Running with gratitude … eucharisteo

Tarzan, my periodically sweet 5-year-old. woke up this morning replaced by Tarzan-o-saurus Rex.

The first thing he did was throw a Jurassic Park-sized tantrum over a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

I’m not kidding. He took no prisoners.

I bought Krispy Kremes for Tarzan and Jane (a rare treat) a few days ago and I made a point of dividing them equally. Tarzan finished his last doughnut the day before and this morning he wanted me to short Jane and give him the last one.

“I hate you,” Tarzan screamed at me when I didn’t relent, “You lie. You don’t love me.”

Fighting words for a kindergartner … and all over stupid, artery-clogging fried dough.

(I guess that will teach me for buying glazed goods …)

He exhausted the better part of an hour yelling, crying, demanding his way. He woke up his sister, refused to get dressed, or cooperate, or eat anything else, and kept screaming.

I thought I was going to lose my marbles.

Thank God kindergarten drop-off arrived by noon and I ran today.

Before kindergarten a neighbor took Tarzan for a play date with her son. (We trade off and help each other regularly.)  I could have kissed her when Tarzan went to her house today. She and a guardian angel out there saved me.

I worked while he gone. I picked Tarzan up right before noon, gave him lunch and took him to school.

Once he was gone again … I ran out my frustrations with him… hard.

I ran and I prayed … for a reason to be grateful again because today motherhood felt like punishment, not grace.

A friend of mine, another mom with a challenging child, summarized it perfectly the other day when we were chatting. Sometimes you get a “plus-kid” — the kind who no matter what you do or how many times you set boundaries the child demands more, more, more … of you.

Such moments remind me of that scene in “Jurassic Park” where the raptors peck at the fence, looking for weaknesses to break down.

I can no sooner let my guard down before Tarzan’s off testing my mettle, patience and sanity.

The good side is, if I can channel his tenacity into something positive he’s going to be an incredible young man some day. (Please God, help me do it.)

Recently I read a book, “A Thousand Gifts,” by Ann Voskamp. In it she challenges herself to journal a thousand gifts of gratitude in her own life, referring to eucharisteo — “giving thanks” in Greek. (It’s also where the phrase, Eucharist, derives.)

Her observations are deeply moving and spiritual. She has an exquisite command of language and imagery — a “writer’s writer” who polishes phrases into jewels.

Anyway, my point is Voskamp, the author, is a farmer’s wife who home-schools six children (I think I’d be shooting staples into my forehead if that were me, especially after today) and she’s able to identify all this gratitude in her life, in the big and the small ways, in the beautiful and the tragic, and yes, even when her children drive her nuts like Tarzan did with me today. It’s an incredible read.

As I ran today I hunted and pecked, raptor-style, for my own lost gratitude.

I began to count and create my own “runner’s eucharisteo” — the large and small gifts, extraordinary and everyday — brought into my life.

1. The warm sun on my face.
2. The Colorado Rockies in the distance.
3. The tranquility after the emotional “storms” (such as today’s)
4. Time alone with my thoughts, able to hash things out.
5. The endless blue skies above me and the slight golden changing of the leaves.
6. The sweat on my body (cleansing away my anger)
7. My Dayglo-yellow water bottles I carry on my fuel belt.
8. The delicious taste of cold water on my parched lips.
9. The friend who watched my son today while I worked.
10. A body fit enough to keep moving forward (and that took me to the Boston Marathon).
11. The sound of my feet striding on dirt and pavement.
12. People who read this blog and cheer me on.
13. The smile and waves of people on my path today.
14. Running partners and friendships.
15. My digital running buddies on and Facebook.
16. Getting to witness other athlete’s stories, hard work and progress.
17. Feeling my muscles work hard and push.
18. Looking down at my Garmin and the surprise of seeing I’m faster (or slower) than I thought.
19. Enjoying a hot shower after a run.
20. The smell of cut grass by the golf course along my path.

I hope you see where I’m going with this … the gratitude began to drain away my anger and replaced it with … ta-da … joy!

Eucharisteo, runner’s style, pulled me out from the morning’s muck.

21. The fortitude to nurture a little boy with a penchant for pushing boundaries.
22. Participating in Kids Running America — a running program at my children’s school.
23. Running downhill, holding Tarzan’s hand, during a recent Kids Running America session.
24. Accepting his apology later today.
25. The strength to move past Krispy Kremes and Tarzan-o-saurus Rex. (Next time, however, I’ll pass on buying doughnuts.)

The day is over now and I have much more to be thankful for, then not.

A runner’s eucharisteo — I’m sure I could count to a thousand on my own list.

Can you?

Give it a try.


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

Mileage today; 7; Mileage since 602.1


Destination: Courage

Reposted from August 26, 2011

It’s amazing how the culture of celebrity affects us. It can even create
the allusion of kinship. That’s how I feel when I read articles about
superstar athlete Kara Goucher.

Although I’ve never met her personally (although I have met and
interviewed a few celebrity runners) I can’t help liking Kara Goucher
and her accomplishments. She comes off like someone you could chat with
over a Starbucks … at least in print.

It also helps that Kara and I, believe it or not, appear to have a few things in common such as ….

She’s the mom of young boy and so am I (“Tarzan,” my son, is a few years older than Colton, her son).

Her father, Mirko Grgas, who died in a car accident when she was 4 years
old, was born in the same country where both my parents were born.
(We’ve got the common gene-pool thing going.)

Her son’s middle name is Mirko, based on her dad, and “Tarzan” also got his middle name from his Balkan grandfather — my dad.

Kara Goucher, even though she’s a world-class athlete, has fought her psyche demons as a runner and worked hard to overcome.

OK, so I’m not an elite runner like Kara Goucher is, and never will be,
but I do know how a crisis of confidence can undermine one personally.

I’ve done it a lot, too.

For me it’s usually my head that gives out when I race. Just ask my friend Pam.
I will never forget the conversation she and I had after my first two
attempts to qualify for Boston and failing. Everything in my physical
training plans had gone well and pointed to my ability to do it.

“It’s your head that’s messing with you now,” she told me.

I needed to BELIEVE I could do it.

Although I’d done ALL the long runs, and intervals, and tempo runs, and
weeks and weeks of training — my head was the missing element and
holding me back.

It took incorporating mental training for me to qualify for Boston
finally on that third try. The mind allows wants to quit before the body
and it will if you let it.

This is also why I respect Kara Goucher. A few years ago she opened up about her own mental crashes and burns in a Runner’s World motivational article, “Mind Gains.”

Until I read that interview I thought it was only me who sabotaged
myself mentally during a race. It helped to know that it even happens to
Kara Goucher. The tips in that article helped me to refocus.

I wish I could say, “Poof! Magic! I don’t do that anymore!”

The truth is … it’s a constant battle. Some people are prone to
physical injuries when they race. I wrestle with myself internally.

These days I’ve been standing at a similar point where I was after
trying to qualify for Boston and failing the first few times. After
getting sick with shingles and not running as much lately my confidence
has been as wobbly as a lopsided table.

To shore up my battered psyche I’ve been using visualization techniques
(seeing the finisher’s clock with the time I want) before I go to sleep
and mantras when I run:

“You WILL get over this wall before you leave this obstacle course, sugar britches!”
(Yes, I saw re-run of “Officer and A Gentleman” the other night. Now the line won’t leave my head!)

I re-read that Runner’s World article about Kara Goucher for
inspiration and I’ve been following the great things some of my friends
have been doing lately — Katie, Jane, Michele and Pat — whom I
mentioned in posts a few days ago.

It took courage for Katie to return to the Leadville this year and slay 100 MILE BEAST!

It also took courage for Jane, Michele and Pat to look into the abyss of
that ultra (the TransRockies race), face the unknown and conquer the
epic challenge before them.

In two weeks I will race again myself — the Pocatello Half Marathon.
Although it’s not the mega-mileage those women did I’m seeking a PR.

I REALLY want it and my heart and head could use it. It’s possible if my
confidence and courage can cooperate instead of spare with each other.

There’s a great quote by Henry Ford that keeps going through my mind:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

Things worth achieving are also worth the risk of failure, I believe.

Kara Goucher has learned that one the hard way.

So have I.

Please send good vibes my way because pretty soon …here I go again. I’m going for it.

Big-hair music from my past to fuel my badass dreams in the present.


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

Mileage today: 5; Mileage since Boston: 470.3.

30-day Challenge: H2, uh-oh?

Got thirst?

If so, you are not alone, which is the point of this Boston or Botox midweek wellness topic: Mindful Hydration.

It’s easy to flub this one. We all have work, family, or children, busy lives. We operate on overload and reach for that Diet Coke or something else fast instead of H20.

Few people I know are true human Super Soakers from the inside when it comes to consuming enough water.

I know I often find myself sporadically sipping water throughout the day. The problem with that is 1) you don’t get enough water; and 2) you don’t realize how dehydrate you actually are until it’s too late.

A water deficiency comes about like any other debt we create in our lives (Credit cards, anyone?). Usually it creeps up on you gradually (a Starbucks a day on the plastic) until collectively you’re in the hole.

Suddenly one day you find yourself dry-mouthed, skin parched and running lousy (or maybe dropping $100-plus a month on Skinny Lattes, which bloats your checkbook).

Chronic water loss, H2, uh-oh, is especially true with hydration and running or other endurance sports. It requires you get the eight times eight ounces of water that’s recommended, plus more for the fluids you sweat.

Here’s another common mistake many athletes make on top of that: You still need to hydrate in the cooler or winter months, not just when it’s hot. In the winter the water loss and sweat may not seem as obvious but it’s there. We wear more layers of clothing running, which still makes us sweat, and we spend our days more in the dry, heated indoors — also dehydrating.

Dehydration comes with consequences (yes, the runner’s equivalent of penalty points on the plastic): You potentially run slower,
run shorter, and, as anyone who’s run dehydrated knows, you feel crappy running.

Severe dehydration can land you in the medical tent at a marathon, cramping all over, with an IV in your arm to replace lost fluids.

Yes, that scenario would be moi once upon a time.

Two and a half years ago, when I ran my first marathon again after a decade hiatus I overdressed for the race, overheated and didn’t drink enough — classic rookie moves but I learned from it.

This is why I’m issuing this running coach challenge to myself and offering up to you, too: Mindful hydration for the next 30 days to create a better, healthy habit and life.

My strategy, which I’ve already been testing, is to carry this Colorado Rockies bottle (shown above) with me at all meals and after workouts. It’s filled to the 16-ounce mark and I am putting myself on a water-drinking schedule.

16 ounces when I wake up in the morning to rev the metabolism
16 ounces with breakfast
16 ounces with lunch
16 ounces with dinner

If I workout or run I drink up to an additional 16 ounces.

I feel better, I’m eating healthier and I don’t crave as much junk, I’m sleeping better, and there’s less fog on my brain when I work and write.

I’m on Week Two of an 18-week training plan for the Charleston Marathon (Jan. 14) and so far, so good.
Yesterday I ran 8 miles, including 4 X 1600 repeats at an 8-minute-per-mile pace, 800 jogs in between, and hit them all a tad faster, negatively splitting each 1600 as I went.

I believe Mindful Hydration is making a difference.

Now I know what you might be thinking, “Duh, isn’t drinking enough water all the time obvious?”

Yes, indeed it is. Here’s the kicker though: Often the basic solutions in life aren’t complex but that doesn’t mean we follow them. The challenge is in the consistency and execution. That’s why I’m calling this “The Mindful Hydration 30-day Challenge.”

Want to make this or any other change? Plug in your mind and body together, and if needed, WRITE IT DOWN, too — this is where the miracle of consciousness and transformation begins.

Attached is a Runner’s World article that supports “Mindful Hydration” and discusses the consequences of dehydration: Sipping Points.

If this challenge speaks to you, join me. You can borrow my method or create your own.

Salud and happy striding and sipping!


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

Mileage today: 7; Mileage since Boston: 575.1.

Shopping (and aging) in the clearance section

Aging ain’t for sissies.

I’m not kidding.

I can live with it most of the time. Occasionally it catches me off guard.

The other day, for example, I was shopping the summer clearance section at Target. I was looking for my children’s sizes, when I had this strange epiphany: My retail hunt mirrored what my hormones had been going through for the past few months — too much of one thing and not enough of another.

If you have ever shopped the clearance sections anywhere you know what I’m talking about. You need a size medium and all you can find are extra larges.

As you age it becomes worse. Think the Christmas clearance section. It’s 75 percent off, picked over, AND the supplier has run out for good.

I can live without a velvet Christmas tree skirt.

Estrogen off-kilter is another matter.

Several weeks ago I visited my ob/gyn to see if I could find answers to my hormone imbalances. Lately they could be mistaken for the ups and downs of the stock market, and if you follow Wall Street at all, you know it’s been a bumpy ride.

Perhaps my hormones have been “sympathy cycling” with the Dude, who works in that industry? I’m not certain, but I’m sure he, too, would agree with me on this one: Yo-yo-ing sucks.

My doc told me the likely cause of my problems is perimenopause.

What does that mean?

Perimenopause is the hormonal time before the “factory shuts down” — where you get all the fun symptoms like hot flashes, insomnia (check), trouble maintaining your weight (check), moodiness (check), fatigue (check), and irregular cycles (yup, check again).

Now I know what a few of you might be thinking: You are too young to be going through those menopausal symptoms.

Here’s where I can clarify a misconception.

Menopause technically is when the factory has already shut down — defined as when you haven’t had a cycle for more than a whole year.

The time frame leading up to it, essentially the “fire sale,” with all the crazy symptoms is perimenopause. The process is very individual and can start as early as your mid-30s but usually begins somewhere in your 40s, and here’s where it gets even better.

It can last for a short time, or for several years until menopause (the true factory closure) arrives.

As my doc put: “Your body and hormones are going through puberty in reverse.”

Puberty?! Remember how much fun that was for everyone, girls and boys included?

Yeeee-haaaw!! Ain’t growing older a bowl of cherries?!

Comedian Roseanne summarized “reverse puberty” to the effect of something like, you get hair where you don’t want and not enough where you do. That’s stuff guys (Rogaine, anyone?) can relate to, also, along with the propensity for a thickening (Got cortisol?) middle.

At least aging is an equal-opportunity employer, I suppose …

Enough of the bad news.

My doc did blood work and revealed I am vitamin D deficient and my thyroid level are normal but “not optimal.” She said I could take a prescription (optional) if I wanted for the thyroid.

I’m taking vitamin D and multi-vitamins, but skipping the prescription meds.

I figure if my Baba (grandma) and centuries of women before me mustered through this so can I.

Instead I’m focused on eating healthier, drinking enough water and getting enough sleep. The result: I’m feeling well again and running strong.

Running, especially, still seems to be one of the most effective tools in the anti-aging arsenal. I think for many of us, young or older, that’s true.

I honestly don’t know if there are any miracle pills out there (perhaps little blue ones for the boys out there?) to resolve hormonal problems yet, but I have become a fan of melatonin for my sleep. I don’t need it often, but when I do, it does the trick. Between melatonin and Tarzan being in kindergarten (giving me a breather), and the other things I’m doing, I feel sane and healthier again.

Now if I could just find a few size mediums at “Tarjay” …


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

Mileage today: 7; Mileage since Boston: 560.1


Tarzan’s kindergarten dash

BOSTONORBOTOX.COM published a new post entitled “Tarzan’s kindergarten dash” on 8/3/2011 10:41:21 PM, written by Danica.(Reposting — one of the “lost” posts.)

Tarzan’s kindergarten dash

started kindergarten today. Colorado only requires a half-day
kindergarten program at public schools. He will be going every

For the first time in several years I will have few hours to myself EACH and EVERY day during the week on a steady basis.

Praise God — hallelujah!

That’s time I can utilize to write and work, and on occasion, run and
train without having to get up at o’dark early — what a concept!

For days …  weeks … even years now  … I’ve been running on
the proverbial treadmill of life, waiting for this day to come —
Tarzan’s final dash to kindergarten — when my youngest child begins
school and
I finally get a few hours to myself again.

Forgive if I repeat myself but Tarzan, age 5, hasn’t been a napper since
he was 2 years old. For those of you who don’t have children, let me
explain the importance of nap time when you are a stay-at-home mother.
It’s God’s way of giving mothers of young children a daily reprieve and
nature’s way of thwarting us from eating our young.

I’m kidding, of course!

But seriously, trust me when I say naps for young children are a really, really good thing.

When Tarzan began to give up his naps at an earlier-than-normal age I tried everything to get him to hang on — EVERYTHING.

I knew without his naps I would barely hang on myself.

After I realized nothing would work the sound of “Taps” echoed throughout my neighborhood.

Again — I’m kidding.

OK, actually I wept a lot. (Now I’m not kiddin

Finally I moved into acceptance. I did the best I could. 

This is why I refer to my second-born in this blog as “Tarzan, my wild
child.” (Also, I don’t use my children’s names for privacy sake and
because they never asked to be part of my “material.”)

Now that it is here at last– kindergarten is a huge turning point for
Tarzan and me. I hope and pray it will be good for us both. I know he’s
ready academically and I believe he’s ready socially but he does worry
me at times.

Tarzan’s astrological sign is Gemini, often symbolized by the picture of
twins. The two faces of Gemini suit his mood swings well — sweet and sour.
Today’s transition included both of those aspects of him. He started
the day pitching tantrums and ended it showering me in hugs and kisses.

Mothering Tarzan has been a marathon by itself.  I’m not even at the
half mark yet, and I’m exhausted and need to refuel. I’m sure Tarzan has
plenty of “training”
in store for me ahead.

Lord help us both …

And yet … I adore my little stinker.

Tarzan, my wild child, is the little boy of my heart and soul — the one
I dreamed of for so many years when I was still married to my first
husband and knew I would never have if I had remained in that
ill-fitting union.

Tarzan, a little sweet, a little sour, was worth the wait (the divorce, remarrying and finally the arrival of my children).

Now to find out if our journey toward kindergarten has been worth the wait, too.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.


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

Mileage today: 6; Miles since Boston: 384.

Chum is “fum”!

Reposted from June 23, 2011
(For anyone new to Boston or Botox, a few weeks ago I inadvertently lost several posts. Some of my kind readers sent me copies to help me restore them. That’s why I’m reposting. Thanks for your patience.)

“Chum is fum!”

There’s a SpongeBob episode where Patrick Starfish — one of
SpongeBob’s bumbling cohorts — gets hired to do PR for a restaurant
called the Chum Bucket. He comes up with the catchy slogan: “Chum is

To his surprise the slogan takes off.

I felt like Patrick Starfish last week when a Columbine board member
told me the regulars at the club’s track workouts wanted to meet me
after reading the weekly eBlasts (news bulletin) I put out for the

Chum is fum!!

Yes, I was flattered they wanted to put a face to my name but I also groaned inwardly.


Ever since I took over the eBlast in January for the Columbines (a
Denver-based women’s running club) the eBlast has been a digital monkey
on my back each Thursday.

(The Columbines shown doing ab work post track workout.)

On one hand, I want to do a good job because I was asked to help and
that’s my nature. On the other, I just want it to go away. I was already
over-committed before it came along.

The eBlast for me is what I imagine it’s like to be Mary Matalin married to James Carville.

Chum is fum!!

People who don’t work from home with young children around don’t
realize how difficult it is to complete such projects with them there.
There’s a reason why we don’t take our children to the office with us
everyday … we’d end up like wolf spiders and eat our young!

(I’m double- counting my own legs as I write this!)

Seriously, I get very little, focused time to myself.

During the day, if
I try to work and write, it’s in shorts spurts with lots of
interruptions. Over time it makes my head implode and
sometimes I melt down worse than my kids do.

Chum is fum!!

“Jane,” my daughter, has always been an easy child. All she needs is a doll and dream and she’ll entertain herself for hours.

As for “Tarzan,” well, let’s just say I nicknamed him Tarzan in the blog for a reason.
God put Tarzan on this planet to teach me many things, primarily
patience. There’s nothing my sweet boy loves more than interrupting me
and begging for my attention when I’m most crazed …  except for
watching SpongeBob …

Chum is fum!!

The only way to quell Tarzan, age 5, if I don’t have a sitter or play date lined up, is the TV or video games.

The end result is Tarzan has spent more time in front of the boob tube than Lady Gaga has hits on YouTube.

That’s also why we’re such … ahem  … connoisseurs of quality TV trivia in our household.

Chum is fum!!

I feel guilty about Tarzan’s TV habit. So … I often try to get up
early … or stay up late to work after the kiddos are in bed. That’s
often when I finish those eBlasts, or these posts, or other writing.

As you can imagine one ALWAYS produces ingenious, flawless, QUALITY
material under such circumstances … solo and tired.. serving as chief
writer, editor, proofreader, copy editor, photographer,  graphic
designer, publisher … plus mom.

Sigh ….

Chum is fum!!

It caught me off guard when my friend asked me about coming to the track
workout. Tarzan and I made an appearance on Tuesday and I ran with that
group for the first time. Several people there were kind and told me
how much they enjoy the eBlasts.

I’m glad they do, in spite of my pitiful Patrick Starfish efforts. I do
those eBlasts like everything else in my life right now — on a
shoestring of time. Don’t we all, I suppose?

I feel like the
eBlasts, my blog posts, my writing, and even my running efforts are a
minimal reflection of my formerly polished, professional self before
other household priorities took over.

Someday she’ll come back in full force when I’m able to unbury her from the mountain of kid toys and obligations in my household.

Then it will be look out world.

Chum is … fum!!   


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

Mileage yesterday: 6; Mileage since Boston: 239.8

Prima … Donnas

Prima “Donnas,” from left to right: me, Danica “Donna” Lucker; “Mo’Donna”  — cross-dressed gorilla mannequin wearing a “Donna,” Boulder Running Company name tag, and my Distance Divas friend Donna Stuedeman.

A long time ago I learned this simply rule about running: Either you are a costume runner or you are not.

Yes, I like to laugh and jest. That’s why I snapped this photo op of myself (my nickname is Donna), my friend Donna, and “Mo’Donna” — our third prima “Donna.”

I’m glad, however, “Mo’Donna” wore the fur yesterday, and not me. I’m especially happy I didn’t have to run in it.

Racing in a gorilla suit is not my style. I know this for certain because I used to do such things when I lived with my ex-husband many years ago.

Ours was a “mixed” marriage: he was more costume than runner; I was more runner than costume. I gravitated to the “serious” running crowd; he found his calling with the Hash House Harriers. (Hence, one of the many reasons we didn’t last.)

For those of you unfamiliar with “the Hash,” as it’s referred to in inner circles, it’s an international club that bills itself a “drinking club with a running problem.”

Legend says it was started by a group of British ex-pats in Malaysia decades ago who played the game of hares and hounds. (A “hare” marked the trail with flour and the hounds chased and tried to catch the hare.) The runs usually ended at local “hash house” for grub, brews and debauchery.

Over time the concept spread across the globe. If you are keyed into the network you can find “Hashes” all over today.

Besides the flour and trail marking the Hash runs I went on with my ex included beer stops along the route, lots of bawdy gesturing and singing, and yes, occasionally costuming.

Hashes are famous across the country for their Red Dress Runs where everyone, guys included, run in — you guessed it — red dresses.

There’s also the annual Betty Ford Run in Southern California where Hashers do beer bongs in front of it.

In essence the Hash was, and still is, a slow-moving frat party for middle-aged men. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, that suited my ex perfectly.)

That’s not to say I didn’t have some fun back then. I liked marking trails as the hare and I did make some wonderful friends. I appreciate the spirit behind it and the concept of running in a costume, but the drunkenness and over-the-top element that usually ensued is just not me.

Also, my ex was, as they say, “a handful.” Extreme Hashing (such as gratuitous vulgarity and disrobing and mooning people) and brashness were his essence.

Over time both he and his Hashing antics grated on me.

The one time I enjoyed running in a costume was at a 5K Halloween race in Los Alamos, New Mexico, home to Los Alamos National Laboratory. I dressed as a Los Alamos ID badge. The organizers and other runners — most of whom probably worked at “the Lab” — gave me lots of quizzical, dirty looks. Maybe it was because my costume badge wasn’t DOE clearance? Anyway I thought my costume was clever. (Also, it was easy to run fast in it and I placed in my age group.)

Most of the time, however, I prefer to RUN when I go for a run. If I go to a party, it’s after, not during a run. Plus, I’m not a drinker anymore.

The Hash was too much for me, but not enough for ex. When we parted ways he got the Hashers, the house and the dog; I got my Sauconys and freedom. I’ve never run in a costume again and I’ve never looked back.

Thirteen years later I have two children and I’m with the right man — he’s neither a costume runner nor Hasher (thank God).

I’ve learned to never say never, so who knows? Maybe someday I’ll run another 5K in a costume. I know I’ll pass on the beer bongs and vulgarities. I’m definitely a PG-13 runner these days, not a Hasher.

“Mo’Donna” pulls off the boa and fur much better than I do anyway.


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

Mileage yesterday: 12; Mileage since Boston: 551.1

Boston Profile #16: Julie Ray — A teacher becomes the student

Reposted from August 8, 2011

Boston Profile #16: Julie Ray — A teacher becomes the student

It’s never too late to learn how to improve and a great coach can make a big difference.

Those are two lessons Boston qualifier #16, Julie Ray, learned a few years ago when she qualified for Boston in 2009.

Ray is a high-school English teacher from Portland, Oregon, and she
also coaches high-school cross country with national-level coach Andrew Begley.

Begley is talented himself and was an All-American runner in high school and college.

Begley is married to Olympic distance runner Amy Yoder Begley, who trains with Alberta Salazar.

It was Begley who changed Ray’s running when she agreed to have him coach her.

“My friend Tina and I joked that we would just wait until we got
older, when the qualifying times got easier, and then we’d try to
qualify,” said Ray, who had finished three marathons in about 4 hours

She said the idea of qualifying was always in the back of her mind but she never took it seriously until she worked with Begley.

Ray mentioned “her plan” one day casually in front of him. He turned
to her in seriousness and told her, “If you want to qualify for Boston, I
can get you there. You can do it.”

Ray agreed. Begley took her under his wing, writing her a marathon training plan and began to coach her.

Ray said although she had coached cross country athletes and been a
runner herself for about 10 years, she had never done the kind of
running he asked her to do.

For the first time Ray was doing speed work, tempo runs and longer midweek runs, too.

All the training Begley gave had her a purpose and was much more diversified than what she had been doing.

Ray said she was training harder than she had for her previous marathons or other races.

When her next marathon rolled around Ray made a huge leap. She ran
the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington, D.C. and shaved 17 minutes off,
qualifying for Boston in 3:45:46.

“I was thrilled,” Ray, 43, said.

A teacher herself for 21 years she said it made her a believer in the power of a good teacher/coach.

“I went, for example, from running a half marathon in about 1 hour,
55 minutes, to running them in about 1 hour, 42 minutes,” she said. “I’m
still training with Andrew, and now I often place in my age group at
races. It’s remarkable.”

Begley continued to coach her when she ran Boston in 2010, and she ran a
faster time there, 3:44:54: even with two bathroom stops included.

“There is nothing like the crowd support at Boston. It’s an amazing experience,” she said.

Boston is “the people’s Olympics” for so many, she added. Most of us
will never be true Olympians or professional athletes, but Boston’s
qualifying standards and history, and the goal of getting there gives
everyday runners something great to achieve.

Ray is training to run another marathon in October, again under
Begley’s guidance. She said she hopes to break 3 hour, 40 minutes.
Eventually she’d love to run a marathon in 3 hours, 35 minutes.

The training has been grueling at times, but it’s taught her she can run tougher than she thought she could.

Ray said she’s very happy with her goals and training, and she owes
to what happened to her when she qualified for and ran Boston, and the
transformation that followed with Begley’s help.

“You just can’t beat the Boston experience,” Ray said.


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

Mileage today: 4; Mileage since Boston: 406.1.


Boston Profile #17: Cindy Warner — a late-bloomer

Reposted from August 14, 2011

Boston Profile #17: Cindy Warner — a late-bloomer

ome people are all or nothing types … the kind who when they put their minds to something they go whole hog or not at all.

next Boston qualifier, Cindy Warner of Johnstown, Ohio, may not be that
way with the rest of her life, but that’s essentially what she did when
she ran her first marathon, the Columbus Marathon.

Warner went from running 5Ks, straight to marathons.

wasn’t the smartest move. I wouldn’t recommend it,” she joked. “I was
naive and I didn’t realize how much it would hurt after mile 22. I
crawled to the end.”

So how does one make the giant leap, mentally and physically, from 5Ks (3.1 miles) to marathons (26.2 miles)?

off, Warner was coming back into the work force after staying home for
several years to raise her three children. Her youngest child at that
time had just started kindergarten and she received her certification to
become a personal trainer. She also was working out more herself.

Then a friend and training partner began talking to her about their
bucket lists in life. Both of theirs included — you guessed it —
running a marathon. That’s how they started training for one together.

“I kind of got a late start into it, doing my first marathon at age 41,
and I went from 5Ks, straight to marathons,” Warner explained. “It was
until after that first marathon (Columbus) I did all the distances in

She finished the Columbus Marathon worn out, saying she’d never do
another marathon again. (Don’t we all think that right after we

Yes, she thought about qualifying for Boston … some day, but it was pipe dream and she wasn’t counting on it.

“I don’t like putting that kind of pressure and expectation on myself and then getting disappointed,” she added.

Over time Warner jumped back on the saddle and trained for more marathons.

ran the Steamtown Marathon a couple of times and then Columbus Marathon
again. That’s where she achieved Boston-qualifying magic, at her fourth
marathon race.

“I wasn’t trying to qualify. It was the first time I didn’t hit the wall (at a marathon) and I went for it,” she explained.

said she could tell about half way into it that qualifying for Boston
was a possibility, and when she didn’t hit the wall she went for it.

Between the clock time and chip times, however, Warner didn’t realize she had qualified until she crossed the finish line.

group of friends told me,” she said. “They must have been watching my
progress online as I was going, and my son got to see me finish, which
was really great.”

She qualified for her age group in 4 hours with “some spare change in seconds.”

Warner was thrilled. “I was on cloud nine for about a week after that. I couldn’t believe it.”

She qualified in October 2009 and ran Boston in April 2010.

Everything seemed to be going great for her during those training
weeks between the two race until about two months before Boston.

when Warner injured her IT band and had to take time off to recover.
She said she barely squeezed in one 20-miler training run before Boston.

Initially it put a damper on things but then she shifted her focus.
Her goal became running and finishing Boston conservatively and not
re-injuring herself. It wasn’t easy but she pulled it off and still had
the experience of a lifetime.

“It was worth it,” she said.

children are all older, 18, 13, and 10, and that makes it easier for
her to continue training for races and working with personal-training

She still gets up early mornings to run before her children are awake. Currently she’s training for the New York City Marathon. She said she’d love to qualify for Boston again and possibly PR.

she often does her long training runs now like she did when qualified
for Boston — starting out slower at the start and then running about 75
percent of the run at goal pace.

“It’s a mental trick for me, knowing I can do it and then picking it up at the end,” she explained.

New York Marathon is considered a harder race than Boston, she added,
but that’s not daunting her. She said she’s looking forward to
experiencing the scenery and feel of it.

By qualifying for, and running Boston herself, and working with others, she’s been able to see “the great things people can do.”

Warner is proof it’s never too late to start, and dreams worth dreaming are worth the effort.

a great race, and there’s excitement in the corrals and with all the
spectators,” she said. “It was amazing wearing your jacket around town
and people turning to you and and congratulating you for being there and
running. It was all very exciting.”


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

Today’s a rest day; Mileage since Boston: 427.3


Run, Forrest, run!!

“I just felt like running …”
— Forrest Gump

There … I went and did it again … serial marathoning, that is.

I signed up for the Charleston Marathon, Jan. 14, with a group of girlfriends from the Distance Divas.

Why Charleston, you might ask?

Rhett Butler from “Gone With the Wind” was from Charleston. Isn’t that reason enough?

OK, I’m kidding … Rhett wasn’t the reason, although I did read the “Gone With the Wind” enough times to know Rhett says “his people” are from Charleston in it.

The real scoop is one of the gals in our Distance Divas running group, Carol, has a goal of running a half marathon (or marathon) in all 50 states. She’s getting close to hitting them all. South Carolina is one of the last on her list. She told one of our mutual friends about Charleston, and word spread. Before I knew it I was on the band wagon, too.

It will be a girl’s weekend and marathon #8 for me. Beyond that I’m borrowing from another famous, fictional, fleet-footed Southerner, not Rhett Butler, but Forrest Gump.

Remember when Forrest Gump runs across the country repeatedly and reporters ask why he’s doing it?

Is it for world peace? The homeless? Some other grand notion?

“I just felt like running …” he tells them (slurring his Southern syllables a mile long).

No, I don’t have any fancy reasoning either for doing this race.

I just feel like running

Why not do it? I’ve never been to Charleston. I hear it’s a lovely place.

Unlike Boston, which is 115 years old, Charleston is a “young marathon.” This will be the second time the organizers have staged it. The website for Charleston contains a course map but no course elevation profile. Charleston is at sea level. Other than that I have no idea what else I am getting myself into beyond the 26.2 miles of any other marathon.

This is a
complete departure from my mind set last year when I trained
for and ran Boston. (That’s a picture of me
running Boston above.)  

I’m running Charleston without the yoke of expectations. It’s liberating.

Yes, I have a training plan, and yes, I aspire to run well.

Mostly, however, I hope to run it smiling. That’s why I choose to use that photo from Boston … my race smile in it. When I look at that picture I forget about the size of my thighs (which I don’t like), or how my Garmin bonked along the course (about half way into it), or the pain I felt at that moment (it was taken around mile 20).

I re-live the joy of the journey and the grace that got me there. 

Today my friend Pam, who ran Boston with me last year, was one of the many runners trying to register for Boston in the second wave of qualifiers. (This year Boston is allowing people to register in waves, according to how fast they ran their qualifying times. Organizers hope to avoid the debacle of last year.)

This will be Pam’s third Boston Marathon. Beforehand she shared with me her ambivalence as to whether she should register or not. When she heard the field might fill before her queue came up she got clear. She wants to do it again.

I, on the other hand, am happy to have my health back after getting shingles several weeks ago. I’m running strong once again, and content just to “pull a Forrest” — run sans a lofty reason, but for the simplicity of it, itself.

Runners find all kinds of reasons for motivation. Some thrive on worldly, outward goals. I prefer to cocoon, and it’s when I tap into my inner strength, I manifest my goals and accomplishments best on the outside as well.

There is also something to be said about the power of being dedicated without the attachment. Sometimes that actually frees you to do much better than you would if you placed heavy expectations on yourself.

Here’s also where I may be a bit of a running freak, a la Forrest. I enjoy marathon training. I like following a plan, seeing my progress and how strong I get. Most of all I love getting “stride time” to myself. When I run alone it gives me a space for introspection I don’t normally get day-to-day with children and daily demands. I run; I think; I pray; I rejoice. It brings me back to my core. I feel alive.

Yet … when I get to run with others again … I feel connected, certain I am not alone and embraced by the whole.

I just felt like running

How about you?

Charleston, here we come!


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

Today is a rest day; tomorrow I run 12 miles with the Divas; Mileage since Boston: 539.1