PLANT-STOCK 2015

I have been waiting for some time to sit down and write this post. I left you all hanging with my last post and I apologize about that. I also apologize for the length of this one. :)

So about a week ago today, I flew back east to attend Engine 2 Diet’s Plant-Stock in upstate New York. My dream come true  if you will. Plant-Stock is basically a conference of sorts, for those interested in living, learning and loving a plant-based (including no-oil) lifestyle. That is me 100%.

As some of you may know, I have been plant-based for over 20 years. Early on I avoided oils and the like as I knew in my heart they were not good for you. Over the course of time, I added them back in because of all the coconut oil/hemp oil/namewhateveroil hype going in the news and on the blogosphere.

It took my dad having a heart attack, followed by another blockage and consequently 3 stents for me to really get serious. My mother suddenly passed away when she was 47 of a massive heart attack. My dad was in his 60s when he had his. I have zero grand-parents left. My future was not looking very bright if continued living the same life-style as every other American on the planet (despite my activity level).

Anyway, back to Plant-Stock. I decided that I was going. I had to go. Vans agreed knowing how much this movement and way of life means to me.

During the course of my planning, Engine 2 and Dr. Esselstyn’s group reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested volunteering at their merchandise booth. Would I?! Of course I was stoked.

So, I flew out Thursday evening after work on a red-eye. I flew to Newark, NJ by way of Boston where my dad picked me up. I rented a car, spent a few hours with Jersey Dad and then drove the 2.5 hours to upstate New York.

My awesome rental - haha

My awesome rental – haha

I booked myself a room at the St. Charles Hotel in Hudson New York. If you recall from my last post, Plant-Stock was being held at the Esselstyn Family Farm in Claverack New York. There isn’t much around Claverack and most of the hotels were 30 minutes away.

I found Hudson and then found The St. Charles. The rates were “ok” the reviews were not but hey, I figured that I was only sleeping there for two nights and I was by myself, I could handle it.

Hudson NY

Hudson NY

The town was quaint albeit a bit on the older side. The hotel seemed to sit on the side of town that was borderline near the sketchier areas but nothing terrible.

Cute

Cute

I walked around town a little bit after arriving trying to find a place to eat. I finally ended up at BaBa Louie’s where I ordered a gluten free vegan pizza. When I walked in the door wearing my Engine 2 Kale shirt someone shouted “Engine 2!” and gave me a thumbs up. I knew then that I was in the right place. :)

Park across the street from my hotel

Park across the street from my hotel

With my pizza in hand, I went back to my room to relax and eat. I was excited to get to sleep and have the next day begin! Plus the time change and flying had really tired me out.

Kinda like the Shining no?

Kinda like the Shining no?

Saturday morning bright and early I woke up and left to find Plant-Stock and the Esselstyn Family Farm. When I spoke to the volunteer co-ordinator the previous week, she told me to arrive about 30 minutes early so that I could also help work the registration table.

Love the signage!

Love the signage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I pulled onto the property and was immediately in awe of its beauty. The place was gorgeous. Coming from draught stricken California, the east coast is just so green and lush!

But this farm, this farm was beyond words.

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I made my way to the registration table and was introduced to a few really nice volunteers.

Working the registration booth was great because I was able to meet almost everyone that was arriving and get them squared away.

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While I was working the booth I saw Dr. Esselstyn driving around on his Kawasaki cart picking up attendees who were struggling to walk or who didn’t want to get their feet wet (the grass was very wet)! It was SO cool and super cute. He would zip back and forth just picking up people and loading up the cart.

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How amazing is that?! I mean he is a “celebrity” in the realm of plant-based living and for anyone who has had to suffer with heart disease … and here he is giving you a ride. Class act.

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I also was introduced to Rip Esselstyn (author, fire-fighter and pro-triathlete) briefly while working the registration booth.

The only down side of working the booth was that I missed breakfast and I also missed out on getting a super close seat for all the lectures. Still, it was no big deal because it would pay off in many other ways later.

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Plant-Stock consisted of full two days, Saturday and Sunday with a dinner on Saturday evening (that cost extra).

Esselstyn Family Home

Esselstyn Family Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first talk of the day was by Rip Esselstyn. He talked about Strong   Food vs Weak Food. He then would introduce T. Colin Campbell who talked about Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.

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In between all the talks they would have a break and I would go to the merchandise tent to work. After Dr. Campbell’s talk, they had him come to the booth to sign books.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Dr. T. Colin Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say, this was an unexpected bonus for me. Working the booth meant that I was able to be near all the speakers and listen to to their discussions and how they answer the questions asked by all the patrons getting their books autographed. It was GREAT!

After Dr. Campbell it was time for Part 1 of Dr. Esselstyn’s talk on Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease.

Dr. Esselstyn

Dr. Esselstyn

His talk was great, as was Dr. Campbell’s. Even though I was supposed to work the merchandise booth on the next break, I made sure to grab my book and race to get in line because I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have Dr. Esselstyn sign my book.

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Poor guy wore a suit and tie for his talk and it was sweltering outside so when it came time to autograph books and take photos, he was all sweaty. But he was still so present and interested in everyone that came up to him.

Watching Dr. Esselstyn sign books was truly a treat because he really engaged every single person that came up to him. Not only did he answer their questions, he ASKED questions. He truly listened, eyes focused, soaking it all in. This man is truly a gem in this world. He honestly cares 100% about those he affects and the lives of others. It blew me away. I knew he was a great guy from the stories I have heard, but to witness this, just made my heart melt in appreciation.

After Dr. Esselstyn’s talk it was time for Doug Lisle’s The Pleasure Trap. I have read The Pleasure Trap but I have never heard Dr. Lisle talk. He is one heck of a presenter. He is funny, engaging and he really can drive home a point and make you think! His second talk on Sunday truly was my favorite, it was called Getting Along Without Going Along.

Doug Lisle

Doug Lisle

Following Dr. Lisle was Neal Barnard, another person who I follow on social media but whose books I have not read nor have I heard him speak. He gave an amazing talk about Power Food for the Brain and also signed books. Now I would like to read one of his many books.

After Dr. Barnard was Dr. Tom Campbell, one of T. Colin Campbell’s sons and co-author of The China Study book. His talk was about The Simple Way to Lose Weight and Reduce Illness. Dr. Tom Campbell is a new father to an adorable little girl and a beautiful wife, both were present at the event.

T. Colin Campbell smile at his grandaughter

T. Colin Campbell smiles at his granddaughter

After Dr. Tom Campbell came Dr. Ron Weiss, MD – a physician in New Jersey and the first physician ever to work with organic farmers and open his medical practice ON a farm prescribing vegetables instead of pharmaceuticals.

Following Dr. Weiss came the surprise of the evening (for me), Howard Lyman. I have never heard him talk nor did I know much about him. He has authored a book called, The Mad Cowboy and his talk was called The Cattle Rancher Who Gave Up Eating the Ranch. His story was amazing and his talk SO motivating. He truly was the perfect way to end the evening because he is so passionate about what cattle ranching is doing to our environment. He is also hilarious in his delivery.

Dinner was next. To have dinner at this event it cost extra but it is 100% worth it because there are no “VIP tables” or sectioned off areas where all the speakers would typically eat. Nope, they ate dinner right along side you.

Dr. Esselstyn sitting with everyone

Dr. Esselstyn sitting with everyone

The dinner tent

The dinner tent

During dinner it started to rain, hard. It also thundered and we had lightning. It was pretty intense for a while but no one got up and left. We all just sat and ate and talked.

Raining hard

Raining hard

Dinner was lasagna with a side of steamed kale, a salad and bruschetta all plant-based and gluten free if required.

My lasangna and kale

My lasagna and kale

I sat with some very nice people all of whom had different reasons for being there this weekend.

After dinner we watched The Plant-Pure Nation under the big tent (it had stopped raining). Here is where I was so happy that I picked The St. Charles Hotel … because we didn’t leave until almost 9 pm that night.

Sunday morning I was dead set on getting there bright and early so that I could get a spot super close to the stage. However I did re-think this because of the previous day’s events.

Even though first I was bummed I had to sit in the way back on Saturday, it had its bonuses! Like when I turned to my left at one point during Neal Barnard’s talk and realized I was sitting right next to T. Colin Campbell and family as well as Dr. Esselstyn! What!?

Dr. Esselstyn taking a cat nap

Dr. Esselstyn taking a cat nap

Yes he had dozed off. It was hot.  He’d probably been up and running around for hours and had given a great talk AND conversed with every single person who came up to him.

But here is what I love most ….

HOKAS!

HOKAS!

Dr. Esselstyn wears HOKAS! :) As a trail runner, I just love this. They are a pretty cushiony shoe so I don’t blame him one bit. This man works HARD and may I remind you, he is over 80!

Dr. Esselstyn talking to people after his talk

Dr. Esselstyn talking to people after his lecture

No matter where he was, he would give everyone the time that he had to answer questions, hear stories and give his pieces of advice.

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Sunday was filled with breakfast and more talks. We heard lectures by Dr. Esselstyn again (part 2 of his Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease).

Dr. E’s wife Ann Esselstyn also gave a talk on What to Eat, Where to Buy It and How to Cook It. I need to stop and talk about Ann Esselstyn for a minute here.

Ann Crile Esselstyn

Ann Crile Esselstyn

Okay, Ann just turned 80 years old. Not only did I see her running around, she also helped set up all the place setting and center pieces at the dinner tables!

Ann just pushing the wheel barrel all around the property

Ann just pushing the wheel barrel all around the property

Ann also runs for an hour around the farm property and does yoga. She is in amazing shape and has the energy of my 7 year old! Seriously. She is incredible and she runs on veggies, not caffeine!

After Ann was Dr. Robert Ostfeld who talked about why he prescribes food as medicine. I have heard Dr. Ostfeld on Rich Roll before.

Dr. Ostfeld

Dr. Ostfeld

His talk was very good as well. You can tell his life has been impacted by this lifestyle and how much he looks up to Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn.

After him was Dr. Lisle’s second talk (my favorite one mentioned above) and followed by him was a Plant-Strong Cooking Demonstration by Jane Esselstyn (Rip’s sister and Ann and Dr. Esselstyn’s daughter).

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The cooking demo was all recipes from their cookbook which is one of my favorites. It was nice to see how they just throw stuff together. It was also really nice to see the interaction between Ann and Jane. They are actually neighbors back in Ohio and they said as they were writing their cook book they’d run across the path that connects their homes and share recipes. They truly are too cute.

I adore Jane because she is feisty. She’s a nurse and she also taught sex-ed to kids in schools for years. Her humor and energy is infectious.

Finally, they closed out the day with a Q&A session with all the speakers who were left. They Q&A lasted almost an HOUR!

The Q&A panel

The Q&A panel

It was really neat because a lot of people stood up and shared some of their stories and asked really good questions and the doctors all responded.

After the Q&A was Rip’s final speech on Hope. He also shared some information about an up and coming documentary that will rival the popularity and importance of Forks Over Knives. The audience was even given a sneak peak. It was really good and really exciting. I cannot wait for it to come out.

When they let us go, I had a wave of sadness sort of come over me. I missed my family but I didn’t want to leave. There is just something about this place that warms my heart. Besides being peaceful and gorgeous, just watching this family interact before all to see, was so touching. They are, special.

Rip and his family - his wife Jill, and kids Cole, Sofie and Hope - all plant-based

Rip and his family – his wife Jill, and kids Cole, Sofie and Hope – all plant-based

The other grandkids. All plant-based and stellar athletes.

The other grandkids. All plant-based and stellar athletes.

They just truly opened up their home to 250 random strangers. I mean really opened up their entire property to us, their time, their energy and their dreams and aspirations for what they would love to see in people’s health.

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I gathered my things and went in search of Char Nolan, the woman who was the reason behind my volunteering and who is the voice behind a lot of the social media posts for both Engine 2 and Dr. Esselstyn.

Char Nolan

Char Nolan

I found Char and gave her a quick hug. I missed saying goodbye to some of the other people I had met, some of whom were originally Instagram “friends” which is crazy if you think about it.

I made the long 2.5 hour drive back to New Jersey all by myself with a lot on my mind. I rehashed the weekend over in my head. Tried to remember the pieces that stood out most. Overall, it was a wonderful dream come true kind of weekend for me.

I wish that in some capacity, I could do what they are doing or support them in some way because I love to share the plant-based way of living. A lot of times I wish that maybe I had gone into medicine but I don’t think that is the answer. My passion is definitely health, plant-based health and if I could find a way, I would devote myself 100% to working towards making this my life’s work.

In the meantime, I am content to work on my family’s health. Vans is 90% of the way there (some days) and the girls, well the girls are my struggle. The Peanut knows what is healthy but she is more or less afraid. I keep trying to find ways to make them try things that may be foreign to them or may look weird … I am working on those smaller battles before I try and win the war.

Until then, I hope you stick with me. I will try to be a bit more regular with my posts. I need to start developing some topics to write about. I do have some races ahead so that will be nice.

I am gearing up to start some road running again, something I haven’t done in quite a while. It will be good for me because road running definitely is a mental game that will make you tougher all around.

If you have any questions about Plant-Stock feel free to comment. I know I wrote a lengthy post but it truly was two days of amazing.

My shining moment - Rip and I on Sunday morning

My shining moment – Rip and I on Sunday morning before all the talks began

Ya, you could say I look a little bit excited in that photo! :)

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

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BURSTING AT THE SEAMS WITH EXCITEMENT

Quite a few months ago, when I was in the midst of my Rouxbe cooking certification and reading more and more about Engine2 and Dr. Esselstyn and their messages for a heart healthy way of living via a plant-based diet, I heard about this ‘event’ called Plant-Stock.

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Just the name intrigued me let alone the fact that I have been reaping the benefits of a plant-based diets for the last 20+ years. :)

If you didn’t already know, I am very passionate about living plant-based and sharing any and everything I know about it to anyone who wants to listen. Just because I have been this way since I was about 16 years old, doesn’t mean I know everything which is why I took the eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition course a few years ago and more recently, Rouxbe’s Professional Plant-Based Cooking Course. I just yearn to know all that I can, read all that I can so that I can share all that I can.

I am sure many of you have heard or seen the movie Forks Over Knives. If you haven’t, I highly recommend you rent it, borrow it or download it as soon as possible. I owe that movie for Vans finally making the switch to an (almost) plant-based lifestyle and sticking with it for over 3 years now.

There is a scene in that movie, where they are talking to Dr. Esselstyn on his family farm in Claverack, New York. THAT is the place I am going to be this weekend! Let me clarify, I am going to listen to and (hopefully) meet the following plant-based legends I have spent the last few years following, reading and learning from while spending two days at the Esselstyn Family Farm in NY:

T. Collin Campbell, Ph.D

T. Collin Campbell, Ph.D

Dr. Campbell, the author behind The China Study and Whole as well as the man behind the eCornell Plant-Based Nutrition course.

Rip Esselstyn

Rip Esselstyn

The firefighter, triathlete and author behind The Engine 2 Diet and My Beef with Meat.

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn

The author behind Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Dr. Esselstyn presently directs the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute and is one of the biggest voices in promoting a Plant-Based diet.

Ann Crile Esselstyn

Ann Crile Esselstyn

Jane Esselstyn

Jane Esselstyn

Ann and Jane Esselstyn co-authored the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook that is just fabulous and full of yummy amazing recipes. I am super excited to meet these two. Jane, a nurse, is also going to hold a cooking demonstration!

I am very excited to hear the other speakers as well. Many of whom I have either read their books or know about them and their messages.

Dr. Tom Campbell

Dr. Tom Campbell – author of the Campbell Plan

Dr. Neal Barnard

Dr. Neal Barnard – author of Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes

Dr. Doug Lisle - Author of the Pleasure Trap

Dr. Doug Lisle – author of the Pleasure Trap

Dr. Robert Ostfeld

Dr. Robert Ostfeld – founder and director of the Cardiac Wellness Program at Montefiore Medical Center in NYC

Howard Lyman

Howard Lyman

As an added bonus, we are also going to watch Plantpure Nation while we are there as well! I am super excited because the night I leave California, that movie is finally being shown in Sacramento and I was bummed to have missed it. Now I get to see it! I also helped fund and support that movie when it was trying to make funding for screening.

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I am beyond excited about this adventure. Of course I am going to miss my girls and Vans but even Vans understands how huge this is for me.

As an added bonus, I will get to visit with Jersey Dad for a bit too but unfortunately, not for very long. I truly wish he could attend this conference with me.

I hope to come back from this trip with a recap for the blog along with photos. You can also follow me on Instagram or Facebook as I am sure I will be posting some updates there as well.

Hopefully, in the meantime, I can figure out what is going on with all my old posts and all the missing photos. :) As usual, stay tuned!

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

(all photos in this post are from here

 

SANTA CRUZ TRAIL RACE 30k Race REPORT

With school starting in two weeks for the Peanut, in a last minute decision (more or less) Vans and I decided we wanted to take one more family getaway. We originally had planned that Sunriver, Oregon would be our only family vacation this year, but we managed to squeeze in one more weekend (truly a weekend) getaway and it wasn’t easy.

One random day while driving around to one of our various swim team events, Vans mentioned Santa Cruz. I did a quick google on my phone and found a trail race the very same weekend he was considering! His response, “Well, we have to go now. You can run and I will ride.”

So, a few more days of finding hotels that fit our needs and dates … we were set. Another Run-cation (as Vans likes to call them) was in the books!

We left on Saturday (not as early as we would have liked which would have been a better idea) and sat in the massive amount of traffic that is the bay area. I was “scolded” (in a humorous way) by a friend for the fact that my girls have never seen or been in the ocean (Peanut has seen the ocean but probably doesn’t remember it).

What can I say? We are Tahoe people through and through. Our girls have been in Lake Tahoe more times than I can count and built many a sand castle on the golden beaches of Lake Tahoe but the bay area? Ugh, sorry, I just cannot stand the drive that way as it is NEVER free from traffic.

So we left Saturday morning and was hit immediately with bumper to bumper traffic getting into Santa Cruz. What should have been a 3 hour drive was slowly turning into 4+ hours. We made some diversions along some local streets but in the end we arrived way later than we had anticipated.

The Beach!

The Beach!

But, we made it and hit Davenport Beach which is a nice quiet, semi secluded beach up Highway 1. Although we were all fully dressed and not in swim suits, the kids were free to do what they liked. The Peanut, albeit a little bit naive about the ocean, loved every minute of it. Squeaker? Not so much. She hated the cold and the noise. The ironic part is that the Peanut (a notoriously terrible sleeper as an infant) was put to bed with wave sounds whereas Squeaker who was always a great sleeper, was not… guess who was afraid of waves!? :)

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Still, it was so amazing to see their excitement even if they complained about the seaweed. Tahoe doesn’t have seaweed. :)

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We checked into our hotel and then departed looking for a place to eat for dinner. I had done a little Trailmomma #plantstrong research before we left home finding a few places that we could visit. The first was the Saturn Cafe which came about because it was closest and we saw it while driving around.

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Basically picture a real diner but made entirely vegan and almost 100% gluten free. That was this place. While not 100% healthy (anything fried, is not healthy) it was pretty incredible.

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The Peanut and her camera skills

Unfortunately, with a race looming early the next morning, I couldn’t go too crazy with all the plant based foods (I have a sensitive tummy) so I kept it low(er) key by sampling a lot.

Sunday morning came faster than I anticipated and so I woke up and snuck away to the lobby with my gluten free oatmeal in search of some hot water. I managed to make a good breakfast. Soon we were on our way to the starting area.

An important item to note here is that Vans’s phone died and I wasn’t about to leave him with the girls and no phone while I was off running in a race for a few hours. I gave him my phone which is why this race report has limited photos. HOWEVER, I want to return to this race because the photos would have been amazing. :)

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This would be the second Inside Trail Race that I have done. The first was the Mt. Tam 50K last November. In typical Inside Trail fashion, the course markings were definitely something you can’t ignore. Once again, I printed the course map and threw it in my pack. I know better with these guys. :)

There was a 10k option, half marathon option and 30k option. I signed up to do the 30k. The first few miles of this race were up hill in sand. Not just sand, but deep beach sand where you sink about 3 inches and slide back a few as well. By mid race, my calves were screaming at me but I was loving every minute of it.

Within the first 4 miles you are also crossing the San Lorenzo River which was about knee high for me. The race director had said in years past, the river was well over his waist!

I started out with a fairly fast pack and was not thinking too much about pacing or anything. I was just happy to be running on new to me trails. Some people may think I am nuts for finding these races and running them solo, but I love it. It really just sets your mind up for something and it is up to you to conquer it. You also really take in your surroundings this way. I kind of love it. :)

At mile 2.5 I happened to run past a porta potty that wasn’t intended for the race (I think it was for some workers actually) but I took advantage of it and then lost my spot. When I emerged from the porta potty, I was stuck in a conga line. Oh well. I passed when I could and eventually found myself spaced out from other runners.

Along the way I had helped two men find their way. They didn’t have a map on them and I guess did not listen to the pre-race talk as they had no idea which ribbons to follow at one point. I told the Half Marathoner that he had to follow the pink ribbons only and if he sees orange ribbons, he has gone the wrong way. The other guy was running the 30k like me. I helped him a few other times along the way when the paths were some what confusing. Ironically, this will come back to me later in the race.

A 30K is just a smidgen over 18 miles and so they only had 3 aid-stations on the course, one of which you passed twice. They are very efficient with the way they set up these races and have the course. I relied a little too heavily on the idea that the aid-stations would have something for me to eat and therefore I didn’t bring too much in the way of my own fuel. That was not a well planned out idea as the aid-stations didn’t have any gluten free options for me. They had sugary items but no gluten free salty items and the items that I brought with me, were sugary in nature as well. Oh well. I made due and continued on my way never staying long at any of the aid-stations.

Vans and the girls were wandering around the grounds

Vans and the girls were wandering around the grounds

At the second aid-station I caught up to the woman who had been in front of me. She seemed extra paranoid that I had caught her. We talked briefly and then I started out on the trail before her. She was very quick to follow and then she started up a conversation with me up a hill.

As she was talking we noticed a group of mountain bikers. Between the mountain bikers and her talking, we missed our turn and realized it about a mile later, that we were going backwards around the loop that we needed to run. The girl panicked big time and started running away. I kept telling her that I had a map and we could figure it out. Then we ran into another girl who was also going the wrong way … she too was kind of freaking out. I was calm as can be and was intent on figuring out how to get back to where we needed to be in order to do the correct loops.

Both of these girls would not listen to me and took off back towards the finish. In the end, they skipped a whole loop of the course (about 4 to 5 miles worth) and I betcha anything, are the two girls listed on the finish list in my age group as 3rd and 4th place. Karma was not good to me there. I had been helping other runners all day and then got myself lost! ha! Oh well. I was smiling the entire time.

I did the right loop and tried to make up time. I did as I eventually caught up to the guy who had been running behind me the entire day. He laughed that I got lost (he was the guy I had helped earlier).

The way back was fun. It was SO humid outside that I even contemplated taking off my shirt and I NEVER do that. The river felt amazing when I had to go through it a second time.

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Eventually I realized that I must have been close to the finish. Luckily, we avoided the sandy section on our return. Soon enough, I saw Vans and heard the girls! They were on the trail cheering me on.

My race shirt

My race shirt

I finished in just over 3.5 hours which I was okay with considering I ran an extra mile or so when I got lost and spent all that time trying to figure out the course (and porta potty stop). It was fun and I would totally do this race again.

My Medal was stolen by Squeaker

My Medal was stolen by Squeaker

Vans and the girls had a blast exploring Henry Cowell State Park while I was off running. They have some amazing red woods here and the girls were just in awe over them.

Big Tree!

Big Tree!

Post race we wandered the grounds as a family which was good and bad. Good as I enjoyed seeing everything, bad as I didn’t take enough time to stretch post race but the walking felt great.

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The rest of the weekend we spent doing all kinds of fun things. We hit the Santa Cruz Boardwalk which was a blast. The Peanut is like me and likes rides a lot, especially somewhat scary ones. :)

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Our view from the Ferris Wheel - amazing

Our view from the Ferris Wheel – amazing

Squeaker was able to ride her first ever ferris wheel AND she went on a (small) roller coaster – not sure how she feels about that now (she was a little freaked during).

On the roller coaster!

On the roller coaster!

Strange creatures roam the Santa Cruz Boardwalk

Strange creatures roam the Santa Cruz Boardwalk

On Monday, before leaving town, we had a few other things that we needed to get done. One of them was for Vans to visit the Derby Skate Park in Santa Cruz.

Found it!

Found it!

This park was odd (to me) and full of local kids who were chatting it up with Vans. It was funny. Post skate park, we had to find the Santa Cruz bike shop hub …

Found it!

Found it!

The girls liked it

The girls liked it

Then it was time for more strange plant-based eateries for lunch … the girls and Vans were not a fan of Dharmas. It definitely takes some getting used to.

The Peanut is drinking a mint chocolate coconut vegan smoothie that she actually liked

The Peanut is drinking a mint chocolate coconut vegan smoothie that she actually liked

After lunch, we headed to Capitola Beach for one more jaunt into the ocean. This time we all put on swim suits and went in. Well, everyone except Squeaker. She was content to play in the sand the entire time.

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Over all, it was a great short trip. The traffic in both directions was incredibly terrible reminding us why we never head to the bay area. We are mountain people at heart and luckily, the traffic to Tahoe is usually manageable. Still, our last vacation before school starts was a success. The girls had fun and were happy to get home to our two new fur babies.

Jersey & Reagan

Jersey & Reagan

TiggerT was a great auntie cat sitter for us. The kittens were in great hands the entire time.

Not sure when my next blog post will happen. I have to figure out this blog transfer stuff and fast. I am also doing some traveling to the east coast next week for something I am crazy excited for. I was hoping to do a whole blog post related to it so I better figure out this blog transfer thing and fast!

Until then…

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Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES & KITTENS

How is that for a funny blog title? I have not been posting much because I have until August 19th to figure out how to transfer my hosted files from GoDaddy to my new domain host (I think I got that terminology right) but I have had so many things “pop up” in the meantime that solving that issue is the farthest thing from my brain at the moment.

The Trailmomma household has expanded. We decided to finally adopt. Not a baby baby, but two adorable fur babies!

Kittens!

Kittens!

Jersey is the grey kitten and he is 3 months old and Reagan is the black kitten and she is 2 months old. So stinking cute and so much work. Still, it is kind of nice to have “babies” in the house again and my girls are totally smitten …. Vans is almost there. :)

New Kitten Toys!

New Kitten Toys!

So with the addition of Jersey and Reagan, real work, and crewing for Pigeon at Tahoe Rim … life was pretty busy. I spent a week or so after TRT trying to edit a silly little vlog kind of video of my day crewing for her. I have a terrible camera and I didn’t plan well for it, but I had fun trying to do it … maybe something I may try and do more in the future. It took a lot of time to edit together and I am not 100% thrilled with the outcome but I don’t mind sharing.

If you care to see the video, you can click HERE.

Anyway, that’s what has been going on here. I may have more to write about next week as I have a few exiting things coming down the pipeline that I am VERY excited about so please stay tuned!

Once again, thanks for reading!

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

TAHOE RIM TRAIL 100 (CREW)

As I said in my last post, I was headed up to Tahoe this past weekend to crew and pace Pigeon in her third attempt at the brutal, unrelenting Tahoe Rim Trail 100 mile race.

This race is not an easy race no matter what distance you choose. Whether you are running the 55k, the 50 mile or the 100 mile, this course can really throw all the elements at you in one day.

Last year Pigeon suffered through massive rain, hail, thunder and lightning while running on top of one of the highest peaks in the Lake Tahoe area. There are miles upon miles of exposed open trail covered in lung choking dust and the smallest particles of gravel you have ever seen.

In short, this weekend is a tough weekend all around both for the runner and the crew. So sit back, and enjoy the recap. As usual, it’s long. ☺

Friday after work, I drove up to Tahoe. I stopped at Squaw Valley for the annual Wanderlust Festival. I love stopping here to walk around, stretch my legs, use the bathrooms and of course, check out all the freebies they have to offer! I also scored a snack since I had skipped lunch that day in exchange for driving.

Crazy overpriced but good Spring Roll

Crazy overpriced but good Spring Roll

Pigeon and Missouri secured a condo again this year near Diamond Peak Ski Resort which proves to be the best way to go about handling this race, especially for the crew and most definitely for a crew with a 6 month old!

JCM!

JCM!

That’s right, Missouri and I were going to crew Pigeon while also trying to entertain little JCM who is super in love with his mama and only his mama right now. Let’s just say, Missouri put in double duty this weekend big time.

Friday night we discussed plans, routes and expectations for the weekend. Pigeon seemed way more relaxed and calm than she has years prior. She ran and completed Quicksilver in May so she has her qualifier for Western States 2016 which meant the pressure was off so to speak for this race. Her only goal was to finish.

We all went to bed early knowing that we all had different jobs in the morning. Pigeon and Missouri had to head to the starting line which is at Spooner Lake (near South Shore) and I was going to wake up a bit later and head to Tunnel Creek so that I could catch Pigeon coming through the aid-station at miles 12 and 17. The race started at 5 am and Pigeon and had all her predicted times written out for us. I wanted to be at Tunnel Creek with plenty of time to see her come through.

To be honest, I was a tad bit nervous in how the weekend would play out. What Pigeon doesn’t know (and still doesn’t actually) is that a week ago to the day, I had teeny tiny accident at home that has since caused me some pain. I slipped while removing the solar cover off the pool and cracked my tailbone against the side of the cement pool. Yup. As far as I know, nothing is broken. What I do know is that I can’t really sit well on hard surfaces and it hurts to sneeze but running? Well, I kept up with my mid-week short runs the week before Tahoe and while not exactly stellar, things are slowly getting better. I was just concerned mostly about falling while running with Pigeon because we have a rule if I fall while pacing her …. She will only stop if she sees protruding bone or if I hit my head (we never actually clarified that second part but I’d like to hope that she’d stop for that too – haha).

As I climbed up Tunnel Creek things felt okay. It’s a long uphill climb with a few flat sections. My goal was to just go easy and run when I could. However, the “problem” with this trail is that it is so darn beautiful. Seriously, it is begging you to stop and take photographs.

Insane sunrise

Insane sunrise

When I had left my car and started my assent, it was rather warm. Years past I have always carried a jacket and never ever used it. This year, I left the jacket in the car. HUGE mistake. Huge.

Of course I was warm hiking but the minute I got to the top of Tunnel Creek where the volunteers were still setting up the aid-station, the wind came and the cold. Bitter, bitter cold. I immediately started shivering.

aid-station up ahead

aid-station up ahead

“Crap! Why didn’t I bring my jacket? I can’t hike back down I’ll miss her coming through!” Just as I was sitting there battling myself, a nice older gentleman came over and asked me if I wanted a coat. I felt terrible, I said no immediately. I told him to save it for his volunteers (there were tons of other people freezing too who actually belonged up there). He asked me THREE times if I was sure.

Then, I remembered I had my 99 cent poncho that I purchased at Target in my hydration pack in case it rained. This thing is thinner than a garbage bag but at least it would protect a little against the wind (I was wearing shorts and a tank top mind you). I threw on my bright red poncho an sat there shivering on a rock watching the clock willing it to move faster so that at least I’d have a reason to get up and move around.

The next thing that I knew, that same man came over with a blanket for me. He took it out of the bag and simply said, “Just leave it over there when you leave.” Seriously the SWEETEST! Turns out he was the head medical guy at this aid-station and I am forever indebted to his kindness.

Freezing my gluten free buns off.

Freezing my gluten free buns off.

Almost on cue, Pigeon came running into Tunnel Creek. She looked good. I can’t assist her at this aid-station, so I had to watch from the outside until she came outside the ropes. She said she felt good. She looked good. Serious.

She took off on the Red House Loop (6 miles) and I figured that I would see her in about 90 minutes or so. In the meantime, I saw Stonegate and Burning Girl who were running their first Tahoe 55k come through. They came running into the aid-station and I gave them big old cheer. They looked good and were smiling which made me smile more. We chatted on the trail for a bit and they too took off on the Red House Loop – one of the volunteers standing there said, “So you’re done chatting now? Ready to run?” as they left! Hahaha ☺

Stonegate and Burning Girl

Stonegate and Burning Girl

When Pigeon came back up the hill I had run down to meet her. She looked okay. She was still serious. Not much smiling going on with her. She was focused. She didn’t look like she was in any discomfort so that was good.

Pigeon focused

Pigeon focused

When she took off towards Diamond Peak I returned my borrowed blanket and took off down the hill. I hated that I would miss Stonegate and Burning Girl as they returned through Tunnel Creek but the time frame was too short for me to get down the hill, get back to the condo, eat, change and load the car for Diamond Peak (mile 30).

I got a smile before she left for Diamond Peak

I got a smile before she left for Diamond Peak

Maybe if I didn’t stop to take 503 photos on my way down I would have had more time (haha) … I am telling you, I LOVE this stinking road up to Tunnel Creek. ☺

Soaking it all in.

Soaking it all in.

Being a goofball

Being a goofball

I literally made it back to the condo in time to change out of my sweaty clothes, grab something to eat to bring with us and helped Missouri load the car with all the gear we’d need for Pigeon at Diamond Peak.

The parking at Diamond is a pain in the butt and this year we had the gear wagon and JCM and his stroller and gear. So I pulled the wagon which was packed full with chairs, coolers, umbrellas etc up the dirt ski run to the back of Diamond Peak while Missouri pushed the stroller.

We immediately set up camp in the shade (score) and then I moved to the front to wait for Pigeon to come through. The temps were starting to rise now. I was no longer cold. It was hot.

It seemed liked forever, but still close to her predicted time, Pigeon came into Diamond Peak. She looked good. She ate solid food, she smiled – nothing seemed to be bugging her. Seeing JCM brought a good smile to her face.

Coming into Mile 30

Coming into Mile 30

We refilled her pack, made her eat, she put on more sunscreen and without much time wasted, she started her climb up the ski run of Diamond Peak.

The whole family - JCM was the master behind it all

The whole family – JCM was the master behind it all

Sunscreening herself

Sunscreening herself

Heading up Diamond Peak

Heading up Diamond Peak

I helped Missouri reload the wagon. Vans and the girls came up that afternoon and so I stayed at Diamond Peak with them while Missouri brought JCM back to the condo for a much needed nap.

My girls!

My girls!

The period between seeing Pigeon at 30 miles and then again at 50 miles is pretty long so this is an ideal time for the crew to catch up on sleep and eat. I had lunch with my family and the new all returned to condo where I took a quick 30 minute nap on the couch.

Vans and the girls said goodbye. I was so happy they came to see me. They were bummed they had missed Pigeon coming into Diamond Peak by only a few minutes but they were still in awe of the craziness that was happening around them.

Around 5 pm, Missouri and I loaded the car again complete with JCM and made our way to Spooner Lake in South Shore where Dasie and Kuni (crew #2) would also be waiting for us. Kuni was scheduled to pace Pigeon from the 50 mile marker to the 80 mile marker where I would then take over and bring her into the finish.

Kuni and Dasie - the cutest

Kuni and Dasie – the cutest

We found them almost immediately when we entered Spooner Recreation Area. State Parks changed the way they handled the race this year in regards to parking and I have to say, I kind of liked it! There was not as much parking but it wasn’t a pain to try and get in the gates.

We made our way to the aid-station, debated on a location for our set up and then just sat and waited. It was getting chilly out but at least it wasn’t raining like last year.

Again, not far off schedule, Pigeon came into the aid-station. She immediately said she needed to have her feet taped by the medical volunteers as she was starting to get blisters.

Assessing the foot situation

Assessing the foot situation

While Kuni was helping with that, the aid-station allowed one additional crew member into the area to help. I took over being the liaison between Pigeon and Kuni who were sitting in the medical tent to Dasie, Missouri and JCM who were outside aid-station with all the gear.

Discussing the plan

Discussing the plan

Pigeon changed her socks and her shorts here. She was able to eat another turkey and avocado sandwich which was a good sign. If you can still eat solid foods after 50 miles, that’s a bonus.

She didn’t spend too much time here. The majority of the time was just taping her feet. Other runners had spent way more time in the aid-station in comparison.

There they go!

There they go!

Soon they were running all “head-lamped” down the trail! She was on her way and she looked strong. We wouldn’t see her again until the next morning at Diamond Peak (mile 80). I got excited. Things were looking good!

Missouri, JCM and I made our way back to North Shore to the condo. JCM had about had it for the day and I was starving and in need of a shower, bad. I wanted to eat, shower and get to bed as I knew that I’d have to get up early to begin my pacing duties.

I woke up at 11 pm freaking out that I had overslept and missed everything. I laughed and then went back to bed. I finally woke up at 3 am, packed my car for good (Missouri had to check out that morning) and made my way to Diamond Peak.

This aid-station moves inside at night due to the noise factor and the complaining neighbors. Inside the ski resort there were bodies spread out everywhere. Crew members napping, runners laying on cots who were exhausted. It was complete organized chaos.

People are sleeping under that tent in the corner

People are sleeping under that tent in the corner

Runners who needed to lay down

Runners who needed to lay down

I found some friends, chatted for a bit and then scored a corner when they left to set up camp for us. Then, we sat and waited. I had checked online before leaving the condo to see what Pigeon’s check in times were at the other aid-stations during the night.

When I saw that she had checked out of Tunnel Creek at 3 am, I knew something must have been wrong. I was hoping it was the timing situation. Per Pigeon’s calculations, she should have been out of Tunnel earlier than 3 am.

Pigeon had been 10 to 15 minutes off her schedule (roughly) all day. Sometimes she’d hit the mark and others just be 10 minutes off so we were not too worried when 15 minutes went by and she had not come in yet. Then, Dasie’s phone rang.

I won’t lie. My heart jumped into my chest. I thought, “Holy crap! Here we go! I am going to finally be able to get to run with her! Yes! She is going to do this!” Then I realized the conversation was taking much longer than a “She’s almost there” message … Kuni is not a man of many words, and he was talking to Dasie a lot.

Something was happening with Pigeon’s feet. It was bad. We had to pack up. Pigeon wanted the car moved up the road into the neighborhood. That meant unpacking the aid-station we had set up, loading up JCM and his stuff and having Missouri race down to the lower lot to get the car so that we could load everything back into it.

I ended up pushing the stroller and pulling the full wagon out of Diamond Peak by myself to get to the upper parking lot where Missouri was trying to bring the car.

I then hopped into Dasie’s car while Missouri loaded JCM and we drove up the road to find where the trail touches the road. I hopped out of the car and decided that I would just run onto the course until I came to them. I wore my sweatshirt so that I could give it to Pigeon.

So many runners were coming down. Some in great spirits. Some not so much. I saw this one guy who when coming at me, he looked like an angel with wings! For a minute, I thought I was seeing things and I couldn’t get my phone out fast enough to take a photo from the front. As it turns out, he had a space blanket under his pack …

Angel Dude

Angel Dude

Up and up and up I ran and hiked. I kept sending texts to Missouri telling her how far up I had to go and that I had not reached them yet. I also kept an eye on the clock. If Pigeon was only walking, there is no way she’d make the 7:35 am cut off at Diamond Peak not to mention the fact that if she did, she’d be racing cut offs all day long.

Finally about a mile and a half from where Dasie had dropped me off, I saw them. Pigeon’s face was crestfallen. She just looked defeated and angry and of course, sad. Kuni filled me in on her feet and how massively huge the many blisters were that she had and what had transpired during the night.

She could barely move her feet and the trail ahead wasn’t easy. There were many obstacles to maneuver over.

I tried to joke a little here and there. Kuni did too. She would smile every so often but you could tell in her heart, she was done but that it was eating her alive that all except for her feet, she felt fine. She felt strong. She was trained.

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We had a mile and a half to the car. I didn’t want to tell her that because when you are in that much pain, a mile and a half seems like another 100 miles. Step by step we all made our way down the hill. I was texting Missouri as we’d go, filling her in every time we’d make it a half mile or so.

We finally got to the car and Pigeon just got inside. That was it. She was done. We all drove back to Diamond Peak as we had to officially declare her as “dropped” and she wanted her feet to be seen by medical to see if anything could be done.

She had made it 80 freaking miles! Her longest distance covered yet. She got to see the sun rise, set and rise again! If it wasn’t for her darn feet, she would have finished.

Sunrising on the trail

Sunrising on the trail

As it turns out, medical wouldn’t even touch her feet. They advised her to keep the shoes and tape on for as long as she could and then soak in Epsom salts a few times a day to avoid infections. Unfortunately, she had to check out of the condo and drive two hours home before she could soak anything.

It was heart breaking to watch her drop again especially knowing how in shape and how well-trained and prepared she was for this race. The temperature was on her side most of the day (not too hot) and it never rained. She fueled herself well all day long. She had juice in the legs still but unfortunately, her feet looked as if they had been through the meat grinder.

The guy with medical suggested she invest in some gators for Tahoe running and after our training run a few weeks ago, I can 100% agree with his suggestion. The gravel and sand on these Tahoe trails is so fine and there is so much of it, that you are just covered in it head to toe, literally. The dust gets in your lungs and the gravel in your shoes and under your shoe liners until it shreds your toes and socks to pieces. Gators for Tahoe I think are a must have. This is definitely food for thought for me if and when I run this race someday.

I wish I could have ended on a happier note, I know Pigeon does too but it isn’t for lack of trying. I am so dang proud of her. I really am. She is the most determined and focused runner I know which is why when outside factors determine your outcome, it makes it harder to swallow.

Rest up Pigeon! Let those feet and legs heal. Tahoe will always be there. It isn’t going anywhere. Dig deep within yourself and be confident and proud. You are a wise runner and soon, you’ll have bigger trails to conquer and I hope that I can be by your side then too. Thanks for allowing me on your journey. JCM has one badass mama (two actually, cause Missouri is pretty darn badass herself to handle crewing and a baby). ☺

Finally, a special shout out to Vans. He came up to support me even though I was crewing and not running. He brought the girls which made me smile. I love involving them in this stuff and explaining that it isn’t always about running the race – you have to crew, volunteer and support the race too.

Nice photobomb Squeaker

Nice photobomb Squeaker

Happy Trails!

~Trailmomma

***PS: I am fully aware that if you are viewing this on a mobile device that the photos are sideways or upside down. For an OPTIMAL viewing experience, please read from your PC or computer as I believe the photos will be upright. I apologize for the inconvenience. This is still a work in progress.*** 

Trail Running + Mommyhood = the best adventures