Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Morning Rock Repeats

Did it. Two Rock Repeats this morning. My Sunday morning worship of the holy Horsetooth Rock.

I might not be able to walk by Tuesday, but it needed to be done. I haven't been up there in forever, the most hill running I've done this year has been the 10 mile out and back on Centennial Drive at Horsetooth Reservoir.

Dragging 130 pounds of body on a 5'1" frame up and down the Southridge Trail service road was slow and it kicked my butt. I could feel every last ounce of extra weight clinging to my body.

It was a cool morning and it rained in between my two trips, for about 15 minutes. Just enough to cool things off as the sun was starting to warm up the trail. Probably a good thing to send the snakes back into hiding.

On my way down the second time I ran into a Pearl Izumi teammate, Kristel Liddle, she was running up with her husband. We stopped and talked for a minute. I also ran into one of the doctors I used to work with in ICU, he was on his mountain bike.

There's nothing like a good quad bashing to remind your body that it needs work. I could already feel them turning to jello on my second trip downhill.

It's the last day of June, which means the end of the fiscal year for some businesses. It's the end of my fiscal year too, I'm starting out with a new contract effective yesterday. What contract am I talking about?

I have a plan. I have got to rid myself of this lead brick I'm hauling around. I made a contract with myself to get rid of it during the month of July. I started yesterday, a couple of days head start. Except I cheated and had a beer late last night. I won't be drinking any more beer for a while though.

I'm probably going to be a bitch, and I fully expect to feel like crap running for the next 30 days but I can't stand it anymore. I weigh too much and it's too hard to move. I have a plan to deal with it and I'll share it on the blog here after it's done. It's one of those "don't try this at home" deals. I have a plan for how to get through the work days too, those will be the biggest challenge since I'll be in need of brain fuel.

My 2008 Badwater crew member Nick Clark finished sixth at Western States on a hot day. Still waiting to hear how another Fort Collins resident did, Alex May. Last I heard he was still in the race and making the cutoffs.

This cool weather and rain we've had the past two days has been a nice relief. Meanwhile all the hot places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Death Valley are nearing record temperatures. I'm enjoying the cool air, but I still wish I could go to Death Valley!

Saturday, June 29, 2013


I just got back from my morning run, which was more like an obstacle course because of all the debris and downed tree limbs from last night's storm and flooding.

I did two miles with Iris first, then went out on the Power Trail and ended my run on my Tabata course, where I did the four minutes of hell, and then went home.

It's warm and humid this morning, and I was pouring sweat when I got home.

Dennis looked at me and asked what I did. I told him I "lobotocized".

"What's that?"

I said, "It's when you work out so hard, you give yourself a lobotomy."

I had some great ideas going through my head as I ran, so the lobotomy must have done me some good. Now I'm headed to the woman cave to write them all down.

The way the clouds are building up today, looks like I'll have to do my evening run early so I don't end up swimming.

Friday, June 28, 2013

If you don't like the weather in Colorado...

Wait a minute.

It's been hot in the afternoons! Today it was about 94 degrees when I got home from work around 3 pm.

Then suddenly around 7:30 pm, the sky got dark, the wind started blowing, it looked like a tornado or a haboob was coming our way, and within minutes, the streets of Fort Collins were flooded and the temperature was 30 degrees cooler. We didn't get hit with hail but people on the east side of town did.

You could almost go surfing down south College Avenue. It was nice to get watered by the sky for a change. I hope this rain becomes a regular pattern in our weather again, the way it used to be in Colorado, when you could always count on a good downpour in the afternoons.

I think of all the poor souls lining up at the start of Western States tomorrow. I hope they either spent a lot of time in the sauna, or are from Phoenix. If this keeps up Badwater should be gnarly this year, too. Dammit. I wish I could be out there.

I took a nap this afternoon to get a chunk out of my work hangover and I'm hoping I can sleep a lot this weekend. I'll get a few miles in, some intensity but not a lot of miles. This week is pretty much written off as far as accumulating any mileage, I've been too tired and busy. I'll shoot for some Tabata, and hill-fartlek runs. Didn't make it to the track again this week, either.

I'm watching Longs Peak and every day it looks more and more bare. It seems like just last week it had a ton of snow on it. I need to get up there soon, but it will be tourist city this week in Estes Park with the holiday, so forget that. Maybe the following week I can get up there super early one day and do a long, relaxed trail run and beat the crap out of my quads. That's what my quads need, is a good wake up call.

And next week is July. I have got to get my lazy flab in gear and start lifting again. I have a big blob around my midsection that needs to go. It feels pathetic. What has happened to my body? I feel like the Pillsbury dough boy, gluten-free version.

A Change of Seasons

Good morning, I was up well before I looked at my watch at 4:14, even though I have averaged only 5 hours of sleep a night for the past three nights and I'm going into my third shift in the past 3 days. I'm trying to drink enough coffee to get my eyes to open like these flowers, but so far it's not working.

Summer has arrived with a vengeance, it's been near 100 degrees and everyone is complaining about it. I haven't been able to enjoy the heat, I've been stuck inside a temperature controlled building without windows for most of the past two weeks, but I'm looking forward to next Wednesday. Not because of the massive cumulative work hangover it will have in store for me, but because it is the beginning of 5 days off work, that at this point I so desperately need to restore my soul, spirit, attitude, and sanity.

The colors in my flower garden change over time, the purples came out first this year, then the pinks and reds, and now the yellows and oranges of sunflowers are coming. Sunflowers have a special meaning for me because they remind me that summer is going to end, and fall will eventually be here, and that is my favorite season. Seeing the change in colors tells me that the season has changed so subtly. I usually live one season ahead anyway, I think January 1st is spring and July 1 is the beginning of fall.

The spring date is most likely because of living in Arizona, where it really was spring in January, but it helps to think of spring in January while living in Colorado too, because it makes the winter go by faster for me. The beginning of fall date is due to my time living in Crested Butte, where the trees actually did start changing in late July, and the raspberries were ripe, and there was a change in the air to slightly cooler mornings.

Having these wildflowers outside my window helps me every day. They are my contact with reality and the natural world, on days when I hardly get to see natural or outdoor anything.

I was mad because yesterday I was so tired after my first of three shifts. I hate it when the first shift wipes me out, I was there nearly 13 hours, and ran my butt off all day, got out late, and that's not a nice way to start a long stretch of work days. I wanted to run yesterday morning but I could not get to sleep after that first long day, I guess I was too wired, and only slept from about 2 am to 7 am, and when I got up I was too groggy and irritable, and it was already hot, so I decided not to run. I'm getting pissed because the month of June turned out to be only half a month of good training.

This morning I woke up early and it's going to be another blast furnace of a day, but since I'm up, I might as well get a few miles in. It will make me feel better mentally, if not physically. I know I am going to pay for this over the weekend, I've been doing these two or three shifts on, two days off for two weeks now, and two days are not enough to recover from the type of workdays I have. The fatigue builds up in so many ways, and after a while you can hardly think straight.

That's where you start to resent work, when it gets in the way of your normal life functions, your ability to take care of yourself in all ways: nutrition, exercise, sleep, family time. It's NOT okay to neglect those things. I don't understand why people don't get that. But then, if they did, we wouldn't be able to keep running a dysfunctional health care system for profit.

We've been working like dawgs, and right now I'd rather be outside in the triple digit heat, I'd rather be preparing to go to Death Valley in 2 weeks, but instead I'll be doing another mega-work week that middle week in July. Damn computers.

Yesterday I went for my lunch break, it was around 1:30 pm and I found my quiet spot on the grass under a tree outside. It was blazing hot outside but I needed air. I ran into a former coworker who gave me an earful about "stuff". I really think that these companies are barking up the wrong tree with their approach to cost saving. Yes we need health care reform desperately in this country but we also need profit reform.

In case you haven't noticed I did post a disclaimer on my blog, see the right hand column under "Said With A Groan" because it seems that some people get very upset when people post their opinions on their blogs. If you look out in the nearest pasture, you'll see all the new calves that have been born lately. Really, it's getting to the point where it's ridiculous, but it's so that no one misunderstands that I am not dead, that my vital signs include having an opinion in addition to breathing with a heartbeat, therefore they don't need to call 911, I am living.

Really, if you live in that much fear that you can't open your mouth because you've got a big fake smile bandaid plastered across your face to hide your personal misery, you do need someone to call 911, because you might be warm, but you're as good as dead.

That's MY opinion, and I'm sticking with it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Gluten-Free Girl and Wheaties Boy Hit the Power Trail

Finally, a run with Wheaties Boy tonight. We're back at it.

I don't know which one of us was more wiped out, we were both suffering a bit, but the important thing is that we did the run. He's still recovering from a killer run at Bryce, and I'm still recovering from work, again.

Today I started to feel tired at 9 am, and by 1 pm I was ready for my nap. Work hangover brain fog pretty much killed any productivity writing-wise today, but I did have one productive meeting this morning.

I woke up from my nap around 4:30 pm, I slept 3 hours. Soon after that I got a text from Wheaties Boy that he was headed home from work. We met at 6:15 and did an out and back on the Power Trail, 11.2 miles, averaged 9 minute pace, and it was 90 degrees when we started, 83 degrees when we finished.

I barely survived my work week with the extra shifts, and I'm coming up on another busy one. This past weekend wasn't bad at work, but it was enough to make me really tired. This week I don't have quite so many 12 hour shifts, but I won't be completely recovered from last week by the time I hit work again this week. My work hangover Wednesday will fall on a work day this week.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the air conditioning in the Woman Cave. Dennis installed that over the weekend and I am comfortable now. If I want the sauna effect, I just turn off the AC. Otherwise, I can chill out in here.

I'm planning on another speed workout, a Tabata session, and hills this week, and shoot for a total of somewhere between 70 and 75 miles, without doing anything too long. I'll fit all of it in somewhere, and see how I feel by the end of the week. I'm hoping it won't kill me. What I really need to do is get back to doing core work and weight training. That might not happen until next week, given my time limitations.

But if I look in the mirror and see my disappearing ribs again, it might happen sooner. Whatever it takes...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Work Hangover Thursday: Zombified

This week my work schedule is off...I get to experience my work hangover a day late. In my running life, it's my so-called rest week. Instead of resting, I'm working four 12 hour shifts in 6 days.

So Work Hangover Wednesday is a day late, but not a dollar short. I'll have extra dollars coming soon, I've picked up a bunch of extra shifts this week and next, and then for part of July, while I'd rather be in Death Valley at Badwater. And I'm not doing it for the money. If I were working for money, I'd be on Wall Street.

We have a bunch of people training on the new computer system and we are short-staffed as a result. I took as many hours on as I felt I could tolerate, without spontaneously combusting. If there was any way I could be in Death Valley, I'd be there. Of course this year I'd have to quit my job to make that happen.

We're in the process of switching over the entire computer system and you'd think the apocalypse was coming. We even get weekly reminder e-mails, as if the end of the world is near.

If that's true, then I don't want to die being a waitress on roller skates. That's how I feel so many days.

My work hangover officially started 19 hours into my work week. The exact moment was 3:30 pm on my second 12 hour shift, 5 hours before it was time to go home. It's that point where you hit the wall and you don't know how you're going to make it through the next 5 hours without screwing something up. It's just a bit scary when you have the responsibility for people's lives...

Like running an ultra, when your blood sugar starts to plummet, you get some calories in and bounce back. That's what I did. I was having a "bad patch". I made it through the next several hours and made my way to the parking garage. Sometimes the view at sunset is quite scenic. Sometimes it's the only daylight you see.

So this morning I stumbled down to the kitchen in my brain fog and swilled down two cups of coffee, then my eyes were open enough to get out and run. A little. My legs felt surprisingly good this morning, not great, but they benefitted from no running for a few days. I took the girls for a couple of miles and then finished up with a few miles on my own and made myself do another Tabata session. That's one thing I can do while brainless, it only requires concentration for 4 solid minutes.

I have a lot of writing to do today and if my brain will work before the nap, I'll get something done. If not it will have to wait until post-nap, and I'll figure out ways to use my time while my brain is zombified.

This month is flying by, and I need to start feeling like my legs are made of something other than lead and jello. I feel heavy and sluggish. Maybe the marathon idea wasn't such a good one at this stage. I think I'll go back to 5Ks as training runs. I also need to get my butt in gear to start weight training again. I have been a terrible slacker since April. I'm turning into a marshmallow. I need to get my metabolism going, to fight the steady accumulation of weight. Between aging, menopause, and being a nurse, which in itself tends to make people old and fat, I need a super boost. I feel like I'm getting shorter and wider by the day.

This week is pretty much written off to my crazy work schedule. Next week I hope to get something resembling a life back, and then I have a few weeks in July to train until the next round of overtime. Maybe I can find a 5K or two or three in between all of this insanity.

Run for me...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Estes Park Marathon: Round Five

After a three year hiatus from a race I once swore off, or at least temporarily retired from, I came back. Reincarnated as a tourist.

Saturday night I went to bed early, since I had to get up at 4:15 am to get ready for the marathon and the hour drive to Estes Park. Dennis was out at a work-related function.

I couldn't sleep, so I got up and sat down at the computer, hoping reading would make me sleepy. Around 9:30 I went back to bed to try again. Eventually I dozed off, but within a few minutes of falling asleep suddenly Iris pounced on me and I heard what sounded like baseballs falling on the roof.

Iris curled up next to me, practically smothering me, and she was trembling.


The hail itself only lasted a few minutes, but it was enough to terrify Iris and wake me up. Isabelle is the one who usually gets scared of things. She's the one who hides under the table when there's a fly in the house. She was sleeping on the floor, in front of the fan. I don't know if she even heard it.

I comforted Iris for a while, until she seemed okay. I thought of my tomato plants and the apricot trees on the patio, and then I wondered if the hail did any damage to the roof or my car. I'd find out in the morning.

I think I finally fell asleep around 11 pm. I never heard Dennis when he came home. The alarm startled me at 4:15 and I dragged myself down to the kitchen for coffee, a zombie.

The drive up to Estes went quickly, and I arrived an hour before the start, which was plenty of time, but a good thing, since this year they decided to make the runners park far from the start. I think I got an extra mile of walking in before the race. They didn't make it clear where runners were supposed to park this year, they used to have us park in the parking lot next to the school but they moved the starting lines there this year.

There was this woman in a race shirt and a skirt, screaming at people driving in. I don't think she understood that anyone who has run this race before would be confused by the changes. There were no signs posted to direct people, drivers were confused, it was chaotic, and people are always a little anxious before races anyway. She might not have been a runner and didn't understood this.

Anyway, people were whipping their cars around, making U turns, driving through the barricaded area, and getting pissed off. She was yelling back at them. When I opened my window to ask her where we should park, she screamed at me too. She even called me "ma'am". Hisssssssss...

Don't ma'am me.

The parking nazi. At 6 am. Welcome to the Estes Park Marathon.

I parked and then went up to pick up my number, and ran into Joanne and Hunter, my friends from the running club. Joanne was running the half marathon. Hunter is her husband. Joanne and Hunter are going to crew for me at the 24 hour race in Oklahoma City this fall. Joanne forgot to bring something to carry water in, and the race came up with this goofy device called the hydrapouch. The point was to reduce waste, avoiding the paper cup trash that goes along with these events. That's a good reason for it.

But it's a flimsy little soft plastic cup with a clip that supposedly clips onto your belt or waistband. I tried it the last time I ran this race and it sucked. I spent too much time bending over and picking it up when it fell off my waistband. It's lame, if you ask me. They were using paper cups anyway at the aid stations, so that kind of defeats the purpose.

Anyway, Joanne forgot to bring one and they wanted to charge her something like ten bucks for this goofy thing. Since I was in the marathon, I got one for free, so I gave mine to Joanne. I had my water bottle and my full pack, I didn't need it.

I can't believe a race where they charge you almost $100 for an entry fee can't get the hydrapouch as a sponsor or buy them and give them to all the runners for free. Plus they were using paper cups, so I bet anyone who spent an extra ten bucks on that thing was pissed.

The race started and I had to pee like a race horse from the get-go. There were only 4 portapotties at the starting line with long lines, and the school bathrooms were far away. So I waited, and the race course passed through the starting area around mile 2, and I used them then. I took my time going up the long hill to where the course tops out overlooking Mary's lake, around mile 6. The morning was perfect. Not cold, not too warm and the sky was clear. No trace of haze visible from the Big Meadows fire.

I was going slow, taking my time, taking pictures, and posting them on Facebook. My legs were tired. They felt okay, but they were flat. I had a great week of workouts and this is what I expected, so I didn't worry about it. I was out for the scenic cruise.

There were wildflowers everywhere. This year there's been so much more moisture. Things were green, the meadows were wet, and there were iris everywhere.

It started to heat up as we descended into town, but the aid stations had cold water and ice. They also had this different kind of gel, I've seen it before but never tried it, it's called Vi Gel and it's made for young runners. Why? Because the size of the font on the ingredients list is so small that anyone my age would need arms 10 feet long in order to read it.

I picked one up that said "Peach Cobbler" and that soudned a little funky so I tried to read the ingredients. Fortunately I saw the word "cinnamon" at the end, and put it back in the pile. I *HATE* cinnamon. If you get that $@%# near me when I'm running, I will barf. This princess is traumatized by cinnamon. So I tried the vanilla and chocolate flavors instead. Not too bad. I think I still prefer Hammer Gel and Clif Shot crack.

I ran the downhills and alternated between running and powerwalking the uphills. I was too busy taking pictures to get too excited about running.

Between 10 and 15 miles the race course goes through town and around Lake Estes on the bike paths. It's very scenic, there are views of all the mountain ranges on this side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The marathon and half-marathon courses branch off here, the marathon goes around the lake and the half marathon goes back to the high school to finish.

There was one spot around 12 miles where it was very confusing, and the signage didn't help. I saw marathon mile 12 with an arrow, then soon after that there was another mile 12 sign, then there was a half-marathon mile 12 sign.

I looked around and only saw half-marathoners with their blue bibs. I wondered if I was on the right course. I kept going, not too worried if I did extra distance, since I wasn't racing, but it took a while before there was a course marshal directing people in the marathon.

Soon after that, I saw the marathon mile 12 marker again. I knew I was on the marathon course but not sure if I was making an extra loop. I kept going and eventually saw the 13 mile marker, which told me I was making progress. Except my split for mile 12 to 13 was 22 minutes, and I was running a good bit of it. Strange. I must have counted it from the first mile 12 sign I saw.

I knew I was in the right place, this is the 4th time I've run this race. Actually it's the 5th, but in 2011 I bagged it halfway through in a cold rainstorm and swore it off forever. I kept going along the path around the lake.

Soon there was this sign, and it wasn't lying. The aggressive elk was right there 10 feet off the path. But it wasn't really aggressive. I walked by it slowly, and it just watched me and chewed on some grass. When I got far enough away I whipped out my camera and then I saw all the other elk, and the elk calves down by the water.

Whenever I run this marathon I always feel like I'm almost done when I get across the highway and through the residential area just before you turn onto Dry Gulch road at 16 miles. This is also where it gets hot, most years. It was 75 degrees as I turned onto Dry Gulch road. The aid stations had been well stocked with water and ice.

I looked at the sky and the clouds were moving in. By 17 miles it was cooling off and there was more of a breeze. I didn't bring a jacket this year, I wore my hat but decided to take a chance on it not getting too cold and wet. Probably not a good choice, but I was warm, and the clouds didn't look too threatening. I figured I'd be done in less than 2 hours.

Going up Dry Gulch road and then turning back toward town at 19 miles, it was still warm. Then the wind picked up. After 19 miles the course is mostly downhill with a few little rolling hills, but there was a headwind. I was still being a tourist, but I had my eye on the clouds. At the 20 mile mark I decided to get it over with. I was done with being a tourist. I picked up the pace and put my camera away.

Right before mile 22 I could see a greenish haze downhill, ahead of me, in the forest. The wind was blowing hard. I took off my sunglasses since it was getting dark, and I could see that it was dust.

Then I saw the aid station, there was a dust devil and the paper cups were being blown everywhere, the rain drops started coming down, and the aid station volunteers were running around chasing trash.

I jogged through the rain and headwind and when I got to 23 miles, having whipped out the camera again to take pictures in the storm, I decided to, finally, seriously, get it over with. With only 5K to go I pulled off an 8:30 mile and did a couple of 9 minute miles as I headed into the finish. It always seems like it takes forever to get up the last stretch of bike path to the high school track, where the finish line is. It was raining.

5:28:16. A good long hill run, time on my feet, with a little heat and altitude, not a bad day at the office. And yes, the tourist option was MUCH better.

It looked like they were starting to break down the finish line area and covering the sound system. Someone gave me a finisher's medal, there were very few people around, everyone was running for shelter from the rain and wind, putting jackets on, and heading for their cars.

I went back to my car, taking the long cooldown hike to the remote parking area, and drove home. The place was deserted. I was hungry but it was jammed with tourists in town. I didn't want to deal with it, I could eat gels if I got desperate. The drive home down the canyon was ridiculously slow and backed up, and it would have been worse if I waited.

Finally I got home, got to hang out with Dennis and the girls, ate, drank a beer, and took a nap. Then I called my dad to wish him a happy father's day and talked with him for a long time.

I talked to my brother, too, who told me my niece Jenny who is a junior in high school, is interested in coming up here this summer to check out Colorado State University. That would be awesome. Jenny is cool. She's going to be queen of the universe someday. Except she seems more like a Boulder sort of person, than Fort Collins. We'll see.

Other than the hailstorm, and maybe the parking nazi, it was a pretty good weekend. As it turned out, we got lucky with the hail. Only one tomato plant got damaged, that's all we could see. The sky is dark tonight, I hope we don't get a repeat of that.

One more day off, then I have four 12 hour shifts at work this week, which I coordinated to fall on my rest week of my running schedule. If I think I'm tired now, just wait. I plan to spend all my days off this week on the bike. I'll resume my training the last week of June...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Get After It!

Today I did my track workout. Yesterday would have been a better day for it, but when I woke up yesterday I felt tired. Wednesday's a.m. Tabata and p.m. tempo workouts left me so tired that I needed an easy day of running. I hadn't planned on the evening tempo on Wednesday, and it was only 5 miles, but it was 93 degrees when I did it. I felt like I needed to do it, so I pushed the pace. Sub 9s. My old body felt it in the heat, too.

So Thursday I just ran easy, a few with Iris in the cool morning, and more on my own later. Thursday was an unusually cool day until late afternoon when the clouds moved out.

This morning I needed to get my butt over to the track, it was heating up fast and I knew the sooner I got it done, the less I'd suffer. It was 70 degrees when I started and 79 degrees when I finished.

Again, 3 x 2000 m of mixed intervals, faster than last time, with 10 x 200 at the end. My 200s are finally picking up a little, even though I'm still slow, I made it solidly into the 43-44 second range and the turnover felt better. Getting that leg turnover back is a little easier this time. But until my 200s are averaging around 37 seconds, I'm not anywhere near what I used to be able to do. I'm still carrying about 5 pounds of extra lard that I packed on since late April. Hopefully that will be gone soon, too.

I ran in my Pearl Izumi H3s on the track and they were amazingly comfortable. I've been breaking into them slowly, given a nearly 30 year history of running in Brooks. I could not believe how good the H3s feel on the track surface. The true test will be how my body feels in a day or two, whether I feel any effects of running in those shoes. But while I was running, they felt awesome. I'm hoping I can get used to them over the summer and it would be great to be able to run the 12 hour race on the track in them in August in Wisconsin.

At the track it was quiet at first, and then surprisingly everyone started to show up. Crazy backwards running lady was there, too. Now that I know her habits, I don't mind sharing the track so much because I know she veers between lane 1 and lane 2, and every time we're 50 meters or so apart, she does move back into lane 2, so my fears of a head-on collision with her have been abated.

There was this one tall dude at the track today, with a heart rate monitor around his chest, and he was totally freaked out by crazy backwards running lady. He was trying to run in lane 2 and he's about twice her height. I'm not sure how they worked things out, but he was giving her the evil eye. He obviously hasn't shared the track with her before. It was weird to be on the track on a Friday. There were a lot more people there than I expected. I need to switch my track days back to earlier in the week.

Tonight I'll do an easy 5 miles, tomorrow I'll take it super easy, probably just a run with the girls, and then Sunday is the Estes Park marathon. So far the word is that the air quality hasn't been affected much in Estes Park. The fire is around 600 acres at this point and 30% contained. The problem with this one is that it has the potential to do damage to our drinking water supply here in Fort Collins.

My legs feel tired, but that's the way it goes until I get back to it. I have an easy week planned next week, because I have to work 4 12 hour shifts. But after that I can get going and get after it, as Wheaties Boy says.

I need to figure out my next marathon training run after Estes. It has to be within driving distance, and preferably I won't need a hotel room. There's a marathon in Aspen on July 6th. It's pretty far from the cabin and I don't know if I want to fight the crowds around the July 4th holiday. I'll have to look for alternatives. And no, the Leadville Marathon is not an option. I'm permanently retired from that one. I'd like to run something that takes me less than 7 hours to finish! Breathing is not optional...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday: On Fire!

We're burning up again here in Colorado.

There are three fires that I know of going on in Colorado simultaneously. Yesterday afternoon at work, around 3 pm I took a quick walk down the hall to get something out of my locker in the breakroom, and saw out the window at the end of the hall a huge plume of smoke covering almost the entire sky over west Fort Collins.

It was from a fire in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Big Meadows fire. The temperature this week soared to almost 100 degrees here, and the wind picked up, perfect conditions for a repeat of last year’s fire season, which happened the same time last summer.

This morning, though, there was no smoke in the air, and the sky looked reasonably clear. I couldn't tell that there was a fire. Either the wind shifted, or the fire is under control, or both.

The past two days we were busy enough at work but it was manageable. Monday was a particularly challenging day for me because of all the time I put into a particular patient, but that’s a story for another place. Tuesday my big chemo got cancelled and it eased up the day considerably. Watching patients on different trajectories this week, some downward, some bouncing back, some in denial, has also been a challenge.

I woke up before daylight this morning and Iris pounced on me, wanting a belly rub. I scratched her for a while and then Dennis woke up, thinking I was getting up, he asked me to make coffee. I whined my way out of it, begging to sleep. I fell back to sleep and didn’t wake up until 8:00.

Just getting those extra two or three hours of sleep this morning made all the difference in my work hangover. It’s so much easier to face the day when you’re not sleep deprived.

It was already 70 degrees and looking to be a hot one. By the time I got the girls out for their walk it was almost 10:00.

I went out for my run, deciding to break it up into two runs today. I planned to do 6 in the morning and 6 in the evening. But there was a twist…I decided today would be the first of my Tabata workouts, to pick up the intensity to the max, to get a little fat burning and anaerobic benefit. If I survived.

It was almost 80 degrees when I got out the door, and I ran the Power Trail to warm up, trying to figure out where I might be able to sneak this workout in where no one would see me and call 911. I felt surprisingly decent on my run, even after the two twelve hour shifts on my feet and the hot morning.

On my way home I found a little isolated stretch of bike path near home where there wouldn’t be any people. It was 82 degrees in the sunshine, no shade. I dropped my water bottle, set my watch, stretched my hamstrings a bit, took a deep breath and prepared myself for the unknown…

I didn’t want to think about it. Without hesitating, I hit the start button on my stopwatch, and started the four minutes of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off as hard as I could possibly go. I went back and forth on the short little concrete path. The first couple were okay but after the first minute I could feel the effort catching up to me. I kept going, counting my steps to get through the hard intervals. Ten seconds is barely enough to gasp for an extra breath before you start the next one. By the last two I was digging hard, I thought I might collapse at the end but I didn’t.

My heart rate was easily up there around 200. I checked for 15 seconds immediately after the last one was done and it was at 180, but that was as it was dropping rapidly. It didn’t take me all that long to recover and run home for my cooldown. I got 7.7 miles in total not counting Tabata.

The flowers are going wild in our yard, and I’m hoping the summer doesn’t heat up too much and dry everything up so fast. We had all that good moisture this spring. The girls are not too happy about the heat either. I don't have AC in the woman cave- yet. That is my next priority.

Tonight I’ll go out and do another 5 or 6, and tomorrow is track day. I am really hoping the Big Meadows fire gets under control soon, or it could be a problem to have the Estes Park Marathon this weekend with the smoke.

But, I’m stuck here in the Fort for the summer and I need to make the best of it. I'm already missing Death Valley.

I do have some fun trips to look forward to later in the summer though…we’re going to Manhattan Beach again this year, and I did buy airline tickets to Milwaukee so I can run the Badgerland Striders 12 hour race in August. It’s already the middle of June! How did that happen?

Now the fun part begins: getting back into full training, adding weight workouts and core work, and burning off some of this fat that comes back so easily when I slack off even for a short time. I’m hoping to get the flame burning hot shortly…between two a day workouts, weight work, tabatas, speed, hills, and Wheaties Boy tempo runs spread out evenly and generously throughout the next few months, I can get back to feeling like a runner again before long.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Good Day for Snakes

I took this picture of a 4 foot bull snake on my run this morning at Horsetooth. If you look at about 2:00 from the shadow of my head, you can see the snake's head.

Yesterday and today I had decent runs. They weren't fast, but I felt better. I was feeling like crap for the past few weeks. Finally I decided to take a day off Friday and we went up to the cabin and hiked with the girls. Then Saturday I had a slow, but decent run where I felt stronger, on the Power Trail.

Then this morning I went up to Horsetooth Reservoir and ran hills, pushing a little harder over the tops, just a single out and back on the road to the north dam, about 10 miles. I felt so much better today, and the pace on the hilly run was faster than I've run all week, by a lot. I don't know what got into me, but maybe I'm finally turning the corner.

It was a gorgeous day at the reservoir. I got up there a little late but it wasn't too hot. Perfect for snakes, and people, too. I carried one water bottle and that was all I needed.

Today is our 23rd wedding anniversary and it's also our ultrarunner friend Kirk Apt's birthday. Happy birthday, Kirk.