Happy 17th Birthday Buddy

(this is my annual Birthday letter to our kiddo, Levi, who passed away a few hours after birth due to prematurity coupled with sepsis. I started this a few years after he was born and decided to write one every year–up until his 18th Birthday)

Dear Levi,

This is my second to last Birthday letter to you.

Some of these have been simple, others playful, and a few mournful.

Though never during one of the days over these last 17 years have I not felt a deep sense of peace about your passing. If I could change anything, well, I wouldn’t. Not because I don’t desire it (deeply) but I’ve always felt at peace that this was part of The Great Plan–even if, at a lot of times, I resisted it, felt incredible despair, or simply didn’t understand it.

But I’m going to come back to The Great Plan in a bit. 😉

Royce is finishing her Sophomore year at Colorado Christian University. She’s studying to be a nurse, which is PERFECT because soon, instead of googling my hypochondria tendencies, I’m going to have someone in the family that I can text or call 24-7.

I love going to the campus to visit her, even though every time I’m there I want to take photos together and there are all sorts of guidelines I have to follow, like “Dad, you can’t ask those kids to take our photo…and not those over there…not those kids either…but you can go ask the policeman to take our photo.” I keep trying to tell her, “Hey look Royce, I am sure all these kids will think I am a cool dad and I’m not going to say anything embarrassing and…okay I’ll ask the cop to take our photo…” I am so super proud of her.

Zoe is in her senior year of high school and is also doing great, she got a job at Trader Joe’s so  now I will spend time literally looking for something–ANYTHING–that we need in the kitchen so I can conjure up an excuse to stop by her work, pick up an item, and check in on her.

I go so often and am, apparently, so eagerly talkative to all the staff when I visit, that I’ve also got guidelines from Zoe that I need to “slow your roll, Dad!” including “Dad, you can’t just be introducing yourself to all the people that work at Trader Joe’s telling them you’re my dad and asking them all these questions and telling them how much you love Trader Joe’s and asking about me.”😂

Once you become a Dad, and I don’t know how to explain this, but it’s like some genetic code gets turned on and it’s with great resistance that one must try to throttle some of these idiosyncrasies.

Dad jokes are the most obvious example. But, apparently, so is walking around Trader Joe’s “shaking hands and kissing babies” being insanely proud of your kid that works there or walking around your kids college campus being equally insanely proud of your kid who goes to school there.

As a parent, one of the greatest things you get to experience is watching your kids grow and develop to become their own person. It’s also one of the toughest, because the decisions they make aren’t always (often) the ones you’d make as a parent. Sometimes they’re way better. Sometimes they’re not.

And that’s life.

It’s a great gift to be able to see someone develop their independence and grow into their greatness and purpose. And, always, that includes difficulty, disappointment, and struggle along the way.

That’s also part of The Great Plan.

On your Birthday, it’s often mixed with a lot of different emotions. As time passes contexts changes, too. And every year I feel more and more convinced that this, everything, all of it, is part of The Plan.

We’d all love The Plan to be a heroic journey with an amazing outcome that’s free of pain, friction, despair, and struggle and, instead, we would far rather achieve this outcome of a perfect life, full of abundance and riches, vibrant health, easy and idyllic relationships free of pain and suffering.

What I’ve learned this year, more than any other year, is that if left to our own plan we would end up in a disastrous state. It’s contrarian to much of today’s hyperbolic narrative–especially but not limited to my San Francisco backyard–where it’s often a story of pursuing your happiness and pleasure is paramount to pursuing a life of purpose.

Sometimes, maybe often, the two are at odds. The Great Plan is a life of purpose.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

And this includes all of the things: heartbreak, travesty, despair, disappointment, and brokenness. Sometimes the consequences of our own (terrible) decisions and actions. Other times, through supernatural events that are inexplicable and–seemingly unconscionable–but are a part of The Great Plan and directed by a sovereign Hand under which we have no control but only submission.

Among others, there are three truths in life:

1. God is Good; 2. God is Sovereign; 3. Bad things happen (there is evil).

How these three reconcile is still a mystery to me.

The only way this comes together to make any sense to me is through faith and understanding the fact that there remain many things that we will NOT understand, at least until the  afterlife and that as part of the journey we have to learn to accept and believe that “…all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

Even when it feels like a shitty outcome or that we’re dealt a bad hand. Maybe, especially, when it feels that way. And, it’s possible that often, what we see as good may not be good for us, and vice versa.

This is the reconciliation that I’ve come upon for your birth and death. That this was not due to some mistake, a lack of prayer or faith (over the years, some have implied this–for which I carry no resentment, but it’s a deeply flawed conviction that’s not backed up by anything scriptural), the fault of a medical doctor, traveling the week before you were born, or any number of interventions done or undone…but instead, this was just part of life’s journey, which includes heartache and heartbreak and the outcome of which can build within us a humility, seeking, and dependence on something that’s more powerful and meaningful than the “god within us” and, instead, a powerful “God above us” who has created for us a Great Plan that is incredibly more meaningful and purposeful than one we’d ever create on our own.

Buddy, I can tell you would’ve been a great kid. I have had many moments of joy thinking about what life would have been like with you over the years, and there have become many moments of really deep revelation and meaning watching other Dad’s with their sons. Often, this is as simple as stopping to watch from a distance as they play catch in the park, or are biking by, running errands….so many moments I’ve stopped in my tracks to take 60 seconds to live vicariously as an outside observer watching a Dad and his son, reflecting on just how epic it would be to have had a moment like that with you. Though it may sound sad, these small moments have given me great joy and peace.

Life is tough. And life is amazing.

All of it is a gift, and in the pain there is a great opportunity for us to get to move one inch closer to our purpose. I’m grateful for the gift of your birth, and am at peace with your passing as well, because however this has worked out because I know it’s part of The Great Plan.

By the way, as you know, our dog Ruby died this year. This was a far more emotional and deeply sad experience for me than I ever expected–and probably for reasons that extend beyond just Ruby’s passing, but every day I get this great comfort and sense that (in a way that I’m not sure is very rational or logical) there is now up in heaven a really adorable dog playing and hanging out with a really adorable kid. In some way, I think we’ve been able to release a part of us to be up with a part of you. Give Ruby a hug for us.

Happy 17th Birthday Buddy.

Love it. No matter what.



Happy 16th Birthday Buddy

Hi Levi,

Happy 16th Birthday–what a fun one this would’ve been!

We’d have gone to get your license this morning. You’d have your wheels (kind of–at least temp’s) and a newfound sense of freedom.

Instead of me driving to our weekend getaway, we’d have you at the wheel. And you’d have me, Royce, and Zoe “backseat driving you” ever mile. For every car ride I get about ten “WATCH OUT DAD!” warnings from Zoe, all of which sound incredibly dire and imminent…and in each instance every drive (thank God, literally) has yielded zero accidents. And at this point I’d like to say “Hey Zoe, I think you can chill out here and just let me drive–I got this.” Yet I already know Zoe’s response will be “Hey Dad, do you know how many accidents I help you avoid by barking out warnings?!?!?!?” So anyways, she’d be the most vocal.

I’d be posting something Dad-cringey on Insta (or probably FB, more Gen-X), saying something like “Hey folks, stay off the streets–this kid now has his license!” Then, I’d sit on the couch and “rest my eyes” a bit before catching myself, slapping my hands together and belting out “Okay guys, let’s rock and roll outta here!”

But, first, to stop and (re)show how to check the oil and fluids in your car–which I did just this afternoon with Royce and Zoe. Coincidentally, was met with loud exclaims of “C’mon Dad, WE KNOW HOW TO DO THIS…YOU DON’T NEED TO SHOW US AGAIN!” Ummmmm, yes I do. I’m your Dad. Also, ya’ll had a lot of trouble finding the hood release today which still concerns me, lol. 😉

Today we took off this afternoon to head up to the Mountains and spend the weekend celebrating your Birthday.

This Birthday would’ve been really epic with you here–and maybe a little hard to explain, but this year it’s just different. Lunch today with your sisters was one of these super simple–and fleeting far too quickly–events, watching them interact and hearing Royce share with me her clinical perspective of Keto and Intermittent Fasting, listening to them both laugh, and hearing/seeing them as adults (but still kinda always the Dad-lense, but it changes over time). They’re both doing amazing–I think the best they’ve been in years. There’s an ease and enjoyment in our relationship, and maybe it’s a new level of confidence or just comfort–and maybe a lot humility among us and Whatever it is, it’s really nice. You’ve got two amazing sisters here.

Here’s a few pics from us on your Birthday from over the years. We all say hi and “Love it…No Matter What!” Have a great Birthday, buddy!



Happy 15th Birthday Buddy

Dear Levi,

I’m totally out of gas tonight but I didn’t want to miss my yearly birthday post.

So, my shortest one yet.

Wishing you a happy birthday.

And, really deeply,  wishing you were here tonight.



Happy 14th Birthday Buddy

Dear Levi,

Today I’m wishing you the Happiest Birthday!

I’m in a totally different space than I’ve been in years past. More reflective and more content with certain outcomes in my life–even if they didn’t happen like I wanted.

For so many years I’ve thought about what life would be like with you here. Though today, I really felt at peace of my life without you here.

No longer do I feel like time was stolen from you. Instead, I feel like what you gave me was this gift of a radical and transformational experience. One that I’m starting to understand. And one that I’ll never fully understand. 

Oftentimes the shittiest (yeah, you’re 14 now–you can handle my New-York City English) experiences turn into that–but sometimes it takes years to end up seeing the movie roll through, because much of the time is more like seeing a point-in-time photograph. I’ve had a hard time remembering that during tough time, in general, but most specifically with you.

One of my virtues–and vices–is that I’m pretty high octane and haven’t done  a great job of throttling it in life. There’s a strange juxtaposition that the thing that can make you good at *insert whatever* is often the thing that hinders you too if left imbalanced.

Last week I was at a market and I was buying charcuterie because I was having friends over (yeah, I’m about to tell a story about charcuterie for your birthday, Levi ;-)).

As I’m trying to haul ass move briskly through the grocery story I approach the deli counter and a 60-something woman wearing work overalls happens to be two steps in front of me.

“No biggie, this is going to be fast…I’m going to get all this stuff done on time” I said to myself.

10 minutes later, and no foolsies, this woman is still sampling cheeses like a maitre fromager.

I’m visibly sweating with palpitations.

The slowness of her cheese sampling, the consideration given with each bite…the inefficiency of what’s happening during my need-for-speed-to-get-out-that-door-and-on-with-my-life-PEOPLE-WHAT-ARE-WE-DOING-HERE-LETS-PICK-A-CHEESE-ALREADY.

I’m getting angina every time she asks a question.

I walked away a few steps to head to the aisle with Niacin  to be certain not to show my angst. But when I looked back at her from a distance I saw a totally different scenario unfolding before me. Before, I was standing so close to her buried in the annoyance of what was mudrucking my schedule, that I couldn’t see what was really happening.

For 30 seconds I started observing.

She’s laughing, asking questions, contemplating, relaxing, and, well, she’s having fun. I’m not–but she’s having a flipping blast.

So I walk back to the counter and decide to engage with her.

Starting with a friendly hello (I had to work extra hard at that point), and then by asking her favorite cheeses of the 117 she’d sampled so far, which led to recommendations AND OH MY GOODNESS THE UNENDING RECOMMENDATIONS…

But then this led to her talking about her job…sheet metal working as a union employee. And me talking about my grandfather pressing suits for a lifetime in Chicago having, as a Lithuanian immigrant, never proceeding past 2nd grade. Which, of course, led the discussion to: Detroit. Water. More sheet metal stories. The homogenization of San Francisco. And, well, more cheese recommendations and how why oh why Saint Peter aren’t there more cheese deli’s in the Bay like they had 40-years ago?

(I don’t know…we just don’t know, there are some unanswerable questions in life and this, apparently, is one of them–and believe me, we talked about this for awhile and racked our brains)

We talked for 30 minutes. When I was walking out I almost went back to hug it out with her. As I was driving off here’s what I realized: When I was standing right next to her I couldn’t see.

And it wasn’t until I stepped back, and engaging with her, until I could REALLY see what was happening. That night at the market, I was trying to get in and out so I could get to my Friday night. Every deviation was an obstacle to my plans.

But, for her, that WAS her Friday night out.

And, getting to know her, well, it was a gift to me as well–and ended up being one of the highlights of my week, too, however small and inconsequential.

As I was driving away I thought of you.

And perspective. Which, sometimes you don’t get until you step away or reset.

Occasionally it’s simple stuff. Apparently, like my experience with the cheese lady.

And other times it’s a lot more complicated stuff that can leave someone with years of unyielding despair, like my experience with you.

And often times, what you really just need, is more perspective.

Today, I’m grateful for you.

As you came. And as you left. For giving me a great gift of perspective. Even if it took me a lot of years to finally get there. Love you–no matter what.

Happy Birthday, Buddy!



*This is my annual birthday post for Levi. The prior years posts are all here



Happy 12th Birthday Buddy

Hi Levi,

Wow, little dude…you would be 12 today.

Well, you are 12 today. But you’d be here and with me and 12, rather than up there and 12. 😉 Either way, I can’t even believe it. I’ve got two stories for you today on your birthday. Sometimes I have a hard time getting your sisters to get chatty with me; if you were still here you’d be watching me in the sometimes-struggle to engage with them you’d probably just look at me and shrug your shoulders and say “Girls…”

But between those moments, I still get more than my fair share of magic with them. On New Year’s Day I took Royce and Zoe to a coffeeshop in a small mountain town in Colorado. When we sat down I had them put down their bad weapons (phones) and I pulled out my good weapons (pen and paper) and gave each of them about 20-minutes to write down some of their goals and objectives for the year.

After we were done we all shared with each other. Without too much detail, one of the goals Royce shared with me was that she was hopeful and prayerful that she could minister to people that she doesn’t know, and to develop a relationship with them. More specifically, in her words, to share God’s love with them in an environment that doesn’t really encourage it (high school in general, but add to that Silicon Valley…).

As she was sharing with me so animatedly and expressively, with such a heart for people, I felt this surreal displacement. I’m listening to this amazing kid share with me a love and compassion so deep that I was just overwhelmed, to the point that I kept pulling my baseball hat down lower over my eyes.

Overwhelmed enough, that finally Zoe blurted out “DAD, ARE YOU CRYING AGAIN?!?!?” 😉

(I rarely cry, other than with things related to the three of you…and movies…)

Later that week Zoe and I were talking while lying at opposite ends of the couch. I was watching the gorgeous blue Colorado sky with huge, billowing cottony clouds drifting by and enjoying the gift of hearing her talk away, where she went on to share with me an issue at middle school where she got into a pretty heated fight–when I asked her why it came down to an incident where someone was bullying a mentally disabled student, who she befriended and defended.

And, yeah, a few minutes into the story she blurted out “DAD, you gotta get a hold of yourself!” 😉

You have two really amazing sisters, they would’ve been the BEST big sisters to you. And while I’m forever sad you’re not here, I also feel like I get little glimpses of you–and who you’d be–in the magic moments that I still have with Royce and Zoe, like during those two stories above.

This year I felt a huge wave of peace come over me regarding you, which doesn’t make me miss you any less. But it does mean I have healed a lot more. I still think about you all the time. Happy Birthday Buddy, I hope this years was the best yet.



*This is my annual birthday post for Levi. The prior years posts are here: Happy 11h Birthday Buddy, Happy 10th Birthday Buddy, Happy 9th Birthday BuddyHappy 8th Birthday BuddyHappy 7th Birthday BuddyHappy 6th Birthday BuddyHappy 5th Birthday Buddy, and Happy 4th Birthday Buddy.


The Very Next Thing…

Stepping Stones

In my mid 20’s I was in Manhattan working for my first VC-backed start-up and we were going through a quagmire after the crash in March ’00, which was really gnarly for equity backed start-ups. Our CEO initiated a series of strategy sessions among the Exec’s debating a little topic called, ehhhhh, basically how do we survive? 

After hours of heated discussion and what we felt was resolution with an immediately actionable plan that could springboard us, a few Exec’s were unrelenting with whether to take any immediate action because of these nebulous potential long-term implications (really, they were just stuck).

After an already too-long diversion, our CEO barked out “Hey guys, there is no f**k**g long term without a short-term.”

This is why I am so obsessed with micro goals. Sometimes it’s easy to get so mired into long-term mental gymnastics that it’s paralyzing in the short-term (that said, sometimes the solution is upending or adjusting the long-term strategy–but that’s not this post).

Sometimes the process feels like hell. But as Winston Churchill said, “When you’re going through hell, just keep going.” That’s what a micro-goal does: focuses on the very next thing that needs to be done to achieve the overarching strategy

I’ll use my own personal goal failure of writing a book as an example. I’ve got my vision for it, considered the cover, title ideas, acknowledgments; how it might get published, and blah, blah, blah.

The last time I touched it was 10-months ago, and I’ve been working on it for five years. At this point further book pontificating about it makes me want to throw up.

Literally, I want to throw up right now. That’s how much I hate missing goals and feeling stuck.

There are lots of reasons excuses why I’ve not written it: workload, travel schedule, don’t feel like writing, hate my writing when I do finally write, not inspired to write, need to check Facebook because maybe someone else will have posted some quippy quote that will inspire me to write…

But what do I REALLY need to do? 

Write 200 words tonight.

That’s it.

My micro goal.

For 180-days. And then I’ll have my book done. Which is exactly what I’m going to do next.


P.S. Our start-up I referenced at the beginning figured out both the long and short-term and ended up a happy story (albeit brutal process), largely and mostly in part to the CEO that ran it who was both amazing and unrelenting.

Props to All the “Real” People


I have always loved, and been inspired by, the “Common Man” (and Woman).

When I was 25 years old at my first start-up company in Manhattan I had literally one thing hanging from my office wall (other than 587 sticky notes and whiteboards, both I have had various obsessions with over the years).

It was a photo I’d torn out of the Wall Street Journal of two older Chinese men doing backbreaking work in a remote village for what was an incomprehensibly low wage with brutally long hours.

Frequently, a group of us would be at the office past 2am. On occasion, I would feel myself  get into a “EFFFF! Man, this is SO HARD” mental loop.

But then I would look at the picture and remind myself.

“No…You know what’s hard? Working 14 hours a day in rice fields at the age of 71 doing mundane and incredibly physically demanding manual labor to earn a barely livable wage. That’s hard.”

Over 15-years later I still have that same photo, which I still look at periodically to remind myself of the same thing.

Inspirational speakers don’t often inspire me.

I find my greatest inspiration in “Ordinary People…Doing ‘Extra-Ordinary’ things” (a quote I’ve always loved from a great college football coach of mine, Joe Williams).

Last week I drove from San Francisco to Sedona over the holidays to celebrate the wedding of an amazing friend. En route at 4am after having driven 12-hours I was tempted to sleep at a rest area, but since I had the kids I found a roadside motel instead.

The place was a total dive, some roadside hatch in the middle of nowhere Arizona for $46 a night.

I pull up my car to the crappy entrance “guest reception” to check in. My expectations of the front desk employee falls in one of two tranches: low and lower.

Instead, I am met with the most amazing woman who is working the front desk.

Graying hair in her early 60’s with imperfect teeth and a glowing personality, she was one of the most enthusiastic, positive, professional, warm, and cheerful people I’d met in months.

In five minutes of checking in I fell in love with her. If I’d had a job for her I would’ve hired her on the spot (which I’ve essentially done before–in fact, one of my first FloWater employees was my waiter at a restaurant where I basically did just that).

People like her? Now that inspires me.

In a land (esp Silicon Valley, though I’m not knocking it–but there’s a reality check we can all use) of companies that offer free food, decompression parties, meditation rooms, unlimited vacation policies, culture workshops, and on and on (all designed to recruit and retain the greatest talent and provide an atmosphere where they can do their best work), what REALLY inspires me are people like this.

Working at a ratty hotel. In the middle of nowhere. At 4am. Earning minimum wage.

And blowing my mind with an amazing customer experience and an incredibly friendly and generous personality. 

Props, tonight, to all the real people.

That do real work.

That often goes unnoticed.

You inspire me.



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One Year and 1,000 Miles with Bessie the VW Bus

February ’15
1. Miss a box jump at CrossFit. Grind my shin with full bodyweight.
2. I think it’s almost to the bone. Fist sized swelling. “Just walk it off.”
3. Hydrogen peroxide vs. stitches. I choose peroxide. 
Four days later
4. Pain and redness…more pain. Visit doctor. 
5. “OH MY GOD! VHAT DID YOU DO? Take this veeery good antibiotic. It get worse you go to zee hospital.”
Two days later
6. Los Angeles. Serious pain and redness. Call doctor.
7. “Describe for me zee symptoms you arrrre having?” (blah blah blah symptoms).
Two weeks, two hospitals, and a LOT of Vanco later 
9. “Hey doc, I’m having XYZ symptoms…” 
11. While lying in a hospital bed I’m getting reflective. Super-all-nostalgically-reflective-like-life-flashing-in-front-of-you. 
12. Dad emails me a picture of an old VW Bus we had growing up. More nostalgia. My kids should have these types of memories. 
Next morning
13. I NEED a VW Bus. So long as I don’t lose my leg, which would be problematic clutching. I promise myself I’m going to be fine. And buy a Bus. Make memories with the kids. 
14. On eBay I find a VW Bus. I text the ad to four friends asking advice. 
15. Three text back with “this is a stupid idea.” I decide they are not true friends. 
16. One doesn’t respond. This is a good friend. I take non-response as tacit endorsement. 
17. I text one more friend, a legit hippie from the 60’s.
18. He texts me back “This is a wise decision.” This is the kind of friendship I need in my life. 
19. I buy the Bus (sight unseen) on eBay.
One month later
20. En route to meet my guy selling the Bus at his bank in Seattle.
21. Test drive. Multiple stalls. “This bus is a piece of shit!” I say to him.
22. “No, no” he says to me. “You just have to give her some love.”
23. Test drive some more.
24. I am transported back to 12-years old, riding in the back of a Bus with my family.
25. I love this Bus. Exchange cash for title. 
26. Start 900 mile drive back to SF Friday night. 
27. Stop in Olympia for dinner with friends. Bessie won’t re-start.
28. This bus is a piece of shit.
29. I give her some love. And she loves me back.
30. I love this Bus again. 
That night 
31. It’s 40 degrees and midnight. Bessie has no heat. I drive faster and attempt to hit 65 MPH. We. Are. Making. Progress. 
32. I am so cold my teeth are chattering.
33. It’s 2am and I am exhausted. But I am not as tired as I am cold. Sleep would be impossible. 
34. It’s 4am, and now I am more tired than cold. This is the type of cold struggle I envision on a Mt. Everest attempt. 
35. I pull over at a rest stop. I am freezing. I wish I had a sleeping bag to snuggle with. Or a Sherpa. Both would be amazing right now. 
36. It’s 5am and I wake up to use the bathroom to pee. The bus door won’t open from the inside. I’m too tired to figure this out.
37. I see a cup. This will do. But it’s a small cup. I pee. Stop. Empty it. Repeat. Five times. I think I’ve irreparably damaged my prostate. 
The next morning
38. It’s 7am. It’s too cold to keep sleeping. I get up and start fiddling with the door.
39. Some guy pulls up next to me and blurts out “Good morning! Whatcha doing?!?!?!?!”
He’s chipper like had a full night sleep, oh and heat in his car and yes he is driving a Volvo.
41. I think Bessie is making me testy. 
42. Questioning the Bus buying decision at this moment.
43. Actually, questioning all of my life decisions.
44. It’s 7:30am and I’m on the highway. Shivering.
45. Guys with chubby cheeks should not wear beanies. I have chubby cheeks.
46. I put on my beanie. That’s how cold I am.
47. I need coffee. Someone get me coffee.
48. I don’t deserve Starbucks. You are an idiot. You only get gas station coffee.
49. My right blinker stopped working. I figure out how to love her to get it to work. By using my arm out the window.
50. My new relationship with Bessie is best described as “complicated.” 
Mid day
51. The sun is out, it’s now 48 degrees. I am warm. Actually, my teeth has simply stopped chattering. Warm is relative. 
52. The sky is clear. Bessie is purring like a kitten. We’re cruising down route 5 through Oregon.
53. Man, I love Oregon. This is AMAZING. There’s nowhere I would rather be than I-5 in Oregon with Bessie at this moment. 
54. Someone drives by me and gives me the peace sign. I flash it back.
55. I love this Bus. Good decision confirmed. 
56. My kids are going to LOVE me. I am the COOLEST dad ever.
57. Bessie starts smoking. I pull over. More love. And lots of oil.
58. My kids are going to HATE me. 
59. It’s down to 38 degrees. I am cold again. But not as cold as I am bored.
60. I stop at McDonalds to warm up. I sit inside without ordering anything.
61. I go to the bathroom, but only to run my hands under warm water for five minutes.
62. Am. I. Homeless? 
63. Reconsidering all my life’s decisions again.
64. Getting into the Bus, I see a van full of kids cheering and giving me the thumbs up and peace signs.
65. My kids are definitely going to love me.
66. I have decided to let my hair grow long. 
67. Getting onto the highway I almost get rear ended and two drivers share their feelings symbolically. Not the peace sign.
68. My kids might also have a complicated love for me and Bessie. 
69. My back is torqued from these seats and 800 miles. I need a chiropractor.
70. Or traction. Yes, I need someone to put me in traction. My back is killing me. Or a coma. Someone get me a Sherpa and a coma.
71. With a dead iPhone, I hopelessly turn on AM radio. There’s only talk radio on. 
72. I am getting smarter by the minute. This bus was a great investment.
73. Two hours from SF, and I contemplate the small pee cup so I can just get home. But instead pull off at a rest stop. 
74. Within 30-seconds another Bus pulls up next to me.
75. Peter, a German man who hasn’t bathed in 32 days, jumps out enthusiastically. 
76. “HEY MAN! How long you staying for???” He asks, as he flashes the peace sign. 
77. “Uhhhh, not sure. Pretty much here to take a leak. 30-seconds maybe…”
78. Before I finish he shouts “I’ve been told we can only stay here for EIGHT HOURS MAN! THIS IS BULLSHIT!!!” 
79. I realize he thinks I am (also) here to camp. Or maybe considers it to be the possibility of more. Like two birds that meet on a mountaintop whose paths never again depart.
80. My path is departing, in about 90-seconds. I start planning my escape. 
81. I share with Peter my outrage re. the eight hour limit, imposed upon us “by an overly restrictive government with ulterior motives and that this is an abomination against all of us as Bus owners, adventurers, and free spirits which are destroying our liberties and YES-WE-SHALL-FIGHT-FOR-OUR-RIGHT-TO-PARK-OUR-BUSES-WHEREVER-WE-WANT-HOWEVER-LONG-WE-WANT-PETER-ARE-YOU-WITH-ME?!?!?!” 
82. Peter seems pleased and comforted by my response–perhaps even a tad bit afraid–so he lets me get on my way when I explain I have kids waiting for me at home. After we talk for another hour. And open up our engine bays. And lament oil leaks. 
83. We hug goodbye. We will be friends for life. He gives me his email. Then he asks where he can camp and shower for free in San Francisco. I consider asking for my email back. 
Late that night
84. I approach the Bay Bridge. While in the toll/bridge line, Bessie starts smoking profusely.
85. This is SF, Bessie. You can’t do that here. Please. Stop. Bessie, stop. You know not the jungle we are entering for smoking engines.
86. Prius drivers are looking at me in horror. Several express their sentiments by showing me the non-peace sign.
87. As I’m pulling off the freeway to my house I see some young kids in the back of their parents car flash me the thumbs up sign.
88. I shoot back a big smile and a vibrant, confident peace sign. I’m fully comfortable in my new role now. 
89. My kids are gonna love me.
Three months later
90. I get the Bus back from my mechanic and take Royce and Zoe for their first ride. Within two miles Bessie breaks down on the highway during rush hour.
91. There are tears (them). Uncontrollable laughter (me). I MIGHT have a propensity to laugh in uncomfortable moments. 
92. The kids hate me (at the moment). The Bus gets towed on a flat bed back to my mechanic.
93. There’s not enough room in the cab of the tow truck for me. So I have to sit in the Bus. On top of the flat bed. Whilst being towed for 30-mins in rush hour.
94. My kids are pointing at me from the cab of the tow truck laughing hysterically at me. Apparently, now THIS is fun. 
Nine months later
95. For sale. 1976 VW Bus.
96. One last (and really first) road trip with Royce and Zoe. I decide to take them for a Saturday drive down Pacific Coast Highway. 
97. We hang at the beach, flash peace signs to everyone, eat Gorilla BBQ (Pacifica) out the side door overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
98. We go to another beach, drive to Pescadero, eat blueberry cobbler, buy old Marvin Gaye LP albums at a retro coffee shop, and slowly putter our way back. The kids have more fun and I hear more cackling laughter than I can remember in any recent month. 
99. The kids love me. They might even love Bessie. The day ends with “Dad, that was REALLY fun!!!”
The next day
100. One year and 1,000 miles later, Bessie heads to her next owner.
The most ridiculous, and somehow rewarding, money I’ve spent in a long time. 
IMG_8708 IMG_8709 IMG_8723 IMG_8817 IMG_8819 IMG_8891

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

I *Finally* Found My Life Verse

Life Verse

When I was 22 I got introduced to a guy in his 50’s named Bob. Big Italian guy with a commanding presence and booming voice of a southern baptist preacher. He was also a terrific salesman and all around person. He mentored me for years.

Bob had this crazy and radical transformation from an early and deep darkness in a mafia life through a relationship with Christ where he RADICALLY changed. Too long a set of differences to list. If you’re cynical about the “radical transformation” stuff I get it, I really do. But, let me carry on…

One thing he deeply held onto was his “Life Verse” from Joel 2:25, from the Old Testament. One of the last times I met with Bob he shouted to me (which was really his way of talking) in a loving but impassioned voice with expressive Italian arms waving “RICHARD, you should have a Life Verse! It’ll give you direction and something to meditate on. What’s it going to be RICHARD? Think about it, and get back to me! THIS IS IMPORTANT, DO NOT DILLY DALLY!”

But I never did it. Too much time went by, and I let life get in the way.

One day I got a call that he’d suddenly passed. At his funeral I thought about my Life Verse, but shortly after forgot about it until two months ago, and after thinking I’d narrowed it down to three verses.

This week in Denver I was with my parents at dinner. They’re both amazing. My mom is so caring, considerate, patient, and kind; my dad is so smart, wise and disciplined.

We walked into this trendy Italian restaurant with music blaring overhead and my mom said to me “Your dad is not going to like this music one bit…” (thank God, literally, she didn’t know what song was playing!).

The gracious hostess overheard and changed the music, but even still when we all sat down my dad says something hilarious about “You Hipsters and your music.” (I resisted an explanation that Hipsters were dudes who wore skinny jeans rolled up with outlandish beards whereas I identified more with Hippies who have long hair and the prolific usage of the word ‘dude’).

Late into the evening my dad quoted this verse out of the Bible, which hit me squarely since it was the same verse I’d been thinking about as my Life Verse the past few months.

Over 30-years I’d heard my dad quote lots of verses, but never this one. (sidebar: Bob’s having a conniption in heaven shouting at me “RICHARD, C’MON JUST MAKE A DECISION HERE!”). 😉

After quoting it, my dad says “I think that’s Jeremiah 33…” and I quickly interject “29:11…It’s Jeremiah 29:11.”

At which point I knew it was my life verse.

One, because I’d been thinking about this and hearing him say it was confirmation. Two, because my dad is one of the most prolific students of scripture and never have I ever (and I mean EVER) corrected a reference with him in decades of discussions.

Plus, well, I love this verse for all its meaning and it speaks to me.

So, Bob, 15-years later, here it is. My Life Verse. Unfortunately I dilly dallied and got distracted along the way, but I finally got it done.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11:


No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy 11th Birthday Buddy

Dear Levi,

Today it feels like yesterday.

Yesterday, when I landed in San Francisco to frantic voicemails that I had to return home immediately.

Yesterday, when I rushed into the UC hospital labor/delivery room where our high risk OB doc sat us down and so gently and lovingly explained that you were going to be born that day and there was nothing left he could do.

And that you would be alive.

But that you wouldn’t live.

That the odds of you living were so impossibly low they weren’t even going to have a neonatal intensive care unit on hand.

It feels like Yesterday, where I called the head of the NICU unit at his home and begged, with sobbing and pleading, that he would send us a NICU team in the remote chance a miracle could happen. That the 22 week estimate of gestation were off by a week, and that 23 weeks could provide us a chance and MY GOD I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES AND HE SHOULD TOO AND I DO NOT GIVE AN EFF WHAT THE STATISTICS SAY, and that maybe the infection wasn’t actually septic. Maybe they were wrong.

Or that BY GOD and PLEASE GOD AND I AM BEGGING YOU HERE AND DOC YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO HELP ME SAVE HIM DO NOT ABANDON ME that there is some chance for a miracle. To which he finally said “Okay, there’s an impossibly small chance–I’ll be there with my best team, but if I tell you it’s over, then it’s over. Can you agree to that?”

Yesterday, when we were in the delivery room with 10 nurses and doctors in the room–one team for delivery, and another post-delivery neonatal, with equipment and an isolette wheeled in and electronics that I’d never before seen and were certainly not part of a normal delivery room. I was on my knees on the side of the bed with your mom, holding her hand. She was so strong, brave, and focused.

But I couldn’t quit crying, and begging and pleading and sobbing, and I whispered repeated prayers in a silent room where only a doctor was talking with your mom giving instruction, and at one point I was crying so hard I felt a nurse put her hand on my back to try to comfort me, and I was begging and pleading and calling out for God to rescue you and to intervene, PLEASE GOD WHY WON’T YOU INTERVENE AND WHY IS THIS HAPPENING…

Felt like Yesterday, watching the obstetrics team within seconds of delivering you immediately hand you off to what must’ve been a half dozen on the NICU team. Watching, as tears rolled down our cheeks hearing the doctor read off low Apgar scars–with more tears as more scores were read, and silence in the room of 12 people, half of whom were watching the scene unfold with the other half furiously assessing whether any lifesaving heroic measure could change the outcome, but GOD THE SILENCE and the somber quietness and WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING AND WHERE ARE YOU GOD and I am begging here for ANYTHING AND ANYONE, with rhythmic beats of electronics and a pulse ox monitor and eery silence with just one NICU doctors quiet and steady voice and a team of a dozen others, all of whom are afraid to look at me, and then after ten minutes there is a nurse starting to wrap you up in a swaddle and I felt like screaming NO DO NOT HAND HIM TO US SAVE HIM I NEED YOU SAVE HIM, YOU HAVE TO SAVE HIM…

Yesterday, it feels like we were just holding you and feeling your heartbeat while you laid on us for two hours, just you, me and mom…the chaos of over a dozen people in the room eviscerated, and it was just the three of us, in complete silence. No more monitors, no more beeping, no more whirring, just us and silence and GOD I DO NOT WANT THIS MOMENT TO END PLEASE YOU CAN INTERVENE THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO INTERVENE AND SAVE US I CAN’T BEAR THIS LOSS, and watching you lay on your mothers chest with her smelling your little newborn head and tiny patches of hair and rub your tiny arms and hands and feet. You smelled just like a newborn and you had all the features of a normal kid but wow you were so tiny so so tiny but so close, we were so close and WHY THE FUCK IS THIS HAPPENING SOMEONE HELP ME SOMEONE STOP THIS…

Yesterday, when two hours later at 2:10am where your heart stopped beating. And I was devastated…I walked downstairs as a mess to get outside, and found a guy sitting outside the hospital where I took a cigarette from him and with tears still pouring down my cheeks I inhaled deeply with devastation.

It feels like Yesterday, when we had a final few hours with you and passed you back to the nurse for the last time we would see you, and I can feel you right now swaddled and me holding you and my passing you back to mom one last time and WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING…MY GOD I AM STILL BEGGING YOU TO REACH DOWN AND SAVE HIM and hand you to your mom for one last visit, and then to the nurse to never see you again.

Yeah, it still feels like it was Yesterday. 12 years later. And I am still so raw. Broken. Angry. Sad. Hopeless. Somehow I’m also at peace. Content. Understanding. Trusting.

And I can’t explain it. I want to change it, I want you back and I want you back and…

Yet I still wouldn’t change it.

At moments it didn’t feel like God was there. But I know He was, and it happened as designed. I really believe that. Then, and now. Even though there are still times when it feels otherwise.

A few months after we lost you I was speaking with a guy who also lost a child shortly after birth. As we were talking at a certain point his voice trailed off, and as he was looking in the distance he said quietly “I lost my kid over ten years ago and people say it gets easier…but it never does.”

Today feels more like yesterday than yesterday ever did.

Happy Birthday buddy. I miss you so much. You have no idea. We all do.





No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all season. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

The Ironman First Timers List

Ironman pic for blog

The longer I wait at this point, the more I’ll forget. So I wanted to write down a hit list of all the things I learned throughout my process of training for an Ironman triathlon. This includes a list of things I learned in preparation for, and during, the event. It is ALL jumbled together. Good luck sorting it out.

My caveats:

1). My knowledge is limited. If you haven’t done an Ironman, I still might not have more knowledge than you. So go get your own info and test this stuff out. I am NOT an expert. I am an average dude who two years ago was 50 lbs overweight and had never even run a marathon. I completed Ironman Coeur d’Alene with VERY limited time to work out, and a VERY full time gig. I you’re debating whether you can do it, you probably can. The fat kid in me is cheering you on. I hope a few things in here I learned along the way help you out.

2. I have no idea from where I am puling this info at this point, b/c I read so much and asked questions of many along the way–and received great advice. So I am quite sure little of the below is original thought, it is stuff I either learned through personal experience, or more likely what I learned from others.

Here’s my list. In no particular order:

1. If you’re debating doing a triathlon, sign up and do it. Do not wait for some magical moment. Pick one reasonably far out, but not too far out. And just get going. Most shit doesn’t get done because people don’t ever really commit. The other reason shit doesn’t get done is that people commit and then fail to execute. So, it’s really this simple. 1. Commit. 2. Execute. Sorry, I really wish I could complicate it some more. But I can’t.

2. If you can get a coach, get one. (I didn’t). If not, be prepared to read, research, and do some trial and error. Learn what works with your body. Yes, my eyes rolled too when I hear people say that. But it’s true.

3. There are some great triathlon books, one I skimmed was something something triathlon something Bible. By someone. Or something like that. Just check out Amazon reviews and googling for great books. I did a ton of very rapid fire reading across the Inter-web, grabbed the stuff that made sense and passed on the rest.

4. Ditch some advice that doesn’t sit right along the way. If I’d listened to all the “experts”, I wouldn’t have made it through my training (got really sick w/ flu and couldn’t work out for three weeks about 12 weeks prior to IM, and several experts said if you miss more than a week of training altogether you should bail). Obviously, I didn’t listen to that portion of advice.

5. But generally heed advice of experts. I got way more good advice than bad. And ask a lot of IM’ers questions. Not just experts, even people that only did a few Ironman events–because sometimes their learnings and advice was markedly different, and in some ways equally as helpful, as the “experts.”

6. Nutrition is super killer key on race day. Begin prepping for this using your long training day and mimic what you’ll eat on race day–from when you wake up until the end of the day. Start this months prior to your Ironman.

7. My typical “long training” Saturday food consisted of: egg-banana-yam-baked-stuff (more below) around 5am…Getting your early calories in on IM day is CRITICAL, b/c when you’re out you’re largely out. Body can only process about 300 calories (incoming) an hour on the bike, and about 100 kCals (incoming) on the run. And that day you’re going to burn about 15-20k calories. So you’d better have a lot stored up. But don’t also overeat, esp prior to the swim. That can suck.

8. My Ironman breakfast thingy is this recipe: one can coconut milk, 12 eggs, 3 bananas, 1-2 (already baked) garnet yams, honey to taste + some splenda, and 1/2 cup to 1 cup coconut flakes all blended together and then baked into a loaf, meh 375-ish for 60-mins ish? It’s a great loading dose of protein, carbs, and fats. Super high calorie. NOTE, I didn’t eat ALL of this on training day. I’d make a loaf of it for the week and eat slices in the morning. I love this recipe. I might not have all the measurements right above, I pretty much just eyeball things and adjust to taste/consistency. You can opt out of the yams and it’s still great, but I like garnet yams.

9. Carbo-Pro + Cytomax were beverage staples of mine on the long bike ride (supplements to my water bottles). Other items: Honey Stinger waffles (not Paleo), dried fruit, almond butter and jelly sandwich on gluten-free bread (one before and midpoint on ride), bananas, and bonk breakers are the single best source of kCals I found for the bike.

10. Get a bento box for your bike. I didn’t even know what this WAS or that they even EXISTED up until 12 days before my Ironman. I learned it from a local expert (who REALLY IS an expert and amazing Ironman competitor).

11. Get fitted for your bike. It should be less than $100. Do this before you do all your training, or a lot of it. Do it even if you’re a month out. But don’t wait until you’re a month out.

12. Learn fundamentals and form for all three sports, particularly swimming. Join a Masters Swim program, but much better than that is to take a Total Immersion course. I would NEVER have finished the 2.4 mile swim without Total Immersion. Game changer for me. Two beat kick. If you don’t know what this is, it will CHANGE YOUR SWIM dramatically. And for the better. Google it.

12.5. (yes, I just did a 12.5) Join an Ironman Facebook group. Ideally, there is a group of people in a closed forum on Facebook for the event you’re participating in. I made some virtual friends that have turned into enduring ones, and learned a TON of great stuff along the way. And it was encouraging.

13. Check out Chi Running, 26.2 is a long time on your legs–esp after being in the water and bike for 8-12 hours (for us slow ones). It’s the training that wears your body out–so focus on form, and it’ll serve you on the day of the big event too.

14. The hardest part really isn’t finishing the Ironman, it’s finishing the consistent training required to get you to a level of fitness to do an Ironman. Yeah, the Ironman is a long day. And I am NOT at all undermining how hard it is to finish, there are probably a lot of Ironman finishers who would be pissed to think I’m suggesting otherwise. But, the Ironman is just one day. And it’s backed up, largely, by your training. Yes, IM day is a hard day. And amazing. And cathartic. But months of training are really what carry you. Though there’s a fair amount of mental mojo required on IM day too.

15. Create a checklist for Ironman day, and start working on it and putting stuff together a solid month out. You do NOT want to show up to your destination and have to figure stuff out or buy more things. I found checklists online. Look at a few of them then create your own or use one that looks solid. On that checklist, you should add one thing that will not be on any other checklists: do not get Gorilla Glue on your front brakes the night before Ironman (yeah, that happened).

16. If your IM swim is in cold water, you REALLY SHOULD do some cold water swimming beforehand. Your CNS, when cold water hits your forehead, will start to go into a state of shock. It’s very difficult to pull yourself out of this, your heart rate rises and you naturally start hyperventilating…this happened to me the 1st time I swam in the SF Bay (my first open water swim ever, four weeks prior to the IM). The temperature, open murky water, waves, along with a vigorous swim just creates a tough environment. I assumed this would happen to me, because I’d read about it. But I also believed that I would be able to talk myself through it. Which proved difficult to do. The only way I got adjusted was to get my body used to cold water swimming through frequency, and eventually my body got used to it. Plus, training in 52-55 degree murky SF saltwater was WAY tougher than a 62 degree lake swim (though the swim was in rough waters that day, wasn’t prepped for that).

17. Paleo. I’m a huge fan of Paleo. When I’m on the Paleo wagon, I feel as strong as a….Caveman (see what I did there?). But you’ll have to supplement, you need SOME carbs. I added white rice and white potatoes to my diet, and garnet yams–I eat those with almond butter all the time. And Taro bubble tea…because, well, Taro is a root, and somehow this is in someway tied to Paleo. And I love it. There, I said it. I love bubble tea.

Also–get your body fat down. Not too low, you need enough storage of kCals. But anything in excess is a serious penalty for your time, joints, etc. I was at about 9% body fat, maybe 9.5% on Ironman day, which was fine. In retrospect I wish I’d worked harder to drive down to about 7-8%, but I got as close as I could.

18. Do a triathlon or two before your Ironman. For me, the Ironman was my first ever triathlon. This is not the best idea, but apparently I am full of “not the best idea” ideas, and this was the way I wanted to do it.

19. Schedule everything. And I mean everything. And I got off schedule, of course. But having a schedule ensured I was more on than off. And kept me focused. When I got off schedule I simply revised my schedule. And I did nothing social for most of my training. I worked. A lot. I worked out. Some. I slept. Some.

20. Quit drinking. Yes, really. You don’t have to. But I felt like I ran a lot cleaner free of alcohol, and a big part of my training focus was maximization of efficiency. Drinking is overrated anyways.

21. When doing swim training, watch some Mandy McDougal videos on YouTube. Especially the one on breathing. You actually WANT to keep some air in your lungs, it’s what keeps you buoyant.

22. Wear two caps if you’re swimming in cold water. Ideally a neoprene one underneath your other cap.

23. Don’t add anything new 2-3 weeks prior to your IM. NOTHING. No new shoes, cap, wetsuit, bike, socks. Nada.

24. Get your bricks in, one a week. I don’t think you need to do more.

25. You can’t win on the swim. But you can lose on it. Make sure you get enough yardage in so that you can finish the swim comfortably.

26. BUT, after you’ve trained enough on the swim to know you can finish comfortably, spend as much time as you can on your bike. That bike is one long ass ride. Speaking of asses, yours will be in some serious pain at the end of the ride.

People asked me “so what’s it like to be starting a MARATHON after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles?” You know what the honest answer is? Ummmm, flipping AWESOME. Yeah. Awesome. To be able to run–even if you have to run a marathon–after being on a bike generating this condition called “raw butt” for 6-10 hours is simply unbeatable. After 112 on the bike, you will be THAT PSYCHED to be starting your run.

Not because you love running. But because at that point, you hate biking. Hate.

27. Supplement long rides with spin classes. I went to spin once or twice a week. And I did one long ride on weekends. That was the extent of my biking prep for most part. Could never get out of work in time to do a decent road ride during week. And I never did enough biking. This was my weakness.

28. Be prepared to wake early. I did a lot of my workouts from 5:00-7:00am. Did I mention you’ll have no personal life during your training time?

29. Pack a fresh change of clothes in your Bike to Run transition bag. Remember, I told you this list was going to be a combination of training tips AND in-race tips, and it’s totally mashed together? Sorry.

30. Use salt tabs on the bike ride, the ones without caffeine. Caffeine has a useful life of only about 4-6 hours. For energy and recovery I used a product I love called LifeShotz (note, I am one of their Advisors…also note, I do not care whether you use it or not).

31. Drop the glow sticks at the finish if you’re finishing at night on IM day, it’ll mess up your picture. 🙂

32. Start slow on race day. It is easy to burn through your glycogen fast and early. It’s a super long day, save it.

33. However, if you get to be a decent swimmer, do not start too slow. I thought it would be better for me to try to pace with the 1:15-1:30 group for the swim. Huge mistake. Because I am a bad swimmer? No. Because you will be situated with 1,000 other bad swimmers. Plus yourself. I could’ve swam a 1:10 pace, I should’ve swam with the 1:00-1:15 crowd. The 1:15-1:30 swimming crowd is like a bar fight at an irish pub.

34. Hydrate enough. But don’t over hydrate. But hydrate enough. 🙂

35. Yeah, it’s okay to pee in your wetsuit. When it is cold out, it also feels good. #truth

36. They also say it’s okay to pee on your bike. In my mind, this is only okay if you are attempting to do a sub-12 Ironman. #thatisalsomytruth There is something wrong about someone who is biking very slowly on the Ironman, to simply take a leak on said bike to save 30-seconds from stopping.

37. You can pee on the run in your shorts. But same applies above. Though, I will say that for my first marathon ever I missed a sub 4 by 33 seconds due to a last min bathroom stop. I still wish I’d peed in my shorts. But I can’t quite get the hang of this, plus I’m too vain.

38. Don’t overtrain. Seriously, two weeks out start tapering. And if you overtrain to point of injury then you’re in trouble. So train. Hard. Don’t overtrain. #seriouslydonotovertrain

39. CrossFit. I did this 2-3x/week as part of my training. I’m a fan. Not everybody is, but it’s changed my life. If you do CrossFit, though, do lighter weights and higher reps. And stop CrossFitting 1-2 weeks prior to your event, or if you go within days of the event use REALLY light weights and do not push yourself to the max.

40. Bodyglide for the wetsuit where you will chafe. If you forget body glide, you will pay the price around your neck that week.

41. Take a dramamine before your long swims, do it race day too.

42. Know how to change your bike tire. And make sure you carry at least two spares on race day, and one in your half way bag.

43. You need a day of rest. Pick a day and take it. Mine was a “floating” rest day during week. Not the best thing to do, but I needed to do it that way out of necessity. Better to pick a Monday and rest that day after a hard training weekend, or only do light active recovery stuff.

44. Get enough sleep. Nutrition and sleep are really vital throughout this entire process. You are taxing your body to high levels, you need to get reasonable sleep.

45. GU w/ amino’s for the run…I carry five with me for a marathon, one before it starts then one every 45-mins thereafter. And I alternate water and Gatorade at each of the stops.

46. On the bike, use higher gears and maintain a high cadence–about 90 RPM. Lower gears burn your leg muscles faster.

47. You will likely feel really bad during the Ironman. Expect this. And keep going. Or pull over to regroup. Just don’t stop permanently.

48. Did I mention yet that nutrition on race day is super critical? I wrote out my meal plan for training days and IM days MONTHS before the event.

49. Incorporate a protein drink into your daily workout life…I generally used whey at least once a day after tough workouts (SFH and GNC brands), but I also used a LifeShotz product called LS Vibe for recovery and overnight muscle repair.

50. During your Ironman, thank people. And say hi. I must’ve talked to 50 people during the event, and said hi to 500. Especially the volunteers. It motivated me, but also keep in mind these volunteers are just that–so extend some authentic appreciation. They’re giving up their entire day (plus days prep beforehand) so you can have your day. Thank them. I was really inspired by all the people there.

51. Carry ibuprofen. At mile 15 on the run, you will wish it were T3. Or even morphine. But, ibuprofen will do if you find yourself in a jam.

52. Remember, swimming is largely technique. Learn technique first, then you can limit your swim sessions. And focus on the bike.

53. Bank time on the bike (intentionally repeating myself). Get an indoor trainer to use if needed. The swim you can nail with good technique and limited hours in the pool. Biking time and performance and training also translates and carries over to the run. Running doesn’t help nearly as much with the bike. So if in doubt, train the bike.

54. Do a few Century rides prior to your IM. Note, I didn’t. The most I did in advance were a few 80-90 milers. If I had the time, and could do it again, I’d do about five 120 mile rides prior to the event. But if you can’t log that kind of time, no sweat. You’ll be fine. At least one Century would benefit you. There’s a big difference between miles 90 and 112.

55. Don’t get sick in training (again, sleep). DEFINITELY do whatever you can to avoid getting sick the week of your Ironman. I drank copious amount of elderberry syrup the week before the Couer d’Alene Ironman. And I stayed away from anyone that looked anything short of super healthy.

56. You’re going to hate it.

57. You’re going to love it.

58. Once you finish, you won’t be the same.

Enjoy the journey.










No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

My First (and Last) Ironman Attempt

Ironman Raz

June of 2012 was a super magical month for me, it was when I finally decided to get my fat self in shape. I’d always wanted to run a marathon, and for years it evaded me due to lots of things that turned out just to be mostly excuses. But I was set on giving it another go; that month a friend sent me a marathon training plan, and I took my nearly 250 pounds of Lithuanian awesome and started running. Initially, just a few V-E-R-Y  S-L-O-W  miles at a time, gradually working my way up. Months later I got involved in CrossFit and started eating strict Paleo. That December I finished the Sacramento International Marathon (and missed a sub 4-hour by 33 seconds, ahhh that last bathroom stop!).

That night I remember thinking to myself “could it even be possible to complete an Ironman someday?” Two years later I’m making my first–and last–Ironman attempt at the Coeur d’Alene Ironman on June 29th.

My goal is really simple: to finish in 17-hours.

A close friend asked me “So what’s the deal–why are you doing this?” The answer is pretty simple: because I have to prove something to myself.

Some of it I can’t fully explain, but part of it has to do with having been out of shape for so many years and proving to myself that I can stay in shape, and part of it has to do with setting a goal that for years I never dreamed doable and accomplishing it.

Two weeks out and here’s how I feel:

1. Nervous about the swim. Four months ago I really just started my swimming, and in retrospect that was way too late–I just procrastinated on this one because I was so bad. Really bad. I hadn’t swam laps since I was probably 10 years old. The best advice I got from others was to join a Master’s Swim class and also do a Total Immersion program, both of which I’ve done along with regular swimming and some open water swims. I’m still terrible. Like, imagine Charles Barkley and how he says “Turrible” That’s how bad I am. However, I have gotten better and have done some decent mileage and think I’m ready to finish this portion–and I’m eager for my feet to hit the sand after completing the 1st leg of the event and get to the bike. Because I’m nervous about that, too. Oh, and the run.

2. Partly wishing I’d done at least one other triathlon prior to this. Just to get a sense of what I’m doing, how hard the accumulative effort is, how to transition, fueling throughout the race, etc. But I’m partly psyched this is my first one as well. Also, I’ve watched a few YouTube videos. That’s pretty much like having done a few tri’s, right?

3. Feeling undertrained–yet ready. I read one persons blog post after her Ironman race report saying “if you can’t dedicate 20-25 hours a week to training, then you shouldn’t be doing this.” Ummmm, I run a start-up company and work pretty brutal hours–so that’s not happening. But I talked to others who worked Ironman training into their calendar with a very disciplined training and intensive workouts. That’s what I’ve tried to do, and I made a commitment going into this not to cut into work priorities–so I’ve either missed workouts or simply taken the time from sleep or personal time to get training done. And for most of my life, the busier I have been (within reason) the better I’ve performed. It forces me to be hyper-disciplined and eliminate distractions. All that being said, I have worked out a lot–this isn’t something I’m just trying on a whim and hoping for the best, but I definitely had limitations on my time.

4. Lusting after some epic bike gear. Like an Aero helmet, and a full carbon tri bike. However, here’s the reality: when you have stuff like that, it’s better to be good at riding. There are few things more humbling than doing one of your practice rides in your full tri gear on your decent-enough road bike and there you are pedaling away at a good clip–and then a guy 20-years older than passes by wearing parachute pants and birkentstocks whilst riding a beach cruiser and whistling “Sunshine on my Shoulders” by John Denver. Yes, there’s some hyperbole in there–but I’ve had a few things happen like that not too far off. 🙂

5. Grateful. Regardless the outcome, I’m deeply grateful. I am thankful to a God who has given me the physical ability to get in shape and enjoy the privilege of working out–it really is a gift, and I wish I hadn’t squandered it for so long. I am thankful to my family who has tolerated not seeing me much during this training period (in addition to start-up life), and also a lot of friends who I owe an overdue catch-up. Finally, I’m thankful for the many people who have provided advice and encouragement along the way. If (when) I finish, I hope those people realize that they had a significant hand in helping me with this accomplishment, and for that I am genuinely grateful.

Finally, if you’re interested there will be a live race report the day of the event starting at 7am PT on the Ironman website that you can watch by clicking here:


Bottom of page there’s a “Live Race Report” that will be active on Sunday, June 29th with a link you follow and enter in my IM number which is 1973, coincidentally also the year of my birth. Yes, I’m 40. And yes, perhaps that also had something to do with this. 🙂

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

“Be the Ball, Danny. Be the Ball…”


I really suck at swimming, though I didn’t fully realize it until I started trying to swim laps about 4-5 months ago. At the urging of some fitness friends, who knew I had a specific goal in mind, I decided to sign up for a Master’s Swim class about ten weeks ago. Master’s Swim is a group of people who regularly train together with a coach. In the last few years, I can think of no other thing that I have been absolutely worse at for which I’ve tried to improve, and I’ve actually loved the experience of this. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

1. If you’re lousy at something and you really care most about improving, you might as well get that out in the open…

During the last ten weeks I’ve had four different coaches. The way I’ve introduced myself to them was nearly identical: “Hey, my name is Raz. This is my goal of XYZ. I absolutely suck at swimming, I’m fully aware of it. I need your help, so whatever you tell me to do, I’ll do. And I don’t want you to go easy on me or hold anything back.” I found this to be so freeing, I could bypass everything and get right to the baseline. The result was that I generally receive a disproportionate share of coaching, a) because I needed it, and b) because I practically begged for it from the get go.

2. You might have drunk people (okay, fine–person, singular) in your swim class…

I hardly think this is normative, but it’s so bizarre to me I can hardly not mention it. And it’s not really a learning, more of an amusing anecdote. I usually swim very early in the morning before work, but about once a week I’ll go to the class that starts in the evening. Last week, two minutes into jumping in the pool, I basically smelled a beer hall. I look over and a guy a lane over, whom I’ll call Oktoberfest, had consumed more than a beer or two. It was confirmed midway through the class when Oktoberfest yelled out “Hey guys, don’t worry about me over here–just burning off some alcohol!”

Incidentally, he pretty much kicked my ass during the entire class. Drinking and swimming is a bad idea, obviously. But it’ll go down as one of my more memorable classes.

3. Uncoachable people with a bitter edge are an absolute drag to the group and set their own rate limiter…

A woman jumped into our class one week and she was a prior swimmer who had taken time off and for some reason lost her swimming mojo. I don’t even really know what that means, and also didn’t  understand whatever dynamics she was dealing with (I was dealing with my own hot mess), but net net what happened is that she destroyed the dynamics of the class in about seven minutes. She said she wanted coaching, she became irritated with instruction, she kevetched and moaned about how frustrated she was, and towards the end of the class each time she spoke it was nails on a chalkboard. And the coach quit giving her instruction. She left before the session even ended in a huff. People like that are vibe killers. And they often top out very prematurely, regardless their natural talent.

4. There’s this thing called the two-beat kick…

And I’m not even going to try to explain it, but when you learn it then it’s magic. By “magic” I don’t mean I’m even a marginal swimmer at this point. But it’ll change how you swim, your breathing, the stroke rate, comfort. The net net on this is that fundamentals matter. Hugely. The first six weeks I felt like I kept going backwards, but what I was doing was unlearning how I’d always swam, and was trying to apply proper technique and fundamentals. Which is more important when there’s more friction. Water is 1,000 times more resistant than air. I’ve never taken a running lesson, and perhaps I should. But I knew the fundamentals in swimming play a more important role (for me) than running. Friction is one of the underlying reasons. For me I think there’s a lot of life application here. You can’t get better at everything. So when isolating and prioritizing, often it helps to take those items you want to improve in that also carry the greatest amount of friction. It’s not the only variable to evaluate, but it’s a big one.

5. You will run into A-holes, but DO NOT let that throw you off…

There are hidden “cliques” (there are other words I could use) everywhere. In the last two years as I have gotten in better shape, I have noticed a strange phenomenon where in gyms (not CrossFit, but in my “regular” unnamed gym) people are much friendlier to me then when I was the fat kid trying to get in shape. Even outside of the gym, when I go on long runs to Woodside I’ll probably have 10-15 bikers or serious runners go by and give me the thumbs up as I’m running. That never happened when I was fat. For the most part, only fat people acknowledged me. So here’s I’m in somewhat the reverse in this Master’s Swim program. At one point a few weeks ago a woman yelled at me during training, because she felt I made some type of “illegal takeover maneuver” as she was gabbing at the wall during a set.

Long story short, she pretty much needlessly unloaded on me in front of a lot of people. It was unjustified since I had a basis to pass, but honestly I didn’t even care. Emotionally, as that happened, it torqued me for a moment. I can see in a different place in my life if I weren’t so committed to this goal I would’ve been tempted to say “forget this” and throw in the towel–literally. But, I refused to let it bother me for more than two seconds, because any energy spent towards that just diluted my efforts, and I wasn’t about to let her screw up my plan.

It was a powerful reminder to me: don’t let people who can’t control their actions and emotions deter you from your goal, and there will be A-holes along the way that do this. It’s also a reminder to those who are on the “inside” of the swimming club, runners group, marathon, gym, or whatever to be more than aware of the people around you who are trying to get better. Especially the beginners.

It’s why I always try to say hi to the fat person running by. Because I’m also that same person. And I respect their determination.

6.  “Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball.” 

My second class the coach yelled out to me in the middle of a 50 and said “Raz! What’s going on? Are you comfortable in the water? Do you like the water? Raz! Are you fighting the water? Do the fish fight the water? Raz! Do you need to make peace with the water?!?!?!” I was looking around thinking to myself “Ahhhh, yeah man, I dig the water. I’m good with it. What are we talking about? Where am I? Why did I sign up for this? And why did I move to California?”

It sounded hippy dippy, but I said from the get go I was going to listen to all the instruction and really absorb it. Even if I didn’t get it. Well, surprise surprise, there IS something to being one with the water.  I started floating in the water and really consciously thinking about swimming with the water, rather than, well, slapping it. And fighting it.

Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Lessons Learned, Numero Tres

SF Marathon, Mile 18-ish
SF Marathon, Mile 18-ish

A few quick lessons learned from my latest marathon, which was really not a very good run, all for self-inflicted reasons. Some of my other running posts are here, herehere, and here.

These are all the things I learned not to do through my personal experience of making a mistake on each item below. If nothing else, there might be a few amusing anecdotes in here; for me it’s a living list to read through again at a later time.

1. Don’t enter the race fatigued.

The week of, you really do need to bank up the sleep. I couldn’t have changed it around anyways, as I had been on the road for most of the month prior to the marathon including a long Asia trip. If you can regulate your sleep when you travel you might be in good shape. I didn’t, and missed at least several nights during the week of the run. This is a straightforward fix.

2. Don’t forget to read your list.

Make a marathon check list, and READ IT in the morning. Sounds obvious. But, I was overly confident the morning of, grabbed my stuff, and went. I forgot several important things, perhaps most importantly I forgot rule number one from one of my earlier marathons. Tape your nipples. Which leads me to lesson number three.

3. Don’t try to be clever if you forget rule number one.

By “clever” I mean do not find packing tape at the starting line and tape your nipples. Well, that part might be okay. But if you do that do not then, at mile 13, because you’re wondering how the pictures are going to look with packing tape across your chest underneath your running shirt, take the tape off and run the remaining 13 miles with your chest that has remaining residue that’s stickier than the floor of a U-haul rental center. There are two types of people in the world. Those who have had that experience…and those who haven’t.

4. Don’t do anything new on marathon day.

Everyone says this. It seems SO LOGICAL. It should be an easy rule to follow, you know, like along the lines of “Don’t play out in the street” and “Keep your hand out of the blender.” But then you run two marathons in half a year and you’re a pro and suddenly you’re all like “I got this” and the best practices don’t apply any longer and you stick your hand in the blender. For this latest race I bought new shoes on the day of the race because going into SF Marathon I decided to drop to the half, and I brought a different type of training running shoe to run in. At check in I decided to run the full, and needed shoes. I also bought new Yurbuds, which I absolutely love. The shoes were totally not broken in, and this was just a bad decision. The Yurbuds were the wrong size, and fell out of my ears continuously. I must’ve put them back in 300 times during the run.

5. Don’t under train.

Perhaps obvious, but if you want to finish, and finish comfortably, you really have to put the miles in. I was reminded of this on my last marathon, thinking that despite very little training 45-days prior it would be easy as I’ve been CrossFitting more, lost another few % bodyfat, etc. But, nothing works like putting miles on your legs; at mile 17 or 18 your legs just don’t care how much you’ve been crossfitting, or how good the Kale nutribullet was from three days ago. Check out great programs from Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, and the Hansen Method are all winners. I’ve just bought the book and am training using Hansen for Chicago, my goal is to run a sub 3:30 which for me would be quite fast–but I have a TON of training to be able to get close to this and not a lot of time. Miles on the legs matter. Get your miles in.

6. Don’t go out too fast.

Marathoners say “run reverse splits” which is basically translates into “run the second half faster than the first half.” It is good advice. Everyone generally feels pretty good, if not amazing, the first few miles. Crowd energy, music, glycogen loading, fresh legs…it’s all a recipe for going out too fast. And remember that the first few miles you’re in a heat that is following a way-faster heat, so say you’re targeting to runs sub-nine minute miles then early on it’s easy to run those first few miles in the seven’s or even six’s Like ridic easy. Don’t do it. Save some gas.

7. Finally, don’t forget to fuel your muscles.

Glycogen load big time during the week. If you’re a Paleo eater you can still do this, sweet potatoes are perfect. And eat clean days before, and on the morning of make sure you’re consuming what you generally do prior to your longer runs (I usually take SFH pre-race with water, a banana with Justin’s honey-almond butter and drink a few low calorie G2 Gatorades with a several Nuun tabs dropped in each). For your nightly meal before, you could try something like my dinner before the SF marathon. I had fish tacos. Two beers. And some Tequila (it came with the beer). This will not go down as one of my better pre-marathon meals. And I forgot to glycogen load race morning by taking my GU Energy Gel’s 30-minutes pre-race or at mile five. By the time I took my first GU gel at mile 12 it was too late, and I couldn’t catch up on fueling my muscles, which became very–very–cranky around mile 15.



No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy 8th Birthday Buddy

Royce and Zoe Happy Birthday Cake
Throwback: Your Fourth Birthday Card from RoZo 🙂

Hi Levi.

Happy 8th Birthday.

This is my fifth letter in the series. The fourth one is here. Third one is here. Second one is here. And the first one is here.

When I sit down to do this every year, I never start by knowing what I’ll write. Today is no exception. I just try to go with my heart on it.

As the years have passed by, the annual communication from friends and family slowly faded on your birthday. Last year a handful of close friends and family reached out to me on March 26th to send a text, email, or call and just say hello. And I knew one year it would happen. I just didn’t know when.

Today was the first time in nine years that nobody reached out to me.

And I’m alright with it. Really, I am.

The omission of people reaching out doesn’t make me sad–life goes on, I completely get it. This is what’s supposed to happen, in fact I was surprised people remembered for as long as they did. It’s just that, well, today the chasm felt even more apparent. The real pain is that I don’t have you here, which is sometimes desensitized by distractions. All of those are temporary, and to some degree they keep me from dealing with the reality and sadness of your not being here. That I can’t see you. That I can’t talk to you. That I miss you.

Today I get to deal with it. And that’s okay.

Sunday night we celebrated your birthday, wrote you cards, and watched some sports we thought you’d have enjoyed. With very few exceptions, I’m not a sports fan anymore. And it just dawned on me, that perhaps some of my distance originated nine years ago around the time you left. I’m not sure if there is a tie. But I know there’s enough different about me now that you’re not here.

Everybody misses you terribly. Zoe sat in my arms at the end Sunday night, and we were two peas in a pod–both of us are generally more than restless, but that night we just laid there and talked about you and the things that remind us of you. Mom, Royce, and Zoe all say hi. And we all wish we could give you a big hug.

Some years I’ve told stories about the family or detailed our events. Today’s letter, however, is one I wanted to write between you and me. If God could’ve loaned you to me today for a few hours, here’s what I would have done (note, I wrote this in the context of it being just a father/son day, but what I really would’ve wanted to do would be to have a family day with you):

I’d take you to the Ocean.

On the way, I would stop by a Starbucks. I’d show you how to properly customize a drink order, with a degree of being extra particular. Afterwards, we’d go to the grocery store next door, and grab some coconut water, kefir, and kombucha. Because those that know me know I usually have 3-4 different drinks going at the same time.

We would drive together in my car, and I would tell you all about my affliction for Mercedes Benz’s and show you little things like design, construction, and how they’re built. It wouldn’t be based around material vanity, it would be a chance for me to share you something that I dig, to teach you little things, and how you can learn about excellence through the observation and experience of great things that other people have built.

I’d make you sip my coffee. You’d spit it out. I’d then convince you to try Kefir. You’d probably hate that too. The coconut water would be a toss up. And I wouldn’t even subject you to kombucha. But I would have secretly bought you a hot chocolate as well, and after you were done entertaining my little “Hey, okay Levi, taste this one now and let me know what you think!” I’d make sure to give you something that I know you’d really love.

On the way, I’d ask you 1,000 questions. Probably, after the fifth question, you’d be all impatient and say “Dad, seriously?!?!?!” But I’d still ask anyways. I’d do my typical “okay okay, just wait one more question…” However large your impatience would be as a Raz, I can assure you, my tenacity to keep asking questions would be stronger still. Another Raz tendency.

I’d want to hear about what you love, the things you think about, sports you enjoy, what you have learned, what you want to do. I’d want to get to know you for who you are, and how you think. We would talk, share stories, and laugh. You likely have inherited my silly laugh. Which sometimes becomes uncontrollable, though most often at my own jokes since I find myself quite hilarious. So, clearly, you would find me equally hysterical and witty, And I you.

We’d arrive at the Ocean and I’d park the car. You would start getting out, and I would watch your little hands pull on the inside handle and I’d realize that it would be the first and only time I’d ever see you do that, because, after all, I’d only have you for a few hours. You would get out of the car, and shut the door, and I’d sit there for a few seconds alone with a tear streaming down my cheek. Happy.

We would walk the beach together. I’d make you take your shoes off, so you could feel what sand between your toes is like. And I’d put my arm around you, and tussle my hand through your long hair. Because, of course, in California you can’t have short hair. And not by the Ocean. Especially if you someday hope to be a surfer.

And during our time on the beach, there are just a few things I’d want to be sure to do:

Show you how to throw and catch a football. Yes, I know Tom Landry is up there in heaven with you as well, but you’d just have to tolerate my instruction as well.

Ensure you know how proud I am of you, and how grateful I am for you. As strange as this sounds, there is a creation of you that I understand and extends far beyond the few hours you were alive. I don’t expect anybody else to understand this, but I’d want to make sure that you knew how much you changed my life. And how very proud of you that I am. Will always be.

And, finally, I’d want to make sure you know that I love you unconditionally. For who you are and nothing else. There are very few, if any, times I have ever felt this in my life from another person. And none that are enduring. Unfortunately, I think this is the case with most people. I would want you to know what it feels like to be loved no matter what. Regardless of whether you loved me back. Irrespective of how you looked. Despite what you may be, or may not be, good at doing. I’d want you to know I loved you just for you, exactly the way you are. Because I do.

I’m sure the hours with you would fly by; and since I won’t get the chance to share this with you in person, I hope that you can somehow get the message. Not about the Mercedes Benz. Or the customized coffee. Or even how to throw a football.

The one about how much I love you.

No. Matter. What.

Thanks for coming into our life. Even if for such a brief time. I miss you terribly. We all do.

Happy 8th Birthday Buddy.




Royce and Zoe

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doc. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good heartiness, its doubtless significant for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

100 Failures: My (former) Fat Self

Just before today’s body fat test

In 2007 I weighed 240lbs and had a body fat of about 25%.

Publicly, I set a goal to be at 15% body fat within one-year. For five years, I ebbed and flowed on this (aka failed), got as close as 18%, but as of one year ago I was back to 240lbs and 25%. I tried and failed 100 times.

Over five years later, today I finally achieved a goal I have been chasing for a long time–results towards end of post. A quick note: this is not intended to be “hey look at me look at me I’m doing great” (I also don’t think that either, btw). It’s the opposite in many ways, it’s about 100 failures over five years. For too long I was: Overweight. Undisciplined. Frustrated. I’ve also justified it to myself. Lots of travel. Running companies, including two start-ups. Bad metabolism. Not enough time. Unmotivated. Bad genes. Whatever.

Pic of me and my dad after one of my last college football games. Basically until this year it was all downhill for 15-years after this picture was taken. As you’ll see in the next photo…

And I have failed 100 times in the process of achieving my goal. Many of you have done far better physically than I ever will, and for that I’m inspired, but others face the frustrations I do. So I want to share a quick story about 100 failures in the event that it might spur you on to keep trying yourself. And it’s a reminder to me for the months and years to come–so I don’t backtrack. Because I could easily fall back, I’m cautiously writing this.

Since college, for most of those years, I have been fat. It’s painful to even write it, but it’s true. Some people might politely say “well no, really you weren’t fat” but some of the pictures below prove otherwise. And I know better. Which is one reason why this is a really humbling post for me to write.

Ugh! So hard to even post this one, but that’s me at my heaviest not that many years after my college football picture above. But look at that cute kid! Don’t look at the fat guy, look at that cute kid!!! 🙂

I remember a philosophy class in college when a prof was having a debate with a good friend of mine (RR, we’re still going to do a radio or TV show together someday!) and they were debating the definition of fat in a philosophical context.

“So, really, then, what is being fat? How do you even know you are fat?” the prof whimsically asked, to which my buddy quickly replied “Because I’ve seen myself naked.” It was a funny line, but that’s true for a lot of us. I had many “aha” moments in addition to seeing myself naked over the years.

  • 15-years ago, the first season of the Bachelorette (my wife was addicted to this show, not me!), I remember all the women at the office talking about how they all loved “the fat guy” who was a contestant. When I saw the show I realized something…I was fatter than “the fat guy.”
  • 10-years ago, when I went to my doctor and was fishing for a cheap and easy Rx solution and he said “So, you’re telling me you’re a fat ass who can’t control what he eats and you want a prescription to help with that? I don’t think so.” (yes, verbatim).
  • Five-years ago, when I was an Exec at a nutritional/wellness company, and one of our distributors, also a doctor, said to me “Look Raz, you’re running this Wellness company, and the truth is you are a fat ass and you need to get in shape.” (yes, absolutely true and verbatim as well).
  • There are many others. But these have stuck with me over the years and have helped build this yin and yang of driving me to ultimately change enough behaviors to get into better shape; but I had to want it for myself. Which is what happened a year ago, with a boost about four-months back.
One year ago, at what was a pretty typical weight for me for most of last five years. In the last year Erica has lost 20lbs and looks fantastic! Royce and Zoe, however, are still gaining weight. (they’re 9 and 10 🙂 )

Here are the numbers:

Ten-years ago, I weighed–UGH I CAN HARDLY WRITE THIS–275 lbs. This was my heaviest. I have no idea what my body fat % was at the time. But I do remember I was REALLY awesome at floating in water. Like, truly gifted.

12-months ago, I weighed 240 with 25% body fat. I started lifting, doing some cardio, saw a trainer a bit, and tried to eat more carefully but I wasn’t intensive about it. I still fell into the “Obsese” category based on most guidelines.

Four-months ago, I was down to 220 with 20% body fat. Generally considered “Average.”

Today, I weighed 206 with a BF of 14.3%, FINALLY under my 15% goal. Over five years later.

How’d I do it? First, I failed a lot. 100 times. Tried almost everything except the Shake Weights–those things are ridiculous! Lots could have worked, I just didn’t stick with it. Partly b/c I was undisciplined and I didn’t want it enough. Partly b/c I just didn’t find stuff that worked for me. And partly b/c I didn’t really grasp some key fundamentals.

One of the fundamentals is simple, perhaps obvious, but I never bought into it. And it’s this: You lose fat in the kitchen. Not the gym.

It really is 80% diet. Working out helps build lean muscle mass, helpful to burning fat, increasing metabolic rate, general fitness, and more. But if you want to lose weight, if you want to lose fat, those results happen inside, not outside, the house.

So here’s what I did: (and I’m not suggesting you should do this, it’s just what worked for me)

1. Eating: I got my eating in order: My nutritional/eating plan was strict Paleo. I absolutely love this, and can’t recommend it enough. Try it for 45-days. It’s not for everyone, but this worked fantastically well for me. This was 80% of my success. I allowed myself up to three cheat meals a week–and you need to take at least one or two, so you don’t deprive yourself. But I was pretty disciplined otherwise. And the last month I have been consistently using the Nutribullet. It’s magic. Worth checking out.

CIM marathon pre-race

2. Running: I started running and training for the Sacramento marathon, I’d run 2-3 days a week. Perhaps this sounds aggressive or you have no desire to run a marathon, that’s fine. Do some form of cardio 3x/week.

3. CrossFitting: Erica and I started CrossFit three months ago, three times a week. Apart from some travel, I missed very few workouts. What I love about Crossfit is there’s a regimen, there’s a coach, the groups are small, there’s a team element, and it’s done in one-hour. Plus most adhere to Paleo, so there’s more support for the diet. I love a LOT about CrossFit. There are some things that annoy me about CrossFit as well. But, I refused to let the few things annoy me get in the way of an overall great solution.

During this time, I also used a FitBit scale to measure my changes in body fat, but took a baseline body fat test using the Hydrostatic method (dunk tank) which is by far the most accurate measure, I used the LoseIt food app until I got disciplined, and I fanatically used–and still do–my NikePlus app for all my running. I also supplemented with shakes, but really learned that whole foods are better so I only used protein shakes post aggressive work outs–and only grass fed, free range whey protein. Finally, I consumed copious amounts of fish oil, by far the best I have found is from SFH (Stronger, Faster, Healthier).

To supplement my meals, often as a replacement or as a recovery protein at night, I used LifeShotz Vibe, which is a slower absorbing protein powder that helps increase the feelings of satiety–but also includes branch chain amino acids, which makes it particularly beneficial to consume at night and to let your body digest and absorb it while sleeping as a part of recovery.

You might think “well, that’s a ton of work and I’m not ready to CrossFit or run a marathon!” to which I’d offer two responses:

1. You don’t need to. The weight loss workout is battled out IN THE KITCHEN. It’s 80% what you eat. I don’t care how much you work out, food wins this war. For years, even when I worked out, I failed repeatedly at the food part of this. Which is the primary reason why I’ve failed 100 times. I thought that the battle was the one hour I was working out a day. Wrong! It’s actually the other 23-hours when you’re not working out, and are possibly eating the wrong stuff.

2. While it did help accelerate my goals, eating Paleo and being in such a calorie deficit made it a bit more challenging for me as well. I was running so much I was often hungry. And, I was burning so many more calories than I was taking in, I think it made my Crossfit, and particularly running, much more challenging. You should work out, but you don’t need to go crazy. Don’t expect overnight results, either. Set incremental goals so you can win along the way. And allow yourself a few cheat meals each week. But don’t get lazy and start cheating daily. If you aren’t losing weight, something is wrong with your diet. E.g., you are eating too much. 🙂

And even if you’ve failed 100 times, keep trying, keep trying, keep trying!

It’s so easy to get frustrated and give up. In the process of the last five years, I’ve even had some fitness people tell me “Hey Raz, maybe your body just wasn’t designed to be that lean” which would’ve been a nice out. But it was also BS, I knew it. They probably just felt badly for me. But don’t ever let others let you off the hook or give you an out to achieving your goals. Pick a plan. Stick with it. Execute. I appreciated far more the doctor that called me a “fatass” because a) it was true, and b) he really wanted to help me–even if it hurt him to say it, and me to hear it.

After hitting my goal, am I totally satisfied?

Well, kind of… 🙂

I’m thrilled to achieve it, was a total rush to see the numbers this morning after so many years of attempts and the last year of more intensively working at it. But, it’s funny, I don’t look as lean as I thought I would. And, I still wouldn’t feel confident running with my shirt off, which was my other (vain) goal–and not so others could look at me and say “wow, that guy is in great shape” but so I could simply feel good about being leaned up. Even if I get there someday, I PROMISE I will not be that obnoxious dude who prances around with his shirt off during or after running. If I ever do that, please punch me. Repeatedly. Instead, I will run on obscure roads where there are no people in sight. I just want to be able to do it for me.

So today I’ll let myself be excited for finally achieving something that evaded me for years, and on my 101st attempt with help from a lot of people along the way, Paleo foodies, other runners, and CrossFitters (particularly the San Mateo Team Elite gym).

But tomorrow, I’m back on the circuit to work towards my new body fat goal by April 2nd: Below 9%

101 thanks to each of you who have encouraged me along the way.

P.S. One final story, which helps keep any ego in check. A month ago I was at a 49’ers game and met another CEO of a start-up. He’s sitting next to me, and the whole game he’s saying “Man, you look like someone famous and I can’t figure it out!”

Twenty minutes later, he blurts out “THAT’S IT! I GOT IT. Matthew Mcconaughey! You look like that guy.” (I realize I look nothing like him, but it’s better than the Huey Lewis and the News I was told the night before).

So I said to him, “Think so?”

And he’s like, “YES! You look like a…CHUBBY VERSION of Matthew Mcconaughey!” So knowing I was going to lose another ten pounds, I said to him “Well, how much do you think I’d have to lose to NOT be a chubby version of him?”

He responds, “Look man, you don’t understand, you can’t change it, it’s in your face it’s not something you can lose. It’s not a bad thing…” Alas, I will probably always have chubby cheeks, but here’s to trying to get rid of them–and a constant dose of humility. 🙂

Today’s results


No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all day. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

10 Seconds ’till Chaos

On Tuesday I was in San Francisco for a meeting at One Market Plaza, followed by others in the area then back to One Market.

As I arrived the in city (lower case, always always lower case–only NYC should get the capitalization) the place was chaos. Pre San Francisco Giants parade prep and antics, I figured. So I parked, started walking to One Market Plaza, and saw that it had effectively been quarantined. There were police everywhere and the whole building evacuated and roped off.

Cops were turning everyone away saying it was a “private police matter” but I found an undercover (I think FBI) agent and we started chatting. After a while he told me it was a bomb scare, probably nothing and that I’d be able to get into the building within thirty minutes–in time for my meeting.

An hour later still no change. So I rebooked my meeting at Peet’s Coffee (best Vegan scones, but I’m off the carbs for now) in the Ferry building which is pretty close by. Another half hour later as I was walking to my meeting the perimeter expanded and I could tell the energy level had increased a bit. Suddenly, it felt like it was a much bigger deal going on.

As I was walking to Ferry something happened about ten feet away from me. A bunch of people were asleep and hanging out on the lawn (some homeless, some not). There were a dozen police around, and suddenly, one of the policemen started yelling at a guy to wake up as they were trying to clear the area since the quarantine perimeter expanded, as he got closer the sleeper his dog started barking at the policeman and lunged after him.

Within ten seconds, chaos erupted.

The policeman started yelling as he’s directly to my left and quickly unleashed his handgun pointed it at the dog. Then bystanders started screaming, the guy formerly-known-as-sleeping-beauty-who-probably-crapped-his-pants-as-he-awoke-t0-a-handgun-in-his-and-his-dogs-face is trying to restrain his dog, which starts looking rabid (the dog, not the guy), so instantaneously, a few more policemen pull guns out of their holsters and they’re alternating aim between the dog and the formerly-asleep-guy who is yelling whilst trying to contain and protect his dog. Bystanders are starting to freak (and yell at the police as well), guns are still pointed, screaming by all parties ensues, and the stuff is hitting the fan.

And as I’m standing there watching this, I’m amazed. Not at the chaos (that too). But at how quickly the chaos happened. Ten seconds. Literally, that’s all it took to go from controlled to uncontrolled. Clearly, there was a lot of stress to the situation and the point of this has nothing to do with how either the police or the civilians handled the situation. I don’t even have an opinion even though I watched it unfold, who knows all the dynamics that were really going on and ultimately I’m sure the bomb scare made the situation all the more acute.

What dawned on me is how many times that’s happened in other areas of life (and not nearly as stressful as this was an extreme situation, which eventually became controlled).

Think about it. How many times in our life have things escalated to chaos within ten seconds? Probably too many. And, unfortunately, ten seconds is sometimes all it takes.


No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

I Have a New Hero: The UAHS ’92 Reunion Recap

Over the 4th of July I went to my 20th high school reunion.

I’ve not seen all but a handful of you since graduation in ’92, as all of my family has moved far away from Columbus so there are few roots that remain apart from friendships years back. This is a simple post with a few musings from my brief time back “home” in the form of a letter to all those who went.

1. Our 20th reunion was, to me, the great equalizer. We generally live in a society where perception leads and reality follows. It’s annoying, but true. Yet, it seems that at the 20-year reality starts to reign. And people care more about the relationships than the showman/woman ship. I like that. And I loved seeing every single one of you again.

2. You all were very kind to me, probably undeservedly. I can look back at my life–high school no exception–and think to myself “Wow, I wish I would’ve done this differently” or “I should’ve been more patient with him/her/etc.” Regardless, kindness pretty much abounded by everyone to everyone.

3. I went to school with some really exceptional individuals. Authentic. Smart. Funny. Talented. You guys amazed me. During my time in Columbus, I was half-tempted to pack up and move (don’t worry fam, it was a fleeting thought) and create a technology incubator in Columbus where I’d combine start-up capital and hands on help to incubate businesses across the city. There’s great talent in Columbus, and it’s a fantastic platform for new initiatives. Alas, I think we’re still too coastal. I wish I had ten lives. I’d definitely spend one of them doing the C-bus incubator.

4. There’s a part of my roots that I really miss. Seeing familiar places and faces gave me nostalgia I’ve not felt in quite a while. I did a few long runs throughout old Arlington and floods of memories came back to me:

  • How I used to ride my bike as my dad would run in an old blue set of scrubs, we’d run the same route repeatedly and I never tired of the trip
  • Jones middle school and the field where Coach Kingsboro used to inspire a bunch of 13-year old boys to become men on the football field and off the field in life with stories out of archives I never knew existed
  • Huffman’s market where I used to work stocking shelves and Mr. Huffman would pull me aside to and say “slow down son and take your time fronting those shelves, you’re going to run out of work for me to give you” (always a type-A and impatient for the next thing)
  • Mr. Richards house, my 4th and 5th grade teacher who still remains one of my favorite human beings to this day; I ran by his house twice, stopped by and never connected with him, but even being near his home reminded me how much he believed in me and so many others (Swarty, you know exactly what I’m talking about)
  • And so, so, so much more

5. Finally, I learned that Todd Emery is my hero.

All of you are gifted in various ways–at the reunion there were successful business people, exceptional doctors, creative artists, those talented in a trade (I wish I could build something exceptional with my hands), amazing full-time moms and dads who are raising some incredible kiddos, and even a longstanding friend who is a fantastic comedian.

Yet, the most inspirational person for me was Todd Emery, who works with a certain group of kids at Jones Middle School. When I heard about this, it really put things in perspective for me. I used to think my job was exceptionally challenging. I was wrong. My job is easy. Todd’s job? Now that’s exceptionally challenging. Life changing. And admirable.

I left the reunion with a different perspective on life. And a new hero.

To all of you from the class of ’92, thanks for giving me such a great gift of your friendship growing up, and a refresher during our latest meet up.

I’ll see you guys again in 20-years.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all period. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good soundness, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Happy 7th Birthday Buddy

Fourth letter in the series. Third one is here. Second one is here. First one is here.

Dear Levi,

Here it is. Already again. Another year. You are getting so big. I want to hold your hand. Your still-tiny-but-growing-s0-fast hand, and envelop it in the palm of my large and aging hand, and hold it tight. And then I want to do nothing else other than sit here listening to the Friday Night Lights soundtrack and have you sit nestled in my right arm, like a football, and fall asleep against me. Without a care in the world. It would comfort me to make you feel protected, secure, and serene.

Today was different, because it was really about the family, as well you and me. A few very special people remembered this day, and for that I am grateful. My dad, known as “Deep Rivers” to the grandkids, was here in Cali the weekend and got to celebrate your birthday with us today and yesterday. You are the last in the lineage of the Razgaitis’ name. Before I had a son I thought I’d regret the end of our family name; now, though, it seems perfect that the name rests with you. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am proud of you in ways that only a dad can understand, for reasons that are unrelated to merit or even personal experience in knowing you in the traditional sense; it simply has to do with unbridled love and admiration for you. No. Matter. What.

Yesterday we were going to take RoZo go-karting as part of our celebration of you, but it rained so we’re going another weekend. I’m sure you would have been wired just like me, with an unbridled addiction enthusiasm for cars. There’s nobody left at the house for me to go and recruit to test drive expensive European cars that would give us a lifetime of headache and a wallet full of pain–yet a handful of fun. Perhaps that’s why I now drive a Prius. I just need a partner in crime to get into some car shopping trouble; you could have supported my habit charitable contribution to the economy. At least one Saturday a month, I would strap you into the back of my Dave-Ramsey approved 50-MPG wielding econobox and we’d go and drive the new 328, the Tesla S, maybe even a Fisker Karma–and anything else fun we could get our hands on. But it’s not really the cars I want to drive, it’s just the experience I want to have with you. A little co-pilot to take on adventures, to talk with, and to pal around together. RoZo make great adventurers as well, and I absolutely adore having two daughters–and would be thrilled if we had several more. But I know the father/son thing would be unique, and perhaps I’m selfish for wanting that too, with you.

So instead of go-karting, we did simple stuff and hung around the house. We sent you some balloons, each with personalized messages from each of us, and sent them flying away in the skies behind our house in California with the fog-enveloped mountains and  blue sky with whispy clouds as our backdrop. It was really magical to watch the balloons make their way upward to the point at which I lost sight of them. Each of us took our balloons and, from youngest to oldest, said a little something to you, and released them into the air.

An old friend of mine, Bob Bonanducci, is up in heaven with you. He was a mentor to me for years, and he forgot more about selling and human psychology than I’ll ever know. I used to go on sales calls with him during my College breaks (yes, on my own and for “fun”, this is how you learn good stuff!) to understand how to sell, connect with people, and learn some life lessons. Years ago, before he passed away, he called me and asked that I call him back. I was “busy” and before I knew it six months passed and I never returned the call. Before I knew it, I got an email saying he had passed away. I still regret not taking five minutes to call him back. He was a really good man to me.

Anyways, my advice is also wrapped up in a favor as well. You should go find Bob, he is the big Italian guy who probably has marinara sauce stained on his white shirt robe whilst surrounded by a group of people telling a story of some kind using all sorts of expressive hand movements with his booming voice. They’re all laughing, and mesmerized by his magnetic enthusiasm I’m sure. My advice is to listen, and learn a thing or two from Bob. And tell him I miss him as well, and that someday I’ll replace the phone call with a personal visit. Not too soon, I hope, but someday. The three of us will sit together and tell stories, and laugh. And just love on each other.

I still miss you buddy. All the time. More than you know. You are in my heart constantly, and you are inseparable from my soul. If you were here right now, sleeping in my arms, I would whisper that in your ear, and remind you that there’s nothing you could do that would keep me from loving you as I do and always will. And I know that mom, Royce, and Zoe would all say the same.

Happy 7th Birthday Levi.


Dad (and the family)

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your doctor. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all time. What is the most significant information you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless great for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.

Friday Evening Session

What a great evening that as one Associate described was just a roller coaster of emotions! Stuart Ochiltree kicked off the session by giving us a unique perspective of what Ten Years – One Truth means in terms of service. We heard some exciting news about how Univera’s Serve First initiatives are evolving. Univera favorite Dr. Taylor Hartman encouraged us to look within to find the humor and humanity in all of us. And comedian Michael Jr. closed the night with his unique and clean brand of comedy.

Thanks to these Associates who took the time and shared their thoughts with us:

There’s probably no better way to get people out of their seats than to shoot t-shirts into the crowd!

We’ve got a great evening session featuring presentations by ECONET CEO Stuart Ochiltree, Univera favorite Dr. Taylor Hartman, and Comedian Michael Jr.

No doubts, take Lasix only as prescribed by your physician. Levitra is one of the best-known medications of all when. What is the most significant info you must study about levitra vs cialis? Most doctors say the effectiveness of Levitra is well documented. Absolutely, a sexual problem refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual life. Whilst sex is not vital for good health, its doubtless important for anyone. Why it happen? What kinds of professionals treat sexual diseases in men? A common class of antidepressants, which include Zoloft can kill the mood in bedroom.