Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Beer, Bacon Boobs, and Blight...

Just another Sunday afternoon in the Fort. The things that happen when you least expect them...never a dull moment!

Yesterday while I was out running and Dennis was with his friends at the Brewfest, there was an article in the paper alerting the public to a potential Hepatitis A outbreak traced to a restaurant where we eat frequently. We happened to eat there on the exact day to which they traced the source. It's been about 20 years since I had a Hepatitis A vaccine and thirty years for Dennis, so we decided we should go get vaccines. They advised online registration, so I did it and we had an appointment to go to the Larimer County health department at 1:40 p.m.

The registration shot back this e-mail, confirming our "tickets to the event". Like it was a concert...

Apparently so did a gazillion other people. When we got there, there were huge lines, people waiting to register, waiting to be screened, waiting for vaccines, waiting for immune globulin shots. They were all there for the same reason. I never realized how many people could be affected within a short period of time at a single restaurant. I saw quite a few familiar faces there, not from the restaurant, but just from around town. A lot of people eat there.

We waited in line and it wasn't too bad, we were in and out of there in 30 minutes. Now we are good to eat wherever we want, even the dumpsters!

But seriously, I noticed a few things at the health department. One was that the nurses giving the shots were not obviously washing or sanitizing their hands between clients, and that they were not wearing gloves while giving the shots. When you're dealing with public and large numbers of people, especially with the prevalence of viruses like Hepatitis C (not A, we're talking C, the blight of my generation) and who knows what other communicable diseases in blood and body fluids, you better be wearing gloves.

Anyway that was my observation, from the nurse in me. I got the shot anyway, and Dennis did too. He was giving everyone a hard time by saying he was turning into a zombie and was craving raw meat. That's the crazy dude I'm married to.
I got the shot in my left arm and it didn't hurt until afterwards, and so far it's not bad. I got a cute little blue bandaid. As we were leaving we saw some other people from the running club and stopped for a minute to talk.

We had to wait for two trains on the way home!

One was at Vine and Lemay, waiting for the endless train to go by. We decided to turn off at Lincoln and stop at Odell's for a beer. Dennis got a Nitro Five Barrel, and I had a Town Pump "Pail" Ale. Bitchen Swill.

While we sat there drinking our beers we observed the influx of people from the Brewfest and others. We got there just in time, because no sooner did we sit down at a table when a huge pile of people came in. Maybe 50 people arrived all at once. And they were HUGE...

There was one guy we called Bacon Boobs. He was easily 400 pounds, and was wearing one of those periodic chart t-shirts that said, Ba Co N, stretched across his man boobs. HUGE. Those boobs were much bigger than mine. Spectacularly Awesome. That shirt was made for him. He was sitting with two female companions and between the three of them they easily weighed 1000 pounds. Wow. I could not take a picture of Mr. Bacon Boobs though.

Then we got this view across from us. Much smaller person, but still...I think Bacon Boobs was easier on the eyes than the total package attached to this set of underwear, I spared you the front side.

One the way home from Odell, there was ANOTHER train at Riverside and Lemay! We circumvented it by going down to Timberline and driving home that way. What the train hell! Another fun fact about living in Fort Collins. The multiple trains that always block traffic at the most inconvenient times, typically at rush hours.

At least we avoided sitting in traffic in the 91 degree heat. A good beer is the perfect way to take the edge off a Hepatitis A vaccine. Just in case you ever need that bit of information.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wrapping Up June

The past few weeks have been a bit frustrating running-wise, and it was because I didn't know when my legs would start to respond to training after Cornbelt. I didn't rest a lot, but I did take it easy for a few weeks and didn't start serious workouts until June. The past three weeks I've been tired and my legs feel sluggish.

After yesterday's improvement in the speedwork, I decided it was time to get the first long run in today instead of waiting until Sunday. I planned a challenging, hilly 30-ish mile course up at Horsetooth on the hills. I thought it might be a little quieter up there since today is the big Brewfest downtown, but I was wrong. WAY wrong. There was a bike race, and then I think there was the MS 150 ride, but I'm not totally sure who the different groups of cyclists were. All I know is that I was outnumbered easily by several hundred cyclists.

It was a clear morning, cool enough because there was a breeze, but I could feel that the cool air wouldn't last long. I got up to Rotary Park and took off southbound.

I didn't realize there was any event going on until I got to the bottom of Maniac Hill by Spring Canyon Dam, I saw people along the side of the road, lots of signs, and sheriffs cars and an ambulance, but the people in uniform were just standing around. I continued down the hill to my turnaround point, where the road flattens out past the curves.

I stayed on the shoulder and only had to jump off into the gravel a few times. Most of the cyclists, even in the race, were nice. No one gave me any attitude.

Coming down the hill the first time I saw this snake wafer. Just left of center, on the far side of the road in the shoulder. Triangular head, a rattler. Fresh out of Cheez Whiz! On the way back up I took a picture across the road. It was a huge rattlesnake. Was. Probably a four footer.

I continued back up the road over Maniac to Rotary Park, drank some and refreshed my bottles with ice and water, then decided to do the Maniac section again and get it over with. It's the steeper of the two out and backs on the course.

I ran even splits for the two out and back sections, and then I went north for the Horsetooth Dam and Lory State Park turnoff section. Before I started the northbound stretch, I filled my bandana with ice and tied it around my neck. It was getting hot. I ran across Horsetooth Dam on my way back up both times, to break up the intense, steep uphill. I also ran even splits for the two north out and backs. I felt strong the whole way. I didn't push the pace but I ran steady, took no walking breaks, and just ran what felt comfortable.

In the end the stats were: 30.2 miles, 3648 feet of climbing, the same of descent, 5 hours, 14 minutes and 7 seconds. That's about a 10:24 pace. I ran a steady pace the whole way, I didn't vary each out and back section by more than a few seconds. The last two out and backs were hot, it was 81 degrees when I finished. I felt good in the heat, and strong even in the late climbs. The cyclists were cheering for me as they went by, maybe I looked strong coming uphill. Or maybe they were just cheering because they were going downhill!

It was a mentally refreshing run, too. I didn't think about anything. I listened to my music and watched the cyclists stream by. I needed that after this past week with my brain going at full speed the whole time.

I was worried that I was too fatigued, but today's run put those fears to rest. I got a solid week in, 86+ miles, and some good workouts. I'll take tomorrow off. I'm only planning two more long runs in July through early August and those will be flat terrain, one might be on the track. The marathon in mid-August will be a hard long run, and then I'll be 5 weeks out from NorthCoast.

I wrapped up my wrap-up with a milkshake. A chocolate one. I made it myself. Now it's time for a nap with Buffaloes.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Hail Mary! Twenty Miles of Chopped Salad

I haven't been blogging much this week, it's been crazy. I've been busy with work, which is awesome, and getting my miles in even though my legs don't feel as fresh as I'd like them to be, but we've had a few mini natural disasters around here lately.

It started innocently enough early this week, nice clear skies in the mornings followed by late afternoon thunderstorms, which is typical summer Colorado weather. I ran the bike paths early in the week, everything was green and growing and summery.

Tuesday was a great day, especially in the evening when I had my radio show on KRFC. The podcast isn't up on their website yet and the host of the show told me she is behind on getting those things up so it could be August before it's available. But the good news is it went very well and I will likely do another show in the future. As soon as the podcast is up I will post the link. It was fun, I really liked it and I felt comfortable with Lindsay, the show host.

I had a lot of client appointments this week which gave me a good indicator of how busy I will be able to get before I need to hire some help. I'm not there yet but I have some thinking to do over the next few weeks so I can start putting all of that in place and be ready in case...

Tuesday night we had a massive hailstorm, the girls were both on the bed with us, trembling. We could hear the hail crashing on the roof, I went in the back office and looked out the open window and could smell the parsley, being shredded in the dark. It sounded like the windows were going to break at times, and like someone was pounding the roof with baseball bats.

The next morning we surveyed the damage. No damage to the cars, windows, or obvious damage to the roof, everything looked intact. But the yard...

The garden was shredded into what looked like chopped salad.

We'll have to start over, the good thing is it's June and we still have another two months, we can at least plant lettuce and other things again. The baby tomato plants are gone. Lucky I had just harvested the broccoli and most of the cauliflower the day before the storm. The beets might survive but most of them are big enough to pull now anyway.

I had a 20 mile run planned and got out there and did it. I decided on a tour of south Fort Collins, which turned into a Hail Mary tour.

The piles of hail along Lemay Avenue were easily a foot deep, deeper in some spots.

As I ran up the Power Trail there were areas that were flooded, and other places that looked like a blizzard hit.

When I got to the place where the Power Trail was a lake, I decided on a detour through the golf course.

That was flooded, too. I ended up running through mid-calf-deep icy water!

Everywhere I turned there were more piles of deep hail.

It made for an interesting and adventurous run. I felt like I was in the mountains again, something I've been missing lately. In July I plan to get up to Rocky Mountain National park, regardless of the bad ankles, I'm going.

This morning it was speed day and usually I run with Wheaties Boy but he was out of town, so I decided to sleep in and do my miles in the daylight, and on pavement, which helps. Finally busted through the 7 minute mark again, despite my dead legs. The next two were close, but no cigar...7:08 and 7:02. Still not bad for tired legs.

Tomorrow I have a long run planned. While the rest of Fort Collins is downtown at the Brewers Festival, I am hoping to have the roads to myself and run a good portion of the day, maybe 6 hours or so. Next week is already the 4th of July, Isabelle's birthday on the 5th, and I am looking forward to three weeks from today.

That's when I take off to Lone Pine, California to be on Badwater Medical again. I cannot wait to get back out there and see everyone, I missed it so much last year when I was stuck here in that horrible torture session at my old job. I'm driving this time, 17 hours total each way, but will stop off and visit friends along the way in western Colorado the first night, and of course make my necessary Sushi Koma stop in Las Vegas.

But mostly I'm looking forward to the long hours on the road, with the windows down, no AC, hot wind blasting in my face, and clearing my mind. I need a reset button!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Redrum: Estes Park Half Marathon 2014

Redrum. That was what I thought at mile 11 when we were running by the Stanley Hotel, where the movie The Shining was filmed.

At that moment, I felt like I was going to puke something that looked like red rum.

I ran the Estes Park Half Marathon this morning as a hard training run. Might as well have been a race, except I wasn't thinking about competing. The effort was close to what I'd do in a race, except my legs are dead at the end of an 80 mile week.

The race started at 6:20 so I woke up at zombie o'clock and dragged myself out of bed. I was so tired, didn't want to wake up. But I got my act together by 4:15 and drove up the canyon to Estes Park in the darkness. It was just getting light when I arrived.

As the sun rose it looked like it would be a perfect day, it was calm, with a few clouds, and cool. In past years it always seemed to get hot in the marathon by about halfway through.

I told Wheaties Boy the other day that I would happy with a sub-2 hour effort at the half marathon. This race is TOUGH. The fact that it starts at 7500 feet and tops out at 7900 feet, with lots of hills in between, is enough. The temperatures were perfect, it was about 50 degrees, but there was a stiff headwind for about 4 miles on the downhill section in the second half, which made running the downhill part a bit more difficult.

I was doing this run more for my head than my body, even though it is a hard training run. Since I rarely train above 7000 feet, I don't generally run well at altitude anymore. I want to be able to carry a 9 minute pace easily, for hours, as part of my ultra training, but a 9 minute pace at this altitude, on this course, would be a challenge.

I was hitting 8:30 to 9:30 pace consistently, with one 7:54 and a 10 minute mile or two. I knew the effort was hard because I felt nauseated the whole time, which is typical for me when I make any kind of effort at altitude. The best I ever did at this marathon was a 4:12, in 2007, and I ran well that year in all of my other races. I've never done the half before.

The course climbs consistently from about mile 4 through 7, then there's a fairly steady downhill until mile 11 that's broken up by a few steep little uphill pitches. I was fighting that headwind and my splits were down in the 8 minute range but it was so hard.

I was working too hard to want to try a gel. It probably would have helped. I stuck to water. I carried my pack with a full water bottle and a couple of gels so I wouldn't have to stop at the aid stations. That turned out to be a good plan because every time I got to an aid station table, there were a lot of people and it was crowded.

It was interesting and somewhat entertaining to be running a distance that I rarely do anymore. I noticed a lot of funny things watching the runners. Lots of those multi-bottle waist packs, lots of compression socks, lots of camelbacks and running vest-packs. Looked like these people were out for a long day in the woods, like they packed a lunch and then some. But they were doing a road race that might take them 2 or 3 hours. Just interesting to see what people think they need for this distance. There were aid stations nearly every mile.

I ate a big breakfast at 4 am, but it was long gone and when I finished I was starving. When I got to 11 miles, we run by the Stanley hotel and I was to the point of taking deep sighs and wishing for it to over. So as we ran past the Stanley, I was thinking about how I felt like death, like redrum spelled backwards (for anyone who never saw or read The Shining). I looked at my watch at 11 miles and it was 1:39 something. Oh shit. I better push hard to get in under 2.

The last two miles of the race go on a fairly flat bike path until the last half mile, which is a steady climb up to the high school track. You finish with about 3/4 of a lap on the track. I felt a little better on the flats and picked it up, passing a lot of people. But I couldn't turn my legs over much faster, I know I would have been on the side of the path puking then. I just wanted to be done. My watch time was 1:57:29, and the chip time was a second or two off of that. My last 5K split was sub-27 minutes.

I checked the results as soon as they were posted, while I ate a breakfast burrito inside the school and stayed warm. A storm was moving in, which made me even happier that I wasn't in the marathon. When I saw the results, I noticed that 1:57:29 puts me at an 8:59 average pace. Awesome! Sub-9!

I also saw that I placed third in my age group, and the two women ahead of me were only ahead by 2 and 4 minutes. I decided not to stick around for awards, I wanted to get home and eat and sleep!

I drove back down the canyon and I realized it was the first time I've been on highway 34 since the flood last fall. I could not believe the devastation, of the river banks, boulders, trees, houses, and bridges, especially in the area around Drake. There was this one area that was completely leveled, and in the river there were still large pieces of debris in a few spots: washed out bridges, pieces of houses, furniture, pieces of cars, and other large objects that have still not been recovered. Lots of buildings with half the foundation gone, sticking out over the edge of the riverbanks, with signs all over the front entrances, driveways and windows.

It's a cool day here in the Fort and I needed some food so I made some pancakes and now I'm about ready for a nap. Tomorrow starts another week. That was so much fun this morning, I'm considering running a 10K next weekend if I can find one. Don't know where this wild hair came from!

Friday, June 20, 2014


I have so much on my mind, it's hard to hold my tongue, it's overflowing!

The past few days have been busy and full. I'm trying to prepare for an hour-long radio show next week, and I got a new client last week, and then got a call from a former patient yesterday who wants me to come work with her. I met with an advertising rep from a paper in a nearby town, and I'm staying on top of things, but the pace has increased.

Working with clients has been rewarding and satisfying beyond description. I loved working with patients at the hospital but you were so limited in what you could do or say. There wasn't enough time to give them. Now I can spend the time, and give them the attention I always wanted to.

When I got the call from my former patient, it was this feeling of gratitude that came over me, I felt like melting into the ground. I happened to really like working with this person and I felt like I'd just been handed a gift. To be able to help someone in ways that they never can be helped in traditional health care.

It was a strange coincidence, maybe, that the same day I got the call from the former patient, I also ran into one of my former co-workers, and was contacted by another former co-worker on Facebook. I was out running and saw one of the nurses I used to work closely with. We spent a lot of time talking and catching up, and whenever I hear from people I used to work with, they say things haven't gotten better. They look tired, spent, and are looking for ways out.

It's so sad. I think it's sad that in our rush to implement the ACA we've allowed the new health care model to be a wholly profit-centered big corporate one, where the people calling the shots have no idea about what it's like to work directly with patients as a health care provider. Fits right under the armpit of our oligarchy. I have a lot to say about that, as you already know if you've followed this blog for any length of time.

And I am writing about it...and will be putting quite a bit of time into that project before long.

Which reminds me, this cartoon from this tweet by @MalwareTechBlog cracked me up this morning!

Ran with Wheaties Boy at the cemetery this morning. I ran as hard as I could but only got into the 7:20s for my miles. My legs are still tired, but at least I was consistent and I did them. I will have improvement in the coming weeks. I feel better this week but my legs are still sluggish. The half-marathon on Sunday should be interesting. I am so glad I didn't sign up for the full marathon. I will end up with between 75 and 80 miles this week.

Last night I made a pizza at home on my travertine tile in the oven. It was for sure the best pizza I have ever made, thanks to the tile. It works the same as a pizza stone. You have to use an unglazed tile. I need to get motivated to post the recipe on Bitchen Swill. I got the ingredient ideas from Whole Foods but I did it differently than they do.

A few weeks ago I was starving and walked into Whole Foods (generally a verybad idea) but they had these different pizzas, and I tried a couple, and this one was amazing. It was a barbecue sauce base with barbecue beef brisket and pineapple, some hot peppers, and I can't remember what else. But I decided I needed to make it for Dennis. I used fresh mozzarella cheese, cilantro, red onion, and tabasco in addition to all those things and of course my own pizza dough recipe, which worked out much better on the tile.

For our anniversary I asked for a pizza stone- or something like it, and a tile is a lot less expensive. Even though I do shop at Whole Foods on occasion, I don't like to pay more for something than I can get at a much more reasonable price. When I found out you can use an unglazed tile as a pizza stone that's what I asked for, on one of Dennis's trips to Home Depot. Where else can you get your wife an anniversary present for a couple of bucks?

The one thing I've had to push back is writing. I really want to work on my writing project and all these other things are priorities right now, but I have one more presentation in mid-July to prepare for, and it won't take too long, but as soon as the radio show is done I will have more time to focus on the writing. I have so much I want to say, things that want to spill out of my brain constantly and I've been making notes and the notes are piling up and taking over! So much to say...