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Archive for December, 2011

Before I left New York for Michigan I picked two books to take with me, Deep Survial by Laurence Gonzales and Running the Edge by Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano. Being here for a few days now I have to laugh at the perfect combination of my choice.

It is not exactly deep survival driving 814 miles with dogs to spend a few charged holidays with the family, but the trip  requires some risk management.  Deep Survival is far more extreme,  it looks at who lives, who dies and why,  in various outdoor adrenalin induced adventures. For anyone who loves to read about the wilderness, adventure and life altering decisions it is a fascinating read.

Next I am into the first 100 pages of Running the Edge by Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano who were University of Colorado running teammates. You may have read reviews that it is unlike any other running book and it is. It is self-help, motivation, spiritual guidance, deep reflection all rolled into one. But what stands out is the runners common thread to reject the idea of living a normal or average life. It  talks about one’s biggest fear being wasted potential. Wow this book is for me, especially right now in my cross roads of mid-life but always wanting more.

I have always had the philosophy, the fear, and the determination to not have regrets on my deathbed. Growing up, my father  talked about how much he hated his job. We would get in discussions of,  “Why do something that you hate so much?”  I vowed then to never be in that position, that I would never do something that would make me profoundly unhappy. He said he did it,  “because of you kids”  to support us and send us to college. I must be really selfish because there is no way I would “waste” my life doing something that I hated, maybe that is why I also vowed to never have kids.  I am not sure why he hated his job but what was tough to see is how it affected his entire life.   I learned some big lessons from those talks, mostly I never want to feel like I perceived  he felt.

For me not having a family of my own is my best choice, I can do what I want and I have. I traveled all over the world, almost all of it paid for by an arts organization, the government, or another country’s cultural department. I have lived  in mountain huts, beach shacks, super deluxe houses, monster apartments and single rooms.  I gave talks and had exhibitions worldwide. I am a tenured professor and I am the chairman of a university department.  I have a second home in another state that I get to go to in the summer. I am making the best choices for me, for who I am. That looks great on the checklist of accomplishments but it is no big deal to anyone who has some passion and a little persistence. It is time for something more.  Enters “Running the Edge.”

Running the Edge is about more, better, and never settling, in ones’ running, education, career, friendships, family, and passion. Running, that is easy to never settle to always chase a new PR. Education that is easy too I love to learn and constantly take new classes.  Career is not so clear. I am an artist, I am  a professor. I am not totally keen on where I teach and I want to make it a better and more competitive department with stronger students and better studios. Or is it that I want to move to a place with stronger students and better studios?  Or maybe I want to leave all together and do something new and different or take the risk of only making art? Or maybe as a money job, I don’t “work” in art anymore and I work in physiology, exercise testing? Then at the end of the day I can go to my studio and make art without having to dump the frustration of teaching art to people I believe are less motivated than they should be? Not making the decisions is passive and I find myself passively waiting for a new opportunity to come through the email to point me in a new direction. Wow that is hard to admit, if I had a friend doing that I would scold them up and down to get their ass out there and make a change and tell them how pathetic they are for not being pro-active. Hilary, you are pathetic, get your ass out there and make a decision to change what you feel is not the very best.

Now I feel better.  I am eager to continue reading Running the Edge. I love the stories that are recounted by  Goucher and Catalano, they make perfect sense to me, the risk and the reward.   What a great end of year reading to move into the better, faster, stronger, smarter me next year. Just the planning of it gets me excited.

So this year in talking with my dad who retired over 10 years ago but immediately went right back to work as a part-timer at the very same job he hated tells me, “Sure I still get mad at my job and I work more hours that I should, but it gives me something to do, some place to go, it keeps me active and thinking and engaging with people.” I will still wonder why that place is not what I would think of as more appealing but maybe it is what is appealing to him, plus it is not my life, it is his.   Now the job is on his terms and he is calling the shots. That is where we all need to be, calling our own shots, making everything what we want it to be and doing what we want to do.

Happy New Year to all the Distance Mavens and here is enjoying a relentless pursuit of excellence in everything.

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Last Sunday artist, designer, bookmaker, creator of all really cool things, Andrew Borloz came over for PrintSocial. I knew I was going to see some really good and methodical working methods with Andrew, or as he signs his email &rew.

To my surprise he brought me an orange rectangular ceramic box filled with homemade cookies. Those cookies are the best I have had in as along as I can remember. I tried to make them last but they were so good I ate them all. Now I keep my special objects in the box for safe keeping.

&rew got to work very quickly. He had made a digital image of flowers, flowers that grew in his front yard,  and reduced the shapes down to simplified black and white. We used saral paper to transfer them onto the lino block. Then &rew got to work carving. It was his first time carving a block and his precision was amazing. He made each  cut come alive as the leaves formed and stretched out over the plate. In no time he was done.

We inked up the block and I had a stack of  nice Japanese Hosho paper to print with. I pulled print after print but they were uneven, they wrinkled, it was really frustrating. After about 2 hours of trying to get a good print I offered to take the block to work and pull the edition. Sure enough at my LIU studio I was able to pull an edition of 16 in less than 25 minutes, all perfect.

Today I met up with &rew to sign, number and date the prints. When I met him at my front door, he was wearing a bright red wool baseball type hat and red plaid scarf. It was a wonderful sight from all the drab black and grey on everyone especially this time of year.

My dogs were thrilled to see &rew again, Conrad throwing himself at &rew and Homer jumping like a mad jumping bean. Fortunately they settled down as he signed the 16 prints. They are really beautiful.

I highly recommend you check out Andrew Borloz on Facebook. I know you will be wildly surprised at his photographs of New York. I have never seen a person with a more keen eye. One day we were walking along 42 street coming from Pfizer where I had an exhibition and &rew was checking out ever cornice,  windowsill, building edge and showing me things I have never thought about. He also walks the entire city, everywhere he goes.  You think I run a lot but &rew  walks across town, from uptown to downtown, from midtown to DUMBO. He walks everywhere, to stay slim he said, but I really think it is to see everything possible. His enthusiasm for art, design, every day visual moments is phenomenal and it shines in his photos  cataloged on his FB pages. By looking at his photos one may think the entire city is one big beautiful holiday decoration every day of the year.

So as it goes will all PrintSocial prints, I always  sell two of  my three prints and always for $35 to keep funding this project of inviting people over to socialize, make art, and have a really positive experience. Thank you &rew for joining me.

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I have this compulsion to study everything I am interested in, not just read books about  subjects like running and nutrition, but get degrees in the subjects. (as a professor at the university I get to take classes for free)  Today I am studying for my final in nutrition, one more class toward my M.S. in Exercise Physiology with a concentration in Sports Nutrition. I know just enough about gluconeogenesis, glycolysis, glycogenolysis, beta-oxidation,  carboxylic acid groups and amine groups  to make me dangerous.  I need a little break.

On Sunday at the NYRR Pete McArdle Cross Country Classic a funny thing happened. When I crossed the finish line the marshal told me to go to the women’s award table where I was handed a 3rd place metal. I felt a bit disappointed but more curious as to who the other women were since I did not see the main person who usually beats me. After I walked away a marshal came running up to ask me my age and when I told him he said, “you were first” handed me a new metal and  my photo was immediately taken, you can see my exuberance here. The next day I checked the results and saw I  got 2nd place but this first place Rosa Victor was very suspicious. A 49 year old female ran a 1:06 and has  never run a NYRR race before.  Rosa ran a 7:12 pace which super good for 15k XC. The time was so inconsistent with the other female runners that I thought I should reverse the name and look up Victor Rosa. Sure enough Victor has run 13 NYRR races, all cross country and all between a 6:30 and 7:30 pace. So dear NYRR you need to move Rosa Victor, female to Victor Rosa, male. He will unfortunately go down to 7th place, but I get to be the official first place winner in my AG. I have claim it when I get it.

Back to memorizing  while my rested body goes into beta oxidation and converts  my free fatty acids to multiple acetyl-C0A-molecules though I would much rather be in glycolysis, way more fun.

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Cross Country Success

Today was NYRR Pete McArdle Cross Country Classic, a 15k cross country race in Van Cortlandt Park. It was sunny and cold, a really beautiful day with about 400 runners. The stats are not up yet so I can’t tell you all the results. I came away with 1st place in my age group which was a nice mental boost. I worked as hard as I could, I have certainly run this faster but I felt like I was running against myself, the same old story that I have told since August. But it was respectable,  I got a metal and I am happy.

And now I will try my very best to rest, to not run until January 1, only stretching and maybe some swimming. A big success is that I did not get hurt this year, but I guess getting hurt served the purpose of making me rest. I am thrilled to be healthy, albeit overtrained, but healthy.  Oh man this means I have to eat less, now that is hard.

But I have a plan. I am my own worse enemy, not planning well enough, running too much, too hard, not taking breaks. So I am enlisting the help of a professional. I am looking forward to the beginning of year because I feel a whole new level of running coming my way. So look out my fellow age groupers I feel some PR’s coming on.

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Oh I’m tired. Today was the last NYRR points races of the year, a 5 miler.  I have been tired and basically re-tired from over running and burn out but I had to show up. I met my downtown running buddies, David and Patrick, for a cab ride to the start. That was rather a decadent way to start the day. We got to the park and did a 1.7 mile warm-up

While being rounded up in the corrals I saw Julie, Races like a Girl, Threlkeld. She was only two people in front of me, but I knew once we got out of the corral I would never see her again.  I had to  harass her over our latest FB antics while I had the chance. She ran super awesome today, coming in 5th with a PR, out of 186. I on the other hand got kicked down to 19th! Well at least I didn’t totally fall apart and puke all over like the guy next to me. He puked 3x at the finish.

Honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I eroded my aerobic system with way too much anaerobic work and just too much running from June-October.  Since Nov 1  I have done minimal running.  Then two days ago I joined Five Points Academy. It is a Muay Thai fight gym with awesome strength and conditioning classes every hour. Being the high achiever low thinker that I am, I took 2 kettlebell classes in two days just prior to the race and a core/abs conditioning class on top of that. I started the race with an ass of steel, or maybe it was  an ass of cement. I felt like I was trying to move solid stumps. Ah, so I got kicked out of the top 10. Just wait, after 10-12 weeks of aerobic work coupled with kettlebell class, if I can’t kick some ass I am throwing in the towel or finding a coach that will keep me in line, fit but not over trained. I am so sad that Coach Roy Benson retired.

David and I cooled down with a 4 + mile run back to the East Village where we went to our respective homes and made hot chocolate. yummmmmm.

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