Posted on 22-04-2014
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

Having already launched the Interstate Challenge, Grand Slam Challenge and Hat Trick Challenge, DigitalRunning.com already had challenges that encouraged people to race different distances in different places. The next logical step was to challenge people to race more often.

I’ll freely admit that I struggled with this idea and considered scrapping the challenge. Excluding Ragnar Relays, I raced only 3 times in 2013 and I often encourage people to race less. Racing once per month for a whole year is difficult to do. In addition to crazy schedules, there’s injury potential and uncooperative climates to deal with. Here in Florida, it’s tough to find races in the summer. In Canada, they’re hard to come by in the winter. Racing the whole year calls for a special award.

Given the difficulty, I decided to split the challenge into seasonal increments. I thought it would be really unique to have four medals that connected together and such a “super medal” would be an appropriate reward for those who raced all year round. Unfortunately, I had no idea if it could even be done. I did a lot of research and couldn’t find anything like it. It was frightening and uplifting at the same time. I had the opportunity to be an innovator, but I had no idea where to begin. I had worked with two different medal companies for the first Interstate Challenge and the Hat Trick and Grand Slam Challenges. Neither of them seemed very interested in working with me on this project.

Through the Ragnar Relay Series, some employees of SymbolArts ended up on my email list. One of them reached out to me after receiving an email about the Grand Slam Challenge. One thing led to another and I was introduced to Dennis Molyneaux, their Florida sales executive. I shared my idea with Dennis and I was a little surprised to hear that he had thought about the idea before. Even better, he seemed really excited about it too.

Dennis presented 2 concepts. One was 4 long medals side by side with a tongue and groove design. The medals slid into one another, but there was nothing to hold them in place. It had been designed for a race series but never actually produced. From a design perspective, the medals fit together but they would have required tape or some other kind of adhesive to actually hold them together.


“The tiniest spark of an idea is no small thing. Even if born upon the tattered edge of a paper napkin, it may very well grow up to be the size of something special” – Walt Disney

The other concept was a very loose idea with the London 2012 Olympic logo as an example. Dennis cut the paper logo out and split it into 4 pieces with a centerpiece to connect the 4 pieces together. He didn’t know that I spent an entire week at a conference in 2007 listening to graphic designers rip apart that very logo shortly after it was revealed. I laughed when I saw it, but the connecting centerpiece was just what I was looking for.

I was certainly intrigued and my mind was racing, but it was September 2013 and I had other priorities on my mind. I had recently sold my house and I was packing like a madman. We had just chosen our first crew of ambassadors and I was about to expend a nice chunk of cash outfitting them with gear. I also needed enough cash on hand to fund the Tennessee Ragnar Relay team in late October. So, I switched gears and gave Dennis a test run with the 2014 Interstate Challenge medal.

I was at Walt Disney World for the marathon weekend in January with a suitcase full of Grand Slam and Hat Trick medals when I received a text from Raffi telling me the Interstate Challenge medals had arrived. She sent a picture, but it just looked a lot like the proof. She joined me the next day and delivered 3 Interstate Challenge medals. They were easily the nicest medals we had ever put our names to and they were very well received by the surprised ladies who actually earned them that weekend.

crops shot-contemporary

The first Interstate medals are awarded to some happy (and tired) ladies at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

Confident in SymbolArts, I began wracking my brain for some kind of theme. I couldn’t get off the “4 seasons challenge” idea, but creative ideas for the individual challenges were not coming. I came up with names like “The Autumn Quest” and “Old Man Winter’s Ultimatum”. Nothing was really coming together. So, I presented the concept to the DigitalRunning.com ambassadors and asked them for ideas.

My original concept art. I was at the graphic design conference in 2007, but I'm no graphic designer.

My original concept art. I was at the graphic design conference in 2007, but I’m no graphic designer.

Gigi came up with the “Time of the Season” concept and suggested a clock or an hourglass. I thought it had potential and I mulled it over for a while. I liked the idea of the clock and comparing the different seasons to different times of the day. It reminded me of my favorite book trilogies when I was younger: The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss & Tracey Hickman. The three books were called Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night and Dragons of Spring Dawning. I came up with a very rough concept and named the challenges the Spring Dawn, Summer Day, Autumn Twilight and Winter’s Night in homage to the trilogy.

One of our early proof revisions from Symbol Arts - the Summer Day medal originally featured a sand castle.

One of our early proof revisions from Symbol Arts – the Summer Day medal originally featured a sand castle.

The ambassadors really liked the idea so Raffi (who is a graphic designer) mocked up a much better concept that included a cut out rim with the names of the months on the top of each medal and the DigitalRunning.com logo as the centerpiece. We sent that off to SymbolArts. Their artist worked on it for a few days. What came back can only be described as overwhelming. There were five proofs with weird colors representing different depths. There was so much to see. I was excited and confused all at the same time.

I presented the proofs to the ambassadors. We all agreed that the centerpiece looked great from the first proof, but we ultimately went through about 5 or 6 revisions of the medals themselves. The Summer Day medal took the longest. When the other three medals were settled, I still wasn’t willing to sign off on the Summer Day. I just wasn’t in love with the sand castles.

I spent a week trying to think of something else to represent the summer. I don’t know what finally brought the palm trees to the front of my brain. Maybe it was a Corona ad. Maybe it was the fact that I live in Florida and there are hundreds of them growing in my neighborhood. Everyone was anxious to wrap the design phase up.

“Change the sand castles to palm trees and I think we’re finished,” I told Dennis. I was mostly right. When I saw the final proof of the Summer Day medal, I was ecstatic. It went from my least favorite of the 4 to my favorite.

I signed off on the proofs and crossed my fingers. Because of the nature of the medal, all of the molds had to be made in the beginning to make sure they would interlock even though I only needed the Spring Dawn medals right away. Dennis seemed confident that everything would fit together well, but I kept thinking about how it had never been done before. I was selling the fact that people would get this awesome “super medal”, and there was big potential for disaster if the centerpiece concept didn’t work out well. As with any start-up such a large failure in the early stages can easily be the end.

inside-separatedSo, you can imagine my relief 6 weeks later when Dennis received the medals from the factory and emailed photos to me. The medals looked fantastic and they fit together beautifully. When they arrived on my doorstep a week later, they looked even better. I’m very proud of these medals. From initial concept to production, it’s been a team effort. SymbolArts did a great job bringing the vision to life. I’m looking forward to being able to award them to runners in a few short weeks. There’s still time to sign up!



(2) Comments   
Posted on 01-12-2013
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

This has been a long time coming.

Since I first dreamed up DigitalRunning.com in 2007, I’ve been waiting for the moment when I would be able to pull on a DigitalRunning.com jersey for a race. In the grand scheme of things, it’s really kind of silly compared to everything that goes into developing a community of runners online. So, the available cash went to more important things like a more robust infrastructure for the website, fronting money for the challenge medals and travel expenses for our many events since launching the site in 2011.

Finally, our advertising budget and strategic plan came together, allowing us to recruit ambassadors to spread our message to a wider audience. Of course, those ambassadors need gear. Here’s what we came up with:





All of the gear is fully dye sublimated, meaning that the fabric itself is dyed. That keeps everything light while maintaining the wicking and ventilating properties of the garments.

We also came up with a fun vintage style casual cotton t-shirt:


Who gets to wear this stuff? I do! Of course, they were actually made for our ambassadors. In addition to Raffi, they are:

Megan from Running Toward the Prize.

Jennifer from My Frugal Wife

Gigi from Running on Candy

Kim from Barking Mad About Running

Tammy from Ginger Mantra

Laura from Running for Kicks & Giggles

We have extra T-shirts available for purchase for those who’d like one, but (for now at least) the tech gear is exclusive to the ambassadors. If you see one of them at your next race, stop and say “Hi”!

What do you think of the gear?






(2) Comments   
Posted on 10-06-2011
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

Digital Running Logo on a stickerRaffi had a few extra credits with Vistaprint left over from a Groupon she bought, so she made me some wicked cool Digital Running Club bumper stickers. I like the overall size, but the logo itself is a little small. I think a die cut sticker in the shape of the logo would be even better, but these are great considering she put them together quickly and they didn’t cost anything.

Last night, there was a 4 mile “social run” that left from Ferg’s, a local dive that butts up against Tropicana Field. I had a particularly frustrating day writing code and didn’t feel like going, but Raffi convinced me that it would be a good idea. We grabbed some Digital Running Club business cards and headed out to meet up with a few other friends.

At the bar, I met Cary who is a marketing coordinator for the Ragnar Relay Series. He’s not to be confused with Carrie, who is the Ragnar Florida Keys race director and his fiancee. Anyway, Raffi handed him a card and he chuckled. Apparently a few emails had been going around the Ragnar office about us and the team we’re putting together for the Tennessee Ragnar Relay. They like the concept, but they’ve been getting emails from people I’ve contacted wondering if we’re a legitimate company and they don’t really know how to handle those.

I certainly know where they’re coming from. They don’t really know much about me, so it’s risky for them to put their brand name on the line in telling people that we’re legitimate when in fact we might not be. We certainly are legitimate, but the scammers will tell you they’re legitimate too.

At least now, one of the Ragnar staffers can put a face to the emails going around the office! I had a lot of fun talking relay races and relay culture with Cary. It sounds like there may be Colorado and Texas Ragnar Relays coming our way in the not too distant future!

The rest of the evening at the bar was kind of lame. They raffled off some $18 water and there were some drink specials, but I left my wallet in the car and didn’t feel much like hanging around anyway. I was pretty tired.

(0) Comments   
Posted on 03-05-2011
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

Well, at over 2 months, this is possibly my longest blogging drought since the very beginnings of this blog. It’s not like I’ve been idle, though. I’ve had more than enough posting action over at digitalrunning.com. On the running front, I’ve been holding my own – averaging about 20-25 miles per week. It seems like the more coaching I’ve been doing, the the less I’ve been running myself. That needs to change, though since I’ve registered for the Disney Wine & Dine half marathon in October. I’m also seriously contemplating running the Goofy race and a half Challenge in Janury (that’s the Walt Disney World half marathon on Saturday and the Walt Disney World marathon on Sunday).

So, here’s the update:

Coaching: Going pretty well. The season is winding down with the Middle School State Championship this Saturday. Alice will be running the 1500 and 3000 along with her 6th grade counterpart, Olivia. John, an 8th grade boy will be running the 1500 as well. Alice and Olivia made it as far as the high school regionals. Olivia nearly broke the school record in the mile, running a 5:37 at the regional championships. Alice got her time down to 5:52. John missed advancing out of the district by 1/100th of a second, running a 4:56 mile at the district championships. They all have bright futures ahead of them.

On the adult front, I’m coaching Richie for the NYC marathon. He’s trying to break 3 hours (again). I think he’ll do it this year. He’s in really good shape. I’ve been giving him some pretty challenging speed workouts and limiting his racing. If he follows the training plan I’m giving him and stays uninjured, he’ll probably go under 2:55.  He’s running the Bay to Breakers in a couple of weeks. That’ll be a good test of his fitness.

Digital Running Club: Things are going well. People seem to like the articles and we’re up over 450 Facebook Fans. We’ve announced our first team experiences: The Disney Wine & Dine Half marathon in October and the Walt Disney World marathon weekend in January. The response of people signing up for the teams has been nice and I’m having fun putting together training plans for all these people. I can’t wait to meet them in person at the races!

We’ll be officially announcing our November Tennessee Ragnar Relay team in the next few weeks and we plan on doing 5 Ragnar Relays in 2012 – del Sol, Napa Valley, NW Passage, Great River and Tennessee.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. What are you all doing?

(3) Comments   
Posted on 04-02-2011
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

I’m still alive, despite my lack of posting. I’m sure you’re all eagerly awaiting the photos from the 2011 Florida Keys Ragnar Relay, but you’ve waited a whole month, so what’s another week?

Okay, maybe I’ll drop one in just for fun:

Team "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Run" celebrates at the finish. From left to right: Sara, Yours Truly, Hunter, Raffi, Peter, Daphne, Irish Pat, Danna, Lindsay (hand in face - thansk Jim), Tim, Jim, Colette (hand in face - thanks Jim), Taryn. Behind the camera - Britt.

I’ve been a lot busy this week, but just wanted to drop a note for the millions two who are waiting to see my Guide to Running for Beginners. It is now live at DigitalRunning.com. So, on that note I guess there’s a bit happening in my life that I haven’t been disclosing:

1) I launched digitalrunning.com this week. The idea behind it is to provide an online resource to everyday runners. It’s starting out as a series of articles and columns, but will quickly evolve into a platform from which we’ll launch fun and educational offline events (destination races, running camps, team relays, etc). Tentatively, the first such event will be in late September/early October. It will involve wine, famous mice and an unlucky number of miles. Stay tuned for that.

2) I’ve been coaching a 300+ pound woman named Barb for the last three months. She’s lost a lot of weight, reduced her blood pressure, gotten off one of her medications and hasn’t missed a workout I’ve given her yet. Her first article about her experiences is here.

3) I took a position as Assistant Track Coach at a local private school. I’m in charge of the distance (1600 m and 3200 m) runners. I’m coaching a lot of great kids student/athletes and the practices have been the highlight of my day over the last two weeks.

(3) Comments   
Posted on 07-12-2010
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

Alright loyal readers, it’s time for some feedback.  I’ve had some ideas about online tools I want to build for the running community, but I’m curious to know what people are actually looking for.  Is there anything missing?  Is there something that could be better?  So, if you all don’t mind taking a little time to reply to my little survey in the comments, please do so.  I’m very interested in your thoughts.

1)  What online tools do you use now?

2)  What online tools would you like that you don’t have access to now?

3)  What is the biggest obstacle to your experience as a runner online?

4)  With regards to running ,what is your favorite type of content to view online?

5)  With regards to running, what kind of content is missing online?

6)  Do you have any other comments?

I’ll start the ball rolling by answering the questions in the comments…

(7) Comments   
Posted on 17-04-2009
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

I know there are quite a few of you out there who use heart rate based training methods.  Since my methods are based primarily on race performance and prescribed paces, I’m a little clueless about how you plan and log runs:

1)  How do you plan your runs?  Do you try to stay between some minimum and maximum heart rate?

2)  When doing tempo runs or intervals, do you plan a warmup in a certain zone, then intervals in another zone with recoveries in another zone?

3)  When you log your runs, what do you record?  Min heart rate?  Avg heart rate?  Max heart rate?

4)  Do you prefer to log heart rate information for each phase of your run?

I think that’s all I’ve got for now.  The more responses, the better.  Thanks.

(4) Comments   
Posted on 17-12-2008
Filed Under (Digital Running) by Brian

I hit the treadmill today for 5 miles before a 1 hour strength training session. That, of course was no milestone. In fact, I felt somewhat sluggish during the 5 miles at 9:05 pace…just a bit of a “hangover” from yesterday’s threshold work I suppose.

The true milestone has to do with a website I’ve been working on (less than I’d like to be) for much of the year. If you’ve been a longtime reader, you’ve probably heard me mention in passing that I’ve been working on a social network for runners. Today, I completed the portion of the site that allows users to insert their own custom running plans. It took me much longer than I would have liked, but a lot of the architecture for the whole site is built into this potion of the site. So, things like the training log should take quite a bit less time by comparison. It would be really cool to have at least an alpha version of the site available by this summer, but we’ll have to see how things go. It’s entirely funded by our graphic/web design business so my ability to work on it depends on my client load at any given time. I’ve resisted the temptation to go after venture capital since the thought of selling it or going public aren’t very palatable (even if the site doesn’t exist yet).

Although it seems small, today was a big step in the process. In addition to just a social website, the “Digital Running” concept will include a nationwide team of runners. I truly can’t wait until the day I pull on the Digital Running Jersey and run a race sponsored by my own company. Speaking of which, the logo is still in flux. I was initially thinking a circuit board with the silhouette of a runner coming out of it, but I haven’t really liked any of the rough concepts as yet. So, I’m open to new possibilities. Suggestions from my virtual running buddies are certainly welcome (and encouraged). I do like green and black as colors, though.

(5) Comments   
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