Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Welcome 2018, Flu vs. Toenails, Across the Years 24 Hour Run

How quickly we forget.

That is why so many older people do ultras, our memories are poor so we soon forget any suffering we might have endured, and we go back for more.

As I threatened, I went to Across the Years to run the 24 hour race with my Colorado buddies Sasquatch and Anne and Matt Watts.

Dale (Sasquatch, aka Richard Cranium) is coming off treatment as well as a stem cell transplant for cancer, and he's been training almost the whole time. We've run infrequently together this year but enough times that I've seen him over pretty much the whole treatment ordeal. We ran for about 5 hours together one day a month ago and he was doing extremely well.

We all signed up for the 24 hour race on the 30th, instead of the New Years Eve day. It would be less crowded on the track and more laid back. Matt had about 80 miles to go before he got his 1000 mile jacket at Across the Years, so his goal was clear. Anne was out to get 50K or so and that's all she wanted. Her ulterior motive, so I found out, was to get away from Matt, who had apparently picked up a case of rabies and was compulsively howling at the moon and foaming at the mouth.

I flew down ahead of time and stayed with my family in Scottsdale, and rented a car to haul my crap across town for race day. I met Dale at the track at 7 am on race morning, and we rented a table and set up our stuff. Dale's friend Tom Hamilton, who was in the six-day race, generously offered his tent in case we needed to crash or change clothes or store our stuff.

                                                                                We got our packets and goodie bags, and our ankle transponders. We proceeded to the timing tent to harass our Floridian friend Mike Melton, who was doing the timing and complain about his GPS accuracy. We saw our friends Nattu and Karen, Karen was in the 72 hour race, and Nattu was kicking back, prepping for his upcoming race at HURT and crewing for Karen. I don't think I've seen them since 2011 when I did the Badwater double. They both look the same, fit and happy and it was great to see them!

Finally, it was time for the pre-race briefing before our 9 am start. Mike did a demo of how to make the turn every four hours, since a runner's IQ is proven to decline by 5 points per hour of running. Something like that. They only allow geniuses into the 6 Day race, for that reason.

Soon it was time to start, and we were off. Around the course, which has a variety of surfaces- packed dirt, asphalt, slightly looser softer dirt on the narrow section, and then this hellacious 150 or 200 meter stretch of loose, deep pea gravel, that is new since the last time I ran there in 2011-2012. It certainly added a challenge, both mentally and to the feet, adding a degree of shear that provided excellent conditions for blistering.

The weather forecast was for warm and sunny conditions, high of 76 and low of 45. It looks nice on paper, but it was pretty warm that day. I started with the crowd, running slowly for a lap or so, until I thought, I really don't feel like running now. Maybe later. With 21 minutes of running on my watch, I started to walk, and it felt comfortable and enjoyable and so I stuck with it for the duration.

I spent more time socializing and in the food tent than I ever normally would. The food offerings were perfect, they had my PBJ standby, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and plenty of other good stuff. The best thing was the fresh vegetarian sushi they made in the aid station. Wow.

I saw an old running acquaintance who used to live in Fort Collins but has since moved to Arizona, Rick. He was volunteering at the aid station so we got a chance to chat for a while. And Steve Finkelstein, who in past years would be found in the timing tent, was there to visit. I saw so many runners I've known for years, it was so much fun to catch up and be there.

Every four hours at the turnaround Mike and his helpers would be leading some kind of dance at the turnaround point, depending on the time of day, it looked like a bunch of staggering uncoordinated lunatics, making sure everyone went in the right directions round the orange cones.

At 12 hours I had just hit about 40 miles. I had roughly estimated I might get 70 or 80 miles at best, so it seemed reasonable. I rewarded myself by using the real bathroom, with flush toilets. It was warm in there. It didn't really get cold until about 11 pm and I grabbed some extra clothes off the table and took them with me into the real bathroom on the next lap. There were few people in the bathroom and I used one of the stalls to get changed. I was trying to pull my compression shorts up over my shoes and up my legs without cramping or falling over. I was having to contort myself in this little stall. Why I chose to go in there to change is beyond me, but like I said, the IQ does diminish.

In the middle of my contortion act, I suddenly thought of my friend Stephanie Willingham. This was a classic moment that we would have shared, if she were crewing me, she'd be helping me, and we'd be giggling. And so I started giggling, hysterically, so hard that I started to get side stitches and worse cramps. To the point that I was almost howling, I could hardly breathe I was laughing so hard and my sides hurt so bad. The other people in the bathroom could hear this, and one person asked me if I was all right. One of those, you had to be there moments. I finally freed my foot from the bottom of the shorts and pulled things up, and was able to catch my breath and return to the race.

Throughout the night, Matt Watts had been lapping me constantly, and every time he came up behind me, he launched into a barkfest, startling all of the people nearby at the moment, and a few times, me. I think he was concerned that I missed Gypsy and Velcro and wanted me to feel at home. Most of the time I was checking over my shoulder, but a few times he got me good! I promised there would be paybacks.

I had taped my feet before the start because I knew I had not spent enough time on them to prepare for 24 hours on these varied surfaces. Anticipating my usual problem spot, under the ball of my left foot. My feet actually felt good until at least midnight, so I didn't mess with them. Dale was being meticulous about his feet, changing his socks and shoes every few hours. But I prefer to leave my feet alone unless I feel there is something going on. My hands weren't swollen much, I had been peeing plenty, and I was taking in fluids and S caps. I think what happened was when the temperatures dropped at night, that's when everything got thrown off. Around 2:30 am I noticed my right heel was bothering me, and it was affecting my gait. I had about 56 miles, I think. My right calf hurt from raising my heel, avoiding putting my full weight on that side. Time to look at the feet.

I stopped in the medical tent to ask if they minded if I work on my own feet in there, and they were fine with that. It would be warmer in there, and if I had a cramp they could help me. I went to my table and grabbed my foot supplies and a fresh pair of socks. My left foot felt fine, so I didn't want to touch it.

Once I got my shoe and sock off the right foot, I discovered that I had a huge blister on my right heel, which I had to cut with scissors because I couldn't lance it with a pin. A huge amount of fluid poured out onto the floor of the tent. The top of my right foot had also blistered, and popped on its own. That was bloody, so I cleaned it best I could, and covered it with antibiotic ointment, telfa, and a tegaderm.

Getting my freshly socked right foot back into my shoe was one of the most painful experiences I've had in some time. I managed to get the shoe on, but then I couldn't walk- couldn't put weight on my heel. I taped it so it would continue to drain with the direction of force as I walked, but it wasn't ready for body weight. I thought I was done. I decided to go into the warming tent and sit for a while, have some hot cocoa and figure out a plan.

When I entered the tent, I saw Sasquatch, doubled over in a chair, dozing. I pulled up a chair close by and he stirred. He told me he experienced a wave of nausea and was in there taking a break to see if he recovered. I think I dozed, hunched over in the chair, from about 5 am to 6:15 am, when I opened my eyes and looked at my watch. Sasquatch was still dozing. Finally at about 6:45 am I got out and started moving slowly. Sasquatch got out soon after me.

Tom Hamilton saw me at the timing tent, as I asked for assistance with figuring out which direction I should be going in. He got me off my butt to do a few more laps. Somehow I got about 6 more miles in before the finish and finished with 61.9 miles. Just short of 100 K. Sasquatch ended up with 55 plus miles.

It was easy to pack up given the race setup and rented tables. I dragged my stuff back to the car and took off for my dad's house. It's only 35 minutes in early morning weekend traffic. I got home and spent the next 24 hours sleeping, eating, and recovering.

On the afternoon of the 1st, I started to feel a little sniffly, but I wondered if it was just the bad air quality in Phoenix. By the time I woke up on the second, it was clearly some kind of a cold, as it had moved into my throat. I tried to keep from passing it to my dad and stepmom, and did a few things but took it pretty easy. I was supposed to see my friend Heidi, who recently moved to Scottsdale from Flagstaff, and I warned her about the cold. We ended up meeting in south Scottsdale and went for a walk.

My legs felt fine, but my left big toenail was turning purple and felt really weird. I wore sandals all day because any pressure on that toe hurt. Plus my other foot was completely bandaged up from the open blister.

Wednesday I had to fly back to Colorado and I kept a scarf over my face, took some cough medicine and cough drops to keep from sharing the love...I had some masks too but they were so hot on my face and itched my nose it drove me crazy. The flight was quick and easy, and everything went smoothly. By the time I got home I felt like death warmed over.

What is more annoying- having the flu or having a sore toenail? While I have the flu I can forget about my toenails except when the sheets brush over them...what a creepy feeling. Anyway, I took my temperature which was 99.8, so something was going on. Not sure if it was the flu, but I stayed home all week and slept a lot. Managed to get a little work done despite everything, even though the first two days I was home, my head felt like it weighed 50 pounds and it hurt.

I'm feeling a little better today, slept without taking anything last night and no coughing fits.

Here's I want to say, now that I've told my race story.

1. I ran this event with an eye on the conditions, as I have been on the fence about two things, one is a return to doing more ultras- yes, my competitive nature will surely come out in full swing if I do. And the other thing is doing a six day race and where I want to do that. This course showed me that I'll either have to have feet that are tough as nails, or find a different venue for that length of a race.

2. Don't put things off. I learned this with my Badwater Double. If you are thinking about doing something, don't wait. Do it now. You might not have a chance later, or it might not be as easy to get to. Look at Dale, he is back at ultras even with a big question mark hanging over his head with regards to his cancer, but he made the most of it this year and did what he wanted to do. You never know what can happen. Don't take your health for granted.

3. I forgot briefly, in my absence, that ultras in general, and Across the Years specifically, have been a powerful motivator for me as I've gotten older. I've always watched the people in their 60s, 70s and 80s at this event with admiration: Karsten Solheim, Don Winkley, Jeff Hagen, Jeannie McDaniel, are just a few examples of people who continue to inspire me, showing me that there is no limit to human endurance with aging. Sure you might not get as many miles in, or as fast, but their spirit is what counts. And their performances are phenomenal. Jack Denness, Bob Becker, Art Webb at Badwater are some other examples.

I feel so privileged to know these people and have shared miles with them on the same course. And as the years go on, my friends and I are moving into their shadows, following their footsteps, and we'll soon be the old-timers at the events.

4. I have about 180 miles left to get my 1000 mile jacket. I think I can reasonably accomplish that in two years, if I sign up for the 48 hour at least once in those two years. I am going to plan on doing the 48 hour next year and then whatever's left over, I will sign up accordingly the following year. If all goes well. You never know.

5. This blog officially is having it's tenth anniversary. YAY! And now I might even blog more frequently, now that the book is done and I can focus on other pursuits. The book, by the way, will be out in two weeks. You can check out the info here and I'll post on this blog when it's officially available on Amazon.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

On Power, Nursing, and Sunsets: A Long Overdue Rant!!

"My job is ________ (insert true purpose), not to be a cog in the wheel!"

Okay, so as a nurse, I would fill in the blank with patient advocacy.

Why THIS rant, and why NOW?

It's been quite the week, or several...

Recent events have reminded me of why I left traditional healthcare setting to become a nurse entrepreneur and do the work I am passionate about.

One is the Harvey Weinstein scandal and all of the related accusations that have followed.

Another is the latest revelation of an eye surgeon physically assaulting a nurse in the operating room, in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood.

Still another is hearing someone's account of going through the wringer just to get a diagnosis and chance at treatment of her metastatic cancer.

And another is being almost done with my book, and after toning down my passion and enthusiasm so as not to be perceived as angry, I was told I need to put some teeth back in the book by my most honest critic, which I gladly did. (Why can't women be angry? We certainly deserve to be. Those are valid feelings. We don't have to shut up because it makes somebody uncomfortable.)

And finally, today I received yet another e-mail from a nursing organization offering a continuing education module, sponsored by a drug company, about pancreatic cancer.

What do all these things have in common?

They all have to do with a power gradient and how the powerful can push, shove, elbow, sneak, and bludgeon their way to maintaining the status quo.

Hearing about the surgeon assaulting the nurse, according to the allegations, the surgeon was barely slapped on the wrist, while the nurse was bullied by the powers that be, reducing her hours, moving her to a different floor, and not being taken seriously. It doesn't matter that it was not sexual assault. Harvey Weinstein used his power to manipulate, threaten, and ruin the careers of women who did not acquiesce to his demands. Nurses are seen as an expense in the healthcare system, expected to stay quiet, cooperative, and inexpensive. Surgeons, on the other hand, are revered as money makers. In a healthcare system that values profit over patient outcomes, this is what you get.

And if a patient is emotionally needy, scared, and anxious, maybe even a bit dramatic, the doctors avoid her, push her out of the way, write notes to each other about her, and try to push her off onto someone else. Instead of seeing her for where she is and what she's facing, and considering what might be driving her behavior, the doctors are focusing on the behavior and seeing the patient as the problem.

To top it off, I saw this email about continuing nursing education on pancreatic cancer. I like to keep up with the latest in cancer treatment, and I opened the email to read the information inside. I skimmed over it, finding very little useful information, and when I reached the bottom, there it was, sponsored by Celgene.

Just another one of those mind-numbing continuing education opportunities that continue to focus more on the characteristics of the disease and treatments themselves, rather than on helping the patient heal and regain quality of living. Once again, there was plenty of material about the common symptoms and disease characteristics, but at the end , a few crumbs were thrown in the direction of mentioning quality of life, without any substance or real attempt to help nurses develop new tools or skills to make a difference for patients where they exist in their own lives.

And this is the problem in nursing- because nurses are an expense, expendable, and an afterthought, we are thrown a few crumbs by the big powerful drug companies, who make it easy for us to digest what they want us to parrot to the patients, to keep them coming back for more. Meanwhile, the qualities of creativity and intellectual curiosity are removed from nurse education. Who wants to be creative or investigate new ideas when they've been on their feet for 13 hours?

Being a cog in the big wheel of profit-driven healthcare is what is expected of nurses. Even if we get assaulted on the job. And it's happening more frequently. We're speaking out.

It's very frustrating to the powerful to not get their way.

Before I forget, watching Roy Moore's horse's ass ride off into the sunset- his defeat was delightful. It was a wonderful occasion to appreciate a Hanukkah present for this nonobservant JEW. You schmuck. And your evil wife.

I love sunsets, don't you?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Death By A Thousand Cuts

One year ago was the nailbiter election that ended in shock, disappointment and disbelief for many Americans. I can remember staying up past midnight and hearing the results, which set off a storm of depression, frustration, and anger with my fellow citizens who voted for him.

The narcissistic con man who openly flaunted his connection to Russia during the debates and boasted that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York and shoot someone and not lose any voters.

The chickens have come home to roost.

Today is also an election day. One of the low turnout ones- seemingly minor issues and seats, such as school board elections, tend to receive little attention and people think they can just blow it off.

You can't. Right here in my town of Fort Collins we have a race between two school board candidates, one who cares about her community, has demonstrated her commitment to her community and the schools, wants all children to get an education and have opportunities, and wants transparency in the school board. She is running against a Betsy Devos-type clone who has already had a career in politics, with less demonstrated commitment to the schools than his commitment to the oil and gas industry.

These off-year elections can't be ignored. We are losing our democracy by apathy, our failure to hold our elected leaders accountable to us as citizens, and we can't afford to do this anymore.

The NRA has held our safety and mental health hostage for too long. So has Citizens United. I am calling every politician who has taken money from the NRA a complicit terrorist. Just like the many terrorists who have shot up schools, churches, concerts, restaurants, like in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, and in all the forthcoming shootings, because we know they are going to happen.

There is some talk about the preponderance of white men committing these mass murders. It's worth a look. I'm no forensics expert but it seems like when it comes to bizarre antisocial behavior and gun violence, these mass shootings are perpetrated by a lot of white men. What is driving this? Entitlement? Frustration? Fear of losing their privilege, control and power?

I have always been a little afraid of white men in pickups with NRA stickers, gunracks, and such. Even the display of the American flag on a vehicle gives me a little uncomfortable feeling, ever since the post-9/11 jingoistic craze. That's sad, because it's my flag too. But I see people using it in a way that I read as, "There's only one way to be an American, MY way!"

The symbol feels tainted, they've hijacked something that belongs to all of us and made it symbolic of something ugly. That's how it feels to me. Like being forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, or being forced to put your hand over your heart and stand during the National Anthem, or say one nation under God with liberty and justice for all like they did in public school, when you know in your heart it's not true.

The sexual assault and harassment talk is also blowing up the news- more crimes committed, mostly by men in positions of power and privilege. A lot of white men. I don't even need to go there right now, I've written about this before. It's long past time we took on this issue, but we need to keep in mind that we elected a known sexual predator!!!

Every single day we hear news about these horrible violent acts, and every day it feels like another stab in the gut. I don't want to read the news anymore, but I have to, I feel I need to know what's going on in the world, to be informed and aware. But it hurts, and it hurts worse every day, and it's cumulative, and it feels like the day after Donald Trump was elected and I felt cut down to the floor, punched in the stomach and kicked in the head. And every time I hear about these scoundrels in Washington doing things to undermine our democracy and getting away with crimes that should have taken any of them down before they ever got close to Washington DC, I get that feeling again.

I'm trying to figure out ways to cope, so that it doesn't kill me, so I don't have health consequences from this, but it's that heavy feeling, like when you take a deep breath in, it hurts deep in your gut, to open up your lungs, like you've been pummeled in the ribs and sternum and belly. It's an actual physical ache I can feel, like I'm destroyed and hopeless, at my lowest point ever, after a huge setback, loss, or disappointment.

I just keep hoping something happens, soon, to turn things around, because I don't know how much more of this I can take. Maybe a lot. Maybe not much.

I need to say this stuff. Don't feel bad for me, I know I'm not alone and I know I'm not the only one who resists this crap. Do me a favor, if you're feeling bad at all after reading this, go to your local polling place and cast your ballot. Responsibly. Just go, exercise your rights as a citizen, while we still have the right to vote. It's the least you can do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Child of the Sixties

If you're looking for sex, drugs and rock n' roll, sorry to disappoint you!

I was born in 1964, the tail end of the baby boom generation. I'm the last of them, as we straggle off into the sunset of our golden years.

I'm really a child of the American pharmaceutical industry. I'm dependent on them, on four counts now. How does an otherwise healthy, fifty-something adult-lifelong runner end up on four different prescriptions before age 54? Mostly it's bad genes.

As a result of genes, I have defective organs, namely, thyroid, brain, and liver. Hashimoto's thyroiditis and other thyroid disorders run in my family. We all have wacked-out thyroids. So I take two meds daily for that.

Next is my brain. I have wacked-out neurotransmitters, serotonin and my serotonin receptors like each other too much. They are in love with each other and cling tightly to one another, it's very dysfunctional and they really need to get over themselves and get a life, at least give each other a break once in a while. In me, it causes depression. And probably, mild anxiety, which I never really thought I had, until I hit menopause. Those also run in my family, though people never talk about it.

Finally, and I hope this is the last one, but the night is young...and so am I, for a baby boomer...I have a defective liver. It makes cholesterol like rabbits make bunnies. That's in my family too. I've been able to manage my cholesterol in the past with diet, but it doesn't seem to work so well anymore. Recently I got my cholesterol checked again. I've always had very high HDL (aka "the good cholesterol"), this time it was 92. But I've never had high LDL (aka "the bad cholesterol") before, and while my total cholesterol has always run a bit high, the LDL wasn't an issue until now.

Besides genes, maybe it's menopause, diet, a 20 pound weight gain, relative inactivity compared to what I used to do, hormones, age, or who knows. Anyway, on my recent labs, my cholesterol took a giant leap into the high 200s along with my LDL being in the high 100s. Therefore, I chose to start taking a statin. Today.

That's for a couple of reasons- one is I have stopped avoiding wheat, just out of sheer hedonism, and that over the past year I've been pretty stressed out (it's the Trump effect). I've been indulging in far too many calories, both from things like bread and from alcohol. I really do blame it on the Trump effect, because I've gained about half of it over the past year. I just feel the need to calm my nerves in the evening with a couple of beers, or margaritas.

Many years ago I thought I was one of those tough people who didn't need antidepressants, could just tough it out myself, ya know. pull myself up by my bootstraps and snap out of it... well, it doesn't work that way for a lot of people. These drugs save my life. After several bouts of persistent depression starting in my late twenties that I got through on my own without drugs, finally I got wise in my late thirties and tried them. They truly are a miracle drug for those who need them. Made a world of difference. It's funny, even after the first time I tried them, I tried going without, and I managed to do without them for years, until I became a nurse. That changed everything.

Now I know better, and I still hear the old stigma come out of so many patients and clients mouths, and people in general. They think it's a weakness to depend on drugs to help with depression. And they won;'t go for therapy either, that's also a weakness. Well, not everyone's depression is the same. If you need it, you'll know it, because when you try it, you'll see the difference, sometimes in just a few days.

I had a lot of reservations about the statin, you hear things like liver damage, diabetes, muscle aches, and so on. I'm going to try it, and I'm on a tiny dose, but if I feel like I'm doing okay with it, and my lipids don't drop as expected, I will increase the dose. We're going to recheck in eight weeks. I don't need a stroke or MI. As an athlete, statins can cause muscle problems for some people who can't tolerate them- aches, tendon problems. I am on the lookout for that, but I know I need to do something at this point. If I can't tolerate the statin I'll try something else. But I hope I can.

I can remember when I was first diagnosed with thyroid disease and found out I would be taking a pill for the rest of my life- that was before the second thyroid medication got added- and I felt like somehow I;d failed as a healthy person because I was no longer able to say I don't take any drugs. The false pride of youth. Yes some people- rarely these days- do get through adulthood and into old age without taking ANY medications. That's wonderful and it's also very lucky from the standpoint of the gene pool. It doesn't mean you take perfect care of yourself, but then, there are people who take lots of pills and take immaculate care of themselves- and they just have bad genes.

Me, I have never been too extreme on either end. But this latest addition to my little collection has been a bit of a wake up call, I have definitely let everything slide over the past year, maybe even two or three when it comes to running. I do need to lose weight, I do need to run more, I do need to watch what I eat, I do need to drink less, and I do need to accept that I am not in my 20s or 30s with a resilient, high energy body and metabolism anymore.

However, I do still enjoy running, and I have the wisdom, hopefully, of having seen a brief glimpse of the other side, the less healthy side, the one that so many people live to an extreme degree- overweight, sedentary, self-neglectful...and I don't want to go there.

So, this morning, I looked at my growing pill pile- four pills now, one broken in half- (that's the levothyroxine broken in half once a week to reduce my dose slightly- so I don't go flying off hyperthyroid- been there, you wouldn't like me much)- and I decided I'm going back, the other way, to the healthier side. I will find ways to calm myself other than by cracking a beer or mixing a marg. I will pay attention while eating, so I don't eat too much. I will get my ass out the door and run more days than not. And I will keep boxing.

But as I gazed at the pills in my hand, I was thankful- really thankful- that these drugs exist, because I probably wouldn't have made it to this point without them, and I have a chance to continue living a life I really do enjoy. Thanks, in part, to these drugs. And I'm also very thankful for the insurance I have to make them affordable and accessible to me. Everyone should have that opportunity when they need it. Gulp! Bottoms up*!

*Always drink plenty of water with your medication...

There Goes the Sun 12 Hour Fat Ass

The sun was already gone.

I participated in this third ever Fat Ass event at Lake Arbor in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, last Sunday. I'd been looking forward to it for months, it was the only thing that got me off my literally fat ass to do some long runs this summer. I did actually train for this, with three long runs (and just about nothing else) so my legs and feet wouldn't give up in protest.

Despite the past two iterations of this event being blessed with nice weather, this time it was a rainy weekend, and while Saturday seemed to be the worse day for rain, Sunday was a fairly steady light drizzle, in between periods of not raining briefly, followed by occasional harder rain.

My goal for this run was to get 50 miles in. My long runs had consisted of 4, 6, and 8 hour runs on Centennial Drive hills at Horsetooth, plenty of pavement and vertical. I didn't need the hills but they are always helpful. The course at Lake Arbor is a concrete path surrounding a lake, with a few gentle rises and descents that are hardly noticeable, 1.15 miles per loop according to the sign at the park, but some people said it was really 1.2 miles on their GPS. Who's counting?

I arrived early to find Sasquatch, aka Richard Cranium, aka Dale Perry, sitting there in his car in the dark. I walked over, he said he thought the start was at 6 am, but it was 7. We started to set up our stuff under the pavilion, to protect us from the rain, though at the time it wasn't raining. Soon Marissa DeMercurio showed up. Marissa and Pete, her husband, put this event on, it's a low-key, family event, my friend Connie also helps out, she is Marissa's mom.

I set up my table and all my stuff as well as I could, being out of practice from the ultra routine. I arranged the peeps along the entrance and exit to the pavilion. I got orange colored pumpkin peeps this time. Then I set up Dale's favorite item, the enema bag. I have always threatened to give ice water enemas in the running circles I frequent, to the obnoxious guys I suffer, as my alterego Nurse Ratched, or, Ratched, RN. I decorated it with a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce that I called the lubricant suppository.

Where else but in ultras can you be this crude and disgusting anymore? Life is short, you gotta have fun, you gotta say FU sometimes. I refuse to grow up and be a lady, like I told my mom over 40 years ago. Eyes on the prize.

Vince Gerber showed up from Estes Park, and Matt Clark from Fort Collins too. We started at 7 am and the sprinklers turned on near the starting area, necessitating that we get wet even before it actually started raining. Vince also added some color to the Peep collection. He got the reputation for eating the butts off my Peeps at this event one year. I guess he felt guilty...

As the day wore on, I realized how out of shape I really am, my body is not at all used to being on its feet for this many hours. I also made the poor choice of wearing my most worn out pair of running shoes. I stuck to my plan which was to run half the time, powerwalking the other half. I got three hours of running in by the six hour mark, but after that I ran out of steam, both mentally and physically. I'd say it turned into the last 6 hours of light powerwalking. I turned my tunes on and settled into a brisk pace, but not my usual power blast.

It was fine. I was out there with the ducks, the geese, a few of my favorite people and some other runners who were there enjoying the rain. All was right. Plus, Marissa made awesome grilled cheese sandwiches and heated water for our warm drinks. I changed my clothes around halfway, it wasn't raining hard enough to soak through, but when the wind picked up it did get cold. People came by and visited, including Dan Yap from the Donut crew in Fort Collins, ran a few laps, ate from the crazy food feast Marissa arranged. I missed out on the donuts, but that was okay. I got the grilled cheese.

By late in the day it was just Dale, Vince, and me out on the course. The rain persisted. I thought I saw a vulture in one of the trees around the lake, but someone on Facebook corrected me and said it was a cormorant. I guess I was just wishing a vulture would scrape my carcass up off the pavement at the time. I was hurting, well before the end. By the end of twelve hours, Dale and I shared the last lap and half together. We were the only ones left on the course. Neither of us felt energetic enough to squeeze in an extra lap, which would have taken speed that I don't think either of us had at the moment. Dale ended up with over 40 miles, I ended up with 46. I didn't get my 50, but it was a chore dragging my 140 pounds of dead weight around that lake, and I earned every mile.

Marissa is threatening to hold this event again next year. Uh-oh. I'm in trouble. I better get cracking. I'll start training tomorrow. Even if it means I have to run.

I am going to have to figure out, between now and the end of the year, how to get my body prepared for a 24 hour event. I don't have any mileage goals, but I sure would like to remain upright and moving forward for the duration there, too. I have a lot of work to do.

As the poet Eminem once said, "Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity"

"Til the next post...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Greetings from Strong Badia

Strong Bad, who lives in Strong Badia, is my hero. I sort of like his Teen Girl Squad too, I used to use them to tease my brother about my niece Jenny when she was in high school. If you're unfamiliar with these characters, you MUST check out THIS.

It's been a while since I blogged here. This year I wrote a book.

There's something about writing a book that sucks the desire to write much else out of you. At least it was that way for me. I couldn't think about writing much of anything, I was so focused on the content of the book. There simply was nothing left. Between that and having two puppies, going through training, spaying, daily walks, cleaning up after them, replacing everything they destroyed, and we're not done yet...with the madness of having two high energy baby Aussies at the same time, I sometimes wonder how I did it.

But the pups kept me in line and I got through the book, and the editor has it now. We are doing revisions. I expect it will be out late this fall. Here's the cover design, ignore the Latin from the template, this was just a rough draft.

It's about healthcare, the stuff I have ranted about on this blog and in other places, except less of a rant than about solutions and how those solutions are needed to improve the cancer patient experience, making it less traumatic and disjointed. In other words, people in healthcare need to clean up after themselves, the mess they make when treating people for cancer doesn't clean up itself. I'll have plenty more to say about the book later, and if you want to know more, feel free to go to my website and sign up for the updates where you can subscribe to get more information, bottom of the home page.

This summer I was supposed to help out at Badwater again but I ran out of time at the last minute finishing the manuscript and I promised the editor I would have it done by a certain date and she had arranged child care so she could work on it, and it took me longer than expected, so I ended up not going to Badwater. Slightly disappointing, yes, but then, it took a pretty good arm twisting to make me go back there, after claiming my retirement status.

I went to Scottsdale to hang out with my Dad while my stepmom went away for a much needed spa weekend, and he's been taking boxing classes. He has Parkinson's. If you've been to this blog before, you know he was being treated for a type of chronic leukemia a few years back. He's been in remission with that but almost as soon as he finished chemo, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

But my dad doesn't get stopped by much, and he has been doing everything he can to keep himself functioning well despite the symptoms he experiences, naturally from the disease and from the medication, which is not the easiest stuff to tolerate. He started taking boxing classes, specifically for people with Parkinson's, and he is also taking singing lessons, because the voice is affected by Parkinson's, and tap dancing lessons! He is fortunate to live in proximity to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, and there are all sorts of great activity and support networks there.

He continues to work out with his personal trainer and goes to physical therapy too. He is busy and active, and that is the best thing anyone can do. I'm really proud of him. It's been difficult to watch this unfold but not as hard as it is to live with it yourself or for a spouse to live with it. Hence the spa weekend.

When I was visiting, I went to his boxing class and watched him. Seeing those men in his class work out was very inspiring, but I also was inspired by the workout itself. The strength, core, cardio, it all looked like a great workout, and I took karate lessons for a short time as a kid and loved it. When I got home, I looked up boxing and thought I'd try it myself. I took a class at Title boxing and I felt like I found the holy grail.

I have been having so much trouble motivating myself to work out on my own. I've never had this problem of self-motivation or discipline until now. I've struggled all summer, wanting to get back into running, and lose the 20 pounds I gained, and start doing some cross training, but I couldn't get myself to do it. The weekly donut runs were about all I was doing regularly. So now I'm taking several boxing classes each week, and so far all I can tell is that my abs are extremely sore. It is a good cardio workout though. I'm starting to feel a little smoother in the technique, but I'm naturally pretty uncoordinated, so every time we have to do a series of more than 5 punches, I struggle remembering the sequence, but I just keep throwing punches and that seems to work, for now.

I'm not running a lot, but I did do a 27 miler last week and it was the first ultradistance run I've done in a long time. I still plan on doing the There Goes the Sun 12 hour run next month in Arvada. And I did sign up for the 24 hour at Across the Years, just for fun, to run with my ultra buddy Sasquatch, a.k.a. Dale Perry, who has quite the interesting comeback story going on. There should be a good-sized Colorado contingent there to make it a fun party.

I've been staying busy with the community cancer programs I've been working on, things start to get busier for me in the fall. And there's a lot of marketing work to do on the book. So between that and puppies, who are going to be a year old soon, and need to start running, I have my hands full. And writing, of course. Now that I have the bandwidth to write my own blogposts for fun again, it's nice to be back.

I'll be filling you in over the next few months with details on life, the book, returning to running, and boxing with puppies. I didn't even rant about politics yet, either, but who needs any more of that when you've got an overload of outrageousness in the news everyday!

Enjoy what's left of summer, if you're on the top part of the planet, and I'll be back before long. Until then, I'll be in Strong Badia. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Been Busy...

but I'm back!

Finally reached my point of "I can't stand it anymore!!!!" The motorcycle tire around my waist is just too much for me to bear. It's grossing me out daily. I still have another month of working on this book most of the time, so the sitting is still going to be an issue for a while longer, but not too much longer.

As if I needed insult to add to my physical state of affairs, today I was out trying to run very slowly and carefully, trying not to aggravate my back, which has been sore and stiff for several days, and I passed some old fart (probably not too much older than me) on a bike who was pulled off the bike path by the sidewalk, talking on the phone. As I ran by, I heard him say, "Sorry I can't concentrate on talking, a female jogger just went by me."

WTF!!??? Excuse the #$%*& outta me! Every time I think I'm old, gray, and wrinkled enough to be immune from sexist ignoramuses like that, I get reawakened. So when he finally rode by me, I said, "You're lucky I'm not in my usual condition." I woulda kicked his ass and mansplained it to him. Perhaps he needed his balls cut off and stuffed in his mouth so he'd shut up next time?

What's been happening lately is that I have gotten really fat and out of shape. I've been very inconsistent with running and I've been having back problems too, a result of sitting too much, gaining weight, and not doing the exercises that I normally do when I'm training- core, weight training, etc. And I've been a bit stressed, over miscellaneous things, which contributes to stress eating, which I've been doing, and drinking too much alcohol, which I've also been doing. One of the main sources of my stress has now been relieved somewhat.

The other morning I could barely walk down the stairs, my back was so tight and stiff. And a few other reminders- trying to stretch in order to work on my back requires that I bend forward in certain ways and I am running into a pile of flesh. That I am not used to. Unacceptable. I really do need to lose about 20 pounds.

But. The other day I had an epiphany. I really do miss ultras and I want to move forward with a few items on the back of the mind bucket list. I have always wanted to do a 6 Day race. And I want to go back to the Keys 100. Just one of those races I always have wanted to do again- so much fun and so beautiful. Dennis wants to go back there too. And I am still looking at doing Across the Years 24 hour this year, just the 24 because I am so out of shape at this point I think it would be wise for me to just run for fun, get a few miles in, as a training run and hang out with running buddies I haven't seen in a long time.

In order to get to that goal of the 6 Day race, I think it will take me at least 3 years. I'd like to do Cornbelt again or another 24 hour next year, but shoot for the 48 hour at ATY then, if I'm ready. If not, I'll push it forward another year. I can think of some other way-out-there, crazy ideas too.

I've even considered Spartathlon, though I will need to get in shape to qualify again, and then there's the problem of getting in, and then figuring it all out, and then even finishing the race itself is iffy, which would probably involve some kind of crazy strategy of racing 50 miles then walking most of final 100+ miles. Which is fine, but that's a problem for another day.

First things first. Marissa just told me she is looking at having another Fatass run this fall in Colorado. I imagine that will be 12 hours, which is a great summer goal for training, and a buildup to Across the Years.

My life has been extremely busy. I'm juggling several projects right now, and about to start on the last full chapter in the book. I'll be sending the manuscript off to the editor before I leave for any summer trips. June 30th is my deadline date, self-imposed, but I have stuck to it. The work on the Appendix will be a lot to do, but most of it is already written. It should be done in the fall, I'm hoping October, but before the holidays, anyway.

The girls have grown up! I've been super busy with them too. We ended up getting Velcro spayed a few weeks ago. We took a trip up to our property at Trout Creek Pass a few weeks ago. She was already showing some subtle signs of going into heat, and we were headed up to the mountains and I was worried about having her up there like that, with all the coyotes and other dogs up there. And bears, etc. So when we got back from our weekend up there, I made an appointment. And she definitely was in heat.

We have been going to the same vet since 1984 with all of our dogs, and we love our vet. Velcro does too, because she gladly went into the back with them, no separation anxiety in being taken away from her mom. Mom, on the other hand, had enough separation anxiety for all of us.

Velcro did fine, she didn't even need to wear her cone of shame. She was lethargic for a day and then you would never know anything happened. Gypsy is not nearly as physically mature as Velcro was at the same age, so we have time. The Gyppers is about 1000 percent more amped up with energy than her sister, so it will be a challenge keeping her calm when she has her surgery.

Oh, and my friend Megan just twisted my arm the other day into going out to Death Valley this summer and working on medical at this blog's namesake race. I swore it off, said I was retired, but I have to admit I sure miss Death Valley in the summer, and would love to see Ben and Denise Jones, John Vonhof, Don Meyer, and a lot of other people I haven't seen in some time.

We had a huge storm here last week and we had a ton of heavy wet snow that took trees down and raised hell on everything. Fortunately we were spared this time, we only lost a small maple tree, the top snapped off. But our apricot trees were fine and our garden beds only had lettuce in them at the time, so no damage. Now that I've planted tomatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, peppers and more, I am sure we'll start having hailstorms.

That's about it...not extremely exciting, as I haven't been running much at all, maybe once or twice a week and just a few miles then. I have been pretty good about getting on my feet and doing 50 or so miles a week of walking most weeks. But I've had my share of slug weeks too. I know it's going to be a challenge to get it back, but I've finally reached a point where I am mentally ready. Now I just have to fix my back, which should cooperate with some massage, stretching, and gradual return to a real training program.

I hope to make more appearances at this blog. It's just been so hard to write the book and for my other writing obligations, and then I'm not running, so there hasn't been much blog-worthy news. I hope to turn that around in a good way, soon.

Happy summer! I'll be baaaack....