Final thoughts on the sugar detox

Diet’s over! I’m free!
Sunday was the last day of my sugar detox. I stuck it out the whole 21 days without cheating and now I can eat whatever I want!!!
Except I’m finding that I want to eat pretty much the same as I have been for the past three weeks.
This is throwing me off a little bit. When I decided to try a sugar detox, I really wasn’t expecting to like it. I mean, it essentially cut out all of the foods I eat for pleasure…
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Day 17 of the Sugar Detox- It’s the FINAL COUNTDOWN

..and I feel great.

There’s more to it, and I’ll get into that. But first.. BIG news.

I’m excited to share this article that I wrote for one of my absolute favorite publications, Outside online. This is the first time I’ve contributed anything to a website that gets a lot of traffic, so it’s kiiiiiiind of a big deal.

*I was dancing around the house all day!*

I would love to celebrate with some champagne and chocolate, but, you know… sugar detox.

I told myself that if I slipped up, I would start the 21 days over again, and I really, really don’t want to do that.

So I’m hangin tough.

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Little over a week into sugar detox- I’d sell my soul for a Sin Dawg

Here’s What Happens To Your Brain When You Give Up Sugar For Lent | IFLScience.

This article popped up in my Facebook newsfeed at just the right time. I’m on day 9 of a 21 day sugar detox diet, otherwise know as the “fuck this, I won’t eat anything but a muffin” phase, and reading a well-referenced article on the neuroscience of sugar addiction was exactly what I needed.

Nobody likes to listen to people blab on about their diets, but this is my blog and I need to vent some serious detox-related gripes.

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I Run Loving

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

I’m definitely not one for overpriced flowers and overpackaged chocolates, but I can get down with celebrating love. And the one thing that I love more than anything else is RUNNING!

While my buddies back on the east coast are getting buried in snow, winter is pretty much over in California. I heard that it was really cold for a couple weeks while I was visiting NJ for the holidays. I guess I missed winter.

But hey- I won’t complain about sunny skies, warm weather and running on trails again.

My foot is all healed. I’m sick of the dreadmill. I’m getting amped up for this year’s running season.

Today was my first 10 mile run this year, which feels like enough cause for celebration to me. It’s always good to get that first double digit distance run behind you just for the purposes of building confidence.

Today made me think back on past runs:

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Nothing is so much to be feared as fear

I was really inspired by this video. Like everyone else, I read Eat, Pray, Love. I read it in Costa Rica right after I had resigned from my secure-ish ivy research job in favor of a life of constant uncertainty and steadily dwindling funds chasing my dreams.

I really admired the courage she, and so many other artists/writers/poets/whatever had to just share herself with the world.

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I guess I can’t say “winter is coming” anymore

This morning I woke up in the middle of the sky to an intercom voice announcing initial descent into Newark, New Jersey. I opened my eyes to see the sun peeking over the blanket of clouds and immediately resented the East coast for being three hours ahead of the time zone I’ve grown accustomed to.

After eating, napping, and somewhat acclimating to the modern splendors my parents house has to offer, I remembered that today is the winter solstice! Had I remained in Mount Shasta where I belong, there is no way in hell I could have forgotten such an important day.

The shortest day of the year, and a new moon on top of that!

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I’d Run for Food

First things first, I hope that everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

Other things first: I ran my very first Thanksgiving day turkey trot this year, which was also my first race since busting my foot in the last race that I ran. Annnnnd I placed first in my age group!

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So many firsts!

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My First Wildfire

This story does not end well, but I’m going to try starting it off on a lighter note.

Since I’m recovering from a running injury, I decided to give aqua-jogging (yogging) a whirl. I bought myself a temporary gym membership and found an incredibly helpful list of aqua workouts for runners.

It was a bit awkward getting started, trying to get the funky foam floatation belt to fit properly without knocking off my bikini top, but after all the kinks were worked out, I was happy as a clam. Trading my crutches in for a floaty was a very positive step for my physical and emotional health.

It felt sooooo good to finally be able to use those muscles I’ve been resting for over two weeks now. Picture the look of pure bliss on a puppy doggy-paddling with a trophy stick in her mouth, or a toddler splashing around in her swimmies. That was ME! Running in little circles around the deep end of the pool, trying to avoid collisions with the other old ladies doing aqua-robics, I just could not stop smiling.

That’s the happy part.

Yesterday, I tried out the gym in Weed for the first time, since I’ve heard great things about the salt water pool they have there. Soaking in chlorine for hours is not my cup of tea.

As I was getting my aqua workout on with the usual crew of old ladies, we all noticed the smell of wood smoke. Moments later, dark clouds of smoke blocked the sun from shining through the large glass windows. Since it was a pretty blustery day, the wind would blow the smoke in gusts. Blue skies one second, dark reddish-grey the next.

One of my pool companions decided to open the door marked “KEEP CLOSED” (that rebel) to scope out the scene. “Oh, it’s BAD,” she exclaimed, “I’m getting out of here!”

Being a newbie Californian, I don’t have very much experience with wildfires, but I did know that oftentimes the sky fills with so much smoke that you can’t even see Mt. Shasta. Naturally, I assumed that this smoke must be coming from a fire about an hour away. I was safe because nothing bad ever happens in my naive little bubble.

While the other pool dwellers hastily packed up and left, I delighted in having the entire pool to myself. I figured that if there was a fire, a pool was the safest place I could be. I mean, wildfire only floats on water in Game of Thrones, right?

But then, the gym manager rushed in to fetch me, warning that the building was being evacuated.

I spent a few years working in elementary schools and am very familiar with fire drills. However, all that practice must have slipped my mind, or I was far too deep in my imaginary bubble of safety, because I took my sweet time getting out of that pool. I even stopped to use the restroom, during which event the gym manager rushed in to the locker room, once again insisting I leave the building ASAP and appearing far more flustered this time.

Finally picking up on the urgency of the situation, I ran for the first time since breaking my foot.

As soon as I got into the parking lot, I saw towering flames and plumes of fiery smoke- right across the street. I’ve gone to burning man, but never in my life have I seen a wildfire up close. As much as I wanted to take a photo, my fight or flight instinct moved me out of there more quickly than my body would normally be capable of right now. As I drove down the windy road that leads to the center of town, small fires were blazing up on each side of my truck.

It was terrifying, but I did stop to take some photos once I was a safe distance away:
fire in weed

That hardly shows anything, but much better quality shots are available on other internets.

As I drive out of there, my brain struggled to comprehend the scene. Giant pine trees roared with hot angry flames directly behind the elementary school while a small group of teens strolled beneath an otherwise blue sky. My little safety bubble completely disintegrated. I was witnessing devastating reality.

At the end of the day, my mom texted me to check in on how my foot was healing. I replied, “Foot is getting better. I started aqua jogging. The gym I was in today burnt down, but I’m fine.”

It’s so extreme and close to home that I still get a little nauseous thinking about it. Nothing humbles the soul and incites charitable action like a disaster that affects thousands of people. Aside from a newly re-swollen foot and a major nerve-shaking, I am totally fine and counting my blessings.

My heart goes out to all those affected by the Boles Fire and I’m happy to do whatever I possibly can to help anyone in need.

Unrelated: there was a very confused bear wandering around the pasture yesterday!

bear in the field

Love Hurts: Headwaters Ultra 50K Race Review

My day started out as usual. Woke up at 6, ate my typical pre-long run breakfast of toast, almond butter, honey and banana and washed it down with some strong espresso. I was really pleased to look out the window and see that my prayers had been answered. The hazy smoke from nearby wildfires that was building up in the sky all week had miraculously blown out of Shasta. It was an exceptionally beautiful day for a trail race.

Before I left my house for the starting line at Lake Siskiyou, I gave myself a middle school-style temporary sharpie tattoo on my upper arm.

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Because I neglected to snap a photo of it before the race, credit goes to my friend Jason, one of many wonderful volunteers who made the race so much easier for us runners. This was taken at Aid Station 3/4, right after I shoveled some PB&J and watermelon into my sweaty, salt-encrusted face. Since I was certain not all of it got into my mouth, Jason was so kind as to keep my head out of the photo :)

Leif is the owner of the mountain shop that I work at, and has been in critical condition for the past few weeks. It’s been a really difficult and intensely emotional time for those of us who work at The Fifth Season as well as many members of this beautiful community. Leif is a very strong and driven man who many of us look up to as a father-figure rather than simply just a boss. Although it’s been a tough time for all of us, the love and support that this community has provided is thoroughly heart-warming and makes me feel so grateful to be here. I figured dedicating my first 50K to Leif was the very least I could do. In fact, it helped me to finish.

I started off strong. Maybe too strong. For all the long runs I’ve done, I honestly have never pushed my body so hard that I found its breaking point. I decided that Saturday was my opportunity to really see what I could do. I didn’t want to bring my GPS watch because I didn’t want to know how fast I was going, I just wanted to listen to my body and focus 100% of my energy on finishing the race as fast as I possibly could.

At the starting line, I ran into our Smartwool rep, who I had met at the shop the day before. We had joked that I was going to pack a sleeping bag so that I could nap comfortably at the finish line while I waited for him. So, of course, my nickname for the day became “sleeping bag.” Hated it/couldn’t do anything about it/learned to love it.

I pushed really hard for the first few miles just to establish a spot for myself. That spot happened to be among a pack of alpha males that included Smartwool. After running together for the first several miles, it became clear that they were all pretty well seasoned ultrarunners, one of whom was chatting casually about trying to win a silver in a very famous 100 mile race. That’s where I found myself. Little newbie blonde girl’s gonna try to keep up with the big boys.

When they slowed down to walk up a hill that I knew was nothin compared to the hills to come, I decided to push past and jog up it with the short stride, high cadence approach. Clearly, being expert ultrarunners, two of the big dudes immediately began critiquing my technique, referring to it as the “granny shuffle.”

“Hey,” I yelled back at them, “this feels so easy, I might as well be reclining in a La-Z Boy!”

Not only did that shut em up right quick, I also heard one say, “Shit, I can’t believe I got chick’d so early in a race.”

He got chick’d. I LOVE IT!

But they were right. I was pushing at an unsustainable pace. They flew ahead of me at the first aid station, and I didn’t hear their hoots and hollers again until I hobbled across the finish line, greeted by giant smiles and hugs.

Why was I hobbling instead of running? Somewhere around mile 22ish, I busted my right foot. I just had it x-rayed yesterday, and definitely have a stress fracture in my second metatarsal, which is evidently a common injury for ultrarunners. I blame myself and my shoes for this injury. I’d been training on the race course, and knew that my old, beat-up barefoot Merrells weren’t nearly enough to protect my footsies from all the rocks on the course. I tried to order myself a new pair of trail shoes with some cushioning and a rock plate, but the delivery failed, twice, and I had no choice but to use what I had. I suspected it might be a problem, and I only made that worse by bounding down a rocky slope at full-speed before I reached the halfway point of the race.

It was straight-up masochistic and egomaniacal, and I paid the price.

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I love my feet.

Every time I set my right foot down, I felt searing pain. After 9 or 10 miles of this, including a second trip down the rocky slope I had totally killed the first time, my pride hurt just as much as the foot. I worked so hard to stay ahead for the first 2/3 of the race, and now suddenly people were passing me.

As they ran past and saw that I was limping, other runners would try to cheer me up, but I wanted nothing to do with it. I was angry at myself and on the verge of tears, but I kept going. There was no effin way I was going to drop out of that race.

I kept fuming silently, and occasionally crying out loud, until about half a mile before the finish line. Somewhere around this point, I realized that I was about to finish my first ultra. The notion brought a smile to my face that stayed with me until I dragged my gimpy ass across the finish. My time was 7:05 and change, which I’m pretty pleased with, considering the circumstances.

I set out to challenge myself and find out what my body can do. It was the first time I ever finished a race feeling like I couldn’t go on any further, and that feeling is intensely satisfying. Mother nature beat my swollen ego back into place and taught me that I am NOT, in fact, a superhuman. My body is breakable, although my spirit sure as hell ain’t.

The best part of all, is that while I was relaxing with some beer and pasta after the race, apologizing to all the passing sweethearts that I had growled at in my painful, self-loathing misery during the last leg, the dude I made the La-Z Boy comment to called me a STUD. This, to me, made it all worth it. I will break a foot any day to have a gorgeous, tall, broad-shouldered, athletic male ultrarunner call ME a stud. Instant ego re-inflation, my friends.

I will be back on the trail in about 6 weeks, or whenever my bone is healed up.

I don’t know much, but I do know this: with a golden heart comes a rebel fist

… I can’t help agreeing with those that would not quit.

In less than two days, I will run my first ultramarathon.

The past several weeks have been intense, fun, hellish, painful, liberating, terrifying and astoundingly transformative. I’ve observed my body and mind undergo drastic changes throughout the three months I’ve spent training for the Headwaters Ultra 50K. I’ve lost 10 lbs since June, and my legs are finally starting to resemble the powerful, sinewy structures they once were.

More impressive, though, is the attitude adjustment I went through very recently. A couple of weeks ago, I had a full-on anxiety attack about this race. I was convinced that I had somehow messed up my training schedule. The one 26 mile run I was supposed to do turned into an 18 miler due to an extensive hunt for spring water in this awful drought. My morning runs before work were embarrassingly slow despite all my effort. Everything was WRONG! I was doubting myself and feeling scared. I started telling myself I couldn’t do it… again

You see, this is the second 50K I’ve registered for. I had a similar freakout moment before my first one, and ended up dropping down to the 25K version of that race. Although it was probably a good idea overall, being my very first trail race and everything, I’ve never felt proud of that decision. I guess you could say it haunts me a little bit.

But then, everything changed.

Everything.

I started listening to my friends, who would praise and support my dedication to running. I would respond with, “anyone could do it, you just have to want it!”

When I took a new friend on her first 3 mile run ever, I assured her that, “your body is so much stronger than your mind wants you to believe!”

Meanwhile, I was telling everyone else: “I won’t place in this race. I’m a slow runner. I’m not ready for this. I’m SOOOO out of shape. blah blah blaaaaaahnegativeblah.”

I was pulling tarot cards that represented false illusions and unhealthy habits, wondering who was trying to dupe me… but then I realized that I was encouraging everyone else to try to do something that I was clearly afraid of failing at, miserably.

Then I was all like, “oh honey, dat don’t make NO SENSE!” and I slapped myself. Real good. Then, my tarot cards started representing courage, triumph, and adventure.

Conveniently, this attitude adjustment lined up with my body finally falling into athlete mode, and I was running like a goddamn gazelle. It just happened. Like BAM!

I decided to deviate from my training “plan” and go out for 26 miles on a week I was supposed to be taking it easy. I ran most of the course, through a thunder-hail storm, and did NOT stop or turn around despite all my wilderness guide training that told me to get the eff away from all those trees and lightning. I was very nervous, but I pressed on, and I finished strong.

Watch the weather change

Watch the weather change

 

It was intense, but I feel happy. I’m ready. It’s go time. In less than two days, I’m going to run my first ultramarathon, and I’m going to fucking rock it.