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Virginia Tannat Tour

Vines at Chateau O'Brien

I closed out the final days of August tasting wine with my cousins. We were blessed with mild temperatures and low humidity, a rarity in Virginia.

My cousin Pamela's husband, Laurent, hails from a little French town where they grow the Tannat grape. When we visited them in Paris last summer, we promised him a Virginia Tannat tasting tour.

Introducing a Frenchman to Virginia wine? The pressure was on.

Our first stop was The Winery at La Grange, where Hubz and I first discovered Tannat. They have a beautiful tasting room and grounds, and wide range of wines to taste. My favorites were the Viognier, Cabernet and Tannat.

Linden Vineyards
is probably our favorite Virginia winery. The views from their peaceful deck alone are worth the trip. Their tasting always delights, and the cellar tasting is really something special.

Julie, Kirstin and Pam on the deck at Linden Vineyards
Cousins on the deck at Linden Vineyards.

Grapes on the vine at Linden Vineyards
Grapes ripening on the vine at Linden Vineyards

Tom, Laurent, Donna, Julie and Pam at Chateau O'Brien
Hubz, Laurent, Julie's friend, cousins Julie and Pamela
The highlight of this day was the reserve cellar tasting at Chateau O'Brien. What a treat! We got to hang out with the owner, Howard, in a cool yet cozy crushed stone cellar. We tasted several wines including an impressive Tannat, partook of wonderful cheeses and other nibbles and listened to Howard talk about his wines. 

The wines were truly some of the best Virginia reds Hubz and I have tasted. I was proud to introduce my cousins to Virginia wine, and blissfully happy to have spent a wonderful day with them in the countryside.

Here's to the last days of summer. Cheers!

Fat Adapted: Running an Ultra on the Paleo Diet

I went Paleo in March of 2013. My body felt better, younger, more energetic than ever, but my endurance running suffered during the transition to becoming fat adapted.

27 days into the Whole30 Program, I ran a 50 miler but fell prey to terrible leg cramping

Three weeks after, I ran a tough, hilly 20 miler and felt strong all day. Six days later at Capon Valley 50K, I added nut butter, banana and dried apricots to my fueling regimen but ran out of gas and walked it in.

I kept tweaking my nutrition, but I couldn't seem to find a winning combination.
What was different? I'd ingested a bun-less burger during my 20 miler, perhaps protein was the key! 

In my final long-ish, hilly run before my big race, I ate a packet of VFuel (which contains protein). Since the run was a mere 3 hours, there wasn't time to take in much nutrition. Probably not a fair shake, but discouragingly, I sensed the onset of cramps in the final two miles.

Desperate to figure out a way to make my ultrarunning work without sugar, I recalled that Devon Yanko uses Vespa as her fuel. After some research, I decided to use Vespa Junior for my 70 miler. Having failed with my other concoctions, what did I have to lose?

According to the Vespa website, it helps the body utilize fat stores for energy, especially if your daily diet is Paleo/low carb. You still eat some carbohydrate during the run, but much less than you'd otherwise need. It also appealed to me because I could avoid consuming a lot of sugar.

I consumed one Vespa Junior 45 minutes before the race began, then one every three hours during the race. I waited an hour or so after taking the Vespa and then I ate a sweet potato baby food squeeze packet or a few bites of a LARABAR every 15 minutes for carbohydrates. I drank plain water, but in a departure from strict Whole30 protocol I nibbled on Nuun tablets for magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium. I hoped this would stave off any leg cramps.

This plan worked beautifully for 63 miles, at which point my legs began to feel excruciating pain. So this was what ultrarunners Olga King and Larry King had experienced! I whimpered a bit in the final miles, glad that this was not a 100 miler.

I still count my race at Laurel Highlands 70 Miler as a fueling success. While I was sufficiently trained for the distance, I was certainly pushing the upper limits of my distance range. 

Hopefully, in my next ultra, I'll have the same success. I'll be sure to post about my results. For now, I'm enjoying all that summer has to offer.

San Diego

San Diego, it has been too long.

When I was growing up, we visited every year, and it felt like our second home. Somehow, 15 years passed as my life happened on the East coast.

Last morning run along the harbor
Morning run along the harbor.

It was good to return for a long weekend. Though the occasion was a sad one -- my Aunt Diane's memorial service -- it was wonderful to spend time with West coast family. Not only did I catch up with family I'd known since birth, I had the pleasure of meeting new family thanks to  my sister in law Paulyn.

Photo Aug 04, 4 14 32 PM
A whole new family contingent!

It was also fun to show Hubz around. He was smitten by the cool air and particularly loved Balboa Park and its gnarly trees.

Seen on our run: grand old tree with impressive roots, Balboa Park

We also did some exploring further afield. After all, the last time I was here, I didn't yet run trails!

Based on suggestions from Twitter, we chose the Mt. Woodson trail 30 miles northeast of San Diego.

Mountain Lion AND Rattlesnake warning 
Hubz was beside himself with joy. Alas, we didn't see either a rattlesnake or a mountain lion.

We got in some good climbing, and the reward at the top was a fun photo op on Potato Chip Rock.

To get to the chip, you have to leap!
To get to the "Chip" you have to leap!

Atop Potato Chip Rock.
I didn't have the nerve to go out to the very edge.

And check out this contraption I spied on my last morning run along the harbor. Have you ever seen such a thing? Those wacky Californians ...

What the ...? A running bicycle? Mind Blown.

I hope to get back out to the "Left Coast" soon. There are many trails calling my name.