Monday, September 29, 2014

One Hundred Sixty-Four

September 27, 2014
6.55 Miles in 1:02:52
Soundtrack: The Film Vault

This was the third straight day went running, and oddly, my legs felt stronger than either of the previous two runs. It was a gloriously bright and sunny Saturday morning, and I wish that it would remain September forever, as it is easily the best month of the year. I drove a bit north to experience a new chunk of the Highline Canal Trail. I ended up only getting about 2 new miles of the trail covered, but saw a bunch of new areas that while I have driven many times, I had never really experienced as a runner before. I also came quite close to my grandparents house from when I was a kid and they were still alive. It would have been another mile or so out of my way, but that would have extended my run to nearly a 9 miler, and I was not in the mood to go quite that far on my third straight day, so perhaps another time.

Today's picture comes from a church on Monaco Parkway. I know artists often depict Jesus as a white guy, but with this sculpture...he literally is white. That fact perhaps amuses only me, but I was very amused. I also find it interesting that we immediately associate a statue of a person that looks like this with Jesus because it's in front of a church even though we have no clue what Jesus actually looked like, so I'm not sure what we're doing there. Still, I have no doubts that this statue is supposed to be Jesus.

My desire to run overcame a few obstacles for this outing. 1. I was a bit tired, but the idea that I could rest until Wednesday if I finished up my 100 miles for Saturday got me out there and 2. Our hot water heater went out that morning, so I knew that if I went running, I wouldn't be able to shower immediately despite the fact that I would REALLY need to do so. I sat around in my own stink for a few hours, but when the guy installing our new hot water heater was a few hours late, eventually I could take my stench no longer and called upon my best friend who lives just up the street to see if I could use his shower. Graciously, he allowed me access to his bathroom, and I eventually was able to get clean. Still, my overwhelming desire to hit the trail cannot be quenched by fatigue or the knowledge that I'll need to sit in my own stink that says something. (Not sure what it says, exactly. But definitely something.)

One Hundred Sixty-Three

September 26, 2014
3.85 Miles in 38:15
Mood: Grinding out a short one
Soundtrack: The Film Vault

I turned the corner, and there were flashing lights and traffic jams galore. My curiousity got the best of me, and I had to see the wreck. Thankfully, it appeared that everyone was walking around a bit in shock, but no ambulances or stretchers, so although this car appears pretty well smushed, it doesn't appear that anyone was badly hurt. Encountering a car wreck scene on foot is a rather weird experience, perhaps taking photos of it is even weirder, but it was by far the most memorable part of this run. I'm just glad that it wasn't a gruesome wreck...I wouldn't have posted pictures of bloody pavement, in case you were wondering. The saddest part of this experience was seeing the woman who's car is pictured above get into the smashed up trunk to pull her personal items from the wreckage. My heart went out to her, because that has to put a real damper on a Friday night. Such a bummer.

This run was one I took just to get in some extra miles so that I could do a normal run the next day and reach 100 miles for September. So long as I hit that goal on Saturday, I could take a few days off and rest my legs which could really use a few days off. I was pretty tired for this one, but I pushed through and felt pretty good by the end. This definitely one I had to psych myself up to accomplish, as I wasn't dying to go running, but my 100 miles a month goal demanded that I put in a few miles if I wanted to have an end of month break.

Friday, September 26, 2014

One Hundred Sixty-Two

September 25, 2014
7.28 Miles in 1:12:26
Mood: Errandy
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / 99% Invisible

There is something glorious about going running to pick up shortening from the grocery store. Shortening, as best as I can tell, is gooey sticky animal fat thrown into a jar that makes cookies taste good. Let the record show that I fully acknowledge that I may have a limited understanding of the nature of shortening. Still, my wife needed to make cookies and our cupboards were bare in the shortening department, so my Tuesday night run was imbued with an extra sense of purpose. I'd like to note at this point that jogging with a grocery sack full of a large tub of shortening is not the ideal way to get a run in, but it can be accomplished if one is so inclined.

After the to and fro to the grocery store and back home was completed, I was two miles in and needing to get in some more pavement pounding, so I started weaving my way through the local streets and shopping areas. I don't know that I had ever noticed this fireplace in use before, or if I have, I had forgotten it. The night was not overly cold, so I found it odd that the fire was raging, but I went to go check it out. This thing puts out a good amount of heat in addition to exhorting me to climb mountains. I'm not sure if the "poetry" on the chimney was intended to be inspiring, but I was glad to know that the mountains had good tidings of great joy for me. I need to get up there soon, apparently. I could use a bit of nature's peace. Perhaps I'm being overly cynical of the outdoor shopping mall's directions for my life. I need to investigate this further perhaps? Okay, now I'm just rambling, so I'm going to go for now. Until next time...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

One Hundred Sixty-One

September 23, 2014
7.01 Miles in 1:07:42
Mood: Tired
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / The Gist / Lupe Fiasco "Food and Liquor II"

Back in Colorado, and I was gassed. Travelling can take it out of you, and it didn't help that I didn't get started on this run until after 9 at night. I considered skipping this run, but we are running out of September and I've still yet to hit 100 miles for the month in my 12x100 challenge, so I decided to slug this one out even though I was clearly not at full strength. I was a little slow, but once I got started, I found a decent amount of energy to push through to the end. When I was finished, I was FINISHED. I quickly showered because I was gross and then collapsed into bed where I slept as hard as Charlie Sheen tends to party. When my alarm clock went off in the morning, I was angry at it, because I was deep in a glorious sleep and could have used another 3 hours.

As for today's photo, meet Sandy the Mountain Lion, the mascot of my kids school. I love the fact that a 5th grade class is referred to as "The Class of 1999" on this gift to the school, and love it even more that their class gift was a cartoon mountain lion. (And possibly the sign upon which he sits, although I prefer to think that the class gift was merely the mountain lion.)  This is clearly the most cartoony photo I have ever posted on this blog, and although it may seem a little silly, I am genuinely fond of this school and their silly mountain lion as they have thus far done a very good job educating my children. That is something worth the mountain lion shows up very well in a nighttime photo, so this post was a win-win for an exhausted me last night, as I got this pic four minutes into my run and didn't think about taking another photo for the remainder of my run.

Monday, September 22, 2014

One Hundred Sixty

September 21, 2014
7.50 Miles in 1:12:27
Mood: Peaceful and Excited
Soundtrack: U2 "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" / The Head and the Heart "The Head and the Heart"

I was on vacation in Washington to see the Broncos play the Seahawks with my cousin and her boyfriend. We had a busy and tiring Saturday, but I needed some alone time, so I woke up early while everyone else was sleeping and hit the road to get in some running. I had a vague idea of where there was a park nearby, but didn't really know what I'd find. We were in Federal Way, a Seattle suburb, and I was hoping I'd find something decent. What I found was a lovely paved path which was only blemished by the large amount of powerlines everywhere.

I left the hotel at about 5:45 AM, and it was still very dark. Thankfully there were a lot of city lights for the first mile or so which made it pretty easy to find my way. However, once I hit the trail in the park it was pretty dark. At one point, I saw two figures approaching me, and I briefly thought they were two large wolves, which sort of freaked me out for half a second until I realized it was just two joggers using the same trail in the opposite direction. Like I said, it was very dark.

There were big trees everywhere, which is the norm for Washington, but a little unusual for what I'm used to. I could definitely tell I was in another part of the country, as things felt just a little unusual. However, this was a pleasant type of different. It was quite chilly and there was fog everywhere, but it made for a somewhat surreal scene and the coolness just made it more comfortable to run.

I was a little disappointed that I couldn't run on the Seattle waterfront, the Seattle City Center or through the Seattle downtown area, as all of these places looked like they would be amazing places to run, but Federal Way was pretty nice, and towards the end of the run when the sun was finally up high enough to really be able to see well, I turned a corner and was greeted by Mount Rainier (as pictured) and that was a truly spectacular moment. The music I chose to listen to really put me in a peaceful mood, and getting some alone time on the trip was pretty nice, even though Tawni and Brent were wonderful people to vacation with and I had a great time the whole time I was in Washington. (Even the football game was fun, although my Broncos fell just short in Overtime.)

Running while on vacation and seeing new places and things that you would never see if you weren't a runner is one of my favorite parts of travelling. Huge thanks to my Cousin Tawni for making this trip possible for me. It was cool to be included on this adventure in Seattle!

Friday, September 19, 2014

One Hundred Fifty-Nine

September 19, 2014
8.14 Miles in 1:16:21
Mood: Excited
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / U2 "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb"

The best way to start a vacation is with a morning run! Rather than sitting in my cubicle plugging away at appraisal orders, I was investigating a new stretch of the Highline Canal that I have never before experienced. It was a glorious morning, as the only thing better than a nice weekend run is a nice run on a work day which you have excused yourself from. Knowing that other people are hard at work while you are enjoying yourself makes a day off even sweeter, I think.

Later today, I'll be hopping on an airplane and heading up to Seattle, Washington to spend the weekend there with my cousin and her boyfriend and the three of us will be cheering on the Broncos in enemy territory. I'm more than a little nervous about a matchup with the Seahawks, as I still have post traumatic stress disorder from the last weekend trip I made to see these two teams play in New Jersey. A game that the less is said about, the better. Ugh. Still, Seattle is one of my favorite cities, and the fact that I get to hang out there all weekend and play and then see my Broncos on the road is something that has me quite pumped.

As for the picture from today's run...I saw this sculpture made out of a dead tree right as I parked my car, and before I even took the first step on my run, I knew I had my picture for the day. This was in the middle of someone's front yard, and if it hadn't been so nicely done, might have looked like an eyesore, but in fact, I thought it actually looked pretty cool. Maybe not as nice as having a living tree in your yard, but it's still a nice piece. Better than just having a stump out front.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

One Hundred Fifty-Eight

September 16, 2014
7.02 Miles in 1:06:46
Mood: Sweaty
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / The Gist

Fall is coming, but this day belonged to summer. With temps in the mid-eighties, I ventured forth for an afternoon run. The Colorado sun did it's best to wear me out and by the time I was finished I was a sweaty stinky mess. The heat also caused my blood sugar to dip yet again, and I found solace in a McDonalds Fruit and Yogurt of the best ways possible to spend one dollar and seven cents, if you ask me. Delicious.

As for today's picture...I don't buy for a second that this guy is growing "Upland Prairie" in his front yard. He just doesn't like to mow, so he let his lawn go, and rather than taking the time to take care of it, he found a sign that looks scientific and stuck it in his yard to keep the homeowners association for his neighborhood off his back. It's actually a genius move by a lazy man. It makes him look like he's either a conservationist or doing some sort of nature study when really he hates pushing a mower. Sure, his lawn is an eyesore, but what does he care? He's happy and non-sweaty in his house. Brilliant.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One Hundred Fifty-Seven

September 14, 2014
7.12 Miles in 1:05:30
Mood: Bonorific
Soundtrack: U2 "Songs of Innocence"

I have to admit that I'm obsessed with the first track of the new U2 album. I like the whole album, but I LOVE "The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)". As I ran (and for a good stretch walked), I listened through the album twice and played that first song maybe 5 times. U2 haters can hate all they want, and I heard of plenty of people complaining about getting free music this week, but if you take the time to actually listen to the album that Apple gave away for NOTHING, it's pretty dang good. Worth a listen at that price, for sure. (And I fully admit to being a bit of a U2 wonk, so in the name of full disclosure...I really like U2.)

Songs of Innocence was a lovely soundtrack for this trek around some my favorite neighborhoods in Denver. And, as promised, I have finally provided a photo of the stately Weckbaugh mansion. I have come to realize that taking a picture of this place doesn't quite provide scale for how stately a place this is, but it's pretty big and astoundingly cool looking in person. I've run past it now four times, and every time I stop to take a picture because I love it. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite buildings in Denver. I'd love to get a tour, but it's privately owned, and I'm guessing the owners wouldn't be too keen on me just barging in.

I mentioned that I had to walk for a long stretch on this run, and that was due to getting a low blood sugar. There is something just debilitating about that particular problem with having saps all your energy and makes it difficult to maintain any kind of pace when out running. I stopped into a Safeway for a tea and a banana, and it took a little while for that sugar to kick in, but the morning was beautiful and I had already run over six miles, so I took it easy for a good stretch and finished the last mile after a good break.

Friday, September 12, 2014

One Hundred Fifty-Six

September 12, 2014
7.02 Miles in 1:08:10
Mood: Peaceful and Unnerving
Soundtrack: The Because Show / The Gist / U2 "Songs of Innocence"

This rather large Peace mural is on the side of a church on Orchard Road. It's maybe lacking in subtlety, and few would confuse it for fine art, but there is something that I like about it. I don't know that it makes me feel peaceful, but it makes me happy that people value peace enough to place a huge sign on the outside of their building and light it up brightly at night. I especially like that it was so well lit, because as I've mentioned before...when I go out for a run at night, it's hard to find a good subject for a photo.

Ironically, as I was admiring the Peace sign, my ears were bombarded with what sounded like far away mortar fire. Either that, or perhaps fireworks. Either way, it was a little weird seeing as how it's September, and I can't for the life of me figure out why things would be exploding. It felt far enough away to not be overly loud, but it was menacing enough that I paused the podcast I was listening to and craned my neck to listen to the sounds and see if I could feel the vibrations. I didn't see anything lighting up, and it doesn't appear that World War III has broken out, so I'm not sure what was going on, but it was a little odd for so much noise to be happening at 9:45 at night.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

One Hundred Fifty-Five

September 10, 2014
7.21 Miles in 1:10:44
Mood: Limpy and Concerned
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go!

I can't tell if I was cramping up, or if I hurt my calf muscle. Even a day later, I'm still trying to figure it out. All I know is that my calf hurts in the way that usually happens when you're fighting off cramping. This has me worried because it is the first significant challenge to my 2014 quest of at least 100 miles in every month. I'm doing well for this point in September, I'm at 38.9 miles already, but That final 61.1 is going to require two working legs. I'm cautiously optimistic, but will continue to monitor the situation.

Here's what we do know from his run. My calf started to hurt about five miles in, but wasn't significant enough of a pain to immediately cease and desist the outing. I was feeling happy despite the fact that my running pace was rather slow. (And about to get slower with the cramping/pain issues) Plus, it was a gorgeous day, as can be seen in the photo above. This photo was taken in the midst of a lovely affluent suburban neighborhood, which is crazy, because this scene looks about as rural as it gets...NOPE. I'm right in the middle of the city. It's a pretty scene in a calm and serene place, and it's hard not to feel at least a little at peace when this is what you're looking at.

Monday, September 8, 2014

One Hundred Fifty-Four

September 7, 2014
8.22 Miles in 1:15:05
Mood: Safe thanks to a legion of Batmen and Batwomen
Soundtrack: Blind Pilot "We are the Tide" / LCS Hockey Show

When you see an entire family dressed up as Batman with no explanation whatsoever at 8:00 on a Sunday morning in Wash Park, what do you do? Well, if you're me, you run up to them and ask if you can take their picture...because's a whole family dressed as Batman. Turns out they were getting ready to run in some event that had a super hero theme. They seemed a little amused by my enthusiasm to photograph them, and a little disappointed that although I was running, I wasn't going to be running in their run. I was mostly happy that I saw an entire family dressed as Batman. (Technically, it looks like the mom is wearing a Superman cape, but she has a Batman mask on, so I'm going to say she's a Batwoman because the Caped Crusader is much cooler than Supe.)

I was up a little earlier than normal because I wanted to get in a good run before the first real day of football began. This was a good move, as I enjoyed some great football with the satisfaction of knowing I had done some solid exercise. Plus, it got me home in time to take a call from my cousin who had an extra ticket to the Broncos home opener on Sunday Night Football, which I gladly accepted. All in all, a successful day of which my Batman friends would surely approve. (I'm assuming they are football fans.)

One Hundred Fifty-Three

September 5, 2014
9.39 Miles in 1:32:49
Soundtrack: The After Disaster / The Marty Riemer Show
Mood: Curious about big time golf, but only a little

My usual attitude about golf is that it is a tremendous waste of what would be a wonderful park. Mark Twain is attributed the quote that the sport is "A good walk spoiled." (Even though, it appears that Twain didn't actually say it.) I don't really like golf. In fact, the sport bothers me. I feel irrationally angry about golf. Perhaps it's because I'm just really really bad at it, but I wish the whole sport would just go away.

Then, this weekend, the PGA Tour hosted the BMW Championship Golf Tournament about four miles from my house. It was late on Friday night, and I wanted to check out what a big time golf tourney would look like. (Or more specifically, what the gates outside a golf tourney would look like at 10:00 at night with nothing else around.)

I headed due north for four an a half miles and came across a phalanx of satellite dishes and Golf Channel trucks in a parking lot just inside Cherry Hills golf course. I walked up a flight of stairs which led to the "volunteer entrance". There was far less security than I was expecting, although a few people gave me a funny look from about 400 feet away. I didn't walk too far in. I just looked at the trucks and quickly retreated back to the street. I ran a little further North and passed some BMW flags and a bunch of signs and traffic posts directing people where to park. There were parking lots with shuttle buses all over the city, as the parking is very limited in the fancy neighborhood where the golf course is located.

Mostly, the whole scene looked like way more fuss over golf than should ever be paid to golf, but it also felt like a pretty big event...which I guess it sort of was, even if I refuse to acknowledge golf as a legit thing. I was glad to have walked through it at the height of it's glory, and even got a somewhat blurry picture of the traffic sign alerting people to what was going on in the roads ahead of them.

All in all, it was a rather dull looking trek north and then south if you just look at the map, but it was an interesting run with curious things to investigate and I went further North from my home than I ever have before on foot. I felt great the entire time, and it was a glorious long run with some super cool weather. It was a little ridiculous that I was out until 11:00 at night, but I regret nothing.

Golf is still stupid.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

One Hundred Fifty-Two

September 3, 2014
6.11 Miles in 1:01:57
Mood: Sluggish
Soundtrack: The Marty Riemer Show / The Gist / 99% Invisible

Welcome to Dairy Queen, my home away from home on September 3rd. This was my wife Jennifer's birthday, so the first visit happened in the afternoon, as I was on my way to pick up her ice cream cake...a birthday favorite of my girl.

A few things happened on that trip which led to unintentional disaster: 1. I mentioned to my son Luke that he could get something special since he would not be able to eat the ice cream cake (Due to the cake containing gluten, and Luke having Celiac's) 2. The Dairy Queen credit card machine was broken, causing them to have to use an imprinter for any credit card purchase...a staple of 1980's credit card transactions, and understandably annoying to the kids working at Dairy Queen who weren't even born the last time that running credit in this manner was the norm. 3. We picked out an ice cream cake, and I promptly forgot to ask Luke what special thing he'd want. 4. We checked out with the laborsome imprinting procedure since I had no cash 5. Luke immediately realized that he didn't get something special. 6. I understood that he wanted something (turns out he wanted an Orange Julius), but I wasn't going to have DQ run the card through that arduous process again and an Orange Julius wasn't going to survive to the post dinner time frame that I wanted Luke to wait for to eat his desert. 7. Luke, feeling a bit betrayed, kind of lost his mind a bit and started crying uncontrollably.

While I totally understood his angst, I kept trying to tell him that I think we can come back tonight, we're just not going to get anything RIGHT NOW. Problem was, it's very difficult to reason with an emotional six year old who feels (justifiably) that he's just been screwed out of ice cream.

Dude didn't really calm down until we got home, at which point we ate dinner, sang Happy Birthday to Jen, and then ate ice cream cake while Luke watched. I did the dishes and then took Luke to Dairy Queen (after hitting up the ATM) for his long awaited and deserved Orange Julius.

When I went running a few minutes after returning from our second trip, a third trip to take a picture of the DQ sign felt appropriate, which is why this particular awning is the picture for this run. Dairy Queen also held some significance for this run, as with a belly full of ice cream cake, I was running very if ice cream cake is not a good form of running fuel! Who knew? By the time I made it home, I had only gone six miles and I was dead tired and felt like I had been lugging a ball and chain with me on my run. So...handy tip: Don't eat a giant piece of ice cream cake immediately before going on a run.

One Hundred Fifty-One

September 1, 2014
8.00 Miles in 1:15:58
Mood: Celebrating Labor by taking the day off
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / The Gist

While I'm not sure that the University of Denver loves having a depiction of their mascot with an enormous mug of beer, I think it's fantastic. I finally realized how I could get up the stairs at The Pioneer even before the outdoor rooftop bar opened up. I'm sure it was probably a little weird to have a sweaty guy taking a picture of the big DU Pioneer at 8 in the morning, but I'm used to being a little weird, and besides, I'm not sure that anyone saw me up there. It's a rather picturesque view of the campus and University Boulevard, and I'm sure it's a nice place to grab a pint with friends.

It was a holiday Monday morning, and the streets were rather deserted, but it was just about a perfect day to get in a run, and I felt fantastic. This was an easy eight miles that not only included my first view of the front side of the DU Pioneer mascot statue, but also my second view of the Weckbaugh Mansion up on 1701 E Cedar Ave. I am really coming to love that massive old home, and at some point I'll get a picture of it up on the blog...but let's face it...nothing was trumping the Pioneer for today's picture.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Hundred Fifty

August 31, 2014
4.43 Miles in 0:39:16
Mood: Pushing it
Soundtrack: "Running" Playlist on my phone

This was the third ever "organized" race that I've ever run. I put organized in parenthesis, as the Broncos 7K was fun, but a little loosey goosey on some of the details. The biggest issue was that a little bit after I crossed the finish line, the final straightaway inside Sports Authority Field at Mile High became so congested that people were log jammed at the finish and couldn't run to the end, hurting their times as they stood waiting for the area to clear.

Fortunately, I began the race very near the starting line and was able to finish before the bottleneck hit. Actually, my only complaint about the race was that I pushed a little too hard at the start and by the end I was pretty gassed. I had to actually walk a few times to catch my breath even though this was only a little over a 4 mile run. That has nothing to do with race organizers and everything to do with me being overly competitive at the start of the race and pacing myself poorly. I ended up finishing in 38:38 officially. I finished in 711th place out of 6328 participants and was 171st out of 708 in my division (which I think was men in their 30's). I was also the 526th male to finish out of 2689 men. I'm fine with those results, even though I the race kind of kicked my butt.

I showed up WAAAAAAY too early for the race. I got there at about 7:50 for a race that didn't start until 9. This allowed me to start near the very beginning, which turned out to be a very good thing, but it also meant that the large amount of water that I had drank while still at home had time to work it's way through my system. I had to pee really badly when the race began. By the two mile mark, I was physically hurting more from a full bladder than from the fast pace I had set myself upon. We were just entering Sloan's Lake park, and I saw a man leaned up against a tree in a manner that only could have suggested that he has succumbed to a similar suffering and decided to do something about the discomfort. I took courage from seeing him and took a similar stance against a large tree and shamelessly felt the comfort pour out of me. My time probably would have been a minute faster had I taken a potty break prior to the race...Rookie mistake. Still, I felt a LOT better finishing up the race, and felt a lot less like I was about to explode.

Afterwards, I met up with some friends from church and spent some time hanging out at the Bronco themed party in the bowels of the stadium. I got to meet Karl Mecklenburg and Steve Watson, a few of my favorite Broncos from when I was a kid, and also got to meet current Broncos Virgil Green and Steven Johnson and randomly Ebenezer Ekuban, a Bronco alum from just a few years ago. It was a fun after event which allowed me to get a picture with some Broncos cheerleaders and hang out with friends, and it really was a nice finish to a fun day. Plus, I now have a Broncos 7K finishers medal, which isn't worth anything, but is still pretty cool to hang in my cubicle. All in all, it was a tremendously fun experience. It wasn't perfectly organized, but I'd definitely think about doing it again. Plus it got me even more excited for Broncos season, something I wouldn't have thought possible.