Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, July 29, 2012


As far as I'm concerned, summer can end each year when I get back from Death Valley. By late July, I'm done with the heat, I'm ready for the screaming kids in the neighborhood to go back to school, and I'm ready for the best running days ahead. From August through November, the weather keeps getting better and better for running, until we start getting the storms that bring ice to the roads.

I did a grand total of 115 miles of running during the month of July. I did more miles on the bike than I did running. But finally, I don't feel like my legs are flat and stiff and sluggish anymore when I go out to run.

What a week this end of July has been. I've experienced every possible emotion, and all somehow connected with running...hope, happiness, joy, envy, anticipation, sadness...I'm not even sure where to start!

I guess I'll start with the bad news and work my way to the good news.

At Western State College in Gunnison and at Adams State College in Alamosa, there is a long standing running rivalry that exists to this day. Their cross country and track teams, considered among the best in the nation, are just two hours’ drive away from each other, each with their own distinct cultures, but close enough that many friendships develop between the running alumni of the two schools.

On Friday July 20th, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference awarded Hall of Fame awards to several individuals and teams. Among the recipients were the 1986 Western State College men’s cross country team, and Pat Porter, a two-time Olympian, and an Adams State alumnus. My husband Dennis was an assistant coach of the 1986 Western State team, having graduated from and competed for Western State College. Dennis was a national champion in the 3000 meter steeplechase, ran against Pat in cross country, and was a teammate of Pat's on the U.S. team at the World Cross Country Championships in 1990. This picture is of Pat in the middle, flanked by our friend Steve Cathcart (left) and Dennis (right), at the Hall of Fame awards less than two weeks ago.

This past Thursday, July 26th, we heard the shocking news that Pat, along with his 15 year old son and son’s friend, were killed in a plane crash.

Pat was admired by so many runners. They were in awe of him, and he inspired them. He was funny. He used to call Dennis “The Truck”, a reference to his relentless, solid, focused running style. I have laughed many times over the years over that reference to the truck.

Pat was 53 when he died. His wife Trish and their daughter have lost a husband and father, son and brother. Words don't do justice to such a tragedy.

This morning I was out for my normal human being run of 5 miles on the bike path, and I ran into a neighbor whom I know from the cancer support group I often attend. I saw him out walking his dog just before I left for Death Valley. He and his wife were just processing the news of a recurrence of his cancer, without many treatment options, but they were going forward wth more chemo. He had just had his first cycle of chemo when I saw him then.

When I saw him this morning walking his dog on the bike path, he was bald. His hair was falling out already, and he buzzed what was left off. We talked for a few minutes. He's in good spirits despite the dire news and the steroids that have caused him to gain weight and mess with his moods and sleep, and his second chemo cycle starts tomorrow. We laughed about getting charged up for Chemo Monday.

Tomorrow is Chemo Monday for both of us. I'll most likely be giving chemo to some other patient where I work. Somewhere, someone is out there running an adventure run, and we're at Chemo Monday.

Speaking of adventure runs, yesterday Cheryl Zwarkowski finished her Badwater triple crossing of 405 miles. That means she must not have done Whitney, so like me, she stuck to road crossings. It took her 12 days. A big congratulations to Cheryl for her accomplishment. I wish I could have been out there too, and more.

Oh yes, I'm envious. Not to mention the reference to her post-Badwater vacation in Hawaii.

Money is the biggest limiting factor that I have when it comes to doing these adventure runs. I suppose I will need to get after it and find some sponsors or support, because I'd like to be able to go beyond what I've done before, but it takes me too long to save that kind of money on my own. Another project...

What I really enjoyed most this past week was going for a bike ride with my friend Troy. We were planning to do about a 30 mile ride, and he asked me to pick the route, so I took him toward Windsor to do a loop over there. When we stopped for a water break, I pointed out the path that goes to all the way to Greeley, that I've ridden dozens of times, but not yet this year.

He mentioned that we ought to do that some time. Then I suggested we go that way, and he went along with it. We ended up riding over 50 miles, which was his longest ride ever. We went slow and easy, and he was really strong at the end, so I'm sure he had a lot more miles in him. I usually ride alone, so it was great to have him along and get a chance to talk for hours instead of in 2 minute sound bites passing between work shifts.

I've been told I have that effect on people if they run or ride with me, I can sneak in an extra 20 miles before they even realize what's happened.

And the other happy news is, I'm not running an ultra in August, I'm going to the beach instead, with Dennis! We're going out to visit my parents in Manhattan Beach in August for a few days. I can't wait.

So...I go back to work Chemo Monday tomorrow and then Tuesday. By Wednesday it will be work hangover time and another week will be halfway done...and it will be August.

August means fall is here, finally. Fall starts in early August up high in the mountains, when the raspberries are ripe for picking and the highest aspen trees are just starting to turn slightly gold. The temperature actually dropped into the 50s the other morning, it was 58 degrees when I woke up. The days are noticeably shorter.



HappyTrails said...

Alene, we are so sorry for yet another tragic loss of a friend of yours. And his dear, young son, too. Sad. FYI - I hate chemo Mondays. I hate that chemo Mondays are necessary. But I am thankful that caring people like you are there to administer not only possible life giving treatment but also encouragement, a smile, and a ray of hope. I have mixed emotions about summer coming to an end. I get the great running weather from August through November but wish we could hold on to the longer daylight hours. But we certainly are looking forward to some reprieve from the blazing heat. Glad to hear you are running on all cylinders again. That is great news that you are coming back to life! :-)

Alene Gone Bad said...

Thank you, Kathleen. This is one of those events that stops you in your tracks and makes you think about so many things...thankful for what we have and for every day.

Looking forward to the cool weather for sure. It is too bad we have to give up those daylight hours, but I also look forward to the privacy that night running brings.

I hope you continue to make improvements in your health and energy. And...looking forward to meeting you in person!