Misery loves company

running hills

Freezing temperatures, 35 MPH winds, 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 miles and speed work. Running is hard work and when Mother Nature or your training schedule is against you, having a running partner can be the difference between rolling over in bed or rolling out of bed.

A running partner can be very difficult to find. Running partners is usually what happens. Ability and goals determine what is on your training schedule and everyone’s ability and goals are different. It can be challenging to find someone who matches up with you and can be your sole running partner.

This critical motivation may have to be more of a patchwork of individuals. Someone who can run long and slow with on the weekends and someone else who likes to do speed work or hill training (this can get even more complicated if you compete in triathlons).

The most important aspect of your running partner is personality. If the two of you don’t mix well, it really doesn’t matter what the run for the day is, it will suck.

As far as running partners go, I can take them or leave them. I’ve run on my own for years and still enjoy running alone. However, over the last month Spongebunny and J$ have been coming out to run with me in the mornings. I’ve known these two men for years and we have worked out any personality conflicts between us. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses in running and other aspects of life (there are some in depth conversations that occur when you are stuck in a van with five other people deprived of sleep for 36 hours).

Spongebunny is very kind hearted. He never complains regardless of how difficult the run is. He is willing to work hard and learn to improve his running and meet his goals. Spongebunny runs about a ten-minute mile on average and is working on his first marathon. His superpowers are consistency and reliable as a runner.

J$ is generous and quick-witted. He puts his relationships with people before everything else. There is little that gets him down and his sense of humor can always brighten my day. J$’s superpowers are running hills and ripping through flat miles faster than anyone else on my team.

The two of them provide balance to my running. Spongebunny is slower than I am so on easy days it is good to run with him. But he is also a great speed work partner because he won’t complain and doesn’t give up. J$ is great to run hill work with because he will push me harder on those hills than I would do them alone. He is also an excellent partner for speed work because he offers a challenge.

Balance is key when picking a running partner(s). If one of you is far ahead of the others, you may have to train alone when working on that particular skill. I run farther than any of the people I run with, so I end up running at least a portion of my long runs alone and then meet up with them for the last ten to fifteen miles.

Running is hard, sharing the difficult times with friends will benefit both of you.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Nine


A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.


Melanie sat at the kitchen table drinking chai tea and eating a bagel, while she flipped through the Denver Post. May, 14, 2021 Friday, more riots, robberies, rapes, and murders pages of it reported from sea to shining sea. The announcement of the Justice Law had not stifled the flow of violence on the streets anywhere, what made them think its institution would.

Jennifer shuffled into the kitchen in her floral print bathrobe and white slippers. She pressed start on the coffee machine. “Will you be home after school today?”

“I’m going to the firing range with Holly and have something I have to pick up. I should be home around seven. Do you need me to do something?” Melanie sipped her tea, but didn’t look up at her mother. The percolator bubbled to life and Austen jumped onto the table bumping his grey head against Melanie’s hand.

“I was hoping you could make dinner.” Jennifer took down a mug and set it on the kitchen table across from Melanie.

“I can grab a pizza if you want?” Melanie looked up from the newspaper and rubbed her hand along Austen’s slender form, which was now sprawled across the newspaper.

Jennifer nodded toward the paper. “Anything new in there?”

The aroma of coffee filled the kitchen. Austen meowed and bumped Melanie again. “Same stuff.”

“Could you take your sister with you after school? But not to the firing range, I don’t want her there.”

“Sure. We were planning on the firing range first anyway.” Melanie took Austen’s head in both of her hands and rubbed his ears. His purrs rumbled like a distant dirt bike motor. Melanie flipped the fur off her fingers and it drifted to the moss green tiles.

“What do you have going on tonight?” Melanie asked and bit into her bagel.

Jennifer poured a package of strawberries and cream oatmeal into a pink Hello Kitty bowl, poured some milk in, and set it into the microwave. “There is a city council meeting tonight and I want to get more signatures on the no kill petition.”

Melanie nodded and pressed her lips together. “So, you’ll be late?” She raised her eyebrows.

“Around ten, you don’t mind putting Sam to bed do you?” The microwave peeped and Jennifer set Sam’s breakfast on the table.

“Nope, we’ll paint our finger and toenails while we watch one of her shows.”

Jennifer smiled and patted Melanie’s hand.

“Samantha, your oatmeal is ready.”

Melanie pulled up in front of Sam’s elementary school ten minutes before the bell rang releasing the children. She and Holly were going through two boxes of ammunition more quickly now that they both had guns and Melanie was more confident with hers. She could load, unload, and clean her gun as well as Holly and her marksmanship was improving. She needed to thank Holly’s dad for paying for their ammunition. There was no way that Melanie could afford to practice as much as they had been, and without the practice, the gun would be more of a danger than security for her family.

The bell rang, and a swarm of children exited the building running, laughing, and shouting at one another. Melanie smiled and filed the image away with all the others she was saving for when everything changed.

Sam charged at Melanie’s car, eyes full of childhood sparkle. She wrenched the door open and climbed in, backpack still attached, breathing hard, as she clicked her seatbelt into place.

“Hi Mel.” Sam smiled.

“How was your day Sam?”

“Loads of fun.” Sam rattled off everything she had done during class and at recess while Melanie drove out to a large house on a secluded mountain road. She pulled onto the long dirt drive way.

“Where we going?”

“You’ll see?”

“Oh a surprise? Will I like it?”

“I can guarantee you will love it.”

Melanie stopped the car in the horseshoe shaped driveway and turned it off. She and Sam climbed out of the car. Pine trees towered over the house on all sides. They were so dense you couldn’t see the road where they had just come from.

Low barking came from behind the door as they stepped up onto the white weatherworn porch that wrapped all the way around the house. A porch swing, small table, and two wicker chairs sat before the windows hung with white lace curtains.

Melanie knocked on the gray door. Sam looked up at her and slid her small hand into Melanie’s. A woman’s voice came from inside of the house.

“Gideon, Iris, sit. Stay.” The door swung open and a petite woman with silvering black hair stood before them with a smile that tugged at the corners of her eyes.

“You must be Melanie Craig?”

“Yes, and this is my sister Samantha.” Melanie reached out her hand and the woman shook it and invited them in.

“I’m Amber.”

Samantha eyed the two ninety-pound Rottweiler’s and inched in behind Melanie.

“Don’t worry about them sweetie. They’re the reason you’re here aren’t they?”

Sam cocked her head to the right and glanced up at Melanie.

“I didn’t tell her why we were coming here. Surprise.”

The woman beamed.

“Well then Ms. Samantha, let me show you to the backroom, she said with a wry smile and quick glance to Melanie.

Samantha followed Amber, dragging Melanie along by the hand. Gideon and Iris pushed passed them. They went through the kitchen and stopped at a dark doorway. Gideon and Iris disappeared into the dark. Melanie could hear whining.

Sam looked up at her. “Puppies?”

Melanie nodded and smiled. “Will you help me pick out a girl?”

“Mom’s going to kill you,” Sam said, but the board smile never faded from her lips.

Amber turned on the light and waved for them to come in. Iris was laying inside the huge kennel with eight or nine puppies surrounding her and clamoring over one another trying to find a nipple.

“Are they ready to be separated from their mom?” Sam asked.

Amber nodded. “They are three months old. Let me take Iris and Gideon out, so that you can look at the puppies.”

Once the adults were out of the room, Sam got down on her hands and knees to see the pups. Melanie sat next to her legs folded.

“A girl?” Sam asked.

“Yes, and her name will be Daisy.”

Sam picked up one puppy after another checking to see if they were girls. Amber slipped back into the room.

“I can’t find a girl,” Sam said as she put her hands on her hips and scanned the wiggling mass of fur.

“Let me help you. There are only two girls left.” Amber kneeled down next to Sam. “Here you are.” Amber placed a black ball of fur into Sam’s lap and then another one into Melanie’s. The one Sam had was playful with bright eyes and larger than the one Melanie had.

“What do you think?” Melanie asked.

“I like this one.”

“We’ll take that one,” Melanie said getting to her feet. They stopped at the pet store on the way home for a collar, harness, leash, and food.

Daisy slept in Sam’s lap for the ride home filling the car with the sweet smell of puppy.

“You’re going to help me potty train her right?” Melanie ruffled the fur on the puppy and gripped the extra skin she would soon grow into.

“I don’t know how.”

“Guess we’ll learn together then.”

It was raining when they pulled up to the house, Melanie put the red collar and leash on Daisy, and then handed it to Sam. Daisy bounded through the front door and peed on the kitchen floor.

Melanie frowned and Sam laughed. Melanie pulled a bunch of paper towels off the roll hanging beneath the counter and began wiping up the mess.

Austen growled and arched his back when Daisy toddled toward him. She was not afraid and licked his face. He bolted for the stairs causing another fit of laughter from Sam.

“Is Daisy going to protect us from bad people who want to hurt us?” Sam asked.

“When she is big like Gideon and Iris she will.”

“How long will that take?”

“Not long.”

Melanie and Sam spent the evening painting their finger and toenails yellow, purple, and green while eating pizza and taking turns letting Daisy outside to use the bathroom.

Sam was right, Jennifer was not happy about the dog.

“A gun, boxing, and now a dog,” she yelled at Melanie the next morning. Melanie pushed passed her mother, and walked to her car.

“Don’t you walk away from me Melanie Craig.”

Melanie turned to face her mom. “I’m doing everything I can to make sure this family is safe when that stupid law goes into effect. What have you done?”

Sam stood in the doorway with Daisy dangling from her arms. Jennifer stalked toward Melanie, but she got into her car, slammed the door, and drove away squealing her tires on the wet roads.

100 mile race plan

Pony Express 100
Pony Express 100

Above is my dad and I at last years Pony Express coming over Dugway pass about 35 miles into the race.

I met with my race crew to go over the plan for Pony Express 100 yesterday. Last year, I made it to mile 72 and had to drop from the race because of pain in my knee caused by a high ankle sprain I had not allowed to heal sufficiently. Last year I vowed to come back and finish the race. This year, I’m coming in injury free, I have one 100 mile finish under my belt, I have trained better, and I am on the low carb diet. 


There is a thirty-hour time limit on Pony Express 100. That means you have to maintain an 18-minute mile to finish the course before time runs out. But, I don’t want to be out there for thirty hours. The longer you are out there the harder it becomes to finish because you are tired, ache, and want to be done.

It takes six months to train for a one hundred mile event, at least for normal people who have a full time job and family to care for, and failure to finish after training for that long is a disheartening blow to say the least.

So you have to plan for every possibility that you can think of happening out there. One hundred miles is a long way and a lot can happen. I’m not saying that you need to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse, although I wouldn’t fault you for it, but each possibility that is within reason.

Pony Express is a great beginner’s race because you have to have your own crew and they can access you at any time during the race. There is only one aid station provided and it is at mile fifty. It is the finish line for the 50-mile runners and dinner for the 100-mile runners and their crew.

The major issues you have to consider are weather conditions, problems with your feet, and problems with your stomach. The best course of action is to do everything you can to prevent any of this by training well. And then be ready to deal with it when it does occur out on the course.

I have a blister kit to deal with any type of blister situation that arises, and I have a “medical kit,” which contains solutions to stomach problems that may arise. I pack the full gamut of clothing for Pony Express because daytime temperatures are around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperature drop below freezing.

Once I have all the gear I need, I have to teach my crew when I will need it. For this, I meet with my team before the race and go over a list I put together of what I will probably need and when. This list includes any important rules my crew has to follow, the food I have available, when I should change clothing, and any time cut offs for the race.

My parents are coming out for this race, which is exciting for me because they are not able to be at the finish line of many of my races due to work schedules and life events. They are pulling their camping trailer out to the race start and taking care of my son Sky (13) and my dogs while I run.

My dad is going to be my daytime crew. He will meet me along the road as my mobile aid station from 5:00 a.m. until about 5:00 p.m., which will be from the start to mile fifty or sixty depending on how I am feeling. Last year I had my crew meeting me every ten miles during the first fifty of the race, but this year I may cut that to every five miles.

Swiss Miss and another friend will by my nighttime crew performing the same duties that my dad did, but from 5:00 p.m. until I cross the finish line anywhere between 5:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

Both my daytime crew and nighttime crew may become pacers at some point in the race to help encourage me to keep going or to provide me some company out there on the flat as a pancake western desert. J$ will be coming out to pace me from mile 75 into the finish line, which is what he did for the Salt Flats 100.

My goal for the race is 28 hours, but just finishing is a huge achievement and I will accept a 30-hour finish with open arms as well. I am really looking forward to crossing the finish line where my mom, dad, Sky and a few of my best friends will be. I cannot imagine a better way to spend an October day.


Run More and Enjoy Life


I often find myself wondering why more people don’t run. The benefits of running far outnumber the difficulty of getting started and maintaining a consistent routine.

I admit that my enthusiasm for running can get a little annoying. I can talk about running for days and not get bored. I love to learn about it and learn ways to help others to enjoy it.

I know not everyone wants to take running to the level I have, but there are some many more benefits to running other than the physical fitness, which is the reason most people begin running. Running is an excellent way to improve physical fitness don’t get me wrong, but it is so much more.

I really believe that this world would be a better place overall and that each individual life would be improved if everyone ran five miles three days a week or even three miles four days a week.

Running increases energy, relieves stress, and stabilizes your mood. It is cheaper than therapy, alcohol, and painkillers and doesn’t have all the negative consequences. You don’t have to have a lot of money to get started just a pair of good shoes. There is no gym membership required and you don’t have to have friends to get started, but you’re likely to gain some the longer you stick to running.

It may seem strange that expending energy would increase it on the back end, but it does. You may be tired when you first start, but your body will adjust the way it burns the food you eat and begin supplying you with more energy.

Physical activity is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It increases the feel good endorphins in your body. It is meditation in motion, your mind lets go of whatever was stressing you out and you can just focus on the physical movement of your body and really be present. Often you will have an “aha” moment during a run as the solution to a problem reveals itself as you put one foot in front of another.

Exercise also reduces depression and anxiety thereby stabilizing your mood and allowing your body to sleep better, and better sleep is always a good thing especially if you are dealing with stressful situations on a daily basis.

You will increase your support system through running as well. Although running is an individual sport for the most part, runners are social just like any other group. They love to hang out, get to know other people, and support one another through encouragement and advice. There is always room for one more on the road or the trail. Even if you start running, as I did alone and not knowing any other runners, if you run enough races or do a relay you will meet other runners.

Many people say they are too busy and too stressed to take thirty to forty-five minutes three to four days a week to get in a run, but if you make time for it, the world becomes a better place for you and those around you.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Eight


A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

Melanie winced as Mitchel pulled her into his arms. Jake did not take it easy on her at the boxing gym yesterday. He had used gloves, but her ribs were still sore.

“Move,” Jake had said to her as he bounced around the mat jabbing and crossing at her. She had tried, but his hands moved lightning fast. His fist had caught her on the right cheek, the shock of it made her lose focus on what was happening, and she stood there in a haze and caught two uppercuts to the ribs.

“Now you know what it’s like to get hit,” he had said pulling off his gloves and reaching down to help her up. She had wanted to vomit, but he was right, now she knew.

Mitchel brushed her hair back around her ear. “Tough day at the gym?”

Melanie pressed her lips together and smiled. Mitchel had been complaining that ever since the Justice Law had passed, they had not spent time together just for no other reason than to be together. He pulled her hand up to his mouth and pressed his lips against her knuckles.

“You should be more careful.”

“It was my first real lesson and Jake didn’t take it easy.”

“Did you want him to?”

“Well no, but I thought he might at least not hit so hard.” She touched her right cheek.

Mitchel laughed. Melanie took a step back from him and frowned, creases forming between her eyebrows. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and guided her toward the trail along the river. The emerald green of the leaves reminded her it was the season of new life, her favorite time of year. The smell of the decaying leaves from last year filled her nostrils along with the fresh scent of the running water as it tumbled over the rocks. Ice and snow capped the mountains sparkling like crystals in the distance.

Mitchel wanted to forget about the Justice Law for one afternoon, but Melanie could hardly get it out of her head. Everything she and her friends were doing recently was in preparation for it coming into effect. They had less than three weeks to be ready for whatever it was going to bring.

“So Holly’s in Tae Kwon Do?” he asked.

Melanie nodded. “I tried to get her to come to the boxing gym with me, but she wouldn’t. It will take her forever to learn anything useful in a class like that.”

“It’s better than nothing.” He took her hand in his as they balanced on rocks to cross a marshy section of the trail. The run off was in full swing and icy rivulets leaked over the lip of the river in a few places. The leaves rustled in the wind that still held a touch of winter within its tresses.

Melanie shrugged. “Maybe.”

“Are you still planning on going to the University of Denver after graduation?” she asked, glancing up into his hazel eyes. Their green was more prominent today, as if the spring had felt the need to spread new life even there.

“What else can I plan to do? I refuse to believe that this law will be the end of all our dreams and plans.” He helped her up onto a fallen tree. She always walked along it when they hiked this trail. He walked along side of the log as she held her arms out to balance while traversing the narrow aspen trunk. It still held the elasticity of life.

“I still want to take you away from here, get my degree in Veterinary medicine, and build a life for us. Maybe even a family.”

He reached up with both hands under her arms. She slid down his body coming to rest against his chest. She stayed there feeling the rise and fall of his breathing and the hushed sound of his heart.

“I want that too.”

Mitchel dropped her off at home just as the sun’s final rays were fading into the deep blues of the night. She kissed him goodbye, and slide her backpack off the seat of his truck.

Her mom sat in a navy blue rocking recliner reading a book. The lamp beside her made her glow. She smiled and turned the page of her book, To Kill a Mockingbird. The house was filled with aroma of her mother’s chamomile tea.

“How was your hike?”

Melanie’s smile stretched across her face, her teeth exposed. “It was good.” She loved Mitchel and wanted to spend her whole life with him. Her mom always cautioned her to not move too fast and to wait to get married until she was finished with college. But what if she never finished college, what if they never had the chance to do anything they had planned?

The smile melted off Melanie’s face.

“What is it Mel?” Jennifer asked setting her book on the almond coffee table beside her tea mug.

Melanie shook her head, her eyes filling with tears. Jennifer stood and moved to her daughter. She wrapped her in her arms.

“I can’t lose him, mom. I just can’t. This law, this stupid law.” Tears slid down Melanie’s cheeks. They stood there together with her wrapped in the cocoon of her mother’s arms for long minutes before Melanie took a step back wiped her face and said good night.

When Melanie was alone in her room, she removed her compact 9 mm from her backpack. She and Holly picked it up after school. She pulled the metal box from beneath her bed and put the gun and a loaded magazine in the lockbox. Pushing it back under, she let out a held breath and stood. Twenty more days before she had to carry that with her wherever she went, and she wasn’t going to do it any earlier. She put the ammunition in the top of her closet and she got into bed.

Melanie awoke to a sliver of blinding yellow light darting across her face. Samantha’s small form blotted it out as she passed through the door.

Sam crouched down almost nose to nose with Melanie. “Mel?”

“Yeah Sammy?”

“Can I sleep with you?”

“Turn out the hall light and you can.”

Sam shuffled back to the doorway and then back to the side of the bed.

Melanie wiggled to the edge of the bed and opened the blanket for her sister to slip into its warmth. “Bad dream?”

“There was lots of blood, mom wasn’t waking up. You were crying.”

Melanie ran her fingertips along her sisters back trying to comfort her. “I won’t let that happen, Sammy. We are all going to be fine.”


“I promise.”

Run 100 Miles? You’ve got to be kidding.

Salt Lake Marathon Salt Flats 100 2014 018Salt Flats 100 Start, April 2014.

“I don’t even like to drive 100 miles,” they say.

This is the comment that usually starts the conversation with anyone who finds out I run 100 mile events. I don’t tell people that I run 100 mile events. Most people I associate with know that I am a runner, and then they hear from others that I run 100 miles.

“In one day?”

“Pretty much, the time cutoff is usually between 30-36 hours,” I say. Their eyes usually bug out at this point.

“By yourself?”

“Yes, I run the distance by myself, but I have a pacer for the last twenty and a crew throughout the race,” I say. This usually requires some explanation about what a pacer and crew are. A pacer is another runner who runs with the participant. They keep them company, make sure they stay on the right trail, offer encouragement, but they cannot pack any of their equipment or carry the runner. Your crew meets you at prearranged points along the race to make sure you have everything you need, help change clothing or shoes, make sure you are eating and hydrating, and offer encouragement. Pacers and crew do a lot more than this, but this is the simplest explanation. See my crew information page.

“Do you sleep?”

“No. Well okay I fell asleep for about fifteen minutes at Salt Flats,” I say. Some runners do take a power nap if needed for 20 minutes. If it is a choice between sleeping for 20 minutes or not finishing, then you should sleep, but you will get stiff while you sleep.

“How do you run 100 miles?”

This question confuses me because I assume people are familiar with the mechanics of running, but I usually come up with some response such as, “I put one foot in front of the other until I reach the finish line. It’s really a mind over matter thing.”

“Do you eat?”

“Yes, but it’s complicated.” Every runner is different when it comes to eating because everyone’s body tolerates different things while running. Your blood is focusing on keeping your legs moving forward. When you put something into your stomach, your body has to divert blood and energy to it to digest. If it doesn’t, you will most likely get nauseated and possibly vomit. There is a learning curve here for your body to be able to do this effectively. You should save yourself some trouble and plan to have some stomach problems while running.

“Doesn’t it hurt?”

“Eventually, you begin to ache and you’re tired, but sharp pain shouldn’t be happening.” Pain and aching are different to me. Pain means something is injured or I am causing damage. Ache means I’m pushing my body farther than it is use to going. My feet will ache and my legs will ache, during a 100 mile race, but there shouldn’t be pain. If there is pain you need to stop and determine whether finishing this event is more important to you than preventing further damage to your body. Some injuries will heal without causing a long-term impact on your future health and running, others will not. If you have an injury that will cause long term impact, it is probably better to live to run another day.

“Don’t you get bored?”

“Not at all.” I talk with other runners, and I may listen to music or an audio book. By the time you get to the race, you should be pretty comfortable spending time alone running.

“How do you even train for that?”

“It takes six months and a lot of dedication.” It is good to have finished a few marathons before taking on the ultra-distances. Completing a 50 miler is probably a good idea before a 100 miler too. The training plans that I have on this site are 60 months for both the 50 and the 100-mile distance. I don’t recommend shorter training plans especially for your first few events. Once you have some under your belt then, you can shorten the time because your body is familiar with training at that level. However, if you are an injury prone runner you may want to stick with one 100-mile event a year and complete the full six-month program each time.

“Do you walk any of it?”

“Yes most people who run 100 walk the up hills.” Actually, most 100-mile runners walk a lot more than this, some as much as 50 or 60 miles of the race. This is going to depend upon the course and the experience of the runner.

Running 100 miles is definitely not for everyone.

I expect to have this above conversation many times over the next five weeks as Pony Express 100 approaches. I’ll be working out my race plan over the next week and will keep you all updated on how things are going.

Happy Running!

Flash Floods don’t stop team Nut up or Shut up!

Van one RRR 9.12.14Van One Team Nut up or Shut up: Back row left to right: Jillybean, Shoeless Joe, Matt, and Kilo. Kneeling left to right: Mel and JJ.

RRR 9.13.14Van Two Team Nut up or Shut Up back row left to right: J$, Spongebunny, and Swiss Miss. Front laying down: me AKA the Captain.

Flash flooding in Southern Utah led to the closing of I-15 between Mesquite, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada. All of the traffic was diverted onto the Red Rock Relay racecourse. The Utah Department of Transportation informed the race director Wednesday that runners could not be on the road because it was now being used as the primary thoroughfare for the semi-trucks and all other traffic going to Las Vegas by way of Cedar City, Utah.

Teams got an email on Wednesday evening explaining that the race would not be cancelled, but that it would be significantly changed. The new plan was to start both van one and van two for all teams at the same time from the starting line and have both vans run the first twelve legs. Essentially the twelve person teams were split into two six person teams, and everyone would start together and run the same 12 legs.

We were all very relieved that the race was not being cancelled because we love Red Rock Relay. But we had a minor problem. There was no way our team’s van two was going to be able to be at Brian Head Resort (starting line) at 7:00 a.m. on Friday morning. It just wasn’t going to happen. Three of us are single parents who had to get children off to school before leaving for the race. School doesn’t start until 8:00 or 8:30 a.m. for the kids.

I sent an email to the race director explaining that our van two could not be at the start at 7:00 am on Friday, but we could be there by 11:00 a.m. I explained that I knew this would mean we would be dead last, the finish line would be taken down when we rolled in, and there would not be any race crew members on the course.

None of that mattered to us, because we love Red Rock Relay and spending time with one another. The race director was very nice and allowed us to start at 11:00 a.m. She said the course markings and port-a-potties would still be up, and that they would wait for us at the finish line. We were thrilled! I reworked which of my runners would be running which legs of the race for both of my vans and sent out an email to my team.

At 6:00 p.m. the night before the race, I received a text from Gadget Gnome. His basement had a half inch of water in it, and he was not sure where the water was coming from. He could not run because he needed to figure it out and clean it up. Van two was down to four members. Not a problem, twelve legs four runners, three legs each. It would be just like any other relay only condensed into 10 hours instead of 36. I sat down and reworked, which of my Van two runners would be running which legs and went to bed.

Friday morning J$ picked me up and we drove to pick up Swiss Miss and Spongebunny. I explained what happened with Gadget Gnome and the new leg assignments. Everyone was fine with the new assignments. I was pleased with their ability to just roll with all the changes that happened over the last two days. No one complained.

Since my knee is still not 100% and was feeling weird when running downhill, I assigned myself a lot of uphill runs, but that also left me far short of my mile quota for the weekend. Swiss Miss and Spongebunny were kind enough to let me run their uphill legs along side them, so I could get the thirty miles I needed.

We had such a great time even though we were only able to run one third of the racecourse. We did get to run the most beautiful section of the course, but it is also the most difficult section of the course.

Our van one was able to start at 7:00 a.m., and they were amazing and completed the same course. I am so grateful for my running team. We may not be the fastest team out there, but we know how to have a great time, roll with the punches, and support one another.RRR 9.12.14Me coming in from El Diablo and handing off to J$. Spongebunny welcoming me back (far right) with a bottle of cold water.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Seven


A Vigil for Justice, is a serial thriller fiction novel. Updates of 1,000-1,500 words will be posted every Friday.

Recap: Sixteen-year-old Melanie Craig and her family live in the small Colorado mountain town of Blue River. Since the end of World War Three, the economy in the United States has dropped out making funding law enforcement impossible and increasing crime rates in all but the smallest towns. The government passes a Law allowing anyone over 16 to kill three other people during their life. Vigilante justice doesn’t seem like the right solution to Melanie, but she has no choice other than to learn how to protect herself and her family.

Melanie pulled her car into the parking lot of the red brick building of the gun range. She parked the compact car between two trucks with tires that were level with the bottom of her windows. She and Holly stepped out of the car. Melanie wiped her hands on her jeans and shoved her keys and phone in her pockets.

Guns were not something her family had passed down as heirlooms from generation to generation. Her parents had never fired a gun let alone owned one, and her mom probably never would. That left it to her.

Holly walked to toward the glass doors. “You coming Mel?”

“I’m right behind you.”

Holly held the door open while Melanie passed into a world of new sights, sounds, and smells. Holly grew up around guns, and has been shooting them since she was eight.

The men behind the counter wave to Holly as they approach.

“Ms. Stein how can I help you today?” asked a short pudgy man with a greying beard.

“We’d like to rent a 357 Magnum George.”

“I thought we were shooting your guns?” Melanie whispered to Holly.

“We are, but you should shoot a revolver too.”

Melanie wiped her hands on her jeans again.

“You need ammo?” George asked. He set a silver barreled revolver on the counter.

“Just for the 357.” Holly set a black bag on the counter and picked up the gun. She flipped the cylinder out and spun it. “Did my dad call today?”

George set a box of ammo on the counter. “He did, just a few minutes before you ladies walked in.”

Holly handed the gun to Melanie, who took it like it was a piece of rotting meat. It was heavier than she expected it to be. She didn’t know what to do with it or how to hold it, so she held it by the black handle barrel down.

George raised his eyebrows. “First time?”

Holly smiled and picked up the ammo and her bag.

“Lane thee and four are yours.”

“Thanks,” Holly called back. Melanie followed. The smell of gunpowder accosted Melanie as she passed through the door behind Holly. They were in a concrete room. Twenty-five yards out were plain circular targets.

Holly put the bag on the floor next to their lanes. She set two other guns on the top of the concrete barriers between lanes. She dug around in the bag, pulled out two boxes of ammunition, and set them on the floor. She handed up a pair of eye and ear protection to Melanie.

“When I first started shooting my dad gave me a .22 because it doesn’t have a lot of recoil. Now I shoot a compact 9 mm semi auto.”

“Okay,” Melanie said not sure what any of that meant or if it was somehow important.

“You want to shoot both a revolver and a pistol to see which one you like more.” Holly put eye and ear protection on and Melanie did the same.

“Does it really matter? A gun is a gun. You pull the trigger and it shoots a bullet out the other end,” Melanie yelled to make sure Holly heard her.

Holly rolled her eyes. “It matters.” Holly slid bullets into the revolver. “I want you to watch me shoot it and then you will shoot it, okay?”

Melanie nodded and took a step back. Melanie had never seen Holly so confident and serious. It was strange to see her bubbly slightly ditzy best friend take control of a situation, especially one involving instruments of death.

Holly stepped up between the concrete dividers and pressed a switch bringing the target toward them. Melanie took a step forward to see what Holly was doing. Her stance was about shoulder width apart and her knees bent a bit. She held the gun out with both hands, took aim, and pulled the trigger.

Melanie jumped with the first shot and cringed at each successive one. The shots were loud.

Holly lowered the gun and turned to face Melanie.

“There are four things you have to remember whenever you are around guns. First, treat every single gun as if it were loaded. Second, always point a gun in a safe direction. Third, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. Fourth, do not point a gun at anything you are not willing to totally destroy.”

Melanie nods.

“I’m going to drill you on these every time we shoot, so remember them,” Holly said.

Melanie starts to smile, but Holly is totally serious. Holly releases the cylinder on the revolver, spins it, and closes it.

She hands the gun to Melanie. “Check it first and always.”

“But I just watched you do it.”

“Do it anyway. You don’t know what I saw in there. Load it while you have it open.”

Melanie checks and loads the gun.

Holly motions for her to step up to fire the gun, and she stands behind Melanie. “Okay, now when you hold it make sure your thumbs are on top of one another, so they don’t get in the way. Hold it steady and pull the trigger slow at first. You gotta lean into it a little to catch some of the recoil.”

The gun is heavy in Melanie’s outstretched hands. She takes a deep breath and pulls the trigger as she exhales. The recoil drives the gun back into her hand, and she nearly drops it.

“Don’t drop it,” Holly cries out.

Melanie holds on. She is a shade paler and shaking. She wants to put it down and never touch the thing. She had to learn how to shoot. There wasn’t a choice.

“Okay?” Holly asks looking at her.

Melanie presses her lips together and nods.

“Give it another go. Make sure your stance is solid and don’t flinch now.” Holly made her fire off all of the rounds. The recoil made her arms and hands ache. She was going to have to get use to this and the only way to do that was to shoot many more rounds.

“All right, now I want you to shoot the 9 mm. Then you can answer your own question of whether or not the type of gun matters,” Holly said.

Holly showed Melanie how to load the magazine with cartilages and then how to slip the magazine into the well. She pulled the slide back and had Melanie watch her empty the gun into the target.

“Your turn.”

The first thing Melanie noticed was that the balance of the gun was more even. The grip was larger, but not too big for her hands. She took a few deep breaths and held her arms out. She pulled the trigger one after another until the slide locked back.

“So?” Holly asked.

“I like this one better.” Melanie said sheepishly.

Holly tilted her head and smiled crookedly. “Do you want to try a smaller one?”

“Sure.” The 9 mm didn’t feel as sinister as the revolver. It felt more natural to shoot. She knew that it carried the same potential, but it didn’t feel like a cannon at the end of her arms.

“This one is small enough to be a conceal carry, but its shoots the same caliber as the compact,” Holly explained.

They took turns firing off some rounds.

Melanie took off the ear and eye protection. “I’m going to get a compact 9 mm.”

Holly was packing everything into the bag. “It’s my favorite. We can go fill out the paper work tomorrow. They don’t sell guns here.”

Melanie looked at her best friend with fire red hair and emerald eyes. She could not imagine Holly aiming a gun at a person and pulling the trigger. Here at the range, it was different.

They returned the 357 to George and walked out to Melanie’s car. Melanie could smell the gun powder on her hands and wondered if her mom would be able to smell it too.

Run a Marathon?

“Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

—Anais Nin

Anyone can finish a marathon, if you want to do it. You may not be fast, but you will finish.  The biggest hurdle for completing an endurance event is time. The solution to the time problem is organization and recruiting support.

Marathon training programs are sixteen weeks long or about four months. If you do not have a running background, don’t try to weasel your way into a shorter program. You will get hurt.

There are numerous programs out there, including one on my page above. For your first marathon, the goal should be to finish. You can set a time goal as a “it would be nice to do it in …” but the primary goal should be to finish.

The way that you start your training and your race day strategy is going to depend upon your fitness level going into the marathon. If you are coming from the couch, having never run a race in your life, you should plan to use a run/walk strategy to reduce the likelihood of injury and increase the chances of success and enjoyment of the race. On all long runs, implement your run/walk ratio. Eight minutes running and two walking is a great one. Another successful ratio is nine minutes walking one minute running.

If you are relatively fit or have completed a few 10k’s or even a half marathon, you can also use the run/walk strategy to reduce the risk of injury if you are injury prone or coming back from an injury.  You can also just run the entire distance.

But finding a program or even a running partner is not the biggest challenge you will face on your journey. You have to make your running a priority and everyone in your life needs to understand and support you in your goal. This is especially true if you have children who rely on you for their daily care.

Before you register and commit to a specific race, talk with your support system about helping watch the kids for your long runs. If your children are in their later elementary years talk with them about the race and see what they can do to help. It’s important to include those around you as you chase your goals and dreams. Sometimes partners and spouse become resentful or jealous about the time you spend training. This is less likely to happen if you discuss it in realistic ways, including your energy levels, how they can help, and the time commitment.

Supports are also excellent motivators. If you have done your upfront work and they are invested in you accomplishing your goal, they will not let you fail. They will eliminate all the excuses you come up with when your motivation to get up at 4 am is waning.

Who said a marathon was not a team sport?

Recovery takes too long!

The knee is healing slower than I would like, which would be instantly. Removing my ability to run long distance last weekend has impacted other area’s of my world. Most significantly, my sleep. I can’t sleep a lick when I don’t run distance. I’m just not tired. My body is used to putting out enough energy to keep me going for 70 miles a week, six hours on the bike, and two hours in the pool.

I’ve had to reduce that to almost zero other than the swimming. And now, the pool is closed this week so they can put the top back on!

I’m going to have to swim at the pool near my office over lunch just to keep the energy levels down so I can get some type of sleep.

I took four days off running. The swelling was nearly gone by Wednesday and I checked with a orthopedic doctor about running. He told me as long as there is no pain while running, I should be fine. So, on Wednesday evening, I ran just a little to see how it would feel. I walked three miles and ran another 1.5 miles. No pain. Excellent.

On Thursday morning, I ran with Spongebunny and J$, we did nine miles easy. There was no additional swelling later that day or on Friday.

I decided that I would take it easy over the weekend. Saturday I went out for 23 miles. My knee didn’t hurt during the run. I did notice that when going down even a mild incline there was pressure on the outside bottom of my knee. I tried to avoid downhill not wanting to aggravate anything that was still inflamed.

On Sunday I went out for an easy ten miles and kept it very flat. There was no pain during the run. I did notice that there was some pressure in the same spot as yesterday. I’ll will continue to take it easy until things feel normal once again.

Red Rock Relay is next Friday (September 12) and Saturday. I’m running 36 miles of the race and have significant downhill. If my knee is not totally better by then I may have to switch out some runs with my other runners. I’m sure they will be terribly upset about not running uphill! Ha, Ha, Ha.