A Vigil for Justice: Episode Twenty-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.

Karalynn and a man dressed in black cargo pants got into the van with Jennifer after a brief reunion. They drove two blocks and then stopped again. Karalynn jumped out and ran to a key pad on a massive iron gate that spanned the road. Melanie looked at Mitchel and raised her eyebrows as the gate opened. Mitchel gave her a tight-lipped smile. He drove down the long driveway behind Jennifer’s van. A large farmhouse with a wraparound porch at the end was blacked out, no lights. A white picket fence surrounded the home and property. Two horses stood silent in the pasture to the south.

When they came to a stop, three men in black cargo pants stepped out of the shadows. The man who had gotten in the van with Jennifer jumped out and approached the three. One of them came toward Mitchel’s window the other two made their way toward the two vehicles following them.

Mitchel rolled the window down.

“Welcome to the Christopoulos home. One second while we check the perimeter.”

Mitchel nodded. His expression serious.

Five minutes later, they all sat around the heavy oak kitchen table at Karalynn’s spare folding chairs had been brought in from the garage. The tile floor was a mosaic of lime green and lemon yellow. Sky blue curtains framed the windows, which had fitted boards in them blocking anyone from peering inside.

“Are the security guards really necessary?” Jennifer asked, cocking her head to the side and raising her eyebrows.

Karalynn pressed her thin lips tightly between her teeth and nodded her head. She was a small athletic looking woman of forty. Her husband, Galen, brushed a stray strand of her shoulder-length black hair from her face and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.

“Unfortunately, they became necessary shortly after J-day. We didn’t want to believe it either, but when an AK47 became as prevalent as a woman’s handbag, there was no way I was sending my children to school or my wife to the store without a trained entourage,” Galen said.

Galen and Karalynn met when Jennifer and Karalynn had gone to Greece for spring break in their freshman year of college. They returned every year after that and on their last trip, Galen proposed to Karalynn. They have been inseparable since then.

Karalynn leaned against Galen’s sturdy form. “The neighborhood pooled money to have the iron gate installed and all the men take turns on the night guard.”

“People are shot in the streets daily, women, children, and elderly. It doesn’t matter. I don’t think the local officers can even keep track of who is shooting who, even with the SAFE chips and Homeland Security chasing down the Scrubs,” Galen said.

“There are Scrubs here?” Seth asked. Melanie had forgotten he was here until then. He had been standing behind her and Mitchel, but stepped forward now.

Galen nodded. “They come in two types here. Most are just what remains of the hippy movement they just want to live off the grid and then there are the hunters.”

“The hunters?” Seth asked.

“The ones who are out there killing just to kill. They psychologist on the news the other night said they get some thrill out of killing in broad daylight, the shock and horror of spectators feeds their sickness,” Galen said.

“How does Homeland know the difference?” Mitchel asked.

Galen shrugged. “They don’t.”

“Why do you stay here?” Melanie asked. “If it’s so dangerous?”

“We will be moving to Greece permanently as soon as our passports are renewed. As you can imagine, they are taking longer than usual now,” Galen said.

“Oh, I’ll bet,” Richard said. “Especially when folks began to realize that vigilante justice was not all it’s cracked up to be.” He shook his head and drained the rest of his beer.

Melanie looked down at the hot chocolate in her violet mug. A couple of crunchy marshmallows remained afloat. She poked at them with her finger.

Melanie’s eyes pled with her mother. “How long are we going to be here?” she asked, not wanting to sound rude, but growing anxious with the amount of daylight violence in the bigger city. She had known it was going to be worse here. The violence has increased ever since the war and it was actually the inciting reason that the Justice Law was passed. This whole time somewhere inside her childish mind she had made herself believe that it wasn’t as bad as the television reports had made it seem. But it was.

Jennifer’s expression softened. “Not long, a few days perhaps. We need to plan our route, gather supplies, and probably less a vehicle or two?”

She looked back and forth between Mitchel and Seth, neither of who would look at her. Mitchel stared into his own hot chocolate. Seth cleaned his the grime from under his fingernails.

Melanie, Jennifer, and Sam shared the guest room with a king size bed. Melanie watched as her mother got Sam ready for bed as if nothing had changed. Jennifer put Sam in the bath and sang while she washed her hair, just like at home. Then she brushed out Sam’s long hair, read her chapter from Black Beauty, and tucked her into the bed they were all sharing. Sam was in the middle and Daisy turned in circles at their feet until she found just the right position and collapsed.

Seth and Mitchel were in the second guest room. Holly and her family decided to stay in their trailer, despite there being plenty of space for them in the house. Richard had mumbled something about liking to know where all the exits and entrances were.

Melanie stared at the white ceiling. Her eyes followed the ridges that resembled the parched earth of a desert.

Rising Sun

Pony Express 100 2014 002

Nearly all of my runs start before the sun has begun to brighten the sky. As the fingers of pink, yellow, and orange stretch into the spreading pale blue, my spirits rise. It doesn’t matter if I’m at mile 3 or mile 93 the rise of the sun always brings hope and joy.

Some of this is due to the rise in serotonin levels in the brain. But I also think that it is tied to instinctual knowledge that has been ingrained in all life since the beginning of time. The world becomes cold and dark and then it becomes bright and warm.

This cycle is just a part of life and a part of every run. There are miles of darkness and miles of brightness. There are many causes of this up and down swing during running, sugar depletion, mental doubt, and aches and pains. You can get through this by remembering that it always comes back up. Give it a few miles, the sun will once again rise.

Our training goes through cycles too. We deliberately put ups and downs in our training programs to allow for recovery and building. There are weeks were we are just beat and our times are all off, and then there are weeks where we crush every obstacle that dares to attempt to block our path.

All of the runners I coach, come to me at some point disappointed in their times or telling me how they struggled through a run which is normally very easy for them. I remind them that it can’t be sunny all the time and it can’t be dark all the time. It will come back up, just stay focused on the training taking it one day at a time.


To my Writer followers

self pub

This is an exceptional resource for self-publishing authors. The internet is overloaded with information about self-publishing. As a first time author, it’s difficult to know where to turn to figure out this once “secretive” business of publishing. Joel and Betty’s book, The Self Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide, is exactly what its title proclaims it to be. You will find hundreds of options to assist you from concept all the way to self-published book. The resources are listed as you would need them in the creation process, beginning with developing and editing your manuscript and concluding with promotion of your finished novel. Each resource includes a brief description of the types of manuscripts they have experience with or their area of expertise, thus making it easier to find what you are looking for as an author.

Hurt vs. Injured

injured runner

Distance running hurts. I’m not going to lie, sugarcoat it, or decorate it with balloons. It is just part of running a half marathon or farther. Of course, some people are more conditioned and it takes longer for them to hurt, but if they run far enough they all begin to hurt too.

Feet start to ache, you can feel every grove in the road, and every tiny pebble is like a two-inch nail piercing the bottom of your foot.

Ankles protest at the angle of the trail or the road as they lean from side to side.

Hamstrings and glutes scream as you push up another hill, flashing with heat and squeezing with vengeance.

Aches and pains come and stay with you for a mile and then they melt away, sometimes they come back sometimes they don’t.

Hurting is a part of the experience and as a distance runner you have to be able to work through it to keep going. Injury is a completely different ball game. I’m not referring to delayed onset muscle soreness, which we all experience when we push our muscles to new levels.

Wait, what?

Hurting and injury are different. You push through the hurt. You rest and recover for an injury.

I wish I could say that telling the difference between being hurt and being injured was always cut and dry, but it’s not.

Injury is marked by sharp pain in a centralized location, which may radiate, but has a definite starting point. Injury pain does not go away as you run either, in fact, many times it gets worse as you run. Injury pain also continues into the next day and longer. Many times it is worse in the morning and then decreases through the day. You can tie an injury to a specific moment in a run or a twist of an ankle, fall, or whatever.

Injury will alter your gait and potentially cause additional problems. Continuing to run on an injury will make things worse and lead to a chronic problem such as tendonitis. If you run while injured, it hurts as soon as you start.

Injury requires RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Hurting is more of an ache or bruised feeling. You can’t point to a particular spot that hurts because it’s the whole muscle or area. It lasts a day or two, but diminishes and then goes away. If you take one day between runs, it is very minimal on your next run or gone entirely. Sometimes, it will linger as a heavy or tired feeling.

Know your body and listen to it. Push through the hurt, but always rest an injury. This will keeping running for many more happy miles.


A Vigil for Justice: Episode Twenty-Six


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.

“I’m going to get your mom and Seth,” Mitchel said.

Melanie nodded her head, but didn’t turn to face him as she climbed the three steps into the fifth-wheel. Holly’s arms flew around Melanie. She returned the strangle hold. Her eyes drifted around the space, they were now calling home. Pale peach counter tops and walnut colored cupboards. Matching pillows sat in the corner of the square navy couch cushions.

“Why…” Melanie began.

“Let’s wait for everyone,” Richard said, sitting down next to his wife on the couch.

Finally, Holly released her, and Melanie nearly fell over with the sudden freedom. She took a few more steps into the room and sat in the recliner. She couldn’t believe they were leaving Blue River to come with her. They had everything they needed in Blue River. Mr. Stein had the militia all organized and patrolling the streets. What did he think was going to happen there? Who had he left in charge? Melanie realized she must look crazy staring off into space. She shook her head.

A knock came at the door.

Jennifer, Sam, Seth, and Mitchel came into the trailer.

Having eight people in the trailer was making Melanie feel just a little crowded. She combed her fingers through her hair. Jennifer slid into the horseshoe shaped booth. Sam and Seth slid in beside her.

Holly’s mom, Pauline, pulled out a package of Oreos and a bowl of fruit.

“Drinks?” she asked reaching into another cupboard for red plastic cups and small paper bowls.

“Scotch,” Melanie said and smiled as she rocked in the recliner.

“Ooo, me too,” said Holly, bouncing on the balls of her feet and grinning ear to ear.

Richard rolled his eyes and passed each of them a cup of ice water.

Sam tickled the fringe of the Oreo package and Jennifer nodded her head.

“Do you have any milk?” asked Sam.

“Yes I do,” said Pauline, opening the full size refrigerator. She poured the milk and set the cup in front of Sam.

Seth grabbed a few Oreos.

Sam pushed her milk over toward him. “We can share if you want.”

“I double dip,” he said cracking a smile and popping an entire cookie into his mouth.

Sam scrunched up her face. “Gross.” She slid her milk out of his reach and scooted closer to Jennifer.

Richard set his hat on his knee. “I’m sure you are wondering why we decided to leave.” He brushed the brim of the hat. “After the little demonstration on your front lawn, I realized that no matter what I did, I can’t talk reason into a bunch of frightened people. Living surrounded by frightened people who have guns, is not a risk I am willing to take with my family.”

Everyone was quiet for a full minute. Melanie had seen the fear on many people’s faces in Blue River. Of course they were all afraid, and it wouldn’t be different anywhere else, he had to understand that, which meant the Stein’s were going to the safe zone too.

“Jennifer—”  he began again, his eyes meeting Melanie’s mom’s.

Jennifer held up her hand. “We’re in this together Richard. Holly and Melanie have been best friends for years. I would be glad to have your family along for this trip.”

He smiled and put his hat back on his full head of dark close-cropped hair. “In that case, let’s get this pony show on the road.”

Melanie didn’t understand her mom’s quick judgment of others. Two weeks ago, her mother wouldn’t be caught dead holding a civil conversation with Richard Stein and now, he is bringing up the rear of their caravan. His willingness to let go of everything Jennifer had done to make his life a living hell over the last month didn’t surprise Melanie at all. He had always been quick to forgive Holly for her silly impulsive behavior.

“Know when to hold ‘em and when to let ‘em go.” He had told her once when she was pouting about something Holly had done. She didn’t even remember what she was angry at Holly about anymore, but she remembered that.

They all piled out of the fifth-wheel and into their own cars. Richard pulled out in front to set the pace, since he was the slowest pulling the trailer full of water. Jennifer was right behind him, then Seth, and then Melanie and Mitchel.

Melanie stroked Daisy’s silky black head. “Do you think we will ever be able to look at others without wondering if they have what it takes to kill us or those we love?”

When Mitchel didn’t answer, she moved her eyes to his face. Wrinkles creased his brow, as if he were deep in thought.

“What?” she asked.


“Don’t do that, don’t shut me out. What were you thinking about?”

He threw her a glance. “I’ve spent my entire life wondering when my father would kill me, Seth, or my mom. I’ve always looked at people through those eyes.”

It was dark when they reached Denver, around ten. Men clad in black from head to foot and carrying automatic rifles across their backs and in their hands strolled along the streets. They turned their piercing gaze to the line of vehicles rolling down the street. Daisy’s chest rumbled with a deep growl. The glass of ground floor windows in many of the buildings had been shattered. The headlights of their caravan caused the pieces of glass littering the ground to twinkle like fallen stars. Round and lumpy black and white garbage bags stood watch along the streets.

Jennifer had taken the lead position since she was the only one who knew where to go. Melanie pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed her mom’s number. Mitchel glanced over at her. Yellow light washed through the truck as they drove under the street lamps that were still working. She pressed the phone to her head.

“Mom, don’t slow down in the city. You know where you are going, right?”

“It’s been awhile, but I remember.” Jennifer’s voice vibrated.

“O.K. just go straight there. If the intersections are clear, I want you to go straight through don’t stop for red lights or stop signs.”

Jennifer was quiet.

They should have loaded everything into the trailer and made Sam and Jennifer ride with Richard. Melanie ground her teeth together.  They were coming to an intersection with a traffic light. Melanie watched the brake lights flicker on and off on her mom’s van as she began to slow. The intersection was empty.

“Mom. Don’t stop.”

The van began to sped back up and Jennifer went through the red light. Mitchel, Seth, and Richard all followed in the same fashion.

They went through a few more intersections and then pulled off the main road and began winding through the neighborhoods. Melanie relaxed and hung up the phone with her mom.

“We’re almost there she said. Karalynn’s house is about ten more minutes and it’s all neighborhoods,” Melanie said. Mitchel patted her thigh and pressed his lips into a thin smile. “It’ll be better during the day.”

The red glow of brake lights caused Mitchel to turn his attention back forward.

A group of people stood in the middle of the street, mostly men with rifles. Two cars parked on opposite sides of the road had floodlights illuminating the group. A tall man held up his hand and stepped forward.

Jennifer slowed down. Melanie’s stomach clenched. There was no way her mom would plow through a whole group of people.

Melanie pulled her 9 mm out of the holster under her arm. “Roll down the window, so we can hear.”

“Where are you headed?” the man called out. He had lowered the rifle and came to a stop about ten feet from the front of the van.

Mitchel brought the truck to a stop at a slight angle to the van. He reached under his seat, pulled out his gun, and checked that the magazine was in place. He slid a spare between his legs. Daisy sat up and looked around yawning.
“We are staying with friends who live down the street, Karalynn Hanson,” Jennifer called out the window.

The man lowered his rifle. “Jennifer Craig?” a woman’s voice came from the group. They moved aside and a small woman in sweats came jogging forward.

Jennifer opened the door of the van and got out running into the arms of her longtime friend.

The Curse of the Over Trained


If you are overtraining, you will feel tired, your legs feel like lead, you will not recover in the same amount of time as you usually do, and your friends and family will think you are grouchy. A solid way to determine if you have recovered from your previous day’s workout is to check your resting heart rate. First, you have to know what your resting heart rate is. You should take your pulse when you first get up in the morning before you have moved around. It is best if you can just wake up naturally (without the alarm) and count your heart rate for 30 seconds and times by two. That is your resting heart rate. If you get up in the morning and your heart rate is elevated, your body has not recovered and you should take a rest day or take it easy. Most runners run four to five days a week and take one day a week as full rest. The days you do not run, you can do some other form of exercise or nothing at all.

The golden rule for increasing miles is the 10% a week rule. If you follow this rule, you reduce your risk of injury and overtraining. Never increase your total miles by more than ten percent a week. So, if you are running three days a week and you want to add a fourth day you have two options. You can decrease your runs on the other three days and add the fourth day with the extra 10%. As an example, say you run three miles Monday, four miles Wednesday, and 3 miles on Friday. You want to add Saturday. Your total for the week is ten miles. One mile is 10%. You could safely run two and a half Monday, three Wednesday, two and a half Friday, and three on Saturday. The next week you could do three miles on all four days.  The other option would be to just start to build the Saturday using the 10%.

Coupled with the golden 10% rule is a 20% decrease rule, which should occur every four weeks allowing your body to rest and rebuild. When you run, you cause micro tears in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of your legs. This is a good thing overall because it allows you to build and get stronger. However, if you don’t rest every so often then your body does not have a chance to build and will continue to break down. Every fourth week reduce your miles by 20% to allow your body to rest. You should also be taking at least one full day of rest every week for the same reasons. If you don’t rest, you will end up injured and forced to rest. It is a million times easier to take a day off a week and reduce your miles every fourth week, than to miss a race because you pushed it too far.

Frosty the Runner-Man

winter running

The cold and snow makes running outside less appealing to many runners. The mountain trails are covered with snow and hidden ice until the spring making trail running more dangerous and nearly impossible. Main roads leaden with heavy traffic are colder than the cozy inner neighborhood streets. The wind whips through the wider streets biting at any part of your body not covered. Neighborhoods with heated homes and narrow streets wrap you in their warmth. When the temperatures are really low and it is just too risky to be out there for a twenty-mile run, think about breaking up your run. Go out for ten miles in the morning and then ten more at lunch before you have enough time to totally recover. Try to keep less than eight hours between the two runs. You may have a little extra laundry or need two showers but that is better than frostbite to the ears, nose, fingers, or toes. You can start outdoors for ten miles and then move to a treadmill or indoor track.

Runners need to be aware of the dangers of frostnip and frostbite when running outdoors for longer distances in the winter months. Exposure to cold temperatures for a long time or a short time if the temperatures are very cold may cause these conditions. Frostnip is causes white patches of numb skin. Frostnip does not lead to permanent damage but frostbite can. Frostbite causes the skin to become white or grayish-yellow and it feels hard, waxy, or numb or is blistering. It can also become darkened or black. Some other symptoms include swelling, itching burning, and deep pain during the rewarming/healing process. Wet (i.e. sweaty) clothing, not enough clothing, and high winds increase your chances of getting frostnip and bite. Warm the area affected using warm water not hot water. Do not rub or massage frostbitten skin, it could damage it more. Don’t break the blisters. If you have frostbite, you need to seek medical attention.

Being a little cold on a run is not usually a bad thing and can actually help with holding a faster pace. But hypothermia is definitely too cold. Hypothermia is when your core body temperature drops too low to maintain normal body function. Exposure to cold air, water, wind, or rain also causes hypothermia. Having a soaked base layer combined with a decrease in your core temperature, from slowing or stopping, can cause hypothermia if you don’t start moving again soon. Symptoms of mild hypothermia include shivering, cold, pale, or blue-gray skin, lack of interest or concern, poor judgment, mild unsteadiness in balance or walking, slurred speech, numb hands and finger problems, such as zipping zippers and tying shoes. More severe symptoms include muscles becoming stiff, slow pulse, shallow slow breathing, weakness, or sleepiness, confusion, loss of consciousness and shivering which may stop if the body temperature drops below 90 degrees. A runner with hypothermia needs to get warm quick. Hypothermia is a serious condition and can be life threatening.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode 25


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.

“We’re going to Karalynn’s in Denver,” Jennifer said as they went over the final checklist before they left Blue River. Jennifer, Melanie, Mitchel and Seth stood in a circle in the front yard of Craig home.

A Red-naped Sap Sucker tapped its beak on the bark of a nearby tree.  Melanie glanced up searching for the woodpecker among the branches over her head.

“We’ll just follow you,” Mitchel said.

“Melanie, what am I forgetting,” Jennifer asked.

Melanie looked down at the list in her hand. “Power is off, water is off, mail has been forwarded to Denver. I think we are good, mom.”

The bird continued to tap.

The insurance money from her father’s death had paid off all their bills including the house.

Jennifer took the list and looked at it for a few seconds then looked at the three who stood before her. “I think we are ready. You’re taking Daisy with you and Mitchel in the truck?”

“Yes,” Melanie drew out the word. Her mom was just being overly cautious.  “I don’t think Austin will approve of Daisy poking at him while he’s in his kennel.”

Just then, Sam came bouncing out of the front door with the small kennel swinging at her side. Everyone turned toward her a terrified yowling came from the kennel.

Jennifer marched toward her youngest daughter. “Sam, hold that cat steady. Can’t you hear him crying?”

Melanie looked up at the house. They were leaving everything they had built. They were only taking what was necessary. Its red door, big porch, and all the memories of her father. She took a deep breath of the warm mountain air. She hoped that one day they would be able to come back. No, she would return. Someday, this would be home again. She had to believe that, the thought of leaving forever made her breath catch and her chest collapse in on her heart.

“Come on Daisy,” Melanie called out and opened the door to Mitchel’s truck.

Daisy’s huge black form came bounding around the corner of the house, tongue hanging from her smiling jowls. Her bright brown eyes excited for whatever was to come. Melanie wished she shared Daisy’s enthusiasm. Daisy jumped into the truck. Seth would follow behind them in his car. Mitchel had tried to convince him to leave the car and ride with them to save on fuel costs, but Seth insisted on having his own ride.

Their small caravan wound through the streets of the small town and out onto the highway. Both she and Mitchel were quiet as they drifted away from Blue River. Melanie picked up her phone and dialed her mom.

“Can we stop for coffee in Breck one last time?”

“Of course,” Jennifer said.

Her mother’s voice brushed the hair from Melanie’s face and lifted her chin. She hung up the phone. Mitchel patted her thigh. She laid her hand on top of his. Daisy curled into a ball between them.

They pulled into the coffee shop parking lot and Melanie ran inside with everyone’s order jostling around in her head. The familiar fresh ground coffee filled her nostrils and made them flare. The girl at the counter was new. Probably, her replacement.

Suzanne, her old boss, stepped out of the back drying her hands on her black apron. “Leaving town today?”

Melanie pursed her lips and nodded. She moved her arm over the SAFE scanner to pay for the coffee and hot chocolate. The noise from the steamer rose to a high pitch.

“You heard from Holly?” Suzanne asked.

“No, why?”

“She didn’t show for her shift this morning again.”

Holly had no showed her shift at least once a week. It was a wonder Suzanne hadn’t fired her. Holly had only started working at the coffee shop a few weeks ago, right before school let out. She wanted something to do through the summer.

“Sorry,” Melanie said picking up the drink tray. Melanie had convinced Suzanne to hire Holly and it had been Melanie who had covered the missed shifts.

Suzanne let out a long sigh and came around the counter. She stretched out her arms and Melanie set the drinks back down. She gave Suzanne a hug.

“Good luck, Melanie. You’re a hard worker. I wish you and your family the best.”

“Thanks.” Melanie tried to give her a hopeful smile. Suzanne’s smile was sad.

Melanie rushed out the door. She didn’t like goodbyes.

She took Seth his coffee. He turned down his hard rock music as she approached.

“Thanks, Mel. Great idea stopping,” he said, smiling up at her.

She stopped at the window of the van and handed her mom the two hot chocolates and then slid into the truck handing Mitchel his coffee.

“I was about to come in after you,” he smiled at her.

“Holly didn’t show up for her shift again.”

Mitchel pressed his lips between his teeth trying to hide a knowing smile. He nodded his head and they followed Jennifer’s van out of the parking lot.

She wrapped her hands around the thick cardboard cup letting the warmth sink into them. She took a sip and savored the sweet and bitterness of the mocha. She would be back, she thought.

About ten minutes out of Breckenridge, Melanie noticed a big black Dodge truck with a fifth wheel trailer parked in a rest area.

Melanie squinted her eyes. “Why…”

“What?” Mitchel asked.

“Pull over next to that trailer.” Melanie reached over and honked the horn to get her mother’s attention and Mitchell pulled into the rest area. Seth was right behind them.

The van was already past the entrance of the rest area, but pulled to the side of the road near the exit.

Melanie jumped out of the truck as soon as it stopped and ran over to the fifth wheel. She was knocking on the door when Mitchel reached her.

The door swung out forcing Melanie to step back a few paces.

Holly stood smiling in the doorway. Her fiery curls framing her face. “We’re coming with.”

Richard Stein towered behind his daughter. He tipped his black cowboy hat and smiled. “Ms. Craig. I knew you’d spot us here.”

Training Season has begun: How to get started

marathon starting

Have you chosen which races you are going to run for the year?

January is the perfect time to start looking at the race schedule and deciding which races you want to conquer for 2015. For those in the northern hemisphere it is cold and dreary outside, having something to look forward to can keep your spirits up when many are fighting seasonal depression.

If you are planning to run a spring marathon say in April or May, your training starts during January. Marathon training programs are sixteen to twenty weeks long. The length depends upon the experience and fitness of the runner.

My runners who are going from couch to marathon get my twenty-week training program and my recommended goal is to just finish the race without injury.

My runners who are active will get the sixteen week program which I adjust depending on their running experience and goals.

There are many free training programs on the internet, but before you decide which one is right for you, you need to be completely honest with yourself about your current fitness level.

If you are not active, but have decided that 2015 is the year of the marathon, pick a fall marathon so you have enough time to build your miles and fitness without being injured. If you are hell bent on running a spring marathon to commemorate something, find a run/walk program and set your goal to finish the race before the course is closed. Twenty-six point two miles is no joke, even if it takes you six hours to finish.

If you are someone who is active, but are injury prone or who doesn’t do any impact sports/activities, you should consider a less strenuous program. Look for something that starts with low miles 2-3 during week one and has only two quality workouts (speed and long run) a week or even better on a ten day rotation.

If you have done marathons before and really want to bring your time down, you should pick up a sixteen week program with up to three quality runs in a week to ten day cycle, but listen to your body and don’t over train.

You cannot cheat the marathon.

The 5k, 10k, even a half marathon you can get through if you do “most” of your training. The marathon is different. If you don’t do the training, you will not finish the race in a good place physically.

I have a marathon training program on my pages Here. It is for runners who have been running about twenty miles a week as a base.

I am more than happy to post something for beginning runners and or injury prone runners. Just leave me a message in the comments or email me at Nicole@ultrarunningmom.com I’d be happy to send you something.

Air Pollution


Aerobic activity is healthy and everyone should be doing it a few times a week, but what about all the air pollution? Running in air pollution has the potential to cause serious health issues.

I am fortunate to live in an area where the air pollution is generally low enough that there are minimal risks when running out doors. In the winter months, that changes. I live in a valley and the cold air traps the pollution down in the valley as shown in the picture above. Yuck!

I can see it in the air, a brownish yellow fog. I can smell it in the air, exhaust and dirt. I can feel it when I breathe, thick and irritating.

I cough up mucus. My nose is congested. My throat is sore.

Pollution consists of both fine particulate matter and ozone gases. Both are bad, but the particulate matter causes major problems because it settles in your lungs causing inflammation and irritation. It can also get into your bloodstream. When it gets into your blood vessels, it causes them to dilate blocking oxygen and blood from reaching your muscles. It also lowers your body’s ability to create a protein, which breaks up clots.

But what about running?

When you run you inhale more air, ten to twenty times as much air, and you pull it deep into your lungs. If you are breathing through your mouth, the air bypasses the natural filter of your nose. Which means, all that thick yellow fog is making itself at home in your lungs.

Those with asthma, diabetes, heart or lung conditions, or lower respiratory disease should avoid being out in the pollution and definitely should not be out exercising in it.

For the rest of us who are relatively healthy, you should think twice. Running in the pollution especially long runs, which put you out in the yellow fog for hours at a time, is probably not a good idea. It can damage your airways and increase your risk of developing asthma. Oh and there is the chance that it will increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease(heart attacks) and lung cancer too.

Experts in the air pollution area say don’t give up on exercising outdoors because the benefits to exercise outweigh the damage especially if you take some precautions.

So what do you do?

Monitor the air quality in your area. The internet is the best way to do this. Most areas have a website dedicated to reporting air quality and keep it updated by the hour.

Run indoors on a track or treadmill. I know it is not the most fun, but it’s better than cancer. On Sunday, I ran my second long run on the treadmill.

Run where the air is safe to breathe deeply. On Saturday, I went to a higher mountain valley to run where the air is clear. It was slightly colder than where I live, but at least I could breathe.

Reduce the time you are out there. If you must run outside, shorten your run and try to time it for when the pollution is at its lowest if possible.

Stay away from major roadways.

Take an extra rest day and hope it clears up the next day.

Happy Running!