Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (run)

A double race report of sorts:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

View from the top.

View from the top.

As I ran through the desert and canyons of Moab Utah last Saturday I felt a wholeness I have never experienced while running. I felt like I belonged here. Like I was meant to run through this sand, this rock, and up these hills. The trail meandered down from the start line into the canyons. The surface underfoot switched constantly from sand, to dirt, to sharp stones, to uneven slickrock. The trail was very technical at times forcing me to watch my footing carefully. When I was able to look up my eyes were rewarded with the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. Buttes and mesas of various shades of red rose from the ground like ancient fortified castles. The trail took us through tight winding single track along seemingly precarious cliff sides. It took us down runnable double track jeep roads past 100 foot tall rock spires that looked mighty yet precariously fragile. It took us from the valley floor to the top of a mesa sitting at 5300’ elevation. The view from the top seemed to go on forever. We stopped and took it all in. That panoramic is etched in my mind now. I wanted to stay in that moment forever. We took our time all day. This wasn’t as much of a race as it was an adventure.

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About 9 miles in the entire race bottlenecked. A line of runners stretched as far as you could see winding around the side of the cliff. We stood there for 45 minutes or so only moving a couple hundred yards. I hardly cared. I was having so much fun that the prospect of being on this course longer did not bother me. Everyone was in good spirits while we waited. We finally scampered down between two narrow rocks and jumped down about 7 or 8 feet to the trail below. It was easy to see why this section caused such a back-up. Off we went through the next aid station stocked with everything from water, coke, beer, and potato chips.

One of the many panoramic views.

One of the many panoramic views.

Jason, Ernesto, and I ran on with big smiles on our faces for much of the day. We run through rocky tunnels, jumped across streams repeatedly. We climbed ladders, ran through culverts, and climbed and descended several sections with the aid of ropes.  I have never been more present and in the moment while running than I was in Moab. The only time I listened to music was while we waited during the bottleneck. Otherwise it was too distracting from everything I was seeing around me. Every corner we turned we would see something more beautiful than the last. This is a tough race without a doubt, but the beauty of the landscape made every step worthwhile.

Jason and I running through the canyon.

Jason and I running through the canyon.

I am so thankful that running has brought me to Moab. I miss being there. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll go back and never leave. I am so thankful running has taken me to so many places. In the past few months I have logged miles from Cozumel Mexico to Detroit Michigan. From Washington DC to Leadville Colorado. From the trails of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma to Moab Utah. I am truly having the time of my life.

Utah was crazy beautiful.

Utah was crazy beautiful.

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Two weeks before this I found myself standing on the starting line of the 39th Marine Corps Marathon. This race was very special to me having served 4 years in the Marines. I was calm. This was to be my 5th marathon and the first time jitters were long gone. I watched the parachute team fly in with giant American flags trailing behind them. One of these was a Medal of Honor winner who was running the race as well. I felt a deep sense of pride having served my country. I came with the intent run my fastest marathon that day. The Howitzer went off and so did we. This was by far the most crowded field I had ever been a part of. The first 8 miles was a wall of bodies.

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People lined the streets for miles cheering us on. I felt great, but I could not keep my heart rate down. After several miles I just made the decision to accept this. I slowed down so I could reserve some energy for the finish. I switched of the heart rate view on my watch and just focused on form and distance. I passed many runners wearing shirts commemorating the service men and women they were running in honor of. I tried to read every name I could. I thought about their sacrifice and felt gratitude. As we ran through the park along the Potomac River signs lined the street every few feet listing the names of service men and women who gave their life for our country. I thought about those signs for the rest of the race and still to this day.

As the miles went on my legs grew tired. As I ran down the National Mall past the Capitol and Washington Monument I could feel the heat of the day starting to take its toll. It was in the mid 60’s. The sun was out and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. It was a beautiful day, but I was getting hot. I pushed on across the bridge back to Virginia at Mile 20. I began to cramp up in my quads despite staying hydrated and popping Endurolyte capsules every 45 minutes. At mile 22 I was hurting. I knew my goal time of 3:45 was out of reach, and I made peace with this. I slowed down enough to keep my legs from completely locking up, but I pushed on those last four miles. Running past the Pentagon for the last mile I began to think about my mother. I thought about her condition in that nursing home and how her disease has taken so much away from her physically. I thought about my daughter. She had turned 12 years old the day before and I missed her birthday. Months before I told her that I could skip this race to be with her on her birthday. She was having none of it. She told me to go race and she would be okay with this. I thought about the prospect of running with my daughter someday if she ever decides to do so, and it made me smile. Marines lined the streets cheering us onward. The final .2 mile takes a sharp turn up a steep hill before you get to the finish line. My legs were burning as I chugged up and across the finish. 3 hours and 55 minutes. Not fast by any means. Not what I wanted at all. I was happy though. This was a PR by 25 minutes and I left it all out on the course that day.

The Marine who gave me my medal.

The Marine who gave me my medal.

MCM Finisher Medal. The coolest medal I've ever received.

MCM Finisher Medal. The coolest medal I’ve ever received.

The race finishes at the Marine Corps War Memorial. It’s a large statue of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. Probably the most iconic image in USMC history. I walked around the side of the monument to take a picture of the beautiful Eagle, Globe, and Anchor finisher medal. I saw another runner sitting quietly crying. I walked up to him and asked if he was okay. He told me his father ran this race many times years ago. His father passed away and now he was running it in his memory. I let him be, but the expression on that man’s face left a lasting impression on me. Sorrow but joy and accomplishment. This race had a meaningfulness on par with the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. I’ll never forget this one.

Oh, the places you’ll go… My travels have only just begun. The next two months I’m staying closer to home. I’ve got the Tulsa Half Marathon on November 23rd, and the Dallas Marathon on December 14th. I am pleased to say that I have found a 50 mile race. The day after I ran Moab I signed up for the Old Pueblo 50 in Sonoita Arizona on March 7th 2015. 50 miles through the desert with 8000’ of climbing. I am excited to say the least. Training has already begun. I’ve felt 50 miles was a distance I am capable of for a little while now. Although, now that I am actually registered for this race the reality is starting to sink in that this is going to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I welcome the challenge that lays ahead.

On the home front I am very excited about a new running group in Oklahoma City. It’s the No Meat Athlete – OKC group. Matt Fraizer of nomeatathlete.com put together local running groups all over the country and the world in the last few months. We meet on Sundays for a 3 mile social run and coffee afterwards. It has quickly become the run I look forward to the most. Before I did not personally know any other plant based runners, and now there is a whole group of us in OKC. Meeting other like-minded athletes has been amazing.

It seems so simple now. Start running, cycling, swimming, hiking, or whatever. See where it takes you. Dr. Seuss knew what he was talking about. We control our journey. Strap on your shoes and go!

One of my favorite places.

One of my favorite places.

Shake out run in Anabella Utah.

Shake out run in Anabella Utah.

Jason's Titanic impression

Jason’s Titanic impression.

-Jonathan Lambert

Evolution of a Vegan Runner

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Newton EnergyNR II Review

I can admit it. I am a total Newton fan boy. The Sir Isaacs were the shoe that got me running and I’ve owned 10 pairs of Newton’s ever since. I initially transitioned to the Newton Motion and then to the Newton Distance S before transitioning away from Newton’s stability shoes. Even though I over pronate, I like the ride of a neutral shoe better. When Newton first released with the EnergyNR I was excited to say the least. I liked the lower profile lugs and the fifth lug offered a more stable platform. The original Energy felt soft and forgiving, yet fast. I wore the EnergyNR’s for training, and for half and full marathon PR’s. I was able to get over 400 miles out of this pair of shoes this was the  first time I retired a pair of shoes not because they were trashed, but because the EVA broke down.

The original Energy was not without its short comings though. The upper felt too bulky and hot at times. I also experienced some heel slippage when I first started running in the Energy’s . This was a common enough issue with the Energy that multiple reviews recommended replacing the insole for a thinner one and lacing to the last eyelets.

When I learned Newton was replacing the Energy with the neutral runner Aha; I assumed this would be the new shoe for me. Newton also announced the EnergyNR II was their new stability model. I was a little perplexed at the initial marketing for these shoes as Newton billed both as a 5k to 10k gateway shoe. I understand that many people have a hard time getting used to the lugs of traditional Newton’s, and the Energy model definitely provides a different ride than what Newton now calls their P.O.P. 1 shoes. I believe Newton’s P.O.P. 3 shoes (the EnergyNR II and Aha) are a 5k to full marathon shoe. These shoes are capable of so much more than a “gateway” shoe. The EnergyNR II’s have the ability to be a mainstream daily trainer.

Apparently Newton agrees with my assessment of the EnergyNR II’s.  Within the last few months Newton has changed their description of these shoes to something similar of what I believe these shoes are capable of:

“Perfect For: Active-minded runners looking for a familiar all-around shoe to keep them committed to coming back for more.”

“Likes: Performing with versatility at all distances for both new and experienced runners.”

“Ride: Familiar and forgiving. A subtle and inviting ride with some extra pep.”

-newtonrunning.com

Why the Newton EnergyNR II is my go to shoe now:

I’ve now logged over 150 miles in the EnergyNR II running distances up to 22 miles. Out of the box the EnergyNR II looks great. I am a sucker for the bright purplish-blue/yellow colorway. The upper is a soft thin mesh that vastly improves upon the upper of the original Energy. The welded overlays provide adequate support and my foot feels locked in while running. The heel slippage issue of the original Energy is nonexistent thanks to less padding around the heel and a stiffer heel cup. I still prefer a thinner insole, but this is just a personal preference of mine. The EnergyNR II is a wider platform and a slightly stiffer ride with a 6mm heel to toe drop. The toe box is slightly narrower in this shoe than the original EnergyNR. I had to size up a half size in the original Energy, but the EnergyNR II feels more true to size. I wear size 12 in both the EnergyNR II and Aha. While the original Energy could feel squishy at times, the EnergyNR II feels responsive and even faster. The midsole material is plenty flexible, but this shoe does not provide much in the way of ground feel.

The wider platform and extended medial bridge give this shoe a very stable platform. As an over pronator this is the best stability shoe I’ve run in. It’s stable while still feeling natural. For me this is a shoe that disappears on your foot during a run. The outsole gives great traction on road surfaces and is especially grippy on asphalt and brick. After running more than 150 miles in this shoe I have yet to test them out in the rain, so I cannot attest to how they would respond on wet surfaces. Given the grippy outsole and my experience in the Aha and original EnergyNR I suspect these shoes would do quite nicely.

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The Aha, EnergyNR II, and EnergyNR. The EnergyNR II outsole is very similar to the EnergyNR, only wider and with the extended medial bridge.

The EnergyNR II has held up very nicely through 150 plus miles. I imagine I will be able to get close to 400 miles or more in this shoe. The only noticeable wear to the upper is delamination along the eyelet overlays that does not affect any of the shoe’s performance. The outsole shows wear along the forward lugs consistent with the miles these shoes have on them.

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Decent wear for 150+ road miles.

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Delamination of the eyelet overlays.

Overall this is one of the best shoes I have run in. With a stack height over 20 mm this shoe provides adequate cushioning to get though a marathon in a lightweight responsive package. The upper is a lightweight breathable mesh that is very comfortable. At $110 the Newton EnergyNR II is the most affordable Newton out there.

Pros:

Lightweight

Stable

Responsive

Durable

Affordable

Vegan

Cons:

Lack of color options

Delamination of overlay

Lack of ground feel

http://www.newtonrunning.com/shop/men-running-shoes/mens-energy-nr-ii-gateway-trainer

http://www.runningwarehouse.com/Newton_Energy_NR_II/descpageMRS-NENNRM1.html

Finding my Path

Evolution of a Vegan Runner Part 2

 

Sometimes I’m an asshole. There is no other way to describe a son that goes almost twelve years without seeing his mother. My relationship with my mom has been a rollercoaster since my parents divorced when I was five. Through the years I developed a keen ability to shut someone out of my life completely at the first signs of friction. It was my defense mechanism to protect myself from the drama of my childhood. I did this to my mom for almost 12 years. There were the occasional phone calls, but very little contact since she lives in Michigan and I live in Oklahoma. About 4 years ago when my mother was only 56 years old she was placed in a nursing home. The diagnosis: dystonia. I had no idea what that even was. My brother also lives in Michigan, and has thankfully been there for her the entire time. Josh tried to explain what this diagnosis meant, and how it affected her. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t see it with my own eyes. All I could think was about how my own mother at such a young age would live in a nursing home the rest of her life. I sure wish I could say that I immediately reached out to her, made amends, and everything has been great since. That was not the case.

My mother has never been a healthy person. I have no memories of her doing anything that involved physical activity. She never ate well that I can remember. Like so much of the population she did very little to take care of herself and it showed. She was always sick, never had energy, and she medically retired in her 40’s after having several surgeries on her wrist. Now she was in a nursing home. My brother told me she would lose her ability to walk, to feed herself, and eventually talk. It made me angry. I was angry that she had allowed herself to be so unhealthy she was afflicted with this disease so young. Looking at myself in the mirror I had to come to the realization that this could be my future. I owed it to my mom, my daughter, and myself to break this cycle. Over time anger turned to sadness. I’m deeply sadden my mother never had the guidance or the desire to live a healthier life.

In July of this year I went to Detroit to visit my brother, his new wife, and my mother. Josh tried to prepare me for seeing her in the nursing home for the first time. He explained mom could no longer feed herself. She had to be transferred from her wheelchair to her bed and back using a sling and a lift. She had lost the use of her legs and right hand. Mom had no idea I was coming. We got there during lunchtime. I walked into the dining room and I will never forget the look on her face. Shock. Surprise. Happiness. Love. We hugged, we cried, we laughed. I sat with my mother. I told her how much I loved her. I fed her lunch. We sat outside and talked while she held my hand and told me over and over, “I can’t believe you’re here”. She was so tired but she fought through it because she didn’t want me to leave. That day I saw a woman who has been stripped of what many of us take for granted. She displayed more reason and clarity that day than I have ever seen from her. In her condition she is forced to understand the importance of family and loving relationships. I recognize it too. When we finally left I managed to keep it together all the way to the car. Once there I promptly lost my shit. I was overcome with waves of emotion. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and I cannot wait to go back soon to visit her again.

This was certainly a meaningful experience for me. For the way it made me feel inside it was also deeply spiritual. I’m amazed sometimes at how spiritual running can be also. This is true is multiple ways. Sometimes it’s just the feeling of going outside on beautiful day and putting in the work. Other times it’s hitting the trails and feeling that instinctual connection we have when we’re amongst nature. Sometimes it is as simple as knowing you are improving. Every long run milestone I have accomplished has made me a better person. It’s changed my threshold of what I know I can accomplish. Knowing that I can always get better or go further is what drives me. Running makes me a better physically. At the same time it makes me want to be a better person all the way around. I’m not going to be the guy who goes 12 years without seeing his mother just to avoid some perceived conflict ever again. As my legs and lungs get stronger so does my mind.

Going vegan has also provided a mental shift. This all started as a way to be healthy. I read that a plant based diet provides for faster recovery times when running. This really appealed to me, and personally I’ve found it to be true. I routinely follow up my long run days with a medium length run the following day. I usually feel very good. A few months ago I was sitting in my living room when it dawned on me…”I’m a vegan who owns leather couches”. It’s fucked up, I know. That day I changed from this being all about my health and fitness. It is about the animals too. I run on plants because it makes me a better runner, and no creatures have to suffer in the process. Now, I don’t identify myself as an animal activist in the sense I want to protest and judge others. I think the best thing I can do is to set a good example to others. It’s up to each individual to choose their own path.

Now on to my training… How is it that one bad day of running feels like it negates all progress previously obtained? Now I know this isn’t the truth, but it sure as shit feels that way sometimes. Training has been going great lately. I feel like I am more dialed in this training cycle than ever before. I’ve gotten much faster in the last month and a half. Last Saturday I did a 16 mile training run. The weather was perfect. It was the first weekend where it got somewhat cold outside. It was around 50 degrees at the start and it didn’t warm up much from there. I was able to finish the run much faster than I thought I could, and I still had tons of energy at the end. My heart rate stayed in the zone for almost the whole run. After that run I was filled with confidence on what I will able to do in DC. I’m shooting for a 3:45 finish, but if things go as well as last Saturday I will be faster than that. That good weekend run translated into a very strong week. My training schedule had me running every day this past week. Almost every day I started out at an easier pace but kicked it up big time when once I realized how strong I felt. My confidence was sky high.

Fast forward to this last Saturday morning…It was in the low 70’s, but the humidity was above 90%. Humidity is absolutely my Kryptonite. I went out faster than I should have. I watched my heart rate climb steadily. After just three miles I was sweating profusely. I continued to ignore my heart rate through the first 10 miles. I knew it was higher than what it should be, but I still felt relatively okay. When the wheels come off the bus they do so quickly. Between mile 11 and 12 I had completely hit the wall. I was forced to slow down to a 10 minute pace. I even walked several times trying to get my heart rate to come back down. It didn’t matter anymore. I was too overheated at that point. When it’s that humid your sweat does not evaporate. You cannot cool down like normal. I was forced to just accept that this was not my day and continue on. It was extremely frustrating and I had to really concentrate on not getting angry about it. I managed to get 18.5 of a 20 mile run in. Not my best effort at all.

I think I need runs like that sometimes. It’s very humbling, and I always learn from these runs. At very least I am reminded about certain aspects of running that I’ve gotten complacent about. I know humidity slows me down. I should have just accepted it and slowed down from the beginning. I needed to be drinking more fluids and take more salt tablets. I spent a little while feeling dejected and sorry for myself. Then I just reminded myself to be thankful. I’m thankful and grateful to be healthy enough to run. I’m thankful that even after that much of a struggle I am looking forward to my next long run. Running is a sport of ups and downs. The downs may kick you square in the ass, but the next day or next week offers redemption. I get to prove next weekend that this week’s run was just a fluke. It was a combination of poor preparation and execution. I’ll get it next time! The Marine Corps Marathon is only 5 weeks away. That’s 5 more weeks to get everything dialed in. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, but I’m getting pumped!

I certainly want to say a huge thank you to everyone who read the first installment of Evolution of a Vegan Runner. The comments and words of encouragement were extremely humbling. You folks all motivate me so much. Thanks again for reading!

And now the obligatory recipe:

Post-run Chocolate Hemp Recovery Milk

Most of us have heard that chocolate milk is a great recovery drink after a workout. I’ll admit I tried it several times, and it sure tasted good. This is how I get that chocolate milk fix after a hard effort. I like to throw a dash of cayenne pepper in mine for an extra kick. That’s definitely optional.

2 cups water

1/3 cup hemp seeds

1 tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter

1 ½ tablespoon cacao powder

1 tablespoon agave nectar, maple syrup, or stevia to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-4 ice cubes

Dash of cayenne pepper – optional

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend on high.

Part One, the Road to Change

240 fucking pounds!!! How in the world did I get to this point? At 32 years old I was fat and miserable all the time. At 18 years old fresh out of Marine Corps boot camp I weighed in at 155 lbs. That seemed like eons ago. I was lean and mean, and it was right around that time I learned that I absolutely hated running. Despised it! It was such a chore. My lungs hurt, I was sweating profusely, and worst of all I had the most horrendous shin splints this planet has ever seen. I ran so the drill instructor didn’t kill me. I ran because there was no damn way I was going home without the title of “Marine”! I got the hell out of boot camp, but those were the end of my running days for a long time. I ran only when I had to. I stuffed my face with pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, Doritos, soda, sweets, and anything else that was quick and easy. How did I come to weigh almost 100 lbs. more at 32? I knew. I knew all too well. I just avoided thinking about it. I did what was easy. I did what was familiar. I did almost nothing. My love handles proved it.

 

Fast forward 3 years and I’m down to my fighting weight of 165. I feel great all the time. I run as much as I can, and then sometimes I run some more. At 35 I feel stronger, healthier, and just plain sexier than I did at 18. This is the story of my evolution. It’s the story of how I now identify myself as a vegan runner. From a sedentary couch potato slob to completing 4 half marathons, 4 full marathons, an Olympic distance triathlon, a 100 mile bike ride, and other events in the last 3 or so years. So far this year I’ve run two full marathons including the Leadville 26.2, and I have 3 more full marathons to go. (Marine Corps Marathon, Moab Trail Marathon, and the Dallas Marathon) I want to get in a trail 50K before the year is over, and I have my sights set on a 50 miler in the spring of 2015. Those are just my short term goals… All of this from the porker who couldn’t finish a 2 miler just 3 short years ago.

 

None of this was overnight. None of this was quick. None of this was easy. I didn’t just go vegan 3 years ago and then magically become a stud. I baby stepped the fuck out of this journey. I had no idea how far I could take it when I started; I just knew shit had to change! To start I decided to do P90X. I stuck with it for 90 days and dropped 30 lbs. fast. I tried to eat better, but my entire diet centered around meat and dairy. This is not good for the guy who lacked the will power to drive past my favorite hamburger joint without pulling in and grabbing a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake. It was fine, I was working out now! I could afford to eat this crap. So yeah…I put back on about 15 of the 30 lbs. I lost.

 

I didn’t give up the fight though. I knew there was something more out there for me. There was a way to pull myself out of this rut. I bought a road bike and trained with my local Team in Training Chapter for a 100 mile ride around Lake Tahoe. This gave me purpose. I loved the idea of raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society while being active and getting in shape. Somewhere along the way I was watching the Daily Show and saw Jon Stewart interview Christopher McDougall about some book he wrote called, “Born to Run”. I bought it that day. I fucking love amazon.com, by the way! Anyways…This book did two things for me. First it gave me the idea that my shin splint problem could be related to the shitty shoes I was clomping around in. Second I became really intrigued with Scott Jurek and his ability to run ultramarathons while eating plants! How the hell was that possible? I mean everyone knows you have to eat meat to get protein! Right?

 

This information stayed in the back of my mind for a while. I didn’t immediately act upon it. After the Tahoe ride I had a conversation with a friend about my desire to try running again. She suggested I go to a new local running store in Oklahoma City called Red Coyote where they would analyze my gait and fit me properly in a good pair of shoes. She urged me to try a half marathon at some point. 13.1 miles sounded insanely far…but strangely doable. As soon as I got home from Tahoe I went to Red Coyote. I tried several shoes running on the sidewalk in front of their store. I felt that familiar twinge in my shins and thought, “Oh no, here we go again”. Maybe this shit isn’t for me. Maybe I should just stick to spandex and road bikes. The next pair of shoes he brought out were Newton Sir Isaacs. These shoes have a low heel to toe drop and forefoot lugs that promote a mid-foot strike. They were also painfully ugly. I laced a pair up and prayed no one I knew saw me wearing them. I walked around the store and they felt super funky with the lugs underfoot. Everything changed when I went outside and ran up and down the sidewalk. Holy hell! No shin splint twinge! These ugly ducklings may work. I parted ways with $175 and walked out of that store with my first true running shoes. Fast forward to December 2011, and I completed my 1st half marathon in Dallas. I was not the fastest runner, so I was extremely pleased with my sub 2 hour finish. A runner was born.

 

I immediately decided that if I could run a half I could run a full. I jumped right into training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. I got through it, but my inexperience on nutrition and hydration led to a 26.2 mile ride on the struggle bus. Every muscle below my waist seized up at mile 14 and I limped in to a 4:35 finish. Later that summer I picked up Scott Jurek’s book Eat & Run. If you are looking for a heaping spoonful of motivation and inspiration I suggest you give it a read. SJ is a bad mother effer for sure! I thought if Scott Jurek can win Western States 7 years in a row eating like a gerbil what is my excuse? I gave vegetarianism a try. A half assed try at that. This wasn’t about animals, or any kind of personal convictions. This was just about trying to eat somewhat healthier. It didn’t do much. Most half measures don’t. I would have my meat cheat days as often as I felt like it. Any kind of social situation where I would be required to explain how I ate I would just eat meat instead. When I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon again the next year it’s no surprise I only managed to shave 15 minutes off the 4:35 finish time.

 

It wasn’t until December of 2013 that I found the path I was looking for and the tools to get to where I wanted to be. I was in Jamaica with my girlfriend at the time enjoying a lovely vacation. I was stuffing myself with as much meat, dairy, and alcohol I could get my hands on. It was all-inclusive after all. How can one be vegetarian at an all-inclusive resort? The problem was this felt wrong. I was living a completely opposite lifestyle than those I wished to emulate. I tore through Rich Roll’s book Finding Ultra while lying on the Jamaican beaches. Everything he said made sense finally. I felt like I was finally armed with the tools to go all in. It felt right. I made the choice to eat a plant based diet as soon as I left Jamaica. I got home January 6th 2014. I haven’t intentionally ingested animal products of any kind since then. I am now a vegan. The word still seems foreign to me. I hid it for a while and did not tell my coworkers. I live in Oklahoma and I work for the largest law enforcement agency in the state. Vegan cop is a total oxymoron in these parts. Hunting, fishing, and eating meat and dairy are ways of life here. I don’t get angry or blame anyone for not eating the way I do. I try not to be preachy. That does nothing but turn folks away. I sincerely hope I can set an example to those I know that you can eat plants, get all the protein your body needs, be active, feel good, and be happy as shit!

 

The evolution only continues from here. I am laser focused on my next race. Being a former Marine and having the opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon means a lot to me. The first two marathons I ran this year weren’t about my personal time. I paced a friend to her first marathon finish in April. I ran with another friend in Leadville, and being flatlanders we set out just to finish and take in the scenery. MCM is different. I want to go full Teen Wolf beast mode in DC. It’s the main reason I didn’t allow constant rain showers to keep me in bed last Saturday for an 18 mile training run. I got out there early and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s the reason the following morning my friend Jason told me he was headed out for a run and I couldn’t wait to join him. Unthinkable 3 years ago, but a true part of my identity now. Running gives me purpose I didn’t previously possess. Eating a plant based diet fuels that endeavor. Eating a plant based diet also means I don’t partake in the suffering of animals, which makes me really happy. As a bonus eating a plant based diet is good as hell for the environment.

 

I recently read a book called Running Eating Thinking, a Vegan Anthology. One chapter stood out to me more than most. Chapter 3 by James McWilliams. The whole book is amazing, but this chapter is particularly relevant to me. Towards the end James says:

 

“Since becoming a vegan I often have to stop in the middle of a run because the force of the experience overwhelms me. It’s as if you cannot be more present in the world at that moment. And the beauty is you don’t need to do anything. Just exist. And run. And not eat animals.”

 

Exist. Run. Not eat animals. It’s so simple, yet it has fundamentally changed who I am to my core. I am no longer that 240 lb. couch potato. I am a vegan runner, and I’m never going back!

 

 

I hope you all will follow along for the journey. This blog aims to talk about running, eating, racing, shoes, trails, which nipple band-aids I prefer, and the like. My evolution has just begun. Follow along as I train and race my fall marathons this year. Follow along as I push past 26.2 into the world of ultra-running. All of this while eating plants!

 

And now the obligatory recipe:

 

Chipotle Hummus Cucumber & Avocado Flatbread Sandwich

 

After a long run on the weekends I usually throw some stuff in the VitaMix for a nice recovery smoothie. After a few hours I get hungry for something that’s going to fill me up, but not be heavy on my stomach. This sandwich fits the bill. The combination of the thin Lavash flatbread and fresh veggies with avocado works perfectly. I’m slightly addicted to these…

 

Ingredients:

 

Make a batch of your favorite hummus recipe but blend in 2 to 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and some cayenne pepper.

 

½ of a piece of Lavash Whole Grain flatbread

¼ cucumber sliced thin

2 slices of vine ripe tomato

½ medium Hass avocado sliced thin

½ small carrot grated

½ tablespoon Vegenaise

½ tablespoon Chipotle Hummus

 

 

Cut the flatbread in half. Put the Vegenaise on half the flatbread, and the hummus on the other half. Layer the cucumber, avocado, tomato, and carrot. Nom & repeat.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Jonathan Lambert