Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Modern Dads Podcast

Looking for ways to pursue a meaningful career, raise a healthy family, and still make time for your own interests?  Not easy, for sure, but certainly a worthy goal.  

That was the topic of my conversation with The NYC Dads Group on their Modern Dads Podcast, which tells the stories of fathers who are "active and engaged in the decisions, the drudgery, the pain and the joys of parenthood."  

Check out the interview here.  

The NYC Dads Group organizes meet-ups for dads and their kids, offering a variety of cool events, ranging from educational family outings to boot camps for new and expecting fathers.  My wife and I had a great time at their recent couples game night.  We played an electronic version of Pictionary, which reminded me of how much better my wife is at illustrating than I am.  Quote of the night about one of my drawings: "That's supposed to be a horse?  It look like a hunk of meat loaf."

Here's an exciting action shot from our interview:

In the studio with NYC Dads Group co-founders Matt Schneider (left) and Lance Somerfeld (center)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adventure Cycling Association

There are lots of cool nonprofit organizations out there, but one of my favorites is the Adventure Cycling Association.  Founded in 1973 and based in Missoula, Montana, its mission is to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle.  They're preaching to the choir whenever I receive their newsletter or fundraising requests.  

But their most recent holiday appeal really hit home.  The letter started, "Bike tour in Iceland. Check."  

I thought, "Hey, I've done that!"  

It then read, "Pedal across Japan. Check."  

I said out loud, "I've done that too!"

It then read, "Ride North America with my kids?  Thank goodness for Adventure Cycling!"

I suddenly realized they were talking about my family!  My kids and I visited Adventure Cycling's headquarters this summer while riding 1,700 miles of the Lewis & Clark Trail.  We stayed in the home of their Tours Director, Arlen Hall (a remarkably kind and generous person), and made a bunch of new friends.  Their Executive Director, Jim Sayer, and his daughter Samantha even pedaled alongside us for a few hours, as we rode out of Missoula.  I gave them a written summary of our adventure, including quotes about how we were using Adventure Cycling's route maps.  You can see those quotes in the letter below along with photos from our visit.  

If you've ever imagined how cool it would be to go on a cycling trip (it's my favorite way to travel), Adventure Cycling has everything you need to take action -- organized tours, maps, expert advice, and an excellent magazine with stories from other cyclists.  Here's a link to become a member for 1/2 price: https://www.adventurecycling.org/membership/holiday-gift-membership/

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kevin Laue movie and Nat Geo piece on roadkill

I like meeting people who have a good excuse not to try something hard, but then go out and do it anyway.  Last night, a few friends and I watched the movie, “Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story” at the AMC theater in New York City’s Times Square.  It’s a documentary about the struggles of a teenager who dreams of playing on a Division 1 college basketball team.  That’s an ambitious goal for anyone, but Kevin’s challenge was made all the harder by the fact that he only has one arm.  I won’t give away any more details.  You should do yourself a favor and just see this movie: http://thekevinlauestory.com/

I felt lucky to have watched the film, but I felt much luckier when I walked out of the theater and saw, towering over everyone else, Kevin Laue!  Of all things, I was struck most by his smile (see pic below).  He was gracious with his time, chatting with my friends and me for a while and taking photos with us.  Something powerful happens standing next to an inspiring person.  You feel an energizing sense of possibility and hope.  And you look at your own options with a deeper sense of gratitude.  Thanks Kevin.


When my two kids and I cycled 1,700 miles of the Lewis & Clark Trail this summer, we worked with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) to document roadkill along our route in the hopes of reducing the impact of roads on wildlife.  ASC is a nonprofit organization that connects outdoor adventurers with scientists in need of data from the field.  How cool is that? 

ASC’s founder Gregg Treinish just published a piece on National Geographic’s  Explorer’s Journal about our work together.  He included a short account I wrote about the trip.  How do you think my 12-year-old son finished his quote, “I learned that so many animals don’t have to die, if…”  You can find the answer here:  http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/11/21/riding-the-lewis-clark-trail-in-search-of-roadkill/

Here are some pics:

This is me standing next to Kevin Laue

Kevin with my friends Alison Berna, Lillian Schlein and Rachel Roberge

This time with my friend Alison's patented high kick (who can kick that high even while wearing a boot for a leg injury)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Who's better looking? You decide.

For those of you who speak Dutch and are following the climate change negotiations under way in Poland (how's that for whittling down your audience to a tiny handful :-), the Brussels-based magazine De Morgen just published an interview with me as a United Nations Climate Hero.  More important than the substance of the article is the fact that I'm featured on the same page as international supermodel Gisèle Bündchen watering a plant.  I learned two things after using Google Translate to read the articles:  Gisèle and I share similar views on the importance of protecting the environment, and she's remarkably better looking than I am.

Here's Gisèle:                                                        Here's me:
The article describes me as "an energetic New Yorker" (that pretty much goes for everyone living here...) and describes how my then 8-year-old son and I became UN Climate Heroes in 2009 when we cycled 2,500 miles across Japan, raising money for the Billion Tree Campaign.  Many governments, companies and individuals supported that campaign, which resulted in over 7 billion trees being planted, one for every person on the planet.  

I also described my work at Intel Corporation on clean technology and my opinion that the private sector has a key role to play in addressing climate change.  One of the reasons I take my children on crazy bike trips around the world is to help them develop a sense of connection to nature and a desire to protect the wilderness that remains.  When you love something, you don't procrastinate as it is steadily ruined, like our politicians are doing today.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mountain Man

I spent last weekend hiking in the mountains of Nevada with Brad Graff, a friend from college.  We call this annual get-together “Mountain Man,” as we attempt to test our fitness with four days in a row of vigorous, all-day hikes.  We usually seek out places with no trails, using cairns and written guides from other hikers.  

I love the feeling of struggling up a steep mountain, then being rewarded at the top with a view that makes me feel so small.  The ego and drive that got me to the top drift away with the wind, and I sit quietly for a while, appreciating what a beautiful world we live in. 

We do get lost on these hikes from time to time.  We’ve always found our way back, although sometimes after the sun has gone down.  The trick is to be prepared with extra layers, rain gear, a compass, lights, etc.  

When climbing back down from Hayford Peak, we spent the final hour hiking in the dark.  At first we used our lights to find our way down the rocky wash.  Then we turned them off and looked up.  The Milky Way was painted overhead, and there were so many stars visible that they made it harder to make out the major constellations.  We found the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia, and Orion's Belt.  But most remarkable of all was a bright light shining just over the canyon wall to our left.  At first we thought it was a plane.  When it didn't move, we speculated that it must be a lighted tower.  But it was actually Venus, brighter than I've ever seen.  When we left the summit that afternoon, I had worried about getting "stuck" out in the dark.  But this experience turned out to be one of the most memorable moments of the weekend.  Sometimes the greatest joy can come simply from looking up.
Here are some pics:
Hiking up Hamblin Mountain

Brad Graff hiking on Hamblin Mountain

View from top of Hamblin Mountain

Hiking up Mt. Charleston

Hiking up Mt. Charleston

Hiking up Mt. Charleston.  Near the top, there was about 8 inches of snow

This bristlecone pine tree on Mt. Charleston may be over 5,000 years old

From the top of Hayford Peak

Red Rock Canyon from the top of Turtlehead Peak

The top of Turtlehead Peak

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Overcoming Obstacles: Talk at Casio G-Shock Store

I had a great time last night at the Casio G-Shock Store in NYC!  Thanks to the many friends and strangers who came out to hear me talk and to Casio for hosting the event.  

My talk was about being adventurous and overcoming obstacles.  I shared lessons learned from the family adventures I’ve taken with my kids in Japan, Iceland and the U.S., like:

-       A kid can do a whole lot more than most adults think.
-       The more time children spend in nature, the more connected they feel to the world around them.
-       The more time children spend in nature, the more they want to protect the wilderness that remains.

I also shared stories about several people who inspire me:
-       Theresa Khayyam, who went blind two years ago at age 45 from a viral infection.  What did she do after going blind?  She decided to become a runner!  She trains with the Achilles International chapter in Nashville, TN.  My sister Becky will guide her in this weekend’s NYC Marathon, Theresa’s first.

-       Charlie Plaskon.  Blind since childhood, he became a marathoner and Ironman triathlete in his 60’s.  I guided him in the NYC Ironman last year when he was 69 years old and have given presentations at schools with him.  My favorite quote of Charlie’s: “No one is interested in your best excuse.  Just find a way.”

-       Evan Ruggiero, who started dancing at age 5.  At age 19, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  After a series of chemo treatments, his right leg was amputated.  His dancing career was over, right?  Nope.  Two days after receiving a peg leg, he was turning it into a creative part of his tap dance repertoire.  My 12-year-old son Sho took a tap class with Evan and talked last night about how inspiring it was to learn from him.

-       Dan Berlin, who went blind with macular degeneration in his 30’s.  Did he sit around feeling sorry for himself?  Nope.  He decided to become an endurance athlete.  I guided Dan in the 2011 NYC Marathon, 2012 Colorado Marathon and, last month, the Toughman Half Ironman (swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, run 13.1 miles).  Next year, we plan to run “rim to rim to rim” across the Grand Canyon and back in one day.  That’s around 46 miles and about 23,000 feet of elevation change.  Can a blind guy really do that?  All the naysayers will tell you we’re nuts for trying.  But naysayers told me that an 8-year-old couldn’t cycle the length of Japan (they were wrong), a 6-year-old was too young to pedal over the Rockies (they were wrong), and that a 69-year-old blind man shouldn’t try to do an Ironman (they were wrong).

It turns out that a horrible experience like going blind or losing a leg can also be the catalyst for new areas of growth. 

So, be adventurous.  Take a hard look at the limits you put on yourself and your children.  I suspect that most of those limits are just in your head.

Outside the Casio G-Shock store before the talk (notice the poster)

With Sho and Saya

Casio's Mike Princiotto introducing me

Sho (age 12) talking about running a 1/2 marathon

Saya added her energy to the talk!

The naysayers may so no, but I think he can

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Casio G-Shock Store Event -- You're Invited!

At 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30, 2013, I'll give a talk at the Casio G-Shock store, 454 W Broadway in Soho (NYC).  The event is free and includes refreshments.  Everyone is going to get a goody bag, and someone is going to win a new Pro Trek PRW3000 watch.  

I will tell stories from the family adventures I've taken with my wife and two kids (including our recent 1700-mile bike ride on the Lewis & Clark Trail), share lessons about overcoming obstacles from disabled athletes I've guided in marathons and Ironman triathlons, and offer tips for people running the NYC marathon.  

If you'd like to attend, please RSVP at this link and come on out!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sho's first half marathon at age 12

When I was a kid growing up in Nashville, I started running with my dad.  That’s me between my father and my older brother just before a race in 1978.

Fast forward to today, and I’m the dad running with my son.  My 12-year-old son, Sho, asked me to run with him in his first half marathon, the Paine to Pain trail run in New Rochelle, NY.  We stayed side-by-side for the entire 13.1 miles, and he listened patiently to my advice on running form, breathing, pacing, etc. 

The most unexpected part of the race came when we were stung by hornets!  We picked up our pace through that section and jumped every time we felt the slightest tickle on our skin.  Sho had to walk for parts of the second half, and I worried that he might get discouraged.  But he kept a positive attitude despite the discomfort.  As we were chugging up a steep hill near the end, he turned to me and said, “I’m so glad we decided to do this race!”  It’s a memory I hope he keeps for a long time.  Perhaps 30 years from now, he’ll run side by side with his own kid, telling him stories of the adventures he shared with his dad long ago.