Marc Bigbie

It's really not about me…

Weird Uncle LinkedIn

by Marc on October 20, 2014, 3 comments

LinkedIn logoLinkedIn is like that weird uncle that you only see at Thanksgiving or Christmas. You don’t really see him a lot, you never know what he’s going to say, you don’t know what to say to him, and you don’t really know what to do or how to act around him, he’s just been around forever in your family. Launched in 2003, LinkedIn is one of the oldest social networks but even today yet most people still don’t know what to do with it and fewer even try.

I’m not here to tell you how to use it because there are tons of sites out there to help you with that and I think like most social sites, we all have different goals and therefore uses for them, but I’ve been on LinkedIn for many years but only in the past year or so have I started paying attention to it more and noticed one very item that I don’t think the typical uneducated LinkedIn user realizes. It shares EVERYTHING to EVERYONE.

In the past 2 years I’ve watched several coworkers connect to recruiters and within months it would be announced that they were leaving us. I don’t think many others in my company pay much attention to LinkedIn, even though almost all of them have an account there, but it’s almost like the most technical geeks that I work with don’t realize the simplest things. I’m not a coder like most of them, but I am aware that almost everything you do online is visible to someone.

If you’re on LinkedIn and connected to coworkers or your boss even, don’t forget to review your privacy settings, especially the activity broadcast one, or maybe even unlink from them while you’re job searching. You never know who weird uncle LinkedIn will tell on you. Pass the green bean casserole please.

The Facebook Problem – It’s ALL of Our Fault

by Marc on January 19, 2014, no comments

Facebook_iconRight now social media managers, online community managers, or whatever name they want to call themselves but people who get paid to “play” on Facebook all day are pulling their hair out because changes in Facebook are making their Page’s view numbers go WAY down. It’s a valid concern. Just last month Facebook was quoted as saying “We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened either, Facebook is continually tweaking their algorithms to “provide the user a meaningful experience,” which is a fancy phrase meaning that even though a user has chosen to Like a Page, Facebook can determine that it may not show that page to them all the time in their feed or maybe even not at all.

Social media managers are crying FOUL, that Facebook is “forcing” them to pay for ads on their network, “HOW DARE THEY!” This is where I have little sympathy because for many years they’ve had free, as in unpaid, opportunity to market and make money by advertising on Facebook. This is like the local newspaper or TV station running ads for free for years and then saying they are going to reduce how many get run but you can pay to have them seen. You can still choose to be free but they’ll run your ad less.

The people whom I do have sympathy for are the folks that use Facebook Pages for non profit/non business uses. I’m generically going to call them the “mommy bloggers” since they are a huge part of this community but just think of every inspirational post, funny meme, delicious recipe, or fitness workout you’ve ever seen shared in your feed, they likely came from someone running a blog and is using Facebook as a means of making a name for themselves. Many of them don’t make a penny or if they do they aren’t making much more than enough to cover their blog hosting or maybe getting a few freebies from advertisers in exchange for a product review. Facebook is going to limit exposure of their posts in our feeds and they just aren’t going to be seen by people that Liked their Page and basically asked to be shown their info. Since they don’t make money, they won’t buy those low converting ads you see in your feed or on the right side of Facebook.

The trick these community managers and mommy bloggers both have to use is they have to be good at what they do and give us all great content that we’ll want to interact with. The more times we click Like or Share or even comment on their posts, the more likely we’ll be shown their future posts. That’s why we see so many beautiful images that beg to be shared, funny posts that we think our friends will want to see, or 10,000 calorie casseroles with enough cheese and butter to knock Paula Deen off the wagon! The good Page managers are doing everything they can to get us to do something, ANYTHING, to interact with their Page.

This is where it’s YOUR FAULT that you aren’t seeing their posts even though you wanted to! Go take a look at your own Facebook profile. Not your newsfeed but the page that has all of your personal stuff, your wall. At the top, below your cover and profile photo are some navigation options and the last one is More, hover over that and click on Likes, you’ll see more menu options appear on the new page that look like this;

Screen Shot 2014-01-19 at 8.25.13 AM

A random survey of my friends on Facebook, so I admit it’s totally unscientific, shows that most of my friends Like somewhere between 150 and 800 Pages, you’ll see I’m just below that although I was around 200 a few weeks ago. A few friends were well over 1,000 with one approaching 3,000 Page Likes. Now add in all the posts and shares that your friends do and you can see why Facebook has to implement this technique, it would just be impossible for you to keep up with 300 friend’s posts about their cat or baby plus every post by every Page you’ve ever Liked since joining. We keep Liking stuff because we think when we Like something it just means we like it but when we Like someone’s Page what we are really doing is subscribing to their feed, sort of like signing up for a newsletter. We are asking to be a part of their community and that we want to see their stuff. Then we go do the same to 500 other Pages which is like subscribing to 500 newspapers, there’s just no way we can read it all and Facebook knows that. What would you do if 500 newspapers showed up on your doorstep every morning? That’s what you are doing on Facebook every time you Like a Page.

Don’t confuse this with Liking a post, picture, or link by a friend or Page, this is where we’re repaying them for offering us good content and helping them be seen more by us and maybe an interested friend, that’s the “viral” part. Think of it as tipping and if you see something that you truly like, click their Like, Share, or Comment on the post or picture.

It’s time to rethink how we use Facebook. It’s been around a while and most of us have been using it for years. When we Like a Page or a friend asks us to Like their Page, what they are asking us to do is consent to seeing their stuff, it’s an opt in. So don’t Like every Page just because someone asks you to and you think you’re helping them out, go check it out and see if there is useful content there that you’re interested in. Don’t feel bad about not Liking it because if you aren’t really “in” to their page and are just Liking it to “help them out,” you’re not doing anything. When you Like their Page but don’t interact or ever go visit their Page, Facebook will stop showing you their posts and you just become a number in a column and even worse, you may stop seeing something else that you wanted to see. You likely won’t even realize you aren’t seeing something because you didn’t really care about their Page to begin with, you just thought you were “helping out” by giving them a Like but you’re really stuffing your own mailbox with junk mail to the point that Facebook steps in and decides to throw some of it away for you and maybe they’ll toss stuff that you really wanted to see.

Go check out your Likes, I bet you can clear out a bunch of old junk that you followed years ago and forgot about. If it’s a friend’s Page, go check it out if you haven’t seen it in a while. Is there content there that you still want to see or have they even posted on it in forever? It’s ok, click that Unlike button and clear up your feed, unless you want Mr Facebook algorithm throttling what you see for you. You’ll be happier and you’ll see the things that you really want to see. Then start interacting with them and show them support, just like tipping a server, especially the non business/small business ones. You are their marketer, help them out if you truly like their product or organization. Then do the same for every request you get in the future, go check it out before you click Like.

It’s called Social Media, be social! Now go clean up your feed.

Several Changes Lately But I’m Still Here

by Marc on December 14, 2013, no comments

In a continuation of good things happening, I’ve been pretty busy lately. Some things that were good for me were unfortunately bad for others, not by my doing, but have slowed down a few extracurricular activities. Not to mention the craziness of the holiday season. I’m getting it under control and thankfully it’s far more a blessing instead of a burden, but I haven’t been able to write personally as much though I am still writing. I did guest blog over at Through Heather’s Looking Glass about running if you follow me for that, thanks for having me Heather.

I’m still here though and have several things brewing so please check back soon or watch my social channels. I have good things to tell you and hopefully learn from you as well.

My Buddhism, Getting Chicked, Thongs, and Childbirth

by Marc on November 24, 2013, no comments

Lately one of the things I’ve changed in my life, and like setting goals, I used to think it was a bunch of crap, is trying to be more of a Giver instead of just a Taker. Giving and doing for others always came from people I didn’t want to listen to, usually for many reasons, so when this topic came out I always just discounted it as more crap being spewed to spam my brain. Fortunately I’ve come across enough people lately that I do respect, saying the same thing, and it’s completely true. The more you do/give, the more you get in return.

I made a comment while texting my dad this week about karma biting your butt and he came back and said “Don’t believe in any karma, but what you sow you will reap. We all have to do better…” Yep, I knew better since I was raised Christian in Southern churches, as far away from Buddhism as can be, and I don/t follow his beliefs. I use it just as a short way to say the same thing, I need to find a new word. However, this post isn’t about telling you what I’ve done for others, but what karma, destiny, fate, kismet, or whatever you believe in, can do for you and why you should become a Giver.

Dan Hernandez

Dan Hernandez being his awesome self

This past week I’ve had good things come in many ways, but one revolving around running just keeps snowballing. Last Sunday I was on a small group run with some friends, all of them are super stellar runners and kick my arse in races, including the gals. This is called getting “chicked,” and I’m just used to it by now because I know too many awesome female runners, that’s another post for the future though. Surprisingly they were all running slow, by their standards, so I was able to hang and chat, it’s always great to learn from others. The subject of future races came up and when it rotated around to me I said that “I don’t know, there are 4-5 I’d register for right now if money were no object. But at Christmas and just having to have bought a new car, I just couldn’t swing them all, including the one next week.” Before I could even get out the next sentence of which I thought I could do, one of the guys, Dan, jumps in and says “You want my bib? I’m injured still and thought I could do it or even some of it, but there is no point, take it.” I couldn’t believe it first of all, so I checked and double checked and he said that he would give it until Wednesday and let me know, and he’d email the race director to clear it and get me switched over. Here we were 6 days out from a 50k ultra-marathon, that’s 31+ miles to you and me, and I may be a last minute entry. I had spent months training for a marathon, mentally and physically, and by the time he would confirm with me that he wasn’t doing it, which he did a day earlier than he said, it was 4 days away.

Mad Marsh 2013 Hat

Me after Mad Marsh 50k. I ran 31.5 miles for a cool hat!

Saturday comes and I’ve set the alarm for 3:00AM and then drove over an hour to get to the Mad Marsh 50k in South Carolina. I was excited because I really didn’t have a goal for this race, though I wanted to beat my time on the same course from 6 months before at Bad Marsh 50k, which is on the first day of summer , in the South, in June and at night, so shouldn’t be too hard given those factors, plus I was in better shape now. I hadn’t factored in how running at night on a trail would affect me then, so I thought maybe I could get under 6 hours this time. I didn’t, and I don’t even care, though I did beat the time so yay, new PR for me. I blogged on my family site about Bad Marsh 50k in a race recap and one of the things I talked about was the volunteers, but there is no way to convey in a blog post how different they are at an ultra, or how ultras are in general, to a big race like Rock n Roll or RunDisney. In these big races we run through feed zones, usually once, and there is a line of faceless volunteers that hold out cups of water or Gatorade, or gel packs to eat. You see them 2 seconds at best, grab whatever they have, try to get out a “thank you for being here” as you chug whatever they handed you, and you never see them again. Ultras are completely different, especially loop courses, because there are one or more aid stations on the course, and they are stocked WAY better, with several drink options, and real food, not just gels packs. I wish I had snapped a pic. There are volunteers there and you get to see them over and over, often you know them because it’s a smaller community and in many cases they are a spouse of a runner on the course, so they know more about what you need. In this race they were all awesome, but like my first ultra, one seemed to take on the role as “my” caregiver.

Mary Jo and Gregg at the Aid Station

Mary Jo and hubby Gregg at the aid station

Mary Jo, she isn’t a blogger so I don’t have a link, went over and above her duties to get me back on course each lap. I’m sure it wasn’t just me she did this with, but before I was 30′ from the aid station, I could hear her yelling “Marc! What do you need” and holding her hand up waiving me in like a NASCAR pit crew, her bright yellow shirt helped her stand out from the rest of the blur. I’d screw the top off my water bottle and hand it and the lid to her while I went past to the food table shoving whatever I could grab into my mouth, and before I could swallow it she was tightening the lid and handing it back to me asking “What else do you need? What can I get for you?” Later on I somehow injured my knee, and don’t remember when. I think it was early on when I caught it on a vine running too far off the edge of the trail and my leg got pulled backwards from me. I didn’t think about it at the time but that may have been the start, then running uneven trails just made it worse. I was getting slower and had to take some walking breaks, starting back to a run was painful, sometimes I couldn’t even get into a run so I went back to a walk again. On the 6th lap out of 7 I texted the race director Tim, the same guy that helped me out from Rock n Roll Marathon, and asked if he had some type of wrap or support. What I didn’t say is that if he didn’t I’d be bailing on the last lap and getting my first DNF, which would suck royally and I’d feel like I wasted the bib Dan had given me, but I was biting my lip trying to get through some downhill or twisty sections where it hurt bad. Tim texted and said he did, and when I wrote back to say I was still 2 miles out so would be a bit, he said ‘”Mary Jo has it at the aid station.” When I got within eyesight she was holding it up over her head, flagging me in so I could get back out for the last 4.5mi lap. Oh yeah, Dan also made the hour plus drive, despite being injured and not running the race, to volunteer and took race photos, check out what an ultra looks like here.

Me with Bren at Chase the Sun Ultra 2013

Me and Bren at Chase the Sun Ultra

Unfortunately, I didn’t know what to do with the support Mary Jo had gotten, or been given to give me. What she handed me was a strap not much wider than a watch band, with velcro on each end and slits to apparently poke one end through the other and tighten it somehow, but they were on both ends, so I didn’t know which went where, or how this thing would even help me, I HAD just run 27 miles so might not have been thinking or seeing clearly. I had envisioned an ACE bandage to wrap or wide neoprene type sleeve that would slide up the leg and support for several inches above and below the knee, this thing looked like a thong. Then one of my other runner friends Bren, he’d already killed it on his race having just lapped me about a mile out and was sitting resting, I think saw the frustration in my face. He said “I’ve got a knee brace, you want to try it?” So I hobbled over to him and sat on a cooler as he dug it out his race bag and watched me put it on backwards, then fix it. It was nice and tight. Before, when I was walking and felt like I could run, it had been extremely painful to get transitioned from walking to running, but once running I didn’t feel as much pain, so I hated to stop and walk. I think pain sucks energy from you though so I just couldn’t stay at a run and I walked that 6th lap a good bit, it was where I had texted for help and considered if I should stop when I got back. The knee brace helped stop all of that. I still had some pain, but it was much more manageable and the transition from walk to run was far easier, I was able to stay at a run much better again and not quit a 31 mile race with only 4.5 miles to go.

Mad Marsh Dirty Feet

Dirty feet and knee brace after Mad Marsh 2013

I can’t say “THANK YOU” enough to Dan, Mary Jo, and Bren! I wouldn’t have even gotten to do this race at all without Dan, though I’m sorry that it took him being injured to make it happen. Mary Jo took such great care of me, the aid station was much less confusing for me this race, and I wasted little time in there so got back on course quickly and saved several minutes over what I wasted at Bad Marsh trying to figure it all out. If you read my post from Bad Marsh I linked above, you’ll see that the aid station was new to me and pretty confusing and crowded at times, this didn’t happen even once this time. Bren kept me from getting my first DNF, because I wasn’t certain what was causing my knee pain, walking 4.5 miles of trail just so I could say “I finished” wasn’t very appealing, and I didn’t want to make it worse and have knee problems for a month. As I write this with a day+ of rest, I can barely remember the pain, only the good times and feeling of accomplishment and thanks to everyone. This must be what they say childbirth is like for women, in that you don’t remember the pain afterward, only the good parts.

Me and Robert Irvine in Disney

Me with Robert Irvine in Disney

I’ve been “receiving” so much lately that it makes me feel like I’m a Taker. Giving really works though, and it doesn’t always work in a 1-1 ratio and it doesn’t always happen back and forth with the same people. I’ve only been a Taker with Dan, Mary Jo, and Bren because they are amazing Givers, in other cases I was the sole Giver and with no anticipation of wanting something in return from them. You can’t look at it like that because it doesn’t work that way. Believe it or not, I can’t make you do it, but it does truly work in wonderful ways. I can’t even believe how many good things have been happening lately, I just can’t explain it. If you become a Giver, you will STILL be a Taker because you’ll have many other Givers in your life, so why not be both?! It’s weird, but you will be both. A friend of mine, Chef Robert Irvine from the Food Network is the epitome of being a Giver and I know it works for him, I’ve seen it many times first hand. Almost every Sunday he tweets something like this,

What You See is NOT What You Get

by Marc on November 17, 2013, one comment

Sometimes we all need a little perspective. We see something one way until someone comes along and smacks us in the head and says “hey, come stand over here and look at it dummy!” Even when we think we’ve looked at it from all angles, there’s usually someone else that can point out what you’re doing wrong and why you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Old Cars on a StreetI saw a post on another site, it was about a bunch of pictures of old cars, you can see one of the old shots here on the left. I love old cars of all kinds. I really prefer the 60’s muscle cars, my first car was a ’68 Mustang, but I appreciate them all. I’ve also pretty much been a Ford guy my whole life, but seeing the old cars of all makes and models, even foreign brands, just stops me and makes me think about days past. The old cars had style, they were designed without computers and built without robots. Some human had contact with those old cars all the way from the idea, to the pencil on the paper, to bolting parts on it, it was true craftsmanship. Modern cars are great too. They get mileage that would put the old ones to shame, and we won’t even talk about the creature comforts. Can you imagine living in a time when air conditioning was an option, or not even available from the factory, so the dealers installed aftermarket ones? But seeing these old pics  just stops me for a moment and lets me daydream of the “good old days” when things were simpler, but still looked great. Open it up and check it out.

Model cars being set up for street shotHowever, what you’re seeing here is really just some recent creative camera work, and likely a little fancy editing, by photographer Michael Paul Smith. Die cast cars and a cheap camera, all shot outside with real life as the background, give his fictional town an old but realistic look from yesteryear. He says the cheap camera works best because the newer models look too good, he prefers a cheap one to hide the details you don’t need to see. In reality all he’s doing is taking pictures of toy cars outside on a table, but with a little perspective, you’re seeing the outside of Beaver Cleaver’s house or an old woody station wagon headed to a drive in.  You can see more of Michael’s work at Visualnews or head straight to his Flickr stream for some really cool pics and the behind the scenes setup of his shots.

1146617_10201024717682774_155824379_nSaturday I went for my first run since my bombed marathon a week ago. It was “just” a 4 miler and I intended to take it easy, not even worry about the time. Get outside and burn some calories, not even look at the GPS. That’s a good thing because it was a slow run. About a mile in my hip flexors starting hurting and I felt like my heart rate was too high. I checked it on my Garmin and it really wasn’t “high,” though it could have been lower for the speed I was running. I just assumed I wasn’t fully recovered from the hard 26.2 I did last week. I even considered taking another week off. A local friend Dan, that organizes several ultra races, had scheduled an informal group run on Sunday though, about 12 miles or so, but really loose on distance, and there are usually all speeds at these. He does a good job with these informal runs, bringing a big water cooler and setting it up half way through the run, on a table with trash baggies, and usually something to eat, he’s an awesome guy and does this because he like to run with others. There was no signup or credit cards involved here either, just an invite sent on Facebook, “Come Run With Us.”

I had clicked the “Maybe” button when I got the invite a week ago, but after Saturday’s 4 miles I thought I’d be stupid to go. Then I got up Sunday morning and sat on the couch with my oatmeal for a bit, doing a little reading, when I got to thinking. I could sit here and be lazy all day “recovering,” or I could go get some miles under the run belt, and do it with others, something I don’t get to do often when training, I run alone a lot. I grabbed all my gear and headed out, texting him saying “I’m on my way, don’t leave without me!” I had a GREAT time! My hip flexors were still sore, but running with others helped pass the miles and take my mind off the pain. I got to talk about what went wrong and where my head was, with ultra runner bad asses that were doing 100 mile races 2 weeks ago, making my measly marathon seem like a walk to the mailbox. We spent a lot of time talking about food and exchanging recipes. I’m still unsure of what happened last week, and at this point I don’t even think I care, but spending some time with others, that have done far more than me running wise, gave me a new perspective. Now I just need to overcome my Resistance and suck it up.

At least I’m back to thinking about racing and training again. I’ll hopefully draw on this over the next week and do some more easy runs and get back in the frame of mind I should be in with less than 2 months before my next race.

Have you ever lost sight of what really mattered and needed help getting refocused? I sometimes spend too much focused on a tiny detail, when I need to step back across the street and look at the whole picture. Maybe you’re good at seeing things from that different perspective, I could use you as a friend! Let me know how it’s affected you by commenting below, and please share with your friends, maybe they need some too, or maybe they can help me.

Finding Success in Failure

by Marc on November 12, 2013, 4 comments

So there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that I set a PR in my half marathon time. The bad news is, I wasn’t running a half marathon, and I bombed the second half of the full marathon. I’ve waited two days to write this so I can clear my head and rethink the day, and again, this isn’t my run blog so I’ll spare you the deep running details.

Rock n Roll Savannah Start LineI had a plan, I’d trained for the race, I thought I could achieve something I’d never done before, breaking a time goal of less than 4 hours, I was in the zone when I lined up. I had friends around me at the start, something I’m unaccustomed to since I’m usually slower than fast, but faster than slow, I spend my runs in between in “no man’s land.” Everything was going great, I was flying, by my standards at least, I was right ahead of pace to break my goal, and felt good. Around mile 9 I caught a friend even, but we got separated at the next water stop. Then I got a knot in my stomach. Not an “OMG I need a porta-potty or a bush to dive behind cramp, just like my guts squeezed up tight for a few minutes. It backed off and I kept going another mile, and it happened again, then went away. I’d had to pee for a few miles but thought I’d wait until mile 11 when the half marathon people turned one way and full went another, because most were doing the half, so the porta-potties would have little to no lines. I hit the first one, in and out quick, but when I turned the corner back onto the course, I just didn’t feel good at all.

I got back up to speed, a little concerned of what was going on, but kept going. I checked my watch and I wasn’t as fast as I’d been before. Still ok, but I was slightly behind pace so losing a few seconds of the 3+ minutes I’d built up. Then I got a little light headed. I never felt like I was going to collapse, though I’ve never done that before so I’m guessing, but I considered stopping at a first aid station I was approaching, but it went away before I got there. It did that one more time a few minutes later, then fortunately not again.

The worst thing of all, I couldn’t eat. For you non-runners or short distance runners, we have to eat on the run. I’m not even sure how to explain this to a non runner, not even sure I understand it myself, but I just could not eat. I even had trouble drinking water, it just hit my stomach and I could feel it crash land, not good. I hadn’t eaten in a while, I was still only around mile 18-19, so a good ways to go, over an hour if I was back at the speed I’d been running earlier, which was long gone.

I’d been getting encouragement from some friends and my wife, but then it hit me that I needed real help. I pulled out my phone and started texting a runner friend that wasn’t at this race. He basically talked me through the last 6 miles, by text. Trying to get some calories in me. I even had put the phone away and tried to run a bit and heard it bling, but wanted to stay focused on running. Then my right hamstring started getting tight so I stopped to stretch it and pull out the phone and dang if he hadn’t texted to say “walk backwards out of the aid stations to keep your legs from cramping up,” like he knew it was about to happen before it did. He tried to keep me focused on moving forward and not worry about what happened or what my time was going to be. Looking back I see now he was telling me to “fly the damn plane.” Thanks a ton Tim.

Some quick mental calculations showed me that I’d let my early gains disappear, my sub 4 hour goal slipped through my fingers like sand. At this point my day turned from beating a goal, to survival. I just wanted to get to the end now without a DNF. The word quit briefly entered my mind somewhere in the 20’s range, but I was able to squash it, about the best mental game I could conjure once it started going downhill. Finishing by just surviving sucks.

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 3.57.27 PMSo what’s my take away? I did run my fastest half marathon, by nearly 10 minutes, I’d sort of like to do another half soon and see how well I can do with that as my focus. I also learned that I could hold a faster pace for over 2 hours, the cooler, drier air did help. It also wasn’t my slowest, or even my second slowest marathon, last year has that honor, by an extra TWO HOURS over this time, so even though it was a fail to me, anyone else looking at my results and not reading this would just say “great job!” I learned that I’m human and “stuff happens,” but that I could overcome failure, even while it was still happening, and get to the finish line without quitting. I never even stopped moving, though there were a few times I just wanted to sit on the curb holding my head in my hands. You can see here where my times started going downhill, though the extra minute at mile 10 was my pee break. I also thought I had walked a LOT more than what these times show on the left, a good powerwalk is in the 16-17 min range, so it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was while it was happening. Isn’t that always the case? Was my goal too lofty? I don’t think so, I was right where I wanted to be, in my target heart zone the whole time, I didn’t burn out too soon. Something just affected me in a bad way. I’m still not sure what it was, maybe I ate something bad the night before or maybe I was slightly sick from something else and the exertion brought it out, I can’t even speculate right now but its never happened before, and hopefully never will again.

Most importantly, the goal is still there for the next race, because I’m not quitting. The next race will be different. Different place with different food, different times, different course, but hopefully back to the “normal” healthy me.

Have you ever failed at something you knew you could do? What did you do to fix it, or are you still trying to get back on that horse and make it happen? Let me know in the comments below, maybe we can help each other.

Have you Ever Prepared for Battle? I Am right Now

by Marc on November 8, 2013, 2 comments

With 24 hours to go, I’m well on my way to doing battle. I have a big race tomorrow, a full marathon which is 26.2 miles. I’ve done it before, 3 times actually. I’ve even run a few ultra-marathons, so I’ve been up to 31 miles in one of them. This one however will be different than all of the others, because I have a goal.

Rock n Roll SavannahI did my first full marathon two years ago, the same race I’m running tomorrow, the Rock n Roll Savannah, it’s my home town race. I spent 10 months training for it. I went through the whole unknown part of training for a marathon, spent months wondering “can I make it 26.2 miles?” I did it. Then afterward something clicked and my brain said “meh, you did that, now what?” I slouched the next year, even though I’d signed up to run the same race, and a few others, trying to get a cheaper entry fee during early bird registration. But I didn’t train. My brain said “you did that already, what are you trying to do now?” It was a comfy 11 months getting fat.

I went out last year and suffered miserably. It was hotter than the year before, I’d done virtually no training, and I was scared because it hit me too late that I was totally unprepared. I probably should have just eaten the entry fee, I didn’t deserve to go out there with people that had put in their miles training. I certainly wasn’t going to come close to what I’d done the year before, there was no point other than to go suffer through it, and that I did. It took me 2 hours longer to finish my second one, in hotter weather, weighing more, it sucked bad.

I had already signed up for another marathon in Disney, just two months later, so I spent November and December doing what I could. That’s not a lot of time when you’ve back slid for a year almost, back to where you were before you even startedalmost. I got to Disney and it was predicted to be unseasonably hot. After baking for over 6 hours two months prior, I went and bought a visor to wear for this one, my forehead just couldn’t take the sun for as long as I knew it would have to. And I went out there and suffered again.

It was somewhere around mile 16 or so, that I said the runner’s equivalent of the drunkard’s prayer. The sun was high in the sky, I had just run a long stretch of almost 3 miles staring nearly straight into it. I had just grabbed two sponges floating in a kiddie pool that Disney had on the course, I don’t know if they usually do that, but if I hadn’t just had something at a water stop, I’d have probably drank that nasty pool water that thousands of other runners had stuck their 16+ miles of sweaty hand into and grabbed a sponge before me.

Marc! If you get through this race healthy, without a heat stroke, I promise I will never put you through another race like this again. If you can’t show up to a race in shape, you don’t deserve to run it. You’ll either put in the training miles or you deserve to just lose the entry fee.

I suffered through the remaining 10 miles and got back to my room for a shower. I hurt, I was still overheated from baking in the Florida sun for 6 hours, even though I was 30 minutes faster than I had been just 2 months prior. But there was a spark.

After a week or so of recovery I started looking at races I wanted to do, there were several throughout the year, but the one I circled on the calendar, in ink, was Rock n Roll Savannah. I sat down and started planning backwards from that date, what my training would be, what races I might be able to do along the way to use as a training aid. I plotted out every run for the next 10 months, just like I had 2 years prior. I knew I was in better shape than back then, maybe not a lot better, but I had a much better base to work with. So I signed up for Rock n Roll 2013 and made the decision to set a PR (Personal Record,) and an ultimate goal of beating 4 hours. I don’t care if it’s by 1 second or 10 minutes, as long as the first digit is a 3.

I ran a half marathon 2 months later, then set my sites on a 50k in late June, my first ultra-marathon. It went much better than expected, plus got a lot of training miles in my legs and built my cardio system back. After a few weeks rest and easy runs, I started my marathon program in July. It’s still hot in Savannah, there’s a saying “hotter than Georgia asphalt” for a reason, so the runs started slow, I began to think I couldn’t get fast enough in 4 months to beat my goal. Then I did a 5k in late July on a cross country course with lots of turns and small hills, and pulled something in my leg, so I ended up losing some time while recovering in August. I got back to training as soon as I could though.

In October I did a 10 mile race in Disney, I had done this one the year before right before the first terrible marathon. It’s a night race, but it had been so humid the year before it was almost unbearable. I was curious how I’d do since I was at least attempting to train now, and I went out and crushed it, at least by my standards. I was pumped the whole time and didn’t want to slow down, right from the get go. I had to pee at mile 3 but didn’t want to waste time standing in a porta-potty line. I considered letting the darkness cover all the modesty I had and just dive to the side of the road, but I really didn’t even want to slow down for that, so I held it for 7 miles. That was a good test, I was much faster than I’d ever been, even if it was only 10 miles.

Then it started cooling off in Georgia finally, the humidity eased up some too, and the training runs got faster. I’d always heard that the rule of thumb was you lost 30 seconds for every 5 degrees over 60, it seems to be about right for me. Then about 2 weeks ago I got a little pain on the top of my foot, its too close to the race to be getting hurt, so I backed off a little, then I stopped running all together a week ago. “Old” Marc would have flipped out with losing over a week of training right before a race, but I know I’m not going to get any faster in a week, especially when you’re supposed to be tapering anyway, and not pushing as hard. So I decided that a week resting and healing would do better than the tiny bit of fitness change either direction that would happen in a week plus risking injury.

So I’m sitting here chomping at the bit, I’m so excited I’m not even sure I can go to sleep tonight. The weirdest thing of all is that this is the first race where I feel like I’m going in to it with the possibility of failing, I’ve never dealt with that before. My training in the past had always prepared me mentally for my goal, but when my goal was “get to finish line,” it really isn’t much of a goal, especially the second or third time around. Even last year when I hadn’t trained at all, I knew I could find the finish, because ANYBODY can do a marathon and find the finish line. But I’d never set a real goal, a SMART goal with a specific time, less than 4 hours. I did the miles, I got faster. I have run a faster pace than I need to, 9:09, and I have run a distance farther than 26.2 miles, but I haven’t proven to myself I can run that fast for that long at the same race.

So tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM, I’ll be at the start line ready for battle. There’s nothing more I can do but eat right, stay hydrated, get what sleep I can, wake up on time and get there. When the gun goes off it all reverts back to the last 10 months. Every mile ran, every bead of sweat left on the road in July, every mile missed hurt or lazy, it will all be revealed if the plan laid out in January, and how well I stuck to it, can help me reach that goal.

If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me at @mb168. My times at certain points will get automatically tweeted, so you can see where I am and even TweetCheer me on. In the past I’ve taken lots of pics and tweeted while running, and I intend on doing some tomorrow, but I will be laser focused on this goal. I will read your encouragement, and I will be lifted by it, so I’m thanking you now in advance for any boost you can give. Wish me luck.

Announcing My New Consulting Job For Under Armour

by Marc on November 5, 2013, 3 comments

I’m excited to announce that last night I took a position with Under Armour to consult on their men’s running line. How exciting!

under-armour-sports-logoAs a distance runner, I’m always on the lookout for something better than what I’m using to make me faster, stronger, cooler/warmer, or more comfortable when running. A few months ago I was in a Dicks Sporting Goods and checked out a clothing brand that I was pretty familiar with, Under Armour. There were other brands there too, Nike and Reebok had pretty prominent displays, but Under Armour was right there between them with just as much product.

I had checked out their gear before, and even have a few UA shirts I’ve used for training runs, decent run shorts were where they were lacking. They didn’t really even have a “run” line of gear back then, just generic training gear for working out. But it seems they are getting in on the run craze now, and I spotted several pairs of shorts that look like good candidates. The first two pair didn’t have pockets, where would I put my gels, trash, beanie cap when I got too warm on a cool day? These weren’t “real” run shorts. Then I spotted a pair with pockets, now we’re getting somewhere. I noted some deficiencies but they seemed decent enough to give a shot. I spend more time training than racing so for shorter runs at home they’d be fine while my good shorts might be in the wash.

After a few runs, up to 10 miles I believe one time, my suspicions were confirmed, there were too many issues to wear these for a full marathon or ultra, they’d be my “training” shorts. Fortunately Under Armour, particularly the UAWomen line, has gotten even more involved with running, and fitness in general, by partnering with the Fitfluential community and become more active socially. I tweeted them once several months ago when they were participating in a Fitfluential Twitter chat and mentioned having recommendations, but didn’t hear back from them.

Last night however, they were listening. They were sponsoring another Twitter chat and as soon as it opened, I tweeted them and they responded immediately, even openly RT’ing it so their followers could see they were interested in what I had to say. So I thought about how I could easily get them the info I needed, 140 characters just weren’t enough, roll footage!

My video response;

And their response?

How awesome is it that we live in a day where a billion dollar corporation is interested in what I, little ole Marc Nobody, runner from Nowheresville, Georgia, has to say, and was excited to hear my public, critical review of their clothing? I’m sure they’ll be contacting me soon about my sponsorship deal before my next race, and picking me up in the corporate jet to fly up to Maryland and further discuss their running line, take that Lance/Nike! I’d also propose better looking running gear for men since women have all kinds of “cute/hot” running stuff, guys just look dumpy in black or blue shorts and one of a few solid color, baggy shirts. Us “crazy” ones might get a little “out there” with a fluorescent orange or yellow shirt.

Under Armour is too big of a sports company not to be involved in running, there are FAR more of us runners than there are football and lacrosse players, and we don’t stop running when we turn 35. I didn’t even START until I was 40! They’d be crazy not to jump in full bore on this when they have a brand that people wear as much because of the popular logo as they do for its comfort and sweat wicking properties while performing.

I’ll be at the airport waiting for you Under Armour…

Be sure to leave me a comment about what you’d like to see from Under Armour, and don’t forget to share with your social media audience by choosing your favorite button below. Just to clarify, I do NOT work for Under Armour, you read no mention of a job offer, though they really should consider me ;-)

Follow This Post And It Will Save You Hundreds, Or Thousands, Of Dollars

by Marc on November 4, 2013, no comments

I’m about to save you hundreds, or thousands, of dollars, right now. All you have to do is follow exactly what I say, it’s the most guaranteed piece of money saving advice I can probably give you. If I’ve already convinced you, scroll to the bottom and follow the instructions and save yourself my spiel. If you just like to read my stuff, or you were immune to my fantastic opening pitch, keep reading.

Ladies and gentleman, I’m here to make you aware of a scam that you’ve been a part of for likely most of your adult life, depending on how old you are. You’ve been duped by major corporations with big marketing budgets and worse yet, tricked in to being happy about it as you forked over piles of cash. The sad thing is that we could have listened to our granddad or great granddad and not been in this predicament.

I struggled with this post, whether or not to put it on my site or not. If you don’t know me personally, I’m in sales, but that wasn’t the purpose of this site. I wanted to be able to share with people and help where I can, motivate if needed, not have my hand out. I decided though that this is something that I KNOW will save you money, and might even help out in other ways as you’ll find out in a bit. I’ve always heard that in order to make money you’ve got to spend money, in this case it will only cost you a few dollars, but you will save that and much more immediately.

What I’m talking about here is shaving. This applies to men and women, but for the sake of this post and brevity, I’m using men as examples. Ladies shave as well I know, and many of you ladies have spouses or significant others that you’d like to save money on, not to mention Christmas is coming and you’ll need to get him a gift, so both sexes read on if you want to keep those bucks in your bank account. You may even want to do your teen sons and nephews a huge favor by setting them straight from the get go, they will thank you later.

1930s-Gillette-double-edged-safety-razor-advertisementBack in the day, men shaved less frequently or went to a barber to get shaved. It was a chore if you couldn’t afford to go have it done, because you had to use a straight razor which required a lot of maintenance to keep sharp and care for, not to mention good technique. In the late 1800s the Safety Razor, or double edge razor, was invented. They all work basically the same despite minor differences in how the blade is held, but basically it was a handle with a captive, double edged, razor blade held at an angle, and a guard to keep you from slitting your throat. I’m sure you saw one of these razors lying in your granddad’s bathroom if he was a clean shaven man. Mr. Gillette invented one with disposable blades in 1901, and quickly realized that this was a fantastic business because it allowed men to shave daily, and the razor itself was inexpensive, but with disposable blades you had to keep coming back and buying more. This became known as the Razor and Blades Business Model, or “freebie marketing,” and is taught to marketers and sales people to this day. If you own a printer you’re familiar with this because even though the printer seems like the expensive part, it’s the $30 ink cartridges that far surpass the printer investment over the life of the printer.

This was how men shaved until the 1970s when Wilkinson invented the “bonded shaving system” which is now known as a cartridge razor. Initially they still had one blade but have evolved over the years to have 5 or more, encased in a plastic, disposable cartridge. It eliminated the need to handle and dispose of razor blades by having very little of the edge exposed, but it was costlier due to more materials and the manufacturing process, and obviously more wasteful. Multi-edge cartridges are also touted as being able to shave “closer,” with each blade getting a little more of those pesky whiskers on every pass. This is where men started to have skin, and wallet, problems.

The way these cartridge razors work, and get their “close” shave, is that each blade is meant to tug the hair up away from the skin so the next one can come along and lop it off further down the strand. The problem is that it can actually cut below the surface because the hair is pulled up and away, out of the skin before being cut, then the, now sharply cut, whisker retracts back under the skin where it doesn’t always grow straight back out of its little hole, and now you get an ingrown hair. It doesn’t happen on my face very much but I have had them on my neck, ladies I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about here as well. They grow under the skin and curl around just under the surface, and make a wonderful red, itchy, bump, until you get a needle or tweezers and pull it out into the open where it belongs. Some men’s faces are more sensitive than other’s and some ethnic groups have major problems with shaving because of sensitive skin, and end up using another expensive product, the electric razor which doesn’t get close at all, or just growing a beard

Expensive razor bladesSo we now are dragging 5 expensive blades across our face, but we KEEP the el cheapo plastic handle for who knows how long? How nasty is that thing that we stick repeatedly into dirty, bloody, toothpaste and spit filled sink water, before dragging it back across our face and scraping open wounds of ingrown hair bumps. Not to mention the handles are usually $10.00 or more themselves. I recently looked at the cost of replacement cartridges and for the most popular models, they range from $3.00-4.00 at the local grocery aisle, though buying in larger quantities can get them down in the $2.50/cartidge range. My great granddad didn’t need 5 blades, he couldn’t have even afforded to shave today, why do I need that many?

Luckily I’m here to help you because there are tons of double edge safety razors on the market, and the blades themselves are still very cheap and can be found most anywhere. I can get them locally for about $.16 each at my grocery store and just ordered some online for about $.10 each. Did you read that correctly? I can buy 30-40 blades for the price of ONE cartridge razor blade! How long would it take you to go through 30 blades when you use both sides each time you shave, so they last longer? The handles come in many styles and materials like all metal, bone, or enamel inlay, and they can range up to over $100. I’m not telling you to do that, but they are just out there.

So here’s the deal, if you buy this extremely cheap all metal razor, and this blade sampler pack, it will cost you about $15.00 today, I’ll try to keep an eye out and update this post in the future, but that’s the price of buying a single pack of replacement cartridge razors for your rotating head, Fusion, Proglide, Quattro, plastic ninja razor, not counting the razor itself. The sampler pack will let you try a few different blades, some work better than others on different people so you can find one you like, especially if you have sensitive skin. It’s a little higher to buy the blades this way but you get to try different ones.

Marc shaving cartoonWhat’s that? You’re afraid of using a double edged razor? Really? You think I’m going to tell you to use something dangerous and then keep myself out there on social media and have my blog comments open for you to come back and tell me you lost a quart of blood and passed out? After your first time or two using this you will be a pro and you’ll be shaving in about the same time it takes your Ninja Chopper 2000 to scrape hairs off your face. Can it take longer? Sure, but it doesn’t have to. There are plenty of videos out there to show you how if you just can’t get the hang of it. There are all kinds of soaps and creams, badger brushes, shaving mugs, pre shave oils, after shave lotions, you name it, it’s out there, and yeah, they are cool. Back in the barber days it was an experience getting a shave, and you can get a few of these things as well if you like to bring this experience into your bathroom, and it is nice. When I take a shower right after a run it’s my favorite time to shave because the whiskers are already softened and the skin exfoliated from the hot shower and it’s when I like to take my time shaving.

All I’m telling you to do though is order a razor and some blades, grab the same can of shaving cream you use now, and shave with it, period. You’re JUST shaving hair, off your face! Once you realize how quick and easy it is, and the fact that you can shave for years on the price you spend now on one pack of cartridges, you might consider looking in to other accessories. I actually bought a nicer handle, I use a Merkur razor that feels really nice in the hand and isn’t very expensive still, about $35-50 but I like it’s weight. It would make a great gift ladies, so if that’s what you’re looking for, check these out. There are even shaving aficionados that seek out the older ones on eBay and local flea markets and if you like it that much, take the time and find the one that tickles your fancy.

That’s it, order it today so you’ll get it right away. The cheap razor ships from China, it takes a few days to arrive, so get it on the way right now, its TWO DOLLARS! Unless you’re on Duck Dynasty, you’re going to need to shave soon so no reason not to start saving, you’re probably close to needing to buy a pack of cartridges anyway. You won’t find a razor cheaper than the one I linked, but if I’ve convinced you and you’re ready to jump right in to this, check out the Merkur razor, Edwin Jagger, or Parker razor. They are all quality razors that will last you and your kid or grandkid’s lifetime, so start a tradition and pass it down to them, or pick them up as gifts for this Christmas. Then buy this pack of 100 blades for a whopping $12.00 and be set for years to come, these are the blades I bought.

Full disclosure, I’m linking you to Amazon, I figure that’s the easiest way to get you somewhere to buy and start saving right now, everyone has an Amazon account these days. You can even try Amazon Prime free for 30 days and most of these will get free and/or expedited shipping if you’re a Prime member so sign up for that if you like. I don’t sell these, but I will make a few pennies off them, as long as you buy it right now, or within 24 hours of clicking one of the links on my site. I figure that for even someone skeptical, $15 is so cheap you’ll just do it right now, this is a no brainer guys, you WILL save hundreds over the coming years. If you think the 8 cents I get off you buying the cheap razor is putting millions in my bank account, and I don’t deserve it, then go buy it elsewhere, it doesn’t matter to me, it’s 8 CENTS! Just please come back and tell me “thank you” when you’re saving far more than that 8 cent you didn’t want me to make. If you decide to get one of the nicer ones, I’ll make a few pennies more, so thank you for supporting the site. If I haven’t convinced you right away and you wait a day, I hope you’ll come back and click my link again, I mean, 8 cent is 8 cent right? You’re about to save triple digits or more in the coming years!

If you do this, please come back and comment on how it went and how excited you are about saving money and sticking it to the man. It’s like saving money by giving up smoking!

Never Work Another Job you Hate, Ever Again

by Marc on November 4, 2013, 3 comments

I got to spend this past weekend in the happiest place on earth, Disney World, my home away from home. It’s only a 4 hr drive from my “real” home, so we have annual passes and go 5+ times each year. I’m also fortunate to have a job that I not only have plenty of vacation time to be able to take off on a Friday, which is what I did this time, but since I can work most anywhere I have an internet connection, I’ve even taken “working” vacations where I work from the room while the family enjoys the pool, parks, or shopping, until I get off and we go spend the rest of the night riding rides and eating great food. It’s been a pretty awesome gig over the years, and who isn’t thankful for a job these days?

Robert Irvine in Disney, EPCOT. Food and Wine FestivalIn October and early November, at EPCOT, they host the International Food and Wine Festival every year. Nearly 30 countries are represented by booths with samples of food, wine, and/or beer from each country. They also have celebrities, usually food related such as Food Network stars, or popular Disney chefs from their resort restaurants, as well as paid seminars, demonstrations, and parties. I got to see chef Robert Irvine’s Kitchen Memories seminar, and even got brought on stage with him for a few minutes, wish I had a picture of that! One of the highlights is the Eat to the Beat concert series where they host bands every night, usually from a few decades past. I’ve seen Night Ranger, the Go Gos, Taylor Dayne, Sister Hazel, Christopher Cross, Boyz to Men, and they’ve had many other artists from the 60s through the 80s.

This year there was a new addition, The Spin Doctors, which is actually one of the newer bands I’ve seen, they had several big songs in the early to mid 90s, including Pocket Full of Kryptonite, Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong, and their biggest hit, Two Princes, and have a new album out now, If The River Was Whiskey. We got to see all three sets, which they mix in several of their new songs, except they have to play their big hits every time, and always closed with Two Princes. Before playing it though, the lead singer Chris Barron, introduced it in a way that struck me “just right,” because it seems to be a recurring theme lately;

“Here’s a song we wrote because it was our job, and now we probably never have to do another job we hate again.”

Wow! How would you like to be able to do a job in your mid 20’s and live off it the rest of your life, or at least be able to do awesome jobs that didn’t suck, forever?! Now don’t get me wrong, bands have a tough life, and I don’t ever recall the Spin Doctors playing sold out stadiums with the Stones opening for them. They likely spent many years in dingy clubs trying to get bar owners to give them a chance, playing for free or even paying to pay. But it’s amazing how some people are able to take a passion and be able to make a living off of it, while others grudgingly head off to the salt mines every day, cursing their pharaoh. These guys suffered for their passion, and it worked out for them, so now they get live the rest of their life doing their passion, instead of a job they all hate. I’m also always amazed when someone like them, that you haven’t really heard of in a while so you assume they slipped off the face of the earth and had to get “real” jobs, but apparently lived wisely since, and didn’t blow their wad. Check out my footage below;

I’ll share another related story that happened recently at dinner with some friends of ours, and we were talking, batting things around, when I asked the wife “what would you do if you were told you had one year to live? Would you change anything and do things different? Would you find your passion?” She paused for a moment, and then looking straight across the table at me, teared up. I was thinking “Oh no! What have I done?! Can I stick those words back in my mouth?” After a bit, never looking away, she said she would quit her job and serve people. I asked what she meant by serve people, like feed the hungry, soup kitchens? She said yes. She looked over at her husband and he said “well why don’t you quit and do that right now?” She said there was no way, she had to work. It came up briefly the next morning at breakfast and she said she wanted to make sure we understood she didn’t hate her job, I knew what she meant though, I have a lot of respect for her saying that. I did mention she could serve people maybe on weekends a few times each month, you never know where a spark will come from.

Are you “stuck” in a job you hate but don’t know what your passion is? Better yet, have you figured out your passion and left that job you hated to follow a dream and made it work? Let me know in the comments below and please share with your followers online as well, there are several sharing options below to choose from.