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January 12, 2018

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rabbit road trip: cowboy country

“Do you know how to get there?” Kris asks me with a sly smile 10-minutes into our trip, heading south towards the City of Angels.

We both know the answer, it’s in the direction of Las Vegas for a while, but then it’s not. We veer off onto Interstate 40 linking up with a section of the Historic Route 66 and begin heading due east, skirting the Mojave Desert to the north as we pass through the deep eastern stretches of San Bernardino County and the ever-exciting 75 mph speed limit zone that drives us toward the Colorado River, the Arizona Border and the unknown of the 1.86 million acre Coconino National Forest.

The nearly 10-hour drive gives us plenty of time to plan our trip once we land in Flag, as it’s affectionately know by locals; coffee, running, beer and food are naturally high on our list, as with any proper road trip. Luckily for us, we’re not headed blind into this new town. We’ve got friends, the Coconino Cowboys, to show us around and point us down the right paths once we arrive and are settled.

Flagstaff altitude camp day one starts with a bang; a quick trip north to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon for an epic adventure. Starting with an 8-mile descent down to the base of the Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail, then popping out parallel to the Colorado River on the aptly named River Trail criss-crossing the rapids below on the Silver & Black Bridges before beginning the brutal, yet stunning 6.7-mile, 4,800-foot South Kaibab Trail climb, up and out of the red rock Canyon walls back to the Rim Trail...

The “Cowboy Loop” kicks our ass on day one, as it should even the most experienced trail runners. Quite literally, as I find myself forced to a walking pace for the last half-mile of this 21-mile, 5,400-foot ultrarunning loop for the ages in Grand Canyon National Park.

Once back at the our host Eric’s truck, Cokes, salty snacks and recovery drinks start flowing. The endorphins are electric as high-fives are slapped all around, right before the skies open up and rain starts to fall. We upload our files to Strava, Tim snatched the course record (from fellow Cowboy Jim) on the South Kaibab by nearly two-minutes, the rest of us neatly tuck into the top-20 on the leaderboard.

Sore feet and sweaty shirts are replaced by laughs and stories of the Canyon as the 75-minute trip back to Flagstaff zooms past and we plan our first stop back in town: the best five-dollar burrito joint west of the MIssissippi.

A hot shower, five hours, three Dark Sky beers and another couple burritos later and we have our next summit planned for day two: Elden Mountain. Hovering 9,300 feet above the city of Flag, not only will we feel the slaughtering our legs experienced the day prior, but our sea level lungs are sure to sear with pain. High winds across the peaks are predicted for the afternoon and our late morning start sets us up for an adventure, sans guide.

We connect the Pipeline Trail from Buffalo Park to the rocky Elden Lookout connector, throw on our jackets and bomb down the fireroad around the backside and onto the flowy, Oldham Trail for another great training adventure: 16-miles and 3,500-feet of climbing.

The legs aren’t feeling any fresher, but we’re beyond satisfied with ourselves as we suck down hot bowls of soup from SoSoBa in downtown Flag. I opt for the traditional udon bowl, “The Mic Drop” while Kris devours his rice noodle “Hostile Takeover” bowl in a matter of minutes. Copious amounts of hot sauce are used to warm our souls and start the arduous recovery process.

And now our legs are really feeling it, that moment where walking becomes a chore and tenderness to the touch is apparent.

Day three plans fizzle out as snow begins to fall late in the evening Tuesday and we wake up to two-plus inches of fresh powder blanketing the entire town. “You California boys brought the snow!” Our AirBnB host exclaims in an email response after I asked for a later checkout due to extreme fatigue and mental fogginess from another night of brewery exploration. “Of course, take your time,” and we do, opting to run from our downtown cottage along the Arizona Trail and back to the trails of Buffalo Park for 90-minutes of snowy recovery before hitting the road. A perfect cap to our introduction to Northern Arizona’s gem-of-a-town.

As we pull onto Highway 40, the sign reads ‘Los Angeles 464’ and I turn to Kris, “When are we coming back?”

We both know the answer and in unison say, “soon,” realizing the Flagstaff-Santa Barbara connection was just born; the first of many trips to the high-mountains of Cocinco Cowboy Country, and the beginning of something special.

January 12, 2018

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fueled friday: game day chicken fingers

F U E L E D F R I D A Y because the big game is right around the corner and you need a healthy game day snack, right?! It's easy to splurge on unhealthy treats while rooting for your team, but it's also super easy to whip up a healthy and nutritious option for you and the other fans you know! So, this week, we present to you Game Day Chicken Fingers from our friend Brianne Eaton at weareeaton.com 

Brianne Eaton is an Olympic bronze medalist in the heptathlon, so she knows a thing or two about refueling. Since winning the Olympic medal is 2016, Brianne has since retired from professional track and field and we are lucky enough to follow along on her journey on her amazing blog (and you should too...).  

So, let's talk chicken fingers...

Game Day Chicken Fingers

Prep Time: 10 minutes 

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (4.25 oz) Almond Flour Crackers (Brianne used Simple Mills Ground Sea Salt Almond Flour Crackers, but any brand will work!)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • pinch black ground pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, cut into strips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and grease well with olive oil (if you don’t grease it well, chicken fingers will stick).
  2. In a food processor, add the crackers, walnuts, oregano, sea salt and pepper and process until in fine particles. It might be a bit damp from the walnuts. That’s okay. Pour into a shallow dish.
  3. Whisk the milk and mustard together in a bowl.
  4. One piece at a time, add the chicken to the milk, turning to coat and immediately dredging it in the crumb mixture.
  5. Place the chicken tenders on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes before flipping the chicken and continuing to bake for an additional 10 minutes on the other side, or until it’s no longer pink.
  6. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Notes:

This recipe is both dairy and gluten free, but you can substitute any cracker that you like if you prefer a more traditional cracker. 

The original recipe can be found here.

January 05, 2018

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fueled friday: banana peach breakfast quinoa with cinnamon sugar pecans

F U E L E D F R I D A Y is all about the amazing, complete protein... quinoa! This delicious banana peach breakfast quinoa with cinnamon sugar pecans is the perfect pre or post-run breakfast and it is brought to you this week by our good friend, Robin at CaliGirl Cooking. Plus, it's easy to make and seriously satisfying. So, get that quinoa cooking and eat up!! 

Banana Peach Breakfast Quinoa with Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil (liquid state)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups vanilla coconut beverage (I use the Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 peaches, one diced (to mix into the quinoa) and one sliced (to top the quinoa)
  • 2 bananas, sliced

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar. In a medium bowl, combine pecans, coconut oil and cinnamon-sugar mixture. Toss until pecans are evenly coated in cinnamon-sugar.
  3. Place coated pecans on a small jelly roll pan and roast in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add a small sprinkle of salt. Set aside.
  4. Add quinoa, coconut beverage and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once mixture is boiling, reduce heat to low and cover saucepan with a lid. Let cook for 10-15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in maple syrup.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in diced peach and half of sliced bananas. Spoon into individual bowls and top with sliced peaches, the rest of the banana and cinnamon sugar pecans.

Notes:

Save any extra cinnamon sugar pecans in an airtight container to use on salads and other delicious dishes!

The original recipe can be found here

December 29, 2017

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fueled friday: gingery mango & berry smoothie

F U E L E D F R I D A Y: when in doubt, make a smoothie. A smoothie is kind of perfect for everything: pre-run fuel, post-run fuel, a meal substitute, a perfect snack, and even a scrumptious dessert! But, most smoothies call for a banana, and interestingly enough, not everyone loves bananas (yeah, crazy, we know). So, if you are looking for a great, no-banana smoothie recipe, here you go!

This recipe comes from the amazing Dana over at Minimalist Baker.  If you don't already follow Minimalist Baker on Instagram, we highly recommend it! 

Gingery Mango & Berry Smoothie

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 10 mins 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups (271 g) frozen chopped mango (if fresh, add 1 cup ice)
  • 1 1/4 cups (207g) frozen raspberries and/or strawberries
  • 1 cup (240 ml) light coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 lime (~3 Tbsp or 45 ml), juiced
  • 2 Tbsp (~15 g) fresh ginger 
  • 1 Tbsp (5g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • optional: scant 1/8th tsp cayenne pepper
  • optional: 1-2 Tbsp (~10g) protein powder of choice or hemp seeds

FOR SERVING optional 

  • Coconut yogurt or full-fat coconut milk
  • Berries
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Hemp seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

1. To a high-speed blender add mango, berries, coconut or almond milk, lime, ginger, shredded coconut, cayenne pepper (optional), and protein powder of choice (optional).

2. Blend on high until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. If it has trouble blending, add more coconut, almond milk, or water.


3. Serve as is or layer with coconut yogurt or milk and top with desired toppings. I prefer berries, hemp seeds, and coconut flake.

4. Enjoy fresh or refrigerate leftovers for 3 days. Or store in the freezer (as a smoothie or Popsicles) up to 1 month.

    Original recipe can be found here.  Happy fueling everyone! 

    December 20, 2017

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    The Road to My 2:17:33 OTQ

    You may know rabbitPRO Curly Guillen as the "World's Fastest DJ". But, you may not know that Curly is a father of two, who works two jobs to support his kids and his dream, which up until a few weeks ago was to qualify for the Marathon Olympic Trials. After years of hard work, little sleep, solo workouts, and blood, sweat and tears, Curly did it. He ran a 2:17:33 at the US Marathon Championships on December 3rd to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Trials. Now, here is Curly's reflection on his race, and in honor of #workoutwednesday, Curly also shares his 16 week training log leading up to CIM. (You can also follow Curly on Strava.) Congratulations Curly! We are so very proud of you and we can't wait to see what's next from you!   

     _______________________________________________________________________

    I’ve had some time to reflect on my recent performance at CIM a few weeks ago in which I qualified for the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon with my 2:17:33 clocking...

    I went in confident that I had put in the necessary work not only leading up to the race but due to the mileage I accumulated over the course of the last 6 years. I trained with fellow rabbitPRO Seth Totten for several key workouts (he ran 2:19:30 at CIM). I never had a consistent training partner like that before and he helped me push myself through workouts I never would have been able to do on my own. I worked on getting more sleep. I also made sure to actually run slow on my recovery days for once. I tried not to stress over the missed week of training or the bad races I had early on in the buildup.

    Also, my coach and I had all the data from my 2:21 performance at CIM last year.

    We went over the elevation gains and losses for every mile. Last year I ran splits of 1:09:06-1:12:23. I knew I would be able to go through the half this year at about the same time if not a little faster and have the 2nd half tighter. I ended up running splits of 1:08:30-1:09:03 this year. I knew what to expect at every mile. I must give credit to the pack of runners around me for over 24 miles. This was the first time I ever had company for most of the race. All my previous marathons I was in “no man’s land” running alone. Having the pack pull me along felt effortless. When I saw my coach at mile 18 and gave him the thumbs up that I was feeling good I felt like I was out for a jog. I fell off the pack a bit at about mile 22 but my buddy Tyler Underwood snapped me out of the mental funk and I sprinted back to the pack. When I did that I woke up some different muscles in my legs and I found the energy to make a long drive to the finish line.

    When I approached the finish line and could see the clock I was surprised to see I was going to finish under 2:18. Going into the race I felt that if everything went perfect I would barely be under the OTQ B Standard of 2:19:00. When I crossed the line to cement my place among other top athletes at the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon it was the happiest day of my life. 6 years of blood, sweat, and tears. The journey from the first step to crossing the finish line was 22,143.86 miles in the making.

    Thank you to rabbit for supporting me and helping athletes like me achieve our dreams. My next goal is to attain the OTQ A Standard of 2:15:00. Without further ado, I present to you my 16 week CIM training log.

    • August 13-19 [80.1 miles]
      Long run: 18 miles (1:51:48, 6:13 min/mi pace)
      Workout #1: 4x1000m with 200m recovery, 600m recovery, 1x2000m, 400m recovery, 4x1000m with 200m recovery. Splits: 2:57-2:58-2:58-2:59-6:06-2:58-3:00-3:01-2:59.
      Workout #2: 1-3-1-3 mile intervals with 5 min recovery. Splits: 5:05, 15:38 (5:13-5:12-5:13), 4:55, 15:34 (5:11-5:14-5:09).
    • August 20-26 [80.1 miles]
      Long run/race: 18 miles (including 10k race 31:52, 5:05 min/mi pace)
      Workout #1: 4x400m, 2x800m, 4x400m with 200m recovery in between reps and 400m recovery in between sets. Splits: 71-68-68-68-2:21-2:20-69-67-67-65.
      Workout #2: 6x1 min with 2 min recovery (4:36 min/mi pace average).
      Race: 10 mile race (51:24, 5:10 min/mi pace).
    • August 27-September 02 [67.9 miles]
      Workout #1: 6x1000m with 2 min recovery. Splits: 2:59-2:55-2:54-2:53-2:53-2:53.
      Workout #2: 6x1 min with 2 min recovery (4:50 min/mi pace average), 4x30 sec with 1 min recovery (4:40 min/mi pace average).
      Race: 8k cross country race (26:07, 5:15 min/mi pace).
    • September 03-09 [3.16 miles]
      Comment: 6 days off due to smashed toe. Dropped speaker on foot at wedding DJ gig. Got x-rays, no fracture.
    • September 10-16 [80.1 miles]
      Workout #1: 5-4-4-3-2-2-3-4-4-5 min (5:04 min/mi average).
      Workout #2: 3x12 min with 6 min jog recovery (5:06 min/mi average).
    • September 17-23 [85.4 miles]
      Long run/race: 16 mile trail race (2:29:06).
      Workout #1: 10x1200m with 1 min recovery. Splits: 3:49-3:47-3:47-3:47-3:47-3:49-3:48-3:48-3:48-3:46 (5:04 min/mi average).
      Workout #2: 7 mile tempo (5:17 min/mi pace).
    • September 24-30 [100 miles]
      Long run: 18 miles (1:55:30, 6:25 min/mi pace).
      Workout #1: 10x800m with 2 min recovery. Splits: 2:23-2:24-2:24-2:20-2:22-2:22-2:20-2:23-2:23-2:19 (2:22 average).
      Workout #2: 20x1 minute with 1 minute recovery (4:50 min/mi average).
    • October 01-07 [100 miles]
      Long run: 16 miles (1:40:07, 6:15 min/mi pace).
      Workout #1: 4k-3k-2k-1k with 400m recovery. Splits: 12:59 (5:13 pace), 9:31 (5:06 pace), 6:11 (4:58 pace), 2:57 (4:44 pace).
      Workout #2: 12x2 min with 1 min recovery (4:52 min/mi average).
      Race:
    • October 08-14 [100 miles]
      Long run: 18 miles (1:56:20, 5:46 min/mi pace).
      Workout #1: 20x400m with 1 min recovery. Splits: 72-71-71-71-71-71-71-70-71-71-70-71-70-69-69-69-69-68-68-65 (70 average).
      Workout #2: 2.5 mi tempo (5:05 min/mi pace), 7 min recovery, 7 hill repeats (5:02 min/mi pace for .34 mi), 5 min recovery, 2.5 mi tempo (5:00 min/mi pace).
    • October 15-21 [100 miles]
      Long run: 23 miles (2:27:38, 6:25 min/mi pace).
      Workout #1: 3x2k, 2x1k with 2 min recovery in between intervals, 3 min in between sets. Splits: 6:10-6:13-6:14-2:54-2:54 (4:54 min/mi average for 8k total).
      Workout #2: 6x3 minutes hill repeats on Farren Road (11% grade).
    • October 22-28 [80 miles]
      Long run: 20 miles (1:59:29, 5:58 min/mi pace). 6-4-2 mi tempos with 5 min jog recovery (5:17 avg for 6 mi, 5:11 avg for 4 mi, 5:03 avg for 2 mi).
      Workout #1: 2x400m with 1 min recovery, 8x1km with 2 min recovery, 2x400m with 1 min recovery. Splits: 66-68-2:54-2:57-2:56-2:55-2:55-2:56-2:55-2:55-67-66 (66 avg for 400s, 2:55 avg for 1ks).
      Workout #2: 8 mile progression tempo. Splits: 6:00-5:59-5:50-5:49-5:41-5:30-5:20-5:10 (5:39 min/mi average).
    • October 29-November 04 [80.1 miles]
      Long run: 22 miles (2:21:45, 6:26 min/mi pace).
      Workout #1: 3x3 mi with 3 min recovery. Splits: 5:02-5:02-5:05 (15:09), 5:04-5:01-5:01 (15:06), 5:05-5:04-4:59 (15:08). (5:02 min/mi average).
    • November 05-11 [60.2 miles]
      Long run: 14.3 miles (1:30:00, 6:17 min/mi pace). 10x3 min with 1 min recovery (4:58 min/mi average).
      Workout #1: 3x400, 2x800, 3x400. Splits: 66-66-66-2:17-2:16-67-66-66.
    • November 12-18 [80.1 miles]
      Workout #1: 3x2k with 2 min recovery. 1st 1k at marathon pace, 2nd 1k at half marathon pace). Splits: 6:21 (3:14/3:06)-6:22 (3:15/3:06)-6:22 (3:15/3:06).
      Race: Monterey Bay Half Marathon (1:07:11, 5:07 min/mi pace). 18.5 miles for the day.
    • November 19-25 [68.7 miles]
      Long run: 19.1 miles (1:59:29, 6:15 min/mi pace). 15x1 min with 90 sec recovery (5:00 min/mi average).
      Race: Thanksgiving 4 miler (19:31, 4:53 min/mi pace).
    • November 26-December 02 [42.1 miles]
      Workout #1: 6x400m with 90 sec recovery. Splits: 68-67-68-67-67-66
      Workout #2: 5x200m with 200m recovery. Splits: 33-33-32-31-31.

    November 30, 2017

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    November 26, 2017

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    The Road to the USA Marathon Championships: Part III

    As every marathoner knows, terms like "carboload", "fuel", and "food" are often discussed, and play a very large part in race performance. But, the fueling aspect of marathoning can also be very confusing and overwhelming. Here in Part III of our journey with rabbitPRO Kaitlin Goodman, as Kaitlin puts the finishing touches on her training for the USA Marathon Championship at the California International Marathon on Sunday, she discusses this vital aspect of marathon running.

    Check out Part III:

    November 20, 2017

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    FKT of the Ozark Highlands Trail

    Run 165 miles through the wilderness, on sometimes non-existent trails, over the course of ONE weekend. Oh, and set the record for the Fastest Known Time (FKT) while doing it. Sound insane? Yeah, we think so. INSANELY AWESOME! As you might have heard rabbitPRO Ashley Nordell did just this a few weeks ago on the Ozark Highlands Trail. In this rabbit chatter, Ashley tells the story of this miraculous feat in her own words:

    “ Look at that old car,” I remember saying to Faye. I can still see the image clearly, a beat up looking off road vehicle that was abandoned in the woods after breaking down or crashing. Except it wasn’t really there. Neither was the other vehicle, the building, or the boy fishing on the side of the road. But after over 54 hours, everything was a bit funky, and it made perfect sense that some half-jeep had found its final resting place in the Ozarks of Arkansas.

    Ashley Nordell

    It’s been a couple weeks since I spent my (entire!) weekend running, hiking, and often stumbling along 165 miles of the Ozark Highlands trail. The acute pains have subsided, along with the sharp memories of the lows, so all I can really conjure up are thoughts of what an amazing experience I had in one of my favorite states.

    Although going for a record was a nice, tangible goal to focus on, the real joy of that weekend comes down to the friendships, challenges, and seeing a beautiful place that is so different from where I live. It’s not often that we get to experience something so stripped down that all you literally have to do is run. The external details are all being brainstormed for you, and your only responsibility is to put one foot in front of the next, while occasionally forcing down some food. The Ozark Highlands Trail website suggest 10-14 days for a thru hike from Fort Smith State Park to Woolum, Arkansas. To be able to cover that distance over the course of a weekend is such an incredible experience, it’s extremely hard to put into words.

    Ashley Nordell

    When I received a phone call back in early August from my good friend (and previous record holder) Steve Kirk offering his assistance if I wanted to attempt the trail, my thoughts went from “maybe one day” to “I’m totally doing this.” I decided if I made it through Cascade Crest 100 fairly unscathed, I was going to try  for the trail in late October. Part of the draw to this trail for me was to see the color change in Arkansas. Unfortunately, Cascade Crest left me with a hurt hamstring that didn’t seem to improve as the days went on. A month before my self-imposed window of dates (between my husband’s 40th birthday and Halloween), I went to a local PT and felt some immediate progress. Two miles into my first post-PT run I sent a mid-run text to Steve asking if we could still pull it off on such short notice. This impulsive text and plane ticket purchase was how I ended up flying into Little Rock at the end of October with a crazy adventure planned.

    There were definitely moments of panic after I made that commitment, especially as the hamstring acted up again, and then when I got the stomach bug two and a half weeks out from my trip making me unable to even complete a three mile run.  In the two months between Cascade Crest and the Ozark Highlands Trail, I did not do a run longer than about ten miles, and here I was buying maps for a 165 mile trail. About a week before I flew to Arkansas I finally decided I had to turn off all the doubts that the setbacks were causing, and commit to the belief that I could do it. Steve had told me when he and Greg Eason ran the trail they didn’t even discuss possible reasons for stopping. He explained if you had those to fall back on when things got really rough, it would be too easy to stop. I took this to heart and made the decision that I would no longer even consider all the obstacles because they just provided excuses. People were giving up their entire weekend for me, so I could only begin the trail believing I could finish it, and the only finish line could be the Buffalo River in Woolum.

    Ashley Nordell

    Tim Ernst wrote an amazing, mile by mile trail description book for the OHT. He divides the trail into eight sections of 18-30 miles. The day before I began my run, I took an exacto knife and cut the book into each section and put them in Ziploc bags so I didn’t have to carry the entire book at a time. In my mind, I broke the trail up into these pages, and during the run, each time I swapped out bags, it was one section down. Anytime the enormity of the miles to come, or hours I had left, crept into my mind, I would try to go back to just a section of the book at a time. That, and seeing my crew every 7-20 miles, were what helped keep me going during all those hours. Steve Kirk, Greg Eason, and Chris Block were with me the entire trail, both crewing and pacing. I was joined mid-trail by two amazing gals I had never met before, Faye McConnell and Rachel Furman. Rachel paced me the long 20 mile stretch through the Hurricane Wilderness, and poor Faye jumped in the final 40 miles, which was an entire night and much of the last day. When I think of all the highs of this trip, the first and foremost one is this group of people. Steve put together the best crew and pacers I could even imagine.

    Ashley Nordell

    Overall, the logistics of the trek were amazing. Not ever having set foot on the trail before, I relied 100 percent on Steve’s planning. My only responsibility was to run. The first 55 miles of the trail went fairly smoothly in that department. Chris and I set off from Fort Smith at 4am on Friday, and all day long I alternated running with people or going solo. I would run the flats and downhills and walk the climbs. Chris joined me again after mile 55 and we began the eight mile climb into what the guide book describes as one of the most remote and least used sections of the trail. I had encountered some downed trees along the way, but in this stretch it seemed like every time I got into a rhythm we had another tree to climb over or bushwhack around, and then would lose the trail and have to try to find it again in the dark. As the night wore on, I struggled with staying awake, and my pace went from mostly running to mostly walking. Shortly after the half-way point, Greg jumped in and took me another 20 miles into the next day, crossing that magic 100 mile marker, which brought me into entirely new territory. Once the sun rose, my body woke up a bit and I could go back to slightly more running. Just like in ultras, it became a series of highs and lows. Around mile 105 my quads started hurting so badly I struggled with stepping down from rocks or climbing over the trees. There would be sections where, for hours, it would be all leaf covered rocks that on tired, shot legs I just couldn’t run. Miles can go by so slowly when reduced to often 2.5 miles an hour. 

    Ashley Nordell

    Despite the challenges with staying awake, freezing temperatures at night,  and dealing with the terrain and conditions of the trail, I don’t ever remember feeling like I reached a point where I wanted to stop. Again, it came down to the group of people I had out with me and as much as I wanted to reach my goal, I equally wanted to not disappoint them. I have funny memories of trying to carry scrambled eggs in a baggie and having them leak all inside the pockets of my capris, or Faye and I getting asked repetitively by a random guy in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere if we wanted to join his campfire, or hearing about how the guys had a pow-wow in a convenient store over how they would keep me awake on the second night that involved buying 5 Hour Energy and stuffing Espresso Hammer Gels in Faye’s pack with instructions to force feed me them if needed.  There were frustrating times getting lost or wishing there was even one section of trail that wasn’t composed entirely of rocks, but those aren’t the memories that stick with me when I look back at this weekend.

    I remember the huge male elk (that my crazy brain first thought was a horse) that stood right on the trail in our way, the sections of bright blue water and orange and red leaves, and how absolutely incredible it felt to wade across the Buffalo River.  Scrambled eggs never tasted so good and then so bad, and five minute naps in the middle of the trail never seemed like such a luxury.

     I definitely struggled more with trail conditions than I had anticipated I would, but this was a new sort of challenge for me in so many ways, so it was hard to know what to expect. In the end, I can only be completely grateful that I had the opportunity to experience this trail in such a way with the people I had out with me. Friendships become extremely powerful in these sort of extreme situations, and I know they would have been there for me no matter how many hours it took to reach Woolum. And just like an ultra, where you swear “never again!” I am already in the brainstorming phase of what adventure to take on next.

    - rabbitPRO, Ashley Nordell

    Ashley Nordell

    November 14, 2017

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    rabbit race preview: The North Face Endurance Challenge

    With its hefty cash prizes drawing a consistently stacked field, the North Face Endurance Challenge serves as a sort of unofficial North American trail racing championship and it can be found on the calendar of many of the sport’s most talented athletes. The rabbit crew will be out in full force this weekend, with representation in nearly every race distance and some strong candidates for high finishes. We chatted with some of the folks, both from the rabbit team and beyond, who will be throwing down this weekend, who shared their thoughts on everything from race tactics to the most dramatic addition to this year’s course, the Golden Gate Bridge.


    Chris Braden

    As a recently retired professional triathlete, Santa Barbara’s Chris Braden comes into the 50k race with a huge aerobic base and the kind of strength and determination that it takes to KOM one of Santa Barbara’s most contested cycling climbs. What he does not have, though, are any particularly lofty expectations about his finish. “The goal of this race is to have fun. I just want to enjoy every minute of the race. Rarely do I race without some sort of performance goal such as trying to win or simply seeing how hard I can push myself. I'm approaching this race as an opportunity for an epic adventure with Savannah [Braden’s girlfriend].”

    Asked what attracted him to racing at TNF, Braden says it’s all about the scenery. “The trails above SF are some of the most beautiful anywhere around. To top it all off, finishing across the Golden Gate Bridge and on Crissy Field will be nothing short of magical.” As for how he has adapted from tri to ultra training, it’s all about that long run! “We have built up from 2 hour trail runs at the start to our longest run last weekend which was 4 hours. It's been important to keep pushing that point at which we really start to fatigue.”


    Savannah Dearden


    Another Santa Barbara pro triathlete who will be toeing the line this weekend is Savannah Dearden. While Savannah’s boyfriend, Chris Braden, has raced one 50k before, this is Savannah’s first ultra. “My longest run before starting to train for this event was 15 miles so this distance is quite a jump! Honestly, I would have never thought to do this if it weren’t for Chris.”


    Much like Braden, Dearden is attracted to the region’s natural beauty. “I’m originally from Florida, where San Francisco is considered a sort of mythical, real life Disneyland and I still get really excited to visit the area.” And, while she may lack experience on the trails, Dearden has worked diligently to prepare herself for the rigors of the race. “I am not the best natural trail runner (I’m a bit uncoordinated and tend to trip over myself on flat ground so uneven trails are a challenge, ha), so in addition to a long trail run on the weekend I’ve incorporated a lot of strength and balance exercises into my weekly training.”



    Kate Elliott


    Member of the rabbitELITE team, Kate Elliott is an experienced trail racer who has proven all year that it takes a pro to beat her. Indeed, a quick glance at her Ultra Signup results reveals that she has raced seven times since August 2016 and never finished worse than second, with victories taken from her by the likes of elite ultrarunners Keely Henninger and Caroline Boller. Elliott will be racing the 50 miler at TNF, a distance at which she debuted in July at the Mt. Hood 50 Miler. There she finished second, breaking seven hours and becoming the third fastest woman to run the course.


    For Santa Barbara’s Elliott, the biggest appeal of TNF is the ultra-stacked field. “I’m really excited for the chance to compete with some of the very best runners out there. These are women that I admire and follow closely, so it will be really awesome to race against them.” Elliott’s preparation has been intense, logging high mileage weeks with abundant climbing on the steep trails of Santa Barbara’s front country. “This race has a lot more climbing than Mt. Hood and so many fast runners, so I just want to make sure I’ve done everything possible to prepare.”


    Tyler Hansen


    Speed demon, marathon maven, trail star, respected coach—when it comes to running, Tyler Hansen can do it all. A smart and methodical competitor, Hansen, also from Santa Barbara, will be tackling his longest race to date in the 50 miler, but that doesn’t mean he’s not prepared. “The peak of my training included a 28 miler with about 6,800 feet of elevation change. The following day I ran 15 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation change to simulate the later part of the race, running on tired legs. These back-to-back style runs have mentally and physically prepared me to take on my first 50 miler!”


    As for the course, you might say that Hansen prefers things classic. “I don't like when races change courses, because you no longer can compare times against those of past races, so Miller's course record from last year will never be broken. Records are meant to be broken.” Having run across the bridge previously during the San Francisco Marathon, Hansen found the experience “a bit underwhelming, you run in a straight line for almost two miles with sections that have very strong cross winds and cars buzzing by on the other side.” Given his preparation and experience, expect Hansen to meet or exceed his goal of finishing in somewhere between seven and seven and a half hours.


    Dani Moreno


    rabbitPRO Dani Moreno is racing the half marathon with her sights set firmly on victory. “My goal is to be the first female and top 5 overall,” she explains. For Moreno, a Santa Barbarian, the race is a stepping stone in more than one way. In the context of her season, TNF will serve as a tune up race leading into the Xterra World Championships. In the longer term, Moreno plans to move up in distance and is looking to use this race to gain familiarity with the terrain and competition. “I chose to do the half-marathon not only because I knew it would be a great tune-up/rust buster but because I plan on doing the 50 mile here in a few years. “


    Indeed, she may be just as excited about spectating the longer races as she is about running her own. “I have to say the fact that I get to watch so many iconic runners race the day before was a huge draw for me as well. I am extremely excited, and at this point just need to be careful not to go crazy yelling the day before to save up for my own race!” As for the Golden Gate finale, Moreno is intrigued but understandably focused on other course features. “Don't get me wrong I am very excited, but I am really going to focus on the climbs for this race.”


    Kris Brown


    With four wins to his name this season, rabbitPRO Kris Brown is having a pretty stellar 2017. After earning local Santa Barbara legend status by crushing the notoriously cruel 9 Trails 35 Mile Endurance Run in March, Brown went on to further glory in San Diego, where he won the San Diego 100 in June, his debut at the distance. Ever philosophical, Brown’s is clearly more focused on the process than the outcome when it comes to his result in the 50 miler. “The only non-fluid goal that I have is to run what I'll consider in hindsight to be an intelligent and full-effort race.”


    To achieve that goal, Brown plans to focus on pacing himself and starting conservatively. “Especially in ultrarunning, a lot can be gained from positive mental energy late in a race. Being able to cope with the idea of the remaining distance is huge for momentum, as is passing people in the later miles.” What will that look like in practical terms? “Watch for all smiles through 50k, is what I'm saying.” Despite his modesty, Brown is a legit contender for a high finish, having put in major training all year. “I pretty much continued my 100-miler training knowing that my inexperience in the longer races will continue to be my weakness for a while...I'm plenty quick for a 50-miler, so my goal was to get my legs to the point at which beyond mile 40 they won't be so shot that I'm not able to race hard.”



    Renee Metivier


    Coming off of her recent win at the USA Trail Marathon Championships in Moab, Utah, rabbitPRO Renee Metivier is targeting another victory in the 50 mile race. She is far from smug, though, adding “I am so new to this distance that I have a healthy fear of the race. I know I am going into new territory I haven’t experience yet.”  Metivier, who lives and trains in Bend, Oregon, is excited for the challenge and prepared for the pain that her lofty goal may require. “I fully expect the suffering that will entail,” she says of racing for the win.


    Metivier explains that, “This particular race attracted me because it is a big race in the trail scene with a challenging course incorporating lots of vert while still being runnable and playing to my strengths with more of a road background.” She plans to race strategically, reflecting her respect for the race and competitors. “I know I am going into new territory that I haven't experienced yet. The strong competition just adds to that healthy fear and respect, as well as the need to race smart and patient.”


    And if the USA Trail Marathon Championships and TNF 50 miler weren’t enough for Metivier, soon after she plans to toe the line at the USA Road Marathon Championships in early December, which are being run as part of the California International Marathon in Sacramento.  Metivier will be a top contender in that race as well, as she is the number one seeded female with a time of 2:27:17 (Chicago, 2012).  

    November 10, 2017

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    fueled friday: vegan roasted cauliflower tacos

    F U E L E D F R I D A Y: we know that many of you runners out there are vegan, vegetarian, or just enjoy eating plant-based every now and then. If that's you, then we have just the recipe for you - vegan roasted cauliflower tacos with chipotle romesco! 

    This recipe comes from the amazing Dana over at Minimalist Baker.  If you don't already follow Minimalist Baker on Instagram, we highly recommend it! 

    Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Chipotle Romesco

    Prep time: 5 mins

    Cook time: 25 mins

    Total time: 30 mins 

    Smoky, roasted cauliflower tacos with a spicy chipotle romesco sauce! An easy (30 minutes!) and flavorful plant-based meal that's versatile, healthy, and so satisfying!

    Author: Minimalist Baker

    Recipe type: Entrée

    Cuisine: Mexican-Inspired, Vegan, Gluten-Free

    Serves: ~12 tacos

    Original recipe

    INGREDIENTS

    CAULIFLOWER

    • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sizes pieces (smaller pieces roast more quickly!)
    • 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) avocado or coconut oil (if avoiding oil, omit or sub with water) 
    • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt

    SAUCE

    • 4 cloves garlic (12 g), skin on
    • 1/4 cup (28 g) raw almonds
    • 1 15-ounce (425 g) can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
    • 2 cloves raw garlic, peeled
    • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil (or sub water)
    • 1 lime, juiced (~3 Tbsp or 45 ml)
    • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
    • 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup, plus more to taste
    • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (more for spicier sauce)

    FOR SERVING

    • 12-15 corn tortillas
    • Lime juice / wedges
    • optional: fresh cilantro optional: Thinly sliced red cabbage
    • optional: pepitas

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and add cauliflower to 1 large (or 2 small) baking sheets. Add oil (or omit/sub water), cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt. Toss to combine and roast on the bottom rack for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender. 

    2.  To a separate baking sheet, add raw almonds and the 4 unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast on the center rack for 10-12 minutes or until the almonds have started to brown/crack and the garlic is starting to get golden brown in color. Remove from oven and set aside.

    3.  While cauliflower finishes roasting, add drained, fire-roasted tomatoes to a high-speed blender along with almonds, roasted garlic (peeled), raw garlic (peeled), oil (or water), lime juice, paprika, cumin, salt, maple syrup, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

    4.  Blend on high until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more lime for acidity, garlic for kick/zing, salt for saltiness, paprika or cumin for smokiness, maple syrup to offset heat/add sweetness, or chipotle peppers for more heat.

    5.  To serve, warm tortillas in the microwave or in the oven directly on the still-warm oven racks until pliable. Then add 1-2 Tbsp of the romesco sauce and a generous portion of cauliflower. Serve as is or garnish with lime juice/wedges, cilantro, cabbage, and/or pepitas (optional).

    6.  Best when fresh. Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator up to 1 week (or 1 month in the freezer), and the cauliflower in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Reheat cauliflower in a 350-degree F (176 C) oven until warm (best when fresh).

    Notes *Nutrition information is a rough estimate for 1 taco of 12 tacos without additional garnish (pepitas, herbs, etc.).

    Nutrition Information

    Serving size: 1 of 12 tacos without garnish Calories: 110 Fat: 5.4 g Saturated fat: 0.7 g Carbohydrates: 14.4 g Sugar: 2.1 g Sodium: 107 mg Fiber: 2.7 g Protein: 2.5 g

    Original recipe can be found here.  

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