Friday, January 30, 2015

Two Hundred Twenty-Eight

January 30, 2015
5.23 Miles in 51:17
Mood: Dead legged
Soundtrack: Avett Brothers "The Gleam" and "Country Was" / The Mediocre Show

It is a common trope among NBA fans that a team that is playing it's second game of a back to back (it's second game in two days) will always have less energy. Gamblers even take this fatigue factor into account in gambling lines, a bad team has a much better chance to get a win against a really good team if they haven't played in a few days and their opponent played the night before.

I often have thought that this is ridiculous. These are professional athletes, they should be able to bring it every night. I'm beginning to rethink this position, though. Not that I am a professional athlete, I'm clearly nowhere close to that, but on my second day of running in a row I notice that I do not have the same jump in my legs.

After a long and glorious run yesterday where I felt amazing, today was my second of a back to back. I was hurting, and my legs were dead tired. I had to cut it short today, I didn't have anything longer than five miles in me.

As for today's photo, I saw very little of interest on my run this morning, but I did see a ton of geese over by a pond. I tried to get close enough to take a photo, but every time I approached, the geese would scurry away from me. So this is a photo of geese scurrying away from the weird dead-legged runner near the end of his run.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two Hundred Twenty-Seven

January 29, 2015
8.54 Miles in 1:20:43
Mood: Sad and then Happy
Soundtrack: This American Life / The Avett Brothers "The Second Gleam"

The "This American Life" episode I was listening to this morning dealt with internet trolling. It made me profoundly sad. It dealt with the ugly underbelly of the internet, and people so unhappy with who they are that they use the annonymity of the internet to bully, pester, annoy, threaten, terrify, and in general be terrible human beings to targets of their anger.

The woman in particular that stood out to me was someone who had written an online article that spawned a hateful response from these trolls. She was given rape and death threats from countless people and someone Googled her to find enough information about her to create an online profile for her recently deceased father so that the troll could send her posts describing her father's "disappointment" in her. Just ugly stuff.

Interestingly, after this writer wrote an article about the pain that this trolling had caused her, this father creating troll stepped forward, and he actually appeared on the podcast discussing the event. He sounded like a normal person with a normal life that just engaged in this hateful behavior as a lark. He sounded very guilty about it, and he repented of his ways as they discussed the reasoning behind it. Something that stood out to me was the compelling factor in his hate was the fact that he was felt so miserably about himself, I cannot fathom this line of thinking. Self-hatred is so destructive, both to the person and to anyone else around. Hearing firsthand how someone so seemingly normal could act out so egregiously was what saddened me. I was heartbroken both for the pain caused in his victim and for his own pain. It was maybe not the most uplifting listen, but it was fascinating. It made me think of the importance of imparting others with positive messages rather than negative ones.

After I was done with that, I needed something less heavy, so I went with the music of what I have come to believe is my favorite band...The Avett Brothers. The second half of the run was so glorious. There was a pleasant sunrise, happy music, geese standing on ice and walking around a lake (which is unexpectedly hilarious to watch), and for the first time in more than a month the ice had melted enough to allow me to run on the Highline Canal trail. This is a rare treat in winter, as snows tend to stack up on each other and turn from snow into treacherous patches of ice which are simply not navigatable to run. Melting doesn't happen much, because so much of the trail is shaded that it takes several days of unseasonably warm weather to eradicate it all.

Fortunately, the temps over the past half week have been times exceeding 70 degrees. This blessed warmth allowed me to actually hit the trail! The time spent on the final few miles on the trail was almost spiritual. I was so happy. It was truly a great run. Today's photo is the rising sun peaking through to the trail. Be good to each other, people!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Two Hundred Twenty-Six

January 27, 2015
7.25 Miles in 1:08:38
Mood: Wishing I could wish a wish.
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / Hey Marseilles "To Travels and Trunks"

Yep. That's a full size wishing well fascade in this person's front yard. Sadly, it doesn't provide fresh spring water from the earth, as it's only a planter and doesn't actually serve any function in the way of providing either a refreshing beverage or wish fullfillment. It's basically a very disappointing place for plants to grow.

Passing by this monument of unmet expectations got me thinking, "What kind of person wants a very large wishing well in their front yard."

I rapidly abandoned questioning the motives for this move. If I have learned anything from running the streets of the South Denver Metro area, it is that trying to put yourself in the headspace of many of its residents will quickly make you mad. This person just wanted a wishing well. BOOM. Done.

This run put me over one hundred miles for January...making it now 13 consecutive months that I've passed the century mark. I also am astounded at how many Christmas decorations are still adorning people's's nearly February. Before long we will be reaching the point that they may as well just leave them up for Christmas 2015. I have reached the point where I take a picture of all Christmas decorations just to see how long into the year I can get before it is no longer possible. It's getting sad...especially the yard that had a lone Elmo decoration wearing a Santa hat. People are rarely still illuminating their displays, but a lot of lawn ornaments have been left's almost as if people hope someone out in the universe will steal their stuff so that they don't have to take down the items themselves.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Two Hundred Twenty-Five

January 25, 2015
7.35 Miles in 1:07:36
Mood: Retroactively enjoying a film as I prepare for the Goose Armageddon.
Soundtrack: The Avett Brothers "Live, Volume 2" / "Frank" - Music and Songs From The Film

It was the 17th anniversary of the Broncos defeating the Packers in Super Bowl 32. While that has absolutely nothing to do with anything about this run, it's an important historical note, as that was my favorite day in the history of sports.

In news that DOES relate to this particular run, I had just watched the movie "Frank" on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday morning I discovered that there was an album of "music" from the film. The film is about a fictional indie band that if it were real would stretch the limits of credulity to their breaking point. It's strange, funny, touching, beyond weird, and investigates whether or not artists need to suffer to produce great art. I loved the movie so much that I found myself listening to this album on Spotify. The album is strange in that it is composed more of weird noises, screeches and scenes from the film than it is a legitimate songs. There is some actual music, but mostly it's just an incredibly strange listen. I found myself entertained and remembering the movie fondly, even if it's safe to say that it was horrific "music" to use to motivate myself on a run. It's not really exercise music, in truth it's barely even music. Still, the film is something worth taking in.

The photo for this run was chosen as it most accurately depicts a recurring theme found on this run...Canadian Geese are EVERYWHERE in Denver right now. Huge flocks of them were congregating on just about every large lawn or park that I passed. These animals can be beautiful from a distance, but mostly they are loud, destructive and gross up close. They are congregating as if they are preparing to take over the city...if they were intelligent and insidious, I'd be afraid. However, they're mostly just annoying and loud, and I hope they fly north soon...although they can look pretty cool if you get a picture of them in flight.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Two Hundred Twenty-Four

January 23, 2015
6.61 Miles in 1:03:52
Mood: On the defense of monsters, and briefly freaked out by normal kids.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / Lupe Fiasco "Tetsuo & Youth"

I am quickly discovering that I am having a harder time getting photos for the blog on my early morning runs. I believe the reason is partly because my brain is still somewhat asleep at 6AM and doesn't immediately recognize good photo ops and also the fact that for the first forty-five minutes of these runs the world is dark. So if this blog slowly becomes a descent into pictures of the sunrise, you'll partially understand, as the sun coming up is usually the most visually interesting thing I encounter each today.

However, today's sun up was rather dull on the beautiful sunrise scale, and I passed by a roll-away from my favorite roll-away rental company. Yes, I have a favorite roll-away company. It has nothing to do with their prices, service or quality, but everything to do with the fact that they have a monster as a logo. American companies would do well to learn that a multitude of sins can be covered with an adorable monster logo. I especially enjoy an environmentally conscious monster who is determined to save the earth with recycling. In my experience, environmentalism is high on most monsters' lists of priorities yet "Big Movie" seems intent on showing monsters as monsters instead of the socially responsible members of their communities that so many are. I mean, sure, some monsters are monsters, but not all monsters are I right?

Okay, that is probably enough of that silliness. One other thing of note from this run, I was briefly freaked out as I turned a corner this morning. It was about 6:20 in the morning, and a contingent of about seven or eight teen aged kids were standing silently on a curb...I'm assuming they were waiting for a bus. What freaked me out is that the were all standing in the same direction and all looking down at their smart phones which in the early morning darkness illuminated their faces. This light combined with the fact that they were all standing in the same direction gave them a freakish and vague horror film look. Needless to say, seeing eight silent kids that look a little like The Children of the Corn just standing on the corner waiting for their bus in the dark is enough to at least startle someone, and it startled me. I then quickly deduced what was going on, and my fear level dropped quickly and dramatically. Still...there was a brief moment.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Two Hundred Twenty-Three

January 20, 2015
1.57 Miles in 12:17
Mood: Feeling the need for speed, and doughnuts
Soundtrack: The Decemberists "What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World"

So, I had just ran seven and a half miles. Technically, I didn't need to run any further, as that qualifies as a solid day. However, I had more energy to burn, and I had more time to burn it in. My plan all morning was to stop by VooDoo Doughnuts after I was finished running and buy a single doughnut to celebrate a lovely day of freedom.

If the city of Denver didn't have parking meters posted on Colfax right in front of VooDoo Doughnuts, this run might have never happened. I drove past my favorite doughnut establishment, realized that I would have to throw money in a meter in order to park there, and my cheapskate side was in no mood for it. Since I didn't feel like paying even a quarter to park and I still felt like running, I decided to veer just a tiny bit south towards Cheesman park. I knew that there were a multitude of free parking spots in the park, and after finding one, I decided to extend my outing to an even longer run.

I began by running even further away from VooDoo towards the iconic pillars (pictured in this post) that Cheesman is known for. I looped the columns, and ran around the park a bit. Although I had already run quite a ways, I decided to push myself to see how fast I could run with the limited amount of energy I had left in the tank. I ran up to VooDoo, walked in and bought my doughnut, and then zoomed back to the car.

I ended up running a mile and a half at a pace of 7:50 per mile...which is much faster than I usually go. I'm sort of cheating by making this run get it's own post as this is basically a continuation of my run from earlier in the day, but the fact that I got a great picture of the Cheesman pillars combined with the fact that I ran rather quickly, combined with the fact that this run began about 15 minutes and a short car ride after my other run had ended, I decided that this deserved it's own post.

Also, the doughnut was delicious. (It was a Portland Creme, in case anyone cares.)

Two Hundred Twenty-Two

January 20, 2015
7.53 Miles in 1:09:44
Mood: Relaxed and Happy
Soundtrack: The B.S. Report / The Because Show

Thanks to a scheduled furlough day at work, I had a free day to play and do as I pleased. I decided to run the Cherry Creek trail that runs right along Speer Boulevard. I followed the Creek trail all the way into Confluence Park and Downtown. There is art all along the trail on the retaining walls, and some of it is quite interesting. I decided to post a picture of this particular mural because I found it interesting. Disturbing and odd, but interesting. I'm glad I live in a place that challenges people with art interspersed in our day to day life areas. Art makes the world better, and when it causes you to scratch your head in bewilderment, sometimes that's good too.

I was listening to Bill Simmons and Cousin Sal discuss the Conference Championship NFL games and the upcoming Super Bowl, and found myself saddened that unlike last year my Broncos won't be participating, but also a little relieved, as I won't be stressing about it for two weeks leading up to the big game. This year's Super Bowl is just another game to me, and although I'll be interested, I won't be invested. There is some relief in that.

After finishing running the Cherry Creek trail, I ran though the Sixteenth Street Mall for the second time in three days, and also did a quick loop around the State Capitol again. Then I headed south back towards my car. On the way home running down Pennsylvania I ran through Governor's Park and discovered the Grant-Humphreys Mansion. It was under renovations and had a temporary fence around it, but I could still see its awesome architecture. I now have another cool mansion that I have discovered and have been inspired to learn about after finding it running. This one was built in 1902 and although I think I still like the Weckbaugh Mansion better, this one is right up there. It has an added benefit of being situated at the top of a hill in a gorgeous park, which really ups the beauty quotient. Hopefully the renovations won't take too long, and I can get a good picture of it to post some day soon. Apparently, this home can be rented out for weddings and events, and it really would make an amazing venue for a wedding. I can totally see the appeal.

Two Hundred Twenty-One

January 18, 2015
7.53 Miles in 1:06:49
Mood: Pleasantly lit
Soundtrack: Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip "The Logic of Chance", "Repent, Replenish, Repeat", and "Angles"

The nice thing about Sunday morning is that I can take my time. On a regular run day, I am not able to get as far away from home, as I need to get back in time to shower and then head in to work. On Sundays, I get the chance to sleep in a bit, take my time in the morning, and then head out to where ever my mood takes me.

Lately, my Sundays have pulled me downtown. There is a ton of great energy and some cool sites to see whenever I go downtown, and although this Sunday was on the cool side, I found myself parking in City Park for the second straight week. This time I did a lap around City Park before heading towards the downtown scene. City Park has some great paths for running, and while it's perhaps not quite as ideal a place to run as Wash Park, it's still a great park to run.

After running the park, I hit up a bunch of my favorite downtown spots. I took pictures of Union Station, Coors Field, the City and County building, as well as some lesser known places like the Rocket and Aperture Boutique Apartments on 18th. The picture I decided to post was this one of the Colorado State Capitol building. There was something terrific about the light on this morning that created a bunch of really good photo ops everywhere I went. It was difficult to narrow my choices down to a single photo for this run, as the light combined with the dramatic clouds in the sky gave me several good pics to choose from. The sky seemed extra blue on this morning, for some reason.

At one point, as I was jogging through the 16th Street Mall, I started trailing another runner for a few blocks who was booking it. I tried my best to keep up with him, and briefly did so. My speeds surged for that section of the run, and then quickly returned to normal once our paths diverged. It's amazing how much easier it is to run faster when you have someone else setting the pace. It's not even competition, necessarily. There is just a strength that comes when you are with another runner that allows you to increase your speed. I think that is why I get better times in organized running events than I do when I'm out by myself. I enjoy the solitary times too, but there is something nice about running in a pack.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Two Hundred Twenty

January 16, 2015
4.02 Miles in 40:40
Mood: Pink
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show

I'm a proponent of listening to your body. Today my body was screeching at me, "STOP RUNNING!"

I wanted to get in a good normal run because the conditions were perfect, and it was my normal running day, but my legs were dead tired and aching. I got about 2 miles in, and realized that I had to cut it short. I was a bit disappointed in myself, but I started heading home feeling a little bummed that I didn't have a long run in me today.

Then the sky erupted into a bevy of pink, purple and blue and immersed the world in a rosy glow. Sunrise this morning was transcendent and it put me in a much better mood. There will be other days to run, and even if today was a weak exercise day, that sunrise was good for my soul.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Two Hundred Nineteen

January 15, 2015
6.88 Miles in 1:08:05
Mood: Slow, low blood sugary, and figuring out morning running.
Soundtrack: Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip "Angles" / The Internet! with Scott the Pool Boy

I'm still working out the kinks in this "going running early in the morning" thing. I'm a Type 1 diabetic, and my blood sugar was a tiny bit low today, so I decided to eat breakfast, but take a very small amount of insulin. This turned out to be a terrible idea, as my blood sugar spiked, and a side effect of high blood sugar is lethargy. I was dragging on this run. My average mile pace was almost over 10 minutes per mile, which for me is silly slow. I'll get this thing figured out eventually, but the struggle is real!

It was a beautiful Colorado morning, and something I noticed today is the rather large number of neighbors that are still displaying Christmas lights. This is silly, as it's January 15th. Christmas should be a distant memory by now, but a sizable portion of Littleton residents are still pounding out their yuletide cheer whether I like it or not. Actually, Christmas lights are one of my favorite parts of the holiday. I especially enjoy other people's lights, as I get the enjoyment of looking without putting forth the Griswaldian effort of actually making it happen. I'll be sad when we finally reach late February, and all these lights finally go away for good.

I am super proud of this photo I posted for today, as I was able to actually take a picture with my phone that shows the actual contours of the moon rather than just making it look like a bright fuzzy blur in the sky. I love this picture for the emerging sunlight, the cool tree, and the crescent moon all coming together. When I saw the sky from this vantage point, I knew I had to take a picture, I'm just glad it actually turned out. Highlight of a beautiful, if also sluggish, morning.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Two Hundred Eighteen

January 13, 2015
6.75 Miles in 1:05:12
Mood: Getting creeped out by sketchy sedan.
Soundtrack: The Avett Brothers "Live, Volume 3"

Since last week when I started running in the mornings due to my work schedule change, I have been following the hour by hour forecast for each morning religiously on the nights before I go for a run. This morning was the first time that that forecast on the iPhone weather app was significantly wrong, and it worked in my favor. It was almost ten degrees warmer than predicted this morning...granted, it was still only 27 degrees, so it's not like it was balmy, but it sure beats the predicted temps in the teens. I did a double take looking at the thermometer when I walked into the kitchen this morning, but in a good way. I was excited to get out this morning. Life is all about managing expectations, and when you expect 17 degrees, 27 degrees seems like a positive instead of the below freezing temp that it actually is.

The weather never bothered me this morning except for the fact that it was so foggy that I got to experience the rare Chicago Sunrise in Denver. For the uninitiated, a Chicago Sunrise is one in which you don't actually see the sun come up due to the overwhelming cloud presence. In fact, it's impossible to even tell from which direction the sun is actually rising. You don't really see the sun rise so much as gradually notice that it's lighter outside. It's a bit of a bummer as far as sunrises go.

Today's picture comes from a random yard that had a deer statue. It's somewhat hidden behind that bush, so I had to walk into the yard to get a good photo of it. As I was walking off the grass and back to the street, I bemusedly thought to myself that it might be difficult to explain to some random stranger why I was on their lawn at 6:45 in the morning taking pictures if one of the home's residents should happen to leave the house at that exact moment. Fortunately, I didn't have to explain myself today.

In a bit of an annoying news, my headphones died on my run today. I've now had this happen probably 7 or 8 times, and it always seems to happen pretty much the same way. It begins with the audio occasionally wavering back and forth from right earbud to left earbud for a few runs, and then suddenly I'll be out in the middle of a run and in an instant half of the sound disappears. If I'm listening to a podcast, I can hear nothing. If I'm listening to music, I will be able to hear the instrumentation, but all vocals disappear as if I'm now listening to the instrumental version of the song. I've come to accept that this will happen with all of my jogging earphones, and on this particular pair I have the 2 year warranty (since I bought them about a month ago, I'm thinking I'll be just fine.) The only real annoyance is that I had to run the final 2 miles without any tunes and now I need to make a trip into Best Buy to exchange them.

Apart from my headphones dying, this run was mostly uneventful until the final half mile or so when something very odd occurred. I was walking up a hill on a street that was pretty ice packed (thankfully most of the streets were quite clear). I was walking for safety, as it seemed like a prime place to slip and slam into the pavement...something I actively try to avoid. As I was nearing the top of the hill and the end of the ice, I was only a few yards away from resuming my running pace when a sedan passed me and then slowed to a stop. I kept walking, but was really curious as to what was happening. Then the driver rolled down all the windows and I saw a small flash emanate from the driver side window, as if he were taking my photo. I found this to be odd, but whatever...I walked the final few paces past the icy road conditions, and then began running again.

My running seemed to spook the driver who slammed on the gas and drove about 300 yards and then turned right on the next street. He then stopped again, all of his windows were down. I kept running, and as I came close enough for him to see me running generally towards his direction, he gunned his car again and disappeared from sight. I still have no idea what was happening, or why that driver was being such a weirdo.

So that happened...

Map - Part 1 (I accidentally ended my run on the Endomondo app about a mile in)
Map Part 2

Monday, January 12, 2015

Two Hundred Seventeen

January 11, 2015
8.87 Miles in 1:22:25
Mood: Hopeful
Soundtrack: Peter Mulvey "Notes from Elsewhere" / Peter Mulvey "Silver Ladder"

There was a dark grayness penetrating everything as I was driving North to City Park. If I were one to believe in omens, this type of suffocating dullness of the sky would definitely not be a positive harbinger. It was the day of the Broncos first playoff game against the Colts, and although my football team would lay a stink bomb later that day...I was optimistic about their chances as I set out.

I parked in City Park, and the plan was to head to the stadium and see what I could see. It was still early in the day, about five hours from kickoff, and the city was just starting to rev up for it's favorite team getting ready to play an important game. My route took me through downtown, and there was a cautious optimism from everyone I saw. I passed masses of people dressed in orange and they looked as though they expected good things to happen. The few people I bumped into that were dressed in Colts blue honestly looked nervous, and the longer I ran the better I felt about the game.

I stopped a few times in downtown, once to check out Union lovely as ever, and once to take some pictures of a graffiti mural on the side of a building which was pretty impressive art for someone working in the medium of spray paint.

When I arrived at the stadium, it was still a long ways prior to kickoff, but there were tailgaters everywhere in the parking lots, and a few people were even mulling around the stadium. I stopped in the Broncos Team Store and it was abuzz with commerce, orange merchandise flying off shelves. As I completed my lap of the stadium, I saw large groups of Event Staff getting their marching orders for the day, and they honestly looked frightened and if working the stadium gates was one of the hardest jobs one can do. I felt badly for most of them, it's probably not a ton of full to be crowd control for an NFL playoff game.

I felt pretty strong throughout the run, and thought that was a good sign as know...if I believed in signs. My music choice of Peter Mulvey was positive and made spectacular running tunes...he's a singer songwriter with an interesting and optimistic view of the world. Not the type of music that will pump you up, but it will leave you feeling good all the same. For a change, there wasn't a trace of snow anywhere on the streets as I ran, so my times and my footing on the sidewalk both improved dramatically over previous runs this week. When I got home, I was feeling awesome...Then the Broncos laid an egg and lost 24-13. Oh well, I'll always have this morning run, and IT was great.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Two Hundred Sixteen

January 9, 2015
6.46 Miles in 1:07:22
Mood: Taking in the sunrise bomb.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / Barenaked Ladies "Grinning Streak" / Simon and Garfunkel "The Concert in Central Park"

It was seventeen degrees outside when I woke up, the ground was dusted with a thin layer of fresh snow. I awoke and proceeded to the back door to assess the situation and see if there was any way I was going to try and run this morning. The entire time I was walking to the door, I thought there was no way I was going to do anything other than head back to bed for another hour and a half. However, as soon as I opened the door, I felt the need to go out. It was cold, but it was still. No wind whatsoever, and my overwhelming thought was, "I can do this."

I dressed in an over sized Bronco hoodie and gloves, put the hood up, and headed out. Despite the low temps, I was perfectly comfortable the whole time. The street was quite slick, but the slipperiness didn't bother me except when I was going up or down a steep hill. I quickly settled in to a slow but steady pace and pounded out several miles in the dark.

The weather was cold, but I never felt chilly. It was wondrously quiet, especially in the dark. The most overwhelming feeling I had from this run is a calming numbness. It was peaceful, and easy. Also very very slow. The most annoying thing about running on slick streets with large patches of snow and ice is that it's very slow. You can't keep up a regular pace because you're always slowing down to carefully maneuver around the treacherous points, and even when you get a stretch of clear sailing, your feet never get a great grip, and that slipping cause each step to be somewhat less effective than normal. As a result, my average mile was over ten minutes, which is embarrassingly slow for me. Still, I was able to get a run in on a morning I didn't think would happen, and I was able to enjoy some Simon and Garfunkel music which always puts me in a pretty good mood.

Today's photo comes from the final half mile or so. I didn't post the picture of the sunrise because I thought it was particularly beautiful...what with the early morning traffic and the partial one way sign in it. But rather, I posted it because it looked less like a sunrise and more like what I imagine a large bomb exploding in the distance would look like. The horizon was very foggy which caused the sunrise to be blurry and very colorful in a small section. This effect lasted for only two or thee minutes and then it completely disappeared, but it was a really cool few minutes, and I was very happy that I took the time to shoot it before it went away, which happened stunningly fast. I only wish I could have gotten to a better vantage point to shoot it. That is one disappointing thing about the area in which I live...I am routinely seeing some amazing sunrises/sunsets of which I am unable to get a good picture because there are too many streets, power lines, ugly buildings, etc. in the way. I'm especially annoyed by power lines. I wish those were ALL underground. It seems like they'd be more reliable that way, and they wouldn't muck up the horizon.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Two Hundred Fifteen

January 8, 2015
7.85 Miles in 1:16:24
Mood: Taking the local fan temperature and finding it lacking.
Soundtrack: Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip "Angles" / Bastille "Bad Blood" / Barenaked Ladies "Grinning Streak"

I went to bed last night with the temps in the low 20's, and when I woke up they had raised overnight to 40 degrees. While I understand science and warm fronts well enough to logically understand that the sun is not the only thing that can warm things up, it still feels a little weird to have the temps double literally overnight. It makes sense, but it doesn't feel right. Although, it sure felt great to be illogical this morning, as I headed out at 6AM into the warm darkness. (Yes, in January I consider 40 degrees to be wonderfully warm.)

This second early morning run went so much better than my ice skating on Tuesday (Run and Shoot Post 214). My enthusiasm for morning running and my new routine was much higher at the conclusion of this run than it was on Tuesday morning. Although there were still a few ice patches, for the most part the roads were clear and wonderful. My biggest adjustment is getting used to the first few miles in utter darkness. Sunrise is becoming a wonderful thing in my world, not only for the beauty that Colorado sunrises seem to bring to me, but also because as the sun rises, the world becomes a lot easier to see.

As the Broncos first playoff game versus the Colts is coming this Sunday, I found myself running past a Credit Union building to take the pulse of Broncomania. This particular Credit Union has lights that can pulse in all different colors on the awning of their building a little like a really lame laser light show. They can also lock down the strobes to specific colors, if they so choose. Last year, this Credit Union had their lights fixed orange and blue for all the playoff games, but this morning as I passed, it was strobing like normal. I get the sense that all around town Broncos fans are a little subdued about this year's playoff run. Certainly the Super Bowl result from last year has a little to do with that, but also the way the Broncos ended the season with a bit of a sputter has us all being not overly confident of our chances. There is also a bit of apathy seeping into the fan base, as it feels a little like Broncos fans are starting to take playoff runs for granted, as this is the fourth straight year we have participated. We forget that a ticket to the postseason is not our birthright. I hope for two things...1. That the Broncos win on Sunday, and 2. That that particular win gets the fan base energized a little more than it is right now.

Finally...Today's picture came at the very tail end of my run. I was about a quarter mile from home, and I happened to look up and see that there were about a billion small birds circling in the sky. I thought it looked really cool, so I took a photo. I'm not sure I'd have posted it if I didn't also get that little tuft of a tree at the bottom of the picture, but since I did...I thought that this pic looked kinda cool and artsy. Plus, it was a rather happy moment in my run, as all those birds flapping around warmed my soul for some inexplicable reason. Yeah, I'm a little sappy, but it was a good run on a good day. Go Broncos!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Two Hundred Fourteen

January 6, 2015
7.35 Miles in 1:14:49
Mood: Trying a new thing
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / TV on the Radio "Seeds"

A few months ago, my boss decided to shake up our team's schedules so that we'd have more people working later into the day. Through a series of events, it turned out that my schedule would go from starting work at 6:30 in the morning to beginning my day at 8:30 in the morning starting with the new year. This shift had always seemed like a far off thing that eventually would happen, and then today it happened for the first time. As a result, my alarm went off at it's regularly scheduled time, and rather than dragging myself through my usual morning rituals, I threw on my running clothes, had a quick breakfast, and then headed out into the dark for a run BEFORE my normal day started.

Running in the morning definitely has it's benefits. When I've done so in the past, I feel energized for the rest of my day. It gets things started in a positive way, and in general, I'm a big fan of it. Once summer hits, it's going to be even better, as I'll be getting a chance to run during the coolest part of the day. The only downside to running this morning, is that I indeed still got a chance to run during the coolest part of the day...only that coolest part of the day started with temps in the 20's and ice covering the roads making every step an adventure.

The fact that I didn't actually fall down at any point while out on my run today is actually somewhat miraculous. On several occasions, I started doing the arm waving, tilting, I'm probably going to fall dance, and only through some super-human displays of balance was I able to right myself and not end up bruised and wet sitting on the ground wondering when the pain will stop. Yes, the roads were quite slippery at 6AM in the Denver Metro. Actually, it was somewhat warm this morning when compared with recent mornings when the temps at around the same time were hovering in the low single digits. I was happy that it wasn't THAT cold for my inaugural early morning run, but I'm sure those days are coming. One thing I'm not so pleased about is the fact that so far every Colorado run in 2015 has been on a slippery surface, and as a result my speed is annoyingly slow. I guess the ice will eventually melt, right?

Actually, as I found myself halfway through the outing, the sun started to brighten up the neighborhood and I found myself really enjoying the early morning hours. It's kind of fun to be up and at em when most of the world is not. I find myself hopeful that this morning stuff will work out okay...even as I somewhat dread the idea that I'll be staying at work until 5 like a normal corporate stooge from now on.

Today's picture comes from the second half of my run, as a pathetic looking Santa in a hot air balloon basket is the only thing that is still semi-erect in a yard still full of inflatables which are sadly no longer being inflated. On this the final day of Christmas, it mostly just made me want this person to get on it and finish putting their decorations away. It's reaching the point where it's just pitiful to see these decorations holding on to a season that has now officially passed. Move on, Santa. Move on. Nothing more to see here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Two Hundred Thirteen

January 4, 2015
6.69 Miles in 1:06:39
Mood: Winter Wonderlandy
Soundtrack: TV on the Radio "Seeds" / Barenaked Ladies "Grinning Streak"

After a somewhat slushy and unfun run on Friday afternoon, I was a little bit gun shy to head out on Sunday morning. Especially since the metro area was hit with another snowstorm on Saturday, so there was going to be even more of the fluffy cold white stuff to deal with. I decided that heading to Wash Park would be a safe call since I would probably be able to run in the park and be able to avoid having to dodge cars as I would be doing if I ran in the streets.

When I arrived at Wash Park, I was immediately greeted with the sight of six or seven cross country skiers traversing what is usually the running trail. This was a discouraging sign, but my hopes were buoyed when I saw them being trailed by a running a moment later. If one person was out trudging through the snow, that meant I could do it too.

It was a surreal trip to the park, as my beloved Wash Park had about as many skiers as runners. I probably crossed paths with about 20 or 30 of each. While my Friday run had been somewhat mucky and dirty with gross brown snow that had been driven on for days, this was a pristine experience. The snow was fresh and white. The air temps were in the 20s, and although I was cold, there was a more joyous and wondrous tone to the proceedings. It truly felt like a winter wonderland, and I for a brief moment I almost understood why some people love winter. The park was truly beautiful.

I tried running on the traditional running path for about two minutes, but it was buried in snow and the uneven strides I was taking made me nervous that I'd turn an ankle, plus I was having to dodge skiers. I decided to move in to the larger street that had been plowed and was a much easier running surface. I saw a lot of runners doggedly determined to stay on the normal path, but the street was much more inviting to me. After three loops around the park, I felt like I had experienced a lovely morning run and had now earned an afternoon of playoff football. I headed back in a great mood, very glad that I had turned to the park for my running venue.

Two Hundred Twelve

January 2, 2015
7.40 Miles in 1:15:06
Mood: Slushy
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / LCS Hockey Show

This is the run that almost didn't happen. Denver was covered in snow, and I knew that there wouldn't be many great places to run without slogging through a sloppy slushy nasty icy mess. It was pretty cold to boot, so the idea of heading out for a run was less enthralling than normal. At the same time, I hadn't run since Monday, and it was now Friday. I was going through running withdrawal, and I needed an endorphin fix.

My solution was to make this a road trip run. I was hoping that I'd find dryer streets and sidewalks in the Denver Tech Center, because for some reason I thought that might be a good place to go. I made my way to Park Meadows Mall because I had a Christmas gift that I needed to return because it didn't fit. I quickly made my return, looked at the snow that was basically everywhere, and came thisclose to just driving home before I decided that I should just bite the bullet and start running.

The run that followed was a lot of me running on semi-busy streets because the sidewalks were swamped with snow, slopping through puddles of slush, putting up with icy winds, and generally not finding too many great places to run. By the time I was finished I was tired, cold, wet footed, and more than ready to call it a day. It wasn't anywhere close to a great run, and my speed was ironically glacial, as when you're running on snow it's hard to get going very fast. Even though for the most part, I wasn't terribly happy with the conditions in which I found myself (winter sucks), I still felt pretty good once it was all over. Getting some exercise, even cold wet wintry exercise, tends to feel good when it's been longer than normal.

The picture from this run comes from the first half mile. I ran to the spot where you can cross the highway and also look down upon the mall parking lot. I amused myself by taking the glass elevator which was silly since I was getting exercise, and the stairs weren't all that steep. I did it because I enjoy a glass elevator experience and will take any and all opportunities to ride one when they arrive. When I got to the top, I thought that the grate of the highway bridge made the parking lot look kind of cool, I also liked the mountains in the background and the giant pile of snow in one of the few places that was well plowed. Blizzards come and go, but the mall parking lot must remain clear for commerce!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Two Hundred Eleven

December 29, 2014
7.78 Miles in 1:10:08
Mood: Wary
Soundtrack: Florence + the Machine "Ceremonials" / Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip "Angles"

I'm not sure if it's the moisture in the air, the fact that it's further north, the lake effect, or perhaps God just has an issue with the Chicagoland area, but Chicago cold is colder than Colorado cold. I experienced this far too strongly on my previous run, and I was a little anxious about going out, as the temps were in the 20's as I set out, and on the previous run where I froze myself silly, the temps had been in the 40's.

After much deliberation, I decided to head out, as I knew I wasn't going to get another opportunity in 2014. This time, I was more prepared, as I bundled up with gloves and a hoodie in addition to my regular running shirt. I had no interest in getting as cold as I did on my run to Naperville, and the weather was even chillier at this point. It took a few miles to get into a good grove, but once I settled in, this was actually quite enjoyable. I hit the Prairie Path as I had originally planned to do on my last run, and ended up running northeast for several miles. I was listening to music and kind of lost myself in a chilly haze of discovery and beauty.

Running through those forest preserves is unlike anything I usually experience in Colorado. The foreignness of it all combined with the fact that I had no idea what the path ahead was going to look like combined with the idea that I only had a vague idea of the way back made it an exhilarating run and unlike running through the industrial complex of Warrenville, this time I was in a nice comforting forest which made the run more welcoming and less stressful and painful. Best of all, there was practically no wind, the real culprit in the frozen misery of the previous run.

Two Hundred Ten

December 27, 2014
7.81 Miles in 1:14:59
Mood: Frozen
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / LCS Hockey Show

I left my Mother-in-Law's house and the temps were in the mid 40's. It was definitely chilly, but I've run in a lot worse, I felt confident in my usual apparel. That was a mistake.

My original plan was to once again head out to the Prairie Path only this time take the trail North. I was about a third of a mile on my way when my wife called and let me know that the day's plan involved heading down to Naperville, and that the family was going to leave before I was finished running. She suggested that I could run there, and that she'd bring clothes for me to change into. I was a bit apprehensive, as I had ridden in a car on Winfield Road (The street that I'd need to spend a great deal of time running down) the previous night, and it didn't look terribly runner friendly.

Still, it looked like I'd be home alone for several hours if I didn't head in that direction. So I decided to give it a shot. That was the moment that this run turned from an enjoyable outing to an exercise in survival. Almost immediately at that point, it seemed that the sky turned darker gray and it was almost at this exact moment that the drizzle started to fall. It wasn't enough to really describe as a rain, but my glasses were definitely getting wet, and slowly my shirt was getting soaked. I headed straight south for miles and miles, and although I could tell the temps were dropping, I was running through a heavily wooded area, so it wasn't too bad yet. I didn't exactly have a sidewalk to run on, but there were decent enough gravel paths that were not too soaked as to have become muddy.

It went on like this for about five miles, and that is when I emerged into Warrenville and began the final three mile trek to my Sister-in-Law's house that also doubled as perhaps the most frigid and miserable three miles in my running career. Today's photo is the final spot where I wasn't way too cold. The moment I passed that Chicago Bears banner, I entered a world of pain.

The part of Warrenville that I ran through was decidedly non-residential. What made it hurt so much was that I was cold and now wet, and this section was filled with large office buildings, stores, and restaurants, but hardly a tree in any direction. This meant that the wind was free to flow, and it flowed strongly. It was also at this point where I ended up on a road that was clearly not designed for pedestrians. I turned a corner and found myself running on a large frontage road that was immediately adjacent to the freeway. There was a ton of wind, a very small side of the road area with a retaining wall, and no sidewalks. I ended up deciding to walk for about half a mile, because the ground was extremely uneven, and I didn't want to turn an ankle. Slowing down cooled my body heat, and made me even more chilled. It was at this point that I noticed the skin on the back of my hands was starting to go a little numb.

I got back to an area where I could run with slightly more ease, although the wind and chill had not let up. It was at this point that I received a call from my wife who was driving with her family and saw me on the side of the road. She wanted to know if I wanted a ride. At this point, I strongly considered it, but decided that since I was less than two miles away, I could finish what I started and make it the rest of the way. Right after that point, I entered Naperville, and was able to finish at a somewhat normal clip for the final few miles. I was so happy when I finally arrived at the house. I took a long warm shower, and after a few days, the feeling returned to my hands. It wasn't the most fun of runs, but I felt like I had survived a major test. There was a feeling of accomplishment, plus I always like it when I am able to run to a destination rather than just in a big loop like I normally do.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Two Hundred Nine

December 25, 2014
7.80 Miles in 1:10:15
Mood: Merry
Soundtrack: The Avett Brothers "Four Thieves Gone" / The Avett Brothers "I and Love and You"

It was a jolly holiday, and it was quite a warm day for the Chicagoland area. It seemed only reasonably warm to me, but as I'd soon discover later on this was actually about as perfect a day as Illinois gets in December. I had the enthusiasm that comes from running in a new area and not really knowing which direction to run or what I should expect to see. The thrill of discovery in a new area can be one of the greatest motivators for running, and this run was no exception.

I ended up heading East towards Wheaton, as it's a pretty affluent suburb, and I had a suspicion that I might find some good places to run and also something good of which to take a photo. In addition to coming across a sizable number of people out for a late Christmas morning stroll, I also found the Prairie Path...which is an oasis of a great trail to run in a land that is largely not so runner friendly. It appears that the Chicago suburbs were built in an era where the idea of having sidewalks was not en vogue. There are some decent places to walk/run, but Chicagoland is a series of somewhat unlinked small towns. When running from one to another, it is not unusual to be running down a large road in the middle of a wooded area with no thought given to the idea that some crazy fool might want to run from one of these towns to another. On several runs through Illinois, I found myself in the uncomfortable position on straddling street and dirt on the side of the road...hopping into the street whenever traffic was absent.

I spent a good portion of this road on the Prairie Path, wishing folks Merry Christmas as I passed, and enjoying a nice sunny day. It seemed like a perfect Avett Brothers day, so I just kept their music rolling throughout the entire run. The picture for today's run came from a residence building in downtown Wheaton that appeared to me to be more of a castle than a condo high rise. I really dug it. (It is located on the Easternmost point of this run on the map.) The only other landmark of note was I passed by the Cosley Zoo, which is really more of a farm than a zoo, but we went there later in the week and were not charged admission and were given free Hot Cocoa, so I have a favorable impression of the they have a really cool sign.

The final important note from this run...It put me over 100 miles for December and also completed my 2014 goal of getting at least 100 miles every month for the entire year.

Two Hundred Eight

December 23, 2014
7.28 Miles in 1:10:09
Mood: Santa in the outhouse? Sure, why not.
Soundtrack: Judge John Hodgman / Lupe Fiasco "Food and Liquor II"

It was a fine Festivus, and my mother was in town as we were preparing to leave for Chicago for Christmas. I was struggling enough with running that I had to pull out Lupe Fiasco music, which is pretty much my last resort to get moving. No matter how hard a run feels, Lupe usually gets me moving.

The oddest inflatable that I probably came across this Christmas season was from this run. Inexplicably, Santa is inside this outhouse, and the elf outside is laughing at him. The door swings open every twenty seconds or so to reveal Santa. This is one of the most tasteless and ridiculous holiday decorations I've ever seen and it makes me wonder why exactly anyone would pay to celebrate Christmas with THIS.