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?

Running Out of Gas

The last two months have been a practice of going inward and reflecting on everything from career, parenting, running, and relationships. This has resulted in no recent posts. No apologies necessary. This is just a time of year I go inward.

My career coach, mentors, and long-top therapist have all said in separate instances that ” it is time to get out of your head and into the world.”

Nothing proved their point more than the circumstances that brought about this photo!

20180111_204544.jpg

Let’s just get to the point. My car ran out of gas thirty-five miles outside of my mountain home. I was returning home after my weekly working-in-the-office-stint in the Bay Area, listening to Jenny Blake’s Pivot Podcast, and reflecting hard on my next career move when they car began decelerating up the mountain pass.

I quickly realized that the car was dying still, with no idea why, pulled over, called my husband and said, “Something is wrong with the car.” He says, “How? It is a brand new car.” It was then that I saw the gas light. “How many miles do you have? Do you think you can make it to the gas station?” Nope. The indicator says “zero miles” and the car won’t start.

I had driven nearly two hundred miles to this point and stopped mid-way to fill up my body’s tank and get groceries. Not once did I get out of my head long enough to think about gas for the car. Indeed, it is time to get out of my head and into a new year where I will get back to posting stories on nutrition and adventures both mountain and in the day-to-day.

So, there I sit at the bottom of the exit ramp off Interstate 80 calm as could be on the phone with roadside assistance. As roadside was attempting to find my mountain pass location a flatbed tow track came backing down the I-80 on-ramp like a mirage out of the darkness ( it was 9:30pm). Wow, roadside, that was quick!

Turns on this kind man and his wife were traveling east on the highway and saw my hazards when they decided to reverse down the on-ramp and see if someone needed help.

That someone was me! “Let me just throw your car on the truck for free and drive you the one point five miles to the gas station. You will wait forever for roadside.” Roadside highly advised me to wait for their service provider but, I took a chance on the kindness of this man and his desire to help. Indeed I was taking a chance on humanity but, it was going to save me at least sixty minutes so I went for it.

The next day I had a call with my career coach. I knew that running out of gas meant something. I took away a few things from this:

  1. Grandpa Eric is right, “It is just as easy to fill up the top half of the tank as it is the bottom half.” Don’t wait. Just fill it
  2. People do like to help people with whatever means they can
  3. It is time to move out of the thinking mind and into action
  4. When something goes wrong, I will know what to do

 

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.

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!

wp-1487710895762.jpg

 

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.

Why is pickle juice popular at running event aid station?

Pickle juice has come into view as trending “sports drink” and an aid station item at ultra running event. This is primarily for the salt and perhaps to meet some kind of strange endurance-runner palate craving . The craving and electrolyte may have little to do with why some athletes benefit from pickle juice according to this interesting research.

Cramping continues to be pretty allusive and an unsolvable problem for many athletes. I think some cramps, the kind that start as small tingles and grow into major cramp, are likely to be triggered by lack of hydration/electrolytes.

Ion muscle-channel activators found in pickle juice and mustard that may serve as an “anti-cramp” by helping to relieve the dramatic, sudden, and paralyzing-type cramps that occur in sport.

http://web.outsideonline.com/2026376/could-flex-pharma-be-final-cure-muscle-cramps

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.

 

 

Sitting Still Sitting Still

In the book It Is Hard to Be Five  there is a part in the story where this five year old boy is using every bit of effort and might he has to sit still in morning circle. Sitting still. Still. Sitting still. SIT STILL. He is struggling quietly in his mind to stay sitting still because that is what his job requires. We teach children that there is a time for movement and a time to sit still.

As I sit here with a sore back from sitting, writing, reading, watching, learning, and computing I know  we sit too much. Our work and society has us chained to the act of sitting.  Movement is wrong or something you do when you get punished. Sitting however, is the real punishment.

I certainly feel like I am being punished when I am forced to create power point slides that could be communicated better with a photo and some written words while I jump from point to point around the room.

I respect stillness and a time for it but, we have flipped to far on the scale as society that rewards sitting over movement. We have to consciously schedule time to move instead of moving naturally like we are built to do.  We are told to get up and take breaks in our desk-job sittingness…..problem is these movements are just a reminder of a sad state of sittingness. They aren’t fun or productive.

I have a “desk” job sort of. I am so tired of sitting so much however, that I have been doing everything in power to think creatively about accomplishing things without a desk, chair, or computer pulling on me like anchor. Technology is so that we can move and work at the same time if we get creative.

I wake up every day thinking about how I can incorporate as much movement into my day as possible. I am not opposed to rest. Rest will happen because we must sleep but, unless  I re-think how I function each day it is quite possible there could be no movement at all!

Can I do a walking meeting instead of a sitting meeting? Can I ran to an appointment? Can I bike the kids to school? Can I literally “run” and errand. The answer is most often yes! I will rest when I must finally sit down and jam out a power point for all those who want to sit and listen to it….I however will stand to deliver and jump around the room because it is that exciting.

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”