Scatter my ashes here...

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

Monday, December 29, 2008


Sit. This is my job for now. Tomorrow is the first day of my race. All I did was sit on my butt and eat today, and drink lots of water. It's hard to do this with my already expanded body, but I have to pack the calories in now for tomorrow, and tomorrow for Wednesday. I did go out to the track this morning and take some pictures. I need to stay off my feet and lie down. I have to think like a dog.




Drink more.


It's driving me crazy!

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I finally arrived at Nardini Manor at 1 pm today. I parked in the gravel lot and walked onto the track to see what the changes looked like. Looks like a different world.

The whole southern end of the course is different, there's a courtyard where the thick oleanders used to be, and the curves in the track are different, there's a heated timing booth, the place where we turn around on the track is different, and at least a dozen other subtle changes. It looks great and as usual Rodger and Paul and everyone have outdone themselves. The new course is re-certified thanks to Frank's hard work.

After a lap to check it out, I picked up my race packet, set up my tent, and headed out to check out the changes and see who else was there. Nattu showed up just as I had the tent pulled out, he helped me set it up and then we went around talking to people.
My tent, all by itself. By tomorrow, the area will be packed with tents, a tent city inside a tent.

I ran into Andy, Ron, and Chris as I was walking out of the big tent.

Ron is one of the growing club of septugenarians who run Across the Years year after year.

I talked with Chris for a long time, he is doing so well. He sounds happy, he's doing all sorts of alternative oncology therapies, both for himself and for others. He looks great and he's doing everything he loves to do, and taking charge of his own well-being.

Chris O'Loughlin, race RN, my friend and the best listener ever! He helped me through nursing school with his words of wisdom and humor, and to this day, encourages me to keep on writing and sharing my insights on nursing, and to pursue all my creative endeavors.

The view of the track facing south.
The track facing east.
The new two-person timing booth with a heater for a room about fifty times bigger.

Lynn flew in from Ohio, where he moved last year from Phoenix. Here he is in front of his ginormous tent. I wonder how much the airlines charged you to bring that thing?

Looking toward the mountains that frame the southern end of the valley. At first glance it might look like we're in a prison camp, but after a few hours you don't even notice the chain link fence.

Some of the race goodies in our bags. North Face Borealis jacket, North Face shirt, Dirty Girl gaiters, Drymax socks and more...

Lynn and Don in front of the timing booth.

Zombie Gillian and Lynn share a hug. Zombie Don is on the right.

Debra and Nattu talk about Debra's 103 hour walk with Ulli this fall. Last year Debra taught me how to run a successful 48 hour race, lets hope I can remember all of it this year.

While we were at the track today, we saw a beautiful young tricolor Australian Shepherd prancing around, playing with the kids, made me think of my girls. Nattu and I watched and laughed at the dog leading the kid around the tent, and then ducking inside the tent while the kid continued circling around a couple of times, still thinking he was chasing the dog. The kid couldn't figure out where the dog was until the dog poked it's head out of the tent. Those dogs are so smart.

It was so nice to see everyone. Lots of new Badwater folks will be here this year along with the regulars.

On the way back to the room I stopped by a Walgreens and got a few of my pictures put on a CD so I could at least share a few. Instant gratification, I know...but what else am I going to do while resting and sitting on my butt until the race starts?

Here are some road shots from my trip down...

The light...

More light...

Where I stopped for gas, I had to stop and take pictures.

The next morning, between Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

On the way to Arizona, on I-40 near Grants.

Alene Gone Bad, 2008 version.

Snow on the Mazatzals, beautiful!

My old stomping grounds, the Superstitions and Weaver's Needle, the birthplace of Bitchen Swill.

The bougainvilleas under the overpasses of the 202 and 101 freeways, that I got soooo excited about!

Driving by Fountain Hills, where we used to live, the McDowell Mountains on the right, with Thompson Peak in the middle. I used to run to the top of that every week.

Being here, it's hard to believe it's been a whole year since the last Across the Years. It feels like we leave a part of ourselves here all the time. It's like a family, and it's like a home. No one can ever understand unless they've been involved in this event, most of the volunteers and race staff feel the same way as the runners do. It's like you're missing a piece of yourself if you don't come back each year.

Time for more rest. Tomorrow is the day before my race starts.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Cure

I'm blogging from an undisclosed location, 925 miles from Fort Collins, after 14 hours of driving over two days.

The past two days have been a photographer's dream, this drive was one of the most colorful and scenic winter road trips I have ever taken. The first day was through southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the afternoon light and today was through western New Mexico and Arizona with mostly morning light.

Because of where Phoenix sits relative to the time zone boundaries, we get dark mornings but longer afternoons here. The sun sets around 5 pm in Ft. Collins these days and here in west Phoenix, about 120 miles east of California, the sun sets around 6 pm.

I took pictures the whole way of course, but I did something really dumb. I took my beater laptop with me on the road, but forgot to install the software to read the digital photos off my camera and card reader before I left. So I can't include the trip shots until after I get home in January.

The first night I stayed in an overpriced, dingy hotel room in Santa Fe. Last year Steph and I stayed in the same place and had a nice room and I remembered it, so I planned on staying there again. This year I booked the room just for me and I got a queen bed, what I didn't realize was that made a difference in the overall quality of the room.

I woke up early this morning and decided I didn't want to hang out in Santa Fe, I wanted to hit the road early and get settled for a few days in Phoenix so I can relax before the race. Now I'm in my bunker in my undisclosed location, which is really the Best Western in Goodyear, AZ. Outside my window it looks something like this:

The light over the Jemez and the Sandias this morning was pink and lavender over pinon-dotted hills, makes me want to paint again! I wanted to stop every 5 feet and take pictures but I never would have made it to Phoenix today.

Once I got into Arizona I had to stop for my obligatory photo op at the Goodwater sign. I set the timer on my camera and took the picture for Steph, while the semis whipped up the gravel and wind as they flew by.

I was amazed at the amount of snow on the rim between Heber and Payson, it had to be at least 4 feet. Where the roads had been plowed it was piled up to the bottom of the stop signs, all you could see were the red signs with no posts.

The desert was green after all the moisture. When I arrived in Phoenix I saw the bougainvilleas on the freeway and got excited about the colors. There's something about winter in Colorado, we get starved for color. Color deprivation. It makes us do crazy things when we see green or pink, after not seeing anything but gray and white for months.

As soon as I got into my room here, I called Dennis and the first thing out of my mouth was about the bougainvilleas.

A winter trip to the desert is the cure for color deprivation and whatever ails me...

I stopped to get some green corn tamales and checked into my room and here I am, blogging, about to take a long, hot shower and settle in for a long sleep. Tomorrow I'll go over to Nardini Manor and set up what I can, get my last supplies, organize my gear, and make plans for race morning. Once I do that, my job is to eat, drink, and rest until the race starts.

Sounds like a cure to me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Across the Years

I woke up at my usual time this morning, 5:04 am, which coincided with the exact moment of solstice. It was 6 degrees outside. About an hour later I went out in the yard and saw the moon in the trees, and I saw the sun rising and I always think of winter solstice as the beginning of spring, not the beginning of winter.

I tell Dennis every year that January 1st is the first day of spring. He always nods his head and rolls his eyes. But it is!

I promised I'd post a link to send messages to me on the track, all you have to do is click on the link to the Across the Years website, and look for a link that says something like "send greetings" or "send a message to a runner". My runner ID is #133 and I'm in the 48 hour race that starts December 30th.

Across the Years is the perfect way to end one year and transition into spring of the new year. Two days of forward motion under the wide open desert sky in the company of friends, with nothing to worry about, nothing to occupy your mind except moving forward in the moment. What could be better than that?

Here's an account of my Across the Years experience last year.

I ran at Riverbend Ponds again today. The temperature was 8 degrees but it wasn't as windy as yesterday.

I talked to Steph on the phone last night. She's wishing she could go this year. I'll miss her. She promised to send me lots of messages. I need all the help I can get this year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Soup for a Cold Day

Today I went to Riverbend Ponds for an hour run. I love the cold wind. I thought about running at Nardini Manor and how the air will feel so different in Arizona, near sea level. It might rain, but it won't be 19 degrees with 30 mph gusts like it was today.
I launched a new blog today, something I've been meaning to do for a while, it will be one of my projects for the coming year. This one is a food blog, it will have my favorite recipes.

Back in the days when I was in high school and used to go backpacking on the weekends, we referred to the dehydrated and freeze-dried sacks of food we used to reconstitute with water over a gas stove as "bitchen swill". It's what you eat when you're really, really hungry, like after carrying a 40 pound pack all day in the desert.
Go visit Bitchen Swill and tell me what you think. So far there's just one recipe, but I'll have more recipes posted in January.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Lights Run & Potluck

Last night was the annual Fort Collins Running Club Holiday Lights Run & Potluck, hosted by Allison & Art Horn, and their two cats. We all show up around 6 pm, go on a short run through the neighborhoods of central Fort Collins and over to the lights display on the Woodward Governor campus, and then back to Allison & Art's place for the potluck. Every year there are samplings of all sorts of creative, delicious food and this year I gave a slide show on my run at Badwater.
This year I made Tom Kha Gai, chicken coconut soup, in the crockpot. The girls were very upset when Dennis & I took the crockpot out the door instead of sitting down at the table to eat. Probably more upset that we were taking the food to the kitties' house!

Here's the recipe for the soup, it's adapted from a Sunset Magazine recipe, December 2008.

Tom Kha Gai (Thai Chicken Coconut Soup)

1 1/2 pounds of cooked chicken, diced into small cubes
1 diced onion
1 pound of sliced mushrooms
12 slices of fresh ginger (approx. quarter-sized thickness)
2 T. canola oil
1 can of regular coconut milk
1 can of lite coconut milk
1 1/2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth
1 can of bamboo shoots, drained
juice of 2-3 large limes
3 T. fish sauce
2 T. Thai chili paste
1 T. sugar
2 T. chopped lemongrass
fresh basil leaves
fresh cilantro leaves

Saute ginger, onion & mushrooms in a small amt. of canola oil until onions are soft and begin to caramelize. Add mixture to 5 qt. crockpot along with broth, coconut milk, cooked chicken, and bamboo shoots. Stir well until coconut milk dissolves. Add fish sauce, chili paste, sugar, lemongrass, and lime juice. Cook in crockpot on medium heat for 4-6 hours. Add chopped basil and cilantro to taste before serving. Makes about 4 quarts.

You can also cook this in a regular pot on the stove and it takes less time, bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Morgan was going to lead the group on the run.

Dennis walks outside for the group picture, while Roger and Pam get ready to "light up".

Roger and Pam were the "best dressed".

We ran through the neighborhoods before crossing at Drake & Lemay to get to Woodward Governor.

When we arrived at Woodward we looked for the best place for our group picture under the lights display.

Morgan got tired of being the front runner.

Back at Art & Allison's, everyone made multiple trips around the table to try everything.

Paul, President of the Running Club, and Allison.
Morgan, Mary, Tom & Ginger.
Jonathan talks with Tom & Ginger.
Doug, Jance, Mary, Jen & Alene.

I gave my presentation on Badwater. It was fun to share the story and reflect back on it, something I haven't done much of since last summer.
Ron & Peggy watching the slide show.
Roger, Jance & Allison in the kitchen.
Roger, Doug, Morgan and Dennis before leaving for the run. Pam is on the right getting decked out in lights.
Ping and Art during the presentation.

Felix, Nick and Dana couldn't attend this year, I missed them. Felix was in California and Nick and Dana are in the U.K. We'll see everyone at the T & H series starting in January! I won't be at the January T & H as I'll be coming back from Arizona after my Across the Years 48 Hour Run. I'll be sending an e-mail out to the club and to the club website on where to send messages during Across the Years. This year I'm going to need all the motivation I can get!

Happy Holidays everyone!