Scatter my ashes here...

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

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bristlecones and Buffaloes

Last weekend we went up to the cabin and took the girls hiking in the old bristlecone pine forest on Mt. Silverheels. The weather was perfect, almost too warm for being up that high, but there was water in the creek and the spring was flowing so the girls had plenty to drink and opportunities to swim.

I've been on a short vacation. I took 9 days off to get some projects done, wrap up a few loose ends with my paintings, and get out of town for some fresh air and scenery.

On the way up, we saw a cow moose in the forest, down in the thick trees about a mile away from here when we were still on the trail. Cool, but scary. Fortunately the girls didn't notice the moose. They were too busy looking up trees for the black squirrels.

This is the view from the saddle where the bristlecone pines start. You can see all the way across South Park to the tops of the Collegiate Peaks near Buena Vista.

The girls were so happy. They chased little ground squirrels and sniffed everything.

There were still a lot of wildflowers out up high even though the aspen leaves are already turning gold along Tarryall Creek.

After a perfectly clear day, the sky clouded up at sunset and we got some rain.


There are so many things to be thankful for.

Last weekend we went up to Trout Creek Pass to check on things. Our neighbors up there have been trying to get in touch with us about this, which happened earlier this year while we were gone. Call it a miracle, call it what you will, but we were so lucky.

This dead pine tree has been standing by the shed for a few years since the big mountain pine beetle invasion 5 years ago. We only lost two trees and we are lucky to have so many Douglas Fir which didn't get affected by the pine beetles. When it fell, it missed our shed, the fenced-in area for the dogs, and the nearby Douglas Fir tree. Missed all of it. Fell neatly, perfectly in between.

The lot next door was sold, but the old owners left the Silver Stream that's been there forever. That thing was already delapidated when we first looked at our lot in 1997. Maybe the new owners will restore it.

This past week there have been many other things to be thankful for. I sprained my ankle a week ago Saturday and I stayed off of it and iced it, and I am now running again. I was able to run after just 5 days off. Last Thursday, my first run after my ankle sprain, I got to run with my old running buddies Tom and Allison. I finally had a Thursday night off when I didn't have to work the next morning so I got to run with the Thursday night group, and it was so good to run with them again.

The other thing I am thankful for is that I ran the Mountain Avenue Mile on August 13th and even though my time was slow and I felt like a thundering herd of elephants running down the street carrying my 12 pounds of extra flesh I've acquired over the past year or so. I ran 6:42 which for me is very slow but I had fun and watched Dennis and Felix both run great races, both finished in about 5:10.

And then running-wise I am thankful that I was able to run 20 miles today, on my own, no walking whatsoever (not a step!) and did it without having to force myself out the door, without anyone else along to motivate me, and even though I was slow I kept a steady pace, didn't listen to music, and didn't ever once deteriorate into a death march or bad attitude.

I didn't realize but it's been well over a year since I had the motivation to do a long training run on my own. I am actually looking forward to that 50K run in a few weeks on the Hopi reservation.

Today, I am thankful for not feeling burned out on running.

Two Mornings

The original pastel paintings of "Second Sunrise" and "On The First Part of the Journey" are now framed and hanging in our living room. They are being protected under glass until later this week when they will be visiting the printer to be scanned for giclee, along with a couple of other paintings I've had inquiries about.

I'm very excited about these new Badwater images. More to come...

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Towanda!!!! Moment

My friend Woofie has a great online ultrarunning list where topics relevant to ultras are discussed. Occasionally we stray off of pure ultrarunning, but there's always some relevance. Today Woofie posted his "seasonal rant" and was talking about bike safety and using lights when riding a bicycle in the dark. I had an experience this morning when I was running that seemed to fit right in with safety so I posted this rant in response to his. Here it is:

Speaking of safety, and not intending to diminish the impact of Woofie's rant, I had an encounter on the bike path this morning here in Fort Collins when I was running. There is a 20+ mile bike path around the city that passes through wooded areas, wetlands, winds along the Poudre River, gives great views of the Rockies, and is fairly safe for running and cycling. There are a few areas where I use extra caution about being aware of my surroundings, there are lots of big, leafy trees and dark little coves off the side of the bike path and I do occasionally see unsavory characters wandering around and the brush grows thick this time of year.

It's the kind of place you feel comfortable running through alone during the day, but after dark there's no way I'd be out there by myself.

Excuse this story but I need to vent my premenopausal hormonally-induced rage. I just feel the need to share my TOWANDA!!!! moment.

This morning on my run I was coming through one area near an overpass which has a dark tunnel through it and perches where I've seen homeless people hang out, there's lots of shelter in the weeds nearby, and it's far enough away from any city streets that you would have to do quite a sprint to get away safely.

When I'm on my bike, I give the "On your left" warning. Today I was moving slower than on the bike and these two women, probably in their 20s or 30s were wandering along the bike path, wearing those popular fashionable clothes that involve low rider pants with most of their (ahem...clearing my throat here, hope I don't offend anyone) BIG WHITE BUTTS hanging out with their little flip flops on, high cut tops that show off TMI, and totally, completely unaware of me coming up at a 10 minute mile pace behind them for the longest time. I could see them, one of them had their cell phone up to her ear, and they never once looked behind them, around them, just oblivious and clueless.

So I did the same thing as Woofie. I got right up behind them and very loudly yelled, "ON YOUR LEFT!" startling the crap out of both of them. (I won't even describe the bouncing ripples in the exposed flesh) I have been unusually bitchy lately too. Call it hormones. I was on a rampage. I don't know why but it pissed me off that they were so clueless. I got a few steps past them and I heard one say something in a not so nice voice about scaring them.

I turned around and yelled back something to the effect of "If you have no clue about what's going on around you, you should be glad I scared you."

What I WISH I had said was "If you're out here on the bike path with your clueless ass hanging out talking on the cell phone, you're a #$%^& idiot!"

I don't know why this pissed me off so bad today but it irritates me when people have no clue what's going on around them. They are a danger to themselves and a danger to everyone else who uses the bike path. And then the cell phone thing really irritates me. And even though these girls were not so young that they could be my kid, I will be so glad when the slut fashion goes away. There are enough cracks in the concrete bike path, I didn't need to see any more...
End of rant.

Friday, August 7, 2009

G.B. Strikes Again

Back in the days when I used to run the Leadville Trail 100 in the summers, my training partners Snakebite, Alan and Wally had a name for me: G.B.

That's short for Gooney Bird. I got the name because I am terrible at altitude, and whenever we used to train by climbing 14ers or running trails way up high like Mosquito Pass above 13,000 feet, I would get silly. I could not think, I would giggle at everything and I certainly couldn't be relied on to find my way back down. I was stupid until I got down to maybe 11,000 feet.

I finished Leadville four times and never felt good, the altitude always got me and I'd always be competing for DFL. Now I've wised up and realized I do better at lower elevations.

Like, below sea level!!!

Training for Leadville, one of my weekly runs was to drive to the Longs Peak trailhead, run up to the Boulderfield and back down, and sometimes I'd do it twice. It usually took me less than 3 hours to do it once, maybe an hour and a half to reach the turnaround by the old "privy" sign. I could do two repeats in 6 hours.

On Monday I had a half-assed plan to go climb Longs Peak. First I tried to get Katy and Felix to go with me, but being a Monday, Katy has a real job and she was tempted but couldn't ditch work. I saw Felix at the running club picnic on Sunday and he told me he climbed Mt. Bierstadt on Saturday and had his own work to catch up on.

So I decided to go alone, and when I woke up, not by forcing myself to get up early, and if the conditions were right, I'd do it. I woke up a little late, managed to get out of the house by 6:15 and drive to Estes Park. I got to the trailhead at 7:30. The sky was clear and it was warm and windy. I kept thinking I'd get cold, I had a pack full of clothes and food and water, but I didn't feel cold except for my hands once I got up above treeline.

I felt lightheaded from the start, but not too bad. I walked at a fast pace but not pushing it hard. Once I got up to the turnoff to Chasm Lake I could feel how spaced out I was. Very strange. I haven't been up at altitude much at all this year, only once, really, climbing up to about 11,000 feet once is all, and that was back in June.

I made it to the Boulderfield in 2 hours and I was really lightheaded. I think that's at about 12,000 feet. I kept going, but it took me nearly an hour to get from the end of the switchbacks at the lower end of the Boulderfield to the point where you pass the rock tent shelters and start climbing up toward the Keyhole. I was having a hard time with my brain, I was unable to pick my way through the rocks. For some reason I would lose the trail, stop and stare blankly at the rocks, trying to pick a route, but my brain couldn't focus on it.

I sat down for a while and ate and drank, put some warm clothes on even though I wasn't cold, and took a little break. When I stood up I nearly fell over. There I was in my little running shoes among huge boulders with Alene-size cracks between the rocks. I sat down again and thought about it. I was just barely at 13,000 feet. It had taken me an hour to go what used to take me ten minutes. And just looking uphill toward the Keyhole, only a few hundred feet above me, I felt my head floating.

It was all boulders, I felt like it was more than I could handle mentally. I didn't feel tired, I just felt spaced out! I knew that it was only another mile and a half and 1200 feet of climbing, but my brain wasn't working. So I called it good and slowly picked my way back toward the low end of the Boulderfield and hiked back down and called it a day. I think if it had been earlier in the day I might have attempted it, but I was moving so slowly, I had no idea what I'd be like after a few more hours of hypoxia.

On the way down it did cloud up and rained on me for a while. No big thunderstorms or hail. I ended up with roughly 13 mile hike with about 3500 feet of climbing and descending. But it took me 6 hours to do what used to take me 3! I did enjoy the scenery on the way down.

And I did find out that my alter ego, Gooney Bird, is still with me.

This week I was also more tired than usual. For some reason I have been feeling unusually fatigued. I didn't sleep well in the middle of the week, when I was working, and it was busy at work.

So today I went to the lab vampires and got some tubes of blood siphoned from my veins. It was time to check the thyroid again anyway. I also got a lipid panel and other stuff for my annual physical which is coming up. Now that they took half my blood away, I won't even have to go up to high altitude to be G.B.