Sleep is Free Medicine – Announcing femMED Sponsorship!

March 20, 2014 by holisticguru

“Welcome to, something like elation when you first open your eyes, just cuz it means, you must have finally got to sleep last night” – Ani Difranco

femMED + Live and Eat Better = Evil Racing MACHINE

femMED + Live and Eat Better = Evil Racing MACHINE

So you guys may not know this about me but I have been struggling with insomnia for about 6 years now.  It had gotten to the point where I would get jealous of people who complained of being sleepy. I’d get angry at John for being asleep next to me as I laid awake for 2+ hours every night.  I consider myself to be one of the lightest sleepers on the planet.  The slightest noise, movement or light will wake me up.  Over the last 6 years I have tried everything and have done countless hours of research.  I started with natural supplements, changing my sleep environment, removing ALL caffeine, sleep apps, etc.  I’m ashamed to say that I got SO desperate that I tried prescription sleep aids from my doctor.  Even those didn’t help and the side effects freaked me out. Ambien came with warnings that I might hallucinate and drive, cook, or have sex in my sleep.  Before going to bed for the couple of weeks that I tried that med, I said goodnight to John with an apology for anything I might do to him while unconscious.  Nothing exciting happened because the drugs didn’t help me sleep.  Eventually I found that one glass of red wine right before bed helped me to fall asleep but not sleep deeply.  Falling asleep was at least something, so I went with that one for a long time.  A glass of red wine every day is fine for a lot of people but I wasn’t comfortable with NEEDING wine to sleep, so I continued my search.

Proof that I sleep soundly now. Check out that bed head and beauty sleep results!

Proof that I sleep soundly now. Check out that bed head and beauty sleep results!

One day I was killing time in Duane Reade and I saw a bottle of femMED Sleep  on the clearance rack.  I have no idea why it was 50% off but I liked the list of ingredients.  I had become familiar with skullcap (to relax your brain), melatonin (to help fall asleep), 5-htp (for sleep and mood) -but I hadn’t found anything that combined them all.  There were also a few ingredients listed that I hadn’t tried (magnolia bark, lemon balm, passion flower, amur bark, L-theanine).  I decided to give it a try.  Lo and behold – I slept on the first night and every night after!  I fell asleep within 15 minutes, slept through the night, and woke up singing Hallelujah!  If you have ever struggled with sleep you know what I’m talking about.  It is a feeling of elation to wake up knowing you finally slept. That was 3 months ago and now I sleep EVERY NIGHT.  I even ran out of the supplement because I couldn’t find it in the store again and I slept anyway, even without taking it.  This leads me to think there is a bit of an adaptogenic effect on me.  This year at SLB was the first of 4 years that I actually slept.  I have had awful insomnia there in the past which has lead to unbearable anxiety.  Now that I was able to sleep, my training increased from 15-18 hours per week to 21-26 per week.  My day was packed and I felt AWESOME.  I would wake up, food shop, put out lunches, train for 4-7 hours, then cook dinner for 10-14 people – like I was a superhero.  I did my fastest climb for my first QOM of SLB and beat some very talented athletes up that mountain. And when it was all said and done I felt like I wanted more.  I even came back to NYC craving a race.  I honestly credit this improved performance 100% to sleep.  Even before SLB I was reaping the benefits of my renewed sleep habits during my 90-mile run weeks to train for Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon.  Plus, I had that January Watchung Marathon overall win.  I think I’m headed into a breakthrough season and I have a couple of big surprises up my sleeve in terms of events and qualifications *hint* *hint*.

Queen of the Mountain at SLB. Check out all of the boys consoling each other in the background. The poor guys all got chicked!

Queen of the Mountain at SLB. Check out all of the boys consoling each other in the background. The poor guys all got chicked!

So, I emailed femMED with a testimonial and a thank you.  I also wanted to inquire about where to purchase their product but instead they agreed to a sponsorship deal because they were inspired by my story!  I’m wildly excited about this.  The company is founded and directed by women and the products are geared towards women’s health.  None of the products are tested on animals.  Check out their story. Their blog is also awesome.

A word about my position on supplements: I am constantly approached by supplement companies offering me product sponsorship and I’ve never even accepted samples from any of them.  I don’t just accept sponsorship deals willy-nilly, you all know that.  I believe in trying to take care of my body through diet and lifestyle FIRST.  I don’t put my name behind products that I don’t LOVE.  That said, there are certain health issues that require more than just diet and lifestyle changes.  Hormonal imbalances, chronic insomnia, nutritional deficiencies… these are all issues that female endurance athletes are known to struggle with.  I take supplements for these specific issues when my training load increases throughout the season.  I use them a bit less during the off-season.  I found femMED through my own exploration and I know that their products work for me.  I will be trying the Hormonal Balance (I’ve had nasty PMS crankiness for the last few months, so much so that John had to wait to propose to me. HA!). I’ll also try using the Energy supplement only as needed if I have a blah day.  And I’m going to replace my multi with the femMED Multi + Antioxidants.

The beginning of my best (most well-rested) season yet. WATCH OUT!

The beginning of my best (most well-rested) season yet. WATCH OUT!

And here’s more good news. My peeps get a 10% discount. Go to www.femmed.com and use code “holistic”.

Sweet dreams!

SLB 2014 – Wrap up!

March 18, 2014 by holisticguru
Climbing cam selfie

Climbing cam selfie

What a freaking awesome trip! Last week I trained 26 hours! I cooked for up to 14 people nearly every night. I made new friends and got to hang with old friends.  SLB has come to an end and I already can’t wait for next year. I’m ready to be back home, take some recovery, start my new internship placement, and focus on my final push for Am Zof! I also have some other exciting news… I’ve been named an All-American Duathlete through USAT! And Jasmine was too. Woot! We had a blast being giddy about the news together. We are both hoping for spots on Team USA for Duathlon World Championships in Zofingen, Switzerland. Fingers crossed!

All-American Duathlete in da hizzouse!

All-American Duathlete in da hizzouse!

This is my life.

This is my life.

 

And I get to marry this guy.

And I get to marry this guy.

I love Spain and SLB but I love home just as much. BIG THINGS on the horizon!

I love Spain and SLB but I love home just as much. BIG THINGS on the horizon!

 

SLB 2014 – Camp 2

March 14, 2014 by holisticguru
Bedtime with a bedtime story in Spanish so that we can keep practicing what we've been learning. John is reading and translating with his phone when we get stuck.

Bedtime with a bedtime story in Spanish so that we can keep practicing what we’ve been learning. John is reading and translating with his phone when we get stuck.

Camp 2 begins! This is the easiest SLB we’ve had yet in terms of logistics. The transfer days went of without a hitch.  I trained a bit less last week (just under 20 hours) but it would be insane to try to keep up and balance the responsibilities of SLB without taking a bit more recovery. Honestly, I think that a large part of the reason that this year has been the easiest for me is that this is the first year I’ve been able to sleep! I found these new magical sleep supplements that are the perfect balance for what I need to fall asleep and stay asleep.  They are called FemSleep.  The problem is that they’re hard to find in stores near me.  I’m going to have to do some research when I get back to refill my stash.

Camp 2 started with an easy spin to the tombs to shake off the flight with Beth and Jon.

Camp 2 started with an easy spin to the tombs to shake off the flight with Beth and Jon.

Then another rest day of driving the sag wagon. I'm even wearing my recovery shoes from Barefooters!

Then another rest day of driving the sag wagon. I’m even wearing my recovery shoes from Barefooters!

Sag wagon driver extraordinaire.

Sag wagon driver extraordinaire.

My sag ride. Pimpin'.

My sag ride. Pimpin’.

Jasmine enjoying the heck out of a coffee on our break.

Jasmine enjoying the heck out of a coffee on our break.

Me and Jasmine dropped all the boys! Punk Not Dead!

Me and Jasmine dropped all the boys! Punk Not Dead!

My beautiful ring!

My beautiful ring!

Jeff! I was hanging with him for a climb because he was super exhausted and suddenly I heard a tractor and looked over and he motorpaced right by me and left me in his dust with a cute little wave! Love that man!

Jeff! I was hanging with him for a climb because he was super exhausted and suddenly I heard a tractor and looked over and he motorpaced right by me and left me in his dust with a cute little wave! Love that man!

This is from my secret solo bonus climb. I wanted a big fat training day!

This is from my secret solo bonus climb. I wanted a big fat training day!

JOHN AND I GOT ENGAGED!!! And SLB Camp 1 is Finished

March 7, 2014 by holisticguru
We were halfway up the Pico after having dropped off a couple of athletes, and John wanted to go look at the pretty view along a trail. He told me to marry him and I said YES.

We were halfway up the Pico after having dropped off a couple of athletes, and John wanted to go look at the pretty view along a trail. He told me to marry him and I said YES.

Can you even believe it?!?! How awesome. What a perfect moment. It was better than I ever dreamed, just like everything is since I met John.  It was especially awesome to have so many friends to celebrate with after the ride.  Everyone killed the Pico ride. Especially Tammy who even did the 10k bonus climb at the bottom. She’s so fit this year!

I couldn't climb the rest of the way to the top fast enough because I couldn't wait to tell everyone!

I couldn’t climb the rest of the way to the top fast enough because I couldn’t wait to tell everyone!

And this super cute photo came from Coraline's doggie sitter.

And this super cute photo came from Coraline’s doggie sitter.

What do you do with marshmallow smurfs? What Gargamel would do, of course! Drown them in boiling hot chocolate!

What do you do with marshmallow smurfs? What Gargamel would do, of course! Drown them in boiling hot chocolate!

 

 

SLB 2014 – Camp 1 Continues with More AWESOMENESS

March 4, 2014 by holisticguru
Yes. This. My favorite ride of SLB. Guadalhorce!

Yes. This. My favorite ride of SLB. Guadalhorce!

Today we rode Guadalhorce and it was incredible.  Brett even jumped in the water! Then I beat all the boys up a long, steep climb. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day. Actually I can. Eugene is the real champion of the day. He rocked this entire ride and he just learned to clip in a few days ago!

The most excellent bike stand and bike cleaning station.

The most excellent bike stand and bike cleaning station.

The lunch spot

The lunch spot

And a swim!

And a swim!

My bike, looking sexy in purple.

My bike, looking sexy in purple.

The start of my victory climb.

The start of my victory climb.

Brett deep in thought about how he could somehow become as awesome as I am.

Brett deep in thought about how he could somehow become as awesome as I am.

Me and Brett. BFFs 4-eva.

Me and Brett. BFFs 4-eva.

Jeff! I love this guy! He always does the double camp with us.

Jeff! I love this guy! He always does the double camp with us.

This is what serious accomplishment and badassery look like. Eugene rocked this entire ride today and he showed up a few days ago not knowing how to clip in!

This is what serious accomplishment and badassery look like. Eugene rocked this entire ride today and he showed up a few days ago not knowing how to clip in!

 

SLB 2014 – Camp 1

March 3, 2014 by holisticguru
Annie and I timed the end of our ride perfectly with the sunset. In fact, she towed my butt for the last 20 miles. She's a MACHINE.

Annie and I timed the end of our ride perfectly with the sunset. In fact, she towed my butt for the last 20 miles. She’s a MACHINE.

Camp 1 is off to a great start! I’m pretty tired from 22 hours of training last week so I was more than happy to drive sag for the first ride. We already had our tourism day in Granada and an incredible meal in an ancient monastery. How rad! I’m loving the vibe of this group!

I don't always drive sag, but when I do I require a pretty co-pilot.

I don’t always drive sag, but when I do I require a pretty co-pilot.

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The view from the van for a trip around Torcal.

The view from the van for a trip around Torcal.

This is a gauge on my crock pot thingy (it's not actually a crock pot). I would like a gauge like this attached to my head sometimes.

This is a gauge on my crock pot thingy (it’s not actually a crock pot). I would like a gauge like this attached to my head sometimes.

Beautiful art inside of our favorite vegan cafe, Manila Mundo.

Beautiful art inside of our favorite vegan cafe, Manila Mundo.

More Manila Mundo

More Manila Mundo

My Spanish boyfriend Pepe. He works at Manila Mundo and he spoils us.

My Spanish boyfriend Pepe. He works at Manila Mundo and he spoils us.

I don't know why you guys think this is so funny. It's just a beautiful fountain. Get your minds out of the gutter!

I don’t know why you guys think this is so funny. It’s just a beautiful fountain. Get your minds out of the gutter!

Dinner in a monastery because that's how we do!

Dinner in a monastery because that’s how we do!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLB 2014 – Preparing for the Campers

February 25, 2014 by holisticguru
The new digs are stunning. We have 3 full apartments and the farmhouse is on a garlic field!

The new digs are stunning. We have 3 full apartments and the farmhouse is on a garlic field!

I am so excited to be in Antequera! We have a lot to do to get ready. I’ll get comfy using my new kitchen and making sure we have everything we need. There will also be a massive food shop, which is actually a lot of fun because I love checking out grocery stores in other countries. Another important task for this week is a bit of ride recon.  We’ve moved a bit further away from some of our rides and closer to others. For the rides that are farther away, we will need to find new rides to replace them with.  We’re already hitting the jackpot.

Cafe con leches before grocery shopping. ALWAYS.

Cafe con leches before grocery shopping. ALWAYS.

Think I should get this for the campers to play in their free time? Giggity.

Think I should get this for the campers to play in their free time? Giggity.

This is Ernesto. He loves watching me cook. He lives behind the stove but comes out to learn from me when I'm in the kitchen. He wasn't around this morning though, so I am starting to get a bit worried.

This is Ernesto. He loves watching me cook. He lives behind the stove but comes out to learn from me when I’m in the kitchen. He wasn’t around this morning though, so I am starting to get a bit worried.

I gotta do this with the exhausted cyclists. PLEASE!

I gotta do this with the exhausted cyclists. PLEASE!

 

Ooooh look! a new MASSIVE climb! Y'all are gonna love us!

Ooooh look! a new MASSIVE climb! Y’all are gonna love us!

 

We come up over the bridge and see this beautiful lake just ahead. This was the discovery of SLB's most gorgeously stunning ride.

We come up over the bridge and see this beautiful lake just ahead. This was the discovery of SLB’s most gorgeously stunning ride.

And the running is spectacular as well. Plenty of soft surface trails around the cortijo.

And the running is spectacular as well. Plenty of soft surface trails around the cortijo.

I'm obsessed with this Haribo Funky Mix because it tastes good and totally freaks me out. It's complicated.

I’m obsessed with this Haribo Funky Mix because it tastes good and totally freaks me out. It’s complicated.

Dinner for our early arrival west coast folks

Dinner for our early arrival west coast folks

 

 

 

 

SLB 2014 – More Granada

February 22, 2014 by holisticguru
Check out my Granada pants. So comfy and I think I can FLY!

Check out my Granada pants. So comfy and I think I can FLY!

Our Granada portion of the trip is coming to an end.  Yesterday we got to have a tour of the Alhambra with our classmates and we went to see Flamenco!

The problem with not being able to understand the dessert options told to us by the waitress. I win!

The problem with not being able to understand the dessert options told to us by the waitress. I win!

Some streets in Granada are so narrow that this is the only transportation that makes sense!

Some streets in Granada are so narrow that this is the only transportation that makes sense!

My dad cracks me up.

My dad cracks me up.

We saw some flamenco with belly dancing!

We saw some flamenco with belly dancing!

This is printed on a window and when you move it looks like he is walking on everything outside!

This is printed on a window and when you move it looks like he is walking on everything outside!

I wish this was a fountain or Coralions.

I wish this was a fountain or Coralions.

I took this photo and then saw the image on postcards everywhere.

I took this photo and then saw the image on postcards everywhere.

Inside the Alhambra

Inside the Alhambra

I have a few friends who aren't interested in climbing on a bike like I am, but I bet they'd consider a climb that ended here.

I have a few friends who aren’t interested in climbing on a bike like I am, but I bet they’d consider a climb that ended here.

The view from inside the Alhambra.

The view from inside the Alhambra.

SLB 2014 Pre-Camp: Spanish Immersion Classes in Granada

February 21, 2014 by holisticguru
We have arrived!

We have arrived!

This year we came to SLB early to take Spanish Immersion classes. The classes are in Granada and we get to spend a week here going to school, enjoying the city, and trail running. It is AWESOME and we’re learning a lot.  Classes take up about 5-7 hours per day with a cultural activity every afternoon. Below are some photos of the experience so far:

The farmers market on our walk to school brings me great joy.

The farmers market on our walk to school brings me great joy.

And, of course, a cafe con leche before class.

And, of course, a cafe con leche before class.

Our tiny classroom! We're so excited!

Our tiny classroom! We’re so excited!

More learning exactly what I need to know to be the most competent chef in all the SLB lands!

More learning exactly what I need to know to be the most competent chef in all the SLB lands!

Learning how to order what I need to feed the athletes.

Learning how to order what I need to feed the athletes.

Of course we found the coolest vegan/vegetarian restaurants and ate at them all, repeatedly.

Of course we found the coolest vegan/vegetarian restaurants and ate at them all, repeatedly.

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My pretty, goth-girl manicure for the trip.

My pretty, goth-girl manicure for the trip.

 

Rock n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon

February 4, 2014 by holisticguru

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I’m writing this from the airport in Charlotte, NC because my connecting flight to NYC was canceled yesterday due to the storm. That was after running a marathon and then being on my feet for an all-nighter post-marathon to explore New Orleans. Plus, I was being cheap and decided not to get a hotel that night. I’d just have some fun and then head to the airport for my 7am flight. Fast forward to my learning that I wasn’t going home when I landed in Charlotte and all the fun came to a screeching halt. But oh well, I survived. I always do. I’m a tough chick.

I put a lot into preparing for this race. It wasn’t about the race though, I just fell deeper and deeper in love with running while I focused on my winter run focus. I thought it would be nice to celebrate all of my hard work with a race. I chose Rock n’ Roll New Orleans because it was in a city that I’d always wanted to visit, it was a mostly flat and fast course, and it was away from freezing temps. My mileage got up to over 90 in my final weeks and I felt great. My only difficulty was all my stupid fault; I waited way too long to replace my training shoes and ended up dealing with some plantar fasciatis. It wasn’t all that bad. It’s just that runners tend to hyper focus on every twinge of pain in fear that it will become an injury that could land them on the couch. And rightly so. If I couldn’t run I would feel as though a piece of my soul vanished. And I’m not being hyperbolic. It would be like never going to the ocean again. And so I did the rolling and taping and icing and eventually replaced my shoes. Replacing the shoes helped the most. That’s really all I needed to do all along, but the miles really add up quickly when you’re running 70-90 per week! I was also told to use inserts in my shoes to help with the PF. This is where I made a decision that makes me think my skull might actually be empty. I took my worn out Adidas Boston’s and put inserts in them. Why the old ones? Because I didn’t want to have too much shoe under my foot and I guess I thought they would be better in the beat down shoes. No matter, I could have run in the old shoes and only my plantar would have hurt. I DID do a longish run in the shoes like this and only noticed a teensy pain in the outside of my knee a day or so later. I didn’t connect it to the inserts. So after working my ass off to train for this race I decided to throw off my entire biomechanics on race day. My excellent biomechanics. If I only had a brain.

At the start of the race I was happy and excited. I felt strong. I liked that the weather was a little humid and gnarly as we waited. I ate my Amrita bar breakfast and did some yoga. I was in the first corral and lined up with the 3:15 pacer. I’m actually a good pacer, personally. It’s possibly my greatest strength. But I’ve never tried to run a marathon this fast so I figured I’d go out with these guys. The gun went boom and we were off. We ticked off the first mile in 7:07. I was aiming for 7:26′s but I know the first mile or so usually goes faster. I stayed with the pacer. We hit the next 4 miles in exactly 7:26. Perfect. But then we ran a couple of miles closer to 6:30. WHY??? So I ditched them and kicked myself for not just pacing myself in the first place. It was like going out to dinner and ordering something that tastes better when I cook it myself. My energy and effort felt perfect, even with those extra fast miles in there I began to wonder if I was aiming too low with my goal time. I also started to wonder “what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is that pain in my knee? OWWW”.

By mile 13, I was having very sharp pain and it was spreading into my left hip flexor, left low back, and left calf. Of course it was. I was probably overpronating with every step as my arch fought against that stupid insert. By mile 16 my stride was off, I was limping, and I started to take walk breaks. At mile 19 I walked for about 5 min and chit chatted with a guy named Brian who looked way too young to be running his 83rd marathon. What a cool dude. I was really frustrated at this point because I had hardly been able to run for the last 6 miles. Cardiovascularly I felt cheated. My heart rate was really low and stayed there. I also felt like the left side of my body had dropped out of the race. I wanted to run so badly. For the last 5k I promised myself I wouldn’t walk again even if it meant running very gingerly. I walked again. At 2 to go I made the same promise again and I kept it. I ran the rest of the way in, with a monstrous finishing kick to release all of my pent up frustration. I didn’t care about the pain at that point because I knew I could just give in to it once I crossed that line. I finished in 3:30:30. John was right there for me (like he always is) and I shed a few tears when I saw him. He was my human crutch all the way to the shuttle, even though he had just finished 11th overall in 2:54. 11th! At a huge marathon! And he’s not even a runner! I’m so proud of him.

So I’m happy. I’m making my stupid mistakes early in the season. NO MORE. I qualified for Boston with 5 minutes to spare on a bad day. That’s still really good. Also, this was a stand alone marathon PR for me by 42 minutes! And I have so much more potential. Now to heal up and get ready for SLB! I’ll be riding my bike in the mountains of Southern Spain in a few weeks with an enormous tank full of fitness. I’m so grateful for this life I live. My biggest thanks of course go to John for putting me in his pocket and coaching me to greater achievements than I ever imagined. To Block Island Sport Shop for training with me, advising me, and providing me with the coolest gear ever. And to Amrita for putting the perfect fuel in my belly for training and racing.

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