Another Bummer Runner

Hi everyone. Guess where I am?

I’m in Sacramento. I was supposed to run the California International Marathon today but I didn’t it. I’m injured with Achilles Tendonitis, but I’m here anyway to support Micki, my sister. She just finished her second marathon.

Woo-hoo! Way to go, Micki! Now you’re a serial marathoner, too. I’m glad I could share my addiction with someone else. 🙂

What’s that line from Grease? “If you can’t be an athlete, be an athletic supporter.” 🙂

Yep, that was me today. I was Micki’s number one cheerleader.

I got up at 4 a.m. today to help her get ready and dropped her off at the bus stop. Then I went back to bed for a few more hours.

Later in the morning after I slept in, I got dressed and I ran out to the 23 mile marker on the course to cheer on Micki. After I saw her, I would run ahead to the next aid station or mile marker and cheer her on again. Once she crossed the finish line, I found her. I congratulated her and gave her a hug, and then we walked back to the hotel room together.

My Achilles didn’t bother me today while I was running but it did once I stopped. That’s been the pattern since I’ve been fighting this injury. Achilles injuries tend to take a long time to heal. I’ve learned this from my PT and “Doctor Google.” My Achilles is healing but the process has been slow.

I’m not sure how the injury happened. It could be from me switching to lower-drop shoes, which I did a while ago. It could be that I run too many hills around my home and my running form has gotten worse, now that I sit at a desk job all day long. Or it could be that I’m working too much and then always running around after work and taking care of my husband and kids while trying to train hard. Or it could be a combination of all of the above. That’s what I suspect.

At this point I just want it to heal so I can return to running and training.

Yup, I’ve eaten another slice of humble pie. It’s a bummer but I’ll get through it.

(Remember, I’m an athletic supporter. Woo-hoo!)

Going to an out-of-town race around this time of year has become an annual, sister-bonding ritual for me and Micki. I’m still glad we did this together and that I could be there for her. Hopefully, we’ll both be running it next year.

Yes, I’m sad about this injury and not being able to race today, but I signed up for a race deferral for CIM this year, which means I plan to come back and run it in 2016, and when I do, I hope to BQ the crap out of this course. 🙂

Micki and I went out for lunch and margaritas to celebrate after she finished and they were still cold and tasty, even with my injury. I’m sure they’ll be even tastier next year when we both finish this race. Ziveli!

Here’s to healthy running in 2016!


“Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes and let’s go!”

Mileage today — Micki: 26.2 miles; Me: 6.2 miles


Me Run Pretty One Day

pamandme2015Me and my bestie running buddy Pam at the Garden of the Gods 10-Miler, June 2015

Greetings from “Run. Work. Live. Repeat” (formerly known as “Boston or Botox?”).  It’s been a long time since I posted, and yes, my title is a nod to one of my favorite authors and humorists, David Sedaris, and his book, Me Talk Pretty One Day. (The book is about is his move to France and trying to learn French.)

Here’s a quick run-down of what’s been going on with me since my last post. In January, I left the graduate teaching program I was doing. Unfortunately, I hit a wall with my student teaching placement in my second semester and was placed in a school district almost 40 miles from my home. This wasn’t going to work for me and my family so I took a deferral from the program. In the meantime, I began some soul searching (Who me, right?), and I decided to look for part-time work during the interim.  I came across a great full-time position that piqued my interest. I sent in my resume and lo and behold, the Universe (yes, capital U) threw me a U-turn. (Wouldn’t U know it?)

I interviewed for the job and I got offer the position. I’m now a staff writer in the development department (translation: fundraising) at National Jewish Health (one of the leading respiratory hospitals in the country).  It’s been a great opportunity and mission to support. (Thank you Universe for having my backside.)

OK, that’s enough shop talk. Let’s talk running.

The Universe also has a sense of humor.  When I renamed my blog — “Run. Work. Live. Repeat” a year or so ago — I had no idea I was manifesting a literal interpretation.

Since returning to work full time, here’s what my typical day looks like.

Get up at o’dark early. Run for an hour or so (or whatever is on my training schedule dictates).

Get home and walk the dog; then get ready for work.

Wake up the kids (because that’s when most civilized people rise, as opposed to running-obsessed, frenzied working mothers.)

Finish getting ready and leave.

Drive for 45 minutes. Work for 8 hours (or whatever it takes).

Get back in the car and drive for an hour-plus (commute always takes longer returning home; don’t know why).

Get dinner on and help the kids with homework and/or chauffeur them to after-school activities (soccer, swimming, piano).

Clean up after dinner and make lunch. Then go to bed.

Get up at o’dark early the next day and repeat the entire sequence until the weekend arrives.

Yes, indeed, I now make the Energizer Bunny look like a freakin’ slacker.

Run. Work. Live. Repeat.

After working from home for many years, my new normal has been challenging and much like learning a new language (Me Talk Pretty One Day?).

Course á pied? Oui?

Some days, I am so tired that I miss my workouts altogether or I end up running in the evening instead of the morning, which jumbles everything to heck.

I’m managing though and still running a fair amount.

Do I like my new working life? Yes, for the most part. It’s rewarding.

Do I like what it’s done to my running and family life? Well, not always but sometimes you gotta put on your big girl panties.

C’est la vie.

I like my coworkers (they are warm and kind) and the mission of the hospital (it’s compelling and I get to do some cool stuff).

I don’t care much for plopping my butt in traffic for almost two hours a day (Who in his right mind does?) but I don’t have other choices there. (There’s no convenient public transportation near my workplace.)

I’ve often said that life and running mirror each other. Marathon training has shown me that I can rise to what’s needed. My “new normal” is a case and point. Is the journey without bumps? No, but I’m working on it.

Me … Run Pretty …  One Day …

When I consider all that I am juggling, I think I’m doing alright.

My next marathon is in December and I’m gearing up for it as I write this. I’m not sure how I will make it happen but I don’t need to know everything yet. I’m running steady and taking it one day at a time.

That’s it for now. I will honestly make an effort to write sooner and not let so much time lapse again (sigh).

Until then … I’m not searching for my fierce anymore … I am living it.

I hope you are, too. 🙂


“Aging is inevitable but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes and let’s go!”

Mileage today: 5

Mileage for 2015: Guesstimate 1,000+ (Gotta catch up on my log, too, Sigh.)

P.S. If you need a good laugh and read, and aren’t easily offended, I recommend “Me Talk Pretty One Day” (David Sedaris). He’s deliriously funny.






Define your “fierce” in 2015

“Tarzan” and “Jane” and I can’t get enough of “Cutthroat Kitchen.”  It’s a show on the Food Network where the chefs compete against each other and try to derail one another with sabotages. On last night’s episode, for example, one chef had to do all her food prep in a La-Z-Boy recliner.  I love the idea behind the show: Can you succeed no matter what’s thrown at you?  I believe so, although sometimes you have to redefine your definition of “success.”

A few weeks ago I started to run the California International Marathon but I didn’t finish.  Like those crazy cooks on “Cutthroat Kitchen,” I, too, was handed sabotage on race day — Tarzan’s (my son’s) stomach bug. He was sick on Monday; my husband got it Thursday; and it hit me inconveniently Sunday in Sacramento.  I almost never stop for Porta Potties during races but by Mile 8, I knew I was in trouble.  I was in pain and the potty line at the Mile 8 aid station practically stretched back to San Francisco!

I’m not sure how I held it together between miles 8 and 9, but I did. During that time I frantically searched for anywhere discreet to pull off.  Just after mile 9 I spotted a gas station and I made a dash for it.  I won’t go into the details but let’s just say nothing good ever happens or ends in a gas station bathroom.

Clammy, green and sick, I faced a hard choice in that dirty, smelly stall: Should I keep going, knowing that my race goal was slipping and I would likely get sicker by the mile, or should I stop in hopes of salvaging the bigger picture?  I choose the latter.  Disappointment does not begin to define my feelings at that moment or even now.  I had kicked butt in training but now bad luck had kicked me back.

I’ve trained for and run many races and I’ve learned this: You can train hard and plan well, and yet there are still two things that can “sabotage” your race day goals: 1) The weather; and 2) Injury or sickness.  I won’t dwell on happened to me at CIM.  I’ll simply chalk it up to experience and move on. I read a quotation by Jilliam Michaels recently that said something like, “a bad day for the ego is often a good day for the soul.”  That is how I am treating my lost race goals in Sacramento. I still made it to Mile 9 under bad circumstances.

I mentioned earlier that sometimes you have to redefine success for yourself so here’s my truth now.  I’m in my late 40s and for the past several months I’ve been running 50-55 miles a week consistently and hitting my interim goals extremely well along the way. To me, that is a measure of success no one or no thing or circumstance can take away from me. Dec. 7, 2014, just wasn’t “my day” but today and tomorrow will be.  There will be more races and successes for me in my future.

Right before I ran CIM someone who’s coached me recently and who I consider a good friend gave me this sound advice: Be fierce and go after what you love and want in this crazy world.  I have thought about those words a lot in the last few weeks and here’s more of my truth. I’m going to go back to writing about the things I like and what I hope inspires you, too — the everyday trials and tribulations most of us face in training, running, parenting and in life. I’ll also return to writing profiles about other midlife marathoners who’ve qualified for Boston before like me.

My goal for 2015 is finding and protecting my fierce, whether it’s in running, in writing or in life. I can assure you, nothing, not even a stomach bug, will sabotage my success in doing so in the long run.  Sometimes, whether it’s in “Cutthroat Kitchen” or in life you have to be fierce, but not to please others, but because the fire and passion resides within you.

The New Year, 2015, is around the corner. Bring on fierce!


“Aging is inevitable but growing old is a choice. Lace you your shoes and let’s go!”

Mileage today: 18: Mileage for 2014: 1819.

Time to ‘get my marathon on’

chainsaw jugglingDo you ever feel like you’re juggling chainsaws? Got so much going on you’re afraid of slipping up? I know the feeling …

Sunday is The California International Marathon.  I’m also a week away from completing my first semester in graduate school.  It’s gone fast and now it’s time to get my marathon on. Woo-hoo!

My last day of class will be two days after I get back from Sacramento.  I have two papers due between now and then.  (That’s why you haven’t been hearing from me lately.)

A lot has changed for me since December 2009 — the first time I ran CIM and qualified for Boston. My kids were ages 7 and 3; I just hit my 40s; and I was a full-time mom/part-time professional writer. Today, I’m a grad student; “Tarzan” and “Jane” are 8 and 12; and I’m five years older, which my body reminds me of more than I like.

equinox2I have never been one to shrink away from challenges — hence my chainsaw metaphor.  I believe as we grow older we’re often called upon to evolve.  Sometimes changes are thrust upon us and other times we choose them.  After all, what choices do we really have? We can’t go backward, even if we want to, so forward we go. It’s either that or stay put.  I’ve chosen my current path and I have no regrets.

It’s not easy “juggling chainsaws”: Training for marathons, raising your kids and changing careers in midlife but so far I haven’t caught an edge.  I consider that a success and it makes me happy.

I’ve also made this decision: I plan to take a break from marathon racing while I finish out the rest of grad school, which is two more semesters (spring and fall).  I would like to focus on shorter distances and speed during that time. I will begin student teaching two days a week, plus take four classes, starting in January.  My last semester will include full-time student teaching.  Even though I hope to BQ again at CIM this Sunday, I think my life will get even crazier in the coming months.  I’m grateful that the grad program I’m in has been gradual before throwing us into the classroom. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for me and my family otherwise. Perhaps like juggling chainsaws one-handed?

Once I’m in the classroom I think it’ll be a marathon of its own until I get my teacher’s legs steady beneath me. That’s why I’m creating this break for myself.  I also can’t lie.  I love running short, fast and hard — and I’m better at it, too. I’m looking forward to switching gears and I think it’ll help me keep my sanity during the interim.

If you want to follow my progress on Sunday here’s a link to the.CIM athlete tracker.  Please send me positive vibes.

I hear the chainsaws buzzing and I have to write those papers so I’m signing off now.  I’ll let you know how Sunday goes.  Keep those hands steady and my mind focused  I can do this. 🙂


“Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!”

Mileage today: 3;  Mileage for 2014:  1,677

A Medal for Your Thoughts?

Down in the basement of my house is where I keep my “wall of fame.”  It’s a medal rack with several of my marathon finisher medals, including Boston.  If I am counting right, I’ve done 14. California International Marathon next month will be my 15th.  It doesn’t include my half marathon finishes, which I’ve lost count of but estimate at 50-plus. I’ve done at least a couple of those each year for the past 20 years.

The other day a friend posed this question on Facebook: Do you think 5K and 10K races  should give race finisher medals, too?  To give you perspective: Most half marathon and marathons races today give participants finishers’ medals. Some shorter distance races do but not all.

The response to my friend’s question was all over the board.  Many people felt strongly that all races should give finishers’ medals and others did not for various reasons. There was discussion about how most half marathons and marathons give them but other distances don’t. Another argument followed the lines of how kids get trophies for finishing soccer seasons these days, no matter how they played or placed in their leagues. Yet another thread talked about how for some people finishing a 5K or 10K is the equivalent of their marathon and they wanted their finisher medals, too.

To be honest I had never thought about the subject until that day and I had no idea it meant so much to people.  It makes sense to me, however, in retrospect.  All of us want to feel validated and cared for — perhaps even more so in these days of nonstop social media where everyone seems to be seeking another  Facebook “thumbs up.”  It’s also nice having something to show for your efforts.  I can see where having a symbol means a lot.

My friend wrote on her post that she felt that races have become bloated (and I would add, pricey) these days. I’ve been racing for 25 years and I can remember when entry fees were cheaper and you got simple cotton T-shirts and perhaps a few snacks afterward for your money. Back then, the only time I got a medal or anything more was if I placed in my age group (rare but it did happen occasionally) or won a raffle prize.

Pick up any Runner’s World or Competitor magazines today and you’ll find slick,multicolor spreads advertising Rock and Roll Marathons across the country. It costs any where from $100-$150 to register for them; Boston entry is $175; and New York reigns as the Big Apple of pricing, to: $216-$255.  My point is, it’s not cheap to race anymore and these races incorporate a lot more today: tech tees, goody bags, race expos and of course, the finishers’ bling.  I don’t think the bling costs race organizers much to add on as they buy them in bulk, but they’ve become great marketing and another way to justify the costs.

Most of the time I run races because I simply want to do them.  The bling or schwag has little to do with my motivation, although it’s fun to get cool or usual stuff.  A few years ago I ran the Pocatello (Idaho) Half and they gave out a 5-pound bag of potatoes.  At that Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco you get you a Tiffany’s necklace handed to you from a guy wearing a tuxedo at the finish line.

I confess, my Boston medal means more to me than the others because of how hard I worked for it.  The night we flew out of Boston to head home, I almost lost it.  We were stranded in the Louisville, Kentucky, airport and forced to evacuate our plane because of a tornado. We ended up spending a few hours in a tornado shelter at the airport and because of how quickly we were rushed out of the plane with two small children, I didn’t get a chance to grab my medal and take it with me. (It was in my carry-on, which we weren’t allowed to take with us during the evacuation.)  Eventually we were let back on our original plane after the tornado had passed and I got my carry-on back.

boston1I worked hard to earn my bling with my friend Pam at the Boston Marathon, April 2011.

My point is, I can see how bling becomes a way to motivate runners, even if it’s not what tops my list.  I’ve known several friends who’ve done ultra races and picked ones that included belt buckles.  I don’t blame them.  This past weekend as I was completing a 20-mile training run for CIM and it was snowing in Denver I was using every mental trick I had to keep going.  When you train hard, no matter your distance, you use whatever you need to succeed.

bearchaseMy friend Paula and I showing off our hard-earned bling at the Bear Chase 50K in Colorado, Sept. 2012.

What do you think?  Would you run for bling? Do you already? And do you think more races such as the 5Ks and 10Ks should include them?

No matter what distance you run, short or long, or whether you do it slow or fast, I also think you should take pride in your hard work and accomplishments.  My point is to encourage running, and a healthly and positive attitude.  If a race perk does it for you, then I say, “Bling it on!”



“Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace your shoes, and let’s go!”

Today is a cross-training day; 1,200 meter swim; Mileage for 2014: 1,565.

Running missteps and “shouldering” on

Diving for home plate is a great idea when you’re a pro baseball player and you’re aiming to score the winning run to clench the World Series at the bottom of the ninth with two outs.

It’s a really bad idea, however, when you’re a middle-aged woman running the streets of your neighborhood one day and you trip and it’s how you land, smack with your left arm outstretch overhead and flat before you can catch yourself.

Yes, this is what I did back in July, just as I was getting ready to join my friend Pam as a pacer for the Vermont 100.  About a week and a half before her race I fell and landed on my left shoulder. I tore my rotator cuff and I had to take almost two weeks off running, plus I had to cancel on being a pacer for her race, which I was really looking forward to doing. The way I landed and fell, I still don’t know how I didn’t hit my head as well, which would have been worse. A guardian angel must have been watching out for me.

My shoulder injury was a first — it was running related and yet had nothing to do with my legs or lower body. Still, it has affected me and my running.  I had to ease back into running and my mileage as my shoulder was tender those first few weeks when I ran. Initially, the worst part of the injury was trying to wash my hair or pull off a jog bra over head. It also made upper body cross training almost impossible.

I’ve been in physical therapy for a few months now and I’m happy to report that I am almost back to full use of my left arm and shoulder, with minor or little discomfort, but it’s taken a loooooong time to heal, about three months now.

The whole episode has taught me many lessons: Pay attention when you’re running, even on your everyday route. Don’t take your health for granted because you never know when something bad can happen. Running uses more than just your legs — you need your whole body to cooperate and do well. You gotta take good care of yourself. Healing takes patience and lots of time, especially as you get older. Our bodies change, whether want them to or like it or not.

I’m not completely out of the woods yet, and I’ve noticed I get vertigo easier lately.  A few times since my accident I’ve caught myself almost tripping again, especially as I get tired over the weeks from my collective training. During the summer I took my son to a local amusement park and I tried to ride some of the big, crazy rides with him and I found myself struggling. I never got motion sick when I was younger and I used to love that stuff, but now I can’t do it anymore or have to be more cautious if I do.

This past week I swam for the first time and I have progressed with physical therapy to doing modified planks and only needed to visit my therapist every two weeks.  I am healing and grateful for it, but I also have no illusions. I’m going to have be careful with that shoulder from now on, probably for the rest of my life, so as not set it off again or re-injury it. I was lucky to not need surgical repair for it. Human beings are simply not built for “diving for plate” on concrete surfaces, even midlife ninjas like myself. No “Run. Fall, Heal, Repeat,”  is needed in my world and I hope I have filled my quota for awhile, thank you very much.

My training, despite the craziness of my mishap, is going well and so is the rest of life.  My husband has been participating in bike rides and races. My kids are getting bigger and more independent and they are doing well in school and their activities. I’m now a grad student at the UC Denver Urban Community Teacher Education program and I’m enjoying it, learning a lot and doing well. I’m running and training well, too. Here’s proof. In September I did the Equinox Half Marathon in Fort Collins, Colorado, as a training pace run for my next marathon, the California International Marathon.

The Equinox race is well organized and I loved the scenery. My only complaint would be that it takes place on road in Poudre Canyon and it’s kept open to traffic, which means you can only run on one side, you have to dodge cars, and it tends to be sloped heavily.  My hips didn’t care for the sloping/uneven pavement. Overall, however, it’s a good local race for Coloradans.

equinox2Me at the Equinox Half Marathon, Fort Collins, Colorado

Resilience comes in all forms — mental, physical and emotional.  While I would rather not repeat my shoulder injury I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and looking forward to running in Sacramento in December.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.


“Aging is inevitable, but growing older is a choice. Lace up your shoes and let’s go!”

Today is a rest day; Mileage for 2014: 1,338




Run “hoppy”

Last week a friend of mine and blogger, Caolan MacMahon (, nominated me to participate in a “blog hop.” The idea behind the “hop” is to tell people more about your writing style, who you are, why you write and then pay it forward by nominating two more bloggers in your post. Since I haven’t been blogging as much for a while now but needed motivation I said “yes” to her offer. Below are my answers along with nominations.


caolanPictured above: Caolan MacMahon, who nominated me for this blog hop.
(Thanks Caolan!)

  1. What am I working on?

My life has changed a lot since I first start this blog. For starters I changed the name from “Boston or Botox?” to “Run. Work. Live. Repeat.” to reflect who I am today. I’m still a mom, runner and writer, but as of last month I started grad school. I am pursuing my master’s degree in education and a license to become an English teacher, secondary education. I’m writing a lot of papers for school and I’ve learned to use Jing to create videos and oral presentations. I still blog on occasion. (I’m using this prod to get me more regular at it again.) I also continue to write on my own – mostly essays and short stories, and I’ve returned to writing a novel I’ve had in the works.

When I’m not focused on school work or creative writing I spend time with my family or run. I’m training for the California International Marathon in December and currently averaging about 50 miles of running each week.

TucsonMaraMe, shown running at the Tucson Marathon, December 2013

My kids, aka, “Tarzan and Jane” (their blog pseudonyms), ages 8 and 11, still keep me on toes.  I help them with their schoolwork; volunteer at their school and as a Girl Scout leader, and chauffeur them to soccer and swim team practices and meets. My husband, kids and I like to hike and bike ride in the summer and ski in the winter. We also enjoy spending time with our extended family and our friends.  Life is never dull and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  🙂

  1. How does my work differ from others in my genre?

I started this blog after being published in the Runner’s World Other Voices blog. My original essay was “Boston or Botox? Beating Midlife with 42 Kilometers for 42 Years.”  It’s a humor piece about how I became a marathoner and pursed a Boston Marathon qualifying time in my 40s. After it was published I started a running blog with the same name, “Boston or Botox?”  I recently renamed it “Run. Work. Live. Repeat” because it was time for both me and writing to expand.  I was a print journalist and now I’m becoming a writer and a teacher.

lastrockyA screenshot of The Rocky Mountain News from
I used to work for The Rocky. The newspaper folded in February 2009.

My writing background: Journalism, pre-digital era. I am a former presentation editor for The (Denver) Rocky Mountain News.  I graduated from Indiana University (Ernie Pyle School of Journalism) and I was trained as an old school print journalist so my blog started out more column-like with essays compared to other bloggers. My focus was midlife inspiration through running, especially marathons and how Boston had become a hot commodity for midlife women runners (ages 40+). I did a series of Boston Marathon profiles and that’s how I met Caolan — I wrote about her. (I’m thinking of bringing back those profiles, along side with those of midlife men who’ve qualified for Boston.). Writing those profiles was a lot of fun and I made some great friendships through them. I’ve also written about my training and juggling motherhood. I’ve chronicled my children’s growth (“Tarzan and Jane”) and my own personal growth and reflections, too.  When I ran the Boston Marathon in 2011 I got to write about it.  My Boston Marathon experience felt like being Bon Jovi in running shoes for 26.2 (or what I imagine he must feel like giving a concert).  The energy was amazing — once in a life. The people of Boston welcome marathoners each Patriots’ Day with opened arms and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it since.

cropped-bib.jpgMy Boston Marathon race bib, which was signed by Kathrine Switzer — the first woman to run and finish the Boston Marathon wearing an official race bib. She did it in 1967.

  1. Why do I write?

I write because I love writing and it’s always been a part of me. I’ve always had an offbeat, creative streak, even when I was a kid. When I got to high school, I signed up for a journalism class the first semester of my freshman year and I took to it like a duck to water. I loved everything about journalism clases right away – reporting, writing, photography, layout and design. Back then it was done on paper; we used typewriters and pica poles and proportion wheels for scaling photos. I was good at it, too.  By the time I was a senior I was the managing editor of my high school newspaper. The summer before I graduated I was nominated by my journalism teacher, Mrs. Gillard, to go to high school journalism institute at Indiana University. At that time, IU was among the top 10 journalism programs in the country.  My experience that week sealed the deal. The next year I started journalism school at IU.   By the time I graduated and left Bloomington, Indiana four years later I had completed a double major in journalism and Germanic Studies.

After college I worked both in newspapers (The Santa Fe New Mexican, The Rocky Mountain News) and in Corporate America (a teacher editor at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Hewlett-Packard). I’ve also worked as a marketing copywriter for a website design and SEO company for the last few years.

  1. How does my writing process work?

The process I use depends on the type of writing I am doing. For example, with my school work or at a job, I schedule time into my calendar and work during those time slots to meet my deadlines. This keeps me from procrastinating.  If I’m blogging or creative writing, my process is more organic. I tend to go with the flow and write when creative inspiration hits me. Sometimes it takes a half hour to do; other times I will write for hours, absorbed in the creativity with the characters or scenes I’m creating or in the essays or stories that I am writing.

I keep what I call a “dog bones” file. When I get an idea but don’t have the time to flesh it out, I jot down the idea as a snippet of paper and bury it for later. Then when I have more time I go back to the idea and work on it.

Lately I have started to schedule time into my day to work on the novel because otherwise, it’s easy for me to set it down and not get back to it. I think writing and the process of writing is much running and marathon training. You often get what you put into it and if you want to get better at it, you need to be consistent, not give up, and work hard at improving.


Thank you again to Caolan for choosing me to do this and for giving me a needed push in my writing and running. (Caolan also happens to be a terrific coach and she’s RRCA, USATF and Lydiard certified.)

My blog hop nominations are Ryan Anderson, and Lisa Roehn-Gensel,

ryanaRyan, who lives in Boise, Idaho, is an incredible runner who lost 135 pounds in 11 months in his fitness journey before becoming a marathoner. He then became a Boston qualifier and an ultrarunner. We met through the

finish-joyLisa, who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, is also a marathoner who qualified for Boston around the same time that I did (a few years back). She didn’t start running until after she had kids and turned 40. She and I met through mutual friends.

Both Ryan and Lisa are inspirational runners and bloggers and I think you’ll enjoy their stories so I encourage you to visit their blogs, too.

Keep up the great work, Lisa and Ryan, and I look forward to your blog hops, too.


“Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes and let’s go!”

Mileage today: 6; Mileage for 2014: 1,077

The Mount Evans Ascent and “Duct Tape” running

mount evans 032mtevans2Some races we run to fulfill dreams and others to cross off bucket lists. Then there are those we do just because they seem like a good idea at the time but they teach us or show us something else about ourselves or our character. That’s how the Mount Evans Ascent on June 15th, turned out for me. It was also my first 14er in Colorado and it proved to me that I could keep going even when my fear of height kicked in.

I didn’t sign up for Mount Evans to prove anything to myself or anyone else. I did it because I saw a post on in from a Facebook friend of mine, Kathy ( She signed up for it and invited others to join her.

“Share in the misery,” she cajoled, referring to hard it is climb 14ers, let alone race them.

I’m not sure if she thought many people would take her up on it, and  and least of all me, but I did sign up thanks to her post. What can i say? It felt like a triple-dog dare from “A Christmas Story.” What was the worst that could happen? Not making it to the summit or getting my tongue frozen to a rock at the top?

Psssshaw! I can do this, I thought.

schwartz2Photo credit:

“Run” is a relative term when it comes to scaling almost 4,000 vertical feet, and starting at about 10,000 feet.  Organizers bill this event as “America’s Highest Road Race” with “road” being the operative word. It traverses pavement the entire way. It starts at Echo Lake (10,800 feet), located at the intersection of Hwy. 103 (Squaw Pass Rd.) and Hwy. 5 (Mount Evans Road). From there, the course climbs for 14.5 miles until you almost reach the summit of Mount Evans, 14,264 foot. I say “almost” because after you cross the finish line you have to climb another 150 feet to reach the true top of Mount Evans. Because it’s a precipitous spot organizers don’t stage the finish there.

In my estimate only true mountain goats  can “run” the entire way during this race.


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Most of us mere mortals ran, walked,  power hiked and jogged in spurts at Mount Evans — the idea being to just keep putting one foot in front of the other any way we could and this included me.

I’m not ashamed to admit it — I’m neither a mountain goat nor Scott Jurek when it comes to mountain running. I I did the best I could with my limited vertical training I got in beforehad and the rest I chalked up to  “Duct Tape thinking” to power me through it. (Stay with me. I’ll explain more as I go.)

Sure, in the several weeks leading up to Mount Evans I ran lots of hills and lifted weights, but I never got a chance to run the road itself beforehand. Park officials usually don’t open it until after Memorial Day and even then, it’s weather permitting. I also I never got to train above 10,000 feet before the race, which I believe would have been better. I live at 6,000 feet and I did run Mount Falcon (about 2,000 feet of climbing and close to an 8,000-foot summit) and other trail runs, but that was it.

The week before the race the road opened to the public and I drove it with my husband and son.The first section was wooded and secluded and then it opened up. From there it snaked back and forth, quite exposed, until the summit. Most of the sections have few or no guardrails to them. If your car goes astray, you can plummet off the side thousands of feet.

As we drove up, my heart began racing and breathing became shall. Soon I was hyperventilating.

“Did I ever tell you I’m afraid of heights?” I said to my husband as we reached Summit Lake — the first cut-off point for the race. “Turn around, please.”

“Seriously?” he asked. “Are you sure? Don’t you want to see the rest?

“NO! Get me the hell down. NOW!”

My husband saw me gripping the door handle and terror in my eyes, then obeyed.

For the next week leading up to the race I panicked, Forget my lack of ideal training. I thought, “How am I going to get through this?”

That’s when I remembered a trip I took to Eastern Europe a few decades back and all the Duct tape there and came up with a strategy.


Back in the 1980s my sister and I visited my parents’ homeland. I didn’t know it at the time but it was a trip of a lifetime and one that would never be repeated. Many of the places I saw have either been destroyed or changed by the civil wars that took place in the Balkans during the 1990s.

My fondest memories are of the many people who helped us while were there (we speak the language). Many of them offered to drive us places in their cars. We were in a Communist country at the time and because of the circumstances not everyone owned a car. Most of the time they had these cars in the proverbial sense. Sure, they had steering wheels and tires, but most of the time they were falling apart — broken mirrors, door handles, doors themselves and windshields, Almost everyone we encountered had used Duct tape to keep their vehicle or something else less than ideal intact in some form and it worked for me

It occurred to me that Duct tape and “Duct tape thinking” was the way they carried on despite being dealt a difficult hand. It did not stop them living life or enjoying it as best they could. It was a valuable lesson to be learned.


In the days leading up the race I hedged back and forth. “Should I run it? Should I drop out of the race and not do it? How am I going to do this? That view, those drop-offs that road — I’m so scared  of it.”

I finally decided I need to strap on some Duct tape thinking myself and just get through it as best I could.

The day of the race  I met up with a great group of Columbine friends to carpool up and hang out with — Tina, Janet, Melissa, Jessica and Morriah

Here are pictures of us at the start and then at the summit, too

mount evans 030mount evans 031I credit them for helping me through my fear of heights and making it to the top, particularly Morriah. We ran from the start to Summit Lake together and then I took off a bit faster from there.

Yes, I still had experienced serious fear and vertigo during Mount Evans but being with Morriah — getting to know her, having someone to talk to, the good company —was a godsend. Thank you Morriah!

The race itself was both spectacular and scary. The first four miles I ran a lot of it. Then the road opened and so did the winds at gusts of 40 mph plus. This added to my vertigo so I kept my eyes on this horizon and put one foot in front of the other. I took in the alpine scenery when I could.

Morriah and I stuck together most of the way until we got to the first cut-off point for the race. (You have to get to Summit Lake in 2 hours and 45 minutes and the summit in 4 hours and 30 minutes or the organizers would turn you back.) You are also not allowed to run on the inside or mountainside of the road, just to left side of the yellow line or you can be disqualified. They do this because the road stays open to traffic during the race. Most of the time, the cars give you the right-of-way, but this rule also added to my anxieties and course marshals do enforce the left-side-of-the-road rule, too.

I ran and climbed up the road at a conservative pace and I felt good most of the way. I was surprised to see potholes in the road near the top, especially when we got above the tree line, but I guess in perspective it makes sense. Since the road is closed most of the year I am sure repairs are difficult to do.

The last few miles were peaceful and yet eery and lonely at the same time. The strong winds hollowed in my ears and made it colder. I tried to make conversation with a few people after Morriah and I parted but most of them didn’t want to talk. In fact, almost everyone but me wore headphones with music. My guess is they were too tired and depleted and focused on getting to the top to talk.

I had to add clothing layers and even hand-warmers inside my gloves once I got close to the summit. It was freezing!

The last few switchbacks were grueling and felt like a death march but somehow I managed. Once I got to the summit and across the finish line I grabbed my dry bag and added more clothing. As I watched other people finish I noticed some of them weaving or slurring their words — altitude sickness at play.

A few of the gals I was with had done this race before and commented on how rough the winds and conditions were this go-around. I think we were all thankfully to be done.

I don’t know if I’ll ever do Mount Evans again. Right now my thinking is that I won’t repeat it but you never know. That’s the thing about “Duct tape thinking and running” — it gets you past things you think you can’t do. Never say never.

Last week I started grad school. I am in an urban teacher licensing program and I have a feeling that a little Duct tape thinking will serve well there, too.

In the meantime though, I’ll keep on with the Duct tape running. You just never know where it will take you — even up a mountain and beyond your fears.


“Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes, and let’s go!”

Today is a rest day: Mileage for 2014: 995



Mother’s Day 5K

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …”

Oops, I almost forgot! It’s May, not December, and today is Mother’s Day, although you wouldn’t know by the snowfall we are getting at the moment in Colorado! Luckily, I did most of my weekend running yesterday and not today. That’s when my kids and I did a local 5K together. It was their Mother’s Day gift to me. They know how much running means to me.

We took all these pictures yesterday morning. It was still about 70 degrees. (That’s Colorado weather for you. If you don’t like it, blink.)

RSCN0232My daughter running to the 5K turnaround at yesterday’s race.

RSCN0233Thelma & Louise plus five kids meet again …

Don’t you just love it when things come together when you least expect it?! My kids and I had just picked up our race packets and were headed to our car to drop them off when we ran into my friend Becky and her two boys. It turns out they were running the 5K, too, but neither of us knew until we got there. How cool is that?

Becky is a runner/mom friend I’ve blogged about before. (See Iron Skillet Moms and Thelma and Louise Plus Five Kids.) Becky’s youngest son is my son’s best friend. They ended up running the whole thing together, which made it even better. It was their first 5K for both of them.

Our two families ran the whole thing together and everyone finished within a minute of each of other. (We all came in around 37 minutes.) I was pleasantly surprised at how much all the kids actually ran. I expected to be walking a lot more of it. Afterward we stuck around and enjoyed a pancake breakfast together. It was a beautiful, sunny morning (unlike today) and we had a blast. My kids even told me they want to do another 5K with me soon. Yay! More future runners in the family!

The other thing that I thought was so cool about this experience was showing my kids how healthy running can be for everyone. When you get into long distance running, it’s easy to forget that the 5K and 10K are really the backbone for everything else and these shorter races are how most of us got started. I loved talking to my kids and pointing out to them how so many different kinds of people were out with us — in all kinds of shapes and sizes and from all walks of life. I mean really, you see a lot of people out when you run a 5K — moms, dads, kids, parents pushing strollers, people with dogs, people getting in shape, uber-fit people running fast (like this one woman I spotted wearing the same Boston Marathon shirt from the year I did it), couples running together, people running slower, people walking it. It really is pretty cool when you think about it and it’s so inspiring to see so many people getting fit together. I just love that.

RSCN0230This is exactly what I mean about how great a local 5K can be. I snapped this shot of a young couple holding hands near the end. If I had to guess, I think it was her first 5K. He was talking her through it and helping her finish.

I can’t wait to do another race with my kids. I don’t know if they will ever take to it — all the running and racing and long distances — as I have but that’s OK. They don’t have to. I just hope they run and have a ton of fun along the way.

And really, isn’t that what it’s about anyway? 🙂


“Aging is inevitable but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes and let’s go!

Mileage today: 6; Mileage for 2014: 401


Throwback Thursday: Jump Around

In honor of Mother’s Day (this Sunday) here’s a blast from the past. This song always reminds me of the party scene from “Mrs. Doubtfire’ where Robin Williams dances on top of the dining room table. (FYI, this is on my iPod for when I choose to run with music along with a lot of other eclectic stuff.)

To all you mother runners out there, and everyone else, too, have a Happy Mother’s Day!  Get out this weekend, put in your miles when you can, enjoy being with your moms, and have fun!


“Aging is inevitable but growing old is a choice. Lace up your shoes and let’s go!”

Mileage today: 3; Mileage for 2014: 387