Saturday, July 19, 2014

Review: i/Omagic Charger

Wowza.  4:44.  That was a long run.  

I like to track my adventures with the Motion X gps ap (which is rad FYI so watch for a review coming soon!) but my iPhone battery would be dead or close to it after a run this long.  So I was tickled pink to see the battery still at 100% after 4.5hours plus today!  How? 

iOmagic saved the day!  A friend gave me this little portable charger and it passed the test run with flying colours- I'm sold.  Thanks Kim!

The little unit comes with a wall charger so you can load it up with juice beforehand.  It shows how full the battery is with a set of indication lights and has an output port that connects to your iPhone.  It weighs nothing and takes up very little space-1 by 1 by 3 inches.

100% after 4 plus hours.  Awesome.  Go get one.
Looks like $29.99 on the iOmagic site...well worth it!

Do you have a favourite ap or piece of techy run gear that you love right now?  Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Scream You Scream We All Scream for Ice Cream!!

It is something HOT in the Valley.  Mmmmmmm...I love it:).  Time to whip up a few cool treats!  Read on for my faves...

Too often 'cool treat' synchs with crazy sweet frozen treats loaded with additives, preservatives, colouring and multiple words we can't even pronounce.  There IS a better way to cool off!!   Break the cycle.  Get creative.  Think outside the icebox;).  Create your own healthy cool treat menu and say goodbye to the crazy non-food 'treats' more often...

Here are some of my faves to get your wheels turning!

Best Ice Cream Ever .  (No joke)

Sunday Afternoon Goodies (Including frozen banana pops and coconut lime ice cream - oh my!)

What natural cool treats do you and you family enjoy when the temperature climbs?  Comment below!


Friday, July 11, 2014

Videos: Weekend Film Fest

Happy Happy Happy Happy Friday!
It's going to be an amazing sunshiney weekend on the Island!  Time to ride/run/hike to your favourite swimming hole;)  Or, why not do all three together like the boys in 'The Picnic' film, below?  Get ready, this weeks film fest might just be my favourite threesome of videos to inspire adventure...have a great weekend!


100 Miles High - Darcy Piceu Africa and the 2013 Hardrock Ultra Marathon.  If you want a taste of the 'rock' without the pain of the altitude, sit back and enjoy it from that comfy chair of yours...and just imagine...


Seven: The BC Bike Race Movie.   It has come and gone once again...the best week on a mountain bike...the BC Bike Race!  If you missed out or are dreaming of doing it 'one day'... this video should help convince you to sign up next year...stop 'one day'ing it and go for it!  This video was filmed in 2013, the year that I was lucky enough to experience the race and I managed to get about 1.5 seconds of fame...see if you can spot the blue ELM jersey...good luck;)

Seven: The BC Bike Race Movie from BC Bike Race on Vimeo.


The Picnic: a Teton Triathlon.  OMG I LOVE this little video.  A group of buddies create an epic Triathlon that combines cycling, swimming and summiting Grand Teton.  Real dudes on a real adventure...Inspiring me to create my own Valley 'Picnic'...I have some

The Picnic: a Teton Triathlon from KGB Productions on Vimeo.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Review: SOLO Bars

 "Energy that sustains"  
"Low Glycemic & Gluten Free"
"Energy & Nutrition Bars"

Have you heard of  SOLO bars yet?  If not, watch for it, they are about to make a big move onto a grocery store shelf near you, very soon.  A few weeks ago I received a sample kit from SOLO, who asked me to review their 5 different flavours of energy bars.   Here goes:

"Another energy bar?" you say!  

Well, the folks at SOLO have come up with something very unique and it definitely sets them apart from the rest. They have created a bar that is 'clinically validated' to have a Low GI.

GI.  Glycemic Index.  You've heard the term before.  But what does it really mean?

The glycemic index is a scientific system of classifying foods according to how quickly they are digested and absorbed into the body. It was invented by scientists at the Canadian University of Toronto many years ago.  The GI rates foods based on how quickly their carbohydrates are converted to glucose (sugar) and released into the body.   Foods with a higher GI value are released faster and have a greater impact on blood glucose levels. Pure glucose receives a GI value of 100 and pretzels come in at 83, for example.   Foods with a lower GI value are released slower and have a more gradual impact on blood glucose levels. Foods like peanut butter and yogurt receive lower GI values of 14 and 33 respectively.  Foods that are higher in protein, fat and fibre tend to have lower GI values and therefor release glucose into the bloodstream at a slower rate.

"So what?" you say!

Low GI foods provide a slower release of sugar into the system which is believed to provide more sustained energy and increased satiety (feeling of fullness).  You know when you eat those pretzels you're going to be hungry again in 30 minutes right?  How about when you are running, biking or paddling hard?  You know when you eat that gel you are going to need another one in 30 minutes right?  Super energy spike and then crash.

In addition to the 'slow release' energy benefits for athletes and the general public, SOLO bars fit within the recommendations for a very specific population... people living with diabetes.  The SOLO bars are being marketed directly to this group. According to SOLO, their GI Bars address the 'Key Recommendations' of the Canadian Diabetes Association Clinical Practice Guildelines Expert Committee:
  • "Replacing high-glycemic index carbohydrates with low-glycemic index carbohydrates in mixed meals has a clinically significant effect on glycemic control in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes."
That is the BIG angle that SOLO bars are taking to stand apart from the rest of the energy bars on the market.  They have been clinically validated to have a GI of 23-30 (low).  And they weren't just tested anywhere.  SOLO bars have been validated by the actual inventors of the Glycemic Index at the University of Toronto and used in multiple clinical studies. 

So...I asked a friend with type 1 diabetes, who is also a runner, to help me with my research;).   He woke up, ate one bar and went for a 6 km run.  When he returned, he tested his blood sugar and reported a reading of 7.  This was the magic number that he said he would have hoped for after exercise.  He noted that his post run blood sugar reading would normally be higher, up to 8 or 9, after having a banana beforehand.  His testimonial was very positive: "SOLD." he said.  "Where can I get them?" 

"What's IN them?"  you ask!

Good question!  The other side angle SOLO bars have going for them is their ingredients list.  Many energy bars AND diabetic snacks contain a nasty long list of wild and crazy chemically altered, indigestible ingredients that you cannot likely pronounce.  Now, nearly anything living in a shiney package on a store shelf has been added to or subtracted from in some way.  But on the scale of nasty-packaged-non-foods, the SOLO bar is at the VERY good end of the spectrum compared to the majority of energy bars on the market today.  Sure, it isn't just nuts and fruit like my number 1 choice, Lara Bars.  But it has many of the other bars beat for what IS and ISN'T on the ingredients list.  Specifically:
  •  190-200 calories per bar
  • 24-27 grams of carbohydrates
  • 7-8 grams of fat
  • 10-13 g protein- that's higher than most 'energy bars' but mid range for 'protein bars' IMO. They use a whey protein source.  Highly usable by the body- but yes, processed, protein source. 
  • 3-4 g fibre- small but significant enough to effect GI
  • No artificial sweeteners- I like that!
  • No high fructose corn syrup-I like that too!
  • No sugar alcohols- good!
  • No Trans Fats - phew!
  • No artificial preservatives- yes! 
  • In addition the SOLO bars are GLUTEN FREE- key for many living with celiac disease.

"OK OK! But how do they taste?!" you want to know!

Depending on who you are, what your taste buds are into and what other energy bars you are used to eating you will likely rate them as ... Pretty YUM.  

Chocolate Charger was the big winner.  I'd say YUM actually.  It was chocolate on the inside and chocolate on the outside and all that chocolate hid any non-food flavours I might have otherwise detected.  The Dark Chocolate Mandarin was a close second...there is a trend here.  The texture was lovely- light and chewy.  Different texture and flavour coating on the outside and a firm but soft centre.  Not too heavy- lighter for the caloric count,  of approximately 190 calories, than I anticipated.

The Peanut Butter and fruity flavors of Lemon Lift and Pineapple Coconut were tasty...but we got off to a bad start.  I ate these on a hot day.  Their 'coatings' had melted into a liquid pool within the wrapper.  It wasn't a good first date for us.  Never order messy food on a first date.  The solid, chewy centre of the bar was not nearly as appealing once it's 'coating' had melted away and I can't say I enjoyed eating these bars because they were messy and not as tasty.  Reminded me of the old protein bars...and I was hoping to move on from that old relationship.  I will have to try these flavours again, on a cold day;)

The moral of the SOLO bar review is this:
  • Good choice.  I will definitely pick this bar if I need something in a shiney package and there aren't any Lara Bars around;). 
  • Note: I do not know the GI of a Lara Bar...but guess they would be close with the mix of nuts (fats/protein/fibre) and dates that are the main ingredients.  That in itself might be enough of a reason for persons with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to actually choose the SOLO bar over another bar, including Lara Bars, even though they may have a more natural ingredients list.
  • Awesome choice for diabetics and those who NEED to know the GI of the foods they are eating so they can regulate the effect on their blood sugar.
  • Bad choice for hot days in the car or workouts in the sun! They melt.  Be warned.

Have you tried the SOLO bars?  Let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Kusam Race Report: What goes up...

Happy Sunday!
I awoke this morning to tight calves and a series of frantic klimbing memories flashing through my mind.  

That is one intense race...I survived another Kusam Klimb!  I had run Kusam 3 consecutive times with the last adventure in 2008.   6 years ago and what feels like a lifetime.  I wrote about my first Kusam experience back in 2006 here, my 2007 return here and my last race here.  In 2011 they had to cancel the race due to too much snow (cornice of death that wouldn't fall in time)...then I was out for 2 years while I patiently waited to see how my fractured ankle story would unfold.  Prior to my hiatus, I had been on a slow roll for my 3 previous Kusam races shaving exactly 5 minutes off of my race time each year beginning with 3:25 and finishing with a PB of 3:15.  The kicker for me was the summit, however.  For three years I had arrived at that glorious summit atop of Mount H'Kusam in exactly 2 hours zero minutes. Almost to the minute.  If you run with me, you have heard all about my 2 hour Kusam curse.  It was incomprehensible to me that I would reach the top in exactly the same time year after year even after attempting to train smarter, race harder and literally place a bounty on that summits head.  

My mission for you can only imagine...was to reach the summit in 1:59 or less or destroy myself trying.  I could care less what my finish time would be.  I could care less who passed me or who I passed.  I could care less if it was pretty.  It was just me and that damn mountain (and my watch, of course;).  I just HAD to break the curse!

I was curious to find out what would happen after 6 years... a broken ankle, a 125km perspective switch, 6 years of aging and racing and a 50k under my sneakers already this year.  What sort of flavour would that cocktail produce??  Scroll to the bottom of my race report for the 'last page' answer.  Read on to feel my pain;)

I drove up once again in the early hours of dawn to the little town of Sayward for the annual Kusam Klimb, who's tag line taunts racers with the cheeky question: 'Are you tough enough?'.  It is a race where finishers definitely earn bragging rights.  1500m of elevation gain and loss over 23kms.  The entire 1500m of elevation gain is compressed into a tight 6kms of jagged mountain climbing requiring ropes, hands and sheer perseverance.  The wicked climb forces racers to their knees within mere minutes of the start line as the route pitches upwards instantly upon arriving at the singletrack.  Wowza.

The Kusam Klimb has been around for 10 years now and the race has continued to grow year after year.  Over 500 racers merged in the start area, creating a wild motley crew of endurance hikers, mountain runners, obstacle racing die hards and greyhound roadies.  From gators and hiking boots to short shorts and singlets, everyone and their grandma seemed to converge for the challenge.  Kudos to one of the smallest towns on the Island for creating it's own little race culture that beckons such a range of 'klimbers' to return year after year.  

At 7am there was a drizzle in the air and an energy in the starting chute that only racers can truly understand...3...2...1...GO and everyone seemed to silently shout "Let's Do This!".  The first 2kms is on a flat stretch of road and loads of peeps go out with guns a blazing.  Some do this by accident, caught up in the excitement of the start.  Others race the flats with purpose- to make the most of the only truly runnable section in the first 7kms and to seed themselves in time for the tight single track.

My race plan this year was a patchwork of pacing and racing segments.  Although I preach the strategy of 'racing in 1/3ds' (too easy, just right, and hard) to many of my athletes, the Kusam Klimb comes from a different book and does not necessarily heed the gospel.  It's diabolical elevation profile requires a totally different plan of attack for me.  Instead, the plan was to follow my golden rule: 

Train your weaknesses and race your strengths.  

I would run hard when I could on the downhills and flats and pace myself on the climbs.  That meant a fast start- so I ran my little legs out for the first 2kms, knowing that I would come to a grinding halt once I reached the first climb. I felt great on the flats and enjoyed the weightlessness of my new Salomon Ultra Sense sneaks.  I had to keep the 2 hour curse in my head to remind myself why I was running so quickly in the first minutes of a 3+hour race!  

When the 'klimb' began, my weaknesses appeared instantly and an army of solid climbers gradually moved past me one by one.  As in previous years, men, women, children, seniors passed me...and as usual, I had to let them go.  My calves started to cry out after the first check point, when the trail pitched upwards, 15 minutes and 3kms in.  Same place as always.  Same screaming, searing pain.  Pain is a very interesting pain is not your pain.  My pain on a climb is completely different than my pain on a fun descent.  Pain can be a sign of very good things.  Pain can be a sign of very bad things.  The mind can over ride pain or accentuate it.  After years of training and racing I have learned many tricks to turn it off.  I will have to do an entire post on the amazing thing we know as pain...

I didn't do a very good job of managing my pain sensations.  My tricks weren't working.  My calves seized up into blocks of immovable tissue that successfully resisted my mental powers;).  On the steep, un-runnable, but beautiful for fast trekking inclines, I couldn't find my rhythm.  I couldn't get my calves to work.  They were so seized up that they wouldn't allow my heels to go flat to the ground to complete a 'rest step' stride (a technique that saves the calves and engages the larger glutes and quads).  They were so seized up that they wouldn't allow me to push off to complete a 'trek-run' step (a technique in between trekking and running that uses a bit of both strides). The only thing that created momentary relief was locking my ankles into plantar flexion (picture stiletto heels) and prancing on tip toes-transferring the load to my feet (NOT recommended and NOT sustainable lol;).   I kept switching between all of the strides, techniques and steps I could think of, but never managed to get into any sort of groove.  The result was a bit of a frantic klimb to the top, using my hands at every chance possible to relieve my lower legs from the assault.  

The technical climb was hard for me this year.  Hands and ropes and pushing and pulling and looking for purchase wherever I could find it.  I remember enjoying the scrambling sections in previous years.  I remember feeling fast and fluid like a monkey.  Well...this year I felt like a monkey alright.  But not the kind I was hoping for.  I was suspended in time.  I didn't feel like I was moving yet there was nothing left to push with.  I  just kept on pushing upwards as best as I could.

I battled between pushing my limits and pacing my weaknesses all the while repeating my goal over and over in my head: 'You have to get to the top in under 1:59!'.  Of course every year the conditions are slightly different and this year there was nearly no snow on the top of the mountain.  When I arrived at the lake just below the summit and the base of the final climb I looked at my watch...I had 15 minutes to get to the top!  With little snow to slow the pace I marched onwards...the pain was pushed away by an overwhelming sensation of JOY that filled me up!  1:52 to the top!  "I DID IT!" I wanted to yell - but didn't cuz that would have been kind of weird;0.  My race was over!  For nearly two hours I hadn't actually though beyond reaching the summit.  I could have cared less what happened after that...I had won my race!
But in reality, I was on the top of a 1500m summit and had about 16kms left to run downhill back to my car.  So off I went literally jumping over the other side (picture a razor edge ridge line) because the initial descent was just as wicked as the climb.  

I had never seen this side of the mountain without a thick snowpack.  Normally, the initial 1km descent is covered in a white blanket of smoothness.  Although fraught with tree wells and slippery as hell (think hard packed spring snow), the snow allowed for a quick 'boot ski' down the other side.  Now I got to see what was under that snow and it wasn't pretty!  Sharp rocks, mud, slide alder, berry bushes, fallen logs uneven drops were exposed and littered the ground for a km.  I was following another racer and we quickly got off course, losing the trail and forced to grab onto wild heather and slide alder for support.  After a minute or two we were all back on the flagging and the ropes brought the fun factor up a big notch for me!  I got to leap and jump and whiz down the mountain side while 'rapelling' with hands on the rope in case of emergency;).  Funny how my hands instinctively met in my old rappel position, side by side on my left hip, after so many years of imprinting the technique as a Rapattack Forest Firefighter.  It felt awesome:).

Once the technical bit was over, I knew I had about 10kms of downhill double track running ahead of me.  My gift had arrived!  It was time to push my strength...and I do love to run down hills fast!  After a few minutes of full abdominal cramping (which must have been from the 1.5hours of bent over, hands on knees trekking) and tip toeing the descent while my body attempted to stretch itself out, I was feeling better by the minute.  

The nature of the elevation profile makes Kusam a brutal race for everyone.  Fast or slow, young or old, climber or descender.  You suffer on the climb or the descent.  Usually on both.  Asking your body to switch from hours of bent over, calf crushing climbing to long stretched out downhill pounding strides is a recipe for another breed of pain.  Cramping, nausea, dead legs, the wall, the bonk...they are all waiting and many wounded soldiers succumb to these evil doers.  

Pacing and fueling, or what I call 'personal management' are the secrets to avoiding these nasty's.  I am happy to say that I managed both as well as I could have on the day. I raced smart and I felt stronger and stronger the longer the run went on.  I knew I should have felt some 'pain' from the impact and effort of maintaining a hard pace over 10 downhill kms but I felt nothing.  I was filled once again with joy - knowing I had come so far over the past few years and my ankle had healed, allowing me to return to Kusam.  Any pain I may have felt was a gift would have made me smile rather than grimace:).  

Down down down...through the rivers, in and out of the cross-ditches and into the single track.  I managed to pass a dozen or so of the strong climbers that left me in the dust on the ascent.  We traded off our strengths and cheered each other on towards the finish.  I felt stronger than ever on the final stretch- climbing the 'rude' hill just before the final check point with energy and strength.  I was fighting off twinges of cramping in my feet and I embraced the change in stride that the short steep uphill provided.  

Past the sweet volunteers with a Hawaiian themed aid station.  Then down the final 2km stretch, heading for home.  It felt awesome.  Not like previous years when I was forcing every step to the finish.  Once the long descent turned to the final km of flat road running I was expecting to feel the weight of gravity and that slow mo 'chariots of fire' tragedy to the finish.  But it never appeared.

I found new strength in my legs that had never been with me during the final mile of the Kusam Klimb.  I wanted to run further.  "If I feel so good now, could I have run faster earlier?" I wondered, as I ran hard towards the finish.  No, I did all I could.  6 years later it seems that I have developed a new strength...endurance.  I'll take it.

6 years older and 5 minutes faster, I reached the finish line in under 3 hours 10 minutes...gotta love that!  And a full 15 minutes faster than I was  in my first Klimb 8 years ago:)

Thank you Kusam Klimb!  Thank you for the suffering, the personal challenge, the pain, the pleasure, the joy, the gratitude and the gift of running.  

Happy Trails,

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ride alone...ride with friends.

This week I remembered something I didn't even know I had forgotten.  I found something that I didn't really know was lost.  Kind of like finding twenty bucks in your jeans pocket.  Sweet. 

I get up with the mailman and I most likely go to bed before your kids.  In between I'm what you'd call pretty busy.  I have learned to run and ride whenever it works best for me.  Last year, while training for the BC Bike Race my rides got longer and longer and my riding buddies got fewer and fewer.  Out of necessity, just as I slipped into solo trail running, I soon discovered the beautiful selfish solitude of riding alone.  Since those first few forced rides I have learned to love riding alone in the woods.  

On these solo rides my mind weaves, my wheels wander and my pace is set by my breathe alone.  Sometimes I crave big beats or rolling rhythms and I feel the need to plug in.  Other times I want nothing but the sweet sound of dirt shifting under my tires and I keep my ears wide open.  Selfishly I ride what I want when I want and go as hard or slow or short or far as I want.  It's quiet time for a busy mind and it fills me up every time.

I had gotten so used to riding alone that I nearly forgot why I used to ride with friends...

This week I remembered.  

Little smiles get bigger.  Silent whoops are let loose.  Flowy trail stoke is magnified.  Weaknesses are challenged.  Strengths are highlighted.   Old friendships are nurtured.  New ones are sewn.  Memories are shared...

Ride alone.  Ride with friends.  It's all good.  
Ride on, friends;)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Recipe: Savory Spud Salad

I have a growing list of delicious whole food recipe's that I want to share with you...but have not managed to get them on the blog!  Stay tuned this month as I will be sharing some of my favourite spring recipes from fresh and flavourful dinners to delicious new bars and balls.... stay tuned!

First up is my go to potato salad...and it is not the kind you are thinking of!  This salad is a flavour explosion, loaded with spices and fresh herbs.  Gluten and dairy free, vegans can enjoy this potato salad too!

Savory Spud Salad
2 lbs new potatoes, scrubbed and boiled until just done.
1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh chopped chives
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 cup pitted kalmata olives
1 cup chopped cucumber or celery
1 cup chopped red pepper 

3 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup olive oil
Blend all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor until pureed.  Slowly add olive oil until emusified (creamy).

Chop new potatoes in half and combine with remaining ingredients.  Toss with dressing to combine well.  Top with more fresh herbs.  Refridgerate for 30 minutes to combine flavours.  Enjoy!