Thursday, July 10, 2008

Episode 10: Ultradad and the 3 Bear (Stories)

There's a bear out there. On my podcast I discuss my encounters with bears. This one photographed here is on my neighbor's lawn. I'm not joking!
I also discuss product reviews that you read in magazines. In fact here are my notes for the show:

It’s funny how a podcast can develop. I think in the past 10 shows I’ve reviewed my hydration systems, my shoes, my shorts. I wish I had more stuff to review. I don’t know about you folks but other peoples opinions matter to me about gear I’m going to buy. Not so much about shoes because everybody’s feet are different. But I read every review I can find about a product I’m interested in for two reasons. The first I look for experienced people to go through the ins and out of these products before I buy them. Manufacturers tend to highlight the good things about a product and downplay the shortcomings. Magazines I am torn with the opinions from magazines for the simple reason the a large majority of their operating income comes from advertising. Because of this you’ll never see Runners World say Wow those new Nike Air Watchamacallits they suck. The forefoot doesn’t fit many, the heel counter fits poorly and the construction is poor. I give it two thumbs down. Instead you’ll see ten pairs from different manufacturers reviewed, a few will get top marks for design, others will get Editors Choice and the new design for the Air Watchamacallits will get average marks with neutral statements made about it. It’s not that it is highlighted but it isn’t swept under the carpet either. We as the consumer have to read between the lines.

This is where the opinions of consumers become valued. I like going to websites for online stores where the consumer will openly state “They fell apart after 100 miles” Midsole lost cushioning after three weeks, stuff like that. I need to know this sort of stuff because I can’t go into a store and size up the latest gizmo in a 10 minute perusing of the features only to get home and find it isn’t as user friendly as all the ads made it out to be.

This is what I’m going to do. Because I’m the frugalest (sp) the most frugal runner on the face of the Earth. I am going to solicit supplier for their products. The products I’m going to solicit are things that I’d like to have but don’t necessarily need to achieve my goals. For example:
Moeben Arm Warmers
Salomon XT Wings – okay I have a pair and love them but come on they aren’t cheap.
North Face Gear – I know North Face makes some really good quality stuff but do you need it compare to a lesser made pair of gear. I hope to explore the differences.
Gels and Energy Bars – right now I use Power Gels and Sharkies because they are available. I’d like to try other products but I’m frugal and it takes a few runs and a few packs to really know and if it doesn’t work you’ve spent $20 on nothing but a stomach ache.

I’m not looking for sponsorship but who am I kidding it would be nice. Wouldn’t it be cool to actually find a sponsor whose products you chose to be the best out there and not because they were the only ones to flash free stuff and the occasional entry fee. In this way you’d being doing a public service and not selling out. Still I’m skeptical if it would work.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The New Media

Podcasting is the new media. More clearly defined podcasting as a subset of the Internet is the newest medium for conveying information to the targeted masses. By ‘targeted’ masses I mean a specific listening audience that is intent on finding information about a topic. My podcast is about running more specific than that I key in on trail running and even more specific than that ultra distance trail running.

I don’t know what the numbers are and I’m sure some company somewhere has been paid to keep tabs on the numbers but a lot of people are into fitness, whether it is diets and keeping the pounds off any way they can or activity based fitness. Of those people are born the runners which possible number into the hundreds of millions. In my own corner of the world the Vancouver Sun Run, a local 10K, had 50,000 participants this year. Of those people there are marathoners or aspiring marathoners. I’ve been told that marathoners constitute ½ of 1% of the world’s population. If that is even remotely close that may seem like a minority in the world but that translates to 5 million people worldwide. Add to that the aspiring and the number grows even more. Ultra distance runners are even fewer than that. But the aspiring from that are probably bordering on similar numbers to sum to the total population. In other words everyone who has run a step to classify themselves a runner probably has considered or is at least intrigued by a marathon so the numbers of aspiring plus actual marathoners borders on the total population of runners. A similar argument can be debated for ultra marathoners. So you see creating a podcast about trail running and ultra marathoning may not be as obscure as one would think.

My nine year old recently asked me what an alter ego was. He had heard the expression on a TV show that he had been watching, I tried as best I could in terms that a nine year old would understand that as alter ego is like a secret life or something you do that is different from your everyday life. Without waxing on the philosophical, I said it was like being a superhero and an everyday guy like Clark Kent and Superman. I remember reading the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty a terrific story about a daydreamer who escapes into different worlds only to be brought back to reality by the circumstances that surround him. For that brief moment we are with him we are right there for those interludes those romantic escapes. And that in essence is my podcast.

My approach to podcasting is to be myself. I am one of you. I am you. I am a middle of the pack, working, mortgage paying, forty-something, father of three, happily married living in the suburbs and escaping to the trails every chance I get. My real escape is chasing my dream of running the ultra distances. The Walter Mitty in me escapes into a world some only daydream of and I take you with me. Whether you listen streaming online at your cubicle at work or you yourself are grinding out a workout of your own.

I think my appeal will be just that. As I get out there and record my podcast, it is for those of you who run or those of you who aspire will be able to relate or grab little tidbits of the experience of long run. My intent is to inspire and motivate, to educate and commiserate. You know its great to read the blogs of the ultra distance elite like Krupicka and Meltzer but they probably feel no pain. And if they do they don’t let on about it. My podcast is stream of consciousness, moment by moment as the run unfolds. It is for the most part unscripted but sometimes researched ahead of time.

To paraphrase Steve Runner of the Phedippidations Podcast, Podcasting is about the community. It’s about expanding our own horizons and in the process expanding those of others. For me it is making the impossible seem possible, there are no boundaries just hurdles. I hope you enjoy my podcast and discover your dreams in the process.