Rock ‘n’ run mama

Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Guns N Roses, Billy Idol and Madonna for running fast.

(Can you tell I’m a product of the ’80s?)

Bare Naked Ladies, Rod Stewart, Elvis and Johnny Cash for hill-climbing.

Madame Butterfly, Carmen and The Magic Flute  — pure escape and solitude.

Kitka and Kumovo Kolo — to remind me of my roots.

Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel, Santana, California Guitar, the Chieftains — just for the heck of it.

(Yes, I like the eclectic, too.)

Purists may shun running to music, but nothing provides the same pick-me-up for motivation (or distraction when the miles get tough) as jamming some tunes.

I do not run with music often because I think it’s a bad idea if you are running alone. It’s a safety hazard if you get distracted from your surrounding and you need to pay attention to who is near you.

I only “rock ‘n’ run” when I’m indoors at the gym to beat the boredom or on special occasions — to get me through the tail-end of a long race, for instance.

At the California International Marathon (CIM), where I qualified for Boston, I cranked up my iPod as a reward to myself at Mile 20 when I didn’t hit the wall. 

Madonna’s tropical La Isla Bonita  carried me into Mile 21 even though it was only 45 degrees.

Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues , as if on cue (CIM starts at Folsom and finishes in Sacramento), made it into the shuffle around Mile 24.

Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life , one of my all-time favorites, carried me through the finish line.

I’ve been told the crowds are so thick all along the course of the Boston Marathon I won’t need my iPod for inspiration.

Also, my friend Pam and I are supposed to run it together.
However, I might just have to carry it as a back-up plan in case we get separated.

Plus, mama may need do some victory head-bangin’ near Mile 26 and into Copley Place.

We’ll see …

FYI, from my last post (“The coveted jacket”) the verdict is: it ain’t easy being green, but everyone thinks I deserve my own “green monster.”  I’m getting the jacket. 

I posted that jacket blog on Facebook and the outcry that I’d even consider NOT buying it was amazing.

Thanks for all your feedback!

Coming soon: a BQ profile on a runner/social networking sensation and another on an overseas reader.


Stay tuned.


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

Mileage today: 7; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,320; Miles left to go: 450.

Pheidippides’ message ….

This past week has included step-down training for me. I’ve run fewer miles and it’s given me some much needed recovery time from higher mileage running during the previous weeks.

Step-down weeks allow your body to rebuild so ideally you can avoid injury and come back stronger.

We marathon runners are either a driven or cursed lot, depending on your perspective and penchant for your endorphin highs, so step-down work is challenging for us.  

Coaches or trainers, however, will tell you recovery or step-down work is as important as base-building in a training program.

The following humorous essay titled “Marathon” shows what happens when you ignore your body and step-down training. It came to me via my friend Cindy, who gave me this during the height of my quest to achieve a Boston qualifier last year.

The author is Simon Rich and it was originally published in Free-Range Chickens (Random House, Copyright 2008).

“Marathon” is told from the point of view of the legendary originator of the modern marathon, Pheidippides.

I think I channeled Pheidippides when I ran the Colorado Marathon in 2009 and ended up in the medical tent. Thankfully I faired better than he did, but his story exemplifies why step-down weeks are important. 




In 490 B.C., a Greek messenger named Pheidippides ran 26 miles, from Marathon to Athens, to bring the senate news of a battle. He died from exhaustion, but his memory lives on thanks to the “marathon,” a 26-mile foot race named in his honor. I thought it would be neat to bring Pheidippides to a modern-day marathon and talk to him about his awesome legacy.

Me: So, Pheidippides: What was it like to run the “first” marathon”?

Pheidippides: It was the worst experience of my life.

Me: How did that come about?

Pheidippides: My general gave the order. I begged him, “Please, don’t make me do this.” But he hardened his heart and told me, “You must.” And so I ran the distance, and it caused my death.

Me: How did you feel when you finally reached your destination?

Pheidippides: I was already on the brink of death when I entered the senate hall. I could actually feel my life slipping away. So I recited my simple message, and then, with my final breath, I prayed to the gods that no human being, be he Greek or Persian, would ever again have to experience so horrible an ordeal.

Me: Hey, here come the runners! Woooooh!

Pheidippides: Who are these people? Where are they going?

Me: From one end of New York to the other. It’s a 26-mile distance. Sound familiar?

Pheidippides: What message do they carry … and to whom?

Me: Oh, they’re not messengers.

Pheidippides: But then … who has forced them to do this?

No one. It’s like, you know, a way of testing yourself.

But surely, a general or a king has said to them, “You must do this. Do this or you will be killed.”

Me: No, they just signed up. Hey, look at that old guy with the beard! Pretty inspiring, huh? Still shuffling around after all these years.

We must rescue that man. We must save his life.

Oh, he knows what he’s doing. He probably runs this thing every year.

Is he … under a curse?



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

Mileage today: 9; Denver to Boston miles cursed  logged: 1118; Miles left to go: 652.

1,000 miles down — Merry Christmas!!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Today I crossed the 1,000-mile-mark on my log from Denver to Boston, and Santa brought me a healthy dose of endorphins on my 12-mile run.

He also left me an Adidas turquoise winter-weight running top, which I didn’t need as the temperatures were in the 50s this afternoon in Denver. (See the shorts and long sleeve I wore instead below.)


Tarzan and Jane gave me and the Dude their own Christmas gift. They let us sleep in until 7:45 a.m. Woo-hoo!!

We enjoyed a yummy breakfast of cinnamon rolls, unwrapped gifts from Santa and lounged around. Tarzan scored enough trains to be the envy of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. (Thomas the Tank Engine is his favorite.) Jane got a double bunk bed for her American Girl dolls. The Dude got outfitted in new casual duds.

It’s strange not having snow here in the ‘burbs on Christmas Day while the mountains and ski resorts, about an hour and a half way, are getting dumped on, but I am enjoying the respite from snow and cold for the moment. It makes putting in the running miles easier.

Tomorrow it will be 17 weeks until Boston. Right now I’m on track to make my goal of 1,770 miles by April 18, 2011.

It is true  — our dreams, journeys and miles all begin with a single step.

About two years ago at this time I hadn’t run a marathon in almost a dozen years. I was contemplating the idea but had no idea of where it would take me.

Look at me now.

I ran A LOT this week to top the 1,000-mile mark. It goes to show  — persistent pays.

In another post I will talk more about goals for the new year. Right now I’m grateful to be healthy, injury free and moving ahead.

The journey indeed continues with each new step. …


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

Mileage today: 12; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1002.2; Miles left to go: 767.8.

Jolly Jog … cool temps, warm friends

Wednesday I pulled a double — not with the eggnog fortunately but by running twice in one day.

I ran five miles with the Quick Chicks at 5:45 a.m. for our 12 Days of Christmas workout and then ran again, three miles, at a Jolly Jog holiday party, 7 p.m., for the Highlands Ranch Running Club . (The picture above is from the Jolly Jog. I’m the woman in the left wearing the blue headband.)

It was great fun, seeing some folks I hadn’t in awhile, running together (no watches), and enjoying the Christmas lights and good cheer.; -)

Yesterday I ran 12.5 with another friend from the Colorado Columbines . We traversed the dirt trails of the Bluffs Regional Park in Lone Tree and connected onto the Backcountry area of trails in Highlands Ranch near where I live.

It was a lot of miles in less than 30 hours, in cool temps, made all that much better in the company of warm friends.

I’m in the process of writing more profiles of Boston qualifiers. I hope to get them up as soon as I can. Given it’s the Christmas season and we are all so busy, it’s taken longer than I hoped.

Stay tuned.

Santa is coming tonight and I need to get ready.

In the next few days I will hit the 1,000 mile mark in my training — woo-hoo!

Merry Christmas, and happy trails and holidays to all!

Me and Jane at the Jolly Jog party!


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

Today is a rest day. Denver to Boston miles logged: 990.2; Left left to go: 779.8.

The 12 Days of Christmas Track Workout

Each year the Quick Chicks (the lades I meet year-round for track workouts near my house) get together for Christmas. This year we did “The 12 Days of Christmas” track workout followed by breakfast at My Favorite Muffin.

Here’s how we burned off Christmas calories today before we visited and munched on yummy treats:

  • 1200 run around the track
  • 11 jumping jacks
  • 10 X 100 run around the track
  • 9 push-ups
  • 800 run around the track
  • 7 squats
  • 600 run around the track completed by jogging the curves and skipping the straight-aways
  • 5 leap-frogs
  • 400 run around the track
  • 3 sets of lunges on both legs
  • 2 sprints up and down the stairs
  • 1 plank held for 1 minute, plus 1 cartwheel
I also did a three-mile warm-up before everyone arrived to total five miles so far. I’m going to another runners’ holiday party tonight. It will start with a group run to view holiday lights in the neighborhood so I hope to get in a few more miles. (My children will be there, too, so I’ll see if it pans out.)

Skipping the straight-aways took more energy than I thought and I hope I’m not sore tomorrow.

Also I haven’t turned a cartwheel in years. I surprised myself when I could do it at all.

I love the spirit of our group and it was fun.

If you are having trouble with your workouts this holiday season I encourage you to break it up the way we did.

Only three days left until Christmas! 

I guess that means I have to repeat the stair sprints, plank and cartwheel tomorrow and the day after. 


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

Mileage today 5 (at track) plus 3 at jolly jog party; Denver to Boston miles logged: 977.7; Miles left to go: 792.3



Mama likes combat boots

One of my favorite ways to put my mind to pasture when it needs an escape, besides running, is watching “The Biggest Loser.”

Most reality TV bores me but not “BL.” I think it’s because the contestants’ hardships are real, not fabricated solely for viewership.

Yes, some of the show’s concepts are contrived like other reality TV (getting “immunity” and the dramatic music and commercial break-away around the weigh-ins) . The contestants’ inner and outward struggles with morbid obesity aren’t.

Watching them get their health and lives back is miraculous.    

On the most recent episode the producers sent the contestants to U.S. Marine boot camp. For a whole week they lived at the mercy of razor-sharp drill instructors at Camp Pendleton.

I loved it. As a stay-at-home mom I feel a kinship and respect for those Marines. Just like me their jobs are 24/7, there’s no wiggle room for nonsense, and they do whatever it takes to get their job done. Period.

I’ve always been inspired by the Marine Corps Marathon because the Marines are the walking/talking definition of marathon mentality in combat boots. From what I’ve been told, you even see them running in full gear at that marathon — incredible.

I would love to run a race by so many of this country’s important monuments and sites.

The Marines dig deep in situations and places I dare not even imagine. They cobble back civility from the ashes of war; face down the ugliest enemies; and stand together and attend to their fallen as brethren.

Stay-at-home moms have playgroups; Marines have companies and platoons. It’s collective strength in numbers.

Many years ago a close friend of mine who was a mom before me liked to wear combat-style boots with a feminine dress. She said it symbolized the strength she needed as a mother. Now that I’m a mom, too, I get what she means.

My job as a mother requires that I dole out equal measures of discipline and affection, or at least I get to show affection more openly than a Marine. 

Their jobs require them to mimic the armored vehicles they ride into danger zones for their outward persona and survival.

I’ve no doubt though that under the Teflon coat many hold a reservoir for deep affection as well as strength, to be able to give so much to so many.

Courage and heart often reside hand in hand.

That’s why I think if I have another marathon or two in me after Boston, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., might be one of my top picks. It also is a lottery entry these days just like New York.

I won’t spoil the ending of that BL episode for you just in case.

This much, however, I will share: If you want to finish a marathon or any task, channel your own inner Marine.

This post also goes out to the Marines and all the people who serve us as Veterans Day (Nov. 11)  approaches.

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

Mileage today: 5; Denver to Boston miles logged: 785; Miles left to go: 985.

Big haul in the Big Apple

So how is this for polar opposite of zen?

  • 40,000 runners, including Chilean miner Edison Pena, culinary king Bobby Flay, and celebrity weatherman Al Roker. 
  • Five boroughs and 26.2 miles.
  • 100,000 gallons of water and Gatorade. (And let’s not forget the Porta-Potties, legitimate or otherwise.)
  • Five tons of ice to treat injuries.
  • $800,000 in prize money

Yes, I’m talking about the ING New York City Marathon tomorrow, the big haul in the Big Apple.

Just thinking about it gives me a vicarious endorphin high.

The event does not hold the same appeal for me as Boston (I like visiting but NYC overwhelms me), but I’m sure running this marathon would be the opportunity of a lifetime.

Most of the participants get in by lottery. Another smaller portion filter in through charities, being part of the New York Road Runners, or guaranteed entry by running a qualifying time (either from a speedy half marathon or a full) that’s actually harder than Boston’s qualifying times.

Breaking the half marathon qualifying time for my age group listed on the NYC marathon site is on my bucket list after Boston. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to run the NYC marathon but meeting this standard seems like a worthy goal anyway.

Absent from 2010 women’s elite field will be Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor, Paula Radcliffe and Blake Russell. Three of the four had babies recently and Deena is pregnant.

The New York Times ran an article last week on how Blake suffered an injury while trying to bounce back to elite marathon mode a year after her son was born. 

The article talked a lot about how these women struggle with their careers, when to have children, and the toll motherhood has on them, too.  I thought it was refreshing because it portrayed them more like real people.

Yes, I know everyone thinks about powerhouse Paula, coming back so strong after baby number one, but that’s more the exception than the rule. This article showed that while it’s possible to be like her, there’s a lot more to it than that. Sleep deprivation, extreme fatigue and illness are detriments to anyone’s training plan.

Hopefully Paula, Deena, Kara, and Blake will be back soon to wow the NYC crowds again next year.

In the meantime I will continue my zen zone here in the Rocky Mountains. Tomorrow is a rest day for me.

I’ll check in later in the day to see who’s taken the biggest bite of the prize money along the streets of the Big Apple.

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

Mileage today: 8; Denver to Boston miles logged: 782; Miles left to go: 988.

Belly laughs for the runner’s soul

The great thing about “zen running, ” which I talked about yesterday, is that it benefits the rest of your life.
It even helps your sense of humor, which I found out when Tarzan and his buddy got into a mishap.

This morning I went to the gym with Tarzan and after I dropped him off at child care I conquered my “Superman” workout. It’s a cardio/strength routine my friend Pam, a personal trainer, suggested. It consists of running a few miles, then lifting weights hard for 45 minutes, followed by another few miles of running.

When I’m not in zen mode like now, I make it a point to push the second portion of the running harder and faster. It’s killer but I feel like the woman of steel when I finish it strong.

Today I walked out of the gym with an invisible “S” on my chest. Then I picked up Tarzan, headed to the store to buy ingredients for a tasty vegetarian Tuscan bean soup recipe I found in Runner’s World, and we returned home.

I showered, and later one of Tarzan’s preschool pals came over for a play date. I commenced making the stew and doing laundry.

The boys, both age 4, romped up and down the stairs in my house like two man cubs from The Jungle Book. Their belly laughs filled the air while they played and I chopped and cooked. Once I got the pot on the stove slowly simmering I took some time to play with them. Then I started in on the laundry.

They occupied each other so well I got to dry and fold some laundry, too.

I left them only for a few minutes to put away clothes and that’s when Tarzan called for me.

“Mama, please come here and look at us!”

“OK,” I answered. I listened and heard silence followed by snickering giggles.

When I left the two of them they were playing the Hasbro boardgame Trouble (with the popping bubble in the center and the colorful pegs that go clockwise).

I should have known better.

That’s when another kind of trouble happened. 

I re-entered the room and the two of them looked like natives of Papua, New Guinea, from a National Geographic spread with game pegs stuffed wide into their nostrils.

“Oh, my word,” I thought to myself as I laughed. “Boys will be boys.”

I grabbed the Lysol wipes I keep in my kitchen and made them dump the contents of their noses onto the towels. I was grateful nothing got lodged in and that I didn’t have to call the other boy’s mother or 911. Then I ran the peg pieces through the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning.

I think on a non-zen day I might not have reacted so well to their “surprise.” I might have gotten upset, but it’s hard not to find what they did wacky.

Apparently zen running isn’t just good for your mind and your muscles, but your funny bone, too.

I think my next training plan should include some belly laughs for the runner’s soul.

But I’ll put away the Trouble game for awhile, just in case.

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

Mileage today: 3; Denver to Boston miles logged: 774; Miles left to go: 996.

Zen running

This morning Jane asked me if she could use the kiss-and-go lane (where parents drive up and drop off their children) at her school.

Normally we walk to school. If we drive, I park the car; then Tarzan and I walk Jane to the meeting spot for her class where her teacher comes and escorts the children inside.

Jane sought this act of independence last year, but I wasn’t ready yet to let my baby go. Today I succumbed.

The truth is, I know she’s ready and safe. It also made sense we because we were running late, and it’s a hassle to unbuckle Tarzan’s car seat, only to have to put him back in it a few minutes later.

This whole episode might seem minor to some people, but it’s a big deal for me. I cling to routine and I’m not always good at going with the flow.

Lately, however, I’ve focused more on becoming zen, especially with my running routine.

Since the Denver marathon a few weeks ago I have skipped rising at 5 a.m. and allowed myself to run later in the day. I know 7 a.m. doesn’t sounds like sleeping in to most people, but after years of caring for small children and being sleep deprived those extra two hours have been delicious. I feel so much better rested.

I’m also in-between training plans. I don’t start gearing up the serious miles for Boston until December.

This month I’m giving myself the gift of running for pleasure. I’m not following any schedule or routine, and I’m untethered — not wearing a Garmin or running watch.  It’s just me, the sunshine and wind or whatever the elements bring, and the path ahead.

It’s not exactly like running with the amazing Tarahumara, as in my last profile with Ruthanne Hamrick (who is inspiring herself), but it’s somewhat in the same spirit of “Born to Run.”

I am running because my health and the ability to do so is a God-given gift. I run not because I have to, but because I choose to and I can. The action feels simple and fluid.

It reminds of when I began running, before goals and PRs swept me up in their intoxicating spell. A high-school friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday that she’d just finished her first 5K race ever. Her experience mirrored those old days for me. Her pure excitement spilled over and I loved that. It was completely zen.

And it gave me perspective. Yes, the PRs are good, but it’s important not to lose touch with the bliss and gratitude.
Running isn’t everything, I know. It doesn’t solve the world’s problems, but it sure helps me to leave them behind for a spell, and it clears my head so I can tackle my life’s challenges better. 

So for a few more weeks I get to stay zen. Perhaps if I’m lucky it will spill over to my next round of training.

Jane and I both are both taking steps forward. What could be better than that?

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

Mileage today: 4; Denver to Boston miles logged: 771; Miles left to go: 999 (Woo-hoo!! Down to triple digits!)

Rocky Mountain High

Today the air felt crisp with a hint of fall when I walked my daughter to school.  In another month or so the Rocky Mountains will look this picture.  Seeing the golden glow of aspens makes me want to channel my inner John Denver. 

If you’ve never been to Colorado consider this an invitation to a virtual kaffeeklatsch about why you should visit some day.  If you live here, what are YOUR favorite places to visit and run — the ones you think should make every visitor’s bucket list?  Let me know and I will post them, too.  Here are a few of mine:

  1. The Garden of the Gods.  Each June the park closes to registered runners for a 10-mile race, which I did a few years ago. The hills aren’t for the faint of heart, but the craggy, lunar-like formations make the climbing worth every step.
  2. The Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado.  I’ve never run in this strange sandy oasis, but I have snowboarded down the sands from the top.
  3. The roads that parallel the Durango to Silverton steam locomotive.  I’ve camped nearby but not run here. The area has streams, mountains and lush forest, and wildlife — hard to go wrong.
  4. Rocky Mountain National Park.  I’ve driven in and hiked a bit.  Just driving the high-altitude road in is spectacular.
  5. Pike’s Peak.  I’ve driven to the top but never hiked nor attempted the grueling Pike’s Peak Marathon, but I’ve heard amazing things about it
  6. The last one is a wish list as I’ve never been there: The Royal Gorge Bridge in Canon City.  It’s the highest suspension bridge in America.  I imagine a run across it would feel cresting the top of the world.

These spots are the reasons why living in Colorado often feels like God’s country to me.  They make me want to grab some round spectacles, a blonde bowl haircut and croon “Rocky Mountain High.” 

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

Miles today: 4; Denver to Boston mileage logged: 544; Miles left to go: 1,226.