Scatter my ashes here...

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

Monday, February 25, 2013

Yes, I'm Tapering

And I'm losing my mind. The taper worms have infested my brain!

It's Monday, a new week of training and I did go out on this sunny, slushy day and put in 10 easy miles. My legs felt tired. I don't know why they feel so tired. I ended up pushing through the wimp factor on Saturday and did 20 miles, but then we had a big snowstorm on Sunday and I totally wimped out of my other 20 mile run.

Completely and thoroughly wimped out. How bad was it?

I went over to Island Grill, a little bar and restaurant in our neighborhood, with Dennis, and sat on my butt and drank beer and ate...french fries. And did not run a step.

I did shovel snow twice, if that makes up for it. Maybe that makes up for one french fry, but as far as the other dozens of french fries in the basket, I don't know what to say. I'm sure I am carrying them around on my butt somewhere now. They were greasy and salty and I washed them down with beer and I stared at the Daytona 500 and some golf tournament in Arizona where they were freezing, and sat there like a barfly.

It's not my fault though, Dennis contributed to my delinquency, after just the day before, he convinced me that I was being a wimp and I should quit whining and get my butt out the door to run 20 miles. How can I trust this man? You'd think after 23 years I would know him, but the evil Dennis was lurking on Sunday, probably came out of the snowstorm like Sasquatch with size 14 running shoes.

I hate to admit it. At this point, tapering feels like a weakness, like I'm wimping out. But when I go back to my original plan for the year, I should be tapering. Things are a little off because of my involuntary change of plans, but it really shouldn't make all that much difference.

The plan was to run Delano Park as a race, and to run Cornbelt as another "training run" to go to Oklahoma City and run 24 hours for a PR. So, here I am a little over a week and half away from Delano and I'm finding myself wanting to keep training through it. The last two weeks my mileage has been lower than what I've been averaging over the past several months.

I'm planning on doing just 40 miles this week to get a really good rest week, and then I won't do too much other than very short easy runs before I go out to Alabama next week.

The thing about this mid-season taper is, I don't want it to throw my training off too much. I want to get away with just one recovery week after the race and then jump back into training, to do as much as I can before North Coast. I won't have much more training time before it. I feel unprepared for 24 hours at this point.

I have to remind myself, I'm not SUPPOSED to be prepared for 24 hours at this point. I'm training. North Coast is a TRAINING RUN. The race I'm peaking for is in October, not April.

Just reading what I've written so far, I think I'm doing that anxiety thing again, with my brain spinning in my head like a top.

How did I become such a head case? For so many years I have been calm and relaxed about going into races.

So tonight, to make myself feel better, I went out and got a new pair of shoes to wear at Delano Park, a pair of Brooks Adrenalines in the new neon green color. They look awesome. I saw the blue ones too, might have to get myself a pair of those one of these days. Maybe before North Coast.

The moonrise and sunset were amazing tonight. I didn't get a good picture of the moon, but it looked huge over the eastern plains as I was driving to Runners' Roost to get my shoes. I stopped east of Zeigler Road to take a picture, but the iPhone camera doesn't do justice to the moon at all. It was huge and yellow and dominated the sky.

The other problem with tapering is that you end up doing all kinds of strange, normal things while you wait for your race day to arrive. Like cleaning the bathroom, doing those long-procrastinated errands, and staring at the giant moon wishing you could go for a run, instead of actually doing it. It's just weird and it messes with your brain.

I'll need to find a way to exterminate the taper worm, once it's crossed the blood-brain barrier, the damage might be irreversible...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sunset Run, No Whining

I did the post-nap evening run and got my 20 miles for the day. I woke up around 4:30 and got out the door by 5. It's nice to have daylight in the evening again. I went down the Power Trail and took some pictures of the sunset on the golf course and at the park. It wasn't the most colorful sunset, but still beautiful with the clouds.

When it got dark I was near Warren Lake and the geese were sitting on the water, in a place where the ice had thawed. I'm glad I got my butt out the door. It was cold all day, and warmer this evening than when I did my track workout this morning, but I froze anyway. I don't stop freezing until it gets to be about 75 degrees.

Tomorrow is a group run in the morning up at Horsetooth with the running club, and I'll finish out my 20 miles somewhere. One more day until the taper. One more. Whine not.

Whine Not...

It's COLD!

Where did this cold blast come from? It was getting so nice, and I was looking forward to March, and then we got this wimpy little snowstorm that hardly dropped any moisture on us, all it did was bring COLD air!

This week sort of sucked. I felt super tired after my early in the week runs. I was going to do 15 on Thursday but we had the snow that day and I don't have any excuse other than I wimped out. I know, it's pathetic. But I was tired, and sleep has been less restful this week. So instead of running on Thursday, I took care of personal business, got things like papers for doing our taxes organized, spent a little more time figuring out my upcoming trip to Cleveland/Columbus in April, and basically tried to have a lower stress day.

Then Friday I worked an 8 hour shift, and it started out as a great day. It was relaxed at work, I was busy but not running too much most of the time, had my favorite kind of patient, a first time chemo that goes all day, and all my other patients for the day were "easy". Our massage therapist was hanging around, giving patients massages, and had time to give each of the nurses a short little chair massage. A rare and perfect work day. Except.

My last "easy" patient of the day decided to have a reaction to her infusion, right at the same moment that my chemo patient was finishing up. Damn it. I hate that. I always want my first time chemo patients to have a smooth ride. And it was, except I wanted to be there through the whole thing, to the very end of the day. But that is the life of a nurse. It's always something...

When the "easy" patient went south, I asked one of my coworkers to finish up the chemo patient. As it turned out I didn't even get to say goodbye to the chemo patient because I was on the phone with the doctor. As it turned out the "easy" patient was okay, but when told me she thought her tongue was swelling that sort of threw everything off...

I made her wait while I paged the doctor, and while she waited and I watched her and checked her over thoroughly, I finally determined that her tongue was NOT swelling but not before she was questioning why she couldn't go home right away? Why did she have to wait there while I checked her vitals again, looked in her mouth, listened to her lungs and called the doctor?

Some people are just not all that bright. After I did all the charting on THAT incident, I got out of there. More like 9 hours.

Advice to everyone. If you tell the nurse your tongue is swelling, you're going to be detained. But you do have choices. If your tongue is swelling and you don't want to be detained, go ahead and don't say anything, leave the hospital and collapse out on the street in respiratory arrest. There is one advantage to the latter scenario, you might qualify for a Darwin Award. Nice way to be remembered.

It was a nice sunset and Dennis and I went out for sushi. But I did not run, and I had hoped to after work. I was too fried and tired when I got home, and it didn't seem worth it to deal with rush hour traffic for a little 5 mile run. I wimped out.

As a result I ended up with two days off running, and I had to get my speedwork in this week, since I missed it last week. Twenty-one degrees at the track, and that was when I finished up. It was 13 degrees when I woke up this morning. I did 12 x 400 meters, they were slower than I've been doing recently, but still respectable. I felt like I was freezing in between each one.

When I got home I whined about having to get 20 miles in for the day, and another 20 tomorrow. That is what my plan was. I was having a weak moment again and I tried to justify and rationalize and weasel out of it, I talked to Dennis about it and asked him what he thought, and he told me I was being a wimp.

If Dennis tells me I'm being a wimp, I'm being a wimp. He would tell me to rest if he thought I needed to rest. So I took Iris out for a couple more miles, and I am eating lunch and blogging and I might take a nap, but I will somehow have to get another nearly 10 miles in late today or this evening. Dennis won't let me get away with wimping out.

It is pathetic. All I have to do is get through this weekend and then I am tapering. Two more days of long miles. I've been doing it for 4 months, I can do it for two more days.

Tomorrow I will force myself out the door and go run at Horsetooth with the running club, that will keep me honest. After I get my 20 in tomorrow, it's taper time. I think I've earned it, as long as I finish my miles this week. Whine not.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday: A Change of Plans

Halfway through the week, and only a week to go until March. Where is the time going?

I can't complain about winter going by fast, as it is my least favorite season, and...we'll be changing the clocks again soon. On my birthday, this year. I'll be in an airport somewhere, probably Nashville, on my way home from the Delano Park race. That means I get to enjoy my birthday for 25 hours instead of the usual 24.

I got the bad news late last week, the time off I requested in May to run Cornbelt was not going to happen. I was really annoyed at first because I put in for that last October. But we are slaves to this merger now, and we are being held hostage May through July. It was time for creativity in scheduling. I've been training my ass off since last fall. What was I going to do?

I moped around for the weekend and early this week. It definitely contributed to my poor sleep over the weekend. I've been so frustrated with so many aspects of this merger. It's affecting everyone in so many ways. I had no idea what I could do, I'd signed up for a 50 miler in late April, but the only option to lengthen that was 100K, and I needed a longer race.

I'd considered North Coast 24 hour earlier in the year but thought the spring race was the same weekend as Cornbelt. I always wanted to run North Coast because I've heard so many good things about it. But the trip would be expensive, with airfare, rental car, hotels, big city expenses and hassles like parking and traffic, and where to shop for race supplies.

Cornbelt on the other hand, is a long day's drive from home, or can be broken into two days, there is no traffic, it's very low key, midwest, rural, cheap hotels, no air travel, no rental cars, traffic, parking, or bad parts of town. I can haul everything I need in my vehicle.

I was back at work on Tuesday, eating lunch, turned on my phone to Facebook and saw that one of the runners I know from the east coast had signed up for North Coast, but it was April 20th! The lightbulb turned on. I immediately emailed the schedule goddess, and asked her if those dates would work. She wrote back and said they would. I had an alternative!

So I spent most of today figuring out arrangements for North Coast, and things came together nicely. One of my longtime ultra friends from much earlier in my running days, Lynn Newton, lives in Columbus now. I've known Lynn and his wife Suzy, and their daughter, for many years, and we all lived in Arizona for a while. I wrote to Lynn and asked him about North Coast, and if he knew about Cleveland. He suggested I fly to Columbus instead and stay with them, and drive to Cleveland just for the race.

When I looked into it, it turned out to be a much more economical alternative. The airfare and rental car were much better in Columbus. So I've made my plans, signed up for the race, and all I have to do now is buy my ticket and book my hotel room in Cleveland and rental car. It will be great to spend some time visiting with Lynn and Suzy.

Tonight it is sleeting outside and we're supposed to get 3-4 inches of snow by morning. We need any moisture we can get, but it really won't put a dent in our drought. No, there's no climate change...I'm fearful that we will have a horrible fire season like last year. And unfortunately we'll be stuck here this summer...

Today I was off work, after just one work day. As a result, I can't really call today a work hangover but I was tired anyway, slept until 8:15 this morning, missed my nap this afternoon. I called in sick to work on Monday. I wasn't sick, but I was sleep deprived.

I've been describing this anxiety thing in my recent posts. I was up during the night on Saturday, my brain spinning around in my skull again, over all sorts of things that I can't do anything about, but I couldn't get it to quiet down in there. When this happens, I'll be up for several hours, and then in the morning I feel like crap.

Sunday my sleep pattern was all messed up. I went for a 21 tempo mile run, most of it with Wheaties Boy. It was a great workout, but I was tired later in the day, a combination of the beer tour, high mileage, lack of sleep, and the anxiety thing.

After the past several weeks of bad things happening at work in the evenings, including the night when I was there alone and the patient had that reaction, I wasn't looking forward to the possibility of that happening again if I was already exhausted at the beginning of the shift.

I'm getting sort of tired of having to stay late and do paperwork on transfusion reactions at the end of a 12 hour shift, and if I'm sleep deprived to begin with, and I'm stuck closing, and something goes wrong with a patient, I really don't want to be having to think on my feet with an emergency when I'm brain dead myself. If I were a patient in trouble I wouldn't want my nurse being sleep deprived and unable to think clearly.

So I took a "mental health day" and saved myself the agony of schlepping my body through a 12+ hour shift as Zombie, RN. I slept in, took a nap, and it was windy as hell, but I went up to the foothills and did a 10 mile trail run. More like a trail crawl. Absolutely dragged myself up the trail, my legs were screaming. I texted Wheaties Boy and told him I'd be thanking him on race day, after I was whining on the trail.

I'm going to make this a high mileage week and then next week I'll cut my miles and do a 2 week taper before Delano Park. After that it will be just 6 more weeks to North Coast!

Oh yeah, one more thing, has anyone noticed their local McDonald's advertising something called "Fish McBites"? Are they serious? That is gross. Obesification knows no bounds, or decency.

McBite Me.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Sixth Annual Human Powered Brewery Tour

The Sixth Annual Human Powered Brewery Tour was held this past weekend in Fort Collins.

Celeste O'Connor, and her husband Scott Slusher, two local runners, started the tour in 2008 because they thought it would be a fun way to break out of the mid-winter doldrums, and here in Fort Collins, we have lots of breweries to visit, all within a fairly close proximity. They also thought it would be a challenge in the unpredictable February weather to get some friends together and run between breweries, stopping at each one.

The Tour drew 14 people the first year, and was a fun time. Unfortunately, Celeste's cousin Annie O'Donoghue, who lived in Washington DC, had taken a turn for the worse with her ALS. The day after the tour, Celeste and Scott flew back to see Annie, but Annie died a few days later, so the trip ended up including a funeral.

ALS is a rare disease in the general population, but not in Celeste's family. Another cousin, Bobby, died from ALS a few years after Annie. Celeste and Scott knew that Annie would have loved the beer tour, she had always enjoyed doing fun and interesting things. They decided that they would keep the event going in Annie and Bobby's honor, and make it a fundraiser for ALS, because the disease requires specialized care that comes at a high cost.

This year was a special year, "the best tour ever" according to Celeste, because 26 of her family members attended, from places as spread out as Alaska, Vermont, and Virginia.

The Tour started at 10 am at New Belgium Brewery. It's the first stop because it opens earliest of all the breweries. It also gets very crowded later in the day, so a big influx of people is easier to manage at 10 am. Celeste's family members began to show up, and pretty soon the place was packed with our group. One of the employees at New Belgium got in on the costume theme.

The Jetsons, a space monkey, space travelers, Major Kira (Cat), Captain Kirk (Mike), and Geordi LaForge (me), and a whole bunch of other interesting and creative variations on sci-fi and space outfits were there. Lots of aluminum foil...

Celeste spoke briefly at New Belgium about the theme of the tour, and announced that at each brewery, we were going to toast Annie and Bobby.

Soon we were ready to take off to Fort Collins Brewery, not quite a mile away.

At Fort Collins Brewery Scott broke out the donuts, a great accompaniment to beer at 11 am. I didn't have any beer yet, I have tried many of the beers at New Belgium and Fort Collins, but it was also too early for me.

The next stop on the Tour was Funkwerks, the longest leg of the tour. When we arrived, I decided it was time to start tasting. I'd never been to this brewery before. I tried a Saison, which was good. Most of their beers were high in alcohol and it doesn't take much for me. It was so good that I finished it without realizing it.

We took off for Odell Brewery, halfway back to the beginning of the Tour. The weather was starting to get nice, and everyone was taking off layers of clothing underneath their costumes. I ate my snacks that I brought with me, they served french fries and brats at Odell but I didn't think that would agree with my stomach. I opted for a tasting tray instead.

Dennis showed up to meet us there, and he shared the tasting tray with me. I like one of their pale ales, and the Mercenary IPA. Actually I like a lot of Odell beer, but I've already tasted many of them.

I didn't think about it, but for me, IPA tears holes in my stomach, especially when it's empty. I paid for that the rest of the day. We kept toasting Annie and Bobby at each stop on the Tour. At Odell we were all outside, it was so nice, almost 60 degrees and sunny.

Then it was time to move on to Pateros Creek, about 1/2 mile away. The running group had gotten smaller, and we were not moving in as straight of a line as we had earlier. At Pateros Creek, the employees told us that they would donate a dollar for every pint we purchased. Some of the group had thought about skipping Pateros, as it was getting later in the day, but we sent out the message that they were making this donation, so everyone came over. They opened a door for us so we were out in the sunshine.

After the toast, we went on to the last brewery, Equinox. I had never been there before, either. I tasted several of their beers, but I will never be able to remember what I had. I wasn't drunk at all, but I was definitely lightheaded from not eating all day. I did have pretzels there, because I was starving.

We were a loud group on the back patio, doing our final toast to Annie and Bob, then everyone toasted Celeste and Scott, and then Scott gave away prizes donated by Runners' Roost and Lisa at Green Events.

I measured 4.2 miles total distance on the Tour. It was time to go back to New Belgium, get my car, and go home. It was nearly 5 pm. Dennis drove me back to New Belgium to get my car, and then we went home. I was toast. I finally ate some real food, and then I was done for the day. Quite the endurance event.

I'm glad to see the event become such a success and that Celeste's family were able to join everyone on the Tour this year. Celeste's family was a fun, lively group of people and I could tell they had a blast on the Tour. It's a compelling story, and Scott told me that there were complete strangers in town who would stop to ask what we were doing in our costumes. When Scott told them the story behind it, they would offer donations, without him asking for anything.

It's grown a lot since I last participated in 2010, I missed the last two years because it fell on my work weekend. It's a fun way to spend a mid-winter day in Fort Collins. We're so lucky to live in this city with great beer and sometimes mild winter weather, streets wide enough and drivers tolerant enough to accomodate crazy, maybe even a little tipsy, runners in costumes.

I'm writing more about the Human Powered Brewery Tour, it will be in the Xplore section of the Coloradoan, our local paper, on February 24th, in The Running Life column that I write monthly. Here are some pictures from the Tour:

Cat & Sarah The JetsonsDan, time traveler

Scott & CelesteNew Belgium hostGeordi LaForge (me)Space Monkey and friendsMikeThe runners, early in the tourRunners, Fort Collins Brewery Time Travelers refuel Scott, Mike, and CatTasting a Saison at FunkwerksTaster Tray at OdellTrying to do the Vulcan salute after many tastesCeleste's familySunshine at Odelltoast at Pateros CreekMindy, Betsy & Elroy Jetsonoff to PaterosLast toastStill going strong
Group shot at Equinox

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday: And Your Little Dog, Too!

This Valentine's Day is shaping up to be very appropriate to the theme. I have my ACLS renewal class on Thursday, so I'll be pounding on mannequin chests doing CPR.

I'm a little stressed about the class. I don't use ACLS very often in my current job, or look at EKGs very often. The guidelines have changed since I last renewed in 2011, so there is some new material, the drug doses have changed, and I've never taken the one day class before, always did it in two days. So I'll be really glad when it's over.

This morning I read about this. All I can say is, glorifying gluttony is hazardous to your health. And the nurse waitress uniforms, well...I could try to laugh, but I'd rather cry. Obesification again, and nurses as waitresses. Doesn't sit well with me, and my sense of humor is non-existent today.

It's also Ash Wednesday. I would say there are a lot of people out there who should consider giving up gluttony for Lent. But then, who am I to judge. I am the last person in the world to be proclaiming what Jesus would eat. The Pope retired, so maybe there is no Lent this year. Let's all eat quadruple bypass burgers.

I am in a mood today. I already had a suckfest of a work week. I ended up going into overtime on Monday night because one of my patients had a mild reaction to a platelet transfusion, fortunately they were okay, but I had to make a trip down to the ER with the patient. I was the only nurse there, it was the last patient of the day, and I couldn't get a hold of the doctor after hours.

The doctor on call was a neurologist from a hospital in Denver, who had no clue about how to manage a blood transfusion reaction, which we do all the time. So that was no help to me. I needed an order for medication. Our secretary was trying to go home for the day, and she got stuck making phone calls for me, and we didn't even have the right number to call.

It was all I could do to be civil to the doctor on the phone, even though it wasn't her fault. Not enough thought had gone into the process of scheduling this patient, and it relates to staffing and changes going on in the system, among other things. Long story. What happens? The patient suffers, and the nurse caring for the patient does, too.

I had steam coming out of my ears by the time I got a hold of the patient's primary care physician and they were no help either. So I took the patient to the ER and that was that. I spent nearly two hours charting and doing paperwork related to the event.

Then Tuesday I had a long day of chemo plus other patients. I was so tired by the afternoon, starting at 2 pm I was looking at the clock every half hour and thinking, 6 more hours....5 1/2 more hours...

The general mood at work has been rather sour lately, it's hard to keep my spirits up when everyone around me is grouchy and fed up. We've had so many changes at work and it's chipping away at morale. The summer vacation scheduling part is only a small issue.

On the positive side, I did find out that it's likely that I will be able to get time off for the Cornbelt 24 Hour run. On the really sucky side, looks like working medical at Badwater may be out of the question this year, unless a miracle happens in July.

I've decided that this week I am not going to stress myself out by trying to get a million miles of running in. I'll get my quality workouts and run a hard 20 miles with Wheaties Boy on Sunday, but I need to keep my brain from spinning inside my skull again. I can't be wasting energy perseverating on stupid things.

Tonight I will run with the Wednesday night group and take the girls for a short run this morning, or what's left of it. Hoping for a nap so I can feel human again, and have a brain for my class tomorrow.

I really feel like telling everybody to F-Off today. It's a good thing I don't have to work again until Monday.

I have no heart, and no brain. Stay away from me, or you'll regret it...and your little dog, too!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

2013 Pemberton 50K: Hole in the Wall at the Cat House

Thirty-nine degrees and raining? In the winter, Arizona weather is often warm and sunny compared to most other places in the U.S., but somehow the past three times I've gone there for ultras, it's been cool and rainy, even cold.

That's how race day started. Dennis and I were barely awake at 4:30 am, listening to the rain on the roof at my dad's house. I was prepared for any weather, but wasn't looking forward to 50 kilometers of cold rain. I could have stayed home for that and had snow.

The night before, when we arrived in Phoenix, it was cloudy and breezy, but there was plenty of blue sky and it didn't look bad, other than the forecast, which was for rain.

By the time we got in the car to drive to Fountain Hills at 5:15, the roads were dry except for a few places, and there were a few stars visible in the sky. Promising blue holes overhead.

We left my dad's house and drove north to catch Chaparral Road to the 101 freeway. As we crossed Camelback Road, we saw a big coyote, wandering around in a parking lot, in the morning darkness. Must have been a rich coyote, hanging out near Fashion Square in Scottsdale. That's the first time I've ever seen a coyote in downtown Scottsdale.

We stopped off to grab my usual pre-ultra meal, a breakfast sandwich from McDonald's. I scarfed it down, knowing it was a short, fast pace I'd be running, and hoped I'd digest it in time. We drove through the ghost town of Fountain Hills, careful of the omnipresent Sheriff Joe deputies who love to catch people speeding at odd hours on the deserted streets with the 30 mph speed limit.

We arrived at the park and picked up my race packet. It was cold, but not terrible. Nothing wet was coming down from the sky, it didn't even smell like rain, but the sky was cloudy. It was dark until the race start at 7 am.

Brian Wieck and his mom, Joan, were at the table with other volunteers, handing out race bibs. Joan and Brian's dad, Keith, who was at a softball tournament, were our neighbors when we lived in Fountain Hills. We've been friends with Brian since he started the race, 13 years ago.

I hit the bathroom and got my act together before the start. I saw Robert Andrulis, and Chris Harrison, two of my ultra buddies from Arizona. Everyone was bundled up except for a few people in shorts, but hats and gloves, jackets and tights were the norm. I felt as cold as I ever do in Colorado. I wore my PearlIzumi jacket and my capri tights, neck gaiter over my ears, and gloves.

Brian gave the pre-race briefing in the faint sunrise. We lined up, and we were off...

I took off at a good pace, not too fast but one that would be a challenge to keep. I felt good on the first ascent and over the hill into the first aid station, I ran much of this talking with Robert. My legs were tired, they burned. I knew it was from the three hard 15ish mile days earlier in the week,and that was the point. I wanted to run unrested. I still moved well.

At the first aid station I saw Ric Hatch from Flagstaff, he's been working that aid station there since the beginning of the race, I remember working it with him one year when it rained. There was snow on the little knob of boulders above our heads, maybe 500 feet of elevation above us. I could feel sleet for about 5 minutes, but it didn't last. The sun went in and out from the clouds, but was mostly behind the clouds. Cold.

This year's race featured the new and improved Pemberton Trail. The last hour of the loop is no longer through the sand pit that used to drag on forever and ever and ever. Now there is a nice wide dirt trail that winds through the desert, with mostly a gentle downhill grade. The length is roughly the same as the old trail, but it makes it seem so much quicker now. And no sand! I don't know if it's faster because it's very twisting, lots of short, sharp little curves, but the surface is much better and it's much more interesting than the straight, sandy service road we used to run.

The second aid station had a canopy over it, and James Bonnett was there. I've known James since he was a little kid. Now he's all grown up. I grabbed some coke and pretzels and took off.

My stomach was not too happy in this section on the first loop. I realized several things: Too many beans the day before. I'd eaten black beans and rice for lunch and then had hummus for dinner, and I don't think it agreed with me. The McDonald's sandwich prior to running fast was the next problem. I think I'll save those for 12 hour and longer races in the future.

As a result, nature was calling. I felt like I needed to use the facilities, and I was afraid to stop because I'd told Dennis I'd be in between 2:15 and 2:30, and to be there past the timing tent with my stuff when I came through after the first loop. If I arrive late he always worries. That's one of the reasons he doesn't crew for me.

I got in at 2:25 and he had the camera (good), but he didn't have my stuff (BAD!). It was at the truck. It only delayed me about 2 minutes, but I whined, "Dennis!" He really is terrible at stuff like this. It's my own fault for asking him to do this for me, because I know better. But I thought it would save me time, and it backfired. The lessons will be repeated until they are learned. Some people are made to be crew people, some are not.

Brian puts on such a good race, and it benefits the park. It's a fast trail race too, defnitely has the potential for a PR. It is highly recommended by this blogger...

I took off on the second loop and immediately started obsessing about Dennis not being there, and then I felt bad for getting annoyed with him, and pretty soon my brain was spinning around inside my skull again, and it was slowing me down. Finally, on the way up the ascent, I had to tell myself, "Shut up and run!"

Another time when I found my mind wandering I brought myself back to reality by thinking of running for Team Gab. I really needed to do my best out there. If a 6 year old can endure two years of torturous medical procedures just to stay alive, I can run a 50K without whining.

Still, I was mentally discombobulated. I could not concentrate or focus, I did move pretty well, but I know I slowed myself down by being a head case. I walked a few times on the ascent but not for very long. My legs were still burning, but no worse than on the first loop. Mostly I was thinking, menopause sucks. How long will this last? For the first 8 or 9 miles of the second loop, my mind was bouncing all over the place.

Once I got on the Pemberton again, I pulled myself together. I felt strong and ran the last hour hard, a bit faster during the last hour than the previous loop. I had hoped to finish in under 5 hours but it wasn't happening. I settled for my 5:06 and change, and I felt good about the whole run, even with my temporary mental flake-out.

Brian congratulated me at the finish line and I went over to see Joan and get some chili. Dennis was working the finish line, collecting tags off of bibs for the timers. I apologized to him for being the RPB.

I talked with my friend Chris Harrison for a while. He's excited to be doing the Zion 100 in April. I'm a bit envious...

I didn't even come close to placing in my age group, I got my doors blown off by all the 40-something women, but I don't care about that. I got the workout I wanted and a solid 81 mile week, and I learned how to talk myself down from my crazy hormonal state, which I'm sure I haven't seen the last of....

I did run it 12 minutes faster than in 2010. I am going to have to rest to do well in Decatur in 4 weeks. I have 2 more weeks of high mileage and then I taper.

After the race, we hung out for a while and talked with people we know. I was talking to Will LaFollette, whom I haven't seen since before I left Arizona. I almost didn't recognize him! But we got to talking, he's been injured so hasn't been able to run. We got on the topic of retirement. Yeah, that old dinosaur concept from the last century...

This is off the topic, but I have an idea for a new retirement benefit for our generation: body removal from your workplace. Take your last pay check and deduct the cost of removing your body when you croak on the job. Perfect for our generation, who will have to work until we croak.

Brian did the awards, and we hung out just a little longer, then we left before I froze my butt off.
There was another event at the park, one of those obstacle course races. It was crazy, there were a million people and school busses in the lower part of the park, plus Sheriff Joe's deputies. They are everywhere. But no NRA stickers or Steven Seagall sightings. Not even a single black helicopter.

We stopped and saw Houdini and Huey at the park visitor center before we took off. Houdini is the Gila Monster, Huey is the rattlesnake. Both of them are well-cared for at the visitor center thanks to my friend Woofie.

Then we drove by our old house before we left Fountain Hills and went back to Scottsdale.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful, it was a relaxed visit with my dad and stepmom. I went for an easy run on the canal Sunday morning, and it was cool but the weather was perfect, clear skies.

The only excitement, if you can call it that, was when my dad was trying to pick up the cat, the cat clawed him and he somehow lost his balance and fell into the wall with his shoulder, leaving a cat-shaped hole in the drywall. Tom & Jerry couldn't get any better than that. We teased my dad about it relentlessly, the cat hole in the wall. Both my dad and the cat are okay, or we wouldn't be laughing about it...
We flew back to Denver and got home early Sunday evening, and the girls were thrilled to see us. They seemed unstressed, Morgan always takes good care of them.

And back to the old routine on Monday morning...