Freeze tag

“Gotcha! You’re it!”

Tarzan loves to run just like I do. He and I often play freeze tag while I make dinner before the Dude comes home from work.  That’s what we did today.

We play in our kitchen and living room, which allows me to keep on eye on the stove. Tarzan gives me exemptions when I must check on a pot, chop vegetables or do the next step in a recipe.

This is one of our rituals — freeze tag while I cook, or clean, or sometimes even when I’m writing. It’s the only way I can get anything done with him around most of the time. Plus, the game serves as good informal sprint training. If I could bottle Tarzan’s energy for Boston I’d be set for life.

For the last week and a half he and Jane have been on spring break, which means our lives have been a virtual game of freeze tag — lots of quick starts and stops daily.

Today, for instance, we hit the Butterfly Pavilion in the morning, then they played with friends. We also ran errands such as going to Target and the hardware store for the upteenth time this week.

In addition to our usual chaos our basement is getting finished, which will create more space and comfort in our home. The project has been a crash course for me on picking out paint, tile and toilets. In the next few days I’ll add carpets to the list.

While the children have been home a lot I’ve had to squeeze my running in wherever I can, often at o’dark early. In the game of freeze tag that is my life I keep waiting for the pause to kick in so I can catch my breath. That never happens. I bounce from one project or need to the next.

Tag, you’re it. Time to take the kids to swimming or karate lessons.

Tag, time to write a post for this blog.

Tag, time to put out another weekly eBlast bulletin for the Columbines.

Tag, time to meet another writing deadline.

Tag, time to make dinner and clean up again.

Tag, time to put the children to bed.

Tag, time to catch up on laundry.

Tag, time to wake up, hit the gym, and run 8 more miles.

Tag, mom … you’re it.

The big question I have is: When is it someone else’s turn to be it??

I just hope when I get to Boston, I can tag somebody else and have enough energy when I need it, instead of being “it.”

Then maybe, just maybe, I can work on “freeze part” of the game a little bit and enjoy my accomplishment.

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

Mileage yesterday: 8; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1521.5; Miles left to go: 248.5



Tarzan likes to play his own version of  “rock-paper-scissors.” It includes tornados, which, of course, smash everything, just as they do in real life. 

Tarzan always chooses tornados. It suits him — he’s a bit of a tornado himself. 

Tarzan came into my life, I believe, during the height of another infamous storm … Hurricane Katrina.

People who’ve worked in the news business often gauge their own history by major events.

When Hurricane Katrina hit in late August 2005, I wasn’t at The Rocky Mountain News where I worked as an editor. Instead I was at my cousin’s wedding in Cleveland with my husband and daughter. 

As “the Dude” and I pounded shots of slivovitz (Eastern European plum brandy, aka, fire water) — at the celebration, we were unaware of the human tragedy pounding New Orleans. 

Once I was back at work again I had to document Katrina’s devastation. I remember writing the following headline, ignorant of the “other storm” brewing within my own body:

                                                    The pound and the fury

Nine months after Katrina, tornado Tarzan blew into my world with his own kind of forceful recklessness. 

The lesson: Drinking Balkan fire water with relatives in Cleveland can lead to unexpected fertility.

I thought I was “one and done” with my firstborn. Sometimes our prayers get answered in unexpected ways, sort of like ordering greasy pizza but receiving a healthy salad and sushi instead. God obviously knew what was better. I’d never take back my “bonus boy.” 

Now whenever I think of Hurricane Katrina I associate it with Tarzan’s conception. Such is the craziness and yin and yang of this world.  I wish the suffering from Katrina never had to happened.

I also ran a half marathon with my friend Pam back then, not knowing I was pregnant yet.

My life has never been the same since Tarzan. Neither has my running 

Most of the time, both are better. Because Tarzan has always been such an intense child I need breaks and running does that for me. I also lost the last of my baby weight from pregnancies after he was born.

People come into this world with own personalities. Around me Tarzan, now age 4 1/2, likes to emulate a category 4 storm. He’s been that way from the get-go.

As a baby he never fell asleep easily on his own and he didn’t self-soothe well.

By age 2 1/2 he gave up naps entirely.

Until a few months ago he threw monster tantrums each day when it was time for us to pick up Jane from school.

“Look,” I reasoned with him, “I can leave you here by yourself if you want, but when the policeman finds out he’s going to take you away from me for good and give you to a new mommy. Do you want that?”

Tarzan’s light bulb went on. “NO, MOMMY! I want you! I want you FOREVER!”

Finally, I got cooperation, and dang it, the boy’s unbridled affection made me melt like butter.

I often find myself either running to or from Tarzan, like a real funnel cloud, depending on which way his mood and demands spin me.

After I dropped him off at preschool today, for example, I raced to drop off water for the Distance Divas next long run tomorrow. Then I ran 9 miles, rushed home, got a quick shower and barely picked up him in time at dismissal.

My weekly training runs revolve around when he’s in preschool or I get up early and run while he and Jane are still sleeping.

It’s not always easy, but at least I get to choose.


That’s easy: Tornado.


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: 1367; Miles left to go: 403.




Iron skillets

My children are on Christmas break and today they went to a cookie-decorating party at the home of an “iron skillet” mom and friend of mine.

“Iron skillet” is what I call mothers who have three or more children, and they do it all. They possess boundless energy for other people’s children, including mine, and everything else thrown at them without keeling over.

NOTHING seems to stop them — no child’s tantrum in public flusters them; no homework project is too large; no work schedule gets too hectic; no crisis is insurmountable.

Like real iron skillets, they can cook anything, followed by a hefty side of bacon, and nothing gets burned.

Iron-skillet moms are akin to ultramarathoners in the running world. Biomechanically they just aren’t like the rest of us and they don’t get sidelined for too long. They are Energizer Bunnies. They keep going … and going … and going. …

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not an iron skillet.

I’m more like a crepe pan, which can only cook up one thing at a time.

The iron skillet is versatile by necessity, unlike the poky crepe pan. An iron skillet can flip and turn and grill a whole bunch of stuff all at once. 

I know that I have limitations and I do better juggling things methodically.

If I had a third child, for example, I’m afraid I’d lose the poor kid or forget to strap him into his car seat or something.

I get overwhelmed some times when the two children I already have tag-team me.  

And like a crepe pan if I don’t watch what I’m cooking, things get singed. I don’t like that.

I admire iron-skillet women, even though I’m not in their league.

My mother and sister are true iron skillets. They each had three children. That’s probably why they look at me quizzically half the time yet still love me despite my foibles.

My sister, an engineer, at least appreciates my need to approach things methodically.

My mother, who rushes her projects, just doesn’t get me or my pace at all but puts up with my crepe-pan tendencies nonetheless.

The woman who had the cookie party has three children, ages 6, 4 and 18 months, plus is a professor who teaches classes online, and is working on her Ph.D.

Today she hosted about a dozen kids at her house.

That’s classic iron-skillet behavior.

She’s extremely gracious and one of the nicest people I’ve met in the last year. Our boys love to be together and we often swap play dates, which allows her to finish her papers and me time for running, writing and this blog.

I often look at her and think, ‘I don’t know how she does it.’

It’s sort of like when I talk to other people who are not runners about my marathon running and training. They don’t get how I do it either.

Some how, some way we make things happen in life when we must or if the desire is strong enough.

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, whether you’re already iron-skillet tough or even a bit of a crepe pan like me.  


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

Mileage today: 6.5; Denver to Boston miles logged: 949.5; Miles left to go: 820.5.

Miles and milestones

Jane wants to redecorate her bedroom.

I knew it was coming — sooner of later she’d outgrow the baby pastel yellows and greens, and the butterfly and ladybug border on her walls.

“Mom, it’s kinda, sorta, little kiddish.” she told me sheepishly, not wanting to hurt my feelings. 

Her desire for change is normal. 

After all, she is 8 years old, not a toddler like when we first moved to Colorado more than seven years ago. 

I remember looking at least 20 homes during our house-hunting blitzkrieg, and it was her bedroom, the way it is now, that partly sold me on where we live now. 

I also liked our open floor plan and warm colors.

That’s why I felt sad and wistful when Jane shared this news with me.

It’s the end of an era, just like when she parted with her “My Little Pony” and Disney Princess toys, also not long ago.

Both she and Tarzan are growing up fast.

Sometimes I want to hit the pause button because my heart can’t file the snapshots of them the way they are now quick enough. 

Last night at Tarzan’s Christmas program at his preschool I could barely hold back the tears. In August my caboose kid starts kindergarten. 

How did that happen?

Between the endless miles I log and their childhood milestones time marches on.

It leaves me feeling a little guilty for the moments I wished these days would come soon — like the sleep-deprived nights after Tarzan was born. When he was a baby I remember praying his preschool days would arrive sooner so I could finally get a break.

Well, guess what? I’m living those days now. I can’t say life is easier but it is richer and fuller because I’ve learned to accept him and my life the way it is.

Tarzan was, and is, my full throttle boy. Wanting to rush through his babyhood was futile because you can’t get any portion of them back, even the parts you liked.

I wish I were a better photographer or a scrapbooking mom but I’m not great at either of those. I do the best I can. I keep plastic totes for each of my children. I fill them with pictures and mementos for filing later, and I write notes to fill in gaps where I know my memory will fail.

I’m doing this for them and me, to savor each phase, because I catch myself wanting to fast-forward when I hit a bump in the road, whether it be in my running routine or in my everyday life.

But when I step back from myself I see the truth — even the discomforts are just a phase. Life shifts and turns. Before you know it, you are onto the next portion of the road, and there are lessons to be gleaned if you can learn to live with whatever comes your way.

Last weekend, for example, I did a lot of hill running. Rather than fight it, I went with it for a change. Now I’m actually looking forward to doing more of it.

As for me and Jane, we are planning to go to Home Depot in the coming weeks so she can pick her new room color. I told her we can repaint in the spring or summer when it’s warm again.

It will be a milestone and new beginning for her and me. I can’t wait to see what she picks and how it turns out for us both.


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: 943; Miles left to go: 827.

Headless Weirdo

One of Jane’s favorite toys is a Ken doll with its head broken off that she calls “Headless Weirdo.”

Jane has dozens of lovely, intact dolls she can play with, especially Barbies and even another Ken doll, yet for some reason she refuses to part with him.  

I’ve asked her why and she tells me it’s because she still likes him and hopes we can fix him some day.  Sweet Jane can be like me — sentimental, compassionate and a bit kooky at the same time. (I’ve tried to reattach Headless Weirdo’s melon, but that sucker just won’t go back on.)

Poor Headless Weirdo looks just how I feel when I need to go running but for some reason can’t — half functional and mentally decapitated. 

The worst was the postpartum depression I endured after Tarzan was born, before I got the doctor’s approval to start running again.

Those first few months were some of the darkest in my life.  Within six months I suffered two bouts of mastitis (breast  infections) while I nursed; went on two different depression medications, one of which jacked me up so much I could not sleep at all; developed eczema on my breasts from a nursing bra; and got strep throat four times, back-to-back.

Looking back on it I’m not sure how my family and I made it through. I only know this for certain, running saved my life and sanity.  Endorphins made a dent where Prozac couldn’t help.  I am not saying this is for everyone.  Medications do work for others and save lives; they just weren’t the thing I needed to reattach my head.

I still go through ups and downs, but luckily running still works for me and keeps my head in place.

Now if only I could find something to help poor Headless Weirdo, too.  …

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: 651;  Miles left to go: 1,119.