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A Breath of Fresh Air!

Posted Jul 06 2010 12:00am

This weekend was a celebration of many things. July 5th is Isabelle's birthday, it was Fourth of July and our first Fourth of July in Como since we got the cabin 6 years ago. We didn't know it before, but now we do, that we can watch the fireworks display close-up from our futon in the cabin, through the screen door. How cool is that?

But equally it was a celebration of my new job! I am leaving ICU within the next month to work in the oncology department, in outpatient infusion. It's something I've been wanting to do for quite some time and it couldn't have happened at a better time. I found out just before leaving the house to drive up to Como for the weekend.

Sometimes waiting for change is almost as stressful as the thing you're wanting to change.

While we were in Florida a job was posted in the oncology outpatient infusion clinic for relief hours only. Those are minimal hours and I would keep my ICU job until I could get the same number of hours as I have in ICU. With the relief job, I applied, got an interview, and then heard I got it, except that there might be some real jobs like what I wanted(not relief, but guaranteed hours), soon, and if I was interested I should apply.

And it was supposed to happen soon. How soon, I didn't know. So I went into the checking the job postings 6 times a day mode, checking my email, checking for voice messages, and generally being on hyper-alert and realizing just how ready I am for this change.

After 3 weeks of touch and go, knowing I have a job in the department I want but not the job I want, but the job I want will be available, maybe soon, and then waiting for the job to materialize on the job postings, so I can apply for it, then applying, and waiting to find out if I got it, and waiting...and waiting...and waiting...

All of which went really fast in retrospect but while I was waiting it seemed like


Dennis told me there is a reason I'm having to wait, that it will be a good thing.

When I didn't hear by Friday of this week, I decided I needed to just leave town for the weekend according to my original plan, to run the Leadville marathon, hang out at the cabin, and not stress about it. I packed up the car, got the Buffaloes in the back seat, and was on my last trip back into the house before locking up and leaving, when I saw the message light on the phone. I thought it might be Dennis since we just got off the phone making plans for when he followed us up to the cabin later after work.

I checked the message and it was the manager of the oncology department asking me to call her.

I did.

It was the job offer!!!

I asked if there was anything I needed to do right away, but since we were going into a holiday weekend, we decided we would work on it next week and enjoy the holiday.

So I stuck to my plans, but there was an extra reason to celebrate!

Dennis arrived at the cabin in the middle of the night. I woke up at 4:45 am and had to drive to Leadville, over an hour away.

I arrived at the Sixth Street Gym by 7 am and picked up my race packet, ate my sandwich, drank a lot of water and gatorade, and packed my pack full of warm clothes. I talked with some people I hadn't seen in ages, since I rarely come up to Leadville anymore.

Finally it was time for the start. I was blown away when I saw that they were using timing chips for the event. I can't believe this little race that started in 1992 when there were a few dozen of us, now has hundreds of runners and chip timing!

I was in tourist mode. I had my butt pack that was bigger than my butt loaded with warm clothes, food, camera, batteries, and drinks. I might as well have brought my AAA card, a credit card and a toothbrush.

I took my time, I planned to get a lot of walking in and didn't care to push it. I got plenty of miles in the past two weeks and all I needed was the vertical. I was in pedestrian mode and I had told Dennis it might be 5:00 before I got back to the cabin, because the marathon might take me 7 hours or longer.

And it did. I socialized at the aid stations, talked to old friends, more people from Leadville I haven't seen in years, people from ultras I haven't seen in months. I ran most of the first half with Dale Perry, he will be at Badwater next week crewing for Paul Grimm. Dale got to the top just ahead of me and then he pushed a little faster than I did going back, so we didn't see each other again until the finish.

On the way back I caught up to the crazy dude with Ultimate Butt, the term we use for those old Ultimate Direction packs that ride up with your shorts, exposing your cheeks to everyone running behind you. I tried to avoid him, he was chattering about who knows what. I didn't want to get stuck with Mr. U.B. because he never would have shut up and he probably could keep up with me if I tried to run ahead. So I kept him in sight, but not close enough to see the details, and with enough cushion so he couldn't recognize me if he turned around.

And there was this woman who was behind me on the way up the pass and just ahead of me on the way down. I was trying to avoid her because of her annoying voice. One of those nails on chalkboard voices. She had to be all perky and cheer for every single person on their way down the pass as we were climbing up. Squeak, squeak, squeak. Driving me crazy.

About a mile from the top I wanted to turn around and yell back at her, if you would use your breath to climb the @#$%&*! pass, you'd be done in half the time! But I didn't. I got ahead of her enough so I couldn't hear her anymore, and I talked with Pat at the aid station on top of the pass for a long time even though I was freezing, and took pictures and gave Miss Perky Squeaky Voice plenty of time to get far ahead of me. Unfortunately I caught up to her soon after the aid station at the bottom.

I think I just needed to be alone and look at the scenery. I think I was emotionally fried. My work week was pretty miserable last week, and I was so excited and hopeful about the new job that it was stressful waiting. There's always the fear that you didn't get the job. What if.

As I found things getting on my nerves I stuck close to the back of the pack and strategically passed people only if I knew I could go past them fast enough to avoid getting in a conversation.

I could feel my toes jamming into the front of my shoes on the way down. The Leadville marathon is almost all straight up or straight down, there are only a few miles where the road is fairly level, in the middle section by the mines. I was wondering how many toenails I might lose after this one, now that I have ten again, they won't last long.

I always forget just how hard this marathon is. It takes way longer than it needs to, to do 26 miles. I could get the same vertical in my back yard on Horsetooth Rock, in a lot less time, just not the altitude. I'm to the point with Leadville where I think I'm over it. I spent so much time up there in the past. I still think it's beautiful up there but I feel like I could find new places to explore.

It's really a suffer fest at this point, since I don't train for cold and I don't train for high altitude anymore. Actually though since I was going so slow I felt surprisingly good even on top of Mosquito Pass. I had no problems with my stomach or my appetite. Usually I'm queasy above 12,000 feet. This time I was just lightheaded, probably would have sounded like a Gooney Bird except I wasn't being very sociable.

I did tell one older runner I was close to the whole race, that as you get older you forget how painful it was the year before. That's why we come back. This time it took me 3 years to forget. If I go back to run it again in less time than that, I'm in trouble.

I got back to the Sixth Street Gym seven hours and thirty three minutes, long, torturous, lost in thought, but scenic hours and minutes after the start. I thanked Ken and Merilee, said goodbye to Dale and Ron, and took off for Como before Dennis started worrying.

I stopped at the KOA in Buena Vista and got a shower for $8.00 from a pipe sticking out of the wall, but at least it was warm water. I forgot how everyone up there in those campgrounds, both the visitors and the workers, all sound like they're from Texas or Arkansas. It's been a long time since my days of doing forestry work in the summers, living in the back of my truck, and coming into town once a week for a shower.

On Sunday we took the girls for a hike on the ditch trail and then went back to the cabin. The town of Como swelled to several hundred people, there was a parade with a float, and live music, booths, nasty greasy-looking food wagons, and lots of large people walking around aimlessly, holding nasty greasy-looking things, dressed in red, white, and blue.

For a town of 20 permanent residents and maybe 100 in the summer, it was a big crowd. We waited all day for the fireworks, as the sun went down it got cold and windy. For while we thought it would either rain us out or it would be too windy to have fireworks, but there was a steady stream of headlights driving into town, hundreds of cars were arriving.

The fireworks started and Isabelle got scared. Poor thing she was trembling. We had to talk to her and comfort her the whole time. Iris didn't seem to be bothered at all. We poured some beer in her bowl hoping she might drink it and it would calm her down, but she was too scared. Iris drank it instead and then feel asleep, snoring on the futon.

Finally it was over. We watched the stream of red tailights proceeding out of town and along Highway 285. Monday morning when we woke up, town was dead quiet again. You would never know that a thousand people and their cars were there just a few hours ago.

It was cold and windy in the morning too. We left to drive back to Fort Collins late in the morning. As soon as I got home I wrote my letter of resignation, which I will give to my boss tomorrow, and I'm on my way to a big, welcome, healthy, much-needed change within the next few weeks.

A BIG breath of fresh air!
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