Happy Birthday Chris!

I joined Chris for a birthday tradition this past Sunday – each year he runs his age! He turned 38 and I planned to do the whole thing with him. The furthest I’ve ever run is 50K, so I was a bit nervous, but excited at the same time. The course he laid out looked beautiful, hitting some of my favorite spots in San Francisco, heading over the Golden Gate Bridge, and doing some trails in Marin. I went out and bought my first Camelbak a couple days before, figured out how to use it, and wore it around the house on Saturday. Yup, I’m a real bad ass now!

We started at 5AM, which may be the earliest I’ve ever started a run. It was a beautiful morning and a great run with good friends and good conversation. The Camelbak rode pretty well on my back and didn’t cause me any discomfort. After we crossed the bridge I started to tire, but I really loved the section of trail in the Headlands and running through the fog. By the time we turned around, I had slowed down quite a bit and felt like I was holding the group back. I made it back across the bridge and called it at 28 miles. As I told Chris, you’ll always be 28 to me…

[But next year, I hope to do the whole thing with him]

I went home, took a quick shower, then joined the group for some victory coffee at Peets. Our cool finisher photo is below. Brian and Chris (on the left) did the whole 38. I started out with them and Casey finished the run. Even though I didn’t make it the whole way, it was a very cool way to spend my morning!

birthdayrun4chris

To BQ, or not to BQ, that was never the question

I suppose a lot of runners think about Boston, but most of them are much faster than I am. I’ve thought about it too, but in an abstract kind of way. It’s like thinking about being the President or launching a wildly successful startup. Cool if it happens, but don’t hold your breath.

2014 Boston Marathon

Things changed for me shortly after the Mountains 2 Beach Marathon. My goal for that race was to break 3:30. That seemed like a stretch goal, but one that was achievable: the perfect kind of goal. I did far better than I expected, coming in 2.5 minutes ahead of target. I was tired, but thrilled with my time.

That’s when the problems began. You see, as I get older, those Boston guys expect less and less from me. I checked out the official rules, and sure enough, your qualifying time is based on your age on Boston Marathon day, not your age when you run the qualifying race. Hmmm, perhaps this year was my opportunity to “sneak” into Boston… All I need to do was shave another 2.5 minutes off that PR.

Which brings us to the Santa Rosa Marathon. That’s right, last weekend I qualified for Boston! Or didn’t…

Boston does a rolling admission process, so I actually wanted to run a 3:20, not a 3:25. Given the interest in Boston for next year, that seemed like the best way to guarantee a spot.

Without further ado, here are the gory details from last weekend:

I started out with the 3:15 pace group. That lasted for 8 miles. By mile 10 I was one minute behind and had given up all hope [of catching them]. Halfway mark was 1:40:35. Maybe I could pick it up a bit at the end? Around mile 15, the 3:25 pace group caught up to me. It should be easy enough to just stick with them, right? Not a chance…

Guess what? Qualifying for Boston is hard at ANY age. I was pretty disappointed last Sunday, but in a way I’m glad I didn’t make it. I mean, if I had actually qualified the first time I really tried what life lessons would I learn?

Having said that, I’m far happier with my 3:38:03 than I would have been with 3:25:03. That would have been a HUGE life lesson.

Cheers,

Larry

do things that don’t scale

Sweat Tracker started offering training plans to our beta testers on 8/5. After several weeks, one of them casually mentioned how much they were enjoying the program, but noted that we couldn’t possibly provide this level of attention to the whole world.

First, let me say thank you for the compliment!

And second, let me point to this recent blog post by Paul Graham:
http://paulgraham.com/ds.html

A key excerpt is:

You should take extraordinary measures not just to acquire users, but also to make them happy. […] Your first users should feel that signing up with you was one of the best choices they ever made. And you in turn should be racking your brains to think of new ways to delight them.

It seems that we are doing exactly what we should be doing 🙂

We love, love, love our beta testers! They are so dedicated and supportive and they are adding so much value to the final product.

The training plan offering is the most rewarding thing that I have done since starting this venture. I love getting special requests, tweaking training plans, and reading the details of everyone’s daily run! I feel very connected to this group and I want everyone to succeed at their goals.

As a company, we are learning how the plans work, how they should work, and how the people who use them work too. For such a small sample size, we are seeing a wide range of communication styles and we are fine tuning the product to accommodate the specific needs of our users.

Keep training!

Quest 4 Seven

Seven Continents


I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a marathon on all seven continents for a while now. My research brought up several questions. Are there seven continents? Maybe. Does a marathon count if it is on an island? Maybe.

I’m an old guy and I was taught geography in the US, so I think that there are seven continents. That one was pretty easy to decide. The other question was slightly more difficult, but I’ve decided to be literal in my definition of a continent. That means I’m not going to run a marathon on King George Island or New Zealand. That’s really just to be safe. I think that they are both lovely places and I may run the Antarctica Marathon after I complete my quest. The trip looks fantastic!

So the Quest 4 Seven is officially on! The starting point will be Marathónas, Greece in November 2013. That seems like a logical choice. I’ll do another post later with more details on the race. Other marathons I’m considering are:

Europe: Athens Classic
Asia: Great Wall
Africa: Big Five or Kilimanjaro
Australia: Australian Outback
Antarctica: Ice Marathon
South America: Rio, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Inca Trail (but it’s too long)
North America: Big Sur?

And the North Pole Marathon looks interesting too, but I’ll save that one until the Quest 4 Seven is complete.

Feel free to make recommendations for races or join me in the quest.

Cheers,

Larry Rich
Chief Runner

Founder Institute

The Founder Institute is an early-stage startup accelerator and global launch network that helps entrepreneurs create meaningful and enduring technology companies. The four month program provides the foundation required for startups to be successful.

fi_grad_image

Applicants complete a 60 minute predictive admission test to see if they have what it takes to succeed as entrepreneur. Scores on the admission test are kept secret, but they are supposed to correlate very closely to the final rating in the program.

I attended the Silicon Valley Spring 2013 sessions of FI and graduated on July 9th. The experience was very challenging but incredibly worthwhile. Sessions are held once a week and have three main components:

1) Pitch your idea to mentors and get feedback and a rating
2) Listen to presentations by mentors on the topic of the week
3) Network and get more detailed feedback at the bar after class

Between sessions founders spend a significant amount of time on homework assignments. Most of the homework consists of things that you need to do to build your company, so it is time well spent. Founders are assigned to a working group that meets twice a week to provide support on the homework and any issues specific to their company.

To graduate, founders must pass two critical mentor reviews and incorporate a company. Some find that they are not ready to succeed and drop out voluntarily (with the option to come back to a future session at no cost). Others are asked to leave. Our class had 16 graduates out of an initial class of 42. That’s a pretty typical success rate for the program. Here is our graduation photo:

graduation

Our class plans to stay in touch after graduation to provide support for the many challenges ahead. We’ll meet as a group once a month and will be in touch individually more frequently than that. Each graduating class participates in a bonus pool which provides a financial incentive for the founders and mentors involved in the class to help graduates succeed.

FI Formula: Great People + Expert Training + Aligned Incentives = Exponentially Better Chance of Success

Sound interesting? Find out more at http://fi.co

Ragnar Relay – Sweat Tracker Style

It’s been a while since I did a relay. And I love a challenge. So when I looked at Ragnar Napa Valley, I immediately found the ultra appealing. When a friend asked about it I started strategizing about who we could get involved. Then I looked at the legs and realized that this will be a tough one. So I’m throwing out the challenge – who wants to do a Ragnar Sweat Tracker Style?ragnar-napaThere are a couple of options for how to break up the legs, but the one that makes the most sense to me is for each runner to do two legs back to back.

The breakdown would be as follows:

Runner 1: 10.7 miles, 10.4 miles, 11.5 miles
Runner 2: 11.1 miles, 14.6 miles, 6.6 miles
Runner 3: 7 miles, 17.2 miles, 8.8 miles
Runner 4: 9.1 miles, 10.9 miles, 5.1 miles
Runner 5: 11 miles, 12.6 miles, 15.9 miles
Runner 6: 12.5 miles, 13.2 miles, 10.4 miles

The dates are 9/20 and 9/21. Hit me up if you want to have some fun!

Cheers,

Larry Rich
Chief Runner

Summer Race Series

The Sweat Tracker staff love to run and we love it even more when our friends are involved. That’s why we created an unofficial race series. These are the races that we plan to do over the next few months. Check them out, check your schedule, and sign up for at least a few of them. We’ll see you on the course!

6/29, 9:00AM: Pride Run – 5K or 10K
This is a must do race and we’ve done it for as many years as we can remember.
http://www.sffr.org/page/show/477908-pride-run

7/13, 6:15PM, Davis Moonlight Race – 5K, 10K, or half marathon
We did this one last year and it was fun. I was going to ask for a coupon code, but it’s only $50 for the half marathon (i.e. practically free). If there’s enough interest, we’ll get a van and drive up together.
http://changeofpace.com/davis-moonlight-race/

8/4, 7:00AM: Giant Race – 5K, 10K, or half marathon
Haven’t missed this one yet. We love the course and the finish on the field. The 10K is sold out, but the other distances are still available.
http://www.race-sfgiants.com/

8/25, 7:00AM: Santa Rosa Marathon – also a 5K and a half
This is a flat (redesigned) course with only 236 feet of total elevation gain and an average finish time of 3:58 (typical is about 4:30). It’s a small pack, looks like a beautiful course, and you get to run through a working wine cellar. What more could you ask for?
http://www.thesantarosamarathon.com/
(use coupon code “sweattracker” at checkout to get $10 off; a limited supply of codes have been issued but you can email us if they run out and we’ll try to get more)

9/15, 7:00AM: Clo-Cow Half Marathon & 5K
The finisher’s medal is a cow bell and the course looks challenging but beautiful. I know, I know, we had you at cow bell.
http://www.clocowhalf.com

If anyone wants Sweat Tracker gear, contact us and we’ll get you some. We have technical t-shirts and tanks in three colors. If you wear your shirt to one of these races and let us know in advance that you’re running, we’ll make sure that you get at least one race photo to share online.

One other race to watch for – the Big Gay 10K. This is a fun event that we did last year. The date hasn’t been announced, but it will probably be 9/14 if they have it this year.

Evan Williams

I was listening to some old episodes of This Week in Startups today. There’s a lot of interesting stuff there. But one thing really stood out for me. Evan Williams was asked:

What is it that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur matters? What matters for the young entrepreneurs here who are starting?

His response:

Do something that you really want to exist in the world. Focus on it entirely. Something good will probably come of it.

3:27:29

I miss running marathons for the fun of it. I typically have a goal now and there is advance planning involved. I spend more time checking my watch than enjoying the beauty of the course. Having said that, I am PSYCHED that I broke through the 3:30 mark. I’m still not even close to qualifying for Boston, but this was a huge personal accomplishment!

And that’s why we all run, right?

I set my previous PR in 2012 at Ojai 2 Ocean. Ojai is a trendy little town in the mountains inland from Ventura. The course starts out with a 10K loop that has some hills, then descends along a bike path for about 14 miles to Ventura, then has 6 flat miles along the coast to finish. The elevation profile looks like this:

Mountains 2 Beach Elevation

I did a 3:38:50 last year and my goal was to break 3:30 this year. I wasn’t sure if that was possible. On the positive side, I’ve been working with a coach for the past 7 weeks. On the negative side, I hadn’t run a marathon since 11/11/2012.

I looked at my splits from last year and put together a little race packet to share with my buddy Benny so that we could strategize. The basic plan was to try to keep the average pace close to 8:00 for the first loop, then do some sub 8:00s for the downhill portion to bank some time, then slow down at the end (I always do, might as well plan for it) and hit 3:30 at the end. Pretty simple.

Before we get into all the details on the masterful execution of this plan, here’s a shot of Benny and I at the expo the day before.

Mountains 2 Beach Expo

Before I forget: Ojai 2 Ocean is now Mountains 2 Beach. I’m sure there is some drama somewhere in the name change, but not really sure what it is. In any event, it is the same course, same organizer, etc.

Benny and I showed up bright and early. Ready to run that PR! But there was a porta potty crisis (for the race, not us) and we wound up starting 8 minutes late. We were undeterred.

The first few miles flew by. Then there was the dreaded uphill bit and a walk break at mile 5. We continued on. Elapsed time at 6.2 miles: 50:03. Only 27 seconds slower than an 8:00 pace.

We descended along the bike path into the Ventura River Basin. The first part of the course was pretty, but heading down into the valley was beautiful. At one point Benny remarked that the view was a 6 on a scale from 1 to 5. I agreed and looked back at my watch 🙂 Our fastest mile in the downhill segment was a 7:22. The slowest (and only one over 8:00) was an 8:10 for mile 16. That’s because we took a walk break just after we passed mile 15.

Somewhere between mile 16 and 17, Benny and I had our Titanic moment and I continued on alone.

The last 6 were tough. They always are. I had almost a 3 minute buffer to keep me under 3:30. I only wound up using a bit of it. My final splits were 8:12, 8:07, 8:12, 8:24, 8:07, and 7:52, followed by a crazy sprint at the very end. Coach Lori said those were “fast man real runner splits.” High praise!

So everything went according to plan, as crazy as that sounds. Here’s a photo of me looking happy after it was over.

Mountains 2 Beach PR

I had an amazing support crew out there. I think Tucker is my number one fan, always. Jerico, Scott, and my parents are not far behind. Thanks for all your support and encouragement leading up to the race and on race day. Benny got me through the first 16 and reminded me to check out the view every once in a while. Thanks for that. I’m going to run the next race and just enjoy the views! Well, maybe…

To summarize: Beautiful course. Fast course. Small, well organized race. Great support. And a big PR!