Thursday, September 15, 2011

CookRunBeer: Training Notes: A Rookie Break through

CookRunBeer: Training Notes: A Rookie Break through: Atop Old Rag Mountain in Syria, VA I don't know if you are like me but when I am interested/passionate about something I immerse my se...

Training Notes: A Rookie Break through

Atop Old Rag Mountain in Syria, VA

I don't know if you are like me but when I am interested/passionate about something I immerse my self with reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts or just asking the veterans Questions about how it works, how to get better etc. Since starting this ultra running thing I have followed so many techniques and read so much. The most common thing i've read about training for ultra marathons is that no one technique works for everyone. In a nut shell, you have to try a lot of methods to build your stamina, pain tolerance, endurance, strength and anything else it takes to run longer than most people like to drive. In my reading I found a runner who has a philosophy that keeps coming back to my mind, Geoff Roes. Geoff has become one of my running hero's because of his laid back approach, I dont mean laid back as in lazy or "whatever man" he is no doubt a hard worker, the proof is in all the wins he has bagged over the years. Is Geoff my only hero? No, but when it comes to training I have found that the mind set he has or at least the one he talks about (I've never had a conversation about it with him, let alone met him) fits me perfect.

I have been trying all sorts of methods to get better: speed training, hill work, all trail, all road, 50/50, 70/30 you get the point. My biggest obstacle has been consistency, I would go hard and then get tired or worse, hurt, Until recently. I have been following the "Relentless Forward Progress" training program (this is not a mantra it's a book written by Bryon Powell, a great book at that so check out the link) I love this program, it gives me guidance, a set schedule, and motivation.  However good the program and however much I like it ,  I have been getting tired and  having a days worth of cold symptoms, then it goes and then it comes back. Given the stress I was having of making sure I get the run done no matter what and the cranky pants that comes when I don't get or even don't want to get it done, It was time for a tweak. The problem was that I didn't have a tweak in my holster, I haven't been doing this long enough. Behold a tweet from Geoff Roes. He had an article about consistency, but a different type of consistency than I have been having. This is a long term consistency rather than a, you guessed it,  short term. Rather than focussing on your day or week or even month, focus on your year or life. Think long term, if you push your self every day of every week, week after week then you will break down and then if you keep doing it you will break. I would like to say that this is what I took from the article you can read it yourself and take what you may. Think about running consistently for a year in a sense that, if you're not injured or broken you can take a beak when you get tired and unmotivated then pick it back up when your ready. the most important thing I took or interpreted from this is that you never have to run when you dont want to so therefore all your runs are invigorating and fun. Isn't fun the most important part of running? If you're not making money doing it, why be out on the trail miserable? I run for that child like sense of adventure, where it can take you and the things you can experience. From my own experience you cant run into a bear or a rattle snake running intervals around the track. You certainly cant strip down and jump into a cool natural pool after a run in your neighborhood.

The Pool - The Strip = Spared

For the past two weeks I have switched gears and began running when I felt like it and the thing I noticed is that I am not running less but running more and happier.  I do my long runs in the mountains on the weekend and they are getting easier or less hard (if it's easy you're not doing it right), my weekly runs have not been so regimented if I go out and feel like doing 10 or 12 miles mid week I do it, if I only feel like 3 then thats all I do. Another thing I noticed is that my millage in the past two weeks is higher than it has been and I feel better than I have ever felt. The interim weight I gained living back home has vanished. I am back down to my 50k PR weight. The funny thing about that, is that when I was down in weight and ran my PR I was training the same way but didn't realize it. I was just out there with my buddies Jake and Ben (who I hope will be ready for an even better time at Sylamore next year) just having a good time and if I did not feel like running there was always something else to do. I hope that I can hold on to this felling and have this consistency through out life because every time I lace up my shoes I want that grin of excitement to wash over me and I want to let it fly.... Or not!

Here is a link to Geoff's blog and the article he wrote on consistency Fumbling Towards Endurance

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Running in the mountains

I hope everyone had as good a Labor Day as I did. This year I traded a hot dog and beer coma for hours of trail running and some camping. Was there beer? yes... Was there hot dogs? yes.... The main focus was the trail running. A dinner party brought me to the Shenandoah Valley this weekend and besides making a little money the idea of spending all weekend running around the mountains was a welcome idea.

A day before I left for the Shenandoah I put a post on WVMTR's Facebook page, a call to anyone wanting to run 24 miles out in that area on Sunday. A familiar voice called back, Terrapin 50k race buddy Kenny sent me an email and shortly after that, we had a plan (kind of). All we knew was we were going to run on the Allegheny trail. What we didn't know, is what was in store. The plan was 2 pm at exit 1 on 64, which turned out to be known as Jerry's Run. For those interested in exploring the Allegheny, the southern terminus starts at Jerry's run. Coming from the North you would take I-64 west off of I-81 and take it to exit 1 about 55 miles, from the exit turn right and continue on the gravel road past the sign that reads ".25 miles road ends". From the South, take I-64 east from West Virginia crossing into Virginia at exit 1 take a left and cross the over pass to the gravel road.

At 2:00 or shortly after that, I met Kenny on the side of the road, we parked there because of the strange people parked at the parking area. (I think a good tip for anyone, if there are strange people at a remote parking lot and you plan on being out for hours, park somewhere else and run in to the trail head) We headed out about 2:45, and since it was later in the day we decided to focus more on the time. So off we went for a 2.5 hours out and back. Our first impression was that no one had been out there in a long time. Not much happened to change our impression. The terrain was all but very runnable. A lot of the trail was more of a "connect the blazes" type trail and the amount of wrong turns we took was proof of that. Along with briars and prickers there was enough bear scat to put up a log cabin. I hoped for a sighting but no luck that day. All in all I had a great day, not surprisingly Kenny was great company and a treasure trove of info. Highlight of said info was the new water treating technique that I almost had to use. Summation of the day 15+ miles in 4:48, a very slow pace by normal standards but considering the 7200 feet of gain and loss, poorly managed trail, and wrong turns we had a good time and a good run/hike.

Day 2 put me about 40 miles east on I-64 at Douthat State Park. This was my 2nd visit there and I really love it. I put together a nice 13 mile loop on the fly. I was feeling a little stiff and exhausted, I think due to my deflated air mattress, putting my rib cage right on a tree root, or maybe all the driving, or even the realization that I had not had enough electrolytes. The latter of the reasons was a humorous realization mid way through my run on Monday. On the recomendation of a recent purchase of "Fixing your feet" a book written by John Vonhof, I purchased some lysine and glysine to ease an Achilles strain. The humorous/potentially dangerous part of this is that glysine looks exactly like Endurolytes. The bottle they came in was glass, I dropped it, put it in a baggie and stuck it in my running kit. Two weeks later I found them right before we stepped on the Allegheny. So for that 5 hour run and the 2.5 hour run the following day I was taking glysine, instead of Endurolytes. It doesn't work quite the same, either way I lived and ended up having a good run. If your ever near Douthat check out  The Buckhorn camp ground just out side the park heading toward Clifton Forge. Take care everyone, till next time.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fuel For The Soul and The Run

Using foods from your own garden or a farmers market adds and aspect to you recipes that you may not normally use. Most people buy things like carrots and beets and never see the tops or the leaves. What you may not know is that these things pack a lot of flavor and nutrients. The tops or greens can also add a visual appeal to your dishes. In the following recipe I used as much of the vegetable as I could. The vegetables meld together to create a sweet, earthy, rich vegetable dish and the addition of the poached egg add some satiety and richness. I hope you enjoy it a much as my family did.

Warm Vegetable salad
Serves 4

3 carrots with tops
6 small beets with tops
2 sweet onions (i used onions from the garden and used the tops also)
2 cobs of corn
1/2 pound of green beans
2 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch chili flake (optional)
4 eggs
crispy warm bread

Remove tops from the beets, carrots, and onions. Gently wash the tops and thoroughly wash the root part.
Place the beets in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil, boil for 35 to 40 minutes or until fork tender. While the beets cook slice the onions into 1/4 inch slices, strip the corn kernels from the cob using a knife,  wash and cut the green beens into 1 inch pieces, cut the carrots into oblique, and roughly chop the beet greens and a few of the carrot tops. In a heavy pan like a cast iron or a ceramic braising pan (I used a ceramic brasier) heat two tbsp of butter, once the butter bubbles and gets hot add the carrots and onions. Cook the carrots and onions until the onions start to caramelize then add the corn and beans and cook until the beans start to turn vibrant green. Next, add the greens and cook everything until all the vegetables are tender season with chili flake salt and pepper. Once the beets are cooked place them in cold water and peel under water (the skin should come right off) cut each beet into 12 pieces and stir into the other vegetables.

For the poached egg heat a wide pot of water filled up 4 inches, add salt and white vinegar. Add enough vinegar to make the water taste acidic. The water should be at a low simmer, just a few bubbles rising from the bottom. Once the water is heated, gently crack the eggs into the water and let cook for around 4 to 6 minutes. Most importantly the whites should be cooked completely and the yolk warmed through. Eggs are cheap and a tester never hurt anyone.

Spoon about a cup and a half of the vegetables into a bowl and place one poached egg on top of each. serve this with some crispy bread and unsalted butter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Trip to the Garden

I spent the past weekend in Olean, NY, I will admit that the first couple of visits when I was too cool for school, fat, egotistical chef boy, I didn't much like Olean. As my Love for my wife's family grew stronger, because I got to know them. Of course I loved them by default but know I have reasons for the love. Being that this is a running and eating and drinking blog I will save the sap for another time. This last trip I got to spend 80% of the time with my brother in law. He lives on a dead end road in the hills of Western NY. This is the most time I have spent with him and we are a lot alike, about as much as I thought we were. On this huge country property he has three amazing gardens. He grows corn, beets, carrots, sweet potato, onions, green beans, squash, radish, the list goes on. Among other things I spent a lot of time in that garden. I picked carrots, beets, onions, green beans, I got so inspired I went right into his kitchen to begin cooking. Unfortunately, due to renovations there wasn't much to work with. For that day's amusement, I found an old lodge cast iron in need of seasoning  and so we drank beer while I seasoned it and he did some plumbing work.

The next day I whipped up a warm vegetable salad so that he and his girl friend could taste the fruits of there labor. It was a hit, I used the carrot tops and the beet greens along with all the other vegetables. What we had, was a vibrant, sweet, and earthy combination of vegetables that begged for something else, a poached egg and some crispy bread perhaps. I am going to have to let you know. I brought home a bag of fresh vegetables from B.I.L's garden and tomorrow I am going to come back to you with a recipe or two and some pictures of this amazing garden feast. What an inspiration a garden can be and i cant wait to start a garden of my own. There is only one thing better than shopping the perimeter of a grocery store and thats shopping your own back yard. Who would have thought it would take a trip to Olean to truly understand that.    

See you tomorrow with this awesome recipe

A New Training Lesson

Hey blog land, I want to first apologize to you and to my self for letting this fall to the wayside. My mental state has not been very desirable as of late. I kind of lost focus of life and geared up focus on training for my next race. This may have not been the best way to approach life at this delicate time I am in. As you all know I recently moved back to Maryland, much to my chagrin. However, we are in the process of making changes to  please my wife as well me. Since moving I have been unemployed. One scenario after the next and the excuses piled up why I shouldn't be actively pursuing a job and Here we are 6 months later (the longest stint of unemployment since 16 years of age). Could I have a job at any restaurant? Yes, but it's not the life I want anymore. I want to live the dream and work for my self. Which brings us to the topic or the lesson I have recently learned.

Over the last 2 years I have been embarked on a journey to change the way I live. Through this journey I learned that I no longer like working in the restaurant, that I love to run and I still and maybe even more love food, and lastly I care where the countries eating habits are going. Unfortunately my love of running and challenges have been taking up all my time. I knew this wasn't smart,  but i've lost control. 

The Lesson:
Don't give 100% of yourself to any one thing, but give everything you have to what ever you are doing.

I know your supposed to give 110% blah blah blah, but lets all be honest, in regards to time 100% is all you have 110% of the clock puts you into the next day.  Case and point: all I have been thinking of is running and every couple weeks something malfunctions on my body and it makes me depressed and irritable. This behavior is not fair to my family or myself. Rather than throwing a pity party for my strained Achilles maybe I should limp into a place of business and ask for a job. I am not sure how my wife is so patient with me but I love her for that. I don't want to give the impression that for the last 6 months I have just been running and napping, just running and hiding. There are plenty of things to do when you live this close to family. Plenty of chores and odd jobs to hide behind, I know in my heart if I told my family, "cook your own dinner I have been busy trying to find a job" they wouldn't have asked me to leave. I recently had an interview, the owner of the company explained to me how he only sleeps 15 hours a week, that was inspiring to me. There are 168 hours in a week I am training about 15, that leaves 153 hours to get it together, for my sanity and my families happiness I have to get it together. so this is my first day back, 
I will find a job!
I will Blog!
I will still cook dinner!
I will start my freelance writing again!
I will Build this business that I have a passion for!
I will change the way this country eats one willing family at a time! 
I will be a better husband!
I will be a better son, grandson, nephew cousin and brother!

Life training starts now.      

Saturday, May 21, 2011

New Examiner Article

Hey blog world i've got a new article on the examiner so check it out. We had a lot of fun the other night, click to see why.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blue Cheese Burger with Tart Cherry BBQ sauce

To read about a wonderful beer paring follow the link to the examiner website


Serves 2
6 ounces 93/7 ground beef
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp worchestershire
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
 4 slices roasted or grilled sweet onions
2 slices blue chesse or smoked cheddar
2 pieces natures own deli thins

Mix everything together and form into 2 patties. Put in the refrigerator while the onions roast

To roast onions you will need 1 onion sliced into 1-inch slices. Heat oven to 425 and brush a baking sheet with olive oil, then brush the topside of the onion and season with salt and pepper put in the oven for about 20 to 25 min. they should be soft and caramelized on the pan side.


Serves 2
1 sweet potato
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp paprika
2 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic

Heat oven to 425.
Cut the potatoes into desired shape and put in a bowl. Mince the garlic and thyme together and put in bowl toss together with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Lay out on a baking tray and bake about 20 to 25 min (you can bake at the same time as the onions on the same tray).

Cherry BBQ sauce
Yields: 1 cup
3 strips bacon (diced)
½ Onion (diced)
1 clove garlic (chopped)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
¼ cup sorghum or molasses
1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
½ ounce dark chocolate

Heat a heavy saucepot to medium high and add the bacon, cook until bacon starts to brown and the fat is rendered out. Add the onions and garlic, cook until they start to brown, add the spiced and sorghum and cook about 1 to 2 minutes to allow the flavor to develop. Add the vinegar and cook down to ½ cup and add the ketchup cook about 10 minutes. Put in a blender with chocolate and blend till smooth. You can strain it through a fine sieve or leave it chunky. I prefer to strain it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New Venture

Hey everyone,

         I have a new gig, I have started writing for an online publication called the Examiner. I could use a little support and in return the recipes will be plentiful. I am required to write at least 3 times per week and the more I write the better it is for me. I will be posting the recipes on the blog to increase traffic, in addition the article's link will be posted on the recipe blog. My aim is to educate people on food and beer pairings. The version of Examiner I am writing for is localized (Arlington, VA), but that doesn't mean that everyone can't learn and reap the benefits of some tasty dishes. Here is the link for the first article. I did not include it in the last post because I wasn't officially live at the time. Thanks in advance for your support.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Buffalo Bills Brewery Orange Blossom cream ale steamed clams

         This is a sure fire crowd pleaser, it takes 10 minutes of cooking time, pair that with crispy bread and a cold, crisp Orange Blossom Cream ale and you will be fighting your guest off with the baguette. Obviously orange and clams go well together. The clams are sweet and tender (when cooked right) and any citrus goes well with shellfish so why not use a cooking liquid full of orange and floral notes to cook these tender morsels. Add a little ginger and tarragon and you have yourself an aromatic "party in your mouth". So take some time this week and cook up a bowl of these and see what I mean.

Steamed clams
Serves: 2

1 tbsp olive oil
2 pounds cherry stone clams or Prince Edward Island mussels
1 clove garlic (minced)
2 tbsp ginger (grated)
2 sprigs tarragon (chopped)
1 shallot  (minced)
1/2 bottle of Buffalo Bills Brewery Orange Blossom Cream ale
1 tbsp butter
4 slices rustic bread (toasted)

Heat a large saute pan (equipped with a tight fitting lid) to a high heat, add the oil and allow to warm, this will happen quickly. Add the shallot, garlic, and ginger, saute for a couple of minutes just until they start to form color. now add the clams or mussels, saute until the pan recovers and becomes very hot again. (this step is important because if you put beer in a cold pan the there will be no steam and you need steam to open the shellfish). as soon as you add the beer place the lid on the pan to capture the steam. now pour the other half of the beer into a glass and wait roughly ten minutes or until the clams open. Now, wasn't that good? Once the clams open remove the lid and add the butter to let reduce for 3 to 4 minutes on high heat. Place the clams in a bowl with a slotted spoon then  add the tarragon and season the broth, pour the broth over the clams, straight from the pan. Serve with the toasted rustic bread.

*important note mussels open twice as fast as the clams in roughly 5 minutes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

CookRunBeer: West Virginia: Wild and Wonderful part 2

CookRunBeer: West Virginia: Wild and Wonderful part 2: "the overlook at coopers rock Well, once again it was time to head to West Virginia, duty called. My little sis needed a ride hom..."

West Virginia: Wild and Wonderful part 2

the overlook at coopers rock

 Well, once again it was time to head to West Virginia, duty called. My little sis needed a ride home from college. So I headed out about 4 am on Tuesday morning. I was headed for Coopers Rock State Park, which is on the way to West Virginia Wesleyan college where my sister was waiting. I only had about 2 hours sleep so I decided to stop at a rest stop and sleep for about an hour. I quickly found out that I stopped 1 exit from the park. The regret subsided shortly after I began running. Last time I ran here I brought my phone to take pictures, I decided to leave it this time due to the fact that last time photography slowed my run down considerably, equalling less distance covered and less of the park enjoyed. This is a decision that I would and still do, and may always regret not bringing it.

Cheat River
         I arrived at the parking lot so tired it felt like my face was swollen and like I just got punched. So I did what any respectable trail runner would do,  got dressed, filled my fuel belt and headed onto the XC ski trail. My plan was to head to Clay Furnace and link up to Scotts Run to create a loop and see where that gets me. I was feeling very stiff and sluggish, but i pressed on. Once I got onto the Clay Furnace trail this feeling went away. At this point I am kicking fast on this 2 mile down hill. The trail had nice flow while being rocky and technical(maybe that is where I preform better on rocky and technical, probably because I learned how to run trails in Little ROCK). Now for the camera regret, here I am kicking hard and fast with extreme concentration I was hitting 7 to 7:21 minute miles, then BOOM, my brain kicked in with a thought, STOP, Quickly following with JUMP UP AND BACK. I abruptly did so and figured out why my brain put me in this stressful contortion. What I found in front of me was a sun bather, not a nude human being stretched out on the trail, more of the dangerous venomous type of sun bather. Respectfully I backed up slowly to drink in what was placed in front of me. I was faced with a beautiful four and a half foot timber rattlesnake. Luckily the snake allowed me to get closer and have a look. I have never seen a rattlesnake up close in the wild. Needless to say I was very excited, promptly followed by a sad feeling. Of course I did not bring my phone, then oh sh%*, what if.... I don't want to think about that 2 mile uphill hike back to the car with a rattlesnake bite. Thankfully this was not the case. After a 15 or 20 minute stand off he let me by, but not without letting me know that he was still there and he is the boss. He slithered up 2 feet off the trail and turned around to face me in a slightly defensive position.

      The rest of the run was more alert than normal but awesome. I had no specific direction in which I was traveling, I went for the steepest trails, they usually bring you to the best parts of a park. I descended down to Cheat Lake, then climbed back up and then farther about 1500 feet over 2 1/2 miles. I ended up making a lollipop with a big loop on the end of the stick. Included in the run were; overlooks, small waterfalls, lakes, grueling climbs, fast flowing downhills, rattlesnakes, and vibrant green foliage, All in two and a half hours. What a day! After aiding my sick sister with moving her into a storage unit I rewarded my self with some good brews from Mountain State Brewing Company, Magic Hat, and Rogue and I pared that with what Allburgars restaurant called the sunny side up burger.

On our way home we stopped back at the park to take pictures at the overlook so I hope you enjoy the pics.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Terrapin Mountain 50k: Lesson learned

This past Saturday my family and I made our way to Sedalia Va. So I could run the Terrapin Mountain 50k and my wife could run the half marathon. As the race was approaching my nervousness was increasing. As you may have read, I ran the Arkansas held race the Sylamore 50k trail run and it went great I improved my time by almost 2 hours and post race was fantastic as far as walking and talking goes. The Sylamore 50k has an elevation gain of around 6000 feet but with no climbs higher than 1000 feet so it is up and down the whole way. I figured up and down what is the difference, I can run a 6:20 maybe a 6:40 cause of the elevation. Well,  Lesson learned.

Right before the gong
      The Terrapin starts promptly at 6am at the Sedalia center in Sedalia VA. At 5:30 I was crawling out of my skin for the sound of the gong (a signature start of the race by director Clark Zealand). I have not been that excited in all my runs. So once the gong was banged we were off at a nice respectable pace. We start out on road for about 1mile then turn right onto some gravel and begin the 2500 ft climb in just 3 short miles. This is where the mortals walk/run. So we did at a pretty good pace. My wife and I came into camping gap in about 1 hour on the dot, 10 minutes slower than I anticipated or guessed. You see I have never climbed that high in my running career, so 10 minutes wasn’t bothering me. We filled our bottles, kissed and off we went. She climbed another 1000++ feet and I went flying down 5 miles and 2500 feet of gravel road to the other side at Goff Mountain rd. I say flying because I made it down in 45 minutes, with 2 pee breaks and a bottle fill up before hitting the second aid station at the bottom.

At the Goff Mountain road aid station, my quads were obviously concerning me, having never done that before. I had some weird sensations in those puppies. Luckily for me we had to climb up again, so I could rely on other parts of the legs. As we started our accent up Goff mountain Rd, I had yet another scary thought, "if I walk this section it is going to take 12 hours, better yet if I walk all the hills I am certain to be left out here". So I followed a couple of guys in technique. Run from flag to flag then walk from flag to flag. It breaks up the monotony as he said and was working quite well. We jumped onto some single track after a while and I felt right at home. You see I am back in Maryland by way of Little Rock, were the stride is a little something like stride, stride, stride, hop, jump, stride, hop, you get the idea. In Little Rock once you master this you can be an accomplished runner. After a successful technical decent I was back at the horse trail aid station.

Now all I have to do is run back up to camping gap for 3.1 miles and something around 2000 feet, I think? Here we go from flag to flag. I met a guy at Goff Mountain Rd and we had been chatting off and on since then (I am pretty sure his name is Kenny) in conversation he mentioned that I was going to get tired of seeing camping gap. To be honest at the second visit, I wanted to kiss and hug the station, this feeling continued throughout the day.  It marked the next step and another step complete. Despite not agreeing with Kenny he provided me with some distraction and turned out to be great trail company. So if you’re reading Kenny, thanks for the trail company. I must be honest I made up a nickname for Kenny in my head strictly based on his hiking technique and skill. Every time we hit a steep one I knew I wouldn't see him until the downhill, my specialty. To me Kenny will be forever known as the "Billy goat". As we made our way through "WHORE LOOP"(I am not sure why it is called this but that is what they called it) I hit a low point on the climb up to the first orienteering point. These hills seemed relentless and I thought we would never get to the top. We did and I promptly used that down hill to regain my momentum to finish. At the orienteering point there was a lot of bathroom breaks and snacking. I used that time to pass up a lot of people and I wouldn't see them the rest of the race. 
Post race meal with dad

Sore, tired and hungry,

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekly Fuel: A Guilty Tasting Dinner

As I have mentioned previously I have been using my family as guinea pigs. Ever since my wife and I began running it has sparked quite and interest in all around improvement of health in the family. So while I am here we have decided to go for it and all get to that optimal health together, under my guidance. Even people I did not think would be on board are on board. So I was inspired to post this because of the comments at dinner. Over the past week I have been guiding the family as to what should be eaten for breakfast and lunch, all the while teaching what certain foods can do to your daily caloric intake, as well what wholesome food can do for your belly. Now for the comments: mmmm... Wow...., what is this...., and most important, I feel so full on such a small portion. Well I got news, it wasn't just your belly that was full, it was your mind as well. that fact that the food tasted rich and unlike the misconception of "health food"  tasted good. It tricked you mind into thinking that you ate something guilty and satisfying. These types of dinners are not magic it's just a home cooked meal with conscious choices for ingredients and portion size. So enough ranting and down to the nitty gritty. The good stuff.  I’m fairly certain that the star of the night was the spaghetti squash, along with that was a simply sautéed piece of chicken breast and a tomato salad.

All of this packs just; 300 calories, 8.2 grams of fat, 17.4grams carbs and 28.3 grams protein.

sauteed chicken breast
serves: 6
3-8 oz chicken breasts
slat and pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
3 thyme sprigs for each side

Place one breast at a time into a heavy plastic zip top bag, pound it out to 1/2 inch thick with a rolling pin. once all chicken is pounded, place on sheet tray. Crack fresh pepper and sprinkle garlic powder onto. put thyme sprigs on each side and let sit for and hour. heat a non stick pan to med-high heat and then spray with pan spray. season the chicken with salt just before it goes into the pan. cook on each side to a golden brown and until its cook through. let rest and portion by cutting each breast in half.

Spaghetti squash gratin.
serves 6
1 spaghetti squassh
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp parmesan cheese
1/3 cup fat free sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

heat the oven to 375
poke hole all over the squash with a fork, bake in a 375 oven for about an hour or until the squash is soft.  once cool enough to handle remove the steam in and split in half long ways. remove seeds with a spoon careful not to remove too much flesh(you will lose a little this way). now using a fork scrape the flesh out completely and put in a bowl with spinach, sour cream and cheese. mix throughly and season with salt and pepper. place into a 8x8 pan and bake for 15 min on 375, then put on broil for 3 to 4 min until the top browns slightly. after 10 minutes of rest cut into.

Tomato salad
Serves 6
12 large capri tomatos(quartered)
1 avocado(sliced)
1 red bell pepper(julienne)
1 tbsp aged balsamic
1 yellow onion(sliced 11/2 inch thick)
2 tbsp shredded parmesan cheese

heat oven to 375
Lay the onions on a sheet tray, spray with pan spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until soft and sweet.
once onions come out of the oven, rough chop and put in a bowl, mix that with all other ingredients and let sit for one hour. season with salt and pepper and serve with chicken and squash.

Terrapin Mountain 50k live stats

Hey friends and family race director Clark Zealand set up live stats for this race so follow along with us tomorrow. The first link is my race and the second link is Siobhan's race. Of course stay tuned for the race report. Go Team cookrunBeer!!!

John Leonardis Race BIB #169
Siobhan Leonardis race BIB #350

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wild and Wonderful


    Recently while sitting in my parent's living room, I over heard my youngest sister on a phone conversation. The conversation did not seem so to go so well, upon hanging up she sorrowfully lets me know she will be heading back to school the following day at 1 pm. Now as a big brother I couldn't have this. She clearly did not want to go back 1 day early. So I swooped in with a plan in mind. You see, my sister attends school in West Virginia. Trail runner in training for 50k with a good bit of mountainous climbing and a sister in need of a ride to mountainous West Virginia. Not mention my cousin also lives in Morgantown. This plan seemed to be working out beautifully, I could stay on a couch and not in a college dorm room.

      The only set back is that my wife and I were set to go to a party, where it was sure to be the pre tapper steam blow off that I seem to be making a habit when training. I assure you, that is exactly what it turned out to be, and what a great time it was. Before we headed out to the party we did make sure to get in a nice 16 mile loop at a local trail, so feeling good about my self I let the kettle boil for as long as I could. The next day brought moms famous gravy and pasta with meatballs and sausage. This on top of the two hours left of moving furniture my dad and I did left next to nothing in the tank. So after several cups of coffee and a long personal debate weather or not to leave at 9 pm or the next morning at 3, I went to bed, where I laid wide eyed and tossing until 3. Then off we went as scheduled at 3:16 in the morning.

      Working on no sleep we finally made it to Morgantown, West Virginia and had breakfast at the Eat and Park(by the way I find this request of the restaurant pretty impossible, I would much rather park and then eat. Call me old fashioned if you like). I knew that I was planning on running shortly there after, planned... right? I had some mediocre at best, whole grain pancakes and egg substitutes, what could I have possibly expected? After a hard last hour of driving with the window down hoping that the mountain air would keep us awake, we arrived and I napped for two hours. I said my good byes and headed back to Morgantown. My cousin and I  tinkered with her car bit and finally by 4:30pm i was arriving at the Cooper's Rock State Park. I guzzled a G1 aka Gatorade Prime, and i was off with no clear map or direction.

     I started my run on the cross country ski trail. That little quarter mile stretch ended up at a three way intersection. Advanced cross country ski trail.... Tempting, a trail with no name, and the road side trail, which sounds boring but underneath that sign was another that read Cooper's Rock overlook 2.8 miles. Sounds good,  at least we have an overlook and 6 miles of trail running as a start. I headed down the road side trail feeling surprisingly good fueled on a G1 and 2 hours of sleep following a night of partying. The trail ran along the road of course, just as described. There were a good amount of climbs as one would expect on the way to an overlook. Once at the overlook, I paused for 5 minutes or so to take some photos. I love an overlook with a river running through the valley.

Being that this is a run and not a day hike i put away the Droid and stopped pondering the meaning of life and back tracked out to the road were I noticed a few other trail heads. I went with the most dangerous sounding one. The Rattlesnake Trail. This was by far my favorite trail it shot down below the overlook and climbed up just as quick through the rocks, and back on to a trail. By far some of the most technical running I have done, considering I was trying to keep a 10:00 minute mile going.

        This is the point where I have no idea where I ran but I got some amazing pic's. I believe I was on the ridge trail for a while, as well the eagle, rock city, a couple of places that were not blazed and the raven something for a short out and back. All of the trail was beautiful and I would say a great excuses to visit family or vise versa. This was that kind of trail run that brings out that internal music that you hear when all is good and you cant help but to grin from ear to ear. It is an experience you can only get out in the woods all alone with your internal mp3 player making songs you've never heard but that sound good. I passed a few people and over heard one of them say, "The air is so fresh and crisp up here", thats right and it cause all the gates in the park are locked and only the people who are willing to hike or run in are up here and from the looks of it, that is not many people. Thankfully for us, right? I had to write about this because it reminded me of a run in Little Rock that inspired me to start this blog in the first place. I think I forgot why I started it and this brought that back. So onward and forward with more running entries. Now its out the door for a light run. I have 9 days until the Terrapin 50k a part of the Beast series of trail running. I am hoping to beat last months 50k time of 6:20:14. Enjoy the pic's and Happy St. Patty's day. For more pic's follow the link

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sylamore 50K trail run: Race Report

This was the only pic of race day I have.
                     First off let me stress how much I love this race in northern Arkansas. This is such a beautiful area of the country and despite what people may think; there are some knarley climbs and fast descents. Not to forget the creek crossing which is my favorite part. Every year you pay attention to the rain fall, melted snow ect. you just never know how deep it's going to be. It builds mental toughness right off the bat. I would also like to shout out to New Balance for the MT101. This is my shoe of choice from now on. It has rid my stride of bouncy, sloppy trail running, as well the turned ankles and braces are nonexistent. So thank you New Balance, I can't wait for the Minimus to hit the shelves.

            Training for Sylamore went so well this year, I got in quiet a few long runs, and by suggestion of my ultra running doctor I took up daily yoga sessions. Top all that off with a twice a week crossfit work out, I was stronger and lighter than I have ever been. I paid close attention to my hydration and diet. opting for a lower than usual calorie count, I felt light and fresh every morning. For pre race dinner I roasted a chicken with thyme and olive oil, accompanied by a roasted sweet potatoes and a salad of grapefruit and point Reyes blue cheese. Two of my weekend race buddies Jake Edge and Adiel Looney joined me for dinner at the pinewood cabins and offered a nice red wine from Chile. My number 3 and consistent training partner Ben Mansur was long behind and I am not sure how he made it out of bed. I am however very proud of him for pulling out a 6:40 for his first 50k and I think first race period.

            On the morning of, I woke about 4:30am and prepared breakfast for Ben and I (egg whites, whole wheat toast with apple butter). after the pre race foot greasing ritual we headed out. We arrived at the anglers restaurant at about 6:30 and hung out and I was anticipating a morning movement. Unfortunate for me it never came and this will go on to haunt me all day. We all lined up at around 5 till 7 checking watches, chit chatting, bouncing nervously awaiting the horn, and then at 7 on the dot, we were off. I am sure we all were thinking the same things (do I have everything?, do I want to do this?, are my shoes tied the way I like, and is that a pain in my groin?). Taking off heading up to the trail head Ben and I were feeling really good trotting along at a slow comfortable pace. Our plan was to make that first 6.4 miles feel like 2 miles. We settled  into a group that was run-walking and it was hard to control ourselves from jetting around and flying past the 15 people in the trail conga line. Once we reached Blanchard springs A.S. I asked Ben if he wouldn't mind filling my two water bottles while I give the morning movement one more try. With a little success and Ben waiting right outside door, we were off up the steep climb on the way to gunner pool.

            On the way to gunner pool we hike/ran up the hill and then we flew down the opposite side. Staying a course with my hydration and nutrition plan all of this felt flawless. Our Plan was a Power gel and Hammer nutrition electro tab per hour washed down with 2-8oz btls of water. At the aid stations I dined on oranges and Gatorade and a few handfuls of M&M's. It was fueling me just right. Gunner pool had wonderful views of the creek down below and great fast downhill sections. I did not stop to enjoy the view as much as last year because this year I was shooting for a time of 7:30:00 a 30 minute improvement from last year. as we push along, we began passing quite a few people. I also noticed that we were making the aid stations in about 1 hour. this felt really good but a little uncomfortable, seeing as how I felt like shit at this point last year and a race volunteer jokingly let me know that at the turnaround.

once we hit Gunner Pool I was feeling so good. we were at the aid station for about 4 minutes then back on the trail. this was a killer for me last year it seemed like a long slow accent to a rolling section that involved a lot of walking. but not this year we ran 90% of this I was feeling very good minus the stomach discomfort.

            once we reached the turnaround I hit the bathroom once more, just in case the sun aligned with the moon but no avail. I filled my water and a handful of M&M's and headed back to the finish. I took long enough in the bathroom to have to catch the 10 people I had lead and caught 3 times before. I was feeling amazing so I took off and pulled off a 6:00 minute pace down into Blanchard springs (thanks to gravity, of course). I felt strong until after I left Blanchard springs where I started to cramp a little due to a miss calculation of my water needs, running out 3 miles before the finish. once I hit the road with 1 mile to go I rallied and pulled off a 7:30 pace all the way across the line for a 6:20:07 finish. 1 hour and 43 minutes better than last year.

I would love to thank all the volunteers for a great race support and Steve Appleton and Greg Eason for putting on a great race yet again. and thanks to all the people who pushed me into this wonderful sport and all the friends who run alongside me and support what I am doing. I have chosen my nest race and I will be running the Terrapin Mountain 50k in Sedalia, VA


Friday, February 18, 2011

Sauce Class: A break from the healthy regiment

Hello everyone, I have some recipes to share with you on this beautiful sixty degree day in Little Rock. Now these recipes do not have nutritional Facts,  and one or two of them might not be in a runners plan. The reason for sharing is because the class last night was so much fun and the food was delicious. Today is my 29th birthday, I am now 1 year closer to my 100 miler goal cut off. I will be celebrating my birthday with a few close friends in Mountain View, Arkansas. Doing what? Off course running in a race. Tomorrow is the Sylamore 50k. i have been looking forward to this since I took my shoes off at the angler's restaurant (the start and finish) last year.  I am going to try to tweet at the aid stations to give quick updates, so follow me on twitter @cookrunbeer. the only obstacle I can foresee is the reception.

I also wanted to run something by everyone. I was having a conversation with my dad last week about blogging and he suggested I create an alter ego blog, I know that I have been very inconsistent with my post's but, I have big things going on right now, so I am working on this. The reason I ask this question, is because I am a foodie first. I love wine and food or food and beer. I want to share all of this with you. So if you interested in this other side of me, leave me a comment and I will find a way to do it.

Well enjoy these dishes, especially the sliders with the slaw.

Potato crusted fish
Yields: 4 portions
2 cups potato buds
1-cup flour
5 eggs
4 pieces of fish
Salt and pepper
-Put buds, eggs, and flour in separate containers
-Wisk eggs thoroughly
-Season fish on both sides
-Dip one side into flour then eggs this is to make glue then dip into potato
-Pan fry on med heat until golden brown finish in the oven.

Boulanger sauce
Yields: 1-cup sauce

4 strips of bacon
1 baking potato (cut into 4 pieces)
1/2 yellow onion (in cut form)
3 cloves minced garlic
3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in braising pan or high-sided sauté pan in separate areas of a braising pot place bacon, onion, and potato and caramelize all sides
Once all ingredients are golden brown add garlic and broth and reduce by 2/3
Strain into smaller pot. To finish season and whisk in 2 tbsp soft butter.

To freeze this sauce for a later date, take it to the strained point and pour into a ice cube tray and once frozen pop out into a zip lock bag. To reheat add 3 cubes in a saucepot and reduce slightly, finish with butter to add body to the sauce. A dab of black truffle butter is a wonderful addition especially with game like squab or quail

 Burre Blanc
Yields: 1-cup sauce

½ cup white wine
½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp minced shallot
1 tsp olive oil
2 pepper corns
2 tbsp cream (optional)
1 ½ to 2 sticks butter (cold)

In a medium sized pot sweat the shallot and garlic until soft, add the wine and peppercorn, reduce by ¾. Add the cream and heat to a simmer; slowly add the butter chunks one at a time. It is important to not let this come to a boil once the butter has gone in. and this is a sauce that is served warm not hot. Once about half the butter is added and the emulsification has started you can add the butter a little faster. You can finish this sauce with anything. Today we will finish it with mint; capers, tomato, parsley, and lemon zest then toss it with penne.

Salsa Verde
Yields: 2 cups sauce

2 packs of chives, mint,
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp Dijon or brown mustard
3 white anchovy filets (optional)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2-cup olive oil
1 large handful of ice

Place everything but oil in blender and blend to liquefy while adding the oil.
Once all the oil is in season with salt (you may need to add water a little at a time to get it going)

Use the herbs in this recipe as a guideline do not substitute just leave less desired herbs out and add more of the others.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Pork tenderloin
5 sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp butter
1 shallot
1 clove, garlic
1 tbsp capers
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 375°
Remove the pork from the package and dry thoroughly. Remove the silver skin and most of the fat. Set aside on a plate and wash your cutting board. Mince the shallot and garlic, and then chop the capers. Heat a heavy sauté pans to med-high. Add the oil and allow to heat. Once pan it hot (when the oil shimmers and runs across the pan very fast). Season your pork with salt and pepper and add it to the pan. Sear it on all sides until it is browned. Add the butter, shallot, caper, thyme, and garlic. Now baste the pork off the heat for 1 min and place it in the oven. Allow to cook through, about 2 to 5 min. a thermometer should read 148° to 155°, depending on the desired doneness. Let it rest for 5 minutes then slice and serve with Salsa Verde.

Yield 4 cups

4 egg yolks
Juice of half a lemon
3 to 4 cups oil
Salt and pepper to taste

-Place yolks in a food processor with lemon juice blend until smooth
-While processor is running slowly drizzle oil in to top hole (putting at east 3 cups in)
-If your mayo is too t hick you can add a little water to thin it out
*I like to make it thicker and thin it out so that is has more structure.

Lemon mayo
Yield 1 ¼ cup

1 cup prepared mayo
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 tbsp turmeric

Wisk everything together and let set for 1 hour in refrigeration

Lime ginger mayo
Yield 1 ½ cup

1 cup prepared mayo
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
2 limes juiced
Small bunch of chives (minced)
2 tbsp carrots (minced)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water

-In a sauté pan sweat garlic and ginger in oil until aromatic and soft
-Add limejuice, sugar, water, and carrots, cook until carrots are soft set aside to cool.
-Once cool stir lime ginger mix and chives into mayo and adjust seasoning

Asian sliders
Yields: 4-2 slider servings

½ pound ground pork
¾ pound ground sirloin
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp Sriracha (chili paste)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 egg
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Divide up into 8 patties and roll into balls. Smash into patties. And cook in a non-stick pan until cooked about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

Slider assembly:
You will need 8 Hawaiian rolls, 8 slices of smoked provolone, 4 tbsps of lime ginger mayo, and 8 tbsp slaw (see recipe)

Warm the rolls in your oven simultaneously melt the cheese on each burger.  Spread a little lime ginger on each side, place burger on bottom bun and then top with 1 tbsp slaw

Yields: 4 cups slaw

3 ½ cups Napa cabbage
½ cup sliced onions
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Slice cabbage head in 4 long ways, and then thinly slice it cross ways. In a bowl whisk together vinegar, honey, oil, and mint. Add cabbage and onion to bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix together and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


      Ok everyone I  attempted to shoot some videos, not successful. With that said I am only giving you the recipes for right now. I am going to keep at it, and try to figure out this final cut software. I apologize for the infrequent posts. I am up to my face in life. This race on the 19th is all I can think about. Unfortunately I also have to work, pack, move, and have a full schedule of classes booked. Don't get me wrong, these are all good problems to have, it's just not leaving much time for anything else.  All of the following recipes are under 150 calories and include small amounts of healthy fat. They are from a knife skills class I recently taught.

I am planning on posting a training summation before the race and then a race report. I am off for a run in this lovely 20 degree weather, luckily I have my under armor ninja mask to somewhat protect my lungs. I guess mother nature had a case of ADD when I said, "The weather needs to cool down, I would rather run in 28 degrees than 70". 28 not 20 and it appears that snow has started to fall, at least there's that. I will talk to you guys soon.

For now here are the recipes:                                        

Dressing for cucumber salad
Yields 1/2 cup  
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp EVO

put everything into a bottle and shake vigorously until a temporary emulsion is formed

Cucumber salad
Yields 4- 1/2 cup servings

1 english cucumber
2 green onions
1/4 red onion
2 to 3 tbsp dressing

After removing the plastic from the cucumber, slice it into half long ways, then slice in half once more creating 4 long pieces. Remove the little nub from each end and angle your knife in a little and slice each piece on a bias. Remove the end from the green onion and slice the same way as the cucumber. Finally, slice the red onion very thin and toss everything together. Season with salt and pepper and mix in the dressing.