Scatter my ashes here...

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

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.