Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Spring Arrives 2021

Author's note: I should have posted about my Relay / First Day of Spring / Birthday run the weekend of the run. But I didn't. Then Monday happened: the mass shooting at our neighborhood King Soopers just a few blocks from our home, 10 people killed, an entire community devastated. Afterward, posting about my run seemed so inappropriate. But as I tried to work through my numbness from Monday's shooting, I realized how important it is for good to overcome evil, for light to shine through the shadows, and for moments of joy to peek through the curtain of sorrow. Thus I post about what was a very joyful first day of spring.

As noted in an earlier post, I had registered for CU's Relay for Life with the intention of running a COVID-safe solo "relay" on the first day of spring, circling a field near our house 16 times, once for each skin cancer surgery I have had. A two-foot snow storm earlier in the week left mounds of snow, ice, ice water, and mud on the path I had planned to run. Thus I concocted a Plan B and laid out a loop of just about the same distance right next door to the field I had planned to run on. I figured I would run the first loop around the field, 14 loops on the neighborhood loop, and the final loop around the field. In the end, that's just about what I did except I went onto the field path for the 12th loop just for grins.

The big surprise of the day was the appearance of several of my running buddies, joining in as the run progressed. And Paul, Barley, Kendall and Taz were on hand for many of the loops as well. This was the first time I had run with a "gang" since the pandemic started. What a treat! And I am pleased to say that my Relay efforts raised over $3000 for the American Cancer Society!  This was a very good day - a beautiful morning and a very joyful run. Let's let the pictures tell the story:

Taz is thrilled - he's running with Randall and toward Amie
two of his most favorite people on the planet!

Ready to head out for the run
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More buddies arrive during the morning - left to right:
Paul/Barley, Connie (you can tell by the shorts), me/Taz, Amie & Anita

 

The Paul & Kendall cheering section!
Can you believe it?! Kendall even brought pom poms!

Had to get a picture of running buddies on the trail loop - it's such a beautiful venue.
 

The obligatory selfie (left to right: me, Amie, Anita, Connie)
 
Finishing lap number 16!

All done! Time to celebrate!
 

Post-run treats! Thank you all for such a successful and joyful Relay, First Day of Spring, and Birthday!


Post-run back at the house, Kendall and Paul continued the birthday-portion of the celebration:

Kendall presents the cake (spice cake with peanut butter frosting
- just like my mom used to make for me!)














Kendall's gift to me: a puzzle using a photo of me and running buddies!
What a delightful surprise!!!

Our post-birthday-lunch walk and family selfie.


Thank you all for being a part of my life.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

New Quest - Worthy Cause

 

On several occasions in the past, I have participated in American Cancer Society's Relay for Life - a fundraising event held all across the country to raise money for cancer research and for support services for cancer patients and caregivers. My original impetus for joining a Relay team was a friend's breast cancer diagnosis which happened right when I first heard about Relay. This diagnosis was just the most recent encounter (at that time) with the ravages of cancer. Kendall's mom died of breast cancer two days after Kendall and I found out we were pregnant with our first child. The smile on her face and her reaching out to hug Kendall from her hospital bed when he told her the news was the last time we saw her conscious. Yes, cancer hits home.

Kendall and his mom (Barbara Miller) at our wedding


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Since my first Relay as a team member, I have captained and co-captained Relay teams - each one a unique and powerful experience. Typically, Relay is a grand and boisterous event held at a running track. Lots of teams, tents, food, music, activities - and throngs of people all supporting the worthy cause of fighting cancer. 


It starts with a Survivors' walk circling once around the track then team members start their laps. 


 

 

 

 

 

 

For me, the most powerful moment is when the luminaria, dedicated in honor of or in memory of individuals, are lit and their names are read. So many luminaria, each snuggled right up to the next, all the way around the track...so many people affected by cancer. For one of my Relays, each member of Kendall's family (his siblings and their children and grandchildren) decorated luminaria in memory of his mom.


 

 





This year, I once again decided to participate in Relay for Life. Losing two friends to cancer in January and enduring my 16th skin cancer surgery in February got me rolling again with Relay. I officially registered with the University of Colorado Relay for Life event scheduled to be held in April. However, because of COVID, I will be "relaying" on the first day of Spring (new life! new hope!) as a socially distanced one-person team. I had originally planned to run 16 laps around Taz's YaYa loop (see my blog post from February 9th) - one lap for each surgery. However! We got a couple feet of heavy wet snow a few days ago and the conditions of that loop currently range from barely runnable to unrunnable due to packed snow, ice, ice water, and mud (very slippery mud I might add - I was just out there today - yikes!). I now have a plan B which is to do one lap around YaYa to check on current conditions and if not vastly improved, move to a nearby loop on neighborhood streets. (YaYa is a 0.9 mile loop; the neighborhood street loop is 0.85 - close enough.) It will be a different sort of Relay - but the cause remains oh-so-worthy.

If you would like to donate to Relay for Life, my fundraising page is:
http://main.acsevents.org/goto/pjvrelay

Sunrise at 2016 Relay for Life ... the challenge continues ...




 


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Mystical morning

 'Tis Wednesday! Hill day! And above zero degrees - right around 20 as a matter of fact - plenty warm enough to be not-cold after enough hill repeats! It was also a low-clouds day adding to the wintry aura of the morning. An enjoyable enough aura that after having done a bunch of 90" up/30" down repeats and a run to the top, we decided to throw in a bonus 2 minute uphill just for fun. Was it really the mystical wintry aura at work or plain old pandemic cabin fever? Who's to say - but it was a dandy day to be out there.

At the top: Waldo marches on beneath the Flatirons






On the way down. Foothills amidst the clouds





 

 




The NCAR campus just peaking out ahead of the clouds atop the mesa

PJV trotting downhill happy to be out & about
on this mystical wintry day











Thursday, February 11, 2021

Brisk!

We are in the midst of a bit of a chilly spell - "teens" in Fahrenheit on our hill day. "Hills" for Connie and me usually involves running up and down the number streets in a nearby neighborhood, but with the light snow and thick fog on this brisk morning, we opted for repeats on Boomerang. It turned out to be a rather beautiful morning to be cruising the hill - and punctuated with a bit of excitement toward the end!
 
Up up up we went on Boomerang, arrived at the top .... and the town of Boulder had disappeared!
 

Along the mountain top, we were awestruck by the pines glistening with their coats of icy dew.


 
 
As we descended, we discovered another critter investigating the foggy, snowy environs: a rather fine looking coyote, deserving of a photo. To our dismay, it seemed to become quite interested in us as we trotted further down the hill.  'Twas no time for photos of that shadowing activity - we skedaddled!  A very brisk pace on a very brisk day!
 

 

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

The Land Of CrankyHip


So I have this arthritic hip - and in the "before times" I would go to PT regularly to keep the hip happy. With COVID, my PT visits have stopped, but I have been good about strengthening and mobility exercises through my zoom exercise class. However, the hip seems to be stepping up its crankiness game - particularly if I put a lot of miles in on hard surfaces or if I do a chunk of downhill running. And downhill running I did do this past weekend towards the end of my trail run where the last 3+ miles were predominantly downhill. The hip made sure I knew it was not happy. When that happens I turn to what I now think of as my therapy loop - a .9 mile dirt loop located a mere 6-minute run from my house. We usually refer to this as the YaYa loop because that's where we take our dogs (Jester in years past, now Taz) to get their YaYa's out. Now-a-days, though, I go there with or without dog and go round and round and round for however much time I have on the days I want miles but don't want to aggravate my hip. It's not a usual mode of operation for me since I generally try to pick new and unusual or scenic or entertaining routes to run. But ya gotta do what ya gotta do if living in the Land of CrankyHip.  And the loop does have its pluses. Let's go on a tour! From today's run, 11 degrees out, light snow, light fog...

When I first arrive at the property, I typically head south, going counterclockwise on the loop. This first stretch parallels the highway so is the noisiest. But! this field to the left/east of the trail is the field where I've had the most wildlife sightings: deer (including a pair of bucks that visited frequently last summer/fall), foxes, coyotes, rabbits, hawks, and geese.

 
Curving around east then north typically puts you into the wind if there is any wind and into some shade thus dropping the temperature - so it's where one battens down the hatches of jackets and hats and such. This is also where Taz has had most of his rabbit sightings and chases.

Also along this stretch are several old apple trees. This photo is of my most favorite apple tree in Boulder. It produces rather small but exquisitely crisp and tart apples. An excellent snack stop if I'm passing by on my way home from a long autumn run.

The north-bound stretch is actually in two sections. This second section goes by an obstacle/training course the university built. When it's in use, it makes for an entertaining diversion for passers-by. But the most entertainment it's ever offered when I was running past was when a fox had the obstacle course all to itself and was frolicking around in amongst the obstacles. Those foxes sure know how to keep themselves amused.

Turning west takes one past a community garden. It lies fallow now, but is a feast for the eyes through the spring, summer, and fall months. Everything from greens to cauliflower to corn to flowers and so much more is grown there.
 
 
Another westerly turn and another field where I have spotted foxes, including a fox family with very rambunctious kits.
 
 
And that leads us to the woods and water portion of the run - and often times mud but what's a little mud when you've got woods and water, eh?!



Now frozen, but this is the spot where Linda's dog Farley
 taught Taz pup to actually get into a creek
 









 

 

 I have managed a total of 10 consecutive circuits around this lovely therapy loop before tiring of the routine and I imagine there will be many more multi-circuit therapy runs in my future. Old YaYa has certainly proven to be a bodacious tool to have in my Cranky Hip tool kit!

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Exercise Zoom

We have been very lucky to have an exercise teacher who became quite antsy after all indoor classes were cancelled last spring and, to subdue her antsy-ness, started offering her exercise class 5 days per week via zoom. Being a decades-long runner who has done very little else for fitness, every non-leg part of my body has been extremely grateful for this exercise class. And it turns out Mister Taz is also quite interested in the class!
 
Some days he is a bit slow to get enthused, but keeps a sharp eye out to make sure I'm setting everything up properly.

On many an occasion, he wants to show me just how to perform the exercise. For example:
 
A side plank demo:
 
 
Or carefully studying my form to make sure I'm really squeezing when we're working with a "squeezy thing":

Or dropping to a proper sit when he hears J announce a four-minute wall sit:
 


Then again, sometimes he wants to help with that wall sit:

And there are those Very Exciting exercises - like when I'm doing jumping jacks and he is begging to join in.
 
 
On extra special days he decides I must have a bath now when I jump into the exercise class straight from a run.

 

Then there are days like today. He was fresh off an hour-long leash-free romp with Paul's much younger pup, Barley, and I was fresh off a 10-mile hill and trail run. He picked his form of exercise and I had to work hard to convince myself to stick with the class rather than join him in his style of High Intensity Interval Training.  He's such a smart dog.