Here we go – Rob Krar Ultra Camp 

Today started with a 3:30 am wake up call. I’m big on showering before flying so that was my own doing. However, the result is the snooze monster depicted below.  

I honestly can’t even put into words the emotions swirling around my noggin. Mostly positive, mostly things like “this will be an experience of a lifetime.” On the other hand I do have those creeping nervous thoughts like “what if I’m not fast enough?” I’m trying to shut those negative nancy thoughts down as soon as they crop up.

I think my discomfort comes because I’ve never done anything quite like this in my life. Sure I’ve attended more field hockey camps than I can count and am pretty proud at my overall success in the sport both collegiately and internationally. However, running is a whole new ball game for me. I’m new, I’m excited and extremely dedicated, but I also have a ton to learn. I realize that now more than ever. I can’t wait to hear what these amazing The North Face athletes have to share. It’s going to be nothing short of unreal. 

I’ll keep this update short because I know there’s plenty more to come this week once we truly dive into things. As for now I’ll go enjoy my airplane cocktail and snooze a little. I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! 

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Vegan Power Ultra 50k/25k 2015

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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!

http://babalouiespizza.com/

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!

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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)

-Inner Peas

-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.*

The Real Vegan Me

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I want to begin by apologizing for not having posted in so long. I have been 100% focused on my career, my fitness, and squeezing in time for fun along the way. So far it’s been an incredible journey. I won my first race (women’s division), which was an unbelievable feeling. I cut 7 minutes off my half marathon time and all in all I’m pretty jazzed about what’s in my future. I wanted to kick off my return to blogging by being extremely blunt and honest.

I have been driven insane by all the articles, videos, and images that depict veganism as being easy. It’s not easy, like anything worth having it’s hard work. But, it’s also extremely rewarding.

Do I think it’s easy to find dairy alternatives today? Yes. Do I think everyone should be vegan not only for animal rights but also for the planet? Yes. Do I get a white-hot rage every time I see a suffering animal thanks to people who work in dairy farms? Absolutely. Finally, do I think people need to be more honest about the road to being vegan? A million times yes.

Deciding to be vegan is a scary but exciting day. It’s the day you decided I want to help safe the earth and I’m all set with the cow milk. It’s also the day you start noticing the crazy amounts of vegan propaganda that make it seem like a gluten-free, dairy-free piece of cake to become 100% vegan. The reason I’m writing about this particular topic is not to belittle any of those campaigns. Rather, it’s to let people know it’s not impossible. I think by encouraging those articles we have made veganism this unreachable goal.

As people we aren’t fans of change. It’s deep in our bones and that’s fine. It’s who we are and we like some routine in our lives. It’s not shocking that completely changing you entire diet might be a bit of a challenge. It becomes a little scary when you start reading labels and realize just how much of our food comes from dairy products. It’s hard, and it’s a learning process. I think allowing people to find freedom within the vegan structure would make the transition easier. It’s all about trying things and seeing what tastes good. I’ve spent hours slaving over a vegan meal only to discover it’s absolutely repulsive. It’s not a walk in the park but it’s also not impossible. I think being allowed to be more open about our journey with veganism and keeping track of the things we do cut out of our diet would allow for more people to test out the waters.

To keep it simple, don’t be afraid to try being a vegan or even just a vegetarian. There is no wrong way to help the planet!

Vegan Chocolate Peanut-butter Mousse?!?!

Today I am doing a little foodi celeb post. My beautiful coworker Sierra Hofstatter graciously allowed me to use her Vegan Chocolate Peanut-butter Mousse recipe on my blog. Check out her website. She has completed both Health Coach Training and Resistance Flexibility Training. I have a feeling this girl is going to be helping a ton of people in the future so check out her information now! :

http://sierra-hofstatter.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/

So I’ll let Sierra show you the ropes on how to make this delicious treat!

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Organic Chocolate Peanut-Butter Mousse (Raw, Vegan, and No Refined Sugar)

Hey all! We all love dessert. No question about it. And if you’re like me, making your own dessert feels much better than buying one that has refined sugar and oils.

This recipe is not perfect (I’ve only made it once, and I used no recipe) but it turned out DELICIOUSLY so I had to share it.

Recipe:
-1 cup organic pitted dates
-1-1 1⁄2 cup fresh organic, raw almond meal *(see instructions below– if this option is not available, packaged organic almond or cashew meal will do just fine)*
-1/3 cup organic peanut butter (Most peanut butter is made from roasted peanuts, but you can find raw if you really want to. If you are allergic to peanuts, use almond butter!)
-2⁄3 cup melted unrefined coconut oil
-2tsp Grade B organic maple syrup
-1 1 1⁄2 tbsp raw cacao powder
-1⁄2 cup organic pecans (​optional)*
-1 tbsp chia seeds (​optional)*

Instructions:
-Roughly chop the dates and place them in a food processor (I used a ninja). Pulse a few times, until they are pretty cut up.
-Add 1⁄2 cup of almond meal, coconut oil, maple syrup and peanut butter. Pulse until somewhat smooth.
-Add the rest of the almond meal, cacao powder and optional ingredients (nuts and chia seeds)
-Pulse or blend until all ingredients are mixed. If it is hard to blend, add more coconut oil. I even added some of my fresh almond milk to help blend!

*​Fresh Almond Meal:
The almond meal comes from making fresh almond milk:

-Add 11⁄2 cup of raw almonds to a blender and add 6 cups of water. Blend for 30 seconds to a minute. Strain the liquid through a nut milk bag into a large bowl, squeezing excess liquid from the bag when necessary. The fresh almond meal is what’s left over in the nut milk bag! To complete the almond milk, put the strained milk back in the blender with some cinnamon, salt and vanilla extract if you’d like, blend for a few seconds, and pour into a jar!

I hope to have Sierra post more going forward. I’ve seen her many lunches on a regular basis and they’re always spectacular. She definitely has a lot of knowledge in regards to not just cooking, but cooking delicious AND healthy. So huge thank you to Sierra for this divine recipe!

Stay hungry! Xoxo

Yoga Reaches Out – New England

I wasn’t planning on posting tonight. I have been focusing on living in the present and so many amazing things have been happening that I’ve been doing my best to stay off my computer. It’s involved a lot of reflection inward and grasping what it truly is that I want and what I need out of life. Today was a step in the right direction and completely eye opening.

As some of you may know I have a team called One Love for Yoga Reaches Out New England Yogathon. The yogathon is a massive event held at Gillette stadium on April 26th to raise money for Boston Children’s Hospital and Ben Speaks. I was originally excited to be involved in such a project merely because I love giving back and I love yoga, win win! However, after attending my first planning committee meeting I was able to see that there is SO much more to this event.

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When I first arrived at Boston Children’s Hospital this morning I was greeted by amazing women who were involved with yoga and fundraising in so many different ways. It was truly a gift to hear their stories and what led them to Yoga Reaches Out. I was so happy I took the time to attend the meeting and hear the stories of these fantastic people, but it didn’t stop there. Once the meeting started we dove right into event planning which was a tad out of my wheelhouse but was great to listen and absorb as much information as possible. It’s absolutely mind blowing the amount of logistics go into an event of this magnitude. However, it was what came next that truly inspired me.

Dr. Scott Pomeroy and Dr. Charles Roberts gave us the rundown of the exciting new developments in not only understanding cancer but finding a way to kick its ass. They both spoke about Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors or AT/RT. It’s a rare but extremely aggressive brain cancer that primarily effects infants. Both doctors were able to break down the research they were doing and how fundamental fundraising is for them to continue their research. I couldn’t help but feel excited by the prospects of children and parents no longer feeling trapped and hopeless. The doctor’s were genuinely fired up; it was like seeing a runner right before a huge race that they had been training for all their lives. These doctors are nothing short of passionate and it was impossible to not feed off their energy. My next post will have more details about their work. I’m not comfortable attempting to summarize their presentations without the facts. Luckily, they’ll be sending along information in layman’s terms so I will absolutely add that to the blog later on.

Once the doctor’s had given their speeches I was mind blown yet again when a couple, Cameron and Aileen Routh, told their story of the daughter they had lost to AT/RT. Now they are doing absolutely incredible work to help find a cure for AT/RT in memory of their beautiful daughter Avalanna. I have never been so overwhelmed with emotions. The excitement from the doctors, the sadness for the strong couple that sat before me telling their story, and finally the push to do more and fundraise more.

The meeting ended with an exciting opportunity to tour part of the hospital. They had renovated a huge portion of the hospital to make it more kid friendly. It was amazing. They had beautiful fish tanks and large interactive TV screens for children to feel more comfortable. It was small things that really showed how much care and effort is put into every aspect of the building. The stairs were musical so as you climbed up to the second floor you could hear sounds pouring from the speakers. Even as an adult I was jazzed! The tour guide spoke of all the events they have in the hospital and how even if a child is too sick to actually attend the event everything is live streamed to their televisions in their rooms.

It was impossible not to notice the care and thought that was put into every corridor of this hospital. They hung art that was made by patients and told us they regularly change the artwork so the parents and children don’t find the halls monotonous. There is even a family center where people can stay when they have to drop everything and come to the hospital. This includes computers, televisions, private rooms, yoga and meditation, and a full library not only for leisurely reading but also so parents could research their children’s ailments and find comfort in new knowledge. There is also an international center where people can speak to someone who knows and understands their language. The workers in this office know up to 72 languages! It’s just amazing the attention to detail found throughout the entire building.

I realize this post has nothing to do with being vegan and nothing to do with ultra running but it was something I couldn’t help but share. Today was extremely impactful and eye opening. I personally don’t know any children with cancer but I have had relatives pass away from the disease. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to go through that process with a child. These kids and parents are the strongest people in the world. They make me want to be better and do better.

Below is a link for my team One Love who is currently fundraising for Yoga Reaches Out. Please feel free to donate, and if not I appreciate you reading my words. There’s no way for me to describe the experience I had today but I promise you it was eye opening on so many different levels.

http://yogathon.yogareachesout.org/site/TR/Yogathon/General?team_id=1280&pg=team&fr_id=1050

Happy Sunday!

Hello Hello!

Sorry for the week off from blogging. I was focusing on working/working out and getting my life in order. Needless to say, it worked! I had a great week at work and am feeling extremely good.

Today I went to REI and got some awesome gear for trail running. My new favorite gadget is the Garmin Forerunner 220. It’s seriously lightweight but still had key features that are great for longer runs. Plus being able to see everything on Garmin Connect is pretty cool as well. Here’s what today’s run looked like :

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I went on my first outdoor run, besides the November Project, since this crazy Boston winter hit. It was epic. I rocked a no music run and it was fantastic. I may never need music again, besides the occasional treadmill run.

I wish I had more exciting news for you guys! Then again I do have some awesome vegan news. Some of my coworkers are giving it a try and I’m TOTALLY stoked for them! Here’s a list of my favorite vegan items that are pretty good replacements for the “real” thing aka dairy.

Milk – So Delicious Coconut Milk

Yogurt – So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk Yogurt (I love the strawberry banana, strawberry, and blueberry.)

Cheese – Daiya is decent but there are some better options that are higher in price

Pizza – American Flatbread Vegan Harvest … AMAZING

Cream Cheese – Tofutti Cream Cheese

Ice Cream – If you’re in Boston Fomu is the place to go if not; Yours Truly by Tofutti or So Delicious Coconut Milk Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate – Enjoy Life Boom Choco Boom Gluten Free Ricemilk Crunch

I think that pretty much covers the things I constantly crave. In regards to meat products any Gardein, Quorn, or Morningstar Farms is pretty great. If you have any other questions please feel free to shoot me a comment!

Alas, it is time for me to sleep. I’ll be posting again shortly! Xoxo.

-KS

Friday My Day

I have written and deleted about 4 rough drafts for this post. I’m exhausted and am going to keep this short and sweet. I am currently involved with Yoga Reaches Out, which is an absolutely amazing community.

It is our mission to bring the yoga community together to create seva (selfless service). Through the gift of yoga, Yoga Reaches Out focuses on raising funds for organizations that impact the health, education, and well-being of children.

This quote was pulled directly from their website. I’m involved with their event planning committee and have a team called Team One Love registered to raise money and attend the Yogathon on April 26th.

My team has been really rocking it raising money and I’m so proud to be leading their team. It’s all girls from my yoga teacher training which is really special to me. These girls helped me evolve and see my goals more clearly. It was a giant stepping-stone in my life and I’m so glad they were there for it all.

Today it was announced that Jonas Gray from the Patriots will be attending the event! How cool is that? I’m so excited that the athletic community is getting involved to this degree. This particular yogathon is raising money for Boston Children’s Hospital and Ben Speaks! It’s going to be rad.

Screen shot 2015-02-27 at 10.12.44 PM Other than that I don’t have a whole lot to say. Tomorrow I am getting up early to hit the gym and get in some miles then headed back to work. Before I sign off for the night I do have one EPIC new vegan food I found yesterday grocery shopping. Nature’s Path Organic Gluten Free Sunrise Crunchy Cinnamon cereal, add a little So Delicious coconut milk and you’re on cloud nine. I highly recommend checking this out. I couldn’t stop eating it. Speaking of eating I must go tend to my Amy’s low sodium lentil soup. NOM NOM NOM.

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-KS