Scatter my ashes here...

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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Update From Lone Pine

We're hanging out here while Bob rests and recharges before we start the trek back across Death Valley tomorrow. Please refer to his blog, http://bob-runs-ultras.blogspot.com for updates. We're just chilling out today. All good.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The Ratched Report


https://www.facebook.com/alene.nitzky/posts/10206284896494963 check this out... Wifi access has been very poor so I am making this post public. All is well, no, GREAT, so far. Bob is on Whitney with Marshall,he was looking good is morning, and the weather seems to be holding out despite it looking questionable earlier. I will do some full blogposts later on,maybe not until I get back to Fort Collins, but will try to leave short updates here whenever we have a connection. 

So proud of this guy...and so honored to be on his crew, and most of all, his friend. 

More later!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Roadtrip: STAT!

I am packed and ready to go.

Hitting the reset button is one of the biggest benefits of this jaunt across the desert every year. The hardest part is leaving the girls. And Dennis, of course...but really, I know Dennis probably enjoys the break from me. The girls are another story.

The hardest thing for me is to wake up in the morning and not have those four little eyebrows peering over the edge of the bed, patiently waiting for me to stir. Missing the morning buttrubs and being bossed around, yelled at until I get up and out of bed in the direction of getting ready for the morning walk.

I need the 17 hour drive each way to Lone Pine and back because it's a chance to be alone, silent, and in my thoughts. This year I need to prepare myself for a major habit change when I get back, because as things are, it will be the Blob pacing Bob in Death Valley. I have been slacking sooooooo bad...

I've really let myself go over the summer. It keeps getting worse. I can tell by the way my clothes fit, and how I feel so sluggish every time I go out and run. It's okay, but I did realize that its been a full year since I pretty much stopped training altogether! It was last September, when I started tapering for NorthCoast, that I started on that slow descent into blobification.

A little too much indulgence in the microbrews and not watching the calories, along with too little activity, too much sitting on my butt exercising my fingers on the keyboard.

The good news is, I have over 30 visits left on my pool pass to EPIC for when I get back, so I can start running in the pool, if I dare walk from the locker room to the water in a swimsuit. That is, if I can still fit in my swimsuit!

And I am going to start doing some regular yoga to improve my flexibility, to make my goal of being able to bite my toenails, or whatever nails are left down there after next week.

And I am going to start lifting again and doing my core strengthening routine. And I am also going to start running consistently, and get miles on my feet. And then I'm going to cut WAY back on the beer...maybe to one beer per week...

Stop the Blob!

For the next week and a half, check Bob's blog, Bob Runs Ultras as I will be posting to it to keep his followers up on his progress. In other words, there will be a Blob on Bob's Blog.

Say that ten times fast.

I'll be posting to this blog when I have Internet access, too. See you soon.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Clearance!

What a week!

I am finding myself in need of a breather today after a little unexpected bonus running adventure yesterday!

First, what's up with the sign? Mental clearance sale? That idea came from my new friend, fellow blogger and passionate patient advocate Terri, at Diep C Journey. For those of my readers who also have an interest in breast cancer-related matters, Terri is a powerful and influential advocate for women who need education and resources for reconstruction options following a mastectomy. Since this blog is not about breast cancer I have given you her URL so you can check out and follow her blog.

I need a mental clearance sale today myself, simply because my brain has been on overload all week and things finally caught up with me yesterday.

Last week I was a slug. I just could not find the motivation again. I got an amazing amount of work done, so that was fine. Finding the consistency to keep moving is the struggle these days.

Monday I started out with a busy week but committing to myself to get back into the habit of doing about 10 miles a day on my feet. Not that hard to do if I run for an hour, walk the girls once or twice, and add a little extra walking somewhere during the day.

I got a fair amount done early in the week and had some extra preparation to do, I had a few client appointments, plus I am having a promotional video made for my business and part of the footage includes the exercise class I teach, so I needed to get things in order for that. Also, I had a tweet chat last night and needed to prepare for it.

To top it off we are finding ourselves in need of an extra person on the return crew for Bob's double Badwater adventure. Trying to find someone who is free to drop everything and leave for Death Valley, is fit enough and heat-prepared enough, and can be flexible about dates as we don't know how long it will take, and, most important of all, will be drama-free and have their head screwed on straight even when severely sleep deprived, is a major challenge. If we can't find that person, we will somehow make it work. But it sure would be nice to have the extra body.

I managed to do okay with the mileage on my feet for the first half of the week. I only made 10 miles one day but came close on the others. That didn't matter so much as getting a good quality workout with some vertical at some point this week. I have to fit those in when the time allows, and the only opening I had was Thursday. I figured I could get up early, drive up to Estes and do a couple of summits of Twin Sisters to get a good 14 miles and close to 5000 feet of vertical in, then get back to town in time to maybe even take a nap before the client appointment and the tweetchat.

As it turned out, I didn't need to set my alarm or the coffeepot for 3:30 am, because my body woke me up at precisely 12:57 am after going to bed at 10:30. I stayed in bed until 2 am, not falling back asleep, so I finally said #$@% it and I'm getting up, I'll just bring my headlamp. I left the house at 3 am with some PBJs, lots of drinks, and warm clothes.

I felt like crap of course, on 2 1/2 hours of sleep, but I was alert, and I arrived at the trailhead around 4:15 am. I haven't hiked Twin Sisters since before the 2013 flood which cut a huge slide in the side of the mountain and wiped out parts of the trail, so I didn't know how different it would be. Actually not that different, there's just some straight up vertical climbing for short little sections where the switchbacks used to be.

I headed up the trail, tripping over a rock but catching myself within the first 100 feet. Hmm. I guess being that sleep deprived doesn't raise any red flags.

I kept going, and when I got to the slide at about 1.25 miles, I had to take my time trying to see where the trail had been diverted, in the dark, looking for cairns which had been placed. It was hard to see and it took a long time to figure out where I needed to go. I was hoping to summit by sunrise, but as it turned out I was about a mile below the summit when the sun came up, in the bristlecone & lodgepole transition forest, which made for some awesome photos.

It took me nearly 2 hours to get to the summit. I did fine once I was able to turn the headlamp off. In the old days I was able to get to the top and back down, do the whole thing, in about an hour and 40 minutes. I can remember one year I did a triple in 6 hours. That's how fit I used to be. Not anymore!

I got up to the summit, sat on top of the west peak for a few minutes in the wind, took some pictures, sent Dennis a text, and then headed back down. Once you start to cross the rocky section above treeline, just before you head back into the trees, I was walking down the trail, and...

I was face down, looking at rocks and some little alpine wildflowers, my wrists hurt like hell, my knees were throbbing, and my right calf muscles were cramped in an almost square shape. Knocked the breath right out of me. I was gasping more from the pain of the calf cramp than anything. No one was around. It was 6:30 am, I was at 11,000 feet, lying prone on the trail, and once the calf cramp let up, I slowly had the sense to assess myself to see if I could get up and move. My left wrist was the worst, but my right shin hurt like hell too.

Did I break anything? I moved my wrist and thumb around, which were inside my glove. Fortunately I was bundled up in the cold wind from the summit, so when I peeled my glove back, only the heel of my left hand had skin scraped off and was slightly bleeding. My wrist and thumb were working fine. My right hand was rashed under the glove but the skin was intact, and no problems there except pain from the impact. I moved my right leg carefully so as not to trigger another cramp. I was scraped and a big knot was coming up on my lower shin, and my left knee hurt, but no blood.

I slowly got into a sitting position, lightheaded and feeling nauseated, I sat there for a second, waiting for it to either pass, to puke, or for me to pass out again without having to fall too far. Fortunately none of those things happened. I was shaking all over though. After a few minutes I began to get up slowly, hoping walking was possible. I was upright and began walking very slowly down the trail.

I felt a little lightheaded, probably from the altitude. I drank some water. Everything seemed to be intact, but I knew I wasn't coming back up for another summit. I was headed back to the car, and I figured I might even have to take a nap in it before trying to drive home.

Once I got down the trail and down in altitude a little, I felt a lot better, and made much better time, but I had to be extra careful not to catch my toe on any rocks. I haven't been doing my hip exercises, which were the thing that got me back to trail running in the first place. I am sure my hip flexors are weak and I was dragging my feet, plus being so tired. And of course, my tendency to G Bird out when I'm up high. 11,000 feet is a new low altitude record for turning into Gooney Bird, though. I obviously need to get up to the mountains more!

By the time I got back to the car I was awake and decided just to go home. I did a mental check every few miles to make sure I was still awake. Wasn't a problem. I arrived home and made breakfast, let Dennis know I was home and headed off to bed for a long nap.

I had to get up and get dressed to see a client, then get back in time to eat and prepare for the Tweet chat. I still owed the sleep bank a good 3 hours. I needed to get through until 8 pm and then I could crash. And I did, after some dinner, ibuprofen and a beer. Even Dennis took pity on me and got me some chocolate. Because I fell down.

The Tweet chat went well despite some issues with Twitter loading slowly, so I am hoping I'll get to do more of those in the future.

Today I have a huge knot and small scrape on my lower right shin, a small knot on my outer left knee, a very sore left wrist and somewhat less so right wrist, my triceps and shoulders and forearms all feel like I did an Olympic powerlifting competition and won a gold medal.

I don't know what I was thinking, really, I guess I underestimate my ability to do dumb things while running. I might have lost some fitness, but not that special gift with which so many ultrarunners are endowed. I am not in the kind of shape that I have been in the past, this is my first time at altitude all year, and on 2 1/2 hours of sleep, hiking up a slightly unfamiliar trail in the dark by headlamp, by myself, was almost Darwin Award-esque.

The one thing I can say is that besides being very lucky, I think I just saved my insurance company some bucks on a DEXA scan. If I went down that hard and didn't break anything, I must have some pretty dense bones. That slammed my distal radius. I am really sore today, all the way up my arms, shoulders and back. That was some impact especially on my left wrist. I can see the bruise on my palm.

You're very welcome, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

So, the plan is, chill out today, no intense brain, physical or other work. This weekend hopefully I can get a few miles in, but whatever. I have a week and a half until I leave for Death Valley. Hopefully we find an extra crew member.

And before I forget, beer plug of the month: Odell has outdone itself here. It's called Brombeere, it's a Blackberry Gose. Whatever that is. I am not generally a fan of sour beers, I have not been that impressed with many of the sour beers out there but this one I love. They balanced the flavors just right. A new favorite!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fifteen Random Facts & A Blogging Challenge

I'm back for another blogpost, two in one day, pretty amazing for me lately. Yes I did get out today and did my run for a full hour. It didn't rain, either. Keeps the mushrooms from growing out of my ears.

Nancyand Beth are two wonderful bloggers I have connected with through my work, and Nancy came up with a blogging challenge yesterday, posting 15 random facts about herself. Beth took her up on it, and I decided to join in on the challenge, and I'm posing the challenge to my readers, some of whom are bloggers, to do this too. You can always leave a comment with your 15 random facts if you don't have your own blog.

So here it is, these are fifteen random facts you might not know about me, but you will now.

1. I have 6 blogs: this blog which is my main personal blog and running blog, a food blog, a thyroid blog, an art blog, a nursing blog, and a work blog. How do I keep up with all those blogs? I don't. I haven't posted in the art blog in years, I rarely anymore post in the thyroid or food blogs, and the remaining three are still active.

2. I am very particular about food. My favorite foods are green chile and sushi. I have two food quirks, that I can think of right now. One is that while I like chocolate and I like nuts, I do not like nuts in chocolate. Nuts take up the space that should be occupied by chocolate. I also hate cinnamon in all foods but one: I love the cinnamon roll French toast at the Silver Grill restaurant in Fort Collins. Other than that, keep the cinnamon away from me. That's good because it keeps me away from most baked things. Finally, my food aversions: I hate vinegar and foods with vinegar in them. Mustard, ketchup, pickles, mayonnaise. Ugh ugh ugh. If I can smell the vinegar, forget it. That also includes salsa made with vinegar and barbecue sauce with vinegar. I love barbecue sauce but if I can smell the vinegar, forget it. Mayonnaise, pickles, and mustard especially gross me out.

3. I am a hopeless idealist. I love to dream of what could be. And then I love to work toward it, even if it's way beyond what I could ever hope to change on my own.

4. I love Miranda Sings. If you don't know who she is, better check her out on You Tube. I'm a Mirfanda. Haters back off.

5. I'd love to run across the country someday. I might be the oldest person to ever do it by the time I have the time and save the money to do it, but I'd love to.

6. I'd secretly love to drop everything, live by the ocean, and just spend my days painting beautiful landscapes in pastel. I plan to do that when I'm old. Really old. Haven't figured out the living by the ocean part. Will have to win the lottery.

7. I don't watch TV, haven't owned one since 1996, but I'm secretly addicted to political satire shows- the Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and now Larry Wilmore. Good thing they keep moving on, because I'd have too much to watch.

8. I actually do enjoy running when it's 130 degrees outside. Really. When it's 10 degrees, not so much. If I have icicles on my face, not a good thing for me.

9. My favorite jobs ever were making fresh pasta as a prep cook in a restaurant and working in a bakery.

10. I am a germophobe, I am easily grossed out by people sharing their slime in public. Don't cough, sneeze, touch me with your unwashed hands, or even breathe on me. I don't like people anywhere near my food when I'm eating, either. I'm fine with the dogs, but not people. But I have no problem suctioning mucus out of people's lungs, cleaning up blood, urine, poop, or other body fluids. Nitrile gloves are my favorite wardrobe item.

11. People think I run all the time but I actually walk at least as much as I run now. I love it just as much, and I think more clearly.

12. Speaking of running, I like to write about it, but I don't like to think about it or talk about it in a conversation. I don't mind occasionally talking to a group about a specific running-related topic, but it drives me crazy when runners casually come up to me on the street and want to talk running. I couldn't be more bored with a subject. That's why I tend to avoid local road races.

13. I like being alone and quiet. I need it every day.

14. I am thankful for the invention of the smartphone technology that allows me to take pictures of everything, as many as I want, all the time.

15. I was one of those people who never knew what they wanted to be when they grow up. Then just recently I realized all the things I've done in my life have led up to what I'm doing now at this moment, it all has a purpose and I am very happy with it.

So those are the 15 random facts about me. I left out the ones that you already know if you've been around this blog for a while, like my tendency to pogo stick, my strong affinity for Australian Shepherds, that I resent corporate greed, and that I love local microbrews.

Now it's your turn. Let's hear 15 random facts. You're IT!

Getting Smashed

I finally gave up on trying to shrink my butt in time to go to California. If I'm fat this year, so be it. I was complaining to Dennis the other day that none of my shorts fit me, so he said, "Buy new shorts."

It takes a man to come up with a simple solution. Why do women always have to jump through the hoops and tunnels, and do the whole agility course of dealing with something as simple as a little weight gain? I haven't run since last week's four Rock Repeats. I was sore for 5 days after that and then we've had a bunch of rain, to the point where we've got mushrooms growing all over the yard. I've been working and finding all sorts of reasons not to go running.
I am simply not ready to focus on being a lean, efficient runner right now. I have too many other things going on. So I finally went out Wednesday and bought 3 new pairs of shorts, and surprise I actually found some to fit my butt, at a reasonable price. Mission accomplished.

On Tuesday I had my mammogram, my regular visit to the boob smasher. I always dread this visit for several reasons, obviously the fear of what it might find, as I'm considered at higher than average risk for breast cancer, but also, I have to go through the halls of my former employer and run into people I know. And then I usually get asked, "are you still up at the hospital?" or some such question...coming up on two years since I left.

Two years ago on my way into the building I ran into one of the pulmonologists I used to work with, I just came right out and told him when he asked what I was up to. Then he was all worried, and I had to reassure him that it was routine, not because I had any problems. And then last year right after my annual smashing I ran into one of the big wigs and gave him my long-overdue exit interview in the parking lot.

So this year I scanned my surroundings carefully as I walked from the parking lot into the building. Walking past the seating area for urgent care there were no familiar faces anywhere. I ducked into the breast center and the volunteer immediately sent me to the check-in desk. The woman checking me in was having a laughing fit over something and could not get rid of her giggles. I'm glad she was having fun at work, because otherwise the place is pretty somber. They took me back immediately and I changed into the pink flannel gown that opens in the front and sat down in the waiting area for the tech to get me.

I've never had to wait very long there, and she came back to get me in a few minutes. We walked to an office where they review your health history and risk factors and so on. I noticed she didn't ask if I was having any problems or concerns. That should have been a question. Yes, I'm concerned, they hurt like hell lately. Sometimes even with a tight running bra on I want to reach up and smash them against my chest to keep them from moving. That would look pretty silly though, running down the street holding my boobs. When I was in for my checkup we were talking about hormones and menopause and how that would do it.

I was more anxious than usual this time. Maybe because of the pain, or just the fact that when you work with people with cancer all the time you start to get paranoid for yourself. I don't know. The actual smashing part didn't hurt at all except for the left one when they do the diagonal image. But even that wasn't bad. She hesitated and looked at the pictures before letting me go, and then told me they'd send me a letter in the mail within 10 days, and if they found anything concerning they'd give me a call this week. The usual thing.

I got out of there without seeing anyone I knew, ran across the parking lot and drove home. Tried to forget about it, even though it would be in the back of my mind until I heard. I have never been called back before and I hope to continue that streak.

So yesterday around noon I was sitting out in the woman cave in a driving rainstorm outside and my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and it was my doctor's office.

The entire contents of my abdominal cavity dropped, I felt that adrenaline rush and fear sensation, that funny metallic taste in my mouth. Less than 24 hours had passed.

I answered the call, feeling shaky. It was the MA for my doctor, she was calling to ask me what my mail order pharmacy was. I asked her why. She said the one they had on record wasn't the right one. I said, "Is there anything else you're calling about?"

"No, just that."

I felt my gut move up a foot or so. I changed the brand of one of my thyroid medications when I was there a week ago. I threw my head back looking at the ceiling, let out a huge sigh of relief.

"You scared me so bad, I thought you were calling because I had my mammogram yesterday."

She said, "Oh, no, I'm sorry! Actually I just sent you a letter telling you that everything was fine with the mammogram."

All of my organs suddenly floated back into place. I asked her to check where my other prescriptions were going, and she found it. I don't know why she couldn't have figured it out herself by looking in the computer, but whatever. I got some reassuring information. Nothing else mattered.

When we got off the phone, I wondered, if they knew about my mammogram results, why the hell can't they tell you right away instead of sitting on it until a letter comes by snail mail? They were going to let me sweat it out. I could have called to find out, but in 24 hours I had already distracted myself enough to not have it in the front of my mind. Not only that, if she knew I just had my mammogram yesterday because she sent out the results, why couldn't she have started the conversation by reassuring me that it was okay?

HELLO!!

I don't think I've ever waited 10 days for the results, but there really should be a rapid system that lets the patient know immediately after the results are read by the radiologist even if they are negative. My doctor is a breast cancer survivor too. Our healthcare system really needs to serve patients, not itself. My little fantasy, I know, but I'm working on it.

So now I'm back to sitting on my butt, until later this morning when I will go out and run, even in the fog and rain. I need to or my brain is going to start growing mushrooms.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Legs Hurt!

We had a red white and blue sky the evening before July 4th. I didn't run on the 4th though, I was sort of in pain.

After the solstice jog, I took it fairly easy for a week. I ran an hour daily after taking a couple of days off. Then life got going again and I didn't have much time to run, so I did an hour a day of running. Then I had an appointment cancellation last Wednesday and decided it would be the perfect opportunity to get some vertical in on some Rock Repeats. Since my biggest vertical so far has been in the neighborhood of 3000 feet at a time, I decided that 4000 or so would be a good progression. Four Rock Repeats at 1100 feet of climb and descent each. That yields 17.2 miles and 4400 feet of vertical. A nice morning workout.

I felt good and consistent on my climbs and descents, wasn't slow at all, and ran a good bit of the way up too. Along the way I also saw two fawns with spots, 2 snakes, one four foot bull snake and a skinny racer, about a dozen deer, and a lot of people. On the last descent I could feel my quads and I knew I was in for some soreness, but I didn't realize how much.

It's Sunday morning and my legs HURT!! They were not too bad the first day after, but by Friday they were screaming and I was hobbling down the stairs. Dennis gave me a massage and I walked 5 miles, but that didn't do too much. By yesterday I was still hurting. And here it is Sunday, I thought maybe they'd be better by now. Going down the stairs this morning hurt, just not as bad. I am going to try running today but it might end up as a walk.

Being Fourth of July weekend we hung out around the house. Dennis had a long weekend and did some work on the yard, I got some work done in the cave.

Today is Isabelle's 14th birthday and we are having a party. Our friend Anna is coming over to celebrate with us, and she will be staying with the girls later this summer when we go to California.

Having two fourteen year old girls is pretty awesome. I'm glad they are so much better behaved than I was at fourteen. I think about it everyday, I know they won't last forever, but they're still in good health and I am thankful for every day I have with them. And they're so beautiful, cute, entertaining and funny.

The good thing, despite all the discomfort, is that I feel confident about pacing Bob a lot of miles in Death Valley next month if he needs me to. He's designated me as crew chief for the return trip. Ha! Not sure I ever wanted to be THAT responsible. But it's fine. It will be fun and I know what to do. It's been hot there, like 125 degrees lately. A good supply of ice will keep me going. I'll keep on progressing the vertical over the month, trying to get one good run a week in over the next few weeks. I have not been up to altitude yet, I am going to try to get up to Estes Park to climb Longs to the Boulderfield at least a couple of times before I leave for Death Valley.

Bob still hasn't secured enough permits for Mt. Whitney, I might end up not doing that climb as a result, but it's okay. I am planning a trip to Sushi Koma and the Neon Museum when I'm in Vegas. Nice distractions.

Vertical and heat training will have to resume after Death Valley, to be prepared for the Grand Canyon in October. I have so few days to get out for long or serious runs, probably one per week if I'm lucky. I can't even plan ahead much, I have to go by my brain's rhythms. I work my butt off in the cave for a few days and get a lot done, and then my brain is fried, I need to get away from thinking and writing.

My dad is in California for most of the summer, he just started his new chemo and I'm hoping he'll feel okay most of the time, and can enjoy being at the beach and getting out without too much fatigue.

Sorry I don't have a lot of running adventures to report but there will be more as the summer and year goes on. Bob's return trip will be a TRIP, that's for sure. He always tells me I'm a TRIP, so I will make sure we all have a TRIP to remember.

I'm keeping it open-ended because I have no idea how long it will take us to get back to Badwater from Whitney, but I want him to have a successful outcome. That's the most important thing. Get back to Badwater safe, in one piece, and with the satisfaction of being the first 70 year old to ever complete a double. Pretty awesome in my book.