I can't shut up about running. I ran briefly on the school track team and then for fun in college, but I didn’t take it seriously until I signed up for my first half marathon in 2013. My first race was the Chicago Spring Half in 2014 and I really grew to enjoy the experience of setting goals, training, challenging myself, and ultimately sharing a great day with thousands of other runners.
This experience hooked me for life. I ran my first marathon in 2014 and I've run at least one marathon per year since then. I became an ultrarunner (any distance greater than 26.2 miles) in 2017 when I completed the Runamuck 50k in Vermont. In Portland, I run with two social groups, Thick Quad Squad, and Old Port Pub Run--which is where I met most of my new friends once I moved!
To date, my longest run has been the Riverlands 100 in 2018. I finished 100 miles in 29 hours and 50 minutes with the help of mountains of carbs and electrolytes and my friends Chelsea and Fitz.
Luckily, my biggest hobby is also part of my job. I truly love acapella music. In high school, one of the things I looked forward to the most about college was joining a collegiate acapella group. I ended up making some of my best friends in the Illinois Institute of Technology's group, the TechTonics. In fact, I met my wife there! I would write arrangements and direct the group, and these learning experiences led me to a lifelong love of this style of music. I still write arrangements for my high school students.
In 2012 I was fortunate enough to record and produce two singles at a workshop with Bill Hare and Deke Sharon. With a small group of dedicated musicians and never-quite-enough time, we put together these two tracks. Take a listen! On Thinking Bout Somethin' I mainly sing bass and backup vocals, and on Awake My Soul I sing lead, bass, and backup.
I have a love-hate relationship with chess and I find the game immensely valuable. I genuinely love to spend time playing the game and strategizing, even though I often lose. My highest ranking ever was 1273, and my lowest ranking (and thus the pit of my despair) was 1029. When I got to 1029 I started taking lessons, and that helped my game quite a bit! I really enjoy playing chess with my students because it has nothing to do with music and we can get to know each other better over the course of a game or two. Challenge me any time on chess.com, my username is pvolker
I was never into any reality TV shows (ok, maybe The Sing Off) until I started watching The Great British Baking Show. After burning through every episode, I couldn't resist the urge to start baking bread. I have a sourdough starter going in my kitchen and I regularly bake loaves of bread for my family and friends. I think the reason it calls to me so much is the same thing that draws me to performing music. It's the ephemeral nature of it; tons of work and time goes into it, it's really special and meaningful, and if you weren't there, you missed out. The other reason I love baking is that I love to eat bread.