Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Share the Gift of Running

By now, you've got all your holiday shopping done, and have poured through countless runner holiday buyer's guides. Yes, a lot to drool over, but after shoes and perhaps a Garmin, what else do we really need? I have something you can add to your list before the end of the year that does not cost anything, but provides the greatest reward you might give and get this coming year.

This last year (and a half for that matter) has been the most challenging time in my time as a runner, but nothing compared to what my new friend Liam has gone through. I met Liam through I Run 4 Michael. I had noticed a couple of my online runner friends (including Michael Scott from Run Nerds Rock) were posting their runs on twitter and Instagram and were tagging and sending out positive messages to a special online friend.

I was curious about I Run 4 Michael and discovered that they "match up" runners with (primarily) kids (and some adults) with special needs. Safe to say that these "buddies" cannot enjoy the gift of running like many of us. For them, it allows them to live vicariously through runners as we post our daily training and perhaps triumphs in races. The organization asks for very little; perhaps 2-3 posts a week tagging the parents on Facebook.

In the case of my running buddy Liam, he can't read the posts as he is blind. His mother Joan reads them to him. She (politely) reminds me to try include other senses as he can't see the photos. I try and be descriptive and even wrote a race report this summer (Road to Redemption: Through Liam's Eyes.) She (and Liam) ask for little, and I get so much more than they can imagine in return. Liam has truly become my "buddy."
Liam was born in Naples Italy while his parents were both active duty Navy. He has three older brothers. Ken age 30 works for the state as an analyst. Colin age 27 in the US Marine Corps. Myles age 27 in the Navy. Liam was born with hydrocephalus, which is "water on the brain." He was 10 pounds 10 ounces at birth, and was immediately flown back to the US for treatment. Liam had his first shunt surgery at day 3 of his life at Walter Reed Hospital.

Due to complications and ongoing medical treatments, the family eventually relocated to San Diego, CA. Liam does not get to experience the thrill of running or racing as he's confined to a wheelchair. He also battles cerebral palsy. From November 1998 through August 2000 Liam had four major brain infections and over 124 brain surgeries. In other words, he has had more surgeries than I've had races (I'm approaching 100.)

Despite all these life challenges, you will never find a kid more full of life. He loves music, Cheerios, and loves being in the water with assistance from his Dad, Fabian. His mom tells me, "He can strum a ukulele and slam some sound out of a snare drum too!" After my triathlon accident in 2014, I returned to the same race to exorcise some demons and gain some redemption. I was not really ready to race (this July) as I was dealing with my own setbacks but Liam provided the motivation to not just finish, but podium.

I have not met Liam in person yet, but plan to soon. I mention the above race as I sent my medal along with my sister on her visit to San Diego earlier this year to give it to Liam. It was some serious "bling" but it would merely collect dust in my office. It was special to me to let Liam (and his mom) to share the victory (shown in the YouTube video above.)  He's often seen with something in his mouth.  His "binkie" is always in his mouth or hanging out nearby. I was excited to see him put the medal immediately in his mouth, but was worried about the dental bill if he chomped too hard into it!

Getting back to the "gift," enjoy all the run gear you might get this holiday season, but I'd highly recommend checking out "I Run 4 Michael" as it's the best running gift I ever got. Tim Boyle (founder) posted last week that they are lacking runners to match up with buddies. I told Tim, I'd spread the word. Match up with a buddy HERE.

Tim Boyle started I Run 4 Michael after getting inspired to run for more than health and weight-loss by a viral meme saying, “I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can’t run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them.” When Tim shared the meme, Michael, a 50-something man with Down Syndrome, replied, “You can run for me any time!”

Launched as a private group of 10 runners and buddies with special needs (20 total) who shared workouts and health updates in a private setting, IR4 rapidly grew to over 22,000 members and nearly 7,000 matches, with 3,500 athletes waiting, within 18 months.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Meme Monday: Ho, Ho, Ho and Mistletoe

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ho, Ho, Ho, Head-to-Toe Holiday Giveaway

Ho, Ho, Ho, it's a holiday giveaway head-to-toe!

Every blogger and their wannabe blogger friends have a runner gift guide. I've had mine in the past and even mixed it up last year with a parody ("Rudolph's Island of Misfit Running Toy's" buyers guide. Who can forget the "Lee Nails Black Toenail Cover-up Kit!" I figured, what's better than a guide about a bunch of expensive running toys? Giving away a bunch of running gifts!

One of the most popular giveaways I've ever hosted was from Soybu. I didn't get paid to host the promotion...they fall in the category of vendors and partners I've got to know that I love talking about. They're the un-pretentious yoga and fitness apparel company, they're local (Colorado!,) and they have a deep product line that includes men's fitness apparel. Sign me up. Love these peeps.

The prize behind door number one is ANY item on their website. Yes, you heard that right...not a pair of socks or a hair scrunchie (is that how you spell that fantastic hair thingie?)...ANY item on their web site. No, you can't combine items, but you can pick up to over $110 in value in a single item so pick wisely.

The item behind door number two is one of the most innovative products I tested this year. Yes, like Soybu, I didn't get paid, but did receive their product for testing. This is for all those early morning risers that don't like the mining helmet apparatus on their "noggin." Not to be confused with Egg-Noggin...I like that too. I just had a scent flashback to my Grandpa Lyle with his red Christmas sweater with a strong scent of Old Spice sipping on his whiskey infused Eggnog. I digress.

Nightrunner 270 puts the lights where the action is; on your feet! I don't know about you, but I get a bit dizzy aiming my head at my feet trying to avoid rocks and sidewalk lips. These bad boys light up your shoes and everything (you guessed it) within 270 degrees of your wheels. They even have tail-lights. A $59.99 value and added peace-of-mind that you're increasing your safety out there.
Door number three? You were not content with the paper-backed stickers so we upgraded the logo and went vinyl. Inspired by my "Never Give Up" cap from GSF.Org, we now have SBM Trucker Caps. Want to get to Boston, and want a daily reminder of your quest, this Yupoong technical trucker cap with embroidered unicorn logo is yours.

The first "batch" off the production line were a bit spendy, so the $50 cap is yours should you be selected! This holiday potpourri rivals Buddy the Elf's sugar-infused spaghetti breakfast! Good luck and thanks to Soybu and Nightrunner 270 for the generous gifts. #hohohoholiday #giveaway

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(SeekingBostonMarathon did not recieve any monetary compensation for this giveaway, but did receive product for review.)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Anna-Nicole's Christmas List

I have a number of passions; running, writing about running, "tapping" my creative side, my family, and the holidays.  When I retire from my day job (not any time soon,) I dream about spending time on all of these.  With my favorite holiday (Christmas) right around the corner, I thought I'd share my unpublished Children's book; "Anna-Nicole's Christmas List."  I wrote and illustrated this in 2001 and hand-bound a copy for her for Christmas that year.  I also had her narrate the book at that time which has become a priceless treasure to bring out the book each year and listen to the audio version. I found old audio and digitally remastered it for Christmas 2015.

I thought it was too precious not to share.  Enjoy.

Anna-Nicole was six at the time she recorded this, and is now a Jr. at Colorado State University. It's ironic that the book references running. "I want some new tennis shoes," exclaimed, Anna-Nicole. I was a mere two years into my new addiction when I wrote the book and five years away from reading a book about this crazy concept called a "marathon."  I no longer refer to them as "tennis shoes," but didn't know any better at the time. She also talked about wanting to go to Hawaii and on a safari to Africa...ironically, she's now done both.

If this doesn't melt your heart, you should check for a pulse.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Did Twitter Turn into Jr. High?

Has twitter become a Jr. High School cafeteria? I'm trying to understand; peoples motivation for having a twitter account to start with, who they follow, and some of the "games" people play in this space.

I am not a social media expert, but I did speak at the Fitbloggin' conference earlier this year (and didn't stay in a Holiday Inn last night) on building blog readership through social media. I am not a social media "titan" like Katy Widrick (she also spoke) who does this for a "day job," but I have learned a few things along the way, and a few things that really bug me. There are common themes
and "best practices" (including follow ratios) across the most common social media platforms; Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter (throw in Periscope and Google+) but today I'm focused on the "so Jr. High" follow and unfollow "game" and perplexing world of who follows who in the "twitterverse." (Same concepts apply to the above mentioned platforms.)

For starters, if you haven't figured it out, my blog is about running and triathlons. If you tweet about running, and put an effort into it, I'm likely following you back. I have a number of social media channels that I use to promote my blog or get out the brief thoughts and rants that go through my "Willy Wonka" brain.

Before we get to the cafeteria, let's start with one basic ground rule; at least take the effort to load profile photo icon vs. the empty egg shape. #showsomeeffort

I like to think that I don't have an air of pretentiousness about who I follow or follow back, but I'll start with the snob.

The "Snob"

If your name is Bart, Meb, or Kara I'd understand if you don't follow a slow run blogger from Colorado like me. They get a million requests...I get it. They've earned the right to have an elite follower-to-follow ratio.  Having said that, Bart follows me and Meb and Kara have been known to at least favorite a tweet or two of mine (thank you!)

If your name is NOT Bart, Meb, or Kara, and we have similar interests (running!) let's connect! Don't pretend you're the aforementioned "run elite" when you're not. I ran into a well-known blogger at an event at this year's Boston Marathon. I was with my teenage son. I explained to him that I knew her, followed her, and have subsequently dropped her. She has wide success in the "bloggerverse" and "on paper" we should be friends like I am with other blogger heavyweights like Sharp Endurance. I met Linzie (Sharpie) briefly two years ago in the Boston Commons on 5k day, and we've followed each other since. That's how it's supposed to work! Dani from Weight Off My Shoulders is another one that comes to mind that knows how it works. Approachable, genuine, likeable; this might serve you well in life.

Back to the snob (I won't "out" her here.) She (like many of us,) has giveaways, which are intended to promote product and ultimately drive traffic and followers. Your entries to win are largely follow her on all her media channels with a slim chance of winning...and she won't follow you back. Help me understand what makes her think she's one of the Kardashians of the run "twitterverse." You have a good story, but you're not Beyonce. It's okay to engage in a dialogue or make a few friends. Enough said there.

Just to be clear...Bart, Meb, and Kara are not snobs here.

The Pretend We're Friends Friend

This month I had someone follow me on twitter and she met my criteria for following back (which starts with being in the world of fitness, nutrition, running, and triathlons.) I quickly followed back and promptly got her automated direct message to my twitter trying to engage me further to check out her page or book. Her numbers were low, but that's not part of my criteria (that would be the "Snob's" criteria.) All's good and she almost made my exclusive (not really) Friday Follow List. (now who's being the snob?) She promptly dropped me within 48 hours. This one bugs me more than the snob. Troll for followers, then promptly drop them. Perhaps my story of cancer scared her off? It seemed like a planned move and we've all seen it. In her case, she misspelled her own name in her twitter handle. Really?

Guido and "Girls, Girls, Girls!"

What part of my story on any social channel attracts the "Get Rich or Die Tryin" followers? This falls into my "I'm sorry, but not following you back" category.  Closely related to "guido" are the sites trolling for lonely guys looking for paid female attention. Yes, I appreciate that thing known as the human form, just as I would in a Renaissance painting; but, just because I'm a man does not mean I want to sexy Skype chat with you. Yes, I like nice cars, I love the female form (particularly my wife's,) and have been known to go to Vegas, but let's talk about running...please.

Gain Followers

Don't even bother. I know I can buy followers for a penny a piece, but I'm not interested. I'd rather grow organically. Most of you "Gain Followers" monkeys ironically have fewer followers than you are following. Perhaps the conflicting advertising message? The one shown here got extra creative using a Star Wars' "Death Star" as their profile picture with a serene snow scene as the cover page. WTF?

Gain Detergent

I admire the corporate marketing department that's trying to figure out social media, but I'm not sure what a car dealership in Boca Raton, Florida or a clothing detergent brand has to do with me.

Perhaps they think that runners are washing clothes all the time so "let's go after them" as the strategy. The profile above reeks of some over-aged (like me) marketing person trying to figure out twitter or "I hired the wrong intern" to drive my twitter campaign and it went awry. In this case, I will play my "snob card" and say, we just don't have enough in common, and you're really not putting a real effort into this so can we politely go our separate directions? Don't mean to be mean Oxydol, but "C'mon man!"

Faux Interest

The one below just baffles me. For starters, I don't think that's really Lopez. I smell stock photo. Yes, you sprinkle a few buzz words I'm interested in, but I don't even know what you're selling. You went out and made 801 friends, and 59 were polite or didn't know what they were clicking on and followed back.'re not really trying to entertain, educate, or engage (you also haven't tweeted in a month.) Show a little effort, huh? At least it's not the egg shape profile pic.

The Gold Follower

To end on a more positive, or perhaps less sarcastic note, occasionally, I get hit the "gold standard" and have elites (like Bart...thank you,) Runner's World (Thank you, thank you!,) and Brands that see something in my passion for the sport and decide to click and follow. Garmin is the latest. Yes, I do have some brand, sponsorship, and ambassador relationships. Yes, sometimes, I review products and promote them on my channels, but there's also brands I'm loyal to where I extol their value and expect nothing in return. A follow back from them was nice this last month. Thank you Garmin. Even if you promptly unfollowed me last week. You followed me for a few days anyway, it was nice while it lasted. I won't throw you into the "troll" category as you deserve some level of snobbery as a Tier 1 elite in "twitterland." I'll still follow and re-tweet your content.

About Me

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine