Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Week 6: DIYS Summer 100 Challenge



Day 36. Monday, July 1st
Deb and I got to spend the entire day together. We put our bikes on my car and headed for Canada. I had brought my passport just for this ~ a new stamp!!! As we headed off it started raining. The temps dropped to 70. But we are troopers. We stopped at the Detroit Riverfront, pulled our bikes off the car and headed out on the US side of the Detroit River looking across to Canada. It was such a trip. And wet and freezing. We didn't last long at all. We only logged 1.4 miles before we ran out of the bike path. We headed back and stopped for ice cream. As we sat eating our ice cream, shivering, we decided to abort our bike riding expedition and head to Canada for lunch (yes, we had ice cream first).

Ambassador Bridge heading into Canada.
Back in the car, I actually turned on the heater. The temps had now dropped to 61 degrees. This weather is just crazy. In the rain we headed over the Ambassador Bridge, a suspension bridge that connects Detroit, Michigan in the USA to Windsor, Ontario in Canada. Much to my disappointment, after handing over our passports, being questioned, and paying the fee to cross the bridge, I was handed back my passport with no new stamp. SUCKOLA. However, the Chineese food we had in Canada (I know, strange, huh?) was very good and seeing speed limit signs posted in kilometers instead of miles made the jaunt well worth it.

So that marked the third country I have been in: Mexico, Greece and now Canada. Hoping Scotland is next.

Day 37. Tuesday, July 2nd
I started my day out with a run down Sayers and through the cemetery again. This run is always a challenge, but I am really happy with my time. Somewhere around Taylor's birthday I started doing something different. On my last mile, as I counted my breath, I would run as hard as I could to the count of 24 (how old Taylor would be) and then continued counting to 50, my current age, trying to recover my breath. I was really happy with the time of my last mile today.
10:51 Mile 1
10:44 Mile 2
11:17 Mile 3
09:56 Mile 4 fastest mile ever
01:21 Mile 0.12
--------------------
44:10/4.12 miles

When Deb got home from work we got on our bikes a did a quick 5 mile ride. Life is good.

TOTAL MILES TODAY: 4.12

Day 38. Wednesday, July 3rd
Denise and I headed into Ann Arbor for lunch and then over to Crazy Wisdom. Ann Arbor is a trip ~ kinda like a smaller version of Westwood, but more friendly and much older. I love the architecture. There are also a lot of one way streets which always seem to throw me off a bit.

Once back home it started to rain again. It's a good thing Denise and I do nothing and everything well together. It is easy to be here. We watched more Merlin, had another great dinner and more ice cream with chocolate sauce.

Day 39. Thursday, July 4th
Fourth of July and a really nice day. Deb and I headed over to the lake for a swim and guess who shows up on her bicycle???? Yay, Denise. We all swam in the warm water, enjoying the lake to ourselves. I managed to swim about a 1/2 mile.

We went over to Cris and Janet's. They have added llamas
since I was here last summer. I was set to help pick cherries until the mosquitoes decided they were gonna feast on the California girl. Maria and Kate came over and we taught Maria how to shoot the bow. She was very good. We had some great food and left in time to save Nico and Tilly from the fireworks. I think we were all in bed pretty early.






Day 40. Friday, July 5th
Another rest day. Deb and I have the Manistee Firecracker 5k race tomorrow, my very first 5k. The three of us were going to drive up north today and stay up at their property for a few days, but it just seemed too much. So instead, we are staying home and eating and watching Merlin.

Day 41. Saturday, July 6th
Deb and I got up at 3:30 and headed to Manistee. We watched the sun rise. I was feeling pretty good about this race until I saw the hills. Then the conversation in my head just went like this: just don't walk, keep your feet moving, you can do this. Deb, the exact opposite of me, doesn't care a bit about time or placing. She is just there to have fun and enjoy the experience. Something I really need to get better at. My head always goes to win! win! win!

We checked in and got our bibs and t-shirts. Turns out there were no finishers medals, only plaques for 1st place and medals for 2nd and 3rd. That sucked. Oh well, it's my first 5k, at least I'll have a time to beat next one, right?  I got up to the front of the line and the crazy coach of Manistee High School lit the firecracker (hence, Manistee Firecracker 5k) and off we went.

I had my music on and my first mile was the best I ever ran, 9m:16s! Wow. This must be adreneline. Or downhill. Or both. Second mile was 9m:53s. Hot damn. Third mile. Fuck. Uphill. There was no way I could keep going at this pace. In fact, I was about to heave. So I walked. For about 30 seconds and took off again. But had to walk again. Twice. Damn Damn Damn. Mile three was 10m:45s. In all honesty, that wasn't terrible, but no record setter in this group of runners. I was being passed up all over the place. I crossed the finish line at 30:26.6. I had no idea what my placing was. Seemed to take forever for them to post them.

And then they were up. I took 3rd place in my age division. I could not believe it! I was so excited.

By the time I had my medal around my neck it was nearly eleven and Deb and I were starving. Like desperate for food starving and this tiny town has nothing open except fast food. After driving through the town twice (and seeing my first draw bridge lifted up) we actually had to stop at Burger King. I hadn't eaten fast food in so long (Inn & Out doesn't count) I was almost panicked until I realized I could just have a breakfast sandwich and convince myself I was eating real eggs and bacon.

Once we had food in our stomachs we headed to Onekama to hang out at the beach. Now it has taken me a while to call Lake Michigan a beach, but a beach it is. And the most beautiful beach ever. I love, love, love the fresh water although it was just too cold to go in past my thighs. The cold, cold water felt good on my sore legs though.

Then to top the day off, on our way out of town, we stopped at  the House of Flavors Ice Cream Parlor on the way out of Manistee for the BEST ice cream in the world. Unfortunately, my waffle cone has a hole in the bottom and I had to eat it as fast as I could as it was dripping all over me and the car.

Such a good day with Deb. xoxoxo

TOTAL MILES TODAY: 3.09

Day 42. Sunday, July 7th
Rest day.

TOTAL MILES THIS WEEK: 7.21
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 44.61 (end of week 6)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Week 5: DIYS Summer 100 Challenge



Day 29. Monday, June 24th
I love it here in Michigan and the mosquito's love that I am here too. Denise and I took the pups for a nice walk in the woods and then took another one later in the day by ourselves. After dinner, Deb and I went back to Portage Lake for a swim. I think I swam about 100 meters, or 4 laps. Was a nice post-race active rest day. Did 10 pushups before bed. I need to consider throwing burpees back into the mix. ugg.
Tilly. Keeping an eye out between storms.

Day 30. Tuesday, June 25th
THUNDER STORMS!!!! I love them. Luff, luff, luff. Now Nico and Tilly disagree and run and hide, but I love them. Back in California we are lucky to get one, maybe two thunder storms a year. But it has been storming on and off almost all day long. I am in heaven. It has been really hot here and Denise says these storms should break the heat. That would be a bonus too, but just for today I am one happy girl!

I am pretty sure we got more rain in the last 24 hours here than we get in Southern California in a year.

Day 31. Wednesday, June 26th
Today is Taylor's 24th Birthday. The profound loss is still more than I can articulate. I am grateful that I am no longer in that moment-by-moment, every day agony that I was in for so long. There are times that despair tears at my heart, but not nearly as often. I have not gotten to that place where people say her memory will makes me smile. Not sure that is reality. Missing her is still just too intense.

< Insert: Song for Zula. Phosphorescent >

In any case, I have never been away from home for her birthday. Never in 23 years. This was a first. I was worried that it would be too hard on Hayley for me to be gone this year, but she said she was fine, or rather, would be fine. So here I am, 2,000 miles from home, a sobbing mess, learning to be ok, no matter where I am. Two things that I find very healing are: surrounding yourself with love (check) and exercising....

So.... I ran up Sayers to Plum Orchard again and made it all the way back to the house this time. The hills are a killer. I was soaked in humid sweat, but so happy that I made the entire run this time, pushing, pushing, pushing. I was a tad bit shocked that the total ascent was only 69ft and the total decent was 66 feet. What the hell?
  • Distance 3.88 mi
  • Duration 44m:15s
Happy Birthday TeeToe. With every breath I take, I think of you.  No hills will ever tear me down.

Day 32. Thursday, June 27th
Dear Grand Pooba of the Michigan Alliance of Mosquito's, please call off your attack of the California Girl. I come in peace and admiration of your fine land...

No one answered my call. I am being eaten alive. No deet, no cutters, no wristband are saving me. I can either be outside where I love and be eaten up, or I can stay inside. I am starting to like inside.... however, the Spartan Beast will have no mercy, so running gear on, shoes laced up, hydration pack filled, music ready, Endomondo on.

As I headed down Sayers I decided to hang a left and run by the cemetery. Knowing that it was only a three mile round trip, I pushed past it and went up to where the street began to turn the other way and which point I turned around. This time, as I approached the cemetery, I darted in and ran the perimeter. Cemeteries are always about remembering for me. Honoring. You are not forgotten. As I came out of there I was exhausted but pushed on home. I am always floored when I am able to push on.
  • Distance 4.12 mi
  • Duration 45m:26s
Have I mentioned ice cream? We have had ice cream a few times now and I am loving it. Vanilla with chocolate sauce. Such indulgence. And the thunderstorms? We are still getting them. There is just no other way to go to sleep than to listen to the sky rumble and the water pouring from the sky.

Day 33. Friday, June 28th
Nico is supervising.
It has been raining every night. But it doesn't just rain, it thunders and lightnings. This rain is wonderful, however it increases the humidity and brings out the mosquitoes. Deb goes to work each morning and Denise and I try to figure out what we can do between the rain drops. Today we tackled the fire pit. We laid down the sandstones and will sweep the polymeric sand in as soon as we can get 24-hours of no rain. I am bringing home these stones and am going to do a fire pit here in my circle.

Day 34. Saturday, June 29th
Dirty Girl Challenge

Something new for me, the Dirty Girl Challenge. I head into this just for fun. There is no timer, no time to beat and both Deb and Denise's first OCR. I am so excited to be doing this with them. Ann, Jeff's fiancee is also doing this with us. Her first OCR as well. Deb has managed to recruit a lot of the women she works with to do this also, so we really do have a "team."

The rain let up and we had a great time. The obstacles were a lot of fun and very doable. I love the net cargo climbs. They seem to consistently be my favorite. There was a big slide at the end and the final mud pit. It was a lot of fun to kick up the mud and play like children. Denise seemed to have the most fun playing in the mud.  She definitely laughed the most.



Day 35. Sunday, June 30th
Denise and Deb hosted a small get together so I could spend some time with people I don't get a chance to see much. Deb and I worked on getting the yard ready (been raining so much we weren't able to do it before today) and Denise began cooking up a feast. We had a great time with Cris and Janet, Maria and Kate, Suzanne, Jeff, Lori and Rob, Deb's friend Ruth's husband. Ruth was not feeling well and he came without her. That guy was a riot. I still laugh when thinking of him. The party was great fun.

When everyone left, the unexpected happened.... the sun was starting to set and I realized it was late, like really late. Yes, we had been going to bed early, but for me that is nothing new. And yes, I guess the sun was still up, kinda, when I was going to bed, but here it was, definitely sunset and it was 10:15 p.m. Never have I seen the sun set at 10:15. And then it got better. I looked out at the sunset and I saw something. Then I saw another something. Then I realized what I was seeing. FIREFLIES. oh my gawd! Fireflies! I have been here over a week, and I was here last summer too, but somehow I never realized the sun set so late and there were fireflies. What a treat. Icing on the cake of a great day.

TOTAL MILES THIS WEEK: 8.0 even.
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 37.4 (end of week 5)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Week 4: DIYS Summer 100 Challenge



Day 22. Monday, June 17th
I am just loving these mountains. So, so beautiful. I had this goal of running my way from California to Michigan, and seeing as all I have done so far was ride my bike a measly 30 minutes in Utah, I figured today is the day. Only problem is--we are in the mountains. There is NOTHING that is remotely flat, ugggg. I knew the road up to our cabin was rather steep, so I decided to run the other way on the dirt road.

Now let me say, running in the Rocky Mountains at 8,000 feet is literally breath taking. Yes, I was running up a mountain, but the air is thin. I could only run 2.63 miles/33:06 minutes. The climb was 336 feet. Very gratifying. When I got back Denise was cooking a wonderful dinner. I took a quick bath in a small creek, ate a wonderful dinner and went to bed with a huge smile on my face. xoxoxxo


TOTAL MILES TODAY:2.63
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 24.55

Day 23. Tuesday, June 18th
It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger, but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am


This has so become my song. I heard it before I left California and it came on during my run yesterday. After Taylor died I stopped listening to music ~ for years. It has only been recently that I have started listening again. I am really enjoying some of the new music out right now.

In any case, packing up to leave Colorado. It has been fabulous but we gotta get into Michigan. I have my first triathlon Sunday with Deb. Granted it's a mini-tri, but I am excited to do this too.

War Axe State Recreational Area, Shelton, NE 
So back in the car to carry on, except now I have a road trip buddy and someone who can testify to Blanca being a nutcase. As we left the Rockies behind, the landscape flattened out and became, well, flat. We stopped in North Platte, Nebraska for lunch--Mexican food--hahahaha. The waiter was terribly rude to us. Denise thinks he is homophobic. I am still trying to figure that one out. Which of us looks gay? Her? Me?

Back in the car, heading for some teepee for the night (yes, she booked us into a teepee) we agreed to get a hotel. Denise found us one in Lincoln and trust me, once there, we almost left. It was nothing to write home about, let me tell you, but it was better than the hotel I stayed in in Utah. We had dinner at The Outback, so that was good, and watched a few more episodes of Merlin and then called it a night.

Estes Park, CO to Lincoln, NE ~500 miles.

Day 24. Wednesday, June 19th
Since we had absolutely no love for this hotel, we packed up and found a Starbucks. After a few good cups of coffee we headed out--out of Nebraska, land of stink (cows, I think) and into Iowa.

Now Iowa is also very flat. In fact, it is always strange for me to not be able to see any mountains. But trust me, there are no mountains to be seen anywhere. Just green and flat and some rolling hills and big, big sky. On a whim we decided to stop at a winery tucked in the lush green hills just off the road. According to Denise, the wine was nothing to write home about, but it was nice to get out of the car for a bit.

Our hotel for the night was on the Mississippi River on the Iowa side. Denise was really starting to doubt Blanca as she led us to our hotel, but Blanca took not one wrong turn. We were floored by how fabulous this hotel was. Pristine. Fabulous. This was our view out our window. I was surprised that the Mississippi wasn't wider, but we did see a barge on it during dinner. And speaking of dinner, it was great! Sneaky Pete's. Casual attire a must. If you wear a tie, they cut it off and hang it off the rafters. Trust me, the rafters are full.

Holiday Inn Express Le Claire Riverfront-Davenport
1201 Canal Shore Drive, Le Claire IA
Lincoln, NE to Le Claire, IA ~365 miles.

Day 25. Thursday, June 20th
Last day of driving. We would be in Munith by nightfall. As soon as we left the hotel we were crossing the Mississippi river and in Illinois, the land of Lincoln. Illinois was uneventful as was our very quick jaunt through Indiana and then here we were. Michigan. We hit the visitors center, which was really nice and climbed back in the car for the few more hours it would take to get Munith.

Pulling into the driveway was like coming home for me. I could hear the dogs barking, I knew Deb would be home shortly. Denise and I had driven 1,000 miles together and not killed each other, life was good.

Was so good to see Deb and to just sit and chat and just be, like it had never been six months since we had all been together, in this room, with these dogs, and cats, oh, and no hot water. The water heater had gone out at some point while we were driving. oh well. All is good.

LeClaire, IA to Munith, MI 361 miles.

Day 26. Friday, June 21st
So nice to be here in Michigan. I can not articulate how really wonderful it is for me to be here. I love the green. I love the hills. I love how laid back it is. I love Deb and Denise and Nico and Tilly and Sara-tippy and Mythos and Finnigan and all the out door cats.  I laced up my shoes and took off for my first Michigan run. My last run was Monday, at 8,000 feet in the Rockies and now here I was in the 90 degree heat with the humidity at 84%. Bring it on.

Run on Sayers to Plum
3.58 miles/40.56 minutes
TOTAL MILES TODAY: 3.58
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 28.13

Day 27. Saturday, June 22nd
So nice to wake up in Michigan . Makes my heart happy. Had a wonderful breakfast via Denise and Deb and I headed off to the lake for a morning swim at Portage Lake, where we would be swimming tomorrow for the TriGoddessTri Sprint (the mini for both of us). Deb has done this race five times in this lake and is the inspiration for me to sign up for this.

We had a fabulous swim and then returned later to pick up our registration packets (this lake is bike riding distance from their house). We are carbing up and getting to bed early. Tomorrow is the big day.

Day 28. Sunday, June 23rd
Triathlon Day.

Deb, Tiffany and Me
Such a thrill. The entire experience. My swimming felt horrendous. I started off way too fast and lost my breath and could never get it back. Rolled onto my back several times. Could not get on top of it. The bike ride was great despite the hills. The run was a challenge. I did not want to stop to catch my breath, but just had too. However, at the very end, with the finish line in sight, I heard footsteps behind me, catching me and with everything I had I pounded out that finish ahead of her.

When we all finished, Deb, Tiffany and I met up with Denise and Bess for a picnic breakfast in the park. The food was wonderful. The company was great. And I did my first Tri!

Loved it.  Great, great experience. Definitely doing this again.

Swim 14:47; rank 6
Transition to the bikes 2:17; rank 44
Bike 41:17; rank 2
Transition to the run 1:35; rank 86
Run 16:14; rank 5
Total Time: 1:16:12
Age Group: 3rd place/17 women
Overall place: 38th/124 women
Tri Goddess Tri Mini Sprint 2013 Results

My very first podium finish. 3rd place in my age division. So, so exciting.

1.27 miles/15.59 minutes (via Endomondo)

TOTAL MILES TODAY:1.27
TOTAL MILES THIS WEEK: 7.48
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 29.4 (end of week 4)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week 3: DIYS Summer 100 Challenge



Day 15. Monday, June 10th
Gym Day. Still really sore, but I need the routine. Started out with 10 minutes on the row machine nice and easy (1040 meters). Did all my arms and abs, same weights, no modifications. Then hit the pool. I really love the water. It is a treat to swim. First 10 laps, warm-up: 6:14. Then my regular 50 laps--no speed laps though. My legs are really sore. Last 10 laps, warm-down: 5:34, which is my best time yet. Not sure how that works. I feel so tired by then.... 70 laps done.

Day 16 Tuesday, June 11th
Running day. ugggg. It is such a mental challenge to run. First I have to put on all the appropriate clothes. In the summer: compression shorts, sports bra, running top. Then the shoes. And it never fails. I am fully dressed, hair up, teeth brushed and I realize I forgot to put on the compression calf sleeves. Off come the shoes, on go the sleeves, back on go the shoes..... uggg.

Took off running on my oh so sore legs. Music blasting. Great song. but then, the same great song came on again. Had to fiddle to get it to shuffle. New song. Still moving forward. New song repeats again. GRRRRRRR. Have to pull out the ipod again. It's hot. I'm frustrated. My legs hurt. Fix it, so I think. New song #3. It ends and on comes same new song #3. Fuck this. I stop in the shade. Turn off Endomondo and realize that I have the repeat button pressed. Problem solved. My total stop time, maybe 45 seconds, but man, that was the worst mile-point-something I ever ran. Managed to run 3.08mi/35:34. Slow. Pisser. First mile: 11:31. Second mile: 12:14 (hard, hot and tired). Third mile: 10:54. Last .08: 01:10. But it's done.

Came home and put the bike carrier together. This was NOT an easy feat. Step one: Open the hitch to 180 degrees. Mind you, that thing weights 50#s. For the life of me I could not get this thing open. I stepped on the one bar and pulled. I sat and yanked. I sat on it and pushed it with my feet. I stood up and held it between my feet and pulled. 20 minutes later I was in a complete sweat. So after staring at it and taking all the nuts and bolts in, it occurred to me to loosen the 4 bolts of the mechanism (directions did not say to do this). I stood up and gave it another yank and landed 20 feet behind me....

It is done now, and on the car, ready to go.

TOTAL MILES TODAY: 3.08
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 15.88

Day 17. Wednesday, June 12th
Getting ready to be gone for 5 weeks is a bit overwhelming. Thank goddess I have found an outlet in exercise. I hit the gym with a vengeance. Row machine warm-up, 10 minutes, 1220 meters. All arms and abs, no modifications. 70 laps in the pool. 1st 10 laps: 5:48. Last 10 laps: 5:29. It always surprises me that my last 10 laps are faster than my first 10. Maybe there is a purpose to warming-up?

Day 18. Thursday, June 13th
Starting to become totally overwhelmed with the tasks I need to do to leave tomorrow. Pay all bills. Clean the barn, pack the car, trust that all my animals will be taken care of. Worry a bit about Hayley. What's a girl to do? A 6-mile trail run, that's what.

I put Mohegan in the truck and turned it on to get the gate. Or rather, tried to turn it on. Truck was dead. FUCK. I did not plan on this. Took the dog out of the car, hooked up the charger, set a timer to switch the cables after 45 minutes and came in and paid the bills.

Two hours later we were off. I took off for the fire road off Spunky.  The fire road is where this all began for me in December of 2011. It is a hard dirt road. Starts off straight up a hill, then down the backside and then up, up, up for 2 1/2 miles. I start at 3403 feet and end up at 4298. This is still really hard for me. I run all the down hills (so down the backside of hill one) and push up the next mile the best I can. After than, keeping my feet in forward motion for miles 1 1/2 to 3 is the best I can do. I feel like I am huffing and puffing really loudly. But I realized today, it must not be that loud. At about 2.6 miles, Mohegan whiplashed me (she is tied around my waist). I looked up as my head was jerked forward just in time to see the biggest deer I have ever seen about 20 feet from us. She saw Mo as I saw her. Before I could even let out an ohhhhhhhh, she was off and running in the bush and Mo was determined to catch her. I let Mo pull me up the hill a bit until she realized the chase was over.

My goal today was 6 miles in 1:40 (the last time I did this trail run with Mo we did it in 1:45). As absolutely exhausted I was, we shaved off 14 minutes. So happy.

TOTAL MILES TODAY: 6.04/1:31:02
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 21.92

Day 19. Friday, June 14th
My bags are packed and I'm ready to go.....I have said my goodbyes to all of my animals and now I need to see my Maya Bug and hit the gym and then my journey to Michigan begins.

*560 miles later, Richfield, Utah

Well, I ditched the gym after spending too much time with my Maya Bug. I left Santa Clarita about 10 a.m. and headed out. Drove through Vegas, all of Nevada, through the Virgin Gorge (NW corner of Arizona]) and into Utah. Somewhere in Utah the earth turned red and then the world started to hint at green. Yay.

Blanca, my car's navigational device, became very confused in Richmond, my stop for the night. After traveling the back roads of this tiny town and finally sent in the right direction by two very young boys taking down flags from the telephone poles for the night, I found my not-so-nice hotel. Bleh. I decided to jump on my bike to wind down. Didn't go far before I realized the street I was on turned into a highway very quickly. Only made it 6.53 miles before it started to get dark. It was a good use of 30 minutes. Good night from Utah.

Day 20. Saturday, June 15th
Got up in Utah and headed to Colorado. There is some beautiful landscape in this part of Utah, specifically the Salt Wash Area. Turned off the highway to check this out. Got out of the car and was bombarded by gnats. Nasty, nasty gnats. And a lot of them. Stayed maybe 20 minutes, long enough to snap some pictures and take in the land. Really amazing stuff.

Panoramic view of the Salt Wash Area in Central Utah off Interstate 70

Colorado River, Colorado
I was eager to continue on. I had never been in Colorado (except on flight layovers) and was excited to see Denise, who was flying into Denver to drive the second thousand miles across the country with me. Driving out of Utah and into Colorado was like entering wonderland. Seeing the Rockies ahead of me and then climbing up and over them was like water to my thirsty soul. The sky was blue, the clouds were white, the river was to my right, the land was green and lush, the mountains were huge, the air was thin. I had to stop again. I had to take this in. Really, I could have just cried out of sheer admiration of her beauty. I got back in the car knowing Denise and I would be back here, somewhere, tomorrow. And so I said goodbye to the river and headed down the mountain and into Denver to meet up with Denise.
Red earth in Colorado

And then Blanca struck again and took me to the wrong hotel. Thank Goddess it wasn't too far off. Checked in, found Denise, had a great dinner and watched my first episode of Merlin on Netflix. Great day. xoxo

Richfield, UT to Denver, CO ~470 miles.

Day 21. Sunday, June 16th
So amazing to wake up in Colorado and to be with Denise. As we left Denver for Estes Park in the
Rockies everything just came together and I was totally in the moment. Everything was just so overwhelmingly beautiful. We stopped at a market and got food for the next several days and found the place we would stay. We got there before check-in so to kill some time we hiked for a bit on the Lion Gulch Trail in Estes Park--fabulous-- and returned a few hours later to check into our cabin.

Elk in the meadow
It was still early, 2p.m. so we headed out to explore these beautiful mountains and her running water. At one point we found this magnificent boulder that we climbed up to. We both laid on it for a bit, taking in the amazing air at 8,000 feet when Denise sat up suddenly and said, Elk. We both looked around, but nothing. We hiked back to the car and drove higher and higher into the Rockies. The temperature dropped from the 80's down into the 40's. It began to rain lightly and threatened to become snow. We stopped at what seemed the top of the world to get out and explore, but clad in shorts and t-shirts we were wet and freezing and headed back to the car. On the way back down to our cabin we saw cars pulled along the side of the road. I pulled a quick cross-to-the-other-side-of-the-road-and-stop maneuver only to see a small group of Elk being admired by all these people. It was stunning. The elk were very close to the road just grazing. I took a lot of pictures as were all the other tourists but wondered how many of them had just had the experience of having their friend suddenly sit up an hour earlier and say Elk?

Trust. On all parts.
Another few miles down the road there were two other cars pulled over, so of course I pull over again. Took us a minute to find them, but there they were. Four more elk in the bushes. The few people that were there were standing back at the road taking pictures. Silently we began walking towards the elk. Total trust. On all accounts. The elk noticed us and we paused, making wonderful direct eye contact with these lovely creatures. We eventually got very, very close to them. The racks on these elks heads were huge, breathtaking. We stood between the worlds with them for quite a while before we realized we were being watched, from behind, by a lot of people, not just the few who were there when we started down the hill. The energy of the other people broke the spell, and we left. Speechless.

Elk.

So how many miles towards the challenge today? None. Hiking doesn't count. But I don't care. What an amazing day.

TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 21.92 (end of week 3)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Week 2: DIYS Summer 100 Challenge











Day 8. Monday, June 3rd
My drive home. San Fran ~ 4mi from my house
Today is checkout day at school. The Powerhouse Fire is still burning. The current situation:

Total Personnel: 2,185
Size: 29,584 acres
Percent Contained: 40%
Estimated Containment Date:
Monday, June 10

San Fran is still closed, so I went down Bouquet, checked out of school in 10 minutes and hit the gym. 10 minutes on the row machine (1200 meters), full arms and abs workout and 70 laps in the pool. No running today. I am still coughing up ash.

Day 9. Tuesday, June 4th
Fire containment is at 60%. Size: 32,032 acres. However, San Fran is now open to residents only. My lungs hurt, but the sky looks clear. I put on my running clothes and then spent the next 45 minutes willing myself out the door. Managed to get 5k done. PR again. Yay! (not hard to do when one is so damn slow to begin with). 3.06mi/33:57.

TOTAL MILES TODAY: 3.06
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 6.16

Day 10. Wednesday, June 5th
No smoke. Today is all about getting my animals home. First the dogs. So glad to have them back. Decided to hit the gym before getting the horses. Wonder if that is the first time there was a truck and horse trailer in the parking lot of L.A. Fitness? Got in a great workout. 10 minutes on the row machine (1200 meters) and really powered through my arms and abs. Did 70 laps in the pool, 10 warm-up laps (5:58), then 10 with kickboard, 10 with fins, 10 with pull buoy, 10 with paddles. Every 4th and 8th lap was a speed lap. Then did 10 underwater dolphin kick laps and 10 more cool down laps (5:47). I am feeling this workout. Then headed to Simi and brought my horses home. Life is good.

Day 11. Thursday, June 6th
I really don't like running. I have never liked it. I did not ever play basketball because it involved too much running. My softball position: catcher. The only time I ran was when the bat made contact with the ball and then that was just an adrenaline rush (.700 batting ave. I made contact a lot). But I am one for commitment and hitting my goals. And running 100 miles in 99 days is one of the goals of this summer. I am not counting hiking miles. I am counting running miles.

So today, like every run, my self talk goes like this. Self: today is a running day. put running cloths on. So I decide which compression clothing to put on. I lace up my shoes. Then I sit back down. Self: GET UP. so i get my hydration pack and my cell phone and start doing dishes. Self: Walk towards the door. Open the door, close the door, turn on the music, hit GO on Endomondo. And I am off. Once that timer is going, I have to move. Once I start moving I have to keep moving because, well, Endomondo is recording this. So I ran Spunky Canyon again. Beat Tuesdays time by a few seconds and even ran a bit further: 3.12mi/33:53.

TOTAL MILES TODAY: 3.12
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 9.28

Day 12. Friday, June 7th
Rest day. Tomorrow is the Gladiator 6k Rock n Run in Irvine. http://www.gladiatorrocknrun.com/event_june_08.html
Irvine, CA. 17 obstacles, 3.5 miles. Let's DO it!

Day 13. Saturday, June 8th
I like to win. I like beating old records. Mine. I like the way it feels. I have always been this way. When I played ball I was aggressive. I attacked the ball--from behind the plate and at the plate. I still gives me a thrill. When I bowled.... the same. And riding horses. And now, OCRs.

Irvine. 7:50am. It was overcast and a bit cold. I didn't sleep well the night before. Too excited. And here I was, standing in front of the course. 8:30 heat. 2nd heat of the day, ready to go. Endomondo on. Music on. And off we went over several hundred tires. Easy. Then a stretch of land. I found my pace and played silent tag with a woman who would race ahead of me and stop to catch her breath (this went on the entire course. I just trudged at my normal slow pace). Onto the sandbag (40#s of rice actually) and through some muddy trenches. Mile 1 done: 12:37.

Mile two had the arctic plunge, telephone poles over a mud pit,  through tubes/pipes, in and out of dumpsters and over walls. Also a tire carry. Only thing hard in there were the dumpsters. 14:49 for that mile.

Then everything I can't do was in front of me. Monkey bars: 10 penalty burpees. Stump jumps: 20 penalty crunches. Rope climb (got 1/2 up twice. was so muddy and heavy, i just couldn't get it): 10 more penalty burpees. A 310 foot trench of mud that I couldn't get out of. Saw a guy who couldn't get out either and held his foot so he could push against me. He turned around and gave me his hand. We both got out. The cargo net: easy. Love those. Then the highest, muddiest, steepest slanted wall I have ever seen.

This wall about killed me. I got halfway up and fell face first into it and slid down. Shook myself off and reassessed the wall. Lean back, feet under you...... I tried again. Same results. I stood there fully defeated when two marines appeared at the top. They called to me, "you can do it!" I called back: "no, I can't. I am going around and take the penalty burpees." They would not give in. So I faced the wall, grabbed the rope and stepped on a nearby rope for traction. Got halfway up and could not move either my hands or feet. The guy on my right was saying, "give me your hand," but I just couldn't let go. The guy on the left was saying, "you got this." I willed my hand off the rope and up and before I could think I felt his solid hand around my arm. CONTACT!!!! Now the other guy was telling me to let go of the rope and he reach for him. I gotta tell you, I have walked up the last three slant walls like I owned them and this was not like that at all. I was starting to slip back and I didn't know if the guy on the right was going to be able to hold on to me if I lost my footing completely. I thrust my left arm out and wham! the other guy had my arm. Now I would love to say they pulled me up and over, but it wasn't exactly like that. They were pulling and I was grabbing..... their shorts, their legs, the top of the wall. When I made it over I felt exhilarated. No other word for it. EXHILARATED.

After that, the fire was nothing.

Total time: 1:02:28.8. AG: 5/68. Overall: 358/3063. I am THRILLED. Total distance: 3.52mi.

TOTAL MILES TODAY: 3.52
TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 12.8

Day 14. Sunday, June 9th
REST DAY. I am bruised and battered. Cleaning the house and getting ready for my road trip.

TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 12.8 (end of week 2)


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Week 1 of the Dirt In Your Skirt Summer 100 Challenge



Monday, May 27, 2013 -

Monday, September 2, 2013

http://www.dirtinyourskirt.com







I decided to take on this challenge after carefully considering whether or not I could even complete it. I am like that...... I have to figure things out.  I pulled out the calculator and added up the days of the challenge--99 days. Hum, I can do this. And so it begins.

California Poppies
Day 1. Monday, May 27th
Yeah, I already fucked this up.  I did a 6 mile trail run yesterday that doesn't count. Today I rode a very brutal 35 miles on my bike, in the wind.

Day 2. Tuesday, May 28th
Hit the gym today on this last "teaching" day of the 2012-2013 school year. Oh yes! I did a 10 minute warm-up on the row machine (1100 meters) and my full arms and abs work out. I swam 50 laps in the pool (1250 meters). I am whipped. No miles towards the challenge today either.

Day 3. Wednesday, May 29th
REST DAY. Been going strong for the last five days straight. Had to do a fasting blood test anyway at 7 A.M. First day of finals. Still no miles towards the challenge.  Not off to a very good start.

Day 4. Thursday, May 30th
Issuing finals, day two. Also graduation night. So between the two I hit the gym. 10 minute warm-up on the row machine (1120 meters), full arms and abs workout, and 70 laps in the pool (1750 meters, just over a mile). I had never been to the gym at 2pm on a Thursday and I never will again. It was full of people. UGGGGGG. Had to wait for just about every machine and the pool was two to a lane. Yeah, never again.

Thursday night, dropping into Green Valley
Left the gym at 4:30 to head for food and then graduation but noticed 15 missed calls. Long story short, Green Valley was on fire. One of my worst fears. I looked towards the north and my heart sank as a huge plume of smoke was coming from my mountain. I made a few calls and headed home. Needless to say, no miles towards the challenge today either.

Day 5. Friday, May 31st
Last day of school. Long night of not-so-good sleep. We had mandatory evacuations which weren't really enforced. They lifted it two hours later. I did get the dogs off the property and hooked up the truck and trailer. We never did catch all four cats.  Another day of no miles towards this challenge. This is not going as planned.

At the end of the run. Smoke in the sky.
Day 6. Saturday, June 1st
Fire is up to 3500+ acres. However, it is moving with the wind--southwest, away from Green Valley. I put on my running clothes and my compression calf guards, grabbed my hydration belt and iphone. Before I could really think, I turned on Endomondo and my music and my feet started hitting the pavement. I ran southeast, away from the fire. The sky was blue. It was already hot, 88 degrees at 10:15. I told myself if my lungs started hurting, or the heat got to me I could turn around and go home. But as my blood started pumping and my legs started moving I stopped thinking and kept running. At a mile and a half I turned around. Now running northwest, I could see the plume of smoke if I lifted my chin. I just kept my head down and kept moving. It paid off. My fastest 5k yet--34:58. All three miles under the twelve-minute mark. I am so happy.

TOTAL MILES: 3.1

Day 7. Sunday, June 2nd
The fire exploded yesterday and grew from 5500+ acres to 19,500+ acres (~30 square miles). I had to unload 15 bales of hay (1500 lbs) out of the bed of my truck so I could hook up my trailer and haul my horses off the mountain. I am back up here now, just me and the cats, ready to leave if the fire crests either of the two mountains currently between us and the active fire. They are saying containment of the fire will not happen before a week from tomorrow.

Needless to say, the air quality is terrible.

The fire as of Sunday morning, June 2nd. The crosshair is the location of my house.


TOTAL MILES TOWARDS THE CHALLENGE: 3.1 







Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Turning 50




“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”

~ Helen Keller


I turned fifty this week. And shifts in who I am, what I am able to tolerate, what I want in my life, what I don't just seem to get more and more clear. I am ok with it. Actually, I am great with it.

Many years ago I was wanting to "date."  I met a woman on line, we IM'd back and forth, sent emails and eventually I gave her my number.  We talked several times and decided to meet face-to-face.  I don't even remember if we actually ever went on a "date." But after spending time with her a few different times, I decided I didn't want to pursue a relationship with her.  I was at a total loss as to how to end this. A friend of mine said to me, Leigh! This is what dating is all about. To see if you even want to continue. But I felt guilty and terrible about this. I rehearsed over and over again my words. I wrote emails and deleted them, and in the mean time I avoided her IMs and phone calls. Days went by and I finally had to say something. I don't remember my words, but she was hurt and angry and I felt like shit. For a day or two. Best thing I ever did. I really need to learn to generalize this.

Usually I put my feelings aside or ignore them. I do this all the time. I tend to put up with way more than I am comfortable with and then start resenting the person or situation for what it is. I have learned to speak up better. It helps to not feel so walked on. But when the situation continues, I need to figure out how to shift it. Shift so often for me means end. And some endings are really a relief. But there are others that just boggle my mind.  Like really?

The last seven years have kicked my ass in so many ways. So many. But nothing compares to losing Taylor. My focus has so narrowed.  Life is too long to have optional things be hard.

Many people comment on how well I am doing. They see me posting about going to the gym, biking 30 miles, hiking 12, bla bla bla.  Yep, I do all those things. They give me great pleasure although I am fully aware that what I am trying to do it build a strong ass body to protect my so vulnerable spirit. But I also like the challenges. Can I hike farther? Can I swim faster? Can I climb the rope higher? I have always been like that.

Two things seem to be wanting to challenge me here. My elbow and my lungs.

My elbow hurts all the time.  Specifically my left one. My doctor first called it "tennis elbow" but
when I googled that I came across "golfers elbow." Now having never played tennis or golfed, I find this really amusing. However, I am pretty sure I have golfer's elbow.  It is the inside that is killing me. I start physical therapy, uh........... in a week or two? I should probably look that up, lol. In any case, I am seeking help to help heal this while still working out.  I am not willing to stop. I hope I can get a PT that understands and can help me and not just say ice, ibprofin and rest. The rest part is not going to happen.  Too much idle time means too much time to think, and thinking is too painful. Such a cycle.
My mom. She is 20 here.


As for the lungs, I am so not thrilled about this new turn of events. Back in 2007, after being sick with sinus infections and bronchitis almost continuously for 6 months, I ended up with a pulmonary specialist. He put me on three different steroids, a controlled antibiotic I had never heard of and a prescription for chantix to stop smoking. He said if i was not getting better in 48 hours I would have to be hospitalized. I did respond to the meds. He also did an MRI of my lungs and sinuses and a breathing test inside a booth. His conclusion was that he was stopping just short of diagnosing me with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). That was a wake up call as my mother, after smoking her entire life and was never very active, had been  diagnosed with that and it was ugly.

I did stop smoking on April 4, 2007. My health slowly improved. Slowly. It was months before I could walk to the barn and not get winded. It was months before I fully stopped coughing.

My sinuses and lungs remain my achilles heel.

Fast forward to 2013.

I ran the Urban Warrior Dash in San Diego in early March. I had a great time, was really, really happy with my time, felt really strong, did all the obstacles and coughed/choked/hacked a lung up the entire drive home (over three hours). I walked in the door with my medal grinning from ear to ear, held up my medal and squeaked out, "look what I got." Everyone looked at me and said,  "what happened to you?"

Days later I ended up at my doctors office. The nurse practitioner that I saw told me this was a classic case of EIA (exercise induced asthma). WHAT? I have never been diagnosed with that before. I don't have asthma.  She instructed me on how to use an inhaler and told me I would be fine.

I coughed for 3 weeks. It was not pretty.

Two Sundays ago I ran a 10k--the Merrell Down & Dirty. I felt great. Euphoric. I did all of the obstacles with no help and ran my fastest time. When the race was over, I coughed a few times and hit the inhaler as soon as I got back to the car.
Down & Dirty. Note: band on my left elbow.
The coughing started slowly this time. By day five post race, I was flat out annoyed. By day six, my throat started to itch and I began losing my voice. Here I sit, day 10, waiting to see a doctor. My lungs hurt, my ears hurt, my head hurts and this cough is something else.  I cough until I choke and then I cough some more.

And now, my mom is dead. Probable cause of death: COPD.

Shit.









Sunday, March 31, 2013

Music




Music has shaped my life.  
It has saved me. 
It carries me away. 
It brings me back. 
It touches my heart and soul. 
Deeply. 


I had a record player as a young child. It played 45's with the yellow plastic insert. It also played 78's and of course the standard 33 1/2 albums. Kids these days would have no idea what I am talking about. I still have all my childhood records, including my 45's and one 78. I spent hours listening to music.  It made me happy when not a whole lot did. 

My first favorite song that was not a kids song was Black Water from the Doobie Brothers. I heard this on the bus radio going to Girl Scout camp. The driver hadn't turned the radio from KMET to KISS FM yet. This song took me somewhere. Somewhere I had never been before. Sitting on that bus, getting ready to go to my favorite place of all time (Skyland Ranch, in the mountains above Banning, CA) listening to oh black water, keep on rolling..... Mississippi moon won'tcha keep on shining on me...... still takes me to that bus, to temporary heaven, to a place I still love today.

My teenage years brought me Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, Van Halen, Queen. The list goes on. Life was all about sex, drugs, rock n' roll. My friends were guys. We got high, drank beer, played guitars and played dungeons and dragons--in that order. I slept with none of them. The radio was always on. When I was alone, it was still all about getting high, drinking beer and listening to music.  Like most people, when I hear an old song it brings back powerful memories. Like exactly when, where and what I was doing when I first heard the song, which is often related to a person and/or event.

My late teen's, early 20's were all about drugs, rock n' roll and my first true love. It is very hard for me to separate the three. They were so intertwined and so interconnected.  These memories and searching for the words to articulate this time send me into an instant anxiety attack. My sinuses start to burn, my lungs hurt, my heart aches, my head spins and yet, these years most profoundly shaped the person I am today. Loverboy, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Mowtown, Bob Seger, boom boxes, MTV, short skirts, big hair, long nails, long coke binges, white russians, brandy, quaaludes, valium, pot, Chook, the Wild Heart............ so much, too much. And always music.

January 1985 I got clean, my life changed dramatically, but the music played on. Records had been replaced by casette's (I never owned an 8-track player or even had an 8-track) and CD's were just around the corner.  I continued to listen to rock 'n roll. It wasn't considered "classic" yet. I dealt with the memories they evoked as it mostly brought me great comfort. 

June 1989 Taylor was born and with that came new music. Dan Crow. Joe Scruggs. Basically, kids music. But good kids music. The girls both got toddler cassette players before they were two. We all sang. At some point the girls started listening to their own music. The Backstreet Boys, Brittany Spears, Kelly Clarkson and I suddenly felt old. I didn't much like "their" music and tried to get them to like mine.  The best we ever got was a few years between 1995-2000 when they would listen to the Judds or Wynonna and some Fleetwood Mac with me.  The music wars began for us. It became a battle over the radio in the car. It was really bad by 2005. Taylor was 16, Hayley was 14 and I just felt old. There was no middle ground.  I don't know how it happened, but I became the adult who hated the music of teens. All I can say is thank goddess for cd players with headphones which led to iPods. They saved us from killing each other.

January 1, 2010 the music stopped for me. Literally. Taylor was dead. My heart was broken. My soul shattered. I could barely breathe. There are no words.

My mind screamed and screamed and screamed. I could handle NO external stimulation. I craved silence.

Silence.

Music was agony.

There was no memory worth having.

I did not want to be here.

this went on for years.

Summer of 2012 and I have barely, barely begun to listen to music again. Barely. I am driving Denise's car, we are talking and she says, oh, push that button, I love that song.  I don't know what she is talking about. She is trying to reach over me as I am driving to show me how to work this box called Sirus (I think that's what it is). She turns up the volume and starts bebopping (not sure if she was singing). I was kind of in shock. It has really been that long since I had listened to anything and music certainly did not bring me pleasure as clearly it was bringing her. The song ended, the music was turned back down and that was that. Thank Goddess.

Until a few days later. 

We are now about to build her a pergola. Her son comes over to help and sets up his i-something or other with speakers and tells us he has some great music for us. I prepare for the, oh-my-goddess-i-am-going-to-have-to-listen-to-music moment. And Jeff hits play. And I am safe. I don't crumble. There are new songs I have never heard and old music I love. And we are good. I mean, I am good. It is hot, we are building, I am with people I love and I am safe. I am ok. AND I AM LISTENING TO MUSIC. Oh My Gawd. I am listening to music and I am ok.

Denise, Deb and Jeff, you brought me back to music.

I left Michigan with two new songs: Pumped Up Kicks and Somebody I Used to Love.

I came home singing.

And sometimes it makes me cry.

But all-in-all, it is so good to have music back in my life. And now I have an iPod (thank you Jennifer) with 21 songs on that I blast to hike, run, lift weights and clean the house with. I even have some "new music" on it.

I still like my music loud.  I still like the bass. I love music that makes you move--your feet, your legs, your shoulders, your head, your heart.

xoxoxoxoxxo

P.S. These post that I post "publicly" are hopefully interactive. I would love your thoughts on music, good songs, and why.....


(my current "gym" playlist)
Born this Way (Lady Gaga, 2011) love her.
Can you Feel It (Michael Jackson, 1981) this song makes me want to march
Cars (Gary Numan, 1979) summer 1980 working at Knotts Berry Farm
Couldn't Get it Right (Climax Blues Band, 1977) Reminds me of the summer I was 14
I Feel Lucky (Mary Chapin Carpenter, 1992) reminds me of the summer of 1995
Jaime's Crying (Van Halen, 1978) high school. love this song.
Losing My Religion (R.E.M, 1991) reminds me of Diana
Mambo No. 5 (Lou Bega, 1999) reminds me of Taylor and gymnastics
Man in the Mirror (Michael Jackson, 1988) always inspires me
Pumped Up Kicks (Foster the People, 2012) Michigan. Summer of 2012
Rolling in the Deep (Adele, 2011) first saw this performed by Angie Johnson. Love Angie
Rumor Has It (Adele, 2011) great song
Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd, 1982) the Wall. great album. just out of high school
Running with the Devil (Van Halen, 1978) high school
Set Fire to the Rain (Adele, 2011) another great song
Somebody I Used to Know (Gotye) Michigan. Summer of 2012
Sweet Dreams (Eurythemics, 1983). cutting hair. Chook
That Don't Impress Me Much (Shania Twain, 1997) love her.
Tusk (Fleetwood Mac, 1979) reminds me I need to add The Chain.
West End Girls (Pet Shop Boys, 1984) cutting hair. Chook
Winds of Change (Jefferson Starship, 1982)
You got your life planned carefully
But you left out one detail
The hidden hand deals just one round
And the winds of change prevail


Added today:
What I Like About You (The Romantics, 1978) gotta jump up and down with this song
Joy to the World  (Three Dog Night, 1971) reminds me of Wendy
Dog Days Are Over (Florence + The Machine, 2008) makes me think of Denise
The Chain (Fleetwood Mac, 1977, but this version is 1997 live) all time fav FM song
Hotel California (Eagles, 1976, but this version is 1994 live) makes me think of Stevie
You Spin Me Right Round (Dead or Alive, 1985) reminds me of cutting hair
I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) (The Proclaimers, 1988) Diana





Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hiking


Many people comment on how well I am doing. They see me posting about going to the gym, biking 30 miles, hiking 12, swimming, obstacle course racing, bla bla bla. Yep, I am doing all those things. However, I am also fully aware that what I am trying to do is build a strong physical body to protect my vulnerable mind and so broken heart.

It started out all so simply. A friend was hiking pretty regularly after work. She was coming from a place of wanting to be active and to keep weight off. I could have cared less about my weight. Having always been very thin my entire life, weighing 158 should have concerned me, but it did not. In fact, when it came to me, myself and I, I cared not at all.

Gracie, 2-years-old
That said, one day I decided to take a walk--with my baby horse. She was overly attached to Nikki. She had turned two a few months earlier and I really needed to get working with her. So I haltered her up and decided to take a stroll with her off the property. 100 yards later, just out of eyesight of Nikki, she freaked out and started screaming for her. Nikki promptly nickered back. I turned the corner to continue on with her and she started back to the barn, not the direction I was taking her. Let's just fast forward. A few corners later she threw a complete tantrum and bit me in the arm. Without thinking, I kicked her in the ass hipbone and broke my ankle. Three weeks out of work and 10 pounds heavier, again, I didn't care.

late September 2011

A few months later, Denise, who I hadn't seen since Taylor died came to stay with me for a few days.  While she was here she asked when was the last time I had walked the dogs? pfffffft. Really? She commented about how sad they looked and we should take them for a walk. Now living in the national forest, walking is beautiful, in fact, everything here is beautiful. But since Taylor had died, I saw beauty no where.  It just ceased to exist. On that walk, Denise kept pointing out the faces in the oak trees and pretty wild flowers here and there, how happy the dogs were, and on and on. I felt like a zombie just nodding my head. When she left a few days later she asked me to please promise her to take the dogs on more walks. I very hesitantly mumbled ok. 

So I started walking. First, up and down the street. But I got sick of the cars and the dogs tripping me on the leashes and other people's dogs running loose and charging us and waving back to people who waived to me. So I took off for the hills.

The first "hike" was up a hill (huff and puff, huff and puff), down that hill and onward. I let the dogs off their leashes and they sniffed and ran and came back over and over again. I walked 20 minutes and then turned around and came back.  I could not make it up the back of the first hill without stopping.  I was so completely winded I had to stop several times to catch my breath.

I kept at that hill. After a few hikes under my belt, I was determined that I would NOT stop on the way back up that hill, no matter what.  It was sheer determination that got me to the top that day. It wasn't pretty, but I did not stop. And for the first time since Taylor died I felt that I had actually accomplished something (insert theme song from Rocky: trying hard now, getting strong now....). I have never stopped on that particular hill since that day. No matter how tired I am, I push up that fucking hill.

And that is how it all started.

And something else happened. I started to notice that the birds sang sometimes. And when it snowed a few weeks later, I remembered that I really liked snow. And when it rained, I remembered how lovely running water and streams sounded. By spring I had the smell of sage, and wild lavender. And I started to reconnect to the place that I had always found comforting -- the mountains.

Gotta love me some Denise.

NOTE: Denise told me later that she laid that whole "the dogs look so sad" comment on me to get me out of the house and interacting with something. She also knew the endorphines wouldn't hurt me any either. Sly woman, that Denise. She also brought me back to goddess. But that is a different post.