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Day 2 of my one phot a day challenge for the month of January.

Dried out Strawflower I kept from the summer.

For todays photo I utilized a couple of things that I made sure to have just for occasions where I wanted to create some photography indoors during the winter especially.

I saved this Strawflower from the summer. The plant is dead but the flowers hold their form and still look nice.

I also utilized Lume Cube lights that I recently bought. Lume Cube lights provide small easy to use and easily portable lighting options, which is just what I wanted. I actually hand held one of the Panel Mini lights while I was taking these photos.

In 5 minutes I created 103 images and this is one example.

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Starting of my January one photo a day challenge. The goal is to take at least one photo every day for the month of January. Then share one of the phots I take each day here on the blog. The only restriction I am giving myself is that the phot must be taken with a camera other than my cell phone camera.

Photo taken while out for a run near my home.

What a way to start off a new year. 13.1 hilly miles on country roads right where I live.

On this run I tested out a new piece of gear I bought just for this purpose. I have been searching for a way to carry my cameras better when I go running so I can easily take photographs as I run and explore. I found the Peak Design Capture.

This was my first time using it while out for a run. I started off with my smallest mirrorless camera. Everything went well. It was great. Easy to use. Easy to access my camera, take photo, and replace it in the Capture Clip. I attached the Capture right to the shoulder strap of my hydration pack.

This will be a game changer for me.

I spent most of November writing about one of my favorite places, Tanglewood Nature Center, here on the blog. The motivation to write about this place was generated by the fact that they were holding a fundraiser and I wanted to try to play a small part in helping them with that if I could. I wanted to try to draw some attention to the place I enjoy so much and help give them any publicity I could. I wanted to try to raise awareness about why I love Tanglewood and their current fundraiser.
 
The fundraiser Tanglewood was having involved something that I love, running. Not just any running, but trail running. Specifically running my favorite trail at Tanglewood. Anyone wanting to be involved in this fundraiser could participate in a virtual race format where they would run the Red Trail at Tanglewood and submit their times along with the race entry fee. People who wanted to participate in the fundraiser but who didn’t want to run could contribute directly to Tanglewood and Ben Amsler, board member and fellow trail runner put his legs on the line. Ben offered to run for an increasing number of miles the more people were willing to donate.
 
That really inspired me to try to get word out about it.

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As you have been reading this series of articles about the different tools I use in service of creating my photography I am sure it is becoming clear that all the gear I use serves a purpose. This continues to hold true for the next piece of equipment I will discuss. The only difference is that with this tool always plan in advance to use this tool on a photo shoot.

Introducing the Nikon 70-200mm Lens

The Nikon 70-200mm lens is the only lens I do not keep packed in my camera bag and take with me on every trip out to do photography. I only get this lens out of my gear cabinet when the photography I have planned in advance calls for it. And the photography I use it for is almost always planned well in advance.

Why is it that using this lens requires advanced planning? That is because the purposes for which I use this lens are generally preplanned on a calendar. It is not a tool I take with me every chance I get because the types of photography I like to use it for are not normally spontaneous events.

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This has been a very interesting experience for me. I have never taken on a course and tried to run it faster and faster over a period of time before. Outside of the few exceptions of some races I have run multiple times over the years, but there aren’t many of those.

Running one route 6 times in one month. Trying to get faster and faster each time. This is new.

Do Something New

Taking on this project on trails is even more interesting. Unlike roads, which essentially remain the same throughout time, trails are almost never the same. Each run on the same trail can offer a different experience. The trail conditions can vary over time.

On the first couple of attempts at the Red Trail the leaves had recently fallen and they were thick and fluffy on the ground. I couldn’t really see the ground under my feet or feel secure in my footing at all times. Over the course of the month the leaves were crushed down, worn out and and ground into dust and the trails became more visible and I could run with more confidence.

Lucking I can duck under this tree then pick up momentum going down hill.

Then there are trees. There have been a variety of trees fallen on the trails during my runs. Some have been cut and moved off the trail. Some have remained all month. And there have even been some new trees that have fallen during the month to add new challenges even as I get faster.

Rain and trees trying to slow me down.

Attempt # 6

My friend and I have been wanting to get after it on this trail together at some point during the Run For The Hills! challenge at Tanglewood. We were finally able to make it come together and hit the trails today for a good hard run on the Red Trail.

The trail conditions on this run were going to be different than all my other runs. It has been mostly dry on every attempt I have had so far. But it has been rainy the past few days. And it was raining for a few hours this morning before we planed to run.

6th try to run the Red Trail.

We planned to start a little later in the day to let it warm up some. We hit the trails at about 10 AM. It looked like it was going to be a nice bright sunny run.

But then Upstate, New York decided to be Upstate, New York. Around 1 mile into the run it started to drizzle. Then it started to rain and sleet. The wind picked up. A nice little storm whipped though the area. (When I got home it hadn’t rained at all there and I live just a few miles away.)

These were not the ideal conditions for trying to set a personal best on a given route, especially one you’ve already improved on a couple of times.

Run More to Run More

This week I had run more than I have in a given week in over a month. My running this week included a 10 mile run two days ago. I hadn’t run double digit miles since mid October. My weekly running has mostly been the 6 miles I put in here each weekend.

How the trail run went

As I started out on this run my legs felt a little tired and I could not help but think that all the running I had done this week was going to be a detriment to this attempt.

Up the first small rise.

I was really pushing as I went up the first bigger climb you reach. I felt like I was working hard. But I did not feel like I was going particularly fast.

I was really happy when I clicked off my first mile in 9:30 as I checked my watch. The fasted I have run it in out of all my attempts by a few seconds and fifteen seconds faster than any of my recent attempts.

On mile 2, I was able to hit a sub 9 minute mile for the first time. That was nearly a 20 second improvement over any of my previous attempts during that section of the run.

The third and final mile clocked in at just under 14 minutes. This was not my fastest time on this part of the trail, but it was pretty good for me. My legs were getting week. I did not have much gas left for this climb.

Climbing

I started off running up the section that is not too steep. Then I had to power hike up the steepest section. After that I started to alternate between running and hiking every 10 breaths or so just to give my legs and lungs time to recover. Then as I neared the top where it begins to flatten out I extended my running time over my hiking time.

The trails were muddy and west today.

I could see the finish. I “sprinted” with whatever I had left. and I was done.

On my 6th and possibly final attempt to run the fastest time I can on the Red Trail at Tanglewood Nature Center I was 44 seconds faster than my previous fastest time. I clocked in at 33 minutes and 10 seconds. I started and finished every attempt at the trail maps station before you head out onto the trails.

This was a super fun new challenge to take on. I need to find more fun hard adventures like this to chase.

Support

Support everything Tanglewood has to offer through Run For The Hills! or Ben’s Long Run.

Connect

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I have been a fan of Tanglewood Nature Center for a long time now. Finding way to be involved there over there years has been something I have enjoyed. Some of my first ever on display artwork was hung at Tanglewood. I have photographed running there. There is photography available for purchase on my website that when sold I make a contribution to Tanglewood. I have been talking with the staff at Tanglewood about different projects we can collaborate on obviously 2020 has put the brakes on that for now. But most of the time if I am at Tanglewood with someone it is likely to be someone I met through running.

It was nice to connect with someone through their work at and support of Tanglewood Nature Center. It is just an added bonus that they are also a runner.

Support Ben Amsler as he runs to raise money to support the great work that Tanglewood Nature Center does on: Ben’s long run.

Ben running the Red Trail at Tanglewood.
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I always have my eyes open for any running or outdoor adventures going on. So, I was really excited when I stumbled across the post from Tanglewood Nature Center introducing Run For The Hills! Even better than that was reading about a fellow runner that was excited about the same trails I was and was trying to make an impact to help support our local nature center through Ben’s Long Run.

I am not the kind of person that finds it easy to meet new people or is comfortable meeting new people. But, there is always something a little special about meeting a fellow runner. You know that no matter your experiences in running there will always be something to connect with each other through.

I immediately reached out to connect and see if I could get involved in some way. I’ve spent most of this month writing about Tanglewood and trying to help support them. Staff at Tanglewood also connected me with Ben.

Ben running the Red Trail at Tanglewood.

Ben Amsler is going to run as many miles as we can make him through our donations.

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I love running the Red Trail at Tanglewood. It is probably my favorite trail. I am really enjoying this challenge of running it at a fast pace. It is different than most of my runs here.

Post run trail image.
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I love it when my passions merge into one opportunity. I can put together all the different aspects of my life that I enjoy. It is like the various parts of my life merge and become the person I am supposed to be. 

I love photography. I have been doing it for 20 years now. 

I love running. I have been running for 7 years now. 

I love nature. I have always loved nature. Camping, hiking, and wildlife make my soul whole.

Sky over Tanglewood
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My approach to this series of trail runs has been sub optimal for maximizing performance. Running two hard runs on back to back days is not likely to provide consistently improved performance on each subsequent run. But you run when you can run.

It is dark before I leave for work. And it is essentially dark when I get home from work this time of year. So weekends are the time I have available to hit the trails and run hard. I am trying to maximize that time. Run hard on the two days each week I have available to get it done.

Starting off the run.
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