Saturday, December 30, 2017

Do Epic Sh*t

I think it's a good idea to make your kids do things they don't want to do. It builds character.

For example, make them clean up all the dog poop and if they don't, make them eat it (jk). Make them work and make their own money and budget. Make them talk to their own teachers and advocate for themselves without you stepping in to save them. Make them write thank you notes. Oh, and make them climb this.

Related image
This used to be a cable car track (1900s) that took material up to Pike's Peak for the pipeline.
The railroad ties now make up this massive staircase, climbing 2,000 feet in less than a mile.

I didn't ask for a lot for Christmas (my list was so random - 8 lb hand weights, Run Fat East Slow Cookbook and a fleece pullover from Yo Colorado.  And, one other thing - for our family to do the Manitou Incline. Ken and I had actually been wanting to do this for awhile - the kids not so much. It sucks to have parents who actually like to be outside doing things. 

Sam: So, let me get this straight. We're going to drive two hours to be tortured then drive two hours home?

Basically. Kids are such turds.

I picked the warmest day of the week because on top of all the bitching the kids might do about the climb, I did not also want them bitching about the cold.

As we were driving towards the trail, I could see the incline from the car window. I pointed it out and got a lovely response from the 20 year old in the backseat. Something like, "Oh, eff me!"

10:00 a.m. and right on schedule - we started our ascent. I tried not to recall a statistic I had read about the number of steps to the top (2,744). I also tried not to look up (something I learned while doing the TransRockies Run. The most hell fire way to psych yourself out is to look WAY up to where you need to go).

Emma (16) started strong until the 10th step. Then she said she didn't feel good and couldn't breathe. This wasn't starting out so well. Sam and Ken went ahead. I did my best to provide MC (Mom Coaching) in the least annoying way possible.

As people went by us, every single one sounded like they were going to puke and die. "See?" I said to Emma. "This is hard for every single person, not just us." Then I threw in some words of wisdom like, "No pain, no gain" and "When you're done you'll have bragging rights forever!" <- Not annoying at all to a 16 year old.

She seems to be giving me the finger. MC definitely working.

Emma got teary eyed - psyching herself out. That's when I told her I did not care how many breaks we took, but we weren't going to stand around complaining or she could go back to the car (Shut up and climb 2,744 steps!) At that point I brought out the SMV (Stern Mom Voice) and things seemed to improve.

Emma is the type of girl who sometimes needs to get behind herself. I mean, don't we all? I could see on her face how much her brain was messing with her every single time she looked at the 2,000+ stairs and the steep incline that lay ahead. There is so much value in realizing in those moments that simply moving forward, no matter how slow, is true progress. These socks help

Emma and I have been in this spot together many times. There have been several 10ks that she desperately wanted to do then basically gave up before she went .25 miles (but did finish). You can read one of these stories HERE. Then there was that time we climbed our first 14,000 foot mountain. This was also something she wanted to do, but lost her gusto about a mile before the summit (she did finish that, too). You can read that story HERE.

My point in this is that Emma represents a bit of all of us. We doubt ourselves. We psych ourselves out. We think we can't do hard things. We think we're not worthy or that everyone else is better than we are. Until we prove ourselves wrong. And, with each time we prove ourselves wrong, we get just a bit more behind ourselves.

In the end we made it. Of course we did. One mile may have taken 1.5 hours, but she/we fought hard for it and the victory was sweet.

We are all a bit sore today (because who normally climbs a 2.744 step stairway?). I love that Emma told me this morning - "I keep looking at pictures of the incline because I can't believe I did it."

Overall my kids never want to do that again. That's okay. I know they'll never forget it. As for me - I can't wait to see how fast I can do it (Apollo Ono did it in 17 minutes, so my goal is obviously 16:59).


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Currently...(Running Edition) and Why This Morning Sucked

This morning has started out beautifully! I overslept because I wore earplugs last night and was completely dead to the world as I dreamed about being in Costa Rica and at the same time hating my car insurance carrier (weird how dreams mix all kinds of shit up that just DOES NOT go together).

I got up 14 minutest late and took Heidi out back for her walk. Leaving our yard, the gate completely fell off its hinges, so I just propped it up, figuring someone would take care of it someday (best to ignore things and they go away).

Can anyone come over today and weld this for me? 

Heidi and I got out to the golf course where she left a humongous pile of poop. It was then I realized I forgot a doggie bag (I was still asleep when I left the house, basically). I was in full view of many houses and didn't want to just leave the poop at the tenth tee. So, I did what anyone in that situation does and got a stick and kebab-ed the poop and threw it in the creek. Fish food!

Never tell me I am not creative.

I came inside to Emma telling me it was hat day at school - she was wearing a Santa hat but there was a huge hole in it (yeah because I let Heidi carry it around and rip holes in it the other 11 months of the year). So, guess what? I sewed that shit up in about 5 minutes with my handy sewing kit I got the last time I stayed at the Wynn in Las Vegas. It is totally worth it to spend $400/night at a hotel because you get a sewing kit and can be your daughter's hero on the spot (I wish I had taken a picture of the sewing job before she left for school - it was really grotesque. I should be better as I used to work at a fabric store in high school and actually made some of my own clothes - why wasn't I more popular???)

All of this happened before 7:28 a.m. and now I'm exhausted. But there is this:

And, this because she is cute AF and I just got her a new collar. #therapydog!

How's your morning?

Wait! Is this a running blog? Yep, it is. Truth is, I've been running a fair amount and not blogging or social media-ing about it (that IS possible!!).

Here's the rundown of "Currently...."

Averaging: 25 to 30 miles per week. I'm running 5 days/week with at least one of those days doing a longer run on trails with elevation gain (1,000-2,000 feet). Here I am doing that:

Dreading: The fact that while it is eerily warm here right now, we will be getting into those 10 degree runs where my butt turns into an ass-icle and my snot freezes in place. It's just the Colorado way.

Planning: Trying to narrow down my races for next year. I wish I had more money. I know there will be a 50K or 50 miler in there (thinking about the Dirty Thirty 50K in June and the Crested Butte Ultra 55K in September).

Drinking: Weird, but I have found my pre-run secret sauce. I've always been a Nuun drinker (and a noon drinker, but that's a different story). I have been having 12 ounces of Nuun before my longer runs and it gives me super powers.

Image result for nuun
Strawberry Lemonade is the key to happiness (with vodka - that's noon drinking)

Racing: Not doing too much of that lately. But, guess what? I did a 10K Turkey Trot a couple of weeks ago and it was my third fastest 10K ever. And, I did this magic trick where I finished in 50:00:00 (fifty minutes, not hours) on the dot. I did that because I am 50. Or, because I got lucky.

Obnoxious Christmas ornament

Contemplating: This would be really f*cking stupid, but I a thinking of entering the lottery to do the Leadville 100 Run in August. I have no business doing that, but I have no business doing many of the things I do (remember how I picked up that poop today?)

Anticipating: Guess what?? Looks like I am going back to Nevis (British Virgin Islands) in March with the Tourism Board to do the Nevis to St. Kitts Channel Swim. It is a 2.5 mile swim from - you guessed it - Nevis to St. Kitts. I'm also hoping to climb Mt. Nevis while I'm there (3,500 feet).

Image result for nevis to st. kitts swim images

Reading: The Blue Zones. Probably why I dreamed about Costa Rica.  The book outlines how the author traveled to places in the world where higher percentages of people enjoy remarkably long, full lives and what the lifestyle choices/patterns are of those people. He considers things like climate, how often you're outside, if you own pets, diet, etc.

You can take the author's happiness test HERE. I am a B+ in happiness.

Image result for blue zones
Ken - why don't we live in Ikaria or Nicoya?? Then I'd be an A++++

Welp, that's all I got today!

What was your "grade" on the happiness test?

What job did you have in high school?

What's one race goal you have for 2018?


Monday, November 27, 2017

The Slacker's Guide to Creating New Habits (Like Running) and Breaking Sh*tty Ones

My son, Sam, was home from college for the weekend. He likes to come home because he misses me so much. Or, maybe it's because I feed him and provide him with a bed that has clean sheets (I think he told me has not yet changed his sheets on his college bed - I mean, it has only been three months since he got there so it's not like they're dirty or anything. It's not like there's B.O. and pieces of skin and drool all over them or anything).

Anyhow, I asked him if he was working out anymore. He used to go to the gym pretty regularly. He said, "No. It's just so hard to get over the hump mentally to get started again." And, I completely know what he means. The thing is, that's precisely why I never take a significant break from running or exercise. Because I'm afraid if I'm gone too long and I get out of the habit, it will be that much harder to start up again.

What I've learned is that there are two things in life that are really tough (well, there are many more, but these are just two of them): breaking bad habits and starting new, healthier habits.

Take drinking wine, for example. I am very much in the habit of nightly wine drinking, for better or for worse. I know it's become a habit - a way I reward myself. A glass while I cook dinner. A glass to accompany me when I watch "This Is Us" (although I probably get even more emotionally manipulated by that show when I'm drinking). I know I could stop my nightly drinking (but why would I want to?), but it's the breaking of the habit that is so hard.

If you're old enough, you remember that we didn't used to wear seat belts. Like, not ever. Then it became the law and the norm that you had to wear a seat belt. Buzz kill. There go all of the cross country road trips where we would lay down in the back of the station wagon on the old plaid blanket from the garage. Anyway, at first putting on a seat belt was such a pain in the ass. You had to make a conscious effort to do and you felt so restricted. But, now that it has become a habit? I do it so automatically I don't even know I do it. Bingo! That's the point of this post!

Running has become that way for me. Just part of my life and my routine. Kind of like drinking wine and brushing my teeth (not at the same time). I don't run everyday, but I do run about five days a week and don't feel like myself if I don't do it.

Thanksgiving Day run. 

So, how do you create a new habit or break a bad one? (I'm going to use the example of someone who wants to start drinking more water every day because their pee should be the color of Crystal Light Lemonade and it looks like Guinness, but you could apply this to running more, drinking less wine, cutting back on coffee or not eating sweets). I call this the "The Slacker's Guide" because it doesn't require a ton of imagination or creativity. Even your college kid can do it.

1. Keep the goal basic, manageable and simple. Don't go all crazy with ridiculous goals from the get go our you'll fail. Sorry, you just will. KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Sorry I called you stupid.

Example: I'll drink at least 48 ounces of water per day.

2. Make one very small change. Lots of small changes over a long period of time equals one gigantic change. But, again, don't try to do it all at once.

Example: I will buy a 24 ounce Nathan water bottle and have it with me when I'm at work and when I'm driving. I will drink two bottles per day.

3. Tell people. This is always a tough one for me because I don't want to announce it to the world and then have people judge and criticize me if I don't do it, because that is wildly annoying. But, I do think letting a few people know holds you accountable.

Example: Hello mom. I am going to drink more water so that I pee a brighter and healthier color. Please call me out of I'm not doing it and I promise not to say "STFU Mom!"

4. Embrace the discomfort. Making change is hard and even if you are doing it for your health or some positive reason, it is still hard. So when it gets hard, don't fuck up. Just surrender to the suck of it and move forward. It will be an up and down journey.

ExampleGod. I am so fucking sick of drinking two 24 ounces bottles of water a day. I just can't do it anymore. Wait. Yes I can. Drinking all this water will be hard at times, but my skin looks better and I pee Crystal Light!

5. Commit to three weeks. Someone once said (probably George Washington or Beyonce) that creating a new habit or breaking an old one takes 21 days. So, assume it will get much easier beyond this point.

Example: I will drink 48 ounces per day for 21 days. <BASIC

I know this sounds simple. It actually is simple in theory. But putting it into action gets tough. The trick is to just make the decision to do these four things and to not be side-railed. Don't be like everyone else and wait until January 1st to create new habits or break old ones. There's no time like the present.

What's one habit you want to break or start?


Monday, November 13, 2017

13 Things We Probably Don't Agree On

If you thought I was going to discuss religion or politics - you would be mistaken! I won't touch those subjects with a ten foot pole. Or, my finger toe.

Morton's toes rule! So do pedicures, but clearly
I'm out of the loop on that one.
Over the years I've realized there are things I like and hate that seem to completely go against the grain of civilization. Maybe this is true for everyone, I don't know. But, sometimes I feel like an oddball with my preferences. Don't know what I'm talking about? Read on.

1. I cannot run with a hand held bottle. I know I should, but it just feels wrong to me, like it throws me off balance. And, I hate running with anything in my hands. I know if I continue doing trail races and eventually ultras, I should probably get the hang of it, but for now it's just not my thing. I always go for my Hydraquiver from Orange Mud.

2. I don't like or eat ice cream. The taste is okay, but not worth the calories to me. And, it also sometimes make me feel shitty. Maybe it's an aversion from when I drank a huge milk shake that resulted in my most embarrassing moment ever (see HERE). So, don't ask me to go to DQ or anything like that. I'd rather go to a wine bar.

3. I like Atloids, but I can't handle a whole one (that's what she said), so I suck on it for about 30 seconds and spit it out (that's what she said). This is usually done in my car where I keep the Altoids. Once a month I pick up the semi-sucked on mints from the floor and throw them away.

4. I can't stand Monty Python movies and I especially can't stand when people quote from the movie and try to do the accent.

5. I hate my bare feet on the floor. I have to have slippers on my feet in my house. Always.

I knitted these. JK, they came from Kohls.

6. When I'm running with someone they have to be on my right side. It's just how it is. That works out really well when we are on the road because I'm always on the inside and then I am not the one to get hit by the car first.

7. I hate rum. And, gin. So when I visit the Caribbean I don't do all those daiquiris, Mai-Tais etc. And any martini I have is vodka based.

8. I don't like Twitter and rarely use it. Just not my thing.

9. That book, A Man Called Ove? Didn't love it. I know this will make me very unpopular. People have extreme love for that book. In fact, people at my book club asked me, "Do you even have a heart?"

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by [Backman, Fredrik]

10. I don't understand all the hype about Nutella. Don't hit me.

11. When I go to Starbucks I always get straight coffee. Don't like the fancy drinks.

12. Please don't ask me to put pineapple on my pizza. I don't get it.

13. I don't spend any time in the bathroom when I poop. I'm in and out in about 2 minutes flat. I don't see any reason to hang out in there. I can think of better places to spend my time.

I could probably go on and on, but this is a good start.So, now it's your turn to tell me how much you disagree with me.

Tell me something you hate or love that most people would't agree with.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Guess What I Found on My Run? (No, It Wasn't a Dead Body)

First let's talk about yesterday.

Image result for shalane flanagan

Did anyone else turn into one giant crying goose bump as she ran into the finish? Or, was it just me? You know you really love running when you cannot get enough of watching someone with such perfect form and stride run. I could literally watch her for hours. What a race. What grit and determination.

Moving on.

So, I was running on Thursday minding my own business when I spotted something along the sidewalk. Like you, I am always spotting random stuff while I run, but I rarely stop to pick it up unless it's money. And, it never is. Usually I see lots of dental picks and empty Fireball bottles. Once I saw a live parakeet and a pair of underwear (not mine. Eww).

But on Thursday, this random item caught my eye. It looked like part of someone's journal, so I picked it up. And damn if it wasn't someone's diary from 1989! I stuck it in my pocket and within a few feet found two more clumps of pages from the same journal. I took those too. In total there were about 30 pages.

I could not wait to get home to read the juicy tidbits that were surely contained in these pages. I kept a journal and it was FULL of details about romantic crushes, nights out on the town, friendships gone bad and all kinds of other drama. I fully expected the same from these pages I found on the sidewalk.

As I walked in the door, I laid out the pages perfectly and in order. I made a steamy cup of coffee and sat down to read what I assumed would be a steamy collection of private and revealing memories. I honestly didn't feel the least bit guilty about reading this diary as clearly someone had thrown it out of their car for all of the world to see. Public information! They could have burned it. They could have eaten it. They could have buried it behind the shed in their backyard.

The handwriting looked like that of an adult, but I quickly learned that the thoughts were that of someone who was ten years old. Seems she was reciting her thoughts and her mom was writing them down. That should have been my first indication that there would be nothing juicy in those pages. The journal started in June 1989 when the family was travelling in Europe. There was talk of hotels, ducks and the weather.
Image result for boring
The family then return to Boulder and I assumed things would take a devious turn. The ten year old would have a crush on her teacher! She would steal a Snickers bar from the store! She would secretly start shaving her legs the day she got her period!

But, no. There were descriptions about violin lessons, walks to the park and thunderstorms. What a waste!

I learned that sometimes people keep journals just to document the basics, not for secrecy. Then the throw them out car windows because they are boring.

I guess I'll just keep looking for that dead body.

Did you keep a journal growing up? Do you keep one now? I have volumes from when I was 8 years old until I was about 30. Then I stopped.

Most interesting thing you've ever found on a run? Besides the parakeet, probably a man standing in the middle of the road staring right at me and peeing.

Have you ever run NYC? No, but I am determined to do it someday.


PS: No one guessed what was in the while bowl! It was TUNA FISH!

Friday, October 27, 2017

12 Things You Can Always Find In My Fridge

For some reason, I love to hear about what other runners/endurance athletes eat. Maybe it's to get ideas, maybe it's because I'm bored, maybe it's because I want to improve my own diet. Whatever the case, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into what's in my fridge. Although I try new recipes each week, I tend to go back to the same staples. And, with these ingredients, I can pretty much concoct a healthy meal at any time.

This is my actual fridge. Guess what's in the white bowl?

1. Spinach - I buy the huge plastic tub of organic spinach. We eat a lot of it raw, but I also put it in soups, sauté it with some garlic salt, and add it to eggs. My new favorite breakfast is two scrambled eggs with a huge handful of sautéed spinach, topped with some grated white cheddar cheese and hot sauce.

2. Eggs - I cannot live without my eggs. I eat them almost every day. If not for breakfast, then egg salad for lunch or quiche for dinner. So satisfying. I tried to talk Ken into letting me get a chicken coop for the backyard. I don't know why he said no.

Image result for chicken coop
This is an actual chicken coop. Look how fancy they are these days

3. Sharp White Cheddar Cheese - This is what goes on top of my egg concoctions. Or, just in my mouth in huge chunks. The best version of this is Dubliner, found at Costco. Trust me on this.

Image result for dubliner cheese

4. Olive Garden Signature Italian Dressing - I have never, until now, been able to nail down a salad dressing that I consistently love. This one is simply the best. Yeah, so maybe it's not organic or gluten free or vegan or in the super healthy category, but I DGAF (don't give a f*ck). It's good and it goes on everything. It even has high fructose corn syrup in it (okay, that's gross. I actually didn't know that until I just looked at the ingredient list), but it's still good.

Image result for olive garden signature italian dressing

5. Kalamata Olives - I will eat any kind of olive, my favorite being huge ones stuffed with blue cheese (preferably in a dirty martini), but if I am making my everyday kale salad, I love the salty, earthy taste of the kalamatas.

6. Shaved Mesquite Turkey - So, I know deli meat is not supposedly good for us (shit, another thing I love bites the dust), but I do crave protein, especially after runs and I like to just grab a bit of turkey, It satisfies! I like the shaved version just because I do. Might be a texture thing.

7. Feta Cheese - Maybe it's because I lived in Greece, maybe it's because it's just damn good - but I like feta cheese on all of my salads, in my eggs and I use it in many recipes (like Baked Shrimp with Feta Cheese and Baked Feta with Marinara). I can't find much wrong with it - there is just something about the saltiness and the texture.

8. Wine - Duh. I don't really eat sweets so this is my vice. For example, I asked Ken to stop and get me wine on his way home last night. He came in with SIX large bottles of chardonnay and one small bottle and said, "I hope this gets you through Halloween." He's kidding! Or not. My economical choice is Woodbridge.

Image result for woodbridge wine

9. Kale - Kale is my go-to salad base. I like how sturdy and full of flavor it is. Yes, sometimes it can be like chewing on a tree trunk, but I enjoy that it has some body and pizzazz. Plus, it's good for you, until someone three years from now tells me it's not. I also like putting it into my soups and sometimes roasting it.

10. Half and Half - My friends laugh at how obsessed I am by putting half and half in my coffee. It is a very serious thing for me and I need a lot of it. I still like the taste of the coffee to shine through, but I just love the creaminess that he half and half lends to my daily cup.

11. Leftovers - I cook from scratch 90% of the time and we always have some kind of leftovers. Leftover are the bomb. I even love leftover soggy salad.

12. Frank's Hot Sauce - I like my food to have a *pop* so I tend to drizzle Frank's on a lot of things from my eggs to my burrito bowls to my ice cream (just kidding, wanted to make sure you are paying attention). It's my fave. And it doesn't even have corn syrup in it!!

Image result for franks hot sauce

So, there you have it. The ultimate ingredient list for your fridge.

Tell me ONE thing you always have in your fridge. Or, more if you want.

How do you take your coffee? Naked? With half and half? As a colonic?

Contest: Whoever guess what's in the white bowl in my fridge will get a prize. Hint: it's not poop.

PS: As of October 30 no one had guessed what was in the white bowl, so keep trying!


Friday, October 20, 2017

Secrets I'd Tell You At Happy Hour

Disclaimer: I am not day drinking. I started this post yesterday evening. Not that day drinking is bad or anything...

If we were chatting over a glass of wine (I wish this were the case, cause right now I'm in my home office with the cat and a glass of wine = kind of pathetic, but at least I'm not drinking alone because the cat counts), I would tell you some crazy and random stuff (i.e., sh*t) that's been going on around here.

God. He's such a drunkard. Get a grip, cat. Go to C.A. (Cat's Anonymous) if you need to

If we were sharing a bottle of wine (or I could drink the bottle and you could just have water), I'd tell you that a week ago I was at home visit for work (I work with families who want to do foster care and adopt through social services - I do their home studies and certification), and I got tackled by a St. Bernard. I'm not going to say "attacked" because that implies the dog was aggressive. He was not, as far as I know. He was a one year old "puppy" with a tad too much energy. You all know I'm a dog person so when he came in the room (I was sitting on the couch) I was more than eager to pet his little (aka gigantic) head. Within seconds, he lunged at my face, head butting me below the eye and also catching my chin. I started bleeding immediately and my face swelled up. Then I headed to the doctor to have the wound glued and to get a tetanus shot. Chalk this up to news of the weird and unexpected. I've never been head butted by a dog. And, I've got to say, this will make me forever a bit more guarded around dogs.

And It's not even Halloween yet. That is ANGRY!

If we were finishing that bottle of wine, I'd tell you that we went to visit Sam at Arizona State this weekend (you know this if you follow me on Instagram - I got a little crazy with my stories). We stayed at the Graduate Hotel, which is right beside campus and tries to be like a dorm. This is our room.

Cute, but what fluids are on that American flag blanket or that remote?
The artwork is TDF (to die for)
This was our room key.

This is very clever. I don't know who she is (well, I guess her name is Ellen). And she is
currently 77 years old, so bless her sorority heart.
I'd confess that I brought my running stuff but somehow forgot my running shorts (maybe I sub consciously needed a break from running - who brings their socks, shoes, shirt, watch and hat and forgets their shorts?) or maybe it means I wanted to run naked from the waist down because that is a bucket list item of mine. I'm sure the frat boys would love it (or would vomit in disgust). Anyway, I didn't run, but I walked a shit load. In flip flops. Probably about 15 miles over the weekend. Then I promptly came home and had a very sore right knee. I'm sure it was from those damn flip flops. So I couldn't run all week until today. Lesson learned.

Anyway, it was a fun weekend with the family and ASU crushed Washington. And, I got to be in mom-heaven having all of us together. Then I sobbed my eyes out on the flight home as we flew right over Sam's dorm. It just doesn't get easier.

My babies.

Can't even see my dog laceration here. Thanks Aviators!
Someone thinks (wishes) he was back in college (except he's drinking good bourbon that
he could never afford in college)

If we were taking a break from wine and having a dirty martini (with blue cheese stuffed olives, because that is the only way to go), I'd tell you that I found out yesterday that a co-worker and friend of mine was at the concert in Vegas during the shooting. It was chilling to hear her first hand account of everything. She's the only person I've had a connection to who was there. She is fine, but one of her friends was shot (also fine).

If we were finishing up that martini, I would tell you that I have nothing big on my race calendar and that needs to change. You know what I have? One stinking 10k Turkey Trot. That is not going to cut it. I am deciding what my next big move will be. Ideas? I'd ask you what to do and you'd say something like "just run a 100 miler" and I'd sign up right now because I've had five drinks and that's what runners do when they drink. Sign up for crazy shit.

Image result for signing up for running races while drunk

If we were winding down for the night, I'd ask you the following (answer in comments):

Ever had an encounter with a dog on a run or otherwise? This was my first. Ever.

Ever sign up for a race after a few drinks? Probably, but I don't remember.

Do you flip flops cause you trouble? Not before this weekend. But I usually don't walk 15 miles in them.

What race should I do next?


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

It's Going to Be Okay

Yesterday I could not turn away. Every chance I got I was glued to the news trying, like the rest of the world, to make sense of what happened in Vegas. But, there is no sense to be made, unfortunately. Life can be like that.

Vegas. The adult playground.

Vegas. A place where I have spent countless nights with my best friends playing cards, drinking Grey Goose dirty martinis.

Vegas. The city of anniversaries, birthday, romantic getaways with my one and only.

Vegas. Where I go to escape reality in the best way possible.

None of the above changes for me. Even with the unspeakable shooting that happened on Sunday night. I'll still go there. I'll still love it. Only next time, I'll be visiting a memorial 500 yards from the Mandalay Bay Hotel to pay my respects to 59 people, hopefully not more.

This may sound sick and demented, but I've had this eerie feeling that Vegas would soon be a target. I always thought it would be a jackpot for terrorists - so many people in so small of a space. Huge, towering hotels full of thousands of souls. Right by the airport. The ultimate representation of debauchery, money and luxury. But, I envisioned it as an international terrorist attack. Not one perpetuated by a 64 American male. With 20+ guns in his suite. High above a crowd of 22,000 innocent and unsuspecting concert-goers.

Like you, this was one more nail in the coffin of all of the shit that is going on right now in the world. I don't have to name off all of the traumas that surround us. But, they range from the little kid being abused in his own home to an island country without food, water and power to an insane and disgusting individual who has no respect for human life. Who doesn't deserve the honor of even being called a human being. No, he's a monster.

So, what do I do? What do we do? Well, naturally I run. I think. I pay attention.

On my run today, this song spoke to me. I've long loved this tune, but today it took on a completely new meaning. Even if you don't listen to the whole thing (but you should - and the video is powerful and tells a touching story), listen to this line (at 3:08 of the video):

"All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other"

In the midst of so much terror and sadness yesterday and today, I found myself searching for some sort of meaning. Not so say there is meaning for ANY of it, but to say that I am a believer in hope and positivity.

I believed in it when my cousin, Sherry, was murdered while running almost 6 years ago. I believed in it because there were two evil men who did an evil thing and then there were hundreds of thousands of people all over the world who participated in a virtual run in her memory and who donated to a fund for her kids. Who emailed me hundreds of pictures of support, love and encouragement for her friends and family. And, through my tears I saw something deeply healing and beautiful. So much love. I believed there was more love than hate.

I believe in it because I have to. So do you. How can we continue to to live in this world and not hold onto something?

And, I saw love > hate yesterday. Now, after the dust has settled, we hear the stories of heroes. People who risked their own lives for strangers. And you know why? Because the vast majority of us are not monsters. The vast majority of us, even when we don't really feel it, know we are connected to others. The vast majority of us have innate goodness and care. I know it.

The ONE thing that comforted me yesterday, especially as I struggled to know how to talk to my own kids about this is this, was something good old Mr. Rogers told me along time ago:

mister rogers helpers quote

Yes. The bright spot. The helpers. There are always more helpers and allies than adversaries and enemies.

But, it's not enough to be the helper on that day. You have to the helper every day of your life. This means little acts of kindness and big acts of movement towards change. This means buying a stranger a cup of coffee when they look like they need a boost. This means taking the time to take that stray dog to a shelter even if you'll be late to work.

This also means that if you think we don't identify and treat mental illness adequately in this country, do something. This means if you think we need more gun control (especially for automatic weapons), do something. As Congresswoman Gabby Giffords says, "Your thoughts and prayers aren't going to stop the next shooting. Only action and leadership will do that."

Call your elected officials and tell them how you feel and educate yourself about what is going on. We should not live in a place of giving up, laying down and surrendering.

So, yes, we are going to be okay. Not thrilled with what occurs, not always unafraid, but okay. We will rise up and do what it takes. I know I will.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Am I the "Mad Pooper"?

Thank you for your endless texts, messages and comments inquiring as to whether I was "that woman" running around Colorado Springs shitting on people's lawns.

I hate to tell you the answer is "no," although I am flattered.

Let's break this down. I can see why such an article would make you think of me.

1. She is a runner (so am I!)
2. She lives in Colorado (so do I!). But she lives about 2 hours south of where I do.
3. She takes craps outside (I have been known to do this, but I do have limits as to where and how this occurs. Read on).
4. She appears to be around my height. But I have blond hair, she does not (and I don't own any wigs). I also don't own a grey spandex running suit.

If I am understanding the article correctly, this anonymous "mad pooper" had "been defecating in front of houses for weeks." One victim in particular, the Budde family, states that she has been crapping in their yard for 7 weeks. SEVEN WEEKS. The family even resorted to putting a sign up asking her to stop - to no avail. They said she ran by it 15 times and still pooped.

In a bold statement made by Colorado Springs Sergeant Johnathan Sharketti, he states "It's abnormal, it's not something I've seen in my career. For someone to repeatedly do such a thing…it's uncharted territory for me."

Weird thing is - there are apparently plenty of public bathrooms nearby. 

Lest you think this story had just local coverage, think again. It has been covered by The Washington Post, the BBC, USA Today the Huffington Post and now the famous Shut Up and Run blog. Because certainly our country does not have bigger fish to fry (hello Rocket Man, Hurricane Maria that destroyed Puerto Rico and devastating earthquakes!) and has the luxury on focusing on a fecal mystery. Comic relief?

I'd very much like to discuss some curiosities/observations about this case. 

  • If someone was pooping in front of my house for seven weeks I would go back into my personal history to figure out who hates me. Who did I piss off in the second grade? What mom did I cut off in the drop zone at school? This has got to be intentional
  • The victimized family put up a sign asking her to stop crapping in front of their house. She ran by it 15 times. Who was counting? Why 15 times? It would take me weeks to run by the same sign 15 times. This seems odd.
  • The police sergeant has never seen anything like this in his career. Even though he has likely seen dead bodies, overdoses, drownings and every bodily fluid possible, this stands out to him as uncharted territory. Damn! I think it would be hard to shock a sergeant. WTG Mad Pooper!
  • It seems like the only explanation for this type of behavior is a severe medical condition or mental health issue. Because, who in their right mind and physical body would do this repeatedly? If you know running makes you poop in the same place every time you run, wouldn't you stop running or take a different route? How about the treadmill? 

Let me defend my own pooping for a minute. I, like many of you, have had emergencies while running. Sometimes I feel them coming and can prepare, other times I'm sweating and all I care about is finding a place to go NOW. That's meant that I've unfortunately gone under bridges, in a hollowed out tree, off of the trail and in a ditch. This isn't often, but it has happened. What I have NOT done is gone in someone's yard. Repeatedly. After they posted a sign asking me not too. In broad daylight. While there were other restroom options available.

Moral of the story:

Me          Mad Pooper (MP)

But, hey, MP - if you are reading - hit me up. I'd love to interview you. You could remain anonymous (probably a good idea).


Thursday, September 14, 2017

5 Things NOT To Do During Your Next Race

Last weekend Ken and I did a trail half marathon (Black Squirrel Half Marathon near Ft. Collins). If you do trails, you know they take much longer and are generally much more laid back than road races. Living in Colorado, we have our fair share of trail races, especially May through October. Even though I've done dozens of races over the past eight years, I am still always humbled and still always learning.

Start line. Ugly.
 Here's what this race taught me:

1. Do not under eat before the race even if your nerves are messing with you. I am the type of person who gets some pre-race anxiety. Really the only way this plays out is that I am slightly queasy and have the toughest time choking down food. I had a jelly and butter sandwich with me to eat along with coffee before the race. With each bite I felt like I might puke. What I should have done is made sure I had an alternative food source with me, just to get in some carbs and calories. Even a gel  or a boiled potato (potatoes always sound palatable) would probably have gone down better. The result was that I started the race on a calorie deficit without much in the way of glycogen stores and this definitely zapped my energy.

2. Do not bring a mocha, coffee or chocolate gel. Well, do bring it if you plan to eat it all and throw it away. But don't only eat half of it because it's disgusting and you didn't try it before the race (Clif Mocha shot) and then you don't finish it and then there is no trash can and then you put the unfinished gel in your back pocket. Because what happens (duh) is that he remaining gel leaks out and you 100% look like you crapped your pants. I wish I had a picture, but when I got home and realized how bad it looked, I was mortified and just threw the shorts in the shower with me as quickly as possible.

3. Do not think you know the course if you have not run the course. I studied the elevation profile and knew where the climbs were. I even read some past race reports and knew the general outline of the course. But I did not anticipate that the last five miles were going to be extremely exposed (no shade) and that the 80 degree heat would get to me like it did. Not anticipating the lack of shade, I got behind on my hydration and that caught up to me and slowed me down considerably. In past years, the race has been at least 10 degrees cooler, so the heat was not anticipated. But, be ready for anything!

4. Do not walk when you really can run. Walking during trail runs and ultras is perfectly acceptable and expected mostly because there are places where it is nearly impossible to run due to terrain or the grade of the hill (or mountain in this case). In this race, I walked the really steep sections, as expected (and so did everyone else). But once I hit the flatter and more rolling parts, my brain gave up a bit. I was hot and tired and surrendered to the desire to walk, even though I probably didn't need to. I know this is an area that I can really work on.

This is not a picture of me walking because you never walk when you see the camera.
5. Do not keep thinking about how you paid good money to engage in this type of suffering. In other words, keep your head up and your attitude positive. With every person who passed me towards the end I would mentally beat myself up (not physically, because that would be really weird). I kept having to re-frame my thinking to remind myself that it takes guts to be out there in the first place and that I am 50 years old and still chugging along at an okay clip. Races like this just make me want to get stronger (after the fact).

After all was said and done I finished in 2:43 - 8th/18 in my age group and 71st/153 females. I was disappointed for a second as I thought I could get closer to 2:30, but then I drank a beer (Fat Tire!) and didn't care anymore.

Happy trails!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ragnar Relay Colorado Race Report (2017) aka Never Too Old!

It's 2:00 a.m and I once again ask myself, why the fuck do I do this?

I am 50 years old. I should be in my warm bed, not shivering in my sleeping bag in the middle of a baseball field in Somewhere, Colorado. I've run over 17 miles of mountains earlier and I'm not done yet.

But, see, that's the point! I (we) do these things because they take us out of our warm and safe beds and into the wildness of the world around us. That's exactly why I do all of these crazy races and adventures. It forces me to the side of discomfort, which means it forces me into growth. It prevents complacency and boredom. It rocks your little world - chews you up and spits you out and leaves you yearning for more (or, maybe it's just me?)

The Colorado Ragnar Relay on August 25/26 was my seventh relay. My first was accidental, back in 2009, before I even knew what a relay was. I won a contest and was rewarded (<that's subjective) with a spot on a fast-as-shit Hood to Coast Team, where I certainly did not belong in terms of running experience and skill. I was tentative to go it alone, so they also welcomed Ken onto the team.

Ken and I were by far the slowest. We never changed our clothes over the 21 hours. We smelled and looked disheveled. I cried a couple of times and we felt completely out of our element. And, it was awesome. You can read those race reports HERE and HERE (yes, I've been blogging that long).

We came in 8th in 21:47.
The infamous Mt. Hood

Fast forward to today. Over time, we've found a group of like minded friends who like to do this shit. If you really want to love or hate someone, spend 30 hours in a van with them. This group is like none other, and I adore them, sweaty balls and all.

From 2014 - Grand Tetons

In case you don't know how a running relay works - typically, you have 12 participants, 6 in each van. You take turns running and everyone has three different legs they run. Relays are usually about 200 miles long and take anywhere from 21 to 35 hours depending on the runners and the course.

We only had 10 runners instead of 12, so some of us took extra legs. I had four legs - my first one was at about 10 a.m. and was 10.4 miles. It was labeled as VERY HARD and I would agree with that given the distance, the elevation (10,000 feet) and the climbing (1,100 feet).

At mile 5 I almost crapped my pant and there was nowhere to hide. Somehow I controlled my colon and things stayed in tact. Thank you Jesus. After running up a mountain, I cruised along beautiful Lake Dillon and stopped to take some shots (pictures, not Fireball or tequila, although that would have been nice).

The run took me 1:40 - a 9:36 average pace.

After our van finished the first 6 legs, we drove to Edwards, CO, where we rested for about 5 hours until it was our turn to run again. By rested I mean drank a beer and took pictures of Ken and myself.

Don't be jealous of my pillow case. Or, my neck

Our van was on the move again at about 10 p.m, so we all ran in the dark with headlamps and safety vests. My run was 6 miles at 1:00 a.m. I forget how much I love to run in the dark with the cool air and peacefulness (except for all of those cars coming at me - could do without them).

We rested again in a baseball field from 2:00 a.m. until 4:00 a.m. when it was time to run again. These were some of the most beautiful runs of the race as they were on more remote roads and the sun began to rise.

I promise you that coffee NEVER tastes as good as it does during a relay
Right before Ken's run, we got this text. Always comforting.

My last run was two legs combined for a total of 7 miles. Basically I was running on (fart) fumes by this time and pretty exhausted. We all were. We then headed to Snowmass to wait for Van #2 at the finish line.

So, obviously we are a coed team and old-ish. Usually we will notice other masters teams (masters means all are 40+ years old) participating. But this year we were one of six masters teams. And we came in 1st in this category with a finish time of 31 hours. GO in shape, geriatric, menopausal, ED people!

Then the drinking and storytelling started - the best part of the whole thing, IMHO.

My advice to you - be sure doing a relay is on your bucket list. These days you can pretty much choose a destination (Napa, Rocky Mountains, Cape Cod, Hawaii, etc) and there is a relay waiting for you. You will hate moments of it, but you will love most of it, trust me.

Ever run a relay before? Which one? Love or hate?