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Open Mic Friday: Meet Vanilla


It's not long after you start reading running blogs before you come across him.  You're either reading his posts, comments he leaves, or just hearing about him on others' blogs.  He's a celeb blogger who is known far and wide. 

Yes, this week’s guest is Vanilla, whose blog Half Fast is a favorite to runners and non-runners.  While many of us sometimes struggle with what to write about, Vanilla comes up with gems that are funny, twisted, and always memorable. 

Known as the creator and race director of the Shave Your 5k virtual race, he offers both challenge and encouragement to anyone who’d like to participate.  He's refreshing, sometimes bizarre,  and never short of amusing.

Welcome Vanilla! 

You have a great running blog.  How did you get started with your blog?

I was looking for an outlet to start writing and was inspired by the many humorous, well written blogs out there.  I wanted to see if I could write one, but I had no idea what I wanted to write about.  Of all my hobbies and interests, running was the thing that I was most passionate about, but I wasn't sure that I could make a running blog entertaining or find enough interesting topics to post about on a regular basis.  Fortunately, I've been able to soldier on without being entertaining or interesting.  Before I started Half-Fast I was actually considering starting a celebrity gossip blog, and I probably would have if I could have gotten past the sleazy feeling in the pit of my stomach, not that I'm calling celebrity bloggers sleazy or anything.

Ian_running_3 How has blogging about running impacted your running?  Impacted your personal life?

It sounds cheesy to say it, but blogging about running has definitely made me a better runner.  Being a part of the online running blogging community has taught me so many things about training, injury prevention and how to analyze my runs to death.  The biggest impact by far though is the marathon that I'm planning to run in January.  I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that I wouldn't be attempting a marathon if it wasn't for the blog, so you see, the impact hasn't been wholly positive. 

As for my personal life, blogging really hasn't had much of an effect there other than obsessively checking my e-mail all day long to see if I have any new comments, constantly pausing to jot down ideas for a new blog post and generally ignoring my family so I can concentrate on what I'm writing.  Not much of a break from the norm at all.

Shave Your 5k has been a great success.  Will you be planning a similar event for us in the future?

This is something I've been giving a lot of thought to lately.  The Shave Your 5K Challenge has been a lot of fun, but it has also been a lot more work than I had anticipated, and if there's one thing I avoid like the plague it's work.  There are probably some people out there who e-mailed me their 5K time months ago and are wondering if they're ever going to get a response back from me, if you're one of those, people then please accept my apologies for my FEMA-like proficiency. I have enjoyed hosting the SY5K and I'll probably do something similar again next year, but I may have to solicit some help in managing all the entries from some RBFs.

Vanillas_kids_race_2 You say through years of dedication you've always managed to be half fast.  Tell us about getting started with your running and some of the fast highlights.

My preferred form of exercise has always been running, but it wasn't until 3 years ago when I entered my first race, that I began to really consider myself a runner.  The race was a popular 10K that I had been intending to run for years and though I was proud I completed it, the 1:06:33 finishing time was unacceptable.  I trained for a year and ran it the following year in 58:53.  It was shortly after achieving that sub 60 minute 10K that I began to experience the curse of the competitive runner; never being satisfied with your race results for any length of time. 

After that race I became determined to get faster and I decided that running easy, which is all I had really tried to that point, wasn't going to get it done.  I've been slowly getting faster ever since.  My most recent attempt at that 10K resulted in a 52:07 finishing time but I still consider myself to be only half-fast.  It is my hope though, that someday in the not too distant future the term half-fast will apply phonetically to my attitude, instead of literally to my foot speed.

How did you decide to run the marathon?

Painstakingly.  I have long felt that I needed to run a marathon to validate myself as a runner and as a running blogger.  I doubt that there's anyone out there who seriously thinks that I'm not a runner or that I have no place writing about running because I haven't run a marathon yet, but these are the thoughts that keep arising in my mind.  In the past I've been able to drown those doubts out with intervals and 5Ks but lately they've been tougher to conquer.  It's probably not the best reason to run a marathon, but that's what it boils down to.  Like I said above, I wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't for my blog.

Tell us about the FIRST marathon training program you're going to use?

I firmly believe that the FIRST program has been one of the keys to my improvement as a runner.  The premise of the program is quality miles over quantity of miles, which means that you run 3 intense workouts each week at the pace prescribed by the masochists that conjured it up.  You complement those runs (typically intervals, tempo and long runs) with 2 to 3 cross training days.  They claim that you can get faster with less chance of injury and it has certainly proved to be the case for me.  I recently saw someone mention that they loved running too much to only run 3 days a week, but that's just not me.  I'm in "like" with running, I'm in love with better results and if 3 butt-kicking runs a week is what it takes, then so be it.

Vanillas_family_3 What are you most looking forward to about running the marathon? 

The end.  I'm looking forward to meeting up with other running bloggers.  I'm looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing a new distance.  I'm looking forward to my medal, but mostly I'm looking forward to the end.

To be answered by your wife:  What is a day-in-the-life for Mrs. Vanilla like living with your husband?

Just like all of Ian's readers, I spend a lot of time rolling with laughter and only a small percentage of that is at him.  Both being runners, we spend much of our time training, analyzing training, fueling for training and recovering from training- usually with wine. Being athletic makes us better parents, as a 12 mile run simultaneously removes stress and children- who are often the cause of the stress.  Our boys think that we are Kenyan fast and are always surprised to learn that we didn't win the races we run.  They are enthralled by races- they practice winning living room marathons and triathlons and tote their cowbells faithfully for a glimpse of us at a race.

Running hero?

Yes.  Yes I am, thank you for mentioning it.

Thanks Tom and Amy, for having me as your guest here today, and thanks for not tripping me up with a tricky, foreign policy question.

Thanks, Vanilla.  The pleasure is ours and to be enjoyed by new readers and all your many followers.


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Thanks again for having me.


This was a very revealing and surprising interview. The pictures make you appear hygenic!

Half Fast is Full Funny.


Hey you talked about me (meeting other running bloggers-LOL!)!! SAAWEET I am famous now too. Great interview! I love the picture of your family!

Bob Allen

Glad you featured Vanilla and then posted a picture of his family.


"I'm in "like" with running, I'm in love with better results" - that should be forever linked to you Vanilla. What a great quote! I feel the same way.

Eric Gervase

I have to say that I'm in love with running and like with faster results. I think FIRST could help me get faster. But, I'm not a big fan of cross training. If I ever get a really serious goal, I'll probably turn to FIRST though.

Half Fast is one the funniest blogs out there... if you haven't read, you should.


Great interview Vanilla. One of the first blogs I started reading. He got me hooked on blogs - like the pusher he is.


color me a half-fast fan too. thanks to chocolate jon for getting me hooked. if vanilla's the pusher, is jon the pimp? it's so confusing!

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