My father wasn’t a runner, but he shaped why I run.

When Tata (“Daddy” in his language), was alive, his only exercise was sitting in his easy chair.  He would read the newspaper until he fell asleep. 

The only time I actual saw him run was when he almost missed his graveyard shift at the steel mills where he worked.  My sister and I tried to wake him, but he rolled over and told us, “It’s my day off.”
Five minutes later Tata burst out of my parents’ bedroom.  His pants were around his knees.  He was trying to pull them up while also grabbing his things to get out the door.  He dashed out with speed we never knew he had.  My sister and I laughed so hard at the crazy sight of him we nearly peed our pants.

Comedy aside, however, there was once a time in Tata’s life he ran for far more serious reasons.

It was long before he became my father, during World War II.  My father was 16 when he fought against the Communists who took away his homeland and innocence forever. 

He spent the next few years in refugee camps in Italy and Germany before receiving political asylum in England, all by the time he was 21. 

My parents married in England.  My father waited another 20 years to legally immigrate to America.  He was about my age now when he started over yet again in the U.S.

Tata didn’t talk a lot about what he went through, but he shared enough for me to realize my life has been a privilege.  In America we run for our health and recreation because we choose to. Tata ran for his life because he had to, like a hunted animal.

Tata died in 1999.  Among the milestones I wish he had been here to see: my wedding, the birth of my children, my son whose middle name is the same as his.

I know he would have enjoyed Boston, too, and its history.

As an immigrant’s daughter, though, I can’t think of a better way to honor my father than crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon. footsteps from the Freedom Trail, America’s past, and the places that represent the reasons why he was willing to wait so long to come here.

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 500; Miles left to go: 1,270.


Maximizing one’s assets

God and the universe must have a sense of humor.  How else can I explain coming across this photo opportunity just a few days after I launched this blog???

When I snapped the picture I knew it could only mean one thing: Sharing how I became a Double D almost overnight.

No, it didn’t require surgical incisions, implants or selling my car to pay for maximizing my assets — just answering an email and showing up for some meetings.

Several months ago the Colorado Columbines put a listing in the club’s newsletter seeking people’s input for starting a fall marathon training group.  Before I volunteered to help I showed the email to my husband. I approached him tactfully, like a UN soldier working in a minefield.  In the past he wasn’t keen on my running activities that gobbled up our weekend family time.

Now that our children were both old enough to be out of diapers, however, he’d become more amenable. Plus, he had witnessed firsthand how much happier and easier I was to get along with when I went running more often.  It was a no-brainer really, like choosing between a snarling Doberman or a happy-go-lucky Labrador puppy.  He agreed and I practically bounded on my merry way, floppy ears flapping in the wind as I went.
Several women attended the meetings. Together we created a group training program.  We launched the group in June 2010, and christened ourselves the “Distance Divas,” aka, “Double Ds.”  We just finished our 11th week of formal group training.

So if you’re a woman in the Denver area and want to go from a being 34A to a Double D (like me), or from casual jogger to running 26.2 miles like a Diva, our group might be the right cup size — err, I mean — fit for you, too. 

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

Saturday long run: 14 miles; Sunday is a rest day; Denver to Boston miles logged: 493, 1,277 left to go.

Several Distance Divas at the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon, August 14, 2010. I’m second from the right.


Ever rolled out of bed and could barely put one foot in front of the other? That was me today.

While I was running this morning on the treadmill at the gym one of my new Sauconys caught on the conveyer belt as I was getting on and off. I almost flew off backward but caught myself.

Then, once I was home, I attempted to multi-task. I composed an email while the children got dressed and I meant to save the message to draft.  Then “Tarzan” came running in and was crying. Distracted and flustered by him I hit the send button accidentally.

Luckily the message didn’t contain anything too incriminating, but it did have mistakes and went out to a lot of people That might not seem like big a deal, but as someone who once worked in newspapers I felt as embarrassed as Elaine Benes on “Seinfeld”  when she flashed everyone in her Christmas card.

So what do these random mishaps have to do with marathons? A lot actually as you never know what will happen despite all your efforts to thwart race-day disasters.

A runner can train for weeks, trying out everything beforehand, from pre-run meals, to experimenting with energy drinks and gels, to new clothing and shoes, to trudging through all kinds of weather, and still it’s a gamble.

It comes down to your body on race day and the weather. A pre-race marathon meal can give you diarrhea (This happened to a training partner.)  Or the Boston Marathon could have its worst torrential rains in its 110-year history. (This befell another friend.)  Or you can pack the wrong jogbra, resulting in the worst marathon-day chafing under your arms you’ve ever felt. (That one was me.) 

My best advice if you are running your first marathon, or your 20th, or attempting any goal, is this: Always have a plan B and be ready to roll with the punches. A sense of humor helps.

So rather than tempt fate further I’ll wrap up this post and also stay clear of sharp objects or conveyer belts. Tonight I plan to curl up with a book and convince myself in my best Scarlett O’Hara: “Tomorrow is another day.”

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

Mileage today: 8; Mileage from Boston to Denver logged: 479; Miles left to go: 1,291.

Divine intervention

Half the battle with any goal is just showing up. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

It’s not. Just look at New Year’s resolutions. It’s easy to fail at them without something to make you accountable. 

That’s why I like having running partners. It keeps me honest when I’d rather drown my sorrows in Reese’s peanut butter cups –one of my favorite methods of self-sabotage.

Running with others also saves me from too much time with “me, myself and I.”  On good days they are supportive and push me farther than I thought possible.

On bad days they throw me monster rages, a “self-pity palooza” fueled by criticism, negativity and self-defeat.  I pray a lot when I feel this low. On occasion my prayers are answered with divine intervention, like when I met the “Quick Chicks.”

I had been living in Colorado for a few years, but I still didn’t know any other runners.  I searched for groups to run with in my town but had no luck.  I also attended a few Columbine events (the all women’s running club in Denver), but that didn’t work either. Like Gilligan’s Island — a three-hour tour turned years of episodes later — their events stretched too long for me. A group run took the better part of a day, which didn’t sit well with my husband and children.

I resigned myself to running alone and too many Reese’s cups.

One spring morning a few years ago I went to the high-school track nearest my house alone for speedwork. I dreaded it but went anyway. I wanted to try it on principle, even if it didn’t help, sort of like flossing one’s teeth.

The “Quick Chicks” were there, but l kept to myself.  I’ve always been shy around new people.

They were a sea of mostly blondes and seemed friendly. They looked uber-fit. 

I ran alone, self-conscious of dark Eastern European coloring and ample thighs, better suited on Apollo Ohno than on me.

About half way into their workout they asked me to join them. The women who talked to me had a kind smile. Afterwards we exchanged emails.

That was almost four years ago. Today I run with them year-round and count them among friends. The “Quick Chicks” inspire me and push to be better, especially when my weaker side would rather nosedive for the chocolates.

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

Today is a rest day, no mileage; 470 miles from Denver to Boston logged; 1,299 miles left to go.   

O’dark early

If someone told me 10 years ago I’d be getting up at 5 a.m. once I became a mom, just so I could run regularly, I would have told that person he was a few donuts short of a dozen.

But these days that’s exactly what I do to keep my sanity, and my health, especially because of  “Tarzan,” (not his real name), my 4-year-old son. 

Tarzan, who’s not yet in school, acts like he’s king of my ‘suburbanista jungle’ despite my efforts to reform him. 

Tarzan is the polar opposite of “Jane,” my sweet, easy-going, and, mostly civilized 7-year-old daughter. Tarzan, although also sweet when he wants to be, is a handful. My hair colorist should thank Tarzan. He keeps her in good business with the gray hairs I now have. 

Tarzan and I spend our days together with me attempting to keep up with his constant energy and needs. We also clash as I try to keep him occupied to get my writing work done. Tarzan will begin kindergarten in approximately 340 days. But, hey, who’s counting?

Since I don’t earn a huge income working part time to pay for a sitter, my only break from Tarzan is the few hours he attends preschool. That’s why I run with the roosters before Tarzan, Jane and my husband are up. I find that if I don’t, I’m likely to skip running altogether.

Moms who work full time face similar challenges. A friend of mine and I chatted about this subject this morning while running. She’s a teacher and yesterday she put in a long day, got to see her baby just before bedtime and then went for a run at 8 p.m. 

We all do what we have to do.

The thing no one tells you before you have children is: yes, you can have it all — a career, children, a life and interests — but sometimes not always at the same time. Or if you do have if all, you just might find yourself getting up at o’dark early to fit everything.

In time I know this will change as Tarzan and Jane grow older. For now, I’ll am grateful for my family, the stamina to run and work, and that the worst of my problems is just sleep deprivation.

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

Mileage today: 7; mileage from Denver to Boston logged: 470; Miles left to go: 1,299.  

“Running out loud”

Funny how we usually don’t think about our eyes when we run even though they guide us as we go. That changed for me last weekend when I met a blind runner.

I was with the Distance Divas, a marathon training group I belong to through the Colorado Columbines, an all women’s club here in Denver.  We were on the Highline Canal Trail, and there was he, this blind runner, with a female guide runner. She was leading him and they ran together a few feet apart tethered with harnesses.

Our group stopped to chat with him at a water stop. One of our runners wanted to get information about becoming a guide for him or other blind runners. He shared with us that he’d raced the Bolder Boulder, been featured in Runner’s World and was training for the Denver Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon in October, just like us.

When we left him I was in awe. I couldn’t help but be inspired and note how adaptable we can be as human beings if we chose to be. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t able to run using his eyes, he was still able to “run out loud.” using his other senses and a guide.

He could still experience much of what we enjoyed that beautiful morning — feeling the summer heat crack through the canopy of shade trees; the wind blowing on our faces and the sweat of determination on our brows; the shifting of our muscles to crest rolling hills; and finding comfort in the voice of a friend as we ran. To me these things all symbolize the freedom and joy of running.

This chance meeting drove home for me that we all run on faith, be it literally like he does through the help of others, or figuratively, or through the Almighty if that is our belief.  In our everyday lives one never knows what will come next in our future. Our job, I think, is simply to keep moving forward as best we can and make the most of whatever we’ve been given.

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

Today’s a rest day, no miles; mileage from Denver to Boston logged: 463; 1306 left to go.   

Baby steps

“OK, take a deep breath and one last time — push, push, push, push, puuuush! And it’s out!  Congratulations — it’s a blog!”

Alright so that’s not quite how this blog was born. It was a C-section performed by the dubious team of me, myself and I. It came to life by exerted force much like the notion I got a year and a half ago to run another marathon after a 10-year hiatus. (I ran one in my 20s and a second in my 30s.)

Back in December 2008 my dreams of going to the Boston Marathon were about as distant as the Rocky Mountains are to ocean shoreline.

Sure I ran regularly but half marathons were my limit.

Then I turned 40. Several of my running friends, whom I’ll call the “Quick Chicks” because they’re my age and we run intervals together year-round in Colorado’s smorgasbord of weather, did the St. George Marathon. Several of them qualified for Boston there.

This got the hamster wheel in my head spinning. Still I doubted in reality if my legs could keep up.

A few weeks later I ran the Denver Half Marathon and almost matched my half marathon PR, 1:48:11, which I set at age 23. (I was now 41.) Boosted by my newfound bravado I got online and plugged some numbers into a pace calculator. In theory it said I was capable of running a Boston qualifying time (BQ) like the Quick Chicks.

At this point it was all a head game, like Don Quixote swiping at windmills. I knew better than to take the pace calculator at face value. It would be a lot of work.

Racing for me was much like trying to predict horoscopes – the stars needed to be aligned and the moon full; the terrain and course not too hilly; the weather neither too hot nor cold; and my own butt not too flabby or decrepit to cross the finish line well.

Even then, it was a long shot.

I honestly don’t know where I found the courage to begin. What I do know is often times in life it’s taking colossal risks and persevering above them that frees us.

That’s what happened to me when I finally ran my BQ; the tears of joy worth the many months of sweat.

It’s also where I find myself metaphorically giving birth to this new running blog. I think life is best lived taking chances and right now this blog both scares the crap out of me and excites me. Time will tell if it triumphs to the finish or crashes in a dark plume of smoke.

I invite you to stretch out of your own comfort zones with me as I go.

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

Miles put in today: 7; Miles from Denver to Boston logged: 463; 1,306 left to go.


Aging isn’t for sissies, yet celebrities make it look easy with their frozen foreheads and state-of-the-art boobs.

That’s why I wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon — to kick the idea of aging in the butt.

Hi! My name is Danica. Think of me of as the “Rudy” of bloggers. I do not claim to be the fastest or the strongest runner out there, but my heart is in it with every step.

I’m a writer, runner, blogger, mother, wife, former newspaper journalist and an RRCA-certified running coach.

In my old life I wrote about cutting-edge science, spy investigations and wildfires at The Los Alamos Monitor (New Mexico), and I polished up other people’s words for The Rocky Mountain News.

That was a few years ago. Then I had a baby … not a lobotomy.

OK, so I had a couple of them … babies that is, not lobotomies.

Today I’m a busy mom raising two children, “Tarzan” and “Jane,” and I’m a working writer crafting my destiny.

Boston or Botox, the blog, chronicles my journey to the starting line of Hopkinton, before and after. (I qualified for Boston on Dec. 6, 2009, at the California International Marathon, and I ran Boston on April 18, 2011.)

This blog also shares the midlife triumphs of other women who’ve done it, too.

What I believe you will find: Insights, humor, and inspiration.

Enough said. No wimping out. It’s time for a run.


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