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Susan Henderson – Margerine greased the skids to the Olympic Trials

by Don

I continue to thanks Dr. John Ratey for filling my sleepless nights with thoughts and musings about the significance of play. You can learn more (and maybe stop sleeping too!) by visiting I thought I’d share with you a YouTube video that Dr. Ratey referred to in his talk in Fort Collins. It is some photos and narrative about spontaneous play between the most unlikely of participants. Watch it and marvel.

It’s funny how things come your way, and I had a couple things happen this week along those lines. I had a friend put me in touch with Chuck Richards who, in his spare time, operates a business in Fort Collins, Colorado, whose purpose is to promote play and fun. The business is X-Treme Challenge, which was created by Kyler Storm, who once won the American Gladiator competition. A few years ago Kyler opened his training facility to groups, and he discovered that spontaneous joy broke out. This past week, I spent a few hours with Chuck, Kyler, and Kyler’s wife Candice taking a tour of the facility in Fort Collins. I got to try out some of the games they have created, and while I was aphehensive at first, once I took the leap, it was Smiles Central. To give you some idea what I’m talking about, I tried this one game where Kyler, Chuck, and I stepped into some very simple harnesses that were connected by webbing to a central chain that hung from the ceiling. We ran counterclockwise and what happened next was unexpected. As we ran, centrifugal forces we generated lifted us off the ground in totally unpredictable ways. I was being tossed around, flipping upside down, in a way that is hard to describe. It was wild and fun. See more at

I’m happy that I was able to suspend my ego and sense of self aside long enough to experience that. Got me thinking, maybe I should put together a PLAYshop, a workshop on play!

While I did hear back from Jack Lalanne that he could not write a forward for my book, it is still a funny coincidence that this past week I got an email from Terry Peterson (the unigeezer) telling me that he just tuned a piano for Jack Lalanne’s grandson. Go figure! Speaking of Terry, he is doing some wild stuff himself. Check out his latest video.

I also got a note from Barb Page informing me that she had won her age group in the Golden Heart Train Run, thereby clinching the Flint Hills Cup.  Barb also ran teh Equinox Marathon as part of a relay tea, called the “Groovy Grannies”, and you can see her photo album at 

Congrats Barb!

Below is the profile of Susan Henderson:

Susan a few years agao

Susan a few years agao

More recently

More recently

Susan Henderson is a 62 year old runner who lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Susan got her start in running when she saw an advertisement for Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s book Aerobics on the back of a margarine package. I’m sure she never suspected that margarine would play a role in turning her into a lifelong runner. Dr. Cooper’s program clicked with her immediately, and she began taking her young son to a nearby track, where she could keep an eye on him, and running. Before she knew it, she had improved to running a mile in 6:30. Susan then saw an advertisement for a Marathon and decided to try it, despite not knowing that it was 26.2 miles. She was hooked after that race, and went on to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the marathon in 1984. Susan still loves to run, and also enjoys cycling, hiking and lifting weights. Having had about eight years away from racing, Susan has set some new goals and is looking forward to doing some races.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

tom fuller November 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Susan Henderson was a terrific runner in Boulder/Denver in the late 70’s & 80’s
We ran in many of the same races and ran about the same pace. We ran a marathon side by side with another buddy for 24 when mile when Susan pulled off into the desert for a pit stop. Jack & I thought she was gone but she stormed back. Jack & I ran 2:42:37—Susan beat us! What nice woman

Susan Henderson February 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm

A brief reply to Tom Fuller from Susan: Tom, I remember that marathon so well, and I really remember running with you and Jack in many races. We really did all run about the same pace, and you guys pulled me along to some great times. Thanks for the nice memory. I hope you’re still out there pounding out some miles!

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