Angles and surfaces

When I started writing this post I had approximately, or should I be more honest and say specifically 27 minutes to finish the post before my dinner was ready. There was something intensely satisfying in this because less than 8 minutes before I had come in the door from a phenomenal second run for the day. 30 seconds after I walked in the door, in the oven went my Mole Skillet pie (complete with homemade chile chocolate mole sauce and cornbread crust).

Ready to go into the oven!

But as we can see, I didn't quite make it to the end of the post. Emails were more interesting and then dinner was much more interesting and suddenly here it is Sunday afternoon and I am finally bringing together then posting. Phew...

Inside the mole skillet pie

What I learned in culinary school:
Always cover your blender with a rag when blending hot liquid.
I almost got a most rad scar on my arm when my instructor scaled me by not abiding by this.

Mini People and Ice cream makers
I am once again remind in the last couple days of the strange things that make people more human. I never thought that material objects could bring out the best in people (and maybe that IS in fact true) but I observed again, as I had last year, that mini cooper people have this incredible habit of greeting one another on the road. When I first got my mini cooper, I noticed that when I saw another mini cooper the driver would always wave or give me a head nod. I felt like I was in a secret club and inevitably I found myself picking up the habit, at least there at the start of my ownership. After a while, I wasn't seeing as many minis (seattle has less minis that SF) and I wasn't driving as much, so the habit passed into the back of my mind. But in the last three days, I was thrice pleasantly surprised when I saw other mini owners and they all gave me the friendly wave. It may seem silly, but it really made me smile and laugh. In a time when I was questioning meaning and human interaction (among other things), it carried great meaning to me. It is such a simple thing to do but it can mean so much.

Speaking of simple pleasures, can you imagine living without some form of ice cream? I know not everyone likes ice cream. But even non-ice cream lovers occasionally like it or at least have the option to eat it. I however have only one type of ice cream (well, two but for this purpose non dairy fruit sorbet is not really talking bout ok?) that I can/will eat. And you can't get it in the state of washington. How great is that? Not! One of the main things I look forward to about going to SF is being able to get "my" ice cream. What am I talking about? Nut milk ice cream. Dairy, NO! Soy, NO! Rice, NO! Nut milk. Period. If you haven't had some, you have no idea what you are missing (well you other gluten/soy-free vegans out there). It is delicious, it is creamy, I can eat a whole pint in one sitting. And better yet, I can eat a whole pint and only consume 600 calories..... Oh yeah. Most people think nut milk would have alot more calories than even dairy (like its frozen peanut butter or something...) but in fact Nut milks (like the Almond Milk I put on my granola every morning) has about 30 or so less calories per serving than the other guys. I know what some of you runners are thinking, count calories boo!!!!! But really, to me there is something even MORE satisfying to eating a whole pint of ice cream and knowing it didn't take my entire run for the day to burn it. Plus, I make my own nut milk and there is absolutely no sugar in nut milk ice cream, so its alot healthier. All of that said, I have been trying to think of some creative alternatives to gluten free baked goods for the occasional treat and nut milk ice cream came floating to mind. Knowing no where in Washington sells or even wants to consider carrying it (I even asked the Vegan Store to carry it and they said no one would buy it...people don't even know!), I am stuck in a position that I often find myself in in the last year or so being gluten/soy free and vegan....Make it myself. I hoped online and saw that William Sonoma was carrying the one we used in culinary school and I was stoked. There is a store close to my house, so hoping against hope that they 1) had it and 2) had the same 45% discount happening, I went down to check it out. And lo and behold, they did! I bought it and am currently enjoying the thought that pretty soon here, I will be making my first batch of almond milk ice cream. I will post pictures, as soon as I make it.

Week in Review

After last week sans recovery feeling, I was thinking that I would have some inevitable slow down this week. I took monday off, got a massage with the wonderful and amazing Alison, whom I am hoping will soon have her massage website up so I can send all of you too it and book with her and hoped that my legs would come back to me by Tuesday. I had run 86, 95 (not 91 like I thought and posted as such) and 78 miles in the previous three weeks and figured my body would probably insist on taking it easy. But surprisingly, I was wrong. Boy was I wrong!

Tuesday came all too soon and I wasn't able to get out to Cougar Mtn like I hoped because I was waiting around the office for a Fedex, which when it came finally, I was unable to work in the files that I needed to complete the project. I was pretty frustrated and all the co-workers who could help me in the Atlanta office were MIA, so instead of kicking things or sitting there and simmering, I decided to go on what my high school best friend (whom I miss dearly) EP and I use to call a "I hate you so much right now" run, the chorus of this song being the idea. When one of these runs was in store, they were intense and fast. The idea was to run your way out of anger, that or run until you are so exhausted you can't be angry. I took off at a sub 7 minute pace and ran 11 miles, even with a bit of slow down on the big hills (like Wallingford Ave). I averaged 7 min pace for the entire run. And, even more important, I felt better, went back to work and was able to complete the task. That evening, I went up to SRC to do the club run and figured I would pull back so I didn't blow up too early in the week and not get at least a good recovery week in. Or so thought I. Usually there is a group of guys who gets pretty competitive at the front for the tuesday runs. Sometimes I run with them, sometimes I don't. Well, none of them were there and so I figured, great I can just cruise and not feel like I am chasing. Instead, I was out there in front doing my thing. After the initial mile or so, I was running alone with a new guy in the group and we were keeping a nice quick pace. I felt really good actually. We powered up Interlaken, Galer and through the park. Not only were we the first back to the soccer field, but we ran 2 minutes faster than I usually run that route. So much for taking it easy.

Wednesday, I decided to get out to Cougar to make up for my missed opportunity on Tuesday. I was joined for my run by Jove. We planned to do about 10 miles, doing the loop that Alison and I usually do. However, I was evidently distracted or not thinking because I managed to miss one of our early turns and we ended up going a new and creative way around. We went up Quarry trail and then did the Wilderness Peak loop. He is a very good uphiller, so I pushed myself on the uphill hard in order to at least give him a good workout. While we were running, we were discussing the way I feel comparatively between this year and last. It was interesting to think about. It is really hard to say. I definitely don't feel as fast as I was at this time last year, but really I shouldn't. I feel equally fit and more strong and streamlined than I did this time last year. That is where the ideas of angles and surfaces came to mind. Last year at this time, I was peaking for Mad City 100k which was VERY much the focus of the first half of my season. One year ago today, I did the Napa Valley Marathon as a training run (in a big training week for me last year 70 miles!) and won. A month previous, I had run Jed Smith 50k and won/course record and ran one of the fastest times for an American woman in 10 years. I have had a few occasions lately where I have lamented feeling not feeling that fast anymore. But then I remember, my focus is different now. The angles and surfaces are different. This year (first half of the season), I am focusing on running up great big hills on trail and doing that fast and strong. Compared to last year, I am much stronger in that department. I think that is just another one of those things that I have keep reminding myself (but have known from the beginning/ why I love ultrarunning) is that you will never really be able to compare one race to another, there are just too many factors. Nonetheless, we kept running. I manged to run us in another circle on our way trying to connect to the Lost Beagle Trail and we ended up doing a 2hr run, which Jove seemed fine with. Best laid plans right? It was really fun and I look forward to running with him again.

Thursday, oh Thursday. As I blogged, I was not having a good day, but I managed to get out and do a 14+ mile loop. The sunshine went a long way in thawing my heart and I was able to gain some equilibrium in my own mind. I realized that I have for my entire life, been seeking meaning. Last summer, I even realized that I often overlooked what was here and now, in search of some future meaning, etc. At that point, I came to the realization that there is inherently meaning in everything/ no meaning in anything (which if you think about it, really is the same thing). Most of the time, this is a very freeing actualization for me and brings me firmly into the moment. But sometimes, especially since I have also lifelong been prone to melancholy, it is jus such a sorrowing thought. But as I ran, I was once again able to see, that is it neither a good or bad thing, it just is and by accepting it, I am able to embrace it. I have known for a long time, as I said in that blog, that "mama said there'll be days like this" and that I just have to be patient until they go away. In voicing my feelings, I was really looking for an answer simply facing myself on the page and expelling it from within, which is begins of turning the tides on it.

By the time Friday rolled on in, I was thinking my legs were going to be DOA. I had already done 45 miles in 3 days and had gone to sleep with very tired legs. But I woke up on Friday morning feeling decent and headed out mid morning for a tempo-esqe workout. One of the things I need to start being more religious about in my training is speed/tempo workouts. I need to do them weekly and be good about it. I am not sure what exactly my tempo pace currently would look like. I am not in speedster pace like I was last year, so its harder to gauge. But I figured, a hair faster/ about equal to my marathon pace of a year ago was a good goal for this workout. I ran my first 4.12 miles in 6:36 pace and then eased up for the second recovery lap in 6:47 pace. When I got home (especially in light of Jove and my conversation) I did a little, oh yeah I still got it dance, knowing that I felt very comfortable at those paces and if I had rested legs would be able to pull them off for much longer (even a marathon). As a delicious reward I decided to make some gluten free/vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Bread. Another great recipe from Karina's Kitchen, this bread absolutely rocks. Great texture, fantastic flavor combination and straight out of the oven provided some seriously warm gooey goodness. It must have been a chocolate kind of day, because later that evening I made my Mole Skillet Pie. Aren't I glad Dark Chocolate is so good for you!

After making the bread, finishing up the afternoon of work and getting the Mole Skillet Pie oven ready, I went for my second run of the day. I headed down along the Burke Gillman and to Fremont for my favorite loop. I got on Wallingford Avenue and despite having run fast in the morning, I was flying up the hill! I was impressed with myself. By the time I got home, I was twice as giddy as I had been after my morning run. I put my Mole Skillet Pie in the oven and soon there after enjoyed its many layered deliciousness.

Saturday morning at 9am, I met up with Alison, James and many other runners (Laura, Greg Crowther, Van Phan, you know, the usual suspects) to do the 3hr (there was also a 10k and 6 hr option) run at Des Moines Park. The course was a 4 mile loop, with a shorter loop of 1.1 miles for when you were close to the cut off time. Alison, whose hamstring has been bothering her and I set off at a very conservative pace, especially since this wasn't at all a race to us, but merely a quasi-coordinated training run. It was cold at the start so I wore my rain coat and had gloves, I was going to carry a bottle. All of those things got abandoned after 1 lap. The loop itself was most MTN bike track and though pretty flat, never really allowed you to get a rhthym because it was so twisty. Alison and I did 3 laps together and then she decided to slow up and mind her hamstring. The laps were not going as fast as I had anticipated, but I wanted to get at least 20 miles for the day. With 15 minutes left, I came into the start/finish at exactly 20 miles, everyone encouraged me to go do the 1.1 mile loop and so I took off as hard and as fast as my tired (finally) legs could carry me. So for the day, I got 21.1 good miles in.

Today, I met up with the SRC Sunday group, as well as Alison and James for a 14 miler Cougar Squaw Mtn loop(was suppose to be 16 but someone at the front didn't do Central Peak?). My legs were very tired, so I was glad that Alison wanted to take it easy as well.It was a pleasant run and was my first time on Squaw, which is very nice!

This has been a really great training week and though I am tired, I am happy to be because I know my training is going well. This is "good training" tired. I did 96 miles this week and there is even a small part of me that thinks I might even have a recovery run left in me yet for today (just a short tool around Greenlake!?!? 5 miles thats all!) but not likely. I feel good that I am pushing myself but still being smart about not overtraining. The next two weeks leading up to Chuckanut will be a semi-taper though I am planning on training through the race. I just want to get my legs as fresh as possible for that race. All in all, a great week.

Addendum: I did, in fact, go for that extra 5 mile run, putting my week at 101 miles. And even more surprising was how great I felt. I just kept telling myself this was my final charge to the finish line at WS. I actually strapped on my pack and ran round Greenlake and then to whole foods, so really I was just reducing my carbon footprint, multitasking and breaking the 100 mile mark all in one :)