Category Archives: Fitness Buff Show Radio

Race of the Week: MADD Dash 5K

By Pete Williams

Racing at Al Lopez

This is the first weekend of the endurance sports season and Floridians have no shortage of high-profile options, including the Disney Marathon at Lake Buena Vista, the Ragnar Relay from Miami to Key West, and the new HITS Triathlon in Naples.

For those wanting an easier transition into 2012, there’s the MADD Dash 5K at Tampa’s Al Lopez Park. Organized by Tampa running guru Lynn Gray, it’s a fast course that likely will be run in ideal race conditions. (Think 58 degrees or so.)

Gray, who has completed 93 marathons, has introduced thousands to the joys of long-distance running over the years, most recently through her Take the First Step Program. She joined us this week on The Fitness Buff Show to discuss the MADD Dash and tips on making 2012 your best year yet as a runner. You can listen to that broadcast HERE.

Name of Race: MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Dash 5K – A Resolution Run

When: Saturday, January 7, 8 a.m.

Where: Al Lopez Park, Tampa

History: This is a 10th annual event

Format: 5K, plus a 1-mile kids fun run

Amenities: Long sleeve t-shirts and goodie bags for the first 300 registered runners. Trophies for overall winners, along with masters/grandmasters/and high school winners, along with standard 5-year age groups (9 and under through 80-plus)

Projected Turnout: 300-plus

Cost: $25 for the 5K or $10 for the fun run

Sign-Up: Race day registration available

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio, Race of the Week, Races, Running

Live Laser Hair Removal Radio

By Pete Williams

Laser hair removal is increasingly popular, especially among athletes.

CLEARWATER – The popularity of laser hair removal has soared in the last decade and people have turned to an easy, effective, and increasingly affordable method of hair removal.

Endurance athletes are especially fond of laser hair removal since it gives them a competitive edge on the bike, in the water and in pretty much any other endurance activity.

Terri LaBrecque, owner of The LaBrecque Center for Aesthetics, is one of the foremost practitioners of laser hair removal. Operating out of a spa-like setting with two of the most modern lasers on the market, LaBrecque has provided laser hair removal to hundreds of Tampa Bay area residents.

We’re in the process of a series of treatments with Terri and this week we broadcast The Fitness Buff Show live from her office as I underwent laser hair removal. Looking for the perfect gift for this holiday season for yourself or a loved one? Why not laser hair removal?

Listen to show HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio

Matt Fitzgerald’s “Iron War”

By Pete Williams

Matt Fitzgerald is perhaps the most prolific endurance sports writer in the business. Usually he’s providing terrific instructional advice on training and nutrition, but in his new book IRON WAR he tackles the narrative form, providing a richly-detailed account of the 1989 Ironman championship.

That year, Mark Allen finally overcame longtime rival Dave Scott to win triathlon’s coveted title in an epic showdown in Kona. Fitzgerald examines what drove the two most decorated triathletes in the sport to greatness. The result is a gripping page-turner, even though the reader knows who will win.

Fitzgerald recently joined us to talk about IRON WAR on The Fitness Buff Show. You can listen to that broadcast HERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio, Triathlon

Race of the Week: SUP Splash St. Pete Beach

By Pete Williams

SUP Splash Comes to St. Pete

With the possible exception of adventure mud runs, no segment of the endurance sports race scene has boomed more in 2011 than stand-up paddleboard races. Here in Florida, it’s possible to find one virtually every weekend and there’s now even a regional SUP series to keep up with demand.

The SUP Splash Race Series, which debuted last month at Lake Lanier in Georgia, comes to The Postcard Inn on St. Pete Beach on Saturday, July 16 at 9 a.m. The race is organized in part by Karen Mirlenbrink, owner of the Dunedin Pilates Studio and an accomplished paddler who recently joined us to put us to talk about the race on The Fitness Buff Show.

Name of Race: SUP Splash St. Pete Beach

Location: The Postcard Inn, 6300 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706

History: This inaugural race is the second in the five-race SUP Splash Race Series, which includes two races in Georgia and a season-ending event Oct. 1 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The St. Pete race benefits Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit grassroots organization whose mission is the protection and enjoyment of the worlds oceans, beaches and waves with conservation, activism, research and education.

Format: Six-mile elite race and three-mile open races open to SUP, outrigger, and kayak.

Schwag: T-shirts plus weekend-long goodies. There’s “Welcome Night” packet pickup on Friday, July 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Postcard Inn sponsored by Barefoot Wine. Free appetizers and beverages for racers ($10 for guests). Race entry includes lunch, beer, and awards on Saturday. There’s also a concert later in the afternoon.

Signature Feature: St. Pete Beach is quickly becoming a popular destination for SUP racing with its calm flat water. Course also goes into Treasure Island.

Projected Turnout: 75-100

Cost: $40

Registration: At SUP Splash Series site

1 Comment

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio, Race of the Week, Races, SUP

Spartan Women


By Pete Williams

There are endurance athletes and then there are people like Rebecca Hansen, 49, and Megan Mays, 28, who were among the four women (and just 35 overall) who finished the 45-hour Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, Vermont, last month.

Competitors in The Death Race have no idea how long the event will be – it gets longer every year – and only a vague idea of what obstacles and challenges they must face. This year’s group was forced to do six-hours of squats, wade through 45-degree waters, and spend two nights climbing mountains in the dark.

Oh, and they had to do most of it with heavy logs tied to their backs. No wonder most of the 155-person field dropped out.

Mays, who lives in Tallahassee, and the Naples-based Hansen underwent a staggering amount of training for The Death Race, but even they were amazed at what Death Race creators Joe DeSena and Andy Weinberg threw at them.

We spoke to them in March on The Fitness Buff Show about their preparations for the event and again this morning, 10 days after the race. You can listen to that interview HERE or read an edited transcript below. Here’s our report on the race from a two-hour visit to the site.

Q: How do you feel?

Megan: I feel pretty tired still, definitely recovering. My muscles not happy with me, but mentally I’m ecstatic for going through the race and finishing.

Rebecca: I’m pretty good, feeling back to normal.

Q: How did you step up your training leading up to the Death Race?

Megan on the mountain

Megan: I had the help of a wonderful local gym here in Tallahassee. The owner Laurel Blackburn got very creative coming up with some death race simulations for 12 hours and that was very helpful. We don’t have a lot of mountains in Florida so there was no helping training for that, but putting us through those exhausting, menial tasks that went on forever really helped.

Q:  The event began with a ring of stones ranging from 10 to 30 pounds that you had to squat for five hours. What was that like?

Megan: I was shocked when I heard what we were supposed to do and doubtful I could make it through the first day. One guy dropped one on his foot and broke it.

Q: So now you’re at 1 a.m. in the woods in the freezing water looking for fish.

Rebecca: That was my favorite part of the race. I grew up trout fishing with my dad and the glow of the lights was beautiful. It was freezing but we caught trout in a baggie with our hat and I really enjoyed that part of the race.

Q: I didn’t realize there were volunteers and support crew. Did you meet up with people or bring them along?

Megan: I had an awesome support crew. Three came from Florida and two lived in New York and drove over for the weekend and I definitely could not have finished without them. It was all about team effort.

Q: What were they allowed to help with?

Megan:  They were allowed to clothe, feed you and tell you where you were but they weren’t allowed to touch your gear. They couldn’t put your backpack on you or help you with any of your tasks.

Climbing the mountain

Q: How much of these people did you see?

Megan: In the beginning it was touch and go. They would check on me and bring me food, but toward the end I had one of them with me at all times.

Q: Rebecca, you are involved in ultramarathons, what kind of preparation did you undergo?

Rebecca: The most valuable thing I did was a 60-hour race simulation. I had gone 48 hours without sleep but I wanted to see if I went to 60 what would happen. I slept two hours a night and did race stuff when I was awake and the second night I’m lying on my lawn and fireants crawled on me and bit me. I was groggy and moved to my neighbor’s lawn and the sprinkler goes off. By the third day I was in a stupor and I was really exhausted but I knew if I could get to 60 with that much exhaustion I could get through anything. I did this 10 days before the race.

Q: Megan, when I saw you at the Death Race you were wearing long pants. How did you choose wardrobe for this?

Megan: I wasn’t very well prepared. I brought all of the workout clothes I owned and I knew that I didn’t want poison ivy or bug bites, but I was not prepared for the cold. I had two racers give me shirts off their backs because I was in water and shaking so bad they were worried I would go hypothermic. Just the way everyone helped each other was awesome.

Q: Are there limits to what you can bring?

Rebecca: I had some good people coaching me that had done it before but if I had to do it again – and I will next year – I would take the bare minimum.

Rebecca - running it back in 2012

Q: Just 10 days removed from the race and you’re commited to doing it again?

Rebecca: Andy (race co-founder Andy Weinberg) asked me before the race if I would so I signed up before the race.

Q: Megan?

Q: I have no plans to do this next year but I do have a friend going back so I promised to be on his support team so I’m looking forward to helping him.

Q: You spent long hours climbing those mountains, often in the dark. Did you have much to go by?

Rebecca: We really didn’t. Megan and I met on the second mountain and I was nervous because it was thundering and lightning and there was a nice man that helped us out there. His instruction on how to climb a mountain in torrential downpour was invaluable. The mountain was hell and it just didn’t let up.

Q: It seems like you had to carry a log forever.

Megan: At least a full day and probably more than that – at least 25 or 26 hours.

Rebecca: At least three-quarters of the race. Love the log.

Q: It seems like this race gets longer every year. Does it seem like this harder than what you’ve seen from the last couple of years?

Rebecca: When Andy told me to sign up, it was a 24-hour race. Then it became 36 and then longer. I think because 35 of us finished they’ll bend over backward to make it more difficult and longer and tougher next year.

Q: What was the toughest part of it?

Megan: The biggest challenge was being out there the second night and it was dark and I was tired and going up a mountain and not knowing where I was going. I almost sat down and didn’t get up. Once the sun came up, I felt better and was going down the mountain and I just pushed through those times.

Q: What was your biggest injury in the race?

Megan: I didn’t have too many injuries but I was going into the race with knee problems and they got really achy, especially since half of the race was downhill. I didn’t get any major injuries, but I did see people with gashes and broken fingers.

Q: Could you sense when people were dropping out of race?

Rebecca: It was the second night when a lot of people dropped on that second mountain. I was climbing with some guys and they ditched me. I didn’t realize they had quit the race. As people tired and started to hurt, they dropped out. They weren’t necessarily physically tired but mentally tired. Going through that water and pushing toward hypothermia, people were pushed to their limits.

Q: Was there a lot of swimming?

Rebecca: We were chest-deep swimming across that pond with your backpack. I thought I was going to go under. It wasn’t swimming, more like dog paddling with a backpack and a log.

Q: How tough was handling nutrition during this?

Rebecca:  I thought I had it down from ultramarathoning events. I had ziplock bags of four hours worth of food and the second climb my food floated down the river and I ran out of water and there was a period of eight hours when I didn’t have anything. That was more psychological than anything.

Q: Did it seem like the racers helped each other out?

Megan: Absolutely. I didn’t feel any competition at all but that was because I was in the rear, coming in the back end of the group, I got help from so many other racers so I offered whatever I can. I can’t say I had fun at the Death Race, but it was the most awesome weekend I ever had.

Death Race finishers give thanks

Q: Anything you trained for that you were disappointed wasn’t included?

Rebecca: I thought there would be more barbwire. I set up an obstacle course on my lawn simulating that. I shouldn’t say that otherwise there will be tons of it next year.

Q: What do your neighbors think of this?

Rebecca: They look at me like I’m a lunatic and my kids come out and shake their heads and go back inside.

Q: After finishing the Death Race, it must be a letdown to jump into a local 10K or sprint triathlon. What do you possibly do for an encore?

Megan: I’m setting my sights on mountain climbing. I don’t have Everest in future but I want to summit Denali in the next couple years. I have no mountain climbing experience.

Rebecca: I’m training for my first double Ironman in February and some of the guys I met in the race were talking about Primal Quest next year, so I’m talking about that too.

Read Megan Mays’ blog chronicling her training and race experience HERE.

1 Comment

Filed under Enduring Athlete of the Month, Fitness Buff Show Radio, Races

Race of the Week: Spring into Summer 5K

By Pete Williams

Running at Al Lopez Park

Lynn Gray is a one-woman running conglomerate in the Tampa Bay area. An accomplished age-group runner of all distances, she’s mentored countless runners through her Take the First Step Club. She’s also an author, triathlete, featured trainer in The St. Petersburg Times, and part of the team behind the upcoming Spring into Summer 5K.

The race, which takes place at Tampa’s Al Lopez Park on Saturday, June 4 at 8 a.m., is known for it’s many raffle prizes and large turnout, especially among women. It’s a popular first-time 5K, though many return year after year to do a fast course with a great post-race party.

We spoke with Gray about running and the race this week on The Fitness Buff Show.

Name of Race: Spring into Summer 5K

History: Eighth-annual event

Format: One loop course through shady Al Lopez Park, located near Raymond James Stadium and Jesuit High School in Tampa. Also a one-mile Kids Fun Run.

Amenities: T-shirts, post-race food, raffles, 3-deep age-group awards

Signature Features: Numerous raffle prizes, including donations from multiple Tampa Bay area running stores. “A lot of people are going to go home with something,” Gray says.

Projected Turnout: 350-plus

Cost: $25 for 5K; $10 for Kids Fun Run

Sign-Up: Via or download a printable copy HERE

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio, Race of the Week, Races, Running

Martin Dugard’s ‘To be a Runner’

By Pete Williams

Martin Dugard's latest

Martin Dugard is best known for immersing himself into cultures to produce best-selling books such as Into Africa and The Last Voyage of Columbus, collaborating with Mark Burnett on Survivor-related books, and chronicling his own adventures in top magazines.

But he’s also one of the most prolific endurance sports journalists in the industry, having written the book Chasing Lance and countless magazine articles that have appeared in Runner’s World, Sports Illustrated, and Esquire.

Somehow he finds the time to coach high school cross country in Southern California. In his terrific new book To Be a Runner, Dugard, who turns 50 in June, weaves a lifetime of running experiences into interesting life lessons

We spoke with Dugard on The Fitness Buff Show. You can listen to that interview here or read an edited transcript below.

Q: You write about running “in the tempo zone” as a broader metaphor for life. What do you mean by that?

A: We’re going to have struggles; it goes with the territory. The trick is how you deal with it. Put yourself in the moment and no matter what you do keep everything smooth and level and not let your fears and anxiety overcome you and not burning the candles at both ends. It’s finding that place, that smooth place where you find that balance and that piece of mind and, yeah, that tempo. When you run, when you’re in a really good run where you find that rhythm and groove it just carries you and if you can find that same thing in daily life it’s just an amazing feeling.

Q: You live by the motto of “keep pushing always” and never accepting mediocrity. What’s your philosophy behind that?

A: We live in this world of people getting trophies just for showing up, just for breathing essentially, so we’ve become a culture of that accepts mediocrity, that accepts the status quo. At some point we kind of hold people at arm’s length who dare to push their limits every day but I think that’s what running is all about. When you run, just putting your shoes on and getting out the door, you’re making a choice to be a better version of yourself. And that decision is not just with running but with writing or parenting or coaching. If we push ourselves day by day to be better we change not only ourselves but the world around us.

Q: How does running help you overcome writer’s block?

A: This morning when I was writing I was in a funk. I couldn’t find the right words and everything I wrote seemed boring. I don’t know what happens but when I put my shoes on and head for the trailhead a half mile from my house, within five minutes the words started forming in my head. Something takes place when you step outside yourself where you don’t think so much but let things talk back to you. I just finished a screenplay. It wasn’t just narrative, it was actual characters and I’d go run and these characters talked to me to the point where they became real people. So when I began to write their dialogue I got back to the office and knew what to write. Running helps us organize our thoughts, our decision making process and frees us up to think and to write with a lot more clarity.

Q: You live around some beautiful trails with some dangerous wildlife. Any close calls?

A: I’ve had more close calls than I realize. I know mountain lions are out there. I never run on trails at dusk or dawn, which is prime feeding time. I’ll hear the snakes moving in the dry grass or I’ll see the paw prints and wonder if that’s a dog, coyote or mountain lion. I’ve seen them in the distance, seen bobcats. But I wouldn’t run as much if I couldn’t run on trails and that’s one of the tradeoffs. You have to suspend fears and keep your eyes and ears open, but there’s nothing like trail running. It changes your world view and just your entire day when you’re out there.

Q: What do you attribute the latest running boom to?

A: Whenever there are hard times economically running spikes and I don’t know why that is but I know running has changed. When I became a runner it was more competition driven, more people running sub 3-hour marathons that today. You see a lot of people who just like the feeling of doing a half marathon at their pace. They may walk some but they’ll see their friends and have a great day. It’s not about competition, but attempting something that’s beyond your ability and that’s where running is going.

Q: Is running an easier sell to kids today?

A: Cross-country runners are still kind of geeky but with the success of my girls team and the boys to a lesser extent, we’ve had more kids come out and just try it. They learn all of these great things that come from running, the idea of perseverance and putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll finish the goal. When I competed in high school, the girls were treated like girls, definitely considered the weaker sex. Now I coach the girls team the same way as boys, just as hard and demanding. The girls step up and I think mentally they’re tougher and they allow themselves to compete and be a little bit of a badass and change their definition of what it means to be a runner.

Q: How do get people past the notion of running as “long, slow distance?”

A: It’s really a misnomer. When Arthur Lydiard coined LSD he meant long, steady distance and that’s a difference. Even now I have runners say that since they worked hard yesterday today they’re going to just jog four miles. No, let’s go a little deeper, 85 percent instead of down to 75 percent. A couple friends of mine, women, have asked me to draw up marathon programs. They’re non-runners or at least first-time marathon runners and I asked them to do speed work. Not four 100s in 60 seconds but simple vvo2 stuff – 200 on, 100 off – and the great thing is it informs your form and that translates into your next run even if it’s a longer run. At first they don’t think they can do it and feel uncomfortable on the track. But once you introduce them to speed as opposed to volume they push themselves and get more competitive.

Q: Do you find that’s the ‘aha’ moment for many runners?

A: I totally find that. There are days I don’t get that run in the morning and I only have 25 minutes later and I need to do something. If I do something as simple as a 200 at 2-mile pace followed by a 100 jog with the same work to rest ratio within six or seven laps I’m drenched with sweat. Within 20 minutes, I’ve had a great workout, my endorphin levels are off the chart, I feel great and in that short period of time I have gotten a little more efficient.

Q: How is running a metaphor for overcoming obstacles?

A: It’s funny. When I wrote this book I didn’t set out to write it this way. I had some thoughts about running and as I wrote these essays these themes came through and I realized what a profound change running has made in my life. I road bike and mountain bike but you’re at the mercy of a machine if you get a flat. If you run, you’re in charge. It’s just you and there’s something fortifying about that. Those themes came forward and I wanted to spread the word.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness Buff Show Radio, Running