Friday, May 16, 2014

imATHLETE EXCLUSIVE: George Hincapie personalized autographed books - Limited Time Only!


imATHLETE has been selected as the exclusive online provider of personalized, autographed copies of George Hincapie's new book, "The Loyal Lieutenant", during the pre-sale period.  The book, which makes its debut May 27, is available through imATHLETE pre-order until May 22nd.  George will autograph each book purchased, personalized to the consumer, on May 26th.

With a record 17 Tour de France appearances and two decades of racing experience, including vital roles with three different Tour de France winners, Hincapie is one of the most celebrated cyclists in the sport's long history.  Drawing on two decades in the peloton, the now-retired cyclist chronicles his rise to greatness, extraordinary commitment, and life as a professional bike racer who rode through and helped change one of the sport's darkest eras.

"George is one of the most recognized riders in the world, and a person who has continually inspired me in my athletic endeavors.  WE are honored to have this opportunity to share his story with our imATHLETE family," said Jeff Matlow, CEO of imATHLETE.  "imATHLETE is a company that prides itself on engaging with athletes, and being able to offer such a personalized touch to fans of George's and the sport of cycling helps reinforce our commitment to the industry."

To learn more about imATHLETE or this exclusive Hincapie opportunity, visit imATHLETE is also on Twitter (@IAmAthlete) and on Facebook (

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

imATHLETE, MetroPCS Dallas Marathon + Loyalty Codes, Oh My!

Unique offering gives race directors a turnkey solution to reward participant loyalty

Santa Monica, Calif. (April 8, 2014) -  imATHLETE - a sports registration company that is changing the way event organizers engage with athletes - has been selected as the official registration partner for the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.  The event, which draws more than 25,000 participants, will be held on Sunday, December 14.
Following a 2013 event that was cancelled due to severe weather, the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon required a unique solution to reward those that didn't have the opportunity to run.  imATHLETE's unique Loyalty Code functionality is allowing the 2013 participants to receive a special, personalized offer.

"We are proud to partner with imATHLETE as our registration provider," said Patrick Byerly, President of Dallas Marathon.  "Their increased functionality, support and attentiveness to the needs of our organization sets them apart as a leader in the racing industry."

imATHLETE's Loyalty Code technology gives clients like the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon the ability to reward participants for doing multiple events, regardless of when the participants register.  This provides race directors with the ability to reward participant loyalty without having to juggle excel spreadsheets and keep track of multiple discount codes.

Said Jeff Matlow, CEO of imATHLETE, "Not only does the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon have an impressive history, but their reaction to the 2013 cancellation proves a clear dedication to the happiness of their participants and the growth of the organization.  We're ecstatic to be working with them and help further strengthen the relationship with their runners."

To learn more about imATHLETE, visit  imATHLETE can also be found on Twitter by following @IAmAthlete, by liking the imATHLETE Facebook page and, for goodness sakes, follow the blog.

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imATHLETE blends registration, fundraising and e-commerce technology with the social networking inherent in running, triathlon, cycling and all participatory sports. Recognized as a leading force in the sporting world with its industry-changing registration technology, imATHLETE is one of the fastest growing companies in the market. imATHLETE's robust technology platform is used by thousands of city governments, governing bodies, non-profits and event organizers, including the ASICS LA Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, M3S Sports, GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon and a multitude of non-profit and sports organizations. imATHLETE technology is transforming the relationship between event organizers and their participants. To learn more about imATHLETE, visit imATHLETE can also be found on Twitter by following @IAmAthleteby liking the imATHLETE Facebook page and by following their really interesting blog.

About the Dallas Marathon
The Dallas Marathon is a nonprofit organization with a focus of promoting health and physical fitness through running events and related activities.  Dating back to 1971, the organization conducts and promotes year-round events culminating each December with Dallas' largest and Texas' oldest running marathon, the MetroPCS Dallas Marathon.  Now in its 44th running, the marquee property attracts over 25,000 participants and 300,000 spectators to Dallas' largest single-day sporting event, highlighted by a race course featuring iconic landmarks including the JFK Memorial, Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the historic Swiss Avenue District, Klyde Warren Park and Reunion Tower.  The MetroPCS Dallas Marathon is recognized as The Official Marathon of the City of Dallas and, since naming a primary beneficiary in 1997, has donated more than $3.3 million to Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.  For more information, visit

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dreams and Reality

I remember the first time I saw the footage of Julie Moss crawling across the finish line at the Kona Ironman.  I cried. Or at least I got really choked up and came close to crying, because I'm sensitive yet very manly. (Gotta keep up my image.)  Watching that video helped me realize that there are two types of people in this world: those that see the triumph of the human spirit and get inspired, and those that see the same thing and think, "f*** that. I'll stay here on the couch, thank you very much."

And then there's me.

I saw Julie's dramatic triumph of the human spirit and immediately became inspired to race an Ironman. Once that decision was made, I spent the next three decades not doing it.  I kept my tush seated pretty securely in the cushions of my comfort zone.

Don't go thinking that I was one of those guys that said I wanted to do an Ironman than never mentioned it again.  For goodness sakes, no. I was all in.  I talked about it all the time.  I had Ironman branded socks, hats, visor, credit card, watch, stickers, posters, you name it.  But of course I couldn't use or wear any of them, because I hadn't earned the right.  It'd be like buying a finishers jersey from a marathon and wearing that before you ever have even run a marathon.  It would be a bold face lie. And my face isn't that bold.

The thing is, though I talked about it a lot, I didn't actually make much of an effort to do an Ironman. Sure I signed up for a couple of them. But inevitably I ended up backing out of each after not training at all. I entered the Kona lottery every year too. And every year I didn't get chosen. My friends saw a man very disappointed, as if I were a senior in high school who just found out that no college would accept me.  But behind that facade I was breathing a sigh of relief.  After all, if I were accepted into the Kona lottery, that would mean I'd have to do it.  And actually doing an Ironman was a pretty scary idea.  Talking about it was a heckuva lot easier.

For decades this lasted.  For decades I had Ironman paraphernalia sitting around my house gathering dust. Year after year I said "next year I'm doing an Ironman."  But did I actually get off my butt and train for one? Nope.  I just waited for it to magically fall into my lap.

There was always a reason why I couldn't do it.  There was always something in my way. Too much work, too expensive, no training partners, prior commitments.  Or maybe I just convinced myself that it's Kona or nothing.  And this went on for over twenty years.  Then one year I got a sideways glance in the mirror and suddenly saw what was standing in my way.... me.  

There is a quote I love from Brian Andreas that I think about quite often.  The basic idea is this (and I paraphrase):

Everything changed the day I figured out that there is exactly enough time in life to do the things that are most important to me.

This quote appeared in my life just about the same time that I realized I was the sole obstacle in realizing my dreams.  It was also about then when I came to terms with the fact that the really good dreams aren't the ones that magically appear.  They are the ones that you have to work for.  And the only thing standing in my way of living my Ironman dream was my fear. If I could be so courageous as to face my fears and push on through to the other side, well.... with that attitude any dream can be within my grasp.  I just had to reach out and grab it.

Simple, right?
I wish.

This is one of the more interesting things about dreams - they are often guarded by an army of fear.  To live a dream means to look in the mirror and deal with all the things you've spent a life trying to avoid. I suppose that's partially why they are called dreams.  Because dreams aren't reality and in order to make a dream a reality you have to bridge a very large, very scary gap.  

Ironman, besides being a physically and mentally grueling event, also happens to be the crossroads between everything you've always wanted and everything you've always feared.  Even the training alone requires you to come to terms with yourself and what is important to you.  It's not easy.  But it's not meant to be.  If realizing your dreams were so easy, everybody would do it.

Whether the dream is running a 5k, doing an Ironman, starting a company or vacationing in Bali, we all have our goals and we all have our inner closet of darkness that stops us from getting there.  When you're used to a life on the couch, getting up and training for your first 5k is scary.  When you're used to the comfort of working for a large company, quitting your job and starting something on your own is terrifying. Very very terrifying. Because it takes work and commitment.  And it takes dramatically changing your daily rituals.  It takes blindly jumping off a cliff without knowing what's down below and simply trusting that somewhere in the dark abyss that you're heading towards, there will be a net to catch you if you fall.

We stay in our comfort zones because it's easy, because there is little stress, there is little unknown.  But growth doesn't happen in the comfort zones.  Success doesn't happen in the comfort zones.  Change doesn't happen in the comfort zones.

I ended up facing my fears for the first time in 2006.  After nine months of focused training, my wife and I raced Ironman Lake Placid.  It was an amazing experience.  Two years later I raced Ironman Arizona.  And though I haven't done a long distance event since then (long story which I will tell you another time), I still have more fears to conquer.  And if I work it right, that may take another three or four more Ironmans to overcome.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Pricing Game #1: Low Prices Are So Passe

If you are a person who signs up for endurance events and not one who actually puts them on, you may not want to hear this.  Earmuffs.  If you are a race director, here is a very important tip for you... there are simple ways you can make more money from your participants. Potentially a lot more money. In some cases, hundreds of thousands of incremental dollars year over year. 

It all comes down to basic buying trends.

I will be writing a few entries scattered here and about with pricing strategy tips.  I'm not going to put them all in one post because, Lord knows, I don't want to piss off participants too much.

But today let's talk about Pricing Strategy #1: LOW PRICES ARE SO PASSE

We see a lot of events out there who pride themselves on being very low priced.  I'm talking about a 10k for $20 or a 5k for $15.  I hear race directors saying that it's critical to their business that they remain inexpensive.  Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you're wrong (at least in many cases you are).

Event directors used to be concerned with how low their entry price needs to be.  They would compare their event price to their competitors and try to pinch their pennies in order to be the lowest out there.  The results of that is just a mad dash to who can lose the most money first.

But times have caused a dramatic shift.  Now, instead of a focus on how low they should make their prices, event directors are focusing on basic business fundamentals and trying to see how *high* they can make prices without effecting participation levels. 

I ran about ten 5ks/10ks over the past year and do you know what each of them cost? You don't? Well guess what, neither do I.  Even if you forcibly made me stand outside naked in Minneapolis in January eating an ice cream sandwich, I couldn't tell you which one was the least expensive and which was the most.  I have absolutely no clue.

An important thing to note here is that I'm a cheapskate. Its in my nature. I like saving a penny whenever possible and get frustrated when I have to spend more. I will still drive 10 minutes further to save $1.49 on a dozen eggs - I'm that type of penny pincher.  When I pay too much for something I take it personally and I remember it. But the last thing I remember in a running event experience is the price because, frankly, in the end it doesn't matter.

And herein lies one of my key points: The popularity of an event is not at all proportional to the amount it costs.  In fact, the most popular events are often the ones that cost the most money.

I know what you're saying. You're saying "the popular events charge so much because they can. They are so popular that participants will sign up regardless." Well, my disbelieving friend, that's bull hockey.
Or mostly bull hockey.  One reason they charge so much is because they put on quality experiences.  Not only do quality experiences cost money but people will pay more for quality experiences.  

The largest 5k/10k event in Los Angeles charges up to $50 for the 5k. That's $16 per mile.  Absurd? Well, nobody balks at the price. In fact they continue to get more and more participants every year.  Why? Because they give an amazing shirt to all participants every year, and because they put on a fun race.  If they charged $30, it would be a far less exciting experience because they just wouldn't have the money to create the experience.

So if you're an event organizer, don't fall victim to feeling like you need to be the cheapest around.  You don't.  Forget the low end of pricing and focus on what you can do to create a kick butt experience, then determine how much that costs.

And don't be scared... Raising your prices isn't a bad thing as long as you're giving the participant the value for the dollar spent.

Next up: Procrastinators And Their Wallets

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Memory Of Racing

My Dearest Daughter,

In the few short weeks that you've been in this world you have created more love than I could have ever thought possible. I never realized how something so little could fill such a big place in my heart.  My greatest joy is knowing that I am your father.

Of course, with fatherhood comes responsibility.   Yes, I recognize that I may not have been the most responsible person throughout my life. Perhaps I did a couple of runs in Zone 3 when they were supposed to be Zone 1 recovery days.  And sure, I agree, I probably shouldn't have tried that flying mount without proper instruction.  
But despite all that, my sweet innocent child, I know it is my responsibility to help you grow into a wonderful woman. With that jn mind, there are many important things I've learned that I want to impart on you. Now you may think I am weird - in fact it's almost guaranteed that at some point, probably around your teen years, you'll think me weird - but you will eventually come to realize that there are a lot of life lessons you can learn from triathlon. That is why, from your first day in our hands, I started training your legs for cycling and running. It is why I already bought you your first swimsuit.  These activities, like teaching you life's lessons, are part of my responsibility as a father.  So listen closely, my loving child, maybe try to stop flailing your arms and legs for a couple of seconds, and perhaps you can refrain from soiling your diaper for a minute or two.  Trust me, these are important things to remember.

First, don't ever compare your insides with somebody's outsides.  Just because somebody else may have more expensive equipment, it doesn't mean they are faster, better or happier than you.  Be proud of who you are and what you do.  Your self-worth is not contingent on the perception of others.

Secondly, always feel your feet on the floor - or on the pedals, or in the water.  My point being, be here now.  Life isn't a race that is happening somewhere else.  Life, like triathlon, is a journey.  It's not about the people in front of you or behind.  It's not about what you could've or should've done to be faster or stronger. Life is about being in the moment and enjoying the journey - right here, right now.

Thirdly, don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. When it hurts, embrace the pain and know that you will be able to learn from that pain.  I know you're not going to believe me right away, but trust me that the pain will make you stronger.  The pain will fade away but your pride and strength will carry you a lifetime. 

Fourthly, remember that there is no finish line.   You may think there is because you see a banner and a big time clock and people are telling you to stop running, but in the grander picture, there isn't. Just keep moving forward.  Keep working to be better at what you do and improving who you are and no digital clock will ever define you.

Fifth, always remember that you can do it, whatever "it" may be.  I believe in you as much as I hope you believe in yourself.  Never underestimate the power of your body and your mind.  Go longer, faster, harder.  Be the best person you can be.

Sixth, remember that we are fortunate to participate - in this sport and in this life.  It is a gift - and one that can be taken from us at any moment.  Respect and honor that gift by respecting and honoring yourself and other people.

Finally, my dear, it will all get a lot easier when you realize it's not supposed to be easy. Without surviving through the tough times, without a little blood, sweat and tears, you wouldn't have as much appreciation for the rest of the experience.  

And speaking of tough times, it seems you're screaming bloody murder again for reasons that are unbeknownst to me.  So with that in mind, those are all the lessons I want to tell you today, my little munchkin.  Oh wait, I see your eyes are now suddenly closed as if you have narcolepsy. You are a tough one to keep track of, my wee bitty petunia.  I'm not quite sure if you're mulling these thoughts over or if I put you to sleep. But no worries, darling, I will remind you of these life lessons as you get older, even if I have to exemplify them myself.  That is how much I love you. To the moon and back.



Reprinted with permission from USA Triathlon Magazine

Friday, February 28, 2014

A View From The Sales Floor

It continually amazes me the people who apply for sales positions.  If I had a sawbuck for every time I heard somebody say "I love sales" I'd be super wealthy.  Or at least I think I would - I'm not quite sure what a sawbuck is.  But let's just assume it's a kabillion dollar bill, just for the sake of me being super wealthy.

 "I think I'd be great at sales" job candidates will say when their lengthy resumes don't have an iota of sales experience anywhere to be found.  Not even one at McDonalds.  "When I'm given the opportunity I will do really well in sales," they say.  The thing is, they're not even selling me on themselves, how the heck will they be able to sell my product?

That was a rhetorical question - but in a way not really.  Because if you can't sell yourself - the one thing you should know better than anything else in this world - how are you effectively going to sell anything else?
Again, rhetorical question. But not really.

There are such things as natural sales people. What makes somebody a natural sales person is that you don't have to give them the opportunity to sell - they make the opportunity themselves.  You just can't stop true salespeople from selling because sales is what they do.  It's what they've always done. They sell. They have paper routes, they start companies in their teens, they work on political campaigns, they buy a bag of Chips Ahoy for $3 and resell the cookies on the corner for $1 each.  True sales people sell - it's in their blood.  Nothing can stop them.

I'm a sales person.  I started my first company when I was 12.  I started my second when I was 16.  I made beer mugs at college and sold them out of my backpack outside of classrooms.  I started a company shortly out of college, then another one, and another one, and another one.

It's taken me years to accept the fact that I'm a salesman.  Probably because there's been such a bad stigma around salesmen.  I blame used car lots.  When you say sales, many people think of words like sleazy, liar, weasel, slick and the such.  But sales doesn't have to be sleazy.  Sales is really just another way to describe somebody who likes helping others.

I've found that the best sales people are the ones that are not just passionate about the product and believe what they're selling is the best thing ever but, most importantly, they have a true desire to help make their customers' lives' better (excuse the apostrophe attack).  Good sales people want to honestly help others - not just in their job, but in their life.  Good sales people know that it's not about convincing somebody the product is good as much as it is understanding the customers challenges and helping them solve those problems on their own.

So you want a sales job?  Don't *tell* me how you think you'll be good at sales... show me.