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What if we all rooted for one another in 2019?

Can we make 2019 the year we root for one another? 

   We’ve been through so much disagreement, so much anxiety and distrust. Sometimes it feels like we are on the brink of a civil war, then Netflix launches a movie about not trusting anyone and ‘refusing to look at the world around us’ and suddenly we all get along again. 

Can we make 2019 the year we all not only try to get over our disagreements, but maybe we make it the year we all support and cheer each other on? 

  I recently had a talk with a business associate. A friend, really. When I ran into him he was looking up vacation homes. Expensive ones. I thought it was amazing. He later texted me and said he wasn’t really looking into that. I was disappointed. I immediately responded ‘Why not?!  I want you to! Nothing better than everyone doing well!’

   Why are we so afraid of success and hard work paying off? He wasn’t bragging on social media.  He wasn’t sending me a message to make me jealous. He was enjoying the fruits of his hard work. I was truly happy for him. 

   I’ve had the opportunity to consult a few friends on businesses they started in 2018. I never knew how much fun it could be to see my friends’ dreams become realities. Knowing that their families are better off, they are happier, that’s the best. I never thought ‘I hope they fail!’  I deeply feel the opposite. I was raised to believe when others do better we all do!  There’s no time for jealousy, nothing could be a bigger waste of time. 

   We spend so much time working. We spend the best years of our life throwing our best hours at projects and careers. We all do. What’s the harm in being happy for each other as we reap the rewards of jobs well done? 

   Can we make 2019 the year we all congratulate one another and feel genuine happiness for their happiness? 

Unscientifically speaking, I bet it does wonders on a personal level. I’m not a motivational speaker, but I know there are studies that probably show that those who are happy for others and generally inspired by their success, likely see personal improvement in their own lives. 

Conversely I’m sure those who sit around complaining about others and saying things that sound more like jealousy, are likely also not improving their standing at the same time. 

     I think some believe happiness is zero sum game. That happiness and success is finite and if my Facebook friend is doing well then it is potentially taking away from me. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Happiness should breed happiness. 

Look at what happens to a city when a group of millionaires win a championship for the city. Very few of us personally gain from that championship beyond the pride we feel.  We proudly root them to achieve their highest success. 

    After the penguins raise the Stanley Cup or the Steelers win a Super Bowl, how many of us sarcastically think ‘look at those show offs. Must be nice to be rich, in great shape, and extremely successful!’?  None of us. We all get up the next day and grin from ear to ear, so proud of the guys we root for. 

  Can we make 2019 the year we see the happiness and success of our friends and family with pride and genuine joy? Try it!  You’ll really like the result. 

Thanks for stopping by

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What Dance means to me

I hope to update this post in 5-10 years when my oldest daughter will have likely taken her last dance class. I can’t help, as we approach what is known as ‘recital season’, but reflect on the importance of dance class to my family.

To give some background to those who don’t know me. I am not a dancer. I wish I could, no one has yet taken my request to learn to tap seriously, so I guess one day, maybe.   Wait, maybe I have done a ‘Dad’s Dance’ at a recital or two. screen-shot-2018-05-18-at-2-27-23-pm-e1526668122732.png

My dance story began about 5 years ago.

I have been a professional photographer for almost 20 years now.  We photograph everything from large school districts to individual newborn babies.

Weddings, High Schools,

I’ve even photographed Presidents of these United States,Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 2.20.25 PM but nothing could prepare me for what happened when I did my first Autumn at my kids’ dance studio.

My wife was a dancer. My kids are dancers. I’ve been to the recitals. I’ve seen the range of talent on display. I’ve seen all the dances on a school auditorium stage, from my squeaky flip down chair while wrestling my son to the seat to keep distractions to a minimum. I enjoy the music, the costumes, the excitement.

But I never really ‘got it’. It’s a shame more people don’t ‘get it’. Easy to say now that I have, but it’s all really quite something. There’s so much more to dance than costumes and rehearsed movements.

For years we would spend days, weeks, sometimes multiple weeks at dance schools Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 2.16.25 PMphotographing the dancers in their recital outfits. These are my favorite weeks of the year! I love the dance families, the dance teachers, and especially the dancers. They are so talented and so humble. This is how I make a living. Parents  buy those pictures, display those pictures, and it is a huge part of my livelihood. I love all that I do, but I really love photographing dance portraits.

Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 2.19.03 PM

After our first spring portrait season, the dance school owner asked me to do something more. Something completely different, but quite unique and exciting. In prior years they had other photographers come into the actual classrooms and photograph the students in their natural dance class environment. No costumes. No makeup. No organized routine for the audience. Just dancers learning to dance.

I love new concepts and challenges. I jumped at the idea.

As parents we’ve all watched through the windows or on the tv’s in the lobby as our children take class. If we’ve never been in the class, we don’t know what really happens.

Let me say this…

If you want to fix a troubled area, start a dance school for the kids. Teach them what my kids learn in dance class. These are the lessons we all need most in life.

Teach them the value of treating others kindly.

There is no star dancer at age 3 or 4, and even if there were, the kids wouldn’t know or care. They know that everyone, regardless of skill, height, body shape, skin color, or hair color should be treated kindly. We can’t teach this so easily at home. Even if it’s one 1/2 hour a week. Taking your children to an organized and structured dance school should be a priority. That kind of action is different than a 2 or 3 child play date. It teaches kids that structure exists. Each kid gets a turn. Skipping in line is way not cool and doing the same activity together is a lot of fun.

Teach them how to learn skills through repetition and caring instructor critique.

I hate to say it, but we live in a ‘give it to me right now!’ world. Seems kids now are all Willy Wonka characters. Gluttons, demanding, distracted, gimme gimme kids.

Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 2.17.46 PMThere’s a lot to be said about taking your child to an activity wherein he/she can obviously see it’s going to take time, practice, and repetition to excel. And that’s a good thing! Not everything is just handed to us all the time! Dance class teaches them this basic life lesson. No one is a perfect on day 1, but they’re already better by day 3.

Let them see what it feels like to have an adult greet you with a warm, genuine smile.

Kids should know that mom or dad love them. That is a given. Grandparents too. But what about those people that we are not related to? What’s it like to win their approval? Few people in my life have as much joy in their hearts as the dance teachers I get to work with. They truly love what they do, but they love the dancers so much more.

Let them know that there are rules, but rules make it fun for everyone.

Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 2.35.36 PM‘When it’s your turn to do the cartwheel you will go. But right now it’s your friend Lily’s turn. Let’s cheer Lily on and Lily will cheer for you.” It doesn’t take much these days to realize that following the rules may not have been enforced in many of people we interact with.   Not all rules are meant to be broken. There is fun in organization.

Help them see that that which is already around them can be used to make the world prettier.

The world is just not that pretty sometimes. It can be downright ugly even. But there is no greater gift we can give to an ugly world than to find a way to make it prettier. Dance is a gift. Done with passion it can bring happiness on the saddest heart. Dance is emotion on display. Dance is the truest form of Art. It makes the world pretty.

Make them aware of universal elements, that while seemingly out of their control, can be studied, understood, and manipulated into their own creation.

Dance is about so many things. To me, dance skill is about time and physical ability, Timing is universal. Musical timing is universal. They truly bring us all together. Ever clap along to a song, it’s the same in China as it is here. The beat. Finding that beat at an early age, moving your body TO that beat makes the magic. Time and beats are around us everywhere. Dance teaches us that things that are seemingly outside our control can be turned into our own personal tool for expression and communication.Screen Shot 2018-05-18 at 2.16.41 PM

I LOVE that my children are dancers. Do I expect them to make a career out of dance? No. Just because it’s 2018 doesn’t mean our kids have to only be in activities that will lead to their career. Sometimes they can do a specialized activity to improve the overall product of who they are.

Is dance class fun? It sure looks like it. As the photographer walking around the class room capturing kids in their happy place, I can tell you they all love it. They all look forward to it.

May God bless the teachers who teach it.


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When it comes to starting your business, there are very few excuses

In 2018 we are left with fewer and fewer excuses to lean on when asked ‘when are you going to start your own business?’

Technology, community, inspiration, education, and avenues of expansion have never been as accessible as they are today.

I’m not even going to waste your time with generational or decade comparison. Let’s live in the now. Let’s talk about what opportunity we are spoiled with in 2018.

We aren’t walking into a dark tunnel on a dirt path. There are so many ideas, experiences to learn from, and education available on YouTube, Udemy, Podcasts…no excuses

Get Up! Get to it!

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What is the Independepreneur Lifestyle really like?

A client of mine recently sent me this tweet regarding the time one must devote to his/her new entrepreneurial lifestyle. I’m not saying she’s entirely wrong, I just disagree.Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 11.24.51 AM

Let’s break this down.  It’s always about prioritizing. When my wife and I volunteer for things such as the school PTA or at church we often here other’s say ‘I wish I had the time to volunteer.’ Which is great. Thank you for letting me know your wishes, I wish I could be a baseball play by play man, actually, starting 2nd baseman for the Pirates would be something I wish I could be as well. (I think anyone can truly be anything they want to be, with the exception of professional athletes. There are literal physical limitations)

The truth of the matter is how we prioritize our efforts determine what we do and do not do. If being at a few events the PTA puts on every school year is truly important, there would be a way to find the time. Not to be at everything, but time would be found.   When starting an entrepreneurial adventure you must be aware of what you’ll be putting into the game. If you want success overnight, yes, you’ll have to sacrifice time with friends, time with family, and sleep. BUT that is because you want it immediately. Those are time constraints. You put those constraints on yourself.

REAL EXPECTATIONS, especially regarding time, should be your first research. If you want to start a beach body business, expecting to have a loyal and enthusiastic network of clients over night is unrealistic. Of the multiple friends I see doing Beach Body, the ones who are the most successful and most happy took their time to start this business, had low expectations out the gate, and grew a loyal network over weeks and months, most took years. BUT if you ask them, none would say, ‘I wish I were where I am now when I started.’  For them, its the journey, growing at a pace that works for them. You won’t believe what little you know now vs. what you’ll learn as you grow.

There is never a perfect scenario to start something like a business. I would liken starting a company to having a baby. The similarities are ridiculous.

When you get married the first baby questions start. I’ve been to over 1100 weddings (It’s what I do) and I can tell you that within the toasts to the Bride and Groom at least 60% include some kind of reference to when the couple will be welcoming a child.

When you set out with a skill or trade that may or may not lend itself to starting your own personal operation the questions immediately being. ‘When will you open your own salon?’  ‘Have you looked into starting your own yoga facility?’ ‘You just bought a camera, what’s your company going to be called?’

With babies and businesses there is always pressure from those who will have very little to do with helping to make either work. But everyone wants you to do it.  The fact of the matter is this, there is never going to be a perfect time to start something, so waiting until you have every duck in a row does not work. If you have the passion and you want it, do it sooner rather than later- If you wait, you’ll regret it. OR wait until YOU are ready!  In the end you’ll be the one up late at night with the business or the baby, so you should always do what you are comfortable with.

BE CAREFUL WHO YOU TELL WHAT YOU’RE PLANNING  Like trying to get pregnant and trying to organize yourself into starting your business, it’s likely best to keep the beginning to yourself. Not the grand opening of your business, that should be broadcast. I’m referring to getting your thoughts in order. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen great ideas fall by the waste side because of announcing plans too early. Sometimes the excitement you feel about your new project can be diluted by telling too many people before anything actually starts. Even with the shared excitement, wind does leave the sails. Only tell those who can actually do things to help you, not just pat you on the back and say ‘I can’t wait to see what you come up with.’   Wait until you’ve got actual things in motion.

 IGNORE THE NEGATIVE ADVICE. The above tweet is what typically follows the telling of friends and family about your new business idea.  “BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR FAMILY?”  or ‘I guess you won’t be sleeping much!’

SLEEP IS ENTIRELY OVERRATED. Note the time she wrote the above tweet! Entrepreneurs love late nights because its the freest time to work! Especially on a new passion project. 10p-2a is the entrepreneurial happy hour. Creativity flows when there are no distractions. THIS IS NOT AN EVERYDAY THING. Late nights are based on urgent need and inspiration, not a common practice. If it is, then you need to review your daylight productivity. Its about prioritizing. If you NEED 2 hour lunches everyday to maintain friends, thats fine I guess, but you’ll need more late nights to cover that. I’m a big sports fan and when I attend a playoff game or stay up late to watch a game, no matter how little sleep I’ll get, its worth it to me. I prioritize the experience of going to the game or staying up late watching over the extra bit of sleep I could get. And if my team won a late game I still wake up with a smile.

STAYING FIT SHOULD GO HAND IN HAND WITH BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR. I don’t love that she says ‘staying fit’ is a challenge for entrepreneurs. I can honestly say that the 90 minutes I spend at the gym is my second most productive time. This tweet may have been pre-podcast, but if you spend your time running or power walking or biking listening to the latest ariana grande album and not listening to podcasts that help your business-self then I suggest trying that now. When you exercise your mind is more open to information, to learning. This is the IDEAL time to be expanding your sales, marketing, productivity via self education with podcasts, books, etc.

YOUR FAMILY WILL UNDERSTAND AS LONG AS YOU ARE FAIR WITH THEM.        No one benefits more from your success than your family.  This is a FACT.                   They’ll have no problem never seeing you because of the benefit coming their way. This is FICTION.

Your toughest prioritizing will be how you handle your family. Use their smiles, laughs, and heartwarming moments to your advantage. I know that during my hardest working times I let my mind drift to memories or expectations of our family vacations. It keeps me going. Its what inspires me. Schedule many trips, as many as you can afford. Even if its camping for a night. You should be working to get back to your family as much as possible. Use them as motivation, not deterrent.

I understand Randi’s tweet, but don’t let what she tweeted and turned into a book be a deterrent. Entrepreneurs can have it all. Just takes some prioritizing and planning.


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Buy Local. Then Review your Review before You Review

I am a big proponent of shopping in, buying from, and utilizing local businesses. Small business is the lifeblood of local economies. The employees at these businesses are our neighbors, family, and friends.These businesses, when possible, should be the businesses we support. buy_local

I am a big fan of social media. I think sites like Twitter,Facebook, Yelp, etc  have created a more social society. This has,however, also lead to a more opinionated populace. We no longer reserve our opinions, thoughts, or complaints for our specific group of friends. We now express them openly and loudly through whatever means available. We see our social platform as our own personal billboard, ready to rent space to our most immediate and irrevocable opinions.

It’s hard not to want to embrace this marvelous medium to communicate to those who can make change. We tweet our politicians and pastors, Facebook friend our coffee shoppes and celebrities, and Yelp our restaurants with real-time rants regarding just about anything our minds can muster. There seems to be no end in site to our social interaction, much to our benefit, and unfortunately, often to our societal detriment.

anonymous-blogger-typist-keyboard-laptop-computer-300x200   This is not a post regarding anonymous attacks on people or places, companies or community leaders. It’s what we feel comfortable doing in posts with our names attached. We didn’t love a church we visited, so we give a harsh review on Facebook. Our waitress at a local diner got overwhelmed and took too long to bring our check so we feel all of Yelp needs to know. WHY?  What is the objective?

Do we really want heads to roll at our slightest inconvenience?

Do we forget just how easy it is to not be perfect? OR did we forget just how little the inconsequential things truly are to our happiness?

This post is a request to remember that while we are all connected and we each have our own soapbox to stand on, perhaps more, not less, forethought before speaking is in order.

While over the past few years we have seen attempted boycotts of companies or blacklisting of sponsors of controversial commentators, it does not mean that we should all become instant social activists when we feel slighted or snubbed.  Especially on the local level.

Do we really want heads to roll at our slightest inconvenience?

Small businesses are still businesses, and I know that the idea of a company being held with their feet to the fire ignites a certain excitement, whether for entertainment or through entitlement, we should understand that our words lead more to heartburn and heartbreak before they lead to resolution.

Owning, or being a primary driving force behind a company, is a draining and demanding existence. While often the idea conjures up such luxuries as creating one’s own schedule, financial freedom, and fancy cars, the reality is more like that of a working actor. Not an A list celebrity, more like a B List bit part player.  cameron_pic__18

The job seems amazing. In reality, it is an agonizing, self-doubting, no-time-to-enjoy-success, series of super-highs followed by staggering-lows, where there is absolutely no guarantee of the next round of either, from day to day. They say you should not read what others say about you but you do, and you spend hours looking for ‘feedback’. Actors ignore the good and spend hours scouring for the bad, breathing sighs of relief, not celebrating, when a good review comes in and dreading the next bad word spoken in their direction. They are their brand. They live and die based on the public’s perception of that brand.   Small business owners are quite similar.

There is no separating yourself from you, as much as you would love a chance to shut it off for just a little while. You cannot.  There is no end of the day whistle, weekend furlough, or two week hiatus from your brand. You are a  24/ 7 /365 commodity.

You laugh as your friends get excited for the weekend as they will be able to ‘shut it off’ for a few days and just relax their mind. YOU cannot. You haven’t for as long as you’ve been a professional. With today’s technology there is so time to shut yourself off from the world for even a day. There is too much at stake, too much potential loss in a 24 hour window. What if a new opportunity email comes in during hour 2 of the ‘shut down’? 22 hour delay in response is as good as being permanently closed. Any time spent unavailable to potential customers is money lost or wasted.

This is what it feels like to own a small business. Some see it as a curse, some love it, most are somewhere between. It’s not for the weak, but if you can handle it, there are many upsides. (refer to the luxuries listed above) But, what many reviewing consumers don’t fully grasp is that there are always human beings behind the logo, fellow members of the human race who feel our wrath when we comment or complain. While an email complaint thrown at Verizon on a Monday may get an automated response and a potential fix, a harsh word sent toward a small business on a Thursday can ruin an employees’ only weekend off with their children. Unlike Verizon, the statistics don’t add up to creating a neutral in-company response. As of 2012 Verizon had 182,000 employees and 107million customers. That means that one person’s over-the-top unwarranted complaint only affects 1/182,000 of the company and represents a minuscule percentage  of the 100+ million customers, statistically, it’s completely irrelevant. No one skips a step when the complaint rolls in. When a small business of 7-19 employees and 1025 clients receives a complaint it can turn that company upside-down for a few days. There is a decidedly smaller space for error in a small business, yet, customers treat them the same online as they do the big guys.

1Please remember that on the other side of that email, voicemail, or, God Forbid, that social media post designed to attack that small business, there is a real person feeling the pain. We ALL want you happy, as your happiness means our continued success (and existence). Sure a complaint gets a response and it should absolutely lead to a resolution, but as the owner of two small businesses, please, try reaching out politely first. We are not large corporations in search of billion dollar profits, we are real people and hard workers just like you, trying to make ends meet at home and at the office. We never claimed to be perfect. We only promise to do our best.

This all being said, just imagine what a nice, honest, lengthy and positive review can do for your friend or neighbor.

DISCLAIMER: If the local company has maliciously and purposefully done you wrong ignore the above. But, if the actions were done in good faith, without negative intent, or accidentally, give the person a heads up and work out a solution.


KEVIN REDFORD is a 20 year professional in small business as both as a Photographer and an Entertainer. His companies, Redford Photography and Redford Entertainment, are located in Pittsburgh,Pa, where He, his wife April, and their three children have always called home. 




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What I look forward to in 2016

This is the first year I have taken off the full week between Christmas and New Years Day. I wanted to spend time with family, I needed to in fact, so I was happy when the company unanimously decided the break was in order. No guilt for not being there, It kinda goes with the small business mentality. But I have been given a little time to think about what I would like to see in the coming year. Here we go:

I would like to see some optimism. I would love to know that the people around me are not expecting impending doom or catastrophe at every corner. In America we still live in the greatest country with freedom to be ourselves and the opportunity to pursue our own desires. With that freedom comes responsibility. We can not blame anyone but ourselves when we don’t live the life we want. Which leads to:

I would like to see fewer victims. In the literal sense, obviously, crimes against one another need to end, but I am tired of the crimeless victims. This too is a choice. It’s time to accept that we have the choice to blame others for our problems and what’s bothering us or to not. Perhaps, and It’s not fun, we need to look within. I tell my kids all the time that the power to offend or be offended lies within them. They can choose be beaten down by others or they can rise above it. Especially if it is only words. Words have power, but only if they give those words the power. Whether saying something or being called something, without giving power to the words, they can choose to have the power.

I would like to see some people take some chances in life this year. I love speaking with entrepreneurs and hard workers. I know too many who have been putting off big things for a while, waiting for the economy to change. Well, in 2016 we have the power to be the change we want to see. Take a chance, follow a passion, and make a difference.

I would like to see everyone put their kids and families first whenever they can. I know first hand how hard it is to live and work in 2015/2016 and to be the best parent I can be. I want my kids to know that I love them with every beat of my heart but also  know that when I am not there, I’m doing something that, in the end, will make them better off.  I want to see some friends take some vacations. Especially vacations with your families. Family is so much fun when there is no life to get in the way. Take your family to disney world or on a disney cruise. Fly them to a place none of you have ever been and discover it together. Life is so short and so futile, but knowing that you carved a few weeks out of every year to be there with your kids somewhere other than home, it’ll change you forever.

I would like Free Speech to make a comeback. I love talking about things I am personally passionate about, sports is easy. I can talk sports with anyone. But I’m not allowed to discuss politics. Truly a shame in an election year. How can we ever learn from one another when we can’t even get through a conversation without being attacked for thinking one way or another. If I agree with Marco Rubio or Hilary Clinton, does that make me the most extreme of what their parties represent? Probably not. But despite my own distaste for the current political system, it is what we have. If Democrats pick Bernie Sanders, it does not mean that every person who ever voted or plans to vote the party line is a devout socialist and If Republicans pick Donald Trump, it does not mean that every person who ever voted the party line agree with every comment he makes. Its the system. We don’t get 16 choices, we get 2. Change it or get over it, but don’t blame each other. And don’t let a person’s political choice define them. I have more friends I disagree with politically than I agree with. I think it’s more fun. But I don’t get offended, so they like telling me off. It’s fun.

I am ready for a Pirates World Series. I could stand to see another Penguins Stanley Cup. And if Steelers fans want a 7th ring, I suppose that would be fun too.

Happy 2016!

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10 Thoughts For A First Time Long Distance Runner

I completed my first half-marathon in May of 2015. As I begin to recover I feel it’s my responsibility to warn anyone considering such an endeavor of just what awaits them. If you have never run such a race you will be somewhat educated. If you have run before you may find yourself agreeing or disagreeing, either way, let me know. Regardless of your personal experience what you will find below is the truth regarding running. There are no stats, no figures and, below you will find the 10 things about running that you may not know.

1.The Atmosphere at a Half or Full Marathon is Absolutely Electric 

Pittsburgh Race

Pittsburgh Race

You would think a throng of amateur runners would be something less than exciting to watch. Who wants to see thousands of people sweat, pant, and groan through a 2 hour workout? TENS OF THOUSANDS of people do. I’ll never forget the feeling of running through the crowd at the starting line. I never felt so alive. I’ve never felt that amped up before. I felt such a burst of excitement surge through me as I ran past signs, noisemakers, and screaming spectators. It was surreal and completely exclusive to running. It was the greatest 100 feet of exercise I could have ever imagined.

2.The First Mile is Absolute Hell

I wasn’t more than 100 feet into the race. My heart pounded from excitement. I could barely catch my breath taking as I took in the ovation of the audience. At least that is what I thought that lack of oxygen was.

The downside to the first mile is not just that your adrenaline is piqued by crowd noise and anticipation but that your first mile, regardless of whether you’re running alone or for your new found fanbase, is miserable. Depending on the stretching and your pre-race prep work, if you are not completely ready for this you will find the first mile to cause you to doubt your entire existence and self-worth. It just hurts. Your lungs will not fill with air, your already dubious joints start to flare up, and you begin an ill-advised process of counting down miles before you complete one. The First Mile is just incredibly tough,

3.The Last 500 Feet are as Close to Heaven on Earth As One Can Feel While Running

Notice how many people look awfully strong crossing that finish line even at the 5 hour mark of a half marathon? That last stretch of race is softest, lightest, and most exciting 500 feet of running anyone will ever feel. Consider that for the past however many  hours you have been running, walking, shuffling, crawling in hopes of seeing this glorious conclusion. It is the pot of gold at the end of the 13.1 mile rainbow and the reward is so sweet. I’ve seen buckets of sweat masquerading as runners skip the last 500 feet. Its an amazing sensation.

4.The Running Community is Friendly 

April and Kevin Redford  | Pittsburgh Great Race

April and Kevin Redford | Pittsburgh Great Race

If you find yourself at odds with another runner or you begin bickering with a random fellow marathoner then it is likely your fault. The running community is as inclusive and encouraging a group of people you will ever meet. Sure, toward the front of the starting line there is jostling for position, it happens.  Every once in a while if you stop too quickly without allowing runners behind you any warning you will encounter less than cordial folks. But it is absurdly unlikely. When riding in a shuttle,  walking to the starting line, or checking in at the runners expo prior to the race please feel free to spark up a conversation with anyone there. You won’t be disappointed. Running is like a shared fandom of a sports team or a political party….Very big tent and very arms wide open to fellow members of this particular cult.

5.The Gear is Cool

In the aforementioned expo you will find yourself enjoying some of the greatest merch in the land. There are Bumper stickers, comical shirts, and flat out crazy cool running gear awaiting you. Not only does every runner get a shirt that screams ‘I did it!’ as part of the registration, but the mercantile opportunities to share your running passion with the world await you and your credit card. Everything from specialized running shoes and socks, but customizable shorts, pants,, shirts, sweatshirts, sunglasses, and hats are yours for the perusing as well. Quite sincerely it is a lot of fun to buy something you can wear to proudly show off your running successes.

6.Those Who Don’t Run Will Never Understand

It was astonishing to me, as I began my training, just how little everyone knows about the idea of long distance running. So many family members would ask questions designed to make me nervous. My co-workers would try to make me feel ridiculous for willingly agreeing to do it. My best friends challenged my sanity in general. If they have never had the bug or desire to complete a long race they will likely never get it and that’s ok. Let it be yours. Share it with anyone who asks, but don’t be surprised when they just don’t understand why it’s important to you. It’s not your job to convert anyone. Running is a very individual sport with an incredible community that shares your ups and downs. Don’t let yourself get down by how few people out there actually care about your race. They just don’t get it.

7.Those Who Have Done It Will Never Give You Credit

Everyone thinks that their toughest accomplishment was harder to achieve than everyone else’s great achievement.  The beauty of half and full marathons is that they are a defined distance. The downside is that the conditions from year to year, or course to course, are never identical. Past runners are unlikely to give you a great deal of credit. They’ve been there and done that. They’re happy for you, but it’ll never compare to what they personally did.  So when a past runner concludes that did a great job don’t be surprised if they don’t add that they wonder how you would have faired in the race they ran 10 years earlier. Just like the hall of fame in football or the masters in golf, once you’re in you always have a place in the conversation as a finisher. And that is a great thing. It is a fun community.

8. What Hurts Will Surprise You

I may be the only one, but I absolutely love the inevitable soreness following a big race. I love the feeling of a hot shower over a sore body. I feel accomplished and I feel alive. I know just how few people in the world at that time feel as successful and sore as I do and I love that. I remember wondering how I would feel post-race. Would my legs hurt or my shoulders? What about my flat feet or my back. The truth is that all of it hurt at one point or another and I loved it. When you close a big sale or buy a new house theres great feeling in your mind or in your bank account, but your body feels the same. After you complete a big race you feel it from head to toe and its a soreness, not of defeat, but of victory over your self and it is perfect.

Kevin Redford | Pittsburgh Half Marathon

Kevin Redford | Pittsburgh Half Marathon

9.The Runners High is Real and Amazing

The last 500 feet are Heaven, but those first steps after the finish line are a high unlike any drug could ever offer. It’s not paid for. It’s not illegal. It’s an earned feeling of accomplishment and success. Once you complete 13.1 or 26.2 miles of sheer effort, the feeling at the end is simply epic. A colossal internal celebration begins and lasts for weeks. While through those many miles of running we find ourselves wondering why we would ever agree to do this to ourselves, it takes but a few steps after the finish line to imagine doing another one. Once you cross you realize that not only can you do it, but it doesn’t kill you. In fact, even though you’re finally done running you realize it wasn’t that bad to begin with and maybe, just maybe, it would be fun to do it again or for a longer distance. Maybe I can even do it better the next time around.

10. Signing up is the biggest and most important step in your training

If you don’t just bite the bullet and sign up you are likely to never do it. Waiting until you’ve done some training before signing up for a race is a losers bet. You will likely never feel ready on your own. Giving yourself a deadline in the near future, seeing it on your calendar knowings its rapidly approaching will do far more for you than any other training method. Most races require a fee to sign up which you should see as added incentive to ‘just do it!’

I would have never imagined myself becoming a long distance runner at 30. I had never run more than a few miles prior to training for my first Half Marathon.  Full disclsure, I finished 20 minutes past my goal on my first half marathon, but I finished! Finishing the race was my first goal. I plan to run my second half in November 2015 at the Disney’s Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland.

Kevin Redford is a speaker, author, and consultant for small businesses. He is the owner of three small businesses in the Pittsburgh,Pa area. He can be reached via twitter @kevinredford or instagram @kevredford or email