Tag Archives: Lisboa

Maratona de Lisboa 2017

On Sunday October 15th, together with my friend Juan and brother Jaime, I took part in the Maratona de Lisboa.

marathon_expo

Retrieving the bibs at the marathon expo.

Since some years ago, I always follow the same 16-week training plan to prepare for the marathons. That lead to a start of the plan at the end of June 2017. However, I suffered an otitis in July which took over a month to recover from and forced me more or less to stop. I took again the training plan in mid-August, when there were only 10 weeks left. I then had a clear objective: to get a level of fitness to finish comfortably the race, no more.

Lisboa_weekly_mileage

During the 16 weeks of the nominal training plan, I completed:

  • 520 km of running, thanks to a streak of 7 weeks between mid-August and end September in which I averaged 56 km per week.
  • 14 series / intervals training sessions, out of the 28 included in the plan, a mere 50% and not with the fastest paces of the last years.
  • 8 long runs of over 20 km, with 2 of them of 31 and 32 km, and another two days of 28 km split in morning and afternoon double session trainings.

Another good thing of the training season is sharing the progress of it with my brother Jaime and Juan, which helped in overcoming the inertia to stay quiet and to go out to train. See how Jaime explained his own experience in his blog here.

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At the departure area before the race.

The circuit of the marathon would take us from Cascais to the West for about 6 km and then back to Lisboa passing again through Cascais and Estoril, along the road that follows the coast line running through the Forte de São Bruno de Caxias or along the Torre de Belém to finish at the Praça do Comércio.

Circuit_profile

The circuit was rather flat except some ups and downs in the first half. The main inconvenient of the race would be the heat. Even if the organization advanced the race departure time in a good last minute decision, at 8 am the temperature was already above 17° C, which at the end must have been around 30° C.

Cascais_2

My race strategy was clear: to complete the marathon comfortably at a pace I was used to; for that purpose I would try to run a 3h45′ marathon, a time around which I had already finished 6 marathons. At the beginning I tried to catch the 3h45′ pacers but I found it impossible after having departed a bit behind them. I kept clocking kilometres at a higher pace than I should till km. 15 and still I passed the half marathon mark in 1’30” faster than the pace for 3h45′, however the pacers were running still faster, much faster than required for a 3h45′ though.

Pace_Lisboa

From the km 30 I felt that I was not able to run at the target pace (5’20” per km), and decided to soften the pace to a more comfortable one, around 5’40” which from 37 to 41 became more of a 6’00” with some more time lost in the water stations.

Lisboa_2

During the last kilometres I wondered whether I would still make a time below 3h50′, which I did not for a matter of seconds. But I still ran at a comfortable pace. This one was a marathon to run for the pleasure of running, now that I can. I had not particular objective. I crossed the finish line at the Praça do Comércio with a great feeling of accomplishment in 3h50’12”, my 17th marathon.

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With the 3h50’12”, I finished in the 1,289th place, that is about the upper 28% of the 4,670 finishers. See the diploma from the race below.

Diploma

I then waited for my brother Jaime and Juan to see them finishing and to cheer them for one last effort.

Finisher_duo

Finisher_trio

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Toastmasters D59 2011 Spring Conference (#tm59)

I belong to a couple of Toastmasters clubs in Madrid and Toulouse. Within the organization, clubs are gathered in areas, areas in divisions and divisions in districts. My clubs are part of District 59 which during last weekend it held the spring conference.

District 59 comprises continental Europe. It is now composed of 190 clubs, having grown from 53 in 2001! (or ~14% compounded annual growth during the last decade) and over 5,300 members. At the event we were about 300 Toastmasters (just over 5% of the population), in which had been the largest District conference in the history of the district.

The weekend was great. I started on Friday by going for a sightseeing 10km run through Lisbon as we would not have any time out of the conference. Then, I together with another ~60 members attended a wonderful workshop by Darren LaCroix which I described in a previous post.

This was followed by which it’ll be my last DECM (or District Executive Committee Meeting, as Area Governor of H2) for a while. There it was decided that in the next District Conference there will be semi-finals to shorten the Saturday speech contest (the conference itself was moved to 25-27 November, in Basel, Switzerland). The District is performing well, now ranking #2 of ~80 districts in the World, though it won’t be recognised unless more CCs and ACs are achieved (Competent and Advance Communicator awards). Then the conference itself started.

This was a special event as Pat Johnson, Toastmasters international president, was also present. She gave two keynote speeches: one about the typical Toastmaster member (to discover there isn’t such in TM diversity) and another one on leadership (“It’s amazing how much you can get done if you don’t care about who gets the credit”, H. Truman), both very good presentations, full of insight and experiences.

Toastmasters 2.0

One important thing to note is that this has been the first conference to be widely tweeted. I had attended other Toastmasters conferences in which only some members were tweeting the event, but in this one tweeting was openly encouraged by Jack Vincent, the moderator of the District account (@Toastmasters59), and proved to be a success. Check it out searching the hash tag #tm59 for everything related to the District or #tmlx11 for that particular conference related matters.

On Sunday morning there was a panel discussion about experiences of using the web in Toastmasters. I especially liked the information shared by Marina Lussich, from her club, Barcelona TM. They got to incorporate the use of the web into the Competent Leader manual by assigning roles as “blogger of the day”, etc, which are taken into account for the CL award. Great idea!

In that session it was also raised the possibility of getting sponsors to cover the costs for the streaming of the conference in the future (privacy issues of contestants should be taken into account). It could be interesting for Basel.

Contests

Finally, the most important part of the weekend: the contests. Again we had the chance of witnessing 2 fabulous contests. The Evaluation Contest results were:

  1. John Zimmer,
  2. Olivia Schofield,
  3. Dermot Greene.

The International Speech contest results were:

  1. Olivia Schofield, who will get to represent D59 at the International Convention in Las Vegas!
  2. Peter Zinn,
  3. Gerard Penalosa.

Congratulations to all contestants!

Once again: The organization of the event was superb: The venue, the rooms, the availability of free wi-fi, meals, soundtrack of the event, characterization of the conference chair as Henry the Navigator, performance of a university Tuna group, the Gala Dinner, the helpdesk, etc… Congratulations guys! After having been in 3 conferences organized by you, you rock and keep getting better!

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Stage time, stage time, stage time

Darren LaCroix is a Toastmasters member who won the World championship of public speaking in 2001. Last Friday, I attended a workshop on public speaking that he gave in Lisbon, just before our District 59 Spring conference.

The guy is impressive. The 3-hour workshop was fantastic. The deal was truly value for money.

He explained his story more or less in his winning speech from 2001, repeated at an event of the NSA in the following video:

10 years later, he is even better… but he wasn’t always like that. During the weekend he played another video of himself in the late 80´s. He was then a disaster of a public speaker. He then went on a journey of studying the best speakers and working hard to improve until being what he is today. This sounds very much as the American dream story… but having seen the video back then and seeing the dozens of shelves filled of videos and cassettes of speeches that he went through in those 10 years, there is little doubt of the truthfulness of that story. As he said “I use the tool of Toastmasters better than most”.

Some takeaways of the workshop

I will leave below some of the notes I took during the workshop, to share them with you and to have them properly stored for myself (still, if you get the chance of attending one of his workshops, do yourself the favour and book a place in it). Many of them are quotes either from him or from his coaches, sometimes I didn’t get right the source.

The most important part of a presentation: “The thought process in the audience’s mind”.

He introduced the concept of “salting” a presentation: getting your audience to want to hear your message before you deliver it (building up curiosity, tension).

The 4 most important habits to create:

  1. Never turn down stage time (he even subscribed to 4 different club to “quadruple his failure rate”).
  2. Record yourself every time (“yeah, it’s hard to listen to yourself… but guess who we have to listen to!”).
  3. Be confident enough to be humble.
  4. You must crave feedback.

“Habits are like train tracks: take a long time to put in place but once there they’ll take you anywhere”, Patricia Fripp.

On nervousness before an audience: “Did anyone come here to watch me fail?”

“Skill set without mindset will get your audience upset”.

Sometimes emphasizing is de-emphasizing (from the lyrics of some U2 song).

Clarity and simplicity”, for the audience. Use the stage with a purpose.

“Don’t add humour, uncover humour”. Not especially in favour of adding others’ jokes, if you do that you have to say so.

If you are inauthentic and the audience senses that, they won’t follow you.

Connect before you can educate, entertain and persuade” (he had greeted 90% of the audience individually before starting the workshop). As a curiosity he mentioned the movie “Avatar”, in which the creatures are connected through hair and ponytails, e.g. “the horse chooses the rider”, in the same way the goal of the speaker is to get the audience to like him.

For professional speakers the pay has to be a side effect.

We are not taught how to incorporate feedback.

“Toastmasters slogan should be: `The best place to make mistakes´”.

“The difference between good and great speakers is 100 speeches”, Dale Carnegie. An average Toastmaster member gives 3-4 speeches per year (it’d take 25 years to give 100). Take every opportunity you have to give speeches. He delivered his winning speech 22 times in the 3.5 months previous to the competition. “What is your stage time rate?”; join more clubs.

“Speaking as a dialogue, not a monologue”. Use pauses to give people time to reflect, especially when speaking to people of different cultures and when you ask rhetorical questions. Since pauses are uncomfortable for the speaker, give yourself something to do mentally, e.g. counting “1001, 1002, 1003…” (Internal dialogue)

Use stories

“Jesus did not use Power Point… he used parables”. Tell one to make a point; then another one to make another point. Use very clear transitions between stories. Be careful of narrating the story: not good to step in and out of the story. “Take us, don’t tell us”. A story goes directly into the subconscious.

“What can you do to tell the story without words?”. The emotion is in the eyes (“eye-motion”). Reaction tells the story.

In a story: at least one of the characters has to change the emotion from the beginning to the end. Focus on telling better stories. The audience needs to know who is speaking: the best way to achieve it is by using the name of the recipient of the message in the dialogue (no need to change position, just a heel-turn).

V.A.K.S. = Visual Auditory Kinesthetic Smell (strongest one is describing smell)

Invite the audience into the scene (use “you”). “I / you ratio”: Even when telling a personal story, use more times the pronoun “you”.

“Tap and transport”: ask a question about a personal memory of the audience and then bring them into your story (they’ll relate what you say with their story, it’ll be their story). Once telling the story is better to use present tense. Do not ask “How many of you…?”, use instead “Have you…?”, the test is that you would never ask to a friend in a 1-to-1 conversation “How many of you?”.

“It doesn’t matter what you see, it matters what the audience see when you say it”, Patricia Fripp.

Not in favour of memorizing a speech (internalize it). Never give a speech in front of a mirror. Do not memorize gestures (inauthentic).

What do you want the audience to do / think / feel after hearing your speech? You must be able to phrase that message in 10 words or less.

On the use of simple vocabulary/grammar: “the audience wants you present, not perfect”.

Hold the silence before starting the speech (shows confidence): the “Ed Tate scan”. How stable you are in the first 30 seconds tells the audience how stable the message is.

Let it go. The true story is not so important. You may have to twist some details or cut some parts.

Opening: CSI beginning, i.e. directly into the crime scene.

Do not preach. Don’t tell people what to do (“you should”), instead tell what you did, what “we” could do, etc…

Recordings of Toastmasters finals speeches can be found at: Bill Stephens Productions. Darren found out that the champions:

  • Had a coach.
  • Paused.
  • Used Word to write the speeches (counting words).
  • Had a sparkle in the eye (they owned the stage).

If there is anything we should take home from the workshop, it is: “Stage time, stage time, stage time”.

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