Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Did An Interview!....Or Two :)

I admit, I've been neglecting this blog lately.

I've been pretty wrapped up in my new book, 'Please, Don't Burn The Bacon: Healthy Paleo Recipes', and blogging over at PlantMeetsPaleo.com.





I was lucky to be a guest on The Bunny and Friends Show a few weeks back and talked about health, fitness and BACON! This was so much fun. Check it out!




My dear friend Caity McCartell invited me to talk on her podcast show about my thesis on trail and ultrarunning. Love Caity and our fun conversation about running, flow and what we love about our community of runners.


Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Things I Loved About The 2014 San Juan Camp & Run



                             

This is my awesome friend Michelle Evans. All of the photos in this post are taken by her (except the beer mile ones, I was the mastermind behind those). You can find more pictures on her Flickr by clicking here. Thanks Michelle!


First, let me preface this with the fact that I have yet to attend a Luis Escobar event that I did not drive home from with a gigantic smile on my face. Some people might not understand how impacting a weekend of camping and running can be. To them, I suggest signing up for one of these races at AllWeDoIsRun.com. I feel fortunate to be a part of this community. The friendships I have made because of running is nothing short of amazing.



It's Not a Race, It's a Celebration of Running.

 
                       
I dare you to find another race with a live Mariachi band, shotgun to wake you up in the morning, coyotes and cows (and bulls! Oh my!) roaming around in the distance, a beer mile, ball racing or delicious food all weekend. Not to mention, things like tattooing (Born To Run), whiskey at aid stations or an acceptance of all things weird and strange. It feels like "anything goes" is a reoccurring theme with these weekend running festivals. And I love it.

                                    

Seriously though. Feel like dressing up in your Halloween costume all weekend? You'll blend right in. Want to drink four beers while simultaneously trying to run a mile? Someone has already beaten you to it. Want to embarrass yourself by your lack of coordination playing traditional Tarahumara ball racing? We've got you covered.

                                                

If there was ever an athletic event that encouraged everyone to find their inner debauchery, it's trail and ultrarunning. 

                                


Being With Friends Is The Best Part.


                                     

Ok, let's be honest for a second here.

Nobody is coming to a Luis Escobar event in hopes of qualifying for Boston.
These races are not really even races. They are celebrations of running and life and friendship.

Many people have tried to describe the atmosphere of the trail and ultrarunning community as a whole. In my thesis I struggled to nail it down -- was it personality?  How were these runners so different from those who run a couple miles in the gym? What made us all want to run for miles on end out in the middle of nowhere? Why did we feel so similar? The energy of being surrounded by everyone at these running festivals made my soul feel alive. In the results of my study I found that ultrarunners were more extroverted than your average runner. More conscientious. But ...That really didn't really explain much. 

It didn't say anything about who trail and ultrarunners are. My thesis could not explain the innate feeling that you are exactly where you should be, at that exact moment in time when you are surrounded by everyone around you. It doesn't explain the personal challenges that seemingly almost every person there had experienced. It doesn't explain the warmth and compassion emanating from everyone. It doesn't explain the joy of making new friends who love the trails as much as you do. It was as if I was living an experience out of the pages of one of my books. 

There are things that science and research will never and can never truly pin down. 
I loved the fact that for three days, we all got to live and play like human beings were truly meant.

There is just something about staring up at the stars while you sit around a crackling bonfire. Feeling like you are a part of something much bigger than yourself. Surrounded by new friends and old friends. Telling stories. Laughing.

I live for these experiences.


                                       


It Can Renew Your Love Of Running (Again) 
I know I'm not the only one who sometimes feels burned out from running. I find myself tired of the same old paths and sometimes question why I push myself to run so much. Sometimes I forget about running, and I spend more time in the gym, going rock climbing or doing yoga.

Whenever I feel this way, and there is a race weekend coming up, I know that I will come home feeling inspired to run again. Part of the reason I sign up for races when I feel burned out is because I know it will force me to get outside, feel the wind against my face and revitalize my primal instinct to run.

This past weekend, I found myself alone on the trail and with time to reflect on life.
It had been a long time since I ran alone. I forgot how much I missed it. How much I needed it.

Getting into flow while running had been an elusive state of mind for me lately. My motivation to run alone had almost completely dissipated, and I found that I had only really been running with friends. When you're always surrounded by others during a run, you can experience something called group flow. Intrinsically-motivated flow while running alone is a completely different experience and state of mind. When you run alone, you are able to decompress, lose yourself in the trails, and truly (at least, in my opinion) become one with nature. Not to say that running in a group isn't fun and exciting. It's just important to find a balance between both worlds.

On the trail, alone to run as fast or slow as I wanted, I was able to find that zone I had been missing for so long. It was as if I saw flow itself in the distance. An old friend waiting for me to catch up with them. We ran together, feeling the joy of our feet against the dirt. The sun peaked out from behind the clouds and it wasn't my skin that felt the warmth, but my soul.

I remembered why I run.


When It Rains, It Doesn't Pour


The weather was a little indecisive over the weekend.

Typically, camping out for three days while it rains doesn't really sound like an enjoyable experience.

Luckily for us, a little bit of rain couldn't take away from our excitement.

One minute it would be sprinkling and the next it appeared as if it would clear up. I was taking my puffy jacket on and off constantly. But it didn't really matter. Half-way through watching the ball racing, I turned to my friend Caity McCartell. 

"You know, it's funny" I said, looking up at the ominous clouds. "It looks like it's about to rain and but it feels like it's sunny out."

She smiled. She knew exactly what I meant. 

Nancy Kaplan was all smiles despite getting rained on!

 There is something about being surrounded by a bunch of your running friends that makes you forget about your lack of training. All of the worries you may are left at the gates of the ranch and inside, you are able to run free. 

Jerry's Whiskey Jello Shots

                                             

On Saturday night Jerry handed me an entire bag full of Fireball Whiskey Jello shots.I was giddy when I went through Michelle's photos and saw she got a picture of Jerry in the act. I don't know how many bags of those suckers he made, but there seemed to be an endless supply.  Let's just say that it may or may not have contributed to me doing the conga and attempting some badly-planned headstands later on in the night. Does someone have a picture of that conga? It was awesome.


The Whiskey Aid Station 
I was about halfway through my run when a small aid station appeared from around the corner. Four guys, some sodas, and a bottle of fireball whiskey. 

As I walked up to them, I pointed at the bottle.

"Oh God," I said, imagining the feeling of the whiskey burning in my stomach for the rest of the run. Or would I feel a nice buzz that would carry me across the hills, gazelle-like and happy?

I couldn't decide. Believe it or not, I had never tried to run and drink at the same time. 

One of the guys casually mentioned that there was a bull on the trail ahead and it may or may not be dangerous. 

As I pondered the plausibility of my imminent death, he took the top off the bottle of whiskey for me.

"Here, let me make it easier for you," he said with a big smile.

I didn't know whether to ask for his hand in marriage or be concerned about dying from the bull chasing me down. Either way, I took two shots and left before the desire to hang out with them all afternoon became too strong.

It's not about the running...right? :)

The Ball Racing


I suck at ball racing.

I repeat: I suck at ball racing.

Regardless, I still found myself preparing for another humiliating experience of trying to juggle a tiny, HARD, wooden ball with my two left feet.

In the photo above, Luis is saying to me:


Who...me?!

"I just don't want to lose my ball this time!" I laughed.

I kid you not, I lost my ball under a van again.

I suck at ball racing, but I love it.



Here I am about to kick the ball. You're not suppose to kick the ball. But I was doing it anyway. Technically, you're suppose to roll the ball on top of your foot and "flick" it up. 

                                                

                                 


The Beer Mile
Right before the beer mile started, Luis looked me dead in the eye and said:

"I can't believe you're not running."

I didn't really have a reason as to why I didn't want to. In fact, I sort of intended on running it. But the idea of drinking four beers and running a mile seemed a little...impossible?

In the moment, I also I justified my reasoning: Someone had to document the experience (never mind the dozens of people around who were taking photos). I had to be the one to take them. That was my bad excuse and I'm sticking to it. Born To Run is coming up in May, and I will pass over the photo-taking responsibilities and give it a go. 



Pat Sweeney has a look of satisfaction!







These three handmade clay necklaces mean more to me than any other pieces of jewelry I have. I received each one as a finishers medal (10K, 20 Miles, 50K) in a Luis Escobar race. They represent my growth as a runner and that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. We forget that we are all born with a natural capability to move our feet across the earth. Sometimes it's a few feet and sometimes it's over a hundred miles. No matter where you're at in life, never forget how important it is to give yourself time to be outside and simply appreciate life. 

All in all it was an incredible weekend. I can't say it enough.

I love these people, and I love trail running.

Looking forward to running with you all again in May.




If this all sounds like something you want to experience, check out AllWeDoIsRun.com for more information about future races! 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year, New Goals. New Directions



It's been an incredible year. An amazing year. 

The best part? Is I looked back at my post from 2013's Goals and guess what....I accomplished them all.

Whaaat?!

I graduated with my Master's.

I finished my thesis.

I completed my first Ultra without injury and with a smile on my face.

I focused on eating whole foods and exercised more often.

I traveled.

I ran far. I lifted heavy. And I found more ways to stand on my head. Score!

Honestly...I did so much more than I ever anticipated.

So, with that, here are my goals for 2014:



Did you catch that part about me writing my first book?! Ahh!!


More coming soon :)



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Caveman Cookies: Nom Nom Nom






It’s the first of September and we have an exciting month in store for you all! We have recipes, tips for healthy eating, and other product reviews in the works, so stay tuned!

We’d like to start off with a review of our favorite new discovery—

Caveman Cookies.

Gluten free, 100% all-natural, chewy and DELICIOUS.



“Just like your great, great, great, great, great…grandmother used to make!”

Caveman Cookies have a lot going for them. They are Paleo-approved. They are also dairy-free, are good sources of protein, and have no refined sugars or preservatives. They are Kosher-certified, only 65-75 calories per cookie, and are made of ingredients which are based off our ancestral diet of nuts and berries!





They come in five delicious varieties:

Original Caveman Cookie: honey, almond meal, walnuts, raisins, ginger, nutmeg & cinnamon.

Tropical Caveman Cookie: almond meal, honey, coconut, macadamia nuts and ginger.

Alpine Caveman Cookie: honey, hazelnut meal, almond meal and toasted carob.

Rainforest Caveman Cookie: honey, almonds, brazil nut meal, dried cherries (cherries, sunflower oil), nutmeg, cayenne pepper.

New World Caveman Cookie: maple syrup, honey, almond meal, dried cranberries (cranberries, apple juice concentrate, sunflower oil), pumpkin seeds, spices



The Caveman Bakery is a small New York based company with a big dream. They are dedicated to producing foods which are wholesome, and are made with “ingredients that early humans had access to (e.g., nuts, honey and berries).” Caveman Cookies are currently sold at their Caveman bakery, in local stores throughout the country and on their website, CavemanBakery.com


So, if you want a tasty treat that you can really feel good about - CAVEMAN COOKIES are the way to go. 




Monday, September 2, 2013

Quest Nutrition Review & Giveaway

1. The Review




Protein. 

We all need it.

While everyone seems to understand its importance, many people are unsure as to how much protein they need on a daily basis. Regardless of if you are a vegetarian, vegan, following a paleo diet or simply trying to eat healthy, protein should be a necessary component of almost every meal you eat.

Alexis and I both struggle to fuel our muscles with enough protein while constantly being on the go. We went on a quest… and discovered the Holy Grail of protein bars.

Quest Bars.

If you’ve never heard of Quest Nutrition and all of the incredible products they offer, then you are in for a treat (literally).

Let me pose a question: Can you think of a time you ate a protein bar and actually enjoyed it? If so, how many flavors did you have to choose from? Two? Three? 

Quest Bar has 14 unique flavors, and I kid you not, ALL of them are good. In fact, I struggled the past month trying to decide which one I liked the best. It's like trying to decide between ice cream or pie. Both are amazing. 



Not only are Quest Bars low-calorie, but they also pack around 20 grams of protein. They are low-carb and high in fiber content. For some, one Quest bar can provide 30% of the daily requirements for protein intake.

Flavors of Quest Bars

Natural Line
Banana Nut Muffin
Chocolate Peanut Butter
Cinnamon Roll
Strawberry Cheesecake
Coconut Cashew
Lemon Cream Pie

Original Line
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Apple Pie
Mixed Berry Bliss
Peanut Butter Supreme
Vanilla Almond Crunch
Chocolate Brownie
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
White Chocolate Raspberry


Most of the ingredients in Quest Bars are pretty straightforward. There are some which at first glance may seem unfamiliar. Let us break some of those ingredients down for you:

All Quest Bar flavors are made with whey protein isolate (a high quality protein that assists in increasing muscle mass, aids the body with fat loss, and enhances the body’s immune functions), milk protein isolate (a complete protein that slows digestion so it fuels you for longer), IMO fiber –or Isomalto-oligosaccharide fiber (almost all the carbohydrates in Quest Bars comes from this 100% natural fiber; fiber keeps your stomach satisfied for longer, improves digestive health, and prevents certain diseases), nuts and/or nut butter (almond, cashew, or peanut), sea salt and other natural flavors, Lo Han Gua (a natural sweetener used in China for thousands of years), stevia* (sweetener taken from the leaves of this plant from the chrysanthemum family), Erythritol* (a sugar alcohol that won’t upset your stomach and has only .2 calories per gram), and finally (only found in the “Original Line” of bars) sucralose (best artificial sweetener out there).

It gets better.

You can bake with them.

We're serious. In fact, there’s a growing trend of people creating different recipes with the bars. Most of them are pretty simple and take just a few minutes to make! For example, you can make poptarts (we’ll give you an example of this recipe at the end of the post), brownies, cinnamon rolls, and many more!

Because we love getting creative with our cooking, we decided to to try a few different recipes using our bars. One of our favorite recipe attempts was the Quest Poptarts. Here is what we did…

2. The Recipe

Quest Peanut Butter & Jelly Poptarts


Ingredients:

For the top and bottom of the pop-tarts: 2 Quest Bars 

For the topping: 2 tablespoons protein of your choice 1 tablespoon nut butter of your choice

For the filling: 2 tablespoons of your favorite jelly or jam


Directions:

Turn the oven on, set to broil.

Step 1: Start off with a  two room-temperature Quest bars. You can also choose to pop them in the microwave for ten seconds to make them easier to roll. Either way works fine. We chose the Vanilla Almond Crunch as our base. You can get creative with this part, and pick any flavor for this recipe.

Step 2: Roll them out.


Step 3: Cut them in half. These will be each side for your two pop-tarts.

Step 4: Prep your filling. We used a Raw Maple Almond Butter for one of our Pop Tarts. We used Raspberry Jam for the other.

Step 5: Put the filling of your choice in the middle of two of your pop-tart pieces. I used Raspberry Jam in this example.

Step 6: I used my thumb to create a little "indent" on the "top" piece of the pop tart. I then placed it on top of the piece with the jelly, and used a fork to press down along the edges. 

Step 7: Pop them in the oven. They should be ready anywhere from 2-4 minutes. Start checking on them around 2 minutes to make sure they aren't burning.


Step 8: Toss on some sprinkles and you're ready!


3. Quest Pastabilities & 
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


Not only does Quest Nutrition make protein bars, but they also make two other amazing products: Quest Pastabilities and Quest Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cravings.


Quest Pastabilities is a healthy alternative to your standard noodle. Quest Pasta has only three ingredients: purified water, glucomman (a hunger-reducing soluble fiber derived from a root used in Japan and other Asian countries) and calcium hydroxide (also called milk of lime or limewater - a compound used in lots of different food products).


Prep takes just a few minutes. You start off by rinsing and straining it. Then you can cook it by microwaving or boiling it for a couple minutes. You can even toss it into a pan with your favorite vegetables for a delicious stir-fry.
  


And last...but not least, are the amazing Quest PB & Chocolate Cravings Cups.

These treats taste delicious and don’t leave you with the same “buyer’s remorse” like other chocolates do. They have 20 grams of protein (just like the Quest Bars) and only have one gram of sugar per serving (which is TWO of the cups). These are not your average peanut butter cups, my friends.

4. Giveaway Info

Obviously, we are big fans of Quest Nutrition's products and highly recommend you give them a try.

Which is why we are honored to say that our friends at Quest Nutrition have offered to provide a sample pack of Quest Bars to the winners of the health and fitness challenge at Make It Ultra


Our fitness challenge this month is “Water, Wall-squats, and Yoga."  The Quest Bars will be given to the male and female who can sustain the longest wall-squat (wall-sit) time. For details, go to our Facebook page.

A HUGE thank you to Quest Nutrition for not only creating awesome (and tasty) products, but for providing the prizes to our Fitness Challenge.