Tag Archives: track and field

Which Olympic Sport Would You Choose to Watch?

Let the Games begin!

The Mister posed an interesting, thought-provoking question at dinner last night:

If you could choose only one sport to watch at the summer Olympics, which one would it be?

This led to a lively, very-timely discussion between us, seeing as how the opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Games are tonight, and soccer and archery already have begun play.

The Mister and I have watched the summer and winter Olympics together since 1988. We’ve ooohed and aaaahed over so many special athletic moments and have loved when our sons also have gotten caught up in the excitement. We truly are Olympic fanatics.

So many sports to choose from!

Which brings us back to the Mister’s query. Which athletic event do I prefer above all the rest?

Three quickly come to mind: Gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. Although it’s tempting to pick taekwondo, because the talented Lopez siblings hail from our town of Sugar Land.

Will Ryan Lochte usurp Michael Phelps as the U.S. swimming king?

All three sports share elements of team and individual competition. All fascinate and intrique me due to their talent levels and interesting stories.

The men’s marathon team—Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, and Abdi Abdirahman

But if my feet are held to the fire, and I can only select one, then it would have to be track and field (aka athletics). Our Olympic marathon runners fought for their places here in Houston. The disciplines—from the 100-meter dash to the decathlon—are compelling. I’ve been a so-called runner since 1979—the athletes remind me of what I’m trying to strive for . . . and how short I continue to fall. My younger son enjoyed a brief track career.

Plus I’m allowing myself to include the triathlon as part of the whole kit and caboodle just because I can.

And how about the Mister? Which summer Olympics sport is his one and only?

It really didn’t take him long to decide.

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh will go for the beach volleyball gold again.

Women’s beach volleyball. No surprise there, given that the “uniforms” are bikinis.

Good thing we have multiple TVs!

Tripling the #2 Son’s Track Fun!

The triple jump starts with a sprint down the runway.

Some busybody (cough *his mom* cough) tattled on my #2 son after his first high school track meet. She told his coach that he used to triple jump in middle school. The freshmen boys only had one triple jumper, Kenton (who now isn’t jumping due to knee pain), so guess who got to add a field event to his running events for the third meet?

Maybe I’ll get thanked when he’s triple jumping in the Olympics some day . . . or maybe I’ll be blamed for how it ruined his life when he’s on Dr. Phil!

The triple jump hop

When you tell non-trackies that your son is a triple jumper, they invariably look confused. So then you have to explain that it’s like the long jump but with a hop, step/skip, and a jump before the athlete lands in the sand pit.

The step

For a photographer, the whole process makes for a great sports photo; however, it happens very quickly. Once again, burst mode is your BFF in trying to capture all the action.

On his way to the jump phase

It’s also a challenge to keep the triple jumper in focus, because the athlete literally jumps from one focus point (in the middle) to another (high) and finally to another (back to the middle on the landing).

Houston, we’re cleared for liftoff!

While I was snapping away, I wanted to yell to my #2 son to keep his hands away from his face! Don’t ruin my photo!

I didn’t, because I didn’t want to meddle (ha ha!).

Raise your hands if you’re Sure!

The top triple and long jumpers seem to hang in the air for the longest time. #2’s hang time isn’t quite as impressive, but he does get a lot of air.

Preparing for a pinpoint landing

Of course, what goes up must come down. You just hope it’s further than any of your competitors.

The Bulldog has landed!

The #2 son was hesitant to tell his coach that he could triple jump, because he wasn’t very successful in middle school and didn’t think he had improved. However, in his first two meets, he placed third and then second! More importantly, he increased the length of his jumps since he was an eighth-grader by about three feet (his best now is 35 feet 7 inches).

Good thing he has a meddling mom in his corner!

Photo Friday—No-Fence Edition


Yesterday I spent a lot of time at the triple jump pit watching my #2 son fly through the air with the greatest of ease . . . and land with a THUD in the sand.


The middle school track meet was at a large, local high school. Unexpectantly, there was a fence surrounding the triple jump/long jump area, as well as two school district police officers at the gate. But as I sized up the situation, I saw that my mom pal, Paula D (aka Stretch), was inside the fence taking photos with her point and shoot camera. Surely if she could get in with her dinky equipment, I could saunter in with my big ol’ camera and lens, right?

Right! The police officers waved me in! Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of space for experimenting, and even with an aperture of f/2.8 (with my Nikon 70-200mm lens), the backgrounds were cluttered. I need to work on changing my shooting angle quickly to try to eliminate the background distractions. That’s definitely on my to-do list for the next track meet.

What was nice was that #2 jumped at the beginning of the meet, so I could use 200 ISO and not have to put up with high ISO grain and low-light conditions.

Speaking of lowlights, I struggled with getting good photos of relay handoffs. First up were the seventh-graders. As you can see, I probably should have moved closer to the runners to get better photos. But I didn’t let my feet do the walking, and this was the result:












Hard to get both faces and the baton in the photo! I stayed in the same spot to shoot the eighth-grade relay. Different lane, similar result:












Something else for my track to-do list: Improve on capturing the relay exchange!

I fared better shooting the hurdles. You can get some great action shots using the camera’s burst mode; just got to work hard to keep everything in focus. And I found out that shooting from behind also makes for an interesting photo (taken at 1600 ISO near the end of the meet). It clearly was “the end”—the last photo I took!


It’s a Sign



I made someone very sad awhile back . . . and I didn’t even know him.

I had gotten out of my car and was about to mosey on over to Chipotle, the greatest place on earth to eat, when I noticed that a crew was putting the finishing touches on an awning over Jimmy John’s sandwich shop next door. What I saw written on the awning stopped me in my tracks: “Gourmet Sanwiches.”

Suppressing a chuckle, I walked over to the guy supervising the two awning installers and said, “Did you misspell it on purpose?”

“What?” he asked.

“The word ‘sanwiches,'” I replied. “It should have a ‘d’ in it.”

You should have seen the look on his face. Titanic sadness visibly washed over him.

I continued on to Chipotle. After I finished eating the most-delicious food on earth (a veggie bowl of rice, black beans, peppers and onions, pico de gallo, corn relish, guacamole [the best part!], and lettuce), I walked to my car, got in, and stared through the raindrops at Jimmy John’s. This was what I saw:



Yep, the awning was gone, and the installers were packing up to leave. I don’t think I made their day at all!

A few days later, all was right with Jimmy John’s and the awning:

cpd-final-jj-signAt least it’s finally correct. Unlike this sign at our local Nestle’s Toll House Café:

web-sandwitchSigh! Guess I need to stop in and make someone else’s day.

Ten-Minute Task

box_pse6_150x150It’s day 3 in the Search for the Photoshop Elements 3.0 Install Disc saga. I worked hard for 10 minutes during my TMT yesterday to no avail. Apparently, that disc grew legs and walked away from the clutter like so many other things have done over the years. So I explored my options and decided the best course of action was to order PSE 6 from Amazon.com. It should arrive tomorrow, and then the #1 son and I will have to figure it out; I know there are a lot of changes from version 3.0. There are manuals for $30 (yep, even on Amazon.com!) available, but I plan to check out Half-Price Books and see what they have. I don’t want to spend almost half the price of the software for a manual. Fortunately, there’s always lots of good information and tutorials online.

Get ’er dones

Today is that every-other-week very-important Kitchen Wednesday . . . the cleaning crew comes tomorrow, so I want to do as much in the kitchen as possible in terms of going through the mail and papers and shredding. Tonight is another track meet for the #2 son, who again will be running the 100 and 200 meters as well as triple jumping. Hopefully, he’ll be able to triple jump earlier, enabling me to get better photos. There won’t be a fence around the field event area, so I’m looking forward to roaming with my camera!

Photo Friday . . . Don’t Fence Me Out!


See that fence above? When I’m told as a parent that I need to be outside the fence, I sometimes think it’s for the best. But not when I’m a photographer! I’m one of those “the rules apply to everyone but me” types anyway, but I especially feel that way when I have my big camera and my big lens in my hands. Those should be my passport onto the field of play every time.

But not this time. The school district’s police officer was kind but firm . . . only middle-school athletes and coaches allowed inside the fence. For almost every track meet last year when #2 son was a seventh-grader, there was no fence keeping us out of the field events area. So I was free to roam with my Nikon D300. But this high school had a fence designed to keep us out, so I simply either shot through the fence or through the opening where the athletes can walk onto the track.

A bigger problem, actually, was the lack of lights where the field events took place. The triple jump, #2 son’s field event, started late, and then #2 jumped late, because he had to run the 100 meters first. That 100 seemed to really fire him up, though, and not only did he make the 30-foot qualifying mark, he set a personal best at 32 feet 7 inches (his first two jumps were both 31-2). It was the top jump on his team; he was stoked! He finished up with the 200 meters. We don’t know his sprint times, but he ran the curve in the 200 like a little champ. Yay!!

Here are some photos from the meet. Our team is in the gold uniforms (Jaguars):


Is this a botched handoff or what?


The 1600 meters.












(Left) Just had to get a pole vault picture from behind. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which way the athlete is going to turn.












Long jump.

5377-2-100m#2 running the 100 meters. The light was getting pretty low, so I switched from my Nikon 70-200mm lens to my Nikon 85mm.


This is what no lights at the end of a high school football stadium is like. The #2 son triple jumping in the gloaming!

“Lost” in Applecare


The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham

john-lockeOMG! Another enjoyable, question-riddled episode with a few answers thrown in for good measure. As we watched, I jotted down notes on my MacBook. Here are some thoughts:

• It was no big surprise that John Locke was alive back on the island due to the previews from last week. It was kind of cool the way he “unveiled” himself, though.

charles_widmore• Great exchange between Charles Widmore and Locke:

Widmore: When you last saw me [in a flashback on the island], I was 17 years old. How long has it been since I last saw you?

Locke: Four days.

250px-ben_linus2The key question of the season: Who is good or bad? Charles Widmore? Ben Linus? The #1 son thinks they’re both bad, that they’re like Russia and Germany during World War II (guess what he’s studying in U.S. History right now). “Which one are you going to side with?” he asks. “It should be Russia.”

Okay, son, but then who is Russia, Widmore or Linus?

• Widmore says he was the leader on the island before Ben tricked him into leaving. Christian Shephard made it seem like Ben tricked Locke into believing that Ben had to be the one to turn the wheel to move the island.

• A good line by the #1 son after Widmore says to Locke, “Godspeed.” #1 son asked, “How fast does God speed?”

matthew_abbadon• Oh, oh . . . it’s Matthew Abaddon, that creepy orderly who told Locke to go on the walkabout in Australia. He tells Locke that his job is to help people get where they need to go. He works for Widmore. He tells Locke, “Your path leads back to the island.” Duh!

walt• Hey, it’s Walt! When I saw the name Malcolm David Kelley in the opening credits, I knew he’d be in the episode. He’s gotten so big and looks so much older. I’m glad Locke decided not to try to persuade him to go back to the island. I guess Walt never will know what happened to his dad, Michael. Tangent: Harold Perrineau, who played Michael, is part of the cast of the new ABC show “The Unusuals.” He sure was unusual on “Lost!”

• After Locke’s chat with Walt, Ben pops up looking so totally creepy! Just out shopping for souvenirs to bring home to the Others, Mr. Linus?

• Helen Norwood is dead . . . how sad for John, who seems to have really loved her.

• Ugh, what an ugly, shocking death for Abaddon.

bearded-jack-shephard• What’s “Lost” without a car crash? Gosh, who would expect Jack to be Locke’s doctor?!? Jack has that crazy beard; obviously it’s when Jack was sinking into his pill-riddled depression. Why isn’t Jack shocked to see John?

A line from the Mister about Jack, as he rages against Locke in the hospital: “Not a good bedside manner.”

• There’s a knock on the door as poor John is about to hang himself. Was his thought, “Room service now?!?” Nope, it’s just Ben.

• Ben admits that he killed Abaddon. Widmore said that Ben is bad. Ben does seem to be bad.

• Ben says, “John, you have no idea how important you are.” Will we ever find out Locke’s importance?

• Did Ben lie about Jack booking a flight to Sydney?? John sure is a weeper; he should be on “The Biggest Loser!” Ben finds out Jin is alive from John. 

The #1 son says, “Ben is secretly caring. Or is he?” Sounds so Miles!

hawking• Check out Ben’s facial reaction when John says “Eloise Hawking.” He just snaps! OMG—Ben is strangling poor John! OMG! Was Ben being mean, like with Martin Keamy, or was it because he knows Locke has to be dead in a casket to help duplicate the original events of Oceanic 815 on the Ajira Airways plane?

• Great shadow effect of Locke hanging. And Ben gets Jin’s wedding ring to cap it off.

• Ben CANNOT be a good guy! Ben: “I’ll miss you, John. I really will.” There’s just not a Hallmark card made for this situation!

• John is walking fine when he’s back on the island with no sign of his compound fracture. Is it the island’s healing powers again?

• Ilana and Caesar are the new characters; what will be their importance? 

• Lapidus, the pilot, and a woman took one of the boats on the island. Which woman, Sun or the flight attendant? If Sun disappeared during the flash on the plane, it probably was the flight attendant. Who is she?

• So the plane did land on the island. It looks like it’s intact.

• A great line by Locke when he sees the injured Ben in the makeshift emergency room on the island.

Caesar: “Do you know him?”

Locke: “Yes, he’s the man who killed me.” Chilling!

A great episode to analyze! Can’t wait until the next one!!

Applecare adventures

sevenLooks like we’re done with Applecare. The good news is that we know why GarageBand ’09 won’t play the GB ’08 songs; the bad news is that it can’t be fixed.

An Applecare genius named “Seven” (yep, his real name, and he’s too old for his parents to have been influenced by the 1996 “Seinfeld” episode) went the extra mile trying to help us for about an hour. He concluded that there are certain loops used in earlier GB versions that can’t be accessed by ’09. He suggested we open the songs in ’08 and lock the tracks; then they’ll play in ’09 (but can’t be modified).

At least that was one mystery able to be solved. If it had been on “Lost,” I might not have gotten the answer until sometime next season!

Get ’er dones

Besides finally finishing up my scout Photoshop work, tonight is the middle school’s first track meet. #2 son will be triple jumping and running the 100 and 200 meters, which means we’ll have to stay for almost the entire meet (field events are early, the 200 is the last individual event before the relays). I’ll be taking photos until it gets too dark. I’ll tote my Nikon D300 along with my Nikon 70-200mm, 85mm, and 50mm lenses and my Nikon 1.4x teleconverter. It’ll be great to shoot outside once again!