50K turned Marathon Skyline to the Sea

start-of-stts

What a crazy but fun race! I was really looking forward to this 50K even though I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared.  I realized at the last minute I didn’t buy a bus/shuttle ticket and had a mini freak out 2 days before the race. Luckily I have a large group of amazing ultra runners who stepped up and offered me rides, it was so amazing for me to see and feel the love. I was really humbled by the amount of people who offered to help me out. I am so very lucky!

I have been running for just over 3 years and this would have been my 4th 50K. This was not to be the day for me however. I started off strong and felt great! I was nervous because there was a 4 hour cut off to reach the first 16 miles. I decided to push really hard to get to that cut off and was keeping a great pace for the first 9 miles. All of a sudden my stomach started acting up. I had to make quite a few “pit stops” and lost quite a bit of time.

I tried to keep on pushing but I missed the cut off by an hour.

during-stts

The race directors require everyone who misses the cutoff to drop down to the marathon distance; I was completely prepared for that once I realized I was going to miss the cutoff.  I got some extra love, help and ice (due to the heat) from an amazing friend at that aid station. I decided I was going to try to beat the cut off again for the finish and really push myself the rest of the 10+ miles to the finish. I was at mile 16 at hour 5 and there originally was an 8 hour cutoff but the race directors changed it to 9 hours. I still wanted to beat the 8 hour cut off for myself.

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Off I went into the hills of Saratoga and Santa Cruz. The next 5 miles were the most difficult portion of the course for me. A lot of down hill, single track and loads and loads of roots. During a past 50K in Muir Woods those roots got the better of me so I wanted to be extremely careful but push myself at the same time. It felt great to be able run 21 miles and stay strong and know that if I dug deep I could finish within my allotted time. I got to the bottom of the canyon with 5 miles to go and realized if I didn’t step up my pace I wouldn’t make the 8 hour cut off. So…I stepped up my stride, hunkered down and really found what I was made of. I kept an easy but consistent pace and made it to the last aid station in plenty of time. I had 3 more miles to the finish and I knew if I kept up this pace I would be fine. So off I went, feeling stronger than I ever imagined I would. I think I had 1.5 miles left when I could hear the finish line with people crossing, cow bells and lots of cheering. It really energized me and helped me finish strong.

I crossed that finish line in 7:34:26!!!

I beat my goal of finishing in the 8 hours!

I was so proud of myself I didn’t even care that I didn’t complete the 50K. There are always more races. What a beautiful course, wonderful race directors and amazing aid station volunteers (too many to mention). I’ll never forget this experience. EVER!!

What a glorious DAY!

sunset-in-santa-cruz

With AMAZING FRIENDS!

finish-stts

Skyline Endurance 50K Race Report

Today is the day after my 3rd 50K and boy am I feeling it. This race is historic, the oldest running 50k in the US. I’ve wanted to run this race for over a year, some of my friends were running it and I thought – what the heck! I was feeling apprehensive once committed because I’d been injured during my last 50K in December 2015 and haven’t been running at all until approximately April of this year. I hadn’t really been training too much or been getting any midweek runs in since May; I’ve been working 2 jobs. I started really putting in mileage over the past 4 weeks with 5 really long weekend runs. I believe it was the back to back weekend runs that really helped me pull through and finish yesterday however, I feel my hill climbing and cardio sure have suffered.

The long runs I’ve done leading up to this race: Dirty Dozen 27.7 miles with 3 miles the following day. 8 miles of the French Trail (course) and 13 miles the following day. 23 miles in the headlands with 3 miles the previous day. 21 miles the following week with a 5k the day before and last weekend I ran part of yesterday’s course (a part I knew was hard) 13 miles and that’s pretty much it.

I don’t know if I am crazy or really strong or both – I am going with both!

Yesterday came so quickly and I opted for the early start, I wanted to give myself an extra hour of cushion just in case I needed it. I didn’t start out too fast yesterday knowing I had a long day ahead of me and didn’t want to use up all my energy at the beginning. I started with 3 lovely ladies and quickly fell behind them but was quite happy to do so. I kept a nice even pace and was feeling quite happy for the 1st 5 miles. My one friend is much faster than I and quickly was completely out of site. I knew that would happen and felt completely fine to run the whole course on my own. My 2nd friend went out pretty quickly at the beginning fell behind at approximately mile 8. When I got to Bort Meadows Aid Station I knew I had a huge climb ahead and didn’t want to wait for her because I was on a roll, so up I went. This was part of the course I had run the previous week and knew exactly what to expect. It was brutal but I got up and over in 17:51 which is huge for me! It was 1 mile straight up with 405 feet of elevation at a 5.3% grade. Whew!

dusty bottoms

 

I came flying down the hill to Big Bear Staging Area and came upon the most wonderful group of Aid Station volunteers I’ve ever seen or heard. Dusty Bottoms. They were spot on, happy, energetic and super helpful. The nicest group of people EVER.

 

Next stage was into the Redwoods Park, up to Skyline Gate and then back down French Trail. My goal was to get to Skyline gate by 10:00 am – and I got there by 10:15. Not too shabby. I stopped to eat PB&J and pulled by small bag of pickle flavored chips out of my backpack. I walked eating them for about 1/4 of a mile and then picked up my pace through out the whole of the French Trail. It was beautiful, shaded and some of the most technical parts of the course. I was feeling quite strong at this time and passed quite a few people. I was so glad I had run this part of the course a few weeks prior. Going through my Strava results I realized that I PR’d this part of the course with best times for the climbs and descents through all of the French Trail areas. That was a nice surprise. [photo credit: Michael Li]

french trail french trail sunlight

 

 

Coming down a very technical part of the French Trail, I saw this gorgeous view and finally stopped to take my first picture of the course (approx mile 16). The climbing was beautiful with the sunlight coming through the trees. I ran through this part all the way back to the Dusty Bottoms Aid Station again. The next part of the course was going to kick my A** – I just knew it.

Climbing back up and over the McDonald hill was so difficult. It was hot, exposed and I was tired. The climb started at mile 20 and it was a mile straight up and down to the next aid station. Even though it was difficult I kept moving forward and got my 3rd best time climbing that 1 mile up. It was 509 feet of elevation at 8.6% grade. It took me 22:31, not great but not too bad either. It’s here where I ran into a really good friend, boy was it nice to see a friendly face. I’d been running all by myself for the past 22 miles and it’s always nice to run with a friend. We stopped filled up our backpacks (actually the volunteers took my backpack, filled it up and then held it for me to put back on – AMAZING) with ice and had some slices of watermelons and we were off.

She had a goal to reach 25 miles between 6:30 and 7:00 because she’s training for a 75 mile race in September. I picked up my pace and ran with her for the next 3 miles with a 13:00 minute average pace. I was surprised I still had so much gas left in the tank. Once we hit 25 miles she said she would let me lead the pace. She wanted us to finish and cross the finish line together. For the next 6 miles we averages between 12:00 and 14:25 minute miles. It was so amazing to have her there. She really pushed me and kept me going strong. At mile 28 I was losing steam but luckily we had an aid station there and were able to eat some more watermelon and begin our decent. The view at mile 28 was spectacular!

lake chabot mile 28

 

 

 

The last 3.4 miles were downhill with rolling hills on pavement. I was pretty much spent at that time but kept on moving, thanks to my friend. I wanted to be sure to run across the finish line so I kept moving at a brisk pace. I didn’t want to think about anything but finishing. I had come so far and all I wanted was to cross the finish line with my friend.

 

As we crossed the finish line, I thought; There is nothing better than crossing the finish line with a friend! She really pushed me the last 10 miles and helped me see that deep inside I had enough strength and will power to finish this race. [photo credit: Mindy Brown-Lechner]

finish with tessa

I don’t mind running by myself or finishing a race by myself, I’ve done that enough times to know it feels good to finish but finishing with a friend who has helped you dig deep the last 1/3 of a really long race is so meaningful. I’ll always be grateful for her love, support and determination that rubbed off! [photo credit: Sally Arellano]

fun with friends after the race

 

 

Here is the link to my Strava results from yesterday’s Skyline 50K!!! My 3rd 50K! Now, to start training for my 4th. Skyline to the Sea in October! Stay tuned for more.

 

http://www.strava.com/activities/668446577

[photo credit: Oscar Mejorada]

finish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

50 has Come & Gone and I am Grateful

Well, my birthday has come and gone. I am 50 and it seems like things are still as they were, nothing feels or  looks different. I had a wonderful party with loads of friends, good food, and lots of laughter. I think it was probably the best way to spend my birthday. Sometimes when I think about my age it still freaks me out at bit, I think “how did I get here – wasn’t it just yesterday I was living in France and going to school?”

Life moves so quickly,  I need to remember that and live each day like it is THE most important day. I must remember that I have a sweat life; a partner whom I love dearly and who loves me more than anyone has my whole life. I have the dog of my dreams, I have wanted this dog for at least 20 years. I have a wonderful home and have the best job in the world, AND – I get to create art everyday in studio in the back of my home.

Through out my life, people have come and gone – family has come and gone but through all of this I have loved everyone. I know that one day everyone will know how much I have loved them. I have lived my life with respect for others and tried to be the best person I can. I have tried not to judge others and  tried earnestly to live and let live. I know that even through my life’s choices some of my friends and family have judged me and have said and done things that have been hurtful.  What they don’t understand is that the choices I have made through out my life made me the woman I am today. We all have made choices in our lives that others may not understand – but that’s the funny thing about our lives – they are all different. My choices and decisions that I have made throughout my life have brought me to this most awesome place – and at the age of 50 I can say it with all my heart – MY LIFE IS GREAT!

I am grateful for all the things I have done, the places I have gone, the adventures I have been on (good & bad) all the people who are and were in my life – all of this has shaped who I am today – I KICK ASS 50-year-old woman, artist, dog mom and wife.

Pictures below: 1. Me and my partner 2. The view from my studio 3. My dog – Chimay  4. My last art show in San Francisco

birthday pic looking out my studio

My Belgian Malinois playing at Yosemite - Chimay
My Belgian Malinois playing at Yosemite – Chimay

Raven at the Gallery

2012 was a great year!

What a year 2012 was! I was so busy; busy creating a space to paint and giving myself time to do what I love. It’s very hard to juggle working a full time job, having a family and painting. Luckily I have a studio in the back of my house which allows me more freedom to work on my art and spend time with my family. I also spent a lot of time planning.

“Plans are Nothing, Planning is Everything.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower

I spent a lot of time before each show planning; planning what I was going to paint, actually painting, figuring out where the paintings would hang on the wall and how I was going to promote my show. My first show really was exciting, it was a group show at a gallery in San Francisco called 4N5, it was a huge space so I really needed to work out how my Encaustic Paintings were going to look on the walls. For this show I already had a large body of work so planning what to paint was removed from the equation. The show was a success and this is the only painting left that didn’t sell. It is titled “From the Safety of Paris.

Je t'aime Paris

My Second show was in downtown San Francisco put on by the San Francisco Arts Council and was very “urban” I had some really fun times in this show. The council shut down 2 street blocks and the invited artists hung their work in store fronts. It was a lot of fun; there were street performers, trucks with mobile art for everyone to participate and lots of media. I planned how to promoted this show and sent out postcards, posted an event on facebook and word of mouth. I didn’t realize how much word of mouth really works. My planning for this event worked really well too. I only had a few paintings left after this show.

gold leaf sacred heart

My 3rd show was also downtown San Francisco and was sponsored by the Urban Solutions San Francisco. It was an art walk and really fun. I had put up a bunch of paintings in this really awesome pizza place with bright yellow walls. It was fun. I got my name in the San Francisco Chronicle paper and sold a few paintings. The planning I did for this show really paid off.  This is the article in the SFGATE which is the on-line newspaper.

http://www.sfgate.com/default/article/The-stroll-that-became-a-headlong-run-3972369.php

show picture

The rest of the shows during the year were also about planning, and the most unexpected wonderful thing that happened was all the great people I met during this past year. I made me realize how important getting yourself out there and meeting people really is. I loved it and it made me feel so wonderful to have met and created friendships with people I met during 2012. I am working and planning what I want for my life and for my art in 2013, pay close attention it’s going to be amazing!

Thinking Like an Artist

I had a friend of mine tell me the other day that she is starting to think like an artist. WOW! What a great feeling to be able to connect what you are doing in your life to how you are feeling on the inside. I have decided that all my free time is going to be dedicated to making my insides and my outsides match!

I spent a few weekends working on my artist statement and my CV. It took a lot of revisions and reworking but and a very patient friend (the same friend as previously mentioned) helped me with the editing. I am very thankful to her and her help.  I feel really good about my artist statement and think it’s time. It’s time to let the world see what I have been up to and show them that I am indeed an artist and they would do well to pay attention to me. I feel so much happiness and joy when I am creating my work that I have a hard time staying inside my body. I move around like a little kid who has to go to the bathroom. I get all wiggly and can hardly sit still. I am going back to my meditation classes this week which should help ground me. The Saraha Kadampa Buddhist Temple really brings peace to my life, my mind and my world. I am very excited to be able to find a place nearby that I can get to once a week. The Dalai Lama said, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness”.

Bringing kindness to myself and others is one of the ways that I help bring the balance in my life. The balance of myself (inside and outside), balance of life vs. work vs. art vs. friends.

I am going to do it, I am going to start thinking like an artist and put my art out there in the world. I just sent an application in to be in a book. It’s called Embracing Encaustic, by Linda Womack. I think it is very fitting that as I am embracing my life as an artist I am embracing a book that is embracing encaustic art.

Getting ready for the World

I feel like I have been at this for a long time and yet I still get freaked out when thinking about preparing for a show. My head plays all kinds of games: is anyone going to come? Are they going to like it? Will anyone buy my paintings? Will they think they are original and will they get it?

The list goes on and on, but I have to stop and listen to my heart. I am doing this because I love to paint. I want to share what I love with the rest of the world. Yes, I want people to come to my shows. Yes, I want people to buy my work (they already have). Yes, they are original and people so get it. I have to keep remembering that people like my work; they have actually said so – to my face.

Working with Encaustic is very difficult for me, coming from an oil painting background and having control over the paint to using wax, heating it up and feeling totally out of control really has been a learning experience for me. Sometimes I love the outcome and sometimes I think – what the hell just happened? Is is good? Do I like what happened? Should I just leave it? Should I throw it away? I have done both in the past and feel fine about the decisions I made about each one.

While trying to get ready for the last show, I was frantically trying to make sure everything was perfect. Well, being that I am human I forgot that I needed to put signs up for the titles and the prices but what happened was in the last minute I came up with a great idea and people like it.

I have to remember that I may not always be prepared, I may not please everyone but as long as my work makes me happy and brings me joy all the other stuff will come. People who matter will eventually see my work, I will start to remember all the things I need to have a successful show, I will sell my work and my life will be great! If I can stay positive and keep putting out into the world my work, great things will happen. I had 7 pieces in the last show and I would like to share them with you.

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Collaboration – Spray Painting & Friends

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This is My Blog; I am going to be posting my art, my process, my struggles and triumphs. I am looking forward to sharing my life, my art and my experiences with the world. Come along and see what happens. In my experience we are who we are because of our family and friends and so it’s fitting that my first post would be about a friend and I working together to create a fantastic piece of artwork.

Yesterday my friend Modupe and I collaborated on a painting. We began with a large 60″x 72″ canvas and a couple of rum and cokes (well, I was having a rum and coke – she was having rum on the rocks). We sat on lawn chairs outside in my back yard and looked at this big empty canvas. There was a large box of Montana Spray Paint and a cup full of different caps and we talked about what we were going to do.

Half way through our drinks she picked up a can of shock red and put a dot of red at the bottom corner and we were off and spraying.

It was a really sunny afternoon and we laughed, sprayed and drank for 3 1/2 hours and ended with the most amazing collaborative painting. Take a look and tell me what you think.