BlogFrog runs the BolderBoulder

A fundamental guiding principal at BlogFrog is the notion of teamwork.  So when Caitie Ramsburg, our Director of Client Services, put out the challenge to run the annual Bolder Boulder 10K as a team, a handful of troopers showed up.  Not only did they agree to run 6.1 miles through Boulder’s residential neighborhoods and up the notorious climb into Folsom Stadium, they all agreed to do it………wearing green sparkly skirts.

In the group picture (left to right): Rustin Banks, Jody Dey, Holly Hamann, Keely Nolan (top), Danielle Buckley, Caitie Ramsburg, Molly Theda.

Congratulations to the team on completing the first annual BlogFrog Bolder Boulder.  Hang on to those sparkly skirts ’cause your going to need them next year!

Posted in Interesting People, Random Stuff, Triathlons, Work-Life Balance | 1 Comment

All You Need Is Love

The older I get, the harder it is to buy me presents.  My son had been asking me for weeks what I wanted for my birthday last month and I swear I couldn’t think of anything I really wanted or couldn’t get for myself.  Yes, I know that is the most annoying answer.  So I kept telling him all I really want is love.  He rolled his eyes and kept asking. I guess the message got thru because this is what he gave me for my birthday – a jar of love.  Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.

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PelicanFest Triathlon (#8)

I’d never raced in Windsor but apparently, the legacy of the PelicanFest Sprint Triathlon is the swim, an open water course in Windsor Lake, known for being cold.  It definitely was cold (63 degrees!) on Saturday and definitely wet suit worthy.

I used to stay out of the water before the race and not warm up, mainly because I’d end up standing around in my dripping wet suit for up to 45 minutes before my heat.  Once the race starts, they close the transition area no matter when your heat starts.  So you better have your wet suit, goggles, cap, earplugs, etc. when you leave because you can’t go back in until after the swim.  But I’ve learned that doing a few laps really helps as does standing in the water while you wait, instead of up on the beach.  I have mild asthma and getting that first shock of cold out of the way early really helps me be calmer later. One surprise was the tall seaweed you had to swim through to get to the swim exit.  Wasn’t expecting to have grass in my mouth!

The bike ride was beautiful and the run was a scenic course that ran around the lake.  I found myself pacing behind this woman in a blue jersey almost the whole race and got one of my best times. Thanks, Susan!

I’m really enjoying these sprint triathlons as a fun change of pace from my regular training.  10 weeks out until the big race – the Boulder 70.3 on August 5th!

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Father’s Day Video

My company, BlogFrog, has grown so much since my business partner and I launched it back in early 2009.  Today, we have 25 employees and expect to double that by the end of the year.  Included in that group of brilliant start-up heros are lots of dedicated dads. Instead of telling you how great they are, I thought I’d let their kids do the talking.

Happy Fathers Day From BlogFrog! from Holly Hamann on Vimeo.

Happy Father’s Day!

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Ft. Collins Triathlon (#7)

Sometimes I feel like I have a secret life. I got up two Sundays ago at 4am, got my tri stuff together, drove to Ft. Collins for a triathlon, and was back before the kids were even awake. I sat at the dining room table with my coffee when they come down the stairs like I’ve been there all morning :)

I did this race last year and love it.  Even though it’s an hour away, the people are friendly, the course is flat and well-marked, and I like how they set up the indoor swim.  Instead of being in a lane with three other people, you start at one end of the pool, swim to the other end and instead of swimming back in the lane, you dunk under the lane markers and swim the next length in different lane.  You continue to dunk under the lane markers at each end and work your way to the other end of the pool.  I like it because once you pass someone, you don’t have to pass them again, which sometimes happens if you are in the same lane with a slower swimmer for the entire swim.

My bike had a funky thing going on with the tire and it thumped with every rotation of the front tire.  I had taken it in to Full Cycle in Boulder two days earlier and they found nothing and assured me the bike was fine.  The bike course was the same as last year – three loops around a fairly flat route.  I became obsessed with the thump-thump of the tire and babied it around potholes, train tracks, gravel, probably going slower than I needed to but I would much rather be cautious than deal with a flat.

The run was an uneventful, flat and quite route through residential neighborhoods and I took my time.  It was a beautiful morning, I felt strong, and was in no hurry (yes, I often forget its a race).

My finish time was 9:17 (swim), 47:29 (bike) and 35:14 (run) for a total time of 1:38:03.  My new goal is to look into getting a coach and get some professional assistance improving my running and biking times.  I’ve read a ton about best practices and things other athletes do to improve but I’m at a point where I need to know how to customize that information for me and my unique goals. I suspect there are even little changes I can make that will help. Will let you know how that goes!

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San Diego World Triathlon 2012 (#6)

I don’t even know where to begin. This race was epic for me for several reasons. It was my first Olympic distance triathlon, it was the first one I’ve done out of state, and it was one where I’d get to watch Olympic athletes from around the world compete in the last qualifier for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Since my Giant Avail was fairly new and I’m not yet comfortable disassembling it, I decided to rent a bike there and not ship mine. So glad I did. We went straight from the airport to Zumwalt’s bike shop in San Diego and they took super care of me. I had called ahead and they reserved a Specialized Ruby for me and it was perfect. They swapped the pedals for mine (which I brought with me) and took lots of time to fit and tune the bike. They even let me return the bike on Sunday (they aren’t even open on Sunday!) We called the manager’s cell phone and he met us at the shop on our way to the airport.

Next we checked in at The Dana hotel, a beautiful hotel on the water and less than a mile from the race. Friday night was mainly about getting ready so we didn’t take a lot of time to relax and sightsee. Ate dinner at the hotel restaurant and they were nice enough to customize a pasta dish with no salt. Too much salt in the days before a long race can contributor to dehydration. It was hard to go to bed early but I tried. I spent most of the night waking up every hour wondering if my alarm was going to go off in time.

Spent the rest of the evening packing and re-packing my bag, putting race number stickers on my helmet and bike, and managing being nervous. The hours/day before race are worse than the actual race. All the “what if?” questions run through my head. What if I get a flat? What if I throw up? What if I can’t clip out during transition and fall? What if I get kicked in the face during the swim? What if I didn’t eat/sleep/drink enough yesterday? What if there is no place to pee? What if I get lost and make a wrong turn? Seriously, these are the things I worry about.

(4:45am – setting up my transition area)

All the worry gets replaced with focus as soon as the horn goes off. The water was pleasant and the women in my wave seemed super nice. We had scoped out the swim course the night before and it looked pretty straight forward. Keep the first buoy on your left and the rest of the buoys on the right. It took me a while to get my breathing rhythm and after that, it seemed to go by pretty quick. I learned that I pull to the right if I am not paying attention and sighting. I normally try to stay on the left outside of the pack so I don’t get kicked or overwhelmed. But since I pull to the right, I kept finding myself smack in the middle of the pack, fumbling my way around. Headed back to the left and decided to sight every other stroke instead of just once in a while. This helped a lot.

(waiting for the horn)

Transition 1 was easy but took a long time. The bike is the biggest opportunity to drink and eat and if I missed it, the run would be miserable. Even if it cost a few minutes, I’d rather take the time to eat a Clif Bar and chug some water while I’m trying to get everything ready for the bike. The bike was the funnest part, mainly because the big hill everyone had been stressing about (up the south side of Soledad Mountain) wasn’t so bad after all. The bike route was two big 12-mile loops and when I did the first hill pass and realized it wasn’t so bad, I was literally giddy the rest of the ride. I saw people walking their bikes and one person throwing up on the side of the road during the hill climb. I figured training in the Colorado mountains at altitude had worked in my favor.

The run was a flat course along a beach path that passed lots of beautiful beach homes. It was fun to run past and imagine what it must be like to live right on the beach in Mission Bay. It was sunny but not too hot, lots of water stops, and people-watching became a fun distraction. The finish line was huge and intimidating and I was a bit loopy as they took my timing chip and put a finishers medal around my neck. What an absolute blast!

Dave met me at the finish line and we wandered around for a bit watching other runners come in and checking out the expo. I knew I should eat something light and keep drinking water, but all I wanted were salty French fries. Luckily, they didn’t have any. We walked back to the hotel, quickly cleaned up, and headed back to the race to watch the men’s Olympic triathletes run their race. It was humbling and inspiring to be so close to some of the world’s best athletes.

The weekend ended too soon and we said goodbye to San Diego. I will never forget this incredible experience!

Things I learned:

  • Wear a hat for the long runs, not just sunglasses (my scalp was sunburned for a week).
  • Don’t be afraid to wear a fanny pack, even if you think it makes you look like a newbie. I carried a small water bottle and filled it up at the water stations so I could drink it slowly and not have to guzzle a cup of water while running. I also carried chapstick and a Clif Bar. They sometimes give out gels or Gu at the water stops but I don’t like to eat something new during a race and prefer to carry my own fuel. Do what works for you – it’s your race!
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San Diego World Triathlon, here I come!

I’ve been excited about this race for months. San Diego was the location of the very first triathlon ever back in 1974, 38 years ago. Not only is the 2012 San Diego World Triathlon a celebration of sports history, it’s also the final qualifying race for the 2012 Olympic Triathlon Team.  Athletes from all over the world are traveling to San Diego to compete for a slot on the Olympic team. Race organizers have opened up the race to age participants which means people like me can race the same venue as world champion athletes. That is just the coolest thing ever! Check out the race video from the official race site:

Racing out of state takes a lot of prep, extra time (taking a day off work to travel), and a never-ending stream of expenses.  I was originally going to ship my bike but decided against it because of expense and risk.  Most airlines (except Frontier) charge $100-$200 each way to ship a bike and it has to be partly disassembled, boxed, or in a hard case. And there is the very real risk of damage.

I decided not to risk it and reserved a Specialized Ruby (48″) from a local bike shop in Mission Bay.  I’m taking a chance with that, too, but I figured I’ll only be on the bike for about 2 hours so how bad can it be. Plus, I feel better knowing I wont be worried about my new bike (which still needs a name but that’s a different post).  I rented from Zumwalt’s Bicycle Center in Rolando and the guys there seemed pretty cool.  They offered to swap out the bike pedals for mine (I’m bringing my own) and take 30-45 minutes and tune the bike for a custom fit before the race.  Super!

So I’m all set. I registered for the race months ago, have a reservation at The Dana Hotel (about a mile from the race), have a bike reserved, have researched the course several times, and feel about as ready as I’ll ever be. This is my first Olympic distance race so I really don’t know what to expect but hoping the altitude training in Colorado will pay off.

I’ll do a short run, light bike ride, and one full mile swim this week and that is all. The remainder of the week will be about resting and making sure I haven’t left out any packing details. Should be an exciting race!

Posted in Triathlons, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Refueling on the bike, clipless pedals, and hill training

When I found out that the San Diego Triathlon included two bike laps that climbed La Jolla Mesa Dr. (south side of Soledad Mountain), I was worried that I hadn’t been doing enough hill training. So Dave and I set out on Sat morning from Longmont and rode up Lefthand Canyon to Jamestown, a tiny mountain town that has one of the most scenic routes in Colorado.  It is 8.5 miles from the start of LeftHand Canyon Dr., which doesn’t sound like much except the entire distance is uphill.

To make it harder, we took a detour on the way up and rode to the highest point of Old Stage Road, a steep climb that doesn’t last too long, but will give your legs a great workout. Then we turned around and headed up to Jamestown. See map below for our route in blue (started at point A on the right).

I had three goals for this ride.  To get hill training, practice refueling while on the bike, and continue to get used to my new pedals (Look Keo 2 Max – in white).  Eating and drinking while on a road bike is WAY different than on a mountain bike, mainly because of the weight of the bike.  Since a mountain bike is so much heavier, it is more stable and easier to control with one hand (while the other hand is getting water, handling a Clif Bar, etc). But road bikes are so darn light (especially carbon) that it feels like nobody is at the wheel when I let go of one side.  It sounds like this should be easy but it’s not!

I learned two important things about eating while on a road bike. One, that it is easier to refuel while climbing uphill than going downhill.  You would think it would be harder but it’s actually easier because when you are going uphill, you are going slower and therefore have more control over the bike.  Second, that you should eat with your left hand and control the bike with your right (at least for me).  I keep my right hand on the handlebar because if I’m going uphill, I’m probably in the lowest gear in the front (controlled by the left shifter), which means I won’t need my left hand for shifting.  Any gear adjustments are likely to be to the rear derailer, which is controlled by my right hand. Walla, time to eat!

As for getting used to the pedals, I still have some work to do.  I made the mistake of trying to clip in while starting uphill (stupid) and fell over.  Dave was right next to me and had just clipped in himself when I fell over on him so down he went, too. I won’t have a whole lot more time on the bike before San Diego so I’m crossing my fingers.

Overall, it’s really hard to complain when you are surrounded by such stunning scenery that you forget about how much work you are doing.  One more reason I love living in Colorado.  I also did a bit of research and discovered that La Jolla Mesa Drive has a 2 mile elevation gain of about 650 feet, which is much less than the 1370 feet gain of Old Stage Road so now I’m not so worried!

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BlasterBlast, First Triathlon of the Season (#5)

Last Sunday was my first triathlon of the season, the BlasterBlast, sponsored by the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, CO.  The course was a fairly flat sprint distance that seemed a tame enough race to kick the summer off.  Dave came with me, which made it a hundred times more fun than getting up early by myself.

The swim was 750 meters, an easy distance for me since I used to swim the mile in college.  When you register for a race, they typically ask for your estimated swim time so they can slot you in a heat.  I am always super conservative because I figure I would rather have to deal with slower swimmers than get in the way of a faster swimmer. But what has happened (several times now) is that I end up in a heat that 1) starts almost an hour after the official race start and 2) includes swimmers who are much slower than me and I have to navigate around and try to pass. I was on the tail of the guy in front of me every time he got to the pool wall and a polite swimmer would have let me pass. But he kept pushing off anyway so I had to slow way down and do breast stroke so I didn’t get kicked in the face.  Next time, I’m going to be more accurate with my swim time so I can get in a faster heat.

It was a cool morning and I was worried about staying warm after the swim so I wore two layers for the bike (over my tri suit) and planned to strip one off during the transition to the run. The bike leg was 200K (12.5 miles) and it was the worst course I’ve ever been on.  The path winded around downtown Golden, which crossed lots of main roads, had a lot of hairpin turns, and was pretty much the local bike/walk path.  Lots of pedestrians, walkers, and really narrow two-lane trails with very little room to pass.  And lots of dogs!  I would rather crash my bike than hit an innocent dog or person which means I spent most of the bike course going very slow.  It didn’t even feel like a race.  But it was a beautiful day so I figured I’d just have a good time and look at it like a good workout.

For the run, I really wanted to keep my inner layer on instead of the outer but my bib number was pinned to the outer shirt and it would have taken a few minutes to undo the pins and repin during transition so I skipped it. The run was an easy 5K (3.1 miles) and it was over pretty quick. The last quarter mile was a cruel uphill climb back to the school.  My legs felt like anvils after the bike so it was a bit of a slog and I need to figure out what is going on with my legs because that happens every time.

Overall, it was a fun race and I met some great people and one incredibly inspiring woman. Patty Townsend is in her 60’s and has been running triathlons for 10 years! Holy smokes I want to be her!  She agreed to let me interview her for my blog so look for an interview in a later post.

Thanks to Dave for getting up early, for driving, letting me use his shirt to dry off after the swim (while I ran to transition), and for taking pics and being my champion.  Next race is the Olympic distance San Diego World Triathlon on May 12th!

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What Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram means for start-ups

I’ve been in the start-up space for over 15 years and have helped launch at least six tech companies, half of which have been acquired for, or are now worth, well over $100M. One thing they had in common is they were all products or services focused on the web space, like online advertising, internet performance, network storage, and digital asset management.  These are products companies need when success is all about scaling. Scaling awareness, speed, performance, or data storage.  Companies need these things when their customers have scaling needs of their own.  Consumers want to search faster, process more data, do more creative things with the content they find, create more content, and publish and share with more people.

1999 and 2000 were crazy years when fledgling start-ups with no revenue were getting bought for millions, investors couldn’t throw money at start-ups fast enough, and unproven companies celebrated epic  IPOs.  No sooner had the industry recognized and labeled their own frenzie as the “dot com boom” than it came crashing down.  First to go were over-valued e-commerce sites like Pets.com, which raised $82.5 million in an IPO in 2000 and collapsed nine months later. eToys raised $188 million in its IPO the same year and died 16 months later.

Next to topple were the businesses that relied on those sites, like Exodus Communications, a major data center provider (both eToys and Pets.com were customers).  I worked for Exodus for a year after they acquired the start-up I worked at for $280 million about a year after we launched.  Exodus stock split 5 times in 2000 and then they filed Chapter 11 (twice!).  Like a domino effect , the impact eventually worked its way back to the source and affected investors.  Skittish venture capitalists scaled back their early-stage investments and began to demand more from start-ups looking for funding (silly stuff like revenue, a real business model, and a seasoned team).

Throw a deep recession on top of that and the world of start-ups suddenly got very conservative and serious.  Many really cool companies with innovative ideas died on the vine because they couldn’t get funding and didn’t have the revenue to self-fund.  Entrepreneurs went back to corporate life for a paycheck and venture capitalists used their funds to save existing portfolio companies instead of looking for new ones. But things are looking up.

Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram marks the beginning of another tech boom and is evidence that both investors and consumers are optimistic enough to start refeeding their appetites for innovation.  And once again, it’s all about scalability.  So how do you take scalability to the next level and top the last decade?  Think cloud-based storage, mobile apps, content creation, big data, and platforms that leverage the vast influence of millions on social media.  Instagram satisfies enough of these categories to claim a billion dollar price tag, yet still has no revenue.  This is a huge signal that the market is confident enough to risk putting potential first and revenue second.  Since start-ups are all about risk, this makes right now a very exciting time for entrepreneurs!

Start-up history is paved with defining moments and Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram is definitely one of them.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Social media, Start-ups | 3 Comments