food

Journey to Cape Town

The moment I opened the website for Ultra Trail Cape Town 100km, I knew I needed to race it this year. I have raced three times in South Africa and absolutely love the running community, I also love Cape Town and I was very very eager to get on the trails and explore a side of things that I had not been able to when I have previously raced. 

Kim and Nic. Absolutely amazing new friends and running buddies. 

Kim and Nic. Absolutely amazing new friends and running buddies. 

I also knew that I wanted to actually get to spend some time in Cape Town. When racing Two Oceans, I have come for the race, barely staying on the ground for longer than I fly. I did not want to do this this time. Instead, I devised a plan to not only get to run the 100km, but enjoy the food, wine, culture and running community in Cape Town. 

Recovery at it's finest. Stunning meal at Pot Luck Club.

Recovery at it's finest. Stunning meal at Pot Luck Club.

I arrived in Cape Town three weeks ago and settled into a lovely flat with a great kitchen and plenty of room. I tried to recover from jetleg and get springy to take on my first challenge of the trip: Cape Town Marathon. I have been feeling good about my marathon training and with coach Ian Torrence, we decided Cape Town was a good spot to make a go for the Olympic Trials standard of sub 2:43. The course is IAAF Silver status and boasted a strong field and promised a fast course. Despite flying for 40 hours, not running much that week and adjusting to life down here, I felt good to go. Unfortunately, the day itself was not a fast one for anyone. 80% humidity and a ferocious headwind (both directions) slowed the field immensely. I struggled from mile 10 on and slogged into the finish in 2:51, despite a 1:22 half. Initially, I was very very disappointed. But in hindsight, once I learned about the high humidity level (i.e. saw how high it actually was) and looked at how this affects pace, I started to feel a bit better. Sucks to have the day be a slow one, but these are the factors that you have no control over. I will go after the standard again in December at CIM, but for now I am satisfied to focus on the immediate goals and adventures before me.

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I was lucky enough to be introduced to some amazing individuals who have made my trip here absolutely wonderful. Christo & Lauren, Kim and Nic have been so lovely. They have been amazing resources, company, running companions, dinner companions, coffee runs and all around great people. They have introduced me to their friends and the running community and I am so absolutely grateful to all of them. It really has been incredibly special to have such great people to spend my time with. 

Two of South Africa's best (and world's best too!) Kane Reilly and Ryan Sandes showing me the biggest climb of the race up Table Mountain.

Two of South Africa's best (and world's best too!) Kane Reilly and Ryan Sandes showing me the biggest climb of the race up Table Mountain.

I recovered pretty well from the marathon. My energy was slow to return but I was able to get out on the trails and explore some of the UTCT course. Enough exploring to know that I am really in for an adventure. There are so incredibly technical aspects to this race, there are some incredibly steep climbs, but there are so amazing views, blistering downhills and an ultra community behind this race that will be cheering me on with all their might. I have recovered, tapered and enjoyed myself throughly here. If you've been following along on my instagram (@fastfoodie), you know I've been soaking it all in!

Nic kicked my ass on more than just one run!

Nic kicked my ass on more than just one run!

And now it is the eve of race day. I can genuinely say that I am excited. Sure, I am nervous but because running 100km is hard and one should be nervous. But I am excited and happy mostly. Last night, I went to the race briefing and elite panel and I felt like I do at US ultras- this is a community. Kim and Nic have introduced me to many different people and so instead of feeling like an outsider, I felt embraces and accepted. It felt like home to me. That is a truly special and one of the amazing things that UTCT has really worked hard to foster for their race. I left the briefing feeling charged up and ready as I can be to be off and running at 5am tomorrow.

Looking forward to this view tomorrow, mostly because it means I am done with the hardest climb.

Looking forward to this view tomorrow, mostly because it means I am done with the hardest climb.

No matter what happens tomorrow, I have been absolutely blessed to be able to be here in Cape Town for so long and be a part of the running community here. This trip has been an adventure and tomorrow will be no different. I look forward to whatever it holds. My goals are simple: Be brave. Be strong. Be happy. It is as simple as that. 

Challenge of Balance

 Photo by Sherry LaVars

Looking back on this awesome article from a few weeks ago, I kind of chuckle to myself and long to be that busy. What I mean by that, is that day was leisurely and relaxed comparative to the days since. 

I knew that the SF Marathon would be the kick off to a very busy time in my life. Not only did it commence another training/racing season, it also was the start of wedding season (for me and many close friends/family), the busiest part of opening our cafe MH Bread and Butter, moving to Marin and still running my own business at the same time. It is a lot to manage and I tried to prepare myself for the big life changes.

Managing the day to day stresses has been a great learning experience. I have found myself to be able to handle a lot more than I ever thought I could and also buckled into a giant heap on the floor (before picking myself up and carrying on, of course) more times than I can count. 

 Photo by Sherry LaVars

One of the hardest things for me has been redefining myself as a runner. For the better part of the last two years, my running goals have been the primary motivator for how I schedule and navigate my life. While I am not and have never been a professional runner, running was my priority from how I ran my own business to how I structured my days. 

Now my days are much more demanding between the cafe and personal cheffing. Our cafe is becoming a reality (thanks in part to all of my awesome friends, family and supporters through our Kickstarter campaign) and the new onslaught of activities surrounding that endeavor get squeezed into every nook and cranny of my day (Nathan and I have had more productive "meetings" on runs than I can count). I am still working full time as a personal chef and have focused intently on maintaining awesome service for my clients, even as I am building another business.

I am still running and training hard. I have an insane racing schedule through the rest of the year which includes a marathon every month (Kauai, Chicago, NYC) until December, when I will be racing the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler. I want to do more than just participate in these races, I want to do big things. But the new paradigm of my life also means that I have been forced to redefine what I am capable of.

It is a hard thing to reprioritize.  Part of my struggle is that I am still doing the workouts and putting in miles, I am just not able to lead a running lead lifestyle anymore. Having different priorities means gone are the strategically timed meals, the luxurious naps, bi-weekly personal training sessions and weekly massage appointments. My energy is also eroded away (or should I say, otherwise utilized) so often times I am unable to get in a desired second run. My weekly mileage is less than it was, even though I cling to the idea of squeezing in a 100 mile week, somehow. 

Photo by Sherry LaVars

All of this has reminded me of what I can and can't do. I can shoulder a lot and have multiple chain saws in the air all at once. I can't drive myself into such exhaustion that I spontaneously fall asleep at my computer at 2 o'clock in the afternoon (not that that ever happened today). I can't expect too much of myself and I can't ignore my limits. I can remember to be kind and supportive of myself. I can remember that falling into pieces doesn't mean I've failed, it means I just needed to release a bit of the stress. It is a challenge to find the balance of all of these things.

I know for many people, I am just preaching to the choir about managing stress and balancing everything we have going on in life. It is a challenge, but I truly believe that I will find a way to fit everything I need to onto my plate. I know I will get through all of the challenges ahead. I know I will not navigate it perfectly. But I also know that everything we are undertaking is so important and worthwhile to us that there is nothing that will stand in our way from achieving our dreams.

M.H. Bread and Butter


I am very passionate about running. But I am also passionate about food. Nathan and I are opening up a small cafe in San Anselmo, California (Marin County). We've launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds to make our dream a reality. Please check out the video and consider contributing. There are some really cool incentives involved including a trail run on Mt. Tam with us!

15 things I learned about running from food


  1. Salt makes all the difference.
  2. Just because the recipe worked today doesn't mean it will work tomorrow. 
  3. And just because the recipe worked for someone else, doesn't mean it will work the same for you.
  4. There are 100s of ways to troubleshoot a problem and salvage a dish. Sometimes that means scraping it and starting over.
  5. You can't say you don't like it if you've never tried it. Don't be afraid to try something new- it may be your new favorite thing. 
  6. Practice makes perfect. Whether its knife skills or cooking the perfect steak- the more you do it, the easier and more efficient it will become.
  7. You have to adapt for altitude.
  8. Be patient. Good things can't be rushed. Cooking things low and slow often create the best flavors.
  9. You get out what you put into it.
  10. Every recipe is not a winner and every food isn't your favorite. Sometimes being edible is good enough.
  11. Don't be afraid of failure and never stop learning. Just when you think you have it figured out, your souffle will drop, you'll burn the bacon or you'll over whip your whip cream.
  12. There is more than one way to cook a goose.
  13. There is not ultimate defining meal of your life.
  14. Good food is best when shared.
  15. It doesn't have to be pretty to taste good.


Nutrition Navigation:Training as a vegetarian

Welcome to back to my ongoing series: Nutrition Navigation. The idea behind the series is part of the vision behind the cookbook I am working on, that is, bridging nutritional knowledge/needs and great food. In this series, I will focus on specific training periods or training needs (like peak training or post-long run), on a specific nutrient (like Vitamin D) or a specific food (like Kale) and show you how that translates into real, healthy, gourmet meals. Often times that means I will provide a snapshot of a days worth of meals or a collection of ideas, recipes or methods. Have questions or want to see something specific covered. Email me with your special requests! Please note, I am NOT a registered dietitian and these views reflect only what have worked for me as a runner and personal chef.



I get a lot of questions about being a vegetarian or vegan runner. I use to be vegan but it didn't work for me. I thrive on a pretty low grain/bean diet, am gluten intolerant, and dairy free. I like vegetables and protein. However, a lot of the time I eat very vegetarian and I think it can work for a lot of people. When going vegetarian there are a lot of questions runners have about meeting their nutritional needs.

  1. Don't be a junk food vegetarian. There are so many processed vegetarian products and replacement products out there it would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because it is a vegan or vegetarian processed product that it is good for you. Processed food vegetarian or not is not ideal for an athletic diet. Eat real food.
  2. Stay balanced. Not everyone loves vegetables the way I do. My downfall as a vegan was that I only really wanted to eat vegetables and my diet was out of balance. Make sure you monitor your balance of carbs (it can be easy just to inundate your diet with starchy carbs), fat and protein. A healthy athletic diet is a balanced diet.
  3. Think about, but don't worry about protein. As runners, we need protein. Not a huge amount but that doesn't mean you can neglect it. If you are eating a real food diet, just make sure that you are maintaining a healthy balanced diet that includes some obvious protein sources.
  4. Go nuts! Protein, fat,  nuts are quite the runners wonder food. Enjoy them freely!
  5. Get your Omegas. Try Udo's Oil an excellent source of 100% plant based Omega Fatty Acids.
  6. Cozy up with a good book. Well done vegetarian and vegan meals can often times be more complex and flavorful because they aren't relying on animal protein to carry the flavor and thus more effort is taken in building flavor. Invest in some good vegetarian cookbooks to help learn how to build flavor.
  7. Don't overthink it. There is no universal right answer of what to eat. (Oh look a theme in this series). Try different things out and see how you feel. If you keep the above in mind, you should be good to go!
What works for me:

I personally learn from examples. Even though I can understand a list (like above) or a set of instructions, often times I am able to synthesize it best by viewing an example. I thought for this series, I would include an example of what a typical vegetarian weekday of meals looked like.

Breakfast:

Yes, that is real gluten filled toast up there. Yes, I devoured it. Yes, there is an explanation for eating it, enjoying it and not being bothered by it. Unfortunately, no, I am still gluten intolerant. Toast with a butter and a selection of toppings is a great way to fuel up before a run. And a banana. My biggest problem with toast is that I feel hungry about 10 seconds later, I thrive better when I have something more protein and fat rich in the morning. I usually stick with my overnight oats, this week with amazing homemade maple almond butter with chia seeds.


Lunch #1 and Lunch #2:



I eat two lunches and I love salad and feel very incomplete without them on a daily basis. Ditto on the vegetables. Some might say it is too much fiber, but my body likes it, so I go wild with them. I happened to make a brilliant discovery with making my lunch: baked eggs. I had never had baked eggs before, but the idea sounded amazing and I ended up eating the almost identical salad twice.

To make baked eggs take a small pat of butter and melt it in a ramekin. Swirl the butter around to fully coat. Put some fresh chopped herbs, a bit of red pepper flakes and a little salt and pepper in the bottom. Crack two eggs over the herbs. Bake in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes depending on how hard or soft you want your eggs. The baker tells me that baking them in a water bath is the way to roll. I need to try that.

Each salad included:
  • Mixed Greens
  • Leftover sweet potato salad with preserved lemons and green olives.
  • 2 baked eggs with herbs and red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted broccoli (lightly sprayed with oil, roasted for 10-15 mins in a 450 oven).
  • simple vinaigrette


As with my taper week salads, I try and make sure that my salads are balanced with a good source of carbs (leftover sweet potato salad), protein (eggs), and fat (salad dressing). 

Dinner:

I was really excited to do this post and was really good about taking photos of my food all day long. One of the main reasons I picked this particular day was because I was preparing an epic vegetarian meal for dinner since we were having a vegetarian dinner guest. The meal turned out excellent. The flavors were amazing, the colors beautiful. And we gobbled it up without a thought for my camera which I had picked up right before we sat down to eat. So you have to settle for this:

That was a great recipe from Everyday Greens. It was a Indian Curry with Tamarind and Chilis. It was complex and flavorful and packed full of veggies. I served it over saffron rice, though I didn't have any. A great recipe, one that even a meat eater would beg for more of.

Being a vegetarian athlete has become more and more common and it is easy to create amazing delicious meals that also meet your nutritional needs. I think everyone benefits from having a meatless day each week so even if you are just going vegetarian for a day, this is a great place to start.

Nutrition Navigation: Taper Week

Welcome to my new series: Nutrition Navigation. The idea behind the series is part of the vision behind the cookbook I am working on, that is, bridging nutritional knowledge/needs and great food. In this series, I will focus on specific training periods or training needs (like peak training or post-long run), on a specific nutrient (like Vitamin D) or a specific food (like Kale) and show you how that translates into real, healthy, gourmet meals. Often times that means I will provide a snapshot of a days worth of meals or a collection of ideas, recipes or methods. Have questions or want to see something specific covered. Email me with your special requests! Please note, I am NOT a registered dietitian and these views reflect only what have worked for me as a runner and personal chef.


I am nearly all the way through my second big taper of the year (already!) and thought to myself, this would be a great time to launch that series I've been meaning to do on my blog. After all, taper is the time when most people are thinking, what the heck should I eat? For me, leading up to the race, I have a few simple "rules" to guide me as I make my daily food choices:

  1. Don't introduce or reintroduce anything new. Through much of my training, I have been following a very specific diet to help support my peak training as well as navigate around all of my various stomach issues and intolerances. 
  2. Keep it simple. Keep it consistent. What has worked for me through my peak training should continue to work for me through taper, although my daily needs are lower, I am eating the same foods I was during training. For me, this means that my diet for most of my taper is still 40/30/30. That is 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. I often feel like taper week is a "best of" from the various training meals I have enjoyed. I eat a normal healthy diet.
  3. Don't be restrictive but remember you are running a lot less. In peak training, I can be doing upwards of 120-140 miles per week which means I am taking in a huge amount of fuel during those times. During taper, my appetite may still be revved up but I am burning less calories. Find a happy balance between being satisfied and tapering your calories in accordance with your miles. You want to make sure you are fueling for your race and that means eating good fuel and eating often. Remember this shouldn't be a restrictive thing because if you keep in mind #1 and #2 you should have nothing to worry about.
  4. Carb up, without a depletion phase, in the last 3 days. Science has shown that you don't need to precede a carb loading phase with depletion. That means I eat my normal healthy diet Monday to Thursday and then start up'ing my carbs and lowering my fat and protein on Thursday to start powering up.
  5. Don't overthink it. There is no universal right answer of what to eat. Some people have iron clad stomachs and some people are hyper-sensitive. Look at what has worked for you and model after your own best practice.
What works for me:

I personally learn from examples. Even though I can understand a list (like above) or a set of instructions, often times I am able to synthesize it best by viewing an example. I thought for this series, I would include an example of what a typical taper week day of meals looked like.

Breakfast:
Throughout my training, I have developed the habit of having gluten free oats virtually every single morning. In fact, it is a rare day that I do not. Thus, during taper, I keep the habit alive. I believe in eating a hearty breakfast and setting myself up right. 


My favorite method of making oats is prepping them the night before, so when I return from my morning run, a warm creamy bowl of oats is only minutes away. I call this "modified overnight oats". Overnight oats are by far not an original creation, but since I like my oats hot, I don't just eat them out of the fridge.

Before I go to bed, I combine in a large jar:
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • teaspoon chia seeds
I put all the ingredients into the jar, seal tightly, give a little shake to combine and throw into the fridge.

In the morning when I return from my run, I take the jar of oats add 1/2 cup more water and pop into a small pan. I heat over medium heat, until it starts to bubble. When this happens, I take a whole banana, peel in and using my fingers, pinch of pieces and mix them into the oats. Once the banana is added, I stir frequently for 2-3 minutes, breaking up the banana further with a spoon. After 2-3 minutes, the mixture will have started to become thick and creamy. I turn off the heat and add 1/2 cup of liquid egg whites to get some good protein in there. 1/2 cup of egg whites has 12 grams of protein and only 60 calories. You get great bang for your buck on that and plus, they really make the oats smooth. I pour the oats into a bowl and top with two tbsp of nut butter. This morning I was enjoying some homemade roasted cashew and almond butter. The nut butter is key as it gives you some good fat and will keep you satisfied for a few hours. 



Lunch #1 and Lunch #2:


I eat two lunches during my training and therefore I eat two lunches during my taper. I use to only eat one giant lunch in the middle of the day but that left me feeling way too full for a while and then starving by dinner time. Now, I eat two moderately large lunches broke up by 3 hours. I like it way better than normal snacking. Typically my lunch #1 and lunch #2 are going to be a permutation of the same ingredients. Today, we went to the farmer's market before lunch so I was able to pick up some beautiful greens, kale and broccoli to highlight in my lunch.

I love salad and feel very incomplete without them on a daily basis. Ditto on the vegetables. Some might say it is too much fiber, but my body likes it, but I wouldn't recommend you take on salads in your taper week if you haven't been eating them in abundance in training. 

Each salad included:
  • Mixed Greens
  • Kale massaged with 1 tbsp of Udo's DHA Blend oil.
  • 1/2 cooked sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups roasted broccoli (lightly sprayed with oil, roasted for 10-15 mins in a 450 oven).
  • Mustard and Apple cider vinegar
Kale getting a massage

Salad #1 awaiting broccoli

Homemade grape kombucha on the side

Salad #2, three hours later with a glass of Nuun.

Clearly, I am like an elephant and like to eat my own weight in broccoli and leafy greens. In training and in taper, I actually have to think about ensuring that I have a good carb source (sweet potato), protein (hard boiled eggs) and fat (Udo's oil) to make sure I am getting enough in these salads. 

Dinner:

The Baker and I, over the past few months, have been pre-planning all of our dinners. We sit down together and figure out what we are going to have for dinner each night of the week and build a grocery list accordingly (I am going to be launching a series of blog posts called BYOPC- Be your own personal chef to highlight our menus and plans). Thus, it is easy for me as dinner time nears to execute our plan and not have to ask the question "whats for dinner". 

During taper week in our house, the taperer gets to lead the menu planning because of some of the aforementioned bullet points. For me, that means eating lots of veggies, sweet potatoes and potatoes and some lean meat.  Tonights dinner was a buffalo and veggie stir fry with sweet potato (for me) and rice (for the Baker) included:
  • ground buffalo
  • bok choy
  • red cabbage
  • carrot
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • gluten free tamari
  • roasted red chili paste
  • coconut oil
  • scallions
  • peanuts for garnish
  • sweet potato for me, coconut rice for the Baker

It was a pretty simple stir-fry. I heated a tbsp of coconut oil in a large pan and then put 1/2 of the garlic and ginger in the pan, cooking it for less than 30 seconds before adding the buffalo. I let that brown for a minute, added a couple teaspoons of roasted red chili paste, and cooked for another few minutes. I added a splash of tamari and then removed the pan from heat and put the buffalo in a bowl. I added a tbsp of coconut oil to the pan (since buffalo is so lean there was no fat left) and cooked the vegetables with the remaining garlic and ginger, which I had shredded into the same size (carrot, cabbage, red bell pepper and white parts of the bok choy. I added another splash of tamari, added the bok choy green parts and let that cook until the vegetables started to get tender. I added the buffalo back, tossed it all together and served. I served mine onto my sweet potato and Nathan's onto the reheated rice, topped with scallions and a scant tbsp of peanuts. Delicious!


As I said, these eats worked for me. It was a pretty easy running day and I felt sustained throughout the day. I really, really enjoyed all my eats today and feel like I successful married my nutritional needs with my desire to eat incredibly delicious food. Taper week nutrition couldn't be easier. Stick with what you know, stick with what you like and don't do anything new!

Confessions of a red-liner

I definitely don't have this kind of muscle tension right now.

I was going to entitle this post "recovery and adaptation" but that's boring and I don't want to start entitling my posts all with "this AND that". Plus, this title is much clearer: I have become a red-liner. What I mean is, I have been pushing myself to the brink and dancing on the edge of a very sharp sword for sometime. I think the only reason I don't go over is because I have a coach and his workouts kick my butt so hard I have to be judicious about my second runs and recovery miles. Since December, I have been running both faster (in my hard workouts) and slower (in my recovery runs). But oh whee, I have been burning since I started training for Houston. I feel strong, I feel fast, I feel light, I feel tired. My workouts are great, but the day after a hard workout I can definitely tell that I am dragging more than I like. As I mentioned in Friday's post, I did not wake up that morning feeling motivated. I listened to my body and ultimately it paid off with an awesome tempo run.

Yesterday, I woke up and again was not jumping out of bed, rearing to go. I only had recovery miles planned, so after a bit of lingering under the covers (it was cold out!) and a cup of coffee, the Baker and I headed out for a nice easy recovery run. I had all sorts of sore spots and various muscle aches but the miles generally felt good. I think my legs were more sore this week because I didn't have my usual Monday massage with Scott. No good! I need my weekly torture session! We had a lovely run, came home and enjoyed more coffee, oats and got ourselves sorted to enjoy the day. I planned to go out for another session in the evening while the Baker made dinner to get in some more mileage for the week.

It has been an interesting transition from ultrarunning to marathoning again when it comes to the weekends. No back to back 4 hour runs deep in the wilderness or in the Headlands. No hour of driving to get to the run. Only one long hard run per weekend. Since both the Baker and I are training for marathons right now (and he is in taper for Napa Valley) we suddenly have all this spare time on the weekend. It is freaking awesome! On Friday, I had suggested we hit up the Ferry Building farmers market, we both adore the market and seldom go because of the aforementioned ultrarunning reasons. But yesterday, we were determined.

Usually when we go to the market, we want to get there super early to beat the crowds of people. However, yesterday we banked on the predicted rain (or snow) and cold temperatures to keep the crowds at bay and made our way over there around 10:30.  I love the farmer's market!




We had decided to keep ourselves on a budget of $20 each so that we didn't go crazy over every delicious looking goodie at the market. It's a good thing too because I could have easily bought $20 worth of brussels sprouts alone. The Baker knows a lot of folks at the market including the one with the best kept "secret" there: Marianne Wiener, baker and owner of Anna's Daughters' Rye Bread. While everyone else is lining up for Roli Roti (which is amazing) or Blue Bottle Coffee (also amazing), Marianne is serving up the best cup of hot cocoa you have ever tasted. Seriously. I have tasted the sweet pure decadence and it is rich, creamy, chocolately but perfectly balanced. It took everything in my power to say no to a cup (since I am not doing dairy anymore or sugar right now).




Topped with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream, ah, heaven. One cup leaves you perfectly satisfied. Marianne is super sweet and we could have stayed there all day talking to her. Her rye bread is off the charts I hear, as well. However, we couldn't linger too long, we had an inspired lunch to make. As we wandered around the market, we each picked ingredients that caught our attention and slowly built a plan for a market inspired lunch. We grabbed Harissa spices, king trumpet mushrooms, spring onions, a mega bunch of kale, brussel sprouts and some lovely tulips.



We headed home a whipped up a spring onion scramble with Hungarian sausage and kale on the side. We wrapped it all up in some warm corn tortillas and it was simple bliss. I had fun taking pictures in the good afternoon light streaming through the kitchen window. So much for the predicted snowy dreary day!



It was an all around great day. I truly enjoyed the luxury of having run 7 miles before breakfast and having the entire day to interact with the world and do some of my favorite things! As the afternoon crept on, I started to think about that second run I had planned. I hadn't gotten more into the idea over the course of the day (I hadn't really thought about it at all), I actually had a bit of trepidation. My legs were feeling pretty sore and dead. I just couldn't get into the idea of running any more miles at any speed. But I also felt guilty. I felt like *should* (bad word I know) do more miles, after all, this was a peak week for me for the LA Marathon on March 20th. I wanted to get over 100 miles for the week and if I didn't run again, even with today's long run, I wouldn't make it. Then I had one of those, hello don't be an idiot moments. I realized that I was being ridiculous, really freaking ridiculous and dangerously stupid. I had arbitrarily decided at some point that my peak road weeks would be over 100 miles (and peak ultra/trail weeks over 140) even with a complete day off from running. 100 miles of road training a week is brutal and I have been doing it hard since I started my training for Houston in December. I did 414 miles in December, 403 in January and only 3 weeks this year have been under 90 miles, which were the two weeks before Houston and one week after. I know better. I just didn't realize that I wasn't taking the whole picture into consideration. The way I was looking at it was Houston through LA training standing alone, as opposed to my training leading up to Houston and continuing towards LA as one. That kind of longer push deserves more cut back weeks. In my head I somehow considered race week and the week after Houston as cutback weeks even though that definitely isn't the case. I can't count a hard marathon effort and a taxing experience as a cutback week even if the mileage number says it is so. Duh Devon.

Needlesstosay, I didn't run again yesterday. I took an ice bath instead to increase the muscle tension in my legs for today's long run. I may take a while to figure out the obvious but I definitely don't think twice when I do. I also realized in my contemplation of how hard I have been working that I have been running my long runs potentially too fast. I don't need to try and do every workout at marathon pace or have that be my goal. When I set out today, I first consulted my training paces and aimed to be in the mid to slower end of the 6:37-7:37 range that is ideal for my marathon goal. I planned to do a fast finish and ultimately had an excellent workout. I worked really hard and had a great week without being needlessly overzealous about mileage. It was a good week and I was able to pull myself back from a pattern of potentially harmful behavior and see the bigger picture. Ok, time to get out of the confessional and help with dinner.

I leave you with Scream Sorbet at the farmer's market. Non-dairy ice cream (macadamia vanilla pictured) because everyone needs more ice cream (or similar) in their lives and an exception to the rules every now and again.

Pen and paper


A phenomenal view from Mt. Tam. Definitely not today.

This morning when I woke up I was not motivated. My body was sore and tired. My mind seemed even less motivated than my body. It was a stark contrast to bounding out of bed on Thursday at 4:40am to go meet up with the Ninjas for our thursday morning run the day before. I then heard the driving rain pounding the window outside and I threw the covers over my head and hid. I knew I needed to get out there for a tempo workout, a workout while intimidating, in no way worried me enough to produce the complete lack of enthusiasm for running I had this morning. I worried for a bit that I might be pushing myself too close to the edge and burning out. I wondered if marathon training and its more tightly regimented nature was weighing too much on me. I decided that, whatever the reason, I was not going to run first thing this morning. The Baker came back to bed, sharing my lack luster enthusiasm, and quickly suggested coffee as a pre-run motivator. Since we don't routinely drink coffee before runs or even regularly, it sounded like a nice warming rainy morning treat. I was into it for sure. Anything to put off actually getting out there to run. The coffee was so delicious with a splash of coconut creamer and the caffeine perked me right up. I realized that I have been pushing myself damn hard and that if I can't get it together some mornings, then I need to listen to those messages from my body. If I ignore them and press through them, I really do run the risk of burning out.

Ultimately, the waiting paid off. I had a nice breakfast of my usual oats to power me up and the rain disappeared and I was able to have a nice sunny dry tempo run, knocking out 14 miles and hitting some great intervals in the mid 5 range, even on a really blustery day. I felt pretty good, even though my legs are definitely not as fresh as I might want them to be. When I was running, between tempo intervals, I was doing some thinking about my life and my career and my direction.

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog called "The Delicious Journey" it was a way to separate out my more personal thoughts from my running ones on this blog and my food ones on my fast foodie blog. Ultimately, I brought them all back together to this blog but have taken the observation that I can be "too confessional" under advisement. On "The Delicious Journey", I put it all out there, my goals, my plans and my struggles. Since eliminating that blog, I have hesitated more about the full on "wow, I can't believe you just put that out there" posts. I don't really think this blog is too confessional, I think it is reflective of my life and journey. It is personal, yes, but anyone who thinks it is confessional, probably doesn't know me, yet. I know this because when it comes to writing I am very judgmental of myself. I don't just put things out there without thinking them through. I am highly critical and try to always be complete.  Of all the things in the world that I see myself as, a writer is not primary amongst them.

Once upon a time, that was not the case. Once upon a time, I was a writer. And let me tell you, if you think I am confessional now, you should try and get your hands on one of the many  100 page compendiums of poetry I wrote in high school and gave to family and friends as gifts for the holidays. Those were confessional. And teenage angst riddled poetry aside, I was actually quite a good writer. I loved it, which was more important and I did it without any hesitation or thought of whether or not it was good enough, worthy or some day would be considered something special (by someone other than my mother).

Through a series of unfortunate events, I stopped believing in myself as a writer. The particular death knell was my high school graduation dinner. Several family members rallied together and denounced my dream and goal of being a writer. As is usual at these events, my family asked "what are you going to do now? What do you want to be?" I told them, a writer. Their response was to completely and totally attack my dream, my goal, list all the reasons it was a stupid idea and stamp out the fires of my passion until not even an ember remained. They were successful. While I left mid-meal, fleeing the restaurant in tears dragging my poor best friend Erin with me, the damage was done. Just when I was taking flight into my future as an adult, my dream was taken away from me. I didn't understand at that time how powerfully that night changed me. It would be easy to think that I should just be able to brush it off, but it was injurious and I didn't address the wound it caused fully for a long time. The irony of that conversation was that I was on my way to college to study pre-veterinary medicine on a full basketball scholarship. Not exactly your typical, I am pursuing my dream of being a writer path but I was a very practical teenager, my mother taught me well. I KNEW that being a writer was something I could and would do no matter what my career was and I had other career interests. Being a writer was something I considered to be a personal passion that might someday take shape into something more. I wasn't banking on it or being impractical.

I can be much more timid than you think.

Ultimately, I didn't become a vet and did ultimately complete my undergrad in English, Creative Writing. However, even going through that program, I rarely wrote. I struggled with the words every time I set down to put them on paper. I wrote one brilliant undergraduate thesis under professor Linda Bierds who had, only a few years before, won a "genius" grant. It is the only time in my undergraduate career that I ever felt like a writer, the rest of the time, I felt like a pretender. Like someone would soon call me out on being an impostor. I had full on F.O.F, I was paralyzed by it.

From the television show Family Matters:


Steve: “You don’t wanna take that test because you have F.O.F.”
Carl: “What is F.O.F?”
Steve: “F.O.F is fear of failure. Even the most confident people have moments of fofnoscity.”
Carl: “Are you calling me…a fofnoficator?”
Steve: “When you’re feeling nervous, when you’re trapped in that emotional pit of doubt and despair, that’s when you dig deep into your character; and, peel away the layers of cowardice, self-doubt and nay saying until you get down to the raw steel of yes-can-do; and, then, you hot dip that steel, and fortify yourself.”
I never got back to the feeling of "yes-can-do". I saw my thesis as a fluke, a reflection of a time (my time in South Africa) which was so emotionally charged, I couldn't help but write. I kept it and value that body of work. But I soon gave it up completely and moved on. I don't write in a journal, I don't write short stories, poetry or books. 
Therein however, deep seeded and undeniable is the desire to write a book. Last year, I thought I wanted to write a book about my time in high school but realized that that was uninspired, that I didn't actually have any desire to write about that at all. But the feeling doesn't go away. Clearly from this blog it is evident that when I find my inspiration, I can go on and on and on.
For a long time, I have had this sense "I want to write a book" but every idea that comes to me, I freeze with terror before I even have the first paragraph written. I flash back to that high school dinner and I give it up "knowing" it is futile. How ridiculous is that? It has taken me a lot of mental energy to even get to the point where I can really even understand my fear. Simply, I developed this sense that if I am going to write, it must be a success, it must make it. I never start because the idea is never fully formed from inception and therefore my insecurities are fed. 
I do want to write a book. In the past few years, I have really decided that I want to write a cookbook. But like my business, I was sitting back and waiting for things to unfold on their own. I was waiting for my big break but was doing nothing to create that reality. And that is backwards anyways. I want to write a cookbook, so hell, I should just write a cookbook. I don't need some publisher to give me the go ahead, I don't need my family to tell me it is ok, I don't even need to care if it ever exists except to myself. Its not a vague idea I have, it is a concrete one. I believe in my food and I believe in my desire to want to share it. So why not try?
I am going to try. I am going to pick up pen and paper (ok, I'll type) and write. I think there is a place in this over-saturated world for my voice too. I think runners and athletes who want to eat healthy but gourmet food would love a cookbook designed for them. I think people trying to bridge the "eat real food" with "ok what do I eat then" would love my recipes. And even if no one does care, I surely want to remember the amazing things I am throwing down in the kitchen (clearly I cannot be trusted just to blog them). I feel driven and motivated to not let one night define this part of who I was and who I am to be. I feel that I want to foster my own courage in life by defeating my biggest foe and biggest fear.
No more fofnoficating.
What are you a fofnoficator about?

I like food

Nathan's stop photographing my food and let me eat face.
Just kidding. Lunch at Pok Pok in Portland.

I like food. I promise. I admit it, I have left out the foodie part of this blog for some time now. Today, I was trying to figure out why.  I haven't been baking any great new muffin creations, but I have been cooking up some hugely creative meals. While you may miss my muffins (note: you can buy all your favorite gluten free muffin mixes from me here), I have been focusing my eating on all sorts of amazing vegetables and creative recipes that don't really include that much grains. I am actually surprised I haven't done a better job documenting all these eats because frankly I have been impressed with myself. I think that my kitchen confidence is coming from working more and more as a personal chef. It is all in the practice and I am in my groove. So why no food blogging? Well, I think the answer is, at least partially, day light. You see when I bake things, I can take beautiful shiny wonderful shots of the food in the afternoon light or even evening light. It makes a big difference. Since I make dinner around 7pm and its winter, there is not much light to be had for good photography. Believe me when I say, those shots of beautiful looking food you see all over the internet are not done in a dark kitchen or under florescent lights or using a flash. When I go out to eat, I am getting lost in the moment and enjoying myself and my experience. I don't want to be the person that makes everyone wait to eat and have their food get cold while I get a good shot of it.

Delicious treats from Ken's Bakery in Portland.
But not for this gluten free lady!

Whatever the reason, I have not been making you drool nearly enough or sharing the foodie side of me. This is just an acknowledgement of that. Whenever you do need to drool, head over to my recipe page and have at it.


Anyways, one thing I was inspired to share (again) is my kombucha. I have been brewing kombucha for almost 6 years now and I love having my own supply on hand. I would love to just go hog wild and start making enough to sell, along with other fermented goodies; I love fermentation. Everyone seems to be on the bandwagon these days with kombucha but I've been here all along. I posted my kombucha recipe on my blog 3 years ago (here). Check it out if you want to know how to brew it. My kombucha recipe is very simple and has a great flavor profile. I don't mess with a good thing by using herbal teas or flavored teas. I think it is easiest and safest to flavor after the fact.

A beautiful healthy kombucha culture.

Enough about the things I haven't been doing, I need to get out for another run and start work on another delicious dinner.

Someone's little workshop

Tis the season 

I certainly cannot believe that the year is almost over. It has been a good one, an journey for sure, both heavy and light with lessons and experience. But this is not about the bygone year. I would much rather celebrate the present and the season. It is a fun one after all.

This season we have been doing a making a bunch of DIY goodies that I am excited to share with friends and family. From Christmas cards to homemade chocolates, it is so satisfying to create something and share the success and goodies with others. There is something really empowering about creating things for yourself.

That feeling is something I have decided to harness for myself and my career. This fall, I have struggled with figuring out what direction I want to go with my career after my job ended in August. Over the past month (with all the luxurious time that comes from lower mileage, 80-90 miles a week ha!), I have been working on defining and creating for myself that direction. I decided somewhere along the way that I don't want to simply take a job I don't believe in to pass the time and pay the bills. I know myself, I burn out on that too quickly. I realized that I have lived my life afraid of truly going after what I want and creating my reality (especially when it comes to career). I mean, I went to culinary school but didn't take up cheffing. I immerse myself in food and nutrition, yet sit on the sidelines, afraid to true and carve out my piece of the pie. But I realize now, I want to pursue food as not just my passion, but as my career.

And let me tell you, I have been busy in my little workshop! I have been building up my personal chef client base and am actively pursuing new clients in the bay area. I have rebuilt and relaunched my personal chef/cooking website Fast Foodie. I am having my friend (and amazing designer Rick Gaston) design a new logo for me (sneak peek in the picture below!). I have launched a line of gluten free muffin and cookie mixes  that I am looking forward to developing into a line of muffins, granolas and bars!


I know where I want to go (cafe/bakery of our own!) and I would like to develop myself and my skills as the journey takes me forward to that eventuality. It is not an easy thing to undertake, nor is it all passion and inspiration, but it feels right. Many say, "but what about your running?" and I say, "what about my life?". Running is a huge part of my life, but it something I am not willing to defer every other aspect of my life for. I have done that and nearly imploded in the process. I find it surprisingly easy to balance and furthermore, I like the challenge. Food is a huge passion of mine and I feel as driven to create with this medium as I feel driven to run. It makes me excited.