Monday, November 24, 2014

One Hundred Ninety-Three

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Hundred Ninety-Two

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

One Hundred Ninety-One

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

One Hundred Ninety

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Nine

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

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

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

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

One Hundred Eighty-Eight

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

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

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

Friday, November 14, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Seven

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

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

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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Six

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

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

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

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

One Hundred Eighty-Five

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

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

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

One Hundred Eighty-Four

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Three

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

One Hundred Eighty-Two

November 2, 2014
5.50 Miles in 50:53
Mood: Avoiding the cops
Soundtrack: Jack White "Blunderbuss" / Jack White "Lazaretto"

No, I have no clue why there is a police helicopter and three police cars in the middle of a giant open field at Wash Park. I wanted to get closer to the helicopter to get a better picture of it, but the fact that there were a bunch of cops milling about made me feel a bit hesitant to just walk right up and snap a photograph of the goings ons. I didn't see any signs of violence or crime, perhaps they were just getting together for doughnuts? The whole thing seemed a bit weird to me.

Sadly, a random helicopter was the only memorable thing about this run. It was short, and I felt okay but not super strong, and I was in a hurry to finish up to go buy some slivered almonds for my wife for a brunch we were going to that morning. It was the first day back on Standard Time, and the fact that the sun came up an hour earlier was actually appreciated by me. That way I wasn't running in the dark to start this run. Still, changing clocks is disorienting, and when I woke up this particular morning, It definitely altered my mojo a bit. I'll blame that for the reason that I accidentily ended my run early and had to split up the map into two separate maps for this one run.

One Hundred Eighty-One

November 1, 2014
6.87 Miles in 1:04:57
Mood: Waves of Nostalgia followed by an unexpected surprise, followed by a weird doughnut transaction.
Soundtrack: Judge John Hodgman

I drove a bit North to try and run some more uncharted (by me) areas of the Highline Canal Trail. After about two miles, I took a wrong turn and ended up off the trail, and found myself quite near the part of town where my grandparents used to live. At that moment, I gave up on trying to get anymore distance of the Highline Canal under my belt, and decided to head up and visit a home that played a large role in my life during my formative years. 5055 Atlantic Place, the building in which my mother grew up, and the home that I spent many many days and nights staying with my grandparents in. I have memories of watching Johnny Carson (my grandma let me stay up much later than my parents did), countless sporting events, games of cards, and being chased around by a psychotic parrot all associated with this house.

I approached the house from the East, and even the street leading up to it causes waves of nostalgic thoughts. By the time I reached the home on the corner, I felt like I was 11 years old again. I took several pictures of the front, and then walked up the curved driveway on the back of the house and peered into the back yard. The new residents have put up a higher fence than the short chain link job of my youth, but it was still only five or so feet high, and I was able to peer into a back yard that flooded back even more memories. I was sad that the basketball hoop had been removed. I played a weird basketball game with my grandpa on that driveway where we would take turns shooting free throws until we missed and count each make to see who could get to 100 first. It was a very competitive game, and we played in hundreds of times. I was sad to see it gone. They had also removed the weird ancient incinerator that stood sentry in the back yard and spoke to a different time. Although it had been retired long before I was born, it was kind of cool that I always remember it being back there.

I really wanted to go in, but I didn't imagine that the residents would be too inclined to want to let a sweaty guy walk unannounced into their living room early on a Saturday morning, so I didn't even attempt to talk my way into the home. It was enough to see that it was still there, and that although time has moved on and it is no longer a part of my life, it felt good to connect with something from my past that feels so far gone to where life is now. Nostalgia can be a kick, if used in small doses.

After leaving that house, I made my way further North, and found a park that I didn't know existed. As I ran through it, I saw a group playing Ulitmate Frisbee, and thought, "Hey, that looks fun." Then I realized that I knew a great number of the people playing. Although I had no idea that this game existed, apparently several of my friends from church get together every Saturday morning to play Ultimate in this park, and randomly, I found myself bumping into them completely unplanned. I stopped and chatted with a few of them for a few minutes, and then pressed on. It was cool seeing them, but I had a few more miles to go, and wanted to finish strong.

With about a mile to go, my blood sugar really started dropping. I ingested the glucose package that I bring along on my runs for just such a situation, but I still felt low. I came to an intersection with a few businesses, and decided to walk into a Winchells doughnuts to buy myself a pastry and take care of the low blood sugar issue for once and for all. I asked for a custard filled Long John, and the total was 1.59. The guy who worked behind the counter seemed to come from some manner of middle eastern country. I would guess Iran if my life depended on a guess. When I handed him my card, he told me that the minimum purchase was 5 dollars. I didn't want to spend that much, so I told him that my card was the only thing I had, and if he can't run it for 1.59, then he wasn't going to make a sale. I went to walk out, and the guy's manager (who also felt Iranian) called to me and said, "Just take it for no charge. You bring cash next time." I thanked him, and took my free doughnut. I have no clue why he didn't just run my credit card. He went from not wanting to pay Visa a 35 cent fee for a transaction to just giving away his product for nothing. I doubt I'll ever be back, but if you find yourself on the corner of Evans and a doughnut! (There, free plug, that's gotta be worth one doughnut!)

One Hundred Eighty

October 30, 2014
8.94 Miles in 1:25:00
Mood: Confusing a car salesman.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show

I found myself going a long ways and feeling really good. I ended at almost 9 miles because it was getting late, but I probably had a few more miles in me if I had the time. This was the second consecutive run where I felt amazing, which I hope turns into more of a trend, as it's a great feeling.

The funniest and most memorable moment of this run came at the time I was taking the photo above. I stopped at this Dodge dealership. They have a history of hand drawing Broncos logos onto their windows to exploit the natives love of their local football team. I naturally have no issues with this, but I can't imagine that they are actually paying any type of licensing fees for the privilege of using Broncos related imagery. Fast forward to me waltzing onto the dealership lot and snapping photos, and a bewildered car salesman walking up to me. I have no interest in buying or even looking at a car, I'm only on the premesis to take a picture of this silly window for this blog. Guy walks up to me, and sheepishly asks if he can help. I dismissively tell him, "I don't need any help, I'm just taking pictures." I don't tell him why I'm taking pictures, and he looks like a kid that just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He backs away from me silently, and all I can think is that I've freaked out his manager who now thinks that perhaps they are going to get a cease and desist letter from an NFL lawyer at best or get sued at worst.

Now, I'll fully grant that I may be reading WAY too much into this guys look, and perhaps he just wondered why the weird jogger was taking pictures of a window. I'm fine with that series of events, too, but I really hope that they area sweating out the use of an unlicensed logo, if for no other reason than it makes me seem much more powerful than I have any right being, which is hilarious to me.