Archive for November, 2009

The Marathon. It Sucked.

November 23, 2009

The long slog begins

It’s taken me more than a week to properly process the beat down that was the San Antonio Marathon last Sunday.

Long story short, I actually finished it, but it took me more than five painful hours. I have many excuses.

1.) My running buddy, with whom I’d been training since July, got nauseated around mile 15. This led us to stop for about twenty minutes as he debated inside a porta-potty whether he needed to throw up. I told him, F*CK IT, JUST DO IT LIVE! (as Bill O’Reilly would say), but I think he ended up keeping all those Gu energy gels in his system.

2.) The energy drink of choice at the SA Rock ‘n Roll Marathon? Something called Cytomax, which really smelled and tasted more of Pedialite mixed with Honey Cough, by Robitussin. I was really hurting for Powerade.

3.) Did not plan for upper 80’s and thick humidity in mid-November, but that’s really a lame excuse considering I do live in Texas.

4.) Running buddy Eddie from bullet point number one ended up hitting the proverbial wall at mile 19. This was highly unfortunate, as I was already nearing something like a wall. Decided, ultimately, to leave him behind, but this was probably not the smartest decision as I spent the last 7.2 miles feeling alone and angry that I was still running.

Finally, FINALLY made it through, and a lot of thanks go to the strangers who were out there supporting us with awesome signs. My favorites included:

“KEEP RUNNING, WE’RE ALREADY DRUNK”
“This is hard. That’s what she said!”

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Emerging from the Hole

November 4, 2009

I’m not a parent, but I feel like a team of us at The Texas Tribune just birthed a baby. We launched early Tuesday morning, and to follow the metaphor, we know the hard work is just beginning.

Together, we worked 12 to 18 hour days for something like two and a half weeks straight. The developers were given 90 wireframes of designs and features to code, and only three to four weeks to code it. We didn’t outsource the work to Bangalore, and we are a site run on all custom systems – from our content management system, down to the widget all staffers have on their laptops in order to link stories to “TribWire”.

By the wee small hours of launch, my eyes looked like roadmaps, it was Tuesday but I thought it was Thursday, my emotional bandwith ran so low that I would start crying spontaneously, and all of us survived on food being brought in to us so we wouldn’t have to leave the building in order to eat.

I realized how removed from the world I became when someone told me there was a Michael Jackson documentary coming out, and I’d never heard of it before.

The site is now live, and the incredible response we collectively received from the national press and tech geeks and smarmy lobbyists and people who don’t even like politics has been enough to induce tears — this time, the happy kind. This is the hardest I’ve ever worked, but the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. We mean it when we say this has purpose.

Those of us who graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism know Walter Williams’ creed well. It begins like this:

“I believe that the public journal is a public trust; that all connected with it are, to the full measure of responsibility, trustees for the public; that acceptance of lesser service than the public service is a betrayal of this trust.”

Ever since the day I graduated from college and started working in journalism, I’ve observed the slow whittling away of the public service part of what we do in order to meet the high stakes demands of turning a profit. Our founder, John Thornton, who started the Tribune as his personal form of philanthropy, decided that you can’t serve both God and mammon. That journalism plus business equals business, and in starting and being a non-profit-by-choice we can throw every dollar we raise straight back into the product and our mission – journalism that matters.

This whole experience has been nothing short of a series of small miracles. In my personal life, had this not come along, who knows what Stiles and I would have had to sacrifice in order to be in the same city. In my professional life, had the Tribune’s Evan Smith and Ross Ramsey not called, I may have wandered out of this craft that I love. On many, many fronts,  I am so grateful. We’re exhausted but exhilarated.

More than 1,000 people crowded an Austin bar last night to celebrate our coming out. I cried (again) when I saw my friends who I’ve missed seeing so much. Thank you a million, gazillion times for supporting this financially, intellectually and in spirit.

Finally, I think y’all know that part of the reason I love my new job so much is because I get to mess around a little and exercise creative freedom as much as there’s time in the day. Our site developers are so awesomely geeky that I used my little pocket Canon to catch some moments in the early morning hours before launch. Here’s to the boys.