Friday, December 21, 2007

Plugging along

I finally stuck to my training plan this week! 4 weeks into the program, and it's the first time I was able (willing) to do all three of the Tues/Wed/Thurs runs that I had scheduled for myself. Thursday's 8 miles felt great. I really believe that this program of running 4-5 times a week, varying the types of runs from easy, tempo, speed, and long, is really the right one for me. We'll see whether that still holds true come the marathon.

I didn't bring any water with me on my 16 miler last weekend and that turned out to be a mistake. The first 13 miles were great, but the last three got progressively worse as my thirst became stronger and stronger. I even tried stopping in a couple of coffee shops on my route to see if they had water fountains, but no luck. The counters were swamped with Saturday morning coffee drinkers and I didn't want to stand in line to ask for water, so I kept going. It was such a relief when I finally came to the fountains in the park, but that was at the end of the run, and my pace was really suffering by that time.

Otherwise, my runs feel great. I'm not doing my strength training as much as I should (as in I'm not doing them at all), but I am stretching more.

I have four out-of-town trips coming up now through January. Next week in Chicago is going to be especially rough.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

new ING GA Marathon route announced

The new ING Georgia Marathon route is now available. Some pretty significant changes but a lot of it remains the same. The biggest change, besides starting and ending in Centennial Park, is that it also now goes over to the GA Tech campus in the last few miles.

My training is going okay. Not running as many times during the week as I planned to, but still getting my long runs in. This week I ran two 8-milers, and I'm up for a 16-miler today. Last week's 14-miler went very well. Following a 8:45 min run/1 min walk interval, I did it in 2:15. That's a 9:38 pace. If I could do a 9:30 pace for a full marathon, I would be very happy.

It's a lot harder than I thought it would be to run 5 times a week. It's not that I don't have time or that my body can't take it, but my mind really resists the idea of running that much. I can do 4 runs a week pretty easily, it's getting that fifth one in that's tough.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Baby got back

A few of the sketches from last night's Apache Cafe Art Monday figure drawing session. I really like that place. I met my friend there, had a bite to eat (some tasty and a little spicy jerk chicken skewers), and we both sketched and caught up with each other. I wasn't trying too hard with the sketches, it was just something fun to do while we chatted. I did manage to sketch this guy trying to pick up the girl seated in front of us.

I put together my grand blow-out marathon training plan. This will be my last marathon attempt and then I'm done with it. March 30, ING Georgia is the goal. I adapted the half-marathon plan I was doing, along with some plan found on the internet. It's going to be a LOT more running than I've included before, but I also built in opportunities for rest and recovery. I'm going to try to be more consistent about strength training too.

Basically, I'll be running 5 days a week except for every third week, where I will add another rest day. Additionally, every 4th week, I cut back on mileage (not related to the week with the extra rest day.) My longest run will be 23 miles 4 weeks before the marathon. I'm going to shoot for 9/1 run/walk intervals for the first 20 miles of the run.

The half-marathon plan had us running 5 days a week too - two of those runs were usually light. At first I was worried that all that running would tire me out, but the opposite was actually the case. I really felt a lot stronger and looser.

Let's hope that third time's a charm!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Mother Nature is such a drama queen

Going to the Marta station in Midtown for the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon is nothing like taking it for the Peachtree (July 4th). Kind of surprising considering that November generally has much better running weather than July. But there's nothing like the Peachtree. I guess that's the appeal.

The streets around the station were empty save one suitcase toting couple apparently taking advantage of Thanksgiving Day airfares. There were a few runners waiting in the station - the trains run only every 20 minutes on holidays, and even longer if you want to catch a specific train (like the Doraville train) so there was plenty of time for us to collect there and get to know each other a little.

The conversation between four of us continued on the train - topics that no one other than fellow runners would appreciate. Laura, the weather lady for the local CBS, had run with Dean Karnazes when he was here for his 50 marathons in 50 days. One of the guys was running for a running buddy who is undergoing treatment for cancer and unable to run himself. No newbies, it was clear that each of us was a little obsessed with running.

The train arrived at our station at 6:50, for a 7am race start. I just had time to use one of the plentiful port-a-potties and on exiting that, to see the pack starting the race a block down the street. Talk about timing.

Timing - Mother Nature had that down today too. 7am sharp and the drizzles began. Within a few minutes it was a downpour and the most notable sound was from the hundreds of feet "squish-squishing" on the street around me.

It rained for the first 3 miles, then sprinkled sporadically, and then stopped. I contemplated whether it was better to get dumped on at the start of a race or at the end and decided the start was better. Put it all behind you.

At about mile 6, it started feeling steamy and I peeled off my soaking wet shirt and tied it around my waist. At mile 10, the rain returned full force, but I was warmed up and feeling good enough that it was almost nice to have something new to focus on. I saw a friend from the Wednesday night group volunteering just before mile 11 and called out to him. I was feeling really good at that point.

Actually, I felt good for pretty much the whole race until I hit that last hill by the capital building. I had to coax my legs to keep moving, and they didn't do too bad. I don't know my official chip time yet, and I forgot to start my watch until the first mile marker, but I think I probably finished somewhere between 2:02 and 2:03. Not a PR, but not so shabby for me! I think my last half was around 2:10.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone (the two of you who may still read this! You know who you are.) My favorite holiday is even a little better this year because I really earned my turkey today!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

After months of draught, rain on race day

Great. Of all days. We haven't had any real rain in months here, as may be widely known by now thanks to our silly governor's much publicized rain-prayer stunt about a week ago. (For the record, I did not vote for that goof.) I know we need it, and it's probably fitting that it would happen on Thanksgiving Day, but couldn't it just hold off until noon or so? I am glad that the temperatures are going to range from high 50s to high 60s, but I would even prefer colder temperatures to the sogginess that's expected on Thursday.

Okay, done whining. Thanks for listening!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Running

How much time I've been letting go between posts - it's a wonder that I even blog at all.

Last night I met up at the Oakhurst Running Club for the usual Wednesday night run. But it being Halloween, it turned out not to be such a usual run afterall. One of the runners wore a dress and I regretted that more of us didn't think to do something Halloweenie-ish.

We started running the neighborhood route at the same time that the tricker-treaters were just setting out to collect their candy-loot. There were a LOT of tricker-treaters on some of the streets. There must have been a few organized efforts with some car-pooling involved. There were a few crowds of 20-30 kids with chaperones and traffic control. As we ran by, we received plenty of calls from the candy-givers at their doorsteps which varied between "Do you want some candy?" or "No costumes, no candy!" The kids and parents also noticed our pack as we sometimes had to dodge between them on the street. The comments from the kids "Are they running?", and the parents "What a great idea!" (as if we don't do this every Wednesday.) A lot of people just stared at us, and to those I called out a "Happy Halloween!" as we passed.

The general festivity in the air and the attention we got as we ran along our route made it feel like we had signed up for some kind of nighttime race, complete with crowd support but minus the water stops. And I haven't felt such a part of Halloween in a long time.

Either all the hiking I did on vacation strengthened my legs or the Halloween spirit got into me as this turned out to be one of my better runs with this group. The hills were tough, but just a little less-so. My finishing time for the 5.22 mile route was 44 minutes - that's (for me) an amazing 8.25 minute pace!!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ah, bank holidays. I totally recommend them. Happy Columbus Day!

By late last week, we already knew that Chicago was going to be warm, but who would have expected to hear the reports coming back from there? I'm very glad that my plans were changed. I don't know how I would have handled that heat. How exciting to have such close finishes at the end for both the men's and women's marathons? If you haven't seen them yet, check out the video here:

Sticking to the training plan, last week I did 4.5 miles Tuesday, 7x400s Wednesday, 4.5 miles Thurs, and 8 miles on Saturday. Although this training plan calls for 5-6 days of running a week, so far I've been able to stick with it. That'll change while I'm on vacation next week, but I hope to get a lot of hiking and some trail running in.

I bought my first pair of trail running shoes earlier this week. The store had a limited selection and the pair that felt best on my feet happened to be bright lime-green. I guess a nice thing about trail running is that no-one will be around to see the shoes... and if anything bad should happen to me out there on the trail, it'll be easier for the search party to spot me.

It was a great idea to sign up for a Thanksgiving Day race, since with all of the visiting family and friends over the past month or so and the upcoming vacation - it's hard to avoid eating like a cow.

The ING Georgia Marathon has announced on their site that the races will now start and finish at Centennial Park. There will also be a staggered start by pace this year, which is all good news. I'm expecting that race to be a lot better organized this time. The hilly route is daunting, but I am on a mission to do the full marathon.

Enough rambling for now and onto another cup of coffee. Once all the saps who have to work today get their butts off of the road, I'm going to venture out to enjoy my Columbus Day!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Runners Lounge

Social networking is all the buzz lately... I signed up on Linked In ages ago (maybe 2 years ago?) and it was kind of quiet until recently. Facebook is also heating up. Something has happened to make everyone want to connect virtually lately.

Now, there's a social network just for runners (as reported by Toronto Runner on the Running Blog Family). I'm really excited about this new Runners Lounge tool. I am happy that I can set up and manage my own profile, search for other runners in my area or with common interests. It's still in the early stages, but I'm sure it will soon take off like all of the other social networking sites are. What's even better about this one though is the focus of the community.

The other networking sites almost seem too wide-open - with no real community focus - so there's less motivation to be active. For example, I have a fair number of connections on Linked In, but I don't really know what I'll do with those connections yet. A lot of them are people I'm already connected to on a day to day basis via email, etc. Now, with the Runners Lounge, I know immediately that I can review what's happening in the running community and I know there will be people interested in my running stories in ways that my connections on the other sites won't be. Not to write a super-long essay here, but suffice it to say, I'm excited about Runners Lounge.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I let the leaders get away from me about half way through the run, but finishing 7.5 miles on hills at an 8:48 pace ain't all that bad! Running with a group definitely does my pace some good.

Lately I find that my biggest issue with running is not the hills, motivation, injuries, or any of the usual complaints you hear from runners... my issue seems to be with the breathing part. A few months ago the heat, pollen and smog ganged up on my sinuses, making them expand and block passage of air through my nose. Now that the weather is cooling down, my sinuses are releasing everything they've been accumulating all summer long. A constant nasal drip during an hour-long run is more than annoying.

It's gotta be a sign of true love that MOB and I can easily move from the topic of home-improvements to snot-rockets without missing a beat. While demonstrating the proper form, he says a good blow will solve the problem but I just can't bring myself to let it all spray... especially now that I'm running with a group. Before I resort to that, I'm going to try my own solution which is to invest in a few handkerchiefs to take along with me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My first run with the new half-marathon training group last Saturday was great. The intermediate group is pretty strong but I was only steps behind the leaders coming in from the 6 mile run out and back on Peachtree. The leaders in this group were probably averaging an 8:30 pace.

Everyone in the intermediate group seemed pretty friendly. The ATC's new executive director showed up to run with the beginner group, which I thought showed a lot of support. I did feel bad for the beginner group - it didn't look like they were sticking together as much as the intermediate group was.

Now that the evenings are starting to cool down, I went out to the Oakhurst Wednesday night running group. It felt great! I ran an 8:20 average pace for 5 miles on hills! (and I was still the second to last person in - this group is incredible.) A lot better than I was doing out there in July and August.

The half-marathon training calls for track workouts and tempo runs on alternating Wednesdays, so I'll get to run with the Oakhurst group for tempo one week and meet up with the ATC coach at the track the next.

I'm pretty excited about this plan. It calls for a lot more running than the previous 3-4 runs a week that I had done. The paces of both groups are pushing me but they are not out of reach. So far though (and it's only been a week) it feels great.

Monday, September 17, 2007

As if my blog addiction needed more fuel... now offers a blog service. I'm playing around with it. I don't have any issues with blogspot, but I like the idea that I may automatically be connected with other runners through active... I've been a member of the CRN Running Blog Family for some time and have found a lot of good running blogs through them, but for some reason my entries never show up there even though I'm signed up. Maybe it's a problem with my feed, but it makes me feel lonely to read all these other running blogs and not really be a part of the gang. may not work out either, but I like having something geeky to play with.

Here's my first post on's blog:

Friday, September 14, 2007

It's been a busy month, thus the lack of posting... that's my excuse anyway. My lack of posting of course would not have anything to do with my lack of running or doodling would it? No!

At first not having a specific race to train for or group to run with was uncomfortable and I was a bit whiny about it. I had gotten used to always having both. My enthusiasm suffered for about a month or so. But then something interesting happened... I continued to run on my own, when I could, about 3 times a week, with no real goals, sometimes without even wearing a watch, and usually only going between 3-6 miles, just the way I used to before I joined any groups or had any goals, and it started feeling good again. I actually feel stronger than before - I think the biking has been helping a lot.

So, I'm ready to step up the running again. I just signed up for the Atlanta Half Marathon training group - although I've already missed their first run and will miss their second as well. Off to a great start!

It will be good to have the discipline of a group again and meet other runners who are all training for the same race. Another nice thing will be that I don't have to pull out an excel sheet to figure out a training schedule - all the thinking will be done for me. Hopefully this group may carry over into training for the Georgia Marathon in March.

Within 5 minutes of signing up for that, I found that there is a 10K this Saturday that starts and ends a block away from my condo. How can I pass up running a 10K on my home turf? Although it's a 5k double loop, not my favorite kind of 10K, but whatever...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Today I ran only the second 5K race ever for me, and probably the first one that counts since the first was the Breast Cancer 5K and I ran with a co-worker, encouraging her for the first couple of miles.

This 5K was a low-key race organized by the Atlanta Track Club. Small but almost all serious (and really serious) runners. MOB and I got up early and jogged over to the start area which was about a mile away. I ran into a guy I knew from the Galloway Time Improvement Group, but anyone else from my old running groups was most likely doing their long run today in training for their fall marathons.

I feel pretty good about my time, I would have placed second or third in the age group below me with a 25:56 finish but was way behind in my own age group and also in the next age group which I will be joining in November. There goes that idea that when I joined the new age group, I'd have a better chance of placing. I should have never got older - that was a bad idea.

I was right at an 8:20 pace on each mile split. It was a moderately hilly course and the last mile was tough. Maybe I'm just looking for excuses but sometimes I really start to believe that I must have some kind of heat-induced asthma issue. I'm sure the person I was following over the course of that last mile enjoyed my wheezing, gasping, groaning and spitting. Yeah, she'll be wearing headphones in her next race.

It was tempting, but no stopping and no walking.

There was one old guy at the start that I overheard telling someone that he signed up just to walk the course. He was tall, thin, and frail looking. As we looped back around and came back on the course, I passed him just as he was coming up on the mile marker. The course clean up truck was driving a several yards behind him. The dedicated volunteer at the one-mile mark started calling out the times as the old guy was still about 15 yards away, "18.31, 18.32, 18.33..." The old guy shook his head and called out to him, "c'mon, you're gonna make me want to turn around and go back now..." If I hadn't been so tired, I would have started calling "7.31, 7.32, 7.33..." - I mean if you're going to call out times to someone at that point, why not try to make them feel good about it?

Monday, August 13, 2007

I can finally share the "secret project" that I've been working on for the last couple of months.

It started with brainstorming for ideas of what to sketch or draw next, and realizing that my sister's 50th birthday was coming up, I thought it would be nice to make a few drawings of different pictures of her during her lifetime. It was a chance to practice playing with my new markers too. As I worked on the drawings, I realized I didn't have a good idea for how to frame or present them, so the idea of a scrapbook came to mind.

Now, I've never thought much about scrapbooking. It seemed like something "crafty" and I hate crafty stuff. Maybe it is "crafty" but I found myself so involved in this project that I would happily do it again. It was a great outlet for me - I got to draw, create a couple of stylized photoshop pictures, retouch a few photos, design layouts, search through piles of corny quotes to find that perfect gem which captured what I wanted to say... it was absorbing.

So absorbing in fact that I forgot my mom and brother's birthdays in the process... geesh! Okay, well it's probably not the first time... anyway, without further ado, here are some pictures from the scrapbook experience:

A couple of side notes. It made me happy to see my sister and each of her kids spend time examining each page. I hope it's something that they will enjoy now and then again in the future.

I enjoyed doing this so much that I was both happy and sad to give it up.

Here's another activity I got very involved in. MOB and I went to the reading of a play by a friend and old co-worker of mine. She's been working on plays ever since I've known her but this was the first time that I got to see something she wrote. It was put on through Working Title Playwrights.

It was really captivating. I liked the intimacy of a reading versus the full production. It must be that it takes me back to being read to as a child - I have vivid memories of getting very wrapped up by my mother reading The Pirate don Durk of Dundee to me and making her read it over and over again. I was just as engaged in this. The actors were great. I would definitely go out to see another reading by this group.

Her play is called "Fault Lines" and it was all about family dynamics. I won't attempt to explain it, you can read what she wrote about it on the link above.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Air Quality Forecast for Atlanta, Georgia: August 9, 2007

Air Quality: Unhealthy
Health Advisory: Everyone, especially people with heart or lung disease (including asthma), older adults and children should cut back or reschedule strenuous activities. Sensitive groups should avoid strenuous activities.

MOB demonstrated an incredible amount of dedication to running this morning by waking at 4am to beat the heat and bad air quality that we're having here in Atlanta. He normally doesn't mind the heat, but the air quality has been measured at unhealthy levels lately and the best air is apparently early in the day.

Inspired by his discipline, I drank two cups of coffee while he ran in the darkness and then set off for a run at 7am. That makes two days in a row of running for me, which is highly unusual. I got to the park just as two groups of bootcampers were leaving. It's really surprising how many people are in the park at dawn during the week.

Running felt not too bad and after 20 minutes, I decided to get in a few intervals on the .52 mile oval. Here are my stats:

first 1/2 mile: 4.23
rest: 2.18
second 1/2 mile: 4.18
rest: 3.14
third 1/2 mile: 4.25

I only got three in but I consider those bonuses since I didn't even plan to run today. My rest periods are the 1/8 mile I walk to get to the next water fountain in the oval. Obviously I was walking quite a bit slower after the second interval!

I'm only minorly disappointed in my times. I know I can run faster, but running has been such a struggle for me lately that I'm happy just to get out there and run in the first place. Hopefully when this heat starts to taper off I'll feel more encouraged and I'll see an 8minute mile again. In the meantime, I am simply trying to keep some semblence of fitness together.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

I had a better than expected 6 miler yesterday. I've been having such bad runs for the past month or so, it was tough to even get out the door. What probably helped was changing my route up a little. I've been running these neighborhoods around here for nearly five years now and as lucky as I am to have such a beautiful and interesting variety of routes, I think I need to mix things up a bit.

For some reason, I hardly ever run through the "historical" district of midtown... the area between 10th and Ponce, and Monroe and Peachtree. There's no particular reason why, except maybe that the first few times I ran back there, some of the streets twisted and turned in such unexpected ways that I felt a little lost. And even though it is a "historical" area and there are some beautiful homes on the tree-lined streets, overall it's not as pretty as Ansley or the Highlands.

Anyway I decided to run around in that area on Saturday and it went rather well. You can't get much mileage in there, so I added a few different loops around Piedmont Park. I timed my last mile on a marked 1 mile loop around the lap and finished with an 8:30 pace for the last mile. Overall for the 6.12 mile route, I had a 9:18 pace - which is okay considering how unmotivated I've been lately.

I'm making great progress on the gift I'm working on for someone. It should be ready - it has to be ready - next weekend. Once it's been given, I'll post it here. Very happy with how it's going so far.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Vanilla at Half-Fast posted a hilarious overview of the nine types of runs you can have. I can relate to each and every one! I used to have a lot of Daydreamer runs when I started running, lately I've been stuck in a rut with Broken Watch and This is Why More People Don't Run runs. Really need a Russian Judge run though - it's been too long. Check it out....

Monday, July 30, 2007

I guess I'm the one who needs to acclimate... once again I felt like I was running a quick pace, but overall, it came out to a 10minute per mile average on a 4 mile run, which was just as flat as it was hilly.... gotta be the humidity! But I feel good. MOB and I did a 16 mile bike ride on Sunday - I'm liking the biking... it's tough but not as tough as running - at least you get a chance to coast now and then...

MOB and I are going to do the Atlanta Track Club 5k on August 18. Yay! Something to look forward to. And I get to run with MOB. Well, I get to see him at the start line and finish line at least - and that's good enough for me.
I really like this bride's dress... and yes, there's a reason I'm looking at pictures of wedding dresses... these two sites have been a really terrific idea resource for a very small non-traditional ceremony... and

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Maybe my standards are too high, I don't know, but does anyone know of a decent 10k in August near the ATL? None of these are getting me raring to go... I know - it's August, it's Georgia, but hasn't anybody acclimated yet? I may do the ATC Grand Finale 5k just because it's less than a mile away and only $5...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

For whatever reasons and none of them good probably, I didn't run since last Saturday. My motivation is still low. I love the Wednesday night group, but I realized today that while the challenge they offer is going to ultimately improve my running, it's a bit demotivating and demoralizing to always be the last one in. I need to add something to my training, like a few 5 or 10Ks to get some sense of accomplishment out of all this hard training. Any half or full marathons that I had in the plans for this year are no longer in the picture. I'll be scouting around to figure out what else is out there for me.

Today I decided to do something completely different for a Saturday. No long run. Instead I tried some impromptu tempo training, without any training plan in place for what I'm trying to accomplish. I'll try to get around to creating a time-improvement training plan for either a 10K or half marathon. I'll try to get back into marathon training towards the end of the year with the Georgia Marathon in March 2008. (Hm, the word "try" has appeared several times in this last paragraph. I'm blocking out the little yoda voice that is at the moment saying "there is no try, there is only do...")

Here's my stats for today's run.
Time: 10am, Terrain: flat, stayed in Piedmont Park the whole time, ran a mile warm-up and 3 1/2 mile repeats at the running track and a mile cool-down. Weather: warm and very humid, some light rain. Total mileage: 3.5

8.04 roughly 1 mile
1 minute rest
4.11 1/2 mile
2.41 minute rest
4.10 1/2 mile
3.47 rest
4.19 1/2 mile
4.23 rest
8.41 roughly 1 mile

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today's route.
10.30 pace. I was kind of surprised that it came out that slow, it felt like I was running a decent clip, but then - look at these hills!

Around 8am as as I entered Piedmont Park, the previous night's rain was steaming up from the ground like a thick fog and I heard the sound of a bagpipe floating across the lake. There were no events today in the park and not many people out at this time yet. I expected to find someone decked out in the traditional Scottish kilt, but instead, I saw the bagpiper in t-shirt and shorts practicing by the side of the lake. It made for a nice start to the run.

At 8 miles, I had to make a decision - turn left and go another 4 as planned, taking me down the Freedom Path, with not much shade and more hills or turn right and take the shady, downhill path home. Looking at the map now, I realize why I decided turned right at that point.

By the time I came back to the park, cars were lined up trying to get into the small parking lot and there were tons of people everywhere - soccer, volleyball, softball, bootcamps, runners, walkers, dog-walkers. The bag-piper was long gone. All the foggy steam had evaporated off leaving a bright blue sky and a pleasant breeze. Nice day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

8.41 pace on this hilly route. I was the last one in. I love this group!
Culinary inspiration has been completely absent from my life during past month or so. MOB's been doing a great job at keeping me well-fed, but whenever it's been my turn (which has been less frequently lately) the results have been as lackluster as my running (not that MOB would ever complain - one of the many reasons I like him so much :) ). I was getting frustrated with myself because I know that the reason has been simple lack of effort. I can cook better than I have been.

So, last night I decided to get back on the horse and I tried the recipe for Creole Stuffed Tomatoes torn out from a recent Creative Loafing. Was it ever good. And not that difficult to make. More filling than I expected too. I served it with couscous (spelled right?), which turned out to be a good pairing as the tomatoes release a lot of tasty juice when you cut them open.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

12.3 today. The first 10 were great, the last 2.3 were a struggle. I am beginning to wonder if I should carry some kind of gel with me to help me once I pass that 10 mile mark. I usually have a bowl of Cheerios before I go out on these long runs and that seems to help my energy level for those first 10 miles. After that wears off though, I really feel like I am running on empty. I will have to be careful in what I choose though, because I have a very sensitive stomach - especially to sugary stuffs.

I am happy that there hasn't been any knee pain to speak of.

During the Wednesday runs with the speed demons, another runner and I discussed whether it was our aerobic capacity that was holding us back. The legs feel okay, but the heart and lungs just can't seem to work hard and fast enough to keep up. I guess that will improve if I continue to run with them, but I wonder if there are other things I can start doing to help. Yeah, like I have the time for it even if there was!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My legs were beyond tired when I attempted an easy 6-miler on Tuesday morning. I made it out to the park, but it didn't take long for me to completely lose my motivation and wind up leaning on a wall by Lake Clara Meer to watch the ducks paddling around. I managed to jog/walk back home and resolved to try again at lunchtime. At lunchtime I made a very lackluster run up to the Highlands and back with plenty of walk breaks. Not my proudest moment, but c'mon - I did an 11.3 miler on Saturday and an 18 mile bike ride on Sunday.

MOB's right - I need to get a training plan together or my motivation will continue to swing wildly.

Tonight's run was another tough one with the Oakhurst running group. Still a great group, but every time I run with them, there are parts of the route where I think my heart is going to leap out of my throat and roll down the hill behind me. And if it did, I wouldn't have the energy to chase after it. In the end, even though I'm usually the last one in, I'm doing really good compared to how I'd do on my own. That keeps me coming back to these guys.

As for the drawing / art stuff: I'm still working on the surprise gift for someone so I can't share pictures of what I'm doing, but I'm getting a lot done and am very excited to keep working on this. I'm mainly doing pen drawings and have bought some nicer colored pens with very very fine points. Really happy with the results and am finding it easier to draw and sketch more often.

I think the increase of creativity is making me dream more at night. I wake up nearly every morning with some dream or another in my head. That hasn't happened in a very long time. A few days ago, I woke up in the middle of a dream about taking care of a horse. That's a good sign. Usually when I dream of horses, I'm in a good place in my life.

Speaking of good places, MOB and I received a very generous gift from a friend of mine - a gift certificate for both of us to take part in last Tuesday's Blues Beer dinner at The Brickstore. It was a very well organized event, with tasty food and delicious beers. We were sat at a table with a couple of guys who were pleasant enough and one in particular shared MOB's passion for beer and running. I highly recommend attending any of these events at the Brickstore. Apparently, they have an ulterior motive in that they're trying out some menu items for the restaurant that they will be opening in Grant Park sometime soon. I don't mind being their guinea pig!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

11.3 miles today and they felt great. I did the 8 and 1 run/walk intervals and focused on running on the balls of my feet (my whole foot lands, it's just that my weight is on the ball when each foot lands where it used to be that I would land on the heel and transfer the weight to the balls of my feet. I've seen people who run only on the balls of their feet, the heel never touching down and that just looks weird to me.) My pace felt good. Overall, including the walk breaks, it took 1 hour and 57 minutes, about a 10 minute pace on a moderately hilly route. No knee pains. My calves have been really tight the last couple of weeks, probably because of this new running style. I can tell I'm going to have to start stretching more on off days.

It's great to have motivation again. Now that I look back on it, I think I lost it around the same time that I started thinking that I wouldn't be able to do Chicago. I really really want to do that race. I don't know why that one has me hooked more than any other. Maybe because I've always loved Chicago as a city, maybe because I've heard so many great stories about the marathon there. Maybe because I wanted to run that one as my first but then let logistics get in the way of my planning... and maybe that's why I'm even more determined not to let logistics stop me again.

Who knows. All I know right now is that I'm feeling much better about running again.

Oh, I forgot to mention that during the Peachtree, I ran past this guy. Very inspiring.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Finally got a sketch done this week!

I am going to try to focus on improving my technique with the black pens before I think about color for now. A little water color on this would be nice, but I will hold off.

On the running front, things have been getting better and my motivation is improving. Yesterday's Peachtree was a lot of fun, even though I got very little sleep the night before. I managed to run through with no walk breaks. I didn't try to sprint at the end like I would normally or push myself too hard; I just wanted to enjoy it and I did. I ended up finishing in 54 minutes, which is not my worst, not my best, and totally okay with me.

MOB was just after mile 5 watching the race and it was the first time out of five Peachtrees that I saw someone I knew among the thousands of spectators. It was a nice feeling and gave me a boost at the end when I needed it most.

Last week, I made it to the Oakhurst Running group again even though they nearly killed me the first two times. Killed me with speed that is. They are really a friendly group and one of the runners makes sure that no one gets left behind, which is nice. Last Wednesday was a little better because 1. I was better prepared by having a bottle of water with me and 2. there were people running (or willing to run) at a little slower pace - which was still very fast and challenging for me but not impossible. I think our little group of 4 (the laggers) ran at about an 8.30 pace for 5.2 hilly, hot, humid miles.

My thoughts about marathon plans are currently in a state of flux, shifting over to actually going up to run the Chicago marathon (which I've been registered for since early in the year). I may miss my niece's wedding, but they (my sister and my niece) have already indicated that this was okay. I don't think it would phase them. And, it may be an afternoon wedding, in which case I could go to the ceremony and skip the reception. Now the only issue is looking into the hotel at such a late date... I wish I hadn't fluctuated in my planning in the first place because there was an awesome deal lined up for me that I let pass. It's no longer available.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Photo - not so great

1st year together - a blast!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My god, these people can run. I don't know how I can possibly describe the anguish of trying to keep up with them. But the challenge is very motivating (as is being the last one struggling to keep up). Their website says they run an 8.30 pace. Ha! I'll be back. They are a good group, very friendly, and I think with a little more dedication and effort, maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to stay with the pack some day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm not crazy about this sketch done in Charleston, but it's the only one I got to last week, so I have to post it. I realized during this sketch that the fine and super fine markers or watercolor markers, or even just pen and watercolor, would have been much better for this outdoor drawing.

Though the sketch isn't fantastic, Charleston was. This was done in Battery Park. The breeze coming off the bay while relaxing under the shade trees was a wonderful contrast to the warm, sunny walk down historic King Street to get here.

I'll try to post about Charleston later, but wanted to get my weekly sketch assignment in. I came across two new blogs today that prompted this post - Pen and Ink expressed the same issue I was having with scanning from my sketchbook (which was resolved by suggestions in her comments.) And Draw Anyway reminded me that even if it's a bad sketch, it's good practice and a learning experience. I'll chalk this one up to that category.

On the running front, took a break Fri-Monday but put in roughly a 9 mile bike ride over the Cooper River bridge and around Charleston, along with uncounted miles of walking. Got a decent six-miler in today. I've added the core training back in and managed to fit in a number of sit-ups over the weekend to try to counteract all the junk I was eating. All of this along has left me feeling quite worn out. I'm still feeling sluggish during my runs. Hope my body adjusts to this heat and activity soon.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

While everyone else received the news on their NYC marathon entries, I got my Peachtree number in the mail this week. A well-earned timegroup 1A for me. This will be my 4th Peachtree and so far the one I'm the least enthusiastic about. I want to be excited, but running is becoming a lot of work for me lately. It could have something to do with this being the first Peachtree in which I'm not a part of a running club.

There are benefits to a group, but there are benefits to running alone too - primarily that I run at the time and location of my choosing and usually without getting into a car first. But I miss running with other people. Maybe I'll get around to rejoining with some group or another.

I worked on my "heel-striking" this week. I didn't notice much of a difference during the 5.5 mile run on Tuesday, but that could be because it wasn't much of a run in the first place. I probably walked the last full mile. Today's 8 mile run wasn't much better but I forced myself to run the whole thing (with my usual 8/1 walk breaks). I was groaning and gasping up that final hill. Ever since that great 9 mile run a couple of weeks ago, running has been a struggle.

Back to the heel-striking. I focused on landing on the ball of my foot and picking up my heels more. Either it's part of my overall exhaustion lately or running this way makes my legs work harder. My calves, hamstrings and quads made themselves known to me in a big way. Maybe the 15 mile bike ride on Sunday gets some of the blame for that.

Anyway, I am looking forward to a break from strenuous exercise this weekend with a little get-away to Charleston with MOB. We leave tomorrow and come back on Monday. I can't wait. Will bring the sketchbook along.

Speaking of sketching, I've been working on a secret project. I'm doing a bunch of little drawings that I'm going to scrapbook as a gift for someone. I am dying to post them. Even though the person I'm making them for probably doesn't read this blog, it's safer if I don't. I will scan them and post them after I give them away though.

So, here's a picture I did a while back. It started as a doodle of a serpent while I was on a long conference call. MOB and I had been spending a lot of time looking at tattoo magazines and searching the internet for a serpent tattoo for him. I told him that I didn't expect him to get this picture on his arm but I wanted to give it to him as a gift. The tattoo artist he went to knew his art better than I do and in the end MOB's tattoo doesn't really look like this, but it was fun for me to do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This post by Scott Dunlop put a lump in my throat as I read it. Honestly, the first time I glanced at it, I thought it was just another long race report and passed it by. MOB pointed me back to it. It's a race report like no other you'll ever read.

It's hard to imagine going through something like that and easy to understand how it would release an army of demons in your head. It's also a reminder of the benefits that running (and a running community) can offer to your soul and your mind - not just to your body.

Monday, June 11, 2007

This is very very cool. Click it.

By the way, we did 15 miles at the Silver Comet Trail yesterday - awesome ride!

The rain today caught me on my way out to meet up with a running club at the Chattahoochee. 1 and 1/2 hours in the car and no run. Forcing myself to look at the bright side, at least I didn't get caught in it out running and we probably do need the rain.

Here's the sketch for last week. I don't love it but at least I got to play with my markers. I prefer to do people and figures - but I did enjoy playing around with the perspective of this car. That warped, fun-house mirror effect was intended. I was sitting very close to the front tire of the car and drew it the way the perspective appeared to me. I could have corrected it to look more normal, but I liked the way this looked. I think it works well with the colored marker cartoony look.

I need to work on cross hatching with colored markers. Here's a model from someone who knows what he's doing with markers. For practice, I may start copying his pictures or the style of his pictures just to practice the technique a little. It would just be to learn how to work with the markers - not to claim as my own. I don't think I'll post any of those here just to be sure no one gets confused over that.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Currently 68 going up to 93 today. Eee-gad. Glad I don't have a run today, but MOB and I are planning on hitting the Silver Comet Trail with our bikes today. Hope he gets up soon.

Yesterday I found out something very important during a conversation with a professional triatholan trainer. The subject of my tricky knee came up. He asked if it was worse on uphills. Yes. He then mentioned something about how some runners strike with their heel more on uphills and that the shock of the heel hitting the ground is carried up to the knee and causes damage.

Me: Wait - you mean you're not supposed to land on your heel???

Centuries ago, when I tried joining the cross-country team in high school (lasted two weeks, different story), the only running tip that stuck with me was that a runner should land on their heel and transfer weight to the ball of the foot for efficiency.

He said that runners were told this in ancient times, but that the wisdom has changed with the realization that this form causes damages the legs.

This is huge news for me. Especially since my knee injury, I have been consciously trying to land on my heel more, thinking that it was the proper form! In all my research over knee injuries, I never came across this information regarding heel-striking. I am very excited to get out for my next run to work on changing this.

Here are some links I found related to this topic. It was good to find out that I'm not the only person that this has been a revelation to. And that there is actually a wee bit of controversy over this.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Terrible run today, but I'm not worried about it. Yesterday's 6ish miles felt great. Today's 6ish were a struggle but I'm giving myself a break since first, I'm not accustomed to running two days in a row and second, the humidity is cranked up today. Plus it's tough to spoil a beautiful morning like this one. In spite of the humidity, the temperature is nice, the sky is clear and the flowers and greenery seem bright and refreshed after yesterday's rain.

MOB and I checked out the grand opening of a new "gastro pub" at the corner of 14th and Peachtree called TAP. The beer selection is fantastic - off the top of my head, Chimay, Corsendunk, St. Bernadus, and a couple of TAP's own brands brewed by the Atlanta Brewing Company. Many others that I don't recall. Reasonably priced. We'll be back for more.

I need to get a sketch done this weekend to meet my goal of at least one sketch per week. Not sure what I'll get around to doing but look for something soon.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Taking Marta to the conference over the last four days turned out to be very convenient. I never had to wait more than 3 or 4 minutes for the train except for on Sunday. I was only on it for about 4 or 5 stops to get to the 5 Points station and then one stop over to the GWCC - so there was never time to pull out the sketch book and draw people. Plus, I might be a bit paranoid, but I try not to attract attention when riding Marta and staring at someone 3 feet away over my sketchbook might not have been a great idea.

There weren't too many crazy people this week. There were a couple of annoying Paris Hilton wannabe's who got on the northbound train at Peachtree Center Monday afternoon. A couple of girls around 20 with the bug-eye sunglasses, speaking loudly about their globe-trotting plans, clarifying every other word by adding "like" before it. It was "like" nails on a chalkboard to me. I usually love listening to people's stories about travel - if they had been whispering to each other I would have been straining to listen in. I just find loud people who don't speak well very annoying. Worse than the guy at the 5 Points station who kept yelling loudly "if I had a girlfriend, I'd beat her!" Not a great way to advertise your availability, but at least he was grammatically correct.

The only sketching I did was on Sunday - trying out my markers on the nearest model available - MOB on the phone with his parents. The scan came out blurry... but I like the perspective emphasizing his legs coming at me... he's got great runner's legs.

Speaking of running... yeah, well, not such a great training week. One glass of wine too many on Sunday night meant not such a great run Monday morning. I managed 3 miles. Was supposed to run last night but the heat, my lack of hydration, combined with "that time of the month" gave me a poor excuse to postpone it until this morning. That makes it three days with no running this week. I did get a 5ish mile bike ride in on Mon or Tuesday night though. I'm off to run now. God speed!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Even though I've been running regularly, I have not been on any training program since the Nashville Half. Each weekend I just run according to what I feel like. Time to change that. I am going to start tracking my miles here again because from week to week, I don't remember the mileage of the last run and have no way of judging how far the current run should be.

Today I did about 8 1/2 - 9 miles on the Georgia Marathon route. 8/1 intervals with the knee strap and it felt pretty good.

After that, MOB and I walked (a mile round trip) to the art supply store and I picked up the supplies I was just whining about in the last post. I bought some artist pens. I've never worked in ink much but I've been inspired by a couple of artist blogs (tkane and ice-cream monster toon cafe) to try them out. I just played around with them for a few minutes and here is one page from the sketchbook. So far I like the super-fine marker best. I did some color pen too but that photo came out too blurred.

I won't have time today to paint at all. Tomorrow through Wednesday, I'll be taking the train to a conference downtown each day. Hm, maybe I'll bring these pens along and see if I can sketch people without intruding too much.

I want to try to adhere to the advice that I am reading that you have to constantly be trying to sketch, paint, whatever to keep yourself in the "flow" (for lack of a better word) of making art. It really is hard though.

Somehow I've been able to fit running into my week on a regular basis. I used to have the same complaints about that as I have now about fitting in the art-making. But now it is a part of my weekly routine. I want to try to get sketching and painting into my routine without having to sign up for art classes to be disciplined about it. Maybe some goals, like I give myself for running, would help. Just like a beginner runner, I need to work up from some easy miles though. So, for now, my goal will be just to sketch more often. At least once a week to start with. Even if it means sketching these damn cats or my own foot. And I'll post here for some sense of accountability.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The best intentions to keep that momentum I was starting to build during my Thursday night painting classes promptly fizzled to nilt once the classes ended. My model is patiently leaning against the wall, waiting for me to complete the background. And touch up the hair. That's it. Just a tiny bit of effort left and I'm stalled.

Of course I have a good excuse and if I didn't, I'd at least have to make one up. To be honest, I have been painting. I've been slopping a few quarts of golden harvest semi-gloss on my kitchen and bathroom walls. Well, I was slopping and MOB did most of it.

I also need to get to the art supply store for a couple of supplies that I really want, but there is always just this other errand to run instead.

Should I feel guilty that I am sitting here blogging instead of finishing my painting? That instead of just picking up my sketchbook and drawing, I'm googling for information to get "inspired"? Maybe I should, but I don't. I'm in a generally dark mood right now. (Doesn't help that I'm being kept awake by partying neighbors with their drunken renditions of "you gotta fight, for your right, to pahhhwtee!!!)

I wish my funk was because of something more conflicted or romantic - but it's simply because I am getting fat. Yes, it could be related to that time of the month, but I'm ballooning. No, I don't expect much sympathy from anyone as I recognize that my challenge is not as great as others have it. It's just especially frustrating because I am still running three times a week and biking once a week.

I guess it's time to get back into the core workouts which have also stalled and add more interval/speed training to my life. And yeah, maybe between runs and workouts and daily life, I'll get to the art store and finish that masterpiece...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Two good running friends (from the old days - before they left me and moved to different parts of the country) and I all made it into the New York Half Marathon. This will be the first time all three of us have run a race together in years. I'm very excited about it. I'm not concerned about the race, but I hate the logistics of traveling to NYC - specifically, I hate the price tag. What an expensive city to visit! But grudgingly, I admit that it's worth it. I'll have to start researching shows and exhibits going on while we're there. Unfortunately, since we're running, there'll be no night life for us.

I discovered My Maps a few weeks ago and it is too much fun. Here's my map of the most reasonable hotels and B&Bs in New York that I've found so far... the B&Bs came from an article a friend sent. None of them will work for this trip, but they are really good options for some future trip.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Smoke from the Georgia wildfires is hanging over the city this morning. Normally I can see the Georgia Pacific building looking towards downtown, but it is completely obscured today. Here are the views out my window today compared with less smoky day. The weather would be perfect to keep the windows open today, but I don't think I can take the smell for long.

Smoky day towards downtown view

Sunny day, towards downtown view

Smoky day, towards park view

Sunny day, park view

Sunday, May 20, 2007

no more titles

Okay, the Little Five Points art "festival" (was it really advertised as a "festival" somewhere?) turned out to include 3 painters of varying abilities, 1 jewelry table, and 1 vodka promotional table. Did I miss anything? This little event would be quite easy to miss and I'd even encourage you to. Not that I mind going to Little Five just to for people-watching and bohemian shopping excursion, but I wouldn't recommend going just for the non-festival.

We arrived in L5P crossing paths with a hasher throwing a chalk trail on the ground. I've heard of hashing (never anywhere as much as on Paulie's blog) so it was kind of interesting to witness the trail being laid. It got more interesting later on our way out when the hashers-who-follow-the-trail (there is probably hasher-speak that I'm not clued in to name these people properly) arrived on the scene, scampering in various directions trying to figure out where their trail had disappeared to (answer: down the parking alley.) I don't think I would enjoy that kind of confusion while running, though I've heard good things about the drinking that takes place afterward.

A little later, we drove by a "Yogathon" happening at Piedmont Park. I don't think I mentioned that a few weeks ago I ran by a fly-fishing class in the same meadow. About ten students all throwing a line out on top of a set of frisbees in front of them. There is something for everyone in Atlanta.

Today MOB and I rode our bikes around his neighborhood together. I've been on my bike about once a week since I bought it - managing a little better each time. I am still wearing my brake to its nub on downhills but I'm enjoying it more. My brain may slowly be growing "wired" for bike riding, if not for winning. Biking certainly is more dangerous than running. I don't have time to take in cats chasing squirrels and such, but I love the feeling of wind rushing around me and the fact that I can cover so much more distance.

Of note: my left knee kind of pops when I pedal. Pretty constantly. I don't know if I should be worried considering all the issues I've had with this knee in running. It's not painful as of yet, so I'm just noting this to track how things go.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Killer cat

Just the thought that I "might" have a half-marathon in August inspired me for a good run today.

There are so many routes to take out of my front door - Ansley Park, Piedmont Park, Downtown, MLK Center, Freedom Parkway, Va. Highlands, Little 5 Points - but I've been running from here for so long that there are not many streets in this area that I haven't run on yet. I couldn't decide on a route today, so I just winged it, going where-ever the mood took me. I found a couple of new streets in between some good standards. Made a mental note that Little Five points is having an art festival today - maybe will check it out later. [Later, after some googling, I discovered that Little Five Points is having this art festival on the third saturday of each month during the summer.] There's some kind of middle eastern food festival going on at a church on Ponce. Probably won't make it back for that, though it sounds interesting.

In the front yard of a house on one tree-lined shady street, I watched an innocent-looking all white house cat with a pink collar stalk and chase a squirrel around in crazy circles until it caught it and released it again. I don't know if the cat just didn't have the claws to kill it, was just playing with it, or if I startled it.

I ran for about 7 1/2 miles I guess. Perfect running weather today - not warm, not cold, sunny, low humidity.

MOB had a plan to run up to Fernbank and back but his directions didn't work out. Sometimes during the week, we'll run together. An easy run for him and speed training for me. But on Saturdays we each have our own runs to do. We set off together and meet back at the end. No arguments over who gets to shower first because I'm the type that likes to immediately jump into the shower, and his preference is to cool down, drink some water, eat, and shower only when he's ready to. I can't stand to let the sweat dry on me, and as I find myself explaining over and over again, it's not vanity - it's because it really causes issues for my skin. Whenever I do races, I always pack some stridex pads in my bag for after the run. I have been teased about my after-exercise personal hygiene habits going back to when I was playing on a co-ed soccer league. Nothing will ever change there I guess!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Not quite yet

Well, I got rid of the pink streak on her face but unfortunately I didn't get much else done on this yesterday. I was very motivated and excited to finish this painting up, but when the brush hit the canvas, it just didn't happen.

Part of the problem is that I ran out of that nice Oriental Green color that I had been using. I think the background needs it for the model to make sense. Anyway, I hope that all that remains can be finished up without the model. I'm a little concerned about the hair too. It's begining to look smudgy.

It's a learning process! I've always struggled with backgrounds for portraits. They serve no purpose but to fill the rest of the canvas up. But they must be done.

The teacher suggested the following:
- soften the jaw line
- add some more middle tone shading to show the roundness of the neck
- add an angle to the earlobe, it's too round right now
- when I do the background, soften the edges on the models right shoulder.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New York Half or not, stay tuned

A friend who is living near New York for the summer contacted me today about the New York Half Marathon on Sunday, August 5, 2007. The deadline to enter the lottery is today. If I don't get in, they won't charge me and if I do get in, I'm free that weekend. So, what the heck, I entered the lottery. Should know next week if I'm in. Training for a half-marathon during June and July in Hot-lanta. What could be better?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Work from home

Working from home is great, but my officemates never get anything done.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Quote from Art & Fear

Sometimes you stumble across a book that so perfectly describes the place that you are in your life... Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland is doing it for me now. From the opening sentences through each of the paragraphs that followed, I found myself thinking over and over "wow, this is me" and "I need this advice right now, this is perfect."

It's the kind of book that I never would have imagined existed because most people probably don't need a self-help book for their artistic anxieties. It's also the kind of book that I go back to and reread sections as a reminder to keep my head straight about certain things. This quote is one of those sections (emphasis added.)

"Today artwork does not emerge from a secure common ground... Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience or reward. Making the work you want to make means setting aside these doubts so that you may see clearly what you have done, and thereby see where to go next. Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself."

I'm usually uncomfortable talking to people about the art I do or don't make. There are a lot of reasons for that, most have nothing to do with the person I'm talking to. I'm most comfortable talking to someone who I know will not express any thoughts about what I should or could be doing in terms of making art. It's really a journey that I have to find my own way with.

When people find out that I like to make art, they often tell me about someone else they know who makes art and what that person has done. Or they ask me what I plan to do with this; or whether I have tried this, that or the other. I come away with a sense that I should be doing more than I am.

Maybe I've been projecting my own self-doubts into these discussions, because I do this to myself a lot too. "Well, so-and-so just finished another painting for her living room, what's wrong with me, why haven't I got any of my art hanging up?" This book is helping me see how invalid it is to make these types of associations and to feel more comfortable with where I am in terms of making art.

I don't feel any jealousy over what other artists are doing - I recognize that I am not them. It's not better or worse, just not the same. I admire them and I know I have much I can learn from them, but I don't particularly want to be them.

Once a friend asked me to paint a mural in her soon-to-be-born first child's nursery. She wanted a jungle theme and gave me an idea of a few animals she'd like to see in there and left the rest up to me. It was an unpaid work and I had a lot of freedom to come up with whatever I wanted. I might have been doing my full-time student gig at the time. Anyway, I enjoyed painting the mural and was fairly happy with the result so I got the idea that I might try it as a side job.

I found a classmate with a step-daughter who wanted a mural in her room. The father was a former corporate big-wig and entered into "negotiations" over the price with me. I was very uncomfortable dealing with him. The little girl struck me as a spoiled child with an inborn sense of entitlement. As I worked in their home, I felt humiliated, I didn't enjoy the painting, and I vowed never to do another commission work again.

You always hear about making art just for the sake of making art. I thought I understood what that meant, but I realize now that I am only just beginning to. It's kind of like gardening. Just because you enjoy gardening, doesn't mean you should quit your day job and start your own landscaping company.

I've already started to see how this perspective is changing the way I approach my work. I don't feel as much pressure to be creating a masterpiece every time I pick up the brush. There's another quote in the book related to this, but I'll save that for next time.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Getting there...

Only one more class left with this model. I like how this has come along - this is the closest I've come to actually finishing a painting in years. It's funny how I see it with completely new eyes the day after class. I knew that there was pink color on the front of her cheek, but I had no idea until today that it looked like a long pink streak. I'll have to soften that up.

Next week I'll try to finish up the hair and the background, and some touching up on her face and body. It will be the last class, so time to finish up.

It took so much effort to motivate myself to go to class last night! My head was hurting from staring at a computer all day, I felt tired and really just wanted to go for a long walk outside. Then the rationalization on why it would be okay to miss class starts. "You're not going to do anything with the painting even if you finish it." And even more negative thoughts about my talent and artistic fate that won't get the privilege of making it to this forum.

The Emory Lifelong Learning catalog just came in the mail yesterday - there's a class in there that makes me laugh called "What to say when you talk to yourself," but based on the negative thinking that nearly kept me from going to class last night, I can see that there's a point there.

I'm proud of myself for overcoming that inertia last night. I'm learning how to keep an open mind about my own artistic "destiny" or whatever it is. Instead of thinking about what I'm going to do with the end result of the painting process, I'm just focusing on enjoying the process with no preconceptions of where it will lead or that it should lead anywhere other than a healthy, happy mind. Like running. I have no plans to be an Olympic champion, I just enjoy the running.

Atlanta is still in bloom. I love that spring continues for weeks and weeks here. The weather is warming up but the nights are still cool and the humidity is low. It seems like all of the rose bushes in Atlanta have been on some kind of kudzu-steroid treatment - I don't know if I just haven't noticed them as much in the past, but now I see them taking over the city, wandering up the sides of houses, winding in and out of iron fences along the sidewalks. Really gorgeous.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

What to do next?

During the lapse in my blogging, I completed two half-marathons - the inaugural ING Georgia - right in my own back and front yards - and the Nashville Country Music. Earlier this year, I was very excited to register for the Chicago Marathon, but as fate would have it, my niece's wedding is that same weekend. I'm waiting until I get the invitation before I formally drop out, but it's pretty certain that I will.

I don't want to jinx myself by saying this, but I seem to have licked the knee issue. The magic bullet appears to be the strap of fabric-covered rubber tubing that I place just under the knee-cap of the bad knee. It stabilizes the knee-cap and I've not had problems since I've started using it.

I will come off my break from running this week, although motivation is not really present. Having a race in mind to train for is great motivation, but at the same time I feel like taking a break from the long races. Not sure what to do. The Peachtree is coming up on July 4th, but it hardly seems like I need to do all that much training for a 10k. Maybe I should focus on time improvement. Maybe I should rejoin a running group. What to do, what to do.

One thought was that I should just do easy runs through the summer and start training for the Georgia Marathon (full) in the fall. Long training runs are much easier to do in the cooler winter months, a March marathon makes perfect sense if you live in the Southeast.

I have decided that while I am dedicated to running, I don't want to be a marathon junkie - it just takes up too much time. I need to start commiting more of my time to art and enjoying a well-balanced life. Running is great, I love it, but it's not the only passion in my life. On the other hand, I want to get one more marathon out of my system before I give them up for good. End on a positive note.

Not another passion (yet), but I purchased a bike a couple of weeks ago. I'm excited about tooling around town on it and taking it out for longer rides on bike paths around Atlanta. I still have to get used to it - going downhill frightens me and there are a lot of hills in Atlanta. I've had two bad face-first spills in my lifetime - one broke my nose, and the other chipped and left tar on my teeth so engrained that the dentist had to use a plaque scraper to get it off. I feel determined to get over that fear though and enjoy the bike. Maybe sign up for some recreational rides in different parts of the country. I don't want it to sit around and collect dust - it has too much fun to offer.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Work in progress

Still a work in progress, but it is starting to look much more like her. I like it much better today than I did yesterday while I was working on it in class.

I decided to keep it, to examine my progress and develop my approach as I continue with other paintings.

It really helps to take a picture of the painting and look at it on the computer. I can see things here that I don't notice when I'm looking at it in real life.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Art Post
This is the painting I'm working on now - just the underpainting so far. The woman's neck looks very big, and in reality she has a strong neck. She's also got more of a waddle under her chin than you can see in this underpainting. But great face, hair and skin tone. She's also a very good model - able to hold a pose. I wish I had taken a picture of the sketch I started with, it was quite good. It was tough to begin applying paint over it, but teach said it was a sacrifice for the greater good. And really, what would I have done with it anyway? What will I do with this painting? For me, art is an experience, not really an end-result. I'm working on trying to envision end-results, to see a destination for these doodles and paintings, but so far nothing has materialized.

I decided that I am going to try to finish this painting and if I do, maybe I'll give it to the model, I don't know. I like doing figure and portraits, but that's not what I like to hang in my home. And I don't like to paint or draw the kinds of things that I like to hang. So don't expect to see any of my work hanging if you ever come to visit.

Running Post
Since doing the Nashville Half last weekend, I haven't run a step. No races scheduled until the Peachtree in July. I should have a good placement in the 1A group. MOB should too, but he's not sure if his check would have cleared before he closed his old account. We'll have to wait until the race numbers are mailed to find out I guess.

The Nashville half was fun. I gotta say - there isn't a heckuva lot to do in Nashville if you aren't into country music or cheap beer. We tried going over to the Van Vechten gallery at Fisk University, but found it closed for renovations. So, we went to the Parthenon which was somewhat interesting - more from the outside than within. Later that night during an after-dinner stroll with MOB's friend, we came across the Frist Center for the Visual Arts which had a terrific exhibit from the Baltimore Museum, including Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, and more.

I wish Atlanta would bring in exhibits like this. The Louvre exhibit is a joke and the hub-bub about Ghiberti's doors - if you look at the fine print, they're just bringing over three panels from the doors, not the doors themselves. Yes, it will be kind of interesting, but it's not exactly something you can spend a portion of your afternoon enjoying. It's amazing that I live in a city that's got to be at least twice the size of Nashville, and yet they have a more interesting art exhibition than we've had in a while. Okay, I am looking forward to the Annie Liebovitz exhibition, I must admit that.

I just realized that my running post has evolved into an art post.

As for the race itself, I was happy with it. No knee pain, that's the real victory. I did come very close to vomiting after I crossed the finish line. That's happened to me more than once. I think it has something to do with my forcing myself into a sprint in the final yards of the race combined with the heat. It never happens during a race thank god, but there are more people up close and personal at the finish line - including little children. I would be mortified if I actually threw up inches away from their feet. I think I need to give up the sprint.

Come to think of it, maybe I should have stuck with just the art post!

Making art at my own pace

"Making art is difficult. We leave drawings unfinished and stories unwritten. We do work that does not feel like our own. We repeat ourselves. We stop before we have mastered our materials, or continue on long after their potential has been exhausted." Art & Fear. David Bayles & Ted Orland

This is exactly where I am and have been for many years. I sketch, paint, take classes, but I never finish anything and I live with a sense that I have failed the small amount of talent that has been passed onto me.

But Bayles and Orland go on to talk about the difference between stopping and quitting. I haven't quit yet - when you consider that "making" art is a process, not necessarily an end result, then, yes I am continually "making" art. I just stop before I finish and start over on some new drawing or painting which in all likelihood will also be left unfinished. But I haven't quit. That gives me some small measure of hope.

This blog will track my progress in attacking the doubt and self-consciousness I feel about my art-making. Getting my thoughts out "on paper" has always helped me to explore my way of thinking and maybe even push my thinking beyond its current state. I'm going to make a more conscious effort to do that as I track my efforts to make art.

My other interests - areas that are not as angst-filled such as running and general life - will also be a feature of this blog. The happiness I find so easily in running provides a counter-weight to the trepidation about art-making. Although running can be a competitive sport, I have no problem running at my own pace. I enjoy participating in races for the excitement of being around other runners and the push it gives me to do my best. I don't feel a need to be the best runner, just to do the best I can and that is enough. I would like to reach that same point with art-making. To not feel so self-conscious around other artists. To feel satisified with doing the best I can while always striving to improve. To find more happiness in art-making.