and celebrate despite real fears about would could happen. London has been terrorized by a few but, the masses prevail despite fears by still taking part in the joys and challenges life presents. Happy riding.

P.S. Ignore the amateur hour off-kilter helmet #hownottowearyourhelmet

First of Four Part Series on Getting High: Nutrition Considerations at Altitude.

Anyone attempting to train at sea level and, also loves mountain running has probably experienced the challenges of  a high-elevation race. What is the challenge? Well, let me put it this way, my first attempt at climbing mountains in a race felt like being pregnant while also having a big pile of bricks on my chest.  In was difficult. But, as challenges are, also a great opportunity to learn.

Mountain running used to just be me going on a run in the mountains. That however, was when I lived IN the mountains adapted to elevation. Now a seasoned sea level dweller,  mountain running requires more attention to nutrition to feel good and have fun.

Why? Consider the dry climate, potentially abrupt temperature swings, and the exposed climbs.  In conditions like these, even the most fit and altitude adapted athletes suffer many of the same effects of altitude. There are four key nutrition considerations that I take into account to help me ascend new heights above tree line.

Here is the first consideration I will be applying at Broken Arrow in a few weeks and the Ed Anacker Bridger Ridge Run later this summer for the third time.

Hydration!

Start hydrated and stay hydrated. This was one of my mistakes the first time I ran Bridger Ridge Run. I didn’t account for how much more fluid I would need up there over that period of time (6 plus hours). I had the water and electrolyte drink,  I just didn’t drink enough of it. High altitude brings with it little “gifts” like increased urine production and reduced thirst!  High-altitude air also tends to be less humid, resulting in increased water losses with each breath – about twice the sea level rate.  Add intense exercise and sweating, and the needs add up quickly.

My approach is conscious hydration before the expedition, staying present to drinking every fifteen minutes during the run, and loading my hydration pack with electrolyte drink instead of water, opting for water at limited aid stations or carrying water in my hand-held bottle.

Also, in the days before, you will see me carrying around my hydration pack and sipping from it as if it is my “comfort lovey”!  I go about my regular activities of parenting, working, traveling, and whatnot all with my hydration pack close by. I also fill this pack with hydration drink that has some carbohydrate and electrolyte like CLIF Hydration I helped formulate for occasions just like these. For more details on hydration techniques check out this post.

Stay tuned for the next three important consideration for getting high in the mountains!

World Ski & Snowboard Festival, Whistler, and Smoothies

Whistler, British Columbia is a magical place in summer and winter. I have delighted in experiencing both seasons at their best. In April I returned from an event inspired once again to explore wild places both outside and within myself – adding the Spearhead Traverse to the list of places I want to run.

This event was the World Ski & Snowbird Festival. This celebration brings together people who love to hang out in the snow and the mountains.  From roller derby competition to skiing powder along side back country snowboarding wonder Tamo Campos, this event had just the right amount of quirk, inspiration, and beauty all wrapped into one.

As part of this event, I  hosted “wake-up and get-after-it” nutrition talks with Canadian journalists and entrepreneurs. What did we talk about? We talked about rethinking our approach to food. Instead of over thinking food, I encouraged them to focus on “that thing you set out to do or accomplish”. In this case it was a day of chasing after patches of untouched powder over the stretches of Whistler-Blackcomb.

I believe it is impossible to go wrong with any food choice if it is made on the back drop of a healthy foundation. That was the inspiration behind my experimental smoothie making one morning with @yogaceo Julian Brass and @gracetoby of Canadian Living .  This smoothie was nutrient-packed for sure. It had to be to get us through a full day of skiing, concert-going, and some of the most inspiring speakers and believers in pursuing adventure for self-exploration and, quite possibly the meaning of life, I have ever heard. Thanks to Mountain Life for bringing the talks together.

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Here is a clip of us gettin’ crazy with smoothies. I would advise against avocado UNLESS there is banana to sweeten the deal a bit.

And a stylized glimpse of the week as seen through the lens of one of the photo journalists on the trip

Human Powered Priviledge in Snow Shoe Running

Being a mother of two very active, young boys who thrive on experiences in the outdoors, I am always looking to adapt and evolve my own need for athletic challenge to our current  environment. Committed to introducing my boys to the art and skill of alpine skiing I often find myself scheduling  winter weekends around road conditions, ski lessons, storms, and unfortunately traffic. The rewards of family time in the mountains, doing something we all love outweigh these challenges to be sure. Not to mention, I kinda thrive on a good challenge. This however, makes endurance training for spring marathons harder because my weekends are spent in the deep snow with not a lot of opportunity for the long, slow, run (LSR).

Last year, when training for Boston Marathon I had a moment of genius. Snow shoe running! By nature this activity is slow (for me) and it should have the same effect as the LSR, especially at seventy-five hundred feet elevation.  On top of that, our little ski cabin backs up to one of the largest cross-country ski trail systems in North America AND connects to the alpine ski hill where my family indulges  for down-hill adventure.

So let the adventure of this new endurance activity begin!

Slow, cumbersome, awkward. Those are the words that describe this new, exciting activity. Excited yet? Now, some may say, “why run?” Why can’t you just walk like most people out there. Two reasons. One, my heart rate doesn’t go up enough to deliver me the endorphin kick. And reason two, it is numbingly boring by myself. Then there is a third reason, actually. It takes twice as long, leaving no time to do some down-hill with my boys.

So I persist, as we all do when something is important to us. I equate this first snow shoe running experience to the first time I stepped out to run while pushing my child in a stroller. It is not easy. There is a learning curve. It does however, get easier and that is when the real fun begins.

A year later, snow shoe running is such a part of my routine that I ache to do it. Even just a one hour spin through the woods can suffice. It has also opened up my winter home to the same human-powered freedom running offers me. It is freedom to know that by my own  human-power I can go where I want, when I want, and at whatever pace suits me. I am not stuck because of weather, closed roads, a closed chair lift, or other humans.  I am limited only by my own strength, will, and capabilities. When all else fails, I always have options.

Since adopting snow shoe running I have also sought out other “modes of human power” transportation in my expanding winter playground. Nordic skiing (both skate and classic) can take me places in the mountains even faster and, have introduced me to an entire new endurance sport! Next up? The back-country! I see the gates to the snow-filled back country I explore in my running shoes in the summer time, and I want to go through them. The only thing stopping me from my next adventure is avalanche safety training and AT gear!

I did successfully finish the Boston Marathon. Did snowshoe running help me out? Well, it certainly didn’t hurt. The real reward out of adopting a new form of sport however, was not fitness. It was freedom.

Today’s Adventure: New York Subway

Every time I take a plane ride across the country and hop into a car to take me to the action I have arrived for I inevitably feel sluggish, car sick, and longing for fresh air. The thing is, I love exploring like a local on gritty, clanking, big-city public transit. The allure of the car sevice and its point A to B promise usually sound like the better deal . “Sounds like” is the key phrase here.  So today I listened to my inner wisdom opted for the sights, sounds, smells, and connection with the locals over the isolated nausea of a personal car.  Let the adventure of this moment begin. And yes, I hydrated and ate for energy.

Today’s Adventure: New York Subway

Every time I take a plane ride across the country and hop into a car to take me to the action I have arrived for I inevitably feel sluggish, car sick, and longing for fresh air. The thing is, I love exploring like a local on gritty, clanking, big-city public transit. The allure of the car sevice and its point A to B promise usually sound like the better deal . “Sounds like” is the key phrase here.  So today I listened to my inner wisdom opted for the sights, sounds, smells, and connection with the locals over the isolated nausea of a personal car.  Let the adventure of this moment begin. And yes, I hydrated and ate for energy.

Endurance Mamas

My bib number is in hand. My clothes, race food & hydration, logistics to getting to the starting line are set. Oops, except my alarm. Pausing here to go set my alarm for ….wait for it…..3:45 am to voluntarily run 31.8 miles (50km) with 7200 ft of climbing and descending. This is about the point before a race that I ask the question “why”?

It hurts, is really hard, cold, early, and tiresome.  Yet, here I am toeing the line time and time again. You know why? Because why not. What if it isn’t any of those things or, the smiles, support, camaraderie , community, sense if accomplishment, the beauty, and the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other so purposefully outweighs everything else.

It is funny to me that I never thought this kind of running to be something I could do until after having children.  Getting pregnant, staying pregnant, carrying on daily activities while pregnant, birthing a child out of your body, caring for the child, positively influencing the child, and raising them is truly the real ultra-adventure. Everything else that involves just worrying about yourself, like running a race, is easy. Well, easy is an over simplification. If you can do all that you are capable of doing anything including running as far and high as you want to.

So along with solid crew of other mothers I have joined in this crazy adventure with, I will be out there getting dirty and smiling with them all the way to the finish line while love-hating them at the same time.

Oh and of course I will be consuming sixty grams of carbohydrate per hour, water, and electrolyte drink to keep my fueled!

endurance-mamas
Endurance Mamas post 26.2 “training run”