"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oops! Did I forget to train for that?

So, the other day I am looking at my event calendar and I see that on November 15th I have a 100 mile ride scheduled in Solvang with LA Run buddy. No biggie. It's been there for months. Let's see that is ....

2 weeks away!

Hmm ... NOW we have a problem.

You may have noticed I haven't blogged about much cycling lately. Well, that is only because I have not been doing very much cycling lately. Oops.

In light of this, I have toned down my plans to the 100K ride (62.5 miles) which will still be the longest ride I have ever done and a stretch or me, but less likely to, umm.., KILL me.


I am running the 25K at the Stinson Beach Trail Run. There is a 100% chance of rain and a slight chance of thunderstorms (really, pretty rare in California). I don't think I have ever seen the weather forecast say 100% chance. That isn't really a 'chance' then, is it?

Whatever. I have a hat.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ok, ok, one more.

After being on the fence for the last two months I have decided, what the hell, I will do one more full marathon this year! This morning I officially registered for the California International Marathon on December 7th.

It looks like a downhill profile but it is essentially a flat marathon (not my favorite). A 350 ft drop over 26 miles will not even be noticeable, but it reminds me of Napa, it is relatively small, I have a chance to meet some bloggers (let me know who is doing this bad boy for sure I would love to meet up!), and it is close (within 2.5 hour drive) so I decided I'll do it!

Catch up on the week:

Craziness ensued this week so I have been incommunicado again, but I did want to give a shout out to a first time marathoner from last weekend

AndreaN did her first full marathon last Sunday at the
Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco!!

Andrea looking strong at Mile 16!

She hasn't written a full report yet (hopefully she hasn't gone to the Calyx school of race reporting and we will have to wait until next October for the full report! Sorry Calyx, I am a snarky bitch!)

Andrea putting her head down and getting it done at Mile 25!

I was fortunate enough to be there last April when she completed her first 10k and again last weekend when she completed her first full marathon! Talk about some HUGE fitness gains! She was strong, steady and doggedly determined. I was so proud, badass me even cried on the way home!
Hugs from hubby at the finish make the those last 6 miles worth it!

Picking up your finishers t-shirt at the end of the race, Priceless!

I was so glad I could see her again and be there at such a cool moment in her life. I hope I wasn't too irritating. I can be VERY irritating when I am excited!

I was bummed though that I missed my opportunities to meet AKA Alice (and her hefferettes) and Running Knitter at the Nike half marathon. But they had AWESOME races! Go check out their reports! You will NOT be disappointed!

My training is sucking ass lately. I did two runs this week with lots of chest tightness and coughing for a whopping total of 6 miles ( I did run/walk 10 miles with AndreaN on Sunday and my lungs were fine), but I need to get my schedule back on track for cycling and, oh, I don't know, maybe get my fat ass in the water for the first time since fucking Pac Grove! Gah!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cassie's Story

I had always meant to write Cassie's story. I didn't want to write it as a memorial, but I guess it will have to be. I had to take her to be put down on Tuesday.

Cassie was Mary's dog. She had mammary adenocarcinoma two and a half years ago. We knew it would come back and 3 months ago it did. It was in several places in her abdomen, but she was not showing any signs of illness at that time. Mary and I had decided that we would not do chemotherapy on her. I am a veterinary nurse. I believe in medicine. I did chemotherapy on my cat Winston and I am grateful I did. I also believe in quality of life and that there are many factors that go into a decision like this. It was the right decision for Cassie and Mary.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Cassie's Story

One Sunday morning, at my regular meeting in a local park, I drove up to see a pretty red and white dog playing with some children. Sweet scene. But, what struck me most was the softball sized tumor swinging wildly from her mammary glands as she played.

I think: Assholes, that don't take care of their dog!

After the meeting, I came out to see that the dog was still there, but the last of the children were leaving and no one was taking the dog.

I asked the group of kids, "Is this your dog?"

"No, it was here when we got here" they replied.

I think: Great. I have a lot of shit to do today.

(not nice, but it is always what goes through my mind as I grab the extra leash and a can of cat food from, what my husband calls, my 'stray dog kit' in my car.)

I spent the next four and half hours wandering through the nearby neighborhoods looking for this dog's home. She was so sweet that she had to owned by someone! She was wearing a collar, but no tags.

Aside: this is a MAJOR frustration for me. Why put a collar on a dog if you don't put a tag? I have heard every reason in the book, "she never goes out", "the tags jingle and keep me awake", "I am not giving strangers my address". They repeat all these reasons when I return their dog that 'never goes out'. No one expects their dog to get out, but it happens. If you put an address tag on your dog I can get it back to you. Otherwise, it makes it very hard for people to help you and your dog. Lucy, my dog, has four tags with my full address and three phone number options to call. If you hate the jingling, tape them together. I'm just saying..

Anyhoo, back to the story...

After about 2 hours of this in the 95 degree, August heat, I was practically dragging this poor tired dog behind me. I decided to load her up in the car and drive around. She immediately fell asleep on the back seat. I would pull up to people, roll down the back window and ask them if they had every see this dog, almost universally they replied, "No, but she sure looks tired" several even asked if she was dead.

Yep. I am driving around in 95 degree weather, with a dead dog on my backseat, trying to find her owners. That makes perfect sense.

Almost every person I met thought they had seen her before and sent me to another neighborhood. I was was getting really upset. I figured she had to have a family. Had to have kids that loved her and that she loved. I was leaving for a vacation to Tahoe the next day. My dog is not a fan of other dogs and I had six cats that I needed to protect and I didn't know her 'cat friendly' status. I made the tough decision to take her to the Humane Society so that her family could find her if they were looking.

Another "less preachy" Aside: You don't have to turn a dog/cat/rabbit/etc. that you find into the Humane Society if you want to take them home, but still give their owners the option of finding them. The Humane Society will file a "Found" card for you, free of charge, and direct owners to the card list. This allows owners to search through the cards when they come in looking for the dog, but you can keep the dog or privately adopt it out if no one claims it.

My concern with putting her at the Humane Society is that once I relinquished control of her I lose control over her fate. Is is not as simple as "I will take her if no one comes to get her." She was an older dog with a huge tumor, if the Humane Society deemed her unadoptable I may have a tough time getting her back.

Then there were all my other concerns, if I did get her back could I justify the $2500 or so it would cost to get her evaluated and have the tumor removed for a dog I couldn't keep and didn't have a home for? I knew from experience that an unneutered female, over 6 years old, with a mammary tumor, mostly likely had mammary adenocarcinoma. How do I adopt out a dog that, even after surgery, had an uncertain future? It would recur, it would metastasize. I looked in her face. I remembered her playing with those kids. So happy making them so happy. I knew I had to try to save her.

I cried all the way home from the shelter. The shelter employee that took her in for me gave me the name and number of the Special Needs Adoptions coordinator. Her name was Cassaundra, and when I finally adopted the dog, I named her Cassie after this special woman with a really hard job. But I am getting ahead of myself again.

I called Cassaundra first thing Monday morning and explained my situation. She sounded doubtful that it would work out well. We had to wait the 3 day waiting period to give the owners to claim her before anything could be done, but she said "let me evaluate the dog, have my veterinarian look at her, and I will give you a call back after the three day period."

3 days came and went. I called everyday and no one came looking for Cassie. On the third day, I talked to Cassaundra again. She had met Cassie, the veterinarian had evaluated her and the vet had said exactly what I already knew, "she is a unneutered female, over 6 years old, .... mostly likely mammary adenocarcinoma. Not adoptable."

But what I didn't know is that Cassaundra had JUICE and she had met Cassie and Cassie was special. I tell you, there was something about that dog. Cassaundra went to the Vice President of Medical Services and had a full battery of evaluation tests authorized to see if the suspected cancer had metastasized. Don't fuck with Cassaundra, she may be able to get you rubbed out. I am only half kidding.

I spent most of my Tahoe vacation on the phone with Cassaundra and the Vice President of Medical Services (Cassaundra gave me her direct line. I can be more than a little driven when I want something. Hee hee.) Picture: Lucy and Floyd on that trip to Tahoe. Two of my cats, Floyd and Autumn, were still young so they went on the trip with us.

It was an emotional roller coaster. In the morning, "she has no evidence of metastasis", in the afternoon, "we can't authorize any more medical services". Then the next morning, "we can spay her and do a mass removal (wouldn't take care of the cancer for long)", the next afternoon, "she needs to be picked up tomorrow". Then on one call, the Vice President of Medical Services said she found a surgeon willing to do the full chain mastectomy (the best surgery option for longer term remission). I cried for a good reason for the first time since I found the damn dog.

Now I only had one thing left to do. I just had to find a home for a 8-10 year old dog, with cancer, who was recovering from MAJOR surgery, and had a 99.9% chance of the cancer recurring.

Easy peasy.

What I also had was an amazing dog that LOVED children. Fortunately, I knew an amazing woman that loved both dogs AND children.


Thank sweet life for Mary.

She didn't even hesitate one second when I asked her to do it for me. She knew it may be for only a short time. I would handle any medical issues and recheck appointments, but she had the hard part, falling in love with a dog that may not live very long.

As it turned out Cassie was there for Mary during two very painful and scary moments in her life: the death of her dog Katie and her own diagnosis with breast cancer and chemotherapy. I know Mary, Mary's family, and I were very grateful she had a dog that worshiped the very ground she walked on during these painful and stressful times.

I am not a religious person. I don't believe in fate or destiny or anything like that, but I believe in innate goodness of living beings, I believe there are beings that belong together and that those beings are made even better by that togetherness.

It is hard to conceive that either Mary or Cassie could have been made better, but I know I was for knowing them.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

RBR: The inauspicious beginning

I have been struggling with my asthma since Bizz Johnson. So much so, that I am back on my nebulizer
The students are convinced I am somehow allowed to smoke pot at school. Yeah, it's pot that is in a liquid form, requires an air compressor, and doesn't smell like pot. Morons! Learn your druggie facts! I am embarrassed to call myself your teacher.

Anyway, this made me think of what started all of this exercise stuff in the first place.

In 2003, I was in my third year of teaching, coaching two sports, mentoring one club, still working weekends at my old job, juggling 5 pet sitting clients, finishing my clear teaching credential classes, and had started my first masters program. Low and behold I got sick,

...but I didn't have time to be sick, so I kept going.

Then I got sicker.

still no time to be sick, so I kept going.

People started to notice I was not doing well. I could not walk the entire length of the campus without stopping. My husband finally put his foot down and TOOK my stubborn ass to the doctor. The doctor said it was possibly walking pneumonia, "here's an inhaler, some antibiotics, don't work for the next week or two..."

Yeah, right.

I took two days off and kept going. By now I am forced to sleep sitting up, because I can't sleep laying down without feeling like I am going to die,

but I kept thinking it would get better.

I went back to the doctor, she says my lungs sound awful, gives me some steroids and two more types of inhalers, a nebulizer, and says "I think you have asthma, that makes the pneumonia much more dangerous. Don't go back to work yet." She is visibly stunned when I say I went back last week.

I still thought it would get better, so I went back to work. I was pretty non-functional at my job. I had a wheezing/coughing fit at school and had to send a student to get my inhaler because I could not make the 200 yard walk. I decided to take a couple of days off to "knock this thing out." At home I can't eat, sleep, or move. Walking from one room to another I run out of air and go down on one knee. I got to the bathroom to find the new rescue inhaler ( I was using them about 20 times a day at this point) and I barely recognized myself in the mirror.

I decided to go back to the doctor. At the office, my SpO2 (measure of the amount of oxygen in my blood which should be 99-100%) was 90% and it dropped to 82% if I talked or tried to walk across the room. The doctor explained that at 81% they will intubate you and put you on a ventilator.

That afternoon I was admitted to the hospital. That night I watched my husband cry as he signed a DNR (do not resuscitate) form as a precaution in case they had to intubate me and my brain went without oxygen for more than 6 minutes.

I was in the hospital for 10 days. Every medical student, nursing student, and respiratory tech in the hospital came to listen to my lungs. I was placed in the cancer ward because the respiratory therapists had to treat me every three hours, I was on 24 hour/day oxygen, I had to get IV steroid injections three times a day, IV antibiotics twice a day, and I needed a new IV catheter every morning.

The absolute worst part of this is I had done it to myself. I ignored warning signs. I ignored loved ones that pleaded and argued with me. I thought I just needed to get to the "after."

The "After" is a lie I tell myself and loved ones when I over commit and lose myself. "It will get better after this semester", "it will get better after I finish this season", "it will get better after the holidays", etc., etc.

10 days alone in a hospital gives you a lot if time to think about your life. Don't get me wrong, I had visitors. My family, students, and friends came to see me, but there was still A LOT of alone time.

I thought about all the things I sacrificed in order to maintain an admittedly insane schedule. I would routinely forget family and friends' birthdays and anniversaries, I would refuse almost all invitations because I was too tired or too busy, my animal family time was reduced to basic maintenance (feed, water, clean, repeat), my husband is very self-sufficient but the amount of time we spent being a couple was frighteningly little.

Plus, I didn't do anything else but work and school. I had NO hobbies. Not one. I had to make shit up on my resume to make my self sound more interesting.

If I died there in that hospital, all people could say about me is "Boy, could that girl work!"

When I got out I decided to change some things. I had been SCUBA certified in Hawaii, but always wanted to take a "real" course and dive in California (I don't know why it is WAY too freaking cold!). I did my open water re-certification, then additional Advanced Open Water, and a Nitrox certifications.

Then in 2005, I found Team in Training and triathlon. The rest, as they say, is history. I still have MAJOR issues with balance and overcommitment, but as one long time friend pointed out to me recently, at least some of it is about me now. (Well, we all know that martyrs like my former, and often, current self come from a very self-centered base, but that is a discussion for another time :o)

Good luck to all that are racing this weekend! There are a SLEW of you!

Stef and my LA Run Buddy are rocking it out at the Pumpkinman Triathlon today!

AndreaN, AKA Alice (and her hefferettes), and RunningKnitter are all doing the Nike Women's Marathon and 1/2 Marathon on Sunday.

Lisa Slow-and-Steady is doing the Duke City 1/2 Marathon on Sunday

IronGeekGirl Misty is doing the Palo Duro Canyon 50K, while her hubby, S.Baboo, does the 50 miler on Sunday

I am certain I have missed people, but I am tired and I have to go smoke some liquid pot*

*See reference at very beginning of post. I know my post is too long, so I didn't want anyone thinking I was being serious. No, there is no such thing as liquid pot and if there was you couldn't smoke it.
Sorry about all the LOL cats, but I LOVE lol cats. They make me laugh.
That might make me stupid and pedestrian, but
I don't care! That shit is funny!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More pictures from Susanville

I got some pictures from one of the other gals that came up with us, plus stuck in a couple more that I took.

I run a little hot (temperature hot, not Paris Hilton 'hot') and I don't think my outfit really depicts how cold it was. Some of these will give you a clearer picture of the temperature.

It was a fun weekend and I will definitely be back to the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon next year. If you are hooked on road marathons, but are considering trail running this run is the PERFECT compromise.

Picture: Jane's outfit at the start. It was freaking FREEZING!
Yes, those are wind proof snow pants!

Picture: Julia (my run partner) VERY happy about the pretzels.
Every aid station had food, Gatorade, water, and plenty of great volunteers!

Julia points out the amazing view at the squeaky bridge.

This woman ran for 18 miles in her garbage bag, fleece scarf, fleece hat, and a parka.

Here we are at the finish. They all waited for me which was so sweet especially considering Jane finished her first marathon in 4:38 and Julia was done at 5:36!
My official time 6:18 ugh!

And in a totally unrelated news, I so wish I could look this hardcore and be this damn cute at the same time!
Shirleyperly at Maine Marathon last weekend.
I stole your picture. Sorry! But you so rock!
She had a cold and finished the marathon in 4:13. Damn, girl!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I am deathly allergic to Susanville. Yeah, that's it.

Well, that didn't go so well.

Goal time: 5 hours (pipe dream really)

Plan B Goal time: 5:15 (more realistic before I actually started running)

Plan C goal time: 5:30 (more realistic after I dealt with the second asthma attack)

Actual time: ~ 6:20 (~ = I stopped caring after the sixth administration of my rescue inhaler, aching lungs, and feeling like I had been punched in the ribs for 21 miles. Time to face facts and walk it in)

At nine am, when we started the race, it was 22 degrees Fahrenheit. What is it with me and the temperature extreme/bad weather juju?

For those of you that do not have asthma, the rapid intake of subfreezing air into the lungs, repeatedly, as one does when running, is a pretty surefire way to trigger an asthma attack. Or five.

By mile 3, I was whistling on exhale (not good) and I used my inhaler for the second time of the day. I decided if I kept whistling on exhale I was going to bag it. This is not worth getting hurt over.

But that part got better and I pressed on. I still felt like I had a vice grip on my chest and was expending WAY too much energy to move WAY too little air. I knew it wouldn't last but at this point I had to finish the distance anyway so the longer I could run the less time it would take. At mile 20 I sent my running partner on her way and I limped out another 2 miles before deciding I was being stubborn and possibly risking damage. Time to call it a day.

Also at mile 20 it was still bloody cold and I started stealing abandoned clothing along the side of the trail. It was really cold! Don't judge me!

What are the odds that I would run into the owner of the shirt I purloined?! Christ! I AM jinxed.

His name is Ed. He is a veteran marathoner that did the early start (7:30 am) and hoped to be done in time to watch the football games. Unfortunately, he hurt his knee at mile 12 and was walking it in. Like I said, the point of no return on a point to point trail marathon occurs pretty early.

Pictures: What I was wearing BEFORE shopping at "The Bizz Johnson Trail Boutique". Ed and I at the finish. I am wearing HIS Surf City 1/2 Marathon shirt and a sweatshirt discarded by a MUCH smaller woman than I.

Ed and I had LOTS of time to get acquainted since were were walking 4 miles together. He told me to keep the shirt, so I did. I got to meet his wife at the finish, she was gorgeous and grateful he had someone to walk with for a while. She cracked up at the shirt story.

When I first met up with Ed and realized that I was wearing his shirt he was under the mistaken impression that I was going to keep running, he said "just be sure when you get to the finish to tell my wife how you go it". I said, not to worry, that I would tell her "Hey, he was already dead when I took the shirt. It isn't like I killed him." That cracked us up. We were a little punchy.

It was a beautiful trail and a very well run race, but a rough day.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This morning I am taking my mean ass to Susanville, CA to run the Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon. It is located 90 miles east of absolutely, fucking nowhere and will take me 5 and a half hours to get there. It is famous for its state prison. Yipee.

I am driving up alone, and I have my own hotel room, which I think is a good thing. I have been ridiculous lately. Absolutely ridiculous. It can not be normal to have this severe of a personality change once a month. Granted, some months aren't quite this bad, but still. I am over it.

I have to say thank you to you guys that left comments on my last two posts. They made me laugh and were nice to read (Ok, so I read them four or five times. I had a rough week!), even if my attempts for compliments were a little blatant (*blush*). I have not been feeling very happy with myself lately. Anyway, thank you it helps. A lot.

Moving on...

The marathon this weekend is a trail marathon with a downhill elevation chart, and not a "you will pay for any downhill with 3000ft of brutal climb and then scamper down billy goat trails for your descent" like Skyline to Sea, but a fairly gradual downhill on a packed dirt trail.

Yes, I am going for a PR. I would like to do it in 5 hours (a 20 minute PR over Napa)

I usually do not do that, or certainly announce it, because I don't want to feel like a failure if I don't make it. BUt something Formulaic (Izzac) said reminded me.

"I don't see 'have fun' on your list" I am paraphrasing because I am too lazy to make the actual quote work.

He is right. I do this to have fun. I won't ever earn a Boston slot unless I am somehow running when I am 114 years old, Nike is unlikely to approach me about representing their new racing flats, so I damn well better have a good time doing this.

I am running on a gorgeous trail and I am fit enough to complete a marathon. Go me.

If I make 5 hours in the process, whoo hoo! I'll have dessert at the post race dinner (let's be honest I will do that anyway)

Hopefully, I will have internet and I can catch up on my horridly delinquent blog reading!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Huh, I kinda like these

These are the professional pictures from Facchino Photography. I always like their pictures of the PCTR events, but usually hate mine.

I actually kind of like these ones from the Skyline to Sea 50K. These would be the first race photos I have ever bought if I do it.

I am still grouchy and my ankles hurt, so I took today off from running. I am going to take it easy this week. I would really like to improve my marathon time at Bizz Johnson this weekend. Unfortunately, the 10 pounds I have packed on since Napa are not going to help.

My goals for the next couple of months are:

1. More swimming

2. More biking

3. More speed work

4. Less Me (which translates into less eating)

All things I am not crazy about, but must do if I want to meet my goals

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I am a big ol' grouch

I did the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 marathon with my Run Buddy today.

Good things:

1. Run Buddy and I decided to run this together and I love her to pieces.

2. It is a Rock 'n' Roll event which are usually pretty fun

3. It is in my home town and runs through my neighborhood (the pretty part, for some reason the race director didn't want to include a 'Pink Poodle loop'. Odd, I know)

The nice thing about running in your own 'hood is that you know
where the good bathrooms are.

4. Run Buddy has done it every year it has happened (this is its third year in San Jose, I missed last year due to my knee injury before the Nike marathon)

Nefrititi and her slave girl came out from the Rosicrucian Museum to cheer runners on. I love this little neighborhood museum. If you ever come to San Jose you should really go.

Not so good things:

1. I have entered full blown bitchtabulous status with PMS.

2. Run Buddy fully admits that she did not train for this at all and she was going to do a 1 min run /1 min walk (yes, from the very start of the race. It is just as irritating as you would imagine) for as long as she could handle. Which ended up being mile 8. She walked after that.

3. I was running this with her, so that means that is what I was doing.

It was a long morning. *sigh*

Sorry to be a bummer...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Reason # 253, that I do not have children.

Not for all the money in the world would I be a mother. I think Mothers should be given special rights as citizens. I think they should be allowed to cut in line, get free Starbuck's, and be allowed 24 hour a day access to the Baskin Robbins of their choice. I think they should get paid extra at their jobs, and three days a week should be considered full time. I think we should start a custom that anytime you see a mother you should just say 'thank you' and give them $20 on the spot.

Let me tell you why I think this.
Thursday, I am having a perfectly lovely day educating the youth of our fine nation, and a seemingly small issue with a student turns into a pissing match that culminates in the little fucker looking me straight in the eye and saying, "I hate you!"

In that instant I saw this ungrateful turd saying that with the same, or possibly more, vehemence to the woman that gave birth to him.

I swear, the weight of the anger that I felt at that image made me a little shorter.

If I had spent 16 hours of searing pain expelling that insolent asshole from my body only to have him look me DEAD IN THE EYE and say "I hate you" because of something like changing his seat in the classroom, there would not be a prison strong enough to keep me from breaking out and beating him within an inch of his life.

On to running, which fortunately washed this from my brain, so I can stay out of prison and return to work on Monday.


8 mile trail run in The Forest at Nisene Marks. I felt good. I have the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon tomorrow that I am run/walking with my Run Buddy, but she has not been training so I think we will be walking a lot. Then next weekend I am doing the full at the Bizz Johnson Marathon.

I took pictures on today's run, but most of them came out crappy, but here is a little bit of what it was like:

The light was so cool. Foggy, with some sun coming through.

The blurr in the blue hat is who I am running Bizz Johnson with. We are going for 5 hours. Not sure how that will work out, but we will see!

Girl Power on Budda Bridge

I am very lucky to get to run here.

Last bridge before you leave the park