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.