Monthly Archives: December 2015

Running – Blogging – Racing – 2015 A Year In Review

2015 has been a great year. I may have fallen short of my yearly mileage goal but I exceeded my expectations on having fun while running, make friends, taking part in new races, and sharing my adventures with you.


2015 final

January:  I hosted my second Brian’s Crazy New Years Long Run at Noland trail. I started this training run while preparing for my first 100 mile race in 2014 and was totally shocked with new and old friends who came out to support me…and for the second year in a row we did it again! I’ll do better at getting pictures from the 2016 edition, 50 miles at Umstead.


(So thankful for everyone who came out,
Andrea and Hank brought me home on the final lap)

January Bonus: I had my first running story published.


(Check out my works in
the Jan/Feb edition of Marathon and Beyond)

February:  For the second year in a row the second month on the calendar brought us snow, this mess put a huge damper on my training runs.

IMG_20150227_161503(Snow, Snow go away…I have a 100 miler to train for)

March: I never thought I would run one, but here I was toeing the line for my second 100 mile adventure, the Graveyard 100. I ran solo the entire length of Highway 12 on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

gy100picturedunes1(I finished in 23 hours and 5 minutes after
burning up my legs to a new 50 miler PR)

April: My 6th running of the event which started all this crazy Ultra-marathon running, the Virginia 24 Hour Ultra Run Against Cancer. My third year with a team in the race as well…and what did we do but win the event for the second time and set a new course 24 hour record.


(Team Run4Life, Champions)

May: May was not a good month…the injury bug came for a visit, left Achilles pain.

EMSJune:  On the come back trail and what a better way to make a statement then to run a 50 mile race in the heat of June. The Bethel Moonlight Boogie 50 Miler is a race a lot of my friends have talked up, so why not…

boogie 50a(Five 10 mile laps and a white church I thought had disappeared)

July: Took a little vacation to Minnesota, ran, fished and enjoyed family…then came home to run The March 50k. A race that honors WWII POWs and is filled with sand, hills, friends and a ton of memories.

The March Beginning

the march amos

(I ran for PV2 Amos L Burk)

August: No racing in Aug, made a short trip home to see my Mom and revisit some old ground.


(15 miles around the Peninsula)

Sept: The Hinson Lake 24 Hour Race and the World Famous Banana lap. Another “friends favorite races” and one with a special finishing lap. I wanted to go out and log some good miles and hopefully earn my third 100 mile buckle…then I got dizzy.

Hinson Lake 24(Crossing the Hinson Lake Bridge)

October: Medoc Mountain Trail Marathon, becoming a favorite race of mine, if only that dang monster would leave me alone.

12122819_1104338499577305_9175450641807583063_n(Me Doc, Me Doc…Medoc)

November: I said I would never run it again, but here I was taking on the JFK50 with seven of my running buddies.

12279026_10153832248966495_6886646385016242291_n(My first JFK was an adventure,
it was much better the second time around)

December: Another month without a race, life just got to busy, but I returned to Umstead and ran to remember my 100 miles there. Two of my friends will take on the 100 mile challenge in 2016 and I hope to support them the way my friends supported me.


And so we end where we began, looking back at 2015 and realizing what a great year it has been. 2015 was not the year that is was because of the miles, the blog posts or the races….it was because of you, my readers, my friends, my family, the love of my wife and the grace of a loving God.

Thank you!


Running – Attitude is Everything – Marathon – Ultra-Marathon

Being a runner, living an active/fitness based lifestyle can be challenging. The nature of these activities breeds periods of tiredness, physical pain, motivational slumps and disappointment. So how do you we overcome these challenges to keep moving and enjoy the highs, personal rewards and sense of accomplishment from all of our hard work?

Trust me there are times when my couch is calling out my name so loud it’s deafening. To skip a run is in reality no big deal. It is not great crime against humanity to give in. The FBI, Secret Service or the Fair Trade Commission is not going to mount up their black suburbans to come looking for you.  I also know that when I do heed it’s sirens call it makes it easier to fall for its trappings the next time.


Below I outline 7 simple actions and attitudes that can propel you forward when it might be easy to put off, delay or never go for that run.


  1. Keep a RUNNING journal.  Not only log your miles, but also write down things that you feel grateful for every day. Write down how that run made you feel, document the wonderful sights in nature that RUNNING provided or a new Personal Records from a race or new top pace maintained in training. Review these little goals, small rewards in down time and you’ll see how your attitude changes.
  2. View failure in a new light = growth.  Handling failure is a skill. Chalk every failure, slow race time, or bonking at a new long run distance as an opportunity to grow and improve. No one gets to slide through life without having to deal with coming up short. View failure as a step toward growth.
  3. Use positive words, positive self-talk to describe your life.  Your mind hears what you say. If you describe your life as boring, busy, mundane, chaotic, that is how you will perceive it and you will feel those effects in your body, mind and spirit.  Choose words like I am capable, I am strong, and I am able. Replay accomplishment in your personal self-talk, live in your victories, “I ran a fast 5k, I am a marathoner, and I ran a 100 miler.”
  4. Replace ‘have’ with ‘get’.  Your attitude quickly changes from needing to fulfill obligations to being grateful for the things that we become accustomed to having when you start to say, “I get to run tonight”, rather than “I have to do this.”  When its hard to run, think about all the people who wished they could do what we take for granted…”I GET to run for those who can’t.”
  5. Don’t let yourself get dragged into other people’s downtimes.  If a training partner takes a day off, keep up your end of the run. Skipping a workout leads to lower moods and negative emotions, decreased life satisfaction and optimism, and emotional and motivational deficits. Run when it’s tough…it will enable you to run again when another curve ball is thrown your way.
  6. Breathe.  Our breath is directly connected to our emotions. Have you noticed we hold our breath sometimes when we are concentrating on something? Can you feel your breath change when you are angry or anxious?  Our breath changes depending on how we feel. If life is messing with you, breathe, relax and slip on your running shoes, within the first mile you’ll be happy you did.
  7. Notice the righteous in times of tragedy.  In every instance of natural disasters, war, traumatic experience, you will find people rising up, reaching out to each other and showing raw compassion and love. Hold onto the stories of modern day heroes and selflessness in the times of fear and devastation. Use that overcoming spirit to propel you on your next outing, run to celebrate the human spirit, run to celebrate the victory of others.

I hope one or all of these positive actions and attitudes help you get out the door for that run when times may make it tough.


Post Runner’s High Or The Long Run Afterglow, Marathon Success

Definitions for Long Run Afterglow
1. The feelings of success after a long run.
2. The senses of pain that signify the accomplishment of running a very long distance.

After a long run, normally in excess of 20 miles my entire body hurts. After a long run when I’m finally able to stop moving, have cleaned up and can sit back and recover, the Post Long Run afterglow hits. Within minutes of shutting down the running motion my entire body begins to feel the sense of accomplishment of covering a very long distance on foot. My feet are normally sore and battered they begin to remind me of every step of the journey we just took. My legs and knees remind me of the effort it took to propel my body forward for hours on end. Finally able to return to a normal workload, my lungs, chest and diaphragm are tired from cycling the air/oxygen through my body which feed my muscle as they performed. 


It hurts to run long, no doubt about it, but this pain also rewards me in the sensation of accomplishment that no other sport, activity or performance has been able to duplicate.


Running – Race Ovals – Marathon – Ultra-marathons and more

Here is another take on our race distance ovals.

carstickers(On my way to another race, stickers included)

I think we have all read post after post about how some folks, runners and non runners alike, in the world hate our race ovals. I never knew such a simple thing could kick off such a trend of disdain. In full disclosure I have and like my race ovals. I have five of them on the back of my car. My five ovals include one for 100 Miles, 100K, 50 Miles, 26.2, and 13.1 distances. I don’t place them on the rear window of my car to solely brag. Sure I like having them back there as a sense of accomplishment but I don’t place them on my car because I think running these distances makes me any better than anyone else. If anything it’s a simple form of motivation to be able to post them on the back of my car after completing the race. I never thought that this simple motivation tool would make someone upset or anyone downright angry.

After all, the litany of other bumper stickers out there and stick figures representing families does not upset me. In fact in the middle of rush hour traffic they provide something to read and a small glimpse into the life of the other drivers around me. I think it would be great if other sports/activities developed accomplishment ovals to promote reaching sport specific goals or milestones.

fish oval

Instead of focusing on disliking our race ovals wouldn’t it be great to see ovals for Bass fishermen/women. Maybe the oval could feature a big bass profile with a notation on the size of the bass. i.e. 8.2 pounds. The deer hunters could have an oval with a buck profile with the number of points for a hunters biggest kill. A 300 oval for a bowlers perfect game or a hole-in-one oval to celebrate a golfers accomplishments. These ovals would never make me angry and while stuck in traffic or on the way to the local super store it would be cool to see some of the accomplishments of the drivers around me. Channel the motivation not the hate.


One thing that does puzzle me on the back of some vehicles is the certain part of the male antimony that some monster truck owners hang from their bumpers of tow bar receivers.  Why, I ask myself? These metal projectiles are just waiting to drop free and come smashing through the grille or front windshield of my car. What are you trying to say or brag about by hanging these from your vehicles?

So let’s unite the world and ban the hanging nuts not the race ovals.

Marathon Focused On Speed And Tobacco Road Marathon Sub Four

I want to get faster, I want better racing times and I want to lower my Personal Records (PRs).

To get there, I have to do something different. I have to run faster, I have to train harder and I have to follow a plan.  For the most part I’m a good runner. I run rain or shine, when my plan calls for me to run.  I run the number of miles my plan lays out for me to run. I’m bad at running the type of run my training requires me to run. I tend to run by feel, I don’t run at a certain training pace, I don’t run speed work and I do not do intervals. I train to get faster by bulk miles. For a while that worked. When I began to seriously train for ultra races my mileage increased and my race times decreased. During this ramp up I had a 12 month span where all of my race times went down to a point that I was setting PRs every time I toed the starting line. Since that first year of serious ultra-training my race times have plateaued. I can and do run longer, but I have not gotten any faster. Something has to change…I have to run faster.

In 2016 I want to increase my training pace and I want to run another sub four hour marathon at the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, NC.  In the 15+ years I’ve been running, I’ve only run one sub four hour marathon.  I’ve ran 15 marathons with finishing times all around that benchmark, but only once, at the Niagara Falls Marathon in 2013 did I cross the finish line in under four hours.  I want to once again break that marathon barrier, and truth be told I want all of my future marathons to be sub four or better.

How to I do this? I have to have a plan and have to be a faster and smarter racer…

niagarafalls1(At 3:56:57 dang I was happy with my first sub four)

My plan is to run faster…with Fartleks/Intervals, Tempo Runs, and some Yassos 800s. has an excellent write up  on the true definition of each workout, I will be adding my own personal spin on each one of these for my “Ultra Speed” sessions.

Fartleks Unlike tempo and interval work, fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts with easy throughout. After a warmup, you play with speed by running at faster efforts for short periods of time (to that tree, to the sign etc.) followed by easy-effort running to recover. My Fartleks/Interval will be a little longer than the next tree or next sign. I call these longer version of speed play my “Ultra-Fartleks. My Ultra-fartleks will be part of an overall 6.5 mile training run along a 2.5 mile loop. The first 2.5 miles will be a warm up period, followed by a .50 mile pick-up session, with a .50 mile recovery then three sessions with a .30 mile pick up/.30 recovery. This will complete the second lap of my running loop (5 total miles) whereas I’ll have one more .50 pick-up/recovery session and a .30 pick-up/recovery in between to close out the 6.5 total workout. Although I’m shooting for a pace roughly 30 seconds or faster than my race pace, I view my effort in percentage of my red line. Here I want to be giving 70 to 80% of my max effort.  I plan to do this for three weeks comparing my times and then run a 5 mile time-trial on the fourth week to gauge my status.

speedworkweek3(A look at my first three weeks)

What does Fartlek mean? “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training.

fort lee speed track(My Speed Work Out Loop)

Tempo Run AKA my Time-Trails – Runners World defines this type of workout as an Oreo cookie, with the warmup and cool down as the cookie, and a run at an effort at or slightly above your anaerobic threshold (the place where your body shifts to using more glycogen for energy) as the filling. This is the effort level just outside your comfort zone—you can hear your breathing, but you’re not gasping for air. My Ultra Time-Trail runs will be a bit harder. I plan to run 5 miles as hard as I can, not sprinters max effort , but 80-90% of what I’ve got to gauge if I’ve improved my long haul speed with my fartlek sessions.  I ran this type of speed test before and saw great improvements during the train up for my first marathon.  Even if they don’t help my overall fitness, they sure help my confidence.

I’ll run my 5 mile Time Trail over the above loop running a half mile warm up and 5 miles over two laps.

Yasso 800s – Running guru Bart Yasso came up with the training idea If I can get my 800s down to 2 minutes 50 seconds, I’m in 2:50 marathon shape. If I can get down to 2:40 (minuses), I can run a 2:40 marathon. “Want to run a 3:30 marathon? Then train to run a bunch of 800s in 3:30 each. Between the 800s, jog for the same number of minutes it took you to run your repeats.” Bart begins running his Yasso 800s a couple of months before his goal marathon. The first week he does four. On subsequent weeks, he adds one more lap until he reaches 10. The last workout of Yasso 800s should be completed at least 10 days before your marathon, and 14 to 17 days would probably be better. In the full disclosure I’ll admit I have never run a Yasso 800 and will have a hard time working this into my training schedule but I’m going to try. Access to a measured track will be my biggest challenge. I see the reasoning behind the workout and plan to train to get my 800 times below my marathon goal to help me reach my mark…with the idea of ”training harder than your goal pace.”

My present training schedule looks like this.

Monday – Medium run 6 – 10 miles at an easy/recovery pace

Tuesday – Short run 6 miles at easy pace

Wednesday – Speed work/Time trail

Thursday – Short run 6 miles at easy to slow pace

Friday – Normally off

Saturday – Medium run 6 – 10 miles at an medium to easy pace (Yasso days???)

Sunday – Long run 13 miles and 20+ every second week at long slow pace.

These workouts will get adjusted as race dates and physical conditions warrant. I’m not saying this is the best workout plan, but this is one I feel I can live with, will keep me focused and one that will improve my overall performance. The proof will be when I run the Tobacco Road Marathon on 13 March 2016.

Need a spring marathon, come run Tobacco Road Marathon with me, use my code burkblog to receive an discounted entry.

Running – The Mile – Marathon – Ultra Marathon and Life


The measured mile is common to everyone, whether you’re an elite athlete chasing Olympic goal, World Titles or the middle of the pack finishers at the local “Save the trees 10k” in any town USA. The mile is the same for the runner determined to shave eight minutes off their marathon time, to qualify for Boston or the former couch potato whose only goal is to finish their first 5k. Likewise the mile is and will always be constant whether it’s the first entry into your log book or your twenty-five thousandth mile. The mile is simply a measured distance and yet it has the power to be so much more. The mile holds no bias, although it is the benchmark of comparison. The mile can be a place of solitude and a place of equality. Lastly the mile like the days of your life lay behind you as a reminder of the distances already covered and an opportunity to come standing proudly out in front of you forever yours to decide the impact it will have on your life.

The mile is an English unit of length equal to 1,760 yards and standardised as exactly 1,609.344 metres by international agreement in 1959. Since that time, the mile is and will always be equal to everyone who decides to run. The standard 5k race is 3.1 miles, the 10k is 6.2 miles and the marathon standard is 26.2 miles. No matter where you run these races from the eastern shores of the United States to the Pacific Coast of California and the remote states of Alaska and Hawaii the mile and these race distances will always be the same offering no prejudice.

The mile has no bias. The mile is the same for you and for me. No different for the black or the white athlete. From the Orient to the Wild West the mile is a constant among variables. Everyone whom has ever toed the line, started a fitness plan or simply ran for fun the mile has always and will always be the same. The mile does not offer an advantage to the wealthy or a disadvantage to the poor. It offers no easy path to the gifted or a more challenging one for the meek. The mile is what it is, a mile in distance, spring, summer, winter and fall. The mile is the mile for you and for me while offering a contrast between both of us.

The mile is a benchmark of comparison. The mile offers a standard of comparison between your ability and time. The mile also offers a contrast between your old self and the new. The mile is also a reference point of where you stand vs. the rest of the world. Determination, vigor and pride can be measured by the results handed over at the end of that mile. You can succeed or fall short. The mile will prove your work or show your weakness. The mile will be the standard never changing nor compromising. The mile is a frame of reference and a place to get a way.

The mile is a place of solitude. Apart from the world the mile offers a place of seclusion. Life in general is a crowded place, movement all around you. The mile offers you a place to be alone. In the mile you can become lost in its realm only alive inside your time and space. Within that humble distance you’re free to fly, to think, to dream and to lose contact with your distractions. The mile offers you a safe place, a consistent place and a place all of your own. Although each mile is the same your mile is distinctively and exclusively different. Just like finger prints or snowflakes, your mile is yours and my mile is mine, they maybe similar but each is private and unique from first to last.

The mile is equal from the first to the last. The mile is the same, today as it was yesterday. The mile of Roger Banister is the same as Sabastian Coe and Galen Rupp. The first mile of the marathon is the same as the last. One mile may seem harder, longer or more difficult than the rest but each mile is the same. A mile maybe up hill, downhill, or pancake flat, but each mile is the same in length today, tomorrow and yesterday. The mile never changes.


Ultimately, the miles behind you are the same as the miles in front of you…the only difference in the two is the amount of effort you put into them. Only you can make tomorrows miles different by the focus, effort and intensity you put into them.

Eat For Fuel Not For Fun – Run – Marathon

We all need more water and less body fat. Eating and food in general are topics of a healthy lifestyle that most of us struggle with. Food in its simplest form is really a fuel source, a building block to a healthy and solid body, our foundation. Unfortunately many of us treat food as entertainment, comfort and or a hobby, an alternative when things go bad in our lives. I’ve been there, unhappy eat a pizza, bored eat a pizza, lonely ah yes, MORE PIZZA!

evil pizza

Today when I’m beat up by life, lonely or when I need some “me” time I choose to be active. I choose to do something, not eat something. I choose to go running, fishing or do something around our home to invest in tomorrow instead of sitting down with a slice of pepperoni.

Even with this new view of food and water, I need some reminders of how to eat and drink properly to fuel my body for the long run, but not to over eat. Here are some ways to help you and remind me on how to avoid eating more than we need.

Drink more water
– Before you start eating drink a glass of water. It will start filling your stomach and curb your appetite.
– Take a drink of water between every other bite.
– Many times a hunger pang is just a signal that your body needs water.


When you feel full, your stomach is already stretched beyond its capacity, do not push yourself to eat any more.

Try to chew each bite at least 25 times before swallowing. Not only will this slow your food intake, it will make digestion easier as well.

Put your fork down between bites; don’t pick it up again until you’ve swallowed your food.

Pay attention to portion sizes. Take just one portion of each food; you can go back for more later.

Wait to go back for seconds for at least 10 minutes after you’ve finished your first plate.

The “Clean your plate” rule is outdated; if you are full, stop eating.

Include fiber rich foods; they make you feel fuller longer.

Slow Down!! Give your body time to process the meal.

Eat Breakfast. You’ll be less likely to over-eat later in the day.

Try not to go more than 5 hours without eating, smart snacking will keep your metabolism running, prevent drops and spikes in blood sugar, and prevent over-eating at your main meals.

And always remember, you can’t out exercise a bad diet. (Trust me, I’ve tried).

What is your best advice to limiting your food intake and getting more water into your diet?

My Wife Does Not Read My Running Blog, BUT You Should


The other day my wife told me she did not make it a point to regularly read my blog.  After the surpise, shock and hurt wore off I decided to ask her why?

Why my wife does not read my blog…

She proofreads the majority of my posts beforehand.

She just does not get why I (and most of my readers) enjoy 2+ hour long runs.

She does not need updates on my running life because she sees the stinky laundry pile growing larger and larger by the day.

Attends 99.9% of my races and receives a detailed mile by mile briefing on the ride home, she does not need to read about them on line.

She is well aware of my race schedule by simply reviewing our credit card statements.

She has seen enough of my monster blisters/chaffing and black toe nails to last a lifetime.

She knows which brand of shoes I’m currently wearing because I’m always talking about them.

She has heard all my running stories numerous times.

She knows when my next big race/long run is by when I ask if we can have spaghetti for dinner.

IMG_7581(She surprised me at the City of Oaks Marathon)

and…She already gives up much of her time to help support my running goals…..With that, I will always proclaim, she treats me much better than I need to be treated. I Love You Michele…more.

My wife might not read my blog regularly, but I’m sure glad you do, THANK You!

Running, Racing and Life in 2016

Running, Racing and Life in 2016

jfk502015(JFK 50, 2015)

My race at the 2015 edition of the JFK 50 in November did not go as I had hoped. Sure I finished, and placed about mid pack (380/793), but I wanted to do much better. I went into the race hoping for a sub 10 hour finish. My finishing time of 10 hours 17 minutes and 13 seconds was roughly 10 minutes slower than last year. This near miss on race day highlighted some shortcoming in my training…I knew they were their all the time, but the cold red lights on the official time clock of JFK made me face them.

(My friend Eric JFK 50 video, I’m in the first few minutes, then I fell off the pace….)

I had lost focus on my training/running. I had put on a few pounds. My training lacked any focused speed workouts and I may not have been mentally tough enough to push into the pain zone.

Well in 2016, that is not going to cut it…I have some big goals for the first half of the year.

#1 Lose ten pounds (or whatever it takes) to race at 147 – 152 pounds.

#2 Run a sub-four hour marathon at Tobacco Road Marathon on March 13.

#3 Become mentally stronger when racing.

So how am I going to do that, you ask?

There are no free riders: I’ve begun to log my entire food intake into MyFitnessPal, this accountability tool helped me two years ago when I lost nearly 20 pounds. I need to get back at it. I need to stop the slow comfortable slide into the extra few pounds I’ve picked up in 2015. Over the course of a 26.2 mile, 50k 50 miles or 100 mile race it take a lot more energy to haul those pounds around.


Get Back Some Speed:  Wednesday’s are going to be speed day for me. Now I’m not talking Usain Bolt crazy speed but I will build into each Weds training run, some intervals, speed pick-ups and Yasso 800s along the way.

bart yasso(Bart Yasso, founder of the Yasso 800s)

I will no longer race in Fear: This might be the hardest of the three. I’m going to hold myself accountable for the goal pace I set. I’ve never DNF’d but I tend to manage the pain and energy to ensure I finish even if that means I lose grip on my A goal for the race. I race with a fear of blowing up, I race with a fear of not being able to finish.


Is there part of your training that needs more focus?