I was carpooling with Marc Villanueva at the time. I want to say it was around Thanksgiving, 2009. What I do remember is asking him if he minded going in to work early on Mondays and Wednesdays. Arch had just announced "ActiveX Lite", and I was ready to try it.
I'm a late adopter. It may be an odd trait for a developer, but I need time to think things over. Ask anyone who's ever been in a meeting with me - I don't respond well to "What do you think?" questions. Not before I've had time to dwell on a subject.
Arch had been running ActiveX for a while at that point - maybe a year or maybe two into it. It had transitioned from his lunchtime workouts into a formal Active Network program, and Lite (or "the morning workout" as it became) was probably his first attempt to broaden X's appeal. The lunchtime workouts were still the stuff of legend, and intimidating to the beginner. Or anyone who felt like they may be a beginner.
But Lite? That was my chance to join in. To adopt ActiveX as my own, albeit after the fact. Or so it seemed.
The other thing I've learned about myself is that I like a routine. I walked to lunch every day, so I couldn't do the lunchtime workouts! But I could add a morning workout to my routine. In fact, I needed to add something to my routine. Those walks to and from the Food Court were at best holding the line against the years (and the lunches).
Luckily, I wasn't the only one with the same idea. The Lite workout had a core (No pun intended. Besides, that was the Friday morning workout.) group who were all very supportive of each other.
Smiles, everyone! Smiles!
So one M/W became every M/W. Routine.
The workouts were difficult. I was very new to this. I feel like I spent most of my time being exhausted by, and just trying to get through, the workouts.
This was my usual pose in the early days.
But it was fun. Along with the regular morning crew, I was getting stronger. And X was becoming an important part of my life.
Once you are involved in ActiveX, you are involved in a community. Arch has made sure that the main focus of that community is not limited to personal physical growth, or even something bound by the confines of the Active Network. Rather, he makes sure that you grow as a person, and as a member of our larger civic community. The vehicle for that is the annual Charity Challenge.
"Starting a Movement"
ActiveX's Charity Challenge was my entry back into the world of triathlon. I had a friend - back in the day - who moved to San Diego from Houston and got into the sport. As I am wont to do, I tagged along. I did a sprint triathlon and really enjoyed it, despite the rain and my mountain bike being obviously out-of-place.
So when given the opportunity to train for the Solana Beach triathlon, that wasn't a problem. I had done a race before, and besides, I was doing ActiveX now! But raising money? That's hard. I've never enjoyed that process. Until now. Now it was easy! I felt committed to something and I believed in it. So asking others to help made sense. It wasn't an imposition, it was an opportunity.
I had two fundraising strategies. One was a website, Sprint Distance Dedications, where friends and family could donate money and request a video in the spirit of American Top Forty's "Long Distance Dedication". That was a fun, low-maintenance opportunity and it brought in the bulk of the money.
The harder, less profitable, but more rewarding opportunity was my neighborhood Memorial Day Triathlon.
Giving the course talk before the 2012 Scripps Ranch Memorial Day Tri
I got friends and neighbors up and out of bed early over Memorial Day weekend to swim 500 meters in the community pool, bike 12 miles (including a lap around Lake Miramar, and a steep climb back up to the house), and then run a 5K. I provided the bagels and beer, and of course, it was all for a good cause.
The Scripps Ranch Memorial Day Tri has become something of a tradition now, and 2012 was our third annual race. It is the talk of the pool for the rest of the summer, and participants have gone on to do great things, including my friend Ryan Grove. Ryan's daughters have been in classes with my daughters and our families have become close. He's an amazing athlete who had never done a triathlon before the 2011 Memorial Day race. Now he's hooked, having done SuperFrog twice, and Oceanside 70.3 as well. Just look at him now...
Ryan Grove placed third in his age-group at 2012 Superfrog Half-Ironman.
...he's the guy who just placed third in his age group at SuperFrog!
Ryan is another example of how ActiveX, and I say this without exaggeration, changes lives. It's funny how something from my work life has spilled over into my personal life, but really that's the point of ActiveX. It's all-inclusive, and improvements aren't boxed into one facet of your life or another.
The next level of ActiveX happens at Camp. And what happens at Camp... isn't supposed to stay at Camp. Camp is nominally to prepare you for the Solana Beach Triathlon, the culmination of the Charity Challenge. But it has evolved into so much more than that. Camp is an opportunity to push your limits, to learn about who you are, and to learn from others. There are experienced voices alongside absolute beginners. Both groups have their stories and Camp gives them the chance to share - and gives you a chance to listen.
For me, cycling is a blast but I'm no speed demon and I hate climbing. Climbing hills is hard. Climbing the Col d'Ef Youx, as it was so wonderfully named, was ridiculous. And I almost didn't do it. But at Camp, you do it. And I did it!
Climbing the Col d'Eff Yeux in my retro Active kit. Photo courtesy Jessica Wexler
Solana Beach and beyond
As mentioned, all of this leads up to Solana Beach. All the workouts, the rides, the happy hours, the open-water swims, the practice triathlons... all the work is celebrated on race day. What Arch has done to put the ActiveX spin on things is to make an entire weekend out of a one to two hour event! Friday night is the Bubbly-to-Buoy swim at La Jolla Cove. Check-in becomes a chance to meet up with everyone one last time. And race day... race day is phenomenal!
The Solana Beach course is very compact with loops on both the bike and run course. What that means is that you see everyone all the time! It's an incredible experience to be cheered on constantly through a race, and getting to cheer on others the entire time as well.
The best part about the race being so accessible is that my girls can come watch.
One of the harder things about leaving Active was explaining it to my girls. This is as much a part of their lives as it is mine. I think they understand now - as do I - that I'm leaving the company, but not leaving the lessons of ActiveX behind. It will always be a part of me, and hopefully I will always be a part of ActiveX's story.
What's Your ActiveX?
So what is my ActiveX? All of the above, for sure. But what else?
- Meeting so many wonderful people. You know who you are.
- Taking the train up to San Clemente and riding our bikes back down.
- Riding with Liz Harrell in the 2010 Challenged Athlete Foundation's Triathlon Challenge, and then doing the race myself the following year.
- After work, open-water training swims at Fletcher Cove where we worried about sharks.
- Friday morning swims at La Jolla Cove where we saw sharks!
- Stepping up to my first Olympic distance race and getting much needed advice and counsel from Arch and Katya Meyers.
Deciding to commemorate my 40th birthday in true ActiveX style by doing something I would never have considered doing otherwise, SuperFrog Half-Ironman triathlon, and finishing at my "best-case scenario" time.
- Making jambalaya at Camp.
- Eating jambalaya.
- 70 | An Endurance Journey
- Arch's concept of "-ish". A run of 4-ish miles is at least 6 miles long. A workout that will take you 12-ish minutes is likely to be a 45-minute suffer-fest.
- Making the transition to the lunchtime workouts. Routines can change!
- Seeing others sieze the opportunity that ActiveX affords with both hands (and feet, and bike, etc).
- Having the whole family sign the Xbox door.
- Much, much more.
"I'm leaving the company, but not leaving the lessons of ActiveX behind. It will always be a part of me, and hopefully I will always be a part of ActiveX's story."Jeremy Spitzberg email@example.com | 858.945.6835 | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter