On the Run

Morning Sun Deer Herd

Not much to say about today… we woke up and hit the trail early. We found the animals and tried to get close for some good captures. But all things don’t always go according to plan and as you can see all we have to show for this morning’s work is the backside of some deer running away from us 😦

Hopefully tomorrow will be better, another trip to Waterton Canyon is planned and with God’s grace my camera chip will once again be filled with images of majestic bighorn sheep! And hopefully maybe some deer and a bear 🙂

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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

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

Donkey Derby Days

Another thing I’ve been wanting to do, Donkey Derby Days in Cripple Creek, Colorado… like forever. Almost skipped out again but when faced with going home for cooking and  cleaning it was a no brainer. A quick drive to Cripple and me and the doggies were headed for main street to see the action. Unfortunately, one of the first events was the doggy contests on the main stage and Son Boy wasn’t down for the whole contest idea. He just wanted to go play with all the doggies, which made it difficult to take pictures, stand still, stand up, or do any kind of normal festival activity. So off they went back to the truck in the nice cool parking garage for a nap 😦

Donkey WalkingI was expecting to see more of the indigenous donkey herd but there were a few donkeys owned by locals that were giving rides to kids that made for a good photo op. Donkeys and owners alike were decked out in amazing period costumes. Watched some donkey rides and a few of the doggy contests before retiring to the beer garden for a nice cold Belgian White before the main event was to take place, the famous donkey races… Enjoyed watching the music, including the Air Force Academy Band and taking in the sights… all the vendors and visitors in an amazing colorful old west scene!

Finally 1:30 rolled around and I staked out a vantage point where I could get some good shots. I watched through my long lens as the donkeys and people racers prepared at the starting line up by the Jail Museum. Finally, the gunshot and off they went! Right through the people and up Bennett Avenue towards the east end of town. Probably about a half dozen semi reluctant burros streamed past me on their journey to the finish line. Tried to get some video, but obviously I have not perfected that skill yet 😦Derby Winner

Don’t know who won the thing, doesn’t really matter to me, I just wanted to be part of this experience at least once! The local donkeys have an interesting history. They are believed to be the direct descendants of the burros used by the gold rush miners of the area’s old west origin over a century ago. The animals roam the streets freely in the summertime and enjoy receiving special donkey treats that can be obtained for a donation in many of the local establishments.

 

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

Best of the Best

My Alamy stock image portfolio doesn’t get a lot of attention in my pages, perhaps because it is the smallest of my image portfolios. But I’m thinking it should get more love! I have been with Alamy for nearly a decade now, and during that time I have carefully selected only the best images from each photo shoot to place there. So although I only have a few over one thousand images there, they are the cream of the crop.

And that’s not the only reason my clients might want to purchase stock imagery from the Alamy agency. As one of the oldest digital image pioneers, Alamy is also the most fair to photographers, paying the highest commissions of any of the major players. In addition, Alamy is also a major contributor to charity, helping to find a cure for cancer. Alamy was founded in 1999 James West, along with his uncle Mike Fischer, who “By this time was also involved in research: medical and education. So the agreement was that in lieu of dividends for the major shareholders, payments would be invested into Mike’s medical research charity. A charity which is investigating and, hopefully, developing vaccines against cancer.”.

My contract with another agency states that if I submit an image there and it gets rejected the image cannot be used anywhere else for any other reason. So for each photo shoot, I look through the images and look for the best and most unique and I ask myself a question, “Will I lose sleep if this one gets rejected and taken out of circulation?” If the answer is yes and the exposure is of the exceptionally high standard required by the Alamy editors, I will submit it to Alamy instead of another place where it is more likely to have a high volume of low priced sales.

So if you want to take a tour through my cream of the crop over the last decade, please have a look at my Alamy image portfolio! And if you are a stock buyer, I urge you to look with an eye cast towards your next advertising or publishing campaign!

Coincidence

Going through the nearly 8,000 images I captured over the summer and fall making sure I have all the editorial photographs uploaded to iStock for the big transfer to Getty Images that is supposed to occur sometime shortly after the first of the year. One of my major photography goals for the summer was to photograph the Garden of the Gods 10 Mile Run. It is a special race for me as it was my first run in excess of the 10K distance many years ago, plus for my stock photography business I am well aware that the scenery and splendor of the race will be invaluable in my portfolio.

Most of my year prior to that had been taken up by Tricia’s illness and the necessary activities pursuant to her death that were required in order for me to move on with my life. Finally in June the stormy skies of hardship were starting to part and there was time to start thinking about beginning a life of my own, on my own. I was determined to capture this race so I made sure I was up early on that Sunday morning and in the park before all the roads were closed. Fortunately I was there in time to get a good parking spot in the park with plenty of time to get my gear ready and find a good vantage point.

Within a couple of hours the race was winding down and I was satisfied that I had a sufficient collection of images to tell the story of the race in an article for the Examiner and also for some good stock imagery as well. On my way back to the car I looked back and noticed some nice scenery and a view of the tiny runners headed back to Manitou Springs and the finish line. So I stopped and unpacked the camera for a few more images.

SummerI didn’t know until today how special one of those images would be to me. I hadn’t even heard of the Intemann Trail and had no idea that I would be exploring that and many other historic trails in the area over the rest of the summer. No idea that I would meet a special friend that I had only known by the words and pictures now possible through the miracle of the internet.

Today as I neared the end of the images to upload, one stood out. As I soaked it in I realized that this one image summarized my whole summer. My activities, my new friendship and a passing from my old life to a new life filled with promise and hope for the future. In this one image is the start of summer, the race, the fulfillment of a years long desire. In the background, Red Mountain, Iron Mountain, the path of the Intemann Trail, a summer’s worth of memories and the representation of a new friendship.

At the time this image was captured I had no idea that I would climb those mountains, hike those trails, write of their history, including the legend of Emma Crawford and cultivate a new friendship. Now as I look at that image, I am amazed that so much could be captured in one simple picture.

Holidays BT

Have been struggling to come to grips with the first holiday season I will be spending without Trica in 27 years. Last year Tricia was in the wheelchair not able to do any cooking but my sweet friend and awesome gourmet cook, Heike, invited us over to her and Pat’s house for a wonderful day of turkey and excellent old world German cooking. I have been dreading the holidays for a few weeks now, unsure of what it is going to be like to be alone when everyone else is enjoying their families. Now obviously I could just go back to Iowa and have Thanksgiving with my huge beautiful family there if it weren’t for the wreckage of life after cancer and death that I am dealing with here in Colorado at the time. On the other hand after the loss of a life partner you feel alone no matter how many people you surround yourself with.

Ooops, blog post running of the tracks again. So anyway I have been thinking about this a lot lately and last night I dreamed I was running the Mile High Turkey Trot four mile race with a dear friend from what seems like a previous lifetime. When I awoke thinking about the dream it started to come back to me that for quite a few years running the race WAS the way I celebrated Thanksgiving. As far as I was concerned it was the way TO celebrate Thanksgiving. Up at sunrise, pin on the number and head out into a cold blast of November morning air in your shorts and t-shirt. No turkey to buy, no mess to clean up, no relatives to bicker with. Food, no problem… only a runner can appreciate the joy of drinking a cold beer at 10:00 a.m. in your sweaty running clothes in frigid temperatures surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of like minded people. It doesn’t get any better than that 🙂 If the post race snack and libations aren’t enough, someone is always having a Thanksgiving brunch, and a gourmet champagne breakfast is probably cheaper than having to buy a turkey with all the trimmings.

So anyway, that was how Thanksgiving was done before Tricia, or BT as I now call it. Tricia, however had a different idea of how Thanksgiving was supposed to be run and come to think of it, the race was a great source of friction when we first got married. She was mad that I was never there to help start cooking the huge meal that I didn’t want. So year after year the fighting continued until I eventually wore down and gave up the race. Years went by and the Thanksgiving race faded from memory completely, until last night.

So anyway, as I continue down this road back to my life that once was, I remember that I was 30 when we met. I had my own life, my own way of doing things and my own ideas of how things were supposed to be. Little by little it is coming back and I am realizing how much I have missed the freedom of life BT! Well, better get going, this blog has given me an idea for an Examiner Article! Time to write about all the Turkey Trots going on in the Front Range on the Turkey Day! Turkey Day? Who knows, maybe I’ll run the race! It has been a long time but I think if I can claw my way to the top of the Manitou Inline I can probably jog a few miles for a breakfast beer at the finish line in Wash Park 🙂