21 April 2013

Through the lens

Howdy.  February 2013 marked 7 years since I started writing this blog.

I'd like to incorporate more photography into my blog, so I'm moving my personal blog to the same platform where I maintain my photography website and on-line portfolio.

I know it's a pain to update links or subscriptions and the like.  Be that as it may, please do so.

Here's the link:

I incorporated lenses into the name of the new space because, as a photographer, lenses allow me  to capture light and see the world in different ways.  Our emotions, experiences, thoughts and surroundings shape our perspective as we go through life, just like a lens does for a camera and photographer.

I hope you'll keep reading.

11 December 2011

Post Marathon

Today, I finished my first marathon!  It was a great day - the weather was perfect, the organizers and volunteers of the race (first marathon on Bryan/College Station) ensured all I had to focus on was putting one foot in front of the other from the starting line to the finish and there were plenty of supporters within the community along the course to cheer me on.  I kept my pace, was relaxed and enjoyed the entire race.

Photo of me and pup Boston just after the race:

Highlights and re-cap:

-Up at 5 am.  Breakfast, race day uniform on and out the door.  In the car, I read through all the notes of support my friends and family sent prior to the race, including comments from my last post.  THANK YOU!  
-At the starting line by 6:15 am with Mom, Dad, pup Boston and my friends Wendy and Jason who drove down with me from Austin to support me in the race
-Race started at 7 am.  Woo-hoo!  
-First mile was looong!  I kept my pace but the first mile really dragged on.  
-Mile 3 or so, my favorite spectator...a guy sitting on a Harley Davidson parked in his driveway...he was wearing a bathrobe.  Sitting on a Harley.  
-Mile 6, Mom and Dad were at the mile marker to cheer for me.  I waved and smiled at anyone who cheered for me along the course, like I was a beauty queen in a parade or a celebrity - it was quite fun!  When I saw my family, though, I beamed ear to ear.  My ankles started to hurt at mile 6, I expected this though.  
-Mile 8, met up with my friends Wendy and Jason and we ran together for a bit
-Mile 10, Mom, Dad, my sister Tasha and youngest niece were there to cheer me on.  Mile 10 was dedicated to YOU, bloggers, and I definitely thought of you and all your encouragement through training this Spring, Summer and Fall.  
-Mile 11-13 were hard, lots of gradual inclines or hills.  I ate a honeycrisp apple, my strategy for replenishing calories along with packets of honey and drinking water every few miles.  My quad muscles tightened a bit after the hills - not something I'd experienced in training (tight quads).  
-Mile 14: Favorite sign "series" all in a row...likely from the same volunteer with dark humor 1. It could be worse 2. Not dead yet 3. I will not poop my pants! (Lemon Gloria, I thought of you!  Poop)
-Mile 15 I got emotional - tearing up but no tears and happy emotion - as the course led me to the campus of Texas A&M University.  I graduated 10 years ago but have such fond memories, it seems like yesterday
-Mile 16 I met up with friends Wendy and Jason again and they ran with me to mile 25.  In training, I always ran alone but it was immensely helpful to run with them this leg of the race because they have so much experience (3 IronMans) and I was able to stay relaxed and not struggle mentally.  Especially after mile 20 since I'd never run farther than 20 miles in my life.  
-Mile 18 I saw my parents and sister and niece.  I changed shirts, from short sleeve to long sleeve, which was refreshing.  
-Mile Running mile 15 - 20.5 through campus was my favorite part of the run.  We ran by the George Bush Library, through West Campus were I attended most of my classes as a Business major, by Reed arena (basketball and commencement was held when I graduated) by Kyle Field (football stadium), Heaton Hall (Office of Admissions), the stately Administration building and by the Alumni Center on the Southside.   
-Mile 21 I saw my parents, sister and niece and Dad went home to pick up pup Boston.  This was the last time I saw my family until the finish.  My niece recognized me on the course and ran up to me (she's 22 months old) to give me a hug, so sweet! Pup Boston was more interested on "marking" a street sign than seeing me which was funny.  
-Mile 23 I would have been fine stopping here because my leg muscles were tired and the pain in my ankles was great, but I pushed on.  I didn't "hit the wall" though at any point in the race - I kept my pace the entire time and according to my friends, my stride was good and I was really relaxed.  Unlike training, my shoulders and back didn't hurt at all after mile 18.  
-Mile 25 Huge hill/gradual incline.  I was not thrilled about this, really the only point in the race I was grumpy.  Wendy helped me get back to positive by talking me through one cone at a time as an accomplishment and after 30 cones we were at the top of the hill and I was so close to the finish  
-Mile 26, favorite sign: What took you so long? I've been here all day! 
-Mile 26.2 When I saw the finish, I started sprinting toward it with a huge smile on my face.  Sprinting at this point was only about a 10 minute mile pace.  There really is nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line.  I ran a marathon!  I love the finisher medal.  I loved the entire race - honestly, it was a really great day.  

Thank you again for all the positive thoughts and encouragement - it really did make a difference and it made the race really fun to share with friends and family near and far.  The marathon dedications I wrote about in my last post really worked for me, I thought of each person or group of people during that mile.

My biggest take-away...trust your training.  I had a training plan, I followed it.  On race day, I just kept my pace and was able to enjoy the race.  I laughed at funny signs and energetic volunteers who made jokes or were so over-the-top excited.  I smiled at people along the course.  I hugged my family when I saw them on the sidelines of the course.  I was so grateful for clear blue skies and sunshine and perfect temperatures - something I feel I earned after training through summer in Austin.  All the hard work, was worth it because I crossed the finish line.  The marathon was fun and so was the journey getting there.  

I'm off to bed now.  I'm going to take a couple of weeks off from running but will be hitting the trail soon and plan to start swimming laps again at the Y and can't wait for yoga.  I hope everyone had a great weekend!  

07 December 2011

Marathon Week

I haven't written about marathon training in a while. My race is this Sunday, 11 December 2011 in College Station Texas.

A couple of weeks ago, I completed a 20 mile run which was the longest distance my training plan required. It took me a little over 4 hours, the pain in my ankles was great and my leg muscles were incredibly tired but I was thrilled to get through it successfully. This past weekend I ran 8 miles in cold temperatures and rain which was good practice since the conditions may be the same for the marathon. I hope it doesn't rain on Sunday but if it does I'll just make do. This week I have a long list of errands...get a massage, pack my race gear, got to the grocer, hydratehydratehydrate but physical training is complete.

The mental toughness to bridge the gap between 20 miles and 26.2 miles will be a challenge on race day. But I'm up for the challenge, excited about the marathon and really hopeful I finish. My parents, pup Boston, sister and two close friends will be along the course to cheer me on and hopefully lots of members of the community and race volunteers, too.

Marathon training has been a long journey. This summer brought a drought and temperatures above 100 degrees, so I had to get up before sunrise to run or else die on the trail. I joined a running group for weekly workouts on the track. I hadn't sprinted any distance in years and after a few months with this group, 800 meter circuits aren't so bad. There's a great community of runners in Austin who smile, wave or give you a high-five on the trail. Since January, I've settled into a routine of running several times a week and a long run on the weekend. I enjoy the time on the trail and I love having a running routine.

During the last leg of this journey, completing the marathon itself, I am dedicating a mile to friends and family who have encouraged or inspired me along the way. Also, at my pace, it will take 5+ hours to finish the race and I need something to think about on the course besides the pain in my ankles or legs.

Mile 10 is dedicated to YOU, virtual friends, who are wonderful writers, genuine, bright, hilarious and incredibly kind. So please send positive thoughts my way the day of the race between 7 am and 1 pm. If you'd like to send something positive my way between now and race day, post a comment and I'll carry it with me in my heart and mind during the marathon.

I appreciate your support in recent months and for reading my little blog. I'll try to post about the race Sunday evening. Thanks again for your encouragement!

08 April 2011

400:25 Week 1 and 2

Running is going well, I'm making progress on the 400 mile goal and the training schedule is just right. I've had to switch running days this week due to work, running 3 days in a row is not ideal but okay since I'm not running long distances yet and falling into the routine.

I haven't been tracking my pace closely but estimate I'm running a 10 minute mile. I might add wind sprints into the workout to increase my pace or perhaps that will happen naturally overtime. I took my first swim lesson last Sunday, to learn strokes and how to swim laps, so I might substitute swimming for running on the trail as temperatures rise in summer. It's going to be 90 degrees in Austin this weekend.

Week 1
Sunday - 4 miles
Tuesday - 2 miles
Thursday - 2 miles
Saturday - 2 miles

Week 2
Monday - 4 miles
Thursday - 2 miles
Friday (planned) - 2 miles
Saturday (planned) - 2 miles

The weather is ideal in Austin during March and April and the bluebonnets along the trail make me smile. Here's a short video of pup Boston in the creek, this is one of our favorite spots along the trail. Boston veers off the trail as we approach this clearing and makes a beeline for the water when I let him off the leash. Boston loves the water and the cool rockbed feels good on his belly. Boston gets a lot of attention on the trail, people are always smiling or saying hello to him, especially people under the age of 12, and everyone laughs or smiles when they walk by and see him lapping up the creek.


Have a great weekend, enjoy Spring!

27 March 2011

Day One

Today marks the first day of the 400 miles in 25 weeks journey!

I got up early and took Boston to the trail to take a portrait of us in a patch of bluebonnets (and updated my blog profile photo). It was 90 degress in Austin yesterday but a cool 55 degrees at sunrise and overcast today. I love overcast days, they are rare in Austin and a cloudy, gray sky is great lighting for photos.

For the photo, I wore a new white dress with yellow ribbons from Anthropologie and sandals. Boston is such a good pup, he waited patiently as I set up the tripod and took photos using the timer. He didn't move from where I placed him in the bluebonnets, even when runners, cyclists and people walking their dogs walked by. Then I went home and changed into running clothes and headed back to the trail.

Boston and I started at the 0.0 mile marker and ran a 4 mile loop (4 miles total). My pace is not terrible, but certainly not an 8 minute mile but I'm not really worried about pace. It's not a race, rather a journey. The run this morning was a great start, the weather was perfect, bluebonnets dotted the trail and I could breathe in the sweet smell of other wildflowers. I felt really good on the run.

21 March 2011

400 miles: 25 weeks

Professionally, I'm an analyst and use data and metrics to make decisions or enable management to do so. In my last post personal crisis "data" was organized, the foregone conclusion was: I'm in pain, experiencing anxiety and under emotional distress. Yet functional enough to gather data about it.

Today, I felt awful and there was another incident of sitting at my desk when a wave of anxiety and emotion took over. As tears welled, I glanced at my calendar to ensure I didn't have any meetings, then grabbed my keys and headed for the parking lot. I quietly cried for an hour in a park near the office.

At the park I kept thinking: I wish I were someone else. Which is sort of like a 5 year old asking Santa for a unicorn, isn't it? I can't be someone else but I can transform, evolve and cope.

So tonight, I came home and made a plan. I've made plans or lists throughtout the grieving process, it helps prevent my emotions from taking over.
The photo shows a rough outline of my plan to run 400 miles in 25 weeks.
Pup Boston and I spend a lot of time at the trail and park near the neighborhood. Austin truly is a young and fit city, so there are trails like this all over town. This trail is 6.75 miles in length, so my goal is to run the 14 mile loop by this Fall.

I'll start out running 10 miles a week for a month - 2 miles @ 3 times a week and a longer run on the weekend. The next month, I'll run 12 miles a week and increase the length of the longer ru gradually over time each month. By September, I'll be running 22 miles a week and reach the goal of 14 miles on the weekend. I've run a 20K and half-marathon before, years ago now, but I know this is an attainable goal. It's not about a race, rather routine and taking care of me and Boston.
Due to my work, I can tell you the volatility of Supply Chain projects, average project duration, forecasted effort for developers and testers for a global project and actual effort associated with compliance work in the I/T portfolio of a Fortune 500 company. I cannot tell you how many miles one must run to get over a failed marriage.

I hope it is less than or equal to 400.

25 October 2010

2010 Movie Reviews

I love movies and spend a lot of time reading reviews and Oscar buzz, adding to my queue of must-see "classics" and, of course, watching movies. My friend Linwood and I talk about movies all the time, his favorite genre is epics and I cannot see enough classic films. Here are some of my thoughts on films I've seen recently:

A Single Man.

Details: A drama set in S. California a month after the Cuban Missile crisis. Starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore in a supporting role, directorial debut of Tom Ford, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood.

Review: Colin Firth was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar and awarded the BAFTA for Best Actor for this role. His performance is amazing, which is expected from such a gifted actor. I love Colin Firth, in this role he portrays the full range of emotion - from simple joy, deep sadness to border-line crazy. He keeps the audience interested in the story and you feel what he is feeling, even though you don't always understand why or what is going to happen next. Julianne Moore's part is small but she does so much with it - adding whimsy and a splash of darkness. I like movies like this - with a simple plot centered around a love story and ordinary life but extraordinary circumstances.

The Town.

Details: A crime thriller set in the neighborhood of Charlestown in Boston MA, present day. Ben Affleck writes, directs and stars in the film along with Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Chris Cooper and Blake Lively. Adapted from Chuck Hogan's novel Prince of Thieves.

Review: I knew this movie was about bank robbery and a group of thieves, so I was prepared for violence, action and suspense. I don't like scary movies (anything with violence), so this isn't a movie I'd watch again but I liked it. Ben Affleck's performance was good - I found myself rooting for a happy ending for him and loved the dramatic moments that were also humorous. Jeremy Renner's performance was perfection. Jon Hamm was very vanilla - and I couldn't help but expect him to hook-up with every female character he shared the screen with - just as Don Draper would do. Rebecca Hall was very good, I found myself watching her in every scene she was in and sympathized with her character. I saw similarities with Good Will Hunting, which Ben Affleck wrote with Matt Damon of course, because the story centered around a Boston neighborhood and dialect, friends with limited means who became family and dark, twisted relationships between characters.

The Social Network.

Details: One part drama, one part bio-pic and loosely based on a true story about the founding of the social networking website Facebook (2000's, Cambridge MA and California). Directed by David Fincher, ensemble cast of Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Brenda Song, Armie Hammer, Max Minghella and Rooney Mara. Written by the genius Aaron Sorkin, adapted from Ben Mezrich's 2009 nonfiction book The Accidental Billionaires.

Review: The first scene is classic Aaron Sorkin and gets the audience's attention which carries through the entire film. The performances from the ensemble cast were great and didn't overshadow the plot. It was ironic for Justin Timberlake, a musician and artist, to portray the founder Napster (enabling the public to "steal" music from Justin Timberlake and the music industry). Without Aaron Sorkin's script, I think this movie would have been average and the writing and actor's performances make it great. It's a fun movie and a very interesting story.

Classic films I watched this year:
Laurence of Arabia: I wouldn't say I hated it, but I wouldn't watch it again. The cinematography was amazing. Pete O'Toole's performance was memorable. While it is an epic film and nicely done, I don't agree this is "one of the most influential films" of cinema history. For starters, there is not a single female character in the film, which bothered me and made the film, honestly, boring. This movie just rubbed me the wrong way.

Hud: A 1963 Western, with fantastic performances by Paul Newman and Patricia Neal. Westerns aren't my favorite genre, so I didn't love this movie. Being from Texas, although I don't live on a ranch, the plot was very disturbing.

Cool Hand Luke: A 1967 drama starring Paul Newman. I absolutely hated this movie, which is not to say it was poorly written or the acting was bad rather this is not my kind of movie. The cinematography was stunning, I loved the shot of the landscape reflecting in the ruthless prison guard's sunglasses. Paul Newman's performance was wonderful, but I was completely traumatized by the plot and some of the violent scenes. It's not really a violent movie, but I am a wimp and several scenes were just terrible for me to watch. Similar to Laurence of Arabia, there was not room for female characters in the story.