Wednesday, September 16, 2015

I feel light, already!

Well, Iron-fans.  It's pretty much official.  I'm done.  Ironman Wisconsin came and went last weekend and not only was I not racing, I sort of did not care.  Sure, I checked the weather and results after a friend reminded me that it was Iron Sunday.  I even woke up at about three AM, relieved that I didn't have to wake up at four.  I also called a friend who somehow has managed to complete every single Ironman Wisconsin since the race began over ten years ago.  Overall, it feels pretty good. I'm interested and engaged in other things (make something every day) so there doesn't seem to be a lack of activity in my life.  I'm managing to stay in decent shape, sometimes more, sometimes less exercise, and almost always taking in healthy food.

Dropping a habit or hobby that consumes so much energy, effort and focus, allows me to try things that I always wanted to work on, but may not have had the chance.  Over the years, I've most likely invested a small fortune in Sport drinks, bars, gels, supplements, powders and the like.  You know the brands.  Probably one of the best is Hammer, but really, when you're relying on so many of your seasonal calories to come from a giant plastic vat of powder (mix with water),  it's a far cry from the sort of basic food that I gravitate towards when not pounding out hundred mile rides and three hour runs.  

So I'm not eating any of that packaged stuff, although my family and I still enjoy the occasional Kind Bar.
Kind Bars, YUM.
But at our newly opened Sugar Beet Food Co-op, we're carrying these little energy bars that bring back a lot of memories.  I think I started buying these little pouches of carob/nut/etc. bars at the infamous Berkeley Bowl in the late eighties.  Back when I first moved to California and I was living in a little apartment as an eighteen year old, I had already established a pretty hardy/cheap/mostly vegetarian eating style, but this was my first foray into living/feeding myself completely independently.  I remember how amazing the Bowl was, what with so many varieties of grown food, such  a vast selection of breads, bulk items, butcher, fish, cheese and more.  The Bowl was amazing, but it was also incredibly overwhelming.  I really had no idea what I needed/wanted and as I gazed at the intense veteran foodie/hippie folks who would pore over the produce carefully, knowledgeably, I'd sort of freak out.  I'd sometimes grab a few pippin apples, bulk pasta, nuts, peanut butter and get the heck out.  Yet I do remember that in the bulk section I found these awesome nibs, and not only was the price right, it was the sort of thing that I'd munch on for a light meal, between meal snack, on the go.  A life long relationship with food, launched.
Presentation is everything.
Fast forward to my years doing Ironman in Madison Wisconsin, and, frankly, one of my favorite things about training for this race and doing the event was the opportunity it afforded me to visit Madison, which feels in many ways so much like my hometown of Eugene, Oregon.  Madison's farm to table scene is alive and well, and there's no shortage of food co-op energy in town.  I'm a proud member of the Willie Street Co-op, and visit the store anytime I'm in town.  Used to be, that I'd stock up on a huge supply of dried goods when in town for raceday, along with items that I'd like to have along the way for my race and pre-race nutrition.  Always available, in a similar packaging at Willie Street was the little energy bar.  I'd munch on these a few days prior to race, also race morning, and stick a few in my food bags for the race. Easier to get into than the hermetically sealed cases that are cliff/power/gel whatevers.  A lot tastier, with a bit more texture, and naturally sweetened.  One of the great benefits of the little squares is that they are small.  I can eat, one, two, or more.  When I open a pre-packaged bar, I sort of have to commit to the size of the serving.  I don't know how often, in my life as an endurance athlete, I've found some sort of half eaten bar at the bottom of a sport bag or side pocket of a car or running shorts.  Then the question: do I leave this on the shelf and wait til next time to eat?  I'm frugal enough to hold onto that sandy crumpled bar, but let's face it, not appealing after a while.

So, I'm so thrilled that we've founded, built and opened a state of the art food co-op right here in Oak Park.  Seriously, I'm still pinching myself.  It's a long hard battle, and many folks aren't sure what to make of it, but every time I'm there I see people who either look as if they've been in a decent food store before, or as if they're curious about making something about the Beet work for them.  Not everyone is going to go as whole hog as me--after all, I know I'm pretty unique.  I know that not everyone wants to eat little cacao energy balls with flax seeds and pistachios crunched up inside.  But I also know that this is an amazing opportunity for those of us passionate about food climate to move forward, on so many levels.
Seize the day!
And here I am, after this morning's run!  Even I, after all these years, have had a rough patch or two in my fitness regime.  I've added a few pounds, slowed quite a bit, and often roll back over in bed rather than lace up the shoes and get out the door.  So, another of the benefits of our new grocery option is that I feel as if I've got my own shot at renewal.  Hard to not sound braggy, but I feel lighter, more energetic, more sexy, more alive.  I was already eating well, but the bump and passion of the Beet has brought my game to another level, as if the years and the surrender are peeling away.

The first time I did Vineman Ironman, in 1994, I went to a farm stand in Sonoma and bought some munchies to carry me through a few days.  I recall, fresh lime, pistachios in the shell, raw garlic and jalapeño pepper.  Okay, it may not be what you're going to feed your family tonight, but you get the idea.  Food that sparks the imagination, food as start point.  Food in small enough portions to not be stuck with leftovers and packages and the angst that is modern everything.  I feel light, already.  C'mon, join me.  You'll look, feel, and be amazing.

1 comment:

  1. I bet you could make your own, too, now that you have so much time....Oliver is running cross-country and I have been experimenting with energy bars!