Urban Hiker

Usually, I write race reports. I have been in races lately and finished them. But running races is not the most exciting thing in my life today. The most exciting thing is walking. Or urban hiking. Urban hiking is for non-elite city dwellers, who don’t live near fantastic mountainous trails, and who never plan to hike from Mexico to Canada or Georgia to Maine. Yes, I could hike even though I don’t live near anything amazing.

Last week, I walked 20 miles by myself. I was so impressed that I did it. It was not painful and the time went by easily. I began to envision really long distance hikes around the city where I live.

And so I bought a backpack. A typical hydration pack that I use for running doesn’t have a big enough back pocket for a jacket. In the winter, it could be that layers of clothing need to be taken off or put on as the day progresses. And I want to be able to hike for hours without going home. I wanted a pack that could carry a large hydration bladder. And hip pockets for my phone and gloves. A pack to untether me:

I do still run. Races are signed up for. But I also like the low stress of walking. Without purpose. Not training. Walking in winter, I don’t sweat like I do running, so the layers stay dry for hours. Whereas, when running, I sweat, and pretty quick, my layers get wet.

Today I walked along a busy road. The sidewalk was mostly there, missing in a couple of spots. Continuous cars. Quicktrip and Starbucks. It takes 3 miles of road walking to get between trail A and trail B. Next time, I’ll park closer to trail B, because, on trail B, you can walk for many miles on bike paths away from cars.

Do you ever drive in your car along a busy street and see a person walking with a pack? Do you wonder if they are too poor to have a car, or homeless, or something? I mean, why would anyone walk along that street if they didn’t have to? The crazy old lady who likes to walk, that’s who. It could be the secret millionaire from next door who puts on scruffy clothes and a pack and goes for a long walk.

Try it sometime.


A Girl Who Didn’t Get on a Couch

Yesterday I ran 11 miles. Fast for me at 11:30 per mile. I plan to run a full marathon this coming Saturday. I hope I get it done in less than 6 hours. It is normal life for me to do two or three hours of exercise a day plus a short evening weight workout. Even when I had a career, I got ninety minutes of exercise done a day. I didn’t own a couch.

I might be unusual, but I don’t feel like I should amaze anyone. I am not very fast or very strong, but I do keep up the daily work.

I just got done reading two books which I’ll characterize as man books. They were both written by men in their thirties, who also happen to be extreme athletes. By extreme athlete, I mean pushing a sled across Antarctica. Rowing across the Drake Passage. Climbing Everest. Hunting in the Yukon for a month in a tent, and packing out hundreds of pounds of meat. Being cold for the month and not having enough to eat. The point of these books seems to be to somehow get people to put down their phones and do something physical.

One of these books had the nerve to use PhDs and cardiologists to point out the shortcomings of American life, including stating that running on a treadmill while watching netflicks isn’t all that good. You shouldn’t eat whatever diet you are eating. The only good thing seems to be that you should strap on a 50 lb rucksack and hike around in the cold for hours. I have to drive across town to find a trail of more than a mile. If a bike path isn’t good enough, then shove off. A bike path is what I have.

These man books have helped me to have compassion for the average American. That sedentary job pays the bills and has health insurance. We can’t just quit. Neither of these authors has children. Children change the game and provide just as much reward as dragging a sled across Antarctica. I wouldn’t insult the small percentage of adults who actually do get regular exercise. By making it seem impossible to do something for my health, I felt very discouraged about what I actually do accomplish. This feeling from someone in the upper one percent of health trajectory for a sixty-three-year-old. If you want to encourage someone, I wouldn’t write a whole book pointing out what’s wrong with their life, with a back story about some dangerous expedition that changed your life. The back story is interesting but not in my lifetime.

Calm down self. Appreciate the run you just did. Appreciate the work you are going to do with your mind on your computer this afternoon. Appreciate the piddling ass weight lifting session you’ll do this evening. Meditate and sleep well soul You have well-being without freezing to death.

In case you are interested, check out “12 Hour Walk” by Colin O’Brady, or “The Comfort Crisis” by Michael Easter.


It is not a beginning time nor an ending time. It is the times in between. It is the time of the mid-day devil. Fears are not below consciousness. One wonders what one has gotten themselves into. The real deal happens in about 5 weeks. I signed up for a 50 mile race.

Yesterday I jog/walked 20 miles. At the end, I was able to question myself. Are you sure you want to keep going for another 30 miles? Yesterday, I might have said no. At the same time, It was not possible for me to make myself contact with the race and transfer to a shorter one. Some part of me wants to do this thing, 50 miles.

A 31 mile race is hard, but I know I can do it. A 50 mile race is hard and I don’t know if I can do it, except I do know. I know that I can walk it out when my feet get tired. Patience is the thing that is lacking. Why do ultramarathons at all? I want to have the mental experience that occurs in the final miles, and the amazing feeling that occurs at the end, a snapshot of triumph.

I’d rather train for and run 50 miles than have cancer. And we do have a choice.

I’m reading a book called “12 Hour Walk,” by Colin O’Brady. He is an adventurer, climbing Everest, dragging a sled across Antarctica, rowing through the Drake passage off South America. I’m not anywhere near his league. He defines the American Dream as, “…tied in with purchasing an agreeable house in suburbia, working all day, and being content with about fourteen day excursions.” I wouldn’t say that I was content with that life. It seemed more to me like a quiet hell. And that’s why I got out the instant I thought I could afford it. Realistically, one does need money. I focused on financial self-sufficiency in my life, not adventure.

Actually, really big adventurers never even entered my mind. I was focused on getting a good job. Now that I am older, what can I realistically do? A 50 mile race fits that idea.

Race Report – Ultrapalooza 50K

Dateline September 3, 2022: I did it!

So exciting because of all the stress leading up to this event. What idiot signs up for a 31 mile race on Labor Day weekend? We all know it is hot on Labor Day weekend. So I spent the summer running in the heat. I covered 290 miles in July and 370 miles in August. In both months, I averaged 5 weight sessions per week, of 25 minutes each. Going into this race, I was in great shape with no injuries.

Ten days out from the race, the last day to drop down in distance, the race day weather looked incredible: temps between 61F and 81F, clouds, and maybe some rain. But each morning thereafter, the temps got hotter and hotter. The humidity would be high. Finally, two days before the race, temps were predicted in the 90s, I freaked. It takes me 7.5 hours to complete 31 miles, and I was afraid I’d have to walk for two or three hours to finish the race if it got too hot. I freaked and turned inward to my higher power. I said, “Inner Being, I can’t do this.”

And then I sat quietly and waited for my Inner being to answer. Soon, a lady I knew from a 12 Step program popped into my mind. She is deceased and I haven’t seen her for decades. I don’t think about her often. I remember her as a wise woman who dispensed wisdom in 12-step meetings. It was quite a surprise to have her visit my meditation. She dispensed wisdom to me. She said, “I can’t, He can, I think I’ll let Him.”

I took this to mean, “Let go, Let God.” I did. I released my fear and came to believe that my Inner Being could do what I cannot. And so, the night before the race, I prepped my drinks and drop bags. I taped my toes and laid out my clothes. I went to bed early and woke up at 1:30 in the morning. The alarm wasn’t until 3:30, so I read a book. I was eager to go to the race. After I got up, I drank some coffee and ate a little. Then jumped in the car and drove an hour to the race.

All went well. I arrived in plenty of time and the race started at 6:30. It wasn’t really that cool for the morning low. I decided to jog as long as I could, to get in as many miles as I could, before the heat caught up to me, and I’d have to add in walk breaks. It turns out that I jogged up to about mile 18. I felt really good about these miles. At that point, however, it was getting hot so I added walk breaks to manage my heat stress.

I drank about one liter of Super Fuel (by Skratch) every 6 miles. Because of this, I got plenty of calories and felt really good the whole race. I also drank two packets of Pedialyte and took four Endurolyte salt tablets. I ate one gel and three Skratch bars. I had to stop at the porta-potties at every aid station every 6 miles, which means I was properly hydrated. But I took a lot of time in each aid station too. I am incredibly happy with my moving time of 7 hours and 5 minutes. I loved the ribbon and belt buckle we got as finisher awards.

The next day, I was tired but nothing injured. I want to complete a 50 mile race in two months. I now believe that I am capable of completing 50 miles, however slowly. For this 50k, I don’t think I entered the pain cave like I did last April when I did a 50k on the same course. I did many more training miles leading up to this race.

The next day. I found myself also asking myself why I do these ultramarathons. I don’t think it is about accomplishment, because that feeling is so fleeting. I don’t think it is about ego, because no ego can maintain the momentum needed to train for and finish such a race. I think it has to do with my spiritual nature. These experiences have a spiritual component that I appreciate. My life is a spiritual experience. My life doesn’t have a purpose. My life is just existing and aligning with The Greater Consciousness.

Don’t look like I’m 63 in either of these photos.


A Tale of Two Dogs

This post is a story, a fable of the Universe. This story is an analogy, a display of my metaphysical reality. In a story of two dogs, I found my own behavior and how it should change if I want to receive good things from the Universe. I got this story from a YouTube video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p14efOyweM)

Two stray dogs were lost out in the Colorado wilderness. One dog was a little bit older. One dog was a big puppy. Two nice people, a couple, were camping in the area. The couple saw the dogs and stopped their car. The puppy comes over, just like puppies do, licking and wanting a pat. The puppy slurps down a piece of salami. The older dog is afraid, too afraid to come near and get a piece of salami. The older dog gets too frightened and runs off into the bushes. The puppy jumps in the car and gets driven off to a wonderful new home. (Yes, start crying at this point at how lucky that puppy is).

My point? When the Universe answers your prayer with an unexpected handout, act like the puppy and not the older dog. Get in the car. Sure, life has beaten me up a bit, but it is not too late for me to receive a miracle. I need to put aside my fear or arrogance and accept the gifts. The gifts come, but it is up to me to try to act like the puppy. I should just jump in the car and get driven off into the wonderful new situation available to me. Be humble. Receive the surprise. Allow the miracle. You never know when some other person will stop and offer to help. Take it.

Charlie Salami

It’s Great to be Alive

That is what I said to myself as I finished my run today. It was sunny, but not humid. 15.4 miles. I carried a pack with a liter and a half. I jogged through a forest. I felt awesome. (YouTube video linked under the picture.)

My 50k (31 mile) race is in two weeks. So far this month I’ve covered over 250 miles, 4 long runs, weights almost every day. I love living the life of a professional athlete. Yes, since quitting my part time job I’ve gone full on athlete. I love it. This is truly doing what I want when I want: training for long races. I just drank a green smoothie. That helps alot too.

I am dreaming. I found out about a running tour of Mont Blanc, in the French Alps. It is definitely on my bucket list, 2023.

Training for Ultra

Sunday two weeks ago, I was listening to an Abraham Hicks CD. Abraham said, “quit picking fights with yourself.” Somehow at that moment, my energy shifted. I had a moment of clarity regarding a fight I was having with myself. I know what I want to do with my life and I was suddenly able to do it. I immediately quit my part-time cashier job and focused all my energy on training for ultra marathons. The S&P 500 went up. My life expanded.

For the past two weeks, I’ve achieved 90 miles per week in jogging and walking plus an average of 20 minutes a day of strength training. Even some cross-training on exercise machines has been accomplished. No wonder I spent part of the afternoon laying on the bed, digesting food and reading books.

Every morning, for two hours, I study philosophy. I’ve recently been heavily interested in Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Plato plus Descartes plus NASA have given me an equation for the operation of the universe and the meaning of life. Yeah, I won’t bore you with the details of universal microwaves and folded dodecahedrons.

I always wanted to be an athlete and a scholar. This is what life looks like for such a person.

In 3 weeks, I have a 50k (31 mile) race. Barring a heat wave, I am ready to go. I am better trained than I was last April when I did the same course. But the real goal of this fall is a 50-mile race in October. The 90-mile weeks are really aimed at this. In the 50k race, I will be the oldest entrant. In the October race, some people my age will be doing 100 miles. I have yet to figure out that mental challenge.

I was jogging around a small park in Missouri, wondering when I would stop for the day. Other people were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Other runners were touring Mont Blanc. All of us were expressing the human need to expand; and not the chain of pain that most people drag around with them. I’m glad I’m a runner.

Unlabeled: An Essay on Radical Feminism

Thesis: I am not gender non-conforming but a radical feminist. There is a difference. The first is a negative label given to us by the trans movement. The second expresses a feminine ethos of expanding the envelope of what it means to be a woman. However, both of these are labels. Be who you are without society’s label.

In 1972, Helen Reddy was belting out “I am woman, hear me roar…” I was thirteen. I still remember that song. I went on to study engineering and have a career as an engineer. I was smarter than the boys. I didn’t marry or have kids. I more or less continued on with life as a well-funded single woman. I didn’t take up the stereo-typed life of a mainstream woman: married, kids, job, house in the suburbs, debt, etc. I never conformed to the stereotypical female lifestyle.

Along comes 2016 (I was 57) and Caitlyn Jenner comes out as trans. I hadn’t thought about trans-gender until that point. Suddenly, I wondered if that was what was wrong with me. After much soul searching I knew for a fact that I didn’t want to be a man. But I’m still wearing boy’s Levis and no makeup and getting called “sir” pretty often.

As a result of the LGBTQ+ movement, this new terminology and labeling have emerged. I suppose I could call myself gender-nonconforming, or AKA genderqueer. What a derogatory label to put on oneself. I’ve ever since been hateful towards trans-women because they are not women and in fact downgrading the power of the true feminine. A woman’s biology is what it is and no man can claim it just by taking hormones or having surgery.

Oh well. If you are Q then, eff it. Go on with life.

However, I am also a meditator and a person in connection with my higher self. And a person who more and more loves the inner child or true self who came to be on the planet. My higher self loves me and doesn’t think of me as queer at all. This morning, I was writing in my journal and then I meditated and then I wrote in my journal some more. Suddenly the words “Radical feminist” came into my mind, out of nowhere. And suddenly I felt my life re-framed and transformed. I’m NOT some queer gender non-conforming person. I’m a radical feminist. I’m a powerful example of expanding the type of life available to a woman.

I fully accept my female biology and my life outside the gender box. Sing along with me.

Helen Reddy, I Am Woman Lyrics:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

Oh yes I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Race Report

First of all, I did a really great job of running a marathon. Second of all, the cabin sucked. Driving went fine.

I drove from Kansas City to Fulton Illinois, directly to the race course on the day before the race. I wanted to make sure I knew where the course was. I met Clint and Tedford there, so I knew I had the right place. Then I proceeded to the campground.

I think I realized from the instant I first walked into the cabin that I didn’t like it. Mostly because it was dark inside (no windows) with poor lighting. The air conditioner was very noisy. The porch might have been nice to sit on but it was in the sun, so too hot to sit there. I put my chair in the shade in the grass and found it very buggy. The shower house was dark also, though it did have real toilets. The camping area only had a pit toilet with no light or door. During the night, I found my sleeping situation not comfortable, being too hot or too cold depending on if the AC was on. The AC kept waking me up. I found myself peeing in a plastic tub I brought for that purpose, but still, it was awkward and made me wonder what the hell I was doing there.

I got up around 3:30 to prepare to drive to the race which started at 5. I found myself with the phone, looking at hotel rooms in nearby Clinton Iowa. I was realizing that it was an impossible task to recover from a full marathon in that cabin and be ready to go to a 5 am race the next morning. There was no way I could relax and re-hydrate in that cabin. As well, it would take extra time to pack up my mountain of stuff in the morning.

I drove to the race. After parking, I immediately took out my phone and booked a room at the Hampton Inn for that night. This was very fortuitous. It meant that I could relax and run my marathon knowing I would have a shower and a bed waiting for me afterward. It also meant that I would finish my race because I had already paid for the hotel room. I had nowhere to go so I might as well run 26 miles. My mind bought into this perspective and I had a great race. There was a cool breeze coming in from the north, keeping the weather mostly cool. I loved it. It was the first time in awhile that I ran in joy and not in wanting to quit. The 26 miles went by easily and fast.

Video on Day 1: https://youtu.be/ICSs3vhzAIo

Windmill along the course, Day 1
Riverboat on the Mississippi, Day 1

I finished the race in 5:57 by my Garmin, which didn’t include pit stops. I jogged most of the first 20 miles. Very happy with that.

After the race, I drove to the campground, packed up my stuff and checked into the Hampton Inn. The AC in the room was quiet! The room was clean. I showered. I began to re-hydrate with a real bathroom nearby, not having to pee in a cup (like at the cabin). I felt like a queen in my hotel room.

Day 2: The racing company gives you the same medal no matter what distance you do and you can switch distances after the race starts. I knew I didn’t plan to go more than 13 miles for a half marathon. I started jogging. After 5.5 miles I realized that my legs were tired and I didn’t want to push them. So I finished off a 10k and collected my medal. The sunrise was worth getting out of bed for.

Sunrise, Mississippi River, Day 2

I am extremely pleased that I had enough positive mental attitude to enjoy a full marathon. I am entered in a 50k in 6 weeks and I feel optimistic about that. My training plan is to keep lifting weights and keep putting in hot miles, even if walking. I have no injuries from my marathon.

As I started heading home, west bound on I80, I noticed that there are more semi-trucks on I80 than cars. It made for a slog from Davenport to Des Moines. But as I turned south on I35, it was smooth sailing. I guess no one wants to go to Missouri!

Something New

I will be participating in a two-day endurance event next week. I decided that instead of staying in a hotel, I’d try staying in this cabin in a park. Should be different. I don’t have a habitual pattern of behavior for a cabin, so my brain will have to work harder to figure things out. The campground does have wifi, but I won’t be bringing my computer. I’ll have a paper notebook and pen. I wonder what I will spend my post race afternoons and evenings doing? Alone with my thoughts, in a cabin, by a river, with no YouTube.

The endurance events are in Iowa, 5 hours north of here. The weather looks great: not that hot. Now I only need the patience to complete the events.

I am focused on endurance events. You would think that a sixty-something woman would forget about ultramarathons, but I haven’t. I am afforded this luxury because I go slow and the events have long cutoff times. I am afforded this luxury because I cover 70 to 80 miles every week. Oh, and I do a small amount of weight lifting. In fact, I retired from my career in order to run. So I am doing it.

In real life, the people I know think that old people have to be sick or on medication; and they are sure I’ll get mine. I’m just saying that you have a choice about well-being. Choose it. As I was out running this morning, it occurred to me that I don’t play by other people’s rules. I have ripped off the virtual reality headset of American mass consciousness.

Wait, I signed up for a 50-mile race? Is that not crazy? Of course, maybe. I love shuffling into the finish line after 13 hours of jogging.

Walking is one of the 4 Ws that I live by: worth, wonder, wealth, and walking.