Monday, May 30, 2011

i ran 13.4 miles today.  and i'm not totally cooked.  i actually felt like i could have run farther or maybe should have run faster than the 12:40 minute-miles that i averaged.  i ran south of Beulah, Wyoming, on the route that i had planned to do yesterday when the weather got so nasty.  it was looking pretty nasty today too, and i had a 12 mile route planned out at Sundance East trailhead, but then the thunderclouds started rolling in, and i checked the iPhone weather app, and the radar showed the cell headed straight towards Sundance.

so i drove 30 miles east and the storm missed us off to its right flank.  thank goodness.  i don't know if i would have run 13 miles in the rain today.  it was pretty windy, but i didn't get pelted with rain, so it was a total bonus.  i'm very proud of my muffin dogs too, because that's the farthest they have run in a very long time.  come to think of it, it's the farthest i've run in a very long time too.  i got a 12 miler in at Antelope Island a couple of months ago with my friend Sue, and before that, it was a 20 miler way back in the end of September, when i was still running injured but got out to run with my buddy Karl when he did the Pony Express route.

pic of the day is my smiling dogs.  they make me smile just looking at them!  and just when i think they are tired, the find a burst of energy to chase some sort of critter through the woods.  sleep well tonight, my muffins.  you earned it.

ps:  apparently Artie didn't get enough running in today, because she is asleep on her back, with her feet moving ~ sleep running.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

sometimes i'm forced to make a choice:  what will be less undesirable?  would it be worse to sit inside on this rainy day and regret not having gotten out?  or would it be worse to get out and have the weather be simply horrible.  today, i chose the latter.

as i pulled the car off of the freeway, having already traveled an hour driving in the rain to go for a run in the same area as i did yesterday, because the road to the trailhead was a paved one. i decided that i would forgo my planned 12-mile run because of the possibility that the dirt (mud) road to it was likely impassable because of the steady rains that fell all night all night.  but before i got to the trailhead of the consolation run, i was faced with an obstacle.  the weather gate on Wyoming Highway 14 was down, red lights flashing, and a sign that read "violators may be fined up to $750".  that would be one expensive run.  but the paved road to the Sundance West trailhead lies about 3 miles past this sign, and i would only be traveling on Highway 14 for about a half a mile before turning onto the county road, so my choice was clear...

as i maneuvered the car around the gate, i glanced in my rearview mirror.  thankfully, no coppers.  not even another vehicle around, as far as i could see.  so i drove with the dogs up to the Reuter trailhead, the same one we had been to yesterday, and we did a modified loop of the route we did the day before.  the weather was foggy and threatening, and the trail was a sloppy mess.  we were pelted by hail briefly a couple of times, but honestly i can say that i am glad we got out.

there was a "surprise" in the trail at one point on the descent ~ an egg.  slightly larger than a chicken egg, and the same light brown color as my neighbor's black stars lay.  i'm guessing it was a wild turkey egg that rolled down from the slope above.  i set it off to the side of the trail, but i'm afraid it probably won't make it as i could not see anywhere nearby that would be a good spot for a nest, and no sign of mother hen either.

it was still raining when i got back to Gillette.  i stopped for fries and a Frosty to treat myself for motivating to get out in the bad weather today.  now i won't feel guilty about curling up with a book and a cup of tea this afternoon.  no matter what the weather, the dogs are always exuberant for a run and today was no exception.  they help to motivate me to make the "right" decision ~ the decision to get out more.  i was pleasantly surprised today that the weather wasn't nearly as horrible as i imagine it could have been.

Sunday, May 29th ~ foggy and sloppy

Saturday, May 28th ~ sunny and blissful views

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Little Help, Please?

so yesterday i made a bold move ~ i hired a coach.  i've been running for the past month and a half here in Gillette, Wyoming, and although i feel like i'm getting stronger and i'm running easier, i feel like i need to be pushed a bit if i'm going to finish my 100-miler in September.  the skiing and ski touring that i did for the month and a half before i came to Wyoming really helped me to get through my nagging injuries from last fall and helped to get me stronger, but now it's time to get a little more serious about my running if i'm going to meet my goals.

maybe i'm being a bit hard on myself, too, but i just don't feel like i'm making much progress over the last few weeks.  i tend to put the dogs on a leash tied around my waist, and although they don't really pull me much once we get going (the first 5 or 10 minutes are a bit of a struggle, as the three of us jockey for positions and figure out who is going to run where, without the leash wrapping around any one participant's feet... ) i feel like i just lope along at my comfortable 10 minute-mile pace and never really push myself.  i don't have a reason to push myself.

maybe i'm also hard on myself because i am friends with some really world-class runners and put pressure on myself that i never was able to get myself to run up to their level, even though at times i thought i had it in me.  i'm also friends with another group of ultra-runners who are middle-of-the-pack finishers, and i really enjoy their company and going out on runs with them.  i feel somewhat caught between the elites and the finishers, wondering what my true potential is.

sometimes we just need more of a reason to push ourselves and yesterday that's what i got.  i was talking with the clinic manager because she is trying to start a walking program with a friend of hers, and i realized that if a person has someone else depending on them to get out and reach a certain goal, one is more likely to be motivated and push oneself when necessary to attain that goal.

so i signed up with Ian Torrence, who is an amazing ultra-runner and will be doing online coaching for me.  how did i choose to go with Ian and not one of the other ultra-coaches that i know?  i've met him several times over the years at races and always found him to be easy to talk with.  i enjoy reading his blog and find he has always had a very down to earth outlook on running and from what i gather from life in general.  he also has a cool dog.

when i saw the rates on his coaching webpage, my heart was in my throat.  i thought to myself, "am i really worth spending that much money on myself?"  and i immediately answered my own question.  yes:  i'm worth it.  i've been a "pretty good" athlete all of my life.  my friends and family probably have more confidence in my abilities than i have in myself.  i feel like at any one time i could get up and do whatever activity i wanted to, without too much of a struggle ~ activities that many other people would never even dream of doing.

so the goal is that after three months of coaching from Ian, i will be pushed, and i will see progress.  i'm sure it's going to be an experience full of personal growth, both physically and mentally.  i'm really pretty psyched about it.


photos today are from my 6 mile run with the dogs, in our window of good weather today (in-between thunderstorms) and the quarter horses who like to greet us and race us along our route.  the weather was really challenging this week (ie:  rainy, yesterday with lightening) and i did not reach my mileage goal for the week because of it.  i'm really looking forward to the three day weekend and the nice weather that is in the forecast.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Glass Half Full

i woke up Sunday morning in Lead, SD to a pleasant surprise ~ sunshine.  after a morning of lounging and sipping coffee, and the dogs had taken a nice mid-morning nap, we loaded up the car and decided to hit the Eagle Cliff Trails, south of Lead.

it's easy to get mired down in a negative attitude if you let yourself, and there have been plenty of little things to bother me lately.  but a run in the sunshine with my fluffy dogs really does turn my attitude around and make me realize all the good things i have in life.  i'm lucky that i can work 2 months at a place for good money and then go on vacation.  when i worked at the hospital, i was always trying to get away and was rarely able to get the time-off when i really wanted it without a struggle from coworkers pushing back.

i'll be glad when this assignment is done, no doubt.  the weather up here is enough to want to drive anyone southward.  i nearly got knocked over by a wind gust this morning walking to my car.  my messenger bag got blown off of my shoulder and i almost dropped my coffee cup (horror!).  in 6 short weeks i will be running the hills of southern Germany and touring the castles with my brother and sister-in-law.  that's all the motivation i need to get me through the next 5 weeks of work.

weekends as good as this past one make it tough to come back to work on Monday morning, however.  but at least i have the fluffy dogs at home to always give me a good greeting when i walk through the door.  as my cousin Jill calls them, my "precious lambs".  my glass is definitely half full, and i'm half-way done with this 10 week assignment.  homeward bound soon!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rain --> Sleet --> Snow

had to get out of Gillette for the weekend, just had to.  so i had a slow morning with the dogs, sleeping in 'til 8am then drinking coffee 'til about 10:30.  we hit the park for a quick potty break and then loaded up the car.  --> South Dakota bound.  i had a couple of people tell me this week that i need to get over to the west and check out Buffalo, but each time i look at the Bighorns from the west side of town, they are still capped in snow.  i heard on Wyoming Public Radio that the snow drifts at the top of Sylvan Pass (the East entrance of Yellowstone) are 40 feet deep this year, usually 20-30 feet deep at this time of year, and that the WyDoT won't be able to get the plows through for a while yet.  i keep hoping that i'll be able to get over that way before i leave and head back to Salt Lake mid-June, but it's not looking too promising.  hope for warm weather.  so instead of Buffalo, i'm headed east again this weekend.

warm weather was not what the dogs and i got today.  we ran our Dugout Gulch 9-mile route south of Beulah, WY, and what started out as a slow drizzle at 45 degrees turned into freezing rain and then snow as we got up towards 6,000 feet.  as long as i kept moving it wasn't too chilly, but i noticed that my time was 5 to 10 minutes faster than the other two times we did this route, and i was shivering while changing clothes back at the car when i was finished.

i stopped in Spearfish, SD at the Safeway to get a few groceries and a hot tea at Starbucks (i'm up to 9 points on my member-card.  only 21 more points and i reach "Gold" status and am eligible for a free drink every 15 that i buy.  since i'm here 5 more weeks (!) and averaging a drink a day during the week, i'm thinking i will reach Gold Status before i get back to Salt Lake).  the grocery store was super-busy and the girl running the self-checkout was super-crazy and kept talking to me about her daughter who only wanted to sit with these "other" people at church and i was about to tell her that i could see why her daughter would want to get away from her, but i kept my trap shut (for once).

so now i'm in Lead and it's pretty cold and kinda snowy outside, but i can poach internet from Linda's neighbors here at the condo and get my blog update done, surf around, and download some videos/TV shows for viewing later in the week.  might get a movie too.  that way i don't use all of my GBs from my USB mobile broadband device.

photos today are from Dugout Gulch.  despite the snow, there were some really pretty spring wildflowers coming up.  the fluffies had fun, as usual, and i felt really good running today ~ feeling stronger the last few days.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

the weather man got it wrong (again)

the weather man got it wrong again this weekend.  thankfully, it was to everyone's benefit!  it was a 30-40% chance of thunderstorms this weekend both days, and when i talked to my brother in Pocatello yesterday, he said it was indeed raining.  i talked to my friend Karl in Salt Lake this afternoon and it had started to snow!

the Sundance trails are drying out (finally!) and the week of warm temperatures has definitely helped the trail conditions.  so, with this in mind, i decided to take a gander at the west slope of the Sundance trail system yesterday.  i was sorely disappointed.  i'm sure, when the snow finally does melt (in July?) these trails will be as killer as the ones on the east slope.  but for now, they are still covered in 4-5 feet of sugary spring snow which makes for really good post-holing.

the dogs never seem to mind, and typically just turn back and look at me struggling and seem to say, "what's taking you so long ~ come ON!  this is great!"  they are such happy beasts.  i sniveled a little bit on the trail yesterday as i slogged for a mile and a half through the deep snow, thinking it would have been a whole lot easier with skis on my feet.  i lost the trail and we ended up a quarter mile below where the trail crossed the main road, so i walked the dogs up the road to look at the situation in the canyon below where we had thought of making a return route, and the trail was indeed still covered in snow down below us as well. 

so, we ended up jogging the 3 miles down the paved road back to the car, which was actually very nice because there were only a couple of trucks on the road because of the snowy conditions (the road department has not fully plowed out the road yet, so there are large stretches with 1-2 feet of snow still on the road to Lookout Mtn where an old Forsest Service fire watch station is located.  we ran just under 7 miles, for about a hour and 45 minutes.

today, Sunday, the dogs and i went to the old standby east slope of the Sundance trails and because of the warm temps were able to get up to the high point above the ridge that i've been running for the last month (!) we still ran into a bit of snow, but it was nothing like the day before.  i was actually thankful for the snow and melt water as it was about 70 degrees today and it gave the pups some liquid refreshment (and play-time in the mud ~ fun!) 

we ran for 2 hours today, approximately 8 miles, and i really felt like i could have gone for another hour.  Artie was balking, though, tethered to the leash for a mile or so after chasing a herd of white tail deer and i've had a hip-flexor muscle acting up a little bit, so i decided to get us to the gas station for snacks and a bag of ice.  of note:  we also saw a wild turkey run across the ridge trail!  thankfully it was while Artie was leashed, so it survived another day (not that she really could have caught him anyway).

fyi ~ worst mistake of the day was forgetting the hand-held button for Artie's shock collar.  i put the collar on her anyway, but after she figured out on attempt #1 that chasing deer would not result in a shock, (but she came back anyway), on attempt #2 she defiantly looked at me and then took off after the deer.  thankfully she came back after only 5 minutes.

it was a fabulous weekend in the sunny Black Hills.  i'm so glad the weather man got it wrong this time!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day

eating a cookie *before* the race
it's Mother's Day this weekend, which is always kind of a tough day for me.  since i lost my mom 10 years ago, this holiday really hasn't gotten much easier.  i hope everyone who still has their mother cherishes her, because you never know when you might not have her around anymore.

my mom was sick with early-onset dementia for several years before she passed away in a hospital in Germany two weeks after i had visited her, read stories to her, and told her that it was okay if she didn't want to hold on anymore.  that was a pretty tough visit, and i was a pretty angry person for a really long time afterward.

i'm so thankful for everything that my mom taught me.  especially for the love of the outdoors that she instilled in me.  and for her love of dogs that she passed on to me.  my mom was out and about all the time running, riding her bike, swimming, and walking the dogs in the forest.  she was pretty darn amazing.  she came to all of my sporting events when i was in high school, and when she came to visit me in college she was always chomping at the bit to go hiking or skiing.  she was truly a kid at heart.

she was tolerant of my temper (that i'm sure i inherited from my dad's side) and proud of me in everything that i did ~ no matter what.  she was proud of me for the efforts that i made even when i was hardest on myself for thinking that i was not successful enough.

for my mom and everything that she taught me, i am thankful.  Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


i've been doing an experiment this week.  after feeling awful and sick the end of last week and homesick over the weekend, i decided to turn over a new leaf this week.  i've been getting out for a run each afternoon after work for at least a half an hour.  the weather has been cooperative and has allowed me to do this (unfortunately, it looks like it's going to be stormy next week... blech!) and i feel so much better about everything.

it's been sunny and about 60 degrees each afternoon and i think the dogs are just as excited (if not moreso) as i am about the change of routine.  it's allowed me to deal with work better too.  and after this week, i am down to 6 weeks left to go!

i'm looking forward to running some good trail miles on Saturday, and hopefully Sunday too, if it doesn't storm too hard (but it is supposed to).  i'll keep you update.

ps ~ Artie is doing really behaving, thanks to the shock-collar sessions that we do each morning for 10-15 minutes before i leave for work.  we've slacked off a bit on the formal "come" and "sit" and haven't been working on "stay" which seems to be her most difficult command (she doesn't like to sit and stay more than 2 feet away from me!) but we'll keep working on it.  at least i'm not afraid of her running out into the road as much anymore.  somehow i think she will always be my naughty dog, though.  and i kind of admire her for her tenacity in that respect.

pss ~ other good news is that since i started working at the clinic, two of the four smokers who work there have started smoking cessation medications.  one is on Zyban and the other will start Chantix here in the next few days (once she gets her rebate coupon in the mail).  i'm so excited for my coworkers, and glad if i had anything to do with being a good influence on them!

Monday, May 2, 2011

turn around

it's amazing what a couple of nice phone calls (read:  pep-talks), a couple of nice voice messages, texts, some good weather, a nice insurance agent (Yes!) and a kick in the pants can do for your attitude.

after having such a rotten weekend, today i got all of the above.  i think the highlight of my day was when my locum tenens recruiter called me back to give me my pep talk, and she told me (she has a super-cute Texas accent), "Sometimes we need to just put our 'big girl' pants on and get back to work."  can you just hear her?  it's exactly what i needed to hear today.  after all, as another friend pointed out:  let's put it into perspective...  we could live in Alabama and have our town leveled by one of the largest tornadoes in history with several family members and friends dead all in a matter of minutes.  kind of makes my life not look all that bad.

so i drank my coffee this morning, shrugged off a couple of snoveling patients (snivel + grovel = snovel) and put my head down and went to work, even taking time out to be compassionate to an obviously distraught patient (yes, just one.  hey, let's not have too high of expectations here!)

i also talked to my insurance agent this afternoon, whom i must admit is probably one of the coolest guys ever (his son is graduating with his Nurse Practitioner from Idaho State this Spring, too!) and he told me not to worry about the car.  we'll fix it when i get back to Salt Lake and have Nate Wade take care of it while i'm in Germany so i won't even have to be without a car.  Hello!  that's why i pay you the State Farm big-bucks, my friend!  (i was probably too pissed off to think of this myself.  we chatted about Gillette, WY for a few minutes, and his son's graduation, and the job market...  it is such a relief to not have to worry about my car!)

it was sunny and temps in the 50s this afternoon when i got home from work (after washing my poor little beat up Frau Helga at the car wash) so i took the dogs out for a short jog around the 'hood on their leashes (i wanted to go farther, but they were pulling back on their leashes and wanted to "be free" or at least go eat some kibble, so we cut it short and decided to eat dinner after about a half hour).  but it was just the little boost i needed to put the icing on the cake of a much better day.

it's amazing what a few small things can do to change your outlook and perspective.  i think it's pretty much a 180 from how i felt this weekend, thanks to all of the support i got.  i didn't mean to be so needy, but once in a while i guess is acceptable.  i'll try not to make a habit of it.
no photos today ~ but i will share with you this gem from the med refrigerator in the clinic

Sunday, May 1, 2011

winter turns to ~ well, winter and things really could be better

i already told you about how i got strep throat from a patient on Thursday and felt sick all day.  well, i didn't feel much better on Friday and since i'm the only provider at the clinic with no one to back me up when i'm sick, i had to work.  i was miserable all day.  it felt pretty messed up to be writing "excused from work/school" notes for patient whom, in my opinion, were not even as sick as i was.

probably because i was so bummed out from being sick, i spent Saturday at home, watching TV, reading, napping, and generally feeling homesick.  at about 5pm i mustered up the energy to go to the grocery store and actually took the dogs with me to see if we could find a spot to let them run around for a few minutes and get some fresh air and stretch their legs.  we found a large park on the east side of town, but the weather was seriously so nasty (40mph steady wind with gusts that were knocking me off balance, intermittent snow showers, and temps in the 30s) that i didn't even let them out of the car.  they were momentarily bummed, but they got over it quickly.

got groceries, had an uneventful evening and turned in early with a movie, but then ended up staying awake way too late (past midnight) reading so i slept in on Sunday until about 9am.  i was chatting on the phone to a friend about how homesick i have been the last few days while loading up the dogs to go for a run in the trails outside of Sundance, WY when i looked at the back bumper of the car and saw that someone had backed into me overnight and cracked it, also denting the hatchback.  just when i thought i couldn't like my situation any less, someone goes and dings my car up (no note) so my friend (still on the phone) advised me to file a police report.

thankfully it was Sunday and the cops must not have had much to do, because the officer was there within the half-hour, took my info, and the dogs and i were off to Sundance.  i called my sister-in-law to plead my sob-story to her, and she patiently listened to me bitch and moan for over an hour.  i got off the phone and pulled into the trailhead parking just as the next wave of winter storms was hitting.  seriously?  can nothing go my way?  not even an hour's worth of sunshine so that i can go running?

it was pretty much a white-out up on the ridge, so i only went for an hour before i headed home.  what a pisser of a weekend.  i still feel like crying and i just want to go home to Salt Lake.  and if i find the guy who backed into my car (no, i'm not going to punch him, although i want to... ) i'll forward his license plate info on to the police department.  looks like i'll probably be paying the deductible on this one.  i feel like packing up my car and driving away ~ not looking back.  7 more weeks to go here, and they can't go by soon enough.

i'm out.