Last week I went to ‘The Hills’, an elite high altitude training camp in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I was there to train my lungs, legs and mind in the thin air of 10,000 feet. Ok, I actually went with my wife to visit her sister, Cathie Hill and her family, who live in Breckenridge. But it is at 10,000 feet and I did go for a number of runs so I am going to stick with the training camp idea.
We had a fantastic time with family doing all sorts of fun activities. We rafted down the Colorado River one day and hiked 6+ miles up to a magnificent waterfall and back another day. We went to a cookout in Denver, then to a Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball game. And we witnessed and worried about a threatening forest fire near their home. There was also a fair amount of cooking, eating, game-playing, singing and general fun. In addition I read about 100 pages of my current book, Alexander Hamilton. However, I still have close to 600 pages to go so I definitely need another vacation.
4th of July Spirit!
There is anxiety for a runner when they face a new challenge. My worries up that high were simple: ‘Will I collapse and die?’ and ‘will I get eaten by a bear or stomped by a moose?’ I can safely report now that none of those things happened. But, when we got to their house and had to climb a flight of stairs I definitely thought any running would include a collapse. It’s SO easy to get out of breath in the mountains! But because the air is so much thinner, high altitude running is fantastic for building lung capacity and oxygenating the blood. It can be done, it just takes patience.
Plans and Expectations
My plan was to acclimate gradually by going a short distance the first day, then increasing that each successive day. Day one was a 3 mile run. I took a walk break after the first mile, then each half mile after that. I felt good at the end but it felt more like I had done 6 miles, not 3. Day two was a 5 mile run. I took a walk break at mile 2 and 4. Day three was 4th of July and I skipped that day.
The scenery made the miles easy
At this point my plan for day five was to do 7 miles and day six I would do 9. As I started my 7 mile run I definitely thought I was not going to make it 7 and certainly wouldn’t make it 9 the next day. It was tough, even when I tried to slow my pace. I took a walk break at each of the first four mile markers. Then I turned around and instantly realized I had been on a very slight but insistent uphill grade for those 4 miles. Once I headed back I felt great and didn’t stop at all, stretching the 7 miles to 9 miles! I was acclimated!
“I am NOT impressed!”
Day six we decided to do a rigorous hike. Because of that I didn’t want to wear myself out beforehand and decided to skip the 9 miler (since I had done 9 the day before anyway, right?). The hike was more of a challenge than the runs because it was a 1,000 ft climb over mostly rocky terrain. That pushed my Achilles and my legs in ways my running does not. I am not a trail runner but I took the opportunity to run a few times during the hike anyway. I loved the hike and it made me want to do some trail runs in the future.
WAY high up!
We got home late Friday and the next morning I was ready to lead Pathways and do extra miles to get in my scheduled long run of 12 miles. But, it was storming quite a bit and we were only able to get in about 3 miles, 2 of which were in a pouring deluge. It was invigorating and exhilarating (I love running in the rain) but it wasn’t 12 miles! I could have just let the long run go but as I mentioned before my goal has been to hit at least 30 miles a week running. So I did my 12 miles Sunday morning before church. It was a solo run, probably the longest solo run I have done in 3-4 years. I took a unique route along a busy street so that I could pass a pharmacy and get some hearing aid batteries I needed. It all went great and I averaged the pace I wanted (9:30). I could have gone longer even as the day heated up so that was a good sign.
This coming week will be filled with leading the start of the Fleet Feet Tulsa Fall half and full program and continuing to coach the Pathways group. Getting in my miles shouldn’t be a problem since I have a lot of running to do just covering those groups.
That’s it for now. Feel free to ask questions or give suggestions about running, training, etc.
We often talk about getting lost in the landscape. The idea is to go out and lose oneself, and I get that. You lose all those society-laden elements that burden you. But losing is only half the story. The other is about what you find out about yourself when you are away from all that.
Here are a selection of photos I have taken over the years that visualize the lost and the found.
A woman named Nancy at the Del Mar Motel who has 3 kids and Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses & always reads the sports section because her dad was a high school football coach who talked about her son with ADHD & Tourette Syndrome whom they adopted from the next town over in Orange County and took to Hawaii on his 6th birthday and hoped he didn’t think he would always get trips like that and who is trying to think ahead about real estate for her kids’ future.
I like to think of myself as mostly being in the traveler category. But I am also a tourist and go to tourist spots, especially when I am new to a location and I like that. They are popular spots for a reason and I want to see them just like most other people. What puts me primarily in the traveler category isn’t where I go as much as it is how I am looking at the places I go. I look with the artistic eye I have always had and I think that makes the difference.
Doing the Act
As an artist I am doing two things when I travel that others may not be doing. One, I am actually creating my art. Both times I have gone to Europe (and other places) I have spent each morning up early at a cafe drawing. My wife and daughters were sleeping still and I used the time to observe and create. I drew at other times as well, when going from one place to another. I have drawn in trains, planes, and automobiles.
Observation of the Juxtaposition
The other thing I do is look for the artistic moment according to my aesthetic and artistic inclination. This of course is different with each person, artist or not. I tend to see that artistic moment when I see a juxtaposition between two or more things. I don’t see it so much in a depiction of one thing, like the Eiffel Tower, though an image of that can be pretty. I instead will be looking primarily for the Eiffel Tower in relationship to a person. Someone at the Tower. Not posing, but being and acting. I have my eye and my camera ready when I am in a place like that to find that moment.
The drawing above illustrates that idea. I would be the one seeing the Eiffel Tower tattoo on the back of the woman looking at the Eiffel Tower and wanting to capture that. It’s not that I don’t like pictures of the Eiffel Tower, I tried to get a number of classic shots. It’s just that the really compelling images, the ones I truly love and am excited to have captured, show more than a place. It shows a relationship between that place and someone or something else.
Here are two photos I took during my recent trip to Europe. Both are good in my estimation, but the second one is the one that moves me. It’s the one that makes me feel like I really captured the essence of the Eiffel Tower in it’s affect on a real person.
This one is all about the tower. It’s pretty. It might be a postcard or a stock photo. It tells someone it is a beautiful site. It’s me as a tourist trying to get a great photo of an iconic site.
This is about the affect the tower has on someone. It is telling the hint of a story and that draws me to her and what she is thinking and feeling. It’s the one that stays with me. It’s me as a traveler finding out about the people of the world.
Which are you?
What do you all think? How are you a tourist and/or a traveler when you go some place new? What do you see that you think others may miss when they are in a new place?
I have started to Periscope myself drawing my napkins and sketchbook drawings. This one ended with a really cool revelation that I want to tell you about.
I drew the quote and the tree with the snake first. It was to be about travel since I had just gotten back from our London/Paris adventure. One of the people watching suggested I have the quote go around in a circle and I adapted that idea to have the first half go across the top and down the side. But then I decided to make the second have a more traditional bubble so it would be easier to read.
My Thought Process
I came back 2 days later and, while scoping, talked about how to illustrate the quote. I thought of what would symbolize ‘the end’ and the idea of a hammock, the ultimate resting spot, would be cool to bracket the bottom. I have an actual hammock in my backyard so I decided to draw in stripes as mine has, plus they would help create the bottom curve holding the image in. The hammock would be empty since the quote is about the journey is what matters in the end, not the end, right?
I decided to draw someone walking, perhaps just having gotten up from the hammock. She was naked at first. I drew the path up to a mountain and then was a bit stuck. What was going to happen behind her? The idea came to me that maybe the path could be never ending, leading off behind her to perhaps the same place she will find going forward.
Breaking out of a Pattern
Right about then someone said maybe the middle area between the path could be a body of water. One of the things I like about Periscoping is that people through out their ideas and it sort of breaks me out of my typical drawing response. I have the type of water I draw, the type of mountains, of people etc. So it’s fun when someone suggests something that makes me view the possibilities a bit different. So, that is what I did, I drew the middle area being a body of water, like a bay or lagoon.
All this was done before any coloring took place (except the tree and snake on the side).
Conscious Choices, Unconscious Results
Once I had the stripes on the hammock the idea came to me to make it a rainbow. This wasn’t hard to come up with since the marriage equality ruling had just come down from the Supreme Court the day before.
Then I had to decide whether to keep the walker naked or not. It really made no sense given the quote and the image so I drew in shoes, shorts and a top. I wanted her to pop so I made her shorts red. I had a lot of green and blue in the background so I was trying to figure out the top, considering purple. But in the end I thought a darker blue would still stand out and colored it in.
Then I had to decide what color to make the walker. I put the drawing up for the periscopers to see and when I did that, and was able to see it on the screen it hit me. The walker was red, white and blue. And what is coming up this week? 4th of July. At that moment the whole drawing changed. It wasn’t just a walker journeying. It was an American. And it was the American journey into and beyond Marriage equality.
Good Art is More than the Artist Intends
I had no intention AT ALL for it to be about that. None of my choices were consciously leading to that. But I went with the unconscious flow, my creative choice flow and it came out to be something I believe in but didn’t intend.
I love that about art.
You can find me on Periscope daily. I am @thenapkindad there and on twitter.
Quote by Earnest Hemingway, 1899-1961, American author
We have moved on to Paris in our epic adventure. We are staying in an Airbnb apartment, just like we did in London. This apartment is on the Rue de Dames, right off of Place de Clichy. There is a cafe right at Place de Clichy called Le Petit Poucet. I sat there two mornings and drew the scene I had in front of me.
As it says, the story is made up. I have no idea who either of them are in reality but that is the fun of storytelling. I catch glimpses of things and build them into a tale that makes some sort of sense to me at the time.
Here is a photo of the women and the space. The woman on the right is obscured by the man but he left before I started drawing.
Le Petit Poucet, Place de Clichy, Paris
This one was fun because the woman eating in the background noticed me drawing and came over. She introduced herself and as I was periscoping, introduced herself to all my followers as well.
Here are the 2 edited periscope videos I did of drawing this scene. Each one is about 7 minutes. The second one is where she comes over.
Here is the photo I took of her and myself.
Train from Versailles
On the way home from Versailles (not the best experience, too crowded) we relaxed on the train. Caitlin was trying to find WiFi access on her phone and I took advantage of the rest time to draw her. We changed seats right in the middle of the drawing due to Linda not wanting to listen to two vapid girls next to us closing the window and talking about stupid stuff. I had been set to draw this one person behind my daughter but we moved so I drew this Japanese girl instead. She was at a different angle, farther away from Caitlin than the person at the earlier location so I moved her a bit closer so I could get her in. That is why they don’t look like they are facing the same direction on the train. That doesn’t really matter but I thought you might like to see my decision-making process in action.
Charles De Gaulle Airport
I drew her after we arrived at our gate at De Gaulle Airport for our journey home. I knew I had to draw her fast since our plane would be boarding any minute. She looked elegant and refined and I wanted to capture that with a simple line. We talked and I gave her and her friend my card so she could connect later to see the drawing if she wanted to.
We never talked about what she was doing in Paris so when it came time to tell the story I imagined a romantic scenario for her. Part of it was based on a kind man that helped us in the train station in Britain. I just imagined her being the person who met him and what might have happened.
Most people, by the way, never end up contacting me. Many do though and I like to think they enjoy seeing themselves in a drawing published on a blog. I often wonder about those I draw, if they ever wonder about
This week we have been on vacation in Europe. We just finished 5 days in London and are now on the EuroStar train to Paris for another 5 days.
During the international portion of our flight to London I sat next to this woman. She was frenetic pack rat who made her nest in the seat next to mine. It was pretty humorous. I felt like I was watching a Discovery Channel documentary on the odd nesting habits of humans.
We stayed at an Airbnb apartment in the Lavender Hill area of London. Each morning before my wife and daughter were awake I went to a little coffee shop, Il Molino, had a Caffe Mocha, a pastry and drew the people around me.
The Barista Libusa
The first drawing I did was of a customer ordering something from the barista. A bit later I showed the barista the drawing that I had done of her. She was very happy seeing the drawing. The barista’s name was Libusa. This was at the same time I ordered tea and croissants to bring back to the apartment for Linda and Caitlin. I tried to pay, but couldn’t due to having forgot my wallet back at the apartment. I offered to leave my iPad with Libusa to guarantee I would come back but she was fine with me going to get it without doing that.
Here is an edited Periscope video that shows me doing the drawing.
The Dreamer Giada
When I returned with my wallet I drew a young woman eating her oatmeal at a table nearby. She finished up and left and I continued to draw the rest of the scene.
While I drew I Periscoped live. Periscoping is live video broadcasting with texting interaction. In other words while I am on the air people can watch me draw, I can talk to them, and they can text comments, questions, etc. to me (and each other). The texts scroll up the screen and slowly disappear.
I was showing them this drawing and asking what I should write about her in my little space I reserved for the story. One my followers, @VictoriajamesUK said she should be in love and be waiting for her lover to return. Later Victoria told us that her husband was away inn Scotland and she was waiting for him to return and that was why she said that. In honor of her I put the initials VJ on the model’s shirt.
A bit later I showed Libusa the drawing that I had done of the woman eating the oatmeal, and told her I didn’t get to show it to the woman because she left quickly. The second Barista standing behind the counter said,”Oh, that is ME! I didn”t leave, I just went behind the counter.” She was even more excited about having been drawn than Libusa was. Her name was Giada. I later took a photo of her with her drawings.
Here is an edited Periscope video of me doing the drawing.
The Customer with Crutches
The next morning I returned to Il Molino and drew again. This time their was a woman with a pair of crutches that caught my eye and I drew and periscoped until Linda and Caitlin came to pick me up before we headed out for a day of sightseeing. She left quickly and I wasn’t able to get her name. I wasn’t too pleased with the drawing and realized that even though I love to periscope as I draw I still need to keep my creative process intact and not get too distracted talking to others. It’s learning process no doubt!
The Periscoping Self-Portrait
On our final day in London I didn’t have anyone in the coffee shop to draw so I drew myself periscoping. I scope using my iPad. I prop it up far enough away so the drawing can be seen as I create it. I highly recommend you get and use the app for your phone or ipad. It’s fun and insightful. You can find me at @thenapkindad.
The Inanimate Wish
And finally I did a drawing that was only partially based on what I was seeing. I had the coffee and pastry in front of me but the bus was made up obviously. Just a fun goofy drawing, more like my napkins to end my time in London.
I am off on a travel adventure. I will post here, on twitter and FB. I will also be periscoping so if you have periscope find me at @thenpakindad and follow me, ok? Then try and figure out where I am, ok?
Remember, the first step in having an adventure is buying the ticket. Without investing, deciding, there won’t be any adventure. Second step? Get on the train! or the boat, or plane, or sled or whatever. Take the step, take the ride!
She was sitting across from the man, staring out at the planes landing and taking off. He observed her in between checking his email, an intriguing diversion from the drudgery of catching up with a week’s worth of business.
She was sunburnt head to toe, glowing a deep orange/red. Her hair swept back from her forehead in cornrows to an arc as if she had a headband on, but she didn’t. From there her hair fell in tight, sharp waves to her shoulders. Her top plunged low, revealing a long expanse of skin, mottled and pealing. It had that rich deep tone that said she’d spent many a day in the sun. There was the faintest view of a tanline at the edge of the blouse, but even that area was dark, as if she had taken her straps down every time she had laid out to sun.
She had on a colorful print top, bright blue jeans rolled up halfway up her calves. Her calves were well defined and she had on a new pair of running shoes. She sat upright but not stiff, holding her purse as it nestled on top of a woven basket bag that she had obviously bought while in Mexico.
I turned 60 last month and posted ’60 at 60′, a sort of list of things I want to do this year. One on the list was ‘visit 6 new places’ and I am at #1 on that list this week.
I am in Punta Mita, Mexico. It’s north of Puerto Vallarta by about 45 minutes. I was raised in San Diego, California as a young boy but surprisingly never went farther into Mexico than Tijuana. So this is my first time beyond the border.
I am here with my wife, her brother and sister, and their spouses. The 6 of us have wanted to do something like this for a while and two of us turning 60 was enough of an excuse to make it happen.
It’s an all-inclusive resort, Iberostar. I was a bit worried about that since my preference would be to experience Mexico more directly than through this filter. But it’s turned out to be better than expected and very easy, something a few our party really wanted.
The key for me so far has been to choose as authentic a direction among my choices as I can. This means that while the restaurants and buffets do have ‘American’ food they also have pretty amazing Mexican food choices as well. I continue to choose those.
We’ve been on one excursion so far, to Islas Mariettas, two islands off the coast of Punta Mita. One has a hidden beach you have to swim through a cave to get to. It really isn’t hidden, a lot of tourists go to it, but that’s ok, it was a cool experience and not that crowded in the morning.
So, Here’s an example of ‘authentic’. When we got off the boat I had to go to the bathroom and didn’t want to wait until after the bouncy drive back to the hotel. The little spot filled with fisherman and others, music, smells, carts, dogs, fishing nets and beer bottles. The bathroom was not going to be the sterilized American style, I knew that much. But it was the best smelling urinal I had been in in a long time due to their life hack of throwing their used limes into it to compensate for the smell. It’s been my favorite part of the trip so far.