Posted on 24-07-2011
Filed Under (It's all about me) by Brian

Jenny over at Feet of Fancy nominated me for the 7 Links blog series. I’m honored to oblige, though it’s been hard to go back and look at all my posts to pick 7. I can’t believe I started blogging over 5 years ago! It’s fun to look at some of those old posts – like this one in which I considered a 6 mile run to be very long. I always find it a little inspiring to read my old posts because it reminds of how far I’ve come since I started. Before I get too sappy, here are my 7 links:

Me enjoying a trip through the Magic Kingdom on a cold day.

Most Beautiful Post: Us of Lesser Gods (July 15, 2011). Yes, this is a very recent post, but I couldn’t find anything more beautiful in 5 years of writing. My writing that is. I’m sure other people have written much more beautiful things in the last 5 years. The post explores the little slideshow visions of myself I had while preparing to start the 2010 Walt Disney World half marathon.

Most Popular Post: The 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon (July 18, 2007). Contrary to what you might think from the title, this post does not describe my experience in the Walt Disney World marathon of 2008. It was written in July 2007, almost 6 months prior to the marathon and it’s basically a walk-through of the marathon course, which at the time I had never run. I wrote the post as a way of envisioning what the experience would be like based on the course map and my many trips to Walt Disney World. At some point, the post ranked very high on Google when people searched for “Walt Disney World Marathon” – hence its popularity. Every once in a while, someone still leaves a comment on it.

Most Controversial Post: Barefoot Running (March 15, 2010). The post itself wasn’t horribly controversial. I just decided to give barefoot running a try and described my first few experiences running barefoot on the beach. I had some nice comments from people I knew (Lindsay, Bret, Glenn) and then a bunch of comments from people I didn’t know, who’d never commented on my blog before and never commented again. Many of them were quite smug and simply felt the need to use my blog as a platform for preaching their beliefs about barefoot running. I think a few of them never even read the post. Still, I got a decent boost in traffic for a while. Maybe I should be “controversial” more often.

Most Helpful Post: The Toe Raise (July 12, 2007). This post is about an exercise I started doing during a bout with shin splints. I suffered two fairly memorable bouts of shin splints when I first started running. I started doing this exercise in July 2007 and never experienced shin splints again. I’ve sent many people to the post in the years since and the exercise has helped them as well.

Post Whose Success Surprised You: Who the Heck is M.H. Alderson (July 27, 2007). This post centered around a quote by M.H. Alderson that I found online: “If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average”.  It was about a workout that I didn’t quite complete. I wrote the post and thought it was clever with its multitude of quotes, but nobody commented on it and I forgot about it. 3 years later, several members of M.H. Alderson’s family commented on the post to tell me exactly who M.H. Alderson was and to wish me well in my running career. It was a big surprise indeed and I enjoyed my brief correspondence with the Aldersons.

It still seemed like a good idea at this point.

Post That Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved: 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon: My Experience (January 13, 2008). While this post wasn’t exactly lacking in attention, the post I wrote about the Walt Disney World marathon 6 months before actually running it received 8 times the comments (see above). I’ve always thought that most of the people who commented on that post would have benefited more from reading about my actual experience – or maybe they did read it and were too grossed out to actually comment.

Post You are Most Proud of: 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon (January 12, 2010). It’s no surprise that I’m most proud of this post because it’s all about the proudest moment in my relatively short running career. I trained well for the race, but I had to overcome some difficulties in the beginning to beat my goal in the end. Best of all, I had an enormously fun time doing it! I think I had a runner’s buzz for a solid week after that race. I wish I could bottle the feeling that I had during 2010 Walt Disney World half marathon and take a sip whenever I’m having a bad day.

There you have it! My 7 links. Now I get to tag more people and pass it along. Let’s see who’s paying attention! I tag:

Lindsay from Chasingthekenyans.com

Megan from Runningtowardtheprize

Heather from Running With Sass

Kristen the SEO Runner


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Posted on 15-07-2011
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

The good thing about a road trip is that is gives you time to think and it reintroduces you to things you might have forgotten. On my recent road trip to St. Louis, Chicago and Savannah, I made my way through my mp3 player and rediscovered Flogging Molly. Sure, I’ve got a couple of their songs on my regular rotation, but it had been a long time since I got into the Irish mood and listened just to Flogging Molly for an hour.

The song, “Us of Lesser Gods” always brings back a flood of memories. It brings me back to what was undoubtedly the best moment of my running career. I woke up the morning of the 2010 Walt Disney World half marathon with doubts about my fitness and doubts about the weather. It was 29 degrees when I boarded the bus at the hotel – not the weather I expecting for a race in Florida. I was experiencing the usual pre-race nerves as I sat on the quiet bus. It was dark and it was cold and few people were talking. I placed my headphones in my ears and this is what began playing:


I know this probably sounds sappy, but my mind zoned out. It was like I was watching a slide show of still photos of myself. There I was running through cold, empty corn fields outside of St. Louis over the holidays. Then, a shot of me doing one of hundreds of fast laps around Crescent Lake Park. Next, me doing an 18 mile run on the treadmill in my parents’ basement. The non-existent still photographs flipped through my head as the music played and I set the song on repeat as the bus pulled away from the hotel and drove toward Epcot.

Eventually, the photos turned from my training and into the race itself. I saw myself running along the most desolate stretch of the course all by myself, chasing a small pack of runners ahead with the song playing in the background all the while.

Many things went wrong that morning. It snowed. Then, it sleeted. I was buffeted by a fierce headwind in the first 5 miles. I couldn’t find the pace group I wanted to run with. I ran the first mile 25 seconds slower than my planned pace. I was almost a minute off my pace by the time I came through the 5 mile mark. Raffi got misdirected by a volunteer and never made it to the finish line.

I might not look excited, but I was

When I entered the magic kingdom, the only visible runner in front of me disappeared around a corner on Main Street USA. Behind me, the road was empty for another 100 feet. For a fleeting moment, I had the crowd lined street all to myself and that crowd fed me enough energy to last the rest of the race.

I ran the 7th mile in 6 minutes, 20 seconds. When I was near the 9 mile mark, I was on the most desolate stretch of the race. I was running all by myself with a small pack about 100 meters ahead of me. A monorail passed by and honked its horn at us. The smooth violin began playing in my head and I realized the people in that monorail were seeing the same image of me I had pictured in the bus on the way to the start.

I caught the group by the ten mile mark and dropped most of them by the eleven mile mark. I entered the finishing chute with a huge smile on my face and crossed the line in 1:29:11 – 49 seconds under my goal.

The photographer never captures the right moment. I was definitely smiling when I came across.

The song always reminds me of that day and the images always flash through my head like a slideshow. Now, the slideshow always ends with me crossing the finish line with a big grin and my hands in the air.

You can read about the whole experience here.

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