Monday, August 18, 2014

I Quit Sugar - 8 Week Wrap Up

I'm embarrassed to say how long this post has taken me to write. I pretty much went off the blog grid post Ragnar…life has been super busy with some changes (cryptic I know…I will share eventually) ahead so blogging just didn't enter my mind. BUT, I really wanted to get this recap up before I forgot about it all!

I Quit Sugar
Week 1
Week 2
Reading Food Labels - SUGAR 
Week 3
Week 4 
Week 5

Yeah yeah I know I didn't do a week 6, 7 or even 8 week recap, but they would have all been the same and really it was about slowly adding back in low sugar fruits and adjusting to a new normal way of eating for me and it went really well!

In our week 8 weekend read we got a little recap of the program so I thought I would summarize that and my thoughts on each week to bring everything together:

Week One - This was all about identifying fructose and why it is bad for us.  I had a pretty good handle on this before starting this program but it was good to hear everything again and be given more resources to read when I wanted.  I summarized why fructose is bad in my I Quit Sugar post.

Favorite recipe: Paleo veggie bread (still make this ALL the time) with avocado-feta smash
Not so favorite recipe: Berry omelet…eggs and fruit…didn't work for me :)

Week Two - The beginning of quitting ALL sugar for a few weeks to reset our bodies and remove the addictive nature of sugar from the brain essentially.  The message for week two was to eat more FAT. I have no problem doing this and instead of dessert after dinner now I usually have a few pieces of cheese. 

Favorite recipe: Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie
Not so favorite recipe: The cauliflower fried rice, EWW and unfortunately most of this went in the trash.

Week Three - Still no sugar of any kind and we learned how to read labels.  What ever you got out of this process was really up to you and I really used this time to educate myself on the effects of sugar and how quitting for life would be a new lifestyle for me.  Seeing the amount of sugar in products I used to consume on a daily basis (uh…Luna Bars and Picky Bars) was pretty eye opening, but now I just no longer eat them, simple!

Favorite recipe: Quinoa porridge
Not so favorite recipe: NONE really, I really enjoyed everything I ate in week 3.

Week Four - This was clean week meaning no alcohol, caffeine or gluten for just 5 days. Since I knew quitting caffeine would just make me a crazy person I decided to not cut that out, especially since it was just 5 days.  I did pretty well this week and didn't think it was too different from the other weeks since the program is pretty gluten-free as it is and I'm not a big drinker anyways.

Favorite recipe: Sweet potato salmon cakes
Not so favorite recipe: I can't remember anything I didn't like this week either!

Week Five - The last week of absolutely no sweeteners or sugar! During week 5 we were given some tactics to deal with the skeptics we may come along when describing the program.  Really I don't have a problem saying it's pure science people…your body cannot and does not process fructose in a way that is healthy.  If you want to eat mass quantities of it be my guest, but it's not for me anymore. If you want to discuss more happy to do so, just no judging please :).

Yumm yumm granola!

Favorite recipe: My take on Cocco-nutty granola that takes out the nuts and adds oats.  I still make this every other week…sooo delicious!
Not so favorite recipe: Not a recipe but stuffing my face with fried food and beer while on a mini vaca…it was my first taste of what my body does when it doesn't like what I put it into it after being on this program, lesson learned!

Week's 6-8 - The last three weeks of the program were about introducing small amounts of sugar and non-fructose sweeteners (brown rice syrup and stevia) into our diets. The goal is to ALWAYS stay under about 25 grams of sugar per day and this is something I plan on continuing for life.  I used these weeks try making my own meal plans, eating out, and just finding the right balance.

Recent eats have included the best birthday lunch ever of kale salad with garbanzo beans and parmesan cheese with a side of kombucha, sweet potato post with chicken and green beans, and mac and cheese with chicken jalapeño sausage and sautéed mushrooms and spinach (grown up mac as I like to call it).

So what sugar do I eat? I have to admit, happily, my sweet tooth is literally gone so I don't crave it much anymore.  However, low fructose fruits like raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries have been making a regular occurrence in yogurt or just as a snack.  A co-worker has been bringing in bags of blueberries from his garden and my work campus is overloaded with blackberries!  Aside from berries I've been enjoying a few squares of dark (85% cacao or higher) chocolate on occasion and not stressing as much about the sugar content of bread or other condiments with I'm out to eat.

How to I feel after all of this? In a nutshell I feel NORMAL again.  I don't think I even remembered what normal felt like as I've been dealing with stomach issues since I was literally a small kid…just ask my parents…they have stories :).  I didn't loose any weight, but my weight remained CONSTANT, I never felt bloated or run down, and things just moved through my system in a normal way…if you know what I'm saying ;).

The I Quit Sugar program has truly opened my eyes to how much sugar we eat, where sugar is hiding and how great you can feel if you just don't eat it.  I've been able to eat as much gluten and dairy as I want (something I didn't think I could do before) without feeling sick and can still enjoy a glass of wine (or 2 or 3) and chocolate when I want as well.

Join me for the next 8- week program!

I CANNOT recommend this program enough. For the roughly $150 bucks you get amazing meal plans, amazing support on the forums and access to experts and information in a very easy to digest and understand format.  I was lucky enough to be asked back to be an ambassador for their next 8-week program beginning on September 25 so if you sign up I'll be in the forums to help you out.

If you have any questions about the program just ask! If you sign up be sure to let me know…it's always more fun to go through programs like these with someone.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage

So after recovering and thinking about this past weekend for a few days I decided I don't want to draw out a 3 or 4 part recap and I'm just going to shove it all in one super long blog post…so get ready!  Plus, you really only need to hear MY recap, you can go read my teammates blogs for their recaps:

This was my second year doing Ragnar ultra style and my 6th year running the Northwest Passage race. This course NEVER gets old and I got to run on some new ground this year due to our kind of complicated running schedule.  Nicole manipulated an excel spreadsheet so each of us ran 4 times and that we all got our longest run over with in the beginning of the relay. I ended up covering 35.1 miles over the course which included long gradual uphills on major roads that oil tankers speed by on, long flat river winding roads, running over deception pass, and one super duper long downhill to finish off the 35.1 miles <---you could think that would be glorious but after that many miles the pounding on the road from the downhill did not feel pleasant!  #runnerproblems I know ;)

Start line jump pic!
Team Six Pack With Racks (#199) started at 9AM Friday morning and began the long journey towards Langley on Whidbey Island full of excitement, some nerves, and a van FULL of food, water, and Nuun!

Run #1 - 12.1 miles (started at 11AM Friday) - 2:01:13 - 10:00 pace
My first run was leg 3 and 4 of the course and while the elevation chart may look intimidating it's pretty gradual and rolling really not as hard as it looks.  It was HOT and a bit humid during this run and for most of it you are running on the shoulder of a major road that oil tankers drive down…meaning you get all kinds of road dirt on you.  

Off I go!
I consistently ran about 10:00 miles (my goal!) and ran through the first exchange a little after 8 miles in and received a quick water refill from my teammates. I felt strong the whole way and the last few miles were slightly downhill so that was nice.  I handed off to Marilyn just outside of Bellingham, chugged some coconut water, ate a sandwich and wiped all the road dirt off of me...I felt like a new woman after all of that :).
Coming in to handoff to Marilyn. Ragnar has FREE race photos BTW, just one more reason they are awesome!

Unfortunately, my body did not recover property and I started to get a headache after this run that kind of ruined the rest of Friday. I managed to still cheer for my teammates, but the small headache turned into a light migraine and I got increasingly nervous I would be miserable running my next run.  I stayed super hydrated, caffeinated, and made sure to eat properly but nothing was really working :(.

Myself, Robyn, Travis, Nicole and Jordanne at the Bellingham High exchange

#teamlauren at at exchange! It was run running into Oiselle's Birdmachine team!

Run #2 - 10.66 miles (started about 9PM Friday) - 1:47:27 - 10:05 pace

These miles covered leg 15 and 16 and took our team south through Mount Vernon on very FLAT road.  I decided to listen to podcasts to try and get my mind off my headache and just hoped that running magically cured my migraine.  GOOD kind of did. My head didn't hurt during the run and I just got in a groove and ticked away the miles.  I ran by a lot of farms and saw cows and alpacas sleeping and only heard a couple of scary rustling in the bushes next to me.  Oh and it rained...the rain started just as I started running and was basically a drizzle storm for the first 5-6 miles.  Luckily, it felt nice since it was so humid out and once it stopped I ran enough after to dry off.

After I handed off to Marilyn, I got dry and settled into one of the van seats to try and just close my eyes to kick the rest of my migraine out of my head for good.  I may have slept for about 30 minutes but remaining vertical for about an hour helped.  As most of us (who weren't running of course) tried to sleep a bit Travis (van driver and husband extraordinaire to Marilyn) made sure the next runner got to the exchange and picked up the one coming in...he rocked!  I ended up having a very life changing cup of coffee at a gas station around 3AM and felt totally cured of my headache!

Run #3 - 6.44 miles (started about 5AM Saturday) - 1:03:56 - 9:56 pace
I was pretty excited about this leg. It was leg 23 over Deception Pass and it felt so awesome to not only run over this beautiful bridge, but be the one who took my team from the "mainland" to Whidbey Island.  
Deception Pass selfie
After I ran over the bridge it started raining pretty hard and then the wind came and I started to get a little pissed that I drew the major short end of the stick when it came to running in the rain.  I don't mind the rain but when you add the wind I just got too cold.  I ran the last couple of miles as fast as I could so I could just get dry and warm again.  Poor Marilyn had to run in the rain for the first part of her run but I think it stopped shortly after.  My legs were actually hurting pretty bad at this point in the relay and I had some hip pain that was making me a little nervous.  Add to that 3 blisters forming from running with wet socks and I was turning into a mess.  BUT, the fact that I only had 5.7 miles left left me very hopeful that I would complete all my miles relatively unscathed.  
Run #4 - 5.86 miles (started about 1PM Saturday) - 57:50:70 - 9:54 pace
As I took off on my last run I'm pretty sure I had a smile on my face the whole time.  It didn't matter that my hip was hurting, my blisters were rubbing on my toes, or that I nauseous from no sleep...nothing was stopping me from running these last miles as fast as I could.  The majority of this run, leg 32, was downhill and while normally I would love that it made the pounding on my very tired body a bit more painful.
Funny how I really thought I was sprinting to the finish, but this photo makes me look like a snail...haha!
Handing off to Marilyn for the last time was the best feeling in the world and knowing I ran every single one of those 35.1 miles as strong as I could made the sense of accomplishment that much more gratifying!
I took my last Shower Pill shower and got ready to watch Bethany bring it all home for us!!
Come on Bethany!
And just like that, a little over 32 hours after we started we crossed the finish line together and wrapped up an amazing 196 mile journey full of laughs, new friendships, a little bit of pain, but mostly a huge sense of accomplishment as a team.

And then we ate pizza!

 I've said it before and I'll say it again...the best thing about Ragnar is that is takes a normally very individualized sport and turns it into a team sport.  Sometimes the most memorable moments from the whole experience don't happen while running...they may happen while just driving along in the van and learning one of your teammates brothers is a New Kids on the Block member ( is TRUE!), sharing upcoming new life changes with each other (cryptic I know!), and planning the next relay only minutes after finishing this one.

Every single year I've run this race I haven't known one or more of my teammates beforehand and every single year I end the weekend with new friendships, lasting memories, and a huge smile on my face. Thank you Robyn, Marilyn, Nicole, Jordanne, Bethany and Travis for making the weekend one for the record books!

QUESTION: Who is already excited for 2015 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage?


I Quit Sugar Update:

Okay, I'm done being sappy...just a quick I Quit Sugar update for you all if you are curious. Next week is the final week of the program and the past two weeks I've really just focused on making no sugar part of my life now. I successfully navigated Ragnar without sugar and even without running fuel (minus Nuun of course...that is as necessary as blood!) and am confident that eliminating sugar from my diet is definitely the life for me.  I plan on posting a week 6, 7, 8 recap at the end so stay tuned. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Six Pack With Racks Success

I plan on posting a recap or two or three soon but I just have to post some photos real quick and say what an amazing experience this was.  Even though it was my second year on an ultra Ragnar team, I didn't feel any less nervous about running 35.1 miles over this past weekend and sitting on my couch tonight I still can't quite believe what my team accomplished this weekend. 

Things weren't always pretty and I battled a migraine, blisters, some pretty intense hip pain and running in heat and pouring rain...but I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.  As I powered through my last mile on Whidbey Island on Saturday afternoon I couldn't help but smile at the amazing accomplishment and be thankful that I am even able to endure an adventure like Ragnar! Being able to share it with 5 other amazing ladies and 1 insanely supportive driver was the best part and I couldn't have done it without each one of them.

Robyn, me, Marilyn, Nicole, Jordanne, and Bethany!

Team Six Pack With Racks finished Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage in 32 hours, 17 minutes!

This experience was even more memorable being an ambassador for both Nuun and Ragnar.  Nuun kept myself and my team hydrated, caffeinated, and energized throughout the whole relay and Ragnar put on yet again a flawless event.  They had more teams than ever this year but you would have never known...more port-o-potties, larger exchanges, and amazing volunteers made everything run seamlessly!

Part of my team reppin Nuun and Ragnar!  Sorry your head got cut off Travis :)
As we rode the ferry home on Saturday evening we brainstormed our next relay and even creating our own cross country relay (craziness I know!) and sang "for he's a jolly good fellow" to our driver all I thought was that I never wanted this feeling of accomplishment, friendship and fun to end!

For now I'll just have to re-live the experience with photos, memories, texts and tweets from teammates and hope that this Ragnar hangover never ends!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - The WEATHER!

We are only a couple days away from the start of the 2014 Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage so it's pretty safe to give a forecast now.  For those of you not living in the Pacific Northwest, it has been HOT HOT HOT here over the past week. And by hot I mean 80-90, which is basically like being in the center of the Earth to us mild weathered Pacific North-westerners. Well the good news…IT IS GOING TO COOL OFF FOR RAGNAR! I'll admit the potential hot weather was the only thing really stressing me out about Ragnar this week, but now I feel a bit more relieved.

That year it rained for the first 4 hours!
And less than 24 hours later, sun and warmth!

I've picked three points along the course to give you a forecast that should cover most of the race.  Like I stated in my packing post it gets COLD at night.  Even if the temps only say mid 50's being along the water and breezes make it feel much colder than that….pack accordingly!

The key to reading the below graphs:
RED - temperature
BLUE - % sky cover
BROWN - Precipitation potential
GREEN bars - potential inches of rain

Bellingham, WA Forecast for Friday, July 18 - 6AM to 8PM

Temperatures look pretty good in the 60's for when most teams start and only reaching the lower 70's for the heat of the day.  80% sky cover will offer good cloud protection from the sun, making running more more enjoyable.  And here is where the potential bad news comes in…the chance of rain increases throughout the day and with a 44% chance in the afternoon you are most definitely going to want to be prepare to run and sit around in rain. Bring that extra pair of shoes, a rain jacket, and a towel!  You may get lucky and not feel a single drop, but be prepared anyways!

Anacortes, WA Forecast for Friday, July 18 at NOON to Saturday, July 19 at 5AM

Friday evening is when the rain is supposed to come in from the Pacific Ocean but it shouldn't amount to much and you might not even feel a drop…you just never know.  Evening temps will dip into the upper 50's which isn't really that cold but since we have been HOT HOT HOT here in the PNW for the past couple weeks this could be a bit of a shock to the system.  Just bring one pair of sweats and a good jacket and you should be good to go.

Langley, WA Forecast for Saturday, July 19 - Midnight to 8PM

Saturday on Whidbey Island should see temps in the 60's with a lower chance of rain.  The 94% sky cover makes me think you won't see the sun, but don't quote me on that.  Looks like perfect running weather to me.  This is the most scenic part of the course in my opinion so grab your iphones and cameras and get some pictures of your runners in this stretch!

DISCLAIMER: I was discussing this forecast with my co-worker (a meteorologist by training) and he said that is always really hard for rain to start again after such a long dry spell (I'm sure there is a super sciency explanation for this but I didn't inquire) so that he would take the percentage change of rain forecasted with a grain of salt as it will probably be lower…so take that advice as you wish and plan accordingly :).  Additionally, rain in the summer is never  an all day downpour so don't get too bummed and think you'll be wet the whole time…you won't!

So in summary:

  • Running temps from 50-70 will be perfect for running…pack whatever you normal wear for these temps.
  • There is enough of a chance of rain that you should be prepared with a rain jacket, towel, dry clothes and an extra pair of dry running shoes.
  • Skies should remain pretty cloudy throughout so that will make things feel a bit chillier, pack those layers for night and consider bringing a more winterish weather running outfit for night hours if those night time temps will shock your system :). That doesn't mean leave the sunscreen at home, you will still be outside most of the time so slather it on for safety!
And remember to follow Six Pack With Racks on twitter and instagram with #sixpackrack and all the Ragnar runners with #ragnarnwp.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Quit Sugar - Week 5 Recap

I Quit Sugar
Week 1
Week 2
Reading Food Labels - SUGAR 
Week 3
Week 4

Where on earth did week 5 go? Honestly, looking back I can barely even remember what I had for breakfast this morning! Work and life has been insanely busy and I realized that this whole I Quit Sugar program has become my lifestyle now. I didn't really follow the meal plan for the week and ate out quite a bit, even went on a mini vaca, and it really became second nature to me to choose low or no sugar items...I call that an I Quit Sugar success!

Week 5 was the last week we didn't have ANY sweeteners and I wasn't really even dying to eat berries when today (the start of week 6) rolled around.  It doesn't mean I didn't have any, fresh raspberries are the best right now in the Pacific Northwest.

I don't really have many pictures of amazing things I made to share, but I do want to share a recipe with you.  Breakfast last week consisted of this Coco-Nutty Granola recipe (minus the brown rice syrup of course) but since I'm allergic to all nuts I decided to experiment and modify to see if I could make a non-nut granola that was tasty...spoiler...I DID!

Coco-NotNutty Granola

BREAKFAST...more filling that it looks, promise!

Makes about 5 cups - I probably got through about 7 breakfasts with this

  • 3 cups flaked unsweetened coconut - I found these really large flakes at Whole Foods in the bulk bin and they work fabulously in this!
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl
  3. Spread evenly on baking sheet (you might need two baking sheets if you don't have a REALLY big one).
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes, turning once until everything is nice and golden and crunchy!
  5. EAT IT! My favorite way was with a serving of whole fat plain greek yogurt. I swear you won't miss the sugar or absence of dried fruit...the toasted coconut is plenty of sweet.
It's pretty hard to convince me not to just eat eggs and toast every single morning but this was so easy and delicious I was craving this every morning!

Like I mentioned above I took a mini getaway to the San Juan Islands with some girlfriends and there was some excellent eating and drinking involved. Did I eat too much fried food and drink too much alcohol? Well yeah, but I still made good decisions involving sugar (well maybe minus alcohol) and had a blast!

Vegan Italian sausage at Mike's Cafe and Wine Bar for lunch

Smoked salmon scramble with mixed greens, potatoes, and fresh fruit at the Cask and Schooner for brunch
Not pictured is the fish and chips and nachos I inhaled for dinner and the rest of the evening while bar hopping :).

Week 6 is all about adding a LITTLE bit of sweetness back in in the form of lower sugar fruits like berries and using brown rice syrup in small quantities.  If you are interested in learning more about what sweeteners IQS stays 100% away from and which ones they advocate in moderation check out these links:
 And of course this infographic I've posted before pretty much sums it up:

I won't be following this week's meal plan much since Ragnar this week throws a big wrench in the cooking of a fabulous dinner every night but I remain committed to the IQS philosophy and will do my best to stay away from the gummy bears I know will be thrown around our Ragnar van :). 

Question: Have any good sugar free munchie ideas for me that will be easy to take for Ragnar?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage - Let's Get Packin!

I've meant to create a packing list for pretty much the past 3 or 4 Ragnars…or how ever many years I've been bloggin, whichever is longer, but just never got around to it. Well this year you are all getting lucky because I'm going to share with you what I believe is the perfect packing list.  I've learned a lot over the past 5 Ragnar's on how to over pack, what I really wish I had, and finding that balance between minimalist packing and bringing my whole closet.

Side note: Ragnar Northwest Passage is almost 1 WEEK AWAY! I have no idea when this relay snuck up on me but I'm super excited to get this party started and spend 30+ hours with some awesome ladies...and one awesome husband driver too :).

My second Ragnar - 2010!
First up, what are you going to wear? Well in short, running clothes! And depending on the weather (I'll post a forecast next week!) you might need shorts and a tank for one run and pants and long sleeve for another.  Last year we were sweating during the day and FREEZING at night.
  • 3 (well in my case 4) complete running outfits -  I'm talking all the way down to underwear, sports bra and socks. Will you sometimes keep the same outfit on for 2 or more runs? Maybe…but you'll want the option to change. Put each outfit in a ziploc bag and then stuff that sweaty stinky stuff back in it after your run so you don't contaminate the rest!
  • 2 comfy outfits - Especially at Northwest Passage, the weather temps fluctuate greatly. You may want some comfy shorts and a tank for the day but will need to break out the sweats and sweatshirt at night.  You don't need jeans or any sort of fashionable item here…comfort is key!
  • 2 pairs of running shoes - The only exception to this is if there is ZERO percent change of rain. I learned this one the hard way when it poured during my first leg and I was forced to run in soggy shoes the rest of the time…no bueno! 
  • Flippy floppies - Or any other comfy shoe of your choosing.  Pretty sure we all know that amazing feeling after running a race of letting our feet out of our stuffy running shoes and letting them breathe!
  • Team shirts, costumes, etc - Not mandatory but really fun! We do team shirts and try to keep them clean (don't run in them) so we can wear them at the start and finish. Also keep in mind you'll be receive a nice Ragnar tech tee when you check in so that can be used for down time as well.
  • Hats, compression sleeves, etc. - Whatever you run in normally pack that. Compression for recovery is usually pretty nice!
  • Compression is key for an ultra - even better they are Ragnar Pro Compression
  • SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY - Ragnar is serious about safety and requires everyone to have a reflective vest on during certain hours.  Go out and invest in a good running one, you really don't want those bulky construction ones getting in the way during your run.  And get your own headlamp! Although a headlamp for every person isn't required you don't want to share someone else's head sweat and they come in really handy for navigating port-o-potties in the dead of night.
Okay, what about all the other running stuff, toiletries, etc?  You could really overdo it in this department if you wanted but these are the things I find MOST helpful and on my must use for every Ragnar packing list.
After a sweaty humid night run…making baby wipes look good ;)
  • Baby wipes - These little wet delights are pure heaven after a sweaty run and double as a shower in case you don't get one in the 30+ hours you are running (ultra = no showers).  
  • Gadgets - GPS, watch, iPhone, whatever you need to track your running…if you are obsessed with that kind of thing. I will note that Ragnar does NOT have mile markers, only a 1 mile to go sign so it is nice to know how far you are into your run.  
  • Music - I crossed this one out because I honestly don't think you should be listening to music while running Ragnar. You are on open roads with other cars and oftentimes a very small shoulder.  It is really important that you can hear all oncoming traffic. I take the extra cautious approach and assume every single car on the road CANNOT see me, helps keep me on my toes :).  Music for the van…now that is important, keep your iPhone/iPod in there.
  • Toiletries - Keep it minimal and stick with deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, small towel for face washing, hair stuff if you need it, etc.  There is no need to look like you are going out for a night on the town ladies, keep the makeup, perfume, etc at home.
  • Sunscreen - Don't be stupid and get burned.  I discovered Naawk last year when they sponsored us at Hood to Coast and the first time we sprayed that stuff we all went "wow…it smells like a tropical island" and then wondered why we weren't using it as a van air freshener all along.  
  • Bug Spray - There are some parts of the Northwest Passage course near rivers at night that mosquitoes just love. A bottle for the whole van is probably sufficient!
  • Sleeping Bag/Pillow - You can get away with just a blanket too.  If you get to stop and sleep there are plenty of indoor options at Northwest Passage and even a van seat is pretty comfortable when you are that tired.  On the note of sleep, just prepare to get NONE and if you get a couple hours, lucky you.  And I'll remind you that it usually gets COLD at night so have stuff to get warm!
Besides food (which I'll touch on briefly at the end) there is all that other van stuff that you will find useful.  If you are the captain it would be really really nice of you to stock your van with the following before heading up to the start line…you can always charge your runners for their portion.
  • Paper products - A roll of paper towels, a couple rolls of TP and a box of kleenex will all come in handy. Although I have never ever encountered a Ragnar Northwest Passage port-o-potty without TP it's better safe than sorry or for when a mid run emergency might happen…CODE BROWN! 
  • Water and Nuun - I'm not just saying Nuun is essential because I am an ambassador. I'm saying it's essential because you really do need more than just water for long hot runs and all that hydrating that needs to happen in between. Even better, Nuun Energy for those middle of the night runs where you need a caffeine and B vitamin kick.  They will be selling tubes at exchange 6 in case you forget some!  Don't worry about packing all the water you'll need at the start, there are plenty of gas stations and grocery stores along the route to pick up more...same with ice.
Kona Cola is my BFF during Ragnar!
  • Garbage bag - I don't think this needs explaining…1-2 bags will do!
  • Phone Numbers - Have a printed out piece of paper with everyone on your team's cell phone numbers…you never know when you might need them.
  • Recovery Tools - Running alot, sitting alot, then repeating makes for tight muscles.  Agree to bring one foam roller and marathon stick if you have them so you have the tools you need to work out those muscles before your next run. 
  • Van markers - You aren't really running a Ragnar relay without marking up your van! Decorate it, mark your kills (number of runners you pass), make funny running jokes, and showcase your team name/spirit. FYI - White and Yellow show up best on windows.
AHHH, the satisfaction of checking off that last run!
Food is really up to individual teams in my opinion.  As an ultra team we all bring everything we are going to eat (meals, snacks, etc) in the van with us since we don't have time to stop for a meal. 12 man teams have large breaks and can go out for proper meals between legs.  I will say that finding a place open to eat in the middle of the night in the middle of the Northwest Passage course is pretty difficult so even 12 man teams should have something a bit more significant than snacks to curb those late night cravings and nutrition needs pre and post middle of the night runs.  One year we made the mistake of hitting up McDonald's before going to bed and we ALL had very tough runs after that...just sayin! Anacortes is really the last biggish city that has grocery stores/restaurants open at night before you get onto Whidbey Island for the night hours.  I'm thinking about bringing the following for myself next week:
  1. A quinoa chicken dish for meals
  2. Sun butter and raspberry sandwiches
  3. Hard boiled eggs
  4. Homemade oatmeal protein bars to share
  5. CHIPS...I crave salt
  6. Yogurt with granola
I will still be on the I Quit Sugar 8-week program during this relay which stressed me out when I realized it in the beginning but now that I'm more than half way through I'm confident I can still be sugar free for the relay...but we will see how well I do when we drive past the Dairy Queen on the way to the ferry!

The MOST important thing to pack, however, is a positive attitude and the willingness to keep on running when all you want to do is sleep/eat/cry.  Your team will power you forward way more than you think, so cheer your runners on, cheer other runners on and JUST HAVE FUN! 

Power arches really do work!

QUESTION: I'm sure I missed something…what are you packing that I forgot? Also, are you running Northwest Passage? What is your team name, start time…I want to say HI!

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Quit Sugar - Week 4 Recap

Week 1
Week 2
Reading Food Labels - SUGAR 
Week 3

First, apologies for making this quick and short...crazy week happening already and I hope to devote some blog time to Ragnar this week so let's chat real quick about week 4!

Perhaps the biggest news of week 4 was that I was asked to be an IQS Ambassador for the remainder of the program (and hopefully future ones!). The IQS team saw how active I was being in the forums and evidently thought I was providing good info so I was made an official ambassador. I am beyond honored as I am truly embracing the IQS lifestyle and I'm just happy to share it with others!

To recap, week 4 was about doing a little more detoxing by removing gluten, alcohol and caffeine for 5 days. I did the whole no gluten and alcohol thing but wasn't going to risk daily headaches just to give up my precious coffee for 5 days :). 

LEFT: Sauteed kale, sausage and beet hash over some wild rice mix.  This hash is actually in Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar for Life book and she along with the recipe she gives you tips for creating your own hashes with whatever ingredients you have on hand.
RIGHT: Veggie fried rice! This was super filling and included asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms and peas.  I stretched this to three meals, it was way too much for just two for me...which is usually not the case.

Big winner for the week were these salmon patties.  It was basically canned salmon mixed with sweet potato puree with some green onions and flour to find. The combo of salmon and sweet potatoes was really amazing. I would have never thought to combine those flavors before.  Trader Joe's came through again with bok choy already trimmed up and cleaned so I just steamed them for a couple minutes for a simple side dish.

I do want to take a minute to tell you how I've been feeling now that I'm half way through the I Quit Sugar 8-week program.  In a nutshell, pretty damn good and normal! Normal may sound like an odd choice for how I feel but that really is true.  For the past as many years as I can remember my stomach was never "normal".  I thought that bloating, constipation, upset stomach, nights in the bathroom were my normal but going through this sugar detox has taught me that it indeed is NOT normal.  I'm not bloated with uncomfortable pain after lunch every single day, I don't have to excuse myself from a room to relieve painful gas (sorry TMI, but it's true!), and most of all I'm really enjoying all the cooking and eating. 

Week 5 is our last week of keeping all fruit, sweeteners, etc out of our diet and in week 6 we will slowly reintroduce some low-fructose fruits and non-fructose sweeteners like stevia and brown rice syrup (I'll chat about those more later).  The timing is good because I'm determined to modify my oatmeal pumpkin protein bar recipe in time for Ragnar!

More Reading:

What nutrition nerds eat for breakfast - NEVER eat a boring breakfast again...yumm!!
Is magnesium the answer to your sugar addiction - never tried magnesium before but I just might try many benefits!

Monday, June 30, 2014

I Quit Sugar - Week 3 Recap

Week 1
Week 2
Reading Food Labels - SUGAR

Confession...week 3 did not really go as planned. I ate out a lot more than I planned to but I told myself I wouldn't be anti-social because of this whole program and I tried my best to choose sugar free restaurant items...I think I did ok!  BUT, I also definitely felt a bit off after eating out so many times and my stomach didn't like me too much so I'll be resetting and planning to enter week 4 a bit more prepared for the week.  Week 4 is "clean week" so I will be making a big effort to eat all my meals at home this week. 

But hey I cooked some amazing things anyways.  I roasted up a chicken on Sunday evening and ate it most of the week which was awesome.

LEFT: Roasted chicken with quinoa, roasted root veggies, other veggies with a olive oil/apple cider vinegar dressing.
RIGHT: Roasted chicken, broccoli, and smashed potatoes with peas and feta

Breakfasts have really been one of my favorite things on this plan. And this week the addition of a quinoa porridge made me look forward to waking up each morning. I will most certainly be adding it to my regular breakfast rotation.

Cook 3/4 cup already cooked quinoa with 1/2 cup milk and add your favorite mixins! I topped mine with yogurt and pepitas!
Sunday's pre-run fuel of veggie bread with avocado-feta smash and two fried eggs!

Week 4 Prep

Week 4 is "clean week".  It is actually optional but they recommend you remove gluten, alcohol, and caffeine for just 5 days only.  Since I don't want to have a headache everyday and be a grump I'm not giving up caffeine but I can do no gluten and alcohol for 5 days easily and make my meals a little greener for the week. But the main idea is that we should be getting through most of sugar detox symptoms and now we give our bodies a change to get rid of any other toxins hiding in there.

The IQS team also recommended about a hundred different supplements, spices, powders, etc to help with detox, etc but I'm not jumping on that bandwagon and will just fill my cravings with tea and snacks like usual :). For example, I made these Meal in a Biscuit Crackers last night and they are pretty good, especially slathered with some cream cheese or nut butter.  They were super easy to make but I could see how they would get expensive to have all the time since they contain a lot of chia, sunflower, and sesame seeds.  Since they are a super hearty cracker one large one with some cream cheese usually curbs my appetite in the late afternoon.

Note: I subbed buckwheat flour for the almond meal since I'm allergic to nuts and didn't use dulce flakes.

The end of week 4 marks the halfway point of this 8-week program so I'll plan on posting more about how I'm feeling so far next week!

More Reading:

Report: The Sugar Lobby Threatens Organizations, Buries Science on Health Effects - found this after my sugar label posting last week...interesting information about WHY we may not be pushing sugar limits in the United States, makes you go "hmmmm".

I ate Sugar - Even Sarah Wilson (the creator or IQS) "cheats"!