Rev3 Williamsburg Half Triathlon: P. Mark’s Race Report

Choices and Consequences

Going 70.3 miles is always a challenge.  I entered this race knowing that just the day before I had experienced some semi-random leg cramps.  I had made some poor nutrition choices on the drive from Knoxville, TN to Williamsburg, VA on Friday.  My choices had consequences.  I had too much sugar and caffeine trying to stay awake on the drive. I figured that since this was a not a major goal race, I could cheat for just a few hours.  That may be a reason, but I was well aware that it does not constitute an excuse for a poor performance.  Time to buck up and tough it out.  I entered the swim stage of the Williamsburg Half with determination to not let this ruin my day.

Lesson/Reminder:  You can’t outrun a poor diet.

The Swim

I have made very slow progress on my swim over my 2.5 years in triathlon, but it is progress.  I entered the water thinking an average swim time would be fine.  I did not try to push it.  I told myself repeatedly: “Do not race; just get into a rhythm and swim.”  This worked well for me.  I did start to feel a cramp trying to happen in my right calf.  Every time it began to threaten to active, I simply relaxed my leg and started my rhythm anew.  That got me through the swim with an average official pace of 1:54 per 100 meters.  It was a solid start for a B race.  I was happy.

The Bike

The bike course was beautiful!  We went down scenic back roads and the course was mostly flat.  There were a few wrecks, unfortunately.  I was happy to stay healthy and upright.  I did face some minor cramping episodes.  Each time it started, I would relax until it dissipated.  I tried salt, water, food, fancy hydration mixes… none of them helped for very long.  This was not an issue that started in the race.  I don’t know why I thought I could solve it quickly during the race.

In between a few breaks for stretching and a visit to the porta-potty, I was able to keep my moving pace around 19 to 20 mph for a lot of the time.  After a while, my breaks saw a familiar set of people pass me as I stayed there stretching, fueling, etc.  Then I would get on my bike and very gradually pass them again.  It was déjà vu all over again as I took another break and then caught the same athletes.  It was kind of fun.  More importantly, I knew that I was maintaining my overall average pace at the goal of 18 mph.  I didn’t care if I looked good doing it.  The breaks eased my cramping for a while.  I was managing just fine.

The Run

When I started the run, I had in mind to maintain a 9 min pace per mile.  That did not last for very long.  The cramps were catching up with me.  It was hot.  I drank an enormous amount of liquid (by my standards) and never got that sloshy feeling.  I was sweating it out as fast as I could pour it in.  The first half of the run was solid, but I was getting more crampy.  The second half of the run saw me walking a lot more.  I did not walk because I was tired.  I was not tired.  I had more energy than my body could use.  I only walked when the crampy twitches were about to turn into a full-fledged cramp.  I have dealt with cramps for years, so I know when that moment has arrived.  I would only walk as many steps as it took for that feeling to subside.  It stayed longer each time as the miles went on.  My right hamstring finally locked up with 0.2 miles to go.  I stood for about 45 seconds before my muscle calmed down enough to walk and then jog.  I ended up averaging 10:12 per mile on the run.  That is a full 1:12 per mile slower than the planned pace, but not bad for the heat and my present situation.

The End Results

I finished the whole thing in about 6:05:30.  This was a little slower than my goal of sub-6.

Regardless, this race was a success for several reasons:

  • It was a Personal Best for a half distance triathlon (70.3) by 17 minutes!
  • The swim was solid and a slight improvement.
  • The bike goal of 18 mph was met, a big improvement.
  • I had fun on the run.

Again, this was not a goal race.  My big goal race is the Rev3 Cedar Point Full Triathlon in September.  This was a test.  I failed at nutrition before the race, but the race itself was a solid success.

Enjoy the run!

P. Mark Taylor


Tellico – Summer Solstice Sprint Tri Race Report

Its about time for another race report! This past weekend was the Tellico Summer Solstice Sprint Triathlon – 800 M Swim, 16 Mi Bike, 5k Run

tellico logo

As with most weekends, mine was filled with working, racing, and training.  This weekend was the Triathlon on Saturday and the runs on Sunday.  I was working both days and on Sunday I was to attempt a Century ride on my bike.

On race mornings, I usually have to report for duty at 5am.  Mark and I showed up, and I got everything set up for registration, packet pickup, and volunteer assignments.  Luckily Saturday there was ample volunteers, including the injured Bob Pair, so that I could have time to set up my transition items.

Proud to say I remembered everything! Whoohoo! So swim start was 7:36 for third wave, and off the women went!

tellico swim start

So I wanted to use this sprint as a test.  The test was to push super hard on the swim and bike, and savor what I had left on the run.  I didn’t let everyone go for the wave start.  I jumped right up with them.  Obviously I didn’t stay with them, but the fact that I stayed and endured the elbows, kicks and knees was huge.

I got out of the water at 22 minutes.  Not the best time, but accomplished a goal in open water.

Got ready for the bike and headed off.  This course was a tough one, but good one.  It took us out on the Tellico parkway about 6 miles, then a quick hilly turn off of the main drag, then bringing us back in a few miles up the road.  Last week at the Lakeside Oly, I discovered some issues with my bike.  I thought we had them fixed, but I kept dropping my chain as I would switch from big to little ring.  This slowed me down, and I hesitated to put the chain to the little ring several times, ending up in a grinding climb each time!

Made it back at 58 minutes.  Again not my fastest time, but I was happy to be off the bike!

Now for the run.  Yes the beloved run, my favorite part, the part where I know what I can do, and do it.  The humidity was down, so the run actually felt bearable! I headed out and quickly made it back to the levy.  The sun was beating down, but I knew I would be done before I knew it!

Sure enough I headed into the finish line with a run time of 24:10 for a total time of 1:48:02.

tellico finish

I wanted to age group, but with so many key players in my category, I didn’t think it would happen.  Thanks to the super fast women in my group getting bumped up to overall cats, I got 3rd Place! I’ll take it because I know what I’m up against.

award - tellico

Seriously, there are some amazing women that I strive to be like.  Lana, Holly, Brooke….all in my AG and warriors in triathlon!

Overall, I wanted to PR at this tri.  It didn’t happen due to current in the water and a stupid chain, but I had fun and rocked it in my head! Great turnout for my club, Rocky Top, and great race for my company, Endurance Sports Management!

#RaceWithBase #e3tri #RaceESM #REALwomenmove #skirtsports #ironmuna #tellicosprinttri16 #rtmcknox


Westpoint Lake Oly – The adventure continues!

So I’m a little behind on getting this report out, but with the start of the season and my overflowing schedule….well, this got out when it could!

So the weekend of the race, April 24th, my hubs and I set out Saturday afternoon on one of our adventures! This time we were heading to Southwest Georgia so I could compete in the WestPoint Lake Olympic Tri!

This would be my first TRI of the season, and I was anxious to see if my off season training was going to pay off.  I felt healthy, with the exception of my tummy issues.  I had recently been to a GI nutritionist to tell me if I had IBS or just food sensitivities that was getting worse and making me miserable.  Turns out I was dealing with Candidiasis, or yeast overgrowth in my tummy.  This was more than likely caused by some antibiotics I took last November.  The good news was that I found it, the bad news was that I was going to have to embark on a very serious nutrition protocol to restore balance to the kingdom of my digestive system.  Thats another blog….now back to WPL!

Morning of the race we headed from the hotel.  Sally, our newest puppy, was along with us. She did her business and was ready to roll, as was I ;o).  We were only a few miles from the park, but traffic was backed up horribly.  We finally parked and started on the long walk to packet pick up.  My husband has been in a boot for a few weeks so I had to take off and leave him so I could make it to registration.  His foot was exhausted from walking.

The organization flowed well, and without much time to spare, I was set up in transition and waiting at the swim start!

The lake was beautiful, and my wetsuit was finally feeling a little like it was fitting.  Water temp 69 degrees!

Finally got to get in!

Swim: As most people know, the swim is my toughest leg.  I’ve always heard that you can’t win in the water, but you sure can lose in the water.  The swim course was a point to point, 1500M


Since it was wetsuit legal, I was able to stay relaxed.  I made it past the first buoy, the second, but the third was quite a distance off.  I felt my sighting was doing ok, until I looked up and I was a little off course.  I corrected it to where I was staring straight into the sun! I checked my watch, was doing great, just keep swimming!

Finally made it to the exit ramp and saw my darling hubs cheering me on up the ramp! Swim time: 38:31 (was 2:18/100 according to my watch since I actually swam 1600)

Bike: Sometimes you don’t notice that you’ve forgotten something until you need it! I meticulously packed my transition bag with goggles, wetsuit, bike nutrition, BASE SALT, Base Energy, Water, gloves, helmet, shoes…..BUT FORGOT MY GLASSES! There’s nothing more terrifying (well there really is, but at that moment not) than the thought of a bug flying in your eye!

I realized it as soon as I got to the mount/dismount line. I knew it was going to suck, but knew I could suck it up anyhow.

So off onto the bike.  The sun was out, and I sprayed my skin with sunscreen, but the wind felt great! Through the first few miles my legs were burning.  Lactic Acid making its way out, so I kept my gears a little light to help me keep a higher cadence for a while.  After I got out on the course, they felt somewhat better.  I felt like the first 10 miles I was playing leapfrog with a few other athletes.  I kept making jokes, like “TAG Youre it!” But most of them were focused, Lol.  Some of them kept their leads finally, and some of them did not.


The last GMSP race I did, the bike was horrible, so I was hoping for a better bike this time.  I got it.  The bike route was great, and had hills, but equal downhills.  There was one portion of the out and back at mile 15 where a vehicle was getting pissed and weaving in and out of the cyclists.  She kept honking and yelling…seriously some people are just ignorant.  I made a honking sound back (and some like me are just stupid! Lol)

I was feeling pretty good, coming in the last 5 miles, as I dropped to my little ring my chain decided to drop as well! Ugh.  It had been ages since this has happened.  I finally got it back on realizing to put it on the little ring (duh).

Got in on the bike at 1:34:15.  Was hoping for a little sooner, but 3 minutes figuring out chain stuff sucks, but could have been worse so thankful for that!

Now I was ready to put my running shoes on!

RUN: My goal was to PR, but I couldn’t remember what my PR was it had been so long since I focused on this distance.  I thought around 3:10 or so, so I set my goal to run a sub 50 10k.  I have done this several times, but not at the end of a triathlon.  I gave myself the first half mile to get my legs right, then I sped up.

My splits were 8:16, 8:22, 8:19, 8:49, 8:47, 8:02

I felt awesome, and was really taking the time to look up:

run views again

The view off to the right was my view, and it was glorious! It was hot too! I took a few Base Salt licks, and made sure I stayed hydrated at water stations.  The route outside of the damn trail went through the woods and looped back around.  Most of the athletes I played leap frog with on the bike, I was able to reestablish my gain on the run.  It was hot, and most were dying about half way through.

As I got to the last mile, I looked at my total time….I was close, but doing very well for me.  Thinking I had a 3:10 limit to beat, the watch said 3:09, and I could hear the finishline just ahead….rocket booster IGNITE.

I sped around the corner, saw my hubs, but kept going.  I WAS GOING TO BEAT MY PR!

BOOM, Finishline.  3:09:50

And it turns out, my PR was 3:15….BOOM again, 5 minute PR.  Where did I shave it off? The swim, totally.  Felt stronger in the run, which means I am still improving on the bike.  Hope to see some time differences in Chattanooga!

No podium, because dang girls are fast! 7th in my age group, 189th overall out of 260.

Overall, this was a great race and a great experience.  So happy that I went for the Oly to be my first race this season.  I look forward to seeing improvements on my speed with these awesome workouts my coach keeps sending.

I don’t have another Tri for quite a while, so plenty of time to make gains!

When the MAGIC happens



Some days, we have great runs.

When I went through a Les Mills training first in 2008, they talked about the Magic.  How all the points they taught (fitness, choreography, eye contact, form, etc) come together to create Fitness Magic.


I believe I found that magic at CHKM this year!

The day before my major races are always full of activity, and this race was no different.  Amelia and I were in Morristown early Saturday timing an obstacle race.  The biggest obstacle was different start and finish lines! So there was I, hauling equipment at a fast pace back and forth, back and forth. By time we got to the expo at 1pm, I had already logged 9,000 steps!

me and amelia

Then by the end of the day, an expo and a kids race later, I was exhausted and ready for bed.  My prerace preparation nutritionally included grilled Salmon, Asparagus, and a salad bar from Ruby Tuesdays….oh and the usual two Sam Adams! We had an enjoyable dinner though with my bestie and her littles!


(this little guy is the cutest!)

So race morning was smooth, except for one small thing… back felt like someone whacked me with a 2×4! I rolled, stretched, pushed, everything I could think of to work out the pain.  The only thing that worked was the Ibuprofen! Not recommended on race day, but it helped knock the pain down a few notches.

I ate my breakfast and grabbed #Basesalt, bottle of rocket fuel, wireless headphones, bag to check, and clothes to throw away when it warmed up! I was set!

As we arrived to the Worlds Fair and Expo center, the crowds were gathered indoors.  I checked my bags and searched for my friends and teammates.  We gathered and swapped pooping stories, nerve stories, etc.  Just the norm convo of runners, eh?



So the race began promptly at 7:30am.  I began my run through the crowd.  My thoughts were not to bob and weave as I have in past races.  This ends up bringing me out to fast and hurting me later.  I took it with the crowd, and was finally able to break into my pace of 8:20-8:35 after a half mile or so.  As we rounded to Neyland, I started getting the usual Lactic Acid cramps and burns.  I knew I was getting warmer and almost ready to shed the shirt! I checked in my pants pocket to grab my base…..NO BASE SALTS?!! What the WHAT???? It mustve fell out back at the crowd in mile one when I felt something hit my foot.

OK, Don’t panic.  You’ve done this before without Base you can do it again….I had my Amino/Hydro with a pinch of salt in my bottle, and my energy tabs.  I thought, this is mental, you will be OK.

So I headed up to Cherokee.  I was getting excited, as this is my favorite part!

sequoyah hills 2016

This stretch from miles 4-9 makes the whole race worth it.  Rocky Top Multisport Club (my club;o) and a host of other friends gather to cheer, assemble signs, play music, ring cowbells, you name it.  This is where I get my energy, and I think made up the MAGIC on this race day.  I found my sign and tapped it for power (hehehe) and kept a respectable pace through the whole boulevard.  Seeing my friends and hearing my name as I ran by was pretty exhilarating, I wont’ lie.

As I trudged up Noelton, I was still feeling pretty good with 8:53 split!

On to the greenway and up to Ft Sanders.  I was still blessed to hear my name and see my friends so many places cheering and running.  A gentleman came running up behind me and we talked/encouraged each other for a while.  He was trying to stay faster than his sons that were behind him, he looked strong as he split to the finish for the half.

I went left for the full!

I felt ok, but was starting to get a little cramped.  As I made it to the half split at close to a PR, I took another Base Energy tab, sipped my Rocket Fuel, and told myself I was OK.

I ran into another friend and we ran together for a bit.  The back half of the course is not as well supported by cheer leaders as the front.  There were still small groups here and there, cops and traffic to keep us motivated.  I still felt strong, but my splits had slowed down.  I had to kick it back up, but only mustered a few seconds per mile up.

I still felt good, and loved seeing my team at the relay exchanges, cheering me on and looking like they were having the time of their lives!

As I rounded to Island Home, I saw my husband in the distance.  He didn’t look well, he was limping.  I asked him if he was ok, and he said his heel was bothering him.  He was still ahead of me, so I knew he was ok.  He handed me his Base Salts and I couldn’t have loved him more right then (just kidding, but you get the excitement in my font).

I sped through Island Home with an 8:43 average, but could feel the end coming and excitement building in me to get done.

I made it though downtown as I kept telling myself not to look at my time or watch.  Too late! I looked….but it looked like as long as I didn’t die on the last two miles I would PR.

And then I was there….the finishline! I saw it and I sped up and got there under my Course PR!


And there I found my hubs, healthy but limping, and my #prettyface friend working hard to make sure the finishline was going smoothly, and my TEAM! They were all there waiting and happy and healthy! A coach just couldn’t ask for anything more!

What a great day, magical.  Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it perfect and all the volunteers and friends and spectators.

That is the magic right there, people.  Training and nutrition and perfect weather are nice, but the people, that can make your day brighter and race magical!

#865run #ironmuna #CHKM2016 #skirtsports #REALwomenmove #RaceWithBase #e3Tri #RTMC2016


Knoxville Marathon 2016 Race Report

As a coach, husband, and runner, I had a great day at the Knoxville Marathon.


As a coach, I had several athletes running the half marathon and one running the full marathon yesterday.  Since I was running, I did not get to see my runners on the course and cheer for them.  That does not mean they were not on my mind!  As soon as I could, I found the ones still around and tracked down the times of those that had already gone home.

becky sequoyah hills 2016In the half marathon, Hilary met her goal pace by using those downhills.  Smart!  Julie kicked butt with a personal best time of 1:48:41. YES!!  Kim made a strong comeback from her time off due to illness.

In the marathon, David met his goal of running the entire marathon!  David had a health setback and surgery early this year. Instead of a personal record, he set the goal of running the entire marathon instead of doing a run/walk.  This is a huge mental barrier.  My advice to him was to do a micro-jog instead of walking.  It is okay to slow down as much as you need, just keep that running form.  He was making manly grunting noises at the finish line… sort of a triumphant growl.  His wife was in tears.  His coach did a little jump on sore legs and shouted, “YES!”  Well, done, David.  Way to tough it out.


My wife Muna kicks butt on a regular basis.  She doesn’t just have a can-do attitude; she gets itmuna mark marathon 2016 done.  The 2016 Knoxville Marathon was no different.  As a runner, she powered her way up the hills to a personal best time for the Knoxville Marathon course at 3:53:19.  Muna is also a running coach.  Her runners did very well in the half marathon and marathon relay.  Muna had an awesome day and I was happy to be able to celebrate that success with her.  :)


As a runner, I had some issues.  I had injured my heel at another race a month earlier and I was hoping that it was healed enough.  The first half of the race went as planned, but the heel was giving me issues soon after the halfway mark.  I tried to push through, but by mile 20 I realized that I had been compensating to avoid pain in my heal.  That can lead to additional injuries.  Not smart.  I decided to let go of my goal of 3:24:59 and just do the best I could without doing any additional damage.  My pace slowed.  The heel pain was especially difficult on the downhills.  I still managed to hobble across the finish line at 3:39:03.  That is thirty minutes slower than my personal best marathon time, but still represents a personal best time on this marathon course.  I will take it and call it a win!

sequoyah hills 2016In additional to a course personal best, I also won in another huge way.  I enjoyed the run.  There were friends at the start, friends all along the course, and friends at the finish.  Beyond my friends, there were innumerable friendly faces everywhere.  The beginning had friends and family of runners cheering for us all.  The great folks in the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood must have spent a few thousands dollars on signs and costumes to keep us smiling and happy.  More importantly, they lined the course for several miles with loud, smiling, cheering fans.  You can’t ask for anything better on a marathon course.  There were people in every neighborhood along the way.  Encouragement.  Energy.  I can’t thank them enough.

Eat well, train wisely, and enjoy the run!


Celebrate Each Time

olympic-victory-celebrating (5)

Yesterday, as I was training a client on the leg press machine, I looked down into the basketball court to watch a free throw being calculated.  This man performing the action had done perhaps 1000’s of free throws.  He is rumored to be living out of his car, so most evenings he hangs out at the basketball court and calculates equations for shooting ball.  One would figure that if he makes so many shots, it really isn’t that big of a deal.  But yesterday, as I saw him make that shot, he turned away and did a little fist bump celebration to himself.  He celebrated each time he made a shot thereafter.

That really struck me.  As athletes, we do countless races.  When there isn’t a race we train, reaching speeds at each discipline that aren’t normal.  We push our bodies hard, expecting them to go a little faster, a little longer, a little harder each time. And then we minimize our long run, our cycle through the hills, or our .02 seconds faster swim interval, or our box jumps because these are naturally part of our lives.

My question now, is why not CELEBRATE EACH TIME we do this? Well, why not?

I don’t think its bragging when you give yourself a little high five, pat on the back, group selfie, celebratory cupcake….


Ok, maybe not each time we get a cupcake, but you get the idea.

If you are an athlete, chances are your social media streams with other athletes; some you are friends with, some you are just familiar with their age group and last 5 threshold miles, and some you don’t really know but you still share with them the love of sport.  Occasionally I see someone talk about how they hate bragging about their workout.  For a split second, I feel ashamed that I maybe just posted my workouts to facebook, or instagram, and that some might see it as bragging or pride.  But then, I look at my workout in Training Peaks, or Strava, and think….”Wow, I never thought I’d be able to do that many laps in the pool” or someone comments about how they saw me running down the road that morning, and then they give me a verbal fist bump for persevering in the cold weather.

Then one of my clients, or one of my friends does something phenomenal, and tells me they were inspired by one of their friends to go run a 5k because they posted about it.

God made us inspiring bodies, whether we think so or not.  Some bodies are capable of more than others due to limitations, but they are all amazing.  I believe when we finish our training, our race, or just a workout we should celebrate; even if its our 1000th mile, 100th race, 43rd workout!

And I love seeing the workouts on Social Media, MapmyRun, Strava, Garmin Connect, etc.  They inspire me to do more, and they remind me how lucky I am to know so many athletes on so many levels.

So do it. CELEBRATE EACH TIME.  Whether its by a fist bump, a pat on the back, or a selfie by the track, do it.

An open letter to the Struggling Competitive Age-Group Runner

secret city 2013NOTE:  This is an excerpt from my upcoming book,The Gift of Running: Next Level Edition, and serves as an introduction to the second half of the book.


Dear CAG,

I want you to know that I feel your pain. You have been working your butt off for years only to find that your race performance has peaked. You are either stuck on a plateau or you may have even started to slow your pace.

Fair? No! Of course it’s not fair. You continue grinding out the workouts that have worked magic over the years. Now, however, you find that the magic has faded.

Whether you were competitive at the top or simply focused on your own performance, you long to rekindle the days of personal records. If the old workouts have ceased to help you make those improvements, there are a few strategies you can use that have a good chance to re-ignite the fires of competitive spirit. Here are the ideas:

  • Take a month or two break from training or racing of any kind.
  • Take a new perspective.
  • Try new training approaches.

Take a Break

A long complete break from training may be the only thing that has a chance for you to make a comeback. If you have been constantly training for years without any major breaks (over two weeks), your body has stopped responding. Your body has stopped making adaptations in response to workouts. Your adrenal glands are shot. You will know if this is the case by this simple test.

How many days each week does the following conversation occur?

  • Your mind says, “Go train!”
  • Your body screams, “Pizza and Netflix with a nap for a cooldown.”

It does not matter how many times you go train. It only matters how many days this mental battle occurs. If it happens two or three times each week, you may just be tired from hard training. You might take an extra day off in that case. If it happens 4 or more times for multiples weeks, you are probably overtrained. Take at least one month off. If you do go for a run once or twice a week, do not wear a watch or use an app. Just enjoy a quiet, gentle jog of 3 miles or so.

After at least 30 days of no training, resume your training. Remember that you will have to rebuild your endurance base and speed. Start like a beginner and gradually ramp it up over the next 2 months. You will be slower, but you will feel fresh and excited. You can surpass your pre-break performance after 3 to 6 months. In the long run, you will be happier and healthier.

Take a New Perspective

Aging sucks. If you have been competing for over seven years and you are above the age of 35, chances are that you have peaked. For those that have followed expert advice for all of that time and made fairly constant progress, you are unlikely to get any faster. You can expect to see your VO2max score drop 0.5 each year if you keep your training at the same level.  This means a gradual slowing of your running times.

If that is the case, then happiness requires a change in perspective.

Expecting to beat the times and performances of your youth is not reasonable. In the new outlook, you should be looking for 5-year PRs and age-group achievement. Every time you enter a new 5-year age group (such as 45-49) you have a chance to set new Age-Group personal records and compete with your fellow age-groupers. Train hard. Enjoy the run as always. Be competitive with the right mindset and the experience can be very satisfying.

Try New Training Approaches

A trustworthy old saying is: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” That is not where you find yourself. Your performance has lacked luster for a while. You have done your tried and true training for a long time with a lot of success, but it no longer yields improvements. The new saying is this: “It’s broken, so fix it.”

How do we do this? The traditional training ideas have ceased to be effective for you. Some of these include the following principles:

  • Traditional Strength (hill training, weight machines, …)
  • Specific Training (different workouts with specific paces for specific adaptations, intervals, tempo,…)
  • Periodization (endurance base, speed work, strength running, gradual increase of distance)
  • 80-20 Training (20% at 5K race pace or faster)

These ideas worked for you. They were very important for a long time. We will not abandon these. We will build on them. We will mix them up. We will incorporate traditional training form other sports to enhance our running training. There are three principles that serve as the foundation for the Next Level training that is found in the chapters that follow.

  • Specific Strength
  • Piggy-Backing
  • Load-Switching

We will explain each in details in the following three chapters.


NOTE:  This is an excerpt from my upcoming book,The Gift of Running: Next Level Edition, and serves as an introduction to the second half of the book.



New Year, New Resolution?

Nope.  Just say NO to New years resolutions.

Why?  Well, sometimes I find it hard enough to do what I set out to do for just ONE DAY, let along a whole year!

So where did all this nonsense start?  The origin of making New Year’s resolutions rests with the Babylonians, who reportedly made promises to the gods in hopes they’d earn good favor in the coming year. They often resolved to get out of debt!

As time has evolved, our resolutions haven’t much.  One of the biggest Resolutions is to get out of debt…..and lose weight! Now lets think about that resolution for a moment.  We say “I’m going to shed this 20 starting January 1st!” and then by the weekend we are indulging in old habits.  Why? Well, because living from day to day is hard enough.  Why the whole year? We don’t really go at it realistically, first of all.  We go from one lifestyle to the other end of the spectrum and still expect success.  We often try ridiculous diets, exercise an unreasonable amount, and often don’t make any REAL lifestyle changes.  As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, I see it every year.  I’ve seen clients come in and workout twice a day, 7 days per week, and then can’t understand why they are burnt out within a month, and gain all the weight back plus! Plus, surviving on 1000 calories is the most unrealistic idea in the history of ideas! That is usually the case for any diets that people try out of desperation.

This leads to disaster and is the majority of the reasoning as to why the resolution of losing weight doesn’t really ever work.

“So….Coach….”,  you ask, “How do we go about deciding to lose weight, or sticking with it?”

Well, don’t decide to lose weight first of all.  Find Balance and change your lifestyle, and becoming healthier will be an awesome by-product (which includes possible losing weight!). Simple right?  Well, no, not really.  Finding a balance between being super strict and still enjoying life is hard.  I decided to tip the balance scale over the last two week and have the bloat to prove it! However, because I use balance in my daily decisions, It isn’t a big deal to get my train back on the track.  I know what to do, and find it easy to get back on the right road quickly.

I spent the past year studying nutrition, trying different combinations, and reaping the benefits of my research.  I recently completed my Nutrition Certification so that I could help myself and help my clients combine good eating habits with good physical activity habits.  That was not my intended 2015 goal.  My goal was to get my health under control, and I didn’t realize that nutrition was my issue.  Through consultations and research, I found that out and was able to evolve my plan to change my habits!

So for the year, instead of a New Years Resolution, I have a different idea: Make a 2016 Goal! A goal is more easily attainable because it is more structured and specific.  So if your resolution is “TO LOSE WEIGHT” Your goal would be “To educate myself on better food choices by managing macros in my daily nutrition”.  So once you begin working towards your goal, you will see the side effects in your waistline! Changing your nutrition will also affect your workouts by making you feel better and therefore workout better!

A non fitness example is time management.  If your resolution is to “Get out of debt” Your goal can be to pay off your three lowest debts or even just your lowest.  This makes it more attainable!

Once you have your goal set, ask your fitness professional to help you construct a plan.  Next, find a support group to help you make your plans habits, and eventually your lifestyle!

I will be starting a Facebook support group just for this purpose! Message me on facebook or email me at if you would like to be added!

So here is my 2016 Goal: Sub 15 hour for Ironman Boulder, and Knoxville Marathon PR. My Louisville time was 15:49:20.  I just wanted to survive and finish before midnight.

What is my plan? Speedwork, Intervals, and listen to my Coach and trust my training.  For Louisville, I constructed my own training plan, and it worked, but I didn’t have anyone to be held accountable to.  Now with my Coach, John Hanna with E3Tri, I have to follow his plan (which works with my plan as we work together), and he has access to my training logs.  I never want to disappoint my coach!

Many blessings to each of you, and I wish you a happy 2016 and happy goal setting!


Reflection on my 2015 Racing Year and Planning for 2016

2015 represents the second half of a comeback. I had a stellar year in 2013. I ran many excellent races and scored several personal records (PRs). At the end of 2013, however I had a knee issue that caused me to take a month off. In February of 2014, I suffered a concussion after being hit by a car as I rode my bike. My head healed, but I had a long way to go to regain my fitness. I finished the year by qualifying for Boston (BQ) one more time, this time in Savannah. It was 10 minutes slower than my marathon PR, but I was back in BQ shape.

That sets the stage for 2015. I had 4 goal races this year. As always, I had a few surprises along the way, but the year turned out to be very productive.

Goal Race 1: Boston MarathonBoston 2015

I ran my first Boston in 2014 and it was a disaster. With this in mind, my “A Goal” was to run fast enough to qualify for Boston 2016. All I really wanted out of the 2015 race, however, was to have a solid run of which I could be proud. Both of those goals were met! I felt strong early. I struggled with Heartbreak Hill, but I knew I was strong enough to meet my A goal. That made the pain of the hills much easier to take. I finished strong and qualified for 2016 with a 3:23:39. That is 1 minute and 21 seconds faster than the qualifying time for my age group.

Goal Race 2: USA Track & Field Master Outdoor Championship

One of my long-term goals is to move towards a 2:00 performance in the 800 meter run. I had run a 2:23 in 2014 and I was hoping to take 10 seconds off at this track meet. I did not succeed. In fact, I started exactly on target pace but I ran out of steam in the second lap. Looking back, I know I did not do enough training specifically for this race. Lesson learned. The experience was worth it. I’ll be back.

Goal race 3: Challenge Cedar Point Full Iron Distance Triathlon

This was my first full Ironman-distance event. That is 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles on the bike, and a full 26.2 mile marathon. Inspired by my wife’s Ironman performance in 2014, my goal was to finish with 26.2 miles of smiles. I survived the swim even though Lake Erie was getting pretty choppy towards the end. The bike is my biggest weakness. I am still new to cycling and it showed. Still, my goal was to end with a smile. So I took it easy and stopped a lot. By the time I finally got to the run, I was tired, but happy. I met my goal by smiling, talking, laughing, and showing my gratitude to volunteers along the way. 13:59:43. I will do it again, but not in 2016.

Goal Race 4: Savannah Marathon (and Sequoyah Marathon)

I believed that I had done the right training to be prepared to set a new personal record in the marathon in Savannah if the weather was just right. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. It was extremely humid and very warm. I had shed my shirt at the second mile marker. I had given up on a PR before mile 5. I pushed hard and was beginning to fade when the race was cut short. They did not allow me or anyone left on the course to complete the full race. It was hot. Two runners eventually died from the effects of heat.

So… my wife, Muna, and I decide that we would take advantage of our training by running the Seqouyah Marathon at Pinson Mounds three weeks later. The Sequoyah is a 9-loop course and that loop has very little elevation. More importantly, the weather was perfect during my run. It was cool and there was only a very light mist of rain during my race. I was right about being in PR shape. Finishing in 3:08:32, I had beaten my previous PR by over 4 minutes. A great end to a productive year.

Tentative Plans for 2016

I will run many races in 2016, but I will have only 4 key events around which my year is planned:

  • Knoxville Marathon (April)
  • USA Track & Field Masters Outdoor Championship (July)
  • Richmond Olympic Triathlon (October)
  • Savannah Half Marathon (November)

My training plan for the year will have 8 distinct phases, each with a slightly different purpose and training focus:

  • Light Triathlon Cycle 1
  • Run Cycle 1 (ends with Knoxville Marathon)
  • Light Triathlon Cycle 2
  • Medium Triathlon Cycle1 (Ends with USATF Masters Outdoor Championship)
  • Medium Triathon Cycle 2
  • Peak Triathlon Cycle (Ends with Richmond Olympic Triathlon)
  • Peak Run Cycle (Ends with Savannah Half Marathon)
  • Off-season Recover and Rebuild

The plan has balance. Yes, I am running during every phase. What is changing is the number of miles I will run, the number of days I run each week, and the specific purpose and intensity of the running. The plan includes strategically timed strength training and cross-training. It includes periodic tapering and recovery to stay healthy. It gradually builds my fitness level over the entire year before easing up in the off season.

Enjoy the run!
P. Mark


Reflection on Winning a Marathon

I won a marathon last week: The Sequoyah Marathon at Pinson Mounds 2015. Marathon 2015 with plaque and medal

On one hand, I want to say it is no big deal. After all, it is a very small marathon (20 finishers) and the course is not certified. On the other hand, the course was still 26.2 miles long and I was first across the finish line.

On one hand, my finishing time of 3:08:32 would not even put me in the top 100 in my age group at a huge marathon like New York or Chicago. On the other hand, it was a big PR (personal record) for me by over 4 minutes.

Does this make the victory smaller? On the one hand, it is a very small win because I could have jogged it in and still won. I had no top-end competition. On the other hand, however, that might be taken as an insult by the other marathon finishers. Each gave what they had on that day. They certainly deserve my respect.

How do I celebrate this? Believe it or not, I have wrestled with this question quite a bit.

The final decision: I won a marathon. Everyone out there was competing with themselves. Blood, sweat, and tears. We gave it our all and I finished first. No dilemma. Congratulations to all who toed the start line. You rock!

In the end, I chose to officially make the claim on Facebook and Twitter: “I won a marathon.” Then I posted the results to let people see that the number of runners was small. Let them wrestle with it. We all gave are all. We deserve what we earned.

Special shout-out to two runners near and dear to my heart:

  • My wife Muna was third overall female!  Woohoo!
  • My friend Jennifer ran over 23 miles that day, her farthest run by a long shot. Great progress!

I will write another post about how I made such a big PR. For now, here are the final results of The Sequoyah Marathon:

1 P Mark Taylor 48 M 1 3:08:32
2 Francesca Muccini 48 F 1 3:49:42
3 Mike Samuelson 50 M 2 3:52:17
4 Nathan Wilson 42 M 3 3:53:00
5 Amy Frederick 30 F 2 3:54:13
6 Muna Rodriguez-Taylor 38 F 3 3:57:05
7 Kevin Gerteisen 47 M 4 4:06:46
8 Marylou Corino 37 F 4 4:30:44
9 David Nichols 54 M 5 4:30:44
10 Halbert Walston 41 M 6 4:53:02
11 Marjorie Mitchell 54 F 5 4:56:07
12 Leanne Goodwin 35 F 6 4:59:48
13 Erin Goetz 28 F 7 5:09:40
14 Joseph Montgomery 56 M 7 5:10:17
15 Kendra Schoffstall 52 F 8 5:15:52
16 David Essary 34 M 8 5:25:18
17 John Leighton 55 M 9 5:31:31
18 Amanda Staggs 30 F 9 5:39:11
19 Wesley Hardacre 35 M 10 5:53:17
20 Mark Parrotte 58 M 11 5:59:15