The Woman Who Thought in Circles – An Illustrated Short Story

The Woman Who Thought in Circles

She went around and around about wearing circles. She didn’t want to be too matchy matchy. Then again she did because her mom liked her more when she was. But she liked her mom less when her mom liked her more which was very confusing to her and made her head hurt.

She went back and forth about wearing the jacket. She liked the color and the buttons were all nice circles and she liked nice circles. Then again she worried about there being too many circles because her boyfriend didn’t like a lot of circles. She didn’t like when he didn’t like what she liked and that made her head hurt.

She went in and out of her closet deciding on whether to wear pants or a skirt.  She liked wearing pants but her Grandmother thought it was unseemly. She always wanted to please her Grandmother because her Grandmother gave her money when she pleased her and didn’t give her money when she didn’t. She didn’t like doing what pleased her Grandmother just for money but she needed the money very badly and that made her head hurt.

She went up and down emotionally about what blouse to wear. She had a blue one that was pretty and she has a green one that was strong and she had a red one that was sexy. She liked looking sexy but didn’t like people thinking she was trying to look sexy. She didn’t like looking strong because then people thought she was trying to look strong. She liked looking pretty but didn’t like people thinking she was trying to look pretty. Thinking about what other people thought about her made her head hurt.

She decided on wearing the jacket but couldn’t decide on any of the other items so she just sat there in her jacket thinking around and around and back and forth and in and out and up and down about everything, especially the circles. She eventually got up and took a pill for her hurting head.

The End

Digital Drawings

Simple Drawings / Complex Emotions

I like to draw on my ipad, especially at night when I am sitting in bed before falling asleep. Most of the time I use my finger but I also use a digital pen on occasion. I use an app called ‘Sketchbook’ from Autodesk.

The goal in all these drawings was to do the most with the least. My focus was to do simple visual drawings that had complex emotional messages.

Here are some of my creations, some with commentary.

The Barbed Wire Boy – 2018


The International Woman Enjoying Not Smiling – 2018

I drew this on the International Women’s Day.  I’ve spent over 40 years photographing women and I have combated the idea that they have to be smiling or somehow they are unhappy. I love having them NOT smiling actually because then I am more likely to get a genuine emotional look from them.
Add to that the refrain women so often hear from men telling them they should smile more. That is simply a way for a man to say his comfort is more important than him understanding who that woman really is.


He Was Very Upset She Was Smarter – 2018


She Scribbled Herself Across the Land Scape – 2018


She Felt More Fraught Than Hot – 2018

This drawing’s title is reflective of something I have seen over the years.  In all my work over the decades drawing and photographing women I have learned that their outward appearance, how they appear to others, often has very little to do with how they feel about themselves.  It isn’t always this way but it isn’t uncommon to find the typical ‘beauty’, admired by all, is filled with doubts and hatred for their looks while the one that passes under the radar and is not seen at all much less as a ‘beauty’ sees herself with confidence and strength.  I liked using the rhyming play of ‘fraught vs hot’ to express that idea.


The guy Who Was Always Shocked – 2018


She Never Knew What Hit Her – 2018

Originally the face extended all the way down to where the chest is now. But as I continued I had trouble making the features do what I wanted and decided to shorten the face and add a body.


She Branded Herself The Smiling Liar – 2018


She Realized Too Late She Wasn’t Ready To Split – 2018


He Felt So Stoopid – 2018


She Wondered What People Thought Of Her – 2018

Much of the look of these drawing are a result of experimentation with various pen settings in the app. In this case I brought all the features of this one pen style to their max settings and started drawing. This was the result.


The Man With The Th ick Brows and Neck – 2018

I don’t know in advance who or what I am going to draw when I do this digital portraits. In this drawing I started with the thick brows and was actually envisioning a woman but as it went further the blockiness of the shapes led me to make her into a him.


The Winging Woman Worried – 2018

Sometimes I just have a fleeting glimpse of a person and later use that glimpse as an inspiration. It isn’t a portrait of anyone in particular but it was inspired by a woman at an airport on my recent trip to California


She Realized She Made A Mistake – 2018

Let me know what you think of these!

Marathon Recap – Oakland, 2018

Family and friends after the race!

The Best of Intentions

Last January 2nd I wrote my second Spring Marathon update post. It covered weeks 2-4. My goal was to do an update every 2-3 weeks after that. This is my next update, 12+ weeks later.  What happened?  Let’s see. Cold happened. A lot. Not a cold, but just COLD. Running happened. Again, a lot. Coaching happened even more. What didn’t happen was writing about it. This is mostly due to training just not being all that exciting, interesting or sexy. It really is just a lot of running. I had done regular updates in the fall, during my training for the Marine Corps Marathon, but that was my first training season after my Achilles surgery and it really was a new thing for me. This time around it was a lot of the same.

The other reason is I forgot. I don’t mean I forgot to write, I mean I forgot about the runs and the training that I would be writing about. After the first really cold run I was going to write about it but didn’t. After the 5th or 6th cold run they all seemed to blend together and I couldn’t remember the specifics more than that they were cold. Then one was in the rain, then another and another and they blended together as well. The other thing was I was following the same training regimen I had told you all about in the fall so I felt like much of it would be a repeat. That lead me to giving up on regular updates and deciding I would just do a recap at the end of the season. And voila, here we are.

Otis with his own Medal!


My goals for this Marathon were as follows:

  1. Break my 4:14:47 PR from the Marine Corp Marathon (9:36 pace)
  2. Break 4:05 – 9:20 pace
  3. Break 4:00 – 9:09 pace
  4. Be consistent in pace from beginning to end – meaning no mile would be more than 30 seconds different than any other mile.
  5. Fuel and hydrate properly and consistently until the very end.
  6. Recover properly and slowly after the race, avoid cramping.

Here is what I achieved, with explanations:

  1. Yes
  2. Yes – my finish time was 4:03:41 with a pace of 9:06. But wait, wouldn’t my pace be closer to the 9:20 I mentioned above? See #4 below.
  3. No (and yes). The race was actually mismeasured long by at least .4 miles. My final distance was actually 26.77 (which is why the 9:06 pace), much farther than 26.2. There would be some extra in my Garmin watch measurement due to not running the exact angles, but not by over 1/2 a mile. I checked out the course map versus my tracking map and there was one point where they had us run 6 extra blocks that weren’t part of the measured course. My actual 26.2 time according to my Garmin was 3:58:37. So, even though it’s not an official time it at least tells me I can do a sub-4 marathon.
  4. Yes and No – My fastest mile was 8:49 but my slowest was 10:10 when I had to pull off to the side (at mile 25.5 no less!) with a hamstring cramp and work it out for 30 seconds. Without that mile my slowest would have been 9:12.  Overall, I did a pretty consistent job with my pacing.
  5. Yes – I took a gel every 5-6 miles, including at mile 25 and took water and/or Gatorade at every water stop. I also took electrolyte tablets twice and advil at about mile 17.
  6. Yes – As opposed to what happened at my last marathon (laid down and cramped up really badly) this time I kept walking and standing until my legs were no longer in danger of cramping. By the time I got in the car about 30 minutes later I was fine.

View of San Francisco as the sun rose

Lessons Learned

I always learn something valuable every season and this one was no exception.

  • The Will Must Be Stronger Than The Skill – There were plenty of runners younger, stronger and faster than me at the Oakland Marathon. And obviously those things matter to some degree. I didn’t win the race, nor did I win my age group (I came in 3rd in that category). But what I did do was beat a very aggressive time goal I set for myself (4:05), one I was not at all sure I could make. To achieve this would mean I would have to run at least 22 seconds per mile faster than I did my last marathon in October, only 5 months before. I was able to do it because I had a plan that I worked on day in, day out and I had a goal that I didn’t let go of during the course of the season. I trained until I thought my skill was there, but it was my desire to meet my goal that drove me to live out that plan. The will drove me to have the skill.
  • LESSON: The will to do your best is the key to doing your best.
  • Luck Matters – I have run many, many races over the past 10 years and there have been very few where everything out of my control lined up so I could be at my absolute best.  Wind, heat, cold, humidity, course, injury, – you name it and one of those things will likely rear it’s ugly head. That’s why we run races again and again, because they are never the same and there is always a challenge.  This past Sunday every single thing that could line up to be perfect, did.  My will and skill were strong, but so was the temperature, the wind, the course. I was lucky those things were in my favor.
  • LESSON: Control what you can control and don’t worry about the rest.
  • Estimate Long – I had a plan to make sure every mile I ran was under a certain time (9:09). If I did that I knew I would break 4 hours. But that is if I went exactly 26.2 miles. The truth is almost everyone runs farther than what the race distance is because we don’t run the shortest possible route. We take turns wide, we don’t go in a straight line, or maybe the cones are placed in the wrong place making the route farther. Whatever the reason if you run 6.2 miles or 26.2 miles, chances are your Garmin will say you ran more.  My Garmin said I ran 26.77. That is over 1/2 mile longer than the race distance. It turns out this wasn’t just due to me running corners wide, but a 6 block long mistake the race organizers made in setting the route on the morning of the race. What that meant was even though my watch told me I had run 26.2 miles in 3:58, my actual time at the finish was 4:03 because of the extra distance. But my pace was 9:06, 3 seconds below my goal of 9:09.
  • LESSON: Put a little cushion in your time and distance estimate when you are deciding your goal.
  • Support is Awesome – As you may now, I am on a mission to do a marathon in every city I have a sister or a daughter (a total of 6). It’s a heck of a lot more doable than the 50 states challenge or the 7 continents challenge. The main reason is as an excuse to go visit family, but the more selfish reason is to have support even if I do a race in a distant city. At the Oakland Marathon I not only had my daughter Chelsea, but my grandson Otis cheering me on. In addition Chelsea’s boyfriend Josiah was running the 1/2 marathon and his parents were there cheering us both on as well. There is no such thing as an easy marathon, but a hard race can be made much more enjoyable by having your loved ones there supporting you.
  • LESSON: Invite your family and friends to come support and celebrate your accomplishment. 
  • No Detail is Unimportant – My daughter Chelsea’s boyfriend, Josiah, was going to run the half marathon while I ran the marathon. We got to the start in plenty of time for the 7am gun and off we went. Since the half and full course split before mile 2 we didn’t bother to stay together at the start. When I crossed the finish line 4+ hours later Josiah was there with everyone else celebrating my finish. But he didn’t have his medal on. I asked why and found out he had been disqualified. Why? Because he didn’t actually run in the half, he ran in the full. The half didn’t start until 9:30, 2 and 1/2 hours after the full marathon started!  I didn’t bother to check since I had never heard of a half and full not starting at the same time. He didn’t bother to check because it was his first half and he was just assuming I knew what was up.  He ended up running the marathon route for 15 miles when he finally decided he had turn back to the finish line. When he crossed (not yet knowing the half hadn’t even started yet) he was disqualified because he hadn’t run the half route at all. He also crossed the marathon finish line first, messing up the official timing for the real winner (it was corrected, no worries).
  • LESSON: Check Your Start Time!

Left, published map; middle, actual distance traveled; right, difference in distance

New Goals

And now to set some new goals for the rest of 2018.

  • 2 goal races – Chicago in October and New York in November.  I would like to do both but will wait and see if that’s feasible.
  • Time goals –
  • Under 4:05 will qualify me for Boston, 2020
  • Under 4:00 hours
  • Close 3:50 – which would qualify me for Boston 2019.
  • Use the foam rollers more diligently.
  • Be consistent and aggressive in my stretching and weight routines.
  • Lose 15 pounds.
  • Institute a more thorough warm up and cool down routine.

I will keep you informed!


Oakland Marathon Medal, 2018


So, there you have it. I felt great through the entire race and was very happy with how quickly I recovered. Let me know if you have any questions or comments, would love to hear from you!

The Singer of Pi – An Illustrated Short Story

The Singer of PI

She sang in the choir, always trying to understand the meaning of the songs. She felt they were a mystery far beyond her capacity to understand. But she also knew that, just like in her yoga class where if she kept doing that one pose she would master it, she would eventually get closer and closer to understanding the more she sang. And that turned out to be true. She never did completely understand, but over time she became better at hearing, interpreting, and understanding. She became a leader in the choir, helping the less experienced members learn these same mysteries. As a result she became beloved by all.

The End

A Conspiracy of Foxes – Orange Man #8

This is true, though it can be women who indulge in it as well, it’s not just men.

Here’s the thing to always ask yourself about conspiracy theories: First, how many people would realistically have to be involved to pull it off? Second, how many different organization’s people would have to be in on it and how far up the chain in that organization would the conspiracy realistically have to go? Third, what is the likelihood that so many people will all perform their job perfectly AND keep quiet about it afterwards?  That is why conspiracy theories are almost never true.

In the meanwhile, we have the Orange Man believing way too much of what the Fox says and then acting on it. That is not a good thing in my opinion.

Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman |

“Conspiracy Theories: A game invented for the amusement of unoccupied men of privilege.” – Addison

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