Tuesday, September 16, 2014
I think I will be feeling bouncy by mid-week though. Give me a couple of days cooped up in an airplane and rental car, and I'll be ready to fly in circles. Velcro strips on the ceiling...
As of today the forecast for Cleveland on Saturday is very warm with possible rain at night, and some good wind. There's a 16 mph wind predicted, high of 79, low of 66. We'll see how much that changes by the weekend. At the lake, the wind is always a factor, hopefully it will cool us off.
I am ready, and I have recruited a very kind person named Bill to refill the ice in the cooler for us if it is a warm day. Beth and I will be meeting at the hotel on Friday and being mellow. We both like to keep our energy conserved for the race, do a minimum of socializing and such.
My plan is to go very steadily and consistently in my run/walk pattern through the first 12-18 hours. There is nothing to be gained by pushing too hard early. Especially if it's hot. I'm not even going to pay attention to any kind of numbers until after midnight. I will be completely in my own race and my own world.
In these competitive races, it's too easy to get caught up in someone else's pace and it can destroy a race plan. Can't worry about what anyone else is doing. I'm not racing them anyway, I am racing myself, for my own best performance. I have printed out Nick Clark's words to me that he sent me last spring, and I have had my pep talk from Wheaties Boy. I am ready to go.
You can follow the live results, which should be updated approximately every hour, from 9 am Eastern time Saturday the 20th, until 9 am Sunday the 21st, at this link. I hope to be somewhere in the middle of the pack for most of the day and into the evening. That is how I run best.
I had to pack, then repack, first because the bag was too heavy and then the weather forecast gave me more reason to get rid of some of the extra bulky stuff I packed. Finally today I went through everything one more time and took out another pile of unnecessary stuff. The bag still is heavy though, and just as stuffed.
I'll be staying with Lynn and Suzy again in Columbus before heading to Cleveland. Lynn is running the race this year too. I'll be doing a lot of resting and eating while I'm there.
I've been through my list half a dozen times, and I think I've got everything taken care of that I can possibly do before I get to Columbus. All I have to do is show up.
And then DIG IN until there's nothing left. Stay tuned...
Friday, September 12, 2014
Bake for the Cure? That reminded me, October is coming again. "Rah-rah! Go Team Pink!"
The pink scourge.
Every fall the Pepto-nauseation-fest begins. Just like months before Christmas, the big money makers might as well start pinking everything up in June. Let's just keep selling pink and squeeze it for as long as we can.
With the Komenesque revelations of recent times, people are beginning to become more aware that their so-called pink dollars are not going entirely to good causes.
Last fall, shortly before I quit working at the hospital, someone hung an object on the wall behind the nurses station. It was a pink decorated bra. The cups looked like Hostess Snowballs, remember those gag-me-with-a-spoon pink coconut thingies they sold in packages of two? It was framed behind glass.
I remember when I first saw it, I mentioned that I thought it was almost offensive. At that point, I don't think I had a single positive thing to say about my workplace, I was headed out the door within weeks. Everyone else seemed to disagree, the other nurses were oohing and aaaahing over it, thinking it was cute. I didn't think it belonged in an infusion center where people were getting chemo.
Taking someone's agony and turning it into a cute, fluffy, foofy ornament. Some people aren't bothered by this, but there are quite a few who are. And cute little pink feathery, coconutty bras make a disease that changes lives (most often not for the better) and often kills people into something adorable and palatable to the public.
First of all there is no single, simple cure. Cancer is too diverse of a disease category to have a single "cure" in the works. Sometimes it can go away and never come back. Yes, in some people, after treatment it never comes back. But that doesn't mean you've cured cancer. The only way to cure cancer as we know it right now is to make people out of something other than cells with DNA in them. Hey, we're working on it...
Other forms of cancer get ignored. The fact that men also get breast cancer gets ignored. The fact that women get other kinds of cancer and in other places in their bodies besides in their breasts get ignored, and breast cancer gets lumped into one big category as if there is just one disease going on that one simple pink-funded cure would take care of. And boobs are soft, likeable things that are non-threatening and easy to sell. Feminine and docile.
And it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, do we have to commercialize everything...someone is always opportunistically making a buck. Speaking of cancer and opportunities...now we have discussion of recommendations that all women get screened for certain genetic mutations known to be associated with high risk for certain types of cancer.
The emotional repercussions of testing positive for these mutations are critical to understand and consider so that people can be fully supported if they do test positive, because serious health and quality of life-altering decisions must be made. It's not something that a profit-minded approach will approach carefully.
I am concerned that there is way too much profitmongering in the name of cancer and not nearly enough attention to the very real and personal and immediate needs of people who have it. And it's football season again, will the wonderful NFL with their domestic violence problem don their pink helmets and uniforms again? Watch out for those nonprofits...and you can, here.
This fall, Purge the Pink Scourge. If you're going to donate to cancer, do your homework. Here's a good organization to support, specific to breast cancer: Breast Cancer Action.
But don't forget, cancer likes more than just boobies, and it happens all year, not just October.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
The Fort Collins Running Club happens to be a nonprofit, or not-for-profit, as we say now. And that is an important point. The Fort Collins Running Club truly does use it's proceeds to benefit the running community. No one makes any money off the club. It is purely for social benefit.
Not for profit means that the purpose of the entity is not to make a profit. The purpose of the organization is something other than making a profit. That doesn't mean it's a charity.
But organizations with nonprofit status often do make profits and enrich certain entities within their ranks, namely, people. Rather than go on too much about that, I'll get to the point.
I don't normally write about sports other than running, but this whole deal with Ray Rice and other domestic abusers in the NFL has me thinking about all of the questionable activity and abuse that goes on, not just in professional sports organizations, but in other so-called not-for-profit entities. As far as I'm concerned, I think the NFL should not be allowed to be nonprofit. Their main purpose as far as I can see, is to line the pockets of too many overpaid criminals and sociopaths within the ranks of the organization, from football players to owners. Same could be said for many other "professional" sports.
The good ol' boys club makes excuses and defends their members who get away with whatever they are able to hide, and often they don't even need to hide it.
Something happened the other day that got me thinking about nonprofits. I was out and about in town, distributing some flyers for a cancer exercise support group I'm starting. I'm doing it with the help of a local athletic club, they are donating the space and materials, and I am facilitating the group. Neither of our businesses are making a cent off of this. The only monetary benefit to either of our businesses is if someone joins the group and decides they'd like to either join the health club as a member, or hire me for private coaching services, but there is no obligation to do this in order to fully participate in the group.
There is no cost to join the group, we are not charging anything, and neither of our businesses have nonprofit status. However, we are offering it for the benefit of people in the community, to improve their health and well-being at a time when they need help.
As I was out distributing the flyers, I'd go into coffee shops and other places with bulletin boards and ask if I could post my flyer. 95% of the time, the answer is yes, sure. And many of the people I spoke with in the businesses were supportive of the idea of the group and even thanked me for doing something like that.
However, there were a few who said no, or "we have to think about it", their reason being, we only post flyers for nonprofits.
Fair enough. I can understand that if every business tried using their boards for marketing, they'd be inundated with garbage on their walls.
However, two of the entities who said no were Starbucks and the local public library. Starbucks has it's own policy and they are a privately held business so I can understand that, but when I looked at the other flyers on their board, there were several that I thought didn't fit the nonprofit category, for example, an author trying to sell a self-published book.
With Starbucks trying to promote itself as a socially conscious company, I just felt that something offered free to benefit the community in this way would be more appropriate for the board, but that's Starbucks' decision. Even though as two small local business doing something for the community and regular customers of Starbucks, maybe there would be some consideration, in light of the author flyer up there on the board. I let it go.
At the public library, however, you would think they'd want to promote community health. We are two small local businesses. If the big healthcare organizations in town, which have nonprofit status, put similar flyers up with free offerings for community health, there wouldn't be a problem. However, those organizations rake in multimillions of dollars in PROFIT each quarter. Yes, PROFIT.
Yet the people at the tops of these organizations often have very exorbitant salaries and benefit packages while they skimp on the bottom of the organization, namely, the people who do the work. The top brass ask them to work harder and harder for less and squeeze them, they lose jobs and livelihoods when staffing is cut to reduce costs, when those at the top have no worries about paycheck to paycheck subsistence. If they get fired, they have a golden parachute to a new multimillion dollar salary.
Then we have the recent issues with health care IT security. Computerized systems at health care organizations throughout the country are being breached by hackers. Personal, private information is being stolen. The big organizations that claim their clients' information is protected by HIPAA are now soiling their shorts to stay ahead of the law.
All those expensive consultants they hired to help them adjust to the demands of health care reform somehow conveniently ignored the costly legal expense of protecting their electronic health record systems in their rush to grab money. Security is expensive, but somehow these smart guys forgot to include that little detail. Funny how that works. And when these organizations have to start spending megabucks on security upgrades and experts, guess where the costs will be passed along?
The consumers. Yes, you and me.
If we would invest in the needs of the people, instead of the wants of a few criminals and sociopaths, maybe we could justify having nonprofit professional football leagues and health care organizations, that generated money for real health, education, and addressing poverty.
All I have to say is, think. Wake up and smell it.
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Well every damn back road between Fort Collins and Loveland that I usually take to get down there was blocked off for construction. I swear, every time I turned to make a detour, my alternate route was blocked by another road project. After driving twice as far and out of my way several times, I was pissed. Why do they always do this? They can't just do construction on one little part of the road, they have to do it on multiple nearby intersections, so the only logical detours are also under construction. Some bonehead planned that one. We seem to have an ongoing problem with that in this area. Hmmm.
I don't have a lot of patience for traffic anyway, I'm sort of like TOWANDA! I'm older and have more insurance, so get the hell outta my way, get your thumbs out of your ass, put your foot on the gas pedal, point your car in the direction you want to go, get off the phone, quit texting, smoking, eating, putting on your makeup, yakking at the person next to you or on your Bluetooth gadget, and drive with a F@#$ing purpose!
Yesterday I had to go somewhere on an errand at 3:30 pm. It took 5 changes of the light at Horsetooth and Timberline before I could turn right. It wasn't even rush hour. It's not even a big city. But Timberline road is under construction right now, on both the north and south ends of town. It also happens to travel through the part of town with the most growth. Hello traffic engineers?! Hello?!! It took me 25 minutes to go somewhere that normally takes 10 minutes.
It's funny, Fort Collins was named one of the safest driving cities by some insurance company, probably because no one files claims with them. But Fort Collins, is AWFUL in some respects when it comes to traffic, no matter what they say about it being a great place to live. There are so many slow damn drivers, people who drive, as I like to say, "with their thumbs up their asses".
Slow drivers especially make me absolutely nutty. And it's true that slow drivers are worse because they cause accidents, because people get pissed off and then try to get around them and end up crashing into something. I try not to do that, though, I usually just cuss them out under my breath and make snide remarks about their level of consciousness and lack of intelligence.
But I'm launching into a rant, and I don't feel like going there, so I'll save it for another time. Maybe.
Anyway, I ended up driving way around Boyd Lake and down Madison, around to Highway 34, and then up Rocky Mountain Avenue with all the roundabouts by the hospital there. By the time I got there, I was late and hoping Laura wasn't lost. She wasn't. She was sitting in the parking lot waiting. And I was pretty much on time, less than 10 minutes late.
Laura and I followed the path to the original road, jumping over chunks of mud and rocks torn up by the heavy equipment. We ran down the east side road and caught the bridge to the south end, which was intact. The construction was all the way down to the existing houses.
After that we ran backward and caught the ditch road and followed it west. As we were running, I recognized a runner I had met just last Monday at the half marathon, we'd been standing in line together before the race and got to talking. We stopped, I introduced her to Laura, and we talked. Then Laura and I took off, and we soon turned around to limit our run to an hour and a half.
It was so nice to see Laura. She started running about a year ago and when we worked together, she was frustrated that she had gained weight when she had her last baby a few years ago, I think her youngest daughter is 3 now. She dropped some weight, started running, and now she is very fit and seems happy with her newfound passion of running. She wants to do an ultra. Her son ran cross country and track in high school and was a very good athlete. I'm pretty sure he got his running talent from her.
After I drove back to Fort Collins, on I-25, which I would have taken in the first place if I'd known about traffic hell, I got home, took a shower, and went over to Starbucks to meet a fellow nurse, who is in graduate school and working in oncology, to discuss the state of health care in general, our career ambitions, and solve the world's problems pertaining to health care and delivery of cancer services.
After our talk, I went out and distributed some flyers for my upcoming bimonthly exercise & cancer support group that I'm starting at Raintree Athletic Club in October. And picked up some crack at Runner's Roost- the chocolate cherry Clif Shot kind of crack, to have for my race. The high octane stuff.
I'm not looking forward to ice, but I have a feeling winter will come early this year. It feels like it's about 3 weeks ahead of schedule. But for the next few weeks, I can enjoy the changing colors and all the other things that make it my favorite season.
Friday, September 5, 2014
The decision has been made by the National Park Service in regards to the future of the Badwater Ultramarathon held in Death Valley National Park.
I have an opinion. It's all mine, not Chris Kostman's, or the race's.
In a nutshell, the way it would affect the race, on the surface, is that the park will no longer allow the event to be held in the summer months of July and August. There are additional stipulations too. All of which appear to be things that were already covered. Some apply to all events held in the park, not just this one.
I don't understand why they would want to have the Badwater Ultramarathon during a time, according to the bureaucrats' thinking, when the temperatures were cooler, where there would likely be more tourists and more traffic on the road.
Heat illness has not been an issue that affects public safety either. Most runners and crews do a great job with avoiding that. And the medical team, staffed with real medical professionals, has it handled and fixed in almost every instance, and if it's more serious, which is rare, are more than qualified and prepared to get the person the proper and timely care. They want to hold the race outside of July and August months. It can get just as hot in June and September. Some years in July it is only 110 degrees on race day.
According to my friend Sasquatch, who is a real live meteorologist, and a solo Badwater finisher, "June and Sept are not as hot as July and August, climatologically, but that doesn't mean it doesn't get hot other times as well. We're talking about 6 degrees of difference here."
Here is a climatological summary of the temps and precip in Death Valley, per month:
There might be some race directors out there who don't have all their ducks in a row, but the Badwater Ultramarathon is meticulous about participants' attention to safety.
I've heard people saying it's the nanny state mentality. That these decisions were made by people who are too lazy to get up from their desks and walk across the parking lot, so they drive those big government vehicles half a block to the next building instead. There is some truth to these assertions. I worked for the Park Service one summer in college. I've seen it myself.
A bureaucrat comes along and forces a decision. Well, bureaucrats come and go, as is evident from the auditorium at Stovepipe Wells, where the dozens of portraits of former Death Valley National Park supervisors hang in the room where we always had the medical team set up. Perhaps in the future, someone will change their mind. And if not, there are alternatives.
Traditionalists will say that the race is not the same, it has to be held in the heat of the summer. I think this will push more people to do solos, something that could be more dangerous. I also think it could also result in people attempting more risky routes. The Park Service does not understand the mentality of ultrarunners. AT ALL. We are talking about people who, if told they can't do something, will do it times a gazillion.
A few years back, when Michael Popov died attempting to cross the salt pan, that had nothing whatsoever to do with the Badwater Ultramarathon race.
Obviously the Park doesn't see it the way runners do. They see budgets and staffing, that's for sure. Parks are supposed to be for the enjoyment of the people. Which people? I wonder how Xanterra sees it, the company that runs the concessions and hotels and restaurants?
I'm not happy about it, but it remains to be seen what Chris will do and how the relationship between DVNP and the race will be going forward.
I'm thankful that I did the race when I did, and my road double when I did, and I'm glad I didn't put it off until my 50th birthday, which would have been this year, because it wouldn't have happened, at least not the same way.
But I feel horrible for those who have put so much effort into the event for years and years and have turned it from a tiny offbeat little gathering to a real, legitimate, world-renowned race and adventure that captures international attention. And for those who had running Badwater as a long term goal or dream for so many years and never quite made it while the event was as it was, until 2014.
Times have changed. Thinking has changed. Power dynamics have changed. Priorities have changed. The helicopter bureaucrats have prevailed.
The only thing that is guaranteed is change. We will see what happens, stay tuned.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
She had only been diagnosed this spring, but she had a type of cancer that is often very advanced when it is detected and it was really too late to do much for it with the treatments that are available. From what those who were close to her have told me, she was very brave about the whole ordeal and faced it with a realistic attitude, despite the horrible pain and suffering she surely had toward the end of her life.
I have known Jane since 1990, but I didn't ever get to know her well. We ran into each other every couple of years at a local event or on the trails. She was always nice and we'd always chit chat briefly, and then go on about our respective runs. We had different friends and different interests. My husband and she were competing in road races in about the same time frame and I believe they traveled to several races together. I am not sure if she ever ran for Reebok like Dennis did, but Dennis knew her better than I did.
I remember an old friend of ours, Norm, who used to write for several of the local sports publications, interviewed her in 1989 or 1990. At the time, she was about 35, and she was probably at the peak of her running career. We lived on Mountain Avenue at the time, and I can remember him sitting in our living room, talking about Jane and not only how good of a runner she was, but how great of a person she was. He had interviewed lots of runners, a lot of elite runners, and Jane left a big impression on him as the person she was.
I really feel for the running community, those who did know her and loved her. She did a lot for the local runners in addition to putting on events like the Bacon Strip and Mountain Avenue Mile, she started the Tuesday night track group, organized speed workouts in the cemetery, and she provided a lot of support and inspiration for many local runners of all abilities.
It's a huge loss, and losses are not common among fellow runners, because the whole sport of running as we know it has only been around for 40 years or so. It's something that we will begin to face more often.
But it's hard to watch someone not even 60 years old, who was a runner and elite athlete and leader in the running community suddenly go from strong and fit and active to sick and withering away before our eyes.
The runners from the track group dedicated a bench to her at the CSU track called "Quada, Quada" because that is how she pronounced "quarter" in her strong Boston accent. They did it a few weeks ago, while she was still with us, and she was able to be there.
I am glad to see they have already done these things to honor her in life, and now that she is gone, she is being honored in other ways. I am sure that there will be more than one Jane Welzel memorial events in her honor, well-deserved.
I hope that the local runners who knew her will share their feelings with each other and do whatever they can to cope with the loss, because it's really hard for people to come to terms with the fact that she is gone, and from such a brutal disease. Yes, it can happen to anyone. It sounds like this type of cancer was a hereditary one, her brother died from it too.
Being a runner doesn't make you immune at all. Even if there is no family history, cancer is one of those things that at least a third of us, maybe half of us, will have to deal with someday. While 5-10% of cancers are hereditary, meaning passed down from one generation to the next, cancer is often a disease of aging, of genetics, meaning mutations in the DNA, and of numbers. And it presents itself in hundreds of different forms.
What is important is to honor the memory of Jane and what she meant to the running community here. She did the things that money can't buy...providing support and a venue for runners to do what they love, and also championing something she cared about, which happened to be eating disorders.
Most of the readers of this blog didn't know Jane, but I think a good way to honor Jane is to live your life as fully as possible. If there are things you dream of doing but have put off, no matter how old you are, do them. Do them now, or ASAP. Don't wait. Don't make excuses, because the opportunity might not be there someday.
Tonight I went to a local support group meeting, called Sharing the Cancer Journey, that I used to attend regularly when I was working at the hospital there. I used to go in order to listen to the patient's perspective, to understand what people wanted and needed. I learned more from listening to the people in that group than anything my nursing education or on-the-job training ever taught me. I hadn't been there in a long time, not once since I quit the hospital last fall, probably at least a year and half or two years.
The speaker tonight was leading a group activity on writing your story. He was encouraging people to write, because it is a difficult exercise to go back into your traumatic events and relive the details, but it can be very therapeutic and useful for passing along your legacy to future generations. Since I write all the time it was not anything new to me to do it, but I did learn from how the people in the group responded to it. Writing about difficult things is scary, it bring emotions to the surface and painful memories can come back in vivid forms.
But I have learned from years of writing and journaling that getting the toxic and painful feelings out is one of the most freeing and healing things you can do to purge those experiences and heal. Writing it all out, puke on paper, whatever you call it, freehand writing is powerful. I've been doing it again in the mornings to clear my mind of all the clutter I have because of the multiple projects, thoughts and ideas I have right now.
Writing helped me move through my feelings about leaving my old, toxic, evil nursing job. I knew I had arrived at a healing place when tonight I stopped by my old workplace and said hi to my old coworkers. I was able to walk through the hospital without any weird feelings or a sick feeling in my stomach like I used to get.
If you have something nagging at you, or troubling you, write it out. Get it out on paper, hand to pen to paper. Do it first thing in the morning, uninterrupted, for 15 or 30 minutes or as long as you can take.
I wrote tonight about the experience of finding out my sister had cancer. While it happened a while ago and I have processed it, this was the first time I have written it out, and it was therapeutic in a way I haven't experienced with that story.
The point is, don't take life for granted, just because you run doesn't mean you're immortal, and when you have pain in your life, purge it in whatever way you can, I recommend writing. Expressing what's on your mind, either on paper or verbally to someone you feel safe with, is the important thing. Don't hold it in.
That's all I have to say tonight.
Monday, September 1, 2014
When I woke up this morning it was September. I've been looking forward to it, even though it's been one of the best summers I can remember in my adult life. I got to travel, run races, do the things I love to do, and I feel good, I have the time to be at a peaceful place in my life, I've been healthy, and I am excited about upcoming plans.
My biggest worry has been about running lately. And that was just the fatigue that I've been feeling for so long. Last week I only ran 30 miles, actually 29 to be exact. After my run with Wheaties Boy on Wednesday I started thinking more about what I need to NOT do before my race. So I've cut back and I've been taking it a lot easier. And then as I was walking yesterday, I had an epiphany about my race plans that helped even more.
I wasn't even sure if I should run this race today. But I figured it would be a decent workout no matter what. I set my sights on a sub-2 hour finish so as not to be disappointed. My short races this summer have all felt disastrous from a pace and finishing time standpoint. I know I don't need the speed for the 24 hour event, but mentally there's something that nags at you when you're not performing in "short" races. But I signed up for this one last week, and I needed to do a run anyway.
The weather was about as perfect as you could ask for, about 50 degrees, which feels cool to everyone after the warm summer. Perfectly clear skies and a slight breeze.
Waiting in line to pick up my race packet, the crowd was energetic and happy. Lots of young people, probably a lot of CSU students who are back now.
Steve announced the start on the megaphone and also told us the news that just yesterday we lost a much loved and admired member of the running community. I will wait to say more in a future post...
I checked my watch split at one mile and it said 7:56. I wasn't struggling either. The next two rolling miles were just over 8 minutes, then we turned onto the dirt road, hill, and trail section that lasted 3 miles before we headed for the Spring Creek bike path. My slowest mile was uphill on the dirt at 9:10. I had my racing tunes on and tried to concentrate on turning my legs over as fast as I could. I kept thinking at that 8 minute or so pace I would eventually poop out, but I didn't, and by the time we turned onto the bike path and there were 6 miles left, I realized I might be a lot faster than 2 hours. I put it in fast autopilot and kept pushing.
The bike path is slightly downhill and I kept passing people, and holding an 8 ish pace was not that bad. My legs were turning over and I was working hard. At 10 miles I was at 1:24, then I ran 8:11 and 7:56 for my next two splits. At the 12 mile mark, precisely, I felt like I was going to puke. Really. So I pulled over onto the grass, had a quick dry heave that brought nothing up, and I got back on the path, starting slowly, but then picked it up when my stomach didn't complain. I was able to bring my pace back down in the 8s again and finish strong in under 1:50.
I was very happy with this finishing time, not because I am satisfied with the time itself, but because I ran nearly 20 minutes faster than I did two weeks ago in the first half of the marathon, and 13 minutes faster than I ran the second half of the marathon. And this is the fastest half marathon I've run all year. After just one week of rest, it has already made a difference.
I am so thankful for Wheaties Boy saving my ass again, talking sense into me. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in your own...orifices? and forget what you're doing. It really helps to have a second opinion from someone who knows!
Back to taper mode...