Category Archives: life

27 Miles on FLT with Friends

I have written often about how running has really been this synergy for me that has allowed me to combine many of the things I enjoy together in new ways. I have always loved getting out into nature, but previously I did not know very many people that loved getting out into nature the same way I did. Now that I have connected with and made friends with so many runners who enjoy nature the way I do it has opened up a whole new world of experiences for me. I can now spend hours and hours outside moving through nature with friends.

Previously I decided I wanted to challenge myself to go out on the trails for a long trail run that ended up being 31 miles (For that story you can link here Finger Lakes Trail Run/Hike). I went alone, because I didn’t know anyone else who I thought would enjoy that. After spending more time getting to know other runners. I decided I wanted to go out and try it again and invited some friends for a 26-mile adventure. It went from a solo adventure to a party of three.

 

This year I was already planning to run a trail marathon and a 50k so I hadn’t really thought about planning any independent adventures. Then my friends who accompanied me on the last suggested that I should plan another long run for us. I want to make this very clear for the record. I was asked to plan a long run for us to adventure on. It was Not my idea. Somehow, I always get the “blame” for these crazy running things that people in my orbit tend to be sucked into. So, I undertook the task of developing a plan for a run.

 

We wanted to run about 26miles. No Further. I was warned. I also wanted this to be a new adventure. We are fortunate to live near the Finger Lakes Trail that traverses most of the southern area of NY. We wanted to explore a new section of the FLT since we had explored one section last time. Part of the challenge of planning this run was the distance and the way the maps are laid out. I am not great at using maps and measuring distances and orienteering etc. On the FLT website, each map section shows its total distance. We knew where we wanted to end so we only had to plot the distance back to where we would start. The problem arose from the fact that the end point was just off of one map section and in the beginning of another map section and not right along the trail. So I had to estimate the distance we would travel on that new map section. Then subtract that from the beginning. If we had been able to stay only on one map section, we would have been able to know exactly how much we would run. Therefore, I subtracted the amount I thought we would run over onto the new map section from the beginning of the map section where we planned most of the run to be. I figured it would be a safe bet if we stated at Birdseye Hollow Park, It was right on the FLT, and we would end in the Sugar Hill State Forest area. Turns out my map skills were off a little bit, about 4 miles, and I would never hear the end of it.

 

I asked some more of our friends that we knew liked to do some trail running if they would be interested in an adventure that would be part run, part hike and likely take all day traversing 26 miles of the FLT. It turns out there are more people out there that want to explore 26 miles on the Finger Lakes Trail. Our number grew from 3 people last year to 5 people this year.

I am the kind of person who enjoys time alone on the trails be it running, hiking, or photographing nature, but there is something to be said for spending an extended period of time out in nature with friends. My wife and I have always enjoyed camping and hiking together, but now I was becoming part of an expanding group of friends that I can explore the wonders of nature with.

 

The beginning heading out of Birds Eye Hollow Park was a nice long relatively flat runnable section. We loved finding a really nice lean-to and camping spot during the early portion of the run. We were all anxious to reach the “Food Truck” at the halfway point. Then the never ending climbing started. When we reached the Sugar Hill area, we started to be ready to be done, some of us more than others. Then we eventually found the road and called it the finish line.

 

Combine running; nature, laughing, talking, and friendship with time, physical challenge, and exhaustion and you are in for a good time. Running, talking, and laughing with your friends while passing through great natural scenery is really a part of life everyone should experience. We weren’t out there to race; we were out there to just have fun and enjoy nature and enjoy each other’s company. I think that this is an aspect that gets lost sometimes in our overly competitive society. Have fun, enjoy the things you enjoy, and find some friends to share it with. I have been very fortunate to meet these friends.

Some of us have a tendency to have some sort of new unfortunate incident on every trail. Some of us get mad at the never-ending trails. Some of us we learned have never-ending song lyrics and dance moves that they let out on the trails. Some of us carry around a camera and photograph it all. Some of us are perfect steady companionship and put up with all the nonsense.

Away From My Desk

Today I am heading out on a camping trip. I am going up to the Adirondacks in upstate NY for some fun and relaxation on my own. People like to say how they are going to disconnect and go off the grid and not use technology while they are away so they can enjoy themselves and live in the moment. I am not really sure that this is the answer, at least not for me. I am not going to stay away from my technology. Technology is what allows me to do what I do. I am going to try to be more present in the moment though.

What that means for me is I am going to stay mostly away from social media. I may check in from time to time and browse my feeds, hopefully a lot less frequently then I do on an average day, but I won’t post any live updates on what I am doing on this trip. No sharing my “Awesome Adventure” with you live. I will have plenty of time to share with you when I return. I will talk to my wife and text with her. That might be the extent of any live updating I do. I hope that it is. Who knows. I may fail at this and you might see me all the time. I have never tried to quit social media before. I believe it has value and enjoy using it. But I also believe it keeps me from getting things done at times. So instead of live updates from me I have scheduled some posts to go up while I am out in the woods camping and working on new projects to share in the future. I am hoping that most if not all of them will be new things you have not seen before. So that’s what will be going on for my web presence for about 10 days.

So what will I be doing on those 10 days? My plan is to engage in all the things I love and don’t get to spend enough time doing on a regular basis. And that is one of the reasons I am specifically not going tech free. My tech allows me to do what I love. I am a photographer therefore I need my gear. I will have more camera gear with my than camping specific gear. I am going to be out there trying to capture exciting photos from my adventure. Then I can share those along with my stories when I come back. Speaking of stories I plan to do a lot of writing on this trip. For me writing requires a lap top. I am going to work on my book and maybe some other things while I am out connecting with the woods.

The things I will be doing that do not require technology will be running, hiking, and hopefully sleeping out under the stars in my hammock. I am camping about 4 miles from Lake Placid and I picked this spot purposefully so that if I wanted to I could literally run down into town and just hang out for a while and then run back to camp, easy peasy. I also picked this spot because I love climbing the mountains and I think this location allows me easiest access as a home base camp to go out exploring each day and hike a new one of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks. I have already climbed 3 of them and I would like to add several more before this trip is over. Running is also on the agenda. I don’t know how much I will do exactly but I know I will do some. I have no real plan exactly for that. I will probably be bringing more running clothes with me than anything else. Just so I have plenty of options and opportunity to run whenever it strikes me to run. I really want to try to at least run up one of the high peaks and back down. However, at this point I have no specific plan. Also, another reason I selected my camping location is because there is a trail that leaves from the campground that leads to the summit of a smaller mountain, Scarface Mountain, and I like the idea of being able to summit that mountain whenever I feel like it without having to go anywhere. I would love to get to the summit to watch a sunrise and a sunset then I can just run or hike back down to camp. There really are just endless options of what I can do while I am out there so I am sure I won’t get to everything. But while I am out there enjoying myself I am going to try to record as much of it as is possible on any one of the various cameras I will have with me on this trip.

I also want to get in a decent amount of relaxation. I spent the first half of the year training for my first 50k and while it has been a fun year so far I don’t think I have taken enough time to just sit and relax and I think it has taken a toll on me. I want to lie in my hammock and relax and nap. Or sit back and read a book. I have several on the pile that I need to read and they will all join me on this trip and I will see how many I get through. Last time I took a solo trip I read several books cover to cover, so hopefully I will find some time to read which I do enjoy but have been too tired and to rushed to spend time doing.

Most of all I hope to recharge the batteries doing all the things I love and come back feeling rejuvenated so I can do more and share more with you. I’ll see you in 10 days.

 

 

How to find time to do what we love:

My life has taken so many twists and turns that I would never have imagined.

Very little of my life includes anything I would have imagined for myself as I entered adulthood.

I think one reason for that is that I live my life by feeling and emotion and inspiration. I follow the things that I am passionate about and those things naturally evolve over time and take you far afield from where you ever thought you’d go.

In my pursuit of goals and dreams and happiness I have made decisions that have had consequences. These consequences result in holding me back from truly pursuing my dreams with all my energy. This is the reality we all live in. Our actions have consequences and they cannot be seen at the time. We do the best we can. We stumble and we fall but we get back up again.

For many of us who are motivated to chase dreams and goals we are held back by the practical realities of life. Our jobs and our bills prevent us from pursuing our best selves.

If we are lucky we can carve out enough time outside of our jobs to pursue one other passion on a part time basis. But what if there are more than one element of life we are passionate about.

This is where I am at the present moment. I feel like one of my passions, pursuit of knowledge and education was already snuffed out by the pressures of practical reality and not being able to fit it in with my job and other passions.

Now I struggle as I near a decade at a job that I feel only holds me back, preventing me from being my best self.
My passion for photography and for running has grown over the years driving me to do more and more. I increasingly want to expand what I do. I want to offer more and more through my photography. I want to take on more different and challenging events in running. At this point it just feels like there isn’t enough time in the day to work my 9 to 5 job and pursue both of these passions in a way that makes me happy.

I often feel like I need to choose one over the other. Prioritize one over the other. I can either be the type of photographer I want to be or I can be the type of runner I want to be. Practical reality dictates that I need to choose. Am I destined to be unsatisfied in both pursuits if I try to chase both dreams and work a regular job. Is that a life I can be happy with?

Unfortunately the way life works you sometimes don’t learn what truly makes you happy and what you truly want to devote your life to until later in life. Often by that time we have already made a series of choices that has led us down a particular path or more likely locked us into place on a track. I am in the process of accelerating my car along the track to where I can jump the track and escape the life I inadvertently locked myself into.

This is why I need your support. You are the reason I do what I do. I write and I create art for you. I want to share my experiences and my art with you and only through your support will I be able to do so. Only with your support will I be able to create work that is worthy of you. So please support me on Patreon at the following link so I can continue to grow my experiences and so I can jump the track and provide better for you. You can contribute as little as $1 or as much as you like. Any amount is greatly appreciated. You can also earn rewards by contributing at different levels.

Support my work here: https://www.patreon.com/KRNaturalPhoto

What I learned from running 31 miles

There are many reasons to run. One reason that I run is because I feel like running teaches me about life. There are so many life lessons that can be learned through running. I have learned so much about myself from this journey I have taken into running.

One thing I have learned is something that might sound totally obvious. If you want to accomplish something it takes work. You might be thinking, “Well of course it does.” Let me explain what I mean.

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I have been very fortunate in my life. I have been able to accomplish a lot of goals I have set my sights on in my life. Things I never would have thought I would do. I graduated college. I earned a masters degree. I continued grad school after my master’s degree. I learned photograph and became pretty good at it. I sold photographs. I became a published writer and photographer. I ran a 5k, then a 10k, then a half marathon, then a 25k. I swear I am not just trying to humble brag. I am very proud of those achievements and they took effort, but they did not take maximum effort.

There were many things I coasted on using mostly natural ability or did the bare minimum to get by. Many things I just chipped away slowly at without a big surge of effort. Very few things in life have I put my maximal effort into, yet I have been able to achieve a lot. I am very fortunate. I try to stay humble.

I am not a naturally gifted runner. No one would mistake me for one and if you saw me on the streets you would not likely think I am a runner. But I have been able to do a lot in running. I have been able to increase the distances I have run over time by just adding a little more effort and a little more training each time. I never put in maximal effort to achieve the best I could do at an event.  I did the bare minimum to achieve the desired outcome.

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This year I had my sights set on something much bigger. I was going to double the distance I had ever run from a 25k to a 50k and not only that I was going to run a very challenging 50k. Not only did I want to accomplish this goal I wanted to do as well as I could at it. I wanted to enjoy this accomplishment throughout the process when I ran the race. I did not want to suffer through it which would be the case if I put in less than my best effort in training. I committed to training for this race like I have never trained before. I trained hard. I ran when I didn’t want to run. I ran in conditions I didn’t want to run in. I was focused and determined to succeed at this and do the best I could and that required being committed to the whole process and not just the final end goal.

All that hard work and determination prepared me to run the race of my life. I did not win the race, not even close. That wasn’t even a consideration for me. But I did run the best race I could at that time. I was prepared to run the best I could because I put in the work. I enjoyed running a tough race. I did not suffer through it. It was a challenging experience but the kind of challenge that makes you feel good.

Now I am ready to commit to a new goal. One I have thought about and talked about off and on for a long time. I have worked on it in fits and starts. It is one of the many things that took a back seat to my commitment to training for a 50k. But that training has taught me that I am ready and that if I commit to the process I can succeed.

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Over the years I have talked about writing a book. I started writing it over a decade ago. I have worked on it off and on. I have started working on query letters and book proposals on and off over the last few years. I am always slowly inching closer to maybe possibly some day accomplishing this goal. Now things are going to change.

I love the quote my Michael Jordan where he says “I have failed over and over again, and that is why I succeed.” I failed to complete my PhD because I was not committed enough to the process I was not putting in the work I needed to. If I had unlimited time to work on it I probably would have gotten it done, but that is not how things work. I ran out of time because I didn’t commit enough time and energy to it. Well, I am going to learn from that failure and from this success. My future goals will be approached from a new direction.

Starting now I am going to commit to the goal of writing a book the same way I committed to running a 50k. I am going to be determined to working on the book process 5 days a week. Working on the book will be my number one priority on the list of tasks to get done. Everything else will have to play second fiddle and get balanced and worked on after my work for the day is done on the book. I will work on the book 1 hour a day 3 days a week during the work week. I will work on the book 2 to 4 hours a day on weekends. This will be just like the amount of time I committed to training for and running a 50k. This is a goal I will achieve and it will not be some goal that I will achieve some day. It will be a goal I will achieve soon.

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I will put in the work I need to get this done. Other projects that I want to pursue may have to be put on the shelf until this one is complete. Some things that are ongoing projects will be scaled back while I work on this goal with singular determination. One thing that means is that there may be less writing here on my website. I hope that everyone following me will still stay in touch and reach out to ask me how things are going. I do love to write so I will still try to post regularly here. I will try to have more short posts so I can stay in touch.

The first task I need to accomplish for this goal is to finish writing my book proposal. In its current form it is probably 50% complete. I need to research some items and then complete it and send it out to agents. Those are my next steps. Wish me luck and feel free to send me as many messages as you’d like regarding this. I would love to hear from anyone who has experience in this realm as I chase this dream.

What do you think I will be writing a book about? Let me hear your guesses.

Please consider supporting my work on Patreon at KRNaturalPhoto and join with the others who already do so I can continue to work on projects like this. You can support me for as little as $1 a month.

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2018 Walk A Mile In My Shoes

I may have met many of my friends through running but we are all so much more than runners. For me I am among other things a photographer. One of my friends I’ve met through running works in one of the most challenging fields you can, mental health. She puts on what I consider a very important community event. This year I was fortunate enough to be a part of this event again. I am always happy to find ways to use my talents to support our local community.

Walk a Mile in my Shoes is a community wide suicide awareness event held in Elmira, NY. This year was the 13th year this event has been held. Over 2,000 people attended this event to show their support for suicide prevention and awareness.

This is a truly moving event to be part of. Seeing so many people coming together to recognize the importance of such an important issue. So many people are affected by issues surrounding mental health either directly or indirectly. I am sure we all know someone who has experienced difficulties with mental health, and maybe we don’t even know that we do. This community event helps to show that there are people out there that support anyone who is experiencing difficulties with mental health.

Community events like Walk A Mile In My Shoes will help to break the stigma that unfortunately continues to exist around mental health. Mental health is something we need to talk about all the time. It is something that we need to make easy to discuss. That way when people struggle they can easily come forward and receive the help they need. It is sad that it often takes an act of courage to come forward to address mental health issues because of the way our society can treat those who are suffering the most.

I have learned a lot from people who have worked in fields related to mental health and from those who struggle with mental health.

Mental Health is a difficult subject to talk about. Despite my years of study and times spent with others on the front lines it really doesn’t seem to get easier.

I usually consider myself a pretty good writer and think that I can find the words I want especially regarding topics that are important to me or that I am knowledgeable and this is both. But still the right words are not there to convey the importance of this topic and the importance of this event to our community.

This event is simply a powerful and emotional experience. To see so many people come together who have shared perspective. People who have shared experiences. People who know how important just that one word or just that one person for support is. It is truly moving.

I am glad we have people in our community who know the importance of mental health and people who show up to support mental health awareness.

2018 Seneca 7

Sometimes I feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world. I have gotten to do so many things that make me happy and make life worth living. Somehow I was fortunate enough o break out of my shell and meet this great group of people that call themselves runners. I have fallen in with this group of people and we enjoy life together running and non-running alike. We have developed this little Elmira running crew who I have spent a lot of time running with over the past few years.

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In 2017 we all wanted to run Seneca 7 together but we were not able to get registered for our own team. Several of us did get to experience Seneca 7 that year but not all together. In 2018 we were fortunate enough to be able to all be on one team together.

So for those who don’t know what Seneca 7 is, it is a relay race that teams of 7 run around Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of NY. The race is a total of 77.7 miles long. So when you sign up for Seneca 7 you are committing to a daylong event where you will spend the majority of the day traveling with 6 other people in a van. That might sound crazy, and maybe it is. But when your best friends are runners it is like one of the best days you can have.

You run you, you watch, you cheer. You drive, you navigate, you eat, you do ….. other things all in close proximity of your friends. You have to be very accepting of others to participate in this kind of event. You will be spending a lot of time together and might get to know each other better than you thought you would if you didn’t already know each other well. Seven friends in a van spending the day doing what they love, it’s like a party to me.

You are around hundreds of other people who enjoy what you do and are about the same level of crazy as you. Except maybe those bike teams, they are something special.

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I loved being able to do this event with 7 of my best friends. The hardest part for me was the fact that I am a photographer and I like to photograph EVERYTHING. The weather was terrible. It was rainy and snowy. When you are packed in a van like sardines there isn’t room to bring the heavy duty camera equipment that can withstand some rain and snow. I brought cameras but most of the equipment wasn’t durable enough to brave the elements with. I had been really excited about the opportunity to document this event with my friends. Now I had to figure out how to make that happen as best I could. When you are a photographer it is hard to accept anything but the best quality of photographs you can get. At least it is for me. Maybe that is a flaw I need to work on, but it drives me.

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I did have my GoPro with me and I worked with that tool as best I could to capture as many moments from our race as I could. I am not as experienced with the GoPro as I am with my other equipment and the super wide angle lens of a GoPro is less than ideal for photographing an event where you can’t necessarily be close to your subject. But the GoPro could withstand the weather. So I had to make it work.

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I took a mix of single shot photos, time lapse photos, and videos to try and capture as much as I could of the event. Since I first began incorporating a GoPro into my photography I have been shooting an increasing amount of video. Most of this video I have recorded while I have been running. When you shoot video when you are running there will inevitably be some shaking of the camera. I have a steady cam to use but with the poor weather I also could not use that. So I shot video with my GoPro while running. I didn’t think it would be too bad. One thing I did not consider is that when I normally shoot video when I am running I am running at a more casual pace for me. During this race I was basically running all out. So when you try to run all out and hold a camera steady everything’s basically works against holding the camera steady. So the video was much shakier than I would have liked, but at least I recorded our adventure together.

I am happy to have such good friends. I am happy to be able to capture our fun times together even if it doesn’t come out as well as I would like. I can’t wait to record more of our fun times together.

Weekend Plans

This weekend I have quite a few things going on. It is a double edged sword when your life is so full of activity that you aren’t sure that you can fit it all in. There are so many aspects of my life that I love end derive joy from, however sometimes all of those things collide in a short time frame and can create a significant amount of stress. This weekend my photography life and my running life are colliding hard core. I am currently training for a 50k trail race and simultaneously trying to expand my photography business as well as maintain services I have provided in the past.

For my race training I need to run 20 miles on Saturday and I need to run at least 10 miles Sunday. On Saturday morning I have the privileged of photographing an important community event, Walk A Mile In My Shoes. This is a suicide awareness event that is held in my home town of Elmira, NY. This is a very well done event and it receives a ton of support from the community. I have photographed this event in the past and it is always a rewarding experience. Also, on Saturday evening I have scheduled a nature photography workshop. Holding photography workshops is something I am beginning to do new this year. I really wanted to have an early spring workshop and this seemed like a good time to have it. I have a busy early half of the year and this was the only weekend that would relay allow it to happen at all. In between those two events I will somehow squeeze in a 20 mile run, and I am not particularly fast so it is quite time consuming.

On Sunday I will be at Southern Tier Running Club’s Trail Fest at Grist Iron Brewing. I will start the day at 7:30 AM volunteering for the club during bib pick up for all of the runners attending to run the race. Then I will transition into photography mode and photograph the event which consists of three separate races. There is a 1 mile race, a 5k race, and a 10k race. I expect this will take most of the day. Then after finishing that up I will need to run 10 miles as part of my training plan for my 50k training. It is going to be a long but fulfilling day and weekend.

All of this activity even though it is generated for things I love it is bound to be stressful. Stress is a real thing. It can be good but it can also be detrimental to both our physical and mental health. Stress can overwhelm us. We might think that all of the things we are doing is because we love it and we want to but everything takes its physical and mental toll on us. Even the things we love and enjoy. Maybe especially those things because those are the things we care most about. We all need to evaluate what things we say yes to and what things we say no to. No one can do everything even if they are all things they love. There is not enough time, energy, or mental capacity. We are all human and we can only take on so much of a load. There is no shame in this. We all have to chose and prioritize those things that mean the most and say no to other things.

As I have been going through the process of training for a 50k, I knew it was going to be a time commitment, but I really had no idea what I was getting into. I love the idea of running this type of run, but the commitment needed to train may be more than I can fit into my life these days. I will reevaluate after my race and decide if/when I will ever be able to do it again. As it is I would never be able to do it without my wife picking up the slack at home while I am out grinding away the miles.

This weekend will also be something I evaluate after the fact. Once I get through it I will look back on it and see what went well and what didn’t. Then I will know if I will ever plan to pack so much into one weekend again. This also fits into my evaluation of how training for a really long race goes. This would not be a problem if I wasn’t in the midst of training for a long race. Can I do both? Can I run long races and be a successful photographer in addition to other parts of my life I need to keep intact.

Husband, Photographer, Dog Lover, Writer, Runner, Nature Lover, Analyst. Is it all too much? How do I balance it all?  These are the questions we all must ask and find a way to live the life we find most meaningful.

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