Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday roundup

In the midst of a lot of nervous energy about finishing up my book, and the tedious promotional work that's gone along with it, I've been grateful for my opportunities to get outside this week. Unfortunately, after the Banff/North Dakota/Ohlone 50K whirlwind of travel and activity, my body hasn't quite been able to keep up. I've been more sluggish than usual, and these days I actually have a GPS/heart rate monitor to show me the ways in which I haven't quite snapped back from recovery yet. Of course there was the 25-mile mountain bike ride with Beat, the seven-mile run along Skyline, and the Mission Peak hill mountain repeats (Beat's idea ... steep terrain practice) that together amounted to about 8,500 feet of climbing since the race. It's all just a continuation of the last two weeks and potentially the next two weeks. Barring injury or burnout, I actually think it's a good idea for me to "train tired" from time to time so I become will accustomed to carrying on when my body feels less than awesome. Then of course rest to fully recover before the big event. I'm not claiming this is a sound training strategy. Mostly, I'm just shoring up mental stamina to carry me through my next fun slog. Plus, I needed excuses to play outside despite admittedly sore quads and weaker heart rate. That's all training really is to me anyway ... an excuse to play outside.

This brings me to my new favorite energy food. You thought I was going to say Honey Stinger Waffles, weren't you? Wrong! These are exactly like Honey Stinger Waffles, at about one tenth the price:

Caramel Bites or "Stroopwafels" from Trader Joe's. Yes, these are the exact same thing. Ok, maybe Honey Stinger uses organic ingredients and packages them in neat individual wrappers. But nutritionally and taste-wise, they're identical. The nutritional indistinguishability is the part that gets to me. I can't tell you how many aquaintances have praised Honey Stinger Waffles only to balk when I reply, "I know. They're awesome. They're cookies." Not only are they just cookies, but they're unapologetically overpriced cookies. I saw Honey Stinger Waffles at a store in Canada for $3 each. Given the current exchange rate, that's like $147 in U.S. dollars. For a small cookie. Yes, a delicious cookie. Still just a cookie.

But because Honey Stinger markets them, they've developed a reputation as a nutritious energy food. Nope. Cookies. Not that I'm against using cookies as energy food. In fact, I'm a big advocate of the taste, convenience and calorie-loading benefits of subsisting on candy and cookies. Which brings me to the next segment of my blog post. Occasionally during the next few weeks, until my book release next month, I'm going to post short excerpts from "Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide" so readers can get a feel for the content. I will offer book pre-ordering soon.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 18: "Untouchable"

I had become an expert on small-town convenience stores. Even independently owned service stations, buried in the most remote regions of the west, all had a near-identical selection of products laid out in a nearly identical way. Their organization was both simple and highly effective, designed for the maximum obtainment of junk food.

I walked into the Salida 7-Eleven with single-minded purpose, knowing I would not pass another significantly populated town on the route for more than 150 miles. I strolled down the first aisle, also known as the candy bar aisle, and selected four king-sized Snickers bars — which not only boasted 500 calories each, but were also usually the most popular and therefore freshest items on the shelf. I then grabbed four pairs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, prone to melting but probably okay in the high mountain air. The next aisle, the salty snack aisle, held my Corn Nuts, regular nuts, and packages of crackers. The next aisle, the specialty candy aisle, was my favorite. It was here that I was treated to the widest and most thrilling range of selection that can only be found in gummy snacks. I was partial to Sour Patch Kids, but I liked to mix it up with gummy bears and sour worms and sometimes something florescent and obnoxious and full of artificially flavored and chemically colored high-fructose corn syrup. 7-Eleven also carried chocolate-covered espresso beans, a special treat for the mornings I anticipated waking up in a sleeping bag. In the “regular food” aisle, I usually picked up tuna packets and the occasional energy bar. The refrigerated shelves along the outer edge of the store held my orange juice, liters of Pepsi, yogurt, and the hopeful rewards in my never-ending search for wax-coated balls of cheese. I finished with an extra-large cup of coffee and a quick browse of the gourmet cases in front of the store, where I could obtain 600-calorie “homemade” brownies and the cinnamon roll I planned to eat for breakfast before heading out the following morning. After less than five minutes of "shopping," I’d walk to the counter and dump 10,000 calories — about two days’ worth of food — in front of the startled clerk.

“Um, did you find everything you needed?” she asked.

“Oh yes,” I said.

The clerk in Salida was more bold than most, and she smiled wryly. “Having a little celebration are we?” she asked.

I smiled back. If I was more bold, or a better actress, I would have launched into a long sob story about how my husband just cheated on me and I didn’t want to be in the world any more so I was just going to eat my way into a sugar coma. If I had been even bolder than that, I might have just told her the truth, but instead I said, “Ah, I’m just stocking up.”

“Okay then,” she said as she slid a heart attack’s worth of survival food into a plastic bag. “Have a nice day.”

Finally, in anticipation of the book launch, I am offering digital files of "Ghost Trails" for the low, low price of $2.99. You can upload an eBook for your Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, or laptop at "Ghost Trails," my first memoir that I released in November 2008, details the pivotal life experiences that led to my participation in the 2008 Iditarod Trail Invitational — which remains perhaps the most intense and perspective-altering experience of my life. It also provides an entertaining backstory to "Be Brave, Be Strong."

Have a great weekend!