Thursday, May 17, 2012

My goals and vision...

So one of the very cool things I learned about Lululemon is their corporate vision. They are all about empowering and promoting (both in the company and for life) their employees and that even includes their ambassadors. I got to sit down with a life coach and put my thoughts to paper about what I see as my goals and vision for the future. I have to admit, I have  tons of goals but have never taken the time to put them on paper. Well, that changed with my "homework" of doing so after the session. I have LOTS more goals to include but this is kind of what bubbled to the top. I also thought I'd include the thoughts behind the goals.

1 year goal:
- I work in a new job that deals with sports or in the sports industry - June 2013
While I like my current job, my heart lies in the sports industry. I really think its my passion and where my energy is best spent.
- I am a paid motivation/leadership speaker -   November 2012
I constantly hear that I'm, or my story, is an inspiration. I love talking to people about the sports/active/healthy lifestyle and if I could help motivate people to get into it and realize the benefits, I think my life would have much more value

- I run my 1st Ultramarathon - July 2012
I have run all sorts of races in my life but Ironman and Ultramarathons seem like the "Mt. Everest" of races to do. I figure this year should be time for me to start climbing...
- I become a Bikram Yoga instructor - May 2013
I LOVE Bikram and on a few occasions have been approached about becoming an instructor. I think I'd be pretty good at it (see motivational speaker bullet)

- I visit the Coliseum in Rome - November 2013
At the risk of sounding silly, I have always thought I would've loved being a Roman Legionnaire and would've enjoyed living in Rome at the height of its success. The Coliseum represents that time to me and I have to see it and just stand at the epicenter of history
- I buy a smaller home and convert it to a completely "green/self sufficient" space - Dec 2013
I think most of us have homes that are bigger than we actually "need" and we'd all be better served to not only make them more efficient but actually give power BACK to the grid.

5 year goal: 
- I turn my one year lululemon ambassadorship into a full time gig - May 2013
I know that ambassadorships normally last a year and you continue to be part of the "family" but I'd love to make this a full time or long term job. I love the company and how they think, I love the running/yoga clothes for men and I'd LOVE to be a part of creating a cycling line
- I help open the 1st lululemon store in Paris - November 2013
So for me, this is a "multi-task'ed" goal. I love Paris (my mother is a Parisian after all), go there as often as possible, hope to continue to work inside the Lululemon company and help it expand and I need a push to re-hone my French speaking skills because I am out of practice.

- I completed my 1st Ironman Triathlon - November 2016
Like I said earlier, this race and Ultramarathons are "Everest" and I see my completion of an Ultra as a stepping stone to an Ironman. And...I HAVE to get over this fear I have about swimming...
- I will ride the L'Alpe d'Huez stage from the Tour de France - May 2014
This been one of my life long dreams. If you follow the Tour de France, you'd know that this is one of the "holy grail" stages: 21 famed switchbacks of a monumental climb. Tours have been won and lost on that climb. I desperately want to know what its like.

- My writing/artwork is used by company or published in a magazine or book - Oct 2015
I love to write and draw. Some of my work has been published in small scale but I can't even imagine what it would be like to see a book printed with my name on it or a piece of my artwork on something.
- I organize and manage a local 5k race - June 2014
I think based on all the lessons I've learned from racing, and my Army background in planning and execution as a leader, I would be a great race director. I think a 5k would be perfect for my first "foray" into being a race director and there are LOTS of causes out there that could use the event to raise money and awareness. I'd love to set up a series of races that benefit the Wounded Warrior Foundation.

10 year goal:
- I open/run a gym/studio that caters to training and supporting multisport athletes - Jun 2021
I love to train, I love multi-sports and I love promoting the pursuit of them in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle... seems like a no brainer to me.
- I have my own line of cycling clothes - July 2019
I think that current cycling gear is way too expensive and could be better. I'd love to put my cycling experience and program management skills into creating a line of multi-sport/racing cycling clothes we could all afford and enjoy.

- I'm a 3 time Ironman - October 2022
I mean who climbs "Everest" once?!
- I'm a "Badwater Ultramarathon" finisher - June 2019
If I get good at Ultras, then this is "the" one on everybody's list. Its all about testing myself!

- I own a 2nd residence in Toulouse France - June 2020
Remember when I said I'm French, love Paris and I'm a HUGE fan of the Tour de France? 'Nuff said.
- Every summer I travel to France to follow and ride along the Tour de France - July 2021
See bullet above 
My Vision for my life 10 years from now: A take on what my life will be like.

I wake up in my eco-friendly, self sustaining, “smart” home on the outskirts of a major city. I start my mornings in my “in home-multisport gym” surrounded by trophies that I’ve won racing and signed multi-sport memorabilia. A quick meal prepared by a rotation of healthy minded international chefs that stop by and cook for me and my day can begin. While I enjoy working from home, I love to work outof my office in my multi-sport gym. Giving and feeding off the positive energy from my friends and clients training there makes everyday a joy. The facility has bike trainer rooms, endless pools, cardio/weight equipment, an indoor track and a staffed food bar/kitchen. I’ve honed my chef skills and have been known to whip up a healthy French inspired meal or two for friends/clients during the day. My gym and home base have become a “mecca” in the local sport scene. I host a number of races and weekend training events throughout the year, invite well known athletes to conduct clinics and am always happy to help those just starting out or needing a push in order to get a positive attitude toward fitness, sport and a healthy lifestyle.

My year is spent focused on training and racing,from 5ks to ultramarathons. I July I fly off to Paris and then to my house in ToulouseFrance to follow the Tour de France and do the “pre stage” rides for the month.I’m excited to see pro’s in the peloton wearing my cycling clothing. Having helped with getting the first Lululemon store on the Champs-Elysees in Paris gives me a perfect excuse to drop in and see how the store is doing. While there I metfamily and friends, visit and catch up on the latest European trends and thelocal sports scene. After the Tour de France is over, I fly back to the states to continue my motivational speaking tour. Travel for that allows me to continue my quest to race a marathon in every state and be competitive on the Ironman Triathlon scene. I’ve finished 5 Ironman events to date, having placed on the podium in my age group but I’m still striving for that top 50 finish.

I’m focused on promoting a positive, healthy lifestyle with “fitness as the foundation” and surround myself with a “community” of like minded people (family, friends, loved ones). 

That's what I'm thinking. Feel free to either weigh in with your thoughts or use this as an idea of how to map out goals and a vision for yourself. I think you'll find it a pretty powerful tool in order to give you focus.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Dear race organizers...get a clue

Whether you've just started or you're a seasoned racer, one of the greatest frustrations is a poorly organized/executed race. So, I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts that I had. And, and, and...since I'm planning on organizing a 5k soon, I hope to not repeat these mistakes!

1. Your race has to have a website. Its not that hard and it really only needs to be one page with: when, where, how to get there and the route. A link to register online would be great too but same day registration is fine. Speaking of, there's no need for people to buy morning of with cash or check. There are PLENTY on ipad/iphone apps that allow you to swipe credit cards. Who carries cash anymore anyway?!

2. There is no reason why you can't offer nice tech tees to all those that register. Now, they're as cost effective as the cotton tees but are MUCH nicer. Not to mention it makes your race seem even more professional.

3. Along the same lines, there no reason why you cant offer overall and age group medals. they're not that expensive and once again, make your race seem even more professional

4. The day of the race, please make sure the staff is CLEARLY marked. Wear shirts, hats, badges or tie balloons to your wrists if need be but if people have questions they need to find someone quickly in order to ask. Not to mention, if something goes bad its easier for 1st responder personal to identify YOU. On a side note, you and all your staff need to be pumped up and happy about your event. If you think I dragged my fat broken butt out of bed at 6 am on a Sunday to deal with your grumplestiltskin are SADLY mistaken. Its your job to make me feel happy about being here!

5. At the start/registration/pre-race area, have a map of the course up for review. By map, I do not mean an 8.5x11 piece of paper taped to a table at sign in. I mean a 2ftx4ft picture on an easel that lots of people can see (its an easy print at Kinkos folks, come on)

6. You HAVE to use chipped/timed numbers to track your racers. The "guesstimation" thing of pulling tabs off numbers as runners come through the chute is SO 1995. its relatively cheap and it one less worry for you as an organizer. Not to mention finishing times get posted up that much faster for your runners to see

7.While I love to hear the National anthem at the beginning of every race...its not the ONLY thing you do before the gun goes off. YOU should welcome everyone to the event, let runners know if there are any changes to the course, what to look out for, tell the runners to seed themselves, etc. Its YOUR race, take charge and let us know that someone is IN charge.

8. If the course is going to be twisty-turney, painted arrows on the pavement is not gonna cut it! you need to have people at each turn (and when I mean at each turn I need them to be directing where to go...not just standing there!)

9. While I would love to have time boards up at each mile, at the very least I expect each mile to be marked! I mean really, is that so hard?! While you're at Kinkos for #3 you cant also have mile markers made too?! Then either put them on a stand or on a pole and in a traffic cone at each mile.

10. If you're going to have water stations out on the course, train the people manning them (i.e. don't just have them sit there, have them handing out water) and here's a tip, don't fill the cups completely up. grabbing one while running is like getting hit with a water balloon . AND there is a trick to handing water to some one running by, teach your water station folks how to do it BEFORE race day

11. Once your runners cross the finish, its great to have water, Gatorade and bananas/oranges at the end...but have enough! Trust me, there is nothing a runner hates worse then to hear that your race has "run out of water/gatorade". You don't have to do bottles for everyone. You can use those big Gatorade coolers but make sure you have enough cups. Yes, i have put Gatorade right in my hands to drink like a caveman because a race ran out of cups.

12. When you do post finishing times, could you please NOT put them all on one page with a 4.5pt tiny font? We just got done running a race and smell like butt. if you think i want to nuzzle up to another racer in order to see my times you are once again...sadly mistaken

13. Lastly, interact with your racers and see what they thought about the race. This is the best time to get real time feedback and if this becomes more than a one time event, you want people to see how your implementing and changing. By the way, if you get everyone's email, a quick "thank you for making it a success and hope to see you next year" email goes a long way...

While this isn't comprehensive and I'm sure I've missed things, I think this is kind of the "have to do" list for a race. If you guys have suggestions or other things to go on the list please don't hesitate to share. Like I said, I hope to organize a race soon and I'd love to make it a great event right out the gate!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Remembrance, regrets and shame...

My 2011 Boston Marathon...a year later...I have done very little to think about the race or my performance at last year's Boston Marathon. So little in fact, that the shirt I got for entering, finisher's certificate, pictures of me during the race, the gear I used, my number..practically everything but the medal have yet to see the light of day in a year. But with this year's edition about to kick off, running the BAA 5k the day before and seeing this dreaded street intersection (pictured below).

I did not have the Boston Marathon performance I wanted. Hell, I'm sure NO ONE would want my "performance" of a year ago. I would argue it wasn't a performance at all, rather a feeble attempt of controlled chaos. You can read my recap of the race here.

I, like everyone other runner, have always wanted to run Boston. It is the crown jewel in anyone's marathon resume and my getting in would make Boston my 14th. That being said, even with the 17 year lag since my last marathon (wow, that sounds really bad when you see it in print) I thought it was nothing I couldn't handle. I was wrong.

I put pressure on myself for every race, as do all of us I'm sure (I mean come on...Its NOT just me is it?!). Sometimes however I think I could win a gold medal for the amount of effort I put into self induced pressure. I got into Boston on a charity number, adding the pressure of needing to raise the money required. Of course by trying to raise said money, I made EVERYONE I know (and plenty I don't) aware of my upcoming running. Which in turn led to their constant asking of how was my training coming and was I ready to "win it"? Funny sure, but still sets the bar high for doing well. I had a coach for the first time since I was a young cyclist and we didn't see eye to eye on my training/racing plan. I got monster sick 3 weeks before race day (I was bed ridden for a week), and then there's the pressure I put on myself for a sub 3:30 finish. Throw in that I think you can explain/talk through a marathon to anyone...EXCEPT Boston. It is its own animal (athletes village, the wait to start, the number of people in the race, the spectators, the fanfare and last but NOT least...the COURSE). I was stressed out going into the race and that stress only increased DURING the race. If you read the race recap, you can see that all those things led to my having the worst race of my life.

My joy of crossing the finish line and finally getting one of those cherished BAA Boston Marathon medals was tempered by my anger at myself and personal shame of a terrible performance. So much so that within 20 minutes of finishing and getting some Gatorade and a banana in me, I told J that I didn't want to be there anymore and just wanted to go home.

I was running on vapor the last 10 miles of the marathon and had no clue what  the finish or surrounding area looked like until I ran the BAA 5k this year and saw it all. Walking around after the 5k and seeing people take pictures of the finish and the finish area made me realize that my finishing the race, given what happened, was not only an accomplishment but something to be happy about and proud of. I have always said "there's only two ways to finish a either crossing the finish line or being carried of in a stretcher".

Now that the 2012 edition is over I am once again, plotting out ways to either BQ or get a number for the 2013 edition. I do not want that terrible performance to define me so I have to make it my own mind at least.

Seriously..what is wrong with me?


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Jay Lyons old friend revisited...

The Jay Lyons 5k in Worcester MA has a special place in my heart because its the race that started (or restarted) it all for me when it comes to training/racing. This is the "goal" 5k that J set for herself  back in '09 when she got back in the swing of training and wanted me to help (which subsequently got me back into training) and it was my "season opener" race for 2 years running before it conflicted with my 2010 Boston marathon training and I had to skip a year...

I know the course pretty well, and because of the lessons learned from the last couple races I headed to the front. I never cease to amaze myself with the conversations I have in my head at the start of any race (i.e. What am I doing here? Why didn't I just stay home? Am I even fast enough to race? I wonder how I'll run today? Am I wearing the right clothes?, Am I too hot or too cold? How does the current political situation and economy effect the value of my house?...well, you get the picture). What normally happens is that while I'm deep in thought the gun goes off so why would this race be any different?!

Now, the start is a slight uphill to the first right, so I try to make my way to the group of leaders (there were just under 900 runners at the race and even though I tried to get forward before the start, I was still back) and try to get into a settled pace. Sadly, I realized that my GPS wasn't working and there weren't mile markers so I'd just try to estimate and stay with the leaders. On a side note...REALLY?! Dear race organizers, how hard is out to put out three 3x4ft signs with 1,2 and 3miles written on them?! Since you have police support, why don't you just ask for one of their barriers and tape the signs to them?! I mean I get it if this is your first year of the race but when you're in your second year and on this is just common sense! Now back to the recap.

I'll be the first to tell you that I have a terrible time managing pace (I mean have you read this blog?) so I focus on maintaining a level of effort that's just below "see everything that I ate for breakfast on the sidewalk"...especially for a 5k. We continue, then right to a slight down hill and then straight shot before the right- hill-right into the finish. I felt okay. Without pace I don't know for sure if I was maintaining a good pace but I kept picking up people before the hill....and then the hill came. Look, I LOVE hills on a bike...but I dread them on the run. Throw in that Worcester is known as the "City of Seven Hills" and you get an idea of my unhappiness. Now I know that the hill was gonna make people pop. It comes at about the 2 1/2 mile mark and stretches for about half a mile. I knew that if I hit it with a good pace and leaned into it I should be able to pick off a few more runners..which I did...but I paid for it at the top. I was gassed for the push to the finish. When I hit the final right turn I knew it was a slight downhill to the end and I tried to give it all I had. I crossed the finish line in 20:42 which was 10 secs slower then my time 2 years ago and in 33rd overall, 5th in my new age group (last year I was 15th overall and fifth in my age group). Not bad, not great. Its my fastest 5k this season but I had hoped that with resting the day before my legs would be faster. I really didn't feel like I had anything left in the tank at the finish and it was the third weekend in a row of racing but you know me...I think every race should be a PR and/or an age group top three. I think its time to focus on some speed/hills work and skip a weekend of racing. Now where'd I'd put the brochure for that Ultra...