Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Are you scared of your food?

Sometimes I think our culture spends too much time trying to teach us that food is bad for us.  It is sad that every time I open my fridge I think about how every single thing has gotten a bad rap at some point in time or has been through it's "tainted with bacteria" scares.

Let me tell you what I go through every time I go to the grocery store. First I get my cart and based on the placement of hand sanitizer and/or wipes I think about how my cart must be full of germs. I refrain from wiping the handle down and walk in to the produce section. As I look at the salads I think about how ice berg is bad, but spinach might have e. coli. Then as I go through the produce I think about the pesticides they spray on things but as I turn to the organic or local options I think about all of those articles that say that eating organic has no proven health benefits. Some things have distant expiration dates which make me wonder how something natural could last that long, but then half of the things say they will expire tomorrow so I put them back.

Then I walk through the deli and meat section. Usually looking at the meat in their bloody, juicy packages gives me the creeps and so I try to pick only the leanest of meat. A list of articles run through my mind about how poorly most animals are treated so I look at the options that say things like "free range" or "grass fed." Another list of articles runs through my mind about how labels can be deceptive and that they often don't guarantee that an animal was raised any better than animal at Slaughter McGee's. So I look at the fish, but that can be trouble too. Are they endangered or are they over-farmed? Do they have poison in their blood? So I put my head down and move on.

I walk through the bakery and think that finally I'll be able to put something in my cart. But then I start looking at ingredients lists. What are all of these things I can't pronounce? Apparently they are supposed to keep my bread from molding... as if a hungry girl like me couldn't put away a loaf of bread in 48 hours. My head starts racing trying to decide if I should select something with whole grains or something that won't taste like cardboard in my mouth. C'mon I worked at bakery and I'm 100% sure that in a pinch I could wield a whole grain baguette as a weapon. Then I start thinking of all the hype lately about how gluten just clogs up your GI tract making it harder for your body to digest other things. I cry a little and keep walking.

As I stand forlornly in front of the dairy section I lament my lactose-intolerant life. But at least there's soy milk! Oh, but wait. Apparently a diet that has too much soy can be harmful. So I look over the lactose-free milk substitutes. So many choices! But should I pick fat-free or 2%? The jury is still out on that one. 2% and whole milk are closer to the product that actually comes out of the cow, but a high fat diet isn't that good for you. But then there are those people that say that the whole fat-free craze is going to be America's downfall. Look, I just want something to dunk my cookies in.

Then I look at the eggs. Why did we ever decide to start eating the rejected half-offspring of another animal? They taste pretty good, though, so I try to push out the thought of what the human equivalent would be. Sorry if I just ruined eggs for you. But it gets worse. Do I pick white eggs or brown eggs. Definitely brown. But do I pay an extra $2 for the carton that says "organic" on it or pick the placebo brown eggs? How do I really know that they chickens were raised in a healthy environment? They still were probably raised on top of each other because unless I'm buying my eggs from the Amish they probably weren't roaming around in some wonderland where they put their eggs in a separate place from their shit. So when I finally think I've found the eggs for me, I open the carton and see the word "salmonella" scribbled across those brittle little shells.

After narrowly avoiding disaster I decide that everything in the store probably has some sort of disease or is out to give me diabetes. I mean, I haven't even started going through the aisles with processed foods full of terrifying SUGAR! So I get a 6-pack of beer and call it a day.

Seriously, people, when did we start being so afraid of our food?! As a person who is in a healthy place after struggling through an eating disorder years ago, it drives me crazy when someone tells me that something is "bad for me." No, calories are good and they fuel me through my day.  I don't want to open my cupboard and think about all of the reasons why I shouldn't eat something. I want to think about how that food is going to power me through until the end of my day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Moab's Red Hot 55k

Sometimes when you have a really good weekend, it's hard to write about it. When you write about it and finish that very last sentence, it means the whole experience is done. It's been an action-packed last three days, but it's time to jump back into the real world. There will be more experiences to be had in the future, more great people to meet, more trails to explore, more pain to suffer through, and more beer to drink.

On Friday we hopped in Travis Daniels' Subaru and hit I-70 heading west to Moab. Predictably there was traffic to endure, outlets to be shopped at, and Smashburgers to eat. We finally hit the desert and had to stop on the side of I-70 to take some pictures and romp around on some sand dunes. 

Adventure can be found on the side of an interstate.
Of purple mountain majesty! The glorious La Sals.

We made it to packet pick-up in time and stopped to get groceries and a movie at City Market (which we may have occasionally referred to as Shitty-Market...). So after getting to our condo that we were sharing with Travis and Phil we gorged ourselves on pasta and watched Tom Hanks outwit a Somali pirate. That night I dreamed of skinny, hungry pirates chasing me across slickrock and woke up ready to race.

I must say I now have my pre-race routine down. Wake up, go to the bathroom, stare at whatever food I've selected beforehand that seemed delicious but now tastes like a pile of dust in my mouth, go the bathroom 3 more times, debate whether I should take Imodium, be jealous over how calm Cory is and his ability to eat an entire bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee, take said immodium. We finally make it to the starting line in time for me to get in the line for the port-a-potties and as I'm standing in line I see Anton Krupicka five feet away from me. I suddenly felt very embarrassed to be wearing a large majority of the gear that sponsors him... complete with a vest named after him and a thoroughly hippy buff. I wanted to go up to him and explain that I was not trying to copy him, but instead I just tried to hide behind someone's dog. Later Phil explained to me the phenomena that is the rise of the An-twin.

Finally, the gun went off. My iPod was playing Ramble On, the temperature was perfect, and there was a just-right amount of cloud coverage. I was determined that I was going to stay positive this entire race no matter what - even if I tripped on slick rock, even if my shin splints acted up, even if I felt sick, and even if my Imodium didn't do its job. I was also determined to talk to more girls this race. I usually find myself running with a lot of men willing to talk but the girls around me are usually more competitive and reluctant to run together. Honestly I find myself getting a lot more competitive when a girl passes me and so I figured that if I did a better job of talking to the women around me early on, I would root for them if they passed me in the end.

I got my first opportunity to chat shortly after Aid 1. I had been trailing this woman named Colleen that I had run with a bit during the Salida marathon last year. She had kicked my ass in that race, so I was a little bit worried that maybe I was running too fast. We talked a bit as we meandered the rolling jeep roads and she mentioned that she had only been running about 10 miles a week because she had been so busy with work. She tried to tell me not to wait for her and I tried to figure out how to tell her that I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to keep up with her.

As we continued on I tried to focus on my nutrition and hydration. I've been so careless about it in the past so I made sure I took a gel every 45-50 minutes and drank my entire bottle between aid stations. At about mile 10 when we were at the course high point I made some buddies that would be sticking with me for miles, Tbird and Stephen. Stephen was doing his first 50k and hung in with me for about 10 miles. He helped me celebrate when I got past mile 18, my nemesis mile. Tbird and I played tag, running together for pretty much the next 25 miles and having the strangest/ most entertaining conversations. 

I took my first Hammer Endurolyte pill at mile 18 when I normally feel like shit, and surprisingly felt awesome! That's when the fun major slickrock climb began. At that point, though, I was a little nervous because I had eaten all of my personal gel stash and even though the aid stations were supposed to have Hammer gels, they only had Clif products... which tend to make a quick exit out of my body. Finally at aid 4 there was a glorious basket full of Hammer products! After refueling we whooped and hollered as we started the long, downhill slickrock section... it only took a few miles of leaping and pounding to start daydreaming about dirt again.

At that point I started talking to this girl named Sadie who looked like she was out for a casual stroll. She had recently moved to Flagstaff and we talked about how magical Flag and Sedona are. It was a much needed energy boost for me ... I was in need of some girl power. She said she had a cold coming into the race and so she was taking it a little bit easy. Later she dropped the bomb on me that last year she finished in 5:45! Crazy girl!

Unfortunately around mile 26 a lot of things came together to drive me to my low point. First,  my Imodium magic wore off and an extended pit stop made me fall behind my running buddies. The I got super hungry but realized that I only had 3 ounces of water left and 2-3 miles to the next aid station. But I told myself that I was going to refuse to entertain any negative thoughts, took my gel and used up the last few drops of my water. The next few miles wound through this beautiful wash with pretty canyon walls and then up and over some more slick rock. I almost lost the way a few times because I couldn't see anyone ahead of me, but fortunately I could tell by the lack of human footprints if I was going off course.

I got passed by a few people who were also out of water and we were all pretty nervous about how far it was to the next station. Finally it appeared out of nowhere and as I jubilantly filled up my bottle I made the mistake of asking how many miles were left. I was expecting the answer to be three to four miles, so when the volunteer told me that there were only five more miles I wanted to cry a little. The good news was that I caught back up with Sadie and Tbird. Sadie tried to help me rally and looked like she was ready to go 30 more miles. I wished her luck and told her to go on without me. I was feeling a bit dizzy but didn't know what else my body needed to make it feel better. Suddenly I found myself losing the ability to make complete sentences.

Fortunately Tbird led me the last five miles to the finish, pointing which way to go when the slickrock got confusing. If you read this, Thompson, seriously thank you so much because I don't think I would have made it to the end without you. Or at least, I probably would have walked it in.

In hind sight I wish that I would have studied up on the course a little more so that I would have been able to recognize when we were getting close to the finish. I always like to sprint it in, but the finish line just appeared in front of me 100 meters from the finish. There were two girls hot on my tail but I held them off. I was the 34th woman in a time of 6:25.

Thanks, Phil, for being there for me at the finish and taking this awesome picture.

It was fun hanging out with our Runner's Roost friends after the race.

All in all, I'm pretty proud of how the race went. I felt pretty consistent throughout and I don't think I could have run any faster. Cory raced in a very speedy time of 5:05. He was hoping to run a bit faster and was upset that he made some of the same mistakes he's made in the past. He said he started out too fast and was running with Karl Meltzer for a bit in the beginning. Then he fell behind on his nutrition and hydration... he wishes he would have taken another water bottle and some electrolyte pills. I'm still pretty proud of him!

On Sunday Chef Phil made breakfast burritos and we did a shake-out run in Arches before heading home. I ran past Jodee Adams-Moore, the female winner, and realized a few minutes too late that it was her. Still kicking myself for missing out on the opportunity to meet her.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It's time to get up, it's time to get moving

I'm really horrible at waking up early. I'm also not a night-owl. I pretty much like to sleep all the time - especially in the winter. Is that so unusual for mammals? Look a bears, for example. They roam around the mountains in the summer eating berries and meat. Then they sleep all winter. Does that sound like such a bad life? But the reality is that as much as I think everyone deserves to be less productive during the months of January and February, that's not how the world works. So in the mornings when I try every trick in the book to make my husband let me sleep in longer, he sings me this little song he made up... the only lyrics are "Time to get up. Time to get moving." And then he tells me there is coffee and oatmeal waiting for me and that he already ran for an hour and did some homework. Grumble.

The reality is that for me during the months of January and February I have to break every day down into small parts. First, make it to lunch. Then make it to sunset. Then make it through the run. Then make it through dinner, dishes, picking up the house. People invite me to things or want to hang out but by the end of the day, I've got nothing left. It's fortunate that I've been so busy with starting a new job at the bank down the street and with things picking up with Run Pretty Far. It keeps my days structured. I often feel like it's mental training for an ultramarathon. When you can't bear to think about how far away the finish line is, you just think about how many miles stand between you and the next aid station.

To get through those "miles" I rely a lot on music. I don't write because I don't like the words in my head - they do more harm than good. So I fill my thoughts with the words of others. I remember one winter where I must have watched the movie, Garden State, at least 20 times. I like to see and hear how other people who go through similar things come out both strong and grateful.

So some lyrics that perfectly sum up what's it's like trying to push through your mind problems, whether it's depression, anxiety, or Seasonal Affective:

Dread in My Heart (Click to listen)

There's a god-awful shitty feeling of dread in my heart,
yeah it's got a lot to do with having to finish what I start,
and at any second now I think it all might fall apart
cuz there's a god-awful shitty feeling of dread in my heart, yeah.

There's a devil in my brain with a pitchfork and a flame,
yeah he likes to poke around and he likes to tell me things,
and whenever I begin to feel like I might be deranged,
I remember there's a little, shitty devil in my brain, yeah.

Oh I wonder what it's like to be the type who doesn't burn,
yeah the kind who fights the good fight,
not the kind you find fisti-fucking-cuffing in the dirt.

There's a god-awful shitty feeling of dread in my heart,
and I can't seem to change my attitude but I can change my shirt,
cuz you know how actually at times it can be a good start,
but not today there's still a god-awful shitty feeling of dread in my heart.

And here's a new favorite of mine:

Ambling Alp

And when those thunder clouds are crying in the skies, in the skies
And when those fireflies keep shining in your eyes, in your eyes
Keep your mind on the time with your ass on the line
Keep your fleet feet sliding to the side, to the side

Now the world can be an unfair place at times
But your lows will have their complement of highs
And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of, or beat you
Raise your head and wear your wounds with pride

You must stick up for yourself, son
Never mind what anybody else done
Stick up for yourself, son
Never mind what anybody else done

And finally, here's some pictures from the past month and a half:

My snow-bearded lady

Chasing the frisbee through the powder

My backyard trails

Sunset over Green

Smoggy city

Golden's lights from the Chimney Gulch trail

View of Four Peaks from Pass Mountain in Arizona

Dad showing off his new Run Hard Wear shirt

Sunset over Usery Mt Park in Arizona

There's a mansion on top of that tiny mountain

Sweet Sedona

Broken Arrow trail to Chicken Point in Sedona

Hangover Trail in Sedona... not even on most maps yet