Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: bike, special events

Here’s a question…
If I never really ramped UP my training, do I still get to taper DOWN?!

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Categories: bike, special events, workout

Today was the Chicago Triathlon sponsored by Lifetime Fitness.
And once again I was playing downtown with over 7,000 other triathletes!
International Olympic Distance… SWIM .93 miles, BIKE 24.8 miles, RUN 6.2 miles.

Unfortunately, I can’t carry my camera or phone with me during the swim,
and don’t want to stop during the bike, so I had to “borrow” a few images
off Google Images to help tell the story. And some of the professional photos the race photographers caught of e along the way!

So the day starts very early in the morning. The transition area opens at 4:00am and closes at 5:45am. So all 7,300 triathletes need to get in there and rack their bikes and organize their gear for the day.

I was in Wave 17… starting the race at 7:16am.

Eventually the waves begin entering the Lake. With approximately a hundred people per wave, and another wave taking off every four minutes, it goes pretty fast and before you now it… it’s time for Wave 17!!!

So you line up with your Wave… in color-coded swim caps…

Then you all climb into the lake to tread water for a couple minutes until the Starting Gun.

And then before you know it, you’re out in the thick of things… people swimming all over the place… People swimming around you, over you, kicking you, scraping you… none of which is fun, but you kinda get used to it after a few triathlons. So you do your best to make it to the finish… which is WAY down by the Chicago Yacht Club. That small gray building way at the far end of the photo!!!

And then you finally get out of the water… with the biggest sigh of relief…

Then you need to  jog back to the Transition Area on a long red carpet. You finally get back and now you need to locate your bike & gear amongst the whole sea of seven thousand!!! Good thing to remember your wave number, and to leave yourself a colored marker to help find your bike.

You think that’s bad?…. try viewing the Transition Area from above to see how huge it is…

So you take off your wetsuit and change into your biking gear. Shoes on. Helmet on and you’re ready to head out. So it’s a quick loop north on Lake Shore Drive, turn around at Hollywood, and back down again. Then it’s a quick trip around the city underground on Lower Wacker Drive, followed by the Busway down to McCormick Place and back. Let me just say… biking Lower Wacker Drive is SO MUCH FUN!!!

I was pretty pleased with my bike ride. It all seemed to go well… pretty fast, pretty consistent. Turns out that my biking average speed for the full course was 21.2 miles per hour. Not too shabby.

Then it’s back to the Transition Area where you change out of bikign gear and into running gear. Helmet off. Change of shoes. Chug down some Gatorade… and you’re off on the run. Along the way you see a lot of signs encouraging the runners. Some are better then others… and some, well… are sadly oh so true. And yes…. I’M SMILING!!!

Such focus… one foot in front of the other…

After a 10K run through Museum Campus down to t31st Street Beach and back, you finally make it back to the Finish Line in Grant Park. Always a welcome sight.

You get greeted by well-wishers, announcers and a full fleet if volunteers passing out water, Gatorade, snacks and the ever-coveted Chicago Triathlon Medal.

Tracy was a few waves behind me, so I was waiting at the Finish Line when she came across to get her medal.

Always a fun time hanging out at the Finish Line… especially when you run into a “new best friend” that Tracy made during her run by encouraging him and keeping him going during the run.

While hanging out at the Finish Line, they offer a full meal, free beer (if you’re into that kind of thing which I’m not), and some vendors giving away treats too. Like these yummy frozen yogurt protein bars… Tracy chose the Chocolate Mint Chip mostly because of the fun quote on the packaging… as she knows she’s been “Hangry” before! I chose to try the S’mores flavor… AND the Salted Caramel one… and then finished off Tracy’s Mint Chocolate Chip so I actually had all three flavors!!!

After stretching, re-hydrating, refueling and relaxing a bit, we decided to have a little “:photo shoot” at Buckingham Fountain on our way back to the Transition Area to pick up our bikes and gear.

When you finally get home, you get to relish in your victory… unpack all of your gear so it can dry before going into the laundry basket. And then choosing to each pretty much anything you want. You deserve it. One night to eat whatever you want… you deserve it… you’re a TRIATHLETE!!!

So what were my final results you may ask?
Just remember, I’m never going to WIN any race. Look at me… not built for speed.
Instead, my goal is always to finish, to have fun, and to not injure anything!
And very pleased to say that this was my fastest International Triathlon race yet!

SWIM – 0.93 miles – 47:55
Transition One – 11:07
BIKE – 24.8 miles – 1:09:56
Transition Two – 8:04
RUN – 6.2 miles – 1:06:53

TOTAL TRIATHLON FINISH – 3:23:52

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Categories: bike, production, special events, workout

Tagged & ready to go… err, throw!
Just another relaxing evening behind the wheel before tomorrow’s excitement!

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Categories: creativity, inspiration, music, special events, theater

Tonight was a wonderful night under the White Big Top.
Located down in the south parking lot of Soldier Field is a temporary white tent..
and it’s HUGE!!! Much larger than the tent they had a few years back when CAVALIA
first came to Chicago. I saw the show then and was instantly mesmerized. I sadly assumed it was a one-time show… so imaging my surprise & excitement when I saw they were returning to Chicago with a new show!!!

And it’s got to be that big to house a show this HUGE!!!
You should know by now that I’m a card-carrying Cirque du Soleil geek.
And while this is NOT a Cirque show, it is definitely very reminiscent of their splendor.
Think of it as Cirque du Soleil with a herd of horses running free!!!

Click here to see the official trailer for CAVALIA’s ODYSSEO.

It’s an amazingly beautiful and mesmerizing evening. The live band and singer were captivating while each of the acts were amazing. The colors, the costumes, the complete package. The horses are amazing in all their regal glory. Somehow they “perform” just as much as the human performers. They dance, prance and turn on cue. Somehow these “wild” horses storm the stage racing at full speed… and then a moment later are gentle, clam & graceful. It’s amazing to watch how well trained the horses are. And even more touching that you can actually see how much the trainers love their horses… and even better, that you can literally see how much the horses LOVE their trainers. Seriously. You can see the bond, the trust and the love of working together among the entire cast… human and equine!!!

Sure, there are acrobatic acts much like a more traditional Cirque du Soleil show…

But then there’s also horse galloping and trick riders flying all over the place.
Oh wait, and did I mention the water?!!!

For a bit more insight about the creator and the show from behind the scenes, click here for a very insightful CAVALIA video on YouTube.

And while the show is AMAZING!!!
They also host a wide collection of horse sculptures and paintings.
A veritable art gallery… like the CAVALIA theatrical spectacle weren’t enough!!!

And you know how I LOVE rusty metal….

In addition to the metal sculpture horses,they also had a wide collection of incredible horse paintings. I loved the gestural line quality of these beauties by Sebastien Larochelle…

And my favorite painting by Lea Riviere…

Overall, an amazing night of equine beauty.
It’s all of the spectacle drama and beauty of Cirque du Soleil AND horses!!!
If you EVER have a chance to see CAVALIA live under the Big Top… by all means do!!!

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Categories: special events

Thank you TurboTax… for making this process not so impossible.

And the United States Government for making this painful as always to “giveaway” tons of cash at the end of a year where I’ve worked HARD to make a living… lots of pots, lots of teaching, lots of work. Sometimes makes you reconsider this “glamorous” life as self-employed artist.

But trust me, this feeling will dissipate… and things will be back to normal soon. It just STINGS a bit when you hit that “Send” button!!!

Ouch!

A good sunrise. Another bike ride. Some chocolate. And we’ll all feel a lot better…
Another year done. Moving forward!!!

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Categories: bowls, lillstreet, special events

Just dropped off my bowls for tomorrow night’s EMPTY BOWLS event at Lillstreet Art Center. A great night for a great cause. Lots of bowls being donated by students, teachers and studio members. Stop by Lillstreet tomorrow night between 5:00-8:00pm to pick your bowl, get it filled with soup and make a donation to First Slice so they can continue doing good deeds feeding the needy & hungry. And you keep the bowl…

Click here for more information about EMPTY BOWLS at Lillstreet Art Center.

Categories: special events, theater

Looks like “big fun” has popped up along the Lakefront. We already have our tickets…
no horsing around for us!!! Can’t wait!!!

Categories: food, special events

And to celebrate the first day of Spring, looks like most non-mall Dairy Queens will be giving way free vanilla ice cream cones today!!! All day… and did I mention FREE?!!!!

Categories: artists, pottery, special events

It’s just three months away… and time to start counting the days!
To my favorite Pottery Tour of the year. The St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour.
And this year’s tour promises to be one of the best ever!!!
It’s their 25th Anniversary!!!

As usual, there are seven host locations on the tour. And this year they have invited fifty-two guests artists to join in the celebration. Promising to be an incredible three-day weekend in Minnesota!!! So many pots to see. So many potters to chat with. So much fun for everyone!!! I’ll be coming up as usual to play at all of the locations… and “quite possibly”, add a new pot… or two… or twelve to my collection?!!!

I know I will be going up for the weekend. Wouldn’t miss it. It’s an annual adventure!
Unfortunately, I haven’t been “invited” to be one of the guest artists… yet… so I will still be there shopping, chatting and admiring a TON of wonderful pottery with everyone else!!! It’s the best pottery weekend every year… and I’d love to see some blog fans there!!!

To see the full list of participating potters, and complete Tour details,
click here for the Minnesota Potters website.

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Categories: family, special events, Taylor

Sure, it’s freezing cold outside today… but the summer memories are still warm!
So here’s another summer flashback!!!

We started our day (back in August) at Six Flags Great America… and of course we had to start on a roller coaster! Taylor may have been a little cautious at first, but that didn’t last long…

Then we were off to my favorite… The Raging Bull.

After our first couple roller coasters, we played Whack-A-Mole… and I WON!!!
But the best part was that we ALL won colorful character baseball hats!!!
We looked gangsta’s in the hood of Nickelodeon!

More spinning… more squealing… more giggling…

Of course we had to take a cotton candy break… it is Great America after all.
And who doesn’t like a little more sugar to keep everyone amp’d up?!!!

More roller coasters… more fun… this time back on The Viper!!!

Seems like it was all coasters all the time… including the X-Flight!!!

Taylor was great at most of the roller coasters… although she drew the line at Vertical Velocity. I had to do that one with my cousin Kim while Jen & Taylor did the flying swings a couple times. In hind sight, the swings may have been better for Kim too… she was a bit queasy after this one! Magnetic jet-propulsion, twisting and flying straight up might not be her thing?!

All too soon, the sun started to set and our day was drawing to an end. The park takes on a whole new look as the sun goes down and the park lights begin to turn on.

It may have been sunset, but we still had time for a few more rides. Including another ride on Taylor’s favorite The Viper. Which looks so much cooler with the silhouettes of sunset.

Darkness was falling quick and we had time for one last ride… Spinning & swinging on The Revolution. So much fun… especially in the dark when all the lights are blurring, spinning and sparkling. A fitting end to our wonderful day at Great America… oh wait, that might have been the funnel cakes ala mode with hot fudge that we had just before leaving the park?!!!