Scatter my ashes here...

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

Saturday, December 16, 2017

On Power, Nursing, and Sunsets: A Long Overdue Rant!!

"My job is ________ (insert true purpose), not to be a cog in the wheel!"

Okay, so as a nurse, I would fill in the blank with patient advocacy.

Why THIS rant, and why NOW?

It's been quite the week, or several...

Recent events have reminded me of why I left traditional healthcare setting to become a nurse entrepreneur and do the work I am passionate about.

One is the Harvey Weinstein scandal and all of the related accusations that have followed.

Another is the latest revelation of an eye surgeon physically assaulting a nurse in the operating room, in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Hollywood.

Still another is hearing someone's account of going through the wringer just to get a diagnosis and chance at treatment of her metastatic cancer.

And another is being almost done with my book, and after toning down my passion and enthusiasm so as not to be perceived as angry, I was told I need to put some teeth back in the book by my most honest critic, which I gladly did. (Why can't women be angry? We certainly deserve to be. Those are valid feelings. We don't have to shut up because it makes somebody uncomfortable.)

And finally, today I received yet another e-mail from a nursing organization offering a continuing education module, sponsored by a drug company, about pancreatic cancer.

What do all these things have in common?

They all have to do with a power gradient and how the powerful can push, shove, elbow, sneak, and bludgeon their way to maintaining the status quo.

Hearing about the surgeon assaulting the nurse, according to the allegations, the surgeon was barely slapped on the wrist, while the nurse was bullied by the powers that be, reducing her hours, moving her to a different floor, and not being taken seriously. It doesn't matter that it was not sexual assault. Harvey Weinstein used his power to manipulate, threaten, and ruin the careers of women who did not acquiesce to his demands. Nurses are seen as an expense in the healthcare system, expected to stay quiet, cooperative, and inexpensive. Surgeons, on the other hand, are revered as money makers. In a healthcare system that values profit over patient outcomes, this is what you get.

And if a patient is emotionally needy, scared, and anxious, maybe even a bit dramatic, the doctors avoid her, push her out of the way, write notes to each other about her, and try to push her off onto someone else. Instead of seeing her for where she is and what she's facing, and considering what might be driving her behavior, the doctors are focusing on the behavior and seeing the patient as the problem.

To top it off, I saw this email about continuing nursing education on pancreatic cancer. I like to keep up with the latest in cancer treatment, and I opened the email to read the information inside. I skimmed over it, finding very little useful information, and when I reached the bottom, there it was, sponsored by Celgene.

Just another one of those mind-numbing continuing education opportunities that continue to focus more on the characteristics of the disease and treatments themselves, rather than on helping the patient heal and regain quality of living. Once again, there was plenty of material about the common symptoms and disease characteristics, but at the end , a few crumbs were thrown in the direction of mentioning quality of life, without any substance or real attempt to help nurses develop new tools or skills to make a difference for patients where they exist in their own lives.

And this is the problem in nursing- because nurses are an expense, expendable, and an afterthought, we are thrown a few crumbs by the big powerful drug companies, who make it easy for us to digest what they want us to parrot to the patients, to keep them coming back for more. Meanwhile, the qualities of creativity and intellectual curiosity are removed from nurse education. Who wants to be creative or investigate new ideas when they've been on their feet for 13 hours?

Being a cog in the big wheel of profit-driven healthcare is what is expected of nurses. Even if we get assaulted on the job. And it's happening more frequently. We're speaking out.

It's very frustrating to the powerful to not get their way.

Before I forget, watching Roy Moore's horse's ass ride off into the sunset- his defeat was delightful. It was a wonderful occasion to appreciate a Hanukkah present for this nonobservant JEW. You schmuck. And your evil wife.

I love sunsets, don't you?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Death By A Thousand Cuts

One year ago was the nailbiter election that ended in shock, disappointment and disbelief for many Americans. I can remember staying up past midnight and hearing the results, which set off a storm of depression, frustration, and anger with my fellow citizens who voted for him.

The narcissistic con man who openly flaunted his connection to Russia during the debates and boasted that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue in New York and shoot someone and not lose any voters.

The chickens have come home to roost.

Today is also an election day. One of the low turnout ones- seemingly minor issues and seats, such as school board elections, tend to receive little attention and people think they can just blow it off.

You can't. Right here in my town of Fort Collins we have a race between two school board candidates, one who cares about her community, has demonstrated her commitment to her community and the schools, wants all children to get an education and have opportunities, and wants transparency in the school board. She is running against a Betsy Devos-type clone who has already had a career in politics, with less demonstrated commitment to the schools than his commitment to the oil and gas industry.

These off-year elections can't be ignored. We are losing our democracy by apathy, our failure to hold our elected leaders accountable to us as citizens, and we can't afford to do this anymore.

The NRA has held our safety and mental health hostage for too long. So has Citizens United. I am calling every politician who has taken money from the NRA a complicit terrorist. Just like the many terrorists who have shot up schools, churches, concerts, restaurants, like in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, and in all the forthcoming shootings, because we know they are going to happen.

There is some talk about the preponderance of white men committing these mass murders. It's worth a look. I'm no forensics expert but it seems like when it comes to bizarre antisocial behavior and gun violence, these mass shootings are perpetrated by a lot of white men. What is driving this? Entitlement? Frustration? Fear of losing their privilege, control and power?

I have always been a little afraid of white men in pickups with NRA stickers, gunracks, and such. Even the display of the American flag on a vehicle gives me a little uncomfortable feeling, ever since the post-9/11 jingoistic craze. That's sad, because it's my flag too. But I see people using it in a way that I read as, "There's only one way to be an American, MY way!"

The symbol feels tainted, they've hijacked something that belongs to all of us and made it symbolic of something ugly. That's how it feels to me. Like being forced to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, or being forced to put your hand over your heart and stand during the National Anthem, or say one nation under God with liberty and justice for all like they did in public school, when you know in your heart it's not true.

The sexual assault and harassment talk is also blowing up the news- more crimes committed, mostly by men in positions of power and privilege. A lot of white men. I don't even need to go there right now, I've written about this before. It's long past time we took on this issue, but we need to keep in mind that we elected a known sexual predator!!!

Every single day we hear news about these horrible violent acts, and every day it feels like another stab in the gut. I don't want to read the news anymore, but I have to, I feel I need to know what's going on in the world, to be informed and aware. But it hurts, and it hurts worse every day, and it's cumulative, and it feels like the day after Donald Trump was elected and I felt cut down to the floor, punched in the stomach and kicked in the head. And every time I hear about these scoundrels in Washington doing things to undermine our democracy and getting away with crimes that should have taken any of them down before they ever got close to Washington DC, I get that feeling again.

I'm trying to figure out ways to cope, so that it doesn't kill me, so I don't have health consequences from this, but it's that heavy feeling, like when you take a deep breath in, it hurts deep in your gut, to open up your lungs, like you've been pummeled in the ribs and sternum and belly. It's an actual physical ache I can feel, like I'm destroyed and hopeless, at my lowest point ever, after a huge setback, loss, or disappointment.

I just keep hoping something happens, soon, to turn things around, because I don't know how much more of this I can take. Maybe a lot. Maybe not much.

I need to say this stuff. Don't feel bad for me, I know I'm not alone and I know I'm not the only one who resists this crap. Do me a favor, if you're feeling bad at all after reading this, go to your local polling place and cast your ballot. Responsibly. Just go, exercise your rights as a citizen, while we still have the right to vote. It's the least you can do.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Child of the Sixties

If you're looking for sex, drugs and rock n' roll, sorry to disappoint you!

I was born in 1964, the tail end of the baby boom generation. I'm the last of them, as we straggle off into the sunset of our golden years.

I'm really a child of the American pharmaceutical industry. I'm dependent on them, on four counts now. How does an otherwise healthy, fifty-something adult-lifelong runner end up on four different prescriptions before age 54? Mostly it's bad genes.

As a result of genes, I have defective organs, namely, thyroid, brain, and liver. Hashimoto's thyroiditis and other thyroid disorders run in my family. We all have wacked-out thyroids. So I take two meds daily for that.

Next is my brain. I have wacked-out neurotransmitters, serotonin and my serotonin receptors like each other too much. They are in love with each other and cling tightly to one another, it's very dysfunctional and they really need to get over themselves and get a life, at least give each other a break once in a while. In me, it causes depression. And probably, mild anxiety, which I never really thought I had, until I hit menopause. Those also run in my family, though people never talk about it.

Finally, and I hope this is the last one, but the night is young...and so am I, for a baby boomer...I have a defective liver. It makes cholesterol like rabbits make bunnies. That's in my family too. I've been able to manage my cholesterol in the past with diet, but it doesn't seem to work so well anymore. Recently I got my cholesterol checked again. I've always had very high HDL (aka "the good cholesterol"), this time it was 92. But I've never had high LDL (aka "the bad cholesterol") before, and while my total cholesterol has always run a bit high, the LDL wasn't an issue until now.

Besides genes, maybe it's menopause, diet, a 20 pound weight gain, relative inactivity compared to what I used to do, hormones, age, or who knows. Anyway, on my recent labs, my cholesterol took a giant leap into the high 200s along with my LDL being in the high 100s. Therefore, I chose to start taking a statin. Today.

That's for a couple of reasons- one is I have stopped avoiding wheat, just out of sheer hedonism, and that over the past year I've been pretty stressed out (it's the Trump effect). I've been indulging in far too many calories, both from things like bread and from alcohol. I really do blame it on the Trump effect, because I've gained about half of it over the past year. I just feel the need to calm my nerves in the evening with a couple of beers, or margaritas.

Many years ago I thought I was one of those tough people who didn't need antidepressants, could just tough it out myself, ya know. pull myself up by my bootstraps and snap out of it... well, it doesn't work that way for a lot of people. These drugs save my life. After several bouts of persistent depression starting in my late twenties that I got through on my own without drugs, finally I got wise in my late thirties and tried them. They truly are a miracle drug for those who need them. Made a world of difference. It's funny, even after the first time I tried them, I tried going without, and I managed to do without them for years, until I became a nurse. That changed everything.

Now I know better, and I still hear the old stigma come out of so many patients and clients mouths, and people in general. They think it's a weakness to depend on drugs to help with depression. And they won;'t go for therapy either, that's also a weakness. Well, not everyone's depression is the same. If you need it, you'll know it, because when you try it, you'll see the difference, sometimes in just a few days.

I had a lot of reservations about the statin, you hear things like liver damage, diabetes, muscle aches, and so on. I'm going to try it, and I'm on a tiny dose, but if I feel like I'm doing okay with it, and my lipids don't drop as expected, I will increase the dose. We're going to recheck in eight weeks. I don't need a stroke or MI. As an athlete, statins can cause muscle problems for some people who can't tolerate them- aches, tendon problems. I am on the lookout for that, but I know I need to do something at this point. If I can't tolerate the statin I'll try something else. But I hope I can.

I can remember when I was first diagnosed with thyroid disease and found out I would be taking a pill for the rest of my life- that was before the second thyroid medication got added- and I felt like somehow I;d failed as a healthy person because I was no longer able to say I don't take any drugs. The false pride of youth. Yes some people- rarely these days- do get through adulthood and into old age without taking ANY medications. That's wonderful and it's also very lucky from the standpoint of the gene pool. It doesn't mean you take perfect care of yourself, but then, there are people who take lots of pills and take immaculate care of themselves- and they just have bad genes.

Me, I have never been too extreme on either end. But this latest addition to my little collection has been a bit of a wake up call, I have definitely let everything slide over the past year, maybe even two or three when it comes to running. I do need to lose weight, I do need to run more, I do need to watch what I eat, I do need to drink less, and I do need to accept that I am not in my 20s or 30s with a resilient, high energy body and metabolism anymore.

However, I do still enjoy running, and I have the wisdom, hopefully, of having seen a brief glimpse of the other side, the less healthy side, the one that so many people live to an extreme degree- overweight, sedentary, self-neglectful...and I don't want to go there.

So, this morning, I looked at my growing pill pile- four pills now, one broken in half- (that's the levothyroxine broken in half once a week to reduce my dose slightly- so I don't go flying off hyperthyroid- been there, you wouldn't like me much)- and I decided I'm going back, the other way, to the healthier side. I will find ways to calm myself other than by cracking a beer or mixing a marg. I will pay attention while eating, so I don't eat too much. I will get my ass out the door and run more days than not. And I will keep boxing.

But as I gazed at the pills in my hand, I was thankful- really thankful- that these drugs exist, because I probably wouldn't have made it to this point without them, and I have a chance to continue living a life I really do enjoy. Thanks, in part, to these drugs. And I'm also very thankful for the insurance I have to make them affordable and accessible to me. Everyone should have that opportunity when they need it. Gulp! Bottoms up*!

*Always drink plenty of water with your medication...

There Goes the Sun 12 Hour Fat Ass

The sun was already gone.

I participated in this third ever Fat Ass event at Lake Arbor in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, last Sunday. I'd been looking forward to it for months, it was the only thing that got me off my literally fat ass to do some long runs this summer. I did actually train for this, with three long runs (and just about nothing else) so my legs and feet wouldn't give up in protest.

Despite the past two iterations of this event being blessed with nice weather, this time it was a rainy weekend, and while Saturday seemed to be the worse day for rain, Sunday was a fairly steady light drizzle, in between periods of not raining briefly, followed by occasional harder rain.

My goal for this run was to get 50 miles in. My long runs had consisted of 4, 6, and 8 hour runs on Centennial Drive hills at Horsetooth, plenty of pavement and vertical. I didn't need the hills but they are always helpful. The course at Lake Arbor is a concrete path surrounding a lake, with a few gentle rises and descents that are hardly noticeable, 1.15 miles per loop according to the sign at the park, but some people said it was really 1.2 miles on their GPS. Who's counting?

I arrived early to find Sasquatch, aka Richard Cranium, aka Dale Perry, sitting there in his car in the dark. I walked over, he said he thought the start was at 6 am, but it was 7. We started to set up our stuff under the pavilion, to protect us from the rain, though at the time it wasn't raining. Soon Marissa DeMercurio showed up. Marissa and Pete, her husband, put this event on, it's a low-key, family event, my friend Connie also helps out, she is Marissa's mom.

I set up my table and all my stuff as well as I could, being out of practice from the ultra routine. I arranged the peeps along the entrance and exit to the pavilion. I got orange colored pumpkin peeps this time. Then I set up Dale's favorite item, the enema bag. I have always threatened to give ice water enemas in the running circles I frequent, to the obnoxious guys I suffer, as my alterego Nurse Ratched, or, Ratched, RN. I decorated it with a tiny bottle of Tabasco sauce that I called the lubricant suppository.

Where else but in ultras can you be this crude and disgusting anymore? Life is short, you gotta have fun, you gotta say FU sometimes. I refuse to grow up and be a lady, like I told my mom over 40 years ago. Eyes on the prize.

Vince Gerber showed up from Estes Park, and Matt Clark from Fort Collins too. We started at 7 am and the sprinklers turned on near the starting area, necessitating that we get wet even before it actually started raining. Vince also added some color to the Peep collection. He got the reputation for eating the butts off my Peeps at this event one year. I guess he felt guilty...

As the day wore on, I realized how out of shape I really am, my body is not at all used to being on its feet for this many hours. I also made the poor choice of wearing my most worn out pair of running shoes. I stuck to my plan which was to run half the time, powerwalking the other half. I got three hours of running in by the six hour mark, but after that I ran out of steam, both mentally and physically. I'd say it turned into the last 6 hours of light powerwalking. I turned my tunes on and settled into a brisk pace, but not my usual power blast.

It was fine. I was out there with the ducks, the geese, a few of my favorite people and some other runners who were there enjoying the rain. All was right. Plus, Marissa made awesome grilled cheese sandwiches and heated water for our warm drinks. I changed my clothes around halfway, it wasn't raining hard enough to soak through, but when the wind picked up it did get cold. People came by and visited, including Dan Yap from the Donut crew in Fort Collins, ran a few laps, ate from the crazy food feast Marissa arranged. I missed out on the donuts, but that was okay. I got the grilled cheese.

By late in the day it was just Dale, Vince, and me out on the course. The rain persisted. I thought I saw a vulture in one of the trees around the lake, but someone on Facebook corrected me and said it was a cormorant. I guess I was just wishing a vulture would scrape my carcass up off the pavement at the time. I was hurting, well before the end. By the end of twelve hours, Dale and I shared the last lap and half together. We were the only ones left on the course. Neither of us felt energetic enough to squeeze in an extra lap, which would have taken speed that I don't think either of us had at the moment. Dale ended up with over 40 miles, I ended up with 46. I didn't get my 50, but it was a chore dragging my 140 pounds of dead weight around that lake, and I earned every mile.

Marissa is threatening to hold this event again next year. Uh-oh. I'm in trouble. I better get cracking. I'll start training tomorrow. Even if it means I have to run.

I am going to have to figure out, between now and the end of the year, how to get my body prepared for a 24 hour event. I don't have any mileage goals, but I sure would like to remain upright and moving forward for the duration there, too. I have a lot of work to do.

As the poet Eminem once said, "Snap back to reality, oh there goes gravity"

"Til the next post...

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Greetings from Strong Badia

Strong Bad, who lives in Strong Badia, is my hero. I sort of like his Teen Girl Squad too, I used to use them to tease my brother about my niece Jenny when she was in high school. If you're unfamiliar with these characters, you MUST check out THIS.

It's been a while since I blogged here. This year I wrote a book.

There's something about writing a book that sucks the desire to write much else out of you. At least it was that way for me. I couldn't think about writing much of anything, I was so focused on the content of the book. There simply was nothing left. Between that and having two puppies, going through training, spaying, daily walks, cleaning up after them, replacing everything they destroyed, and we're not done yet...with the madness of having two high energy baby Aussies at the same time, I sometimes wonder how I did it.

But the pups kept me in line and I got through the book, and the editor has it now. We are doing revisions. I expect it will be out late this fall. Here's the cover design, ignore the Latin from the template, this was just a rough draft.

It's about healthcare, the stuff I have ranted about on this blog and in other places, except less of a rant than about solutions and how those solutions are needed to improve the cancer patient experience, making it less traumatic and disjointed. In other words, people in healthcare need to clean up after themselves, the mess they make when treating people for cancer doesn't clean up itself. I'll have plenty more to say about the book later, and if you want to know more, feel free to go to my website and sign up for the updates where you can subscribe to get more information, bottom of the home page.

This summer I was supposed to help out at Badwater again but I ran out of time at the last minute finishing the manuscript and I promised the editor I would have it done by a certain date and she had arranged child care so she could work on it, and it took me longer than expected, so I ended up not going to Badwater. Slightly disappointing, yes, but then, it took a pretty good arm twisting to make me go back there, after claiming my retirement status.

I went to Scottsdale to hang out with my Dad while my stepmom went away for a much needed spa weekend, and he's been taking boxing classes. He has Parkinson's. If you've been to this blog before, you know he was being treated for a type of chronic leukemia a few years back. He's been in remission with that but almost as soon as he finished chemo, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's.

But my dad doesn't get stopped by much, and he has been doing everything he can to keep himself functioning well despite the symptoms he experiences, naturally from the disease and from the medication, which is not the easiest stuff to tolerate. He started taking boxing classes, specifically for people with Parkinson's, and he is also taking singing lessons, because the voice is affected by Parkinson's, and tap dancing lessons! He is fortunate to live in proximity to the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center in Phoenix, and there are all sorts of great activity and support networks there.

He continues to work out with his personal trainer and goes to physical therapy too. He is busy and active, and that is the best thing anyone can do. I'm really proud of him. It's been difficult to watch this unfold but not as hard as it is to live with it yourself or for a spouse to live with it. Hence the spa weekend.

When I was visiting, I went to his boxing class and watched him. Seeing those men in his class work out was very inspiring, but I also was inspired by the workout itself. The strength, core, cardio, it all looked like a great workout, and I took karate lessons for a short time as a kid and loved it. When I got home, I looked up boxing and thought I'd try it myself. I took a class at Title boxing and I felt like I found the holy grail.

I have been having so much trouble motivating myself to work out on my own. I've never had this problem of self-motivation or discipline until now. I've struggled all summer, wanting to get back into running, and lose the 20 pounds I gained, and start doing some cross training, but I couldn't get myself to do it. The weekly donut runs were about all I was doing regularly. So now I'm taking several boxing classes each week, and so far all I can tell is that my abs are extremely sore. It is a good cardio workout though. I'm starting to feel a little smoother in the technique, but I'm naturally pretty uncoordinated, so every time we have to do a series of more than 5 punches, I struggle remembering the sequence, but I just keep throwing punches and that seems to work, for now.

I'm not running a lot, but I did do a 27 miler last week and it was the first ultradistance run I've done in a long time. I still plan on doing the There Goes the Sun 12 hour run next month in Arvada. And I did sign up for the 24 hour at Across the Years, just for fun, to run with my ultra buddy Sasquatch, a.k.a. Dale Perry, who has quite the interesting comeback story going on. There should be a good-sized Colorado contingent there to make it a fun party.

I've been staying busy with the community cancer programs I've been working on, things start to get busier for me in the fall. And there's a lot of marketing work to do on the book. So between that and puppies, who are going to be a year old soon, and need to start running, I have my hands full. And writing, of course. Now that I have the bandwidth to write my own blogposts for fun again, it's nice to be back.

I'll be filling you in over the next few months with details on life, the book, returning to running, and boxing with puppies. I didn't even rant about politics yet, either, but who needs any more of that when you've got an overload of outrageousness in the news everyday!

Enjoy what's left of summer, if you're on the top part of the planet, and I'll be back before long. Until then, I'll be in Strong Badia. Thanks for reading!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Been Busy...

but I'm back!

Finally reached my point of "I can't stand it anymore!!!!" The motorcycle tire around my waist is just too much for me to bear. It's grossing me out daily. I still have another month of working on this book most of the time, so the sitting is still going to be an issue for a while longer, but not too much longer.

As if I needed insult to add to my physical state of affairs, today I was out trying to run very slowly and carefully, trying not to aggravate my back, which has been sore and stiff for several days, and I passed some old fart (probably not too much older than me) on a bike who was pulled off the bike path by the sidewalk, talking on the phone. As I ran by, I heard him say, "Sorry I can't concentrate on talking, a female jogger just went by me."

WTF!!??? Excuse the #$%*& outta me! Every time I think I'm old, gray, and wrinkled enough to be immune from sexist ignoramuses like that, I get reawakened. So when he finally rode by me, I said, "You're lucky I'm not in my usual condition." I woulda kicked his ass and mansplained it to him. Perhaps he needed his balls cut off and stuffed in his mouth so he'd shut up next time?

What's been happening lately is that I have gotten really fat and out of shape. I've been very inconsistent with running and I've been having back problems too, a result of sitting too much, gaining weight, and not doing the exercises that I normally do when I'm training- core, weight training, etc. And I've been a bit stressed, over miscellaneous things, which contributes to stress eating, which I've been doing, and drinking too much alcohol, which I've also been doing. One of the main sources of my stress has now been relieved somewhat.

The other morning I could barely walk down the stairs, my back was so tight and stiff. And a few other reminders- trying to stretch in order to work on my back requires that I bend forward in certain ways and I am running into a pile of flesh. That I am not used to. Unacceptable. I really do need to lose about 20 pounds.

But. The other day I had an epiphany. I really do miss ultras and I want to move forward with a few items on the back of the mind bucket list. I have always wanted to do a 6 Day race. And I want to go back to the Keys 100. Just one of those races I always have wanted to do again- so much fun and so beautiful. Dennis wants to go back there too. And I am still looking at doing Across the Years 24 hour this year, just the 24 because I am so out of shape at this point I think it would be wise for me to just run for fun, get a few miles in, as a training run and hang out with running buddies I haven't seen in a long time.

In order to get to that goal of the 6 Day race, I think it will take me at least 3 years. I'd like to do Cornbelt again or another 24 hour next year, but shoot for the 48 hour at ATY then, if I'm ready. If not, I'll push it forward another year. I can think of some other way-out-there, crazy ideas too.

I've even considered Spartathlon, though I will need to get in shape to qualify again, and then there's the problem of getting in, and then figuring it all out, and then even finishing the race itself is iffy, which would probably involve some kind of crazy strategy of racing 50 miles then walking most of final 100+ miles. Which is fine, but that's a problem for another day.

First things first. Marissa just told me she is looking at having another Fatass run this fall in Colorado. I imagine that will be 12 hours, which is a great summer goal for training, and a buildup to Across the Years.

My life has been extremely busy. I'm juggling several projects right now, and about to start on the last full chapter in the book. I'll be sending the manuscript off to the editor before I leave for any summer trips. June 30th is my deadline date, self-imposed, but I have stuck to it. The work on the Appendix will be a lot to do, but most of it is already written. It should be done in the fall, I'm hoping October, but before the holidays, anyway.

The girls have grown up! I've been super busy with them too. We ended up getting Velcro spayed a few weeks ago. We took a trip up to our property at Trout Creek Pass a few weeks ago. She was already showing some subtle signs of going into heat, and we were headed up to the mountains and I was worried about having her up there like that, with all the coyotes and other dogs up there. And bears, etc. So when we got back from our weekend up there, I made an appointment. And she definitely was in heat.

We have been going to the same vet since 1984 with all of our dogs, and we love our vet. Velcro does too, because she gladly went into the back with them, no separation anxiety in being taken away from her mom. Mom, on the other hand, had enough separation anxiety for all of us.

Velcro did fine, she didn't even need to wear her cone of shame. She was lethargic for a day and then you would never know anything happened. Gypsy is not nearly as physically mature as Velcro was at the same age, so we have time. The Gyppers is about 1000 percent more amped up with energy than her sister, so it will be a challenge keeping her calm when she has her surgery.

Oh, and my friend Megan just twisted my arm the other day into going out to Death Valley this summer and working on medical at this blog's namesake race. I swore it off, said I was retired, but I have to admit I sure miss Death Valley in the summer, and would love to see Ben and Denise Jones, John Vonhof, Don Meyer, and a lot of other people I haven't seen in some time.

We had a huge storm here last week and we had a ton of heavy wet snow that took trees down and raised hell on everything. Fortunately we were spared this time, we only lost a small maple tree, the top snapped off. But our apricot trees were fine and our garden beds only had lettuce in them at the time, so no damage. Now that I've planted tomatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, peppers and more, I am sure we'll start having hailstorms.

That's about it...not extremely exciting, as I haven't been running much at all, maybe once or twice a week and just a few miles then. I have been pretty good about getting on my feet and doing 50 or so miles a week of walking most weeks. But I've had my share of slug weeks too. I know it's going to be a challenge to get it back, but I've finally reached a point where I am mentally ready. Now I just have to fix my back, which should cooperate with some massage, stretching, and gradual return to a real training program.

I hope to make more appearances at this blog. It's just been so hard to write the book and for my other writing obligations, and then I'm not running, so there hasn't been much blog-worthy news. I hope to turn that around in a good way, soon.

Happy summer! I'll be baaaack....

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Gift of Sunshine

The sum of a person is not in the things that they’ve done, but how you feel when you’re with them, how they rub off on others around them. When I first read Morgan’s obituary, it read like a laundry list of accomplishments. While those achievements are impressive, and her personality fueled her enthusiasm and energy for those pursuits, what I remember about Morgan is her infectious smile, laugh, and quick sense of humor. It was her gift to the world, being around her felt like a sunny spring day.

I met Morgan when she opened her home to me while Dennis and I were in the process of moving back to Fort Collins from an eight year stint in Arizona. I was starting my job as a night nurse in ICU at the hospital and I had my two canine girls, Iris and Isabelle, with me. Dennis was in Arizona selling our house and getting ready to move. We hung out with Morgan and Angus for two months until we were all together and able to find our own place.

I remember her joining me as a crew and a pacing companion during one of the ultras I ran through the Vedauwoo area in Wyoming, the Rocky Mountain Double Marathon. It's a tough, hilly 52.4 mile race notorious for bad weather conditions. It was sunny, but the wind was brutal that day, and I can remember having to pee behind the car, and the wind was not cooperating. Morgan and I were giggling for miles over that.

I just remember how much fun it was to trudge the final uphill miles in the mud and wind with Morgan keeping me entertained so I didn’t notice how crazy the conditions were.

Morgan took care of our precious Australian shepherds Iris and Isabelle when we went on vacation, and Iris used to ham it up, sitting pretty on her hind legs, knowing she would get a response from Morgan.

In early January of this year, a few days before she was moved to inpatient Hospice, she texted me one day, and said she felt well enough for a visit. She wanted to meet our new puppies, Velcro and Gypsy, so I took them over for a visit, hoping they’d be well-behaved.

Morgan said she didn’t want to be remembered as she was when she was sick. I promised Morgan I would always remember that day in Wyoming, when we were as goofy as a couple of teenagers, giggling our way up the muddy hills in springtime under the freshly leafed-out, lime green aspen trees.

I’m pretty sure that’s what she’s doing now, because I can still hear her laughing.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Donut Triangle Birthday Urban Adventure

I first threatened this idea several years ago when I was still writing a running column in the local paper. It was around the time that Dunkin Donuts was making a resurgence in the local area after being gone for years.

I was thinking about themed runs for future birthdays and out of curiosity I checked on a map to see how far it was from the new Fort Collins Dunkin Donuts to the planned Windsor Dunkin Donuts. The most direct road route was 13.1 miles. How convenient. I proposed three different versions, a half marathon, marathon, and double donut marathon. That would have been perfect for my 52nd birthday. But as things turned out I wasn't focused on running at the time and the last thing I felt like doing was forcing myself to do 52 miles on a double out and back on the heavily trafficked roads between Fort Collins and Loveland.

I put the whole thing on hold for a while, and then when my friend Melody convinced me to join the Donut Running group for Donut Fridays last summer, I began thinking about it again. By then, there was also a Dunkin Donuts in Loveland. I decided it would be easier, and shorter, to do a loop hitting all the Dunkin Donuts locations. I measured it out and it came to about 35 miles, not 53, but just reverse the digits and it works.

I decided to plan it and invited a lot of running friends to come join me on a part of the loop. There are so many running events going on this time of year and spring break was coming up so I decided to choose the first weekend in March and avoid spring break. Two of my friends had just finished ultras last weekend and they wouldn't be doing it. But as it turned out I got 5 takers to join me on my urban birthday trek.

Why do I do these birthday runs? They are really just a way to do my favorite activity and be outdoors on my feet for a long time and share it with friends. It's always fun to dream up some kind of creative theme, to make things interesting. Celebrating another year of being able to do long distances on my feet, because I've learned that you can't take this stuff for granted.

I woke up around 4 am on Saturday and had coffee, the girls wanted to know what I was doing so they got up with me, but had to go in the crate when I left so Dennis could sleep. They didn't like that too much.

I ran the one mile from my house to Dunkin Donuts on south College and as soon as I arrived, Felix drove up. Felix has been on most of my birthday adventures. We had a donut, lit candles on it, and took off. The sunrise on the Mason Trail as we headed south was spectacular. One scene I never got a picture of, was the geese flying overhead in the sunrise, and the light was shining on them.

The whole way down we had a typical Felix and Alene running conversation, pointing out goofy signs along the way, joking about the medical and recreation marijuana shops all along the strip between Fort Collins and Loveland, laughing that we could stop in and work on our donut appetites. Felix and I have a long history of odd conversations at odd hours on foot, as he is the person who was with me during the infamous SpongeBob sighting in the middle of the night at Badwater.

Felix had to be at the airport later in the morning so he said he would run as far as he could with me but then had to turn around and go back to his car. He stayed with me all the way into Loveland, at the Walmart on Garfield. It was only two and a half more miles to the Loveland Dunkin Donuts.

There I took a little break, charged my phone and used the bathroom. It was breakfast time and there a huge line. I didn't think I'd be able to get a donut before having to get going toward Windsor, but the line died down and I got my donut fix.

I took off after about twenty minutes and started heading back north to the bike path across from Walmart. Once I got off the Rambo running stretch on 287, it was a relief. Quiet, peaceful, no traffic on the bike path. The day was shaping up to be beautiful. I went east on the bike bath past Boyd Lake and north to county road 30, taking it east past the stinky cow farm to the frontage road along I-25.

On the way across the bike path I was thinking about the Walmart run, when my friend Morgan was still with us, she joined us on that run. I could hear her voice and see her smile. I miss her so much. I'll be writing a post about her in the next few weeks.

I stuck my music in my ears and proceeded at a fast powerwalking pace with a few brief running bursts in between. It was a relief to be by myself on a long run again. I didn't have to think about anything, just moving forward, listening to music, from donut stop to donut stop.

I needed a break, to get away from the house and from thinking. So much mental work in my life right now. It was refreshing to have a puppy break, as much as I missed them and wanted puppy kisses along the way, it felt so good not to be constantly vigilant for chewing, barking, digging, and all the other forms of mischief I have to watch for while I work at home each day.

I crossed I-25 at highway 392 and took that east on the shoulder all the way to the Windsor Dunkin Donuts. That was the worst stretch other than 287. The cars were whizzing by fast, and lots of big macho loud trucks. I had my music and could ignore the noise.
At the Windsor Dunkin Donuts I had to text several people who were planning on meeting me later on. Jacob was going to meet me at Strauss Cabin and Kechter, and Crisann and Andy were meeting me at Harmony and Timberline, and Jen would find us and meet us somewhere between there and the finish. I took a half hour break, shed some extra layers of clothing, ate more than a donut, and got more drinks. I took off for the final leg of the triangle around 12:15.

As I ran north I wanted to connect with the county road that would allow me to avoid 392 again, but I wasn't sure which one it was. Fortunately I saw some people walking and I asked them, and got on the right road. I headed west toward Fort Collins past the dairy farms and ranches with a spectacular view of the Front Range, Longs Peak, Mummy Range, and Indian Peaks.

I was surprised at how much traffic was on the road going west. It used to be a lot quieter out there but there are so many people living in Windsor now, traffic is heavy. No one tried to run me off the road, fortunately. Then I had the narrow-to-no shoulder section of 1.5 miles going north to Kechter. That's the road that connects the Timnath Walmart and Costco to Highlands Ranch and the golf courses. Lots of traffic there, too.

After crossing I-25 again, Jacob was waiting at the top of the hill for me. My timing was perfect, I anticipated 1:45 pm and got there on the nose. We had a good conversation and he offered his house nearby in case I needed a bathroom, water, or anything, but I was doing fine and feeling good. I had some hot spots on my heels but other than that I felt fine. I wasn't getting enough salt because my fingers were all puffy, so I made a mental note to dump some S caps in a drink when I stopped on Timberline.

Going north on Timberline, Jacob ran with me until we met up with Andy and Crisann. We took off and stopped at a gas station so I could buy a cold drink and I got an ice sandwich. As if 4 donuts weren't enough sugar. Ice cream sandwiches are one of my favorite running foods, and this hit the spot.

We caught the Power Trail going north to Centennial, and Jen joined us about 2 miles from the finish. Jen has also been there for my past urban adventure birthday runs. We went west to Lemay and Swallow, then west on Swallow back to the Fort Collins Dunkin Donuts. It was 10 hours and 19 minutes including all the stops and breaks along the way, and 36 miles.

Crisann's husband Dave met us there and joined us for a celebratory donut, my fourth of the day, took our finish line picture, and then they gave me a ride home, which I was thankful for.

The girls were thrilled to see me. Dennis was working on a puppy fence in the back yard to protect our garden boxes from the wild diggers. I felt pretty good, but my neck, shoulders and low back are sore from carrying my pack all day. Legs feel fine today, just stiff, and a few tender spots on my feet that would have blistered had I been out any longer.

I am so glad I finally did this thing and got it behind me. Now I no longer have this hanging over my head. I can move on to other, non-donut-themed, urban adventures. Felix and I did notice that there is now a fifth Walmart, so perhaps my 55th birthday run will have another Walmart theme, but no guarantees. For now, I'm just glad to be able to stay upright and moving forward, and to have another birthday.

Happy donuts, everyone. Thanks to all my friends who joined me on foot and in spirit! Now I need to get busy losing this 20 pound weight I'm carrying around! No more donuts for me!

photo credits: Felix Wong

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Lawyers, Guns and Money

That's the song that was in my head when I woke up this morning. For some weird reason. And then I realized it was the manifestation of all the insanity that's happening in Washington DC. If you don't know the lyrics, check this out:

Just thought I'd share that for fun! Could be the theme song for POTUS Number 45.

I haven't posted because life has simply been too busy, between trying to write a little for the book but having fifty gazillion distractions over the past few weeks. Now I am excited to get back into a routine.

I got on the scale and exceeded my previous highest weight ever, so now I can say I do have 20 pounds to lose and I have set a goal of the end of the year, I think two pounds a month is reasonable. I'm not going to restrict myself very much, just pay better attention to eating smaller portions, trying not to stress eat and drink, which I realized has been a problem for me since about November (hmm...)

Running-wise I have been fairly consistent getting the miles on my feet. I want to build up to where I feel comfortable with signing up for at least the 24 hour at Across the Years. I'd like to do the 48 hour but I'll have to see how this year unfolds. I'm thinking about the six-day race in a few years, maybe for my 55th birthday goal.

Speaking of birthdays, I'm having a Donut Triangle Run next weekend. It's about 53 km but probably a little more than that. I have decided that if the weather sucks, I'm not doing it. I have nothing to prove, and I don't feel like being miserable.

I held a workshop 2 weeks ago that went well, I might do some other ones occasionally on different topics. I have an art show/display coming up, I'll have my work at Elevation 5003 Distillery here in Fort Collins during the month of March.
The girls continue to grow. Velcro now has most of her adult teeth and Gypsy is starting to get hers. Gypsy still looks little to me but se has grown, a lot. She just looks small compared to Velcro. We've been hiking, and the weather's been so warm we've been dipping our toes in the Poudre River. The girls love the water.

Last weekend was the Human Powered Brewery Tour, which we attended with the girls. We only went to New Belgium and Odell, neither of us had the energy. The girls did well. Other than trying to steal our beer, they enjoyed seeing all the people and the other dogs. Gypsy barked a lot, she is learning to make her voice heard. We start obedience training next week. I can't wait.

I was talking with a friend the other day and we shared our coping mechanisms since the Trumpocalypse started. I think we are getting a little better handle on living with the uncertainty and insanity, though it's still stressful because every day you wake up not knowing what else he has in store for you.

I've been calling my pathetic excuse for a Senator Cory Gardner who is afraid to meet with the public. These buffoons are so scared now, they know they have pissed off their constituents and the ones who have held public meetings run away and escape through the back door. They make excuses and say things like there are paid protesters. I wish I could get paid for this!

They think they are entitled to their positions as elected officials but they need to remember they work for ALL of us, not just Republicans. I have been calling for nearly a month and only twice I have spoken to an actual staffer. I get tired of leaving voicemails, but I continue to do it.

I went to the Planned Parenthood rally in Old Town a couple of weeks ago and there was a great turnout. If Obama was so bad, why weren't people marching in the streets and calling their elected officials and demanding public accountability then? This has taken the lazy, self-interested politicians by surprise. They were so comfortable in their jobs and not having to deal with a crush of phone calls and angry protesters all the time.

I have a call with my mentor/publisher this morning and I'm really excited about my progress despite the distractions. I'm looking forward to getting back into a routine.

Oh, and did I mention? Spring is here. Crocuses are blooming, little green leaves are opening up on the bushes, and this morning it's raining. February at 5000 feet and 40N latitude. Just a little early.

Back to work. I want to post more, and that might happen now that I can focus on writing. See you again soon. Thanks for reading!