Category Archives: Sports

Ride Report & Thank You: Obliteride 2017

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Obliteride #5 has come and gone. These 500 words are my way of saying Thank You to all my friends & family who donated to help fight cancer; to honor those who are fighting it themselves; and to remember too many who have lost the fight, but whose memories live on.

I struggle to sum up this event (it’s more than just a 2-day, 153.5 mile bike ride) in just a single theme. But there is one word that comes to mind: Grit. Not the gritty road dirt that builds up on your chain and in your pores, nor the gritty BC fire smoke that miraculously cleared the day before we set out. The grit I’m thinking of is the grit of determination to train, fundraise, and show up day after day, week after week; then push yourself for 18 hours up 10,000 feet of hills, through a crash, and all the way through to the finish line.

Why? Because by working this hard, we show just how hard we’re willing to work to make cancer go away.

Here are some favorite moments of the weekend:

  • Josh, who trained a total of 100 miles (that’s being generous), pushing the Siri button on his phone and saying, “Crispr, make me faster.”
  • Meeting a primatologist, turned real estate developer, who turned out to be an Issaquah neighbor.
  • Riding Mark’s comfy bike (Josh rode my Madone).
  • Giving Ellen, my favorite volunteer, a big hug in Gig Harbor.
  • Arriving in Burien, after the amazing ride through Normandy Park, and stopping for espresso with some other “Random Nerds.”
  • Sending pics and pleas from the ride to my last few donors to push my fundraising over the top.
  • Ben, my teammate from Fred Hutch, taking a break from ice cream and blackberries, to explain how gene therapy works, as we pushed to be the last team to cross the Day 1 finish line in Tacoma.
  • Feeling like a Rock Star: Free food, SWAG galore, massages, dudes who pump your tires and lube your chain (and watch your bike), and live music. Plus, not one, but two police escorts, to help us navigate Seattle and Tacoma.
  • Fingerling potatoes (Winner, Best Snack, Alki). Still dreaming of them!
  • Crossing the finish line with Gail, Eli, Jed and Sophia high-fiving me thru the chute (Josh, having finished 30 minutes before me, was also there :-0)

About the fundraising… This year was my best yet. Thanks to two amazing sponsors, Alex Kochis of FiveBy Solutions, and Larry Engel, who provided very generous matching donations, plus 30+ fantastic donors, I was able to clear $8,500, vs. Goal 1 of $1,000, Goal 2 of $3,000, and Goal 3 of $5,000. What a Team!

I know it’s meaningful, because Fred Hutch keeps thanking me, and sending me free stuff. Now I’m not just a “Pacesetter,” but also a member of the “High Five” club!

So thank you to everyone who helped, and sent their good wishes. Josh had just a minor, low-speed crash on some wet train tracks, and probably hurt the people he fell on more than he hurt himself!

Thank you, 2017 Random Nerds FC: Josh, Ben, and Justin (Honorary).

I hope next year we can keep up the momentum, and G-d willing, we can Cure Cancer Faster. Next year will be all about growing the team, so make a plan to join the Nerds for Obliteride #6.

In Loving Memory of: Dad, Marty, Julie.

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Offseason Training: Not Just for Old Guys

[Ed. Note: I wrote this post for a Eli’s soccer club, the ISC Gunners FC]

Our kids work like crazy to build their soccer skills, drag us from Seattle to Spokane and back, and compete against the best players in their age brackets. Bumps and bruises are a daily occurrence, and trips to the chiropractor or urgent care, a regular fixture.

I recently expressed my frustration to Eddie Henderson, from our ISC Gunners coaching staff. Eddie, a former pro soccer player and All-American from UW, responded with an action-packed discussion about how to use off-season and off-field time to build strength and conditioning, and reduce the chances of injury. I was so inspired by Eddie’s ideas and enthusiasm that I wanted to share some of these ideas with you.

I’m an athlete myself, and as I’ve aged, I’ve learned the increasing value of off-season training – not doing the same thing all year round, but actively switching the routine, in order to target new muscle groups, strengthen problem areas, and keep myself fresh. The same ideas apply to kids’ soccer.

The Gunners, like other soccer clubs around the country, face a problem: Kids love soccer. They love soccer so much that they tend to overdo it. They become highly conditioned in some areas, running & shooting for example, and less so in others. The injuries that we’re seeing, ACL as an extreme example, are often the result of too much strength in the front of the leg, and not enough to compensate in the hamstrings in back. Eddie has noticed injuries tend to crop up early each season, when kids have been relatively idle during off-season breaks.

A movement is afoot nationally to provide off-season conditioning designed for growing bodies, to stabilize, strengthen and balance their musculature. Other sports have also discovered the huge benefit of this type of training. During college, while competing at UW, Eddie realized he’d never be the biggest player, but used cross-training to gain speed and agility. He went on to play 11 years of professional soccer. That’s how Eddie became a believer in this approach – and our Club’s official conditioning and training expert.

Some recommendations which might help:

  1. Ask your kid’s doctor, PT, or trainer for some basic exercises to target any problem areas during the holidays. We just got a recommendation for jumping rope as a great calf-strengthener.
  2. Talk to your kids about over-training, and about spending some downtime on another sport. My son likes skiing, racquetball, and rock-climbing, for example.
  3. Check out this site: http://www.force10performance.com. They have programs aimed at soccer clubs like ours, and Eddie is working on arranging some pilot programs for Gunners.

It would be great to get more parents involved in this conversation. Cross-training, even if it involves one more practice per week, can make sports much more enjoyable, and maybe even cut down on trips to the chiropractor!

Write back and let me know some of your favorite off-season change-ups.

My Obliteride Speech

Here is a copy of the speech I gave at the Obliteride starting line on Sunday, August 14th, in Tacoma.

Thank you, Steve. My name is David Lazar. I’m captain of Team RNFC, which stands for Random Nerds F*ck Cancer. This summer I’ve had the privilege to do some pretty amazing events: RAMROD, Obliteride, and if I survive today, I’ll be swimming 2.5 miles across Lake Washington on Wednesday morning.

The most important event of the summer, however, took place two Mondays ago, when, after having been diagnosed with glioblastoma 11 months prior, my Father, Brett Lazar, passed away.

The condolences came pouring in, and among them was a note from Amy, Obliteride’s Executive Director, asking if I was still planning to ride, whether it would be too soon. I told Amy I was ALL IN. I felt, and still feel, that Obliteride would be a chance to honor my Father, and that while it would be emotional, there would be nothing like being immersed in the caring community that Obliteride represents.

Amy agreed, and asked me to speak here today.

Photo Aug 13, 8 55 42 PMAs I rode our beautiful Kitsap Peninsula yesterday, I spent some time thinking about why I love to ride my bike, and why I’m here riding in my fourth Obliteride this weekend.

Maybe it’s these stylish outfits? Or not! Maybe it’s the fact that when we finish, we get to eat whatever the hell we damn well please!?!

More likely, it’s that feeling of invincibility we got when we crossed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, or rode through the finisher’s chute, that there’s nothing that can hurt us.

Or the amazing feeling of riding with a guy like Ben, a Fred Hutch scientist, and having him explain over beers last night how Immunotherapy works. How cool is that?

But the strongest reasons I can think of are really these two. First, it’s the transformative power that we now have to go out and inspire people with the stories that we’ve heard, and the memories that we’ve made together, this weekend.

And finally, I think we ride because with each turn of the crank — and I calculated we will ALL turn the cranks on our bikes 40,000 times this weekend alone — with each turn, we get one step closer to PUTTING CANCER BEHIND US.

Now I’d like to finish with a short prayer, and while I read it, please think about the names of the people you are riding for today.

“In my left hand, I hold my grief; in my right, gratitude. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give.”

Thank you, and have a great Obliteride!

This Year’s Very Difficult Fundraising Appeal

 

Dad

Today I’m kicking off my fundraising for Obliteride, my fourth annual ride to benefit Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), and my annual request to friends to help support my favorite charity.

All the scientific reasons I listed last year for supporting Fred Hutch still apply. (Read that letter here.)

This year, my ride, and my ask, is a very personal one for me. In September, my Father, Brett, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, the same brain cancer that may have killed Beau Biden. My Dad is not as famous as Biden, but is a man who has shared many gifts with me, my family, our community, and the world. Dad was a dedicated Public Health doctor and spent his career educating people and building programs & institutions to promote good health. The fact that Dad contracted a deadly cancer after tirelessly advocating for health and well-being underscores how random and unfair cancer can be.

Fred Hutch is pioneering treatment methods and research into this rare, but deadly form of cancer, and while time seems very short for my Dad, new ideas and treatment possibilities are coming up literally every day.

Obliteride is August 13th & 14th this year. In addition to making my own donation, I’ll be riding 150 miles with my Random Nerds FC team, and 1500+ like-minded people, and I hope you’ll support my fundraising goal of $1500, with a small donation of your own. Here’s the link to make an online donation for me. Do it today and help me support Fred Hutch and help honor my Dad, Brett Lazar.

 

2015 Fundraising Appeal – Obliteride

Today I’m kicking off my fundraising for Obliteride, my third annual ride to benefit Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center (FHCRC), and my annual request to friends to help support my favorite charity.

I’ve written before about my work towards helping to repair the world – I feel an obligation to share what I can, and I hope you’ll join me. Many friends ask me to help with their fundraising; this is an invitation for us to be part of a “circle of giving.” If you’re interested, post back to let me know what you’re doing, and how I can help.

I’m particularly excited about Obliteride and Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, for the following reasons:

  • Bone marrow transplant was invented at Fred Hutch.
  • Immunotherapy and Genomics – today’s research focus at FHCRC – have a very strong potential of curing most human cancers within 10 years. These therapies involve sequencing an individual’s cancer genes, and then using that individual’s own immune system to attack and eliminate the cancer.
  • FHCRC vision to treat cancer: Blood test, small surgery, vaccine. Amazing stuff, and way better than chemo!
  • FHCRC is also one of the top researchers in the world for HIV. Their research focus is “DNA editing enzymes” which has broad potential for treating HIV and other viruses, which also frequently complicate cancer patients’ recovery.
  • Obliteride money raised last year actually helped FHCRC develop new blood-testing technology. It used to cost $500 per person to get a blood test in Africa or S. America. Now, a Fred Hutch-developed paper-based carrier can be used with a splatter of blood, and mailed to a testing center for just $0.50, dramatically reducing the cost – and increasing the reach – of blood testing.

One more reason – as if that wasn’t enough to inspire you, is a very personal one for me. It was exactly ten years ago that my good friend and mentor, Marty Levin, died from Multiple Myeloma, a deadly blood cancer. Marty enriched my life, and the lives of so many people, in so many ways, that I’ve dedicated my fundraising efforts this year to try to eradicate cancer – in his memory and gratitude for our friendship.

Obliteride is August 9th. In addition to donating $250 of my own, I’ll be riding 100 or so miles with 1000+ like-minded people, and I hope you’ll support my fundraising goal of $1500, with a small donation of your own. Here’s the link to make an online donation. Do it today and help me support Fred Hutch and remember my good friend, Marty!

Josh and the tub

Newly Impassioned Soul

I heard Mumford & Sons “Roll Away Your Stone” on the iPod the other day. It was one of those gorgeous warm afternoons we’ve been savoring as part of Febru-ly in Seattle (follows June-uary, thank you to Gail, apologies to my fellow skiers and NY in-laws!)

The song brought me back to an epic ride from August 2011, that I thought I’d share with you. Conveniently, Josh and I made a video about it, which you can now watch here.

Courage Classic is a 3-day charity ride (i.e. non-competitive) that runs each August in the mountains east of Seattle. What made the ride so amazing for me was that it was the first time out for more than just a short day ride with my son, Josh, who had just turned 16. It was a father-son rite of passage, something that happens once in a lifetime — if you’re lucky.

The basic elements of the ride: Three days on the bike, two nights camping. All-you-can-eat meals and snacks catered by volunteer organizations competing for your votes of appreciation. Portable shower truck at each stop and the finish. Camping gear hauled for free by UPS. On-road support vehicles. Live music. Beer. Waterfalls. All you have to do is fundraise/donate, train for a couple of months, then climb and descend Snoqualmie Pass, Blewett Pass and Stevens Pass, a total of around 180 miles (of bliss!)

For the movie, we mixed a time-lapse sequence from Josh’s GoPro Hero HD, along with cellphone stills and an amazing hula dance (what some people will do for a free T-shirt!) Some fun facts that take you back: Josh is wearing a Windows Vista jersey; and at one point during the time-lapse, you get a quick glimpse of Jay Inslee, who was beginning his campaign for governor at the time, and riding with his son.

Since that ride, Josh has become quite an adventurous outdoorsman (check out his YouTube channel here.) The ride was a hard one for him – he was about to come down with mono, and almost bailed – but I’m so grateful to have been able to share something so special with my son.

By the way, if you think the whole thing sounds like fun, but want to try something a little less challenging, I have a tip for you. The guy who ran Courage Classic is now running Obliteride in Seattle, with rides from 25- to 180 miles, the second weekend in August. The hospitality isn’t exactly the same, but pretty darn close, and it’s a great cause! I have a team, and we start training in May.

Get Motivated: Pay Yourself

Tis’ the season for resolutions. Perhaps you’ve already been through a cycle of resolving to change, trying, failing and giving up.

I’ve been reading a ton about how people can achieve their goals, especially fitness-related goals. Real change is hard, witness the industries that are vying for your attention and money – TV shows, books, gyms, diets, new phones, fitness bands and apps.

I have a simple system that will help you succeed with your fitness goals, change your behavior for the long term, and the price is a one-time fee of whatever you want.

Before I tell you how to meet your goals, a little about me. I’m a fitness success story. I took up triathlon at age 40 after being relatively sedentary in my 20’s and 30’s. I’ve competed in at least one race or long-distance endurance event every year since. At age 50, I completed the half-Ironman in under 6 hours. I’ve been bike commuting year-round since 2008, my longest daily commute was 27 miles each way. And I still work out 5 or more hours a week, every week.

I’m also a student of human behavior, having been a marketer at Microsoft for 20 years. I’ve studied how customers respond to pricing, messaging, incentives, coupons, free offers, etc.

So I think I’m pretty well qualified to suggest a system for behavior change. My system is based on my experience and the latest research.

The key insight that experts have observed is that behavioral change is nothing more than establishing a new habit. In general, it takes people just a few weeks or months of successful performance to establish a habit. Once the habit is established, it’s very hard to change. Meaning, if you do this successfully, you may be able to sustain your goal for years to come.

The next insight is that financial rewards work. A cash prize of $10 per visit is enough to convince most people to go to the gym. Cash penalties of equal magnitude for non-performance increase the success rate.

Finally, people perform best when goals are clear and attainable, and they are externally observed. This last bit is important. Have you ever noticed when you’re running or biking and you approach or pass someone, your form improves and you speed up? That’s because we all like to be observed doing well.

Here’s my method:

  1. Set an attainable goal, for example: “I will ride my bike or go to the gym 3 times per week, 60 minutes each time, for 5 weeks. I will start this Saturday.”
  2. Write your goal and post it in a spot you see every morning. (Morning works well because you have time to make plans. If you have to go home to get your gear after work, chances are better you’ll fail that day.)
  3. Put 3 glass jars near the goal placard. Put your chosen sum of cash in the middle jar. I recommend $100 in this case, 5 weeks x $20 for each week. You decide exactly what amount works for you.
  4. The right-hand jar is for successful performance. Move $20 one jar to the right each Saturday if you made your goal of 3 gym visits. Congrats!
  5. The left-hand jar is for non-performance. Move $20 one jar to the left if you missed.
  6. You can cut yourself some slack. If it’s Saturday, and you only went twice, count today’s workout toward the previous week and start your next week on Sunday (tomorrow).
  7. When all the money is in the right-hand jar, congrats, you have attained your goal and probably established a healthy habit. Spend the money on something nice – an evening out with your S.O., new gear – something you wouldn’t normally buy. But do not take a break, keep going! If you feel any hesitation, cough up another $100.
  8. If all the money ends up in the left-hand jar, get ready to do something really distasteful, like giving the money to the NRA or some cause you personally detest. You will have selected this organization at the beginning so you will be working throughout to avoid it.

By the way, there are apps that use this methodology, I prefer the low-tech approach, but feel free to use one if you like.

Leave me a comment and tell me about your biggest fitness challenge and whether my idea works for you!