RunningHi there! I’m Debbie, a wife, mother, dog-mom, athlete, and vegan, trying to maintain my sanity and sense of humor as I deal with the changes and challenges brought on by life and time.

I live with my husband in La Quinta, which is in the Southern California desert east of Palm Springs. We share our home with five six a lot of dogs and two cats (my adult sons moved out long ago). One interesting fact about Alan and Debbie:  We met and three years later got married at the Palm Springs Tram Road Race. Yep, right there on the finish line, I in my white satin running shorts and lace running bra, Alan in his morning coat and running shorts. Oh, and yes, we did run the race before our wedding.

In 2012 I was blessed with a beautiful grandson named Samuel. He lives with his parents in Southern California, fortunately only a short drive away.

I ran my first marathon in 1996 (Honolulu), and since that time, I’ve run about 35 more. I just recently ran number 36, alongside my husband Paris Marathon(running his 66th!) in San Diego. While my time has slowed over the years, we had a great time, took a lot of pictures and even sang along with some of the bands along the course. My best time ever was 3:17, in the St. George (Utah) Marathon when I was 41 years old. A long time ago, but I’m still pretty proud of that effort. My favorite marathon, though, has to be Paris. We’ve run it twice, both times with camera in hand enjoying the 26.2 mile tour of the city of lights.

I have been a personal trainer for about 15 years and I am currently the fitness director at a fitness center located inside a country club in Rancho Mirage. I’m also an RRCA and USATF certified running coach.  In addition to private clients I coach cross country at Palm Desert High School. It is very time consuming, but also very rewarding. It is satisfying to know that you can make a difference in the life of a young person.

Alan and I are also studying for our real estate licenses. We think that will open up some exciting new doors for us. Teaching fitness and running will always be my first love though!

It has been over seven years since I switched to a plant based diet for ethical reasons, first as a vegetarian, then gradually over the years cutting all animal products out of my diet. I love to create new recipes (and share them here, of course!).

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  1. Stacy says

    Great blog! Found it as I am looking for cycling routes in the La Quinta/Palm Desert area for this weekend. I need to get in 5-6 hours. Any suggestions on safe routes/roads?

    Hope you are enjoying San Diego, my home town. You’ve certainly hit all the good places to eat! Congrats on the La Jolla Half!

    • says

      Thanks, Stacy! If you’re used to riding in the SD area, you’ll find the whole desert pretty safe, especially if you like low traffic, decent roads, few stop signs, and even fewer traffic lights.

      I have a 70 mile route posted on mapmyride: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/1533661 I’m not sure how helpful it will be because I don’t think I did a route slip to go with it (long time ago :-), but it’s pretty straight forward. I also have a 97 mile route there, if you’re interested. I usually head out my front door, do a loop of the La Quinta Cove, then head east, sometimes as far as the Salton Sea.

      It will probably be hot this weekend, so get an early start!

  2. says


    I write about La Quinta for the Desert Sun and I’d love to talk to you for a story. Would you mind calling or emailing me directly so we can chat one-on-one?


    (Last name & contact info removed for privacy)

    • says

      Thanks, Tony, I appreciate the feedback. I would love to have a small part in encouraging fitness.

      I really like the Technogym equipment. Over near us at Mission Hills, they have a Kenisis Wall, which a few shared members have raved about too. I don’t think we have the space for that, but when the time comes I would certainly look into purchasing Technogym.

      I don’t know if you saw this, but when I first joined the La Quinta Fitness Center, I raved about the Technogym equipment.

  3. says

    I am a new blogger and fellow LQ resident. Had the pleasure of having a fast chat with your kind husband who directed me to your site. He is Very proud of you. I advised him I am new to blogging and started writing a book. I have met some great new friends along the way. Adding your site to my blogroll. Kellie

    • says

      Hi Kellie,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog! I see that you are relatively new to La Quinta. I, too, grew up in Orange Country (in Los Al). I’m happy to find your site. I’m sure it is really helpful for people with Celiac Disease, and these days everyone is interested in cutting some of the gluten out of their diet.

      I see you have found the new La Quinta Fitness center too! We love it, and what a bargain! I wonder if we have been in there at the same time working out.

      Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I have returned the favor 🙂

  4. says

    Loved your story. I became a vegetarian 20 years ago. (I’m from Texas, so it wasn’t easy. HaHa!) The only way I knew I was going through menopause was that I stopped having a period. I had no symptoms whatsoever. I attribute most of that to my diet. Some people say it’s hereditary, and I say, NO WAY! My mother had a horrible time with menopause. I say it’s being a vegetarian. Now, I’m trying to become a vegan, and am doing pretty good, although not perfect.

    I hooked up with you on Twitter, and I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed your website.

    • says

      Hi Paige,
      I’m glad you found your way here! I’ve never been to Texas, but I can imagine the challenge begin a vegetarian there, especially 20 years ago. I read your post about Larry Hagman, which made me thing of Dallas and all things Texan, which seems more about 16 oz ribeye steak than tofu steak.

      I think of veganism as a journey and some of us get there faster than others.
      Debbie recently posted..A Change of PlansMy Profile

  5. says

    Debbie – I love that I found your site through the wonderful interwebs 😉 and FitFluential community. I am a fairly new ambassador myself, but a lifelong athlete and wellness warrior. Your story resonated with me for a lot of reasons, not least of which is that I am an aspiring vegan athlete 😉 I just went vegetarian earlier this year but know I want to get to vegan some day soon. Also, I used to live in 29 Palms! Small world ’cause there are NOT a lot of people who live out there! haha 🙂 Anyway, I just wanted to drop in and say “hi,” and tell you that if I can EVER help you or enhance your mission in any way, please let me know. I am a public speaker now (after serving 7 years in the USMC) and I love to mentor and coach youth. I was a big time runner through high school when I decided to focus on soccer in college and ended up playing for (and captaining) the US Military Olympic Women’s Soccer Team the last 5 years. Maybe one of the times I”m back out in Cali there’d be an opportunity to speak to some of your athletes? 🙂
    I commend you for your accomplishments, your passion, and your heart to share with and inspire others!:)
    In friendship and servant spirit,

    • says

      Hi Sarah, I’m so happy that you stopped by! It has really been amazing in the short time since I became a Fitfluential Ambassador how many inspiring, wonderful people that I have have “met.”

      I’m always to excited to hear that someone is planning to adopt a vegan lifestyle. It is a journey really, but one that is so rewarding, both in health benefits and the psychological benefits that come from living cruelty free. If I can help in any way during your transition, please let me know. I am happy to help.

      It would be awesome to meet you if you are ever in the area (something else that has happened since I became Fitfluential, the word awesome seems to have reappeared in my vocabulary :-)). I would love to have you speak to my athletes!

      Thanks for your compliments. It is you who should be commended, first for your service to our country, now for your continuing work with young people.
      Debbie recently posted..Molly Thorpe, Leader, Coach, Mentor, Teacher, HeroMy Profile

      • says

        Hi again Debbie – Thank you for your incredibly (awesome LOL) response. I don’t think I’ll be back in the Palm Springs area until next February, so we’ll have to keep in touch between now and then. I’ll be in Vegas in early October and LA in early December, but I know that’s still kind of a hike from the desert. Anyway, lets keep talkin’, though, and see if something works out to meet your student athletes! 🙂
        PS How have your 31 min for 31 days of activity gone?? 🙂

        • says

          Hi Sarah,
          First of all, how are you doing? I’m afraid to say that after you got hurt, I kind of fell off the 31 for 31 challenge. Not that I’m not active, but, you know, I do it on my own schedule, which means some days I do 120 minutes and some days, nothing.

          I’m so sorry that you won’t be able to make it out here. February is getting into track season, though, plus the Palm Springs 1/2 marathon in that in February too. Even if we can’t work it out with the kids, I’d love to meet you.
          Debbie recently posted..Wednesday Workout: Cross Country CircuitMy Profile

  6. says

    My husband and I also became vegetarians in 2007, still not vegans, but are lacto vegetarians. We also just recently became grandparents. I used to run in my 30’s, but now only walk and hike. We have made hiking trails on our farm. I found your website by looking up gluten free.
    Jerri recently posted..Quick SketchMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Jerri, thanks for stopping by. I’ve been exploring all the wonderful drawings on your site! You are very talented!

      How fortunate you are to have actual hiking trails on your own farm. I’m pretty lucky too because I have trails within a half mile from my house.

      Sometimes I think it might be time to hang up my running shoes and slow down a bit, but then I always think maybe next year :-)).
      Debbie recently posted..Weekly Reader: Christmas Shopping InspirationMy Profile

  7. Mary Carroll Bean says

    Hi Debbie ~ I just read a response of yours in Runners World and decided to write (nothing to do with the article). I am a runner, teacher, vegetarian ( mostly) and live in La Quinta. I am a recent New York transplant who is struggling with the changes in running conditions/habits as well as dealing with the “m” word and the “d” word, all in one year. I’m nearing my 55th bday and training for the LA 26.2. I hope to find suggestions and inspiration by reading your blog. Thank you, Mary

    • says

      Hi Mary, It’s nice to meet you! I’m glad you found my blog. I love hearing from people that live in La Quinta. Maybe we’ll meet running along the trails! I hope your training is going well. I haven’t done the LA Marathon for a long time (way before they changed to the current course).
      Debbie Woodruff recently posted..#MNBChallenge: Week Two. DeliciousMy Profile

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