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

You’re never too old to run marathons or anything else … unless you think so — part II

20140310_163119Brownie, our dog, is greying a bit around her muzzle. She’s older than we thought.  Our vet said the Aussie rescue where we got her probably stretched the truth about how old she was so she would get adopted.  It’s not a huge surprise really.  Most people want puppies over adult dogs, but she almost didn’t get a second chance because of her age. What a shame that would have been. She’s a great dog.

These days I’m contemplating changing careers, and I can’t help but wonder, what if, just like Brownie, my age makes it harder for me to get a second chance?.I sure hope that doesn’t happen, but I think it’s a valid concern. I believe we live in an age-obsessed society that often values youth over wisdom or life experience. This worries me.

For the last several weeks I have been researching going back to school to become a teacher (getting a post-baccalaureate teaching license). Under the best of circumstances, if I were able to start school by the fall, it would take me a year and a half to two years to complete. However, it’s likely I will need some prerequisites before I can start. This would push back the time frame more.  In either case, if I take those paths, I will be almost 50 years old by the time I finish!

I can’t lie — the thought of starting over again at 50 (probably surrounded by everyone in their 20s) freaks me out!

Growing older, however, can be freaky.  It often feels like jumping into the deep end of a cold pool. The initial shock can be harsh, but once you get used to it, it’s really not so bad. The way I see it is … time will pass and I will get older no matter what I do so I might as well make the most of it. Why not  follow a dream?

Like mothering and parenting, and being a journalist and a writer (which also have been my calling), I believe teaching is a noble profession  — and one that society sometimes undervalues, but it’s still worth it in my eyes. This, too, is keeping me going.

As I ponder my options it helps that I am a runner and a marathoner and very much an optimist who believes in grace to guide me. Plus, most of the time I don’t feel someone who’s just a few years shy of an AARP card. (Hey, Michelle Obama just got hers!)   I know my driver’s license says that I’m that old, but I honestly feel much younger. I  am healthy, and happy, and young at heart and spirit, especially when I run. Having qualified for and run the Boston Marathon showed me just how much I’m capable of and that I can do anything if I put my mind and heart in it.

Being surrounded by other runners also helps me. If there is one community I know that doesn’t shun people for their age, it’s runners. Most runners I know embrace those who take up the sport and don’t fit the mold.  That’s especially true when you see young runners reacting to older ones. When I see runners older than me, I think,  “Hey, look at him (or her) and how strong he (or she) is.  That’s how I want to be when I’m his (or her) age.”

And heck, with running and racing, growing older or “aging up” as it’s called when you move into an older bracket when you race can even work to your advantage if you stay healthy and strong and even just keep going. (The age groups tend to get smaller with less competition.)

Ultimately, I believe I will overcome any “ageism” I might encounter, but just like how I’ve trained myself for marathons, I want to be ready for whatever comes my way.

When we got Brownie a few years ago, all she wanted was a home and family, and somewhere she belonged.  In essence, I think we all want this in life no matter where we go or which path we choose.  It wasn’t too late for Brownie to find her new “home”. Hopefully, with a little patience and fortitude, it won’t be too late for me either.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” — C.S. LewisC.S. Lewi

I’m not too old to take on this; the journey begins today.



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

Mileage today: 5; Mileage for 2014: 213
C.S. Lew



You’re not too old to run marathons … unless you think so

michelangeloChange is in the air. Can you feel it and not just the cold from the Polar Vortex?

Welcome to Boston or Botox in 2014. Yes, I am a little late on the New Year’s thing. So what?  I have always been a late-bloomer of sorts and that is precisely why I am asking this question today, “Are you ever to old to (Fill in the blank)?

The “blank” can be running a marathon, qualifying for Boston, finally writing that novel that lives inside of you so the rest of the world appreciate it, starting your own company, changing careers, or living out whatever your heart desires and your dreams may be.

To answer that question let me throw out another great quotation for you to ponder:  “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford.

Goal-setting requires that you get your mind in the game first, but how do you do that?  That, my friends, is where it often gets as dicey as the roads here in Colorado after another hard winter storm.
If you are like much of the country these days, we’ve had a lot of storms to weather this winter. Whew! Those storms can be tough and so can jump starting your goals and dreams.
Whether we like to admit it or not, all of us get preconceived notions when it comes to aging, our bodies and our goals — from what we read, magazines and news feeds, advertisements, from what our family and friends tell us, notions passed down to us from generation to generation, yadda, yadda, yadda, etc., etc.
In the end though it comes down to this: How do YOU define yourself and what you want?
A few years ago Runner’s World did a cover story on the popularity of qualifying for Boston and my blog got mentioned in it. I was interviewed for it but the editors choose to highlight some other people’s quotes. The questions they asked me centered around why qualifying for Boston attracted so many women in their 40s. My answer, distilled down, was that I think the 40s are a time that many of us choice to redefine ourselves. I know I did, first by pushing myself to become a marathoner and then qualifying for Boston. These were huge mental and physical accomplishments for me.
Since then I have been searching for what’s next and I’m I honing in on it. Right now I am looking at going back to graduate school and starting “my second act.”. My first was as a journalist and newspaper. I am not ready to reveal all the details yet but I am excited about the possibilities I’m considering and energized by them.
It’s definitely had me pondering the question, “Are you ever too old to shift gears and start something new?” (i.e, Fill in those “blanks.”)
I don’t think so.  If you look around you can find proof and here’s an example. Check out this Youtube video on Johanna Quaas, who, at 87, worlds the Guinness World Record of being the world’s oldest competitive gymnast.

The way I see it, if Johanna can turn cartwheels in her 80s (Check out how strong her core is — dang!), surely I can accomplish a few mental flips and changes in my 40s.

I am not too old and I refuse to buy into that message. How about you? What are your dreams? What, if anything, holds you back? I encourage you to go for it.

Johanna surely did. Rock on, Johanna!

In the coming days I’m going to be exploring this theme more on Boston or Botox.

Get your “brave,” folks. You”re not too old, unless you think you are.


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


Mileage today: 5; Mileage for 2014: 123

Each marathon teaches a lesson: Roar!

Tucson MarathonPhoto credit: The Tucson Marathon, http://www.tucsonmarathon.com/photos/

It’s T-5 days until I run my next race: The Tucson Marathon. I’m excited.

Each marathon training teaches me some new life lessons. While I’ve trained for Tucson I’ve mastered the art of surrender and when it’s simply time to let things percolate until you’re ready to “wake up and smell The Consciousness.”

Now I’m ready to go after what I want with the ferocity of a tigress ..


Perhaps that’s why we face tough or unexpected challenges in life? So that we can use them to define us, not break us.

Last month, for example. someone hacked this blog and website and it took me some valuable technological time to recover from that. The clean up I had to do was a fitting twist to the kind or crazy, strange, unexpected year I experienced in 2013. I won’t bore you with mundane details but I will say this: I could have choose to let some events beat me to a pulp. I didn’t. I’m still standing, and I’ve bounced back better, stronger, and happier.

I plan to run a solid race at Tucson. I’ve followed Hansons for my marathon training. It has gone well. Whatever comes on Sunday I’ll hold my head high.

I’ll post more in the coming days.

Let the tigress spring forth …


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

Mileage for 2013: 1,934



Boston profile #14: Soldiering on with Paula Davis

Paula Davis, of York, Pennsylvania, has run wearing a gas mask.

My guess is not many people can say they’ve done that.

When you’re a runner AND a soldier deployed overseas you often do what you must and that’s also how Paula Davis transformed herself into a Boston Marathon qualifier.

Paula Davis, far right, shown with her friends Cathy Butler and Sheri Bullock, at the Harrisburg Marathon in 2009.

“Being in the military changed my life,” explained Paula, a married 35-year-old mother of two with a PR of 3 hours 27 minutes.

Paula will run her first Boston Marathon in just a few more weeks. Her goal on the DailyMile.com, where she and I met, is to crack a 3:25 marathon.

Paula joined the Army Reserves military when she was 20 years, hoping it would help her find herself.

“I had struggled with bad relationships in my life and an abusive childhood. I had no outlet growing up and was far from any sort of runner.  I did not have a lot of stability in my life,” she said. “And everything from my childhood drifted into my young adult life, I wasn’t finishing classes in college, never followed through on any thing and could never see myself successful in anything. Back then, I’d fall off the wagon.”

Paula was also 60 pounds heavier than she is now. She almost didn’t past basic training.

“I struggled with the running portion of the PT test, and the drill sergeant told me I wouldn’t pass, but I finally did, on the last day, by 3 seconds.”

The military changed her mindset, and, eventually, her body, too. It gave her focus and drive. That’s where Paula said she discovered her joy for running. She shed the unwanted pounds gradually over time.

“I found a sense of peace running and learned about that runner’s high,” she said. “It was time that helped me sort things out.”

She met her future husband, got married and had her first child, a little girl.

As a reservist, her time was almost up by four months when she received the phone call for deployment.

At that time, Paula’s daughter was five months old, but Paula still reported for Active Duty in January 2003 for Operation Iraq. It was difficult yet she persevered. She was deployed for a total of 15 months. 
By this time, in 2002, Paula was a dedicated runner. That’s how she ended up wearing a gas mask at times when she ran. 

“I would run the perimeter of the base in Kuwait,” she said. Paula had to fight with her superiors for permission to do it but won. The running became her escape while away from her home and family.
When she got back from her deployment she supported her husband as he finished graduate school. She also ran her first marathon, the Baltimore Marathon, in 2004.

She finished without a lot of formal training, thinking she’d never do another. Then the long-distance bug bit her again. She ran the Baltimore Marathon again the following year.

After that she also had a second child, her son.

Paula ran the Harrisburg Marathon in 2009 with one of her friends, Sheri Bullock, and it was an eye-opener in just how far Paula had come.

“I had agreed to hang with her for the first 20 miles. After mile 10, she looked at me and told me to save my energy because ‘I need you. You have to stay with me’ and I did. I had no idea I was about to qualify for Boston; Harrisburg was not a planned qualifier,” Paula said. That’s how she qualified for Boston for the first time, in 3 hours 36 minutes 47 seconds.

“I remember Sheri telling me at mile 20, we had time, we were going to make it, and my mouth hit the floor. … I didn’t know that we’d do that. I had never done that,” she said.

She got closed out from registering for Boston in 2010, which made her think of a spring marathon to try again. Paula ran her marathon PR, 3:27 at the Bob Potts Marathon, in her hometown in May 2010. That’s why she’s doing Boston for the first time this year.

Paula’s been training hard for Boston (about 60 miles a week) and formally — something she had never done before now.

“Going to the track with friends, they had to explain the terms to me. For example, I didn’t know about mile repeats,” she said.

Paula is a spinning instructor at Gold’s Gym in addition to being a runner and busy mom. Her children are now ages 8 and 4.

When she ran her PR at the Bob Potts race her friend Cathy  jumped in at mile 18 to pace her and wanted her to stay focused.

At that time their dear friend, Pam Rhoades, had been battling cancer. Cathy looked at Paula and said “if anything, run this race for Pam.”

At that point Paula said every step and every mile was exactly that  — her effort and run for a friend.  

Paula’s grandmother, whom she had been close to all her life, passed away recently. She said she hopes to dedicate her Boston Marathon to her grandmother.

Paula’s husband and her mom will be at Boston cheering for her, while her children will be cheering her from home.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Paula said. “I want to make them proud and do it for myself because I can.”

Where she stands today is a far cry from where she was at 20 when she joined the service.

Paula Davis and Sheri Bullock shown running the Harrisburg Marathon in 2009.


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

Denver to Boston miles logged: 1531.5; Miles left to go: 238.5

Happy hour

This post goes out to my old friends from The Rocky Mountain News … what I wouldn’t give to tip back a cold one with you after work one more time.

It’s not the deadlines or hours I miss, but having you in my orbit.

Last night I dreamed about going to a party where everyone from the Rocky was there, like the happy hour I went to after the Rocky folded.

In my dream everyone looked content  and happy with life and work today. (I hope that’s true and not just in my head.) 

I woke up feeling bittersweet and couldn’t get back to sleep. I cried a bit and now I’m writing.

It’s been two years since the Rocky’s demise and almost five years since I dropped off the planet into mommy-dom. Most days I don’t think much of it anymore, but I guess you can run but not hide from your subconscious.

While my journalist friends have spread out across the country, and in some cases, across the globe to find their place, I’ve run and run for miles in search of my post-Rocky self. She’s now the virtual poster child for Boston or Botox. In real life she’s a mom, marathon runner and Boston qualifier. Where she’ll go from there, digitally and otherwise, I have no idea.

What I know is: I’m still a journalist at heart. I left a livelihood I loved out of what I felt was necessity at the time for my family. Then my old livelihood up and left me (and my Rocky colleagues, too) like a cheating spouse.
Working under daily deadlines, however, builds your stamina and resolve. I refuse to let anyone or anything keep me down, and that fire that drove me in the newsroom now fuels my writing, running and training.

In my old life I worked side-by-side with some of the best people in my industry. We slew deadline dragons each day with finesse. If any of my Rocky friends are reading this now, you should know: you were my tribe. Thank you. 

I’m sure that’s what the dream was about — I miss you guys.

These days I feel a similar kinship to my running friends. They seem to get who I am, just like my Rocky friends did.

A chilled brewski at about 1 or 2 a.m. with work pals after putting the news of the day to bed — those were my happy hours past.

The hard work. the lessons I got, and the memories of it will always be with me.

Sunrise runs with my morning running friends followed by an endorphin kicker — these are my happy hours present.

What will be my happy hours in the future? I hope it merges parts of both those worlds. Surely it will come after I cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon. That will be cause for another celebration with friends, old and new.

It does not get much better than, does it?


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

Mileage today: 9; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1486; Miles left to go: 284.



Sole mates

Ten years ago on Valentine’s Day the love of my life proposed to me.

Six months later we married.

While we didn’t tie knot the at a race or wearing Nikes, it would have been appropriate. Running is how the Dude and I met. 

A few summers before we said ‘I do’ and strode into our future together (at left) he showed up at a group run at the Santa Fe Striders. I was the club’s president at the time.

I remember thinking, who’s that handsome guy with the strawberry blondish hair and reddish sideburns?

He was lean and lanky, and looked like a runner.

He still does.

Back then the Dude ran as much I did and he was faster. I guess he had to be quick if he was going to “catch me.” 

Ten years, two houses, four marathons and two children later, the Dude and I have both changed some. He doesn’t run as much but I’m still on the go, probably more so than ever and I’m running faster and more focused than before.

That’s what happens when you become a marathoning mom, the focus especially.

These days the Dude and I are so busy running in opposite directions to keep our lives afloat, it’s hard to believe we used to run together and once were training partners.

It would nice if we could return to it someday. Maybe when the children get older. We could definitely do some shorter races with the children, too.

A few weeks ago we booked our plane tickets for Boston. When I cross the finish line my biggest fan base will be there: the Dude and Tarzan and Jane.

What else could a marathoner ask for? Even a PR can’t compare because when it comes down to it, they are my personal best.

Ten years later I’m glad I said yes.
And I’m even happier that my sole mate turned out to be my soul mate.


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: 1265; Miles left to go: 505.

Team Boston or Botox

Pictured above: The start of the Wharf to Wharf Race, a six-mile race that goes from Santa Cruz to Capitola, California.

A few days ago my newest little niece came into the world.


Now my sister-in-law has two girls — a sister act.

I’m happy for them and excited to meet the new baby this spring.

When I was growing up I was part of sister act, too. My older sister and I have always been close.

Way back when, in the days before we had our own children and hectic careers took over, she and I would run lots of races together.

One of our favorites was the The Wharf-to-Wharf — a six-mile race from Capitola to Santa Cruz, California.

We both loved it because the course passed through those two beach towns with breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean. The whole community came out to support the event. Dozens of bands played and crowds cheered you on the whole way.

Afterwards my sister and I, and our friends and family, would hang out in Capitola for the day.

It’s been many years since my sister and I have run a race together.

This year we made it a goal to change that.

We put in for a lottery to run half marathon race this spring and our team, Boston or Botox, got picked. Maybe it was the team name that got us in or we just got lucky. It doesn’t matter either way because it’s going to be a blast.

I’m already running a lot, and this upcoming race has given my sister incentive to get in better shape. It will be some long overdue bonding time for both of us.

So here’s to sisters,  my new little niece, and the spirit of Team Boston or Botox.

May life carry us all far!!


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

Mileage yesterday 7; mileage today: 7; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,109; Miles left to go: 661.

Snow days

Ten laps equal one mile on the track at my gym.

On snow days when I can’t run outside I find myself going round and round like an old record player on that track.
Yesterday was one of them.

I ran 60 laps (yes, six miles) followed by one mile on the ‘mill. I don’t like being on the track that long, but it beats not running at all. And the treadmills were all taken when I first got there. I was on a time crunch. That’s why I only got one mile on the ‘mill.

Outside it was 5 degrees and snow-packed. Both my children’s schools were closed.

I prefer to run outside, but single-digit temperatures send me indoors. Actually anything below 20 degrees usually does it. The same goes for ice and snow-pack and running alone in the dark. It’s not worth it.

Last year I took a spill on the ice one morning and tore my tights and gashed my knee. I learned my lesson.

My other choice is to run for miles and miles on the gym treadmills, which have a 30-minute limit per user.

When it’s not too busy I can ask the staffers to stay on the ‘mills longer. It’s more tolerable because I can watch TV and run. 

This month that won’t be happening for awhile — until the new year’s resolutions wear thin and the gym empties out.

In the winter the gym becomes my second home; the staffers are like family. 

Usually it’s Joe, Steve or Mike, the employees on the early shift, who take my ID card at the cardio desk.

“I wish I could run like you, Danica,” Joe once told me after one of my workouts. He said he has a bad knee.

Joe and I often chat about what’s on the news. I like the treadmills best that have views of both TVs so I can alternate between watching CNN and Fox.

Steve is 75 and he’s been married for 54 years. I sometimes see him and his wife around town. When he’s not working at the gym he walks for miles on the track. He moves like he’s at least 10 years younger.

Mike is from North Carolina and he speaks with a kind southern drawl. Mike is his middle name, which he goes by instead of his first name. That’s common in the South, he once explained to me.

They may not realize it, but our casual conversations and seeing their friendly faces helps me get  through my indoor workouts.

Some times I think of those guys when I’m running outside. I am grateful for them and the other staffers at my gym, always there, doing their jobs, when I arrive at o’dark early.
My winter training wouldn’t be the same without them, and I would not be as strong.

While I may not like running indoors, I like seeing them. I feel better and a sense of accomplishments when I finish.

Thanks to the help of Joe, Steve and Mike, perhaps a snow day here and there isn’t such a bad thing after all.


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

Mileage yesterday: 7; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,095; Miles left to go: 675.

Paperless zen

It’s official.

I’m the new editor for the Colorado Columbines’ eBlast — the club’s weekly online newsletter.

That’s what happens when you start a running blog. Others want your talents — if you can call them that.

I feel like I can barely schlep my way through these posts, but I could not say no to Katie F, the Columbines’ wonderful new president and a fellow Distance Diva extraordinaire.  

I’m fretting tonight because I’m sure a big learning curve is coming. It’s sort of like the feeling you get before running your first marathon.

You think you can do it but only time will tell. 

I hope I’m up to the task, but as I write this I’m not even sure how to get started. The outgoing editor will be sending me a template via email.

Such are the signs of our times. Even the changing of the information guard can be done electronically.


That’s what scares me. I’m not a techno-phobe, just a techno-klutz. This digital business is still new to me and I find online tutorials cumbersome.

In my defense, I started my career as a technical editor and I can tell you that most manuals out there are poorly written and missing crucial steps.

Also, it doesn’t help that I must learn new media with Tarzan interrupting me all day long.

If you want to know what it’s like to focus on something new with a 4-year-old boy present, imagine having a third arm attaching to the middle of your belly.

Now picture that third arm smacking you in the middle of your forehead at random.

“Mom, I’m hungry! I need something to eat.”

“Mom, I spilled something on my shirt and I need help.”

“Mom, PLAY with me, puh-leeease!!!”

When I first started BOSTONORBOTOX.com I called Godaddy customer support at lot.

Each time I add something new to the blog I find myself calling again. 

The questions I ask probably make some digitally-savvy 20-something rep roll his eyes into the back of his head, but I honestly can’t help it. 

I can imagine the file they’ve got on me and what they probably say when they see it’s me calling again for help.

“DUUUUDE — It’s that clueless Boston or Botox chick! You take it!”

“No, you take it!”

“No — You!”


Surely this eBlasting business will be easier.

My hope is that a month from now it will be as simple as using computer chip timing at races.

Simply thread the darn thing through your laces and tie it tight. Or wrap that orange, plastic thingy around them, and voila — off you go!

Paperless zen and techno-sophistication — that’s my goal. 

That’s why I jumped the digital divide in the first place and took up this whole blog business several months ago.

I knew I either needed to grow or fade from memory like an old KISS eight-track tape.

Since I obviously refuse to keep company with Gene Simmons, bad hair or tawdry make-up, here I am. 

It’s time for me to learn to eBlast or eBust.

I think I better start my chanting now:

Oooommmm ….


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

Mileage yesterday: 18, today is a rest day; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,088; Miles left to go: 682