Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Donut Triangle Birthday Urban Adventure

I first threatened this idea several years ago when I was still writing a running column in the local paper. It was around the time that Dunkin Donuts was making a resurgence in the local area after being gone for years.

I was thinking about themed runs for future birthdays and out of curiosity I checked on a map to see how far it was from the new Fort Collins Dunkin Donuts to the planned Windsor Dunkin Donuts. The most direct road route was 13.1 miles. How convenient. I proposed three different versions, a half marathon, marathon, and double donut marathon. That would have been perfect for my 52nd birthday. But as things turned out I wasn't focused on running at the time and the last thing I felt like doing was forcing myself to do 52 miles on a double out and back on the heavily trafficked roads between Fort Collins and Loveland.

I put the whole thing on hold for a while, and then when my friend Melody convinced me to join the Donut Running group for Donut Fridays last summer, I began thinking about it again. By then, there was also a Dunkin Donuts in Loveland. I decided it would be easier, and shorter, to do a loop hitting all the Dunkin Donuts locations. I measured it out and it came to about 35 miles, not 53, but just reverse the digits and it works.

I decided to plan it and invited a lot of running friends to come join me on a part of the loop. There are so many running events going on this time of year and spring break was coming up so I decided to choose the first weekend in March and avoid spring break. Two of my friends had just finished ultras last weekend and they wouldn't be doing it. But as it turned out I got 5 takers to join me on my urban birthday trek.

Why do I do these birthday runs? They are really just a way to do my favorite activity and be outdoors on my feet for a long time and share it with friends. It's always fun to dream up some kind of creative theme, to make things interesting. Celebrating another year of being able to do long distances on my feet, because I've learned that you can't take this stuff for granted.

I woke up around 4 am on Saturday and had coffee, the girls wanted to know what I was doing so they got up with me, but had to go in the crate when I left so Dennis could sleep. They didn't like that too much.

I ran the one mile from my house to Dunkin Donuts on south College and as soon as I arrived, Felix drove up. Felix has been on most of my birthday adventures. We had a donut, lit candles on it, and took off. The sunrise on the Mason Trail as we headed south was spectacular. One scene I never got a picture of, was the geese flying overhead in the sunrise, and the light was shining on them.

The whole way down we had a typical Felix and Alene running conversation, pointing out goofy signs along the way, joking about the medical and recreation marijuana shops all along the strip between Fort Collins and Loveland, laughing that we could stop in and work on our donut appetites. Felix and I have a long history of odd conversations at odd hours on foot, as he is the person who was with me during the infamous SpongeBob sighting in the middle of the night at Badwater.

Felix had to be at the airport later in the morning so he said he would run as far as he could with me but then had to turn around and go back to his car. He stayed with me all the way into Loveland, at the Walmart on Garfield. It was only two and a half more miles to the Loveland Dunkin Donuts.

There I took a little break, charged my phone and used the bathroom. It was breakfast time and there a huge line. I didn't think I'd be able to get a donut before having to get going toward Windsor, but the line died down and I got my donut fix.

I took off after about twenty minutes and started heading back north to the bike path across from Walmart. Once I got off the Rambo running stretch on 287, it was a relief. Quiet, peaceful, no traffic on the bike path. The day was shaping up to be beautiful. I went east on the bike bath past Boyd Lake and north to county road 30, taking it east past the stinky cow farm to the frontage road along I-25.

On the way across the bike path I was thinking about the Walmart run, when my friend Morgan was still with us, she joined us on that run. I could hear her voice and see her smile. I miss her so much. I'll be writing a post about her in the next few weeks.

I stuck my music in my ears and proceeded at a fast powerwalking pace with a few brief running bursts in between. It was a relief to be by myself on a long run again. I didn't have to think about anything, just moving forward, listening to music, from donut stop to donut stop.

I needed a break, to get away from the house and from thinking. So much mental work in my life right now. It was refreshing to have a puppy break, as much as I missed them and wanted puppy kisses along the way, it felt so good not to be constantly vigilant for chewing, barking, digging, and all the other forms of mischief I have to watch for while I work at home each day.

I crossed I-25 at highway 392 and took that east on the shoulder all the way to the Windsor Dunkin Donuts. That was the worst stretch other than 287. The cars were whizzing by fast, and lots of big macho loud trucks. I had my music and could ignore the noise.
At the Windsor Dunkin Donuts I had to text several people who were planning on meeting me later on. Jacob was going to meet me at Strauss Cabin and Kechter, and Crisann and Andy were meeting me at Harmony and Timberline, and Jen would find us and meet us somewhere between there and the finish. I took a half hour break, shed some extra layers of clothing, ate more than a donut, and got more drinks. I took off for the final leg of the triangle around 12:15.

As I ran north I wanted to connect with the county road that would allow me to avoid 392 again, but I wasn't sure which one it was. Fortunately I saw some people walking and I asked them, and got on the right road. I headed west toward Fort Collins past the dairy farms and ranches with a spectacular view of the Front Range, Longs Peak, Mummy Range, and Indian Peaks.

I was surprised at how much traffic was on the road going west. It used to be a lot quieter out there but there are so many people living in Windsor now, traffic is heavy. No one tried to run me off the road, fortunately. Then I had the narrow-to-no shoulder section of 1.5 miles going north to Kechter. That's the road that connects the Timnath Walmart and Costco to Highlands Ranch and the golf courses. Lots of traffic there, too.

After crossing I-25 again, Jacob was waiting at the top of the hill for me. My timing was perfect, I anticipated 1:45 pm and got there on the nose. We had a good conversation and he offered his house nearby in case I needed a bathroom, water, or anything, but I was doing fine and feeling good. I had some hot spots on my heels but other than that I felt fine. I wasn't getting enough salt because my fingers were all puffy, so I made a mental note to dump some S caps in a drink when I stopped on Timberline.

Going north on Timberline, Jacob ran with me until we met up with Andy and Crisann. We took off and stopped at a gas station so I could buy a cold drink and I got an ice sandwich. As if 4 donuts weren't enough sugar. Ice cream sandwiches are one of my favorite running foods, and this hit the spot.

We caught the Power Trail going north to Centennial, and Jen joined us about 2 miles from the finish. Jen has also been there for my past urban adventure birthday runs. We went west to Lemay and Swallow, then west on Swallow back to the Fort Collins Dunkin Donuts. It was 10 hours and 19 minutes including all the stops and breaks along the way, and 36 miles.

Crisann's husband Dave met us there and joined us for a celebratory donut, my fourth of the day, took our finish line picture, and then they gave me a ride home, which I was thankful for.

The girls were thrilled to see me. Dennis was working on a puppy fence in the back yard to protect our garden boxes from the wild diggers. I felt pretty good, but my neck, shoulders and low back are sore from carrying my pack all day. Legs feel fine today, just stiff, and a few tender spots on my feet that would have blistered had I been out any longer.

I am so glad I finally did this thing and got it behind me. Now I no longer have this hanging over my head. I can move on to other, non-donut-themed, urban adventures. Felix and I did notice that there is now a fifth Walmart, so perhaps my 55th birthday run will have another Walmart theme, but no guarantees. For now, I'm just glad to be able to stay upright and moving forward, and to have another birthday.

Happy donuts, everyone. Thanks to all my friends who joined me on foot and in spirit! Now I need to get busy losing this 20 pound weight I'm carrying around! No more donuts for me!

photo credits: Felix Wong

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lawyers, Guns and Money

That's the song that was in my head when I woke up this morning. For some weird reason. And then I realized it was the manifestation of all the insanity that's happening in Washington DC. If you don't know the lyrics, check this out:

Just thought I'd share that for fun! Could be the theme song for POTUS Number 45.

I haven't posted because life has simply been too busy, between trying to write a little for the book but having fifty gazillion distractions over the past few weeks. Now I am excited to get back into a routine.

I got on the scale and exceeded my previous highest weight ever, so now I can say I do have 20 pounds to lose and I have set a goal of the end of the year, I think two pounds a month is reasonable. I'm not going to restrict myself very much, just pay better attention to eating smaller portions, trying not to stress eat and drink, which I realized has been a problem for me since about November (hmm...)

Running-wise I have been fairly consistent getting the miles on my feet. I want to build up to where I feel comfortable with signing up for at least the 24 hour at Across the Years. I'd like to do the 48 hour but I'll have to see how this year unfolds. I'm thinking about the six-day race in a few years, maybe for my 55th birthday goal.

Speaking of birthdays, I'm having a Donut Triangle Run next weekend. It's about 53 km but probably a little more than that. I have decided that if the weather sucks, I'm not doing it. I have nothing to prove, and I don't feel like being miserable.

I held a workshop 2 weeks ago that went well, I might do some other ones occasionally on different topics. I have an art show/display coming up, I'll have my work at Elevation 5003 Distillery here in Fort Collins during the month of March.
The girls continue to grow. Velcro now has most of her adult teeth and Gypsy is starting to get hers. Gypsy still looks little to me but se has grown, a lot. She just looks small compared to Velcro. We've been hiking, and the weather's been so warm we've been dipping our toes in the Poudre River. The girls love the water.

Last weekend was the Human Powered Brewery Tour, which we attended with the girls. We only went to New Belgium and Odell, neither of us had the energy. The girls did well. Other than trying to steal our beer, they enjoyed seeing all the people and the other dogs. Gypsy barked a lot, she is learning to make her voice heard. We start obedience training next week. I can't wait.

I was talking with a friend the other day and we shared our coping mechanisms since the Trumpocalypse started. I think we are getting a little better handle on living with the uncertainty and insanity, though it's still stressful because every day you wake up not knowing what else he has in store for you.

I've been calling my pathetic excuse for a Senator Cory Gardner who is afraid to meet with the public. These buffoons are so scared now, they know they have pissed off their constituents and the ones who have held public meetings run away and escape through the back door. They make excuses and say things like there are paid protesters. I wish I could get paid for this!

They think they are entitled to their positions as elected officials but they need to remember they work for ALL of us, not just Republicans. I have been calling for nearly a month and only twice I have spoken to an actual staffer. I get tired of leaving voicemails, but I continue to do it.

I went to the Planned Parenthood rally in Old Town a couple of weeks ago and there was a great turnout. If Obama was so bad, why weren't people marching in the streets and calling their elected officials and demanding public accountability then? This has taken the lazy, self-interested politicians by surprise. They were so comfortable in their jobs and not having to deal with a crush of phone calls and angry protesters all the time.

I have a call with my mentor/publisher this morning and I'm really excited about my progress despite the distractions. I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine.

Oh, and did I mention? Spring is here. Crocuses are blooming, little green leaves are opening up on the bushes, and this morning it's raining. February at 5000 feet and 40N latitude. Just a little early.

Back to work. I want to post more, and that might happen now that I can focus on writing. See you again soon. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Running on Eggshells

Just 12 days into the #45 Presidency, every day has brought a new wave of dread, anxiety, disgust, and sadness.

I find it hard to focus on whatever I'm doing. It's an unsettled feeling, like the ground is moving underneath me, and I'm not sure when the other shoe will drop.

I'm trying to keep it together, not get enraged, and breathe. Some days are better than others in that regard. Yesterday was a particularly difficult day, and I went out hoping to get a run in, but I was tired. So I walked. Twelve plus miles, hoping the rhythm would clear my head.

It didn't.

I came home and tried to focus on preparing dinner, playing with the girls, and checked Facebook. Big mistake.

I use social media for a lot of socializing, and some work-related stuff. But I've lately allowed myself to be sucked into some discussions where there is a combination of intelligent discussion, ideas for taking action, and venting. And then there are the occasional people I haven't heard from in a while.

I try not to vent political stuff on Facebook but when it comes to nursing and issues around that, I do. It's a way I've been able tor each out to some of my fellow nurses who are still in the corporate world and living with fear for their jobs.

The other night an acquaintance of mine posted something about his frustration with the Trumpocracy and his anger with the people who are defending him and looking the other way as he issues one legal atrocity after another. The way he wrote the post hit home so well for me, that I read the few comments posted on there. One comment set me off. It was someone who first of all used very poor grammar and sentence structure, claimed to be a veteran, and was using personal attacks against the person who posted.

I lost it. I wrote back and told him I don't care if he's a veteran, that doesn't give him a special right to come back and attack citizens who disagree with him. I always resent when people use their veteran status to attack other people when justifying their political views. Didn't veterans defend this country so we can have free speech, freedom of religion, and all the other freedoms that now are at risk under the current escalating coup? People don't seem to be able to understand how to attack an idea without attacking the person.

The guy wrote back of course, attacking me, as I expected him to, but I didn't engage him any further. I am just so tired of the weak and irrational excuses people are making to justify their oppressive political stances.

It was a pathetic waste of my time and energy, but it did feel good, so maybe it was therapeutic.

Still, there are so many people in this country who support this regime who aren't seeing what's happening. And feel misunderstood, dismissed, disenfranchised, think that it will somehow help them. The Democratic party has failed miserably in their attempts to gain the people's trust. And the Republicans have no conscience, it seems, though just a few are speaking up. I can't believe that there aren't more Republicans who will fight this attack on our Constitution.

We need unity to fight this, and all the distractions and lies being thrown our way are just that. Distractions and lies meant to throw us off and take us away from what we really need to do, which is fight back with everything we've got. I've been writing my GOP senator, Cory Gardner. Fortunately the other Senator is good, and we've got a good Congressman who are fighting for the people.

But it remains, as a poster child for narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathy, Trump truly is unfit to be President of anything except his own personal business dealings, which I hope he returns to 100% so we can get on with the business of running a country in a humane and civilized way.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Of Philosophers and Kings...

Things are always bigger than they appear.

Life is one of those things. At one moment you might think you've got it figured out, contained in a finite space, and it spills over and gets messy. It lives on, taking on a meaning and life of its own, and you might never find out how it got out and where it went.

I was busy experiencing the pure joy that found me on Sunday as I ran twenty one-mile loops around Grandview Cemetery for my long run. I started early in the morning and had the silence of the place to myself, just a sea of headstones quietly covered with snow.

I enjoy the loops because it is a form of meditation, a spiritual practice of sorts, allowing me to clear my head and make room for clearer thoughts that come in. I think the ability to do this type of running, that many people find monotonous, is great for a creative person. It's refreshing mindlessness that leads to just the opposite, mindfulness.

So many ideas come to me on these loop runs, and I let the thoughts flow in and out, and they usually come back at a later time and I write them down. Many of them are just clearer or different perspectives on ideas, events, or experiences.

I've missed this. Maybe that six-day adventure is still ahead of me. I don't know yet.

It's always interesting to see what people leave on their headstones, any way they wished to be remembered, or that their families chose to engrave in the granite.

When I'm in the cemetery I think about the stories and people that I knew. I remember patients. After all these years in Fort Collins there are quite a few. Around the perimeter of the cemetery it's a one mile loop and I count as many as half a dozen former patients. If I venture into the inner roads of the cemetery, there are many more.

I remember the stories and the details come back, what happened, how things did or did not go well until their end.

I think about the content in my book. If more people would think about what life and quality of life means to them, before they get sick, then maybe we would spend less energy making a mess of things and ruining the quality of the time we are here.

I do know that there's a sense of peace in there, among the symbols of the lives that happened, and have now passed, that is a reminder of reality and mortality, and it's a beautiful reminder. We don't have to feel entitled to eighty or more years on this planet. We can go gracefully and accept less if we live each moment fully and true to ourselves, our values and those we love.

That's all.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New BlogYear Ten

I can hardly believe I am now going into my tenth year of writing this blog.

I started the New Year off at 3:20 am with the girls face fighting on my head. Fortunately I went back to sleep. I went over to the Runners Roost fun run, which was about a 2.4 mile 5K, which I ran at a fast pace, I was able to run sub 9 minute miles, something I don't do very often anymore. I could still talk, not easily, but I could have a conversation.

Last night we celebrated New Years in the Azores time zone, which put our celebration at 6 pm our time. Perfect, since we were in bed by 8 pm. I found myself missing Across the Years this year. It's been a while. I need to get back there eventually.

I hung out at the Roost for a while, socializing and telling people about my upcoming workshop, and then I came home. I wrapped up this week with a little over 40 miles of running. Awesome.

I stopped over at Warren Lake on my way home to look at the scenery. It is, after all, the first day of spring. I could hear the ice melting on the lake, that gurgling sound that reminds me of whales. I don't know if that's what whales sound like, but that's what I think of when I hear it.

A running friend came over with her daughter to meet the girls, and Dennis went down to see his mom. I got a little writing done, and now I am tired, ready for a nap. I don't think I'll be getting enough sleep for quite some time, until the girls can both sleep through the night.

I am looking forward to reviving the blog this year, I want to have more of a focus on health-related running issues, things that affect both women and men but of course I can speak much better for women's running experiences. I'll be adding more video content too. I want to do more running, of the suburban adventure-type, so there will be more stories about that. When I say suburban I mean, outside of the city of Fort Collins, which includes some awesome scenery and trails.

Since I'm writing my book this year, I'll probably drift into a few healthcare-related tangents and maybe even some good rants here and there.

And of course, the Stay-At-Home-Dog-Mom chronicles.

Happy New Year. I wish each of you the best of fun and health in 2017.