On Comebacks

Big step today in my return to civilized life… It wasn’t easy up in this little mountain town but I finally found an internet provider that could hook me up with 10mbps. This is a huge step in restoring my ability to conduct my photography and writing enterprises! I still remember sitting in my camper after the wife had passed from cancer, life completely decimated… no home, no family, no job, no savings left, camera broken and laptop on it’s last leg. Wondering, how does one come back from this?

Steve & Dad Leadville (wordpress)Today I received and notice in the email that it is once again time to register for the Leadville 100 “Race Across the Sky” and I am reminded of my most memorable comeback, my first Leadville 100 finish. I was relatively inexperienced at running that distance and by the time I had reached the Halfmoon aid station on the return trip about 70 miles into the race, I was physically and mentally trashed. If you want to drop out, you can ask  the aid  station and they will remove your medical stats wrist band, effectively eliminating you from the race. I was the first person I had encountered who looked so bad that the aid station people were asking me for my medical band. But for some reason I said no and managed to down some food and eventually stumble out of the aid station and continue the race.

I was moving so slowly though that race personnel were continuing to drive by and ask me for my medical band. But I continued to put one foot in front of the other while my mind argued with my body… With more than a marathon in distance to go there is no earthly reason to believe that it is possible to finish. In preparation for a marathon distance run most people get some extra rest, do some carbo loading and take steps to prepare their minds and body for such a distance. No one starts a marathon completely exhausted, sleep deprived and sick from not being able to eat a proper meal, cold and wet and in the dark of night in the mountains with an 11,200 foot pass to climb.

But even then, in complete denial of reality, I continued to put one foot in front of the other… why? Because I could. Because it is what I expected of myself, because it is what my crew who had worked so hard all summer with me expected of me. Because you can’t just drop out for being tired and sick, because you knew when you signed up for such insanity that you were going to be cold and tired and sick for over 24 hours. Cold and tired and sick is not a valid excuse for giving up, it is part of the race. Such as it is in real life, even in your darkest hour you continue on because that is what everyone does, because that is what is expected of you by your friends and family and people who are counting on you, because giving up is unthinkable.

Well as it turns out by the time I arrived at the Fish Hatchery aid station I was feeling a bit better and was able to down some more food. By the time I got to Hagerman Pass the food was kicking in and I could smell the finish line. There was still nearly 20 miles to go but some strength had returned and my body had warmed somewhat. I knew I was pushing the limit on cutoff times and I dug deep and hit the afterburner. Later my pacer told me if I had gone any faster over the pass he would not have been able to keep up with me. By the time I had gotten around Turquoise Lake I had made up considerable time against the cutoff limits and a finish was guaranteed if I could just continue to put one foot in front of the other.  I could no longer hold down any food or ERG but I just kept walking up the long four mile hill to the finish line. Finally, after 29 hours the old west mining town of Leadville was once again in sight. And at 29:15 my feet crossed the finish line and I received the coveted hug and finisher’s medallion from Merilee.

I have been involved with sports my entire life and am definitely a fan of great comebacks. I believe that sports can train people for success in life and this experience was no different. I was able to draw on the hardship and perseverance involved in finishing a 100 mile race in the mountains against impossible odds to carry on with life even after the terrible circumstances surrounding such a devastating illness and death in the family. I know others are at this time facing their darkest hour and I hope these words can in some small way encourage them to make their comeback in life.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items
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Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving, ​This day in November of the year 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth to give thanks to the Almighty for their survival and a bountiful harvest.

This Thanksgiving I too give thanks for my survival, the culmination of a decade of hardship, loss, sickness and death. I Watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the first time in years, a long tradition abandoned after Tricia’s passing. To be honest I wasn’t sure I would ever want to celebrate the holiday again and I am stunned at the developments of this year. 

The year began with an injury severe enough to prevent me from my usual duties unloading trucks at Walmart, another winter of wretched survival and the terrible isolation of life in a 1971 camper trailer.

This Thanksgiving finds me in a new home in a new town with a new career, surrounded by friends and family and a turkey baking in the oven. I know none of this would be possible without a miracle crafted in Heaven by the Almighty Himself and there are no words to describe how grateful I am.

I am well aware however, that there are many still living in quiet desperation who will not be celebrating in comfort this year and it is my fervent prayer that the Lord will sustain them through the hard times as he did me.

 “I will give you beauty for ashes and turn your morning into dancing.”

Turning Point

One of those memories from one year ago popped onto my Facebook today, it was a great memory of a great day, breakfast with my beloved cousin whom I hadn’t seen for too many years to even count. However the good part of that day was overshadowed by the memory of the rest of the day after I received a call from a friend who told me, “Steve, all hell has broken loose here.”, a terrible day in which several lives were irreparably altered, and not for the better. It was also the day that resulted in me having the two dogs that I wasn’t planning on or prepared for by any stretch of the imagination. However as you can imagine, these two beautiful doggies have worked their way into my heart and now they go with me everywhere. One riding shotgun in the passenger seat of my truck and the other standing on the console in the middle making sure there is nothing unusual lodged in my right ear or my mouth and nose 🙂

I had to take a part time job unloading trucks to make ends meet and it is a job that is physically difficult for people 40 years my younger. Unfortunately a few months ago I sustained a serious injury from which I have not been able to recover and is getting worse. Each day at work is a new lesson in pain and fatigue and I am sure I’m not going to be able to endure it much longer. And Son Boy is starting to look so sad when I have to work, like he knows. I hate leaving them behind, hate taking time away from writing and photography. And I have been praying “Please God, don’t make me go back there…”, pleading and begging the Almighty to have mercy on me and my little family of fur babies.

On the upside, the economy must be turning around, my stock photography sales have been picking up substantially. After years of terrible sales I have actually made more selling than I have working in the last few days… and I think that too is a sign that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Also I had a vivid dream the other night of a house in the country… one of those dreams that you just have a feeling is significant, a sign even perhaps. And after a long time of feeling repulsed by writing and out of inspiration for my photography, ideas are starting to come to me and the words are once again flowing onto the page… Every storm has to end and my storm that has washed away a home, a wife to cancer, a family, a career and all my savings and plans for retirement and almost everything but my faith, has lasted a decade.  It is a storm that I am hoping will soon be on the other side of the turning point.

“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29-30

Rough Start

Wasn’t sure I was going to make it out this morning… I don’t know, maybe it’s the damp weather, or maybe just too many hours on the loading docks this week, but when I awoke this morning it felt like a bomb had exploded inside my body. Got up, turned on the coffee pot and just sat here hoping for the pain to subside. Three different times I have broken my coffee drinking hand and it was really slow to come around but finally I was able to hold the coffee mug. The hot ceramic felt good in the palm of my hand as I tried to decide whether I wanted to face the day…

Finally the dogs started to grumble and I knew there was no possibility of going back to bed. Thought about just taking a slow walk up through the forest gate and up the road, but definitely was not in the mood to try to get past the troll. As I started moving around trying to feed the cats and get dressed, the pain in the rest of my battered temple began to reside and I decided on a trailhead to Bald Mountain that the troll doesn’t know about and probably could not get to on her best day. Would love to see the old crank try to negotiate the barbed wire fence…

Bald Morning 3The doggies were so excited about the new trail and the new smells that it was worth it just to see how much fun they were having! The beauty of the unhindered view of Pikes Peak, the fresh air at 10,000 feet and the utter solitude of being in a place that few others are even aware of also aided my mood on such a wonderful day to not have to go to work. Sadly the wildflowers are once again a mess this week so I didn’t bother to shoot with my DSLR, but I did snap a few of the scenery with my smart phone.Bald Morning 2

A couple hours of fresh air and both me and the doggies were tired and ready to head home. Thought about stopping at Bierwerks for lunch, but as we drove by I noticed that the place was quite populated with families with their children and after a week of enduring the din of screaming kids at Walmart I just could not face it. Maybe it just me, but I wish there was still someplace for adults to go… Used to be coffee shops and bars were pretty reliable sanctuaries, but no more.

Picked up a few supplies, ate some lunch and now listening to the rumble of an approaching thunderstorm. Pretty quiet at home today save for the snoring of the cats and dogs. I think it is going to be a peaceful afternoon for a nap. Maybe I will get an idea for a real adventure tomorrow, more sleep tonight will get me on the road much earlier in the morning, in time to beat the traffic and catch the beauty of the morning light cascading onto the beautiful Colorado Rockies… somewhere.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Broken Memories

Finally resolved an issue that has been dogging me for years… The question, is highway 67 paved all the way from Woodland Park to highway 285. I know I was on that segment, probably 30 years ago… fishing with friends near Deckers, way too long ago to remember details, other than 285 from Littleton and then some dirt roads down to the Platte. I also have another vague memory of driving down past Sedalia, through the mountains to the river and then on to highway 285 and back. I’ve been looking at maps for a few years now, asking people who live here if they have driven it, just wondering…

Western Bride.jpgNow I have the answer… well, the short answer is no, it doesn’t. Highway 67 makes a sharp turn at Deckers into the mountains and up to Sedalia. If you keep going straight the road turns into highway 96 and is paved all the way to 285.  On my way up the pavement to 285 I realized I had memories of that stretch of road… I remembered that we had photographed a wedding at a pavilion in the open space park along that road. Must have been 20 years ago.

Which brings me to my title… broken links. I don’t know if the same situation applies when you are old and lose your partner, or if it applies to anyone but me, but it seems like it would. When you are middle aged and your partner dies, the trauma of having everything you were planning, all your hopes, all your visions for the future and your entire way of looking at life taken away, it causes a terrible rip in time. For a while you can’t think about the past… the pain is too great, so you just refuse to think about it. Finally you are left with a distant past, the present and a gap that you haven’t  acknowledged for a couple or maybe even a few years… Eventually you have to link it all back together though, or you are left with a very confusing mess in your mind.

Well anyway, as I was driving past the open space I remembered the wedding… Bobbie & Susie, a beautiful country wedding. I wasn’t even photographing weddings anymore, Tricia had gotten in a bad car accident on the way to the lab to process wedding film and ended up blaming photography for years of therapy, both physical and emotional, and had quit helping me. I had to work full time and was not able to keep up with all the marketing and phone calls and I was tired of the bitchy brides anyway, so I just quit the wedding business all together.

But one day there was a call and I happened to answer it… The sweetest voice I had ever heard on the other end, slight southern drawl, maybe Texas. Said she had been referred and wanted me to photograph her wedding. I said I really didn’t do weddings anymore, but she persisted and the voice was so sweet… It was going to be fun, and there was going to be beer and a barbecue… The BBQ sounded pretty good and beer is always hard to turn down and I found myself agreeing to do the wedding and even quoting a very low fee.

Now mind you this was during Tricia’s recovery from the accident and there were no kind words coming from her towards me…. just constant hatred, she blamed photography for her pain and associated me with the photography. Naturally I became distant and not too receptive to her constant nagging, about what I can’t even remember. So I told her I was doing the wedding and she was welcome to come along and be my assistant like before and a meeting was scheduled. I don’t remember all that was discussed at the meeting, just that Susie was so sweet I couldn’t say no about anything! Lol… afterwards Tricia said, “Damn… she has you wrapped around her little finger doesn’t she! I’ve never seen you act that way around a woman!”. She was so sweet and so pretty, and of course Tricia was furious with me but maybe should have taken the lesson in the art of persuasion! Later at the wedding Tricia met Susie’s father and told me that if she had a father like that she might have turned out sweet too…  so my brief foray into marriage counseling and advice to men, if you want a sweet wife, find a woman who had a loving daddy 🙂

It turned out to be a wonderful fun wedding, even Tricia had a good time. And we remained friends with them for a while… Susie even came to my 40th birthday party. And now I have a few more pieces of that period of my life linked back together, by a stretch of mystery highway in the Pike National Forest 🙂

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Dog Tired

Lol… there is nothing like a dog to get you going when you are “Dog Tired”. It has been a rough week so far. Four punishing nights in a row on the loading docks, two early morning dental appointments for a friend, another early morning appointment at the oncology center for another friend. Fighting off a cold to boot. Beautiful day though, record warmth for this day high in the Rockies.

Rocky Mountain Evening (edited)But tonight I was exhausted, the plan was to sit outside with the dogs and enjoy the cool evening breeze, but as luck would have it, the forest critters had the same idea and Son Boy wanted to go play with them… so we had to just go inside where he could not see them anymore. Was going to catch up on my computer work, but I was just too tired and the bed looked way more inviting. Climbed up and promptly fell asleep with the cool breeze and smell of pine blowing on my face through the open window. For a while I thought I was in heaven 🙂

Two doe mule deer in the Pike National ForestBut as the sun neared the ridge I was awakened by the pleading sound of a dog with his head on my knee who did not forget that he missed his walk in the woods this morning. “Shut up Son…” did no good at all. Finally I could not resist those huge  pleading brown eyes any longer and I dragged my tired butt out of bed to put on my shoes…  And off we went, up the mountainside towards the ridge overlooking Ute Pass.

It was an indescribably beautiful evening, no clouds and beautiful evening light bathing the Pike National Forest in a golden glow. The deer and other wildlife were out in number enjoying the evening as well and it was nice to get out and fill my lungs with some fresh air after spending the day in the truck and at the hospital.

Tonight I am thankful to have a dog that got me out of bed even though I was too “Dog Tired” to do it on my own! And I am also thankful that my friend has already received good news from the hospital, the chemo is working, tumors are shrinking and blood numbers are recovering nicely. I think she is going to beat this monster 🙂

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Excellent End to a Bad Day

Not such a great day… didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, one of those nightmares where you are half awake trying to accomplish some task that you can’t figure out and it won’t end… Finally woke up enough to just get up and wake up all the way so I could go back to sleep.

Mule deer in the woodsWoke up tired and sore but feeling slightly better than the last couple of days. Unfortunately that was not to last… got an email from the real estate agent with a whole list of things the seller decided to add after agreeing to my offer. Of course I told them to stuff it and I am now back to the drawing board on finding a place. Feel like I’m running out of time on finding a place 😦

Went to the library to get caught up on the latest Outdoor Photographer Magazine issue and then decided to call it a day, but on the way home I decided that it might be a good idea to take a second hike with the doggies. Noticed that the crazy lady was out in her yard though… right along the path… the one who stares at me and gives me the evil stink eye every time she sees me. Like she is doing some kind of voodoo on me or something. So I decided to just drive around the long way and take the puppies to the trail head on wheels.

On our way up the mountain I heard this tremendous rumbling… almost like thunder. What the hell? Pretty soon I had to scramble off the road to get out of the way of a beat up pickup driven by some kind of “Hills Have Eyes” dude on the trail that isn’t even really a road. The truck really pissed Son Boy off, he’s not a big fan of red neck rigs as it is… He was so riled up we had to call off the trek and just go back to the truck. A fitting end to a complete and utter failure of a day it would seem.

Sunset on Pikes Peak ColoradoBut on the road back home I noticed a herd of deer getting ready for their nightly feeding only a couple blocks from home. Unable to think of any excuse at all not to photograph them, I put the dogs in the house and grabbed my camera. Got some nice shots of the deer, and as a bonus a few captures of a very nice sunset on the peak. Don’t know what the moral of this story is… I guess to keep going, you never know what you are going to encounter around the next bend!

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items