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brandonsmaratho July 24 2014, 00:08

Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-07-23 23:23:26



Baby-G rocking the 880v4 from New Balance. #runningshoes #running #gearist #kids #cute If you liked this post...Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-05-10 18:36:49Instagram #picoftheday...

IronBrandon is dedicated to triathlon, running, cycling, swimming and the people who get out and do it...
supermanz posted to runners July 23 2014, 14:50


Good morning runners! Here's the daily training thread!

It's a hot one out there already and only getting warmer. I'm going to go out and suffer for about an hour in a little bit. Then there will be some DMVing this afternoon and later this evening another hour or so. Maybe even some time in the pool. Living on the edge over here, lemme tell ya.

So what is everyone else up to today, training and otherwise?

Discuss... and HAPPY RUNNING!
simply_recipes July 22 2014, 22:08

Squash Blossom Quesadillas



Squash Blossom Quesadillas

Have you ever eaten squash blossoms? The thought of preparing them always seemed a little daunting to me, until a friend made some for me for a traditional Mexican quesadilla (Quesadilla de Flor de Calabazas). They’re so easy! You just roughly chop them and sauté them with onions and garlic. The flavor is lovely, like zucchini but more delicate, and perfect in a quesadilla with cheese and corn tortillas.

Continue reading "Squash Blossom Quesadillas" »

nothinfinah posted to runners July 22 2014, 19:32

My first half marathon

On Sunday 20th, after a busy weekend of toddler birthday fun and a fitful 5hours of broken sleep I woke up at 4:10 and caught a 5am train to Grant Park for the Rock'n'Roll Chicago Half Marathon!

I switched trains at Belmont and while waiting for the next train and spotting other runners I was approached by a drunk party dude finishing up his Saturday Night. He said something about "Half marathon? How far is that? 13miles? That's it?! I could do that drunk and win with a 5.5min/mi pace." Yawn. Okay dude. Sure. Good for you.
I tried not to let him psych me out but I was getting kind of pissed off. Maybe he meant to be positive by saying it's not that far, but it didn't come across that way. He asked what my goal was, what Full marathon I wanted to do. I said I've never run 13 miles before so finishing today would be a win for me and I don't particularly want to run 26 miles.
I got on the next train which was way more crowded with runners and felt kind of mixed emotions about the race. On the one hand "ohmygod! 13 miles! I've only ever run 10.3, can I do this? I feel like I'm pretending to be something I'm not."
On the other hand "I've run 10.3miles, this is just a little bit further, I'm wearing my camel bak and taking sensible hydration precautions, I can walk if ?I need to. I'm not the slowest runner ever."
I was annoyed that drunk party dude had got into my head :(

I got to the park and found my corral and immediately felt much more relaxed :) "These are my people!" These are the runners aiming to keep my kind of pace and finish around the 2:15mark. I overheard a few other people chatting about it being their first half marathon and feeling nervous. "I'm not alone!" :)

6:30am start of the race and corral 20 made it to the start line at 6:55am.
So this was the Rock n Roll series but for the first few miles it was pretty quiet. Just past Mile 4 there was a stage with a guy on it but no band. The course map shows that that should have been stage #4 (of 12) but I don't remember hearing any other music before then. I commented to a fellow runner that for a Rock n Roll race it sure was quiet and she agreed. We chatted as we ran for about half a mile and I left her at a water station.
The first 6miles weaved around down town Chicago but then just past Mile 6 we headed south on Michigan for about 2.5miles. This was probably when I started to get a little bored and wish I had a running buddy. By this point I'd been running for an hour and now I was just running in a straight line with little of interest to distract me other than the 2 music stages. My run tracker app on my phone (mapmyrun) was running faster than the course was suggesting (telling me I was at Mile 9 when I was only at Mile 8 etc) so I had no idea of my pace. I took a couple of short walk breaks starting around Mile 9 but am trying not to beat myself up about them.
At mile 9.5 we passed a supporter dressed as Santa and joked "Have we  been running that long that Santa is here?!".
At Mile 10 there was an awesome DJ who blasted some high energy dance music which helped my energy and pace.
At around mile 11.5 my friend from Mile 4 caught up with me during a short walk break and spurred me on. "All right English girl! Let's do this! You got this!" We ran the last mile together chatting about running and families and at Mile 13 she told me we have to finish strong and sprint :) So we did! I sprinted across the finish line with arms up and a smile on my face. Woo!

And then in the fog of finishing my new friend reminded me to get my medal and grab some chocolate milk and a banana :)
I just completed a half marathon! 13.1miles! 21kilometers! Crazy.

When I registered back March I had estimated my finish time at 2:15 and my official finish time was 2:16:16 :) I feel pretty awesome about that and wouldn't have managed it if it weren't for my new running buddy.
For reference, Lewis' finishing time for his first half marathon in September was 2:16:09. Just 7 seconds faster! <3

I walked a leisurely pace to Yolk to meet the gang for brunch then a 2nd leisurely walk to the train (a total of 3miles). It was fun to see other runners with medals and feel part of a new club.

I can't believe I completed my first half marathon. I can't believe I said "I would do that again". I can't believe I started thinking about "Next time I'll do it in cooler weather. Next time I'll try to run the whole thing and not take walk breaks". Who am I?! :)
I still have no desire to run a full marathon. :P
brandonsmaratho July 22 2014, 18:46

IronBrandon Show: Episode 202



Gearist Ironman Chattanooga Video Diaries Follow me on Strava Ironman Chattanooga Ironman Chattanooga Swim Course Ironman Chattanooga Bike Course (Elevation and map detail here) If you liked this...

IronBrandon is dedicated to triathlon, running, cycling, swimming and the people who get out and do it...
runner_26 July 22 2014, 15:32

Summer in Full Swing and Menu Planning - July 20


Summer is here! It's seriously time to start enjoying the warm weather - and we have been doing our best! Whether it's menu themed or activity related, we are trying to capture all the offerings of our short summers and make some happy seasonal memories. 

It's been a while since I've mentioned pilates classes, but I'm still a once-a-week regular with my close group of friends. Last week, Baby J wanted to show off her new skill on the reformer! She also loved the mirrors and was curious about that cute baby staring back at her ;)

standing by reformer

Our dinners last week were jam packed with vegetables, and this broccoli and roasted red pepper salad not only looked delicious, but had plenty of taste and flavor. It was pretty hearty on its own, but we placed it over whole wheat pasta for a very filling meal. It also made for a perfect outdoor concert picnic meal, since it was easy to pack and only required a fork to eat.

broccoli/pepper salad

This wasn't a dinner item, but it was pretty fantastic and shockingly easy, so I wanted to share it.  My SIL sent me this recipe for Greek Yogurt pancakes, which packs a serious amount of protein. I used full fat plain greek yogurt (Fage), but you can use any flavor of yogurt you want. Big Girl ate about three of them, so I consider them a success. (Note: there is no added sugar in these flapjacks, only what's in the yogurt, which isn't much.)

protein packed breakfast

dense and delicious

Before I share this week's menu plans, here are some summeresque photos from this year's first trip to the beach. Unfortunately, I did not run there this time, but plans are in the works for a beach run soon. Big Girl loved the sand and (cold) water. So did her sister. It was a great time for all.

braving the chilly water

proud to stand in the sand

lovin the waves

beaching with my girls

Ok - menu: 

Sunday - we returned home in the evening so dinner was ordered in. Luckily this makes for good leftovers, which have served us well for lunches. 

Monday - last night was another panzanella salad (really just onion, tomato, basil and some bread) along with veggie burgers from Morningstar.  I admit, I fell for the "free sample promotion" at a recent art fair. We tried them there and thought they were pretty good, so I went and bought some. We went with the spicy black bean and tomato basil pizza burgers (black bean was better). It's not the greatest dinner, but in a pinch, it's not the worst. I'm trying to think of toppings that would enhance the patties (raw veggies piled high, a spicy mayo, sliced tomatoes, sour cream??). Next time we will build a better better. 

Tuesday - zucchini and carrot a scapece (though I used yellow squash instead of zucchini) and I plan to serve these vinegar and herb-marinated veggies over whole wheat pasta with a bunch of wilted spinach thrown in along with some freshly grated pecorino cheese. Had I thought it through better, I might have added onions to the mix. Still could. 

Wednesday - we will have a full day playdate with our besties and I plan to serve a taco dinner. The veg version will include a bean spread (black beans, jalepeno, cilantro, olive oil, cumin) and the meat version will be ground beef with taco seasoning. Toppings will include cheese, scallions, avocado, shredded lettuce, tomato, and sour cream. There will be a choice of soft or hard shells. I hope the kids have fun with this. 

Thursday - Stick visit!! I'm super psyched for Mama L to join us for a few days with her two awesome kiddos! Seriously, I can't wait. I've picked two dinners to share that I hope will be well-received. For Thursday I will do another rendition of the grains and greens dish that I absolutely loved last week. To refresh memories (mainly mine), the greens are chard and kale with our homemade cashew sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and some peppers (mildly sweet ones b/c that's what they had). These will be served over soba noodles. Edamame might make a nice appetizer for this meal. 

Friday - pizza! I just refreshed my pizza dough supply last night, so we are ready to decorate. I'm thinking of a straight up cheese pizza for the kids and maybe roasted red pepper and goat cheese for the adults. I don't want to overcomplicate the toppings and I want to keep it vegetarian. There will likely be some greens for the a simple side dish.

I'll end here with this photo of my Big Girl taking a "warm up break" at the pool this past weekend. That girl lives the life. 

supermanz posted to runners July 22 2014, 14:21


Good morning runners! Here's the daily training thread!

My ankle is feeling much better. I think I'll be heading to the gym in a little bit for some pool work and later this evening, depending on how everything feels, a short, easy run. That's it for me today. Also, more sleep. Maybe a nap. And an early bed time.

So what is everyone else up to today, training and otherwise?

Discuss... and HAPPY RUNNING!
run_morrissey July 21 2014, 16:15

'14 NY Giants 5K - 18:15/5:54


Net Time - 18:15
Pace - 5:54
AG - 71.85%
Rank - 48

First time setting foot at the MetLife Stadium.  The course was similar to the defunct Shea 5K Chase to the home plate.  I found it hard to justify a $50 for a 5K but to experience something new will gain precedence. Overall the course was flat with the exception of the ramp leading towards the stadium.  With all the logistics, I probably won't be competing this race next year.  Although I did get a feel of dirty jersey from my run from Secaucus to Hoboken!  Still haven't broke the 18 min barrier yet, will try again-

01 -    5:45:19
02 -    5:55:45
03.1 - 6:33:77

@ Smorgasborg & Berry Park

@ Aspen

thisisgoingtobe July 21 2014, 13:03

Growth is a Commodity


If there's one thing we've basically figured out in the digital world, it's marketing.  There's no more well tread aspect of building an online business than marketing.  We've got more channels, tools, and analytics to tell you weather or not it's working than you can shake a stick at.

It's table stakes.  You spend some dollars to get more dollars out.  It's not complicated.  

That's why I care much more about engagement--do people like what you built, versus whether or not more people used it today than they did yesterday.  Plus, the startup world is littered with companies that grew exponentially without becoming successful--Fab, Turntable, Dailybooth, etc.  

If people engage regularly with your product, but you can't get more people to use it, you've got a marketing problem.  Marketing problems, for the most part, are solvable by a very distinct set of best practices.  You've just got to figure out why the current set of people like it, and find more of them.  Now, maybe there just aren't that many people out there, but for the most part I see a lot of low hanging fruit ways that marketing could improve.

On the other hand, if people are coming, but they're not engaging, you've got a product problem.  Sometimes, it's easily fixible.  Other times, you're just so way off on product/market fit that you've fallen into "bad idea" territory, and there's really no timetable for fixing a bad idea.   

On top of that, there's another problem that startups have more trouble figuring out than marketing--scaling.  What do you do when you actually start getting people in the door?  How does your sales support staff change?  Where's the first bottleneck?  Does the experience in your marketplace suffer at all because you've got an influx of too many sellers, or buyers?

In a seed round, I think it's safer to prove engagement and the ability to create a scalable process, than to load up on customers.  This way, you know that you've got enough in place not to fall apart when you do grow.

That being said, I'm tired of companies saying "And we haven't spent any money on marketing."  The fact that marketing is a commodity, to me, means that this is a box you should have already tested in some way.  If it's not 100% obvious why someone would use your product or how they could be marketed to, not doing any market testing is like saying "I ran the marathon with one shoe!"  

Why would you do that, let alone why would you be proud of it?  If anything, it just confuses an investor.  Do you not know how to market this company?  Are the channels for acquisition unclear?  No one says you have to spend tons of money on this, but to spend zero seems bewildering.

You could spend it on Google ads, Facebook, PR, content marketing, referral programs... really, anything.  While marketing isn't a secret magic sauce that will turn your startup successful, it's certainly going to tell you a lot about whether your product resonates.  

You need some minimum amount of people coming through the door to tell whether you've got something.

So let's recap this meandering Monday morning post:

Early on, engagement is better than growth.

People have figured out how to do marketing--you should go learn what everyone else knows.

It's a basic part of running a business, so don't skip it entirely either.

supermanz posted to runners July 21 2014, 12:30


Good morning everyone! Happy start to the week (well, my training week at least). Here's the daily training thread!

I'm just getting up after sleeping for about 11 hours. I'm in Philadelphia and need to drive back to NC pretty much now. That will take most of my day. If I get back early enough I'll get in the pool and maybe do some pool running and some laps.

So what is everyone else up to today, training and otherwise?

And how was your weekend? Do anything fun? Share! I was in Philly to help crew and pace some friends who were doing a 24 hour race around the Schuylkill River. One set a distance PR and the other won the damn thing. I ended up running ~67 miles total pacing between Saturday and Sunday, including 51 miles with the guy who won straight through from early Sunday morning to the end. NOT what I was expecting to do, my ankles are a little unhappy with me but I otherwise survived.

Discuss... and HAPPY RUNNING!
simply_recipes July 21 2014, 03:35

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes Creole Style



Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

There’s a reason why the Southern dish of stewed okra and tomatoes is timeless. It’s just plain good. First you start with browning some bacon, then you add the holy trinity—onions, bell pepper, and celery, then the tomatoes, okra and spices. Everything is cooked together until tender and almost falling apart.

Continue reading "Stewed Okra and Tomatoes Creole Style" »

brandonsmaratho July 19 2014, 19:30

Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-07-19 18:36:50



Colorado-bound carry-on bags. Let’s just hope we make our connection! #orf #travel If you liked this post...Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-07-12 13:32:08Instagram #picoftheday...

IronBrandon is dedicated to triathlon, running, cycling, swimming and the people who get out and do it...
simply_recipes July 19 2014, 01:37

Chocolate Bundt Cake



Chocolate Bundt Cake

My father is somewhat of a homebody. He doesn’t often drop by unannounced, but when he does, there’s usually food involved, especially if that food includes chocolate, or cake, or in this case both. This chocolate bundt cake can feed many, so I was happy to have dad’s enthusiastic support enjoying it. (He gives it “two thumbs up”!)

Continue reading "Chocolate Bundt Cake" »

supermanz posted to runners July 18 2014, 13:55


Good morning runners! HAPPY FRIDAY! Here's the daily training thread!

Right now I'm not really one to celebrate Friday as much as most. I teach so every day has been the weekend essentially since early June. But it's still an exciting day. I'd like to get in about an hour and a half of running in some capacity today. It will likely be broken up into two runs. I'm also super excited because I'm heading to Baltimore today. My best friend is running the Back on My Feet in24 Urban Ultra 24 hour race in Philadelphia this weekend and I'll be crewing/pacing/doing whatever to help him kick as much ass as possible. And kick ass he will. It's going to be a helluva weekend.

So what is everyone else up to today, training and otherwise? And what about your weekend plans, getting into anything fun, running and/or non-running related?

GOOD LUCK AND KICK ASS to anyone racing this weekend or tackling big long runs, etc.

Discuss... and HAPPY RUNNING!
brandonsmaratho July 18 2014, 01:36

Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-07-18 00:32:32



Cobb’s Creek at sunset. #love #home #sunset #perfection If you liked this post...Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-07-13 22:37:37Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-07-12...

IronBrandon is dedicated to triathlon, running, cycling, swimming and the people who get out and do it...
thisisgoingtobe July 17 2014, 13:14

Towercutting with goTenna


I'm excited to share that goTenna, a Brooklyn Bridge Ventures portfolio company, has launched the presale of its point to point communications device.  

Have you ever texted anyone in the same room and thought about the infrastructure behind it--about where that message travels to, the great distances it gets bounced around, all to travel ten feet, in just milliseconds.  

It's pretty magical.

It's also pretty stupid, technically speaking.

When you can literally see someone else's phone, even a three year old would suggest that the message should go from point A to point B on a pretty straight line.  

There's a lot of other things about telecommunications that a three year old would probably agree with--that no one should ever be able to read your message, except the person who sent it to you.  

And if you go on a remote camping trip and one of you gets lost on your way to the hole in the ground behind a tree, you should be able to contact each other if you both have phones.

These situations--the lack of coverage in emergencies, the need for privacy, and the ability to offload point to point communications--make goTenna a pretty handy device to have around.  It is a small piece of hardware that syncs up with your phone, freeing it from the carrier network and enabling point to point communication.  

But handy isn't why I backed it.  Handy is the first step to gamechanging.

I met Daniela Perdomo over a year ago at SXSW.  I was scanning the SXSWSocial network for anyone that had tagged themselves "Brooklyn".  Daniela's profile came up and I noticed that she was involved with NYC Resistor, the hardware hackerspace that Makerbot came out of.  I tweeted at her in response to a post about cheese.



We agreed to meet up and she told me what she was working on.  I had no idea she was a founder with a startup.  I just wanted to meet the hardware hackers from Brooklyn.  When she told me she was working with her brother Jorge on disconnecting phones from the network, and reconnecting them directly to each other, I was intrigued.  We met back in NYC and after another meeting, I agreed to give her terms and lead the seed round.  

Fundraising wasn't an easy road.  She pounded the pavement for months looking for other investors who also wanted to take a shot at a first time founder team on a towercutting project.  To get there on goTenna, you had to believe in the near term usefulness of the device, but also be excited enough about the possibilities around  mesh networks.  You have to understand how decentralizing the system makes it more resillient.  No longer should anyone in a city as dense as NYC should ever go without the ability to communicate with their phones in an emergency--not when the nearest device to you is likely within a mile of you.  

Whether she got better at pitching or the tides turned in the hardware space in general, I'm excited that some investors eventually did step up--and when they did, the seed round became oversubscribed, totalling $1.8 million.  It's been great to work with Karin at Bloomberg Beta, Alberto at Collaborative Fund, and Brett from MentorTech, and to have supporters like A16Z and NY Angels.  I'm really proud of the work of the people behind the company--Daniela, Jorge, John Levy, who has been with them from the very early days, and their whole tech team.  

I'm buying a pair of goTennas because the next time I do the Ragnar running relay, and I roll my ankle at 2AM on the side of a deserted highway, I want to be able to text the van down the road to come see if I'm ok.  

I'm investing in goTenna because the grand experiment of untethering from the cellphone tower is a worthwhile one.  

supermanz posted to runners July 17 2014, 13:06


Good morning runners! Here's the daily training thread!

My legs are a little tired. I ended up going to the local weekly track meet last night, despite running 13 miles in the morning. Ran the mile, 200, and the 5000 (also did a mile race walk which made my shins scream). The weather was the best it's been in weeks. Today, I'm taking it easy; a slow hour this morning and some lifting. Maybe get in the pool. Another easy hour this evening and then some bar trivia.

So what is everyone else up to today, training and otherwise?

Discuss... and HAPPY RUNNING!
brandonsmaratho July 16 2014, 23:24

Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-07-16 23:07:48



Grillin’. #summer #grilling #food #yum #family If you liked this post...Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-06-25 02:11:12Instagram #picoftheday ironbrandonshow 2014-07-13...

IronBrandon is dedicated to triathlon, running, cycling, swimming and the people who get out and do it...
thisisgoingtobe July 16 2014, 21:13

My Role as a VC: What I am and what I am not.


There's been some writing about how VCs and founders interact with each other and it inspired me to take a step back and reflect on what my role is supposed to be with regards to the investments I make and the founders I deal with.

Here's what I came up with...

First, I have a fiduciary responsibility to my investors who entrusted me with money in the first place.  If I don't do right by them, then I have no money, no fund, no career, full stop.  They count on me to be a good steward of their capital, and to take reasonable and appropriate risk with the expectation of a certain level of returns.  

That also means that I need to act in a way that ensures my ability to get future opportunities to invest their capital in attractive deals.  Rather than using my investors as an excuse to be short-sighted and screw over the first entrepreneur that works in the door, I need to balance their need for return with the long term viability and reputation of the fund and the firm.  I believe that ethics and opportunity for investors will go hand in hand over the long term--and opportunity drives returns.

It also means I need to be really careful about how I'm spending my time.  I want to be helpful to a lot more people than I'm able to spend time with, but I can't distract myself too much from this clear and primary mission.  

Second, I am a provider of capital--so my check needs to clear and I need to be transparent about when and if I plan to invest, or if entrepreneurs should look elsewhere.

Third, I try to help my teams be the best company managers they can be--because ultimately, no matter how much help I can be, it's up to them to do most of the heavy lifting.  That does not mean telling them how to run the company, but to help them create a management discipline--a framework for thinking about problems and solutions.  I am there, along with other investors and board members to audit their thinking--to make sure they were considerate about the plans *they* came up with, not me.

Fourth, I am highly incentivized to provide assistance to my portfolio companies in any way that I can--whether it means connections to talent, PR, other capital, customers, etc.

Fifth, as I intend to be a long term participant in the innovation ecosystem, I have a role to support and champion the community at large.  This means that it's important to me to be supportive of everyone's success, not just those I back, since it's not a zero sum game.  I, along with my investors and my portfolio, will have the best chance of success when the ecosystems we participate in, especially the geographic ones, fully support high growth entrepreneurship.  

Here's what I am not:

I am not necessarily an entrepreneur's friend.  Granted, over the course of working together, we can become friends--and sometimes I might actually back a friend--but just because you invest money in someone's company doesn't make you friends.  This is a professional relationship and we're here to grow an enterprise.

I am not an expert.  Maybe ten years from now, when I've got lots more exits under my own watch, you can call me that, but for now, I consider myself a really ambitious student.  I'm learning everyday and I count on founders to be the ones that bring the best insight into the problems they face in their industry.  If I can provide helpful context about some of the seed stage startup best practices, great, but they know their company best.  

I am not anyone but myself, or the next anyone.  I'm not trying to be the next Fred Wilson, Josh Kopelman, Marc Andreeson, etc.  I am creating a lifestyle and a firm that works best for my strengths and how I want to spend my time, and who I want to spend it with.  I am not trying to build a big firm, employ a lot of people, or manage the most money possible.  I just want to do my thing for as long as my investors and the future founders I have the opportunity to back will let me.

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