Scatter my ashes here...

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Colder Than...

The proverbial witch's tit.

I woke up to yet another freezing spring's been a cold one this year!

Next week I go to Arizona, which I'm hoping will continue it's high 70-low 80 degree trend. I'm ready for some warmth.

This morning I didn't even bother to go out except to take a few photographs and put out the trash cans. I waited until 1 pm to start my running.

I did 10 miles but had to come back to the house once to rearrange my clothing layers, I was too hot in some places and too cold in others. I think it got up to about 16 degrees around 2 pm. I froze.

Isabelle refused to go outside for a walk. Iris only went 2 miles and she was done.

The front garden and backyard were worth going out to freeze for a while.
Blue Spruce in the front yard.

Bricks and basil in the garden.

Frost on cottonwood trees.

Frozen blue flax.

The front flower garden.

Ice crystals on blue flax.

I liked this one of the bricks piled up next to the hot tub.

Our street was clear again without ice dams before this latest snowstorm on Monday. Everything looks peaceful now, but tomorrow it's supposed to be in the 50s again, with Chinook winds. Of course, on my hill day, so I can freeze my ass off up at Horsetooth!

The morning commute to the woman cave was busy with the snow on the roads. The plows came through sometime yesterday.

The girls always beat me to the front door.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Back From The Whirlwind!

I don't remember the last time I took a whole week away from blogging. This week was a whirlwind and I was so busy, I just didn't have time to sit down to write a blogpost. But it's been a good busy whirlwind!

I survived last weekend's Prairie Dog Torture Fest, but I was exhausted until the middle of the week. I didn't even run until Wednesday and then only about 6 miles. I needed a ton of sleep and my legs hurt.

I think I was just tired and a little stressed from trying to finish up preparing for my health coach exam, and my body is still not sure what it's doing when it comes to training.

On Tuesday morning I went over to the local community college to take my health coach exam in a proctored setting. It's for the ACE certification, American Council on Exercise, which is one of just a few reputable organizations out there. I heard there was a very low pass rate for this exam.

It was 150 questions and I had 3 hours to do it, and I used up a good portion of that time! It was tough, but I passed and I was so relieved. I have taken a lot of these computer based tests over the past 8 years, the NCLEX to get my nursing license, two nursing certifications in Critical Care and Oncology, and the ACE exam, so far. I don't like those tests, I have a hard time sitting still for that long.

It's expensive to keep up these certifications with all the continuing education you have to do, but I like it, it keeps me current because there's always new research, especially in cancer, you can hardly keep up with it from day to day!

I have one more to take when I'm done studying for my certification as a Cancer Exercise Trainer. That's through ACSM, American College of Sports Medicine, and it's been a good 25 years since I was in school studying exercise physiology and ten years since I was a personal trainer, so I have a bit of catching up to do.

Of course a celebration was in order. I am limiting myself to one beer a week. It's working. I am now down to 122 pounds, that's 10 pounds of nursing and stress fat that I have lost so far. Another 5 and I'll be happy. But the beer deserves a mention, because in my beer taper, I was craving an Isolation Ale, and when I went to the liquor store, they were out! It's a seasonal beer and it won't come back until next winter. Bummer.

I decided to give this spring beer from New Belgium a shot. Spring Blonde, it's called. It was good. It's more like a lager but has a citrusy flavor too. It would be a good beer to drink on a hot day. Unfortunately hot days are few and far between, as we got another cold snap with snow and ice at mid-week. Just in time for a visit from Florida. Hung, a runner from Orlando, whom I know from Badwater and North Coast, was coming to visit.

Hung and I ran together a bit all day and through the middle of the night last year in the howling wind and cold along Lake Erie, and he contacted me to tell me he was coming to Colorado. I offered to show him around Fort Collins, he was visiting friends in Longmont, Denver, and Greeley too, with the idea of moving to Colorado at least temporarily. He wanted to check out the area.

It wasn't exactly an ideal day for running. We ended up going out for lunch and I showed him around town, and then we drove up to Horsetooth Reservoir so he could see where the trails were, 9 degrees with who knows what kind of wind chill was a bit much for a Floridian!

I also attended a fascinating and entertaining lecture at the university by one of the Veterinary Oncologists there, about where we are with animal research and how it is applied to benefit humans. After the lecture I stuck around for the reception and talked to about a dozen people I've known through my time at the hospital, colleagues, patients, and people in the community, it was nice to see all of them.

Funny, none of my former coworkers or bosses were there. They must be too exhausted from dealing with all the B.S. to have time to attend an event that's relevant to what they are supposed to be doing.

I had a bit more energy by late in the week but couldn't motivate myself to do any real hill or speed-like workouts. And here it is Sunday.

I was originally going to run the Frost Giant 5K today up in Estes Park, but I felt like an easy 20 miler might be better for my body. I think I made a wise choice.

I've run a few times now with Emma and when we ran together on Friday she told me that a group was meeting up at Redstone Canyon on Sunday morning. That sounded perfect for me, Redstone Canyon is only a 13 mile out and back, but I could add on by running in several directions.

I felt good on the run. I wasn't pushing the pace, but I could definitely feel a difference both uphill and downhill, I am carrying less weight. I ended up running twenty miles about a minute per mile faster than my last flat twenty miler about a month ago.

Redstone Canyon is southwest of Fort Collins. It's about a 13 mile out and back up this county road that passes through some beautiful scenery: rocks, cliffs, desert-like vegetation along with juniper, ponderosa pines, and cottonwoods along the creeks. It also gives close-up views of the west side of Horsetooth Rock.
I rarely run there anymore. I used to run Redstone Canyon all the time, before we moved to Arizona. I forgot what a challenging run it is. It's just not very long.

I got up there early so I could get a few of my extra miles in. I first ran up to the Horsetooth Mountain Park trailhead, which is on the road and climbs a good steady hill. I headed back down when I got a text from Emma that she was on her way with the others. When I got back to my car there was a large group of people assembled at the road, from Emma's group.

I hung back with Emma and a couple of other women and took a lot of pictures until they turned around. I got up to the end of the county road where there is a gate that blocks you from proceeding along the road, and started heading back down. I was surprised to be moving as fast as I was. I felt good, but I ran out of water on the way down.

I got back to the bottom of the road, got more water out of my car, drank a little, and took off back up the Redstone Canyon road to finish my last 3 or so miles to get 20. I probably got about 900 or 1000 feet of vertical in each direction, so while it wasn't a lot of climbing, there are some pretty good hills in there.

It took me three hours and 20 minutes, and my last 20 miler took about 20 minutes longer. I feel like I'm making progress.

I have two weeks until the Pemberton 50K. I haven't been doing a lot of miles or long runs, certainly don't have anything resembling leg speed, but last year I ran it in just over 5 hours. I was doing a lot more miles at the time, but I did weigh a bit more. I'm curious to see what happens this year.
Oh yeah, how silly of me, almost forgot to mention, the Broncos are going to the Superbowl. The girls are excited.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beaten by a Prairie Dog

OMG. I barely survived a 13.1-ish mile run this morning up and down the hills of suburban Louisville...the Prairie Dog Half Marathon.

All I know is that it hurt, I suffered, I finished, and I'm glad it's over. Wow, I didn't think I could hurt so much in just 13.1 miles but I did. Final time 1:53:56 on my watch. Chip time might be a little faster. Might be.
I woke up too early this morning, I couldn't sleep well because I knew I had to get up. I had my coffee, some oatmeal and yogurt. It was cold and clear, with just a hint of breeze outside.

I always overestimate how long it will take me to get to the Denver area. I drove down to Louisville and got there too early, I could have used the extra half hour of sleep. But I picked up my packet and hit the portapotties before the crowds. I saw Joanne and her husband Hunter, we talked some before we lined up for the start.
There I am, in my blissful ignorance before the race. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.

I ran into my Fort Collins expatriate running buddy Eddie Metro, now living in Boulder, shortly before the start. As I said to him, I have no idea what to expect, I'm lost on how to pace myself at anything shorter than 50 miles...

And I got that part right. I took off fairly far back in the pack, at a comfortable but brisk pace. I haven't tried running any road races longer than 5K in forever, so when I reached the one mile mark in 7:40 I was little surprised. It didn't feel that fast and I was able to talk.

I hit 2 miles in 15:30 and 3 miles in 23:23. I felt good, realizing that it was already faster than the last 5K I did. Seven pounds lighter could account for that.


The next mile was gradually uphill, and then miles 5 and 6 were UP. Up, up, up...on a dirt path...switchbacks, curves, on and off of sidewalks, bike paths, streets...and my legs were tired. Still tired from being re-introduced to real training.

It was sooooo hilly...then we had to do the torture loop from hell. There was a flat one mile or so loop at the top of the plateau, before we started to head back down around 9 miles. But the downhill part was never consistent like the uphill part was. I am good on the downhills and I was able to make up a little. I was wearing my soft, comfortable Pearl Izumi H3s, and they feel good when I'm running fast, even on the downhills.

I reached 11 miles in 1:31 and was excited, thinking my time might not be too bad. But then I heard some runners talking about how the mile markers were all off and that the mile marks were all short on their Garmins. Oh, poop. Damn road racers, know it alls, so anal. I bet they're the same ones who put the 13.1 stickers on their cars. I've got you pegged.

Just kidding, all probably kicked my ass today.

We went downhill, under a tunnel, and then made a 180, which made us run UPHILL and INTO THE WIND for the last mile and a half. There went my time fantasy...

Around 12 and a half miles Eddie was waiting for me, snapping pictures with his camera. He ran about a quarter mile with me as I approached the final mile marker. He took off ahead, telling me to smile when I cross the finish line...all I could do was gasp, "Do you know CPR?"

I had NOTHING left in my legs when I hit that finish line. My legs were toast. I could barely stand while Eddie helped me take off my timing chip. It was a strange feeling because aerobically I could have pushed harder, I was never struggling with the breathing. My exhausted legs were holding me back. The prairie dog kicked my butt, and legs, basically, everything below my hips. But Eddie won his age group. Way to go!

Eddie and I after the finish. He was almost propping me credit: some nice dude snapping Eddie Metro's camera

It's all good though...I got a good, hard, challenging, hilly 13 mile run in, give or take a few, depending on what the course length actually was. I pushed it for nearly two hours. And other than my legs burning and screaming, I felt pretty comfortable at about an 8 to 8 1/2 minute per mile pace, and I didn't do too badly on the hills.

Gotta start somewhere. Even if it is with a solid ass-kicking. Oh yeah, and I didn't even place in my age group. Not even close...that's okay too...I'm about ready to step up to sub-geezerdom.

Fifty more days to the big day!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Glorious Spring Days...

In January, they start like this, with a moonset in the wind.

This was my rest day. I spent most of the morning in the woman cave studying for some upcoming exams. Then I went for a walk, by myself, since Dennis took the girls to Starbucks earlier during their usual weekend morning walk.

I went around the lake north of us, it was breezy but the temperatures were warm enough in the sun that it was pleasant. Felt very much like spring. The ice is melting in some of the lakes in town, but this one is still frozen. I found a place under the trees but in the sunshine, and I sat for a half hour, soaking up rays and listening to the wind, feeling the sun and that's all the peace I needed.

Then I went home and made some outrageously good chicken green chile with the last package of frozen Big Jim peppers from last fall. Sad to say good-bye to the good stuff until late next summer. I'm still being careful about what I eat so I didn't have any tortillas with it.

I am really hoping to lose all the weight I want to before my birthday. It's just another 8 pounds. I've been carrying it around for way too long. It would be nice to start at 50 with a new body, too. My birthday gift to myself.

My legs are tired. My quads ache from the trip up and down Horsetooth the other day. But tomorrow I am running a half-marathon in Louisville, the Prairie Dog Half Marathon. My friend Joanne is also running it. This will be one of my last races in the top of my age group, too. It's all on city streets but it looks like it passes through some parks or greenbelts in the area.

I have no idea how fast I can run a half marathon and I don't even want to predict. It will be my first long sustained hard run in a while, since last spring! I guess we'll find out, it's a moment of truth run. Let's just say my expectations are not very high for this one!

I should go to bed, I have to actually set the alarm to wake up tomorrow. It's something I haven't done in soooo long. I like it this way.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rock Repeats Again: Don't Eat Yellow Snow!

This morning I woke up at 4:45. I have no idea why. I was having weird dreams again, seems like I remember bits of more work nightmares. Sometimes I wonder if the whole experience of nursing doesn't give you PTSD to some degree.
Since I was up, and it was hill day, I decided to take advantage of the timing to get out before sunrise and take some pictures.
I drove up to Horsetooth Mountain trailhead and watched the sunrise from different turnouts along the road, until I got to the park and then took a ton of pictures on the first two switchbacks of the Southridge Trail, where I do my Rock Repeats.
Today the agenda was just one time up and down. I'll build up to more later, but after being so sore last week, and this being my low mileage week, I thought I'd better hold back.

The trail was incredibly icy in places- all the flatter, easy sections were a slick sheet of ice. The steep parts were dry. Once I got to the top, I had to turn around, and going down was worse. I was trying to keep myself from biting the big one, as I slid down the short little pitches, I passed this pile of snow. Literally trying not to eat yellow snow!
I should have brought the MICROspikes! I didn't even think of it, because I've never seen the trail so icy. Then it occurred to me that this time of year I am usually not up there, I'm usually recovering from Across the Years and my Rock Repeats don't generally start until February or March.
I made it to the bottom without too many near-wipeouts, and drove home. The wind was picking up again and it was colder than when I started.

I got on the scale, bravely, this morning. I was really afraid to. I was afraid I would see no, or very little, progress. But I lost 7 pounds so far! I am down to 125 pounds from 132 at New Years. I still have a bit more to lose. I'm only about halfway there.

Tonight is my first opportunity to "cheat". I will allow myself to do that once a week. That includes a beer or a margarita, and a meal where I can have whatever I want to eat. But then it's back to business the next day. It's funny, I haven't been missing anything food-wise, but I have been missing beer. I don't know why but a very cold, almost frozen, Isolation Ale sounds so good. And tonight I can have one.

Funny that the past two days there have been articles in our local paper about drinking in Fort Collins. Stephen Meyers followed up today on the news from yesterday with this. He quoted me at the end, too. Of course we're youthful in attitude. Only a Fort Collins ultrarunner would plan a 50 mile run that ends up at a brewery for their 50th birthday.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fort Collins in January: Thoughts on Running, Eating, and Drinking

Geese, ice, and wind. That's what you'll find in Fort Collins this time of year.

I love running in January. Yesterday it was super cold and windy, in the morning it snowed and then stopped. It was warm enough that the snow melted off the streets and didn't affect the footing. The trail was dry, no mud sticking to my shoes.

Today the paper had an article that said Fort Collins is ranked as number 4 in the heaviest drinking cities in the U.S. It ranks up there with several other university towns or places that are mostly in the northern or midwest part of the U.S., with long, cold winters. with all our breweries and a university it's not surprising. But Fort Collins is also known for it's active outdoor lifestyle. It would be interesting to compare the most popular activities of the other towns listed.

Speaking of drinking, I have not had a single sip of beer or any alcohol in two weeks. I've been able to make it for fourteen days so far on this strict eating plan to get myself back on track with healthy eating, and that means no sugars, no alcohol, I haven't had any grains except oatmeal, fruit, or any carbohydrates other than from vegetables. I've been eating lean protein and veggies, with some yogurt and cottage cheese, is about it.

After this I am going to slowly add variety back to what I'm eating, but watch my portion sizes and stick mostly to what I've been doing, going back to the salads and fish and vegetable-dominated meals that I used to eat before I got stressed. what I find so amazing is that I've had a relatively easy time of it, I haven't been hungry, and I've had lots of energy.

I haven't been brave enough to step on the scale but I can tell that my mountain bike tire around my midsection has shrunk a good bit, and I still have a ways to go. I don't know if I'll ever get rid of all of it, but running lighter will certainly help me feel better and run better.

I don't want to focus on the numbers but I am curious to see what I've dropped. I'm a little afraid of seeing it in case it hasn't moved very much, I don't want to be frustrated or disappointed. So I'll wait until the right moment. Whenever I think that is.

Looking back, it really was the emotional eating component of the stress of my old lifestyle, the nursing lifestyle I would now call it. The cortisol circulating in my body all the time from stress, feeling hungry all the time, developing some insulin resistance, and sitting on my butt because I felt so crappy, when I should have been up and moving. And not watching how much I was eating.

And then the drinking beer. I was often drinking two beers a day, which is a lot more than I ever consumed in the past. I used to be able to only drink about half a beer. I love beer, but I always wish the breweries would make half-size bottles, like 6 ounces, for people who want to taste it but don't want to drink a lot.

It's been taking me a while to recover, seems like the 30 miler I did last weekend has stuck with me a while. I needed naps over the past few days. But yesterday I did feel a little better on my easy run and it wasn't hard to pick up the pace.

This week appears to be shaping up nicely as far as the weather goes. It looks like we might get into the 50s again and sunny, but the wind will hang around, which is normal. I plan to run the Prairie Dog Half Marathon in Louisville, close to Boulder, on Sunday, to get a timed, solid workout just to see where I am. A reality check.

Not so bad when this is your reality!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

INDY: Sub-Geezerdom Stares Me In The Face

Today I innocently decided to sign up for a race...

Except...when I went to fill out the form, THIS jumped out at me!

Signing up in my new age group for the first time. I have to admit it was a little bit of a shock.

It's only 50. I'm on the right side of the grass. It's not like I'm old. INDY, right?

I'm not dead yet! Still upright and moving forward, maybe a little bit more slowly, maybe not.

It's real. I'll be in the sub-geezer age group. I've been joking about it, but it really didn't hit me until this moment. Sometimes I feel like I'm still 23. My body doesn't feel like it, at least not today. But that's okay, I am ready to start thinking about what I want to run this spring. A tune-up to 24 hours again before the big race in September at North Coast.

It's the Cornbelt 24 Hour run, I did it in 2012 and enjoyed it, a low-key, local race that has all the charm of an old-fashioned ultra. It was quite relaxing. Plus it forces me to slow down and be at peace, with the requisite drive across Nebraska and Iowa each way.

I'm feeling pretty good after yesterday's long run but a little stiff if I sit in one place too long. Today we're getting the weather I expected for yesterday-the wind tunnel. All I'm doing today is walking.

The warm temperatures have made a dent in the Great Antarctic Ice Sheet too, except the gutters along the sidewalk are still full of ice. If you want to go from the sidewalk to the street, you have the option of leaping, and risking your life, or walking the sidewalk until you find a narrow place in the ice where you can step across. This morning it was warmer outside and reminded me of spring.

The Broncos are playing the Chargers today. Everything is orange. I inadvertently put on an orange shirt this morning. The Superbowl, first holiday of spring, approaches. Spring, everywhere.

It's supposed to be warm all week and I might even get brave and run the Prairie Dog Half Marathon in Louisville on Sunday if I feel up to a good butt kicking by some spring chickens in their 40s.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back in Ultra Territory

I survived the 30.5 miler today. I didn't starve, I didn't pass out. I felt good the whole way and stuck to a steady, slow pace. I had roasted carrots and almonds with me I didn't feel the need to walk at all so I kept running. I didn't get hungry. I came home after 15 miles to change into dry clothes and eat a little, then I went back out.

Five and a half hours and change later, I was home. It was cold and breezy today. Not windy, but there was enough wind to keep me cold the whole time. It wasn't all that exciting, I did two out and backs on the bike path and ran up by the stadium. That was it. Pretty low key. I listened to trance music which I haven't done in a while. Lately I haven't been listening to music, but today was a good day for it.

There were a few places on the bike path where the wind filled in the path with snow, from yesterday's conditions. Otherwise the footing was good, just a few patches of ice in shady spots and of course in my neighborhood, but other than that, clear. It was a nice day, with off and on cloud cover but mostly sunny.

I made the mistake of looking back at my running log from last year. I forgot that I was doing 90 mile weeks and running short fast races, and weekly faster runs with Wheaties Boy. I was running well, until I failed to take a good break late last fall. Now I'm rebuilding, and it will be interesting to see how I feel at Pemberton in four weeks.

I find it odd that I've been running so slowly, on all my easy runs it seems like 10 1/2-11 minute miles are all I can do. Not sure if that's due to the weight gain or age or deconditioning. I guess I'll start to find out soon. All of it is changing now. It does seem harder to get back in shape the older I get.

But I think it's because I'm still building up and my legs are tired all the time. This week I think I got 60 or so miles, which is my longest week since last summer. And I forgot that doing 30 miles on a low base is more difficult than if you're doing consistent 90 mile weeks.

Looks like the Aurora Borealis missed us, we didn't miss it. Good thing because I slept through the night last night and didn't take advantage of what was supposed to be the last chance to see it.

I think it's time for a visit to the hot tub...

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Snark Bark Returns...

The Great Antarctic Ice Sheet (formerly known as Fort Collins) has returned. Today it was windy as hell and sort of cold. Not as cold as it was windy.

I took the day off from running and went for a walk with the girls. The girls cross the ice sheets in the neighborhood carefully. They know.

I was so sore from those Maniacs! My legs hurt a little on Thursday but today they were screaming! I sat in the hot tub and later I did some work with the foam roller. Tomorrow's 30 miler should clean them out.

Isabelle checks out the Great Antarctic Ice Sheet. She's hoping for warm weather to melt some of it. Tomorrow could be a challenge running through the streets, before and after it melts. It's either a slick sheet of ice, or slush. Fun.

It's supposed to be warm tomorrow, which I doubt after today, but they say it's supposed to hit nearly 60 degrees. The polar vortex finally left us alone. Except it left some clouds in the sky which ruined what was supposed to be a view of the Aurora Borealis last night. We don't normally get to see that this far south. Damn vortex.

Speaking of the vortex, I had these awful work nightmares twice this week. I can't remember the first dream I had but last night I dreamed of being back in ICU. Somehow I got floated to ICU and they gave me this guy who was detoxing from alcohol, on an Ativan drip, and I had to get report from this other nurse but our shoelaces were tied together in a tight little knot. He wanted to give me report and go home but he couldn't leave because our shoes were knotted up together. Then I couldn't find the Pyxis or the bathroom, either.

And if that wasn't nightmarish enough, then they made me attend this meeting with people I had to work with at the hospital- including some of my least favorite ex-coworkers- and I was so bored out of my mind that I peeled all the skin off my fingers and I had these shredded ribbons of skin hanging off my hands. WTF!

I think I'm having those work nightmares because over the past few days I've read too many reports in medical newsletters talking about nurses being fatigued and regretting the clinical decisions they make, and also hearing from former coworkers that the hospital is going through the motions of yet another Magnet status attempt or something like that.

Well, duh! on both counts! If Magnet really meant anything it would have made working conditions better for nurses a long time ago. All it does is perpetuate the cycles of the enslavement culture.

Since Magnet is nothing but a piece of bling to put on an organization's website and means nothing in terms of real clinical quality, but the public doesn't know that, it will only be a matter of time. When hospitals get their Magnet designation, they always rush to announce it again in the paper about their latest "award" in an giant self-congratulatory public relations circle jerk, as if it means something other than they bought their way to another award, and I wish the public would EFFing wake up about health care and big corporations!

It's simply obesification of the corporate world. Unlike human beings who get big bellies or big butts, corporations gain upper body fat. All the lard goes straight to the top.

And I must be doing better now that I've been out of it for 2 months, because my sense of snark has returned.

Last night I got the good news from my brother that he, my sister-in-law, and my niece Jenny will be up here visiting in March so Jenny can look at Colorado State and CU in Boulder. Jenny and I have our birthdays three days apart in March and we will celebrate both of ours, Jenny will be 17.

I really don't see Jenny going to CSU, it's not really her type of town, but Boulder would fit her well. I was so excited, having Jenny and all of them here will be like a birthday present for me.

That didn't stop my 4 years younger bro from giving me shit about getting old. We have a similar sense of humor so of course it deteriorated...

And it's the middle of January, almost. We're three weeks past solstice. Tonight, for the first time, I noticed that the sun was up a little longer at the end of the day, it was light past five o'clock! I told you it's spring!

I wish I could convince Isabelle, who has the mid-winter blues...