Things I Highly Approve Of

Ahhhh….the weekend. A time for rest. A time for relaxation. A time for carefree enjoyment and jubilance.

In honor of the weekend, I present to you a list of things I highly approve of, particularly on weekends….

1) Taking the time to try out any recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, 101 Cookbooks.

My mom and I joined forces this past Friday in an effort to make Heidi’s Spinach Rice Gratin, a delicious casserole dish made of brown rice, tofu, spinach, shredded gruyere, olive oil, eggs, pine nuts, and olives.

It was basically heaven in a casserole form. Who knew?

Before spending some quality time in the oven:

After + garnish:

Oh baby. Oh baby. It reminded me of a lighter version of a quiche.

My only  complaint about the recipe revolves around the number of serving sizes the recipe is supposed to produce. Reportedly, it serves 8-12. In reality, it served my mom, my dad, and myself. That’s it. We finished the whole damn thing in one sitting….

I don’t know if this says more about my family’s collectively exorbitant appetite or Heidi’s understanding of portion sizes. On second thought, don’t answer that….

I would definitely agree that the recipe serves 8-12 if the 8-12 in question are midget chipmunks. In all fairness, I think it could possibly serve six people, provided there are lots of side dishes to supplement it. But if that’s the only thing going on at the dinner table, it serves three or four. Tops. Actually, I could probably eat the whole thing in a sitting if I really put my mind (or stomach) to it. Don’t believe this 8-12 business.

2) A cat in a bucket.

That’s right…no need to be suspicious now. I will say it again: A cat in a bucket.

Such an entity provides hours of quality entertainment.

Provided the cat is not sleeping in said bucket, which is a high probability when it comes to cats. See what I mean?

3) Using cross-training days in the marathon training schedule as an excuse to do nothing but stretch. Today, I spent 30 minutes doing easy Hatha yoga (aka. yoga for 90-year olds), and I loved every second of it. Who needs heart-thumping power yoga when you can instead lounge on a mat for half an hour? That’s exercise, now. No judgements.

4) Lemon Drop Martinis.

I’m not the biggest fan of hard alcohol. But for the lemon drop, I will make an exception. It’s achieves the perfect balance between sweet and tart. Just like my personality? Maybe?

5) A nice dinner out with the family.

This is a picture of my aunt Deb and I while under the influence of the Lemon Drops mentioned above. My mom, the photographer, is probably also exhibiting effects of the lemon drop martinis. Notice the complete lack of focus in the picture. Way to go, Mom. One lemon drop martini, and the photography abilities go right out the window.🙂

Besides exhibiting an obvious enjoyment of martinis, the fam and I also ate a lot of food. A lot of really good food. Food that I certainly will not be able to afford once I start up with my AmeriCorps job in a few weeks.

With my parents footing the bill, I enjoyed the likes of:

Oysters on the rocks

Lobster salad with caramelized pine nuts, grapefruit wedges, and a honey olive oil dressing of sorts. BEST course of the night!

Sea scallops with truffle risotto, green beans, and grilled summer squash.

My aunt’s dish, a seafood pasta concoction of sorts, was also beautiful, so of course, I had to take a picture of it. I am a food blogger, after all.

Honestly, can you every go wrong with having that many mussels in your seafood pasta dish? I think not. Usually, restaurants are skimpy on the mussel front, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that the entire Pacific Ocean’s mussel supply had arrived on my aunt’s dinner plate.

And don’t think for a second that we, as a family unit, had any trouble whatsoever finishing all those mussels. As I mentioned above, my family members are known for their “healthy” appetites. If that’s what you want to call it….My aunt, however, wasn’t in the mood to eat the entire truckload of mussels for dinner, so I transferred some of them onto my plate and devoured them within 0.2 seconds. It was quite the sacrifice I made.

I’m telling you. The things I’ll do for family….

Question: What is your alcoholic beverage of choice (and if you’re underage, what is your “theoretical” alcoholic beverage of choice)?

I’m a wine gal for the most part, but obvious exceptions will be made when lemon is involved.

East And West

First of all, I just wanted to thank each and every one of you who commented on my previous post. Reading your tales of running woes and the lessons you learned from them really made my day. You guys have so much to say, and I feel so lucky and honored to be a part of such a vibrant, intelligent, and supportive community. In a nutshell, you all rock, and I’m taking all of your encouragement with me into my next long run.🙂

So, as you may have noticed, I’ve been a bad food blogger as of late. The food pics have been few and far between.

Please accept the following pictures as my form of an apology. They feature a sampling of the international flavors I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

From West:

An all-American classic: Turkey burgers with horseradish sauce, cheddar cheese, diced peppers, onions, salt, and pepper.

Adding horseradish sauce to turkey burger patties is a stroke of genius that I credit to my mum. They add great flavor to the burgers! That and the cheese. If there’s one thing I know in this life, it’s that you can never have too much cheese in your burger patties. Never.

To East:

A take on spicy Thai stir-fry: Marinaded pork tenderloin stir-fry with sprouts, bell peppers, asparagus, lemongrass, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, and garlic.

Colorful veggies galore!

Many of my favorite meals are wok-based. Some veggies, some flavorful meat, a little brown rice on the side. A perfectly balanced and delicious meal.

And back to the West again.

That cornhusk-wrapped classic of Latin American cuisine: tamales!

My sis picked up some of these bad boys at a tamale shack in the middle of Nowheresville, CO on her way to Breckenridge a few days ago. I enjoyed one cheese and one chicken enchilada for lunch today…

My favorite part of eating tamales is unwrapping them from their little husks. So fun! Or at least, I find it fun to do this. Then again, I’m weird.

Mmmm….doughy cheesy corn-based deliciousness.

One of these days, I’m going to have figure out how to make tamales on my own, but for now, I’ll just enjoy them straight from my fridge. Trust me, the people who work at the tamale shop in Nowheresville, CO know what they’re doing.

Question: Which type of cuisine do you prefer most often? American, Asian, or Latin American?

A Series of Unfortunate Runs

My marathon training over the past week and a half has been strangely reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Only substitute the word “Events” for “runs,” and that would be my life in a nutshell.

I wish I could report to you all that my 15 miler today went splendidly and that my nap yesterday gave my body the extra oomph and energy to cruise through the run with ease and strength.

But no.

Sadly, this run was a tough one. Unfortunate, if you will.

It wasn’t tough for me because my muscles were sore or because I didn’t have the cardiovascular stamina for it. Nope. The primary reason for my misery during this run was dehydration, and boy, did it pull a number on my system.

To start things off, I didn’t actually start running till 8:00, which was a definite mistake on a day when the forecasted temperature was in the 90s. As I ran along my minimally shaded path, I began going through my water much faster than anticipated. By mile 2.5, I had gone through one of my water bottles, and by mile 6, I was almost done with the other.  At this point, I had 9 more miles left in the run, so I decided to save my last little sip of water for the Gu I was planning on taking around mile 9.

Did I even think to turn around at any point? No. Because I’m an idiot. I just thought I could “tough” it out until I made it back to the car where I had a water bottle stashed.

Big mistake.

As you can imagine, the lack of water began to get to me, and my pace continued to get slower and slower. Around mile 7.5 (my turn-around point), I realized that I couldn’t continue running, so I reverted to the Galloway method and tried to run 4 minutes and then walk 1 minutes. This ratio eventually reversed such that I was running 1 minute and then walking 4 minutes. I call it the Dehydrated Lindsay method. Don’t follow it anytime soon, my friends.

As the sun continued to beat down on me, I began to grow thirstier and thirstier, and I literally could not stop thinking about water. My mouth grew very dry, and it was at this point that I started to get upset. I was so frustrated with how this run was going. I felt terrible; I was disappointed with my slow pace; and I was so mad at myself for not listening to my body and turning around earlier to get more water.

I began to break down and cry, and for a few minutes, I wallowed in supreme self-pity. And with that pent-up emotion finally released, I forgave myself and focused on what I had to do. I had to get back to the car. I had to get water.

I tried running a few more times just because I thought it would help to get back to the car faster, but it just made me feel worse. I grew even more parched and weak whenever I broke into a jog. I quickly realized that it was becoming dangerous for me to continue doing anything more strenuous than a walk, so I just walked the rest of the way back to my car.

During the last half-mile of the “run,” I felt very faint, dizzy, and vaguely nauseous, so I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and getting back to the water in my car.

When I finally made it back to my car, I flopped into the passenger seat and chugged my water bottle. When I set it down, I realized that I was shaking. Literally shaking. I have no idea why, but it wasn’t pretty and it didn’t feel very good. I just sat in the passenger’s seat for the next 15 minutes, sipping at my water, blasting the air conditioning, and trying to calm down and feel “normal” again. As I’m sure you can tell, the run really took an emotional (and physical) toll on me.

Luckily, I feel like I learned a few things as a result of the run:

  1. Water is of the utmost importance. I am going to plan out my future long runs, so that I can loop back to the car several times and refill my water bottles. I will never again do such a lengthy out and back run without having some way of replenishing the water supply.
  2. I need to drink more water in the days before my long run. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t fully hydrated to begin the run, so I’m going to make it a priority to take a Nalgene bottle full of water with me wherever I roam. I’m still adjusting to Colorado’s arid climate, so proper hydration takes on even more importance when exercising in such a dry climate.
  3. I need to start my long runs earlier. By the end of my run, it was 90 degrees out. In order to avoid running in that kind of heat, I am going to work on getting up a couple hours earlier, so I can start and finish my runs in cooler air.
  4. It’s okay to walk if I need to. For some reason, I have always felt like walking on a run is a form of defeat. As though I am a failure for having resorted to walking….but I honestly think that walking saved my bacon today; and if my body demands that I walk on a future long run, I will listen to that urge and feel no shame.

Just for the record, I am feeling much better now. No need to send out an ambulance or anything. After drinking a ton of water throughout the day and eating some food, I’m a whole new woman! I’m even looking forward to my (well-hydrated) run tomorrow. Even though I had a terrible run today, I know that this run wasn’t an indicator of my failure as an athlete.

Quite the contrary.

In fact, I know that the lessons I learned from it will make me more prepared for my future long runs and ultimately the marathon itself. These lessons will make me an even better athlete than I was before.

Question: What kinds of lessons have you learned from your less-than-ideal workouts?

Zzzzzzzz……

Hello friends,

today was all about the Zzzzzzs. Or lack thereof. I think I might be reaching my physical threshold for overtraining. Ever since my hike on Saturday, I have felt absolutely dragged out and exhausted, and to make matters worse, I haven’t been sleeping terribly well either. Not a good combination.

I was supposed to run a measly three miler today, but I just couldn’t do it. My legs are still pooped from the hike, I felt groggy all day long, and I have a 15 miler looming tomorrow.

Instead of running, I took an hour nap….and my body thanked me.

A good life decision, if you ask me.

Sometimes, structured training requires flexibility and perhaps, even more so than flexibility, a willingness to really listen to your body and give it rest when it’s crying out for it.

A part of me was mildly annoyed with myself for skipping the run, but then the kinder, more rational side of my personality reassured the anal, type-A side that missing one run wasn’t going to mess everything up. If anything, it’ll just give me more energy for my run tomorrow.

That’s what I’m trying to tell myself anyway. And with that, I’m headed off to sleepy land. I’m hoping that my body will start feeling “normal” again sometime in the near future. I’m tired of feeling tired all the time!

Question: What are your best tips for combatting exhaustion? Have you ever experienced symptoms of overtraining?

Epic Music, Epic Spiciness

After my epic day of mountain climbing on Saturday, I had another epic day planned for Sunday. Epic in a completely different way.

I didn’t have to face cliffs or rocks or summits as I did during my mountain sojourn. No. This time, the enemies were smelly hippies, intense heat, and drunk high schoolers. In other words, I spent my Sunday at an all-day outdoor music festival, specifically the Mile High Music Festival in Denver!

A lot of people were getting their Rocky Mountain high on, if you catch my drift, and weren’t exactly in the right state of mind to realize where the heck they were stepping as they meandered through the crowds. Armed with sunscreen, chairs, blankets, water bottles, and some dark chocolate, my friend Heather and I were ready to defend our turf against all the crazies who happened to stumble upon our blanket.

Don’t we just look intimidating? Not. Maybe that’s why all the drunks liked to stumble by us on their way to go barf in a trashcan. We just look like the type of people that will get out of the way for them….and we certainly did. Neither of us are stupid enough to stand our ground when the drunkies are out and about. They could just as easily yak on your blanket as in the trashcan.

In addition to the smorgasbord of people watching, we might have also seen a few musical acts. Ya know. Because it is a music festival.

Train put on a solid set. I just loved hearing their songs Meet Virginia and Hey, Soul Sister live.

Weezer made a fantastic appearance too. Their frontman had the energy of 100 Energizer bunnies on crack. He was bouncing all over the place during their set, and his enthusiasm was infectious. The crowd (including myself) ate it up as they breezed through a bunch of their hits and a hilarious cover of Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.

The headliner and main event of the Mile High Music Festival was Dave Matthews Band, and they certainly did not disappoint. Their set was epic, sprawling (almost a bit too sprawling, to be honest….I grow weary of jams after they reach the 10 minutes mark), and perfectly suited for the Colorado crowds. Regardless, I enjoyed hearing the prodigious musical talents of the band’s members. Dave is a veritable guitar hero!

How, I wish I could have brought my DSLR to this event! My P + S just couldn’t hack it in this kind of lighting. Regardless, take my word on it. The little tiny guy in the black shirt in this pic is Dave.

All in all, it was a fantastic outing. Mile High magic for sure.

Now, don’t think that I’ve forgotten about the food. I know I have a tendency to drone on and on about mountains and Colorado and things of this nature, but not to worry. To go along with my kickin’ music festival action, I rocked a pretty epic meal today.

Enter: the spiciest green chili I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Now, I don’t go around throwing around the word “spicy” lightly. I adore spicy foods, and rarely is anything too spicy for me. If I was a lesser food champion, this chili might have been too much for my poor little tastebuds.

But I’m a food beast, and I definitely beasted this bowl of chili from King’s Chef, a little diner in downtown Colorado Springs well-renowned for the both the quality and the spiciness of their chili.

Doesn’t look like much from the outside, but this joint had some great food!

The entire dinner fit eight people tops. It was legitimate.

They love their green chiles here.🙂

Because few people have the cajones to finish off the whole bowl of habanero-infused green chili, I received a reward for my efforts: membership in the “King’s Chef Clean Plate Club.”

I was honored.

I wore my sticker proudly. You bet I did.

The chili may have left my lips red and swollen for a solid hour or two afterward, and I might not be able to taste anything ever again.

BUT… it was totally worth it to finish off that chili. Best bowl of green chili I’ve ever had.

Question: What’s the spiciest meal you’ve ever had?

Just Keep Climbing, Just Keep Climbing

At the moment, my hands are red and raw from clinging to rocks. My feet are tender, sore, and blistered from hiking down steep terrain for miles at a time (and I might end up losing a few toe nails…we’ll see). My entire body- from my shoulders to my core to my calves- aches like it never has before.

And yet, in spite of it all, I can truly say that yesterday was an amazing day.

Mt. Lindsey is my 34th 14er summit, and I can officially say that it was probably the hardest one I’ve ever done. I mean, just look at her north face. Could that be anything but difficult?

Steep, relentless, loose rock, exposure, generally grueling. Yet, at the same time, it was an empowering, exhilarating, and beautiful climb. Simultaneously butt-kicking and awe-inspiring. In other words, it was an amazing and memorable climb.

The day started off at 4:15AM when my dad and I arose from our slumber to make the drive down to the Sangre de Christo range of Colorado. After gathering on our things, we made the three hour drive to the trailhead. The last several miles were up a bumpy 4WD road common to the Colorado backcountry. We passed by some beautiful Aspen groves, one of my favorite sites in mountain forest regions.

Fun Aspen fact: an Aspen grove is a singe organism. The roots of all the trees are interconnected, and they are considered the largest single organisms in the world. Pretty cool, right?

By 8:00 or so, we had finally launched ourselves from the trailhead. Within minutes, we were treated with this view of the Huerfano valley.

Can you say gorgeous?

Because my dad and I are navigationally-challenged, we accidentally missed the turn-off for the Mt. Lindsey trail and ended up charging onward into some random, swampy drainage area on the Huerfano trail (to be fair, there wasn’t exactly a sign indicating where the trail turn-off was). Oooops….we wasted about an hour and added a couple of needless miles to our roundtrip totals. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Luckily, the weather held for us all day, so this accidental detour didn’t ruin our summit bid. It just made our feet and legs more tired by the end of the day.

We ended up at this creek crossing and had to do some nifty balance work to make it across the logs.

After the creek crossing, the Lindsey trail began to get down to business. It climbed relentlessly steep terrain through the trees until finally reaching timberline at about 11,5000′ or so. Here, we enjoyed our first glimpses of Lindsey poking above the ridgeline.

After crossing across an alpine meadow, we had to deal with more of the steeps. At this point, my legs were screaming, my heart was pounding, and my brow was pouring sweat, but I persevered and eventually made it to the Lindsey ridge. Wooohooo!

Once on the ridge, my dad and I were blasted with wind gusts that nearly knocked us over. This, in conjunction with the imposing site of Lindsey’s upper terrain, made for a nerve-wracking arrival onto the ridge. My dad was a bit spooked by the site of Lindsey’s upper flanks, so we decided to abandon the idea of a ridge climb in favor of the “standard” route up the north face gully seen in the picture below (it’s the light grey terrain in the middle of the mountain). At this point, we decided it would be a wise idea to don our helmets. Protecting the cranium is always key in situations where rockfall is a possibility.

After traversing a climber’s trail to the base of the gully (aka. the gully from hell), we dealt with a lot of loose, steep rock as we scrambled our way to the top of the gully. It wasn’t exactly pleasant (loose rock really puts you on edge because you have to test and re-test virtually every single handhold and foothold you place your weight on). This is my dad at the base of the gully.

To avoid the loose scree, my dad and I stayed on the right hand side of the gully where the rock tended to be less loose and a little better for scrambling.

After repeatedly singing my motivational “Just Keep Climbing” motto (as adapted from Finding Nemo), we reached the upper ridge where the rock FINALLY became stable and solid. Here, we enjoyed a fun and easy rock hop to the first false summit. I was so glad to finally have stable rock below my feet!

From the false summit, we enjoyed a nifty 1/4 mile ridge walk to the real summit.

Around 1:00 PM, my dad and I finally reached the summit. A whopping five hours after we started!

Summit victory pose!

We signed the summit register….

….and I quickly got down to some important business: FOOD CONSUMPTION! It was summit sandwich time!

This time, I chose a simple turkey, mustard, and swiss sandwich stuffed into a whole wheat Ezekiel pita. Sounds boring, but it wasn’t. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever had (okay, that might be stretching it, but it was just what I needed to replenish my lost electrolytes and fuel up for the descent). Perfectly salty, chewy, and amazing. I swear to god, sandwiches just taste better when you’re on a mountain. Also, don’t mind the crazy hair or the awkward mark on my forehead from the climbing helmet. It’s my “crazy mountain lady” look.

The summit views were amazing, as always. Here, I’m pointing to another 14er in the Sangre range called Blanca Peak.

My dad was happy to reach the top, not that you can tell from this picture. He was a bit rattled by the climb. We had some route-finding issues toward the top of the gully that would do a number on anyone’s nerves.

After spending 15 minutes relaxing and chatting with other climbers (another of whom was named Lindsay!), we started the equally nerve-wracking descent downward. Getting down from the evil gully was the worst part, by far. Bottom line: loose and steep rock is the devil. Argh!

Here are some more pictures from the remainder of the climb:

After falling on my butt, cursing the mountain, navigating boulder fields, and descending endless miles of quad-destroying terrain, we finally arrived back at the trailhead after 8.5 hours and 10+ miles of hiking. Arriving back at the car was a beautiful thing….it practically brought tears to my eyes.

Someone once wrote on one of my favorite climbing websites that there are two main highlights when climbing a mountain: 1) your arrival at the summit, and 2) the return to the car. I am in complete agreement with this statement.

My dad and I then drove back home through some of the serene ranching areas in southwestern Colorado. A beautiful sight to see after a long day of climbing.

Mt. Lindsey is a climb that I will always remember for both the physical and mental challenge of the terrain. As tough as it was, I loved every second of the climb….even the moments in which I was clinging uncomfortably to the side of a mountain at 14,000 feet above sea level.

What can I say? I’m a mountain goat. I actually enjoy clinging to mountain faces….:)

For now, I’m going to attempt to stretch out my SORE muscles. I swear, hiking 14ers is the best workout there is. As much as I enjoy running, mountain climbing works your entire body in a way that running doesn’t. My arms, core, and legs are all equally sore.

And I must say, I love that feeling. I love hiking. I love 14ers.

I can’t wait for the next one….

Going Climbing!!!!

Hello friends, just a quick check-in before I head off to bed…

Finally, after what feels like many moons of eager anticipation, I’m heading up to the mountains to hike a 14er (Colorado-speak for a mountain over 14,000 feet in elevation) tomorrow!!!!!!!!!

If successful, it’ll be my 34th 14er summit.

I’m climbing this bad girl of the Colorado Rockies….my namesake mountain and one I’ve been hoping to climb for some time now:

Mt. Lindsey: 14, 042 ft

Isn’t she elegant? And sorta scary-looking? Let’s just hope she’s not a bitch.

I’ll be back with a full report later on tomorrow evening!