A Vigil for Justice: Episode Fifty-One


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.

“The parts for the van should arrive tomorrow morning. Mitchel and I can get it put back together by early evening and you can be on your way,” Zachariah said.

Seth didn’t return until after dinner. Daisy’s barking alerted them to his arrival. He came in with grocery sacks of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate.

“Who wants some s’mores?”

Sam was on her feet bouncing like thumper grabbing at the sacks. “Me, me, me!”

Zachariah started the fire, while Melanie and Mitchel set up chairs around the fire pit. Seth, Jennifer and Sam were search the ground for roasting sticks.

“Is this one good?” Sam asked Seth. Holding up a wiry stick about eighteen inches long.

“It needs to be a little thicker and longer. I don’t want you to get burned.” He mussed her hair.

Zachariah told old Navajo stories while they licked melted marshmallow and chocolate from their fingers. It was full dark when they finally shuffled sleepily into the cabin.

Melanie couldn’t sleep. She was excited to get on the move again. It would only take a few days for them to arrive at the safe zone. Three at most, by her calculation, especially with all the hamsters running in the van’s engine. She smiled at the image. She’d have to tell Sam about that one.

Daisy whined. Melanie had forgotten to let her out to potty before they had turned out the light. She carefully slipped from beneath Mitchel’s arm. He rolled over. She stood still making sure he was asleep before opening the cabin door.

The new moon and lack of city lights threw extra stars into the sky. She tried to find the constellations she could remember from school. Orion,

She smelled the cigarette and turned in a slow circle seeking its orange burn.

Ryan’s voice came out of the dark. “Daisy need to pee?”

She walked toward him. “I forgot to let her out before we went in.”

He blew smoke out of his nose and looked up at the stars. “On the reservation, before we moved here, every night looked like that. I didn’t realize how much I missed it, until it reappeared after the riots and all the power outages.”

“I didn’t know you smoked.”

“I don’t.”

“Another stressful day?”

“Another body. This one was done in broad daylight. Butcher is getting bold or reckless. I’m not sure which. Never seen anything like it.”

“I have.” Melanie’s eyes fell. She kicked at the dirt and then scraped it back into a pile with the side of her foot.

He turned to her letting the smoke slowly drift out of his mouth of its own accord.

She looked back up at the stars. “In Blue River, the stars looked like that every night, before and after the Justice Law passed. But after it passed, I saw it a lot more. I was in the militia and we patrolled the streets every night. One night, I found our pastor over the body of a woman. She was dead.”

Melanie turned to face Ryan. “He said he was doing god’s work by killing sinners.” She peered into the darkness looking for Daisy. She took a few steps toward where Daisy was sniffing in the long grass.

Ryan followed her, but said nothing. He just waited for her to continue.

She ran her fingers through her long hair. “After leaving Blue River, we went to Denver and my mother was shot in the stomach. She was in the hospital for two weeks. I stayed with her day and night. One night when I was walking the halls while my mother slept, I saw a doctor speaking to a man with a terminal disease. She injected something and he died. She said she was helping them so they didn’t have to suffer as her husband had suffered during his last days.”

She took a deep breath and let it out through her nose. “How dedicated are you to serving your purpose, Detective?”

He dropped the butt of the cigarette and pressed it into the dirt with the toe of his black steel-toed boots. Daisy had wandered over to them. Wagging her nub, she scratched at his boot to get what he had dropped. He bent to pick it up. When he rose, his eyes met Melanie’s.

She cocked her head to the side.

The muscles in his jaw bulged as he pressed his teeth together.

She knew the answer. She had seen the distant gaze she had seen in the eyes of the others. The constant questioning of whether what they were doing was truly serving their ideal. Their answer was always the same, yes, because if their answer were no, their resolve would falter and their heart and soul would sink into an abyss.

He nodded and sighed. “I don’t understand what this has to do with the butcher?”

“When you find him, will you kill him?”



I know I have harped on overtraining before, but I’m going to do it again because the runners prone to doing it, and tend to be the runners who have a difficult time taking it to heart and hearing the wisdom behind the advice.

I’ll make this seriously simple. Here is the bottom line, overtraining causes injuries and is the fastest way to put a stop to your running for three to six months.

That is all.


Active Rest

active rest

I can’t sleep, I bounce around, and am scattered when I don’t do something to burn off the extra energy. Do I really have to sit on my ass and do nothing on my rest days? We all know that feeling of electricity beneath our skin when we taper for a race. Some of us “suffer” with the same energy even on rest days.

So what do you do? Active rest is the answer to your woes. Engage in something other than running. The idea is to use supporting muscles or opposing muscles when implementing active rest. This will get you the most bang for your buck and allow your running muscles to rest.

Cycling, swimming, and yoga are all good choices for opposing muscles while team sports such as basketball, football, and kickball will rely on those supporting muscles. This will also open your social circle. There is research that suggests basketball actually is the best activity for increasing bone density.

Having strong opposing muscles prevents injury because your big strong running muscles do not overpower them and it prevents overuse of the running muscles. Strong supporting muscles also prevents injury because you are able to recruit them when the primary muscles become tired and when you are on uneven or technical terrain.

Including other activities in your life will help prevent boredom and burnout.

When you are using active rest, be mindful of your overall fatigue. Some days you just have to sit on your ass and do nothing because that is what your body needs even when your mind says go, go, go.

So don’t be afraid to get out there and expand beyond running. It will make you a stronger runner both physically and mentally. The same applies to cycling and swimming, really any primary sport.



A Vigil for Justice: Episode Fifty


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.

She realized then how little she knew of Mitchel’s childhood. Seth talked about it more than Mitchel did. Mitchel usually walked away whenever Seth brought something up or asked Mitchel directly about it. He wanted to forget, she knew. It was why he didn’t miss Blue River. When he left Blue River, he hadn’t looked back. He was glad to never see it again. For him, it held only death, hatred, and horror.

Melanie had taken an advanced placement psychology class and she knew that being raised in a home like Seth and Mitchel had been raised did things to a child’s developing brain. It laid the foundation for them to become horrible people, but that’s not what they were. Both of them were caring and dedicated to their family.

The door to the cabin banged open behind Melanie. Sam darted out into the sun with Daisy on her tail. “Come on Beauty let’s run!”

Melanie watched her little sister run and run with Daisy chasing her. It was their favorite game.

“She’s such a great kid with a good life, Right Mitch?” Seth said leaning against the doorframe.

Mitchel looked from Seth to the laughing and skipping little girl, but said nothing.

Seth pushed himself off the doorframe. “You two need some privacy in the cabin?” He grinned and arched his eyebrows.

Melanie rolled her eyes. “You know our relationship isn’t like that,” she said emphasizing the last word and arching her own eyebrows.

“It’s a shame really, maybe Mitchel would loosen up if it were like that.” He laid a consoling hand on Mitchel’s shoulder.

Mitchel pushed his hand away. “I think you’re relaxed enough for the both of us.”

Seth laughed, not as if his twin’s words were amusing but ironic. Seth smiled. “Yeah, spending time with little Sammy adds a little brightness to the shadows that hang over my thoughts. You should give it a try if you’re not going to add in other physical activities to take the stress off.” Another smile, wider this time.

Mitchel glowered at his brother.

Seth slid his hands into his front pockets and kicked a rock across the dirt driveway.

Melanie watched him walk away.

Seth turned back to them when he was nearing his car. “You guys are boring. I’m going into town today. Do you need anything? Like a box of condoms? Oh wait—”

Seth’s eyes grew wide along with his stance and Mitchel’s shoulder slammed into him. They both went down sending up tufts of dirt as they wrestled flipping one another over.

Daisy started barking and growling protectively at Sam’s side.

And then the punches started.

“Stop it!” Melanie screamed.

Sam started crying. “Mom! Mom!”

Jennifer and Zachariah came running from the garage.

Jennifer reached them first, but not wanting to get hurt by two full-grown men fighting, she stood back. “Mitchel and Seth, you knock it off right now!”

Jennifer pulled Sam to her who buried her face into her mother.

“Do you hear me?” Jennifer yelled in her mom voice.

Zachariah had reached them. He didn’t hesitate before jumping in the thick of it. He caught an elbow to the stomach, but was able to pull the two apart.

He held each of them by the forearm. They were covered in dirt sticky with sweat. Blood ran from Seth’s nose and into his grinning mouth. He wiped it with the back of his hand, which smeared it across his lip and cheek. Mitchel hung his head, ashamed it had gotten so out of control. Blood ran from his lip. He spit the blood from his mouth.

Zachariah looked back and forth between the two boys. He released his hold on Seth who took a few steps back. Zachariah turned to face Mitchel.

Seth laughed. “See now don’t you feel better, Mitch?” Seth wiped his hands on the front of his jeans.

Melanie had never seen Mitchel so angry. She tried to go to him, but Jennifer caught her arm.

Mitchel turned to his twin. “You’re a dick, Seth,” he shouted over Zachariah’s shoulder.

This made Seth laugh even harder. He tried to respond, but could only get out a few syllables. “I….dick…use.”

Mitchel yanked his arm away from Zachariah and stalked toward the trail leading toward the lake.

“Seth you ought to let the wolf in your brother cool off. You going into town, you said?” Zachariah asked.

Seth nodded, and his eyes narrowed and the mirth drained from his features as he watched Mitchel scoop up a branch and beat the hell out of a tree as he passed. “I’m a mountain lion not a deer. I’m not afraid of the wolf.”

Jennifer released Melanie’s arm as well.

Melanie took off at a run toward Mitchel. She glanced back once. Seth was climbing into his car and Daisy was bounding after her. In a few more steps, she heard the car come to life and spit gravel as he accelerated down the road.

Running with Dogs

running dog

Seeing the smile on your dog’s face as he bounds down the trail or road is one of life’s greatest joys. Their flapping ears, wagging tail, and sparkling brown eyes will always lighten my heart and lift my spirits. Having your furry best friend as your training partner who never complains, keeps pace with you, and never says a discouraging word can help you get through those tough miles.

One of the things we have to remember about our wet nosed training partner is that they are no different from us when it comes to building miles, resting, hydration, and fueling during a run.

I see a lot of people out there running long miles and I can only hope that they have laid down the foundation for those miles with their dogs. Sure, we can see when our dog is limping or lethargic, but if you get to that point you have pushed them too hard too soon. Of course, they never tell you that and they will always go out with you with enthusiasm, which is why we need to be mindful of their bodies as well as our own.

Follow the ten percent rule, carry water for them, and allow them rest days. This can be hard when you have been running for awhile and are much more advanced than they are, but if you want your furry friend along you just need to follow the same rules as you did for yourself when you started running.

Since they don’t have shoes, you should be checking their paws for any stickers, dirt, or cracks. If you are running on roads or sand, make sure it’s not burning your dog’s paws. Dogs can get sunburned too, spray on sun block is much easier to apply than lotion. Bug spray will help keep mosquitos and ticks off. Definitely, keep them on a heartworm prevention medication.

You can get a collapsible bowl for their water, and there are packs for them to carry their own gear. Keep in mind that dogs don’t sweat, they pant. You may need to let them lay in the shade for a few minutes or in a cold stream to prevent them from overheating especially for our dark furred friends.

Stay up on your dog’s veterinary appointments making sure they have a clean bill of health. Inquire about a high-energy food for your dog and make sure you tell the vet how many miles they are running and what type of miles, trail verses roads. This will help your vet know what to look for with your dog.

There are some breeds who are better runners than others. A dog with long legs and sleek short coat are going to have an easier time than short and stout. A heavy fur coat is probably not the best choice. Pick a dog with a lot of energy who is friendly to both other dogs and people because you will encounter both while running.

Dogs can be trained to stop and sit when they find a snake on the trail or another threat to both your safety and theirs.

I’ve read articles that recommend limiting the amount of miles your dog runs to a half marathon, but I’ve seen happy healthy dogs complete as many as 50 miles. Again, if falls back on training and taking care of your dog’s healthy as you would for yourself or a human child.


Just Keep Swimming


The most efficient way to improve your swim time is by working on body position. If you are one of those rare people with perfect body position, you’ll have to work on arm turnover. I’m just talking about freestyle in this post so don’t try to apply these techniques to the breaststroke or the butterfly. I’m not sure what is transferable and what is not.

Even if you think your body position is perfect, you should work on body position because not only does it make you faster, but it makes you more efficient. Efficiency translates to less energy used to swim, which means you can swim longer and farther.

There are drills you can do to help with your body positioning in the water, but what position should your body be in? it seems simple when you watch other swimmers. They are on their stomach, move their arms around in a circle, kick their feet, and turn their head to breathe. Voila, swimming!

If only it were that simple.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t talk about your position in relation to the water. You need to be right at the surface or below the surface of the water. Ideally, you’re a little below the surface as you swim. You create less drag this way, which translates into more speed and less work.

First, you need to have balance in the water. If your balanced in the water you feel like a torpedo long and lean with your shoulders and chest pushed down in the water. You feel like your swimming downhill. Your heels, shoulder (on rotation), hip (on rotation), and head (also on rotation) will break the surface. If you don’t stay balanced your feet sink and you create drag, which slows you down.

To learn and practice balance in the water there are two main drills (I’m trying to keep this fairly simple. I’m sure there are a billion drills).

The superman: Lay face down in the water. Stretch your hands out in front of you and push off the wall. Kick your feet lightly. Press your shoulders and head down into the water without bending at the waist. Practice this until you run out of breathe before your feet sink.

Your chest is like your buoy. It’s where all the air is that helps you float. If you press it down into the water, your feet come up.

Kicking should not churn up a bunch of water like you’re a speedboat plowing through waves. Kick from the hip with a slight bend in your leg (like a Barbie leg). There should be a little splashing.

The Skate: start in superman and roll onto your side. There should be a point where you are comfortable. If you are straight up and down on your side try tipping a little forward.  Too far back and you’ll roll. Too far forward and you can’t breathe. Your lower arm should be stretched out above your head. Your upper arm should be down along your side.

You head should be low in the water. If you are looking up out of the water, the water should be at the edge of your goggles. You should be able to see it in your periphery vision. When face down, your neck and spine should line up. If you pull your head up, you create drag. Look at the bottom of the pool not in front of you. The back of your head should be just below the surface. Your hip and shoulder should break the surface of the water. Again, you should be pressing down with your chest area, which would be your lower shoulder on your side.

You can drop your extended arm away from your head to help create balance. Try a 1:00 and 2:00 position. If you get to three you’re going to have issues. Thinner people usually have to drop their lower arm more than heavier people. Imagine your body being long and lean. Keep it in a straight line.

Kicking should be the same, a light kick to keep you moving forward.

Practice the Skate on both sides until you are very comfortable on either side position.

Once you have practiced these two drills, the superman and the skate, until you hate them and then at least five more times you can move on to the skate and roll. Which I will talk about in the next post.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Forty-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’s stomach twisted. Ryan’s response was hesitant, delayed, too much so. She looked at Mitchel who was swirling his last bit of pancake around in the syrup. After everything that Mitchel has been through in his life you would think that he would be more suspicious of people. Maybe he was, but he hid it better.

Melanie ran her hand through her hair. Who cares if Ryan is killing people? It’s not like he would be killing innocent people, right? That has to be right. She sipped her coffee and felt him looking at her. She looked up and met Detective Ryan Thunderhawk’s eyes. She found sadness and longing in them before he turned away from her and out the window.

Dawn was clinging to the mountains in the east. The sun not wanting to witness the tragedy flourishing in the United States

The teakettle began to whistle. Ryan lifted it off the burner and poured the steaming water into the French press. Zachariah shuffled into the room rubbing the sleep from his face. Ryan poured him a cup of coffee.

“Thank you,” Zachariah said.

He took his coffee black. While he sipped at it, he looked around the room at each of them.

“I’ve got a full day,” Ryan said setting his cup in the sink and making for the door.

“You’ll be home for dinner?” Zachariah asked.

“Yes, I believe so.”

Zachariah nodded. “We’ll see you then.”

The side door squeaked as Ryan left. Melanie listened to his tires grinding on the gravel and then rose to get started on cleaning the garage, which was her mom’s project for the day.

“How much longer for the parts to come?” Melanie asked.

“Hard to know, but should be soon,” Zachariah said taking a seat at the table. “Next day or two, I expect.”

Melanie took the same path as Ryan had out of the house. She walked toward the cabin enjoying the cool early morning air and the song of the birds in the trees. She paused for a second, closed her eyes, and just listened to them. A smile spread over her face. She took a deep breath and opened her eyes.

As she neared their cabin, she could hear Seth’s voice through the open window. She peered in through the space between the drape and the window frame.

Seth was sitting on the edge of the bed next to Sam. He was reading her favorite book, “Black Beauty.”

Sam stroked Daisy’s head. “We should have named Daisy Beauty.” She sighed. Daisy laid her head on the pillow next to Sam’s and wagged her nubby tail.

Seth smiled. “Yes, you should have. Did you suggest that to Mel?”

Sam shook her head causing her sandy blond hair to shutter.

Melanie had never seen Seth interact with Sammy, but it was obvious they had been reading together for awhile. When had he found the time to read with her? He was always gone “hunting.”

Melanie felt pressure on her back and started.

“What ya looking at?” Mitchel whispered in her ear and peered into the cabin.

“Well, she can be Beauty to you and I,” Seth said.

Sam beamed and nodded. “Why do they call him Beauty instead of handsome, he’s a boy after all?”

Seth pursed his lips. “Sometimes the names people give don’t fit very well do they?”

Again the shake of the head. “He is beautiful though, isn’t he?”

Seth stroked Sam’s head. “He is.” He resumed reading.

Melanie turned to Mitchel. “Have you ever seen them read together?”

“A couple of times.” Mitchel smiled at her. “I think Sam reminds him that we had a sister once. She died when she was Sam’s age. Seth and I were only two.”

“What was her name?”


“You’ve never talked to me about her. What happened? Did she get sick?”

Mitchel looked away from her. His eyes stared off at the aspen trees. “She fell down the stairs and never woke up. My father was the only one home at the time.”

“I’m sorry Mitchel.” He took them both from him, she realized. His father had killed both his mother and his sister. She laid her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around him. He rested his chin on her head and held her tight.