Running in the desert

Training for the Joshua Tree half marathon has begun.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve started to work my way out of not running and in to actual training. This weekend, I ran four miles without feeling destroyed (and therefore sad and depressed) post run.

Since going plant-based in June, I find my recovery time has shortened a little. I’m not as sore or sore for as long as I had been on a heavier meat and dairy diet.

It felt like an eternity to get healthy, but now that I am, I give all the credit to my plant-based diet, raw iron supplement, essential oil concoctions, shedding any old negative feelings, and yoga regiment. They have breathed new life into my body and soul. 🙏🏼

My training plan for Joshua Tree is a 12-week program that includes training runs two to three times a week. I designed it so I could ramp slowly, ever aware of not running too much too soon, and peak just in time for the race.

Although, I included a two week taper into the plan, my hope is to continue the training beyond Joshua Tree to build to a full marathon in January or February. We’ll see how it goes.

Joshua Tree National Park is made up of two deserts that converge next to one another. The actual race will take place in the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, CA.

In 2018, I visited Joshua Tree National Park. It felt, unmistakably, like everything in the park and both deserts were designed specifically to kill humans. Spiders and snakes and sharp, needled plants and desert bees; and did I mention spiders? 🕷 Big ones.

Running at night means all those dangerous things will still be there, only hidden by and lurking in the darkness waiting to take out any unsuspecting racer. I plan on bringing an enormous – potentially two enormous headlamps. Imagine the light on the front of a train – that’s what I’m going for. I want light 40 feet out and 15 feet wide. I wouldn’t mind if it was able to be seen from space.

Speaking of gear, since I’ve not had much experience with night running, I have even less with headlamp running.

Earlier this year, I participated in REI’s night run, which was a mile, and wore a workable headlamp. But it was cold and I wore it over a trucker hat, which I wore over a warm beanie, which was soft and cushy. And we jogged only a mile along a local trail. Neither of us broke a sweat.

I won’t have those luxuries running 13 miles in the desert night. The headlamp needs to be reliable, last the whole race, which for me could mean hours and hours, comfortable, and, of course, really, really bright. Open to recommendations.

The race is supported with aid stations every other mile after mile 3. It’s cup-free race, and I’m toying with the idea of testing out a vest on the trail. Correction: I’ll test out the vest in training, and then decide hopefully weeks before the race whether or not it’s for me.

If it’s not, I’ll stick with my old trusty Nathan handheld. It didn’t fail me in Antarctica, so I have a fair amount of confidence it’ll do just fine in the desert.

Last, but essential to a solid training plan: nutrition. I ran the Antarctica race on starburst candy. I need a real plan for this race.

Friends who also ran Antarctica used sport jellybeans. I might be open to that if they’re vegan. I’m leaning mostly on using medjool dates, but I’d like a few more healthy options to test during training.

Over seven miles is usually when I start to introduce some sort of nutrition during the run. Anything under, I can do without and eat a recovery snack afterwards.

Again, open to ideas or suggestions.

Lots of training and running and testing still to come.

Stay healthy, friends. 🙏🏼🏃‍♀️💚


8 mile long run

Put down eight miles this weekend. It was a good, strong, slow run. I was lucky to avoid most of the downpours in the bay area, but it was still windy, wet, and hovered around forty degrees, rising to forty-three degrees by the time I was finished with the run. Colder for the bay area, but not close to Antarctica cold.

I’m still a mile behind my training schedule for the long runs, but with how I’ve been feeling while running (💪🏼), I’m okay with that.

It’s four weeks until we leave for Antarctica and the race is exactly five weeks away. I can’t believe how fast it is approaching. I still have a lingering cough, which I can’t attribute to anything but that damned flu shot I received weeks ago. I just want it to go away.

As far as race gear, the plan is to wear a long sleeve performance tee under a warmer three-quarter zip fleece, which will be topped with a waterproof shell. Depending on how cold it will be on race day, I will increase the thickness of the waterproof shell. So I’ll probably bring two. Not sure yet.

My gloves are half fingerless with mittens that pop on top of them. Really great for both warming, cooling, and operating my iPhone, Go Pro (if I bring it), zipper on water bottle bag, etc.

Bottoms will be warm running tights with shorts on top. Again, if it’s really raining or sleeting or the wind is over 25 mph, I’ll add thin, waterproof shell pants.

I’ve got great trail shoes, warm (and proven) running socks, a warm beanie and if needed a balaclava. I haven’t landed on my sunglasses yet, but have a backup pair if I don’t find what I want in the next few weeks.

As far as nutrition, it’s only 13.1 miles, so I’ll likely stick mostly with water and dates. I might add a CLIF bar in my pack for a just-in-case scenario. Maybe I’ll lose more calories in the cold than I realize, so I’d rather be on the safe side.

It’s all getting so close. Will continue to keep you posted as the weeks count down.

Until then, stay healthy. 🙏


Back at it

slippery when wet paint on run path with Saucony shoes

It took over a week to recover from the flu shot-caused illness, at least enough to start running again. I did three very tough miles in an attempt to get back on the half marathon training schedule. I hope to knock out six more this weekend, which is still a mile behind where I should be.

But I suppose I’m not the first or last runner who has encountered sickness during her training so let me share what I’ve learned.

If you get sick, get rest. I think sleeping for hours or days at a time actually shortened the illness. I didn’t try to get out too soon and simply let the virus take its course while I stayed hydrated and warm under many blankets.

Drink lots of liquids. No brainer here. The more liquids you can drink to help your body flush out the badness, the faster you’ll recover.

Vitamin C is king. I took loads of vitamin C even though I doubted it would help with the flu virus. It did. I wasn’t nearly as tired or feverish after I started loading up on the C. Make sure you have enough zinc in your system to absorb it too.

Sticking to the bulletproof fast was easier than ever. Since I didn’t have an appetite, eating during a short, say eight-hour window, was a snap. I ate only healthy, clean foods with mega-nutrients like avocados, lettuce, nuts, salmon, etc.

As an aside, I’m loving the bulletproof coffee concoction with the intermittent fasting, and will give an update next week after the three week experiment officially ends.

Last but not least, although I am no doctor, my experience has told me to avoid the flu shot. If you had the shot and believe it works for you, then keep at it. Good for you. If you’ve not had the injection in the past and not caught the flu, you probably don’t need it.

Although flu shots can have different ingredients, the most popular injection contains genetically modified dead flu strands along with a bunch of other junk they label stabilizers and preservatives. Oh, and don’t forget the wonderful lot of antibiotics they also include in there. Antibiotics in the flu shot. Strange, isn’t it?

This terrible mixture goes directly into your blood stream. In my case, a few days later it manifested into a painful and debilitating illness that lasted over a week.

I don’t care what the CDC says about its “safety.” It’s not like large governing bodies in the US have a fabulous track record of open and honest policies. Historically, they tend to make lobbyists and big businesses, like drug companies who produce the shot, lots of money. What a racket. 👎

Stay healthy runners.


Training setback 😫

After the flu shot last week, I became so incredibly sick that I was not able to get out of bed, let alone get in my six-mile training run over the weekend.

I was frustrated with the whole situation. I knew intuitively I should have avoided the flu shot, like I do every year, but the nurse so strongly insisted on it, I felt pressured and acquiesced.

After five days of flu symptoms and the worst sore throat I’ve ever endured, I’ve resolved to give up all my anger and resentment, and simply focus on healing myself.

What happened? On Wednesday, I was perfectly healthy when I walked into the wellness office looking for guidance on what I might need for my trip to Antarctica and Argentina.

I left infected – er vaccinated – and symptoms started the very next day. It began with a low grade fever, a few aches, a slight sore throat, and continued to worsen hour after hour.

The height of the illness came at 2am, about 88 hours after the shot, with the sweats and puking in the middle of the night, not unlike the real flu. Now, five days later, a small cough and terribly painful sore throat still remain. At least I have the strength to sit up and type and eat again.

While this story is somewhat controversial and goes directly against the CDC, I am confident that the “vaccine” caused the sickness. And because of that, logically, the CDC is wrong. It’s not like governing bodies of health have a good record of keeping us healthy.

In the past, food lobbyists have swayed US Dietary Guidelines so they could sell more wheat and corn and meat. If that’s possible, how much more powerful are the drug companies? Oh, it’s so frustrating!

Not that we’ll solve this today. Instead, I need to figure out my training situation. It’s like I can feel my fitness fading away with every fiery swallow.

I missed my six-miler due to this illness and don’t know when I will be strong enough to resume running. (I’m praying it’s in the next couple of days.) I need this swollen and painful throat to heal and the cough to subside. Once that happens, I’ll start back with three miles and work my way up again.

Assuming, I rebound in the next 48 hours, there is a 10K happening near me on Saturday. If I’m feeling well enough by Wednesday, I will register and run that for a my make-up training run.

Send healing prayers for a fast recovery. 🙏


Antarctica race training

The half marathon in Antarctica is two months away. My longest training run has been a five-miler on a trail with 564 feet in elevation gain. I was gassed.

As mentioned, I’ve been out of long distance running shape for quite a few years now. Getting back into it has been tough. 

Training has been progressing but not without issues. I had knee pain when I switched from road shoes to trail shoes. My trainer recommended starting with a dynamic-stretch warmup before hitting the pavement, which I’ve done. It’s helped, but the knee hasn’t been the same since. It still feels a little weak and achy after runs.

I’ve had dozens of sore muscles, cramps, aches, pains, and knots. Plus countless moments full of fear, doubt, and uncertainty. This trip and this race are no joke. The conditions are harsh and luck, if there is any near the south pole, will favor the prepared. 

On race day in Antarctica, the anticipated temperature will be anywhere from 0 °F to 34 °F. That’s a huge range. It’s the difference between a soggy, muddy run above freezing or a can’t feel your face while loping atop slippery, frozen rock run if it’s closer to 0 °F. Winds can be as powerful as 40mph and gusts even higher. 

A couple of the big challenges training in the Bay Area for a freezing cold race in the arctic include preparing my body and testing my gear in expected race conditions.

It’s fairly mild where I live so locating a windy, frozen tundra has been problematic. The Antarctica course is snowy, rocky, and muddy. We don’t have too much of that either, just a little rain every now and then, and that’s only because it’s winter. 

The good news is I’ve been traveling outside the golden state to prepare myself for the blustery conditions. Before New Years, I spent several days in Iowa where it was both cold and windy, and I got in several miles in cold weather gear. 

Recently, I was in New York City and knocked out a freezing cold training run through NYC’s kind, flat, and relatively dry running path along the Hudson River. 

There are a couple additional winter trips I’ve planned to help with training (and fun) this winter, like Pinecrest, CA for some snowshoeing, skiing, and, of course, running.

And, although global warming and climate change have made this even harder to predict, a few weeks before I leave for Buenos Aires, I plan to do the longest training run in my hometown of Chicago, which should be perfectly freezing, windy, and snowy (if not muddy) in late February.

More to come as we get closer to race day. My training goals have never been so frosty. 


Hello, 2019

This morning I woke at 5:50am, pulled on a hoody, rolled out my yoga mat, and did about six minutes of morning yoga. Yep, starting slowly. I followed that up with 15 minutes of meditation. So far, so good.

Then I brewed a pot of bulletproof coffee. It wasn’t until I took my first sip did I realize it’s not really for brewing. It’s supposed to be pressed. Whoops. That’s what I get for not reading directions.

My trainer had mentioned he loved it, so when I saw it on sale I picked it up and thought I could just brew it like I would any other ground coffee. Um, not so. Well, I did, but it was awful. I didn’t bother popping in a lump of coconut oil or butter because I can only handle a little bit of change at a time. And I’m glad I didn’t. That lump of fat would have forfeited my intermittent fasting, which I had planned on doing until 8:30am. After a few sips of drinking the not so good stuff, I tossed it and made my usual americano. Oh, how familiarity feels so good.

That there is a lesson on why we have so much strength at the beginning of the year – or morning – to keep a newly made resolution and almost none after a few days, weeks, or months. We make mistakes and look and feel foolish. Plus, it’s easier and more comfortable to go back the way we were. Even though the changes were better for us, we lose the willpower or drive or whatever it is that keeps us moving in a new direction even though it’s uncomfortable. The good news is even when we try new things unsuccessfully we learn new stuff. Bulletproof coffee is not meant to be brewed. Okay, got it.

Last year, I resolved to become minimalist. For the most part, I did. I reduced my possessions by over sixty percent. I didn’t buy anything that wasn’t consumable all year. That is, until the end of the year in mid-October, when my willpower was exhausted and I bought all the things. I utterly failed.

When I had my shopping breakdown, I bought, among other things, $120 trail shoes, a $150 SmartWool sweater, and a new Jeep. A couple of months later, I returned (or in the case of the Jeep resold) them all.

This year, I want to continue down the minimalist path, but more moderately. I have less stuff so it’s not about reducing so much as it is about not buying stuff just to buy stuff. Lesson learned. No more unnecessary purchases because no more depriving myself. I’m taking the middle way.

Hello, 2019. This year will usher in a few exciting things for me, namely the half marathon in Antarctica. During that trip, I’ll visit Argentina, Ushuaia, and sail the Drake Passage – all of which are on my bucket list.

I’m also excited to get back to developing a yoga practice. Adding that into my morning routine, before meditation, will be interesting. When I had a proper practice, I did it in the evening. I’m not opposed to going back to evening, but I thought mornings would help me with my meditation practice. It’ll be a bit of a challenge, but I’m excited to see what I can do and, in return, what it can do for me.

Of course I have other goals around finances, career, contribution, and community, and they’re just as important to me. But making it to Antarctica would be the pinnacle of the year. Completing the half marathon would be the cherry on top.

Come to think of it, I better hit the trails today. Training has begun. 💪