Some like it hot … but not when you’re running!!

Some (runners) like it hot … but I am not one of them.

I don’t like running in extreme heat.

I don’t like racing in it either.

I especially don’t like it when it turns the beautiful state where I live into kindling. That is exactly what is happening in Colorado right now.

We are in the middle of the worst fire season in a decade. There are several major wildfire raging and it’s very intense here.

Sunday I ran the Louisville Trail Half Marathon, and the miserable conditions could be summarized in two keywords: hot and smokey.

The picture above is me at the race, about a half hour before it started, in Louisville — a town 10 miles outside of Boulder. (There’s a major fire threatening Boulder, too, as I write this.)

There are many things in the world that are MEANT to be hot and smokey: barbecue sauce, the love scene from the movie, “Ghost”, even saunas — but road races usually aren’t among them.

And neither should neighborhoods and the area around people’s homes.

Sadly, the whole state of Colorado is far too hot and smokey then it should be right now.

This also was the case on Sunday. The smoke was so thick I could smell it in my car as I drove into town. Conditions were so bad race organizers offered to let people defer their entries or switch to running the 10K instead of the half.

As I waited in line to pick up my bib and T-shirt, I weighed my options. People all around me were either dropping out or switching races.

I was scheduled to run 14 miles Sunday according to my training plan but I seriously considered NOT running this race.

The problem was, I had already driven an hour to get to Louisville and it would another hour to get home.  Even if I changed races or turned around and went home, I still needed to get 14 done and the temps were already in the 80s, even at 7:30 a.m.

I suppose I could have run indoors — but, frankly, the thought of running 14 miles inside, on a treadmill or track, was about as appealing to me as, say, drinking Windex instead of Gatorade … so …

Given the lousy options, I choose to “race” the half and I use that term “race” loosely because Sunday was not a race; it was survival.

Yes, there are some people out there who tolerate and race well in extreme heat, but I am not among them. I’ve learned this hard way.

I’ve overheated at other races before, even when the temps weren’t as high as Sunday, and the air quality not as bad.

Hydration is also key under such circumstances and also, with almost any endurance event. Combine the two and you face a double-whammy.

I once finished a marathon so dehydrated I ended up in the medical tent with an IV in my arm. The last thing I wanted Sunday was to get sick — either with dehydration or coughing from bad air, but I also needed to knock out those miles.

 I took a chance. I sucked it up but I also ran with extreme caution.

How did it go?

The Louisville Trail Half turned out to be good imitation of a mini “Badwater”– the ultra endurance race that takes place in Death Valley in 130 degrees.

I’m sure that’s not the ambiance the Louisville organizers wanted when they planned it months ago, but it’s what we got on Sunday.

It was 85 degrees at the start; 92 by the time I finished; and Denver hit a high of 100 by noon.

It was grueling as we ran on hot, dusty dirt trails and very exposed, with only brief pockets of shade.

At the half marathon turn-around, runners were jumping into the nearby creek and soaking themselves to cool down — yours truly included.

The heat bore down on us like a jackhammer. I didn’t enjoy but I got through it without getting sick or dehydrated, for which I’m very grateful.

I took an S!Cap (sodium/electrolyte replacement) before the start and another one at the midway point. I drank a cup of water at each aid station (there were 8 of them) and I poured a second cup over my head each time.

The other thing that kept me going when I wanted to quit in the heat was thinking about the fire fighters now in Colorado. They’ve been tolerating not just the heat and smoke but hauling heavy clothing and equipment in these conditions.

Each time I wanted to have a pity party for myself during this race I thought of them or the soldiers stationed in the Middle East, again wearing heavy clothes or hauling gear in ridiculous heat, and possibly facing enemy fire, too, and I got over myself pretty quickly.

I kept putting one step in front of the other., albeit slower than I normally would and I even walked parts of the course, which I normally don’t do during a race.

I finished in over two hours (I usually run a halfl under two in normal conditions). I was thrilled to see my mom, sister, husband and kids at the finish and to be DONE! Afterwards we went out to breakfast at Turley’s in nearby Boulder and I was never so happy to be in dry clothes and air-conditioning.

A few bright moments and tips to share from Sunday’s experience: The S!Caps worked great;  I wasn’t dehydrated. It was far from my best race but at least I didn’t get sick.

I think it also helps to expect to run slower in the heat, or even walk. I might have been overly cautious but I would rather do that then be sorry. I was also prepared to stop or quit if needed. Under those conditions, it’s wise to know “when to say when.” Luckily that didn’t happen.

I confess: A part of me was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to run faster as it was first race since January’s marathon in Charleston, but I’m OK with it.

More important is the big picture here in Colorado. Please pray for rain and relief for those affected by the fires. We need sorely it.

I’m off now to perform my own kind of “rain dance” and prayer in the form of running several miles. I’m holding cool, wet thoughts for safety and healing in Colorado.

I sure hope it helps … 


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

Mileage today: 7; Mileage for 2012: 606.

Runs ‘n’ roses


Quick–answer this question: Which articulate arachnid makes her opening appearance using this greeting in a famous book?

If you guessed, “Charlotte’s Web,” you are correct!!!

Tarzan and Jane and I are reading a chapter of it out loud each night. We’re almost to the part where she dies. I don’t know how they are going to take that part (Jane has already heard that someone in the story kicks the bucket), but until this point, the book has been a huge hit.

It’s one of my childhood favorites.

Reading has been an integral part of our boot camp/”cross training” here at Casa de Lucker.  Each day I make sure they get their quotas so their brains don’t turn into slop fit for Wilbur and they keep ME honest by watching me do “Insanity” — so I don’t turn into — you guessed it — slop fit for Wilbur!

Sometimes Tarzan and Jane try to do the workouts with me in the basement and it’s pretty hilarious but not as funny as the sweaty mess I become!


Two weeks ago I also began training for my next marathon — Fox Valley, in September.

Other than marathon training, AND Insanity, AND “Charlotte’s Web” and reading and writing and flashcards, AND hitting the pool, AND hanging out with friends and family, AND lots and lots of swim team and T-ball practices AND me squeezing in work hours when I can — it’s shaping up to be a relaxed, fun summer.


Really — I’m not kidding.  I am loving it. I feel so happy and alive right now.


Insanity is kicking my butt — but in a good way. I am seeing some progress in my core strength and balance, and my running and training is off to a solid start.


The difference I’m finding between myself from last summer (when I got shingles) and now is I am going with the flow much better this go-around.

Today I watched a friend’s two children — a 3-year-old and 6-year-old — while she went out for a quick run. It’s ironic — a part of me still thinks of my own two children as that little until I see them next to other children who are.

Noticing the differences in their ages and maturity (between the two sets of kids) reminded me not to take this time for granted. This summer will be gone before I know it.

I’m mean, let’s face it: You can either choose to take on this lifetime like eloquent Charlotte (Talk about the ultimate BFF!) or muddle through, grabbing for scraps like Templeton. (Remember him? The rat who lives in the barn? Umm .. thanks but no thanks, Templeton!)

Whether it’s running long miles, or firing off Insanity squats, or  reading to my kids, or putting puzzles together with them, or hammering at the computer, or swimming at the pool — I want to savor what’s in front of me if I can.

Each moment stands alone in its beauty, yet spins together into the intricate web that is my life.

And each moment — no matter how crazy or chaotic it feels at times, is also a huge gift.

One of my favorite lines from “Charlotte” is when she talks about her egg sac to Wilbur, describing it her “magnus opus.”

Sometimes I know I get so caught up in chasing my “magnus opus” my ego “magnus” gets in the way.

Does that ever happen to you, too? You find yourself in a frenzy but after awhile you can’t remember why, … then you have to refocus.

I’m guilty as charged.

That is the difference between the Danica I was last summer and who I am right now. I am living  my “magnus opus” as well as creating it.

Thank you Charlotte and Wilbur. I am enjoying your story almost as much as I did four decades ago.

I guess you are never too old to stop and smell the roses … or for a run down memory lane before you actually head out the door for a real run.



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

Mileage yesterday: 12; Mileage for 2012: 575

Running and summer break

Nine weeks to go …

Nine weeks from now, life at Casa de Lucker is going to change …

Nine weeks from now … I might have time to straighten my hair more often. These days it looks like a mop in a baseball cap and ponytail all the time.

Nine weeks from now … I might not have to get up at o’dark early to run … unless I still choose to run at o’dark early.

Nine weeks from now … maybe I’ll finally catch up on all the house cleaning …  AND errands AND tame the paper clutter in my office and kitchen.

Nine weeks from now … I might be able to have a phone conversation with another adult without being constantly interrupted by screaming children in the background at my house. 

Nine weeks from now … I should be able to focus on my writing and web work from home without my brain feeling like another scattered Lego piece in the house.

Nine weeks from now … I hope to have completed the conversion of this blog,, from GoDaddy to WordPress. (Yes, I am moving this blog to another place soon, but hopefully you’ll still be able to find me.)

Nine weeks from now … I will be able to go the grocery store by myself regularly, without a sidekick — something I think I will like at first and then will probably grow old (and I’ll miss my kids).

Nine weeks from now … I might have a quiet, peaceful household during the day, unlike today. (As I write this my son is shouting at the Wii Super Mario in the basement.)

Nine weeks from now, I know these changes will feel bittersweet …

Nine weeks from now, my son will start first grade, For the first time in 10 years I will have both my children in school full time.

It’s a huge milestone.

Recently my daughter and I traveled to the East Coast to see my niece graduate from college and we also visited Niagara Falls, Canada.

It was emotional, watching my niece get her engineering degree. (I was at the hospital the day she was born.) The change coming my life isn’t as big as when your kid flies the coop, as my niece is doing, but it’s preparation for it.

And it was beautiful, seeing the power of the falls.  I know my children both being in school full time will feel like my own mini Niagara, and cascade many new things into our lives.

Niagara Falls — the American Falls

Oh Canada! Fireworks over Niagara Falls at night.

When I left working in newspapers to have my second child, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into as a (mostly) stay-at-home mom (I have always opted to work part time, too.)

My SAHM initiation was much like training for my first marathon: How could I like doing something so much, most of the time, and yet, other times, how could it be so painful and uncomfortable as well? And could I survive it?

People will say being a mom is the “hardest job in the world,” and often in a patronizing way to stay-at-home moms.  But I think being a mom, period, is one of the most challenging things you can ever do, whether you opt to stay home with your kids, or not.

I don’t want to get into the whole “mommy wars” things. I think arguing about it is a waste time. This much, however, I will admit. Sometimes people close to me have treated me differently since I choose to be home with my son, as though I have no schedule or responsibilities, or a life, and all the free time in the world.

That isn’t true.

Most of the time I haven’t cared about their opinions and I have ignored their cruelty. I have realized they don’t mean to be hurtful, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t stung on occasion.

And most of the time I have liked my choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s been perfect. I have joked before on this blog that I had babies, not a lobotomy. I still feel that way.

When I worked part time for The Rocky Mountain News I had a great balance in my life between motherhood and career — achieving something I was passionate about and still being there for my children.

That’s where I intend to open up my life again in another nine weeks, and I can’t lie. I am looking forward to it.

I’m also aware, however, that my little-kid, hands-on, intense-nurturing days are winding down here. They will be replaced by something else — like the the way my daughter now works on math fractions rather than ABCs, which she did just a few short years ago.

The thought of this makes me a bit sad and nostalgic, and aware that I need to appreciate each moment.

A friend of mine from the Columbines, Katie O., (, wrote a heartfelt post recently about when moms ignore their kids while on their cell phones. To me it hit on a larger point that I’ve always tried to be aware of: That you don’t want to be so caught up in work or something else that you miss out on your children’s childhood.

When I go running, it allows me to unwind and let go of my stress so I can be there more fully for Tarzan and Jane.

Marathon running has also taught that the uncomfortable moments, whether they appear in running and motherhood, will pass. You never want to lose your sense of center and sight of what brings you joy.

So … as I juggle the craziness of summer with my children home, I hope not to do it like a mismatched vaudeville clown, but rather like a sleek Cirque du Soleil performer. (It may not pass that way, but it’s a great image to shoot for.)

Nine more weeks to go, and our lives will change.

Nine more weeks and BOTH Tarzan and Jane will take a bigger step out into the world …

BUT they will forever own my heart.


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