Sunday, April 22, 2012

Making Tallow

Good morning!  Just wanted to write up a quick post about my recent purchase from A Better Way Beef. I purchased a mixed box of grass fed, grass finished beef and an additional 10 pounds of suet.  The price was great, $5.35 per pound and the mix included 7 pounds of ground beef, two beautiful shoulder round steaks, some beef short ribs, a nice sized rump roast and a couple of nice sized chuck steaks, and $3.00 per pound for the suet.  They keep the prices low by allowing smaller purchases rather than insisting a customer purchase a whole side of beef.  The cost of a whole side would be prohibitive for me, and that would keep me purchasing commercially produced meat at the grocery stores.  That is just not going to happen again, now that I have found "A Better Way!"

I finally found the extra time to render some of the suet into tallow the last Wednesday evening.
 This is the frozen suet after I removed the amount I need to render the bowl of tallow shown below.

The procedure is very simple and I was amazed at how easy it was to break off chunks of the suet with a sharp knife.

I chopped the chunks into smaller pieces and filled a 13x9x2 baking pan about 1/2 full, then placed it in the oven which had been preheated to 225 degrees F.  I checked on it once an hour, stirring the pieces to make sure it melted evenly.  Low heat and slow melting is the best way to do this, so make sure you have plenty of time on your hands if you are going to give this a shot.  I am thinking it took about 4 hours... Strain in a good stainless steel mesh strainer after you are done.

The resulting tallow is pure white.  Beautiful and probably the MOST stable fat for frying.  As a matter of fact, I fried my eggs in this fat yesterday morning, low heat of course, but not ONE splatter.

I can imagine how tasty the sweet potato fries are going to be!

I will make sure to add progress photos from the next batch I render so you all can see what the chunks of suet look like as they are melting in the pan.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hog's Hunt 25k

Saturday, April 14. Woke up at 4am, made coffee, cooked breakfast for the road and loaded my gear in the car.  Lucky for me, I had company for this trip, my granddaughter, my son, and my nephew.

Granddaughter, Juliana, had never been to a race with me before, though her dad has accompanied me on a couple of occasions.  My nephew, Bill, was running his first trail race, and it would also be the first time he had run more than 10 miles.  We were both signed up for the 25k.

The temps were a little warmer than usual for this time of year, so I cautioned Bill never to leave an aid station with a water bottle that was not topped off, at the same time making a mental note of that fact for myself.

For some reason, I still don't think I have the fueling worked out for these shorter distance events... not sure if I should be mixing fat and protein with the carbs.  It seems I either need to go into them fasted (I do my training runs/walks of up to 10 miles with no fuel and fasted), or fuel with the sweet potato mixture I have come up with for longer events.  Hammer gel mixed with some egg white protein just did NOT get it for me.  I was able to maintain a 12:11 per mile pace all the way to about 10 miles, then the wheels fell off.  I am still not sure if it was due to the heat and high humidity of the improper fueling.  One thing for certain, I did drink plenty of fluids.  Thanks to my friends from H-T Rex, I was able to cool down with 2.8 miles to go by dumping multiple cups of ice water over my head.  Man, did that feel good!

No pr for me this time because the last 5.5 miles were a lot slower than the first 10, but everyone knows you can't PR every time.  3:28 and some change... 42nd out of 80 total females is not bad in my book.

I will add a start and finish line photo a little later.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dinner in a Hurry

Didn't really feel like cooking when I got home from work, so I prepared something simple.

3 free range eggs over easy (cooked in butter from grass fed cows)
about 3/4 cup of roasted root veggies
               (turnips, beets, sweet potatoes roasted in coconut oil with curry powder, sea salt and black pepper)
about 3/4 cup homemade sauerkraut

Saturday at the Park

Since the plan was to go to my sister's house for Easter Sunday, I felt like I needed to get a workout done Saturday.

I was very surprised to arrive at Stephen F. Austin State Park and find a sign stating all the campsites were sold out!  I was only planning to stick around for 2 hours at the most, just to get in a good hill workout, and since I have a state parks pass, I can visit as often as I like without paying a day pass fee.

Here is a map of the trails for reference... I started out at the Cottonwood trail head near the amphitheater.  Just a little way down the trail, the Opossum Loop breaks off to the right and there is a nice little down hill to a bridge over a creek bed then back up the other side of the creek.  As you proceed around the loop, you come to the intersection of the Raccoon Bend Trail. If you turn right, it takes you toward the Brazos river which is still pretty high, and if you make a left turn, it leads you back to the Cottonwood trail, or if you follow Raccoon Bend just a little farther, you can follow the Opossum Loop back to the Cottonwood trail.  None of these cover too much distance, so I chose a sort of figure 8 pattern for a decent 4 mile hill repeat workout.  Each of these trails have a nice little up and down near where they intersect with Cottonwood, so I ran up and down all the hills and walked the flats for recovery... I ended the morning with a couple of miles of easy hiking to check out the Riverbend and Copperhead trails which were both under water my last trip to the park!  Things had dried out nicely and the park staff had mowed some of the tall grass to make the trails more visible.  It was fun to walk along a few downed trees and jump back and forth over them for fun... also walked along the edges of the little bridge over the creek (forward, backward and side to side) to work on my balance... that's when the mosquitoes attacked in full force!

Side note: Thanks for leaving me the Deep Woods Off, Mellody.  Had I not sprayed myself down and rubbed that horrible stuff all over my face and ears, the mosquitoes would have just picked me up and carried me away.  As it stood, they were trying to fly inside my ears to bite my eardrums because that's the only place I didn't spray the Off!!!

I am always encouraged when I see families with their children out exploring the trails at a state park, and Saturday was no exception!  There were families headed out to the river with their fishing poles and families riding the trails on their bicycles!  One little lady was training for a triathlon and her mother had recently completed her first half marathon!

Notes on nutrition... started this workout about 3 hours after I ate breakfast, and find that I don't need any electrolytes or nutrition on walks/runs up to about 2 hours.  Anything longer than that and I use 1 or 2 Endurolytes an hour, and might take along a Larabar or a bite or two of cooked peeled sweet potato in a ziploc bag.  For ultra distance racing or training longer than 2 hours, I have a liquid nutrition drink that is made from sweet potatoes and other stuff... and I make home made Pemmican bars too.  I will post these recipes in a separate blog post.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge 2012

Finally getting around to writing up a race report covering my second go around with the Seabrook Lucky Trail Challenge.  The challenge?  Do a half marathon on Saturday (chip time 2:47:37.3) followed by a full marathon on Sunday (chip time 5:54:57.7).  The reward? Receive an extra special medal for completing both races.  The reason?  Proceeds from the race benefit “The Bridge”; a non-profit organization that assists victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

This race did not disappoint!  I had a great time as usual.  The volunteers are extremely helpful, the aid stations are top notch, the runner swag is awesome… a hat, a pair of socks and a tech shirt that fits perfectly, and the post race food seems never-ending!  The best thing?  My dear friend Mellody decided to come to Texas at the last minute and help me finish out my week long birthday celebration with a bang!

The prelude to race weekend was epic.  I spent the first part of spring break week in Austin volunteering for and attending ThePaleoFX Ancestral Momentum - Theory to Practice Symposium.  I already wrote a blog post about that one… I ended my day Thursday with a fabulous meal at the 24 Diner.  The bunless lamb burger was just what the Paleo doc ordered.  It was a little late for me to be eating dinner, but I had 2 hour drive home ahead of me.  So, I ordered my usual supercharger: quad shot espresso with heavy cream.  When the bartender served it up, he said that should last me til tomorrow night.  Of course, I had to tell him it was my 3rd that day. LOL  Time to head back to my newly found friend Tannifer’s house, pack my car and head home.

I arrived home at around 12:20 am and barely had time to unpack from the conference and then re-pack for marathon weekend, which would also include a Broadway Across America production of Mel Brooks YoungFrankenstein at The Grand Opera House in Galveston.  Mellody’s flight was scheduled to arrive at around 8:15 am, so I really needed to hurry and get to bed.  I looked at my clock and was about to get into bed at 1:36 am, when all of a sudden, I heard a horrible noise outside.  My heart hit my feet and I said “Raymond, oh FUCK, something REALLY big just fell out of the tree in the back yard, and it sounded like it fell on someone’s car.”  I walked to the kitchen window in time to see a large blue flash of light and then watched the lights explode inside the duplex in my back yard.  Pow, Pow, Pow, starting at the back of the apartment, then finally the porch fixture… POW!

We cautiously went to the back yard and the smell of smoke was overpowering, so I called 911 to make sure they were close in case of a fire, then I made all the tenants come outside until I was sure it was safe.  We have a very large oak tree in our back yard… so large that two adults can’t join hands around the base of the tree.  We had a seriously dry summer last year and then lots of rain this spring, so the tree was weakened by the stress and a limb of about 18” in diameter fell on the electric service entrance in the back of the duplex, breaking the ground wire and causing everything in both apartments to blow out.  The amazing thing is that the electric company came right out and reconnected everything on the spot.  I think I finally crawled into bed at about 3:45 am.  Raymond woke me up when he came back in the house at 5am.  

Hahahahahaha… knowing what I know about stress and not getting enough sleep; that probably took a couple of years off my life.

This is certainly not much of a race report, but I really did enjoy the challenge in Seabrook.  The trails are immaculate, and what could be better than spending the weekend with 100’s of your craziest friends?  Well, maybe beating your previous finish time from 2010!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Here are two more home made versions of the famous Larabar:

Apple Pie:
1 cup dehydrated apple slices *
1/2 cup dates
2/3 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger

add all ingredients to a food processor.  process until well combined.  press into a cookie sheet.  refrigerate and cut into bite size bars.  keeps well in refrigerator or freezer.
*Organic Braeburn apples, peeled, sliced and tossed in lemon juice before dehydrating at low temp.

1 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dates
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
2T coconut oil

add all ingredients to a food processor.  process until well combined.  press into a cookie sheet. refrigerate and cut into bite size bars.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Probiotics anyone? Paleo, of course.

Every time I make another batch of homemade sauerkraut, I feel like a superstar.  I get lots of comments on my facebook page when I post the pictures, so why not share the process with everyone!

I bought 2 medium sized heads of cabbage (about 5 1/3 pounds).  I could have used 6 pounds to fill 3 - 1 quart jars and I will remember that next time.

Wash your quart jars and lids in very hot water, let air dry.

Peel the dark green outer leaves off of the cabbage heads, rinsed them off and set to the side, there will be a use for them later.

Cut the heads of cabbage into quarters with a very sharp knife.  Remove the core.  Slice all the cabbage as thick or thin as you like it.  I like to cut mine as if I was making cole slaw.  Divide the cabbage into two large glass bowls and sprinkle 2 teaspoons sea salt over each of them.  Meanwhile dissolve 1 teaspoon of sea salt into about a cup of boiling water.  Work the salt into the shredded cabbage (I use my hands to make sure the cabbage is well mixed).  I started with refrigerated cabbage, so I mixed it around a few times while it returned to room temperature before I started packing the jars.

Start by pouring a little of the salted water into the bottom of each jar.  This will insure that the cabbage does not have any large air pockets that could cause mold.  Pack the cabbage tightly into the jar as you add a little at a time until the jar is almost full.  The cabbage should be fully submerged.  There will be a little liquid in the bottom of your bowl, pour that in the jar too.

Here is where you use the green leaves you saved when you started the process.  Fold a leaf so that it is almost too large for the jar.  Press it down over the cabbage until it is partially covered with the liquid.  That will keep the cabbage where it belongs during the fermentation process, always covered with liquid.

Make sure you place the jars in a container that will catch overflow in case the liquid seeps out of the jar, cover the whole thing with a towel and put it in a dark place.  I put mine in the cabinet where all my large serving platters and bowls are stored, since that one is rarely opened.

In cooler weather, unscrew the lid to vent the sauerkraut every 5 days.  Taste if you wish at this time, then replace the lid.  When it is warmer, I would suggest venting every 3 to 5 days.

You personal taste and the climate in your home will determine the length of the process.

Properly prepared, sauerkraut should keep in your refrigerator up to 6 months.

There are lots of resources on the internet for fermenting vegetables of all kinds... and there are some safety concerns with regard to mold, etc.  I have not had a problem with mold, and I think that is because I make the sauerkraut in a closed jar, rather than the old fashioned way in an open crock.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

PaleoFX12 - The Assignment

Hi! This will be a little different than the usual malvs2walk blog.

I had the good fortune to be able to attend day one of Paleo f(x) Ancestral Momentum - Theory to Practice Symposium in Austin Texas last week. I drove up on Monday just in time to "almost" attend the volunteer orientation tour of the facility where the Symposium was being held - Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium at University of Texas in Austin.

I met lots of my IPMG (International Paleo Movement Group on Facebook) friends and received instructions for the next days volunteer needs. Since I was going to be working the registration table the first two days of the event, Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, I was able to volunteer to help out with the Audio Visual setup (running errands) all day Tuesday. Wednesday I was charged with hauling some precious cargo to the facility. Then, let the packet stuffing begin! We dispensed with 500+ bags of assorted materials for speakers, attendees and volunteers alike in short order! We were ready to greet everyone when they started arriving around 3 pm!

Everyone who "knows" me also knows how much I love my coffee. We were on a pretty tight schedule and the Starbucks that is usually open in the Stadium lobby was closed due to spring break. I don't know Austin proper that well, so was certainly feeling deprived of my caffeine. Someone had directed me to a coffee shop in the Student Union Tuesday afternoon, so as we were finished stuffing the event packets... I headed over there at about 2:30. To my complete dismay, the coffee shop was closed. I was starting to get, shall we say "PISSY", and asked some people on the street where there was a decent coffee shop. They pointed me in the direction of Caffé Medici, right across the street from the campus. Mind you, it was almost 3pm and this would be my first coffee of the day, so I went ALL IN and ordered a 6 shot espresso with some steamed heavy cream. Where are you Robb Wolf. LOL  Anyhow, that was one of the better espressos I had in a long time, and it came with a compliment in the form of a question: "Are you an athlete?"

Back to the conference, higher than a kite, but also focused on the task at hand... get those folks processed and pointed in the right direction!  Everything went smoothly and from what I understand, Dr. Jack Kruse opening remarks Wednesday night were epic!  Wish I could have gone upstairs to listen!  I will be purchasing several of the presentations on DVD when they become available.

Thursday, and let the presentations begin!  The registration tribe leader was very gracious to hold me to only two of the scheduled time slots since I had been helping out an extra day or two, so I was able to see Robb Wolf's presentation, sit in on two important panel discussions and also attend Mark Sisson's presentation.

There are several things I want to touch on.  The first thing is that we all need to be willing to share our experiences with others.  So many people have been saved by Paleo.  It's one of the things I remember Robb Wolf saying at the start of his presentation... that at least 200 people had approached him saying, "You saved my life" in the short time he had been in Austin.  It's our duty to pay it forward, but not in a forceful, condescending manner.  We can lead by example, eat real food and move our bodies.  Learn to evolve in our thoughts just as we have evolved over time.  Paleo is not the same thing for every person, and the only way to learn what works for us as individuals is to clean out our own house and start anew.  I know I have learned something new almost every day since January 18, 2011 (my paleoversary).

The first panel discussions I attended was called "Affecting Future Healthcare & Food Policy".  This is something I hold near and dear.  I am, as are countless other citizens of planet earth, tired of large corporations driving policy.  Government officials have NO idea what they are talking about when they are talking about what humans eat, and the corporations that are behind "the food pyramid" or "myplate" are only interested in how forcing this policy down our throats will line their pockets.  The same goes for the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.  There are a precious few doctors who are willing to admit that they have been wrong about the causes of diseases of civilization, and part of this panel discussion was aimed at how those physicians and dietitians who know the truth can spread it to the rest of the profession.  It should be the goal of the medical industry to reduce illness by understanding what CAUSES it rather than just mask the symptoms with another pill.  Let's all talk to our family doctor and tell them what we are doing when we get our next annual physical.  If they try to prescribe a pill for you... don't just blindly take it.  We are consumers when we enter the doctor's office, and consumers have the right to be involved from step one with their medical "purchases".  A registered dietitian in the audience asked what she should do when sanctioned by her licensing agency for spreading the truth and refusing to push My Plate toward another unsuspecting client.  Now is the time for someone to step up (are there not any Paleo attorneys willing to donate some time?) and start a legal defense fund to help these people who only want to spread the truth.

(feels like I am starting to get a little preachy here...)

The next panel I attended was called: "Future of Paleo".  Another subject that deserves some serious thought and discussion.  This thing Primal/Paleo/Ancestral Health... whatever you call it, has really been gathering speed.  I think I may have heard the words Paleo Diet a couple of years ago but never really gave it much thought.  Now, there are more and more people who have heard of it, and whether their opinion is good or bad does not matter.  When the negatives arise on the internet because some news reporter surveys 1,000 people and some of them say Paleo is not sustainable, thousands of my closest friends head on over to those websites and clear up the untruths that are being spread.  That's good for everyone.  What is not so good?  When people hide behind pseudonyms and false pictures and spread negativity.  If we are going to change the world, we need to continue to spread this message in a positive, supportive manner.  Calling each other names whether it be a vegan or someone who thinks their Paleo way is the ONLY way is not going to make any of us look credible.  We all have a purpose in this movement.  How many people have you told about Paleo?  How many of your friends and family have tried it?  How many of your friends are still headed down that SAD (Standard American Diet) path to disease?  How many people have ended their friendship with you over your determination to be a vibrant healthy individual?  Those people are still worth saving and all we can hope for is that they find their way to the truth.

I attended Mark Sisson's presentation, then headed toward the lobby to purchase "Primal Body Primal Mind" and hope to get that and my well read copy of "The Paleo Solution" both autographed by their respective authors.  Once that mission was accomplished, it was time for me to leave all this great company I had the good fortune to spend some quality time with.  I really wanted to stay for Friday's discussions, but had a prior engagement with a good friend that I will blog about in the next day or so.

I want to leave this post with a profound statement, but I think I already put all the passion I could muster into the commentary above.  I hope my story touches someone who may have been struggling and helps them choose the path to Ancestral Health!

Friday, March 9, 2012

home made Jocolat

So, this is my first attempt at a home made version of Jocolat Coffee.

1 1/2 cup Pitted Dates
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raw almonds
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
6T cocoa powder
2T espresso beans (ground on the finest setting of the burr mill grinder)
4T coconut oil
2T coconut butter

I processed all of it in the food processor until it started to bind together.  The taste is amazing and very intense.
Spread in a cookie sheet, refrigerate for a little while, then cut into bars.  12 - 15 servings

Saturday, February 25, 2012

more workout notes

Monday, February 20, 2012
Exercise Sets Reps Weight

1 walking lunges 1 10 20.0 lb
2 walking lunges 2 10
3 Standing calf raise 3 10 42.0 lb
4 Overhead Press Barbell 3 10 42.0 lb
5 Bent over Barbell row 3 10 42.0 lb
6 leg raises 3 15
7 stiff legged Barbell deadlift 3 10 20.0 lb
8 Bench Press Barbell 3 10 42.0 lb
9 Upright Row Barbell 3 10 42.0 lb
10 Plank, front straight arm 3 2:30 in duration
11 plank, side straight arm 3 1:00 in duration right arm
12 plank, side straight arm 3 1:00 in duration left arm
I had to dump the weights on the 2nd and 3rd set of lunges. Left IT and glute still sore. Also, dropped the front plank to 2:30 so I could make sure to get through all of the repeats.
Overall, a pretty good workout. Worked out fasted, didn't start until 8:30 pm, so going to bed hungry.

Thursday, February 23, 2012
Exercise Sets Reps Weight 

1 walking lunges 3 10
2 Standing calf raise 3 10 42.0 lb
3 Overhead Press Barbell 3 10 42.0 lb
4 Bent over Barbell row 3 10 42.0 lb
5 leg raises 3 15
6 stiff legged dumbell deadlift 3 10 20.0 lb
7 Bench Press Barbell 3 10 42.0 lb
8 Upright Row Barbell 3 10 42.0 lb
9 Plank, front straight arm 3 2:30 in duration
10 plank, side straight arm 3 1:00 minutes right arm
11 plank, side straight arm 3 1:00 left arm

planks are getting more difficult. 3rd Strength training workout this new cycle.

Was supposed to be getting some walking/running done during the week too, but I just didn't push it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012
Stephen F. Austin State Park. In a word - Awesome! Wildlife sightings today: barred owl, pileated woodpecker, several pair of cardinals, and LOTS of deer and raccoon tracks in the mud, but no actual sightings.

did some running the first hour... 4.61 miles
second hour mostly walking... 4.15 miles
last 9:35 cool down... .6 miles
average pace 13:51
total distance: 9.35 miles; total time out 2:09:25
ate breakfast by 7 am, started the workout at 10:00, so I would call that fasted. post workout meal was a large hamburger patty, a large sweet potato and a little home made sauerkraut topped with horseradish mustard.

Again, I was supposed to lift weights this evening, but didn't push myself to do it.  I am contemplating going out for some more muddy fun at the park tomorrow morning, but I still need to get that weight lifting workout in.   Undecided for the moment. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Workout Notes

The reason I am doing this? To keep me honest. I seriously need to do my strength training 3 times a week. I have, in the recent past, become a slacker. I got through a 50 mile race with little or no training, and scored a 2+ hour pr. That’s not how this ultramarathoning thing is supposed to work. I do know that I don’t have to do a whole lot of long distance training to do them. I really believe that heavy weight lifting, some high intensity sprinting, and some nice slow long walk/jogs will help more than trying to get in 60 – 80 miles a week.

Friday 2/17/12
Exercise Weight Reps Sets

1 walking lunge 20 10 3
2 calf raise 42 10 3
3 overhead presses 32 10 3
4 bent over rows 32 10 3
5 leg raises 0 15 3
6 stiff legged dead lift 20 10 3
7 bench presses, 32 10 3
8 upright rows, 32 10 3
9 front plank 3:00 1 3
10 rt plank 1:00 1 3
11 lt plank 1:00 1 3

Sunday, February 19, 2012
I ate a huge breakfast at around 8, drank several cups of coffee and went and visited with my mom for a couple of hours before she had to go to work.

When I got home, I prepared the rump roast I purchased yesterday by searing it, lightly sautéing the vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, turnips, mushrooms and a little garlic) and dropping it all in the crock pot.

Next, change clothes so I can get out for a longish walk/jog. It had been about four and one half hours since breakfast and I was planning on at least two hours, at most ten miles. I only took plain water to drink and one Endurolytes Fizz tablet with me. I should have no problem going up to ten miles fasted. I probably jogged 1.33 miles, racewalked 1 mile and powerwalked the rest of the first hour, completing 4.7 miles total. I kept the intensity up throughout and up until one hour forty minutes, consuming a little water about every 1.2 miles. I refilled the water bottle and added the Fizz, planning to slow down and enjoy the last 20 minutes of my walk. Good work today, no hamstring pain. 8.82 miles in 2 hours: Average Pace 13:37. I enjoyed a post workout meal of sirloin steak sautéed in lard from grass fed beef and a huge sweet potato.

I saw these lovely tame ducks at the park. I was wondering… do ducks naturally segregate? A flock of these crested ducks are always hanging out together, and then there was one. Mallard. All alone.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rocky Raccoon 50 mile MudFest 2012!

Hello Blog, have you missed me?

Let’s go ahead and dispense with the formalities. It rained. It was muddy. It was fun! The official results not posted yet.

Arrival at Huntsville State Park Friday at around 1:30 pm found Chris and Miles working hard at getting the aid station set up. My plan was to help them, so pitched in and helped wherever they directed me, including stringing strand after strand after strand of Christmas lights and hauling supplies from the lodge. Oh, and testing said Christmas lights while a torrential downpour was in progress… interesting, but stupid. We did everything we could so that all they really had to do was unload the perishable food in the morning and start cooking. I missed the pre-race briefing, but I ALWAYS read the race document so felt I was well prepared for the race the next day.

I am so lucky to have friends like Deborah Sexton! She organized the hotel room for the weekend and the Friday night pre-race dinner at the Farmhouse Café on 14th Street in Huntsville. As usual the NTTR group was very friendly and we had a nice chat (newbies and ultra veterans alike) before going back to the hotel to get our things ready for Saturday morning.

There were 5 ladies in one hotel room and there were no problems with everyone taking their turn in the restroom. LOL. As usual, I showered and put on my base layer and my socks before going to bed. I put my timing chip on the ankle strap, drank some water and went to bed. When we woke up Saturday morning, the storm going on outside was EPIC! That had been the forecast all week, and we paid to play, so let’s get this show on the road! The 100 mile race started at 6 am, and I arrived at the park in time to see them head out through the woods in the downpour. There were some friends who offered to crew for me because another one of their friends was running his first 50, so I found them and headed to the start at around 6:50, in plenty of time for the starting gun. It is customary to check in with the timing people prior to the start of this race, so I asked where the check-in table was located. When I was told that the timing chip was the check-in as we crossed the mat… I felt a huge pit in my stomach. I had forgotten my chip at the hotel. The stream of expletives that escaped my mouth was another EPIC occurrence at Rocky Raccoon 2012! I never thought to ask for another chip, so I RAN the half mile back to where my car was parked and DROVE back to the hotel to get my chip. It was the DUMBASS runner move of the day.

When I got back to the start line, I threw my car keys at the crew and headed out to the trail. As I passed the timing tent I said, I guess we can start when we are good and ready, right? I was so angry, I think I started with 16 or 17 minutes on the clock, and I had a pretty serious time goal as far as I was concerned, having emailed a pace chart for a 13:20 finish to all my friends with a note that stated “no Crazy outfits this time, I am serious.” Starting the race late does not really qualify as serious, right? As I headed out to join 700 other crazy folks on the trail, I just tried to forget how stupid I felt and focus on the task at hand. I don’t usually run much, but planned to run/walk this race. The 50 mile course is 3 16.67 mile loops and the plan was to finish each loop as close to 4:26 as I could, that would give me an average pace of 16:00 per mile. My finish time for the previous two 50 milers I completed was around 16:45, for an average pace of 20:06; so, if I completed this one according to plan, the PR would be another EPIC occurrence at Rocky Raccoon 2012. Since I don’t have official results and splits, the part of the story where I talk about my loop times will be estimated.

Back to the story – It was not long before I encountered the first of many mud pits on the trail. No worries, the rain had slowed down by the time I started, and I expected the mud, so I just plowed right through it. Trying to go around would just slow me down, and I had some lost time to make up. When shooting for an average pace of 16:00 per mile in a trail race with an aid station every 3 to 5 miles, you need to move faster than that in order to take a minute or two to stop at the station, refill your water bottle, use the potty if necessary and then get the heck out again. I was not fooling around, just refill and run on. The mud… did I mention the mud? 700 other folks had already plowed through the mud pits once before I got to them. Every one was sloppier than the one before. The spot I was most worried about was right after crossing the dam. There was lots of slipping and sliding going on there. I almost sat down and used the hill like a sliding board, but chose to ski on my running shoes instead. I was hitting most of my miles in the 13:00 to 14:00 minute range, so totally making up for the time I lost at the start! Of course, my bad attitude for starting late was catching up with me and my back was tightening up causing my sciatica to kick in. I know, you’re not supposed to talk on the cell while you are in a race, but I called Melissa, my friend and ultra-massage therapist. She gave me some tips on how to release my lower back, which I planned to do at the end of the first loop, or risk having to drop due to the sciatica. I kept powering through and finished the first loop somewhere around 4:00, giving me plenty of time to clean the mud out of my shoes, clean my feet and put on dry socks, and lay on the ground to fix my back.

Headed back out on the trail for loop 2, right on schedule, and very proud I had made up for lost time. Aid stations are packed with ultra fare, which I am not sorry to say, is mostly JUNK. Since starting the Paleo diet a year ago, I just don’t eat ramen noodles, cookies, crackers, pretzels, candy, quesadillas and pancakes. I also don’t drink soda or Gatorade. So, I brought along my pre-mixed ultra fuel (pureed sweet potatoes, dates, pineapple juice, egg white protein powder, coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, and a little sea salt all blended together and poured into my fuel belt bottles) and some home made pemmican bars. I did use some Hammer gel and Endurolytes too; it IS a race after all. The nutrition and hydration went pretty well, though I did need to pee twice during each loop. The good thing is I never had any cramping during or after the race, and I knew what to do if my hands started to swell. This time right after passing the dam, I encountered a huge tree that had fallen across the trail sometime after I completed the first loop. The conversation that resulted was hilarious. Most folks thought they just forgot seeing it the first time around. I am just thankful no ultra runners were injured when the tree fell! About half way through the second loop, my back loosened up and I was really able to embrace the raccoon and the mud! A couple of times, I shouted… “I’m five years old!!!” There was one good thing about the mud: the water was cold, so it was like a built in ice pack every 30 minutes or so, so no foot problems. Second loop finished in about 4:30, including the stop to change shoes at the end… still right on schedule.

Almost left for loop #3 without the water bottle… thanks again, crew!!! Headed out, knowing I was going to meet my second goal of finishing the race in fewer than 14 hours! My back was better, there was no more pain in my left IT band, calf and hamstring, I had my music back and charged up for the last loop, and I had my headlamp ready for when darkness fell! Nothing could go wrong from here! The best thing of all was approaching the Park Road Aid station in the dark and seeing those Christmas lights that I had helped string the day before! I knew my friends from Houston would be there to cheer me on to the finish! They even had a true Paleo snack for me: almond stuffed, bacon wrapped dates! They made my day and when I asked the time of day because I couldn’t see my Garmin anymore, I took off for the finish in high spirits! The crew expected to see me at about 9pm, just making my 14 hour gun time goal, but when I saw the clock as I sprinted to the finish; it read 13:38 hours (8:38 pm). OH, MY GOD!!! If I had started the race at 7 am along with everyone else, I would have finished at a clock time of 13:21 or 13:22, just a minute or two over my “blue sky” time goal. I never really dreamed I could do 50 miles in those tough conditions that quickly! I know in the grand scheme, and compared to fast runners my age, it’s not a big deal, but to PR by 3+ hours in a 50 mile race – well that’s freaking HUGE! So, I finish, and my crew is nowhere to be found… they are off cooking pork fajitas so their friend and I will have some hot protein to eat at the finish. I got my medal and my hugs (thanks Deb and Janice), and headed out to hot food and to revel in my personal win!

Back to the hotel, shower, sleep a few hours and prepare to work the aid station Sunday morning so I could help the later 100 mile finishers see their way down the trail with some hot food and words of encouragement.

What a great way to spend the weekend!

Music notes during the race:
At 10 miles – Sublime “40oz to Freedom” No - 40 miles to freedom!
At dusk – Opeth “Harlequin Forest” (They are the trees, rotten pulp inside, never well)

Sorry so long for a measly 50 miles, but they are my thoughts to share if you wish to read them. Thanks… malvs2walk (and sometimes she runs!)