North Fork 50M

“Hey, I’m going to do a race in colorado with Don in June, you want to go?”
“Um..” looking at the website, I see the price is going up tomorrow. I think about how Julie signs up for races on a whim, and reply, “Sure. I’m in.”

Fast forward a month or so. After a few hours in Colorado, I’m instantly smitten. It seems like there are trails and people on bikes everywhere. In terms of buildings and businesses, much of it seems new and well planned. The landscaping is not an after thought. The weather is picture perfect, although it would get an “uncomfortable” 82 degrees. It’s pretty damn amazing.

When they relocated to Ken Caryl from San Antonio, Don chose wisely as there is a trailhead about a mile from his place. Julie and I hiked and ran a bit Thursday. On Friday, Don joined us and gave a guided tour of his “backyard.” It was completely different than anything back home in San Antonio. It’s how I imagine trail running is supposed to be.

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Julie looking down on the horse stables.

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The night before the race, I’m in a mild panic mode getting ready. I haven’t made any drop bags and not sure if I should bother or not. I debate bringing a rain jacket and a headlamp, but pack them “just in case.” (I’ll need neither.) If I don’t have drop bags, I can carry only a few of the food items I brought.

Perhaps giving me the greatest concern is that I’m bring a GoPro attached to a handheld gimbal, which I used while running only once, the day before. During a race is probably not the best time to practice using a new piece of nonessential equipment, but the overwhelming desire to record the scenery trumped rational decision making. Whats worse, I bring my phone too. While I aspire to a minimalist lifestyle in general, when I run, I pack like a boy scout.

A knee issue and then an Achilles issue had me running fewer miles leading up to the race. I knew I’d be able to complete the race, but was unsure of how difficult it would be. Lack of training, lots of climbing, and a bit of altitude seemed like a challenging combination.

 

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Don and me before the race. 

Fast forward to 6:55 am. It’s another perfect morning. The RD is giving the race briefing over a megaphone but I can’t hear her over the chatter of the racers. NBD, I figure, just follow the markers. The course is pretty easy to follow. The trail is well worn and well marked at intersections. The course was nice, but I was hoping for a little more scenery.

 

The trail followed a creek for a while and there were several creek crossings. It wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to stop and put my feet in the water, but at the same time it was absolutely necessary. Only a handful of times have I ever had the privilege of soaking my feet in ice cold mountain water. How could I pass that up?

I suggested to Julie that we stop and soak our feet. My method was to remove my shoes, my socks and my liner toe socks. She, however, jumped in shoes and all. I prayed her feet would dry fast enough to avoid blisters. (Later, she told me her feet dried really quick, guess my prayers worked!)

The last 15 miles were a slog. Other than Julie, with whom I ran several miles, I didn’t really talk to anyone during the race. That isolation made things worse towards the end when I was bonking and mentally weak. My nutrition was absent, nothing sounded good, so I wasn’t eating enough.

The second from last aid station I was desperate, I asked if they had beer. I love beer, but usually save it for after the race. But I was in dire need of calories. The volunteer cracked open a Coors and filled a small cup. I started to say that I didn’t need the cup, but then realized I should just let him do his thing. The beer was very cold… and delicious! I ended up drinking maybe half the can of beer and felt a little better. I thanked the volunteer and headed out.

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The last two miles I started to run again, inspired by the desire to finish and be done. (And to consume more beer.) Two girls passed me early in the race, and then I passed them n the middle of the race, passed me again in the last mile. It was somewhat amusing to me as their bibs were attached to the back of their shirts, #69 and #71. I was #70. 

When I finished, Don and Julie, and Helena and Hudson were waiting. They looked like they had all been well rested and fed. I didn’t finish with a fast time, around 11:30, but I had fun. Mediocre races do have an inspiring effect on me in that it makes me want to train harder so that I don’t struggle so much.

While I ran with Julie, I filled her in on one of my ideas. I always come up with these crazy ideas while I’m running -because why not? And one day maybe one of my crazy ideas will work out and make me rich.

Anyway, my idea was to start selling WWJ*D bracelets. What Would Julie Do?
Julie would:
Study the course info.
Have mental strategies to cope with the terrain
Pack lightly.
Finish 4th female.

Basically, Julie would kick ass. So BE MORE LIKE JULIE is my new plan.

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Julie making duckface and me squinty

 

Sold!

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Finally sold a painting! Have had about 10 paintings hanging in a swanky bar downtown for six months now. Got an email asking if the piece was for sale, conversed via email and settled on a price. And then comes the drama.

Told the bar owner’s assistant that I sold the piece. She was mildly upset because when we hung all the paintings six months ago, she had expressed interest and (may have stated outright) that she wanted to buy the piece for herself/ the bar. But I had totally forgotten about that. When I got the email asking if the work was for sale, I was more concerned about coming up with a price.

Today the owner of the bar called me and asked if I would reconsider the sale. He was (somehow) under the impression that his assistant had already paid me and the bar owned the piece. I told him I would feel pretty crummy backing out of the deal; the buyer had literally just sent the check in the mail. I gave him her number and suggested he plead his case to her. I haven’t heard back from anyone.

I feel terrible about how things have transpired.  My main takeaway here is be sure to communicate better with others. I could have avoided this whole mess if I had consulted the owner and/or his assistant first.

Next time I’ll have a plan on how to properly sell work.

 

Zion 100M

Waiting forever for a flight? Write a race report!

 

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All smiles before the race. 

Went with Elizabeth, my buddy Ed, and his gf Katherine.

 

Start was a hill. Slowish going, not bad, good warmup. Run behind Ed. Lots of dust. One spot had a rope to use or you could go around. Never seen that before. Chose to go around. First aid station top of hill. Do I need aid this early?

Starts getting light. You can see the scenery. Take shots with GoPro. Stash camera in pack. Stop to poop. Commence running again. More awesome scenery, grab camera and… I’ve been filming for 20 min. Definitely was filming during my poop break. Wonder how that’ll turn out. And I’ve managed to get separated from Ed. Don’t see him again till Mile 50 or so.
Running behind two guys. See kid up ahead, holding out his cupped hands.  He offers the first runner,  “Ca- SHOOS?” No thanks. And the second runner, “Ca-SHOOS?” No thanks. And them me, “I LOVE cashews!”  kid dumps some into my hand. I chastise the runner in front of me for not humoring the kid and taking some cashews. Dry and flavorless, I eat a few and chuck the rest.
Taking a selfie at a lookout. Put phone down, set timer. Hear what sounds like a horde of buzzing bees. Look around, it’s a freaking drone! I give it the peace sign, it hovers for awhile. I try and take my pictures, it’s still there. I give up and start running downhill. It follows me for a bit. I think, Okay. I’ll try and haul ass down a rocky descent, give it something worth filming.” But eventually it flies away, following a runner going uphill. Just as well. I sure hope there aren’t any drones when I have to, uh, you know.

 

Garmin 920xt failure. Feel smart for finally remembering to use Ultra Trac mode. Watch should last a long time. Miles are clicking by. Before I know it, I’ve done 20 miles. And then a few minutes later, 21 miles… Wait, that can’t be right- 21 miles in 3.5 hours? Ask a girl nearby what’s her mileage? 14. F*********ck! GPS is off by SEVEN miles? Rest of the race, hear the mile beeps but can’t look cause I know they are wrong. Makes the whole race a little more difficult not knowing what mile I’m at. (You could say,  “The aid stations are at known mileage points, just go by that,” but that doesn’t help.) Same thing happened to a guy I ran with, except he was smart enough to start his watch over at an aid station and use just regular GPS. I decided against that because …. I’m an idiot.

Adding insult to injury was when watch beeped low battery, after only about 20 hours. The Whole point of Ultra Trac is extended battery life. Now I don’t even get that? Next time, will try and use a charger during the run. Or bring along my old Garmin. (But that’s annoying to have two separate files for the race. Or is that just me?)

The big climb. Talked to a guy named Danny leading up to the climb. Said he’d run the race 5 times. Two other races he’d also done every year. As we began to climb the hill, he cursed at the hill, “Come on mother effer!” Very amusing. The hill was steep and longish, but didn’t seem that bad. Poles were a tremendous help. Made it about 2/3 up before I realized to turn around and look at the beautiful scenery behind me.

 

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Mile 35 doesn’t look like much a hill from the photo. 

 

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Got to the top, the volunteer recording our race numbers was a young girl about 12. She greets me with, “Alright! You made it to the top of that stupid hill!” I was like… Accurate!

This was probably the best section scenery wise. We ran along the edge of the mesa which provided some spectacular views, although these pictures don’t fully convey that.

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Paul, whose first 100 in the US got him one ticket, with which he got into Western States.

 

The rain finally shows up. I’m running down this dirt road that is quickly turning into the worst kind of thick mud. Super slippery, thick, and gloms onto your shoes, weighing you down. I come to a T section, there is a car stuck in the mud, and 3 cars waiting on it to get unstuck. For a split second, I feel like I should stop and help. See several other cars coming up the hill, tires spinning out because of the slick mud. Can only think that these people are morons. Film one girl driving a tiny ass car spinning out.

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Couldn’t figure how to edit video, so here ya go. 

Running out the red loop. Somehow miss the first turn. Run about a mile before I realize I’ve not seen ANY confidence markers. Think that’s okay, maybe they assume you know this must be the way. Did see one guy running opposite direction, so…. It must be… Turn around and run back. See a pair runners a bit aways, yell at them if they are doing the red loop. They are. I was def off course. Get back on, see where I made my mistake. I think I was readjusting my pack. Pretty upsetting but I don’t dwell on it that much. It’s about this time that I stop running and can only hike. My right shin has started to hurt.

The White and Blue loops were tough: I couldn’t run, I felt like the sections weren’t well marked, it was dark, I was alone, I’d heard all my music by this point, I wasn’t eating well because my stomach wasn’t happy. (At the aid station, I actually threw up for the first time during a race. It was just a little bit, nothing major, but still.) And it rained on and off, which had me taking off my pack to put on my jacket and then 10 minutes later taking off my pack so I could take off my jacket. And the miles seemed S U P E R  L O N G. BUT I never got to a really low point, my mental game was pretty good considering. I managed to slog through the night, and my spirits rose when it started to get light.

After I finished the blue loop, I was supposed to do the final trail section to the finish, but because of the rain, the course had been modified to have us run the dirt road back. This route was 2 miles shorter, but would still make for an exact 100 miles.

Walking out to start the very last section to the finish, I see a guy I thought I had left in the dust. Take off my coat and pack, try to stash my poles in my pack. He takes off running. Puts up a good distance while I’m fumbling with my pack. I start running, want to catch up. (He doesn’t know it, but he’s racing me.) Haul ass done a dirt road, stop to sh*t. Hope the guys I just passed are far enough back…  I pass a lot of people in this home stretch. Everyone is walking. Eventually catch up to him. I run 90% of the last leg. Final mile I see the 55kers heading out. Film that. Keep seeing roller after roller, more flags, wondering where the f#ck is the finish???

 

Finally see the inflated finish gate. Haul ass, pass 4 more guys. Run it in strong. Want to cry. Go to the finisher tent, lady basically tells me which one to pick. I’m done. I got my damn buckle.

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Ed and Katherine are at the finish. Ed dropped after I saw him last at the aid station. Katherine’s race got rerouted to a lame out and back on a dirt road, so she was able to defer till next year. We waited several hours for Elizabeth to finish. She also got rerouted but finished with only about 82 miles.

 

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Food wise: Pickles were good! And Bacon and Avacado. Quesadillas are okay, but tend to de dry and flavorless, which is a bad combo because it seems hard to generate saliva towards the middle and end of race. Need juicier things, things with higher water content. Also don’t eat or drink the same thing at every station. Especially soda, it makes my  stomach acidic. (At least in the quantities I ingest.)  Have to alternate or pace the soda intake. Alternate liquid nutrition with solid foods.

Dissolvable seltzer tabs helped. Ibuprofen always helps.

Bladder and a bottle. Best combination. Cannot overstate convenience of a drink tube.

Change of socks. Dry clothes. Bring even more pairs when expecting rain or tough environment. Vaseline and Double sock treatment kept me blister free. Do not care for La Sportiva Bushidos for more than 20 miles. Ran 50 in them and was glad to get them off. Good traction, but not entirely comfortable. Calf sleeves, still not sure about, but my calves weren’t terribly sore after the race, but then neither were my quads, so… Batteries. Extra headlamp. Gaiters. Need to order gaiters.

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My dopey new hat

New hat worked out beautifully, although it is kind of heavy and bulky. New rain jacket worked beautifully. Kept me dry and warm, did not overheat. Watertight bags worked fine. Not sure if they got rained on, but my stuff was dry. (They were also inside ziplocks, so they had better be.)
Changed contacts mid race. No issues with blurry vision. This was a huge win, as having an issue with my vision would have made the night that much more difficult. But it was hard to put them on. Need to practice without a mirror. Always have something clean to catch them on.

Naps. Took two (three?) 5 min naps. Points I felt woozy, like I was drunk. Glad I had my poles at the end. More sleep prior to race, especially if travel is involved.

One carry on bag only. Elizabeth had two(?!) suitcases and that was problematic. Always have a proper post race drop bag. Dry clothes, a blanket or hoodie, cash and ID. And beer and food if possible.

Walking was sore the next day, but not nearly as bad as in the past.

Rocky Raccoon 100M Report

My painting motto is “They don’t all have to be masterpieces.” Going to take that approach to writing. Waste time polishing and nothing gets finished. Quantity over quality.

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Training for Rocky was lackluster. Things and life left me feeling kind of blah about running. But the race went pretty well and now I have a little more belly fire to start training again.

Leaving the motel I was worried. I heard some ominous thunder. Then saw the flashes of lightning. I got in my car and then it started… hailing?? Yep, that’s hail. It rained a good deal as we drove to the park. Fortunately the rain stopped, there was very little mud, and we had perfect weather the entire race.

During the early going, I started chatting with this guy Steve from Chicago and another guy from Beaumont (Texas). I think Steve was running his second 100 and Beaumont his first. I was worried for Beaumont; it was 40 degrees and huge beads of sweat were already crowding his brow less than 5 miles into the race.

Steve kept mathing out loud about what pace we should be running in order to finish in a certain time. All of his answers had us running at a much slower pace than we were actually running, and yet we didn’t slow down.

Eventually, Beaumont dropped off. I never learned his name, so I don’t know if he finished. I ran with Steve for awhile and we talked. We ran side by side for awhile as we talked and eventually settled into some quiet periods but we were still running side by side. This made for somewhat awkward trail navigation. It wasn’t until later that this started to bug me.

We caught up to my friend Julie. Steve ran up to her side and chatted. Then they fell silent, but he was still there by her side. When he ran behind her, he was hot on her heels. Julie, ever too polite to verbalize her dislike, said nothing. I however, have no such qualms and yelled at Steve, “Grow your bubble!” I told him: “Run in front or behind, but not beside. Running side by side is cutting the already narrow trail in half.” (I know that probably doesn’t sound warranted, but just trust me, it was.)

Later when it was just Julie and me, I mentioned that Steve had been the dictionary definition of a Klingon. Someone so tight up your ass you just cant shake them.

Trail Etiquette: Give people some space! Especially people you’ve just met.

When I hit mile 50, I was amazed at how fast the time had gone by. Not having any hills or rocks to deal with almost made it…. fun? Is that how this ultra business is supposed to go? I don’t think I ever hit any really low points in the race. My lowest point was around mile 99. But first lemme back up.

At Bandera 100K a month ago, I’d experienced some weird issues with my vision after the race. I was seeing halos around any and every source of light. It made it hard to see, but luckily was completely gone the next day.

Somewheres around mile 70, the vision in my right eye started to get blurry. It looked like I had morning sleepy stuff in my eye. I rubbed and rubbed my eye, but that did nothing. I swapped out my contact, thinking maybe it was damaged. That didn’t do anything either. Gradually it got worse and worse until the vision in my right eye was completely fogged. By mile 80, I was a pirate.

It wasn’t too big of a deal. Even with two good eyes, depth perception is a challenge when a headlamp is your sole light source. (That may also be what is causing this issue.) The hard part was when there was two way traffic, the oncoming headlamp essentially blinded me. I had to slow down or stop and look down at the ground. Again not a big deal.

But then there was this girl.

I don’t know how or why it started. I passed her and her pacer on the trail and I think she was a little put off. Maybe she was thinking something like, “That guy just passed me?” I thought nothing of it and put some distance between us. I was walking a section just past the Damnation aid station, and who would you know pulls up beside me? I looked over and thought to myself, “Oh, it’s you.” I put on a fast song to give me some motivation, and I took off. That may have been the official / unofficial start of this little showdown.

I hauled ass and tried to put as much distance between us as I could. But this girl would just not quit. All I could think of was that metal guy from The Terminator movie. I was running as hard as I could and it was like a nightmare. Everything was the same shade of brown and gray. There were a lot of twists and turns, I had a real hard time telling where the trail went. Several times I went off into the bushes. What really sucked was when runners came from the opposite direction. (Some sections of the trail had two way traffic.) It was neck and neck for the last five miles. She was on me like… Steve! Total Klingon in the best way.

I could hear her breathing heavily, it sounded like she was having sex. I felt like I had the legs to outlast her. I thought no way can she keep this up if she’s breathing that hard. But she kept up, and as we neared the finish, I hit my lowest point of the race – the girl caught up and passed me at about mile 99. Her pacer and I exchanged a few words as they passed. I mentioned she should get an award for best socks.

I tried to keep up with her, “Just keep her in sight,” I thought. I kept skipping songs on my iPod to get a fast song, but it wasn’t happening. And I pretty much gave up the fight right there. I stopped running and walked. My quads were toast. I was tired of not being able to see where I was going. I got beat by that girl!

I was a little disappointed that neither the girl nor her pacer hung around for a handshake at the finish. I didn’t finish that far behind them. Usually after friendly challenges like that, it’s a nice gesture, win or lose. But whatever. I was happy to be done.

20:03:51 That girl

20:05:27  Yours Truly

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OH YEAH I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT GORDY AINSLEIGH, THE FATHER OF ULTRARUNNING, WAS AT THE RACE!!! That kind of seems like a big deal, right?

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Nueces 50M Race Report

Apologies as I have no photos for this post. Tragic, I know.

Crawling along in tortoise speed traffic, I was trying to get on the exit ramp to I-10 as a big semi truck was trying to get into my lane. The whole front of the truck was covered in ice. Gee whiz, I thought, did this guy just drive here from Canada or something? Two hours later, the front of my car would be similarly covered.

After the two hour drive, I arrived at Camp Eagle in Rocksprings. The weather was cold, wet, and miserable. And soon enough, I’d be running 50 miles in it. That evening there was a nice pasta dinner. I was hungry and the food was surprisingly tasty so I had two huge plates. The brownies were especially awesome, I had three of those!

I stayed in a dorm with 5 other runners. Before lights out, my friend Julie joked she was in trouble if anyone snored because she had only one earplug.  And wouldn’t you know it, one of our runners did snore. LOUDLY. It seemed to get louder with each breath until he gasped or moved and the snoring finally stopped…. until a few minutes later when the cycle restarted.

I have a hard time falling asleep as it is, so this was just torture. The worst part was the fact that he knew he snored but didn’t warn us. He offered a limp apology the next morning. As such, he is now on my list of non-approved bunk mates.

Considering the night’s sonic landscape, 4 am came way too early. But once I accepted that it was “Go-Time,” it was business as usual. Waiting under the pavilion at the race start, we found out another member of our group had just gotten off a plane, drove here two hours, and signed up for the race. Oh, and he was working off 2 or 3 hours of sleep. All I could think was, “You’re nuts! But in a good way. Sort of.”

And so the countdown, the race starts, and the running begins…

It was cold and misty, but at least it wasn’t raining. However there was ice everywhere. The ice made for very slippery footing. The loose rocks were like oiled marbles. Going up hills was really frustrating;  much of the first lap was an exercise in patience and curse words. Later, I put that practice cursing to use.

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I was running along, and came up to a wooden bridge I had to cross. I stepped on the landing, slipped, and dead chickened, landing flat on my right side. I lay there for a second, blinking. I was literally and figuratively stunned. I had just totally wiped out.

My wrist sort of hurt, but otherwise, I seemed to be okay. I got up slowly and gingerly made my way across the bridge, which was coated in ice a quarter inch thick. I could have skated across. Safe on the other side, I found a new respect for those highway signs that say BRIDGE MAY ICE IN COLD WEATHER.

During the second loop, I came into the aid station that we hit twice per loop. Chris (from my running group) says, “Cara was bummed she didn’t catch up to you. She wanted to run with you for a bit.” Half joking and half serious I said, “Cara’s not going to catch up to me!” Cara’s a strong runner, but I know I’m faster than her.

During the third and final loop, I see a girl behind me  that sure looks like Cara. I yell out “CARA!” No response – must not be her. Few minutes later, the same girl and a guy I know come bounding up behind me. Wouldn’t you know it, it IS Cara. (Earbuds!)

I’m feeling low energy, so she takes over the lead. We run together and chat for a few miles. I tell her what I’d said to Chris, (lest she hear it from him first.) When we get to the aid station, I say ,”Hey Chris, look who caught up to me!” It was pretty amusing, we all had a good laugh. Leaving the aid station, my energy levels had  picked up. I took over the lead and eventually dropped Cara. She would finish only 4 minutes behind me, placing First Female in the 50M.

Speaking of awesome female runners, I remember seeing Melanie pass me on a hill. Her bangs were little icicles. I wondered how on Earth could she dress like it was the middle of summer and not freeze to death? She would go to place Overall Second in the 50K. (Overall First was a female as well!)

And the last strong runner was a dude named Dana. This guy and I had been leapfrogging for the second and third lap. He would slowly but consistently jog up the hills and pass me as I hiked. Then later on the flats, I would bomb past him. We traded back and forth like this at least 8 times.

Every time I passed him, I hoped he would stay passed. But when I’d stop at an aid station, it would be just a few seconds later and he’d come trotting into view. I kept thinking of that scene in the Terminator movie where the bad metal cop guy turns his arm into spikes and he stabs the trunk of the car and they can’t shake him. Yeah, that was the guy following me.

While we didn’t exactly chat, we did speak to each other. We were both running our own race, neither of us were concerned about “winning” the duel. Sure, I would have liked to have finished one place better, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. The whole back and forth was rather comical.

Coming into the final few miles, I was ahead of Dana, but running out of gas. I knew there was a small hill coming, so I stopped and waited for him. I told him I knew he was going to pass me, so go ahead. He finished 3 minutes before me, placing Overall Fifth in the 50M.

I crossed the finish in 9:21:02, placing Overall Sixth. Dana came up to me and  shook my hand and gave me a bro hug. Since he’s a local, I’m sure I’ll see him at another race.

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What did I learn?

**DO NOT ROOM WITH PEOPLE WHO SNORE. You might say use earplugs, but then how do you hear your alarm?

**GIRLS ARE FAST. Also, I am not as fast as I think I am.

**BE ALERT, ICE CAN BE DANGEROUS. We don’t encounter ice very often on our trails in Texas, so when the conditions are right for ice, pay attention. This is even more important while driving.

**I LOVE SNICKERS. Bite size rule! Sweet AND salty! Actually, I already knew I loved Snickers…

**SOMETIMES IT’S MORE ABOUT THE PEOPLE RUNNING THE RACE THAN THE RACE ITSELF. 

 

 

 

Touting the Twofer

I love my library. I love that I can borrow books, music cd’s, movies, and magazines. So much information available for free and all I have to do is return it on time. What a deal! The best part is there’s a branch not far from where I run most often. So I will run to the library to pick up or drop off items – literally running an errand. That was one of my first “Twofers.”

A few months ago, I started doing hot yoga, aka Bikram. My right knee felt weak and I asked one of the instructors for advice on how to strengthen it. He suggested trying the Cr***fit workouts at the Hollywood Park location. Since it’s part of my yoga membership, I figured I’d give it a try.

I went a few times, and it was actually “fun.” It certainly wasn’t as aggro as I imagined it would be. (But that’s probably because it’s a beginner’s class.) It was like going to the gym, but instead of having to figure out what to work on, someone tells me what to do and I try to do it. I liked that aspect very much and kept going back.

It takes about a half hour to drive to the location, so I decided to put that drive time to use. I started listening to my Thai language audio tapes. I don’t know how well it works since I’m half paying attention (since I’m driving) but I’m going to keep at it.

So the yoga studio is next door, and I would always see everyone in there practicing. It eventually occurred to me that I ought to try a Twofer. I was concerned I would be too tired to do an hour thirty in the hot room, but decided to give it a try. It was tough at first (and still is) but I got through it. It’s not so bad and now I look at he Cr***fit workout as a warmup to the hot yoga. The best part is I don’t have to think about when to go to yoga, at minimum, I go Tuesday and Thursday.

Today, I’m going to do a new Twofer- running to Yoga. The Huebner studio is only about 4.5 miles from my house, so that should be a pretty easy run. The weather today is perfect: cool and sunny. Once I get some new tires on my bike, I think riding to yoga would be another great Twofer option.

I use Strava to log my miles, and recently started taking Instagrams during runs – another Twofer! – and I’ll include those when I get back.

 

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Kirby Flats 50K Report: First DNF (with an Asterisk?)

Kirby Flats was an inaugural race, and actually the first time the director had ever put on a race.  There was a 50K,  25K,  and 10K. All three were free provided we gave our honest feedback about the race.

It was a small turnout, maybe 50 people for all three races combined. In the 50K, there were only eight runners, and three of us were Rockhoppers. The race started at 6 am. It was a cold, misty, and dark. At the start we joked how everyone was guaranteed a top ten finish. And whoever came in first would set a course record.

Kyle the race director sent us on our way at 6 sharp. We started with a long steep incline. The other two Rockhoppers Brian and Ed chatted away, I just listened. There was another guy right behind us who became part of our group due to proximity. After a mile, (!) we never saw the other four guys again, which was weird because we were not running fast at all.

The second mile was unrunnable. There was no clear trail on the ground, so we had to keep hunting for the next flag. And unfortunately, the flags were not reflective. But what really slowed us down was the terrain: tons of slippery exposed rock and steep uphills/ downhills covered with scree and leaves. It took us 29 minutes to cover mile 2.  This set the tone for the rest of the race.

Eventually, we did reach some sections that we could run. After hiking so much, it felt weird to actually run.  Unfortunately, we soon entered a super flat and super boring section that ran along the fence line of pasture. It felt like when you were in high school and they made you run laps around the field as punishment.

I felt dumb having complained about how tough the earlier sections were and now how boring these flat sections were. And we were still having to figure out where the flags were leading us.

It may have been as early as mile 2 when the topic of dropping the race came up. At an average of only three miles per hour, it would have taken about 10 hours… to finish a 50K! We had expected 6 or 7, maybe 8 hours, but 10? Was it worth it? (I joked that we weren’t even getting a t-shirt for our efforts.)

I had never not finished a race, and I knew this would happen eventually. I felt conflicted as to whether I should continue or not.  I wasn’t injured. But did I really want to spend another 6 hours out here in the cold rain on this poorly marked course essentially by myself? (The new guy said he wanted to finish. But this was his first trail run and he didn’t even bring water with him. I certainly didn’t want to have to rely on him.)

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Trail version of Groundhog Day: Stephanie, Jazzy, and Adnil ran the same loop 3 times.

After almost 4 hours, we made it back to the start having completed one 20K loop. (The 50K was (2) 20K loops + (1) 10K loop.) There were lots of 25K runners at the tent. The race director was there, listening to the runners’ woes. Apparently, everyone had had navigational issues. One group of ladies had somehow managed to run a small loop three times. Basically, it turned into a big drop party. At the time, I didn’t feel bad dropping since everyone else was.

DNF's all around but still smiling!
Three 50K DNFs and three 25K DNFs! Still smiling though!

But two days later, I feel crappy about dropping.  Sure it would have taken a long time, but it’s not like I’ve never run for 10 hours before. Sure the course was confusing, but we (think we) ran it. And the poor new guy – I could have helped him finish his first trail race.  But what bothers me the most is this was a challenge and I pussed out. I could have finished, I just didn’t want to, which seems like the worst excuse possible.

There’s nothing I can do about it now, the DNF is in the books. It’s certainly a bummer, but not the end of the world. I don’t know if the RD is going to post any “official” results – as there may not be any results to post. I am curious if any of the other four 50K guys finished. I will feel a little less crummy if no one finished.

KF 50K DNF

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Marathon

This past weekend I ran the Houston Marathon. It was not the race I had hoped for, but it was the race I expected.

At the end of October, I ran my first 100 Mile race, Cactus Rose. That jacked up my knee sufficiently that it took a week to walk normal and without pain. And then I went to Thailand for 7 weeks. At first I felt like I was still recovering, then it was just laziness combined with lack of motivation. And beer. I ran maybe 6 times in those 7 weeks. Got home two days before Christmas leaving me about three weeks to “train.” Yeah, that’s not going to work out so well.

I booked my hotel and then found out a friend wanted to carpool, but was going on different days. I couldn’t change the dates of my stay, so I changed hotels. My new hotel was much cheaper but much … what’s the word? Skeezier?

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Barricading the door.

Actually, it was more of a motel – the door opened directly to the parking lot. And since I was in a somewhat sketchy area, I felt thankful the motel was kind enough to provide something to barricade the door, locks or not. And check out the festive carpeting! I can only imagine how they chose that carpeting and I’m pretty sure LSD would have to be involved. And I was now a bit further from the start of the race, almost two miles. I figured at least I’ll be warmed up by the time I got to the start.

Oh, and did I mention I was sick? I didn’t volunteer at a race the week before because I feared the weather would get me sick… and then I got sick anyway. Fortunately, the day of the race I was at 98% good. I debated whether or not to carry my phone with me. I was afraid of dropping my phone and/ or getting it wet. I really wanted to try to take pictures during the race, but it’s difficult to get anything worth a darn. And I would be able to find my friend easier after the race. I figured out how to wrap my phone in my Buff to carry it easily and safely, so I decided to take it.

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I thought making A Corral was a big deal. Nope!

The start of the race was a bit chilly. I was wearing a two tech tees, and that was good enough. It was the perfect temp for running and would only get warmer. In the A corral, I positioned myself around the 3:30 group. I started off at a comfortable and conservative pace, and held that. I didn’t want to burn myself out like I did at the last marathon. I felt like I was running well. Then I remembered I was going to need calories…

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Beautiful tree lined street.
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Neat shot with buildings.

I forgot that there isn’t real food at road races. (Bananas don’t count.) I had 4 gels and a pack of chews with me, but would definitely need more calories. What I meant to do was to pick up gels people accidentally dropped. You seem them all the time at the start of a race. That didn’t work out so well since by the time I saw them, I’d already run past them. So I ate the bananas. I had about 3 of them during the race. Normally, I like bananas, but they don’t really do it for me during a race. By my third gel, I wanted to  puke, it was like eating sugar. Luckily, there were a few spectators with bowls of snacks like pretzels and gummi bears. There was an aid station handing out gels late in the race, mile 21 or 22? I took one, and was counting on the calories, but I just couldn’t bring myself to force down another packet of sugary goo. And for that, I would pay the last few miles. It was painful to see so many people looking strong and running past me. It was Chicago all over again.

I had hoped for maybe a 3:30, but came in much later at 3:50. I felt lightheaded after I finished and desperately wanted to eat something… I would even have eaten another banana at that point. It seemed like another mile before I was finally able to get some food, sit down, and eat.

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Tired and light headed, it’s hard to see the screen in bright light. That’s why the medal is backwards.
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Eggs, sausage, biscuit and gravy, crackers, and most importantly, chocolate milk.

So what did I learn from this Marathon? (This is me talking to myself.)

Dude, you gotta train right for this! Make your training specific to the race. In order to run fast, you have to run fast!

Give the Marathon its proper respect. Yes, you can do the distance, but this is about doing it fast and without, which is waaaaay harder!

You gotta figure out how to take in calories at a road race.

Running a 26.2 road race can be just as challenging as a trail 50M. They are both hard but in different ways. All the effort you put towards running a fast marathon will also pay off at your next trail race. So who’s up for some intervals?

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5 Months Later….

I can’t think of a good title right now.

I know some people suggest making the title after you do the writing. But I feel like the title is the easy part: I come up with something catchy and it gets the ball rolling. The title drives the writing.

Well, how’s this: It’s been 5 months since I’ve written, and there’s a ton of great stuff I didn’t write about. And that bugs me to no end. Why blog if you aren’t going to blog the good stuff?  But recent events have breathed new life into my belly fire. This will be a short post, I’m just going to breeze through all the stuff I didn’t write about.

photo IMG_441173180IMG_3494

I finally sold a painting a few paintings. Two for under $200, but the big one  (top) netted me $1800, my biggest sale ever.

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The Rockhoppers had their first official beer mile. I love to drink but I was not going to participate until the last minute I caved. It was tough since I had a tallboy right before the race. I was still working on my first beer when the fast guys came in from their first lap. Beer miles sound like a good idea when you’re talking about it, but actually doing it is way hard. For me anyway. Those other guys were professional.

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My mom, my sister, and I drove to Florida to visit my other sister and her husband. Not a lot of sightseeing, but I got in a few runs with one 20 miler in some terrible heat. However, they were all on paved roads. :(

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I started doing Bikram yoga. A friend took me to check it out and WOW! Did I feel great afterwards. For me, it is actually a very tough workout. It has really helped my running. I look forward to getting back into it.

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Me and one of the other Rockhoppers put on a photo show. We busted our ass building these frames which were way overkill (too heavy). But things turned out well enough. We sold a few pieces. Though I’m surprised we didn’t sell more considering our prices were pretty reasonable. (Or so we thought.) Regardless, we didn’t expect sales, and it was still fun. We also had a photo booth of sorts set up in the hosts’ bedroom. That was really fun, although I still have not seen the pictures…

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I went and read a story at my friend’s grade school. I still can’t recall what grade they are, but they were the sweetest bunch of kids. After that, I went with them on a field trip to the Witte Museum. I’ll be visiting them again shortly to bring them some presents.

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Perhaps one of the biggest deals: I ran my first 100 Miler, the Cactus Rose. I ended up running about 85 miles with Don, another Rockhopper with whom I trained with. It was unplanned that we would run together, and very lucky for both of us as neither of us had a pacer. We tied for 6th place. (We ran it in together.) We were hoping to get in under 24 hours, but that wasn’t in the cards. Still very pleased with the effort. My right knee was f*cked for the next few days.

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I celebrated an early birthday. They threw a surprise party because I was going to be in Thailand for my actual birthday.

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I went to Thailand with my mom again. We stayed and visited family for 7 weeks. It was really awesome. Really awesome. I met a ton more people, and did some fun cultural stuff.  That will be a few posts coming up.

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I made some spray paint stencils while I was there. I am planning on using spray as my medium for awhile as it can do some beautiful things.

photo (1)

I joined Facebook? What? Wait, that is another post unto itself.

 

 

Price List

Hello Rockhoppers,

This is weird, but welcome to my blog. I couldn’t figure how to fit all the images in a single email (or document), so I decided to put it here.

I wanted to thank everyone for their kinds words about my work. And thanks to Stefan for allowing me to hang my stuff up in his home, and extra thanks to Elizabeth for coming up with the idea. It was great to show people my work instead of it just sitting in a pile.
I build, stretch, and frame all my canvases. Acrylic on canvas unless noted. Sizes rounded to nearest inch.

its problems

de -its problems                              about 14 x 14                                         $ 180
*wooden panel

An attempt to replicate the line quality of predigital television when viewed up close. It was difficult and not as successful as I would have liked.
OUTPUT

OUTPUT                                              25 x 25                                                     $ 190

Based on a child’s scribbles in a coloring book. Choosing a non-human subject as a change of pace.

lie down down you

lie down down; you                          21 x 27                         $ 425  / $ 750 pair

Do you remember?

Do you remember?                         21 x 30                            $ 425  / $ 750 pair

Weaver series
Old photographs offer a peek into the past and show how life was lived in simpler times. As such, they make for great source material.

At a Goodwill store where they sell things by the pound, I found a huge cache of photos of a single family spanning the early 40’s to late 90’s.

Whether there are no more relatives to inherit the photographs, or no one wants them, I find it sad that a whole lifetime of memories would be thrown away. So I “adopted” the family.

Over the images of the Weavers, I added text based on the heritage of my actual parents: the neon yellow text in Do you remember? is Thai, and the white text in lie down down; you is Portuguese. While not that “deep,” this is a turning point of sorts. These are not just graphic images,  these pieces have some personal meaning.

 

DSC_0562, 30 x30

 

DSC_0627                                           30 x 30                                                       $ 285
*wooden panel on silkscreen frame

Five kids from my Mom’s village in Thailand. The girl in front is a relative. This was a foray back into colors after doing so many monochromes. It was also an attempt to use a new medium of paint – acrylic semi transparent stains that are intended for decks/ porches etc. On canvas, they function like a glaze. Working with 4 stains and a few other regular paint colors, I was able to achieve some nice color effects.

 

Juk 2

Juk II                                      23 x 32                                      $ 300
framed with scavenged wood

A more finished piece using the same semi transparent stains and limited paint colors. Same kid from DSC_0627 (far right).

 

Final Coat, 45 x 61

Final Coat                                                45 x 61                                                $ 1800
frame is heavy

Based on an image taken from a 50’s DIY book. Second time I painted this image, but this time larger and with slavish attention. Attempt to create a full range of value using only one color (and white). Sort of a gimmicky touch, but the surface of the table that she has painted has a opalescent glaze that makes it stand out when seen in person.

 

Eve Drone

Data Entry Girl                22 x 35                 $ 300

Instead of trying to create the illusion of depth, an attempt to simplify and flatten the form using a limited palette of muted colors. In terms of subject, style, and color harmony, a successful piece.

Catherine

Catherine                             25 x 37                                 $ 425

Based on a photo I took, one of the few paintings with a person I actually know. Tried to capture the essence of the blueish purplish color of the hoodie. Couldn’t devote the same energy to the trees, left them terrible.

 

Some Shit

bitchin’                                       23 x 23                                               $ 175

Based on vintage year book photos using colors that mimic the look 3-D images.

Two parties expressed interest in this piece. Parties can arm wrestle for it, I can auction it, or duplicate the painting and sell it for the same price. I am open to suggestions.

 

Lazy Dog

THE LAZY DOG                                         32 x 32                                           $ 300
*wooden panel, framed with scavenged wood

Based on a vintage yearbook photo, chosen for the ridiculous hairstyle. Monochromatic with a focus on using value to create depth.

 

David Robinson

David Robinson                                 25 x 25                             $ 325/ pair $ 600

Ronald Robison

Ronald Robison                                 25 x 25                            $ 325/ pair $ 600

(AKA Stud and Dud)

Based on yet more vintage yearbook photos. This reminded me of my friend and myself; we were alphabetic neighbors in school and as a result, became friends. He was the “stud” and I the “dud.” I wondered if the these two had become friends as well.
“Stud and Dud” references an episode of the Simpsons, which my friend and I were huge fans of.

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College                                                     23 x 31                                                 $ 200
*wooden panel, framed with scavenged wood

One of the 50’s DIY series. Monochromatic with an attempt to create as little value as possible.

 

Untitled
Chairfixer                                                  24 x 29                                                 $ 325
framed with scavenged wood

One of the 50’s DIY series. The execution of the figure was less labored than usual, and looks more fluid as a result.
Text obscures figure to the appropriate degree.

 

IMG_3282

uggest                                            about 23 x 32                                                $ 285

Based on vintage image from a knitting catalog.

 

TROUBLE OR MALFUNCTION

TROUBLE OR MALFUNCTION                        50 x 26                             $ 600

Originally intended to be just a landscape, perceived problems with accuracy lead to overlaying other imagery. Background image is a based on a photo I took in Portland.

 

under the circumstances / Diptych

under the circumstances                                  74 x 25                               $ 1500
diptych joined by piano hinge

Ultramarathon of figure painting, based on an image culled from the internet. Limited palette of five or six colors.

A few other pieces that were not shown.

Juk 1, 24 x 14
Juk I                    14 x 24            $ 100
A “throwaway” piece done between more “serious” works.

 

70's Family

That 70’s Family                              24 x 37                             $ 200

Based on a found photograph. Love the hair!

 

success with roses
Tamara                                                21 x 34                                                    $  250
framed with scrap wood

Based on a photograph I took of an old friend.

 

du pain

Du Pain                                                   44 x 25                                               $ 280

Avoiding realistic figures, based on kids drawing. Trying to loosen up and do something different.

 

Final Spin

Final Spin                                            50 x 26                                                     $  450

Part of the Weaver series. Based on a photo when Pat Sajak and Vanna White visited the old folks home Mrs Weaver was staying at.

 

Art Four

ART FOUR                                            26 x 32                                                $ 200
Unique frame style, it’s octagonal

Collage style with main image based on photo of a friend.

*   *   *   *   *

Whew! That’s it. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for checking out my work again. If you are interested in a piece or have questions, please email me at shutupbecky@gmail.com.  I’m flexible and we can work something out. I’d love to get more of my work out into the world.

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