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



It’s always great to wake up the next morning and see that Finisher’s medal sitting there by the bed… confirming that YES, you did indeed finished another IRONMAN race! It was NOT just a big dream!!!

And another souvenir T-shirt… like I don’t have enough race T-shirts already?!
But c’mon… it’s another full 140.6 mile IRONMAN!!! I worked hard for this one!


Part of the morning ritual is removing my race number tattoos… some box sealing tape to help peel them back off. One number at a time! Followed by one of the best showers you’ve ever had!!!

A little stiff & groggy, but warming up nicely. Surprisingly not too sore. Feeling pretty good.

Slowly packing up my gear… clothes, shoes, bike stuff and junk spread all over our hotel room!!! And a HUGE pile of food that I never quite got around to eating! All of my favorites… Honey Stinger Gels, Clif Bloks, Clif Bars, bananas, the NEW Nut-Butter Filled Clif Bars, Base Salt, apples and tuna!

All too soon it was time to pack up the car after another amazing race weekend in Louisville.




Categories: bike, special events, workout



So it’s RACE DAY!!!

Starts off VERY early in the morning. Nervously waking up, running through the shower, shaving, eating some food, double-checking everything… just to get in line and sit for hours waiting for your chance to jump in the water.

So the way they did it in Louisville last year was that each athlete had to “choose” which group they belonged in based on their estimated swim finish time. Now I know I’m NOT a good swimmer… and I would be LUCKY to finish in under two hours… but I thought that if I started in  a slightly faster group it might spur me along a bit.

Keep in mind, there’s a HARD CUT-OFF DEADLINE of two hours & twenty minutes for the swim. Don’t make it out of the water in two hours, twenty minutes and your race day is OVER!!! My biggest fear!

And then after waiting in the darkness for over an hour, the line finally started to move as the sun was just coming up. Nervousness sinks in as you get closer to the pier where the jump-in happens!

Excited and nervous all at the same time!!!

So everyone jumps in the Ohio River off the pier. Your time starts when you actually jump off.

You swim upstream between the shoreline and a small island. This is a Google photo… but trust me, this is what it looks like as you’re swimming in the morning sunrise with steam coming up from the the warm water!

Once you get past the island, you swim a bit further and turn around the floating pylon way out in the water. You turn around and start swimming back the other way. You need to cross under two of the huge expressway bridges before you can think about getting out!

And yes… there are a LOT of people splashing around in the water. Bumping you. Scratching you. Swimming over you. Takes awhile to get used to that part. Most of them are actually swimming. I’m more in the side-stroke category!!! I’m not a good swimmer… so I call mine more like “flailing & floundering in a forward direction.”

Eventually you get to the end of the swim. With a HUGE sigh of relief.
You see Joe’s Crab Shack and the exit arch for SWIM OUT.
And you just hope that you made it in under the cut-off time!

And I did!!!
I made it in under two hours!!! So excited… I get to keep moving on in my race day!
So excited to see Chris there at the Swim Exit cheering me on!… and taking photos!

And then it’s back to the Transition Area to find you Bike Gear Bag so I can change clothes and put on my biking shoes & helmet. You drop off your bag that now has your Swim Gear in it… and you’re heading off for a “leisurely” 112 mile bike ride!

And here we go… after a quick high-five and words of encouragement from Chris on the sidelines!

And let’s just say, it’s not really all that FLAT in Louisville… there are a few hills along the way too!

So you’re out there biking through rural Louisville.
Lots of rolling hills and bluegrass horse farms. Beautiful weather…
and then… uh ohSTORM CLOUDS!!!

Seemingly out of nowhere… huge clouds, gusts of wind and sharp sprinkles of rain.
The combination of wind & rain made the drops feel spiky on your skin! It was pretty much the last half of the ride through the stormfront!!! It was so bad that many people were posting videos on Facebook!!!

While others were posting weather facts & updates!!! And YES, it was tough pedaling through the gusty winds! You just had to keep your head down, tuck it in on the aero bars and keep pedaling!!!

When I finally got back to the Transition Area on my bike, I was more than ready to get off. It was cold with gusty winds. My fingers & ears were frozen. The sweaty clothing made your chilled very quickly when you stopped pedaling. Couldn’t wait to get out of my wet biking clothes and into some dry running clothes. Not quite sure what to wear for the run portion. You only have the clothing options that you packed in your Run Gear Bag. Which luckily I had plenty of options. But the “problem” is that you don’t want to wear too much and overheat along the way. You also don’t want to wear too little and get chilled… again!

So I finally made my choices, went for shorts & bike jersey with snacks & gloves in my back pockets! Ready to head off for a full marathon of fun!!! So god to see Chris waiting for me at the end of the Transition chute… huge encouragement and support!!! Much needed after the chilly bike ride… hoping that the storm front had moved out of the area for the run!

Halfway through the run, you finish your first lap and they bring you so close to the Finish Line you can see the lights, hear the applause, feel the music… and then they make your turn right a block before… turning you around for another 13.1 miles!!! PSYCH!! Like it’s not hard enough after 13 miles, the sun has gone down, it’s now dark & cold… and the TEASE YOU with the Finish Line!!!

Luckily, Chris was right there waiting for me at the Special Needs station…
right after that vicious right hand turn away from the Finish Line!

Bad camera, blurry photo… trust me, it’s NOT that I’m running so fast that I’m a big blur!!!

And then I got to stop for my Special Needs Bag… at the half-way point of the marathon. Pre-planned with some more food, chance to change clothes, Chapstick, etc. Luckily Chris was there to snap a couple pictures and to see me snarfing down some food… like a pouch of tuna fish with my fingers!

The remains of my Special Needs bag…

A quick breather… and then it was time for the next 13.1 miles.
The toughest part of the race! You’re SO close… and yet SO far away. It’s dark and cold,
and you’ve still got another couple HOURS of running ahead of you!

So you know what it looks like… and some of you don’t?! Here’s what Fourth Street Live looks like on race day at the Finish Line. Lights glaring. Musing blasting. Crowds cheering. Bellowing for each and every athlete to cross that elusive Finish Line. SO  EXCITING!!!

A system of volunteers ready to help the athletes navigate the Finish Line…
photos, water, metallic blankets, photos… and of course, Finisher medals!!!

But then again… back to ME!!!
I finally made it… as the Announcer blares out on the microphone…


The phrase that every athlete has been looking forward to all day long!

And there it is… and the sense of accomplishment. 140.6miles of fun!!!
And my SECOND FULL IRONMAN!!!and still smiling!!!

So here are my official IRONMAN Louisville results…
almost an hour and half better than last year!!!

And for those who care for a bit more detail… more than I need to know…

All in all… another wonderful day in Louisville.
LONG… but wonderful.







Categories: bike, special events, workout



Saturday starts early with a lot of nervous energy & prepping for everything! So much fun being surrounded with so much energy & camaraderie. So many athletes who have worked so hard to get to theis place. All ready for a great weekend. A lot of organization & planning… starting with checking in at IRONMAN Village. You pick up your bag & race info, get your timing chip and race numbers. Then they funnel you out through the IRONMAN Merchandise Tent… convenient, huh?

Enjoying some of the Louisville waterfront along the Ohio River. Amazing bridges crossing the river. Beautiful now… but a bit overwhelming just knowing that tomorrow I would be in that huge river swimming for my life… a full 2.4 miles of swimming in the Ohio River!

And then it was back to the hotel to pack up my gear bags and prep my bike. An IRONMAN race is organized to perfection… and a system of gear bags staged at different points along the way. So you’ve got to plan accordingly… and then hope for the best.

After placing your gear bags, you have put your bike into the Transition Area according to your race number in the sea of bicycles on the pre-numbered racks. Gotta keep track of where you leave your bike… so you can find it later!!! It gets a little hectic during the race with athletes racing in & out scrambling all over the place – coming in, going out, finding their bike & bags!!!

A lot of bikes… 2,000 athletes means 2,000 bikes!!!

With the bridges off in the distance, it was time to go have a quick bite of lunch. So we went down to Fourth Street Live… kind of the hip & happening area of town. Also exciting knowing that the IRONMAN Finish Line would be right here in the same spot tomorrow!!!

So Chris and I  hung out for awhile, went back to the hotel for a nap, and then it was time for a quick dinner. So we went back to Fourth Street Live area for a nutritious dinner that would get me through the race tomorrow. I chose my favorite Chipotle. I know, not too exciting. But I like it. And I know it works well with my stomach with good nutrition for tomorrow. And quite honestly… there was a bit of “superstition” in it as well. I ate Chipotle last year for my first IRONMAN and all went well. No need to change that, right?! So we finished dinner, went for a quick walk through downtown Louisville to work off some nerves… and “maybe” some ice cream… when the sun had set it was time to get to bed for an early night’s sleep. For tomorrow is going to be a  BIG DAY!!!







Categories: friends, special events

So here we go… better late than never, right???

IRONMAN 2017   :   My Second Full IRONMAN.

So my IRONMAN adventure this time began with a drive down to Louisville with my best biking buddy & IRONMAN Sherpa Chris!!! She came with me last time, and I sherpa’d her IRONMAN Madison 2017… and now she’s coming back for my second time!!!

As we’re driving down through Indiana towards Louisville, we start to see these billboards. We’re chatting, driving, singing… and we keep seeing these billboards for Louisville Mega Cavern. Now I’ve never been in a cave, or a cavern… never been spelunking! Never really thought about it. But these billboards kept mentioning ZIP-LINING!!!…. and even better… UNDERGROUND ZIP-LINING!!!

Chris suddenly hopped on her phone, and before I knew it… we had reservations to go zip-lining that evening!!! Maybe NOT the best idea when I’m supposed to be relaxing & preparing for Sunday’s race. But I didn’t care… I’m in!!!

So we got to Louisville, checked in to the hotel and went out for some dinner before zip-lining. Luckily, the concierge had some great suggestions for food. We ate FAR too much food… ordering a bunch thinking we were going to take some leftovers back to the hotel. Well, we were “carbo-loading” and we finished everything!!!

And then we changed clothes per their suggestion to long pants & closed-toed shoes.
And then we drove over to the Louisville Mega Caverns.

A little disconcerting when you see signs like this along the way…

So then we head over to Louisville Mega Caverns. We parked the car and entered through a tunnel in the side of the hill. Walked through a hallway that look far too much like we were entering the Dharma Initiative. We checked in, signed our lives away with their Waiver.. and then got suited up!!! UNDERGROUND!!!

We got some basic training… they gathered us up for the tour…
venturing further down underground… and then the LIGHTS WENT OUT!!!

And then the ZIPPING began!!!

The first line was easy. Getting you accustomed to the flight. And then each one got cooler & cooler… with ropes, suspension bridges & theatrical lighting to make the place even cooler!!!

And then we finally ended again on terra firma. Another great adventure for me & Chris. I love traveling with her… she’s always up for ANYTHING!!!…. and conveniently, so am I.

So, thanks to our amazing tour guides, and all of their bad jokes (which I LOVE)…. we made it through the course without injury. They kept telling us to lift our legs, be careful not to bang your feet, don’t twist your ankles, don’t bang a leg… all things that would NOT have been good for my upcoming race on Sunday! Oh well… we made it… and we had a AMAZING ADVENTURE UNDERGROUND!!!




Categories: bike, special events, workout

So I’ve been a little busy… one thing leads to another…
suddenly it was the holidays, then art fair season, then Summer Camp…
and all of a sudden before I knew it… it was a year later!!! A year ago TODAY!!!

But IRONMAN is more than just one day. It’s a full weekend of fun!
That also means I also have a full weekend of photos & stories to share.

So here we go… a year later… hopefully worth the wait… and several posts to go!!!



Categories: bike, special events


Always a great bike ride through the rural hills of Southern Indiana. And with the surprisingly
PERFECT weather this past weekend, this year’s HILLY HUNDRED was SPECTACULAR!!!

Always so fun to get out of the City, relax in the fresh air, and pedal a hundred miles of hills through rural Indiana. Half of the ride is downhill, right???

So here’s just a few of the sights along the way. I’ve always said “The best part of biking is stopping.” You don’t always get to see & experience things if you just pedal past them!

And what self-respecting bike ride rest stop would be without bananas??? Well these rest stops rocked it out with bananas, apples, apple cider, water, Gatorade, sweets and DONUTS!!!… including pumpkin donuts… and SQUARE donuts that actually fit the box?!!!

Both days we pedaled past the Bybee Stone Company of Elletsville… with some pretty fun carved limestone sculptures out front.




Categories: family, special events, Taylor


After pedaling a hundred miles of hills this past weekend… it was great fun to take on a bunch of “different” hills Monday at Six Flags Great America!!! So much fun playing at Fright Fest with my “Cohorts In Coasters”… my sister Jen & niece Taylor!


Categories: Chicago, flowers, food, nature, special events

So I had to go downtown to renew my Driver’s License today. As I was leaving I noticed the Farmer’s Market across the street at Daley Plaza. So I just “had to” stop by for some Fall fun at the Farmer’s Market. Who doesn’t like fresh vegetables, colorful flowers, LOTS of pumpkins & gourds… and “quite possibly” some pies, cookies and other yummy baked goods!!!


Categories: art fair, artists, special events

This weekend is the Ravenswood Art Walk.
A great chance to wander up & down Ravenswood and peek into all of the studios, workspaces & galleries hidden along the way.

And look who made it into the brochure!!! ME!!!
Looks like I was painting last year’s Zombies during the Art Walk when they took that photo?!

Not quite sure about the groovy pattern they overlayed on top of the photo…
makes it look like I have some sort of geometric skin condition???


Categories: special events

Seventeen years ago today. One of the most tragic moments in American history.
A day that will forever be burned in our hearts & minds… September 11, 2001.