Scatter my ashes here...

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pogo Into the New Year!

Final run of 2013. Ten miles, super easy. My legs are tired. I took yesterday off and they're still tired.

Looking back at this year, it had it's moments. Good ones and not so good ones, but the sum of it all was really good. I can definitely say I am happier today than I was most of the year.

I started the year puking and ended it pogoing. Literally started it out at Across the Years in the medical tent puking into a trash can. And then some stuff happened in the middle, until I got on my pogo stick today, after my 10 mile run. And that about sums up my year.

You can see me pogo sticking with the Buffaloes here. I did this selfie video of pogosticking because another runner I know from the east coast, Christian, posted a video of himself today on Facebook, on his new pogo stick. It inspired me.

This morning I took Iris out for a couple of miles and then brought her home. Iris was enjoying the goose poop...Isabelle usually waits until later in the day to get going, so I went out to finish up on my own. About a mile into my own run, I ran into a friend out walking her dog, and we talked for a while.

It ended up being about health care politics and generally awful things but it was good to see her and hear some good news, which is that her husband, who has cancer, is feeling better right now.

After I got going again I ran into another longtime running friend and I ran fast with him for about a half mile while we talked, that is, he talked and I gasped, and then we parted ways. He runs the pace I should be able to run, but cannot sustain, due to the big truck tire between my waist and hips.

Plus I need to save something for tomorrow's 5K. I already can tell it will hurt. The strategy there will be to hang on for dear life until I can collapse at the finish line. Please don't do CPR. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing when I die than running.

I usually scoff at New Years resolutions. This year, I am in serious need of following through with my own, especially the first one. I am sick of hearing myself whine about how slow I am with all this extra weight. I have great leg speed underneath all this lead.


1. Lose at least 10 of the 9 pounds I packed on in the past 8 months. Preferably 15 pounds. I'd like to lose most of it by my birthday in March. That means I need to get serious and I might not be so fun to be around for the next few weeks.

2. Regain adequate ultra speed in my legs without injuring myself.

3. PR at the 24 hour timed event.

4. Figure out what I'm going to do for my birthday theme run. I only have 10 more weeks!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Post-Christmas Goodies

The past few days have been quiet but satisfying in their own peaceful way.

I am looking forward to 2014, there's been so much stress and unrest in my life this past year. So much energy goes into the fight. I'm not complaining, because there are some things worth fighting for.

The Badwater issue is concerning, but I'm not thinking about it too much, there isn't much I can do right now. I wrote my letters, I'll stay on top of the news and do what needs to be done to support Chris and his events.

As far as healthcare problems, they are part of the larger problem of unchecked corporate power, and that is what needs to be fought. The nursing battles are partially due to the corporate power-mongering but also the establishment dinosaurs of the nursing profession. I can only put so much energy into that.

Maybe what needs to happen is that nursing as a profession implodes as a result of the lack of a support structure. Sad but maybe that's what needs to happen. Nurses are the glue that hold health care together. Only the people in power don't recognize that. It's all so incredibly frustrating, as a person who doesn't do bullshit, especially corporate bullshit, well.

I am going to focus on getting my own work up and off the ground, and running. And I don't have the patience for the establishment culture! Life is short. I need to concentrate on doing good for those I can empower and help, and enjoy it.

I just feel like I need to back off from the fight and focus on my own priorities at this time. Not that I don't think there are causes worthy of supporting. I do, and I still support them. I just need a little break from fist-clenching.

We aren't big on holidays around here. We did go down on Christmas day to visit Dennis's mom, and we took her out to eat at a Mexican restaurant. Just hung out and she showed us pictures of a gazillion grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It's weird that we fit in the grandparents generation now. We are great-aunt and uncle to a lot of kids on his side of the family. So many, I've lost count and can't keep up!

The weather has been spectacular, in the 50s and sunny, the ice is melting enough to clear off some of the sidewalks so they aren't so treacherous, which is a nice break to have at mid-winter. I have some new shoe spikes I'm wanting to use and review as soon as we get our next snowfall.

I've backed off on work for a while, there isn't too much I can do during the holidays because everything is shut down or people I need to talk with are on vacation. So I'm enjoying the break.

I've spent a little time in the afternoons hot tubbing, drinking wine, or cooking, and drinking beer. None of which I should be doing, but I will get it in gear. I'm as guilty of holiday indulgence as anyone else. And I will get my butt in gear at the first stroke of 2014. I'll probably have been asleep for two or three hours by then, but you get the idea.

Tonight I am cooking and hanging out with the girls while waiting for Dennis to come home from work. I've had some great workouts the past two weeks. My legs are tired constantly, but it's a good tired. I've been hitting the weights, in the pool, on the bike, getting my core work done, and running, of course. The running mileage has been low to moderate, somewhere around 35 to 50 miles a week, but I'm making progress.

I'm searching for a couple of good ultras in late March and early August in the neighborhood of 50 miles-12 hours-100K for training runs. Some of the ultra calendars haven't been updated yet.

The other things that have happened are that my book review of the Summit Seeker was picked up by an online publication from the U.K., Barefoot Running. It's worth checking this publication out, really well-done.

And they re-opened the tunnel that connects the east and west sides of town along the Spring Creek Trail, which is a bike path in Fort Collins that I often run during the winter months. I went for a run the day after Christmas and discovered something new. A memorial bench of a cyclist I knew in town, who passed away last November. The bench sits along the Spring Creek Trail.

I think those benches are the coolest thing. They are a such a great way to memorialize someone. I sat down for a while and could vividly recall his face and his voice. Now I know there will always be someone cheering for me as I run past that spot.

Over the coming week I plan to do one or two local races, neither of which will be anything impressive. There is the New Years Day run at Runners Roost and the Tortoise and Hare 8K next weekend with the running club. Get my butt in gear and start moving!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Conspiracy Theories and Alien Landings...

This was an interesting Christmas for Badwater fans. Many of us spent the holiday working on letters and correspondence to save the Badwater race from possible extinction.

The story on Badwater is that there is a circulating petition, a Facebook page, and numerous conversations, blogposts, tweets and other posts in an effort to write letters and e-mails to interested parties. I sent 7 such letters and e-mails myself and signed the petition, for what that's worth.

I have seen some wild conspiracy theories starting in some of the conversations on social media. I would like to see these stop, they don't help the situation.

People, don't delude yourselves, it's not a left-wing conspiracy, or a right-wing conspiracy, or radiation levels, or a secret government coverup of alien hostage-taking, or whatever people want to imagine.

Public safety is a legitimate concern. My own personal take on this is that when it comes to public safety, I'm not so convinced of that argument, because it seems like whatever happens in the government has to do with money and power first, and public safety takes a back seat to that.

I'm not entirely convinced this is much more than a power-wielding move either within the park itself, the NPS agency, or the Department of the Interior, that is not transparent to the public. And it has nothing to do with either party occupying the majority.

But that is my own personal opinion. Regardless, we must play nice and endure the process. The more numerous, credible and literate our arguments are, the better.

I already received a canned response to my e-mail to the Park Superintendent. It is the same response that they posted on their website. Until Congress reconvenes in January I doubt there will be any more information.

I encourage people to write letters and send e-mails, letters are probably more effective at this point, because all you'll get is a return email of the same canned response. Write the following people including California's Senators and their district Representative in Congress. But write to your own representatives too!

If you can convince a few of your friends (as many as five, but ten would be even better!) in your own local area to write your own representatives, they will take notice. It doesn't take more than a few letters to get them interested. Just make sure your letters are to the point, not offensive, not angry, and include your personal reasons why this issue is important to you.

Here are the addresses to begin with:

Kathleen Billings, Park Superintendent
Death Valley National Park
PO Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328

Senator Dianne Feinstein
331 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Representative Col. Paul Cook (Ret.)
8th Congressional District
1222 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

Mr. Jon Jarvis, Director
National Park Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Ms. Christine Lehnertz, Regional Director
National Park Service - Pacific West Division
333 Bush Street, Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94104-2828

The Facebook Page is "Save Sporting Events in Death Valley National Parks". Here is a link to the petition.

Thank you for any efforts you make on behalf of the Badwater community.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Big Freeze on Badwater

The new superintendent of Death Valley National Park decided to do a safety review of all events in the park. This includes cycling and running events, including the Badwater 135.

So there will be no Badwater on the original course or anywhere in the park in 2014. The event will happen this year, 2014, on an alternate course near Lone Pine, until the National Park Service completes their review...

See the Adventure Corps statement about this.

What is sad about the decision to do a safety review is that it was not based on any particular incident. In a time when so many people worship the couch and their cell phones, why do we have to make it difficult for those who want to move and experience the landscape, fresh air, natural beauty, and push themselves to their limits?

The race has supported the Death Valley Natural History Association, pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, supported numerous charities, and become a classic of sorts in the ultrarunning community. Chris Kostman, the race director, has maintained a stellar relationship with the government entities involved, along with his safety record.

Chris takes pains to ensure that runners are safe, enforces the most stringent rules I've ever seen in any ultra, and provides a full group of trained medical staff to be available throughout the race course. He doesn't skimp on volunteers. He runs it as a responsible business, not out of greed, but out of respect: for the park, the regulations, the runners, the sport, the environment, the experience.

Anyway, I cannot say enough good things about the Badwater 135 and I sincerely hope that the decision of the Park Service will be to allow this event to continue into the future.

I am glad I had the chance to do it when I did. I am also glad I had the chance to be on the medical team for 3 years and be a small part of the reason for the success of the race.

I hope they will consider the evidence, and see how well this race has been managed, and decide to grant permits in the future without making it too difficult to hold the event in terms of expense and regulations, and other hoops to jump through.

Never take anything for granted.

There are many growing pains for the sport of ultrarunning. You can't expect things to always stay the same, the sport has evolved and exploded, which I see as mostly a good thing. But we need to remember the impact we have on natural areas, trails, wildlife, other humans, and so on.

In a time when so many things are influenced by politics, power and money, ultrarunning usually offers a reprieve from all that. But that's not to say those factors don't hover closely overhead.

I encourage my blog readers to write in support of Badwater 135's future.

Please scroll all the way down on the page I linked to at the top of this post to see the list of entities to write to: California's Senators, Congressman from the appropriate district, and the Secretary of the Interior.

If you feel strongly about the future of this event, especially if you have experienced Death Valley's beauty, please read what has been written on the website to lay out your arguments in favor of the future of the event, and include what this event means to you, how it has added value to your life and those around you.

Thank you.

The text of my letter in support of the Badwater event can be seen here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Accidental Long Run

I really wasn't planning on going very far today. I had to take Dennis to work this morning because he's having his truck worked on and I decided to use the opportunity to run at the lakes since they are across the road from where he works. I originally planned on about 10 miles but I packed extra water and a few gels and Lara bars. Nothing exciting, just a few calories in case I went longer.

I started out and was feeling pretty good. I kept the pace slow but steady. Each lap is about 3.28 miles according to my GPS. After 3 laps I was feeling good, and decided to keep going. It was warm in the sun but cold in the shade. The temperature got up to around 40. After a few laps the mud started to appear and I kept having to scrape my shoes off after a few short sections. Other than that the conditions were nice.

On my 5th lap I started to feel really good, my 5th and 6th laps were the fastest. I considered calling it quits at 20 miles, after 6 laps and some change, but I still had a couple more gels, plenty of fluids, and I was feeling good, so I decided to keep going. I did one more lap feeling good and decided what the hell, go for an 8th lap, which would give me 26 miles and about 5 hours of running time. Perfect for a long easy run.

The last lap is where I started to feel it, I had to do some walk breaks but I was motivated by seeing a huge bird perched in this one big cottonwood on the edge of the lake. I've seen bald eagles up there before, and as I rounded the southeast corner and started heading toward the bird, I hoped it wouldn't take off before I could see it up close.
I'm not even sure what kind of bird this is. I am terrible about recognizing birds. I know owls and eagles and that's about it. I also know pelicans, seagulls and geese because those are the ones we have the most of around here. I took a few pictures when I got to the tree, which was only about a half mile from where I finished up. But the bird took off, and it had about a 4 foot wingspan. Big.

I finished that last lap and I was at 26.3 miles, exactly 5 hours in. Perfect- an ultra, technically. I'm back. My legs ache like hell a few hours later, but it was my longest run since June and I guess it was the wake up call realizing I have a 50K in a few weeks and I'd like to get through it without a death march.

This will eventually call for hot tub and beer. Except right now I'm too hungry to even think about that. I took the girls for a little walk to shake out my legs after I got home, and it's getting cooler outside, so I think our 60 degree sunshine is gone for a while.
For now I can sit around watching the girls groom each other, and not have to do a thing...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Under a Full Moon

Last night was the annual Fort Collins Running Club Holiday Lights Run & Potluck event. There was a good turnout and delicious food. It was fun to be around the runners again. We did a short run through a neighborhood with some beautiful light displays under a full moon. I cooked a vegan rice dish with veggies and garbanzo beans. It turned out good.

I didn't take any pictures during the run because I was busy trying not to slip on patches of ice! We've had some warm weather, temperatures in the 60s, and everything is melting but once the sun goes down, it freezes again.

When I woke up this morning the moon was setting over the woman cave and the sky was turning shades of pink.

The holidays are an odd time for me. After years of always working on the holidays, I'm not quite sure what to do! There's plenty of work on my business to do, but it's not a great time to be out talking to people because everyone is so distracted by the holidays. So all that gets put off until January. I guess that means I can take it somewhat easy, but I've been chipping away at the business website and my studying for certifications.

On the running front, I'm excited to say that I signed my contract for 2014 for the Pearl Izumi team again. I need to get my butt back in gear. Last night as people were asking me if I have any races lined up, I had to say no, because I really don't, even though I will soon. But it hit me that Pemberton Trail 50K is right around the corner, I made my airline reservations the other day, and I need to at least get some 20 milers in, which I haven't even done yet!!

Workouts are going okay, still sluggish in my pace, but I've been consistent with the weight training and core work, which is important. I need to rebuild my aerobic base before I can start pushing myself, and I need to be sure my hamstring is ready. I feel like I'm in this weird zone...can't race, can't really train for anything specific.

Monday I did my longest swim so far this year, 2000 meters, and I always feel like those young lifeguards at the pool are watching me thrash around like a dork in the water, they probably thing, this old chick sucks at swimming! They usually sit there and yawn, I think it's too early for them to be awake, it's only a bunch of old farts who get up that early to swim.

I did get half my hair chopped off the other day out of frustration with the heavy mop I've been carrying around for so long. Now it has some layers and I think the gray looks better that way. It needs to settle down a bit- it's wild and can't be pulled back into a ponytail anymore. It needs to grow out some before I tuck it into a running cap.

I could hardly believe that I wore out a pair of running shoes, my mileage has been so low, it's been forever since I replaced a pair. I'll be curious to see what kind of new models Pearl Izumi comes up with this year. I am looking for more motion control. You can't get more comfortable than the H3s though.

As soon as it snows again, I have a job to do. I was contacted by someone from Kahtoola, the company that makes Microspikes, and I'm going to try their product and write a review soon. We'll see how they compare to YakTrax.

I decided to go see Helen again this week, seems like the Bowenwork really helped my neck and I want to give it a few more sessions to see if I can get it loosened up even more. It would help my swimming too, because at the far point of my range of motion it hurts a little when I turn my head.

So that's what's happening in my world. A few exciting things, but I'm really looking forward to the mental hurdle of January 1, when it will be spring and I'm ready to move forward in the new year.

Monday, December 16, 2013

F is for flashbacks, W is for weirdness

A flashback to healthcare...

"When an organization ceases to look at itself critically it no longer has the credibility it once had..."
This is a quote from a nurse.

He was speaking in the context of a hospital's Magnet Status not being held to any accountability standards. But it applies to many things, and it struck me personally tonight when I read it.

It is definitely the essence of why I left the job I did, and sums up why I don't want anything to do with corporate nursing anymore.

In fact, it sums up my non-existent exit interview. I tried to get one, but they informed me that they no longer give exit interviews. When I asked why, the human resources person could not tell me. She said she didn't know. I guess they are uninterested in improvement or change. Which was pretty obvious to me anyway, especially over the past couple of years.

Nurses don't have any protection, and physicians are rapidly figuring out what it feels like to be a nurse. It's pretty amazing and mind-blowing to find out that people who are responsible for keeping you or your family member alive- the most important job in the world as far as you're concerned- have no employment protections, no protection from retaliation or whistleblowing when they find and report a threat to patient safety, no backing to ensure that safe working conditions are provided by their employers, and so on...

Oh yeah, and I found this too...Amanda Trujillo continues her battle with the Arizona State Board of Nursing. The State Board is on a mission to destroy her. She will not be destroyed. Even if they strip her of her license, they will lose the war.

I made my first trip back to the world of the Cancer Center last Thursday night. The Survivorship Advisory Council (which includes me) had the opportunity to tour the construction site and sign the beams as the building is constructed. When I got the invitation I had a mixture of feelings. I really WANTED to tour the site, and I really WANTED to see most of the people in the group, in fact, all of them, with the exception of my former boss. But she's not my boss anymore and I really didn't give a shit what she did or thought, because she's been avoiding me for over a year and I didn't expect anything different.

I needed to do this to break the ice, to step back in and at least get a feel for things. I wasn't quite sure how it would feel. When you leave a place and there are unresolved feelings, you wonder if you're seen as the enemy. I know that I'm really not seen as the enemy as I've had an enthusiastic response and reception from everyone I've told about my new business.

But I truly felt like I might be crossing into enemy territory, just from the feeling I had from the cold reception I've had from my old boss, but she's always been like that. She did say hi to me, a very fake greeting, overly friendly, and that was the only thing she said all night.

After that she avoided my eye contact. Before I went in there I thought I might attempt a conversation, but she managed to cling onto someone else each time there was an opening and started an overly involved conversation, complete with dramatic body language and turning her back. I decided it wasn't worth it. I feel so much better, much freer being there when I'm not tied to the organization.

That was the only weirdness I experienced. Everyone else is really nice and supportive of what I'm doing, and they understand that it is a community effort. I signed the wall a couple of times, I wrote "bless the nurses" on a beam in the infusion area and I wrote an inscription on another wall in memory of a friend's wife who died from cancer.

While I was there, I also ran into one of the executives, no longer at the hospital, but is in a different branch of the same overarching organization. He greeted me as he always did, very friendly, and genuine. I quietly mentioned that I am no longer with the organization. He looked surprised, said he wishes me well in whatever I'm doing, and told me to stay in touch. I will let him know what I'm doing in the near future.

It doesn't have to be this way. The Pope is onto something...

Back to running.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Finally, Mud!

Records fell at Desert Solstice 24 Hour yesterday, most notably Zach Bitter who broke the American men's 100 mile and 12 hour world records, and Pam Smith who broke the women's world 100 mile track record. Several age group records were broken too. That's a race I'd love to run in, with all the competition. I need to do quite a bit of work before I'd be able to jump in that one, but it's not impossible. Food for thought.

Here in Fort Collins, it's finally warmed up enough for slight melting to occur and that means mud. We go through this constant thaw/freeze cycle all winter here, so it's nothing new, but it's notable because lately it hasn't gotten warm enough to thaw. This is the first of the mud. With temperatures predicted to hit the 60s by the middle of this coming week, we might be seeing a lot more of this.

Yesterday I felt sore from the Bowenwork and I went out to run, but aborted the attempt after a mile and a half. My legs felt like bricks. They were tired and they hurt. So I walked back home and decided to call it a day, I probably wasn't ready to jump back in yet after being sick and all.

This is Day 3 after Bowenwork and I woke up this morning, my neck felt much better, I have more pain-free range of motion on both sides. My legs felt much better today than yesterday. I managed 10 miles easy, running in the neighborhoods nearby and around Warren Lake.

I think the Bowenwork is something I'll have to try a few more times because I think it has the potential to help me a lot with my neck problem, and who knows what else? I could feel my hamstring where she worked on it, but not while I was running- just while sitting.

Thirty miles for the week. That's less than I hoped to get but it's enough for where I am.

A while back I mentioned that our hot tub finally died, the old mammoth dinosaur in the back yard.

We found a new hot tub at a price we could not resist, and decided to go ahead and splurge.

Iris was The Enforcer, she barked for a solid two hours while they moved the old hot tub out and brought the new one in.

Here is the new hot tub, much more compact and easier to get in and out of...

Iris was quite proud of herself. She scared those guys away from her backyard and they left the new hot tub.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bowenwork and The Three Ws

The past few days have been sort of a blur. Getting back into my workouts, I'm doing pretty well, I lucked out with that cold as it never became anything more than a head cold, and it's all but gone except for an occasional drip...

So far I put in 20 miles and expect to do another 20 miles this weekend, which will give me 40 for the week. I avoided the pool again this week, waiting until I am completely clear of snot. I did jump on the bike and spin for a while, and I've been doing weights again. I really didn't miss much as a result of the cold. My legs were very tired, though, probably from the combination of the weight workouts along with running.

Yesterday I tried something new...Bowenwork. It's a form of body work that originated in Australia and involves gentle manipulation of the fascia around the muscles. It's done on a massage table but is very different from massage.

I have this chronic neck and trapezius area tightness, that gets aggravated by stress and if I overdo it on the weights. Sometimes it can get so bad that I can't turn my neck to look over my shoulder. I find that regular massage makes it worse.

My friend Helen is from Australia and she is an accredited Bowenwork practitioner. She's a registered nurse, too. I met Helen when I was a new nurse and we both worked in ICU. Eventually we both transferred to other units in the hospital, but we stayed in touch. She's a warm-hearted person with a great sense of humor and as down to earth and genuine as anyone can be. She is one of the good ones...

I have been curious about what she does and yesterday I went over to her studio and she worked on me. My neck has been acting up lately with the weight workouts, and my hamstring is in the process of being worked hard- I've been doing a lot of strengthening and started running hills again.

I went into her studio and she had me fill out an intake form with my health history, we discussed my problem areas, and she had me get onto the table, fully clothed except for anything that might get in the way: extra layers of clothing, jeans, or anything preventing full range of motion for my hamstrings. She covered me with a blanket so I'd be warm, and she began.

It's not like a massage at all. She focuses on a specific area and you know she's in there, but it's not painful, just some pressure on the spot. She works both sides of the same trouble spot, has you do a mild stretch, and then she covers you up again and leaves the room for several minutes. She doesn't say much, she's just focused on finding the right spot. She worked my upper back, lower back, and legs.

After she leaves, you're lying there on the table. I was paying attention to what was going on in my body. I could feel the spot where she worked and a sensation of heat spreading out from the exact spot, but the heat fanned out several inches from it. Then it faded, and by then she came back in the room, and started working on another trouble spot. She was in and out of the room at east a dozen times during the session. First I was face-down on the table, then I was face up.

The interesting thing was, it was at least as relaxing, probably more so, than a massage. In the time when she was out of the room, I focused on the sensation in the area where she worked, and found myself falling asleep because of the warmth and relaxation effect. After she was done, she allowed me to lie there, I was half asleep and only barely aware of her coming into the room the last few times.

Afterwards I asked her what was going on, and how it works physiologically, because I am a nerd and need to know these things. There is no exact, defined explanation of how it works, but there is definitely activation of the neuromuscular junction, the fascia, the stretch receptors and proprioceptors, such as the spindle cells and the Golgi tendon organs. The brief pressure on the area being worked followed by the several minute break allows your brain to process what's going on with your body and begin to make the adjustments at the soft tissue level.

As she worked on me, the injured hamstring didn't bother me, but the other side- the non-injured side- was extremely tight, probably from compensating.

When I was done, Helen told me about the three Ws: water, walk, and wait. Sounds like something I say to the Buffaloes!

It's important to drink lots of water, which is always a good idea anyway, to go for a gentle walk afterward, which makes sense to me, since it would get the circulation going and get the muscle fibers to start responding the way they would normally, after making the adjustments in your posture and soft tissues. The third W, wait, means that it will take time. She said I might be sore the second day, but by the third day things should feel much better and I would feel a difference.

She also told me not to run my shoulder or any of the area she worked on, I was already doing that because of the soreness in my traps. So I stopped. I followed her advice.

On the walk with the dogs I could feel my hamstring, the one that was injured but didn't bother me during the session. But I could already turn my neck much better than I could at the beginning of our session. The rest of the day I felt tired, similar to the way I feel after a long massage. Relaxed, and fuzzy in the brain.

This morning I can feel all the places where she worked on me. They aren't painful, but they are sore when I pay attention to them. My neck is still moving better and I have more pain-free range of motion on both sides. I can still feel the pain at a certain point when I turn my head to the left, but it goes almost to my shoulder pain-free on that side, which is much better than it was yesterday.

I'm curious to see what happens over the next few days, and I'll follow up in another post. Tomorrow would be day 3, so I'll see how things feel then and report back.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

And The Winner Is....

When I wrote the book review of The Summit Seeker, Vanessa offered a copy of her book for a giveaway on my blog. Well I said I would announce the winner on December 10th, and it's December 10th.

I pulled out my favorite Badwater hat...

And picked a name out of the 11 entrants...

So...the winner of the copy of The Summit Seeker is...


I'll be contacting Chuck by e-mail and he will receive a copy in a few weeks sent from Vanessa's publisher.

Congratulations, Chuck!

Thanks to everyone for participating. I'm considering having more giveaways in the future!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Escape From Siberia...In My Dreams!

It's the middle of the day and it's only 9 degrees! Torture! It's supposed to get into the high teens in preparation for tomorrow's above-freezing forecast. But the way things look I'm not sure if we'll hit that tomorrow.

My cold is getting better, I sound terrible but I feel pretty good. Not great, though. Thanks to the new humidifier Dennis brought home yesterday, this morning I could make noises that were distinguishable from one of the girls' dog toys. I'd go out and run, except it's still so cold outside, I think I'll wait another day or two. I'll get on the bike inside today and see how that feels.
I'm getting work done on the business end of things, which is good. I'm closer to launching my business website, and I'm reading and studying a lot.

It occurred to me again that I haven't been to any destination races or adventure runs in a while. I'll have to change that next year. My 50th birthday run will be one, but I haven't been able to come up with an acceptable plan yet. Ever since Ed and I ran the Mickelson the summer before last, I haven't done any more outdoor adventures that don't include airports or cities.
I need to get out and move. Time to put on some layers again, wrap a big heavy something around my neck and ears, stretch the Yak Trax over my shoes, and take the girls for a walk, even if it's only for short one.

We're all going stir crazy.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Blowing Away...

This is my life this weekend. I didn't feel bad for the past couple of days but now it's settled in my head and I feel like the inside of my skull is stuffed. I constantly feel like I have to sneeze. I'm living on turkey broth and ginger tea.

I'm getting my work done, despite feeling like my head weighs 50 pounds. The temperature hit 7 for a high so far today. Looking forward to much nicer days next week and hopefully my head will clear up, too. I would much rather be outside playing in the snow, if I had more energy. Looks like we should get above freezing by Tuesday. And our neighborhood is now covered with the annual ice sheet, that should last until March when they bring out the heavy equipment to break up the ice dams.

To get into our neighborhood you have to literally, physically walk or drive up and over a small berm of ice where the city stopped plowing. From there on, it might as well be Antarctica. Yak Trax are the best investment ever.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Big Freeze

Winter has arrived.

Here was Warren Lake on Saturday, at 60 degrees, in a t-shirt and shorts.

and then Wednesday, ten degrees, with ice forming on the lake.

Yak Trax and all.

Today is bright and sunny but the temperature hasn't made it above 5 degrees yet.

I woke up with a sore throat and sniffles. That really sucks, I don't feel too bad but I didn't sleep well last night and my throat hurt then, too. I need some down time. I rarely get sick. I don't know where I picked this up except maybe in the pool the other day, there were a gazillion high school kids at their swim practice right before I got in the pool. One of the downsides of swimming in a public pool, I guess. I did swim 1800 meters on Tuesday though, which is my longest swim in about twenty-five years.

The fact that I've been sick twice in 3 weeks tells me that the work stress hangover is the gift that keeps on giving. I do feel better in general but I am sure my immune system was not happy for a while. I should be bouncing back soon.

Also I've been hitting it pretty hard with the workouts lately, after slacking off for 7 months, so that could be a shock to my body. The timing was good, for getting sick at least, this was going to be a short easy week of running anyway. Maybe I'll get more work done.

Santa is being very kind to us this year, and he is sending his elves early, too. The elves are bringing us a hot tub next week, to replace the old decrepit model that came with the house and recently died. The elves will install the new hot tub and cart the old one off.

This one is smaller than our old monster hot tub, and the model of the new hot tub happens to be called "Iris". Iris was happy about that, plus the fact that this new tub is lower to the ground, so she'll be able to keep a closer eye on us without having to climb the stairs and jump up on the edge. For now she's content to fall asleep in her dad's arms...

Isabelle loves sitting outside in the snow. It can be 5 below zero and she'll sit out there and enjoy the cold air.
I've been making tons of soup, batch number three is cooking right now. First it was turkey green chile, then I made turkey tortilla soup, the latest one is turkey kale-leek-mushroom soup, with leftover mashed potatoes thrown in. We had a ton of mashed potatoes left over from Thanksgiving. Turkey parts are inexpensive at Sprouts right now, they must have cut up all their extra holiday turkeys and are trying to get rid of them.

Not much else to report. I'm hoping I can shake this crud quickly by staying home, getting plenty of sleep and hydrating myself with soup. Somehow it's not so bad being sick when the temperatures are in the single digits outside. When the sun is shining like this, it doesn't feel bad outside at all, if you're covered. I wish I felt better because it's nice running weather out there.

But I have plenty to do to keep me busy at home. And if I feel like I need to get warm, I can always go in the fridge.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Just a Thought for Cyber Monday

Not just for Christmas anymore. Let's make this last all year, and into eternity. Start by not buying anything online today, but that's the least you can do.

All of our biggest problems are caused by feeding into the greed of people who amass too much money and power. And by our silence and complacency, we allow it!

We all suffer from it here in the U.S. with our corrupt government, the system of corporate and private interest money going into lobbyists and sources of influence to tweak the system in their favor and not the people's.

It's one thing to make money or turn a profit, but when it's at the expense of millions of people's lives and well-being, that's greed. Our healthcare system is a good example of that, the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies are perfect examples.

Even not-for-profit entities turn profits and instigate violent knee-jerk reactions to anything that might interfere with their money-making ability. Case in point: Health Care Systems. Anyone who strays outside a narrow set of lines is removed as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary, by a culture of corporate bullying that the law allows, because the law favors those with money and power.

Nurses are a readily available, exploitable source of labor easily manipulated by threats to their livelihood and licenses. Amanda Trujillo's case is one notable example, but there are many others, too numerous to track. The collusion of management, corporate culture, state-run licensing boards, and legal impediments to organized labor all contribute to an impossible situation for anyone who questions their motives or points out their hypocrisy, or worst of all, identifies a hazard to the public and tries to do the right thing to fix it.

In a conversation with a number of nurses recently, someone pointed out the analogy of a jumbo jet. If we treated airline pilots the way we run health care and nurse labor practices, any jet that took off would stand no chance of landing without crashing because there would be so many unresolved safety issues.

Make your new year's resolution something that will help all people. Resolve to make a statement, put your energy into changing the balance of power. It takes a lot of people, not just a few vocal ones. Instead of using the Internet for shopping, use it for social change. Write a letter, spread the word, don't just make people aware, motivate them to take action.

That's my $.02 for the day. Back to work...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Welcome December!

December is here, finally! I know I will enjoy this month more than any other month all year.

We had fun with the girls over a long, relaxing holiday weekend. I cooked a small turkey, along with mashed potatoes and gravy, a spinach casserole that turned out sooooo good, and apple tarts.

The apple tart is my signature dish, it's the one that everyone always asks for if I'm coming over for Thanksgiving dinner.

With the leftovers, I made turkey green chile. So simple and delicious. I'll put the recipe up at Bitchen Swill when I get around to it.

I got quite a few miles in this week again, ended up with 50 running miles for the week, which was a bit of a stretch because I ran 16 miles on Friday and then I was tired.

Saturday I only ran 6 miles but it felt like the last 6 miles of a 24 hour run. My legs were fried. The weather was amazing this weekend though. Temperatures in the 50s and sunshine with no wind. I ran in shorts on Saturday.

It's too nice NOT to go outside.

But Sunday I wanted to get up to Horsetooth Reservoir and do my 10 mile out & back that I've been missing so much but was afraid to do until my hamstring got better. The sunrise in the morning was outrageous.

I drove toward Dixon Dam and the light kept getting more intense on Horsetooth Rock, it was glowing bright red.

It was a lot warmer than I thought it might be, so I ended up not having to bundle up quite as much as I usually do. I left a pile of clothes in the car and hoped the wind wouldn't pick up. It never did.

I stopped a bunch of times to take pictures, I couldn't help it, I felt like a tourist in my own backyard, it's been so long since I ran up there! Probably only 6 months but it feels like forever!

The ten miles felt okay despite how tired my legs were on Saturday. I went super slow but had no problem climbing the hills. I feel strong, just slow. I'm looking forward to putting a few weeks of these runs behind me and then I will start hitting the Rock Repeats to build more strength climbing hills. Maybe I'll be able to do a few more trails this year if I can get my ankles to cooperate.

December has never been so welcome. I usually view December as a month I just have to get through, because once winter solstice arrives, I'm gearing up for spring, because as far as I'm concerned, January 1 is the first day of spring. So I guess this month will just be a warmup for spring, right?

This was a long, difficult, stressful year, and I am glad to be on the other side of the stress.

I found out about a few other nurses who are just going into a stressful period which I know will resolve once they make their decisions to leave, but until they take that step it will be painful, and I feel for them. It's not healthy to be bullied by people who have power over you. Better to leave the toxicity behind, because once you leave, they will have to find someone else to pick on.

Every once in a while I still get hit with a wave of hurtful memories or anger that resurfaces, usually when someone else comes to me and tells me their story. My own wounds are still fresh, but healing. It leaves me with a reminder of how bad I feel, physically, when I get back into that vortex. But now I can smooth it out for myself and go back to my own peaceful existence that I am enjoying so much.

Going up to Horsetooth today brought me a sense of calm and being on the right path.

I heard from a magazine editor across the pond yesterday, she was interested in publishing my review of The Summit Seeker, so it should be appearing in Barefoot Running, a UK-based online running magazine. It's always nice to hear from someone who likes your writing, or artwork, or creative works.

The weather is supposed to hold for a couple more days and then we're supposed to get a COLD front next week that will drop the temperatures into the below zero Fahrenheit range. Time to get tough again. No excuses. Next time I go up to the reservoir, there could be a sheet of ice over the water. Fortunately, our winters here are short.

One month until spring!