Friday, June 24, 2016

I Saw the Signs By J.C. Lane

LUCY BURDETTE: The year I served as the president of the National Sisters in Crime organization, Judy Clemens was my vice president. She proved herself to be talented, dedicated, and a tireless worker. Later on, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her doggedness surfaced. She was determined to get through that health crisis and welcomed the support of her friends and fans. Today she's written a guest post that highlights her determination and humor--I know you'll enjoy it! Welcome Judy aka JC Lane!

JC LANE: Somewhere on the crazy side of my brain I decided it would be a good idea to run a half-marathon. Sure, I know people who have run full ones, and even one person who’s training for a fifty-miler (talk about crazy!), but a half was as far as I was willing to go, especially since I’d never been a runner before last summer.

So starting in January I went through the training regimen for four months (which, depending which day you asked me, was the Worst. Thing. Ever.) Sore feet. Sore knees. 5:30 AM alarms to squeeze a run in before work. But finally, race day arrived. April 30, the Capital City Half-Marathon in Columbus, Ohio. I was excited and ready to go!

Neon running shirt? Check.
Banana and yogurt? Check.
Bathroom break? Check.

My faster-than-I hubby crowded into our slow-pace corral with me (isn’t he the best?), and after watching the elites and some not-so-elites start off on the big screen, it was our turn.

Immediately, poster board signs showed up along the course held aloft by children, men, women, groups, and families. The signs were varied. Big, brightly-colored, scribbled, artistic, inspirational. funny…

The Funny Ones. Why hadn’t I expected that?




And such they were.

The first few miles I was feeling pretty good. I got this. I’m doing this. No problem.


We hit mile four and single digits – only nine miles to go!


At mile five my feet started to hurt.


During mile six I could feel my sleeve chafing my underarm.


Seven, eight, nine…

By mile ten my legs weighed a hundred pounds each. When did this happen?


Every step after mile eleven was farther than I’d ever run before, since training took me only up to that point. My knees and my right glute were killing me.


Mile twelve. Would you believe the last half-mile was UPHILL? For real.


And finally, finally, the finish line.


I’d done it. It was over. I’d run every step without stopping.

Never again.

I guess I need to make my own sign for that.

What would your sign say?


J.C. Lane is the author of the thriller Tag, You’re Dead, which crossed its own finish line on July 5. She also writes mysteries as Judy Clemens, including the Stella Crown series and the Grim Reaper mysteries. She’s gone through more running shoes in the past year than she has her whole life. You can read more about her at


  1. Congratulations . . . I admire your perseverance and am in awe of folks who actually run marathons or half marathons or anything of the sort. I'd be the one holding the sign saying, "So glad I'm not running; happy to cheer you on!"

  2. You made it! And isn't it awesome when it's over? I love the signs. I did the White Mountain Half with a friend, except I was twenty years younger than I am now. When we finished we turned to each other and said, "Boston's next." So we actually trained for and ran the Boston Marathon, with charity numbers, in 1998. A feat never to be repeated - the last SIX miles were longer than I'd ever run before! But I'm so proud of having done it.

  3. I cannot run 50 feet, never mind a mile. I love your signs and spirit, Judy. I know my sign would be: If you can read this it's a miracle.

  4. We'd figured you would have run Edith!! My first husband ran a marathon and I biked along beside him with another man whose partner was running too. They finally asked us to drop back as our chatting was annoying. Duh!

    Judy, tell us more about writing a YA book. How is it different from writing an adult mystery?

  5. Mine would say, "Keep going; you are BADASS!!"

    Love the signs. I was at the first Columbus marathon, way back in 1980, watching a boyfriend run his first 26.2. No signs then, and no one except the cops, and then the runners, knew the route, so no opportunity to cheer anyone on except at the finish. It was a raw, cold, wet day, too, and it was miserable waiting for the race to end. The runners would have welcomed a smile or two that day!

    My longest race, back in the late 70's/early 80's when I was running, was ten miles. Of which I finished eight. However, two of my daughters have run marathons, and all three have trained for them at various times. My middle daughter ran the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim last fall--twice. They were training runs for an ultra-long endurance run in Durango, which has an elevation change of several thousand feet.

    Yeah, no. I'm good with walking, at this point!

  6. It's fun hearing all of your comments about running! I admire those of you who have done the full marathon. I pretty much maxed out with 13.1! My husband Steve stills keeps up the running (he just did 10 last Saturday), but I've decided only to run when I feel like it -- which isn't very often! Biking seems to suit me (and my feet) better these days.

    As for writing a YA really is different. (Although I do have to say that Poisoned Pen decided that they think adults will like it, too, so they published it in their mainstream line!) Anyway, I love reading YA books, and most often that's what you'll find on my TBR pile. There is an innocence involved in those books that generally isn't in adult books. While there are intense emotions and situations (even life and death), often the characters are experiencing them for the first time, so there is a freshness to the stories that I enjoy. The language is also different -- teens speak differently than we adults do! I have two teenagers at home, so I hear it a lot. :)

  7. Those signs crack me up, Judy! Kudos to you, and I like your decision to run when you feel like it now.

    I am also a YA fan, and your comment about the first time experiences and freshness are spot on. Good luck with Tag, You're Dead!

  8. Thanks, Ramona! Glad you enjoyed the signs.

    I think the YA market is so fantastic these days -- so much out there for any kind of reader. When I was a teen there were a few things (the Scholastic brochure we could order from) but now there is so much diversity and a really stunning array of authors. It's fun to talk to teenagers and see what they are enjoying. Something for everyone!

  9. Judy, I want to know where that last half-mile was. Uphill? Really?? In Columbus they couldn't have found a nice flat 13.1 miles?? The signs were great--unexpected uphills, unexpected humor--sort of like real life, huh?

    I often browse the YA new fiction--my excuse is that I'm looking for something to tempt two teenagers--but, really, I've never outgrown my love of a good book. Best of luck with Tag, You're Dead!

  10. I love your Grim Reaper series! Seriously good!
    I am not a runner but a walker but 5 miles, maybe 6 is my limit. I live in Atlanta, GA, site of the largest 10K which takes place on July 4th each year. Ah the logic of it, heat and humidity to enjoy with 60,000 of your new best friends. The crowds, both running and watching are wonderful. People run in costumes, theres a Marine group that run in combat gear with packs, everything and there are walkers too. Very ecumenical.

  11. I used to say, "I only run when chased." Now, hey dude, what do you want? Phone, money, credit cards, car keys? Here ya go. But I have a college friend who runs - she's even done an Ironman. She came to Pittsburgh a bit a go and did the half-marathon. My sign was simple, "Way to go," but I really like Hallie's "If you can read this..." sign.

    After my MCL heals maybe I'll take up running. (Just kidding.)

  12. FChurch, I know! What was UP with that? The last mile we went half a mile downhill across this bridge, and the last half mile back up the other side. There was an ambulance parked halfway up the hill and there were a few people taking solace there as I slogged past. :) And yes, it is hard to tempt teenagers to least there's a lot out there to choose from!

    Anon, thank you so much for your kind words about the Grim Reaper series. Glad you enjoy them. The race in Atlanta sounds grueling but fun! I can't imagine how it would be to run with those packs on...

    Mary, the Ironman people are seriously amazing. I admire them immensely. And thanks for the laugh. :) I like picturing you putting your not-running ahead of your possessions.

  13. I will run this race no more forever! Congrats!

  14. Thanks, Pat! That would be a great sign. :)

  15. My sign would say, "Now where's my gin and tonic?" :-)

  16. My sign would say, "Why did I ever think this was a good idea?"

    Sort of like 500 pages into a manuscript:-)

    The most I can say about running is that when I was in London in January, I walked fifteen miles one day--accidentally!

    Bravo to all you runners, and best of luck with the book!

  17. Wow Wow wow! So impressive...!And it is SO like writing, except for the hurting feet. And knees. But sometimes I say: You can stop--If you write 25 more words. And then 25 more and 25 more.

    Oh, my sign? would ask: WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THE REAL HANK? Because I would not be running. Believe me. (I used to, then I blew out my knees. End of running.)

    SO proud of you! And yes, more about your YA! Do tell..

  18. Haha, Lisa. Good sign. :)

    Thank you, Libby!

    Deborah, yes, that sign would be VERY fitting. I thought that more than once as I was slogging away. And you're right. It would definitely fit in the dark recesses of book writing...

    Thanks, Hank! Yes, it is mentally painful to write, just as it is physically painful to run. :) Love your sign.

    About the YA -- yes, I am super excited! I remember sitting at a table at a book festival once and seeing an author with tons of kids in his line (I believe it was Jeff Smith, who writes the Bone graphic novels), and thinking Hey, I want that to be me! So here's me, giving it a go! :) It's fun this time for my book launch party I've been telling my kids to invite their friends -- they might actually enjoy reading this book! LOL

  19. My sign would say: Time For Coffee- Great post and congrats on the race!

  20. RUN? I THOUGHT IT SAID FUN! Seriously, major kudos. I am a runner and there is no way I would ever enter anything more strenuous that an a 5k. You may call me chicken.

    Congratulations on attempting a half-marathon. You are my hero for finishing it.

  21. Thanks, Jamie! I know a lot of runners who need their coffee before they even attempt a run -- which could pose its own problems if you want to run very far. :)

    Haha, Kait, that would be a good sign! And I won't call you chicken at all. Maybe you're just smarter than I am. :) Thanks so much!

  22. Wow, Judy! Congratulations on the half marathon. What an achievement. I love the signs held up for you, so funny. My sign would read something like, "If Kathy's running, you should be, too, because it can only mean zombies are chasing."

    I looked up all the books you write, Judy, and they all look like great reads, so more on my list. Tag, You're Dead looks especially interesting, and I'll start with that one. Thanks for visiting the Reds today!

  23. Judy, congratulations! I'm a serious walker, but I'd never attempt any kind of run... well, maybe if there was a sign that read "Chocolate for everyone who crosses the finish line"!

    I used to know someone who finished dead last in every race. She was very proud to just finish; she didn't care about how long it took. I always admired her for that.

    Now to go look for your books.

    Deb Romano

  24. Kathy, love that sign idea! Very relevant to today's pop culture, as well. :) Thanks so much for looking up Tag!

    Deb, walking is really my preferred method, as well, when it comes right down to it! And that sign would definitely do it for me! Chocolate is a great motivator. :) I admire your friend, too -- I have a running calendar, and one month it says, "Finishing dead last beats not finishing, which is better than not starting at all!"