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

Just remembering back six years ago when I ran the Chicago Marathon to celebrate my birthday! So much fun!!! I never knew a marathon could be so much fun… with such great support, encouragement & entertainment from the spectators! Thanks to my pal Tracy who ran the marathon that year as well for sharing this photo today!!!

Categories: IRONMAN, special events, workout

Well, just a smidge over a month ago… my third full IRONMAN race!

IRONMAN LAKE PLACID 2019

It was a long time coming, and I would love to say a lot training… but I can’t.
With everything that was going on in my “real life” with work, pottery, summer camp and my Mom’s dire health issues, something had to give. Unfortunately I was heading into IRONMAN weekend without a lot of confidence… but a ton of determination! I know my Mom would have wanted me to carry-on and conquer yet another IRONMAN… and I did. For her.

I have finally sifted, sorted & edited down all of my photos. I am in the process of posting everything here on my blog, and I’ll post links on my Facebook page as well. There’s a LOT of photos and a LOT of stories! Be prepared to settle in for awhile… and read about our latest IRONMAN adventure!

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Categories: Chicago, special events, workout

Yesterday was a beautiful day for the Chicago Triathlon. Well, beautiful except for the crazy waves in Lake Michigan. So crazy that they called off the entire swim portion, and changed it to a Duathlon – run, bike, run. Always a fun day “racing” downtown with one of the best bike courses EVER!!! Up & down Lake Shore Drive, through Lower Wacker Drive and down along the Bus Lane… all 100% closed to traffic! Always a fun day playing downtown with my Tri-pal Tracy!

And this is what happens sometimes when you ask a total strange if she can take a few pictures for you. Still not quite sure what happened… some errant filter somewhere maybe? At least she tried…

At the Finish Line… thousands of medals are waiting for the Finishers! The Chicago Triathlon is the city’s only downtown Triathlon… and one of the world’s largest with over ten thousand athletes competing over the weekend!

Also after the Finish Line, there are an assortment of vendors, team tents, recovery stations and medics. My favorite of course is the Rapid Reboot tent. We’ve tried them many times at both Chicago Triathlon & a few IRONMAN Expos… and so much better when you get to use these AMAZING compression pants after the race when your legs could really use the boost! #rapidreboot

A rare Selfie... with a bit of a post-race afterglow much attributed to the compression pants massaging my legs at this very moment. Thanks to Clark and the fun folks at Rapid Reboot!!!

After the race, we decided to “walk it off” with a nice stroll through Millennium Park since the day was so gorgeous!

After having the SWIM portion of our race cancelled…
the day just didn’t feel complete without getting a little WET!!!
So we decided to play in the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.

Scroll through the next few photos quickly, and you’ll see my friend Tracy doing her best Snow Angel Stroke in the fountain… to “complete” the third leg of our Triathlon!

And notice my still sealed, never-been-opened Swim Cap and extremely dry goggles!

We still lined up to start our race at the Swim Start arch… even though the lettering had been removed already. I guess to avoid confusion?! As we would basically be RUNNING the swim course instead of swimming it!

All in all, another great day downtown for the Chicago Triathlon… even if it was changed to a Duathlon! Always fun to get another medal to add to the collection… even if it is the THICKEST & heaviest medal yet!!! Rumor has it that if you were to complete all of the Lifetime Triathlons in the series, your medals would stack up to look like a replica of a sports water bottle!

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Categories: special events, sunrise, workout

Raining this morning… but luckily it was a gorgeous morning yesterday as we all started early down at Monroe Harbor for the start of the Chicago Triathlon. The sky was amazing… but the waves were crazy! So bad, that they cancelled the swim all together… and instead turned it into a Duathlon… run-bike-run! Better safe than sorry… at least we got a wonderful sunrise show as the Chicago Fire Department was there to show off super-neato water-spraying boat!!!

And an IRONIC “no swimming” sign on a Triathlon morning with NO SWIMMING!!!

And an early morning “attempt” at a sunrise selfie for me & Tracy!

Categories: process, production, workout

Early studio morning wedging & pulling handles…
making up another batch of mugs!!! For tomorrow we race again…

Categories: Chicago, workout

Another fun day running through the streets of Chicago for this year’s SHAMROCK SHUFFLE. My first outdoor run of the year went surprisingly well & I had a great time… okay, sure there were a few photo stops along the way, but who’s counting… it’s not “really” as race, right??? Well, not for me anyway…

I always have THREE basic rules for these races…
1.  Finish.   -   2.  Have fun.   -   3.  Don’t hurt anything.
And if you can stop to take some pictures along the way… even better!!!

Some fluid replacements at the Finish Line… and bananas of course!!!

And this is what THOUSANDS of Finisher Medals look like… times ten!!! At least.

And yes, I got mine… another one for the rack at home!

After the race we walked to brunch… cause I needed more than bananas!!!
Always fun to walk through downtown as we so frequently take it for granted!

After the race & lunch, I did a little “field trip” of my own.
And then finally at home to stretch, relax and shower… and then off to the studio!

 

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Categories: bike, workout

Too bad every time I see LIVESTRONG now, I think of the whole Lance Armstrong thing…
and how this wonderful charity suffered because of his exploits.

Still a great motto… even if it is a bit tainted in my mind.

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Categories: special events, workout

FLASHBACK : A YEAR AFTER
IRONMAN LOUISVILLE  2017

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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.

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Categories: bike, special events, workout

FLASHBACK : A YEAR AFTER
IRONMAN LOUISVILLE  2017

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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…

“GARY JACKSON… YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.”

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.

 

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Categories: bike, special events, workout

FLASHBACK : A YEAR AFTER
IRONMAN LOUISVILLE  2017

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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!!!

 

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