What an incredible year! Starting off with my run at ATY last year, training for, planning, and pulling off Badwater with my crew, finishing with a buckle, and the fundraiser for the Cancer Care Fund.
I'm so thankful for the love and support of Dennis and the Buffaloes. I'm thankful for all the people I met this year, Barb and Nikki at the Foundation, Miles at the Coloradoan, and everyone new and old in the Fort Collins Running Club, such a warm, fun, genuinely nice group of people.
Steph, Nick, Ken, Katy, and Nathan. How can I ever thank you enough? And I am thankful for all of my running and non-running friends, and my family, here and all over Colorado, Arizona, and scattered throughout the world, many of whom I will see at Nardini Manor in Arizona in just a few days.
After last night's relatively warm holiday lights run, we woke up to this beautiful frost on everything this morning. After a slow wake-up, I went out to get new tires for my RAV 4. Eek! I haven't bought tires in several years, and never for a 4 wheel drive. Sticker shock. But while I was getting my tires put on, I went for a fast walk by Fossil Creek. It was cold but the fog was clearing and it got sunny. It felt great to walk and I developed a new walk/run strategy for ATY. I can't wait to try it!
The weather has been warmer, I know that because there were snakes in the snow again this morning.
There were new things I learned this year, and things I had to learn again. It is true that the lessons will be repeated until they are learned. Here's a short list:
The length of the portapotty lines at a race tends to be inversely related to the average age of the runners participating. Plan accordingly.
Keep on moving forward toward your goal, find ways to distract yourself from the pain and focus forward even in the face of setbacks. There are times when you have to become one with the pain, accept it, and then you can work through it.
Ups and downs in an ultra are just like life. I already knew this before this year. There is usually a reason (low blood sugar, need for a break), and it will pass and things will get better.
Stay warm, eat a lot of quality food, stay hydrated, and take care of your feet.
Watch for scorpions, when you least expect them, even when you're not hallucinating.
Never be greedy, pace yourself, don't try to do too much too early, big dividends wait at the end if you run smart, speed equals greed early in a multiday race.
Traffic jams are excellent opportunities for heat training.
Have a backup for everything. Food, drinks, supplies, gear, everything.
I have a weakness for men who look great in kilts.
Interesting note. I ran Badwater at the peak of gas prices. Gas now costs only 40% of what it did this summer.
Looking forward, in the coming year I want to do my first century ride (or longer) on my bike. My previous longest ride was 91 miles on my mountain bike. Felix has inspired me with his double century streak and his recent ride to Nebraska!
I have absolutely no plans for running in the coming year. None! I plan to run, that's all I know. I have no specific goals at this time except to heal my hamstring. Once that happens, I will start thinking about my next race.
I want to enjoy the time with Dennis and the Buffaloes this year, spend more time at our cabin, maybe do some painting in pastels again, do some work around the house, plant a garden next spring.
In the dimension of my life that includes work, it's been another rewarding but tough year. I like to think I'm incubating a culture in a petri dish and hoping it grows out something warm and fuzzy. I know the coming year is likely to hold more of the same so I'm going to take the lesson I learned at Badwater and become one with the pain, accept it, and distract myself.
The profession of nursing has a reputation for "eating their young". There are plenty of nurses out there who will deny this until they turn blue, but I've seen it happen to nurses of all ages and experience levels, and in all kinds of work settings. I would say the culture of nursing has rightfully earned this stigma no matter how many "healthy workplace initiatives" the corporate nursing culture tries to promote, anywhere, even in the best of workplaces.
My own personal healthy workplace initiative is that I try really hard to communicate in a non-threatening, kind, well-intentioned, diplomatic way. I have a hard time with people who are not, um...so tactfully communicative. I've never had thick skin and every time I try to grow it, it blisters and peels off, like feet in an ultra.
Going forward, I need to not let other people's insensitivities and poor communication skills posthole me, grab me by the ankle and pull me down. I'm super sensitive, but this is how I was made and I'm not going to apologize for that. One time someone I really respect at work told me I was too sensitive and I thought really hard about it, and decided, damn right I am, someone has to be!
I have been up and down and all over the map emotionally the past year or so, probably something to do with hormones and sleep deprivation related to hormones, but I have to forgive myself because other people aren't as kind. I know I've taken a lot of things personally this year and I need to learn to let go of it more.
I'm thankful for the core of fantastic, supportive, kind, warm, fuzzy people I work with, and I keep hoping maybe it will rub off on a few others. Maybe the warm fuzz will grow out of the petri dish and spread like MRSA, overwhelming the hostility and meanness that makes an already tough job more stressful. In any case, I have to accept the pain and focus on moving forward despite the often difficult culture of nursing.
That's where I am, today.