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Starting 2016

After having only mild success in 2015 at attaining my goals I have thought about resetting expectations.  That coupled with failing my first event of the year and some other challenging realities of life made made me understand I do not always get what I have worked hard to achieve despite the effort.  While this might make some feel disillusioned I think my parents set me up for understanding some of life’s challenges and making sure their children had the tools to overcome obstacles or even failure.  They always used to say, “Life is not always fair”, not in a negative way but in one that said, if you fail you have to get up and try again, work harder next time.

This  is an expectation I have to live by even when things are tough, this year will be no different, sure maybe I will slim down the list but it will be no less hard to accomplish.

  1. Tear Down the cottage and lay foundation for the new one.  This includes cutting down the some of the trees that will be used in the building and sourcing any other family resources that can be incorporated into the new house.
  2. Buy no pre-packaged beer for the house, i.e. only drink what I make home brewing.  While this may sound silly, it presents a planning challenge long term since if I was not ready I would have to wait a month to drink a beer I made, granted I get a carve out for growlers which are still gaining in popularity in Texas. Point of this is part environmental for less waste and part discipline.
  3. No fast food, take out, or food delivery to the house.  So have to either cook which I love to do or go out to eat.
  4. Write and adhere to a budget
  5. Complete another Ironman and set a new PR doing so better than 13:12:35 for full course.  Signed up for Mallorca Spain in the fall so training is starting now
  6. 3 New countries
  7. Spanish Level 1
  8. Paint a Self Portrait
  9. Baby sit for Nick and Winnie
  10. Take at least one class to learn something new

 

There are probably some other things I should do but I will leave it at this for now.  Finished my first half marathon of 2016 today and feeling okay for athletic events for the year, now just some mountains and ironman and things should be good.  Last weekend my failure was at the Ouray Ice Park in western Colorado, it is an amazing place and the only place I have ever seen “farmed” ice.  Some pictures from the park and stunning drive from there to Denver, are below and hopefully those are a good start on a pretty good 2016.

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Success and Failure in 2015 and setting Goals for 2016 – Part 1

As I grow and see my family and friends grow and move away or change in ways that I could never predict it always makes me a bit introspective as to how I can improve, be that day by day or year by year.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a habit of annual goal setting and I try and make sure that they can be attained but are hard to reach so in the next  post or two will be the summary of 2015 and goals for 2016.  I failed miserably on many of my goals last year but succeeded in others so have to move some from the 2015 list to the 2016 list but also recognize I will continue to improve my ability to set better quality and more thoughtful goals as the years go by.

 

-Year of Nothing New – Success, First and most significant, I spent 12 months and bought no new material goods. This was hard and I think I learned more than anything what I can live without rather than simply desiring a new toy, outdoor gear, automobile, whatever, it actually was not as hard as I thought.  My expectation was that I would try and find things used but what ended up happening was that I adapted what I had to suit the need.

Go Ruck Ascent perhaps with a stretch goal of also completing Go Ruck Heavy – Success, Ascent completed and not as hard as I thought but I did not complete a Go Ruck Heavy, will be added to the list for 2016.

Ironman or Half Ironman (have not yet settled on where or when) – Half Ironman Austin completed, time could have been better but finished without injury.

-Live on a budget (will increase savings amount by 50%) – Failure, However I increased saving/investment but did not detail this out will be moved to 2016

-More time volunteering (5 hour per quarter minimum Kikulu and SVP- Dallas) – Failure, starting off 2016 well since this one is always on the list.

-Take dancing lessons – Failure

-Complete Spanish level 1 – Failure

-Read one book per month – Failure, 5 of 12

-3 New Countries (Brazil, Argentina, and Chile) – Success plus Belize

-One significant physical event per month, stretch goal of qualifying for Boston marathon (50 min reduction on my marathon PR) – Partial success since suffered through knee injury, but still managed like 8 of 12 months.  Granted there was no chance of increasing my speed with injury, did set a new marathon PR.

-More development activities for my team at the office (one per month) – Does one count haha, more but not nearly enough

-Paint another self portrait (hopefully better than my last one) -Failure

-Prepare the Maine summer cottage and make a long term plan for what to do, tear down or rehabilitate – Success but formal planning will be forth coming, have the outline/timeline but no architectural plans yet.

-Take at least 5 camping trips (not counting Patagonia) – Failure

-Cheer/volunteer support for at least 5 events where I am not participating – Failure

-Babysit for niece and nephew more often  – Failure but I did get to play Santa which may have made up for this.

 

Next up the list for 2016.  Things are looking good right now so expect a challenging list.

 

 

Flood control, human failure, and what comes next?

This Saturday morning I was up early for a weekend spin a round around the lake as I wait for the girl to get ready all I could think of was disappointment over making an appropriate decision. I was reminded of this by the fact that my running trail was closed for flooding. This may seem odd considering it has not been raining much in North Texas. I live in a part of DFW where the lakes are all a part of the flood control system, so when the water board decides  to they open the locks and flood the local parks and other low lying areas. The reason this is relevant to me is the wrapping up of a year wrought with failures, some out of my control and some a direct cause of my action or inaction.  Four events I signed up for were not or will not be completed this year. Sunday being the most significant by having to skip running the Dallas marathon due to what appears to be a fractured bone in my foot, likely the result of last weekends San Antonio Rock n Roll marathon. While my orthopedic did not say you can’t run, he said run at your own risk and after your finished we will put you in a boot cast for 6 weeks. This causes an emotional struggle for me since I already missed a Go Ruck challenge based on an human weakness and had two half marathons canceled for weather and poor planning.  This is where the flood control ties into my human failure.  The state of Texas decided it would have to let the water flow, closing businesses, trails and parks, in order to solve for the greater good long term, how should I solve for the greater good of an injury?  Based on the fact that I may end up in a boot for 6 weeks anyway does 4 hours of misery matter to make it a full 5 marathons for 2016?  

The ebbs and flows of my energy level are mostly dictated by accepting and overcoming challenges. I’ve been ebbing recently and even though my ebbs are far more active than some peoples flows it will still be a great concern to miss the race.  Last weekend I decided to run the San Antonio marathon on a last minute whim, great weekend, saw the Spurs, walked the riverwalk and toured some breweries prior to the race which was plenty of fun and challenge but two days later the foot goes south and the orthopedic gives the news I expected.  As I got up this Saturday, my muscles all healed and prepared for Sunday but it appears that it is my bones giving way this time. 

   

  

    
  

  
Finishing this post from the spin bike (no impact cardio) I think I made the right flood control decision to allow myself time to heal.   I wished my friends and fellow runners good luck and I’ll be back out there in 2016. Thinking I will shoot for the Ft. Worth ultra as a kick off for the year.

So far behind

Did not seem like I have been too terribly busy this year but have certainly fallen behind blogging. As I sit up super early in the morning ready to start my day tomorrow I thought I would post a few pictures. All unedited so some may not be so great and I will try and caption them later but for now here we go.

Parts of June to Novemwber 2015

Lone Pint in Magnolia makes some great beers, pre-FPSF stop

Go for the Yellow Rose

Third time on Whitney and first one turned back ice. Next time crampons and axes

Totally need this to be my next building project

  
  

After failing on Whitney took a wonderful drive up the  valley to give the Half Dome Cables a shot.  The valley views in the summer are amazing, granted it crowded.  First stop Devils Post Pile, columnar basalt formation.  Is second in my opinion to Devils Tower but still pretty amazing site.

 

 

  
  
  
  
  
  The cables route to the top of Half Dome is a bit unnerving but was indeed well worth the lottery entry and the fear getting up and down.


  

Tried a great beer in Portland before the Naked Bike Ride, (no pics on that one but I did wear a bow tie at least) and then got to attend a Timbers game such a great weekend.
   Fun time with friends and family in Maine for the Forth, even with Adip trying to get some work done with Nikhil on board.


  
  
  

The grey house is my Uncles beautiful cottage in Searsport and was fun to come back and see where I spent so many summers growing up.

 


  
  Managed a trip down to the tip of the Florida Keys this year was neat to visit Hemmingway’s house and see the southern end of the US along with the end of Route 1 which I have driven up north so many times.


  Hatch Chili beer for Joe’s wedding turned out pretty darn good despite my fear it would be beer salsa.


  This John Singer Sargent painting, El Jaleo, hangs in my favorite museum in Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum which has been beautifully redone since my first visit 5 years ago and is the most amazing stop on the way to see a game at Fenway in the summer time.  

Two times to see Weezer this summer both great as always.
  Some Sammy time while dog sitting figured he should go on a bike ride around the lake with me and he like plush accommodations so I hooked him up.


  
  Running the Pikes Peak Marathon was one of the largest accomplishments in an otherwise quite unproductive year and was totally worth it despite being the slowest marathon I could ever imagine.  
  
  Libby and Rob’s wedding in Maine was magical as I always imagined it would be.  While I was very sad to lose a sister i was also so grateful to gain a brother like Rob and so happy to have his family as part of ours going forward.  
  Go Ruck Ascent…… Not as tough as I hoped for one of their expedition events but I really enjoyed it just wish it would have been coordinated so that we could have attempted more than one 14’er.  Getting to the top of Humbolt Peak was amazing indeed but I feel like I need to climb more to be a decent hiker going forward.  Really time to stop being so lazy and go for a GoRuck Heavy event, may kill me, or cripple me, or just make me feel like perhaps I have at least a touch of athleticism in me, well only if I finish of course.  
  
  The next few were really amazing, one man who will be a dear friend forever is Adam, he invited me last year to see KC pay in the world series and I did not get to go, this year we figured it out.  To only skip an afternoon in the office to see what was the best ever first game in a world series going 14 innings, over five hours and for Kansas City to win in what would be the start of them bringing home the crown was indeed a site to see.  Great seats great friends and too see the town I was born in win a World Series game was a memory to be cherished for the rest of my life.
  
  
  
  Finally got out for some marathon trainning and see this guy defending the trail at mile 16 hahahah

 


  

Erin and I stopped on the way back to Texas after a 12 hour car ride to see Carlsbad Caverns still one of my favorite places in the southwest.

 

Had to sport the giant stache for a day was a fun experiment.
  
Trying to run a Half Ironman cold with no training sort of sucks, I still finished but dropped 30 minutes from. my last time in Austin due solely to my poor training schedule.  Sort of hoping the same is not repeated in San Antonio this weekend and Dallas Marathon for next.  probably no PR but a decent showing would be nice.
  

After a number of years thinking of it I have decided I need to pick up where grandmother left off and send some personal gift baskets, the first batch of cookies came out amazing so now once I make the real think hope they travel.

Few Days in Belize

For only my second time in the Caribbean I had a great time and should try and make it a point to visit more often. Depart Friday and home Monday seemed like the perfect length of time to visit and still have a packed schedule without having to take too much time out of the office. The post will be primarily pictures since they show what fun there is to be had, in summary, beautiful resort, Victoria House, great fishing with Eloy, some wonderful snorkeling at the Mexican Rocks (nurse sharks and all), beautiful Mayan Ruins at Xunantunich, then some cave tubing, along with some good food and beach time. Was a good way to spend the weekend rather than the normal Memorial Day bbq’s in Dallas.

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Ambergris Caye is a pretty magnificent place, expensive as are most islands but still a great time. Time to plan for the mountains next month and keep my fingers crossed that the knee will be better by the time I arrive in the Sierra Nevada’s.

40 hours in West Texas

Last weekend I decided to head to Big Bend National Park for the first time since probably 1999. It is pretty far away from home so getting there and back in a short weekend was tough but luckily I have good friends. I rented a giant SUV for weekend so it would be comfortable to sleep when not driving.
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Arrival at dawn required coffee before hiking since the overnight drive was tough.
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Hiking the Window Trail in Big Bend at dawn and looking out from the Chisos Basin and goofing with friends was such a great start to the day.
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After the hike we found a camp site despite the place being “full”, set up camp and headed to Alpine Texas since I have always wanted to see the original Reatta, and the Big Bend Brewing Company.
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From there we were off to Marfa for some art and travel farther west.
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Then back to the park to camp and cook some delicious dinner.
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Up early to write some post cards see the sunrise cook and head down to see the canyons and Rio Grand that establish the US Mexico boarder.
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After a full trip in a short time we got back on the road home for the long drive back. We probably averaged just over a 100mph the whole weekend and managed to see so much, drive just over 1600 miles in 40 hours. Was a pretty good weekend. More to come.

Help Nepal

As I see the news articles from the Nepal earthquake all I can think is the beauty and mystery of my experience there back in 2010 when I went to visit a school that we built through Room to Read. The people of Nepal are magnificent and could use all the support available about now, I am donating and encouraging others to do the same. The loss of life and the destruction of so much history is so sad, and I so wish someone could snap their fingers and fix all the damage and destruction that nature has wrought. Since that cannot be done I think sending money is the next best thing, below is an option but there are many others including one to support Room to Read, which is another great option.

REI is partnering with Mercy Corp and helping by fund raising here and I think this should be a good way to assist for those of us in this hemisphere and a first world nation. The link for Mercy Corp is below.

https://www.mercycorps.org/help-earthquake-survivors-with-rei-and-mercycorps.html?source=WOW00100&utm_source=rei&utm_medium=corpfound&utm_campaign=2015%20nepal%20earthquake%20response&cm_mmc=email_com_mm-_-nepal-_-042915-_-cta_hero&ev36=12621606&RMID=20150428_GM_Nepal_Help_SL1&RRID=1166574&ev11=1

Since I have spent time in Nepal below are some picture I took a number of years ago showing the beauty of the place. Starts with time in Kathmandu, then to Bardia national park, Lumbini, then out to the Annapurna range for some trekking, and Pokhara for some paragliding, then a few more temples and a night out ion Kathmandu during Diwali. I will just post the pics rather than explain, if anyone has questions or comments let me know and please help support this beautiful place in a time of great need.

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Safari Invitation

Kikulu Safari

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The non-profit organization I sit on the board as President has announced a summer 2015 safari trip into The Serengeti National Park, one of the most famous national parks in the world. Our founder who has organized this trip, is an avid traveler and adventurer. She has traveled this circuit before, and has traveled on four continents in 7 countries in the past several years, so needless to say, she knows how to plan a trip! This trip is a fundraising initiative to help our organization build capacity and provide quality education for more children in Sub-Saharan Africa through the work we do at the Kikulu Foundation. The trip will be a five-day exploration on the Northern Tanzania Safari Circuit through magnificent landscapes amongst spectacular sights and encounters with some of the most exotic wildlife.

Since I know many of you are an avid travelers, I wanted to pass trip information along in case you, or anyone you may know, would be interested. A couple of facts about the trip that make it extra unique:

All planning and trip details have been taken care of – no headache, research or trip planning to do. Every last detail has been carefully orchestrated by someone who knows the area and safari team.
It is an Adventure for Cause expedition, which means a portion of the trip cost goes back to do good in the world, and is considered a tax-deductible donation.
It has been organized in a way so that one can experience this adventure while only taking a week off work. If more time is wanted, one could add onto the back-end of the trip to stay in Africa longer. (Trip dates are Saturday, August 15th – Sunday, August 23rd. )

Complete details are on our website at http://www.kikulu.org/safari or you can email me, or my friend and organizer, Alisha Robertson at alisha@kikulu.org

This trip will be better then the amazing Tanzanian safari I went on in 2013 and if you would like a glimpse of the magnificent animals and scenery go check out what I saw here.

Regards,
Justin

Patience, Tradition, Growth through Challenges

Getting behind in posting again so will primarily be pictures today but will write a bit on goal setting and challenges. After visiting my first couple countries before I was 20 I set a long term goal to visit 30 countries before I was 30 years old. I missed the mark by 4 or 5 but I continue to explore as much as life will allow. Think I am resetting that goal to 45 by 40, means 2 new ones a year and is tough but attainable. Incorporating other goals into my travels is always fun and they have taken me to many places I would not otherwise have even considered. My current countries visited are displayed below and I am working on how to incorporate a more interactive version of the map soon, found it at http://www.amcharts.com/


Learning to run helped me address a problem, I had gotten fat after college and wanted to run a 5k and also wanted to ride the MS 150, Frisco to Ft. Worth. That first year was 2009 and I could not run a mile non-stop. After a few tries in a week things started to get easier and I decided to increase the goal. Long story short I tried for too much too fast with the intention of going from couch to full marathon in 10 months, needless to say I did not make it. I suffered from Patello-Femoral Syndrome, or runners knee. After seeing a orthopedic and getting sent to the physical therapist I got myself sorted out and was able to finish a half marathon in 2009 but not the full that I hoped for. Fast forward to spring training of 2015 and again I find myself with PFS and again headed back to the therapist. I hope to recover in time to start the mountains in 8 weeks, then so many other things I have planned for the summer. I am not sure if this will work but confirmed the problem formulated a plan and now is time to see if it can possibly work.
Fixing this is similar to fixing problems at work analyze, formulate a plan and then execute, this is often easier said than done but I feel like the act of trying allows us to grow often in ways we did not even consider. I hope getting the knee fixed shows me some things I need to learn and perhaps it will help me work on and learn a bit more patience since I am not good at slowing down. Guess I will think about patience a little more on this mornings bike ride, maybe the beautiful Texas spring will help with some clarity.
Been busy since my last post, set my full marathon PR at Irving so keeping the tradition strong, I have run all 3 of the Irving marathons and think I will continue to do so as long as I live here.
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Did some California dreaming when I saw this, one day I will find one for my garage.
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The California Tower in the heart of Balboa Park has just reopened for the 100 year anniversary, is a neat way to see Balboa from above.
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Each year seeing the bluebonnets makes me happy to had to snap a few pictures.
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Even one with a wooden bow tie……
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Out of the water this weekend in urban Las Colinas
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Finally, even though we missed last year, we were able to make it back to the Canadian River Hilton for our annual turkey hunt. Took one with a 12 gauge but still no success with my bow, more work to come on that I suppose, patience, more patience.
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Enough pictures, time for some PT and biking to prepare for the mountains. Won the Half Dome Cables lottery so looking like Whitney and Yosemite in one weekend, should be a good start for summer. Based on my knee challenge getting to a Boston qualifying time this year is going to be tough, perhaps that goal gets moved to next year and maybe it will be a good challenge for the 2016 Irving marathon, would be nice to qualify so close to home.

Summer training and old photos

Thinking through this weeks post after finishing at the track I was wondering how I will ever increase my speed enough to Boston Qualify. Currently my best half pace is 30 seconds a mile short of the BQ standard, and even hitting the time does not guarantee entry since only the fastest get an entry. This summer I am planning on extensive work at the track but have been finding significant motivation challenges to go to the track since it is hard without a partner and with a goal that seems so unattainable. Despite my having shaved almost a minute off my long distance pace in the last 15 months I still see the magic BQ time as something so difficult to attain.

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Being of non-sound mind I continue to race without sufficient training but it still is fun and keeps the endorphins up :)

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Last weekend ran Rock n Roll half here in Dallas and saw this hilarious support

While working to get my time down I have decided that some significant vertical should be beneficial to trying to increase my fitness to the level needed to qualify. To start I did the Big D Stair climb with sister and friends which was great fun but I was a couple of minutes short of winning my group, was a neat way to climb this tower in Dallas.
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In order to focus on uphill and sustained endurance activities, I have picked a series of events in the next few months to fulfill the need to go vertical and think I will start in earnest this weekend with a hill or two in San Diego. The mountains and events I signed up for have very little theme but all seem like they should provide significant training time and increase how prepared I am. I signed up for Go Ruck Ascent, the Pikes Peak Marathon and to climb Mt. Whitney again, with a strong hope to also get in the Half Dome Cables lottery in Yosemite. I am still putting the group together for Whitney so give my a call if you think it may a challenge you would enjoy and we can talk, this will be my third time to climb it. I figure these should all lead up to trying a 50 mile run this fall in the Texas Panhandle and will hopefully assist in my speed and sustained endurance.

With these in mind and the logistics of traveling that much while still spending time in Maine this summer it seems like pretty tight schedule and that I will need to be careful with time out of the office. The cottage needs significant attention so this may be a poor choice but thankfully I have the best next door neighbor to ever live…..Thanks Mom!

With my brother’s family moving this weekend it took some time to sort through everything and a couple of the boxes I found was old travel photos from time living in Italy in college, and visiting Alaska. Such vivid memories came rushing back and I so wish they were digital, so I will find someone to digitize then after which I will post. If anyone knows of a good provider of this service please let me know in the comments or email. In the mean time I took a couple of pics of pics and thought I would post one of my first glacier since that is one of the things that drove me most recently to Patagonia

Below is Luke and I on Mt. Healy Alaska and a glacier which I cannot recall the name of, both taken with a disposable panoramic film camera, oh how far things have come.
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Off to find some more training opportunities. Best to all.

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