Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You're Vegan What Do You Eat: Roasted Vegetable Salad

I think I have discovered the secret to life, and it is this: roasted vegetables.

Ever since the temperatures started dropping, I have been eating roasted vegetables all the time.  Every day.  Generally I eat them in salad, but it started out in a way that initially did not involve roasted vegetables at all.

I got the idea from this restaurant in Fort Collins called Garbanzo where we've occasionally picked up lunch or dinner.  It’s the kind of place where you can “build” your own meal, in the form of a bowl, wrap, or pita.  Well, I’ve become less and less fond of “wraps” over the years (generally too much wrap, not enough veggie), and their pitas contain milk, so I’ve always opted for the bowl.  It kind of opened my eyes to what you can consider a “salad.”  They scoop in different stuff according to what you choose.  So I end up with hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, shredded cabbage, falafel, turmeric rice, etc.  It is not a lettuce based salad, which was kind of a new concept for me.

IMG 3462


One day I found pre-made falafel at the grocery store, and I decided to recreate a Garbanzo bowl at home that was even more to my specifications: mixed greens, onion, pepper, avocado, sautéed mushrooms, falafel, Dayia cheese, and my signature spicy sriracha dressing.  OMG, it was fantastic.

IMG 4127


The idea continued to evolve on Tuesday nights, which have become designated as “Taco Tuesday”  by William.  The rest of the family likes to eat their tacos in shells, but I’m just not a huge fan of shells or tortillas these days.  One Tuesday I decided to mix all my ingredients together in a bowl: salad greens, Boca crumbles, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, avocados, crushed tortilla chips leftover in the bottom of the bag (Rob calls these “Melissa Chips”), and, wait for it, spicy sriracha dressing.  Divine.

IMG 4153

It’s even better if you add Horsetooth Hotsauce and pair the dish with some kind of Fort Collins beer, served in a beer glass you won as an age group award in 30-mile trail run.

IMG 4295

Experimenting with Taco Tuesday salads broke the ice, so to say, for adding roasted vegetables to salads.  Now I add all kinds of roasted vegetables to my salad.  Basically, if it is a vegetable, you can roast it, and you can eat it in a salad.  My favorite by far is Brussels sprouts, but I’ve also become quite fond of roasted cauliflower and red cabbage.  The red cabbage in particular looks kind of gross, but I promise, it tastes very good.

IMG 4290

I’ve even occasionally used store-bought salad dressing.

IMG 4291

My protocol for roasting vegetables is pretty simple.  I chop or slice the vegetables into bite size pieces (for brussels sprouts, I cut off the ends, then cut them in half).  Then I dump everything into a big mixing bowl and drizzle it with: olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder (this is a must), and turmeric (this is also a must).  Supposedly turmeric has all these health benefits; I don’t know if the amount I’m eating in roasted vegetables is actually beneficial, but it tastes good, so it’s got that going for it.

After preparing the vegetables, I put them on a cookie sheet and then roast them for some amount of time—usually 15 to 20 minutes.  If I think about it, I may stir them around about halfway through.  I’ve found that roasting works at pretty much any temperature from 375 to 425, and cooking time varies accordingly.

On days when it is colder, or when you’ve run up and down Horsetooth Mountain and really need something to stick to your ribs, you can add a variety of other stuff to it too.  This hearty salad has: mixed greens, lentils, edamame, roasted Brussel’s sprouts, roasted potatoes, and some variety of Annie’s dressing.


IMG 4323


I feel like, unintentionally, eating roasted vegetables has drastically improved my diet.  Not like I really thought my diet needed much improving in the first place, but adding these daily salads means that now I eat a ton more greens.  The other thing about roasted vegetables is that they are just so satisfying, filling, and nutrient dense.  I no longer get that intense hunger and need to snack in the afternoons that I’d become accustomed to as part of long distance running.  Of course, that could be because this is sort of the “off season” right now, and I’m running less (heal tibia, heal) than I normally do.  So we’ll see.  But for now, I definitely feel fantastic about these roasted vegetable salads, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve stumbled upon the secret to life.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dear William (63 months)

Dear William,

Today you are 63 months old!

Daddy was out of town for about two weeks this month, so you and me were on our own for a while.  

We climbed Horsetooth Falls, which at this time of year is really more about the journey.

IMG 4129 Is that a waterfall?

IMG 4132

We went to the CSU Homecoming parade and found a bounce house (you love bounce houses).

IMG 4137

We did some school work.

IMG 4141

You often convinced me to let you stay at the playground after school for a while.

IMG 4155


On more than one occasion, you convinced me to let you eat a banana in the bathtub.

IMG 4159


You made a few messes.

IMG 4161


We went to a Halloween party at the Gardens on Spring Creek.  It was, like, 80 degrees that day.

IMG 4163


Bike parking was at a premium.

IMG 4166


Then our friend Mel came to visit!! We were so happy to see her.

IMG 4180

We took a long drive and went hiking in the Poudre Canyon.

IMG 4197


IMG 4205


We went out to dinner on a school night, at a Nepalese restaurant.  You were thrilled about eating naan and drinking orange juice.

IMG 4212


We were very sad when it was time for her to go.

IMG 4252 Don’t go, Mel.


But soon enough, Daddy came back home.

IMG 4257


And then it was time for Halloween.  You decided to wear your C3PO costume from last year.  Hooray!



There was a parade at school.

IMG 4266

IMG 4267


Even the teachers dressed up.

IMG 4268

IMG 4270


Then you had a room party.

IMG 4277 IMG 4278


We did some light trick or treating that night. 

These aren't the droids you're looking for


This month, you surprised your mom and dad by showing us your fierce and fearless love for bouldering.





Mt. Margaret Trail

Mt. Margaret Trail

Mt. Margaret Trail
Arthurs RockArthur’s Rock

It has started to get cold out, but you and daddy bundled up and still biked to school.

IMG 4325 IMG 4288

We finished out this month with a crazy snow storm and a few days of below-zero temperatures.  Welcome to Colorado, everybody says.  You and your dad still rode the bike.

IMG 4328


If this is any indication of what winter here is like, well then, I guess I am very much looking forward to when it is over.  Sometime next May.


William, I love you through and through.

 IMG 4299

Love always,




IMG 4259 Your school picture.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

October 2014 Mileage: Meh

October was just… meh.

Technically speaking, I suppose I set a 50K PR (just 2 weeks after setting a 50 mile PW), but it was the only 50K I’ve ever run, so I guess that was kind of to be expected.  And also technically speaking, I was the first female finisher.  But with only 2 women running the race, it really could have gone either way.  So.

IMG 4294


After the Boulder 50K, my tibia definitely hurt.  I didn’t really care though.  In fact, I had kind of done this on purpose.  Rob was going to be out of town for 2 weeks, during which William had Fall Break (no school), and that meant no childcare/no running for at least a week of it. 

Why is there an inexplicable dearth of women in ultra running again?  Right.  Whatever.

During this time, Rob won (and broke his own course record) in a 50K and finished in the top 5 in a 5 mile race.  Huzzah.

I hoped all the forced time off would take care of my tibia, but unfortunately it still kind of hurts.  Like, I can sort of run, but not far or fast.  KT tape and compression socks help somewhat, but after dealing with this injury for nearly 10 months, no amount of rest or even ibuprofen have made it completely go away.  I’m frustrated, and I don’t want to take this into 2015 with me.

95.95 in October.  1195.86 year to date. 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

24 Hours of Boulder 50K

Immediately after I finished the Bear Chase 50 miler, I started looking around for a spring ultra.  What I found instead was a race called 24 Hours of Boulder, which took place just two weeks after Bear Chase.  In an instant, I wanted to do it.

The Boulder race included multiple events: a 100 miler, a timed 24 hour run (i.e., how far can you run in 24 hours), a 100K, a 50K, or a 6 hour nighttime “fun run.”  The course was an out and back along the Boulder Reservoir, and the description said it included an equal amount of paved road, dirt road, and smooth single track trail.

This really seemed like my kind of thing.

What got me was the race director’s promise of the amazing views of Boulder’s mountains and autumn foliage and the enticing statement on the website: “Race under the sun and stars in the running mecca of Boulder, Colorado."

I had to do this.

My training for the Bear Chase 50 miler had left me with what I felt was pretty adequate base for a 50K, and my tibia had somehow, miraculously survived.  So the family cleared our schedules for the weekend, and I signed up.

The race was a lot more low-key than I’d been expecting, but low-key is fine with me.  What was surprising about the Boulder race was how few participants there were.  I mean, it is true that Boulder is a running mecca.  And this race seemed to offer something for everyone.  I was expecting there to be hundreds of participants, so I was really surprised when I showed up on Sunday morning and there were only 7 of us lining up at the start of the 50K.


Well.  I guess this meant I’d finish in the top 10.  Even if I came across the line DFL.


IMG_4957.jpg Mile 3, the day is young.  Also: I’m wearing a Wonder Woman costume.

The course consisted of an initial short (2 mile?) out and back, then 4 longer laps of about 7 miles.  There was a lot more pavement than I’d been imagining.  And I couldn’t say that my tibia did not hurt.

The dirt road felt a little better to my legs than the pavement, and I kept waiting to get to single track trail.  We never did.  The skinniest the trail ever got was still wide enough to accommodate maybe 3 people running side by side.  But that was okay.  The course was an out and back, so we were somewhat frequently meeting other runners (the 100K, 100 mile, and 24-hour races were still going on), plus it wasn’t closed to the public, so there were people out there just for their morning walk/run/ or bike ride. There was even one section that seemed to be really popular with dog-owners who were letting their giant dogs run and jump unleashed.  Nobody knew there was a race going on, least of all the dogs, who mainly viewed me as something to chase and bark at.  It felt a little bit like going through an obstacle course.

There was an aid station somewhere around 3.5 miles out, where we then turned around and headed back to the start/finish area again.  On the first full lap, I’d been running behind this guy on the way to the aid station, but on the way back I caught up with him and we ran together for the next 20 miles.

IMG_4962.jpg Mile 10 or so.

The course was becoming very sparse because all the other races (100 mile, 100K, 24 hours, 6 hours) had started the day before, and they were now winding down. It helped tremendously to have a running buddy.  50 kilometers in solitude would not have been fun.  I was still really surprised that there were so few runners doing this race.  It seemed pretty well advertised.  Maybe everybody around here just likes hard core trails too much to do this?  I’m not sure.  Anyway, I felt really bad for the volunteers, who were amazing, but standing out in the cold and occasional rain for just a handful of us out on the course now.

IMG_4978.jpg 25K. Oh, oh, we’re halfway there.

Working with my new running buddy really helped pass the time.  We kept a pretty even pace of around 10-10:30 minute miles, and I was doing the best that I could to stay on top of hydration and nutrition.  My tibia did not feel great, particularly on the sections of pavement, but it wasn’t appearing to get any worse as we piled on the miles.

I was still in really good spirits as we began the last 7-mile out and back.  There was only one other woman running the 50K, and I was pretty sure she was a ways behind us at this point.  Anything was possible— but at that moment it occurred to me I still had a 50/50 chance of being either the first or last female finisher.  I’ve run some fairly small ultras, but this was not a situation I’d ever been in before.  No middle ground here.

IMG_4983.jpg Mile 24, beginning of the last lap

The wind had really picked up by this point, and as we headed out for the last lap, we were running right into it.  I kept my wits about me and stayed calm, even as I was pummeled by tumbleweeds.  There would only be about 3.5 miles of this, then we’d head back to finish the race with one heck of a tailwind.

Somewhere just before the turn-around point, I lost my running buddy.  It was his first ultra, and maybe he was getting a little tired in the wind.  I still felt freakishly strong, and the best part of all was that I was experiencing no nausea!!

I didn’t waste time at the aid station turn around point—I just wanted to get this done.  With the wind at my back now, I flew towards the finish.  My last 4 miles were my fastest of the race, even though my quads and calves were beginning to hurt a lot.  I cranked it up even more as I got about a mile from the end, running about an 8:30 pace.

It was pretty unceremonious as I crossed the finish line in something like 5 hours and 19 minutes.  The RD (maybe that’s who it was?) and his wife and kids rang cowbells as I approached, and Will ran it in with me.  With only a handful of other runners still out on the course, the finish line was starting to close down.  The few who remained congratulated me and gave me a medal, a cowbell, and a 1st place finisher cookie (homemade by the RD’s daughters).  It was really nice.

The best thing by far was that I’d finished this race without puking or even feeling nauseated.  I wasn’t hungry at all, but at least I didn’t feel sick.  We waited around only long enough to congratulate my running buddy, who finished a few minutes after me, and then we started to pack up.  The temperature had dropped by several degrees, and rain hung heavy in the blustering cold wind.  It was time to go home.

Some thoughts on this event

The views of the autumn foliage and the mountains surrounding Boulder were amazing, as promised.  The bright yellow of the aspen leaves against the grayish blue of the rainy sky and the brown and green mountains were breathtaking.  I’ve never actually run a 50K (31 miles) before, though I have run Farmdale (30 miles) twice.  These were very, very different courses.  My fastest time at Farmdale was something like 6:40.  In Boulder, it was 5:19.  This course was definitely flat and fast, but that gave it a very “road marathon” feel, which was weird, because it was 6 miles longer than a road marathon and you had to pace yourself differently so you didn’t burn out.  I think I actually did pretty well with pacing because I never got myself into a dark, scary place, and I was able to speed it up at the end even though my quads and calves hurt a lot during the last 4 or 5 miles.  I could power through it because I knew I was almost done, but I was glad that I’d started out conservatively enough so that I made it that far without feeling any pain.  By the end I was way more beat up than I’d been at Bear Chase, even though the distance there was much farther.  The course in Boulder didn’t really have any hills, so there were no natural walking breaks.  I ran the entire time, and that really took a toll on my legs.

Nutrition: I didn’t puke this time

Of the 8 ultras I’ve run, this is only the second time I’ve managed to finish without debilitating nausea and/or puking.  I think this was mainly due to luck: the weather was cool, so I wasn’t depleted as much.  I raced with Nuun Hydration for the first time, which doesn’t supply anything in the way of calories, but it does give you electrolytes.  Maybe that kept me from falling off the edge so that I was able to take in nutrition from other sources. Here’s what I ate/drank during the race:

  • approx 1 bottle of water and ~3 bottles with Nuun tablets (~24 calories, about 48 oz total)
  • 1 Peanut Butter Gu (100 calories)
  • 1 Chocolate Peanut Butter Gu with 20 mg caffeine (100 calories)
  • about 1.5 oranges (slices throughout the race at aid stations)
  • about 1/2 a banana (slices throughout the race at aid stations)
  • about 1/2 a boiled, salted potato (I brought potatoes from home and grabbed some from Rob before I started the last lap.  This absolutely saved me).
  • 2 potato chips at the last aid station
I was definitely starting to feel a bit bad before starting out on the last lap, and that’s when I remembered the boiled, salted potatoes I’d packed in the cooler and brought with us.  These snapped me out of an impending funk.  Rob put some in a baggie for me and I ate them on the run.  They go down easily, give you potassium and sodium, and most importantly for me, they are not sweet.  Neither of the two Colorado ultras I’ve run have offered potatoes at the aid stations (though all the other ultras I’ve run have).  After I actually tried boiling potatoes at high altitude and realized how difficult it was, maybe that’s why they don’t provide them here. 

Would I do this race again?

A definite… maybe.  It was a pretty cool race.  The 50K distance intrigues me.  But having only 7 participants on the course was really kind of weird.  If I hadn’t randomly caught up with a this guy and run 20 miles with him, I would have been totally alone and had a fairly miserable time.  

What did I learn from this race?

I guess I’m not super interested in running a “flat, fast” 50K.  It tore up my legs way more than a more hilly, challenging course (with natural walk breaks) would have.  It really made me realize how much I prefer course like Bear Chase, even though I had a lot of other problems there.

Technically, I was the first female finisher.

Technically.  But since there were only 2 of us, celebrating this would be as ridiculous as the other woman feeling disappointed about coming in second (I certainly hope she doesn’t feel disappointed about that).  It could have just as easily gone the other way for me.  So, don’t worry,  I’m not going to let this go to my head or anything.  But I guess it does make kind of a good story, and that’s why we do this, isn’t it?

Thanks for reading.