Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

After the BIG BLIZZARD...Mud Season

I got an email from Katy after my run on Saturday asking if I wanted to join her and Wayne, her friend from New Jersey, who was flying in for the weekend, on a trail run Sunday, and she asked if I had any suggestions for places to run.

I mentioned Coyote Ridge, but suggested we start early when the ground was still frozen, because how could you forget, the other day we had the BIG BLIZZARD of 2009...all 6 inches.

Man, you'd think people in Colorado never saw snow before. They all panicked, called off school, sent people home from work, crashed their cars. It was 6 inches. Are you all transplants from Florida? Reminds me of when it rains in Arizona, nobody knows how to drive in it.

The REAL problem with a late snowfall is that it turns all the trails to mud once it melts. And with the temperatures hitting the 50s yesterday and today, it is doing just that.

I met Katy, Wayne, and his friend Marissa, also from New Jersey, at the Coyote Ridge trailhead at 8:00. We started at an easy pace and topped out on the ridge in about 30minutes. I thought it would be icy on the steps going down the other side but it looked like a torrent of dried, frozen mud after yesterday's thaw.

There was a lot of snow past the west side of Coyote Ridge. On the way out we were postholing through drifts of snow, alternating with patches of frozen mud. On the way back, it was a challenge to stay on snow and avoid the shoe-sucking mud. We started to head north on the Blue Sky trail but after about 10 minutes Wayne suggested we go south since it looked clearer.
We got to the road and decided to climb the Indian Summer trail loop. Marissa is new to ultras and this was her longest run so far. She was winded but did awesome at nearly 6000 feet, having flown in from New Jersey last night! She's training for her first 50 miler in Laramie in June.

Wayne and Marissa descending the sloppy, slippery slope of mud coming down Coyote Ridge on the way back. What a nice change from the concrete wastelands of New Jersey!

It was a pleasant 3 hour run with good conversation and blowing off steam. We all felt refreshed at the end.

From deep dust last week on my run, to this week:

Deep mud.

More mud = More fun.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I did it!

I made it snow!

Thursday when I left for work in the morning, there was a dusting of snow that looked like it would turn to rain as soon as the sun came up. The sun never did come up, it got more socked in and by mid-morning they were sending non-essential staff home from work and closing the schools. It looked like a blizzard outside and continued to snow on and off all day.

This morning it looked like this outside.

In the back yard, where I was planting flowers on Sunday, now it looks like this.

So much for riding my bike this week, now that it's off the trainer with road tires on. It's time to dig out the Yak Trax again.

We waited all winter for some snow, and here it is.

I have a hard time getting motivated even with the beautiful clean snow and blue sky. It's my first day off after my work week and I feel trashed. I need a nap and to rehydrate myself more than anything now.

This morning I took the girls to the vet for their yearly checkup and their heartworm pills and vaccinations. They are a handful to get them to cooperate but they always entertain us. Their vet is a runner too, I've known him since the early 90s when I used to take Joanie, my first Australian Shepherd there.

Maybe I can still salvage a run out of this day once I get a few more hours of sleep. Last week I was talking to another nurse at work who tells me there is no way she could ever run. I told her, any nurse who works 12 hour shifts at the bedside can easily do an ultra. I need more recovery from work than any ultra!

I'll try to enjoy the snow while we have it. On the bright side, maybe the trail dust will settle? And it should keep the snakes indoors until it melts. This is Colorado, though, and next week it could be 80 degrees...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Training 2009

The snot rocket disease finally subsided enough to allow me to breathe, so I couldn't go one more day without running. It's been almost 2 weeks!

After taking both the dogs for a run this morning, I decided to take Iris up to the park and do one rock repeat, just to make it official training. Iris is the distance runner, Isabelle likes to sprint but she isn't good at long distances. I left her home to keep Dennis company, he is now sick with the infectious, purulent, snot-producing virulent contagion. It was a warm day and on the way down I was worrying about snakes, but didn't see any.

At the top I was trying to get Iris to sit still so I could take a picture of her, and some hikers came along and witnessed Iris's protest. She has major separation anxiety when Isabelle isn't with her and was having a temper tantrum. Walking 5 feet away from her is a problem if her sister isn't there. One of the hikers offered to take a picture of us together.

It's been so dry that everything is dust. There is snow on Longs Peak but some of the slopes are looking bare, up high. If we don't get some rain or snow soon it will be a bad fire season.

When I got home I felt like planting flowers, so I went to the nursery and got a flat of annuals and started filling the pots on the patio as the girls supervised me.

I'm doing everything I possibly can to make it snow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Facebook!!?? OMG!


How did I ever do this to myself? I was home, innocently cooking a pot of chicken arugula soup and was thinking about adding matzo balls, my grandmother would have been so proud of me doing that...

While the leeks were sauteeing in the pan, I decided to check email and got yet another Facebook invitation from a friend. I keep hearing about this Facebook thing, and I always resist the latest thing...

I got curious, and decided since I'm home and have no running plans and don't have much energy for anything more than rolling matzo balls and chopping onions, I'll check it out.

Oh sure. Five hours later, I have over a dozen friends including people I haven't seen since high school, I find out you can chat on Facebook too, and there are groups, and ways to comment, e-mail, look at photos, and I realize that this new toy has the potential to widen my butt even further...

I think it's great though. I actually spent nearly an hour chatting with my best friend from high school, we haven't kept in touch very much lately but it was good to catch up.

Forgot one more thing. Interesting fact: I share a birthday with Osama bin Laden. Another reason for me to be on the no fly list. Maybe there's a list for that on Facebook, too.

I REALLY need to get over this cold and get back to running!

Pain is Temporary

What an interesting day I had. After exploring Facebook and chatting with my friend from high school, we realized that both of our lives have undergone huge changes in just the past 4 years.

We realized that the last time we really spent some quality time together, it was 4 years ago and she was still living near Santa Cruz, in the process of going through a divorce, trying to figure out what was next and she was feeling very much adrift, and in a lot of emotional pain. Now she's planning a wedding, she's enjoying snowboarding, pursuing her photography, and enjoying life.

At the same 4 years ago I was just weeks away from starting nursing school, and my life was not in good order either. Things were not good in general in my life. Dennis and I had seen better days together. I'd been in a bad place for several years, trying to get my thyroid stuff figured out and I'd only been on medication that worked for less than a year.

I knew going into nursing wasn't going to be easy, but it seemed like the most practical thing to do at the time, and I was still concerned about whether I was physically ready for the challenge of intense studying and long days in clinicals, plus trying to hold down a part-time job in addition to my personal training clients.

What I was most afraid of was the fatigue coming back. In the back of my mind I knew that if I wasn't up to it, I would quit and try again later. But I also knew I had to try, and even when it was difficult, I had to push through the fatigue at times. My biggest fear was of finding out that my days of having normal energy were over and that I'd always have to deal with mind-numbing fatigue, and never be able to run ultras again.

As we chatted today we talked about how 4 years ago seems like a million years ago and another life. And how much better things are now.

You have to pass through the pain when it's there. I learned that at Badwater again last summer. The thing about pain is that you get through to the other side of it. Even if that other side is death. For some people, they go through horrific pain, physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise.

To be on the on the other side of the pain, being able to look ahead, to a day when it subsides, even if it seems like from one's perspective at the time, it will never end and never let up. Even if it's unimaginable to see the painful situation as having an end. Even if what could be on the other side of the pain could bring an immeasurable and unimaginable amount of happiness.

Today I am so grateful for and so appreciative of all the amazing, exceptional people in my life, and for my good health, even with this little annoying cold that is temporary, and for the love in my life, and for my ability to run and think and create and live with so little pain, really just the inconvenience of having to deal with occasionally unpleasant people at work. Every day I see people who are at their lowest point in life, and it's important to look into the future for them, and look at the contrast with what is now.

There are people out there who are hurting materially, having lost a lot lately, and other people who are dealing with horrific emotional and physical pain in their lives. I hope they soon pass through the pain, and see the other side, and I hope that what is on the other side for them is happiness. Even if it's unimaginable today, immeasurable and infinite happiness.

Green Stuff

Theme for St. Patrick's Day.

I have not a drop of Irish blood in me, but I am full of green today, as I have been for the past week. I caught the crud that's been going around.

For the past week, I've been coughing up green junk and blowing my brains out to the point where my nose and upper lip are so excoriated that it will take another week for my skin to heal. I'm a human snot factory.

I wish I could borrow some suction from work and suction myself, because I could probably fill up one of those liter-sized canisters. It would be a lot easier on my face.

The day before my birthday run, I was thinking I had allergies because I was sneezing, with watery eyes, and it happened after I gave Isabelle a hug, then found she was digging in the yard. I didn't feel too bad and did my birthday run, and it continued for a couple of days, until Tuesday, on my birthday, I started to feel really bad. Then I went back to work Wednesday morning, and felt like crap. I suffered through the day, which turned into a 13 hour shift, and then called in sick for the next day.

I made a big pot of tortilla soup, and I went back to work over the weekend, feeling better but I still can't breathe. I'm not sleeping well as a result. This morning Dennis woke up with it. I'll be prepared for him.

So I'm off to the store to get more stuff to make another pot of soup, a few boxes of tissues with lotion in them, some cough drops, and I'll check my supply of Nyquil because last night was the first night I didn't wake up with a coughing fit.

I haven't run a step since the birthday run, but I'll get there. I'm not in a hurry. Taking the dogs for a walk today seems overly ambitious. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Today I ran my age at the One Foot in the Grave 45 Km run, or Rigorous Mortis, as JeffO called it...

The day was cold to start! It was 24 degrees when I left the house and a fog was burning off that left thick ice on the car windows. I drove to Grandview Cemetery and got there at 8:00, and found Jeff O'Reilly checking out the entrance to the cemetery, looking for live bodies.

We drove into the cemetery and found a good place to park, at the halfway point on the one mile loop. After some pre-run snacks, adjusting our layers to the outdoor temperature, and a photo op, we started out on our 28 mile run.

According to my calculator, 45 Km is equal to 27.99 miles, and I told Jeff I hope he didn't mind if I rounded up. One nice thing about being this old is that when you run your age in kilometers, it still turns out to be an ultra.

After just a couple of laps, Ping showed up and ran about 6 miles with us. Dennis and Austin came by and slowed down enough to run about 100 meters with us but they were so fast I didn't get a picture. They promised to join us at the Rio later.

At exactly our halfway point, Felix showed up and ran the last 14 miles with us. We talked about topics ranging from old cemetery stories, to the advantages and disadvantages of aging, how lucky we are to be alive and in good health, and what we want to do with our bodies when we die. I told them I want my ashes scattered over Devil's Cornfield in Death Valley. I used to think I wanted to be scattered over Hope Pass, but as of this date I want to go to Devil's Cornfield, subject to change.

It was so cold in the morning that the snow hadn't even melted by mid-afternoon in some shady places in the cemetery. It turned out to be a beautiful day, even though I stayed bundled up, I think I am permanently adapted to the heat after last year's sauna training.

The only thing I forgot to do was break out my new Sauconys. I'll have to run in those this week. I wore Drymax trail socks and my Addictions. No blisters, no heat rash.

Nick came out when we were close to 20 miles, and he helped us pick up the pace somewhat for a few laps until Dana had to go do an errand and Nick watched Alistair until we were done running. Morgan came out to the cemetery to cheer us on and go to the Rio. She already ran at the Colorado Marathon training run that morning. Felix, Jeff, and I kept going and finished the 28 miles. We all went to the Rio afterwards, where Alistair got a bowl of ice cream as big as his head.

At the Rio, Tom from the running club met us there, along with Austin and Melissa, Dennis, Morgan, Nick, Dana & Alistair, Felix, Jeff and me. We had margaritas and food, and it was the perfect way to celebrate a birthday, with my awesome friends who share my love of running. Felix's slideshow of the day is here.

I passed the test, I can run my age in kilometers. Now I know I can finish the races I've signed up for so far. And Morgan and Dennis and I made a pact to do the Memorial Day Double Double again, so my spring racing plans are coming together. I felt good throughout the run, we took it slowly and did some reasonably short walking breaks, but I ran most of the 28 miles and I felt younger by the end.

Off to plan my next little adventure...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Two Races and One Pair of Shoes

Today I gave myself three kicks in the butt I need to motivate myself for this running season. First I went over to Runner's Roost and told Steve I want to try some different shoes.

I've been running in Brooks Addictions forever but their latest version of the Addiction is creating new foot problems for me. They've changed the upper and now it rubs on the outside of my first metatarsal and is constricting my upper foot, so I'm developing a neuroma, something I've had a tendency to do if I wear shoes that are too narrow or when my feet are swelling in a long race.

Steve pulled out a pair of Saucony Grid Stabils, size 7 1/2, and told me they would be similar to the Addiction. I tried them on and as soon as I jogged through the store and out on the sidewalk, I was in love. We'll see how long they hold up. They are built almost the same as the Addiction, they are stability shoes, slightly curved last, they weigh about the same, and cost about the same. The difference I could feel immediately was that the uppers feel great on my forefoot, there are no areas of friction. They feel equally stable to the Brooks. I tried the 7 1/2s in the Addiction just to be sure that it's not simply a matter of getting 1/2 size bigger in the same shoe.

I will try a pair of the Saucony Stabils and see how it goes. My biggest complaint about the Addiction, other than the way it rubs my foot, is that it doesn't last more than about 250 miles and I have to replace them. It would be nice if I could get a few more miles out of a pair of shoes, but that's not the big issue.

I need to solve my problems with blistering and calluses if I want to run multi-day runs with a minimum of foot problems. I'll try running part of the 45K tomorrow in the Sauconys and see how it goes.

Before I left the store I made myself sign up for the Colorado Marathon since it was the first race I planned to do this year, and I was dragging my feet about signing up. It's now 8 weeks away and I need to get my butt in gear!

Then I went home and Dennis and I called our friends Kirk and Keith in Grand Junction. They are in the process of moving to Fruita and they wrote us the other day and asked if we were coming out for the Desert RATS run in Fruita in April. We usually go out there, but this year we didn't plan on it. I wasn't planning to sign up, because I didn't have a reason big races on the horizon that needed a 50 mile or even 25 mile training run.

I signed up for the 25 miler. Who can argue with a weekend on the Kokopelli Trail in April? So the plan is, we will take the Buffaloes and go to Fruita and stay with Kirk and Keith and I will run the 25 miler with Keith, and maybe Dennis will sign up if he wants a challenge...Kirk is of course running the 50.

I lightened my wallet enough today. Two races and one pair of shoes. I'll think of it as a birthday present.

Tonight, we turn the clocks ahead, one less hour of sleep in the morning and darkness again! Just when I was starting to enjoy the morning light. I have to be at the cemetery at 8:00 daylight savings time. Now I have three more reasons to get my butt out there and run 45 kilometers tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


My 45th birthday is coming up next week. Like the speed limit sign says, this is fast enough, I don't need the years to go by any faster. It's hard to believe 45 is midlife when you feel like you're 23.

Today I felt like I got a birthday present, in an odd way. Lately I've been feeling sort of flat. Not depressed, but not really excited about running, or anything, and I've been dragging my feet about planning my next adventure. I'm not the only one, I've talked to a few other people lately who are also experiencing low energy and lack of enthusiasm.

I tend to get introverted and every so often I have to remind myself that there's a world out there, otherwise much of the time I'd be content to focus on whatever task I'm doing at the moment, or lose myself in my long solo runs.

The connection to others is a gift.

When I meet people who are depressed, they often have isolated themselves unintentionally, and they feel like they have lost their connections to others. Helping them reconnect is important, because the connections are still there, they just haven't been maintained. It usually takes a small effort. For depressed people that effort can seem like a huge mountain to climb, but that's another tangent.

This morning I was out on my run, planning to go about an hour, to get some miles in, and I wasn't feeling particularly enthusiastic but didn't feel bad. I was approaching Shields Street, headed west on the bike path when I ran into three runners coming toward me. I recognized Cat, and she was out with two other people running before their yoga class. She was about to stop and to talk to me but I turned around in their direction and started running with them. We ran about a mile and a half together before they turned off for yoga and I had to go home.

Just talking with Cat about her upcoming plans to run her first 50 miler, and her enthusiasm about having talked with another ultrarunner in her first 50K last year, who helped her see another way of looking at finishing an ultra, was uplifting for me. One of the runners she was with talked about how she hopes to do a marathon someday. Feeling that energy and knowing they are exploring something new reminded me that there are so many nice people out there in the running community, lots of people I have never run with, opening the possibilities to expand my social circle and running partners.

And when I got home I had two emails from running friends who will be joining me in my run on Sunday, Felix and Jeff. I felt so much better. Later I had energy to go back outside and enjoy the afternoon on the trails, after a massage from Cindy.

Sometimes you don't see the gifts that are hidden because you see only the screen that you've put up to filter things out. If you filter the world out too much you won't recognize a gift right in front of you, you're too busy screening things out.

Someone can brighten your day unexpectedly. It's a matter of opening your eyes and allowing yourself to receive the gift.

This afternoon I ran around Dixon Reservoir. It was a warm day, in the 70s, and the wind was gusting on the east side of the water. All the college students were out, restless, working on their tans, getting ready for spring break. Nothing is green yet, we need some rain. This is Colorado, and we should be getting several feet of snow by next month. We change the clocks back to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday.

Spring is here!

Monday, March 2, 2009


My motivation has been low. Yesterday I only ran in the afternoon because Dennis got me out the door. Today I managed to get out and run twice, 10 in the morning on trails at Pineridge, and 4 in the afternoon in the neighborhood, at a faster pace.

It was all I could do to drag my butt into my car and drive to Cottonwood Glen park this morning so I could make myself start running. I was a snail, but I kept moving and as long as I went slow it got better. I managed to stay out for two hours, and the sun was coming out. I wore shorts and a t-shirt for the first time all year. It was close to 70 degrees today, which means it will dump three feet of snow next week for sure.

Last week I got my contact lens prescription changed so I can see distance again. I couldn't see the street signs coming up on me. I couldn't read license plates, I couldn't see anything in minor detail at a distance. It was driving me crazy. When I run, I want to see what's out there, part of the enjoyment of running is noticing details in the landscape.

Now I can see, even though I am sure I'll need reading glasses soon. So far I'm doing okay with close-up vision.

Speaking of things that happen when you start to get old, my longtime running friend Wally is about to become "Grandpa Prugh", as he calls himself. Hard to believe that his daughter Chris, the little girl I met when she was 9 years old, who is now an attorney, is having a baby.

And speaking of babies, my sister is going to be a mom again, still unnamed baby boy # 2 is coming on March 5th to join his big brother Matteo.

Sunday night we were in Whole Foods trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, and we ran into an old friend from our days in Gunnison, Tony. We haven't seen him since 1998. He runs a green thrift shop in Old Town Fort Collins now. Eco-Thrift. Pretty cool.

I wish I had more enthusiasm. I don't feel very excited about anything these days, and I haven't actually signed up for any races. I have vague plans, but I'm not committed. I feel like I need a vacation, or something to get me charged up again. I don't know what's wrong with me. Maybe I need to paint. Maybe I need my batteries recharged. Maybe I need ketchup. Towanda!!!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pawnee Buttes

Saturday we went for a drive out to Pawnee Buttes, about an hour east of here. The drive was more like an hour and a half because of the winding dirt roads once we got off highway 14. It's on the way to Nebraska.

It's hard to find information on this place, it's out in the middle of nowhere and I did go to the website for the federal govt, and there isn't much on it. There's this little townsite of Keota and you basically follow unmarked dirt roads, there's an occasional sign pointing you in the direction of the Pawnee Buttes, but it would be easy to get lost. Finally we reached the town site of Keota. Complete with water tower, cemetery, and a cool old fire hydrant...

Once we got through Keota we drove for what seemed like forever and couldn't see any buttes. We did see the big wind turbines to the north. We were considering turning around and going home up since we weren't seeing any buttes. Finally, they appeared. We drove in that direction and parked at a deserted dirt parking area and picked out the trail up ahead.

It was cold and windy, the kind of wind that bites and goes through you, no mater how much clothing you wear. We went for a short hike and then went home. We were both tired, Dennis slept on the way out while I drove, and then I slept for 45 minutes on the way home.

The Buffaloes loved the drive, whenever we get on a dirt road they get excited, they know they are GOING somewhere to play. They saw cows and sheep driving through on highway 14. Lots of good them.

I doubt I will go back out there for a while unless I have a lot of time. They close one of the trails starting March 1, for nesting of predator birds, so we got there just in time. There are some trails, and it looks like decent mountain biking except for the cactus and other prickly things that cause flat tires. It's too far of a drive to justify the short trail distances for running.

This week I was so tired, I was having trouble sleeping again. It starts up and then goes away. I took the girls to Riverbend Ponds and the ice is almost gone. I managed to get a 16+ mile run on the hills of Centennial Drive and Bingham Hill again, Lead legs, but I'm not walking and I feel strong. I look forward to doing speed training, which I should be able to start within the next few weeks. Maybe that will get me excited about training for something.

Today I ran the Tortoise & Hare 6K. It was freezing! There was a good turnout at Spring Park at 8 am when the temperature was 24 degrees. I was slightly disappointed ran 16 seconds slower than last fall. I'm trying to look at the small positive steps. The good news is, I ran my first mile too fast in 7:06, and that didn't hurt my hamstring, so I consider it a big improvement. I couldn't do anything faster than 7:30 pace for a long time.

I've managed to lose 2 pounds so far, I've cut way back on eating carbohydrates, and I think I'm feeling it in my running, but that's okay, I'll adapt soon. We've been eating mostly salads and fruit and meat, and it seems like I'm having an easier time with my mornings. I've been eating nuts and Lara bars at work, I still need snacks every 2 hours but at least I don't get to the point where my hands are shaking every 2 hours and feeling like I'm going to pass out.

The other night Venus and the crescent moon were out. I was exhausted when I got off work but when I saw the sky and I had to get my camera.

Next weekend is my birthday run, we're starting at Grandview Cemetery and will run about 45 kilometers, and then meet at the Rio afterwards.