Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 A Running Year In Review...

Best Running Moments for 2011

1.  Completing 5th Marathon on my birthday!
2.  Long runs with friends, sharing life one step at a time, thank you Susan, Jon, Lloyd, Josh W, Josh H. Josh F. Tommy and Misty!  Let’s do it again…
3.  Finishing a 50K (31 miles), even thou everything in my body and mind wanted to quit.
4.  Surpassing my yearly mileage goal even with a slow start.
5.  Seeing and enjoying my wife getting back into power walking some events.

But by far the most rewarding running event for me this year, all started with a simple conversation.

One Sunday morning at church, Josh W and I were talking about his up-coming marathon, when a friendly lady with a big smile joined our conversation.  She was very pleasant and introduced herself as Susan, and asked do you guys run?  Josh explained that he was training for an up-coming marathon and that I was helping him along with some words of advice.  I replied that I had run a few marathons in the past but for some reason or another I was in a running slump.  Susan said she would love to run a half marathon but hated to run long distances alone. 

You have to understand up to this point I was pretty much a loner when it came to running.  I had been running since 2000 and nearly all of my 7000 miles were run alone.  99% of my miles were run in solitude.  But today something very uncharacteristic of me made me say…I’ll run with you.  If I remember right, we next exchanged phone numbers and made plans to run the following Saturday morning on the Noland trail and we parted ways.  If I’m 100% honest I was not looking forward to the following Saturday.

My running slump had been dragging me down, some where along the way I had lost the drive to run long distances.  Without a real goal I was plugging along running 50 miles a month where once I had been averaging 150.  Truth be told, I needed something to give me a kick start.  Saturday came, I got up early, put on my best running gear (at least I could look the part) and headed to the Noland trail.  Climbing into my car, I still was not looking forward to this run.  All kind of negative thoughts were collecting in my mind…would Susan be on time, could I really train someone to finish a half marathon, how slow would she be running, would she talk my ear off and do I really want to run today.

I pulled into the parking lot 25 minutes early…and no one was around.  Figuring maybe I would get lucky and no one would show I turned up the music in my car and chilled out.  Within minutes Susan arrived, no getting off the hook today, after a few good mornings we chatted a little and headed out on our first run.  During this run Susan shared with me her story…being a five year breast cancer survivor, over-coming Rheumatoid Arthritis and now she was running.  Hearing how she was battling through her challenges inspired me and I began to open up.  And just like how the Grinch’s proverbial icy heart melted, my running heart began to catch fire and beat once again.  We talked about things like pacing, feeding during long runs and a plan to get her to her goal the Half Marathon.  After our first run together, I was in, I was sold, I was committed and looking forward to our next run.

One Saturday morning rolled into another, 5 miles blended into 8, 8 miles became 10 and finally we ran a long run of 12 miles.  I had provided as much training and advice as I could give and I got back a spark that had been missing for a good long time.  I was no longer just logging miles, I was accomplishing something with each labored foot step.  We selected the Inaugural Half Marathon “Run for the Dream” in Colonial Williamsburg, Va for Susan’s first half and I joked that a full marathon would be next.

Over the next three months we put in a good amount of quality miles, and all was going well.  Then a few weeks before the race, Susan was handed yet another challenge.  She came down with Achilles tendonitis.  After seeing a doctor, she was given a clean but painful bill of health.  She could run the race but the doctor warned her that she would be in a fair amount of discomfort.  At this point, nothing was going to get between Susan and her goal.  A few days of rest and race morning was right around the corner. 

Race morning was a near perfect day.  We met up with friends, lined up at the start in the center of Colonial Williamsburg, and with the firing of revolutionary war muskets we took off.  Most of the race is a blur…I focused more on keeping us on our pace then the race itself.  I had told Susan to not worry about anything but staying with me.  The only point of the run that I remember with any given detail is from mile 12 on to finish.  Susan had run a good race, we were on our pace but it was a hard course run on a hard aggregate surface over rolling hills, and it has a very humid day.  We approached mile marker 12 and I was feeling a bit zapped myself…but we were rolling along when Susan said “Brian, I don’t like you right now” I remember I chuckled and said something like, “that’s fine, but keep by my side…your not going to stop.”  We continued on and at the 12.5 mile point I began cheering Susan along trying to give her a little extra zip, “You’ll never get to this point in your life again…in a short distance you’ll finish your FIRST HALF MARATHON.”

The race finished inside the stadium of William and Mary College with a closing lap on the quarter mile track.  The soft track surface was rewarding to our feet and running along side Susan as she approached completing her goal was very rewarding and emotional for me.   As we closed in on the final turn “the home stretch” I had to fight back a cracking voice and tears welling up in my eyes as I rolled out words of encouragement.  Susan was less then 50 yards from beating the odds and I could not have been prouder of her and humbly myself.  She set off on a course to meet her goal and I opened myself up to another runner, another human being and was able to share a significant milestone in her life.  Susan received a nice shinny medal for running 13.1 miles.  I received a good friend for investing in someone other then myself, after 13.1 miles we will be forever linked.

I have a feeling Susan will not like me again….we are training for the Shamrock FULL Marathon…and it all started with a simple conversation.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Running Bucket List...

In life you have got to have goals, without your just running in place...

My Running Bucket List:
Run a race in all 50 states (9 down 41 to go...)
Run 50 Marathons (5 down 45 to go...)
Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Run

Niagara Falls Marathon
Cleveland Marathon
Erie Marathon
Grandma’s Marathon
Air Force Marathon

Whats on your bucket list?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Questions people ask me?

When people find out I run and run a lot they ask some interesting questions:

Why do I run?
I have no idea, I say so I can eat, and that is true but I do enjoy the simple side of just putting one foot in front of the other.

How many miles do you normally run in a month?
Well that depends, if I’m training for an event or not.  If I’m gearing up for a marathon I try to keep my mileage over 125 miles…the most miles I’ve run in a month is 176.

How do I start running?
I’m not a coach and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn last night.  But I will say this….start slow, listen to your body and follow one of the many “approved” training plans out there.

How do you avoid injury?
Listen to your body…rest is just as important as the miles your logging, when you need a day off take it, I follow a 10% rule, do not jump your mileage or run distances more then 10%.  Get the right shoes for your feet/stride and do not push yourself to far today and pay for it tomorrow.  It takes much longer to recover then it did to get injured.

Do you listen to music when you run?
NO……I like to hear the world around me, I want to hear the car before it kills me.

Can I run a marathon?
Yes, if you have the desire, if you have the time to put into training…you can run a marathon.  I would say that all training plans recommend you have a solid fitness base before you attempt a marathon.

Where is the most interesting place you have run?
I spent a year at Thule Air Base, Greenland...600 miles above the Artic circle and 600 miles below the North Pole.  I spent a lot of my running time running indoors but when spring hit and I was able to get outside...I went on a few adventure runs.  During one run I ran from Thule main base up to the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site (BMEWS) and along the Ice-Pack.  Once in a life time run....later they told me there where Polar Bears on base.  Gee thanks!

My full running blog can be read here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ten people I would like to run with.....

1.  JESUS – My Lord and Savior, if you don’t know JESUS drop me a note.

2. Bernie Kosar – Favorite all time Browns player

3. Lance Armstrong – 7 time Tour de France Champion

4. Paula Radcliffe – Athens 2005, I felt her pain.

5. My Uncle Johnny – Never really got to know him, a runner.

6. My Father – Long, long sad story here…..

7. Phidippides – Is the Marathon legend true or not?

9. Snoopy – Come on, this would be a fun, fun run.

And last BUT not least.  MY wife…... 

Who would you want to run with?

My full running blog can be read here:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The NBA has their official 94 feet regulation sized hard wood court, the MLB baseball diamond is measured out at 127 feet from baseline to baseline, and the NFL gridiron is 100 yards from goal line to goal line.  These sports all play on one standard sized playing surface.  With running and racing you have a selection of distances in which to compete.  No one size fits all approach here.  A runner can decide to challenge themselves in the more traditional 5 Kilometer race, step up to the 10 Kilometer, and or a Half Marathon.  And if you really want the ultimate test, fitting the Greek legend Phidippides, you can run “THE Marathon.”  Or if that is not punishment enough you may try your hand (or feet) at an Ultra event found at distances exceeding 26.2 miles. No matter what the distance, there is a run for you.  But which race is right for you?  Just as there are different lengths to run, each runner has his or her own idea of which is the best race.  I’ll do my best to give you my impressions of the different races.  I’ll explain what I liked, what I did not like and why I run the ones I do.

5 Kilometer (3.1 miles) – The 5K is normally the entry level race for most new runners and it can be a fun yet highly competitive event.  These shorter races offer a manageable distance yet provide a good test of your fitness.  One of the reasons they are so popular is that they are over in a short period of time and are planned for early in the mornings.  These races offer you a chance to get a race in and be home early in the morning.  On the training side anyone able to squeeze in 3 runs a week for 6 to 8 weeks can easily get into shape to run a 5K.  As for the race itself….there’s not much in the line of strategy.  This race will test your legs ability to weather the storm.  If you want a good time, you need to run full out from the gun.  On the plus side the effort/pain only lasts a short amount of time.  The gun goes off and away you go.  I like running 5Ks, I get a good gauge of my “true” fitness and yet the pain does not last for long…I can take anything…for a short amount of time.

10 Kilometer (6.2 miles) – The bigger brother of the 5K is the 10K….and I hate this race!  Just like the 5K if you want a good time…you pretty much have to go hard for the majority of the race.  The goal of a well planned 10K is to run negative spilt times (faster on the second half).  Although longer then the 5K, this race is not long enough to make up any lost time on the front side.  Now the reason I hate this race is because of the level of pain.  If you want a fast time, you must run hard, the pain is more intense and AND it lasts twice as long.  Can you say lactic acid….I think you can.  I’ve run a bunch of 10Ks over my 11 years and I can honestly say I’ve only run one “good” race.  I normally go out to fast and can’t carry the pace for the closing 5K.  On other occasions, I’ve gone out to conservative and can’t make up enough time at the closing bell.  Now on the plus side, like the 5K these races are normally planned for early morning and you can be home before the kiddos or the puppies are awake.

Half Marathon (13.1 miles) – You’ll get many different thoughts/opinions on this subject, but to me this is the first of the “strategy” races.  At 13.1 miles in length….unless you’re a world class runner capable of running at full performance, most recreational runners use “pace and strategy” to help achieve the desired finishing times.  I enjoy running the Half Marathon.  Compared with the previous shorter races, where you’re running all out from the gun, “the Half” offers you an opportunity to plan attacks at favorable portions of the course.  This is a race where I feel like I can attack the course and plan my run to get me into a running zone and chip away at the clock.  The training involved in jumping from the 10K to “the Half” is not that great, throw in a few long runs and you’ll be ready to run your local Half.  The little sister to “THE Marathon” is also a race when you can count on a nice bag of running swag.  I may not stand on an Olympic podium, but I can rock the local swag.  On the down side, the Half Marathon is a long run and it hurts to run long distances, can’t say it any another way. But just as it is a negative I find that I enjoy “the Half” because that pain comes on slow.  Not sure about you, but I can endure a lot of pain…as long as it comes on slow.  A caution to newbie Half runner: this is where the big race crowds begin to show up.  Even the local Half Marathon draws crowds into the thousands.  With a field this big, it is very easy to get caught up in the excitement/energy of the crowd and go out to fast.  And when you’re running with a few thousand of your closest friends, it’s very easy to burn up a lot of energy trying to work your way to some open road.  If you’re able to mange both of these distractions, this is a great, fun race.  This is also a race where your performance, pacing and smart running can get you a great time.  With 13.1 miles…it offers you a lot of miles to leverage your pacing to eat away at the clock.  
THE Marathon (26.2 miles) – THE Marathon, just the name of this race envisions the physical struggle of a runner vs the road.  And for years this race was reserved for the truly fit, the truly competitive and the truly dedicated runner.  But with the running boom of the 1980’s and the marathon explosion of the late 90s/early 2000s a ton of recreational runners (half million annually) are running THE Marathon.  I’ve run Five marathons and I’m still amazed that I was able to go from run/walking my first miles to running FIVE MARATHONS!  And this is my favorite of all races for three reasons.  #1 It’s a MARATHON, Hello #2 It’s an EVENT not just another race and #3 the SHOCK FACTOR when you tell someone you run Marathons.

 On the race side I enjoy the marathon because it offers you the ultimate challenge.  This race is a 4+ hour (depending on ability) war against, the course, the weather, the clock, the road (surface) and the thousands of other things that can go right or wrong over 26.2 miles.  The best advice I ever heard was “PLAN the run and RUN the plan.”  For the Marathon I feel you must have a race day plan.  You must map out your plan of attack with both short and long term goals.  And your plan must include what to do when things go wrong, because they will.  

The best warning I received about THE Marathon was “You can’t fake a marathon” 
On the negative side, the length of the race forces you to “LIVE WITH” any problems that creep into your run i.e. stones jump into your shoes, elevated heart rate from going out to fast and the always loveable “belly issues.”  And unfortunately if these issues come out early, you get to live with them for a long, long time, but you can survive.  

On the plus side the length of this race gives you plenty of time to make up any lost time early on.  If you plan your run within your abilities and manage to stick with the plan, when the wall comes and it going to come, it will not be the defeating blow of legends.  I ran two well planned runs where I stuck to my pace and did not allow anything to upset my plan.  And come wall time, I found myself passing people as their bodies gave out at a much faster pace then mine did.  I could actually feel a lift in spirit and energy knowing I was on course for my goal.  Plan the run, Run the plan….and visit the wall not go crashing into it!

Another great advantage to running THE Marathon is you get an insiders tour of the host city.  I once read “there’s no better way to see a city then to run (walk) the streets.”  Well THE Marathon offers you 26.2 miles of some of the most scenic sights the host city has to offer.  And whether it be Richmond’s Monument Ave, or the Greenbelt of Strafford-Upon-Avon, I’ve found that some of these sights I would have never experienced without running THE Marathon.

Ultra-Marathons  I tackle these events at a later date.

 My full running blog can be read here:

Friday, December 2, 2011

Running Mind Dump….

Random thoughts that come into my head while running down the open road. (I’m borrowing this format from

-- Even thou I’ve just completed a marathon, 26.2 miles…the first mile of any run is always the hardest.

-- I hate the beginning of the month when my running log has a great big fat "0" for my total.

-- Who would win in a race Superman, “the Man of steel” or the Flash “the Fastest man alive”, I think the Flash would….he was/is my favorite comic book hero, I’m a DC guy.

-- People drive way to fast in housing areas, there are kids playing, dogs chasing cats and an old guy running around here!

-- There is no better feel for my feet then the first run on a new pair of shoes, Nike Air Pegs for me! (Dear Nike, How about a sponsorship deal?  Or at least some discount coupons…)

-- No matter how buff I get, I’m not wearing running tights…..some things guys just should not wear. (ah skinny jeans……I’m just saying)

-- Bizarro World thought of the week, Chuck Norris has NOT run a marathon, Oprah has.

-- Night time running thought of the week….Was that a dog or a really big monster?

-- Vain thought of the week, do I look like a runner or just some old guy who jogs?

-- Dieting thought of the week, how many more miles for a Klondike bar?

-- Man a nice cold Mike’s Hard Lemonade sounds so good about now!

December makes me shiver and includes my first 50k (31.1 mile) Ultra Marathon.  I’m going into this run, considering it more of a supported 20 mile training run then a “race.”  I plan to run the first 20 miles at marathon goal pace, and then run walk the last 11 miles to make a 6 hour completion goal. Can I do it?  And more importantly…how many Klondike bars is that?

My full running blog can be read here:

You are a Super Hero to someone!  Run on......