TransCon Recap: Week 5



DAYS: 29 – 33



DAY 29:

None of us anticipated that we would wake up and there would be snow on the ground or that it would be snowing as I started. The snow progressively got worse over the first 3 hrs of my day. It was sleeting AND snowing to the point where I really couldn’t see because it was blowing straight into my face. I had the hood of my rain jacket as low as I could and between my sunglasses and my hood I was able to make a little slit so I could see.


I arrived in Clayton, NM about mid day. Clayton has been a monumental moment I’d been looking forward to. On my drive back from the Big Bend Ultra race back in January, Shelley and I stopped in Clayton knowing that it would be a town on my transcon route. I stood exactly in the center of the town that day wondering what it would be like to be in that spot only a few months down the road. Standing there in Clayton back in January was the first time that the gravity of this run really hit home. I remember wondering who was that person going to be coming through Clayton after almost 1,200 miles of running across the country?

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Robbie Balenger NadaMoo Plant Powered

Here I am today, I’m that person.

There’s so much one can’t anticipate about doing something like this. I don’t think I underestimated the difficulty of this undertaking, but how do you put your finger on what it’s going to be like to pull yourself out of bed every morning and move for 12 plus hours?

This run has changed me and I don’t know what the implications of those changes are yet, but I do know that I am a different person than the person that stood there on Jan, 22. It was so eery to think my future self would come through here and here I am now – that future self!

Today I had some fun little things to look forward to. Chris mapped out exactly where we could step into Texas. Of course the minute I stepped into Texas it got 10 degrees warmer and the sun came out. I kid you not! It went from like 45 degrees to 60 degrees! Then, when we left Texas and entered Oklahoma the temperature dropped again. It was hilarious.

Entering Oklahoma was another big milestone. 3 states down (CA, AZ, & NM) and now I’m in OK. It really feels like we’ll be here forever. My Oklahoma impressions thus far are that there are no shoulders on the road and there are no mile markers. These are two things that I value a lot. Having a shoulder on the road provides somewhere for me to run where there is no traffic and there is literally no shoulder now. Mile markers have been nice for me to mentally check them off as I go. They kept me present. I see the crew every 5 miles so whenever I saw a mile marker I would check it off, then see the next one and check it off and so on. Without these small visual benchmarks it feels as though the 5 mile increments are going by a little slower.

One day at a time. Each day totally different from the one before it. East I go.

DAY 30:

Today was was my first full day in Oklahoma. I’m happy to report that it was a relatively easy day for me. I believe some of this is because I’ve fully descended out of the mountains and onto the Great Plains to an altitude of about 3,000 feet (from as high as 9,000 feet only a few days ago in NM!). Today’s section was also net downhill for an added bonus.

My fitness level has increased, allowing my body to become accustomed to high mileage day after day after day. While noticing how things were coming together and that my body was aligning with the task I keep asking it to do, I began to think about how this touches on a bigger lesson in life.

When we are confronted with a change we want to make in our lives, whether that be adopting a new physical or mental practice or quitting a bad habit, it isn’t going to be easy. Especially in the beginning. But in order to achieve our desired outcome, we must lean into the discomfort or pain and understand that it will get better as long as we persevere. Just because something is hard at first doesn’t mean we should run in the other direction. Our body and mind will adapt to what we ask of it, but not without a fight. I’m coming out on the other side of what has been an uncomfortable, hard, and at times miserable month.

When the going gets tough, embrace it and don’t back down. It will get easier, and you will come out the other side a better person. I’m sure I’m not done feeling uncomfortable or in pain, or tired, or miserable. But right now I’ve hit a high spot, and I think a lot of that is because I have faced hard times out here.

Right now, that’s a victory. I feel really strong heading into the next month and a half of this long run.

Oklahoma has some hills and turns in the road, which is nice. I’ve been seeing mostly fields and tractors but not a lot of traffic. I was supposed to do 45 miles but went ahead and did 48 miles because I was feeling so strong. It was nice to do extra mileage and still finish an hour before sunset.

Having completed 30 days sounds big and I like that.

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I’ve been collecting things each day that I find on the side of the road. Sometimes they remind me of a time and place or a story, other times they remind me of someone, but most of the times they just make me smile. One of the things I’ve been collecting is licence plates. Any time I see one I pick it up. I got a new record today by finding 2 in the first 7 hours of my day!

Today we also changed time zones which makes things feel slightly different. Another small milestone I checked off is that I’m now less than 2,000 miles from NYC! That felt good.

DAY 31:

Day 31 was a lot warmer than it had been recently. It got up to about 85 degrees, which was a drastic change from 2 days ago.

I finished later than I had been due to the major heat today. I took a nap at mile 33 (with only 13 miles left) to rest and recoup from the horrendous heat. Heat makes my feet perspire more which means my feet are getting blisters again.  I will do my best to begin wrapping them in the mornings to prepare better for the heat to prevent blisters. I entered a really weird mental space starting late in the day on Day 31, which only sort of tapered out by the morning of day 33.

DAY 32:

I got an earlier start in an attempt to combat the heat. I noticed I was having a hard time staying present and staying focused.

I just keep telling myself to put one foot in front of the other until I don’t have to put one foot in front of the other anymore (which is about 2,000 miles).


I noticed a lot of wind turbines which makes sense since the day was extremely windy. I dealt with a 20-30 MPH head wind pretty much the whole day. When semi trucks drove by me they caused a wild gust of wind that just about took me off my feet every time. The relentless  head wind really made it hard to get the miles in.

I really hit the doldrums on day 32. Things just became monotonous to an extent I haven’t experienced yet. It felt like Groundhog Day all the time. Although the scenery here in Oklahoma is beautiful, it really hasn’t changed much.

DAY 33:

I got an earlier start than normal because the forecast predicted a pretty bad storm.

I’ve been using a lot of Body Glide on my feet and body with the heat to prevent blisters and chafing.

I had some encounters with wildlife today that I wasn’t expecting. I saw netting alongside the road and found a little bird trapped in the trash. I released it and it flew away uninjured! I also saw a calf who had just been born, the momma cow still had her placenta ! Then some cow friends and later some dogs ran along with me.

I’m up from 3 smoothies a day to 4. My smoothie elixir is: Soylent powder, coconut milk, chia seeds, peanut butter, greens banana, carrots. It goes down so smoothly and helps me feel full and sustained without any GI distress.

Even though every nook and cranny is literally spoken for in the van and camper, the freezer is always reserved for NadaMoo! pints which makes me happy to open and look at all the flavors to choose from at the end of a hard day.


We had to worry about severe storms and tornadoes towards the end of the day today! As the clouds became more ominous, and the rain started to fall, I decided to stop 5 miles short, finishing at 40 miles. I took advantage of my extra non-running time by getting to bed early in a hotel with a tornado shelter.

Despite the last three days being mentally challenging, I have a lot to look forward to right now with friends joining the Transcon in the next coming days and weeks. Jacob Garcia arrived this afternoon and jumped right in with me and Elliott for the last 2 miles!

The big lesson I learned from this funk was about the importance of being present. I really struggled to be present these last few days, and without being present, miles felt like they took hours. Finding my center has me feeling good and present again.

TransCon Recap: Week 3



DAYS: 14 – 22



Wow – what a week it has been. It’s been filled with so many ups and downs, which seems to be the theme out here.

Shelley and Jackie both left so the crew dwindled down to only three people, Chris, Clara and Elliott.

Leaving Flagstaff the route began to get very rural very quickly as I entered the Navajo Nation. The landscape and topography was just absolutely beautiful. The biggest spirit lifter however, was just how friendly the people and the dogs are there. I seriously think I want to come back here and adopt a Navajo puppy because the dogs are a different level of friendly. I also had some very positive and uplifting conversations with the people there and truly felt grateful that I was traveling through on foot. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I had to chat with the people like I did if I had just been passing through as a tourist. I also didn’t realize just how HUGE this sovereign nation is. It is often compared to the size of West Virginia!


I’ve had some pretty low lows this last week coupled with some of my best days as well. I battled blister pain, low energy and homesickness, and then later in the week acute and sharp tendon pain in the top of my foot and outer shin that left me limping and ultimately needing to take a rest day. In contrast, I have also had some of the most energizing days and never thought it possible that after 2 plus weeks of running ultramarathons I would have some days that went just so disturbingly well.

My rest day was hard for me to accept at first. I knew I needed it, but had a hard time surrendering to it and letting go. I felt as though I might be a failure if I fell behind schedule, even though I also knew that I had planned 5 rest days in my itinerary to use as needed. Eventually I was able to let go to a certain extent and just enjoy the rest. I never thought I’d be so content just laying around and sleeping SO MUCH.

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On day 22, I tried walking. Two days prior I had to pull the plug at 14.8 miles and then took a zero mile day to rest. As I began testing the waters with walking the pain came back after only 2 miles. I wrapped the affected area in an ACE bandage and the pain suddenly felt manageable. I knew I could walk on it and it wouldn’t aggravate the injury so I figured I would just walk until dark. I’m on a pretty strict regimen of elevating and icing my leg every 5-10 miles to stay on top of the inflammation.

After about 10 miles of walking I saw three runners in the distance and felt apprehensive. I wasn’t quite ready to interact with people I didn’t know. My head and mind were still trying to figure out this whole leg pain issue and just get through the day. As the three runners got closer I was able to discern that it was Will, Gonzo and Tim! Three of my friends from Colorado! They just showed up from out of nowhere and I was completely stunned!


These three drove 7 hours from Denver to an airbnb the day prior, then drove another hour in the morning to find me! They were super resourceful and used the Strava maps and GPS to find me. My spirits were IMMEDIATELY lifted in their company. God it just felt SO GOOD to laugh and talk with familiar people. The fact that they made such a huge effort to come out for just one day was so touching to me.

My buddies walked 30 miles with me, which allowed me to be able to cover 40 miles for the day. I feel super proud about being able to come back like that. It took me 15 hours and it was quite late when I finished the day, but man, their support and companionship just felt so good. It truly is incredible what friendship can do.

I finished the day without a limp and physically feeling so much better. I don’t know what happened or how, but things feel like they are looking up! Shelley is coming back out here with my mom in a few days and I’m so looking forward to seeing them!

TransCon Recap: Week 2


Day 8






I started day 8 feeling very fresh. I knew I was jinxing myself when I started thinking that I had finally adapted to my new life on the TransCon. Everything was feeling really good though. The first mistake I made was by not studying my elevation profile enough in the morning. The day started off with a beautiful climb up to Oatman, AZ. I assumed after that monster climb I would be heading right back down. Around mile 35, I descended a mountain pass for a few miles, flying downhill but then I started to climb again. I had assumed that it would all flatten out and the last 15 miles would be easy going until my finishing point for the day. But instead, the climb creeped up on me and started as a false flat and turned into a sustained and nagging uphill.

I found myself in pure zombie mode as I kind of hit auto-pilot. My body was moving, but I wasn’t really thinking through what I was doing. Instead of hiking up this 15 mile hillI, I ran the whole way. This decision really blew my energy reserves. In retrospect, I need to always be thinking about the next day, and make sure not to give too much of an effort in any single day. After all, I have to keep doing this day after day after day after day. That evening, I was spent. To make matters slightly more troubling, just as I was finishing up I noticed a new, sharp pain developing on my right shin. Could this be shin splints? If so, I was in for some trouble.

Day 9






On Day 9, I was quick to realize that I was completely zapped from the day before. Compounded with this new pain in my right shin, I had to pace myself very slowly today. To put that in perspective, the 43 miles on Day 9 took me longer than the 51 miles the day before. I didn’t finish until late into the night, and the temperatures had dropped significantly. I felt like I was about to enter a compromising situation. I was really cold and shivering and had an extremely difficult time warming up. Through all this, it became clear that Day 8 had taken its toll and had left me in quite a deficit. Elliott and Jackie spent a lot of time on the road with me, which was really nice. Also, a runner who had been following my route on Instagram showed up to join me early in the day. Shanna brightened my spirits – Thank you for coming out! I also really really need to get a good night’s sleep. I was still waking up every hour incredibly uncomfortable, despite my sleep remedies.

Day 10







On Day 10, it became really clear to me that I had some real issues going on with my right shin. I limped through my 400th mile. Most of the day was spent walking with poles, as running wasn’t really an option. At some point in the afternoon, Elliott suggested that I try on his shoes, which much to all of our surprise not only fit me perfectly, but the 8 mm heel to toe drop (going from a zero drop shoe) and some additional cushion made all the difference in the world. Finally a taste of some relief. We also decided to tweak my sock situation. I took off my crew cut compression socks and tried on a pair of thin ankle socks. The combination of these two changes were the start of my recovery and definitely provided me the mental boost that I needed. Downhill grades were and are still pretty painful, but things were looking up. One thing that really carried me through that day was knowing that Shelley (my new fianceé!) was going to be showing up later that evening.

We stayed at a KOA campground in Seligman, and I got to take a nice hot shower. Though I moved slowly and showering can take a lot of work, it was worth it that night. I was still battling bad aches in my legs and butt when I sleep, and it had been fairly cold outside at night which proved difficult for my muscles to fully relax. This has been incredibly frustrating because I look forward to resting so much!

Day 11







Day 11 was a sleep-in day by accident. Having Shelley around just made it hard to get moving and on the road in the morning. It was cold out, too, which made for an even better excuse to lollygag. Elliott brought us both coffee and porridge around 5:30 am like he usually does, and I slowly got dressed. Seligman, AZ is an interesting town with lots of quirky and eclectic store fronts. Tons of personality. We had a beautiful clear morning, and after I started alone, Shelley joined me for some early morning miles. All of a sudden, we ended up at the interstate (I-40), at a dead end. We thought we had been continuing on Rte. 66, but we had somehow gotten off course. This added 2 miles to the daily total, which may not sound like a lot, but it felt monstrous. Almost the whole day remained on Rte. 66. This road feels like home now! It was a short day (~30 miles), so I was able to really focus on recovery and taking it easy. Jackie had picked up a pair of Hokas the day before in Flagstaff and the max cushion of the Hokas provided some significant relief in the shin. I really needed this right shin pain to go away, but a second inflamed bump appeared and I was starting to get worried. I had begun wearing Elliott’s compression sleeve, icing and elevating frequently throughout the day during short breaks, and using a lot of CBD oil. These small things helped some, but would this shin pain persist and stick around for the rest of my transcon? Some anxiety lingered in the back of my mind about this pain.

Day 12






Day 12 was another short day, only about 30 miles. I feel so lucky that these shorter days are falling around a time when I really need to be focusing on recovery as much as possible. This means, I’m walking any grade that aggravates my shin (mostly downhills). My new Black Diamond poles are absolutely incredible. I had no idea what a difference this new set of poles would make. Jackie had bought some Rock Tape back in Flagstaff and we applied that on my right leg as well. We’re doing everything we can think of. Thanks to everyone out there for sending supportive words. It really helps me to get through the pain and frustrating miles. Skratch has become my lifeline. I don’t even drink water by itself anymore. Soylent is also sustaining me in a way I could only have dreamed of. If there’s one thing I can’t complain about, it’s definitely my nutrition and hydration game. It’s so spot on.

I was a little worried about today’s route, because it was going to be the first time that I would be off of pavement for much of the day. The red dirt road was smooth and soft, and we were so far away from any highway, that I could actually hear the birds chirping. It was such a nice gift. We ambled along near the train tracks – I’m never far from trains. So many trains. We had some great views of the snow-capped peaks outside of Flagstaff and the landscape changed from desert to pine forest as we crested the high point for the day near Holden Lake. I knew we had gotten a hotel room booked for two nights in Flagstaff. I couldn’t wait for that epsom salt bath and possible a good night’s sleep for the first time in 12 days. The soft road and the second day in the new Hokas let me have a practically pain free day. I needed this perfect running day – both physically and mentally.

Jackie, Elliott, and Shelley crewed me today from the Prius, while Chris and Clara took a little time off for themselves. They ran some errands for us in Flagstaff, and we ended up going out for a pizza dinner. I quickly realized, that even though I had finished early and had so been looking forward to pizza, going out to eat is a little much for me. The stimulation and waiting around didn’t appeal to me. The crew and I have so many systems in place that it never feels like we are wasting time. I think tomorrow night we will order takeout from Red Curry, this Thai restaurant that I’ve been dreaming about since I was last in Flagstaff to run the McDowell Mountain Frenzy.

We also stopped by the running store in Flagstaff (Run Flagstaff) and met Nick and Shelly, who convinced me that the Hoka Bondi shoes are the shoes for this project. I picked up some more ankle socks here as well as some Spring Energy gels (Griffin introduced this company to me and it’s the real deal!).

Day 13







I had a GREAT night’s sleep in the hotel room! Oh my god, I couldn’t be happier about that. Day 13 was a later start, because we had to backtrack to Williams, AZ to start my day (about a 35 minute drive from Flagstaff). My crew made me a rock art sign that commemorated my 500th mile. These milestones are important to mark, because for me, the days are just starting to run together. All I know is that I just do this same thing every day. I start out feeling moderately fresh with energy during my morning miles, and then at some point in the later afternoon or evening I will crash, no matter what. That’s my routine. Day after day. There’s no way around it!

This morning I said goodbye to Jackie, my crew chief and nutrition guide. I’m a little anxious what life will be like without her, because I trust everything she tells me to do. She has worked hard to leave behind systems that are easily replicated, and she has “trained” the rest of the crew on all the things she was doing behind the scenes. I am so so grateful for all of the energy she has put into this project. She has become such a good friend to me, and she feels like a sister to me now. I knew today was going to hard for a few reasons: Jackie leaving, a complicated route ahead of me, and a higher mileage day (about 44 miles) for the first time since I started to feel better from my shin splint pain.

Elliott still needed to take some time off from biking and running (nagging top of foot pain), so Shelley ended up joining me for about 20 miles of the route today. There were so many unmarked turns on washed out dirt roads and I definitely would have gotten lost without someone paying specific attention to my route. Much of the route was unsupportable by car, so we had some longer stretches in between aid stops. I’m proud of myself that I stayed on top of my nutrition – Jackie is usually the person that has the easiest time getting me to eat.

If yesterday’s terrain was a glorious, soft, red dirt trail, today’s route was exactly the opposite. Almost the whole of today’s run was on trail and the ground was so insanely saturated from snow melt. There were so many segments that were completely flooded and forced me to bushwhack around essentially small ponds. This really made it impossible for me to find a groove, and I kept rolling my ankle on the rutted out parts. I tried to keep my breaks shorter today because I really just wanted to get the day over with and have another epsom salt bath. Though today’s terrain really sucked, the views were pretty spectacular.

I think I’m getting tired of tofu wraps. I love the original + garlic hummus though. I think I’ll move onto a rice and beans lunch with cilantro and olive oil (and tofu sometimes). Spooning something into my mouth sounds so much more enjoyable to me these days.

Do you think Pringles has ever sponsored an athlete? Hey Pringles! That crunchy/salty is the perfect snack for me!

I’m still figuring out my shoes + sock combos. I have some more Hokas on the way that are EE (extra wide) as I’m battling blisters like crazy. I know it’s just a new shoe thing, but I don’t want this to become a problem, so we are being really proactive about it. I have a little string of about 5 blisters alongside my toe in various stages.

Red Curry in Flagstaff was SO GOOD. I had the Yen-to-fo and a bowl of Tom Kha soup. Hit the spot. Elliott also procured me some hazy IPAs… the guy knows me well!

In general, the last couple of days have just been so much easier. Shorter days, new shoes, improving shin pain, and Shelley being here. Now with her leaving, and Jackie gone, it’s going to settle into a new kind of quiet. I’ll still have Elliott to make me laugh all the time, and Chris and Clara busting their butts while battling severe pollen allergies. But it will be different. I need to get used to frequent changes out here on the Transcon. Every day is so different than the day before. Just when I think I have something figured out, I discover a new obstacle.

Tomorrow is going to be a really long day. 53 miles. Please let me sleep well, please let me sleep well.

My Experience Running with Robbie

I am a lone wolf runner. I also don’t particularly enjoy running. I slip on my Ons, grab my phone, and hope Rich Roll has a good podcast guest this week. I greet the morning sun with a frown and squint out at the ocean as I begin my daily hour-long run in solitude. I have no interest in races (been there, done that), and I’m not training for anything. I would assume, like many, I run for the sake of exercise. I believe it is the most effecient way to get a workout in, and I leave it at that. I don’t expect to take pleasure from the process, but I will admit that I admire those who seem to love the sport and go the distance. It gives me hope that one day I might enjoy my measley seven miles, or perhaps even get the inkling to run another half marathon. This is why I was both excited and dreading my run with Robbie.

As an employee at Switch4Good, the athlete-driven nonprofit partnering with Robbie during this challenge, one could almost say this run was a work obligation. My presence was mandatory, and as the “runner” of the workgroup, it was assumed that I would log a few miles with him. Afterall, this was the kick-off event, Day One of Robbie’s journey, and who wouldn’t want to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime run? I’ll tell you—the lone wolf runners, like me. Can I keep up? Will they be going too slow? Are we expected to talk? Is it weird if I listen to a Rich Roll podcast while running next to Rich Roll (yes, he ran with us that day). And worst of all, oh god there aren’t any bathrooms on the route (to everyone with runner’s trots out there, you know the gravity of this last statement).

Trepidations aside, I decided I was going to do this. Just for an hour, maybe a few minutes more if I felt “truly inspired” by this bearded vegan dude who was doing the impossible (aka running across the entire country in 75 days). After much hoopla at the kick-off event, I shed my Switch4Good windbreaker and we started down the Huntington Beach Pier. The first steps felt light as air. We set off at a 10 minute pace, and I wasn’t used to running so slow. It was heavenly. I made my way up to the pack and enjoyed the synergy of moving with other people. I actually looked out at the ocean and felt some appreciation for the view, opposed to my ususal runs where I am blind to the beauty of my surroundings by my aching legs and grumpy “it’ll be over soon” disposition. I started talking to people and found that I could hold a decent conversation at this easy pace. Side note: while I run alone, I am actually a social person, so it was eye-opening to discover that I could enjoy getting to know other people while also getting my workout in. I met a woman who is training for the Olympic trials in the marathon, a woman with her dog who drove 45 minutes to participate in this run, and a teenager training for the LA marathon. I had my earbuds in, assuming that I’d need to turn on a podcast after the first few minutes of excitement had worn off, but I realized that you don’t need a podcast when you’re part of a pack.

The further we ran, the more people dropped off. It was an out-and-back scenario, so by the time we closed in on mile six, it was down to three: Robbie, myself, and Elliot, who is part of the crew. I had a ride waiting for me, so I had the advantage of not having to run back. Although we were nearing my typical mileage max, I felt good and didn’t think of stopping. Robbie, Elliot, and I were having a good time chatting and getting to know each other. I had assumed that Robbie might not want to talk—he had a long way to go and why waste his energy—but he was upbeat and gregarious, and I didn’t feel like I was annoying him with my slightly breathy banter. A while later, I told the guys I’d stop at the next bridge. Jackie, Robbie’s nutritionist who was riding a bike just ahead of us, said we were at nine miles. The overachiever inside of me put her foot down—I had to run an even 10. We kept going. A few conversation topics later, the wind picked up a bit. I called out to ask for the mileage, and Jackie informed me we had hit 11.6. I’d come this far, might as well go for the half marathon—a distance I had not covered in three years. The guys cheered me on, and I completed my half marathon just as we reached the next film crew stop. A few high-fives were passed around, a picture taken, then we went our separate ways and I went on with my day.


There was no medal. No sprinting down the last leg of a fenced-in route with a crowd cheering you on. No t-shirt, post-race freebies, or snacks. I ended in a not-so-great part of town with a few homeless people walking around, all oblivious to the feat I had just accomplished. But I did it! I ran a half marathon, and I felt awesome. I had no intention of covering that kind of distance, but thanks to the easy pace and commraderie, I was able to complete this mileage without much pain or drudgery.

If you are looking to conquer a mileage milestone, I highly recommend you give it a go when Robbie runs through your town. This is the perfect opportunity to run your first 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, or even 30k. There’s no entry fee, you don’t have to stand forever in a corral with a herd of people waiting for your heat to start, and there’s no time clock or pressure. Just run and enjoy the experience. I can almost guarantee you’ll run farther than you expected, and you’ll get to know some pretty outstanding people along the way.

As for me, I’ve been on a half marathon kick. The next weekend, I went out for my typical run and ended up running 13.8 miles. I think this half marathon Saturday is my new thing (but please don’t hold me to that). I personally experienced what Robbie has set out to do: to inspire people and launch them into action. As a plant-based athlete, I already know that people can do incredible things on a plant-based diet…I just didn’t know that I could, too.

TransCon Recap: Week 1


Last night I watched a video from Day 1 of me with a guy that I met at mile 16, running on the bike path just outside of Los Angeles. Now, only a week later, I feel so different from the me in that video. I already feel more weathered, more accomplished. Essentially like a different person altogether.

The way things have been going really aren’t too far off from how I expected. However, I never thought I’d poop so much, never thought I’d see so many trains, and definitely didn’t think sleep would be so hard.


The arc of exhaustion has been interesting. Heading into Barstow on Day 3 was probably the lowest point. It was weird. I felt like I was in a drug stupor or having a bad trip. I’ve never really hallucinated on a run before, but the sheer exhaustion I was experiencing created a mind altering effect.

Day 4 brought the biggest surprise of the week. Early on in my day, I came upon a marine base that I was unable to pass through until we got the higher ups involved. This took about 45 minutes, and I lost some precious morning weather. this was the first time my path was being impeded. The part where the guard just said, “Nope, you can’t go here,” still sometimes replays in my head.

After the gift of a short day on Day 5 with only 28 miles, I was able to get some much needed rest. This rest allowed my body to recover and gain some fitness back. I feel like I’m now entering into an adaptation phase, or maybe just learning to do this better. I’m learning how to deal with my aches and pains and starting to refine my process. At first, I didn’t quite know how to handle the incredible aches and I was caught off guard, but now I feel like I’m managing it. The crew and I are becoming a much more efficient team together. The last three days I feel like I’ve recovered really well, and I think the vitamins and supplements are helping.


The first few days were filled with so much energy and so many people. I was surrounded by many like-minded people and the support was surreal. And that support continued into Barstow where we had interactions with people like Damont (See video below). This contrasted dramatically in the desolate vacuum of the Mojave Desert where I really didn’t interact with hardly anyone.

I feel more prepared for every day. Getting up in the morning feels less daunting and I think to myself, “Ok, this is who I am and this is what I do.” I have learned to REALLY appreciate sleep (mid-afternoon naps are absolutely amazing). When I get good rest it means I get to start each new day with a fresh start, which goes a long way for me mentally. At the end of the day, when I’m totally beat, at least I now know that after eight hours of rest/sleep I will wake up feeling replenished and ready to go again.


It’s wild how easy it is to consume 7,500 calories. I don’t feel heavy at all. It goes in and then it’s just gone.

If I could’ve told myself one thing last week before I started it would have been to focus on recovery more, to think about and plan for recovery. As I mentioned earlier, I’m getting a better handle on it now, but it has been the biggest struggle so far. I have so much gratitude for the crew and how they have been there to help me with everything. Overall, I am amazed at how well everything is working.

The magnitude of my weekly mileage is pretty wild. The fact that I’ve put in 297 miles in a week is astounding to me. I used to get my jollies if I got in a 100-mile week. And it wasn’t that long ago that I used to think a 100-mile week was insurmountable. But now, I’ve run almost 300 miles in seven days! If I ever doubted myself as a runner, I now feel like I can confidently call myself an endurance athlete. Everything feels doable. Breaking up this huge event into one day at a time allows me to focus on the present moment in manageable bits. This means I’m not really thinking past the next day ahead of me. I’ve sliced this project up every which way… by state, by cumulative miles, by daily miles, by steps, by the next time I see my crew.

I didn’t expect for people to be so supportive online. I imagined that maybe eventually my project would gain some traction and momentum, but that immediate spark right off the bat has been huge. Thank you to the powers-that-be for making that happen in the social media world. I am so appreciative of all the comments and messages sent to me on social media from friends, family and random strangers. It is truly humbling. I check messages in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Having so many positive supportive people encouraging me from all over the world carries my spirits. I miss Kasha, my dog, and Shelley, my new fiancée.

The commitment of my crew is humbling as well. I didn’t realize how much I would rely on everyone psychologically and emotionally. While I’m out here I feel so incapable of doing anything other than running. I’ve always been so fiercely independent and now I depend on others for so many basic things. It feels so good to trust in people and let others take care of me. This whole team mentality is a brand new concept for me. I feel so incapable outside of this one thing (running), and having other people filling all the other holes makes me feel so grateful and also so good. This transcon run truly is a full team effort, and I strongly believe it would be impossible without every single person who’s invested time and energy into making this a reality, however large or small the contribution has been. I couldn’t do 20 miles back-to-back every single day without a crew. It’s really nice to experience this warmth and trust when I’m feeling so vulnerable. I’ll be more inclined to ask for help after this and trust in others’ generosity.

The random interactions have been a big part of my motivation. People are genuinely so supportive. When someone tells me that I inspire them, it lifts me up. The feeling is actually so mutual, because meeting so many supportive and curious people inspires me to keep going. It has been a true blessing that not one single person has been a naysayer about this run or its mission.

Truck stops aren’t as bad as I expected and Walmarts are pretty plush – never thought I’d say that in my life.

I told Jackie (crew member and nutrition guide) I wouldn’t need to see the crew every 5 miles. I thought every 10-15 miles would be enough. She pushed me to start with every 5 miles and then we could adjust if it felt too frequent. I am surprised by how dependent I’ve become on seeing my whole crew every 5 miles. Not only for gear, hydration and nutrition, but also for emotional support. It’s something to look forward to.

It’s been pretty fun to get to know Elliott. He is a random stranger who I met a few weeks prior to the start of the run in an internet cafe in Mexico. In a quick gesture, we invited him to join us in L.A., and he said, “OK!” and that was that. He is now such a huge part of the project, and obviously became part of the family immediately. It’s been an interesting process for me to notice. I didn’t know what it would be like to be in close quarters with someone I didn’t know all that well, especially during the first 5 days when I was physically falling apart. That would be something that I would have labeled, “outside of my comfort zone.” When I’m feeling vulnerable, I like to be either alone or with a very small group of people I’m close to. But Elliott has been such a bright light and beacon of positivity. I can’t imagine going through those first 5 days without him helping me through. I really liked that experience.

I really like having my Sierra Nevada beer at the end of the day.

I wish the shower was a tad bigger, but having a shower with hot water is pretty nice!

Someone should probably name my big blister.

Compression is a beautiful thing.

Elevating my feet is important.

Wow. The Mojave desert is AMAZING. Route 66 is incredible and needs to not be forgotten. We tumble along on the interstates all the time. I’ve been doing it for 15 years myself and we miss so much this way. These little towns sprinkled along Route 66 are fascinating and all it would take is for people to slow down a bit and they would get to experience them. They are quickly fading away and becoming ghost towns though, which is sad.

Passing the cyclists from Cancun on day 6 was REALLY wild. It felt so strange and so matter-of-fact to encounter others who were also crossing a huge distance not in a motorized vehicle. They are riding from Cancun, Mexico to Los Angeles, CA!


I’ve thought about Björn a bunch while I’m out here. I wonder where he is and how he’s doing. I’ve thought about what it would be like to do this solo. It would be a whole different ball game. This setup with a crew and support vehicle is really good for me. If I had embarked on this solo I wouldn’t have had a set timeline and maybe would have been more of a drifter.

Massages are gooooood.

Soylent is the shit. Literally. I am completely in awe that I’ve never once felt full and that I’ve consumed roughly 7,500 calories daily. I cannot imagine consuming that amount of food on a carnivorous diet. I know I would feel terrible afterwards. The regularity of my BMs has also been incredible on this plant-based regimen.

Every single day I’ve thought about how Rich Roll showed up at my start. I speak about it in awe to my crew daily. He’s so quintessentially “the guy.” This really helped me start off with a lot of confidence that what I’m doing is impactful and important. He hits all the pillars of someone who lives consciously. He is a compassionate, plant-based, endurance athlete, and epitomizes everything that I strive to be. As a public figure, I questioned if indeed he would be all that I have idolized him to be in real life. After spending an hour and a half running with him it all seems to be true – he really is just a great guy.


The people we’ve met along the way and had the opportunity to talk with about plant-based diets don’t seem too unfamiliar with the concept. It seems like veganism isn’t such a fringe thing anymore. People know it’s coming. I can feel it in the social consciousness – I can feel it bubbling up.

When I was running through Barstow my thoughts became a bit cynical. I ran by a small, local diner, and I remember thinking to myself, “There’s no way there’s anything vegan there.” In the first window there was a big sign that read, “Burgers,” in the second window the sign read, “Pasta,” and in the third window there was a large poster that read, “Vegetables, vegan.” I was really taken aback, especially considering the look of the town I was in. Moments later I arrived at the Walmart parking lot (the home for the camper that night) only to see the videos of the security guard interacting with Chris and Clara being inspired to give veganism a try. This is what it is all about and these conversations are happening organically, all the time.

I couldn’t be more moved by the amount of people who are giving a plant-based diet a chance, or by those who are going out for their first run in a long time. It keeps me going.

TransCon Recap: Days 1 & 2

The past 3 days have been an incredible whirlwind. Beyond hitting my 100 mile-milestone, I have been settling into the TransCon life and learning more about my body, mind, and general daily flow. Every day, every mile, is a learning experience. I am going to do my best to get my daily thoughts added to the blog, but bear with me if I miss a day. I will always have in-the-moment updates on my Instagram. Thank you all for the support so far, this is only the beginning and it has been more than I could ever imagined and we are only on DAY 3!

Day 1


Not with a bang, but with a huge group of amazing people (including Rich Roll and the Mayor of Huntington Beach?!)

I was appalled at how many people came out to support me as I took my first strides towards New York City. There was an INCREDIBLE special guest….RICH ROLL. In case you don’t know who he is, you can learn more here. I am still beside myself over it and can’t believe I got to run the first few miles with this legend!

Additionally, we were surprised to learn that a few families had been following our story and showed up to meet us at the dock on Huntington Beach. Then, to my surprise AGAIN, the MAYOR of Huntington Beach also showed up and gave a speech thanking us for choosing HB to begin the run! What a cool experience. I can’t express how grateful I am to have all these wonderful people showing their support and showing up to see me off.

The miles today were mostly flat on a pedestrian path, something I need to get used to since I’m accustomed to steeper climbs in Colorado. The midday heat got real and I was excited to have Daniel Nicholson, CEO of NadaMoo!, come and run some miles with me. My crew has been amazing and tomorrow is a new day with new miles.


Day 2


Day #2, Coyote sighting #2… Good omen?

Today was a really good day. There was a ton of climbing, which was a nice change from yesterday. It allowed my legs to work new muscles and the views were fantastic. This was day 2 of a coyote sighting. One ran with me for a bit at around mile 10. It feels like a good omen. Overall physically, I felt really great. Mentally, I felt strangely loopy. I’m interested to see how my body and mind continues to change as I move across more miles. Tomorrow, I will be sure to take a midday nap to help with recovery and energy.


The Transcon: T-minus 1 day


Tomorrow morning at 7:30am I will set out from the Huntington Beach Pier to begin my run across the United States.

It’s amazing what can happen in one year. A year ago today, while on a morning run, I made the decision to take on this monumental feat. From that moment on essentially all of my energy and bandwidth has gone into making this dream a reality.

It’s amazing to sit here now and reflect on all of the triumphs AND defeats it took for me to get to this perfect time and place.

Initially, I never imagined that this project would require such determination and such thick skin. One of the biggest challenges I faced was finding others that wanted to join and support me in this endeavor. Yet despite all the setbacks and doors slammed in my face, the most amazing partnerships and team that I could have ever asked for has emerged.

I can’t thank those enough who have been there for me since Day One, as well as those who have risen to the occasion to help me along the way.

Thank you first and foremost to my fiancé, Shelley, for constantly having my back, helping me draft email after email, being my sounding board, dealing with my frustrations due to setbacks, and loving me all the way.

Thanks you to Daniel Nicholson, the CEO of NadaMoo!, for taking my call, hearing me out about my plan, believing in me, and giving the go ahead for NadaMoo! to provide the resources needed to make this run a reality.

Thank you to Max Haimowitz and the rest of the NadaMoo! marketing team for becoming my partners in crime and working diligently to help create a platform and narrative to help bring my mission into focus.

Thank you to my mom for raising me right. For teaching me to never back down and to follow my dreams.

Thank you to Jackie, Chris, and Clara for being the heart of my crew. They have taken months of their time, resources, and efforts to support me on the road. Without their support I would be completely lost and would in no way have the confidence or framework needed to take on 3,200 miles.

Thank you to Jamie and John for being there in real-time as I went through ups and downs. Our pho dates and dinners at home were some of my favorite distractions.

Thank you to our newest partner, Dotsie Bausch, and her Switch4Good team for coming onboard. Having such an A-list of anti-dairy athletes behind me gives me so much strength, confidence, and a like-minded community that I didn’t have before.

Thank you to Steven Dilley for always being my friend, helping me to develop as a man while together creating such an amazing community at Bufalina Pizza, and for lending me the company van that will act as my home (and tow our camper) as I make my way across the country.

And thank you to everyone else who has been there to lend a hand, be a sounding board, and dedicate time out for their lives to join in and help crew me on the road – there are so many of you that I can’t wait to see on the road!

If you truly believe in something chase it. Chase it with all the determination and vigor you have. Create a plan and ask for help when you need it. Never back down and never give up. Eventually the universe will conspire to help you succeed.

Now, all of the pieces are in place. There’s nothing left to do but do it. One foot in front of the other for the next 75 days.

Please join along as I show what is possible on a plant-based diet as I cross the country day after day, from Huntington Beach, CA to Battery Park, NYC.

Robbie’s 3200 mile nutrition plan.


Nutrition Plan for Robbie’s Transcon    

Robbie’s nutritional needs are at the forefront of his planning and will be critical to his success in his transcontinental run across the United States. He has chosen to not only fuel himself with purely plant-based foods, but to also use his run as a platform to have conversations with others about the importance of healthy eating, caring for our planet, and making ethical choices. So what does this incredible plant-based endurance athlete need to eat to keep him going?

As an aspiring plant-based nutritionist, I will be guiding Robbie in his endeavor to accomplish this goal as a plant-based athlete. His caloric needs are monumental. He will need to be consuming between 4,000 and 10,000 calories per day! The average person consumes about 2,000 calories per day, so double, then triple that and you have Robbie’s baseline caloric needs – PHEW! He will start off gradual (at maybe 4,000-5,000 calories a day) and ease his body and metabolism into overdrive. We predict that he will likely be consuming close to 10,000 calories regularly in the last month!

Robbie will eat a LOT of carbohydrates – both slow and quick sources. In a typical whole foods plant-based diet, as long as you are getting the amount of calories you need to survive (i.e. not malnourished or have an eating disorder), it is actually impossible to be protein deficient. There are a variety of studies that show that too much protein can be detrimental to an athlete’s performance, so we will not be hyper focused on the ever spreading myth that he might not be getting enough protein. Instead – we will ensure he is getting enough plant-based varied calories, high in carbohydrates, knowing that protein and other nutrients will automatically fall in line. It’s all in the food!

Robbie’s Typical Daily Nutrition:


Robbie will start his day with a normal sized but hearty bowl of oatmeal. He’s not a typical right-out-of-bed eat breakfast kind of guy, but eating first thing in the morning before he starts to run is important. It will help with replenishing and fueling his body for the day ahead of him and get his bowels on a nice routine. In extreme endurance events like this it is not unusual for an athlete to wake up in the middle of the night hungry – so I guarantee that Robbie will become a breakfast LOVER by the end of the Transcon (as well as have a bar or two at his bedside in case he gets the midnight munchies).

Oatmeal recipe: oats, water, peanut butter, chia seeds, banana, raisins, and a dollop of maple syrup. (606 calories)



While he is running, Robbie will be consuming small amounts of food every 45 minutes – 1 hour. Bobo’s and Thunderbird bars (~250 cal per bar) will be his go-to snacks on the run, packed with whole food ingredients. He will also use gels (80-100 cal) and chews (160 cal) for quick energy in the afternoon or as he gets more tired to prevent bonking (or crashing). We are planning for an average of 3 gels per day and one chew pack. Quick sugar and carbs help athletes maintain a high level of activity after hours of work.

Robbie will also consume some whole foods while running. This running snack will likely become more critical as the days compound and his hunger and calorie needs increase throughout. His running snacks will be simple, portable, but high carb energy sources. Tacos and potatoes will be staples (listed below), and we will also create some portable snacks for variety and fun adapted from The Feed Zone book, by Skratch Labs. Many recipes are highly nutritionally dense with the endurance athlete in mind, are already vegan or can easily be made vegan, and are portable for ease of carrying. I learned how to make some of these recipes from my cycling team last year at our training camp and they were AWESOME on those long rides! I’m super excited to practice these recipes and make some on the road for Robbie. Special shout out to a mentor of ours, Carroll Voss, for sending us the recipe book!


–      Bean Taco: tortilla & refried beans (340 cal)

–      Potato: cubed and boiled + salt (163 cal)

Electrolytes will also be paramount. Robbie has experienced cramping in the past and has found taking salt tabs while running through the heat of Texas to help prevent cramping. He will take salt tabs as well as consume Skratch, an electrolyte powder with carbs/calories throughout the day (~320 cal per day). It will be critical to consume as many electrolytes as possible as the temperature warms up as we inch our way towards summer.

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Hydration is immensely critical to any athletic performance (and just in general), so Robbie will be consuming tons of liquid. Because his calorie needs are so great and the amount of food he will need to consume to meet those caloric needs is so much more than our bodies are used to (and more than he could probably eat, chew and digest), he will need to drink as many of his calories as possible. By consuming smoothies two times a day, he will not only get constant hydration, but also consistent and easy to digest calories that are gentle on the digestive system.


He will have a smoothie in the morning and another smoothie in the afternoon. Depending on how his pace is and how his mileage is coming along, it is likely that he will consume parts of his smoothie during breaks and not all at once. In sustained activity such as running 40 miles a day, or exercising for 8-12 + hours per day, nutrition is more of a constant input and less about large sums of food all at once three times a day. Robbie will be consuming calories pretty consistently to prevent bonking and try to maintain weight.

Smoothie Recipe: Soylent (vegan meal replacer powder with a lot of calories, vitamins and carbs), banana, chia seeds, peanut butter, kale or spinach, carrots, coconut milk and water. (1,215 calories per smoothie).



Robbie will break up his run into two parts: a 20ish mile section first thing in the morning and another 20ish mile run in the afternoon/evening to finish up the miles for the day. Breaking up his running will allow for more recovery time, which is critical to be able to push your body and muscles again. He will also have a chance to load up on a high calorie lunch and a potential for a 30-60 minute nap depending on how the day is coming along.


When he takes his lunch break, he will consume a very large sandwich, or what we like to call a “vegan banh mi.” Most of the ingredients are not calorically dense, but having fresh veggies will provide some whole food nutrients and health to his diet. The biggest source of calories is the whole wheat baguette (960 calories, mostly carbs), along with hummus, avocado, and/or vegan sliced cheese for fat and protein (each about 200 calories).

Vegan banh mi recipe: Large (12 inch) whole wheat baguette (or sliced whole wheat bread for fewer cals in the early stages), sliced and pan fried tofu, hummus, cucumber, cilantro, sprouts, avocado, & optional vegan cheese slices. (1,650 calories).



Robbie’s dinners will usually comprise of pasta, veggies, and olive oil or beans, rice/quinoa and tortillas. He will also eat dehydrated camp meals from Outdoor Herbivore as they are packed with calories, provide variety, made with whole foods and don’t have a bunch of scary additives. These will also be really easy and quick for the crew to make for him (just add boiling water) to serve him right when he’s done (as he will be hungry!). Each Outdoor Herbivore meal is high in carbs and are all over 1000 calories (he will eat a double serving)! We will also add coconut milk and tortillas to the meals to sneak in more calories as his calorie needs increase throughout the transcon.


Outdoor Herbivore meals:

–      Chickpea Sesame ‘Ghetti

–      Pesto Presto Matchsticks

–      Pea-Nutty Matchsticks

–      Lemongrass Thai Curry

–      Lickety-Split Lentils

–      Basil Walnut Penne



Since calories are the name of the game on the transcon, and Robbie needs to consume more than any of us can possibly imagine in a day to maintain his pace, energy and muscle recovery, he will also indulge in treats and fun food. NadaMoo!, has been such an awesome sponsor for him in prepping for the transcon, and what better source of fun, cruelty free, treat than a pint of dairy free ice cream to end the day with!


There will be no shortage of NadaMoo! ice cream along the way and there will even be some for the crew and those we meet en route! Other fun foods include beer, chips or crackers, eating out at fun vegan restaurants we find along the way, and other vegan snacks that will add to his calories. These items are not planned, as fun things are often spontaneous! SO much planning has gone into the transcon, and some parts need to be left to the unknown – to mindfully be open to the present moment and all it offers.

TransCon Recap: Week 4



DAYS: 23 – 28



I can’t believe it has been 4 weeks! Wow. The passage of time and days really feel different out here.

I feel like this last week began a new chapter for me. After my rest day and a day of walking I was surprised to find myself jogging on day 23. I started out with the flats and then slowly worked in running some of the slight inclines and descents. It felt SO good to be running again – both physically and mentally. Injuries are not only super painful, but can really creep into one’s mind.


Each day this week my leg injury seems to be healing and I seem to be moving better. I have also been ramping up from 40 mile days back to 45 mile days. I have had some low motivation at times, and the mornings seem to be especially difficult in terms of getting going, but Shelley always reminds me that once I get moving, things start to get better. It’s true. After a few miles in the morning I seem to feel more energized than I did. Sometimes the hardest part is just getting started.

Day 25 was special as it was the first full day Shelley and my mom Paige were out there. Max and Luke from NadaMoo! came out for a brief stint as well this day. I also had a very nice surprise visit from a friend, Christopher, who lives in Santa Fe. He was able to track me down and run some miles with me! It was so fun having so much support out there and at one point we were a pack of 5 runners!

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Day 26 was pretty epic. I crossed the 1000 mile mark and also crossed the highest point in terms of elevation of the whole transcon. We got up to 9,000 feet after Taos and up in that mountain pass we were in the midst of a crazy blizzard! After descending from the pass the weather calmed down some but I’ve still had some pretty snowy and cold times. I’m so grateful for my Black Diamond winter layers as they are keeping me dry and warm and I feel I have all the right equipment for these colder temperatures. The wind got up to about 35 MPH during the blizzard, but luckily it was a tailwind a majority of the time.

The 20 miles of downhill in the Cimarron Canyons combined with the tailwind made for a pretty pleasant end to my day. Unfortunately I ended the day pretty late for the second night in a row. Sleep deprivation creeps up and it worries me. I’m trying to keep my breaks during the day shorter so I don’t fall into too much of a sleep deficit.

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On day 27 my mom rode the bike alongside me for a lot of the day. Having Shelley and my mom out there was so nice and I was anxious about them leaving. But as it turns out, after our goodbyes on day 28, I was able to have one of my best days yet. I moved well and made very good timing. Getting started in the morning was the hardest part, but overall I feel really good about this week.

The injuries are healing, my energy ebbs and flows, but for the most part is improving, and each day still brings new challenges and insights. I’m learning I REALLY love Spring Energy gels. They sustain me in a way other gels with refined sugar do not and I don’t experience the spikes and crashes with this type of gel.

Tomorrow I will cross into Oklahoma! Each one of these milestones is so important for me!

5 Favorite, Quick, and Easy Plant-Based Recipes

Chana Masala

This was a favorite of mine before I even made the transition to a 100% plant-based diet. We usually toast some mustard seeds along with the cumin seeds at the beginning of the recipe and add several bunches of spinach into the simmering stew just before serving.



Tofu Scramble

I will pretty much throw any vegetable from the fridge into this quick scramble and I will go out of my way to make sure I have some mushrooms lying around.



Lentil Mushroom Burgers

This has been a hit when we host larger dinner parties, or if we know we have a busy week ahead and need to heat something up quickly for lunch or dinner. I like this recipe more than most other lentil burger recipes because of its mustardy and complex flavor profile.



Vegan Pad Thai

Adding mushrooms and broccoli to this dish is a must for me.



Vegan enchiladas

Doubling or tripling this recipe essentially takes just as much time as making a single batch, so we usually make a lot of these at a time as well. We usually keep the black beans on the side, as we like the way they taste with the brown rice. We also always make sure to have plenty of fresh cilantro for garnishing. We either leave out the cheesy component completely or substitute with a vegan cheese.