Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sharing one of my favorite trails - Yetman - with some friends

My friend Julie and her brother Charlie, who was in town for the Thanksgiving holiday, joined me for a trail run today on Yetman trail in Tucson Mountain Park. They indulged me by not starting the run until around 8am (it was still around 45 degrees at the start). That is the cool thing about running in Tucson in the winter - sleeping in a little! It warmed up quickly, and we ended our run with the temp around 65. Lovely.
It had rained pretty hard on Wednesday and Thanksgiving day, so the dirt was nice and packed down. Yetman trail starts at the trailhead at the end of Camino de Oeste and runs past Stone House, which always has good photo opportunities. It curves off at the junction with Starr Pass trail and heads through the middle of the park. Instead of taking it over to Gates Pass Rd., we hook a left towards Tucson Mountain Estates and then loop around back to Starr Pass trail from outside the boundary of the park. It is known as 'THE loop' to some trail runners who regularly run that area.

Julie had read about this trail run on my blog before she moved to Tucson temporarily from CO, so she was happy to get to check it out finally. I think both she and Charlie had a good time. It really is a good trail - a combo of perfect singletrack, smooth and rocky, some hills, lots of cactus, and a bunch of sand to really get the calves in shape. On top of that, Stone House is there and the trail is not too packed with people. Well, now you see why it is one of my favorite trails in Tucson.

We ran into Randy Accetta, who is the President of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners. He was out with a few friends on a trail run and he gave me some ribbing over my color coordinated outfit, especially my pink heart gaiters. I told him I would send him a picture and he could post it in the newsletter! Trail running couture! Here it is! Funny. You can imagine more than one person has made comments about my trail running outfits... Hey, just gotta be me :)

I got in about 28 miles for the week, so I'm slowly getting my mileage back up there. I know I'm getting back into shape, because I wasn't even tired afterwards; no nap, no exhaustion. I just had lots of energy.

We ended up doing about 11 miles on the loop, and then I did a short out and back on the dirt road for an additional mile. Charlie hung in there pretty well; he runs on a regular basis, but not normally 11 mile runs. I felt pretty happy about my 12 mile time - 2:10. Not anything amazing for a road run, but with the trail being rocky and hilly and me trying to get back in shape, I thought I did well.
I'm so glad that Julie could join me again. Her and her brother are super nice. When she goes back up to Colorado, I'm going to have to go visit her and run some of the local trails where she lives. I'll also see if I can hook up with Kathleen in Colorado Springs on the same trip and just do a boatload of Colorado trail running.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just riding in the mountains...

Kenny and I spent about 3 hours riding on the ATV around the backside of Mt. Lemmon today, which was a lot of fun. It is about an hour ride North of Tucson to get there, through the town of Oracle. We rode about 15 miles and went up to Rice Peak. Kenny drives and I just ride, which is very relaxing. There were a lot of people camping and hunting out there for Thanksgiving weekend, but we still had a good time. Part of the forest we drove through was ravaged by a fire years ago, so there was a large area with tons of old snags which was cool.
We stopped near the top and did a little hike on a trail - lots of alligator juniper trees which were full of character.

I'm getting more flexibility back in my hand - my physical therapist is brutal, but I'm also doing exercises at home. I have to walk around holding a phone book, which will help 'flatten' my arm back out (it has a weird bend to it). The worst part is the PT 'scrubs' my scar to break up scar tissue and desensitize the nerve endings. Holy cow that is painful - she just rakes over the area with a metal ultrasound wand and I can feel it on every screw. But, the good news is that it is feeling much better. I was even able to hang on to the ATV with a pretty good grip while bouncing around when Kenny was trying to catch air on the hills. Fun.

4 days off in a row always go quickly, but I'm very thankful for the time off.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Some good news and some more good news - Happy Thanksgiving!

Good news #1. Hospital bills (including ambulance ride) for my wrist fracture were processed as in-network after all. Total so far - about $565. I started physical therapy yesterday on my wrist (horribly painful, more on that later), which will run $30 a session (twice a week) for about a month or so, which will add to the total a little. However, I was expecting out of network for the claims and was worried that it would be in the $1,000's. So thrilled about that piece of news.

Good news #2. Had an interview with my current job (WEIRD - I still work there, but I'm interviewing to continue working there?). At any rate, I can expect an offer next week I was told, so looks like the job situation is safe for now. I also had another interview for a different employer, which looked promising, too, but I won't hear back from them for a while either way. I was hesitant to mention that in case my employer saw my blog, but I really don't think I have to worry about that. Besides, I think it is normal if there is a possibility of losing one's job, to get out there and check out what is available just in case.

It is nice to know that I can actually go ahead and buy a new pair of road running shoes without fear of not having cash inflow in a couple of weeks. All of my road running shoes have over 250 miles on them. I try to rotate in a new pair when the newest pair gets about 150 miles on them. I'm thinking of going for the Asics Nimbus - I have worn the Asics Cumulus for 3 years, but think I need more cushioning. I'm holding off for to see what SofSole sends me (I received an email with an offer for some of their products to try out - can't wait!)

So, I ran about 4.5 miles on Monday, took Tuesday off of running (exhausted from 2 interviews that day, one lasting 1.5 hours!), and ran 7 miles yesterday. I am not running today - just eating!
We got a boatload of rain yesterday, all night long, and this morning. On my 7 mile run yesterday, which started off sunny, the darkening sky drifted over me about 25 minutes into my run and started dropping rain. I had to duck into Green Things plant nursery when the rain started. It subsided about 10 minutes later, so I finished my run fairly dry.

Afterwards, the sky looked amazing at sunset, and I got to see a double rainbow over the nursery:

The Catalina Mountains looked really pretty before the storm - you can see Finger Rock in the middle:

I have a lot to be thankful for today. A loving God continues to provide me with blessings - I feel useful to others, I have people who love me, and my fears never seem to come true. I think as long as you make your life about being of service to the people around you, you will never want for peace and contentment.

I'll be going on another trail run this weekend, most likely with Julie and her brother who is visiting. That trail run last weekend filled me up!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sweetwater Preserve Trails

I thought I had been out here before, but I was wrong. On this previous post, I was actually in the Tucson Mountain foothills, which was beautiful, but was a little North of the Sweetwater Preserve. So, Julie and I decided to check it out - an inaugural Sweetwater Preserve trail run for both of us. We pretty much did the red outline you see below, which consisted of these trails: Saguaro Vista, Black Rock Loop, Sun Circle Loop, Lost Arrow, Homestead, Red Tail Ridge, Oxbow, the Spine, Wildflower Ridge and Roller Coaster. I read that there is about 10.4 miles of trails total, but we covered the outer area (most of the area marked in red below) for about an 8ish mile trail run. I wanted to do 10 miles today, but with this being my first return to true trails since my accident, I felt good about the distance. I did a few toe stubs and trips, but felt in control. I'm still trying to get my leg mojo back after being off running for almost a month.
Here is a map of the area, although this is a rough sketch:
We never got 'lost', but there is no trail signage out there. So, at every junction (and by the long list of trails (10!), you could see how many junctions there were), we stopped and checked the map. Julie's Garmin recorded 26 minutes of pause time! I think after running it a few times, I'll get the hang of it and figure it out. Here is Julie at one of those many trail finding pauses:

Julie is a great running friend - topics from marriage, politics, religion, dealing with life's problems - everything is easy to talk to her about. Very fun. We only saw a handful of mountain bikers, which was great. I think we both concluded that mountain bikers sleep in.

To get there:

Go West on Camino del Cerro, take Tortolita Rd. South until it dead-ends at the trailhead (North end of the preserve). I believe you can also get there from Sweetwater Rd. on the South end - I will try to access it from that side this next week or two and report back. There is still a lot of construction on the Tortolita side (I think they are putting through a road of some sort on the side of the preserve), but access to the trail is not obstructed.
I did wear my brace (just in case?) but the doctor on Thursday gave me a good report on the bone healing and told me to not wear it at all anymore. I didn't specifically ask him if I could return to trail running (if you don't ask, you don't hear an answer) but he said the bone was healing up enough to start physical therapy right away. The only restriction he gave is no heavy lifting for at least two more weeks. Otherwise, physical therapy 2 - 3x a week should give me mobility and strength back. I can't really bend my wrist now, so the PT should help with that, although it is expected to be painful. Here is the latest pic: The scar is healing up nicely thanks to Mederma. I can feel the screws in there and if I bump the plate - yeeee-ouch!
I kept my mileage fairly low this week - 24. I would have had a few more if our run was longer today, but I'm glad I was careful. My legs are still trying to get with the program, so I was fine with the shorter run. I was having some shin pain at the beginning of last week, which I attributed to jumping my mileage up a little quickly (and, of course, I badly need new road running shoes).
Thanks Julie, for a wonderful return to trail running adventure. I surely missed it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

El Tour de Julie

That's what she called our run today - 'El Tour de Julie'. I met Julie through my blog - she was coming from Denver to Tucson with her husband and kids for a few months and found me on the internet by looking up trail running in Tucson. I was looking forward to taking her out on some trails here in town, but then I took my spill and have been out of trail commission for 6 weeks as of yesterday.

However, we can still road run together until I get the trail running go ahead from the doctor! So, Julie took me on a run near her house in the Catalina foothills (emphasis on the 'HILLS'). She grew up in that neighborhood, so all during the run, I got to hear about all she did in the surrounding area while growing up. It was really cool. Did I mention it was hilly? Geesh! Normally, it wouldn't be a big problem for me - I do plenty of hills and enjoy them. Now, I am a little unfit when it comes to hills after not running them for so long; but even though it was hard, I was thankful to get back in the swing of things and make some progress. Thanks Julie! She was so much fun to run with. I didn't talk as much when we were heading up Campbell Avenue (all uphill!), but otherwise, we talked a bunch and I really had a blast. I hope she doesn't mind me posting her picture; she looked so cute and the backdrop of the Catalina mountains looked so great behind her. Her daughter is named Catalina; how awesome is that!

We did 11 miles. I had thought about doing 12, but with the hills, I was good with that! I ran 26 miles for the week, which was great since I've only been back running for 2 weeks and 2 days.

I wanted to make it up to Javelina Jundred up near Phoenix yesterday, but we elected to save some money due to our pending financial situation. Sorry I couldn't be there to cheer you on Troy! I followed your progress on the webcast, and I was really proud of you!
It worked out, because I wasn't able to see my sister after all, and then a really good friend of ours went into the hospital for emergency surgery. We tried to visit him yesterday, but he wasn't doing well, so we just visited with his wife and offered support. He was the same friend that stayed with me in the hospital all day when I broke my wrist. I hope I get a chance to be there for him during his recovery.

Julie and I have tentatively planned a trail run for next weekend, pending my doctor's okee dokee. I am more than ready to get back out there. I will try to be very careful. And if you still think I shouldn't be trail running, here is my apropos quote:
'And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn't hear the music.' ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
One of my all time favorite quotes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I took Dixie Dog and Cracker out for a 3 mile run tonight on the Rillito river. They had a good time, although Cracker really ran fast and dragged me along the whole time.

You could tell they were out of shape, because they had their tongues hanging out afterwards. I was exhausted from the work week, so I thought 3 miles was enough for me, too. I met a guy while we were out there that was walking very slowly with 2 arm brace crutches and lower leg braces. He said he was run over by a truck a year a ago and that it has been a long year. I am sending him such good blessings - what a nice guy. Some people have more in life to carry than others.

I ran 7 miles on Tuesday, and 5 on Thursday (both on the Rillito, because at least I can run on the dirt path). I feel a little sluggish, but I'm getting the mileage back up slowly. The work situation is still on hold, although I'm doing a few things to deal with it (but I can't mention them here). Needless to say, I'm watching every penny...just in case.

My wrist feels great! I still have to wear the brace until Thursday, when I return to the surgeon's office. I still can't do a lot of things, but I'm back to normal typing, I can write well, and I can style my hair. My leg arm is getting buff and I think in the long run, I'll become a little more ambidextrious. I can tell it is healing up nicely. I'll start physical therapy once the doc gives the go ahead. Plan for next weekend - trail run if the bone is healed. Wahoo!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I'm running and I have surely missed the endorphins...

Well, I've run a little more this week:
Sunday - 6 miles on Rillito
Tuesday - 4.5 miles at Reid Park on loop path. Felt like I could run 10 miles. Destressing from work, so it felt great. I ran into the workout group there and got to visit with Sheryl, Steve, Sue and Martinho.
Saturday (this morning) - about 10 miles on the Rillito path, although I also walked about a mile. I went with Nancy, Sheryl, Lynn and Lisa and it was good to see all of them. They did a little more on the out and back, but I stopped at 5 miles, walked a ways, turned around, walked a little more back, and then they ran back and picked me up to run about 5 more. Felt great, although my legs feel sore. I'm feeling like I'll bounce back fairly quickly, and can start increasing my mileage each week. My wrist feels good, although it felt really weird this morning on our run. I think it was because it was cold - so I had the metal support from the wrist brace that was cold and the metal in my wrist! It was 42 degrees when I left my house this morning to meet the gals at 6:15am. Brrr! I wore gloves and ear muffs, but I still wore a skirt because I knew I would warm up.

We did see a few coyotes on our run; here is one (yeah, I know, it looks like a dog, but it really is a coyote):

So, not bad - 20.5 miles running in the last 7 days. In addition, I walked a few miles earlier in the week on my lunch, so I got in about 3-4 miles walking. I also did the exercise bike for about 30 minutes, and did a bunch of core/stomach exercises and lunges and some leg exercises on my machine.

Work - they have 'eliminated' all 15 of our positions in the Finance department where I work. What that means - we all have to reapply for the newly created positions (and interview along with other external candidates). It is a restructure of our department, with a lot of higher level positions being added. They aren't trying to cut back, but instead they are looking to structure the department to accommodate future growth. So, I'll be reapplying for a job similar to the one I have now, but it will be a Senior Accountant position and I'm currently the Accounting Lead. So, a little bit of a step-down, but I'm hoping the pay is similar. I think they are looking to eliminate some incompetent people, and they figured this was the best way to do it. I'm not too worried, since I do a good job there, but I won't feel settled until I know for sure. We'll all continue on as we are until they start making decisions.
And, of course, the hospital bills from my accident have started going through my insurance. Total - about $25,000. I'm not sure what my portion will be - initially, I thought about $2,000, but with it being out-of-network, I could be looking at up to $10,000.
I'm hoping for some good news on both the work and insurance bill fronts, but I feel confident that it will all work out alright somehow.
If I couldn't run right now, I'm not sure what I would do. One good thing!