UPCOMING EVENTS for 2016: Puerto Rico Marathon (March), Virginia/Pennsylvania Marathon Double (April), Cedro Peak Ultra 45k (April), Quicksilver 50k (May) NUT 50k (June) Lake Tahoe Trail 50K (July), Cloudsplitter 55K (October)

It's never too late to be what you might have been. --George Eliot

Athena is the Goddess of wisdom and war. In 2005, I declared war on my own bad tendencies: sloth, being fat, compacency, and being too old for adventure. This is the story of how I went from being someone who never stood when she could sit, to being an ultrarunner, marathoner, and triathlete. Along the way I've cried, laughed, fallen, gotten up, lost, won, hallucinated, been dehydrated, DNF'ed, and been DFL.
I also swear. Alot.
"You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On progress, and finding my way.

Dear Diary,

I've done a lot of ultra endurance stuff since my first full year of multisport in 2005-2006. I enjoy knowing I had done them, but often I did not enjoy doing them. Most things I did because I love spending time with SB, and so do things to be with him. I haven't focused on any one thing to do because I like it and I'm good at it.

I joke about my lax training, but there have been ultra events that I trained well for in order to struggle to the middle of the pack. How do you know you're not cut out for ultras, say the folks who are several inches shorter and forty pounds lighter. How do I know? Physics. Oh, also the fact that I don't like them, don't look forward to them, and have started to hate the shit out of them. Increasingly, my goal in completing one was simply not to cry. I love crewing them; i love the ultra community. But when I ran ultras, If I was happy afterwards, it was because it was over. Thank fucking God. Now go get me a pizza so I can gain 10 lbs despite a 5000 calorie deficit.

All athletes.

Increasingly, I've tried to distill what it means for me to be an athlete, and become resentful of continuously doing what I'm not good at and don't enjoy. There comes a time in any relationship when you find yourself frowning and dreading the prospect of that next meeting, and that's when you realize that the relationship has run its course.

I feel energized by my 3-5 mile runs on trails in the foothills in the mornings before work - I come down all flushed and sweaty and happy. I like short, (occasional--marathon.

As for what I'm good at, well, I stay leaner when I'm not continually doing long distance training. I've had two different fitness coaches tell me that I would be good at weight-lifting. I know that when I start working out my heart rate takes about 400-800 meters to really jump up there, which suggests short bursts of speed. I'm medium-sized, with a medium build, and I tend to put on muscle easily. In short, i don't think I'm physiologically built for ultras. But more importantly, I don't like them. So...

For now, I might still do the occasional 50K here and there, if it's in a pretty place on a beautiful trail, like the Pacific Northwest, but fuck all those high-altitude mountain runs where my fingers turn grey and I worry about cutoffs and wish I had more oxygen. I've decided that I want to feel good about myself and have fun with what I do, even if It means seeing less of my tiny, lightweight ultra-running family.

...

 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Things that go Bump, in the day.

Dear Diary,

These things do not scare me.

Zombies.

 
 

Zombie wrestlers.

 
 

Bad zombie movies.

 
 

The kitten's just here to get your attention.

 
These are the things that scare me:
This, most of all:
 
This, somewhat:

 

And especially this:

Yes, I have a BIB number. There it is.
((Shivers))
...

 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Reprogramming my eating. A Thursday 13.

Dear Diary,

13. Eating. Coach Korbie sent me my first week's meal plan. It's similar to Baboo's. At first glance, it looks preatty austere. The longer I looked at it I thought, hey. i can do this. I cook! I have an herb garden! There's a Costco four miles from here!

I started the new plan on Thursday.

12. Shopping. I hit Costco Saturday morning and bought some yummy mushrooms and lots of salad stuff, too.

I set this up for me and Baboo--behold, the omelet station:

The eating is easier after the Costco trip. I bought all the stuff I needed, in bulk. I added chicken bouillion and no-salt organic seasoning when making the brown rice and it's AWESOME. A cup of green beans turns out to be a lot. I'm stuffed at night.

11. Gasp. Thursdays are Kathleen days, and Kathleenis helping me work on a fear of hypoxia that has caused me to to back away from high intensity training. Three-quarters into the workout, things got a little hypoxic and my brain screamed, STOP!! It was burst of panic that went off in my brain, like that moment underwater when you can't hold your breath for one more second and you MUST take a breath. Then today, she did it again.

10. Fuckers. MAt noon one of my coworkers breezed by my office Hey Misty, there's sheetcake upstairs! Well, FUCK! there is ALWAYS sheet cake upstairs. I had to start working in a hospital to learn to eat some seriously bad shit. I ignore her and eat my almonds.

9. Buying happiness. There's something to be said for the power of the buck to get you started. The nutritionist is not cheap. That's also a tennant in psychotherapy--clients should always pay something; they're more likely to invest in it.

8. Yum. The protein powder on my diet is called Protozyme, and it comes in a flavor called peanut butter cookie. It's in my afternoon and morning snacks. I'm losing my cues to eat crap.

7. Reprogramming. I'm reprogramming my eating. Heavier in the morning, lighter at night. I'd worked my way back to eating fried chicken, popcorn soaked in butter, chocolate, donuts offered daily at work. I find myself rethinking shortcuts now, like a little dusting of unsweetened cocoa on my almonds.

6. Grind. Friday I rode into work, which is essentially a four mile roll downhill. It's refreshing. I don't even break a sweat.

Riding home is not so refreshing. But. I've made progress on this particular ride. Also, the bike is much more comfortable than it used to be. Maybe it's because of leg strength.

5. Purge. This weekend I'll be getting rid of stuff in the pantry. I used to have a rule about no comfort food in the house. If you wanted it, you had to go out and get it and pay full price instead of making it at home, but over the past couple years the house has become home to butter.

4. Heavy mornings. The new eating plan includes a giant scoop of oatmeal and an omelet in the morning. This is a lot for a non-breakfast gal. After some experimenting, I discover that the oatmeal travels better than the omelet. And miracle of micracles, I'm not roaming the halls for donuts. I'm too full.

3. Light evenings. I've discovered fat-free vinegrettes for my Big-Ass Salad. Night meals are a salad, chicken or fish, and sweet potatoes or brown rice. Evening dinners are super light, but it's okay. I'm not even hungry when I get home,

2. Data. Week 1 nutrition breakdown, per day.
1. Results. End of week 1 weight: in the morning, stark naked and after I went to the bathroom, i'm 7 pounds down. In the afternoon, when I'm bloated and wearing my clothes at Korbie's, I'm 4.5 pounds down. Either way, I've dropped. My energy level is high. I feel good.
Then Kathleen reminds me, 17 days to Ironman Boulder.
Good feeling's gone now...

 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cliches

Dear Diary,

I found this little video on YouTube about one of my heroes, Ernestine Shepherd, who says,

"age ain't nothing but a number."

Yeah. Put that right up there with,

"you're only as young as you feel."

Ernestine didn't start weighlifting until she was in her fifties. She didn't start bodybuilding until she was 70. Now, as I approach my 50th birthday, cliches have meaning. Since I started weightlifting last year I feel better than I did at 30, no joke. I feel strong and healthy and young. I get it now.

A few weeks ago at work I was at the doctor's and at the end of the visit he said, "Oh, by the way, your heart isn't enlarged." I almost cried. I have spent the last two years feeling time might be running out, mainly because my mother was diagnosed with an enlarged heart at age 53 and died at 61. She spent most of her life morbidly obese and refusing to exercise. Most of the members of my family have died. Alcoholism, refusal to exercise, smoking, suicide...it's all there, buried in my genes. Even my children don't really exercise and are starting to look and act old.

Easily carrying two full bags.

Recently my sister, age 58, shared with me her rapidly declining health. She's 9 years older than I am. She LOOOOOVES making chocolate cakes, and she's good at it. When I visited last year she didn't look healthy. There was no glow, she's put on a lot of weight, doesn't exercise, and is stooped over. She refused to go DOWN a HALF flight of stairs while carrying a lightweight basket and insisted her husband pull the car up curbside. When I hugged her goodbye, I begged her to take care of herself.

Now, she tells me, her teeth have suddenly started decaying, and she's had to cap them. She has unexplained hives and itching, "and I'm anemic. I'm not sure why I eat all kinds of food with iron."

Then she commented, "getting old is not much fun."

Well, I call bullshit. This isn't getting older; it's making crappy choices. That comment also made me sad, because. I wonder how long it will be before I'm the only one left in my family.

I used to look at people like Ernestine, and while I found them inspirational, I defnitely saw them as The Other. The Other are those people I saw as inspiring, but that I believe are exceptional. There was something about them to learn from but I could never do what they do. For me, fitness was about treading water, not really being competitive.

City of Lakes Triathlon, June 2014

But now, after a year of weight-lifting, I'm thinking, why not? My life has been a series of improbabilities. I became an athlete at age 40. I started a new career at 45. Next year, I turn 50, and recently told Sweet Baboo, "I didn't think I'd feel this good at fifty."

Thanks to the gorgeous man I married who introduced me to athletics, I feel like the universe has handed me a few extra decades to play with. There's lots of stuff I haven't tried, and some I've dabbled with. I'm stocky, and I'm strong, and I think I could be fast if I focused on that. I'm kind of burned out on ultras, but I love running marathons. There's a place for me to excel, and I intend to have fun finding it.

So, I've been training with Kathleen at No Limits Fitness since May. We're working on improving my strength and level of intensity, especially the problem I have where I get panicky from having to breathe too hard.

I also started this past week working with Korbie at Training Innovations to get a handle on my nutrition. In his office, I find my gaze drifting up to the pictures of the female physique competitors he's trained, posing on a stage, some of them my age. "I don't think I'd ever be able to do anything like that,' I said.

Korbie chuckled. "Neither did they."

I still have one last long distance race, Ironman Boulder, to tackle in less than a month. And then of course, the inevitable question:

I wonder what else I can do?

...

 

 

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Numbers: a Thursday Thirteen.

Me, at six

Dear Diaries,

1. SIX. Does anyone being six? I have a vague recollection of being given a Barbie, which was boring and stupid and was immediately put in all manner of peril for me and my friends to rescue. I wore Sears Tuffskin jeans, which made climbing trees easier. I was loved. The world was a safe, predictable place. That was pretty much my world.

I ask you to hold onto the idea of being six for a moment while I share a little about where I work.

2. FOUR. In the state of New Mexico, there are four acute-care hospital units where children under 18 go when they are out of control, psychotic, or suicidal. There used to be more, but nothing is more non-profit than children’s behavioral health, so they’ve all shut down, until just four are left, for a state of over a million people, a state with the seventh highest youth suicide rate in the United States.

3. TWO. In New Mexico, only two of the four acute units are non-profit. Both in Albuquerque, each takes patients from Albuquerque and most of the rest of the state.

4. TWELVE. We have twelve beds total, on the unit.

5. SIXTEEN. We would like to have sixteen beds, but that requires remodeling. Re: above and non-profitability of children’s behavioral health. We make enough to pay the bills. Nothing's left over. Every corner than can be cut has been cut. Most of the children we see live well below the poverty level--New Mexico has the second highest child poverty rate in the nation. Many are in state custody, having been abused, and many have mental retardation, or autism, or both. Every staff member in the unit has bought toys or other supplies out of the their own pockets.

6. ONE. We are the only private non-profit acute psychiatric unit for children in the state. The other non-profit, a university medical sciences center, sends us kids they don't feel they can handle.

7. ONE. I used to be puzzled as to why a major state university health sciences center couldn’t handle a pediatric behavioral patient. Then, one day as we were considering whether to take a patient who required one-to-one staffing, I realized that we needed only to consult one suoervisor, and then a staff member is called in, usually within one day. I suspect that at this other, university-affiliated hospital it requires several requisitions, forms, and an act of the state senate to get more staff.

8. EIGHT. The entire hospital system I work for is run by a foundation. They use extra money to build other hospitals, and now there are eight.

9. EIGHT. I have an ER list set up on my computer that gives me the ages and reasons for being in the ER. No names—just age and reason for being in the ER. It keeps me prepared for possible admissions, because I alone on the unit am the therapist, social worker, and insurance reviewer.

10. ELEVEN. Eleven people are on the board of trustees. Every year they hold a major fundraiser, which benefits some part of the hospital. This year, they chose our unit. The benefit is held in August of every year, and includes a fancy sit-down dinner, comedian, silent auctions, and raffle. Here’s a link.

11. SIX. Remember six? Last week I received a call from a local therapist asking me if I could do a suicide assessment on a six-year-old who is in child protective custody. This child is in treatment foster care and had been hoarding knives and threatening to kill himself. I told the therapist to take him to our emergency room for an evaluation.

12. SIX. Before I left for the day, I consulted the ER list to see if any six-year-olds had been brought in. There was, indeed, a six-year-old who was in the ER for a suicide assessment.

13. In fact, there were TWO.

...

 

 

Thursday, July 03, 2014

things to do in albuquerque when you're bored. Thursday 13

Dear Diary,

13. I love playing "Plague, Inc" and naming my virus after people I don't like. The popups and notifications are often entertaining.

12. For the past couple months Himself has gone to military trainings. I had plans while he was gone to eat lightly, nibbling on greens and fish. Lots of fish I ate. Greens, too. And, lots of popcorn soaked in butter. Urp.

11. Despite this, I lost about 6 lbs, owing to finally getting real and tracking my daily intake. Loseit! may be the 58th different app I've tried, but so far, it seems to be well-geared to my metabolism.

10. I've started working with a trainer in May while Baboo was at training. She really pushes me, in a way that I won't let anyone else get away with, once a week. Today, while doing a deadlift-dumbell push press-kettle bell swing combo, i got sweat in my eye. SWEAT. In my EYE. I've never had sweat in my eye before. Working with her I discovered I've been afraid of breathlessness and burn. Remember, I. Am lazy.

So today, sweat rolled and and landed in big drops on the floor. I'm learning not to be afraid of a little burning and breathlessness. From now on marathons and the occasional 50k will be a rare ultra distance. For the most part, i'll be focusing on my short game, relatively speaking.

9. As a result of all the weight training I've put on some muscle, especially in the butt. My ass and thighs are now a size 12/14 and my waist is a size 10. I buy pants and have them taken in.

I have abandoned all hope of being described as "willowy" or "waif-like."

8. A doctor I used to work with demanded rounds at 8:30, but now he's gone. The doctors I wrote about two days ago round at 9:30 to 9:45. I now have an extra hour to run every morning, shower, and drink coffee and commute with Sweet Baboo, who works 0.9 miles from me. I'm happier and have more energy.

7. Blind Melon Kitty died. She had a defect in her heart nobody knew about until we took her to be spayed. She died on the operating table. I miss, miss, miss her sweet, blind little mole face. I raised her from a fuzzy tennis ball that Sweet Baboo found trapped, crying in a tumbleweed, near death. She followed me everywhere, except when she was in heat. When in heat, she would follow Sweet Baboo everywhere, roll around in her come-hither way and chew on his ankles. I miss her every day.

6. I discovered, while collecting miniatures for play therapy, that there are grownups out there that trade and collect MCDONALD HAPPY MEAL TOYS. Seriously. They keep them in the wrappers so they don't "lose their value."

5. There were a couple of miniatures that I just never was able to get for less than $50. One of them was a Navajo hogan. So, while Sweet Baboo was off learning how to be all psychological army guy, I made one from toothpicks, wood glue, and wood putty.

I did lots of stuff while Himself was gone to keep from being bored.

4. I also rehabbed a chest of drawers to hold toys for my office:

..
Before
......
After

3. Himself is going for training again in September. I plan to make this:

2. Himself and I, before all his training, did a marathon double in March, picking up Missouri and Arkansas. In May we did one in Indiana. I now have done marathons in 29 states. We are trying to finish 50 before Himself turns 51.

1. Coming up! Ironman Boulder (god help me) Pensacola and Soldier marathon double, Hartford and Newport marathon double, and the Pilgrim pacer marathon, and Tucson. At the end of the year. I should have 34 states completed.

...

 

 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

More on that later.

Dear Diary,

This week I decided I wasn't hydrating enough. As in, I go all day barely drinking anything. To get me back into the habit of drinking regularly, I've started drinking diet soda and flavored water to make me more likely to drink.

Cheaper than coffee.

But do you think the doctors where I work appreciate that? Noooooo. Yesterday, I walked into rounds and plopped this into the middle of the table:

 

 

 

Shrieking and hysterics ensued.

What is THAT? What's in there? What are you drinking?

Before I continue with my story it behooves me to introduce new characters: Dr. Zen and Dr. Drama.

Both are MDs, hence the unsolicited advice on my 64-ounce morning repast. Both are board certified specialists, which is why they work with me on the children's psychiatric unit.

Dr. Zen has been a child psychiatrist for decades, He's often pretty mellow, though he is not without some occasional flights of fancy. He does a lot of thinking, often for so long that he needs reminding, "we'll know what you're thinking when it's in the chart. Please put it in the chart." He haaaaates technology and is quite put out and offended by its intrusion into his life. I can't communicate with him by any other means than telephone. But when he does write his reports they are quite an entertaining read. They are a lengthy narrative containing every detail one could need on the life of a child in our unit. He teaches all the kids breathing and meditation, and spends hours with families in person or on the phone. He is much more interested in getting kids services and therapy than most. He looks a little like John Denver.

Dr. Drama really, really wants to be mellow, but he's prone to exageration and some catastrophising. He gets a bit dramatic at times, e.g., "can you call [dr. X] in [town]? I can't speak to him! He makes my ears bleed!" This said with much emphasis and some flailing, and then perhaps anecdotes. Note: Dr. Drama hates, for the record, the nickname Dr. Drama, so shhhhhh. His reports are tight, structured, clear, rarely contain adverbs but use words and phrases that frankly, I think are overly complicated. "... hit his head on the wall, causing epitaxis." (Nosebleed). Or, "several self-inflicted cuts on her left lateral iliac crest" (hip). Dr. Drama likes technology. It's not unusual to get a text from him: pls find play thrpst for 12 y.o. Fem. that takes BCBS. (Please find me a play therapist for a 12 year old girl that takes Blue Cross insurance) perhaps at 7 on a Saturday night, for his clinic patients, which is not part of my duties. And then i do, and he buys me chocolate. It's a system that's working well.

ANYway, I figured that for the morning I'd better come clean and get all the recriminations out of the way. Like ripping off a bandaid.

"What I have here, gentlemen, is Diet Mountain Dew, and a little fruit punch. I'm trying to hydrate more. And some ice," I added.

The furor that followed surprised even me. I sipped my half gallon of caffeinated goodness calmly, while they freaked out.

Apparently, not fans of diet soda. They told me I'm killing myself slowly with my 64 ounces of poison in a cup. It might as well be antifreeze. I'm messing with neuroreceptors in my brain! Why can't I just drink water? With a little LEMON? Oh, THE HUMANITY! MOUNTAIN DEW IS PEOPLE!! PEEEEOPPLLLLLLLL!!!

 

The lecture and arguing over my choice of breakfast beverages lasted about twenty minutes, and then it was over. I promise to try drinking some plain water, can we get on to talking about patients please?

For the record, I am the lead social worker and therapist for a 12-bed inpatient children's unit (soon to be 16 beds, More on that later.) at a local hospital. I've spent much of the past 3-4 months months while Sweet Baboo has been at various army trainings (More on that later.) reading and studying and attending workshops honing skills in the area of CBT play therapy. I use sandtray for now, mainly.

Behold my collection:

And yes, it is fun collectiong them. I frequently find myself reluctant to let anyone, much less a child, play with a new miniature I've bought. But then. I get over myself.

Last Sunday, I did an Olympic tri, the first triathlon I've done in several years. Ugh. It was fun. Sorta. But kinda hard. I have serious reservations about the upcoming. Ironman Boulder. More on that later.