As you can tell from my dysfunctional website, I’m working on how things look ’round here. If you need to get in touch, you can do so via email (bradluttrell at gmail) or phone (502.794.2242).
The face of confidence. Or ignorance? Either way, I’m proud of my effort.
Chicago was supposed to be my personal record.
My all time best. My peaking moment to look back on. It was my third marathon, and given the flat and “fast” course and my training, I just knew it would be significantly better than the first two I did (Kentucky Derby Marathon twice, back when it had the Iroquois AND the big Baxter hills around mile 23).
Well, looking back on it, I did get some new records: first race of any kind that I’ve had to walk at all, first race I didn’t finish and first race I’ve ever needed medical support.
Yup, lots of firsts. Not exactly the ones I had in mind either. I’m not an advanced marathoner, but I do consider myself an experienced long distance runner. I’m still getting faster, and am currently in the best shape of my life. My diet was perfect for two months, and I’m down nearly 30 pounds from this time last year.
So with five years of distance running and two full marathons under my belt, how did I not finish the Chicago Marathon?
That’s the story I want to tell, because even after all of my running and reading, I had no clue about the dangers of Lactic Acidosis.
The Beginning: Charity Bib
I was considering another marathon. I really wanted to pursue 3:20, a full nine minutes faster than my last marathon, which would also help me slip out of the eight minute range, and into the sevens. Mary Margaret’s uncle told me about Team One Step, a great charity and a cause I could get behind. I raised the $1,000 and helped a child with cancer get to go to camp. Usually it’s just me dumping my time and money, so it was nice to have a cause.
If you want to run Chicago, please take some time to check out Team One Step. Raising the money wasn’t bad at all, and it helps a child that has had so much grief in their life, have fun and feel normal for an entire week. Just do it. Really.
The Middle: Peak Training and Dieting
Before I signed up, my only hesitance with signing up for Chicago was I knew I would have to do something I’ve never done well: train hard during the summer. Kentucky summers are miserable at times. My peak weekends would hit right at August and early September, meaning 20 mile runs and 90 degrees. And oh, the humidity!
But I manned up. I was proud of myself this summer. On one run that I remember particularly well, the heat index hit 95 degrees, and I still managed 18 miles at 8:24. Not bad, right? Now’s a good time to note about how I train: I time myself and do intervals. I would run for 5 miles, stop the clock while I stretched and drank some fluids, then I’d do 5-7 more at my goal pace, then stop to stretch again. I started doing this for Chicago at the recommendation of a veteran runner who told me I was insane to just go out and run 18 miles with no plan. I adopted his recommendation, and it’s been great. The mid-run stretching also kept my achilles injury at bay.
In another run, I conquered 20 miles at an under 8 minute pace. About three weeks before I did a 17 mile run, actually in Chicago, where I kept a 7:47 pace. That’s the fastest I had ever done for that kind of distance. Through tapers, I’ve always been able to improve my pace by about six or seven percent. So, given these faster runs, I thought for sure I could do the 7:40 pace I was shooting for.
I took my diet to new levels this year. I didn’t have strict guidelines, per say, it was more of a cut the obvious. I cut all desserts and sugar-loaded foods in August. I mean no birthday cakes, chocolates or anything. I also quit eating bread nearly all together (burgers are a weakness, though), eliminating my morning bagels and replacing it with a low-sugar Greek yogurt. In September, I cranked it up again by getting tighter with my actual foods. Nothing fried, cutting fatty extras – sour cream and cheeses – out all together, I started eating salads as entrees (madness, I know) and I quit drinking beers of any type. I’m down 20 pounds just since training started. The tough part to eating well while training is to ensure your body gets enough of what it needs, which I feel confident I was doing. I still ate mounds of protein and got my fair share of carbs when I needed them.
The End: Marathon Weekend
The expo was the best I’ve been to. Honestly, KDF’s Running Wild expo is so bad, that I was dreading this one. Turns out, I’ve never been to a good one. Chicago’s was so fun, my wife, sister and brother-in-law didn’t want to leave. We could have wandered – and wondered – for another hour, but as any experienced marathoner would tell you, that’s a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on your feet. The digital checkin was flawless, the Nike exhibit was amazing, Goose Island had a cool setup (albeit strange to pump alcohol to marathoners – I guess their supporters could partake), and the freebies were great. I picked up an awesome Chicago Marathon shirt from Saucony and my sister got a great deal on some shoes.
On race day, I got to the start line at about 6:20. I think ideally, I would have liked to have gotten there about 20 minutes later. The only benefit was having 70 portable toilets to myself. Otherwise, I sat and got anxious and was cold for an hour. I felt good though, and was still confident. At start time, the corrals rolled incredibly smooth (another thing Louisville’s race could learn from). I came out of the gate way too fast, running two 7 minute miles. I do this every time, at every race. I instantly slowed to an 8 minute pace, then for the next 15 miles I did exactly what I came to do – rock it. My pace was perfect, and I felt pretty good up until mile 13. At that point, I just felt a bit more tired than I should have. But my plan was to run a 7:30 pace until 17, where I would slow it down to coast to a 7:40 average.
Well, my coast was more like a crash landing. I had read that when you leave the city at mile 13, the crowd thins out. This is pretty true, but honestly, it was still some of the best race support I had ever seen. The KDF races feel like you’re in a desert at times, or like you’re chasing mirages through a wasteland. Chicago’s residents take pride in supporting the runners. I drew off that for a bit, but at mile 17, when I knew I could start to slow down, I hit a wall. No, not the “I’m tired” or the “my legs feel like cement” wall. This was like nothing I’ve ever felt. The only way I can explain it is toxic.
At some point, I walked. For the first time in my life, I walked in a race. I only let myself do it for about 30 seconds, then started back. For the next three miles I ran about a mile and walked for 30 seconds, but these were hard fought miles. I didn’t understand – I had hit the wall before. It’s physical, you can push through. You can escape it mentally, even if for brief moments. This wasn’t like that, but I kept trying to push through. “Walking is just going to make this last longer. You’ve got to move.” I kept telling myself. At that time, I didn’t know what Lactic Acidosis or a lactic threshold was, but looking back, I probably hit the threshold – or when your body can no longer process lactic acid faster than you’re producing it – at mile 17 or 18. Had I known what I was dealing with, maybe I would have realized that by walking for five minutes or so could have helped my body break up and process that buildup. When you’re constantly in motion, it can’t. So my training plan of stopping to stretch and hydrate had helped me avoid injury, but it had also trained my body that it got breaks to process lactic acid. Again, had I known more about this, I could have done more interval training, because that’s a great way to train your body to process lactic acid. I dropped my speed work training due to my hip pain, which crept up with about six weeks to go.
My entire family came to watch this race. We were all pumped for the weekend, probably because my confidence was contagious. We had a great plan for them to utilize Chicago’s public transit and hop from mile marker to mile marker (it was so much easier than Louisville’s races). All in all I think I had 10 people on the course cheering for me. Pretty great and incredible for them to support me in that way. At the end of the race, they were going to be at mile 21.5. Around mile 19, I knew I was in trouble. I felt like I ran that same mile three times. I use Runkeeper to track my pace, and I can hear my pace in my ear every half mile. It got to the point where I couldn’t listen to the voice. It sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I remember trying to find the mile marker signs, but even when I saw them, I couldn’t really read them. Strangely enough, it never occurred to me that this wasn’t normal – that’s how delusional minds work. My blood at this point must have been highly acidic, and my oxygen levels had dropped significantly. When I did see my family at mile 21.5, they knew I was in trouble. I was still running at that point – off and on, anyways – but then it really hit after I saw them.
These kind guys were keeping the sun off me with runners signs. In my delirious state, I asked him if I could take his picture. He said sure.
I was so motivated to finish the race, that I pushed and pushed myself until my body couldn’t actually function anymore. I don’t remember much of that last mile. It was the next day before I remembered walking at mile 23, clinging to the fence next to the road. Runners were looking at me, but no one really acknowledged me. I didn’t even realize this was bad – again, the mind goes to strange places on low oxygen levels and under the stress of lactic acidosis. Finally a volunteer came up to me and asked me if needed help. Strangely enough, I just said I needed water. He helped me find a bottle of water, and I was going to continue, but sort of remember telling him to call an EMT cart. He was waiting on that when I passed out cold. I woke up to EMTs around me. My blood pressure had dropped so low that they couldn’t even get a reading – 60 over nothing. I was absolutely delirious, with slurred speech. After a short three block ride in the ambulance, the doctors told me my heart was struggling to function correctly, my kidney function was really bad, my creatinine levels were way out of wack. My body had basically started shutting down. They thought it was dehydration, which I never really bought and my wife, a nurse, didn’t either. I trained through summer, hydrated all week and drank fluids at every stop and even beyond. It was only 55 degrees. Hydration wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t until later that she put it all together and figured out what likely happened to me. She pointed out that my fingers were blue when I came in, another sign of lactic acidosis that the doctors missed. I feel very lucky that my body shut itself down finally, because that lactic build up can actually be fatal.
I share this incredibly long story in hopes that it can help some other runners know more about what that lactic acid can do. Do your homework. Know the warning signs. Know how to train and adapt to it and break through the real marathon wall, lactic acidosis.
I think I’m done with full marathons. I’ve done three now, and would have loved to get a new PR in Chicago. But I’ve always believed that our failures teach us more than our successes, and it holds true here. I’d love to have that medal sitting here in my pile of others, but this experience stands out above any of the other successes I’ve had. With that said, it’s time to lace up again.
I was tasked to kick around a few ideas for Valentines Day content for OOHology back in January. I came up with several ideas, but the one we decided to run with was a poem generator.
Per our brand, this wouldn’t be a romantic poem generator. No, this would be a dirty-mouthed robot, like what you’d find at a dirty motel. The kind you pay by the hour. You know the kind. Well, maybe you don’t. But it’s that kind.
In order to make the experience as personable as possible, I established three scenarios – single, happily married or over this whole “love” thing. These were represented by nine options the user could select, ranging from “Single, full of regret” to “Pillow talk is for suckers.”
Your answer qualified you for one of the categories. Each category had unique poems pre-written. However, I wanted each person to get truly unique poems, but for them to still rhyme and make sense (relatively, anyways). So I wrote them as Mad Libs, and worked with our developers to ensure that the poems were randomly generated, created a poem that catered to your love status, and was also new each time you ran the generator.
For example, for “Happily divorced. Not looking to make that mistake again” you could get “I’m tired of waiting on an arrow from Cupid, and online dating sites are stupid. Let’s just find a dirty motel today, and tomorrow, we’ll go our separate ways.” OR, you might get ”I’ve had my fair share of Valentines, that’s not what I need. Keep your puppies, diamonds and sunshine. Give me a good romp, I plead.”
The site is easy to update. Actually, midway through V-Day week, we updated with a fresh set of poems with the help of Kat, our other copywriter. It was a really fun project for us, and not only that, it was our best trafficked project we’ve ever had at OOH.
This is exactly the type of content I love to create. It wasn’t heavily branded, but it was oh-so OOH. I even created a Twitter account for GIT-LUV, which mostly tweeted inappropriately at one of our Creative Directors. We’ll be able to fire that account back up next year and get some more legs out of this project. GIT-LUV got luv from Agency Spy, which is worthless, I know, but hey, it’s always fun. MediaPost and a few others gave us some shout-outs.
While this type of work doesn’t directly translate to new clients or projects, it does show potential clients that we’re willing to push the boundaries, even if it takes a foul-mouthed little robot. And hell, it’s just fun.
Our team was great in pulling this together. I’m proud to work with such talented people. Give the little guy a try, and let me know what you think. Go on. Git some luv.
It was exactly a year ago that I met Glenn in person. Needing some advice from a fellow ad man, I turned to him, the Cats fan I had seen tweeting and had a zombie on his running blog header.
I mean, Cayuts, zombies, advertising and running. He had to be a cool dude, right?
Right. He is. A year later, ol’ Glenn asked me to do one of his running profile. It was really fun, you should check it out. An excerpt:
“It’s been a few years since then, but Brad and I remained virtual friends until he sought me out for some advice about the local advertising game and we became actual friends. Brad is a copywriter at a digital agency in town, convinced a lovely woman named Mary Margaret to marry him, has a dog named Ernie and makes his own beer (sometimes flavored with jalapenos) at home.”
Snowy trail at Tom Sawyer Park.
Like Toby Keith says, I’m not as good as I once was. Unlike Toby Keith, I’m not even as good once as I ever was.
Running is funny like that. It’s kind of like maintaing the perfect lawn. You have to work throughout each week to keep it in top shape. You feed it to keep it strong (speed work). You meticulously work to keep those weeds out to maintain perfection (endurance). Then, on occasion, the big day comes and friends come over and admire all of your hard work (race day).
Yes, running is like that. And my yard has been full of weeds lately.
13 months ago I ran the best race of my life. It was my second full marathon, and I rocked it, coming in at 3:29. Honestly, I felt horrible during the race. It just wasn’t my day, but my training paid off, physically, and most importantly, mentally. I knew I was capable of a 3:30, so I just wouldn’t let me self settle for less. I was certain I could have slipped down as low as 3:22, and believe if I hadn’t blown that race early, I could have.
Today, I’m struggling with long runs, speed work, all of it. I’ve once again set a goal of getting 1,000 miles in a year. I just need something to work towards, the 1,000 is arbitrary but it sure sounds hard. My Achilles continues to be a problem I can’t seem to fix. Rolling, ice, none of it is helping. Speed work and hills make it worse, which is nothing new. I’ve just found that if I slow down, take my time in getting into the run, rather than jumping out to what used to be my pace, I can manage a long run. I just got nine miles, which is the most I’ve been able to accomplish in 2014.
Running on ice.
Part of the problem, too, has been the weather. The ice makes it nearly impossible to run, and we’ve had so many snow days. I don’t do treadmills, so if it’s a no go on the ground, it’s a no go. The delays in my training have caused me to try and overcompensate on some days, or at the very least my mind still thinks it can do six or eight miles at a 7:15 pace, and I’m just nowhere near that level anymore. It’s a bummer, quite frankly.
I desperately wanted to run the half in 1:30, something I know I’m capable of. I did a 1:34 in 2012, and that was with the hills of Cherokee. The Louisville mini marathon is flat as a pancake. So, for now I’m just hoping to be able to through the KDF mini and pull a decent time. I’m probably looking at a 1:45 chip time, which won’t be my worst, but won’t be near my best.
Trail running at Tom Sawyer in about 3-4 inches of snow. The trees were down due to the ice storm.
I’ve gotten into trail running lately. I haven’t done much beyond Tom Sawyer, but there are some nice trails over there if you know where to look. Next I need to head over to Bernheim and check that out. I photographed a trail race over there once and know it’s nice. I picked up a pair of Merrell trail runners recently (pictured below). I actually picked them up for the hiking, but tried them out in the snow the other day and loved them. There is just something about getting off the beaten path – or pavement – that I love. That, and it’s actually easier on my knees.
New Merrell trail runners.
Keep on keepin’ on
When I started running, I wasn’t that fast. I wasn’t that great of a distance runner. But over a span of 16 months, I built up to a full marathon. It was a bit too fast, I know. But I did it, and I’m proud. I’m also proud of what else I’ve been able to accomplish. I’m facing an uphill battle right now, but I’ve run enough races to know that after every uphill comes sweet release of letting loose on the downhill. I still have a goal of running another marathon, maybe Chicago. I’m done with KDF. I’ve done it twice, and it’s been a good life experience. I’m looking for something else.
I had The Parklands to myself on this day.
New kicks, these are my first sub-neutrals.
My past three pairs of shoes have been Saucony.
Flooded park at The Parklands of Floyds Fork.
Everyone grows up with some tie to the Super Bowl. Maybe your family is full of football fanatics, or maybe they just love a good ad, but no matter what, it touches you. My mom, who couldn’t tell you the difference between a defensive lineman and a tight end, told me that she has already decided that Budweiser made the best Super Bowl commercial. The best part? The Super Bowl is tomorrow, and she doesn’t drink. She just likes the content.
That’s how powerful the Super Bowl ads are. Branding experts can debate well into overtime about whether or not the ads are worth the high dollar price. I lean towards no, but things are changing a bit with the recent trend to release the ads early. You get to build a bit of your momentum prior to the big game, and when your spot finally airs, people say, “Oh I love this one” before it’s even a few seconds in.
Last year one of the favorites was the “God made a farmer” spot by Dodge. I found that to be quite interesting. In terms of storytelling, the spot was a win. But in terms of best creative, I’m not sure it won. My rationale is below, and I’ve love to hear some feedback. I’m going to do a post for OOHology after the Super Bowl and review a few of my favorite spots, like every other advertising blogger in America will do on Monday, or even Sunday night.
Here is last year’s post about the farmer spot. Again, I would love to hear your feedback.
God made a farmer, Dodge made a great commercial about him. Or did it?
In a seven day week, day eight would bring us back around to Sunday. On this particular eighth day, God made a farmer and Dodge made a winning two minute ad. America said it was good.
Those 108 million viewers who said it was the “most creative” may have been duped six ways to Super Bowl Sunday, but it depends on who you ask.
Dodge’s now-famous “Farmer” spot was two minutes of beautiful stills and slow-motion video shots of American farmers overlaid with Paul Harvey’s speech at the 1978 National Future Farmers of American Convention. The imagery is beautiful. The words are poetic. One minute and a half in, the audience is ready to love – maybe even buy – whatever product is about to be unveiled. Then, there it is: Dodge Ram. “To the farmer in all of us.”
Apparently, a lot of us have soil running in our veins. My Twitter feed blew up with love for the spot. Some criticism, too, such as my friend Derek Poore, who said “FarmVille is really trying.” Comedian and writer, Mike Drucker, said, “Farmers do things. Feel like you do things by buying something unrelated.” But for every negative response there must have been 100 people, many of which had would never pay attention to a pickup truck spot, giving their love and new-found loyalty to Dodge.
Did America love the product, or the story? Ask any advertising expert, and they’ll tell you they loved the story, which is what made it brilliant. Dodge made their product a part of the story. They tied their pickup truck to the romanticism of the idea behind hard work and doing what’s right.
A few days later, maybe the 10th day at this point, I stumbled onto a blog post from friend, mentor and brilliant Kentucky photojournalist, David Stephenson, about “Farmer.” David was one of the first to point out that this ad was a carbon copy of a YouTube video put together by farms.com in the summer of 2011. While David found the new spot inspiring because it showed the strength of still images, I found it surprising that this commercial was not original work.
This is the Super Bowl. Every second of space is worth more than $126,000. Every year we expect the elites of the industry to show up and wow us with their creativity, but the public’s favorite spot was a polished version of a YouTube video?
I’m not sure what to make of that, but I’ll try:
- Maybe we should applaud Dodge and The Richards Group for their ROI here. They kept production costs lower by using a 40-year-old voice recording, still imagery, basic video with no CGI and a pretty simple website layout. Of course, at two minutes long, the ad slot still costs them 15 million at the 3.8 million per 30 seconds rate. New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott said in a Tweet that advertisers likely get discounts on buys that long.
- Dodge has a link to farms.com on its website for the spot, but I cannot find any mention of the fact that this idea was not original. It seems as though Dodge and The Richards Group offered farms.com a link shares and donations in exchange for re-purposing their video. Dodge is donating money to the Future Farmers of America, up to one million dollars, for each share the video gets. If that’s not the case, please comment and explain, but all research has led me to that conclusion, and I am not alone. AdLand points out that farms.com is saying it’s not a copy. I’m sure a million dollars has nothing to do with that.
- One of my biggest questions is, if this is literally the Super Bowl of advertising, and the top ad was a reproduction of a consumer-made YouTube video, what does that say about the profession? Is this a lazy effort? I’m reminded of the movie “Elf” where the two top writers have the idea to bring in Miles Finch, another writer, to do their job. Should The Richards Group be commended for even thinking to repurpose this ad for themselves? They are taking some heat, but it has been very minimal. I did find one writer who was pretty fired up about Dodge’s lack of acknowledgement to current farming conditions. That issue is not Dodge’s responsibility or problem, in my opinion.
- One huge, and thus-far unmentioned difference in the farms.com video and the “Farmer” spot? Dodge completely omits the part of Harvey’s speech where he says that farmers come home hungry to lunch from their wives, who were busy entertaining friends. This was likely a wise move, as the message would have been lost upon many viewers upon what might be considered a sexist statement by today’s standards.
Was I moved by this ad? Of course. I grew up in Southeastern Kentucky and learned the value of hard work growing up. Many people had similar emotional connections. I’m sure most people will never know about the farms.com video, and remember the best ad this year came from Dodge.
I’m just saying, maybe it didn’t.
This blog was originally written for my previous employer.
We recently wrapped up this really cool project, where we branded a merger of a chamber of commerce and economic development group. Doesn’t sound too exciting, right? Well, then the president of the newly formed organization walks in and says, “The best way for you all to fail at this project is to produce something pedestrian. We want unusual and unexpected.” Our team labored over this one, and I made the video above for OOHology to give some insight into the project, and it also aired on the region’s local news channel.
To read more about this project, visit the original post on OOHology’s site.
As a content strategist, you look at social media differently than your friends or family might. They see a hilarious mishap from a company, you see a social media manager posting “Looking for new opportunities. #HireMe.” I remain in a constant state of disbelief at how many brands turnover their social media to untrained employees or even interns. Would you turnover the keys to your PPC or direct mail to a college sophomore? Then why in the hell would you turn your social over to them?
I recently wrote a blog for OOH that lays out four questions to consider before posting to social. The intent is to help better determine if content is right for your audience. An excerpt:
“Imagine this: I blindfold you, and take you into an auditorium full of 2,000 people and ask you to tell a risque joke.
Without knowing who you’re talking to, would you do it?
I hope not. What if upon taking the blindfold off, you’re looking at 2,000 blushing grandmothers? While this may sound unfathomable or a bit far fetched, it’s exactly what some brands do with their social media every day. Blindly posting content that’s not appropriate for their audience.
Before posting to any of your brand’s platforms, you have to ask yourself if that content is right for the audience. What is funny or relevant to you in your personal life may not connect with your customers or clients. In fact, it’s pretty easy to piss them off if you’re not careful. I’m repeatedly in awe of a few local businesses that post political rants on their business’ social platforms.”
See the guidelines at OOHology’s blog.
In a few months, I’ll have been at OOHology for a year. Week after week I look back at the work I’m doing with our team and I’m proud of what we’re able to do. Beyond that, I feel great about my role at OOHology as it continues to be redefined. I’ve never been challenged like this before, and feel like I’m growing by leaps and bounds as a copywriter and creative.
I recently did a blog for OOH recapping some of my favorite projects from 2013. Take a few minutes to check it out. and be sure to check out my portfolio for other work.
- Glenn on See Glenn’s blog about me
- Courtney on From the 5K to a marathon in 16 months
- From the 5K to a marathon in 16 months ‹ Brad Luttrell on The body is never tired if the mind is never tired
- Happy birthday, Hoot ‹ Brad Luttrell on Welcome home, Gibson James
- Brad on The body is never tired if the mind is never tired