This week, F U E L E D F R I D A Y is brought to you by RADrabbit Makena Lidie. Makena is a plant-based ultra runner, studying nutritional science. Makena is sharing her take on scrumptious avocado toast. Thank you Makena for sharing this epic goodness with us all. Friyay!
Avocado toast is a simple offering that has quickly risen to a prominence as trendy brunch staple. And for good reason! It’s a dish with endless possibilities and it’s almost impossible to mess up. No matter what variation you consume, there are always three basic components: avocado, some form of bread, and an additional element of flavor. As an ultra runner and full-time student working two jobs, it’s important to me to find nutritionally dense meals that I can quickly prepare and still feel like I’m being creative in the kitchen. Avocado toast fulfills those requirements, so it’s my favorite go-to breakfast. That being said, I think avocado smeared on anything is heavenly, so I like to always have a few avocados on hand. Not only are avocados a delicious fruit, they are chalk full of phytosterols, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
My current favorite variation includes:
- toasted low sodium Ezekiel Bread
- ¼ medium diced Haas avocado
- quartered organic cherry tomatoes
- a dash of paprika and dried turmeric
- a sprinkle of dried red pepper flakes
- a pinch of pink Himalayan salt
- roughly chopped cilantro to top it all off
It’s a simple combination and I almost always have those ingredients in the fridge, but the flavors are complex enough to keep it interesting. If it’s going to be a post-run breakfast then I’ll up the serving to two slices of bread and half an avocado and have sautéed kale or spinach on the side. As an athlete who’s studying nutritional science, I’m acutely aware of the importance of post run meals. I’m sure that most of us have heard of the 30 minute rule, which suggests eating within 30 minutes of completing a workout to prevent additional breakdown and enhance recovery. The type of refueling is equally as important as the timing. By fueling with antioxidant rich, unprocessed, whole foods, the body is able to operate more efficiently and recover faster. So grab an avocado and see what wacky combos are hiding in your fridge!
See you on the trails!
“Motivation remains key to the marathon: the motivation to begin; the motivation to continue; the motivation never to quit.” ~ Hal Higdon
It's true, you know. Running a marathon will change your life. But, it won't be easy. We are so honored to share this blog with you written by RADrabbit Monique Bienvenue as she trains for her first 26.2 and gets a little advice from rabbit co-founder Jill Deering in finding the right motivation to get her to the finish line.
I can remember the conversation like it took place yesterday. I was talking to my co-worker and former runner, Joe, about registering for my next race (the Two Cities Half Marathon) when he asked the question that used to make me cringe, “So you’ve ran multiple halves, when are you going to register for a full?”
I didn’t say anything right away; in fact, I avoided the question entirely and started laughing. Me? Run a full? The idea alone was daunting. Sure, my overall goal is to qualify for Boston one day, but did I feel like I was ready to finally tackle a marathon? No, definitely not. In fact, the mere thought of training for something of that nature freaked me out. Later that day, Joe passed by my desk again and I found myself saying something that shocked even me. I looked at Joe and told him that I was going to run the Surf City Marathon in February, 2017.
Later that day, I had a serious talk with myself. I looked at my planner and noted all the events, meetings, social gatherings, lessons and appointments that I had scheduled for the next few months. Being that I’m a pretty serious runner already, and have been racing regularly for the past two years, I always designate time in my schedule to run. Training for a marathon, however, meant double the mileage, double the time and more likely than not, double the exhaustion.
Fortunately for me, I’ve been a brand ambassador for an amazing running apparel company called rabbit for the past few months, and through its wonderful community of runners, I decided to reach out to rabbit Co-Founder and Elite Runner Jill Deering. Now just to give you some perspective, Jill is one BUSY lady. I’ve always considered myself a busy person, but this talented woman definitely takes “busy” to the next level. Not only is Jill a PHENOMENAL runner, she's also a full time attorney and the co-founder of one of the hottest running apparel companies in Southern California, rabbit. With a full time job, training (and qualifying for the Boston Marathon) and running a start-up, how on Earth does she do it?
Fortunately, Jill shared some of her wisdom with me as we discussed some of the things she does to balance being a talented attorney, an outstanding athlete and a tenacious entrepreneur.
Here's what she told me:
"I love running. I mean I really LOVE running, so it very rarely feels like a grind. Every night when I go to sleep, I can’t wait to wake up so that I can run. Is that weird?! That being said, it is hard to manage everything. Time management is vital. My life follows a relatively strict schedule so that I can fit it all in. I always plan running into my daily schedule and make it a priority. That means if I have an 8am meeting on the same day as a 2hr run, I am waking up very early to get it done. At times this can be hard to do, and can be stressful, but it’s ALWAYS worth it. I guess I operate with a fair amount of energy, because working a full day after a 20-mile morning run, takes a lot. But, here are some tips for those training and working a full time job:
Schedule your runs into your daily schedule, otherwise it’s too easy to lose track of time or skip a workout
If you fit your run in before you go to work, it will always get done
Most of us are never going to be Olympians, so remember why you run and always try to have fun with training
Keep extra running clothes and shoes at your office just in case you get off work early or have some other unplanned opportunity to run
Use 10 minutes of your lunch break every day to stretch and foam roll
A tired slow run is still a run
For ladies, blow drying is a luxury ;)
Remember how good you feel after a run and use that as motivation to get out the door and run!"
After the conversation I had with Jill, I knew I had to step up my game. Yes, I already took running seriously, and yes I already made time for it, but let's be real - sometimes it's easy to let life get the best of you and allow a workout (or two, or three) to go down the drain. So I tried rearranging my already busy schedule to focus more on training, and here's what I've learned thus far.
Sleep is important. Unfortunately for me, I already wake up at the crack of dawn to commute to work and get everything done for the day. Working in the Public Relations industry means being flexible, traveling a lot and being detail oriented every minute of the work day. After working 9-10 hours a day, my brain is usually fried - throw running into the mix and you have one TIRED individual. There have been a few days, however, that I thought I was invincible, worked like crazy, trained and only slept for about 4-5 hours. As you can imagine, I quickly learned that that was a terrible idea. The less I slept, the worse my workouts. Needless to say, my lesson was learned.
Meal prep is crucial. If you're always on-the-go like me, it's imperative to set time during the week to prepare healthy, nutritious meals. It's true what they say - the crappier you eat the worse you'll feel. I can always feel a significant difference in my energy levels and the qualities of my runs when I eat fast food as opposed to a healthy meal. And trust me, meal prepping makes life 100% easier during the week. After working long hours and training, the last thing you want to worry about is making time to cook a meal.
Remind yourself why you started. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to throw my running shoes at the wall because I didn't feel like I was progressing. Naturally competitive, I always strive to be the best at whatever I do, so when my Garmin tells me that I ran slower than I had anticipated, I want to quit. But as soon as I remember how much I've improved over the last two years, and all the amazing people and opportunities that running has brought me, it's easier to keep going.
Make a plan and REALLY stick to it. Every week, I sit down at my desk and schedule my workouts for the week. This helps me allot time to run, it helps me to accommodate my other priorities and it gives me a sense of calm knowing that I'm one step closer to achieving my goal. Does that mean sometimes skipping on a night with out friends? Yes. Does that mean waking up early on your days off? Yes. But goals are goals and if you are truly passionate about something, you will make time for it.
Stay hydrated. When you’re always on the go, it’s relatively easy to forget to drink water. There have been times where I don’t keep track of how much water I’ve drank, have gone out for a run and found myself suffering because I felt incredibly light-headed. It’s not a great feeling, and my workouts always suffer because of it. In order to prevent this from happening, I started to keep track of how much I’ve drank throughout the day by noting it in my planner. It might sound crazy, but I always perform much better when I’m hydrated.
There is strength in numbers. While there are some people that love to run mile after mile from sun up to sun down by themselves, there are people like me who are ready to go home after a few good miles. But as we all know, that doesn’t work when training for a marathon. In order to help keep myself accountable on days where I’ve scheduled distance runs I either invite a friend to join me or I purposely tell others what my plans are to help keep me motivated.
Running is a fabulous sport, and I have BIG plans for myself in the near future. But just like anything else, if you want to do something well you have to dedicate time and energy to the craft. With a half marathon coming up for me in November, and a full coming up in February, I have A LOT of work cut out for myself over the next few months. Fortunately for me, however, I’m part of a community of runners and dreamers who motivate me, inspire me and encourage me to stick to my goals every day. I may or may not qualify for Boston in 2017, but let me assure you, I will one day. If there’s anything that running has taught me over the past two years, it’s that nothing is impossible with a dedicated heart, a positive mentality and strong legs.
So keep dreaming, everyone. It’s that passion that ultimately gets you past the finish line. ;)
- Monique Bienvenue, RADrabbit
Note: All photos of me were taken by local Fresno photographer Megan Stone. Check out her work at @meganstonephotography!
Sometimes life brings us disappointment and heartbreak. It's how we respond to it that truly defines us. Read this incredible story from our RADrabbitPRO Ryan Miller about how he faced, and overcame, heartbreak. We are so proud to support you Ryan!
A theory began to swell from deep within as I sat on that wooden bench at the dog park. A profound dichotomy was yielding an insightful notion. These dogs completely flipped the script, and all they were doing was playing a game of chase…
A little background on this rabbit: My name is Ryan Miller, born and bred in the small Texas hill country town of Boerne. I was refined into a functioning, young citizen at Texas A&M University where I graduated May 2015 with a degree in Industrial Distribution. Currently, I am employed with the “Best Large Company to Work For” according to the Houston Chronicle for five years running, Anadarko Petroleum, in Houston, Texas. But back to the story…
On a crisp, dew-filled Sunday morning in Houston, three weeks out from the Olympic Marathon Trials, I could see my dreams becoming a reality. The goal: 20 miles with the first 10 steady and the last 10 at goal marathon pace. The result: 20 miles at 5:24 average with the first 10 at 5:35 pace and the last 10 at 5:13 pace (including a 4:57 20th mile). The body was primed, the mind was sharpened, and the confidence was brimming.
Fast forward to one week out from the race. After exploring the Houston Museum of Natural Science, a friend and I popped over to a little hole in the wall for some fish tacos. I wouldn’t quite call them the dankest tacos in the world, but they hit the spot. Later that evening, I began to feel some pain in my stomach bubble up. On a scale of slight indigestion to zombies ripping my intestines out, it was leaning towards indigestion. I chalked it up to the fish, slurped some Pepto Bismol, and hit the sack. Going to work on Monday, stomach pain started to increase a little bit. On a scale of slight indigestion to zombies ripping my intestines out, it had now escalated to one hour after eating an entire Little Caesar’s Hot-N-Ready pizza. Still just brushed it off as a little food poisoning that my body was working through. I’m hopeful as Tuesday rolls around that there would be some slight improvement, but alas, the exact opposite was occurring. On a scale of slight indigestion to zombies ripping my intestines out, it felt as if somebody was giving an unrelenting Indian burn to my insides. I took off the afternoon to go home and rest. Wednesday rolls around and the scales have been tipped. The feeling of zombies going to town had finally prompted a trip to the emergency room. I was thinking that these medical professionals could surely solve this issue and have me feeling fantastic before my flight to Los Angeles the next morning. Nope. The doctor walked in with a morbid face and announced that I would need to be rushed into surgery ASAP as a result of the acute appendicitis I was suffering from. I couldn’t believe what they had just said. I had been flying on cloud 9 for the last few months, and all of sudden I was free falling with no parachute attached. As I sat there speechlessly, a few tears began to roll down my face. The nurse parked herself on my gurney and assured me that this is a pretty typical procedure and I would not die. This actually caused me to laugh a bit, as these people I was surrounded by hadn’t the slightest inkling of the major milestone I would now be missing out from. No explanation was needed at this point. I laid my head down, was rolled into the emergency operating room, and let the anesthesia take me away from the physical and mental anguish that had been thrust upon me so suddenly.
Three days later, I was resting in the recovery room watching Galen Rupp run away from the field at the Olympic Marathon Trials on a sizzling day in Los Angeles. Many friends and former competitors were running. It was terribly bittersweet to follow them during the most competitive marathon of their respective careers, and what could have been of mine.
So the Olympic Marathon Trials had come and passed. It was now going to be another 4 years before I would have another opportunity to chase my dreams. The couple of weeks that followed, unable to run while still recovering from the surgery, left questions racing through my mind. Was God saying that this opportunity just wasn’t meant for me? Will I ever get back to that peak fitness level as my career and life continue to expand? Will I ever make it back again? But then on a weekend trip to the dog park with my family, it clicked.
So we are back on the bench at the dog park. A medium-sized black lab is chasing a smaller beagle mix in the open field on the far side of the park. But the beagle had one thing going for it that the lab didn’t. It had all four legs. This lab relentlessly continued to chase the little beagle all over the park despite missing its left front leg! And the crazy thing was, it didn’t care one bit. If a dog loses a limb, that dog doesn’t spend one second wondering “Why did I lose my limb?” If a dog loses a limb, it’s immediately out at the dog park learning to run as fast, or even faster than when they had four legs. They don’t care. They’re just as happy. Losing that limb means nothing to them, and they go on to live an incredible life.
That’s the mentality I decided I would have from that point forward. Who cares what has happened in the past, how much you’ve lost, how much you’ve hurt. You look forward, and you make the most of every single day. You never ever waste a heartbeat. Take your experiences and build on them. Even the most negative of experiences have the ability to shape us positively if we view them through the right lens. Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials!
I have so much gratitude for my primary sponsor rabbit for signing on with me just after the surgery. When I was at my lowest, the rabbit team was there to help lift my spirits and get me back in the game! Thank you for all your support and I can’t wait to continue building towards 2020 with my pack of rabbits by my side!
- Ryan Miller, RADrabbitPRO
F U E L E D F R I D A Y this week is brought to you by our own Michelle Battista.
We are honored to share a story about one of our RADrabbits, Stacey Parker Bailey. Stacey's story is so inspiring and reminds us just how lucky we are to be healthy, happy and able to run. Also, as an update, Stacey's surgery took place on 9/23/16 as planned and she is recovering well. We wish you a speedy and successful recovery Stacey!
I am not even sure where to start as I never have imagined this journey I have been on the past 2 years. A little background on me, I have been running for over 20 years (since high school) with numerous races including shorter distances and marathons under my belt. Running is not just something I do, it is a passion, and I enjoy the competition as much as the social aspect of running with friends. I moved to Santa Barbara 5 years ago and found Santa Barbara Running and Racing about a year after I moved (don’t ask why it took me a year to join, I wish I would have joined earlier as it’s such a great group of people to run with). I started running track consistently and participated in many local races and just enjoying running in SB.
About 2 years ago I was running a typical track workout on a Tuesday morning and had just finished an interval. I was jogging in between sets when I got very light headed and had to stop. The next thing I remember was the face of a paramedic looking at me lying on the ground. I rode in an ambulance to the hospital where they ran numerous tests to try to figure out what made me collapse and pass out. After staying in the hospital for a day, they had no answers for me and figured it was a fluke occurrence so they let me go.
Fast forward to 4 months later I had been back running consistently (including many intense track workouts), I was out on Saturday group run when I collapsed again. This time I don’t remember anything from the time I was running to waking up in the ER. The crazy thing is when I went down I was alone as the girls I was running with had turned around earlier and the guys in the group were far ahead of me. Some woman happened to be driving by and saw me go down so she stopped and called 9-1-1. If that hadn’t been the case I don’t know how long I would have been down before someone found me. I have a strong faith in God so I don’t believe that was by chance!
This time they kept me in the hospital longer and called in a heart specialist (electrophysiologist cardiologist) to run more tests. What they found was not something I ever imagined in a million years. I have an irregular heart rhythm that was causing me to collapse called ventricular tachycardia. Unfortunately this rhythm is the most dangerous one as it is deadly if not stopped. Basically my heart beats so fast that it can’t get blood flow or oxygen to my brain which is why I collapsed. Somehow I was able to come out of this rhythm 2 times on my own, which is something the doctor could not explain as he told me most people die in my situation. He explained my options, which were to implant an internal defibrillator (ICD) that would shock me if my heart were to ever go into that rhythm again and attempt to resume a somewhat normal life. He told me I could continue to run, but at 60% of what I was doing before. I am not sure where he came up with that number or what it was based on, but basically he felt the number of miles I was running was putting too much stress on my heart.
I had to take a month or so off running completely and then try to slowly work my way back without freaking out too much that my ICD was going to fire at any minute. It took a while, but I eventually got back to running and racing. I had started strength training consistently when I was unable to run at first, so when I started back consistently I felt a lot stronger and even faster than before. It was such an awesome feeling to go back to running again and feeling like my old self. I remember running my first half marathon after the surgery (November 2015) and feeling so strong and healthy, it was an awesome feeling!
So for about a year and a half I was feeling amazing, running with my friends and some fast races. Then in May I went out on an easy run a couple of days before a half marathon I was planning to run and something didn’t feel right immediately. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath from the beginning but chalked it up to asthma (I have exercised-induced asthma). About 2 miles into my run I had to stop as I felt very short of breath, and all of a sudden I felt like something kicked me in the chest. It took me a moment to realize what had happened, but then it dawned on me that my ICD had just gone off. I freaked out a little bit as I was alone (and didn’t have my phone) so I wasn’t sure what I should do. Thankfully I had planned to go on a longer run and was only 2 miles from home, so I had time to walk (slowly) back home. I found my husband and immediately broke down in tears when I told him. I was so thankful I had this thing in my chest that just saved my life, but also scared and unsure of what to do next or why it had happened all of the sudden.
I called my cardiologist after I got to work and got into see him. Needless to say I was told I couldn’t run the race on Saturday and to take a few days off running. He didn’t think it would happen again, but it did twice in the next week when I tried to run. The next step in these situations is to prescribe a medication to slow the heart rate down in hopes that it will stop it from happening again. I was put on a beta blocker which I wasn’t thrilled about but had no other options at that point. Well, I have to say that I never imagined how crappy one medication could make someone feel. Since it slows my heart rate down, trying to run at any speed is impossible, let alone even trying to walk up stairs or ride my bike up a hill! It makes me light headed, dizzy, and short of breath all of the time. I decided that this is something I cannot stay on so I pursed the surgical route (getting an ablation to try to stop the rhythm). My doctor does not perform these types of surgery so I was referred to UCLA. After a few months of tests and waiting, the doctor at UCLA determined I have scar tissue on my heart that the cause behind my abnormal rhythm, so he is going to perform an ablation 9/23. This should stop this from ever happening again and get me off this medication that I hate so much.
Thankfully I haven’t had any other episodes of my ICD firing since May, but I have also not been able to run any distance or speed (due to the medication) which likely has helped also. My goal is to get back to running fast and free again which I haven’t been able to do for many months and just feel normal on a daily basis. I see the Rabbit logo “Born to Run Free” and my wish is to do that again very soon! I do question why this had to happen to me, but I believe that God allows everything happens for a reason and hopefully this journey will make me appreciate running and life so much more. I am thankful for an awesome husband and great friends who have been there for me and supported me through this entire process (and even walked with me when I couldn’t run)! I feel blessed and hope to provide an update on a successful surgery soon!
- Stacey Parker Bailey, RADrabbit
This week we are stoked to have our friend and incredibly talented trail runner extraordinaire, Charity Dubberly, offer her raw peach tart recipe to all you rabbit fans. You can follow her healthy lifestyle and find other yummy recipes on her blog Garden Eats.
We would like to wish Charity all the best as she is about to have her 2nd baby in the next few weeks. Thank you Charity for offering you epic recipe to all of us!
This tart is one dessert that looks like a million bucks but is really quite easy to put together. You can use it all year long, varying the fruits based on what is in season. I like it best in the summer with peaches, when I don't feel like turning on the oven.
Dates might be the perfect athlete food. (One of my favorite fast early morning pre-run snacks is a date with a spoonful of almond butter and some chia seeds.) They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium, and potassium. The fiber is important to help regular the pace at which your body absorbs the sugars, so they are a great choice either before or after you exercise.
The protein and fat in the nuts round out the nutritional profile of this dessert, not to mention the sweet deliciousness of whatever fruit you choose as a natural plant-based treat.
And, in our current culture of varying dietary preferences, this one can satisfy most since its free of gluten or animal products.
There are many reasons to avoid refined, processed sugar as much as possible, but for our family, the two that stand out the most are:
1. Refined sugar wreaks havoc on your immune system. Since cutting out most sugar (and dairy), I've found that we get sick less often, and if we do it is fairly mild. (That is saying a lot when you have a 3-year-old in your house!)
2. Refined sugars cause inflammation. Some inflammation is good, but when you are working your body hard, its important to maximize your recovery efforts.
Raw peach tart
Recipe adapted from The Rawtarian
1 1/2 cups nuts (I like to combine macadamia nuts and pecans, but walnuts or hazelnuts work great too)
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1 pinch sea salt
1/4 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
Cashew Cream filling
1 1/2 cups cashews
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey (or agave, or maple syrup)
1/8 cup coconut oil
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water, if necessary to help blend into cream
2-4 peaches, sliced very thinly
or 1 pint berries, sliced
Combine nuts, dates and salt in food processor. Run until well processed but still airy. Sprinkle coconut onto the bottom of an 8" or 9" pie plate, Springform pan, or square baking pan. Press the nut/date mixture down on top of the coconut to form the crust. Store in the refrigerator while you make the cashew cream.
Combine cashew cream filling ingredients (except water) into a high-speed blender. Add as little water as possible to get it to a creamy but thick texture. Spread mixture on top of the crust. Arrange sliced fruit on top, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To make a cheesecake version:
Double the filling. Pour on top of the crust, and pop into the freezer for about 1 hour. Blend 2 cups of frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, etc) with 1/2 cup dates, and pour on top of the filling. Freeze for at least 4-5 hours, then defrost for 30 minutes before eating for a softer texture.
To make an energy bite version (similar to a Larabar):
Combine the crust ingredients with 1/2-3/4 cup dried fruit of your choice (coconut, cherries, apricots, etc). Roll into balls or cut into squares. Store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
We are incredibly excited to share the journey of one of our RADrabbits, Josh Christensen, as he sets to run an amazing and inspirational 26 26.2 mile runs while he is 26 years old. Read all about it from Josh himself:
It was six months before my twenty-sixth birthday, and I was consumed by coming up with some sort of ridiculous goal for what I had already dubbed my “marathon birthday.” I had previously completed a small handful of ultramarathon races, including a fifty miler the year prior, so I knew that I could complete 26.2. How could I add a little something to the 26.2 to make it more challenging, but still somewhat realistic? I toyed with the idea of training to get my BQ, but I’m not all that interested in doing speed work and having my eyes glued to my watch while running. In addition to this, 3:05 is probably outside the realm of possibility for me at this point in time.
One Sunday morning I was in church with my wife Emily, and the idea of the 26-26-26 came to me. I’m sure what the priest was saying this day was beautiful and life-giving, but I was stuck on my new idea. The idea stemmed from what the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence, did in 2015. He completed fifty Ironman Triathlons in all fifty states in fifty consecutive days. That dude is nuts, but I was able to tone down what he did and make it my own. My goal is to run 26 26.2 mile runs while I’m 26 years old. I told Emily about it on our way out of mass that morning, and she was a little taken aback. I imagine that she also thought I was dreaming, and that I wouldn't actually follow through. I can’t blame her; I’m a bit of a dreamer, and many of these dreams fade away once I begin to think of the logistics of them.
This goal is scary. I have never attempted a long-term running goal like this. I’d have to average a marathon every other week to complete it. Typically, I train for a big race, and when that race is over, it’s over. What if I get injured? What if I lose motivation and burnout? What about race fees and travel costs? What about the time commitment? There’s a good chance that I will fail due to one or more of these reasons, but I will certainly fail if I don’t go for it.
For a month or so I was too scared to tell more people about this goal. I knew that once I told my runner friends they would hold me accountable. This is a good thing, but I didn’t know that I was ready for this accountability yet. I began to pick up my mileage a bit and add some longer runs. And then I started to share my goal with a few people. The responses were varied: about half of the people told me there was no way I could do this, and the other half was encouraging and said it’ll be tough, but not impossible. I’m glad that I received both types of responses; I needed the positivity, but I’m also glad to go out and prove some people wrong.
I ran my first 26.2 on East Camino Cielo Road in Santa Barbara. I didn’t sign up for a race or measure out the course; I just got up early and ran until my Garmin said I had run 26.2.
Emily came up with me and rode her bike next to me for much of this run and kept my bottle filled with Tailwind. Since I knew that I would have twenty-five more marathons ahead of me in the near future, I chose to experiment a bit with my nutrition on this run. By the time that this year is over, I’m hoping to have my nutrition and hydration plan dialed in. I didn’t bonk, but I certainly should have eaten a few more Gu’s.
My second 26.2 ended up turning into 31 miles. I ran the Bulldog 50k in Malibu, California. Trail races are a blast, and I feel more at home on the trails than on the roads. Some people were telling me that it was bold to choose to do a 50k trail run with 5000 feet of elevation gain for my second 26.2 in ten days, but my thought is that once you run beyond twenty miles, it’s all the same anyways. There’s just something about a trail ultra that makes the experience more enjoyable.
This past weekend I finished my third 26.2 in twenty-four days. It was my first road marathon race experience. I never quite understood paying a huge amount to run on a flat, boring road, when I could be running in the mountains. I knew the race was coming up, but I was on the fence about entering. A few days prior to the Ventura Marathon I searched Craigslist just to see if somebody was selling their race bib for some reason. I found one for sale, and went on to purchase my entry on Craigslist from a guy whose friend had bailed on him. This was also a first.
The whole experience of the Ventura Marathon could be a blog post in itself. Since we’re on a major budget, Emily and I slept in the back of my car near the start line the night before the race. We put the back seats down, and crammed my old twin mattress from college into the back of the car. We didn’t take into account that it was Saturday night, and that we were in Downtown Ventura. We were woken up by loud people having a good time and by police sirens a number of times. I managed to get three solid hours of sleep between 2:00 and 5:00 when my alarm went off. As rough as this night of sleep was, it sure was nice to get out of bed and walk to the start.
I understand the draw to road marathons now. It was fun to see all of the people out on the streets cheering runners on, and being a part of the group of thousands of runners. The course was an out and back course, so I got to see some familiar faces while I was on my way out and they were on their way back. I had never run a marathon for time, so I didn’t know how to pace myself for something like this. I set an arbitrary time goal of four hours, and went out with the 3:55 pace group. I felt good about ten miles in and took off from this group talking with a runner in a No Meat Athlete singlet. I used to sport a NMA singlet in races, and it was fun to talk to somebody else about their plant-based diet. Though I lost her as we went through a water station, I kept my pace pretty even and relaxed through twenty miles. I couldn’t resist the urge to look at my watch during the final 10k and speculate where I would finish. I increased my effort a bit and came through the line at 3:48. It was a fun experience, and I look forward to training to race a marathon one day.
I’m not sure what my next 26.2 is going to look like. I have a few routes in Santa Barbara that I’d like to try. I’d also like to run one around a track, just to say that I did it. Beyond these vague ideas, I’m just making this up as I go. With finances being the greatest roadblock to me so far, I’m learning to be creative with these runs and I’m enjoying every bit of it.
When I was developing the goal, I thought about trying to make a big deal about it and attempting to bring attention or raise funds for some organizations I support. I learned that I didn’t really know how to go about this. I’d still like to impact others in some way with this running, but, for now, I’m just doing this for me. I’m doing this because it’s hard, and I want to see if I can do it. Maybe once I get a few more under my belt people will become more interested and want to support the journey. For now, though, I’m going to run most of these on local trails and roads on my own and try to buy some more race bibs on Craigslist.
Since this is a goal I know that I cannot complete alone, I’d love to connect with more runners. Maybe we can run a 26.2 together sometime soon.
- Josh Christensen, RADrabbit
When I put my name in for the Cascade Crest 100 mile Endurance Run lottery last January I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I mean, I knew I was ready to attempt the 100 mile distance, but when my friends talked me into CC little did I know that it was in fact one of the hardest 100 mile races in the US. Cascade Crest has a well deserved reputation as one of the best 100 mile parties out there. Highlights include 22,000'+ of climbing, about 32 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail, running through the 2.3 mile Snoqualmie Tunnel, lots of tall trees and tough trails!! The one thing I did know about the race was that it had the genuine old school ultra vibe and was not overly commercialized. So I knew I would dig the people putting on the event and the people running the race.
Here is the elevation chart:
I thought sure, I'll sign up for the lottery. There is not a chance in hell I will get in. Never in my life has my name been chosen when it comes to raffle drawings or anything of the sorts. I went onto ultrasignup.com and signed up in January of 2016 and went on with my life and running trails per usual. Then come February 13th, a Saturday morning. I was up at 5:30am drinking coffee and checking email before I head to our Santa Barbara Running and Racing Saturday group and I get an email from ultrasignup.com that I had in fact gotten into the race. Yes, it was an oh shit moment. I get to run group and quickly find my friends, Dave and DeAnna Odell and asked if they had also gotten in. Sigh, they were on the wait list. Really!!! Luckily, they both ended up getting in the race.
So I had a good 6 months of training to plan ahead of me. I won't bore you with all of the details that went into my training....let's just say it was interesting. I have 2 little boys, own two running stores (Santa Barbara Running) with my husband and rabbit had just launched at a pace that was incredibly fast. Needless to say, there was lots of life on the plate. But thankfully, my husband Joe is my biggest supporter and I was able to have a very solid summer of training. Fast forward to August 25th.
Race weekend arrives! We board the flight to Seattle from Santa Barbara with our friends, Dave and DeAnna. First stop, hit up Portage Bay Cafe in Seattle for breakfast. Their motto is "Eat Like You Give A Damn", which we all took to heart. The amount of food we consume over the next 2 days before the race is unreal.
Joe and I waiting for the first of many meals to arrive:
We then go visit Brian and Caroline at Fleet Feet Seattle. I showed Brian the rabbit holiday '16 and spring '17 product lines - he gave them both a thumbs up! I always make it a priority to visit the local running shops in every town I visit.
We then headed about 70 miles east of Seattle. The race would start in Easton, WA. I am so grateful for my friend Jen Brown's generosity. She let Joe and I stay at her condo at Suncadia Resort. It was so peaceful and beautiful. We check in and immediately go down the 1000 steps for a river soak. It was so lush and beautiful. For us Californians, to see flowing water and green trees is very special these days with our on-going drought.
DeAnna going in the for the soak:
On Friday we slept in and did a beautiful shakeout run on some trails around the property. I couldn't believe how fresh my legs felt. Usually the day before my races I feel terrible. So I wasn't sure if this was a good thing or not.
We then ate more and pretty much just tried to stay off our feet and relax the rest of the day. I was feeling pretty calm. I prepped my drop bags and got everything ready for the next morning. We went to dinner and went to bed early. The race did not start until 9am on Saturday morning. I wasn't sure how I felt about such a late start. I guess it was nice to be able to sleep in a little and take your time in the morning. We had to be at the Easton Fire Station by 8am for check-in and for the briefing from the race director.
The race website listed all of the entrants. So before the race you could see who would be there. One of my trail idols Krissy Moehl was there (she went on to win the race in 22:22). Joe snapped this pic of her at Mile 25.
The entire scene was surreal. I was getting a little antsy before the start. After the briefing meeting was over we still had over a half hour until start time. I used the bathroom for the millionth time and sat in the van to keep warm. We were so lucky with the weather. It had been very warm since we had been in Washington. We woke up Saturday and the high for the day called for low 70s. We could not have asked for more ideal temperatures. Finally, it's about 5 min until 9am and we head to the start.
As DeAnna and I make our way up to our starting position we look next to us and there is a girl head to toe in rabbit. I thought to myself, this is gonna be an epic day. 164 people racing and there is a rabbit fan standing right next to me out of everyone there. The girl's name was Jade Belzberg. And her fiancée is Nick Hollon. He is a pro-ultra runner. We ran with Jade about the first 15 miles of the race. She went on to get 9th female. Here is a pic Nick took at the start of the race. Jade is wearing the women's tee amo and legs.
The race starts exactly at 9am. We start flat for about 2 miles. I was so happy to finally be running. DeAnna and I started talking and laughing and just doing our thing. We start very slow and conservative.
Then the climbing starts. They say the first half of this race is "easier" than the second half. We power hike all the steep ups, conserving as much as possible. I will admit, I was already a little shocked at the intensity of the climbs so early on. I felt fine, but I knew this would get interesting very early in the race for my glutes and back. Around mile 9 we are able to finally run some. Then at mile 19 we get on the Pacific Crest Trail, where we will be for the next 30 miles. WOW. It was spectacular. DeAnna and I get in a great groove. The trails were just beautiful, so soft and lush.
So far throughout the race I have been sipping tailwind and eating a few skratch fruit drops. I'm looking forward to the next aid station at mile 25 (Tacoma Pass). This is the first aid station that allows crew access. Joe, my hubby, would be there waiting for us.
We arrive at the aid station in about 5.5 hours and the first person I see is the Ginger Runner (Ethan Newberry) wearing a rabbit trucker hat! I was beaming! Joe had met him at the aid station and offered a hat to Ethan and his wife, Kim. If you don't follow the Ginger Runner you are missing out. He is seriously just RAD. I truly enjoy his coverage on trail running and the trail running community in general. He ran CC last year and is so supportive of this race.
Because this aid station was the first station where you could have your crew available, it was full of energy. I grabbed a turkey and avocado wrap and a few chips, filled my water bottles and threw my rabbit visor and sunglasses to Joe (I didn't really need either all day, so I trimmed the accessories) and we headed up the climb. We felt really good and relaxed heading out of Tacoma Pass.
We continue on the PCT and we feel good just cruising...the miles start clicking and before you know it we are at Stampede Pass aid station (mile 36). The aid station had an 80s theme...it was rocking. We have our first drop bags here because you were required to grab your headlamp at this aid station. I had also packed a change of socks, a fresh tee amo, and a rabbit prototype long sleeve (sleevie wonder). I didn't need any of it. I just grabbed the sleevie wonder and stashed it in my pack in case it got cold once the sun went down. I also had some more tailwind packed away so I refilled my bottles. I grabbed some watermelon, chips and a turkey and cheese sandwich and DeAnna and I continued on.
We continue to feel good and just keep cruising along the PCT. The sun was starting to go down. We finally caved and stopped and put on our headlamps.
We arrive at mile 49 at Olallie Meadows and Scott McCoubry is there serving up perogies and soup. The Ginger Runner, Ethan, and his wife Kim are there too. I was able to introduce myself to them this time. Everyone at the aid stations were so incredibly nice and supportive. I ate some potato soup and had a few pretzels. We were anticipating the next section.....it has the infamous rope climb down and then through the 2.3 mile snoqualmie tunnel (an abandoned railroad tunnel). We run through 50 miles in about 11.5 hours. We were still feeling really controlled and smooth.
We head down the trail and we come to the rope. It was sooooo sketch! It was about 500-600 feet straight down. DeAnna goes first and immediately slides down the rocks and gets rope burn on her hands. It went forever! We step sideways and are probably being overly cautious...there was so much slack on the rope. I had to wait for DeAnna to finish a section before I could grab the next section of the rope, otherwise, I would slide down the side of the mountain. We finally get to the bottom. We run about a 1/4 mile flat and then we enter the tunnel.
I had been a little nervous about the tunnel. I tend to get clastrophobic. I also knew we would be running this section at night, which I was not totally thrilled about. We make it into the tunnel and start running. What the heck?! I thought this was going to be completely flat. It was totally a false flat. It was uphill the entire tunnel. Our headlamps would shine ahead and all we could see was the uphill grade. The tunnel was wet and the slope of the road was funky. There were also a lot of potholes so we had to continue to manuever left and right to avoid the holes and the puddles. It felt like we were in the tunnel forever. I knew when we were out we would get to the next aid station, Hyak, and Joe would be waiting there ready to pace us.
We finally arrive at Hyak, mile 53.8. It was decked out in Christmas decorations.
Joe finds us and I couldn't believe how bundled up he was. He said it was freezing outside. I was still in my bunny hop tank and was hot and sweaty when I got to the aid station. I was excited to get my drop bag. I had a fresh pair of HOKA speedgoats to change into and I also put on my long sleeve, sleevie wonder. I started to argue with Joe about bringing my jacket. I was adamant about leaving it there and he insisted I would need it. I couldn't fathom how I would need a jacket when I was so hot and sweaty. So I cave and take it (little did I know I would be shivering and freezing an hour later and needed it all through the night. I'm pretty sure if I had not listened to Joe and brought my jacket I would have been in big big trouble).
I get changed and walk to the food table. I try to eat some more soup. As Joe and I are standing there waiting for DeAnna, all the sudden said she feels like she going to puke. She walks behind the aid station tent and starts hurling. I couldn't believe it. She was fine 5 mins ago. After she finishes she says she feels much better and we make our way out of the aid station. At this point it's about 9:30pm.
We are on the road next to the highway for a while. We run the road and it did not feel very good after being on trail for the last 54 miles. We finally hit the gravel fire road and start climbing. This is the first big climb we have with Joe. We climb for about 5 to 6 miles. All of the sudden I can see my breathe and I start shivering. We stop so DeAnna and I can put on our jackets. There are a few flat sections so we jog when we can. All of the sudden DeAnna is barfing again. We stop and wait for her. She finishes and again says she feels ok so we keep moving on. I was having a little bit of a low point. I couldn't believe how cold it was and I was starting to get sleepy. We are power hiking as fast as we can up this dark fire road. Then all of a sudden DeAnna's light goes out. What?! Luckily, Joe had my extra headlamp in his pack so she could use that. We finally get to the aid station. We make DeAnna drink some ginger ale. I drink some coke and eat a little chocolate donut and some more chips. And we leave. The next 6.5 miles are down the fire road. We start running and then stop for DeAnna again...poor girl. I was starting to get worried for her. She couldn't hold a thing in. We couldn't figure out what went wrong, she didn't do anything differently than any other race or training, so it was very frustrating. We would wait, she would puke and then we would keep going. I think she was starting to get a little worried herself. We get passed by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie on the downhill. We make it to the Kachess Lake aid station where we would then start the Trail From Hell.
Mile 68-74 is infamously named the Trail From Hell. If you want to get a better understanding of it watch this video from The Ginger Runner here. For me, I couldn't agree more on its name. It is over 6 miles of roots, fallen trees, steep rollers. Just a bunch of ACK. We pretty much hiked this entire thing. I was tired and I completely sucked on this part. I was frustrated with the amount of fallen trees and climbing over and under tree trunks we had to do. These were massive tree trunks I might add. DeAnna continued to be sick. I was starting to really get worried about her getting dehydrated and then just her loss of energy. We made her stop and I gave her one of my Skratch electrolyte packs to put in her water. This section seemed like forever, it was never ending and I could not wait to get off of it. I think it had to have taken us 2.5-3 hours just for this section. We finally get to the aid station.
DeAnna is concerned if she should keep going and one of the guys at the aid station convinced her that she should. Joe kept reassuring her that in ultras you have 9 lives and she still had 7 left. We left the aid station and started up another 6.5 mile climb. Pretty soon after we leave the aid station Joe's freakin head lamp dies. You have to be kidding me. It's about 3am, so we still have a long time before it gets light.
As we are hiking up the hill, some guys pass us and I ask them if they have an extra headlamp. One of the guys gives us a handheld. It was so nice of him (thank you so much if you are reading this!). DeAnna is still having major issues. Joe and I feel so bad. We are not really sure what to do. She keeps telling us to go, but there was no way we were going to leave her, especially while it was still dark.
We keep power hiking up and I couldn't believe how tired I was. I was literally nodding off and hiking sideways. That was a first. I have nodded off plenty of times in my life sitting down, but never while in motion. This went on for a couple of hours. I knew we had really slowed. At this point we still have under 25 miles but some of the hardest sections were ahead. We keep moving and then all of a sudden my light flickers and goes out. Luckily, the sky was already starting to brighten up. We keep moving and then the sun is rising over the Cascades and it was one of the most gorgeous sights I have ever seen.
It finally gets light. DeAnna is still really struggling. Joe and I keep powering forward. We start climbing a ridge and could see DeAnna below...she was still moving. I felt really bad leaving her, but it was light and I knew we were close to the next aid station, No Name. We finally get there and they were making pancakes. I had a chocolate chip pancake and some coffee. I started to get some energy back.
We keep going and it really was a blur for me at this point. We get to the next aid station around mile 85 at Thorp Mtn. The guys say we have to go about 2/3 up the mountain to the park ranger hut, punch a hole in our bib and then come back to the aid station. What the hell!!!! It was so steep. But it was spectacular. You could see Mt. Rainer and the Cascade range in the distance.
We see Dave (DeAnna's husband) coming up when we were coming down... He looked amazing! He passed us on the way down and we never saw Dave again until the finish. He crushed the race in 26:48. Then I couldn't believe it, DeAnna was powering up the mountain. You could tell she wasn't feeling good and was weak, but at that point I knew she would finish the race.
We keep going and we hit the Cardiac Needles. For me this was probably the hardest part of the race. Intense technical ups and downs for over 6 miles. My back was so incredibly tight and my right glute was on fire. I just kept moving. Joe said we were moving at a good pace.
We finally hit the downhill section at mile 90. I was so frustrated with myself that I could not take advantage of all of this downhill and make up some time. My legs simply would not lift. I had to power hike so much. It seemed like an eternity to Silver Creek, which was the last aid station at mile 96. We passed a guy and I thought for sure the aid station would appear at any moment and he says we still have 2.5 miles. I almost started crying. At this point I was really ready to be finished. I needed to get my pack off my back. We keep going, I try to run and we finally make it to the last aid station. We just cruise thru the station. We had 4 miles left of flat! Joe said we could break 28 hours. I run as hard as I could for the last 4 miles. I was surprised with how much I had left in the tank. The last long stretch of road went on forever. It was gonna be sooooo close for me to break the 28 hours. Finally, I see the fire station and the finish line. I run as hard as a I could and I did it! I ran 27:59 with about 40 seconds to spare and was the 10th female finisher.
What a course! What a journey! I truly did love every minute of it. I'm so grateful for my friends and family for pushing me and for the gift of my body to conquer these adventures. It's really hard to put it all into words. The physical, emotional and spiritual journey I had during this race is something I will hold dear in my heart for a life time.
Thank you to all of you RADrabbitFANS for embracing this journey with me and for all of your positivity and support. I felt it out there for that 27 hours and 59 minutes. I also felt it big the days after the race.
If you are interested, you can see my strava here before my watch died: https://www.strava.com/activities/694518514
After my watch died: https://www.strava.com/activities/694543520
I wore my Santa Barbara Running Mountain Racing Team bunny hop tank, the hopper in black/ snorkel blue. I did not have one issue at all with chafing, rubbing, irritation. I wore the HOKA Challenger ATR 2 for the first 53 miles and then the HOKA Speedgoats for the second half. I wore injinji socks (I didn't get one blister). I tried out this new RunGoo for my feet and it was amazing! No blisters, no hot spots! I wore the Ultimate Direction Ultra Hydration Vest. I wore the Petzl REACTIK headlamp.
If you were wondering how my dear friend and running buddy DeAnna did, she went on to finish in 28:21 and was 11th female. It blows my mind what her mind and body overcame to finish this race. I am so grateful for her friendship on and off the trails.
Thank you to my hubby, Joe for the support and being the best pacer ever...especially after just running and crushing his 100 mile race at Angeles Crest three weeks earlier. PS- if you need more reading on 100 mile races you can read his blog here.
I also have so much gratitude for my mom, who flew to Santa Barbara from Oklahoma and took care of my two little munchkins so we could travel and race.
A big thanks to my coach, Mike Swan. What a blessing to have someone know your body so well and what you can and can't handle.
I don't have enough thanks for the race director and staff, the Easton fire dept. and all of the volunteers. The course was so well marked, the aid stations were stocked, the volunteers were so helpful. I loved this race so much. If you ever have the urge to experience the 100 mile journey I highly recommend spending it in the Cascades.
Ready? Let's run,
We can't get enough F U E L E D F R I D A Y recipes from our own Michelle Battista.
We love, love, love sharing blogs written by our RADrabbitPROs. This week on the blog, enjoy a race recap written by our RADrabbitPRO Rachel Sorna. Way to race Rachel!!
Race Recap: Bobby Doyle 5 Miler
Considering that I’ve been running now for over 8 years, you’d think I’d have developed the ability to judge where my fitness is at at any given point of a season, but this past Sunday proved otherwise. The Bobby Doyle 5 Miler, held in Narragansett, Rhode Island, was a first for me in a number of ways. It was my first time racing as a member of my new team, The Heartbreakers. It was my first time representing my new apparel sponsor, rabbit. And, to cap things off, it was not only my first race of the season, but my first workout too! (in an attempt to have my cake and eat it to, I’ve decided to incorporate running workouts in local road races as part of my training).
I went into the race with relatively low expectations, looking to do nothing more than see where I was at and have some fun. My race plan was simple: don’t do anything stupid. By that I meant don’t go out like a bullet, don’t get wrapped up in racing people instead of doing the workout as planned, and, most importantly, don’t be married to my watch. I figured if went out conservatively and picked it up a bit the second half, I’d have a solid first tempo effort somewhere in the 30:00 – 31:00 range.
The gun went off, and I stayed calm. Women I know I am capable of competing with when I’m at my best surged to the front, and I let them go. I was controlled. I was relaxed. I was just cruising along. And at the first mile marker, I was 20 seconds under pace .
Normally when I find myself in this situation, it’s because I have, in fact, done something stupid. For instance, this past March I decided to run the first mile of my season-opening 5k in 4 minutes and 58 seconds – 15:24 pace. I then proceeded to die a very slow and painful death and finish in 17:13. In that race, I put myself in a hole from which there was no escape. I saw the split at the mile and instantly knew I was toast.
But this past Sunday was different. Despite seeing a mile split that was significantly faster than what I had previously decided was a conservative opening pace, I knew I was OK. I felt good. I felt comfortable. I knew I was within myself. So as surprised as I was by how those first 1609 meters had played out, I kept on it. And it turned out great. I spent the entire racing working my way up through the field, passing by some who may have gone out a bit too hard, especially considering the 85 degree heat and high humidity. I struggled a little bit in the 4th mile, which was the only real uphill mile in the race, but I rallied for the final mile and finished strong. I ended up placing third overall for women with a time of 29:00 for 5 miles – 5:48 pace.
This race was a pleasant surprise. Not only was I proud of the overall time I produced, but I was proud too of my ability to stick to a my race plan. In the past, this has been something I have struggled with. To be able to execute a race plan – especially one that involved me being conservative and staying near the back early on – shows that I have grown a great deal in the last two years. It tells me that I am ready to take the next step in my running career, tells me that I am more than ready for what is to come.
-Rachel Sorna, RADrabbitPRO