Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gramma's Biscochitos

My "gramma" used to make these cookies every Christmas. My grandparents lived in an old adobe house in Española, New Mexico - which is near Santa Fe. They lived on about an acre, with an old apple orchard, big cherry trees, and lots of snow in the winter. The smell reminds me of blinking red chili lights in the kitchen windows and being home. These cookies are great for snacking on or dipping in hot chocolate or coffee :)

[I've substituted an egg mixture to make these vegan. Gramma liked animals and would understand!]


6 cups flour (all-purpose)
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 anise extract
2 cups shortening (Crisco)
2 egg-replacement = 4 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  • Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together
  • Mix the sugar and lard thoroughly
  • Add "eggs" and anise, mix
  • Add brandy, mix
  • Add dry ingredients gradually, mix
  • Add enough water to hold dough together (you might want to to dump the dough on the counter and see if it holds together in a pile)
  • Roll dough out with a rolling pin - about 1/4" thick
  • Cut cookies out (the fleur de lis is traditional, but the circle, star, diamond are what my family uses)
  • Dip tops of cookies in cinnamon mixture
  • Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes - or until cookies are a light brown.

Feliz navidad!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gifts for Runners

The that time of the year... when I spend hours agonizing over what gifts to give the people in my life. If only they were all runners - I would know exactly the thoughtful, useful gift to give! And then I realize, as non-runners, they are equally clueless about what I'd like.

Well, fret no more. Here is a list of gifts sure to please any runner in your life.

Happy Holidays!



Feel awkward giving your runner lubricant this holiday season? Don't. It's actually super useful.

Victory Bag

Stephen is always "borrowing" my Victory drop bag. We use it at every race - and even on a lot of long training runs (when I stash supplies in my truck). Help your runner get organized and be prepared with one of these babies.

Picky Club

It's like a wine club, but for food. GENIUS. Treat your runner to a package of delicious Picky Bars each month - and fuel them as they train for their next endeavor!



UltraSignUp Gift Certificate

Seriously, why isn't this a thing?

So it isn't a thing. Yet. But just give your runner a Visa gift card labeled "RACE ENTRIES" and a bottle of wine. Both will be gone before New Years.
Thank me later.

Quick Strength for Runners

This book is fantastic. ALL runners need to do more strength training. It breaks down weekly workouts and has great photos so you can see how to do basic and advanced forms for each exercise. Your runner will love/hate you for it, and you'll look like you did your homework.

Trail Art

I can't resist a little self-promotion! Making gifts for runners is what got me started with trail art. Bring the trails back home with a print or canvas that your runner can hang at home or work.

UltraRunning Magazine

Your runner buys these one-at-a-time at the running shop anyway. If he doesn't, he wants to. Make his life easier by gifting a subscription! Each issue is filled with race-recaps, helpful articles, and great photos. It's really like 12 gifts, for the price of one. 


Selfie Stick

How else can you capture a glamour shot on a solo-run?! Give the gorgeous runner in your life a selfie-stick or tripod so they can document and capture every moment of those peaceful long runs.

Turns you into:

Ay papí!


Sorry, Mr. Shane (of Shane Co. commercial fame), she doesn't want jewelry or diamonds this year. SHE WANTS A SUUNTO! Can a diamond ring track your miles, heartrate, and elevation gain? Get her something that represents who she is - sexy, smart, and strong. Bam.

SFRC Patagonia R1 Jacket

If you're looking to impress, drop some dough on something your runner won't get herself. I love gear I can wear while running AND still look good afterwards. SFRC has a bunch of new winter product in, and the jackets are dope.


Runners - if you don't get any of these under the tree...

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rio Race Report

By: Maggie

A reflection on my first attempt at 100 miles

My Suunto only caught the first 53 miles.

In my excitement leading up to race day, I decided to make a map of the new course. The race director adopted it as the official course map - woo hoo!

I hadn't been so nervous before a race since my first half marathon - almost 10 years ago! I was happy with my training. I'd loved the higher mileage weeks - I never thought I'd break 40, let alone 80 miles in a week. I'd made a pacing plan. I'd run two 50k races, about 6 and 3 weeks out from Rio. I'd cooked potatoes and peas and packed them into baggies to eat on the run. The night before, I obsessively checked everything. I think next time I'd have a whole beer instead of just a few sips of wine - haha! But I hit the hay early the night before the race, and I couldn't wait to run.

A quick photo with Jack at the start.

Terrain: Basically flat, mostly paved. The bluffs were a short, steep hike up, followed by nice dirt singletrack. After the gradual downhill on the way out, I was happy for the gradual uphill on the way back to Beal's. 

The first 20 miles flew by. I toed the line alone and was relieved when I met up with Mel (my cyber-training buddy) just a couple miles in. The stars were stunning - Orion was above us as the sun rose on our left. I had never run on the American River trail before, but it was fantastic. The weather was perfect - nice and cool. My hips were a little tight and I started to get a hotspot on my right toes, but I'd run through worse and figured I'd ignore it for now (haha).

Mel and I had planned to take it easy. Even at our "slow" pace, Beal's Point arrived before I knew it. I was right on pace - just a couple minutes ahead of my goal time. I was stoked to see Jenni and Jesse J. - all decked out in costume! I was so jazzed. I grabbed some ziplocks of potatoes, applied sunscreen (well, Stephen sprayed it on me), shed a couple layers of clothes, and headed out towards the "Meatgrinder."

Leaving Rattlesnake feeling like a boss
Terrain: Rolling, mostly runnable, with short kickers. A few sections were annoying - requiring big slow steps up or down. 

Climbing out of Beal's, I bumped into Leigh-Ann and her friend, Janeth - who ended up being a wealth of 100-miler info! Mel and I hung together through the Meatgrinder, which was really beautiful, despite the depressingly empty lakebed. My motto was EAT, EAT, EAT. And I did! I felt awesome. My hips had warmed up - my "hot" toes had reached a consistent pressure. I could tell I had blisters but as long as they stayed at that pressure, I could deal with it. It was my dang socks - I'd worn old favorites with worn-out cushioning. I should've put on the brand new ones I had sitting in my bag!

Nonetheless, the weather was perfect, and the company on the trail was unbeatable. I felt AMAZING. The miles were melting away, my stomach felt great. I was super hydrated and happy that I'd stuck with my Salomon pack - I was chugging almost a full pack every 20 miles. Coming into Rattlesnake I was greeted by Dawn H. - an ER doc and ultra bad-ass - and Jenni was already cheering enthusiastically here, too! I haven't run a race with so many friendly, cheering faces. It was kind of overwhelming - so I got down to business filling my Salmon pack, grabbing some potatoes and Gu, and heading back out.

Terrain: Loved this - really runnable rollers along the hillside, with the American River down to the right (south). A couple of long climbs - not brutally steep (no Cardiac trail) - on the way up to the Auburn Overlook. Nice downhill to No Hands Bridge, followed by a 3-mile climb up to Cool, which I mostly pout-walked.

I think Erica was pointing to the Porta-Potty
After Rattlesnack, I was ready to do work. I figured it would be the hottest, hardest section of trail. I wanted to put my head down and do work. I'd split from Mel a little earlier, so now running alone, I decided to listen to some Doo-Wop (my favorite running music). The trails were all new to me - and I loved them! The rolling terrain kept me engaged and paying attention. The sun was mottled through the trees, and the air was cool. Again, I was surprised at how great I felt, but I stayed on pace and KEPT EATING. I was eating a bag of potatoes every hour and a Gu every 45 minutes.

I saw Mel again at the Overlook. Heading into that aid station was a big hike- and I shared it with super badass, Erica T. She'd run Rio a couple years ago and crushed it. She was on track to do it again! After trudging up the hill and making it to aid, I started to make little mistakes. I was so focused on hitting the porta-potty, I didn't eat enough. I had eaten all of my homemade potatoes, but I didn't grab enough food to get me to Cool feeling good. I was also wearing a sweaty t-shirt and sports bra, and the air was getting noticeably cooler. I was getting cold. I noticed Erica had her headlamp - and most people had an extra shirt. I had neither. My noob was showing.

Cruising across No Hands on the way to Cool
Feeling kinda annoyed at myself, I headed down from the Overlook on familiar trails and still feeling great. My legs felt fresh. My tummy wanted real food, but I was downing Gus easily. Then a switch flicked - I got bummed, I got cold, and I got hungry. I walked intermittently down to No Hands, feeling angry that I hadn't held onto my longsleeve. Feeling annoyed that I didn't grab an extra bag of potatoes. It was awesome seeing my crew at No Hands. But I was so grumpy that I marched through the aid station without eating. Taking a few minutes to calm down and eat something would've helped a lot - oops!

COOL LOOPS (68 miles)
Terrain: Rolling singletrack. A climb up the road on the first (counterclockwise) loop. Run down the road into Cool to finish second loop.

So I made it to Cool (53ish miles), mostly "pout-walking." It was awesome watching the speedy folks (like Erika L. and Luke G. whiz past me - and it cheered me up!) Cool was fantastic. I was so happy to be there, I was happy to see my full crew (Stephen, Jack, and Ken), and I was REALLY happy to change my shirt and put on a couple more layers. The sun had set - beautifully - over the Cool meadows as I was running in, so it was getting really chilly. I was so freaking pumped to be in Cool and to have Stephen with me, I just wanted to get running and change my mood. After a slight detour (we started the first loop in the wrong direction) - Stephen and I climbed the short hill on road and were running on the rollers in the dark.

It. was. AWESOME. Everyone was chatting and jumping on and off the trail for one another - It was like running camp for adults. I was a little cold, but really happy. The stars were brilliant. Stephen was chatting away - and I was really, really happy. It was perfect. 

My mood had improved, but I noticed my hips were getting tight, and I was feeling a little tired. I planned on eating a lot of hot soup after the first loop - but there were no vegetarian options. I had a lot of learning moments - so next time I will have my crew bring my own soup and camp stove - or I will check dietary issues with the race director ahead of time.

The second Cool loop felt longer - but I was determined to knock it out, and we were having fun. I ate too many Chomps and puked about halfway through. After puking I felt FANTASTIC, and Stephen and I ended up crushing it and finishing the second go-around faster than our first. 

UN-COOL (76 miles)
Terrain: Back downhill 3 miles to No Hands. Four mile climb from No Hands up to the Overlook.

Jamming out of Cool, hopped up on No-Doze
After the Cool loops, I was really freezing. Laura and Kynan were angels at the aid station. And thankfully Jack - my running guru/mentor/inspiration - knew what was he was doing and brought extra long sleeve shirts. Wrapped in a blanket, I sipped on hot water, took some Advil for my legs, which were feeling pretty stiff, and mentally gave myself 10 minutes to sit (the first time I'd sat). It revamped my mood, and I was pumped to get moving again. Although, if I had it to do over, I would've switched to pants and maybe switched my socks, which were pretty grimy. I think I should have kept my legs warmer. 

I took no-doze before leaving Cool, and my ass was on fire heading down to No Hands. I was pumped. Stephen and I met the nicest guy from Cupertino who ran with us to the aid station. We really jammed downhill, and my achilles had started to ache and twinge with pain. We made it to the bridge, ate some snacks, and started heading up. Leaving No Hands, I felt like I might be moving slow the rest of the night - but at least I'd be moving.

Yeah, so that dream got crushed pretty quick. After about a mile of hiking, the backs of my heels/ankles were really feeling stiff and sore. Maybe the Advil was wearing off - I don't know. I stuffed a handwarmer down my sock to try and warm it up. Spoiler alert: it didn't work. Then it seemed like everything fell apart - my blisters were killing me. I had been compensating for my Achilles pain and formed a blister on the pad of my left foot. At Overlook, I sat down and took my shoes off. My achilles were swollen. I had blisters where I thought I did.

I called it quits.

I'm still stuck in my head - could I have kept going? Did it really hurt that bad? Maybe I'm conservative, but I don't want to risk long-term injury. I'd like to finish my races feeling like I ran well - and smart. And maybe that's unrealistic - but I'd like to give it another shot before pushing through serious pain. 


  • Run more (rather than walk/hike) in training
  • More big weeks consistently (70+ x 3 weeks in a row)
  • Pack more clothing options - warm tights, socks, shirts
  • Pack my own soup - and ideally camp stove. Or check food with RD.
  • Pack handwarmers
During race
  • Take time to re-group if needed. Don't rush. 
  • Change socks right away if a hot-spot happens
  • Eat at aid stations
  • Carry a long-sleeve
  • Keep the potatoes! It worked great

So I walked a mile about 2 weeks after the race, which was still really painful in running shoes. I'd wanted to go longer but started limping after half a mile, so I turned around to limp home. I'm walking normally in shoes that don't put as much pressure on my achilles. I'm doing eccentric heel drops, and Stephen set up a bike trainer - I started that this week, and am feeling tons better.

I'll take it one day at a time. On the bright side, I have more time for art and margaritas!

Life's too mysterious - Don't take it serious!

Huge thank you to Stephen for being patient while I figured out how to train - for making dinners while I was at class late and running big weeks - and for being both crew and pacer.

Thanks to Jack for being willing to pace me on my first 100 and being out on the course so much. I'm sorry I didn't make it to Rattlesnake! I wish we could've shared some miles out there.

Thanks to Ken for driving up and crewing, even though we didn't get to hang out! It was awesome seeing you.

And, of course, a big thanks to all of the volunteers (seriously, Kynan and Laura - I wanted to hug-tackle you at Cool) - it was a fantastic event, and I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A week in the (fridge) life

I've been wanting to lay out a typical weekly menu on the blog lately. I love seeing what other people cook and eat, especially runners! I am always curious how athletes get their nutrients and what whole foods they eat. So if others are equally curious, here's some info on what's been working for us! Also, a lot of people assume "organic" and vegetarian diets must be expensive and bland. In fact, my meals, my health, and my wallet have all benefitted from going veggie.

Breakfasts are always coffee and toast (or waffles) with peanut butter and bananas, plus some other fruit (kiwi or pear). Lunches are leftovers from the night before, plus an apple, a snack (right now it's roasted pumpkin seeds - but is also frequently Puffins or Wheat Thins). On long days, I grab a Picky Bar, too.

Dinners are the main event! So here is a peek into our kitchen...

Monday: Chickpea Sandwiches
(Adapted from Thug Kitchen)

The easiest dinner ever - just takes a can of chickpeas, a dallop of Vegenaise, celery, and onion. Mash the chickpeas in a bowl before adding the other ingredients. I season with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. We add sandwich fixins - like pickles, lettuce, and avocado - and stack it all on sourdough bread. Noms.

Tuesday: Charlie Hong Kong Bowls
(Inspired by CHK in Santa Cruz)
An early beta version with tempe and sans bok choy.
Bok choy is a super underrated ingredient - it's always really cheap, but it's delicious and adds a lot of nutritional value. Check out its ranking on "worlds healthiest foods":
  • Boy choy "provides good, very good, or excellent amounts of 21 nutrients. Unlike some other members of the cabbage family, these ranked nutrients include omega-3s, as well as the antioxidant mineral zinc."
  • AND "Recent studies have identified over 70 antioxidant phenolic substances in bok choy. These phenolic antioxidants included numerous hydroxycinnamic acids, which have often been referred to as "chain-breaking" antioxidants due to their method of scavenging free radicals. In this context, bok choy has also been included in some current and ongoing large-scale human studies about dietary antioxidants and cancer prevention."
  • And if you still aren't running out to buy bok choy right now, you should know "bok choy ranks as our 11th richest food in vitamin A. Significant amounts of other carotenoids—for example, lutein—are also provided by bok choy."
The main players in the bowl are soba noodles, the (badass) bok choy, and dry-fried tofu. The supporting actors are sautéed garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Add raw shredded carrots and chopped green onion at the end. It's topped of with a spicy peanut butter sauce (and lots of hoisin and sriracha).

Wednesday: Mac'n'Cheez Casserole

This is such a clutch dinner dish. Stephen throws everything together in a deep pyrex and takes normal mac'n'cheez to a whole new level. He uses regular pasta noodles (whatever kind you like), adds broccoli florets, and pours a homemade, creamy "cheezy" sauce over it all. He mixes in Daiya, sprinkles more Daiya and Panko crumbs on top, and then bakes for about 20 minutes.

Detailed recipe coming soon!

Thursday: Roasted Vegetable Gnocchi

Trader Joe's has bomb gnocchi in the dry pasta aisle. It's a really inexpensive way to have dinners stocked up in the pantry. We roast asparagus in the oven - tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper. In a deep pan on the stovetop, toss halved cherry tomatoes and quartered artichoke hearts (available canned in water at TJ's too) with olive oil and a bit of salt. They sear nicely, and at the end, we add a toss the vegetables and cooked gnocchi with a handful of fresh spinach, which wilts nicely. If you haven't cooked gnocchi before, just be aware that it cooks really quickly - and if you overcook it, it will just turn to mush. When they float, they're done.

Friday: Veggie Spring Rolls

Warning: requires some assembly :)

The ingredients are simple - dry-fried tofu, sautéed mushrooms and onion, sliced cucumbers, chopped avocado, and greens. We also boil mung bean noodles, and then wrap everything in Banh Trang wrappers. I like to make a wasabi-soy sauce dipping sauce. Stephen goes with sriracha and hoisin on his. If you wanna get fancy, add mint and sprouts!

Minimalist baker has a great spring roll recipe (although a little fancier than ours).

Saturday: BBQ Pineapple Pizza

(Full recipe on our earlier blog post)
Premade pizza dough makes this dinner really easy. Plus we use canned pineapple and canned artichoke hearts - which are so easy to keep in the pantry. I like stocking up and then never worrying about having necessary ingredients.

Pairs nicely with Menage a Trois table wine!

Sunday: Beyond Meat Chicken Pot Pie

(Full recipe on our earlier blog post)
My favorite dinner of the week is pot pie night! It comes together surprisingly quickly and makes leftovers for a day or two!

Monday, September 14, 2015

2015 Western States 100

By: Stephen

My Quick Stats
Time:    18:50:26
Place:   18th Overall / 5th in 20-29 age group
     Duncan Canyon - 3:51:00
     Robinson - 5:08:00
     Michigan Bluff - 9:55:00
     Foresthill - 11:13:00
     Green Gate - 14:46:00
Strava data HERE

Overall Stats for 2015
371 Starters
254 Finishers (68.5%)
96 Sub-24 Finishers

It's been a few months since the race, and while I hadn't intended for this piece to take so long, it's been helpful to reflect on that day and really let everything sink in. Too often after a run like this, I'm eager to check Ultrasignup for the next race without ever taking the time to decompress from what is, usually, a very tiring and hard-earned effort. I'm not exactly sure where this recap will go, or really what to include for that matter, but hopefully there'll be something useful, and maybe even interesting.

1) Eat! Early and often.
2) Run my own race.
3) Be adaptable.
4) Have fun!

In the simplest sense, these were my only goals going into Western States. I knew that if I could stick to them then I would have a great race. Easy, right?

The High Country

I was probably more worried about this first 30 miles than I was of the the whole race in its entirety. I had spent a few scattered days on various parts of the course, but the high country would be completely new to me. The climb up the escarpment would be challenging, but so long as I ran my race, I knew I'd be ok. Mags and Ken, my incomparable crew for the day, dropped me off at Squaw around 4:15am, and promptly left to make it to the first crew access point at Duncan Canyon (mile 24). I milled about the start, nervously looking for familiar faces. Eventually, a little group formed, including Brett, Denooch, Alex, Dbo, Magda, and myself, and we lined up more-or-less together.

 The shotgun blasted, and we were off. Before long, a group of about 15-20 guys separated from the pack and worked their way methodically up the winding fire road; this would be my first test of patience. I was working, but not breathing particularly hard. I felt comfortable and hiked when necessary, which ended up being probably 30-40% of the climb. After cresting the top and receiving some high-fives from Eric (HOKA rep), Chris (my soon-to-be pacer/crew), and Mel, I began the breathtaking descent. I caught up to Brett, who unfortunately re-rolled his ankle, and we ran together through Red Star, leap frogging pretty much until Duncan Canyon. "This is your day. You deserve to be here," he told me; words that would motivate me later in the day when my energy was low and things looked bleak. The first 50k was relatively uneventful, which meant I was doing everything right. I ran conservatively, making sure to enjoy the incredible vistas along the ridge. A few miles before Duncan, I found myself in a small group made up of Denooch, Mike Wardian, Skip Crockett, Ryan Kaiser, and Michele Yates.

Maggie and Ken had everything laid out perfectly for me at Duncan, allowing me to be in and out in a flash; although maybe too quickly since I accidentally dropped my sunglasses and took off without them! I had to remind myself to mentally slow down, and focus on the present. Today would be a process, and the only thing that mattered was the here and now. Mike, Denooch, and I took off down the descent to the creek crossing, before the long climb to Robinson Flat.

Brett had told me multiple times to hike/run this section and not to worry if people passed me. Chris and Mike ran strong and pulled away early on, but I continued my hike/run routine and stayed relaxed. I eventually was passed by Magda, Stephanie Howe, and a few other runners, but I trusted Brett's advice and comfortably made my way to the top. For those who haven't been there, Robinson is a complete party, and definitely my favorite aid station on the course. The trail is so crammed with people that I could barely find the turn back to the course, but the energy and volunteers are top-notch. I tried not to linger too long, and before long, found myself running with Stephanie.

We clicked off miles together on the descent our of Robinson, catching Joe Grant in the process. By the time we got to the flatter/rolling sections before Miller's Defeat, she had tip-toed out of sight, and my energy levels were waning. The gradual uphills felt more difficult than necessary at 35 miles in, so I backed off and slammed a couple of gels. "Eat! Early and often." This was my mantra. I knew this section well from my 50 mile training run with DBo in early June, which was a big confidence boost. Here's the Strava data for those interested.

The Canyons

The remaining miles between Robinson and Devil's Thumb were, thankfully, uneventful. My strategy of pacing from early seemed to be working. I topped off my water bottles from a natural spring at the bottom of the Thumb like DBo had shown me, and began the long hike to the top. In training, I had run sections of this, but come race day I couldn't jog more than a few feet. Every step caused my calves and groin to cramp; a few salt pills later, and I continued the slog. Eventually, I made it to the aid station, but not before being passed by Brendan Davies. Luckily, I had caught the talented young gun, Ford Smith, less than a quarter mile from the Thumb, so I didn't beat myself up too badly.

This next section, the canyons, was not only my favorite, but also the most familiar part of the course for me. I had done a number of out-and-backs from Foresthill to Deadwood and felt confident that I could hold steady through here and possibly make up some ground. I let gravity take me down the long, fast descent to El Dorado Creek, catching Justin Houck along the way. This raised my spirits, and I opened my stride thinking another runner might be just ahead. As it turns out, I don't think I saw anyone else until DBo at the top of the Michigan Bluff climb. I had been moving well, but it was a shock to see him. For a second, I actually considered the possibility that he had already finished the race and had come back to the climb to cheer everyone else on. I think the heat was getting to me. He offered some words of encouragement -- "Stay up on your toes. I'm proud of you bud." -- and I offered some water, as we both continued the scorching climb to the next aid.

I lingered at Michigan Bluff longer than originally planned, but I needed the calories badly. I slammed 3 or 4 cups of Coke, a few gels, and some salt pills of which, thankfully, Mario and Larissa had extra. I jogged out of the aid station feeling a little defeated, but motivated to see my friends and family at Foresthill. The rollers through Volcano Canyon were rough, and the familiar cramps of Devil's Thumb were back and worse than before. I had probably miscalculated my calorie consumption through the early canyons and hadn't taken enough before leaving Michigan Bluff. Oops, my bad. Magda and I had been pushing the downhills together through Volcano, but after we crossed the creek at the bottom, she put in a huge surge and pulled away on the climb to Bath Road.

Looking back on this, it almost seems too obvious. I was cramping, my mood was low, and my energy non-existent. I needed calories and salt, but was too complacent, or maybe forgetful, to do anything about it. Luckily, my good friend and pacer, Chris Wehan, would change all of that.

Foresthill to the River

I jogged into the elementary school parking lot feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of spectators, but grateful that I'd finally made it to the 100k mark! My goal time of 10.25 hours was completely behind me. I think I reached the aid station about an hour slower than that, but who's counting? Maggie and Ken had expertly set up my little swath of a sanctuary, and I was immediately surrounded by 20 of my closest friends and family. I took a seat and chowed on watermelon, Svelte (a vegan drink similar to Boost), limeade, and gels before finally struggling back to my feet. I figured I'd sat for only 4 or 5 minutes but was informed it had been closer to 10; not exactly the expeditious transition I had planned on. I left the safety of my crew at what happened to be an unsustainable pace, and as soon as Chris and I made a left onto Cal Street, I immediately stopped and commenced the hands-on-knees heaving position. I figured I'd lose most of my recent meal, but my stomach settled, and we set off again, this time at a comfortable jog.

Unfortunately, this would the story for most of Cal Street. Jog a few miles, have GI issues, start walking, feel sorry for myself, curse into the wind, repeat. I had been looking forward to this section. The gentle rollers (excluding 6-minute hill) were supposed to be a warm welcome after the steep ups and downs of the previous 62 miles. This was the section where I'd relax, reel myself in, and not push the descents too hard like DBo had shown me. Instead, I was forced to walk while nervously glancing over my shoulder, waiting for the next runner to catch me. Well, it wasn't long before Skip Crockett blew by, along with another one or two runners. Chris reminded me that we still had a lot of running to do, and that worrying would get us no where. He was right. Patience. It had gotten me this far, and it would get me to the finish.

I learned a lot during those 15 miles to the river, but mainly that my stomach doesn't tolerate sugar well that far into a race. We narrowed my GI pain to all of the Coke I had been mercilessly drinking, so from here to the finish I would only have one cup MAX at each aid station. This, in comparision, to the two or three cups that previously found their way into my hands. He also bumped up my salt intake from one S! cap every 30 minutes to two, which worked wonders. I have no doubt that Chris saved my race on Cal Street. With only a few miles until the river crossing, I was finally feeling good! Patience and problem solving, check.

The River to the Finish

It's true what they say about the river crossing; it really does rejuvenate you. Using the Dylan-approved technique of pulling myself across while letting my legs dangle down-stream, I literally floated across to the cheers of Anthony and Fernando. (Seriously, DBo, thank you so much for all of your wisdom in prepping for States.) I had hoped that, at best, I'd be able to run a few minutes of the Green Gate climb, but I'd managed to shuffle up more than half of it.

Maggie, Ken, and Drew greeted us at the aid station, and, man was it good to see everyone. I felt like I had only run a 50k! Not knowing how I was feeling this good, and not wanting to jinx it, I hustled out of the aid and bombed the next descent. I managed to catch the two runners who had passed me on Cal Street and knew Magda couldn't be far ahead. Honestly, these final miles were kind of a blur, but I can honestly say I've never felt that good towards the end of race. I kept my salt and gel intake high, doing my best to stay in the moment like Brett and Jorge had taught me. Focus on the process, not the result.

Somewhere around mile 90, Anthony began having calf pain and fell back a bit. I waited until I could see his headlamp behind me, then kept running. Eventually, the pain was bad enough that he told me to keep going without him, that he'd see me at the finish. I felt bad leaving him; I had wanted us to reach the track together, but I knew that it was out of our control. He got me through the crux of the last 20, and now that I was in single digits, it was up to me to get this done.

I stopped briefly at the remaining aid stations, finally reaching the the last push up to Robie. From there it would be a mile of runnable downhill to the track, and more importantly, the finish. I choked back tears as I ran down the dimly lit streets of Auburn, silent except for the occasional cheer of late night onlookers. Rounding one last turn, the track appeared, stadium lights glaring, and it was beautiful. It was exactly as I had envisioned so many times on my training runs. Runners and spectators were scattered across the infield, hands outstretched, welcoming me and all the other runners to the finish. As I reached the last straightaway, I found my family cheering in the bleachers, and at the finish line, wide-eyed and smiling, was Mags.

When all's said and done, I'm extremely pleased with the day. I went in with lofty time goals, and I'm perfectly fine with not hitting them. This is the first of three 100 milers that I feel like I actually raced, thanks to a solid pacing plan and my undeniably indispensable crew. A huge congrats to all of the runners who toed the line three months ago, and thank you to all of the selfless volunteers who made this happen. And a BIG thanks to Maggie, my crew, friends, and family for their unending support as I chase my dreams. Western States was everything I had dreamed, and it's thanks to all of these great people. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

French Lentil Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

This soup is simple but hearty. It's great served hot or cold, and is perfect for after a long run. It pairs great with garlic bread, a big salad, and a bottle of wine. Be patient with the lentils as they soak up veggie broth - it's worth the wait!

Making a big batch of lentils for the runners of the Silver State Endurance Runs

Makes a batch of about 8 cups

2 tablespoons oil (neutral oil like avocado)
2 big carrots, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Salt to taste
1 carton of veggie broth
2 cups lentils (any variety - I like the green or orange/brown ones)
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon non-dairy butter (go with something like organic Earthbalance)

1. Chop the onions, carrot, and garlic.
2. In a pot (not a pan), warm the oil over medium/ medium-low. Add the onions, carrot, and garlic. Cook until onions are clear and soft - about 10 minutes.
3. Add the spices to the pot. Stir and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add all of the lentils. Stir to coat them in the oil and veggie mixture.
5. Add half of the veggie broth and turn the temp up to medium. Let it simmer - the lentils will soak up the liquid.
6. Continue adding veggie broth as the lentils soak it up. You can also add a bit of water if you run out of veggie broth. Add liquid until you're happy with the consistency - we like a really thick, chili-like consistency.
7. Taste the lentils - they will break down and get soft. When they aren't hard anymore and you like the consistency, turn off the heat.
8. Add the mustard, nutritional yeast, and Earthbalance butter. Stir and taste before adding salt.

Bon appétit!

P.S. This freezes well. Let it cool before pouring it into a storage container - easy dinners for later!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Marin Headlands

The Marin Headlands are a mecca for trailrunning. After living here for about a year, I've been able to run on most (admittedly not ALL) of the trails. I've thrown together a map and some info that I hope will be helpful to other people

Click for detail

I think of the headlands as several distinct regions. The trail network links all of these together, but they each have their own character, and each has one or two waypoints with parking, restrooms, and water. If you're planning a day hike, I'd recommend staying within one of the sections because they are separated by significant mountain ridges that can sneak up on you, especially when it's warm out.

If you're planning a long run and want some variation, cruise through the different zones - noting the water points so you can refill along the way :)

Rodeo Valley

While all of the headlands get busy during peak season, Rodeo Valley is usually the busiest. It's the most accessible area from San Francisco and has a lot of beautiful walkable trails. There is a large parking lot, with bathrooms, showers, and water at the beach. SCA Trail runs along the east side of this region - it is a rolling trail with beautiful views. Battery Townsend is on the far west side and climbs up to Wolf Ridge, which separates Rodeo and Tennessee valleys. Look for wildlife, like coyotes, and really cool plants, like fennel fern, along the trails in this area.

Tennessee Valley
Looking to TV Beach from Old Springs.
This region is nestled between Wolf Ridge on the south and Coyote Ridge on the north. Unless you're walking or running to the beach, be ready to climb. Oakwood Valley provides a shady route up to SCA and through to Rodeo Valley. Marincello is a great, gradual climb that heads south. Coastal Trail heads to the north along the coast - it is a steep climb, but the views are worth it. There is no water in this region. There are restrooms and a dirt parking lot at the Tennessee Valley trailhead.

Muir Beach
An evening view of Mt. Tam from Coastal Trail heading towards Cardiac.
Watch for newts as you head north on Coastal Trail from Tennessee Valley - you'll dip down into Pirate's Cove and climb (gently) up to meet the far side of Coyote Ridge. The newts aren't alone - you'll see lots of cottontail rabbits, deer, coyotes, and seals down along the shoreline. The Muir Beach region has long scenic climbs and numerous ridges - Coyote Ridge on the south, Dias Ridge in the middle, and Cardiac point to the north. Coastal Trail continues through this section - be prepared for a sustained (about 3 mile) climb from Muir Beach up to Cardiac. In the spring, you'll see where Heather Cutoff gets its name - the hillsides are thick with rich purple heather. Several trails converge at Cardiac, including Dipsea. The Muir Beach trailhead is one of my favorite spots to start a run - there are restrooms, water, and plenty of parking.

Muir Woods
The Ben Johnson Trail.

This section gets busy with tourists. But go early in the morning and have the trails to yourself! While it can be hot on the exposed Coastal trail, the huge redwood trees keep this area cool and shady. The trails are soft and super fun to run down from Cardiac or Pantoll - but be prepared to climb out. Lost trail is beautiful and painful - with lots of stairs - and it brings you up to Sun Trail, one of my favs.

Stinson Beach
Running along Matt Davis during the Marin Ultra Challenge.

Bathrooms and parking are right on the beach. The trails stay a bit inland, so plan on a little detour to the beach if you need to use the bathrooms or refill your water. Getting out of Stinson involves climbing (sensing a theme here in the headlands?) The trails here are all renown (notorious?) Willow Camp is soul-crushingly steep. Plan on taking breaks on your way up, unless you're in great shape. Matt Davis is one of the headlands' most beautiful trails. and is mostly flat/rolling. Dipsea is historic - with good reason, but involves ladders and stairs. You'll get a workout wherever you go in this area.

Mt. Tam
Looking towards East Peak from the junction of Old Railroad Grade and Hoo Koo E Koo.
Mt. Tam has three peaks - West, Middle, and East. East is the most popular, with bathrooms, water, and parking near the peak. The south side has steeper trails that are usually sunny. The north side has long, grinding trails that are cool and shady. Eldridge is a great northside trail that you can hike up from Natalie Coffin Green park near Lake Phoenix. On the south side, you can hike up from downtown Mill Valley.

I hope this helps people new to the area or interested in visiting! If I've made a mistake, please let me know :) Happy trails!

Beyond Meat Chicken Pot Pies

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes

This is a perfect fall dinner that's surprisingly easy to pull together. It is full of veggies, completely vegan, and packed with protein - this is a comfort dish, a recovery meal, and a lot of fun to cook.

3 tablespoons oil (olive, veggie, or avocado)
3/4 cup diced red onion
2 cloves diced garlic
3.5 cups veggie broth
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt (to taste - depending on how salty your veggie broth is)
Pepper, to taste
Dash of oregano
8 to 12 ounces of frozen veggie mix (corn, green beans, corn, carrots, etc...)
1/2 package of Beyond Meat Chicken Strips, cut into 1/2" pieces

Making the broth starts with a roux.
Note: Gordon Ramsay makes a roux in the first minute of this video:
Instead of butter, we use oil. Instead of milk, we use veggie broth. 
Sautéing the onion and garlic in the oil before adding flour just adds flavor to the whole shebang.

We use a 2.5" deep cooking pan. By the end of it, the broth is almost filling the pan.

1. Warm the oil in a deep pan over medium-low heat. Sauté until the onions are clear and soft - about 8 minutes.
2. Turn the heat up to medium and add the flour. Stir it around the pan so it soaks up the oil and forms a paste-like substance. The flour will kind of clump together. You want it all to have some oil in it - if there is dry flour in your pan, add a little more oil and continue stirring. Stir for at least 5 minutes so that the flour cooks. Watch the first minute of the above-linked video of Gordon Ramsay to see what the cooked flour paste (the roux) should look like.
3. Once the flour has soaked up oil and cooked a bit, add the veggie broth. Whisk it in to form a smooth sauce. It won't be completely smooth because of the onions and garlic. Let this get hot - keep stirring. The broth should be opaque and thicker than soup broth.
4. Add the frozen veggies and the Beyond Meat "chicken" pieces.

Turn the heat back to medium-low and let the broth thicken while you finish the biscuits.

Uncooked biscuits ready for the oven
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons non-dairy butter - keep this in the fridge until you're ready to go.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F)
2. Measure out the almond milk into a pyrex or cup. Add the lemon juice or vinegar. Stir and let it sit.
3. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
4. Cut in the cold butter - the colder it is, the easier this will be. A pastry cutter is an awesome kitchen tool that will make your life easier. Alternatively, mix in the butter by hand.
5. Dump the almond milk mixture into the bowl.
6. Mix by folding the flour - you don't want to beat the crap out of it. You want to gently fold the mixture, letting the flour clump to the liquid and make a shaggy dough. It should be sticky. If it's not, add a little more almond milk. You do NOT want it to be wet. You just want it to be tacky.
7. When the dough has formed a shaggy ball, flour the counter and dump the mixture onto it. Knead it with your hands (fold over and gently push), working flour in so it doesn't stick to the counter. Knead it about 5 or 6 times.
8. Form the dough into a 1" flat disk with your hands or a rolling pin (gently).
9. Cut out biscuits with a cookie cutter, lid, etc..  that is around 2" wide.

Putting it all together
When the biscuits are ready, pour the broth into a deep pot
Gently place the biscuits on top of the broth to form a crust.
Bake the extra biscuits along with the pot pie - I always want more to dunk into the broth!
Cook for 12-15 minutes at 425F.

Adapted from:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sweet & Spicy BBQ Pizza

This is one of the easiest, most delicious dinners. We make it regularly and have got it down to a science. It comes together in about 15 minutes and cooks for 15 more. On the plus side, no animals were harmed in the making of this meal!

The Basics
Premade pizza dough (I go with Trader Joe's)
Premade pizza sauce (Again, we usually go with TJ's)
BBQ Sauce (Stephen insists that Sweet Baby Ray's is the best)

The Toppings
Canned pineapple chunks
Canned artichoke hearts (in water)
Onion (sauté first - or they won't be cooked through)
Beyond Meat Chicken Strips (we go with lightly seasoned)

If you wanna get fancy
Sundried tomatoes
Red pepper flakes
Mushrooms (sauté first - or they won't be cooked through)
Garlic cloves (roast or sauté first - or they won't be cooked through)
Vegan cheese

1. Strain the pineapple chunks and chop them into smaller bits. Let them kinda dry out while you do everything else or the pizza can get soggy.

2. Roll the dough out. This is the most annoying part. Let it warm up a bit.
Throw some flour on the counter so it doesn't stick. If you want to get fancy, add a little cornmeal (1/4 cup), it adds a nice crunch. If you don't have one, invest in a rolling pin. Or struggle with your hands :)

3. I like to put the rolled-out dough on a foil-wrapped cookie sheet. Easy clean up.

4. Sauce it up: The ratio is about 2/3 pizza sauce + 1/3 BBQ sauce.

5. Add all of the toppings you like.

6. Bake! It usually takes about 15 minutes.

Let it sit for a few minutes when you take it out or it's sloppy cutting it. I can never wait, but good luck to you!

With wheat dough, 3/4 cup pizza sauce, 1/3 cup BBQ sauce, 1/4 cup pineapple, 1/2 cup mushrooms, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup onion, 1/4 cup artichoke hearts

Whole Pizza
Total calories: 1,233
Fat: 17g
Carbs: 213g
Protein: 57g

Per Slice (9 slices)
137 calories
1.9g fat
23.7g carbohydrate
6.3g protein

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Bruery Terreux Saison Rue

This was one of the (many) delicious beers we enjoyed last weekend for Fourth of July. This was a KILLER beer (found at Molly Stone's down the road). It was the last one on the shelf, so I'm glad we snagged it.

The Bruery never disappoints, but this beer was excellent. Light enough to sip out on the deck in the warm weather, but packed full of flavor. Started sweet on the lips with a tang and finished with a more traditional Belgian yeasty-floral taste. What I love about most Belgians, and this one didn't disappoint, is that they rank highly in booze, flavor, and freshness without kicking you in the mouth. 

This beer had great a great complexity of flavors, from the first sip to the last. I'd highly recommend it and hope the store restocks, as the spices in this beer will taste great throughout the fall!

Website here: Bruery Terreux Saison Rue

Learning to Art

By Maggie

I've been so excited to make art, and I was blessed to have the opportunity to make these custom large-scale prints for a friend that lives in Tiburon. It was a great learning experience, in terms of the effort that goes into printing a huge image on high-quality cotton paper and THEN finding a framing company that could handle such a large print. 

Fun facts - Did you know that for large-scale prints, the glass can be so heavy it will rip the drywall off?! I did not. So most large-scale prints actually don't use glass. But it's important to ask for glare-resistant plexi or a similar material... which can be hard to find.

I'm so happy with how they turned out, and I hope Lara is, too. I appreciate the opportunity to make art, to learn about the process, and to share these designs with friends in this community. I'm hoping to make more of these, in addition to the other projects I've got going on :)

You can see more of my art here: