I am now 6 months into my journey at Gator Ceramics! The biggest takeaway from my experience so far, is that there is no 'black and white' when designing teeth. There are preferences, judgement calls and changes that are made on a case by case basis. What works for one case may never be used for another case. There are very few 'rules' that come into play when considering the esthetics of the designs. I feel like this is what contributes to the patient receiving a personalized product each and every time.
I'm starting to learn what situations call for these special adjustments. This all ties into my first article, when I realized that each tooth was a special work of art. Once I learned to let go of the 'rules' and one-size-fits-all mentality, I was able to start understanding how this works. There is still much to discover and I am sure there will be more responsibilities, frustrations and lessons along the way. It's all part of me learning how to help deliver quality products and I'm glad I have some of the best teachers in the field to help me along the way!
We have some superstars among us. People who are amazing inside and outside of the Dental Lab. Today's spotlight is on Jeff Thomas, our Master Ceramist CDT. He is also a celebrated runner. He's taken time out of his day to answer a few questions about his journey!
Tell us about the marathon you ran?
The Austin marathon. The hilliest marathon I ever ran in my life. It was misty, 54 degrees at the start. The weather was perfect, but the hills were devastating. The last 2/10 of a mile was like a mountain.
What was your finish time?
Finished in 3:34, about the 4th or 5th fastest marathon time so far.
When did you start training for long distance running and why?
I ran my first marathon in 2004 in New Orleans. A friend and I trained together, we had no idea what we were doing. We got a training plan from the Internet. My goal was unrealistic and I swore that was my last one. My friend was crying when he finished, and I completely blacked out when I entered the Superdome. Couldn’t see anything. Running a marathon is not healthy for your body. Half marathons, yes. Full marathons, no, they destroy your body. From mile 20 on, is all mental. I swore I’d never do another marathon.
But you did! Why?
In 2007 I went through a divorce. I was sitting, reading the paper and saw where the USA Fit running club was starting a chapter in Shreveport, training for the Dallas marathon that year. I thought, hey I have nothing to do, it’s a turbulent time, I’m going to go do another. It was stupid. But I’ve been with them for years. I’m a coach for them now, and I’ve done about 2-3 a year.
How many total?
Austin was either the 16th or 17th Plus I’ve done probably over 30-35 half marathons in that time. I love half marathons.
Did anyone inspire you?
A friend of mine, Frank Trammel. He was a coach. He was a world class athlete in the 70’s and 80’s. He ran with Prefontaine, Shorter, and others you may have heard of. He ran in two Olympic trials and was paid by Adidas to run. He talked me into running; so, we did it.
Are you going back to Boston?
Last year’s Boston I signed up, I trained 10 months for that one. I was going to run a good Boston, I was in shape for that one. A lot of us were going and had plane tickets, hotel, everything. 5 days before we were leaving I had to have emergency abdominal surgery. I was begging the doctor to do something. I had 32 staples down my stomach and was in the hospital a week. I got out the day before Boston and had to watch it on the TV, crying mad.
This year I qualified. By over 25 minutes, so we’ll see. I’ve run Boston 3 times. You get to mile 17 and that’s when the hills start. You run through 7 towns and it’s lined from start to finish with millions of people. Most of them, drunk college students. It’s like a 26-mile Mardi Gras parade. You top what’s called Heartbreak Hill at about mile 20 and then you’ve got 6 more miles and you know how bad the last 6 miles are going to hurt.
The time I ran during the bombings, was the only time I didn’t have to go to the medical tent. Thank God, because I would have been in there getting an IV when all the bombing victims were being brought in. I got 3:38 on that one.
Did you hear about the bombings before or after you got to the finish?
I finished 20 minutes before the bombs went off. When you finish you go through a finishers chute about 2 blocks long, so we were at the busses changing, and we heard the bombs, we heard the ambulances, we heard everything, but we didn’t know what was going on. We limped to the hotel and a friend called to check on us. Told us about it and had us turn on the TV.
If there’s a next one, it would be Boston, a year from April. Everyone wants to run Boston, except me.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to run their first marathon?
Get with someone that knows how to build a good training plan. You want to train with a group. Don’t train by yourself. That’s why USA Fit is so good. All the coaches have run a lot of marathons and there’s a training plan for everybody.
Recently, Gator Ceramics had the opportunity to make a bride's smile even more beautiful for her wedding pictures! The team worked to customize a case for her that she is happy with and we are very proud of. It is moments like these, that remind us just how special and individual each case is. There are moments in your life that you will look back on and remember for years to come. When those moments are captured on video or in pictures, we want you to look back at them and see a reflection of your best self. For us, it's not just about the work itself...it's about the lives, the moments and the people behind the smiles. Thank you for choosing Gator Ceramics!
Learning the Trade - Part 1
My first day at gator Ceramics was as a web designer, graphic designer and blogger. I walked into this lab, not knowing what to expect and finding a group of what looked like mad scientists in large magnification glasses hunched over machines and materials making...teeth! I walked around to each station, watching the process. The impressions became designs, that were milled into physical teeth, that became hand crafted, hand painted, stunning works of art! As a career artist and designer, I’ve since taken an interest and joined the team as a designer. I have to tell you, the products that come out of this lab are not just teeth. They are not cookie cutter, “one size fits all” commodities. Every case that comes in is an individual piece. A blank canvas, waiting to be transformed into a unique visual and functional experience. I’m proud and excited to join and be a part of this team. I will continue to blog about the experience, the journey and the work we do.