Scatter my ashes here...

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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Random Late Winter Thought Rants

Tomorrow at 4:03 pm it is solstice. I am so glad. I have decided to use it as my motivation to get my butt back in gear. I woke up this morning at 4:20, but fully able to breathe. I didn't wake up once with a coughing fit. First time in probably a week and a half.

Today is my dad's birthday, he's 73 and going strong. Some underlying health issues pop up to haunt him every so often, mostly just reminders when it's time to get that follow-up check, but he's been fortunate, and he does take good care of himself in general.

Life and death have been on my mind this week as I have been writing a bit about those topics and just read Atul Gawande's book Being Mortal. Good read, by the way. If people would accept death as a part of life and not fear it so damn much, they might take better care of themselves on this side of the grass. Then we might not have such crazy out of control health care costs. We won't even get started on the relationship of fear of death to religion. But I could get going on a soapbox on all of these...

A former patient and now friend passed away this past Wednesday after dealing with a type of cancer for several years. He was one of my favorites. He was a musician, and was always warm and friendly and had such good energy. I know he suffered a lot in private, all the years of treatment and the ups and downs from that were hard on him. I've come to know his wife well as we've spent many morning conversations stopped along the Power Trail while I was running and she was walking her dog. I had been thinking of them a couple of weeks ago and then I got sick, and then just found out he's gone. I am glad he no longer has to suffer a medical experiment, but it's really sad when people who are such gifts to humanity get removed from our presence prematurely.

My thoughts have not been on running so much, which is good, but I am starting to feel kind of stiff and rusty. My back has not 100% recovered from the massive sneeze attack from earlier this week. It's getting there though.

The donut run idea was received enthusiastically by a number of people in the running club, so it looks like my crazy idea might take off. We have to wait for Dunkin Donuts to open in Windsor, and that might not be until after my birthday. Maybe next year, but we'll see.

So what is it with the newest male fashion statement, the unkempt, long, thick scraggly beard? I'm sorry to any of my readers who have one, but I can't handle it. Maybe it's a reliving of childhood trauma when I lived back east and I used to see those Hasidic Jews in the cities, wearing those long beards and the crazy long sideburns, and their black hats. They always freaked me out as a small child.

But I think my beard aversion has more to do with the number of men I've observed dropping food in their beards and seemed to be unaware. I wonder how long things live in that rat's nest. And then when I see these guys who are runners and I think of all the sweat and gels and snot and all the other unsavory things that happen during an ultra...I just can't get past it.

"Lumbersexual" or Duck Dynasty, hipster fad or spare refrigerator, it's freaking me out and I'm already way over it. Can't we go back to something less obvious, like tattoos and nipple piercings? At least we get a break from looking at those in the winter.

Beards, beards, go away.
Store your food some other way.

This too shall pass. For now, my advice is, if you must, please Trim It.

And this concludes my sleep-deprived, pre-solstice rant. And yes, the title of this post says late winter. Spring starts January 1st.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Short Days Drive Me CRAZY!

Approaching solstice is the hardest time of the year for me. I love the way the light and shadows look this time of year, but the darkness seems to affect me and my motivation.

The past nearly two weeks I've been sick, I have the worst of it behind me, but my head is still full of snot and every so often it sounds like a herd of elephants took over the house, as I attempt to clear my sinuses. It wiped my energy out, too. The past two days I walked at a good pace for 30 minutes each day, and I'm hoping to get out and try running a couple of miles today. Monday I tried to run and I thought two miles would kill me.

Then Wednesday morning soon after I woke up, I was overtaken by a sudden, violent sneeze attack, and actually strained my low back muscles. I spent two days hobbling around in pain with ice stuffed in the back of my pants.

Every so often I get a pang of regret that I'm not going to certain runs this year, but it passes quickly. I think I'll be much better off getting back into it when the enthusiasm returns. I might get to explore some new races later in the year that I've always wanted to check out.

The other day I finished writing a book chapter for an upcoming book for nurses, it was fun to write it. I have this huge manuscript of my own material that I'm wading through and it felt good to get the one project out of the way so I can get back to my focus.

One thing I want to do is plan some fun urban adventure-themed runs this winter and spring, as I increase my mileage. For example, Dunkin Donuts in Fort Collins is exactly 13.1 miles from the soon-to open Dunkin Donuts location in Windsor Colorado. Seems like there could be a convenient long run course that involved donuts. Or possibly as a 52nd birthday run I could do a double out & back.

I think I need some exposure to the sun, and oxygen to my brain. It's all been impaired lately due to the short daylight hours and the condition of my sinuses.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Down With the Crud...

The past week I have been pretty much out of it. On Sunday afternoon after my run with Josh I started to feel a scratchy throat and was hoping it was allergies, but by bedtime it was becoming undeniable. Monday I spent most of the morning making a huge pot of green chile, and that was it for me. I went to bed after that. Tuesday I was completely worthless, worse than Monday.

Wednesday I could only manage a one mile walk with Iris, which was pushing it. Thursday I did 3 miles of walking with Iris, my best day yet. Friday I had no energy but my sinuses were draining and the cough wasn't quite as annoying. And today I had to get out for some obligations, which I did, but still no exercise. I feel wiped out. I will give it until Monday and then attempt to run at least a few steps.

It's not the flu, no fever and it is really all above my neck. I have an annoying cough more like a tickle in my throat, but it's not in my chest. I hope it doesn't go there. I don't want to be hacking up lung cookies for the next 3 weeks like everyone else seems to be doing. I usually get one cold or 24 hour puking episode every year and this was it for 2014.

The sad part is that it was a beautiful week, the weather was incredible, temperatures near 60. Iris got to work on her GPA, I really think she's gunning for an Ivy League scholarship. So many good nuggets to sniff now that geese are back!

I didn't get a lot of work done this week, either. My brain didn't want to do much work. I did catch up on some reading though. I finished Clifton Leaf's The Truth in Small Doses and Atul Gawande's Being Mortal. One more health policy-related book on the agenda before the end of the year and I will be looking for more. Gawande's book was excellent. Everyone who might ever die should read it.

I have a chapter due January 15th in the upcoming book Empowered Nurses, so I need to get my head clear and working again to finish it. Then I can finally move on to my big fat writing goal for 2015.

Friday I did also get a major project done, it took 7 hours. I had piles of miscellaneous papers, class notes, unread journals, paperwork from starting up my business, and garbage from stuff I've been reading and researching about cancer-related programs for the past 6 years. The stack was taller than me and spilling over onto the floor of the woman cave. So I decided to organize it by going through every single paper and journal to see what I could get rid of and what I could use.

Isabelle slept the whole time, through all the ruckus.

I stopped by Office Max and K-Mart Friday afternoon, yes we still have one of those relics in town, about a mile from my house. I bought about a dozen binders on sale and a 3-hole punch, then at K-Mart I found a cheap set of wooden pre-cut bookshelves that just needed to be screwed together and brought them home. Now I have a 5 foot tall shelving unit in the woman cave with a much less intimidating pile of stuff, divided up into categories. It feels so much better. I can't work surrounded by clutter.

I finally got my sense of taste back and decided to have a beer this afternoon. Fort Collins Brewery came up with a beer I like, 1020 Pale Ale. I always feel bad that we have a local brewery that I have never liked their beer, but I keep trying. It's hoppy and bitter and really good.

I really have nothing to add on the running front. Today is Desert Solstice 24 hour in Phoenix. I was on the fence about it ever since last spring and would have been there today if I didn't have such a frustrating summer of training. But I'm glad I didn't. If my motivation comes back, there's a good chance I will go there next year for a good track race. But we'll see what happens. I think my body has had it for a while.

I will be happy to run 3 miles on Monday at the rate I'm going.

Stay healthy, everyone.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Six

My friend Josh was in town visiting his kids and I found out about it just before I went to bed Saturday night. So we quickly arranged to meet at the Horsetooth trailhead at 8 Sunday morning. I was supposed to run the 6K Tortoise & Hare with the Running Club, but a trail run with Josh sounded like a lot more fun.

So I drove up past the reservoir this morning, and the parking lot was surprisingly empty. Guess it was too early for most people.

We ran Southridge, Audra Culver, hit the summit, down the Wathan, to Spring Creek and back. Nice 6 1/2 mile loop at an easy pace with some decent vertical. It was great to catch up, we haven't seen each other since he left last spring and moved to Colorado Springs.

Longs Peak was emerging from behind the clouds all lit up, it was hard to catch in a photograph but glowing in real life.

It's been years since I ran these trails but it all looked familiar once we started hitting the intersections and the landmarks I remember from my days of training for Leadville. I am so thrilled to be able to run trails. It doesn't hurt except for the really loose rocky stuff, but there wasn't much of that today. Remembering how to run on different surfaces and how things move under your feet, different sizes and shapes of rocks, pine needles on the trail, it's like riding a bike. You remember where to place your feet and how likely your feet are to slide out from under you on different objects.

We're supposed to have nice weather all this coming week. I got 44 miles in this past week, again about half on trails. Not tired, not wiped out at all. So nice to feel refreshed after my runs and have the energy to do other things.

We are so lucky to live here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tires and Trails

I'm having another consistent week of running. Nothing big, again, the longest run was 9 miles, but I managed to get out with the tire twice this week, and did some trail running.

I can't say for sure if I'm out of the woods yet, with the low motivation. I still struggle to get out each day, but I've been successful, even when I'm running by myself. Things are better. Except every time I see someone I know, they ask me, "Any races coming up?"

I need to come up with a good recreationally-themed run to keep it fun this winter. Something even crazier than the Walmart run.

Friday morning I had a block of time to get away and I went up to Coyote Ridge and ran over the ridge to the Blue Sky Trail, went north about a mile, then turned around. Good, technical, rocky sections. I did it. It took me two hours to run 9 miles, but I ran every step, even the gnarliest rocky ascents. That's real progress for my ankles.

Today I went to the Power Trail and stuck to the dirt sections, to make it feel different, even though scenery is the same. It was a gray and cloudy morning. I actually ran a decent pace today, even though I thought I'd be tired. I wasn't. Tomorrow is the Tortoise and Hare 6K with the running club, I guess that will be my "speedwork" for the week. I already went to the track once. I could live with this schedule.

I have three busy months ahead. My schedule is getting full, there's so much to do. I'll stick to my promise, no racing or long training runs. I need my brain to work...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Haute Hubris Hits the 'Hood

We certainly shoot for the moon around here in Fort Collins. Sometimes we go over the moon and miss our target.

What a week it's been in northern Colorado. The arrogance of power, profit, and politics, pomposity on steroids.

We've been so juiced up in the executive departments that we don't even know where we started, and we sure don't know how to stop.

This week alone, we've discovered:

1. CSU football coach Jim McElwain is leaving to coach University of Florida. (We suspected it all along despite the adamant public denial from everyone at CSU).
2. Tony Frank, president of CSU, saw his wet dreams come true, he got approval to build his on-campus stadium.

3. To keep up with the newbies across the street, University of Colorado Health is proposing to build yet another emergency department on Harmony Road, just down the street from the new emergency department going in at the new Banner Health facility that will open this spring. That's on top of the emergency room renovation at Poudre Valley Hospital.

The other night I was at an event with some people in the community who were familiar with the goings-on in the competing health systems in town. And they asked, "I see they're building a new emergency room. Why did it take so long to raise money to build the cancer center?"

Good question.

I don't think they'll be begging the community with emotional appeals to support them in this capital expenditure.

Why are we paying a football coach a huge sum of money- his original buyout was $7.5 million dollars, which I hear has been reduced, to the tune of $5 million. Couldn't they put that toward the multimillion dollar cost of the stadium? We know they won't put it toward academics.

Why do we have three emergency departments within 4 miles of each other in a city of 150,000, two of which belong to the same hospital system? Wasn't Obamacare supposed to reduce the need for emergency services because people would have health insurance and get preventive care so they didn't end up in the ER? (Hint: follow the money)

Meanwhile, this area is in desperate need of a mental health facility. Hello?

Ask executives at any of these institutions and they will issue the same platitudes and excuses. But these are both really unnecessary expenditures at a time when we ought to re-think our original purpose, and whether it truly benefits the community, or just a few. Those who are so hypersensitive to criticism might want to explain themselves to the public, who are asking good questions.

What are we doing in this country? Does this make any sense? Do we need another college football stadium and hospital emergency department? Haven't the costs of higher education and health care already gone over the moon?

Where are the grownups? These children who are too big for their business suits need a time-out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

GPS 2015: Enjoying Normal

It's goose poop season again, and again, Iris is working on her GPA: her goose poop average. She saw the geese were back for the winter in the schoolyard today, for the first time this year, and she was sniffing for vegetables in the grass...

The past two days I was successful in getting my butt out the door to run. Isabelle has been slacking for a while but the past two days she got her motivation back and walked. Her sister must have told her about the geese. Mmm...tasty treats.

Tuesday was the group track workout with the running club at noon, I got there early and ran a few miles to warm up and then dragged the tire on some dirt bike trails for a mile or so before going over to the track to meet the group.

While I was there I ran four 400s, not fast at all, but just for some leg turnover. I could barely crack 7 minute pace. But I wasn't doing it for speed. More like long strides. It was different to make myself work hard. At the end of each quarter I was done. Not ready for anything more intense than that.

Today I got my butt out for a little over 7 miles around noon. I have had such a hard time getting out in the morning. I start doing work things and get sidetracked and then by midday I have low motivation.

I am enjoying the shorter runs, though. It feels more refreshing, it doesn't wipe me out for the rest of the day. Instead of doing 20 miles, 7 or 8 is a nice start to the day. I think I'll be sticking to this average for a while, too. I am happy to keep a low GPA this winter. Unlike some people around here: