Scatter my ashes here...

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saving Change to Create Change

It's December 20th and today is the day the PVHS Foundation launches the Save Change to Create Change campaign to raise money for building the Poudre Valley Cancer Center.

December 20th is also a special day for me. It's my dad's birthday. I want to thank him for being a great example of generosity, positive energy, focus, and drive. He is the most highly self-motivated person I've ever known and I'm sure I get my ability to run ultras from him.

It's the day before solstice, and there's only one day to go until the days start getting longer. For now, it's dark outside most of the time, and it's a good time for contemplation and review of the past year, and for thinking about hopes and dreams for the coming year.

As I'm preparing to run around the track at the end of each year, I'm reflecting on a list of meditations for my Across the Years race. What have I learned this year? How can I be better next year?

Looking back, I learned a lot this year. I suffered some pain, but I also grew from the experiences. Things came into sharper focus as a result. I learned that I should have trusted my gut a lot more than I did, and spoken louder than I did. I left myself vulnerable, but I'm glad I did in a way because in that vulnerability I learned the lessons I needed to learn.

And as a result of the actions I took from those lessons, I am in a much better place now in so many aspects of my life. I know I can be better next year, and make more of a positive impact.

Make your new years resolution count in 2011 by making a positive impact.

What better gift could you give? If you have influenced someone else in a positive way, then you have made a positive impact. A thousand small acts, like pennies, all add up to something big.

Guided by some basic values, we can influence others in good ways. The principles of integrity, equality, community, simplicity, and peace are the ones I like to start with. They are building blocks, as well as things in which to strive for improvement. Here is what this means to me:

To the greatest degree that you can, practice

integrity: be true to who you are and genuine in all your interactions with others

equality: no one person is better than another, we are all of equal value as human beings, and each of us brings a unique presence and gift to this world, the actions we each take will make our mark on the world and other people's lives

community: remember that everyone is a part of a community, or several, which are all connected

simplicity: less is more, take only what you need and share with others who have less

peace: be aware of your presence in the world and how it impacts others, be kind, be quiet, and listen first, think before speaking, but speak out loud when it makes a difference

At Across the Years, as we circle the track around Nardini Manor, we will all be united in the event and sharing a common goal, to cover as many miles as possible in the time we have chosen to run, 24, 48, or 72 hours. I can't think of a sporting event that better exemplifies these principles.

My goal at Across the Years
is to run at least 150 miles. If enough people donated a penny per mile, it could add up quickly. My running partner said she'd give a quarter a mile. I've been dumping my loose change into an old coffee can and I'll donate that.

I challenge everyone reading this to make a New Years resolution of generosity, making a big impact through something small, by contributing some loose change to the PVH Foundation Cancer Building Fund, to build something that will bring wellness to this community. Small steps, small things that add up and make a big difference.

My favorite suggestion for donations: Consider donating an extra dollar per each mile I go over my goal.

The following part of this blogpost is a modified version of an earlier post I wrote on September 25, 2010:

Some simple guidelines for the coming year: Be Kind, Be Well, Be Generous.


"Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up"- Jesse Jackson

Remember the power of a small thoughtful act, like a thank you, a word of appreciation, even something as small as a smile, eye contact, or acknowledging someone else's presence. Small things make a big impact.

Make an effort every day to acknowledge people, thank them for the things they do, make eye contact and smile when it's genuine and appropriate.


"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something...I will not refuse to do the something I can do"- Helen Keller

When I talk about wellness, everyone thinks I mean running. Any exercise is a huge part of my own wellness. It's important to move your body, to keep the blood circulating, to bring oxygen and fresh nutrients to your muscles and organs. For me, moving forward boosts my creativity. I put in as many miles walking as I do running.

If I'm struggling with a problem, and I go for a run, even if I don't actively or consciously think about the problem while I'm running, I usually end up solving it after the run, or at least I have a better approach. The same thing happens if I go for a walk.

There is something about the forward, rhythmic motion of moving through the air, arms and legs pumping, that turns the wheels in my head and gets it all going. I find it hard to think when I'm sitting still. I challenge everyone to find ways to add self-propelled forward motion. For example, walking to the little grocery store in my neighborhood instead of driving to the big supermarket. It takes less time to make the round-trip on foot, I timed it.

There are so many ways to make changes in our lives, but to make change last, you have to start small. Take small steps, and achieve success with those, before taking bigger steps. It's a process, but even if you make one small change in the direction of wellness next year, it's a success.

Success builds on success and you will learn that it is possible to make lasting, positive changes. Then it becomes easier to take the next step.


"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"- Lao-Tzu

Don't underestimate the importance of a penny. It's a small thing by itself, not much value, but like any small thing in numbers, they add up to something big. When I do speaking engagements, often I tell the audience that success builds on success. One small thing each day. A series of small steps add up to something big. Sixteen hundred steps in a mile. One hundred sixty thousand of them in a 100 mile run.

A penny by itself is only a cent. One hundred fifty pennies is a dollar fifty. If a thousand people give a dollar fifty, that makes $1500. Loose change can do a lot.

Save change to create change, and start moving forward now!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Taper Madness

Not sure what this rooster is thinking. Is he about to take a bath? Is he looking for a drink? Maybe he's tapping his feet impatiently, waiting for something big to happen. Like tapering for a race.

The past two weeks I've been trying to balance rest and running. I've gotten a lot of sleep, done some errands to prepare for my trip, tied up some loose ends for projects I needed to complete, and here I am. Trying to be patient.

It's been cold the past few days, we were all spoiled here in northern Colorado by the mild fall weather. Temperatures were near 70 until just a few days ago.

Monday I'll have a new blogpost up, it's the day we launch a campaign to raise funds for the Poudre Valley Cancer Center. There will also be information about how to send messages during Across the Years. I love getting those messages during the race, they motivate me more than anything else, in the middle of the night when I'm trying to push myself through the fatigue.

I had a dream the other night that I was running a 100 mile race and I decided to take a nap in a hotel room. When I woke up I had slept 8 hours and I only had 3 hours left on the time limit to finish, and 20 miles to go. Not good! I'm taking that as a reminder of being careful about my nap time at Across the Years. In 2008-09 I slept for a good portion of the event. Actually slept better than I had in months. But that year I needed it!

I want to wish everyone reading this blog a happy holiday and a healthy and happy 2011. Thanks for your readership. I have some new topics planned for early 2011 in addition to my preparation for upcoming events.

Stop back soon!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Owls and a Goat

I've outdone myself. On the bright side, I could call it a PR.

I rarely do things this stupid in training, but this time I proved, once again, that the lessons will be repeated until they are learned.

All you runners out there who get that smug little attitude toward walking, who think walking doesn't count, and who look down their noses at walkers, listen up!

This old goat ultrarunner had the bright idea that she would do a 50 mile walk in training. After all, it's just walking, right? Not like doing a 50 mile run, should be easier to recover, doesn't count so much, after all, moving at 4 miles an hour is not that fast compared to running.

I started out at 5 am, ate a huge breakfast, and began walking to Loveland. I kept a sub-15 minute per mile pace the whole time, including the time I took for my breaks, so it worked out to something more like 14 minute miles. Not a blazing fast walk pace, but requiring some focus and concentration to keep going that fast. Not a casual stroll.

My plan was to walk down Lemay to County Road 13, turn at County Road 30 and then take the bike path through Boyd Lake State Park, until it comes out near the intersection of Denver and Eisenhower. At that point I would continue southwest along the Loveland bike path until I hit the 15 mile mark from home, then turn around and go back home, where I would take a break and then head out for my final 20.

Simple minds make simple plans.

On my way down Lemay in the dark, I passed two owls, who were loudly "WHOOOOO, WHOOOO"ing at me. The sunrise was spectacular, far beyond what is shown in this picture.

My hands were too frozen, and by the time I was able to dig the cell phone camera out of my pack and navigate the buttons on my Blackberry, the sunrise had faded. But it was spectacular blazing red on the horizon, with black silhouetted trees and deep purple and red-streaked clouds against the lavender mid-sky.

I blasted down the bike path near the lake, and as the sun came up it got a little warmer, but I was dressed for sub-20 degrees. I still had water so I waited until on my way back toward Fort Collins to make my stop at the little coffee shop at Denver & Eisenhower. I scarfed half the sandwich in my pack and I was still hungry.

On my way through downtown Loveland on the bike path along the canal, there were a few houses with goats in the yards. I actually saw more than half a dozen goats. But I was the biggest goat of all. There weren't too many people on the path this morning, a few older people walking near the senior center, but that was it.

I stopped off at Dazbog Coffee at the intersection before heading back through the park, and bought some water and a blueberry scone. I was looking for something with a few more calories but nothing sounded good at the moment. I refilled my water bottles and left, inhaling the scone before I turned the corner to go north, and damn, the thing had cinnamon in it.

I hate cinnamon. UGH! But it was some calories, and I only had another half a ham & cheese sandwich and a package of margarita shot blocks left to get me through the next 12 1/2 miles to home. Normally that would be plenty of food, but my tapeworm came out of hibernation this week. I washed the scone down with as much water as my stomach could tolerate, and started blasting up the bike path again.

By the time I passed Carpenter I was less than 5 miles from home and it had warmed up some. I was way overdressed. I usually don't mind but today I was uncomfortable in all those clothes and I couldn't wait to get home to peel off some layers. My legs were a little sore, but I didn't think much of it.

When I arrived at the house I was well under 15 minute miles average including all my pee breaks and coffee shop stop, and I felt good. I took a long break at home, changing into all clean clothes.I had some soup and drank some water and gatorade, and hugged the girls. Dennis was working in the yard and he heard the girls howl when I came in, and he asked how I was doing.


A few minutes later when I tried to get up out of the chair to leave the house again, I realized just how sore. My quads hurt to the touch. I could barely stand up from the chair without using my arms to prop myself up. I waddled out the door, practically limping down the street for the first mile. My plan was to do a 10 mile loop, then come home one more time, and go out for my final 10.

I wasn't too much slower, maybe 17 minute miles on the way out this time, but I was hurting! My quads were in agony! I have never been this sore during a run before. Then I realized, I usually don't walk 30+ miles at a fast pace without breaking it up with a substantial amount of running.

This past week I ran 15 miles on Thanksgiving Day easy with a lot of walking, the next day I ran 25 with some walking but mostly running. But today I walked. The only time I ran was to get across the intersection at Harmony & Lemay because the light doesn't last long enough.

Thinking 50 miles of walking would be easy was the ultimate hubris. The ultimate arrogant runner attitude, it was smacking me in the butt and quads with every step. I went home on the shortcut and finished with 37 miles. I was done.

I could barely take my clothes and shoes off. I screamed trying to pull my socks off because any movement of my quads was agonizing. Just a light touch sent me through the roof. It took me forever to get undressed and into the shower, and I screamed with pulling each leg over the ledge of the bathtub.

I will be lucky if I can get out of bed tomorrow. I took some ibuprofen after the shower and it seems to be helping. I still can't lift my feet more than 6 inches off the floor without my quads screaming in agony, but that's better than when I got done with the run.

Dennis made catfish tacos for dinner and brought the computer to me so I could work without having to deal with the stairs. He also brought home some chocolate chip cookies from Starbucks to feed the tapeworm.

I got 80 miles for the week and I guess that's good, but I was hoping to do a 50 miler before Across the Years. I did learn a lesson though, it is a lot easier to do distance when I mix up the running and walking, than to stick to walking.

Walking is NOT easier. It will kick your lazy arrogant runner butt off it's primadonna pedestal.

I learned my lesson...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just for Fun...A Little History

Death Valley Chuck-Walla, April 1907, ad
On a cold day it's fun to think about warmer places. One of my favorite things to do when I'm in Furnace Creek is to visit the little museum there at the resort. This ad is displayed in there. I always get a kick out of it.

It's really cold outside, and the forecast is for colder. I have a few more long runs planned before I start to rest for Across the Years. I'm planning a long one the day after Thanksgiving.

This week I didn't work too hard with the running, got 80 miles in but ran relaxed and easy every day. I didn't want to tire myself out with a couple of high mileage weeks coming up. I did a 30+ mile run at the lakes the other day and the weather was crazy. I froze my butt off for most of the first few laps, so I put more clothes on.

Then the sun came out and I got really hot, so I peeled those layers off and left them at the car, and then of course the sun went back behind the clouds and the wind picked up, and I froze again. Then I got the layers out again and of course the sun came out. By then it was nearing sunset and getting colder anyway.

I spent most of this weekend cooking. I don't know why I suddenly got in the mood but I made tamales, which take two days, and other stuff too. Must be the cold weather, makes you want to go inside and be near the stove.

An automobile trip through hell sounds pretty appealing right now.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Time to Get Tough Again!

It's been a long, mild fall and now reality has set in, and I have to stop being a fair weather runner and get tough again. This is an adjustment I have to make every year. This year it's taken until the middle of November, so I can't complain about that. I love hot weather, but I also love seasons, and I wouldn't want to live and train anywhere else but here in Fort Collins, so I have to deal with a little cold, ice and snow for a short portion of each year.

I lucked out last week, we got our first snow and I was on my rest week, so I really didn't have to deal with it. But now it's Monday morning of my new training week, and I need to get some miles in, and I do have to deal with it. It's snowing this morning and I'm hesitating but I know once I get out there and get warmed up I will remember the world of winter running, that I missed so much all those years in Arizona!

It always amazes me when I'm asked how I train through the winter. Running in the snow and ice seem to be unimaginable to so many people. I don't like to be cold or wet, but I would go crazy if I didn't go outside for months. I have never owned a treadmill. There are times when I've wished I had one, but I can count the number of times I wish for that every winter on one hand.

I do love running in winter, even if the snow and ice make you slow down, run more flat-footed, and you have to watch your step. But it's so beautiful running in the white stuff, the ice crystals in the air, and the silence that the snow brings as it covers everything. I also love how refreshing the cool air is, and how good I feel when I'm finished with my workout.

I lived in Gunnison and Crested Butte for about 7 years, so I learned how to deal with cold weather. I happen to have great memories of running in blizzards and 20 degrees below zero, breathing air with so many ice crystals in it, it would make you gag. I learned to deal with it both physically and mentally, and it's much more mental than physical.

Like I've said before, you don't get extra points at the pearly gates for running fast, but for running outside during the winter, I'm almost 100% sure you do.

I hear a lot of complaints about winter running, and I think they are excuses. It takes time for your body to warm up. Think about it. Your body temperature is somewhere around 98 degrees. You live indoors in an environment that is probably 60-70 degrees. So when you step outside into 30 degree or colder air, it's going to be a shock. You have to give your body time to warm up.

Most people who "exercise" never get out there long enough to give their bodies time to adequately warm up and adjust to the temperature gradient. That's another reason why people need to sustain a workout for at least 30, preferably 60 minutes to really get fitness benefits. It takes a good 15-20 minutes, or more on colder days, to really warm up and adjust. There's an adjustment period. What a bummer that so many people never stay out long enough to make the adjustment, so they never get to the point where they can enjoy their workout.

I have tried different strategies for the coldest days. The most frequent problem/excuse I hear is: breathing the cold air hurts my lungs. First of all that means you are starting out too hard. If you have to gasp really hard and you're not warmed up, yes the cold air will be a shock to your warm mouth and throat and upper respiratory tract. Start out easier!

You can cover your face with some sort of mask or bandana if that helps, but then it gets wet and freezes, so it seems kind of pointless to me.

I only cover my face when the wind chill or air temperature are so cold that it freezes my skin. Some people like to put vaseline on or something to protect their skin. If it's so cold that I'm seriously risking frostbite, those are the days I consider staying inside and getting on my bike trainer.

Another problem/excuse I hear is: My feet get cold. Wearing thick socks keeps you from being able to move your toes around in your shoes, there's no room for a layer of warm air to build up, and your toes stay frozen, until they slowly start to warm up and become excruciatingly painful until they do warm up. I have tried all kinds of things: neoprene socks, putting chile pepper seeds in my socks and in between my toes, and wearing shoes that are a half size bigger. For me, wearing thin socks helps more than anything.

I think all these strategies work, except the chile seeds, they can actually burn your skin temporarily, which creates an additional source of pain. But some people swear by them.

Problem/Excuse # 3 My hands get cold. Try mittens. Allowing room for warm air to build up around your hands will help. Or pull your hands inside your sleeves. If you have gloves, pull your fingers into the palm of the glove until they warm up. Usually by the time you get warmed up your hands are sweating enough that you don't need the gloves anymore.

Problem/Excuse # 4 The roads are icy, the footing is bad. Running more flat footed helps, slowing your stride down helps, running with a slightly wider stance makes you more stable too. I use Yak Trax on the iciest conditions, and they are a pain in the butt when you have to stop and re-adjust them occasionally, but they work. I can run The Buffaloes on icy streets in the Yak Trax and even when they pull me, I don't slip at all.

In Fort Collins we have the bike paths, which usually get plowed before the streets. Also, if you run in the fresh, untracked snow, the footing tends to be better than running on tire tracks, which get packed down and slick. Just be careful of ice hidden underneath fresh snow.

Problem/Excuse # 5 I don't mind the cold, but the wind is so unpleasant. Here in the Front Range area we have an abundance of wind in the cooler months. It's something you have to get used to. I think wind is a gift from the weather gods. You have to look at it with a positive frame of mind. Running with the wind makes you faster, and running against the wind makes you stronger. You can't lose.

My friend Cat complained to me about the wind recently. I couldn't believe it came from her because she's one of the toughest runners I've ever known, and she never lets anything stop her from running. I am pretty sure she didn't mean it.

Problem/Excuse # 6 I don't like to be cold. Then why are you living in a cold place? The solution is to dress warm. Wear layers. It always amazes me to see people out in shorts and running bras or t-shirts when it's 40 degrees outside. If it's below freezing, I'm the one dressed up like a snowman, I've got six layers on top and three on the bottom, and I can barely bend my knees and elbows because I've got so much clothing on.

Seriously, if you spend a lot of energy trying to stay warm, you'll get tired pretty fast. I like to overdress, not only because I train for races in hot environments, but also because I like to conserve my energy. Yes you do sweat and no matter how high-tech your clothing is, you will have some wet layers close to your skin, but if you have enough clothes on, the wind won't cool those wet layers down and you'll stay warm.

Problem/Excuse #7 It gets dark too early, there's not enough daylight. WAAAAH! First of all, the snow reflects light, so it's easier to see at night, and there's less traffic on the roads, and in the winter, there tend to be fewer creepos and weirdos out and about, so find a training partner and make an agreement to keep each other motivated through the winter, and get out there when it's dark and run.

The other things to remember in winter: sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. The glare and the reflection make the sun equally if not more intense than in the summer, so don't forget to cover up any skin that's exposed. I need to do a better job of remembering that, everyone thinks I'm a skier because of my raccoon eyes from my sunglasses.

When they ask me if I was skiing, it always catches me by surprise, and I usually look at them like they said something in some language I don't understand. When I tell them I run, they proceed through every question I just answered in this post.

Enough about winter running. Yes, I hope it's a short winter. I'm looking out the window, seeing the blobs of snow fall off the trees, knowing I need to get out there, and I'm not moving too fast.

It's time to go practice what I preach.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Dust Settles

It was a good idea to take Saturday off. I had a strong 39 mile run today, steady and consistent all the way to the end, I was running a decent pace. I didn't feel wiped out when I was done, either.

I thought about doing more miles with the daylight that was left, but decided I should stop while I was still fresh and expedite my recovery. I don't need to be doing junk miles.

I used the day as a mental training run, I tried to focus and be consistent in my pace and my run-walk-run transitions. I had the wind to challenge me in all directions. I was running quite a bit faster than I'll need to at Across the Years, and it helped me figure out how much slower of a pace I'll want to keep during the 48 hours.

It was an interesting day with the weather. It started out as a nice morning, the day became clear, calm and warm. About halfway through my run I saw a front moving in over the mountains. Suddenly a big bank of dark gray clouds moved in, the wind started howling, and Longs Peak was obscured under the storm. There were a few cold raindrops stinging my face but not enough to get wet.

At one point there was a huge dust storm on the west side of the lake. It looked like one of those dust devils in Death Valley except it was about 80 degrees cooler. I had to wrap my jacket around my face to get through it. I was prepared for almost any weather, but I didn't bring my swim goggles on this run.

Within 2 hours, the clouds moved over, Longs Peak and the Mummy range had fresh snow, and the sun was starting to shine on the foothills. In the last hour and a half of my run it was sunny, clear, and warm but still windy.

Looks like we have one more day of beautiful fall weather according to the forecast, and then we have to pay for this extended summer. The first snow could fall this week. Perfect timing, this is my easy week!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Temporary crisis...

I changed my plans for today. I was going to run the HCOR half marathon today but during the past two weeks a few little things have thrown my schedule off, in a good way.

I ran the 70 miler thinking I had more days off to recover than I actually did. I read my work schedule wrong, and realized at the last minute that I had to go back to work a day sooner! That was okay, but then I made the decision to get my flu shot at work earlier rather than later. I got it on Monday when I went back to work, and I felt okay other than a sore arm. My two days at work were not too exhausting, but by Tuesday night I felt tired and a little lightheaded. I figured it was the usual second day of work tiredness and maybe just dehydrated from not drinking enough at work.

Wednesday I went out running with Cat thinking I'd get 10 or 12 miles in. We were running the bike path and stopped off at the shopping center by Drake and Taft Hill road so she could use a bathroom. My legs felt tired up to that point, but as soon as we slowed to a walk, I suddenly felt lightheaded and had to sit down really fast to avoid possibly passing out. I sat there on the grass while she was inside using the bathroom, and I stretched a little, drank my water bottle, and by the time she came out, I felt okay.

As I was sitting there on the grass, I noticed the "flu shots" sign outside of Walgreens, and it occurred to me that maybe what I was feeling was the flu shot. It had been less than 48 hours since I got it.

We continued back on our run but decided to head back toward the cars early so we'd have the option of me cutting it short in case I felt bad again. Within a quarter mile, my legs started aching. It was mostly my quads and hip flexors, but I felt weak. I had to shuffle a few times to be able to maintain a slow jog.

I decided to stop when we got back to my car, that gave me 9 miles but I was wiped out! The rest of the day I didn't do much at home, I took a nap, and felt a little better. Thursday I didn't run at all, I took the Buffaloes out and walked for 6 miles.

Friday I woke up and decided to go to the lakes and try running. Except we had a crisis at home in the morning. Our cheap coffeemaker, the one we bought at Target a couple of months ago for under $10, no frills, no settings, nothing complicated, decided to quit on us.

What???? NO COFFEE!!!???????

It would have been funny to see a videotape of us scrambling around the kitchen, depserately looking for our cone, the french press, anything that would allow us to make coffee. The Buffaloes were watching us, getting all excited, trying to figure out why mom and dad were pulling things out of drawers and cabinets and making all that noise in the kitchen.

After a frantic 5 minutes of turning the kitchen upside down, we finally located the cone so we could make some single cups of coffee.

When I got to the lakes, I did a lap powerwalking, then started running when Cat joined me for about 5 laps. I felt great after about 13 miles, and picked up the pace, pushing hard on my last two laps, got a total of 26 miles in, and felt refreshed afterwards. We went out for sushi last night and I didn't feel like I'd done any more than a typical 10 mile run. I wasn't tired at all.

When I woke up this morning I decided I'd take today off instead of running the half. I feel like running, but I'm going to make myself take a day off. I don't feel like dealing with crowds, especially not in my favorite spot. We'll do yardwork today, blow the leaves out in the front yard, even though our neighbors' cottonwood tree still has half of it's leaves attached.

But first, I'm going to enjoy a cup of coffee from the new coffeemaker we bought last night. Crisis resolved.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

All in a day's work...

Thursday I spent most of the day and night running. I set out with a goal of 18 hours or 80 miles, whichever came first. It didn't quite end up that way but it was close enough. I was on my feet for 19 hours and covered 70.5 miles. I spent a good 2 hours of that time taking breaks and taking pictures. My total running time ended up being 16 hours and 55 minutes.

My original plan was to start out super early in the morning, like 3 am, and run around my neighborhood until about 6 am, then drive down to the lakes before sunrise. I would run all day and then my friend Doug Nash would meet me around 6:30 pm and run with me until 9 pm, when I was done.

I didn't know what it would be like out there all night at the lakes, I've only been there during the day, but I have seen a few unsavory looking characters at times and felt I would be better off with someone to run with out there at night.

The night before my run, I got an e-mail from Paul Grimm, asking if I still planned to run all day and into the night. He was interested in joining me, possibly with his S.O. Karla, and another ultra runner friend of ours. Paul sounded sure he would be there by 8:30 or 9, so I changed my plan to get up early and allowed myself to sleep in until 5 am, then I drove down to the lakes.

The morning was C-O-L-D! It was the first night that the temperatures had dropped below freezing which is unusual for this area in late October. I heard 22 degrees that morning but judging from the ice that was on the lake and the vegetation off the side of the trail, plus some frozen solid puddles on the west side of the lake, I'm guessing it was more like sub-20 degrees. My hands and feet were completely frozen, I struggled with the camera and beng able to feel my fingers and the bottoms of my feet for the first couple of laps.

The sunrise was awesome and there was steam coming off the lakes. On the west side of Equalizer Lake, an irrigation pipe had burst from the cold, and flooded about an 1/8 mile section of the course, which necessitated a detour into the shoulder, and I had to leap over three or four muddy sections with water flowing through for most of the day until the sun dried things up. The area never dried out even by night, so that section became a permanent part of my loop, which slowed things a little until the worst of the mud solidified.

For the first hour or so I took pictures, so it took forever to get around the lakes the first loop. At sunset I did another slow loop where I took pictures. The pair of eagles were in the tree again.

The day was clear and the lakes were smooth as glass all morning. Lately we've had some fierce wind and that was my main concern, having to deal with the wind all day. But it never got to anything more than a mild breeze.

I listened to my music most of the day. I'm not really sure what went through my head because I wasn't paying attention to my thoughts, I was looking around me at the light changing and the beautiful scenes. The mountains, water, cornfields, buildings, everything was so clear and colorful. It felt like a moving visit to an art gallery.

As I write this, I just realized that it was a relief to have my mind clear from any troubling thoughts junking up my ability to lose myself in the run. It's been a long time since I've been able to do that!

The day was cold and I stayed bundled up all day from head to toe in 2 to 5 layers, including gloves and a headband over my ears. The only time I got warm was late afternoon, just before the sun was setting, but I stayed dressed, knowing the heat would be gone quickly.

As a result I ended up with my own Halloween tan, a stripe across my forehead from my headband, and the raccoon eye mask from my sunglasses.

I felt good all day. I took it easy during the day, knowing I would have all those fresh bodies with me at night, I wanted to be able to run with them. I took a few breaks off my feet. My car was loaded up with warm clothes, my cooler and all my food and supplies.

I covered everything up with towels because otherwise it would look like I was living out of my car. I had sandwiches, gatorade, coke, coffee drinks, hot water in my thermos for soup and hot chocolate, lots of snacks including my old standby Starbucks banana chocolate chip coffee cake.

What ended up happening was Doug showed up at 6:30, and Paul drove up just as we were starting out on a lap. Karla was unable to make it. My running partner Cat had another running event she was attending but she was going to come down to say hi and run a lap with us. Doug and I ran a lap while Paul got his stuff organized and then Doug went home. Paul and I started running. Cat came down and joined for about a lap and a half, and then Paul and I continued until 2 am.

Paul is a 2010 Badwater finisher among numerous other ultra and ultra-triathlon accomplishments. We had never run together before this so it was an opportunity to get to know him a little better. We had plenty to talk about in the nearly 8 hours we ran. Paul is going to join us in running Across the Years for his first time this December.

I felt good and ran well for a few hours after sunset, then I started to need more walk breaks. Eventually Paul and I walked most of the last few laps. It was great training for Across the Years, which was the purpose of this run anyway.

I had no problem staying awake, all I had for caffeine was one 16 ounce bottle of coke that I drank before sunset. I didn't get sleepy even after midnight, but I am sure if I'd stayed out there a little longer I would have.

Catharine had the best quote of the entire run. She said to us, "I love running with people like you, it makes me feel normal!"

I got home by 2:30 am, didn't bother unloading the car, I just went in the house, took a shower, and climbed into bed. I slept from 3 am until 11:30 am. Then I unloaded the car, ate, drank- I woke up with a bad headache probably from dehydration. I felt pretty good other than the headache. My feet were tender, but no blisters. My muscles were not sore at all. I soaked in the hot tub for 15 minutes and my feet burned when I got in, from the heat rash.

Then I went back to bed from 2 pm until 4:30 pm. I took The Buffaloes for a walk, ate some leftovers for dinner, Dennis came home from work, and I went back to bed at 8 pm and slept until nearly 7:00 this morning. I figured I slept 21 hours out of the past 28 hours since I got home Friday morning. Is that normal? I guess I needed it.

Thanks to Doug, Catharine, and Paul for joining me on this perfect day!

Today I will run and attempt to get my life back to normal, maybe do some yard work, clean the bathroom, etc. Maybe I can make myself feel normal, too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall Colors

It's October 22 and this fall has been unbelievably mild. This flower bloomed yesterday morning in my wildflower garden in the front yard. Today was the first rainy day we've had and it isn't even cold.

I've been feeling good running. So far this week I've done three runs, of 15, 20, and 30 miles. Yesterday 14 miles of the 20 miler were on the Horsetooth hills, and I was feeling pretty wiped out toward the end, but I bounced back overnight and had an effortless 30 miles in town today.

I have been feeling pretty good in general. The reduced stress as a result of my new job has been a gift. I have been working some extra hours to save money for Badwater, and I've found that I can handle more hours at this job without feeling completely wiped out.

I've been needing afternoon naps but I'm pretty sure this is a result of the increased mileage and my usual need for 8-9 hours of sleep as my baseline. I'm not sure that being one of those people who needs a lot of sleep is necessarily a convenient thing, being an ultrarunner, but I am usually able to get that nap in and it makes all the difference.

I don't have a lot of exciting stuff to report, which might be a good thing. Dennis and The Buffaloes are well. At this point I'm just looking forward to Across the Years and having a great time down there.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Morning Run

This morning it was 22 miles at the lakes again. I can't get enough of this spot this time of year. I saw the same pair of eagles, a blue heron, pelicans, geese, seagulls, and other birds on their way south.

It was a cool, rainy, windy morning, but not the kind of rain that gets you drenched. It was comfortable in shorts, but my hands got cold. I ran by myself today. I felt good the whole way.

There was fresh snow on Longs Peak when the clouds lifted.

After the run, I went over to Wilbur's and bought some wine. Today they are donating all their profits to the PVH Navigator Fund for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The mountains always remind me to keep things in perspective. Life is big, and small things come and go, like the birds passing through every year. Today looking at this scene I remembered how different things are for me now than a year ago. Last year at this time I was struggling, and now things are so much better.

When I'm at work, every day, I am reminded of how important it is to live life fully. I am so lucky to live here and see this scenery every day. Running allows me to experience it in ways that many people never do.

Every day I am thankful for my health and my ability to run.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pink Haze

This morning The Buffaloes woke me up at 4:43 a.m. They were wiggling and panting and all excited about whatever Australian Shepherds find so exciting at 4:43 a.m. on a morning when I don't have to go to work, could sleep in, and the weather is cool enough now that we don't have to go out running at the crack of dawn. It was morning treat time and the Mom of Buffaloes dragged herself out of bed.

Later I found myself thanking the girls, I got started early and drove up to Horsetooth and caught the sunrise. A pink haze settled over the reservoir and the city below. I ran a strong 16+ miles on the hills, running an out & back between Hughes Stadium and the intersection of Overland Trail and Bingham Hill Road. I have to admit I was dragging butt in the last four miles but I pushed myself hard.

Today is a special day because I was able to firm up some race plans that I've been struggling with for next year. The Badwater dates were announced today, so I now know when the race will be held, so I can prepare my crew and get all my planning started.

I also got some information on an early spring race in Florida that my friend Mike Melton directs. The LOST 118 is a 118 mile race in February around Lake Okeechobee in Florida. It's the headwaters of the Everglades. Lost means Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. My friend Bob Becker offered to crew me, so I am ready to make some plans for spring! Thanks to my Floridian friends, Mike and Bob!

Never go running without a camera! Never, never, never, never!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ABC: Always Bring a Camera!

Today I went to Houts & Equalizer lakes with Cat to run a few miles. I ended up doing 20, I felt great. A few laps into it, we saw these birds in a tree, far off. Fortunately when we realized they were bald eagles, we were close to the car and I grabbed my camera on our next pass by, and then we ran back and took pictures.

I always try to remember my camera when I run in places like this. You never know what you're going to see.

I'm trying to figure out my spring racing schedule now. I have a free round trip ticket on Southwest and I need to figure out how to use it. I'm looking at something on the east coast in early spring. There are a few races I'm considering and it all depends on being able to pull it all together, which means getting the time off work, and finding a crew if necessary.

I have some long training runs planned for this fall, I am starting to get attached to my new lake loop, so I will most likely do a long one out there.

Tomorrow, hills at Horsetooth.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Breaking the Rules-almost

This morning I decided I might have to break the rules. I was considering it. But I ended up not breaking THE rule because THE rule says: "Thou shalt not drive more hours to a run than the number of hours thou shalt be running." I only had to drive a total of 40 minutes, 20 minutes each way from my house.

I had a 20 mile run planned, and I wanted to run somewhere different, with scenery. I considered driving to Boulder Reservoir. But I chose the loop around Houts and Equalizer Lakes in Loveland, across the road from Medical Center of the Rockies.

Yesterday I went to Denver for a visit with Steph, my amazing crew chief for Badwater. We are starting to make plans for next summer and the conversation got me motivated. Across the Years is a race, but it's an essential part of my training for Badwater.

What an incredible run! The pictures say it all, really. It was warm and very windy, the gusts were strong enough that I was being blown sideways when I was running east and west. But I had an awesome workout and I only walked a total of 5 minutes, I felt great running, even with the wind in my face, and I ran 6 big loops around both lakes plus two little extra loops around each of the lakes, plus a couple of short out and backs to my car, for a total of 24 miles in exactly 4 hours.

I felt so good, this tells me I'm recovered from Lean Horse and ready to start hitting it hard for Across the Years. I ran a total of 79 miles this past week. Over the next two days I probably won't run. It's my two 12 hour shift workdays and that is plenty. It's good, because I get a break from running, but I still get the cross training time on my feet.

I loved this loop, the only time I have ever run it before was in last year's Heart of the Rockies Half Marathon, but I think it's going to become a regular part of my training this fall. It's about one-third concrete and the remainder is packed dirt. You can't beat the scenery, and it's easy to park close to the course and use your car as an aid station.

Time for food and a nap!