Pier 34 Sunset

date June 07, 2018 location New York, NY

I just got back from a quick work trip to New York City. Though I am still recovering from the marathon, I managed to grab my camera and went on a run starting from Central Park along the west side of Manhattan all the way into Brooklyn. This is the Holland Tunnel Vent Shaft, one of my sunset images I took while running along the river.

One of many images I took during a run along the west side of Manhattan. This is the Holland Tunnel Vent Shaft at Pier 34.View Exif InformationView on Map

One of many images I took during a run along the west side of Manhattan. This is the Holland Tunnel Vent Shaft at Pier 34.

2018 Cellcom Green Bay Marathon Recap

date May 21, 2018 location Green Bay, WI

Race information
What? Cellcom Green Bay Marathon
When? May 20, 2018
How far? 26.2 mi
Race Website
View my Run on Strava

While I have 5 marathons under my belt, this would be the first that I’ve run in more than nine years. Throughout the past nine years I’ve been running off and on, and not until the past one or two years have I finally start to take running more seriously. Prior to starting the 18 week training plan, I battled with runner’s knee (Patellofemoral pain syndrome). Through physical therapy exercises, I strengthened my hips, quads and core, but what I believe contributed most to alleviating my knee pain was a change to my stride shifting from a heel strike to a midfoot strike.

I followed Hal Higdon’s 18 week Intermediate training plan. Within a given a week, I swapped some days around occasionally, but only skipped one or two runs throughout the entire cycle. For cross-training, I mostly did weight training including the PT exercises I learned while I was struggling with knee issues. Towards the end of the training plan, after the 20 milers, I opted for yoga on cross-training days and skipped or reduced the weight training sets.

I ended up switching hotels a week before the after race after learning that the hotel I originally booked was not included in the race’s hotel shuttle program. I was able to find a room at a hotel less than a half mile from the race which ended up working out really well. I woke up at 5am for a 7am start. I was able to take my time having breakfast and getting ready, and headed over to the start line at 6:30am. When I arrived at the start, I was surprised to find that no one had lined up yet, and it wasn’t until about 6:50am that they called the runners to line up. In previous years they would start both the marathoners and half-marathoners at the same time, while this year they started the half-marathoners an hour later. Also, this year’s race had about half as many participants as when I had last run in 2009, so I was surprised at how few runners there were, and how close to the starting line I was able to get. When I originally signed up, I entered a target per-mile pace of between 7:45 and 8:00 on my registration form. This put me in corrall A, and I would be one of the first runners to cross the start line.

The Race
Being one of the first runners out of the gate, I knew I would be tempted to keep pace with the faster runner’s also up front. Having come out of the gate too fast in a previous race, I knew I couldn’t make the same mistake during this race. At the same time, getting passed by other runners isn’t a good feeling, especially in just the first moments of my first competitive race in several years.

Miles 1-5 - I spent the first miles trying to decide on the right pace. My goal pace was 7:45/mi and before the race I told myself that I needed to start at that pace, and if it felt fast, settle at 8:00/mi. I ended up around a 7:25/mi and it just felt like a pace that I could keep up forever.
Miles 6-8 - Finding myself at even stride with the 3:15 pacers, I worried that I was going too fast. I slowed my pace down a few times to let them go, only to find myself catching back up to them when I stopped concentrating on how fast I was running. At some point during mile 8, as I was running alongside one of the two 3:15 pace coaches, I looked behind me and realized that the rest of the 3:15ers were behind me. I looked at my watch and realized I was now running at about a 7:15 clip and the pace coach I was running with had run ahead perhaps to take a bathroom break.
Miles 9-20 - These miles went by uneventfully. I felt comfortable, though still concerned I might burn out. As I approached mile 20 I knew I was gonna crush my goal, it wasn’t going be fun, but I didn’t come all this way to fade out at mile 20.
Miles 20-24 - These miles were hellish, but I did my best to think positively. I felt sharp pain in the outside of my right foot (5th metatarsal) and as a result regressed back to my heel striking gait.
Miles 25-Finish - The highlight of the Green Bay Marathon is that the last mile includes a lap inside Lambeau Field. As I approached Lambeau, there wasn’t a single runner within a quarter mile of me so I envisioned running through Lambeau with a dedicated ovation from the marathon supporters in the stadium. What I didn’t realize is that before this iconic stretch, the Marathon and Half Marathon courses converge and I found myself in a giant pack of 10:00/mi paced half marathoners. More than anything, I was nervous that I had maybe gone off course and wanted to make sure I was still going the right way. To my relief, I spotted another yellow bib in the sea of orange ones, and closed the race in a rather anticlimactic way, crossing the finish line mostly with racers that had only run half as far as I had.
Finishing Time: 3:14:22!

In software development, following each two week cycle of work, the team meets for what’s called an “agile retrospective”, brainstorming ideas into three categories: “Start” -> things which should be tried next time. “Stop” -> behaviors or practices done during this cycle that should not be done during the next. “Continue” -> behaviors or practices that worked well and should be continued next time. In that spirit, here are some retrospective notes for this training cycle and race.

*Increase mileage and intensity without getting injured. This is easier said than done, but this is the name of the game for improvement.
*Try a new training plan (more speed/hill work, more miles). In my opinion the various marathon training plans are more similar than they are different and follow a basic set of principles (easy day/hard day, V02 max/lactate threshold runs, rest days, long runs, etc). With that said, I have been pretty loyal to Hal Higdon and branching out could help me find a plan that can shave some minutes off of my time.
*Losing a few lbs. At a 23 BMI (5'10" 160lbs), losing a few pounds would reduce risk of injury and improve my pace.

*Following the plan to a T. There were a handful of days where I was achy and should have opted for taking the day off instead of feeling the need to follow the plan religiously.
*Training without understanding the purpose of each run. I just started reading "Advanced Marathoning" by Pfitzinger/Douglas and even though I didnt follow a "Pfitz" plan during this training cycle, understanding the purpose of each run has been profound, and hopefully something I can use to my advantage next time.

*Alternating different models of running shoes.
*Print my name on my race shirt. I got a ton of support from unknown supporters giving me a much needed boost of adrenaline
*Bring lots of gels. I ended up eating about 7 gels during the race, 4 or 5 of which were caffeinated.
*Follow a training plan. While it is good to understand the purpose of each type of run during training to allow customization, it is equally important to follow a plan, taking the need to think about how many miles to run each day out of the equation.
*Cross-train with strength training
*Diligently taking care of injuries (stretching, ice, strength training, yoga, etc)
*Enjoying the easy days. I have really enjoyed training for and running this race but at the end of the day it is important to remind myself that this is for fun. Balancing the tough timed training days with easy days is key to maintaining the dedication i've put towards running.

Blossoming Tree Near Lincoln Park Zoo

date May 12, 2018 location Chicago, IL

Today's shot is a departure from my usual subject matter, Chicago architecture. These trees are at an area located between the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a place I frequently pass on my runs. I'm not exactly sure what kind of tree this is, but a google image search suggests that the Eastern Redbud is most likely.

It is Spring in Chicago despite what the current weather has to say about it.View Exif InformationView on Map

It is Spring in Chicago despite what the current weather has to say about it.

Gearing up for Green Bay

date May 10, 2018 location Chicago, IL

I was able to stay dry during my run today, one of the last training runs until the Green Bay Marathon next Sunday.

Only 11 days until I attempt to run the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon.  It will be first marathon in more than 8 years.View Exif InformationView on Map

Only 11 days until I attempt to run the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. It will be first marathon in more than 8 years.

Shutterrunning Along the Lake

date May 09, 2018 location Chicago, IL

After a bit of a hiatus (more than 7 months since my last post), I am finally back! Today's post is an exciting one for two reasons. First, I am happy to report that this photo was taken during a marathon training run. On Sunday, May 20th, I will be running my first marathon in more than 8 years, the Cellcom Green Bay Maraton. When I started this blog, I had a vision that most of the photos posted here would be taken during marathon training runs. While photography has remained a strong hobby of mine over the past eight years, running marathons has not (having multiple serious hobbies on top of a full-time job is difficult to manage to say the least). Nevertheless, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction as I have neglected the camera in favor of my running shoes.

In addition to the upcoming marathon, today's post also represents a milestone as it is the first photo I am posting taken with my new camera! After waiting several years for Nikon to announce a serious investment in mirrorless technology, I finally decided to give up and switch to Sony. After Sony announced the new a7iii, I promptly put all of my Nikon gear up for auction on ebay and made the switch to the a7iii. Time will tell whether or not I regret this decision, but being able to carry around a full frame body and wide angle lens without any trouble is a definite plus.

Goodbye, Nikon. Hello, Sony.  My first photo shoot with the new camera, taken during a run along the Lake this evening.View Exif InformationView on Map

Goodbye, Nikon. Hello, Sony. My first photo shoot with the new camera, taken during a run along the Lake this evening.

Sunset at Fall Creek Trailhead

date October 05, 2017 location Lake City, Colorado

After a busy day of drone flying and fly fishing we hiked towards camp along the Fall Creek trail. As the sun started to set, I found what I was looking for in an interesting foreground formed from the cracks in this mud pit.

Taken on the hike back from fly fishing at Fall Creek. This is a gorgeous valley in the San Juan Mountain Range.View Exif InformationView on Map

Taken on the hike back from fly fishing at Fall Creek. This is a gorgeous valley in the San Juan Mountain Range.

Mountain Light

date October 02, 2017 location Lake City, Colorado

As we were fly fishing at Fall Creek, I happened to catch a glimpse of the setting sun casting nice light on Silver Mountain and had to stop to take this photograph. This photo reminded me of a fantastic book called "Mountain Light" by Galen Rowell, in which Rowell, a mountain climbing photographer, passionately describes the various lighting conditions for photography in the mountains.

I took a break from fly fishing to capture this image of the setting sun shining light on Silver Mountain in the Colorado Rockies.View Exif InformationView on Map

I took a break from fly fishing to capture this image of the setting sun shining light on Silver Mountain in the Colorado Rockies.

Mavic in the Mountains

date September 30, 2017 location

A video compilation of several drone flights over the Colorado Rockies including footage from Brainard Lake near Denver and Fall Creek near Lake City.

Music: "Happiness" by bensound.com

Colorful Sunrise from UIC

date September 12, 2017 location Chicago, IL

This shot is from a UIC parking garage on Harrison. I got here about 45 minutes before sunrise and ended up staying right up until when the sun broke the horizon. This is one of the last images I got of the morning as the clouds started to come in at just the right time.

The Chicago Skyline during a colorful sunrise taken from the UIC campus.View Exif InformationView on Map

The Chicago Skyline during a colorful sunrise taken from the UIC campus.

Antelope Canyon Night Photography Tour

date August 09, 2017 location Page, AZ

The phrase “once in a lifetime experience” is one that is thrown around too often when describing visits to new places. I’m sure that i’ve personally been guilty of using this phrase when referencing a trip that could easily be replicated with a similar itinerary during a similar time of year. On the other hand, no two experiences are ever exactly the same, so couldn’t you make the argument that every experience is a “once in a lifetime experience?”

My recent visit to Upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona definitely falls into the “not likely to be repeated any time soon” category. First, the canyon is not within a two hour drive of any major metropolis. Furthermore, as the attraction is located on Navajo land, visiting the canyon requires hiring a Navajo guided tour. On top of all that, all but one of these guided tours are during the daytime, so visiting the canyon in the middle of the night, during a new moon with minimal cloud coverage, in the prime star-viewing season of the year would be a difficult experience to repeat.

Despite having reserved my place in the night photography tour, the tour company advises all of its clients that the tour is far from guaranteed, as a cloudy evening would render the stars invisible and that night’s tour cancelled. Arizona’s monsoon season had just begun when I arrived a few days earlier, and my odds at a clear sky seemed pretty bleak that night. I pulled up to an empty parking lot at the tour company’s tent at 8:45pm sharp, navajo time. Despite the fact that the town of Page and the surrounding Navajo territory both reside in Arizona, the Navajo use daylight savings time while the rest of the state does not. Knowing this, all hope was not lost given the empty parking lot of the tour group, and sure enough, a clock mounted to the wall of the tent indicated 7:45pm and that this tour group actually used arizona time. I drove around for a bit, returning an hour later, this time, the lights of a pickup truck parked in the lot indicated that this tour was happening after all.

I met my guide, Roman (@spiritualseeker2015), hopped into his truck, and a bumpy, ten minute ride to the mouth of the canyon began. I wasn’t totally shocked that I would be the only guest on this tour as the time and remoteness of this location meant that anyone participating in this tour staying at a nearby mid-sized city wouldn’t make it back until after 2am.

My experience at Antelope Canyon was the complete opposite of the experience that I described at Horseshoe Bend. The entrance wasn’t near the highway, there was no parking lot, signs, or tourists in sight. With no warning, the bumpy ride stopped and we were at the mouth of the canyon.

The exact age of the canyon is unknown with some experts guessing the order of magnitude in the millions of years while others suggest thousands as a more likely estimate. The canyon was created by the erosion of sandstone primarily due to flash floods which continue to run through the canyon’s walls. It is because of this flooding that the attraction requires a guided tour to visit.

Using an LED light provided by Roman, we illuminated the canyon walls while I took long exposures to capture the canyons majestic curves with the starry night sky.

The tour lasted about two hours long with me having free reign of the entire canyon.

The width of the Canyon varies as you walk through it, sometimes getting as narrow as just a couple of feet, luckily I'm not claustrophobic.

The lines in the rock are incredibly smooth from rainwater erosion, slowly making its mark over time.

A notch in the upper wall of the canyon makes home for one of the many bats that were flying through cave at this late hour.

As we made our way to the back of the canyon, we had an amazing view of the stars.

Lighting the walls with the LED wasn't a perfect science. I fixed my settings to properly expose the stars without movement, and did my best to position the light to shine just the right amount of light across the walls.

At 15mm, a 30 second exposure was enough to capture some cloud movement but keep the stars relatively fixed in the frame.

While the photos appear well lit, it was extremely dark in the canyon and with each shot I checked the LCD screen on my camera hoping I made a decent composition.

I tried something different with this shot, choosing to light the interior of the canyon while leaving its outer walls underexposed.

As the tour was coming to an end, the sky was completely dark with a sky covered in stars.

This shot took a few tries as an evenly lit canyon required that I first paint the outer walls with the LED, then scurry inside to paint the cave's interior all within the 30 second exposure.