November
21
Posted on 21-11-2013
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

Hi.

I haven’t posted to this blog in almost a year and let’s be honest – I didn’t even write that last post.

Sure, I could blame my lack of blogging on my two teenage daughters, my full time job, my adventure founding an internet start up, my time spent coaching high school cross country and track & field, or the fact that I’ve spent the last 8 months fixing up my home, selling it, moving out of it and my commercial office space to move into the nicest homeless shelter in the city of St. Petersburg (a friend’s house) while completing the purchase of my new home. All of those things played a role in my lack of blogging time, but it was mostly how I was handling them that got in the way of blogging (and living).

I pride myself on being dependable and with all of my responsibilities, I lived in constant fear of “dropping the ball”. My mind was so full of things that needed to be done that I was having a lot of trouble focusing on what I was supposed to be doing at any given time. If you’ve ever tried to run too many programs on your computer at the same time and your computer slowed to a grinding halt or eventually stopped because it ran out of memory, you’ve got an idea of what was happening to my brain. I ran out of time to actually do things because my brain was too busy processing what I needed to do!

I had a calendar and I had an inbox and I had a desk full of piles of things that needed to be attended to. But, the things in those piles didn’t necessarily need to be attended to immediately and some tasks in my inbox couldn’t be completed for several days so they stayed in my inbox until I started ignoring what was in my inbox because it wasn’t immediately useful. Then, I started worrying that I was going to miss doing something that needed to be done because it was buried at the bottom of my inbox.

While searching for design ideas for my new home office, I came across a book by David Allen called Getting Things Done. I listened to the audiobook while painting the house and then read the whole thing while on a long flight to a recent Ragnar Relay. Just beginning to follow the system outlined in the book has immediately increased my daily productivity, reduced my stress and created more time in the day to relax (and blog). Here’s what I’ve done so far:

1) Created a filing system for anything that was in a random pile.

I went through all of the random stuff on my desk, on shelves, in drawers, etc. Some of it was no longer relevant. I trashed that. Some of it was useful reference information that I didn’t really need at arm’s length. I categorized and filed that stuff in an alphabetical reference file. Some of it was stuff I wanted to do someday, but couldn’t act on any time in the foreseeable future and did not want to forget about. For that, I created a “someday/maybe” folder which I can review on a monthly basis.

tickler

My tickler file in its temporary “mid-moving” location.

2) Created a “tickler” file.

A tickler file is a series of 43 file folders. 31 of them are labeled with the numbers 1-31. The other 12 are labeled with the months of the year. The tickler file contains tasks that should be completed on a certain day, but don’t necessarily require a specific time. This helps keep my calendar clutter free and for specific appointments only.

The numbered folders in the file are ordered from lowest to highest with that particular date in front until the last day of the month, which is followed by the next month’s folder and all of the previous day’s folders, which are in turn followed by all the rest of the “month” folders in order. As I write this, it is November 20th. Today, I received an email that informed me that the early bird deadline for the Great River Ragnar Relay is March 1st, 2014. I’d certainly like to register for the relay before that deadline, but I’d also like to start recruiting the team in January. So, I write a post-it about the deadline and stick it in the February folder (to give myself some lead time). I also write a post it note telling me to start recruiting the team and stick it in the January folder. I can then remove the email from my email inbox and file it in a folder for the 2014 Great River Ragnar Relay.

Next, I remember that I need to return the cable boxes from the house I just moved out of to the cable company before the end of the month. I look through the 21-30 folders, find one that looks fairly empty and stick a post-it telling me to return the cable boxes inside.

Every morning, I open the folder for that day (today it was the “20” folder), dump the contents into my inbox and place the folder behind its previous day’s folder (in this case the “19” folder). When I reach the “30” folder, I’ll also check the “31” folder (to make sure I didn’t accidentally put something in there since there are only 30 days in November) and move both of them behind the “29” folder. The next folder I find will be the “December” folder. I’ll open that folder and see what’s inside. Some of the things will go into my inbox immediately, but most will be distributed into the numbered folders that follow. The December folder will then be placed all the way in the back of the file, and I’ll process the numbered folders on a daily basis.

3) Empty my inbox daily.

I have 2 inboxes – my physical inbox and my email inbox. I make sure to empty them both daily. When processing items in either inbox, I first ask myself if the task it represents will take 2 minutes or less to complete. If so, I do it. If not, it either needs to be delegated or deferred. If it needs to be delegated, I send it off to whoever needs to do it. If it needs to be deferred to later in the day, it stays in the inbox. If it needs to be deferred longer, it goes in the tickler file.

If it’s not a task, it gets filed in the appropriate spot. The brochure for the Viking River Cruises goes in the “someday/maybe” file and the closing documents go in the “house” reference file.

Anything remaining in the inbox should be completed that day.It gets ordered by priority and those tasks get completed. If something is left in the inbox at the end of the day, it’s placed in the tickler file for the next day (or later).

wunderlist-screenshot

Wunderlist is cloud based. Whether you use the phone app, the web app or both, your lists always go with you.

4) Created a series of electronic lists

Using a free cloud based service called Wunderlist, I’ve created a series of lists that are accessible from pretty much anywhere. These lists might include groceries, errands I need to run, things I might want to blog about in the future, etc.

Let’s say I’m sitting at my desk and my wife calls. We discuss dinner and decide to have lasagna. I know that we don’t have any tomato sauce. I open up my grocery list on Wunderlist and add tomato sauce. Later, when I’m at the grocery store, I just pull out my phone and look at the grocery list. As an added bonus, Wunderlist makes it easy to share lists with other users, so my wife could add items to the grocery list and they would appear on my phone when I’m at the grocery store (or vice versa).

Or, let’s say I’m at the running store and I have a great idea for a blog post. I can just pull out my phone and add the idea to my “blogging” list. Next time I’m ready to blog, I can just look at the list on my laptop, grab a topic and start writing.

I’m getting pretty good at tackling most of the tasks that come at me on a daily basis. I’ve still got to get more organized in the project management arena. I’m currently re-reading the projects section of the book to get my large projects broken down into smaller tasks that fit neatly into the system.

Although this is a long post, I don’t do the whole system justice. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and not as productive as you think you should be, I highly recommend checking out the book yourself. You can most likely find it at your public library and you can expect more frequent blog posts from me in the future.

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March
29
Posted on 29-03-2012
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

I ran my last marathon in February 2010. It’s been roughly 25 months. Late yesterday morning, I was browsing through some posts on the “Bling Whores” Facebook group when I suddenly forgot how much marathon training sucks. I forgot about Saturday afternoons lazing around on the couch or dragging my butt behind my wife at the grocery store because I ran an insane number of miles earlier in the morning. I forgot about what it’s like to not have any free time because it’s all spent running.

Woe is me. No bueno.

I forgot that the first time I tried to run a marathon, I limped for 8 miles, then spent 5 quality minutes in a port-a-potty before limping another 19 miles to the finish line (my limping caused some meandering) before limping through a maze of Powerade tables, food tables, photo areas and finally a baggage tent where I was greeted by my family and another quarter mile limp to a bus.

I forgot that the second time I ran a marathon, I was cruising along like a champ well on my way to the goal time before I decided that consuming my last gel seemed like too much effort. I forgot that my calves cramped up at mile 24. I forgot the sound of the voices on the crowd lined street and the man who said,

“He’s cramping, honey! Look, he’s cramping.”

Only half as far? Muy Bueno!

I forgot that I long ago decided that the half marathon is my favorite distance.

I thought for a brief moment, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to run the Walt Disney World marathon this year?”.

And the thought didn’t get immediately squashed. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Walt Disney World marathon and my first marathon was the 15th anniversary. Some people run it every year. Maybe I run it every 5 years. The Florida Keys Ragnar Relay is the weekend before the Disney Marathon instead of the same weekend. So, I can have a Ragnar team and still run Disney.

I’m not committing. It’s 286 days away. I’ve been whipping kids into shape at track practice and frantically putting together Ragnar Relay teams for adults. I’ve been working three jobs and my thoughts have been running into so many directions that I sometimes wish I could just go back to stocking the shelves of the grocery store everyday.

It seems I’ve forgotten how much that sucked too.

My point is that the one thing I haven’t been doing a lot of is running. While a race is often good motivation, I need to prove to myself that I still enjoy that level of running without the lure of a race.

From past experience I also know I need a good running group to help me through the miles. When I ran my second marathon, I had Richie, Steve and Justin running with me every Saturday morning. Their early morning good humor made the miles fly by and those long runs were often the highlight of my week instead of something to be dreaded. On any given Saturday, one of us was always feeling good enough to challenge the rest of the group to run a little bit faster. Because of them, that second marathon was actually a lot better than I made it sound. I PR’ed by nearly two hours, after all!

So, we’ll see how the next few months go. Maybe I’ll hit a few beer runs on weekday nights to feel out the rest of the running community. There are always plenty of locals running Disney!

 

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October
25
Posted on 25-10-2011
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

This post has been a long time coming. Half a year ago, I lost my good friend Nancy to leukemia. I always admired Nancy in many ways. She was and still is the strongest woman I’ve ever met. When she left for Boston to get her bone marrow transplant, I hugged her and told her I’d see her in a few months. I never doubted that. I’d never seen anyone or anything beat her. Even when the calls from her husband indicated that things had taken a turn for the worse, I still never doubted she’d come home and throw a big party in her backyard.

Finally, in March when her backyard was filled with people gathered to remember her I still half expected to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” cranked up over the outside speakers and to see Nancy come dancing out of the house with her wine glass in hand and a big grin on her face.

She didn’t.

We had buried her that morning.

She was gone.

Nancy was a successful business woman. She joined a major company right out of college and worked her way up to a top executive position. I think she enjoyed working. I’m not sure if she liked the work itself or just the challenge of being the best. She was certainly competitive, but also gracious and organized. She kept a box full of birthday cards filed by month and she pre-filled them when she had time. Although she was deathly ill in the hospital, I received my birthday card right on time. My daughter received hers, signed by Nancy, two months after Nancy passed away.

Although Nancy was quite a but older than me, she died too soon. It got me thinking about my own mortality much more than the deaths of my grandparents in the last few years. I started to wonder what I’d do if I knew I had only a few months to live. Every morning, I’d wake up, lie in bed for a while then get up and look at myself in the mirror. I asked myself if I were going to die next week, would I want to do what I had to do that day.

Too often, the answer was ‘no’.

So, I made some changes. Unless the task I “had” to do and didn’t want to do was absolutely 100% urgent, I didn’t do it. Instead, I used that time to do something I did want to do, or something that would get me one step closer to living a life where I could wake up, ask myself the same question and regularly answer ‘Yes!’

Recently, after Steve Jobs died, his famous Stanford commencement address was broadcast repeatedly through all social media channels:

[youtube]UF8uR6Z6KLc[/youtube]

At about 9:25 in that video, he says:

“…for the past 33 years, I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ and whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something”.

Wow! I’ve never been a huge Steve Jobs fan, but that hit home. Everyone’s commenting on how profound that is and I’ve been doing it for months! Score one for Brian! I wonder how many people who’ve posted that video on their Facebook or Twitter accounts aren’t really happy with their jobs or their lives, were inspired by that video, but have yet to take one step to change their own lives. I don’t mean to take a “holier than thou” attitude, but really the universe is always going to throw you some unlucky times and some lucky times. As in poker, I think the trick is to minimize your losses when you’re unlucky and maximize your gains when you’re lucky. It’s not about the cards you’re dealt. It’s about what you do with them.

So, I’ve been putting more effort into digitalrunning.com and it’s been fun. Because of it, I’ve gotten to do a lot of things I love to do and I’ve been able to call it “work”. One thing I do know now is that when I wake up in the morning, sit next to my wife in the driver’s seat of a 12 passenger van full of runners eager to run 200 miles relay style, look at myself in the rearview mirror and ask myself if I’m going to die today, do I really want to do what I’m about to do, the answer is most definitely ‘Yes!’.

What would you like to change? How are you working toward that goal?

 

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September
22
Posted on 22-09-2011
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

I recently came across a great post on the Lonely Planet blog called “How to Plan a do-nothing” vacation. Although I’m a budding quasi-provider of “do something” vacations, I have to say the post sounded quite appealing.  I was especially fond of tip #4 – what to bring…at least 4 of the following components:

  • Swimsuit weather
  • hammocks
  • body of water
  • lots of towels
  • reasonable food within 200 meters of your bed
  • cocktails in primary colors within 100 meters of your bed
  • a vista that’s better than most TV shows
  • a large variety of reading material in the following genres: humor, adventure, sci-fi, teenage wizards, biographies of people who didn’t die in an especially tragic way, superheroes being awesome, and horny vampires

My dream vacationI should note that the background on my computer’s desktop is the view from the bedroom of one of those bungalows that sits on stilts over a lagoon in Bora Bora. So, upon reading the post and looking at my desktop, I was immediately inspired for a do nothing vacation.

Of course, being in charge of a bootstrap start-up company leaves me lacking in the cash required for such a vacation but I made do with what I had:

1) Body of water within 4 m of my bed (bathtub)

2) Swimsuit weather (I do live in Florida…and it’s a nice 76 degrees in the house)

3) 1 towel

4) The unabridged Sherlock Holmes collection (not exactly as mindless as suggested, but short stories don’t require the commitment of a novel and the Holmes stories always seem to take me away from my own problems for 30 minutes).

It was actually pretty rejuvenating and a few hours later, I was sleeping soundly in my bed after having one of the most productive evenings in recent memory. So, don’t forget to take a “do nothing” vacation every once in a while – even if it’s a mini do nothing vacation. I’m still holding out for Bora Bora though!

 

 

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July
15
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:

[youtube]9o3RN7-7ijw[/youtube]

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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June
08
Posted on 08-06-2011
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian
Plush Broccoli Toy

That's some cool lookin' broccoli

My older brother is visiting Walt Disney World from St. Louis, so we drove over to spend the day with him and his family at the Disney Hollywood Studios. There, I was reacquainted with my childhood friends, “Broccoli Balboa” and Mr. Tomato. These were characters in the Kitchen Cabaret in the Land pavilion at Epcot. Broccoli played the drums and I think Mr. Tomato was a Frank Sinatra style crooner. I’m not sure why I fell in love with the broccoli, but it was my favorite plush toy for years despite the fact my brother used to use it as a boxing glove and my face as a punching bag – hence the broccoli’s cinematic name. The Kitchen Cabaret was later replaced by “Food Rocks”, which was then demolished to make way for “Soarin'”. I thought I’d never see broccoli again, but there he was inside the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream attraction at the Hollywood Studios.

 

Plush Tomato toy

Mr. Tomato is quite the lady's man I hear.

I was struck by a quote I spotted on the wall. It was something Walt said, reminiscing about his time in Kansas City, I think shortly after his animation company went bankrupt. He said he used to go down to the train station and watch the trains leaving for California and he would cry because he couldn’t afford a ticket. Often, I think when we look at successful people, we forget what they had to go through to become successful.

So, in a way that’s refreshing. I’ll be honest. When I sit down and look at the work I primarily get paid to do, I sometimes want to cry. It’s nice to know that Walt felt that way too. People tend to think he was born, went to school, pooped out Mickey one day and it was all blue skies after that.

The exhibit also reminded me of something Guy Kawasaki says in his book, the Art of the Start and this blog post:

Don’t worry, Be Crappy. An innovator doesn’t worry about shipping an innovative product with elements of crappiness if it’s truly innovative. The first permutation of a innovation is seldom perfect–Macintosh, for example, didn’t have software (thanks to me), a hard disk (it wouldn’t matter with no software anyway), slots, and color. If a company waits–for example, the engineers convince management to add more features–until everything is perfect, it will never ship, and the market will pass it by.

I tend to think things through a lot and sometimes that causes me to miss opportunities. A great example would be the first time I kissed Raffi. I was standing there calculating multiple scenarios of what might happen if I tried to kiss her and trying to figure out the perfect timing without realizing that if there was a perfect time, I was doing a great job of missing it. Fortunately, she said “Do you always think about things for ten minutes before you do them?” and that was all the prodding I needed. More than 16 years later, we’re still together.

As these things and other events of the weekend went through my mind in the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream exhibit, a three word phrase popped into my head. It’s a little vulgar so I won’t share it here, but it’s a simple way of kicking myself in the butt and redirecting my thoughts to the present instead of worrying about which of a million different futures will materialize.

I made use of it many times on the treadmill yesterday. Since we stayed at Disney World until 11 PM and had to drive back to St. Petersburg afterward, I opted out of morning speed work. Between the scorching heat outside and the boredom of the treadmill, I hoped the treadmill would be the lesser of two evils for my 1200 m workout. My knee was a little wonky, though I have no idea why, but I decided to give it a try anyway.

After a 1 mile warmup at a 1.5% incline, I was aching to go fast, so I popped the treadmill up to 9 MPH and hit my first 1200 m interval. It hurt, but I recovered pretty quickly with 400 m at 10 min/mile pace.

During the second interval, my thoughts drifted to last week’s speed workout and how I quit during the second interval. I quickly squashed the thought with my three word phrase and focused on quickening my stride.  I pictured myself on the home stretch of a track, heading toward the finish line. Though I was breathing heavily, I actually smiled. Bam! Another 1200 m down.

The third one was tough. I pictured myself on the track, knocking off the laps. As I passed the finish of each lap, I thought of the three word phrase and quickened my step. After the third lap, I walked 400 m, then cooled down with an easy mile. The knee actually felt better during the run than it did before.

It felt nice to hit three solid intervals. I know I’ll nail 4 next week.

 

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November
10
Posted on 10-11-2010
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

This is one of those posts where the Cast of Characters page will come in handy.  Please refer to it as needed.

Over the weekend, Bret ran the New York City marathon.  Richie accompanied him to New York to coach him, feed him pancakes and jump on the course at mile 17 to pace him.  Bret finished in 3:01:17.  That’s a few seconds faster than Richie ran it last year.

Richie sent out an email Monday night congratulating Bret and (among other things) saying quote:

“I’m making it a point to say that I’m looking for a new opportunity to compete and bond with good friends and athletes. I’m in for 2011, its something I need to do – who is with me?”

The email was sent to me, Bret, Justin, Steve and Ken.  Ken is not yet worthy of a paragraph on the cast of characters page, but he is the only one of us who has actually broken 3 hours in the marathon.  The email was quickly followed by a reply from Bret saying he’s in.  Next came the email from Justin congratulating Bret which said (among other things) quote:

“Great effort, race and reward!! And [Richie] is a great motivator; when he’s not calling me fat, disgusting, slow and lazy. So coach; I’m in…”

With that, I was swept up in the moment and applied for entry to the 2011 New York City marathon as well.  Hopefully, Steve and Ken will join in so we can have a nice wolfpack at the start.  I know Richie is shooting to go under 3 and Brett probably will too.  If I can hit my 1:25 goal at the Gasparilla half marathon in February, then I’ll throw my hat into the sub 3 hour ring too.  It would be nice to run it with the guys and break 3 together.

My first chance to get in is the lottery, but if that fails I’ve got a couple of charity options.  It’s awesome to think about it from a year away when I don’t have to train for it yet!

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September
19
Posted on 19-09-2010
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

When we first got the Netflix for the Wii CD, I went through the Netflix catalog and searched for all the inspirational running movies I could find.  A few, like Spirit of the Marathon were available to stream on demand, but others like Without Limits had to be added to our DVD queue.  Since we only get one DVD at a time and we usually manage only one family movie night a weekend, Without Limits kept getting pushed down the queue for movies the whole family could agree on.  After Raffi sent Kick Ass back to the Netflix warehouse, she forgot to check the queue.  What was at the top?

Without Limits.

She was pleasantly surprised.  Without Limits is the story of Steve “Pre” Prefontaine, one of America’s most talented distance runners in the early 1970’s who was tragically killed in an automobile accident in his prime.  While there’s plenty of running in the movie, there’s also some history, life lessons, love, acrobatic sex and several memorable quotes.  The story is entertaining as well as inspiring and it holds its own even for the non-runner crowd.  I highly recommend it.

As for me, it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve checked in.  Things are going pretty well.  I’ve officially signed up for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 10K on October 2nd, so we’ll finally get some idea of where I’m at speed-wise.  I doubt I’ll break my 41:02 PR, but I should still finish under 45 minutes.

This week was kind of an “off week” training wise.  I’ve been tired all week and actually took naps at work a few days.  Those helped big time and I was quite productive, but my running did take a hit.  Here’s how it went:

Monday: 3 miles easy treadmill + upper body strength training

Tuesday: 6 miles easy

Wednesday AM: 30 minutes stationary bike + core strength training

Wednesday PM: 3 “fast”ish miles (23:10)

Thursday: 6 miles easy

Friday: 2 miles easy + bonk and walk home

Saturday: Off

Sunday: 1.5 miles easy shakeout with Alice

Total: 21.5

Also congrats to my daughter Alice who ran a PR 22:54 5K  in her first cross country meet of the season.

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August
17
Posted on 17-08-2010
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a little PR work for one of our websites that sells plus size bras.  The website is hosting a contest that will donate $250 to the fund-raising efforts of a single walker in an upcoming Susan G. Komen 3 day for the Cure event.  I’ve thus been scouring the blogosphere for those who might be interested in spreading the word about this contest.

I’m not surprised that I’ve found quite a bustling internet community around the Susan G. Komen 3 day events and it’s funny how well I can identify with many of them.  For instance, Laurie talks about the importance of earplugs for camp.  How I wish I had those while trying to catch a few winks at a major exchange during the Ragnar Relay.  Paula talks about the finish.  Here’s a quote that will sound familiar to anyone who’s ever finished a marathon:

Walking into holding was not something that you can describe. To know you finished the walk (even if you did only walk 27 out of 60 miles) is amazing. Everyone is there cheering you in. As I was walking down the aisle of cheering people I saw my med team and they looked so proud of me. It just felt simply amazing!

There are some things with which I can’t identify, though and I’ve read some truly heart wrenching stories over the last 3 weeks.  There are those who have survived and those who have died and (perhaps most depressing) those who have fought off breast cancer once or even twice only to be overcome by the disease a few years later.  In just about every case, however, it’s amazing how many people these women (and some men) have inspired.

At least half of the bloggers I’ve contacted are people who didn’t exercise much before taking on the challenge of the Susan G. Komen 3 day for the cure.  Make no mistake that this event is one that requires training akin to that which we runners undergo when preparing for a marathon.  Walking 20 miles may seem easy to us at first glance, but 20 miles at any speed is nothing to scoff at and doing it for 3 days straight is an accomplishment worthy of note.

It would be easy for many of these people to say, “That’s not something I’m cut out to do” or “I’ll never make it”, but they keep going (and that’s why energizer is a major sponsor).  The thought that a friend, relative or co-worker looked death in the face drives them on.  Little by little they walk, increasing their mileage until they do it.  They have mottoes like “Whining causes blisters” and “Blisters don’t require chemo”.  They find out what they’re really capable of when they put their minds to it and they don’t quit.  They find a vibrant community of other people doing the same thing and along the way they raise huge amounts of money for the fight against breast cancer.

I continue to be inspired by these people.  My only regret is that we only have one donation to give.  I hope that the contest will drive enough traffic to the website so that it grows enough for us to donate more next year.  If anyone knows of someone who is walking this year, please direct them to the contest:

http://www.allplussizebras.com/susan-g-komen-3-day-for-the-cure-reach-your-goal-contest

Tweets and Facebook shares would be much appreciated as well. Thanks!

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July
15
Posted on 15-07-2010
Filed Under (Inspiration) by Brian

I watched Spirit of the Marathon a few nights ago and I’ll admit it…I cried. That sweeping helicopter shot over the huge crowd at the starting line always gets me. More than any other part of my marathon and half marathon experiences, the feeling of anticipation while standing in that crowd of people at the start is etched solidly into my memory.

The movie wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought it was going to be a documentary about elite runners and how they train, etc. Instead, it follow 6 runners of very different backgrounds as they train for and eventually race the 2005 Chicago marathon. There are two elite runners, but the others are a varied group of people: 2 first time runners, a 70-something man and a 30-something guy trying to qualify for Boston. Interspersed are interview clips with historians and famous runners commenting on various aspects of training, racing, etc.

Watching the group training runs in downtown Chicago made me miss my Saturday morning dates with Richie, Justin and Steve. I haven’t even seen Justin and Steve since the marathon and only saw Richie briefly when I dropped Alice off to babysit his son a few weeks ago. I was on the tipping point of ramping up my training and the movie seems to have pushed me over the edge. If there had been any light left in the day when the movie was over, I would have laced up the racing shoes and immediately ripped out a tempo run.

Instead, I had to wait for the morning when the feeling had died down a bit. I still made it out and in some of the hottest weather we had all summer, I ran a warm up mile, then ran hard for 3 miles, threw up about 4 times and then ran a cool down mile back home. After work, I ran to the gym with Alice, did a leg workout and then ran home. For the first time in a long time, I slipped into bed physically exhausted and slept like a log.

I’m certainly far from the shape I was in earlier this year, but I’m mentally back. I can feel that the speed and endurance will quickly follow.

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