Back in the US of A....

Goodbye snow...hello sunshine!  Yes, the sunrise is visible from Florida's Gulf coast....when on an island!  :-)

Joshua Amos Pete - A Life Remembered

I didn't know him, but his story is one of many that hits home in many ways....

The Coconino High School grad and decorated Army veteran touched many lives in Flagstaff and abroad.    He was an honor student. He was a soldier who served his country in Afghanistan. He was beloved by his family and friends and will be deeply missed.

Nope, it is NOT just like riding a bike...

...apparently you CAN forget how!

Despite that my knee still hurts and it's excrutiating to walk down even ONE flight of stairs, I ventured out this morning in a big wooded park here in the Balkans to see if I could handle running/jogging for 15 minutes (uphill and flats only; no downhills).  I'm sure I'm not helping other parts by landing more on the balls of my feet rather than center like I normally do, but I found that using my ankles as suspension too takes the full load off of my knees. 

It was sunny and reggaeton was on the ipod and I guess I got carried away...I made it about 20 minutes before I realized I'd run longer than I'd planned/expected.  Yes, it hurt, but really no less nor more than it has for the past 3 months.  (The problem though lies in the fact that I'm probably causing more long-term damage than simply "toughing it out".)

I decided to make it an even 30 minutes, enjoying my first "runners high" in about 3 months, then WHAM, I tripped and flew through the air and, once again, looked like I was sliding into 1st base.  Faaaaar less grace than a burly Pete Rose!

Sticks in my flesh, blood on the autumn leaves, and egg all over my face.  hought #1 - how's the knee?  Thought #2 - please dont let the wild dogs eat me alive (like they claim to do here).  Thought #3 - get up and go before you cry like a big baby!  (I dont think anyone saw the launch, & though it hurt, it was actually pretty funny.) 

I can't believe I was running so many miles just a few months ago, and was actually getting pretty fast.  Until then, I'd been sorta like a sturdy goat...good balance, sturdy limbs, very sturdy ankles...I sure wasn't THAT girl today.  I knew it was time to go home because due to the new pains in my elbow, hand, hip, I totally did NOT feel my bum knee.  I didn't want the "pain-masking" to make me do something stupid like run another 20 miles. :-)   So, I came back and am now icing my knee and letting the neosporin seep into my booboos.


Happy Thankgiving...

Though I'm not getting to eat turkey with the family this Thanksgiving, nor indulge on my grandmother's/aunt's tasty pumpkin pies, I am sooooooo thankful that I have such a great family.  We're scattered all over the place but somehow stay pretty darn close.  And how lucky we grandkids are because we have grandparents who are totally internet-savvy and stay in touch via email!  (Technically, they are great-grandparents!!)  Very cool!

Anyway, have a great day...and take a second to be grateful for the perks in life.


(pic courtesy of someone else)

Bikes keep the (my) world going 'round...


I scored a bike!  Took me only 4 days.  It's a tad big and burly and not really my style...but it's temporary and takes me on some cool (cold actually) singletrack!   It even took me up a pretty big Balkan mountain already!  It also helps me not to be so homesick :-)   (I'll be home soon, Mr. S-Works!)

Properly Introducing "Donkey"....

It seems I didn't properly introduce my lil dirtbike previously, so I thought I'd do it now...

While he likes to look all harmless and mopey most of the time, especially when he's parked beside his big brother (the graceful and sturdy stud), he tends to be quite ornery and show his butt when I'm on him. Like a donkey, he bucks and brays and kicks and farts and generally either wants to go at full RPM and/or buck me off (often all at once).

He reminds me of this lil donkey from North Africa who wanted attention and would follow me around, but then when I'd try to pet him, he'd try to bite me and would take off bucking and braying and fartin' and making all sorts of racket!  Looked all innocent until ya get to close!  (Note the comparison of my Donkey and this lil arse.)

His latest exploit was earlier this week when we took the bikes out to the western Sycamore Canyon area where we were minimally packed to ride, hike, explore and camp. The first 30'ish miles were on primary paved roads, with the first 20m of those being on a smooth highway through the desert/red rocks but where Donkey couldn't quite go as fast as the max speed limit as he's pretty much a midget.  

Once out of the old mining town of Jerome, the rest of the roads (50'ish miles) were on dirt -- wide fireroads, doubletrack jeep roads, as well as some ol mule-packing trails.

(Sorry about the quality, most were w/the phone camera.)

So, for our little excursion, ol Donkey (he demands I capitalize his name) was fun and relatively well-behaved most of the time.  However, apparently he had some flashbacks to his former ass-life on the rougher stuff, because he simply refused to take me up a few rough pitches. While I'm pretty comfortable ascending/descending the rock stairs, slickrock, loose gravel, deep sand, etc., apparently I have not yet mastered the steep pitches which have 10" of loose dust/sand and big babyhead rocks and giant unsettled boulders scattered intermittently below the surface.  That, and Donkey simply doesn't want to take me up them.

So, by the end, I'd crashed twice out near the Great Western Trail. Neither were catastrouphic; in fact it was more like we were  'rrvv  rrvv' up the loose and rocky pitch, slammed into a jagged boulder, I put my foot down (forgot it wasn't my 21lb mountain bike to catch, and subsequently all 200+ pounds fell on top of me...all atop a bunch of jagged rocks and CB watching the whole ordeal. Cheap entertainment!  Five minutes later was a redux basically, with Donkey still being stubborn and me being kinda gun-shy at that point.   CB hauled Donkey's fiesty arse up the pitch where he got 'tied up' beside his big brother while we decided to hike from there.

(No, that is not my knee or calf; it's the goose-egg that was growing at top speeds on my shin about 15 mins after the 'crash'.)

So, Donkey and I are still getting to know each other, and while he's genuinely a pain in the arse at times, I think I kinda like him. :-)

On A Leash...

I never considered myself a runner.

Until… I hurt my knee.

Until…yesterday, when the surgeon told me that surgery isn’t really applicable to my type of knee injury at this point (busted up/missing cartilage) and that I should find a new “hobby”.  So, his news caused my heart to stop and my eyes to well-up. (I never said I was tough.)  When he added “I suggest you forget about running and take up competitive cycling or the eliptical”, my soul died a little.  Did he realize he just kicked me in the gut, my soul?!

Running’s not a mere hobby to me. I don’t live for 5Ks, rather, I live for running around and PLAYING outside, chasing jackrabbits, tracking coyotes, chasing my shadow, exploring mountains, exploring deserts, bugging my boyfriend (c’mon let’s go play AGAIN!),… You get the drift.

So, what did the doc say?  No more running for a while – and to not even try for another 5-7 months (already 2 mos down).

What do I do when I’m stressed?    I run.  I play.
What do I do when I’m bored?    I run.  I play.
What do I do on beautiful sunny days?    I run.  I play.

 I’m now stressed.
 I’m now bored.
 I live in beautiful northern Arizona surrounded by red rocks, forested mountains, vistas forever and miles of trails.

I will run again.  Period.
(And in the interim, there shall be lots of time on/in the dirtbike, kayak, roadbike (urgh), pool, 4x4,. etc.)


well, despite my allowing the knee to 'rest', it's no better. in fact, via my personal version of 'rest', it looks like I've made it worse and am under some pretty strict dr's orders which appear to be part of a leadup to ol' lefty going under the knife :-(   clearly, no more racing this year, and worse, no real playing either.

errrrrr....this totally sucks!

on the positive side, despite nothing hardcore, have still managed to do some pretty cool things over the past week, which included a great visit by my very cool mom as well as some fun 'light' hikes, bikes, 4x4s, etc.

and as a special incentive to 'rest'...check out my new toy below! still can't get past bruising my shin from the awkward kickstart, but learning from a total pro. maybe it will benefit my mtb skills (and won't kill me, or a helpless javelina, in the process).  cheers.

Recap of Yet Another Impromptu Roadtrip

Finally back home in the red rocks and crisp junipers :-)

An abbreviated recap:

MTB, of course. Ran, of course. What's that 'pain' in my ham? my knee? Hrmmm...??
MTB more anyway :-)
M& amp; J's wedding in Maine.
Beautiful.  M and J launched their adventures...more to come.
For us, fun Atlantic swims...spinnerbait as feet.
Sweet stretch of perfect sand to run.

AZ again.
A young guest arrives...lots to do, teach, play,...
(Her firsts: exposure to the southwest, hikes, mtb, 4x4, long-eared squirrels, grand canyon trip, imax, spotting for javelina, coyote, bobcat, hurling on a red rock,...
En route to NV/CA.
But first, who can resist a solo sunset swim at Lake Mead, esp after driving all day?
And the 'perfect' little private 'pond' outside Vegas, especially while in the middle of a 100+ deg mid-day run? Who would've thought about high acidic/alkaline/parasitic levels??

Arrrrghhh!! (Thank you concierge for the benadryl and hydrocortizone! Thank you urgent care nurse for the guidance! And apologies to those who saw us freaking out, stripping and scratching like mad!! Thank you CB for driving us!)
NV ticket for speeding. NV ticket for passanger sleeping in the back (w/o proper seatbelt).

Finally...Big Blue (Tahoe).
Cool cabin.
Gorgeous clear water, as usual!

Still not sure about leg/knee, but will probably race anyway. 
After all, we're here.

Race - performance wasn't spectacular, but views/temps were the best yet.
Tortillas, guac, etc. on a rooftop...yummmm.
Knee is out, so rather than Socal to surf, head to Rocky mtns to chill...via the 'Loneliest Road in the USA'.
Stumbled across coolest patch of sand dunes en route (NV), which were a blast, but the sand didnt mix too well w/the post-race massage oil nor the acidic/parasitic issues which were brewing under our skin (which we were still ignorant to at that point).

Alas, the San Juan Rockies and a cabin to call 'ours'. Thanks KRE!!

Must swim in Ouray - best pool and hot springs. (And another corky?)
Engineer pass, Stony pass, Miss Excursion rocks!
But still no running nor mtb for me :-(
Finally found the lake above the cabin, sits at about 12,000' elev - w/3 elks and a chipmunk. Absolutely worth the effort!! :-)
Started off w/brilliant clear blue sky and bright sun above; 2 hrs later was snowing on us.

Gotta love colorado!

Headed south to Durango for an eve of sushi and civility.
Spent entire morning at topnotch sports hospital for xrays etc: knee/ham far overused, overtrained, etc. Must rest. Learned about kinesio taping. (am not getting old, repeat, am not getting old,...)
En route southward to NM thru gorgeous terrain!!!.
But both still itching & scratching, so detoured at local clinic. Diagnosis, not good but pretty darn funny. HIGH-FIVE!!!
Wash everything, scrub everywhere, quarantine, best friday night ever!! Arghhh!
Mosey'd around Sante Fe, headed south to see family.
Great good to hang w/the family!
Great day, great chats, great lunch.
Even met an alpaca, llama, pig and more.
Finally, a short mtb, tho sadly on the road. (Knee is healing, but still can't have any REAL play yet.)

Time to head west and homeward.
Had no idea ice caves existed, especially in NM. Very cool!
Fantastic storms along the!!!

2800 miles or so later, finally, the sweet smell of junipers of northern AZ.


More to follow of course... :-)

Summer is on...and the trails are aplenty!!

I should be sticking to a better training regimen, but I'm having a hard time prying myself off the trails. We've been getting weird 'pre-monsoon' type weather. I'm missing 24/7 sun, but it's kept the air cool and the trails pretty tacky. :-)

Support these guys...

Check out this link for the WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT. These folks shipped out ready to complete their missions, varied as they may be, and had some unfortunate events happen along the way. Wow, do they drive on!!! There are several ways to help out...check it out!

2009 is on...

So far, 14 timezones around the globe, with playing along the way.
Sand, snow, dirt galore!