Scatter my ashes here...

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


These past few months, I spent a lot of time struggling with writing. I can still whip out a blogpost when necessary, but I didn’t have anything meaningful in my running that I wanted to write about on this blog.

Running has been much more of a struggle than writing, and considering that both of those passions of mine have been difficult lately, it's been a real challenge pulling it all together. Now that solstice is past and the days are getting longer, and January 1 is the first day of spring, I can see the light again.

Running on bricks
I ran a twelve-hour run in September and my legs felt the same at the beginning of the run as they did at the end, like running on bricks instead of muscles. It’s a weird feeling, your legs having this vague soreness or fatigue all the time, no matter what you do. It’s not like you feel it when you’re just sitting around, but as soon as you do the minimum of effort or exertion, it feels like you’ve been doing sprints.

The runners at There Goes the Sun 12 Hour
I pushed through the 12 hour and despite having trained a significant amount more this year than I did the previous year, and running a lot more of the time during the event, I only ended up with one more mile than last year. 47 instead of 46. That was disappointing enough, and it took the wind out of my sails to continue training for the 48 hour at Across the Years. I just didn’t feel like I wanted my legs to feel like that for 2 days. It’s not fun.
I backed off on my expectations and signed up for the 24 hour without any goals and I’ve basically blown off training for the past 3 months, not much mileage at all. I haven’t been running 5 days a week like I was, either. I’ve been walking, but not even doing a lot of that. Since September, my longest runs have been 10 miles on the Bacon Strip with some hills, until 3 weeks ago I went out and ran 10 miles late on a Saturday followed by 20 miles early on Sunday with two Bacon Strip loops, giving me 30 miles within 24 hours, and that was it.

Bacon Strip scenery
Soon after the crappy 12 hour, I realized what I’d been suspecting all along in my training runs was the problem. I went on statins a year before, and a common side effect is muscle pain. It did help my cholesterol somewhat, but I didn’t enjoy the way my legs felt running. It made me not want to run any harder because it already felt like I’d done a hard workout. Pushing the pace was out of the question.

I talked with my doctor and we decided to try going off the statin and recheck my cholesterol in 3 months, thinking I could change my diet a bit and increase the amount and intensity of running.

I do have occasional days now when my legs feel better, but they only seem to happen about once a week. I don’t know if the statins did long-term or permanent damage to my muscles, I hope not, but I certainly don’t feel like I have any level of fitness to push myself.

I have not changed my diet other than stopping eating wheat. I had success with that a few years back but that was before menopause, and I was still running intensely. The intensity of running is not there, so I am curious to see how my labs turn out when I get them drawn next month.

For the past year and a half I’ve been boxing, which helps my core and my upper body somewhat. But for the past 6 months I’ve only been going to class once a week, it just takes too much time to attend more classes than that with driving there and back, so I do my favorite class on Monday mornings and that’s it.

A couple of months ago my running friends Jill and Crisann started doing yoga at a nearby studio and they like it a lot, finally they convinced me to come to a class, which I did, and I ended up liking it so much I got a membership and now I am doing yoga 3 or 4 times a week.

This is recent, so we’ll see how that plays out over the next several months. It’s much closer to my house so there’s less travel time, and there are a variety of classes available, fitness, relaxation, restorative, mentally and physically challenging, and hot, and I am realizing what it takes to unwind a body that’s been running tightly wound for 35 years. This January is my 35th anniversary since I started running.

Yoga and Me
Yoga is something I have always been drawn to naturally since I was young. I never realized what I’ve been doing all along is a modified form of yoga- just not always with the breathing and mental parts.

When I was 13 in 8th grade and living in Pennsylvania when my parents got divorced, the first place we moved with my mom was to an apartment in Haverford. Around the same time, I somehow discovered this book called Yoga for Americans by Indra Devi. I can remember spending the afternoons between the time I’d get home from school and when my younger brother and sister got home from school, in the living room, next to the wall, doing yoga every day. I went through the whole book and learned all the poses and pretty much devoured every bit of information in the book. I can’t even remember what drew me to the book, I think I found it in a health food store. Remember those?

Copyright 1959!

At the time it was probably the thing that saved me from going in directions with my life that would have been detrimental to my long term and future mental and physical health. Junior high was hell, I was one of those kids who didn’t fit in. Every day at school was like a gauntlet of torment and nastiness, all at a time when I was adjusting to my parents splitting up, living with my mom in an apartment, and having new babysitting and cooking duties expected of me when my brother and sister were home, since my mom was working.

At the same time, I was adjusting to new kids in the neighborhood, going through my early teen years and trying to figure out who the hell I was. At 13, afternoon yoga in my living room gave me discipline and devotion to a practice that grounded me in that whirlwind of early teen hormones and daily peer abuse in which I was otherwise steeped, and simultaneously dealing with the uncomfortable living arrangement with my mom, because we did not get along. Fortunately, my dad whisked me off to Arizona the following year, but yoga kept me sane during one of the hardest times of my life.

A few months ago, I was thinking about it and decided to see if I could find a copy of the same book. I have been drawn to return to doing yoga because I feel I need it, it’s a calming influence on my life, it’s good for me because I stretch, build strength, and clear my mind. I found a reprint of it, even though the original book is out of print, and bought it on Amazon.

I had just started to go through it again when Jill and Crisann started talking about yoga. It made perfect sense.

We are also about to install new flooring and carpet in the upstairs of our house in January, I cleaned out all the garbage that has accumulated in the guest bedroom since we moved into the house 12 years ago. We painted, and I am turning the room into a relaxation/yoga/meditation/stretching space once we get the vinyl flooring. I painted the walls two different colors of blue, and the flooring will look like a light gray oak with slightly bluish tones to it. I can't wait!
Now that Velcro and Gypsy are grown up enough not to be eating the walls and woodwork and are past the puppy stage, it’s time to replace the old carpet upstairs too. We’ll be doing that at the same time. Dennis is going to paint the hallway and trim while I’m in Arizona for Across the Years, and then the carpet gets installed in January. And as soon as we replace the carpet, we are having the ducts cleaned. It will feel so good to get rid of the old dirt and dust.

Still fat
And yes, I am still fat. Not any fatter than I was at this time last year, but I haven’t made any progress at all on the eating changes and exercise intensity front. Except for not eating wheat. I have cut back on the alcohol- not drinking beer anymore, but over the holidays I’ve been indulging a bit. I think we have it out of the house as of tonight- I finished the last of it.

If my legs ever start to feel better, as I’m hoping they will with the addition of yoga and cutting back on the number of days a week I’m running, I am counting on being able to up the intensity as soon as I recover from Across the Years. I’m planning a bunch of events early this year, all for fun but to keep me on top of my training for different conditions- hills, trails, speed, and so on.

I know losing 20 or so pounds would help my lipid profile too. I need to just get with it and I know I can. Things are looking up. I can quit stress eating and drinking. The new Democratic controlled Congress gets sworn in on January 3 and as crazy as the Orange Fuhrer is right now, at least it doesn’t feel completely and utterly hopeless knowing there will be some balance in the Capitol.

Looking forward
I intend to have fun in Arizona and stay focused forward at Across the Years. Whatever happens is fine, I do hope I feel better than I expect to. Undertraining can be a good thing sometimes. My friend Dale Perry (Sasquatch) is running and he’s going to kick my butt. He’s been running his ass off and he’s on chemo. I’m glad he feels so good. Don’t tell him, but my secret ambition is to not have my butt kicked too bad by Sasquatch. Like, by no more than 10 miles or so.
Sizing up Sasquatch pre-race.
I have to admit, that 6-day race is still rattling around in the back of my head. The other day Dennis and I were talking about it, I said, “maybe by age 60 I’ll do it” and he said, “Don’t wait too long.” Good advice. I was really glad I didn’t wait until 50 to do the Badwater double, because too many things changed in those 3 years.

I need to just get myself in a place where I’m ready to dive in. And you never know how long the race will be around, knock on wood, Aravaipa will continue to host it. Guess I need to get my shit together.

Speaking of getting shit together, I have one more day around here wrapping things up at home and for work, and then it’s off to Arizona.

I guess if I back up and look at myself now in the big picture, I’m just going through another life change again- another adjustment to this phase of my life without estrogen, trying to figure out how to master the art of aging while still being an athlete. Hopefully this is just a phase and I’ll get it figured out and bounce forward. Yoga could prove to be helpful again this time.

I’m working slowly on an updated philosophy post, which might come together soon after Across the Years. I’ll check back in before the race, if the mood strikes me, but I really do want to write a race report blogpost after this year’s event. And, by the way, if you're so inclined, you can check out race progress at Across the Years here. The link might not be live until the race starts, but I'm running from 9 am December 30th to 9 am December 31st, Mountain Time.

See you soon!

Monday, December 24, 2018

A New Look

Yes, you're in the right place.

It's time to refresh and renew, I've been feeling dusty and rusty lately and the new blog look is long overdue. I might continue to make a few tweaks to the look over the next few weeks, but I like this one.

Again, I've been seriously slacking at blogging, and running too. Lots of stuff going on, and just re-adjusting and tuning the different parts of my life. I'm doing fine, just trying to figure out running in a body that isn't the same as it was ten years ago, or even five years ago. I've had to do some experimentation and as much as I hate the cliche, soul-searching.

The political climate has been a small factor, but I feel much better since the election, even though things are pretty shaky at this moment in terms of what the Orange Fuhrer is going to do next without any supervision. If we can just make it to January 3 when the new Congress is sworn in, I can stop holding my breath. It's just that this narcissist and his band of deniers have triggered just about every bad experience from my life and figuring out how to deal with it has been a real challenge.

Mostly, I just can't get myself to sit in front of the laptop and write. Maybe it's leftover burnout from writing the book, but I also do quite a bit of work in terms of gainful employment in front of the screen, and I really haven't been doing too many runs worthy of blogposts lately, so there are my excuses.

I am headed to Arizona in a few days to take part in my New Years ritual, Across the Years. I was all pumped up earlier in the year to make a partial comeback and run the 48 hour event, but after my frustrating experience with the statins (see my next post or two) and feeling like I had a body transplant, and not in a good way- I decided to drop back to the fun run version and not set any goals, and just use the time on the course to zone out and enjoy.

I do plan to write a blog post recapping the past few months before I run Across the Years, once I settle in to my dad's house in Arizona. And I also plan to write a new philosophical post soon, I've been working on it in my head, but haven't sat down to put it into words. I wrote my old one ten years ago and it's time for an update.

I'm excited about what the coming year holds in terms of running and some of the other things I've been doing. And I am not burned out on running, buy any stretch. Check out my calendar for early 2019. I'm just going to do some different things and shake it up and spend fewer days each week running, since my longtime habits of running nearly every day don't seem to be working on this aging body.

In the interest of time and needing to get to my boxing class this morning, I will stop here, but I am not going away. I'm looking forward to sharing on this blog again. Thanks for sticking with me despite my long absences. And, Merry Christmas.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Time and Trauma = TNT

Caution: This post contains some four letter words. Don't read it if you don't like it. 

This morning I went running on Coyote Ridge with a group of women I run with regularly. It was spitting a light mist and everything was socked in- visibility was minimal. It wasn't very cold but I left the house without much extra clothing, a jacket or a hat, planning on not running more than 10 miles.

The trail was wet but not muddy, and I couldn't see the foothills around me, just shadows in the fog. It has a way of closing you in and protecting you.

It was precisely what I needed.

This past week was the week of the now and forever infamous Senate Judiciary committee hearings on the allegations of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, nominee for the Supreme Court.

It's been a week filled with talking heads, 24 hour news coverage, contention, hostility, anger, and ugliness.

I wanted to reach through the screen into that Senate hearing room, beyond the "female assistant" (WTF- she's a professional prosecutor, not your damn water boy), and throttle Chuck Grassley and the other senile fuck faces on the GOP side. I wanted to yell to Kavanaugh's wife, Run!!

We just saw the ugliness of power, of rich white male entitlement, on both sides of the hearing- on the Republican Senators side, and on Brett Kavanaugh's side.

I hadn't planned on watching any of it, I had work to do. I turned the laptop on before 8 am and saw a link to the live hearing, and clicked on it. And at 11 am, I was still in my bathrobe, with a cold cup of coffee sitting next to me, glued to the screen. I had to get out for an appointment so it was time to get dressed and peel myself away from the chair.

A little later I came back and managed to catch the part of the hearing where the prosecutor from Arizona asked Kavanaugh some questions, before they sent her packing.

I have some other blogposts I want to write, like about my 12 hour run last weekend, and my current challenge with having decided to go off statins, but this whole political nightmare has pretty much consumed my focus since the middle of last week. I'll get to those other topics later, but for now...

So much I want to say, but in a way, I don't have the emotional resources to say it now. I am wiped out. This week was so intense, watching the hearings, reliving past events, memories of things coming back that I haven't thought of in forever, many of which stir up anger and resentment even decades later. Some are minor and trivial, others were major and traumatic.

I am where I am. I have chosen to be where I am now. But when I am reminded of the events leading to the ways the course of my life has been altered by male privilege and entitlement and sexism, I go between feeling sick to my stomach and angry and disgusted. Things have not changed that much since the 1980s when I was in college as well. And white male entitlement has not changed much...though it is dying, it won't go out without a fight, as we saw on clear display this past Thursday in front of the entire country.

When I think of the things I experienced and witnessed throughout my life around male entitlement, both the traumatic experiences and the less traumatic but absolutely frustrating and enraging crap, having to endure the attitudes of entitlement, guessing at the rules because they never told you the rules, and constantly resisting and unlearning everything they tried to stuff into our heads about how girls and boys should be...

It's all been said so many times in so many places this week, I don't need to repeat it here. Privileged rich white boy finally runs into accountability- his good ole boy buddies in the Senate try to save him by paying lip service to "hearing" the accusations, but won't change a thing, digging their heels in, until drama ensues...and now we have to wait to see the results of the drama and see if the FBI investigation doesn't get micromanaged in ways that will continue to "protect" the public from the truth, and leading to the lifetime appointment of yet another alumnus of the school of beer-and-dick for brains.

What I am thankful for today are the many men in my life who are not Brett Kavanaughs or Orrin Hatches or Chuck Grassleys or Lindsey Grahams or Joe Kennedys or the other bloviating arrogant aging frat boys who think Kavanaugh deserves this promotion because of what he has between his legs regardless of what he did with it.

And I am thankful that I don't have children of my own who might become the prey of such horrible examples of humanity.

What does make me angry are the women who support this piggish display of male good ole frat boy culture. Makes me think those women are bitter and hurt. That they have never been kind to themselves. That they too have experienced this crap but buried it and did the pull yourself up by your bootstraps they have unhealed wounds and attack other women. I don't know if that's true, but I just don't understand women who think sexual assault is something to take lightly. It makes me think these are the women who raise their boys and girls to be assholes and bullies.

As for Kavanaugh, what an arrogant little shit he was in high school and college, and still is. Not expressing compassion for his accuser in any way. Completely unconcerned with the fact that she is traumatized for life. His wife looks like an abused woman. He looks like an alcoholic, and acts like one in his denial. His juvenile answers to the committee, his lack of self-control in front of the committee and the entire country, who in the hell acts like that except for a spoiled preschooler?

And then there are the trivialities, random memories that came back this week, things that were said and done to me along the way that ranged on the spectrum from disrespectful to earthshattering. And there is a lot more, and worse, that I won't share here. And I won't even begin to talk about the crap I've endured while running. Yeah, #metoo.

  • Fuck you you little asshole in the school yard in third grade who attacked me with a tree branch while calling me JewGirl, but I got in trouble for kicking you in the balls. 
  • Fuck you little snot-nosed turd in my sixth grade class who told me I was fat, on his way to college at Swarthmore and becoming an attorney.
  • Fuck you, asshole hockey player who tried to push his way into my dorm room freshman year.
  • Fuck you, forestry professor who asked me if I was there for my MRS degree.
  • Fuck you, football and wrestling coaches who wanted me to let their athletes get away with "independent study" to maintain their eligibility for sports instead of doing the real work like the other students. (Funny how the female coaches and female athletes never asked for these entitlements)
  • Fuck you, administrators in higher ed and healthcare who wanted me to keep my mouth shut, not ask questions, and put up with your bullshit uneven playing field for women.
  • Fuck you, you former frat boys who never matured past your beer-soaked pats on the back unspoken agreements to help each other up the ladder to success while you used our shoulders and our ideas as stepping stones.
  • Fuck you, professor Fuck Faces in the 80s and 90s hiring no women professors to act as mentors or examples for us to look up to, so we were stuck with the arrogant pricks who told us things like "Your ideas have no place in our discipline".


The fog was therapeutic this morning as I could finally let go of some of the emotions- no one could see my tears or my clenched fists or vocalized rage. But it also made me think, this is how those POWDERs (pasty old white dudes explaining righteously) want us to be- in the fog, unable to see clearly. Keeping the truth from us. Well boys, the fog is burning off. Time's up.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Clear Skies!

I needed to get some miles in this week, but I didn't have a lot of time to plan something. Decided I wanted to get a long run in, but it was easier to split it up into two days. I settled on 50 miles broken up into 30 and 20. That way I didn't have to rest so much or plan- both days could be low key, just a little longer than my normal run.

I woke up super early for some reason on Wednesday and got out the door by 4:45 am to start my 30 miles. I ran for about three hours and watched the sun rise, then came back to the house, got Velcro and Gypsy, and took them for about an hour run, then brought them home so I could finish my miles. All went well, I felt good, and kept a decent pace all morning.

I ran into two people I know at the lake, one is a runner I see often over there since he lives by the lake, and the other was a surgeon who is now retired, but I used to work with him when I worked in ICU. We stopped and talked briefly looking at the lake. He said something about next time there being snow. I'm not quite ready for that, but it will happen soon enough. It sort of feels like an early fall, it's been cool in the mornings and the trees seem to be changing colors earlier than usual. The sky was so clear today, I could see the Indian Peaks south of Longs Peak, which I haven't been able to see all summer, with all the smoke from the fires everywhere.

I got done with the run feeling like it was no different than my usual 10 to 12 miles, got some things done in the afternoon, pulled 40 pounds of grapes from our vines off the stems, ate dinner and went to bed.

This morning I woke up later and took the girls for the first 6 miles of my 20. As we rounded the lake I saw two people walking, a man and a woman, and the man looked somewhat familiar. I saw him look in my direction too, but we ran by and he didn't say anything. I wracked my brain to try to figure out who he was and how I knew him, then it hit me like a lightning bolt- he worked at the hospital too. I remember talking with him as he was often working part of his day in the ICU.

As we turned around to run back toward the lake, they had turned around and were heading toward us. This time we looked at each other and stopped- and yes, it was him. We hugged each other and he introduced me to his friend, who also worked at the hospital. Now they are both retired. He introduced me as "used to be an oncology nurse" and I told him that I still am, briefly told him what I'd been doing since I left the hospital. He's been gone from there about as long as I have been. He said he was glad to see me and also said he's always happy to see people who thrive after leaving that place, and his friend nodded. He said he was really glad to leave such a toxic work environment.

It's funny because now I clearly remember the day I was so pissed off at my boss, who had terrible management skills, and I was ready to tell her to shove it up her ass. I left the hospital crying that day and that night I wrote my letter of resignation. As I was leaving work, I ran into this same person I saw at the lake today, and he gave me a hug then and wished me well. He knew at the time that there was so much bullshit going on in the hospital. I'm glad he got out, too.

I brought the girls back to the house and went out again, first stopping at the donut shop because I was hungry and it was conveniently located. I didn't plan for much running food, so I ate what was easy to find. After that I went south of where I usually run, and made a stop about three miles from home for an ice cream sandwich and cold water, as it was getting hot and my water bottle were getting warm. I felt fine, like I did any old run. I can definitely feel my fitness and endurance have improved since the beginning of the year.

After my treat, I finished my 20 miles, and spent the afternoon making tomato bisque soup from our tomatoes and putting the de-stemmed grapes into plastic bags to freeze so I can make jam in a few weeks when I have time. I'll be doing a little traveling for a while, and then There Goes the Sun 12 hour run is on the day of the Fall Equinox. After that I'll have 3 more months to get ready for Across the Years!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Eighty Miles for an Ice Cream Sandwich

After the Summer DIY mis-adventure, I was feeling a bit frustrated about my progress in running. I needed something challenging that I could do with a minimum of preparation and fuss. I wanted to get 80 miles in 24 hours that day but it was not my day. I decided to fall back on a strategy I used while getting ready for Badwater, which was back to back long days. I decided to do 80 miles split up into two days, which would give me the opportunity to recover between the runs by sleeping a full night, as well as two consecutive days of running, like the 48 hour I am training for, and to avoid worrying about a safe place to run at night, as I would be done before dark, or close to it.

I chose a Friday and Saturday so I didn't use up my whole weekend, and I'd have time to rest on Sunday. I wanted to get some work done in the garden, pick some grapes to make jelly since they were getting ripe fast, and get to the Farmer's Market for green chiles on Sunday. The plan was to run 40 miles each day, for a total of 80. I wanted to get each day's miles in under 12 hours each day if possible. I didn't know how I'd feel and it was supposed to get fairly warm, around 90 degrees. I planned to do out and backs from the house and shorten them up as the day got warmer so I could access the ice for my neck. I also wanted to get a minimum of 6 hours of actual running in for the weekend.

I woke up at 4 am on Friday and got out the door at 4:48. My first stop was at Lamar's donuts to meet the donut Friday group. I figured I'd get a few miles in before I met everyone, run a few with them, and hang out for a short time before going on to get the rest of my miles in. I ate two donuts, one before the group run, and one after. It was nice and cool in the morning and I took advantage of it.

As it got warmer I decided to stop by a convenience store I have been to many times and get an ice cream sandwich. I went in, and they had no ice cream at all! This is after 30 miles of running! I was getting close to the end of my day so I decided finish up closer to my neighborhood and I went to two more different stores, and NO ice cream sandwiches!

I finished up soon after at 2:55 pm, getting my miles in their entirety, with 5 hours of running, and the whole thing in 10:07 which included all the stops. I felt good about that, and I didn't feel tired. I felt like I could have kept going, but I didn't want to be greedy. I wanted to get some good miles in the next day.

I ate dinner, had a beer, got some sleep, and decided to save the ice cream sandwich hunt for the next day.

Saturday morning I woke up early again before my alarm went off. I left the house at 4:55 am, and ran toward the east side of town. About two miles from my house I was near Fort Collins High School, running through a park, and looked up into the sky, which was just barely getting light, and I saw a giant meteor- it looked like a comet! The Perseid meteor showers were that weekend but I had not planned my run around them. I saw a few other sparkles in the sky after that but nothing like the huge flying spectacle I was lucky enough to catch.

I ran a loop around Rigden Reservoir. Looked like someone had quite the party the night before- with fast food trash bags and syringes. The opioid epidemic is here, too. Unless they were someone's insulin syringes, but I doubt it- why would they use so many?

The morning stayed cool and I stuck to the neighborhoods on the east side of town, they had plenty of shade. I didn't even go home until 22 miles to put ice on my neck. But I did stop at the corner of Timberline and Vermont, near the high school, at 15 miles, it was only 8:47 am, but I didn't care- and they had one last ice cream sandwich, just what I was looking for, in the case. The traditional vanilla ice cream between two rectangular chocolate wafers.

I savored every bite of that sandwich and kept going. I was so excited to find the ice cream sandwich that I forgot I needed to buy more cold drinks, so after a short out & back, I had to go back to the gas station again. Good thing I ate the last ice cream sandwich or I would have probably bought another one!

The day got a little warmer than Friday, but I was still making good time. I only ran a little over two hours on Saturday, but it put me over my goal for the weekend as far as running time, by more than an hour. And, I decided to hit the gas station at Lemay and Harmony for another ice cream sandwich around 30 miles. Just as I was headed south on Lemay about a half mile before I got there, I got a text from my friend Serena.

She and her boyfriend Colin were out shopping, saw ice cream sandwiches, and thought of me, and they decided to find me and deliver one to me! They caught up with me right around 31 miles and I got to indulge in another delicious perfect treat. Serena and Colin are moving to Reno next week, which I am sad about, but very happy for them, because they have a great opportunity there.

It was warm the last few miles but I was still feeling good. I made it home at 3:17 pm, after 10:22 on my feet including all breaks. I could feel my feet a little, but I still felt good and had plenty of energy.

But mostly I was happy to have made my goals for the weekend, without any trouble, and exceeded my expectations. I was worried about being so unfit and not ready for my plans to train for the 48 hour at Across the Years, but this run put my mind at ease and I feel so much better.

I had plenty of energy left on Sunday to do all the chores- I peeled and packaged and froze a bushel of green chiles, I picked 20 pounds of grapes, and a ton of tomatoes, made a pizza with sauce from those tomatoes, and felt like the training is finally paying off.

It is really hard to come back from a break- much more so than it was even 5 or 10 years ago. I can feel the difference my age makes. But I've been persistent for a year now, and I feel I am finally getting some of the endurance back. Speed will come later as I choose to work on it- I'm not looking to get fast, I just want to do some more intense workouts to help build my strength and be able to hold a faster pace for longer. Just for ultras. And that's not really speed. It's just for running more comfortably at a little faster pace than my current 11 minute mile average.

I did go to boxing on Monday and I got so sore. I expected to bounce back from the weekend, but I don't know why I thought that. I was tired. I ended up taking Tuesday off and this morning, Wednesday, I ran the girls 6.5 miles early in the day and found my legs pretty sore afterward. I'm no spring chicken.

But I am happy now. I have Marissa's 12 hour run- There Goes The Sun- coming up next month. And then I'll have 3 more months to train for the 48 hour. I can finally say I'm looking forward to the training. And with the cooler weather, hopefully there will be more ice cream sandwiches available...

Summer Blogging Challenge

My friend Nancy Stordahl is one of my favorite bloggers and she always posts things that get me thinking. She writes a blog about breast cancer and loss. She provides the inspiration for many of my posts, here and in the oncology nursing articles I write. This time she has asked a dozen questions for a blogging challenge to share with readers and other bloggers. If you're new to this blog you can learn a little more about me and my blog.

Here are the questions and answers:
1. How long have you been blogging (or reading blogs)?

I started blogging in January 2008. I've been reading blogs since before that, but my decision to finally run Badwater after dreaming of it for years got me going on this blog, and I haven't stopped blogging since.

2. How has your blog changed?

It has changed from the main topic being running ultras to a variety of things I'm passionate about. I still blog about ultras, but I don't compete or race as often as I used to. For me it's more about getting out and enjoying being outdoors and moving, and the spiritual, mental, and physical benefits (probably in that order, too!) I get from it. I write a lot about nurse advocacy and healthcare, cancer, as well as politics and my own thought processes while I'm out there moving forward on my feet. I like speaking my mind and every so often I've pissed someone off with what I write, which tells me I'm doing it well.

3. What is your biggest blogging challenge/frustration?

Having enough time and energy to write the posts when so much of what I do for work involves writing. It's hard sometimes to want to write for fun, and often I want to write something, but I can't bring myself to sit on my butt for any more hours.

4. What is your favorite post that you’ve written (or read)?

My favorite posts that I've written have to be the series I wrote about Badwater- my first time running it, my second time running it as a double, and my experiences on the medical team and what I learned. Also, the "So ya think ya want to run Badwater" has been the most viewed post. As far as reading blogposts, the old classic from Larry Gassan about people whining at ultras has to be my favorite all time post- it's funny and timeless.

5. What are your goals for your blog?

To convey what goes on in my mind when I get out there and do long miles on my feet. To show the thought processes that result from running ultras, and how they support my mental and spiritual health, and creativity. And I hope it shows other people that it's okay to be different and think differently from the mainstream.

6. How many blogs do you read on a regular basis?

Wow. I couldn't even count them, but my favorite blogs range in content from healthcare, cancer, politics, news and current events, nursing, food, and miscellaneous interesting topics I find randomly. I read at least several blogposts a day.

7. How do you determine what to share and what not to share; in other words, do you have blog boundaries? (or comment boundaries)

I have to be careful when it comes to healthcare and cancer, just to protect the privacy of people, and I don't want to post anything embarrassing to someone when it comes to any topic. But I don't hold my feelings back.

8. When things get hard, what keeps you blogging?

Knowing there are readers who have stuck with me and do read my posts. A lot of times they comment to me personally via email or in person if they live nearby, or on Facebook, instead of in the comment section, so I know they are reading. And there are followers out there who I find out about- who don't list themselves as followers in the Google sense of the word. Sometimes it can take me months to finally catch up on a topic, but I do get around to it. While I was writing my book that was the hardest time to keep blogging, since the book was published, I have been better about keeping up with the blog.

9. What is your biggest Cancer Land pet peeve today, right now, this minute?

People who treat cancer like it's a race or sporting event. When they tell a person with cancer "you got this!" or "keep fighting" or the other cliches from CancerLand. Who are they to say these things? I know they mean well, but they sound so stupid. Like a cheerleader with pink pom-poms. How do they know the person has "got this"? How do they know "fighting" is going to help? It's like they have this back channel to a divine power who assures them that their friend with cancer is going to be okay? I am sure the person's family and oncologist would like to know that too... I hear it so often, it just gets really tiresome. That's one of the things I wish they would read my book for- to understand that there are better ways to support people with cancer, and to learn something real and useful about cancer before they are faced with it, in themselves or someone close to them, so they can be part of the solution, instead of exacerbating the problem and giving false hope because it makes them feel better about their own fears.

That probably sounds judgmental and harsh but that's how I experience that social phenomenon.

10. What one piece of advice would you offer to a new blogger?

Do it, write what you want, don't worry how you sound. Your readers will find you and you'll attract a following. Just keep at it. If people don't like it, they don't have to read it.

11. Share something most people do not know about you. A secret sort of thing.

When I'm not out running, my favorite thing to do is be home with my dogs and just hanging out. I'd rather do that than be around other people.

12. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Playing with my dogs and scratching their bellies, gardening, cooking, hanging out with Dennis (my husband) and photographing scenery and landscapes, in hopes that someday I'll get motivated to paint in pastels again.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Summer Urban Adventure: DIY 50 Miles

The race I'd signed up for on July 21, the Lactic Acid Trip 24 hour, in Bailey, on a track, got postponed until October. Since I don't know that I can make it and the weather could be an issue in October, I decided to make my own 24 hour run. I asked around for some places where I felt I could run safely all night in a loop that would allow me easy and frequent access to my aid station. My friends Crisann, Felix, and Joanne all live in a quiet neighborhood in the north part of town and Crisann offered to let me use her house as my aid station and bathroom.

The benefits of this run would be a safe place to run alone in the dark, multiple short loops for variety yet easy aid access in case of hot weather, the availability of a deep gravel path similar to the conditions I'll encounter at Across the Years, and little traffic.

I sprained my ankle in June when blinded by the sunrise, I stepped on a pine cone and rolled forward. It had been about 6 weeks since the sprain and I was doing well with it, until last Wednesday Crisann and I were out hiking near the Rawahs and I misstepped and rolled over on it again, re-tweaking it. It only hurt at the moment I did it, and then it seemed to be okay after some ice, ibuprofen, and rest for a couple of days. I was a bit concerned about the ankle but I taped it the morning of the run and it held up fine other than getting puffy the day after the run.

I woke up at 3 am, unable to sleep very well, but I had a good five hours of sleep- which is enough to get through another 24 or so hours. My car was mostly packed with my supplies, all I had to do was load the coolers with ice, drinks, and food that I'd prepared in advance. I threw everything in and drove to Crisann's, set up my table, coolers, and junk in her driveway. They left the outdoor lights on, and I was set up in 15 minutes and ready to go. I started at 4:30 am on the nose.

It was cool but humid, 69 degrees at the start, and I began by doing the short loop around her neighborhood which was about 1.15 miles according to my GPS. Once the sky got a little lighter, I went out the other two loops, one of which I called the fork, and the other an out and back to the main street leading to their subdivision. One was about 1.65 miles and the other was 2 miles. Both of these had hills and climbed a little less than 50 feet each, but I knew the vertical would feel good for variety and would add up over the day.

The sunrise was worth every second of sleep deprivation. Looking east toward I-25 across the plains, the sun was a huge orange globe and the light reflected pink on the silos and buildings at the Budweiser plant.
Once the sky got light enough, I planned to do about ten percent of my miles on the gravel path that winds through the neighborhood. Most of it is loose, deep gravel, exactly like the Across the Years course. I want to condition my feet for Across the Years, which I plan to run in December, and last year the gravel portion, which is about ten percent of the course, killed my feet. I need to be ready for that if I want to make it through a couple of days of running on that course.

My goals for the day were to run 80 miles or 24 hours, whichever came first, to get 8 miles of gravel running, and to run for 6 hours of the time out there.

About two hours into the run I got a text from Felix, who lives around the corner from Crisann, asking me where I was in the neighborhood. I happened to be at my table at the moment. Felix came over and met me, and we started running together. He also took me on a loop around the lake in their neighborhood, which was a nice distraction from the usual loops. Along the way we ran into Joanne, who was out on her run, so the three of us did a few miles together including some of the gravel path.

Felix and I have been friends for many years now, and he's an amazing athlete. He's an ultraendurance cyclist, swimmer, runner, climber, and I'm probably forgetting something. He was on my crew for the Badwater Double, and he was there during the infamous SpongeBob hallucinations. He always seems to show up at the right moment, whether it's for joining me for my birthday runs or arriving in the middle of nowhere in the desert with pizza or ice cream, or coming up with a conversation topic completely out of the blue that distracts me from whatever discomfort I was thinking about at the moment. He always makes me laugh.

We spent a few chunks of time reviewing Spanish vocabulary and conversation, and talking about assorted topics that at this point I can't even remember. The day got progressively warmer and the shady spots fewer, and there was a lot of humidity. Big thunderheads were accumulating over the foothills but the sun was blazing until we got a little cloud cover toward the end of the day. The temperature was in the 80s and got up into the low 90s by mid-day, but the humidity was steady.

We knocked out the 8 miles of gravel before noon, and I got two solid hours of running in by late morning and decided to throw in minimal running the rest of the day until it cooled down in the evening, then I would focus on getting the full 6 hours of running in. I was drinking plenty, taking in S-caps and peeing enough, and I filled my bandana with ice, keeping a big ice pillow on my neck to stay cool.

All day I struggled mentally, I wanted to get into a rhythm and zone out, listen to my tunes and keep a steady walking pace. But somehow I couldn't do it. I was constantly distracted, the neighborhood had too many twists and turns, things to look at, and there were no "blank" areas where I could just tune out and lose myself. Felix was cognizant of my need for alone time and he sort of did his own thing, loosely following my route but giving me the space he thought I'd need, and that was great. But somehow I could not get my mind in the place I needed to be, to enjoy my run. It was like my brain as constantly being called on to look at something, notice something, and I felt overstimulated in that setting. Maybe it's just where my brain was that day.

Felix and I had talked about recent events and how we cope with them. I felt pretty traumatized after the past week between the news of how the President botched things at NATO with our allies and then the Helsinki summit where he looked like an oversized kid who had just been berated, punished, and sent to his room by Putin. Felix told me his strategy for such things- by tuning it out and not listening to the news. I told him how I need to find a better strategy for dealing with all of it, because it upsets me so much.

I was hoping this run would be a chance to reset, clear my mind, and let go of all that worry and frustration. Even though I didn't think about those events during the run, I still could not get my mind into a calm, relaxed place. I started to think about cutting it short for another day, but decided to keep going until the temperatures cooled down in the evening, to see if I could get my mind off things in the dark. After about 30 miles my mental struggle was overwhelming, despite my attempts to zone out with music and run the least stimulating parts of the course.

Whenever it's humid I tend to chafe badly and often get heat rash, and by afternoon I was greasing my legs where the seam on my shorts was rubbing. I didn't see the extent of the chafing until 11 hours in, when I rewarded myself for reaching 40 miles by changing my clothes and re-greasing. I had an outline of my running bra that was chafed- under my armpits and across my chest, and a few spots on my shoulders. I knew I'd be screaming when I finished and took a shower.

Felix would run with me and whenever I stopped at Crisann's to get more food, drinks, or ice, Felix would run over to his house to get his own supplies. Then he'd come back and find me on the course. Usually I'd see him sprinting toward me as I continued in my slow, steady walk.

After my clothes changing break, when Felix found me, he was wearing a "Team Beef" shirt. At that point I was at about 42 miles and it cracked me up. I don't even know why it strikes me as so funny, but if you knew Felix, it would make you laugh too.

I was really craving ice cream sandwiches at that point, and Crisann made an attempt by stopping at Trader Joe's earlier and picking up some ice cream sandwiches. Except they were soy ice cream sandwiches. I tried one and it actually wasn't bad for the first few bites, but then the chalkiness hit me. Not the same. I thanked her but explained there's a reason why I wear a tiara that says "Princess".

I called Dennis around 5 pm and asked him if he could bring me a real ice cream sandwich and maybe some food around 6:30. After another half hour I changed my mind. I'd had enough. I decided to keep going until 50 miles and call it a day. I just wasn't having fun, and I needed to save it for another time. I called Dennis back and told him my plan, and let Felix and Crisann know. I kept going until 50, it wasn't quite sunset, but I'd been on my feet for a little over 15 hours and it was enough. I felt like even in the dark, there were enough things I'd have to watch out for- like cars parked on the street, cracks in the sidewalk or road, corners, curbs, and the usual neighborhood activities that would continue to be a distraction- my brain would never be able to get into a relaxed state.

The official name of the run changed from the DIY 24 Hour to the DIY 50. And Felix, in his usual state of awesomeness, had completed 50 miles too. In about 2 hours less than it took me. Crisann and Felix helped me load up my car and I was soon home to Dennis, the girls, and food.The ice cream sandwich had to wait until Sunday, but I finally got my indulgence.

So... I got a decent 50 mile training run in, with a good portion of gravel, in the heat and humidity, with lots of mental distraction. I'll have to look for another opportunity for a long training run in August. But it was a memorable experience, shared with my great running buddy, and will go down in the history books as another urban adventure.

It was like turning lemons into tepid, sun-fermented, bug protein-infused lemonade, served on the rocks over neck bandana ice cubes and a sweat-crusted rim.

Afternotes: Worst heat rash I've ever had maybe with the exception of Badwater. Feet were fine other than heat rash, terrible chafing on my upper body, and my left ankle looks like a baseball tennis ball. But nothing hurts! No problems going up and down the stairs, walking, or moving. No blisters whatsoever. What's next? Bring it on!!

Photo credits: Felix Wong