Primed for 26

Here are my final musings before turning 26 and running 26.

The turning leaves and brisk mornings are not only indicative of Autumn’s arrival, but also of a few personal milestones that are rapidly approaching. Tomorrow I will turn 26, which is far less exciting than it sounds, but my birthday is a necessary waypost I must pass every Fall. Also on October 1st, I will be en route to the midwest as I get ready to run my second marathon on Sunday– at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. For me, neither turning 26 years old nor running 26 miles is anything to dread; my mind and body are well-prepared for this weekend and I plan to make each a quality 26.

Reflecting on my past year, I can say that the quarter-century mark has brought out the best of the Libra in me: my life is in a positive state of balance. As a result of my increased commitment to running (and with moving up to the marathon), I have worked to formulate a more healthy routine this year. From getting more rest to the adoption of a vegan diet, I have felt more energized and well at 25 than ever before. Additionally, my time living in Flagstaff has introduced me to so many positive and inspiring individuals: my housemates, my girlfriend, my coach, other dedicated athletes and my colleagues. Being around other motivated and congenial people in this mountain town has helped keep me in good spirits and made me feel like I am at home here. I am thankful to have such a dynamic, which keeps me focused and in a happy equilibrium. In turning 26, I will strive to continue in this healthy balance.

This weekend will also be my second marathon, at the US Championship in Minneapolis, MN. I’m excited with my level of fitness and preparedness for this 26.2 mile task. I have had a very focused Summer of training, thanks to Coach Jack’s expertise and workouts. Akin to my last marathon buildup, I have stayed healthy and been able to hone in on my ability to run harder at longer distances– although this time around I did not have any winter weather to contend with. After the progress I have made during this training phase, I feel wiser and more aerobically capable of running this event than I did in January. And so I travel to the Twin Cities this weekend feeling equipped with both the physical and mental aptitudes to take on the marathon, no longer a rookie.

As I hit the road for 26, I recall some great advice Coach Jack recently offered me:

“The road traveled is far more important than what you may achieve at the end of the journey. It’s the experiences along the way that you will remember, not your final destination.”

Thanks to everyone who has made this journey so worthwhile. I am primed for 26!


Recipes to Recover and Replenish

Here are a few favorite vegan recipes to keep me running healthy and strong.

One of the great benefits a plant-based diet is that the meals I eat are rich in phytonutrients and vitamins that keep me running healthy.  Here are a few favorite vegan recipes that I am using to help my body recover during marathon training:

 Breakfast: Granola


  • 4 cups Rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup Sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces, cashews, pecans or other nuts
  • 1/4 cup coconut shreds
  • 1/8 cup sunflower seed kernels
  • 1/8 cup flax seeds
  • 1 cup raisins, goji berries, date crumbles or other dried fruit
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar or brown rice syrup
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Mix all oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl. Drizzle warmed agave nectar or brown rice syrup with oil onto the mixture and stir evenly. Spread thin on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 20-25 minutes while flipping with a spatula. Allow time for cooling. Serve with a nut milk or soy yogurt and top with dried fruit (or fresh fruit).


 Post-run: Green Plant & Berry Smoothie


  • 1 cup orange juice
  • chopped spinach leaves
  • chopped collard greens
  • kale (destemmed and torn)
  • frozen organic berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries etc.
  • 1 kiwi roughly chopped 
  • 1 apple chopped
  • 1 banana
  • 2 Tbsp flax oil
  • 2 Tbsp green plant powder (spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass)
  • 2 Tbsp hemp protein powder

Directions: Add ingredients to a blender starting with liquids and blend until a smooth consistency is achieved. I’ve used Trader Joe’s Green Plant Drink in lieu of the powder. An Emergen-C packet is also a good optional addition.


 Lunch: Raw Kale Salad

Courtesy of Bradley Saul of OrganicAthlete


 Dinner: Red Lentil Dal with Quinoa



  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 4 diced tomatoes
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 white onion diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • chopped cilantro
  • Spices: cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, chili powder, garam marsala etc.

Directions: Rinse lentils and cook in 4-5 cups of water, with added sea salt. Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil on a medium-heated skillet. Heat the diced tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic in a sauce pan and add spices. Add the cooked lentils (once soft) to the sauce pan and cook covered on medium-low heat for about 1 hour. Rinse quinoa thoroughly and cook on stove top in 1 1/2 cups of water. Spoon cooked quinoa into bowls and add then the dal. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Be sure to check out my recent interview with OrganicAthlete and follow my latest kitchen exploits with Ali on our food blog

Happy cooking! –JDE