Endurance

This time of year always reminds me of the big endurance races here in Colorado, the Pikes Peak Marathon and the Leadville 100 Mile “Race Across the Sky”. Although it has been a long time since I have run the race I know the trials and tribulations of attempting to run 100 miles at an average of 10,000 feet of elevation have permanently changed my mindset regarding what the mind can force the body to accomplish.

Steve & Dad Leadville (wordpress)When my buddy and I were on the descent from our winter summit of Mount Elbert last year, we knew we were nearing the parking lot but it was getting cold and dark and we were really tired from 10 hours of hiking in snow. That’s when your mind starts telling you that you aren’t going to make it, or you are on the wrong trail, or that you didn’t prepare and train enough to accomplish what you are trying to do. He said to me, maybe we should just stop and camp… I’m sure I was just as exhausted and miserable as anyone could be but I said no, we can make it… I said we could go another 50 miles feeling this miserable! Lol, sounds funny but it’s true.

The Leadville 100 is an out and back race from the town of Leadville, Colorado to the ghost town of Winfield at an average of 10,000 feet over three mountain passes including Hope Pass at 12,600 feet. And I can tell you when you summit Hope Pass the second time after 12 hours of running with your legs feeling like two pieces of useless rubber, sick to your stomach and heart feeling like it is going to explode inside your chest, there is no earthly reason why you should believe that you are going to be able to run another 45 miles over two more mountain passes… in the dark.

But somehow all the training, past experience, determination and pure force of will come together to keep you going, just because you can and because you can’t bear the thought of living another year with the specter of failure hanging over your life while you train another twelve long months for another shot at it. And once you stagger across that finish line you are somehow different and the change applies to many aspects of life. Things you thought you would never be able to accomplish become possible. Things that cause others to shrink in fear are small in your mind now. In your chest beats the heart of a champion and no one can ever take that away from you, ever.

The picture is of me and my dad nearing the finish line in Leadville. My dad was a runner too and I always liked having him pace me for the last section from Twin Lakes on into town… He was my life coach when I was growing up and while others might have felt sorry for me and maybe allowed me to give up so close to the finish line I could always count on kind words of encouragement from my dad… Lol… like “oh shut up and get going, we’re almost there!”… 🙂 I always liked this picture, not because it is the most scenic or dramatic but because it is the one that shows the sheer magnitude of the race. The mountains in the background towering over the skyline are where the war takes place. Looking back now it is hard to even imagine crossing those mountains twice, but I did and I am a better person for the experience. Good luck and Godspeed to all who are facing the monster this year!

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

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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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

Ebb and Flow

Totally resisting going out into the world this morning. Monday on the  job getting harder and harder to face… After three days off from my unfortunate necessary supplemental job, the old body feels mostly like I haven’t been run over by a  truck and I am not looking forward to the return of the pain.

Snowy RockiesSo while still basking in the good feelings I have from yesterday’s Donkey Derby in Cripple, I am working on these winter pictures from last year that I was not able to process at the time, hoping that if I stall long enough there will be some miracle and I won’t have to go to work. As far as the images, the camera got them right but my old version of Photoshop mostly turned them white and I was not able to pull the details out and make a decent image from the raw captures. However I now have the most recent version of the Photoshop Cloud with some new tools available and I am enjoying making something of these images that I took while snowshoeing in a snowstorm in the Pike National Forest high on a ridge north of Ute Pass Colorado.

The tool that has made the difference is in the special effects section of Camera Raw. The reduce haze tool is able to bring out the details from behind the falling snow and make some pretty cool looking art! Also, in the ebb and flow of the stock photography business, iStock / Getty seems to have turned the corner and is starting to make a comeback. I had sort of given up on them and turned my attention to Adobe, but despite having the worst commissions anywhere, iStock / Getty continues to be my biggest income earner and is showing signs of a significant pickup in sales. So just in time for uploading some fall and winter images to my agencies, it is a stroke of good fortune that I have been able to resurrect these snowy images.

They are also making a nice addition to my own website where I sell my collection of prints and gift items. I have put the winter images in the Rocky Mountain Winter gallery, so if you want to see the new ones, just click on the gallery links to open the contents.

Finally, my photography tip of the day… if the zipper on your camera bag is getting a bit sticky just pull the Chapstick out of your pocket and run it over the teeth. Chapstick is based on paraffin which is better than using a petroleum based product like Vaseline. Slide the zipper back and forth a few times, and it should be good as new!

 

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

Writer’s Block

I have heard of Writer’s Block… a situation where a writer cannot seem to write anymore for some unknown reason. I have had some Writer’s Block lately, but I know the reason. I know what I am supposed to write, I just don’t want to do it. So I guess if I’m going to get past here I’m going to have to write it. The last couple of trips to Denver have been very depressing. There is a particular intersection that Tricia and I encountered hundreds of times, usually on our way back from a day of errands or projects. Santa Fe is a main artery out of the city and parts further north and is where we would make the turn to the east for the home stretch on the highway. My last couple of trips to Denver brought me to that place and for some reason as I sat there waiting for the light I was overwhelmed by a tidal wave of memories. Memories of our twenty years together in that place. Memories of return trips from the antique malls up north, of holiday shopping in Littleton and of the Christmas store on Santa Fe. Memories of DJ gigs in that part of town, of trips to Southwest Plaza, Chatfield and Waterton Canyon. Memories of trips to the thrift stores to hunt for treasures in the piles of rubble dumped on the shelves. Romano’s was our favorite restaurant in the whole world, a little place just off of Littleton Blvd. and how I have missed it since we moved away. And of course there are good feelings of the financial security and good health we enjoyed while we were there. We had friends and co-workers, there were company parties, church functions and a sense of belonging. There were also calls from work, people with questions, problems to solve, and a feeling of being needed. I had other things I wanted to do this week while I was in the Denver, but the pain I felt sitting at that intersection was too unbearable. So I just headed straight down Santa Fe past C-470 where it becomes Highway 85 and a great way to miss all the traffic on the way back to Colorado Springs. I sped away as quickly as I could but the depression remained for days, same thing with this weeks road trip. So I was praying to have the depression lifted and for a way through the impenetrable wall of pain. As usual, the answer came from the Word of God. One word, Egypt, one of the earliest stories in the Old Testament. Of course it is the story of the Ten Commandments. The Hebrews were at first overjoyed as they left 400 years of hard bondage and slavery behind, but soon the heat and desolation of the desert had soured their mood toward the journey to an unknown place. Food and water were in short supply, the days of walking long and hard. They started to murmur, “At least we had food in Egypt.”. They said to Moses, “Have you led us into the desert to kill us?”. They had quickly forgotten the pain and merciless toil of life as a slave. And it occurred to me that five years away from there has dulled the memory of the hardship there. I had forgotten the torture it was to sit in a cubicle for eight, nine, ten and even more hours of mind numbing tedium. Forgotten were the one hour commutes morning and night in heavy traffic, driving to work in the dark in the morning and coming back in the dark at night. Forgotten were car accidents caused by too many trips and too many cars on the roads. And of course there were the ever present problems with the old house which we not so affectionately called the Money Pit after the Tom Hanks and Shelly Long movie. I had also forgotten the rage and hatred I fostered towards a nit picking homeowner’s association manned by busy bodies with nothing better to do than spend their days trying to find ways to torment people. Forgotten was the dismay when we discovered that the landing pattern for DIA was right over our house. Forgotten was the road past the lake that turned our street into a thoroughfare for delivery trucks on their way to other towns, turning our quiet little street into a roaring truck route where deer and dogs and cats were routinely run down by careless mentally challenged delivery drivers. I had forgotten the heartbreak we experienced when they cut down the forest where we loved to go snowshoeing in order to clear the way for the mansions they wanted to build. Forgotten were the anger I felt when the bosses would make the announcement that profits were too low for raises this time, and the next time and the next. It was then that I remembered how much we hated the place and how we had tried for so long to find a way out. Our hatred for the city is what drove us to try all the businesses, to find something that could sustain us somewhere else so that we would have the confidence to make the break. And we did finally make the break to our new start here in the mountains. Of course life in the mountains comes with it’s own set of hardships, but they are just problems to solve not the insidious spirit crushing stress of city life that has no beginning, end or identifiable solution. Sometimes we need to take a step back and recognize that God knows to take care of His own. He had been telling us for a long time to get out but instead of obeying immediately we tried to work every detail. When this is done or that is done, or this amount of money comes in, then we will go. Perhaps if we had gone sooner Tricia wouldn’t have gotten the cancer. In any case, the place is my Egypt and I am certain that the flood of memories I experience the next time I’m there will only serve to remind me that I don’t miss that life at all, and of how happy I am to be living in the mountains. There is a saying up here, “If you are lucky enough to live in the mountains, you are lucky enough.”. I agree and I hope that this writing helps anyone out there reading this who is missing their “Egypt”.

Memories

Haunted by memories, that’s what I’m noticing these days. At first I didn’t notice it too much because I was already feeling bad anyway and I was busy with my nose to the grindstone moving out of the old place and into the new. Now the pressure for the move is off and I am finding time to do some other things that I enjoy. However, I am also finding that all the places I enjoy and all the things I like to do are reminding me of the partner I no longer have.

The Colorado Springs area was always our special place. We lived in a subdivision south of Parker and it was only a quick 45 minute drive down highway 83 to the Springs and many of our favorite things to do. We loved coming down here to avoid the Denver traffic and do our shopping. We had some favorite restaurants and enjoyed going to the health food stores for our groceries. We especially liked Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City where we would walk the downtown and enjoy a coffee somewhere. Then of course we finally moved down here and settled in Woodland Park. We didn’t have too many good memories of this town though, pretty much just hardship and suffering since the day we arrived. It is also a small town, so it didn’t take to long to find and do pretty much everything fun to do here.

The other day I was out and about and needed to stop in and use some wifi to upload my pictures, so I stopped in at the coffee shop where she liked to go. At the end it was about the only place she could go, as there was a recliner chair there with a footrest attachment and huge south facing windows. The sun would shine in and she could sit in that chair and get warm. The cancer robbed so much of her energy that she was always cold, but at the coffee shop she could sit there and enjoy some warm time. So anyway as I sat there I could not help but notice the empty recliner and it was too much to bear. I finished my uploads and got out as fast as I could. The library is the same way. Before she got too sick, she loved going there and looking at magazines and picking out movies. Now I don’t like going there and I don’t even like watching movies anymore. My friends were our friends, the church was our church. Today I went to the Greek Grill in the Springs that we used to go back in the “good times”. Same thing, but I was hungry and needed something good, so it was worth the pain. The girls at the counter hadn’t heard and both cried when they asked about her and I could only shake my head.

I don’t know how to deal with this, except that I am getting rid of everything as fast as I can in case I just have to leave this place. I wonder how many other people have just had to leave somewhere and get a completely new start? I wonder if it would even work. I wonder if I stay here long enough if the bad feelings will pass. Sometimes I wonder why I’d even want to stay here. Time will tell.