Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Still Tempted

After my last long run this past Friday, I got to thinking that although I have gone Vegan, I still crave some things that I know are not healthy & even worse, PROCESSED.

WHY the cravings? Is it from some primitive, deep down hunger inside me? Is it old memories from my youth? Or is is just because I am weak willed?

Maybe, just M A Y B E, it is a bit of each.

When I am at my weakest & crave something to fill that nutritional need during & after a long run, I tend to go to my  comfort food.

WRONG!

This is where they say we need to “get out of our comfort zone.” I need to do this & be conscientious about it.

As far as eating PROCESSED foods, I already know the science. I already know that it is not good for me & that all of those ingredients that I cannot pronounce are things that I should not eat.

My common sense tells me to eat more RAW FOODS & less & less of processed anything.

Raw is how things were created by our Creator. Common sense says that it has got to be better for you.

So . . . as I plan my next run (short or long), I need to plan my eating so that I am not caught up in the wave of unhealthy & processed food just because they are vegan.

May the Plants be with you.

Ken

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Searching . . .

I am STILL SEARCHING for those vegan friendly, runner friendly foods.

For ease & convenience, I found Justin’s Nut Butters. They come in individual packets (like GU) & are in Almond Butter, Maple Almond Butter, Original Peanut Butter & Honey Peanut Butter. I LOVE ‘EM!

They have ALL the features of a perfect ultra running vegan fare.

If I am anywhere near a convenience store, I am finding that they are starting to carry containers of fresh fruit. (NOTE: This is great if you’re near a store, but not if you’re out on a long run on the trails.)

What I did find however, was a really cool recipe in a book called Feed Zone Portables. In it, there is a GREAT recipe for Red Lentil Rice Cakes.
I’ve made them countless times & have been able to tweak the spicing to change up the taste.

To veganize it, I used Plain Coconut Yogurt instead of the Greek Yogurt. I also add in minced jalapeƱo as I LOVE the kick.

I cut them & wrap them into small pieces
& then
wrap each piece in foil.
They pack well & travel in a pack perfectly.

Try ‘em!

See you on the trail.


Ken

Sunday, July 12, 2015

BONKED!

Well folks, as a Vegan Ultra Runner, I am still learning (slow often times, but still learning.)

Our Friday night “adventures” organized by local Ultra Running superstar Kathy Hoover (co-owner of Runner’s World Tulsa) takes us all through Tulsa & most of the times, we are near to a local convenience store (QuikTrip).

Although my hydration pack was full of Skratch, I still needed something more.


I ended up wolfing down an individual squeeze packet of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter! It is Da Bomb & I can eat them all day.

This night adventure was suppled to be just a tad over 17 miles however it was just not my night.

Queazy stomach had me turn around at about the 6 mile mark but unfortunately I would not make it back to the store before having to lay flat out on a park picnic table to “settle things down”.  It was “The Dreaded BONK!”

With my trying so hard to watch what I am eating during my long runs, I get to the QT’s & end up only refilling my hydration pack with water & ice & forgo getting anything to eat!

My Bad! (NOTE: I also did this during the recent Urban Adventure 100 in June.)

I really need to get better at this Vegan convenience store thing as most of our night adventures uses these as aid stations.

If I don’t learn fast, I fear that I will be quite familiar with the dreaded BONK!

Run on my vegan friends.





Sunday, June 21, 2015

Frustrated!

Good evening.

It’s been a bit since my last post, but things have been hectic! The beginning of June brought the Inaugural Urban Adventure 100 here to Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was sponsored by Runner’s World Tulsa. A few things to comment on in regards to this race.

1) I was way undertrained (what else is new?) but knew the drill & how it was going to hurt.

2) The heat was INTENSE! The week prior to the race; May 30th; the weather was very nice, & perfect for running an ultra. The weekend of the race however, it was predicted to get close to 100 F!

3) I was (as always), unsure of how I was going to fuel during the race.
Now - - - the race was on a 25 mile loop with race distances from 25 miles (one loop) all the way up to the full 100 (four loops). 

The course wound through various parts of Tulsa so runners got a pretty good view of our beautiful city.

Race morning was beautiful however temperatures quickly rose as the sun rose higher in the sky. As this was a low key race, there were no course markings (we were all given a course map - turn by turn), the course WAS NOT closed to traffic (we had to watch crossing streets) & our aid stations were Quik Trip (convenience stores). For the 100 mile course, we all got a $50 QT card to purchase whatever food & drinks we needed for the race. Runner’s World Tulsa was the start/finish for all loops & the race as a whole.

Being a vegan runner, this initially posed a problem as much of their fare was not vegan. I opted for a bag of potato chips on my first loop which turned out not to be a good decision. With the temperatures rising quickly, I should have taken in more calories. I forgot all about the pre-packaged, fresh watermelon that they have! It was not until I got back to Runner’s World, were I took in some solid calories. Sprout’s Farmer’s Market in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma made a donation in kind of (2) cases of bananas, (1) case of apples & (5) bags of oranges! I was in heaven.

Needless to say, it might have been a bot too late as I was already depleted a bit & temperatures were high! Throughout the day, they reached close to 97 F.

Out of the 31 runners who entered the 100 mile distance, approximately 11 finished. I ended up dropping after mile 34 when I had a total melt-down.

As always, I felt guilty afterwards & felt that I should have pushed harder. If I could have held on a few more hours, the sun would have set & temperatures would have dropped as well.

Funny how one’s mind is stressed equally or even more so during an ultra. Hindsight is much more clearer.

Oh well, it was God’s will that I drop back.

A fall 100 miler is in the plans as well as an arctic run in northern Manitoba, Canada this November.

Stay tuned.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Choices, Choices, Choices

As on most Saturday mornings, I am out running with my buds (duh!). Although distances vary, we often end up back at Runner’s World Tulsa to cool down, hydrate & re-load our carbohydrate stores.

Herein lies the dilemma (or as I said - - - CHOICES!).

Being a Vegan Runner DOES NOT MEAN that one has to eat healthy. There are plenty of vegan junk food choices so a vegan lifestyle DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL A HEALTHY lifestyle.

This is where one needs to be careful with what one choses to re-fuel with & if there is nothing healthy, to have iron wills to not eat the junk & head out to your local healthy restaurant to re-fuel.

As I rambled about in an earlier post,OREOS are vegan.

Are they healthy - - - - I think NOT! (they are good though)

Well how about something crunchy? Also, after all that running & sweating (loosing sodium), something crunchy AND salty would be nice.
Well it might taste good at the moment, but it is not necessarily healthy.

Fritos, Lays Potato Chips, cracker Jacks are all LOADED with nasty additives (not to mention way too much sodium).


Better yet, why not choose something natural AND healthy? Something like carrot sticks or some fresh fruit!

Surly one can have some fresh orange slices, sliced apples, bananas (love that potassium, eh?).

If things are planned out, you can re-fuel healthy.

At a recent trip to Sprout’s, I found Justin’s Almond Butter in individual packets! What a GOLD MINE!

With all of this new found info, go enjoy your long runs & re-load with HEALTHY snacks!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Don’t Be Fooled! Eat Smart!

Don’t be fooled into thinking that following a Vegan lifestyle is totally healthy. Sure, you eat lots of fruit, veggies & the like BUT there are plenty of vegan-friendly foods that are totally NOT HEALTHY.

You CAN be a Vegan Junk Foodie.

In case you did not know, Oreos are vegan! Yes, those deliciously decadent little rounds of chocolate cookie with that creamy filling. You know - - - the ones that you cannot stop until you’ve eaten almost half of the package.

As you would know, potatoes are indeed vegan (DUH right?)

Well not all potatoes are created equal.

Those golden salty french fries; although vegan; are NOT HEALTHY. They are however, artery clogging with all of that saturated fat in which they are fried in.

And that ketchup that you dip them in - - - - it IS NOT considered “a vegetable”. Although it can contain some tomatoes, it is loaded with SUGAR!

So, if you are going vegan for health reasons as well as ethical ones, EAT SMART!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pot ‘o Vegan Gold

Well my plant loving friends, I will make this post short.

I believe that I found (or at least saw) the pot ‘o gold at the end of the vegan rainbow this weekend.

I attended the Pot Luck meeting of the Vegetarian Society of Tulsa & I only have ONE WORD to describe it - - - WOW!

There was such a plethora of vegan dishes that I found my head spinning! Saliva was flown’ my friends!

I will have to say that although we have not been just eating salad here, my creativity has been no where near what was here.

I mean there were sandwiches, chili, paneer (Indian), various grain & noodle salads and lots of deserts!

Everyone there was extremely friendly & shared many of their vegan experiences & experiments. I am soooo pumped to begin playing with my food (yes I know, Mom always said “Don’t play with your food.”).

My first try here was Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches (well actually it was my second). It was with Almond Dream Mint Chocolate Chip. My second batch was with just chocolate.

It was Da Bomb! I mean - - - I mean - - - I mean it was AWESOME!

This vegan lifestyle is gonna be GREAT!

Plant Power Rocks!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Frustrated (Sort Of).

Good morning, afternoon or evening.

Why frustrated, you might ask? First off, let me go back a few years (or more) to the time when I WAS NOT Vegan or Vegetarian. It would be pre-2014. I was part of the huge throng of carnivores that "just knew" that as an athlete (& even an endurance athlete at that), PROTEIN was king & the best source of protein was from animals (you know, steak, chicken, turkey, eggs, etc.). I was "that guy" would would argue my case about the need for such meats in order to get adequate amounts of protein for my endurance endeavors. When discussing this with a vegetarian or vegan, I went right along with the rest in asking "So, where do  you get your protein from then?" The heated discussion that ensued was a welcome battle of the mind & wit. Despite the good points that where discussed, I remained steadfast in my beliefs.

As 2013 was nearing an end, all of the reading that I had been doing for months about HEALTH, WELLNESS, NUTRITION, ETC. came to a head! As an engineer by degree, I am all about "the facts". And "the facts" were clearly telling me that my carnivorous lifestyle was directing me away from long lasting health & down the road of sickness & disease!

I am also NOT the type of person who dips his proverbial big toe in to check the water. Noooo, I just JUMPED IN cold turkey (pun intended). January 1, 2014 I was a vegetarian.

Well - - - - not completely cold turkey.

As a admitted Wine Snob, I have yet to find something that goes better with a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon than . . . . . . . . . . CHEESE!

Although I had also cut out most dairy (milk, eggs, sour cream & yes . . . even ice cream), I had a problem cutting out cheese! I mean come on folks - Cheese? Really?

As a new vegetarian, I now had a different view. I now understood my wife's frustration when nobody really though of her when we choose restaurants to go out to.

My running was not really affected as I was not eating meat & most dairy. This allowed me to partake of most (if not all) of the ultra fare offered during many of my ultra marathon aid stations. As a matter of fact, I had a 2 HOUR PR at the 2014 Prairie Spirit 100! Was it my new vegetarian diet? Unfortunately not however my point here is that it did not affect my ultra running negatively. In actuality, I do believe that my recovery was faster & with less muscle soreness.

Now back to the frustration part.

Being a vegetarian made me re-think where we went out for dinner & to scrutinize the menus more closely. I mean I DID want to eat more than just salad! In actuality, things were okay. Most cuisines had something that I could eat besides a salad.


As time marched on, I read more (E.g. The china Study & Whole) & watched more documentaries (E.g. Forks Over Knives, Fed Up, Eating, etc.) & realized that I needed to go Whole Hog; either all in, or all out! I needed to cut out ALL animal products - - - even my beloved cheese!


Once again, it was a cold turkey change. January 1, 2015, I went VEGAN!

I was totally stoked & excited about my newly discovered truth & I had not felt better. Herein though, was the beginning of my REAL frustration.

I realized that society DOES NOT LIKE VEGANS (or vegetarians either). Going out to a restaurant has now become a real chore, a real challenge to find something that I can indeed eat (besides iceberg lettuce or a tossed salad).

"Can I get this without croutons, without cheese, without salad dressing, without bacon bits, without . . . " You get the idea!

"Oh, that burrito has cheese sauce?"

Sheesh!

Well, I have found a few places in town that are vegan friendly & now have black bean burgers, adzuki strips, grilled tofu or tempeh and a host of fabulous new favors.

I also found a great book; Feed ZonePortables that has enough tweak-able recipes that I could make vegan.

The Red Lentil & Rice Squares are perfect to throw into my hydration back for super carbs & protein during my long runs.

The real test was the 2015 rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Endurance Run this past January 31st. It was to be my FIRST ultra marathon as a vegan.

I will have to say that aid station fare at most ulras is not really vegan friendly. Although I was able to eat all the fruit that I wanted (E.g. oranges & bananas), I was not eating the ham & cheese or turkey & cheese sandwiches nor the hot chicken broth that they served in evening when the sun went down & the temperatures dropped! (Luckily they did have some veggie broth which "saved my bacon".) The Red Lentil & Rice squares that I had saved the day.

Although I ended up dropping at mile 75 due to lower back problems, I DID NOT have muscle soreness outside of what was normal nor did I have any intestinal issues. I did recover quickly however & even wanted to run long again the following weekend.

Oh yeah, as for my love for cheese, the feelings are still there, but I have found some great recipes for nut cheeses.

After learning that cheese is approximately 70% fat anyway, I wanted nothing to do with it.

I am still on a steep learning curve, so stay tuned!


Run On Vegan Warrior!