Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Far Beyond the Toenails: A Personal Review of Running on Empty

This is not exactly a book review, but there is one wrapped inside of this blogpost, which is really a personal review of my response to reading Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich. I’m no book reviewer, but this book touched me personally in a lot of ways, and I feel like writing about it.

Yes, I do highly recommend the book. One of the things Marshall says early on is people are fascinated by the story of his toenails. I’ll leave that to the reader to discover. I don’t care about the toenails. I knew about them long before I read the book, and I didn’t care then, either. Marshall’s internal and external discoveries along the road across the country are much more interesting.

It took me a long time to get around to reading this book. I started it, then put it down, and intended to read it at several different times in the past 6 months, but it was only this past week that I actually sat down and read the thing cover to cover.

I bought a copy soon after it was released, and I planned on taking it with me to Badwater this past summer to get Marshall to sign it when I saw him. I’ve met Marshall and his wife Heather several times and always at running events, where there’s a lot going on, and never had a real conversation. We have quite a few mutual friends, not the Facebook kind, but real friends. Still, we’ve never gotten to know each other.

I picked it up and read the first few chapters last spring, while I was in Arizona on a long training weekend before my Badwater double. It was hard to concentrate because I was tired from running, but also, somehow I felt like I didn’t want to read it yet. Not sure why. I never even got to the point where he started writing about the Transcontinental run.

I put it down with the intention to finish it while I was tapering for Badwater, but never did. I kept putting it off, for some reason I kept hesitating. I had a reluctance to read about it.

As it turned out, he was at Badwater this summer signing copies of his book for each of the Badwater entrants. I had forgotten my copy in the hotel room, and I wanted a signed copy, but not for me. I wanted it for a friend of mine who happens to be a fan of Marshall’s, and who is going through a very difficult struggle right now with his wife who has cancer, something that Marshall could relate to.

Marshall’s generosity caught me off guard. I don’t know why, because my friend Bob Becker had already told me what a great guy he is, but when I told Marshall about my friend, and I told him about my upcoming double Badwater run and how and why I was doing it, he was all for it and wished me the best. He signed the book for my friend.

I gave the signed copy to my friend and I had mine sitting on my desk all summer and this fall. I still wanted to read it, but I couldn’t pick it up, even after I’d run the successful double crossing, came home, recovered, and processed what I’d done.

Now I know why, and I’m glad I waited. I needed to do my own run, work at my own goal without the disruption or distraction of someone else’s experiences- and then I could read it. If I had read the book beforehand, I know it wouldn’t have made any difference in my performance, but might have junked up my head a little, because I wouldn’t have had much context for it in my own experience until after I completed my run this summer and started thinking about what’s next.

In reviewing the book, I can categorize my responses into three groups.

His experiences out on the road.

The landscape. The descriptions of the trees, the farmland, the cornfields, the countryside, the smells, and the memories they evoke. The bristlecone pine, and the tree with the shoes draped on it. Those are the things I notice and remember when I’m out there.

The pain and discomfort. I never even got close to what Marshall experienced with his multiple injuries along the way. In Death Valley, my feet hurt with every step and I found the best way to deal with it was stopping to put my feet up for 10 minutes or so every few hours. While I was on my feet, my thoughts, music, or any other distraction was enough to keep me from focusing on the throbbing surface supporting my body.

The drama. While I felt sympathy for what Heather and Marshall and some of their other crew members endured during the run, especially with Charlie and his dysfunction, I believe ignoring their gut feelings from the beginning was what got them in trouble. Finding a way to make the whole production work, the entire trip and all the support that was needed, and sponsors, and everything- it’s understandable that they would make the best of what they could find for support, and weather the good and bad. And ultimately it was a success, in no small part due to the way both Heather and Marshall have the depth of character to pull them through the rough times.

I experienced crew drama on both of my Badwater races. The first year I didn’t handle it as well as I could have. It strained my friendship with one of my crew members, and things haven’t been the same with him since then, but that’s how I dealt with it at the time. In 2011, I also had some crew drama between two crew members, and I felt much better about my own response to it.

History. I love how he wrote of the historical significance of the places he saw and passed through. I loved the snippets of history, talking about the Mexican immigrants who started their restaurant business in Utah, the experiences of the pedestrians and other cross country runners who endured much harsher conditions, and the way Marshall wove the stories of people he met and scenes he saw. Not the least of which was finishing on Election day, 2008. THAT was cool.

The little things that amused me because I have been there and can relate to them.

Note to myself and ultrahypo: Couldn’t help chuckling at his thyroid medication. Another hypothyroid ultrarunner. We do succeed despite our thyroids. And we need someone to remind us to take our medication every day.

Marshall says he did 120 miles per week in training, that’s about what I did for my peak weekly mileage training for my Badwater double. I found that interesting.

The food he likes- milkshakes, Starbucks coffee drinks, real food, lots of calories. Not drinking plain water, but other things.

Becoming a machine, all you do is move forward, eat and drink, rest as needed, leaving the details to the crew to worry about, so that you can put your energy into the focused forward motion.

The familiar crude and unique names we make up along the road for the monotony of our everyday routines.

The important things that transcend running and athletic achievement.

I like the fact that he does also do it for charity, and makes it about more than himself. Our personal goals and expectation of ourselves, no matter how far out of the norm, how selfish and consumptive they may appear to others and even to ourselves, do not have to get in the way of improving the lives of others.

His sensitivity and his love for Heather, that he writes about so well, I think he conveys this better than anything else he experiences in the entire journey. I don’t know Heather beyond a couple of times being introduced by mutual friends. One year when I was working on medical at Badwater, I saw Heather and Marshall as they sat for the longest time with Denise Jones and John Vonhof in the back of the medical room at Stovepipe Wells, where Marshall was trying to make a decision about whether he should go on due to injury. Looking at Heather, you see there is a strength and depth to her being- and you understand why she and Marshall are so good together.

His comments on how ultrarunning strains a marriage and a family- and how selfish it is- yet we do it because of this compulsion inside of us. Marshall says, “It’s just who I am.” And I think that is really the best way to explain the inexplicable. It takes a strong partner to live with a person like this- they must be well-grounded and confident in their own existence.

How he describes his fragility out there and how it contrasts yet coexists with his strength. It’s the fine line between focusing on a goal and feeling like you’re teetering- in some ways you are made of steel but in other ways you’re on the verge of a complete collapse. I can relate to this somewhat from previous races I’ve done, although I know I didn’t get anywhere near my limits on my Badwater double.

And finally, what drives him, and how he views his own accomplishments and moves forward. He celebrates, but doesn’t rest on his laurels. He pursues the next thing, when he is ready. And considers the point where he might not pursue anything more ambitious. He accepts, gracefully, the fact that he might be done with some aspect of his pursuits, or might not be.

After reading the book, I realized that so much of what Marshall wrote about inspires me, yet I have a different approach. It was an important book for me to read right now, as I'm at a crossroads with my running, in a sense. I'm in a place where I'm stopping and thinking about what's next and where I'm going.

My longest run yet is not even ten percent of what he did, and I don’t have a fraction of the adventure racing and none of the mountaineering background that he has. I can’t, won’t, and don’t want to do most of it. Stories of climbing Everest fascinate me, but I don’t want to do it. Considering how I respond to 14,000 feet above sea level, I don’t think I’d make it past base camp.

Five days on my feet at Badwater this summer was not long enough and I’d love to go beyond that. I know I can, and I want to, somehow, but I’m just not sure what that will look like, where it will take me, where it will be. I suppose I’ll be ready at some point, I’ll know it when I am ready. And I’ll find a way to make it work, logistically and financially, when the time is right.

I’m currently grappling with the fact that I have limited resources, another multiple Badwater crossing might be within my means, but without some substantial amount of money, I can’t see myself doing any cross-country treks, even north to south. I’d love to run across more of the beautiful scenery in the western U.S. Maybe that will be possible someday.

Because I am not a well-known accomplished adventurer or elite athlete likely to get sponsorship and support, and I don’t have an independent source of financial stability, the main thing holding me back from longer adventures is money. The reality is that doing the Badwater double last summer was a stretch, and it did set us back somewhat. I’m not willing to do another adventure until I’ve saved enough to more than cover it again.

I also know that whenever I’ve wanted to do something, I can make it work. It’s a matter of deciding to do something, and focusing on what needs to be done in order to make it happen.

But I’m less sure I want to take the risk of injury associated with such a long trek. I have things to weigh, things to think about. I need more time for my ankle to get stronger. I do know that my trail running days are probably over. This ankle is not going to weather another severe sprain. I realize that you can sprain your ankle anywhere, just walking down a hallway on linoleum in flat shoes, but technical trail running will not be worth the risk for me. Roads, on the other hand, are unlimited possibilities.

I see Marshall’s book as a description of what goes on in reaching one’s peak and facing what’s on the other side. I know I have not reached my peak, athletically. I’m not ready to stop, but I am trying to decide what, if anything, is next. Some days I’m not sure. People remark at how amazing a Badwater double crossing is. But inside, I feel like, it was just part of my journey, part of where I’m going in this long ultra called life, and I’m not sure where it is relative to the beginning or end. I just accept it as part of the path I’m on.

I keep my eyes focused not on where I am, but on the horizon, where the next goal lives. People have told me that I seem muted in my own celebration of an accomplishment. But it’s because I’m looking forward and outward, just like when I was a kid, looking out the second floor classroom windows over the green Pennsylvania hills, wondering what was out there, and knowing that as soon as I could, I was going to discover it.

I’m really glad I waited to read the book until now, when I could focus on it without being distracted by what I had to do to prepare, and after I had my run behind me, so I could relate to a taste of what he experienced.

But I want to thank Marshall for his gift, not just the signed copy of the book, but for sharing this insight into his experiences. I understand how much must have been edited out, things that could make the book drag on too long or things that Marshall thinks would not appear to be interesting to general audiences. I do understand the humor and silliness, and some of the pain and agonizing that goes along with such a trek, and to me, it would have been worth reading about.

Last and least important of all, why the fascination with toenails? All I know is that no one seems to ever let go of the memories of pictures of my feet after my first Badwater. It’s like they get fixated on the bizarre and gruesome details, which are really inconsequential in the long run. Marshall called it the freak show quality. I guess because it’s something tangible, an experience they can share – and most people have had some experience with foot pain. People are looking for some aspect of it that they can relate to. When they see me, months after the event, they still ask me, how are your feet? Are they healed yet?

It’s a strange phenomenon, and I have to admit, I find it amusing.

But the point is, read the book.

Looking Ahead

Our back yard looks empty. I’m mourning the loss of our beautiful cherry tree in the middle of the yard. It took a hit a year and a half ago, the same morning we left for the Florida Keys a heavy wet late spring snowstorm cracked one of the big limbs.

We cut that down and left the rest of the tree, but last week our heavy wet fall snowstorm broke the remaining limbs and it wasn’t going to survive. I’ll plant something in its place, probably a fruit tree of some type, when the time is right. I'll miss the cherry blossoms in the spring, and the shade.

I’ve been in a sort of half-funk lately. I’m not depressed but I feel somehow at loose ends. I think it’s finally starting to catch up with me, the fact that I have no immediate running goals and that huge part of my life’s focus is really blurry right now.

I’ve been filling the time with domestic projects, which is nice, cleaning out and organizing all the junk and making room for other things. I have made a goal to study for my oncology certification exam over the coming year. And I’m looking forward to the completion of the woman cave.

I haven’t been running with anyone else, I’m not ready to do anything where I take the focus off how my ankle is doing yet. And I haven’t been in the mood for sharing that time with anyone else, either.

I’m having to not only physically guard myself, but somehow I feel the need to keep my thoughts and mental processes to myself and to positive things while running. I’m unable to listen to anybody else’s stuff. Once I am more confident that I can run with a free mind, without the little nagging voice reminding me of my ankle, it will be easier to be around others, for now, I’m in self-protection mode.

I have made it to an hour of running, it doesn’t hurt while I run, but before I warm up in the morning, my ankle is slightly stiff. It’s not painful, but it reminds me that it’s there. I keep taking days off whenever I feel like it, but I’m sort of pushing it with that. I’ve taken a lot more days off the past 2 weeks than I really needed to.

It’s a luxury right now being able to do that, but there is some little gear grinding in the back reaches of my brain that is nagging at me to get off my butt and get moving more consistently. The weather doesn’t help, we’ve had snow, ice, and are expecting more in the coming week. I’m going to Arizona for a few days, maybe the sunshine and warmth will help my attitude and my ankle.

One thing I did do this week, I finally finished reading my copy of Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich, and I’m planning to write a complete blogpost on that, sort of a personal review, wrapped into my own perspective.

I started reading it months ago, while I was training for my Badwater double, but was too tired, focused, and reluctant to read further at that point. Now that I’ve finished reading it, I’m really glad I waited until now, because I don’t think I could have thought about the book or appreciated it in the same way if I read it earlier this year, before I did my double crossing.

More about that later. The sun is up. I really need to get out and run today.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Return of the RPB...

What a weird week this has been. The sunshine finally came back this afternoon, but it's not forcing me out the door yet.

We got our first snow yesterday and it was one of those heavy, wet storms that splits trees and wreaks havoc in all kinds of ways. We were without power for a while, our maple tree took a hit, and our cherry tree is now flopped over in the back yard and we'll have to cut it down.

I woke up yesterday morning, needing to go to work for a staff meeting, and found big tree limbs down in front of our front door. I had to climb over everything. Then once I managed to get to the car and push the 6 or so inches of heavy, wet snow off, I discovered two huge cracks in my windshield. Then I saw our neighbors' house. We didn't fare too badly compared to them- their huge old cottonwood was half down, leaning against their garage and new roof. They moved all their cars during the night.

On my way to work, I had to go a different route because the way I normally go was blocked by downed tree limbs. Afterwards I had a dentist appointment, which fortunately was just a cleaning, nothing else needed.

This morning I had to go to a class at work, mandatory training for all nurses on the new AEDs we're getting. I had signed up for a class earlier this week, on Monday morning before my work shift, but spaced it out. I had to sign up again and this was the only time available that I could make. So I dragged myself out of bed and when I went out in the 18 degree morning to warm up my car, the locks were frozen. CRAP!

I have never had frozen locks before- or not in my recent memory. Not with this car, anyway. I looked at the clock. I had just enough time to put my running shoes on and run to work. But I really didn't want to run to work, so I decided to keep trying with the car. My employee badge was in there too, so I might have a hard time getting in the building. I was pissed.

Finally, some miracle happened and I got one of the doors open. The sun wasn't up yet to warm things up, there was a fog sitting on us. Maybe the universe was afraid of the wrath, feeling the threat of a forthcoming hormonal rage, which could likely have happened if my doors didn't open within another 5 minutes.

I went in, attended the class, and stuck around afterwards to get my annual TB mask fit test, something we all have to do. Dani took a picture of me in my Spongebob outfit for the test.

I had originally cancelled a haircut appointment because of my goof-up with the AED class. But I got done with class and the TB mask test in time, so I called to see if I could reschedule, and I was in luck- my appointment time was still available.

I went in and asked the woman who always cuts my hair if she could take a lot more off than usual, and thin it out. I proceeded to get the worst haircut imaginable. It really was my fault, I wanted less hair- my hair is super thick and when it gets long I feel like I'm carrying an extra 10 pounds on my head. My hair grows fast, fortunately. But right now I look like I have a mop on my head. It truly is awful- maybe I should go get it shaved. I'm going to have to pin it up in different places and tie it back for at least the next 6 weeks, until it grows out enough to figure out what to do next.

Some days make you want to go home and crawl under the covers. Forget the running plans. I came home from the haircut, did yoga, took a shower, and now I'm going to drink a glass of wine and crawl under the covers and maybe take a nap. Maybe when I wake up my hair will give me inspiration for a new Halloween costume?


Alene as Spongebob

This is what we nurses have to do every year to get our TB mask fit tests.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I've been busy with more "stuff" I chose to do. Some is busy work, some is for fun. I've been working on projects around the house, trying to organize and clean out junk before winter.

Only a few days left of this gorgeous fall weather we've been having until the seasonal reality kicks in. Next week we might see our first snow this year. That's okay, I'm ready for it.

I have backed off on the bike, and running is steady but I'm not up to an hour yet. That could happen this weekend if all goes well.

I have things on my mind, other than running.

Last night I spoke at a cancer support group about the role of the nurse in care of the oncology patient. It was odd to be speaking about something other than running. It takes me out of my comfort zone. I spoke about what nurses do, how we are trained, and how oncology patients can get the most out of their time spent with the nurse. We have access to so much information and so many resources, but many patients don't know to ask about those things.

I think it went fairly well, though I felt somewhat nervous up there, talking about something I've only been doing for 5 years, and especially oncology nursing, which I've only been doing for 15 months.

The discussion at the end of the talk was lively. There is so much frustration among patients with certain aspects of healthcare in general. They are not frustrated with the nurses themselves, but with the flow of information and communication among providers, and not just physicians. There are so many gaps to fill, and nurses can do our part by being thorough in each interaction with a patient, but there are so many other interactions between patients and health care providers that we can't control.

As a result, nurses often end up picking up the pieces and filling in the cracks where we can. Our job is to make sure no one drops the ball when it comes to a patient's care, but we can only do that when we know something is missing- we have to discover it ourselves or hear it from the patient, and often we hear it from the patient too late. The health care system in this country has failed patients who have access to it in so many instances by providing inadequate and inconsistent information, that patients don't know where to turn.

What I didn't talk about last night was that the complaint I hear so often from nurses that the nursing profession itself is failing nurses. So many nurses are physically and emotionally unhealthy because of their working conditions and powerlessness to change them. They get frustrated and give up. How many obese nurses have you seen? I see a lot. Every day. Ever wonder why that is? Then look at the general public.

Nurses don't have a powerful organization lobbying for them. Physicians have the AMA. Nurses have the ANA, which is barely a whisper in comparison. It really isn't doing any justice to nurses who actually work in direct patient care. In nursing, to begin at the bottom, nurse education and nursing employment paradigms, need as much of an overhaul as health care in general does, along with our political system. What does that have to do with obese nurses?

Our country is failing- our leaders and our political system have failed us. They allow the powerful wealthy interests to dictate how things are run, not in the best interest of the people they are failing to serve. We have an oligarchy. And we are seeing the obesity that results from oligarchy. What do I mean by that?

Obesity is just one symptom of all of this. Keep the people in a fat and sedentary food and electronic gadget coma, keep them tired and busy and commuting and help them to be slaves to their objects so they won't have energy to stay sharp and fit, or to fight or even care. This helps to minimize their leisure time, and minimize their sleep. Minimize their energy and time to prepare, cook, and eat healthy food. A hamburger with french fries is much quicker to eat than a salad if you only have a 30 minute break in a 13+ hour day.

I wish nurses could be examples of healthy living for their patients. I wish people would change their lifestyles before they become patients in the healthcare system. I wish I wish I wish...and I feel powerless, even though I try on a daily basis to exemplify these things.

I've been watching the Occupy Wall Street movement from a skeptical distance but I can't help thinking that people are getting closer to the point where they are finally realizing that their apathy is costing them more than the risks of taking action do, and I believe that is precisely where we need to be going if we are ever going to save ourselves from destruction. Look at the puppets we supposedly send to Washington to represent us. Have they done anything for you lately? Keeping people divided and spreading misinformation is exactly how the powers-that-be, the oligarchs, want things to be in order to keep things going in their favor so they can retain power and wealth.

This isn't a blog about nursing or politics so I won't go any further here. I have so many thoughts on how nursing needs to change as a profession. And how health care needs to change. But it's just part of the bigger picture that has been eroding for a long time. Real people, every day, need to take responsibility for changing it. That's what I'm thinking about today.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Real Run

I did my longest run yet in the 2 weeks I've been running again, 40 minutes. I feel like I took 10 years off my body, or I'm running in someone else's body.

I have started to drop a little weight, just 4 pounds so far but I can feel it in my clothes and I have a little less to pinch around my waist.

Running feels a lot easier than it did before. I feel like a runner again, my legs turn over so much more easily, I feel like my posture is better, and my form is better. I didn't realize how tired I was before. My pace is faster without even trying.

This weekend we had our first taste of real fall weather and it was refreshing- it rained and was cold yesterday. I didn't even force myself out to go run in it. I did yoga instead.

Then I spent the rest of the day cleaning out my junk, I have two closets that were full of stuff, unorganized chaos that was expanding by the day. I pulled everything out- running gear, art supplies, books, dust, dog hairballs, and I vacuumed and dusted and got rid of stuff, I can walk in my bedroom closet again, and it felt so good!

I was thinking on my run today, that I am learning a lot from this break, more than I thought. First, I am enjoying having a life again. I don't feel like I have to get out there and put the miles in or run at a certain effort.

But what is more important is that I am realizing how much better my body feels with the cross training and different activities. I am so much more flexible- I feel it when I get out of bed in the morning. I used to hobble around like an old lady, my calves, achilles, hamstrings and glutes would be so tight in the morning that I'd walk around stiff until I took a hot shower. Now I take that first step out of bed in the morning and I don't have to shuffle around, my ankles bend the way they are supposed to.

The other thing I'm finding is that the stress of training so many miles and so slowly was not so good for my weight- I think a combination of being so tired all the time and working at such low intensity made it hard to burn calories and eat the right amount. Now I'm not hungry all the time and I'm able to get through the day without having to eat every couple of hours.

I love doing long runs and there are more adventures I'd like to do. When I'm ready.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thought for the Day

We all could use one.

Earlier this week I was in low spirits. Not sure if it's the shorter days, sometimes I hit a speed bump around this time of year. But the weather has been spectacular, and I'm enjoying a lot of things every day now. There's nothing particularly stressful going on, but whatever it was, it was hitting me hard. Wednesday I forced myself out on the bike when I didn't feel like going. I felt somewhat better afterwards, but it wasn't enough.

Thursday I felt better, and got out for a nice ride toward Greeley and back. When I got home, I talked on the phone to a long time friend who just found out her dad has metastatic cancer- it's everywhere, they're not even sure where it originated, but he won't be with us much longer. We talked for a long time, we have shared a lot over the years and one thing we have in common is that we both have a strong attachment to our fathers. We talked about quality of life and making the most of the time that's left.

Then I remembered it was the night that the cancer support group meets. There's been a lot of visibility for the topic of cancer, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It also happens to be my sister's 5 year anniversary since her diagnosis. She is doing great. I went to the support group and being around everyone and listening to them always gives me a boost.

But this morning I was barely awake, sipping my coffee, and saw that our local paper was pink! I rolled my eyes. Oh please, spare us the pink frenzy. It's really hard to read the print against a pink background!

There was a great article about a local cancer survivor in today's paper and I think they more than redeemed themselves for the pink insult to our eyes by printing this article.

I'm very supportive of the efforts to support cancer survivors, to prevent, treat, and eliminate cancer as a life threatening disease, and all the great organizations out there working toward this common goal.

And I also support and believe in living life one day at a time and not getting caught up in the unimportant things. I do my best to live my life like that, and I'm nowhere near perfect, but I am getting better at it.

I am feeling so much better today.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Meet the Frackers

Dennis just got home from a work-related trip to Florida. I had a bad week while he was gone. For some reason this past week I was in a bad place, just super irritable and then feeling crabby and hormonal. I didn't sleep much while he was gone, and that never helps. Finally I got caught up on my sleep and felt much better this morning.

So now I feel energetic and a little snarky.

Today we went for a bike ride along the Windsor-Greeley section of the Poudre Trail. Dennis had never been on it before so I took him out there to see the scenic part, and we turned around before the ugly part.

Dennis was noticing all the oil tanks out there, and the number of huge homes sprouting up along the bike path near Greeley.

We were wondering, who would be living in and building such huge monstrosities, in this economy, and in Greeley of all places, and with poison ivy in their back yards.

Serendipitously, this morning there was an article in the Denver Post about the frackers.

Frackers refer to the people who are making a very comfortable living off of fracking- hydraulic fracturing of the land in order to get oil out. I don't mean the paycheck to paycheck living of the people who do the hard work. I'm talking about the people who are raking in big bucks.

Frackers pump water plus a special mixture of chemicals into a well to force more oil out.

The frackers don't want to disclose the contents of their fracking fluid.

So the fracking industry doesn't want to share it's secret recipe with the world. I liked Hickenlooper's comment about Coca-Cola. Cute.

It's a big deal here in Colorado. We don't know the effects on groundwater and whatever other toxic environmental effects might result from it. The industry is wanting to frack the area around Windsor. Windsor has a growing residential area, and it also happens to be scenic and has great potential for outdoor recreational pursuits. Look at this gorgeous scenery along the Poudre River Trail, where we rode today.

Looking up at the huge homes overlooking the poison ivy corridor of the bike path, we decided that this must be where the frackers live. Who knows if they do, but it sounded plausible.

I tell you, some people will frack anything. Hey frackers, Frack this!

It's starting to cool down in the mornings and evenings, the days are still hot. Great cycling weather, but in another week it's going to change. I'm returning to running slowly and I'm going to tough it out and wear tights and more clothing to keep cycling as long as I can. No long runs for a while. I've been enjoying the days, having energy to do other things besides just working out.

I feel great when I run, instead of running on fatigued legs they feel strong and flexible, and I feel light, even though I haven't lost any weight. I've been doing a lot of cross training, not just cycling but weight training and other balance, flexibility, and strengthening work. I forgot what my body felt like before I started training for all these long ultras!

Our house is still a wildlife sanctuary for Einstein, but not for the squirrels. The squirrels are losing to Iris the squirrel hunter. I should see if she has a license. Sadly, she has eaten at least 3 more baby squirrels. I find carcasses in the yard when I get home from work. She stalks them. Even my neighbor told me he yelled at her over the fence because she had a squirrel.

As you can see, with 20 minutes of daily running, I don't have much to report right now, if I'm resorting to writing about fracking. I hate thinking about politics anymore, dreading the onslaught of the approaching ugly election, I find it all so depressing and overwhelming, and mostly it just brings out the snark in me.

Tomorrow is the annual running club picnic and 4K run, in which I am actually going to participate. And I'm off to Arizona in November for a visit with my dad and stepmom. And that's the extent of the news in my world for now.