Scatter my ashes here...

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Magnolia Road Sunrise Run

Lately I've been talking about how much I enjoy running at night, and I don't do enough of it. I have also been getting slightly burned out on my usual running routes. I've been seeing way too much of the Power Trail and the Spring Creek Trail.

So when Shannon (aka Wheaties Boy) brought up the idea of organizing an early morning run on Magnolia Road above Boulder on Friday morning, starting at 4 am, other than the fact that I'd have to get up by 2:15 am and drive to Boulder, I was all over it.

Then I thought about it. I don't have to be at work until Monday, I have no important plans other than running some low key 5Ks this weekend, it's my easy week for running, and I can sleep whenever.

I knew Shannon would have to go to work and I'm not as fast as he is, but I really wanted the chance to run the entire 15 mile run, all the way to Peak-to-Peak Highway and back. I decided I would stick around until at least sunrise, so I could take some pictures. It sounded like some other people might run, too.

It's been a full moon and the weather has been perfect, not too cold, not too windy, and in Colorado, you need to take advantage of those times.

A few times I wondered, am I absolutely out of my mind?

No, this is a mini-adventure run. Yes getting up that early does border on the insane, but sleep is like money, and it ain't everything. It's a renewable resource and you can always find more of it, somewhere.

Magnolia Road has its own story, it's been written up in Runners' World, it's been written about in stories about the University of Colorado Buffaloes cross country and track teams, it's well-known as a training run for many of the elite atheletes who come to Boulder to train from all over the world.

I had never run on it, it's not a long enough run that I can really justify it most of the time, because it involves a two-plus hour round trip drive from Fort Collins, and the run itself is only 15 miles. It violates that rule in the stone tablets: Thou shalt not drive longer than thou shalt run. Something to that effect.

But I had plenty of reasons to do it, plus the fact that I am actively working on becoming less of a cold weather wimp, and running at 4 am through sunrise in the mountains of Colorado at 8700' in the winter is perfect for a cold weather wimp like me. I told Shannon I was going to wear 5 layers.

When we got there, it wasn't even that cold, but there was a stiff breeze when we started. It never got cold until right around sunrise, for about an hour, and then it warmed up again. So much for cold weather training.

So I got my stuff together, set my alarm for 2:15 a.m., just enough time to swill some coffee, take care of business, get dressed and drive to Bouldah. Shannon would have to go to work afterwards so we planned to drive separately.

As it turned out, I woke up at 12:30 am and couldn't go back to sleep, so at 1:30 I got up. Didn't get much done at that hour, but at least I wasn't rushed. I was so worried about getting up at the butt crack, and here it wasn't even the butt crack yet. It was the tail end of the full moon, and there were stars visible, partly cloudy skies and 32 degrees. Nice weather.

Driving down I caught up to Shannon in Longmont, we left only 2 minutes apart. I followed him up to the parking area. You have to drive through Boulder and up Canyon Blvd, up the canyon toward Nederland a little ways past the tunnel, and then turn left on Magnolia Road. It's about 4 miles to the top of a steep, steep climb where the pavement ends and there's a little parking area. Really small. Like, big enough for 2 cars.

It turned out to be just us two, no one else wanted to get up that early. As we got started, Shannon said, "You know, this really is borderline crazy." But those are always the best runs.

We got going, I brought an extra heavy shirt and wrapped it around my waist in case I needed another layer. I only wore one layer, though, plus my running vest. I was proud of that.

At first I was having a hard time seeing, my eyes weren't adjusting to the moonlight, which was filtered by the clouds. I brought my wimpy road headlamps. I love my little Petzl e-lites for road races like Badwater, or for running in town at night, but on dirt roads they aren't strong enough to illuminate the road surface. It was a lot of washboard at first, finally it evened out. Shannon stopped and switched headlamps with me after about a mile and a half. That was perfect. I needed my stronger headlamp, which I left at home.

Then we got going. I told him not to worry about me, we both had our phones and I didn't want to slow him down. There was very little traffic, only 3 cars passed me before the sky got light. The road is 7.5 miles each direction, and climbs about 750 feet each way on the rolling hills, low elevation is 8300', high is 8700'. The hills are not bad at all. Good for someone like me, who has slacked off on the hill training.

I took it super easy and slow, there are some good climbs but not very long. I thought about putting my music on but I was content to run under the moon without it. It seemed like it was taking me forever, but at the same time, I was enjoying the shadows across the road, the tall lodgepole pines and spruce and the bare branches of the aspen trees in the moonlight. The wind was barely noticeable.

Finally I saw Shannon running toward me. He was only 3/4 mile past the turnaround point. I thought I could hear the highway but didn't want to be disappointed if it was far away.

We talked for a few minutes and then he took off, I went to the turnaround, and at that point I started taking pictures. There was just barely a hint of light on the horizon.

Then I got serious about photo ops. It's more downhill on the way back, so I'd run in between photo ops. I took almost 200 pictures. First there were a few purple and pink streaks in the sky, then the oranges appeared, then different shades of lighter lavender, peach, and blue.

Eventually the sun came up and then there were more pictures to take, of the light illuminating the rocks, fences, aspen and other tree trunks.

I finally got back to my car around 7:45. I was starving.

I drove down into Boulder and stopped at Whole Foods to see if I could find something for breakfast real quick and get out of there. I encountered some really weird people in there. Whole Foods tend to attract a few oddballs anyway, and Boulder is full of them, so I must have picked the right place for people watching. Except I didn't care to watch people. I wanted food and to go home. I bought my food and went over to sit down at a little bar set up in front of the window overlooking the parking lot. There were about 10 chairs and only 3 people at the bar including me.

Suddenly the chair right next to me got pulled out, scraping across the floor and startling me. This woman, maybe 60 years old, fairly well-dressed, bundled up in a big sweater, jeans, and boots, sat down right next to me, while I was eating.

She got up real close, a lot closer than I prefer to have a stranger sitting, especially with my food open there. I looked over at her, and she gave me the evil eye, evil stare. She didn't say a thing. Then she got up and went somewhere, but left her bag sitting open on the bar.

Then she reappeared, this time, muttering to herself. She was speaking English, but I couldn't understand the words. I looked over at her again. Same evil stare.

I realy didn't want to introduce myself. I finished my food, but before I could finish, this man sat down on the other side of her. I don't think he knew her, but he sat down next to her the way she had done with me. I looked over at him for just a moment and saw that he was making some weird facial movements, like exaggerated chewing motions. He didn't say anything, just sat there chewing.

It was time to go. I tried to get out the door and the door wouldn't open. There were a few people behind me and they all tried the door, too. It was stuck. So I went over to the main entrance and left that way.

Very weird. I almost got stuck in the Boulder Whole Foods with some Zombies, I think. Perhaps the Zombie Apocalypse has come to Boulder already.

I drove home, body intact, and the Buffaloes greeted me at the door. I unpacked, got in the hot tub, went through my pictures, and took a nap.

A mini-adventure run, borderline crazy, close to home, well worth a few hours of lost sleep.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Work Hangover Wednesday: Twinkies, Pie, and Tempo

I am now the proud owner of a pair of....


Thanks to Felix, and his cats Oreo and Tiger, who left a little holiday-wrapped present on my doorstep the other day, which I found when I got home from work.

I survived the last two days of work plus a third morning today with a 7 am staff meeting. I couldn't just sit there and zone out, either, I had to give a presentation along with a coworker, plus I had another agenda item at the meeting that was mine, so I had to be fully awake. Always a challenge for me at 7 am.

It was super slow at work on Monday, probably due to an extension of the holiday weekend. But Tuesday everyone came charging back, and we had all the fun plus some...

I did bring my gigantic pumpkin pie to work on Monday, along with a can of whipped cream, and my coworkers helped me eat it. It was gone by 3 pm. Nurses are amazing eating machines.

I was pretty worthless today after the staff meeting, I came home, and despite Iris's efforts to convince me to get her outside, I couldn't do it. I needed food, and a nap. That was all I could handle. I got a long nap during the afternoon, and then I met Wheaties Boy at the usual time and place for our tempo run.

I did about 12.2 miles tonight, and I thought I was running pretty well, according to his Garmin we were hitting 8:07 pace for a lot of the run, but according to my calculations I only averaged 8:33 pace. Must have slowed down a bit somewhere. We did have a few hills this time, too, and Hail Mary hill was one of them.

Hail Mary hill is on south Lemay, north of Fossil Creek park, across from a big Catholic church, hence the name...

I felt pretty good on the run, but Hail Mary was a reminder that I haven't been doing hills. I will start again after the new year, when I'll be doing once or twice weekly runs up at Horsetooth. I might need to get my butt down and do some Hail Marys before then, though, I can tell I am pathetic on my hill strength.

Not much on the agenda this week. Just personal business I need to take care of, in between running. I should be getting a good upper body workout when I take the girls running, because I noticed tonight the sidewalks are now covered with Iris's favorite delicacy. The geese are back for the winter.

Snack time!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Raising The Hackles: Sexual Assault of a Runner

There are a few things that raise my hackles. Because I love running more than just about anything, well, maybe more than anything... anything that would threaten my running I would fight to the death. I honestly think I could kill for it.

So today when my fellow blogger Heather at 365 Days of Awesome posted this link on Facebook about her friend Elizabeth who was assaulted on her run in Mobile, Alabama, I could feel the little hairs on the back of my neck standing up.

Women are people. We know that.

Unfortunately there are men out there who think men are people, or full-fledged human beings, while women are not people, we are less. As if women are somehow inferior beings, that we are objects that are not fully up to the level of men. I won't even get into the power and control issue, or the criminal, sick psycho mind yet.

There is a rage that comes over me when I read a story like Elizabeth's, just like the rage I feel when someone suggests I curtail my running for safety purposes, or when a man suggests that somehow a woman shouldn't be out running alone.

Such rage is not logical, I know, but it absolutely infuriates me to think that he even thinks that. It just pisses me off that it even has to cross his mind.

One time in a race in the bottom of this canyon in New Mexico I was having a conversation with a guy who suggested just that. First I countered his argument, and I remember being so pissed off that I took off and ran far ahead of him, up the trail to the top of the canyon as fast as I could. I couldn't wait to get away from him.

Why would a man say a thing like that? Because he knows there are men out there who think like that. He's probably heard them talk about women and realizes these sick bastards really do exist. Maybe more of them than I'd like to imagine exist. Or maybe he was one of those sick bastards himself.

I am glad Elizabeth wasn't hurt worse physically. And she sounds like she is strong and has a good attitude toward life. She says she isn't going to let him take running away from her. But you cannot minimize what happened to her today. It is traumatic and that guy touched her body against her will. I want to kill him. But I think justice will only truly be served if he is locked up for the rest of his life. Take his freedom away, because he has taken her freedom away.

Whether a man gropes you or forces you to have sex with him, or whatever in's an attack, it's a power play, it's violent, and the effects are damaging and long-lasting. It's psychologically traumatic and that is what is most difficult to heal from.

It's easy to blow it off if some asshole is leering at you and doesn't physically touch you, but it's still enough to send chills down your spine and remind you of your safety being at risk. You feel like prey.

I feel like I would kill, like I could kill, that predator. I think the rage I have would allow me to kill him. But I think anyone who impacts another person's life like that does not deserve to have their own freedom. I don't think killing them is right or just. I think justice would be having that person locked up for the rest of their life, because the impact of their action will affect the person they assaulted for the rest of their life.

Not that I would be able to kill. At 5'1" and about 120 pounds I'm not exactly at a size or strength advantage. But the force of my rage I think, if I were able to somehow gain advantage, could kill a person. Instead of killing him I might surgically alter him instead. Remove the thing he thinks is his weapon, first of all, but then I think his arms should be cut off, and legs too. Probably everything but his torso and head should be removed. I'd do it myself.

The depth of my rage doesn't even make sense to me. I feel it, and I'm not sure that any other topic has the ability to awaken those feelings in me. How dare you, anyone, take my freedom away.

I don't feel like doing violence to anyone really, except when those hormones get a little wacky and people hang pizza ads on my front door, but this is one thing where I feel I could truly hurt someone.

Elizabeth brings up a lot of good points at the end of her post. I'd like to emphasize that being aware of your surroundings is so important. One of the things I see people doing these days that drives me crazy, that I see a lot of women doing, since the iPhone and all those similar gadgets are out, is texting or talking on the phone while out walking, that is the perfect opportunity for someone to take advantage...

I'm guilty of some of those things myself. The night I saw the little boy on the sidewalk is a perfect example. I was out by myself, at night, visible, running in a familar place, my neighborhood. I don't normally go at the same time or the same route but there could easily have been a creep out there who recognized me. I didn't have my cell phone that night, either. I left Dennis a note, he knew when I should be home and where I was going. But when I'm out at night I should have my cell phone.

When I run alone at night, I do not wear music for that exact reason, I do want to be aware of my surroundings. I love to run at night, and I love to run far, and I like to listen to music under the night sky. I don't do it as much as I'd like to, for the reasons of safety and vulnerability.

When I can find a running partner at night, it's awesome, and my friends Doug and Paul and Shannon have run with me at night when I had to get those long runs in that went beyond daylight. I love the safety of a race, when I'm on the track or a race course and with other people. I can put my music on and zone out, and I don't have to worry. It's heaven, running under the moon or stars to music.

But it pisses me off that I am not as free as a man is. Not that men couldn't be assaulted too. But its less likely to happen, because they are not seen as vulnerable objects to the degree women are.

Running in open areas, in the daytime, even where there are other people around, I've been harassed by creeps, construction workers, and dumbasses working on roofs. I don't take it lightly. I don't take it at all, and anyone who gives me shit, I am going to find a way to hold them accountable. I just don't put up with it. I got some construction guys fired a couple of years back, right before Christmas, and I don't feel bad about it one bit. Let them explain to their wives and daughters why they don't have a paycheck.

If they're construction workers, get the name of the company with the contract, and the project manager. Believe me, it's worth the time. If they're street workers, get a hold of the office of the city or municipality. They'll listen. Do it the same day it happens.

Every woman who allows that shit to go on, or allows her son to become one of those bozos, is contributing to the problem. You just have to have that zero tolerance, back in your face attitude or it won't ever stop. I know how to give it back in Spanish too, because pendejos don't always speak English. Would you talk to your daughter/mother/sister like that? Habla con tu hija/madre/hermana asi?

Be safe. It makes me angry that women have this additional burden that we have to run with. Don't put up with bullshit, fight back with everything you have. The roads and trails belong to us, too.

Black Friday Weekend Runs

Two good runs this weekend wrapped up another 90 mile week. This picture is of the historic Strauss Cabin, along the Poudre River on the east side of town near I-25. It burned down a few years ago, and this is what's left of it. I stopped there halfway through my run on Friday.

I always like to run on the east side of town this time of year, for the view of the Front Range with snow on the peaks. My plan for this weekend was to do 30 miles Friday and 20 on Saturday, a good back-to-back long workout.

I decided to do a run on the roads for the 30 miler. I started the day off by running a couple of miles with Iris, Isabelle didn't want to go in the morning. I brought Iris back home afterward and started my run.

It was a perfect day, cool, sunny, with almost no wind. I got the first 25 miles in no problem, but ran out of food and water once, necessitating a stop at 7-11. I hate to spend money on Black Friday. But I only spent $3.05 on some water and a little package of mini-chocolate donuts. I guess all that talk about Twinkies stuck with me. That's what sounded good at the time.

I went home after 25 miles and made a grilled cheese sandwich, changed into dry clothes, and was preparing to go out again, but I was getting the staredown from Isabelle.

And Iris, too.

As I ate, I noticed they parked themselves strategically in the path to the front door, and in front of the closet where we keep the leashes.

I put their leashes on, and I now have four holes in my body where they stared right through me while I tried to finish my sandwich.

We went out for a couple of miles, enough to Isabelle's satisfaction, then I brought them home and finished the last few miles on my own. I ended up with 32.3 miles for the day. It was slow and relaxed, the non-Buffalo miles took me 5 hours and 15 minutes. I felt good at the end.

When I got home, the girls were waiting for me. Isabelle on the couch, and Iris with her hedgehog.

Surprisingly I felt good enough to cook dinner and go out to buy some beer. The beer tasted awesome. I got a mixed 6 pack of New Belgium Frambozen, Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, and Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat. Don't know why but those flavors sounded good after my run. The Frambozen was the best of the three, in my opinion. Dennis helped me...

This morning I woke up feeling surprisingly good, and I decided to do my run in the cemetery. I wanted everything to be close by in case I ended up in a death march, and I didn't want to have to carry anything. The cemetery loop is 0.98 miles, and I ran 20 1/2 laps of it to get the full 20 in. Yes, obsessive.

I ran each successive 5 mile segment faster than the previous one. By the end I was doing 9 minute miles and they didn't feel hard. Not bad for the end of two long weeks.

I went home and soaked in the hot tub, ate and drank, and I'm looking forward to a nap, and one more day off work before life goes back to "normal".

Running plans: I'm taking tomorrow off!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run

This morning was the annual 4 mile Thanksgiving Day run in downtown Fort Collins, and the morning turned out to be just about perfect running weather. It was breezy, partly cloudy, and maybe 48 degrees at the start.

It didn't seem nearly as crowded as it usually is, I'm wondering if the turnout was a lot lower this year. There were about 2000 runners.

I woke up 3 minutes before my alarm went off, drank a quick cup of coffee, and got dressed to go downtown. It was incredibly easy to park this year. After warming up, I decided to get brave and run in my fast shoes.

My Brooks Adrenalines...

I looked for people I know from the running club and lined up at the start with the ones who were going to run close to my pace. I was shooting for sub-30 minutes, I wanted keep it under 7:30 pace. My legs felt tired after last week's 90 miles, and 30+ over the last 2 days including tempo on Tuesday night.

I went out and held myself back, which was a good thing because my first mile split was 7:16. Second mile, 7:28. During the third mile, I was HURTING. My legs were burning so badly I thought they were going to fall off under me. I consciously tried to hold back so I'd be able to take advantage of the fast final mile down Mountain Avenue. My third mile split was 7:45. Uh-oh. I dug into my burn and used gravity as much as I could, and crossed the finish line in 29:39. 7:10 last mile. Not bad.

After the finish I saw a number of running club people and we all talked for a while, I ran into Shannon (Wheaties Boy) who was looking for his wife in the crowd, and I went upstairs in the Beach House Grill to look at results, and found out I'd placed third in my age group. Holy crap! I won a HUGE pumpkin pie. Bigger than my butt.
photo credit: Shannon Price

I had to go because I had to be ready to go into work, in case they need me to come in. So my friend Steve Cathcart found my pie and gave it to me because I couldn't wait around for the awards.

Mini-rant time: I had to go since I am on call for work today. I got downstaffed, which means it wasn't busy enough that they needed me, but I still have to call in every 4 hours to see if they still need me. Yeah, I know. Bullshit. We don't even get on call pay for this. I resent it. Very much. It's the principle that bugs me, not the money.

I think it's shitty that even on a holiday they won't compensate you for being on-call, which is what this amounts to. If they can't tell you yes or no then you're on call. It sends a message that nurses are not respected or valued by the HMFICs. Which is sad, I think, because my employer has always done a good job of treating their nurses well, until some recent changes where we've basically merged with several other hospitals.

I get tired of staff nurses always having to be the ones to absorb the cutbacks. We're the ones who work in the trenches. We're the ones who wipe butt, clean up body fluids, and comfort families and people who are dying on Thanksgiving Day and other holidays. I don't see any publicized efforts to cut back on management perks and pay. Maybe they have, but we haven't been told about it. Certainly uppermost management haven't told us about any reductions in their pay, benefits, or bonuses. But then, we are the little people, we nurses. We are pawns, we are scum, and we are the true turkeys this Thanksgiving. But what else is new in the world of nursing. End of rant.

But, that said, I am truly grateful for all the good in my life this Thanksgiving though...I am lucky to have a job, and my husband, family, my beautiful Buffaloes, and good health, and the ability to run, and all my friends, runners and non-runners alike.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Squarepants and Curl Lips

This is the curl lip. Anyone familiar with Australian Shepherds has seen it. It means, "I'm watching you, and I can't figure out what your problem is."

The problem, in this case, is that I was preparing to eat people food in front of her. I was so hungry at the end of my run tonight!
Today I did an easy six mile run in the morning, after a trip to King Soopers to get dog food, dog treats, and a few people things. I wanted to beat the madness of the next few days. I hate grocery shopping around the holidays.

Food is such an obsession around the holidays, worse than it usually is, there's so much of it, and it's so bad. It's a giant obesification ritual. Just being in the grocery store makes you want to go on a hunger strike. I wish people would find something else to do with themselves than reach for food, put it in their mouth, gulp it down, and repeat until comatose.

Back to my run, I did some strides this morning, for the first time since before my race in Oklahoma. Last week I wanted to do them but my mind couldn't force my body to do any. But today, it wasn't too bad. I managed to get the kinks out, I felt a little rusty at first, but I think my muscles are starting to remember how to do it.

Then tonight, I ran with Wheaties Boy, the tempo run. I didn't expect much, but I felt surprisingly good and we ended up with 11.2 miles at 8:19 per mile average pace. Not bad. It's my first decent run since the race. I felt good and it didn't feel like that hard of an effort. I had no idea we were running that pace.

Tomorrow will be an easy day, maybe a few strides, but I'll be running the 4 mile turkey trot on Thursday morning before work.
Tonight, I put my squarepants on, and I'm relaxing, with a nice endorphin high, hanging with the girls. It feels good to run like a runner again. The only problem with running races, is that you have to recover. Three weeks felt like forever!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What The Flock?

Today was a perfect fall day here in northern Colorado. I love November days like this. The light is so perfect, the days are short and the shadows last most of the day. There's a yellowish glow to everything.

Today was one of those days, and I did a 20 mile run at the lakes. The geese and seagulls are back, and there were thousands of them on the water today. There were times when the sky was black with so many geese. All day I could hear the birds, over the strong afternoon wind.

It was a slow run, I took it easy, and there were so many pictures to take! I didn't feel like pushing the pace. That's how I felt all week, didn't feel like going fast. I did the miles, and that was all. It was a nice day to wrap up a 90 mile week.

Yesterday registration opened for the Delano Park 12 Hour run in Alabama next spring, and I signed up. The entry fee is a bargain, $35.00. Unbelievable. I am getting my butt in gear for that, it will be my first big race of next year.

This week is Thanksgiving, and I'm working the holiday this year. I'll be able to run the Turkey Trot in the morning, but then I have to be at work at noon.

Not much other news, it's a low key Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the pictures.