Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Donut Triangle Birthday Urban Adventure

I first threatened this idea several years ago when I was still writing a running column in the local paper. It was around the time that Dunkin Donuts was making a resurgence in the local area after being gone for years.

I was thinking about themed runs for future birthdays and out of curiosity I checked on a map to see how far it was from the new Fort Collins Dunkin Donuts to the planned Windsor Dunkin Donuts. The most direct road route was 13.1 miles. How convenient. I proposed three different versions, a half marathon, marathon, and double donut marathon. That would have been perfect for my 52nd birthday. But as things turned out I wasn't focused on running at the time and the last thing I felt like doing was forcing myself to do 52 miles on a double out and back on the heavily trafficked roads between Fort Collins and Loveland.

I put the whole thing on hold for a while, and then when my friend Melody convinced me to join the Donut Running group for Donut Fridays last summer, I began thinking about it again. By then, there was also a Dunkin Donuts in Loveland. I decided it would be easier, and shorter, to do a loop hitting all the Dunkin Donuts locations. I measured it out and it came to about 35 miles, not 53, but just reverse the digits and it works.

I decided to plan it and invited a lot of running friends to come join me on a part of the loop. There are so many running events going on this time of year and spring break was coming up so I decided to choose the first weekend in March and avoid spring break. Two of my friends had just finished ultras last weekend and they wouldn't be doing it. But as it turned out I got 5 takers to join me on my urban birthday trek.

Why do I do these birthday runs? They are really just a way to do my favorite activity and be outdoors on my feet for a long time and share it with friends. It's always fun to dream up some kind of creative theme, to make things interesting. Celebrating another year of being able to do long distances on my feet, because I've learned that you can't take this stuff for granted.

I woke up around 4 am on Saturday and had coffee, the girls wanted to know what I was doing so they got up with me, but had to go in the crate when I left so Dennis could sleep. They didn't like that too much.

I ran the one mile from my house to Dunkin Donuts on south College and as soon as I arrived, Felix drove up. Felix has been on most of my birthday adventures. We had a donut, lit candles on it, and took off. The sunrise on the Mason Trail as we headed south was spectacular. One scene I never got a picture of, was the geese flying overhead in the sunrise, and the light was shining on them.

The whole way down we had a typical Felix and Alene running conversation, pointing out goofy signs along the way, joking about the medical and recreation marijuana shops all along the strip between Fort Collins and Loveland, laughing that we could stop in and work on our donut appetites. Felix and I have a long history of odd conversations at odd hours on foot, as he is the person who was with me during the infamous SpongeBob sighting in the middle of the night at Badwater.

Felix had to be at the airport later in the morning so he said he would run as far as he could with me but then had to turn around and go back to his car. He stayed with me all the way into Loveland, at the Walmart on Garfield. It was only two and a half more miles to the Loveland Dunkin Donuts.

There I took a little break, charged my phone and used the bathroom. It was breakfast time and there a huge line. I didn't think I'd be able to get a donut before having to get going toward Windsor, but the line died down and I got my donut fix.

I took off after about twenty minutes and started heading back north to the bike path across from Walmart. Once I got off the Rambo running stretch on 287, it was a relief. Quiet, peaceful, no traffic on the bike path. The day was shaping up to be beautiful. I went east on the bike bath past Boyd Lake and north to county road 30, taking it east past the stinky cow farm to the frontage road along I-25.

On the way across the bike path I was thinking about the Walmart run, when my friend Morgan was still with us, she joined us on that run. I could hear her voice and see her smile. I miss her so much. I'll be writing a post about her in the next few weeks.

I stuck my music in my ears and proceeded at a fast powerwalking pace with a few brief running bursts in between. It was a relief to be by myself on a long run again. I didn't have to think about anything, just moving forward, listening to music, from donut stop to donut stop.

I needed a break, to get away from the house and from thinking. So much mental work in my life right now. It was refreshing to have a puppy break, as much as I missed them and wanted puppy kisses along the way, it felt so good not to be constantly vigilant for chewing, barking, digging, and all the other forms of mischief I have to watch for while I work at home each day.

I crossed I-25 at highway 392 and took that east on the shoulder all the way to the Windsor Dunkin Donuts. That was the worst stretch other than 287. The cars were whizzing by fast, and lots of big macho loud trucks. I had my music and could ignore the noise.
At the Windsor Dunkin Donuts I had to text several people who were planning on meeting me later on. Jacob was going to meet me at Strauss Cabin and Kechter, and Crisann and Andy were meeting me at Harmony and Timberline, and Jen would find us and meet us somewhere between there and the finish. I took a half hour break, shed some extra layers of clothing, ate more than a donut, and got more drinks. I took off for the final leg of the triangle around 12:15.

As I ran north I wanted to connect with the county road that would allow me to avoid 392 again, but I wasn't sure which one it was. Fortunately I saw some people walking and I asked them, and got on the right road. I headed west toward Fort Collins past the dairy farms and ranches with a spectacular view of the Front Range, Longs Peak, Mummy Range, and Indian Peaks.

I was surprised at how much traffic was on the road going west. It used to be a lot quieter out there but there are so many people living in Windsor now, traffic is heavy. No one tried to run me off the road, fortunately. Then I had the narrow-to-no shoulder section of 1.5 miles going north to Kechter. That's the road that connects the Timnath Walmart and Costco to Highlands Ranch and the golf courses. Lots of traffic there, too.

After crossing I-25 again, Jacob was waiting at the top of the hill for me. My timing was perfect, I anticipated 1:45 pm and got there on the nose. We had a good conversation and he offered his house nearby in case I needed a bathroom, water, or anything, but I was doing fine and feeling good. I had some hot spots on my heels but other than that I felt fine. I wasn't getting enough salt because my fingers were all puffy, so I made a mental note to dump some S caps in a drink when I stopped on Timberline.

Going north on Timberline, Jacob ran with me until we met up with Andy and Crisann. We took off and stopped at a gas station so I could buy a cold drink and I got an ice sandwich. As if 4 donuts weren't enough sugar. Ice cream sandwiches are one of my favorite running foods, and this hit the spot.

We caught the Power Trail going north to Centennial, and Jen joined us about 2 miles from the finish. Jen has also been there for my past urban adventure birthday runs. We went west to Lemay and Swallow, then west on Swallow back to the Fort Collins Dunkin Donuts. It was 10 hours and 19 minutes including all the stops and breaks along the way, and 36 miles.

Crisann's husband Dave met us there and joined us for a celebratory donut, my fourth of the day, took our finish line picture, and then they gave me a ride home, which I was thankful for.

The girls were thrilled to see me. Dennis was working on a puppy fence in the back yard to protect our garden boxes from the wild diggers. I felt pretty good, but my neck, shoulders and low back are sore from carrying my pack all day. Legs feel fine today, just stiff, and a few tender spots on my feet that would have blistered had I been out any longer.

I am so glad I finally did this thing and got it behind me. Now I no longer have this hanging over my head. I can move on to other, non-donut-themed, urban adventures. Felix and I did notice that there is now a fifth Walmart, so perhaps my 55th birthday run will have another Walmart theme, but no guarantees. For now, I'm just glad to be able to stay upright and moving forward, and to have another birthday.

Happy donuts, everyone. Thanks to all my friends who joined me on foot and in spirit! Now I need to get busy losing this 20 pound weight I'm carrying around! No more donuts for me!

photo credits: Felix Wong

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lawyers, Guns and Money

That's the song that was in my head when I woke up this morning. For some weird reason. And then I realized it was the manifestation of all the insanity that's happening in Washington DC. If you don't know the lyrics, check this out:

Just thought I'd share that for fun! Could be the theme song for POTUS Number 45.

I haven't posted because life has simply been too busy, between trying to write a little for the book but having fifty gazillion distractions over the past few weeks. Now I am excited to get back into a routine.

I got on the scale and exceeded my previous highest weight ever, so now I can say I do have 20 pounds to lose and I have set a goal of the end of the year, I think two pounds a month is reasonable. I'm not going to restrict myself very much, just pay better attention to eating smaller portions, trying not to stress eat and drink, which I realized has been a problem for me since about November (hmm...)

Running-wise I have been fairly consistent getting the miles on my feet. I want to build up to where I feel comfortable with signing up for at least the 24 hour at Across the Years. I'd like to do the 48 hour but I'll have to see how this year unfolds. I'm thinking about the six-day race in a few years, maybe for my 55th birthday goal.

Speaking of birthdays, I'm having a Donut Triangle Run next weekend. It's about 53 km but probably a little more than that. I have decided that if the weather sucks, I'm not doing it. I have nothing to prove, and I don't feel like being miserable.

I held a workshop 2 weeks ago that went well, I might do some other ones occasionally on different topics. I have an art show/display coming up, I'll have my work at Elevation 5003 Distillery here in Fort Collins during the month of March.
The girls continue to grow. Velcro now has most of her adult teeth and Gypsy is starting to get hers. Gypsy still looks little to me but se has grown, a lot. She just looks small compared to Velcro. We've been hiking, and the weather's been so warm we've been dipping our toes in the Poudre River. The girls love the water.

Last weekend was the Human Powered Brewery Tour, which we attended with the girls. We only went to New Belgium and Odell, neither of us had the energy. The girls did well. Other than trying to steal our beer, they enjoyed seeing all the people and the other dogs. Gypsy barked a lot, she is learning to make her voice heard. We start obedience training next week. I can't wait.

I was talking with a friend the other day and we shared our coping mechanisms since the Trumpocalypse started. I think we are getting a little better handle on living with the uncertainty and insanity, though it's still stressful because every day you wake up not knowing what else he has in store for you.

I've been calling my pathetic excuse for a Senator Cory Gardner who is afraid to meet with the public. These buffoons are so scared now, they know they have pissed off their constituents and the ones who have held public meetings run away and escape through the back door. They make excuses and say things like there are paid protesters. I wish I could get paid for this!

They think they are entitled to their positions as elected officials but they need to remember they work for ALL of us, not just Republicans. I have been calling for nearly a month and only twice I have spoken to an actual staffer. I get tired of leaving voicemails, but I continue to do it.

I went to the Planned Parenthood rally in Old Town a couple of weeks ago and there was a great turnout. If Obama was so bad, why weren't people marching in the streets and calling their elected officials and demanding public accountability then? This has taken the lazy, self-interested politicians by surprise. They were so comfortable in their jobs and not having to deal with a crush of phone calls and angry protesters all the time.

I have a call with my mentor/publisher this morning and I'm really excited about my progress despite the distractions. I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine.

Oh, and did I mention? Spring is here. Crocuses are blooming, little green leaves are opening up on the bushes, and this morning it's raining. February at 5000 feet and 40N latitude. Just a little early.

Back to work. I want to post more, and that might happen now that I can focus on writing. See you again soon. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Running on Eggshells

Just 12 days into the #45 Presidency, every day has brought a new wave of dread, anxiety, disgust, and sadness.

I find it hard to focus on whatever I'm doing. It's an unsettled feeling, like the ground is moving underneath me, and I'm not sure when the other shoe will drop.

I'm trying to keep it together, not get enraged, and breathe. Some days are better than others in that regard. Yesterday was a particularly difficult day, and I went out hoping to get a run in, but I was tired. So I walked. Twelve plus miles, hoping the rhythm would clear my head.

It didn't.

I came home and tried to focus on preparing dinner, playing with the girls, and checked Facebook. Big mistake.

I use social media for a lot of socializing, and some work-related stuff. But I've lately allowed myself to be sucked into some discussions where there is a combination of intelligent discussion, ideas for taking action, and venting. And then there are the occasional people I haven't heard from in a while.

I try not to vent political stuff on Facebook but when it comes to nursing and issues around that, I do. It's a way I've been able tor each out to some of my fellow nurses who are still in the corporate world and living with fear for their jobs.

The other night an acquaintance of mine posted something about his frustration with the Trumpocracy and his anger with the people who are defending him and looking the other way as he issues one legal atrocity after another. The way he wrote the post hit home so well for me, that I read the few comments posted on there. One comment set me off. It was someone who first of all used very poor grammar and sentence structure, claimed to be a veteran, and was using personal attacks against the person who posted.

I lost it. I wrote back and told him I don't care if he's a veteran, that doesn't give him a special right to come back and attack citizens who disagree with him. I always resent when people use their veteran status to attack other people when justifying their political views. Didn't veterans defend this country so we can have free speech, freedom of religion, and all the other freedoms that now are at risk under the current escalating coup? People don't seem to be able to understand how to attack an idea without attacking the person.

The guy wrote back of course, attacking me, as I expected him to, but I didn't engage him any further. I am just so tired of the weak and irrational excuses people are making to justify their oppressive political stances.

It was a pathetic waste of my time and energy, but it did feel good, so maybe it was therapeutic.

Still, there are so many people in this country who support this regime who aren't seeing what's happening. And feel misunderstood, dismissed, disenfranchised, think that it will somehow help them. The Democratic party has failed miserably in their attempts to gain the people's trust. And the Republicans have no conscience, it seems, though just a few are speaking up. I can't believe that there aren't more Republicans who will fight this attack on our Constitution.

We need unity to fight this, and all the distractions and lies being thrown our way are just that. Distractions and lies meant to throw us off and take us away from what we really need to do, which is fight back with everything we've got. I've been writing my GOP senator, Cory Gardner. Fortunately the other Senator is good, and we've got a good Congressman who are fighting for the people.

But it remains, as a poster child for narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathy, Trump truly is unfit to be President of anything except his own personal business dealings, which I hope he returns to 100% so we can get on with the business of running a country in a humane and civilized way.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Of Philosophers and Kings...

Things are always bigger than they appear.

Life is one of those things. At one moment you might think you've got it figured out, contained in a finite space, and it spills over and gets messy. It lives on, taking on a meaning and life of its own, and you might never find out how it got out and where it went.

I was busy experiencing the pure joy that found me on Sunday as I ran twenty one-mile loops around Grandview Cemetery for my long run. I started early in the morning and had the silence of the place to myself, just a sea of headstones quietly covered with snow.

I enjoy the loops because it is a form of meditation, a spiritual practice of sorts, allowing me to clear my head and make room for clearer thoughts that come in. I think the ability to do this type of running, that many people find monotonous, is great for a creative person. It's refreshing mindlessness that leads to just the opposite, mindfulness.

So many ideas come to me on these loop runs, and I let the thoughts flow in and out, and they usually come back at a later time and I write them down. Many of them are just clearer or different perspectives on ideas, events, or experiences.

I've missed this. Maybe that six-day adventure is still ahead of me. I don't know yet.

It's always interesting to see what people leave on their headstones, any way they wished to be remembered, or that their families chose to engrave in the granite.

When I'm in the cemetery I think about the stories and people that I knew. I remember patients. After all these years in Fort Collins there are quite a few. Around the perimeter of the cemetery it's a one mile loop and I count as many as half a dozen former patients. If I venture into the inner roads of the cemetery, there are many more.

I remember the stories and the details come back, what happened, how things did or did not go well until their end.

I think about the content in my book. If more people would think about what life and quality of life means to them, before they get sick, then maybe we would spend less energy making a mess of things and ruining the quality of the time we are here.

I do know that there's a sense of peace in there, among the symbols of the lives that happened, and have now passed, that is a reminder of reality and mortality, and it's a beautiful reminder. We don't have to feel entitled to eighty or more years on this planet. We can go gracefully and accept less if we live each moment fully and true to ourselves, our values and those we love.

That's all.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New BlogYear Ten

I can hardly believe I am now going into my tenth year of writing this blog.

I started the New Year off at 3:20 am with the girls face fighting on my head. Fortunately I went back to sleep. I went over to the Runners Roost fun run, which was about a 2.4 mile 5K, which I ran at a fast pace, I was able to run sub 9 minute miles, something I don't do very often anymore. I could still talk, not easily, but I could have a conversation.

Last night we celebrated New Years in the Azores time zone, which put our celebration at 6 pm our time. Perfect, since we were in bed by 8 pm. I found myself missing Across the Years this year. It's been a while. I need to get back there eventually.

I hung out at the Roost for a while, socializing and telling people about my upcoming workshop, and then I came home. I wrapped up this week with a little over 40 miles of running. Awesome.

I stopped over at Warren Lake on my way home to look at the scenery. It is, after all, the first day of spring. I could hear the ice melting on the lake, that gurgling sound that reminds me of whales. I don't know if that's what whales sound like, but that's what I think of when I hear it.

A running friend came over with her daughter to meet the girls, and Dennis went down to see his mom. I got a little writing done, and now I am tired, ready for a nap. I don't think I'll be getting enough sleep for quite some time, until the girls can both sleep through the night.

I am looking forward to reviving the blog this year, I want to have more of a focus on health-related running issues, things that affect both women and men but of course I can speak much better for women's running experiences. I'll be adding more video content too. I want to do more running, of the suburban adventure-type, so there will be more stories about that. When I say suburban I mean, outside of the city of Fort Collins, which includes some awesome scenery and trails.

Since I'm writing my book this year, I'll probably drift into a few healthcare-related tangents and maybe even some good rants here and there.

And of course, the Stay-At-Home-Dog-Mom chronicles.

Happy New Year. I wish each of you the best of fun and health in 2017.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: The Year of The Donut

This year will go down in my mind as The Year of The Donut. It's a good way to put a sweeter spin on a year that rather sucked, in many ways, but also had a lot of good and great moments and was full of learning and experiences.

Death and History

In popular culture, of course, there was the fact that we lost many well-respected and loved celebrities in the entertainment business, David Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher, followed by Debbie Reynolds, among many others. I happened to like Prince, but David Bowie was an important icon in my life, I wrote about that in an earlier post.

It's a weird coincidence that I recently re-connected with my junior high friend on Facebook, the one with whom I went to the David Bowie concert in 1978 in Philadelphia.

Death has been nearby around here too, having said goodbye or in the process of saying goodbye to people who have been important in my life. Death is part of life, as I was telling a friend this morning on the run. We don't get to choose our time to exit this world, not most of us, anyway. But we can be happy when the person gets to choose comfort at the end of their life, because not everyone does. You can have a quality death as part of a quality life.

Donuts Saved Me

One of the things I struggled with this past year was getting back into a running routine, and I have to admit, if it were not for the Donut Friday runs, I wouldn't have gotten any momentum going. I also met new people or got to know several people better from the running community, and that would not have happened if I didn't start attending the Donut runs. Now I am being more consistent, although not running as often as I'd like, I am making progress.

The Dumpers

My friend Emma is training for her first ultra early in 2017 and I'm doing long runs with her. We had a couple of great runs at the bacon strip, I'll share some pics. We have done a 16 mile run and a 20 mile run in the past two weeks out at the Bacon Strip and got to see some interesting sights along the way. Namely, a TV, and a fridge.

The story behind the TV and fridge is that on our first long run, we found the TV that had been dumped on the roadside, it was screen down in the snow, and we turned it upright, there was dirt and grass stuck to the front of it.

We wondered how it got there, and as we ran that day, we fabricated elaborate stories about how it arrived at its dumping place. I guess you could say we found the remote.

Toward the end of our 16 miles that day, we were passed by a pickup truck hauling a fridge in the back of it. We joked about how they should dump the fridge next to the TV so it would be there for the Superbowl. Then all we'd need is some beer and a couch, and maybe a grill.

The next week we headed out there for a 20 miler. As we climbed the first hill, the TV was still there, with some fresh bullet holes! We laughed that it was still out there, no one had picked it up. As we proceeded on our run, we made a turn to do a small 4 mile loop before we went out for our big 10 mile loop.

When we made the turn at 2 miles, we were about the same distance into the road headed west, parallel to the road with the TV on it, and we saw a fridge lying at the roadside, in the snow. We went that way the previous week and there had been no fridge out there, so we're pretty certain that the people we saw driving with the fridge dumped it there, and were probably the same dumpers of the TV.

Trumpocalypse- The Gift That Keeps On Giving

OMG. I am freaking out daily on the Cabinet appointee recommendations coming out of Trump Tower, or from wherever he is making his edicts. I am trying not to think about it and just breathe for now. I am hoping this whole debacle sheds light on the mess that is Washington, and the mess that lies outside of Washington, namely the great masses of the uninformed, misinformed, and generally clueless.

I cannot go into a rant about that, too upsetting. I value the outdoors, the environment, peace, justice and equality and it's countering everything I value. If someone had some common sense, they would create a giant orange wind turbine, because we have a giant windbag about to run the country. Now that would be environmental stewardship.

The Reluctant Entrepreneur

Let me just say when it comes to the commonly accepted ways of doing things, I am not cut out for this business shit. I don't have the burning desire in the pit of my stomach to go balls out (okay, ovaries) and go after money. I am not motivated by the stuff. Especially when it takes me further away from who I am and I have to deal with people I'd rather not deal with, namely, people who are motivated by greed and/or function in that world that expects 24/7 focus on business and money.

It's not that I don't want to make money, I really do want to, but it is not the reason that drives me in what I love to do, and that conflicts with how the world of business operates. I like to do things at my pace, when it appeals to me, and what appeals to me, otherwise, I'm not happy. And I certainly have re-discovered that quality in myself, confirmed it, again. The lessons will be repeated until they are learned.

The online program for Cancer Harbors did not go as planned. And that's fine, you have to try things and they don't always work. I did learn a lot though, from the many people I've talked with and the clients I have. As a result I am redirecting my energies around my project, Cancer Harbors, into the publication of a book this coming year. It's going to be aimed not just at people with cancer, but everyone who has any dealing with cancer and healthcare. Namely, all of us.

Now THAT's something I can get excited about.

Returning to My Creative Roots

I am going to go back to where I feel happiest and most comfortable, which is, where I can write, paint, and create as the ideas come to me. That is where I belong. If you wipe clean the messy slate of all of the "career"-type pursuits: education, business, nursing, and look underneath, dig a little into the dirt and look at my roots, they harbor unlimited creative energy.

I've learned a lot, and I have a great collection of knowledge and skills to share if I allow myself to be creative and unencumbered by day-to-day bullshit that being in the business world dumps on top of you. Getting past the old wounds and traumas and moving forward. I see things differently, I do things differently, and I'm not going to make any more attempts to "fit" anywhere.

I just am. Alene. Gone Bad.

Allowing that energy to come back into my life and relieving myself of the burden of feeling tied to a business model has allowed some great opportunities to come along: a paid writing gig, an opportunity to get my artwork out there again, and putting a workshop together for runners, women runners, that a couple of friends suggested was needed. I will have a separate blogpost about that within the next week, and I'll post a link to allow people to sign up in the right-hand column of the blog. It's in Fort Collins, so you have to be local, or willing to travel to the Fort for it. If it goes well, I'll do more.

And running, dammit.

And did I mention running? I want to get back to doing long runs again. I miss them. Now that I got my ipod to work again, I'm loving the tunes, miles, and fresh air.

Despite Struggle, Gratitude

I am so fortunate to have experienced some great things this past year, my dad's improvement with his cancer, that is in remission now. He does have some other health problems, but he is doing well in terms of being able to stay active and busy and enjoying life. I am also thankful for our little family that has grown over the past two months with Velcro, and Gypsy, the newest member of The Buffalo Family.

I am healthy enough to be increasing the amount of running I'm doing, and have been able to take the time to do the necessary soul-searching to get myself back on track again with what I do with my energy when I'm not running.

Being a Stay-At-Home-Dogmom is pretty damn great.

And I'm thankful for donuts. Even though I can't eat them anymore because I'm trying to bring my cholesterol down again. Last time I quit eating wheat I dropped my cholesterol by 65 points and now it's creeping back up again, probably because I've been indulging in various wheat-containing foods too often. Menopause has a way of messing with every part of your body. Things you would never even imagine are related to hormones are affected. I just take one thing at a time. personal mission statement over the coming year as I write my book and move forward with reclaiming my enjoyment of life again will be something along the lines of fostering creativity, respect, authenticity and empathy and showing people the value of those qualities. Which are sorely missing from many things...

Let's see what 2017 has in store for us. I'm not sure I want to know, but some things like the earth's rotation are unavoidable.

And donuts are round too, sort of like the earth's path around the sun. Donuts revolve around the donut hole, like the earth revolves around the sun.

Even my puppy understands that, along with other concepts in physics, like gravity. She's not an elitist, she just values science and facts more than faith.

Someone needs to tell a certain orange windbag to share these small facts with his Cabinet. They might be small details, but they should prove helpful in 2017.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Longevity: Body, Mind & Spirit in Ultrarunning

This morning I had a conversation with another woman ultrarunner and she asked me the question, "What do you think is your biggest accomplishment, what are most proud of in your running career?"

I would have to say my longevity (33 years of running and still going) and how I've been able to run well, and be satisfied with so many of my performances and enjoy them, all these years, and have set lifetime PRs in every decade: my 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. While I am taking an extended break right now and my motivation isn't really there, I still love it and enjoy it and look forward to future runs.

We talked about many things in our conversation, about the sport of ultrarunning and what drives people to do extreme endurance events, and what happens to them, physically, mentally, and spiritually after doing this for so long. Many of the top performers only last for a few short years until their bodies and/or minds give out.

If you're like most people, falling into the middle of the pack to back of the pack runners, you might be aspiring to run longer or faster, accomplish some goal, stay fit, have a social life around running, or prove something to yourself. Running ultraendurance events is a popular activity, much more than it used to be. However, it comes with a price, that can get awfully steep.

I'm not just talking about the cost or entry fees, gear, and travel. I'm talking about the personal cost: the physical, mental, spiritual costs of this sport.

We've seen a lot of people who struggle with addiction and substance use, who have turned to running, people with eating disorders, unresolved psychological injuries, and some people who have exhibitionistic or narcissistic tendencies, where social media is used as a tool.

This is not to point fingers or assign blame. None of us are perfect, and none of us make it through this life unscathed, especially psychologically. I think if most of us took the time to think about it, we could find elements of these behaviors to be more common than not.

The cost of "doing ultras" is much more than people dare to think about or delve into very deeply.

We talked about my strategy for avoiding burnout, and my longtime practice of running a lot of ultras for a few years, followed by time away from hard training. Also, about how I have kept my weight at a higher level than most ultrarunners, not completely by choice, and only very rarely depleted myself of calories.

The only time I have actually done any kind of carb restriction or special "diet" that was high protein and moderate fat, with low carbs, resulted in a dramatic and quick weight loss, quick results in running, but were short-term and resulted in a vitamin deficiency and poor performance soon thereafter.

People are looking for the holy grail, they are looking for ways to set themselves apart from the crowd, they are looking for some sort of satisfaction that is missing from their everyday lives. They think if they follow a strict training regimen, a strict diet, or use the right supplements, equipment, shoes, or coach, that they will reach that nirvana in their simple goals, but it does little to complete their life. It actually takes more away from their lives.

I wrote my running philosophy here: eight years ago. I've done a lot of things in my life, not just in running, in those eight years. I've been meaning to update it, but lately I've been busy with other things. I'm planning to do it, and in this current post, is some of what I'd say.

I have never been able to just focus on running. It throws my other interests off balance, and I miss being a whole person.

I also see what this type of intense focus in mind, body and spirit, on running to the exclusion of most other things, does to many people's mindsets. They feel somehow immune to the realities of being mortal, human, fragile, subject to fate and mishaps and everyday life experiences.

We are so shallow in our culture: we are always looking outside ourselves to feel complete, and we think that when we do things that set us apart, it somehow earns us points, for superiority. We can be as smug as we want to about it, throw the lingo around, or dress according to our own little subculture of activity. However, the forces of nature demand that we come back to equilibrium and the reality is that we are all connected. One person using more resources will eventually affect someone else. And because we engage in certain activities does not make us immune, immortal, or superior.

The spiritual shallowness of feeling apart, feeling disconnected, is hurting us, no matter how much we think running is going to heal us. We ARE all connected. Everything is.

One example, which I've written about before, is when someone who has been living what they believe to be a healthy lifestyle- eating "right", exercising, and doing what they think will protect them from health problems, suddenly is diagnosed with cancer or some other serious or chronic illness. They say, I don't understand, I did this, this, and did I end up with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, fill in the blank.

All that has happened is life itself. Full of unexpected twists, randomness, heredity, or some other vulnerability due to habit, exposure, behavior, or who knows what. It's called being mortal, a human being.

Guess what? There is no holy grail. It's not kale, apple cider vinegar, or juicing, yoga, sensory deprivation, or mindfulness; as delicious or appealing as any of those things might seem to be on their own.

My two cents, advice, recommendation, or just babble, how ever you want to look at it, is this: find the parts of yourself that make you whole. No one is unidimensional. Expand your efforts into those other parts of yourself. There's more to life than obsessing about something as shallow as your own athletic performance, vanity, physical health or nutritional practice. If it takes time away from your training, that's even better.

Ask yourself what gives your life richness, instead of building accomplishments. It's not about building a resume in your t-shirt, hat, or plastic bracelet collection to wear in public.

Ask yourself who you are, rather than what you do or have.

We can all do better and live longer with less. And it might just help someone else who needs more.