Heavy

It has been a heavy couple of days. Yesterday morning we found out that one of our regular social run folks committed suicide and was found near an abandoned nursing home in a drainage ditch. He was 25. I’m honestly surprised that we haven’t had something like this in our running community already, it is a large group and statistics would suggest that we’d have lost members of our community to other things (cancer is a big one right now) and I’m heartened to see our community respond to this loss in the way that I hoped they would; by reaching out to each other and sharing memories of Zach. It is strange but I can even remember his running gait even though we never ran near each other during a social run.

I know that it isn’t something I can fully understand because self-harm and suicide aren’t part of my own tendencies towards depression but I think that creating the space for a conversation about community support is important. My dear friend Courtney shared and article that speaks to this, in a way, because it talked about people living with suicidal ideation as a part of their daily lives. Again, I can’t really imagine living with that on a daily basis, or really at all, but it poses important questions about what our responsibilities as a community are towards people in that situation. I had two friends reach out to me last night to share their own grief about this and I know that this is what we can do.

Grind

It can’t all be great but I’ll try to make the best of it. When my retiring principal asked me to be department chair last year as they were leaving, I thought that I would love being able to help build up my team and be an advocate for their needs. It quickly became apparent that the outgoing head hadn’t been informed of the change and would do everything short of telling me to go fuck myself to make it a difficult year.

This isn’t about them but about how things have gone. For the most part, good. Other than having my department planning period forced into the 15 minutes between my lunch and lunch duty and fits and spurts of passive aggressive behavior from the other side of the building. Every year, around this time, we are all trying to make sure that we have what we need in place to be more successful than the year before. When programs get to a certain size, adding staff makes sense because it serves the students more equitably than a teacher with an overcrowded class and one adult.

Using technology, I’ve found a way to handle a larger group of students working on a couple of unrelated projects that break them up into smaller groups and are pretty student paced, other than deadlines. Some classes this isn’t possible and having more staff makes all the difference in the world. It is so frustrating to have that kind of situation and not be able to just fix it.

Just keep swimming, I guess.

A fool, at leaSt, knows when to say when

Last week was pretty fucking rough on the running front. I had some really obnoxious tendinitis that flared up in my feet after a long road run on Sunday and spent most of the week working out in the garage rather than running. I did one speed workout while Sophie was at swimming and the rest was on my bike and kettlebells. After some poking around, literally and figuratively, it looks like some peroneal tendinitis that radiated from my shin down to the lateral side of my left foot and required some deep trigger point and scraping to get things sorted.

Last week at work was an uphill slog through some departmental stuff that has been festering while I’ve been trapped in lunch duty every day during my department planning period. Hopefully things will be dealt with in a sensitive and timely manner since there are some egos involved and territorial disputes.

We planned on camping last weekend but the gorgeous weather turned nasty Friday afternoon and we realized that camping in near freezing temperatures with rain and strong winds wasn’t something we wanted to put ourselves, the kids and the dogs through. Instead, we worked on the bathroom remodel. Not quite camping but if needed to be done.

Grasslands

Last Saturday, I spent the day out at the LBJ Grasslands north of Decatur timing the 50M, Marathon and Half-Marathon for Chris and Anne Barnwell. We’ve spent some time helping out with each other’s races over the years and it was fun to be on the other side of the line, working instead of volunteering. They were kind enough to offer dinner on Friday and a place to sleep Friday night so that I wouldn’t have to drive the 45 min from Denton the morning of the race (leave my house at 3:15, wakeup at 3) so I was able to get a little more sleep than I would have. My plan was to sleep in my car out there but I haven’t worked out my car camping rig yet and it would have been a very cold night to be sleeping outside.

I rolled up to the start line at 4:25 am and got everything situated for the 50 mile start at 6:00 am. Kyle was there to test out a new timing line so he walked me through the more delicate procedures of editing runners during the race (DNS, DNF, time adjustments) so I was actually able to take care of a lot of the maintenance of the timing files throughout the race. We did lose power when they ran out of fuel for the natural gas powered generator, something I hadn’t seen before and is a great thing to have when you are transporting fuel in a vehicle, so he had to close out the files. It was fun to get a chance to see a bunch of familiar faces while I was running around doing timing duties and chat with some Denton local volunteers who were out at our aid station at the start/finish.

My buddy Brant was out on the hunt for his first 50 mile finish and it was great to see him in between loops and at the end when he came trucking in at 11:55 and change. We’ve spent a few years running races together and most of the time we are right on pace together. His last few blowups were also on my list of DNFs so we’ve got some work to do now that he’s stepped up to the 50 mile distance, Palo Duro we are coming for you.

Art news! I’m honored to be included in two new projects that Spiderweb Salon has coming up. The first is a publishing project with Goliad Media where I will have 2-3 pieces included in our first legit publication as a collective. The second is a partnership with the DMA beginning in September where pieces will be recorded and experienced by the audience in very private, intimate settings. I’m really excited to be involved in these projects and it has been a minute since I’ve had time in my schedule to focus on creating some new work. Look for more details soon as this will be very cool and very tangible!

We had auditions for my advanced theatre class on Friday and will have a few more on Monday that couldn’t make it due to scheduling conflicts. This is something that I pushed for for 6 years and when I finally got a mixed class, it was just filled with 34 or 35 7th and 8th grade students with little to no consideration on whether they should be in advanced theatre class or not. They were dumped in there, kids with lots of experience and kids with absolutely no experience trying to make things work in a way too big class. I dealt with it because I knew that if I freaked out about it, they would just say “this is what you asked for” and take it away for good. This year, more what I was looking for but with 4 or 5 randos who hadn’t had theatre and didn’t audition so it killed the vibe a bit. Next year, I am hoping to have the class where I want it to be and have a dedicated, hard working group to take a deeper dive into some techniques and do some higher quality work. We are moving our one-act contest to the fall this year too so our contest show will be the first out of the gate and a good way to jump start the year.

Almost forgot…Johnson Branch Trail Race is a thing! We’ve got June 8 booked out at the Johnson Branch Unit of Lake Ray Roberts and registration is open.

johnson branch trail race.jpg

Spring Break

This week the kids and I have been off of school and work for spring break while Kristi has been working from the home office for her job that does not have a spring break. Over the weekend, I did some running in beautiful weather on Saturday and shitty weather on Sunday and I came to the realization that…I don’t like running in the cold. I really need to have a better backup plan than just freezing my ass off (read fingers) but the one type of treadmill I would be interested in owning again is $5000-$6000 and there aren’t any gyms in my area that have one.

My in-laws met Kristi in Terrell on Saturday so the kids could spend a few days with their grandparents for the beginning of spring break, and so that we could have a break from being “on” constantly. We went over to Armadillo Ale and had some beverages and then proceeded to eat pizza for three nights in a row.

I’ve been playing at entertaining the kids since I picked them up on Tuesday afternoon and we’ve been getting up to some mischief. Wednesday we went to LSA downtown and followed that up with a trip to the candy store and then the park. Go SAHD week. Yesterday we mowed the lawn/picked up after the dogs, went grocery shopping and did laundry and all that fun stuff and ended the day at a workshop put on by my buddy Matty Sallack at the GDAC. He’s been making custom plushies for a couple of years from his own art and this was an opportunity for the community to come and make them too. The kids had a great time making a UFO and a No-Face plushie and getting out enjoying the community. I had the chance to make a connection with a fellow theatre teacher from a private school not far from my house and I’ll probably end up sharing resources with her since it sounds like she didn’t really have a lot to draw on.

We also made some sourdough yesterday…cue the bread porn.

After I dropped the kids off at home, I went over to wish Conor a happy birthday and hang out with the Spidercrew for a bit. I have missed being as involved as I was in that group the past few years, after crashing pretty hard from #PLEASED last summer, I think I’m finally in a headspace where that is a possibility. It is always a challenge to balance work/health/family/art and I’m going to work harder on making that happen.

This afternoon, I’m headed up for a meeting about a potential race in June and then out to the TADRA Point at the LBJ Grasslands north of Decatur. I’ve been a volunteer at this race for a number of years and while I don’t run this particular race due to the close proximity of horses to the trail, I’ve enjoyed being a part of that community. This time, I’m working the race so I’ll stay overnight tonight out at the start/finish so that I don’t have to leave my house at 3:30 in the morning to get to the site on time for setup. Brant is running his first 50 mile tomorrow and I’m happy to be out there to support him. There is something about pushing limits that is intriguing and watching people push theirs is equally interesting to me. I’ll be out pulling timing chips all day and probably subbing in at the DARC aid station at the start finish as needed. It’ll be a busy day and a nice way to end the spring break week before we head into the mad dash that is the end of the school year.

Roadies

Went down to Fort Worth early this morning for my yearly pilgrimage to where this whole mess started in 2013 with my first marathon alongside Josh Kitchens and also where I first met Brant and ran the first of many miles over the years with him. Josh and I met earlier in 2012 at a Forever and Everest show at The Abbey Underground after running at the Oak Street Social Run for a couple of months without meeting. I’d been going through a transition of sorts through friend groups and was still in the process of finding my way through. I had just run my first real race, a 5K, a few months earlier and when Josh mentioned he was training for the Dallas Marathon, it sounded good to me.

We started training but because of the 2012 Icepocalypse, Dallas was cancelled and we weren’t sure what else we could do. Josh was out of contact for most of that day and didn’t have the funds at the time to sign up for another race. His friends raised the money in a couple of hours so he could do Cowtown in a couple of months and while we weren’t nearly as well trained for Cowtown, again due to weather, we finished and I promptly cramped so badly that I had to go to medical to get rolled out before I was ready to hobble home. I did end up running Dallas in 2013 but was battling piraformis pain and didn’t really enjoy it. Cowtown yes, Dallas no.

So every year since, I’ve made my way down to Cowtown for what has become one of two road races that I run. Last year, I ran with Heather for most of the half and we did the same thing this year. We were pushing the pace a bit, kept things around 10:00/mile pretty consistently. My hip flexors and IT band were not terribly happy with the sustained effort on the road and I’ll have to do some body work this week so I’m ready for Tinajas 50K on Saturday.

Days like today remind me about how important community can be when things are looking bleak. I had a couple of really low days this week for one reason or another, I didn’t run much at all, but today’s race was enough to pull me out of the funk for long enough to appreciate what I’ve got.

Also, next year I want to go sub-2:00.00.

Onwards and Upwards!

5 hours

Saturday I had a plan. I spent the day working with my father in law on our bathroom remodel, working with the drain and building out the platform that the tub will sit on. I hadn’t planned on doing quite that much because I was getting ready to drive up to Oklahoma to pace Ben overnight at The Outlaw 100 and I needed to make sure I was rested. We got what we needed to do done and I took a nap to get set. That is when the call came.

Ben called from the trail to let me know how brutally technical the course was and that he had been fighting with a fever and chills for the previous hour or two. He’d projected 5 hour loops (20 miles per) but had opened that up to 6 hour loops. I had planned to run with him starting at mile 60 and don’t least 50K with him before heading back to get some sleep at home. This adjustment to the schedule meant that I’d join him around midnight rather than 8 or 9 o’clock.

I got my stuff together for the night, it was supposed to be cold and wet so I packed enough for ten hours of cold, challenging running. Given my Rocky experience, I was also ready for Ben to reach his limit sooner than he expected. I drove up 75 and into Oklahoma with the constant mist making the drive just taxing enough. When I got to Caddo, I stopped to get Ben the only thing he said he needed, an orange Gatorade. I’ve seen Ben take on big runs with only Gatorade between loops, I was hoping he was taking in more nutrition than that on his now 30-32 hour 100.

When I got back to the car, I checked my phone and there was the dreaded message, “I just threw up all my food on the side of my truck.” I called Ben to see what was up and it sounded like he was going to give things 15 minutes to settle down before he decided whether to head back out. I drove further up the road to Atoka and right next to the hotel we stayed in the last time we came up for the A-OK 50K a few years ago. My phone pinged and I pulled over to checmwhar was up. It was the end of Ben’s race and my first pacing gig. I turned around and made the drive back to Denton. 5 hours.

Sunday I’m headed to the Cowtown to run the half and then next week to the Tinajas 50K in Colorado Bend State Park. 4th or 5th time running Cowtown, second time running Tinajas.

Bad Diary days

Shitty week has come to a close. Things always get dicey around this time of year because the new semester is ramping up and competition is around the corner. Students who had gotten into a routine of better behavior by the end of last semester are back out of it and sometimes I feel like the only adult in the hallway between classes (I’m in my own little corner).

Fall really felt like students were less cynical than since the Trumpster Fire, the past couple of weeks have felt different. Started off the semester with a sick family and some readjusted schedules so my running schedule is off and I’ve got Rocky 100K in a couple of weeks. I’m honestly in better shape than I was for Wild Hare and have put together more long miles leading up to the race.

This morning I woke up at 5 to get ready to run some with Ryan for his 50K replacement run. Sleet and some snow, high winds and feeling off from the week meant that instead of running I stayed home. I read Altered Carbon. I did a hard kettlebell and stationary bike workout and tomorrow is a new day.

Did watch the KEXP live Pedro the Lion video while I was working out, good stuff.

Recovery

Follow up from yesterday. All day in service and the headed to DSC for some bodywork. Maggie needled, scraped and adjusted and now I’m cooling off in the Normatech recovery boots before heading home to get ready to jump back into the schedule that has me packed until Spring Break.

Today during PD we talked about the “it” that teachers have as they go through the daily practice of teaching and it made me think about my philosophy of teaching and, honestly creating. I want my students to be able to respond to the world with the tools in their creative toolbox in whatever way they think is appropriate, to know that their voice is valid and heard and valued. I have to keep thinking about that as I head back tomorrow and keep reminding my students that we are on the same team, of behavior is good then I’m just facilitating the learning process rather than “teaching.”

Kristi posing in her new design.

Kristi posing in her new design.

My wife has an apparel design company and here is her latest design. I’m not going to shill too much for her but check out her company and see if there is something that strikes your fancy!

Keen Bee Studio

Back to it

Today is the last day of Winter Break for me and I’m taking it easy because tomorrow I head back for a day of in-service. My daughter woke me up twice in the middle of the night with a stomachache and so my motivation to get up and move is pretty low. That coupled with my new sore leg! I’ve got an appointment tomorrow at DSC to get that sorted and spent some time with my favorite torture devices.

Part of every athletes life is recovery and injury prevention. My go to for IT and hamstrings are trigger point and scraping. The ball I just sit on and roll around, scraping took me a while to figure out but it also makes a difference is you are using something like Bag Balm or Rocksauce as a lubricant. After using bag balm all summer and Rocksauce at the beginning of the fall, I worked out a system of applying Rocksauce first and letting it absorb completely before using Bag Balm for scraping.

Rockball and stone scraper with Rocksauce Fire.

Rockball and stone scraper with Rocksauce Fire.

Spent a couple of hours with Courtney and then Conor and Matty shopping and birthday celebrating at Armadillo yesterday afternoon, big plans for the upcoming Spiderweb Salon show.

Today I sat down with my calendar to plan out the next couple of months of work/art/running and I always get anxious showing my wife the calendar because I pack things into 6 week chunks. January is pretty lean but February is going to be packed. Ben asked me to pace him at The Outlaw 100 in Oklahoma in February so now I’m running the Rocky 100K, pacing Ben, Cowtown Half and Tinajas 50K all in a few weeks! Gotta stay on top of everything.

Pork Shoulder

Pork Shoulder

Trying a new recipe for pork shoulder. Rather, invented a new recipe. Salt, pepper, smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, olive oil, ac vinegar and molasses. I’m roasting at 275F for probably 8-10 hrs.

Early

Update: only ran 16.3 so I had time to go home and deal with my angry IT band and right hamstring. Time to get in and see Denton Sports Chiropractic! I’ve been running on a tight hammy since October and haven’t rolled, scraped or stretched enough.

Up this morning at 5 for a run at 7:30, gonna go for 37km rather that 37 miles. I’ve got a 100km race at the end of the month that I’m preparing for and spent most of this winter break stacking longer runs. Tuesday a group of 15 set out for 20.19 miles to celebrate New Year’s Day and today will be another 20+ mile day to round things out.

Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated by reading all day and making a cake while I took care of the kids and my wife was working from home. My son convinced me to play with him on the Nintendo Switch that we bought the kids for Christmas this year. He created a profile for me, even though I never play, and had already played through most of the game before he asked for help. I also took him for a haircut and we spent most of the day hanging out.