Scatter my ashes here...

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Brain Fog

Life is getting back to normal. I'm back at work, doing projects and trying to focus on what I need to do next in my life. When I'm not at work, I take the girls for walks, I run normal distances or ride my bike, and I have time to do other things. Dennis and I have had some time together and we'll do more things this fall. I have been getting caught up on a list of tasks and projects around the house, my "A.B." list, that I've neglected for months.

It's still August and I said I wouldn't start seriously training for anything until September, which is next week. But I can't see getting too serious about anything yet, I'm having two issues that need to be resolved first. One is my thyroid, which has decided to become an issue again. When I suddenly change the demands on my body like I did when going from training as a full-time job to suddenly tapering, running the race, and then to nothing, my thyroid medication needs to be adjusted, but it takes a while before my thyroid decides what it wants to do about it.

I have been feeling tired the past few weeks. It came on suddenly. I have physical energy but I feel exhausted. It's hard to explain. My body can keep going but mentally I'm not there. It's called "brain fog". I've also been irritable lately. Afternoons are especially hard, all I want to do is sleep. But when I have the opportunity to take an afternoon nap, I can't fall asleep or I do sleep for a short time but I wake up easily and it's not very restful.

Last week I called in sick to work one day, I felt like I could not do another day. I used the opportunity to go get my thyroid checked. I've been wanting to since I got back from Badwater but I felt fine until a couple of weeks ago. I am edging toward hyperthyroid again. Given how I'm feeling, it makes sense. It's not as bad as it was a year ago, but it's headed that way so I have already cut my medication dosage back and will be re-checking in about 3 months. Until things start to balance out, I'm going to be hurting. Unfortunately 12 hour shifts don't stop when you're needing a nap every day at 2:00. I'll have to try not to bite anyone's head off.

Katy and I, along with several other ultrarunners over the past 5 years, have had long discussions about how to manage training for ultras when you have thyroid disease. Hashimoto's thyroiditis can be frustrating because it seems like your thyroid has a mind of it's own. I have learned to appreciate it and I don't want to rip it out of my neck like I thought I did when this all started, before I got diagnosed and treated.

I'm not going to let it stop me from training and competing in the sport I enjoy so much. But I do have to listen to my body, and now it is telling me I need to bring things back into balance. I've had to learn to be at peace with it and go with the ups and downs. I've also learned to pay attention and if things are not going right, I need to not force it, and I need to stop and pay attention to why it's happening.

Chris Kostman sent out his Adventure Corps newsletter along with some emails to Badwater participants. What I liked best was the Chinese proverb quote: "Better to light a candle than curse the darkness."

And the other issue is my left hamstring. I've been stretching, riding the bike and being careful about running, and I should try swimming but I haven't been to 24 hour fitness in almost 2 months. I have to figure out if it's going to be worth it to keep my membership, if I can get motivated to go over and swim, or do something. I hate to go somewhere to work out. I like it when I can go out my door and not waste time driving somewhere first. I'd rather use that time to be outside and moving. I might need to do something different if the hamstring doesn't respond soon.

I was running consistently but last week my hamstring got sore so I had to rest it. Today I ran an hour, feeling dead on my feet, but the hamstring was fine. I'll see how it feels tomorrow, when I go back to work for 4 out of the next 5 days. I am trying to run on at least one work day per week. On my days off I have been riding my bike again when I have the energy. I took last week off until Friday because I was feeling so wiped out.

Lately I rode to Berthoud a couple of times, going the long way through Loveland. I did a ride of 46 miles to the north end of Berthoud, and 56 miles yesterday. This time I was on county roads near Carter Lake. I could see the Flatirons west of Boulder. It's a scenic ride and it's going to get better as we get into fall, with all the colors.

We went to the cabin last weekend just for Saturday night and took the Buffaloes for a hike. The trees are starting to change colors up Tarryall Creek and it's so late in the season we missed the wildflowers, mushrooms, strawberries and raspberries. We did see a few mushrooms. All we did was that two hour hike and that was all I could handle, I was ready for a nap.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Today I spoke to the management group at the Fort Collins Coloradoan, our local paper. I talked about my experience at Badwater and tied together the lessons I learned and how the crew worked together to make it a successful run, applying these lessons to the business world. It was fun. I can talk forever about running.

It's fun to answer questions about the run and reflect on what I learned. The publisher asked me what surprised me the most. I answered that it was how much pain I found I was able to withstand. Every time I talk about the race and think about it, something new occurs to me. It hasn't faded yet. I don't think about it constantly like I used to, but every few days I am reminded of something and I'm able to slip back into that dream world and lose myself in Death Valley again.

I'm back to running again. I'm up to running an hour at a time, most days. I've been waking up early before work and doing my runs, but it's getting to the point now where my run is long enough that I have to get up too early. It's hard to wake up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning, go running, and then work a 12 hour day that doesn't end until 7:30 pm.

I have been enjoying my early morning runs though. It's not as light in the mornings now and I've been enjoying the feel of night running again. That's something to look forward to as the days continue to get shorter.

I discovered a new place to run. Right now there are too many bugs to enjoy it most days unless there's a breeze, but once the cool weather hits this fall I am going to spend more time out there. It's dirt, gravel and asphalt paths and it makes some nice loops, perfect training for Across the Years.

Last week one morning I was at work, before getting report on my patient assignment for the day, and one of the employees from Facilities at the hospital came up to ICU and asked if he could give me a hug to thank me for doing my run for the Cancer Care Fund. He told me that he just had his PET scan and is cancer free. It completely took me by surprise, and he was so nice. It made me cry.

Between doing the run and getting so caught up in everything related to preparation for it, and then coming back and jumping into my usual routine, I haven't had much of a chance to think about the fundraising and charitable aspect of running Badwater. This was a reminder of how important the work of the Foundation and all the efforts to support initiatives like the Cancer Center and the Cancer Care Fund and research are to the real people, the individuals whose lives are directly impacted by cancer.

I have noticed that my body isn't quite ready to crank up the intensity of my workouts yet. I learned this painfully a couple of weeks ago. I rode to Flatiron Reservoir and I stopped at the top of a hill to look at my map. I forgot to take my feet out my cleats. I think I was tired. I tipped over and crashed on my left side, fortunately I wasn't going fast and there was no traffic. I got this nice chainring tattoo to show for it. I'm going to have to wait to increase my running miles and time on the bike, I can tell I'm not ready yet.

As far as my recovery goes, my feet are doing well. They are still peeling but I found that I needed new shoes at work. My feet were getting sore. It's funny how I think nothing of changing running shoes every few weeks but when it comes to work shoes, I was wearing the same pair that I got when I started nearly 2 years ago!

I've been tired and it seems like no matter how many days off work I have, I'm never recovered enough by the time I go back. It's been busy lately and it finally caught up with me this week. I had to take a day just to sleep and rest and do nothing. I did go and get some labs drawn including my thyroid, since I have a doctor's appointment next week, but other than that I couldn't motivate myself to do anything but walk the dogs. Fortunately I have 5 days off coming up after tomorrow. I need to go to the cabin before summer is over. Maybe this weekend.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Looking Ahead

I just checked the Across the Years website and I'm in for the 48 hour race, along with more than a half dozen other Badwater runners I know, including Lisa Bliss, Phil Rosenstein, Gillian Robinson, and a few new ATY faces who have Badwater ties.

Looks like Debra Richmeier is coming back too, and Tracy Thomas is in the 48 hour this time. The women's 48 hour should be very competitive and VERY fun. I can't wait! Looks like we will have a great time out there this New Years.

I started running slightly longer this week. I managed to work up to 30 minutes most days this past week, including my work days. My feet didn't hurt by the end of the day even with running before work. I got some good bike rides in, including a 50 mile ride one morning to Flatiron Reservoir past Loveland.

My feet are still shedding like a snake but they feel better. The itching has stopped and I am using a ton of lotion on them to try to soften them up.

Speaking of feet, the Drymax socks are working great too. I've been wearing them everywhere, running, biking, to work, around the yard. I use the walking, tennis and golf socks for work, and my feet stay more comfortable later in my shift in all of them. Standing on my feet all day and wearing cotton socks isn't the best thing. The Drymax socks are thicker and give my feet a softer surface to stand on and they really do stay dry after 13 hours.

I like the sport socks and the lightweight mesh running socks in my bike cleats, they are thinner and give my cramped feet more room, and keep my scrunched up toes dry.

So far I have tried the regular running socks and the lightweight ones and I like both of those socks. I really notice a difference in how dry my feet stay in the regular running socks. They are thicker socks and I usually don't like thick socks because of the size difference in my two feet. The thick Drymax socks stay dry and don't cause a problem wth friction or seams. So far I haven't tried the trail running socks, the hot weather running socks, or the maximum protection socks, but I will be doing all of those soon, as I get into my fall training runs.

I have been riding the roads and looking up at the foothills, wishing I could be running the trails along Devil's Backbone and Coyote Ridge. I will be, soon enough. I am going to sign up for the 24 hours of Boulder and use that as my big training run before Across the Years.

This past week I was exhausted, but it was probably because I did a night shift last Sunday and it didn't feel like a normal night shift. I was dead on my feet by 2:30 am and never got a second wind. Then trying to sleep all day Monday the girls kept waking me up barking at the birds who decided to build a nest in our gutter, the baby birds were starting to fly and driving the girls crazy.

Then Tuesday I did my civic duty, remember that jury summons I got before Badwater that I postponed, well I had to go to the courthouse that day and it took them all day long to choose the jury for a criminal trial that was supposed to last 8 days. Fortunately I didn't get picked, but it was late afternoon before I got home and I missed my nap time. I've been sleep deprived all week. Then work has been busy busy busy, and my last two shifts this week I was running all day long, nonstop without time for lunch and not getting out on time either. I was ready to drop when I got home at 8 pm on Friday.

This weekend Dennis and I had plans to go to the cabin but we were both exhausted, so we stayed home and did a little yard work and a lot of relaxing. I haven't been up in the mountains all summer.
We will try to go in the next few weeks and run the trails between Como and Breckenridge. This is the best time of year, in the early fall. Time to hit the trails!

Friday, August 1, 2008

No Small Feat

In the weeks since I've been back from Badwater I've heard from so many people congratulating me on my finish. I appreciate all the kind words, support and enthusiasm coming from people in the community, the PVH system, and the runners and ultrarunners both locally and out of town.

I've decided to extend my fundraising for the Cancer Care Fund to my future races, like Across the Years and other ultras I'll be doing in the future. The people at the Foundation have been so fantastic to work with. My support for this program doesn't end with Badwater. I hope everyone reading this will consider donating to the PVHS Foundation Cancer Care Fund, the information is on the main blog page to the right. Even a small amount makes a difference for someone in need.

I've been asked to speak to two different groups about my Badwater experience. Each talk is focused on different aspects of the event but have in common self-discipline, teamwork, goal setting, staying focused on the end result, and how it applies to the business world or the world outside of running. I never thought I'd be doing motivational speaking but I think it's easy to talk about something you have so much passion for.

I went back to work this week. It wasn't bad being on my feet the first two days but my feet ached on my last day of work.

I'm back to walking the Buffaloes every day, we're up to 2 miles. Went out for my first run yesterday, five minutes. My feet are still peeling, along with the skin around my ankles from the asphalt burns. My feet are delaminating! Here's a progression of how they look, from last week to this week:

The generous people of Drymax sent me an assortment of socks this week and I'm going to wear them and give them feedback. Here are just a few.

I already wore the sport socks riding my bike, and the running crew socks on my walks and short runs. I have been riding 20 to 35 miles a day this week and those sport socks did keep my feet dry inside my cleats. It's been hot in Fort Collins this week, temperatures around 100 degrees. Everyone is complaining, but I'm more comfortable outside than in the house.

I discovered the bike path in Loveland the other day, which added another 10 miles to my ride. After two hours on the bike my feet were screaming in my cleats. I had to stop and loosen my laces and let my feet out of the box for a while to stretch my toes before I could ride all the way home. My left foot is wider than my right one and always gives me more problems.

As I increase my mileage over the next few weeks, I'll be trying the Drymax trail running, hot weather running, and at least a half dozen other varieties of socks. I plan to wear them at work too, since I'm on my feet running around for twelve plus hours.

I sent my entry into Across the Years for the 48 hour run. If I get a spot in the race, that will be my next big race. They select runners in a lottery since there's so much demand for running the race. It's on a 500 meter track at a small private facility so they can't have open entry.

I can't wait to get back to trail running. I'm thinking about signing up for something around 100 miles this fall. Probably 24 Hours of Boulder. Heartland 100 is already closed, and the other ultras are getting too late in the season, I want some good training time before Across the Years at the end of December.

Hopefully this year the weather will be better at 24 Hours of Boulder. Last year was nasty, running by the light of my headlamp in a garbage bag at 2 in the morning in driving sleet with the wind whipping my face coming off the reservoir, not my idea of a good time. Personally I'd prefer 130 degrees with blazing sunshine anyday.

It's only been two weeks since I finished Badwater but I still have my Death Valley National Park permit on my windshield. I can't let go of it yet. I come home on my days off and sit downstairs where it's quiet and cool, and close my eyes and go back to the race. I have a feeling it's going to be hard to NOT do it next year.

I feel so slow and sluggish on my feet. I have to learn how to run again. This year I trained to finish Badwater, and nothing else. I spent so much time moving slowly that I have to retrain myself to move at a decent pace. By New Years I should be able to work some real running into my schedule!

Between getting back into training, wrapping up some work-related goals this year, public speaking, and sock-testing, it's no small feat!