LooseCrew-JeffO: November 2007


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Friday, November 30, 2007

Captain Underpants!

Yesterday, I had a massage for lunch. Lucy told me my skin was dry so that means I needed to drink more water. Well it seemed I was drinking fine, but apparently not. She can tell these things.
I started coming down with a cold. It is possible, if you eat right, rest right, and stay thoroughly hydrated, for your immune system to fight of pretty darn close to 100% of what it comes in contact with. You only get sick when there's something particularly nasty (like Ebola!) or you damage your immune system (dehydration, exhaustion, poisoning - like when you get drunk).
I drank more water but I started feeling sick anyways.

The Denver Trail Runners run every Thursday night. I wasn't going to miss that. Even coming down with a cold, the rules I've read are that if you have the energy and your airways are clear - go for it.
Somehow I neglected to stock any shorts or pants in my bag. The temps were below freezing, there was snow everywhere. So a new entry for "You know you're an ultra-runner when..."
You have no running shorts or pants, and it's freezing outside, and you run in your underwear!
To be most accurate, I ran in two pairs of tech underwear, my REI skivies and my Exofficio underwear which are longer than tightie-whities, but shorter than bike pants.

I don't think Becca cared.
Speaking of which, Becca and I re-discovered each other. A couple of weeks after the LT100, I was running on the same Apex trails when I met her going up while I was going down the switchbacks. We actually stopped and talked for several minutes. So last night, she asked me what races I had done, and when I mentioned Leadville, she said we'd met and that my leg was still swollen back then. Oh, yeah! Hard to recognize anyone in the frozen dark with headlamps. Very cool!
To us anyways.

When carpooling, and trying to hook up with people in various faraway places, it has been hard to manage both my email and my phone. AT&T/Cingular has scuttled their analog towers per federal law. That sucks because analog curves around objects and has a much further range than digital. So reception in the mountains has degraded remarkably.
I have been using a Cingular 8125 PDA-phone with WiFi, cellular data, and all the regular phone stuff. This device syncs with Outlook Exchange email, calendar, contacts, notes, and also sync files, like my running mileage log and race schedule. it has a mini version of the Office suite so I can open and edit my Excel and Word documents.
I now have an iPhone. I'm not sure why it is touted as the "perfect phone". For sure, on a scale of 0-10, it probably earns a solid "12" on the Cool-Factor, but this phone lacks so much that it doesn't deserve to be called "perfect".
It has a larger screen than my old 8125, and my 8125 was more than twice as fat, which hurt to sit on. The iPhone is so slim I can't tell it's in my pocket and I have to keep checking because I can't tell it's there.
The iPhone will sync my Outlook calendar and contacts, but it won't sync with Exchange email nor will it pull in my very-handy ton of notes. I'm a note-monger. I shop and I'm a techno-geek. I'm always writing down tiny bits of data. so this is a BIG minus. Outlook email from work - for some reason I don't care.
As far as files go, I've cheated. When docked, Windows Explorer allows you to browse to the photos folder on the iPhone. This is where I dump my files. Unfortunately, this is only good for transporting between computers. I have no access to these files from the iPhone interface.
As far as surfing the web, it's nicer. if for no other reason, it's easier because the screen is bigger.
Both sync my music, but I prefer the iTunes music sync by far.
One feature the iPhone has that my 8125 didn't...
The iPhone can monitor several POP or IMAPI email accounts and will vibrate and chime whenever you get a new email. Instant notification. So my butt is always vibrating - which is quite a thrill for a weirdo like me.
Bottom line: I liked my old phone and I like my new one, but neither is "perfect".

After dinner at Woodies Pizza, I was feeling very tired. At home, I collapsed until the worst of the cold woke me up at 12:40am. But I woke up this morning feeling human again.

Monday, November 26, 2007

First Full Moon Run of the Year

The Denver Trail Runners' first Full Moon run of the season was Saturday night. It's always best with total snow coverage, and there was only about 50% coverage but the weather was nearly perfect! Almost no wind and crystal clear sky. Overall, it was an even better run than I'd hoped.

We also had several new people. I'm struggling to remember all their names. I used to be so bad about names and numbers, but I've improved to the point of being average.
Lisa & Karla
and, and, and, uh, Mike's nephew - yes, that's his name.

South Table Mountain has almost no trees, so there's unobstructed views in all directions.
We ran nearly the entire thing without any lighting.
It was so bright I might have gotten a moon-burn. I'll have to remember my moon-tan lotion with MPF30.

I always get my sun & moon data from here: Sun & Moon data for one day
I don't like all the fancy imports, plugins, and add-ons of other sun&moon data or RSS-feeds like Sidebars and such. I'm an old-fashioned geeky kind of guy.

Next Full Moon Run will probably be Christmas Eve.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thankful Day

The Denver Trail Runners ran the Mesa Trail on Thanksgiving morning. Coming off of two blissful weeks of mild weather, it was a shock to run in 17-degree temps, but the scenery reminded us of why we do it. Are we crazy for running in frigid temps? Or are other people crazy for sitting on their butts at home missing all of this?
(Or am I sane for doing this but crazy-besides-the-point?) Hey, hush. Some of my best friends are crazy.

My good friend, John Wright

I'm thankful for living in this country that is beautiful regardless of the people and politics, but I'm also thankful because of the people and politics. You can complain if you wish, but we do have the power to vote, to protest, to fight, to speak, to run and play, to make sense or be ridiculous. There's no such thing as perfection, but in spite of that, we all have our various definitions of what "perfect" or "ideal" should be and it's a good thing to work in that direction, even realizing we'll never fully get there. Go ahead and complain about politicians, but be thankful we have citizens willing to fight for what they believe in and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we'll continue to have the right to be ridiculous.
I'm thankful that I live in a country that states what no other does: that some rights are unalienable. That means our Constitution acknowledges that some rights are not bestowed by any government - that all humans are born with them. Our Constitution tries to spell these rights out and proclaim them to the world. (There are additional rights that we're not born with, that municipal, county, state, and federal laws may grant or deny, but those are seperate from our Constitution.)
I'm thankful I didn't die so many times that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things, and sometimes with the wrong people.
I'm thankful I now know the right people and every day I try to be one of the "right people".
When I'm overwhelmed by choices in life, I'm thankful I have choices.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fun for 2008

I'm currently inclined to pick my races based on what looks like the most fun, and not try to use any seasonal strategy. I know this will mean I will often race poorly and maybe DNF more due to insufficient recovery time, but there's just too many fun races out there. I want to do them all. So I think I'll use 2008 to have fun and get used to 50+ mile running. When 2009 comes around, I can get back into strategic racing schedules.

I feel compelled to comment on my past drug use. (Hey, you never know - I might run for president. I smoked but I didn't inhale, right?)

My drug days were not long. I went from a totally anti-drug kid spouting the "party line" to a smoker and toker in a matter of a few months.
That's why I worry about my son. His mother claims he's not like other kids and that he'd never do stuff like that. To me that's one totally naive mom. I won't accuse my son of doing things I only suspect he might someday do. He really is a good kid. But so was I. I OD'd and almost killed myself. So if my son's mom is comfortable with her head planted firmly underground, then my job is that much more important. My son is now 14. I was 16 whe I started smoking and 17 when I started doing drugs.

99% of my drug use was during a paltry 12-month span of time. My pill use was about three months long, if I remember right. I started by taking Tylenol #3. My body got used to that stuff quickly, which required that I took even more to get high. The last time I got high on Tylenol #3, I took 13 pills. That's enough to kill a horse, but I didn't OD on that stuff.
I was afraid I would OD so instead of escalating further with Tylenol #3, I decided to buy a couple of downers from one of my doper friends. She told me to cut one in half the first time, but the pills were the hard kind - not easy to cut. Besides, I reasoned, after doing up to 13 Tylenol #3 to get high, I'd just take a whole one. Nothing happened. It usually takes 15-20 minutes to get rushed. So I took another whole one.
I'm sure most people don't OD on one of these pills. Very likely the huge amounts of Tylenol #3 I'd been taking were still in my body and these downers reacted by keeping me from feeling high, but also overdosing me chemically.

I could go into more detail but I'll stop there.

A week later, without doing drugs for the whole week, I took one more. That triggered an episode identical to the first - maybe a tiny bit worse. I never took another pill to get high again.

Years later, meeting an old friend, he lit up a joint and I toked on it a bit. I didn't enjoy it and it made me feel terrible. I felt terrible for three days afterwards.

I haven't smoked cigarettes, dope, or taken pills to get high in over 25 years. My experience is obviously confined to my own life, so I'm not going to say what I'm about to say is an absolute for everyone - I could be wrong. But to me, it appears that doing drugs is just a cowards way of committing suicide. Real life activities and interacting with people is so incredibly awesome that drugs can't compete. So it appears to me that drugs are just a depressed, insecure, pathetic way for weak people to "accidentally" kill themselves. I include alcoholism in that pot too.
I suppose you could try to argue that if you can drink socially then you can smoke dope socially. But I counter that smoking - whether cigarettes or dope - is horrible for your health. Having a drink isn't. With smoke, there's no threshold you have to surpass - it's poisonous in any amount, whether it kills you or not. With drinking, you have to surpass a certain limit before toxicity becomes an issue.

Anyways, I admit I may be wrong, but that's how I see it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Five things

I've been tagged to tell five random facts about myself.

1) In spite of my age, I like to listen to new alternative rock music. My favorite band is currently Cold Play.

2) Years ago, I lived in Wichita, KS. There was a murder at Wichita's roughest biker-bar where one guy beat the other senseless and then placed his head on the curb outside and stomped his neck, killing him. So a few days later, I put on a powder-blue preppy button-down shirt, my fraternity pin, and grabbed my pool cue. I walked into that bar and barked, "Who wants to play pool?" The bikers looked at each other and one guy said he would. We played peacefully. Without mountains and other adventurous natural places, I got my kicks off doing stuff like that.

3) I used to know a goofy-looking guy in high school who sold drugs and helped unload the rich guy's drug-plane. This goofy guy would buy his friends by giving them drugs - mostly pot. I smoked a LOT of pot!, even though I never bought any. Eventually I overdosed twice on downers when I was 17.

4) One of my hobbies used to be finding abandoned nuclear missile silos with one of my brothers. We would bring an inflatable raft because the silos were flooded. We'd slink through the night on private property, enter, and paddle throughout the complexes. Very cool but lots of gross dead things floating in the stagnant waters. Real gold plating on all the wires, huge stanless steel vault doors, big cylindrical rooms suspended from pillars and designed to take direct hits from enemy missiles. Interesting little outings. Again - no mountains so we improvised.

5) I used to be a poet of twisted and depressing prose. Here's a new one, though...

there are nights i feel wild
nights i feel free
moonlight keeps calling
the night i can see
and i run all alone
but for critters that skitter
amongst weeds and the trees
i run

if only to find
something meaningful kind
can i hold something fine
can i see am i blind
tell me what matters
to you can we find
together or never
i run

this rythm is leading
i follow misleading
in silence in screaming
running to, running from
my sin is my hope
and my hope is a sin
i can barely hold on
i run

the summer can ease
what the winter can freeze
but i run on this miserable
pain in my knees
i can't stop this journey
i'm floating through space
this dark void in the night
i run

crunching of snow
under feet with the sound
of my breathing and thoughts
haunting pain and endorphins
feelings behind me
beside me and in me
and holding on
i run

I know - I won't quit my day job.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A New Hero to Add to my List

In 2006, I had a measly little stress fracture at mile 20 of the Rim Rock Run. It was the middle metatarsal of the right foot. I ran the last 2.5 miles in excruciating pain.

Now watch this runner. It was her FEMUR!!! and TIBIA!!!! And she kept going!!!

Claire Markwardt Story

Claire Markwardt Video

I can't have a high school girl chick me like that! Next time I'm going to break my back in three places - and keep going!

Thanks to Mike Q for sending me this.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Friends at Rim Rock

Here's some of the other photos and clips I took at Rim Rock.

Darice K

Denise S
Denise S


Da Feet

Willie Lloyd

I had a friend, Willie Lloyd, who battled cancer for about 10 years. Chemo finally killed the cancer, but then the chemo gave him Luekemia. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.
Just when he'd gotten a masters degree, and it looked like life would have no limits, he was diagnosed.

Willie asked me several questions about my lifestyle years ago and pronounced that there was no chance I would ever have cancer, even though I told him it runs in the family. He said it doesn't "run in the family" - it's a matter of what you eat and your lifestyle - both of which are handed down through generations. We can change that.
I don't think anyone is immune to cancer. There are too many health nuts and famous athletes who've had cancer. But healthy living certainly makes it less likely we'll contract it and more likely to survive.
Willie died Friday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Rim Rock 2007

I would have posted this Sunday, but the WiFi at the coffee shop stopped working. Then I tried again Monday, but the same thing. I suspect they periodically turn off the WiFi to get rid of anyone staying very long, and then pretend they don't know what happened or how to reset the router. Whatever - it's their store.

The new Rim Rock race director did a fine job.

The hotel did not. Their software that controls reservations was changed a couple of days before the race. The three confirmation numbers I had were changed by the update. Two of the women called the hotel to stick their names under my name, but instead, one was typed over my name. So when everyone arrived, it appeared that we had only two rooms. Because of this, two of our peeps got their own room. Then it was discovered that one of the women's names had replaced my name, but the hotel said it was too late for cancellations and my credit card would be charged. Now wait! So if anyone were to claim they were in my party, and you type their name over mine but neglect to change the credit card, then anyone can free-load on my credit card? Yep.
Golly, so sorry I gave my debit card and their system won't take debit cards. Try charging a revoked card. So we thought we ended up with two rooms but ended up with four. What a clusterfu@%! And it wasn't my fault so there was no way I was going to end up paying because the hotel's software and personnel created a huge problem.
I didn't get too worked up. I told her to sell my now-extra room to some poorly-organized runner that comes in at the last minute. Sure enough, that's what happened. All's well that ends well.

My first blog video clip!

Scott P drove my CR-V and shuttled most of us to the start. He had a significant ankle injury trail biking the day before and had a rugby game scheduled for after the race. There was no way he was able to run 22.5 miles.
At the start, I ran into several friends, including Kassandra (from Leadville) and Anita F (from everywhere).

My chief goal was to finish without disintegrating, since running the race in my condition was really kind of reckless. I took my new 5mp camera to help get my mind out of competition-gear and into relax-and-have-fun gear.

The weather was PERFECT! Image that! The weather is usually uncomfortably cold and either foggy or drizzly, but this year was great.

I started out slow, and lost time trying to figure out my camera, which was not taking pictures. It was stuck on movie mode. In fact, the switch has a bad habbit of slipping into movie mode all the time. I think I need a modification of the duct tape kind.

At mile 9, I realized a sharp pain on my right foot. That's the one that stress fractured last year, but the pain seemed to be on top. I stopped and loosened my laces, but I don't think that was the cause. Loosening did help, but it took until mile 17 for the pain to simmer down. I was paranoid that it was blowing into a new, serious injury. When I tried walking, my left knee hurt. When I ran, my right foot hurt. So I decided I'd rather hurt fast than hurt slow, so I kept running a moderate rate. I seem to remember at some point last week the top of my foot itched and I tried to scratch it through my shoe and couldn't, so I kind of pounded it with the heel of my other foot. That left no pain at the time, but my guess is that - and tight laces - set me up for this problem.

With my camera and my foot, there was no way to be competitive. It totally goes against my personality to take it easy, but I kept telling myself to keep my eye on the prize - the LT100 next year. I didn't want to lose my winter the way I did the past two years in a row.

Our gang was Brandy, Denise, Karen, Darice, and Mike. Mike came in 8th at 2h33m? Karen finished in 2h56m. The rest of us trickled in much later.
Anita F was way behind me most of the way, but at mile 18 she blew by me. Geez, I've never seen her run so fast. With 4.5 miles left, she past me and managed to finish nearly a mile ahead of me. I wasn't even tired and still couldn't hold her pace. I did, however, have a very long sprint at the end.

Anita F and I then ran the extra 1.1 miles to Fruita Advnetures for the post-race party. As in past years, they had great beer and pizza.
I won a whole container of HEED Mandarin Orange at the raffle. I like the electrolytes in HEED, but overall, I prefer old-fashioned Gatorade. I've been mixing Gatorade and R4, so I just mixed the HEED in with my other stuff when I got home.

The race was a totally great time. Peter V won. Bernie B was in Japan.

Carpooling back to Denver, we stopped off at Glenwood Springs for the hot springs. Darice showed us what a talented diver she is. Very amazing. Very graceful and amazing. Oh, I thought my heart was going pitter-patter but then I realized it was everyone's feet on the concrete.
I saw a woman at the pool that looked EXACTLY like my sister in Texas. It freaked me out. I told Mike she was probably looking at me so much because I probably look just like her brother. So she came over. She just ran Rim Rock - and, yes, I look just like her brother.

Back at home, I had to finally sigh with relief. What a whirlwind week of flying, Vegas, work, running, carpooling, pooling, and finally home again. But it was worth it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Night on the Strip

I know this Vegas stuff will bore most of you, but I'm a guy who will sleep on the ground to keep from spending $60 on a room. Or triple-up to avoid full price. So it's new stuff to me.
My company paid for this, so it's not my dime! So what if I have to sleep on the floor because I'm not used to soft beds?

Here's my iPod plugged into the alarm radio.
...and the large-screen TV (that's Hannibal Lector on TV - maybe the wet-bar has some Chianti and some fava beans?)...
...and the nice made-for-two tub...
...and the TV in the bathroom (note how I've put the spare sink to good use on the left).

Someone explained to me why the cigarette smoke isn't as bad this year - smoking ordinance! It's still allowed lots of places, but only sensible places like bars, casinos, and outside. So I don't have to breathe 2nd-hand smoke in the halls, elevators, or the WiFi area of the convention.

I went for a long walk up the Strip in lieu of running. There's lots of long stairs all along the Strip to help you walk across the street without impeding traffic. These are great workouts. Uphill doesn't bother my knees, so I sprinted up these. Obese vacationers are appalled at such scenes, but I'm not harming anyone. They take the escalators on either side of the stairs. My thighs feel last nights workout.

New York, New York has a good roller coaster - the Manhattan Express. I waited extra long to get a ride in a front seat. Since I was alone, a seat would have been empty next to me but this beautiful young aeronautical engineer from Miami asked if she could sit with me. Man, that made it 4.387451 times more fun than if I had done it alone! I was going, "Woohoo!" and she thought I was doing that because of the coaster.
Then I got popcorn instead of dinner, because for some reason popcorn was all my stomach could tolerate (I was feeling queezy since lunch). A beautiful woman started talking to me and I thought we could hook up, but then her boyfriend walked up. Man, she was my age and didn't have a ring. How's a guy to get lucky?
Then later, the most beautiful woman in all of Vegas approached me. She had to be 20! Oh, I'm such a stud that young, beautiful 20 year olds can't resist me, right? All I would have to do is pay her $300 dollars (minimum) and she had a place a block-and-a-half away.
Keep in mind [remember], I'm the guy who won't spend $60 on a room. I'm desperate, lonely, and horny as an iguana, but $300/hour?!!! That was a great laugh - but not to her face. She may be a hooker but she hadn't done anything to me to deserve insults. In fact, we talked for about 15 minutes, and I enjoyed it. I was surprised she was willing to waste so much time with me without pressuring me to go someplace. That made me wonder if she was a bored vice cop, but I milked it for all it was worth.

Demographics are weird here...
Of the Microsoft conference people, probably 85% are men.
Of the 15% that are women, nearly half of them are Asian.
Of the Asians, men or women, nearly all of them are Japanese.
In Vegas, some very small percentage of the populace, whether local or visiting, are black.
That latter stat is odd because the woman I rode the coaster with, and the woman I met when buying popcorn, and the hooker, were all black. It was as if they all had a meeting and decided that last night was going to be "Extremely Beautiful Black Women for JeffO Night". I'm so glad they did.
The Japanese seem very stoic. Probably because they can't hold a conversation in English. But they're friendly enough when you somehow break through that - although there's lots of clumsy pointing and other sign-language. Hey, maybe if I yell really loud in English they'll be able to understand me? I should try that.

On the way back to my room last night I kept stopping and asking couples if they'd like me to take a photo of them together with their cameras. It's amazing how extremely gratified some people were. It was very cool - repeatedly. My favorite was the old couple that must have been about 70 in front of Caesar's Palace.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Vegas 2007

I ran about 6 miles on Lookout Mtn Thursday and about 5 miles before hopping on the plane to Vegas.

It's not as bad here as it was in 2006. Seems the Luxor has worse ventilation than the Mandalay where I'm at this year.
The room is way too fancy. I'm a guy who actually enjoys sleeping on the ground, most places. There are times I'd rather be inside my CR-V or in a cabin, when the bears are out or it's raining and I don't feel like setting up a tent.
The bed is horribly soft. Tonight I plan to put all the bedding on the floor so I can sleep soundly.
There's a very fancy bathroom. There's both a tub and a shower. The tub is big and I wish I had someone to sit in it with and drink some wine with some candles laying around. But instead I walk around the Strip or watch a movie on my laptop.
There's a safe inside one of the closets, a 50+" TV on the wall, plus a smaller TV in the bathroom.
I know if I touch the wet-bar, they'll charge me a freakin' fortune, so I went to a liquor store on the Strip and bought a 6-pack.

My left knee needs this break. My right knee feels fine, but that's deceptive, too. Both knees need a long break.
This Saturday, though, is the Rim Rock Run. Last race of my planned season.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Easy runs and busy-busy

Things have been slow. I'm "resting". For me, resting has consisted of running around Wash Park starting slowly and building carefully to full-speed, with no sprinting. Also, on trails, I take extra care not to get bold on the jagged stuff. Sometimes I walk the most technical stuff to keep from straining my left knee, which isn't showing signs of improving. Next week is my conference in Vegas, with probably no running. If my left knee doesn't improve, I may be forced to do nothing more than ride my bike. It's looking like that's the way things are panning-out, but we'll see.
Tuesday I ran 5.2, Wednesday I went to the doctor where he poked needles deep into my thigh muscles to try to get rid of some persistent knots (that didn't work), Thursday we ran up and down Lookout Mountain.
Today I'm meeting friends for beer. I plan to get a good workout with 16 or 20 oz. curls.

The weather has been cool but glorious. The sky has been clear and the leaves are falling in baskets-full. I'm not a Fall person, but this Fall has been nice. I wish I had time for some hikes, but I have no time. It's just work-work-work. So manny things put off during race season that must get done.