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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Old Friends and The Intensity Of An Ultramarathon

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I’ve run one ultramarathon – the American River 50 Mile Endurance race. It seriously fucked me up for a while.

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!

Finding Traction

Comments (16)

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!

Doing A 50 Mile Race For The First Time

Comments (29)

Doing something for the first time is always fascinating for me. In an hour I’ll be starting the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run which will be the first ultramarathon I’ve ever run. Assuming that RunKeeper and my iPhone works (with it’s special magic Mophie juice pack), you can track me live on my RunKeeper account. I also imagine my wife Amy will be tweeting things out during the day.

While I’ve done 21 marathons, there’s a big difference between 26.2 miles and 50 miles. I’ve spent the last three months studying it, training for it, and thinking about it. Today I get to experience it. It started out with a simple question. My friend Katherine McIntyre (my partner Ryan’s wife) says it best in her post “Crazytown.”

So, at the end of August I sent a link to the American River 50 mile run to my marathon-running friend Brad, with the subject line “Crazytown?” and asked if he had any interest in doing that race.  Within 48 hours he signed on to do it with me.  Gulp.  Ah, the danger of hanging out with people who have the same willingness to dive into an unknown and quite large challenge.  So, I was committed.

I didn’t really start thinking about it until January, when I also went “gulp” and decided it was time to get serious about training. There’s no way I could have done it without the help of my coach Gary Ditsch and the support of Amy, who put up with about 50% more running than usual, including about six weekends that were basically all about running.

While we were in Hawaii, Amy and I decided that it’d be too much for her to come sherpa. She’s still struggling with a broken wrist and she didn’t want to add anything else to what I had to do or think about. It was a tough decision because I love it when she’s with me on these marathon (and now ultra marathon) weekends. But due to the magic of technology, she’s close by and I’m thinking of her a lot.

My amazing assistant Kelly Collins (who is also a runner) offered to run the last ten miles with me so she’s here with us. I know it’s going to be great to have a friend who knows me well help me through the last 20%. At dinner last night with Katherine, Ryan, and their son we all acknowledged how special an experience this is and how much we appreciate all being here together. And, as I sit here eating a bagel with peanut butter on it and hoping the coffee I’m drinking does it’s special magic trick in the next ten minutes, I’m deeply appreciative of all the help and support I’ve gotten from my partners, friends, and people I don’t know directly but have an online relationship with who have been helpful along the way.

Thanks to everyone who has provided any sort of support – especially emotional – during this journey. I’m looking forward to the experience of the next 12 hours. See you on the other side.

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