Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Three Hundred Ninety-Three

December 29, 2015
6.63 Miles in 1:07:42
Mood: So cold
Soundtrack: The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Revolver" and "Yellow Submarine"

I was in a good mood this Tuesday morning, as the Broncos clinched a playoff spot on Monday Night Football with a come from behind win over the Bengals. My good mood was diminished a bit as I looked at the thermometer atop our fridge and saw the outside temperature mocking me with a most unfriendly seven. Seven is great if it's followed by another number, but when it's a seven all by itself, it can go spit. I was only 3.2 miles away from achieving one hundred miles for the month of December, and with that also putting the finishing touches on two full years of hundred mile months. 24 months straight feels like a pretty significant milestone. I hesitated with the lure of accomplishing my goal being tempered by single digit temperatures.

In the end, I swallowed hard, and proceeded to prep for an icy cold run. I put on a balaclava given to me as a Christmas gift by my sister-in-law. This is the same balaclava that I told her I'd probably never wear, because I "just couldn't see myself wearing it" and while I was thankful for her gift, we should probably just return it. This turned into a full scale war of annoyance between Amazon.com, a balaclava vendor in China, and us which ended with Amazon giving her a gift card credit and not having to return the item. So, after putting up a fuss trying to return this, ending up with a different Christmas gift instead, I ended up actually using the product. I don't even know if there is a lesson in here other than the world is a weird place sometimes, and I am not so good at knowing what I "can see myself wearing" when the world is in single digits. As for an official review? It helped keep me warm on a very cold day, so two thumbs up!

The run itself was an exercise in getting through something to accomplish a larger mission. I can't say I was enjoying myself, and I was moving quite slowly over the ice through the arctic air. On several occasions, I considered getting exactly what I needed to make sure that I surpassed 100 miles for December and then quitting immediately for the promise of the warm indoors, but out of habit or stupidity, I just kept plodding slowly along until I had gone over six and a half miles. Plodding is the right word for it, too, as my overall pace exceeded ten minutes per mile. I feel like I've been getting slower and slower this winter, and I hope that when the temps rise, so will my speeds. That remains to be seen, however.

The Beatles kept me company yet again, and I have two Beatle related points to make in regard in relation to my listening this morning: 1. There is a decent number of of people who claim that "Revolver" is their best album, and I while they aren't idiots, I think they are wrong. 2. Anyone who says "Yellow Submarine" is their best work is just categorically wrong.

Today's photo comes from the Mormon Temple that will always feel out of place in the midst of a normal suburban neighborhood. It was fifteen minutes before sunrise, and the lights were still on giving this opulent white building an eerie greenish hue. Honestly, I find this place beautiful in a creepy way, and all of the conflicting emotions I have about it attract me to run past it every few months, despite the fact that it's in a neighborhood that is hardly overly accessible. I just like knowing it's still there in all it's ridiculous glory.

Also, did I mention it was colder than the ice world Hoth outside this morning? Feels worth bringing up one last time. Brrr....

Monday, December 28, 2015

Three Hundred Ninety-Two

December 27, 2015
8.27 Miles in 1:19:58
Mood: Enjoying the sun and contemplating the Beatles catalog.
Soundtrack: The Beatles "Abbey Road" and "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Let it Be"

If you're going to run on a cold day, this was the best possible type of cold day to run. The sun was shining brightly and made it feel warmer, even though it was still freezing. And there had been enough respite from major snows that most of the sidewalks and streets were clear of snow, so I could actually run free from worry of sliding for the most part. I began at Wash Park with a clear goal: Run to Congress Park and then back. I had never been to Congress Park and wanted to check it out. It's small, but has some nice athletic pools and a great looking swimming pool which is obviously closed because...December.

It's been pretty cool to have the Beatles full catalog on Spotify for the first time, and I've been jumping in with both feet. Of the Albums I've listened to so far, I think I have to say that Sgt Pepper's is easily my favorite, but I'll continue to take them all in a few times before I release an official ranking. I've always enjoyed Beatles music, but I've never had such full access like this before, so it's cool to hear some of their B sides to see what I like the most, and get a feel for a full album in context.

I've realized through all this cold and winter that only the die hard runners are still out in this nastiness. I enjoy the warm cozy days when Wash Park is so packed with runners that it's ridiculous. On the final leg of my run, I ran for over a mile through the park, and only passed a handful of runners. I'd pass hundreds if this were a June morning. It's more fun when people are buzzing around the paths, no question. Oh well, winter won't last forever.

Three Hundred Ninety-One

December 25, 2015
5.42 Miles in 52:41
Mood: Cold and Wet
Soundtrack: The Beatles "The Beatles (The White Album)"

I was in a good mood with the afterglow of a lovely Christmas morning still alight in my heart. I decided to head West for my run, since I had just hit up downtown Denver the day before. I started driving West without a final goal in mind as to where to begin from, and ended up at Clement Park. The snow started falling almost immediately after I began, and at times it was fairly heavy.

The lack of sun, falling precipitation, and freezing temps combined to chill me to the bone. This was one of the colder runs I have taken in some time. Plus I was really tired and with so much snow and slush on the ground, I was soaked. I ended up cutting it a little short because I just wanted to head home again and get warm.

I did discover a few things on this run, though. One: Clement Park is hilly and bad for running through. Two: Attending the Columbine Memorial (to the kids killed in the Columbine Massacre of 1999) on Christmas Day is a weird buzzkill made even weirder if you attend while it's snowing. It's a nice memorial, but probably the wrong time to visit. Three: I don't even like snow if it's falling on Christmas...White Christmas is just a cold and wet Christmas. Four: The Beatles could have used an editor on their White Album...I mean...there is some absolute treasure on there, but some of it is just head scratchingly weird/awful.

Three Hundred Ninety

December 24, 2015
7.92 Miles in 1:15:48
Mood: Danger and panic converging from all sides, plus being lured by sandwiches for the homeless.
Soundtrack: O.A.R. "All Sides" / Family and Friends "XOXO"

This run was a rough one on me. It started innocently enough, as I began at the zoo and rumbled through the parking lots past the museum and on to 17th Street. 17th is a gloriously beautiful lane filled with majestic old trees and historic old homes and treacherous old sidewalks. About a mile and a half into this run one of those jagged sidewalk edges clipped my foot, and before I could do anything about it, I was sprawling forward and down. I landed on my hands and my right quad. Unfortunately, my Fitbit Zip was positioned in my right pocked directly between the cement and my quadriceps. The impact was direct on the muscle, and with the Fitbit in the way, I was envisioning a pedometer shaped bruise would quickly be forming on my leg. I sat in the grass and gathered myself for a moment, after making sure no one had seen my moment of grace, and then pulled myself back up and started back down 17th a bit further.

I ran about a quarter of a mile before I rifled through my right pocket. It was at this moment that I realized that although I had begun my run with my fitbit, my car key, my credit card and my drivers license in that pocket, the only thing that still remained was the Fitbit. I had a mild stroke at this point. Then I did a little bit of crisis management reasoning. Yes, my car key, license and credit card were no longer in my possession. This was a problem, but I figured that the most reasonable assumption to make was that they fell out of my pocket when I fell off my feet. It had only been a few minutes, so I figured that it was likely no one had come along and absconded with three important pieces of my life just yet, and if I hurried, I could keep it that way. I sprinted back over the quarter mile that I had just traversed, and when I got back to when I flopped onto the sidewalk, I found my license, and then just a few feet from that my credit card and key. I was 3 for 3 on recovered items, and feeling pretty good.

It was at about this point I realized just how sore my quad was feeling as a result of taking the spill. I kept moving, but about this point in the run I took several long walks interrupting my running, and gave some serious consideration to bagging the entire endeavor and just heading back to the car. I decided against it, as the month is quickly drawing to a close, and I still had a good chunk of mileage to go for my 100 mile goal. I pushed through, and although I wasn't at 100%, I got into a decent groove.

It was about at this time that I reached into my pocket and finally took a look at my Fitbit. The LCD screen was demolished. It may have hurt my leg, but my leg killed it. I was a little bummed that my cool gizmo had bitten the dust and hurt me in the process, but I kept moving.

I headed towards Downtown Denver, and made a loop encompassing the Capitol Building, Civic Center Park, and the City and County Building. In Civic Center Park there was a large line that had built up, and as I got closer, I realized that someone was serving submarine sandwiches to the homeless. When I ran right past the table where the sandwiches were set up, I had to admit that they smelled delicious. In my sweaty and frayed running hat and oversized hoodie I probably could have passed for homeless. Although the sandwiches DID smell good, I wasn't quite ready to take food out of the mouths of homeless people, so I continued on.

The photo for this run came from when I was passing the Basillica of the Immaculate Inception on Colfax. Construction started in 1902 and it was finished in 1911, this is the most famous Catholic place of worship in Denver, and is one of only a few cathedrals in the United States where a Pope has presided over a mass. (Pope John Paul II in 1993.) The cathedral looked really beautiful against the blue Christmas Eve sky, and I took several pictures of it. I thought this one turned out quite nicely, it really is a gorgeous building.

The final moment of note happened when I was only about a mile away from the end of my run. I was getting ready to enter City Park and head back to my car in the Denver Zoo parking garage. Crossing the street in the opposite direction was a girl who I would guess was her twenties with two energetic little dogs. I tried to give her a wide berth, as she didn't appear to be in complete control of this pooches, but apparently I didn't give her quite enough room, because just as we were adjacent to each other one of her animals jumped up on me and snagged my thigh with it's claw. She jerked it back and continued on her way. I continued to the other side of the street and then realized that I was in some major pain on my right leg...the same leg I had fallen on earlier in the run. This was a bad outing for my right leg. I finished up the last mile and made it to my car. When I pulled up my pant leg, I uncovered a bloody mess. There was a sizable gash in my leg thanks to that wonder mutt. Frankly, I'm just thankful I survived my Christmas Eve run.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty-Nine

December 22, 2015
8.22 Miles in 1:20:30
Mood: Looking so sad that strangers offer me a ride.
Soundtrack: The Bill Simmons Podcast / 99% Invisible / Simon & Garfunkel "Live 1969"

There comes a moment when listening to the album "Live 1969" where Art Garfunkel announces that they are going to play a song from their new album, and then "Bridge Over Troubled Water" starts. While I realize that every classic track starts out as "the song from their new album" it's still a weird moment to hear for the first time in 2015.

This run started out about as roughly as a run could possibly begin. I had to stop at about a half mile in and walk for a good chunk because I was struggling, and it didn't really start to feel better until about four miles in. During that first dejected walk, I was meandering slowly down the street trying to catch my breath and gather myself for the seven and a half miles ahead. I must have looked quite the sympathetic figure, as a woman that I would guess to be in her late fifties or early sixties stopped and generously asked me, "Do you need a ride?"

I've never been asked that before while out on a run, and it made me laugh. I thanked her for her kindness, but assured her that I was out before dawn on this chilly morning entirely because I wanted to be using my two feet, and that her assistance, while appreciated, was not needed. She looked dubious at my refusal, but drove on. I began trying to push through the lethargy, but it definitely took awhile. I didn't feel like myself until halfway through, and even then, it was the slow version of myself.

This is one of the shortest days of the year, and since the sun didn't rise until 7:15, I spent a great chunk of this run in the dark avoiding icy spots. The darkness prevented me from getting good pictures of a few cool yard decorations that I passed, so the only acceptable picture for today's run came from Ketring Lake, where the geese were standing and sitting around on the frozen surface a few minutes prior to the sun coming up. The photo came out okay, but in person it looked really beautiful. It's moments like these that get me out and running early in the morning, because there are briefs visions of pure loveliness that happen regularly when I least expect them and they really give soul to this strange hobby of getting up far too early on a workday and huffing and puffing around Littleton.

Three Hundred Eighty-Eight

December 20, 2015
8.19 Miles in 1:19:48
Mood: Exploring hipster worlds
Soundtrack: Twenty One Pilots "Vessel" / Cold War Kids "Robbers & Cowards" / Coldplay "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends"

I think Sunday runs are my favorite runs. I have a little more time, and it's the only run of a normal week where I can get a little further away from my home and explore territory that is slightly less familiar. This run began at Cheesman park and took me through the Highlands neighborhood and also through the heart of downtown. My favorite part of the run was exploring some of the hipster neighborhoods where odd little shops and restaurants gave some offbeat character to the environs. Today's photo comes from one such restaurant, a nature themed bar and restaurant called "Forest Room 5" which is unquestionably hipster. The art direction of the restaurant borders on silly, although I have a feeling that the proprietors take themselves VERY seriously. The photo was taken from the restaurant's outdoor seating area, and it featured a tee-pee, a camper, x-ray photos of wildlife, what appeared to be a functioning stream that could be turned on and off, and of course, this excellent bear head. I very much want to come back and see what their hipster food tastes like, as although hipsters tend to take themselves and their art a little too seriously, they usually have pretty tasty food.

It was good to get out and run on roads that were not buried in snow for the first time in a week, and I found a few new amazing buildings that I have never noticed before. My speeds for the first two or three miles were decent, but I ended up continuing the disturbing recent trend of running a bit slower that I'd prefer. I'm blaming it on icy roads until all the ice melts and I have to find a different excuse.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty-Seven

December 18, 2015
7.38 Miles in 1:14:28
Mood: Cold
Soundtrack: Bear's Den "Islands" / Passenger "All the Little Lights"

Look, I get that this is a weird photo to use. I had others that are more pleasant and holiday appropriate and benign, but nothing that has quite the impact of this photo. I see a lot of beautiful things on my runs, and you might think than a roadkill rabbit is not in that category, but something about this picture tells a story. It brings questions to me about the randomness and violence that can happen in life...apart from any malice, as I doubt there was any hatred in heart of the driver of the car that killed this rodent. It just happened, and it was an accident, and it was awful, but it also has a certain beauty in it if you're willing to see it. It's a cold beauty, far from the Disney-fied view of nature and animals and the world that often permeates this culture, but it's interesting. At least to me. I find roadkill fascinating. I don't long to see it, but when I do, I can't look away.

As for today's run, it was really really cold. The foot of snow that dumped on the city on Tuesday has remained basically unmelted as we have been living in an arctic blast of cold ever since with temps hovering in the teens at their highest. The resulting terrain was heavy with snow. The issue with it isn't so much that it's slippery (although at times it was definitely slick) as that it's just deep. Even running on streets there are times where it feels like you're running through sand. Plowing through all this snow kills my speeds, the only time I ran a mile in less than 10 minutes was the final mile when I was running in the heavily shoveled Streets at Southglenn. Still, there was something nice about getting out and braving the elements to get my miles in. I felt good about this run despite it's slow pace, because it felt like I had survived something. It's the kind of pride that comes from accomplishing something hard and at times painful. I was very glad I trudged through the winter wonderland today, there was a certain beauty in it. That said, I hope it all melts and the temps raise about 40 degrees sooner rather than later. At least we're almost to the point where days are going to start getting longer again. Winter is a bummer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty-Six

December 16, 2015
8.12 Miles in 1:22:10
Mood: Trapped in a Shopping Center by heaps of snow.
Soundtrack: The Bill Simmons Podcast / Serial / Blues Traveler "Four"

Thank goodness for Capitalism! Without it, I might not have been able to run this morning. We saw nearly a foot of snow fall in Denver on Tuesday the 15th, and the streets are all buried. I was debating if it was even worth going out into the 12 degree temperatures and slop through all the snow piles to try and get some miles. However, as we are now over halfway through December, and I am currently behind track to get to my 100 mile goal for the month, I decided that I must brave the elements and put a few more miles on my running shoes.

Then I remembered that I live across the street from an outdoor shopping mall. This is a great thing, as it means that to ensure that their customers can safely reach their stores during this, the busiest shopping season of the year, they must go above and beyond with snow removal. Therefore, while the rest of the city was buried this morning in deep drifts of that horrible white plague (I don't much like snow, if that was unclear), the Streets of Southglenn were clean and practically dry comparatively. Technically, there was still a decent amount of snow and ice, but comparatively, it was paradise. It isn't a large territory to traverse, but if you circle it enough times, eventually you get your miles in.

The streets were already fairly well cleared when I arrived, but there was still a small army of people working shovels and salt bags trying to make it even more inviting and non-slippery to the consumer. I got several odd looks from these people as I completed loop after loop on the few streets that were cleared and manageable. They probably thought I was loopy being their on my own accord when they looked cold and sort of miserable making their living in hostile weather conditions...and they were probably right, as my loopiness is clearly higher than average.

Still, after I was done, I had logged eight more miles, and I was feeling much better about life in general. The weather has been making it difficult to get out and run, and I'm genuinely worried about my 23 month streak not reaching a milestone 24 months. I really want to hit that two year mark, and I have 49 miles left to go as December winds down. Doable, but the margin for error is getting slim.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty-Five

December 13, 2015
7.91 Miles in 1:14:39
Mood: Frosty and loving my family.
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / The Bill Simmons Podcast

It's rare that I get to involve my entire family in a picture while on a run, but it happened! My kiddos are involved in a "Kids Who Care" club, and yesterday they volunteered to pass out water for participants in the 2015 Jingle Bell Run/Walk. The run was taking place at Wash Park, so I decided to run (although not IN the official run) at Wash Park. I knew where they would be, so I ran over to their water station during the middle of my run to say hello, get hugs, take a cup of water, and snap a quick picture.

They both said that they really enjoyed being involved in the run, and it was cute to see them passing out water. The water seemed almost unnecessary, as it was a chilly December day, but when you've been running, even at frozen temperatures, water can be nice. I started my run about thirty minutes before the official start of the race, and I was a little worried that people were going to slip and die, as the streets in the park were less like a running surface and more like a skating rink. I ran along the outside edge of the park where I was running in packed snow that was much less slick. Fortunately, the weather warmed up a tiny bit before the race started, and the ground looked much more stable for the participants than it had when I tried briefly to run on the icy paved road about 30 minutes earlier.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty-Four

December 11, 2015
7.11 Miles in 1:08:54
Mood: Finding various forms of relief.
Soundtrack: Dear and the Headlights "Drunk Like Bible Times" / The Wood Brothers "The Muse"

This run started with an errand of dropping a small bag of clothes in a donation bin. Turns out that it is undesirable to run with a bag of clothes...even though it was less than half a mile to the donation box I felt a large sense of relief after I had dropped off my package.

About two miles later, I found myself suddenly needing to drop off another much more unpleasant package...only there was no bathroom in the immediate area. I tried to run as much as I could to arrive at one, but in this delicate condition...running is difficult. I finally found myself inside a King Soopers grocery store, where I created a new infallible law of nature. The odds of heading in the right direction to find the public restroom inside an unfamiliar store is inversely proportional to how badly you need to go Big Potty. After circling the store, I finally found the restroom only to find a Cleveland Browns fan using the only toilet as a urinal. Leave it to a Browns fan to use the wrong bathroom implement causing me to have to wait under violent duress. THE URINAL WAS UNUSED!!! I'm still annoyed.

Thankfully, I survived the wait, and found blessed relief moments later. The only other real notable thing about this run was that I only took pictures in the dark today, as apparently I forgot to photograph anything once the sun rose, so we end up with a picture of a nice little house with red and green lights and a tree with lights that fall from top to bottom as if it were raining. Merry two weeks before Christmas, everybody.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty-Three

December 10, 2015
7.25 Miles in 1:09:26
Mood: C.S. Lewisy
Soundtrack: The Bill Simmons Podcast / 99% Invisible / The Wood Brothers "The Muse"

After Lucy pushes through the wardrobe and enters Narnia, this is the scene that she enters. Maybe a bit more snow, but apart from that, this is exactly how I envision the opening chapters in Narnia...weird that it happened on my run this morning. I didn't even have to find a wardrobe.

It was wonderful to be running again. The past three weeks have been much more sporadic than normal due to scheduling, sickness, and weather. This week I felt up to running and the weather was perfect, so naturally I had doctor and dentist appointments scheduled. Thursday was the first day this week that I was actually able to get up and running, and it was most welcome. I'm in the final stages of bronchitis, and that sickness definitely manifested itself in my ability to run, but I pushed through as best as I could, fighting against the tiredness and persistent cough. It ended up with me finding Narnia, so I consider it a success, despite the large sections where I had to stop and walk.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty-Two

December 6, 2015
8.70 Miles in 1:19:13
Mood: Running Wash Park without thinking too hard.
Soundtrack: Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip "Angles" / Bear's Den "Islands"

Fighting a cold and not really wanting to think too hard about where to go, I decided to circle Wash Park and the immediate area surrounding it. This also had the added benefit of helping me avoid much in the way of hills, as I just wasn't in the mood to run up a hill.

The resulting run was actually decently paced at just a smidge over 9 minutes per mile, and I also went a little longer than I normally would have as I was within range of taking the lead in miles for December over my brother. Along the way I discovered that there is a statue (pictured above) to commemorate the Colorado Miner that I have never noticed, even though it's been in the park since 1980. This is just another in a long series of events which speak to me not always noticing things. I'm am exceptionally skilled at being surprised to discover something that's always been around.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty-One

December 4, 2015
5.18 Miles in 54:07
Mood: Sick
Soundtrack: The Film Vault

I have been fighting a sickness all week, and when I woke up this morning I was not feeling anywhere near my strongest. Sore throat, body stiffness, and maybe a tiny fever were all presenting themselves, but the weather was decent for December (34 degrees and sunny when I set out) and I have multiple doctor's appointments next week which means that I won't be able to run in the morning next work week until Thursday at the earliest. I weighed my feeling under the weather against my desire to get to 100 miles in December 2015 (and therefore achieve two straight years of 100 miles per month), and the desire to reach my running goal beat out what was probably the common sense decision.

I headed out for a run.

To be fair, I was amazingly close to staying home, but the pull of achieving a goal has wondrous powers of motivation. Thanks to my cold, I didn't have my legs or my lungs. Every step was a slow motion slog, and if you look at the map, you can see there were large chunks where I just walked. On a normal day, these would be embarrassing run results, but since I was feeling like hot garbage, I wear these five miles as a badge of honor. I just hope I feel healthier soon, this sickness nonsense if for the birds. Although, I must say that I did feel a tiny bit better after I was finished...perhaps slightly light headed, but also definitely better.

Best part of this morning's run was yet another glorious Colorado sunrise, as pictured. That alone made it worth getting up for a slow sickly run. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Three Hundred Eighty

December 2, 2015
7.20 Miles in 1:11:58
Mood: Confronting a jogger gang and discovering new bodies of water.
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / The Walking Dead 'Cast / 99% Invisible

Between sickness and snow, the past week and a half has been making it very difficult to get out for a run. I was finally feeling decent this morning and the temps were high enough to get out. (It was 26 degrees when I left the house, so calling them "high" temps may be overstating it. High enough, though.)

Many of the roads I traversed this morning were still covered in ice, which meant there were many stretches where I either had to go much slower than normal or just pause my running app and walk for a bit. Thus my speeds are pretty low (10 minutes per mile, egad.) but I was glad to be out for the first time since Saturday, so I'll take it.

The oddest moment was five minutes into my run, as I saw a group of about 9 runners heading in my direction on the street. They were running abreast, and it honestly reminded me of when a motorcycle gang in a movie shows their power by dominating the entire road. I'm not entirely sure what was going on, but my guess is that it was a cross-country team and a few of their coaches, because it seemed like most of them were younger boys with a couple of middle aged men. I'm not sure if they were only using this one section of the road, but after I passed them, about a minute later several of them flew by me in a sprint heading in the same direction as I was. Then, another minute later they had all stopped on the road, and I passed them by yet again. It was weird. Especially since at 6 in the morning lately I rarely see anyone, to see a whole phalanx of runners that early was most unusual.

Today's photo comes from a lake (or possibly it should be classified as a pond) that I discovered for the first time today. It is in the middle of an apartment complex that I have passed by on multiple occasions, but of which I had never had run right through the middle. I discovered that there is a cute little pond with tons of ducks just chilling out on the ice right there, and it looked pretty cool a few minutes before sunrise.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-Nine

November 28, 2015
7.36 Miles in 1:07:19
Mood: In need of running therapy.
Soundtrack: Ben Folds "Rockin' the Suburbs" and "Way to Normal"

Winter has hit, and with temps hovering in the teens and several snow storms hitting recently, I haven't been able to run as much as I would prefer. It was Saturday after Thanksgiving, and I hadn't run since Wednesday, and I was sitting in a house full of family that I love and yet I could tell I was super grumpy and needed to go running. I fought it for awhile, but with some encouragement by people who probably also realized that I needed a release, I headed out into the chilly winter afternoon to log a few miles.

Afternoon runs are a rarity for me anymore, and the odd feeling of the world getting darker and colder as I progress instead of warmer and brighter feels exceptionally odd. Even though I know intellectually that this is how the sun works in the PM, it still felt weird. I headed directly towards the odd steampunk robot statues that I have passed on my last few runs to get a picture of them with the afternoon sun, as I thought they might look better than they have in the pictures that I have tried to take of them in the morning. They did look better, but I was still slightly disappointed in how much cooler they look in person compared to taking a photo. It's hard to get a feel for the proportion of these works of art in a picture. The Abraham Lincoln hat one is probably eight feet tall, and they look very imposing as you approach them on the street, yet in a picture, they look more contained and smallish.

After getting a photo of my desired subject, the rest of the run was pretty smooth, as I tried to squeeze in enough miles before I lost the light. I pushed it a little harder than normal, because it was cold and getting colder, but when I arrived home, I was none the worse for wear, and felt pretty good that I had actually got in some miles. I was in a much better mood for the rest of the night.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-Eight

November 25, 2015
7.02 Miles in 1:09:09
Mood: Distracted by the upcoming holiday and a pink and purple sky.
Soundtrack: Peter Mulvey "Notes from Elsewhere" and "Letters from a Flying Machine"

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a little tough. Everyone's minds are already in holiday mode, but you have to still fight your way through a mostly normal work day, even though work is the last place you actually want to be. That general attitude was sort of how I felt on this run. I went out on this Wednesday, as the next several days are expected to be cold and snowy, and this seemed like my last chance to get in a run this week before the awful weather sidelines me. I was able to get over 100 miles for the month thanks to this outing, but my heart wasn't fully in it. I was definitely feeling the second straight day drag, and with Thanksgiving approaching, I did my best to plod my way through, even though my heart was maybe not fully into it. It wasn't a terrible run, but it wasn't the greatest either.

In positive news, for the second straight day, the sunrise was phenomenal. So much purple and pink. It didn't last very long, and it didn't cover the entire sky like it did the day before, but for a brief time, it was beautiful and it lit up the Denver Tech Center in a most excellent way.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-Seven

November 24, 2015
8.05 Miles in 1:17:16
Mood: Hungry and drinking in a pink sunrise.
Soundtrack: Modest Mouse "Strangers to Ourselves" and "The Moon & Antarctica"

The managers at my office held their annual appreciation pancake breakfast for us this morning, and so rather than eating my usual bowl of cereal before heading out...I decided to hold off and wait for pancakes, bacon and sausage. The run was fine, I barely noticed a difference from my normal outing with a full belly...however I realized when I got back that not eating breakfast for three hours is brutal. I was so hungry by the time I arrived at work, which made my pancakes taste even more special. Still...I'm not planning on making it a habit to push breakfast back so far. I usually eat within 15 minutes of waking up, and I was famished by 9:00 when I finally got to eat.

As for the run itself, it was a stunning sunrise special. I see the sun come up on almost every run I take these days, but there haven't been too many really awesome ones lately. Today, however, was a truly amazing spectacle. There were pink clouds in every corner of the sky. The entire world had amazing rosy glow, and it was just a beautiful thing to behold. Those glorious few minutes during exquisite sunrises are some of my favorite times to be alive. I just keep looking up and trying to soak in all the beauty. It's so fleeting, and there is never enough time to drink it all in. Photos can capture part of it, but there is no substitute for experiencing it live in person.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-Six

November 22, 2015
7.95 Miles in 1:14:03
Mood: Trying to beat the clock to see the Broncos
Soundtrack: Passenger "Whispers" and "Whispers II"

Sunshine on a glorious morning. I was racing the clock, as I was trying to get home in time to be able to see the start of the Broncos game. Thankfully, they don't play early games all that often, but on this occasion, the game in Chicago meant I needed to hurry.

Even though I was somewhat in a hurry, it was a great morning, and I went a bit further than I intended to go...as is often my habit. The most irritating moment of the run was when I found myself having accidentally run into a gated community, but then I was blocked from leaving by a large fence. I didn't feel like turning around and coming back from where I had started, so I shimmied and escaped under a gate designed to keep people out. Gated communities are dumb.

Today's photo comes from early on in the run, as I saw someone had attached a fake woodpecker to a tree. There is something wonderful about a woodpecker made of wood. Oh, I also made it back in time to see kickoff...the Brock Osweiler era began with a 17-15 win.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-Five

November 20, 2015
8.08 Miles in 1:15:01
Mood: Dark but pleasant.
Soundtrack: The Shins "Chutes Too Narrow" / The Avett Brothers "Magpie and the Dandelion" and "The Gleam"

The days are getting so short. Even with the switch to standard time, sunrise is still coming awfully late in the morning. As you can see in my photo above, when I first started out, the darkness was so complete that even the neon lights were still on and shining bright in the local liquor store. The snow that fell this week had mostly melted, but the trails are still a mess, so I ended up running along streets exclusively on this run. Although it was dark, thankfully it wasn't chilly. It was actually a quite nice morning...even if it was going to snow later that day, and there was hardly a cloud in the sky when I finished up.

The greatest moment of this run came when I was less than two miles away from home, and discovered a street I had never run down before. As I was running down this street, I found a glorious weird pair of statues is someone's front yard. I took photos, but it was so early in the morning, that the darkness prevented me from getting a good picture. I'm sure I'll have pictures in this blog at some point, but the ones I took on this run were pretty blurry. Mostly I was pleased that I found yet another weird thing in Littleton...Every time I think I've discovered them all, a new one pops up.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-Four

November 18, 2015
7.45 Miles in 1:12:54
Mood: Annoyed at winter
Soundtrack: Hey Marseilles "To Travels & Trunks" / Barenaked Ladies "Barenaked Ladies are Me"

After being forced to skip running on Tuesday thanks to a winter snowstorm hitting the area, I decided to head out on Wednesday despite the fact that there was still a ton of snow and ice on the ground and despite monstrous gusts of wind blowing. As a result, I was confronted with treacherous roads and some blasts of air that felt at times like they were halting my progress. Thankfully, the temperatures were unseasonably warm on this morning (in the 40's) so at least I wasn't freezing.

To add to my annoyance, my Nike Running app had just been updated, and in the update they tied the ability to pause music with pausing the run. I suppose this is great if you want it, but it had the effect of stopping my music any time I wanted to stop to take a picture, take a brief rest, or needed to cross the street. Along with the slippery roads and strong winds, I was in a bad mood halfway through this run. My speeds were super slow as I was prancing nimbly across stretches of ice trying to merely not fall, and if I dared to walk across a particularly icy stretch, I had to do so in silence. I was cursing winter, a season I dislike much more strongly than I should as it's not really THAT bad.

Thankfully, the second half of the run, the sun came out, there seemed to be fewer stretches of ice and snow, and in general I was faster and in a better mood. I actually felt mostly good by the time I got home. Plus, I passed by this awesome old timey truck, which was easily the highlight of this run. Seriously, that truck rules.

Seeing as how we are only in November, I have to resign myself to the fact that many slippery runs lie ahead of me, and it's all going to be okay. I am trying VERY hard to not complain about winter.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-Three

November 15, 2015
7.41 Miles in 1:08:45
Mood: Enjoying a sleazy stretch of Broadway
Soundtrack: Of Monsters and Men "Beneath the Skin" / Lupe Fiasco "Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor"

Since I didn't have enough time on this Sunday morning to drive into the heart of Denver to run, I decided to run along a stretch of South Broadway a little closer to home that I've never really ran on before. For lack of a better term, let's call it the cheap motel district. There is a sleazy feel to much of Broadway, but it also has it's charm. Sometimes sketchy areas can be the most interesting. I'm not sure if I'd recommend this run for natural beauty, but the day was lovely, the sky was blue, and it felt good to get out in an area I'd never really run before.

I ran north for about three miles, and found myself at Harvard Gulch Park, which is a place I have previously discovered while running by starting at Observatory and heading south. It was interesting to bump into it from the south and realize that all these places in which I find myself are indeed connected. I understand this in my mind, but there is still something weird about linking two places on foot and truly feeling the interconnection of all the random places in the city.

Today's photo was taken while standing in the northbound lanes of Broadway. I have passed this weird grass sculpture a ton of times, but it's hard to get a good picture from your car. It was quite satisfying to be able to get up close and personal with it. These blades of grass are quite large, maybe ten feet tall, and they are much cooler when you really take time to enjoy them. I still don't really understand why someone decided to put them on a random scuzzy block of Broadway, but as with nearly all art...I'm glad someone did. It makes this section of town feel just that much cooler.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-Two

November 13, 2015
6.37 Miles in 1:02:44
Mood: Enjoying Pumpkins who apparently know Kung Fu
Soundtrack: Of Monsters And Men "Under the Skin" / DC Talk "Jesus Freak"

Nevermind how ridiculous it is that so many people still have their Halloween decorations on display, this totem poll of jack-o-lanterns looks like it's holding a bow staff and that is amazing. Prior to reaching this house, this run was nearly a complete waste, but this one thing alone totally saved it.

It was so cold this morning, and my legs were so dead, and there is still a lot of snow on the ground, and I decided to try running on a trail. This was a bad combination of things. Because my legs were overtired, I was stopping to walk too much. However, due to the temps, I couldn't walk for too long or I would get cold. Then I tried the Highline canal, but since we got snow two days ago, it has melted and refrozen leaving huge chunks of the trail covered in rock hard snow remnants which make the ground lumpy and hard to run without twisting an ankle on the uneven surface. So I was grumpy and cold and tired and having none of it.

Then the bow staff pumpkin pile made it all better. I finished up moderately strong on dry streets, and was far less grumpy when I arrived home. It was still a slow cold run, but I eventually made the best of it after feeling sorry for myself for the first three miles.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy-One

November 12, 2015
8.08 Miles in 1:16:03
Mood: Getting the miles in even when it's hard.
Soundtrack: Freelance Whales "Weathervanes" / The Allusionist / 99% Invisible

The alarm woke me this morning at 5:33 AM. The forecast predicted temps in the teens, and I was so warm and so drowsy and my bed was so welcoming. Somehow, I still pulled myself out of bed, but the whole time I was eating breakfast and prepping to go out, I was wondering about my choice.

It was cold, but it wasn't miserable. I had to avoid trails, as they are all covered in snow, but the streets were mostly dry and welcoming, and all in all it was a pleasant if totally unremarkable run. By the time it ended, I was really glad I went.

Photos were few and far between today, with nothing all that amazing to pick. I chose to use this one, because...WHAT IS THAT THING? I'm guessing it's art, but it doesn't give warm fuzzy "I'm appreciating art" feelings. It looks like it could be some sort of torture device. Not the sort of thing I'd put in my front yard, but to each his own.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Three Hundred Seventy

November 10, 2015
7.78 Miles in 1:12:55
Mood: Birdwatching
Soundtrack: Jack White "Lazaretto" and "Blunderbuss" / Robert DeLong "In the Cards"

There is a lone hawk in that tree. I saw him about ten minutes into my run, and I thought about him for awhile that day. He seemed alone but not lonely. I don't know that animals get lonely, but there was something majestic about seeing him that morning. He was just still, it didn't appear that he was even looking for prey, he was just chilling out enjoying the morning just like I was. He was happy to be by himself. He didn't want to go anywhere or do anything, but just sit in the tree and enjoy the morning sun. I'm reading a lot into this bird, but I admired him. You rock on, hawk. Do your hawk thing!

It was an amazing morning, it was warm and bright and the world was just waking up and enjoying the day. It would snow later on, and the cold front was coming, but for this short morning period, all was right with the world.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Three Hundred Sixty-Nine

November 8, 2015
8.14 Miles in 1:13:34
Mood: Pondering impermanence.
Soundtrack: Modest Mouse "Strangers to Ourselves" and "The Moon & Antarctica"

I found myself running north on Colorado Blvd, which is a busy and somewhat less than attractive major road. As I was running, I came across a building which used to be a World Savings bank location. I used to work for World Savings over a decade ago, and the company was run by a husband and wife team known throughout the company simply as "The Sandlers". The husband's name was Herb, and he always seemed like the more easy going of the two. (This is all strictly from impressions that I got from videos that they appeared in and second hand stories of people who had interacted with them...I never met either of them.) The wife was named Marion, and she had a reputation of being a hard driver. She also had a reputation of thinking she was a skilled architect, and many of the bank's buildings were somewhat odd looking and unique, and throughout the company this peculiar style was either credited to (or blamed on) Mrs. Sandler.

Anyway, these people were in my life in only a tangential way, but as I passed by the old bank building...one of the more odd looking bank buildings of the many odd looking bank buildings credited to Marion, I laughed. The building still stands, even though there hasn't been a World Savings Bank since 2006, and today it is a mattress store. This made me laugh, because even though I never met her, I know that Marion Sandler took her bank and her architecture very seriously, and now, less than ten years after she quit, the bank is a memory and the building she was proud of is now hawking mattresses. I'm not sure this is the legacy she had in mind. Granted, she was a billionaire, and I'm sure she has a much more lasting legacy which she has left with benevolent organizations and other things which I am wholly unfamiliar, but to me, her entire legacy in my world boils down to a silly looking mattress store.
I say all that to say that things change, and it's hard to do things of lasting significance. The change of the world is seen in mattress stores, and the golden leaves which visit us every fall and foretell the change to a freezing cold winter that will be upon us shortly. We can't hold back the seasons, and we even if we pour millions into bizarre architecture, it's probably just going to end up as a mattress store. Change will always be upon us, and our time on earth is short. This is what I was thinking about on a Sunday morning run.

(I learned several interesting things researching for this post, including the fact that Herb and Marion Sandler were parodied on Saturday Night Live as emblematic of the people causing problems at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. The parody was so ruthless that NBC actually censored the replay and online version of the skit so it wouldn't come across as harshly for subsequent audiences. I learned that Time Magazine included them in their 25 people to blame for the financial crisis. I also learned that Marion Sandler passed away in 2012, and Herb is still alive and kicking. For the record, I was always a little afraid of the prospect of potentially meeting Marion, and regarded her as a vaguely evil presence hovering over World Savings...even though I had nothing to base this on other than second hand accounts and company videos she appeared in.)