Low Carb for One Year

low carb running

January 2, 2015 will be the one year mark for me changing to a Low Carbohydrate life style. I say lifestyle rather than diet because I don’t just diet and exercise, I train and fuel my body. It is a different mindset. People who look at their food choice as a diet feel restricted and it implies a temporary condition until a goal is reached. For me, food choice is about making sure my body recovers and is able to put it all on the line the next day.

What does low carb mean? For me, it means I consume no more than 50 grams of carbohydrates in one day. I do not eat wheat at all. I don’t eat breads, noodles, rice, potatoes, or tortillas.  I have to watch the sugar content of fruits. I do not drink soft drinks or sports drinks other than Nuun.

I do prepare my meals from scratch. I eat a lot of vegetables, nuts, dairy, eggs, lean meats, and berries. I actually do eat breads and tortillas but I make them from nut flours and flax seed meal.

Since I changed to the low carb lifestyle, I have noticed many differences in my training and in my daily life. First the daily life benefits, I don’t get tired in the afternoons. I feel alert and ready for just about anything during the day mentally and physically. My moods do not fluctuate throughout out the day. I don’t crave sweets. I don’t graze and snack all day long.

Training benefits: my moods don’t swing during my long runs. I recover much faster from day to day. I do not need to consume endless amounts of sugar while running to fuel my muscles and brain. I have increased my pace on my long runs by thirty seconds a mile. I don’t have GI issues during long runs and ultra races.

The other benefit that many people have noticed is I lost 15 pounds going from 130 lbs to 115 lbs. I didn’t switch to low carb to lose weight, it just happened. I know that many people choose to go low carb because of the weight loss benefit, but for me it was purely a training choice.

I will say the first two weeks on low carb were pretty miserable. I felt awful, weak, slow, and groggy. I was hungry all the time and had to eat every two hours to maintain my blood sugar and not get dizzy and nauseous. I didn’t reduce my training at all during this time, which probably contributed to how I felt, but I couldn’t lose two weeks of training.

After the two weeks, I started to feel better. It didn’t happen overnight it was a little each day. The research I’ve read says it takes anywhere from 4-12 weeks to feel great on low carb and everyone is different. The reason it takes so long is your body is changing from burning carbs for fuel to fats for fuel. It needs time to build up enough fat burning enzymes to fuel your body. You are not going to feel great until you have given your body enough time to build fat burning enzymes to burn enough calories to fuel your activity level.

Another thing that was hard initially, is that I would go to the store and see everything I couldn’t eat. It took about a month for me to reframe my thinking to see the things I could eat and look at the situation as an opportunity to learn to cook in a new way. Pinterest and Facebook have been lifesavers in finding low carb recipes that are quick and easy to make.

The final challenge of being low carb is I have a small kitchen in my home. All right, I admit it’s more like a hallway than a kitchen. There is very limited counter space for mixing and chopping vegetables. It is challenge with any food preparations, but particularly with low carb (Paleo would cause this problem form me too). I use a lot of fresh vegetable and make things from scratch so limited counter space is kind of an issue.

If you want more information on low carb athletic performance I suggest checking out the website. The art and science of low carb.

Happy New Year!

As if the cold wasn’t interesting enough

snowy roads

The first challenge with running outdoors during the winter months is staying warm, which I’ve written posts on previously and you can find them here. The second challenge is sharing the roads with vehicles of all sizes.

Most of us will be doing our running in the dark. This may not be anything new for you. Pull on your headlamp, tail light, and a reflective vest and presto you’re ready to go. I’ve always found it concerning that many winter running clothes are black. What’s up with that? In the winter, I suggest taking your lighting and reflection to a new level. Wear as much reflective gear as you can. Drivers are more distracted and focused on what is right in front of them if there is snow on the roads. They are anxious about sliding and watching for ice not runners. So light yourself up. Glow in the dark!

Sliding cars are a major issue for runners. Please don’t run with music playing during the winter months. Take it as a personal challenge to see where your mind can wander. Cars slide down hills, up hills, around corners, at stop signs, at stoplights, and at “Oh shit! What is that? a runner! What in the hell are they doing out in this mess?” Yes, my driving friends we run in horrible conditions and you will never understand. Stay on high alert, assume that drivers do not see you, and assume that they will lose control of their vehicle, if they haven’t already. Live to run another day.

Running on the shoulder of the road can be treacherous in the winter. There are ankle-rolling chunks of ice and daggers of ice waiting for you to fall. Sidewalks are hit and miss on whether they have been shoveled (this should be encouragement for you all to shovel and do a favor to your fellow runners who use the sidewalk). Most runners opt for running in the middle of the road where it has been cleared by the plows or by the driving of cars. Just be prepared to dive for the shoulder at a moment’s notice when a sliding car comes around the corner.

Snowplows are really big and dangerous to runners. We love them for clearing the snow from the roads, but they are the major cause of the ankle-rolling chunks of ice on the shoulders. If you are out during a storm or shortly after and there are plows out, be ready to switch to the opposite side of the road before they reach you or you are going to be showered with beautiful arch of road grime, ice, slush, and whatever else happened to be on the road as they pass.

I love running in the winter, it’s quiet and decorated with diamonds, but you have to stay on your toes. Maybe I love it for that reason too.


A Vigil for Justice: Episode 22


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 awoke the next morning, early. She and Mitchel had fallen asleep on the couch around 7:00 the night before. Her mother had gotten her into her bedroom around midnight when she came in with Seth. He had been harder to find than they had thought he would be.

She shuffled down the hall and peeked into the guestroom. Mitchel and Seth were both asleep. She pulled the door closed and continued down the hall toward the kitchen. A light was on in the living room. Melanie stepped down each stair trying to not make any of them squeak.

Jennifer was curled up in the corner of the couch with a white fleece blanket wrapped around her and Austen nestled in the crook of her knees. She set her book down and looked up at Melanie.

“You’re up early.”

“Well I went to bed early.” Melanie sat on the couch next to her mother.

Austin stretched his long lean grey legs out and arched his back tossing his tail in the air. After his stretch, Melanie held up her finger to him. He sniffed it and rubbed his face on it purring. Melanie smiled at him and plopped him in her lap.

“Where’d you find Seth?”

“Asleep in his truck outside of a bar in Breck. His truck is still there. We’ll have to go get it today.”

“How is he?”


Melanie ran her hand over Austen’s soft fur. He tilted his head turning his pale blue eyes on her. “Did he find their dad?”

Jennifer shook her head no. “Probably a good thing too.”

Melanie nodded and looked out the front window. Slivers of yellow and pink split the sky over the mountains. Dawn was breaking, Melanie hoped it wouldn’t bring more bodies. The Justice Law went into effect six days ago, and four bodies had turned up so far. It must be a slaughter in the bigger cities and towns throughout the United States. Things had been so busy Melanie hadn’t had time to watch the news or read the paper.

“Have they found Evan?”

“Not yet,” Jennifer said. “They had deputies at the house all night, and Richard’s militia has been looking for him. Sheriff Tom says that Anna’s death is murder not a justice killing and when they find Evan he will be charged.”

Melanie yawned. “How’s the rest of the world fairing?”

Jennifer pointed to the paper on the table. “Not well. There have been shootings at hospitals. President Vick has declared hospitals and medical facilities, where research and medical procedures are conducted, safe zones.”  Jennifer shook her head and took a sip of her tea.

“You want me to warm that up for you?” Melanie asked.


Melanie took her mother’s cup into the kitchen and stuck it in the microwave. Melanie walked back into the living room with it and a cup of coffee for herself.

Jennifer’s cell phone vibrated on the table. She jumped up to grab it.

“Hello.” Jennifer mouthed thank you and took the tea from Melanie.

Melanie could hear that the caller was a male, but she couldn’t make out the words.

“Where?”  Jennifer set her tea on the table and covered her mouth with her hand.

“Oh my god.” She made the sign of the cross on herself.

“Thank you, Sheriff. Yes, both Seth and Mitchel are here. They are welcome as long as they want to be here.”

Jennifer set the phone on the table.

“They found him.” It wasn’t a question, Melanie asked. She knew. There was no other reason for Sheriff Tom to be calling at this hour.

Jennifer nodded.


Jennifer nodded.


Sheriff Tom found Evan’s body in the church’s gated courtyard around two in the morning. He had been dead a few hours. He was butchered, slit open from groin to Adam’s apple. His internal organs spilt upon the slate stones.  His SAFE chip had been crushed inside his arm while he was alive.  There was no information on the National Cybersecurity Protection System about who had killed Mitchel and Seth’s father.

Evan had at least had the foresight to pay for their burials in advance.  Seth and Mitchel stood side by side at the head of the open graves watching as the caskets containing their mother and father were lowered into the ground.

They were orphans now, with no family to care for them. Their father had run all the family off a long time ago, both his own family and their mother’s.

Melanie walked through the courtyard after the funeral. Blood still stained the stones. She was waiting for Mitchel and Seth. They wanted to be alone for a while, Melanie understood all too well. She glanced up and Father Chris stood in the archway leading into the Cathedral.  She took a step back.

He ran toward her. His black cassock thwacked tight against his legs with each stride.  “Melanie, this wasn’t me. I swear it.”

She could feel the heat of his body next to hers. His hands rested on her shoulders. She drew her gun and pushed it between them and into his soft belly. He flinched and released her shoulders.

“I don’t know what to think Father.”  She pressed the barrel hard into him, and he stepped back.

He closed his eyes and his head sank until his chin was on his collarbone.

“If this is your doing Father, prayers won’t help you.”

“Why would I desecrate the house of God?”

Melanie didn’t have an answer for that, but it didn’t matter. She knew he was a killer. She knew Evan had deserved what he got, regardless of who had done it.


Merry Christmas

xmas tree

I have a ten mile run Christmas morning. I’m very excited about it. I’m more excited about that then opening the gifts beneath the tree (I know what they all are anyway). I’m getting up at 5:00 a.m. to go run. It doesn’t matter how cold it is or how much snow is on the ground. I’ll be out there putting one foot in front of another.

Everyone leaves their Christmas lights on throughout the night of Christmas Eve and into Christmas morning. The red, green, blue, yellow, and white light catches in the snow, like jewels scattered on the ground. Christmas trees stand in the front windows of every house.

The streets are empty of all cars. The stores are all closed and the parking lots are empty. A hush falls over the world Christmas morning, especially if there was snow during the night (that’s a special gift).

Each branch of the trees will be lined with snow. A downy white blanket covers every yard without any footprints and no tire marks in the street. Falling snowflakes catch in my eyelashes.   Snow crunches beneath my feet. The cold air makes my cheeks and lips go little numb and rosy.

Around six, the magic starts to happen, the lights come on inside the houses. The children begin to wake. They slide out of their beds, and shove their little feet into slippers. Scampering down the hall to their siblings rooms they whisper into the dark, “It’s time to get up. It’s Christmas.”

They dance around the tree bouncing and laughing. Santa Clause has come leaving presents wrapped in paper covered with their favorite Christmas characters. They carefully peer among the gifts, trying to find out which one belongs to them.

Then it’s back down the hall to wake up mom and dad. The wrapping paper flies throw the air and flutters to the ground. Cries of glee, hugs, and “I love you.”

I catch glimpses of this as I run. I smile. The true gift of Christmas, is seeing the joy and wonder on another person’s face, young or old.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Walking Away from Hope


Parenting is hard. There is no instruction manual. What works for one child, does not work for another. Everyone, including strangers on the street, wants to tell you what you are doing wrong. Excellent parents have kids who are out of control due to a variety of reasons: mental health, physical disabilities and disorders, drug abuse, gangs, and other criminal activity.

There is nothing more heart wrenching and infuriating than a parent who throws up their hands and turns their back on their child. In parenting, failure is not an option. Your child did not ask to be born. Your child did not choose you as a parent. You, the parent, chose the child. From the day you took that baby home from the hospital, you chose.

Until that child is eighteen years old they are your responsibility to house, feed, educate, and love. No matter how hard the going gets, it’s your job to always say yes to them being your child and to never lose hope that it will change and that things will get better in the future.

Hope begins and ends with the parent.

In my day job, I watch parents (biological and adoptive) walk away from their children. Place the child in the custody of the State and wash their hands of the child. It’s not every day, but even one is too much in my book. I’ve heard every reason: “We’ve tried everything,”  “They are ruining our marriage,” “the other children are afraid of them,” “They are destroying our home,” “They are stealing from us,” and “They are physically assaultive.”

teens 2

I know sometimes kids have to be taken out of a home and go to treatment programs, but their always your child. As a parent, your efforts to visit, love, and care for your child should never cease.  The child’s issues may prevent the child from living in your home, but it doesn’t end your responsibility as a mother or a father.

Kids are hard. I understand. I really do.  I know, you’ve tried everything, every type of therapy, every medication, every consequence, every parenting class, every assessment, and every treatment program known to man.

Well, try them again.

Never walk away from hope.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode 21


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.

Father Chris a killer, Melanie didn’t want to believe it. He was a servant of God. The commandments said thou shalt not kill or some such thing. Melanie paced back and forth in her bedroom. She ran her fingers through her hair. She hadn’t been able to sleep when she got home from her shift with the militia. Daisy laid on Melanie’s bed and watched her stalk back and forth. Melanie put her hands in her back pockets and then took them out. Images of Father Chris standing at the pulpit flashed through her mind.  His even tone and conviction in his voice as he read the words of God to everyone gathered before him.

She ran her hands through her hair again and stopped pacing. Child abuse was definitely wrong, and if what he said was true, that woman was a danger to her children, but why not just turn her in. Father Chris could have gone to Sheriff Tom.  She let out a long breath. No, he couldn’t. There was that priest confidentiality thing. He was stuck. Oh, god, Melanie groaned. From where Father Chris stood, he really didn’t have a choice, if he wanted to save those kids.

Melanie knew how destructive child abuse was, not firsthand, her parents had never laid a hand on her or Sam. But Mitchel and Seth knew, and she had seen the wounds and scars on them. Mitchel’s hands and forearms would always bear the pink and white modeled scars from when his father had shoved his hands into scalding water when he was three. Seth bore the marks too, the sleek white line on his shoulder where his father threw a steak knife at him. And Anna, their mother, suffered more than either of boys at Evan’s hands. Bruises on her arms and face were a constant reminder to everyone in the community that Evan was a monster.

Maybe Evan was on Father Chris’s list. Should she keep that from Mitchel, would Mitchel try to stop Father Chris from killing his father, Melanie didn’t know the answers. She wasn’t going to tell Mitchel. She didn’t know what Father Chris was planning, maybe nothing. She ran her hands through her hair again, and massaged her scalp. She didn’t sign up for all this. She needed to clear her head. She walked over to her closet and pulled out her running shoes.

Mitchel was sitting on her front porch, his head in his hands, when she ran up the road finishing her six miles. She slowed to a walk as she came into the driveway.

He looked up. His eyes rimmed in red and his face flushed. He stood. “I’ve been calling you.”

She pulled her phone out. She hadn’t heard it ring. Five missed calls. All Mitchel. “What’s wrong?”

He wrapped his arms around her. His generally sturdy stable body slumped against hers.

“Mitch,” she whispered and rubbed her hands up and down his back.

He buried his face in her neck. “He killed her last night, while I was out with the militia. He beat her to death. Seth found her this morning.” Mitchel’s body shuddered and he began to cry.

Melanie held him tighter. “I’m sorry.”

“They’re looking for him. He’s probably long gone.”

Melanie heard the front door of the house close. Jennifer came and wrapped both of them in her arms. “Sheriff Tom called and wanted to make sure you were with friends.” Tears ran down Jennifer’s cheeks and she rubbed Mitchel’s back. “Come inside. I’ll make you something to eat.”

Mitch stepped back, and nodded wiping his nose down his sleeve. Melanie’s arm pulled him against her as they headed toward the house. “Where’s Seth?”

“I don’t know he took off,” Mitchel said.

“I’ll make up the guest room. I want you and Seth to stay with us,” Jennifer said as Mitchel slipped into a chair at the kitchen table. Melanie poured two cups of coffee setting one before Mitchel.

He stared into the black liquid not blinking. “Thank you.” His voice was quiet and distant.

Melanie looked at her mom.  Her ribs squeezed her heart until it felt like her chest was going to collapse. Images of her mother collapsing to the floor at the front door when Sheriff Tom came to tell them Melanie’s father had been killed in the avalanche waved through her. Her throat closed. She took a slow breath and tried to calm herself down. She had to be here for Mitchel now. He needed her.

Jennifer slid two plates with pancakes, bacon, and eggs onto the table. “Mitchel where would Seth have gone? I’m going to go look for him. He shouldn’t be out there alone.”

Mitchel lifted his head and wiped his nose again. “He’ll be looking for our dad at the bars.”

Jennifer’s eyes grew wide. She grabbed her keys off the counter and stripped her jacket from the chair. “Mel, watch Sam.”

Melanie nodded. The front door slammed and the van started up. The tires squealed as Jennifer took off down the street.

“I shouldn’t have left her alone with him. He was so angry and drunk before I went out last night. I knew he would hurt. I told Seth. I told her to stay away from him and to do whatever he asked.” Mitchel covered his face with his hands and wept. His entire body shook with it. Daisy whimpered at his feet.

Melanie pulled his hands away from his face. She held his face between her hands and looked him in the eyes. “Mitchel, this is not your fault. Your father did this not you. If you had been there, he would have killed you too. You couldn’t have stopped him.”

Not without killing him yourself, Melanie thought. She knew Mitchel thought it too, but either one of the was willing to say it aloud. Neither one of them wanted Mitchel to be a killer.

Mitchel pushed the food around on his plate. He watched the syrup drip from his fork as he held it several inches in the air. Melanie stayed by his side. She didn’t question him. She didn’t try to fill the silence. She knew how it felt when people tried to make it okay, when it wasn’t okay at all.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

invent the wheel

Just about every life path has been walked by someone at some point in time. Of course, some walk the path well while other stumble along and then discover a new route more suited to their character. They may return to finish, or they may follow the new route to its conclusion.

I’m not saying that you can’t put a new spin on how you do something, what I’m getting at is that other people have gone before you. Find them, look at the mistakes and successes they made. Itt will make your journey better.

Mentors act as trusted guides along this journey we call life, where the goal is not to reach the finish line, but to make the most of time we take getting there. Finding a mentor can be a challenge and because we all have different goals and dreams, we may need many mentors. It’s practically a miracle to find someone who has achieved success in all the areas of life that you feel passionate about.

Ideally your mentor will be someone involved in your life, that you have direct access to, because you can ask them face to face (or email) for guidance along the way, and they make goals seem more achievable, more real.

A mentor doesn’t have to be right in front of you. They don’t even have to continue to suck air. They may have lived a hundred years ago. Many times, they don’t even know you think so highly of them and are using their life as an example for your own.

Mentors are a source of inspiration. We all hit roadblocks in our chosen path, and mentors stand out there like a beacon in the night, cheering us on and urging us forward when things become difficult. They are proof that what we desire is achievable, if we want it bad enough.

Being able to look to another and say, “If he/she can do it, so can I,” when taking on difficult goals, whether it be in running, education, or overcoming any other challenge can make the difference in success or failure.


Buckle Down to Buckle Up


Well it’s that time again, time to really buckle down on my training, so I can buckle up in my next 100 mile race. I finished Pony Express 100 in October and have spent the last six weeks reconnecting with friends and enjoying social activities, which interfere with training for ultra-events.

I recently posted this on my Facebook page:

“I’m going to apologize in advance to all my friends and family for being “Lame.” The Ultra Iron Training is now in full swing, which means no more late nights. So, I’m sorry for declining all your invitations on Friday and Saturday nights that go later than 9:00 p.m. Thanks for your understanding. You are all welcome to watch me torture myself at any of my races.”


Participating in sports requires a certain amount of dedication and setting of priorities. Staying up until midnight (or later) on a Friday or Saturday night and then getting up at four in the morning (or earlier) to run twenty miles (or more), eventually results in injury or burnout.

Rest is an essential component of performing at your best. It is just as important as speed work or a long run. Your body has to have time to build and heal from the damage caused by training.

Of course, all work and no play, makes Jack a very dull boy. Balance and understanding is key. Your friends and family have to understand and respect your goals. You have to find balance between your relationships and personal goals.

It is much easier to find this balance when your friends and family have similar goals as you, but even when they don’t there are other ways they can support you and you can make sure that you remain connected with them.

Plan social events earlier in the day, rather than starting the board game party or wine and cheese social at 8:00 pm start it at 5:00 pm or even 4:00. If preparing dinner is the issue of needing to go later, add a potluck to your gathering. If childcare is the issue, everyone can chip in for the cost of a sitter for all the kids.

Learn to love lunch dates, it is much easier for me to get away for lunch with my friends than it is to go out to dinner. Depending on the hours you work, breakfast may be a better choice. Matinee movies/shows are usually less crowded and less expensive.

Encourage others to participate in your training and races. Many races need volunteers or have shorter distances for beginners. You can also get couples massages, which are great for recovery and spending time with one another.

If your goals are important to you, you will buckle down to buckle up, and your friends and family will be there when you finish.


A Vigil for Justice: Episode Twenty


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’s militia team consisted of three men in their late fifties and two women in their early twenties. Richard Stein had not been joking when he said he didn’t have anyone with Melanie’s training and skill. Four of the five, couldn’t weigh more than a hundred pounds soaking wet. The fifth, he would have to be her second in command, was short and stalky. He looked like he could hold his own in a bar fight. She had met the women and one of the scrawny men last night at Richard’s.

Melanie took a deep breath. “I’m Melanie Craig. I’ll be your team leader.” She handed each one of them a radio. “Do you all have a gun in addition to the tazer?”

Five heads bobbed up and down.

“Good. Do you all know how to use them?”

Three heads bobbed up and down, all the men.

“For those of you who do not, I expect you to spend time at the gun range twice a week until you do know how to use them. I don’t want one of us to catch a stray bullet in the unlikely chance that you have to fire your weapon.”

The two women looked at each other and then at Melanie. Both of them had their brown hair pulled back into tight ponytails, and wore t-shirts and jeans.

“Will you come with us?” said the one with ripped up jeans.

“What are your names?”

“I’m Kara and she’s Amber,” said ripped up jeans.

“Kara, I’d be happy to come with you. We’re going to split up into twos and walk the streets, buddy up. I want radio checks with one another every ten minutes. If you see something, radio me and with your location. I’ll call checks to that team every few minutes until it’s clear. If I’m out, Arnold will call checks to my team.”

Everyone turned to face short stalky Arnold, who nodded once. “Gotcha.”


Melanie headed down the street with Kara. The amber glow of street lamps lit sections of the road while plunging other areas into deepening shadows that seemed to crawl alongside the two women. The few cars that had passed them earlier in the night had vanished leaving silence in their wake.

Melanie scanned the shadows as they walked the shoulder of the road. “What made you decide to join the Watch Dogs?”

Kara shrugged her shoulders. “My boyfriend is and he said that I could never do it.”

Melanie raised her eyebrows and pursed her lips. Not the answer she was looking for. “What makes him think that?”

Kara shrugged again. “What about you?”

Melanie slowed and peered down a pitch-black alley. “I couldn’t stand by and do nothing. I have the training to do more.” Her voice dwindled to a whisper, and she held up her hand for Kara to be quiet.

There was something or someone in the alley. Melanie took a few steps passed the alley. “Call out to Arnold, and stay here, I’m going to go check it out.” Melanie drew her 9 mm from its holster under her arm.  She crouched at the corner of the alley, listening.

Kara stepped a few paces away and radioed to Arnold with their location. Kara held up her hand with all her fingers spread. Arnold was five minutes away.

Melanie snapped a glance around the corner. Black shapes moved near the ground at the other end of the alley in front of the dumpster. Melanie took two deep breaths and crept around the corner, gun pointed at the ground. She hugged the wall as she made her way toward whatever was there. Each of her steps where deliberate. Her heart thumped in her ribcage. Sweat dripped down the side of her face. She wouldn’t let go of the gun to wipe it away.

As she neared the black mass, she knew it wasn’t an animal. It was a person. She couldn’t see the face, but it was a male, and he was standing over a body.

Melanie raised her gun to shoulder height. “Don’t move.”

The man turned to her, startled.

“Father Chris?” Melanie sputtered.

He took a step toward her. Both of his empty hands were in front of him palms up. “Ms. Craig. Please.” His voice shook.

Her arms vibrated. “What, what are you doing?”

He took a few more steps toward her.

“Stop Father Chris.”

“Melanie. I don’t harm the innocent.” Another few steps toward her.

Melanie cocked the gun’s hammer back.

He stopped.

“This woman.” He turned back and pointed at the crumpled body on the ground. “She’s a sinner of the worst kind. She beats her children. I’ve seen the bruises on their little bodies. The black marks on their backs and across their faces.” He closes his eyes. Tears roll down his face. “I’m doing God’s work. Melanie.”

Melanie lowered the gun an inch. He took another step toward her. She shook her head, trying to clear it. The muscles of her stomach gripped her ribs, and she brought the gun level. “But Father Chris—”

“Please Melanie don’t tell anyone. Let me leave. Those babies are safe now. The abuse would never have stopped. She would have killed them. I tried to help her. I counseled her. I took the children to give her a break, but always the marks returned.”

“And the others?”

“Not me. I swear it. This is the only one. If there had been another way.” He began to sob into his hands. His shoulders convulsed.

She knew she didn’t have much time before Arnold arrived. She had to make a decision. Father Chris had never lied to her. He was a good man. He kneeled before her and began to pray.

She risked a glance back to the opening of the alley. She couldn’t see anyone. “Go.” Her voice was barely audible, but it was enough.

His eyes bore into hers as he got to his feet. “You are truly one of God’s chosen soldiers Melanie Craig. St. Michael be at your side, always.” He turned and ran disappearing into the darkness.

Bile rose in Melanie’s throat. She fought it back down.


“Melanie?” It was Arnold calling out.

She coughed before answering. “I’m here.” She knelt at the side of the woman and checked for a pulse she knew she wouldn’t find. “Call Sheriff Tom. We’ve got a body.” She stood as Arnold approached.

“Did you see who did it?” he asked.

Melanie shook her head back and forth.

“You cleared the back of the alley?”

“Of course. There is no one.”

Staying Sane

mom pulling hair out

Your kids require you most of all to love them for who they are, not to spend your whole time trying to correct them.

Bill Ayers

In parenting, there is no quitting and failure is not an option. I approach running in a similar fashion. I know it is going to be hard and there are days I wish I could just stay in bed. No one else is going to parent my children and no one else is going to do my run. I do everything I can to make sure I get a good result. I follow my training program. I eat healthy. I avoid over training. I cross train and strength train. Despite all my efforts, it never guarantees I will hit my personal goal. It dramatically increases the possibility of hitting that goal but it doesn’t guarantee it. The thing is, even if I don’t get what I expect out of the run, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a successful run. It can be the most amazing run of my life and I still may not have achieved what I had in mind. Having expectations is a good thing, but letting them go and appreciating the beauty of what you have in your hands is even better. We cannot force our children to be mini-me’s.

Parenting is hard work, taking time to rest and recharge will keep you fresh and responsive to your children. Everyone becomes burned out with running and with parenting, especially if you have children with disabilities or special needs. Sometimes you have to let things go that you are not in a position, physically or mentally, to deal with at that moment. Prioritize your goals with your children. What are the most important things they need to know when they walk out of your house at eighteen? They need to be able to care for themselves, prioritize, take responsibility, regulate their emotions, interact with others in appropriate ways, think through things in a rational way, and have minimal cooking and cleaning skills. Some things are not worth the fight and cause more damage to your relationship with your children.

When things are challenging, go out and do fun and novel activities with your children. This helps build that positive relationship and fills the child with feelings of love and being important even when they are having a difficult go at life or with you. When you have a challenging week of running, you don’t walk away. You go out on your favorite route without a time expectation and find that love of running. When things are hard, those moments of love and joy keep our feet moving forward. Set goals with your children, taking extra care in making them challenging but attainable. You can set all types of goals related to grades, behavior, and extracurricular activities. Goals give them something to work towards, something to look forward to. Goals help them improve. Goals that can be measured are helpful in building self-esteem (feeling good about who they are) and self-confidence (believing they can do things). Accomplished goals, give kids and runners something to hold on to when things are building up to what feels like impossible climbs. They provide motivation to achieve that next level.

Discover and explore together. As runners, we explore all the surrounding areas where we live. We explore trails and new neighborhoods. We explore our thoughts and emotions. We discover new things about ourselves around each turn. We discover new strengths and facets of who we are. Children and many adults talk and relax while in motion. Talk with them about what is around them and what is going on inside while you hike through mountains or traverse a new street.

You cannot be a competent parent if you don’t take care of your own needs. Just look at what happens when you are tired or hungry. I know if I’m tired or hungry I’m short with others and don’t want to listen. Everyone gets overwhelmed and needs a break from their kids. Take time for yourself and go for your run, go see a friend, or go on a date. When you come back, you will be able to deal with whatever crazy stunt your kids did while you were gone.

Take a few minutes and just watch your children play. Enjoy them as they grow and discover the world. Even with older children, it is so wonderful to watch them bust out of their shells and let loose with their friends when they think you are not watching or listening.