The run-around

nasty storm is rolling in and my training calls for me to run 50 miles this week, including a 20-miler again by the weekend.

But it looks like God and universe may have other plans for me.

I’m afraid I’m in for the run-around in the form of bad weather and sickness, not mileage, ahead.  That’s the risk you take with winter training.

Tarzan woke up at 2 a.m. last night complaining of a headache but he didn’t have a fever, thankfully. I gave him lots of water to drink and some Tylenol. He fell back to sleep somewhere around 3 a.m.

It took me another hour to wind down and go back to sleep myself. I was worried he might come down with something and not be able to go to preschool today. 

I was relieved when he woke up his same peppy self at 7 a.m., ready for breakfast and preschool.

We got away unscathed today, but that won’t be the case tomorrow.

The district already has announced that Jane’s school will be closed tomorrow. We’re expected to get a boatload of snow with a high temperature of 7 degrees before the storm heads east to causes havoc there, too.

It also would not surprise me if Tarzan or Jane still came down with the creeping crud that seems to be making the rounds.
“The Dude” just suffered two weeks with the crud. He went into work anyway during that time but he came home every single night and spent all weekend laying in front of the TV with the energy of a banana slug. It was fun times indeed.

The most important thing is have everyone healthy from here forward. I’ll do my best to keep the crud at bay and roll with if it comes.

I’m preparing for a day tomorrow of cookie-baking, fort-building, crafts, Wii and videos to keep my niños going while El Niño does its stuff.

Today I trudged nine miles on the treadmill. If I’m lucky I might get another round of running indoors tomorrow when “The Dude” gets home from work.

When I was younger I used to get so frustrated when I experienced the run-around in life. These days I kinda expect it’s going to happen occasionally, even with my training. That’s why I hit it hard today, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

I suppose that is true of anything we face in life.

I might as well enjoy tomorrow’s snow day and burn off those extra cookies I know I’ll probably eat when the weather perks up again, on a day when it’s not the run-around.


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: 1,212; Miles left to go: 558.

Chasing rabbits

Today’s 16-mile run pushed me hard. I was trying to keep up with a friend who wanted to go the distance but is faster than I am. We also were running with another Double D friend who is more evenly matched in pace to my first friend than I am.

The result: I only ran a few of the miles with them. They were too fast for me but I kept them in my sight when I could. It made me run faster than I would if they weren’t ahead of me.

I wished I could keep their pace the whole way because it was lonely in spots and tough. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.

There were moments I wanted to give up and I didn’t. I’m proud of that.

Chasing “the rabbits” ahead of me got me in touch with some good mantras for the future:

“You can’t cut the course short on race day. Don’t do it now.”

I used that one to avoid the temptation at the half-way point to stop short at 7.5 or 7.75 miles. I went  the full 8.0 miles, THEN I turned around.

“Stay calm and scale this one step at a time. You CAN do it.”

I used that one on the hills.

“You ARE going to make it. You ARE going to make it. You always do.”

I repeated this one near the end, the last two miles.

“See, YOU did it, you really did!” 

A final statement to the dissenting voice in my head, which plotted to thwart me earlier.

Runner’s World did an article this month on Mantra Magic.  If you are looking for some of your own, check it out. It helped me think and run stronger today.

The magic of a mantra is, it’s like pulling a rabbit out of a hat when you need it most. The mind almost always wants to give out before the body will. That’s when mantras really help.
And once in awhile it doesn’t hurt to chase a few rabbits either.


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

Mileage today: 16; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,203; Miles left to go: 567.

Teaching my daughter “K.V. Switzer’s” legacy

Jane’s second-grade class will be doing projects on famous Americans during the next two weeks. Each child had to pick someone, living or dead, who changed history or instituted a significant social change.

Jane wanted to profile a famous woman. Her list included Amelia Earhart, Kathrine Switzer and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Guess who she got?

That’s right — Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon officially in 1967.  (Roberta Gibb did it, too, but as a bandit.)

Switzer’s bib number was 261.

Jane was incredulous when I explained to her that when Kathrine Switzer ran the marathon, she entered the race as “K.V. Switzer.” The organizers assumed she was a man. The rules at the time didn’t allow women to run the marathon. 

Race officials tried to forcible pull “K.V. Switzer” off the course when they realized what she was doing. The illustration above is based on the famous photo of “the Boston incident,” published around the world in 1967.

The thinking back then was that women could not run 26.2 miles safely; it would “hurt” them and their reproductive organs. 

That’s part of what Kathrine Switzer writes about in her book, Marathon Woman, which tells her story and how she came to believe in herself, run Boston, and buck and reshape the system.

It’s a good read, whether you are a female or male athlete, and it’s an interesting view on society’s evolution. 

“But we’re human, too. Why didn’t they let women run it?” Jane questioned.

They just didn’t know yet that we were capable, I explained to her, but because of Kathrine Switzer’s bravery, now we do.

Today thousands of people run marathons each year, and women are the fastest growing demographic.

Switzer describes running in her book as “the secret weapon.”

I agree.

Marathons are a great demonstration of the “secret weapon.”

Whether you are male or female, young or old, fast or slower, it doesn’t matter — you can get such a sense of accomplishment through completing a marathon.

“I’m glad you’re running the marathon, mom,” Jane told me. “I wish I could do it with you.”

Maybe someday we’ll do one together, I told her. Who knows?

I think Jane is excited because I don’t think any of the other children had Kathrine Switzer on their lists. It will give her a unique perspective when we travel to Boston as a family and I run the marathon.

Jane said she would like to bring something back from that trip to show her class . I suggested something that illustrates the history of the American Revolution, so rich and appropriate to Boston, and something about the marathon since that’s the reason we are going.

I’m hoping to come away with my own show and tell — namely, a finisher’s medal and my own “marathon woman” story.

An homage to “K.V. Switzer” for both Jane and me.

Thank you #261.


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

Mileage yesterday: 10; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,187; Miles left to go: 583

Gear bites

Today’s post comes in the form of gear bites — sweet runner products I wanted to share.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine offered me a shopping discount at a local store and I scored these great tights: Adidas Supernova brushed running tight, P91159 .

Here’s a picture of them, at right.

These tights conquer the three F’s: form, flatter and function. They use compression technical, which is supposed to aid with muscle fatigue. I’d never tried compression tights until these and now I’m sold. They were warm and worked great. They run about $56-$70, depending on where you find them. (My friend got me mine half off at $30 — woo-hoo!)

When I looked them up online I was surprised to find out that they are in fact men’s tights!

I’ve never tried or owned men’s running tights before. I have girly hips, not Deena Kastor’s boy-straight build, but somehow they worked out great anyway. I found them placed in the women’s running section at the store so I guess a clerk made the same mistake I did. When I looked at the tags again later nothing indicated they were men’s.

Who knew??

This next item is clearly girly and for women unless you are drag queen running the Bay to Breakers 12K race in San Francisco (a very fun, crowded event, by the way).

I love my SweatyBands headband, which honestly doesn’t slide or slip when you work out wearing it.  Here’s a picture of the one I’ve got:

It’s stylish and practical, and they run $15-$18. I also use it everyday when I’m just doing errands and need to keep my hair back or wash my face in the morning. It’s a good product that delivers what it advertises — keeping your hair back and looking good. It come in tons of colors and designs.

OK, that’s my retail therapy nibble de jour. (I’m time crunched today so I will deliver a more substantial post later this week.)

I ran 8.25 miles on the treadmill today, including three 1600s at an 7:45 pace for speed work.

I’ve got more Boston qualifier profiles in the works. If you know of more women you would like to suggest, please send them my way.

Happy shopping and happy Wednesday!


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

Mileage today: 8.25; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1177; Miles left to go: 593.

Drinks with umbrellas

Boston or Bahama Mamas?

Lately I’ve been daydreaming about drinks with umbrellas in them and pools with swim-up bars near beaches with turquoise waters while I plod the many miles away in the cold.

I’ve got just 12 weeks to go until Boston …

Truthfully, it’s not really a drink I’m craving. (I’m a teetotaler most of the time.) 

I want what that drink symbolizes for me: completion, success, embracing some much deserved R&R. 

Maybe I’m feeling this way because of Saturday’s windy run.

Or maybe it’s because it’s January in Colorado and blustery outside.

Or maybe it’s because on some training days my tired legs feel as watered down as a TGIF margarita.

It’s probably a combination of all of the above.

Whatever the cause, the effect and outcome is the same. I lust for a day soon where I can swap the lactic acid coursing in my veins for the laziness of Captain Morgan’s in pineapple juice.

Yes, I’m glad I’m doing my Boston training and I like many aspects of it. There are just times, like last week, when I’m not running strong, it feels punishing. That fatigue gets compounded by the obligation I feel to complete my virtual log to Beantown.

Panic also set in when I took some extra, unscheduled recovery time.

What if I can’t make my Denver to Boston mileage goal? Do I give up? Or do I rename the blog and run a shorter distance to a closer East Coast city?

Somehow “New York of Botox?” or “Philadelphia or Botox?” doesn’t capture the same je na sais quoi.

Just when I thought panic would get the better of me, today’s run (9.25 miles) was a turning point. I felt like I got spring back into my step.

I have decided to make some modifications to my training and build in more rest. I’m going to alternate my weeks — running four days one week, five days the other. I’ll throw in extra mileage when I can in the form of more warm-up and cool-down miles.

My concern is staying healthy and injury-free. Otherwise I risk not only “Boston or Botox?” but the marathon itself.

Run smarter, not harder — that’s my motto, and keep my focus on the big picture.

If I can do that, I believe I’ll still make my Denver to Boston mileage goal.

When I finally cross the finish line on Bolyston Street I’m going to celebrate afterward with something  colorful, festive and fruity.

Something yummy I can slurp happily with a pretty umbrella in it.


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

MIleage today: 9.25; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,168.75; Miles left to go: 601.25.

Head winds, mind games, but no ruby slippers

It was brutal.

I’m talking about the wind today during my 19-mile-ish to 20-mile-ish training run.

I don’t know the exact distance because my Garmin gave out so I ran for just over three hours (that’s about what it usually takes me to complete 20 miles), and I called it good.

Plus, I just couldn’t … take it … anymore …

When I lived in New Mexico the Santa Fe Striders hosted an annual run in January called the Corrida de los Locos  — literal translation: the “race of the crazy people.”

The gringo translation: it’s time to freeze your tush off.

The 5.8 cross-country race often fell on a day with miserable conditions — cold, sleet, snow, ice, wind — you name it.

While neither sleet nor ice were a nuisance on today’s route, which was along an exposed bluff, other elements were.

A cold wind blasted us the entire way. We also got a hiccup or two of snow, but it never stuck.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the ghosts of the Corrida de los Locos from my past visited me today. The distance was the equivalent of running three Locos races back to back.

Muy loco indeed.

“Hey MOM, can you turn off the wind machine before we get going?’ my friend, Donna S. from the Distance Divas, shouted to me when we started.


She wasn’t kidding.

Just a few miles into the run it felt like we fell into a wind tunnel.

Dang Dorothy, I mean, err — Donna — we’re not in Kansas in anymore, but you could have fooled me!

If I had ruby slippers  … err … ruby running shoes to click and take us away I would have used them for Donna S. and all of us.

I swear the wind picked me up a few times and threw me back. As I crested the hills I pushed against it like a football player tackling a sled in practice down the 50-yard line, and I couldn’t move any faster. It was painful.

Luckily another Double D friend, Gayle, ran the full 19-ish to 20-ish with me. It kept me going because every logical part of my brain screamed for me to stop and it took all my willpower not to listen.

Why, you might ask, didn’t I stop?

I have this theory — that if we can conquer hard conditions in training, then race day should be a breeze (pun intended) no matter what gets blown our way (ditto).

Mind games over head winds — I hope it pays off and is true. We’ll see.

I will sleep well tonight and I’m grateful for the shelter of my nice, warm home, out of the wind.

Now repeat after me and grab whatever slippers you have (ruby or not): “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. …” 


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

Mileage today: 20 (revised after I confirmed the distance with my Double D friend who ran with me), and a dose of cold and stiffness; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1159.5; Miles left to go: 610.5.

Superman and mere mortals …

A few days I slogged through a tempo run feeling as rundown as a house decaying in east Detroit. If it were not for a friend of mine who helped me, I don’t know how I would have finished.

It’s amazing how some times I can still move as fast as in my 20s, and how at other times I can barely crawl.

On the latter days the demolition crew of my forty-something ego wants to pull out the wrecking ball and I compare myself to the elite marathoners.

They make training and racing look so much easier than the rest of us.

But is it really?

That’s a question I’ve pondered since I read  the December 2010 Runner’s World story on Eddy Hellebuyck where he talked about doping — using performance enhancement substances banned from competition — to win prize money and races as a master’s runner.

The article is an interesting departure from RW’s regurgitated fare of “How to Run Your Fastest 5K yet.”

Sure, the elites come to the table with a lot more ability than us mere mortals.

It’s sort of like racing greyhounds versus wiener dogs. You can tell who’s going to excel right off the bat.

OK — I qualified for Boston. I may not be a wiener dog, but I’m no greyhound either.

I’m something in between — perhaps more like the old Dalmatians who used to run with fire engines? I’m not pure speedy but I race with heart.

You get the picture.

But beyond genetics, just how much of what the elites do is God-given and what part could be enhanced?

For me the article raised even more questions than that:

How many other elite marathoners have done it?

How about the female racers?

And how about the women elite racers who come back so fast and strong after pregnancy? Are they simply more Superman than the rest of us? Or are they aided, too?  Are their performances a combination of both — genetics plus enhancements?

What supplements might those athletes be taking that go under the radar? Could they be taking something that is technically legal for competition but doesn’t show up on a drug test but definitely produces an advantage?

Could they be taking something that’s not tested for yet?

I could on  …

The pressure to perform for them must be off the charts, and so must the temptations. It’s the top racers who get the endorsements and cash prizes.

Sure, for the average Joe being 10th overall in the world in the marathon would be the experience of a lifetime.

For competitors at that elite level, however, it’s probably not enough to keep Nike and others on board forever.

At what point could an athlete be bought out, even if it went against one’s ethics? It’s a good question, not limited to athletics.

In my original essay I joked about Botox. I’ve never had a Botox injection and I don’t believe I ever will. For me the idea of “tox” as in “toxin” in my system is a deterrent. However, I understand why others would do it and the social pressure to look younger. I know friends who have.

If I were Nicole Kidman or Julia Roberts and earned millions of dollars per movie, and my vanity and vocation depended upon Botox and such, and I, too, might be assuaged.

So much of what we read about celebrities is a glimpse of the whole picture in a world that thrives on illusions. When I want to compare myself to them I remind myself of that.

I’m not a greyhound. This isn’t my full-time gig like it is for the elites. I don’t work with a legion of coaches, trainers and therapists, and with state-of-the-art equipment  and who knows what else.

And there’s the X factor that goes into making them what they are that you and I may not know about, and might be kosher or not. Who can tell?

As a mere mortal I can listen to my body and do my best.

And I can send the wrecking ball of comparisons away to another neighborhood.


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

Today is a rest day — I’ve got a 20-miler slated for tomorrow; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1139.5; Miles left to go 630.5.

Boston profile #8: Sue Gallup — from ski racer to speed chaser

Powerful and billy-goat strong — that’s how Sue Gallup, 52, of Fort Collins, Colorado, is running these days.

That’s not too shabby considering Gallup only took up more mileage and marathoning about five years ago — starting in her mid-40s and into her 50s.

Above is a picture of Gallup crossing the finish line at the Big Sur International Marathon in 2009.

She completed Big Sur in 3:57 to qualify for Boston.

“I’m basically competitive with myself. I didn’t have it as a formal goal in my mind to qualify for Boston but I hoped for it,” Gallup admitted, “When I planned for Big Sur I thought about how to run it well, at a realistic pace, going up and down the hills, and it worked out. I was very happy.”

Big Sur, described as a “moderately difficult course” with a six-hour cutoff, according to its web site, was only her second marathon.

Her first was the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland — a breathtaking course in Alps that requires true billy-goat stamina.

Here’s a picture of runners from the Jungfrau race.

Gallup said she loves mountaineering and scenic courses. A native of Washington state she grew up competing in ski racing. She used to run for fitness as part of her dry-land training.

She’s lived in Colorado for several years, works for Hewlett-Packard as an engineer, and enjoys trail running and living in the Rocky Mountains.

“I used to run a couple of times a week for fitness, but I really got into more serious running about five and a half years ago,” she said. “My sister wanted to do the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (in San Francisco) and I wanted to do it, too, but I didn’t want to get injured so I hired a coach.”

Gallup trains with Kent Oglesby, the head track coach at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins and a himself seasoned national runner.

“He’s an awesome coach and so encouraging. He pushed me harder than I thought I could go and made me so much stronger,” she said.

Gallup planned to run the Boston Marathon in April 2010 but got side-lined by a case of plantar fascitis. She took three months off, but got her entry deferred. She will run the Boston Marathon instead this year.

“I’m really look forward to being there and being part of the tradition of the race,” she said. “I think it’s going to be fun.”

During her recovery time she cross-trained by rowing at a local reservoir. During the last several months she’s gradually returned to running.

“Dealing with the injury was a really humbling experience,” she explained.

Her goal is to finish Boston healthy. “I’m just thankful to be running again.”

She’s also planning to run the Steamboat Half Marathon in June.

As you get older you can succeed at staying fit, but it takes more vigilance, she said. You have to stretch more often, stay limber, listen to your body, get good sleep and eat better.

“When you are running well it feels so great and it’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s a great way to keep in shape and a wonderful sport. It takes you places you would not normally go.”

Gallup said she’s also made many great friendships because of the sport.  “My hope is to be able to run the rest of my life. That would be really great and what it’s about for me.”


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

Mileage yesterday: 7.5, mileage today: 6; Denver to Boston miles logged: 1,131.5; Miles left to go: 638.5.

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.

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.