Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Einstein 1, Squirrels -2

Another week has gone by and I'm coming up on week 8, as of October I'll be starting a super S-L-O-W rebuilding program with my running. I don't miss it yet! The weather has been so nice for bike rides, I'm perfectly happy to go out on the bike! Yesterday Connie and I went for a good bike ride around Windsor and she told me about some new places to ride.

I'm not planning any races until I know I'm running at 100%. That could be a while. Starting out will consist of five minute runs at first. It will take a few months before I do anything resembling a real run, but I'll get there.

I've been doing little domestic projects and staying incredibly busy, which makes me wonder where all these things go all those months where I have no time for anything but running. I guess they just don't get done.

Einstein is still winning the chase. This past week we only saw traces of him one morning. The traps in the house are all empty. One glue trap out in the shed caught a tiny mouse. Definitely not Einstein, and probably not anyone related to Einstein. He's a big dude.

One evening after I got home from work, I was in the shower, and as soon as I turned the water off all I could hear was Dennis saying, "No! Let go! Drop it!" I threw my robe and shoes on and ran outside. He was holding Iris in one arm, and trying to pull a squirrel out of her mouth with the other hand. It was a BIG squirrel, too. It had a thick bushy tail and was fat.

It took us a good 15 minutes to get it away from her, she would not let go. The squirrel was already dead. I had to distract Iris, I said, "Look over there!" and she finally dropped it. I got the honor of picking it up in a garbage bag and disposing of it. Ugh!

Iris got a bath after that, and got her mouth washed out, too. There was no way she was coming in the house or sleeping on the bed after chewing on a squirrel!

Today I caught Iris trying to climb a tree in the back yard. Later I found squirrel guts and hair in the yard. I think she got another one.

If at first you don't succeed, try the other side of the tree.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chasing Einstein

I'm seven weeks into my running layoff now and I'm not missing a thing. I've been riding my bikes into the ground, though, I already broke my chain once on the Surly! The guy at the bike shop told me to go easy on the poor bike...

I finally made it up north Dam Hill at Horsetooth on the bike, faster than I can run it. That was an accomplishment for me, since I used to always seem to run faster than a lot of the cyclists on that hill. At the beginning even Bingham Hill was tough, but now I can do Bingham Hill with a lot less effort.

I am getting some opportunities to chase things for cross-training though. Like the newest member of our family, the one who wasn't invited but makes himself comfortable every night in our house, Einstein.

Einstein is a mouse.

This time of year in Fort Collins the mice like to come indoors looking for food, when it gets cold outside at night.

So far Einstein has outsmarted us even though he's come close to death several times. I could have done him in once, but I can't kill mice. Mice squeaking in a trap make me cry.

I have a hard enough time dealing with the inescapable crunch of running over gazillions of grasshoppers on the bike path this time of year, so killing a mouse is over the top for me.

I had the opportunity, and I thought my effort was enough, but I didn't do it and he ended up escaping. Now he's managed to evade all of our traps and foil all of our efforts. We've tried to bait him with dog food, peanut butter, oatmeal, and I don't know what else. Dennis deals with the traps, not me.

Iris and Isabelle hear him and try to chase him but he knows to get under the oven and in the cracks where they can't reach him. They sniff, but they never get close. They don't pay much attention most of the time. Does this look like a buffalo who is ready to chase a mouse?

One day I heard him stuck on the glue trap in the garage, near the doggie door. He was trying to get off of it and he was squeaking. I felt victorious, but his squeaking was making me feel guilty. I dropped him and the glue trap into the trash can in the garage, saying, "sorry little mouse!" and thinking once I closed the lid we would never hear from him again.

Later that day I went out to put a trash bag out in the can. I opened the lid, and something dark flew out! It went flying across the garage.

That mouse freed himself from the trap deep in the garbage can, got up near the lid and waited for the opportunity to get out! This mouse deserves a diploma of some sort. That's when I decided to name him Einstein. My sister has a cat named Einstein. Maybe we should borrow the cat for a while.

Most mice find little cracks or holes, or get under doorways. Einstein uses the doggie door.

A few days before we "caught" him I opened the little closet that we use as a pantry, and something dark and furry came flying off the shelf, brushed my hand as it flew across the room, and by the time I realized what it was, all I saw was the swinging flap of the doggie door. The girls were nowhere to be found. They were too busy looking for squirrels in the trees in the back yard, oblivious to the mouse.

After we set traps, Einstein chewed his way into a triple-wrapped bag of flour and an unopened bag of tortilla chips. There were chips all over the shelf. We cleaned everything and put all the chewable items up in the cabinets. Or so we thought.

I had a big cardboard container of oatmeal that I cook in the mornings, and I left it out on the counter one night, not thinking about the mouse. In the morning I found the oatmeal in the state below.

He tried gnawing through the cardboard at the bottom, but then must have given up and jumped on the top, where he chewed a hole in the plastic lid! I found shredded plastic all over the counter, and of course, another trail of mouse poop across the stove. We also found more little turds in the pantry again, on top of the cans. Ugh!

After cleaning up again, Dennis said that was it, he was getting some different mousetraps and wanted to keep him from getting up on the shelves in the pantry, so he placed a sheet of plastic wrap across the lower shelf all the way to the door, thinking Einstein might bounce off of it if he tried to leap up there.

That didn't work, we found mouse poop on the shelves again!

So far, no luck. We got a reprieve from cleaning up mouse poop the past 2 days but I have a feeling it won't last.

That's about it. Mostly these days I am working, painting, riding the bike, and hanging out with the girls at home. There's nothing as fun as an afternoon game of Stick in the back yard grass.

I thought about going off on a rant about people who talk on the cell phone while riding their bikes on the bike path, but I'll save that for another day.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Same Road, Body, & Driver, Different Vehicle

I am now into my fifth week off of running. This week I have taken a few running steps, as I'm adding some grass running into my every other day routine of physical therapy. I am up to a whole 10 minutes on the grass! WooHoo! But it's good.

It's pain free, and I'm able to tolerate the uneven surface without a brace on my ankle. Standing on a pillow on my bad ankle doing leg swings and other balance exercises was helping, but I needed to step up the challenge even more.

I'm riding my bike as much as I can fit into my schedule, and I've been working out my entire body, trying to build on my core strength and upper body, things I have neglected in varying degrees. My entire body is sore, different parts, every day. I like it. This break has been so refreshing, for my body and mind.

I ran into my friend Nick this week at the grocery store, he's taking a much needed break right now too, he's had such success on the ultra racing circuit but pushing it so hard that I think he raced himself into mental burnout. It was so good to see him. I know that after a break he'll be ready to tear up the ultra world again like he did last year, if he wants to.

I'm looking forward to running races next year but right now I don't miss the training at all. I love what I'm doing now. It's fun and I have a lot of variety in my workouts, and it doesn't consume all day, every day. I definitely don't miss going to the sauna!

I've done some interesting and new bike rides, some of which I'll do again, and some I'll chalk up to curiosity. I rode the bike path from Windsor to Greeley and back last week for the first time. It was actually quite pleasant, until about the last 5 miles into Greeley.

You cross a set of railroad tracks and literally, on the other side of the tracks, suddenly the scenery goes from riverbanks and cottonwood trees to dead grass and gravel pits, and you're in Greeley. And that's where I started seeing people carrying baseball bats as they walked on the bike path. Nice.

When I emerged on the far end of the path in Island Grove Park a few miles later, it's not such a pretty part of town. I looked out at the delapidated buildings and the trailer parks, stopped at 11th and D streets, and turned around and headed back toward Windsor without exploring anything in Greeley.

It's really a decent ride but once you hit the railroad tracks, it's time to turn around. It was 63 miles out and back from home the way I did it, but next time I'd cut off the middle 10 miles and just skip the Greeley section which would be a nice 50 mile ride.

I'm getting stronger on the hills, today I rode up toward Masonville over County Road 38E by Horsetooth Reservoir. I went down through Loveland, cut over to Boyd Lake, and came back to Fort Collins.

I really need to go do a century ride one of these days before the weather changes. I need to figure out a good route and do it.

I have a feeling when I return to running I'm going to feel a lot stronger and healthier than I've been in a long time. I'm not in a hurry, I'll get there. I like it this way.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Forty-six degrees this morning! As much as I like hot weather, I'm ready for a break.

I am now at the end of 3 weeks of an 8 week layoff from running. I have to say I don't miss it yet. I have been cycling and painting. Going out to lunch or on bike rides with friends I haven't seen. Going for bike rides with Dennis. Going up to the cabin with Dennis and playing with the dogs. Dusting.


You never realize it until you move things around how much dust accumulates over time. I had to take all the paintings off the walls when we had our roof done. I thought of my brother, cleaning up after the haboob in Phoenix.

Running and training all the time, to the exclusion of most everything else, creates haboobs in your life. It's only when you stop and shake things up that you see so much dust everywhere.

I've been telling people that I've been off running for three weeks and I haven't hurt anybody yet. But really I am okay with it.

I started physical therapy, and that is some work. It hurts after I do those exercises, standing on a pillow and balancing on my bad ankle. It will be worth it though, even if it takes months. I have to work hard at this, since it takes a lot of stress to make my ankle hurt. Most people would be happy that their ankle only hurts after 40 or 50 minutes of running. But for me, I'm not even warmed up!

Painting has been great. I haven't worked on anything serious, just warming up by playing with cactus and colors and seeing where that takes me. I have some paintings in the local Senior Center this fall.

I'm having fun on the bikes, exploring some new rides. I hope that once the weather changes and it gets cold on the bike I'll be able to run enough to keep me challenged. Riding a bike indoors for hours is something I don't particularly enjoy. There's always deep water running too, which isn't much more exciting than riding a bike on a trainer.

It is such a nice break, it helps me clear my mind and get re-centered. As important as running is to me, it's a good reminder to stay well-rounded. There is so much to enjoy in life besides just running!

Everyone asks me, when's your next race? I don't have anything on the horizon. I am not planning anything at all through the end of this year. I'm looking at doing some of my own adventures next year, planning them myself or with some friends, instead of doing a lot of races. As far as racing, I am looking at some sort of multiday fixed time event toward the end of 2012, probably Across the Years.

If I enter any shorter races, they will be close to home, inexpensive and easy to plan for, most likely some 100-ish mile runs or a 24 hour run. I might even jump in a 50 miler or 100K at some point, if I find something new and interesting. I just want to have fun, see some different places, and think about what's next. I'm looking ahead at 2013 and 2014 and preparing for that more than anything. I'd like to do something big to celebrate my 50th birthday.