Posted on 30-06-2007
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

I was surprised to wake up at 8:30 this morning, my legs ready to do some running. I headed over to the Pinellas Trail for my first “long run” of 6 miles.

The route starts at 22nd Ave.  I park in the Tyrone Square mall parking lot, don my headphones, my sunglasses and my trusty white cap, and head across 22nd for a 10 minute warmup.  I walk 5 minutes southward on the trail, then turn around and walk back toward 22nd.  With about about a minute to go, I start jogging.  I jog back across 22nd, start my chronograph as I cross between the steel posts that keep cars from driving on the trail, and I’m off.

I enjoy my music as I cruise by the mall at a steady pace.  I cross the first mile marker at 8:35.  Not quite on pace, but not bad.  Another 100 yards or so up, I stop at the drinking fountain and take a quick drink.  I walk for a couple of seconds to make sure I get it all down, then head up the first pedestrian bridge of the day.  There are two  pedestrian bridges on this route and I’ll cross them both twice.  They are fairly steep, but not very long.  I cruise up the first one without much trouble.  At the top, I’m breathinig faster, but I slow my pace just a little and regain my breathing rhythm.  By the time I’m down the other side of the bridge, I’m doing just fine.

At the bottom of the bridge, I stop briefly to avoid being run over by someone turning into Walmart.  I quickly run across the shopping center entrance, then up the second pedestrian bridge.  This one is a little longer and I’m breathing very heavy by the time I reach the top.  I look to the right and see Don Pablos below me.  A margarita sounds good and I’m starting to think of taking a walk break, but I keep running down the other side of the bridge.

A few hundred yards ahead, I can see the cross bayou causeway and the 2 mile mark.  I tell myself that I can take a walk break at the 2 mile mark.  It’s a little sooner than I really wanted to, but at least as long as I lasted on my tempo run Wednesday.  I try to tell myself to run halfway across the causeway before my break, but the slight incline up the causeway does me in and I start walking. 

About halfway across the causeway, I start running again.  The causeway is surrounded by water, so there are no trees to protect me from the sun and it’s starting to take its toll a bit.  By the time I’m across the causeway, I’m feeling very tired.  It’s my legs that are killing me more than anything.  Because of that, my form is suffering and I’m expending more energy.  I think of taking another walk break at the end of the causeway, but an athletic couple turns around a few hundred feet in front of me.  My pride keeps me running down the incline.  Around a small bend, they are out of sight and I think of taking a walk break again.  Off in the distance, I see the 95th Ave crossing and the 3 mile point.  I convince myself to keep running.

This long straightaway travels past a KOA campground.  Behind a thin line of trees, people are milling about their cabins and RV’s.  Someone is frying bacon and the aroma permeates the whole area.  Normally, I’m a big fan of bacon, but the smell makes me gag.  I reach the 95th Ave crossing, turn around and start walking.  3 miles completed.

I plan to walk for 2 minutes, then start running again, but 2 minutes passes and I can’t convince myself to even jog.  I walk another minute and then start running.  I plan to run back across the causeway and walk again at the 4 mile mark.  My body has other plans.  Running up the small incline to the causeway, I’m completely out of breath again.  I want to walk again, but I’ve only been running for about 2 minutes since my last break, so I start using the causeway’s expansion joints as motivation.  I reach the first one and convince myself to run to the second.  At the second, I convince myself to run to the third.  At the third, I’ve caught on to my own little charade and I start walking.  I’m about 1/3 of the way across the causeway.

I walk the rest of the way across the causeway, taking in the smell of oysters and other rotting marine life left on the sides of the causeway by pelicans and fishermen overnight.  The end of the causeway marks 4 miles.  I’ve been on the trail for about 40 minutes.  I’m averaging almost 2 minutes per mile slower than my plan, but I have no hope of making that up in the next two miles.

Motivated by the water fountain just before the 5 mile mark, I start running again and soon begin climbing up a pedestrian bridge.  My glutes and hamstrings are burning and crying for another walk break.  I make it to the top of the bridge and walk to the other side, passing Don Pablos again on my left.  Now, water sounds much better than a margarita, but sitting in the air conditioning looking at one wouldn’t be so bad.

I start running again on the downhill side of the bridge.  On my right, I pass a billboard for Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  My thoughts go to January, when I’ll be passing the real thing 16 miles into the marathon.  I think about the last time I rode Everest.  I feel the breeze rushing by as I’m screaming backwards down the track.  The thought leaves me as I hit the bottom of the bridge and the trails flattens out again.  I race past the Walmart parking lot and an older woman who appears to be about to take a run herself, but is presently just standing in the middle of the trail looking at me.

I’m running at a good pace when I hit the last pedestrian bridge.  I cruise up to the top, my glutes and hamstrings feeling the burn again.  I reach the top tempted to take a walk break, but I just slow my pace to an easy jog and continue across the bridge.  I speed up again downhill and I can see the water fountain ahead, but some bastard on a bike with 5 fishing poles and 6 plastic bags is sucking up all the water.  By the time I make it to the fountain, his bike is there, but he’s off in the trees peeing.  I gulp up a good bit of water, and walk for about a minute until I reach the 5 mile mark.

With good intentions of making the 5.5 mile mark, I start running again very glad that the marathon isn’t until January.  The straight away is long and there is no shade.  The sun is beating down on me.  The trail makes a very slight incline as it curves toward the 5.5 mile mark.  The incline forces another walk break.  I walk for about another 2 minutes.  I walk past the 5.5 mile mark and with about .35 miles left, I can see 22nd Ave in the distance. 

I start running again, determined not to stop until I’m finished.  I run past a family getting on their bikes for a late morning ride.  There is a little confusion as the little one tries to gain her balance even with training wheels.  I run past the morning delivery at the shoe store.  I speed up as the steel posts get closer.  Finally, I cross them.  I weakly thrust my arms in the air as though I’ve just won a particularly grueling mountain stage of the Tour de France.  I glance down at my watch.  I finished in 64 minutes – a 10:40 average pace.

Planned workout

6 miles running at 8:05 pace

Actual workout

10 minute warmup

6 miles running/walking at avg 10:40 pace

10 minute cool down

I’m a little disappointed with the average pace.  I knew I would have to take walk breaks, but I was hoping I wouldn’t have to take one until I had hit the halfway point.  Still, the run marked the longest I’ve ever gone in a single training session – a personal record which will be broken almost every weekend between now and January.

I drank a bottle of water on the way home, and had a banana as soon as I walked in the door.  Then, I stretched and took an ice bath.  Actually, it wasn’t much of an ice bath.  The four trays of ice just didn’t do a whole lot in our large bathtub.  It was very cold, but next time I think I’ll get a bag of ice from the grocery store.

Hopefully next week I’ll be able to make it 3 miles before a walk break, or maybe even to the halfway point.  In any case, week 1 is over.  Only 28 weeks to go.


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Posted on 28-06-2007
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

Today was a cross training day and I used it for a little strength training.  One of my new favorite exercises is the single leg deadlift.  I actually found a very educational video about it on YouTube, but it unfortunatly has some annoying ads going across it:

With about 37 seconds left in the video, he does the single leg deadlift with a dumbbell in each hand.  That’s the way I do it.  The exercise primarily works the hamstrings and lower back, but doing it on one leg also strengthens the stabilizing muscles that are important for balancing your body while you’re running.  The exercise was first recommended to me as a way to help prevent my IT band syndrome from flaring up again. 

If you’ve never done it before, I highly recommend trying it without any weight first.  It looks like a pretty easy exercise, but it’s a little deceptive.  Keeping your balance can be a challenge the first few times.  I’ve seen people do it on unstable platforms.  I’d like to work up to that, but I’m not ready yet.

My light routine for today was as follows:

Strength Workout

10 minutes warmup (stationary bike)

2 sets of single leg deadlift on each leg

2 sets of single leg extensions on each leg

2 sets on the adductor machine

2 sets of standing abduction with an elastic band

I meant to work my abs today too, but I completely forgot.  Tomorrow is a day off, then Saturday is my long run.

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Posted on 27-06-2007
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

The great M.H. Alderson once said,

“If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average.”

The trouble is that I don’t know who the heck M.H. Alderson is/was, so my description of him/her as a great person should probably be taken with a grain of salt.  I’ll confess that I found that quote last night in preparation for not completing my first tempo run this morning.  Now, I’m sure that there are plenty of quotes that go along with that attitude, such as:

Positive thinking will let you do anything better than negative thinking will.”

       -Zig Zigler

or this one:

A man is but the product of his thoughts.  What he thinks, he becomes.”

       – Mahatma Gahndi

So, if I thought I couldn’t make it, did I become the guy who can’t make it?  Sort of.

Planned Workout

1 mile warmup

3 miles at 7:35 minute mile pace

1 mile cool down

Actual workout

1 mile warmup

2 miles at 7:35 pace

.25 miles walk interval

.75 miles at 7:35 pace

.9 miles cool down

Location: Treadmill at 2.0 degree incline.

Now, last night I told myself that if I could make it a mile and a half before taking a walk break, then I could be pretty happy with myself.  You see, this whole workout is based on a 5K time that I achieved way back in October.

He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

       – Benjamin Franklin

Screw you, Ben.  What’s your excuse for that big belly? 

Anyway, as I was saying I thought it would be nice if I could make it 1.5 miles before the walk break.  Once I finished the warm-up and started into the actual 3 mile tempo run, I began to think I could make it 2 miles.  Actually, I didn’t really think it, I knew it.  You know how you tell yourself stuff sometimes, but you don’t really believe it?  This wasn’t one of those times.  The thought briefly entered my head and I knew it was true.  When I passed the 1 mile mark, I was definately sure of it.  So, thats how far I made it.  I took a quarter mile walk break, then finished the 3 miles off at 7:35 pace. 

I’m pretty sure that if I were to do the same workout next Wednesday, I could make it the whole way.  Of course, next Wednesday, I have to do a slightly different tempo run.  It felt good to make it 2 miles at that pace.  I haven’t been able to do that since last October.  I’m not too worried about the walk break at this point.  Although two miles is a far cry from 26.2, I’m only in the first week of the training and this particular program is only to establish the baseline pacing for my 18 week marathon training anyway.  Still, I’m focusing on giving it my all.

It’s a long way to the top, if you wanna rock and roll.”

     – AC/DC

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Posted on 26-06-2007
Filed Under (Food) by Brian

I tried out a new fish recipe last night.  Basically, I modifed a recipe I found at foodfit.com:


4 Flounder fillets



Sesame Seeds

Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Orange Juice

1/4 Cup Lemon Juice


1)  Season the flounder with salt and pepper on both sides.  Sprinkle both sides with sesame seeds.

2)  Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat on medium-high heat.

3)  Slide the fish fillets one at a time into the heated oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side (until the fillets are golden brown)

4)  Remove the fillets from the skillet and keep warm.

5)  Reduce the heat of the skillet to low and add the two juices.  Cook and stir the juices until they make a thick sauce.

6)  Pour the sauce over the flounder fillets and serve.

Nutrition Facts 

Serving size: 1 fillet (makes 4 servings)

Calories: 213

Fat: 7 g

Protein: 23 g

Carbohydrate: 15 g

Fiber: 3 g

Saturated Fat: 1 g

The fish was quite good.  I’ve made Flounder with a lemon butter sauce before and this was just as good, if not better.  Of course this citrus sauce is much healthier.  I served the flounder with brown rice for extra carbs.

Today, the FIRST 10K training program called for cross training.

Planned workout

Cycling: 10 minute warmup, 30 minutes at 80-90% max heart rate, 10 minutes cool down.

Actual Workout

Cycling: 10 minute warmup, 8 minutes 70-80% max heart rate, 22 minutes at 80-90% max heart rate, 5 minutes cool down.  Total distance travelled: 15.3 miles.

Location: Stationary Bike on level 6 (whatever that means)

This workout went well.  I tend to enjoy the cycling workouts as I’m able to zone out on the bike and just pump my legs at a pretty constant cadence.  I haven’t achieved that state while running since I was at the peak of my 5K training program last September.  In any case, It took me a good 7-8 minutes to get my heart rate up to 80% of the max, so I may have to up the difficulty level next time.  That’s a good sign as it was already an improvement over my cycling workout from last week, so hopefully this increased cardiovascular fitness will transfer to a better run tomorrow.

I’m scheduled to complete a 3 mile tempo run at 7:35 pace tomorrow.  I’m not incredibly confident I’ll be able to complete it without a walk break, but we’ll see how it goes.

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Posted on 25-06-2007
Filed Under (Training) by Brian

Although I have until September to start my “official” marathon training, I’ve decided to follow the “Finish with FIRST” marathon training program developed at the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training.  All FIRST programs center around completing three key runs per week, coupled with cross training and rest days.  The key runs include:

1)  Interval runs at a relatively fast pace

2)  Tempo runs at a moderate pace

3)  Long runs at a relatively slow pace.

The 18 week plan calls for me to complete one of each of the three key runs per week, never running on consecutive days.  The interim days are filled with cross training (3 days a week) and complete rest (1 day a week).  The pacing of the 3 runs is based on my most recent 10K finishing time.

Therein lies the problem…

I’ve never run a 10K.  Fortunately, I have some time to correct that.  Unfortunately, there are no 10K races locally between now and September, when I’ll need to start the marathon plan.

So, I’ll be running a simulated 10K all by myself in early September.  To prepare for that I’ll be using the FIRST 10K training program.  This one is a 12 week program (I’m going to have to cut a week out) with a similar theory, but based on my most recent 5K time.

I’ll post more about the whole 10K program later, but today’s workout was the first.  It involved eight 1/4 mile intervals.  Based on my 5K time from last October, I was to run 1/4 mile intervals at 6:35 mile pace, followed by walking rest intervals. 

Looking at the training plan, I’m a little concerned about the longer runs, but I figured I could handle this one no problem.  I was wrong.  This workout really kicked my butt.  My hamstrings and lower back were sore from a stength training workout I did on Saturday, so that made things tough.  I did complete the workout as prescribed, but the last 3 intervals were pretty tough.  Here’s how it went:

 Workout: Intervals

Planned: 8 X 400m at 6:35 pace with 400m walking rest intervals

Actual: 10 minute walking warmup, 8X400m at 6:35 pace, walking rest intervals, 10 minute walking cool down.

Location: Treadmill on 2.0 degree incline.

I ran the first two intervals with perfect form.  During the next four, I  started with perfect form and ended rather poorly.  The final two intervals were a bit of a struggle to stay on the treadmill (I was never worried I’d fall off, but I must have looked like I was struggling to hold myself up).

Anyway, if that was the easy one, then I don’t have high hopes for Wednesday’s tempo run.  Tomorrow is a cross training workout on the bike.  I’m very much looking forward to it.

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Posted on 24-06-2007
Filed Under (It's all about me) by Brian

Some say that the difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry form.  If that is the case, then I am a runner.  Compared to the average person, I’m in pretty good shape.  Compared to the average runner, I think I’m probably below average.  I spent most of my teenage years playing volleyball.  My legs took a pounding and it was good exercise, but it never fostered the kind of endurance that even a 5K requires.

I played football in high school too.  Though I was one of the smallest guys on the team, I was also one of the fastest.  Unfortunately, my hands of stone precluded me from being a receiver, so I spent my time grabbing on to the other teams’ receivers (and holding on until they fell down) as a defensive back.  My sophmore year football coach was also my geometry teacher and the varsity track coach.  I remember sitting in geometry class one day before the bell rang.  Coach May was studying something in earnest.  Suddenly, he looked up at me.

“Brian,” he snapped, “out in the hall.”

“Oh shit,” I thought, “I don’t remember doing anything stupid.  Did I miss a step in my proof of the pythagoream theorem?  Is this about that blown coverage in last week’s game?  The receiver dropped the ball in the end zone.”

Out in the hall, he leaned in toward me and looked me squarely in the eyes.

“Do you play baseball?”

I wasn’t sure I had heard him correctly.

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Do you play baseball?”






“You ran the 40 yard dash in 5 seconds flat….running flat footed.  I’ll teach you how to run the right way and you’ll really fly.”

“I play volleyball in the spring, coach.”

He grabbed his heart with both hands and leaned back away from me with a pained look in his eyes.  He groaned.  In his litany of spring season sports he had forgotten volleyball.  In fairness to Coach May, it was a forgiveable omission as boys volleyball wasn’t technically a sport in the state of Missouri at the time.  It was, rather, a “club” implying that we just met everyday after school to talk about volleyball and volleyball related issues instead of actually playing games against other schools’ clubs.  In any case, there was no way in hell he was going to get me to join the track team.  Volleyball was my life.

I had been playing volleyball since the sixth grade and I was one of the few boys in the area who had been playing so long.  In the sixth grade I was 5’9″ tall.  I’m 31 today and I’m 5’9…and a half.  It should have been obvious that day in the hall that the world was catching up to me and my days as a volleyball player were numbered, but it didn’t.  I hadn’t noticed that I was now the shortest guy on the court.  I was standing across the net from 6’5″ fully mobile trees.

Sometimes I look back and wish I had taken Coach May up on his offer, but I’m pretty happy with my life as it is so why change any of the things that got me here? 

I finally ran my first race in February 2006 at the age of 29(a 5K through downtown St. Petersburg) and I enjoyed every minute of it – all 28 of them.  Determined to improve my time, I ran a 5K every other day on the treadmill until my second race in April.  I finished in 24 minutes.

Over the summer, it actually occured to me that other people have been running this distance for quite some time (and knew more about training for a 5K than me) so I decided to download a 10 week 5K training plan from Active.com and faithfully followed it, running my next 5K race in 22:28 the following fall.

Afterwards, I took a few weeks off and returned to a more advanced workout in an attempt to break the 20 minute barrier in February (cue triumphant montage-esque music).  During my first workout in that plan, I developed a sharp stabbing feeling in the side of my knee (cue dark, foreboding music).  It was the dreaded IT band syndrome lashing out at me.  I tried to pick up the training plan a week later, but after about a mile of running, that sharp pain kicked in and I had to stop.  Finally, I gave up running altogether for about 2 months.

In late March, I started running again.  I began by running one mile at a time at a relatively fast pace.  By “fast”, I mean a 7:00 minute mile.  After I completed a week of that without even a hint of pain, I worked my way up to 1.25 miles at the same pace.   This went on for about four weeks until I could comfortably run 2.5 miles at a time without any pain whatsoever.  By that time, the running season in Florida was over.

I’ve always been a Disney freak.  I know this seems like a ridiculously abrupt change of subject, but stick with me, it all comes back around.   When I say Disney freak, though, I’m not talking about collecting little ceramic Mickey figurines and Cinderella posters.  More specifically, I’ve always been a very big fan of Walt Disney World.  Growing up in St. Louis, my parents used to take my brother, my sister and I to Walt Disney World every other year.  We all have very fond memories of this time. 

So, I was lucky enough to find a woman who not only agreed to marry me, but also enthusiastically agreed to go to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon.  We’ve since moved from St. Louis, MO to St. Petersburg, FL – a mere 80 miles from Walt Disney World.  Notice I always refer to it as “Walt Disney World”.  That’s its proper name – not “Disneytown” or “Disneyville” or “Wallyworld”.  Occassionally just “Disneyworld”, but never “Disneyland”.  That’s in California and I’ve never been there, so it can’t possibly be as good.  That’s how big of a snob I am.

So, the whole point of this blathering about Walt Disney World is that even when I started running, I often said that I never wanted to run a marathon….but, if I ever did, it would be the Walt Disney World marathon.  Eventually, I subscribed to Runner’s World magazine and I’ll be damned if you can’t read a few issues of Runner’s World and not want to run a marathon.

Still, that’s a long way to run, so after being inspired by the April issue about the Boston marathon, I decided that maybe I’d register for the Walt Disney World half-marathon next year.  We have annual passes now, so it’d be a great getaway for the whole family.  I tucked that thought in my back pocket.

While in Atlanta for a design conference, I met a woman name Mara from Colorado.  When I told her I was from Florida, she mentioned that she’d be there in January.  She’s running a marathon.  I knew instantly that she must be running Disney.

“That’s cool, I’m running the Walt Disney World half-marathon, “I said.  Actually, that’s not true.  I said “Disney half marathon”.  I had already had a few drinks.  She informed me that she had already run a half-marathon and then excused herself for a smoke.  I’ve never run a half marathon and I’ve never had a smoke.  Well, except for those two Cuban cigars, but I didn’t inhale.

Upon returning home from the conference, I decided that it was certainly time to sign up for a half-marathon.  So, I decided to register for the Walt Disney World half-marathon right then and there.  I pulled up the website.  Scrolled through the marathon weekend activities and found the registration area. 


It turns out that there are a lot of other people who decided to run the half-marathon next year.  I don’t have to worry about them all finishing in front of me.  They’ve all beaten me to the starting line and there’s no room left for me.

Undaunted, I decided to run the full marathon instead.  What the heck, right?  Once you’ve run 13.1 miles, what’s another 13.1? 

What follows is the rest of the story.  I’m not sure how it will end, but the fact that this blog exists and that there are people that I know who know about it means that I can’t slack off on my training without taking a lot of flack for not completing what I set out to do.

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