Ups and Downs

Sunday last didn’t quite go as planned. I have a pattern at Germanfest where I go out too hard and then the sun and the heat beat me down, or wind and cold, and end up right around 1:31 something. The hills and trail run on Saturday didn’t really help any because I was burning myself out on the hills Saturday and was totally cooked on Sunday. I usually run with Anyah, or at least in proximity for some of the race, and we spent up till about mile 5 together and mile 6 in spitting distance. After mile six water stop, I knew I was cooked and just had to hold it together as much as I could until the end. I pushed hard and felt that woozy dehydrated feeling, like if I had kept at that effort level I would be in danger of a DNF so I backed off and came in at 1:36 something. Not what I wanted but I didn’t set myself up for success with Saturday.

I also didn’t put sunblock on my face and head so I got to deal with that for a couple of days while my forehead and face healed up.

After the beautiful weather on the weekend, we had four straight days of severe weather and even made it into the national news because one of our neighborhoods in Denton was hit by a tornado. We usually get a few hours in the bathroom waiting out storms while the sirens go per season and this is not an exception. What is new is that now we have two large dogs and two larger children to pack into the tiny bathroom that isn’t on a wall.

On Tuesday, I was in a recertification class for CPR and I knew the storms were blowing in. Made it home just in time to eat and get in the bathroom. Wednesday was darker and more ominous but I made it out and ran with Terry and Becca before the social run would have happened.

Saturday I headed out to Eagle Mountain Park again for some trail miles, ended up running with a much larger group than anticipated and packed in a half marathon on the trails. They were a little more wet than I’ve seen them and it will take some dry weather to move things in a positive direction. Sadly, we have more wet and stormy weather in the forecast and it doesn’t look like that will be changing soon.

Today, Sunday, I went for a 4-miler with the club and then came home to get the kids out on a bike ride to the park down the street. Kristi bought a bike as well so we all headed down. It was nice to get on the bike again after it being up on the trainer for most of the winter, I’ll probably try to work in more cross training with the bike as the weather improves. I also went up to Summit Climbing Gym with some friends and got on the bouldering wall for the first time. It was definitely something I’ll do again and as the summer gets here, will probably spend a good amount of time climbing and hopefully get the kids into it as well.

So far, just some figuring out what all the holds on the wall mean and how not to die!

Spiderweb is working on a new show and one of the things we did was take this creative types quiz that helped each of us discover where our creative focus is. It was a really beautifully built quiz and I showed up as an Adventurer for my creative type.

Art Week

This week, for the first time, I made my way down to the Austin area for the UIL OAP State meet, courtesy of our Fine Arts Director. I drove down with some of the other middle school theatre teachers to check out what all the buzz is about, what that “we made it to state” thing really means.

It was a mixed bag, to say the least. There were a couple of shows that stuck out to me, both heavily ensemble based and using very little of the unit set to accomplish engaging and innovative stage pictures that didn’t rely on any one actor to carry the show. The interesting thing that I noticed as well was that my middle school program is the same size as many of the 4A and 5A schools and there is not any reason that we can’t create work at that level if the kids are up for it. Challenge laid, I guess.

There was also work that we saw that wasn’t really mind blowing and didn’t seem to rise to the level of what the expectation was for shows that have risen above what is being created around the state for this contest. A few director concepts that didn’t quite pan out and relied too heavily on overdone ideas, some blatantly stolen from other productions and rewarded for that theft of intellectual property. Sigh. Can’t expect everyone to play fair, especially when they win with it.

The highlight of the trip was a jaunt down to the Blanton Museum of Modern Art on the UT campus. I’ve made it to two museums in the past month and the Blanton, while smaller than the DMA, was still worth the trip. Thursdays are free so we got a chance to explore without the added cost of admission. I took a bunch of pictures and even started working on my piece for the DMA project on a typewriter at the Blanton, a nice piece of synchronicity. We also had the opportunity to tour the Scottish Rite Theatre, one of the oldest west o f the Mississippi River. It was so cool to see a space that had been in continuous operation since the 19th century and still had elements that were in place at that time, 80 backdrops with forced perspective legs that were last refurbished in the 1930s, old stage elements and even Masonic ceremonial weapons.

Yesterday, I took the kids down to the Arts and Jazz festival to check things out. Our MS jazz band was playing so we stopped by to support them. Sophie thought it was too loud and Sam entertained the kid sitting next to us by pantomiming along with the music. We saw Matty at his booth and brought him an ice cream and then went over to Oak Street Drafthouse for a cold root beer (I had a regular beer of course) before heading home for the day. I had done 8 miles with some club folks earlier in the day and forgot that I hadn’t really eaten enough during the day so I got pretty tired when we got home.

Today, I’m heading up for the annual pilgrimage to Muenster for the Germanfest 15K, one of my two road races for the year. I’m looking at maybe taking down my old PR but will just have to see how things go once we get out on the course.

These Things Too

The past few weeks have been the kind of busy that I have tried to keep myself from since last fall. From early August until December last year, I was booked solid on weekends with rehearsals, races, work obligations and family obligations. I reached the end of December pretty spent and promised myself not to overbook to that extent. I cut back on pretty much anything during the week and limited my weekend responsibilities…ok, I didn’t. I’ve stayed busy since January as well. And February. And March. And now I’m here at the tail end of April, at the end of another cycle of being too busy and I’m tired.

At least now we are moving from the sudden spring into the inevitable summer heat and I couldn’t be more excited. I love running in the heat. There is something about knowing that I can feel my fingers the whole time, that I can drink and fuel appropriately to keep moving and if it gets too bad, I can always shed a layer. Sunday we went out to Eagle Mountain Park, one of the few trails with significant elevation and one that doesn’t close when it is wet, and glided through a 12 miler under perfectly blue skies, the sun crawling from sunrise to almost high noon and I am feeling hopeful.

Big things happening are the DMA project with Spiderweb, summer projects with Spiderweb and a book project with...Spiderweb. A new race is also in the works for June 8 at Johnson Branch and since TWU canceled our summer theatre camp, I won’t be pulling double duty that week.

For the DMA project, I working from a painting called Portrait of My Mother painted by Philip Evergood. In the next few weeks, I’ll create a piece that will then be recorded along with 49 other creators and programmed into old handset phones. People that come to the installation will dial up a piece that corresponds to one in the collection of the museum. I’ve always been fascinated with the way people process an artistic experience and this is such a unique way to experience art through another person and their given circumstances. Mine, with relation to my own mother, are decidedly complicated.

This week on Wednesday, I’m headed down to the State UIL-OAP contest to watch the shows that made it to state at the high school level. I’ll be gone Wednesday and Thursday, decided to take Friday off and then am timing a race in Plano on Saturday. It’ll be a long week but I’m hoping that Friday will be a good day for a long run in the country and some relaxing before I get back into the push for summer.


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.