Saturday, December 7, 2013
I'm getting my work done, despite feeling like my head weighs 50 pounds. The temperature hit 7 for a high so far today. Looking forward to much nicer days next week and hopefully my head will clear up, too. I would much rather be outside playing in the snow, if I had more energy. Looks like we should get above freezing by Tuesday. And our neighborhood is now covered with the annual ice sheet, that should last until March when they bring out the heavy equipment to break up the ice dams.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
and then Wednesday, ten degrees, with ice forming on the lake.
Today is bright and sunny but the temperature hasn't made it above 5 degrees yet.
I woke up with a sore throat and sniffles. That really sucks, I don't feel too bad but I didn't sleep well last night and my throat hurt then, too. I need some down time. I rarely get sick. I don't know where I picked this up except maybe in the pool the other day, there were a gazillion high school kids at their swim practice right before I got in the pool. One of the downsides of swimming in a public pool, I guess. I did swim 1800 meters on Tuesday though, which is my longest swim in about twenty-five years.
The fact that I've been sick twice in 3 weeks tells me that the work stress hangover is the gift that keeps on giving. I do feel better in general but I am sure my immune system was not happy for a while. I should be bouncing back soon.
Also I've been hitting it pretty hard with the workouts lately, after slacking off for 7 months, so that could be a shock to my body. The timing was good, for getting sick at least, this was going to be a short easy week of running anyway. Maybe I'll get more work done.
Santa is being very kind to us this year, and he is sending his elves early, too. The elves are bringing us a hot tub next week, to replace the old decrepit model that came with the house and recently died. The elves will install the new hot tub and cart the old one off.
Isabelle loves sitting outside in the snow. It can be 5 below zero and she'll sit out there and enjoy the cold air.
Not much else to report. I'm hoping I can shake this crud quickly by staying home, getting plenty of sleep and hydrating myself with soup. Somehow it's not so bad being sick when the temperatures are in the single digits outside. When the sun is shining like this, it doesn't feel bad outside at all, if you're covered. I wish I felt better because it's nice running weather out there.
Monday, December 2, 2013
All of our biggest problems are caused by feeding into the greed of people who amass too much money and power. And by our silence and complacency, we allow it!
We all suffer from it here in the U.S. with our corrupt government, the system of corporate and private interest money going into lobbyists and sources of influence to tweak the system in their favor and not the people's.
It's one thing to make money or turn a profit, but when it's at the expense of millions of people's lives and well-being, that's greed. Our healthcare system is a good example of that, the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are perfect examples.
Even not-for-profit entities turn profits and instigate violent knee-jerk reactions to anything that might interfere with their money-making ability. Case in point: Health Care Systems. Anyone who strays outside a narrow set of lines is removed as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary, by a culture of corporate bullying that the law allows, because the law favors those with money and power.
Nurses are a readily available, exploitable source of labor easily manipulated by threats to their livelihood and licenses. Amanda Trujillo's case is one notable example, but there are many others, too numerous to track. The collusion of management, corporate culture, state-run licensing boards, and legal impediments to organized labor all contribute to an impossible situation for anyone who questions their motives or points out their hypocrisy, or worst of all, identifies a hazard to the public and tries to do the right thing to fix it.
In a conversation with a number of nurses recently, someone pointed out the analogy of a jumbo jet. If we treated airline pilots the way we run health care and nurse labor practices, any jet that took off would stand no chance of landing without crashing because there would be so many unresolved safety issues.
Make your new year's resolution something that will help all people. Resolve to make a statement, put your energy into changing the balance of power. It takes a lot of people, not just a few vocal ones. Instead of using the Internet for shopping, use it for social change. Write a letter, spread the word, don't just make people aware, motivate them to take action.
That's my $.02 for the day. Back to work...
Sunday, December 1, 2013
We had fun with the girls over a long, relaxing holiday weekend. I cooked a small turkey, along with mashed potatoes and gravy, a spinach casserole that turned out sooooo good, and apple tarts.
Bitchen Swill when I get around to it.
Saturday I only ran 6 miles but it felt like the last 6 miles of a 24 hour run. My legs were fried. The weather was amazing this weekend though. Temperatures in the 50s and sunshine with no wind. I ran in shorts on Saturday.
It's too nice NOT to go outside.
But Sunday I wanted to get up to Horsetooth Reservoir and do my 10 mile out & back that I've been missing so much but was afraid to do until my hamstring got better. The sunrise in the morning was outrageous.
The ten miles felt okay despite how tired my legs were on Saturday. I went super slow but had no problem climbing the hills. I feel strong, just slow. I'm looking forward to putting a few weeks of these runs behind me and then I will start hitting the Rock Repeats to build more strength climbing hills. Maybe I'll be able to do a few more trails this year if I can get my ankles to cooperate.
This was a long, difficult, stressful year, and I am glad to be on the other side of the stress.
I found out about a few other nurses who are just going into a stressful period which I know will resolve once they make their decisions to leave, but until they take that step it will be painful, and I feel for them. It's not healthy to be bullied by people who have power over you. Better to leave the toxicity behind, because once you leave, they will have to find someone else to pick on.
Every once in a while I still get hit with a wave of hurtful memories or anger that resurfaces, usually when someone else comes to me and tells me their story. My own wounds are still fresh, but healing. It leaves me with a reminder of how bad I feel, physically, when I get back into that vortex. But now I can smooth it out for myself and go back to my own peaceful existence that I am enjoying so much.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Early Thanksgiving morning I will go over to Windsor and help with registration and packet pickup for the Pelican Lakes 5K, and after that I might run the race. Probably will, but not 100% sure.
I figure I will get plenty of short runs in between cooking spells all day Thursday. That's the plan- put something in the oven, go for a run, come back and check on it, go for another run.
I always love running around the holidays. There's less traffic and the streets are quiet. Except for Black Friday. Ugh. "Corporate Greed Friday". I try not to spend any money on Black Friday and try not to drive anywhere, either. I like to run, far away from the busy sections of town where shoppers might be driving.
But speaking of religion...
what the Pope said.
I like this Pope. I wish people would listen to him. He has some good messages that really ought to be listened to by more than just Catholics. Because there are a lot of people who really need to hear this message. I know it will go in one ear and out the other for those people with no social conscience.
But I hope the kids like my niece and nephews, the so-called Millenials, will be different, and find a way to salvage their world after their greedy, shortsighted predecessors from my generation and the one after mine die off.
"My advice is that you should use your brains more and train less."
- Yiannis Kouros
Might as well be the Pope speaking.
Monday, November 25, 2013
I wanted to say more and the newspaper column only allows so many words. I also wanted to expand a little more on the places where her book took me, personally. So this version is a book review with my own personal commentary inserted here and there, on what it meant to me, and the memories her book brought back to me. Because it touched me a lot more than most books on running ever do.
There has been a mini-proliferation of books about ultramarathons and ultra athletes in recent years, mostly written by or about the fastest and most recognized names in the sport.
The Summit Seeker is different. Written by Vanessa, a young woman new to the sport, she describes a life experience that differs from many ultrarunners, who are often from middle-class backgrounds, have mainstream jobs and careers, generous disposable income, and fairly conventional lifestyles.
In running as well as other sports, much attention is paid to the statistics: the fastest and most competitive. Unless a person is a high-achieving athlete by these standards, it is rare to hear the human story of what drives them to become an ultrarunner. Those stories need to be told.
I think that people are afraid of telling their own stories. They are afraid to share their fears, mistakes, and rough spots. People want so badly to conform and fit in, because they see the pain inflicted upon those who don’t.
Then there are the ones who are always seeking, looking for what’s out there, to go beyond the fences and limits that don’t really exist. When they express themselves fearlessly, they can pay a price in going against the grain, but the beauty of a diamond in the rough is worth the price.
Vanessa tells her story of growing up with El Salvadorean immigrant parents, who crossed two borders with her to land in Toronto, where Vanessa grew up under conditions of economic and emotional poverty.
After losing her mother at age nine and growing up with a father who imposed his strict religious standards and expectations on her, she became a caretaker for her siblings, and had very little given to her in nurturance and support.
Her inner strength drove her to pursue means of escape whenever possible, her restlessness tempered by self-reliance. She made mistakes along the way, but gained wisdom and perspective in her physical transience, resulting in maturity that often comes later in life.
Her desire to run took her to the streets and cold lakeshores of Toronto until she ran a marathon and decided to break free. She left for San Diego, discovering a new social world among ultrarunners on the trails.
She eventually met her partner, Shacky, with whom she still lives in an RV along with their dog and cat. They travel the country and run as many trails as they can find. Along the way, Vanessa finds herself comfortable and at peace.
Ultrarunning is a sport that demands confidence, self-reliance and outrunning fear. While none of us are ever completely in control of our lives, Vanessa is in control of who she is. She experiences the anxiety of being new in the sport and exploring new distances, but enters them fearlessly, because she knows who she is. Grounded despite her nomadicism, she is determined to live life simply, being true to herself, and enjoy it without guilt, qualities that are rare.
Vanessa has the refreshing voice of a young woman expressing herself in a way that’s self-assured. She embraces the uncertainties of life and plows ahead anyway, she’s a great example to so many people who get sidetracked along the way by unimportant things: appearance, weight, competition, and what other people think.
Women often have a different experience when running ultras than men do. Despite so many changes in our cultural attitudes toward women, some things are still unchanged. Women are held to certain standards and expectations, which varies with many factors. Women are still told what they should and shouldn't do, or can and can't do. To resist means you have to exercise your strength and independence, which does not always gain approval.
I love that Vanessa explores places without fear. I did that from childhood and I can completely relate to going out in places where people would be freaked out by a woman being out there alone. I trust my sixth sense, too, and I don't let other people's fears hold me back.
As a kid I loved exploring the woods in Pennsylvania, and later, the desert and forests in Arizona, whenever I had the opportunity to go off by myself, or with other people who shared an appreciation of the outdoors. Even when I'd go backpacking with other people, once we got to our destination, I'd always go off exploring on my own.
When I started running ultras in my 20s, about the same age as Vanessa was, there were very few women running ultras. It was just something they didn’t do, didn't even think of, had never heard of, and/or didn’t have time for, with families, jobs, expectations.
If I wanted running partners, I had to run with the guys, or I ran alone. Usually I ran alone, and all these years later, I still do. I've been lucky over the years to make some great friends through ultrarunning, in the many hours of covering trails and roads you learn so much about each other.
It's a chance to spend time with a person, shared effort, shared company, shared scenery, and shared pain, experiences we rarely share with other people all at once, in any place in our lives. But I equally, if not more, love the solitude of running outdoors, alone, hearing the wind, seeing the landscape, and taking it all in, unadulterated by others' voices and perspectives.
Reading Vanessa's book, there were several times I found myself so emotionally moved by her words that I found myself crying, at the cruelty of her childhood: the dog that despite her best efforts as a child, got neglected, losing her mom at a young age, how her dad treated her, the hypocrisy of religion that she discovers, her intense restlessness and desire to escape.
My own similar, parallel experiences growing up, I believe, also led me to my own restlessness and desire to escape, and eventually, pushing my own physical limits, living in the back of my truck with my dog in the woods, my independence and the things I did that were far from the norm for women.
Vanessa describes life in her RV, and I remember the times of resisting the mainstream lifestyle, in my 20s moving to Crested Butte and waiting tables, running and mountain biking, living on as little as possible, trying to avoid "getting a life".
But when I finally caved and "got a life", I tried three different times to fit into the "life" and each time I ended up depressed, miserable, and frustrated. There is more to life than conforming. Growing up gifted with many talents it’s hard to find your place in the world. And if you are outspoken, people take it personally and they don’t take criticism well. I'm happy for Vanessa and the life she lives and speaks of, and what she has to say. I hope she lives it as long as she wants to, and keeps saying it.
As I read her book, I remembered some things lost in my memory, that I hadn't thought of in years, and my favorite experiences: an enchanted solo run for hours through a blizzard to the base of Paradise Divide in Crested Butte, the magical night sky in the Lean Horse 100, the stars reflecting along with bioluminescence in the water in the Sea of Cortez on a kayaking trip years ago. And the unmatched wonder of the Death Valley landscape.
The book is a glimpse inside her mind, a beautifully written personal tribute to ultrarunning and all that it means to her. It’s a gift to the sport, contributing her perspective and voice in a time where the voices of everyone but the fastest get lost. It’s written through her uncluttered view of life, from a person who has managed to keep the crazy world from obstructing her vision or blocking her path.
The Summit Seeker will inspire anyone, regardless of running experience. Vanessa prompts us to listen to the instincts of the human animals that we are. Like running barefoot on a trail, it restores our contact with the earth so we can remember what is most important, not necessarily the comforts, but the things that truly enrich our lives.
If you've read this far, then I'm hoping you're interested in reading the book, too. Guess what, there is an opportunity to get a free copy of The Summit Seeker, thanks to the generosity of Vanessa herself. I'm having a giveaway drawing here on this blog. All you have to do is write me at sherunnoftatgmaildotcom and let me know your name and email by December 10th and I will notify you if you are the winner. Please let me know in the e-mail if it's okay if I state your name on this blog. I won't give out your address or e-mail or any personal details, just your name.
If you win, I will write you to ask for your mailing address and you will get a book in the mail in a few weeks. Be patient, it's a small publisher. The book is also available on Amazon. You can also check out Vanessa's website.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I had a serious motivation problem this morning, I could not get my butt out the door. I was intimidated by the combination of 20 degrees and gray skies.
It's one thing when the sun is shining, but when there's nothing to warm you up and there's a cold breeze from the north, as mild as it might be, I have a hard time getting out there.
By ten o'clock I'd checked my email, surfed Facebook, and done all the other things and made all the excuses that it's possible to use for procrastination. I knew if I didn't get out I'd be finishing late in the day and I wanted to get it done.
So I dragged my butt out, thinking I'd do 16 miles and ended up with just over 18, slower than snot, but I did it. I had no problem running or moving, it was just slow. My legs were tired and then I remembered I just started the weights this past week and I did squats yesterday.
What really blew me away was when I looked at my running log and figured out how many miles I ran this week: over 47 miles. I wasn't paying attention, didn't realize I got that many miles in. That's progress.
I did stop halfway through at Pelican Marsh Natural Area and sat on a bench, ate a Lara bar, drank some water, and texted my friend Kathy to see if her daughter had her baby yet. Not yet.
A pretty uneventful run but I felt good about the steady pace and no issues.
I noticed something this week. Looking in the mirror I noticed the skin on my face looks different. There are wrinkles there, not sure when they appeared, but it's not from dry skin. The reason I was looking so closely at my face is because I got this HUGE zit on the side of my nose, looks like a new nose is growing there. My face rarely breaks out anymore but this is one lone gigantic mountainous explosion waiting to happen.
I just found it amusing, this big old zit and then I saw the tiny wrinkles in my cheeks, that you can't see unless you look super close. Gray hair, wrinkles, what the hell, it's bound to happen. I just happened to notice. I put extra sunscreen on my face before I went out today. Nothing else I want to do about it. No botox for this chick.
I've earned every one of my gray hairs and wrinkles, and I'm proud of them. I suppose the real test will be in this next year's racing, because I'm hoping that my menstrual cycle has completely stopped. At least I won't have to deal with the race day surprise anymore. The hot flashing has subsided quite a bit recently, and best of all, I have slept through the night almost every single night this past week, since I stopped working at the hospital. Imagine that.
This coming week is Thanksgiving, and I'll be volunteering at the Pelican Lakes 5K in Windsor, doing registration and race packets. I might run the 5K afterwards. Probably will. Lots of studying and writing this week on the agenda. It feels great to be here...