Thursday, December 1, 2011

the green tunnel

Check out my personal blog- to read about my research and prep for thru hiking the Appalachian Trail next summer.

It'll be a blast.

Friday, September 9, 2011

not dead, just sleeping

An observant reader may have notice a marked decrease in posts lately. 
I have lots of ideas of things that would be good posts, and a lot of half written starts.  Making good choices in an office environment, how to prep for a century, and tips for first time spin class attenders.  But with a lack of time (starting a new job in June and an increase in horse shows and being at the barn) , I haven't been able to develop these ideas into coherent paragraphs. Maybe once winter comes around and I won't be riding as much, my interest will be renewed.

For all three of you that read this, keep an eye out on my personal blog ( for a new adventure for next year!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

august 2011 runner's world

Holy pink, batman! 

Pink is cute, argyle is cute, floral is cute, but all together?

Even with this month’s ridiculous cover, I do love Runner’s World.  It has great training plans, recipes, interviews with professional runners I didn’t think I would ever care about, gear reviews, and more.

For anyone who’s like me and knows that things are always better free, you can receive a digital copy by email every month by going here. And it doesn’t even load my inbox with spam.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Double Creek Half Marathon

Half marathon #2 was this weekend- the Double Creek Half at Dover, Pennsylvania!

For my first half, last fall, I decided to do it about 5 weeks before and had never run more than a 10k. I did two weeks doing an 8 mile run, then 9, then 10, and 8 the week of. That race was all downhill or flat and advertised as a good “first timer” race.

This time, I prepared (slightly) better, with a more gradual increase in mileage- a couple weeks at 7, a couple at 8, a 9, two weeks at 10, and 7 the week of. I was also doing at least one 5k run on the treadmill for some speedwork. 

I felt slightly more prepared in that regard, but there were several other variables:

- This would be my first race in my Vibrams. I did almost all of my training runs in them, with the exception of one 10 mile trail run that I thought might be too gravel-y.
- The course was not downhill or flat like my first half. The first 6 miles were actually quite hilly, and the latter half evened out a bit more.
- This would be my first race ever without having a friend or mom or husband to do it with.

Despite all these unknowns, I had a great run.  I felt great the whole time and had fun.  Last half in Provo, I was going so slow the last couple miles and kept thinking “I am NEVER doing this again”. But this time I totally felt great and could have kept going longer.  I attribute this some to being more physically prepared, but also the magic of Gu shots and Gu Brew in my water bottles.  (I picked up this baby a week ago at REI with my dividend money and love it!)  I have a hard time choking down Gu, but it works so well that I do it anyway.

stretching shot!

Another helpful happenstance was an unintentional running buddy. When we were lining up to start, I briefly chatted with a married couple. The man was a seasoned runner and would be going much faster, but his wife was running her second half and was anticipating a similar time to me.  We wished each other good luck at the start and started running. A couple miles later, Rosario and I were still matching each others pace exactly and ended up running the whole thing together!  She had driven the course the night before and was able to tell me exactly where the hills were coming up and where a longer stretch of downhill might be. We were friends.

I ended up finishing in 2:10:00.  I did my first half in 2:05, but I didn’t expect to get that time again as that one was so drastically downhill.  I was expecting about 2:15, so I was pleased.  Next time I will definitely push myself more and try to get close to 2:05. 

UPDATE: I just checked the website, and I was 10th in my age group. Go me.

As for the event itself, I thought that Double Creek did a great job.  The race was stationed at an elementary school, so check in was inside and we were able to use the restrooms there.  They had lots of snacks in the morning and lots of volunteers ready to help check in.  The route was through scenic country roads and was mostly wooded and shady.

The event had several options: 1 mile fun run, 5k, half, 30 mile bike, 50 mile bike, or the “Endurance Challenge”- half marathon plus either bike option.  Because of all the variety, there were only a couple hundred people at the start of the half which made for a nice easy start with no crowding.  There were 5 water stops along the way (but only one Porta-Potty?) and even a volunteer handing out gel at the halfway.  Milemarkers and turns were well marked with volunteers and police to escort road crossings.  Registration was cheap ($35) and came with a simple cotton black tee and technical shirts for sale as well.  Schwag bags were nonexistent, but I got over that quickly with the  free massages (and virtually no line!) at the finish.  There was a lunch at noon once all the cyclists were finished, but I didn’t stay that long. 

It was definitely one of the more fun races I have done, and next year I can’t wait to do the Endurance Challenge!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

stuff i dig: osprey 2 l water reservoir

Osprey 2 liter Hydraform Water Reservoir

photo and other information here at

About a year ago, I got a day pack with water reservoir at Costco for 20 bucks. What a steal. Not as cute as the Camelbak brands, but I was willing to sacrifice looks for a third of the price.  This backpack (a pretty detailed review can be found here) fit my needs perfectly for day hike use, but I had some serious complaints about the water reservoir, or more specifically, the mouthpiece. After just a few uses, it was leaking like crazy. I took it back to Costco and exchanged it for the same product, but had the same results a couple months later. Lame, but hard to complain when it came with such an inexpensive backpack.

Solution? The Osprey 2 liter! This will fit in most backpacks and day packs comfortably and has an easy to use cap.  Even on first use, my water did not taste plastic-y and the mouthpiece is holding up well.  My mom has used this product on several multi-day backpacking trips and loves it.

(Note: Originally, I ordered the 3L for 2 dollars more. An extra liter for two dollars? No brainer. However, the 3L won't fit in most packs.)

It comes with an interesting magnet on the mouthpiece that can clip to your should strap or shirt, to make the mouthpiece more accessible.  I found it to be awkward and unnecessary, so I just didn't use the magnet clip.

Hooray for Osprey for making wonderful products!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Popeye's Ice Cream

Originally from the Blendtec website, this recipe for spinach ice cream is delicious!

Popeye's Ice Cream

3/4 cup half and half or coconut milk
1/4 cup agave nectar (can be substituted with 3/8 c sugar)
2/3 cup nonfat powdered milk or powdered coconut milk
2 cups spinach, lightly packed (I used more!)
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups ice cubes (I used a little less)

Add ingredients to a blender pitcher and secure lid. For Blendtec models, press "Ice Cream" and serve. For other blenders, blend at medium speed for 20 seconds, then on high for 25 seconds or until smooth. Makes 3 3/4 cups.

Nutritional Information: (for 1/2 cup serving)
80 calories
11 g carbs
3 g fat
9 g sugar
1 g protein

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Iron Christmas 70.3- The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Remember back in December, when I competed in the Iron Christmas 70.3? And won?

I entered it by total coincidence. I happen to click on Lucas's blog from a comment he made on Fat Cyclist. One comment of several hundred (literally) because I was bored at work. He had just posted the virtual race details, and I figured I had nothing better to do than accept this random blogger's challenge.

Best decision ever.

Not only was the virtual race a fun challenge over the holidays, it taught me a little about myself. That I can swim enough to get by, I can workout for several hours with a little motivation, etc.

Anyway, here's all the awesome stuff I got in the mail last weekend for winning:

A TON of Gu and Chomps, courtesy of OutsidePR.  There was a mixup with shipping, and they were kind enough to throw in some extras.

Not one, but TWO pairs of Ryders Eyewear sunglasses, also from OutsidePR. Can't decide which one I like better- the silver ones are transition and the black ones are normal.

Gift certificate to Everyday Endurance. I've picked which shirt is my favorite, but I don't feel like I can order it until I've done a real tri myself...

And last but not least... a Road ID!!

I was so excited to order this.  The last line is typically a motivational quote or something funny, so of course I felt pressure to think of something clever in only 24 characters.  It was really funny to google and see some ideas- "Shut up, legs!"  "Is my bike OK?" "I run so I can eat what I want!"

I was looking for something more motivational, and Husband thought of a perfect and simple idea: "Endure to the end". My religion is a very important part of my life, and "endure to the end" is a common saying or slogan among LDS people.

Thanks again to Lucas at the Super Fatlete, OutsidePR, and Everyday Endurance!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cap2Cap Recap


First  race  organized ride of 2011! The Cap2Cap in Richmond or Williamsburg, VA. We had some friends that do this ride every year and love it.  Participants choose from full, half, or quarter century distances and can either start in Williamsburg (the former capitol of Virginia) or Richmond (current capitol).  The full century goes from one city to the other- hence the Cap2Cap name.  Husband and I opted for the half century. I wanted to have the rest of the day to go to colonial Williamsburg and I also felt like I wouldn't be ready for the full 100.

I always tell myself that I need to take more pictures of events. So... here's what I got.

We got to the start 40 minutes early, giving us plenty of time for bike assembling, packet pickup, and potty stops. I commend the ride organizers for varying the start times for the different distances, allowing packet pickup and the starting point to be less crowded. 

The route was beautiful! It took us through wooded country roads with few hills.  We kept a really good pace (for us) of 17mph and enjoyed the whole ride.  The "feed zones" were sufficiently stocked. I may have had some comments in this area if I were doing the full century.  There were a few different bars and trail mixes out, but if I were doing the whole thing I would have hoped for more variety like the other centuries we've done. But we were fine for the 50 miles and didn't even stop at all of them.

One thing I really liked about the Cap2Cap was the finish line festivities. Because of the staggered start times, all riders were ending around lunch time and there was a great catered lunch. 

We had a great first event of the season! More to come!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

trail running

We have finally arrived in Virginia! The first chance I got, I went for a run around my neighborhood.  My parents (who we're living with for now) live on a very quiet street that backs up to a branch of the Potomac River.

It makes me laugh that people talk about how cold it is here. Cold? This is balmy. I was only wearing one jacket. 

One nice perk to the Vibrams is that I am able to run on packed snow.  This stuff here was pretty slushy, but in Utah I ran on many sidewalks that were completely solidly packed snow and had no trouble. 

It was nice to go out and have no agenda or even a watch on.  While I did grow up in this area, I am seeing things with new eyes- where are good cycling routes? How can I find some running trails?

For now, I am just excited to be somewhere that has trees! And foliage!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2011 events

If all had gone according to plan, I would be somewhere in Kentucky right now, and arriving in Virginia tonight. But since things never go according to plan, we are still stuck in Colorado, waiting for the weather conditions to improve.  Husband and I are moving to northern Virginia, as he just graduated in December, and who really wants to settle in Utah anyway?

Anyway, with this extra time on my hands, I have been planning events for this coming season.

My goals are to do at least one triathlon (it will be my first), at least one century and one half marathon.  I also imagine there will be some additional cycling events of varying distance or other random things that come along.

Here's what I've got my eye on:

Tour de Carroll on April 23
Westminister, Maryland
metric century (63 miles)

Frederick Run Fest Half Marathon on May 7
Frederick, Maryland
Alexandria Half Marathon on May 28
Alexandria, Virginia

North Mountain Triathlon on June 18
Martinsburg, West Virginia
sprint- 400 yard lake swim (isn't that only 365 meters??), 11 mi bike, 5k run
Colonial Beach Triathlon on July 9
Colonial Beach, Virginia
sprint- 700 m river swim, 14 mi bike, 5k run

Civil War Century on September 10
full 100 mile century

I imagine the late summer and fall events will change as the year goes on. I may feel ready for an olympic distance, or maybe another half marathon or something.  I will also have to see what my work situation will be like- I expect to be working many Saturdays, so I may have to cut back. There will also be some horse events that will be added depending on how that all plays out.

If anyone is in the northern Virginia area and has recommendations for events in the area, hit me up!

Friday, January 28, 2011

mashed cauliflower

A wise man once told me not to eat carbs after 3pm.  I took this to mean to limit carbs after 5pm.

Considering this wise man is a doctor of nutrition/body builder/personal trainer, I think he has some little nuggets of wisdom.

So, what does one eat for dinner? No more lasagna, paninis, pasta, burritos... and mashed potatoes. One of my favorite things.

Behold, mashed cauliflower!

photo from here
 - Cut up 1 head of cauliflower in chunks and boil. For a while. They need to be pretty soft to get the right consistency.
- Drain water and mash with a potato masher.
- Stir in 1 ish tablespoon butter, a couple splashes of milk, a few shakes of garlic salt, and if you'd like, a few shakes of instant potato flakes. They make it a better consistency and help if you put in too much milk.

Admittedly, not the exact same as the delicious starchy carb that is the potato, but pretty dang close.  The first time I made them, I didn't let them get soft enough and the consistency wasn't great. I also over-seasoned them.... a common mistake in my cooking. The next time they were mucho better. Even Husband liked them!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

beginner's guide to losing weight: food journals

 image from here

The first installment of the Beginner's Guide to Losing Weight was about cardio training at the gym.  But even if you're exercising consistently and burning calories, it may not make any difference if you have poor eating habits. Keeping a food journal, in my opinion, is the best way to encourage good eating habits.

When I feel like I'm gaining weight or not able to control my portions, I get out my trusty little notebook and revisit my food journal. I like to think of calories like money. I am allotted X amount of calories each day and I can spend it on whatever I want.

Sidenote: Not everyone needs 2,000 calories a day. A 6'2" man and a 5'4" woman have entirely different caloric needs. It varies by gender, height, metabolism, activity level, etc. It takes a bit to figure out what is appropriate for you.

Anyway, back to money. On a day I'm not working out much, I allow myself 1400 "dollars" each day. On running and strength training days, it gets much higher than that. I choose how I want to spend that money.  Some things are more money, but keep me full for a long time. Some things seem really yummy, but aren't worth the money to me- they're too expensive.  The return I get for buying the item is not worth shelling out the cash. 

Why keep a food journal?
It's a way to budget the money (calories) I am given for the day! People tend to underestimate how many calories they are actually eating.  It's easy to forget about the handful of goldfish you had while packing your kid's lunch, the samples at Costco, or the nibbles from dinner as you were preparing it. Also, many people don't realize how many calories that are in their normal order from their favorite deli or the mashed potatoes they had for dinner.

What do you write in your food journal?
Everything you put in your mouth.  Everything. It's okay that you ate the candy from your coworker's desk, but write it down.
3 dark chocolate Hershey kisses ------------- 60 calories
Don't know how many calories are in 1 Hershey kiss? Google is your friend! Make sure your portions sizes are correct. Don't write, "bowl of Cheerios", but "1 cup of Cheerios and 1/2 cup milk".

Keep a running tally of everything you eat in the day. Mid day, add it up and see if you have budgeted well enough that you still have money left for dinner. If you didn't, something needs to be readjusted for the next day so you have money left. At the end of the day, check your balance.

How does this help?
Firstly, food journals keep you honest about how much you are eating.  When I find myself not wanting to write something down or round down on a calorie count, I have to remember that there is no point in lying to myself and it won't help me to my goals.

I think the biggest area that food journals help with is simply being conscious about what I am eating.  Rather than reaching for the snacks unconsciously, I'm thinking about consequences and if it will help me towards my end goal.

There are plenty of more complicated food journaling techniques that count fat grams and protein and what percentage of your diet is carbs, but I find that this simple technique can help monitor calorie intake without becoming obsessive.

Happy journaling!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

stuff i dig: greek yogurt

Greek Yogurt! 

I love yogurt of all kinds and flavors, but I am super in love with Greek Yogurt. 
Yogurt is a good source of protein- usually about 6 grams in serving cup. Also, the live cultures help with digestion and keeping good bacteria in the body. Add a mix in of fruit, cereal, ground flax, honey, or chocolate chips (I seriously have yogurt and choco chips every night for dessert) and you've got a wonderful snack.
Greek Yogurt typically has double the protein- so about 12 grams or more. That's like 4 eggs! It also has a wonderfully thick consistency that feels more like a dessert. It tends to have slightly more calories than a typical "light" yogurt, but considering how it's drastically more filling, I'm okay with that. 
I don't have a particular brand that I prefer because I always get the cheapest (usually Yoplait). I considered doing a massive taste test of my own, but Google reconfirmed my belief that it can find my anything and showed me these: Serious Eats, Cooking Light, and a superb breakdown of nutrition values by FitSugar.
As always with yogurt, beware of the sugar. I try to stay away from anything more than 20 grams of sugar for one serving.

[A much after the fact edit: I now only go for plain yogurt, which has a much shorter ingredient list and MUCH less sugar. Costco has the best value and good quality: $7 for two large containers.]
If you're really adventurous, you can try making your own! Recipe found here from Eating, Etc.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

barefoot running

This weekend, I decided to tell winter to shove it one time and went running.  Not outside, mind you, because the Salt Lake area has the worst air quality in the nation, but on an indoor rec center track. I have a friend who teaches aerobics classes and scores us free passes.

I wore my Vibram shoes, and it was the most fun I've ever had while running. I don't know if it was that I was running not on a treadmill for the first time in a while or that I was wearing Avatar shoes, but I actually enjoyed myself while I was running.

on my first walk with the Vibrams, Christmas day in Colorado
I love the natural feeling I have running in the Vibrams. I feel like it's the most basic and primal form of exercising, and you can't help but to feel good. The track had some windows on one side, and my reflection showed that my form was so much better than in regular running shoes.  Because there is no padding, you have to land with your whole foot or palm first, not heel striking, as what most people tend to do. Heel striking (or landing heel first while running) sends shock to run up the runner's leg, causing knee pain. Forefront running, however, allows the shock to be absorbed naturally. Check out this video:


And I felt fast! Perhaps because the rest of the track was filled with walkers and slow joggers. But still, I wish I had timed myself because I have a guess that it would be a PR.

The next couple days, random muscles were slightly sore. I can tell my feet/legs are getting strengthened by wearing the Vibrams. My arches (or lack thereof) were tired- in a good way. They were working as they are naturally designed to do, to support and act as a shock absorber for the rest of the foot.

In other running news, I will be doing my second half marathon in April. Sometimes I can't believe that I ran 13 whole miles (plus one block!) last fall, so I've got to prove that I can do it again.  Will I be in my Vibrams? We shall see.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

beginner's guide to losing weight: cardio at the gym

Every January, gyms all across the country become more packed with new gym-goers with hopes of making their New Year's resolutions stick. Part of me (like most regulars) gets annoyed with the influx of people, making it hard to get an open cardio machine or find room in the aerobics class. But mostly I'm excited to see people getting into a better lifestyle.

This brings us to the first installment of the Beginner's Guide to Losing Weight: Cardio at the Gym!

image from here
Most people who are trying to lose some pounds do so through cardio exercises and machines. The most commonly used cardio machines are the elliptical, the treadmill, the stairmaster, and the arc trainer. has a good list and instructions on how to use these possibly intimidating machines. Knowing how to use the machine, even something as simple as the elliptical, is necessary to produce a more efficient workout and avoid injury. If you're not sure how to use something, just hop on and try your best to figure it out! If you're having a lot of trouble, ask a gym staff member to help you out. No need to be embarrassed!

[Pretentious side note alert.... My biggest pet peeve about elliptical users: If your head is bobbing up and down or your heel comes up with each step, you are not using it correctly!]

The most important thing to remember when doing cardio is to stay in your target heart rate zone. Many people think that the harder they work out, the faster they will lose weight. This is true, to an extent. The harder you workout, the more calories you burn. HOWEVER, it is much more efficient to work out where your heart rate is in the "fat burning zone".
chart from here
For a person who is 35 years old, their fat burn zone would be a heart rate generally between 100-120. That's only 50-65% of their maximum heart rate. I met with a personal trainer for several sessions over the summer and he was even more extreme, recommending that I stay between 90 and 120 for optimum fat burning. I was amazed that by working less strenuously I was able to burn fat more efficiently and ultimately, lose weight.

image from here
To check your heart rate, you can use a heart rate monitor, which I have never personally used (but would love to), or the old fashioned finger on the neck check. Place two fingers under the cheek bone/upper neck area and feel a pulse. Count the number of pulses for 6 seconds. Add a 0 on the end of your number, and that's your heart rate.  Most cardio machines have sensors that show the users heart rate, but I have found that they are not always the most reliable.

Next up in the Beginner's Guide to Losing Weight: Food Journals!

Monday, January 3, 2011

a (late) 2010 wrap up

I began this post back in December to wrap up the year 2010.  I started writing about how great it was this year that I really fell in love with endurance sports and started being a fitness person instead of a person who did fitness things.

This lead me to talk about the mental shift that's involved with this type of change, and more specifically, my brain's relationship with food and fitness. And that was hard. I kept trying to come back to this post, to elaborate and write more, but found myself procrastinating. For anybody who's had a "relationship with food" (those who have know what I mean. Others who are luckier, like Husband, have no idea) knows how hard it can be to put in to words what is going on in their head.

So, I saved it as a draft and will revisit that and one day formulate my thoughts on the mental challenge of changing bad eating patterns.

As for the intended 2010 review, I will say that I feel very accomplished and blessed to have been able to complete my first centuries and half marathon.

People ask how we got "into" cycling and endurance sports. Honestly, it was because I had a friend who cycled and had run a marathon and did things. She called me one time and said, "Hey, do you want to go pull weeds on Saturday morning with me for Earth Day?"

Who does that? But I went with her anyway and had a grand time. Afterward, we perused the REI that was next door (I call that fate) and chatted over lunch.

And after that, I decided that I can do what I want, too! I can run. I can ride bikes. I can go hiking. I can decide how I want to live my life and spend my time.  Shortly thereafter I bought my first road bike from Craigslist, a blue 1980's Raleigh, and it was all over from there.

This "little" 2010 wrap took much more time and went in a totally different direction than I intended.  But I hope that somehow, I can show someone that it's not hard to achieve goals you didn't even know you had.