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Showing posts from May, 2016

Blame it on the Tetons

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Beat and I are often accused of failing to take "real" vacations. Every time we leave home, they say, it seems to be for some kind of difficult endeavor, steeped in suffering. Of course this isn't true, but any such argument requires dredging up philosophical musings about the subjective nature of enjoyment, and reasons why one woman's day at the beach is another woman's slow-roasting torture of sunburn and boredom.

Memorial Day brought an opportunity for a classically enjoyable vacation in the form of a Google employee retreat in Teton Village, Wyoming. There would be relaxing in a spacious suite, big breakfasts, nice dinners, a wine tasting, a rodeo, and access to any number of luxuries that come with a resort destination. Attendees were encouraged to enjoy scenic floats on the Snake River or bus tours to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, but warned that late May is still the pre-season and outdoor opportunities would be limited.

On Wednesday Beat a…

Broken, not broken

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This week I've been less enthused about my runs, dragging around a sore leg and the knowledge that my hand is not going to get better on its own. Last Wednesday, a doctor performed a nerve conduction study and concluded I have "very severe" carpal tunnel syndrome. The numbers point to grade five, which is as advanced as this injury becomes before the nerve stops firing altogether, and the damage can be permanent. There's already muscle atrophy. My distal motor latency has actually deteriorated since I had a similar test done in March, even though I gave up the activity that prompted my symptoms (cycling), wore a wrist brace, performed PT exercises, and took anti-inflammatories. At this point, the cause is impossible to determine — my case is definitely not typical, and there's no way to say whether it's overuse from the race to Nome, acute injury from a crash, genetics, a combination, or something else entirely. All I know is it's bad, and getting worse.…

More fog (actual fog)

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When Beat and I were preparing to move away from California, several of our friends there expressed disbelief that we'd deign to leave the perfect weather of the Bay Area.

"Colorado has 300 days of sun!" Beat would exclaim.

"I get pretty tired of perfect weather," I'd say truthfully, omitting the detail that I've lived through the other extreme and I didn't always tolerate that well, either.

Now I'm experiencing spring in the Colorado Rockies, and so far I've seen a delightful pendulum of snowing - 80 degrees - raining - 80 degrees - fog - snain.

 For the past four days, it's been fog. At 7,000 feet, the haze is thick. This seems to make me more productive, probably because I spend less time staring out the window. Over the weekend Beat and I completed the organization of our gear room, of which I'm quite proud. Beat even built sturdy wooden racks for our bikes and trekking poles. We still spend our time sitting on camp chairs and …

Out of the fog

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I think I've finally emerged from the strange fog I slipped into over the weekend — the fog of becoming dizzy whenever I stood up, feeling fuzzy-headed and tired, and falling asleep unintentionally during the day. In hindsight, a cold virus may have contributed to this condition, but I blamed altitude and the possibility that I pushed my body just a little too hard during our first week in Colorado. I'm not as strong here as I was in California. I may actually acclimate to the elevation before I finally accept that reality.

I was annoyed about dozing off on the floor while working on projects, so I decided to go for a run on Monday evening. Usually when I'm feeling low on power, an outdoor excursion boosts my spirits and my energy levels. Beat was running home from work, so I planned to meet him on the saddle of Green Mountain, about 3.5 miles away. Just getting there proved to be more than I manage — my legs were weak, I became dizzy, and had to sit down on the trail twi…

Altitude crash

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Just when I'd started to believe I might slip through this acclimatization period without detection, the altitude monster got its jaws around me. This happened near the summit of Bear Peak on Wednesday evening, halfway through the crux of the climb. The crux segment gains 620 feet in 0.3 miles, and I decided to go at this wall as hard as I possibly could, because damn it, if I can't ride bikes this summer, then I'm going to train myself into real mountain running shape once and for all. (I'm still hopeful I'll be able to ride bikes sooner than later. I'm going to see a hand specialist on Tuesday, and I'm expecting the doctor to recommend carpal tunnel surgery. This could require six to eight weeks of recovery, which would mean canceling hopeful plans to go bike touring with my friend Leah before her wedding in Oregon in June, which brings me sadness because CTS is such a stupid injury, but it's so persistent that I can't yet hold two trekking poles…

Winter drops by to say welcome

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Winter is my favorite season. There are those who don't believe me, or who point out that I can only love winter because I spent the past five years living in a warm climate and visiting winter at my leisure, for fun, without the day-to-day cold-weather drudgery. Point taken, but I stand by my statement. I am a hopeless winter enthusiast.

When I moved to Colorado in late April, I assumed I wouldn't see winter for another six months. And that was okay, because I had a pretty good dose of winter this past season in visits to Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and two fantastic trips to Alaska. Surprisingly, except for a cold snap following a November snowstorm, I all but missed winter in Colorado during our two weekend visits in December and January. The week we closed on the house, it was 60 degrees in Boulder, and the backyard looked like this:

January 30


May 1!
Yes, winter returned for a spring fling, the way she often does in her turbulent on again, off again affair with the Rockies — a …