Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Hundred Thirty-Three

July 29, 2014
3.04 Miles in 0:26:24
Mood: Hurried
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go!

This run was almost exclusively so I could get to 100 miles for July and not have to worry about whether or not I'd be able to sneak in the last 2.6 miles in the final couple of days with heavy rains predicted. It was sprinkling and the air was wonderfully chilly.

I could have easily stayed out for a few hours with how perfect the conditions were (other than the late hour) and I was hoping to get in a full run, but I couldn't even get started until 9:30, and I wanted to get to bed before midnight.  I told my wife that I was going to do a short run, but I don't think she believed me, as when I arrived back home a half an hour later, she seemed legitimately surprised that I could reign myself in.

Other than getting to 100 miles for July, there was one other purpose for this run. I wanted to procure some Mio water enhancer from the grocery store. While checking out, I was amused at how many steps I added to the process in an effort to make self-checkout even more needlessly complicated. I had to type in my phone number to use my loyalty program card, then I had a bar code that was mailed to us by King Soopers which I had to scan in order to get some special prices on items which I buy all the time, then I had a bar code which I had to scan in order to get the opportunity to win tickets to the Broncos season opener, then I had a dollar off coupon for the single item I was purchasing. All in all, I was able to get an item that usually costs 3.99 for just 1.79, and now I have a chance to attend the Broncos-Colts game I get exceptionally lucky. Let me tell ya, I'm not afraid to use a coupon.

Nothing all that exciting about today's photo, other than it comes from a lovely shopping center (The Streets of Southglenn) that is super close to my home, and the Southglenn sign looks pretty cool at night with the theater in the background. I've been saving this shot for a night run where I am not going to get too far, and it seemed like a good time to use a photo of this particular spot for the blog, as I wasn't going to pass too many places that would be good for a night photo op.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One Hundred Thirty-Two

July 27, 2014
8.01 Miles in 1:14:23
Mood: Weirded out by Littleton
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / Passenger "All The Little Lights"

Right off the bat, I'd like to point out that there is a portrait of a Jeep on the garage right next to the Jeep parked off to the side. I'm assuming that this is the same Jeep, as the likeness is incredible. Although not a perfect replica, I believe the differences are due more to a lack of artistic skill in the art of photo realism on the part of the artist than anything else. I have every reason to believe that the artist was staring at this vehicle as he or she drew it on the garage door. I am dying to know if there is a squat little blue car inside the garage as well. Perhaps this art serves a purpose in helping the person who lives there remember which side of the garage to park each of his two vehicles...but then, why is the Jeep in the gravel driveway instead of also in the garage. I have so many questions. Littleton is so weird.

I think it's also important to note that for the entirety of the time that I was standing on this property to take a picture I feared very much that some crazy person would run out at me with a shotgun or perhaps a small cadre of angry large dogs. There was an unmistakable kooky vibe to this home, which extended beyond the fact that there was artwork on the garage door.

I'd also like to note that this home was exceptionally close to the recently featured Dubb's Pub. And that on this run, I also saw the backside of Dubb's which features all sorts of spray painted artwork including a pinup girl, a motorcycle, and the logos nearly all of the professional sports teams in town. While I enjoyed the spray paint art, some of the displays were in better shape than others. The Nuggets logo in particular was in a sad state of affairs, which I suppose matches the state of the Nuggets. Perhaps they were making a statement?

There was one final site on this run which also was nearby to Dubbs, and added to the general weird vibe of this particular section of Littleton. It is a building that looks like an old dance hall. It has a pink and black awning which in no way matches the look of the rest of the building, and upon which is written in bold lettering, "TXT Trance Xtreme Training".

I have no idea what that means, or that anyone is still dropping the "E" from extreme to make it seem simultaneously more and less extreme. I thought that died with 1995, but apparently it's still a thing in the Littleton portion of the neighborhood immediately off South Broadway.

In summary, although I love it, sometimes Littleton weirds me out.

One Hundred Thirty-One

July 25, 2014
7.25 Miles in 1:09:52
Mood: Amused by Kasper-Hauser
Soundtrack: The Kasper-Hauser Soundtrack

This run was timed perfectly between torrential rainstorms. The rain stopped just as started, and it started up again almost the instant I walked back into my home. That kind of balance and fortuitious luck deserves to have a photo that portrays some exotic balancing/praying type sculpture. Being a true Middle American, I am clueless as to what religion or philosophical philosophy is being honored with this statue other that to say that it's almost certainly Asian, and I'm guessing that it's practitioners are really into balance, meditation, and probably disgusting natural foods. I'm also guessing that this home belongs to a well meaning, but unsufferably pretentious white person.

This run will be the one and only run in my history to feature the Kasper-Hauser podcast. Not because I didn't like it, but because I think I listened to every single episode in the catalog on this one run, and they haven't made any new episodes since 2011, so I'm guessing the window is closed on this one. Still, I'm glad I dipped my toe in the waters, as this is one funny show. Each episode is only a few minutes long, and they are all comedic gold. I had two favorite episodes. The first was Spicy Pony Head in which a snooty French waiter tries to sell an unsuspecting customer on ordering the Spicy Pony Head from the menu. The second episode I loved was Mundo de Perros, in which a goofy Mexican television show host invites on a Harvard professor who is supposedly the world's foremost authority on dogs and asks him questions in Spanish. Being only able to speak a tiny bit of Spanish, he is mocked for knowing nothing about dogs because he cannot speak in Spanish.

In case you can't tell, the comedy is absurdist and intricate, and I loved every moment. It made for an enjoyable run, as that type of humor is squarely in my wheelhouse. Also, I stayed dry. So basically, the entire experience was an unqualified success.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One Hundred Thirty

July 22, 2014
8.91 Miles in 1:30:10
Mood: Overambitious leading to late night anxiety
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / Judge John Hodgman

It's 11:10 at night, and I'm running down University Blvd. I've been running for a bit over seven miles already despite not getting enough sleep the night before, and I'm running fairly slowly and I'm pretty gassed. However, I'm trying my hardest to keep plugging away because I both need to get to bed and I'm trying desperately to NOT get that phone call.

Then I hear the podcast I'm listening to cut out, and the horrid sound of my pleasant iPhone ring tones begin snorting through my ear buds. Although it's not a disagreeable sound, I know the emotion behind it, and I feel crestfallen. I answer with a defeated, "Hello."

"Where are you?"

I feel terrible. I've been out far too long, and I need to get home. I wanted desperately to be able to get there before this call came in. I have failed. It's my wife, and she has done her best to leave me alone, but I have been out for nearly two hours now, and she has to be at least a little concerned about my well being, as I should have returned by now. This has likely kept her awake and the not knowing leads to annoyance. It's a well deserved annoyance, as it's the middle of the night, and I'm not home. I assure her that I'm well on my way and just ended up going a bit further than I should have which caused me to be further away than I ought to have been, which both wore me out and left me needing to traverse more miles than I ever intended to go in order to get home.

I apologize, and I mean it. I feel bad. Sometimes I get a little carried away, sometimes I get a lot carried away. This was one of those "a lot carried away" times. It all stemmed from a Denver Broncos neon light. It became my focus and my quest, which was probably a dumb obsession for a late night Tuesday run. The light, as seen in the photo above, is housed at a little dive bar that I have never entered, and probably never will. The bar is called "Dubbs Pub", and the sing-songy nature of it's name make it a place that my wife and I routinely mock. I often tell her we ought to stop in for a drink, even though this place looks exactly like the kind of place she and I would NEVER step foot in.

On this night, I decided that I would run to this bar to get a photo of the neon light, because it was late and it's hard to think of good things to take pictures of for the blog that will show up will in the middle of the night. The bad thing is that this bar is a good distance away, so I was committing to a decently long run, and it was perhaps even further away than I originally thought. Still, as a man who fully commits to stupid ideas more often than I should, I didn't change my plan, even as I started to realize it was going to be a pretty long run. Then, I decided to go even slightly further North to run through a neighborhood that I was interested in checking out, making a long run even longer.

Then it happened. I kind of hit the wall. I was probably five and a half or six miles in, and I saw a bunny run across an intersection that I was approaching. I stopped and watched the bunny for awhile. He was sitting perfectly still in the middle of the dimly lit intersection and he regarded me with the excessive energy of a bunny looking at a stupid jogger in the middle of the night. He was nervous, as is often the way with bunnies, and after taking one final look at me, he quickly zoomed away. I immediately contrasted his ridiculous late night bunny speed with my quickly fading rubber legged slowness. I stood there in the middle of the dark intersection at far too late an hour, and realized as if I were Gob Bluth that I had made a huge mistake.

I was in a dark place both literally and figuratively. I needed to get home, but I was tired. I had to keep running, even though I didn't really want to, and all I could think about was how late it was and how far away from home I had foolishly drug myself. I pulled my focus together and realized that I could make it, as I had many times before. And thus began my painful race against the clock that I lost at 11:10 when the phone rang.

I arrived home at about 11:15, and my wife was in bed. I showered and rather tiredly went to sleep that night, hopefully having learned my lesson to keep my late night runs more reasonable, although it seems not completely unlikely that I might be dumb again because...well...I can be dumb from time to time.

As for the photo. I'm glad that I got it, although I don't tend think that it was worth it. Running nearly nine miles in the middle of the night, confusing the inebriated patrons inside the bar who were wondering why the sweaty guy was taking a picture of them through the window (As a quick aside, there were many more patrons inside the bar than I was anticipating at Ten O'clock on a Tuesday night.), and causing my wife enough annoyed worry that she had to check in on me were probably not worth getting this picture. But, I'm DEFINITELY posting it since I went to all the trouble to get it. And I have to say, the picture came out better than I expected. You get a sense of what it was like both inside and outside of the bar with the it led to what is probably the longest post in the history of this blog. So that's something!

So to my wife: I'm sorry for staying out so late and any worry it may have caused

To the patrons of Dubb's Pub: I rather enjoyed your puzzled looks as I took the picture. I regret nothing.

And Finally, to that lousy bunny rabbit: I'd wish bad things on you, but it's probably hard enough being a wild rabbit without any naysayers wishing ill upon you, so go with God little bunny friend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One Hundred Twenty-Nine

July 20, 2014
7.11 Miles in 1:08:27
Soundtrack: The Film Vault
Mood: Irritated at ear buds and eager to get back to the kiddos.

I woke up extremely early on Sunday to get this run in. Partially because it the forecast was calling for temperatures in the nineties, but also because my kids had just gotten in on Saturday night, and I hadn't been able to hang out with them in a week and a half, so I was looking forward to that. My goal was to get a solid run in as quickly as possible, so I wasn't in the mood to mess around. When I walked back in the door at the end of the run, even my wife was surprised at how quickly this one went. It was much shorter than a typical Sunday run, and she even asked me how far I went, surprised that I had gotten in a decent run in such a short time frame. Proper motivation can do wonders for efficiency, I suppose. It wasn't exactly that I ran faster, I just just rested significantly less than normal, and didn't take quite so much time to glance around for interesting sites to photograph.

Also adding to the desire to get done in as little time possible was the hope that the heat wouldn't flash up the rash I have been working on getting healed. Saturday's run put me in a world of pain, as if I were Smokey and I had just marked that frame an 8 against Walter's wishes. (Gratuitous Big Lebowski reference) Turns out heat isn't good for a healing rash. Fortunately, I was up early enough where heat wasn't too much of a problem, and I had been taking enough of the doctor prescribed medication that I was already well on the road to recovery. No major problems to report, and my skin was grateful.

The anger at ear buds came from the fact that YET AGAIN a pair of ear buds that I had recently purchased died on me in the middle of a run. Fortunately, as is becoming normal, they broke within the 90 day manufacturers warranty period, so I was able to return them to Best Buy for a full refund. I decided to purchase an even cheaper pair with the funds I got back and then purchase the two year replacement plan on them which cost me 5 bucks on a 14 dollar item. It might seem silly, but now I can go back into Best Buy at any time in the next 2 years and exchange a pair of ear buds for another with no questions asked. Oddly, the 14 dollar pair by JVC sound significantly better than the 20 dollar pair from Skull Candy and even a little better than the 30 dollar pair of Ironman ear buds which were my original plan for running ear buds. We'll see how long they last, but at least I have a long term plan, finally, as it appears it's not a matter of IF my running ear buds will go bad, but just a matter of WHEN.

As for today's picture, one of my favorite trails to run takes me through some very expensive homes along the Highline Canal. This horse stable is one of my favorite places along that trail because it looks both humble and fancy to me. Plus, I like the wooden hearts on the shutters. It looked particularly peaceful this Sunday morning, and taking a photo of it didn't require a lot of my time off the beaten path which, as I mentioned, was a bit of a priority for me on Sunday.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

One Hundred Twenty-Eight

July 19, 2014
7.30 Miles in 1:08:52
Mood: Itchy and Fally
Soundtrack: Of Monsters and Men "My Head is an Animal" / The Head and the Heart "Let's Be Still"

Ellie and Luke get back into town today, but not until this evening, so this morning was set up perfectly for a second straight week of the rarest of the rare...a Saturday morning run. For the past several days, I've been suffering from something that I can only equate to one of Moses's plagues upon Egypt. It manifests itself in a horrible rash that forced me into a dermatologists' office yesterday. They have me on creams and pills, which hopefully will take care of things, but in the mean time, a bit of exercise does NOT improve things, as I discovered on this run.

Despite being itchy, it was a pleasant run. I did a quick spin around Wash Park, and then decided to run through some of the neighborhoods surrounding the park. I passed by a few churches that looked really cool in the Saturday morning light. I'm not sure the reason, but I thought that Platt Park Church looked especially nice. It made me feel good just seeing it. I think it's how the light blue on their doors and sign contrasts with the brick. It's a good look.

At around the five mile mark, I did something I have never done on one of my runs before. I wiped out. I was running south on York, and clipped my shoe on an uneven sidewalk and didn't even come close to gathering myself and before I knew it I was on a collision course with the sidewalk. I was actually rather proud with how well I rolled into the fall. It didn't hurt all that badly, although my arm is a little sore now, but I'm sure I'll be fine. Mostly it was a combination of embarrassing and surprising. I couldn't believe it had happened. I sat on the sidewalk for about 15 seconds before getting up, looking around to see if anyone had witnessed my act of extreme grace, and thankful that it appeared I had succumbed to gravity in relative privacy, I quickly began running down the road again. The run must go on, after all.

One Hundred Twenty-Seven

July 17, 2014
8.01 Miles in 1:19:10
Mood: Solitary
Soundtrack: Judge John Hodgman

At this point, my kids had been out of town for over a week and my wife had been out of town for four days, and I was a little lonely. I was glad that I could get out for a run, because it gave me something to do, so I went for a long one. For the second run in a row, I saw the guy from post 67, and once again, it was in about the same quarter mile of trail that I have seen him all three times I have crossed his path. I waved hello to him again, and it was good to see him yet again.

I came across a few good things to take a picture of on this run, from some cool old trucks, to a little sporty car with a number 3 in a circle on it, to that same goofy statue from post 110. (By the way, that thing looks no less goofy in the afternoon than it does in the morning.) However, I decided to go with this photo because on this particular run, I do believe I was using running as my therapy. Going out certainly made me feel better, and it was good to get away from the empty house.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

One Hundred Twenty-Six

July 15, 2014
9.34 Miles in 1:29:48
Mood: Social
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / 99% Invisible / This American Life

It was a beautiful day. The kind of day where you pass two different homes that sell fresh eggs from their front door without even blinking. The rain was falling, but in a refreshing kind of way, not the kind of way that gets you soaked and makes you feel soggy and awful. The temps were perfectly in the low 70's and the clouds kept things cool and comfy.

I ran into the super friendly Kansas Jayhawks fan that I had run with for a few miles on the Highline Canal back at the end of March (as written about in Post 67). We didn't say much other than a friendly hello, but I'm certain we both remembered each other, and I was amazingly happy to see him. He's just a good dude.

My friend Chip drove by in his pickup truck and yelled something at me while flashing a peace sign at me. I waved back at him, even though I had no clue what he had yelled at me. A quick text conversation revealed to me that he was yelling, "Run Forrest!" I should probably be offended at the reference, but I know Chip means well and was just saying hello more than comparing me to a simpleton.

My wife called from Illinois as I was halfway through the run, and we had a really nice 10 minute chat while I was hanging out on the road. She is visiting her Mom, and I miss her, so it was good to catch up. While I was talking on her, I came across a home that had planted several American flags around a planter on the edge of their sidewalk. One of them had fallen down, so I picked it up and attempted to replant it, but it appears that the rain had weakened the stick that held up the flag, and it cracked when I tried to stick it back into the ground. I sheepishly slunk away, hoping that no one saw what I had done, or if they had seen, at least they realized that I meant no harm.

And of course, there was the lake at Ketring Park, which was just beautiful as you can see in the photo. All in all, a most successful and pleasant run.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

One Hundred Twenty-Five

July 13, 2014
4.55 Miles in 45:36
Mood: Draggy
Soundtrack: The Film Vault

I recently discovered this community garden somewhat near my home, but neatly tucked away so that it's not easily discovered. It's kind of a magical place, as it has plot filled with all manner of vegetables and other growing things, but it's all "protected" by this magical tiny house. I absolutely love it. It was easily the best thing about this run, because for the most part I was struggling on this one. I was slightly sleep deprived, and it was more than slightly hot, and after running nearly eight miles the day before, I didn't have much left in the reserve tank. That's why I cut this run shorter than usual, and headed home before I got too far. Even the miles you struggle through count towards my monthly totals, and exercise is good for you, even if it sometimes feels better than others. Although I was dragging, a bad day running is still better than a good day of sitting on one's butt.

One Hundred Twenty-Four

July 12, 2014
7.78 Miles in 1:11:14
Mood: Unhurried, Embracing my inner Boogaloo, and anticipating a doughnut
Soundtrack: The Dan Lebatard Show

Apparently, this truck is composed of pure, unadulterated Denver. I didn't know that Denver could be distilled down to it's purest form...much less that the shape that form would take would be a gaudy pickup truck, but who am I to fight science? This Denver is as pure as Walter White's meth, and I personally respect the science. I will say this for's got the color scheme right for "Pure Denver" so if it's not 100% pure Denver, at least it's on the right track.

It was a glorious and unusual Saturday morning run. I rarely ever get out for a run on a Saturday, but with the kids in California and my wife at work, I was able to go where ever I wanted with no particular schedule or agenda, so I headed North to Cheesman Park (Home of some of the purest Denver you can find) and then ran around the Cheesman/City Park area. It was a pleasant run that featured all manner of oddness.

First of all, I set what may be a Denver area record for shortest visit to the zoo. I had to pee, and I was right next to the zoo entrance. I have a zoo membership which allows me to go in whenever I like. I walked in, went to the bathroom, looked at two lions, and then left. I was probably in the zoo for less than four minutes total.

I then stumbled upon two interesting events. City Park had an event going down which involved booths that were protected by chain link fences that allowed me to see the vendors and their customers, but kept me from going in to see what was going on. Think of a Farmers Market combined with a minimum security prison and you have some idea of the way it felt. I learned later that this was the "Denver Black Arts Festival" which is named for the African-American artists showing their wares, but sounded more to me like the kind of thing that Harry Potter might fight against. Then came the parade which somehow against all odds had an even better name than the festival: I stumbled into the Boogaloo Parade, which was apparently a part of the Black Arts Festival. It featured muscle cars and marching bands, and it was pretty terrific. I was able to take it in as I ran in the opposite direction on the street effectively putting the parade on Fast Forward.

Perhaps the finest moment of the run was at the very end when I walked into VooDoo doughnuts and procurred a small box of doughnuts from what I believe to be the finest doughnut shop in all the land. I couldn't wait to eat them, so on my drive home, I polished off both the apple fritter and the bacon maple bar, which left me feeling a little doughnut-sick, but mostly happy. Twas a lovely run.

Friday, July 11, 2014

One Hundred Twenty-Three

July 10, 2014
8.16 Miles in 1:20:48
Mood: Amazed by Gravity
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / 99% Invisible

I've never before been convinced that I knew what the photo for a run would be so quickly. This story starts the night wife was at a public opinion research study and I was sitting in my home when suddenly I heard a giant cracking sound. Although I've been hearing fireworks a lot lately for obvious reasons, this sounded like a different loud bang...more like a gunshot, but clearly not a gunshot. I had no clue what it was, so I went about my evening. The next day when I began my drive to work, I noticed that the tree across the street had cracked and fallen, it was partly into the street. I eventually put together that the loud cracking noise was probably the sound that this tree made when it cracked apart, partially uprooted itself and then landed with a thud on the lawn.

As I left for this run, I quickly saw the tree just lying on the ground, almost 24 hours later at this point, and I knew that I needed to take a picture of it, because hey...giant tree falling down in a suburban neighborhood. So I found my photo for this run exactly .03 miles into the run. New record...seems like it may never be broken.

I was just thankful that no one was UNDER the tree when this happened, as I've got a sneaking suspicion that tree is easily big enough to crush a person, and that would have been a gruesome thing to behold and just an awful way to go.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

One Hundred Twenty-Two

July 8, 2014
7.80 Miles in 1:16:22
Mood: "'Merica!"
Soundtrack: LCS Hockey Show / Jordan, Jesse, Go! / The Film Vault

Only four days post Independence Day, I came across this house, and more importantly this sign. I could tell that they had decorated for the Fourth, because hanging by their front door was a big flag that had Tweety Bird wearing an Uncle Sam hat. The only other thing that signified that we were celebrating our nation's freedom was this Democrat donkey banner in their bush.  This led me to believe one of two possibilities existed. The first was that this is someone who is REALLY into being a Democrat. The type of person that wants to celebrate our nation, but only the left leaning portions of our nation. The other possibility is that this is an extremely dumb/ignorant person who was unaware that this banner signifies a political party and just thought it looked extra "Americany". I'm guessing it's the former, but just for my own fun and amusement, I truly hope it's the latter.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

One Hundred Twenty-One

July 6, 2014
7.28 Miles in 1:06:59
Soundtrack: Conversation with my brother-in-law Marat
Mood: Fraternal

A difficult thing about living in a small town for me would be that I would quickly run out of new places to run. I didn't completely exhaust Sterling's possibilities with this single run, but I did come close. I went running with Marat and we ran by the cemetery, we ran around the lake, we ran around the other lake, we ran past horses, we ran through downtown...and...There isn't much more of Sterling to explore.

It was a hot morning, but not too awful. Running with someone else is always a bit of an adjustment for me, as I'm used to solo treks, but Marat ran right at my pace. And it was a very consistent pace, as we finished the first three miles in exactly 9 minutes and 11 seconds each. It was to the point Marat was questioning my phone's accuracy, as he couldn't believe we'd be THAT consistent. Only after we recorded a few miles at a different pace did he believe that maybe it was correct.

In between talking about exercise, the Dallas Cowboys training regimen, and the unrest in Ukraine, we covered just over seven miles and had a nice bonding time early in the morning. I decided to use this photo of these horses we passed by, as they amused me when I went to take a picture of them. As soon as I stopped and approached their fence...they came trotting up to me quickly and in a very friendly way, if strange horses can be qualified as friendly. I think that there is a good chance that usually when people stop near them, they are given treats, as they looked pretty expectantly at me. I had nothing to offer them but a wadded up pair of ear buds, which they probably wouldn't be terribly pleased with.

Marat noted that the horses had a tiny fence that they could easily jump. He wondered why they stayed put. I figured that they were probably well treated, so the idea of running away from a good situation probably never occurred to them. Therefore the need for high retaining fences was not there, as they never really considered going anywhere else. Made me think of marriage. Some people think of being married as if they are in prison. The walls need to be high enough so that your spouse can't escape. However, if you're happy in your marriage, you don't really need a wall and you don't consider yourself trapped because you're already standing exactly where you want to be and you're happy you're there. Many situations in life vary greatly depending on the attitude with which you look upon them. Or as Shakespeare more eloquently put it in Hamlet, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

And now that this running recap has quoted Shakespeare, my work here is done. Here is your map from the friendly (albeit small) town of Sterling, KS.

Monday, July 7, 2014

One Hundred Twenty

July 4, 2014
3.05 Miles in 29:04
Soundtrack: Mediocre Show
Mood: Relaxed and Hot

After the Freedom Run, I took about forty-five minutes to an hour to hang out at Sterling Lake, chat with Jeff, and stay for the awards ceremony in which I finished just out of the medals for my age group. It was relaxing, but I still needed to get a bit more running in. Although I had pushed it during the 5K, I still had only run three miles, and I wanted to get in a few more miles before the Kansas heat really set in.

There was a shuttle heading back up to the race's starting line where a small army of runners had parked their cars, but I decided rather than just ride back to the vehicle, I'd run back. After resting, drinking some water and having a banana or two, I was ready for round 2. The weather had gotten much hotter in just that short time, and although I was sweating profusely, the low altitude meant there was more air to breathe than I knew what to do with. I was able to run with no difficulty whatsoever, I would even say I was relaxed. My trip back was much slower, but it was also quite enjoyable.

The Freedom Run had two separate distances, a 5K, which I took part in, and also a 15K, which was still going on as I was headed back to the car. As I was running North, still with my racing bib on, I passed several runners who gave me an odd look as I was running in the opposite direction of literally ALL of the races that day. The greatest moment for me was when a boy scout that was manning the water station who was probably 9 years old saw me running in the opposite direction that he was expecting, took an odd glance at the unexpected direction, but than ran right over to me to and dutifully asked if I would like some water. Dude was mentally "always prepared" which was pretty cute.

The picture from this run is an awesome house in Sterling. I especially like the little tower looking structure on the side of the house, and the fact that they had decorated with bunting for Independence Day. Pretty cool little building for a tiny Kansas town.

One Hundred Nineteen

July 4, 2014
2.99 Miles in 23:19
Soundtrack: Lupe Fiasco "Lasers"
Mood: Fast and Fun

This was only my second ever competitive running event. This one was put on by the city of Sterling, KS, and with a mere 227 runners it was slightly smaller than the fifty-thousand runners plus of my first organized run at the Bolder Boulder. It was slightly less organized, as well, as although it was billed as a 5K, we ran almost exactly three miles which is a tenth of a mile shy of five kilometers. That makes my official time of 23:04 look more impressive than it actually was, but I still finished in 28th place overall and I had a really that is all that counts. I was the first non-Kansan to finish, which I guess is cool. It was an awesome run and so much fun with all the enthusiasm of all the entrants surrounding you and spurring you on.

I averaged sub-eight minute miles which is way faster than I usually ever run. I had no idea I was pushing such a quick pace until I got some feedback from my Endomondo app a mile into the race, at which time I learned that I had just put in a 7:37 mile. Although I thought that was pretty cool, I was also worried that I was going to fade in the last two miles, as this was a blistering pace by my standards. I decided that I'd just keep pushing it and hope that a combination of low altitude and a short three mile total distance would be enough to help me sustain. Although I was fairly well wiped out by the time I reached the end, I was able to keep going at that rate all the way to the finish, which was amazing. I even finished a little ahead of my brother in law Jeff who finished 32nd overall. Beating Jeff is something I didn't believe was remotely possible, and I must admit is something I feel pretty good about. Although to be fair to him, he hasn't been training much at all for this and still I only beat him by about 20 seconds.

The funniest thing about the run to me was that I kept passing and then getting passed by a little kid. He was probably twelve or thirteen, and I could tell he didn't want an old man beating him, but I could also tell he was getting tired. I kept a steady pace, and every time I'd pass him, he'd tap into his fountain of young reserves and sprint ahead of me. Finally with about half a mile to go, I though I had passed him for good, but in the final tenth of a mile he once again pounded into a sprint to jump just ahead of me. It was abundantly clear to me that he was wiped out as he crossed the finish line and collapsed in a flump, but the dude beat me. So good for him!

It wasn't the most scenic or twisty run, as we started in a cornfield about two miles outside of town and ran almost a straight line down the highway until we finally made a single turn towards Sterling Lake at the very end of the run, but although the route wasn't highly interesting, it was gloriously cool at 7AM, and it was even lined with a few people cheering for us...including a cheering section for Jeff and I, as my nephew Jace (Jeff's son) and my brother in law Marat showed up on the main drag to cheer us on as we ran past.

All in all, it was a fun run. Less professional than the Bolder Boulder, but fun with a small-town charm that made it really memorable. I was glad to have a chance to take part. And of course, most importantly, I demolished the time of the guy wearing the Seattle Seahawks t-shirt. It doesn't make up for the Super Bowl, but it does ease the sting just a tiny smidge.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One Hundred Eighteen

June 01, 2014
6.96 Miles in 1:06:29
Mood: Creeped out
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go!

Usually my running outings are their own reward, but the miles traversed rarely serve any actual purpose other than entertainment and exercise. Every so often, though, a run comes in useful for a reason other than just staying in shape and having a nice time. This run was one of those types...the family van had to go in for servicing in front of a trip to Kansas, and we needed to drop it off Tuesday night. Usually this involves two vehicles going one way, and then one on the return trip. It was getting late, and I realized that rather than having to drag my wife with me late in the evening, I could just go there myself and run home.

The Brakes Plus where I was heading is about five miles away, but I ended up making a wrong turn on my run and managed to take myself further away from home instead of closer. This didn't annoy me in the least, though, as it meant I'd get in a longer run than just a measly five miles. This was my last training run in front of my "big race" in Kansas. I'm running in a 5K race on Independence Day in Sterling, KS. I look forward to the competition, even if running only 3.1 miles seems awfully short. It should be fun.

This run was slightly creepy, as I ended up running on a dark trail and heard some major rustling on the side of the road on more than one occasion. Almost certainly this was a rabbit, as I can't run anywhere without seeing 10 or 20 rabbits each time out, but even though I was pretty sure it was just a bunny, my mind kept imagining that I was being trailed by a bear or a coyote or something else with large teeth and predator instincts. Only running by the combination of the ambient light of the city and the moonlight is usually a pleasurable experience, but on this run for whatever reason, it felt slightly spooky. Even when I returned to a well lit street, I was unnerved by a silly teenager who started yelling over-the-top encouragement to me as if I were Forrest Gump. I think he was trying to be funny, but it was so intensely shouted that I didn't care for it. It was a strange late night run.

I reached home just a few minutes ahead of 11:00, which I have to say is far too late to be out running, but I felt very good albeit slightly stinky when I got home. Jumped into the shower quickly and headed directly to bed, I think I was asleep within two minutes of hopping under the sheets. It was a glorious finish to the day.