Women On Okinawa Trails and the People that Love them

This week’s post is from one of our supporters, a fellow trail and ultra runner and all around good guy, Dana Demer.


I didn’t realize on my first WOOT run how much “W” there was in WOOT.  I was flamboozled into a run by my wife, but didn’t make the connection until I realized I was only one of three guys on the run.  Although my first name is uni-sex (I am a male “Dana”) I was welcomed with open-arms into my first WOOT run.  The first thing that was apparent was the positive energy that surrounds the group and all that partake in its activities.  It is contagious, but leaves you mentally refreshed.  I enjoyed the run, finished in the top three for males, and had a great time at the after party.

O'Connors having a great time on Spider

Top three male making his way with his teammate and wife around Spider Alley.

WOOT is “Women who love to seek out and develop close friendships while doing what we most love doing – running!” Or actually “Women Out On Trails”. They have a desire to share their love of running with as many women as possible, and hope to provide useful training tips and inspirational stories to help both new and advanced runners stay motivated with their running goals.

The beauty of WOOT is there such a wide spectrum of women in the running group that range from competitive and serious runners to women who simply want a day out on the trails with other women.  Some run, some walk, and some trot, but all are celebrated equally as they finish.  Discussions on the trail range from running gear to recipes and travel tips, and everything in between, but never negative.  These are women who enjoy being around other positive ladies on beautiful trails, and together they exude massive amounts of positive mojo.

making W’s wherever WOOT goes

WOOT in Okinawa exposes runners to some of the more beautiful, yet obscure locations on the island.  Many trails summit with breathtaking views (sometimes breathtaking from the views themselves, and sometimes breathtaking in the trail to get to these views!)  I have not encountered any trail that is overwhelming, but some of these WOOTer’s put me to shame. Runs are mostly on weekends, but some of the women meet up on or off base during lunchtime to get a quick run in.  Times vary mainly to avoid the hottest parts of the day.  Anna and Jesse, the organizers, take great care in pre-run preparations for each and every run.  They are usually pretty muddy and sweaty by the time the rest of the WOOT group show up.

I’m not invited on every run, some runs are exclusively “W”, and I’m ok with that.  My wife always comes back tired, yet rejuvenated and looking forward to the next run.  Completion of certain runs are tracked by silver charms for certain trails, a spider for the Spider trail just east of Maeda point, a snake for the Habu trail on Futenma, and most recently a princess crown for a relay trail race at Mt. Ishikawa.  These become a source of pride among the ladies.

For further information, please check out their website at http://www.runwithwoot.com, or their Facebook site at:Women on Okinawa Trails. The FB website has tons of wonderful information from gear, to recipes, to great trails waiting to be explored.  Better yet, grab your trail shoes, something to drink and eat, a towel for your car seat, and come join a wonderful group of women, and sometimes the people that love them.

–Thank you, D and to all the men for supporting us!! Pencil charm it is!

The footnote “1” is the webpage “About

Honey Bran Rock Cakes

Jannine Myers

This week’s recipe came about out of necessity – well, sort of. I had a few bags of various types of flour in my pantry, and all almost empty. Rather than dispose of them, I decided to combine them all and bake something that I thought I might like; the end result was what I have decided to call my “honey bran rock cakes.”


Have you ever had savoury rock cakes by the way? With cheese and onion soup mix? They’re delicious! But these honey bran rock cakes are not bad either, and if you’re into healthy then these are definitely the better choice. Made with a good-tasting honey (I used Heavenly Organics Himalayan Raw Acacia Honey), and Bob’s Red Mill Wheat Bran, these semi-sweet rock cakes are great for those of you looking for a healthy snack with a little extra fiber.


1/4 cup brown rice flour

3/4 cup gluten free all-purpose flour

1/2 cup gluten free whole wheat flour

[Note: this recipe is not intended to be gluten free – I just used gluten free flours because that’s what I had left in my pantry; the wheat bran obviously contains gluten]

1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill wheat bran (or any other brand)

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup honey (your choice)

1/4 cup coconut oil (I actually used a little less than a 1/4 cup)

1 egg

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk



Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix milk and bran and let sit for at least 5 mins.

Combine coconut oil and honey, and melt in microwave.

Sift together the flours, baking powder, and baking soda.

Combine flour mixture with bran mixture, honey mixture, and beaten egg.

Place by teaspoonfuls on a greased baking sheet.

Sprinkle with shredded coconut and sugar.

Bake approximately 10 minutes.

Allow to cool before serving.

Your Runs Are Helping Others

Jannine Myers

This is just a short post to update you all on some of the things that have been going on behind the scenes with your WOOT administrative team, and it’s also a chance to say “Thank You!”

Those of you who have been members of WOOT for some time now, know how much we like to give back to the community, and thanks to you we’ve been able to keep the momentum going. Because of the awesome response and participation in various events such as the “WOOT Charm” runs, and the “Suck It Up Princess Relay,” we were able to raise $500 within a relatively short period of time. Last week, we decided to donate that money to a sweet baby girl named Noa, from Urasoe City, who desperately needs a new heart (please read about her story here)


Our next project involves a collection of gently-used clothing and shoes (and candy), followed by a visit to one of the many orphanages in Okinawa. Your donations so far have been much appreciated, but we’d also love for you to consider joining us when we visit the children. Sadly, research shows that the majority of children who are placed into orphanage homes do not receive adequate personal and/or loving attention, and consequently suffer from stunted development and learning abilities. So let’s pull together and spend a day with a group of children who I’m sure will likely value the time we spend with them, far more than any material items we deliver to them.

Watch the WOOT Events on our Facebook page for details of our scheduled visit……..

Choc-Blackberry Coconut Chia Slice

Jannine Myers

This week’s recipe is one that I stole from Real Food Healthy Body, although I had to modify it since I had slightly different ingredients on hand than those called for in the original recipe. The recipe caught my attention because I saw it several times circulating around Instagram, and honestly, it looked really good! It’s a chocolate berry chia slice, and even with the modifications I had to make, it’s really delicious!


What I love about this recipe, besides how decadent it is, is that when I worked out the nutrition data and compared it to that of a regular raspberry coconut slice, it’s significantly healthier and lower in fat and sugar:

Regular Raspberry Coconut Slice

  • Caloires – 199
  • Carbohydrates – 25g
  • Total Sugars – 15g
  • Protein – 3g
  • Fat – 10g / Saturated Fat 7g
  • Fiber – 1g

Choc-Raspberry Coconut Chia Slice

  • Calories – 117
  • Carbohydrates – 18g
  • Total Sugars – 12g
  • Protein 1g
  • Fat – 5g / Saturated Fat 3g
  • Fiber 2g

Try this recipe if you’re looking for a less guilty treat; I’m sure it will satisfy your sweet-tooth craving!


for the base:

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup organic unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the berry layer:

[I didn’t have raspberries, but I had a 10 oz. jar of organic blackberry jam, which I used instead, and added less sweetener]

  • 1 x 10oz. jar organic blackberry jam
  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoons rice malt syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin coconut oil

for the chocolate topping:

  • 1/4 cup Hersheys Special Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted


  1. Line a 10 x 16cm container with baking paper or cling film.
  2. Process the base ingredients in a food processor until well combined. Press the mixture into the prepared container and set aside in the freezer.
  3. To make the berry layer, place the jam in a small saucepan over a medium heat. As the jam starts to warm and slowly liquefy, add the chia seeds, water, agave syrup and coconut oil and stir everything together. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer, continuing to stir regularly. The mixture should thicken as the chia seeds absorb the liquid. Once the mixture has thickened into a paste-like consistency, take it off the heat, allow to cool slightly and then spread it over the base. Place the slice back in the freezer to chill.
  4. To make the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring to combine. Remove the slice from the freezer and pour over the chocolate mixture. Return the slice to the fridge for a few hours to set. Once set, leave the slice at room temperature for a few minutes before cutting into squares. [I recommend storing in the freezer, and letting it sit at room temperature for several minutes before eating].

Happiness Jar

Anna Boom

Reading on one of those lists, you know the lists that pop up, “Seven Simple Habits for a Healthy Life” or “How to Make Brownies without Sugar” (it’s not true, do not try this at home), I found one tip that I thought we could use in our running life.

3 Steps for a Happy Running Life”

  1. Save an empty jar, anything will do. When you finish a run, write down one positive thing that happened to you, then put it in your Happy Running Jar. There are days when you are running on water, gliding along like a gazelle, pushing the pace like never before, running the farthest you’ve ever gone. And then there are those days when it really, really stinks and you just don’t even feel like a “runner”. Find one good thing and write something positive anyway: the smell of autumn is fresh, or the sunrise took your breath away, or that you made it out the door, tied up your sneaks and moved forward.
  2. There are no rules to what you add. You found a lovely rock as you tripped down the trail, your child found a piece of stick that looked like a bug. Anything goes!! Keep some scrap paper and pens near the jar so you can easily grab and write before the world zooms back in on you. Origami paper, markers, crayons, you name it.
  3. When you are feeling down, as happens to us all, look through some of your happy moments. Be thankful for all the joy and happiness you can find. These small reminders of your past happiness will bring you back from “the down”. It is a great way to look and see all you have done, all the moments big and small and that it was the journey all along.

If you do make a Happy Running Jar, please share a picture. We’d love to see it and enjoy your journey too.

happy jar


How I Turned from a Wolf to a Turtle

Beautiful story of friendship, provided by WOOT Okinawa Runner/Turtle, Beri Richardt. Thank you for sharing!

the good things in Life!

the good things in Life!

I can’t tell you the exact time when our merry band of runners was formed.

“Do you like pain?” My messages always start out this way. The answer I get back is, “Of course, what time?”. It is astounding how the answer is always the same. If for some reason the promise of pain isn’t enough, positive peer pressure gets their shoes on. It was a long road for me to get to running with other people.

Truthfully, I have never enjoyed running with people. Running was an activity best shared with my iPod and the woods. As a “lone wolf” runner, I could escape life and go at my own pace. I never wanted to sign up for race events because they involved too many people. After having children, I was more amiable to trying new things. After all, kids were a pretty big “new thing” and I liked them. So, why not? This search was more of a Goldilocks story than a Love at First Sight Story. I tried one running group and I always felt like I didn’t quite fit. I went through all the usual motions of lacing my shoes, packing the necessary gear. I would run with them and then leave because we only had one thing in common, running. It wasn’t enough. There was another that I had been Facebook “stalking”. A group that posted 10 to 15+ mile runs through hilly jungles starting at 5am on Saturday mornings. Now, I love my pjs, coffee, and bacon on Saturday mornings so that group just didn’t fit my lifestyle. Oh yeah, and I couldn’t run 15 or even 10 miles. I guess the Lone Wolf was going to have to go it alone with two kids, water bottles, about 25 pounds of their comfort gear all in a compact double jogging stroller. My iPod was now replaced with different tunes such as, “Mommy, I want a snack” and “crying 10 month-old”. The ironic thing was that we got into a rhythm and came to an understanding of sorts. I got my miles in while pushing an 85lb rock on wheels and they knew that I was a much happier person after a run. Maybe I could run with people (as long as they didn’t cry).

I still continued to stalk the other group. The one who ran all the miles in the jungle. Despite being warned by someone else against showing up because I would get left and lost. I decided to put my faith in the GPS capabilities of my smartphone. It was time to lace-up my shoes and see what the fun was all about. Rain came down in sheets the day before. Then turned into thunderstorms during the night. Lightning was still flashing when I left my house at 4:30am for the meeting point. If the run was to be canceled, then I was going to be left drinking my coffee in the parking lot. But, by golly, I was going to show up. I watched the lightning move away as I drove.

I could take you through the details of that run because I remember them vividly. However, I only want to tell that I had this complete feeling of joy. I was not left behind. I did not get lost. I met two funny, kind women who guided me through the trail for over an hour of running up and down a mountain. If slogging around in mud and nature doesn’t bring out the true form of a person, then spiders and snakes will finish job. This was my Goldilocks moment. I found the one that fit just right. A group of accomplished runners who didn’t care that I could run only 4 miles. Only that I liked to run.

I attended more runs and met another runner. Through Saturday runs and a naming of our relay team, we four became the Turtles. Then Saturday runs weren’t enough, we met again on Sundays and during the week. We started running more with yet another group.

the Team!

For us, slow, became not-as-slow. Four miles somehow graduated into 13+. I suppose we could have become faster more quickly, but these runs were about support. Not one of us was ever left behind. If we saw one person struggling we’d just start talking or joking. It’s easier to teach your body to run distance when it’s being tricked by laughter. Positive peer-pressure was a wicked tool employed when someone had doubts or didn’t want to show up. One member of our little group who proclaimed over and over that she “would die if she ran over 6 miles”, decided to run a 9 mile course then promptly signed up for her first half marathon afterwards. For all of us, these runs built the confidence we needed to progress as runners. We all have half-marathons and marathons upcoming. I know our times will continue to improve because we keep doing the miles. More importantly, we have this amazing friendship that we take on the road and on the trails.

on Top of Old Smoky…

Super Nutritious Black Rice and Vegetable Bowl

Jannine Myers

I was really craving a clean and wholesome meal yesterday so I drove over to the local supermarket to choose a selection of fresh produce. I had already put some Lotus Foods Forbidden Black Rice in the rice cooker, and all I had to do when I got home was prepare the vegetables to my liking. Black rice by the way, has more protein and fiber than white and brown rice, and a much higher amount of antioxidants than any other type of rice.

One of the easiest ways to make a fast and healthy meal is to make a bowl of assorted vegetables or fruits, and add some protein. My meal last night ended up being a black rice and vegetable bowl, with a Sunbutter/lemon dressing:


Here’s how you can make this delicious meal:


  • 1 medium yellow sweet potato
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked black rice
  • 1/2 cup any type of bean mix
  • 1/2 cup shredded raw daikon
  • handful of fresh salad greens
  • sunflower seeds
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup Sunbutter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Clean the sweet potato, carrots and broccoli, then cut into bite-size pieces. Place them in a bowl and coat with olive oil and kosher salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil and pour the vegetables on the tray. Bake for approximately 30 mins.
  3. Meanwhile, clean the rice and cook in a rice cooker according to the packet directions.
  4. In individual salad bowls, place a bed of salad leaves in each bowl. Then evenly distribute all the ingredients (roasted vegetables, shredded daikon, bean mix, black rice, and seeds) around the bowl.
  5. Make your dressing by pouring all of the ingredients into a blender and pulsing into a smooth consistency.
  6. Drizzle your salad with a little dressing and enjoy!


WOOT’s First Relay Race – A Huge Success

Jannine Myers

Last weekend I had the good fortune of participating in WOOT’s very first relay race (aptly called “Suck It Up, Princess Adventure Relay), and for the sake of our members who were not able to experience this incredible event, I hope that this post will make you at least feel as if you were there with us.

Our morning began at 5:50am, with racers huddled around at a designated base camp on Mt. Ishikawa, and all carefully taking in last-minute instructions from our race organizer Anna Boom. The event was set up to accommodate nine teams of three runners, and each runner was required to run three short but very challenging trail loops – two of the loops individually, and the third and most technical loop as a team.

Mt. Ishikawa is by no means a huge or intimidating mountain, but many of it’s trail ascents and descents are incredibly steep, and require the use of ropes in order to climb up or down. Furthermore, much of the terrain is rocky and uneven, so careful positioning of one’s feet and ankles was definitely a concern for all, especially since speed was the number one objective for each team.

With everyone set to go, runners were sent out in waves of three; runners from each team left the base camp at exactly 6:15am, 6:20am, or 6:25am, and depending on the chart schedule they each took off towards the loop allocated specifically to their team. As each runner returned to camp, they recorded the clock time on their team chart and then turned in their charts at the end of the race for an official evaluation of overall results.

The entire combined distance of all three loops was actually no more than 6 miles, but due to the technicality and steepness of the trails, as well as the requirement of all team members to run two of the loops individually and at separate times, some of the teams were still out on the course almost five hours later; that didn’t lessen anyone’s spirits however. If anything, the positive vibe that everyone showed up with carried through to the very end.

I think the photos that follow clearly show just how much fun everyone had:


Some of the ladies discussing strategy, others just passing time while their teammates are out running


And off we go on the team loop!

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Grace’s smile says it all!


Two members of the winning team! Their team name, “Run Like Kilian” obviously paid off.

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Group photo of some of the teams – several runners were out on the course unfortunately and missed this photo opportunity

It’s hard to say if I’ll be around for next year’s relay race but if I am, I know it will likely be my favorite race of the year. And for those of you who are here in Okinawa next year, and have the opportunity to participate, I highly recommend that you sign up as soon as registration opens; the team spots will go fast!

Thanks so much to Anna and Jessey, our main event organizers, and to everyone who helped to make this race such a huge success!


Our amazing race organizers – Anna (in yellow) and Jessey (in blue)


A Is For Autumn And Apples

Jannine Myers

It’s Autumn now and along with the obvious seasonal changes such as temperature and length of days, we’re also seeing new fruits and vegetables at the local farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Last week I picked up a bag of fresh green apples, and I couldn’t resist using them to make a spiced apple loaf with chunks of raw ginger.


When I was growing up, I always remember seeing health charts at school and at the doctor’s clinic with a picture of an apple, followed by the caption “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!” If only staying healthy were that simple, but actually, apples do contain many nutrients that make them worth eating on a regular basis.

Here are just a few reasons why apples are good for you:

  • Apples are a low-calorie, high-fiber food; in other words, you can eat apples for a guilt-free sweet snack, and their fiber content will leave you feeling full for much longer.
  • One apple counts for about 1 cup of fruit; the recommended daily fruit intake is around 2 cups for adults on a 2000-calorie diet, so an apple a day meets half the daily fruit requirement.
  • Apples are a great source of immune-boosting Vitamin C.
  • Apples contain quercetin, and interestingly, research suggests that quercetin may help to improve endurance and lead to other fitness gains. The jury is still out but so far the data revealed looks promising. [Read this article for more information]

So even if you don’t feel like chopping up apples for baking purposes, enjoy eating them as they are!



  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose gluten free flour, plus 1 tsp
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash ground cloves and ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup apple juice, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 chunk of fresh ginger, finely chopped (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 cups apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a loaf pan with a little butter.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices to a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. In another large bowl, add the oil and sugar. Using a mixer, mix on medium speed until well combined. Add the egg, agave syrup, apple juice and vanilla, and mix until combined. Reduce speed to low, and gradually beat in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss together the chopped ginger, diced apples, chopped nuts and 1 tsp flour until combined. Fold fruit and nut mixture into the batter.
  5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Place pan on baking sheet, and bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 60-65 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing it from pan and letting it cool completely on a wire rack (although, it tastes best when it’s still warm from the oven).

Book Recommendation: We Run Up!

Jannine Myers

I’ve noticed lately that when I head out to run, I often start to visualize the hills on my route; I see them in my mind before I literally see them. I count them all out, and assess the degree of difficulty of each one. Then, as each hill comes into sight, I start a little mental dialog in hopes of producing a strong and steady surge upwards. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

A book I read recently made me realize however, that my mental approach to tackling the hills is all wrong. For one, I spend way too much time thinking about and anticipating the hills ahead of me; that not only cheats me of a relaxing and enjoyable run but it also makes me vulnerable. Second, I need to embrace the hills and look forward to seeing them; the idea of them may at times be intimidating or unappealing, but I should focus instead on the physical (and non-tangible) rewards that they offer.

We Run Up, written by father and daughter Dennis Reeder and Andrea Sayers, is a fantastic compilation of lessons learned from their weekly hill runs together. I highly recommend this book if you think your thought process – while running – could use a little positive redirection, or if you’d simply enjoy a fresh perspective on the value of hill running, and running in general. Without giving too much away, here are a few excerpts and quotes (my thoughts in blue):

  • “Focus on this moment, this round, and let the other hills take their turn, when it is their turn.” – I love this because I tend to saturate my thoughts with all the hills ahead of me, which is far more overwhelming than focusing on just one hill – or one section of a hill – at a time.
  • The life lesson: “…when you feel crushed under the weight of numerous problems, remember that all these things viewed as a whole can feel very daunting, but when separated out and focused on individually, they will be more manageable and less overwhelming. Problems filled your plate one at a time and can be most effectively removed in the same manner.”


  • “Belief is the catalyst that gets us started and the motor that keeps us moving.” – this is a prime example of how my thought patterns can influence either a successful hill run or one that fails. Allowing even a little doubt to enter my mind can significantly impact my performance. If hills are not new to me, and if I know I am capable of running them, then the only belief I should confidently uphold is that my legs and lungs are strong and hills don’t scare me.
  • The life lesson: “Only my belief can produce the drive and persevering power I need to achieve my dreams…..if we do not believe our dream can come true, then we will not waste our time acting on it. It is when we start acting on our dream or dreams that our belief is demonstrated and things start moving.”


  • “What we overcome is often more important than what we accomplish. It is in the patient struggle of the seed pushing through the soil that makes breaking through a triumph.” – this makes me think of hill repeats, and how I focus solely on the countdown. All I can think about is that final repeat, and being done with the workout; I want it over with, NOW! Maybe I need learn to what it is to be patient and persevering, and to enjoy the discomfort of each aspect of the workout, since the true reward comes not from completing the workout, but from pushing through, repeat after repeat.
  • The life lesson: “Do not let accomplishment become a ‘Holy Grail.'” – joy can be felt throughout life, not just at the moments when accomplishments are achieved. It’s up to us whether we choose to revel in the process, or miss the joy because we’re too focused on getting to the end.


  • “If we always do what we have always done; we will always get what we have always gotten.” – we can’t expect the hills to produce results for us if we run the same hills, with the same strength and speed, week after week after week. 
  • The life lesson: “Like a boat drifting with the current, it is easy to go through life on autopilot, reactively moving through our hills and valleys without realizing that we are drifting off course from our goals. We may find ourselves falling into old conditioned patterns because that is what feels comfortable. Success in life (as in running), comes with focused effort. Where your focus goes, your energy flows – where your energy flows determines your direction. Your direction determines your destination. Your destination determines your quality of life.”

we run up

Great stories and life lessons, as well as beautiful photography throughout! Get your copy now from Amazon.com