Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pinterest Masterpieces aka WTF THIS ISN'T REAL FOOD

I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. I love finding new recipes. I hate logging on for a minute and finding myself craving a rich dessert immediately. I love seeing witty posters and word art other people pin. I hate feeling like I'm wasting time scrolling through a jumble of makeup tutorials and meticulous wedding ideas. I love getting quick workout ideas. I hate the "5 minutes to flat abs!" captions.

What mostly makes me laugh, more than a picture of a cat with a funny caption, is when I see someone pin "clean eating ideas!" and "10 moves to shed pounds fast!" followed directly by a recipe for a sugary processed dessert monstrosity.

Why? Why would you submit yourself to this?

Please no. "But it's sooo good!" Of COURSE it tastes good. Look at it. YOU CAN'T EAT ALL THE THINGS.

None of this is even real food. So you want cheesy bread? Sure, go use some wheat dough and some real cheese. But this? This isn't food.

Caption: "Candy corn stuck in cookie dough center for candy corn on the cob!"

Just remember, friends don't let friends eat chemicals pretending to be food.

Friday, September 20, 2013

2013 VHTRC Women's Trail Half Marathon

Other than my marathon, the VHTRC Women's Trail HM was the most excited I've ever been for an event. There were a lot of firsts for me:

1. First trail race. Training for this was pretty much the first time I'd ever ran on trails
2. First lottery system entry
3. First women's only event
4. First time offerred a shot of tequila at an aid station

The entry system was kind of wacky, and I barely made it in after being on the wait list. My preparation was mostly on the trails of the Bull Run battlefield, with a little on the Appalachian Trail as well. I wasn't sure what to expect on the actual course, but the description made me think it would be pretty hilly and challenging.  I had only 3 weeks to get cram my training in after my last century, so my plan was to shred my legs for a solid 2 weeks and then rest them for the 6 days leading up to the race. This involved some crazy situations like running a full 13 just three days after a century, a combined 20 miles on trails two days apart, and one Saturday of running 10 in Bull Run in the morning and hiking 6 on the AT in evening.

(Okay that last one was actually unintentional. But it was super beneficial.)

Anyway, I wasn't sure how this haphazard training method would come together, but on race day I was feeling pretty good! The course was through Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax. I had never been to Fountainhead before, but it was a great location.

After being directed to park on the side of the road, I picked up my number and got my shirt. It's an awesome long sleeved Patagonia technical shirt. I love getting decent shirts at races! Husband and I waited in line at the porta potties, and I must admit I was kind of intimadated by most of the people around me. The Virginia Happy Trails Running Club is more of an ultra marathon kind of club. All around me were super fit awesomely muscular women who have done 50 and 100 mile trail races. And then me- Hi, I like running. One time I did a marathon. Oh, you've done 100 miles? Over hills and on trails? I've hiked 100 miles on hills and trails. It took me 5 days. I was having serious leg muscle envy.

Anyway, because of my intimidation, I stuck to the back of the pack at the starting line. I reminded myself of the hints I had picked up from experienced trail runners: save you energy, walk up hills, ignore your watch, try not to break your leg on a root or a rock. GOT IT.

my trusty fuelbelt
The first mile or so was on pavement, and in hindsight, I was foolish to ease up to place myself towards the back of the pack. Once we got on the singletrack trail, I was pretty bottlenecked. I really didn't care; I wasn't going for time and as a newbie, I was trying to pick up on etiquette from the other women around me. By mile 5ish I had gotten out of the crowd and had a better groove going. This is also where I entered the "infamous Do Loop" which..... was not as hard as I thought it would be. I walked up a few hills. I passed some people. I went through a couple aid stations and grabbed a handful of cashews. Props to the aid stations for actually having nutritous and desirable options!

impossible to look good in running photos? sounds about right
a little better... maybe?
 Once out of the Do Loop, we were headed back to where we came from at the starting line. I had just passed a big pack of runners and made my way to the mile 8 aid station, where I could see the start & finish line.

Once I was back in the woods, I started seeing the occaisonal uber fit woman charging down the trail coming towards me. I realized the rest of the course would be an out and back, so I started counting runners that were crossing my path. I got to 70 at the turn around point, and then counted backward as I passed a few more women. At mile 11 I grabbed a swig of gatorade, delined a shot, (despite the chant  "Tequila makes you run faster!") and went on my merry way to the finish. The last few climbs were challenging, but I still felt pretty good and was encouraged by the distant sounds of the finish festivities.

I cruised in at 2:17 and landed 62nd place out of 220. I definitely think I could have pushed myself more, but I was intentionally conservative because of my lack of experience.

As for the finish line festivities, there was plenty of fresh fruit, smoothies, multigrain chips, and cookies to go around. I thought the organization was well planned, the atmosphere was supportive, the course was challenging, and the whole event was really well done. I loved this race and it will definitely be on my calendar for years to come!

Monday, September 16, 2013

New Garmin Forerunner 220 and 620

Garmin just announced these slick new watches, their first with color displays.

New features I think are pretty neat:
- Finish time prediction, based on current run stats and past performance
- A mobile app that allows a caring husband track you on your run

My watch already has satellite data transfer and the autopause feature, so those aren't shiny new developments for me. But they are awesome!

Priced at $250 and $400 (yikes!), they will be available in 5-8 weeks.

Detailed writeup here on

ETA: Check out this blogger's review after running with the 620!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fit-tastic Friday Links - Good Eats Edition

All of the following have been tried, tested, and approved by yours truly:

Garden Tomato Basil Soup -- Season with Spice [Ahhhhh this was so good. We were lucky enough to have received a nice haul from a friend's garden, so almost all the ingredients in this were fresh. We could not stop exclaiming during dinner how delicious this was.]

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries -- a Kitchen Addiction [This is my favorite way to season sweet potatoes.  iI won't do it any other way. The chili powder and brown sugar is a great combination!]

(no sugar) Cranberry Banana Bread -- Once a Month Meals [No sugar, no honey... where does the sweetness come from? It's a mystery. But man this is good. When I was training for my my marathon in March I ate the whole loaf in one weekend.]

Cauliflower Pizza Crust -- One Good Thing [This was surprsingly really good! I liked it thin and we used less cheese than it called for. We also doubled the recipe for both of us.]

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ashland Century - Tour de Lion 2013

When looking for cycling events, Husband and I have a few things we look for. In order of importance:

- Must be held on a Saturday (we're Mormon, and Sunday is a day of rest)
- Within two hours of home
- Reasonable cost (preferably under $50. There are two of us, after all)
- Well supported rest stops

The Tour de Lion met all of our criteria. The event was only $35 and the race organizer assured me via email that each rest stop was well stocked, including a lunch at the halfway point and second lunch at the finish.

We reviewed the course ahead of time and saw that it would be fairly flat. We like the challenge of hills (all of our other centuries have been suuuuper hilly) but also liked the idea of a less exhausting ride. :) We weren't thrilled with the out-and-back design of the course. Most organized rides are a loop, and it's definitely more desirable to have new scenery the whole time. Also, some of the joy of a downhill is taken away when you know that you're turning around at some point and going right back up it.

We found the starting line easily and picked up our packet. With cheap races, we don't expect much of a swag bag, but we did get some granola bars and fruit with our bibs. There were bagels and coffee on the registration tables, and checking in was quick and painless.

This was definitely the fewest people we'd seen at a century before- there were maybe 50 riders congregating at the starting line. A lot of them looked fast. We later learned that most of them were locals and from racing clubs in the area, so that explains why we never saw them again.

After just a few minutes, we settled into a pace with a solo female rider whom I immediately made friends with. I tend to do that. We stopped super briefly at the first rest stop, only 15 miles in, and I mostly veered over there because I saw chocolate. I can't refuse a handful of M&Ms. We quickly pedaled away and my new friend Melanie and I were chatting so much that we didn't realize we hadn't seen any signs in a while. Eventually we stopped and got out a cue sheet.... we had totally ridden off course. At least 5 miles. We checked a map (before smart phones, did humans just get lost constantly? and stay lost?) and debated trying to find a route back to the course, but then decided we would turn around, find the right turn, and in the interest of NOT adding more miles to the already long ride, we'd turn around before the halfway point to make up for the miles we were off course. Suddenly I was very glad it was an out-and-back.

On our way back to the course, we found several other riders who had missed the turn as well. See, we're not fools! I blame myself for our mishap because I was the one leading out of the rest stop after my impromptu chocolate grab, and Husband and Melanie were trying to catch up.

It turns out our little deviation added 16 miles to the ride. Husband decided to go the full distance to the turn around point, and sped off from us in pursuit of a crazy long and tiring day. For the next many many hours and miles, Melanie and I rode along on this oh so pleasant Saturday on this oh so flat ride.  Seriously, the weather couldn't have been better and the inclines and descents were mild and kept the ride interesting without being over challenging.

Because we turned around earlier than the course marked, we missed the halfway rest stop. The rest of the stops were fairly well supplied, but I would have preferred more variety. They had water, gatorade, ice, nature valley bars, trail mix, bananas, and an assortment of what I tend to call "crap food" like Doritos, hostess snacks, etc. I was glad I had brought a few items for myself.

At mile 90, my legs became lead and I was going so.slow. Melanie wins an award for being patient neough to stopp and wait for me at one point to make sure I didn't miss the not very well marked turns. A small climb woke me up, and before we knew it we were navigating back to the Food Lion where we started. The finish line tent was great about applauding each rider as they came in, awarding us with medals, and serving up BBQ ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, and rolls.

I had been wondering how Husband was faring, and was just starting to get worried when he came cruising in. 120 miles! Who does that?

It was a great day. The Tour de Lion century gets a low grade on course marking (not just for our one wrong turn, but the others were hard to follow at times, too), moderate grade on rest stops and finish line food, and high grade on convenience, cost, and overall friendliness. I have a hard time rating the course, because normally I wouldn't like an out-and-back but it ended up being very beneficial with our detour. The mild terrain would make this a great ride for someone trying out their first century, but would be disappointing for someone looking for a more challenging ride.