But it’s over the counter…


Many of my running friends and teammates ask about taking Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or NSAIDs like Motrin or Aleve (Iburprofen and Naproxen). I always advise against it. These over the counter drugs should be used sparingly if at all while running. Yes running hurts sometimes. Sure you could probably go faster if you didn’t hurt so much. But, It’s just not worth the risk. If you absolutely have to use something take the Tylenol. I know it doesn’t work as well and I know it doesn’t reduce inflammation, but if you take it as prescribed it won’t kill you.

NSAIDs paired with physical exertion and dehydration can land a runner in the hospital rather than at the finish line celebration. Why are NSAIDs so bad? For a few reasons.

First, they reduce an enzyme that helps balance blood flow to your kidneys. If you are dehydrated and running this is also going to screw with the blood flow to your kidneys. Not a good combination.

Second, NSAIDs increase your blood pressure. So does running, which adds up to a stroke or heart attack for some runners, this would possibly be reduced by a particular enzyme that protects the heart, but NSAIDs reduce that one too.

Third, NSAIDs block another enzyme (you may choose to never use NSAIDs again after all this), which protects the lining of your stomach from digestive acids. Without it, you can experience nausea, cramps, intestinal bleeding and diarrhea (just what you wanted at mile 15, right?”

Fourth, In 2005, David Nieman, Dr. P. H., director of the human performance lab at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, examined ibuprofen use at Western States 100. About 70 percent of the racers said they took it to help them manage the discomfort of racing. But when he measured pain and muscle soreness in these pill poppers, he found no reduction compared with nonusers. Worse, ibuprofen takers had more inflammation rather than less. “There’s no good reason to use ibuprofen during a race,” Nieman says. “There are too many potential negatives.”

The main risk with Tylenol is dulling the pain can mask a serious injury. Pain lets you know something is not right in your body. If you mask pain and then ignore it you will continue to cause injury and potentially be out of running for weeks.

Educate yourself about what you are putting into your body, just because you can get it without a prescription doesn’t mean it is safe to take.

Run Happy, Run Free!

It’s all in the quantity

eat run

Eating while running is tricky for many runners. Your stomach has a hard time shuttling enough blood to your stomach to digest while at the same time pumping it to your running muscles to keep them moving. This is an issue both marathon runners and ultrarunners have to deal with at some point. The best place to start is during training.

As always, there are those select few who can just eat whatever they want along the course and don’t have any problems and then there is the other end of the spectrum who even glance in the direction of food they get sick.

Most of us fall somewhere in between. Over the past few years, I’ve completely changed my eating life style to attempt to manage stomach problems while running. I did this by switching to a low carbohydrate diet. Eating Low Carb made it so I didn’t have to take in many calories while I was running, which was just fine by me because then my stomach wouldn’t have any problems. This worked for about a year and a half.

Low carb was awesome during that time and then all of a sudden it wasn’t. I don’t know what went wrong or if it just ran out of steam. I was meticulous at counting carbs so I know I didn’t go over my daily carb intake, I was just tired all the time. I couldn’t get going on my runs. So I switched back to a high carb diet and I feel much better. I’ve talked with other ultrarunners who have tried the low carb diet and they have reported similar results and have also switched back.

Since coming back into the carb loving world, I’ve had to seriously work on eating while running. Of course, I had tried to work on this before, but I went about it all wrong. I read articles about how other ultrarunners had “Taught” their bodies to deal with both running and digesting at the same time and their suggestions was run on a full stomach.

That route probably works for some people. It didn’t work for me.

Eating while running marathons was never really an issue. I could use gu and be fine for the run. It wasn’t until I began running ultra’s that the eating became an issue.

So what have I been doing? Small bites. Don’t laugh. I know it seems like a no brainer, but it took me a while to figure this out.

I can’t wait until I’m ravenous before I start eating because then I want to eat the entire granola bar or everything at the aid station buffet.

I have to take a bite, drink some water, run a while, drink some water, run a while, and take another bite. The amount of running I do depends on what I’ve eaten. The more time it is going to need to digest (the more complex the food is and more protein it has) the longer I run and just keep drinking water. Drinking is the same way, which I’ve known for a long time. You can’t guzzle water or sports drinks, well I can’t anyway.

Let me know how all of you manage eating while running…

Run Happy, Run Free!


A Vigil For Justice: Episode Fifty-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 caught Mitchel looking at her and smiling as they drove down the empty highway toward Oregon. Northern Idaho was vastly different from the desert south, which she was glad for. She missed the mountain valley she had spent most of her life in the pine and earth scents in the air, the gentle crashing of the rivers, and the sentinel pines and aspens. She closed her eyes and was there once again hand in hand with Mitchel as they hiked their favorite trail up to a bald rocky peak. They’d look down on the valley trying to find the small buildings scattered among the trees.

The truck swerved hard to the left yanking Melanie out of her daydream.

“Sorry,” Mitchel said, “Porcupine.”

She laughed. “You should keep your eyes on the road.”

He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she snuggled into him. She didn’t usually sit in the “girlfriend” seat, preferring to rest her arm out the window to feel the rush of wind through her fingers. But ever since she had told Mitchel about the baby, he kept her closer. The baby was untimely, but it would be cherished and loved by both of them nonetheless.

They had talked about children, of course, as they had made their future plans with one another during the last year. Mitchel was going to wait for her to finish her senior year of high school and they would both go to the University of Denver. She was going to study veterinary medicine and he was going to study English and writing, so he could teach and write novels. At first she had laughed because his broad muscular shoulders and rough hands just didn’t seem to fit with such things, but it’s what he wanted so she supported him.

After school, they were going to return to Blue River and buy a home where they would raise their family among the forests and rivers of the high mountain valley.

She squeezed her teeth and eyes shut. That was all gone. Now they lived in a world of suspicion and death. And now they were going to raise a child in among that instead of the rivers and forest.

She nuzzled in closer to him and wrapped her arm around herself. “Do you think we should tell my mom?”

“I’ve been thinking about that too. What do you want to do?”

She pulled a long breath in through her nose filling her lungs. The air here was filled with wet leaves and earth. “I don’t know.”

He kissed her on her head. “What about waiting until we reach the safe zone? Then she wouldn’t be as concerned about having a doctor around or you being safe. I think I worry about that enough for everyone.”

“I like that idea.”

Sam would be excited she knew, especially when she would be able to lay her hand on Melanie’s swollen belly and feel the baby move. Melanie was excited and anxious for that day too.

She wondered how Daisy would respond to the baby. She hoped she would be as protective over the baby as she was with Sam.

The thought of Seth twisted her stomach into a tangled slinky. Would he cradle the baby in his arms and read children’s stories as he did with Sam? Would she allow him to do it? She took another deep breath. Her stomach growled audibly.

“Time for lunch?” Mitchel laughed.

“I guess so.” She sat up and turned to look out the back window at her mother’s van following. Although she couldn’t see Seth’s car behind the van, she knew it was there. Everyday she wished he would pull off on a side road and disappear from their lives, but each time they pulled off the road, he was there.

“There’s a picnic table, I’m going to pull over,” Mitchel said.

Melanie turned back around with the grinding and pinging of the tires on a dirt road. She pulled her hair up into a ponytail and twisted the hair tie from her wrist around it. Once the truck stopped and the dust from Seth cleared, she slid to the ground.

The edge of her right foot landed on a rock and rolled outward. Her hands went out to stop her crashing into the ground. “Ouch, god damn it.”

Seth caught her under her arm and was pulling her to her feet as Mitchel rounded the front of the truck at a run.

“What happened?”

Melanie looked up at Seth. “Thanks.” Seth just grinned. She tried to back away from him, but her ankle wouldn’t hold her weight and she began to crumble to the ground. This time, it was Mitchel who caught her.

“Are you all right?” Mitchel asked, pulling her up and toward him. His face was etched with concern.

“I just rolled my ankle. Do we have some ice and something to wrap it in? It will be fine.”

“You should probably get her off her feet,” Seth said.

Melanie looked over her shoulder at him. He was still smiling. Does he know that I know, she wondered. She turned away as Mitchel bent and scooped her up into his arms. He turned walking to the grey picnic table.

“Everything okay?” Jennifer called peering around the back of the van.

“I’m fine, mom. Can you bring me some ice and an ace wrap or something?” Melanie said. Mitchel set her on the hard plastic table.

Jennifer waddled toward them with one of their coolers. Seth jogged over and took it from her setting it on the table’s bench.

“Oh, Melanie, how did you do that?”

Melanie clenched her teeth. It wasn’t like I did it on purpose. “I landed on a rock when I got out of the truck.

Her mom dumped the cheese from a sandwich bag, filled it with ice, and handed it to Melanie. Jennifer hurried back to the van sending puffs of dirt into the air with each step.

“Let me see it,” Mitchel said gently pulling off her shoe.

It was starting to swell and bruise. Melanie sighed; just freaking great, now Mitchel and her mom would make her go into the nearest town.

Sam and Daisy ambled over. “Are you hurt Mel?”

Daisy licked Melanie’s toes, which hung over the edge of the table. Her mom trotted back over rolling the ace wrap back up.

She gasped at the sight of Melanie’s foot and ankle. “You’re going to see a doctor.”

Melanie snatched the flesh colored wrap from her mom and began wrapping the ice to her ankle. “The safe zone is only one day away. We can wait until we get there. I won’t be doing much walking anyway.”

“I don’t know Mel. It looks pretty bad,” Seth said.

Poison darts flew from her narrowed eyes. “It’s safer for everyone to avoid the cities.”

Mitchel and Jennifer glanced at each other. “She’s right,” Mitchel said. “We should be there before nightfall. It’s just twenty miles northeast of Portland.”

Melanie’s mom pressed her lips together turning them a pale pink. “You’re right, but let’s get there as fast as we can. Maybe she can see a doctor tonight.”

Melanie had rolled her ankle many times running. She wanted to tell her mom they couldn’t do anything but, ice and wrap it. She decided not to aggravate the situation.

They ate a quick lunch of ham sandwiches and chips and then got underway again.

Involve the Family


Family and Friends want to be a part of your life and join in the experiences that you love as much as they can. They want to share your joy and success. There are many ways that they can join in and support you in your running. Races are always in need of volunteers.

Operating an aid station for a race gives you a real appreciation for the accomplishment of running. You watch runners struggle and keep going. Most runners are very courteous and grateful to volunteers. Races would not happen without the volunteer support.

Many races give their volunteers race swag such as t-shirts, coupons, and samples of sponsor’s products, similar to what the runners get. Most importantly volunteering allows them to see you, their runner, out there on the course, which can be difficult for trail running courses. Volunteering may also motivate them to give running a try or not.

Family can be at the starting line to see you off, meet you along the course to cheer and hold up signs, and then chant your name as you cross the finish line. This is easier to do on a longer course where there isn’t the chance of missing you coming into the finish because they don’t get back in time. If it is a short course, which loops around itself it can be done as well.

Many race websites post the course and the best places for family and friends to see their runners. Crowding into an aid station is not a good place to be. Some runners stop at aid stations to get their water, Gatorade, or gels. Many runners slow down as they pass through the aid stations. Family and friends will only add to the congestion. It is better for them to be at another place on the course, particularly for races with a large number of participants.

Runners are packed together for the first few miles of a marathon or half marathon, which makes catching their runner’s eye or giving a high five more difficult. After the halfway point, runners spread out and seeing a familiar face is all the encouragement a runner needs to keep going to the end.

As a runner knowing that I have someone at the finish line cheering for me, encourages me the whole race. I want to come across that finish line looking and feeling strong. When I am at a down point or want to walk, knowing that I have people waiting for me gives me just one more reason to keep going.

As soon as the finish line is in sight, runners are looking for their personal fans, pulling their shoulders back, and picking up their pace as much as they can. You know that once you cross the finish line your loved ones will help you get a chair, ice, water, a banana or just take off your shoes.

But I have kids…

overwhelmed parent

Most people have children and children require you to change and adjust your life around them, especially young children. It makes keeping a running schedule a little more difficult. If you’re a single parent, it makes it a lot more complex.

Parents have to be flexible when it comes to getting their daily run in, just like they need to do with other things in their life. As a parent, your life bends and twists around your children. Once your children are older and more independent, it’s much easier to keep a consistent schedule of things you want to accomplish.

Sometimes when you have children, goals have to take a back burner for a while. The needs of our children become our priority, and our desire to finish that marathon or even sleep for eight hours straight through are sidelined.

It is possible to maintain a consistent running schedule when you have children. A supportive partner makes a huge difference, but even if you are a single parent you can get your run in. Here are some ideas on how to do it…

First look at your goals and think about the time it will take to train for a particular race distance. This will depend on the pace you run since faster runners are going to spend less time training. Now look at your schedule and see what you can throw out or where you can squeeze your training in. If you can’t fit in a four hour long run in on weekends once in awhile then you should probably back off your goals.

If your goal is to run 5k’s, 10k’s, or even a half marathon, training during lunch or in the morning before kids get up is doable. I know you’re not a morning person, but give it three solid weeks and you may find that you prefer starting your day by accomplishing something.

A lunch run can be great to break up the day. It also puts you out in the sunshine rather than the dark. Lunch runs can be difficult to maintain on a consistent basis if you frequently have lunch meetings or go out to lunch with friends. Try to find a running group that runs during the lunch hour, either in your office or at a nearby gym or park. Having others to run with, will get you out there on days you have an offer to do something else.

For single parents, a lunch run may be easier than leaving the children during the morning unless they are old enough to not panic when (not if) they wake up and you are not there. When my children were elementary school age, I would make sure my oldest son knew I was running the next morning and what time I would be back. I would write it on a white board with my phone number (just in case he forgot it). If they woke up while I was gone, they called me. I didn’t just go home when they called, it depended on what they needed and how long I had left.

The long run on the weekend will take a little more planning. If you have a partner who is willing to care for the children during your long run that makes things pretty easy. However, make sure you do the same for your partner to have their time away from the children. If you are a single parent, you have to get creative. You can find another parent in the neighborhood who is a runner and single parent one of you could watch the kids while the other runs and switch off weekend days. One of you run Saturday and the other Sunday. This is also useful if both parents run.

Another strategy for single parents is to get up with enough time to finish your run before the children get up. I know this means getting up at like 3:00 am, I’ve done it many times. Keep your run close to your home in case you need to get back quickly and then follow the same procedure as above. Leave a note and your phone number. Have the kids call as soon as they wake up and then decide if you can finish the run or need to go straight home.

Running in circles around your neighborhood for twenty miles is not always a fun run, but it’s better than not running at least in my book. There are things you can do to make it more fun such as listening to an audio book or music. There are great running apps that make running like a game. You can also find a friend to go with you.

Running when you have children can be difficult and you may have to adjust your goals depending on your children’s age and the support system you have. But don’t just give up running, seriously look at your options and get creative. There are so many benefits to your physical and mental health from running to just let it walk out of your life.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Fifty-Eight


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

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


The knotty rock pressed into Melanie’s bones as she wrapped her arms around herself trying to warm the chill from her body. Sam bounced and twirled around the fire singing, “There’s a blue bird on my shoulder.”

Mitchel laid his aviator jacket on her shoulders.

“Thanks, babe.” She sighed as she slipped her arms through the warm sleeves.

“I warmed it up for you.” He kissed the top of her head.

“Melanie, it’s not that cold out here, are you sure you’re not getting sick?” her mom asked.

“I’m just slow to adjust to the change in season’s mom. You know that.”

Her mom knitted her brows and lips.

“I’m fine mom.”

She breathed her surroundings in, tasting each one that passed her tongue.

The leaves were showing the signs of autumn, Melanie’s favorite time of year. The few trees they saw in the straw tinged hills of southern Idaho were touched with the red and gold of the season. The air held the deep earthy scent of falling leaves and the tinge of winter as it approached. Thankfully, they would be settled in the safe zone well before the snow fell. Mitchel told her snow didn’t have a scent, but she disagreed.


Her mom handed her two slices of pizza stacked on a paper towel.

Melanie held the pizza to her nose, honey chicken. When had her mom had time to make it? She smiled and shook her head. Her mouth filled with saliva. She took a bite and let it sit on her tongue. The sweetness of the honey coupled with the delicate creamy mozzarella. The cheese stretched as she pulled it away from her mouth. It had been months since she had pizza.

“How is it?” her mom asked.

“Sooo good,” Melanie said.

Her mom laughed and mussed up her hair.

Sam giggled as she scarfed down her piece with Daisy sitting hopeful at her feet.

Melanie was content with her completely stuffed belly after her third piece.

“Are you ready for more Black Beauty?” Seth asked Sam.

She boinged on the balls of her feet, eyes wide.

It was the only book Sam had brought. They had read it a million times already. Sam took Seth by the hand and bounced all the way to the van.

“Are you two on watch tonight?” Jennifer asked glancing back and forth between Melanie and Mitchel.

“Yep,” Mitchel said.

“Oh to be young again and be able to stay up all night and still function the next day.”

Jennifer set a bowl of food and another of water on the ground next to the van and whistled for Daisy. Nub wiggling, she ambled over and devoured it in a few seconds. She lapped up half the bowl of water and bounded barking over to the van.

Daisy had taken to sleeping snuggled up under blankets in the van with Sam and Jennifer, which Melanie was glad about.




Melanie and Mitchel laid in the bed of the truck looking up at the stars and the moon. They were totally spent. The night breeze was cool across Melanie’s sweaty bare skin. The shiver that ran through her wasn’t from the cold. She rolled toward Michel resting her head on his chest. He pulled her close.

She didn’t know where to begin. Should she just dump it on him or work her way up to it? She ran her finger down his sternum and watched the pounding of his chest settle to a smooth rhythm.

Mitchel looked at his watch and smiled. “It’s 12:04, happy birthday my love.” He stroked her hair. It was nearly to her butt now. “I wish I had something more to give you.”

She didn’t need any more than him by her side. It was what she wanted above all else. She nuzzled into him. She wondered if now was the right time to tell him. Their whole world would change once again, but she didn’t want to have secrets from him. They had never had secrets from one another. Even the terrible things from Mitchel’s childhood had been shared. She had cried when he told her about everything his father had done to terrorize them the beatings, burnings, and when he put a knife through Seth’s arm.

“Mitchel?” she said.

The tone of her voice made him lift his head to see her better, she dipped her head and continued to trace the muscles of his chest. He pulled her closer. “What is it?”

This was harder than she anticipated. This is not what she had imagined it would be like, but the world had taken a horrible turn and was nothing like she had imagined too. Her voice, usually strong and confident, dwindle to a whisper.

“I’m pregnant.”

He rolled onto his side facing her, wrapping both of his arms around her, and resting his chin on her head.

He was quiet. What was he thinking? I shouldn’t have told him, but he would have noticed eventually. I should have waited to tell him. She could hear her heart in her head. She clenched her eyes against tears and took a deep steady breath. And then another. What were they going to do? What if the baby came while they were still out there? She pressed her teeth together. This world was toxic to a child. No, they would make it to the safe zone. Things would be fine. Her breath left her. Her eyes sprang open. Seth. Oh god, he could never know. Cold ran threw her and she began to tremble.

Mitchel pulled the sleeping bag around her. “I love you, Melanie. And I love our baby.”

She looked up at him. He smiled, as he blinked away the tears he didn’t want to come.

“What are we going to do?” she asked.

“We are going to have a beautiful strong baby with your eyes and lips and let’s hope only my hair.”


Are Calluses bad?


If you’ve been running for more than a few months on a consistent basis, you have calluses on your feet. Calluses form in the places where your foot rubs against your shoe. Skin builds up to protect against injury, blisters mainly.

Problem is, blisters can form underneath callouses. If you think a blister is bad, try getting one under a callus. If you get a blister on the surface of your skin it is pretty easy to treat and keep running. However, if it is under a callus it is really difficult to treat and keep running.

If you don’t have to keep running then I guess your fine to keep your calluses. I’m sure you have some large enough to name. If you do need or want (for many of us it is a need) to keep running, it’s a good idea to keep the calluses under control.

I don’t think you need to have them cut off every week. A thin layer is actually all you need to help prevent the blisters. Just file them down after long runs. Keep them under control that way, if you do get a blister underneath you can treat it and keep running.

The other problem some runners develop with calluses is they get so large they become painful or alter your gait. This is definitely bad. An altered gait can lead to other injuries.

Filing them down with a pumice stone on a regular basis is the best thing to keep them within the normal range. You can have them shaved off while you get a pedicure, but make sure you trust the person with the blade. In some state’s this is illegal because it can lead to infection. If you must have them shaved off, see a podiatrist. They know a lot about feet.

Take care of your feet, they are the only pair you have.



Worn Out?

trail shoe 2

I’m talking about shoes, here. Everyone says you should replace your running shoes after 300 miles, but what if you don’t track the miles on your shoes. If my car didn’t track it’s own miles I wouldn’t know how many miles were on it.

It would be nice if you could pull up the tongue of your shoe and it would tell you how many miles you had run in them.

There are a few ways you can keep track of your miles. If you run the same amount of miles each week it’s really easy, just write the date you bought the shoes on the tongue or write the date they need to be replaced.

You can also put this information in your calendar. If you do this, I would count out the miles you expect to run and then put “New Shoes” in your calendar. You can even put it on a payday.

You can also just look at the bottom of your shoe. If the tread is worn away quite a bit, it’s probably time for a new shoe. If you have been running in the same type of shoe for awhile, you can tell when it’s time just by how the shoe feels.

Another way you can tell it’s time for new shoes is if your legs and feet start to ache during a run that is not a new distance or new terrain. You’d also have to pay attention to whether or not you have increased your miles.

The other question is whether or not you really need to replace after the 300 miles. I’ve read research articles which say cushioning in shoes diminishes over time whether you wear them or not, but I doubt it is at the same rate. I think it is dependent on the shoe. Some shoes just last longer than others. Hoka claims that their shoes last twice as long as other shoes.

Personally, I don’t track the miles on my shoes. I watch the wear and tear on them. If the tread is worn down and the laces don’t hold snug or my feet ache after a run. It’s time for new shoes.

With trail shoes, the tread is really important. It keeps you from falling on your face when you are running steep slopes, up or down. It’s also keeps you stable on rocky or loose surfaces.

If you can poke your finger through the bottom of your shoe, it is time for a new pair.

A Vigil for Justice: Episode Fifty-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.


How long had it been, Melanie thought. She had been so preoccupied with figuring out who the butcher was that she had scarcely thought of herself. Now that she and Ryan had figured it out, it was another life filling her thoughts. Was it in Denver that she last had her period? She rolls the memories around in her head. No, it was in Blue River. It had been two and a half months.

The yellow hills nearly empty of green surrounded them as she and Mitchel sat on the tailgate of his truck. She took bite of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She yawned and Mitchel rubbed her back. She thought the tiredness was from staying up late around the fire with Ryan, but it had begun before that. Maybe, it was the stress they were all under. It wasn’t as if life had been easy these past few months. She took another bite of her sandwich.

How long had it been since she and Mitchel had been together? Their frolic in the river. That was just two weeks ago. It must have happened before then. She loved Mitchel. She wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. And now that she knew for certain it was not him who cut up her best friend and her family, she loved him even more.

She bumped him with her shoulder. His full lips curved into a smile. “Are you feeling better today?”

She nodded. “I slept better last night too.” That was true, since she didn’t get up to talk with Ryan. Ryan was miles and miles behind them now. Two days had quelled her anger with him. She didn’t count on him choosing his father over so many other lives. She had judged him wrong. In the past he had probably been the knight of justice slaying the evil doers of the land to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves, but the meaning of the word Justice was corrupted.

“I noticed that.” Mitchel held out the open bag of Cheetos to her. “You were there every time I woke up to roll over.”

Ryan gave them a small tent to sleep in and some warm sleeping bags. The van was too packed with their belongings for all of them to sleep in there. Melanie had seen to it that only her mom and Sam would fit forcing Seth to sleep in his car or in Mitchel’s truck. Melanie was hoping the door of the truck or car closing would let them know Seth was up.

She hadn’t decided whether or not she should tell Mitchel, at least about Seth. She knew she had to tell him about the baby. She just didn’t want to do that anywhere near anyone else. She wanted it to be their secret. She wanted to have something for only them.

She kicks her dangling feet. “You going to keep watch with me tonight?”

He kissed the top of her head. “Of course.”

She couldn’t be certain she was pregnant. There could be any number of reasons for her period to have stopped, but she thought those less likely.




A few more hours down the road, they found a grove of trees where they could pull off the road and set up for the night. Seth and Mitchel built a fire pit while Melanie and Sam gathered firewood.

“Dinner is almost ready,” Jennifer said as Melanie dumped an armload of branches to the ground.

Mitchel wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “Seth will you chop the wood tonight?”

“No problem.” Seth climbed into the back of the truck and dug out the axe.

Melanie pulled the sliding door open on the opposite side of the van just as her mother closed up her side. Melanie couldn’t watch without images of chopped up friends. Her whole body clenched with each thwak of the blade into the wood. Some morbid part of her demanded she look at him. It wanted to know if he enjoyed the swinging of the steel. She pulled out the camp chairs and then began riffling through the duffle bags full of clothing to find sleeping bags. She shook her head, how did they manage to get buried under everything.

She jumped as Mitchel grabbed her from behind. He brushed her hair aside and kissed her on the back of her neck. She relaxed in his arms. “I miss you,” he whispered.

She turned in his arms. “I know.”

She missed being with him too, but now that she knew what Seth was, she couldn’t sneak off into the woods with him.

He kissed her. “Tonight?”

She smiled. “Maybe.” She kissed him and pulled from his arms smiling and laughing.

“Don’t tease me now, it’s just not nice.” He swiped and darted for her as she twisted out of his reach, but he caught ahold of her anyway. He knew all her tricks. She pulled just a little as he reeled her in kissing her much deeper than before.

“Mitchel,” Seth said.

Mitchel and Melanie turned. He was standing at the rear of the van, a foxes grin on his face. Melanie tensed and wondered how long he had been there. Mitchel ran his hands up and down her arms.

“What’s up?” Mitchel asked.

“Can you help me start the fire?”

Mitchel patted Melanie on both shoulders, gave her a quick kiss, and wen to help his twin.

When they were out of sight, Melanie placed both her hands on her lower belly.

“You coming to eat?”

Melanie spun around. Her mom was standing behind her. “I made your favorite, well, warmed it up anyway. Pizza is really hard to cook over a fire.”

Melanie nodded, following her mom.

Rocking the Relay

Epic Exchange six

It was being a runner that mattered, not how fast or how far I could run. The joy was in the act of running and in the journey, not in the destination. We have a better chance of seeing where we are when we stop trying to get somewhere else.

John Bingham

My relay team is headed out this weekend to finish our 5th Red Rock Relay in Southern Utah.

Every team is different and each race is different. It is important to make sure that there are not major personality conflicts in the vans, which will ruin everyone’s fun. Personalities who may conflict should be in different vans on the team.

This is probably my number one rule about gathering a team. The first year I put together my team I mixed two people who should not have been mixed. We finished the race with smiles, but it was a little tense at times. When you are sticking six people in a van together for 24-36 hours, with limited sleep, aching legs and feet, and weird eating schedules every precaution should be taken to reduce friction least a fire spring to life from smoldering embers.

Communication between vans is crucial when you are approaching to a major exchange point (changing from Van One to Van Two’s six legs of the race). Text messaging and phone calls are the easiest form of communication. Text messaging requires less of a signal than phone calls making it my first choice for contacting the other van.

When texting my other van, I send the name of the runner who is running, what mile they are at, and their pace. We learned quickly that if you don’t put the time the text message is sent the information can be pointless. The text message can be delayed due to inconsistent service. Your message should be something like, “Swiss Miss is running, 13:00 pace, three miles to go. Sent at 9:00 p.m.” If you don’t include the sent time and they don’t have service until 9:30 p.m. they will think they have 39 minutes until the runner comes in, but in reality they only have nine minutes to get their runner ready to go and in the exchange shoot.

Putting in the time that the text is sent, eliminates this problem, so long as they receive it before you roll into the exchange point. As a last precaution, once the van reaches the “One mile to go” sign, the van should pull ahead of the runner and make sure the next runner is ready to start.

Relays are the perfect way to gather new runners into the sport and get them super excited to run.

Good luck building your teams!