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On Sunday, 8/11 Amy and I had dinner at Brasserie 1010 with our long time friends Bill Ritchie and Andrea Barthello. We’ve known Bill and Andrea since the mid-1990s – we met through Young Entrepreneurs Organization. Bill and Andrea have a super cool company called Thinkfun (it used to be called “Binary Arts” – a name I really loved) and are a great example of a husband and wife entrepreneurial team. Bill and I spent many hours working on the early YEO web site, back before anyone had web sites, and the four of us enjoyed lots of time together at YEO events in unexpected places like Barbados.
I remember dinner at their house near DC many years ago with their son Sam. He was young – I can’t remember his ago – but somewhere between 5 and 9. We had a lot of fun, and I had a lot of hair. Somehow I ended up with the nickname “Scary Man” which stuck for a little while.
Over the years we lost touch. Bill and I would connect on something every now and then, like in 2011 when his brother Dennis Ritchie died. But we hadn’t seen each other in at least a decade.
You know that moment when you see someone you haven’t seen in a long time and your brain floods with serotonin. The smile you have almost rips a hole in your face, your heart rate rises 20 BPM, and you just want to jump up and down and do a happy dance? That’s how I felt when Bill and Andrea walked into Brasserie 1010.
And then there was Sam. He was genetically undeniably the product of his parents. 25-ish. Crazy smart, articulate, fun, and totally engaging. He pretended to remember me.
We had a blast. They were here a week early to acclimate to the altitude since Sam was going to run the Leadville Trial 100. Stud. We talked about a lot of different things, but kept coming back to Leadville. Sam works at Twitter so we talked about that a little, and then we were back to talking about Leadville. And ultras. He was clearly excited, a little anxious, and trying to get his head into it.
Dinner ended with big hugs. We went to my office and I got a Fitbit One for Sam as I wanted to see what happened when it crossed over 100,000 steps in one day (the most I’ve done is 97,000). I gave Sam a copy of Venture Deals, which Dick Costolo (Twitter’s CEO) wrote the forward to. We hung out with Pat Minotaur and just kept talking, not really wanting the evening to end. Eventually we sent them on their way back to the hotel.
Sam ran the Leadville 100 last weekend. I just read his amazing post on the experience of running – and surviving – the Leadville Trail 100. It is mind blowing. It’s no surprise that Sam is a spectacular writer, but his journey on this ultramarathon was pretty awesome. He literally “came back from the edge of death” halfway through to grind it out in 26:15:12.
If you want to hear an amazing story of perseverance, love long distance running stories, are fascinated with ultramarathons, wonder what Twitter engineers do in their spare time, or just want to revel in a great story, go read Sam Ritchie’s Leadville 100 post right now.
Oh – and the Fitbit worked perfectly – at 100,001 steps, that’s what the screen showed!
At 3:55pm yesterday I cried.
I was getting ready for a Google Hangout back to my office with my partners and I noticed something about an explosion at the Boston Marathon on twitter. I did a quick scan of Twitter, clicked through to a few links, and realized a bomb had gone off near the finish line.
I went blank – just stared at my computer screen – and then started crying. I called Amy – she hadn’t heard about it yet and told her what had happened. I collected myself and called in to my Hangout. My partners were all shaken also – Seth lived in Boston for many years, Ryan has done several marathons, and Jason just did his first marathon last year in Detroit.
During our Hangout I sent some emails out to friends in Boston. Four close friends were on the third floor of the building above the first explosion. They were ok – but shocked and very shaken up. Emails continued to flow with me checking in on people and people checking in on me since they knew I was a marathoner and on the east coast.
My emotion shifted from sadness, to a wave of being horrified, to temporary anger, back to a very deep sadness. At the NJ Tech Meetup, before I started talking I asked for a moment of silence to recognize the people who were at the Boston Marathon, especially those who were injured. I can’t remember exactly what I said – I just know that I teared up again before my talk.
On my way back to Manhattan, Amy and I talked. We were both incredibly sad. And lonely – she’s home and I’m in NY. She was supposed to go to Boston yesterday for a Wellesley board meeting – she decided not to go because of some stuff going on. She would have stayed at the Mandarin Oriental, just down the block from the explosion. It’s all too close for comfort.
Lying in bed, I couldn’t fall asleep. I tossed and turned until 1am. I kept thinking about being in NY on 9/11, about running the Boston Marathon, about the bike accident I had in September where a turn of the wheel a different direction would have meant lights out for me. It was some combination of PTSD, sadness, obsessions, and contemplation of mortality. I finally fell asleep.
This morning on my run with Reece Pacheco we talked about it a little more. I haven’t even begun to really process this. Brent Hill sent out a tweet to me and a bunch of friends to commit to running Boston in 2014. I’m in.
I just contributed to the Boston Tech Communities fundraiser for the Boston Marathon victims. All proceeds will be donated completely to programs working with victims of the attacks including Red Cross, Children’s Hospital, and others.
Ever since I did the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run I’ve been fascinated with ultramarathons. After struggling through the emotional fallout of the six weeks after the race, I decided that for now I’m sticking to marathons given my work schedule and general life tempo, but I’m still completely intrigued by them and the people who do them.
A few months I watched the movie Unbreakable: The Western States 100 - it gave me chills and was hugely inspiring. A few minutes ago I watched the trailer for Finding Traction.
Wow – this is going to be an amazing movie. Nikki Kimball totally blows me away.
If you are into this stuff, go support the Indiegogo campaign for Finding Traction and help the film become a reality!
Marathon #23 is complete. On Sunday, I finished the Detroit Marathon in 4:41:39. The two smiling faces next to me in the picture are Matt Shobe, who I’ve now done three marathons with, and my running coach Gary Ditsch. They ran with me in Detroit and it was super helpful to have them.
The most exciting thing for me about the Detroit Marathon was that my partner Jason Mendelson completed his first marathon! The whole notion of this is pretty awesome as Jason had major hip surgery eighteen months ago. It was brave of him to take on the training for this and powerful that he got it done.
We had a big party – Becky Cooper, Ryan McIntyre, and Jill Spruiel from Foundry Group also ran Detroit, as did Andrew Tschesnok of Organic Motion, my long time friend Warren Katz (this is his second marathon), and a few other friends.
The day was perfect for a marathon – sunny and cool. I had very low expectations for myself – my goal was simply to finish. I haven’t run much at all since my bike accident in Slovenia in early September and my ribs and left elbow still hurt a little. While I’d done a couple of 10 mile runs, I think I’d run a total of five times since I got back. So my goal was to rely on muscle memory and just get through 26.2 miles.
Matt, Gary, and I went out slow – doing a 2:26 pace for the first half. We were probably on a 2:30 pace through 10 but then picked it up a little after we got through the mile long tunnel that connects Canada and the US. One of the interesting features of the marathon is that miles 4 through 7 are in Windsor Canada – you head from Detroit to Canada over the Ambassador Bridge and then come back to Detroit via the tunnel between the two cities. As a bonus, I learned that South Detroit is actually Windsor, although my guess is that the people of Windsor refer to Detroit as North Windsor.
I turned my left ankle heading into the tunnel and was nervous for about a half a mile but it was fine. I was also claustrophobic in the tunnel – I really hate running in enclosed spaces for any length of time. But we started to cruise once we got back on America soil.
I did the second half in 2:15:13 – another solid negative split.We had been using an 8:2 run:walk pattern up to about 20 and then shifted to 9:1 for the balance. There was a point were I thought we had 4:39 in our sites but we just couldn’t quite make up enough time. But given that my goal was to finish, it was very satisfying to turn in another sub 4:45 marathon.
I had a blast in Detroit from Friday until I left on Tuesday. I spent all day Monday with entrepreneurs and the activity in the core of Detroit around the emerging Detroit Startup Community is really exciting. Look for a longer post on Startup Revolution from me in the next few days about my thoughts on what’s going on there.
If you see Jason this week, give him a high five for his amazing achievement.
When I started Retrofit last fall, I weighed 216. I’ve struggled for a decade to get below 210 – it would happen sometimes but I’d quickly end back up in the 210 – 220 range. I ran marathons so this was frustrating – I am a pescatarian and eat healthy, just too much.
I started Retrofit and within three months was down to 200. I’ve been between 195 and 200 for the past six months and have a clear understanding of how to be at 195 by simply cutting out a few things for a few weeks. My running has improved by a minute a mile, I’ve dropped from a 38 waist to a 36 waist (and could probably pull off a 34), and feel so much better.
If your have been struggling to lose weight for a long time, give Retrofit a try. It’s not a diet, it’s a complete and total reprogramming of the way you think about food. The founder Jeff Hyman is a long time friend (I was a seed investor in his first company in 1996) and is incredibly passionate about Retrofit and what he and his team is doing. I’m not an investor (it’s outside our themes), but I’m a huge supporter of Jeff and Retrofit – it’s been amazing for me as a customer.
Following is a short video that will start appearing on national TV in the next month. I’m honored to be part of it with David Cohen, the CEO of TechStars, who has lost over 30 pounds (and looks awesome) since starting Retrofit at about the same time as me.
While I feel like the guy on late night TV some times, this experience has been transformational. Seriously, take a look. I can’t rave enough about what Retrofit has done for me.