Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 25k Race Report and some other junk…

Huntsville State Park, oh how I love this place! I think I would spend some time there every weekend if it were not a 100-mile drive from my home.

I woke up at 3am on November 5, 2011, made the coffee and put my race gear in the car. Thankfully, I had leftover scrambled eggs and deer sausage left over from dinner the night before, so I did not have to worry with that. I just warmed it up and headed the Honda in a northeasterly direction at about 4am!

I ate my breakfast promptly at 5am, as my race started at 7am. I planned to run as much as was humanly possible for me in order to finish the race in a respectable time (for me). Typically, I am not a runner, but a walker/racewalker. Everyone knows that racewalking is not possible on the heavily root covered trails at Huntsville, so I usually run a little when I race there. This day was going to be different because I have been waging an internal battle with myself: Do I want to be a competitive master’s racewalker, or am I really just doing the racing because it is fun?

Packet and chip pick up was very efficient and organized! East Texas Ultra Runners Paul Stone and his crew always put on a great event. Bib #181 seemed like a good one… I watched the start of the 50k at 6am, and then walked back to my car to get my race gear assembled.

It was still a little dark outside when the race started and a friend had forgotten to bring a light. I jogged slowly from the start so the friend could benefit from my flashlight. When the sun came up enough for all of us to see the trail without the light, I bid my friend farewell and began to tear up the trail. I say that with tongue in cheek, because an average 13:00 per mile pace is not necessarily tearing up the trail. However, for me, maintaining that pace for 25k would be a huge pr (personal record) for this distance on trails. I was feeling fine, the temperature was in the 40’s for the start and it was a beautiful day! I finally figured out what caused my electrolyte problem in the past (too many Endurolytes and not enough water) so I made that adjustment. My race fuel was Hammer espresso gel/chocolate gel mixed with 2T Now Egg White Protein powder and a little coconut oil. I had a handheld water bottle filled with Heed that I refilled at the aid stations. Sadly, I left my little flashlight at the first aid station. That flashlight served me well through Tejas Trails Kapt’n Karls 3 race series, so I guess I will have to go buy another one. It is very bright and easy to carry because it came with a wrist strap. I cannot imagine what made me walk off and leave it. 

Back to the trail… I was having fun and really pushing myself, passing back and forth with a couple of runners who were about my speed. There were a couple of moments where I began plodding along, not really feeling in to the race. I had to tell myself to pick up the pace because a friend, Erin Taylor-Talcott, has recently enlightened me. She got something from our conversations that I had not noticed. It is a mental thing that happens to me about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way into my races no matter the distance. I start to feel fatigued and disgusted with myself, and I always slow down only to pick up the pace after a mile or so of feeling bad. If it were a nutritional problem, it would be time based or even based on a specific distance. I think it is my mind telling my body I suck, and I will never get any better at this thing called racing. Every time I started to plod, I would tell myself “Run, Dammit! You can do better than this.” I would run until I HAD to walk again, uphill or downhill, it did not matter.

Finally, I arrived at the H-T Rex aid station, 2.8 miles from the finish. I had been drinking more water this race, so had to use the porta-can. I looked at my watch and saw I was only 2:52 into the race, so I mugged for a photo (thanks Mariela) and ran up the hill to cover the last section of the trail. A little history about my Rocky Raccoon 25k finishes: the first time I did this race in 2008 I walked the whole thing in 3:36; the second time I did it in 2010 I ran/walked it in 3:43 (the running slowed my overall finish time); this time I ran/walked it in 3:22. I am soooo proud of this! It is only a 14 minute pr for the distance on trails, but if you consider my run/walk improvement of 21 minutes, that is a substantial improvement!

Race photos can be found here for a while... Your Sporting Image and enter bib #181.

Now for the other junk:

I would not be where I am right now had I not changed my lifestyle from Standard American Diet to Paleo Diet. NO QUESTION. I effortlessly lost 35 pounds; I eat as much as my body wants to be fed, as long as there are no grains, legumes or processed foods, very little fruit, occasional full fat Greek yogurt, and plenty of coconut oil, good quality meats and lots of veggies. I maintain this weight loss without food logging which is a definite plus. I do not have to kill myself exercising, and still get pr’s. I can lift heavier things without worrying about straining my back. My total body composition is changing. I am no longer an apple shaped woman. My waistline continues to get smaller even though I am not losing any more weight.

The question I have to answer now is this: Do I want to put the additional stress in my life that trying to be a competitive master’s racewalker will cause? I started doing marathons because I really enjoy them, and gave me a good reason to try to maintain my fitness level so that I will continue to enjoy them when I participate. Then I found ultra marathons and trail races. Those are my favorite, because even the elite athletes are welcoming to the whole crowd, even if it takes you twice as long to finish the race as it does them.

I am going to go back in time a little. My husband and I used to have a weekend drag racing car. He worked on it, and I raced it. That was so much fun, from the burnout, to staging the car at the Christmas tree! The adrenaline rush of taking off and speeding down the strip does not compare to anything I have ever done, or will ever do again. The problem with drag racing is you can be as fast as you can afford to be. I was really good with my reaction time. If .500 was perfect, I was usually in the range of .501 to .510. The other drivers all tried their best to goad me into going in for the dial-in and competing against them. Everyone pitches in some money, and you predict your finish time, the one closest to the “dial-in” wins the pot. It was not long after that, we sold the car and stopped going to the drag strip. When I thought about competing, the fun was all lost.

I would appreciate a little feedback… I have not written anything for the blog in a long time, mainly because I have been going over this compete vs. participate dilemma for a long time.  I may come back and add a photo and a couple of links later, but really needed to get this off my mind.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Falls… 2nd in the Capt’n Karls 3 Race Series (8/6/2011)

So, I recklessly signed up for The Falls and The Shoe before I had even completed Ink’s Lake. The reason I say it was reckless? I might be doing a lot better at these 30k events if I would TRAIN for them. LOL

I tried to sleep late on Saturday morning so I would not get sleepy on the trail after dark and do a face plant. I ended up getting up at about 7:30. That would just have to do. Got up, got dressed and had to drive to Sugarland to pick up some raw dairy from a wonderful farmer, I bought the fresh heavy cream, fresh yogurt, and fresh butter, then headed back home to finish packing the car for the night race.

I think I left home at about 1:30, and then realized I had forgotten my Heed. I was not too far from home, so I went back to get it, and forgot the sleeping bag I was intending to bring. Oh, well, I would just have to nap in my chair after the race was over. For some reason, I keep thinking it takes me 2 hours to drive to Austin, but when I am headed just into town on 71, I get to the airport in about 1:35. Good! I picked up Deborah at her hotel; we put her stuff in the car and headed west toward Pedernales Falls. It is not a bad drive, and we made it to the park early enough to get our stuff settled and rest a while before the planned 7:15 start of the 30k. There was one lone tree, and runners were gathered around it like cows on a hot day, looking for the one place that was shaded in the pasture! We listened to the briefing for the 60k runners as we were following the same course as they were. They started at 7:00.

The race started on time, and we were off on the dusty trail. I knew I would have sinus trouble all night because it was soooo dry out there. We still have not had a drop of rain and the river was completely dry. Anyway, I was trying out my newest fueling recipe. Egg white protein mixed with hammer gel and a little coconut oil. It didn’t cause any stomach problems at all. I wore my camel back for hydration in this race because the aid stations were not evenly spaced on the course. The biggest problem with the camel back is that I have had a neck/shoulder problem for a while, and when my body found out I would be using the camel back, it rebelled and the shoulder pain flared up. Oh well… pain is relative to what we are willing to endure in order to spend the night on the trails with 300 or so other crazy folk! I was, however, glad to have that camel back, especially when I was able to keep it filled with ice (thanks volunteers!), it helped keep me cool!

I started out running a little when I could. I heard that this was a little less difficult than Ink’s Lake, but for someone who does a little running and a lot of walking, it was just as difficult. The loose rocks on the steep inclines were a challenge for me. I was having a great time anyway, and I didn’t really get too hot to be uncomfortable. At times, there was a nice breeze! The aid stations were just as we were told they would be… cold water at the first one, then a full service aid station at the second one (we re-visited it for the 3rd stop), then cold water only at the last one.

I started to have leg cramps again about 12 miles in. I don’t know what is causing this… maybe I am taking too much electrolyte instead of not enough. Since I don’t eat ANY salt in my regular diet, I kind of think I am over doing it on the Endurolytes. I have one more race to test this out, The Shoe. Anyway, the cramps were so severe at one point, my whole left leg seized up and I could not take a single step. I stretched for a few minutes, and am happy to report that things started moving normally again. The cramps at this race were not nearly as bad as they had been 3 weeks ago, so it was an improvement. I only had the same problem one more time and it was caused by my tripping and almost falling. When I caught myself, the left leg cramped up from the knee down. I had to massage the calf muscle pretty vigorously to get moving again. I don’t remember much about the course except for the rock staircase down to the river bed! When we broke through the trail and I saw the view, I said, “This is freakin’ awesome!!!” I do remember seeing a couple of those small but deadly scorpions skittering across the trail, and am happy to report, no tarantulas!

The lights of the finish line were a welcome sight and I was happy to receive my medal, and go sit down and have my recovery drink! Hammer citrus Recoverite and some Fage Total classic yogurt shaken together with a small can of pineapple juice. Sadly, they were out of hamburgers, but no worries! I enjoyed sitting out there under the stars for a while listening to the cheering as the 60k runners finished the race. I saw numerous shooting stars! Out there away from all the light pollution of the city, the sky is just spectacular! I think Deborah and I started back for Austin at about 3:30 in the morning, and I was jonesing for some protein. I dropped Deborah off at her hotel and found the closest Denny’s. 3 eggs over easy, 2 pieces of bacon and 1 tiny sausage link would just have to carry me home. I think I made it home at about 6:30 am.

Anyway, thanks again to the folks from Tejas Trails. They do not disappoint!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ink's Lake 30k, first in the Capt'n Karl's 3 race series.

July 16, 2011. We all make choices. This time, I made the right choice. I was planning to sign up for all three Capt'n Karl's 60k races... and at the last minute, I decided to back off to 30k. I am so happy I made the right choice, because the 30k race at Ink's Lake was by far the most difficult race I have ever completed, and I probably would not have completed 60k there. I am sure the idea of a night time trail race appeals to me because of the unknown factors in night racing.
My friend Karla and I left my house at 2pm for the 3 and 1/2 hour drive to the park, which is located in Texas Hill Country, northwest of Austin. We had a nice drive, the weather was hot but beautiful and of course, even though we are in a desperate situation with regards to lack of rain, I was happy that it did not rain on race day. The park was packed when we got there. We picked up our race packets and started looking for a place to park. No luck there so we went back to the park headquarters and paid for a campsite, even though we were not planning to stay all night. There was someone parked in our site, and when we told them the site was ours, they proceeded to just drive off and their bike was leaned against the front of their truck. Lucky for them, we saw what was happening and stopped them.

The ladder was the start line.

Starting out slow!
 The 60k runners started at 7pm on the same 10k loop as those of us running the 30k would be starting out on at 7:15 pm. I had a pretty good run/walk going on the first loop, finishing it in 1:35. That was a lot faster than I was planning on. I still felt good, but the course was really TOUGH. Lots of quick steep rocky climbs, low hanging tree limbs, and more quick rocky descents.

steep rocky descent

steep rocky climb

 These race photos  taken by EnduroPhoto will give you an idea of how tough but beautiful the race course was. (Yes, I was hamming it up for the camera... how about those calf muscles!) I went to this race with a brand new nutrition plan, which is not a good idea. I figured out partway into the second loop that I had forgotten something. I have been using Hammer Perpetuem but wanted to find another source of protein for endurance events because I am trying my best to follow a Paleo-like nutrition plan for the rest of my life and the soy protein in Perpetuem is a big no-no. Perpetuem contains a good amount of sodium, and I forgot to add a little sea salt to my protein/carb liquid fuel. I started out taking the same amount of Endurolytes as I would if I was using Perpetuem and started to have some leg cramps half way into the second 10k. It took me a little while to realize what was going on, and usually if you get behind on electrolytes on a hot day, it is very difficult to catch up. I did my best and started to take extra Endurolytes between aid stations which were about 5k apart. Also, a young female runner approached to pass me and stopped, asking me for a shot of my water. I was carrying only one hand held bottle, and she was not carrying water at all. I did give her a shot of mine, but that caused me to go the last 2 miles or so of the second loop with no water. The second loop took me 1:45 to complete. , and I hung at the aid station for about 10 minutes to regroup and eat some watermelon and orange slices.

When I headed out for the 3rd 10k loop, I knew I was going to have a hard time. It seemed that everyone else was commenting on how humid it was, but I live closer to the coast, so I was crusted with dry, salty residue as if there was no humidity... Had I been racing closer to home, I would have been soaked through with sweat. Anyway, I just kept packing in the Endurolytes, and remembered to drink water at the aid station, rather than just fill my bottle and continue on. I took a break when I reached the 5k aid station of the last loop… drank plenty of their water and took some of their Endurolytes to make sure I would have enough of my own to finish the loop. I also finished my liquid nutrition and filled that bottle with water too, so I now had a little more water for the last section of the course than I had for the previous 2 loops. I am sure I was a ridiculous sight, passing people on flat or downhill sections, then as soon as I would reach a spot where I had to climb, one or the other of my inner thighs would cramp up severely. I had to stop and stretch… every time I stretched one side, the other would cramp up. Every runner who passed me asked if I was ok and offered me water. I always replied that I just had a cramp and I would get these bitches (my legs) moving in a minute. The last loop took me 2:26 to complete because of all the time I spent trying to work the cramps out of my legs. Anyway, I finished the 30k in 5:46:31 and am very happy to report; I was not in last place. LOL

Karla and I at the finish line!
In case any of the volunteers read my blog… I was the one who kept thanking GOD that I didn’t sign up for the 60k! I would certainly have been a casualty (DNF) if I had started the 60k. Also, I got a big kick out of Joe… he said they take great pleasure in kicking our asses! I had a great time at this race, and might even do it again next year. I am proud of myself for finishing, and REALLY appreciate the ultra running community. All the volunteers who manned the aid stations were fantastic… and all the runners who participated in the race were friendly and helpful! The whole world could take a lesson from ultra runners…

one more thing... my friend Karla Wallace Scroggins took all the photos I have used in my blog.  My camera crapped out at Bataan and I have not replaced it yet.  Thanks, Karla!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

FANS 24 Hour 2011

Now that I have had several days to think about my recent 24 hour race, it is time to do a little write-up about it.

My travel to the race was rather stressful. In order to save about $150 on airfare, I flew from Austin Texas rather than Houston. It is a 2 hour drive to the airport so I had to leave my home at 2:15 am Friday in order to arrive at the airport 2 hours before my flight. Here is the funny part. I flew to Houston and had to sit in the airport for 2 hours waiting for the next flight.

The race is called FANS 12 and 24 Hour, and is held at Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis Minnesota on the path that surrounds the lake. “FANS” stands for Family Advocate Network System and is a program of Pillsbury United Communities in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Pillsbury initiated the FANS project in 1989 with a group of sixth-grade students from North and South Minneapolis. The Project has a vision of sending inner-city kids to college or to another post-secondary institution. FANS works with the youth and their families in a wide variety of activities geared to providing support for the vision.
I paid the entry fee for the race a long time ago as I have had my sights set on doing a 24 hour race that actually has a walk division. Also, the race provides judges for a Centurion event if there are any walkers planning to attempt to walk 100 miles or more in 24 hours or less. I have had the dream of becoming a US Centurion since I attend such a contest in 2006, not as a participant but as a spectator, at Bear Creek Park in Houston. That particular race was held in February, 1 week after I completed my first full marathon in Austin Texas.

Back story… when I completed 100 miles walking the first time recently at Across the Years in Phoenix Arizona, I came home from that race feeling fat and defeated. I had gained back about 25 pounds of the weight I lost and things were beginning to hurt due to the extra weight I was carrying around. I was at a loss as to how to start a healthier program when I found out about the Paleo diet from some running friends in Houston. Since I was recovering from my first completed 100 mile race, they suggested it was the perfect time to try this new way of fueling my body. January 18 I gave up grains, refined foods and sugar (the only sugar I eat is a tiny bit of honey in my hot tea and the little bit that is in 90% Lindt Chocolate). I eat protein from a variety of sources, lots of veggies (I love my veggies) and lots of fat. It takes a few weeks for the transition from sugar burner to fat burner, so I was a real bear until about 3 weeks into the plan. Then, my energy level started to come back up and I felt stronger than I had in a long time.

I started training for FANS after about 6 weeks strict Paleo. Strict meaning absolutely no grains, sugar or processed food. Cooking the meals is simple, and it is very satisfying to eat something you prepare yourself rather than eating some crap that comes out of a cardboard box. I joined a gym so that I could get some help as a weight lifting beginner. I needed to make sure I was using correct form through the exercises so that I would become stronger instead of overdo it and injure myself yet again. I did not put together a real race training plan, which is the complete opposite of what I have done in the past when training for a long distance race. I just walked as far as I felt like walking, and made sure I did my strength training twice a week. Monday mornings were always reserved for what I call speed training with my high school racewalking friend Ruth. She needed to walk longer distances, which is what I do… and I need to walk faster, which is what she does.

Ok, so I lost all the weight my body felt like losing while I was always eating until I was fully satisfied. I only eat breakfast when I wake up hungry (a couple of times a week) and eat a healthy lunch and dinner. My skinny jeans fit me again, and I can see biceps and triceps and (my legs have always been muscular) and I am beginning to develop a waistline… something I have NEVER had my whole life.

Still training only as much as I felt like, the taper was uneventful. I went to Minneapolis feeling rested and ready for the race. It was great to meet up with Mellody and Dan and head to the race site after we checked into our respective hotel rooms. Packet pickup went smoothly and I really love the race shirt… Bright orange, it says run all day with a picture of running shoes on the front, and run all night with a picture of bunny slippers on the back. The pre-race pasta dinner was kind of an issue for me; I don’t eat pasta. So, I ate a large salad and picked up some Jimmy Dean Sausage and sweet potatoes when we stopped at Target on our way back to the hotel. I cooked that in the hotel microwave and had plenty to eat. I was filling my Hammer flasks while eating and accidentally spilled some raspberry gel on the sausage – it was delicious! I also cooked a couple of sweet potatoes for the race. I will not eat the junk food fare at the race aid station because my body would certainly reject it since I never eat processed foods. The sweet potato turned out to be the perfect ultra food for me. As I was getting the rest of my gear ready for the race, I realized I had forgotten a whole bottle of Endurolytes I bought for the race at home. I began to panic and decided that it was a subconscious act of self-sabotage. My mind was telling my body I could not possibly walk 100 miles in 24 hours. Mellody was critical here – she kept me from falling apart. I looked up local cycle shops who would surely have Hammer products and planned to shamelessly beg (and offer a bribe to) someone at the race to go and buy a bottle of Endurolytes for me. I didn’t have to beg for too long and a runner, Alison Fraser offered one of her crew members (her dad) to go and get them for me. If it was not for Alison’s dad, I would not have fared so well in the dry hot weather that was to come.

It usually rains race weekend in Minneapolis. Not this time. The sky was clear and beautiful and the temps rose to at least 86 that afternoon. I am used to the higher temps, but not the low humidity that we were experiencing. Back to the start of the race – The average pace to walk 100 miles in 24 hours is 14:17 and my plan was to walk at about a 13:45 pace for as long as I could to try and build a little time cushion in case I needed to stop and change shoes or had any problems later in the race. The day just proved to be too hot and I was only able to hold the pace for about 4 hours and when the clock reached 6 hours, I had walked 24 miles. I knew at that time I would not be able to walk 100 miles at this race. I did not let that stop me from trying to walk as many miles in 24 hours as was possible for me in the conditions that day. I just kept moving forward, following the nutrition and hydration plan I had painstakingly prepared for the race. Sometimes slow and steady does win the race; because that is exactly what I did… win the race.

I chose this race because it is the only 24 hour ultra in the country that has a walking division. People have come to FANS from all over the world to compete in the Centurion contest. I am really sorry I did not make the Centurion list. BUT, I did not give up even when I knew early in the race I would not walk 100 miles. Ray Sharp should have beaten me soundly, but the heat of the day got to him like it did to some of the runners. I spoke to one person who was having problems during the race and later found out he had been taken to the hospital. He is ok now, but we should never underestimate how important race nutrition, hydration and electrolytes are. This race keeps a close watch on participants, weighing each of us before the race, and then every 4 hours during the event. Should anyone lose or gain too much weight during the event, the race doctor pulls you from the competition and does not let you return to the race until your weight normalizes.

I never felt sick to my stomach and I only had one small blister at the base of my right heel which means my electrolyte intake was spot on. My weight only fluctuated 1.5 pounds during the race, which is also an indication I was taking good care of myself! I changed my shoes, socks and clothes one time, in order to put on a light weight long sleeve shirt and tights for the overnight part of the race.

I hope everyone who reads this will forgive my jumping around the story, but this is how my mind works. I am remembering going out at 1hour and 5 minutes remaining on the clock for one more 2.4 mile loop around the lake. I was starting to have more frequent bathroom stops towards the end of the race, and finished that last full loop in 40 minutes (including a bathroom stop). So, when I got back to the start/finish area, the 220 meter short track was set up and the timer told me I had a chance to get 80 miles if I kept moving. Ray Sharp told me he would probably walk about 78, and Marsha was gone. (Her 50th state marathon was 2 weeks out and I had seen the medical aid working on her feet… she stopped in order to save her feet for the marathon). That’s when I knew for sure the race was mine… with 25 minutes still on the clock. So I started racewalking (lmfao), if you could call what I was doing racewalking. The runner’s crews were all cheering us on, even the ones who were doing their first 24 hour race and looked like the walking dead. It felt like I was getting faster each time I went around a cone and missed getting to the finish of the last 220 meters by about 8 seconds. Oh well… I walked 80.77 miles in 24 hours. This is my personal best distance in 24 hours, all walking.

The post race award ceremony was great! If you participated in the 24 hour event… they brought your award to you, you didn’t even have to leave your seat. This was my first big win, and my hat is still a little tight, if you get my drift.

We went back to our hotel, showered and rested a little, then went out to dinner. I had the lucy (I totally forgot to ask for blue cheese :( ), and the server looked at me like I was crazy when I said, keep the bun, and give me an order of bacon on the side!

I highly recommend this race for anyone who wants to test their limits of endurance. It is a tough one because the path around the lake is mostly concrete and the bridge over one end of the lake started to look like a monster as the day got warmer and warmer, but the people who put the race on are amazing and they take great care of everyone. I just LOVE the fact that walkers are treated with the same respect as runners, although this is true at every ultra I have done, they give AWARDS to WALKERS at FANS.

This was my Strong is the New Skinny Challenge... to see just what I could do if I let my body be my guide.  I learned something about myself.  I can do things I never dreamed.  I will continue to work on my strengths, and do my best to improve on my weaknesses...  Thanks for reading if you took the time to follow my crazy train of thought this far!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Training Update

I have not written anything for my blog since April 26th, and it is May 10. I just cannot seem to get everything done that I have on my schedule. The blog is important to me, but so are a lot of other things.

I have been spot on with getting my twice a week weight training sessions done. There have been 4 since my last blog post. I am now moving away from machines and doing almost everything with free weights. I have had to drop the weight on some of the exercises so that I have complete control of the weights. Here is what I did on Mother’s Day:

leg raises 3sets 15 reps on the incline bench
back extensions 3sets 20 reps
leg press 3sets 15reps 150 lb
lunge 4sets 10reps 20 lb
dumbbell curl 3sets 10reps 15 lb
lying triceps dumbbell extension 3sets 12reps 12 lb
Standing calf raise 3sets 15reps 60 lb
dumbbell lateral raise 3sets 12reps 10 lb
bent over dumbbell row 3sets 12reps 15 lb
dumbbell chest fly 3sets 12reps 12 lb
upright dumbbell row 3sets 12reps 15 lb

Now that I have moved to mostly free weights, I believe things will continue to progress. I have a little muscle soreness (a good thing), but will be ready for the next workout! When my 3 month membership is over at the gym, I really believe I will continue to do my twice a week lifting at home. I have a complete set of weights, but I was having trouble forcing myself to use them.

Now for my walking report. Shame on me. I have only walked 3 times since my last blog post (should have been 8 walks). I really should not even count one of them, except for the fact that I really enjoyed going for a walk with my mom. She is amazing, even at her age and considering the fact she has severe arthritis; she walks 3 miles a day. Granted, she splits it up into 3 walks… but I am really proud of the changes she has been able to make since her diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Stats on yesterday’s walk with Ruth: 8.08 miles

Mile 1 - 12:25.02; Mile 2 - 11:56.42; Mile 3 - 11:53.77; Mile 4 - 11:48.78; Mile 5 - 11:44.42; Mile 6 - 12:09.94;
(average pace through mile 6 was 12:00)
Mile 7 - 12:49.86; Mile 8 - 13:44.25; .08 mile 1:09.36(to finish the lap)

Even though I have been a true slacker in the walking dept, I still believe in myself and my ability to walk 100 miles in 24 hours. Walking with Ruth has been a real confidence booster for me. I would never have dreamed that my racewalking form would improve as much as it has since I started walking with her. She has me walking at speeds that I thought I was no longer capable of walking. I guess Dave McGovern was right… that fat I was carrying around – the fat in the middle – was really only potential. Lose that fat, and anyone has the potential to walk faster. is less than four short weeks away. I am really looking forward to the trip to Minneapolis with my good friends, and hopefully will make some new ones!

Now, I am thinking about the Strong is the New Skinny challenge and what my goals were from the start... to increase my endurance, lose fat, and lift weights.  So far, so good.  I have had a little trouble getting the walking workouts done, but the weight lifting is progressing nicely.  I have also been really good with the food intake.  I don't really have any cheats, and am loving the Paleo diet!  When you can pretty much eat all the fat you want, how can that be bad?  I don't miss grains or processed foods at all and am really enjoying cooking again!

That's all for now... ooh, another rambling blog post ;)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Rant.

a home schooled High School age girl and I work out on the 2 mile asphalt loop at Bear Creek Park in Houston almost every Monday morning. We have always left our water bottles sitting under one of the benches near the tennis courts and no one has ever disturbed them. We are also aware of the men in orange suits who do a very good job of cleaning up the trash that seems to be everywhere on Monday mornings.

Yesterday, April 25, we were extending our distance to 4 times around the loop, so we both had electrolyte supplement and some nutritional product with our water bottles, so that we could stop at each loop and hydrate properly. At the conclusion of the 4th loop of a very intense workout, we approached the bench where we left our water bottles and they were gone.

I asked a couple of other park patrons and they said the men in orange suits had been cleaning in the area. I jogged over to the van and asked their supervisor if they had put our personal belongings in the garbage. One of the bottles was stainless steel that I had paid about $30 for. He was not very interested in helping me, however, one of the orange suited men who was seated in one of the back seats of the van handed my stainless steel bottle to him and he returned it to me. Whan I inquired about the full bottle of Gatorade, my friend's plastic water bottle, and my Hammer Nutrition Products red and clear plastic bottle, they merely shrugged and suggested I could dig through the trash if I was inclined to do so. I was not aware that these men were allowed to keep anything they find at the park, and isn't it ironic that the bottle they chose to keep was the most expensive one.

This park is always fairly crowded with walkers, runners and cyclists, and I have never felt the need to lock my bottles in the car. I never expected that men who are doing forced community service would be the ones to force my hand in this matter. I intend to continue to use the facilities at the park, it is lovely. But from now on, my friend and I will be forced to return to the vehicle to hydrate.

Now for a personal observation.  Before I started the Paleo diet, and until I became very settled in to the lifestyle, I would NEVER have approached this van, or said anything to anyone about my belongings being stolen.  I would have just gone home PISSED OFF.  Of course, I am still pissed, but at least I got my Kleen Kanteen back.  I will just have to place another order from Hammer Nutrition and get another Hammer bottle.

As for the workout?  It was amazing... first thing Monday morning, I went to the gym and did a full body weight routine at 6am.  Yes, I said 6am.  When I was done, I drove to the park to racewalk with my friend.  She is amazing, and we had an awesome speedy racewalking workout!  8 miles, average pace 12:14!  It breaks down like this: Mile 1 - 12:20; Mile 2 - 12:00; Mile 3 - 12:09; Mile 4 - 12:16; Mile 5 - 12:24; Mile 6 - 12:24; Mile 7 - 12:25; Mile 8 - 11:47.  It's nice to still have something in the tank at the end of a long walk!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday's weight workout:
leg raises: 2 sets, 15 reps
leg press: 3 sets, 15 reps, 90#
Lat pull down: 3 sets, 12 reps, 50#
Chest Fly: 2 sets, 12 reps, 30#
Dumbell lateral raise: 3 sets, 12 reps, 8#
dumbell curl: 3 sets, 12 reps, 10#
tricep push down: 3 sets, 12 reps, 20#
calf raises: 5 sets, 15 reps, 10#
toe pulls (shins): 3 sets each leg, 15 reps, 10#
Lunges: 3 sets, 12 reps
back extensions: 3 sets, 15 reps
I talked to the trainer and upped the weight on some of the exercises a little (still concentrating on form and muscle isolation) and added the shin exercise.  My calf muscles are already highly developed, so needed the shin exercise to balance things out.  The shins are very important for balance in my long distance walking.

Monday was a good food day... lunch was an egg scramble made from last night's grass fed beef patty, the coconot oil soaked veggies, two eggs and some salsa. 
Dinner: Salmon salad made with celery, purple onion, chopped dill pickles, chopped green olives, boiled eggs, spicy mustard, olive oil, black pepper and garlic and herb seasoning... all on top of a huge bed of spring greens and doused with a little more olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
When I snack, I choose come good quality beef jerky, or about 7 walnut halves, or a little high quality 90% chocolate. 

Didn't do well in the sleep department.  Emily came home from work, really sick.  I took her to the emergency room... they of course, did not find anything wrong (at least they did a ct scan of her abdomen to rule out appendicitis) and sent her home with pain meds.  We didn't get home until 5am (writing this Tuesday morning), and I could not sleep past 9.  Not in a hurry to get to work today, but must go in.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Long Walk ;)

So, I got a little of a late start for my long walk this morning. I really planned to go out at 8am, and didn't get started until 8:30.  Not too bad, but as the day wore on and it began to get hot outside, the wind blew harder and harder.  I looked at the historical weather for the area and gusts were reported to be between 28 and 35mph with sustained winds of 20mph.  Almost as bad as the winds at Bataan, but with higher humidity.

I ended up walking 15.1 miles at an average 14:25 per mile pace.  Not too shabby, but I didn't count time spent stopped (stopped the Garmin when I was not moving).  I am finding that I need to take in more calories during my long walks since I have converted to Paleo.  When I first started marathon walking, I was trying to stay at about 100-150 calories per hour.  I am only walking most of the time, so that seemed like enough.  After all, your digestive system can only process so much while your body is on the move.  I had a serious bonk when I did a recent 20 mile training walk, so upped the calories per hour at Bataan for the marathon.  I guess that slipped from my consciousness today, and I only brought enough Perpetuem, Hammer Gel and a Larabar so the total added up to 600 calories.  That did not equal 200 calories per hour.  Need more gels for sure, and a full flask of Perpetuem.

After I got home from the park where I walk, I was kind of dead to the world.  I drank my Hammer Recoverite mixed with some Fage Total Greek Yogurt and a little pineapple juice.  YUM!!!  The only time I will drink calories is after a hard effort.

Friday, April 8, 2011


So far I have been able to stick with the Paleo diet with no problems. My family still eats junk food, so I am surrounded by it, but not tempted to eat it because I feel so much better without it.

Things that have changed since I gave up grains and only eat meat and eggs, fat, lots of veggies, and a little full fat dairy:

psoriasis is gone
not as gassy any more
seasonal allergies are improving
arthritis is not as bad (knees all better)
oxygen uptake much more efficient (working heart rate is lower)
sleeping better
ability to focus has improved
looking much better in my clothes!

I truly believe I have the Paleo diet to thank for all these changes!

A Little Wigged Out... quote a good friend.  I have recently signed up for the Hog's Hunt 50k at Huntsville State Park on April 16.  I am not sure I am ready for prime time (50k) and the big question is whether or not I will occupy LAST place. ;)  Not that it bothers me to come in last place, because I have never been, nor will I ever be FAST.  I just like to be sure I can finish whatever race I enter within the time limit.  Paul Stone, the race director, is a very cool guy.  The last time I did one of his races and was in danger of missing the cutoff due to a hip problem, I was told that anyone who comes out in these 80+ degree temps with accompanying high humidity to do 50k will be counted in the results, even if they do finish late.  I just do not like to be that person who keeps the volunteers waiting.

My friends from Houston Trail Runners Extreme will be manning one of the aid stations.  They have been warned... I may be one of the last people they see before they wrap things up for the day...

Anyway... I am leaving the house early today so that I can come home from work early and get in about 6 miles on the treadmill before dinner.  I hope to do about 15 miles on Sunday. 

An interesting note on the strength training: I am not as sore as I thought I would be.  The trainer will be in the gym on Monday when I go in for my workout... so I am going to ask him if we can add a few more items to the workout list, and up the weight just a little.  BABY STEPS... need to strengthen this back, not injure it.

Now, the new workout schedule:
Sunday - LSD
Monday - Tempo in the morning, Strength Training in the afternoon
Tuesday - Day off
Wednesday - Hill workout or Intervals
Thursday - Strength training
Friday - EZ walk
Saturday - ? might be a cycling day... need something fun here!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blogging is Fun!

Today's strength training workout:

leg raises: 2 sets, 15 reps
leg press: 3 sets, 15 reps, 90#
Lat pull down: 3 sets, 15 reps, 40#
Chest Fly: 3 sets, 15 reps, 20#
Dumbell lateral raise: 3 sets, 15 reps, 5#
dumbell curl: 3 sets, 15 reps, 8#
tricep push down: 3 sets, 15 reps, 10#
calf raises: 5 sets, 15 reps, body weight
back extensions: 3 sets, 15 reps

decided to stay with the trainer's recommendations for a couple of weeks. The need to make sure I don't injure my back is stronger than the need to prove how strong I am.

On another note... I am really learning to LOVE cooking again.  There are so many different ways to prepare a Paleo meal, and you would just have to be LAZY to say you can't come up with anything new to eat.

Last night, I prepared pan fried turkey breast cutlets, with some stir fried veggies on the side. I ate the leftover turkey with a huge salad topped with avocado slices for lunch today. 

I went to the gym after work, which is a 45 minute drive from my work.  Did my workout, then drove home (about 15 minutes) and cooked a delicious meal for supper.

Squash with Tomatoes

.■1 zucchini cut into chunks
■1 yellow squash cut into chunks
■1/2 onion sliced
■several baby bella mushrooms sliced
■1 can diced no salt tomatoes
■black pepper
■2tsp minced garlic
■italian seasoning to taste

sautee all veggies with seasoning in a good amount of olive oil, when tender crisp add garlic and cook for about another minute, then pour in canned tomatoes and about a half can of water. simmer until most liquid is gone.

I served this over a large pan fried cod filet (wild caught Alaskan).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Life's a Challenge

So, my hubby has not been feeling well since I got back from my trip to New Mexico.  I have been a good lil wifey and have been cooking dinner every evening, trying to get him to eat a little more veggies, and a lot less bread.  So far, so good.  Fingers crossed that he will start feeling better so I can get on with the training I need to do for FANS 24 Hour and a possible Centurion walk.  For those of you who don't know... A Centurion is someone who has walked 100 or more miles in 24 hours or less at a judged event.  The judges only look for lifting (running), and are not concerned about the bent knee rule of Olympic racewalking.

I took the whole week off of training after Bataan, which seemed like a good idea.  Rest is as important, if not more important as training.  My plan was to walk 20 miles on Sunday, but 10.75 miles seemed like enough, so I stopped there.  I had an appointment with a gym owner to discuss some personal training, so that I can feel obligated to get some strength training done.  The great deal: $110 for 3 months of membership with no extra charge for helping me with a program to build strength without hurting my back (which tends to be problematic). 

Rusty walked me through a short series of exercises, which will be my starting point.  Leg raises, leg presses, lunges, lat pull downs, chest flys, lat raises, curls, and back extensions.  These are all at beginning weight, which will increase as needed.  The thing that Rusty stressed is proper form, nd isolation of the specific muscles the exercise is intended to work, which I agree with totally.  I found I like working out at a gym better than doing it at home.  I LIKE the way I look in the mirror!  That's totally new to me.

Monday's workout (remember, I am a beginner... so don't make fun of the amount I am lifting ;))
Leg raises on incline bench: 2 sets - 12 reps
Leg press: 3 sets - 12 reps - 90#
Lunges: 3 sets - 11 reps
Lat pull down: 3 sets - 12 reps - 40#
Chest Flys: 3 sets - 12 reps - 20#
Lat Raises: 3 sets - 15 reps - 5#
Dumbell curls: 3 sets - 15 reps - 8#
Standing calf raise: 3 sets - 15 reps - body weight

Still being a good girl and following the Paleo diet, but I think I have eaten a little too much fruit the past week... Time to go ketogenic for a couple of weeks...  All for now.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 2, March 27, 2011 Bataan!!!

We arrived at White Sands early enough to not have the worry of waiting in a long line of cars and were able to park very close to the starting area! That is a good thing; we could wait in the car while the wind gusted to at least 40mph and blew sand everywhere! Mellody named the wind Bob and Bob really blew that day! Bob blew so hard he seemed to move the rental car, and he forced the trees to bend over! Bob was however, good enough to blow a trash bag my way so I could wrap up in it in order to block some of the wind. LOL Bagpipes played for morning entertainment as we waited for the beginning of the opening ceremony. The three of us tried to stick together in the crowd and ended up near the front for the opening ceremony which began at 6:35am. The ceremony was very moving, as the role was called. First the survivors responded “here”, followed by the role call of all the survivors who have died since the last memorial march in 2010. No one answered. One of the survivors stood throughout the ceremony. He was wearing is full dress uniform with all his medals. What an impressive sight he was, and when the battle poem was recited, several cried out with a resounding YEAH! Then it was time for the fly over, courtesy of Holloman Air Force Base. The cannon sounded, and the group of Wounded Warriors started the march. 
 We had expected a wave start, but were warned during the opening ceremony that there were just too many of us to enforce corrals, so people just mingled and got into the starting chute when they were ready. No problems with all us civilians mixed in with all the military personnel! They seemed to be having as much fun as we all were!

I stopped to shake a few Bataan survivors’ hands on the way to the starting line. They are a proud group of men, totally deserving of this event to commemorate their suffering, and remember all the lives lost in service to our country. We were now out on the marathon course. The first part was relatively flat, though at a higher elevation than I am used to. We started out on the road for about the first mile before our turn off into the desert. This desert section was rolling and sandy, with little or no elevation gain. I started out running this section until I reached a team or group walking abreast, took a breather while following them, then ran to the next group of congestion, all the while trying to stay up wind of the blowing sand. I do not usually carry my camera with me during marathons, but really wanted to have photos from this one. I took several photos during this first section. I was making pretty good time under the conditions, averaging a 14:17 mile through mile 6. Then we turned out onto the road, preparing for the climb. I really expected the gaiters I was wearing to be a lot more effective at keeping the sand and rocks out of my shoes, but no luck. I had to stop here at the aid station and dump the debris out of my shoes, and needed a quick potty stop. There was a short climb out of the main base property, across highway 70, and then up the mountain into a 40mph headwind. Mellody caught up to me, (she took a lot more time shaking Bataan survivors’ hands than I did) and we made the climb together. I tried to take a picture of us with my camera and it would not open any more. Methinks me got sand in my camera.  I was amazed that the elevation did not bother me as much this time as it had at ET. I attribute this to Paleo. Of course, my big mistake that morning was not bringing any protein along for breakfast, (should have brought the turkey jerky or the buffalo jerky along) and the continental breakfast they were serving was all pastries, so no breakfast was presenting sort of an issue for me. I was fueling with my Hammer Perpetuem and Hammer Gel, eating a few oranges, taking my Endurolytes and alternating drinking Heed with water.

I had to stop at the next turn off into the desert to mix another bottle of Perpetuem, and it was still very windy, so I took a lot longer at this stop than I wanted to and Mellody took off ahead of me. It is all good when we do the same race, we can walk together, but we do our own race. I just enjoyed visiting with the soldiers, and took off when my fuel was mixed. We were still steadily climbing, and I was feeling strong… just slow. At this point, I already knew I was not going to break any land speed records, so decided just to enjoy the event. I had heard tales of an aid stop at mile 14 (the top of the climb) that would be selling hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and cold sodas. I was glad that I tucked a $10 into my fuel belt, because I was totally out of gas. I walked up to the table and told the guy I would pay the whole $10 for a couple of meat patties. “I’m hungry, and all I need is some BEEF!” That got a good laugh and $5 in change. My maniac friend Nina was sitting down finishing her hamburger, so I joined her. Those were the two best hamburger patties I had ever eaten. Now as it is time to rejoin the marathon, I came upon a young man with a picture of a Bataan survivor on his t-shirt. When I asked if that was his grandpa, he told me no, it was his great, great uncle. The young man must have only been about 14 years old, and he was not the youngest marcher I saw that day. I thanked him for being so tough!
The course began to head around the mountain with lots of rolling terrain along the way. I was still running a little on the down hill sections, mainly because it was easier to run down than to try and walk, risking slipping as some of the downs were pretty steep. I found out later from my other friend Deb (she is a nurse practitioner and stopped to render aid more than once during the race) that one soldier had fallen somewhere in this section, breaking his leg. The view from this side of the mountain was amazing! We could see the Organ Mountains, named such because the vertical rocks on the mountain peaks look like a pipe organ! White Sands Missile Range was also visible off in the distance (at +/-4500 feet), and far below the +/- 5,500 feet we were now motoring at. A border patrol officer was stationed at one of these high points on the course, I guess his job was to make sure all the people out there had race numbers attached to their uniforms.

The course then headed back to the road, and a steep downhill. I racewalked down the whole hill, averaging a 12:30 pace at this point, which was still pretty good, coming up on 20 miles of this really tough course. My racewalking form provoked a little teasing, which I took with a grin, inviting the soldiers to “Walk this Way!” HMMM, only 10k to go, and the infamous sand pit was still to come. As I made my way through the sand pit, which seemed more like the consistency of cat litter, I came upon two soldiers who were having serious muscle cramping issues. I had enough Endurolytes for me and maybe a couple of extras, but I gave each of them 4. I really hope it helped these two guys make it to the finish! I am sure I will never know, but it was the right thing to do at the time. I thought I would be ok with what I had left and I did still have some Heed. One more time, I had to sit down and dump the rocks out of my shoes, and this time I turned my socks inside out. I was told to get up off my ass because there were only 2 miles to go. I got up and caught the sergeant who had ordered me to get up… let him know I was passing him now. LOL I kept playing tag with a couple of other soldiers and one kept threatening to jump on my back so I could carry he and his pack to the finish. I said, come on, jump on – we will go down together!

I started to approach the finish area, and even at 7 hrs 25 minutes, there were lots of cheering spectators. I thought I would try to run across the finish line, since I had done a fair amount of running in this race. My legs simply said HELL NO, and both of my calf muscles locked up completely. I was very lucky not to fall on my face. Apparently, I needed more Endurolytes than I thought. ;) I grabbed the fence, stretched out those lead calf muscles, and proudly walked to the finish line! I had the key to the rental car, so walked straight to it and my Recoverite, pineapple juice and Fage Greek yogurt recovery shake. I was feeling fine, and looking for some of my friends who were also doing the race. I found Lori Sherwood and Susan Bell, her husband Britt and their friend Terri. We took some photos, and then I went to get some of the post race food. I asked for a hamburger patty, bratwurst and sauerkraut. No bread, still Paleo all the way. I could not eat it all and was hoping I would be able to eat a decent meal later… All I kept saying all day was fajitas for two, just for me!

I also had the good fortune to meet the parents of the young man who created the Bataan Memorial March as his ROTC project. It has grown into an awesome thing over the 22 years it has been held, and this young man should be very proud of himself.

Finally, Mellody found me and we went to watch more finishers coming in. We were beginning to worry about Deb, but she finished while we were looking the other way. Mellody had a great race, shaving time off her first Bataan march in 2007, and Deb shaved a lot of time off her first Bataan march in 2006. I was just happy to have finished! I have recently completed my first 100 mile race, and the difficulty level of this marathon is right up there with that, but the difficulties we faced here are NOTHING compared to what our military face EVERY DAY. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

We had our celebration meal of Mexican food, and all I could manage was a fajita salad with fresh sliced avocados, sliced tomatoes, sour cream and a roasted green chile on top!  It was delicious... and I did have flan for dessert, because if you climb a mountain in the desert, you deserve dessert!

I won't bore you with the details of the trip home... except to mention it was uneventful.  No accidents, no speeding tickets, no heavy duty border patrol activity.  I am happy to report we were not searched by the border patrol at the point of entry! Whew!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bataan Trip Day 2, March 26, 2011

I woke up reasonably early, got dressed and went down to breakfast at the hotel. They really don’t have a good selection of food for folks who don’t eat grains. There were more muffins, Danish, bread and waffles in one small place than I have seen in a while. My choice was hard boiled eggs. I happened to have some venison and buffalo jerky in my hotel room, so that went down well with the boiled eggs.

Then Emily and I headed to the El Paso Saddleblanket Co. I exited the freeway and moved to the right lane so that I could get into the parking lot. Traffic was stopped by a red light, and did not begin moving when the light turned green. The vehicle two cars in front of me was disabled and did not have on any emergency flashers. I decided to move into the next lane, and as I got beside the car that had been in front of me, she decided to go around also, and turned right into the passenger door of my rocket ship. The damage was not too serious and no one was injured, so I chose not to call the police, and only exchanged information with the other driver. I drove on to the store to do a little shopping.
I have wanted to purchase a special belt for my Across the Years 100 mile belt buckle, since that was my first 100 mile finish. Emily helped me find an awesome hand crafted python skin belt, and it was not too expensive! We loved the store; there were some very interesting items for sale, including coffins with a western flair. “Oh, bury me not… on the lone prairie.”

We didn’t have anything else interesting to do, so we stopped for an espresso at Starbucks. Oh, I would like to make an observation here: People in this part of the country are very friendly! Store clerks, baristas, hotel clerks and wait staff were all very nice and helpful.  But, at almost every place we stopped, someone approached us, asking for money.

Next thing was to drive back to Las Cruces to wait for Mellody and Deb to arrive at the hotel. They were on the same flight, so were sharing the ride from the airport to the hotel. When they arrived, we got all settled in the room, and then headed back out to White Sands to check out the souvenirs. I had my certificate framed with the dog tag they give you instead of a medal. We really don’t deserve a medal for completing this memorial march. The sole purpose is to honor and remember. I also purchased a t-shirt, mug, magnet, tote bag and patch with the battle cry on them. I broke the mug, so went back inside to buy another one. They wrapped it very well so I would not break the second one, laughing all the while.  I was laughing too.

I really wanted to get my picture taken in front of the highway sign and the warning sign along the entrance of the missile range, so Mellody obliged.  

We also stopped so I could pose in front of the Bataan Memorial Highway sign...

 When we returned to the hotel, we decided to find a close place to eat our pre race meal. I am not carb loading anymore (except with sweet potatoes) so ate surf (lobster tail) and turf (rare petit sirloin) with grilled zucchini and steamed broccoli for dinner.

When we got back to the hotel, I met one of the Wounded Warriors, he is a Viet Nam vet, and had brought 30 of his comrades who were injured in Iraq and Afghanistan along to complete the march.

The three of us who were doing the march calculated that we should be on site at White Sands before 3am so as not to get caught up in a long line trying to get in. That meant we had to get to bed right after we ate and organized our things for the march. I had already done most of my organizing the night before, but I still have to obsess over the details. As usual, I donned the first layer of my race clothes so I can get ready faster in the morning. We went to bed really early, but considering we were getting up at 2am, there is no such thing as too early!

ok, that's day two of my weekend trip... more to come.  Race Day is next!

Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon, 3/27/2011 Part 1, The Trip

This race has been on my “To Do” list for a long time. It finally worked out this year because a couple of friends who I could share a hotel room with were also going.
The purpose of this event is to honor and remember what Filipino and American soldiers endured when they were surrendered to the Japanese in 1942. They were forcibly marched 60 miles (97 kilometers) with little or no food and or water and those to weak to continue the march were run over by trucks, bayoneted or shot to death. Their cry:
We’re the battling bastards of Bataan.
No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam,
No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces,
No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces
And nobody gives a damn.
Here is a link to an article from the Las Cruces Sun News that gives a more complete account of the atrocities that occurred:

Day 1, March 25, 2011
Initially, I was going to drive out to Las Cruces by myself, but it turned out that my daughter Emily came along for the trip. She slept most of the way, but at least I wasn’t by alone. We made it to San Antonio for morning rush hour which was rather unpleasant, but things got easy as we made it farther west. Once you pass through Kerrville Texas headed west, the speed limit is 80 mph! Of course there are many people who would stretch that limit. I am not one to do that because there are Sherriff’s department vehicles and Texas state troopers all over the place out there.

The closer we got to El Paso, the more police we saw. The Border Patrol was also extremely active… I wonder if it was because it was Friday. Maybe the drug smugglers are more active on the weekends. We made our way to our hotel, a La Quinta on the west side of El Paso, got checked in and found a place to eat dinner. Then it was time to drive out to White Sands Missile Range for in processing. As I was driving out to the base from Las Cruces, I started to wonder what the hell I have gotten myself into. The terrain out there is very unforgiving, high desert surrounded by mountains, one of which we were going to have to climb. I called my mom and told here it was a good thing my life insurance was paid up. LOL

The base security is very strict, but we had all our documents in order so were allowed to enter. We proceeded on to drive right past the turn off the main road, missing the sign for Bataan In Processing completely. We turned around and saw the sign for “Tank Crossing”. Oh my.

Emily had to wait for me in the lobby and I went through the line to pick up race materials for Deb, Mellody and I. I think I had a lucky number: 3030. It seemed lucky at the time anyway. The next stop was getting our finishing certificates printed. They are really nice! I was very fortunate to have the time to speak to 3 of the survivors from the original Bataan Death March and they were very gracious, autographing everyone’s certificates. It was an honor to meet them and to be able to thank them for their service to our country. The next stop was to pick up our t-shirts. I did not spend much time looking at souvenirs because Deb, Mellody and I were planning to come back to the base on Saturday.

Bataan Death March Survivors

Emily and I walked out and drove up to the Missile Museum which is close to the exit. There are numerous missile systems on display, and they encourage photographs. We were able to get some nice pictures, even though the wind was really gusty!

Then it was time to drive back to El Paso for a good night’s sleep.

More to come...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Catching up

I tried to make a commitment to write at least one blog post a week… and I failed. Oh well, my commitment to the Paleo diet is still going well. I am still training for upcoming races, but am finding it difficult to keep up with my weight lifting.

My weight has remained constant since the last post on March 1, so that is encouraging. I think it means that I am where my body wants to be. The stretched out skin from years of my weight fluctuating up and down is beginning to shrink, and I know this will take time and real effort on my part to make the extra time I need to do my strength training. I did slack off the last two weeks as I was tapering for the Bataan Memorial Death March marathon at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico (race report to follow). Now, it’s time to ramp things back up… Hog’s Hunt 50k is on April 16, and FANS 24 hour is on June 4-5.

My exercise activity since the last workout post on February 27: I have walked 61.4 miles, and done a mere 3 weight lifting workouts. I am not going to make any excuses for not getting the ST done, I promise to do better.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


So, one of my friends asked me for a picture. I promised to post an updated picture as soon as my weight got below 150 pounds. Well, I am now 148, so I figured I would oblige.

Took this photo in the restroom mirror at work this morning. As you can plainly see, there is still a jelly roll over my jeans, but I KNOW in time, most of that will disappear too. As long as I stick with Paleo, that is. And do my best to find a way to do some weight lifting. I have started to do a little, but since I have the tendency to OVERDO everything... I must be careful not to injure my back.

That is all for now.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Great way to start the day!

So... I was off to Houston early this morning for my second training session with Ruth. She is an awesome, sweet young lady, and I think we compliment each other nicely. She is speedy, and I have endurance for the long haul.

We did some warm up drills and stretching before we started off to finish 6 miles in what we hoped to be an average pace somewhere around 12 minutes per mile. Wow, we held it for 5 miles, then did the last mile slowly for cool down. We followed the workout with lots of quality stretching and a stop at Starbucks on our way back to her house. I do my level best to maintain racewalking form during these workouts, but the soft knee is always going to be a problem for me, and I am OK with that. Just so Ruth does not pick up any bad habits from me, which I don't think she will. Her form is awesome, and I know she works on it all the time!

Oh, and, I tried a chin up on the bars at the park. I really was able to do 2!!! I have not even tried to do a pull up since I was in high school, so I am totally amazed I was able to get my chin above the bar!

Now that I have done back to back hard efforts, I don't feel obligated to any structured workout tomorrow. I have to work all day in the mattress store, so whatever happens, happens.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A day in the Life of a Paleo Newbie

Even though my diet has been almost totally Paleo since January 18, I still consider myself a newbie. I am really enjoying eating limitless amounts of delicious veggies! That is where my day began this morning. Funny how much butternut squash tastes like potatoes when you fry it until it is a little browned. I made an egg scramble with purple onions and butternut squash for breakfast and it was really good with organic (low sodium) salsa on top! Hubby even ate it!

I have seriously wanted to go to Georgia’s Market on I-10 in west Houston because they have in indoor farmers market. Most of their produce comes from local farmers. Raymond and I headed to Houston to check it out. I bought 3 large bags of assorted produce items and only spent $13. Everything looked fresh, so I stocked up. The funnies thing was the comparison between butternut squash on steroids that I buy at a regular grocery store and the locally grown miniature ones at Georgia’s. I guess commercially grown produce is force fed so much fertilizer that it grows way beyond what it should. I wonder if that means it is less nutritious.

On to a couple more stops. I actually found market fresh turkey patties at Wal-Mart. Will wonders never cease? When we exited Wal-Mart, I saw something really cool in the parking lot! Have any of you ever seen an Art Car?

I was not the only person who stopped to take a picture or two with the handy dandy cell phone camera!

We made it home and I piddled around putting the groceries away and got dressed for the workout I was supposed to be doing this morning. (I didn’t do it this morning because I woke up starving.) The plan was to push reasonably hard for 15 or 16 miles, trying to maintain a 14 minute per mile walking pace for most of the walk, and have fun doing it! Breakfast was at 8:30 am, and I didn’t eat again before my walk started at 2pm. I used my Hammer stuff (Perpetuem, Hammer Gel and Endurolytes) and took along a Lara Bar just in case I felt hungry. I only drink plain water… I get my Electrolytes from the Hammer stuff and all sports drinks are crap in my opinion, because they are loaded with HFCS.

The first couple of +/- 1.5 mile loops were warming up for a fun walk. I was feeling fine and both loops as I walked through the cemetery and back to the park, I saw this awesome mound of construction dirt and a bunch of kids playing on it. Boy did that bring back memories. The next time I came around, the kids were gone, so I ran up and back down that mound every time I passed it.

I felt so… shall I say… Primal? Here is a picture of the hill. I stopped for a couple of minutes to watch a hawk fly over head, searching for something… maybe a partner? I am not sure what their call means, but it was an amazing sight. I also had the chance to evangelize a little Paleo to a woman who admired my muscular appearance. I also bragged to a young girl admired my muscles about how hard I have to work to look like this! I just missed getting hit by a home run (maybe about 10 yards), and a ball exited the batting cage. Even though I throw like a girl, I tossed the balls back…

What a great workout! I maintained my pace of 13:58 minutes per mile for 14.5 miles! That is just a tad faster than 24 hour 100 mile pace and what I am working toward. Of course the HR got up there a few times, but that was when I was running up that hill like a damn fool! I strolled another .5 mile to get to 15 and cool down a little. The real goal here is to make 13:30 minute per mile walking pace an EZ pace. The way I feel today, that is going to happen!

Thanks for reading about my amazing day!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Specific Goals

So, I have been thinking long and hard about what I am trying to accomplish since beginning the Paleo diet. Of course, it is not really a diet unless you define diet as either 1a, 1b, or 1c from the following example. 1d most certainly is not what I am thinking when I say diet. I am eating when I am hungry and not eating when I am not hungry, simply because some silly schedule says it's time to eat.
Definition of DIET
1a : food and drink regularly provided or consumed
b : habitual nourishment
c : the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason
d : a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one's weight
2: something provided or experienced repeatedly

But, to clarify, I did go into this desperate to lose some weight so that I could meet a huge performance goal... talked about that already: Make the US Centurion List. I was not feeling healthy, and I was totally lacking in any confidence in my ability to meet the challenge I had already signed on for.

There has been tons of discussion on Strong is the New Skinny about how the word skinny offends, shocks, startles. I cannot let words of any kind get in the way of my goal which is to get to the body weight my genetic makeup tells me I am supposed to be. Yes, I am weighing myself, because that is one measure of progress. I am also taking measurements... mainly waist and hip. I am also paying attention to how much better my clothes fit. I may never wear a bikini (I am almost 50 and have been moderately obese all my life) but I am fine with that... this is not about how I look, it's about how I feel and meeting that performance goal.

I also understand, as I have stated in the past, that being an endurance athlete does not exactly scream Paleo/Primal... but it is what I do. I also do some lifting, and maybe as I get to the weight my body is supposed to be, I will be able to increase my lifting to help speed up the body fat loss.

Talking about food again... baked pork country style ribs seasoned with garlic, a little cayenne, thyme and rosemary. Side of steamed butternut squash and a veggie salad dressed with high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

My walking workout last night was amazing and spot on! the details:

so... the goal of these slower, steady paced treadmill workouts is to try and get my body to recognize that 13:30 is an ez pace. Start off the first mile for warm up, then increase the speed to 4.4mph or around 13:37 minutes per mile pace and maintain that pace while keeping the hr at around 70% for 4 miles at that speed, then slowly ramp the speed down in the last mile for cool down.
This was a very successful workout. 6 miles - 1:23:29 - overall average pace 13:55 - miles 2 through 5 pace 13:37 - Average HR: 128 / Max HR: 138

Next blog post will certainly contain a progress photo.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Omg, another blog entry!

Just have a few things to share today.

#1 – thanks to Strong is the New Skinny for challenging us to do better!

#2 – I want to share my workouts from Monday and Wednesday… they are on Running Ahead. It’s the website I use to track all my mileage.

#3 – I will be turning 50 on March 11, and I am truly excited about reaching this milestone. I am healthier right now than I have ever been, because I was the FAT KID all my life.

#4 – thanks to Ruth for needing a training partner on Mondays! She and I are going to make a great team. She is faster than I am, and I have more long distance endurance. So, she will help me become faster and more efficient, and I will help her increase her endurance!

I also like to talk about my meals… This morning, I had a couple pieces of bacon and one egg. I was not really hungry, but hubby cooked breakfast, so I ate a little.

Lunch: some celery sticks with cashew butter, radishes and heirloom tomatoes with olive oil vinaigrette (still not very hungry).

Dinner tonight after my treadmill hill workout: 2 small flounder filets cooked in a mix of olive and coconut oils, a small sweet potato (increasing carb intake with mileage increases) and a huge serving of mixed veggies (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, squash and onions) with garlic and olive oil.

Feeling great, off to clean up the dishes then in the shower and to bed early! Sleep is awesome!

Thanks, Jerry!


Paleo? Me?

I have been thinking about starting to blog again. But, finding the time to write is a real challenge for me. These pictures show the overweight, struggling me... the trainig pic is over the summer, doing a 12 hour overnight training walk with some friends in Houston.

I finished my first 100 mile event January 1, 2011. I was really overwhelmed at the time, so happy and proud! This was my third attempt, the first two ended in DNF. Not that a DNF in a 100 is the end of the world. Each race has its ups and downs, and Did Not Finish is better than Did Nothing Fatal! The self portrait below is how I looked right after the race, at my heaviest weight in a long time.

Immediately after the race, as I was driving home from Phoenix, I had a huge revelation. I will never reach my goal of having my name added to the Centurion list. I was 20 to 25 pounds overweight, and yes, I did just walk 100 miles, but it took me 45 hours of a 48 hour race. The more I train for ultras, the more crap I ate. I was desperately trying to keep my energy level up. It seemed as if cookies were the answer. I also ate twice as much fruit as I did vegetables. Trapped in a low fat, high carbohydrate cycle, I just kept gaining all the weight I had lost back, a couple of pounds at a time.

The back story on the initial weight loss: I have always been a carbohydrate and sugar junkie, and after I stopped drinking alcohol to excess… sugary foods were the next logical step. I moved from one addiction to another. When I realized what had happened, I was all the way up to 215 pounds. That was in 2004. My back was such a mess; I could hardly get out of bed in the morning. I went to the doctor for one thing or another (I don’t remember the reason) and the doctor finally got through to me. He told me if I kept this yo-yoing with my weight up, I was going to kill myself. You might as well just stay fat. That was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I started walking, a little bet every day. The more I did, the better I felt. So I looked for an eating plan I could live with. I changed my carbohydrate intake to brown. I ate more fat (olive oil and peanut butter), and I ate lots of vegetables and fruit. I lost 70 pounds in about 9 months and found racewalking. I never knew I had a competitive bone in my body… now I was racing regularly and have even won a few walking competitions. The more I raced, the more I wanted to race and I did my first full marathon in 2006! Wow, that was awesome, but I know there is more. That’s how I found about the Centurion list. In order to get one’s name added to the list one must walk 100 miles or more in 24 hours or less at a judged competition. Competition meaning there are more than one person making a Centurion attempt. This is the goal I have had in mind since 2006.

Fast forward to where I am now, driving home from Phoenix on January 2, 2011. I was ready to give up on my Centurion goal because I had let my food addictions take over yet again and was back up to 170. I mulled this over and finally posted something silly on Facebook about the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon. If they would count the 20 extra pounds I am carrying around, I could just add a 15 pound pack and enter the heavy division of the marathon. A new, awesome friend saw it and sent me a private message about Paleo, and the rest is history.

January 12, I flipped the switch and removed everything containing sugar from my food intake. I already drink high quality coffee black with no cream or sugar, so I could still have my cuppa joe. It is amazing how when I set my mind to NO SUGAR, I was able to just quit, cold. I was still eating a few grains such as one slice of homemade wheat bread made in to French toast, or a serving of organic oatmeal. I talked to a couple more friends about slowly cutting the grains and they suggested that would just be self-torture, so, January 18 I flipped that switch and have had NO grains since. It took a couple of weeks to learn to eat when hungry and to stop obsessing over food logging, and I lost 6.5 pounds by January 22. It was so easy; I didn’t even feel like I was depriving myself of anything. Oh, and drinking coffee is no longer a necessity… but a pure pleasure. My energy level had increased dramatically! I didn’t start my serious training until after I had lost a total of 12 pounds, which was January 30. Can you believe it? I lost 12 pounds in 18 days with little effort, and this time, I can actually see the weight coming off my waistline. It’s like a miracle for me, as I have ALWAYS been fat, even when I was thin. I know a lot of people who read this will understand that statement.

I have been absorbing everything I can find online and recently bought the revised edition of The Paleo Diet and The Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. and The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. I also love reading from Mark’s Daily Apple. I am sure I will buy Mark Sisson’s book next. The folks at “Strong is the New Skinny” are also great sources on inspiration. I love to read the testimonials people send in about their amazing transformations, physical as well as emotional!

Today is February 23, 2011, and my weight this morning was 151.2. That makes my total weight loss to date 18.8 pounds. I am back to my endurance training 4 days a week, and desperate to find a way to include more strength training to my routine. I know ST is critical… maybe with a little exterior prodding, I will be encouraged enough to find a way to fit all the things I need to do into my schedule. I posted on FB the other day and will repeat here that my lumbar spine is pretty jacked up… no disc material left between L5 and S1, so there will be none of that: “Lift Heavy Things”, I will have to figure out how isometrics and resistance bands, etc can make a difference. I am stronger, but don’t want to derail my endurance training because I did something stupid with weights. Oh, and check out this calf muscle. Isn't it awesome!

Maryann, who is so happy to be where she is today, only needing to lose another 5 to 8 pounds, but ready to let the body decide what it wants to weigh!