I have written a lot about running and my running goals lately, but I don’t think that I have written much about what I want to accomplish in my art work. Now seems like the perfect time to address that as we getting into the new year. Below is a list of 8 goals I have for the 2018 year.
Have another art exhibit.
Publish an article without photography.
Publish a photography related article.
Take more portrait sessions.
Photograph more shelter animals.
Teach a photography class.
Gain more support through Patreon.
Write a book.
Last year was a good year for me in relation to my goal number 1. I had a joint exhibit with my dad that was very fun and then I began planning for an exhibit for 2018. AS of a few weeks ago it is official that I will have another art exhibit in 2018. The exhibit will be at the Tioga Arts Council in Owego, NY. The exhibit will be called A Runners World and will feature photographs I have taken while out running. You can find out more information about my exhibit here: A Runners World.
I have been fortunate to have some of my work published and I would like to continue that in 2018. One thing I have never done is have an article published that is just my writing and not featuring my photography. That is one thing I would like to accomplish in 2018.
I have thought a lot about teaching photography in some capacity to other people. I love photography and love talking photography with people. I have so many ideas about this and I am still fleshing out exactly how this will take place. I would love to do one on one tutorials as well as group classes. There are so many ways this can go. If this interests you get in touch and we can discuss the options.
The last goal on the list is probably the scariest to state in public. I have thought about writing a book for a long time. There are some people who know this but not many. I have even written parts of a book I have ideas for periodically. I even got so far as to write a book proposal for one idea and work on a book proposal for another idea. Unfortunately, my fear held me up and after working on these projects I lost most of the work I did on the book proposals some how because I was procrastinating. I am trying to let go of my fear and get back to work on the projects and submit some proposals. It is really hard to convince myself to redo the work I had already done. So, thats right I said it. I am writing a book or books.
If you would like to see me write a book let me know. You can help support all of these goals on Patreon: KRNaturalPhoto. I appreciate any level of support you wish to provide, however if you support at higher levels you earn better rewards as a supporter.
I am looking forward to making these goal a reality in 2018. I hope you decide to join me on this journey.
Every year I try to set myself a new goal or two in my running. Below is a list of my goals that I had set for myself for 2017 and how I did as far as accomplishing them during 2017.
Goals I set for myself for 2017.
Run sub 28 minute 5k.
Run at least 4 trail runs.
Increase total miles from 2016 to 2017.
Run a trail half marathon. (Green Monster in October 25k)
I wrote the above goals 11/1/2016.
2017 results for goals.
I didn’t run any official 5Ks but I improved my 5k time to apx 24 min
I ran 9 trail races.
Total Miles run for 2016 = 623.76 and For 2017 I ran 1,049 miles
I ran 3 trail races of at least half marathon distance or greater
I haven’t run an official 5k race in years. So maybe I will run one sometime soon so that I can get an official race result time and see what I am really able to do.
Prior to 2017 I think I had only ever run two trail races. So changing things up and spending so much time on the trails was so much fun. I have definitely fallen in love with trail running. It is my preferred type of running when I can get on the trails. Running nine trail races in one year was so exciting. I only ran two races that were on the road and they were in the beginning of the year. The best part about running the nine trail races that I ended up running is that almost all of them were run with some amazing friends.
The amount of miles that I ran this year kind of astounds me. It’s not a ton of miles compared to others, but for me compared to my past it is huge. I never really expected to make it to 1,000 miles. I never planned to make it to 1,000 miles. I just wanted to increase my mileage from last year. The fact that I increased my mileage from 2016 to 2017 by over 400 miles is great for me. Getting to 1,000 miles just happened organically and it felt great. Just another great result of following the journey.
The biggest and most challenging goal I set for myself was to run a trail race that was at least a half marathon distance. My goal race being to run the Green Monster 25k (16+ miles). Before this year I had never run a trail run more than six miles and I had never run a race over 13 miles. So, setting myself this goal of a 16 mile trail race was a big jump for me. I couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of my friends. Adding in two other trail races of at least half marathon distance was great to get me ready for my goal race. And Green Monster did not disappoint. It was a fantastic race in every way. Challenging, Fun, and Inspiring. Everything you want out of a goal.
I have talked a lot about how my photography often combines with my other passions that become parts of my life over the years. The last few years running has become a huge part of my life and my photography has reflected that. As my experience in running evolves and I develop new goals my running leads me to attempt new photography projects.
In the first half of 2018 I will be running my first ever marathon, a trail marathon, at Sehgahunda. Then I will run my first Ultra Marathon at the Worlds End 50K. My training plan for these faces officially begins on New Years Day. I can’t think of a better way to start of the new year than with the the official beginning of the pursuit of a new goal and amazing challenge. Something that I never thought I would ever do.
I expect this to be a huge challenge and not something that will come easy for me. Between the challenge of finding time to run, the actual stress of running, finding time to work on other projects, and keeping my life balance it is sure to be a true test. For this reason I am going to make this a totally immersive process. I am going to make this not just a running goal, I am going to make this a photography project as well.
If you are at all interested in what it is like for someone to train for a trail marathon of 50K and want to hear about it first hand no sugar coating then follow me hear and on any of my other pages above. Or if you just want to see the amazing artwork that I am hopefully able to create as part of this adventure you should also follow me. I plan to write and post as much as possible. Be back soon to share more.
Yesterday I read a tweet by someone that said he would gladly pay someone to write the beginning and ending lines of whatever project he was working on. I responded that I find the opening line of anything I write to be painful to get out. Just like this post. I could overthink and be paralyzed thinking of the best way to open the post. But instead I decided to just start writing and let it go from there. And now I am off and going and hopefully you will keep reading despite a less than perfect beginning.
In life though I think that is the most important thing. Don’t over analyze. Don’t get paralyzed by the anxiety of just getting started. That is something that has haunted me my entire life, always the fear of the unknown instead of the excitement of starting something new. But I am working to change that.
I just started reading the book Quiet. It’s been sitting on my virtual bookshelf on my Kindle for a long time now. Every time I need to begin a new book I agonize over what to start and never choose this title because I feel like it may be revealing for me. But now I am reading it and it is good. Just get started. Once you get started then you can enjoy the process.
I’ve always struggled making friends. Always afraid to put myself out there. A couple years ago I made it my new years resolution to join a running club. I put myself out there. I didn’t really talk to anyone the first couple of runs I went on but now all my running friends are probably thinking, “We can’t get this guy to shut up.” So just take the leap and put yourself out there. You don’t have to walk the tight rope without a net, but put yourself in the situation where things can happen for you.
This applies to running and getting in shape itself. I had always been the kind of person that thought if I wanted to get into better shape I could whenever I wanted. But that is just an excuse to never start. Once you decide to start you will find how much you really can do, but you have to start first.
I even feel this fear and hesitation in things I have loved to do for a long time. Photography is something I have loved to do for a long time, but starting a new project or even just getting out the door to take some photos gives me pause. But, once I get out there and start clicking the shutter that all dissipates. The joy and passion flows and I am off and running, often shooting hundreds to thousands of photos. I love doing it but it takes a renewed commitment to starting each time to get me going in the right direction instead of procrastinating.
Life is hard. There is no easy way. There is no perfect beginning or time to start. The time to start is now. If you want to do something do it. Start now. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Do not let the paralysis by analysis set in. Get going. Do that thing that you have always wanted to do. Once you get going to momentum will build on itself and you will get where you are going. But you cannot get there if you never start.
Stop planning to start and waiting for the right time and just start. Life long dreams and goals don’t come easy. It may seem like there is not enough time to make significant progress on a goal right now and that may be true. You won’t accomplish it right now in the moment, but you can get started. Get started making progress toward a goal. A goal is rarely something that you can just go out and do right now and attain it. It is something that requires steady progress toward the end result. You will never get there if you don’t get going.
Join me in this experiment that we call life and get out there and start that thing you have always wanted to do today. Let m know in the comments what you are starting.
Last year a friend of mine suggested I run a race that sounded challenging and fun but it was the weekend after I was running another race. I didn’t think that I could run a race on back to back weekends. I ended up not running the other race and just sticking with the one race that I was already committed to. The race I didn’t run last year was the Green Monster 15k.
My friend said that since I couldn’t run the Green Monster 15k in 2016 that I should commit to running the Green Monster 25k in 2017. (Thanks Shannon) I decided that was exactly what I would do. Green Monster 25k would be my goal race for 2017. Everything I would do in 2017 would be focused on getting me ready to run the Green Monster 25k in October. The Green Monster 25k would be the longest distance I had ever run period race or not. The race would be the most challenging race I’ve run from the perspective of elevation gain and technicality of the trail as well. I wasn’t even that experienced in trail running at the end of 2016. I just knew that I enjoyed the few races that I had run and I enjoyed the occasional times I had run on trails in the past.
2017 would be a year focused on trail running for me. I only ran in two races that were road races. I spent more time than ever on trails. I ran longer and longer runs. I talked to people that were experienced in trail running, seeking advice and counsel.
This year was the most fun and interesting year of running I have had to date. I experienced all kinds of new things. Since I would be running my first ever 25k mile trail run and the longest trail run I had ever run prior to that was a 10k (I had completed multiple road half marathons by that point.) I thought it would be wise to target a 25k trail run that might be at least a little less challenging early in the year so that I could at least get some experience with running that distance. I targeted the Fingerlakes 50’s 25k. Then I forgot to register on the day the race opened and I ended up on the waiting list. I spent the whole first half of the year waiting to find out if I would even get into this race. Turns out I did get in and the race went pretty well despite the monsoon that occurred during the race. Nothing like a soggy trail run in the Fingerlakes.
Even though I didn’t know if I would be able to run the Fingerlakes 50’s 25k I spent the first part of the year training like I definitely was running it. That meant building up my trail running legs over ever increasing distances. Almost every race I ran in the first half of the year was a new first for me. I ran a 10k race. I ran my first ever 8 mile trail run on a tough loop course, in the early summer heat, in the evening where I had the option of just stopping at 4 miles and bow was that tempting in the heat. That race was a new experience for me in many ways. That race was a new experience to me in so many ways. The distance was new. Running an evening race was new. And even running in the heat was different for me. I usually try to avoid running in the heat. I’ve also never run a loop course before where you could just stop, and the mental challenge of not stopping was so tough.
After the 8 mile race I went on to run my first 20K trail run. This race also included some substantial elevation changes which would present another new challenge for me. This was my second go on a loop course. Having to pass by the finish line after completing a steep climb that was the end of the 10k race was not fun but I was committed. Despite getting off course along with a substantial number of runners and missing some mileage and some climbing I was exhausted by the end, but I got it done and it was on to the Fingerlakes 50’s 25k for the next race.
The Fingerlakes 50’s 25k was a great experience. Prior to the race I was worried about it being too hot as the forecast was for temps in the 80’s around race time. The actual race conditions were a muddy mess of a slog that for substantial portions of the race featured torrential downpours. Every trail you ran on had water running on it in some direction, towards you, with you, or across the path. There were even portions of standing water. Near the end it was a mental struggle to just fight the urge to just walk the rest of the way. I was beaten down by the distance and the rain and mud, bt I got to the finish line. This was not just a race it was an experience.
In August I ran my first every trail half marathon. It was on a relatively flat course that I actually had a little bit of experience with part of the trail from a trail relay I had run earlier in the year. Due to the lack of elevation change this race did not have a lot in common with my goal race other than getting me to close to that amount of distance. I still wanted to simulate how I would feel on my goal race during this race. I knew that long before the end of my goal race I would be exhausted, so my plan for this race was to run myself to exhaustion before the end. I ran out much harder than someone of my ability level proably should at the beginning of the race. And by not too far after the half way point I was feeling quite fatigued and slowing. But that was the plan I wanted to experience running tired and pushing myself to keep going. The plan worked well. I was exhausted and I finished.
I had run a race every month since spring to get prepared for my goal race and to help maintain my motivation to train. After my August race I didn’t have another race lined up for September. My friend Shannon once again stepped up and suggested I run the race she was going to run. An 8 mile loop course up and down a nearby ski resort mountain. Knowing I both needed to work on my climbing and have incentive to continue working on my climbing until my goal race, I was in. That was a challenging run for me. I am normally the kind of person that likes to stop for a second to get a photo of the nice scenery I am privileged to be out in. Not during this race. You were always going up or down. There were no convenient places to stop for a photo.
Finally October rolls around and my goal race, Green Monster 25k, is in sight. I am a bundle of emotions thinking about this challenge that is in front of me. Did I train hard enough. Will I be ready. Am I in over my head. I was pretty confident that I could handle the pure distance. It was the elevation gain that I was concerned about. I had run parts of the trail multiple times with friends. However, a planned preview run of the 25k course with a friend did not go so well and that had me a little down leading into the race and race day was forecast to be warm as well. Another strike against me that I’d worry about.
Ascents have been and continue to be my biggest challenge in trail running. The race starts off flat but quickly turns into the longest climb of the day. My strategy was to go out slow and try to conserve my energy for the climb. Climbs just take the wind out of my sails and I did not want to start off the race too tired already. I got through the first climb and I got to the top where it levels out tired but not too bad off. I apparently let my guard down a little too much after the climb and tripped and fell at one of the least technical (Read easy and no reason to fall) parts of the trail. But If I was going to fall there it may have been one of the best spots to fall. It was one of the least rocky areas. If I had fell a few minutes later I probably would have been pretty busted up.
After a little flat running came my favorite part of the entire race. A nice long descent. Not too steep as to be technical but steep enough that you could pick up some momentum. I even caught up to and passed some people. Descents are basically the only place that happens for me in a trail race. I spent the next portion of the race picking and choosing when to run and when to walk as distance was covered over a long gradual incline. The whole time I know a steep ascent is looming and I am trying to arrive at the ascent without being too out of breath already.
The ascent up Bark Slide Trail was steep and a considerable challenge for me. I took my time getting up it so I would have legs left for the rest of the race. At the top you loop around and go back down a more gradual descent and return to the path where you went up Bark Slide. A bit farther along was the third big climb of the race. This trail is steep and rocky and even has large trees growing in the middle of the trail. One of which I leant against and rested on during my previous attempt. This time I was tired but I did not need to stop. I slowly struggled on up the trail. These climbs were so steep it is difficult to even stop to rest if you wanted to because there is no level footing to stop on and it is pretty easy to lose your balance or simply slide on the slope.
After the three big climbs I had to endure the race was pretty tough for me. The climbs had siphoned all the energy from my legs. I just couldn’t run too much for too long after that. I ran when I could and walked when I needed to. I knew that at some point I would meet up with Jim Close trail and rejoin with the same part of the course that the 15k runners would be running. That was what I was seeking. I knew it meant that I was relatively close to the end and I knew it meant a chance to see my friends. When I saw the turn for Jim Close I saw my friends daughter and yelled to her to cheer her on. Getting on the Jim Close Trail was like a resurgence.
Eventually around mile 13 you get back to climbing and the resurgence I previously had felt had dissipated. At times it was all I coukd do to keep my feet going one in front of the other. After one of the steeper climbs I actually stopped for a few seconds and bent over to rest and that just seemed to make everything worse. So I trudged onward. One of the best things about this section though was 2 of my friends running the 15k caught up to me and I was able to say hi. That helped get me through it.
Finally I arrived at Frankenstein’s Forehead and at last I knew I was close to the end. One more serious decent and then a few miles of relatively flat running and I’d arrive at the finish line.
Frankenstein’s Forehead under race conditions was more challenging as I had to repeatedly slow down for others ahead of me taking more time on the decent. But getting to the bottom and heading out on the flatter trail was very welcome. The bottom was hotter and more humid than I expected. I stopped at every stream crossing and scooped up a hat full of water a nd poured it over my head as I put my hat back on.
As I neared the finish line it was so great to be able to hear all the people cheering. It was especially nice to hear my wife cheering me on. Every race she is able to make it to is even better. Crossing the finish line and reuniting with my wife and friends was great. It was a release it was the fulfillment of a year of hard work. Standing at the finish line cheering on more friends as they finished and then all resting and recovering together and talking about our races is what running is all about.
Last night I set a running challenge for myself to complete this morning. I had no specific goals in mind regarding pace or anything. I had one simple target. Finish the run and, spoiler alert, I did. I finished one of my most challenging runs to date.
I have been wanting to start running more trail runs and run distances of half marathon or a little more. My biggest challenge has been figuring out runs that would allow me to stay in shape for those type of events. A friend suggested I run from my house to a nearby nature preserve, Plymouth Woods.
For some people that might not sound too bad, but for me it is a little different. I live nearly at the top of a 1500+ ft high hill. I am not good at hills and have relatively little experience running them. Earlier this year for the first time I ran down my hill and then right back up. But on that run I did not add any more mileage than just down the hill and back up, plus that run was on the less steep side of the hill.
Today I ran down the steepest side of the hill. I ran down the hill and out along the highway and reached the nature preserve at just short of 5 miles. I felt pretty tired on this first part. Surprisingly so. But once I started on those trails I felt so much better. There is just something about getting out in nature. Those leaves crunching under your feet. Alone except the mammoth trees towering over head. These are the things that propel me.
I used that energy to hit all the trails available at Plymouth Woods. The Red Trail, The Blue Trail, The Orange Trail, and Another loop on Red. It was a tough hilly run but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wasn’t fast, but that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to get out for a run and enjoy myself and just see what I could do. While I was at Plymouth the weather started to turn against me. I am pretty sure I was being pelted with ice pellets at one point.
I left Plymouth woods and headed back down the highway towards home and the hill that lie ahead. The way back was a little down hill so I actually achieved a decent pace for me. But the whole way back I was consumed of thoughts of the hill that loomed ahead of me.
I got to the bottom of Combs Hill Rd felling pretty good, but I knew I could never run up that slope. So I didn’t and I didn’t feel bad about it. I did the best I could so that I could cover the rest of the distance to get back home once I got to the top. If I had tried to run I would likely have ended up just slowly walking the last mile or two back home and I was not having that. I wanted to have something left in the tank to get me home. It did not help that the weather was turning or it was just getting colder due to the increased elevation, but it was getting windy and cold. But I pushed on. It actually helped to motivate me to run. It was too cold to walk.
When I got back home I wasn’t quite to 12 miles so I actually ran past my house and then back to it so I could get to 12. I was hoping the run would be closer to 13 miles but it wasn’t quite as long as I thought it would be. Maybe I will add another loop in the woods next time.
I got back and I was exhausted. My legs were wobbly and sore. I walked more than I would have liked, particularly after surmounting Combs hill on the way back, but I made it. I achieved my goal. I challenged myself and I pushed myself and I did it. This is why I love running. I can challenge myself. I can test my limits and I can learn about myself and I can adapt and get stronger. Now, what is the next challenge…..