Saturday, November 30, 2013

Top 5 Items

The Turkey Trots are over, Black Friday is just a memory and the shopping days until Christmas are upon us.  If you have a runner that you are buying for...then I'm here to help you.  The top five things items every runner would want to find under the tree Christmas morning.

1.  Subscription to a running magazine or marathon/ultra publication (Runners World, Marathon and Beyond, Trail Runner etc)

2.  Entry into their favorite race

3.  Gift pack of inspirational running movies (1Hundred, Unbreakable, Running on the Sun, Spirit of the Marathon, Hood to the Coast etc.)

4.  Massage gift certificates

5.  Race medal display

Bonus Ideas:  

Race shirt quilt, a collection of favorite race shirts made into a warm soft quilt.

An autographed photo, or copy of a publication from their favorite runner/athlete.

Some of the best gifts to receive are the ones you would not have thought of or would have purchased for yourself.  These sure fire ideas will warm their heart, put a bonce in their step or lengthen their stride.  Either way you will be the hero come Christmas morning.


John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Richmond Half Recap

Signing up for the Richmond Half Marathon months before race day was really a second thought.  My fall goal race was the marathon at Niagara Falls.  All my focus was on scoring my first sub four hour marathon and roll into the remainder of my fall/winter schedule.  The half at Richmond would be at best a relaxing half to run along with my wife who would be fast walking her first half.  I placed no pressure and no real expectations on myself.  This lasted until around mile three.

PRE-RACE:  The week prior to Richmond was a real mental test, it was my birthday, our 23rd wedding anniversary and we lost our doggie Hanna to a mass/cancer on her spine…she had been fighting it and winning for nearly two years.  Then it came back, at just over 12 years old…we had to let her go.  By the time I entered the starting corral Saturday morning, standing in the cold, in the rain, and with a hole in my heart.  I was mentally beat.

Then something clicked, all the positive vibes of the other runners lifted me up.  Being in that mass of people, being in the center of all the positive energy, my spirit began to shine.  And honestly the thought of how much our Hanna loved to run, to be outside fueled me to want to run a good race, but I still had no goal, outside of just enjoying the run.

Erie Runners Club Turkey Trot T-Shirt (might be coolest shirt I own)
Black Race-Ready long distance shorts
NIKE Air Pegasus w/tech socks
Crawlin Crab hat
Garmin GPS 201
White gloves
knee strap

RACE:  Shorty after getting into my corral (Corral B) I noticed by chance that I was standing near the 1:45 pacer.  My luck with pacers lately had me considering backing up and running along with the 1:50 group after all I was not going to push it three weeks after my FIRST sub four.  But with the packed crowd, I decided to hang where I was and just see how this race ran out.  I did vow to NOT follow the pacer if he got off to a fast start.  My goal if I had one was to run a overall eight flat pace and be near my previous PB of 1:44:11 (2008).

Using a wave start the elites and A corral went off right on time and the energy within our corral picked up as we shuffled forward. I noticed there was a lot of bouncing and tapping of feet as we approach our allotted start time.  Minutes later the PA system was announcing that corral B would be going off in 3…2..1 Go.  We were off.  As common in nearly all races the start got off quick, I was being passed on all sides and yet I was running a solid eight flat…and still lost sight of the 1:45 pace within 50 yards of the start.  Why some pacers feel the need to have a HOT START is really bugging me.  But more on that later.  Through some heavy self-talk and replaying of my success just three weeks earlier…I cooled off my jets and ran a smart, yet slow opening mile.

Mile 1  8:25
Mile 2  8:06
Mile 3  8:07

 (Keeping focused)

Near the three mile sign I was really getting into a groove, to the point everything seemed perfect.  Normally in any race, something is just not clicking…but today all body systems were fully functioning.

Mile 4  8:03
Mile 5  8:01

Up and throughout mile 5 I felt really strong, and was trying to keep my pace in control.  As I would glance at my GPS nearly every time I would have to mentally tell myself to slow down.  I was trying to maintain an eight minute pace but would often see my Garmin display 7:50 or faster.  With the collapse at the Crawling Crab on my mind, I was determined to not flame out again.  The course was pretty flat, excellent crowd support and even with a chill and light mist in the air…the conditions were near perfect.  From the flat roads we headed into Joseph Bryan Park, a nice little inner city park, that although the course map said it was flat did offer some little but sneaky elevations changes.  I assume in hindsight, since this little section did offer some challenges I noticed myself getting up on the front of my shoes and attacking some sections…at one time seeing my GPS displaying 6:48…  What surprised me most was that at this point in the race it was easier to run a faster pace than it was to slow it down.

Mile 6  7:55
Mile 7  7:18
Mile 8  7:49

We left the park and headed back to the city streets of Richmond.  I was feeling really good about my position in the race, my breathing was good, noticing hardly any stress.  At about this point I noticed a few runners around me were really struggling, yet my conservative start put me in a great position.  I did have a challenge to overcome, somehow at this point my brain could not figure out how many miles I had left, 4, or maybe 3 no 6?????  Oh I hate math and math on the run…I’m lost.  But through all the mental fog, I knew it was time to attack the rest of the course.  I had set myself up in a great position and  It was time to run. It was time to claim the PB. 

From here on out it no longer was just a run, it was “Catch that runner in the yellow shirt, the orange shirt…catch that guy wearing no shirt!”  Every colored shirt in front of me became a target.  At one point I felt like an Olympic runner closing in on a podium finish.  And I ran hard…

Mile 9  7:28
Mile 10  7:34
Mile 11  7:22
Mile 12  7:27
Mile 13  7:31

If I have to say the finish was a big surprise…..No, it was the biggest surprise.    I was making great time coming down Grace Street, catching
runner after runner, then turning onto 5th street I saw the massive downhill to the finish.  My legs loved it as it was effortless to run but my mind hated it, a fear of tripping actually had me slowing down to not over stride.  I’ve run the full marathon a few times in the past, and I had heard they moved the finish.  BUT nothing got me ready for the massive downhill finish going onto Bellis Island.  An epic battle was ragging in my head, RUN FASTER….NO, slow down. Don’t fall….don’t listen to him Gump!  RUN. RUN. RUN FASTER!  But, Gee Wizz, Batman don’t fall down. 

Crossing the finish line, it hit me…I had just set a new PB for the Half…just three weeks after running my sub four.  After a terrible week…I found a few moments of joy.

FINNISH: 1:42:41


POST RACE:  Michele and our Dear friend Kendra, finished their half in 3h 11ms…a first for both of them.  All in all it was a great day.  Just don’t ask me how long it took me to find my car after the race… Hint: nearly as long it took me to run the race.  Not a happy camper but it was all my fault.  In the future I will pay attention to where I park!

(Michele and Kendra)

PACER RANT:  And I know they, the pacers, do this out of good will, and I know they have a lot more experience than me, but why have the last three pacers gone out so hot on the start of the race?  I fear they burned out a lot of the folks counting on them to achieve their goals?  At the Crawling Carb Half, the 1:45 pace group burned me out…I could not keep up the 7:40s they were running from the start and at mile 8 or 9, I was dropped.  OBTW an 8:01 will get you a 1:45 finish.  At Niagara Falls the four hour pacers went out so fast that they were out of my site early on.  Last seen they were dragging a big crowd with them.  I ran an opening 9:25 pace off a 9:10 target that will get you a sub four finish.  I caught them near mile 20 and the large crowd was reduced to a few suffering stragglers.  And here at Richmond, I caught the 1:45 pacers around mile 10 maybe 11 and again the large group that was at the start was gone.  I’ve got friends who pace people, I’ve got tons of respect for these people and I’ve read tons of success stories about how pacers ran perfect races helping other achieve their goals.  I ran behind a pacer at Shamrock, and he did a great job, I turned a PB.  But my recent experience points me to a thought that maybe these pacers (just the three I have crossed paths with lately) burned some people out.  Just my two cents…and yes I’m going to see if I can try my hand a pacing.


Marathon, Ultra marathon, 26.2, Half Marathon, 13.1, 10k, 6.2, 5k, 3.1, 50 miles, 100 miles, 24 hour run, 12 hour run, running, runner, jogging, jogger, sub 4 hour, Boston, Marine Corp Marathon, NYC, New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Richmond Marathon, Shamrock Marathon, Va Beach, Cleveland Marathon, Niagara Marathon,  Runners Diet, Weight Control, Hug A Runner Day, National Running Day, Runners World, Badwater 135, Leadville Trail 100, Western States 100, Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, Adventure Running,

Marathon, Ultra marathon, 26.2, Half Marathon, 13.1, 10k, 6.2, 5k, 3.1, 50 miles, 100 miles, 24 hour run, 12 hour run, running, runner, jogging, jogger, sub 4 hour, Boston, Marine Corp Marathon, NYC, New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Richmond Marathon, Shamrock Marathon, Va Beach, Cleveland Marathon, Niagara Marathon,  Runners Diet, Weight Control, Hug A Runner Day, National Running Day, Runners World, Badwater 135, Leadville Trail 100, Western States 100, Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, Adventure Running, 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Throwback Thursday

This is a letter I wrote to Runners World Magazine back when I became a runner!  Nearly 14 years later, 12,000 miles...I'm still going strong!  

I received an reply from one of their editors concerning this letter, they were going to feature it.  But after the first contact, I never heard anything more.

(Running on a Treadmill, Thule Greenland, 2001)

Runners World
33 E. Minor St.
Emmaus, PA 18908

MSgt Brian Burk
PSC 1501  Box 1223
APO  AE 09704
                                                                                                                                       1 Jun 01

Dear Runners World,
               I write you this letter from “On Top of The World” Thule Air Base Greenland.  I’m Master Sergeant Brian Burk serving on a remote tour in the United States Air Force.  I’ve been a runner on and off (mostly off) all my life.

               Serving in the military is a challenging profession but couple that with remote tours (one year separation anyway from family) and being constantly on the go it’s hard (at least for me) to stick with any exercise routine.  The result was gaining 30 pounds over 7 years and falling out of shape.  One day you wake up and say “Gee I’m not 29 anymore and boy I sure look like it”.  For me that day happened 03 Aug 2000 when I set foot at Thule Air Base.  Looking in the mirror I made a pac with myself to not leave this place the same way I got here.  The challenge: lose 30 pounds and get my life back (fitness wise).  Being in the high artic (900 miles south of the North pole) much of my running was going to be done indoors during “the dark season” on a treadmill.

               They say any journey begins with the first step; my first step was a hard fought 2 mile run last Aug.  Now after a Artic Fall, Winter aka “the dark season” (Nov till Feb in 24 hour darkness), Artic Spring (temps below –30) and our approaching summer (temps a mild 40 degrees) my 2 mile labors have blossomed into 20 mile long runs with monthly mileage averaging 125+.  I’ve lost 32 pounds, and regained my self pride.  Most importantly, although claiming to be a runner (jogger) all my life I now claim to be an athlete.

               What got me through this…well my family number one (e-mail is great) with guidance and inspiration from your magazine and on line site.  Every month I scan the pages looking for advice, inspiration and all the pictures of runners running outside.  After each successful long run my reward is to cut out a picture of someone running outside which I hang on my refrigerator.  Thank you for producing such a great tool.

               Running is no longer something I claim to do…it’s me.  I borrowed this from Lance Armstrong and tweaked it to fit my life style.

"This is my body.  And I can do whatever I want to it. I can push it. Study it. Tweak it. Listen to it. Everybody wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my treadmill busting my ass everyday.

What are you on?"


Brian Burk

(Near the end of my Thule Tour, Aug 2001)

Marathon, Ultra marathon, 26.2, Half Marathon, 13.1, 10k, 6.2, 5k, 3.1, 50 miles, 100 miles, 24 hour run, 12 hour run, running, runner, jogging, jogger, sub 4 hour, Boston, Marine Corp Marathon, NYC, New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Richmond Marathon, Shamrock Marathon, Va Beach, Cleveland Marathon, Niagara Marathon,  Runners Diet, Weight Control, Hug A Runner Day, National Running Day, Runners World, Badwater 135, Leadville Trail 100, Western States 100, Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, Adventure Running, 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weight Control

Running Has Helped My Weight Control.

Contrary to a recently published report on the HuffingtonPost, (Sorry but I have a hard time taking anything with the name Huffington seriously) on running and weight-loss, I do believe running is idea for weight control and in fact I offer my 5 ways running has helped me lose my unwanted pounds.

1. The Long Run. During a typical long run (15+ miles) I’ll burn anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000+ calories.  I average two long runs per month.  I don’t care who Huffington is…that equals weight-loss.  Now you have to be smart about it…you can eat your way through your long run with just one visit to whopperland, but if you stick to a sensible diet, sensible portions and work on getting in your long runs…you will lose weight.

2. I no longer view food as entertainment.  Since changing my view of myself as a runner, (Ultra-marathoner) to an athlete I now see food as a source of fuel and recovery.  I need fuel to power the machine and heal the body.  In the past a cup cake was a good snack…or a whole meal, today I balance what I eat to build a fuel supply for my next run/race or recovery from a hard work out.  And when I’ve been a really good Ultra-runner…I sneak in a cup cake here, an Oreo there.  You got to enjoy life some.

3. I eat better.  Gone are the days of living off Pizza, Pop Tarts, Fritos and full strength Pepsi.  Today I balance my meals for nutrient.  Being a picky eater most of my life, I resisted the attempts of others to get me to try food that was “good for me.”  Today the runner side of me has opened my world to a wider choice of things to eat.  I've tried new foods, new dishes, new styles of food, just because they were a good food source for an athlete.

4. I don’t just run, I train.  I hate to admit it, but I do just run…I don’t lift weights or do cross-fit or work on core.  I want to, but my life style is so limited on free time that when I have “the time,” I Run.  But I “train” while I run, if you run at the same pace, same distance every day, day in and day out, your body will get used to the effort your putting out and your weight loss will become stagnant.  I vary my run, and my training.  I run long on the weekends, and my week day runs are a mixture of speed, hills, tempo and recovery.  I also vary the distances I run, 15+ on weekends, double digit at least once during the week and maybe twice if I have the time and solid 7+ miles the rest of the week.  I average 5 to 6 days a week, covering 50 to 60 miles.  I also vary the training pace of my run.  Some days are fast, some days are slow…but normally every day I’m finishing at a pace faster than when I started.

5. The Competitive Edge.  My body is no longer just a vehicle that drags me around from place to place…it is now my weapon of choice to prove I still have it.  I've really focused over the last six months and lost 20 pounds.  I feel so much lighter during my training and especially on race day.  When I get on a scale it is not just to monitor my love handles, it is to check on the status of my racing machine.

Now I’m no fitness expert, I do not have a medical degree, I’m not professionally trained, I have stayed at many Holidays Inns, but I’m not a running expert.

(The Fat Face of Brian)  

I can only tell you what has worked for me.  And that is that Running, Endurance type running has helped me maintain my weight over the last 15 years.  I've had some up and down times over these years, and as soon as I stop running my weight control goes out the window and my eating habits go with it.  When I’m running my weight/eating habits are balanced.  And over the last year of focusing on Ultra-Running…I have really noticed a difference in my weight, my eating habits and my running performance.

(The Ultra Face of Brian, 
with my Honey)

It works for me!

Marathon, Ultra marathon, 26.2, Half Marathon, 13.1, 10k, 6.2, 5k, 3.1, 50 miles, 100 miles, 24 hour run, 12 hour run, running, runner, jogging, jogger, sub 4 hour, Boston, Marine Corp Marathon, NYC, New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon, Richmond Marathon, Shamrock Marathon, Va Beach, Cleveland Marathon, Niagara Marathon,  Runners Diet, Weight Control, Hug A Runner Day, National Running Day, Runners World, Badwater 135, Leadville Trail 100, Western States 100, Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, Adventure Running, 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hanna Doggie

12 years passes by so fast.  So very. Very fast.

Hanna Lizbeth, was FAMILY.

I’m trying to come to terms with the passing of a FAMILY member, it will be tough.  And I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say.

(Hanna, Oct 2004)

My Dear Hanna,
You were a wonderful doggie, friend, pal and FAMILY member.  We all will miss you more then you could ever know.  And are all thankful for the love you showed each and everyone of us.  You were and are a blessing from GOD.

Thank you for always being there with your cheerful puppy spirit, even when things were getting tough for you, you lifted our spirits with a look, a cuddle or just a small paw on our leg.  Your touch will be missed.

I will miss the funny little spin around move you did when it was treat time.

I will miss how you figured out which drawer in the refrigerator held the cheese.

I will miss how whenever Mom was reading you would find a way to wiggle your head right into her viewing path.

I will miss how you woke me up at night by breathing on my cheek.

I miss the way you LOVED to go to bed… us up the stairs.

(She won most of the races up the stairs, 2005)

I will miss how you thought my pillows were really yours….and my spot in bed.

I will miss how you would meet me at the end of the cul-de-sac after my runs and race me back to the house.  And when your body failed you, you still waited on me. Sometimes standing half way down the road,  at the end of the drive way, the yard, the sidewalk and later by standing next to Mommy.  

I missed that most yesterday!  I ran 12 miles in your helped me.

I will miss the way you loved your kids.

(Hanna, Anthony and Jessica, 2005)

I will miss your bark.

I will miss the way you played with your toys.

I will miss you sitting next to me on a quiet morning.

I will miss puppy cuddles.

I will miss our walks and how excited you got while we got ready to go.

I will miss the joy and unconditional love you gave us.

I will miss seeing you sitting with your Mommy.

I will miss you Hanna.

I don’t claim to know all about life, but I believe animals, especially Dogs have a spirit if not a soul.  And I believe that our creator God made the Garden of Eden to be a perfect place for his children.  In that garden humans had a relationship with GOD and domain over animals.  I believe we loved and cared for them during this time.  And I believe that when GOD restores the perfect world, that in this place there will again be animals.   For those of us that believe in JESUS, we will one day walk again with our GOD, And if heaven is the next perfect place,  I believe you went to be there.

Thank You GOD, for giving us 12 years with such a wonderful blessing.  I hope we cared for her the way you wanted us too.  She loved and took care of us!

(Hanna, July 2013)

I miss you Hanna and WE will forever love you,

Daddy, Mommy, Jessica and Anthony

Friday, November 8, 2013




The Monday morning after the Niagara Marathon, my wife and I loaded up our car, said goodbye to our good friends and proceeded to drive thru a little town on our way to the freeway.  As I was driving on a very dark street, something in our car headlights caught my eye.  At first I could not make out what it was, maybe one of the many trees that lined the road moved as the wind blew.  But then as I approached a little closer, maybe 20 feet away, I was finally able to make out what that movement was.  At first I was startled, two girls dressed all in dark clothes running shoulder to shoulder along the side of the road, and without a stitch of reflective gear.  That near encounter could have been ugly for all of us.  My first comment to my wife was, "wow those girls are crazy," then it hit me just how at risk they were.  I saw them in time, what about the next car or the next truck.  I was paying attention, what about the next distracted driver?  My wife commented, that she did not see them until we were right on top of them.


It is THAT time of the year again, daylight saving times, AKA Make Me Run In The DARK Time Of The Year!

A local running store held a Night Time Running Safety Night, I could not make it because of some "overtime" at work, but what a great idea.  

Thank You, Point 2, for reminding us to be safe!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Never gets old

Guess What Day It Is!

Go ahead call me a jogger again....

Yea, It will work....I Hope!

Monday, November 4, 2013

What is next

So What Is Next? Half-Marathon, Marathon, An Ultra, 50 Miler, 100K or 100 Miler?

With a little down time after the Niagara Falls Marathon, and my first sub four hour finish (3:56:57, just had to plug that one more time), I had a little time to lay out my end of the year and spring running plans.

I’ll finish up 2013 with the Richmond Half Marathon in Nov and the SeaShore nature trail 50k in Dec.  Both events are local races which I’ve run before.  My wife will be fast walking her first official half marathon at Richmond, so I plan to go out and get in my 13.1, finish fast then watch her cross the finish line!  After all she has supported me all these years.

After Richmond, it's a 50k at First Landing State Park and the SeaShore 50k, my third running of this event...a local Ultra favorite...and a great event.

After that it’s all about the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run in April.

December, although the end of 2013, the SeaShore 50k (31 miles), will be the first of the buildup runs towards the 100 miler in April.  

SPRING 2014, my training for the 100 miler will take up much of my focus and planning.

January:  The first official 100 miler training run will build off the Dec 50k with a 42 mile long run where I’ll run repeating laps around Noland Trail.  Noland Trail is a local favorite, a five mile trail loop, not known for monster hills, but hills that add up after each successive lap.  The idea here, run a course that mirrors Umstead where we will see the same hills/evaluation changes eight times over the course of the 100 miler.  This will also provide a prefect test for my fueling and race day pit stop plans. 

February:  With GOD’s blessings, we will welcome our newest grandchild into the world!  And on the running front, Feb. will feature a 52 mile run at a site yet determined.  Tentative plans may offer a visit to Umstead where I would get to run over the very same course as the Endurance run.

March: TEST DRIVE, all my fueling and night time running plans will be tested at the Graveyard 100kThe 100k course starts at Epstein St. Public Beach Access (Nags Head) at 3pm on Saturday March 8th. Then over Bonner bridge, down Hatteras island, through Hatteras Island Lighthouse park finishing at the “end of the road” on Hatteras Island adjacent to the Ocracoke Island Ferry and directly in front of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. 

April:  JUDGEMENT DAY, and the Umstead 100 Endurance Run, and if my body is still in one piece, the 24 Hour team event at the VA 24 Hour Run Against Cancer Ultra event during the ladder part of the month.

May…I’m resting

June:  A family visit to see my new Granddaughter and my grandson Aiden in Washington state.  I also plan to run the Mindermere Marathon in Spokane, on 1 June.

Other than some local races…my plate is full for the opening of 2014.