Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Frost Giant Races: Double Groundhog Day

One of the local, annual running events is the Frost Giant in Estes Park, the last Sunday in January. It features 5K & 10K races, with a late morning start, and staggered an hour apart so it is possible to run both races. The race is guaranteed to start regardless of the weather.

Estes Park is about 40 miles from Fort Collins, you have to drive to Loveland, then take highway 34 west, up Big Thompson Canyon, noted for steep rock walls and bighorn sheep sightings. It's not a bad drive, except on summer weekends when everyone on the planet wants to go to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Estes Park is at 7500 feet elevation, so if you live in the flatlands like we do, or worse, come up from sea level, it adds the challenge of breathing with less oxygen. Top that off with steep hills and a challenging, partially cross-country race course, and you get a workout.

I used to run this race most years, but the past several years I haven't, due to my ankle. Dennis used to hold the course record here, I'm not sure if he still does, but we used to both enjoy coming to this race. He has the upper respiratory crud right now, so he stayed home, plus he is barely running enough to call it running, he's still fighting plantar fascitis following his foot fracture last summer.

This year the courses were mostly dry, both races are on pavement for the first and final miles, with a steep uphill for the first mile and a steep downhill for the last. The second mile in the 5K and the middle 4 miles of the 10K are through grassy, hilly, uneven, bumpy, muddy, snowy terrain that challenges anyone with the best fitness and strongest ankles. The bonuses of jumping over prairie dog holes and cowpies are included at no extra charge...

I signed up for both races, of course, I figured I'd do 15 miles today to round out a 90 mile week, actually that's 90 miles in 5 days. I didn't get a real tempo run in this week so I thought these two races, with their effort, would make up for that workout.

I was not disappointed.

When I arrived in Estes Park, it was 34 degrees, with a strong wind, a few snowflakes were flying around but it was mostly sunny. I signed up for both races, got my race bibs and tshirt, and went out to run the 5K course as a warmup. I wore my lightweight Brooks Adrenalines thinking that course was all road. They have changed the courses since I last ran it.

Going up the first steep hill from Town Hall, you see the rock formations on Lumpy Ridge, with the Twin Owls. You also see the Stanley Hotel, where the movie The Shining was filmed. The 5K now goes off the road and up a steep little dirt road, then turns and heads down through a lumpy, bumpy grassy meadow until it rejoins the paved road for the last mile.

I saw several runners from the Fort Collins Trail Runners and the Fort Collins Running Club, I talked to several of them before the race. There were a lot of fast trail runners there from Fort Collins. This was their kind of terrain.

I was a little nervous about my ankle in the Adrenalines, but it was only a mile of cross country in the 5K and it really wasn't too bad, so I decided to stay in those for the 5K. I decided I would change back into my tanks, the Addictions, for the 10K, since it would be 4 miles on unknown terrain.

It turned out to be a good call. I ran the 5K pretty well, even though my legs burned going out in the first mile. I'm a terrible cross country runner, so I got passed by a gazillion people in the second mile, and then I passed them all again on the way back down in the last mile. The 5K was done in 26:31, and that was a lot harder than any tempo run effort. The freezing headwind in the second mile was an added bonus.

I had about a half hour to get ready for the 10K, so I changed my shoes and then changed into a dry bra and shirt, just for comfort. The wind was biting cold, but only when it was in your face. Right before the start of the 10K, I felt a little lightheaded and hungry. I didn't have enough time to run back to my car and grab a fig bar, I thought, I'll be okay, it's just an hour run at the most.

As we lined up for the 10K, someone said we are crazy for going out and doing it again, but doubling it. I thought, it's like Double Groundhog Day, if you screw it up the first time, you're doomed to repeat it, but you have to double it.

The start of the 10K was on a different road, even steeper than the 5K start. For a fleeting moment as we ran by the parked cars, I thought of stopping and grabbing that fig bar. But I didn't.

I thought I was going to die in that first mile of the 10K. I felt like I was crawling uphill. Everyone else around me was, too, though. Once we leveled out on the main road I felt better. When we hit the meadow, I started to worry about my ankle. It felt fine. I kept pushing as hard as I could, without feeling like I would twist something. The 4 mile meadow section was the longest 4 mile stretch I can ever remember, in any race. I thought it would never end.

Up the hill in one direction, then down the hill, up another hill in the shade on pine needles and snow, then down the hill into the freezing headwind on lumpy grass and cowpies. Up the hill on bumpy grass and prairie dog holes, then down the hill into the freezing wind again through mud and sudden twisting curves in the course. It was long slow torture. I haven't run on a cross country course in years, I haven't even run trails much at all since I screwed up my ankle 4 years ago.

So...this was a challenge. Fortunately my ankle tolerated it well and I made it through the slowest, toughest run I've done in years. When we finally got to mile 5 and we turned away from the icy headwind and hit the pavement again, I blasted down the hill, again passing everyone who passed me in the meadow. I finished the 10K in 58:22. Still a much harder effort than any tempo run.

After the race I was talking with a group of runners from the Fort Collins Trail Runners, and one of them had baked cookies and she offered me one. It saved my life, plus it was totally delicious, peanut butter oatmeal M & M or something like that, so good. I didn't catch that runner's name but I thank her.

As you look toward the right in this picture, you can see the lower part of the meadow we ran through in the 10K. The course made several convoluted turns that resulted in running cross-country, up and down these steep hills.

As it turned out I placed first in the 40-49 age group in the 5K, and second in that age group for the 10K. Age group placings used to not mean much to me, except for now, what they mean is when I'm at the upper end of my age group and winning, I'm faster than almost everyone within 10 years of my age in that race. Except I did get sharpei'd in a big way though, by one super fast woman in her 50s, in the 5K. But I still have two years of Frost Giants to catch up!

I finished up my cooldown miles, and drove down the canyon back home. Survived another 90 mile week, next week I will take it easy. Time for soup, shower, sleep, Buffaloes, and maybe a beer.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Looking Brighter

The light was visible well before 7:00 this morning. It hit me that February is right around the corner. This winter is going to fly by.

Friday morning I went to the CSU track and ran into Mike from Front Range Rambler. He was blasting relentless intervals. I'm glad I saw him doing that because it must have motivated me. I started my 400s and was completely shocked at my splits, consistent 95 seconds, except for two at 94, when last week I could barely get under 100. I didn't take much rest, same as last week.

Last week I did 20 of them, and they were all so slow, I felt like it was a huge uphill climb to get my legs to turn over again. But this was awesome! Still, nowhere near what I used to do, but much closer. I think it will take running my 400s consistently in the 80s before I'll feel like I've progressed speed-wise.

So much for doing 20 of them at this pace, though. The leg burn came back early, after just 8 of them, and I decided to mess with my plan. I rarely do that, but I felt like since I was faster, strong and consistent, I should stay that way, and not exhaust myself to the point of slowing down by trying to do 20, which would defeat the purpose of doing speedwork.

What I did: As soon as I felt like there was no way I could continue blasting them out at that pace, I switched to 200s. I cranked out eight 200s in 45 seconds, consistently, with a couple of them under 45. I have to thank Mike for inspiring me.

Then I switched back to easy running the rest of the cooldown and I went home and took the girls for a few easy miles. Ended up with almost 16 for the day.

This morning I went out and ran 21.5 miles, to Loveland and back via the Power Trail again. I felt pretty good, kept it relaxed and consistent, I actually had a negative split without trying. Tomorrow the plan is to go up to Estes Park and run both the 5K and 10K events at the Frost Giant races. I love the late start, 11 am and noon for the two races, and it's always fun to get out of town and run this event.

I feel a little less irritable than earlier this week. Maybe I just needed more endorphins. I've been running mega miles and even though I'll only have about 90 for the week, that's in just 5 days of running, since I don't run on my two work days.

Next week will be my rest week. And then after that, it's a big week with lots of miles and a 50K in Arizona. Warm weather, I hope.

With all the rain they've been getting down there lately, I'm hoping some of the early poppies will be blooming in the park by race day. Undeniable spring.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


This is the view from the bottom of the Power Trail where it hits Trilby Road, looking at Longs Peak. I've been spending a lot of time on it lately, because of the ice on the streets. But we lucked out with a streak of warmer weather this week. I actually ran in a t-shirt today, for part of my afternoon run.

I don't know what happened to the weather forecast but we were supposed to have a warm day, nearly 70 degrees on Wednesday. It never got there, not even close. But maybe I missed it because I took a long nap in the afternoon.

Wednesday I started out by running 5+ miles with the girls and after that I could no longer function. Laundry and dishes were the limits of my cognitive abilities. And Wheaties Boy was unfortunately sidetracked last night for our tempo. So I went out after my nap and put in another 11 miles but didn't run hard. I ran easy, did a lot of thinking and obsessing about silly and not-so silly things.

It was probably good for me to take it easy. I've been busy with a lot of things. Work has been kind of snarly lately. Morale isn't all that good. One thing they sprung on us at our staff meeting on Wednesday morning, that really irritated me, along with everyone else, was that they are going to limit vacations in May, June, and July this year. It wasn't so bad at first when they told us that would be the case for the month of July this year. So then everyone made their plans to do things in May and June.

But because we are switching over to a new computer system, and they need to do the training in May and June, it will take extra hours off the unit. So then they need to be able to staff for that in the unit, and that will require us to work extra to fill in for the people who are training. So now people are PISSED.

I'm sorta pissed too, because back in November I put in for time off at the beginning of May to go run Cornbelt. I don't know when I'll find out if I can have it off. I'll wait to sign up until I hear. But a lot of people put in for real vacations too. May and June are full of family events, weddings, school graduations, etc. Like I said, people are pissed. Plus I already know that going out to Badwater might be a problem this summer, too, with the no vacation rule.

There have been so many changes, and they are asking us to do so much more with less, and people don't deal with change very well anyway, so it's really hard to be at work these days with so much griping. I try not to add to it at work, I just think of it as surfing, riding the waves, but sometimes you start to feel taken advantage of. Especially nurses.

So, I was pissed about that and processed it through my head as I was running last night, and then I was also thinking about this article I read in the paper, that Felix posted to my Facebook page. Yesterday I touched on the gun arguments in my blogpost and I never read the paper until late in the day but what a coincidence when I discovered this.

You know, it can be pretty scary to walk through Walmart with Spongebob lurking around every corner. If someone has a concealed weapon I won't know about it. But walking around with a visible rifle? That's dumb. I was thinking about that while running.

So my mood had not improved much last evening. I came home after the run, went to bed, and woke up too early today.

This morning I took the girls out for 2 1/2 miles around 9:00 and again I was worthless. I wanted to do hills, but I couldn't function. So at 10:00 I went back to bed and then woke up around 12:45 and went out for my run. I did 18 1/2 miles of short rolling hills, on the Power Trail and south of town on the way to Loveland.

I pushed hard on all the uphills, and after 13 miles I was hurting. I kept going, and pushing the hills, but those last 5 miles at the top of every hill I'd get a little past the crest and then I'd have to stop and catch my breath while my legs burned until I recovered some. I'd be doubled over, trying to breathe, and my legs were on fire.

It took me just a little over 3 hours to do that run. It gave me 21 miles for the day. I followed the run up with picking up freshly thawed dog poop in the yard. Gotta stay ahead of it when we have the thaw, otherwise we'll be buried in dog poop by spring.

That's my life this week. Sorta feels soft but cold, like freshly thawed dog poop. I hope it's just the hormones.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday: Bite Me!

Go ahead, make my day!

I'm in an extraordinarily foul mood today. I have a brutal work hangover and I need a nap, bad. The world needs me to take a nap.

After two long, busy, exhausting days topped off by a patient who tried several times to bite me, and other miscellaneous circus-like activity at work, I was ready to blow holes in the roof when I got home last night at 8:50 pm. Plus I had to be back in the morning for a 2 hour staff (antibiotic resistant staph) meeting that started at 7 am.

So I barely got enough sleep to open my eyes this morning, and I stumbled out of bed at 6 to get my butt out the door to the meeting. Two hours in a meeting makes me want to bang my head against the desk until I pass out.

Do not mess with this mom of Buffaloes.

When I got home from the staph meeting it was daylight and I saw the community mailbox in our front yard. Some dimwit tagged it overnight. We don't see too much of this in our neighborhood but every so often some dumbass will do this to a fence or the sidewalks. This time they got it on the mailbox that happens to sit in our front yard. If I catch the little motherfucker in my front yard I'll blow him away with an AK47. GO AHEAD, MAKE MY DAY.

Before you think I'm serious, I probably wouldn't be able to figure out how to shoot the damn thing. I will never own a gun and I have no use for one. I have never shot anything other than a water gun or a cap gun since I was a kid playing with my brother's toys. Personally, I hate guns. I tolerate their existence as possessions of other people, is all. If it were up to me, there would be no guns. Ever.

Actually here's another good reason NOT to allow guns. If they get in the wrong hands, like a RPB like myself today, they could do a lot of damage. I haven't even gone into the gun issue on this blog and really had planned to avoid it. Actually I think my bare hands could do more damage than a gun if I ran into this little booger with the spray paint can today.

But since we're talking about guns, I'll just say that I think the display of paranoia by a small percentage of the population regarding the gun issue, namely those who are comparing Obama to Hitler, Stalin and such, like the Wayne LaPierres of the world, is a good reason why THOSE exact people, the assault weapon and gun proliferation advocates themselves, SHOULD NOT be allowed to have guns in their possession. They are delusional and just plain bat shit crazy.

If we've come to the point where we need guns in schools, it's time for a nuclear flattening of the planet and let some other life form with far greater intelligence than humans start over in a galaxy far, far away.

Unless, of course, those crazies were willing to turn those guns on themselves, which would allow them to be Darwin Award recipients, and remove themselves from the gene pool, greatly improving the future prospects of this country.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tank Girl at the Track

At the track this clear and cold morning I did 20 x 400 meters and I was just finishing up when the CSU distance runners showed up to do their warmup. I did my cooldown run in the outer lane while I watched them begin their workout.

My own workout was consistent, but slow. In this first workout of 400 meter repeats, I was running each of my 400s about 8 to 10 seconds slower than I was 6 years ago. Again, this is my baseline workout, just seeing where I am. I feel strong, but so slow. My legs don't want to turn over like they used to. Not that I was ever fast, or had good turnover, but these days as I struggle to regain some speed, I feel like a tank.

Janay DeLoach, our local Olympic bronze medalist in the long jump, was also working out at the same time. She is beautiful to watch running, pure speed, and so graceful on the track. It looks effortless, like she doesn't even touch the ground- she appears to be gliding above the surface of the track, so smooth, it's a hard contrast betwen her and the average plodding runner, even one with a little speed.

She has so much strength, driving her arms and legs, each moving forward in a perfect plane, with no wasted motion. Watching her go from fast to all-out, you'd think she flipped a switch somewhere and all of her body went along with it, there was no awkwardness, no digging in, no effort visible whatsoever.

There I was, the tank, clunking along on the track, compared to her.

It was fun to watch the team working out too, reminds me of the days when I was an assistant coach at Western State and everyone on the team encouraging each other, yelling until they were hoarse, all working together to perform at their best.

For some reason this past week sleep has been an issue. I haven't been sleeping long enough at night and I haven't been able to go down for a nap in the afternoon, I haven't been relaxed enough, or something. Not sure if it's due to an increase in mileage, or again, those evil hormones. Probably the evil hormones. I don't have anything super stressful going on.

I went in for my annual physical this afternoon. I'll have to go get a million labs drawn sometime in the near future where some phlebotomist vampire will suck out all my hemoglobin in little tubes and reduce my oxygen carrying capacity. I need every red blood cell, I don't have any to spare. I didn't go get my blood drawn today, I'm too dehydrated and they wouldn't be able to find my veins.

But I did have to pee in a cup. It's torture, I tell you, sort of like in the movie Tank Girl, where they are so desperate for water that they'll drain all the fluids out of your body and all that's left is a heap of powdered remains.

Tonight I followed up with an 8 mile run, giving me 21 miles for the day. All that's left on the agenda is sushi, and then rehydrating myself with WATER... and then sleep.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Very Proud Day

Groundbreaking, Poudre Valley Cancer Center. A seven year buildup to this day. Hundreds of people involved in the planning. Over 3500 individual donors.

Construction will now be underway in building this facility, which will serve the people of northern Colorado and outlying communities. Opening date in 2014.

There are several longtime readers of this blog who have contributed to this effort as donors, and I'd like to thank them for their generosity, even though they don't even live here and might never benefit directly from it.

Cancer touches everyone, and no one is immune from it, eventually someone they know or love will have cancer and it will impact everyone around them.

A few pictures from the day follow: it was a nice warm sunny day, fortunately, because the heated tent was nowhere near big enough to accomodate all the people who showed up for the event. There was a donor brunch in the morning with several videos and speakers, and a public groundbreaking in the afternoon, with more speakers, followed by the hardhats and shovels.

There were 3500 donors to the Cancer Center, but many more small gifts add up to more uncounted donors. The Save Change program yielded $85,000, throughout the community. The local schools raised the bulk of these funds, so many committed and dedicated kids.

Small steps really do add up. Remember there are so many steps in a mile, and if you just multiply those by 100, you'll know how many steps there are in a 100 mile run.

If you want to accomplish something big, break it down into small steps, but most important of all, don't put off starting. If you wait, it might never happen.

Start today.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday: Heat Wave!

This is no hot flash, it's a heat wave!

Work was slow this week, I ended up getting downstaffed on Tuesday and got home at mid-afternoon. So at least I wasn't as completely wiped out by today as I usually am. It was a good week for it to be slow, for me.

I felt so irritable this week. Sometimes things just get under my skin. I think it's hormones. Really, that's not just an excuse I'm using, for being a bitch. I feel very much on edge and have little patience for bullshit. When I'm like that, it's better not to have to deal with the public.

Usually I'd be running my tempo run with Wheaties Boy tonight but he's starting his new job at Pearl Izumi and had to be there tonight, so I did my tempo run this morning. I didn't sleep well at all last night, and woke up at 8 am today. I couldn't get my butt out the door until 10, with the girls, and then I headed over to the cemetery to do tempo.

It was nearly 40 degrees when I went out the door and 50 when I got home. As I left the neighborhood I was pleased to see this big grader/skidder/whatever you call it...heavy equipment moving down the street, I don't know what that thing is called- the Great Antarctic Ice Sheet remover? Whatever it's called, I was happy to see it. Maybe the city finally got wise to the fact that our entire neighborhood is a skating rink.

The cemetery is tricky because the loop is only 0.98 miles and I used my GPS to determine exact whole miles, so I ended up running a little bit extra as a result. It makes it a challenge to know where the exact mile mark is, but I can hear my phone talking to me with the Map My Run app.

During my run, I was still cold, even though the air is so much warmer than it's been lately. I wore capri tights and one long sleeved shirt, though I did wimp out mid-run and put my Moeben sleeves and gloves on. I got a total of 13 miles with 9 of those miles at tempo pace, one mile in 7:33, 5 miles from 7:45-7:55 and then dying at the end in 8:36 pace average for the last 3.

It's hard to push myself by myself, but I can do it. It does help to run with someone faster. But I guess it's learning that mental toughness for speed again. I wouldn't exactly call what I'm doing speed. But it is, relative to the 10 minute miles I used to run.

I tried taking a nap, but no luck. I went out for another 6 miles tonight with the group at Runners Roost and we averaged 8 1/2 minute miles, so at least I wasn't completely dragging my butt all day.

Tomorrow is the groundbreaking event for the Cancer Center, I'll have to squeeze my runs in around that, but I'll make it work.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Freeze Yer Haboobs Off!

When I woke up this morning it was two degrees outside. I got my butt out the door at 8:30 and drove over to Horsetooth Reservoir for the hills. I did about 15 miles and froze my butt off but got the hills done. No whining.

It was 12 degrees in town when I started, and 17 degrees as I drove home afterwards. It was really beautiful up at the reservoir, and there was a slight breeze blowing ice crystals in the air. Not sure how cold it was up there with the wind, but my face froze running into the wind. I had my neck gaiter and covered my face with it.

Only a few easy miles tomorrow and I should have a solid 80 mile week behind me, with speed, tempo and hills, off to a good start.

On the other side of the world, Australia is having record heat, including haboobs. Here, we're freezing our haboobs off. My Badwater crew would say, don't forget your thermal ha-bra.

This cold weather is supposed to last for a week, the temperatures should return to normal, mid-40s, by the end of next week. The days are getting longer. It's spring.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Excuses

I did it. I got through my first speed session of the year.

It wasn't fast and it wasn't pretty, but I did 10 x 800 meters with a 200 meter jog in between, and I was steady and consistent, and I got 'er done. I started out at the track at 8:20 this morning, and it was 28 degrees, which I am very proud my butt out of bed and to the track on a cold morning! Followed that up with an evening run with the Buffaloes.

Nineteen miles later, I am starving, waiting for Dennis to come home from work, he's picking up food on the way home.

It was a good day, I got my nap in, wasn't very productive other than my workout, but I did meet with Erica, the new director of the Foundation for lunch and discussed future fundraising ideas as the Cancer Center will need support for building out phases two and three of construction.

A week from today is groundbreaking on the Cancer Center. Erica comes from a running background, so we have a lot in common and some mutual contacts in town through the running community.

Last week, after I got home from Arizona, I spoke on the phone with Joe Fejes, a runner from Georgia who just broke Yiannis Kouros's 72 hour record at Across the Years by 5 miles, with a total of 329 miles. I ran a little with Joe at ATY and he was really nice, he talked with a lot of people during the race and is really open to talking about his training.

I'd been wanting to talk with someone who is about my age and has had success at the 24 hour event, and a mutual running acquaintance got us connected. Joe has been a runner for a long time but not consistent with training and racing over the years.

He's made another comeback recently and it was great to talk with him about workouts, training ideas, strategy and preparation for 24 hour races. It was interesting to hear what he is doing, because it's not all that different from what I know to be effective. The difference is, I haven't been doing most of it...

Until today. My 800s were not fast at all, they were an effort but I wasn't killing myself out there. I just wanted to get through the workout and have a baseline. I have a long way to go, but it wasn't disappointing. I need to stay on it, be consistent and do my workouts every week. I'll be looking for someone to run those workouts with me, someone a little faster who can challenge me.

We're supposed to have more cold weather this weekend, single digits. It will be a frozen butt cheek kind of weekend.

No excuses.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's About Time!

Hard to believe it, but spring training really is here.

I'm back at it. Despite a major work hangover this morning, followed by a nap, I managed to get more than 17 miles in today. And I finally, finally ran sub-8 minute pace, at least for a little while, on our tempo run.

I did 6 easy this morning with a few strides, follwed by a decent 11 mile tempo run tonight with Wheaties Boy. I averaged 8:19 pace tonight, not bad for how I've been feeling the past week, and I even threw in a couple of sub-8 minute miles, which I've been waiting for.

I was wondering where those sub-8s disappeared to, for some reason I was never able to hit sub-8 minute pace on our tempo runs last year, but my plan is to get my runs solidly into the 7 minute range this spring. I guess they were waiting for spring, too. Improvement is improvement, I'll take it!

Tonight we ran the Power Trail instead of a more interesting route, but the ice has taken over all of the smaller streets in town. It's great to live in a place that plows the bike paths before the streets, but every once in a while some ice removal would be welcome.

The Great Antarctic Ice Sheet has returned to our neighborhood. If you're wondering where the polar ice caps have disappeared to, come to central Fort Collins, I can show you. We're just waiting for the ice dam to get someone's car high-centered and stuck in the intersection, so we can call the city and ask them to remove some of the ice. Otherwise they'll never come out.

Tomorrow it's back to work for one day and then I need to get my butt over to the track before we get another blast of cold weather this weekend. I'll have to tough it out on the hills at Horsetooth in the cold but I can bundle up there and run easier than trying to do speedwork wearing 6 layers of clothing.

The other thing I noticed was the sky was light until nearly 5:15 pm. Two and half weeks past solstice, we're making progress.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Can't Get Enough

Maybe this is impulsive but I decided today that since I have the opportunity to go down and run the Pemberton Trail 50K in my former home of Fountain Hills, AZ, the second weekend in February, and the timing, distance, and terrain are perfect for in-between ATY and Delano Park, and it's an easy weekend trip, I'm doing it.

So I signed up today. Brian Wieck's race at Pemberton is a family event, he and his parents Joan & Keith were our neighbors in Fountain Hills, and I used to run that trail all the time when I lived there. It's so beautiful in the park, and it's a mid-winter treat to go down there when the poppies are sometimes beginning to bloom if it's an early spring in the desert.

I also made my airline and hotel reservations for the Delano Park trip today. Finding a hotel that doesn't have six and eight-legged creepy crawly things in it was a challenge, but I got the same word from two sources that I should check out the Holiday Inn in Decatur. It's not pretty, they say, but there were no complaints of mold, bedbugs, spiders, cockroaches, cigarette smoke, cracking porcelain in the bathroom fixtures that threatened to collapse under your weight, hairs and other body fluid stains from former occupants, and so on, like the other hotels.

I went for my first run this morning since ATY. Just 6 miles, with a few short strides. My legs felt tired but not terrible. Tomorrow it's back to tempo runs with Wheaties Boy.

I've been feeling like I'm slowly starting to shake these two vague ailments that aren't really like a bad GI virus, or an upper respiratory thing, but I've been extremely tired and had a mild sore throat and cough, but it feels more like leftover dust from Arizona than any kind of cold.

The GI thing kept moving in one direction, I'm not sure what it was. Seems to be gone, but not before I experienced stuff coming out both ends. Ugh. Everyone here is sick and I'm just trying not to be coughed on by patients. I already wash my hands until they shrivel up on a daily basis, so I'm not sure what more I can do.

I survived a busy, relentless work weekend and then an extra shift this afternoon that was crazy. I should have a bad work hangover by now but I'm just tired tonight. Maybe it will hit me tomorrow. I have the day off, I can take a nap, but then I have a full day of work on Wednesday, so I don't really get my life back until Thursday.

January and February are already shaping up to be busy months in my life. In a good way. Seems like I didn't even get a chance to breathe and here it is spring already. I guess that's the way I like it. I just hope I can get the training in! I need someone to hold me very accountable and kick my butt into doing my speedwork regularly. That will be the key. Wheaties Boy!!!

I have more exciting stuff to report but I'm really too brain dead to blog anymore right now. I'll save it for the next post.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Across The Years 24 Hour: Chasing the Grimmster

I've been struggling trying to write this blogpost. Maybe I'm just suffering from a post-race food coma, or I'm still not functioning well despite having plenty of sleep and naps since I got back to my dad's house early Tuesday morning.

So I apologize if this has taken a while to spit out. I won't waste too many words. I am so confused with the days from being on vacation, I can't keep track, and I won't know what day it is until I go back to work this weekend.


I've been staying on the east side of the valley at my dad and stepmom's house in Scottsdale. The race itself is held on the west side of town, in Glendale, a good 45 minute drive only in optimal traffic conditions. I got a hotel room in the race hotel the night before, 5 minutes from the race, so race morning would be quick and uncomplicated, and I'd be able to sleep in. The race starts at 9, which is a leisurely starting time, works great for me.

The new race site is at Camelback Ranch, which is a training facility for the LA Dodgers and I'm not sure what else, I claim ignorance in such matters of sport other than running and a particular variation of tennis.

I arrived at the race site Sunday afternoon to set up my table and check things out, then check into the hotel. My first view of the race was drivingalong west Camelback Road, I could see the zombie-like march of the runners along the south end of the course, before I turned into the ball park area.

When I turned into the parking area and saw the tents, after seeing the early death marchers, the first thing that crossed my mind was: Sheriff Joe's Tent City.

I don't know if you're familiar with stories of Arizona's infamous Sheriff Joe, but his Tent City concentration camp that he runs legally is just one of the things he's known for...

I set up my table and checked out the race set up, things looked pretty basic, and very well-organized. I walked a little of the course, but figured I'd have a chance to see the whole thing enough times during the race, I didn't feel the need to do a full lap. I talked to a few people and went back to the hotel.

Ugh. Race hotel. Ugly, cold, sterile, not very comfortable-feeling. I walked into my room and it was freezing! The heat had been turned off, so I cranked it up, dropped off my stuff and left to go seek out food and race morning essentials, like a McDonalds and where to get ice for the cooler.

Before I left my dad's house in Scottsdale, I started my attempt to eat as many calories as possible the day before the race. I started with eggs and tamales. The tamales were leftovers they had from Havana Cafe, awesome.

It looked cloudy, like it was going to rain later. I hoped the weather would hold up for the race. Out my hotel room window, which looked out to the west over the ball park, it looked like rain was on its way.

The weather forecast looked okay except for the temporary rain. I hoped it would keep the dust down on the course. The only thing I noticed about the course was that the dirt seemed to be loose and easy to kick up, blister alert. I had my gaiters and plenty of footgear ready just in case.

I got some take out from an Italian restaurant, I got lasagna, and went back to the hotel room to scarf that down. I found a McDonald's that was less than 5 minutes from the ball park, perfect for the morning.

By the time I got back the room it had warmed up in the bedroom area, but the rest of the room was freezing. I had booked a suite because originally I thought Steph would be coming with me, but decided to keep it, for the price, it was good. It wouldn't have been very comfortable for anyone who would sleep in the bigger room, it was still cold out there.

By sunset, it was raining. I took a shower, texted with Paul Grimm who was waiting for Matt and Anne Watts to arrive at the Phoenix airport on their delayed flight, called Dennis, and wrote some e-mails, and then went to bed. I had a hard time falling asleep, but once I did, I slept well.

The rain didn't last long, and was long gone by morning.

Race Morning

I woke up a few minutes before my alarm went off in the morning, got my stuff together and checked out of the room. I drove to McDonalds and got my sandwich. Then I drove to the ball park to pick up my race packet and finished setting up my table. I met up with the 24 Hour contingent from Colorado: Paul Grimm (aka the Grimm Reaper or The Grimmster, as I prefer to call him), Matt & Anne Watts, Eric, Anne and Ethan Pence from Vail.

I also saw my friend Megan Dell from Albuquerque. Megan is now medical director of Badwater, ever since Lisa Bliss stepped down from doing that. We kept our stuff together at a table, and ran quite a few laps together early in the race.

The weather was cold, clear and perfect. Couldn't ask for a better day.

As usual, I was freezing, and wearing a little extra clothing. Here I am next to Anne Pence, who lives near Vail. She's dressed for summer, and I'm from the banana belt of Fort Collins, dressed for winter.

People were dressed in an array of outfits, typical of ATY.

The Plan

The plan I discussed with Wheaties Boy and that I wanted to stick to was 58 miles in the first half, at least 50 in the second half. I knew it would be hard to hang on but I really wanted to tough it out after a solid first half and get those miles in. I really had no idea what I would be capable of, I've put a few miles in since Oklahoma but haven't been doing anything fast other than the tempo runs. I needed to get out there and put the hammer down and see what happened. If I blew up, I blew up.

The morning was uneventful. I just settled into a comfortable pace and kept moving. I talked with Megan a lot, I looked for Debbie Leftwich, but didn't see her until at least early afternoon. This course is a mile around so you don't see people as often as you did at the old Nardini Manor course.

I saw the Grimmster only a couple of times in the daylight, he was complaining about the grape-flavored (so he claims) gel packet that had exploded all over the front of his shorts, but he was really proud of it too. Matt Watts was giving him a hard time about it, so we began ribbing him about that all day. With Paul, it's always something. He knows he's a nerd, but the dude didn't even know how to play fart tennis until race day. I had to teach him!

It was a good thing I had plenty of time to do that. I had to entertain myself with something while I was trying to hold my pace down. Paul was running well, though. Matt was moving well too, he was on for 100+ miles.

I did go out hard and I wanted to see how I felt, having no idea what would happen. I went through 50 miles in 10:03, which was only slightly fast for my plan, but basically perfect. I kept having to force myself to slow down and take a walking lap, which was nice, it gave me a chance to text people and check Facebook for messages, which was a nice distraction.

I took some food breaks, and short social breaks to hang out with my dad, my brother, and my 16 year old niece Jenny who came out to watch the race for a while. I was eating, drinking, and peeing, but not doing any of it meticulously or methodically as I usually can do.

It's really hard for me to run a slow 50. Ten hours is pushing the limits of my patience. I feel like I'm having to waste time in order to not go the pace I want to run.

As soon as I crossed the timing mats at the first lap where I had surpassed 50 miles, I heard someone groan behind me. I turned around, and it was The Grimmster, he'd been trying to catch me on that lap. I chicked him, and I didn't even know he was tailing me. Being the chess nerd that he is, he challenged me. He said I'll race you to 64 miles, that's the square of 8. Whatever, Paul. I agreed to the challenge.

For some reason, the drinks with the S caps were not appealing to me, and I didn't feel like eating. I finally forced myself to have some potato chips for the salt, and yogurt. I'd been eating fig bars, trying to get at least 100 calories every half hour, but I knew it wasn't enough. Yogurt always seems to work when nothing else sounds good, and it worked again. I had half a grilled cheese sandwich around 1 pm, and that was the only food that tasted good all day.

I started wondering if maybe my strategy of eating so much the day before made me not want to eat early in the race.

I went through 58 miles in 11:56, perfect. I'd waited a while to change into really warm clothes, but once I did, I was glad I had the layers on. The temperature dropped sharply at some point. Around 10 pm I was hungry and I ate a huge slice of pizza. I was still moving well. I sent Wheaties Boy the text I'd promised him when I got to 58 miles.

Dennis had to send me this picture of the Buffaloes...breaks my heart. Talk about a guilt trip!

Shortly after that I started to feel cold, which I knew was from digesting the food. I kept moving and walking fast so I could digest it and start running again. I put more clothes on, and felt I was slowing down. I walked another full lap in about 15 minutes and still felt like the pizza was sitting there. I tried running some, and managed to run pretty well again.

I was watching Debbie Leftwich, who was only about a lap behind me. She was my main competition, and she was moving well, and eating well. I was still moving well, but not eating well, and that worried me. Since the Grimmster had challenged me to the square of 8, or 64 miles, I decided to focus on that. I have no idea where he was when we got to that point, but I was a solid lap ahead of him.

I wanted to tell him to quit hanging out in the bathroom so much, some people just can't get enough, I guess, and at his age he should be glad it still works. He's only 42 but I like to tell him he's old, and then sharpei him. And I did, at 64 miles. Except I never saw him in time to challenge him to 81 miles.

I was dealing with intermittent nausea. I had some Starbucks doubleshots and coke, and continued to drink fluids, but I was forcing everything. Food was no longer remotely interesting.

Around midnight they were starting to set up the New Years celebration tables with party favors and glasses of sparkling cider and champagne. I was just short of 70 miles when the clock said 11:52 and I didn't want to stop for 8 whole minutes, just to wait, as I was still only a lap ahead of Debbie.

I'd been watching Joe Fejes, Michael Arnstein and Ian Sharman all day. I was really wanting to be able to run a bit with any of them, and ask some questions about how they train and prepare for the 24 hour event. I need to talk to someone about it, because I feel like I'm struggling with the event.

I know I'm capable of running many more miles than I have, but not sure where to start. Ian and Michael were running way too fast for me to stay with them even for a lap, and I ran with Joe a few times, but it never worked out to have a conversation. I was also feeling worse, and getting cold.

The New Year

After Megan and I passed the timing mats, about 5 minutes after midnight, I grabbed a cup of sparkling cider and I sipped that. I was coming up on the real bathrooms, which were heated, and that I'd been using ever since the sun went down instead of the portapotties. I was shivering.

I went in there and peed, then felt a wave of nausea hit me. I stood there, wondering if I was going to puke. It passed. I didn't want to waste my time in the bathroom so I got back out there in the cold. I kept moving, walking, but feeling like I might puke soon.

Shortly after we changed directions on the track at 1 am, I had slowed down enough and had piled on more layers, and I was still freezing, shaking, shivering, and I couldn't stand the thought of trying to drink something hot. Cold coke was the only thing I'd been able to sip for an hour. I was cramping, too, in my rib muscles, my butt, and my quads.

I hit the warm bathroom again right around 2 am, a repeat of last time. I was shaking worse, and realized I needed to get into the heated tent, at least for while. I hadn't been lapped by Debbie and I was still ahead but I knew I needed to take care of my problem or I'd be hypothermic. I braved the cold air again, and stumbled the last 200 meters or so to the medical tent.

I went in and sat down in front of the heater, and they put a space blanket over me. I was shivering. They had ORS, and I took a few sips, and that was all I needed, I started puking. There actually wasn't all that much in my stomach, mostly dry heaves. But I was cramping all over, every time I gagged, my ribs and back were spasming. I knew I was in trouble with my hydration, I could feel all the thick salt crust on my face when I added some clothes earlier.

I sat there for a long time, realizing I was in bad enough trouble with my hydration that it wasn't going to be a fixable solution in the remaining 6 hours to go after my goal realistically. I also knew I wouldn't be able to move fast enough to stay warm, even if I fixed the hydration issue, it would take a while, and there wasn't enough time on the clock. I had 78 miles in at that point, and I could tough it out to drag out more miles, or I could call it good, a training run amd learning experience, and try to dissect it later on.

I also realized that if I stopped, I'd get a head start on recovery and it really would be a decent training run, because up to that point, I had been running reasonably well. Once I thought of the recovery aspect, I was sold. I waited a while until the nausea was gone, I warmed up a bit, and around 3:30 am I turned in my timing chip, said good-bye to Nick Coury in the timing tent and he thanked me for coming, told me to come back again, and gave me my beer stein.

The paramedics in the medical tent got my car keys, went with me to my truck and helped me get in, and I warmed up the truck and sat in there for a while before driving over to break down my table and haul everything to the truck. I did see Megan and Paul while I was packing up, so I told them both what happened, and wished them a happy new year and a good race. Both of them did run well. I never got to see Debbie, but I talked with her on Facebook after the race, she ended up winning with 106 miles, which she was really happy about. She did look great out there.

Once I broke everything down it was almost 5 am. I started heading across town on the freeway, back toward Scottsdale. I was hoping I wouldn't wake up my dad and stepmom when I got to their house. On my way, I remembered it was New Year's Eve when I saw Sheriff Joe's bus, the DUI Detail, headed along the freeway, taking a busload to Tent City, no doubt.

When I got home, my dad had set the alarm in the back half of the house, which I'd thought about, but I was too brain dead to remember. I tripped the alarm coming in, and woke them up anyway. They were surprised and concerned, but also amused, my stepmom said he had a feeling he shouldn't set it, but she thought there was no way I'd be home that early. I told them what happened, and fortunately they were able to go back to sleep. I got to bed around 6 am and slept until 10:30.

My feet were ugly at first, very heat rashed, and I blistered in two places: My right big toe, and on the bottom of my calf in the spot between my compression socks and gaiters, must have been rubbing my skin back there. My big toenails look funny, like they might turn black and fall off eventually, but maybe not...we'll see.

The only thing I thought was less than ideal about the new facility was that the dirt was really loose, and it was dusty. Not really anything that can be done about that. I've become a road primadonna, I guess. It wasn't bad, and my feet actually didn't blister too much, considering how badly I needed salt and didn't hydrate properly.

So I've spent the last day and a half napping, eating, sleeping, and then today I walked downtown for a few miles, did a little window shopping. It was a beautiful day, cold, clear, breezy and perfect. Too bad I have to go back to the real cold tomorrow.

The only residual soreness I have is in my right leg, in the quadriceps muscles, from my hip to my knee. And also in my lower back on that side, around my iliac crest, like the attachments are all tight and need to be released. I think it's all from muscle spasms and shivering. My left leg feels fine. But on the right, it just feels generally sore, once that resolves I should be fine with running. Today it doesn't feel good to run on it.

As I walked around town today, I saw all the crazy K-State and Oregon football fans in their crazy outfits. I stopped at Ra to eat sushi this time. I won't stop until I see the worms crawling out of my butt.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about all this, soon. For now, I'm just going to spend the next couple of weeks figuring out how to get started again. I have some ideas, and I'm going to find someone really good to talk to for 24 hour training ideas.

For now, Happy New Year, and I'll be back in Colorado soon, planning my next race. I can't wait!