Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One Hundred Seventy-Nine

October 28, 2014
8.49 Miles in 1:20:06
Mood: Strong like bull and enjoying the final days of Halloween whimsy.
Soundtrack: The BS Report / The Walking Deadcast / 99% Invisible

I have pretty much given up on predicting how my body will react on a run. Some days I have plenty of rest and have been eating well and I feel like I'm dragging, other times I have had trouble sleeping the night before, eat a brownie an hour before running, and I feel strong like bull. This particular outing I felt amazing, this despite not taking the greatest care of myself in the previous 24 hours. (Halloween candy is everywhere, man.) Perhaps eating Twix is the secret to a great run?

Sorry for the preponderance of Halloween decoration pictures the past few weeks, but I keep coming across decorations that surprise and delight me. While I'm not a big fan of scary looking decor that can be found in a lot of places these days, these oddly shaped skeletons and grouchy looking ghosts that I keep posting tickle a certain whimsical bone in me that I can't help but sharing on the blog. We're nearly to the end of this season, so the opportunities to collect these pics will soon be gone, and I'm making hay while the spooky sun shines.

One last thing about my route...the map kind of looks like a handgun. Don't think that it means anything significant, but it's something I noticed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One Hundred Seventy-Eight

October 26, 2014
7.81 Miles in 1:12:47
Mood: Amused by daylight hauntings
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / TV on the Radio "Nine Types of Light"

Twas a gorgeous morning in Wash Park. Halloween decorations seem so out of place on a Sunday morning, and they are everywhere these days. I was passing witches, ghouls and ghosts every third house. This one in the picture was my favorite because it's really big, it's on a home that faces the park...which means that it's a VERY expensive house, and it just looks to me like an old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn. Ironic, as I was on his lawn to take the picture. Seriously, though...can't you just picture this ghost angrily yelling and then muttering to himself? It was pretty much all I could think of as I looked at him...very amusing to me.
The day was truly perfect, the thermometer hit 80 a little later on this day, and it made for a glorious crisp fall morning with plenty of sunshine. We're almost to November and it still usually feels like summer around these parts. The cold is coming, for sure, but I'll take this Indian Summer for as long as it lasts.

Friday, October 24, 2014

One Hundred Seventy-Seven

October 23, 2014
8.94 Miles in 1:25:12
Mood: Curiouser and Curiouser
Soundtrack: The After Disaster / The Because Show

Global Warming is a bad thing, but on a beautiful 80 degree day in late October I found myself enjoying a silver lining to the cause of the end of Polar Bears. It was just about a perfect day, and I felt pretty good, so I decided to really strike out in a new direction. I ended up going on a pretty long run just because I kept moving further away from my home rather than doing the sensible thing and turning back for home after a reasonable distance. As a result, I went nearly 9 miles...much longer than I've been going recently, and I got home only half an hour ahead of the kickoff of the Broncos-Chargers kickoff. I regret nothing.

It was a banner day for seeing weird stuff. I saw a three wheeled car, and as I went to take a picture of it, the driver of said weird vehicle rolled down his window and yelled, "Go Broncos!" at me. (I was wearing a Broncos running shirt and a Broncos hat, so it's not as random as you might think.) I saw an inflatable dachshund on someone's lawn with a banner on it that read, "Happy Hallowiener!" I saw miles and miles of beautiful trees in various shades of red, green, orange and yellow. I ran through a rich neighborhood and saw a pink Hummer parked in a large garage. And of course, I saw this head shop on Broadway. It is named "Headed West" and it has this amazing mural of Alice and Wonderland, which is a little on the nose for a head shop, but still...pretty sweet. Some days I struggle for a good picture to use and end up settling for something that is just decent, but not great. I have no fewer than 7 different pictures from this run which would all be excellent to post. It can be feast or famine on this blog, and yesterday was definitely a feast day. I felt like I had landed in my own personal Wonderland...which really is a great way to describe Littleton, sometimes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One Hundred Seventy-Six

October 21, 2014
7.15 Miles in 1:08:25
Mood: Stinky
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go!

It was the first day of the World Series, my legs were a bit achy, I hadn't showered since South Dakota, and frankly I stunk. The odor wasn't too bad before I went running, but about three miles in I could barely tolerate my own smell. It was a glorious day, and I felt like I should be enjoying my run a lot more than I was. It was good to get out and exercise, but honestly I was too odoriferous to completely be into this outing as I kept catching whiffs of myself. It was horrid. I've never been more pleased to get into a shower.

As for today's photo, I think it's nice to keep public awareness high of the imminent danger of the undead. It's a little weird that a Beware of Zombies sign is accompanied with a skeleton rising from the earth, as it is my impression that to qualify as a zombie, there needs to still be at least a little bit of flesh clinging to the bones of the undead. I guess I need a ruling from the Zombie Commission on this, I could be mistaken. Even though I am far from a zombie expert, it seems unlikely that pile of bones would hunger for brains. And I'm nearly positive that a ghoul cannot qualify as a Zombie if it doesn't want to snack on human brains.

Seriously, though. Thank God for showers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

One Hundred Seventy-Five

October 19, 2014
4.63 Miles in 45:12
Mood: Slightly Melancholy, as our trip was ending
Soundtrack: The Shins "Port of Morrow" / The Weepies "Say I Am You"

At the top of the highest hill in Rapid City stands Dinosaur Park. Created in 1936, it is a pretty cool attraction featuring five large and rather scientifically incorrect dinosaur statues. What they lack in accurate portrayals of dinosaur anatomy, they make up in coolness of being really old dinosaur statues that kids are allowed to play on. Add to it the fact that these dinosaurs are at the top of a high place that allows you to see the entire metropolis of Rapid City, and I knew that I really wanted to run up this hill and watch the sunrise while sitting on an Apatosaurus.

Running up this short hill made me rather glad that I declined to run up the mountain highway that leads to Rushmore. Turns out running up a steep hill is rather strenuous, and even though I think I could probably have made it up that highway, I would have really stretched the limits of my powers.

I made it to the peak of the hill and sat down on the Apatosaurus that my son had named "Platty" on a visit to this park the previous day. I watched a rather impressive sunrise happen from a beautiful spot, and took a grip of sunrise dino pictures. I decided to make my run a little bit shorter to allow for me to be able to spend time at the Dinosaur Park and also to be able to get back to our hotel at an early enough hour to allow for a leisurely breakfast with plenty of time for a warm shower and still be able to get on the road at a decent hour, as I needed to get back to Denver in time to attend that night's Broncos game versus the 49ers. When I finally headed to bed that night, it was hard to believe that a day that ended with me attending the game where Peyton Manning set the NFL career touchdown passing record had started with this run up to see dinosaurs. It was a long, glorious and weird day.

One Hundred Seventy-Four

October 18, 2014
0.19 Miles in 1:43
Mood: Silly and Presidential
Soundtrack: None

Okay, this post is kind of a cheat. I wanted to post a picture from Rushmore, and I had given some serious thought to getting up super early on Sunday, driving from Rapid City to a few miles outside of Rushmore and then running up the 10% incline hill to get to the mountain so I could post a legit run with a photo of Rushmore. The more I thought about this idea, the dumber it seemed. Especially the part where I ran straight up a giant hill for two and a half miles straight. So the compromise was to run from the parking lot to the main platform at Rushmore on Saturday night. We had planned to visit at dusk so that we could see the monument with the lights on it, so I decided to turn this into an "official" run...even if it wasn't even two tenths of a mile long. I do have to admit that I felt a little silly running through the parking lot and up the path and through the flagged approach to the mountain as tourists gave me odd looks while taking their souvenir photos, but I got a "run" in that allowed me to post a picture of Mount Rushmore, so mission accomplished!

Sadly, the pictures of Rushmore taken at night don't quick look as good, as sunlight definitely puts the presidents in their best light. I also find it a little funny that this is the second time that a post has featured a Mount Rushmore theme. (As Post 106 featured these same four presidents in perhaps a slightly less impressive way.)

One Hundred Seventy-Three

October 17, 2014
7.21 Miles in 1:11:10
Soundtrack: Ben Folds Five "Whatever and Ever Amen" / The Decemberists "The King is Dead"

Although I get the feeling that there aren't a ton of joggers in South Dakota, this is unfortunate when it comes to Rapid City, as this town has a lot of good places to run. The family was on vacation, so I got up at 5:30 in the morning so that I could get a run in before we set out on our Mount Rushmore adventures.

That early in the morning, it's pretty dark, but I was amazed at both how many good running paths there were and also how well lit these paths were early in the morning. By the time the sunlight started peaking through, I found myself in a strange part of town and wasn't entirely sure how to get back to where I wanted to be, but I just kept ambling in the general direction of where I wanted to head, and I ended up at the local football stadium which is used by both the School of Mines college team and several local High Schools. I love the names of some of their mascots, especially the School of Mines who's mascot is the "Hardrockers" which is amazing. Also pretty sweet in the mascot department is Rapid City Central High School who's teams go by the bananas moniker of "Cobblers". It's hard to get too intimidated by someone who is going to fix your shoes, but they do their best.

Next I made my way through the campus of the School of Mines. It is a decent enough campus as far as colleges go, but the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the fact that in the campus parking lot it appeared that around 80% of all vehicles were pickup trucks. It was a little insane just how many pickups there were. One positive for School of Mines's easy to find someone who can help you move.

The final section of my run was through the downtown area. This area of South Dakota is obsessed with presidents (Thanks in large part to the unique and majestic heads carved into a mountain nearby.) and to help celebrate their obsession, they have placed statues of all of the presidents in their downtown. Noticeably absent was Barrack Obama, but I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they just haven't gotten around to him yet, and not think there is anything nefarious going on with his absence. He's only been president for six years, clearly not enough time to put up a statue just yet.

Anyhow, I decided to post a picture of one of the presidents, as I took pictures of several of them on this run. (And the next day, my family and I strolled around the downtown area and took pictures of ALL of them.) I could have posted Washington or Lincoln, but frankly, they get enough pub. I decided to post Franklin Pierce because he was dashingly dressed and looked pretty cool. I have no idea if he was a good president or not, but the man rocked a top hat and cane better than just about any other statue I've ever seen, and he had the kind of devil may care haircut that makes the ladies go mad, so he was the big winner of today's post. Way to go, Frank.

One Hundred Seventy-Two

October 14, 2014
7.14 Miles in 1:10:06
Mood: Haunted
Soundtrack: The Film Vault

This run was done out of obligation more than desire. I felt like I needed to get a run in, as I needed the exercise. So even though it was already late, I pushed myself into the evening to get in some miles. I was greeted by a ridiculous amount of Halloween everywhere I went. Some of it was creepy and a bit unnerving to the point that one of them even made me uneasy. The culprit that unnerved me a bit was a ghost hanging in a tree with a strobe light making it look extremely menacing. Too many people hang ghost decoration in trees by their neck, with the unintended consequence that it looks like the ghosts are being lynched. This makes it extra weird for me, as clearly these people hate ghosts.

The picture I decided to post was one of the decorations that I actually liked. It was an inflatable haunted pirate ship, which is just fun. It had partially slumped, so before I took it's picture, I helped prop it back up a bit to make it look better. There is something a little sad about a slumping inflatable...I was glad I could help.

Monday, October 13, 2014

One Hundred Seventy-One

September 12, 2014
7.35 Miles in 1:10:34
Mood: Satisfied
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / Counting Crows "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings"

Twas a lovely Sunday morning in Denver. I was up early to allow time for a run before my wife was off to work. The majority of this run was through neighborhoods in Denver and it allowed me to see even more Halloween preparations. I know I've already mentioned this a handful of times, but MAN ALIVE Halloween is sprouting up everywhere. I'm trying to document some of the more artful decorations I see, and I was a big fan of these three witches. They were noticable, but not as garish as some of the things I've seen being placed to mark the holiday. Honestly, at one point on this run I saw a skeleton hung in such a way as to almost look like a victim of a lynching that had been left to rot in it's noose. Disturbing.

Apart from the Halloween sitings, I also traipsed through both Observatory and Wash Parks and noticed a ton of people sporting their orange and blue ahead of the day's game with the Jets. Easily one of my favorite things about having a good NFL team in town is the mood of anticipation that can be felt everywhere in the city as we inch closer to game time. People are clearly getting excited for this Peyton Manning led team, and I'm enjoying the excitement.

One Hundred Seventy

September 10, 2014
5.99 Miles in 57:06
Mood: Raw Nippled and Dragging
Soundtrack: The After Disaster / Freelance Whales "Weathervanes"

The weather was perfect, and I had the joy of a Friday afternoon where a full weekend was laid before me. I was also struggling, as using my old worn out running shoes the day before had clearly left my legs a bit more tired than my new shoes have been leaving me over the past week and if there is one enormous problem that I had forgotten when it comes to running in the rain, it is that when I do so, it rips up your nipples. If you run for any length of time, eventually you will become intimately aware of the sensitivity of your chest. I can think of no good reason for men to have nipples, and for them to be extremely sensitive and painful following a damp run is just more reason to opt for a male nipple removal surgery. (I don't think that actually exists, but I'd look into it if it were a possibility.)

I did my best to power through, even though I was clearly struggling for all the reasons listed above. I didn't have many good subjects photograph on this run until near the end when I came across the setting sun hitting this flower. It had a dramatic purple flavor that I couldn't ignore, and I was thankful that this picture came out as well as it did. There wasn't much memorable from this particular run, but I did enjoy that bright purple quite a bit. Hopefully the nipples heal up sooner rather than later.

One Hundred Sixty-Nine

September 9, 2014
6.31 Miles in 58:46
Mood: Soggy
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show

Cats and dogs were practically falling from the sky. The heavens had opened and were bestowing their moisture upon the land of Colorado in a substantive way. I was sitting in my house and debating if I wanted to commit to leaving the safety and more importantly non-soaked nature of my living room for a run around the decidedly wet neighborhood.

If you're going to run in a downpour, it can be lovely if you fully commit to being okay with being soaked. I decided to wear my old running shoes, since I didn't care if they got waterlogged, and put on some warm running clothes and headed out. The rain varied in intensity between mildly soaking to rain forrest monsoon levels. Finally in the final ten minutes or so, it stopped. Although I was drenched, I actually enjoyed this run quite a bit.

The Halloween decor is gaining in momentum, as this friendly ghost was joined by other ghouls and ghastlies on the front yards of an alarmingly large number of homes. I enjoyed this friendly one, but some of them are genuinely disturbing. I don't understand those who treat Halloween as a celebration that to be looked forward to for weeks ahead of time. I understand it only as a fun night to take your kids trick-or-treating, but any planning beyond finding the kids a costume seems exorbitant. Stilll, I was happy that this ghost was out, and that I could stand under a tree to take it's picture, because I tried to avoid taking my phone out of my pocket any more than absolutely necessary due to the amount of rain falling and potentially ruining my equipment.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

One Hundred Sixty-Eight

October 7, 2014
8.07 Miles in 1:14:12
Mood: Strong and Sweaty Social
Soundtrack: The Internet! with Scott The Pool Boy / Freelance Whales "Weathervanes"

Runners are solitary weirdos. Every now and then a couple of these odd wandering nomads bump into each other and start heading in the same direction for a few miles. Generally between being foul smelling sweaty messes and the all too common earbuds blasting us into a parallel universe of music or other entertainment where we don't hear the sounds around us, we aren't the most social of creatures. But the fact that we share so much in common that so many find so weird, every now and then we chat up another sojourner on a trail. This run I bumped into a dude and we ran together for a few miles while discussing things like how long our shoes last, weight loss, and average pace per mile. These are topics that no one but runners find interesting, but we find them VERY interesting. This random guy and I were discussing all our favorite running nerd topics and having a lovely time.

We also ran at a much faster pace that I'm used to, and I have a feeling it was faster than he usually ran too. Had I been by myself, I might have stopped to rest, but when you're running with someone else machismo trumps huffing and puffing. After the run was over, I was amused to see my average mile pace went from 9:40 the mile before I met up with him to 8:22 per mile over that couple mile period where we ran together. I didn't feel like I was moving THAT MUCH faster, but clearly running with someone else provides more motivation to keep going than going solo.

I had already gone almost five miles when I met up with this friendly soul, and fortunately I was feeling very strong that day so I was up to pushing myself a little harder. It was a glorious day and I hadn't felt this good in awhile. I attribute some of this to my new pair of shoes which I am really happy with. My buddy and I ran a few miles together and then gave each other an awkward hand slap and went our separate ways. Although nothing of significance was said, and I didn't even catch his name, I still felt a kinship with him that I don't find with many other people. Like I said, runners are weirdos.

Today's photo comes from the farm at the Littleton Museum. I find it cool that just a few miles from where I live I can come in contact with this farm which is a working model of what a farm would be like in the late nineteenth century. It comes complete with people who work there that look like they should have names like Ezekiel and Jebediah and have a harem of sister wives. I think this is mostly for show, but I worry about these people a little. It's kind of weird to get THAT into volunteering for a museum farm. Weird, but in a cool way that I'm glad exists. It's one of those things like people placing garish statues in their yards...I'm glad they do it, I just worry about them at the same time. Anyhow, this picture has the barn and the windmill, and I fear that the scale of these items is lost in the picture. This is a seriously large barn and a very good sized windmill. All of these antique items living in harmony with the suburbs that surround them. It's kind of surreal.

Monday, October 6, 2014

One Hundred Sixty-Seven

October 5, 2014
7.47 Miles in 1:05:20
Mood: Unimaginative
Soundtrack: LCS Hockey Show / Middle Brother "Middle Brother"

Usually when I take off running, I have no clue where my travels will take me. However, on this particular morning, I decided I didn't want to bother with looking at maps or figuring out where I was going. I determined that my plan would be an unimaginative as possible. I was going to run three laps around Wash Park. A decent run, as each lap is two and a half miles.

There was a certain freedom in not having to think about where I was going. I just put my head down and looped the park a few times. There are few places nicer than Wash Park to shut off your mind and just run, I looped around enough to become familiar with several folks circling the park in a counterclockwise rotation. I started to expect when I'd see certain runners and walkers, and by the end, I started to feel a kinship with these random people. (Although, It did get me wondering if more people circle the park clockwise or counterclockwise.)

In addition to shutting off my mind for a route, I also decided to take the most stereotypical picture of Wash Park possible. Yup, it's the Wash Park Boathouse...easily the most distinctive image possible of the park, so I embraced the cliche.

I don't plan on just shutting down creativity like this too often and just running in circles, but every now and then it's kind of nice to just make like a cold Disney princess and let it go.

One Hundred Sixty-Six

October 3, 2014
7.09 Miles in 1:05:32
Mood: Weirded out by my double
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go!

I rarely care what I look like when I go running, as having a matching outfit to run in is generally not a huge priority to me. However, when I left on this run, even I felt a little ridiculous. I was wearing a bright green shirt, an orange hat, gray shorts and my new gray and orange running shoes. I was a sartorial mess. It was so bad that I actually gave it a half second of thought before heading out the door. Again, only a half second because I'm not trying to impress anyone with my styles on the trail.

Then it happened. I had just started my fourth mile and directly in front of me walking his dog was a guy dressed almost exactly like me. He had the orange hat (although disappointingly not a Broncos hat), he had a bright green shirt, he had gray shorts, and he had shoes that were eerily similar to my own. This made me laugh quite a bit to myself, and it also made me think that I should be walking my Westie, as this dude was walking a white dog. That would have made it TOO weird, though. I'm not sure if he noticed how similar we looked, but honestly, it would have been hard not to see it. What are the odds that someone would show the exact same disdain for fashion as me and that we'd meet on the Highline Canal?

Today's photo comes from one of my favorite altered signs in my neighborhood. Every time I drive or run past this sign, it makes me laugh how well the hula hoop fits that pedestrian. That is some quality vandalism, and I support it!

One Hundred Sixty-Five

October 2, 2014
8.04 Miles in 1:13:54
Mood: Refreshed
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show

I took a brief break at the end of September to let my body rest, and then there was terrible weather on the first day of October, so by the time I finally got back out there, I had taken five days off. That is quite a long stretch for me, and I was ready to hit the road. This was my first outing with my new Nike running shoes, and I got the new shoe bounce. There are few things more wonderful to a runner than getting a good pair of new shoes. It puts an extra spring in your step and makes you feel like Mario when he just grabbed an invincibility just go and go and turtle shells and goombas fly in every direction as you go, but you never feel a thing other than sheer exhilaration. This song might as well have been playing in my earbuds.

Clearly, October has hit. In the five days since I last ran it's like a whole garden of Halloween has sprung up in every direction. I passed several cemeteries in what used to just be peoples front yards, and of course...this yard that not only had this enormous dragon in it, but also a huge inflatable headless horseman and several other Halloween inflatables and oddities. I don't recall Halloween being a cause for this much decorating until the last handful of years. People are now treating it like it's full scale Christmas decorating at this point. I find it a little weird to be that into Halloween, but to each his own, I guess.