My guest today on Work Life Play is Caitlin Landesberg, founder and CEO of Sufferfest Beer Company, for those who believe in earning their beer. Caitlin Landesberg is an Athlete, long-distance trail runner, and is relentlessly curious. We talk about living fully, pursuing wormholes with curiosity and abandoning demands for outcomes. Her disarming charm, tech-startup roots tenacity kneaded the gospel of Sufferfest Beer one finish line and neighborhood grocery story at a time. Here is her story.
About Caitlin Landesberg
Caitlin is an Athlete, long-distance trail runner, and the founder and CEO of Sufferfest Beer Company. When it was suggested for Caitlin to remove gluten from her diet for health reasons, she began the search for gluten-free beers but wasn’t thrilled with her findings. She started home brewing in 2012 and was immediately hooked. In late 2015, Caitlin left her job to pursue Sufferfest Beer Company full-time and officially launched her beer to market in May 2016.
In 2017, Sufferfest Beer Co. obtained B Corp certification, underlining their commitment to changing the world for the better. They have now teamed up with Sierra Nevada.
We were all super misfit people. School teachers, rock
climbers, it didn't matter. We are all there because we love the outdoors and
we're all focused on that mission of changing hearts and minds about the role
beer played in people's lives that like to earn it.
I wrote down a couple of words I'd love for you to just
start with and by way of these words then we'll get to know you better. Is
donkey in diagnosis?
Interesting. Wow. Okay. Donkey. Yes. Donkey is I guess the
conduit to exploration into what my next life looks like. A little bit of a
midlife crisis. Potentially. Donkey definitely represents more than meets the
eye. Certainly right now my exploration with burro racing started out as a
harmless gesture to rescue poor Lucy and it has turned into a bid for
connection with my father, an outlet for my crazy life and what happens next in
my world and a way to heal and find just a big old distraction towards a lot of
grief in my life. To be quite honest, when I hear the word diagnosis, that
first brings me back to some of the impetus around how and why I had this happy
accident to start Sufferfest Beer Company. And maybe that's where you were
going. But I hear diagnosis right now and it's my world today. It's my mother.
It's everything I think about actually is how one day and one discovery changes
your whole world and your whole perspective.
Well bless you. Thank you. I didn't realize in asking
those two words how much there is there. So it sounded like there's enough for
They are big terms for me. Yeah, for sure.
I'll come back to a couple of those and we'll start in on
this light note of Sufferfest beer and will ease our way into the deeper stuff.
Does that sound good? All right. You're an ultra-runner. You're a CEO of a beer
company in the Bay area and I happened to already be a fan before we connected.
And here's my favorite part is Sufferfest beer. Here's the definition.
SufferFest is a noun, an activity whereby all participants, ache, agonize, ale
deteriorate, endure in languish, but by commissary yet cohesiveness we'll have
experienced a grand time. Wow. That is my life right there. So tell me what a
great definition. And by the way, I promise that I would crack a beer while
we're talking so I'll wait. And I'll ease into it, but I've got my green tea to
start. So tell us about the beer company.
That's fair. Yeah and it's, it turns out it was such a
fitting name because I think that's all we did was get set back and defeat and
break down and the will to go on, especially as you're collecting people along
the way, getting to each finish line and each milestone just brings more people
together and more joy because you've been all in the pain cave together. But as
I was mentioning earlier, yes. Ever fast. I still describe as this happy
accident. I was not supposed to start up your company. I was on the other side
as I like to call it cause I've been a high tech so it comes Valley brat my
whole life and grew up here in the Bay area and identified myself as an athlete
pretty much all my life. My dad was kind of the, you know, family that sweats
together, stays together, kind of guy and played college tennis and a good
friend of mine in 2008 I believe.
What would mean a buy some running shoes, some trail shoes
and, and I got to join his long distance running club called the durables. And
I was introduced to the Marin Headlands for the first time in my life after
living in the Bay area forever and could not believe that these things are now
backyard and immediately felt the pain and the discomfort in the heartache of
running mile after mile after mile. And I remember getting back and going, no
one understands the pain that I felt except for the people around me. And, and
that is the Sufferfest.
That's the, the joy and the pride I think that you have
with these new found friends at the finish line of anything that's difficult
Sufferfest really is derived from just knowing how important that finish line
moment was to me for a lot of reasons. The finish line became more prolific in
my life and I really started to enjoy trail running and I mean finish lines in
a lot of symbolic ways, both literally and figuratively.
But as running became more important to me, I became more
focused on, you know, what I was putting into my body. I was the director of
marketing at Strava at the time. This was in 2012. As an outsider looking in,
you'd think that I was a healthy young, fun loving runner. But my hair was
falling out and I was losing him, gaining weight. I was getting tons of
headaches and really trying to figure out what was going on. And you know, a
lot of elements in my diet happened to be the culprit as I was focused on what
I was putting in my body. That finish line moment of getting the commemorative
pint glass and the beer all of a sudden actually represented a lot more to me
about do I want high alcohol, do I want all this hops?
Do I want, what am I putting in my body? Where is it
coming from? And I sort of thinking, gosh, If CLIFF was making a beer. What
would it taste like? Would act like, what would it be? I know of all my
favorite brands that I cared and trusted, you know so much about we're making a
beer, what would they do? And that was just sort of what ignited a little bit
of an exploration and I joked about it a lot with my then boyfriend, maybe fiancé
at the time, and he got me a home brewing kit. I dove right in to sort of
answering that question of what would that look like if beer was an outdoor
piece of gear?
I love that fun. There's so many of the things that you're
saying that I resonate with. I'll start with a story. 16 years ago, roughly, I
created a celebration event for my birthday, affectionately known amongst my
friends is the Sufferfest, which is when I found your beer out in the Bay area.
I sent them all pictures years ago. So the Sufferfest was born when I turned 33
maybe something like that. And we had this great idea. I live in the backyard
of Pike's Peak. So 14,000 foot peak. Yeah they have a race to the top. Have you
I have not done it (the Pikes Peak Marathon). I have
supported it. And seeing the scene, the aftermath.
Right. So, you know it, it's a, an infamous mountain race,
right foot race to the top. And then there's a marathon that goes up and down.
So I had this idea, I was spending a lot of time in triathlon at the time, and
where we would train was like basically 30 miles North from there in a neighboring
town called Palmer Lake. So you would stare at the peak and I was like, you
know, it'd be really cool. What if we could climb the peak, but start here and
then what if we swam bike and run it kind of triathlon like, and let's kind of
make our way to the peak. But let's start on our bikes, then let's go to her
run. Then let's do the infamous incline. Then let's go to the top of the peak.
But let's do it on my birthday on April fool's day, which is usually a shitty
snow storm is what most of the time happens. So we've done it five times, never
made it to the summit. So in the five times that I've attempted it, so we just
basically bike, then run, then hike the incline, then climb the peak.
That time of year, the summit is closed to motor vehicle.
So you have to then turn around and come back down the peak. So you basically
do the, you do the Pike's Peak marathon at the end. Oh my Lord. After a 30 mile
bike warm up and a 10 mile run to get there and it's in a snow storm, usually.
So affectionately known as my Sufferfest. Right. So, the so the beer to me is
all the more reason why now know what to serve at my Sufferfest.
There we go.
Friends, they're still my friends. We turned it into a
relay one year where if you didn't want to do the whole thing as a solo effort,
you could come and do, you know.
Oh, very cool. I like that. That's nice.
We had 63 people show up that year. People driving down
from other States and yeah. So, in the spirit of joy, finish lines, big
endeavors, you know, big kind of big ass hairy goals. And then, and then I've
had a number of friends say, Hey, you should change it and do it in July when
you know you can make it. And it was like, or you should alter the route. So,
you know, you know, it'll, it'll go. And I'm like, I know the route I'll go.
It's just, and I refuse to change it to make it easy. That's part of the quest
is so great when I make it. So the last time I did it or attempted, it was two
years ago and we made it basically about a, would have been a mile from the
summit and then the sunset, 6:00 PM, you know, fresh snow had been kicking
steps for three hours. And we're like, that's good enough for today. The route
will go, we'll come back again. Now I know what to serve at the finish line.
Oh man. Nice. I'm honored. That's amazing.
Some of the things I hear you saying, Caitlin is that you
have a, what I'm hearing so this is a question. What I hear is like, you have
the ability to experience your life while, also connection to deeper meaning in
your life at the same time. Or maybe it's, you know, later upon reflection, but
the fact that even burro racing, it's a multidimensional thing. Beer sounds
like it's the same diagnosis, you know, there's many facets. So I'm just
curious about that. Is that always been true about you?
I consider myself a pretty introspective person, but I,
and I think I get this from my dad in particular too. I'm never, for better or
for worse, I've never ready to settle. I think I get itchy faster than I even,
I would like the next exploration, the next challenge. In some ways it's, I was
describing it recently to a friend is frenzy. I just have to get going to the
next thing. And so I think what I think is just going to be one thing, one
challenge, one goal actually ends up being a massive warm hole into something
that I didn't know was actually a deeper reason behind this, this drive, right?
I think I'm learning in real time what is becoming of
these projects and asking myself, why is it so important and for me to, to sign
up and do this bro race? It's just a 10 mile race in the middle of nowhere in
California, but why hell or high water am I going to get there? Having that
awareness hopefully will serve me and continues to serve me in terms of the
decisions that I make. But yeah, it's always on the surface and it tends to
lead to something much, much more different than I'm expecting. So I guess
that's the spice of life. Maybe I, I do that subconsciously and not just
continue to do that as a way to grow.
I want to ask you then about your dad. What is it that he
taught you that never willing to settle in this exploration spirit in the
family that sweats together space. Tell us more about him.
Yeah, I think it's just, you know, don't be labeled
anything. And the minute you are, that terrifies him, I think, and he'll just
move on to the next thing. And I don't think we'd ever as a family treated all
of his weird projects and hobbies, you know, as something positive. But he did
give me that example. And I, I think I'm living that, you know, from a tennis
player to a fisherman, to rodeo guy to a donkey rescue or to a firefighter. I
mean, he's always on to the next, and even at the ripe old age of 71 seems to
be reinventing himself all the time. And
We can say that at 71.
We all roll our eyes and say you know, and, but he lives
it. Right. And you have to respect that. And I think whether he said that to me
and my brother or not I think probably allowed me to say, I'm going to be a
beer maker. And then you know what? Dammit, I'm going to be a borough racer and
you know what, I'm going to go and play tennis or I'm going to start a new
thing. And I think having that model, I'd probably, while I think people might
think, and maybe my husband thinks I'm zany and my kids will roll their eyes,
you know, I go and do it and it satisfies me. So, Hey, I don't know. I think
maybe there's something there to it. Both my mom and my dad were entrepreneurs.
I think my dad just continue. He's a serial entrepreneur. Both professionally.
And I think personally in his own development. So I think that was a good model
It sounds so fun. I guess what I hear is there's this
great North face ad from, I don't know, 15 years ago I remember. And it was, I
think they use the tagline for a long time, but it's the never stop exploring.
I just hear that in you.
Endless curiosity and insatiable exploration that lead to
a bunch of wormholes, huh?
Yeah, I guess so. Sometimes yeah, they produce better
results than others, but, but Hey, you know,
I'd love to hear more about the beer company. You know, it
started with what if idea, if I was creating a piece of gear then now fast
forward, you know, I'm buying it on my shelf in Colorado. So tell us about what
that journey's been like for you and what wormholes have you discovered, you know,
what frontiers have you charted now?
It's a big question. So I'm going to be as succinct as
possible with sort of what has transpired. Because I had the aspiration to just
explore in with a home brewing kit and a beer making class basically in Napa
and San Francisco. My aspiration was just to kind of learn how to make a
sorghum based gluten free beer. And pretend it was my, you know piece of gear
for myself and at first had a very low bar and very little aspirations. Just an
interesting thesis question, but I was making beer not to sort of enjoy the
craft of beer making. I was really looking at it in the lens of an athlete
going, I want to solve here. I want a piece of gear here. I want something that
makes me feel amazing, agrees with my values and shows up exactly when I want
it and who gets me. So I was really excited about the microbiology and the
chemistry of the beer.
When I made my first gluten removed beer. It was like beer
was back, you know, heaven on earth for me. And what you're left with is this
taste you want and deserve, especially if you sweat for it. But without the
Less about the taste or the outcome. It was really about
the branding and how it would show up. And then of course working with food
scientists to figure out are there other enzymes out there that could help
support my values and interests as a runner. So my investigation in the food
science of beer led me to UC Davis school of brewing. So I started taking
spring and summer courses there on the microbiology of beer as my sort of home
brewing recipes got better. And as I started teaming up with beer makers who
actually knew what they were doing, who were really focused on
The right I would say outcome in terms of balance and aroma. I was sort of
marrying the science that I enjoyed so much with the craft and my recipes were
actually really getting honed in certain tastes really good. It was at that
time where I thought, okay, I'm going to, I worked really hard maybe for three
years on a Pilsner cause I love a Pilsner and I'm going to take this beer and
start hocking it out to friends and to my run club and to other people who were
sort of focused on some of the nutritional aspects that I was looking for too.
And I think having some validation, my run club thing, this was really good.
I'm going to give this a try. You know, gave me some, some confidence, but I
was in this unique position at Strava where I was working with a lot of brands
and athletes actually who kind of heard through the grapevine that I was
making, some beer for runners or something.
So here I was trying to like sell premium. They were like,
no, actually I'm looking for a keg for my training camp or a race director
would phone up going, you know, I really need some beer quickly out in North
Carolina for my run my a race. So all these things are happening as kind of
word spread, that there was a gluten removed, endurance focused beer out there.
And I was really starting to enjoy myself and really trying to think about what
this would look like. So I got married in 2015 I got on to my husband's
insurance policy officially and that was sort of what said, okay, I'm going to
time box this. I'm going to give myself six months of not receiving a paycheck,
trying to figure out how to make a beer company actually official and legal and
legitimate. And so it took me about another six months to get licensed and we
have these crazy prohibition laws still.
You know, I had police and surveyors walking through our
little mini apartment, making sure it wasn't a speakeasy. I mean it was really
kind of fun. It was very strange to get licensed. I'm giving that, given that
we were, I was brewing out of a co-packing facility and so my office was just
our, our spare bedroom basically. But it got, it was always being inspected by
the ABC and like federal investigators. It was really strange and silly. But in
2016, you know, I had a Pilsner and an IPA that I loved and I was really proud
of that had been basically tried and true by just sweaty friends and people who
love to earn their beer. And in 2016 I decided no, I'm going to start taking
this to just local grocery stores in my neighborhood because at that time,
again, my aspiration was okay, is my one club, you know supported.
Great. now can I get one or two corner stores in my
neighborhood? So after I come home from my run, I can stop at the store and get
my beer. And like that was basically all I was thinking that I would do. And as
I started going down the road, literally going door to door selling this beer,
it was just like I was batting a thousand. I had somehow hit the right timing,
hit the right chord, and buyers were really, really interested in what I was,
what I was doing. I don't think they had seen anyone like me in their stores.
So I was coming in with my ponytail and Brooks shoes and my running gear on
right after a run going, Hey, do you want some beer? I got 30 seconds. Try it.
Let me tell you. And they were like, I don't think they knew what to think of
Yeah. You did not fit the mold for like the distributor.
Yeah. In a kind of nice professional business. Casual look. Right? Yeah, it was
I was like turning off of my, my Garmin while I talked to
them, so I wouldn't ruin my Strava stats. I don't know. But
Disarming. Beautiful. Yes.
It was just an interesting discussion. But I think buyers
were thinking, well, if I can get more people in like you and my store, yes.
Let me try a case of beer. So, I mean, that's sort of how it happened. It
wasn't really any one reason. It was just like, okay, if you leave and you
bring your friends
Promise to shower when you come back, but bring more
people like you.
Exactly. yeah. So that was early 2016 and it was tons of
surprise and delight. And I think again my, my bar was raised yet again for the
first six months. It was sort of me, me, myself, and I just Hocking beer door
to door in my neighborhood in San Francisco. But I was running about 150
accounts before I found someone on Craigslist who had just moved out from DC
who had sold bread and I thought East, great, she knows a thing or two, she was
a former D1 lacrosse player. I knew God, she has no experience nor do I, but
that doesn't matter because she knows how to win and she's got the thrill of
the kill. So she's going to be a perfect sales moment. And she was continues to
be 2017. We added maybe four more athletes and then 2018 we were 10 people. And
I say that only because I don't think we hired anyone in our whole
Operation that actually came from CPG or beverage alcohol.
We were all super misfit people, school teachers, rock climbers. I didn't
matter. We are all there because we love the outdoors and we're all focused on
that mission of changing hearts and minds about the role beer played in
people's lives that like to earn it frankly. And I think we were tired of sort
of being overlooked and missed as a community from that industry. And so, for
that reason, like every choice that we made, we made it, when would we want to
have this beer? Where would it be? What would it taste like? And it completely
flipped the model on its head. 100% the wrong thing to do if you talk to anyone
in the beer business. But in fact it probably equated to much of our success.
And we, we grew really significantly and we didn't anticipate any of these
milestones. And then in 2019 we were fully acquired by Sierra Nevada brewing
company and onto a totally different trajectory.
How fun. Okay. So I didn't know that last part of the
story as a celebration or crack my beer now.
Well, I have my water right now.
Here's to happy accidents. Well done.
Let me take a sip.
And I did earn my beer too. The other commitment I made is
I promised I would run before I got on this podcast with you. I did, but I couldn't
resist the shower. I had to go ahead and
Fun. So, all right, so you're now part of a bigger family
and what's, what has shifted and changed from the misfits to now I'm part of a
I'd say nothing and everything. Certainly the beauty about
Sierra Nevada is I don't think there is any brand out there that could
appreciate us the way that they do. And part of that is because they are a
family run, they are private, they are very focused on doing the right thing,
not just for people cause they're very, they're very family focused and people
focused but for the environment and sustainability and like they are a very
values-mission company the same that we were. So they certainly saw us for the
type of community that we are building and the way we are doing it. And for the
first time, it wasn't like you bone heads. It was like, wow, we want to learn a
little bit from you. And I couldn't believe that a gargantuan would say, you
know, we want to learn from you, you're on to something.
And at the same time we were saying, wow, we want to learn
from you. You know, we have so much demand all over for all these great sweaty
people that we work, we run and play with. We can't get beer to them. We don't
know how we can't do it fast enough. And so it was just kind of this perfect
marriage of they have the sales and operations and distribution network and we
have just this stubbornness and authenticity and grit that you just can't, you
really can't replicate. There's no way you could buy that.
And it really is and continues to be our unfair advantage
and you know, call it, you know, inexperienced or Bonehead, but it really
allows us to be who we are and connect on a much deeper level with I think a
very loyal audience. And the CEO at Sierra Nevada, Jeff White, and I always say
a real recognizes real and, and so he has really allowed us to just do our
thing and be the brand that we are and support our athletes sometimes not even
with beer but a cold towel.
I mean we really, really try to serve the athlete and at
the same time they support us by getting our beer now. I think 40 plus States
across the country now. And I think that's always been, I think the struggle,
which is like we are a word of mouth product. We don't want to be everywhere,
but in these small pockets in these communities, we want to go a mile deep and
an inch wide and really focus on communities that really do enjoy that outdoor
sweating Sufferfest moment.
And so we go there and we look for those places and it's
why, you know, a tap room has never been part of our model. I get that question
a lot and maybe one day we'll open up a shoe store that has a license to sell a
pint glass in the back or a bike shop where you can have a beer while you get a
tune up. But I'm not expecting our community come to us. They're out there
running and playing and biking and swimming and we were going to go to them.
And so that's our number one value serving the athlete literally and
figuratively. And so they really do help support us now and give us the
infrastructure to do that on. I think on register larger, more streamlined
scale. So it's been amazing. And it's not without, its kinks integration sucks
and it's unwieldy in many ways, but from a brand perspective and living our
values, they really see us. So that's been amazing. And sort of what's remained
Yeah. How fun. Yeah. So I guess I what I have, I somehow
some way have them to think they found sweaty people in Colorado Springs.
We got a great crew that's helped train and support the
Sierra Nevada team. That was sort of learning about who we were and what the
heck and kind of getting their head wrapped around this like crazy idea in
turn. But they're just, everyone's been like, yeah, I get it now. And I think
this Salesforce or I think pretty apprehensive and a little concerned by even
the name of our company. And then we'd invite them out to a race or some sort
of an event and they sort of see that moment and it would be like, Oh my gosh,
I'm connecting, but now I have, I'm like, I can, I know someone who needs to be
here or I need to be here myself next time. And it's amazing how that just sort
of sparked something new in some, in someone or something else. And I think
that's why that word of mouth moment is just like so essential to how we've
been able to grow.
I love some words that you mentioned about the grit,
authenticity bone head even. But when I hear you saying is so much of the
success is deep in the DNA and the ethos of who you are and who your community
is And you serve a need, a need that existed that you have to, Seth Godin uses
a phrase you said that people like us do things like this.
In those moments when it's people like us at a race finish
line that actually said like, earn the beer, this is what we do. But you have
to like come and experience that, you know, or to see the crazy things that
people are willing to do. Pre-dawn and post weekends, evenings, holidays, you
name it. And how cool that you made something. You know, people like us do
things like this and this is how we do them.
Sufferfest was worn out of the needs of athletes. It's
beer made by athletes and for athletes and people who really care about what
they put in their bodies. It really represents anyone who wants to go outside
and earn their beer. And that's what we're all about is earning it and
celebrating at the end.
And then all of a sudden like, Oh, okay, Sierra Nevada
says that's pretty rad. We could help you find a lot more sweaty people able to
on your own. Okay.
I would love to circle back on our earlier opener on those
two words of a donkey and diagnosis. A couple of words stood out was that you
did mention the word grief, mentioned your mom and then so I would just guess
there's a little bit there. So I thought I'd just, with your permission circle
back and see what else would be meaningful to share.
Yeah, thanks. No, thank you for the question. And I think
that were diagnosis was different, totally different response for me even six
months ago. But then the diagnosis word has come up again. So to answer your
question, honestly, it went from less about me and more about my life now,
which is both my parents are battling different forms of cancer. I think we've
all been impacted by that. C-Word now my mom in particular is having a really
tough time with a cancer that I've just learned about, which is a form of
breast cancer called triple negative, which is a precarious one. When you hear
the word breast cancer this day and age, you're like, in the bag, you know, we
got that one, you know, because it's one that I think has had so much attention
and so much money put towards all these great breakthroughs.
And yet my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother,
we've all been impacted by breast cancer. And so now you're kind of asking
yourself, when, when does that road finally stop? When is there going to be a
breakthrough? So her health has come to a real, a real crossroads. And as, as,
as anyone with parents, we are all parents, but you don't think they're ever
going to go away. Right? And you don't think they're ever going to be sick. So
diagnosis for me now has, has been, the grief, I think the, the understanding
that time is absolutely precious and not to squander what, what we have, but it's
made me, I think, accept the grief and be very, very emotional and focused on
pain. But now to, to something I touched upon earlier, I'm, I'm frenzy, I need
I'm very goal oriented and it is a way that I process a
way to do that is to be closer to my parents and find ways that connect with
them. And my dad is in a state of denial and grief himself. He and my mom
rescued some donkeys two years ago during the Sonoma wildfires and they have
sort of become a mainstay in our hearts and now in our backyard. And so while
again, this was like a zany wonky thing for my parents to have done. Now that
when it's time to go back to their homes and everyone's kind of recovered and
settled after all this, these donkeys have just opened up this new light. And
my dad's heart.
And so as this donkey world was sort of unfolding and
everyone was willing their eyes, my dad and his donkey friends were talking
about Lucy who was just acting up too frisky and fresh and very forward and
fast and kept bolting and what are we going to do with her? And I was listening
kind of in the background going, gosh, this forward donkey can run fast, likes
to bolt, I could maybe potentially do something with this. And so I kind of
stuck out my hand and sort of said, why don't we try Lucy out? Why don't I try
just getting on some running shoes? Maybe she was a runner, a little bit of
myself in her.
And so Lucy, well, you know, doing something that excites
me in terms of a new way to keep running spicy and interesting for me as it
evolves with my age and the time that I have to actually focus on running more
than that, it's allowed me to spend some time with my dad on something that's
given him a lot of, I'm joy and it requires me to go up to my, to my parents’
home at least once a week. And I sort of carve this out as part of my training
plan, but it's become a really sacred day for me. And I have a very, very
specific routine to sort of see my mom and we roll our eyes and talk about how
silly this donkey thing is. And Oh, your father. And it's a moment where she
and I get to connect and then my dad and I will go out and he hangs with his
But I go out and I train. I have a couple of training
partners right now depending on behaving and my tolerance level. And for me
it's a, it's a way for me to figure out my life in terms of, I, I'm not an ultra-runner
anymore. I've got a one year old and a three year old. I run a company, I have
a lot of commitments here. I'm home based in San Francisco and I have tons of
FOMO no time and a little bit of an imposter syndrome going on. I used to run,
I used to be around, I don't even know if I'd call myself a runner any longer,
but I miss it and I love it. It's so cathartic for me. And you know, being out
there now with Lucy, it's like I can cry with her, I can laugh with her, I can
tell her stories. It really is like having this emotional, I mean, it is, I'm
having an emotional support animal with me on my runs now and she's getting me through
a really hard time.
Yeah, this is a, well, you're in a safe place. We keep it
real. Real recognizes real. So,
So, sorry. This is so funny, but
Thanks for keeping it real. And what I hear you saying is
that there's a lot of complexity in your life right now. And in that
complexity, you know, part of this is this unfolding story that everybody
wishes and praise and hopes would look differently with your mom. And, and yet
here you are. What day of the week is your sacred day to go see your mom and
I usually do that on Fridays.
Fridays is, is where you carve out and tell the rest of
the world's not today and today. This is what I choose. And then what I love
about running and being active is, Oh, I recognize a long time ago I needed
something in my life that equaled in intensity to what I was experiencing in my
life. And at the time my wife and I are three kids. One of them was in a
wheelchair and severely special needs. And when I was doing an Ironman
triathlon I remember the first one I signed up for. I couldn't wait for someone
to put a medal around my neck and it had very little to do with triathlon.
I just needed somebody to tell me I was doing a good job
and I needed there to be some sort of a finish line, like a cross because we
were very far from being done and it was like a race that wouldn't quit. And I
just, I couldn't wait for like a cheering crowd, you know, just people yahooing
and then an Ironman because at the end, Mike Riley, I don't know, I don't know
that he's at every finish line now, but the time he was in and he would call
you by name and say, Aaron McHugh, you are an Ironman. And I like, I melted,
absolutely melted and had yes, I trained for it and I rode my bike a bunch.
And, but that really wasn't why I came to race day. I came because my life was
just, I couldn't make sense of it. And it was like in, in, through 140.6 miles
in a day. It just gave me some, some way to try and make sense of it. Right. So
I picture you on Fridays running and celebrating and crying and fussing with a
stubborn ass. Yeah. And while you are sorting it out, yeah. Yeah. Well done. I
hope that our friends listening that you will hear an invitation to explore more
and let go of destinations and outcomes more and lead with some curiosity, see
where it goes, and when you stumble upon a wormhole, maybe just dig further.
Maybe there's something in there and hold loosely interpretation one way.
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