I miss my Rocky …

Three years ago today I was running on a treadmill at 5 a.m. when I saw on TV that The Rocky Mountain News had printed its final edition.

It made me cry.

I moved to Colorado in November 2003 and I started working for The Rocky Mountain News two months later. It was a great job, and the newspaper had an outstanding reputation. I was thrilled to be there and I liked my work.

When I left The Rocky almost four years later, it was with reluctance. I was pregnant with my second child. I knew baby hours and the late nights I worked at the paper would collide. I told myself the leave was temporary until my child was older. I would be back.

In fact, I was freelancing occasionally for The Rocky when it closed on Feb. 27, 2009 (four months shy of its 150th birthday).

A few days after the newspaper’s final edition I attended a good-bye party in downtown Denver for the newsroom. The atmosphere was like a high-school reunion under the worst of circumstances. It was a beautiful, poignant evening. We knew we would scatter like seeds to the wind.

The demise of traditional print journalism was a game-changer for all of us. To put it in running perspective, it was akin to suffering a debilitating, life-altering injury, not just a minor sprain or setback.

About the same time The Rocky
closed I read a tragic story in Runner’s World (March 2009) that gave me hope
in the midst of the flux: “A Second Life” — About New York City fire
fighter Matt Long.

Long was a 3:13 marathon runner
in 2005 when he was crushed by a bus in a bicycling accident in New
York City. The details of how badly his body was mangled and how hard he fought to recover were mind-boggling — again, a game-changer, yet he endured.

His story was a reminder to me as I went through my grief that life would go on. No, it would not be the same, but even under the worst of circumstances we can choose life and hope. As time passes, wounds heal.

I’m happy to say many of my friends from The Rocky have landed on their feet.

One of my friends is now at The New York Times; another one at The Chicago Tribune; a third at The Cleveland Plain Dealer. One of my old supervisors works in Nairobi, Kenya.

For those with families or who couldn’t leave Colorado, however, the end of The Rocky was the beginning of the reinvention of ourselves. Many of us have switched professions or are in new lines of work like me.

The lesson I learned from The Rocky’s passing and Matt Long’s inspiring story:
I, too, am strong enough to find new resolve and purpose.

I’ve reinvented myself as a marathon runner, a blogger, an online writer and a copywriter for a website company where I now work — all within the span of a few, short years.

Yes, sometimes we have to shift our expectations and refocus our goals but we persevere.

I miss my Rocky. I know a part of me always will, but I am the better for having worked there once and knowing so many phenomenal people. The experience made me a
better writer and editor, and later gave me the fuel I needed to become a marathon runner and Boston qualifier.

If you have time, I invite to view the attached video on the Rocky’s Final Edition. Good story-telling touches our
souls. Even as The Rocky wrote its own final story, it did it well. 

RIP, Rocky Mountain News. I am grateful you were a chapter in my life.


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

Mileage today: 3.1; Mileage for 2012: 199.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

Glide, grace and gold medals

Jane is on the verge of conquering the butterfly stroke. She’s stoked about it. I am, too.

It’s been a joy for me to watch her evolve into a swimmer. Her interest in it began around the same time I qualified for Boston.

Since then we’ve both come into our own — me as a marathon runner and her as a natural little seahorse.

About two years ago Jane and one of her friends were in a swimming class together. Their teacher was also a coach for a local youth team and recruited them.

For awhile she swam on his team, then on our town’s club team. For many months now she has been taking a class at our local rec center aimed at getting kids ready for more competitive swim teams.

The class, called Drill Academy, perfects each of their strokes so that when they do compete at a higher level, they have the technical skills down.

The kids have to master each stroke and complete a bronze, silver and gold level before they can move on to the next level of swimming class — Conditioning Camp.

Once they get in Conditioning Camp they focus purely on endurance and speed.

Jane has been struggling to pass the gold level for a couple of sessions now because of her butterfly stroke. She works hard but she’s small for her size and age, which seems to make learning butterfly more challenging for her.

For the past few weeks she’s participated in Drill Academy and I’ve also had her take private lessons. She’s made huge progress.

I love watching her and the other kids during practice, how they seem to glide effortlessly through the water. I didn’t learn to swim until I was an adult and while I can swim, I don’t possess that same comfort level in the water they have.

If you want to witness grace in action, observe how  children approach something new. They go for it and are completely in the moment. It’s awesome.

When she moves on to Conditioning Camp, Jane will get a gold medal and a report showing that she’s checked off all the necessary skill sets.

I know that gold medal is coming soon, but the smile she’s had on her face lately tells me she’s already there.

Good things come to those who wait and when we exercise patience and exercise perseverance.

Go, Jane, go!!


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

Mileage today: 3; Mileage for 2012: 196

Secrets of the “ego whisperer”

“Perhaps middle-age is, or should be, a
period of shedding shells; the shell of ambition, the shell of material
accumulations and possessions, the shell of the ego.”

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh, American writer and aviation pioneer, 1906-2001

The other night I read a comment thread on a social media site about runners who sign up for races under pseudonyms. The writer suggested some people do this to hide their finishing times if they don’t do well.

My first thought after reading it was, “That sure ain’t me. If that was the case, I wouldn’t blog.”

The way I see it — if you are going to race, suck it up. If it’s not fun, why bother?

Never taking a chance defeats the purpose, and it reminds me of a story a friend shared.

My friend and some of his training partners once ran a marathon “bandit.” (FYI, for those of you who aren’t racers, that means not paying for a race or getting an official bib but still running the race.)

One of the training partners didn’t want to register for it for fear of  “what others might think if his finishing time wasn’t any good.”

They ran the whole thing, never took anything from the aid stations (they carried their own water and supplies) and they did not cross the official finish line, but still clocked 26.2 miles as a “training run.” 

The irony? They kicked butt. Later that same training partner was sorry they couldn’t count it as an official race time.

Several months later that same person ended up injured, unable to run Boston after working hard to qualify for it. My friend and I speculated it was because this person put so much unneeded pressure on himself.

The truth was — no one cared how he finished at that race or was watching him that closely, other than himself. The build up was in his head.

Sure, when we, runners, race our family and friends are rooting for us. Of course they want us to do well. But if you believe you can’t register for a race for fear of what others will think, something is amiss, and I suspect it’s an overactive ego.

Does YOUR EGO ever get in
the way when you race, especially if it does not go as planned? Has your ego ever gotten the better of you in any other endeavor in your life?

I don’t mean that as a criticism but as an honest observation.

EVERYONE has an ego … and if you think you don’t have an ego, that’s your EGO talking right now.

I’ve spent my livelihood working in industries where people thrive their on egos. Journalism and writing is full of egos. I’ve seen my share of overactive egos at places where I’ve worked.

An overactive ego is the only logical reason I can think of for why anyone would ever consider using a pseudonym to race.

Either that … or you suddenly morph into Angelina Jolie overnight and actually need a pseudonym to take attention off yourself.

FYI, if that ever happens to me, please shoot me … I have NO desire to live a life that requires pseudonyms for racing or otherwise.

That doesn’t mean, however, I’m not familiar with wrestling with my ego and its desires.

Left unchecked, my ego — and I suspect some other people’s, too — would act like my 5-year-old on too much sugar. A little taste would never be enough, but you can’t always get what you want. That’s not the way the world works. You need SOME boundaries or you’ll get yourself in trouble.

It’s a delicate balance — recognizing one’s aspirations but not letting the ego run wild, and solo, all the time. After all, SOME ego is a good thing, even vital to our existence.

ego, coupled with stress and prodding, is what gets
you out of bed each morning and functioning —  going to work, taking
care of your family or your responsibilities, paying your bills,
being productive, and, yes,
pushing you hard to excel.

When tamed, the ego is useful — the race horse that spurs you forward to great places and achievements. Confidence is the bold face of a tempered ego. Its beauty inspires greatness, not just in ourselves but in others, too.

There’s nothing wrong with a balanced ego. It is when egos go off kilter problems arise.

An unbalanced ego behaves like a wild stallion — bucking, bolting, taking out everything in its path. It manifests itself in arrogance and bravado, and it squelches hope.

The challenge lies in channeling your inner “ego whisperer” to achieve balance and just the right momentum.

I felt bad for that bandit marathon racer. He needed an ego whisperer. Running 26.2 miles is difficult enough. Running it with that much ego attached is like doing it with a 500-pound gorilla on your back.

Having an “ego whisperer” isn’t just helpful when your head gets too big; it grounds you when you feel disappointment, too.

I confess, my ego didn’t like it much when I hit the wall at the Charleston Marathon. Since then I’ve channeled my own “ego whisperer” and treated my ego as I would a wounded animal.

“There, there, down girl,” I keep telling it. “You are going to be OK. You’ll race again and it will feel better soon.”

I keep reminding myself that I would rather be the kind of person who takes chances and finishes last in any race, then someone who doesn’t have the courage to start.

I love this graphic. It speaks to what our egos want versus how our ego whisperers help us over time.

The biggest lesson my ego whisperer has taught me? Shedding my ego once again is worth it. I will never give up trying my best, even if it throws me in another loopty-loop.


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

Mileage today: 3; Mileage for 2012: 189

Running from the crud and a recipe for fighting it

To run or not the run?

That is the question today as the hacking crud runs its nasty course through Casa de Lucker …

Tarzan has been sick and coughing up a lung over me for the last few weeks.

First, he had a sinus infection two weeks ago and was antibiotics.

Now he has an ear infection, is on antibiotics again AND I’m sick as well.

We both went to the doctor yesterday and got some prescription meds. It hasn’t done either one of us much good so far.

This is why I haven’t written a post for a few days … I’ve been busy squeezing in work between massive attacks of phlegm while caring for Typhoid Tarzan.

Poor kid …

And poor me, too.

Seriously — I don’t mean that in a “pity party” kind of way but from a pragmatic perspective.

We are living in a Lysol bubble to no avail. I keep spraying it around the house and washing my hands constantly but we can’t seem to shake off this beast.

I’m suffering from a cough, a runny nose and my body aches as I write this. I’m putting on my own coaching hat and giving you AND me the advice I would tell another sick runner in my position — just in case some snotty beast has its grips on you, too.

If the crud you are battling is above the neck, go head and run, but don’t do any crazy — just enough to break a sweat.

If the crud is below the neck and you have congestion in your chest or you are feeling flu-like symptoms such as a fever or body aches — lay low. Take the day off. Rest.

Rest and recovery is as important as training hard, especially when you get sick.

Also, here’s a homeopathic recipe I got from a friend when I lived in Santa Fe. It’s good for helping one to fight the crud:
1 quart water
7 cloves of garlic peeled whole, not chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
a half of a lemon squeezed
fresh ginger chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Put altogether in a pot and boil for 20 minutes. Let it cool a bit. Then drink as much as you can tolerate. You can also eat the softened, boiled garlic cloves.

It sort of tastes like chicken broth to me. I usually do this concoction when I get really sick and it helps to clear it up faster. I’m boiling it on the stove right now.

Speaking of sickness, rest and my concoction — this post is all the energy I can muster tonight.

Buh-bye for now.

I’ve got a date with my couch, a book, and my homeopathic remedy after I put my kiddos to bed in a few minutes.

Then it will be my turn.

Aaack, aaack, aaack!!

Don’t worry — I’m covering my mouth as I write and I’ll Lysol the keyboard, too, just in case.

Stay healthy all …


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

Today is a forced rest day — coach’s (and doctor’s) orders; Mileage for 2012: 165.

A Virtual Run for Sherry …

What would happen to your family if you went out for a run one day and never came back?

That’s the nightmare and devastation the family of Sherry Arnold, a Montana woman, is living out now.

Sherry Arnold disappeared in January. Authorities have two suspects in the case but have yet to find her body.

Today some of the Distance Divas — the long-distance training group I run with — wore virtual race bibs to honor her and her family.  People did this –printed out the bibs and ran in her honor– across the country, not just here in Colorado. It’s been on the blogosphere today.

This tragedy saddens and sickens me. I’m sure I’m not alone. I think Sherry’s disappearance has moved many people, especially women, because she seemed like one of us — a mom, a teacher, a runner, just doing her own thing — when this awful crime happened. The circumstances — what little we know so far — sounded like random bad luck — not ever imagining she could be in harm’s way, probably just out at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I know several people from Montana. I have never been there myself, but from what I’ve been told, the communities in Montana tend to be small, tight-knit and relatively safe. Sherry was likely out for one of her regular runs, never thinking twice about it, when she was abducted.

I wish I knew the answer — how to stop such horrible things from happening in the world, but I don’t. I’m glad to see people care and aren’t forgetting about Sherry or her family. God knows they will need caring and compassion as more of Sherry’s story unfolds in the coming weeks, months, even years.

Here in America, when people die or something tragic happens, people in their communities tend to rush to the deceased person’s family immediately to help. Then as time goes by, a lot of that support wanes even though the family’s grief goes on and probably isn’t finished yet.

This where I hope Sherry’s story doesn’t get lost over time. For her family, this isn’t just about a virtual run in her honor for one day — it’s a hard reality they will continue to face for the rest of their lives.

My hopes and prayers are that God’s compassion and grace carry her family now and whenever they need it most into the future.

Today’s run was for you, Sherry. I pray truth and justice prevails.


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

Mileage today: 12; Mileage for 2012: 161.

Spinning around, around … Running indoors

Back when I was kid, growing up in the Midwest, my sister and I hung out a lot in our family’s basement. 

Our basement was typical of that era — wood-paneled walls and concrete floors. It had a rec room with red shag carpet, a beat-up couch and a vintage TV/record player/radio player like the one above. The tube burned out so you couldn’t get pictures anymore but the sound still worked.

The rec room was where we kept our toys and board games. During the long dreary winters the basement was where my friends and I played Monopoly after school and listened to WLS Chicago on that vintage console.

Other times I’d listen to the radio or records by myself. I would walk around and around in a giant circle, burning off energy when it was miserable outside.

I didn’t realize it BUT I was doing my first indoor laps.

And the songs I was listening to on that giant, old TV unit?   Well, it was like an iPod LONG before iPods existed. (Heck, Steve Jobs was just getting started!)

Those reminders of my past — doing laps in a confined space to music — came in handy when I ran 10 MILES indoors on Saturday.

Denver got a record snowstorm last Friday. My neighborhood was hit with 20 inches of snow, which turned the streets and sidewalks around my house into mini icebergs.

My gym has treadmills with 30-minute user
time limits to them and an indoor track that’s 10 laps to one mile.
Either way, 10 miles indoors can be a chore.

I don’t like running indoors but I’ve also taken enough face plants on icy conditions to not want to have it happened again.

The way I see it — indoor running, while not ideal, is necessary — just like having a basement rec room with shag red carpet helps you survive the bitter, cold Midwest winters of your youth.

Sometimes you gotta do, what you’ve gotta do, so here are my tips to help you, too.

The “Great Indoors”

The track was packed when I got there AND there were people there running longer than I was.


I can see you scratching your heads over that concept now, even in cyberspace.

No, I wasn’t the only crazy doing loads upon loads of laps.

One gal I chatted with, who’s training for the Little Rock Marathon, was finishing up as I started. She did 13 miles — 7 on the track, 4 on the ‘mill, followed by 2 more on the track.

Another woman I talked to is training for Ironman Canada and did 9 miles. (She started about a half hour after me.)

Here’s what got me through it:

1. Connect with other people.

Just like with any long run, if you find someone to pace with and chat, it helps A LOT. That’s how I found out those factoids about those two runners I just mentioned. Keep your mind occupied with good thoughts and good people, and your body will keep moving forward.

2. Come prepared.

I showed up at the track with my fuel belt, drinks and an iPod, just as I would for an outdoor long run, and I used them when needed. The iPod especially came in handy as distraction and inspiration when I didn’t have anyone to talk to or when I wanted to stop but still had a long way to go.

Make sure you come with good playlists that keep you pumped up.

3. Be observant and let that be a gift to you and others. 

Are you a good listener? How often do you really hear what someone has to say and take it in fully?

The same holds true for observing, not just seeing. How often do you get time in your busy day to observe people and the details of the world around you??

I know I lack in those areas more often than I like, but I find peace in myself and in others when I take the time to listen or observe.

My guess is most of us get busy these days, especially with the onset of Facebook and the planet zooming at digital speed … all … the … time, and less face-to-fact contact and socializing.

Whenever I have to run indoors I allow myself to slow down mentally and watch what’s going on around me. I like that. It’s a treat.

A case in point: The track at my gym looks down onto a playing turf. On Saturday I got to watch two games of lacrosse. I’m guessing the first game was 12-year-olds playing; the second was 10-year-olds. The speed and hand-eye coordination it requires is impressive.

4. Give yourself mental rewards as you cover the mileage.

I ended up doing all 10 miles on the track. The way I kept track of the laps was allowing myself sip my drink after every set of 20 laps.

It wasn’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever done compared to running outdoors but it kept the numbers straight in my head.

After I finished the whole thing, all 10 miles, I gave myself the reward of eating a Dove dark chocolate at home.

5. Use the environment and what it DOES offer to your advantage.

The indoor track is flat. For me that translates into FAST and SPEEDY when I’m feeling good, which I took advantage of on Saturday.

By comparison all the routes in my neighborhood have a 2-6 percent hill grade. Running a speedy 10 miles Saturday was a great mental boost and I took advantage of it being a hill-free zone for the day.

It also offers indoor plumbing, climate control and a water fountain — no ducking in the bushes if nature calls. There is something to be said for that.

Another example: When I have to run on the treadmill I take advantage of watching the news or other shows I might like in peace — something I don’t always get to do when my kids are around.

I also take advantage of the speed settings on the treadmill. I like that I can set it at a pace — fast or slow — and not have to think about it for awhile.

6. Pay attention and be ready to switch things up as needed.

Saturday was a good day for me. The banking turns on that track never bothered my hips or joints, which is why I stayed there to get that run finished sooner.

I’ve been to that same track on other days and not been so lucky. Sometimes the constant turns hurt my hips. When that happens I opt for the treadmill instead or I break up a longer run between the two options.

My advice is to pay attention. Be ready for plan B.


I never knew when I was a kid that I’d end up running as much as I do, but I’m grateful for that musty old basement with the red shag carpet and all the laps I did in it.

That place sure taught me some mental stamina I needed to keep going.

It’s funny how life lesson’s and memories come back around.

However, you choose to keep going yourself this winter, I hope you make it good one.

Happy trails, or treadmilling, or laps to you, too. 


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

Mileage yesterday: 5; Mileage for 2012: 140


When mommy needs to run

“Tarzan” has been sick with a sinus infection.

He’s been cranky and taking it out on me, which isn’t surprising, since I’m the one home with him.

His sour mood makes me want to escape, though, and go for a run. Usually I can’t. I have to wait until he goes to school or when my husband gets home from work.

I was a runner LONG before I had children, but now I run for different reasons.

I run to blow off steam and to be a calmer, better person around my family and friends.

I run to take good care of myself, physically and mentally, as I age.

I run because it’s often the only time I get to myself, by myself, with no one wanting something from me.

I run because I love it. It’s allows me to feel free. It always has.

I run to make peace with the person I aspire to be — the one
with infinite patience, energy and wisdom — and person I am in reality — someone who’s human and makes mistakes, and isn’t quite there yet. 

Most of all, I run, because over time, I’ve morphed into: “Mother, Keeper of All of Shit.”

I’m not saying this to be bitter, or mean, simply to acknowledge what is.

In our household I am the glue holding IT altogether, all the minutia of our lives, for everyone and everything.

This shouldn’t surprise you. I know I’m not alone in this role. This happens to a lot of women — wives and mothers — out there. The nurturer becomes the one taking care of ALL the details.

I remember seeing Barack and Michelle Obama on Oprah years ago. Michelle talked about planning a birthday party for one of their girls. Barack said he could help, and she told him, no way. He couldn’t even handle getting the goodie bags. The choices would make his head explode. I’m sure she was right.

Now HE IS the leader of the “free world.”  It makes you wonder …

I digress … but my point is, there are worse problems than being Mother, Keeper of All Shit.

Once in awhile, however, the scales tip and I could use a break.

The other day was a great example. I called a friend of mine after a particularly trying morning with Tarzan. I needed someone else to ground me — my friend has a grown son so she knows the challenges of raising a boy child.

I told my friend I felt like failure. Just minutes earlier I lost my cool with Tarzan and was yelling at him, and I wasn’t proud of this.

I also told her I was grateful I was a runner because if I wasn’t, I’m sure I’d take out my stress in a bad way, like pounding a bottle of wine before noon or something stupid like that.

It remind of me of “Mad Men” and the character, Betty Draper. I can see why frustrated, 1960s housewives got blottoed on martini lunches back when running wasn’t socially accepted for women yet.

Thank God that’s not me and I don’t live in that era.

I also want to make this clear, especially because Tarzan might read this some day: I adore him.

When I say I’m “Mother, Keeper of All Shit,” I mean that I’m the primary parent in the household staying on top of it — my kids’ homework, after-school activities, getting them to and from places on time, signed up for activities, making sure the laundry is clean, meals are the table, the refrigerator isn’t empty, and …

Well, frankly the list of minutia goes on and on and on …

I’m also not suggesting the Dude doesn’t pinch-hit occasionally. He does, but the majority of that stuff falls on me.

Disciplining and guiding Tarzan falls into that category, too.

Tarzan, who’s 5 years old, is a Gemini, and he’s a true Gemini in the sense of the twin aspects to his personality.

He’s either all spitfire, finding new, creative ways to test my mettle, or he’s the biggest lover in the world. Truly he’s a wonderful, kind, gentle and affectionate soul.

His energy takes a lot out of me. My challenge as his mother is reconciling his two sides in a peaceful, constructive way. My goal and hope is to turn him into a responsible, respectable young man … some day. It’s the good fight worth fighting.

The other night I gave him a bath and when he stepped out of the tub to towel off he saw the top of my head.

“Mom, what’s that white stuff  in your hair?” he asked, pointing at my roots.

“That’s my gray hair starting to show. I have to color it soon to cover them up,” I answered.

“What makes them gray, mom?”

“YOU!” I joked.

We both laughed.

It’s true.

Yes, I’m graying because I’m getting old and from stress, but I’m also graying for good reasons.

My gray hair is proof of how devoted I am to him and how hard I’m willing to work to be his mother.

It’s proof there’s something better than being Mother, Keeper of All Shit.

It’s proof that some running does go a long way. (I’m not ALL gray yet!!)

It’s proof I love him.


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

Mileage today: 3.1; Mileage for 2012: 125.