Yesterday at 4:57pm I hit send in Gmail and submitted the final draft of my newest book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneur Ecosystem In Your City to my publisher (Wiley). I’ve still got two more revision cycles – one in a few weeks when I get the final copyedited version and then one last review of the page proofs but the book is done. The publication date is early October but if history is a guide it should be out by mid-September.
Startup Communities is the first book in a four book series I’m doing called Startup Revolution. I’m spending most of this summer in maker mode at my house in Keystone and doing all my normal work, but I’m not travelling at all and trying to spend as little time as possible doing random stuff. June was just awesome – I feel rested, happier, and more productive than I’ve felt in a very long time.
My deadline was the end of day on July 5th. Specifically 11:59pm on July 5th. It felt phenomenal to get done a day early. I went for a short bike ride (I have a marathon this weekend in Montana so I’m tapering), had some dinner, grabbed some ice cream and popcorn, and watched the first six episodes of Damages with Amy. Four hours later my brain was calmed down from a 40+ hour focused push to get the book out.
Today feels like a total bonus day. I’m heading out for lunch with Amy, grabbing some salt tablets for my marathon, working on random stuff this afternoon, running an hour to dinner and then eating with two good friends (and Amy). We get up early tomorrow and head to Montana.
Life is good.
When you support a family member in need, you’re doing the right thing. The community you are part of is counting on you, and fulfilling your obligation to them is part of being a member of that community.
What happens, though, when you help someone you don’t know? What happens when one community deliberately seeks out someone who needs a leg up and attention and support and reaches out – with no possibility of reciprocity? That feeling is extraordinary, and as I run the 29 marathons I’ve got left to go to make my 50 marathons by age 50 goal, I have been thinking harder about fundraising as part of this experience.
After my close friend Andy Sack was diagnosed with testicular cancer, the impact of a medical emergency really hit home for me. Andy’s fully recovered after surgery and a 62 day chemo regimen – the experience caused me to think a lot about what families go through when a loved one is ill.
During this time, I met Ethan Austin, the co-founder of GiveForward at Lindzonpalooza. I was blown away by what they are doing and decided to team up with them to do 29 random acts of kindness over the next few years.
For each of my upcoming marathons, I’m going to run in support of one of the GiveForward campaigns. Amy and I will kick off the fundraising with a commitment of at least $145,000 ($5,000 per marathon) and encourage our extended community to contribute whatever they can. We may increase this amount in the future ($5,000 will always be our minimum) depending on the total level of contribution (more contributors = bigger contribution from us.) I’m also going to do some random things for the people who contribute on a marathon by marathon basis – look for me to have some fun with this rewarding my community for helping with a random act of kindness.
The people we will support will not be people we know. Rather, they will be people who inspire us and who we want to shine a random act of kindness on. Our fundraising efforts will be a complete surprise to these families, and our hope is that we can create a little unexpected joy for the people we support.
The first random act of kindness is Justin Salcedo from Devine, TX who has testicular cancer. I’ll be running the Missoula Marathon on July 8, 2012 in Missoula, Montana for him. His family friend set up a GiveForward page for him and wrote the following description:
Justin Salcedo is from a small town south of San Antonio, TX. We live in Devine, TX. He is a good athlete, a good son, and a good friend to everyone. Always has a smile on his face. He just recently found out he had testicular cancer. His mother is the one who told me the story of how he found out about his cancer. I have known him for about 17 years. My sister-in-law baby sat him when he was little. My son and Justin were in pre-K together, they were in little league baseball, our local youth basketball league, Middle school athletics and 2 years highschool athletics. So for this news it was a shock to me and I am not his immediate family. It feels like dream…..
The GiveForward campaign is called Kicking Cancer. Our goal is to raise at least $10,000 by May 31st to help out Justin and his family. Let’s do this for Justin and show the world how the power of a community can deliver random acts of kindness.
PS – if you can’t afford to donate, I urge you to share Justin’s GiveForward page on your Facebook wall or give Justin a “virtual hug” by leaving words of encouragement on his page. Neither of these things will cost you a dime but they might mean the world to Justin.
I get to work with a lot of great CEOs. When I reflect on what makes them great, one thing sticks out – they are always building their muscles. All of them.
As a marathon runner, I’ve got massive legs. Marathoner legs. They’ll look familiar to anyone who runs a lot. In contrast, I have a wimpy upper body. I’ve never enjoyed lifting weights. So I don’t spend any time on it.
I’d be a much better marathon runner if I worked on a bunch of other muscles as well. I’m starting to get into a swimming regimen, I’m riding my new bike around town and this summer I’ve got pilates three days a week as a goal of making it a habit. By the end of summer I hope to have a bunch of other muscles developing and a set of habits that enables me to finally maintain them.
The key phrase above is “I’ve never enjoyed lifting weights.” When asked, I say I’m bad at it. Or that I simply don’t like it. Or, when I’m feeling punchy, that jews don’t lift weights.
Of course, these are just excuses for not working on another set of muscles. If I don’t like lifting weights, surely there are things I like doing instead. I’ve always been a good swimmer – why don’t I have the discipline to go to the pool three days a week and swim? Most hotels I stay in have a swimming pool or have a health club nearby. Swimming is as easy as running – you just get in the pool and go.
“I’m bad at it and I don’t like it.” That’s what runs through my head when I lift weights. For a while, I used this narrative with swimming. But when I really think about swimming, the narrative should be “I’m ok at it and I like it.”
So why don’t I do it? I don’t really know, but I think it’s because the particular muscles I use when I swim are intellectually linked to the weight lifting muscles, which gets me into a loop of “I’m bad at it and I don’t like it.” So rather than break the cycle, I let my muscles atrophy.
Yoga is the same way. I struggle with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. It’s too fast for me, I struggle to remember the poses, and my glasses constantly fall off, and I can’t follow what’s going on. So I say “I’m bad at it and I don’t like it” and then don’t do it. But I do like Bikram Yoga. It’s slower, there are the same 26 poses, and I like the heat. So why don’t I do it? Once again, the narrative gets confused in my mind and it turns into “I don’t like yoga.”
All of this is incredibly self-limiting. Rather than fight with “I’m bad at it and I don’t like it” how about changing it to “I’m not good at it but I’m going to try new approaches and find something I like.” There are many different approaches to building a particular muscle so rather than use a one-size fits all approach (e.g. I must go lift weights, which I hate), search for a different approach that you like.
If you want to be a great CEO, you need to be constantly building all of your muscles. There are going to be a lot of areas you think you aren’t good at. Rather than avoid them, or decide you don’t like them, figure out another way to work on these muscles. You’ll be a better, and much more effective CEO as a result.
Marathon #20 is in the books. Yesterday I did the St. Louis Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon with Matt Shobe. The amazing Amy Batchelor once again sherpa’d for us. The weather was perfect, the course was pretty but hilly, the support was outstanding (as it typical of Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons), and I came in at a solid 4:51:26.
This race was an experiment – I wanted to see if I could do a marathon two weeks in a row while living my normal life. Last weekend I did the Amica Newport Rhode Island Marathon, ran out of gas around mile 16, and struggled home in 5:13:36. Prior to that marathon I had been on the road all week and crisscrossed the country (Denver to SF to Rhode Island). Last week was another heavy travel week – Boston to NY to SF to St. Louis. I did all the normal stuff I did with two exceptions – I didn’t drink any alcohol and I was obsessive about rubbing Purell on my hands throughout the day.
When I got to St. Louis Friday night I was tired and my left shoulder hurt. I always have pre-marathon hypochondria so I figured that since I don’t run on my left shoulder, that was as good a place as any to have some pain. Amy and I had room service, I went to sleep early, slept in, went to the marathon expo, took another nap, went out to Italian dinner with Matt and Amy, and went to bed early.
At 7:30 Sunday morning Matt and I were off and running. Well – not really – it was a 20,000+ person race so it took us 15 minutes to cross the start line. I felt tight and uncomfortable the first three miles but just let the crowd carry me along. We went past the St. Louis Ballpark which is a beautiful stadium, cruised through downtown, and by mile four I was starting to settle down.
My coach – Gary Ditsch – has regularly encouraged me to eat gels during a marathon. Up until now I’ve ignored him since I don’t want to carry anything while I run. This time I bought an iFitness pouch and filled it with six gels. There were two spots on the course where they were handing out gels so I decided to have one on every prime number mile. Rather than drinking Ctyomax (which I hate) I just did gels and water this time. As is typical, the coach is right as it made an incredible difference.
Our pace was incredibly steady for the first ten miles. At mile ten, I had to take a dump so we lost about three minutes along with a few pounds. Matt patiently waited for me and then had to listen to me rant about how relieved I was. He’s such a patient person.
We cruised through the half marathon in 2:24. This was faster than we expected as we figured we were on a 5 hour pace. Neither of us was watching out split times – I had RunKeeper going on my iPhone but no audio with the idea that we’d just run.
The course was a really nice tour through St. Louis. There were tons of hills – only one particularly long, but the endless undulation of the course started to get annoying around mile 20. Or maybe it was just that we were at mile 20.
Matt was the perfect running partner. He could have easily done the race 30 or 45 minutes faster but just hung with me. We talked a little on and off, but mostly told jokes and just chilled out running together. My dark miles on this race were 14 to 20. I was a little anxious about running out of gas like I did last week, but 17 passed, then 18, then 19, and I felt fine.
At 20, we decided to run solid for the next four miles and then push the last two. This was the strategy we used when we ran the Huntsville marathon together and it was an incredibly satisfying way to finish. We cranked on the last two miles, passing hundreds of runners, and feeling great as we crossed the finish line together.
I’m incomprehensibly tired this morning. As I wrap up this point, I’m heading to the airport to head home to Boulder for a week. Yay.
I’m running the Kroll’s Diner Bismarck Marathon on Saturday. This will be Marathon #18 in my quest to run one in every state. I’ll be there for a couple of days so I’m open to any restaurant recommendations y’all might have.
I’ve decided to try something different on this marathon. While I always wear a watch, I’ve never tried to instrument myself “real-time” for the race. Until recently, I’ve been using a Garmin 305, but it broke this summer when I was in Europe and I switched to RunKeeper on my iPhone.
I’ve really enjoyed RunKeeper and even started listening to music on some of my runs again since I had my iPhone with me. I signed up for RunKeeper Live and have been broadcasting my runs publicly to anyone who cared, which is primarily Amy.
The marathon starts at 7:30am Central Time on Saturday. I’ll be broadcasting my progress on this link – you should be able to pick it up after I start the race. Since I’ve always been running, I’m not 100% sure how the UI works on the “watching someone” end of things, but would love to hear feedback from anyone who takes a look. Oh – and cheer me on!
I’ll be wearing my Fitbit also (which I love – and am an investor in). It’s fascinating to me the step variance on the different marathons I’ve done – my stride length clearly varies with the shape I’m in and the shape (or hilliness) of the course. I’ll also check and see which is more accurate over 26.2 miles – the Fitbit or RunKeeper.
I might wear my new Nike+ SportWatch GPS, but so far the Nike+ website has been basically unusable due to performance issues so I don’t want to count on it.
Bismarck – see you tomorrow.
Confidence restored. After a shitty marathon #16 in Cincinnati a month ago (5:24) I cranked out marathon #17 in Madison in 4:47:27. I dedicate this particular effort to my co-runner TA McCann and my sherpas Amy Batchelor and Jessica Schallock.
For the first 20 miles the weather was perfect. Cloudy and 60-ish. TA lived in Madison for several summers in college when he was a mega-swimming stud so he kept me entertained with tails of training for five hours a day, every day, in a pool, over and over again – which made running a marathon seem relatively straightforward.
The first five miles were beautiful as we ran through the Arboretum. It’s a great way to start a city race – quiet, mellow, and loads of oxygen everywhere. There were only 1600 marathoners to they spread out quickly and TA and I felt like we were on a nice long run with water stops every mile or two. We went through the half at 2:20 and it occurred to me that we were halfway done and I was feeling better than most other marathons. I didn’t really notice our time again until when I looked at my watch at 3:12. By 20 miles it was pretty clear that we had 5 hours beaten and 4:45 was in striking distance.
The rain started at mile 20. So did the bicycles – there was a long stretch along Lake Monona on a running / bike path which was the only frustrating part of the race. Usually during a marathon the running / bike paths are closed to cyclists; this time they weren’t. And the rain just made it a total mess. So for about three miles we just hammered on, cold, wet, and mildly annoyed by the bikes.
At about mile 23 the 4:45 pace guy passed us once and for all. Now we were on the hunt for 4:50 which ended up being no problem. As we ran the last mile up a nasty hill to the Capitol we were both out of gas, but the end was in sight so like every good marathoner we just ground it out.
I’m now confident that I can do a marathon every four weeks. I wonder if I can do one every other week.
This morning, as I cranked through my 5am – 7am routine (which ends at 6am today because I have to leave the house at 630am to get to CU Boulder to give a keynote at the 2011 Boulder Economic Summit) I kept thinking to myself “deep breath.” If you do yoga you know exactly what I’m talking about – it’s part of Amy’s mantra for each of us to relax, slow down, and concentrate.
I’m in a particularly intense work phase that I expect will run through the end of June based on a few things that are going on that will happen between now and then. On top of it, I’m trying to run two marathons in May (Cincinnati, which I did already – and it sucked, and Madison, which is coming up at the end of the month.) Between all the work and travel, I’d probably already be pretty tired, but layer the running and the marathons on top of it and I’m physically exhausted.
While I contemplated punting on the second marathon, there are a few things driving me to do it, including really understanding my own recovery dynamics. I have a hypothesis about how I recover from a marathon (quickly) but I haven’t tested it. By adding a second marathon on top of everything else within 30 days, I’m suddenly learning some new stuff about rest, sleep, and weight. I’m also experiencing an interesting emotional spectrum that I haven’t experienced in a while (some good, some not good) that is clearly a function of the intersection of my physical activity and my work activity.
What popped out this morning is the need for more “deep breaths.” With my normal work / life rhythm, I get these on the weekend and then once a quarter when I go off the grid for a week. But given the daily work intensity combined with the physical fatigue, it’s become very obvious that I need something different during the week to sustain things at this level. Last night I blew off a dinner with a friend to just go home and lie on the couch with Amy all evening. That helped, although I spent almost all of it with an iPad in my lap sort of watching The Hangover, sort of catching up on email, and working on a few things that I knew I couldn’t jam into today.
Tonight, Amy and I have dinner alone. I’m going to shut off completely for a few hours and reflect on what I’m going through and learning about recovery. Fortunately I have a partner who puts up with this and lets me use myself as my own laboratory for these experiments.
I’ve now put together eight great weeks of running in a row. On Sunday, I finally had a long run to town (from Eldorado Springs to Boulder). This has been a long tradition of mine and Amy’s – I run to town early in the morning and she drives in later, we have brunch with friends, and then get massages in the afternoons. I also use this as a marker to measure my running – once I cross the “run to town barrier” I can start thinking about marathons.
2010 sucked for me. I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans and was optimistic about the year but then hurt my back in March lifting a box when in Dallas for my dad’s birthday. It was a perplexing injury – it seemed to get better but then I re-injured myself a month later and spent then next 60 days having trouble standing up. I thought I’d rest and work through it during July when I was in Alaska but that didn’t work out either. After an MRI and some vicodin, I ruled out the really bad stuff and then relaxed enough to get a massive self-adjustment in September which seemed to fix the problem. I’ve been pain free since then.
So I’m optimistic about 2011. Following is my current schedule:
- April 3 – Knoxville, TN – Covenant Health Marathon
- May 1 – Cincinnati, OH – Flying Pig Marathon
- May 29 – Madison, WI – Madison Marathon
- Sept 18 – Bismarck, ND – Kroll’s Diner Bismarck Marathon
- Oct 23 – St. Louis, MO – Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis Marathon
I don’t have any particular time goals, although I’d optimally be in the 4:00 to 4:30 range as 5+ hours for a marathon is a long time and I’m getting tired of being slow. If I can drop another 20 pounds I’m confident I can comfortably run in that zone.
If you are a runner and want to tag along on any of these, feel free to reach out to me. While I like to train alone, I always enjoy having marathon weekends with other folks, even if we are doing them at very different paces.
Fred Wilson emailed me a link to Dennis Crowley’s post I’m running the NYC Marathon tomorrow! Fred knows my obsession with human instrumentation, marathons, and social media. And if you recognize Dennis’ name, that’s because he’s the founder / CEO of Foursquare.
As I write this from my house in Eldorado Springs, Colorado, I can see that Dennis is at mile 4.64 of the NYC Marathon via RunKeeper. He just checked in at mile 5 on Foursquare. And yes, Twitter and Facebook are active also.
While some people may not like this future, I love it. Yeah, it’s kind of a pain to carry a bulky iPhone around on a marathon, but there are armbands for that and – in a decade – it’ll just be a thing you inject into your arm under the skin. But for now, guys like Dennis are helping us create the future.
Oh – and he’s running a marathon. He’s now at mile 5.64. Way to go Dennis!
I had my first pain free run in five months. And I’m very happy right now.
In March, I hurt my back. This was my first real running injury since I started running marathons in 2003. I’ve had some ankle twists and some knee bruises from all the trail running I do, but nothing that kept me off my feet for more than a month. This time I lost five months ; the last time I tried to run was two months ago.
I didn’t get serious about figuring out what was going on until half way through July in Alaska when I realized I just wasn’t getting better. My pain on a daily basis never got below a three (on a 0 to 10 scale) and I often was in the six to eight range. If you saw we get up out of a seat in the last five months, you knew I had a lower back injury. The pain gradually settled at the very base of my spin in the middle of back – it was localized, but sharp and chronic.
So I stopped running completely, increased the amount I was swimming up to a couple of times a week, and started the process of getting professional help. My first big goal was to rule out something serious, so I decided to get an MRI. That took a while (doctor visit, referral, scheduling). I had two different doctors read the MRI – each told me that there was an issue, but there was no need for surgery and steroid injections would likely be useless. So, I started the “sign up for physical therapy process.”
In the mean time, my general practitioner gave me a prescription for vicodin. I’m very afraid of drugs and have always avoided them. I don’t remember if it was a movie I saw about drugs in elementary school (I saw movies on sex but never was afraid of it), my parents, or something else but they’ve just never been my thing. I am a Vitamin I users and I used it for a while to try to manage my chronic gout, but eventually gave up and went on Allopurinol. I’ve had other prescription medicines over the year, but I’ve stayed away from anything illegal, even our friendly herb which is basically legal in Boulder. So the idea of taking a narcotic sort of freaked me out.
I was in so much pain after the US Open (and sitting on the stadium seats for two days) that I went ahead and took one pill. The bottle said I could take four a day, so I figured one a day would help without being dangerous. Amy and I flew from New York to San Diego and I took a second one. On Friday I flew to San Francisco for the day and took a third one. When I woke up on Saturday morning I was pain free for the first time in five months. So I decided not to take another one on Saturday.
On Sunday when I was sitting at my computer I started to stand up and had an extremely loud “pop” happen exactly in the region where the pain has been. Amy heard it from across the room and immediately shouted out “are you ok.” My back then went into a spasm – something that’s only happened a few times – and for about ten seconds I couldn’t talk or breath. But, when it stopped, I still had no pain.
I flew back to Boulder Monday morning. I decided not to take any more vicodin until I had at least a pain level of three again. As the week passed, the pain didn’t reappear. On Wednesday I saw a spine specialist who works with athletes as part of the PT referral process. I spent 30 minutes telling him the story from beginning to end and then we went and looked at the MRI together. He again confirmed that surgery was unnecessary and – more importantly – that the MRI showed a few clear signs of distress that would explain the chronic pain, but that steroid injections would be useless. We did a few diagnostic things and then he gave me his hypothesis.
He suggested that it’s likely that the small amount of vicodin I took broke the pain cycle I had been stuck in. Once the pain was gone, my body was able to move in certain ways that resulted in a natural adjustment (the big pop) of an area of my back that was stuck. Having it adjust naturally was much more effective than if I’d gone to a chiropractor. It had never occurred to me that this would happen, but when I think about the number of times my back adjusts in other spots when it gets out of whack this made perfect sense to me.
I’ve now had a week of no back pain. I haven’t taken anything – not even Vitamin I – in a week. I went for a few swims this week and a short run today. I feel great.
For everyone out there that has been patient with me, offered suggestions, and provided help over the past five months, thank you. Who knows whether this really solved the problem or not but this is the first time in a while that I’ve been optimistic about it.