Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gone Postal!

Lately it's been getting to be too long between posts here. Sorry.

I've been busy. Suddenly got an uptick in interest in my business, and I've been trying to become more of a social media butterfly, which doesn't come naturally to my introverted self. I have been scrambling to get a lot of work done while I still had my student around. She graduated this weekend.

Life's been pretty boring from a running point of view, but I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day when it comes to work and getting my workouts in. I did manage to get over 70 miles on my feet this week, but only about half of that was running.

I spend a lot of time walking these days, doing my brain crunching exercises. Most of the work I'm doing now requires a lot of thinking and creative ideas, and I do that best while walking.

I am considering doing a long run next weekend, it could be some creative adventure but I haven't had time to think about it. So it will probably be unannounced until I post about it.

Nurses' Week
I've had some fun too. It was Nurses' Week and I wrote an opinion piece in the local paper. So nice to be able to speak freely. I got a lot of positive feedback via email and private messages after that one. Just another indication of how fearful nurses are.

Going Postal
I've been entertained, sadly. I hope none of my readers are postal employees who are genuinely good people and hard workers. Unfortunately there are a bunch who give y'all a bad name.

Maybe I shouldn't laugh at this, but we have a community mailbox in our front yard. About a week and a half ago someone left a note on the outgoing mail slot saying that mail was not being collected. "Mailbox broken" written in sharpie on a post office slip.

After we didn't get any mail for three days, and none of the neighbors were getting theirs either, I called the post office. It took four different numbers before I actually spoke to a human being. Then the human being gave me another number to call, which lead me to a dead end.

It was a voice mailbox, but the greeting said no one is checking this mailbox. Hell of a lot of good that does! So I called the human being again, who reluctantly gave me the mail carrier phone number at our post office.

I called the carrier line and they told me that the lock on the back of the box was broken and our mail was being held at the post office until the box is replaced. I asked how long it would be. "Could be a week, could be a month. They have to come up from Denver to fix it."

Helpful. I asked why no one had informed us that this was the situation and she didn't have an answer. All we got was a notice that the outgoing mailbox was "broken" but no one left a note about the incoming mail.

A week ago Saturday early in the morning I decided to brave the line at the Post Office. It felt like I wandered into the Zombie Apocalypse. They have blank looks on their faces, and only speak to give expressionless greetings. All that's missing are blood and brains. There are four people working behind the counter, a line out the door, but only two are serving customers. The other two don't even look up from their gaze at the desk or whatever they're doing back there. One of them was sitting there working on passport applications.

Don't they have the sense to go in the back to work on that so people don't feel like they are being ignored? I guess customer service is a concept that is completely unheard of.

When they walk back to fetch somebody's mail, they move at a snail's pace. Someone needs to give these people a racewalking lesson. They obviously do get paid by the hour, in a very protected job, and it shows.

Just when I got to the front of the line, the customer in front of me had paid for something with a check. He filled out the check and put the amount in the little box, signed it, but didn't write the amount out on the line. The doofus postal worker looked up in my direction with a blank stare on his face, and said, "That guy didn't fill out his check." He looked around, as if asking for divine intervention. I said, "Did he sign it?"

He looked down at the check. "He signed it, and he put the amount in the box but didn't write out the amount on the line. I need to go ask my supervisor." He turned around and high-snailed it, like he had lead orthotics in his shoes, to the unknown territory of the giant back room.


Requirements for postal worker counter employment:
1. No independent or critical thinking skills, or initiative
2. Emotional intelligence= ZERO
3. Slower than dog snot
4. Personality of a piece of discarded gum on the sidewalk

And they love to wait on the customer in front of you, get finished, then walk away without making eye contact or saying anything. So you have no idea if they are coming back, or if it's down to one worker serving a long line of people waiting.

Finally the guy came back and called out an emotionless "Next." I felt like I was in the line for the Soup Nazi.
By the time I walked out of there, I felt like this.

I think I'll just pick up my mail once a week until this is over. It's too creepy and unpleasant in there.

I called one more time to the carrier line to find out if they had an ETA on the new mailbox. The following Wednesday, this sign appeared on the front of the box, with the dead end voice mail number (I checked again). Oh so helpful.

So we're in mail limbo, until who knows when.

Iris's 14th Birthday
Last Wednesday was Iris's birthday. She was so happy to be the queen for a day. Not that she ever is anything less than a princess. I baked pupcakes and we had a little party for her with the student I've been working with. She and Iris have become quite fond of each other over the past semester.

Iris got a new orange Frisbee. She has the energy of a dog half her age. I'm so lucky to have these two around after 14 years and still doing so well. Every day is a celebration with them, from butt rubs first thing in the morning to cuddling at night in the bed with us, and all the walks, singing, dancing, playing, talking, chasing, spying, and begging in between.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Base: A Curse And A Blessing

Last Friday I had the brilliant idea of going up to do three Rock Repeats. Two weeks ago I had run two, so three seems like a reasonable progression.

I got to the trailhead on a cool foggy day and started up the first time. Feeling good, I ran the bottom switchback up the road before I settled into a powerwalk as the pitch got steeper. I ran the flatter stretches on the way up the Southridge Trail, and as I neared the top, approaching Audra Culver trail, I turned and saw this guy in a light blue top running up behind me. I’d seen him at one point closer to the bottom. He appeared to be going just slightly faster than me.

Deciding not to push myself, I decided to ignore his pace rather than challenge myself to stay ahead. I don't have to take every opportunity to chick somebody. Save it, I thought. He passed me near the junction of the Horsetooth Rock trail and Southridge, and he took off on the trail as I continued up the steep, loose, rocky pitch before the last saddle at my turnaround below the Rock.

I reached the top of my route, despite only 8 minutes of running, in 35 minutes, not my fastest, but not too bad of a bad time for me. I turned around and headed down, reaching my car in well under an hour. Without stopping, I turned around and headed back up for repeat number two. On my way down repeat number two, which was over 40 minutes up, I already could feel my quads from the fast descent on number one.

I wavered between calling it quits at the bottom and doing a third, knowing I would pay for it. I decided it’s now or never, I want to be ready for the Grand Canyon in October, and I’ve slacked off in every possible way I can get away with. Now I have to at least inoculate my quads with a good bashing.

I stopped at the car and refilled my bottle, grabbed a jacket in case it rained, and headed back up for number three. I completed that one faster than number two, with a less painful descent. I don’t know why it hurt so much coming down the second time and not the third, but I did it and felt good, my best workout in a few weeks.

Saturday I was reasonably sore but not too bad. I only walked the girls, I didn’t go out for a workout of my own. Sunday I walked nearly 10 miles and by the end my hips were screaming, and I could feel every step down and descent on the mostly flat bike path. By Sunday night I was in quite a bit of discomfort, and by Monday it wasn’t feeling much better. I jumped in the hot tub and soaked for a while, and by Tuesday morning the soreness was mostly gone except for a few little pings occasionally.

It’s weird how you can run three times up and down Horsetooth Rock after being pretty much of a slacker for seven months, because of your base, but then it comes back to bite you in the butt. You do pay for the privilege of having a base. Your body thinks it can do anything, and it can. You do pay, but if you stick to it, the pain passes and you get strong again, quickly. In the long run, literally, it pays huge dividends.

My woman cave office and living room in the house have turned into a video production studio. The student I’ve been working with is graduating and we’ve been trying to get a lot of video footage shot before she finishes next week. I spend every spare moment on producing the materials for my services I plan to launch later this year.

I’ve made some good contacts lately on social media and I’m enthusiastic about the prospects for getting the word out once I launch things. And tomorrow is the start of Nurses’ Week.

Ha! You probably think I’m going to launch into a rant, but I already ranted on Fighting Dinosaurs. You can check that out if you like.

I went out to a party last weekend for one of my former coworkers who became a nurse practitioner and is leaving our old workplace. It was great to see my old coworkers. One of my other former coworkers is retiring in June so I will get to see them again soon when we celebrate that event.

I do miss a lot of the other nurses I worked with at the hospital. But I keep going forward, keep running, keep moving in the direction I’m going. I talk myself down from the occasional panic moments and anxiety about the unknown. I keep meeting interesting people and learning so much, it’s amazing how much there is to be learned that nurses don’t know about the patients they care for in the hospital setting. I’ve learned so much more from the real people going through all of these experiences with cancer than I could ever learn from reading journals and taking classes and working in traditional healthcare.

There is much work to be done, and I feel so fortunate to have an opportunity to be doing it.

So this Nurses’ Week, far from the misery of my last “job”, I am truly celebrating what it means to be an #empowerednurse, hashtag and all.

Funny how it all parallels with my running.

I have a strong base, that nursing knowledge along with my past experiences and education, and I paid for it with the rigors of a healthcare job, pushing through the discomfort of short-sighted people who are running the show but don't know how to put one foot in front of the other, but I passed them, and now it’s paying off in ways I never dreamed. Relentless forward motion.

Happy Nurses' Week!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Less Than 100 Heat Training Days...

Last weekend I took a 4 day trip to Arizona and hung out with my parents.

A few days earlier I did two Rock Repeats plus some, and got sore from the quad bashing, but it was a good start. I took it super easy. Now I just have to be consistent and get up there on a weekly or every-other-week routine. I'm already hearing it's a bad rattlesnake season, and that's even more reason to be on the Rock Repeat course. Nice and wide, easy to see snakes.

I got about 30 miles on the canal, spent time out there late morning when it was warming up. It wasn't HOT, but I did do some walking in the afternoons when it was near 90 degrees. A good way to get started on the heat training, anyway.

There were ducks, rats, bunnies, and birds everywhere along the canal. Everyone was out enjoying the sunshine and mild weather before the heat comes crashing down.
I don't usually go down there in April, but I forgot that all the desert plants are still in bloom, and it's before things heat up so much that everything dries out, so it was colorful.

We hung out close to home, talked about my business, my dad's treatment and activities, and how he's feeling, and really didn't do too much other than that. It was relaxing and a good way to spend time together. Dad is tired, but he's still doing his workouts. They are much less intense, but he still does some weights and some easy walking. He has a tendency to push himself too hard all day with errands and chores around the house. That's just who he is. It does catch up with him, and he's forced to take down time to rest.

I did get to see my niece Jenny in her last high school play, and saw my brother and sister-in-law. That was fun. Jenny is off to Ashland, Oregon in the fall for college. I can't believe how fast the 18 years went by.

When I got back from Arizona, the next day I was on a conference call with Bob's crew for his Badwater Double plans this summer. The crew consists of most of his crew from last year at Badwater, and one new guy. And then me, for the return trip. He's had trouble getting Whitney permits, but we're still trying.

I need to get on with some serious heat training, if nothing else. I've been getting 50 or more miles a week on my feet but a lot of it has been walking. I'm just not motivated to run. In Death Valley the pace is so slow that it won't matter, but the heat training will! I have several options, other than sitting in the sauna. I can sit in my car, I can overdress on my runs on hot days, and I can sit in the woman cave without using the air conditioning once it gets hot. It can get pretty toasty in the cave, with all the sun and windows.

And I will probably go down to Arizona again at least one more time before summer kicks in up here. All kinds of possibilities.

The trails up high should be accessible early the way the weather has been. We did get a huge dump of snow last week but it's been warm ever since. Between heat training and trail running, I should be ready for everything, since I am looking at an October Grand Canyon run, too.

Now if I could just find my everyday motivation to get the workouts in...

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Pre-Nurses' Week Cancer Rant

Yesterday I had lunch with Wheaties Boy's mother-in-law, Faustine. I admire this woman in so many ways. We have a lot of interests in common, obviously health and fitness, but also cancer and healing. She has been a massage therapist for years, doing medical massage and has worked with many people with cancer.  She is also the epitome of vibrant and healthy aging. And gorgeous, she literally glows. 
We talked about my business ideas and where I'm moving with my online service development. We discussed the important components of empowering people to improve their own well-being after diagnosis and treatment for a serious illness, and moving beyond the sticking points. One of the things that I'm passionate about is getting people the answers to their questions that can't be addressed in a short doctor appointment, but not having to stress themselves financially in order to get the help they need. 

Medicine is becoming more of a product and not a service, and doctors are being squeezed for time and production...getting the patients in and out, and those short appointments don't leave room for explanation, education, or personalized attention. The rushed encounters-yes, they literally are referred to as "encounters" in the popular electronic health records...don't leave docs much time to have meaningful discussions with patients or teach them the finer points to empower them to manage their health.

Nurses can and often do fill many of the gaps in information and explanation, but they are under similar time and documentation constraints and in the rushed corporate health care environment, many of the details slip through the cracks as the robotic expectations of the organization for which they work supercede the desire to sit, educate, and empower.

This patient empowerment is a huge unaddressed need, especially in the time period after they get done with cancer treatment. Patients feel lost and abandoned in that transition from cancer patient to...not sure what they are afterward. Called survivors, they don't always feel like they survived. There are patronizing references made to what they feel after treatment. "The new normal" is one of those that makes me grind my teeth at night. 

Feeling like crap with nowhere to turn is not normal. It's not fair or humane to tell them, "well, we treated you for cancer, we poisoned you, burned you and cut out parts, so now you're supposed to go through life tired, sick and debilitated. Get used to it. It's your new normal." 

Not cool. 

People deserve to get information and help in restoring their health, in terms they can understand, and in ways that they can apply to their own lives. They need to do much of the work themselves, because only they can determine where they want to end up in terms of quality of life. But they need guidance, support, and attention getting there after enduring the rigors of cancer treatment and all of the associated emotional, social, financial, spiritual, psychological, and physical invasions in their lives. 

As Faustine and I discussed our ideas and experiences, I thought about my trip to Arizona, where I'll be talking with my dad and stepmom about what day are going through right now, trying to manage my dad's upheaval with chemo and all the fatigue that has stripped away his normal energetic life. Between naps and blood transfusions, he is able to carry on with some of the activities he enjoys, but I had to explain to him why it was not a good idea for him to call his personal trainer to come over for a workout the day after his blood transfusion...which is exactly what he did before I happened to call and catch him in this error that could have resulted in quite an unfavorable outcome. 

He's being treated at a world-renowned cancer facility yet no one explained to him why being severely anemic is not a good condition from which to exercise. Why? Because in medicine, they often don't think to ask about the daily habits of patients, their lifestyles, or what their normal activities are. And my dad doesn't have an education in exercise physiology or health care. They neither have time, nor the thought process in place to do so. It's just not how medicine thinks. 

Even if by chance someone did explain something to him, there is not adequate time for them to assess his full understanding of what they taught him. There is no time for "teach-back" or a way to ensure that the message they tried to convey was received, absorbed, and understood.

So it's just by chance that my dad as a cancer patient happens to have a daughter who is an oncology nurse and told him that not having enough oxygen in your blood to feed important organs like your heart and brain during exercise could result in you having a heart attack or passing out and falling and injuring yourself. And stopped him before it happened. 

People are not being given the attention they need and doctors are not referring them to appropriate resources for help, for their individual lifestyle needs. It happens during treatment and after completion of treatment. And that is what I want to address in a way that is affordable, accessible, understandable, and useful. 

Yet I can't get doctors to give me the time of day to let me explain them how I can help their patients. They're "too busy". So I go directly to the patients themselves. That's okay, but it would be much better if the doctors were aware of this service and could let their patients know. Sad reflection on the state of health care, isn't it? 

You can't make an addict stop the addictive behavior until they want to. You can't change dysfunction from within the system. So I do it from the outside. Meanwhile the doctors will continue to be unaware of these resources available to their patients. And they will do a disservice to their patients by omitting that important information that makes a difference in their healing and quality of life. 

Which is why I've been saying all along, health care is neither health nor care. 

We can do better. And I am. 

End of rant. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015


This morning, we're back to this.

It's supposed to be like this all weekend. Which makes it a good weekend to go to Arizona, and that is what I'm doing. The girls will stay here with Dennis, I am going to visit my dad and stepmom, and see a play in which my niece Jenny has the lead role. She's about 6 weeks from graduating from high school, so this is the last school play I'll get to see with her in it.

Iris has strategically placed herself in the hallway, keeping watch on all potential points of egress. She is tracking the movements of clothes from laundry to closet and closet to suitcase.

We went for a short walk this morning before the white stuff started coming down from the sky.

Tuesday morning I woke up early and drove up to Horsetooth Mountain Park and did two Rock Repeats. I felt good. I took it slowly, and I didn't get sore until late yesterday. Today is worse. But I had to start somewhere.

Tomorrow, off to the desert...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Two Buffs in the Ark

I'm typing this as I sit in the dark in a cheap motel room in Buena Vista, Colorado. We're on highway 24 on the way to Leadville. We figured it would be adventurous to get a place in town that allows pets and doesn't cost a ton. The beds are squishy, but it's not bad as far as places I've stayed. I am on one bed with Isabelle and Iris is on the the other bed with Dennis. Those two seem to be sleeping soundly while Iz and I are restless. 

We needed to get out of town more for a mental break than anything. We came up to our property on Trout Creek Pass where we have a shed on 2 1/2 acres down the road from the Buffalo Peaks. We haven't spent much time up here in years, since the girls were puppies, which was before we got the cabin 30 miles east of here and closer to the front range. 

Last summer we sold the cabin so it's back to vacationing on the Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and sagebrush covered lot overlooking Pikes Peak and South Park. 

When we arrived we pulled the chairs out of the shed and after walking around surveying the property for dead trees, and just the general condition, we sat down. And breathed.
The infamous South Park wind whooshing through the pine needles, the tall Douglas firs bending in the gusts. And the smell. Pine and grass and earth and sage. And the quiet.
I felt like I returned home, became re-grounded, landing squarely back on my feet after some kind of wild chaotic ride. I forgot how peaceful it is up there. It was simply a matter of driving another half hour, but we never wanted to do it once we got the cabin and moved back to Fort Collins. 

We went into Buena Vista and checked out the town. Dennis has been through here more recently than I have, on his many trips to Gunnison. It'd been a long time Since I came through Buenie (that's what the locals call it, rhymes with "puny") and things gave only changed a little. Very little. 

I'm so glad I don't live here, but I am surprised I forgot the rough charm of the place, the hard reality that people endure who live and work in these towns, unless they are super wealthy and don't have to worry about paying the bills. 

We went down to the Arkansas River. It's sacred to us, years ago we scattered our first dog's ashes upstream in Clear Creek, near Winfield, where she used to play stick all the time. We parked at the east end of town just above the bridge.

Isabelle didn't want to get out of the car so Dennis took Iris across the bridge and up the trail and I stayed close and took some river pics. Iris did not want to go without her mom so they came back quickly. 

We were hungry and decided to find a place to eat. Turned out there was a Mexican restaurant in a dive of an old building, and we checked it out, called Los Girasoles. Turns out it is the real thing, from Guadalajara. Dennis had empanadas that were awesome and I got a burrito with chile verde and refried beans. My test of a Mexican restaurant is always the refried beans. And these passed. 

The spices were mild but when we looked around it was mostly old people eating there. But it was good. And the salsa reminded me of a favorite restaurant in Scottsdale from my high school days that had great salsa and to die for green corn tamales. 

After we ate I went out while Dennis stayed with Isabelle at the room. I took Iris in the car and took pictures of the valley at sunset. The sun was setting behind Mt. Yale and the light was pouring down the drainages between Antero and Princeton, and Yale and Harvard & Columbia. To the south there was light shining on the flats in the valley near Poncha Springs.

On our way back into town we saw deer crossing the highway at the pedestrian crosswalk. They looked like they were going to get their prescriptions filled at the drug store. I guess everyone can have coverage under the ACA.
We came back to the room and now I am awake at 11 pm after trying to go to bed at 9. At least I am not hot flashing because the room is cool. 

I needed to get back here. This place always was healing for me. I used to come over here when we lived in Gunnison, over Monarch Pass and spend the day in the valley. I used to drive over in the morning, go for a run in the hills either on the roads or trails depending on the time of year, then go up to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and soak a while, then go into Salida and have a glass of wine and hang out until it was time to go back over the mountains.

And then when we lived in Arizona, we used to come up and spend 2 weeks at a time. But ever since we moved back we only went as far west and south as Fairplay, and never bothered to come back here. We're back now. It's like reclaiming a forgotten part of yourself. 

The girls needed to come back too. When they were puppies we took them here all the time. Took them swimming in the river, took them hiking east of town, by the Buffalo Peaks there was a 16 mile trail loop we used to do with them. Now they can't do that, but they are happy just sitting in the grass and sniffing, wandering around to check things out. 
Last week I ran with Wheaties Boy in the cemetery. That morning we only did 7 easy miles, no speed. That was good. Not ready to jump back into speed yet.

I'm still doing the 10 miles a day on my feet plan. Gradually doing more running and less walking. Not  super motivatevd but at least I can do that. 

The Next Morning

When I woke up this morning I was tired. Dennis went out to get coffee while I dragged myself out of bed. At some point in the night the girls wanted out, so I took them out to pee. When I got back into the room I was freezing so I climbed into the bed with Dennis before Iris could jump up, to get some warmth off his body, and then Iris jumped up on the bed  and then Isabelle wanted up. So then it was really Noah's Ark, two people and two buffs on a sagging queen sized bed, sloping toward the middle. Not much sleep, but it was worth it. 
Dennis didn't sleep well either but he slept a lot longer than me. He didn't complain. The only things he said was, "next time, pay more".

We went over to the Evergreen Café for breakfast, where we always used to eat. It's still decent food and good service, right on the highway, and it was pleasant enough outside to sit on the patio. The sky was clear and only a few clouds were out. It was so funny to see the way people dress so casually up there and that they are still so laid back. I always feel like I have to dress "up" in the city. Not really dressed up, because I am about the most casually dressed person in any crowd, but I forgot that I used to live in my fleece jacket and jeans and t-shirt, and never thought about being any less comfortable until I moved to the city. Now it seems like I put a little more thought into what I wear before I go out most of the time.

We drove up by Mt. Princeton to check out the hot springs and they have added a pool. It looks really nice now. And then we drove down to Salida just briefly to check it out too. It hasn't changed either. After that we headed back toward home, with a brief stop at the property again for the girls to stretch their legs.
When we got home, I got caught up on things, unpacked and did laundry, and even had time and energy to give both of the girls a bath. In the bathtub. They smell much better now than they did after lying on that filthy motel room floor. The dirt was pouring off of them.

And Monday is another day. I look forward to it. Taking the weekend off helps everything. And next weekend, it's off to Arizona for me...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter Resurrection-ish

I'm almost afraid to say it, but I think I'm starting to feel like myself again.

We had some nice weather this weekend. Last week was a good week for several reasons, I'm starting to feel like I'm hitting a certain stride in my work. I feel more productive and the interest is growing. There still isn't much cash flow coming in but that's okay. I know I'm on the right track and it will happen.

I have a CSU student working with me and she helped me make some videos, we're in the process of producing as many videos as possible this spring. A few copies of the book have sold, and it's been fun listening to the comments and reviews.

Last week I finally started running again after a little break following the Fat Ass. I did a day of trails, and one day I ran hard for a mile to see what happened and I'm so slow I can't even type that many digits on the computer here. Let's just say I have a long way to go with speed. But that's okay. I finally cut out the beer and bad food, and I'm down 3 pounds so far.

Getting a little clarity in my head might be partially a result of getting rid of all the extra carbs I was eating. And maybe my vitamin D level is just starting to rise, enough that I'm not totally in the tank. It will take time, but I am feeling like the light is coming back...
This weekend I ran Saturday with Kirsten, from the running club. She is doing her first ultra in May and she did her longest run ever, 27.5 miles, so I ran the last 11 or so with her. She'll do great, she was hauling ass over the hills at the end.

Easter morning Dennis and I took the girls to Starbucks for pup cups, and then after we walked them, we went up to the foothills to do a little hike on Reservoir Ridge from the town side.

It was warm, and I've heard the snakes are out, but it wasn't all that warm and the breeze cooled us off. Didn't see any snakes. I don't know if they saw us, either.

It's been a long time since I've done much running up in the foothills trails, close to 20 years. It's great to be able to do trails again. I'm planning to hit some of the lower mountain trails on the way up to Estes this spring.

The views from the top, over the northern foothills, Grey Rock, Watson Lake and Bellvue. Then an afternoon of relaxation around the house, wrapping up a few loose ends and recharging for the week ahead.

And I'm meeting Wheaties Boy in the cemetery again this week...don't know what got into me, it will be a sufferfest for sure, but wish me luck...