Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Help a Start-up and Learn Some Life Lessons

Eric Ortiz wrote the following blog post. He is married to my oldest daughter, Maria. He also is the founder of Moblish  - an application to allow anyone with talent, integrity, hard work and a cell phone to become a journalist.

His company is in the running for a $20,000 seed grant.

 You can vote for Moblish here, or you can vote for Moblish at the end of the post.

I got some advice before I ran my first half marathon.

Start slow.

Pace yourself.

Don’t let your wife beat you.

 The first two pieces of advice were provided by veteran runners and lasted for about 500 yards. The final bit of counsel I gave to myself and was followed for all 13.1 miles. I’m a competitive person. I like to win -- or perhaps more accurately, I don’t like to lose to my wife.
The mindset is born out of irrational machismo from my Cro-Magnon heritage, ego and pride. In other words, general ignorance and stupidity, with a healthy dose of misguided, testosterone-fueled exhuberance.
Nevertheless, on the day of race, winning to me in the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay meant completing the picturesque course -- through downtown Monterey, Pacific Grove and along the Pacific Ocean -- in front of my better half, Maria.

I finished in two hours and 27 minutes, in 4846th place out of 9051 participants, 2,002nd out of 2,528 men, 279th place in my age group (40-44) out of 340 runners, and first in my marriage, 42 seconds ahead my wife.

Here’s a quick recap of how the race went for me.
I started fast. A half-mile in, I said to my wife, “I feel good. This is going to be easy.”

One mile in, I asked her, “Do you want me to run with you.” She said, “Go ahead.” I picked up my speed and left her in the dust. I was moving, passing people left and right.

Four miles in, my pace slowed. People started passing me. Old and young, large and small. Then, I found a nice, comfortable pace for the next four miles.

Around the eight-mile mark, we made the turn for home. I wondered where Maria was. I thought she must be far behind me.

Then, I saw her 30 seconds later as I began running in the opposite direction toward the finish line. She was right behind me.

A minute later, she was right next to me. I said, “Hey.” We conversed for a moment. Then, I sped off and ran fast (in my mind, at least) for a mile or two. Then, I slowed down. Then, my wife caught up to me. Then, I sped off again. I followed this routine for the rest of the race.

At Mile 10, my body started telling me to stop and walk. My mind started giving me a pep talk, “You’re almost there. Keep going. One foot in front of the other. You can do it.”

I had never run more than 10 miles in succession before. The bone spurs in my right ankle (the remnants of a broken ankle suffered on my 19th birthday) were barking. Each step felt like a nail being driven into the top of my foot, a screw being tightened. I put my head down, blocked out the pain, and just kept moving forward

Around Mile 11, guess who? My wife. She had a smile on her face and the same steady pace she had been employing for two-plus hours. She looked comfortable, ready to run a full marathon. I was not. She could see I was struggling and delivered one last message of encouragement, “You know you don’t want to finish behind me.”

She was right. I sped ahead and started my kick toward home. I picked up the pace, started passing those who had decided to walk. I wanted to join them, but I knew if I did, I would finish behind my wife. So I continued my uneven gait. Each stride that got me closer to the finish line yet came with the price: a little more sharp discomfort.

Mile 12. Over. People yelled inspiring words. Signs offered support. “In my mind, you’re all Kenyan.” I passed Cannery Row. I asked John Steinbeck for strength. Someone yelled, “Looking strong, Eric.” I just kept my head down.

Mile 13. Done. The end was near. I could see the finish line. I mustered the energy for final burst. I felt like a Kenyan. One-hundred yards to go. I heard people calling my name. I figured it was our family who had come to watch me and Maria race – Eva (my 5 1/2-year-old daughter), Emilia (my almost-2-year-old daughter), Julia (my 15-year-old sister-in-law), Dennis (my father-in-law) and AnnMaria (my mother-in-law). I couldn’t acknowledge them. All I could do was keep my head down. And run.
I crossed the finish line, running. I took another step and slowed down. No need to worry about stopping too fast. I walked a few steps and got a beautiful ceramic medal put around my neck. I kept walking and got some Gatorade.

I saw Maria a minute later. My calves were burning. I found a place to sit down. Now, my body was letting me know who was in charge. I got up and could barely walk. Maria was ready to jog back to the hotel, while I laid down on the curb and waited for a cab.

What did I get for finishing in front of my wife? Two days of being able to hobble and walk with a severe limp, unable to put any pressure on my right foot. Then, I got sick and was bedridden for a day and hacking up phlegm for days after that. A week after the race, I strained my lower back riding my bike and could barely walk again for a few more days.

I am almost back to normal.

So who was the real winner?

Maria is planning when to run her first marathon.

Maybe I will join her. If I do, I will let her finish first.

Moblish is in the running for a NewU seed grant . Please vote for Moblish  .

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