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 http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/62341. "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!

21 comments:

  1. Not stalking, honest - just trying to get through the work day. But I discovered those cookies at TJ's in my hometown, ate a bag in a day and a half, and had a honey stinger waffle sample at an expo the next day. I made that connection too :) Though we don't have TJ's in Colorado so I'm stuck with the expensive option now.

    I was thinking of your downhill running conundrum the other day as I was re-learning how to mountain bike. My bike is what helped me learn to choose a line on my feet, but I take such quick short steps on downhills that an unstable footing doesn't have time to throw me off-balance. Gotta translate that bike flow to your feet!

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  2. ooohhhh...we DO have a TJ's here, and I've never seen these before (not looked is more like it). Will try some very soon...who doesn't like waffle-cone's?? MMMMMMM! (Must go over to Fatty's & remind him of these)!

    You had me...I thought the digital copy was gonna be for your NEW book n I was all excited...(I don't have any way to read those yet...I am technologically challenged...my cell phone is even a pay as you go that I only carry for emergencies...& it doesn't even have a camera in it).

    I will be awaiting the 'paper' copy (GASP!) of your book (will you be offering autograph services like you did for Ghost Trails?)

    Have a great weekend yourself up there Jill...stay safe n keep having fun!

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  3. Finally the Jill that I admired for so long is back. Great writing and I can't wait for the new book.

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  4. I read your blog as you rode the Great Divide, so I can't wait for the book! I'm excited that you're working toward publishing it. You have a great story to tell and a wonderful way of telling it.

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  5. Lance Armstong4:13 PM

    But I own part of Honey stinger and shamelessly promote the product on my Twitter account. Please don't tell people this cheap alternative is good!

    (ok, I'm not really lance)

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  6. For those of us w/o Trader Joes:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Dgrocery&field-keywords=caramel+bites&x=0&y=0&sprefix=caramel+bites#/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Dgrocery&field-keywords=stroopwaffles&sprefix=stroopwaffles&rh=n%3A16310101%2Ck%3Astroopwaffles

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  7. Marian3:11 AM

    You should come over to the Netherlands! What you describe as Honey Stinger Waffles are on of the most eaten cookies over here, we call them 'Stroopwafels'. For the best stroopwafel experience, you should place them shortly in the oven, so that the caramel inside will melt a bit. Delicious!

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  8. Anonymous7:32 AM

    The Stroopwafels are my favorite on brevets (up to 1200km) ...

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  9. I'd probably buy them just for the name "Stroopwafels".

    Everybody seems to be liking the Honey Stinger product; I almost picked some up the other day.

    Ah, Salida. I've had many a happy day in that area running on the local peaks, and enjoying a recovery meal and beverage at Amica's :) Nice little town. The area has a couple of trail races too, such as Collegiate Peaks 50/25.

    Bought the e-book, and I enjoyed a bit of a read at lunch yesterday, on my phone. Thanks for the great price!

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  10. Bye eck .... that are expensive stroopwafels.
    You can buy them here on almost any streetcorner. And they make them fresh for you (and hot).... so never come to the Netherlands and specialy not to Amsterdam.

    But put the next link
    http://www.superwafels.nl/ in Google translater or look here ( http://goamsterdam.about.com/od/wheretoshopinamsterdam/tp/dutchfoodgifts.htm ) and enjoy.

    Tips for people who can not resist to visit the Netherlands .... buy a bag of "stroopwafel kruimels" aka left over crumps or broken/ failed ones. Small fingernail sizes (or smaller) of heaven,

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  11. Anonymous8:54 AM

    Jill, lost some respect for you here. It is sad that an educated female athlete thinks that all calories are the same for her body and that 10K calories of junk food is her preferred way to nourish herself during endurance efforts. The whiny comments you made earlier when asking about some help with nutrition is childish frankly. 1 hour, a pencil, a piece of paper, an internet connection; you would have the knowledge you need to give your body the correct nourishment it needs to endure (even excel) during these stresses. Time to grow up.

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  12. Anon ... you probably shouldn't read the book, then. It's a 24-day Tour of Junk Food.

    Here is the part where I would insert the eye-rolling icon.

    When you're riding hundreds of miles through the backwoods of Montana and Wyoming where you're lucky to find a shriveled banana and a three-year-old Power Bar on the local store shelves, junk food isn't the preferred way to nourish your body. It's the only way. Getting accustomed to that is how athletes endure the Tour Divide, nearly all of them. Until another woman finishes the TD solo in a faster time than I did, I don't believe I should be lectured on what it takes to "excel" at self-supported dirt touring.

    Insert :-P icon here.

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  13. Betsy2:24 PM

    Jill, you blew it when you left Juneau. A new food stand is open in the Western Auto parking lot this summer - Dreamy Creamy Donuts!!! Fresh made little mini donuts that melt in your mouth. You might want to consider moving back. Of course, they are only open Fri-Sat-Sun during the summer, so on second thought maybe that wouldn't be worth it.

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  14. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Jill, I have even more respect for you after this suggestion.


    Anyone who runs 50 miles across the rockies or bikes across alaska in the winter can eat whatever junk she damn well pleases.

    As for the rest of us mortals...

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  15. Anonymous6:20 PM

    If you liked Fairbanks in March, you might like it this time of year. I love our forecast for overnight: Mostly sunny.

    I'd have a hard time living somewhere where it gets dark summer nights.

    Tom
    Fairbanks

    Tonight...Mostly sunny. Isolated thunderstorms in the evening. Lows 50 to 55. Southwest winds around 10 mph.

    Tuesday...Mostly sunny. Isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs around 80. Light winds.

    Tuesday Night...Mostly sunny. Isolated thunderstorms in the evening. Lows 50 to 55. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

    Wednesday...Mostly sunny. Highs around 80. Southwest winds around 10 mph in the morning becoming light.

    Wednesday Night...Sunny. Lows 50 to 55. East winds to 10 mph. Tonight...Mostly sunny. Isolated thunderstorms in the evening. Lows 50 to 55. Southwest winds around 10 mph.

    Tuesday...Mostly sunny. Isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs around 80. Light winds.

    Tuesday Night...Mostly sunny. Isolated thunderstorms in the evening. Lows 50 to 55. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

    Wednesday...Mostly sunny. Highs around 80. Southwest winds around 10 mph in the morning becoming light.

    Wednesday Night...Sunny. Lows 50 to 55. East winds to 10 mph.

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  16. Anonymous10:15 PM

    Hey Jill, Thanks for the come back. I retract nothing....but I respect your moxie. Still girl, you can do better. (so much better).

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  17. Jill,
    What version of the e-Book do you think would work best on an iPad? I'd like to use iBooks to read it, but wonder if you have any thoughts.
    Zack

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  18. Zack,

    The iPad works with both ePub and PDF files as I understand it. I am working to get a properly formatted PDF file online, but until then the ePub version is best.

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  19. ohhh cookies :-) I like cookies ;-) Damn you for being next to a Trader Joes! [kidding of course]

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  20. Stinger's PR guy here. This post showed up in a Google Alert...LOVED it. Waffles in general are sort of like being in love with a crazy person. You know you can do better (and probably should), but you just can't help yourself. That's the attraction of all waffles living in the stroop category.

    As far as being overpriced, well...the world's a big enough place to accommodate a broad spectrum of opinions. We're going to focus on your observation that they were delicious. Thanks for that.

    Great blog. Not the first time that we've visited.

    Keep riding. And keep writing.

    MikeMac

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  21. Honey Stinger,

    you're a good sport about it, that's great! I really like the honey stinger chews - gotten me through some very though spots before - my favorites among that kind of energy food. The vanilla waffles are also VERY tasty and different.

    I do think you guys should look into a bite size option. I find the smaller TJ's size just right, but the Honey Stinger waffles are often just a bit too large.

    Oh and while I'm at suggesting, you should test your food in arctic conditions (aka can you eat it frozen solid?). There may not be a big market, but it would sure be cool to see how your stuff holds up in extreme conditions ... :) and it might be a fun little marketing thing.

    Cheers,
    Beat

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