Recycle those race bibs!

“Jane” won a character award today at school for “conservation” — defined as “the careful utilization of a natural resource in order to prevent depletion; the act of preservation.”

She was thrilled.

I didn’t know her teacher had nominated her until she came home with her certificate and a prize today and told me. I was happy, too.

In honor of her award and Earth Day, which took place last Sunday, April 22, I’m posting this fun idea I saw from my friend Pam over the weekend.

Mile 22 Bags is a company that takes old race bibs (and race T-shirts, too) and turns them into bags, backpacks and totes. (These pictures above are examples of the products.) The company’s website says you can pick out the style of bag you want, send in your mementos, and they’ll do the rest. (Price range is $40-$185.)

I’m not sure if  I’ll ever get one myself, but I think it’s a clever idea.

I take my old bibs and put them into scrapbooks with my pictures. I keep most of my race T-shirts and the ones I don’t like or keep (or fit right), I pass on to friends or family, or I donate them to charity.

A few of my old race tees now serve as long “pajamas” for Jane. I hate throwing away something if it can be recycled into some good use.

Hmmm … I think I see now where Jane gets her “green” ways. … perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


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

Mileage today: 5; Mileage for 2012: 408

Runner’s block vs. writer’s block

The other day I had this epiphany: I think I’ve been experiencing “runner’s block” for the last few months.

Writer’s block is when you have trouble getting your creativity up for writing projects and ideas.

Runner’s block is when you have trouble finding new inspiration and motivation in your running or running goals.

Over the years I’ve experience writer’s block before, but it never occurred to me until now that I could get runner’s block, too.

It makes sense though when you think about it. No one is 100 percent all the time. Plus, after you’ve run a big race such as Boston, it’s hard to top it.

I know how to get over writer’s block (most of the time) but I’m still figuring it out with running.

You have to let go of your attachments when you’ve got writer’s block and clear your head to get unstuck.

It sounds simple to do, but it’s not easy. 

Often times when I’m experiencing writer’s block it’s in the most mundane moments I become “unblocked” — sort of like psychic Draino at work — nothing fancy or glamorous but powerful nonetheless.

There I am one day, for instance, just folding laundry or doing dishes, when out of nowhere the spark returns and I get an idea.

A similar thing happened to me while I was out for a 5K run on my own over the weekend.

The effort felt so easy and that’s why I realized, my running felt “unblocked’ for the time in several weeks. I think it’s because I was totally in the moment and unattached to how I was running — fast or slow, or whatever.

Finishing loose ends in my life also helps me when I’m experiencing writer’s block — a conduit to get my personal Draino flowing.

An example: My mother gave me her sewing machine several years ago. For the longest time it sat in my basement, collecting dust bunnies and needing servicing.

Several weeks ago I finally learned how to unhook the machine (it’s a vintage Kenmore) from the table that came with it and I took it in for repairs.

Then I got it back after the servicing but it sat again for some time, waiting for me to put it back into table properly.

Over the weekend I finally hooked the sewing machine in place and I bought material to start a project: I am making decorative, chocolate-brown pillows for my bedroom. (Yeah baby, Marsha Stewart, eat your heart out!!)

Now at first I know my sewing machine story may seem unrelated to running and creative blocks but that’s not true. Unfinished projects honestly zap my mental and physical energy, which over time, also affects my running, creativity and the rest of my life.

Don’t believe me? Think that I’m just talking woo-woo?

Well, for any skeptics out there, I have two words for you to illustrate my point: TAX TIME (which we all just got over in the last week).

If you are one of those people who puts off finishing your taxes until the very last second (who doesn’t?), have you ever noticed how much it weighs on you until you get it done? And how much better you feel, once it’s out of your face (even if you don’t like the bottom line on your return)?

That’s exactly what I mean  …your mind and body feel instant relief when you finish tasks that have sat on your plate (or in your basement) for too long. Completions gives you mojo to move on to bigger, better things.

Or to put it in runners’ terms, it’s like crossing the finish line at a race — very empowering.

I’m still working on runner’s block, but my weekend run gave me hope that I won’t stay stuck for too long.

I can feeling the inklings of new inspiration and motivation just around the corner.

How about you??

Oh yeah, and when I finish those fun pillows, I’ll share a picture with you.


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

Mileage today: 3; Mileage for 2012: 380

‘An Experience’ — Not a race!!!

What a difference a year makes!!

Today, as I write this post, runners are gathering at the “athlete village” in Hopinton and getting ready to run the 116th Boston Marathon. I’m not there this year but my friend Pam Geernaert is. So are Caolan MacMahon, Carman Carmack and Melodie Pullen — all four are women I’ve profiled on this blog.

The expected high is 87 degrees!! Around 10-10:30 a.m., when most people start the race in multiple waves, it will already be 74 degrees!!

I can’t believe it. I’m in shock. It’s a complete turn around from the ideal conditions I faced last year when I ran it — in the 40s at the start and 60s near at the end.

Boston is having a crazy heat wave, but here in Colorado we’ve had “all four seasons” — sunny, rain, snow, hail — within the last 48 hours, but mainly it’s been cool and wet.

It was 36 degrees today at o’dark early when I ran with a friend.

Given the choice of extreme cold or hot for running a marathon, I’d opt for the cold. Yes, you’d still be miserable and slower but you don’t usually die from running in the cold.

Either way, though, too much chill or broiling is bad news for a race this big, especially for the organizers.

I have been following Boston on the Internet. Caolan, in fact, copied an email to everyone on Facebook. It was sent from the BAA and told runners to expect “an experience, not a race” because of the heat.

The BAA has offered to defer entries and warned that novice runners should not race it this year.

Clearly they are worried and rightfully so after the marathon disaster that happened in the heat at the Chicago Marathon a few years ago.

has made me think, What would I do if this had been my Boston “experience”? Would I still run or defer to the following year?

My guess is, I’d still run. It would be “an experience” but not the one I bargained for, that’s for sure.
While deferring might be an option IN THEORY, getting to Boston, especially if you live out West as I do, is difficult and expense. The plane tickets are pricy as are the hotels, etc., etc.

Besides that, I never expected a PR out of Boston when I went. I was one of those people who found the challenge in qualifying, then wanted to enjoy race itself.

Yes, Boston is at sea level, which, again IN THEORY could make for a PR, but probably not for me because of where the hills are within the race — mainly more downhill on the front end and uphill on the later end.

The hills at Boston aren’t any harder than anything here in Colorado, but I do with a course with the opposite presentation — uphill on the front end and downhill on the back end.

What would you do if you faced the “furnace” today at Boston? Run or defer? I’d love to hear.

I’m sending cooling thoughts and prayers to Pam, Caolan, Carmen, Melodie and my other friends at Boston today.

Pam texted from the athlete’s village; her mantra for the today’s Boston race: “Popsicle!”

Good luck and Godspeed to all the racers!!

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger …


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

Mileage today; 5.5′ Mileage for 2012: 347

I would run to you …

Have you seen the new Nike Free ad: “I would run to you”?

It debuted on TV about a week ago. If haven’t, click on it now before you keep reading.

Also, a spoiler-alert: If you’re looking for simply, puppy-dog praise about this ad in today’s post, you likely be disappointed.

Don’t say I didn’t warm you.

It isn’t that I didn’t like it altogether — I did — to a degree.

I loved some of the zingers the copywriters threw in, like when the guy says: “Why can’t we fly half way and meet in Kansas City? It’s the ‘Paris of the Plains!’ “

I also liked the “Girl Power” portion of the ad.

It was other deeper, potential messages within it I took exception with, but I’ll get to that soon.

The premise behind the ad: A guy and girl fall in love but live on opposite coast lines. They pledge to run and meet in the middle to be together.

Yeah, it’s cliche, but on the surface it’s kinda cute.

She’s a Nike goddess from head to toe. She runs through dessert and city and even while eating an ice cream cone without breaking a sweat.

He’s comes off like a bumbling fool, and wearing generic, no-name shoes and a grungy gray sweatshirt. He does not make it out of New York City before he collapses and laments, “I’m in a pool of my own vomit.”

Yes, it’s quirky and funny, and I enjoyed the obvious theme: “Don’t be a loser; Don’t go Nike-less!! Wear your Nike Frees, and you, too, can run forever!”

The turning point when the ad loses me: He’s in the hospital and she croons out, “Baby I love you so much that I would run to you,” and he lights up, raises his eyebrows and sings back, “You’d run to me????”

My interpretation of that scene: The light bulb goes off in his head and here’s what I say he’s REALLY thinking but not singing, “Sweet!! Why the hell was I trying to bust my ass to impress her anyway?! SHE’LL RUN TO ME! WOOT-WOOT!”

OK, now back to what REALLY happens in the ad: A few seconds later she dashes into the hospital to be with him, draws the curtain around his bed, her Nike Frees squeak off the floor, his heart rate monitor goes bonkers (eluding to the promise of hospital hanky-panky) and the ad ends there.

Now perhaps it’s the cynic or feminist in me talking (Why the hell is she running FOR HIM? Why can’t she just run for herself?) but at that point I lose it and just want to talk to the girl in the ad and tell her:

“Aww, babe, if you’re already doing all running for the two of you at the BEGINNING of your relationship and choose to stay with him, you’re going to be running for the both of you FOREVER! Good luck with that one!”

And if SHE were my daughter and she was with some guy who couldn’t meet her half way — whether it be metaphorically or literally — I wouldn’t be pleased.

The other reason the ad irritated me: Romanticism that is over the top.

Hollywood and TV have a penchant for portraying romantic gestures in larger-than-life fashion.

So what’s wrong with that, you might ask? It’s cute and sweet and all … just get over, Danica!

Well … the problem I see is, all those caricatures spill over into our expectations in the real world. It’s that whole life-imitating-art and art-imitating-life thing.

Want to know one of the secrets to why marriages don’t last in America? Look no farther than ads like this one and Hollywood movies and cliches. No one can live up to the huge romantic notions they’ve created for us to gobble up.

There are studies and articles out there, for example, that talk about how when we first fall in love, we’re fueled by a high in the beginning. That “high” shifts and wanes over time but you’d never know that going off ads like this one or from Hollywood love scenes. They make it look like relationships are ALWAYS that way, operating on high octane, and gloss over what real life looks like.

The truth is, romance and everyday life can still be good — very good, in fact — it just doesn’t look like Photoshop.

A case in point: I went to church with my kids the other day and looked over to see my 9-year-old daughter’s eyes closed in prayer or mediation. It was a serene, exceptional moment in an otherwise very ordinary setting.

I thought to myself in dry humor, “Well, hey, there you go. We’re not winning any Nobel Prizes today, but perhaps I’m doing something right after all. None of my kids aren’t turning out to be ax murderers any time soon.”

Yes, I’m being glib but you get the drift.

Another example: Most of my favorite runs are with friends, just kicking
around, not the big races or events.

Real life and romance, I find, is often witnessing beauty and the extraordinary within the context of the everyday, not the exaggerations you see in ads and TV and movies.

Seriously though, you can’t Photoshop your mate or your life, and God only knows how your mate would Photoshop YOU, too, if he could.

I admit, when you’re young and hopped up on hormones you’d “run” for him and he’d “run” for you.

The larger questions you end up asking yourself after that phase is done, however, are: Would I still run for him tomorrow? And would he still run for me? And would we still run for each other the day AFTER that? And 10 years from now?

If I were the mother of that girl in that ad, here’s what I would also tell her: Keep running until you find someone whose YOUR match and meets you half way; don’t settle.

Then, and only then, run the distance — together.

Go for the promise  and hope of real-life romance, not the illusion of it — like in an advertisement. 


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

Mileage today: 5; Mileage for 2012: 321

Spring break

Snow today (A view from my front porch, the morning of April 3, 2012) …

Gone tomorrow!! (Tarzan at soccer practice, April 4, 2012.)

Tulips galore — two days later!! (April 5, 2012)

Welcome to spring break, Colorado style — where a snowfall only last a day but elementary school spring break lasts TWO WHOLE WEEKS!!

No, that’s not a typo you’re reading and this isn’t a belated April Fools’ Joke.

Tarzan and Jane are on spring break right now, day 14 (including the weekends since it started). But hey, who’s counting, right???? (Ahem …)

If you’ve been wondering what happened to me and why I haven’t posted in awhile, well, here’s your answer: Disruptions to my normal schedule have swallowed me whole.

Actually it’s a good thing I’m not training for anything specific right now like I was last year at this time, getting ready for Boston. I remember being out of my head back then during spring shake, err, I mean, break.

Darn those kids — they foil all my well-laid plans!! (Just kidding folks!! I’m glad all my problems are little ones, in every sense of those words. )

Seriously though, having my children at home for that long in the middle of the year might be a break for them but it sure isn’t for me. I can’t even imagine how much it mucks schedules for parents who 9-to-5 jobs or even longer, more demanding hours.

I still work part time, doing web work and copywriting from my home and I’ve been scrambling like crazy these past two weeks — setting up play dates and activities for them so I can get few windows of time to focus and complete tasks.

Then there’s the Easter Bunny, who’s WAY behind schedule this year.

How is SHE supposed to load up on chocolate eggs and Peeps if she never gets a chance to shop alone???

It hasn’t been easy.

Neither has been the running. I’m getting up at o’dark early almost every day — no choice. My children, ages 5 and 9, are in that limbo stage right now — too old to go to the daycare at the gym but too young to be left home alone without a sitter.

I also find that if I wait to run until after my husband gets home, I lose motivation. Also, he’s still studying for a major work exam every night after he gets home.

It’s not that I like working out at 5 a.m. but sometimes it’s the only way to keep everything and everyone in our household simpatico.

Hey, it’s better than not working out at all.

I’ve also got some new weapons in my arsenal to keep me focused on during this time of disruptions: new goals and a real vacation coming up soon.

This year we didn’t go anywhere on spring break — we opted for a “staycation” because we got a pleasant surprise a few weeks ago. My husband won a trip to Hawaii at his work. We are taking the kids and going to Kauai next month — WOO-HOO!!!

Also, coming up at the beginning of June: My husband will finally take that work exam, which means I can begin racing and training harder again soon thereafter.

That leads to me my next reveal: I signed up for the Fox Valley Marathon, St. Charles, Illinois, Sept 16. It’s a flat, shaded course in the western suburbs of Chicago, that takes place a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon, AND a great Boston qualifier course.

My training will begin in mid-June. Until then, however, I’m running but taking it easy and cross training when I can. I figure if I’m going to be in Limbo Land, I might as well enjoy and rest up so I can train well, come June.

Rather than fight it, I’m going with it.

Seeing the flowers in bloom today put me in a bright mood. The last few days of roller-coaster weather have been a reminder to me that all things shift and blossom again in time and with patience, and so do we.

I’m ready.


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

Mileage yesterday: 5; Mileage for 2012: 304