I’ll admit I’ve struggled with my veganism lately. I lost my way for a little there but luckily had an amazing experience this weekend that got me back on track. I participated in the Vegan Power Ultra 50k/25k trail race in Pittsfield, MA. I went with the 25k and have never had so much fun doing a race before. The environment was nothing but happy, healthy, and incredibly fun.
When I originally signed up for the race I honestly had no idea what to expect. I was excited about the idea of a vegan run trail race. Essentially it was the combination of my favorite things. However, I had no idea it would be such an unbelievable event.
I knew it was going to be an amazing day when I rode up in my car got out and met a wonderful woman. We were both doing the 25k and had no idea where to go. Then, like a little gift from above a hysterical, extremely friendly man nicknamed Mushroom (he later explained his nickname is because he’s a fun guy, get it?) came to shuttle us out to the race start. Within that three-minute shuttle ride I laughed nonstop. It was the perfect start to the perfect day.
The race itself was a dream. It was fairly technical including your standard roots and rocks but also crazy mud pits. It was exhausting and awesome all rolled into one. The route was a 5-mile loop (give or take) that I went around 3 times. It had awesome hills and beautiful views. During the race not only did every runner support each other we were our very own cheering squad! Everyone congratulated one another while we passed each other. It was like we were all in it together. It was such an epic life high. This race felt more like a community than a race. Post race there was incredible food. There was unreal vegan pizza, smoothies, and tons of other vegan treats. I actually ended up ordering more of the vegan pizza once I got back to my hotel it was so delicious. Here’s a link to the pizza place if any of you are interested in checking it out!
The funniest part about the entire day was how long we stayed just chatting about running and veganism once we were done racing. I definitely have never hung out post race for that long or had such awesome conversations. I was very open and honest about my recent struggles with being 100% vegan. I definitely let myself slide and was eating pizza and chocolate occasionally. Granted, I do truly believe as long as you do your best regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish you’ll have a positive outcome. I am really committed to being vegan and I’m thrilled I attended this race so I could hear input from people who had been vegan for 20+ years. With their help I was able to regain my focus and immediately hit up the grocery store when I got home. Needless to say my cabinets and fridge are filled with some of the best vegan treats around. I managed to find vegan cookies, chocolate, vegan tikka masala, and plenty more. At the end of this blog post I’ll shoot out some brand names so you can find them at your local grocery store too. I think what really hit home for me was when a member of Direct Action Everywhere (look into it, it’s bad ass) said, “Is anyone here a lonely vegan?” Hands shot up everywhere. That’s when I knew I wasn’t alone. There were other people going through the same things as me and it really wasn’t an excuse to trip up and cave into old habits so quickly. It was so comforting to know that other people struggled with eating out with friends and attending events where food was already prepared. As I mentioned in my previous post being vegan is not easy, it’s a process but it’s totally rewarding.
I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you to everyone who put on this race. It’s absolutely brilliant and I’ve never felt more at home somewhere. You’re all absolutely amazing and this was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m so excited to take my private tour of Catskill Animal Sanctuary and read the books I received as a prize. Bring on the animals; I’m ready to cuddle!
So I’ll close this blog post by simply saying thank you. A thousand times thank you. You somehow managed to combine amazing people, incredible vegan food, a great cause, and trail running in one beautiful location. I won’t soon forget this race and I can’t wait to run it again for many years to come.
I’d like to preface my grocery list by saying I did go to two different grocery stores to find these products. I’ve found that if you’re really looking for quality vegan food it’s worth traveling a bit. I went to Star Market and Trader Joe’s for this particular trip. Also, some of the people I met there introduced me to http://www.happycow.net/ it’s an amazing website that lets you know what vegan restaurants are near you. There’s also an app that I just downloaded today. I’ve already found 3 vegan restaurants in Boston I had no idea existed! Check it out.
-Trader Joe’s Vegan Cream Cheese (thank you to the girl who told me about this)
-Trader Joe’s Vegan Tikka Masala
-Trader Joe’s Trail Mix
-Enjoy Life Gluten Free Ricemilk Crunch boomchocoboom Bar (AMAZING)
-Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Bears
-Trader Joe’s Sour Gummies T’s & J’s
-Home Free Mini Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies (These taste like normal cookies I couldn’t believe they’re vegan)
-Late July Organic Mini Peanut Butter Bite Size Sandwich Crackers
-Tofutti Your Truly Ice Cream Cones
-Tofutti Marry Me Dessert Bars
-Soy Boy Original Ravioli
-Annie’s Naturals Lite Goddess Salad Dressing
This list just goes to show that you can replace all your comfort foods with vegan comfort foods. It’s unreal how many dairy free substitutes are available today. Hell I think some of it even tastes better, and lord knows you feel better after eating it.
*The picture above was seen on my drive to Pittsfield, MA. I stopped my car and pulled off just to take a picture. It was totally breathtaking. The whole ride was one incredible sunset.*