Just a guy who found exercise late in life. I absolutely LOVE running and CrossFit. But, you'll only have to be around me for a few minutes to figure that out.


What a difference a day makes! I feel a whole lot better this morning than I did yesterday morning. I got about 7.5 hours of sleep, and actually woke up before my alarm clock. Energy levels seem to be OK so far. I’m betting it’s the awesome Taco Salad I had for dinner last night. Hopefully it was, because it’s also what’s for lunch today.

Frustrating afternoon with work stuff, which seems to affect me worse right now when I’m hungry. Puts me in a bad mood quickly.

Another day off from working out. I might go for a 2 mile run tomorrow just to stretch the legs out some before my 10K race on Sunday. I picked a weird time to start this life-change. I’ve got my first 50K in two weeks. I’m more than a little worried that my energy levels won’t be where they need to be by then.


4 Eggs
Bell Peppers

Taco Salad


Baked Chicken
Sautéed Zucchini
Kale with bacon
Boiled Carrots

Planning ahead is definitely key to success on #Whole30 for me and my wife. We are incredibly busy with work, exercise, and the kids school and extra-curricular activities. Prior to Whole30, we easily fell into the trap of it being easier to go out for dinner, or make something frozen. If we don’t stay on top of things and make sure we have meals planned out, and ingredients needed for those meals, we’ll definitely fail at this.

I skipped working out this morning. The two previous days I’ve felt such a lack of energy, so I’m going to rest up for a couple days and see if that helps things. I ended up getting about 8.5 hours of sleep last night, but feeling extremely sluggish this morning. I had a slight headache on the way into the office. Not sure if that’s just allergies, if that’s sugar detox affecting my body, or something else. I had my first ever cup of black coffee. I’m not a fan, but thought the caffeine would help as a pick me up.

Felt a little like I was on an emotional roller coaster today. The “good part” of it was at least I knew when I was being irrational, although it didn’t help me not be irrational. Hoping for a better day tomorrow.



Bacon wrapped Chicken Breast
Bell Peppers
Banana w/Almond Butter

Taco Salad



Raspberries and mango

Spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, hard boiled egg, and almonds
Bacon wrapped Chicken

Sauteed Spinach
Mango and Raspberries

My CrossFit workout didn’t go well at all this morning. Felt winded and tired after the skill work, which shouldn’t have been THAT much of a challenge for me. The MetCon just sucked all the life out of me though. It was a combination of overhead squats and burpees. The overhead squats seemed heavy, and I was spent after doing just a few burpees. I was able to grind out and finish, but it wasn’t pretty. Between being in Las Vegas for a few days, having GI issues yesterday, and starting #Whole30 yesterday, I’m really not sure what is to blame. I’ve got a race on Sunday, so I’ll be taking a few days off to rest up for that. Hoping to run the race strong, and be back at CrossFit on Monday feeling strong!

The rest of the day was OK. I felt tired several times throughout the day, took a 15 minute power nap at one point which helped immensely.

Last two nights, I’ve been full after dinner, but still wanting to eat something. I guess that’s the cravings… Not so overwhelming at this point, but hope they don’t get worse.

Biggest craving today? Soda…



I’ve been exercising on average 4-5 days a week now for just over 2 years. I’ve never felt better than I do now. I don’t think I’ve ever been in better shape than I am right now. But I think I’ve plateaued on losing weight, or more specifically losing the last several inches of fat around my midsection. I messed around with the Paleo diet earlier this year, but something came up, or whatever, that I ended up not sticking to it very well.

Last month when one of the coaches at CrossFit Chickasaw was talking about “clean eating” and this #Whole30 program, it piqued my interested. After researching it, and also seeing many MANY testimonials on how amazing the results have been, I decided I wanted to give it a try. Well, lucky me, it turns out the same coach got a group together to all start at the same time. While the program advocates starting right now, we as a group decided to wait til after Labor Day, because we all knew there was a good chance of falling off the wagon during Labor Day weekend activities. This worked out REALLY well for me, because I spent Labor Weekend in Las Vegas for my wonderful wife’s birthday. So yeah, #Whole30 would have made that trip a lot less fun.

The group officially started the #Whole30 Challenge yesterday (September 4th, 2012). My wife (who is also doing the challenge with me) suggested that I kept a journal of the next 30 days. I thought, well heck, I’ve got a blog, what better place to do it then there! My goal is to do a post every day about what I ate, how I felt, etc on the previous day. I’m sure I’ll miss some days, but I’ll try to catch up when I do.

If you’d like more information on what I’ve signed myself up for, check out the book “It starts with food.” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, and also check out

So, without further ado, I’ll fill you in on yesterday --


4 eggs
1/2 cup of mixed fruit

Grilled Tilapia
Grilled Zucchini
Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Steak
Grilled Pineapple

I woke up feeling sick, and having some GI issues. I actually contemplated not going to CrossFit, but decided I was just being a wimp. Well, turns out, things got worse once I got to the gym, so I ended up having to leave before the MetCon started, which really bummed me out. Things didn’t improve for me until around lunch time. My GI issues seemed to go away, and in general felt pretty good.

The only other mishap for the day was going a couple hours past the point where I should have eaten. My wife and I didn’t get back in to town until the afternoon on Monday, and then I had to work for several hours. So we never made it to the grocery store, or Whole Foods to get our first few days of food. Last night after picking up the kid from football practice (my stomach was already rumbling from hunger), my wife and I went to Whole Foods, and from there went to Costco. Unfortunately this meant that we didn’t get home to START cooking dinner til after 7. I ended up losing it and snapping at my wife about helping me cook dinner so we could eat sooner than later. Not a great way to start off this #Whole30 challenge.


I’m running as a “hero” for St. Jude this year at the Memphis Marathon in December. Below is the email I sent out to friends and families soliciting their support for this great hospital


Friends, Romans, countrymen lend me your ears... Wait that's not right.

Friends, Family, and everyone else... Still not right.


I am running the St. Jude marathon again this year. This year, however, I am running as a hero for St. Jude and committed to raising $5,000 for the hospital. I'm not the best wordsmith, but I'm going to attempt to explain why I'm doing this...

I first ran in the St. Jude race 2 years ago, and can't begin to describe to you the overwhelming emotions that was over you as you run through the St. Jude campus. The children have gotten out in advance of the race and drawn all sorts of pictures and written messages on the asphalt in chalk. The patients, their families, and many of the staff are out there yelling and encouraging each runner as they go by. It quite literally brought tears to my eyes the first year I ran the race. At the time I was only a few months into running, and trying to complete a half marathon. I followed a run/walk/run pattern on runs prior to this race, but it hit me as I was running through the campus that these kids don't have the opportunity to stop and take a break whenever things get too tough. They have to stay the course and remain strong throughout their treatment. It actually inspired me at the time to run further than I had ever run before without stopping and taking a walk break. Add to this hearing a former St. Jude patient sing the national anthem at the start of the race. Last year seeing a family around mile 25 of the marathon with a huge professionally printed banner with a picture of their child and dates of birth and date of losing their fight with cancer which was only a month earlier than the race. I'm getting teary eyed just sitting here thinking about these moments again... All of these things inspire me to not only run the race again, but to raise money for the hospital that does so much for so many and asks for nothing in return from those it helps.

Danny Thomas said that "No child should die in the dawn of life." and trying to ensure that doesn't happen has always been the mission of St. Jude. It costs $1.7 million per day to run the hospital, and no family is ever asked to pay anything for the treatment their child receives at St. Jude. During the past five years, 81 cents of every dollar donated has supported the research or treatment at St. Jude. The overall goal for fund raising for this race is a mere $5 million. Not even enough to keep the hospital open for a full 3 days. But every little bit helps. With every single donation they receive, they can continue their research and providing the life saving treatments to their patients.

I recently read a story about Danny Thomas. He had a dream one night where he walked through the hospital and was turning off the lights. He walked out the front door and locked the doors behind him. They had cured childhood cancer and there was no more need for the hospital. Unfortunately this was just a dream, but every day they get closer to making it a reality. In the 1960s the survival rate for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was less than 10%. Today with the help of research at St. Jude that survival rate is now well over 90%.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of St. Jude opening it's doors. Please consider making a donation to help them continue their half century of work in curing childhood cancer. You can donate online at the link below, or if you'd like send me an email and I'll give you my address to mail a check.

To donate online:

Brian Swanson


This post is way off topic, so feel free to skip it. A friend recently posted the picture below, having solved the “tee game” available at Cracker Barrel (and I’m sure other fine establishments). A winning solution to this puzzle is one of the many pieces of useless information I have stuck in my head, so I thought I’d pass it on to you…

Have you ever wondered how to solve the “tee game” at Cracker Barrel? You know the one where you jump from one hole over another tee to an open hole and it allows you to remove the tee you jumped? The objective of the game is to leave just a single tee.

(Source: Brad Montgomery)

Here’s the solution… Numbering the holes from left to right, starting at one of the tips of the triangle and moving down to the base, it would look something like:

      2   3      
    4   5   6    
  7   8   9   10  
11   12   13   14   15


So put a tee in each hole except hole #1 to start the game. Now, follow the move instructions below and you’ll end up with a single tee left and can show your friends and family how smart you are.

  1. Move from #4 to #1, and remove tee in #2
  2. Move from #6 to #4, and remove tee in #5
  3. Move from #1 to #6, and remove tee in #3
  4. Move from #7 to #2, and remove tee in #4
  5. Move from #10 to #3, and remove tee in #6
  6. Move from #13 to 4, and remove tee in #8
  7. Move from #14 to #5, and remove tee in #9
  8. Move from #2 to #7, and remove tee in #4
  9. Move from #3 to #8, and remove tee in #5
  10. Move from #11 to #4, and remove tee in #7
  11. Move from #4 to #13, and remove tee in #8
  12. Move from #12 to #14, and remove tee in #13
  13. Finally, move from #15 to #13, and remove tee in #14

    Congrats! You’ve solved the puzzle and only have one tee remaining Smile

Someone asked me the other day if I was having a mid-life crisis, because I’ve signed up for my first ultra-marathon, and I recently jumped out of a perfectly good airplane on purpose. My immediate response was that, No, I’m not having a mid-life crisis. (1) No matter how old I seem to get, I still often don’t think of myself as an adult, so it’s hard to even think of myself as “middle-aged”. But, being 37 now, it might be time to realize that I am in fact an adult (like it or not), and also I am middle-aged. (2) For me a mid-life crisis conjures up images on buying a fast sports car, and getting some young girlfriend to make me feel young because I’m feeling old. That just does NOT describe me.

As I thought further about whether I was in a mid-life crisis, I realized that I was actually having one a couple years ago. How else would you describe someone being 35, the heaviest they’ve ever weighed, trying to play racquetball and not being able to play for more than 10 minutes at a time without taking a break? At that point, I also had zero motivation to exercise. I didn’t even think of racquetball as exercise, that was just going and having fun with my brother. Around that same time I had looked into sky diving and realized I couldn’t do it because I weighed too much. I’m not sure if there’s a weight limit for jumping solo, but your first jump has (needs) to be a tandem jump. The clips that connect you to your tandem instructor do have a weight limit, and trust me, this is not a time where you want to try to fool yourself or anyone else into being lighter than you really are. I started to get pretty down, but then also realized it was a solvable problem.

My wife had been trying to get me to exercise since before we got married. So I decided to start doing a little running to see if I could get in shape. Within a week or two of my beginning to run, I had a conversation with the guy who is now my long run partner almost every weekend, Scott Smith. He had made a similar decision to try and lose weight and started running. This seemed like an amazing coincidence, but a great opportunity. Since neither of us were runners, we could help motivate each other, and run together sometimes. I believe we even made a pact that we’d run the 2010 St. Jude Half Marathon in December. This would give us the push we needed to keep running, and it was kind of a bucket list item to run such a long race.

Friends For Life 5K finish

Finishing my first 5K

Fast forward a week or so, and I was at a July 4th pool party at a friend’s house. I was talking to a few friends about an upcoming 5K, and a lady at the party started talking to me about the Memphis Runners Track Club. She mentioned their annual Road Race Series, and how it would be a great build up to running the St. Jude Half Marathon. Needless to say this was exactly what I think I needed. Basically 10 races, happening usually every other week, starting with a 5K, and ending with a half marathon just 2 weeks before the St. Jude race. Two 5Ks in July, two 5-milers in August, two 10Ks in September, two 10-milers in October, and finally two Half Marathons in November. As long as I continued running, adding mileage each week, and stay injury free, I’d be able to run the St. Jude Half Marathon.


Finishing my first half marathon

Needless to say, I’ve stuck with it, and have since taken it beyond the half marathon. To date, I’ve completed 10 half marathons, and 5 marathons. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve signed up for my first ultra marathon which will take place in September 2012. So, yeah, I was suffering from a mid-life crisis of sorts. But I faced it head on, found a new passion for running, and have a better and more fit life as a result.



Scott and me after finishing the 2011 Little Rock
Marathon (our first marathon)

I’ve sat down to write another post so many times. But I get lost in wanting to say too much, so don’t write anything. Then, more time passes, and I’ve got even more that needs to be said… At some point you just have to draw a line in the sand and get things going again.

The last time we saw the hero of this tale, he was within a week of his first major “A” race of the year, the Germantown Half Marathon. He was confident (probably to the point of being cocky), and had no doubts he was ready for the race. And then race day came, and he had a horrible day.

When I showed up at the Germantown Half Marathon on race morning, I was jittery like I had never been jittery at a race before. I had my game plan, and was ready to execute it. My stomach was tied in knots and I was feeling ill. But as several of my friends can tell you, for me when my stomach isn’t right before a race, there’s a good chance I’m about to have a great run. No idea why that’s the case, but prior to this race every time I feel sick before a race, everything goes calm during the race and I have a phenomenal run. That didn’t happen during the Germantown Half Marathon unfortunately. I ended up getting sick twice during the race. After it happened the first time, I was mentally shaken. I had been really positive up to that point and felt like I could have the huge PR I was looking expecting. But after I got sick, I just kept thinking negative thoughts, and things just kept going down hill from there.

At the end of the day, I still completed a half marathon. I’ve learned since the race that I need to be grateful for the gift of running that I get to experience. While there will be days where I can be happy with how fast I was, I need to not focus on the off days where the speed isn’t there. I need to remember that sometimes my “bad run” is still faster than some people have ever done the same distance.

After the Germantown Half Marathon, I took some time off from training. I had been on a constant training cycle with no breaks and several huge races for almost a year. It was time to relax a bit and give my body a rest. I ran when I wanted to, where I wanted to, and how far I wanted to. I’d call up friends and ask them what their runs were on a given day, and if it sounded fun, I’d join them. Once we got out on the run, sometimes they’d tell me I could go on if I felt good, and I told them it was their run, I was just along with them. So if we needed to slow down, it was not a problem for me. Doing these runs with friends is some of the best fun I’ve had, and probably the most relaxed I’ve been while running since I started. It’s amazing how much better I felt when I hadn’t put the pressure of expectations on myself for a run.

Somewhere in all this “free running” I was doing, I decided that I wanted to run a marathon distance training run to test myself. My previous two marathons were both run with friends, and we stayed together the entire time. I really didn’t push myself to my limits to see what kind of shape I was in. I picked a 5.25ish mile course in Bartlett, and decided I’d do 5 loops. This would allow me to run by my truck every 5 miles and refill my water bottle, take in a Gu, etc. So I wouldn’t have to drop stuff along a really long course and hope it was there when I needed it. I then sent out an email to my running friends and told them my plan. I asked them if they wanted to join me for one or more of the loops. I was pretty sure no one would be interested in doing all 5 loops with me, but if they could get in a 5-10 mile run they’d be pretty happy, and help pace me through my day. I intentionally ran the first loop by myself. I wanted to set my own pace, and get into the groove on my own and not have to worry about anyone else. My buddy Scott joined me for the second and third loops. My friend Petey joined me for loops three and four. Finally my brother Jeff joined me for the fifth loop. It turned out to be a GREAT run for me. First and foremost, probably because it didn’t matter, I relaxed and just did it. Second, because of having great friends out there on the course with me, it took my mind off the fact that I was running so far. Each time we started a loop, it just felt like we were out for a 5 mile run. By no means did I do this run at anything I’d consider to be my marathon pace. This was just a long training run. But, I ended up PRing the marathon distance by almost 30 minutes. GREAT DAY for me…

Since then, I’ve continued running, and only recently did I start back to an actual training schedule. I’ve got every day’s training mapped out from now until the end of the year. This would probably make a lot of people crazy, and seems like it would be stressful. But, I know that I’m listening to my body after each workout, and I’m not afraid to adjust the schedule accordingly to the feedback I’m getting from my body. I’ll add in extra rest days when I feel like I need it, and won’t be stressed out about the missed workouts. Also, I’ve started doing CrossFit training at CrossFit Chickasaw in Memphis. The great team of coaches over there take their time with each person that comes through the door. They make you feel welcome, and help you with your fitness goals no matter what your starting point is. I feel like I’ve already made significant gains, since I’ve started working out there. In addition to doing CrossFit, I’ve scheduled in a fun run each week. On Thursdays, I meet a group of friends for a lunch time run at Shelby Farms on the Tour de Wolf trail. It’s an almost six mile run, but while we are out there, pace doesn’t matter, we’re just some friends out for a run together. Some days it’s harder than others because of heat or whatever else we might have done that week, but it’s always fun…

Until next episode, may your days be happy and your runs fulfilling…

So I’ve only been running for not quite 2 years, and as a result I haven’t tried many different methods for training for any given race or distance. Up to this year, I’ve pretty much just Google’d “training plan” and whatever distance I wanted to train for, looked at the various results and picked one that matched up well with my schedule and such. This year, I’m training differently for a race. My next peak race is the Germantown Half Marathon which is now just under 2 weeks away. Instead of following a running training plan, which slowly built up miles until I peaked at 13.1 on race day, my mileage has been limited. I’m doing speed work 2-3 times a week, and I think my 3 longest runs are two 8-mile runs and one 10-mile run. The focus has been almost entirely on cross training and speed work. I started CrossFit a month ago, and have been doing that at least 3 days per week, as well as some sort of running training 3-5 days per week. I feel really well prepared for the race in two weeks. I *KNOW* I will PR at the race, the question is just by how much over my current PR of 1:54:53 which I did in early November 2011.

Of course with the Germantown Half Marathon being less than two weeks away, I’ve now begun my obsessing over the course, race strategy, fueling, etc… I’m going to run 11 miles of the course this weekend. I’d actually like to run the whole course, but my coach was insistent that I run 11 miles and no more. Beyond that run, I’ll do CrossFit 4 times this week, 3 times next week, and several running speed workouts as well.

So training is going well so far. Mileage is way down, but I’m doing speed work several times a week. I’ve also started a 6 week CrossFit fundamentals class that I’m enjoying. Is it weird that of all my published goals (see right sidebar) the goal I’ve made the most progress with is trying 50 new beers? According to untappd I’ve tried 16 new beers already this year. Hmmm there’s a small chance my priorities are messed up, but I’ll go have another beer while I consider that…

About Me

I'm a guy who found exercise late in life, and loving pushing myself to new limits.

2015 Goals:
Complete my first Half Ironman
Get back to sub-8 min/mile average pace for 5K

Emailed Blog Posts

Race PR

5K 2012 MayFest 5K 21:36
4-miler 2012 Cooper Young 4-miler 33:43
5-miler 2012 RRS 2nd 5-miler 38:27
10K 2011 RRS 1st 10K 48:53
Half Marathon 2012 RRS 1st Half Marathon 1:50:36
25K - trail 2014 Swampstomper 25K 3:25:49
Marathon 2012 My Bartlett Marathon 4:25:22
50K - trail 2015 Mississippi Trails 50K 7:01:50
50 miler - trail 2013 Mississippi Trails 50 11:51:33
Olympic Triathlon 2015 Memphis In May Triathlon 3:32:26
Half Ironman Triathlon 2015 Ironman 70.3 Austin, TX 8:17:42

(Ultra)Marathon Results

3/7 Mississippi Trails 50K 7:01:50
1/11 DisneyWorld Marathon/Dopey Challenge 5:13:35
12/6 St. Jude Marathon 4:55:50
9/14 Stanky Creek 50K 7:14:45
10/13 Chicago Marathon 4:44:52
03/02 Mississippi Trails 50 miler 1:51:33
02/09 Mississippi River Marathon 4:48:13
01/20 Swampstomper 50K 7:51:03
12/1 St. Jude Marathon 5:15:20
04/07 My Bartlett Marathon 4:25:22
01/08 Disney World Marathon/Goofy Challenge 5:26:25
12/03 St. Jude Memphis Marathon 4:50:59
04/09 Andrew Jackson Marathon 5:40:11
03/06 Little Rock Marathon 4:57:12