Monday, October 26, 2015

vegan butternut squash and sweet potato "mac & cheese"

So the one thing that I was sure that I was going to miss as a vegan was CHEESE!! I loved cheese :(  Then I discovered the magic of cashew cream, and the fact that I could turn nutritious veggies into cream sauces!!  I have now learned to make Alfredo sauce, rosé sauce, and various “cheese” sauces without ever touching EVIL DAIRY! 

1 medium butternut squash, diced (about 2.5 cups)
1 medium sweet potato, diced (about 1.5 cups)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, miced
2 portobello mushrooms, diced
handfull grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup of raw cashews (soaked in warm water)
1 tbs red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast (more for finishing)
Pasta of choice (I used boxed pasta)
2tbs olive oil- divided

** optional ingredients: seitan

Preheat oven to 400
Toss diced butternut squash and sweet potato in 1tbs olive oil and dash of salt and pepper
Spread squash and potato evenly over baking sheet
Cook for about 30mins (or until soft)
Remove from oven and let cool for about 15mins

Heat 1tbs of oil over medium- low heat in a deep pan
Add onion, sprinkle salt over onions
Cook, stirring frequently until translucent
Add garlic, portobello and tomatoes to pan
Continue to stir frequently, you want to Portobello to become soft

While the above is cooking:
Drain and rinse cashews
Place into high speed blender
Pulse until smooth
If you have chunks, you can add a touch of water or unsweetened almond milk to get a creamy consistency
Place cashew cream in bowl aside

When your butternut squash sweet potato has slightly cooled, add to high-speed blender
Pulse until smooth and creamy
Add your cashew cream, pulse another few times
Add red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, 1tsp salt and 1tsp pepper (you can add more if you like)

Pour your cream sauce over the cooked onion/porto mixture, reduce heat to low and cover.

Cook your pasta, drain and rinse!  Return pasta to pot, and pour the sauce over top! Fold together!  Add more nutritional yeast if needed, also check salt and pepper for taste.

** I often end by adding fresh herbs (cilantro or basil), or I fold in baby spinach or vegan cheese (just a touch!)


Friday, October 23, 2015

Virgil Crest 100 - 1st place female, 2nd place overall!!!

Ok, so I have had a month to reflect on Virgil Crest 100 and I’m still in shock and disbelief about how it all unfolded. My first race since going vegan!!! Yaaaahooooooo! 

First off, I should say the reason why I signed up for Virgil Crest 100:
I suck at hills… I hate hills… climbing mountains sucks!
So I decided to sign up for a race that I knew would force me to work on my greatest weakness.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this.

Virgil Crest 100: over 48,000ft of elevation change, over 24,000ft of climbing!!
~ it was definitely out of my comfort zone

One of the hardest things about the race was the fact that my parents could not be there to support me. My dad was fighting his own personal health battle, so I made sure he would be with me every step of the way.

Race Morning

I had an awesome sleep and woke up easily at 3:50am.  Corey prepared my coffee and pre-race bagel (with natural PB and banana).  My nerves were through the roof, so I couldn’t eat more than half the bagel :(  Oh well, what can you do!??!

We were very lucky to score a condo 1 mile from the start line, so we weren’t in any rush to get out the door!

I arrived at the start line at approximately 5:40am and immediately felt the nervous energy around me.  For those who don’t know, I am perhaps the most nervous person on the face of the earth, so being around 100s of other nervous runners only made things worse! UGH! Immediately I was consumed by negative thoughts and doubt.  What the hell was I doing?!?! I hate hills!!! Virgil is nothing but hills!!!  This was a stupid move, I shouldn’t be here, but there wasn’t much I could do about it now.

0-25 miles

The RD Ian Golden counted down for the start of the 50 and 100 mile races, and before I could run away screaming in the other direction we were off!!   I told myself “start slow, you KNOW what’s coming”.  I was reminding myself of a section called “the Hurt Locker”, it is a brutal series of steep climbs up and down ski hills.  It was what I thought would be my greatest challenge… funny that it actually became my greatest strength!

The first section of the race was 10km, and it just flew by! I had a blast running on beautiful, single-track through the darkness.  My legs felt fresh and my attitude was very positive.  When I arrived at the 1st Aid Station my crew (Corey, Michelle and Anatoly) changed out my bottle, stuffed gels into my pocket and forced me to eat a bite of a Thoz Bar.

The next section took us up s a few steady climbs and into more amazing technical single-tack!  I LOVED this section!!  I felt like I could bound over rocks, and roots like I was weightless.  I seriously lost track of time on this section… well, until the horrible road section! BLAH! Nothing worse than bounding through enchanting trails, only to come out to a LONG road stretch! Luckily it was all downhill, well, until the way back! (this is a double out and back course).  Again, I came into the Aid Station and my Nascar PitCrew had me out in a minute.

Having way too much fun!

The next section was new, so I had no idea what to expect!  (It had changed from the previous year)  I thought to myself “it can’t possibly be harder than last year”… I WAS WRONG!! SO VERY WRONG!!!  The RD had to re-route the course through this section, and we were met with climb after climb after climb… and oh, so more climbing! And not your usual trail climbs.  These were mini-goat trails that seemed to climb forever! Slippery, technical and so FREAKING CHALLENGING! Oddly enough I LOVED THEM!!  I kept a constant steady grind going on the uphills and noticed that my steady effort was really paying off! I was passing guys on uphills!! This made me smile!

Then came my nemesis: the ski hills!!! I kept the same approach, slow consistent climbing.  No breaks, no bitching, just forward progress.  Again, I was passing guys on the uphills!!! What the heck was going on?!?! I knew I wasn’t pushing too much, I felt great. Maybe I don’t suck at climbing as much as I thought! TALK ABOUT A MAJOR MENTAL BREAKTHROUGH!

I came into the Trailsroc Aid Station feeling accomplished and very proud!

The final section of this first out was my favourite section.  I felt like I could really get a rhythm going.  I saw some of my great ultra running friends who were doing the 50 miler on their way back after the turnaround.  Cole Crosby was killing it, moving effortlessly as usual,  Jim Blandford, who is such an inspiration to me, and Kristina Folcik-Welts who has the most contagious energy and positivity!   Seeing them made me want to push just a little bit more.

On my way back, I got into the zone, and really dialed into myself.  I ran pretty effortlessly, and made sure to keep my breathing steady.

My crew was on-point with my nutrition and I knew my calories and hydration were bang on!

Now because the 50 and 100 start at the same time, I had absolutely NO CLUE where I was in the standings.  I knew that only Kristina was ahead of me for women in the 50M (I passed the 2nd and 3rd place women in the 50M on my way back to the start/finish), but aside from that I didn’t really know who was ahead of me.

When I came into the 50M turnaround Corey told me “you’re in a 3-way tie for 1st!!!” WHAT?!?!?!!? NO WAY!! The lead men were at the turnaround when I arrived!

My pacer Anatoly jumped in, he was a man on a mission! He said to me “let’s go, no wasting time!”  WE WERE OFF!!!

As we passed one of men (Scotie Jacobs) on our way out his pacer (my friend Ryan Welts) said to me “now you’re the one who has to look over their shoulder!”  I didn’t think anything of it at the time and I kinda laughed it off as completely insane, but this would turn out to be very true.  I simply figured that eventually the lead men would pass me…  Scotie is one hell of a runner (he beat me in 2014 in the 50k).

I will spare you all the details of the next 25 miles, all that needs to be said is: when you have a Russian pacer, expect him to push you FAR BEYOND YOUR LIMITS!! Anatoly was amazing, he was also unrelenting.  He knew what I was capable of, and truly pushed me!  He didn’t baby me, or give into my moments of weakness. Instead, he called me on my BS and reminded me to find my strength.  He truly believed in me! We laughed, we had great conversation, I cried (sometimes), and he yelled at me.  He was truly a phenomenal pacer and friend! THANK YOU ANATOLY!!! I OWE YOU!! And I plan on returning the favour when you run ES100 in 2016 ;) muhahahaha!

Oh, if you haven’t heard about Virgil: it always rains! And we weren’t spared of that.  We were lucky that we had pretty decent weather during the day…BUT THEN: MONSOON force rain overnight.  I have NEVER witnessed rain like this.  I’m pretty sure I was swimming through an ocean at some points!  It was INSANE!  People always talk about Haliburton 2012 and the rain there, well THAT WAS NOTHING!  I was freezing, soaked to the bone and miserable.  My feet were destroyed!  Anatoly and I laughed it off as much as we could, and Corey reminded me at the aid stations “you run well in the rain”… this is true, but this wasn’t “rain”, this was seriously some form of natural disaster!! SPLISH SPLASH!!

The out and back course provided us with the opportunity to see where the other lead guys were at the 75M turnaround.  Gary Twoey had about 30 mins on me, and was looking so strong! When he and I passed on the trail I seriously gained so much strength from seeing his energy! What an amazing runner! 

After the turnaround we saw Scotie about 1km (2km total) back from me.  It didn’t really phase me much, cause I was really trying to just focus on my race.  HOWEVER, seeing how close he was ignited something in Anatoly, and he then became my pacer-dictator-slave driver!  NO MORE MR. NICE GUY!

HOLY CRAP!! I have never been pushed that hard in my life!  The way back certainly had its challenges, but Anatoly, Michelle and Corey were there to keep me moving and keep me positive.  My legs, knees, hips and glutes were completely destoyed from the non-stop ups and downs, yet somehow I kept running.  Maybe it was my desire to not let ANYONE pass me, or maybe it was Anatoly yelling at me to “run faster”, but something was ignited inside of me, and I wasn’t going to stop fighting!

The last 10k was brutal! Everything hurt! Anatoly would not let me slow down.  As we emerged from the trails and entered the last LONG stretch around Hope Lake Park I started to cry, partly because I was so happy to be done, but mainly because I was so damn proud of myself!  I could hear Corey and Michelle cheering for me from across the lake, and this helped to pull me towards the finish.

1st place female, 2nd place overall : 24:52!!!

A huge thank you to my amazing crew and pacer:
Corey:  my awesome husband.  You are my world, my biggest supporter and the best crew-captain a girl could ask for.  Thanks for always believing in me!
Michelle: You are a true friend and such an amazing person! I can’t wait to pace you next year!!
Anatoly:  words can not express how thankful I am for your friendship! here’s to many more adventures together!

Michelle, Me, Corey and Anatoly

Thanks to my sponsors:
Nike (shoes: Terra Kiger 3s, clothing: Epic Run Luxe shorts, Breeze tank and Nike Trail trucker hat)
Orange Mud (HydraQuiver Single Barrel)
Julbo (Race Sunglasses)
Bellefleur Physiotherapy
Thoz Barz
GU Energy Labs (gels consumed: far too many!)
Drymax Socks (Trail lite ¼ crew)
CW-X Compression

Friday, August 28, 2015

Physio and Massage!! SO IMPORTANT!!

I have received a ton of questions lately about what I do to take care of my body between training sessions.  On top of your regular stretching, rolling and mobility work I have regular appointments with my physio and massage therapists!

I can't stress how important physio and massage are for athletes, not just for injury treatment, but for week-to-week maintenance.

Many of my athletes and friends have asked me lately for recommendations for both Physio and Massage Therapy, so here they are:

 So many reasons why I love Bellefleur Physio... where to begin?!?!  The clinic is beautiful, and welcoming.  You are not forced into a giant room with multiple beds (like some clinics in Ottawa), instead you get your own private treatment room. 
The staff are AMAZING!!! Jason, Dave and Danielle truly take their time in getting to know their patients, and I have never once felt like they were rushed during my treatments.  They are all very knowledgeable and offer a very wide variety of techniques and treatments (Graston and Dry Needling being my favs)
I highly recommend getting into see them if you are a runner!! They understand what it takes to train, and can really help keep your body working at its optimal level. 
Did I mention that they have won multiple awards!??!  Ya, they're just that good :)


Again, almost too many amazing things to say about the team at Core Elements!!  I have been seeing Dawn and Celeste for almost 4 years now (after some failed attempts with other massage treatments  in the past).  Dawn and Celeste (and the rest of the team - My hubby has seen Nicole and Shannon) understand runners unique needs and exactly what muscles may need some extra attention.

Dawn (who is also the owner) has gone above and beyond with the clinic to ensure the highest level of treatment and service.  

Massage has made a huge difference in my training, recovery and racing!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Finger Lakes 50M: 1st place!!!

WOW, where to start?!?! I'm still in complete shock over how this race unfolded and how the day ended up! :)  What an amazing race! Finger Lakes is so well organized from start to finish, with amazing volunteers, aid stations, participants and a fabulous Race Director!

So let me take you back to why I signed up for this race... I wanted a race that was tough, muddy and would prepare me mentally for some of my upcoming races.  I had heard about Finger Lakes 50s a while back, and heard how the course was often "a complete mud-fest"... SOUNDED GOOD TO ME!

Well, in the days leading up to the race IT RAINED! and the forecast called for MORE RAIN... I enjoy mud to a point, but ONLY to a point.  I knew that this was going to be a tough one!  The worst part was that they were calling for thunderstorms, which made me nervous.  There are a lot of open cow pastures that we had to run across and I was scared to death about lightening! Oh well, not much I could do about it.

We arrived at our hotel only to learn that there was no kitchenette AND NO TOASTER!! (Anyone that knows me, knows that I actually have a "race toaster" that I bring to races that I know there won't be one in the room).  I am a creature of habit, so what did I do? I went and bought a 2nd "race toaster", my mind was at ease, I could have my bagel! DISASTER AVERTED!

We woke up at 4:00am to the lovely soothing sound of... you guessed it... RAIN! OH YAY! UGH!!

Before the race I started to think about all the great women I have been inspired by lately, my coach Ann Trason, Sally McRae, Kaci Lickteig, just to name a few.... I was ready to rock!

The hard part about this race is that the 50k and 50M all start together, and there's no way to know who's doing which race.  The gun (or actually the horn) went off, and people FLEW down the first section.  I tucked myself in just behind the lead pack of men and started running a very comfortable pace.  Soon I was running with another great female runner Nora McIver-Sheridan, she was awesome! She was doing her 1st 50k race, and was a blast to run with (she was speedy... and ended up winning the 50k, yaaaay Nora!!)

So what was the condition of the course you ask??? Well, there was MUD, some more MUD and MUD on top of MUD! 
This was actually an "ok" part of the course

There were many sections of the course where the mud and water was knee-deep, a true shoe-sucking course.  Bloody awful!! (and i loved it!)

The course isn't super hilly, but it is technical and has non-stop rollers.  The first loop flew by so fast, it was incredible! My legs felt fabulous, and I was in such a good place mentally.  I remember coming through the first 26k split and saying to the RD Steve Shaum "Oh, I'm definitely doing the 50M, this is awesome!"

As the day progress the course just kept getting worse! The mud sections became deeper and longer and the water-logged sections got WAAAAY worse.  But it really didn't bother me, I knew I was running strong.  At one point I passed 2 guys that were running together, and they said "you're running strong, are you in the 50k?"  I replied "Nope, 50 mile"... in my head I thought "yup, you just got chicked!"

On the 3rd loop Corey jumped in with me to pace me (he needed to get a run in anyway, so it worked out perfectly).  Corey kept me moving (often faster than I would've liked) and he encouraged me to "keep moving" when the mud started to REALLY PISS ME OFF! He would say to me "you're tougher than the pain".  I don't remember how many men I passed on my last loop, but it was a lot!!

Now, don't get me wrong, the race wasn't all sunshine and rainbows! I had some really low points where my hips were screaming at me, and my legs were slipping and sliding through the mud. I took one really nasty fall and ended up banging up my knee pretty badly.  BUT I didn't let it get me down, I just kept pushing forward.  I kept saying to myself  "channel your inner-Ann", and it worked! Man-oh-man does she inspire me!!! 

I crossed the finish line 1st place female, 7th overall and 1hour and 32 minutes ahead of the 2nd place female!  I got the most amazing trophy (a GIANT cow), a growler of local Pale Ale, a pint glass, and a fleece jacket!  

Awesome Cow Trophy! (we ran through cow pastures!!)

I met some truly amazing people during this race including Kevin Hartstein and Nancy Kleinrock!  I also learned a lot about how much suffering I can endure with a positive attitude.  I also learned that Corey truly believes in me, and only pushes me because he knows I can take it (thanks babe). 

Corey and I 
Andrew Simpson and I

My now "retired" Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 2s

Just a weeeee bit muddy

Top 15

Thanks Drymax - NO BLISTERS!!

 A HUGE thank you to my parents and Corey for crewing for me during the day and making sure that my nutrition was on-point!

I want to thank my amazing coach Ann Trason for making sure I was 100% prepared for this race.  Ann is caring, passionate and so motivating!!  We went into this race with the plan to run it as a training run for my upcoming races, and I did just that! I felt strong all day, and really learned what i need to do for the rest of the season.  Without Ann's guidance I don't know if this would've been possible!

A shoutout to Dave Bellefleur of Bellefleur Physiotheraphy and Celeste Constantineau of Orleans Core Elements Massage for getting me race-ready!

Thanks to my amazing sponsors for their support!!
Drymax socks 
Orange Mud 
Thoz Barz
Julbo Eyewear
GU Energy Labs
CWX Conditioning Wear


Saturday, February 14, 2015

New Sponsorship: Bellefleur Physiotherapy

I couldn't be more thrilled to announce my newest sponsorship: Bellefleur Physiotherapy !!!

There are many reasons why I'm BEYOND excited about this:
#1 - I put my body through hell, and need to be sure I am taking all the steps necessary to care for it (dry needling is my personal fav treatment for muscle knots and sore spots)

#2:  Bellefleur's owners/physios are community leaders, and deeply involved with the Orleans communtiy (something that is very important to me)

#3 Did I mention that they are award winning physiotherapists?!?! Voted Health Care Professional of the Year and Business Person of the Year!!

#4 Their clinic is NOT your usual physio clinic with rows of beds, and impersonal treatment!  They pride themselves on a more personal touch, with beautiful private treatment facilities.

Meet Dave and Jason Bellefleur, and please check them out online

It's caring professionals like this that make me want to train harder and push myself even further!  I have no doubt that 2015 will be an amazing year, with them keeping my body working at its optimal fitness level!!


And to all my athletes who read this, remember that I always stress the importance of caring for our bodies! Don't wait for an injury to see a physio!! See them for maintenance and care of those muscles and tight spots (hips, glutes, knees, ITB and back to name a few!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Race Added!!

In addition to my previously posted race lineup, I have added one more 100 miler in November!! The course is fast, and has been the site of some wicked-fast 100 mile times.  I'm stoked to have a fast race after my extremely mountainous season!!

Stay tuned for more info, wooooohoooo!!!