Friday, June 26, 2015

Three Hundred Two

June 26, 2015
7.10 Miles in 1:04:29
Mood: Living in my own movie with my own soundtrack, and not being totally on board with it.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / Spotify "Running"

The Highline Canal was calling my name, and I had zero desire to pound pavement, so I was not terribly adventurous on my run today, but stuck almost entirely to the trail. It was lovely. I felt fast (by my standards) and strong, and hardly needed any rest breaks. It was a nice break from the usual of the past month which has been a struggle at times.

I barely stopped to take any photos, but I did like this one that I took of this little barn on the side of the trail. It was a beautiful cool morning, and the clouds made the light quite nice for photos...sadly I hardly took much advantage.

The most memorable and weirdest part of this run was breaking out the new Running feature on Spotify. What it does is use the location services on your phone to determine your pace, and then it matches up music to that tempo so that your music matches your steps. It worked amazingly well, but it was a little strange. The music was this epic sounding orchestral music which made it feel like I was in a movie with my own personal soundtrack. It also made it feel overly dramatic, as if something significant was about to happen around every corner. I liked the way the music perfectly matched my pace, but it was a little too weird to keep up for long. I used it for about 10 minutes, but decided to go back to the Mediocre Show. I might try it again using a different style of music at some point, but that epic soundtrack style will probably be skipped next time.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Three Hundred One

June 24, 2015
7.25 Miles in 1:13:06
Mood: Enjoying flowers
Soundtrack: Deadcast / LCS Hockey Show

Only one thing stands out from this many beautiful flowers. I noticed flowers on this run much more than I have all year. It's June and the blooms are out in force. It provided a scenic backdrop for an otherwise rather nondescript run. Pleasant, but not highly memorable. Those flowers though!

Three Hundred

June 23, 2015
7.46 Miles in 1:12:41
Mood: Amused by nature and uni-cyclists
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / The After Disaster

Four minutes into my run I encountered a beginner uni-cyclist on the trail. You may wonder how I could tell he was relatively new at his craft, but it's hard to hide inexperience on a unicycle. He was managing to keep upright, but just barely and if I had to use one word to describe his ambulations, it would be "unsteady". There are few things in life so wonderfully and unexpectedly entertaining as watching an uncertain uni-cyclist. Part of me wanted to follow him just to see if he would bite it at some point on the trail, but I managed to control myself and not stalk him.

A bit later, I found myself at Ketring Lake, and in addition to the usual geese, there were several of these elegant black birds on the side of the lake. They looked really cool, and as I approached they did something interesting. They didn't fly away, but when I got too close for comfort, they put their wings in the ready position so that they could launch into the air immediately if necessary. Then they just stood there with wings at the ready. All three of the these type of birds in this photo are completely still and waiting for a sudden movement from me. It was really interesting to see, and as soon as I walked back towards the path, they relaxed again and dropped their wings. Obviously, these guys are a little wary of humans...which is probably a good thing. (The geese could not have cared less that I was there, by the way.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Two Hundred Ninety-Nine

June 21, 2015
7.71 Miles in 1:12:01
Mood: Happy to be back in Colorado
Soundtrack: Peter Mulvey "The Trouble with Poets" / Ben Folds Five "Whatever and Ever Amen"

After a week in the Deep South, I awoke on Sunday morning and went outside to discover the sweet temperateness of the first day of summer in Colorado. The temps were in the low seventies, and there were a few clouds which made the day feel nearly perfect. Also, there was a noticeable and glorious lack of stifling humidity.

I headed to Wash Park, and was awash in the glory of a park full of folks enjoying the glory that is my favorite park ever. In one lap of the park I saw ten times more runners than I did over a full week in Louisiana and Mississippi. It felt so good to be among like minded folks who were all enjoying the same activity as me on such a pretty morning.

I didn't even feel the need to explore all that much. I branched out from the park on just one occasion, on which I took the day's photo of the little outdoor cafe, but apart from that one brief diversion, I pretty much just looped around the park three times. My speeds were faster than they had been in a few weeks, and I just felt great. I headed home even more thankful than normal to live in the place that I do.

Two Hundred Ninety-Eight

June 19, 2015
4.56 Miles in 46:19
Mood: Sweaty
Soundtrack: Vaudeville Etiquette "Debutantes & Dealers"

I didn't get in quite enough running on my trip with Jeff, so after some quick hydration at the beach house, I headed back out to get in a few more miles. I ran down the beach and towards the bay, as I hadn't really ran in that area much, and I knew this would be my last chance to run in Mississippi. As I headed that way, some lovely clouds blew in, and it even sprinkled a tiny bit for a minute or two. This shade cooled things down to a lovely for Mississippi temperature, and I enjoyed that bliss for about ten minutes, then as quickly as it had come, it left. The sun came back out, and I headed toward a more northern part of Pass Christian that I had not yet seen. This section was very woody and swamp like, and although I was getting eaten alive by bugs, it was still quite pretty.

The picture for this final Mississippi run came as I ran down a street that was completely devoid of buildings. It was just a street with trees, and it was quite breathtaking. It's a type of beauty that I don't see much in Colorado. Almost, but not quite rain forest.

As I finished the final mile of this run, it struck me just how soaked with sweat I was. It was as if I had jumped into a swimming pool, my clothes were saturated. When I got back to the beach house, I took off my running shirt and rang it out and a significant amount of sweat spilled onto the porch. It was disgusting, but also rather astounding. If you love to sweat, Mississippi in the summer is your place!

Two Hundred Ninety-Seven

June 19, 2015
3.81 Miles in 42:02
Mood: Going back in time with my brother-in-law.
Soundtrack: Gungor "Beautiful Things"

Jeff wanted to run with me again on Friday, so we headed out into the heart of Pass Christian for a short run. Jeff only wanted to go three or four miles, so we didn't get too far, but we made a quick stop to investigate the graveyard as we passed by it about halfway through our loop. I noticed a gravestone of a man who was born in 1801 and died in occurred to me that he probably never heard of Abraham Lincoln before he died, and I was checking out his grave in 2015. I love graveyards, they are such an interesting link to the past.

We finished running and finished up the trip back to the beach house by walking along the beach and having a nice conversation. The trip was winding down, and it was a good time to get a little quiet time away from the wonderful and loving, but often very loud, house. (There were 15 of us in the beach house, so although it was plenty big for all of us, it was often filled with raucous family noise.)

Two Hundred Ninety-Six

June 17, 2015
7.26 Miles in 1:12:39
Mood: Déjà vu all over again.
Soundtrack: Mumford & Sons "Sigh No More" / "Babel"

I had seen the beach quite a bit, so I decided to head a few blocks North, and then just run East for awhile. I found some lush vegetation, a park littered with wood carvings, and an awesome old cemetery with gravestones dating back to the 1800's. After nearly four miles, I headed down to the beach to head back towards the vacation house. I stopped in to the same gas station as I did on Monday's run, bought the exact same two waters from the exact same cashier, and as I was leaving, the exact same woman who was walking in on Monday as I was leaving walked in. I then proceeded to chug the two water bottles and soak in the Déjà vu.

The photo for this run was taken right after I left the convenience store. It was a dead tree on the median of Highway 90 that had been carved into dolphins and a ship. It fit right in at the beach...a little weathered, but in a very beachy way.

Two Hundred Ninety-Five

June 15, 2015
8.26 Miles in 1:19:43
Mood: Bridge hopping and understanding the importance of hydration
Soundtrack: Stelth Ulvang "And, As Always; The Infinite Cosmos" / TV on the Radio "Dear Science"

Mississippi, while still oppressively hot, was at least a more visually fun place to run. We were staying in a beach house in Pass Christian, Mississippi, and my brother-in-law Jeff and I decided to run over the 2.1 mile bridge that links Pass Christian with Bay Saint Louis. He doesn't run quite as much as I do, but he was interested in running the bridge with me, so we drove to the base of the bridge and headed out. Jeff took this picture of me just before we headed out, which explains why I am not drenched in sweat, because in the extreme humidity it takes about a quarter mile to get completely drenched in sweat.

I had a hard time believing that the bridge was over two miles long, as driving over it felt very quick. Running it was a different story, as there was a lot of heat and much less breeze than we were hoping for, I quickly came to believe that it was every bit of 2.1 miles. I noticed on the way back that there were mile markers on the pedestrian bridge every tenth of a mile, and each post had a different design on them. Some had pelicans, some had jellyfish, some had mermaids...there were all manner of different cool designs, and I appreciated the artistic touch.

Jeff bowed out at just shy of the four mile mark, so I finished the last bit of bridge by myself, and then continued on down the beach, as I felt pretty strong and was determined to get in a nice long run. The beach had a bit of a breeze, which although it was warm, was quite welcome. I made it a little over six miles before stopping at a convenience store where I purchased two bottles of water which I quickly guzzled. This hydration made an enormous difference, as the final two miles were much easier than the previous few had been. I ended up back at the house with over eight miles behind me, and felt about ten times more positively about Mississippi than Louisiana. I also realized I had increased my total of states run in for to 9 (Colorado, Kansas, Washington, South Dakota, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Mississippi.) It may be awhile before I get to double digits, as I have no plans to leave Colorado in the immediate future.

Two Hundred Ninety-Four

June 13, 2015
6.04 Miles in 2:01:01
Mood: Overwhelmed by New Orleans' West Side
Soundtrack: Barenaked Ladies "Barenaked Ladies are Men" and "Barenaked Ladies are Me"

I almost didn't run in Louisiana. My wife mentioned that some parts of New Orleans have the highest murder rates in the country, and I was completely ignorant of the safety of the neighborhood surrounding the airport in which I found myself.

I eventually hit the road because I figured most murders probably don't happen early in the morning and I also realized this would be my only chance to run in the state. Plus I needed all the miles I could get to reach 100 miles in June prior to leaving for camp on June 28th.

The neighborhoods didn't seem great, but I never felt like I was in danger. I noticed on the map that I was less than a mile north of the Mississippi River, so I decided to angle in that direction and run along the river. When I arrived at the river, I was shocked. The mighty Mississippi that I have heard about my whole life looked practically dried up, and no bigger in width than the Highline Canal has looked lately with flooding in Colorado. About two minutes later, I had run along the river path a bit, and I realized that the actual river was behind trees and what I thought was a river was just a bit of extra river that had settled into a culvert adjacent to the Mississippi. The actual river was enormous, and much more like what I picture when I think "Mississippi River". I felt pretty dumb that I had believed that it could be so dried up and tiny.

I saw some crazy things on this run that reaffirmed all the preconceived notions of the South. I saw a dead raccoon lying in the middle of the road, and it was impossible to tell just how long it had been there. It appeared to have died of natural causes, as there were not tire marks suggesting it was run over. I saw several buildings that looked completely devastated...and I couldn't tell if the devastation was from Hurricane Katrina ten years ago or just general dilapidation run amok. I encountered a convenience store with a sign announcing that it would be closed at midday and sundown for a short ten minute break...this same store was locked up despite it being 9:40 in the morning...pretty sure it wasn't midday or sundown. I saw a cement building with spray painted baby Disney characters on it surrounded by barbed wire. I saw a sign which proclaimed, "Anything Wood - Whatever your mind desires - I can create" which seemed bold. I also saw a myriad of homes surrounded by broken down cars, piles of scrap wood, and general debris. Mostly, I saw an exceptionally unbeautiful city. Kenner, Louisiana is probably not something that needs to be on your short list of places to see.

The picture I chose for this run is a pier which is in shambles stretching haphazardly into the Mississippi River. I passed by this place twice, and by the second time I was more walking than running because of the heat and humidity. I was on a fairly decent path next to the river, and I didn't see a single other runner and only a few walkers and a few bike riders. It was a pretty desolate exercise experience when compared with something like running in Wash Park. You could absolutely feel the reason that the South is renowned for being unfit...exercising in this oppressive weather is really hard.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Two Hundred Ninety-Three

June 11, 2015
7.06 Miles in 1:10:32
Mood: Flooded
Soundtrack: Deadcast / 99% Invisible

The amount of rain Colorado has received lately is nearing Biblical levels. The photo above was taken on my run, and it is usually a tiny stream. Underneath that raging current are three or four stepping stones which are usually more than sufficient to cross this stream and continue on the path you see on the other side of the river. Thanks to the continual downpours, I couldn't even consider crossing, and had to go a different direction altogether.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Two Hundred Ninety-Two

June 9, 2015
7.50 Miles in 1:13:00
Mood: Smiling at the Backpack Lady
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go!

It was 6:07 AM and I had just started out, and I saw her. She is legend in our neighborhood. She is the big backpack lady. If you live within a 2 mile radius of my house, chances are good that you have seen and been confounded by her. She is an impossibly thin woman (her physique would be best described as "toothpickian") who hikes around Littleton while wearing an enormous backpack.

I have spoken with her before, and I took that occasion to ask if she was training for something, and apparently she is perpetually training for an intense backpack trip in Africa. I was unclear if this is an annual event or if she has been prepping for a decade for a singular trip, but no's a little weird. It's weird enough that I've had multiple conversations with others about her, and everyone is always a little perplexed by her. How is she so thin? Why does she ALWAYS wear the backpack? What exactly is her deal? Even after getting her explanation straight from her mouth, I'm still a little confounded.

Anyhow, I saw her today, and only two minutes into my run, I took her photo and figured that I probably wasn't going to get anything better to use for today's post. I was right. It was a pleasant, but mostly uneventful run. The weather is starting to heat up so that I'm building up a lathery sweat even in shorts when I go out these days, but when the most interesting thing I can say about a run is that it made me sweaty, that is truly not much to report. (Other than Backpack Lady, of course, who is always fascinating.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Two Hundred Ninety-One

June 7, 2015
6.32 Miles in 1:03:38
Mood: Sluggishly avoiding being attacked by a cat.
Soundtrack: The Avett Brothers "Emotionalism" and "Magpie and the Dandelion"

After a gorgeous wedding weekend in which I ate with reckless abandon, I awoke Sunday morning knowing that my cousin was now married, and I badly needed to get in a run. (Even with this six mile jaunt, I still gained seven pounds from Friday morning to Monday morning.)

I could tell that I had been pushing myself a bit too hard both with lack of sleep and far too much food when I started out. I was sluggish and slow, but it was a beautiful morning, and I was excited to get out into it.

I had never run in Grand Junction before, and wasn't really sure where I was going when I started out, so I just began to move West. Then, after reviewing the map a little, I saw that the Colorado River was just ab tiny bit north, so I headed that direction guessing I might find something worth seeing. That was a solid move, as there are a good number of trails along the river, so I followed them, stopping every so often to check out the engorged Colorado which is living proof of just how much rain the state has received in the past month. It was raging and overflowing it's banks, which was pretty cool to view.

At one point near the river, I found this sculpture, and I immediately knew what I'd be using for this post. This piece of art is one of the most chrome things I've ever seen. It's shiny artificial nature contrasted greatly with all the verdant lushness by which it was surrounded. It looked super cool. I took about ten pictures of it to make sure that I'd get something that I could use.

One last thing that amused me happened right after I crossed a bridge over the Colorado to head back towards my Aunt's house. As I was walking up the path along the bank of the river, I turned and saw a little white housecat that was stalking me. It was hunched down and following me stealthily with it's eyes. If I were a mouse, I'd be terrified, but seeing as I'm a 6'3 dude, it merely amused me. Thankfully, the cat decided against pouncing, so I never had to officially defend myself.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Two Hundred Ninety

June 5, 2015
7.34 Miles in 1:10:33
Mood: Green
Soundtrack: Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip "Angles" / Twenty One Pilots "Blurryface"

The fact that it rained nearly nonstop in May was aggravating, but if there is a good side to it...Colorado is greener than I can ever remember it, and it's really beautiful. It's a bit odd, as this arid state of mine is legitimately humid right now. Not Arkansas in August humid, but way more moist than we mountain folk are used to dealing with. Thankfully, it's not become so hot that the humidity is bothersome yet, and it'll probably dry up as the summer advances, but we Coloradans find ourselves in a weird green lush world right now, and I'm rather enjoying it.

Not much to post about apart from this lovely photo from the Highline Canal Trail, but I did have one very odd experience on my run today. I saw a man in a blue hoodie with his hood up, and I was able to track him for about two or three minutes, and during that entire time, he was staring nonstop at sprinklers spraying water onto a lawn. He was transfixed. Several people passed him by, and he never broke he gaze to look around, he just continued in his trance. It was like he was in a passionate love affair with irrigation. I couldn't explain it if I tried. Just a weird moment on an otherwise pleasant but forgettable run.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Two Hundred Eighty-Nine

June 4, 2015
8.81 Miles in 1:24:22
Mood: All Turned Around
Soundtrack: Deadcast / Twenty One Pilots "Blurryface"

I was in an area which I am quite familiar, but approaching it from an odd angle, and got a bit turned around. One wrong turn, and suddenly I became more and more confused as to where I was, and since I was running eastward, but thought I was heading towards the west, every glance at my map was more and more confounding. I finally got my bearings after about a mile, and after looping around a nice trail, found myself debating if I wanted to take the route I originally was planning on, as that would make my anticipated 7 mile run be almost 9 miles. I decided to push myself, and I was glad I did, because I ended up seeing this cool backyard that backs up to the Highline Canal Trail, and saw the morning light hitting these purple flowers perfectly. As always, it was more beautiful in person than in a picture, but even the picture turned out pretty well.

I've started out June strong, which is good, since there are a lot of distractions coming up in the month to try and prevent me from reaching 100 miles for the 18th straight month, but four days in, I'm over 18 miles already, so things are trending in the right direction, and after two awesome runs in a row, I'm thinking maybe I perform better when I'm worried I might not reach a goal...maybe everyone performs better that way...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Two Hundred Eighty-Eight

June 2, 2015
9.25 Miles in 1:30:07
Mood: Strong and Happy.
Soundtrack: The Film Vault and 99% Invisible

I was a little confused by this yard art, as it's a pretty nice windmill which appears to be created out of a mailbox, however, it has been displayed oddly. It faces away from the driveway, and there is a tree (seen on the right edge of the photo) that mostly blocks the view of the windmill from the street. So in order to get a good view of this decoration, you pretty much need to be on the lawn. (Yes, I went on the lawn to take the photo.) Why go to the trouble of having a windmill in your yard if you're going to make it so difficult for anyone to be able to see it?

As for today's jaunt. I felt really good, and pushed myself to the edge of downtown Littleton. My speeds were super fast, but they were quicker than I've been lately, and I took only a small handful of breaks. I felt amazing throughout the entirety of the run. I covered nine miles running for the first time in a while, which was cool, since I am going to be so busy in June, that I'm worried I'm going to have trouble reaching 100 miles for the 18th straight month. A nine mile start is a good way to kick off the month, and hopefully portends of a strong month in a busy time.

Two Hundred Eighty-Seven

May 31, 2015
5.04 Miles in 49:37
Mood: Exploring new paths
Soundtrack: LCS Hockey Show

I'm taking part in a team challenge at work, which might be the only reason that this run happened. The team challenge involves 30 groups of seven people from my company all logging their total number of footsteps each day in an effort to get more active. I had already achieved my 100 mile goal for May, but my total steps for Sunday were rather low. Plus, I had skipped my Friday run in an effort to heal up my agitated rib. I was torn between wanting to go and wanting to keep healing up, but the notion of getting enough steps in for the day to make myself look good in the team challenge pushed me towards running.

As I often do on Sundays, I started out this run at Wash Park. However, I headed in a direction that I had never really been before, as I had a target in mind. I saw a statue on Instagram that I previously didn't know existed, and I felt like trying to find it. I had Googled it's location, and realized it wasn't too far from Wash Park, so I started heading in that direction. The statue in question is today's photo, and it's an awesome dog that is created with some manner of framework covered in shiny dog tags. This method gives it the cool chrome looking texture, I was immediately a big fan. It stands in front of the Denver Animal Shelter, and I continue to believe and have my belief reinforced that Denver has the coolest public art.

On my way back, I realized that I was really close to the giant yellow thing that is easily seen from I-25, but which I had only ever seen from the highway. So after just discovering the dog, I then made my way to the Articulated Wall and made it a two for one cool statue day on my run.

I ran out of gas on the way back to my car, and eventually stopped trying to push myself and walked the final half mile or so back to the car through the park. I believe the big culprit was a slightly low blood sugar, and ever since I fell down with a hyper low blood sugar a little over a week ago, I'm a little gun shy about pushing through a low. Fortunately, I easily made it back to the car, and I stopped at Wendy's for a Kid's Size Frosty, which hit the spot and took care of the low.

It was a short run, but I managed to squeeze in a good portion of adventure in such a short outing, so it was totally worth it. Good run for the sites, not as much for the exercise, but I'll take it.