He probably doesn’t remember, but my first interaction with Brad Luttrell was the day before my first 10-mile race in 2012. I’d made a comment on Twitter about the color of the race shirt (Cardinal red) and he responded with a funny quip about Anthony Davis. Kentucky fan and a runner? That bode well for an instant friendship.
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.
How long have you been running? And why did you start?
I never competed in running in high school or anything, and only did it off and on through college (Go Cats). I ran some when I moved to Memphis. I don’t care what Marc Cohn says, walking in Memphis is bad enough, forget running in that humidity. I really didn’t start until after I moved to Louisville around 2010. Thanks to a heavy dose of holiday dinners, I was feeling pretty hefty myself. One night, I just went for a run. Then another. And another. Pretty soon I was like Forrest and just always felt like running.
I was a freelance photographer at the time, and I photographed a guy who had just completed his final marathon in his goal to complete one in all 50 states. He told me that running a race is like no experience you’ve ever done. I went home, turned in my photos and signed up for my first race, the Anthem 5K.
Have you always been fast or did you have to work for that?
I’ve always been one of the faster kids. In high school I put up a 6:15 for my second mile – you know, when they time you once at the beginning of the semester and once at the end, to prove that you have improved and are healthier, but really it just ends up making kids hate running… Sorry, that’s tangential.
I’ve come to appreciate long distance speed over the sprints. I’m competitive, and with running, you are the competition. You’re the only thing in the way of a victory, whether it’s to complete your first 5K or run a 1:30-flat half marathon. I love the mental challenge as much as the physical. When training for a race I train pretty hard to get my speed to drop, and focus on being mentally capable of getting there. Lately I’ve struggled with an Achilles injury, which is killing my time, and me slowly. Well, on the inside.
According to Instagram stalking, it seems you like kayaking as much as running. Which method is a better way to escape the undead in the midst of the zombie apocalypse?
Well, you could pack a lot of supplies on a kayak. Of course, this assumes walkers would give you time to pack up your things before trying to eat you alive…
Where’s your favorite place to run?
Tom Sawyer Park. It’s a special place to me. My wedding reception was there, it’s where I’ve trained for two marathons and where I go to relax with my dog. I can log 10 miles without doubling up my route very much, and see coyotes, turkeys, hawks and deer all along the way.
The Parklands of Floyds Fork was clutch for me this winter, though. They do a great job of maintaining the sidewalks, even when it snows several inches. If you need a place to train in the winter, it’s a great option.
Do you ever run with your dog?
No. It’s a miserable experience for both parties.
I’m not a fan of running with dogs because they can’t do very much distance before they need a break. They can’t sweat like a human, so they’re kind of built for short distances. Ernie is incredibly fast, but he’s mostly built for two things: Chasin’ tail and eating bacon. Really. That’s pretty much it.
You’re a big home brewer. Do you think beer is a good pre- or post-run beverage?
I recommend a dark beer for celebrating a good run.
You’ve finished two marathons – both of them being the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon. Any interest in seeking out a different one? If yes, which one and why?
I will run another marathon. I’m going to sign up for Chicago’s lottery (I was 14 minutes shy of the qualifying time) and hope for the best. If not that race, then likely a spring of 2015 race. I don’t really want to run a fall race, because that means training in the summer. I really struggle with running in the summer. That said, my wife’s family lives in Chicago, and I just think that would be a great race. My best time is a 3:29 as of right now, so I think I could knock that on down to the low 3:20s with a flatter course, too.
I’m going to keep running races as long as my body is able. It may catch up to me later in life. I might need two knee replacements by the time I’m 50, or maybe I’ll perish from a terrible case of Plantar Fasciitis. But you never know, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed for any of us. I’m going to make the most of every day and keep logging miles.
Work hard. Stay humble.
*All photos courtesy of Brad Luttrell. For more information about his photography, Brad Luttrell Photography.