Scatter my ashes here...

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

Friday, June 26, 2015


Our nearly two month-long saga with the post office has finally come to an end.

This week they poured the concrete and yesterday they installed the new mailboxes for the neighborhood. No more trips to the post office two or three times a week, waiting in line for the bonehead clerks and their perverse brand of customer "service". #postalnazis

No more mid-afternoon trips to avoid the long lines at lunchtime, disrupting my schedule. No more feeling like you need to take a shower after seeing the disgusting clerk on the left leering at every woman under 30 with long hair in shorts. No more rude brushoffs when you ask a question. No more watching the exasperation on the faces of the 20 or more other people waiting in line at the same time when two clerks are working but neither one is present at the front counter. No more Zombie Apocalypse.

I'm just so glad to be able to have the mail delivered again. My running route can now be changed to avoid midtown traffic and I can plan my days without the extra trip. First world problems, I know, but I can also do without the rudeness and toxic energy that the place creates, another reminder of what it was like to work in a toxic organization, which I don't need.

Breathe easy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Obesification Again...

I saw this article today on Modern Healthcare and it pissed me off, and even more so in the context of what's been happening in the headlines recently.

It’s long past time for American politicians to grow up. What a bunch of immature privileged frat boys we have in Washington.

Defending the gun lobby and preservation of a hateful symbol endorsed by state governments. Refusing to tell the truth about what’s going on with the proliferation of mass shootings and racially motivated violence. Lining their pockets from the even wealthier sociopaths and narcissists writing them checks.

But immature, spoiled little boys need more than a slap on the wrist. They need responsible adults to hold them accountable and take away their toys until they clean up their act.

Here’s a laughable thought…what if we could make a scale that was super cheap, purchased at Walmart, where you plug in your height and it calculates your BMI, showing you where you fall in the green, yellow or red or danger zones, corresponding to healthy, overweight, obese, and morbidly obese, since people can’t “see” body mass index.

If only it were that simple.

We’re not educating people about health, physical activity, and the consequences of what they put into their mouths while not moving their bodies.

We’re not teaching kids habits of taking care of their health from an early age, we’re not funding PE and sensible health education in schools.

We’re not building safe communities that encourage parents to let their kids play outside and safe streets for people to walk and commute by bike, not promoting healthy lifestyle habits, reasonable work hours, a chance to get enough activity during the workday, short commutes, healthy foods instead of fast food garbage.

Not only should we curtail the marketing of junk food and unhealthy activities on TV, we should curtail sedentary TV watching. We’ve been irresponsible in allowing corporate lobbyists from junk food industry to influence education, entertainment, and communities. Not only have we failed to invest in our infrastructure, we’ve failed to see that our infrastructure consists of the health of our people.

We've given science a back seat while putting money in the driver's seat. Except money doesn't have brakes.

When are we going to wake up? We have a political problem, and it’s intimately related to our 75% overweight and obese population, our dwindling life expectancy, our number 37 rank in the world on health care, our growing numbers of those impoverished and struggling economically.

We hear about the lack of investment in infrastructure- the things used by the little people- roads, bridges, communities, or the basic things a civilized society needs- public education, a future with promise, not debt and enslavement by a culture expecting people to pledge allegiance to the corporate states holding a noose around their necks.

Killing us with insurance premiums that keep expanding in the name of healthcare, you look down at us from your luxury C-suite seating. While the insurance companies, hospital industries, and pharmaceutical giants keep growing their profit margins, people’s waistlines are expanding just as fast as quality and length of life are declining.

We are headed into another election cycle with a larger than usual assortment of boy clowns with even larger gonads to deny and defend as needed the policies that keep the few and rich safe and secure while ensuring the continued decline of the American quality of life.

These boys continue to lie as their lapel flags disappear into their ever-growing bulk.

Because they know they will get away with it until American adults wake up from our sugar-fueled coma and roll our supersized bodies off the couch…

Redneckistan Romp

Sunday June 21 was Father's Day and Summer Solstice. I decided a while back that I needed to somehow get a decent length of time on my feet in the heat if I was going to feel ready to pace Bob at Badwater this summer, given my lack of "training" all year. It took forever for the temperatures to warm up this spring, but finally we got a few 90+ degree days last week.

Daylight was supposed to last 15 hours and 5 minutes, so I chose to stay out on the roads for that amount of time. Sunrise was 5:30 am, sunset at 8:35 pm.

I decided against a donut or brewery-themed run, since I needed the time on my feet, and I already reached a lifetime high weight this spring. I didn't need any more reasons to stuff my face. So I chose to stick to running and moving forward instead of breaking it up with extended stops that served no purpose for preparation. There are no Dunkin Donuts or breweries in Death Valley. Though it wouldn't be a bad idea...

Regardless, I'm already well-trained on the eating and drinking parts, it's the moving forward on my feet that needs attention.

I chose a road route with some difficult hills, followed by a long flat stretch, similar to Badwater conditions, only about 30 degrees cooler. I decided to go out the Spring Creek Trail bike path, get on the road going up by the stadium and over Maniac Hill first and down to Harmony Road, then back up over Maniac and northward over the big hills on Centennial down to Bellvue, then turning onto the Bingham Hill Road for another short set of rollers.

Then the route went back up over Bingham Hill and south along Centennial to repeat the big hills, down past the stadium and back home via the Spring Creek Trail, with a quick resupply stop at home, followed by more long loops or out & backs as needed to fill out the last several hours.

The temperature was supposed to hit the mid-90s, and it's a good 36 mile route from the start until the first stop back at the house, so I knew I'd need to carry a lot of fluid. I arranged with Dennis to meet along Bingham Hill road somewhere in the last morning for resupply of food, fluids, and ice.

After that I figured I could make it back to the house and do the rest of it on my own. The other advantage was that I'd have to carry a lot of weight in my big Ultimate running pack, which will prepare me for what it will be like at the Grand Canyon this fall when I have to have enough to get through the long stretches north of Phantom Ranch, in case the water is already turned off at the north Rim.

I left the house at exactly 5:30 am, running west along Spring Creek. My friend Jen planned to meet me a couple of miles in, and she was running toward me when I got to College Avenue. We ran west and she stayed with me until the beginning of the climb up to the reservoir. We had a great discussion about the science of nutrition and the recommended guidelines for nutrition which are about to be rolled out this year. Jen attended a Galloway running workshop the day before in Estes Park and was excited about that, too.

She turned around to go home for a 14 mile run and I continued up the hill. On the way down Maniac I saw HUGE snake wafer and I couldn't help chuckling about our conversation earlier. Was it gluten-free? Paleo? Raw?

It was early on a Sunday morning but by 3 hours into my run I could already see the throngs of people headed up to the reservoir for the day. Crazy people, lots of motorcycles whizzing by, rubbernecking at everything on the side of the road, guys in big trucks revving their engines loudly, sporting tattoos, reeking of cigarettes and cologne, puffing their chests behind the wheel as they stepped on the gas passing bikini-clad recreators, women yakking away on their cell phones as they drove the tight curves on the road. It looked like someone unlocked the doors to the sensory deprivation chamber and let them all out. Did these people have any concept of peace and quiet?

I realized that I usually am not up here on the weekends, and this was a reminder of why.

I stopped to use one of the pit toilets at Rotary Park and then sat on the concrete outside to pull some drinks out of my pack. That was when I discovered that PBJ tortillas wrapped in plastic bags don't hold up very well with sweating, icy waterbottles. They were soggy and indistinguishable from a pile of fresh roadkill. I had to toss them, there was no way. I had enough gel and peanut butter packets to make it until Dennis met me.

I continued north over the hills and down into the valley, turning just before Bellvue to go over Bingham Hill road. I got a text from Dennis that he was on his way, he caught me almost at the turnaround, before the last little rise. He brought me a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks, more drinks, ice, and PBJ tortillas. I stuffed a big blob of ice in my bandana and tied it around my neck, stuffed the pack as full as I could, carrying more than a gallon of fluids.

Once I turned around at the bottom at the intersection of Overland Hill road and started heading back, I began to see even more traffic. Lots of bicycles, riding mostly in groups. They'd stop at the top of the hill and wait for each other. Some impatient motorists would get behind them, following slowly, as if it were such an imposition to have to slow down. Does it really hurt to put the brakes on? All they had to do was wait for another 50 meters for the bikes to have enough room to move over, but the drivers acted like it was the end of the world.

There is no shoulder on most of the stretch of road between Bingham Hill and Lory State Park turnoff. There were lots of big trucks with attitudes. I couldn't see their truck nuts, but I'm sure they were there. That's when I remembered "Redneckistan". I always called it my Rambo Run when we used to live in this part of town when I was in graduate school. People drive big loud trucks fast, and they either try to run you off the road or assert their ownership of it. That where snake wafers come from.

Once on the hill up to the north dam again, there was a wide shoulder and a bit more safety. Still, the traffic kept coming. It felt like rush hour, nonstop flow of traffic all the way along the reservoir. When I finally made it back to Spring Creek Trail it was quiet again, no more cars. I was finished with the tough hilly section and headed home for quick stop.

On my way down the bike path it was quiet enough so I decided to call my dad to wish him a happy Father's Day. The oncologist finally decided that the chemo he was on isn't working, so he's getting a quick break and then will go on a different chemo. They are headed to California soon to escape the Arizona heat. I hope he will feel well enough to enjoy it.

Soon after I got off the phone with dad, I needed to get more cold fluids out of the main compartment of my pack. I started looking for a place to stop in the shade where I could stop. I saw a bench ahead of me under a huge cottonwood, nice and shady. I made a beeline for it, and just as I arrived, a family on bicycles, quite overweight, was headed up the trail, coming up a small rise. As I unbuckled the straps, whipped off my pack and set it down on the bench, the woman and girl got off their bikes, looking at me with a strange, slightly disgusted look on their faces.

I thought, maybe they wanted the bench, so I said, "You can sit down here, I'll only be here for a minute". The woman got an even more disgusted look on her face, and said, "No, thank you." Total contempt. And they moved their bikes over to a picnic table a few yards away, under some trees. She looked at me like I was an alien. I guess my hat, or the way I looked at that point, 35 miles into my run, or the fact that I took their shady spot and apparently outran them to it, pissed her off. I gave her my best Miranda Sings smile impression, minus the lipstick, rearranged the bottles in my pack, and took off.

I ran into another runner I haven't seen in a while, we stopped and talked for a few minutes, then Jen came by on her bike to see how I was doing. Soon I was home and drinking iced tea, refilling my pack with another heavy load of frozen bottles and an icy bandana, stuffing my face with food out of the fridge. I had slowed down and it didn't look like I would get a huge mileage accumulation, but it didn't matter. The time on my feet was more important.

I spent a total of 15 minutes in the house. Lucky we don't have central AC or it would have been hard to get back out there. It was only 91 degrees according to my phone but the road felt much hotter. I went out toward Warren Lake and did a big loop out by the Power Trail before coming back home, about a 10 mile loop. My phone battery was dying so I came back to the house, plugged in the phone and ran out for another mile or so while it had time to charge, then I came back and grabbed it again.

It stayed warm up until an hour before sunset. At one point I passed a portapotty that had been sitting out in the blazing sun all day and realized it didn't smell too bad, probably better than I did. I was comfortable all day, I'd been taking an S cap every hour and drinking plenty to lighten my pack. The only places on my body with a hint of discomfort were my feet, with hot spots I didn't bother to mess with, since I'd be home soon enough, and my neck and shoulders from carrying a 10 pound pack all day.

I headed out for the last time to Warren Lake, catch the sunset for a final out and back to coincide perfectly with my planned finish time. There weren't a lot of clouds so the sunset wasn't nearly as spectacular as it usually is. Still, the view of Longs Peak and Indian Peaks on the horizon was worth stopping for the photographs.

I got back to the house at precisely 8:35 pm. I could not wait to take off my shoes and socks. Dennis fed me mango slices, and I drank cold drinks, stuck a beer in the freezer, ate some food, took a shower, drank the beer, figured out my distance and vertical, and went to bed.

Turned out I got 50.6 miles and 3116 feet of climb, and the same of descent. Slow pace, but that was up and down those gnarly hills with a 10 pound pack in the heat, and mostly walking all day. Not bad. I feel better about being ready to support Bob now.

My feet were swollen and still have heat rash, along with my thighs, and other than that my neck and shoulders were sore all day. I feel good otherwise. I'm wondering if I might need to bump up my shoe size to 8 1/2 soon, because my toes feel bashed. I was running some pretty steep downhills with a heavy pack, but I wonder if my feet continue to expand. When I started running in 1984, I wore a size 6. Now I'm at an 8.

I'm just glad I survived Redneckistan. The days are getting shorter now. I did my long training run. All is well.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Pink Boa 5K and Running Reminders

I know I should be running, but I sort of ended up taking the week off. So far I haven't run a step. My weeks go from Monday to Sunday, so there's still room for a run tomorrow.

I had a vendor table at the Pink Boa 5K this weekend, for my business. The race itself is for a nonprofit here, Hope Lives, that provides free services to women with breast cancer in the community.

It's a great organization and I wish they could extend it to other cancers, and of course include men with breast cancer.

I'm not big into pinkification myself, as I've said before. But I do know where this money is going, and it's not to an administrative and overhead-heavy organization. It's run on a minimum of staff and directly benefits the real people in the community. As it should. And since it's about people with cancer it is directly related to my business.

I filed for trademark number two yesterday. In and out with the attorney this time. This is my life these days, when I'm having to do the less enjoyable tasks, like finishing the e-commerce site and time-consuming things like writing a terms of service agreement, you know, those million page legal documents that nobody ever reads, they just check the "I agree" box so they can get on with their life. Well I have to write one. So I'm doing it in small doses. Ugh. If only it were as simple as "I agree".

These days I prefer to just be focusing on writing good content for the services I will roll out later in the year, which will make it completely different than the way it looks now. There's a lot to do, and I have to teach myself to limit my availability so I have more chunks of uninterrupted time to work. I'm still figuring out this self-employment thing, finding my most productive times for doing various tasks. The thing that's been neglected, of course, is running.

As evidenced by my growing thighs, butt and mountain bike tire and my current lack of shorts that fit me. All of my shorts are tight across the butt, so much that I'm embarrassed to wear them. I can't afford a new wardrobe now, so my only real alternative is to stretch my big girl panties over my butt, employ a little self-discipline, quit eating like a maniac and drinking beer, and work harder than a stroll on my feet.

In running, there's been nothing this week, but I have big plans for next week. In addition to getting my lazy butt out the door to run for at least an hour most days, I'd really like to spend a whole day running so I will see about doing a solstice day run.

They still haven't caught the shooter so I'm sticking to Fort Collins. I'd like to do as much moving on my feet as possible and I don't want to be waiting around for things like donuts and beer. I'll see if anyone wants to join me for parts of it regardless, hell, maybe THEY can fetch the donuts and beer...but I'm not interested in having someone chattering in my ear for hours. I just need to get out there and MOVE. Forward. At a steady pace.

The daylight lasts for 15 hours and 5 minutes on June 21 so I think that's a reasonable amount of time to be out and get 100 km or more in at a relaxed pace. I anticipate doing mostly walking anyway.

Which reminds me, my damn iPod died! I don't know how it happened but it hasn't been the same since I ran that 12 hour run in March in Arvada and stupidly stuck the thing in my bra. Now I can't even get the thing to turn on when I charge it. I killed it with my sweaty boobs.

Guess I better find a new one quickly. Next Sunday is solstice.

I am going to crew for Bob Becker on his return trip from Whitney to Badwater this summer. I know it will be tough, but fun. I have so much work to do, I can't be away too long. Megan asked me if I wanted to carpool with her and Ray to do medical at the race again this year, but I told her I can't. I do want to get out there to see Don Meyer, Ben and Denise Jones, the medical people, and John Vonhof, maybe climb Whitney if we can get permits, and then crew Bob.

I'd like to get back out to Death Valley and really see the sights and explore different parts of the valley that I've never seen before, but other than that I'm done with the circus. I like the fact that Badwater is a smaller event, it's not like the major 100 milers that have become outright circuses, but Badwater does have its own unique brand of mini-drama. Any race with that kind of fanfare and mystique takes on a circus-like atmosphere.

It's like the time I was stopped in the middle of the road to Stovepipe Wells by a foreign documentary film crew with a big fuzzy microphone when I was five seconds from barfing and being asked, "Why are you doing it? Do you feel compelled to do this?" I'm not an animal in the zoo. That's why I've never done Western States or gone back to Leadville. That's also why I've never run New York or Boston, and I avoid Rock N Roll, Bolder Boulder, and those other mass humanity races.

Maybe it's just me, but I've never been one of those people who can go back year after year after year which turns into decade after decade, like my friend Kirk Apt, who runs the same race 20 or more years in a row. I'm just not made that way. It's been 10 years of some aspect of Badwater for me, and I think that's plenty.

I love the people I've met along the way at Badwater (well, most!), I am so glad I experienced it from all those different angles, and it's been a huge part of my life for a long time. But we move on. There are other adventures to explore in life. I might even decide to go back in the future sometime, but the way I feel right now, I'm sorta done.

No I'm not changing the name of the blog or the nature of the blog. It will still be Journey to Badwater, that name is just a metaphor anyway, as you've seen if you've hung around this blog for any period of time, my life and running are about so much more than Badwater.

Dale and Katy are going with me on the Rim to Rim to Rim in October. We were able to get reservations on the rim the nights before and after, and the three way split is good because it's expensive.

I need to keep reminding myself because the hills are going to be important this summer. Rock Repeats and Longs Peak, and other climbs. If I can train for that, I should be in a better place to look at returning to running ultras next year. And I also need to remind myself what it feels like to carry an extra 20 pounds of LARD down and up and down and up the Grand Canyon too, so I can lose the lard before then.

All I need are daily reminders, did you do your run today? That will be enough to annoy me so much I have to run away.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Life, Death & Running

I did it because I knew I wouldn't be doing much running for a few days in Arizona, but my last hill workout of multiple Maniacs looked like a bad ventricular tachycardia on an EKG. I felt good, though, despite the warm day, steep hills, and slow pace.

I was sort of hoping for hot days in Scottsdale, but instead we got cooler temperatures and tropical-feeling humidity. Pretty uncomfortable for running. That was okay though. My husband and I went down to visit my dad and stepmom and celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

Our visit was low key. Perfect for what we needed. We walked around some, did some shopping, drank some beer and ate. And ate. And ate. I felt like I was going to burst by the end of the three days. So much good food. I walked the canal in the humidity. It was overcast and you could smell the canal hanging in the air. There were a few ducks out, nothing like this spring. There were hundreds of quail around with their babies. Baby quail are so cute. I saw a HUGE coyote running across the grass at a downtown Scottsdale hotel lawn. I'm sure he was well-fed.

I stay in touch with several of the Arizona runners from when I lived there. A few weeks ago one of the runners who happens to be my friend Kirk's brother-in-law, Jeff, suffered a cardiac arrest during a run down there in Phoenix. I didn't know about it until I saw another runner's post on Facebook that he was speaking at the service. Jeff was a late-life new runner. He probably lived longer as a result of running than he would have if he never started. Still, that was a shock, something you never expect. His wife is Kirk's sister. I met them years ago, when they lived in Oregon and their kids were little.

But then our last day there, we found out, again, on Facebook, that one of the runners we knew from ultras was involved in an accident on his way home from work on the night of June 9th, with bad head trauma. He was taken to Maricopa County hospital. That's where I got my first job offer out of nursing school, in ICU there. As an ICU nurse, I always dreaded having someone come in as a patient that I knew.

Well this was horrible news, it was Dennis Poolheco, he died later that night at county hospital. He was a great runner, he did ultras and trail runs. He won the Man Against Horse race something like 6 times. And he used to come to a lot of the events I ran. I got to know him a little, and he was always such a nice person, and everyone loved him. I can still hear him laugh, and see his smile. So easygoing and fun to be around. He was a great competitor and also so humble. I kept thinking of him, the whole way home, and today the thought of it kept invading my thoughts.

Dennis was Native American from the Hopi Reservation in northern Arizona. He was involved in creating the Paatuwaqatsi Run, one of the most beautiful running experiences I've ever had. One that I'd like to go back to, that Katy and I were talking about doing again next year.

Losses to the running community are always hard because everyone runs thinking they will stay healthy and live a long time, in that healthy state. At least that is what they assume. So when things do happen suddenly to runners and they die, it's always unexpected. It's almost like there was that extra expectation of a long life.

It is horrible what happened to Dennis, though I am glad he didn't have to suffer any longer in that condition, because it's too cruel of an outcome to survive an injury like that. Surviving isn't even the right word, it's more like being plugged in to a socket. It means days on a ventilator and a million tubes and lines to pumps going in and out of the body, and if the person has pain they can't communicate it and might not even be aware of what it is, just agitated in a non-communicative state. Not the way anyone would want to be for any period of time.
He outran us to the other side, wherever that is, if there is one.

Live every day as fully as you can. Have all the adventure packed in sooner rather than later. Forget all the trivial problems of our too-complex lives.

Run in beautiful places. Look at the landscape. Look at the sky. Breathe.