Tag Archives: Austin

Motorcycle Diaries – ROT 2015

The ROTten Truth

One of the most enjoyable things about being a motorcycle enthusiast is going to rally’s. I have been to rally’s practically all over the countryState---Texas and I have been to this Republic of Texas (ROT) rally four previous times and this makes number five.  Over the years my tribe has dwindled down and the rally has been more of a been there done that type of thing. But since this was the 20th year I got a last-minute wild hair and decided to ride down and see what I have been missing. I mean my last time there was 2009, so it seemed time to check it out.

So the trip down there was one of unusual circumstances. Late start means you have to take the highway to get there…one of the things I loathe the most is running down I-35 at 80 mph. Talk about one of the more boring rides, ugh it was dreadful. With temps in the 90’s I also was getting cooked during the midday ride, but at least I was getting tan! If you have ever been on a ride with me, you know I am a back roads cruising, seeing the cool ass shit America has to offer.

Arriving at the rally I was pretty excited to see how much bigger this has become over the last 6 years. Unfortunately, I have to report that this has become the biggest waste of time and money I have ever gone to. This is one of the few rallies that charge to get into rally itself, but it is definitely not worth $75.  What used to be a pretty full area of vendors was really only two rows and the ones that were outside were just as bad. I guess if you want to camp, set up pools and run around naked and drunk then this is definitely worth going to. But otherwise, I recommend you just stay away, this was lame and the only fun part was going out on 6th street, but you know what? I can do that pretty much anytime of the year and I don’t need a ROT rally to bring me to Austin.

So the rally is bad and since it was a short trip, I didn’t go explore around the hill country like I usually do. But I managed to get off the highway and get lost on some awesome Texas back roads dodging the rain and chasing the sun on the way back.

ROT2All in all it was two days, 500 miles, got the patch and T-shirt. Until next time, keep the rubber side down!

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

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Making Natasha a Spartan

Austin, Texas 5/16/2015 – Spartan Sprint

quote“There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

~Kurt Hahn

Every once in a great while, you get an opportunity to change someone’s life.  I find most of the time I have no idea if something I did or said has made any impact on anyone’s lives. Sometimes I get emails from people who tell me I did, but I don’t go out trying to be a difference maker, I live my life and if I can be an example then I am happy to hear how I have inspired you in some way.

Last December my friend Natasha was in the ICU unit and posted on facebook she would love some company or someone to visit her and bring movies.  So of course I grabbed some DVD’s and went right up there.  I still get confused as to her illness (I’ll explain in a minute) but I gladly went up to visit. Unfortunately at the time she was under some heavy sedation so we did get a chance to talk in between her naps. I watched her sleep and chilled for a few hours. I don’t know if she really remembers everything, but I am sure she was grateful I was there if just for a short time.

I monitor her status from time to time and she has been living in the hospital basically for the last few years. Well this past week she commented on one of my pictures at how great I was doing at my runs. I privately asked her how she was doing and she said she had been out of the hospital for the past 3 weeks and was feeling great. In jest I mentioned if she ever wanted to run a race I would make her a spartan. Well she took me up on the offer! She decided on a Friday afternoon to up and participate in the Reebok Spartan Race Sprint in Austin, Texas the next day.

 Natasha’s Illness

So what I found out is that Natasha actually suffers from Eosinophilic Disease. What is an Eosinophil? An evil white blood cell that is a type of B cell. It has one job: attack parasites in the body. In her case these cells went rogue. Two (2) in every million people have  EGPA. In her case the Eosinophils are attacking multiple organs. EOS diseases have NO cure & NO FDA approved treatment. Let that sink in. We fight a losing battle daily with band-aid medications that rarely work.

She is currently in Stage 3, this is the last stage of her illness, and the cause of her recently mild heart attack. Yes you read this correct, she had a heart attack in March 2015 and is also on the transplant list for a new heart. Oh yeah and she also undergoes up to 5-hours of experimental Chemotherapy to fight this.

In September of 2014, she received her “death sentence” as she calls it, they told her she had give or take 5-years to live. As she told me “I no longer consider my illness a death sentence because I keep fighting through the tough times. Like I’ve said before, I’m Chronically Fabulous!” These are words of a true fighter.

The Race

Most of what I actually knew of her illness I learned during our race. I had no idea of some of these things when I asked her to do this, like the heart attack or that her cardiologist was probably going to hunt me down and shoot me because she has a strict no exercise policy or lifting anything over 5lbs.

But we started our adventure on the course at her insistence, she told me her illness was not going to determine how she lives her life and jokingly stated this could kill her today but it would be fun.  I guess it is a good thing she signed the Spartan “death waiver” then huh? So she tells me YOLO and off we go towards the start line.

Seriously I am a little worried at this point, but she is all smiles and doesn’t have a care in the world. We are in the starting coral and yelling AROO, AROO, AROO and now I can see it all sinking in, this is about to get real.

Just to review:

  • Heart attack in March (2-months ago)
  • On the heart transplant list
  • No exercise or lifting over 5lbs
  • She forgot her inhaler
  • 6-days post race she goes in for 5-hours of chemo

So armed with her feeding tube (yes still in), oh yeah she can’ eat real food either, her chemo port and the biggest smile ever, we took off on our Reebok Spartan Race adventure.

So off we go, walking our way to glory.

Mile 1

As we start off we instantly start talking about the past 6-months or so. Sometimes I am amazed at how fast time flies by. This is where I learn of her disease in depth, all the restrictions and how we shouldn’t even be walking. But she won’t quit so we keep going. She went up and over the saw horse looking things and then the 6-foot wall, at first it was intimidating, then she went for it and made it!

We hit the 1-mile marker and and she asked me if it was really a mile. Then it gets silent for a second and I can see something going on in there and she tells me, if you had asked her if she would have ever done this, she would have said no. I could tell she was proud of herself and she was ready to keep going.

Miles 2, 3, 4

It seems I did most of the talking, (I know imagine that!) but it was okay because we were working on her breathing and keeping her heart rate low. So I talked and talked and talked some more. I had plenty to say, it has been a busy 6-months!

As we approached the obstacles, she did just about all of them. I stuck the spear throw for her and then let her try, she had obviously never done that before and it did go straight, just not enough arm.  I asked her if she played softball as I was showing her how I throw it and the response was “No, I was a cheerleader!” okay then, cheer for me!

I did the rig pipe thingy because they would not allow me to assist her in any way to even try and she could not hold herself up there, so no big deal I knocked that out.

I carried her sandbag and mine too, can’t break the lifting restrictions and the water was a refreshing break.  This  is where we almost called it a day. You could say she was a bit stubborn and refused to let her illness stop her from at least trying the things that were doable. But her heart rate was going off the charts and we ended up sitting down at the water station to rest.

She wanted the medic and then didn’t want the medic so we sat and we talked and I tried to crack tasteless jokes to lighten the mood. Then I told her about my Houston Battlefrog DNF and how my motto for the Dallas Battlefrog was “Not Today.” So I told her that was her new motto to, not today. You are not dying or quitting this race today. Tomorrow you can, but not today! Then we looked around and I pointed out all of the other people just sitting around, taking breaks, goofing off, not doing anything. You see she felt bad she had to stop and was mad that she couldn’t lower her heart rate a tad. Then I calmly stated the obvious…what was their excuse? They were all healthy people, granted maybe out of shape, but they don’t have a death sentence or chemo therapy this week or a heart attack a couple months back. At this point it was like I turned on a light switch, she looked at me and said “yeah, what is their excuse?” she looked around and mumbled you are all healthy people just sitting around, then she stood up and off we went.

I also ended up doing the sled pull for obvious reasons, but she did do the Z-wall, even after much discussion on if should could, well she could and she did! She also did her own barbwire crawl and did the tunnel crawl.

But after the tunnel she saw the hill. She became petrified she would not make it up such a steep incline. She asked the volunteer to call for a medic just in case she died on the way up, no lie her words. The volunteer walked with us, we went slow and steady, up and over the big rocks and when she got to the top, out came a big “I did it!” and a huge smile and a high five! She truly has no idea how inspiring this is right now that she is just beasting this course. I mean, she isn’t even supposed to be walking to the mailbox! I told her the hard stuff is over, we are almost there. Then we took a selfie! 🙂

mountain selfie

Mile 4 Mile Marker was another milestone for us. When she saw the sign, knowing we had roughly a mile left she got really excited and of course we took the gratuitous picture. With her heart racing and struggling to get her breathing under control she looked at me and said “well crap, I’ve come this far, I can’t quit now with a mile left”…no, no you can not, not today.

Mile 4Continuing on we just keep going, I scale the 10-foot wall and then we approach the floating bridge. Without hesitation she gets up on it and starts across. On the last one she jumps off and immediately her arms shoot over her head and starts jumping up and down in the water. What a sight to see, such a huge smile on her face. When I get over to her, she is out of the water and on the shore and crying. I instantly think something is wrong and I ask if she is okay and needs a medic and you know what? It was a happy cry, she got so emotional completing that obstacle she broke down. I told her not to waste her tears on this one, you save them for when you leap over the fire and get that medal!

On we go, walking to the bucket carry she was having issues and we stopped and again I was about to get the medic. But she no, and just said when she got so excited it took its toll. Actually the whole day had now taken its toll on her and every step was a milestone. She marched on to the bucket carry and got some water and rested while I completed it with no problem.

The Last March

You can hear the festival area, I kept telling her we were so close, but the walking was really starting to break her down. I offered to piggy back ride her, but no that was not an option. It took a while but we made it to the slip wall, I knocked it out. I did the Herc hoist, Tarzan swing and I kicked the bell for her on the rope climb. Then we marched to the dunk wall. I could see the terrified look on her face. I told her not to get in but she did, then she started to hyperventilate of the thought of holding her breath and going under. In the end she did it, like a champ! Nothing but smiles as we get out and look to the fire.

The fire took awhile for her to go, but at this point we were not in a rush. I know her breathing was an issue and I think the thought of jumping over fire and into a water pit may have also been somewhat intimidating. She looked like a lioness actually, she was staring it down, pacing back and forth looking at it as if where to attack it. I am just standing off to the side waiting, my plan was to go with her and jump together and get it all on video from the side view. She walked up to me as if to talk to me and then she just took off.

I am so happy she went, but it was the funniest moment of my day. I wasn’t expecting it, I was a step behind trying to catch up to video and she also kinda blocked me and went to the far right. I was behind and now worried about landing on her, but I just pulled up and went in right behind her. Then I heard it. That laugh. That happy laugh I had heard all day every time she accomplished something.  We climbed out of the pit and marched to the finish and she got her medal.

It was hard to not break down. While her little heart was bursting from over use and stress, my was the complete opposite, sure I was getting choked up but my heart was full. I made her a Spartan and now I know no matter what life throws at her, she will always have this moment to reflect on. I hope this makes her stronger when she gets sick again and we end up watching movies together. I guess the next time I can take 300 and the sequel and we can yell our AROO AROO AROO down the ICU hall! Hopefully I don’t have to do that for awhile. For now, I will visit on chemo day and we can laugh about our adventure.

Natasha we may not get 5-years more with you, but I hope we get more. You have a fragile heart, but it is a heart of a warrior and you have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. Thank you for allowing me to bring you this special moment. I look forward to more adventures in the future! I am so very proud of you for this accomplishment.

Here is our video of the EPIC day.

Run the Jailbreak Austin – 2011 – Race Recap

Burnet, TX – May 7, 2011

I have to say that it is a bit difficult remaining objective when you actually have friends that organize the race and you also work with/for the same race on a business level. Trying to leave the favoritism behind, we (DFW Mudcrew) traveled down to Burnet, TX to tackle the “Run the Jailbreak” breakin free hill country escape. This was already nothing like any of the previous races I had attended, which included The Spartan Sprint, DFW Mudrun, The Survival Race and Warrior Dash.

Yes it is true, this was better than Warrior Dash! Granted, lets keep it in context, while WD has close to 15k people attend, there were no where near that many, I think the approximate head count was close to 3000, it was the setting at Reveille Peak Ranch that made the difference. The setting was amazing, the pavilion overlooking the lake was perfect. When we arrived, it looked as if I was walking into the “Buffalo Chip” campgrounds (biker reference, if you don’t know look it up) and there was obviously a nice party the night before. I am guessing the camping was a hit!

DFW Mud Crew

So here we are, out in the middle of Nowhere, Texas and it appears as though this has a lot of potential. The band starts playing, the food is being served, corn-hole boards are ready to go (bean bag toss), the vendors are lined up, Monster Energy drinks in hand, this is going to be a great day. One of the perks of working with the event organizers is the ability to volunteer (free run!). So I did, and I was lucky to handle the fire hose with the Directors son. Together our job was to hose down the runners right after the start. All I can say, is yes I reverted to the 13 year old kid like my compadre in crime. While I was trying to be nice, my counter part was going for head shots on everyone, I went for the ground, then tried to move them into the slippery slope section. The best part…if you fell down, you were done, we totally kept the hose on…unti you got up and ran away. Every half hour a new batch arrived and the footing just got worse every time!

I know you are waiting for my review, well I can say that this was an AWESOME course. It had monster hills, challenging terrain, a cool slide and some great obstacles. The only draw back was that they didn’t have it chip timed, so trying to remember or find your time was difficult if that matters to you. I finished 3rd in my heat with a time of 32:02 with it being right around 2.86 miles according to my buddies GPS.

Course: This Course was way more than I expected, the big hill alone was a killer, but I can’t say enough how great this course was. I thought the Spartan course in Smithville was hard because of the three consecutive hills, but this was a little bit more challenging, because most of the front of the course was uphill at a slow incline. Not until you really went down the long water slide did you come back down. I loved it so much, I actually ran it twice. The second time, the last wave of the day, I ran with a friends son, my 13 year old buddy, who was no slouch finishing in 38 minutes. We ran the entire course together, at his pace and it was awesome!

Registration: Despite the small area near the entrance, they had the packet pickup pretty much under control and we were in and out without any hiccups. I was even able to snag one of the “white” shirts!

Atmosphere: Beside the run, the location was phenomenal, no wonder Spartan Race snatched up this location for its 2012 Sprint race location. The lodge are overlooking the lake is awesome, enough shade for everyone, we played corn-hole, jammed out to some awesome tunes and it wasn’t a beating like at Warrior Dash with a million people. One of the obstacles the A-frame was right in front so people were cheering others over the obstacle. By far the best after party of the year. I hated that we had to leave and drive back to Dallas!

If Jailbreak 2012 can live up to the 2011 race, then they definitely have a fan in me, it is going to be hard to get over that already established bar, but I think they can do it, I have faith! If you want a code to get a discount, here is your discount code!

Jailbreak Austin 2011

First Run

Time: 32:00

Distance: 3.36

Finish: 3rd in wave

Second Run:

Time: 38:03

Distance: 3.36

Finish: no clue

Warrior Dash – Race Recap 2011

Warrior Dash 2011, another year, new location…

Last year I traveled down to Forney, TX for my first ever Warrior Dash. You can read about that race here.  This year, after meeting a new group of fellow mud junkies, we call ourselves the DFW Mudcrew I was once again ready for the Warrior Dash. This year the race was being held at the DFW Adventure Park, the same exact place as where Run the Jailbreak held it’s fall DFW run.  So this was going to be interesting to see how they would modify the course, or just use the same one.

Two things I have learned about the WD, a lot of people show up (14k) and the atmosphere afterwards is a big ole party.

This year I am not going to go through each obstacle and rate it or tell you about it. Because in reality, they were all really easy.  The course was less than a 5k, only about 2.78 miles.  The most difficult part of the race was actually the Cargo Net and only because we caught up to the group from the previous wave (this was the last time we ran in the middle of day, first waves only from here on out).

So here are a list of the obstacles I remember being in the race, they may not be in true order, but they are pretty close.

  1. Lake crossing
  2. Trailer
  3. Tires and cars
  4. High wall low wall
  5. Rope wall
  6. Balance beam
  7. Tangled wires
  8. Tunnel crawl
  9. Rope roll
  10. Hay bales
  11. Cargo net
  12. Water log roll
  13. Fire
  14. Mud pit

So my thoughts on the WD – this is a great race if you are a beginner to the world of mud runs or you are looking to just have a good time.  The course is relatively easy, most of the running is done on the 4-wheeler trails and the obstacles are in the middle of the trail. I was surprised at how fast the course was and how they used the same basic layout as Jailbreak. There really was not much mud, just crossed one pond, the log rolls and the mud pit at the end.  The other fun part is this is one of the few races that as a group, we actually all dressed up in costumes.  Our group all wore Tutu’s!

But I can tell you that it was during this race that a switch turned on inside of me and I decided to take training for these to the next level. I totally want to win, win my heats, win my age groups and not be so tired.  I spent the whole race trying to catch Mr. Shanks (but to no avail). So here is how I finished up this years WD:

 

 

~

Time: 27:09

Distance: 2.79

Finish: 413 of 14,195

~

 
 

So if you are just looking to have a good time afterwards, see outrageous costumes, drink a lot of beer and listen to good music, then this is definitely the event for you.  I plan on doing it again just for the entertainment factor alone!

Catch you on the flip side ~ Blydawg

Spartan Race – Texas 2011 (Smithville)

March 26, 2010 – Smithville, Texas

2011 is soon going to be a year to remember! My first race of the season and I traveled all the way down to Smithville, Texas.  The home of where Hope Floats was filmed (or at least that is what they claim).  I wanted to do the Spartan Race this year, well simply because it looked fun! So here is my review of the Spartan Race.

The draw to the Spartan Race was that everyone was dressed like a Spartan.  Since I had just finished watching the season of Spartacus on Starz, I couldn’t resist the temptation to dress up for this run.  I normally do not wear costumes but I figured what the heck. So I went out and got my Spartan uniform and went to Smithville!

I have to say that unlike some of the other races (Warrior Dash) there were not many crazy costumes.  I was expecting a ton of Spartans, sadly, while I was there, there were not many.  A little over 1500 people ran the race, I happened to be at the 12pm wave (see what procrastination gets you) and I mostly saw a huge population of military guys with no shirts on.  I have to say that while some of the other venue’s keep tweeting about a 58% female sign up, there were only 30% females at this race.  I think there were more employees in costume than runners.  But I donned my gear, I wore a Spartan helmet, shin guards, forearm guards and a Spartan skirt. Sadly, I did not run in the helmet, I ditched it right after the start; it was too light and would not stay on. I am so glad I did, because I was sure I would not have survived the course with that thing on. Okay, so here is my review for the Spartan Race!

With the pre-race photo’s out of the way, it was time to get my game face on, no one could really see my game face because I was in full Spartan mode! I had my helmet on, although I never intended to run in it, it kept coming off and I was afraid of losing it (I want it for future races!).  So having stretched out, ran in place, jumping jacks, I was ready! The gun went off and here we go, I was close to the front, but behind the Cedar Park football team, I figured I would let them go first and I would catch them later. We received our instructions on the race, our “How to” on the burpees (up/down/pushup/up jump) which we were required to do if we could not complete an obstacle. The smoke started, the cannon blew and we were off! My first issue with the race begins here…the chip timing company, I was not happy that our official time started when the gun went off and not when we cross the start line.  So I lost like 15 seconds getting to the line. Grrr…

Right away we hit OBSTACLE 1, the fire jump and mud pit – interesting obstacle, you jump over the fire grate and you are instantly hit with the fire hose! Good thing the pressure was not that high! Once you ran through the hose, you were greeted with a shin deep mud pit.  I was able to run through this without many problems, just deep enough to get a little wet, mostly your shoes.

So from here you run and run and run. I was very thankful we went through some water right off the bat, made our shoes and socks nice and heavy for the mile plus run until OBSTACLE 2. This was the fun one, we had to go over a 6 Ft. wall, then an identical wall was behind it except the bottom board was missing, we had to crawl under it.  After that was the car tires hanging in mid air you had to go through. Rinse and repeat and you were off to running.  I kind of felt bad for some of the bigger contestants; they obviously were not fitting through the tire or crawling under the wall.  I made it through the first set no problem, the second set I got caught in the tire, had to turn around and back out.  I also lost my first shin guard here.  One of the straps broke when it got caught on the tire.  I ripped it off and donated it near the pile of race bibs that were collecting due to the tires ripping them off. Back to trail running!

Now we entered into the hardest part of the course, the hills.  There were three or four of them, I can’t remember for sure but they were steep and full of fist sized rocks (loose) that made it difficult to run up.  Needless to say, I needed to have trained for hills, since I did not, my legs felt real heavy and I was sucking wind half way up the first one.  Then i took my Que from the rest of the group…walking up the hills is easier.  Trotting down the back side and walking up the hills. Mentally I was pissed at myself for walking, but what could I do? I was sucking air bad and the hills were tough to walk up much less run (did I mention first run of the year and not in shape yet?)

Coming out of the hills, we ran some more and then came upon OBSTACLE 3– the balance beam.  Good job here SR, the 2×4 layout of L shaped forms was tough.  Even more tough since I was breathing hard, it made concentrating and going slow difficult.  I made it to the first intersection (barely) way out of control; I tried to catch my breath, but not having much luck at that.  Continuing on to the second intersection, getting better at balancing, about half way there and boom, fell off…rushing and losing my mental control.  Time for my burpees 1-30 .  Nice hard gravel to do pushups on, that was a great touch.   Oh yeah, the lady counting the burpees, trying to be funny by telling me I lost a shin guard…not so much! I ripped off the other one and donated it to SR.

OBSTACLE 4 – Immediately after the burpees, was to drag this cement ball attached to a large rope, go down and back.  I optioned for a fast walk on this versus running, not hard, but not a piece of cake either.

So we are back off to running through the woods.  I encountered a guy with no shoes, he told me he lost them at the first mud pit, wow I thought, the rocks must have hurt!  So we come upon OBSTACLE 5 – the barbwire crawl.  I was surprised that they actually had real barbed wire and it was real low. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people couldn’t make it under and had to do the burpees.  I saw the first photographer here, go a good picture crawling! By the way the ground here was extremely hard, no mud, just hard rock-like dirt!  Off to running again!

So coming out of the woods we encounter OBSTACLE 6 a cargo net. Followed by OBSTACLE 7 which was this mini lake had to wade through it to the other side and then crawl up a muddy hill inside a tunnel.  Then off to OBSTACLE 8 which was an 8 ft wall. I really had no problem here even though my hands were full of mud, up and over!

OBSTACLE 9 – Another lake, this time we had our Lowe’s 5-gallon buckets and had to keep those horizontal as we walked a circle around the perimeter then walk up hill on wet tires.  Not as hard as some people make it out to be, if you walked on the tires, it was easy, if you tried to step in the middle, it was slippery and muddy.

Coming out of that was a short run to OBSTACLE 10 – another cargo net.  Easy peasy. Even when I am dog tired these obstacles are still pretty easy. A short jaunt and I reached the wall.  They created a 10 ft or so wall with blocks on them simulating a rock climbing wall, only you went sideways. OBSTACLE 11 – The wall was not as hard as you would think by looking at it, as a matter of fact, if you go slow and take your time, it was easy.  I just happened to look away to see where my photography crew was and my foot slipped off and I touched the ground on the last block! Just so happened to be right in front of the obstacle official…burpees 31-60! Grrr…these were not easy and I was already sucking wind.

A short walk later (yes I was done running) was OBSTACLE 12 – The spear throw.  I lost precious time here because they were backed up on all three lanes at first. As usual I always pick the slow line.  After changing lines a few times I get one where there is no one throwing and the obstacle ref decides to walk down the firing line picking up spears, knowing I am not very accurate I was waiting on him to move…which he took his sweet ass time.  So I moved lanes again and threw. My spear hit the bale of hay and didn’t stick…Burpees 61-90! Arrrggghhh, I am starting to hate these things!

Exhausted from burpees I lingered over to the last OBSTACLE 13 – the incline wall, with a giant rope to pull yourself up.  Oh yeah they are pouring water down the wall just for fun.  This was actually pretty easy, except I about fell off the top going over the wall, yes I went to grab the ledge and missed and started falling, but I was on the edge so this giant pole caught me long enough to stand back up and climb down.

Off to the finish, and dead tired, this course definitely took a lot out of me. So approaching the FINISH LINE, there are these two guys with pugil sticks.  Watching them earlier they were kicking the crap out of people and making them flip and crash all over.  So I decided to take the fight to them and I was going to knock them down.  So I went towards the little one! I ran right into him, pushed off, did a spin move and they never hit me! I finished! Yay me!

So my stats for this race were not great in my opinion, although the total miles were close to 3.8 my overall time was 56:02.  Here is the breakdown:

58th out of 198 for Wave 7

77th out of 285 – Men 30-39

427th out of 1,548 Spartan Runners

Things I Think – Thursday 3/18/2010 – SXSW Edition

Nothing says good times like a road trip!  Since Austin, Texas is a mere three-hour and some change drive, the plan was simple, road trip to South by Southwest (SXSW). I have looked forward to this for months, I was not even sure I was going to get to go, then in the 11th hour I got the nod. Since everyone in the industry kept saying how fantastic this event is, my mouth was watering for the experience of SXSW.  It was like nothing else, geeks, techies, directors, actors and musicians all descending on little ‘ole Austin, Texas for nearly two-weeks of good times.  Since I was a SXSW virgin, I was hoping the event would take it easy on me.

So we loaded up the Broscalade pointed the GPS south and mozied on down highway looking for adventure.  Why is it that the first leg of the road trip is always the best? Jamming out to some great tunes and having great conversations, versus just loud music and 20 min naps on the way back.  So we jammed to Rob Base-It Takes Two which was our mantra for the trip (did I just date myself?), drank some coffee and energy drinks all the way down, and arrived ready to rock.

So here is what I think about SXSW. As a whole it is a great concept, there were a bunch of people and cool things happening.  But, I think most of the class sessions were over rated.  It seemed more to me like social media for dummies than anything else.  Although I left some very dumb classes (Zombies, Vampires, & Monsters: Fostering Loyal Genre Communities), I did manage to learn a ton from some of the good ones. One of the more interesting sessions was about Citizen Journalism. I thought a Jerry Springer episode was going on or we were being punked, because the arguments which ensued were comical to say the least.  Are journalist really worried about a blogger like me or citizen journalist taking their job away? I guess so, they were pretty heated, I was waiting for the chair to get busted on someone’s head.  Good Times!

I have a few favorite quotes from the long weekend so I thought I would post them.

  • Hey man you dropped your shank
  • You can never have too much flatware when out in Austin
  • What is it Amateur night? (friends dragging limp body of a friend)
  • It’s kind of like a dating website without the dating
  • I wasn’t that drunk was I? No, except for the part when you fell down
  • We are kind of like Entourage, no I am not Turtle! (and the Not-It’s begin for the “Turtle” designation)
  • Yeah, Brogan didn’t make the list of celebrities to earn the “Name Dropper” badge – Foursquare Dennis Crowley

I got really excited when I saw through my twitter stream the “The Oatmeal” was in town.  I hit him up a couple times and told him I wanted to meet him.  No I am not a crazy stalker guy, I just thought his stuff is really funny and since he is from Seattle, it would be cool to meet him.  Yeah, about that…he dissed me.  Didn’t even get an acknowledgment. Oh well, one day he will be asking to meet me because I am that cool (yeah right), in the meantime, still check out his website The Oatmeal.

Foursquare came/saw/kicked apps! Yes the Foursquare group lead my their Fearless leader and Co-Founder Dennis Crowley brought their own ball, invaded Austin and took on the local favorite Gowalla.  I am sorry Gowalla, but you were TKO’d again this year.  Everywhere you went you heard people checking into this class, creating the line to get into a class or event or how to get this badge and that badge. I ended up with 8 out of 16, may I suggest Mr. Crowley you add a “See the Bats” badge for next year, I couldn’t convince anyone to check them out.  Did I mention that I ran into Mr. Crowley while in line waiting for…ahhh just in line and he is actually a cool guy.  I was asking the secrets of obtaining an elusive badge and he actually told me. I then proceeded to tell him my thoughts on how to make Foursquare better…

I also was able to meet Mr. Mashable himself Pete Cashmore, I even had a cool picture to prove it.  Unfortunately the SXSW Camera monster ate it and I am afraid it will be lost forever.  He actually asked my thoughts on social media and we were conversing until these two chicas (not even very hot) so rudely interrupted for their picture. Can you believe the nerve of them? I mean really, I was talking out of my ass to MASHABLE!!

So, all in all I thought this conference was just…okay, maybe 3 out of 5 beakers.  I think they had too many classes going on at the same time and none of them were ever repeated. So,you basically had to choose and if you picked wrong, then you had to haul ass across the convention center, cross the street to the Hilton, up the escalators 2 floors and get to another session.  At least it felt that way to me.  I never walked so much in my life, me feet still hurt! I think the SXSW producers purposely held the nightly events across town from each other to keep the rickshaw bicycle guys employed. But I am cheap so I walked everywhere.  I met some great people and future leaders of our country (yes I have faith in all of you!) as well as learning about what is to come for 2010…Location, Location, Location.

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Things I Think – Thursday 3-18-2010 SXSW Edition

Nothing says good times like a road trip!  Since Austin, Texas is a mere three-hour and some change drive, the plan was simple, road trip to South by Southwest (SXSW). I have looked forward to this for months, I was not even sure I was going to get to go, then in the 11th hour I got the nod. Since everyone in the industry kept saying how fantastic this event is, my mouth was watering for the experience of SXSW.  It was like nothing else, geeks, techies, directors, actors and musicians all descending on little ‘ole Austin, Texas for nearly two-weeks of good times.  Since I was a SXSW virgin, I was hoping the event would take it easy on me.

So we loaded up the Broscalade pointed the GPS south and mozied on down highway looking for adventure.  Why is it that the first leg of the road trip is always the best? Jamming out to some great tunes and having great conversations, versus just loud music and 20 min naps on the way back.  So we jammed to Rob Base-It Takes Two which was our mantra for the trip (did I just date myself?), drank some coffee and energy drinks all the way down, and arrived ready to rock.

So here is what I think about SXSW. As a whole it is a great concept, there were a bunch of people and cool things happening.  But, I think most of the class sessions were over rated.  It seemed more to me like social media for dummies than anything else.  Although I left some very dumb classes (Zombies, Vampires, & Monsters: Fostering Loyal Genre Communities), I did manage to learn a ton from some of the good ones. One of the more interesting sessions was about Citizen Journalism. I thought a Jerry Springer episode was going on or we were being punked, because the arguments which ensued were comical to say the least.  Are journalist really worried about a blogger like me or citizen journalist taking their job away? I guess so, they were pretty heated, I was waiting for the chair to get busted on someone’s head.  Good Times!

I have a few favorite quotes from the long weekend so I thought I would post them.

  • Hey man you dropped your shank
  • You can never have too much flatware when out in Austin
  • What is it Amateur night? (friends dragging limp body of a friend)
  • It’s kind of like a dating website without the dating
  • I wasn’t that drunk was I? No, except for the part when you fell down
  • We are kind of like Entourage, no I am not Turtle! (and the Not-It’s begin for the “Turtle” designation)
  • Yeah, Brogan didn’t make the list of celebrities to earn the “Name Dropper” badge – Foursquare Dennis Crowley

I got really excited when I saw through my twitter stream the “The Oatmeal” was in town.  I hit him up a couple times and told him I wanted to meet him.  No I am not a crazy stalker guy, I just thought his stuff is really funny and since he is from Seattle, it would be cool to meet him.  Yeah, about that…he dissed me.  Didn’t even get an acknowledgment. Oh well, one day he will be asking to meet me because I am that cool (yeah right), in the meantime, still check out his website The Oatmeal.

Foursquare came/saw/kicked apps! Yes the Foursquare group lead my their Fearless leader and Co-Founder Dennis Crowley brought their own ball, invaded Austin and took on the local favorite Gowalla.  I am sorry Gowalla, but you were TKO’d again this year.  Everywhere you went you heard people checking into this class, creating the line to get into a class or event or how to get this badge and that badge. I ended up with 8 out of 16, may I suggest Mr. Crowley you add a “See the Bats” badge for next year, I couldn’t convince anyone to check them out.  Did I mention that I ran into Mr. Crowley while in line waiting for…ahhh just in line and he is actually a cool guy.  I was asking the secrets of obtaining an elusive badge and he actually told me. I then proceeded to tell him my thoughts on how to make Foursquare better…

I also was able to meet Mr. Mashable himself Pete Cashmore, I even had a cool picture to prove it.  Unfortunately the SXSW Camera monster ate it and I am afraid it will be lost forever.  He actually asked my thoughts on social media and we were conversing until these two chicas (not even very hot) so rudely interrupted for their picture. Can you believe the nerve of them? I mean really, I was talking out of my ass to MASHABLE!!

So, all in all I thought this conference was just…okay, maybe 3 out of 5 beakers.  I think they had too many classes going on at the same time and none of them were ever repeated. So,you basically had to choose and if you picked wrong, then you had to haul ass across the convention center, cross the street to the Hilton, up the escalators 2 floors and get to another session.  At least it felt that way to me.  I never walked so much in my life, me feet still hurt! I think the SXSW producers purposely held the nightly events across town from each other to keep the rickshaw bicycle guys employed. But I am cheap so I walked everywhere.  I met some great people and future leaders of our country (yes I have faith in all of you!) as well as learning about what is to come for 2010…Location, Location, Location.

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.