Tag Archives: difficulties

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.

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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.

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

 

 

Things Change…

Depending on where you live, you might notice the trees turning colors. The trees around here are definitely changing. Not anything super spectacular, but low key Texas style. Maybe that’s what is inspiring me to make a change. Or maybe it’s just because I’m tired of hearing that question, “Do you have a website?”

You may or may not know that I am an artist- I make paintings. I’ve been half-assing it for a long time. I’ve also been unemployed for a while now and it’s really getting me down. But I don’t want to work a stupid job – I want to do something I actually enjoy doing. However, finding a job where I just paint and build stuff all day is probably not going to happen. At least not easily, and not without some blood, sweat, and many many beers.

So where am I going with this? Well, I am going to try and full-ass it as an artist. I want to put my work out there, and that requires a website. And while it would be great if I could make money talking about my running, I know that if I focus on presenting my art, I can sell it. So I am going to be shifting the focus of this blog. It’s not going to be just about running, rather it’s going to be about…. uh… stuff? Yeah, that’s pretty vague, I haven’t quite figured it all out yet, but I will.

However, I have decided to ditch the Shortcuthills moniker and promote myself as Shutupbecky. I love the name- it’s loads snappier and makes people get weird, or laugh or both. I have had the name as an email since 2000, so I feel like the name is a part of me. It’s my alter ego, pen name, stage name, code name, however you want to call it. So yeah, Shutupbecky!

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I’ll leave you with a few pieces I did last week.

A quickish "sketch: painting
A quickish “sketch: painting. (The stuff on the sides isn’t part of it.)
Kids in my Mom's hometown village in Thailand.
Kids in my Mom’s hometown village in Thailand.
Juk. Same kid, same image as the first painting.
Juk. Same kid, same image as the first painting.

I need to start taking better photos-  which is to say NOT USE A PHONE…

Lighthouse 20M Results Bad and Good

Perhaps it’s time to schedule an eye exam.

Two ten-mile loops. Easy peasy, right? Actually, it was super easy.

While it had rained the night before and the threat of mud was high, there was very little mud to speak of. The most mud we encountered was on the walk to the start. The course had a few tiny hills, but it was mostly flat and super runnable. Had I known how fast the course was, I definitely would have signed up for the 50K.

One of the worst parts of the day was when the 50K’ers took off. There was a huge crowd of people, then BANG! They take off and there’s like four other people left. It totally felt like the party just left me behind. And I would have to wait a whole freaking hour for my start.

More people eventually showed up and it seemed like we had our own little party ready to roll. The gun went off and the fun began. I wasn’t really trying, but I got ahead of the crowd pretty quick. However there were two guys ahead of me that were hauling. I tried to keep them in my sights. But the gap widened at mile 2.5 when I had to stop to take a sh*t. After that, I never saw the dudes again.

I cruised along, feeling good and strong. Even though I forgot my handheld in the car, it wasn’t a big deal since there were 4 aid stations per loop. I was totally fine without it and actually glad that I wasn’t carrying water.

For a several miles, it was like I was the only runner. The two dudes in front were just gone, and there didn’t seem to be anyone behind me. Finally, at about mile 5, a guy catches up to me. I  slowed down because I was confused. The fence line I was following ran perpendicular right into another fence. I was like, “What the?!” But then I saw there was an ever so slight trail following this new fence line. And then a hundred feet later, the trail disappears behind some trees. Again I was unsure if I was still on trail. I expressed my doubts to the other guy, he seemed unconcerned. Eventually we saw a big sign with a big arrow, which was perfect.

Trail anxieties relieved, I started talking with the guy. Mike from Boston, just moved to Austin, doing the 10 Miler. It was nice talking to someone after running alone for what seemed like forever. Mike probably felt the same way. We ran for several miles, talking about -what else-  running. About mile 8, he said he was taking off for the finish. I was sad to see him go because it was nice having company, and even nicer having another pair of eyes finding the trail.

When I got back to the start, I saw Mike. I asked how far out the two guys were. Turns out, one was a 10 miler, so there was only one guy ahead of me, although I had no idea how far ahead. But with 10 miles, there was still a chance. Mike had finished second in his race.

The second loop went by quickly. I started passing the slower 50K’ers. I was hustling along. One thing that struck me: I don’t push myself hard enough. Or more accurately, I’m not sure what I am actually capable of. I filed that away for a later training date. I’m nearing the finish and still feel like I have plenty of gas in the tank. Although I’m worried because I seemed to have missed that one section with the fence line business… Or did I just not pay attention?

My Garmin has my finish at 2:30:32. And only 19.52 miles. Oh $%^#!! I did miss part of the course. I tell the three people working the race. They seemed unconcerned and/or unsure what to do. I look at the tiny map on my Garmin and I can plainly see, yep, I missed that right turn. (Later, on Map My Run, I saw that I fudged up not once, but twice, and unintentionally cut off a half mile. A HALF MILE.) I told the lady who handling passing out the medals that I should be disqualified. While it would have been nice to place, it was a 20 mile race, not 19.52.

The more unsettling thing of all this was not having my name listed on the web page official results. No DQ, or even an asterisk. Nope, I was not part of that race. Oh well.

The next two days I redirected that bummer energy onto canvas. Finished two paintings in two days. Maybe I’ll sign up for a 5K and get lost…

bitchin'
bitchin’
THE QUICK BROWN
THE QUICK BROWN

Procrastinate Later, Write NOW!

I’m sure I’m not alone in my constant procrastination, and it’s time to do something about it.

Blogging has been on the backburner for too long. Good things are happening, and it’s time to share. I’m not going to worry some much about “crafting” my writing (since I’m not a writer), I’m just going to write. The biggest news for me: Running is fun again!

My Achilles seems to be pretty good for the most part. There are occasionally still times when it hurts, but the intensity and duration are lessened. I’m on 5 days a week, mostly following a Hal Higdon marathon schedule. Last week I ran with the R-U-N group for the first time in a million years and that was a blast. There’s a guy David who is pretty fast and I tried to keep up with him, and that was a great chase. The group is meeting again tonight and I have just enough time to write something…

An observation for you: I’m running the same greenway 5 days a week, at about the same time each day. Without fail, I see the same little old man walking the path. He seems very happy, and probably he waves or smiles at everyone. Whenever I passed him, I’d wave at him and he’d wave back. We don’t know each other, and I’ve never stopped and talked to the guy. But I’ve seen him so many times, I sort of feel like I know him. And now it’s gotten to the point where I can’t stop smiling when I see this old guy out there, in the heat, walking and smiling at everyone.

I’m tempted to stop and ask his name, just so I can say “Hi Fred! (or whatever his name is) when I see him. But I’m not skilled in the art of introduction, so I may just let that go. It may be enough to enjoy things as they are, and not want more.

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I just completed the fourth week of the 100 push up program! I’m elated, but not looking forward to week 5 and 6. This week was tough and I’m thinking about repeating the week. I will make 100 pushups. Perhaps this weekend I’ll see how many I can do in a single go.

That’s my entry to get myself back on track. An injury sucked all the gun out of running, but now, things are starting to look up. There’s plenty more good news I’d like to share.

Next up: Juicing!

Book Review – Run Like a Girl by Mina Samuels

Run Like a Girl Book

By the sound of it, I’m probably not part of the target audience. However, my library doesn’t have many books on or about running on the shelves, so when I came across it…. I figured “Why not? Just because the book’s target audience is women doesn’t mean I can’t learn something from it.” So I checked it out.

It was… okay. Not great, but not terrible. A quick, easy read with some really good bits.

This is minor quibble, but I was instantly annoyed by the frequency of the block quotes featuring the runner girl silhouette. The block quotes appear on at least every other page, sometimes more. It felt like an attempt to pad the book and/or a poor substitute for pictures. (Most of the books I’ve read on running feature at least a handful of photos; the only photo in this book was of the author sporting an uneasy smile. What they should have done was put the runner girl on the top/bottom of every page, and turned her into a flip book action heroine. That would have been cool. Heck, that’s my idea. Hands off.)

The overall theme of women’s’ struggle and empowerment was lost on me, since I’m a dude. But the main thing was I didn’t care for Samuels’ writing style. It was a loosely structured, semi-conversational train of thought with examples randomly sprinkled throughout.  But there were a few nuggets of wisdom to be found that inspired me.

The first nugget was when Samuels talked about how one identifies oneself can become a problem:

“When we are attached to our identity, we begin to measure ourselves in the same way…. be careful, too, not to set that identity in stone or we risk becoming confined to a narrow prison instead  of feeling free to define ourselves with new richness of every day.”

This provided me much-needed validation for my transition of identifying as an artist to identifying as a runner. No longer am I an artist (who happens to run) struggling to produce work. Now I am an active runner (who happens to paint) training for an event. I don’t worry about producing new work or getting a show, I run and sign up for races. I don’t sit alone in the garage slaving away on my “masterpiece,” I join a bunch of other runners and grind out some miles. Since I’ve made this mental shift, I feel much happier.

The second nugget asked: “What could I be capable of, if I tried?”

We all should ask ourselves this question regularly, or at least every once in a while. It makes you reassess your abilities and rethink what is possible. Imagining new possibilities means leaving your comfort zone and confronting one of the greatest sources of fear – the unknown. Because trying or doing unfamiliar things can be scary, it’s too easy to get stuck in the familiar.

It’s like running trails. Running the same route makes you feel comfortable because you know exactly where you are. Which is not a bad thing, but it’s good to mix things up. Take a new path and see where that goes. You might get lost, but that’s okay. Next time, you’ll have that experience to help guide you so that you don’t get lost again.

The third nugget was a quote from the poet Rumi: “If all you can do is crawl, start crawling.”

It’s such a powerful, direct thought. I’ve never heard of the poet Rumi, but now feel somewhat obligated to do some research. I doubt the poet was talking about running, but the quote seems especially relevant to both beginning runners and ultra runners.

For the beginning runner, it’s intimidating to get started running. You have fears about  how difficult it’s going to be, you think that you can’t do it , you think people will judge you or make fun of you. The best thing to do is to try to put those fears aside and take the first step and start. If all you can do is walk down the street, well, start walking. The thing is to take action, however seemingly small and insignificant, and keep moving toward your goal.

The challenge for ultra runners is usually not starting, but finishing. Undoubtedly, there will be rough patches where your legs are so tired you feel they can no longer carry you, you want to stop and call it quits, and you question why you are doing this in the first place. That’s when you have to dig deep and tell yourself, over and over, “I will fucking crawl to the finish line if I have to.” The thing is to keep moving, keep your momentum, however slow it might be. Do whatever you have to do, but do not give up.

Who am I? What am I capable of? And (essentially) Never Give Up. Those are three awesomely inspiring ideas for both women and men. And definitely a good payoff for a guy reading a book written for girls.