Sunday, August 23, 2015

Summer Smoothies

Saturday morning was an early wake up call - earlier than most Saturday mornings - and it didn't even involve a race! Instead I headed to our local CBS affiliate here in Denver to accompany my co-worker and friend, Andrea, along with an incredibly impressive college junior, Nadeen, who is a Greenhouse Scholar, to talk about the organization and Venus de Miles, which is happening next Saturday in Longmont (there's still time to register - or volunteer!)!

After some early morning fun with these lovely ladies in the studio, Andrea and I took a foot tour of Downtown Denver to burn off some nervous energy and work up a little sweat! 

Venus de Miles on CBS4

Denver Art Museum

I'm usually a solo runner but these past two weekends I've switched it up a bit. Its been a nice change to have someone there to push me as I'm coming back from my latest injury. It's mostly a mental wall I'm dealing with right now but I can't give in as easily when I'm running with someone else! 

As soon as I got home I was in front of our fridge pulling out ingredients for an ice cold smoothie. As often as possible this summer I've been enjoying green smoothies. My mornings are rushed, my commute is long, and I tend to fall out of the habit once the weather turns cooler, so every chance I get I'm blending up some goodness.

There's just something about a smoothie that is ultra satisfying on a hot day after a tough workout. I sometimes pair it with a handful of nuts if I need a little crunch, but other than that, it can be the perfect post-workout meal.

Of course, I'm a huge fan of the green smoothie and have found that Trader Joe's Power Blend works wonders. For some reason it seems to blend more easily than spinach alone, so it's been my go-to this summer.

If you're still on the summer smoothie kick, or are looking for a few new ideas, I'd love to help you out. These are two of the "recipes" I've been going to often this summer. 

The fine print: I don't really have any hard & true recipes, aside from the initial amount of liquid - I just eyeball it and see where it takes me. That said, most of the time I seem to end up with about 12 ounces. Also, I only use frozen fruit. This way I don't have to worry about adding ice, which makes it cold but doesn't really help the consistency.

Tropical Green Smoothie

Tropical Greens
  • Banana
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Pear
  • Avocado
  • Power Greens (ripped/chopped into smaller pieces)
  • Almond Milk
  • Coconut Water
  • Plant Protein Powder (I used Whole Food's Plant-Based Fit Protein, Vanilla-Cinnamon)
  • Ground Flax Seed
Sometimes I have to add a little bit of water to get the consistency right, but only a tiny bit at a time because you can't go back!

Smoothie Ingredients

Chocolate Covered Summer Green Vegan Smoothie

Chocolate Covered Summer Green Smoothie
  • Banana
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Power Greens
  • Almond Milk
  • Coconut Water
  • Chocolate Pant Protein Powder (I use Chocolate Vega Protein & Greens)
  • Ground Flax Seed
Greek yogurt used to be a staple ingredient in all of my smoothies, and when we moved to a mostly vegan diet I was worried that they wouldn't have the same creaminess as they used to. Thankfully I've found that as long as I keep banana in the recipe and don't use too much liquid, then it works out perfectly! 

What are some of your go-to smoothie ingredients? * Do you eat differently in warm months compared to cold months? * How do you make sure to get a healthy breakfast during the week?

You can find a few of my other smoothie recipes here, here, and here!

*Update: In the original version I accidentally listed coconut milk as an ingredient when it should have been coconut water. Sorry about that!*

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Time To Rebuild

During my PT appointment on Tuesday I got the go ahead to start adding miles - music to my ears! While I think I've been pretty level-headed during this injury, likely due to the fact that unlike others I neither had to wear a boot or use crutches, I've had my low times and it this has lasted longer than I expected. 

This all started back in May which means I've missed the majority of summer running and that I'm having to rebuild after a big setback. Before my injury, I was feeling better about my running than I had for a long time; having built a great deal of confidence, endurance, and speed. Things were going really well before derailed by the injury. I know, it's a common story among us runners, right?

The weekend before that last PT appointment I had two pretty rough runs. My legs didn't feel awful but my lungs did. Apparently being an active injured runner - doing long hikes and run/walks - didn't help as much as I hoped it would.

As much as I want to be elated to run again and have each run be better than the last, the truth is, that's not how recovery works for a lot of us and I've done this enough times you'd think I'd be used to it. 

The good thing is that I'm not in pain with every step and I can run. But I have to keep in mind that it's going to require patience, thoughtfulness, the ability to say no sometimes (and isn't that the hardest word for most of us to say to anything!) and a lot of stretching and rolling.

Running the High Line Canal trail
photo credit: Lindsay Jones
Patience with myself and my body.

Thoughtfulness in planning my workouts and goals.

The ability to say no to the impatient runner in me who wants to add more miles and speed too soon, and sign-up for too many races too soon.

And stretching and rolling so my legs won't be balls of twisted and tight muscles that weigh me down and keep me from getting back to my old self - and going past that!

Thankfully this weekend I've had the opportunity to run with some fellow Oiselle VolĂ©e birds. You may have heard the team recently expanded and we now have over 50 in Colorado alone! A bit last minute we planned a run + brunch for Saturday morning and had 7 birds for the run plus two more for brunch at True Food Kitchen. 

Oiselle Team Colorado at True Food Kitchen

While I was definitely slower on the run and had to cut the loop of Wash Park short (listening to my body and staying true to where I am right now), I had a great time. Meeting new women who love to run also, was inspiring. That experience, plus my run on Sunday with another bird, got me out of my comfort zone by just the right amount. Rather than being discouraged by them, they are part of the rebuilding process. 

And thankfully when I come home from a run (good or not so good) or when I'm being lazy and not making time for the foam roller, I have Woody to keep me in check. 

We can only do so much of the rebuilding on our own, we need our support system to help us get where we're going.

Have you had to rebuild after an injury? What helped you on your road back?

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

When I'm asked what I enjoy most about living in Colorado, my response is "the endless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors." More specifically, I've been falling in love with hiking and (when not injured) trail running. This past Saturday we woke up early and headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park - which is celebrating its 100th anniversary - to get a fix of fresh mountain air and get our hearts beating. 

At the suggestion of a colleague who is working towards hiking every trail in RMNP, we decided to tackle the Mills Lake trail. This one starts at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead not far from the Beaver Meadows entrance which is just outside of Estes Park. By the time we arrived a bit before 9am (it's about an hour and a half drive from our house in Denver), the parking nearest the trailhead was full so we parked at the Park & Ride and took the shuttle - which was very easy and convenient, albeit packed. 

Alberta Falls

Mills Lake Trail

The Mills Lake trail is popular with families because the first section especially is a very easy hike and less than a mile in is Alberta Falls, which is quite beautiful. The trail at the start is fairly wide and we saw many families with young kids to grandparents. As you continue, the trail gets slightly more technical but it's still a moderate hike for the 2.8 miles to Mills Lake. We did lose most of those families at the waterfall, which was just fine with us. We like our space when we hike!

Mills Lake approach

Mills Lake

Mills Lake Trail

When we got to the lake we were blown away by its beauty. It's nestled right up against the mountain and reflects back the clouds in the sky and the rocks and trees along its edges. The edges were perfect for relaxing or enjoying a picnic. We wanted to stop but decided to press on and extend our hike to Black Lake. 

Mills Lake Trail

Past Mills Lake the trail gets more technical but not impossible. The crowds definitely thinned out for this portion. The trail winds through marshy areas, a section where a massive amount of trees had been uprooted during a rare microburst back in 2011, along the Glacier Creek, and across rock. You know you're arriving at Black Lake because you first hear, then see, Ribbon Falls. At the top of the falls are huge boulders that lead to a lake that is even more beautiful than Mills Lake. It was absolutely breathtaking and one of mother nature's great beauties. We lingered for a while on the rocks to take in the enormity of it all.

Ribbon Falls

Black Lake

Black Lake

I briefly talked with a man who had come around the edge on a small trail who suggested we take the trail up higher to see the view as he thought it was an even more incredible perspective, and this was one of his favorite hikes that he's done several times. So, of course, off we went. This section is very steep and being above 10,000 feet it was quite difficult. Woody went farther than I did, but really, I was beyond happy with the view I had. It does look black from above, but it's some of the clearest water we've seen anywhere.

Black Lake from above

After a bit we made our way back down, spent a few more minutes on the rocks then started back towards the trailhead. This is an out and back trail but the perspective going each way is different enough we loved it. We took a break at Mills Lake to dip our feet in the water - which is so cold that it stung - and enjoy the peaceful scenery for a few minutes. Thankfully the cold water gave us a nice energy boost as we continued on. While the sky had been very blue for most of our hike, the clouds had started to roll in as we were leaving Black Lake. Weather conditions can change very quickly in the mountains and afternoon rainstorms are quite frequent during the summer. While we had our rain jackets with us, we didn't have to use them, although I wouldn't be surprised if some hikers did later in the afternoon in some parts of the park.

Cooling Down in Mills Lake

While we've done a number of hikes now in a number of parks, this is my favorite so far. I do like a bit more technicality, but the views are just stunning. Every turn the trail took brought into view something else that was just awesome, and there were so many beautiful wild flowers. I definitely hope to go back, and maybe make it a bit longer of a hike by doing the full Black Lake trail but also adding on a spur to check out The Loch or Lake Haiyaha. If you make your way to Rocky Mountain National Park, I highly recommend this trail - even if you only get to Alberta Falls.

If you've been to Rocky Mountain National Park, what trail did you love most? * With one month left of summer, what do you want to do that you haven't done yet?