Thursday, February 19, 2009

This goes out to all the mushy momma's

Mushy momma's and true photogy's: dig this little ditty.

Bradyn McGowen is a wild man! This good looking kiddo spent the entire photo sesh running around yelling, fighting with sticks, and getting into everything he could. He's gonna be a handful when he grows up but definitely a dude people will want to get into trouble with! He'll be fun..

So Bradyn took a little time to break in to me, but by the end of the shoot he was warm. He probably just remembers me as the tool with a weird black thing attached to his face, snapping his fingers in the air and saying "Hey Bradyn".

This little guy has some striking good looks and bright blue eyes. Breaking the ladies hearts someday....

rocky raccoon training - for those who care

I posted sometime ago about keeping people updated about my training for the Rocky Raccoon Ultra. I've actually had some people ask what type of work I did to prepare for it. Well, for those of you who actually care I'm posting a full report on my training for this endeavor. For those of you who don't, click command + Q (mac users only).

On this topic, I'll preface the information by telling you that I'm not a "dedicate my life" trainer for events. I see most of my workouts over lunch breaks Monday thru Friday, with some other various cross training mixed in. These other disciplines involve hobbies that I am passionate about doing anyway such as climbing and cycling, so they are gravy activities for me.

I'm not fast. But I can go forever. I have a strong mind which is essential for success in an endurance event. It's mandatory.

As you'll see, I spent most of my time on short workouts at medium to high intensity. My longest run was a 11-12 mile trail run. A lot of high intensity rock climbing strengthened my legs, which I later learned would be beneficial on the trail. You'll also see that I take rest days A LOT.

Andy's 10 Week Rocky Raccoon Training

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

where have you been, google reader?

I was in Bicycle Alley on Saturday finishing up with the shoot, and getting insanely wired on coffee, when my friend Sam Duregger walked in the door. I hadn't seen him in quite some time and we got to talking about life and stuff.
Sam is on the cusp of technology, current events, and life (, and he turned me on to Google Reader. Yes, I'm behind. This action is sweet! It's a free application that is set up just like an email inbox. You tell it which blogs/news you follow and it keeps up with them for you. When someone that you follow posts a new blog it essentially comes in to your box as an unread email. If you have a gmail account you can set it up from that. If not, well, I'm not sure what you do.
This may mean nothing to you, but I follow over 20 blogs and it's hard to keep up sometimes.

Ok. There you have it. Run wild.

Monday, February 16, 2009

bicycle alley racing

Bicycle Alley is a rad bike shop located here in Downtown Oklahoma City. It sits in a busy district called Automobile Alley, on Broadway just south of 10th Street.

BA, as I affectionately like to call it, is bar none the best bike shop in town and I'm regularly in their doors chatting with the guys, looking at the rides, or having them tweak up my steeds. It's a regular social occasion...

Recently I was asked to do some photography work for their racing team over at "BA." The Saturday morning we had planned turned into bum weather, so we took a couple snaps out in the cold and headed indoors for some studio action.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

anatomy of the first ultra

Saturday morning, the 7th of February, started off almost like any other morning...

Wait, no it didn't. Back up.

The iPhone alarm buzzed me out at the crack of 5:30am and it was time to get up. Instantly awake, no drousiness, no eye boogers. I'm ready to run.

Let me preface this post by saying that I'm not a runner. I hate running. I'd rather go to a Celin Dion concert. But my oh my do I like endurance. I like to push it. How far can I go? How much can I hurt? What's the next level of endurance for me?

The night before we had readied ourselves, filling running packs, setting out clothes and pinning on our bib numbers. Tape, Bodyglide, Ibuprofen, socks, shoes, hats and energy gel was strown about the room and I stepped all over it when getting up in the morning darkness. I popped on the light and in 2 minutes I was dressed and ready to roll. Now the waiting game for Lucas, Charlie and Kyle to get jivin.

We arrive at Huntsville State Park, just down the road, around 6:25 and it's a busy-bee hub of ultra runners preparing for the day. People are toting coolers and duffle bags to be dropped off at aid stations, taping and lubricating feet, and standing outside the port-a-john's waiting to drop the "nervous kids" off at the pool. I realize that all I have is my clothing and 3 packets of energy gel. Am I not prepared enough or is all this overkill? I shrug it off, stretch for a second and wait for the start.

30 minutes later 200 hundred runners huddle the starting line as the announcer says "go". We're off. Start my watch. I'm running along side Kyle and we take it major easy to the first aid station about 3 miles up the trail; time 34 minutes. Water, gatorade, and a handful of M&M's and we are off, decending a bit into the trees and down to the water's edge of a lake. I mention to Kyle that if we are running downhill, at some point we'll have to run back up. I thought this was going to be a flat course?

At the 3 mile mark I decided that the slower pace was hurting my knees a bit. Time to speed up to normal gait, and save the legs uneeded pounding. Short hills were becoming quite common and I noticed a lot of people walking them. I'm too proud to walk hills, so I proceed to hammer away at them. I overhear a guy saying to his buddy "Seems to be a lot of newbies this year. Make sure you walk all the hills, you'll thank me at the end." I feel like punching his face but instead keep on going.

The course was an approximate 16.66 mile loop that included a couple of out and backs. Very contrived. But it also gave you the chance to see a lot of people during the day. Wooded single track filled with dirt, sand and the occasional rock garden were intermitten with stumps and tree roots. The occasional straight lined fire/logging road. Quite a fun trail nonetheless and bounding between root and stumps was a fun affair.

By mile 7 I'm keeping the pace and Kyle is right on my heels. We feel good. We open out into a dirt fire road and here comes Lucas running towards us. He's flying fast, looking smooth in his 1970's headband and sunglasses getup. He's soaking with sweat, but looking strong and happy. I look at my watch. I find myself running Lucas' stretch of terrain 25 minutes later and realize just how far ahead he is.....already.

At a certain point, I believe at the 9 mile aid station, I take off and leave Kyle behind eating or drinking or stretching. I'm not sure which. I vaguely spot Charlie's black compression socks and pirate blue shirt in the distance. He has a good pace and I want to catch him for company. 2 miles later at the 13 mile aid station I slap him on the back and we take off together. Good pace.

I'm feeling ok when we finish the first lap. My legs are aching a tad bit, but not bad. Feeling good enough to joke with the volunteers. Something about not knowing I had to run 3 laps, I only thought it was one lap and I was done. Whatever. They didn't get it. Water, gatorade, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, banana, stay away from the Heed, quick stretch. We are ready to take off.

It's an odd, and almost sickening feeling when you are almost 17 miles into a race and realize you still have 33 miles to go. 2 more laps. I feel that pit in my stomach as we roll out into the wooded trail for lap 2.

At this point I'm tight on Charlie's heels. He's keeping pace. We are running well, good timing, and feeling ok. Mile 20. I begin to hurt. Leaving the aid station I walk about 20 yards and choke down a banana with gatorade. I turn around to Charlie (who is right behind me at this point) and blurt "let's make it to the next aid station." We're off. Getting to the 23 mile aid station was a test. My stomach began to upset and my legs were aching. In a bit of a daze at times. STILL NOT WALKING THE HILLS! I pop 4 Ibuprofen at the aid and keep going. At some point I see Lucas running. He's not as chipper, but he's still hauling and I realize that I'm probably over an hour behind him at this point. Lucas the Gazelle.

Somewhere between mile 24 and 30 my mind begins playing games. The first rule was DO NOT THINK OF HOW FAR YOU HAVE TO GO. It becomes a test of making it to the next station. I'm breaking down a 50 mile race into 3 mile legs in between aid stations. I hurt. Pain. Despair is not there, but it's close. I begin thinking about work, my photography and things that I need to get done in the coming months. Take your mind away. That doesn't work. I move on to the traditional/cliche "if I won $50 million what would I do with it". I can't really say how long I played that game, but let's just say I had 4 houses, some killer vehicles and a rock climbing trip planned every week for a year. Last resort, an almost drunken stupor. A zone out. Dazed.

Second lap was a beast, all in all it would be the hardest of the day. But it's done. I eat another sandwich, banana, M&M's, water, gatorade. STAY AWAY FROM THE HEED! ...I see Lucas. But instead of running towards me at 7 minute mile pace, he's standing in the finish area smiling at me. "Are you already finished?" - He was not finished. His legs had locked up on him and he could barely walk, much less run. 34 miles was his day. A very fast 34 miles it was, so no shame. Lucas the Gazelle. Also, somewhere along the second lap I lost Charlie . I can't even remember where he dropped off, but I remember turning around at some point and not seeing him anywhere. I'll see him again.

There is a straight stretch of trail that goes for about 100 yards to the finish of each lap. It's eventually the finish line. It's a beautiful thing to run down that flat stretch of wonderfulness with people cheering you and clapping and waiving... until you realize that you have to go back out for one more lap before you are done. A 50 mile loop course is mentally tough. Everytime you go back out you know exactly what is in front of you. You know the hills you still have to climb, the mentally challenging portions of the trail, and worst of all you feel like you are starting over. I had 33.33 miles down, and was still a full 16.66 more away from the goal. I change from my trail shoes to my comfy road runners with cushy soles. My feet hurt. I hurt. 4 more Ibuprofen? Can't remember. Maybe I took em, maybe I didn't.

I'm off into the last lap and my stomach is churning. I come to a dizzy conclusion: I've ate AND drank too much. 5 bathroom stops in the woods (all number 1, in case you are wondering), and the sugars are stirring the pot in my belly. I decide that water and pretzels will carry me to the finish line. It turns out to be a good choice. First aid station. Water and pretzels. 13 miles out. I'm a half marathon away from the finish line. My legs are aching. Do I have three pound rocks in each shoe? The temperature has reached 80 degrees and I'm baking. I walk for a couple of minutes to recover. I start running. Second aid station. Water and pretzels. Third aid station. Repeat. I'm wasted. Did I black out for the part where someone beats down my quads with a meat hammer? 7 miles out and I'm sniffing the finish line. I speed my pace, then see Kyle coming at me. He's looking good. We stop and chat for a second. He tells me that Charlie's knee acted up on him and he had to stop after the second lap. Bummed that Charlie didn't make it. Psyched that Kyle is looking good. He's mentally strong and although he's still a ways from the end he's determined to finish. I'm confident he will, and we part ways.

It's during this last stretch where you follow a rolling logging road that is straight as an arrow. You can see for a good mile in front of you. It was a trying leg of the race. I'm tired. Mentally defeating. To see a hill in front of you that you are definitely going to have to walk. Yes, I AM NOW WALKING THE HILLS.

Last aid station. Water and pretzels. I'm 4.4 miles from heaven. My pace quickens. I feel energy. Rolling hills and some technical trail cover this last stretch and I'm bookin it. Lifting feet high to miss stumps and roots. Hip flexors on fire. In my adrenaline filled last leg, I pass a good 7-8 walkers as I zero in on 2 miles to go. I've ran this section twice already today. I see signs that lead me to believe I'm close. Remember back to my description of the last 100 yards to the finish line? This time it's applicable.

I cross that line. My timing chip beeps with the sensor. My run becomes walk. Stop my watch. My first 50 is in the books. 9 hours 12 minutes. I'm excited, tired. Hungry. Take my medal. Stretch. Zone out. My shoes come off. Only 3 blisters. I got out good.

The following days bring a barrage of sore muscles. They quickly fade. I'm left with a much more lasting feeling. Emotions: Pride. Confidence. Disappointment that it's over. Psych for the next big thing.

photos by lucas the gazelle

Monday, February 9, 2009

9 hours 11 minutes

9 hours 11 minutes

I have details on this highly enlightening experience, but they are still in my head.

More to come very soon....

Friday, February 6, 2009

50 Eve

Sitting in a Huntsville hotel.

Tomorrow at 7 am I'll embark on a new journey into the unknown. I've ran marathons, many 100+ mile road races, and 24 endeavors. But I've never ran 50 miles. Not sure how the ole body will hold up to that.

I gotta say I'm super excited to see what happens. It's so enlightening to see how far you can push the human body and mind till it completely breaks down.

We spent Friday night at Charlie's in Dallas. Slept in. Walked down to Victory Plaza for a cup-a-joe, hit up a glorious running store named Luke's, then lunch at Burger Bar and a drive by into West Village Bicycles......then a quick jet down I-45 into the tall pines of Huntsville.

So I'm sitting here in the hotel room with Lucas, Kyle and Charlie. Psyched to run this thing in the morning.

I'll keep you posted.....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mountain Khakis

I was lucky enough to receive an invitation about a year ago to become an ambassador for the Mountain Khakis brand. I had done some photography work for them in the past and had developed a good working relationship with the company through that avenue.

What does an ambassador do? Basically I go out and do some adventure stuff during my life, report on it, and show up to Mountain Khaki sponsored events when they are in my area. And a lot of free pants are involved. Easy decision to say yes...

MK recently asked me to do a blog for them and although I didn't have any super exciting info to share, I figured something out.

You can read my MK ramblings at Built For The Mountain Life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

take a light : go fast

I had an experience last night......

Intense. Adrenaline. Whipping in and out of the trees in the dark, missing dislocations and broken bones by inches. Sounds in the woods spike heart rate. Lungs grasping for air in the cold night. Brain focusing, and every bit of being is fixed on pure concentration. Tunnel vision follows the light onto dirt, stumps, rocks and blurred trees.

I know there are a select few of you who know what I'm talking about; have experienced and felt the above.
For those who have not, go mountain biking on a crisp cold night.
Take a light.
Go fast.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pedaling bliss with Nic

Oklahoma City spent the entirety of last week in a cold, white wonderland of beautiful wintery goodness. Now I know a lot of you would disagree with me, but I loved every bit of it. I relish the difficult elements and the change it brings our lives. Keeps us on our toes, if you will...

It also makes you appreciate days like Saturday. That morning, Chris Marks and I made the short trip up to Lake McMurtry near Stillwater for a little mountain bike action with some guys. Gave me the chance to measure up my skills on my new single speed trail blazer. The dirt was in great shape and it gave way for fast riding.

The cool brisk morning gave way to a warm mid 60's afternoon, so when I scooted back into OKC Nicki and I decided to get out and go for a fun filled bike ride through some different districts of Oklahoma City. It was going to be an afternoon-long outing for us, eating and riding and stopping and hanging and riding and taking in the nice weather.

We decided to start by pedaling down into the shaded streets of the city scape and then heading north, through Mid Town and into Heritage Hills gandering at the upscale historic neighborhoods as we went. Then through the Paseo arts district and on north to the Sushi Neko area on Western. Nicki closes on her new house near Sushi Neko in about a week so we rode by her new place, took a celebratory snap shot on her new porch and made up ideas for her to make the place "hers". We hit Neko, then decided to book it back to the Paseo where we stopped in on the patio of Sauced and had a piece of their classic New York pizza. They had a sweet Motherbike bike rack that caught my eye, so I snapped off a couple frames on it and we were on our way back towards the big city buildings. Nicki fiercely braved the south wind beating me in a sprint to the 4th street light, and into downtown where we stopped and messed around with the camera in front of One Leadership Square.

All in all, a great day of pedaling. We laughed and sang (I sang) and ate, and Nicki even snapped some nice shots of me for a blog that I have been meaning to do for Mountain Khaki for their ambassador program. Score.

Words don't do enough justice (especially when they are coming from me), here's the visual...