Monday, December 22, 2014

Two Hundred Seven

December 21, 2014
8.02 Miles in 1:14:16
Mood: Merry Merry Whatever.
Soundtrack: Miscellaneous Adventures from the World of Mike Carano / The Decemberists "The Crane Wife"

It had been awhile since I'd gotten in a good Wash Park run, so it was nice to spin around the park a few times. Naturally on my first lap, I went a little further North so I could go say hello to the Weckbaugh Mansion, and then I circled the park a few more times. Although the temps were in the 30's, it was sunny and I felt warm enough despite not being all that bundled up.

The park was surrounded by homes decked out for Christmas, including the home that was today's photo...oddly it was the second Flamingo Christmas decoration I had come across this year. Apparently flamingoes and Christmas is becoming a thing as the hashtag #flamingochristmas surprisingly has over 50 photos attached to it on Instagram. That surprised me a bit.

Wash Park in winter is much less populated with runners than it will be in a few months when things start warming up in the spring, but there were still quite a few people running around. I think the energy I get from seeing so many people running is one of the things that I like about the park. It gets me going and keeps me moving in a way that I just don't get when I'm running around a trail or neighborhood and only see a few people on the move. My times usually always improve when I'm running at Wash Park...part of that might be the synergetic energy of other runners (and probably part of it is the fact that it's a flat place to run, so I have fewer uphills to navigate.) Still, it feels like a home away from home for me to run, and I always enjoy when I get a chance to go there.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Two Hundred Six

December 20, 2014
7.31 Miles in 1:11:45
Mood: Slow and Draggy
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / 99% Invisible

I had no oomph on this run. I felt like I was dragging an invisible weight everywhere I went, and couldn't get a good pace up. The end result was a really slow pace and a somewhat unsatisfying run, but at least I got a few miles in on a Saturday morning. This run was really like pulling teeth, though. I couldn't get going.

The photo for today's run had me perplexed at first, as it's weird to see both a Steeler and Bronco flag hanging from the same house. As I was taking the picture, a guy in a bright orange Broncos sweatshirt came out the front door. I chatted with him awhile, and he let me know that his roommate is from Pittsburgh, and he is a big Broncos fan. Suddenly, it made more's a house divided situation. Also of note, the roomie also had an Audi with a personalized Colorado license plate that read, "Yinzer" (For those who don't know "Yinzer" is a slang term for a person from Pittsburgh.)

Two Hundred Five

December 18, 2014
9.45 Miles in 1:33:28
Mood: Wanting to run forever
Soundtrack: Serial / The Film Vault / Jordan, Jesse, Go!

I felt great on this run, and felt as though I could run forever. I ended up running to a Kmart, which is sort of like running forever, even if Rain Man thinks my destination sucks. Sadly, all the trails are snow packed, which meant I was mostly limited to streets on this run. I went home at the 9 mile mark because I needed to call it quits, I felt like I had another five miles in me, but it was pitch black and time for dinner. Still, there was a part of me that could have kept on going.

There weren't a ton of good photo ops on this run, but I did enjoy this fence. The American flag appears to have been made out of wristbands or something, they all had names on them...I assume the names are kids at this school. Not sure why it was created, or what purpose it serves, but it looked cool on this Thursday enough to have no competition for today's photo, anyway.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Two Hundred Four

December 16, 2014
8.79 Miles in 1:30:09
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / The Internet! With Scott the Pool Boy

My goal on this run was to push further North into an area I've never really explored before...thus it feels appropriate that the picture would be of the North Pole's most famous resident...albeit in a rather nontraditional biker gang style. I enjoy that Santa has a Reindeer Rule tattoo. Who would have guessed? My favorite part of this holiday scene is the fact that there is a reindeer in a sidecar in a hip hoppish pose. So ridiculous and wonderful.

Turns out, as you can see from my map, that trying to head due North in the neighborhood I was in is a bit more difficult than I imagined that it'd be. My first three miles were rather labyrinthine, as I was foiled in my Northbound quest by streets that flat out refused to allow me to continue North. I ended up in the area I wanted to be by about mile 4, and it turns out that that new neighborhood I wanted to explore is filthy with gigantic homes. My favorite part of the entire run was when I passed about six older people running very slowly in the opposite direction as me. It was cold, and they all looked miserable, but the kind of misery where no one wants to admit that they aren't having a good time, so everyone keeps on pressing on so as not to ruin everyone else's time, even though if any one of them had suggested they stop, the rest of the gang would have gladly relented and gone home. This dogged determination to stick to the plan amused I'm rather used to being out running in bitter temps, so I wasn't nearly as non-plussed to be outside as they were.

The best news of all is that the days are about to start getting longer. The sun set at 4:37 while I was on this run, and by the time I got home, it had been down for around three quarters of an hour. The darkness isn't so bad, as it allows me to see some cool Christmas lights, but I still prefer running with the sun. Feels safer and warmer.

One last thing, I discovered on this particular run that running to classical music isn't so bad. It feels kind of sweeping and epic. Thanks to a goofy podcast I was listening to (The Internet! With Scott the Pool Boy) I ended up listening to a few moments of Bach, and it actually made some decent running music. So much so that I pulled up some Bach on Spotify and tried to see how long it would remain compelling. Turns out, I needed to go back to podcasting after about 5 minutes, but was a solid five minutes of running to Bach...5 minutes longer than I would have anticipated enjoying such a thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Two Hundred Three

December 14, 2014
6.84 Miles in 1:07:19
Mood: Snowy and contemplative of the shortcomings of capitalism
Soundtrack: The Because Show / 99% Invisible

I'm starting to get used to running with a hurt rib. I've learned that you just have to fight through the pain for the first mile and eventually things limber up. It's not a great way to start a run, and I hope I heal quickly, but at least I think I've learned that I can do if I can handle the first bit of uncomfortableness. This is also assuming that I'm not doing permanent damage to myself, something that most of my medical research seems to make me think is not the case. Granted, my medical research is 100% powered by Google, so I'm not going to pretend like it's not possible that I am in error.

The forecast on Sunday called for lots of continuous snow. I debated if I'd even be able to get a run in, but when I woke up at around 7, it wasn't even snowing. After a quick bowl of cereal, I changed into warm running gear and scooted out of the house before anyone else woke up. I plowed through that initial tough first mile, and then found a slow but happy pace as I meandered through the streets and trails of the neighborhood.

About ten minutes into my run it started snowing, and it kept getting heavier throughout. The roads were still dry, and I wasn't really all that cold, so I just kept moving. There wasn't much interesting to see, but I was listening to a 99% Invisible podcast about a light bulb that had been in continuous use since 1901. Apparently, the technology to create light bulbs that never wear out exists (and existed in 1901, even) However, the light bulb companies created a cabal to universally make bulbs with planned obsolescence because you can't make money if your product never wears out. People buy one and then never buy another one, and you go belly up.

While the financial sense of creating a market of people who need to continuously buy your product totally makes sense, something bothers me about making a product intentionally not as good as it can be just for money. That kinda stinks. How great would a 100 year light bulb be? Sometimes good enough is better than the absolute best it can be, which is sort of a sad commentary on capitalism. Anyway, this is what I was thinking about as I ran through the snow.

Today's picture came as a result of not really finding anything magical and new of which to take a photo. In the final mile of my run, I passed a white SUV that I see quite often. It is easy to recognize, as it's owner placed pink eyelashes on the headlights. This is kind of hideously wonderful, as I wouldn't be caught dead with pink eyelashes on my car, but much like many of the things I end of taking pictures of, I'm glad there are people who want to do this. Also, this photo shows the fallen snow and falling snow to prove that it was, in fact, precipitating.

Two Hundred Two

December 12, 2104
7.52 Miles in 1:13:04
Mood: Felt like I was being stalked, because I sorta was.
Soundtrack: Passenger "All the Little Lights" / Peter Bradley Adams "Leavetaking"

Less than two tenths of a mile into this one, I was about to give up. My rib injury was screaming at me. I stopped running for about ten seconds and seriously considered turning around and forgetting the whole thing, but something pushed me forward.

I'm glad I kept moving, as after about the first mile, I was loosened up and felt pretty great. It was a beautiful afternoon. We have entered the part of the year where the days are the shortest, so the sun starts to set well before five o'clock, so I had to hurry to enjoy the last few bits of daylight. There was some magic in the dusk this evening for whatever reason. I decided to loop around Ketring Lake, as despite the goose droppings, it's still one of my favorite local areas. The lake seemed extra beautiful tonight, so I pulled out my camera and started snapping pictures, and then this big goose started flying away from me. I really liked how that shot turned out, so that's how I ended up with today's picture.

As I left the lake, I started following a woman in her late 40's or early fifties as I ran along Caley Ave. She was running ahead of me, but at just a slightly slower pace than me, so it took me awhile to catch her. I caught up with her right around Broadway, and as we waited for the light to change, we exchanged pleasantries. We both headed towards the east on the Highline Canal, and I figured that since I had been moving faster than her, that I'd pull ahead of her and leave her behind. However, I appeared to have motivated her, as although I was maybe 20 yards ahead of her, she kept up with me for several miles along the trail. Always just slightly behind me, as I could hear her footfalls each time a song ended and I could catch her out of my peripheral vision every now and then. She was actually pushing me to keep going strong, and I appreciated her for it.

When I arrived at the place where I leave the Highline Canal trail to head on the trail towards my home, I turned to see her continue following me. I said almost involuntarily..."You've gotta me kidding me!" which probably sounded like I was annoyed, as she immediately apologized. I wasn't annoyed, just amazed that we had followed the same trail for over 3 miles, and now she was leaving it at the exact same spot. Although the only contact we previously had were a few pleasantries waiting to cross Broadway, for the final six or seven minutes home, I chatted her up.

I learned that she has a 16 year old daughter that she shares a car with, and on some days when her daughter takes the car, she runs home from the light rail to her house that is near Arapahoe and Holly. She loves running, but hates snow and despises how poorly snow is removed in the area. I learned that she doesn't usually run as fast as we were going, but was using me as a way to pace herself. I laughed, as I told her that she was pushing me too. She seemed very nice, and I was glad to meet another person who enjoys running like I do. Conversations like this are few and far between, as it's rare to have someone keep pace with me for so long and run in the same direction at the same time long enough to chat. It's a pleasant feeling, and I wish it happened more often...even if it's a little weird that it felt like she was hunting me down for about a 2 and a half mile stretch.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Two Hundred One

December 11, 2014
7.69 Miles in 1:16:09
Mood: Trying to work through the pain.
Soundtrack: Serial / The Mediocre Show

It happens occasionally that an athlete gets hurt and they provide an improbable story as to the circumstances occurred that resulted in that injury. The official story is so ridiculous that you know it can't be true, but no one ever pushes for the "real story" and as a result either it goes down in goofy injury lore or whispered stories and rumors arise in conpiratorial circles as to "what actually went down".

It is in such a vein that I present the obviously false story of how I hurt my ribs. I was in a horrific boating accident on Tuesday and cracked a rib. That story is false...and no, I'm not telling you what actually happened, but the fact that my ribs are killing me is absolutely true. They are either bruised or broken, but either way, they hurt a lot.

This run began with trepidation, as I didn't know how my body would react to running after my "boat accident". I quickly found that it would react with severe sharp piercing pains in my side, which is not great. About a quarter of a mile into the run, I saw my family, as my wife was picking up the kids from school when I left, and we both hit the park near our house at the same time. It was good to see her and the kids, and I expressed to Jen my trepidation, and I wasn't certain how long or far I'd get.

I would have probably abandoned the endeavor entirely, but I am in the final month of my quest to run for at least 100 miles every month of 2014, and I'm really hoping that I can still make it happen, as I'm so close to my goal to give up now.

Since I have this goal in mind, I pressed on through the pain. I found that once I got going, it wasn't too bad as long as I tried to keep my footfalls as even as possible to reduce jostling. I'm sure I looked a little stiff as I went, but amazingly, my pace wasn't slowed dramatically from normal. Every time I stopped and then started again, the pain would come back pretty strongly, which meant that I was't stopping nearly as much as normal to take photos of things.

I tried to push through and hoped that the few stops I made would provide something decent. The sunset photo I settled on was decent, although I was a bit bummed that the picture that I tried to take of the coyote that crossed my path didn't come through. (It ended up just being a dimly lit picture of what appears to be an empty field, though I promise there was a coyote there!)

It was the first time in the history of my running that I have ever seen a coyote, even though there are signs everywhere on the trails stating that they are active in the area. My initial reaction was one of excitement and pulling out my camera rather than of trepidation. This cavalier attitude might not have been the ideal, but something told me the coyote wasn't going to attack me, but rather run away. (Which is exactly what it did.) Seeing actual wildlife in the midst of the city is always exciting, and that was easily the best part of this painful run.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Two Hundred

December 9, 2014
5.39 Miles in 50:02
Mood: Endings, Beginnings, Disappointments and Polar Bears.
Soundtrack: The Marty Riemer Show Podcast / Welcome to That Whole Thing

The "Endings" portion of this run was that I was listening to two podcasts that were airing some of their final shows, as both The Marty Riemer Show and Welcome to That Whole Thing are coming to a close this month. In this case, I was listening to the penultimate Marty Riemer show and the final Welcome to That Whole Thing. I've followed both of these shows for years, and am a little bummed that they are concluding, so there was some melancholy to this outing.

The "Beginnings" portion is rather simple...I'm beginning the 200's in blog posts.

The "Disappointment" was that I entered Target looking for a very specific gift for my son, a soft football to replace the one that he loves to play catch with in the house but is starting to wear out. It something that I have seen in Target before, and we have even bought one as a birthday gift for one of Luke's friends, but they have apparently sold out of the item. Fortunately, I was able to find it on the online gift shop at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, of all places, and it cost less there and they were doing free shipping, so all is well that ends well.

The "Polar Bears" portion of this run is what you see pictured above. This is one of my favorite homes anywhere near my has a circular drive that is protected by stone polar bears, because why wouldn't one want their home to have polar bears standing sentry? It's glorious in it's randomness and is the kind of thing this blog exists to document...and yes, I did post about this same place once all the way back on post 30, but this photo was different enough that I figured I'd use another picture of this place just due to it being an awesome house with polar bears guarding it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

One Hundred Ninety-Nine

December 7, 2014
8.79 Miles in 1:20:39
Mood: Distressed and attempting to put down a Canadian Geese Uprising
Soundtrack: U2 "Songs of Innocence" / U2 "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb"

And now...a few good words about Koreans. I love Koreans. LOVE THEM. This is a new found love, but it is strong nonetheless. I was exactly 2.74 miles into my Sunday run. (I remember this detail specifically as strong emotional distress tends to cement minutiae into your head.) I had circled Wash Park once, and was headed Southeast towards Observatory Park when it hit. I had to poop. This was one of those moments where your body gives you little time to prepare as I went quickly from calm to code red...The jostling of one's body from running certainly sped this process along.

I was forced to slow to a walk, as my body would no longer allow for me to both run and also contain the impending disaster from springing forth. I was panic walking in an Easterly direction on E Florida Ave and racking my mind for a solution. I looked to the sky and thought, "From where will my help come?" Then, in the sky, I saw a steeple with a cross at the top. I realized that it was Sunday morning, and a church would probably be open, and the folks inside would probably be Christian enough to allow a disgusting sweaty man to use their toilet.

Walking as fast as my body would allow, I beelined towards the church. As I approached, I realized that I could not read most of the words on the church's sign. However, the words that I could read said, "Korean Christian Church". I saw an elderly looking Korean woman walking towards the building, and I began to pathetically lurch towards her. Although, I'm certain she was terrified of the large perspiring white man approaching her, she graciously directed me to the church's basement where I zoomed through a needlessly elaborate basement labyrinth to find the men's room...thankfully the sign was printed in both English and Korean. At this point, I unleashed hell.

Ten minutes later, I felt like a human again. The toilet paper was a new roll which I happily unwrapped. I was amused to find that the brand of toilet paper was ironically named "Marathon" which seems like a terrible name for that type of paper product, but no matter...I used it. I will now always have a soft spot in my heart for Koreans. Viva Korea.

The other thing I noticed on this run is that Canadian Geese have absolutely no fear of runners. Wash Park is filthy with these Geese right now, and they were sitting on many of the running paths as if they were protesters and all the park's joggers had just failed to indict a police officer. People would be running full speed at them, and they not only didn't move a step...they didn't even flinch. They own the park, and consider all two legged individuals to be not even worthy of being considered a nuisance. I had never before seen wildlife with such a callous disregard for humans. They were basically Galapagos Geese. Then I decided to stop and try and take a picture of this poultry insolence.

Geese may have zero fear of runners, but a dude standing perfectly still with a camera phone freaks them out. They scattered from me at a breakneck pace. These two in the photo above are the only ones of which I got a decent picture, and they were avoiding me like Lady Di's driver fleeing the paparazzi.

So, today's lessons: If you really need to poop...find a Korean church. If you want to scare a goose, stand perfectly still. These are the things I learn by running.

One Hundred Ninety-Eight

December 5, 2014
4.87 Miles in 44:45
Mood: Discovery
Soundtrack: Serial

The family had Friday night plans, so I didn't have much time. I still wanted to get in a few miles, so I hurried out the door to get in a short run. I didn't expect that this would be all that special of a run, as it was going to be short and sweet. I definitely didn't expect to see something new on paths I've ran a multitude of times. I was kind of planning on taking a picture of a Christmas decoration that I saw the previous night as my photo for the blog and being good with that.

Then at about the two and a half mile point in the run, I turned onto the Highline Canal Trail and much to my surprise, about fifty yards into running on the trail, I saw something amazing. I don't know if this face on this tree is new, or just new to me. I may have run past it hundreds of times without noticing it. However, for whatever reason, I glanced over and suddenly noticed that someone had subtly created a face on one of the large trees that lines the path. It blends in so well that it's easy to miss, but once you see it, it's unmistakably the job of some creative artistic type who did a small project to make the world a tiny bit better.

In my mind, that is what Art is: Small steps to a better world. With a smile on my face I finished up my run while listening to the tenth installment of the amazing Serial podcast. For such a short run, it sure turned out well.

Friday, December 5, 2014

One Hundred Ninety-Seven

December 4, 2014
7.69 Miles in 1:13:32
Soundtrack: Judge John Hodgman / Mumford and Sons "Sigh No More"

Something about Christmas makes people put giant inflatable penguins in their yards. The best thing about this house is that this penguin was the sum of their Christmas yard decorations. You could see the tree that was inside the house, but there was not another outdoor decoration other than this giant 8 foot penguin wearing a scarf. I have to say, I enjoyed the minimalism of it.

"Hey, penguin!"

This run began with a clunk, as my blood sugar went low about a mile in. When that happens, I lose all momentum and concentration and energy and I'm basically a human slug. It's the worst, I hate it so. I felt better after stopping in to get a little Egg Nog froyo (44 cents after coupon) and shortly thereafter the run improved drastically. It also helped when I switched over from my podcast (the humorous Judge John Hodgman pod) to a little Mumford and Sons. I know that a lot of people find Mumford and Sons to be hokey or ridiculous or obnoxious, but I love em. Turns out that this music was exactly what I needed to get moving much quicker and feeling much better. At some points in the music I even got uncharacteristically emotional as I was running and started flailing my arms about in a ridiculous victorious manner.

I'm often a ridiculous human being. I get that.

Final thing about this run...Holy geez, the Christmas lights are already out in force. I guess we're only three weeks away at this point, so it makes sense, but wow are there a lot of Christmas lights and decorations everywhere. I have a feeling that might be a theme in the upcoming weeks on the blog. We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

One Hundred Ninety-Six

December 2, 2014
8.34 Miles in 1:19:39
Mood: Morose
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / Ben Folds "Rockin' the Suburbs"

For some reason, I was gloomy on this Tuesday afternoon. It wasn't full on depression, but I was definitely not feeling all that cheery. I listened to an episode of "Jordan, Jesse, Go!" but the lighthearted humor wasn't helping so I leaned full into the mood by listening to Ben Folds...a musician that I love, but who's music definitely heads a little in the pessimistic direction. Sometimes listening to sad music when I feel sad makes me feel better. That has always seemed a little weird to me, but it's true.

By the time I got home, I was feeling mostly better with a combination of some time spent with sad music and the endorphin rush that accompanies exercise. Running is a good way to work out the mental bugs in your life, and since I hadn't run since Friday, I was overdue for a session. Running as therapy.

Today's picture was something so overt and in my face that when I saw it, I had to take a picture of it. I get being irritated at those able bodied people who work the system and live off of other people's taxes. I don't get being so annoyed at it that you obnoxiously use your vehicle to advocate for the elimination of services so necessary for so many. I'm guessing the guy who drives this vehicle has a bit of an anger problem.

Finally, I think the map for this run looks kind of like a gun.

Monday, December 1, 2014

One Hundred Ninety-Five

November 28, 2014
6.94 Miles in 1:08:07
Mood: Avoiding Bears and Billionaires
Soundtrack: Waterdeep "Sink or Swim"

It was Black Friday, and while much of America was camping out at Best Buy to save money on electronics, I was getting up to run the streets of Aspen. We were staying on the outskirts of that most ostentatious and oddly charming mountain village, and while the family slept I snuck out intent on checking out the town.

Weird thing about Aspen...they have a wide network of wonderful trails surrounding the city which they manicure meticulously, but their sidewalks appear to be largely free from having to deal with shovels scraping them. Running in town seemed to be a somewhat foreign subject, as my speeds dipped severely while there as a result of gingerly scampering on large plots of icy ground. What it lacked in sidewalk maintenance, it made up for in interesting things to see. This is the first run in the history of the blog that included an operating ski lift. When I went to the bottom of the ski hill to check it out, I was amused that I was clearly the only person not in ski boots, and felt quite odd in my running shoes that close to the gondolas.

This run also took me past a restaurant with a bear statue on it's roof (which I rather enjoyed), past a quirky store that named itself the "Aspen Emporium & Flying Circus" and of course, past the Aspen Art Museum (seen above) which is a very cool looking building hosting a VERY pretentious collection of Art. We visited the museum later on this day, and one of the docents tried to explain a piece by telling me that a piece (which was a hood ripped off of a hoodie and nailed to the wall) was more about what wasn't there than what was. If you go the jazz apologist route and tell me that I have to listen to the notes the artist ISN'T playing, you have lost me. I can listen to the notes someone isn't playing by staying home. At some point, I want art to be about what the artist IS saying, not what he isn't saying. Still, I enjoy a smug pretentious art person, so I found the Art Museum to be endlessly entertaining in a way that I'm pretty sure they weren't intending.

The last half of this run sped up a bit as I found the Rio Grande trail leading me out of town and on a round about way back to the house where I was staying. I had walked with one of my hosts on a similar trail the day before, and he told me a story of a time when a bear crossed his path. I was enjoying the well shoveled dry trail and hoping that at no point would I cross a bear unless it was another statue on top of another restaurant. I saw very little wildlife, but I did see some homes that the word extravagant doesn't even begin to cover. People in Aspen have some money, and they aren't afraid to throw a lot of it into building large homes. Wow, I was speechless at the preposterous size and luxury of these "residences". These huge palaces were basically out in the middle of the woods. It's disorienting to see such opulence in such a rustic setting. I oogled a few giant houses as I ran the trail, until I had to cross a bridge which led me back toward a more reasonably housed segment civilization. The downside to this was that not only did I have a lot fewer crazy homes to view, but I also had a gigantic hill to run up. This slowed me quite a bit, and at about five miles into the preceedings, it quickly wore me out. I was quite happy when I finally made it back to the house.

It was an eventful and interesting run, but it's safe to say that the city of Aspen itself is not designed for runners. Nice place to visit for a run, but I wouldn't want to live there as a runner. Those trails, though...pretty nice.

One Hundred Ninety-Four

November 25, 2014
9.07 Miles in 1:25:33
Mood: Determined, Chilly, and slightly freaked out.
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / Needtobreathe "The Reckoning"

It wasn't too chilly when I started, but I started later than normal in the afternoon. By the time I was done, it was bitter cold. We were heading up to Aspen for Thanksgiving, and I needed almost nine miles to get to 100 for the month. I wasn't sure if I would get a chance to run in Aspen or not, so I decided to push on to make sure that I finished up my November goal and didn't leave it to chance in the mountains. By the time I got home I was still feeling pretty strong, but exceptionally cold. The warm shower was most welcome.

The oddest thing about this run happened as the sun was setting. You can see it in the picture if you look closely. There were about four or five men standing in a field, each with a large dog. They were milling about, and one of them headed down the hill towards me as I was running. He didn't say anything to me, but he just kind of glared at me while holding his dog. The rest of these men stayed off in the distance at the top of the hill. Let me tell ya, strange men standing in a field with dogs for unknown purposes at dusk on a freezing November night is extra creepy. I had to take a picture, 1. For evidence if something weird happened and 2. Because the clouds were pretty excellent. I did wait until the glaring guy was far enough away where he couldn't see me clearly anymore before I took the picture. I ran extra fast after that, and was pretty pleased when I pulled far enough away to be out of range of that whole weird scene.

Monday, November 24, 2014

One Hundred Ninety-Three

November 23, 2014
8.01 Miles in 1:13:57
Mood: Muffling my burning rage
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / iPhone music on Shuffle

I have this theory that a local politician could easily get elected to office based on a platform of strictly eliminating photo radar vans. I would put up with a lot of policy that I don't agree with if the trade off was that the person I voted for was determined to rid the world of this scourge. I'd almost prefer to get a larger ticket from a property traffic cop who pulls me over than to face that horrid flash as you drive mindlessly down the road. Then know that in the next three to six weeks a bill will be showing up in your mailbox. I hate these vans and they tyranny they stand for with the burning passion of the pits of hell. Just because I'm breaking the law doesn't mean that the enforcement should be able to just mail me my comeuppance. I should be processed by someone who has to go through all the physical actions of pulling me over and writing a ticket. Somehow this is just allowed to take place...Is this still America???? DID WE LOSE A WAR!?!?!?!

Sorry, I tend to get carried away on this particular topic. Anyway, here's where this run comes into the picture. It was Sunday, and my lovely Mother-in-Law Joan is in town. My wife was going in to work, so I thought it might be nice for us to go and visit the Weckbaugh Mansion (longtime readers will know that I'm obsessed with the property at 1701 E Cedar Ave in Denver that Zillow estimates being worth around 5.8 million dollars.) My kids had never seen it, and this seemed like the kind of thing that Joan would find interesting. Then my plan was to head over to Wash Park, and give Joan the keys, let the kids play at the park for awhile, and then she could take them home, and I'd run home from Wash Park.

The trip to the mansion was nice, as we peeked at it through the fence as I tend to do around once a month or so, and then we went to the park and the kids were playing. I said farewell to everyone and began my trek home. The run took me through Wash Park and DU, and everything was fine. I had a slight low blood sugar, so I stopped at a Wendy's to get a Kid's size frosty. (These are the greatest. They are tiny...just the right amount of frosty, plus they only cost 53 cents with tax.) I was enjoying my frosty on as I walked South on University on a short break from my run, when I saw THIS monstrosity (pictured above).

These stupid vans make my blood boil. I had never seen one while on foot, and I must admit my first inclination was to throw my frosty at it. I refrained from doing so as 1. I wanted to eat my frosty and 2. I wanted to avoid being arrested. I then started fantasizing about vandalizing the van in some way which would render the van incapable of taking photos. Again, I still wanted to avoid jail time, so I was able to keep my calm and pulled out my phone. I warned Joan to be careful while driving home in that particular area so as to avoid getting a ticket. Then I opened my camera app to capture this vile vehicle in action. As I walked past, I realized that there is a human being manning the photo radar van. This particular police representative was a very large gentleman who looked rather uncomfortable in the small seat of the van facing the traffic that came at him. He looked almost as miserable as his flash makes me feel...which gave me some measure of comfort. If you're going to do such horrid work, you should at least be uncomfortable while doing it. I avoided eye contact with him, finished my frosty, and continued on the journey home.

I was proud of myself that I managed to control my rage, and enjoyed the rest of the trip home. It was a cool but pleasant Sunday, and I always enjoy a run more when it is actually getting me somewhere as opposed to my usual run which ends up being a giant loop where I start and finish in the same place. All in all, a nice experience, even if it was briefly interrupted by one of my great life nemesises. (Nemesi? What do you call a plural nemesis?)

One Hundred Ninety-Two

November 21, 2014
8.42 Miles in 1:20:47
Mood: Mildly disoriented by a weird and wonderful world.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show

This run began by passing a sign for a toy drive where the designer of the sign completely ripped off the Toy Story logo, it continued by passing a sign in someone's yard that said, "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here" (a sentiment I found mostly confusing), it then led me past a most unusual truck with the name Pinzgauer on the badge (a truck I found very cool, and quite foreign looking).

I then stopped in to buy some cheese at a Sprouts grocery store that I had imagined to be much closer to my home than it ended up being. While inside Sprouts, I was offered some delicious sushi by a pleasant Asian woman who tried to sell me a full package of sushi. Actually, had I not been out on a run, I might have bought an entire package because it was really good. I'm enjoying this recent trend of grocery stores hiring Asian folks to make sushi in their stores and more importantly having them provide free samples of their wares. This is a good trend.

As a result of going so far to get to Sprouts, I ended up going over eight miles rather than the six to six and a half that I felt like going. I decided to run home on Belleview to see what was happening with the crazy Gargoyle decorating lady. She has truly outdone herself. I arrived at her wall to find her Gargoyles wrapped in fall tablecloths and wearing turkey hats. I salute you, Crazy Gargoyle Lady. Those hats are excellent.

As a result of pushing myself farther than I intended, I ended up not getting home until well after dark. It was a very pleasant November day, but once the sun goes down in November, even really pleasant days get a bit chilly. I was pushing myself to get home by the end, as I was pretty wiped. Still, a rather eventful outing, and you can see in the about those turkey hats?!?

Friday, November 21, 2014

One Hundred Ninety-One

November 20, 2014
7.65 Miles in 1:12:12
Mood: Invested in a murder mystery
Soundtrack: Serial

So it is apparently sunset week. This sunset is not nearly as good as Tuesday's, but I still liked the picture with the mountains in the background and the real selling point of the airplane in the top left corner, which I totally didn't notice until I was looking at my photos. This was a pleasant sunset, but my mind was almost totally distracted by listening to the podcast Serial.

For those who don't know, Serial is a podcast that is distributed by the people who bring you This American Life. It's the story of a murder from 1999 of a high school girl and the odd facts which make the court system's decision seem somewhat problematic. It was recommended to me by Larry of the LCS Hockey Show podcast, and I started listening on Thursday and was finished with all 9 episodes that have been released to this point in less than 24 hours. It's compelling stuff, and as I was running, I was listening and getting more and more interested in this mystery. (Personally, I think Adnon is guilty, for anyone who is listening to it.)

As for this run, it was pretty solid, even though I got back after dark, which was a little chilly in late November, still, I was able to listen to a few episodes of Serial, so it was a good run.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

One Hundred Ninety

November 18, 2014
8.02 Miles in 1:16:09
Mood: Overwhelmed by a cool sunset
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / TV on the Radio "Dear Science"

At one point on this run, I passed by a house with four different ladders propped up against it. I took a picture of it, because it looked so ridiculous, and I was sure that'd end up being the picture of the day...because FOUR DIFFERENT LADDERS ON ONE SIDE OF A HOUSE! Why would anyone do that?

Then God pulled out his paintbrush and made the sky look amazing. This was the second time in ten days (See Post 186) that the sky had taken my breath away. Last time it was a sunrise, but sunsets can be pretty spectacular too. Much like sunrise, I had to stop and take pictures of the sky. I didn't really even have a choice. It was that spectacular. I saw a few other posts on Instagram from friends around the city who also were blown away by the sunset. I was running East, but kept craning my neck to get a look at the natural fireworks occurring in sky. The sunset was giving the world a rosy glow, and it was impossible not to be impressed with the beauty. As the sun and the natural show ended, I still had a cool feeling in my soul, and I ended up finishing that last mile at a pace that was about a minute faster than most of my previous seven was inspiring and I felt great.

By the time I arrived at home, I was reminded why even at times when running can be a slog, it still has it's moments that keep me out there seeking new experiences and invigorating moments. You never are certain when those moments will arrive, but they make this crazy running hobby worthwhile even while you'll always have your runs that are less than inspiring.

Monday, November 17, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Nine

November 16, 2014
4.56 Miles in 42:27
Mood: Confined
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go!

Saturday night saw a big storm blow through South Denver, so the streets were once again snow-packed and hard to run on. I wanted to get out for a run, so I headed across the street to The Streets at Southglenn outdoor shopping center. This is a safe place to run when the world is snowy because the mall owners clear snow faster than any other place on earth. Although the rest of the world was snowy and hard to traverse, these streets and sidewalks were shoveled clear because commerce must continue! I looped around the main streets a few times, and then to break it up, I also ran up and down the parking garage a few times.

It was about half an hour before any of the shops in the mall were scheduled to open, and yet the parking garage was quite busy. One of the weirder things to me was how many cars were flying up to the upper levels of the parking garage. The garage has five floors for some reason, even though the mall is rarely so busy as to need any more than 2. The result is that the top three level of the parking garage usually resemble a morgue. However, on this particular Sunday morning, it appears that people were training for the Pike's Peak Hill Climb auto race. I saw at least three or four cars flying up to the fourth floor. Then I started getting a bit nervous, as I started thinking that perhaps these upper levels of this abandoned parking garage might be getting used by nefarious crime perpetrators, and I might accidentily stumble into something I really didn't want to see.

Fortunately, the most disagreeable thing I bumped into was a layer of snow on the top level. I was also able to get a picture of the Parking Garage sign, which has kind of a cool flair. I at no point during this run was any further than about half a mile from home, but I still managed to get in a decent four and a half miles on a day when there weren't many places to go, so all in all, things worked out pretty well.

One Hundred Eighty-Eight

November 14, 2014
6.76 Miles in 1:05:48
Mood: Melting
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / Vaudeville Etiquette "Debutantes & Dealers"

30 degrees shouldn't feel hot. Yet I was feeling positively tropical as I left for this Friday run...or at least as tropical as one can feel with snow on the ground still. The positive thing is that the snow was starting to melt. (On the negative side, another storm would hit on Saturday) However, for this afternoon, I felt free to run on any street I wished. Trails were still snowpacked and muddy and as they are for the majority of winter...pretty much unrunable, but at least the streets were clear.

I didn't see much interesting other than old timey trucks, but there were a plethora of cool old timey trucks on my route, so I can't say I didn't see ANYTHING interesting. I don't know what it is about a really old truck that appeals to me, but they definitely scratch an itchy spot in my reptillian brain. I get much happier than I should when I see one, and if I stumble across a NEW (to me) one? Forget about it, it's probably making the blog unless I see something REALLY cool.

Friday, November 14, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Seven

November 13, 2014
4.79 Miles in 48:34
Mood: Cold
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show

It has been SO COLD this week. I had to forgo running on Tuesday because it was snowing and about 9 degrees outside. Thursday rolled around, and although it was only 14 degrees outside, at least the sun was sorta shining. It felt warm enough to get a run in, so I went for it. You'll notice I didn't go as far as I normally do, and the reason for that is simple...I was freezing my butt off. In addition to that, the streets are covered in snow, so it's hard to find a good place to run without putting yourself in the path of cars, plus your feet can't get good traction, so your running pace is slowed and you're constantly trying to not fall over on a slick patch. If I haven't already made it clear, I'm not a huge fan of winter cold. It was, however, quite nice to get a run in after not getting out since Sunday.

This is some pretty good irony here...this is post 187, and the photo for the day is caution tape. 187 is the police code for a homicide...or at least that is what I have been led to believe by popular culture. I'm sure there is a perfectly reasonable explination of what is going here as I doubt there were three separate crime scenes in this guy's front yard, but having caution tape squares marked off does lead one to ask interesting questions about what is going on. Maybe there was a triple homicide, though?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Six

November 9, 2014
7.43 Miles in 1:12:48
Soundtrack: Florence and the Machine / The Decemberists "The King is Dead" / How Did This Get Made "Sleepaway Camp Episode"

Jen had to go in to work earlier than normal this Sunday morning, so if I was going to run, I was going to have to get up really early to do so. My alarm went off at 5:32 this morning, and I was genuinely excited to get going. I hurried to get ready, and I was on the trail shortly after six this morning.

It turned out that this was a tremendous morning to get up early to run. Today's sunrise was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. It had the right combination of clear skies and cloud cover to really turn the entire world pink for a few minutes. There was an otherworldly feel about it, like I was being given an advance peak into heaven or something. I was listening to Florence and the Machine music on shuffle on Spotify which actually added to the experience. For about four minutes, the world was covered in magic. This picture only captures a hint of the beauty, as the whole world looked and felt different. I know it sounds like I'm overselling it, but it was unbelievable.

After the sunrise passed, and the world began to look like a normal lovely morning, I decided to abandon music and listen to "How Did This Get Made?" a podcast that breaks down odd movies. This particular episode was the first I had ever listened to, and I was only listening because they were discussing the movie "Sleepaway Camp" from 1983. This movie was recently featured on one of my favorite podcasts, The Film Vault. I happened to watch it last week on YouTube, and it's so horrifically awful as to be amazing. It's just beyond weird, so I was excited to hear people talk it up. I wasn't disappointed, they did a great job breaking down the nuts and bolts of this incredibly awful movie. I can't in good conscience recommend this film, but I will promise that if you watch it, you'll remember it vividly. Hearing a podcast discussing it was a good way to come down from the high of a life changing sunrise. All in all, it was a fabulous Sunday morning run.

One Hundred Eighty-Five

November 7, 2014
7.08 Miles in 1:05:52
Mood: Enjoying myself as I looked crazy
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / The Killers "All These Things That I've Done" / Counting Crows "Recovering the Satellites"

While I understand that there are many music critics who would rather be dipped in molten lava than subject themselves to Counting Crows music, I simply don't care. I like them. I like the fact that Adam Duritz never sings a song the same way twice, and I like that he gets REALLY into his songs. On the final stretch on this run, I found myself singing along really loudly with every song that was rolling through my earbuds. I'm sure I looked and sounded like a crazy person, but I can live with giving off that vibe. I was having fun.

As I entered the home stretch of this run, I was singing along to "Daylight Fading" as the daylight was fading. It was oh so fortuitous, it also helped that the sun setting was creating some lovely skies and the park I was running through looked so nice. I couldn't help it, I was in a great mood. A great singing, running, happy, silly mood...and the world looked pretty. It was truly a great way to start out a weekend.

One Hundred Eighty-Four

November 6, 2014
8.19 Miles in 1:20:44
Mood: A little bored
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show

The time change happened last weekend, and now it gets dark far too early. I pushed myself a little further West than I probably should have, and I was starting to get a bit tired as the sun was setting and the temps were dropping. This made for a slow final two miles or so, although in the end I was glad, as I got a this cool picture of the rising full moon. I was especially happy to get this picture, as I was having a hard time finding anything of interest for a photo. This is unusual, as typically when I go out, I'm assaulted on all sides by weird things. This turned out to be kind of a boring run, but staring at the full moon was nice.

One of the only interesting things that happened on this trek was when I stopped for a break at King Soopers. At the front entrance, one of the very first things I came across was a young Asian woman offering samples of sushi. Yes, apparently my grocery store is now in the fresh made sushi business. I tried her offerings, and the sushi roll was actually quite tasty. I suppose if you're selling sushi, you want to have Asian people in charge of the whole situation, but it still amused me that while it's rare to see Asian people working at King Soopers, they have been specially brought in to handle the sushi. I suppose that's appropriate, but it felt both completely normal and a little odd to me at the same time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Three

November 4, 2014
8.08 Miles in 1:11:33
Mood: Calling to my animal friends
Soundtrack: Lupe Fiasco "Lasers" / Lupe Fiasco "Food & Liquor"

I didn't want to fight cars, so I headed directly to the Highline Canal and just rode that wave for four miles, then turned around and did a reverse skate in the opposite skating direction. The negative to running on the trail is that it can often be harder to find a good picture for this blog, the positive side to it is that it's pretty much a flat path the whole way, and you never find yourself needing to negotiate traffic in a world where any miscommunication can end with a two ton vehicle smashing into you at a high rate of speed. I was tired from a long day at work, so decided to just shut off the traffic maneuvering section of my brain and run a trail.

Trail running is pretty wonderful. I found myself listening to music and cruising at a faster pace than I usually hit. I felt good. I didn't even think about taking a picture for the first two miles, and then I found some horses in a field with the sun shining on them, so I snapped a quick shot of them just so I'd be sure to have SOMETHING to post. It wasn't going to be great, but at least it was going to be something. Then I reached the point that I had planned to turn around just before the four mile mark, and two white horses were in a field. I have seen these horses before, but decided I wanted to get a picture of them, because apparently I was in a horse photo mood.

I walked off the trail and down the slight incline towards the fence of their corral. It was at this point that I began to believe that a lot of people bring these horses treats, as they both made a beeline to me to come say hello, and I could only assume that visions of gumdrops or apples danced in their heads. They were super friendly and for about 30 seconds or so transformed me from a normalish middle aged man into one of those middle school nerdy girls who is just a little TOO into horses. For that half a minute, my whole world was about horses. I was smiling with a dopey smile on my face and petting their heads, and of course taking pictures, including the extreme horse close up you see above. And admit it, that's a cute horse. I was in Horse Nrvana, but snapped out of it, as I realized that it was getting darker and more importantly colder. With a happiness created by friendly ponies, I happily trucked back down the path on my return trip home. It was a good run, one where I embraced my inner Disney princess and called to my animal friends.