Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Race Recap: Big Buffalo 50K

I ran my second official 50K race last Saturday (but it was my third time running the 50K distance since I did it once virtually last year!). And not only was it my second 50K race, it was my second in a month's time. I typically don't plan long races this close together, but pandemic race rescheduling has led to a bunch of long-distance stuff being bunched together for everyone! Oh well! What can do you do but run it anyway?

After my last 50K — the Stanky Creek 50K on September 18 — I took a five days off of running and then took it easy for a few days with a few short runs, and then I jumped back into the end of a 50K training plan. So I was ready to run on Saturday morning! I started my day with coffee and a pumpkin spice bagel with vegan cream cheese, and then I packed up my car for the race and headed to Shelby Farms Park.

My pre-race photo before the 8 am start!

The Big Buffalo 50K was supposed to happen in March 2020, but the pandemic hit Memphis the week before, and the race was canceled. I was super-bummed since I'd trained for months for this race, so I went out to Shelby Farms on "race day" and ran the course by myself. The race this Saturday was the rescheduled Big Buffalo 50, so it was a long time coming. 

The course was a 10K loop around Shelby Farms that was part-paved, part-trail, and mostly open field. For the 50K, you had to run five loops. There was also a 50-mile race (that started at 6am) with eight loops. And there was a 50K relay, which involved teams that set up tents and basically partied while their teammates ran the 10K loop. That looked way fun, and I think I'd like to do that last year! 

My friend Amy did the relay with her friends.

The worst part was the lake around the dog park section, which was angled and had high grass. It was tough to run. Here I am on that section. But at least we were in the dog park, so there were lots of cute dogs around. At one point, I saw a three-legged dog catch a ball, and I teared up. I get a little emotional when running long distances.

The lap around this lake was the worst part.

The best section was the mile that went through the Tour de Wolf Trail. This section was shady and lovely! But it only made up about five miles of the 31-mile course. Well, they said it was 31 miles, but my Garmin said 32.8, and most of my friends' watches said something similar.

My favorite section on the shady Tour de Wolf trail

I carried my Plant Bites (made from dried fruit) and Muir Energy Gels (made with molasses and nut butters) in my hydration pack, along with LMNT electrolyte water and a full hydropak of water. I also stashed some almond butter & dandelion jelly sandwiches in a big plastic tub near the start/finish area. You came through that area after every loop, so people sat up chairs and tents with their drop bags and any items they might need during the race. It was nice to have a home base to pass by every loop.

There were lots of aid stations along the course with fruit and candy. The main aid station near the start/finish had the largest selection of snacks, plus mini smoothies from Smoothie King. I grabbed one of these after every lap. The cold, sweet fruit was so hydrating on this hot, sunny day!

I was hoping for pickles and coke at the aid stations, but I was out of luck. My sweet snacks started to taste gross to me, and I was craving salt. I always crave salt during long runs. I did score a bag of plain potato chips at the main aid station, and that was just what I needed going into the fifth and final lap. 

My friend Karla did the relay.

It felt so great to cross the finish line, and hear the announcer say "Bianca Phillips, 50k finisher!" And my time was almost a full hour faster than my last 50K time. That said, it was much flatter course and not nearly as technical. But still, I'll call it a PR! 

Another medal to add to my collection! Next up, I'm running the Nashville Rock & Roll Marathon on November 20!

Coach Kevin from Can't Stop Endurance was near the finish line, and he offered me a beer. And then I used my free beer token from the race for another from a beer food truck. The race had several food trucks onsite, but the only vegan-friendly food truck — El Mero Taco — had to leave early, so there wasn't any food for me. But beer was fine! And I snacked on some Protein Plant Bites on the drive home.

After the race, I enjoyed my beer with my friends Peter, his girlfriend, and his friend Allen

I would love to tell you that I ate something ridiculous and decadent after the race. I really wanted to drive out to Da Guilty Vegan food truck that was parked in Midtown that day. But I just didn't have the energy, so I popped a Daiya Meatless Meat Lover's Pizza in the oven and settled into my recliner. 

Monday, October 25, 2021

What I Ate the Day Before My 50K!

I ran another 50K this past Saturday, and spoiler alert, it went great! I plan to post a race recap tomorrow when I have more time. But I've only got time for a quick post tonight, so I wanted to share a rundown of what I ate the day before my race. 

I start really focusing on my nutrition two weeks prior to any long-distance race. Two weeks before, I try to just make sure I'm hydrating well and eating lots of healthy, complex carbs. And then one week before, I start focusing on limiting sugar and alcohol and getting the majority of my carbs from roots and fruits. And then the day before the race, I try to limit fiber while still maintaining a heavy carb load. Too much fiber the day before a race can cause GI issues, and that's the last thing you want out on the trail. 

I started Friday morning with a blueberry-mango-banana smoothie with flax, spinach, and walnuts. It was early, and I forgot to take a picture. But I didn't add protein powder since I didn't do much of a workout Friday morning (just a 2-mile shakeout run). Later in the morning, I had this Wicked Foods Very Berry Porridge with oat flakes and barley at my desk. I'm loving the new stuff from Wicked Foods (the company from vegan chefs Chad and Derek Sarno)! I added fresh blackberries to this.

For lunch the day before a race, I almost always have an Amy's frozen burrito. This was an Amy's Bean & Cheeze Burrito with brown rice, and I topped it with a little Kite Hill queso and Tofutti sour cream. Plus, some air-fried potatoes on the side. Yay carbs! The beans provide a little fiber, but it's not like a full-on salad. These frozen burritos are just easy on my stomach, and that's what I want the day before a race.

I also always try to front load a lot of electrolytes the day before a race, so I enjoyed this Harmless Harvest Coconut Water at my desk. This stuff isn't cheap, but it's fair trade and has no added sugars (many coconut waters have some added sugar). It was worth it to splurge on the good stuff for pre-race day!

And finally, here's my standard, pre-race dinner — Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Mushrooms and Sourdough Garlic Bread! Pasta just works! I know I can eat this meal the night before a race with no GI issues, and it's loaded with carbs. Paul always enjoys my pre-long run and pre-race nights too because spaghetti night is his fave. 

I typically have one drink the night before a race to calm the nerves. This time, it was a glass of red wine with my pasta. And then it was an early bedtime! I'll be back tomorrow with a race recap!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Burgers & Breakfast Sandwiches!

I've been craving a wholesome, homemade veggie burger lately, so I flipped through the recipes in The Plant-Based Athlete book and selected a Black Bean Veggie Burger (contributed by ultrarunner and Vega founder Brenden Brazier) that's made with black beans, rolled oats, vegan cheddar shreds, and brown rice. As much as I love a meaty burger, sometimes I crave a squishy homemade patty. This one hit the spot! Paul made us some air-fried fries on the side.

One day last week, I grabbed Farm Burger's Superfood Salad (topped with their homemade veggie patty) to go for lunch. They offer this kale salad with either their homemade quinoa and sweet potato patty or a Beyond patty. It's good both ways, but I was feeling healthy. I love the fried chickpeas on this salad!

I've also been eating lots of breakfast sandwiches lately! Lulu's is doing Wednesday morning breakfast pop-ups at Boycott Coffee downtown for all of October, so that's my new Wednesday morning routine. Here's this Wednesday's sando with tofu egg, sauteed butternut and mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, and cashew cheese on their homemade bun. With a Boyott oatmilk latte. What a perfect morning treat!

And finally, here's a made-at-home breakfast sandwich on a locally made Dave's whole wheat bagel. Stuffed with Nabati Plant Eggz, tempeh bacon, microgreens, and Tofutti cream cheese. YUM!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

My 41st Birthday: Part Two!

And I'm back with the rest of my 41st birthday recap! Yesterday, I blogged about my family birthday with my parents on Friday night and Saturday morning. They just moved to Cherokee Village, Arkansas, so I spent the night at their new place. And then after breakfast on Saturday, I headed back to Memphis for my celebration with friends! 

I got back just a bit before my BFF Sheridan and her partner Drew arrived! They live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and came up to spend the night and hang for my birthday. We had dinner plans, but we had some time to kill. So we headed to Crosstown Concourse for a big, free Day of the Dead celebration! It's an event that Concourse puts on every year with dancing, live music, and altars to commemorate those who have passed.

We stayed there for about 45 minutes, and then we caught an Uber to head downtown to Good Fortune Co. for dinner. Good Fortune is a new vegan-friendly ramen shop, and we were excited to try it! When we arrived, a bunch of my friends were already there. We got a nice spot on the patio. 

It was a cool night (sweater weather!), so I started with a Hot Sake.

And then the owner came out and asked me if I was the birthday girl. When I said yes, he handed me this beautiful (and tasty) Lemongrass Mojito!

For starters, I had the Impossible Wontons — delicate handmade wontons stuffed with Impossible burger and served in a savory broth with scallions. THESE WERE AMAZING. I can't stop thinking about them.

For my main dish, I had the Tan Tan Ramen. This vegan ramen dish features soft wheat noodles, umami broth, bok choy, and more of that tasty Impossible beef. I've had a lot of ramen in my day, and that was by far the best ramen bowl of my life. 

What a perfect dinner! Paul had to work for most of my birthday (the day before and the day of), but he got off work just in time to meet us for drinks at Loflin Yard! Most of my friends from dinner met us there, and a bunch more friends showed up. After a year of very little social interaction, it was so amazing to have so many friends in one place. 

Loflin is an outdoor bar, so it was nice that everyone could feel safe and hang out, and since it was chilly, we were able to build a fire. They typically have someone who works there tend the fires, but they weren't doing fires that night. So we foraged for wood and lit our own fire (and somehow managed to not get kicked out). I'm so grateful for my amazing friends and my awesome family! What a perfect birthday!

Monday, October 18, 2021

My 41st Birthday: Part 1!

I turned 41 on Saturday! And I had a fantastic birthday weekend! I'm breaking this into two posts because there are just so many fun things to share. My celebration started on Friday (which I took off work) with a visit to my parents' new house in Cherokee Village, Arkansas. 

I got to my parents' house just in time for dinner. Cherokee Village is a lot smaller than Jonesboro, the town I grew up in, so they don't have many restaurants. But there are a few restaurants in nearby Ash Flat, including a Mexican place and a Thai place. We decided on a Mexican restaurant called El Palenque because they had a vegetarian menu with a Veggie Fajita dish. We assumed we'd be ordering margaritas, but to our surprise, they don't serve alcohol! But that was okay. The fajitas were awesome (SO MANY VEGGIES!), and they served us the largest-ever bowl of guac.

After dinner, we went back to my parents' house for presents and cake. But first, my dad made us some margaritas. They have a "bar room" in their new house, so we sat at the bar for a pic. My mom made the Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake pictured above, and my parents got me a new Garmin Forerunner 745 running watch!

I went to bed around 10 pm, because I wanted to get up early for a birthday run to test my new watch. I got up around 6 am and had this No Cow Birthday Cake protein bar and coffee before heading out in their new neighborhood.

I'm not used to hills because Memphis is very, very flat. But they have lots of hills in Northern Arkansas! This was a very tough 8-miler!

After my run, I did a little birthday Yoga with Adriene video outside by the lake behind their house. What a perfect view for my yoga practice!

While I did yoga, my mom made a Vegan Breakfast Casserole with biscuits, Just Egg, vegan cheese, and gravy, which we enjoyed with hash browns and mimosas.

We took a quick family selfie, and then it was time for me to head back to Memphis to meet up with friends for my birthday party. More on that tomorrow! What a perfect birthday! My parents the best!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Tacos! Tostadas! Nachos! Quesadillas!

I've been on a bit of a taco kick lately! I'm always behind on reading my magazines, so I'm still working my way through the VegNews Summer of Tacos issue, and the recipes have had me all inspired. Last week, I made the Migas Breakfast Tacos with Nabati Plant Eggz (cooked with crumbled tortilla chips, salsa, and vegan cheese) and tempeh bacon. There's really no better breakfast than tacos!

I also made the Oaxacan Black Beans recipe from that VegNews issue. These slow-cooked, refried black beans are seasoned with epazote, and the recipe recommends topping them with a homemade tofu queso freso (that recipe was also in the magazine). I enjoyed the beans and "cheese" in tacos.

And on crispy tostadas!

And atop nachos with lots of other toppings! This was more like nacho salad. I used some Kite Hill queso for melted cheese on these. These nachos were fire!

And finally, I had the last of the beans in a vegan quesadilla with Nabati cheddar shreds and mushrooms and topped with all kinds of toppings (including the last of that tofu queso fresco). I had more of that delicious Kite Hill queso with chips on the side. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

BBQ, Burgers, Wings, & Donuts

Who says you have to give up the good stuff to go vegan?! Today's post is full of recent meals that would make any omni want to go plant-based! Last Tuesday, I went to a National Night Out potluck in my Crosstown neighborhood (a potluck!! I am so glad those are back!!). I'm on the Crosstown Memphis CDC board of directors, and we hosted this outdoor event at Crosstown Brewing. The treasurer was bringing pork BBQ, so I made some slow-cooked Jackfruit BBQ and Vegan Coleslaw. It was a hit!! And I think I was the only vegan there! I had enough left to make one leftover sandwich on a Lulu's bun for lunch the next day.

On Sunday, Paul and I grilled the Wicked Kitchen Jalapeno Burgers. WOW! These were amazing. The "meat" was very similar to Beyond, but the burgers were loaded with finely chopped green jalapenos. They weren't very spicy, but the flavor was fantastic! I will absolutely buy these again.

Speaking of jalapenos, here's a Tomato Jalapeno Scone from Lulu's at the Cooper-Young Farmers Market. Had this as a pre-run snack on Sunday. 

Last Thursday, I met some friends at Slider Inn for a late night meal of Vegan Tofu & Cauliflower Wings & Fries (and beers!). This is not a great photo since we sat outside on the dark patio. But trust me: These wings are fire! The yellow-looking dip is vegan ranch, and it is actually white and delicious. The lighting was just really bad. 

And finally, here's a Vegan Classic Glazed Donut from Darling Donuts Memphis. Lily of Darling Donuts sells her donuts at French Truck Coffee on Mondays. I grabbed one to enjoy with some raspberry leaf tea as a mid-morning snack. 

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Reubens, Legumes, & Spaghetti (AGAIN!)

Last Sunday, Backlot Sandwich Shop offered their Vegan Reuben on special again. I've blogged about this sandwich before, but it's just SO GOOD. Chef Kyle makes the "corned beef" with roasted and smoked celeriac root, and it's also got a homemade red kraut and vegan cheese. This is by far the best sandwich in Memphis. Kyle says they'll be offering it most Sundays now! They're also offering the Roasted Brussels Sprouts side without bacon now (yay!).

I'm all about that legume life! Here's a recent soup of Lentil Soup made with potatoes, spinach, and carrots. Paul requested lentils for dinner, and he likes potatoes in his lentil soup. So that's what we did. It was good, and we have so much leftover!

One day last week, I needed a quick desk lunch, so I brought some TastyBite Bombay Potatoes (with chickpeas) and TastyBite Jasmine Rice — both in microwavable packages. I added a little hing for extra flair!

And here's another plate of Spaghetti & Mushrooms (my standard Friday night dinner) — perfect carb-loading for last Saturday's 22-mile training run. I'm training for another 50K on Oct. 23! We didn't have any fresh mushrooms, but I always keep some canned mushrooms on-hand. And I had some frozen broccoli and cauliflower on the side. This was right before grocery day, so frozen and canned had to do!

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Product Feature: Doughp's Vegan Legit Cookie Dough

Let's be real — one of the greatest things about being vegan is being able to eat the cookie dough straight from the mixing bowl without worrying about salmonella. And let's also be honest and say that cookie dough is greater than actual cookies. Well, there's a new vegan-friendly cookie dough in town, and it's packed in an ice cream pint for maximum spoon scoopage. 

Doughp Legit Cookie Dough has released a vegan flavor — Avocadough Brownie! Like all the Doughp flavors, the new vegan dough is made with just a few real-food ingredients: avocado puree, brown sugar, flour, dutch cocoa, flaxseed, salt, vanilla, and baking powder.

When my dough arrived (a gracious sample from the folks at Doughp!), I dug straight in with a spoon and was blown away with fudgey flavor. The avocado adds a richness without effecting the taste. It just tastes like eating the tastiest brownie batter with a spoon.

Although Doughp is designed for eating straight from the pint, you can also bake it into cookies if you feel so inclined. I decided to give that a try! The cookies come out very soft, almost like little brownie bites. 

On the side of the pint, they suggest half-baking the cookies and serving them over ice cream. So I had to try that as well! I baked some more cookies for only 8 minutes instead of the 11 minutes that I baked the first batch for. They came out a little gooier, which was perfect for topping a double-scoop of Doozy Pots Coffee Gelato and Ben & Jerry's dairy-free Netflix & Chill'd. The warm cookies melted the icy cream just a bit, and it tasted like a hug in my mouth.

Doughp makes a bunch of other flavors, but so far, the Avocadough Brownie is the only vegan one. I hope they release more because this stuff is legit good!!

Doughp isn't just awesome cookie dough though! They also have a great mission. The founder, Kelsey, is in recovery from alcohol addiction, so they donate a portion of every sale to the SHE RECOVERS® Foundation. SHE RECOVERS is a non-profit charity with a mission to connect, support and empower women in or seeking recovery. They also offer mental health days to their staff! Very cool!