Scatter my ashes here...

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

Friday, April 22, 2011

There's No Place Like Home...

Today I took a trip to the Land of Oz.

I'm not sure if I was blown there by the 20+ mph winds all day long, with even stronger gusts, or if Oz is really just 50 miles away from Fort Collins and I ran there.

It was a tough day for a run, with strong winds the whole time, and I pushed myself hard to end up with a 10 hour, 12 minute, 56 second, 50 mile training run. Not bad for running on my own all day long, 15.4 laps around Houts Reservoir & Equalizer Lake in Loveland, and a few strange characters I met while following the yellow brick road, actually the half white concrete walking path, half mud which soon dried in the wind to dirt path.

But then, I happen to love running in the wind. There were whitecaps on the lakes and I figured out that grass grows horizontally in Oz.

And then there were the pelicans. A flock of white pelicans landed on the lake, surfing the waves. They must have thought their migration was over, and they found the ocean.

Pelicans must be the national bird in the Land of Oz. I also met some other creatures in Oz, not quite as graceful as the pelicans.

I met some Darwin Award candidates in Oz. On the south side of the lakes, there is another townhouse or condo being built next to the ones that are already there. I started running early this morning before anyone was at the construction site. After about 5 laps I heard the first catcall. I didn't think it was a catcall, I just heard something in the wind and turned my head toward the building. I saw two men on the roof, working, but obviously not working very hard.

I ignored them and ran on. After that, almost every time I ran by I heard some kind of whistle or comment, unless there happened to be a strong gust of wind howling at the same time. I could see them as I approached, standing on the steep boards of the roof with their nail gun. Up there on the roof, not paying attention to what they were doing, instead they were busy watching me run by. I bet their boss loves having employees like that.

I kept ignoring them, and thankfully they were gone for lunch for a lap which gave me a break. On the next lap I was getting irritated. After 10 loops of being ignored don't you think they'd get tired of the game?

I used some choice sign language in case they couldn't hear me in the wind, and yelled some choice words reflecting my impression of their intelligence. Then I resolved to ignore them the rest of the time. But I lucked out, on the next loop there was a man walking his dog by the same spot and that time the macho men held their tongues.

After that they seemed to be gone for the day.

This is the second time I've had to deal with this B.S. on the lakes loop. Last fall Cat and I were running out there one day, doing multiple loops. The apartment complex on the southeast corner of the lakes was under construction and some Darwin award candidates of the same mentality were up on the roof, yelling things at us.

Cat and I ended up changing our route to avoid that corner of the lake. But that pissed me off, why should we have to change where we run, it's a recreation path, and those bozos on the roof were interfering with our enjoyment of being out there.

So after we were done that day I took down the information on the project from a sign that was posted, and I called McWhinney, the developer, and asked to get in touch with the project manager. They took me seriously. I told the guy on the phone, they are making your business look bad and they are a liability, it's not only harassment but it's also a safety issue. What kind of crazy idiot would be up on a roof not paying attention to what they are doing and risk falling off the roof?

A Darwin Award candidate.

The company did follow up with it. After that there were no more catcalls, and the manager actually called me back later to tell me he had fired the ringleader.

There is no reason why women (or anyone) should be subjected to this kind of moronic behavior. It really blows me away that this kind of crap still goes on. Maybe I thought with my gray hair and middle age, I could pass a construction site unscathed. Apparently not. If you're female, you are still prey to the power games of this kind of unevolved, sick predator.

I really don't feel like pursuing that again, but if I was done early enough and had the energy I would have gone down there and raised some hell. By the end of the day the predators were gone and I was tired and wanted to get home to my Buffaloes.

At the end of my run, after 15 full loops, knowing all I had left was my extra little spur to make it an even 50, I clicked my heels together and said, "There's no place like home."

And before long I was magically transported back to Fort Collins, to the Buffaloes, who waited for me all day. I told them I would never leave home again. At least not until tomorrow morning for Rock Repeats with Katy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Heretic or Asterisk?

Just finished the "rest" week. Three consecutive longish runs, after being exhausted on Wednesday from two busy days of work. It was another week of training, nothing exciting, but a good solid week. I cut my mileage from last week, to end up with about 90 this week.

20+ on Thursday, 30 on Friday in the wind and flats with Connie along for the last 15, then 7 windy Rock Repeats today for 30+ and 7700 feet of vertical in each direction. Finishing up my last Rock Repeats, I felt good. I kept a steady pace and was consistent. Broke out a new pair of shoes for the Rock Repeats. My body thanked me.

I got more planning details out of the way this week for the Vegas portion of the trip to and from Death Valley. We also solved the problem of what to do with the coolers on Sunday on the way back to the Las Vegas airport when the post office in Furnace Creek is closed. UPS stores are open on Sundays!

I made an executive decision a couple of weeks ago. We are NOT climbing Whitney after the race. We were having a hard time getting permits for the days that would be convenient for us as far as timing the return trip. We only have until Sunday, so we really don't have time to be driving back across the valley once we leave Lone Pine to go back to Badwater.

To me, I've always felt like the Whitney portion was not that important. I also didn't want the crew stressing about it, and they were fine with it. Whitney is so different from the rest of the Badwater course. To me it didn't make sense, even if it was part of the original route, and the purpose of the original race was lowest to highest, which is how purists view it.

Ben Jones was giving me a hard time about not climbing Mt. Whitney, but we are doing Telescope Peak on the return trip instead, highest point in Death Valley National Park. It's only a hair over 11,000 feet at the top. It's a little shorter than Whitney in distance too, about 15 miles round trip for Telescope as opposed to 22 for Whitney. Both routes start at about 8000 feet.

So I told Ben I'd make my crew do cartwheels down the trail. And that the guys on the crew would be wearing running skirts. And that I'd crack open a hot bottle of champagne and pass it around, and pray for the patron saint of the desert to save our souls. We'll call it the Death Valley Desert Double (DVDD).

I already know I'm a heretic, this is just more evidence. Half the people I've talked to can't understand the not wanting to do Whitney part. But there are so many little issues with Whitney. I climbed it once nearly 30 years ago. Yes it's the highest point in the lower 48, another 14er, just a little higher than Mt. Elbert here. Lowest to highest, the traditional route. But I've never done Telescope Peak. And this race is about the desert for me. Why not climb to the highest point in Death Valley itself?

Plus with Telescope Peak there are many bonuses. Like no permits, no bears breaking into your vehicle for food, no limited parking, no timing the permits for the right day, no weather issues, no altitude issues, no worries about getting up to train on Pikes Peak or something high in June before the snow is melted.

I told Ben I am perfectly okay with being an asterisk, footnote, or oddball. There are a number of them on the "Badwater Master List", which is an archive maintained by Ben of every single and multiple Badwater crossing known.

The crew has been getting a bit rambunctious in their e-mails. Much talk about what to wear, especially reflective gear. I find it amusing that my mostly male crew has such fashion sense. Some pre-race e-mail bonding going on!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

See You A.B.: A Week in my Badwater Training Life

I finally got through most of my pile of distractions and I'm able to focus on running. The amount of time I spend preparing for this race makes the time required for most of the normal things in life disruptive to my day of training.

I've had to put a lot of meetings and socializing on hold too, just not enough time. I find myself saying no to most things, it's all A.B. now. "After Badwater".

People often ask me what it's like to train for a race like this. It's different than other ultras, that's for sure. There's the added element of heat preparation, in addition to hills, lots of miles on asphalt, and general planning for the runner and crew that is much more intense than crewing for a typical 100 mile ultra.

A typical day for me now when I'm not working all day is wake up, have coffee and some breakfast, take the girls running, come home and get ready for my run, eat more, go out and run until 12 or 1 or 2 pm, go to the sauna if I'm done by early afternoon, do my weight training, eat, rehydrate, take a nap, drink more fluids, cook something, then sometimes go out for a late afternoon or evening run, come home, eat, hang out with Dennis and the girls for a while, then go to bed.

Other days I just run all day, and try to get home for a nap if I have anything I need to do in the evening. Those days the girls get mad at me, when their run is not the priority. They pout until I come home and take their leashes out of the closet, and sometimes they have to wait until after I take a nap.

After working last weekend when it was super busy, I felt surprisingly good on Monday. Usually I have no energy after two days in a row of 12 hour shifts. But Monday I managed 15 miles plus weights and a trip to the sauna to bake for 45 minutes.

Got smoked out of my run on Tuesday, I was up at Horsetooth planning to do 7 Rock Repeats but cut it off at 5 because the smoke from the Crystal Fire got so bad, the wind picked up in the afternoon and by 1 pm I couldn't see across to the Rock anymore through the thick smoke settling into the draws.

Wednesday I worked a 12, so no run that day. Thursday I had a good run again.

This week has been just a mileage week, 15-20 miles a day, getting my basic hill workout in, a little faster stuff on the roads, and by Friday my legs were still tired and sore from the hills, so I decided to make it a long walk and just work on my walking pace. I ended up running about one third of the distance and made great time between that and the fast walking. Ended up with a decent workout.

Saturday was rough, I felt fine physically but my head was not in the right place. Some days are like that. I went down to the lakes, but I never got focused. It felt like each loop was taking forever. I couldn't get going at a running pace and decided to keep walking until the sky figured out what it wanted to do. If it started dumping wet stuff I would go home and do more miles Sunday, but after about 11 am there were some clear blue spots visible betwen the clouds and the afternoon got sunny.

Still I couldn't ever get in the right place mentally. I toughed it out and got 5 hours on my feet anyway. I thought, maybe Sunday will be better. Looks like this week is 107 miles, with nothing exciting. I really need to start pushing myself harder to run more and at a faster pace because when I can do 100+ miles in a week and feel like I didn't do anything, I need more of a challenge.

I passed the time during Saturday's 21 mile walk by making Badwater plans in my head and texting my friend Paul Grimm, who was having a rough time mentally getting through his own long run down near Denver. If I'd known, I would have called him and arranged for us to run together.

It's REALLY a bad day if I'm texting during a run!

One of these days soon I need to get a longer run in, more like 50 miles. I can tell I'm no longer tired from Florida. Now that the days are longer it's easier to run without much darkness. I'm not much for staying up all night. I like to sleep. I save my all nighters for race day. Or race week, in this case.

Badwater training is not that exciting from the observer's point of view. To me, it's nirvana. Even on the bad days, like when you can't get your mind focused, it's better than most things.

Except for the friends and family who are willing to tolerate your temporarily obsessive state, more than usual, until A.B. It doesn't happen without them. I can never thank them enough.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Out Like a Lion

I woke up this morning and it was April! Did that happen to you, too?

It was an early morning, and even earlier, because I agreed to a radio interview at 6:30 am on the local Clear Channel station, KCOL 600 AM. They are supporting our Save Change to Create Change fundraiser for the Cancer Center! I felt honored to be included among this group of people. Thank you KCOL!

They did a series of interviews this morning, first with me, about the impetus for Save Change, the CEO of PVH, two local cancer survivors who have been influential in the community in raising awareness of the need for centralized cancer services and support, the executive director of the PVHS Foundation, and a high school student who led the amazing fundraising effort at Rocky Mountain High School where the kids raised $37,000 in 3 weeks.

Here is a link to the podcast, or you can listen directly from here, too.

After the interview I needed to get out and run 15 miles, and I am still tired after an easy week of running. Last week's workouts kicked my butt. I work this weekend. I felt good for the first ten and tehn I could tell I'm still fatigued. My thyroid is off, went a little overboard on the downward thyroid med adjustment and it threw everything off. So now I will have to backtrack a bit. The past three weeks I've been feeling like Towanda! on steroids, hot flashing and all, and that probably had a lot to do with it! Change one thing, and everything gets out of whack. At least I have time to fix it before Badwater, and that was the whole point.

It's hard to believe it's only 3 months to Badwater. I'm starting to get anxious, I need my training time, I need my schedule to be clear of distractions, I need sleep time in the afternoons, I need to focus. This past week was my rest week and I needed it! It didn't feel very restful, though. It's April now. Time to get down to business.

March thought it went out like a lion, but the lion is still here, in me, ready to tear up the roads. Time to blow out some carbon and do some serious miles. Don't mess with THIS lion. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

By the way, it was 103 in Death Valley yesterday! BRING IT ON!

photo credit: Nathan Nitzky