Scatter my ashes here...

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

Monday, December 29, 2014


Oh crap, does this mean I have to get up now? 

Cursed lunatic ultra convert kids...aka CLUCKs. 

Just when I was hitting my stride in slugdom, along comes a little bird pecking at me, pulling my gray hairs out of my scalp just to be annoying. Reminding me, the sleepy old curmudgeon, drooling on myself as I lie on the floor in a food coma and numbed by beer and sugar, padded by the 10 pounds I've gained, that spring is coming and it's time to get up,getup,getup!  Chirp chirp chirp! Caw! Caw! Caw! 

My friend Connie has a gazillion tons of energy. She's on the comeback after a nasty bike wreck a couple of years ago where she broke her hip among other things. She just ran the Tucson marathon a few weeks ago, proving her awesomeness again, which we already knew. Connie and her husband Doug are awesomeness personified, which is evidenced in their offspring. Their kids Nate and Marissa have grown into the types of adults that the world needs more of, not to mention their multiple gifts and abilities. 

Marissa recently ran her first ultra and it seems that she has been converted...her husband Pete is a triathlete and gifted athlete in general too, and it was only a matter of time. 

I was feeling sort of down on things today for no good reason, except for maybe the cold weather moving in, lack of sunshine and more snow, with a high temperature of 3 forecast for tomorrow. I was sitting on the bike in the living room, cranking out an hour workout, and mentally lecturing myself on pulling my head out of whatever orifice it was in, and finding a way to get motivated. It wasn't working. 

After dinner I looked at Facebook and there was a comment from Marissa. She announced she was considering holding a Fat Ass fixed time run of 6 or 12 hours in Arvada this spring, asking me if I was interested. 

Hence the name CLUCKs. Of course I was suckered into it, some damn fly was on the wall in my living room, probably flew straight to Arvada to buzz in Marissa's ear. 

This means I have to get with it. And it's Monday. Already was almost through a whole day with no beer and no sugar, and she had to give me a reason to make it stick. 

Born again ultra runners, I curse thee forevermore!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ex and Why Running

I've been taking a Blogcation lately. I haven't had much exciting to write about, so I took a break. Not intentionally, but it's been kind of a weird time, I've been off my normal routine and sort of treading water, trying to figure out what's next.

For the first time in a long long time I don't have any running goals. It's so weird, I don't know what to do with myself. I have been struggling the past few weeks with being sick but I finally have it beat, my energy is coming back, I actually ran 4 days this week in some nasty weather too. This morning I realized there is hope, I ran more than 10 miles and felt halfway decent, even though it was a slow pace through the snowy streets and death-defying icy sidewalks.

Sometimes I wonder why the city even bothers to plow the sidewalks when the conditions are like this. I guess it does help after the snow melts, but when it's cold like this, they turn into smooth, slick death traps. It's safer to risk running in the roadway even on the busy streets, than to risk falling on your butt or head by staying on the sidewalk ice skating rinks.

Christmas Day I woke up early to a beautiful sunrise, and got my butt out the door for an hour run. I headed east from home toward the Environmental Learning Center and just as I hit the 5K mark I ran into one of the guys from the running club, Mike, so I turned around and ran with him all the way back to the Power Trail, then I went home, finished with a nice 10K long run. I felt decent even though Mike runs a bit faster than I can manage at this point.

Then we got dumped on, later in the day the snow started, giving us a white Christmas afternoon, followed by a good 7 or 8 inches of snow. We were supposed to go to Denver to see my mother-in-law that day but the roads were really bad, and we postponed it until Saturday.

We did have fun with the girls on Christmas. Iris and Isabelle got a singing Elmo and they sang with it, Iris got a squirrel and a hedgehog, and Isabelle got a bed.

Since Isabelle doesn't play with toys, she thinks Iris is the toy when Iris has a toy in her mouth, so playing with toys consists of Iris with a toy in her mouth and Isabelle hanging on to Iris's butt with her teeth or herding and body blocking Iris. Isabelle's favorite activity is lying down, we thought the bed would be a good choice. But she will only get on it if we insist. Iris likes the bed too.

We also got a webcam to spy on the girls while we're gone or while I'm out in the woman cave. The "Buffcam". We've been talking about it for a while, but the other night, around 3 am we both woke up to the sound of Isabelle tumbling down the stairs. She must have missed a step in the dark, her arthritis has been getting worse over the past year and we give her medication for it, but she's been especially stiff at times, maybe from the weather change the other day. She does okay going up and down the stairs normally, but she can't jump up on the bed by herself anymore and she struggles with a lot of things in general that used to be easy for her to do. She is 13 1/2. Iris has the good genes, she still is able to jump, fly, and leap everywhere.

Isabelle was okay, she didn't seem to be hurt after her fall, our house is a split level and it's really a short flight of carpeted stairs with a padded landing, that we've placed there for that reason, but it was scary and we know she's getting to the point where she might not be able to get up and downstairs herself. We might end up having her sleep downstairs. We'd probably go sleep with her, on the futon. Today she feels much better and is flying around, fence fighting, and jumping as well as she can these days. Old dogs are so precious and heartbreaking at the same time.

Yesterday I got my snowshoes out and ran around with the girls for a short time in the snow in the backyard. I could not get motivated to go running. I could get motivated to eat and drink beer though. Upslope Craft Lager has been the brew of choice this week. It's from Boulder. It's just different, lighter than what we normally drink.

This morning 9 degrees and sunny was enough to get my butt out the door. First I took Iris for a mile and a half run, then I got out and ran east again, this time I went toward the Environmental Learning Center and once I got on the Poudre Trail, I ran into several people from the running club. I didn't read the latest posts on the Facebook page, otherwise I would have known they were out there. So I ended up doubling back with them and ran about 5 miles accompanied by them, giving me over 9 miles by the time I got home. I got a total of 10.7 miles in today, and I actually felt good. There might be hope for me after all.

I was running with Sheila and Deb from the running club, and it was really nice to have the company. I do so many miles on my own. I tend to prefer to run alone much of the time, but I do enjoy running with other people when it works out.

I also found an area with new streets where they are building houses, with a gentle grade that might be perfect for tire pulling.

I'm considering running the Prairie Dog Half Marathon in Louisville again in January if the weather is decent, that killer race I ran last January. And I'm thinking about other ways to motivate myself, like a Grand Canyon run (rim to rim to rim) either late this spring or in the fall, if I can tolerate the trails enough. For some reason running with the tire appeals to me more than doing regular runs. I can't figure it out, my motivation isn't making any sense but I'll go with it.

I won't plan any ultra races for a while but I will get myself some good strength and vertical training and see what comes of it. I have no idea what this year will look like. I pitched the Donut run as an idea, now I just have to wait for them to build the Windsor Dunkin Donuts. I know Across the Years is going on right now but I don't feel like I miss it this time, there's just no desire to do it now.

I have my work cut out for me over the next month, I have two certifications I need to renew so I'll be doing some studying and getting back to work after the New Year. I need to keep the momentum going in my workouts so I feel human. I do feel better after I run, there is a reason I've done this for 31 years. But just like any new runner, lately I've had my ex- and why moments. I'm pretty sure they're temporary though. Maybe I can make them go away with enough ZZZZs.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fear The Queen

"Off with her head!"

I'm about ready to chop this thing off. I'm in week three and I still don't feel right. The coughing fits have now started in the morning, when I hack up whatever dripped down into my lungs overnight. I'm still going through boxes of tissues and probably getting dehydrated from blowing my nose. I know it's not the environmentally friendly way to do it, but I have never been a good snot rocket blower, so I don't even try. I'd get it on me for sure.

Today I tried running in the killer wind, it was blowing about 30 miles an hour with stronger gusts and a bitter wind chill. We only got a tailwind for about 100 meters of each lap. Killer crosswinds and then running into the wind was like running straight uphill. It was Tuesday track at noon and four of us showed up. I missed the last few weeks. All I wanted to do today was run longer for time than I have yet, and I did succeed. I ran a total of 42 minutes. Yesterday I ran a wimpy 2.6 miles in over 30 minutes. That's after running only a total of 5.6 miles in the prior two weeks.

So much for my plan to start up training after winter solstice. Looks like I might have to push it back to the first day of spring. I hope I feel better by January 1st!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Random Late Winter Thought Rants

Tomorrow at 4:03 pm it is solstice. I am so glad. I have decided to use it as my motivation to get my butt back in gear. I woke up this morning at 4:20, but fully able to breathe. I didn't wake up once with a coughing fit. First time in probably a week and a half.

Today is my dad's birthday, he's 73 and going strong. Some underlying health issues pop up to haunt him every so often, mostly just reminders when it's time to get that follow-up check, but he's been fortunate, and he does take good care of himself in general.

Life and death have been on my mind this week as I have been writing a bit about those topics and just read Atul Gawande's book Being Mortal. Good read, by the way. If people would accept death as a part of life and not fear it so damn much, they might take better care of themselves on this side of the grass. Then we might not have such crazy out of control health care costs. We won't even get started on the relationship of fear of death to religion. But I could get going on a soapbox on all of these...

A former patient and now friend passed away this past Wednesday after dealing with a type of cancer for several years. He was one of my favorites. He was a musician, and was always warm and friendly and had such good energy. I know he suffered a lot in private, all the years of treatment and the ups and downs from that were hard on him. I've come to know his wife well as we've spent many morning conversations stopped along the Power Trail while I was running and she was walking her dog. I had been thinking of them a couple of weeks ago and then I got sick, and then just found out he's gone. I am glad he no longer has to suffer a medical experiment, but it's really sad when people who are such gifts to humanity get removed from our presence prematurely.

My thoughts have not been on running so much, which is good, but I am starting to feel kind of stiff and rusty. My back has not 100% recovered from the massive sneeze attack from earlier this week. It's getting there though.

The donut run idea was received enthusiastically by a number of people in the running club, so it looks like my crazy idea might take off. We have to wait for Dunkin Donuts to open in Windsor, and that might not be until after my birthday. Maybe next year, but we'll see.

So what is it with the newest male fashion statement, the unkempt, long, thick scraggly beard? I'm sorry to any of my readers who have one, but I can't handle it. Maybe it's a reliving of childhood trauma when I lived back east and I used to see those Hasidic Jews in the cities, wearing those long beards and the crazy long sideburns, and their black hats. They always freaked me out as a small child.

But I think my beard aversion has more to do with the number of men I've observed dropping food in their beards and seemed to be unaware. I wonder how long things live in that rat's nest. And then when I see these guys who are runners and I think of all the sweat and gels and snot and all the other unsavory things that happen during an ultra...I just can't get past it.

"Lumbersexual" or Duck Dynasty, hipster fad or spare refrigerator, it's freaking me out and I'm already way over it. Can't we go back to something less obvious, like tattoos and nipple piercings? At least we get a break from looking at those in the winter.

Beards, beards, go away.
Store your food some other way.

This too shall pass. For now, my advice is, if you must, please Trim It.

And this concludes my sleep-deprived, pre-solstice rant. And yes, the title of this post says late winter. Spring starts January 1st.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Short Days Drive Me CRAZY!

Approaching solstice is the hardest time of the year for me. I love the way the light and shadows look this time of year, but the darkness seems to affect me and my motivation.

The past nearly two weeks I've been sick, I have the worst of it behind me, but my head is still full of snot and every so often it sounds like a herd of elephants took over the house, as I attempt to clear my sinuses. It wiped my energy out, too. The past two days I walked at a good pace for 30 minutes each day, and I'm hoping to get out and try running a couple of miles today. Monday I tried to run and I thought two miles would kill me.

Then Wednesday morning soon after I woke up, I was overtaken by a sudden, violent sneeze attack, and actually strained my low back muscles. I spent two days hobbling around in pain with ice stuffed in the back of my pants.

Every so often I get a pang of regret that I'm not going to certain runs this year, but it passes quickly. I think I'll be much better off getting back into it when the enthusiasm returns. I might get to explore some new races later in the year that I've always wanted to check out.

The other day I finished writing a book chapter for an upcoming book for nurses, it was fun to write it. I have this huge manuscript of my own material that I'm wading through and it felt good to get the one project out of the way so I can get back to my focus.

One thing I want to do is plan some fun urban adventure-themed runs this winter and spring, as I increase my mileage. For example, Dunkin Donuts in Fort Collins is exactly 13.1 miles from the soon-to open Dunkin Donuts location in Windsor Colorado. Seems like there could be a convenient long run course that involved donuts. Or possibly as a 52nd birthday run I could do a double out & back.

I think I need some exposure to the sun, and oxygen to my brain. It's all been impaired lately due to the short daylight hours and the condition of my sinuses.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Down With the Crud...

The past week I have been pretty much out of it. On Sunday afternoon after my run with Josh I started to feel a scratchy throat and was hoping it was allergies, but by bedtime it was becoming undeniable. Monday I spent most of the morning making a huge pot of green chile, and that was it for me. I went to bed after that. Tuesday I was completely worthless, worse than Monday.

Wednesday I could only manage a one mile walk with Iris, which was pushing it. Thursday I did 3 miles of walking with Iris, my best day yet. Friday I had no energy but my sinuses were draining and the cough wasn't quite as annoying. And today I had to get out for some obligations, which I did, but still no exercise. I feel wiped out. I will give it until Monday and then attempt to run at least a few steps.

It's not the flu, no fever and it is really all above my neck. I have an annoying cough more like a tickle in my throat, but it's not in my chest. I hope it doesn't go there. I don't want to be hacking up lung cookies for the next 3 weeks like everyone else seems to be doing. I usually get one cold or 24 hour puking episode every year and this was it for 2014.

The sad part is that it was a beautiful week, the weather was incredible, temperatures near 60. Iris got to work on her GPA, I really think she's gunning for an Ivy League scholarship. So many good nuggets to sniff now that geese are back!

I didn't get a lot of work done this week, either. My brain didn't want to do much work. I did catch up on some reading though. I finished Clifton Leaf's The Truth in Small Doses and Atul Gawande's Being Mortal. One more health policy-related book on the agenda before the end of the year and I will be looking for more. Gawande's book was excellent. Everyone who might ever die should read it.

I have a chapter due January 15th in the upcoming book Empowered Nurses, so I need to get my head clear and working again to finish it. Then I can finally move on to my big fat writing goal for 2015.

Friday I did also get a major project done, it took 7 hours. I had piles of miscellaneous papers, class notes, unread journals, paperwork from starting up my business, and garbage from stuff I've been reading and researching about cancer-related programs for the past 6 years. The stack was taller than me and spilling over onto the floor of the woman cave. So I decided to organize it by going through every single paper and journal to see what I could get rid of and what I could use.

Isabelle slept the whole time, through all the ruckus.

I stopped by Office Max and K-Mart Friday afternoon, yes we still have one of those relics in town, about a mile from my house. I bought about a dozen binders on sale and a 3-hole punch, then at K-Mart I found a cheap set of wooden pre-cut bookshelves that just needed to be screwed together and brought them home. Now I have a 5 foot tall shelving unit in the woman cave with a much less intimidating pile of stuff, divided up into categories. It feels so much better. I can't work surrounded by clutter.

I finally got my sense of taste back and decided to have a beer this afternoon. Fort Collins Brewery came up with a beer I like, 1020 Pale Ale. I always feel bad that we have a local brewery that I have never liked their beer, but I keep trying. It's hoppy and bitter and really good.

I really have nothing to add on the running front. Today is Desert Solstice 24 hour in Phoenix. I was on the fence about it ever since last spring and would have been there today if I didn't have such a frustrating summer of training. But I'm glad I didn't. If my motivation comes back, there's a good chance I will go there next year for a good track race. But we'll see what happens. I think my body has had it for a while.

I will be happy to run 3 miles on Monday at the rate I'm going.

Stay healthy, everyone.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Six

My friend Josh was in town visiting his kids and I found out about it just before I went to bed Saturday night. So we quickly arranged to meet at the Horsetooth trailhead at 8 Sunday morning. I was supposed to run the 6K Tortoise & Hare with the Running Club, but a trail run with Josh sounded like a lot more fun.

So I drove up past the reservoir this morning, and the parking lot was surprisingly empty. Guess it was too early for most people.

We ran Southridge, Audra Culver, hit the summit, down the Wathan, to Spring Creek and back. Nice 6 1/2 mile loop at an easy pace with some decent vertical. It was great to catch up, we haven't seen each other since he left last spring and moved to Colorado Springs.

Longs Peak was emerging from behind the clouds all lit up, it was hard to catch in a photograph but glowing in real life.

It's been years since I ran these trails but it all looked familiar once we started hitting the intersections and the landmarks I remember from my days of training for Leadville. I am so thrilled to be able to run trails. It doesn't hurt except for the really loose rocky stuff, but there wasn't much of that today. Remembering how to run on different surfaces and how things move under your feet, different sizes and shapes of rocks, pine needles on the trail, it's like riding a bike. You remember where to place your feet and how likely your feet are to slide out from under you on different objects.

We're supposed to have nice weather all this coming week. I got 44 miles in this past week, again about half on trails. Not tired, not wiped out at all. So nice to feel refreshed after my runs and have the energy to do other things.

We are so lucky to live here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tires and Trails

I'm having another consistent week of running. Nothing big, again, the longest run was 9 miles, but I managed to get out with the tire twice this week, and did some trail running.

I can't say for sure if I'm out of the woods yet, with the low motivation. I still struggle to get out each day, but I've been successful, even when I'm running by myself. Things are better. Except every time I see someone I know, they ask me, "Any races coming up?"

I need to come up with a good recreationally-themed run to keep it fun this winter. Something even crazier than the Walmart run.

Friday morning I had a block of time to get away and I went up to Coyote Ridge and ran over the ridge to the Blue Sky Trail, went north about a mile, then turned around. Good, technical, rocky sections. I did it. It took me two hours to run 9 miles, but I ran every step, even the gnarliest rocky ascents. That's real progress for my ankles.

Today I went to the Power Trail and stuck to the dirt sections, to make it feel different, even though scenery is the same. It was a gray and cloudy morning. I actually ran a decent pace today, even though I thought I'd be tired. I wasn't. Tomorrow is the Tortoise and Hare 6K with the running club, I guess that will be my "speedwork" for the week. I already went to the track once. I could live with this schedule.

I have three busy months ahead. My schedule is getting full, there's so much to do. I'll stick to my promise, no racing or long training runs. I need my brain to work...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Haute Hubris Hits the 'Hood

We certainly shoot for the moon around here in Fort Collins. Sometimes we go over the moon and miss our target.

What a week it's been in northern Colorado. The arrogance of power, profit, and politics, pomposity on steroids.

We've been so juiced up in the executive departments that we don't even know where we started, and we sure don't know how to stop.

This week alone, we've discovered:

1. CSU football coach Jim McElwain is leaving to coach University of Florida. (We suspected it all along despite the adamant public denial from everyone at CSU).
2. Tony Frank, president of CSU, saw his wet dreams come true, he got approval to build his on-campus stadium.

3. To keep up with the newbies across the street, University of Colorado Health is proposing to build yet another emergency department on Harmony Road, just down the street from the new emergency department going in at the new Banner Health facility that will open this spring. That's on top of the emergency room renovation at Poudre Valley Hospital.

The other night I was at an event with some people in the community who were familiar with the goings-on in the competing health systems in town. And they asked, "I see they're building a new emergency room. Why did it take so long to raise money to build the cancer center?"

Good question.

I don't think they'll be begging the community with emotional appeals to support them in this capital expenditure.

Why are we paying a football coach a huge sum of money- his original buyout was $7.5 million dollars, which I hear has been reduced, to the tune of $5 million. Couldn't they put that toward the multimillion dollar cost of the stadium? We know they won't put it toward academics.

Why do we have three emergency departments within 4 miles of each other in a city of 150,000, two of which belong to the same hospital system? Wasn't Obamacare supposed to reduce the need for emergency services because people would have health insurance and get preventive care so they didn't end up in the ER? (Hint: follow the money)

Meanwhile, this area is in desperate need of a mental health facility. Hello?

Ask executives at any of these institutions and they will issue the same platitudes and excuses. But these are both really unnecessary expenditures at a time when we ought to re-think our original purpose, and whether it truly benefits the community, or just a few. Those who are so hypersensitive to criticism might want to explain themselves to the public, who are asking good questions.

What are we doing in this country? Does this make any sense? Do we need another college football stadium and hospital emergency department? Haven't the costs of higher education and health care already gone over the moon?

Where are the grownups? These children who are too big for their business suits need a time-out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

GPS 2015: Enjoying Normal

It's goose poop season again, and again, Iris is working on her GPA: her goose poop average. She saw the geese were back for the winter in the schoolyard today, for the first time this year, and she was sniffing for vegetables in the grass...

The past two days I was successful in getting my butt out the door to run. Isabelle has been slacking for a while but the past two days she got her motivation back and walked. Her sister must have told her about the geese. Mmm...tasty treats.

Tuesday was the group track workout with the running club at noon, I got there early and ran a few miles to warm up and then dragged the tire on some dirt bike trails for a mile or so before going over to the track to meet the group.

While I was there I ran four 400s, not fast at all, but just for some leg turnover. I could barely crack 7 minute pace. But I wasn't doing it for speed. More like long strides. It was different to make myself work hard. At the end of each quarter I was done. Not ready for anything more intense than that.

Today I got my butt out for a little over 7 miles around noon. I have had such a hard time getting out in the morning. I start doing work things and get sidetracked and then by midday I have low motivation.

I am enjoying the shorter runs, though. It feels more refreshing, it doesn't wipe me out for the rest of the day. Instead of doing 20 miles, 7 or 8 is a nice start to the day. I think I'll be sticking to this average for a while, too. I am happy to keep a low GPA this winter. Unlike some people around here:


Sunday, November 30, 2014

One More Month of Winter...

One more month left of this year. Three weeks to solstice, and the days will be getting longer again. And only 4 1/2 weeks until spring.

I got 40 miles of running this week with about half of that on trails. It's been my most consistent week since early September, when I started tapering for North Coast.

This morning when I woke up it was 51 degrees outside, then the wind picked up before 8 am and by the time I arrived at the parking lot by the trail behind the stadium, it was 25 degrees. We had 30 mph winds last night and whatever blew in is now threatening to drop snow on us. It's not supposed to last long, though.

On Saturday I ran two times up and down the A trail behind the stadium, and this morning I ran up it again but then ran over the other side by Horsetooth reservoir. Felt pretty good both days.

I ran into a longtime running acquaintance on the trails yesterday. We talked for a few minutes. He asked me about my latest ultra endeavors and I told him about the end of my year and my uncertainty about the future, and he said, "You've had a hell of a running career."

He's right. I have. I don't know what will happen over the next several months or years, but I am not disappointed in where I am now. I have that awareness, nagging at me, that time is running out for certain goals to be met, but they aren't the most important things to me. I am happy with what I've been able to do and I know there are opportunities in the future if I want to pursue other running goals.

There's that fear that if I take a break now, will I still be able to come back to the level where I was? I can't worry about that. I know that these days the only thing that is motivating me to get off my butt is to go up to the trails. I can't seem to get myself to look at the Power Trail or bike paths at all.

I have a busy week ahead of me, a lot of business-related matters, all of which I am very much looking forward to. I didn't have any idea that I'd be doing the things I am doing when I started this a year ago, it's nice to have the freedom to make tweaks and adjustments as needed, as opportunities present themselves. That's the great thing about being in business for yourself, there is no bureaucratic wet cement to wade through.

I was just talking with someone else I know who is on the verge of breaking free from her toxic health care job, and pursuing the dream she has. We're doing a small project together this winter. I feel for her, it's no fun being in the place where she is now, but once she makes the leap, she won't look back. Leaving those boneheaded dinosaurs behind will be the best thing she ever did.

Tomorrow is Monday, and I'm looking forward to going to work in the morning!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Beating The Black Friday Blues

If anyone asks me what I did on Black Friday, I will tell them I did all the things I'd prefer to do over shopping with crowds.

I ran in the foothills dragging a tire behind me, and I picked up dog poop in the yard, including some warm fresh ones that Isabelle contributed while I was in the process of picking up the other piles, trying to stay ahead of it before the next snowstorm hits.

I'd rather do those things any day than camp out in front of an electronic gadget store all night with a bunch of other crazed people carrying baseball bats, ready to draw blood in competition for the last iPhone 6, or whatever.

It was a cool morning in the foothills, I ran on the trails around Dixon Reservoir, and saw a lot of other runners and hikers out, an unusual amount of people for a Friday, but it is the holiday weekend, and maybe last night's gluttony convinced them that they should do something physical.

We went over to our friends Melissa and Austin's house again, all of Melissa's family was in, mostly from the East Coast, and it was a low-key and relaxing evening with great food. They had some technical issues with their oven and stove not working so Melissa and I devised creative ways to finish cooking the green bean casserole and potatoes. They live on the north end of town, so we got to see this sunset looking east toward the Budweiser plant, that's the picture at the beginning of this post.

Yesterday I went out for about an hour run and it was torture every step of the way. I went out the Power Trail and I thought I would pop my eyeballs out from the mental strain of feeling like it would never end. I just cannot get myself to run the bike paths and streets right now.

Then this morning I went to the foothills trails and I was fine, almost. I did have a slight problem with the time out there, it did seem like forever in the middle of the run, but at the end it was okay and I didn't mind getting the tire out and doing an extra mile and a quarter with it on the hill.

And I kept stopping to take pictures of the leaves in the water and under the ice at the reservoir. I'm hoping I can motivate myself to run both days this weekend. Early this week I managed to run on Monday but couldn't get motivated on Tuesday or Wednesday at all.

I wish I knew what the magic formula is right now to keep me going. I don't like to drive anywhere to run if I can avoid it. But I have exhausted all my usual running places here on the east side of town, it's all sidewalks, streets, and bike paths in every direction, with a few short exceptions. Looks like I'll have to start doing some driving to get myself excited to run anywhere for a while.

I just cracked open a VERY cold Odell Isolation Ale. And there's a VERY warm hot tub waiting for me.

Cheers. To Black Friday...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Catching Creepers

Give me back my night!

I've been meaning to blog about this but haven't gotten to it yet. The entire female portion of the Fort Collins running, cycling and active community has been terrorized for the past couple of months by this creep who assaulted 7 different women this fall. The Sheriff's department just yesterday announced they have made an arrest.

I hope they've got the right guy, that's not a guarantee, given the past local history of wrongful imprisonment. But if this is the guy, and I hope so, many people would like to see him strung up by his balls. Lately a lot of active women in town have been imprisoned indoors thanks to this asshole.

I love to run at night, and I usually don't let fear stop me, but for some reason this time it did. I've been having a hard time motivating myself and I really did want to run at night over the past few weeks, and even though the incidents were far from where I live and run, I just didn't feel okay about it.

It was a gut feeling. And I still don't feel too safe, I don't know why, because I always worry about copycat creepers, there have been some Peeping Toms in our neighborhood, and with another house nearby that seems to have some drug activity going on, I haven't been feeling too good about being out there by myself. The price of growth. Fort Collins is becoming more like a city.

There are enough creepers everywhere, even in daylight. I don't put up with street harassment, as I've written about in the past. The older I get, the less tolerant I get, I am of the mindset that I've endured this crap my entire life and I'm tired of it and you would think that people would have evolved by now. But it goes on. Now I just call their employer. And if I end up having to converse with them, I ask them what they would do if some asshole talked to their mother or sister or daughter or wife like that. And I can say it in two languages.

It was refreshing, though disturbing and chilling to see that one video that circulated recently on social media, the one on street harassment throughout an entire day on city streets. No, they haven't evolved.

Just this past week I encountered creepy roofers. Twice. One group of them on a church roof, and another in the neighborhood where I run regularly. The Mormon Church is having their giant roof replaced and you would think with all those kids around there on their missions, the one with their name tags designating them as "Elder" or "Sister", the church would be more careful about allowing them to be up there on the roof leering at the women. But then women haven't exactly been a priority there unless they're making babies.

Yesterday I finally got a spark of motivation, a wild hair or something, but I got out for 90 minutes of running. It was only because I had to take my car in to get the brakes worked on, so I ran home from the car dealer and then ran back to pick it up later. And both ways I have to go by the Mormon church and through this one neighborhood. I was running down one of the streets and there were a bunch of guys on the roof of this one house, and they abruptly stopped what they were doing and looked down at me. Stopped what they were doing, stood there staring, and one called out, "Hi."

Dumb creeps, on a roof. Sorry dude but I'm not rescuing you if you fall. Oops, my trauma nurse certification expired. Don't know what to do. Oops sorry forgot my phone, can't call 911. Too bad you'll have to bleed to death from your crushed skull. But that's okay, shouldn't affect your brain. Their company's liability insurer could hit the jackpot there.

I decided that if when I ran back they said anything else, I'd be giving their boss a call. But they were too wrapped up in their work when I ran back, so I spared them my wrath. Shouldn't have, but did anyway.

While I was at the car dealership dropping off my vehicle I ran into one of the doctors I used to work closely with at the hospital. We talked for a while, he couldn't believe it's been a year since I left. I think the last time I saw him was right around the time I left the hospital. He told me he's over it, ready to get out and move on, health care is so screwed up. Physicians are so frustrated. It's sad, all the focus on big data and the factory model of health care is ruining it for everyone who went into it because they wanted to give good patient care.

Lately things have been interesting with business matters, I'm moving forward on a project I am pushing in various directions at once. I'm learning so much about different aspects of business and marketing, and I have two attorneys now. I'm collecting them. So far I have a contract attorney and a patent/trademark attorney.

Soon I'll have more attorneys than toenails.

All the toenails that were going to fall off after my last race have now come off. I have seven toenails left, giving some the benefit of the doubt. Actually two of them don't really count as toenails, they are more like little cuticles, so that's five toenails.

And I narrowly avoided a panic attack at the grocery store today. I got all the stuff for my Thanksgiving fruit salad, braving Whole Foods and the parking lot from hell, and got out of there before insanity took hold. I will not be entering a grocery store again until Friday, when everyone is busy lining up and assaulting each other outside the big box stores.

Black Friday is a great day for running. Can't wait.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gut Feelings and Decisions

I have hit a point of burnout and I need a break from racing. So I will do that and put my energy into adventure type runs as I go into this coming year.

I'm not talking commercially-run adventure races that are so popular. I mean my own personal homegrown low-key on a whim exploration adventures. At the current moment no races appeal to me. I can't even get myself to sign up for the Pemberton 50K.

I am lucky right now to get myself to do a daily workout at all. I have been more consistent the past two weeks, I am doing something each day, but I have been struggling mentally with it. Each day it becomes a challenge to get my butt out the door, even for an hour. And if I don't get out the door, it's a challenge to get my butt on the bike. And I can't even fathom going over to the pool.

Yesterday I received an email from Pearl Izumi reminding me and all the others on the promotional team that they are taking applications for next year. I have made an executive decision not to apply for 2015. I really don't want to feel obligated to attend races or events this coming year. And I am ready for a break. I just want to run when and where I want to run, without feeling like I have to represent something. It was fun and I love their products, but it doesn't make sense for me to do something when my heart isn't in it, so I will relinquish that and let someone else have the opportunity. I need a physical and mental break from all of it.

My heart right now is in developing my business further and in writing. I haven't been doing very frequent blogposts because I've been putting a substantial amount of energy into a separate writing project. I suppose that's where my energy from running has gone. It's okay.

This blog is approaching a quarter million pageviews, while I know there are always a good number of those that are fake spambot-type hits, the readership has gone up exponentially over the last year. I find it interesting that I get so many readers from health care as I do running. I know there is a need for expression of the frustrations of health care workers and since they can't express it freely in their own workplaces due to the inability to trust others, and the suppression of free speech in the workplace, they look to other outlets. There's a lot to say, worthy of a big fat manuscript.

Reading social media comments makes it obvious that it's a widespread phenomenon. The sociopaths of the world who buy politicians and shape the political landscape to their advantage don't care if they are exposed, because sociopaths have no conscience.

But there are plenty of warped, fundamentally insecure individuals who reside in the organizations that benefit from these conditions that are fertile for exploitation. With their sick, twisted motives to protect their self-interest, for power, status, money, or sadistic thrills, they thrive at the expense of a lot of wounded human beings who thought they were getting into it to care for others.

And our numbing apathy or apathetic numbing enables it. Good health is important, but we don't value it nearly enough until we get sick. When you enter the health care system, whether against your best intentions as a patient or as a health care worker who needs a paycheck, the lights go on. The true sickness of our health care system is exposed. But much of the general public doesn't see this until it's too late.

I want to chip away at the conscience of people who are already feeling the effects, and I don't have any illusions of changing the world or health care. What I do hope to do is make a few people more aware and remind them, again, as others have, that we are not doing ourselves any favors by sitting back and allowing the country to slip deeper into the oligarchy we have. And from there, to move into action.

Even if it's only a few who take action, it chips away at the outer shell. Eventually if you chip away enough, the core gets exposed and the guts fall out. Health care needs a good exenteration.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Happy Re-Birthday: A Year Out of the Dungeon

It's been one year since I left my corporate nursing job.

Just one year. Seems impossible that the time could go by so quickly, and so much could happen. But it seems like forever, really, like a distant nightmare. I was reading over some of what I wrote last year, and I am happy to say that I'm able to look at it without the emotion engulfing me. I've done a lot of healing in that time.

At first I missed the patients and some of my coworkers. But I've stayed in touch with the coworkers that mattered, and have more meaningful relationships with several. I've run into many of my former patients in town, and continue to work with a few of them, but in different ways now.

The work I do is so much more satisfying, I don't miss sticking needles in people or filling their veins with poison one bit. And I certainly don't miss punching a time clock so I could get a steady paycheck but feeling like I would have to sell my soul in order to keep getting one.

I have learned so much more since I left because I have more energy to read and research information on what's going on in cancer care far beyond the confines of a dingy little windowless cave subjected to the whims of toxic people who made decisions without considering the people they would affect most or asking for input from the nurses who worked with those people every day.

There are thousands upon thousands of nurses out there who have left what they felt were oppressive conditions in the workplace and moved on to something else. And I am just one.

Before I left corporate nursing I was surrounded by other nurses who were afraid. Some of them did not-so-nice things to each other, and to me. I no longer take it personally. Now my true colleagues are nurses who are not stuck in the system. They are not afraid. They have found a way out, and many of them have suffered great pain and loss to get to where they are now. Much worse than I did. They are a diverse group, some are employed in the profession, many are self-employed, many are out completely.

There is a common thread among most of these nurses, they love nursing and they would like the profession to change for the better, but there is a long climb ahead and it seems we lose ground on most days. Occasionally there is a bright moment, but then we fall back into the void. 

There is a definite hum that's picking up in intensity, the misplaced blame on nurses in the Ebola situation fueled it, but that's only a glimpse of the problems. Nurses have HAD IT.

I've been listening to and talking with a lot of nurses over the past year, all over the country, and in other countries too. I've been thinking about ways to fix things, ways to improve things, and most of the work I've done has focused on individual people, which is good on my own, but always knowing that in the big picture of health care, most of the work nurses are doing in those workplaces is like building sandcastles at low tide.

And when the tide comes in, it's more of a rip current, a crashing of water with overwhelming force, an undercurrent that knocks you off your feet and threatens to drown your breath and silence your voice forever.

And the damage it does comes from all of the following forces and more...

1. A two-tiered system where managers, administrators and executives answer to money and quantitative data (numbers that are now called "metrics") that have everything to do with what they like to call "quality" but really mean more busywork for the people who are supposed to be doing patient care, but that data really translates to "reimbursement" aka money. Meanwhile the other tier, nurses, physicians and other health care staff, take seriously their professional oaths and training to not do harm, and the two tiers have little mutual understanding of each others' obligations to their own callings (money/boards/shareholders/stockholders vs. moral and ethical obligations to patients, oaths and licensure), each speaking it's own language not fully understood by or ever truly communicated with the other tier.

2. Lack of leadership in the highest ranks of nursing organizations, which consist of leaders from industry and higher education who protect their own turf which goes against the best interest of working nurses.

3. A great amount of fear among workers that has been exacerbated by the past three decades of eroding workplace protections, a mainstream media that fosters unrestrained hate and divisiveness and fosters paranoia and misinformation, ignoring facts in favor of hype. Attacks on free speech (in the craze over the second amendment, seems we've forgotten the first) and organized labor, and legislation that favors the big corporate money interests, giving them the rights of individuals.

4. A system on steroids that intensifies the poor people skills and lack of empathy held by a great number of those who advance to administrative positions and executive power, leaving the staff at the bedside populated by people who care about patients' best interests but without a voice or support to help them.

5.Lack of advocacy or assertiveness by nurses for their own interests in their workplaces in the face of strongarm tactics used to intimidate and dismiss their concerns.

6. Eroding job security as employers look to part-time hiring, reducing staff, decreasing benefits, and electronic spying on employees both in and out of the workplace.

7. Increasing burnout due to the task-oriented nature of nursing work and increased demands to do more with less staff, working equipment, support, training, at the same time being faced with expectations to increase the amount of documentation time and checklists, taking away clinical judgment opportunities and interpersonal connection in patient care duties.

8. A work culture that values "yes-men and women" more than clinical skill or attention to safety, that provides disincentives to speak, disagree, or otherwise question the status quo, motives, or actions of "leadership".

9. A capitalistic system run amok where the distribution of wealth becomes more skewed all the time with no brakes to stop it.

10. A legal system run amok with power that works in favor of the wealthy white collar criminals who can afford to buy their own teams of attorneys, and can buy lobbyists to buy politicians who will work even more in their favor, with no brakes to stop it.

11. A health care system that enriches the top-end insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies, but makes no investment in the base of the pyramid: health education in schools to teach children how to manage their health from an early age, universal basic health education for people at all stages of their lives with and without disease, teaching chronically OR terminally ill people about palliative care, the options not to treat some illnesses, death education so it is accepted as part of life and not so feared and avoided at all costs.

12. A public health system that has been underfunded to the point of endangering public health by promoting misinformation and being embarrassingly unprepared for a crisis.

13. A for-profit so-called health care system (even though some of it calls itself not-for-profit but it is still working for profit) that results in competition to a degree that hurts patients' best interests by withholding information about options and resources available to them outside of an organization's domain. Health care is not at all about health, and it is not about caring. It is about making money off of chronic illness, of various types and trajectories.

14. The collective personality-disordered nature of "leadership": with it's insecure, narcissistic, sociopathic bent that has no empathy for patients or their families true needs, or the needs of direct patient care workers. This distorted method of leadership pursues matters in the interest of building their egos, power, status, bonuses, perks, and the ultimate perk of all, the insurance policy of guaranteed future personal economic security via outrageous sums of money upon leaving an organization regardless of the reason.

There's a lot to say, and I'm not done saying it. Just getting warmed up.

I'm not dead yet, and I won't be done until I'm dead. I don't know how long I'll live, but if I died today, I'd be okay with it.

Because at least I will know I tried, I spoke from my heart, I called out what I saw, and I felt the passion and the horror, witnessed the suffering and the relief, and I know I lived true to myself and my own principles.

And unlike those narcissistic shadows holding nooses around the necks of hardworking direct patient care nurses, I didn't look the other way knowing what I was doing, despite what I claimed and hid behind, was really not about caring for people but instead lining my own pockets and enriching myself at the expense of other people's well-being.

There are at least three differences now.

One is that I can say these things calmly, without the raging anger that I felt a year ago.

Two, I am on the lookout for solutions, and I know I am not alone, as I felt a year ago.

Three, I am pursuing my passion, and I have no one holding me back, I have lost the shadow and the noose of a year ago. 

Every day I wish the same for my fellow nurses who are feeling alone, stuck, and fearful in those oppressive environments. I hope they find their way out of the dungeon, because they already have the key, they just have to turn it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fourteen Degree News: Badwater Returns

Today I actually got my butt out the door before 9 am. I went out, it was 14 degrees, but I ran a full hour, followed by a mile with the tire.

Then I got into the warm woman cave and when I checked my email, this statement came in a message from Adventure Corps:

"I am pleased to announce that the 2015 Badwater 135 will be held July 28-30 on the traditional route from Badwater to Mt. Whitney. The race will have a three-wave start in the evening, but will otherwise be held essentially identically to previous Badwater 135 races. As was the case in 2014, 100 runners will be accepted to compete and each entrant will be limited to just one support vehicle and a maximum of four crew members. We are excited to return to Death Valley! Applications will be accepted January 19 to February 2 ONLY and additional details are on the race website. We hope you will join us for one or more BADWATER® events in 2015!"

Not sure what happened in negotiations, but it's back. The evening start is different, but should change strategy for many runners and their crews. It's hot at night in the bottom of the valley, so the heat will be a factor and getting to the far end by Stovepipe Wells won't happen until morning, which will make the climb up Towne Pass and the Panamint Valley sections challenging in the heat of the day.

Not sure if I'll be out there next year, we'll see what happens, but I'm really glad to hear that they were able to bring the race back to Death Valley. Looks like the course from last year will be changed to a 100 miler and held in the fall of 2016. That's something I might consider running myself. We'll see what happens over the next year or two.

Right now I'm working on getting my butt out the door each day, that's enough of a challenge.

Anyway, I am happy for Chris that he was able to get the race back into the valley and I hope all goes well from here on with the Park Service.

Nothing better than thoughts of Death Valley on a 14 degree day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Readin, Rite-in, Runnin

It's been ridiculously cold the past few days and I'm looking forward to it warming up. I managed to keep my running and motivation streak alive through the cold snap. Just one day indoors on the bike, other than that it was an hour a day of running. 

I'm finally getting around to doing some reading I've been wanting to do, some books on health care policy that are really not bad, and another one sort of for fun that is more of a psychology book. No this is not recreational reading, it all has a purpose, feeding my thoughts on health care for the writing I'm doing. 

Just like with running, every so often I hit the wall mentally with writing, the past two days it's almost like my brain circuits froze up and everything that's coming out if garbage. But give it a few days to recharge and I'll be back at it.

I cooked lentil soup with kale the other day that was really good, and today I made a sweet potato black bean stew with shredded pork that is decadent but awesome. I've been into the comfort food cooking. It's too cold for salads right now. 

Iris doesn't seem to mind the cold, I trimmed the hair between the pads on her paws so she wouldn't get ice balls when we walk. Isabelle doesn't want to go out to walk, but she's happy to lie down in the snow in the backyard, even on the coldest days. 

The motivation is better, even though it's still a struggle every day to get out there. I figure I'll go through the motion until I find the autopilot button again. Probably buried underneath a few extra pounds of comfort food.