Thursday, June 30, 2011

E2 28 Day Challenge - Day 11

by Rachel

This is the first day we did not have dessert! We ate SOOOOOOOOO much for dinner - I just couldn't even think about also eating dessert. Dessert every night is something we have done in our house, just nothing official - a couple cookies, or a bit of dark chocolate - that is what our desserts have been lately. So no dessert was no big deal to me - holy moly I was stuffed full of food!

Day 11

1339 cals (237g carbs, 24g fat, 55g protein, 52g fiber)

Orange & Toasted Bagel
Simple simple - toast with applesauce

Wow - these were REALLY good! In my "sushi" wraps, I have 4tbsp cannellini dip, 1/2 avocado, 1/2cup cucumbers, and romaine lettuce. This was a big plate o rolls - and I really enjoyed them! The romaine and cukes gave them a nice crunch - and the garlic in the cannellini dip really meshed with the avocado... YUM!

Picadillo Burrito
This was more like our traditional taco night - dump a bunch of stuff in a corn tortilla and EAT!
corn tortillas, warmed on stove
black beans, mashed
potatoes, fried in pan - no oil, with spices
romaine, tomatoes
sauteed onions / red bell peppers
kids had sour cream as well

Lemon Sorbet with Raspberries
NO dessert tonight :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

E2 28 Day Challenge - Day 10

I LOVE BUTTER!!! OK? There I said it. I had been having butter almost every single morning (at the very least) for quite awhile now on my toast. But now?

I DON'T NEED BUTTER!! I have found several really yummy ways to have my toast without having the cow buttah - so I'm not going to have it anymore!

I will still eat butter - we just won't be as close of friends as we used to be...

Day 10

1722 cals (318 carbs, 38g fat, 63g protein, 59g fiber)

Simple Cereal Bowl

Since I lug my breakfast to work and eat it there, I put frozen strawberries in my milk and when it was time to eat, I had creamy strawberry milk - it was really nice!

E2 Basics Open Faced Sandwich with Cannellini Dip

AVOCADO really makes a sandwich great!! I just can't say that enough - good thing we live in SoCal! This was really good - YUM!!

Gingered Mushrooms with Bok Choy & Carrots over Soba Noodles
Pasta and peas with lentil spaghetti sauce - tomatoes and balsamic reduction

I did not feel like buying all the ingredients for this dinner, so instead I made simple spaghetti with sides. Whole wheat rotelle, peas, and tomatoes... sauce was:
1 can tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, italian seasoning
all mixed in the food processor - then I added 1 cup of cooked lentils to the mix.
I also tried my hand at balsamic reduction - drizzled it on the tomatoes- it was OK but not a hit in my house :)

Sliced Pears with Lemon Juice
Raw Vegan Coconut Oil Chocolate - topped with almond meal

OK you really can't see the chocolate - dang lights lol
But the steampunk TRON guy seems to really want some! :)

E2 28 Day Challenge - Day 9

by Rachel

If you don't know, I'm training for a triathlon right now. On Sept 11th is the TriRock in San Diego, and I'll be racing the olympic distance triathlon. So, I'm on week 6/16 of my training plan that I put together. I'm running, biking, swimming, and working out several times a week. So far, this Engine 2 Diet has given me almost all the energy that I've needed to get through my days. I've only had to add a little snack here and there and when I do I am eating along the lines of the plan.
So yesterday, before my swim, I had 1/2 cup shredded wheat, with a tbsp of raisins. Not luxurious or anything, but it got the job done!

Day 9

1400 cals (220g carbs, 20g fat, 54g protein, 31g carbs)

Banana & Toasted Bagel
Had toast with applesauce spread on top - along with a sliced banana. I really liked the applesauce on my toast - I think this may be a real replacement for buttering for me!!

Had a pizza I made lastnight - it was really good - but it was only one pizza, so I brought along a potato to make it a little more of a lunch.

I was not sure about this one - I generally don't have just sliced tofu - it's usually mixed in with other stuff. But this actually turned out OK - I may do it again - although not a lot. The mashed potatoes were really good - but instead of swiss chard, we had Bybee Veggie Trio from Costco (green beans, carrots, corn). Very yummy and filling dinner!

This turned out really good - very creamy, and the raspberries were really good! Kids liked their regular-yogurt version of it - although our 6yo had cookies and cream instead of raspberries and cream. He did have to taste mine though - then of course wanted my dessert! As if!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm still learning and growing.

by Paul

I’m still learning about food and me.

For most my life I’ve been eating food wrong in one way or another.

For many years I was in hot pursuit of being a pro football player - so I ate everything... and ate it fast. I took weight gainers and other natural supplements to get bigger and stronger. In the Navy I was taught how to eat food quick and be on my way. I never had anyone in my life teach me what food really was or why we even eat food other than we need to eat it to “survive”. My nickname growing up in my family was “PIGPEN” because of how much and of what I ate - I ate everything.

One of the reasons I started losing weight is because of something one of my younger brothers said to me while we were at a huge buffet table - he said, “You know - you’re the biggest one of us brothers”. That was when I started on my first change and learning process.

After being over 300 pounds and getting back down to a more manageable weight, the last few years I’ve been learning slowly what food is and how I am affected by it. I’ve yo-yoed the last few years with different things going on in my life and it has got really frustrating. I’m learning as I go - and everytime I think I have it down, something happens and throws me back into bad habits. I hate that I’ve looked at food as some kind of reward - awarding myself for good deeds or accomplishments. It gets frustrating to keep knocking off the same weight I just took off a few months ago.

This past month after accomplishing my goal of finishing the PCT50 mile run I let myself party and I awarded myself free reign on all food and alcohol. What did that do for me? I ballooned up to 245 pounds on June 19th when I checked it.

When I am training I trick myself into thinking that I can eat anything I want - because I’m training so hard. That is not right either - it doesn’t matter - if you are eating more calories then you are expending then you stay the same or gain. I am slowly learning that I am treating food wrong in more ways than I thought.

This past week my wife and I started the Engine 2 Meal plan - which involves eating all plant-based foods and taking all animal-based foods out. What that has done in one week has amazed me - I’ve lost 10 pounds and my wife has lost 4 pounds. Which is pretty crazy, because we haven’t starved ourselves at all. I have had less calories because I was eating a lot before this, but my wife hasn’t - she probably added calories to her diet through this meal plan. It’s just everything we eat is plant-based.

I’ve learned something over this past week - and from some Ultra runners - that food is not everything and I shouldn't use it as an award for accomplishing my goals.

So now when I accomplish one of my goals I’m going to go shopping for some running gear or something else fun. I might even set up a mini vacation somewhere for those big accomplishments.

If I keep learning and growing then I’ll be happy in my eating and in my life.

E2 28 Day Challenge - Day 8

by Rachel

I have always been kind of afraid of pizza with no cheese... it just doesn't seem right! But the pizza we had today was so stuffed with veggies that it totally and completely made up for it!
We went to the store lastnight and saw a frozen pizza with no cheese - the veggies were SO sparse it's no wonder I never wanted to eat it!

Day 8

1791 cals (269g carbs, 56g fat, 73g protein, 52g fiber)

Rip’s Big Bowl

Tried raspberries and almonds this time instead of blueberries and walnuts - I think I like the walnuts better in this mix, but either fruit is yum!
Made some for the kids this time too - Paul says they liked it, but they needed some honey added to the mix :)

E2 Stuffed Pita with Cannellini Dip

Lunch was pita using cannellini dip - which I have never had! It's actually really low-cal - a 1/4 cup is only around 60 cals! - but I had a garlic-y aftertaste in my mouth for HOURS after lunch. Not sure what to do about that - I only added one clove of garlic. Maybe just use garlic powder instead?

Baby Field Greens Salad & Supreme Pizza

Pizza was AWESOME! We couldn't find the crust that E2 was talking about, so instead used Trader Joe's Middle Eastern Flatbread - turned out to be an excellent choice! We both had two pizzas, and the kids both had pizzas too (although theirs involved chicken nuggets and parmesan sauce, sans onions/mushrooms). Salad was just greens with olives, topped with a lite vinagrette that I made.

Frozen Blackberries with Soy Yogurt

REALLY liking the soy yogurt - and how many things I can use it for! Plain has always been something to shy away from for me, but I'm learning that it's great because of all you can add TO it!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

E2 28 Day Challenge - Day 7

by Rachel

I am spending a LOT of time in the kitchen - sheesh! But it's all good - when I don't spend any time in the kitchen I start to feel like I'm neglecting my family a little bit - and spending way too much money on convenience-type foods... so this has actually been a good change of pace! I'm also blogging and planning out meals from the kitchen counter (on our netbook) while sitting on a stool, so even MORE time in the kitchen lol

Day 7

1686 cals (264g carbs, 58g fat, 48g protein, 36g fiber)

E2 Pancakes with Blueberries, Bananas & Walnuts
I used Arrowhead Mills multigrain pancake mix - and the pancakes turned out really nice! I was a little worried due to no butter, but everything on top totally made up for it. Bananas, blueberries, walnuts, soy yogurt, and maple syrup! Really nice breakfast and everyone enjoyed it.

Never heard of a panini with no cheese, but the hummus really made up for it and I didn't miss the cheese! Paul was a little put off by the cilantro, but other than that it was a really good sandwich - I would make this again! The oranges were really sweet and juicy too :)

E2 Big Salad with Brussels Sprouts & New Potatoes
Didn't know exactly what Big Salad meant, so I just made a big salad lol
Romaine, carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper, tomatoes - dressing was 1tbsp EVOO, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp plain soy yogurt, and some spices
Microwaved the potatoes, and brussel sprouts to cook them a bit, then mixed them with EVOO/salt/pepper - and baked
I topped my potatoes/sprouts with soy yogurt, and Paul topped his with ketchup and hot sauce!
We liked this dinner - I don't usually buy brussel sprouts but I may again...

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
I don't have the E2 cookbook, so I went and found a recipe online - Ultimate Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - I have read Oh She Glows for awhile and really like her blog!
I only made a 1/3 recipe but there was enough for 2 cookies each, and a couple extra :)
These were really good for being vegan ^_^
If you can tell, I wanted to eat them so fast, I almost forgot to take a picture - but Paul reminded me... thanks babe!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

E2 28 Day Challenge - Day 6

by Rachel

Today the sun is SHINING!! It's beautiful out and I feel great - we survived the first "weekdays" of the challenge, and now it's time to try and survive the weekend. Which actually will be harder I think. I don't have the schedule of work to keep me in line... gotta remember to keep a BIG cup of water with me at all times to get in the amount of water I do during the week...

Day 6

1612 cals (230g carbs, 46g fat, 85g protein, 28g fiber)

Breakfast Tacos & Grapefruit Breakfast Scramble
I don't really buy grapefruit - Paul's not a fan. Actually we just skipped the fruit this morning... and I decided I didn't really want to make tacos specifically. So instead, I made potatoes, sauteed mushrooms/onions, crumbled veggie burger drizzled in maple syrup, and toast. It's more like what I like to make on the weekends for breakfast, but it has the same essence as what they have on the challenge. I liked it! Topped it off with Salsa Autentica from TJ's and I'm feeling pleasantly full!

Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries Veggie Burgers & Fries
Again with the no picture! Can't do much about it if I think about taking a picture after the fact... but this is the burger that we used for lunch - 14yo said it tasted a little indian-spiced, and I agree. But it was good on our burgers, and I made fries out of red potatoes, since our last sweet potato went to 6yo's project:::

E2 Basics Starter Salad & Meatloaf with Steamed Broccoli
I made the meatless meatloaf for dinner tonight - it actually turned out OK! It's about as close as you can get to meatloaf without putting any meat in it lol. Even the kids both ate it without complaints! Although, we were unsure they'd like it, so they had eaten top ramen like right before dinner - so they didn't finish their servings completely, but they ate until they were full - +1
Sides were frozen peas in the microwave, and a salad of the Sorrento Mixfrom TJ's, cucumber, yellow bell pepper, topped with 1 tbsp EVOO, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, onion/garlic powder, and some rosemary. All in all a great dinner!


I have made this before and we really like it - this time was no exception! We already keep all the ingredients as staples, so it's not a big to make. I crushed 1/4 cup almonds and sprinkled it on the chocolate before freezing it. Everyone liked it (even our 6yo that doesn't really like chocolate says he "Kind of" liked it)
It tastes very decadent, and with the almonds, is like an Almond Joy - one of my old favorites!
Unfortunately it was sooo good that the only thought I had was eating it, not taking a picture of it! :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

E2 28 Day Challenge - Day 5

Looking forward to the weekend, it is plain and obvious that I didn't even LOOK to see what was on the plan - I needed to make a quick trip to the store! Managed to find all I needed for the following week's plan (hopefully)

Day 5

2193 cals (456g carbs, 50g fat, 88g protein, 81g fiber)

This was the biggest bowl of oatmeal I have ever eaten! Over 1000 calories just in that bowl if you can believe it!
It was really hard to finish, same for Paul - but we did it - this 28 Day Challenge is definitely not about trying to starve yourself!
(It was pretty good - Paul said it was kind of blah)

This is where I started to realize I hadn't bought enough for the week - we ran out of beans! So, I cooked up a big batch of lentils instead... This is fairly simple - tortillas, lentils, salsa, and salad on top! It was pretty good for not being black or pinto beans...

Portobello Mushroom Burgers Veggie Burgers & Sweet Potato Fries

For some reason I didn't capture this one on the camera. I have had portobello mushroom burgers before, and I wasn't a huge fan, so I decided to swap it out for veggie burgers (this time tried Amy's Texas Barbeque Burgers). Used bread instead of burger buns... the Sweet Potato Fries were yum yum! Coated them with oil, cumin, and garlic/onion powder - cooked in the oven at 425.

Fruit Bowl with Oat-Nut Topping Leftover Sorbets
Still had leftovers from lastnight's fruit sorbets, so we finished that off for dessert :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

E2 28 Day Challenge - Day 4

by Rachel

I calculate my calories using - I have been a member of their site since 2008, and there are so many great tools - I've also blogged on their site since 2008.
My calories and other nutrients count are obviously estimations, and sometimes there are things that I forget to add in to the mix (like I forgot to add in the little bit of coconut oil that I used to start off the stir fry lastnight...) - but overall it's a pretty good means of figuring out what amount of calories you're eating.

One of the most important things you can do when you're trying to lose weight is to write down EVERYTHING you eat - and sparkpeople's nutrition tracker has been my go-to tool for this for a number of years!

Have any of you used with success? What other tools have you found useful for weight loss?

Day 4

1336 cals (237g carbs, 24g fat, 52g protein, 44g fiber)

Strawberries Mixed Berries and Whole Grain Toast

Had some frozen mixed berries to finish off (Pomeberry mix from Costco - yum!) so we topped our toast with that for breakfast. The juice from the berries melted into the toast

Green Leafy Wrap with Stir Fry
OK OK - this is NOT what was on the plan, that is what I get for not rereading before packing my lunch! It IS, however, a wrap, with lots of green leaves in it!
1 whole wheat tortilla, slathered with 4 TBSP homemade hummus, loaded with arugula salad, sprouts, stir fry, and the rest of the gnocchi - - with a side of cucumbers.
It was a very decent lunch, although not the one we were supposed to have - Paul said it was filling!

Unscheduled Snack
Sliced Sweet Potato

We had to wait for our 14yo to get home from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to eat dinner, so I was hunting for something quick and not a lot of calories to snack on...
1 sweet potato for each of us, microwaved for 4-5 minutes, and sliced up! It was very simple, and was enough to hold us over.
(we also ended up eating a couple crackers that our 6yo didn't want)

This is much like the taco nights that we already have a lot - so it wasn't much different (except no dairy or eggs). I did make eggs for the kids to put on theirs and they also had cheese and sour cream on theirs.
Pretty good!

Lemon Sorbet and Blueberries Strawberry Sorbet, Blackberry Sorbet, Watermelon Sorbet

We're not much for lemons, but I DID have a bunch of frozen fruit to use up! Made three different varieties, and I will say I probably didn't add enough agave - main complain was that the blackberry sorbet was too tart - more for me!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

E2 28 Day Challenge Day 3

by Rachel

Ever since I started training for my triathlon, I am drinking coffee every day. The only creamer options at work are the little creamer cups which I cannot stand anymore! So this week I'm using Westsoy Unsweetened Vanilla Soymilk in my coffee - which does add a little bit to the calorie count - but not too much.

Day 3

1212 cals (182g carbs, 31g fat, 49g protein, 33g fiber)


Had 1/2 cup shredded wheat, 1/4 cup Kashi nuggets (like grapenuts), 1/4 cup granola (Ancient Grains)
Added 1 banana on top, and poured on 1/2 cup vanilla soymilk


Used my FAVORITE all time bread - Trader Joe's Complete Protein Bread
slathered on 4 TBSP hummus, topped with sprouts, arugula/spinach salad, and cucumber slices
Very nice, crisp and easy lunch!
Side of l'orange please :)

E2 Basics Stir Fry over Brown Rice

This is the first time that I've enjoyed cooking and eating stir fry, I think...
1. Drained and sliced a block of extra firm tofu - seasoned with pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and Braggs
2. Chopped up a BUNCH of veggies, and cooked up 2 dry cups of brown rice
3. Heated up wok with 1 tsp coconut oil
4. Added tofu to wok, cooked for 3-4 minutes
5. Added (in order) onion slices, mushrooms, bell pepper, celery, broccoli, and garlic

To serve, I put .5 cup rice in a bowl, scooped on 1 cup of stir fry, and then squirted a couple squirts of Braggs on top.
I also made a quick sauce out of 1 cup veggie broth, some squirts of Braggs, and 1 tsp agave - I poured a tablespoon or so on top of it all, and served!

Paul and I really enjoyed this - 6yo son was able to eat it (but I don't think he really enjoyed it), and 14yo son found the mushrooms and got grossed out! Paul fished out the mushrooms, and then he was able to stomach his meal... :)

Sliced Apples with Lemon Juice Vanilla Avocado Banana Ice Cream

I decided to try the ice cream from - whipped it up in the blender, and put it in the freezer... but I didn't do it soon enough! It didn't freeze all the way by the time everyone wanted dessert, so it was more like vanilla yogurt instead :)
We topped it with sunflower butter and/or raspberry fruit spread - it was pretty good! I don't think it was a HUGE hit for the boys, but they did eat it - I probably won't make it again.

E2 - 28 Day Challenge - Day 2

I am going to try and capture these meals on camera - although it will only be with my cameraphone... Hopefully it will give a better idea of what we're eating here!

We are both really enjoying these past couple of days and are ready to keep going for the entire challenge!

Day 2

1912 cals (313g carb, 57g fat, 57g protein, 61g fiber)
(61g FIBER??!! crazy stuff)

Banana & Toast
This morning's breakfast was two pieces of toast, spread with 1 TBSP sunflower butter, and topped with a sliced banana - simple and yummy!

E2 Basics Wrap with Gnocchi

This was a very easy wrap to make - I had saved us each 1 cup of gnocchi to put on our wraps, but that ended up being WAAYY too much - we used 1/2 cup gnocchi.

(insert snack here!)
for snacks today we had an orange and 1/4 cup shredded wheat - just something to tide us over til dinner

Dinner Plate: E2 Black Beans & Rice Extravaganza
This was a HIT for everyone in the family! The sauce for the beans was really yummy mixed into the rice, and the veggie mix was awesome - the avocado gave it just enough moistness to tie all the veggies together! We will definitely be having this meal for years to come!

E2 Lime Mousse Vegan Chocolate Mousse with Blackberries and Cashew Cream Topping
(inspired by
OK the actual recipe for the mousse came from SparkRecipes - but I first heard of it on and also got the Cashew Cream from her site as well.
This turned out really well! My 6yo did not like it, but he doesn't really like chocolate anyways. My 14yo son ate his, plus his brother's! I wouldn't tell him what it was made from, but when he was almost done I finally told him it was avocados and he was SO surprised :)
Paul liked it, and I thought it was OK - I may make this again, but it's not a go-to recipe for me...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Engine 2 - 28 Day Challenge!

by Rachel

After hearing about the Engine 2 Diet, we went to Rip’s website and took a look at the basic tenets of his plan.

Basically, we are looking at a plant-based diet that is being touted as a way to be healthier, with results varying from weightloss to reversing heart disease and diabetes. 

We have always leaned towards less red meat, more birdmeat :) . But as the name suggests, we are omnivores at heart - and while Paul LOVES a really good steak, I feel like sometimes that I will not be able to survive without cheese, yogurt, sour cream, butter...

BUT... we are trying to get a kickstart right now - Paul needs to get out of his post-race relaxation/recovery, and I am buckling down to really have a great training summer to prep for my olympic triathlon in September.
So, we are doing the E2 28 Day Challenge!
I will blog about how it is going, and what we like / don’t like (and what the kids don’t like lol)

So, without further ado... Day 1!

Day 1

1825 cals (311g carb, 49g fat, 60g protein, 58g fiber)

This was almost 1000 calories! That is a ton for me for breakfast, but it was a really good kickstart to the challenge! I put granola in instead of uncle sam's - and blackberries instead of grapefruit - also no kiwi 

Very tasty! I made my own Hummus which ended up really low cal so I'm using 3 TBSP which does wonders for the pita! Added bell pepper, celery, green onion - mucho yum!

Kinda did my own thing on this - never had Gnocchi but me and hubby liked it - the kids... not so much lol
Peas instead of salad, and the red sauce was 1 can tom sauce, 1 can diced toms, lots o spices, and I put Trader Joe's Tempeh in the food processor to make "meat" crumbles - it turned out better than I thought it would - I think that's an a-ok for Tempeh (the first thumbs up I've had for it)

Frozen Cherries & Soy Yogurt
Plain soy yogurt is goood! Never had it before, but it doesn't even really need sweetener :)
instead of cherries, I cut up two strawberries, and added 1/2 cup blackberries - as my hubby said, "Very refreshing dessert!"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PCT50 - Reflections of my first ultramarathon

by Paul

Looking back I truly do not know where I got the idea to run a 50 mile Ultra Marathon, but I got it in me I could do it. I wanted to do something to push me beyond what I’ve ever done and I do not like swimming so that knocked an Ironman off the list of things to do. My wife read BORN TO RUN, which talks about a tribe in Mexico which run 100 miles or something, I haven’t read it yet as you can tell if you’ve read it. But I think that is the story that you as a human could run a hundred miles. So I put it in my head after I completed the Carlsbad Marathon I would chase down a Ultra Marathon.

I gave myself a couple days after the Carlsbad to rest then I got right into training. I had signed up for the PCT 50 mile run here in San Diego in the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest. I had heard of it from a man at the Bumble Bee 5K in December of 2010. So I started training for it after the Carlsbad with no idea of what I was doing or getting myself into at the beginning. I was telling people I was going to do this - and one time someone handed me a book from Dean Karnazes named “Ultramarathon Man”. After reading that I decided to up my miles from 40-50 miles a week to 75-113 miles a week, reading the book gave me the confidence that we as humans could run more then we were being told we could.

It was an weird experience to start going out and running 3-6 hours at a time almost every day. I never thought I could run this much without dying or falling apart. I went out and tested myself a few times with runs over 30 miles just to get over the 26.2 mile wall we mentally put up as the standard of endurance for most of us. I survived all of the training and was getting anxious for the real race. By the last two weeks before the race I was so wanting for it to be here so I could just start and see how I would do. There were so many challenges along the way during training that I was ready to just do the race already.

SO race day came - May 14, 2011! Surprisingly I was excited for it to be here, unlike most of my races where I am filled with lots of stress. I really wanted to be out there in the wild chasing this goal I set out for myself so many months before. This race has a 7500 ft elevation change throughout the race you start at 3000ft and run up to 6000ft with many up and downs along the way. I don’t think I could have prepared for that unless I had run it before. I did go on a training run up on the Pacific Crest Trail in April just so I could scope out the terrain a bit, that helped to see some of the trail.

At 6am 138 people started running on the single track PCT heading up a steady climb for the first 14 miles. For a lot of the race we would be at or near 6000ft elevation and I could feel my heart pounding during this time trying to get oxygen to every part of my body.
The first 6.4 miles you start at Boulder Oaks Campground and head up to Fred's Canyon Rd, where your first Aid Station is. I was feeling pretty good and my time was spot on with what I wanted, I yelled in my number filled up my bottles of water, ate half a PnJ sandwich and headed out yelling my number out.
The next 7.3 miles were a grueling climb up to Dales Kitchen Aid Station in the middle of these pine trees. I was feeling it by the time I got to Dales a bit but still felt good. I ate part of a PnJ sand again added some pretzels and filled up the bottles again headed out.
Next was a 3.8 mile mostly flat trek up to Todd’s Cabin Aid Station, which had a little trail heading down to the cabin (which stunk going back up to get to the PCT again). I refueled again with the usual PnJ, pretzels, 1 salt tab. This was also the first place your crew member or family could see you and help you. My wife and kids were crewing for me and cheering for me. It was so nice to see them for the minute I stayed at Todd’s cabin, but it was worth it.

This run was different then a regular marathon - you didn’t have people along the path to cheer you on. This was you against the mountain and trail.
Next was a 5.2 mile run to Penny Pines Aid Station where your crew member and family could see you and help you if needed. First time through here I just refueled and kissed my family while eating. I was feeling pretty tired at this point and feeling the elevation in my chest beat down on me. Oh the bugs were awful going through that part also I was looking forward to putting bug spray on next time through Penny Pines.

My wife and I planned to reapply sunscreen/bugspray second time through Penny which would be around 27.3 miles a little over half way. From Penny Pines you had a 2.3 mile run out to the halfway mark, drop a card off that some one gave you at Penny Pines, and head back to Penny Pines. During all of this I was watching my time and was on schedule for my ultimate goal for the Ultra (around 11 hours). At the aid stations, I was not paying much attention to things other then eating food and grabbing water. But as I found out later I needed to focus on a few other things also.

As I was running I would meet up with other runners and we'd have to try to go around each other on this single track trail which turned out to be pretty difficult at times. Every time you went by some one that was all the encouragement you got other then at the Aid Stations. Every one passing said some kind of words of encouragement and that made you feel good. Most of these people had raced a Ultra or did something equivalent like a Ironman. For me this was my first experience and it was starting to show on the way back to Penny Pines.
I was feeling every bit of exhaustion and the elevation and it was dragging on my legs. My feet were killing me (I was wearing New Balance MT 101′s) I will never wear those shoes again for this race or any trail race lasting longer then 10 miles. I learned this trail was mostly rocks (loose and hard rocks sticking out of the ground) and I had tripped about 15 times, not falling but crushing my toes and stumbling along. On parts of this trail you do not want to stumble because there is a nice sheer cliff on one side.
Coming back into Penny Pines the second time, I was happy to see my family and get wiped down and reapply Sunscreen/bugspray (2n1 spray bottle). People were getting stung along the trail from different bugs and bees, those pesky things were swarming me at times scaring the crap out of me.:)

My wife had started cleaning me off with a wet rag and I was standing there thinking I hope I can make it through this, she was saying all kinds of beautiful things to keep me going - so were the kids and it felt awesome to have them there cheering me on and helping me. I was battling inside to stay on track to my time goal but I forgot about the ultimate goal of finishing, and I was not paying attention to one of the key factors of running an UltraMarathon which is to hydrate and take salt tabs. I was drinking water and HEED and other products but I had only taken 2 salt tabs since the beginning and it was starting to set in on my body.
After leaving Penny Pines I hit a wall and was suffering big time in the elevation and the first signs of dehydration which then turned my mind against me. I was coming apart mentally and physically - and, well let's just say it was getting unbearable in the feet department. I could feel every rock or hard surface bruising my feet as each step I took.
When I got to Todd’s Cabin the second time around I was beat - my feet hurt, my thighs burned, and I was feeling the elevation more with each step. The soreness everywhere was not bad except for the feet at this point - those shoes were a bad choice at this point. At Todd’s this was the last time I would see the family for 17 more miles. They were cheering me on and giving me all the love they could and at this point I tried to enjoy it because I had a lonely road ahead. I ate and refueled and headed back out slowly.

Along the way to Dale's Kitchen I got my second wind and started going after it again faster for about 4 miles. I was really feeling great again, I thought I could get this in the dream time I wanted. When I pulled into Dale’s it wasn’t all that bad I ate some more and got some more water. I headed back out for the last 13 miles.
About 10 miles out, the first bouts of stomach issues started hitting me where I couldn’t move with out feeling like I had to go to the bathroom. I had to take a break in the woods or more like the bushes. Finding a place where you could have some privacy was a very difficult thing to do out on this trail. I started also to get light headed and nauseated. I couldn’t run any longer without upsetting my stomach so I had to walk which deflated me to no end. I couldn’t take a step without excruciating pain on my feet from the poor choice of shoes. SO then the battle started - the real battle to keep one foot in front of the other without quitting.
I didn’t realize I was dehydrated, I thought I had ate too much or ate something wrong because the bouts of diarrhea and stomach cramps. I didn’t realize until later that I hadn’t peed for over 3 hours. It wasn’t until the end that I realized I was dehydrated. See I had never experienced a huge race like this - AND I'd never experienced dehydration this badly. I should have been salting every stop or took some with me. The marathons I had done didn’t prepare me for this long of a run.
When I got to Fred’s Canyon road for the last time there was 6 miles left to go and I was not feeling well. I came into the Aid Station feeling sick and not wanting to eat or do anything. One of the Volunteers asked if I wanted to have ice water dumped on my neck and I quickly said yes - he continued to pour water over me three times. That had woke me up enough to get a bit of a jolt in me. I also took a little Sprite to settle my stomach - thinking my stomach was upset because of food not because of the dehydration. The EMT’s were visiting with runners who were dropping out of the race and it kind of scared me, so I left as quickly as I could - thinking only six miles left.
This is where the race was going to change me for the rest of my life, the things I mentally had to go through were some of the toughest things I had to do in my life. People were passing me that I was at least a hour ahead of and that was knocking my spirit down even more. I had this battle going on inside of me - I can’t put into words without welling up with tears remembering it all. I had this constant voice trying to stop me trying to persuade me from going any further - at the same time I had this other voice fighting to keep me upright. My feet were killing, my spirit failing me (from all the others passing me and just the thought that I was failing at what I wanted to do). But something inside of me - some strength I didn’t know I had until this race - kept those feet going - kept me from stopping and sitting.
I had put so much into this race - the 5 months of training - the hours of running - the sacrifice my family made for me to chase this goal. I couldn’t let them down and most of all I couldn’t let myself down. I still had a belief in me (which in my past I did not have) - somewhere along the way I found the love and belief in myself to conquer everything that is thrown at me - and I was getting everything thrown at me this race. Every part of me was fighting to stop but this voice or spirit or whatever you want to call it kept me going.
I finished in 12 hours and 4 minutes.

This is me finishing looking all but dead. Totally bloated, lightheaded, nauseated and a nice bout of diarrhea. Well if that is too much information than you probably have never ran one of these races. :)

I was doing this race not for the fanfare at the end or any other reason other than to push myself - to see if I could do something most people don’t even think or know about. After coming to the finish line I was so sick, but I felt such pride and strength flow through me. I sat down in the EMT’s tent and they salted me watered me and gave me sugars and in about 20 minutes I felt a lot better. It’s amazing what dehydration can do to you and you not even realize it.

I come away from this race so much stronger and with a confidence I never had about myself. I can’t explain it but some thing about the battle on that trail changed me forever and for the better. I only started running for distance 4 years ago as a 300 pound man looking to change his life - for his family but most of all for this depressed overweight man who was totally unhappy with his life.
I come away from this battle, this race, the strongest person I’ve ever been. I’m still 225 pounds and now I’m going to chase that 200 pound mark and I believe I can do it. This race will always stick in my mind as the life-changing event I needed to help change my mind and body forever.

If you ever decide on doing an UltraMarathon make sure you read up on it. Spend time in the Aid Stations, hydrate and salt tab yourself more often than I did. If you’re not doing it to get into the top 5 finishers then take care of yourself as you go. Tests like this will change the way you see yourself, believe me it changed me forever and now next year I want to get better shoes, take care of myself better along the race and kick it’s butt all over the place.
 After more contemplation, I have fallen in love with this sport and the people in it.