Scatter my ashes here...

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

Friday, February 26, 2010


This week we've gone from this to now close to 50 degrees with a biting breeze. The sun is out and the new snow is melting what looked like the return of the Ice Age earlier this week. This time the Antarctic ice shelf in the street in front of our house only lasted 2 days.

It's spring for sure. We might have 3 more months of cold and snow, but it's spring.

Today I ran hills on Centennial Drive, did 4 repeats of the big hill west of the A. I didn't dare go up to do Rock Repeats this week because it would have been a sloppy mess, plus it's windy out there. Not fun. Took the girls for a few miles afterward to get 16 miles for the day.

I woke up with a horrible work hangover this morning. I was worthless most of the morning, all I could do was stare at the kitchen walls and drink coffee. It took 3 hours before I could actually get up and start thinking about getting dressed to run. It's been insanely busy the past few weeks at work and 13 hours of nonstop running around taking care of patients is more exhausting than any ultra. I think it takes me longer to recover from that than just plain running outside on the roads for the same amount of time.

There was a thread on Woofie's ultralist with some haiku this morning. I love haiku. So with Woofie's blessing, I started the first ever ultrarunning haiku slam contest on the list. It runs through midnight Monday. I can't wait to read the entries. Who says runners are just introverted jocks or complete nerds? Some of us do have a few creative brain cells left.

As of Monday, it's March 1st. Time to get serious. I'll be hitting the sauna and steam room, occasionally at first, and then religiously as of April. And I am already increasing my weekly mileage. Next week is the Old Pueblo 50 mile in southern Arizona.

The Buffaloes are smiling, it's spring! Get the squirrels!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thankful for routine things

Two Rock Repeats today, followed by a few miles with the Buffaloes. Tonight, 6 miles with the Wednesday night group at Runner's Roost. I'm feeling good and recovered from the race, just sleep deprived. I'm taking care of all sorts of errands and business this week, all the pleasant things I get to do this time of year, like taxes.

But I am thankful for these routine things. Any unpleasantness is forgotten when I think of the alternative. I have a job, I get to pay taxes. I have my eyes, teeth, and breasts, so I get to get my eyes checked, go to the dentist, and get a mammogram. I have two beautiful Australian Shepherds, and I get to pick up after them, in our backyard.

I did have my eye exam Monday and I'm getting new glasses. Not quite ready for reading glasses, but getting closer all the time. I had to wait until after dark to go running Monday, my pupils were still huge for 10 hours after my appointment. They always say it will resolve in 4 hours but it always takes so much longer for me. Same with the dentist, it never wears off until the next day. And next week is my favorite, the mammogram, the giant two-way ironing board. Can't wait.

The Southridge trail at Horsetooth Mountain Park was snowpacked and icy for about half the distance. Slowed me down a little, but I felt good climbing. I haven't worked on my powerwalk much so this was a good chance to do it. With Old Pueblo coming up, I needed to inoculate my quads with some downhill running. This whole winter has consisted of running on pavement, mostly the concrete bike paths! It felt so good to run dirt during the Pemberton race and today on Horsetooth Mountain.

Still waiting for some warm weather to happen, so I can clean up the yard. For now, we're just adding to the spring cleanup with every bowl of dog food...

But I can be thankful that the grass will be green this spring.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Paradise at the Pemberton Trail 50K

Get over yourself, you're in paradise!

That was the theme for the weekend. I've been extremely whiny lately about the persistent cold weather in Colorado. It's been cold, we have an ice sheet in our front yard, it never gets over 50 degrees, I'm completely white from lack of sun exposure, and so on. Waah, waah, waah. Life is soooo tough when all you can do is go home to Scottsdale for the weekend...

Dennis and I flew down there for a long weekend to visit my dad and stepmom, and treated ourselves to perfect 70+ degree weather and sunshine at the Pemberton Trail 50K in McDowell Mountain Park near Fountain Hills, where we used to live before we moved back to Fort Collins.

These are the trails where I used to run all the time. I have so many fun memories of the Pemberton and my trail buddies, out here among the cactus and sunshine, javelina and jackrabbits, and the occasional rattlesnake.

The Pemberton 50K consists of two 25k loops of the Pemberton Trail in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The race is a benefit for the park itself and many of the trail improvements have been funded by Brian's race and other events held out here by local ultrarunners. It's a gentle grade with great footing, occasional sandy washes, big views of the Superstition Mountains, Four Peaks, gorgeous desert scenery, and is extremely runnable. It's a fast trail 50K course, for anyone interested in running a fast time.

Four Peaks from the trailhead staging area.

Brian Wieck is the founder and race director of this event, which had it's 10th anniversary this year. Brian is a friend and old running buddy of ours. His parents, Keith and Joan, were our neighbors in Fountain Hills. Keith and Joan help out at the Pemberton, making it a family event. Joan makes the best chili for the runners to eat afterwards. Dennis jumped in and helped at the packet pickup in the darkness, when he found out a couple of volunteers didn't show up, then he worked with Tiffany doing the timing at the finish line. There were roughly 130 runners in the 50K and a few dozen more in a two person relay.

Brian Wieck, race director, Tiffany and Dennis at the finish line timing station.

Speaking of fast times, aging competitive runners are such prima donnas. I really need to get over myself. Yes I am aging and slowing, I feel like a trail snail. Gravity is pulling me down. To be painfully blunt and honest about my prima donna feelings and whine about my damaged formerly competitive runner's pride, it's hard to haul ass down the trail when you're carrying 15 more pounds of it than you used to.

But I'm enjoying it as much as ever. I ran the first loop in just under 2 1/2 hours, running a steady pace but not pushing hard. I took a quick break to unload my extra clothes at the aid station as it was getting quite warm. I grabbed an extra bottle of gatorade and water to go, and I'm glad I did because it did heat up by halfway through the second loop.

On the second loop I took it easier on the uphill section and ate and drank a lot, which helped me run my last 10K leg of the loop in the same time as I ran that stretch in the first loop! I was very proud of that even split. I finished in 5:18, which is 55 minutes slower than my best time on the trail back 7 or 8 years ago, but like I said I need to get over myself.

Three more weeks to the Old Pueblo 50 miler. A bit of speedwork might help me feel less like a trail snail. I have a long way to go, as it's been 3 years since I did any real speed training.

Keith Wieck, Brian's dad, with me after I finished.

Brian and Alene.

Brian at the awards. Joan (Brian's mom) is taking the wine out of the box for the lucky raffle winner.

The start and finish line area.

Desert scenery in the McDowells. It's been the inspiration for many of my paintings.

"George", the rubber rattlesnake. He's been used at the finish line and various other places for years.

I didn't get to see Woofie. He had a mishap, he was having some pain in his leg early in the race and decided to call it a day rather than risk injury. I made it a point to see Houdini, the gila monster who lives at the park visitor center. Woofie is Houdini's sponsor. He's donated all the funds to provide Houdini with a home and to be well taken care of by the park staff.

Houdini's "home" at the visitor center.

Houdini through the glass. He was hiding.

Houdini sticks his head up to check things out.

No ice sheets here in Paradise.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The 3rd Annual Human Powered Brewery Tour

What do the beer fairy, the queen of Wal-Mart, and Spiderman have in common? And what was this odd assortment of characters doing running down the streets of Old Town Fort Collins today?

Today was the third annual Human Powered Brewery Tour, and a group of about 30 runners and other bipedal human powered creatures participated as a fundraiser for ALS.

We go on so many training runs and take our running and racing seriously, but it has to be fun. Pounding out thousands of miles every year on the roads has to be fun if it's worth the effort we put into it. Every once in a while you have to do something different. Why not have fun and make it help someone who can't run?

The tour, similar to Tour de Fat, a huge bicycle event in the fall, was organized by Scott and Celeste as a fundraiser.

We started at New Belgium Brewery around 11:00 this morning. The sister of Fort Collins' lastest claim to fame joined us for the tour, Connie in her Balloon Girl costume, with the balloon tied to her neck nearly hanging her from one of the big old cottonwoods lining the streets where we ran.

At New Belgium Connie won the costume contest.

Connie, Rebekah, me, Cat, & Pablo.

Half the group at the start of the tour.

Cat (beer fairy), Rebekah (not sure- was she St. Pauli Girl?), and Connie (Balloon Girl).

Pablo as Spiderman.

Arriving at New Belgium.

On the road to the Fort Collins Brewery.

Celeste. (Eddie, Scott, Connie, and Felix in the background)

The costume award at New Belgium.

Me, Connie, and Pete.

Bringing your husband along on the tour does not guarantee he'll drink your leftover beer.

I tried an India Pale Ale at New Belgium. It was mediocre. I love good India Pale Ale, but generally I am not a big beer drinker. I can usually only drink about 6 ounces, at that point I feel good and if I drink an entire 12 ounce beer by myself, that's too much for me.

After some socializing, the costume contest, and some beer tasting, it was time to hit the road for the mile or so to Fort Collins Brewery.

The Beer Fairy (Catharine) and the queen of Wal-Mart (me) arriving at the Fort Collins Brewery.

I tried a Pomegranate Wheat beer at Fort Collins Brewery. Hmmm.

Dennis V. from Runner's Roost

All of us at Fort Collins Brewery. We were only at our second stop on the tour, but everyone looks toasted.

Soon it was time to hit the road again, back toward Old Town, to Odell's Brewery. I like some of their beers. Dennis and I used to bring home a case of 90 Schilling to Arizona when we used to come up to Colorado for vacations. I also like their India Pale Ale. But I needed to try some different beers.

Connie and Cat.

Lisa, Rebekah, and Eddie.

I ended up trying both the Cutthroat Porter (too smoky) and Five Barrel Pale Ale (ugh, not like India Pale Ale).

The group at Odell's.

Soon it was time to move on to the last stop on the tour, Coopersmith's. We were all hungry. Scott brought snacks for everyone but we were all starving by then. It was after 2:00 and all we had was beer.

Connie, Pete, and me at Coopersmith's. We got there first, most motivated by food.

After twenty years of marriage and four breweries, he's still with me. It must be the food.

The beer fairy at her last stop on the tour.

The hungriest of the group arrived early at Coopersmith's.

The group at Coopersmith's, still smiling at 4 pm.

The Queen of Wal-Mart comes home to the Buffaloes, a happy ending to a fun day.