A new adventure

TRT 50 mile, 2007. Photo by Scott Dunlap

The photo above was taken in my first year of ultrarunning, it was pre-sponsor days. In fact it was my very first 50 miler. Now looking at this picture, I see an immensely amount of foreshadowing about the course of my running and, more over, being sponsored. What you can't see in this picture is that I am wearing one of my beloved pair of Salomon running shoes. I wore the heck out of those shoes and finally in 2009 became a member of the Salomon running team. At that point in my running career, I was becoming very ultra focused and had my eyes on the 100 milers for 2010. Yes, I was still doing some road stuff, but it was secondary. I loved my time on the Salomon running team. They were amazing generous sponsors and I really loved my teammates.

Last year, I found myself as a runner. Deciding to try and run the Olympic Trials in the marathon was a turning point in my running career. I got back to the root of who I was as a runner and the way that I train best. No, I am not going to say that I found a road runner. Instead, I found an adventurer. And I found someone who can seek adventure within as much as I can seek adventure on a mountain or curving the line of some single track. I found balance, challenge and started to redefine myself. I am a hybrid runner. I love road, trail, combos, uphills, downhills, short and long distance. I just love to run, unabashedly and unbiased. My contract was up with Salomon at the end of last year and I decided not to renew it. I didn't have any other offers on the table at the time, but I could see that where I was going with my running, was not the proper fit for the Salomon team anymore. I am very thankful for my time at Salomon and the opportunities they gave me. 

After the Olympic Trials, I was feeling incredibly inspired in my running. I was choosing races according to my hearts desire alone. Dreaming big and setting some huge goals. I feel like I am exploring the possibilities of who I can be as a runner and as an adventurer. It is a really cool feeling.

When I started exploring the possibilities of potential other sponsors, I spent a good amount of time considering whether I would find a sponsor that would accept me for who I am as a runner. I made a firm decision that I would run for no one if it mean compromising the things I had learned about myself. 

I said the photo above was foreshadowing and looking at it now, I see it was. When I was unsponsored and new to the sport, I simply wore what I liked/loved, what felt comfortable, what made me feel like I could run like the wind. What was I rocking?

I am excited, humbled and absolutely overjoyed to announce that I am joining the North Face team. I am super stoked to be a part of such an amazing group of athletes and represent for a company that embodies the same spirit of adventure that I do. I have some great races lined up for the year and I can't wait to get started!

I am worthy

I woke up this morning with a hangover. No, not the booze induced kind. The emotional kind. The I let myself get flipped, turn upside down, which was is up kind. The feeling of going from confident and empowered to weak, confused, self-doubting and self-deprecating. This morning on my run, I had to dig deep to work my way out of the tailspin and get back on firm ground.

I am someone who is a lifelong believer in self-work. I search myself for the root of things, look in the mirror face on and continually try to be the best person I can be. I want to be the best me I can be, the most genuine, the most real. For myself and for others.

In my life, one of the things that I have had to work hardest at is not externalizing my self-worth, not depending on others to validate me or tell me I am good enough. I have learn the lesson the hard way, hurtful ways, time and time again. But as a person dedicated to self work, I have gradually learned the lesson. I have learned that the price you pay for that external validation is often too high.

Two weekends ago at the Trials, when the gun went off, I was not brimming with confidence. I didn't necessarily feel like I belonged. For the first two miles of the race, I focused on a single mantra, repeating it over and over again to chase away the self-doubt. "I am strong. I am fast. I am important." By the time we reached the 2 mile marker, the self-doubt had melted away and I was ready to just run my butt off. I knew I belonged. I believed that I was worthy. I found the validation within myself.

Since the Trials, I had not relinquished that self-empowerment. I felt excited, empowered and enthusiastic about the possibilities moving forward this year. Over the past year, I feel like I truly came into my own as a runner and with that, my understanding of myself as a runner. I was feeling self-directed and that I was training and racing the way that brought pure joy and happiness to my life. I felt free of expectations and the need for external validation. It is such an amazing feeling to wake up passionate every day about the life you are living.

But self-work is constant work and old habits can die hard. When you think you are safe, it is often the time to be most vigilant. And yesterday, I relinquished my feelings of self-worth and let others dictate how I felt about myself. By the end of yesterday, I was no longer riding the high brought on by my empowering run at the Trials, I was, instead, my own worst enemy. By externalizing my feelings of self-worth and validation, I simply moved farther and farther away from actually feeling that way. Every attempt to regain it externally pushed me farther down the rabbit hole. I could not talk myself out of it.

So when I woke up this morning, the feeling of being emotional steamrolled lingered. As Nathan and I took off on a run, I immediately started negative self-talk and self-depreciation. I beat myself up.

But as we ran, I pulled myself up short. I stopped punishing myself and being my own worst enemy. I forgave myself for relinquishing my power and my self-worth externally. I simply stopped. I realized that, despite a perception of the world being turned upside down, the world was still exactly where I left it. Nothing had actually changed except my perception of it and my perception of myself in it. Just because I was now telling myself I was unworthy, the world was no different than when I believed I was. It may seem like a very simple thing, but the way we talk to ourselves has infinite power to shape our perception of the world.

People say self-deprecating things about themselves to me all the time. They tell me they are not as good a runner, they can't go that fast, they can't do xyz and it always bothers me. I always tell people that what they are doing is amazing and it is not a matter of comparison. If 3 miles is your 50 miles, then you should feel amazingly empowered by that. To say to yourself, "I am worthy" creates an energy and power inside yourself that makes you feel like you could take on the world. Yesterday, I was reminded that whatever it takes, I need to keep the mantra replaying over in my head. We all do. Our worth is our own. And we should protect it vigilantly.

I am strong. I am important. I am smart. I am beautiful. I am worthy. 

These are a few of my favorite things

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when you DNF a race, you are suppose to think of your favorite things, right?

Instead of telling you my all favorite warm fuzzy things (like The Baker, carrot muffins and sleeping for 12 hours) that have made me feel better over the past few days, I am going to tell you about my favorite running related things/products from this year.

In no particular order:

1. Salomon XT Advanced Skin 5 SLAB pack
Bottles? We don't need no stinking bottles. Though I love and adore my gel-bots for ease of fueling and hydrating, my arms don't like carrying bottles. I use to have really good upper body form until I started running with a hand held. But for a long time it was necessity because I could never find a pack I loved. Thankfully, Salomon created one that I love, love, love. It is super light weight and breatheable. It has easy to access pockets and fits me like a glove. It doesn't bounce and it never feels heavy even when full. It is a smart customizable pack.

2. Floradix Iron & Herbs and Floradix Calcium & Magnesium
I have struggled with my iron levels for a very long time and am always concerned about my body health because I am a high mileage female runner. These two Floradix products are the only things that have shown substantial results by the numbers. My iron has stayed out of the anemic range since I started taking it and my bone health is excellent since adding the Cal/Mag as well. Though the taste of the Iron & Herbs is very metallic, the powerful results make it palatable to me. I have taken pretty much everything under the sun for my iron and Floradix simply works. All runners should take these two products.

3. Vespa Ultra-Concentrate
I have long been a fan of Vespa products and use them as part of my training and racing. I can run longer and harder on an optimized fat burning system. Until the Ultra-Concentrate came out, the only problem with taking Vespa's during races was the size. The larger pouches are harder to carry on your person, so you either had to rely on a crew or drop bags for getting them mid-race. The Ultra-Concentrate size is smaller than a gel and as powerful as the regular. Makes it perfect for racing and long adventures!

4. Gu Watermelon Chomps
I get mid-race gel burnout and these Chomps are where I turn. The watermelon taste is tasty and also does not have a gel flavor equivalent, so it stay fresh tasting. It is the closest I get to eating candy and I look forward to when I get to change things up in a race and have some of these.

5. Suunto T6D with mini foot pod
The Suunto T6D is one powerful little tool. It has an altimeter, with the calibrated foot pod, it can track distance, speed and a thousand other bits of information about your run and then syncs up to Movescount. For me the best feature is its size. It is normal watch size. Many GPS watches dwarf my tiny wrists or bruise my wrist after a long run, the Suunto doesn't do that and is comfortable for every day use.

6. Hypoxico Sleep System- altitude training system
The power to sleep high and train low. Having now slept in this tent for 7 months, I can clearly see the training benefit of this. It really works. We initially got it because Nathan needed to adapt to altitude for Hardrock but we have continued to use it since we have seen and felt the benefits to our overall fitness. My resting heart rate is lower, my oxygen capacity has increased, my body fat is lower and I am sure my V02 max has increased as well. Often times we will be running along quite fast and are able to hold a casual conversation and not feel winded at all. This purchase was a huge boon for our supplemental training.

7. Salomon Speedcross 3
I love the Speedcross. They are my favorite shoe. I love how gnarly the grip looks, yet how many surfaces it responds to is amazing (including a treadmill). It has a very smooth ride and can go distances up to 100k (as far as I have tested!). It is the lightest shoe Salomon makes (I believe) and comes in many snazzy colors, which is important of course in such an arbitrary list as this.

8.  Rudy Project Sport Mask Performance
Weighing in at just .88  ounces these sunglasses are an absolute dream while running. The adjustable nose piece keeps them in place while running and they provide superior eye protection from the sun. I put on these sunglasses and just feel fast.

I feel better, don't you?

Weekend Long Runs Brought to you by FRS (a giveaway!)

End of the first loop, heading up to Rock Springs.
Photo by Jim (Endurables and Hydrapak)

After a great weekend last weekend in Sonoma with a big race, great friends, amazing food and wine tastings post-race, you'd think I'd be able to bask in the post-race revelry for a bit longer. But there is no rest for the weary and the wicked. I took Sunday and Monday off, had some good runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and then took Friday off as I was having some tightness issues in my right leg. I spent most of Friday on the foam roller and using my Trigger Point ball. 

By Saturday I was feeling much better and we headed out to meet our Endurables Running Club friends for some time on Mt. Tam. We went nice and light for the first 12 miles, staying with a big crew, then continued on for another 9 around the North side for a good 21 mile day.

Sunday we set out from Muir Beach with the intention of running "not so light" and hopefully also getting "not so wet". I wore my Salomon Fast II Jacket, what I fondly refer to as my "rain preventer". It did its job preventing rain until we reached Rock Springs for the third time in two days. It was very windy and cold at the top and we hustled to a more covered trail. About 10 miles in, we stopped and had a gel each and were on our way. I had only brought one gel, mostly on accident (I thought I had more in my bag but didn't) because I usually don't need more than 1 gel on a 20 mile run. I had stashed an FRS gel in my handheld, just in case. Which turned out to be utterly helpful. 

After reaching West Point Inn we started heading down and down and down through Muir Woods. I started to feel like I was heading for a serious bonk. It was weird since usually doesn't happen, especially not at such a short interval from taking a gel (about 5 miles later). I could tell I was going down into the land of tunnel vision as we hit the road for our final few miles back to Muir Beach. I didn't want to take another gel, it just didn't appeal and we were close enough to the end that I thought maybe I could gut it out. Then I remembered my little FRS chew. I unwrapped it and gobbled it up. With a minute or two, the bonk was busted and I was able to make it back to the car without it being a death march. It would have really sucked to have slogged through that last 2 miles on the road as it was pouring and really windy.

Maybe this all sounds like shameless promotion but my little FRS save yesterday reminded me that I have been sitting on top of an FRS goodie bag that I was going to give away to one lucky reader! I love FRS. It is not a highly caffeine, "fake energy" drink. It is loaded with B vitamins and antioxidants which help me to recover from my workouts and keep going strong during my workouts. Anyone who knows my "Fast Foodie" philosophy, knows I take very seriously the stuff I put into my body.

But make up your own mind, enter the contest and find out for yourself!

How to Enter:

Step 1: Follow me on Twitter: Fast Foodie Cooks
Step 2: Follow FRS on Twitter: FRS
Step 3: Tweet about this giveaway. Something like:  Enter the @FRSHE Healthy Energy Giveaway by @Fastfoodiecooks here: http://devoncrosbyhelms.com.
Step 4: Leave a comment on this post saying you did it.

1. Visit FRS website and check out their products, then post a comment with a flavor you'd like to try (and grab a free sample while you are there!)


2. Become a fan of FRS on Facebook, then comment back here with your facebook name and that you did it.

The winner will be picked at random when I have 100 comments on this post which is about 90 more than I usually get.