Mental Prowess Part 1: Stop and Think, you don’t have time not to

Post 100 miles and 13,000 feet of climbing

On Sunday September 1st 2019 I got beat up.

It was my fault. A series of decisions, and probably my biology, put me in the position to be in immense pain that day.

I completed the Shenandoah 100, an ultra-endurance backwoods bike race in the mountains of Virginia. The experience was taxing on my body. My quads were quaking, my forearms were on fire, and my body was bruised. Twelve hours of physical exertion is a lot to endure.

I thought I planned my recovery week accordingly. I allowed myself to step out of my rigorous workout routine and planned to refrain from general physical activity. My body rebounded quickly. The following day I was achy but was not debilitated by pain. On the second day, I returned to my bike to commute to meetings and by the fourth day I was back in the gym.

However I had not recovered.

I neglected to consider the mental aspects of regaining normalcy.

I planed to proceed through my typical professional week. I maintained my usual load of meetings, I had a major event on the books, and the calendar had a launch date for a significant project. My mind needed to be incredibly active to accomplish the load.

I unknowingly did not create space to process the experience.

A critical part of endurance athletics, or doing anything hard in life, and quite possibly the true challenge, is the mental aspect. It takes a tremendous amount of will power to push through extreme activity. There comes a point where you are bored of having done the same thing for extended duration of time. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where irritation hits your awareness. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where you feel the pain. You just have to keep going. There comes a point where you ask why am I doing this. You just have to keep going.

To accomplish the big and challenging things in life you have to override your brain.

Mental prowess is developed through such exercises. This self induced trauma creates frameworks to see things differently. This new perspective is where you will find power to leap over personal and professional hurdles.

So what happened on my ride that I needed to get out and what value might doing so provide?

E1507: History of the space

Sam Lacombe Painting @ E1507

Sam Lacombe is a Baltimore based painter. His work is highly detailed and highlights everyday experiences through replication of street signs.

We purchased E1507 in July of 2016 from our neighbor, Alan Shapiro. To call it a shell would have been generous. The roof provided no shelter, and the floor gave no support. It was not a space to enjoy life.

We are not positive on the history of the building at this point, that story will come in the future.  An original structure on the property was likely built in the late 19th century. While renovating we found a foundation approximately at the front wall of the courtyard or 25 feet from the front door. The back portion was likely added in the early 20th century. The building had evidence of a fire which may have caused weakening of the beautiful timber roof and floor joists we removed during demolition 🙁 A few of the lovely planks live on in the Union Collective about 4 miles from E1507. The Baltimore Spirits Company repurposed several for their tables, and Well Crafted Kitchen used a few in their sign. 

The home was one story structure of fairly standard design, albeit not in all of its glory. It had three steps leading up to the door and typical eightish feet ceilings. There were two larger spaces with a bathroom where the stairs are presently. We preserved some of the beautiful brick work on the interior wall in the studio. If you look near the wet bar you will see “newer” brick and mortar where Alan had made a doorway to his larger studio space next door. One of our favorite accents in the place is the layers of plaster and paint on the original brick wall of the new stairwell.  Also, if you look at the wall in the courtyard you will note a “doghouse” at the roof line. There were stairs along that wall that suggested an intention to build a second story in earlier days, again this is only speculation at this point. 

Alan’s family had owned the property for the past four decades. In most recent years, the building had served as an extension of his cabinet making studio. Like many creative spaces, it was filled with material. Some of the contents could still spark joy, much of it was detritus of ideas yet to be executed. We spent six months working with Alan clearing the space for its future and working with PI KL ( to come up with a vision.

Pavlina Ilieva and Kuo Pao Lian, the architects, were the perfect talent for our project. They saw constraints as friends. They knew aesthetic had to support function. They believed details made for big impact. They appreciated how the melding of history with modernity was a place for magic in the moment to happen. They were ideal to collaborate with on a space to marry cultural production, and appreciation, with everyday life.

We live just around the corner from E1507 and had been doing AirBnb in the guest bedroom of our home for several years prior to our purchase. We made a financial investment based on the notion of short term rental use. However, Scott  runs a talent agency ( He envisioned the space as a place to show audiences and artists how humanity might live with art. He wanted to experiment with his theories on building relationships between creators and wonderers and the value ALL humanity might experience by surrounding themselves with objects of meaning on a daily basis.

The location on Eastern Avenue is rift with opportunity. The corridor is a prominent east west artery in the city. The architecture along the avenue shows that throughout history it has been a place for businesses and residents alike. It has the grand qualities and bones to be an important asset for a world class urban center. 

We wanted our space to support the potential of the future. Although it is presently serving as a home, we can imagine the space being used for commercial purposes. We wanted the layout to be simple and non-confrontation to future spatial visions.  We can see a day when a fashion designer loves the natural light or a small office enjoys the open airy feeling or even a bistro serves delectable coffee in the courtyard!

In the present, to provide optimal return on the financial investment, we contrived a space that could host a spectrum of interests. We designed with the intent of two private spaces; one like a traditional hotel room with bed, bath and wetbar. The other like a one bedroom flat with; living, dining, full kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and laundry. A guest could also rent the entire building offering reasonable accommodations for up to 6 people, if a couple is inclined to sleep on a comfortable fold out sofa bed. 

The “studio” would be perfect for an inexpensive one night get away for a couple wanting to experience Baltimore. The apartment would be a wonderful place for guests to call home away from home during a longer stay near circumstances of life. The entire building would work well for a group to celebrate a life milestone with friends. 

Kuo Pao had always wanted to place a courtyard in the middle of one of Baltimore’s tiny row houses. The typical design for 14 foot wide properties that are 80 feet deep is to place the outdoor space at the back. By positioning the exterior space in the center we exposed a new source of light, lots of light! The mid-building location also provided us the opportunity to utilize the small alley way as a private entrance to the studio space. 

The historic “charming” homes of Baltimore are often quite narrow. To overcome the squeezing sensation we made the bold decision, as we had no roof to hold us down, to make the ceilings ten and a half feet high! The height, coupled with natural light from the courtyard and 4 skylights, make the space free and airy.

Talent is all around us! The simple layout needed several aesthetically pleasing finishing touches. There is no trim work in the space. Our builder (Santiago Baten) was a craftsman and took pride in delivering our clean lined vision. Peter Machen ( is a sculptor whose medium is metal. He kindly took on the overly simplistic task of creating our unique door frames. They are ¼ metal sheets cut to width: industrial strength and industrial weight but only visible when actually looking at them. The bathroom doors were produced by Chris Zickefoose ( He made a few mundane floorboards harvested from the building during demo into lovely sliding works of art.

The table in the one bedroom apartment took a lifetime to make. It was Alan’s workbench. He crafted his works of wooden wonder for over three decades on the surface. It has all the beauty marks of serving a maker faithfully and continues to share her character with our guests. The base was constructed by Garrett Bladow a 21st century renaissance man.

To learn more about E1507, visit here. To book a stay at E1507, visit here.

E1507: Philosophy of the space

E1507 life with art, dining room and Mark Eisendrath

Mark Eisendraths work overlooking the workbench table at E1507

What happens when the objects that surround you speak to you because:
They are beautiful
They are created by someone you know
They tell a story
They stand for something important to you

We adorn the walls of E1507 with work that were thoughtfully made by the artists that Scott has the privilege of working with in his career. Although the space is beautiful, the wonderful artwork on the walls are the harmony that stands out.

The work on the walls of E1507 appeal to us. There is something in the color, the composition, or the forms that cause a neurochemical cascade that results in joy.
It is cliche to say, but visual beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. Different things will strike each of our fancy differently. THIS IS A VERY GOOD THING, we each have our own taste.
We can not guarantee that all the work shared in the space will be to everyone’s aesthetic delight. That type of work does not exist. It also does not mean that the work is not high quality. Like all things in life, art work has value that goes beyond just the visual or surface sensation that it evokes.
If you choose to surround yourself with art work, there is a good chance that you are assured to experience regular glimpses of inspiration and daily doses of euphoria.

The more you know about the creator of an object the more likely that object has meaning to you. When we purchase something, knowledge of the creator is referred to as brand. Apple, Cadillac, Coke, Dewalt, Disney, Rawlings, Under Armor have values that we know and may appreciate. The same is true of the makers of art.
The details about the artist are an important piece of context about the art. They are just like you. They are human. They have families. They were born somewhere. They have experienced significant life events. Some like dogs, some like cats and some don’t like either. They have philosophies. They watch the movies you do. They read the books you do. They follow the instagram stars you do.
The wonderful thing about the artist that is just like you … they have the ability to do things with paint or photography or a medium that you likely can not. They can say things you were thinking but may not have had the words or ability to express!
If you know the artist, there is a good chance you know what they stand for and they may be standing for the same things you are. Your walls can say the things you have always wanted to say, but lacked the voice to do so.

All things, with the exception of the start of the universe, are created in the midst of some context. Art does not happen in isolation. There is always a story.
Art work is produced by someone, the creator has a story (see previous section) Art work is produced in a place. Much of the work on display at E1507 has been made in Baltimore. Art work is produced during a period in time. Likely, much of the work in our space has been produced during a time that we are familiar with. All of these details come together to provide context to the visual statement. These details in tandem with the art can tell a story that words can not.
If you surround yourself with objects that hold stories, there is a good chance you will become a storyteller. Telling stories is a powerful asset to possess as a human. With art work, you have an object that can guide you to shared laughter, contemplation, and wonder. Along with displaying great taste, you can further enhance qualities you possess or desire to possess.

We all want to be known. We especially want people to see our goodness. It is pleasurable to hear that we come from good stock, that we have made wise choices, and that we have done the hard work. OUR awareness that others are aware of who we are, can fulfill us beyond what we find within ourselves.
The works on these walls are important to us for a variety of reasons. They cause us to pause because they are beautiful. They are made by people we know, we respect, and we like. They tell a story that we want to share.
If you surround yourself with objects that are important to you, the world will know the authentic you. It is not an assurance of their love, but it is certainly a significant step towards the divine feeling.