Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

"Square Peg, meet Round Hole"

This post is about my philosophy of running*, but it is also my own personal philosophy on life, because running is such a major part of my life and who I am. I wrote a blogpost a little over 10 years ago here which described my philosophy of running at that point, in 2008, when I was 44, and just starting multiday running.

You'll have to read the whole post below in order to grasp my philosophy, because I don't really sum it up until the end. The in-between and getting there is sort of like an ultra.

My philosophical outlook hasn’t changed dramatically, but it has expanded as a result of a rich array of running and life experiences I have had since then, and I have moved into a different phase of my running life, career, obsession, or whatever you want to call it.

If you want a glimpse into what makes me run- my brain, my thought process, how I navigate the world, and how I see it, read on. This post has turned out to be a short book, don’t feel you have to read it in one sitting. Disclaimer: I’m sure you’ll be offended at some point. If you are, call the WAAAH-MBULANCE. I’m off duty.

What keeps me going forward?

Running and sport is a microcosm of the world we live in, with all its imperfections and exhilaration, joy and pain, nice people and assholes. It’s as much a part of my life as sleeping, eating, and breathing.

Running gives me a chance to do two opposing things- 1. to clear my mind and lose my concerns and worries, and 2. solve problems, think clearly, create, and examine things from different angles.

Running doesn’t change who I am, but it fits perfectly with my personality and what drives me. It contributes to creativity of expression through writing and in painting, though the painting has fallen off the cliff over the past decade.

First, a brief look back at highlights

As of January 2019, I have been a runner for 35 years, 28 of which I have been an ultrarunner.

I have accomplished a few good performances in my lifetime. I’m not superfast, but I’ve had some performances that I worked very hard for and I am happy about them and proud of my efforts and results. I am probably past the days where I’ll win races or set PRs again, but that is not why I run, so I find new ways to challenge myself and find satisfaction in my running.

My most memorable races include some where I performed well, and others where the conditions or presence of other people made the experience. I’ll list them here and why:

1992 Set Colorado State record for road 100Km at the Colorado Springs 100K. It was a USATF certified course, too, a packed dirt urban trail. I ran 9:37:25, and I don’t know if that’s ever been surpassed- it might still be a record. And it wasn’t a fluke…had consistency as in 1994 I ran within 6 minutes of that time on the same course, 9:43:04.

2007-2008 Across the Years 48 hour run first getting to know my friend Lisa Stranc Bliss. She's someone I love and admire, and I value her wisdom and kindness.

Badwater 2008- a fun experience where I learned to seriously run through foot pain and emerge from the puke free zone and finish the race.

2010 Keys 100- I love the ocean and turquoise water, and this was 100 miles of it. So pretty you don’t even notice you’re on the road, except for when you step on retread chunks during the night and think you stepped on a gator. My friend Mike Melton crewed me and my friend Bob Becker was race director. One of my most fun, memorable runs. And I met my friend Beth McCurdy there for the first time. I love her.

2010 Lean Horse 100- That was the most beautiful night ever, the stars were bright under the long shadows of ponderosa pine, and I ran for a long time with Fuzz McPherson and we had a great conversation, and my friends Doug and Marji Nash did a fantastic job of crewing for me. I can remember listening to music, feeling like dancing under the night sky and it was a truly magical experience.

2011 Lake Okeechobee 118- I actually DNFed at 114 miles because it was taking me so long- I had diarrhea from something I ate, my electrolytes were way off and I couldn’t move without cramping. Plus I had to catch my flight the next morning and we might not have made it back to Ft. Lauderdale in time at the rate I was moving. Plus I would have been gator bait. Bob Becker and Phil Rosenstein crewed me, and Mike Melton was race director. Thanks to Bob, I learned about Preparation H wipes- no runner should race without them- and how to recognize gator eyes on the water in the middle of the night.

Badwater Road Double 2011- the crew made it. My crew was amazing. That was so fun. Every. Single. Step. Again, phenomenal nighttime running and blow-your-mind vistas during the day.

2012 Mickelson Trail 1.5 not a race- it was a 5 day adventure run with my friend Ed Green. We ended being self-supported at the last minute and toughed it out and finding burgers and beer along the way helped immensely.

2013 Spring North Coast 24 hour-the weather was horrendous- snow blowing sideways, the cold wind coming off Lake Erie, freezing one side of your face and then the other, the course being overrun with sand, and then missing 100 miles by one mile but still winning. There’s nothing quite like running 99 miles in 24 hours.

2014 Fall North Coast 24 hour nationals- the weather was horrendous but hiding out from the storm in the portapotties with Andy Lovy in the middle of the night and laughing about it. And having such horrible blisters that I only made 80 miles. I hung out with Beth McCurdy, we shared a hotel room, and we both dropped in the middle of the night because we were trashed.

Cornbelt 24 hour 2014- Running a 24 hour PR of 112.3 miles at age 50. I was very happy about it- I trained hard.

There are many, many more fun experiences I’ve had and with many people in my running circles. But those are the ones that stand out. Pretty much every Across the Years run has been over the top enjoyable and fun, and the people made it that way. I’d have to say that is my favorite of all.

Badwater was also a big part of my life for many years, and the runners and staff had a huge influence on my experiences there, I met many great human beings there, and a few unsavory ones! The years of crewing and pacing and working on the medical team were equally fun and great learning experiences.

I might be missing a few, which will come to me, I’m sure, after I finish this post.

But running is so much bigger than a few experiences or fast performances. Those are not what make you, it is the whole, the total of the experience, which for me is about the outdoors, the environment, the challenge, the people, the learning, the growth, and the healing.

Round Peg, meet Square Hole

My basic philosophy of life is that everyday is an adventure. I was originally born and raised in an environment of mostly Eastern European and Russian Jewish descendants and on the mid-Atlantic east coast of the United States. Which means I naturally tend to point out things in a deprecating way that is intended to be humorous. A lot of people don’t get that type of humor unless they grew up in the northeast U.S. or have spent a lot of time around people who are from there.

So, if you’re not from those parts, don’t think I’m a grumbling negative person, because if I was, I would never have survived as an ultrarunner, or done the things I have done in my life. People from New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia get it. I point shit out in a critical voice, but I’m also seeing the positives and humor in that shit!

People are awesome, but they suck, too. We’re all in this crazy world together and we haven’t done a very good job of supporting each other to navigate this life with less difficulty. We really do make it harder on each other than it needs to be.

Over the years I’ve been called irreverent, immature, insane, idealistic, impossible. Perhaps some of that is all true. Meanwhile I have learned, through the school of hard knocks, not to associate myself with those with bad intentions, those who are mean or self-hating, and people who have ineffectual responses to the world because of their own shortcomings (lack of empathy, lack of self-examination, being in denial, unwillingness to laugh at themselves, or irrational fear of losing something they think they are entitled to) which manifest in stealth or overt attacks on others.

I can fit in some places, but I never fit quite right, and I have no desire to expand into those tightly fitting corners that would restrict my movement. I can never fill all the expectations and I sure as hell don’t want to! There’s always room to move around. I like it that way. I declare myself a round peg in a square hole. I can get out when I need to. It’s better than the other way around-the proverbial square peg getting stuck in a round hole.

In pretty much every aspect of my life, I've never fit squarely in a category, even though I may appear to be, on the surface. Being different, that alone makes you question shit, makes you smarter, and thinking about your survival. And it can be dangerous for the person who is different, physically, mentally, emotionally, and in other ways too- mostly because you appear to be dangerous- a lot of very insecure people get very scared when you start challenging their assumptions.

I refuse to be a drone, or a Stepford person, or a deferential, acquiescent, watered down version of myself just to minimize strife and keep other people happy and undisturbed in their comfortable place, which often serves them poorly as they enable the predators in this world who rely on their deference. It is in the interest of those who want to maintain their power, privilege, status, and wealth to oppress everyone else so they don’t take away even a tiny piece of that power, privilege, status and wealth.

I don’t put up with people who suck the energy and life out of me. I don’t put up with toxic people. I have cut them out of my life. When I encounter them, I no longer pursue interactions or relationships. It’s not worth the suffering. It’s not my responsibility- I am not a charity organization for people with poor social skills. I refuse to coddle or enable.

I derive motivation from the things that piss me off, the things that drive me to persist, be different than the mainstream, and stick to my ways even when occasionally they are so at odds with the way the world works, that they can be painful.

That’s me. Want to know what drives me in running? Fasten your seatbelts and helmets for the long ride, and bring a snack.

What drives me to run?

I love moving forward on my feet. There is something rhythmical, musical, and magical that appeals to my brain and the neurotransmitters that are involved in pleasure. It might be the same phenomenon that results in a dog hanging its head out the window, enjoying the feeling of the air blowing by?

I used to be competitive at times, but not all the time. When I decided to be serious about training, I would put the effort in, but not for every event. I enjoyed running races for fun as much as the ones where I wanted to compete. Part of my inconsistency when I was younger was trying to figure out what was going on with my body, before I knew I had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. But even after I got that worked out, I was an occasional competitor. I ran hard when I felt like it.

When I wanted to perform well or had a goal, I viewed the race as a job. I’d go into it with the attitude of, “I have a job to do.” That’s what I would focus on. It usually worked.

Looking back, I realize that I had potential that I never lived up to- when I was running my fastest, I would have been potentially able to compete at a much higher level, but it was not something I worried about at the time- I had other things on my mind, I was in graduate school, starting a career, and it wasn’t an obsession. I think it would have been interesting to see, for example, how many miles I could have run in 24 hours around age 30, when I was at my fastest. But that train has left the station.

Running appeals to me because it helps me get outside, escape, see beautiful places, enjoy solitude, and be either inside or outside of my own head, depending on what I need at the moment. There was a thrill and personal reward in running PRs and even winning races, but it wasn’t what I truly sought from running.

I so didn’t care, that there were many times when I was close to winning a race, but I never bothered to look at the stats or find out how close my competitors were. With a little extra effort I could have improved my standing, sometimes enough to be in first place, but it didn’t cross my mind. I was having too much fun in the moment. At a couple of times, I have driven some of my more competitive friends and crew members crazy from that.

I have often avoided people who like to talk shop- runners who love to obsess about statistics and who are the fastest runners, and who set records, and so on. I just don’t care to fill my mind with that. One of my longtime, best running friends does that all the time and I love her but I just can’t focus on those conversations.

I really don’t care what the fastest runners are doing- what they wear, how they train, what they eat, and over the years, I’ve observed that more often than not, they disappear from the scene as fast as they show up. Intense training leads to quick burnout, injuries, or a fast return to whatever dysfunctional compulsion got them into running in the first place.

The competitive, winner-take-all, first place is everything, traditional (and male, I might say) sporting world view misses out on so much. The depth of experiences and stories of individuals are lost. So much history escapes ever being known. The idolatry disappears everyone else into the mist. That’s why women’s experiences and accomplishments in sport were lost for so many years, and still are shortchanged- because of that worship of the biggest, fastest, richest, winningest, egotisticalest…

As far as my own future in competition, I realize that my days of setting PRs and winning races are largely over. That’s fine. The thing I am struggling with is how to move forward with running ultras when I can no longer put the time and energy into running that I used to. There are too many other things in life that are enjoyable and I’m not willing to make training feel like a full-time job anymore, even for short periods of time.

I don’t have a bucket list of races I want to do. I have done all the ones I wanted to, with one exception- I still want to do a 6 day race, preferably at Across the Years, among friends. I want to do it without destroying my feet, so that I can enjoy the time out there. I know my feet will hurt, but I need to make sure the skin is intact enough for 6 days that I can stay upright on them.

That is the problem I currently need to solve- I need to figure out how to make this work, to get ready for a 6-day without suffering through it, but not spending all my time training. I don’t really need to perform at any level. I can do whatever I want. I can run one mile a day if I want. I just need to fully come to terms with that and find what satisfies me and then I’ll do it. I can tell you right now I ‘m not going to be satisfied with one mile a day. I’m thinking more like 50 or so a day. Not sure if that’s even realistic at this point, but if running 270 miles in 5 days in Death Valley in July was possible, I think 300 miles on the flats might be.

What I’ve learned in the past decade

Over the past 10 years I feel like I have gained a deeper appreciation of my ultra experiences and what they've taught me. When I talk to runners younger than me in races, I hear them struggling with the same thoughts and questions that I have answered for myself over the years. They will find their answers, too. It’s a never-ending cycle of discovery and learning.

Ultrarunning as a sport has changed dramatically since 30 years ago. It’s good that it’s become a more well-known, accepted and recognized sport. More laypeople understand what the term “ultra” means if you use it in casual conversation, we don’t end up having to explain the whole “a marathon is 26 miles and an ultra is anything longer” followed by the shock and awe of the idea landing, quite as often as we used to.

Now there are so many people in the sport, and so many ultras! Still, certain ones remain extremely popular and “lottery” entries have replaced just sending in your application and entry fee. Many of the lotteries are highly secretive and are not true lotteries, allowing a large number of preferred entrants- for various reasons- into the race. Some of the ultra entry fees have gotten expensive, too.

I no longer enjoy the big races. The long-established ultra races seem to have deteriorated into circuses. There is a lot of money, sponsorship, and publicity and other intangibles that go along with these events. These days it feels like you’re at a major urban marathon with a huge race expo and you walk away with a bag full of little plastic trinkets with the race logo emblazoned on them, and all the sponsors.

I see people expecting to be served and given all the comforts, expecting to receive some material return for just existing or being there, the commercialization and materialism of many races and events. Remember Wayne’s World in the 80s, how they mocked corporate sponsors? That look- plastered with logos- has become the norm.

One of the nice things about ultras, even at the big ones, is the social scene around each race, a basic family atmosphere establishes itself and the runners come to rely on each others’ presence to maintain that. Newcomers are welcome, and after a couple of times they work into the fabric of the social network of the race.

When you have conversations with the runners and get to know them, and follow up year after year, it’s so fun. They become part of a family- your Across the Years family, Badwater family, Colorado family, whatever experience it is that you share. Social media has allowed us to stay in touch better when we are not at the events.

I love the personalities- gregarious and friendly, grumpy and curmudgeonly, the stories they share, and the depth of consideration and thought. Some of the best conversations occur on the ultra courses. It’s the shared humanity- you realize that there are other people who think deeply about things. Sometimes you wonder about people in the world- if they are as shallow as they seem. But I’ve hardly ever thought that about ultrarunners.

The physical, mental, planning and anticipatory challenges, the execution of your running plan and experience, and even afterward, make ultrarunning one of those things where you are constantly learning from experience, making mistakes and sometimes repeating them (the lessons will be repeated until they are learned) and mastering certain aspects of running. Old people keep going back to ultras because we forget how much it hurt last time!!! Actually, I think it hurts less in a lot of instances, the older and wiser you get.

Older runners at these races, who continue to challenge themselves, are the most inspirational of all. I don’t care how fast anybody is or what records they set, the most inspirational person at a race is the oldest one.

Some losses, some gains

When I say ultras are a microcosm of the world, the world outdoors is not the same as it was decades ago, when I started backpacking in high school or even in my early years of running trails and ultras. There are a lot more people using the outdoors and a lot more creative recreation opportunities, different types of toys, and a lot of people with a lot of disposable income to buy expensive, sometimes sophisticated, and destructive toys.

It seems that an environmental ethic of some sort has been lost among the newer converts to outdoor recreation- being quiet, having a minimum footprint, leaving the place the way you found it, being self-sufficient, all of those things seem to have slipped away in our rush to technology and comfort.

But we know more about the science of exercise, which is great. It allows us to perform, prepare, and recover better than in the past. A lot of old wisdom still gets passed down from older to newer runners, some of that is priceless.

I find that we’ve lost a reverence for the natural world- we are not protecting it, we are exploiting it more than ever. I am sad about that. It’s hard to go anywhere and not see people and their influence. I have to admit I curse under my breath some days when I’m on a run in my neighborhood on a trail around a lake, and there are other people there. I need some solitude, and I know it’s ridiculous to expect that in midtown, but it bugs me anyway.

The challenge is less, I think, when we do provide so many perks- and people have access to more sophisticated gear, clothing, food and drink, and technology. It all makes it more fun in some ways and enjoyable- I love having my phone that takes great pictures. I love my iPod and the tunes I can listen to. I love having warm clothing that wicks moisture away. I love having running bras that don’t cause me to chafe and bounce. I love that GPS can tell me how many miles, how much vertical, my pace each mile, and more. I don’t always use it, but it’s a nice thing to have when you want it.

I still believe in real food and drink though- some of those supplements, bars, and energy drinks and shit- I don’t understand why people think those are any better for them than real food. Maybe there is some nutritional benefit to some of them, but mostly I think they are a big waste of money. But suckers will buy them because some flash in the pan with a scraggly beard is hawking them.

I really hate those scraggly beards, by the way. They gross me out so bad. I can't wait 'til they are no longer popular. I just think about all the sweat and drool and boogers and leftover food scraps and who knows what else that settles in those birds’ nests.

What’s important now

These days I find myself focusing more on my work, my dogs, my home, my family. Having left the illusory stability of a regular job that was literally killing me, I’ve been trying to find my way back to some sort of balance and a source of income. I work a lot more hours for less money than I did in the hospital but it is much easier on my physical and mental health.

One of the things I’m learning now is that I cannot rely on the healing and recovery abilities of my body the way I used to. That doesn’t mean I can’t run far and long, but it means I have to be smarter about how I train and prepare myself, and what I do afterward.

I have learned that I can get by on my base for quite some time. I don’t have to train nearly as hard or frequently or long as I used to. Now I have a group of women I run with- most of them are not ultrarunners, or maybe have run an ultra or two but that isn’t how they define themselves as runners.

I have learned to give my body and mind a break and to have confidence in my ability to cover the distances instead of having to constantly go out and run far in my training runs. I knew that a long time ago, but now that I’m older, it’s even more important.

I don’t have as many days of running where I feel fresh and able to dig into my reserves. I enjoy it when I feel good, but I don’t get disappointed when I’m not feeling it. The exception was recently when I went on statins for my cholesterol for a year and that screwed up my muscles and nearly destroyed my enjoyment of running. I stopped the statins and it took about 3 months to start feeling decent again.

Don’t take that as medical advice- it isn’t. If you need to be on statins to save your life, take your doctor’s advice. But everything- even medical advice- should be carefully considered and a fully informed, conscious decision made. When in doubt, second, even third opinions from reputable, knowledgeable, licensed, experienced, scientifically-informed sources, should be sought.

Growth through learning and insights from ultrarunners

You can learn something from everyone, I am convinced that there is something to be learned from nearly every person you encounter and nearly every experience. My life would be poorer if I had not met many of the people I have through ultrarunning, good and bad.

I feel I have grown to be more accepting of my own limitations, but also to not stop pushing the envelope to discover what is possible. Not pre-setting any limits on myself, instead, discovering my limits along the way. And of course, there are some limitations that can be overcome through using one’s brain and creative powers to be smarter about it.

Most of my creative endeavors, and anything I’ve accomplished as an adult, has had a component attributable to running. For example, studying for exams in graduate school and nursing school, I could make notes to carry in my pack while running and quiz myself on whatever it was that I needed to learn, then check my answers with the notes. Writing or any creative writing project could be imagined or developed or refined through running. Painting ideas came almost entirely from landscapes I ran through.

Any problem in life that needed to be solved became more doable while running, even if I didn’t focus on it consciously. Something about running loosened the screws- that limit the imagination. It allows the round peg to float freely, unencumbered by the corners of the square hole.

I think above all, ultrarunning has allowed me to be in an ongoing state of healing from the small and large insults and injuries of life. These are things that we all experience along the way and we have to figure out how to move forward and weather them when we feel beaten down, temporarily defeated, or lose hope. Psychological and physical injuries are both painful, but the psychological ones can often be longer lasting and more damaging.

Running allows a place to be real. It allows you to separate yourself from the outside world and deal with yourself. You don’t have to, some people are happily obstinate even though they run a lot of miles. But running allows for that safe space to hear yourself think, feel, experience, and reflect. It offers a safe place for healing from the everyday insults and injuries we experience by being human.

The Eyerolls of Life
I am not an angry girl, but it seems I’ve got everyone fooled, everytime I say something they find hard to hear, they chalk it up to my anger and never to their own fear…” Ani deFranco

All runners get asked, “What do you do?” “Don’t you get bored?” “What do you think about while you’re running?”

Here are some things I think about while running, problems I’ve solved for myself, or issues that are in a state of ongoing resolution: a better name for this section might be: Shit I think about while running.

Healthcare and Nursing
I’ve talked a lot about healthcare on this blog, and nursing within a healthcare system that hates nurses, disrespects and undervalues them, and is slowly sucking the life and desire out of them to stay in the profession. When you go into nursing, you aren’t thinking about the dangers to yourself. You’re thinking about helping other people and are willing to sacrifice some of your own comfort in order to do that, for a reasonable amount of compensation. But quickly, you realize that it goes beyond sacrificing comfort. You’re sacrificing reason.

Healthcare is so awful to the people who work in it. It doesn’t allow them to be human. It requires crazy amounts of physically brutal and pathogen-exposed work on insane schedules, divides them into categories by status and overcompensating a few while undercompensating most, it doesn’t allow for natural rest periods or self-care, or worst of all, the ability to maintain or restore mental health when its workers are exposed constantly to the most stressful and vulnerable situations in life- other people’s life or death decisions and consequences or just plain bad luck.

Abuse is rampant at different levels of the industry and across different layers or status levels, as well as peer-to-peer, people are discouraged from caring for their own health when the consequences of not doing that impact the patients they are supposed to be helping. And those who run the industry talk out of both sides of their mouth, saying one thing to the consumer public and another to those who are working for them. In the long run, it amounts to the same thing: those in charge saying fuck you, I don't care, I want you to kill yourself for my benefit. All they want is a bonus. And it is enabled, sustained, and reinforced at every single level.

Among nurses are some of the kindest, most creative, smartest, caring, unselfish, and deeply committed people you’ll ever meet. And truly, more than a few nurses I’ve met are the meanest, nastiest creatures to ever walk the earth who hate themselves and want to make everyone else equally miserable. It comes down to being what they are-people, and nursing tends to attract certain personalities.

People remember how you made them feel, how they felt around you. It’s not my job to heal other people's emotional wounds and social awkwardness, but I don’t have to be a reminder of why they struggle with the world. I don’t have to contribute to their struggle, either. I remember how awful it felt to be around certain people who seemed hell-bent on making your life miserable.

Most of the people I’ve met through running have been extraordinary, truly nice, inspirational people. And then there have been very few assholes, narcissists, mean girls, and people who are just so socially awkward that they simply trip over themselves and get in their own way of being able to fully participate in the joys of this sport. That’s just how life is.

People skills are underrated. Some of the bosses I had in nursing, OMG who thought it was a good idea to put them in charge of anything, I’m not even sure they’d be competent to wipe their own buttholes, and yes, really, I mean that literally and sincerely.

While running is a solitary experience in many ways, if you’re involved in the running community at all, or do group runs, join a club, or enter races or organized events, people are part of it. Sometimes I like people, sometimes I just want to stay completely the hell away from them. Ultrarunning allows for a nice balance.


I don’t even have to get into it here, you know where I stand. I am completely opposed to our current President and everyone associated with him and his criminal enterprise. I just don’t understand how people fell for this con man- what did they think they were getting?

If the birther hoax, pussy grabbing, Russia- if you’re listening, and his history of bankruptcies and affairs and charges of racism against his real estate business were not enough to raise a red flag, perhaps half the population of the country ought to have their eyes and hearing examined at the very least.

Regardless, I am happy about the new Congress and I am thrilled to see some of the new members of Congress like AOC diving in to call out the corruption and good ole rich white boy environment of our government that has existed for so long and has served to siphon all the wealth and resources away from the public, leaving us much worse off as a country. I truly look forward to restoring anti-trust laws, enforcing the RICO Act, and restoring a greater degree of wealth equity.

What this world needs is more B.I.T.C.H. power! Brazen Institutional Terrorists and Corporate Hellraisers. It’s time to disrupt and upend the top-down, winner take-all approach of power going to those with privilege and status and only valuing those with the most, fastest, biggest, whatever.

One of the complaints I hear about from my peers is about older women disappearing: you never hear about older women, once you pass reproductive age, you are no longer considered useful, because women are there for their looks and as sex toys, after a certain age, the only role for them is grandmother. Bullshit. I refuse to buy into that. I will be seen, and I will be heard! What I say to that is, I am not here for your visual gratification, I am not an ornament. And I'm not dead yet.

One of the things about nurses that pisses me off more than anything is their unwillingness to get off their asses and do something about their situation. For example, look no further than the freaking Republican party these days. They are going to silence themselves out of existence by enabling that orange freak. The longer you align yourself with something truly harmful, the more you become one with it. By being silent, nurses are part of the healthcare problem.

You just have to be unwilling to take it anymore. Lose your fear of saying no and stop the bullshit in its tracks, like Nancy Pelosi did with Trump. NO, you are not getting funding for your stupid wall.

I feel so much better about nursing since I got out of those oppressive conditions and got involved in advocacy and speaking out. Now my nursing peers are strong, determined, forceful, outspoken people.

Nurses need to strike, to protest, to sit down in front of the CEO’s office door, better yet, out on the sidewalk outside where they work so the entire public can see what's happening- to organize, advocate, litigate, and raise hell. Just STOP accepting the crappy work conditions. Stop it now. Say, "No, we nurses are not going to settle for heavier workloads, less safety, and more risk!"

No, we aging women will not allow you to make us invisible! No, we will not capitulate to sexism and an attitude of superiority among men! No, I am not going to allow you to catcall me while I’m running by! I am going to do something about it. Watch me. And then I do it.

Releasing what is no longer serving you is important. Healthcare has been driven too long by a paternalistic philosophy of men (doctors) know best, women (nurses) are just handmaidens and enablers. It’s not helping. It’s not useful anymore. It needs to be released. While there have been small improvements in the gender balance, it's not enough.

This bullshit hasn’t served us for a long time, if ever. We have lost the talent and ability and drive and efforts of a major and growing portion of our population by suppressing and oppressing them. And that goes far beyond women: non-white, non-straight, non-Christian...basically, nearly everybody who isn't Mike Pence. (I have a deep-seated hunch that he has a deep-seated secret though.)

Yes, this is what I think about on the run. In between not thinking, looking at scenery, listening to music, singing, dancing, and enjoying.

Moving forward- literally

I have a six day race in the back of my mind for the end of 2020 because it will take me that long to prepare my feet again. Why 6 days? Why not 10 or 30 or 1000 days?

First, beyond 6 days, I don’t have the desire or drive- I just don't want to run any longer right now. Also, I don't have the financial resources (which includes time, because I have to work) to do that. I might have all those things in the future, but I might not ever. And I don’t feel the need to do more. Right now, I enjoy the day after day just waking up and running when I feel like it. I don't have to have lofty, overachieving goals. Ha.

But a 6 day event like ATY that is organized and compact and challenging and comforting enough, that sounds like fun. Plus I know so many people there, and they are people I would choose to be around for days and nights on end.

My goal is simply to be able to spend 6 days moving forward on my feet, for about 50 miles a day, without having any major foot or other physical or biomechanical issues that keep me off my feet for a substantial amount of that time.

I am letting go of that competitive drive and allowing myself to just do, be, enjoy. I have nothing to prove. I’m not doing this to be a badass, simply to reach a state of fulfillment or satisfaction.

Even sitting down to write anymore is not what I often want to do. I spent a year of my life writing a book. Since then, it's been hard for me to write for pleasure, though I feel I'm starting to get my enjoyment back. That’s why I’ve struggled with the blog for a couple of years.

How I want to die

I am glad I am 55, not 25, and don’t have a super long, long time left to be on this planet. I figure if all goes well, barring some freak accident or aggressive illness, I might have another 25-30 years left. I really don’t want to be here much beyond 80 from what I see around me. I won't be afraid to take matters into my own hands if the laws don't change around euthanasia either.

I really don’t want to be here once my body and/or mind are no longer able to maintain my independence. And I sure as hell don’t want to be taken care of by nurses within a healthcare system that is so ugly to the people who work in it.

I don’t want anyone wiping my ass or feeding me. Just toss me outside so I can die of hypothermia under some ponderosa pine trees with needles whooshing in the wind. Or let me shrivel up like a prune from exposure in the heat of Devil’s Cornfield with F-16 fighter jets divebombing over me.

And leave me there. I like turkey vultures, they're my second favorite bird. Crows are my favorite, by the way.

To philosophy until it evolves further

I wonder sometimes if I had been born in a different time if I would be different. Probably not too much, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve managed to do a lot of things in my life on persistence. I don’t watch TV and I don’t have kids.  I don't put on makeup or do my hair, or worry about what to wear 99.99999 percent of the time. That’s all pretty freeing in itself.  I like to feel that if I die tomorrow it’s okay, I am satisfied with what I did while I was here.

But as long as I stick around, I’ll keep disrupting, keep innovating, keep defying, keep raising hell. It’s the only way I know how to be.

For much of my early life, I felt that I was a square peg and all the holes are round. But it’s really just an illusion that the peg is square and the holes are round... dim lighting made it look like there were corners. When you’re round, you have the ability to flex, there are no mandatory corners. There’s room for everything. If the world could just learn that lesson, we would not be as terminally fucked up as we are. We humans really are our own worst enemies. We need to become better friends with each other, especially ourselves.

We need to stop self-limiting our natural intelligence (the cognitive and creative gifts we were all born with- which are unlimited in their potential, vary from person to person, and cannot be measured with any test or tool) and underestimating whatever physical abilities we have, and where they could take us.

In other words, stop worrying so damn much about what other people think.

You can move mountains, or they can move you
- Sherpa John Lacroix

*(remember the tiny asterisk in the first sentence way way back at the beginning?) The actual physical act of running- I should qualify this entire post- sometimes I am not doing what an observer might call running. I might be walking with varying amounts of effort. Usually I walk pretty hard, but not quite as hard as a powerwalk. Moving forward on my feet, whether it’s pure running, broken up with bouts of walking, or just going out for a walk, is running, as far as I’m concerned.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Enjoyed reading your point of view on ultra running and life. Thank you. I'm 36 now and new to ultra running, definitely a back of the pack ultra runner - at least as of now. I love the process of training for a race, then problem solving during the actual event and seeing how everything works out (and doesn't work out).

I do a lot of thinking and reflecting when I run. It's a peaceful time for me.