Tag Archives: postcards

The Good News Part III

FINDING BUDDHA, GETTING LOST

The Buddha I "discovered"
The Buddha I “discovered”

One day I really went exploring. I went down a road I noticed running home from the zoo. Ten minutes into the run, I stumbled upon this Buddha statue. I took some photos (with my iPod, which is why the pictures all these picture are so crummy) and as I made my way onward, I realized this was the backside of a temple my cousin had taken me to. I’d just never seen the Buddha statue.

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DSC_0067 DSC_0059Now I had a vague idea of where I was. I made my way around a small pond and lo and behold it’s the same pond we’ve been getting water for the farm from! Now I had a much better idea where I was, but that would change soon enough.

I found some really awesome trails made not by runners, but people walking and riding motorbikes. (They ride those things EVERYWHERE.) The trail just seemed to keep going, and even better, it was uphill. Wherever the trail split off, I tried my damnedest to remember where I’d went. I encountered a few people foraging for food, and one guy with a really long, skinny rifle. I think he was hunting birds.

After following the trails for at least an hour, my water supply told me it would be wise to head back home. Attempting to make my way back out, I got myself all turned around and lost. I tried to conjure up some hunter tracking skills looking for my footprints, but couldn’t conjure any results.

I remembered the find-your-way-back GPS function on my Garmin. I had no idea how to use it, but I sort of figured it out. However, I think it just tells you how to backtrack, without regard for where you are in relation to the start/finish, and there was no way I was going to re-run the entire distance. So it may have been more dumb luck than anything, but I did somehow get un-lost.

I was pretty stoked about discovering these trails, and even more stoked about finding my way back home. When I unpacked my Camelback, I saw it was one pull away from completely empty.

THE LONGEST RUN AND GETTING LOST AGAIN

My longest run was 12.3 miles, but it was an awesome 12.3.

I started down another road I’d passed by several times. Going down the dirt road, it came to a T. I went left and saw a trail leading into the woods. After a few minutes, I came upon a pond I’d never seen before. I sat down on the bank. There were some other people there: two kids playing in the water and some guys hanging out on their motorbikes, smoking- which would seem to be the national past time for Thai men.

I sat and relaxed for a spell, watching the kids have fun splashing around in the water. I would love to come back and take a dip here. I’m sure the neighborhood kids would too. I knew I was relatively close to the house, so I was surprised no one had ever taken me here or even told me about it. Are ponds are boring?

Not wanting to get too relaxed, I took off looking for the road the smoking motorbike guys rode in on. Once I found it, I followed it. It ran along side the boundary fence of the zoo. Then into more farming territory. I passed a small hut which appeared to be abandoned.

Up the road, a dog barked and started toward me. Luckily it’s owner, a guy I recognized from the neighborhood, appeared and called the dog off. I thanked him and continued on. I came to a point where I wasn’t sure where to run. I noticed some footprints in the sand [my delayed hunter tracker skills!] and decided to follow them. They took me by a tree farm and then I took a short exploratory detour into the trees. My anal retentive nature loved the orderliness of the trees in rows and had to document it. It’s nowhere near as cool as the real thing.

Again following the footprints, the farmland gave way to a road which offered a small dose of relief. I thought I knew the road, but decided I didn’t. I could flag someone down and ask for directions or a ride if I needed to. Unsure which way to go, I spotted a temple in the distance and decided to go check it out. I saw a truck in the distance heading toward me; I thought it was my Uncle. I kept running, waiting for the truck to pass me, expecting to hear a honk any moment.

The truck passed, it wasn’t my Uncle.

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I wasn’t in the mood, so I didn’t enter the temple, as I figured taking a few photos was enough excitement. I’ve come to realize these small temples are pretty common, so no big deal. I continued on, and heard prayer chanting coming from… somewhere. I stopped and listened, trying to determine the source. I thought it might be a function related to the temple.

It would be cool to witness whatever ritual was going on. I headed down the street and entered a residential area. I heard the prayer chant growing louder and louder and then I found it – coming from a loudspeaker. It was a recording.

Slightly amused, I continued through the neighborhood. The garbage was being collected. They still did it the old fashioned way, the poor saps have to pick up each bin by hand. Those guys must be pretty strong. That has got to be a hell of a workout. Hmmm….

Along the way, I did a little garbage collecting of my own. I make collaged postcards using “trash”or “litter,” however you call it. I told my running group that I would send one to whoever wanted one. ( I made about 10 for the group. ) As I ran through the neighborhood, I found some interesting wrappers and assorted trash. I stuffed them into my Camelback. With limited space, I had to be choosy about what trash to pickup. (How ridiculous does that sound?!)

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I ran by some people in the neighborhood, and they all gave me that WTF look. I passed one guy and he just smiled. Then there were two seriously pissed off dogs. I turned around and started walking the other way. The guy I’d just passed had also turned around and was walking back toward me; they were his dogs. I guess he knew the dogs wouldn’t like me.

I tried my best to ask him how to get to Moo 9 (our neighborhood). He hollered at some lady laying in a hammock, I assume he was asking her where Moo 9 was. She said something and then he said something to me. I didn’t understand either of them but then he pointed. The pointing was enough for me. That and corraling his dogs. Off I went, with only the vaguest notion of where I was going.

I turned the corner and saw train tracks. The tracks were a welcome sight because they would lead me to the train station, which is very close to the house… If I just knew which direction the train station was. I had a 50/50 chance of guessing right. I immediately gave up on the tracks and just ran. I ran under a small bridge and was back in a another residential area.

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Khao Suan Kwang sign

Things were seeming pretty hopeless, until I came to this sign. I’d never been so happy to see a road sign. I still didn’t know where I was, but this was concrete proof I was headed in the right direction. I kept running and eventually figured out where I was. I was flooded with relief once I knew exactly where I was. And i was absolutely thrilled about getting lost, and finding my way.

Tired, sweaty, and hungry, I stopped by one of the roadside restaurants near the house. I had eaten there yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed the meal. I told the lady that I would be back for more. She was happy to see me, and quite amused by my running get-up, and the fact that I had just been running. I mean, who does that? I know that’s what she was thinking.

The food was, whether by virtue of hunger or otherwise, absolutely marvelous. Soup never tasted so good. I almost ordered a second bowl, but didn’t have enough cash on me. I walked the rest of the way home, content with another awesome run.

It’s Go Time!

Last month I read The Longest Race by Ed Ayres.

The Longest Race, kind of a boring book
The Longest Race, kind of a boring book

It sounded like an interesting read. It’s about Ayres’ running the JFK 50 miler. He runs the race, and as he talks about how the race is progressing, he segues into related ideas and thoughts from other aspects of his life. About stuff. And then he comes back to the running.

I felt like more of the book was his thoughts on the human condition than the actual running of the race, and that kind of bugged me. Or bored me, rather. It was mildly interesting, but definitely not a page turner. But there were two things that I found noteworthy.

The first was about the virtue of letting the land go fallow which was somehow related to some aspect of running. (Or at least I think that’s what I remember. I can’t find the quote. It might not even be from that book. But I’m pretty sure.) Regardless of the details, when I read that, I realized that if you’re struggling to keep up with something, if possible, just drop it for awhile. Put it on the back burner, let things stew and percolate. I did that with my art and when I resumed making art, it was actually fun to paint again. If running is becoming a chore for you, take a week off.

This blog is another example. I started all hot and heavy at the beginning, and then ran out of steam. I started out at a ridiculous pace I couldn’t sustain. Classic rookie mistake! But after this post, the blog will be allowed to go fallow, because I’m going to Thailand for two months and I won’t have internet. I’ll be able to think about where I want to go with this and how to get there. I want to keep up with this blog as well as I keep up with my running.

While I’m in Thailand, I plan to continue running, God willing. I’ll have to be up at the crack of dawn to avoid the scorching sun, but that’s just how it is. I also plan to do the 100 Push Ups Program, http://www.hundredpushups.com/index.html, and possibly the squat or situp program. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, but for sure, I should be able to handle running and pushups.I had better do some running since 90% of what I’m bringing with me is running stuff! Check it out.

This is everything I'm bringing with me.
This is everything I’m bringing with me.

This is everything I am bringing with me, most of which is running stuff.

  • 2 short sleeve shirt, 2 tank tops
  • 1 swim trunks
  • 3 pair shorts
  • sandals
  • Cascadias
  • 2 running tank tops
  • 3 pairs running shorts
  • 4 pairs running socks
  • old Minimus – Close to being retired.
  • belt – To be worn on the plane.
  • prescription glasses, running sunglasses, fashion sunglasses
  • 1 box contacts – 45 day supply. Wear glasses on non-running days.
  • toiletries
  • 3 running magazines
  • Thai Made Easy book / Charlie Brown book (gift)
  • jeans and boxers – To be worn on the plane.
  • hat and headlamp
  • Garmin – To be worn on the plane. / charger
  • iPod shuffle / headphones
  • The Stick
  • Camelback
  • passport / cash / credit cards
  • flashlight – Probably don’t need this.
  • iPod touch – For use as a camera on runs.
  • 2 16-Gig data sticks -To back up photos.
  • shirt and hoodie – To be worn on the plane.
  • camera bag / camera / extra lens
  • laptop / drawing pens / pencils

That sure seems like a lot! But I managed to fit almost everything in my backpack. I couldn’t fit the Thai Made Easy book, so I’ll have to hand carry that. Which isn’t too big of a deal.

This is everything smallified.
This is everything smallified.

The other thing I gleaned from Ayres’ book:

“Reaching the highest possible performance as a runner is a year-long, even lifetime, venture. By the time you get to the starting line, 95 percent of what you’ll accomplish in the race has already been done.”

That’s a great realization. All the time and preparation before the race may well determine how well your race goes. You put in your miles and then all you have to do is run your race. I can attest to this after putting in three solid months of training for Bandera (my first 50K). I was super tired afterwards, but I felt I ran a good race. And it explains why I was so nervous about doing Nueces (my first 50 miler) on only 5 weeks of training. I was super-duper tired and thought I was going to die afterwards, and I felt I could have run a better race, if I’d had more time to prepare.

Ayres’ quote really makes me think about is how important weekly training is. Every mile you run is money in the bank, so to speak. And it adds up. The Chicago marathon is six months away. I want to run a 3:10. For the next two months I can put miles in the bank toward that goal, or I can slack off, waste an opportunity, and have to play catch-up when I return.

Do you have an upcoming race that you need to prepare for? Are you putting in the miles or putting off the miles? Do you wanna pay now or pay later? What’s it going to be?

See you in two months!!

Postcards? Postcards!

Jennie in Chicago
This is probably going to Jennie in Chicago

You might be wondering what postcards have to do with running. It would seem not much. But some of the lessons I’ve learned from running are going to help me get my art back on track.

In my other life, I was a struggling artist. Ever since I graduated, I’d been attempting to make art on my own. I wasn’t part of any art community, and had no peers with whom to commiserate. I was creating in a vaccuum, and for me, that proved difficult. I was a decent painter, but I was always waiting to feel “inspired,” and thus my creative output was really low.

Similarly, it  can be hard to run on your own. Just finding the motivation to run is a constant challenge. But as part of a community of runners, it’s way easier to get motivated because of the support and energy you draw from your peers. Running with others also helps you push yourself harder than if you run alone.

Going to Nick in Hawaii
Going to Nick in Hawaii

I now realize waiting for “inspiration” to create art is, for the most part, utter nonsense. The “secret” to making art is to consistently make it, whether you feel like it or not. Not everything is going to be a masterpiece, but if you keep making stuff – and lots of it – you’re bound to turn out a few winners.

The same holds true for running. You can’t wait till you “feel like” running, you just have to go and run, whether you feel like it or not. And do it consistently. Many times that feeling of wanting to run only happens after you’ve started running. Once you warm up and get the kinks out, and then you realize, “Hey, this isn’t so bad.” And if you run often enough, there are bound to be some memorable runs.

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So… what about the postcards?

They aren’t paintings, but the process of making them is similar to how I make my paintings. They’re like a quick and dirty maintenance run. I’ve also thought maybe I should try to bring Running into my art, hence the running themed postcard. Making postcards will allow me to  ease back into painting. If you want to help motivate me, give me your mailing address and I’ll snail mail you your very own postcard!

And here’s another way I’m going to do it: set a realistic achievable 5k art goal. I started a small canvas the other day, and I am going to finish that puppy by the end of the month. That gives me exactly one week to put some paint on canvas. (Actually it’s on board, but whatever.) And since next week is a taper, I don’t have much of an excuse.

It’s crazy, after writing about art and thinking about art, I’m feeling inspired to make some art!