Scatter my ashes here...

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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sunset Flight

The past few days have been uncomfortably hot around here and it's been sapping my energy, but I've managed to get some decent bike rides in and some good walking. I'm starting a regular cross-training program as of Monday and I'll be feeling much better soon. I've been watching the birds and squirrels, they have been more active and they know the days are getting shorter.

Yesterday I met with a local coach, Wendy, to get her opinion on what's been off with my training. When you coach yourself, you can get tunnel vision and miss certain things that are obvious to someone from the outside. I've been at the bottom of a pit.

I already knew subconsciously, or even consciously, that I've been neglecting, hills, strength, and core work. All I've been doing for a long time is running roads and flats, few hills, with very minimal work on my abs and core, no weights, which amounts to almost no overall strength training. My performances plateaued, I can run forever, I have great aerobic capacity, but I am vulnerable to injury as a result of the staleness and lack of variety in my training. Wendy pointed that out to me in 5 minutes, and I've been marginally aware of the need to do all this but had little motivation.

Also, the lack of strength training has most likely reduced my muscle mass, which also reduces my metabolic rate, leading to fat gain. I need to shake things up. I've just had zero motivation, it seems like mental exhaustion and physical fatigue have been taking over. And I know why...the thing I've been bitching about for so long, I'm burned out and frustrated with my job and it's sucking the life out of me. Feeling physically, mentally, and spiritually depleted is not good. Extreme depletion precedes defeat. I will not allow this to get me to the point where I feel defeated.

Change is coming, and soon. The feeling of relief washes over me like waves in the ocean. I feel like I'm floating in the water, or lifting off the ground.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday: Walking

It's the end of the day and I almost didn't blog because I didn't feel hungover from work. I did slip into the negative mindset for a short time but I caught myself and remembered what was important, and getting back to a positive vacation frame of mind was the key.

The thing I always do on vacation is walk. I try to cover as much territory on foot as possible because that's how you can really observe and see people, places, and things, up close, and interact with them. At home in my usual routine I'm usually running, and that's part of training, so walking gets cast aside. I think in a way this injury has been a blessing, because I need to walk now, it's a key part of reclaiming myself after this stressful episode in my life.

Tuesday morning I was on my way into work and I ran into an advance practice nurse I've known since I started this job, she has been with the organization a long time and is good at what she does. I initiated the usual start to the conversation: "How are you doing?" and these days, when greeting my fellow nurses, it doesn't get answered with a smile and a confident-sounding, "Good".

Instead, now it's always "Okay. You know...been better." with a downward deflection of the voice.

That's exactly how she answered me. She asked me what I thought of things, and I told her, honestly, how disappointed I am in the way things have gone. She agreed with me, and she's also considering alternatives. Later in the morning I ran into another nurse who has been there forever, and she told me she is working on starting her own business, doing something related to nursing. It's sad to see so many people echoing the same feelings and escapist ideas. Even the people you thought would never have left.

Today I slept in until 8:30, which is rare for me. I needed it. That's why I didn't have a work hangover, even after a busy, long day on Tuesday. Since we got back from California I haven't slept well, with my work schedule it's hard to get a good night's sleep anyway.

I started this morning with a walk with Iris, Isabelle didn't want to go. I tried, but she refused. When an Australian Shepherd makes up her mind not to do something, that is how it is. So she stayed home. During the walk with Iris I was able to stop myself from thought perseveration on the frustrations of work, and turn my attention to better things. I began to come up with ideas, and those ideas became organized thoughts, and when I got home I was able to write things down.

I didn't put too much pressure on myself to work on anything too hard, I just got a few things done and then called Troy, and he came into town around 12:30 and we went for a bike ride for a couple of hours to Loveland and back. I felt like I got a good workout, didn't ride overly hard but steady. The pool at EPIC is closed until the middle of September and until then I can either find a different pool or just stick to the bike and minimal running. I'm figuring out a training plan that will keep me fit but not too tired so I have plenty of energy to work on the important business of my future.

After the bike ride I went for another walk, to think and clear my mind. It was a hot afternoon, and I tried to rehydrate myself. Walking always helps the thoughts flow so much better. I did a ton of walking on vacation, and I think it will save me if I continue to do it now, when I need more than ever to be able to think clearly, make plans, and move forward. Each day, just a few more steps forward, and I will get where I'm going.

Like I always tell Wheaties Boy when he asks me about my approach to a race I've trained hard for, I have a job to do. So I go there and do it until it's done.

I have a job to do. I'm not waiting for anybody's mediocre B.S. to get in the way of my ability to do something satisfying and meaningful to me, and helpful to others, I'm doing it myself.

Life is too short to wait, too short for mediocrity, and too short for B.S.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tinfoil Hats and Black Helicopters

Survived the first day back at work.

Thought I was going to lose it this morning before I left the house, Dennis was leaving before me and he said good-bye to the girls and Iris did this little guilt trip thing she does. She does her multi-syllabic whine: "mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm!" And then she gives you this heartbroken look and lifts one paw up...she knows how to work us.

Dennis spent a few extra minutes saying good-bye and then it was my time to leave. By then Iris figured out that her trick didn't work, so she tried the next trick- sitting below the kitchen cabinets where her treats are- and staring up at them so I'd feel compelled to give the girls a treat before I left.

I took my tinfoil hat with me, keeping it invisible but firmly planted on my head to keep the evil from creeping in and sucking my thoughts out. I think it worked, and I lucked out, we were overstaffed for the afternoon and I got to go home early, at 2 pm. Awesome. I came home to the girls who were thrilled to see me.

Being back, I kept my head on straight, despite all the bitching around me and all the little annoyances and stupidities that pick, pick, pick at you all day long, all of the ridiculousness, irony, and unresolvable frustrations that eat away at your resolve, I managed to ward them off with the invisible tinfoil. But they were there, and I have to keep my guard up until I get through the next two days. I work Tuesday, then Wednesday we have a staff meeting at 7 am. The joy of it...

Three of our patients died while I was gone, none of the deaths were a big surprise, but the timing is never what you think. I always say good-bye when they leave their appointments because you never know. A reminder of how important the patients are, regardless of the endless crap that gets slung around that has nothing to do with taking care of them.

While we were gone the CEO and President of our newly merged organization either relieved themselves, or were relieved of their duties, in one way or another, who knows, who cares, and I say good riddance. They have no clue what their underlings do. Completely and totally out of touch with their factory workers. Buh-bye. Have a nice retirement. Enjoy your spoils, because we underlings are all suffering as a result of your corporate success.

Actually I knew all about it, despite the fact that I turned off my work e-mail while we were away. I got texts, personal e-mails, and of course saw on Facebook the "big news". BFD.

How insignificant it makes the chatter and hubbub of the day, of the past weekend's corporate events that everyone who is not in a direct patient care position worries about, things that the muckety-mucks somehow think are earthshattering and they go clamoring for explanations and excuses, but I could not care less. I have little concern for the fate of a couple of multimillion dollar salaried executives. I think they'll survive.

What I care about are the people who are getting their first chemotherapy treatment today, and are worried about everything in their lives being turned upside down, including just being alive. Because there's no guarantee. How much is it going to hurt when I tap their port for the first time? How much nausea can they expect after their first chemo infusion? Will they be able to continue working? How successful is this type of chemotherapy treatment for people who have the same stage of cancer that they do? Is it all true, what the doctor told them? That kind of stuff.

A few fresh raspberries from the garden and a glass of wine mellowed me out, Sophie's Red from Mountain Spirit Winery in Salida. Then I was ready to finish laundry, unpacking, and empty the dishwasher.

Tomorrow is another day, and I'm bringing my tinfoil hat again. I might have to double up the layers of aluminum in case there's any metal fatigue.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


We spent the past week in Manhattan Beach, south of LA. Flying in and out of LAX makes us Ex-LAXers, right?

Actually LAX is sort of like WalMart but with big glass windows and you fly in and out of it.

It was a perfect week, even though I only ran a total of 5 hours the whole time I was there but probably did 10 to 15 miles of walking a day on top of that. Got some beach action, some swimming, boogie boarding, drank lots of margaritas, ate some great food, hung out with my dad, Ronna (my stepmom), Dennis, and our friend Tami from Arizona. Took tons of pictures, brainstormed with Ronna and Tami about my future plans, more on that soon...

It was completely refreshing and restorative. I didn't even realize how stressed out I was until that first day we got there, Dennis and I were walking along by the water and I burst into tears and blurted out my unhappiness and frustration with everything, it was like the salt air was drawing it out of me, sucking it out and blowing it all away with the wind.

My shoulders were hard as rocks when we got there, now I am relaxed and my neck no longer hurts. I have to go back to work for the next two days and I have wrapped myself in imaginary tinfoil to keep my Zen inner surface where it is, so that I don't lose the benefit of vacation before I get to dive back into my life again on Wednesday.

So I promise to be back and blogging again on Wednesday and will share some of the amazing photographs I took out there, but for now I'll leave you with these few images of my week there.

Happy running,


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Listening to the waves crash, smelling the salt water and sand, not having to do anything. 

All we've been doing is running an hour in the morning, walking everywhere, and being on the beach. Much needed. 

Hamstring is cooperating so far. It's been cool the past two days and I haven't been in the water, but today is sunny and warm. 

I could stay here forever.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Today's Harvest

An hour run in the pool today, plus afterwards I jumped in the lap lanes and swam 100 meters. That was all. I can't even remember how to flip myself over at the end of the lane. I am a really pathetic swimmer. But I have to start somewhere. Maybe tomorrow I can swim 200 meters. Or 400. I did figure out that early in the day is best, there are no kids at the pool that early. Peace and quiet is what I need.

I felt quite the work hangover this morning, in the form of brain fog. I woke up at my usual time but was unable to fall asleep last night until late. This morning getting out of bed I felt a big pop in my back, and then I felt better. Not sure if things realigned themselves, or what, but running in the pool felt great and I'm not in pain today.

I stopped by Whole Foods to order a cake for a coworker, we're celebrating her birthday this Saturday, and they had this Hatch Green Chile Corn Chowder that smelled irresistible. I got a small container of that and had it for lunch.

In the back yard I picked some yellow squash that were starting to grow too big, today's harvest of cherry tomatoes which are out of control, and the few raspberries that got ripe since yesterday. There is no end to the things you can do with cherry tomatoes.

I'm enjoying this low key day, with my Buffaloes. When Dennis gets home we're going out, it's his birthday. Time for a nap, for now.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spin Doctors Come to Jesus and the Mystery Body Fluid

So the past two days have been interesting...must I elaborate?

I will. Tuesday I met with three different friends at three different times of the day, and the conversation each time was partially about my future plans. I really need to get on a different track, and I'm taking small steps but haven't been able to focus on what IT is. I'll get there.

Tuesday night I got slapped in the face by my own dose of reality, my own Come to Jesus. I went running with Wheaties Boy, and we were about 7 miles into the run, going at an easy 9 minute pace and the hamstring had held up well, when suddenly....

A pine cone appeared under my feet and I rolled my right ankle on it, and after a few four letter words and stopping to check the damage, things seemed okay. I iced my hamstring when I got home, I could feel it at the end of the run. Then in bed I could not get comfortable. My right hip, front, side, and back muscles at the level of my iliac crest were screaming, I had pain shooting down my leg, and I tossed and turned all night, sleeping poorly.

As I was lying there awake, I realized it was dumb of me to go running, I should not be running at all right now. I should be sticking to the bike and the pool. The hamstring needs a certain level of rest and rehab first, and I have not given it that. The universe was saying, don't run now.

And the other thing I realized was that when I twisted my ankle, I must have thrown my pelvis, hip, back, SI joint, and whatever other movable parts there are back there out of alignment, because everything hurt, and I was cracking and popping in all sorts of weird ways that I hadn't been before the run.

So I plan to get in the pool and try to loosen up my back and on vacation I will have a non-training agenda.

You know you're ready for a vacation when you see things in a flat light. Today I barely made it through the work day, I was simply not having any fun at all. Your mind is forced to be there but it wants to be somewhere else.

My mind kept coming back to my back- how sore it was, how my entire lower half feels twisted, and both hamstrings hurt. I just wanted to find someone to walk on my back, shake my legs and crack my SI joint back into it's proper position.

But even more than that, one of the nurses I like and work with often told me today she gave notice. She's moving out of state and she's looking for a completely different job. She doesn't even have a job lined up yet, but she'll have no problem. We've been talking about changes for a while, so I'm happy for her, and truthfully, I envy her. She's been a nurse for the same amount of time I have been.

But she's 20 years younger than me and has the world in front of her, and I envied her freedom and that she is getting out and moving on. I have the ability to do the same thing, with more at stake, as I'm in a different place in my life. There's a big difference between 30 and 50, for a lot of reasons. But sacrificing your happiness and sacrificing being true to yourself are not healthy options, and I'm paying for that now, and have been for some time.

Nursing is such a dead end job. Working directly with patients at the bedside, chairside, in a hospital setting is the worst. There's something wrong with a profession that burns so many of it's members out in 7 years or less. There's plenty of lateral opportunity but you can't really stay in the same workplace and move up or into more fulfilling jobs. Unless you're one of the few who enjoy torturing themselves with management duties, and/or being a yes man. Becoming a nurse practitioner might look appealing on the surface, but they are going to be forced into getting more and more education, the value of which is not looking too favorable. And then there's always the glut that happens after the big sell job by the diploma mill.

If I felt like my own skill set was valued, I might feel differently, but I don't. Sick care, not creativity, original thought or innovation, is the only thing that drives the health care industry in the hospital setting. It's nothing more than a factory. It's all about the bottom line, all about the bucks, not at all about the people who serve and are served. The spoils go to the yes men who can recite the scripts, or scripture. Corporate culture is more like a religious cult.

It's been an interesting time. Seems like every time I turn around someone else is leaving. And this week the muckety-mucks are freaking out because they got a big dose of reality after a survey that showed staff satisfaction has plummeted into the gutter. Literally, turned inside out. But how could they even be a little surprised?

What kinds of things are going on in the world of health care? What has health care reform brought us? Hospitals are merging, as we did. They are switching over computer systems, like we did. Mergers and big changes result in everything turned upside down, a gazillion people at all levels of the organization leaving for other places, and staffing levels are reduced, like we did. At the same time these organizations claim to be making the work environment efficient and lean, they spend huge sums of money on expensive consulting firms and wasteful, ineffective training programs, the hypocrisy of which is not lost on even the most menial of workers.

All this is happening in health care nationally at the same time. And here, they also chose to do it that way, in a short time frame, using those methods. No one said they had to do it that way, or all at once, or by carrying a big stick. It's easy to call the shots from your penthouse, when you don't have to live the day to day reality of it. It's a systemic problem, and we can blame it on our own apathetic response to our current system of allowing legislators to run amok with power and money.

So as far as getting slapped in the face with the reality of screwing up royally, that's what happens, when companies take on too much, too soon, and throw thousands of people's lives into a tailspin. Can't blame the people who had no say in the matter, the powerless peons. Given an opportunity to speak out in a survey, they will speak, because it's their only way to be heard. Those way up high, far away, have no one to blame but themselves when they hear the message they don't want to hear. They are now suffering from a big butt bite and all I can do is give them a rabies vaccine.

The spin is entertaining, if not sad. How many ways can you twist the reality of a clear message that you have fucked up into something that avoids taking full responsibility? Let's see how many ways it's possible to script a message into a yes-man digestible version to be distributed to trickle down to the masses. No matter how you spin it, it's not the fault of anyone but the people who have the power to initiate the changes. As in, those who make the six and seven figure salaries and never get their hands dirty. But many people below pay for it, out of their hides, every single day.

So that's my work hangover-induced rant. To add a twist on my otherwise doldrum-like day, I did have a little surprise to spice things up.

Early this afternoon I was sitting at the computer doing my charting, and I looked down at my pants. There was a quarter sized stain, with starfish-like extensions, dried on the front of my thigh. It was a brownish-green color. No one had puked on me, and I couldn't figure out where it came from. The only thing I could think of, and what it resembled most, was that someone had coughed up a big ol' loogie and hacked it on the front of my pants. They would have had to be low to the ground to do that, though. I haven't had to deal with much in the way of lung cookies since my ICU days. I suppose there are some things to be missed if one ever leaves the nursing profession...

I freaked out for a minute, in my own quiet way, and then went to the sink, wiped it off with some water and alcohol wipes, and it was gone.

Those pants are definitely getting washed separately tonight...

Monday, August 12, 2013

And Now for Something Completely Different...

This morning I started officially cross training because I have finally admitted to myself that I am injured and the way I've been training has not gotten me the results I'd like to see.

So this morning I went over to the pool and ran for an hour with my friend Connie. I got my butt out of bed at 6, groggy as hell, but I did it.

Connie and I did a bike ride together on Saturday and she mentioned the pool thing again. I know she does pool running regularly and I have never gotten off my lazy butt to go over to the pool and do it myself, thinking, since I wasn't injured, I didn't need to.

Connie, on the other hand, is still rehabbing a serious injury- last spring she was riding her bike and crashed, landing on her hip and shoulder, broke the top of her femur, and damaged tendons in her shoulder. She is doing well and is able to run a little, but she's on the bike, in the pool, and walking mostly. She gets all the hardware taken out next month.

I used to swim when I was in graduate school and I also used to run in the pool back in the days before I started doing ultras when I was always injured. But maybe I should have been doing it all along.

Yesterday I spent a while searching before I found my swim goggles and my swimsuit. The goggles were buried in an avalanche of Badwater gear. In the past twenty years I've only used swim goggles for sandstorms in the desert.

The swimsuit hasn't had much use, either. Fortunately I could still fit in it! I did not have a swim cap and I bought one this morning after our pool run. I ran with Connie in circles in the deep end for an hour and could have kept going but thought I might want to see how this feels on my hamstring before I start pushing it. So far, feels okay.

After the run, I felt incredible. I get such an endorphin high after being in the water. I remember that feeling after swimming, too. I decided I'm going back to it, even if only once a week for now. I didn't swim today, but I'd like to do some of that again, too.

I'm thinking maybe I can get more benefit out of the Tabata workouts if I do them in the pool or on the bike. I really think that's how I injured the hamstring, the Tabata sprints were too intense for my slow legs.

The flowers haven't slowed down, even with the slightly shorter days and cooler temperatures we've been having.

I'm stretching and strengthening the hamstring now and I need to figure out a training program, but it's all going to have to wait until September, I need to get through the next few weeks and then vacation, and then I'll be ready to stick to something. For now, I'm enjoying the buzz.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


I decided to go radical today.

Trying to run through an injury is pointless, and I can't exempt myself from my own advice. I've been trying to give my leg a few days off and it's just not enough. I want so badly to be able to train hard and be in top condition for the 24 hour race in Oklahoma City in October, but I'm not improving, and I know it.

It's been in the back of my mind as a possibility, but I wasn't ready to make the final decision to change my plans. But this morning I had coffee with a friend and she said the thing that I needed to hear, even though I had spoken it to myself, inside my own head dozens of times. We were discussing work stress and life stress, and she said that the hamstring injury is a physical manifestation of all the mental stress I've been undergoing.

Sometimes it's necessary to hear others say what we already know, before it sinks in enough for us to take action.

I came away from our talk feeling refreshed and relieved. I wasn't looking forward to forcing myself through workouts that are just mile after mile at the same pace, with no challenge, and no variety. I wasn't looking forward to our upcoming vacation wanting to run at the beach and feel good, and as much as I love running at the beach, I also didn't want to have to train through a vacation that is badly needed as a vacation.

Having a nagging thought in the back of your mind about some body part, being worried about further injury, not being able to give your full effort in training runs, is not worth it, because you can't enjoy your runs, and that defeats the purpose of doing it.

The first thing I needed to do was tell Joanne and Hunter, my friends who were going to crew for me down there. And then tell Chisholm, the race director. And then everyone else. So I did those things and here I am. I even committed to volunteering for one of the races I signed up for, the Equinox Half Marathon, in September. Even if I am capable of running it by then, it's too soon and I'm not even going to try.

The next thing I will do is look into physical therapy so I can rehab this thing properly. It's not so terrible right now and I know it's going to be a lot easier to get back to 100% if I start now, before I do more damage.

So, I feel disappointed, sad, and slightly pissed off about the circumstances leading to my stress-induced injured state, but I know this is the best option I have. I need to let go. I have had to let go of other things recently, and this is just one more. It's freeing, and it allows me to have time and energy for other things that need attention.

I've been in such a tailspin trying to figure out what I want and where I want my life to go, I need to forget about it all and not choose a direction until I'm ready. I will know when I'm ready because it will come to me. The love of training and preparing for another big race will also come to me when it's time.

There are a lot of other things I'm wanting to work on, and this will give me the opportunity to do those things. I need to work on my overall strength because I have neglected weight and cross-training for too long, I need to do a lot of little things around the house, I need to get back to my writing project that I abandoned for the entire month of July.

I'm remembering my recent layoff two years ago, when I rehabbed my ankle, and I came away from that feeling better than ever from the cross training I did. I felt like I took years off my body's age. It would be nice to do that again. I also had an 18 month period of improvement in my running performances after that. There's hope on the other side of this...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Obesification: The Dreaded Errand

It never ceases to amaze me...the ability of humans who are given brains with the ability to process complex thought, and think rationally and critically, to go through life without using them.

We went to our closest local big box supermarket last week, King Soopers, which some people call King Stupids, to get dog food and treats, it's one of the few places that carries the food we feed the girls, and the three different types of treats we give them. Other than going there for dog supplies maybe every 6 weeks or so, I try hard to avoid it.

Several reasons: first, because there is very little in the store other than dog food that I can't get for either a lower price, higher quality or both somewhere else. It's expensive to shop there and they don't have much of what I want to buy. Second, because the growth in this part of town has resulted in a major expansion of this store and it's too big of a place to run in quickly and get something. The parking lot is a zoo, and the store is huge.

You could actually get a distance workout with a built-in obstacle course covering the floor to get things that are spread out on opposite ends of the building, and there are so many people living nearby who shop there that it's jammed with people and their shopping carts.

I should say, jammed with oversized people and their oversized shopping carts. Shopping there is a claustrophobic's nightmare. I'm not even claustrophobic but this place brings out all sorts of phobias in me that I never knew existed.

Not only that but the store is a typical American grocery store, full of brightly colored oversize packages with contents of dubious nutritional value, mostly cheap, processed, genetically modified, pesticide-laden, tasteless, salted carbohydrates that go directly to one's waistline, skin color, hair follicles, subcutaneous tissue, arteries, brain, and pancreas.

The longer I stay away from these bastions of American obesification, the more impressive their inhabitants become when I do stop in. People look sad. Wide and overweight, pushing their huge grocery carts around, walking down aisles of salted, nitrated, artificially colored, vacuum-packaged objects. You think this is food?

Their skin is sallow, and their eyes are blank, their expressions unthinking, faces defeated and exhausted. Their clothing hangs off their bodies, fitting poorly, because clothing is made for bodies of certain proportions and when one's body exceeds those proportions in it's own unique expansion pattern, the clothes are tight in some places and way too baggy in others.

The worst part is when they bend over. Please, can we adjust the height of the lowest shelves?

They need huge shopping carts because the items they take off the shelves are packaged in huge cardboard boxes or big cellophane bags. The produce is a tiny part of the store, it lives in one little corner, and it looks scary. Much of the produce is packaged in cellophane bags. The fruit and vegetables that are not packaged are even scarier. It reminds me of the Woody Allen movie Sleeper. Oversized, like everything else in the store. What farm did it come from, that grows fruit that big, shiny, and blemish-free?

I feel overstimulated by the glare of artificial lighting coming off the plastic packaging, distracted by the colors and shapes of cardboard and cellophane containers. And the aisles that contain so many different items but are hardly wide enough for two people and their massive shopping carts to pass through and stand back far enough to look at the clutter on the shelves and find what they're looking for, so many choices it's overwhelming.

I feel near-panic when I'm in there, I always want to drop the cart and whatever I've placed in it, and run out of the store as fast as I can. I force myself to complete my shopping trip because I know it's a necessary evil and not very often, but I have to actually psych myself up to drive over there, park, and enter the store. It's the most dreaded errand I do.

You can bank on the future of Big Agriculture, The Junk Food industry, Big Pharma, Hospitals, and Mortuaries, in that order. Our economy depends on it. To hell with health care, I'll put my money on mortuaries.

Work Hangover Wednesday: The Ripple Effect

I slept until 8:45 this morning after going to bed at 9 pm last night. I did wake up in the middle of the night though and was awake from 2 to 4 am.

I start a long stretch off now and I am ready to reclaim my life, everything is in disarray after the chaos of the past month. Our basement is a disaster, all that's missing is the yellow tape. It's drying out this week. Then we start the process of figuring out what to do next.

While I might need a few afternoon naps to recover this week, a friend of mine who is a nurse on a different unit that was understaffed worked a 16 hour shift his last of 3 days and he slept away the first two of his four days off. He's not getting compensated to recover.

This morning was a waste, I stared into space, did a few things around the house, but didn't even think about a workout. I'm hoping after a nap I might be able to fit a run in this evening.

Injury report

I guess it's fair to say, yes, I am injured. There, I said it. Do I feel better? No. Freakin hamstring. I can run, but I can't train. There's a big difference.

I am hoping to figure out where I am with this hamstring injury over the next few days and make a plan, I need to see if there is anything I can do for it that will allow me to get more improvement and do the training I want to do before October. The plan is to see if I can handle two 20 mile days this week and some shorter runs, and get some good rides on the bike.

Wheaties Boy crashed on his bike yesterday. He got banged up but nothing major. The bike took a worse hit than he did. The ground probably took an even worse hit than the bike. But he's tired, even though he doesn't think he is, and it's easy to be brain fogged for a day or so after a hard race like that triathlon, I think he needed to get more rest. When you're that fit, your body feels great even after a major effort, but there's more to recovery than just the body.

I don't know about him, but I know I am completely brain fogged the day after a long hard race. After a race it takes me a few days before I can even think clearly. You become more accident-prone because you don't have the mental sharpness that you usually have.

Stress report

All the stress at work and the distractions at home of cleaning up the basement, not being able to free my mind to focus on what I need to do to take care of myself, is part of the reason I'm injured. Work has been somewhat less stressful, we're starting to go back to our usual level of staffing but we're still running into glitches with the computers, and we have less support available now. It seems to be going pretty well, but there are many speed bumps.

Stress brings out the worst in people, every change seems to sweep a new wave of toxicity over us. It's amazing when people slowly reveal the inner core of their personalities. I always have to laugh when I hear patients refer to nurses as angels. Ha...if they only knew.

Sometimes if you pull a weed you think you're getting it out of the garden but it already went to seed and the seeds are sprouting other weeds. Little weeds grow up to be big weeds. It's a never ending cycle.

And on top of all of this our schedules are changing, which is not a bad thing, but getting a dozen people to change their daily pattern around is another source of tension and disruption to everyone's lives. There have been so many changes, I'll be glad when we get past all of this and things settle down again. Maybe by next year? I hope it won't take that long.

The Bright Side
I am just looking forward to going on vacation at the beach, a real vacation, no racing, no thinking, no stress. Just the sand, sun, and surf, and I'm planted on a towel in the center of it.

The good news is that I think I've finally come up with a fun Colorado mini-adventure run idea for my 50th birthday. No, not 50 WalMarts. It involves running 50 miles, and it also involves beer. And food, of course. I'm in the planning process. More to come...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Day at The Rez: Watching Ironman

Perfectly clear mornings on Colorado summer days usually mean it will get hot, but later the sky will cloud up and dump rain, hail, and maybe even a few tornadoes in the afternoon. That's how it's been lately, which is actually the norm, instead of the hot, relentlessly dry summers we've been having in recent years.

I looked forward to this day all week. I think it was Shannon's enthusiasm about competing in his first triathlon, a Half Ironman of 70.3 miles, and the fact that I have never actually watched a triathlon, except inadvertently as a motorist or while innocently out for a run when a triathlon happened to be going on.

Anyway, Shannon, a.k.a. Wheaties Boy, for those who new to the blog, is one of those high-energy, unstoppable people who has a contagiously upbeat and positive spirit about all sports that involve human-powered forward motion of the ultraendurance variety.

I planned my week so that I'd have nothing else to do on Sunday except go to Boulder and watch the race, leaving me free to see the entire event from start to finish. I arranged to meet Megan, a.k.a. Mrs. Wheaties Boy, at Boulder Reservoir, which is known to locals at "The Rez", a very different kind of "Rez" than the one Arizona people like myself refer to when talking about the northeast part of Arizona which is the Navajo Reservation.

I happened to wake up on my own, extra early, and sent Wheaties Boy a text, which is customary for our communication when one of us has a race. At 5:03 am I texted "Game Time!"

And eerily, I did not hear anything back from him. He's always connected. I thought, for a second, should I call? Should I call Megan? Did they oversleep? I decided against it, thinking he was probably caught up in preparation for the race, or in the bathroom, or something...

As it turned out, they DID oversleep! They woke up at 5:30 in a panic and made it down to Boulder in time, but what a way to start!

When I arrived at the Res it was late enough that traffic had slowed down, and there were 6 parking spots left in the lot next to the reservoir, one of which I snagged, before they started diverting traffic far away. I texted Megan and we found each other on the road.

We headed to the start where Wheaties Boy and our friend Eddie Metro were lined up waiting to start the swim. It was so hard to find anyone, they all looked alike in their black wetsuits and green or pink swim caps. We found them and waited until they hit the water.
Wheaties Boy predicted 42 to 46 minutes for the swim, and it looked like 42 minutes to us on our watches. He looked good coming out of the water, even though later he said he was cussing his wetsuit because he couldn't get it off and almost tripped on the way to the bike.

Megan and I both wore our Pearl Izumi shoes, which looked great against the backdrop of sand, if I say so myself.

We caught Eddie as he was starting the bike segment, just a few minutes behind Shannon.

We sat on the grass on top of a high spot above the water and watched as the leaders came in from the bike ride and started the run.

The air was so clear it looked like the flatirons were jumping out of the hillsides. Megan's parents came out to watch too, but they got caught in the faraway parking so it took them a while to get there. They did see him on the bike and run segments, though.

While we were waiting around I went over to the medical tent to check it out, just out of curiosity. Despite the hot day, they had very few customers. It wasn't until after Shannon finished that I saw any bags of normal saline being hung. That dispelled the myth that I'd heard of everyone rushing on the medical tent for IV rehydration after these events. I was glad to see it wasn't standard practice, which was the rumor I heard.

Wheaties Boy looked great as he started the run. It was getting hot, and I yelled at him to hydrate. The run was two 6.5 mile loops.

He came through the first loop in about 42 minutes and ran so fast I only saw him from behind. He looked strong.

Megan and I went to the finish line to wait for him. He came through comfortably under 5 hours, in a little over 4 hours and 50 minutes, looking strong, with an even run split. Awesome job, he really kicked butt on his first triathlon. Congratulations, Shannon!

Eddie came through to start his second lap of the run a little before Shannon finished, so he was not far behind.
Of course Megan got a big sweaty hug from Shannon.

It was fun to watch, and Shannon already has signed up for the full Ironman at The Rez next year. I have to admit though, after watching the whole event, I still have no desire to do triathlons. It just doesn't appeal to me. I like all three sports, but I'm content to stick to running, and keep the others as cross-training or recreation.

I'm looking forward to getting Wheaties Boy back as a training partner soon, though!

Friday, August 2, 2013


Sometimes, Shit Happens.

Poor Isabelle. She's been displaced from her spot on the tile floor in the basement. She's found a new spot to cool off, hiding behind the toilet in the upstairs bathroom.

Starting on Sunday when I strained my back, then Monday when I broke my laptop screen, then Thursday morning when the sewer line backed up in the basement shower drain and flooded half the basement carpet, the week was a literal shitstorm.

And for it to happen on National IPA Day...that's almost a tragedy.

Things began to turn around Thursday afternoon though. Thursday morning I called a plumber first thing and the one I got a hold of could come out between 2 and 3 pm.

That worked well, I was able to get 19 miles of running in, and I felt great. No problems with the hamstring or back, and I felt good from start to finish. I must have fixed the dehydration problem, and other than icing my back after the run, I didn't do anything different.

I ran around town on several loops and ended up at Arapaho Bend Natural Area on the southeast side of town. Tall grass, old cottonwoods, nice views of Longs Peak.

When I got home, I got a call around noon that the part was in for my laptop screen so I took it over there for them to repair.

The plumber didn't show up by 3 pm and the laptop was fixed, so I left a note on the door and ran over to the computer repair shop just a few minutes away and picked up the laptop. YAY! When I got home, there was still no plumber, so I called them, and they said the plumbers were tied up on a job that was taking longer than expected. They said they would call me back with an ETA.

They didn't call back after 30 minutes and I was getting pissed. It was Thursday and I knew if we didn't get it fixed by Friday we'd be stuck over the weekend, and it's no fun not being able to flush your toilet or take more than a 30 second shower. I called them back and the ditzy person in the office told me she never could reach any of them. It would have been nice if she had called me back to tell me that...

Anyway, I gave her a piece of my mind and she said they would see if they could get one of the plumbers they contract with to come over. At 4:30 pm someone showed up, and began the process of figuring out the best way to attack the drain. We learned some interesting things about the house in the process, fixes for a later time, but anyway, they were able to take the toilet out and go in that way, and they ran a camera down there. It was from tree roots in the line. They got it cleared out and there didn't appear to be any major issues other than that, fortunately.

So now we have a mess to clean up, and a floor to replace. Dennis happens to be an expert in reclamation of flooring after plumbing disasters, but he's not a plumber. We're probably going to replace it with tile, at least the part of the basement closer to the bathroom, water heater and laundry room. Another ongoing project. The plumbing bill was expensive, but not too outrageous. We still have more work to do, plus replacing the floor, and that will cost almost as much as the plumber did. I think the plumber was okay. Just irritating when they don't communicate with you that they're running late. Customer service seems to be lost on some people.

Dennis came home while the plumber was there and I decided it was time for a beer. I had a Rocky Mountain IPA from Fort Collins Brewery, which was okay, but not great. I haven't been too impressed with most of their beers. Not bad, and I'll keep trying, but there is so much good beer in town...

The real stuff is from Stone Brewing Company in San Diego. They make great beer: Arrogant Bastard, Stone IPA, Levitation Ale, and others. My favorite, by far, and strong and hoppy as hell, is Ruination IPA. I should have made a special trip to go find that. But our local, around the corner liquor store was on top of it and now carries it. I love Fort Collins beer, but so far, none of the local breweries has come out with anything comparable in IPA. I do like Odell IPA a lot, and their St. Lupulin Ale. They have a lot of good grapefruit flavor, but don't come anywhere close to the intensity of Stone IPA or Ruination.

So today, I ran 14 miles, and made that special trip over to the liquor store for the good stuff. I'm about to crack one open as I write. Who says there can't be a National IPA Week? So many IPAs, so little time...
Anyway, I am thankful that I am able to run, that the back strain seems to be minor, the hamstring, while still nagging, is not getting any worse, that the disasters of the week turned out to be manageable both logistically and financially, and that there is plenty of good beer to drink. Looking forward to a weekend of running and triathlon-watching.