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!

 

We Run in Good Times

We get to run when all is well. Right now all is not well in the communities where I work and play. Waking each morning this week to the smoke-filled air has been too eerie. The smoke represents devastating amounts of loss happening in the North Bay communities where friends and families live. Ash is falling from the sky and it is hard to think of anything but what that ash is from and what we can do to help.

We wear facemasks, stay in doors if we can, and try to breath softly. We mobilize our networks, remind ourselves what important work really is, and try to do something, anything truly meaningful when feeling helpless in light of yet another tradegy, this time much closer to the place we call home.

Running and recreation are luxuries to be grateful for doing. When things are good again remember, no matter how ” bad” it feels, it is good.

In gratitude for running times.

What worked for you in treating and preventing blisters?

Blisters are a big deal! I have made the mistake of thinking otherwise but, blisters can impede the ability to train and participate in athletic adventures as much as an injury or illness. My advice is to take blisters seriously especially of you feeling one heating up under foot.

Here are a few of my go-to treatments and prevention tools:

When have blisters  bust: https://www.amazon.com/Spenco-Skin-Blister-Sports-Count/dp/B004UOTUXK/ref=sr_1_8_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1493240870&sr=8-8&keywords=blister+pads I used this and made it through Ragnar Trail Relays with blisters that had popped before the event even started. I also added these where needed https://www.amazon.com/Band-Aid-Advanced-Protection-Adhesive-Bandages/dp/B000Y8W50G/ref=sr_1_4_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1493244021&sr=8-4&keywords=blister%2Bprevention&th=1

Super awesome for blister prevention that I use to reduce friction on new shoes and with my orthotics is this ease, simple solution https://www.amazon.com/Blister-Prevention-Patches-Runners-Athletes/dp/B003URZNW0/ref=sr_1_6_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1493243976&sr=8-6&keywords=blister+prevention

 

Mother’s Days. Adventures Are On!

Mother’s Day doesn’t seem right unless I am on the Northern California Coastline unplugged and with my dudes soaking up all the outdoor adventures we can squeeze into a long weekend of car camping. Some moms long for breakfast in bed, pampering of the nails, or brunching fine-dining style.  Those things are great but, me? Nah, I ask for a family adventure. Even car camping is an adventure when you add kids and a new puppy to the mix!

I wouldn’t have Mother’s Day any other way right now. Last year we opted for a Mother’s Day of regularly scheduled little league and a nice home cooked dinner. It was great but, we all longed to be under the oak tree near the stream hiking, biking, trail running and roasting s’mores. So this year we went back to the tent.

This time of year Mama is usually training for some kind of mountain running/scramble race. My sights are on running the  Broken Arrow 26km which, covers some of Squaw Valley’s  famous terrain ascending to elevation of 8750 feet covering nearly 5,400 feet of vertical or, vert as the cool kids call it. Take a look at this fun!

Broken Arrow Sky Race Short from Jon Rockwood on Vimeo.

Needless to say my Mother’s Day gift this year was a long training run on the trails. Or as I like to call it “the gift of bliss”!

What does an adventure mama  dietitian do to prepare the night before a training run on an epic family camping trip? Well here is the run down:

  • The night before:  Cold-leftover-fried-chicken, salad, followed by S’mores and an unmeasured, seemingly bottomless tin cup, of wine  while reading in front of the campfire. Before snuggling up in the family-size sleeping bag I fill up my hydration pack and stock it with the necessary energy chews and gels. Then I put on my running clothes to sleep in so I don’t have to think about changing in the chilly morning. Just up and at em’, shoes on, and out! Not quite.
  • The morning of:  I woke, crawled out of the tent to find my main man dressed for his mountain bike ride while our boys slept.  Me being a slow starter and preferring to poop, pee, and enjoy a cup of coffee (not necessarily in that order) before running, I let him go first.
  • Before my long run: Being the good sports dietitian I determine  I also had time to top of glycogen (AKA stored energy) in my muscles with the recommend breakfast of running champions – oatmeal mixed with a spoonful of delicious sunflower seed butter  and mashed banana –  with ample time to digest before he returned.

Now, if I had my sights on winning races the wine the night before would probably not be something I would recommend to myself, or cold store-bought fried chicken (gross), but we are camping on Mother’s Day after all.  Given my goals are set around middle of the pack kind of running, a relaxing night by the campfire is just what this dietitian adventure mama ordered (no cooking, cleaning, or giving a care).

 

Three Principles to Rethinking the Workout to Get It Done

I have four full-time jobs.  I am mom to two beautiful boys, I am in a committed relationship, and I have a career in nutrition. Each one of these things requires my full attention. How on earth do I have time to train for trail races in the mountains?

This isn’t a question of why I feel compelled to add one more “thing to do” into the mix of overwhelm that sometimes spins around me. It is about prioritizing  self-care, soul care, to diffuse the overwhelm so I can properly prioritize my attentions.

Adventures in the mountains, kicking up dirt on the trails, breathing in that low-oxygen air, and moving in whatever silly ways my legs will take me feeds me so that I am able to show up to “work” each day.

I must train and prepare to adventure out in the wilds. How do I possibly squeeze it in? I re-think my workouts, which also brings a little urban adventure into my day!

Three key principles to rethinking a workout:

  1. Get creative. For example, I run commute with work-gear in a pack sometimes! It adds weight and builds strength right?! Yes, some days run with a laptop, fruit, and wallet on my back.
  2. Choose quality over quantity. For example, I skip ineffective junk miles when I am feeling overtired and, instead get good rest so I can run hard the next day.
  3. Be adaptable.  Sometimes I need to opt for bringing my kiddos along on run in order to get it in.  So, I adapt the workout to make it fun for all. For example, I will take the to the track and race them down the straight-aways while they count laps. Another good one is giving them the stop watch to do timed sprints while they follow along on their bikes.

 

Not only do these three principles help me get in the training, they also make it a whole lot more adventurous (fun).

Here is a photo of me run-commuting the hills of San Francisco back to the train after a meeting, with my lap top and lunch in my pack. This is how I get er’ done!

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Performance Nutrition Behavior Number Two: Determine Your Higher Purpose

Here is something for the next person who tells me “all this running can’t be good for you” to read. It is also an example of a man who truly gets how running is training for life.  Not only that, he does not look his age at all. In this Forbes’ article it says he runs to stay fit for a higher purpose. He doesn’t run to be skinny or prove himself. He runs to stay fit for doing “whatever he wants”, which is also how he defines retirement.

Nutrition is no different.  Eating for the purpose of achieving a certain weight, body, or blood lipid level isn’t enough to overcome the barriers keeping so many from eating in a way that they intuitively know is healthy. Eating for a higher purpose  can help. Are you eating in a way that helps you accomplish what it is your want to do?  If not, why not? Maybe it is time to identify a higher purpose to the food you choose. I want to eat in a way that enables me the freedom  to use my own human power to see amazing landscapes and connect with people who inspire me.

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.

How I Became a Runner

I have been a runner since the fifth, grade ever since my Aunt Kathy cajoled me into running The Rankin Run 5k with her. She dragged me complaining the whole way. Then, she pointed out the finish line and with my eye on the prize I kept running as she watched me from behind. Her encouragement that day sparked the runner inside me to continue learning what I was capable of accomplishing.

Another defining fifth grade moment for me was an elementary school track meet. I had decided to try out hurdles, long jump, and high jump. At after-school practices I quickly learned that my “grace and coordination” was meant for something else.  My gym teacher, Mrs. Storm said, “Why don’t you run the mile? No one else is doing it and you can win a blue ribbon.” My eyes lit up. As a child who didn’t find herself very athletic in the ways everyone else her age seemed to be (basketball, kickball, hurdles, soccer), the idea that I could win anything was very appealing even if I was only competing against myself.

So that week my Dad took me to the neighborhood track at Great Falls High School. We crawled through a hole under the fence and we set out to run four laps. I completed my four, but my Dad couldn’t. That was the moment he became a runner – story for another day.

I went to the track meet at Lions Park across the street from Lincoln Elementary in Great Falls, Montana. It was sunny. The teachers had marked out a 400 meter lap in the grass. The mile was the final event. By the time the mile took place run there was an audience of kids, teachers, and parents.  Tara, who couldn’t catch, hit, kick, or volley a ball was an athlete. I found me sport.  I could run. Four laps later I fell in love with the sport that has challenged me ever since.

Running remains a constant for me, despite a few break-ups over the years. Through running I also found my passion of the art and science of nutrition. Through running I have learned that humans are capable of so much more than we may think. Through running have met some of the most extraordinary people and had some amazing experiences. So here is my public thank you to those “grown-ups” who sparked my slow twitch muscles to run long and slow.