Thursday, June 28, 2012

Women's Up North Escape: Glen Arbor

Upon finishing our first 100 mile bike race, Chad and I parted ways. He went back home to care for the kids and provide for his family while Michelle and I headed North to meet up with friends Roxanne, Laurie, Kelly, and Shelly for a few days of vay-kay. (Michelle's husband went to Silver Lake for a few days of vacation himself. We should all feel extra bad for Chad being the only one that had to go back to work.)

Our destination: The Homestead Resort in Glen Arbor on the coast of Lake Michigan.

My intention was to sleep in every day, drink coffee, followed by reading on the beach, lunching, a laze by the pool, relaxing in the hot tub, dinner, wine, and watching the sunset. Nothing but peace, quiet and rest for me.

So when Roxanne arrived and started making a list of all the things we needed to do and when . . . well, I plugged my ears like a toddler and started singing "Lalalalalalalala I can't hear you!" Then grabbed a beer from the fridge and found a lounge chair on the deck.

I should have known better. Things NEVER go the way I plan. As it turned out I was up by 7ish every morning and filled nearly every minute of the few days we were there with hiking, biking, exploring, kayaking, followed by even more hiking, biking, . . . you get the idea.

I won't bore you with a blow-by-blow of the week, I'll share photos instead:

River for tubing and kayaking in front of The Homestead. Flows into Lake Michigan.

Short board walk to beach.

Michelle, Shelly, Me, Laurie and Kelly ready to tackle THE Dune Climb (Roxanne is taking the photo)

Our sturdy, large calf muscles enable us to destroy those dunes!

Look how teeny-tiny they look at the bottom.

Miles and hours later we arrive at Lake Michigan.

Kelly and Laurie biking the newly opened Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.

Kayaking Crystal River.

Having an engaging, intelligent conversation. Michelle, Me, Kelly.

Roxanne and Laurie at the Scenic Overlook.

Me, mid-hike on an explore to find the Ghost Forest.

Kelly at the Ghost Forest. We wore everyone else out. They stayed at the condo to "rest" and "relax." Wimps.

Kelly and I stayed to watch the sunset.

Links for more information on Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lumberjack 100 Part 3

I'm running out of steam which is good luck for you because that means I'm wrapping up this race report in this post.

Lap #2

photo by Andrea Tucker
A mile into the second lap and my contacts were giving me fits. Two times one of my contacts came out and was stuck to my sunglasses. I was blinking constantly and having a hard time seeing. The frequent and time-consuming stops quickly put me from being ahead of- to behind schedule. That’s when I made the decision to throw out any finish-time expectations and to take in the experience.

Soon I was looking for the manikin head. I planned on taking full-advantage of the aid station services. I want to give a big Thank You to everyone that volunteered. All of you were incredibly up-beat, helpful, encouraging, and friendly. That became my favorite part of the race. I could be riding for miles alone and isolated but I always knew that if I made it to the aid station that smiles and friendly faces would greet me. From there I could depart with other riders and be guaranteed company for at least a little while.

Without the pressure of the clock I started enjoying the ride. Don’t get me wrong, there were times of suffering, agony, and I questioned my sanity more times than I can count. But I wasn’t worried about trying to pass anyone or getting dropped.  

I met a lot of amazing and inspirational people riding Lumberjack. Everyone had a story to share. The camaraderie I witnessed was like no other event I’ve done. Everyone I encountered put helping others have a positive race experience over their own finish time. 

The back end of the second lap stretched longer than my memory. The three big climbs I had noted the first time around were now about five to six big climbs. Eventually I mashed my way to the screaming single-track descent.

I loved ripping down the trail when a giant, oversized green leaf dropped from the heavens and suctioned itself across the face of my sunglasses. I was blinded nary a mere quarter inch across the very top of my field-of-vision. I did not want to take a hand off my bars going near 30 miles per hour down bumpy, sandy single track. I’ve done that before and it resulted in a very bad crash that still gives me night-sweats. 

I stuck out my lower lip and tried blowing the leaf free. That only resulted in scootching the leaf upwards and blinding me completely. This is how I was going to die. I was at peace with my Maker, I only regretted that I would not be around for my kids. I took a steadying breath and initiated launch sequence: heavy feet, weight over center bracket, neutral grip . . . and go! I stealthily removed my hand from the grip and swiped the leaf like a ninja. I would live to ride the third and final lap.

Jim's wound after trying to fly like Super Man.
Our friend Jim was not as lucky. He noted the “Caution” sign at the top of the hill and started babbling on “Caution, eh? What’s so dangerous about this . . .” then clipped his handle bar. I hear he now holds the unofficial record for human unassisted flying distance. Nevertheless, Jim was able to get back on the bike and finish with a very respectable time.

Lap #3

I was experiencing early signs of heat stroke and dehydration: goose bumps, chills, and nausea. While I wasn’t feeling hot, I knew that I needed to cool my body temperature and drink more fluids. While I was at the aid station I shoved ice cubes down my bra and in my jersey pockets. Rob gave me the update; everyone had slowed down significantly from the heat. 

When I couldn’t clasp the sternum strap across my chest, I knew I was experiencing some other physical ailment that I had managed to push from conscious. I made note of this development and told myself to take it easy. When I got to the top of the last climb in the first section and I just didn’t feel right, I decided to sit for a few minutes.

Because everyone at LJ100 was amazing, someone stopped to make sure I was okay. I assured him I was but he insisted on giving me his PayDay bar before he continued on. That was the best food I had eaten all day. Feeling renewed from my break I got back on my bike and continued on to the aid station.

During every hard effort I felt like I was suffocating. Later I learned that the dirt and sand I inhaled had irritated my throat and caused “esophageal spasms.”  Basically it felt like I had a giant pill stuck in the base of my throat. It lasted for three days beyond the race. 

I took another long break at the aid station. There were a handful of other riders hanging out, enjoying the company, food and drinks. It was so comfortable that I was in danger of staying there all afternoon. Someone had other plans for me however, that’s when it started raining. It was time to get moving.

The last 15 miles were the longest I have ever ridden. They stretched out into eternity. It was the only segment that I rode entirely alone. I arrived at mid-point of the last sustained climb and I had to stop. I was simply overcome. This place shall now be known as Contemplation Point because I talked to several other first-time Lumberjacks who bewildering stopped at the same location to collect their thoughts. We were all so close to the finish and yet we could not go on. 

This all started with accepting a challenge from a friend. It ended up being so much more. It’s hard for me to put into words what this experience has meant to me. 

Eventually I gathered myself, got on the bike for the last time that day and continued to the finish line. All of my friends were there to greet me. 
Crossing the finish line.

There are so many people in my life that I could not have done this race without. I need to thank my daughter Sage and son Bear who inspire me to be more. My parents for being encouraging and always willing to help just so I could go on a bike ride. My husband Chad who was there when he said he would be. Jim. Pit Crew Masters: Rob, Jeff, and Levi. Dane and the cowbell.  And Michelle for throwing down the gauntlet. 

Michelle finishing! Go Michelle!

After the race . . .

I went up North with some of my friends to Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear National Park

We had a condo right on Lake Michigan Beach. Every morning I walked the beach looking for "treasures": petoskey stones, beach glass, etc. And of course just to enjoy being on the Lake. It was incredibly peaceful.

There were thousands of rocks on the beach--very different from where I live where the beach is pure sand. On the last morning I was walking along and I noticed a rock peaking through the sand, the crashing waves were slowly unearthing it. It had some strange marks on the top. I stopped and dug it out thinking it might be a fossil. But it wasn't.

Someone had written "ENDURE" on the face of the stone.

It was the perfect treasure to take home from my LJ100 experience.

> Check back because I plan on doing a write-up on our awesome trip to Glen Arbor!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lumberjack 100, Part 2

Relaxing before the start . . . 
There's nothing like racing out of the camper. In fact, I would go so far as to say that "camper racing" is the ultimate kind of racing. It's our vacation home. The bed is more comfortable, the air is more fresh, the coffee more delectable. And we even get to mountain bike race too! Seriously, its the best.

Even though I don't think any one of us slept the eve of LJ100, we were as relaxed and ready as we could ever hope to be.

Look at the four of us: hopeful, naive, . . . nervous.

At this point you may be asking yourself why would someone want to ride 100 miles of single track (in a row!), let alone race it?
  • It's a long distance.
  • It's dirty.
  • It's hot.
  • It's physically grueling.
  • The potential blossoming garden of butt sores!
The common-sensical person would consider 100 miles of mountain biking to be self-torture, arguable self-mutilation if you consider the last point. And believe me, the last point is a big consideration.


Well, I guess the answer would be different for each person. It's a paycheck for the pros, it's Everest for the rest of us. 

Mike from Illinois, someone I met during one of my lowest points of the race, said he was finishing this thing for his kids. He always tells them that 'they can do more than they think they can do.' And he wanted to prove it to them. He did a stellar job of being a role-model for his family that day.

And that's why I wanted to do the LJ100. Its true that Michelle first challenged me to do the event and I didn't want to look like a cowering wimp by backing down. But that wasn't the only reason, I wanted to see if I could do it. When fatigue sets in and my body physically starts to quit on me, would I be able to push to the finish? And if you can do that, you feel like you can do just about anything.

(I warned this would be wordy and exhaustive)

The Start

The four of us lined up at the start line. I was filled with a sense of foreboding. This was the point of no-return. Three months and countless of hours of training. It all came down to this: one hundred miles stood between me and the beer that waited for me at the finish line. There was nothing left to do but pedal.

Weather forecast for the day predicted 90+ degree temps. It had been dry, hot and humid. The course would be sandy. But I don’t think any of us were prepared for the thick black cloud of dirt kicked up by the conga-line of bikes in the first few miles. It was so heavy and thick. 

Eventually the traffic jam worked itself out and riding conditions became more comfortable. The first few miles seemed like it was uphill.  Then the course leveled out and I was able to find a nice flow. 

After riding alone for a while I came across a startling sight: a decapitated manikin head perched on a log. The freakish object would become the symbol of encouragement in the following laps, as it was the “welcoming committee” to the mid-point aid station.

The aid station was an oasis in the fog of dirt and pain and sweat. After riding for miles on end in what seemed like the middle-of-nowhere was a Hawaiian party taking place: leis, drinks, food, shoulder massages, and riders socializing and kicking-back for a bit. 

It was a welcome sight but I was not planning on stopping. I rolled on through my first lap. 
Since my computer puked out on me in the first 5 minutes of the race I was taking mental notes of the course to help gauge my progress in the remaining laps.

I remember two steep climbs, two sections of gravel roads, one long sustained climb followed by a wicked fast descent. The last section was a couple of easy rolling miles into the staging/finish corral. 

I rolled into our pit-station to switch hydration packs and grab a bite to eat. Rob, our pit-crew master, helped me get refueled and gave me updates on our group. I felt surprisingly good. The first lap passed quickly, I finished in 3:09 minutes, well ahead of schedule. This scared me. Without my computer I had a difficult time pacing myself, I had gone out too hard. 

First lap down and I'm trying to convince myself I can do two more . . .

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lumberjack 100 (part 1)—Pre Race

The week leading up to LJ100 was INSANITY. Chad was working 12 hour days, my work was busy, I was trying to squeeze in extra time with the kids, pack the kids for their weekend with the grands, pack Chad and myself for the race, pack for my mini-post-race vacation, . . . insanity.

Rest? Recovery? Eating well? That all went out the window. Chad and I were just trying to survive.

The plan was to take Friday off. That way no matter how crazy the week had been, we would have all day before the race to do any last-minute preparations and make our way up to Manistee. We planned on camping in our travel-trailer. We would also be driving separate because after LJ100 I would be heading further north to Glen Arbor for a few days with some friends while Chad would be going home.

Wednesday arrived and Chad said to me "I may have to work for a couple of hours on Friday morning."

This was not good. Chad tends to greatly underestimate his work schedule.

Then Thursday arrived. Chad was working well into the evening. Jim, our friend who also raced LJ100 and Rob our Pit-Crew Master came over to go over final race details. I had not heard from Chad. It was stressing me out. Do I pack everything in the camper or do I pack my car in case Chad can't make the race?

Jim and Rob left around 8:30 PM. I had a ton of packing and preparation yet to do. Chad arrived home around 9:30 PM.

Me "What's the plan tomorrow."
Chad "I have to work."
Me "Okay, so should I pack everything in my car or in the camper?"
Chad "Why?"
Me "Well, are you going to make the race? Or do you have to work."
Chad "I'll be there. I may not get there until 1 AM, but I'll be there."
Me "So I should pack the camper."
Chad "I said I would be there."

And so I packed everything in the camper except for my bike and a carry-on bag with a few essentials.

Saturday morning:
Chad "So you have everything you need for the race in case I don't make it up, right?"
Me "Wha . . .? You said you'd be there?"
Chad "I'm going to try, but if work is a disaster and I can't make it, I don't want to have another disaster on my hands."
Me "@#@*#*@."

(This may not be an entirely accurate description of events, but that is how I remembered it)

I had to unpack the camper and repack my car. Now, if you're reading this and you have a camper you understand that you have the benefit of a full kitchen. My carefully, scientifically proven pre-race meal plan was just thrown out the window with the potential loss of our travel trailer. More importantly, I would not have my coffee machine with me. I could have cried. In fact, I'm sure I did.

Eventually I got in my car and headed north alone and feeling very unsettled and uncertain. I did not want to do this race without my partner. If he was estimating he may not get up North until 1 AM, that very well could mean he would not make it at all.


I arrived in Manistee a few hours later and made my way over to Manistee National Forrest where the race venue was. It was a little early for packet-pick up so I thought I would ride the course a bit. I still had a sense of uneasiness about Chad. If I was stressed out about him working late I could not imagine how he must be feeling. He'd been working many long days outside in the heat. If I were him, I wouldn't want to race at all.

I only managed a few short miles on the course. Riding only increased my anxiety instead of relieving it.

I was thankful when my friend Michelle called and said she had arrived in town. We met up to do packet-pickup together. I let out all my worries onto her. It was getting late into the afternoon/early evening and I still had not heard from Chad. Our big race weekend we had planned to do together was falling apart. Poor Michelle, I was a blubbering mess.

At some point Chad finally called, around 6ish? and said that I should reserve a site at the State Park where Michelle's family was camping for the weekend. Originally we planned to park the camper at a friends rustic cabin where Jim and Rob were staying near the race venue. Chad was concerned there wouldn't be electricity there.

Me "So you're going to make it?"
Chad "I don't know. It's going to be late."
Me Sniff sniff.

And so I headed to the State Park behind Michelle. I sat around their campfire and took a stroll along the Lake. Chad texted "I'm on my way." Yay! It was earlier than we thought. He would arrive around 9:30-10 PM. Late, but definitely not as late as it could have been.

The knot of anxiety I'd been carrying all week melted away. Everything would be fine. Chad was going to make it. We'd be together for our first 100 mile mountain bike race.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Home Again

I'm back from my fun and action-packed vacation. Tonight I plan on working on my LJ100 race report. It was such an amazing experience. I expect my report to be a babbling, wordy, emotional outpouring of run-on sentences and sentiments. Don't say I didn't warn you. I'll attempt to break it up into a manageable 3-4 posts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When I'm not riding . . .

This week is kind of great. I don't have to do any 4, 5, 6+ hour rides :-) Don't get me wrong, I LOVE riding my bike. But trying to string together that many hours of riding in a row means that something some things in the schedule suffer. The house falls into disarray. Grocery shopping doesn't happen. The kids end up eating sandwiches and carrot sticks every night for dinner. All that is fine, but what isn't fine is missing time with the kids.

After LJ100 I have no big races scheduled. Nada. Nothing. Not until Peak 2 Peak and Iceman. Which means I am taking the summer off. I plan on spending almost all of the time I'm not riding playing with the kids.

Beginning this week—since I'm tapering and I don't have any long rides to do.

I have two exciting things going on this summer to ensure lots of family time.

1) I'm hosting U8 pick-up soccer at the park. Last night was our first gathering. I wasn't sure what to expect. I arrived at the field with my kids about 15 minutes early. The park was eerily abandoned. I wondered if any other kids would show up.

I am hosting pick-up soccer this summer because Sage asks me ALL the time to play soccer with her. I love kicking the ball around in the yard, but it gets boring for her quickly. We'll invite friends over to play soccer--but they don't want to play. Usually they want to come inside and watch a movie.

Surely there are other kids out there that like kicking the ball around as much as her. So I posted on FB to all the area U8 soccer families I knew and some I only knew of. And no one really responded, but I moved forward with it anyways.

6:00 PM arrived and we were still the only ones in the park. No problem, I was there to play soccer with Sage. If it was just us, so be it. Bear and I took turns playing goalie while Sage dribbled around and kicked the ball at us.

And then it happened. Cars started rolling into the parking lot. Kids hopped out of the car and ran out to the field. One after another until we had enough kids for two teams. It was perfect.

There was zero coaching on my part, other than to assign positions and say "go" or "out of bounds"! The kids already knew a lot about position and rules. They did well passing and working together. I had so much fun playing soccer with them.

It was great. Simply great.

2) Family Mountain Biking Club. We have a couple of families with some great kids that plan on meeting on a weekly basis for family trail rides. We're hoping to develop a community of cyclists for our kids.

We had a planning meeting months and months ago. The families got together and the kids were introduced. Ever since then the kids have been asking "when is our mountain biking club starting?" I'm so happy I can finally say that it starts tonight!

I'm going to pack a picnic dinner for the kids so we can tail-gate pre-ride at the trail head. And then its riding trails to their little hearts content. This is a no-pressure, fun ride.

I've been guilty of pushing Snoose to try sections of trail that made her nervous when we ride together. I know this causes her anxiety. But encouraging her to go outside of her comfort zone has done wonders for her self-confidence when she realizes that she can do so much more than she thought she was capable of.

But Family Mountain Biking Club is not going to be a place where I push her. I want it to be a fun, friendly, and encouraging environment for her and all of the other kids. The objective of this club is FUN family time.

It's going to be an awesome summer. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sometimes a Bad Ride isn't such a Bad Thing

You've been pushing yourself to the edge for months. Beating your muscles and body into submission. Working so hard that your shins sweat. And now its finally that time. A handful of days before the BIG event. The one thing you dream about is that last training session. The dress-rehearsal if you will.

Surely weeks of suffering shall be rewarded with a high. The kind of ride where you find yourself free-spinning with seemingly zero resistance. Your climbing legs--what climb! Swoosh you're at the top and already flying down the descent.Wind in your face, sun on your back, and miles under your wheels.

Last Friday I went on my last endurance training ride for LJ100. And I fully anticipated a great day on the bike.

Except it wasn't.

It turned out to be one of the worst rides I have ever had. The kind of ride that can shake you of any nugget of confidence you were hoping to carry into race day. Leaving you hollow with the vapor of doubt and fear.

The Very Bad Ride.

There have been many training rides I've wanted to accomplish this spring: gravel roads in Oceana County, the Trifecta Tour, epic rides on the NCT, and Big M. Alas, I didn't get near as much riding in as I imagined I would. I didn't lose 15 pounds like I thought either. Weird how that always happens.

I digress.

One of the rides I had hoped to check off my list was simply departing from my house and riding 17 miles to Owasippe for a couple of laps and then return home. Nothing epic, just something I wanted to do. This seemed like a good time to do it. All riding, no driving, a little road, a little single track. A great training ride when you need to utilize every minute.

The Fuel: Perpetuem, Phytoganix, Endura, Sweet Potato and homemade Lara Bars.
I stocked up on fuel, the same fuel I've been using all spring except for Perpetuem. I've been questioning my nutrition plan as it consists almost solely of carbohydrates. I convinced myself that I need to take in some kind of protein for an endurance event. Perpetuem was recommended by several others. This was not my very first ride using Perpetuem, I used it the week before for my 75-miler.

The other small change was that I used a gel flask for carrying sweet potato. It seemed easier than making my own gu-packs. Worth a try at least.

I was not as amped-up for the ride as I was hoping. In fact, a big part of me was dreading it. However, there was the silver lining: this was my last endurance ride. That and date-night with Chad planned that evening were enough to light a fire under me and get myself out the door.

Things started off well-enough. The route to Owasippe is flat and I was cruising along at a nice pace, 16-17 mph. I worked at keeping my heart rate at a nice 135-145 range. I arrived at Owasippe just over an hours riding time with 17.5 miles done, 32.5 to go.

I let some air out of my tires because Owasippe right now is just about as sandy as the coast of Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, I forgot to unlock my front suspension which I never realized until later that evening.

2 miles into Owasippe. So far so good . . .
Owasippe is special. It's the kind of place you go to if you want to be smacked in the face with the truth. If you're strong and feeling good, you can hammer up the climbs, rideout the rough sections and finish out the loop feeling like you've really accomplished something. However, if you're legs are tired and your unprepared Owasippe will eat you up, spit you out and then stomp on you a few times. Especially if you ride the Blue Loop.

I've seen grown men, men thinking themselves worthy of Owasippe because they "ride all the time in GR," puking their guts out miles short of the trails end. Don't underestimate Chief Owasippe.

The first of many climbs to come.
I stupidly thought I had conquered the trail just because I had ridden 75-miles there the week before. I was wrong and on Friday I was not worthy of Owasippe. The Chief beat me into submission. Taunting and brutalizing me with every climb and stretch of rough trail.

To exasperate the situation, the pollen was freely falling. Every gasp of air felt like I was inhaling handfulls of cotton balls. I was sucking away at my hydration pack and emptied my water bottle in 11-miles. Nothing was quenching my thirst.

Somehow I managed to finish the 11-mile blue loop. I desperately wanted to be home. Things were not going well. I was tired and hot. But I did not want to cut the ride short. I could not quit. If this was my dress-rehearsal, I was not closing the curtain because I gave up. No, I was going to finish this thing.

Thankfully, I didn't have to ride the Blue Loop again. I felt incredibly alone in my suffering as I departed the empty parking lot at the trail head and set out on what would be my last ride at Owasippe before it closed for the summer.

I rode the second lap in a haze. And then began the long and pitiful ride home.  I stopped at a convenience store to refill my water bottles and sat in the shade for awhile.

I glanced down at my leg and noticed a giant white splatter on my thigh. Bird poop. I wonder when that happened? That was the least of my issues, in fact, it was only remarkable in that I noticed it. What was weighing on my mind was the back pain, nausea, heat and exhaustion.

Eventually I made it home. But not without having to stop to throw up.

52.24 UGLY miles.
And then I collapsed in the yard. I think I rested there for 30 minutes.

Taking a Bad Ride and Making it Something Good.

It would be easy to let a ride like that plant seeds of doubt. Did I train enough? Do I have enough endurance? Will I be able to finish 100 miles when I suffered so greatly for half that distance?

But why? There are so many GOOD things to take away from this ride that are really going to help me out at the LJ100.

1) Perpetuem is not good for me. I didn't like the taste. Even from the first sip it was making my stomach queasy. I should stick with what I have always done: Endura and Phytoganix.

2) The Gel Flask of Sweet Potato was a horrible idea! It was way too hard to squeeze the potato out of the flask. It's so much easier to access, carry and consume when they are in my homemade gu packs.

3) Take Danielle Musto's advice and keep little baggies of ice for the pockets when its hot.

4) Don't underestimate 100 miles. Again, follow Danielle's advice: Just remember that you can't win the race in the first hour but you can certainly lose it. (I'm not planning on winning, but I do want to finish!)

5) I got the bad ride out of the way which means my racing legs are available for this weekend. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Remember . . .

Taper time is awesome because that means I can do some fun, relaxed miles with my friends by the beach. Notice at around 3:30, I'm the ONLY one (I'm the rider in white) to ride through the sand. My husband would be proud. Normally he endless needles me about riding around drifting sand piles on the road.

Actually, I was a little embarrassed by the camera. Chad was calling it the "a** cam"--basically he verbalized what I was thinking.

On to more important things . . . 

For all my friends riding Michigan Mountain Mayhem this weekend, Sage has a message for you that she'd like for you to remember when the quads start popping and your calf muscles begin to cry:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Back to Basics

This image has been going around FB lately. It was a good reminder for me that eating healthy and eating healthy can be two different things.

There's the 'eating healthy' where you limit your calories, eat more salads and fruit, and basically watch what you eat. (Weight Watchers, Jennie Craig, etc).

Then there's 'eating healthy': eliminating processed foods, added sugar, added fat, and getting back to the basics of nutrition. By that I mean eating 'whole foods.'

This winter my diet just spiraled out of control. I managed to maintain my weight fairly well because of the heavy LJ100 training load. But that doesn't mean I haven't noticed the negative side effects of a poor diet: lethargy, loss of motivation, unable to focus, longer recovery times, and mediocre workouts.

A few weeks ago I finally faced reality and admitted that my diet had swayed far into the high processed, added sugar and fat zone. It wasn't an easy thing to do, but it was necessary.

Although I've been eating 'better' by many peoples standards, I still haven't been fueling my body with nutrient dense and unprocessed foods that it craves.

Now that LJ100 training is in official "taper" mode, I have a bit of extra time to refocus on something else. I've made a meal plan for the week that includes lots of salads, nuts, legumes, and fresh fruit. I'm even making homemade salad dressing.

My body is going to be so happy with me!

Cashew Blood Orange Salad Dressing
Kale and Carrot Salad
Baked Apple with Cashew Raisin Cream Sauce
Vegetable Shepherd's Pie
Chinese Apricot Stir Fry
Nuts and Bolts Squash