Thursday, January 27, 2011

Amazing Grass: Product Reviews

I recently sent an inquiry to Amazing Grass for some information on their energy bars and Amazing Meal. I am quite familiar with their SuperFood products as I tend to use it in my smoothies for a "green" boost of 5 servings of veggies and fruits in a single scoop. I love the flavor (it doesn't taste like I am eating a mouthful of freshly mowed grass). Gack. I've tasted other products that make me gag from that. Not so with Amazing Grass's SuperFood. You'll have to check out their website as I could not possibly cover the extensive details,  amazing organic ingredients (including pre and probiotics), and health benefits without sounding like a robot spewing advertising plugs. I am very impressed with all of their flavors but my favorite still remains their chocolate version. Throw that in with a glass of milk and a small scoop of peanut butter (oh my god- eyes rolling back in head) it's just like a peanut butter cup. **singing**

Anyway, I digress...

A day or two later I received a very pleasant email response from Amazing Grass and a few days after that I was greeted at my front door with a box of goodies:

So, ladies and gentlemen, this is just my preliminary review of Amazing Grass products. I have heard the positive chattering over their goods, now I'll have to see for myself if they stand up to the greatness of their SuperFood.

Review #1: Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Napping House

After Sunday's snowy run I took Monday off to be lazy with the husband, bake homemade bread, and stuff my nose in books at Borders with a Chai Latte in hand. Today we were lazy again for the first half of the day- sleeping in until near 10:00 and then taking a nap a few hours after eating breakfast.

Cowboy and I had aimed to go take the dog out for a walk and Chuck-It in the park. After showering and starting to get dressed somehow we landed back in bed, me with one sock on and one bare foot, slumbering the day away. We had both felt pretty lethargic all day. Maybe it was the temps in the teens, a dry calm chill to soothe us into staying in the coziness of the house or the after effects of night shift work.  I don't know but it was as if a cloud of sleepy potion settled about the room and suddenly the two of us, the dog, AND the cat were all snoring away. A picture reminiscent of the book "The Napping House". It was magnificent to great proportions.

Two and a half hours later we all woke, wiping the drool from our cheeks, and gazing about the room in a "what happened, where am I" moment. However, we both agreed we felt 110% better so we must have really needed the sleep. After walking the pup we had a bright idea: let's head to the gym. The weather was too cold and the day light was fading for any significant productivity.

We failed to recall that it was a mere eleven days post new years and the emerging of (as one of my blogger buddies calls them) "resolutionaries". We opened the doors to the gym and were met by what can only be described as The Ant Farm. Little bugs crawling all over the gym equipment. Huffing, puffing, stepping frantically while hanging onto rails, poor body mechanics left and right, and everyone had a Nalgene in hand. It was frightening. We walked slowly over to the treadmills for a warm-up and, for the very first time, I had to WAIT. I know I have been spoiled as this is usually a normal occurrence for some, but I really try hard to hit the gyms with the least amount of members without skimping on the novelties.

Cowboy, seeing my slacked jaw gently, lovingly, and wordlessly, took my elbow and started to steer me back to the door. I stopped, snapped my jaw stubbornly, and told him I would wait. Us going home to my treadmill would do him no good for a work out and that would be selfish of me. I would wait.

One treadmill sat lone and empty on the perimeter's edge. A few people climbed up onto it's platform, punched away on it's dash, only to step off with irritation. I had seen this before and had a light bulb moment. I walked up to that treadmill as one frustrated girl got off declaring, "that one doesn't work!" and stepped on up to that treadmill, ignoring the "line."

Side note: Was that bad of me? Am I really a major "gym rat" douchebag? Who declares there must be a line anyways, there's no rule or sign...I takes a treadmill as I sees it and recommend everyone else does the same. And yeah, I'm that person that ignores the dumb 30 minute rule in a gym stacked with treadmills and doesn't wipe off my equipment- it's a flipping gym people, there is sweat everywhere and that is the wonderful glory of it. Breathe in the's aromatherapy for the soul.

Cowboy stood there looking at me as I reached down to the base of the treadmill and swiftly hit the Power button. The treadmill sprang to life as the display lit up like a carnival and motor purred.

Some days I amaze myself at how fucking brilliant I am.
I take lessons from my cat.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hey There Friend: Green Mountain On Snowy Days

I've never been much for Green Mountain trails in Lakewood.

1. The trails are usually loaded with hikers, bikers, runners, and meanderers
2. The trail system, to me, is so complicated that I fear I would get lost out there for hours on end and never find myself off the blasted mountain
3. The treeless slopes of the mountain tend to be breezy and sub-par on gorgeous views unless you get a kick at looking at Lakewood's housing structure. There's only so much golden grass you can look at before your brain starts to hurt.
4. Some of those climbs are endlessly long

- no offense mtnrunner-

The best times I have had on those trails were in the latest of hours with my headlamp and the company of two to three of the DTR peeps.

HOWEVER. (make that a very big however)

Today was a new day of the new year and I decided, after changing my "where to" on the GPS four times (I think "Lee" my Nuvi navigator was going to strangle me), to head over to Green Mountain to run on this lovely snowy day with the pup.

Why? You may ask.
I really don't know. Yep, that's all I got. I have no clue. I punched it in and soon Lee was telling me how to get to my location.

So I went to the trailhead off 470 and Alameda/Jewell...actually I only know two of the trailheads even though I think there are a bunch more. The temps were in the 20's and it was SNOWING! Yay!! I had brought my snowpants, hiking boots, and snowshoes as backup in case I had chosen somewhere with snow up to my knees and couldn't run.  The parking lot had two cars in it and no signs of the human race. I was starting to feel a little excited. Could it be that this lovely weather had sidelined all the outdoorsy folk? Sweet!!

I set my Garmin, loaded up the pup with his pack and we headed out. I was just ever so slightly cold but felt very comfortable right off the bat. Two fingers on each hand were painfully cold after getting on my Yak Trax, but with a little help from my friend Hothands, I was good to go in about 5 minutes.

I knew the general direction I wanted to go, but didn't have the slightest clue what trails to take to get me there. There was no park map that most of the open spaces carry, so I did what I always do and just winged it. Every time I came to a cross-way I just picked a direction and logged it into the memory bank for my return. Surprisingly I never got lost.

The run was drop dead gorgeous and extremely satisfying. I was slow due to some of the climbs and the fact that I was running in quite a bit of snow, but I got some good mileage in and a little clearing of the brain so this wildchild was a very happy girl. The ankles felt a bit tired a few miles in. There were stones and frozen shoe holes hidden under all that powder and I had a little difficulty being graceful across all that. I also feel a little "Princess and the Pea" with the Yak Trax as I feel every little spring under my feet. It can get really uncomfortable with long mileage.

At one point I saw a herd of deer, mostly bucks prance across the landscape like a ballet movement. Argos whined and carried on but did not dare chase them. We ran on and soon came to a very large coyote who was busy being entertained by some little tasty in the snow. He was pouncing left and right, leaping high in the air only to land and stuff his snout into the snow. I never did see him catch anything but he was definitely on the chase. He sat on his haunches and stared at us for a little bit. Argos was absolutely convinced that this "dog" was here to play and be his friend. Maybe even become BFFs. He was very irritable with me when I told him that he couldn't go play. I even tried to explain why, but I think he tuned me out at that point in his pouting tantrum.

The more I thought about what I was seeing: the deer, the coyote, the peacefully quiet snow storm I was running in...the more I started feeling a little closer to Green Mountain. A little more sympathetic to it's barren slopes and city views. It was as if the mountain and all it's nature was beckoning to me and asking me to give it a chance. "See what I have to offer?" it was saying to me, "Take a look around."
I stopped a few times to just turn in great circles and look around me, admiring the silence that blanketed the mountain from the snow. It was an eye opening and pleasant run.

Wearing my Under Armour Cold Gear shirt, a Sporthill half zip, and my Go-Lite Virga rain jacket over top as a shell I was surprisingly warm. Maybe even a touch overheated a few times. I wore my Brooks pants, a heavier set of gaiters, my Salomon Wings shoes, and Smartwool socks. Additions of Smartwool hat and neck gaiter and THESE gloves: Manzella Silkweight Windstopper Gloves.

These are one of my very favorite pieces of gear. I wore these gloves in TransRockies, Grand Canyon, TransAlps...they are super lightweight making them perfect to stuff in a pocket or pack without crazy bulky weight. Hothands in them if the weather permits but I have yet to get my hands cold or wet for a length of time wearing them. RUN to your nearest REI or outdoor store and buy up one or two pairs. I have worn them in the midst of rain, wind, and snow and never got wet or cold. One would seriously question my sanity after feeling how lightweight they are but I promise you they are so inexpensive as far as gloves are concerned and are one of my must haves whenever I run. I would pay several times their price for a pair.

Anyways 8.5 miles later, me and the pup arrived safe, toasty, and tired back at the car. I snapped this picture to show how wild the weather was. My hair was frozen and looks white here, there are ice crystals on my eyelids (I had to keep unsticking them every so often as they would freeze together), my eyebrows were frozen, my hat was so frozen it resembled a helmet and my water was frozen. I had snot flowing down my upper lip but deep down inside this girl was warm and happy happy happy.

Argos dealt with his own freezing problems:
He had drool frozen off his lips

Santa dog!

So, thank you Green Mountain for showing me your beauty. My legs, butt, and ankles are sore and I know I owe it to you and your roller coaster trails.  I apologize for being so utterly shallow previously and thinking you were just "the boy next door".  I promise to add you into my rotation, however all bets are off if it is a weekend or holiday. I cannot stand battling the crowds. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Greeting 2011 Head On

Started out the brand new year with a frigid trail run at Mesa Trail in Boulder. It was a balmy 15 degrees with a slight breeze. I had planned to go to Nederland for a snowshoe run but changed plans mid-drive when I found out that temps up there were in the negatives.

I shucked my snowpants and heavy jacket for cold weather running pants and laced up my sneakers. I tucked my Yak Trax in the pup's backpack in case I needed to "chain up" midway. I have learned that you should plan for ALL types of weather and events when in Colorado. What may appear one way when you first start your run can change all together a few miles in...that being a few miles too far to just run back to the car.

My eyes teared up as soon as the cold air hit my face and I quickly pulled my Smartwool hat and neck gaiter on to limit my skin exposure. I knew I just needed to get moving and I would warm up. Hot hands tucked in my gloves and a Gore-Tex shell over two other layers (Under Armour Coldgear LS shirt and Nike Heavyweight Zip-up) and I was off. I had forgotten my Injinji socks and had on a pair of Smartwool mid-weight hiking socks. These proved to be very effective and kept my toes warm without overheating. I think if I had had just the Injinjis my feet would have felt the cold some.

A mile into the run I realized I had forgotten to blow out the water in my Camelbak tubing (a lesson learned my first winter here in Colorado). A quick check showed my tubing was filled with ice. Dang....

I played with the tubing a little and wrestled between blowing out and sucking in until finally I got a break and water flowed out of the valve. Sweet. I took a long swig and then promptly blew the water back into the bladder to prevent the tubing from freezing again.

I warmed up relatively well within the first mile to mile and half. The only things left still painfully chilly were the tips of my fingers. I always have this issue. I swung my arms as I ran to try to get more blood down to the tips and sure enough with the combo of running and swinging/shaking my fingers started to heat up.  The run from there on out was pleasant and refreshing. Every so often I would feel my lungs burning from the cold and snot running down my lip. I would pull up my neck gaiter (it was an on and off again kind of thing) only to find the vapor from my breath had frozen the gaiter. A few sharp breaths and the wool released and thawed. I thought this all kind of funny. From the sounds of it the run should have been miserable but in actuality I was quite comfortable and toasty.

Many people were out on the trail today with their dogs. I like this trail because Boulder allows off-leash under voice control. Argos met and pounced on a few dogs, taking up a good 10-15 minutes of my run...oh well, the run is for him just as much for me. It is great to see him so happy. I highly doubt he has any idea how spoiled rotten he is. That boy eats prime organic bison dry food mixed with raw chicken, lamb, beef, etc., gets daily sessions with the Chuck-it (Glow Ball= BEST INVENTION EVER) AND gets to play in the mountains. Rotten, I tell ya.

We saw a few deer and several coyote along the run. They were far enough in the distance to not be an issue but I would see them notice us and sit there on their haunches, ears perked, watching us. One of them was pouncing high in the air onto some tasty morsel of the evening. Some days out here on my trail runs I feel as if I have walked right onto the Discovery Channel and have to almost pinch myself to believe that all the cool nature things I am seeing is really right in front of me.

We turned around and headed back as the sun started to fade behind the mountains. Within thirty minutes the wind picked up to howling speeds and started knocking me around. Ugh this was suddenly turning into a very uncomfortable situation. I pulled my gaiter up higher and my hat down lower, tucked my chin into my chest and forged on going as fast as the snow would allow me. I could feel my abs, knees and ankles getting a great workout in the snow.

I finally reached the car and realized, as I slid into the drivers seat, that my ass was half frozen. Seriously numb! It was an odd feeling once the blood started to return as my seat warmers thawed out my ass.

Excellent run for the brand new year. It was chilly but an all around great time.

I am really not one for "New Year Resolutions" since, sadly I am in the belief that most people who make them do so out of negative self thinking, flighty ideas, and rarely follow through. Instead of calling them Resolutions which are so wishy washy and non-adherent...I title them GOALS. Goals are made any time of the year, in any specific mood or need, and can be updated or deleted at any time without feeling defeat. In fact, it is important to constantly check and recheck your progress on goals. Resolutions leave you feeling defeated if you don't conquer to the fullest that specific target...leading many into the downward spiral of negativity.

Goals mean setting the bar high and working hard to reach them. Even if you don't fulfill the goal entirely, you have made a great stab at it and many times realize reaching the entire goal may not have been completely necessary for the greatest amount of success or happiness. Not to ding those that have made's just not my thing. I wish to stay healthy, enjoy married life to its fullest, travel, keep up my passion for running, be active in my new blog on food storage and preparedness, and start selling some of my sewing/craft projects. Long term goals are even loftier.

Happy New Years!!