Scatter my ashes here...

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Return to Gunrackistan...A Love Story

"My stonehouse burnt down, nothing obscures the light of the bright moon" -Masahide

Gunnison, Colorado. One of the highest, coldest cities in the U.S. Also one of the most beautiful, and the still pristine way of life- small town, with a culture that is disappearing and barely clinging to its existence. Ranching and recreation are the economy. And then there's Western State College (now Western State Colorado University).

Up the road 30 miles there's a ski town called Crested Butte. Culturally different- progressive, liberal, upscale, hipsterish. The locals refer to Gunnison, downvalley, as Gunrack. Gunnison old timers might have names for the Butte too but I don't know them. Hippie town, maybe.

I lived in both towns back in the 80s and 90s for a brief time, a few years here, a few years there. After college, Crested Butte was a great place to hang out and play, wait tables and run or ride mountain bikes over passes with names like Oh Be Joyful and Block & Tackle, Conundrum Pass and Teocalli Ridge, Gothic and Paonia, Green Lake and Washington Gulch.

Gunnison tourists go hunting for elk. And college girls.

I remember shooing a Chevy Blazer packed with hunters away from the women's cross country team one day as we were walking up the hill to the track for practice. And sitting in a bar on a September day after a long mountain bike ride with my girlfriends, being serenaded by some drunk hunters who wanted to buy the local girls rounds of drinks.

Crested Butte tourists go alpine skiing, telemarking, nordic skiing, ride mountain bikes, and sample the microbrews and upscale establishments.

You'd think a leftwinger like me would want nothing to do with Gunrackistan and it's entrenched cowboy culture, locked into the old days when men didn't know what quiche was and definitely couldn't pronounce it...

Cattle country. You ate meat there, it's what's for dinner.

When I first arrived in the valley I was still a vegetarian. But.

I fell in love with Gunnison anyway. I have never been so in love with a place. Ever, and I doubt ever again.

Crested Butte is a beautiful spot in the world. Towering peaks surround a bowl-like valley, the colors of avalanche chutes filled with green aspen and dark green spruce, and snow chutes remain year-round. Wildflowers and painted Victorians and blue sky with fluffy white clouds and clear air lend a palette of color to the surroundings.

I love that, but Gunnison...

the whole area is something different. Maybe it's the sagebrush.

I thought it would be hard to live in Gunrack after being a Buttian. But it drew me in even tighter. I cried for a month when I left to move to Fort Collins for graduate school in 1989. I wanted to go back so badly. I was fixated on it.

One of the mistakes of my youth was that I thought I wanted to go back and teach there. Then I had a chance, a 2 year temporary contract to fill a sudden vacancy that was offered before I even defended my dissertation. I jumped on it, of course. Except by the first day of my second year, I can remember going to class, and counting how many days were left in the school year.

To put it mildly, it used to be a very backward, regressive type of atmosphere that seems to have changed all too slowly. Back then, there was a palpable fear of and hostility to women, and anyone who might be a little on the progressive side. Newcomers who didn't play the game with the old guard didn't make them too happy.

About 20 years ago the college experimented on the wild side- it hired a woman as president. That was enough to freak the good ole boys out, especially when she brought in a whole slew of new, young faculty many of whom were women and a few of whom were (shhhh!) lesbians. A word that didn't even exist in the lexicon of the good ole boys. They couldn't even say the word. Enough to put a few of the old boys over the edge. Politically it was a difficult time in the state's politics, and being a state school we were subject to whatever happened at the state capitol.

The new President wasn't too supportive of the old boy coaches getting away with the same old crap. Which created a lot of tension.

This was at the same time as Amendment 2 was on the ballot and there was a big political fight going on down on the Front Range. Someone was stomping and kicking the good ole boys in the shins with steel-toed boots, but you'd think the wearer of the boots had indoor plumbing or was gay. Focus on the Family, James Dobson, Bill Perkins, and the Colorado Springs contingent were in their homophobic heyday. (Remember Bob Dole and Family values, this is a Christian nation, and so on...)

Yes, the good ole boys and their minions, wanting me to allow a student to get away with not doing any work and give him a passing grade so he could play football or wrestle or whatever. Stopping me in the hall to ask important, pointed, questions such as, "If you're married, why don't you have the same last name as your husband?" or "Are you a vegetarian?", or "What do you think of Title IX?"

All very relevant to our job descriptions. "Are you in that 'women's group?'" Emphasis as if women was a four letter word that needed to be spoken quietly. (Translation: Do you hang out with lesbians who plan to take over the world from men, replace us from our jobs, emasculate and castrate us?) My office mate was in the exact same boat as I was. She loved it when our fellow faculty members praised us by saying "good girl". Among other things.

Looking back, I see how backward things were even in the 90s. Not only awkward and socially tone deaf, but just twisted and fixated on the threat of feminism, as if their nuts would drop into the toilet and go "Plink-plink!" into the water as they flushed.

I look back at the painful times, but there were many more good times, namely the relationships that came out of that time.

Right here in this building I met my husband. Webster Hall in Gunnison, at a 5K with a pancake breakfast afterward in August of 1986. I won the race for the women that day, too. I think it might have been the first race I ever won.

My friend Heidi and I became friends and running partners. She started out as one of my students, and we ran in the cold predawn mornings together. We are still close friends 20 years later, even though she lives in Arizona now.

And there was the team. The Western State Mountaineers. The athletes on the cross country and distance track teams, so many of whom we stay in touch or have reconnected with, and still see on occasion. Scattered all over the state, we can always count on running into someone from those days every so often.

And then there's Coach.

The reason we were back in Gunnison last weekend was Coach. My husband Dennis, a former cross country and distance runner on the team, was being inducted into the college's Sports Hall of Fame. Coach and another friend of ours from way back, Joe, had nominated him.

Coach is one of a kind. I can't even describe this guy, he has a presence that is larger than anything in the valley. You'd have to meet him to understand. But they definitely broke the mold after they made him and there is no way anyone who has ever been around him or has worked with him can help but be influenced, and inspired by him. ""

I can't say I always got along with him, I didn't. We butted heads A LOT.

Coach and I are very strongheaded people and of course we would butt heads. I don't agree with the way he goes about doing things, but it works for him because the system was designed around him and his needs, they accommodated him and his ways for years, and it dates back to a very old paternalistic time, and he's managed to have his way. And I was a newcomer, not to mention the gender, age and heretical nature of who I am.

But still, I can't help but admit I like the guy, the person he is. It's easier from a distance. But how could you not like him, anyone with that unique of a personality, you really can't help it.

So, the long story is my husband ran for Western State College (now Western State Colorado University) in the early 80s, and was one of the top runners on team, ever. He was national champion in the 3000m steeplechase, set a national record in that event at the time, was one of the top cross country runners, 4th in the national meet, multiple time All-American, and so on.

Pretty awesome accomplishments.
After college he coached as an assistant and then I came on as an assistant coach a couple of years later. That's when Dennis and I actually started dating. I moved to Fort Collins to go to graduate school, and Dennis left to go to Adams State College, the rival college, two hours down the road and over the pass, because Dennis was working on a masters in physical education and the program got cut at Western, but still was offered at Adams. So he went there. Not to mention that Adams State College legendary Coach Joe Vigil was the Olympic coach for distance runners.

Running for Reebok, under Vigil, Dennis improved at cross country and more. He competed and finished extremely well all over the country, in road races and made the US Cross country team and went to France and Italy to compete in the World Championships and other races. That was in 1990, the same year we got married.

Coach was at our wedding. I guess I should have prepared my dad because Coach gave a toast, and my dad was like, "who the hell is this guy??? He sounds like a relic, a dinosaur."

Yes, my dad is a sharp judge of character.

Despite the paternalism, I've always called Coach by his first name. I never was one of his athletes or students, I was one of his assistant coaches, and later we were fellow faculty members.

But I think to him, a woman 30 years younger than him, who was the same age as many of his athletes and that he had seniority over, I sensed there was a slight bristle. Other young faculty members and assistant coaches called him Duane. Maybe it was just my projection. But I felt like it was important to establish my ground, my territory, that I wasn't going to be pushed around like a member of the team.

He never said anything about it, and I know he would have if it was that bothersome to him. But in my mind, he's really Coach.

Anyway, many years later Adams State asked Dennis if he'd run on their team at a masters race, Dennis said yes. Then a week before the race, someone from Western called to ask Dennis to ask if he'd run for the Western Team. He'd already committed to Adams and stuck with it.

After that race, which Adams won, Coach did the finger in your face thing, using his classic relic-like, dinosaur-like, paternalistic I'm the coach and I rule your life voice. Which really upset Dennis.

And they didn't speak to each other for years. As the years went on, many halls of fame with lots of athletes inducted, and Dennis was never asked. People would comment, when is it going to be your turn? Dennis thought as long as Coach was around it wasn't going to happen. Disloyalty was Coach's biggest peeve.

"You can't break with tradition. This is the Western Slope!" he would have said.

So...a few more things happened. Pat Porter, US Olympian, former Adams State runner and Dennis' teammate from the US Cross Country team, was named to another honor several years ago and Dennis and his friend Steve went to the ceremony to see Pat and honor his award and celebrate. A week later, Pat was killed in a plane crash.

Then, Coach was inducted two years ago. I forget what I was doing but I didn't feel like going. I just didn't want to bring any upheaval into my life at that point. I wasn't ready to go over Monarch again and see the valley and be reminded, and I didn't go. Then I found out how many people on the team showed up and was kicking myself.

They did settle things, finally. Coach is getting up there in age, he's dealing with some health issues. He's not physically well, but to see him, he never ages, he never changes, and he doesn't seem to have less energy. Still walks and talks and carries himself the same way, with the same booming confidence of a man who knows he drives things.

He might as well own the town, it could easily be named after him. I know that a future building or major renovation, perhaps the new Mountaineer Bowl, will be named after him. It should be. Hell, the whole county should be.

Except I think the Mountaineer had a heart attack. Must have been all that red meat.

For the induction weekend, it all worked out perfectly. It looks like maybe this new president and athletic director might have better plans and a considerably firmer grip on the world outside Gunnison, having been other places.

Dennis's family came up. At first I didn't want to go to the football game or the president's breakfast or the plaque hanging, but I went to all of them. Some of our old friends and Dennis's old teammates came up. It was a small group but the right energy. There were a lot of people I wish I would have seen, and I wish I would have had more time up there, but the ones I really didn't want to see were not there or didn't come up. Some of them don't even live there anymore. A good thing. New blood is needed, even in Gunrackistan.

One of Dennis' old teammates, a high jumper, was also inducted. That was cool. And one of my former students too! It was a shared celebration, and seeing everyone after so many years added an extra fun dimension to it.

I wasn't ready until now. It was just so hard to go back over Monarch Pass. I don't know why, because we went over Cottonwood Pass to Crested Butte several times since then. I just couldn't deal with Gunnison.

For years I've been thinking I am just so in love with the place that I can't bear the pain of seeing it and knowing that I can't live there. You can't make a living up there unless you have one of the few jobs or are independently wealthy. Otherwise you need to piece together 4 or 5 different jobs to keep afloat. You have to really be addicted to stay. I must not have been. But I'm obviously not fully recovered.

And now Coach is sick and we all know time is limited, and no one is saying what we all know.

It was a combination of one of the most disappointing, painful experiences and one of the most influential places in my life, but I'm forever thankful for it and the chance to immerse myself and completely and totally fall in love with the place, so much that I couldn't even go back for 20 years. Part grudge, part pain, part fear of being sucked into the intoxication and addiction that would limit my opportunities forever.

I am glad I finally went. I faced it, my discomfort, my fear of not being able to handle it, of it being too painful. But it wasn't at all. As much as I love the place and think it's beautiful and peaceful and there's something that awakens a deep place in my heart and spirit, a feeling that I somehow belong there, at least in the natural environment of it...

...politically and personally I don't have enough tongues to replace the ones I would bite off every day, maybe even every hour. I'm not a lizard, can't grow body parts back. But I know that in Gunnison, they have plenty of taxidermists who could probably mount those tongues on a wall somewhere.

Some things never change
I love that it hasn't changed.
The air is clear, the air smells fresh and the sagebrush and pine scent is everywhere.
I'm glad it's still Gunrackistan.
It would be more painful to go back there and see that it had changed.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Getting Stoned: There Goes The Sun 12 Hour Fat Ass


My first "ultra" in a year and a half.

On Labor Day weekend I usually try to escape Fort Collins or at least hide out. Not being one for crowds, this weekend is the annual Fat Tire Bike Fest in downtown Fort Collins, when New Belgium Brewery hosts this mass humanity event. People ride in costumes on fat tire bikes and then drink a lot of beer. Not that I have any objection to it, I'm just not into crowds, and I've seen the costumes so many years that I don't feel the need to repeat.

So instead of Fat Tire Bike, I chose Fat Ass Run. If you don't know what a Fat Ass run is, it's a term to describe a type of event popular with ultrarunners. Usually done as a social training run, a group of friends get together usually by word of mouth and agree on some kind of a course. The rules are: no entry fee, no t-shirt, no aid, no awards, no whining. Just a good old fashioned ultra without the circus, high prices, and extravagant swag.

Marissa DeMercurio put on this event for the first time a year and a half ago, on spring equinox. It was a success and I was thrilled when she said she would do it again this fall. It gave me a reason to train for something. I had no motivation otherwise. I haven't exactly "trained" but it was nice to have an answer when people would ask me what my next race is. I would tell them, "A Fat Ass Donut Run".

The DeMercurios are a running family, including Marissa's husband Pete Kardassis. Connie is one of my longtime running buddies up here in northern Colorado and Marissa is her daughter. Connie is beyond talented even though she never talks about it. She recently turned 60 and just a few months before her birthday she ran a 3:31 marathon. I can't even run one mile at that pace anymore.

Marissa is starting to get into ultras, has run a 50K and is now training for her first 50 miler. Her goal was to set a distance PR over her previous longest run which was 32 miles. Connie was out there being a cheerleader, training for her next marathon and putting "a few" miles in.

Marissa did provide some items for an aid station, she rented the pavilion at Lake Arbor park and set up quite a spread, including donuts, a staple of these runs.

I drove down Saturday morning in light traffic, and arrived at the park before anyone else. I used the portapotty and got my table set up, along with my ghost peeps for decoration. The sunrise was intense vivid reds.

The plan for keeping track of your distance is to put one of these little stones that look like marbles in your jar each time you complete a lap. You're losing your marbles, or you're getting stoned, whichever way you want to look at it. Each lap is 1.15 miles. At the end of the day you can figure out how many marbles you lost or how stoned you are.

We started at 7 am sharp, with just me, Connie, and two of Marissa's coworkers, Rich and Dave. Everyone else planned to show up during the day and put in as many miles as they felt like running. Last time I ran this I got just over 50 miles and I set an ambitious goal of trying to reach that again. I knew it would be an effort given my low mileage and lack of fast walking practice.

It was cool and cloudy the first two hours around the lake and for the first half of the run I stayed on target for my 50 mile goal, but soon realized it wasn't going to happen. It wasn't so much the running, but the walking is what killed me. Usually I can rely on my fast walking pace in these events to get me through but I haven't been working on it. When I tried picking up my walking pace my muscles got tired and burned, and then my feet were subject to a lot of friction in my shoes from that type of motion.

I figured I could still get somewhere over 40 miles which was fine, I keep trying to push it as much as I could but I could feel the effects of every donut I've eaten over the past few months...

Sasquatch said he would be late arriving, he was planning on doing about 15 miles. He showed up at some point when I was halfway around the lake and for the longest time we could see each other but weren't making progress catching each other. Eventually Sasquatch waited for me at the pavilion and then we did about 5 miles together.

It was warm most of the afternoon, not sure how warm it got but the forecast was for a high of 87. Then the clouds moved in again and made the last couple of hours more pleasant. I never could get my electrolyte intake quite right. I took in lots of salt and S caps, but I got little side stitch-type cramps off and on. That never happens. Must be my lack of training, and lack of heat training. It was never bad enough to slow me down.

Running laps with Connie, Marissa, and Sasquatch was the best part, I love being able to hang out and catch up. In our busy lives we don't see each other often enough.

During the day there were quite a few people in the park. It was never crowded, but all day long a steady stream of people, with kids or dogs, would be on the path. I saw four Australian Shepherds, including one beautiful red tri at the end of the day.

By the end Marissa had 38 miles and Connie had over 36 miles and these were both distance PRs for these budding daughter and mom ultrarunners. Way to go! And Pete managed 35 or so miles. Keep in mind that they covered these distances while spending considerable amount of time holding down the fort and watching the aid station, making sure delirious runners got their stones in the jar and forcing us to eat donuts very much against our will.

I managed to get 46 miles for the day, I stayed on my feet all day long, which was important to me. I was happy.

I want to thank Marissa DeMercurio and also Pete Kardassis and Connie DeMercurio for holding this event and going through the effort to make it happen. I feel somehow responsible for holding them hostage at the lake for over 12 hours of their lives. Actually 24 hours because this is second time they've done this.

When I got home Dennis had cooked a delicious meal of salmon and veggies and I ate, shared my videos with him, and then it was bedtime.

Today I have a wicked ultra hangover. My feet are blistered, my legs ache, I need to eat and drink. I'm dehydrated. We went for a walk to Starbucks this morning and the thought crossed my mind, "I need a goal to get me through the winter..."

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Old and New

The past few weeks have been busy since we got back from vacation, and vacation itself was awesome, I got a chance to stop thinking so much, finally. My brain needed a break. I've been spinning my wheels trying to figure out some of the issues that always come up around having a business, and what I needed was to get away from it all for a while.

One thing I have figured out is that I threw myself into my work so intensely, that I neglected to grieve and resolve the grief over the loss of our two girls last year. I've been working to distract myself, and I never really processed the grief, and it's come back to bite me in the butt. Like an Australian Shepherd.

I have begun working on a memory book of the girls, with pictures, and I also put together a little book of the archives of a newsletter I shared with family and friends during the first 5 years of the girls' lives, called The Daily Buffalo, that I wrote before I went to nursing school.

It's an ongoing project, but I needed to do it. I also realized that I have been giving and giving so much, to others and not putting anything back into myself. I need to do that. That is one thing that nurses tend to do, and I'm guilty of it. So I have resolved to find ways to give back to myself. I have neglected my running, my painting for way too long, and just taking time to take care of myself- body and mind.

I've also figured out some of the frustration with the business model I've chosen, and that's ongoing, but I am going to take a different approach as I move forward. I took a break from social media, which I love in some ways, don't love in other ways, but also drives me crazy. I need less screen time and more unplugging.

I am going to take time for myself and my needs, and hopefully a clearer perspective will follow. It already seems to be working.

Once I process more of this stuff, I will be excited to move forward.

On the running front, last week I managed to do nearly 90 miles on my feet including three long days: An 18 miler, a 30 miler, and a 22 miler. The 30 mile day was on Donut Friday. I now feel ready to get out and be on my feet for 12 hours during the There Goes the Sun Fatass coming up September 3.

The weather is about to change. We've already had a hint of cooler weather in the mornings, it's been in the 50s all week when we wake up, and that is such a relief. And it's dark until after 5:30 am now. I know this is the time for the weather to change because it always happens right around Leadville Trail 100 weekend. It's supposed to possibly dip down to 48 degrees here one night this weekend, according to the forecast. I love it. I am done with the heat this year. I know we might have a hot weekend during the Fat Ass run, but I will be ready with ice.

I like some things about summer, but fall is my favorite season. The cool air feels so good on hot flashes...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Life's a Beach

Like the Californians, we took the 605 to the 210 to the 105 to Vista Del Mar and ended up a few steps away from the beach in Playa del Rey this year. And here we are.

I've been running like a bent over old lady along the bike path between Marina del Rey and the Ballona Wetlands and Hermosa Beach. Not for any particular reason other than I move like an old lady these days. I've been tired, mentally stressed, and I'm heavy. Gotta lay off things like donuts and margaritas when I get back. My body belongs to someone else. I've achieved a girth I've never experienced before. It does not feel good.

But it's been a relaxing week, lots of naps at the beach, burning my kneecaps and the tops of my feet in between my usual sandal tan.

We watched a lot of the DNC convention this week while here. Lots of good speeches, knowing the undercurrent of disappointment of those who hoped for even more progressive change, but these things don't happen fast. As long as that narcissistic and megalomaniacal creep does not get elected President, I know we have the best possible person in charge of the country. Nothing will ever be ideal and compromise is what politics are made of.

For some reason watching Hillary accept the nomination doesn't affect me the way Barack Obama did when I watched his inauguration nearly 8 years ago. I just don't feel right now that the fact that she is the first woman in this position is that exciting, maybe if she wins I will feel differently, but somehow it's not hitting me very hard.

Last night we celebrated my nephew Jim's 21st birthday, he and his girlfriend, my brother and his girlfriend, Dennis and I, and my parents were here. It was great to see everyone. Lots of stuff to celebrate this year. For one thing, just being here, and having reasonably good enough health to be able to enjoy this time together, especially for my dad and Vivian, my nephew's girlfriend.

The first of the Aussie litters was born the other day, we are now 12 puppies closer to becoming parents. There are three more litters to be born over the next two weeks. We're behind about 40 people on a waiting list at this point. There is a slight possibility that we could end up with puppies as soon as mid-October but most likely we'll be waiting for the next round sometime in early spring. One project we do need to do when we get back is puppy-proofing the yard and house.

Mostly I need time to think and regroup and that has not happened on vacation, which is okay. I'll need to do it at some point, probably requiring a long trek by myself on foot somewhere.

Time to go to the beach...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Vicarious Vlogging: DoNut Stop...

Last Friday was my friend Connie's 60th birthday. We had a special donut run planned for her, all caught on video. Watch a bunch of runners try to figure out how to light a candle on top of a donut.

Between becoming a card-carrying member of the frequent donut club and celebrating the long-awaited M Day, it's been a busy couple of weeks and we're getting ready to go on vacation soon. We'll be going through Las Vegas on our way to LA. As long as Pokémon Go players don't destroy it by then. As long as Sushi Koma is safe, I don't care.

Some crazy F#$@! was playing this stupid new obsession in the empty Mormon church parking lot last week and nearly ran me over. I was walking on the sidewalk, crossing the exit drive from the parking lot , and this dumbshit in a Subaru screeched to a halt right in front of me. I looked at him like, WTF? and he had his head down, looking at his phone. I don't know if he saw me, or if he was stopping to get one of the characters. I wanted to go over and bash the shit out of the side of his car, Beyoncé style, but I didn't feel like dealing with him. And I didn't have my baseball bat, left it home. Damn.

Exciting news, we are a little closer to becoming parents again. There are four litters expected by mid-August and depending on how many puppies there are, that means by October we will either be near the top of the list for first pick or first pick for the next breeding cycle. One of my favorite girls, Spark, is having her first litter. We'll see what happens there. She's a black tri and the dad is a blue merle.

Last week I spoke to a gathering of about 30 people at a local nonprofit event for cancer survivors in the community, it went well. I could go on and on about healthcare and why we do such a lousy job with post-treatment care for people, and why this moonshot is still missing a huge target: earth. That's where real people are.

Between ignoring the fact that there are millions of people who've been through cancer treatment and need help living with the ongoing effects, and the fact that our horrible approach to educating people about the basics of health and taking care of their bodies is creating more disease that threatens to destroy not only our economy but our entire species...but no one is going to listen to that because the powers that be know they will make more money off of the "moonshot" crap in the short run and their philosophy is "I've got mine, screw you." Sound familiar? Cleveland, anyone?

I'm sure there will be plenty of laughs in Cleveland this week, I just hope no shootings or violence. Seems like the world is going batshit crazier these past few weeks. More crazy. People are so stupid. People are just really freaking stupid. Guns don't solve anything. Live human beings could, but that seems to be out of the question these days.

I got my 3D mammogram done, all turned out okay, fortunately. And tomorrow I have an appointment for my DEXA scan. Last week I also had blood drawn for a clinical trial, and a robotic front desk clerk couldn't figure out what a clinical trial was. But it's all done and figured out now.

I've been screened to the hilt, so I hope to be done with being squeezed, poked, and prodded for a while.

I'm working on a grant application I need to finish before I leave. For that, I need to make a video and I am struggling with it. It takes so long to make those damn things. If I wouldn't stumble over my words so much it would take less time.

And I need to pull up all the lettuce that's going to seed and plant more so we'll have some big salads this fall, to go along with the tomatoes and cucumbers that should be out of control by the time we get home. My neighbor is so lucky, she'll be eating our raspberries and cherry tomatoes while we're gone. This year we got some black raspberries, which only happens every couple of years. I can't figure that out.

Last week I slacked off just a little on the running. It was so miserably hot and I had so much to do that I didn't get out in time and it sucked. I still managed 60+ miles but didn't run very much of it. Maybe this week I can get some miles in.

And I am still waiting for my official DoNut Stop Running tank top to arrive in the mail.

Off to brave another week before heading to the desert...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Celebrating M Day! and 15 Random Facts...

My friend and fellow blogger Nancy Stordahl writes a great blog about breast cancer and is a two-time author of books on her experiences with cancer.

Today happens to be a very special day for me, a day of celebration about a milestone in my life.

Today, July 13, 2016, marks the exact day I officially have arrived at menopause.

They say after you have not had a menstrual period a full year, you are considered to be in menopause, and today is that day. YAY!

I am happily and unapologetically celebrating this milestone in my life and moving forward into this next phase of my life. This is what menopause looks like. No makeup, no dye, no fake.

This morning I slept in late, then drove up to Estes Park to do some hiking and a few live videos in some beautiful spots.

Then I came back to town and stopped off to eat lunch at my favorite sushi place.

And while I was there the owner, who knows me, without my even having to tell her that today was a special day, brought out this little treat after I was finished.

I don't know why, it must be a woman thing, unspoken, we are clued into each other? I didn't say a thing.

So now I am enjoying my afternoon, after doing quite a bit of thinking on some marketing challenges I am having, and blogging, and making videos from the footage I shot in Rocky Mountain National Park this morning.

I am scheduled for a DEXA scan next week if my insurance will pay for it. I want to see how my bone density is, going into this, because the years around menopause can be among the worst for losing bone mass, once you have that drop in estrogen. I'm pretty sure I've been low in estrogen for quite some time, though, thank you. I don't need anyone to tell me that, since I seem to have my own personal sauna installed.

So...let's get on with the 15 random facts this year, some things you might not have known about me: (see last year's post here)

Fifteen Random Facts About Me for 2016

1. I have already named our next generation of Australian Shepherd puppies, due sometime this winter. I cannot wait for those baby girls.

2. I absolutely detest the smell of perfumes and colognes. It feels like someone stuck daggers up my nose and it is so offensive to my sinuses. I find it so offensive that I don't even like to be around a person in the same room if I can smell it. I'd rather smell B.O. or even poop, even GI bleed poop, than perfume. I'm not kidding. Why people can't just be okay with smelling like humans, I'll never understand. And why, oh why, do they have to use that stuff when they're about to workout? Why do they insist on sharing their stench with the rest of the world? I can smell people on the trail as they go by, and sometimes it's enough to knock my off my feet. What's wrong with fresh air and pine trees? It's even worse when you're in a race and you get stuck behind someone who stinks, and you keep having to run through their cloud...Ugh!

3. I only like to go to Las Vegas for the sushi at Sushi Koma. We're driving there later this summer and I'm not looking forward to any of it except for a visit to the Neon Museum, which Dennis has never seen (he's never even been to Vegas!), and of course, Sushi Koma. Both ways!

4. I want a kayak. A simple, lightweight, one-person, flatwater kayak. I saw a really cool inexpensive one up in Buena Vista last month and wanted to buy it, but we are saving money for the puppies.

5. I would do more activities on the water, like kayaking, but I get very seasick, easily. I'd have to pre-medicate myself for days with meclizine, and it makes me spaced out and drowsy, and I can easily sleep for 14 hours at a time, which I hate, so I don't do much on the water. Sort a of a bummer because I do love kayaking.

6. I like glazed donuts. I didn't remember this until I re-discovered them by doing the long runs that led to Donut Friday runs. Now I look forward to Friday morning donuts. Bad. Very bad.

7. I have a bad habit of biting my lip when I'm stressed. I hate it when I do that.

8. I have discovered Facebook and You Tube Live and I really like them, I'll be doing a lot more live video both at work and in life in general in the near future. I always consider myself an introvert, but I like being on video and I like public speaking. I have to work hard and rehearse, I'm not too good at being spontaneous, but I'm working on it. I know, I'm weird.

9. I make kickass margaritas. No, I don't use mix. I make them from scratch with real stuff.

10. My bachelor's degree is in Forestry. I worked for two years after college doing forestry work, living in the back of my truck, doing a type of forest survey measurements called stand exam. Eventually I got tired of it, covered with spray paint and sticky pine sap, and one shower a week when I went into town to re-supply. I also got tired of eating what we called "fart swill", a thick mixture consisting of beans out of a can, peppers, onions, cheese, and salsa, that we could stir up fast over a camp stove, and a can of Coors Light for dessert. I also discovered that ski towns were a great place to hang out in the off season.

11.I lived in Steamboat Springs one winter, and in Crested Butte for 2 1/2 years, but I am not a skier. I ran through the winters in both places. Even though I don't like the cold, I loved running up there.

12. Speaking of extreme temperatures, I have lived in Gunnison, Colorado and it was 46 below zero one day, and I walked to work. And I lived in Arizona, and of course, have run in Death Valley. The hottest temperature I've ever experienced is 133 degrees, in Death Valley in July of 2003, while pacing my friend Ken Eielson across the valley floor.

13. I don't go to movies very often because I hate the Hollywood template...same plots, and how they portray women. I prefer documentaries or independent films. But my favorite trash movies I can think of were Tank Girl and Fried Green Tomatoes.

14.For our next generation, Dennis wants two black tri puppies, and I want one black tri and one red tri. I hope I get my way. But I'll love them no matter what color they are. I can't wait for puppy kisses!

15.I have a lot of bad brain days. I don't know if it's hormones, or the medication I take, or what. Maybe I just have too much on my mind. But I have a lot of days when I have the hardest time organizing and concentrating. Sometimes I feel like I have no executive function ability whatsoever. And then the next day, I'm fine. I used to never have this problem, and then, for a long time I thought it was my thyroid. But I don't think it is. I have very few ADHD characteristics so I really don't think it's that, either. When I have those days, I have learned to not get frustrated and just do something mindless, like running. Regardless, I wish I didn't have so many of them. I'm not so frustrated that I want a brain transplant. Yet.

So those are my 15 random facts for the year. What are yours?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

DoNut Stop Running! Donut Friday, Redstone Saturday

I did the unthinkable...woke up at 4:15 am before my alarm, and ran across town in the dawn rain, to meet a group of runners at Lamar's Donuts at 6 am, go for a 4 mile run, and come back to eat donuts. It was a great start to what turned out to be a cool, drizzly, 17 mile day.

This all came about because Melody and Nelly are donut freaks and decided to start meeting each other, with a few others, at the donut shop on Friday mornings. I've resisted, because normally there is no way I'm going to get up that early in the morning unless it's an all day run, and for 4 miles it is not worth it. I don't even like donuts very much. I like plain glazed donuts and that is about it. But Melody and Nelly already have donut tank tops.

I figured it would be those two, me, my friend Connie, and maybe one or two others. When I woke up to the rain I wondered if no one would show up. But when I got there, there were 13 people, plus Melody's dog, Faraday, all ready to run in the rain for donuts!

We headed out on the Spring Creek Trail and did an out and back, to the owl tree. Then we all sat there and these people are serious about their donuts. They even have frequent donut cards. They've figured out how to get the most donut for their money- they get free donut holes, and they know all the special deals on donuts.

Up the Spring Creek Trail, to the turnaround, then the miraculous burst of speed on the way back, downhill to the donuts.

A group of sweaty, rain-drenched runners took over the inside of the quiet donut shop, raising a few gray eyebrows of the regulars...

We sat there on the patio, overlooking Drake road and early morning rush hour traffic, along with Faraday, who impersonates a miniature Australian Shepherd and is the donut run mascot.

Later after I got home and went out to the lake to do a few more miles, the pelicans were out again. It continued to rain all day, what a nice relief from the heat.

This morning I met Dale, aka Sasquatch, for a run/walk up Redstone Canyon. It was cool and cloudy again, looked like rain, but it didn't rain.

The wildflowers were out and we had a nice view of the west face of Horsetooth Rock.

We had the canyon pretty much to ourselves, it was a holiday weekend and there were tons of cars up at the Horsetooth Mountain Park and Blue Sky Trailheads, but no one once you went down the hill toward Redstone and Masonville, just a few scattered cyclists.

At one point a couple of hotshot fast young runners, probably from the university, came flying by us, and on their way back down, they brought a stampede of cattle with them, which startled us.

Sasquatch had never run Redstone before so he was having shutterbug moments.

Nice day for a cool low key shuffle with the Sasquatch.