Sunday, January 13, 2013


Since the last few days of 2012, Stacey and I have been eating mostly vegan. Our goal is to continue doing so until Jan. 31. Given this end date, I obviously don't view veganism as a permanent personal lifestyle. Instead, this "challenge" will serve as a push forcing me to learn how to eat more plant based foods. The food culture I'm accustomed to does not include, as an example, many vegetables at breakfast. Now, however, I'm starting the day with a small portion of whole-grain cereal accompanied by a smoothie heavy on spinach and kale.

The end goal is to have a repertoire of plant base dishes that Stacey and I can eat most meals of the week. We'll add meat and other animal product back into our diet, but in smaller, higher quality portions. Perhaps once or twice a week at home I'll have meat as part of dinner, and then I'll have another serving on the weekend when we eat out. If all the meat we used to eat had been organic/grass fed/yada yada yada then our grocery bill would have been astronimical. However, if we're only eating 8 ounces of meat and fish a week then we can afford better cuts.

After a few weeks of eating almost entirely plants (including beans and minimally processed grains), my energy level is fine and my weight is down to the lowest it's been since high school. So far, things have been a success. Here's a sampling of dinners:

Mexicali Tacos topped with kale and avocade.

Homemade felafel over salad.

Veggie-loaded, cheeseless "pizza".

The Incline:
The road into the quaint town of Manitou Springs.

In training news, I made it down to Manitou Springs yesterday before the disappointing Broncos game to do a few circuits up The Incline and down Barr Trail. The Incline is a one mile long section of 2600+ steps gaining over 2000 ft. It's very steep in places -- think lifting your knee to hip-level to reach the next step -- and mellow enough in other places that taking two Incline steps with one person step is doable. The first time up I worked hard enough that I had to concentrate on keeping my breath rhythmic instead of defaulting to short, hyper-frequent breaths. The steps are a perfect venue for a redline workout because no concentration or particular effort is required to sustain a hard effort; at times merely maintining forward progress does the trick. The elevation profile is a sight to behold (at least for those that fancy elevation profiles):

Upon reaching the top of The Incline the first time around, I paused a minute to get the HR down and then jogged down the Barr Trail. (Later, I posted the workout to Strava and was shocked to see that my 48 minute loop was within a minute of 1st place. Guess next time I'll have to cut the rest, run a bit harder down, and go for the record.) The decent is a gradual 3 mile drop back to the beginning of the Incline. The only challenging aspects of the descent are the footing, which is often very loose gravel necessitating caution on turns, and the occasional upward jutting rock. I've heard that Matt Carpenter ran to the Pikes Peak marathon at a pace of under 7:30 per mile. In the past that shocked me purely because of the amount of altitude gained, but after doing this section of the Barr trail I'm equally impressed because Matt's time suggests a descending pace of 6:00/mile or faster, which I now view as suicidal on the sketchy terrain.
Looking back 2/3 of the way up.

One of the steep sections of The Incline.
After my first loop, I did another circuit up The Incline and down Barr trail, this time keeping the effort moderate. By the start of my planned third loop, my hydration pack hose was frozen solid as a result of the 10 degree temperature, my butt was tired from the 5,000 stairs climbed, and the Broncos game was going to start soon. While I bailed on a third circuit, I hope to make it back in the spring to try for a four loop, 8800 foot loop. 

1 comment:

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