Jan 26, 2013

Thank You @NikeRunning

I run a lot. I tweet a lot. As a  Data visualization Designer and runner, I track every mile and every tweet. With over 1,700 miles last years and a lifetime tweet count of over 11,000 it's nice to see it pay off.

I recently got a great little token of appreciation via Twitter. A direct message from @NikeRunning. It was short and sweet. There was also a bit about sending my sizes and to stay tuned. I was beside myself with social networking glee. I did as I was told and waited.

A few weeks later, just after Christmas I found a box from Nike on my doorstep. My wife, Amy, joked with me that she had already opened it. She knows that one of my favorite things is to unbox things.

I found inside the perfect gear for a cold weather runner. Nike Element jacket in day-glo yellow and black, matching Lunar Glide 4+ Shields, and a hat. Not a bad kit. Especially, this time of year. I went out the same day and ran Wildwood and got them nice and muddy.

I've run almost every run since then with the gear. That jacket is WARM. Even on the coldest day it has kept me toasty. I have a really nice Nike lightweight rain jacket that has done me well for a couple of years but this Nike Element thing is another level of warm. Something to do with "spere technology". Lots of little dimples creating pockets for warm air.

The shoes are a little much for me, I am a pretty minimal guy. I like good road feel and have my eye on a pair of Flyknit Trainers or Racers or just a pair of Nike XC waffles for spring. I love the Shield reflective surface and they are a good heavy duty shoe for rain and mud and lots of miles. Love the innovation packed in to them. Everything from the laces to the sole has stuff I just haven't seen on other shoes.

Running at night in that jacket is like being a beam of light. If anybody ever hits me, they couldn't say they didn't see me. Probably texting. Although the gear is awesome, the best part of the gift was the little note along with it.

Just a simple graphic and some text from a laser printer, but it made my year. The hashtag "Rain" and on the back, "Thank you for being a valuable part of the Nike Running team."

I recently read Geoff Hollister's book, Out of Nowhere. It's the story of how Nike emerged and came to dominate the shoe industry. Geoff Hollister was one of the original Nike employees, he knew Pre and Phil and Bowerman. He was the person at Nike who headed the running marketing program. He would follow runners around the country and get them to where the swoosh. Not an easy task. But Nike was different. It was about relationships not money. One of the things he did was put a little note in the shoe boxes he would give to runners.

Nike's social marketing is an extension of that early philosophy. Twitter and Facebook allow them to connect with people like me. The elite crowd of Olympic runners gets a little more attention but I am honored to be a part of it. As a social marketer, Mobile User Experience Designer, and data nerd I am impressed by the Nike social team.

At Webtrends Design Lab I had the opportunity to work with some of the best in social marketing. However, there were people who got it and those who don't. It's not another sales channel. It's about brand and about a conversation.

Nike+ social is the best in the business. You can tell they are bringing their A game. The same kind of innovation and passion that goes in to those shoes is being applied to the social world.

I am honored to be a part of it. Thanks, @nikerunning.

Jan 8, 2013

Momentum, the word for 2013


That is the word that comes to mind when I look back on 2012.

2011 was recovery, even triage at some points. Of course, I am very blessed. Life has been up and to the right for several years but there are always setbacks. Especially when you're aiming high. Or just plain impatient like me.

As I often do, I think about things in terms of running. This year I ran 1,736.8 miles. Last year I ran 630.2. That's a pretty big increase. Cascade Lakes Relay, Eugene Marathon, and a 32 mile jaunt around Mt. Saint Helens with my friend Ryan Russell helped make those miles a lot of fun.

As 2012 came to a close this winter I realized a bigger change. Winter time in Oregon can be a miserable time of year to run. With holiday gatherings and merriment it's usually a time to pack on a few pounds and relax. You know, heal up, recuperate, and establish some goodwill with my wife who spent much of 2012 waiting for me to come back from a long run or managing the house while I recovered.

This winter has been different. Instead staying warm, I've hit it hard. Last winter I was rewarded for snowy, rainy, windy, cold runs in Hoyt Arboretum and Forest Park. There is an elite club that braves the early hours in December and January to run the trails. There aren't any meetings or dues or events, just a knowing nod as you pass each other on Wildwood. I saw things few people see. Snow covered Portland from Pittock Mansion after sunrise, misty Council Crest, and the satisfaction of watching people amble contently out of their homes just starting their day at 9am while I wrap up a 10+ mile workout.

This winter I have momentum. I'm not content to gain a couple pounds (although I am sure I did) and lose some speed. I'm hitting 2013 running (pun intended).

There a lot of amazing things that I was blessed with in 2012. New job, financial peace (through Dave Ramsey... do it!), incredible family and friends. If I tried to list them all I am certain I would forget something.  The thing that ties them all together is my faith. I have been growing closer to God and this year was a turning point.

Reading the Bible everyday has opened my eyes to the perspective of Jesus Christ. Praying everyday has focused me in ways that are hard to understand. I am serving God in everything I do. That is what drives me.

Volunteering with the Wildfire youth group as a leader has been a big part of that. Getting to know the 6th grade boys (now 7th graders) in my group has given me so much. They are kind and honest (as well as insane and incorrigible) and just need love.

I've learned to be patient. I've learned to speak in to what children will be, not what they are now. They are TRYING. That is the important thing. And I hope my children will always know that I am trying too.

2013 is all about momentum. Life will still happen. Things still won't go the way I want them to. I will still have regret, sorrow, frustration, you name it. But I will also have joy. That keeps me going.

Even in the dead of winter, rain coming down, wind in my face, and a big old Wildwood hill laid out before me...

I just keep running.