A while ago, I got sick of standing in line for the rental car pickup at the San Francisco airport and got myself the long overdue – admittedly – Gold membership of my preferred rental car company. Not something you have to go round the globe 4 times first. Simply sign up, tell them all your family secrets and file three certificated copies of your medical record with them, but then you immediately get it: your membership card. And from then on, when you arrive with your flight at the airport, an email awaits you to tell you where your rental car is waiting for you: brand, model, stall, license plate. Key inside. Just walk there and off you go. Nice! Life can be a pleasure at times.

Plus, as a good citizen who revealed all of his personal life to get a free membership card, I got an upgrade voucher for my next car rental with them. So I signed up for the upgrade and boosted my corporate standard economy class Kia Rio up to a compact Ford Fiesta. Boy, this was the best upgrade ever that I got. You won’t believe it. Take a look as I got into the city with the Ford via Bay Bridge and went up to Twin Peaks…

[DC Shoes: Ken Block’s Gymkhana Five: Ultimate Urban Playground; San Francisco]

OK, I admit, the CDW was included in the price… 😉

Fairy...I am a huge admirer of Woody Allen and my favorite quote from him reads as follows:

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” [Woody Allen]

It’s not only funny, but also unbelievably comforting, I believe. Makes you smile at yourself when again things don’t turn out as you had planned. As you had expected. As you had prepared everything so diligently. So carefully. So sure it will work along schedule and project plan. As it had to.

As these things go, I had 3 New Year’s resolutions this year:
1. Run the San Francisco Marathon
2. Change something about my job and
3. Finally fulfill a dream that I have been having since I was at university: travel Iceland by bicycle

And as these things also go, and even as the year is barely half through, I have to admit that I only managed to live up to two resolutions:
First, I ran the San Francisco Marathon successfully three weeks ago. What an awesome event! I have blogged about it already.

Second, I changed my job significantly this week taking on a new challenge for SAP — and for myself. What an exciting opportunity!

Trolls...But number three, I had to cancel last week due to number two. And with that, the infamous “window of opportunity” has closed for this year — particularly given the weather conditions in Iceland. There’s currently no way to fit the trip into my schedule. Seems I know one New Year’s resolution for next year already.

But perhaps, just perhaps, these dreams you have for years are supposed to remain dreams. Just for the sake of it. Just to remind you that there’s more to long for. Otherwise — would it have been such a big dream over so many years?

Towards Greenland...So I sit in LH454 again, flying over the Norwegian Sea, approaching Greenland ahead, wondering whether everything does indeed happen for a reason as they say or whether it was the trolls and the fairies, watching us pass Iceland on the inflight info system, somewhere several hundred kilometers below and to the southwest, on our route from Frankfurt to San Francisco, absorbing the surreal scene like through a tiny window of a Sojus space capsule floating silently on its orbit in outer space, dreaming that one day, one fine day, one fine day finally, I am going to make it to Iceland… 😉

Last Sunday was the day: I am slowly recovering, trying to avoid stairs and too much walking around. The only good thing about the pain in the muscles and joints is the fact that you can easily tell they are still there. And that obviously I was putting a strain on them. If it wouldn’t hurt today, I wouldn’t have tried hard enough yesterday. That’s for sure. So all is at is should be, I guess.

San Francisco Marathon 2013 -- Start LineSan Franscisco Marathon 2013! Starting time was from 5:30am to 6:30am and runners were scheduled to get over the starting line in several waves, each at like 10 minutes distance. Since I was a bit too conservative about my finish time when I signed up last year, I ended up in wave 5 and soon figured out that I was in better shape than anticipated. So I was in a small crowd of people leaving the pack and closing in on the wave that started before us… That pretty much remained the case till during half of the run… Passing people which — actually — is a quite motivating moment when running. I was always thinking how it must feel if you start in a wave that’s too fast for you and you have other runners constantly passing you… Not exactly what I would like to have on my mind for 42 kilometers… 😉

The first 10K were just awesome! What a scenery! Starting at Pier 1, following Embarcadero and passing Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina and then climbing up the hill towards Golden Gate Bridge which one could see coming closer slowly all the way since Fisherman’s Wharf! Blue skies above, the morning sun covering the Sausalito and Tiburon hills in a warm yellow light! These are the moments when you know why it was worth getting up at 4 in the morning.

Crossing Golden Gate Bridge was an event in itself. I know it may appear a bit sentimental, but this bridge is just a beauty in itself and running across it with thousands of fellow runners made the whole Marathon pay off already. The only downside was the relatively narrow running tracks in both directions and the fact that so many people were “squeezed” together so that getting along at your own pace was somehow difficult.

San Francisco Marathon 2013 -- Crossing the Golden Gate BridgeAfter having passed Golden Gate in both directions, the track turned through Presidio and the city behind towards Golden Gate Park. A nice part of the Marathon with great views onto the Pacific ocean occassionally, finalizing the sections of major ascent along the trail and giving hope to the Half Marathoners that the end — pardon — the finish line was near.

In Golden Gate Park, the Half Marathoners were send towards their finish line, while the Marathoners were send in turns left and write through the park. It felt as if there were water stations every 500 meters — something that would have been helpful rather towards the end of the Marathon where it felt as if they had forgotten one or the other… But perhaps that perception was only the result of my more and more desperate mind 😉

The second half of the Marathon actually was a bit disappointing from a scenic perspective. Leaving Golden Gate Park and going down Haight-Ashbury and Mission, things became more and more “boring” and when things finally turned towards the SF harbour area it was hard for me to keep up a high spirit and the previous pace (I had covered 36k after 3 hours). After several more turns that apparently were leading into the “wrong” direction — I knew the finish line is close to Bay Bridge — the track made it back towards the North, finally passing the AT&T Ballpark and laying out the last 1km in front of me. The last 6k had taken me 39 minutes to finish. Ouch! Couldn’t keep up the prior pace. But getting closer and closer to the finish line, and making it over it finally, was totally rewarding. That’s the moment when the pain of the past hours is all of a sudden forgotten!

I tend to believe that running a Marathon mimics life to some extent — it’s ups and downs, easier parts and more difficult ones, and it is 70% will to make it through and not give up if things become bumpy –, but there’s one big difference: While you can always predict how long a marathon is and what turns its track will take, life tends to have more sudden and surprising changes in direction in stock for you occasionally…

Running the marathon was awesome and I was totally happy to finish it successfully in 3:39h. Fun at its best!

And the City? She again left a mark. I ran the Marathon for her, I believe. And I am sure I’ll be back for another round soon…

Tomorrow’s the day. The day of the race. The San Francisco Marathon 2013.

I am totally excited. I have been waiting for this day for months now. Preparing. Thinking about it. Getting myself ready. Running a marathon in the City. Finally.

This morning I went out for a last run to stretch a bit and see how I feel. A slow and easy run. Not far from my hotel, but taking me to where the start and finish line will be tomorrow. At Pier 1 on Embarcadero. Nothing to see so far of the preparation, but tomorrow morning at 5:30am, when tens of thousands will be eager to get over the start line at a chilly 12°C, everything will be ready.

Let’s see how the 26.2 miles passing through the 49 square miles surrounded by reality will feel like. I am sure it will be fun. A lot of fun actually. And an extra bit of fun when I reach Bay Bridge again and make it over the finish line 😉

The City. I love her. She again leaves a mark.

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“When I was a child growing up in Salinas we called San Francisco “the City”. Of course it was the only city we knew, but I still think of it as the City, and so does everyone else who has ever associated with it. A strange and exclusive word is “city”. Besides San Francisco, only small sections of London and Rome stay in the mind as the City. New Yorkers say they go to town. Paris has no title but Paris. Mexico City is the Capital.

San Francisco put on a show for me. I saw her across the bay, from the great road that bypasses Sausalito and enters the Golden Gate Bridge. The afternoon sun painted her white and gold rising on her hills like a noble city in a happy dream. A city on hills has it over flatland places. New York makes its own hills with craning buildings, but this gold and white acropolis rising wave on wave against the blue of the Pacific sky was a stunning thing, a painted thing like a picture of a medieval Italian city which can never have existed.

I stopped in a parking place to look at her and the necklace bridge over the entrance from the sea that led to her. Over the green higher hills to the south, the evening fog rolled like herds of sheep coming to cote in the golden city. I’ve never seen her more lovely. When I was a child and we were going to the City, I couldn’t sleep for several nights before, out of bursting excitement. She leaves a mark.”

FROM John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley, 1962


[Teton Gravity Research Aerial Reel – The Bay Area in 4K from Teton Gravity Research on Vimeo]
Tip: Maximize video to fullscreen! And don’t miss lighted Bay Bridge at around 2mins 45secs…

San Francisco. The City. I love her.

Heading back from SFO to Germany after four days of packed schedule with colleagues in our SAP Labs in Palo Alto. I always enjoy being there. Taking a deep breath of Pacific Ocean breeze and Silicon Valley buzz. Trying to inhale as much as possible. Filling lungs and mind. Then eagerly holding my breath to preserve impressions and insights for “back home” in corporate headquarter.

What particularly sticks with me this time and keeps me thinking is our SAP developer ecosystem. I had a meeting with our Developer Community colleagues discussing how we can extend the reach of our technology platform offering beyond our current developer community? Is our Open Source and open standards driven approach these days paying off? How can we take our existing 2 million developers ecosystem with us into the new technologies like HANA, Cloud and Mobile? What are the new skills we need to help developers to acquire step by step? What do we need to learn from them? How can we become attractive for the “scripting kids” and their main ask: “What’s your API”?

For a company that made almost half of its new software license revenue last year – a roughly 2.1 billion euro business – in technology related products, we should be better known for them. For with more than 60% of the world’s business transactions running through SAP solutions, the underlying technology of those solutions is obviously highly strategic for a vibrant partner ecosystem and constantly growing customer base.

It’s time that the world recognizes that we’re meanwhile much more than just an ERP company. And with SAP HANA and our offerings in Analytics, Cloud and Mobile that should be obvious. We’ve come a long way. It’s not that same SAP from the past any more. It’s a new SAP. For sure inside. For sure for our customers and partners. And we need to turn this into a new SAP for developers as well…

While the flight info system suggests that LH455 hangs somewhere in the air at 30.000 feet over the Atlantic, I am still hanging on to San Francisco in my mind. Haven’t really left the City yet as it seems. She always leaves a mark…

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