Vegan/Paleo Date Energy Bites

Kev loves making these as a quick and healthy treat – it totally satisfies both the ‘sweet’ and ‘salty’ cravings – great for ‘on the go’ snacking too!

Prep time: 15 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 24

Ingredients:
2 cups walnuts, or other nut/seed of choice
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups soft pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

energybites2

Instructions:
In a large food processor fitted with an “S” blade, process the walnuts and coconut until crumbly. Add in the dates, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt and process again until a sticky, uniform batter is formed.

Scoop the dough by heaping tablespoons, then roll between your hands to form balls. Arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then place in the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving.

Store the energy bites in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for an even longer shelf life.

For a gourmet-looking truffle, you could also roll them in shredded coconut or cocoa powder before chilling!

Enjoy!

energybites_header

Skechers GOrun Ultra…

Earlier in the season, we had the opportunity to connect with the team from Skechers.  They have developed a full line of Performance Shoes and they thought we’d make good product testers/brand ambassadors.  The Performance line was new to us, so we were excited to test them out and see what all the shoe-buzz was about!

We first tried out the GOrun models, and loved the light-weight and super-comfy fit. They were super flexible in the upper, and feature flat-lock stitching details for a seamless feel and fit. They also offered a great mid-foot strike. Next it was the GOrun ‘Ride’, which offers a 4mm heel drop and a unrestricted ‘stable’ feel, with a bit more lateral and medial support for longer runs.  We really got to test these out at the Chicago Marathon in October, where we both PB’d!

Then, as our training for the Ultraman World Championships was winding up, we slipped into the ‘GOrun Ultra’s‘, which provided the ultimate cushioning with the Resalyte shock absorption, and the option of a 4mm or 8mm heel drop. This shoe also offered us 65% more cushioning than the GOrun Rides, so the perfect balance of stability and support, promoting a mid-foot strike.  These is also a super light-weight shoe, which really help when those extra km’s kick in!

k&k_lulu_skechers1

If that wasn’t great enough…  we were presented with the GOrun Ultra ‘Extreme’ edition!  This was a new concept for us, as they are an ‘all weather’ version of the Ultra. We were already familiar with the great fit and grip of the Ultra’s, so decided to test out the ‘Extreme’ model on the first real ‘snowy/slushy’ night-run here in Montreal.

In the past, we’ve had to be super careful with foot-strike and stride-length out on the slippery streets, as well as dodging cars and the various obstacles that go with urban running.  What surprised us was that these shoes offered amazing TRACTION!  They were also extremely stable, and have a breathable water-resistant membrane, which allowed for great air circulation, while keeping the slush and snow out!  We really loved the fit and feel and are looking forward to the winter runs ahead in the new ‘Extreme’s’…

Meanwhile, we’ll be giving our GOrun Ultra’s the big test down in Hawaii at the Ultraman!

If you have the opportunity, we suggest you try out one of the models in the Skechers Performance lineup – there seems to be something for everyone!

Happy Trails!

k&k_lulu_skechers2

Grand Canyon R2R2R – April 2014

“Every trips holds the potential to be life-changing, the most valuable stuff you can bring back home doesn’t always take up space in your luggage.”

2014 Grand Canyon R2R2R – by Katherine Calder-Becker & Kevin Becker

rrpic7

After two years of careful planning, research and preparation, we were ready to take on our biggest adventure to date – the ‘R2R2R– a double-crossing of the Grand Canyon (rim-to-rim-to-rim).

If you think about it in simple terms, the Canyon really only has ‘ two hills’ – so on paper it seems quite manageable.  Just run down the South Rim, across the Canyon, then up the North Rim – take a picture – then turn around, go back!  Easy, right?  Well… not so much.

The run consists of 47 miles (76km’s), depending on the route you take, and covers 22,000ft of elevation change – 11,000ft of vertical ascent. To break it down, the descent down the South Rim via the Bright Angel Trail drops 2,997ft in the first 4.8 miles on twisty switchbacks, and then continues down another 1,179ft over 4.7 miles, until you reach the Colorado River.  The next 8.6 miles is on an undulating section of the North Kaibab trail, winding up 1,919ft through the canyon to the Pump-house Ranger Station.  Once there, you face the final 5.4 mile 3,680ft ascent up the North Rim, over steep and rocky terrain, which completes the first half of the journey!  Once you reach the North Rim, it’s time to turn around and run back down, across the valley, and up the South Rim to complete the double-crossing.  Of course we chose the longest combination of trails – Bright Angel to North Kaibab and back – since we figured if it was going to be epic, it may as well be – EIPC!

If the distance and elevation aren’t enough of a challenge, you have to factor in the ‘altitude’ on both rims, limited water resources, no cell service and zero support within in the Canyon.  Basically, if you go in, you have to get yourself out!

Our journey began when we arrived at the South Rim of the Canyon late in the evening of Wednesday April 16, 2014 – staying in a cabin at the Bright Angel Lodge. We figured if we were right at the trail-head, we could run out the door and over the edge.  We had given ourselves a ‘buffer’ day, in case of inclement weather, but with the prime weather day looking like Thurs April 17th, we decided to take the plunge and run it the following morning. We had ‘pre-packed’ our favorite lululemon gear, as well as our tried and tested fuel source of Infinit nutrition. We had prepared everything at home in advance, so it was easy to quickly unpack and lay everything out in a matter of minutes. Since it was late, and the restaurants were closed we settled for snacking on nachos, humus and guacamole that night – not exactly an ideal supper, but at least it was salty carbs.

Before turning in, we figured we’d strap on our headlamps, find the trailhead, and peer over the edge. We quickly found the signage and headed down the first 100ft of the Bright Angel Trail. We stopped, turned off our headlamps and looked out into the darkness. We both experienced a very unfamiliar sensation – you could actually ‘feel’ the vastness.  There before us was a black hole – an abyss – with no sound, just a massive deep, dark, vacuous space that ‘felt’ like emptiness. Emotionally, it was very powerful, and we realized the enormity of what lay ahead. Luckily, our headlamps clearly lit the trail, which stood out in contrast to the darkness – we felt confident we could run it – all systems were GO!

We headed back to the cabin, set the alarm for 3am, and went to sleep. We were up before the alarm could even go off, ate breakfast, got dressed, loaded our hydration packs, and headed out the door.  It was 4am – here we go!

It was a dark night, with the tail-end of a full moon on the edge of the sky – we were surrounded by a myriad of stars. Temps were cool, but not cold. We set off down the Bright Angel trail and enjoyed the still quiet air – it was a motionless night and we descended into the darkness leaving the South Rim quickly behind – our primary thought – SAFETY FIRST!

As we snaked down the narrow, twisty switchbacks, we could ‘feel’ the wall of rock build up behind us. As we peered into the vast open darkness that lay ahead, we also looked up and back at the lights on the rim.

We continued down for the first 3 miles in darkness, and then as dawn was breaking, we could see Indian Gardens in the distance. By the time we reached the Tonto Plateau, our headlamps were off and we could easily see the trail.

01c78b1b57a5592269ea33edbc500c878228660505IMG_6075

It was striking to look back and up at the South Rim towering over our heads – seeing the terrain rise up behind us as we made our way further down. The color of the changing layers of rock was an indicator of the elevation, and reminded us how far down the millions of years of history in the Canyon we had travelled. We descended Devils Corkscrew, and knew the cheery feeling of light-hearted optimism we were experiencing, would be a distant memory on the return trip through this section.

rrpic15rrpic11

After running down 5,000ft in 9.5 miles, we reached the Silver Bridge at the Colorado River. The sun was beginning to rise, along with the temperature – so jackets and arm-warmers got packed away. We reached Bright Angel Campground, and Phantom Ranch as the hikers were rising for breakfast.  At this point, we re-loaded our hydration packs with water and Infinit, on the first of four planned refill-stops, and began the 14 mile, 6,000ft run up to the North Rim.

01d4d552b03f199022a11921a207271cb60199ba06

From Phantom Ranch, the trail took on a somewhat flatter profile for the next 8.6 miles making it easy to get a solid pace going on this section. There is a constant undulation of ups and downs, always gaining in elevation with each mile that passed. We headed into Box Canyon along the North Kaibab trail, and crisscrossed our way up Bright Angel Creek on a series of short foot-bridges. The walls through box Canyon rose up over-head giving us a sense of warmth and protection – like a security blanket, shaded from the sun. The trail then opened up and the air became more desert like heading up towards Cottonwood Camp. This is the hottest section of the trail as the Canyon walls are further back and there is no shelter from the sun. Once this far in, you finally catch a glimpse of the North Rim up and around to your left into Bright Angel Canyon, as you make your way to the Pump House Ranger Station. This was the location of our 2nd scheduled re-fill stop, at 18 miles into the journey. A quick stop and we were set to take on the final 5.4 mile climb up the North Rim.

rrpic12rrpic8

The terrain heading up to the North Rim is very steep and traverses a series of tight switchbacks. It’s impossible to see the trail up ahead, so looking back down after each mile goes by is the only way to gauge where you’ve been. Again, the multiple rock layers that make up the Canyon  reveal clues about distance and altitude.  There are also strategically placed geological trail placards along the way, noting the current rock formation you happened to be at. While informative and interesting, these reminders of how little distance you’ve actually gone, become unnerving – especially on the last 3 miles of the climb!

The summit of the North Rim in constantly coming in and out of view as you twist up and around the buttes and switchbacks so it’s impossible to put a visual ‘lock’ on your target. Your only marker of progress is a change in soil and rock colour, and the detailed placards that seem to scream at you as you ascend to yet another level!  Finally, you reach the white limestone that indicates the final ascent, but there’s still a mile to go to reach the top, and it’s pretty much straight up once you pass the Coconino outlook. Out of nowhere, the North Rim trailhead sign comes into view quickly, and before you know it, a rush of elation floods in as you realize you’ve made it!

IMG_6113

There’s not much waiting there though with the North Rim still closed to visitors until Mid-May, snow still on the ground, and no water resources at the trailhead. The only thing to do is take a picture, check the time, then turn around and head back down the face of the Canyon to the South Rim. From here, you can’t see it, or the valley floor for that matter, but you know exactly where they are – a long way down.  At this point, your body is tired and your mind has lost its edge, so the adventure takes on a more serious tone – SURVIVALISM!

01de99d4cd909706ce2631774ac99b2194115e05ee

We headed back down the steep switchbacks, being extra careful not to roll an ankle, or slip on loose rocks, and after a few hours of descending, we were back at the Pump House – refilling for the 3rd time. Our strategy was to keep moving with minimal breaks in order to keep the blood from pooling in our legs – so off we went as quickly as we could. As we headed back through Cottonwood, the temps were still up in the 90’s so the heat of the sun was still a factor. Kev happened to be leading on this section of the trail, and we suddenly came upon an adult male rattle snake in the middle of the trail – in full strike position! Luckily, Kev’s reaction time is faster than mine and he came to a skidding halt, yelled ‘snake’ and leap backwards! I ran to a halt, right into him! We waited as the snake slowly cleared the path and were back on our way, running at a quick pace down through Box Canyon.  At this point, we ran straight into snake encounter number 2 – there he was, right in the middle of the trail – WOAH! Onwards we go.

We reached Phantom Ranch and refuelled for the 4th and final time. At this point, the heat of the day, and the 12 hours of non-stop running was catching up with us. We knew we had to keep moving, so reloaded our packs and got going quickly.  The sun was still in the sky as we reached the Silver Bridge, but we knew the climb ahead would be a long one. The first section was runnable undulating terrain, then we started the steep ascent up through Devil’s Corkscrew and into Indian Gardens. We saw several baby scorpions along this section of the trail, and plenty of deer feeding on the trail-side vegetation. We pushed onwards and upwards to the 3 mile and 1.5 mile rest houses on the Bright Angel Trail – encountering a few bats along the way. At this point, my vision was beginning to do some odd things – at one point, I thought the dust from the trail was affecting my sight, but there was no dust. I also thought my sunglasses were still on, but they weren’t. At least we could see the South Rim towering up overhead – like a beacon, calling us home – that, and the cold beer that was waiting at the cabin!

We ascended to the top, utterly in awe of our accomplishment – 47 miles (76km’s) of non-stop running – in just under 15 hours.  Looking back down across the Canyon, we could now easily see where we had been and were thrilled that we had actually propelled ourselves down into this massive landscape, across and up the other side, then back!

rrpic1rrpic5

Looking back on the adventure was a reminder that the Canyon is a very hostile, unforgiving environment, with no room for errors. The sheer magnitude of this undertaking required careful preparation and training on our part. In training, we did several two-run per-day workouts, stair climbs on our beloved Mont Royal, and hours of hill repeats on Camillien-Houde.  We ran with our hydration packs and tested our Infinit nutrition, sweat-rates and hydration requirements.  We extensively tested our lululemon run gear and experimented with different fabrics and outfit combinations to get the comfort level just right.  We also spent a lot of time researching this run prior to going in and had meticulously mapped out our strategy and the trails in order not to fail.

Long before our journey began, we were well aware that this was a self-supported adventure that would require a great depth of mental toughness, as well as physical strength and experience.  Even then, we only realized the enormity of it when we stood on the edge, looked out and had no choice but to push all fear aside. From the moment we peered off into the darkness, right up until we had safely made our way up and out of the abyss, we knew that Mother Nature was in charge.

This was a journey that pushed us to the edge of our limits and scraped the bottoms of our souls.

You can view the photo gallery by visiting our website at : http://endurancetriathletes.com/photos.html

Wanderlust Mont Tremblant!…

We’re thrilled to have been invited to take part in the Wanderlust Festival this coming August in Tremblant!

This is a  unique mountaintop adventure of yoga, music and events celebrating mindful living with a community of yogis and artists from all over the world!

We’ll be hosting  some great runs each day, and invite you to come and join us on the mountains, down the paths, and through the woods from August 21 to August 24, 2014 – this will be AWESOME!

You can find more deets on our Wanderlust bio page HERE! …or on the Wanderlust Facebook Page HERE!

Hope to see you on the mountain!

wanderlust_bio

Self Massage = Injury Prevention + Free Speed

As athletes, we love getting a great massage prior to a big race to ensure we’ve gotten out all the kinks, but why wait until all the big training is in the bank to reward yourself? Why not do a little preventative and restorative work on your own, between massages, to keep tired muscles loose and moving! It’s a great way to prevent injury and keep tight and tired muscles supple during the build phases of your training plan.

Simply implement a few minutes of self massage a few times per week utilizing these three simple tools: a foam roller, massage stick and a tennis ball.

One minute rule – keep it short : Use your watch or iPhone to set a timer so that it beeps every minute – that’s all you need.

For the Feet – Tennis Ball:
Roll the ball under each foot for one minute. Apply enough pressure to feel out hot-spots or tension under the foot and gently roll back and forth.

For the Calves and Achillies tendon – Sport Stick :
We love this one, as you can apply focused pressure to deep knots in the calf’s and achilies tendon. Always roll from the bottom up to encourage circulation and blood flow to the muscles working on the calves and hamstrings for pin-pointed relief.

For the Quads – Foam Roller :
Bonus – this one will also give your upper body a bit of a workout! Lay the foam roller on the ground and using your upper body for balance and support, roll out your quad muscles from bottom to top!

For the IT bands – Foam Roller :
Same as for the Quads, your upper body can help support your weight while you work the IT Bands – trust us, this one is not only self-massage, but a workout at the same time!

For the Hamstrings – Foam Roller and Sport Stick :
We like to mix up a combination here, using both the Sport Stick for specific knots and the foam roller for the overall muscle.

For the Glutes – Foam Roller and Tennis Ball:
This is a great combo to roll out the hips and lower back across the foam roller, then get specific and pinpoint problem areas and knots deep within the glute muscles.

Make sure you take the time to breathe while doing these self-massage exercises. It’s normal to tend to hold your breath while engaged, so remember to simply breathe throughout the process. It usually takes about 2 days to feel the effects of self-massage, so if you implement this as part of your regular routine, you’ll find your muscles will loosen and range of motion will improve over time if you make this a regular part of our exercise routine!

20140330-104934.jpg

Tunisian Vegetable Stew

Since Winter is dragging it’s heels, we figured a fresh veggie stew was in order on a cold winter night! Enjoy this vegetarian delight!

1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage
salt to taste
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 cup fresh chopped tomatoes
1 (16 ounce) can chickpeas, drained
3/4 cup veggie stock
1/3 cup currants or 1/3 cup raisins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
grated feta cheese

Directions:
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onions for 5 minutes or until softened.

Add the cabbage and salt to taste; saute at least 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add in the bell pepper, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne and other spices; stir and saute for 1 minute or so.

Add in the tomatoes, veggie stock, chick peas, and currants/raisins; stir to combine and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until vegetables are just tender.

Add lemon juice and salt to taste; stir.

Serve over rice, bulgur or couscous, finish roasted almonds & with feta cheese.

20140303-202459.jpg

Green Smoothie Goodness!

Kev loves to make fresh juices every morning, and also whips up some great smoothie creations as well.  This is one of his latest ‘pre/post’ workout fav’s, which is light & fresh and packed full of vitamins and nutrients!

1 cup Almond Milk – unsweetened
1/2 cup cold water
2 pears
1 banana
handful of spinach
handful of kale
3 ice cubes
dash of cinnamon

Chop the fruit and put it in a blender with the liquid ingredients.  Whizz at ‘liquefy’ for 2 minutes, then add in the spinach, kale and ice cubes and whizz again for a minute or two.  Finish with a few dashes of cinnamon and ENJOY!

*You can substitute the pear for oranges (peeled of course), and omit the cinnamon if you wish.  Also, if you don’t have both spinach and kale, you can simply use one or the other.

20140214-161715.jpg