Friday, July 31, 2015

Three Hundred Eighteen

July 31, 2015
6.71 Miles in 1:05:58
Mood: Sluggish
Soundtrack: Cold War Kids "Robbers & Cowards" and "Hold My Home"

If you look closely at the photo above, you might see a goat. I walked into a front yard that was surrounded by a white picket fence to get this photo, so I hope you enjoy it.

This was a slow run. For good portions of the expedition, it was more of a walk than a run. Yet somehow, the sixth mile was run in under 9 minutes, which was quite surprising. My legs felt like cinder blocks. In fact, in the home stretch of this run due to my heavy legs, I actually tripped over a speed bump and tumbled to the ground. My second such fall in the past two weeks. I'm not too much worse for wear as a result, my hand got a few tiny scrapes, but mostly just my pride was hurt. Although seriously, two falls in less than two weeks? That is ridiculous.

My favorite moment of this run happened when I was right next to the Littleton Farm Museum. I saw two squirrels engaged in what looked like a territory dispute. It was either that, or one of the squirrels was trying to romance the other. Who can tell with squirrels? They kept jumping on each other and then trying to climb a tree. I walked over and took a video, at which point both squirrels forgot about each other, perched about two feet up the tree, and cautiously stared at me in bewilderment. They weren't sure if they should run or pose, and it was pretty hilarious. One of them started twirling his tail in circles like the rotors of an outboard motor. I was amused.

As I circled the sidewalk that surrounds the eastern edge of Ketring Lake, I also had a bit of deja vu from my Tuesday run. On that run, I passed four ladies walking the same direction as me, then a friendly dog leapt at me, and finally I passed another dog on that sidewalk being walked by a very bored looking man. On this run, in almost all the exact same places on the sidewalk, I passed four elderly ladies walking the same direction as me on the path, then a dog leapt at me, then I passed another dog being walked by a very bored looking man. It was eerie.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Three Hundred Seventeen

July 30, 2015
8.53 Miles in 1:23:16
Mood: Just pounding out a solid run like a boss.
Soundtrack: Langhorne Slim and The Law "The Way We Move" and "Langhorne Slim" and "Be Set Free"

This guy is totally a Farmers Insurance agent, and to truly bring that point home...BANG...tractor on the lawn of his business. That my friends is farmer credibility!

This was an Energizer Bunny run....I just kept going and going and going. It felt great, even if it kept me out a bit longer than I should have been. This run pushed me over 100 miles for July, bringing my 100 mile month streak to 19 straight months.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Three Hundred Sixteen

July 28, 2015
8.26 Miles in 1:17:07
Mood: New shoes are making my feet happy.
Soundtrack: Barenaked Ladies "Disc One: All Their Greatest Hits (1991-2001)" and "Rock Spectacle"

Oh the glory that is a new pair of running shoes. My old pair had been run into the ground. It was getting to the point that my legs were feeling the ill effects every time I went out. Old running shoes slow your running speeds, make your recovery time longer, and they just generally feel icky. I bought a new pair over the weekend, and this was my first outing with them, and they responded like champs. I was able to run longer and faster and I felt amazing when I was finished. There are few small things that are any better than getting out in a new pair of running shoes.

Today's photo comes from an area that is replete with white marble statues. This particular statue is super close to the nude woman statue from post 281. In fact, the blue house in the background of this photo is the house where that statue is located, and both of these statues are only a few blocks east of the crazy looking Native American statue from post 110. This particular statue is honestly a little boring, but it does look classy in this yard...which is well manicured and aesthetically pleasing. It's easily the least jarring of the marble statues in this area.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Three Hundred Fifteen

July 25, 2015
7.78 Miles in 1:16:16
Mood: Summertime, and the livin's easy...unless you get a low blood sugar.
Soundtrack: Bad Veins "The Mess We've Made" and "Bad Veins" / Band of Horses "Cease to Begin" / Bright Eyes "Cassadaga"

With the kids in Arizona and my wife spending the day at work, I had all the time in the world to spend on my running outing this Saturday. I took advantage by beginning at Sloan's Lake, and then just went where the winds (and my legs) took me.

Mostly they took me West into Lakewood/Edgewater, and I discovered places I had never seen. (Such as the world's longest cemetery.) There is an Olinger's Cemetery that I thought would never end as I ran down 26th Ave. It is impressively long, there is plenty of room for all of the people who are dying to get in there. (Play on words!)

This was an odd run, as a little over halfway through, my blood sugar dipped to the point that I had to start walking rather than running. I didn't feel terribly low, but I definitely didn't want to push it with hardcore exercise, so I walked for quite a while (It's why the sixth mile on the map is so long, as the running app was paused.) I finally found a Wal-Mart...salvation to so many including me and my low blood sugar. I bought a Hershey's bar, a bottle of water and a banana, and a few minutes later, I was back on my game. I never felt rushed, because I pretty had all day to be out if I wanted, so I didn't feel the need to get finished up and arrive somewhere else. That was a nice feeling.

The weirdest moment of the run probably happened when I approached Casa Bonita from the West. In all the years I have lived in Colorado, I have been to Casa Bonita many many times, but never have I approached it from the West side. Honestly, I'm not sure I would have believed you if you had told me that there was anything West of Casa Bonita...there is just no reason to go that far West on Colfax. Yet, there was the familiar pink tower with a gold dome sticking it's head up over the shopping center. I knew what it was, but it struck me as super odd to see it...even as I knew it was going to be arriving on the horizon.

Today's picture comes from Crown Hill Lake, which had a lovely path to run along, and as I was traversing it, suddenly this exceptionally beautiful scene just appeared. I stopped to admire it and take a picture, and I pretty much knew it was going to be the picture for this run...even though I had previously taken some pretty great pictures of a Firetruck Mailbox (which was amazing) and a sign for a Doll Hospital (which was amazingly creepy). I also knew that Casa Bonita was in my future, and still...this cool lake scene won the day because it's really pretty!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Three Hundred Fourteen

July 23, 2015
7.02 Miles in 1:07:06
Mood: Finding steps pretty
Soundtrack: TV on the Radio "Dear Science" and "Seeds"

I was thinking today that I have been hitting the Highline Canal pretty heavily in the past few months. There is a good and a bad side to this...the good part of it is that it's a wonderful place to run and makes for some really nice outings free from traffic and streets, then downside is that my runs become somewhat repetitive and the opportunity for exploration is diminished.

As much as I love finding new and odd things to photograph and write about, the wonderful refuge of the trail usually wins out. I think I hit them harder in the summer because I know I can. Once winter hits, I often have to go weeks without trails, as snow causes my happy place to become muddy, messy, and completely unnavigable for long stretches of time. I do wonder: Do I find more interesting things during winter? Perhaps so, but I'm going to ride out this beautiful summer weather for as long as I can.

Today's picture came just as I was leaving the Highline Canal after just over four miles of almost exclusive trail running. There is a tiny little bridge that is largely covered with foliage that precedes this awesome set of stairs. If you don't know to look for it, it would be very possible to miss this exit from the trail. I think these stairs are a work of art, even though there is nothing overly remarkable about them, they just look cool in their setting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Three Hundred Thirteen

July 21, 2015
6.50 Miles in 1:01:27
Mood: Inadvertently Creepy
Soundtrack: Gary Jules "Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets" / Good Old War "Come Back as Rain"

I made my running outing awkward completely unintentionally this morning, and I was only saved by the beauty of clouds. I stopped for a brief moment less than a mile in, as I wasn't feeling good about the music I was rocking, so I started looking for something new. As I played DJ on my phone, a woman ran past me. I found a musical selection I was happy with, and then I started back on the trail. The woman was running at a good clip just few paces ahead of me, but just a tiny bit slower than my usual running pace.

After about two minutes, I caught up to her, and I intended to keep at the same pace and pass her. However, I think she took my passing attempt as a personal challenge, and she sped up. I had gotten about two feet ahead of her, and didn't want her to pass me up so soon after I passed her, so I sped up in the hopes that I could outpace her. We both sped up to a really fast pace, while refusing to acknowledge each other despite the fact that we were running side by side at the exact same speed like we were the oldest of friends out on a run together. It was weird.

After about three quarters of a mile, I was feeling creepy. I wasn't trying to impress this girl or get her phone number or anything, obviously, but I felt like she might have thought I was trying to hook up with her. I didn't want to be a creeper, even unintentionally, and right at the moment I thought to myself that I might be really freaking this woman out. Just then, I noticed the beautiful scene in the photo above. I stopped and let her disappear in the distance while I took a picture of this bucolic scene on the side of the trail. I've never been happier to see awesome clouds. I took a little extra time to let her escape so far away that I'd never need to see her again, and then resumed feeling much less weird about my morning run. (Although I resumed at a much slower pace than the previous three quarters of a mile had been run.)

The other moment of interest from this run happened when I saw someone walking their dog down a path in an area that I had never thought was an actual trail. I passed the man with the dog and soon found myself traversing what appeared to be little more than a rabbit trail along a stream. After walking along the stream a bit (the ground was too uneven to run), I emerged in the middle of a large equestrian park complete with a sizable number of piles of horse poop. I avoided the droppings, and continued on my rabbit trail, and eventually emerged onto a residential street where the average price of each home was probably several million dollars. Their back yards are equestrian parks, for crying out loud. I realized the reason I had never thought that this direction was an actual trail before is because it wasn't. I was quite happy when I finally found myself back on Orchard Road, and continued West, resolved never to try and explore in that area again. It was beautiful, but the whole time I was there, I was worried I'd be confronted by someone wondering what I was doing there. That's not a relaxing feeling.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Three Hundred Twelve

July 19, 2015
9.06 Miles in 1:29:10
Mood: On the artful beginning of a silly quest to take a lot of steps
Soundtrack: Twenty One Pilots "Vessel" and "Blurryface"

When I was a kid, the go to reference for the worst part of town was Five Points. My parents would talk about Five Points like it was Beirut. I felt like if I ever ended up there, chances were fifty-fifty that I would survive. Times have clearly changed, as I found myself running in a new direction, and suddenly I was in the midst of Five Points, and it was awesome.

The section of Five Points I went through looked like an art bomb had gone off. I found myself touring an alley where every inch of available wall space was covered with amazing spray paint murals. This cowboy mural was one of my favorites, but there were a ton of cool ones to view. I found myself taking a good 15 minutes to view all of the amazing art on display on the walls surrounding a random parking lot. It put me in such a good mood to have so much coolness on display to view for free. As I headed Southwest towards Downtown, I had a big dumb smile on my face.

I saw a lot of different parts of town on this run, from City Park to Five Points, to the Sixteenth Street Mall to the Capitol to Colfax and finally back to City Park. It is amazing how many different feeling neighborhoods there are in such a small area.

I was taking a longer run, as my entire family was out of town, so I was all alone with no one that was waiting on me to return, so I took my sweet time investigating places and I decided to take a pretty long 9 mile run. There was a reason I went so far beyond just feeling good...This run began my Sunday quest to exceed 50,000 steps in a single day. My previous high had been around 36,000 steps, and I was looking to crush that number. It took an insane amount of running, hiking, and walking, but by the time I went to bed Sunday night I finished with 55,403 steps and some very sore feet.

Three Hundred Eleven

July 17, 2015
6.33 Miles in 59:50
Mood: Short winded
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / Of Montreal "Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?"

Lawn Lions don't go swimming. This feels like false advertising. Except that I guess they aren't advertising. It's more like a celebration of summer. A celebration where lawn ornaments are expected to go swimming? Seems unlikely.

I don't have much to say about this run, obviously.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Three Hundred Ten

July 16, 2015
6.24 Miles in 57:36
Mood: Focused and Determined
Soundtrack: Lupe Fiasco "Lasers" and "The Cool"

I had plans for today's lunch which would require me to take much more time off the clock running errands than I usually take for lunch, so to make up for it, I was determined to get into work earlier than normal today. I also was determined to still get in a decent run which meant that I would need to pick up the pace a bit today or just take a shorter run.

That determination to get back early led to me taking a slightly shorter run than usual, but at a much faster pace. I only stopped to rest or take a picture a tiny handful of times, and got back before 7:30 (when I often get back around 8) while still getting a full 10K in.

I somewhat cheated with today's photo, as I knew exactly where I was headed all run. I went to Cherryvale Street because I knew at the end of that street is this tree with a Santa face on it. I have no clue the significance of the Santa, but it amused me that it's up year round. So happy Christmas in July, everyone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Three Hundred Nine

July 14, 2015
7.51 Miles in 1:11:55
Mood: Looking at real stuff
Soundtrack: Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip "Repent Replenish Repeat" and "Angles" / Blues Traveler "Suzie Cracks the Whip"

Some people think you don't need to leave the comfort of your own home to see the world. To them, looking at pictures on your computer is sufficient to get a handle on what the world has to offer. Photos definitely can open up new worlds, especially if the photographer is good, but they are no substitute for being there. This is a constant annoyance of mine, as sometimes I see things that I want to capture, but a camera (especially something as small as an iPhone camera) just isn't sufficient for the job. Such was the case this morning, as I found myself on a hill in the middle of the Willow Creek Open Space on a glorious morning with some amazing clouds, cool mountains, and lush green fields surrounding me. I took a bunch of pictures, and while I like this one I'm does a weak job actually conveying how amazing this hill felt this morning. Get out into the world and look around, don't let photographers do it for you.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Three Hundred Eight

July 12, 2015
7.81 Miles in 1:14:12
Mood: Questioning church living arrangement and feeling cheeky.
Soundtrack: Everclear "So Much For the Afterglow" / Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip "Angles"

It was obviously a church building at one point, but now there is a sign next to the front door which proclaims "Private Residence". So yes, apparently someone decided to buy an old church building and turn it into their house. This seems like an odd decision to me, as old churches are often cool places to explore and visit, but rarely do they seem like an ideal home. Seems like there would be a lot of open space that would be hard to fill and make the place seem homey, and it also feels like there would be a lot of baggage that comes along with living in a building that is so obviously a church. The worst of which would be,  I would think, people arriving to try and attend services. So many people that in fact it becomes necessary to place a "Private Residence" sign on the front of your house. If the architecture of  your home doesn't make it painfully obvious that it's your home and not a collective place of worship, you're making questionable decisions with your living arrangements. Oh well, I hope they're happy there.

As for this run, it felt great. I didn't really explore a ton of new areas, but enough to feel like I'm seeing new things. I also discovered a great place to take a selfie with the ultra exclusive Denver Country Club golf course in the background. (See above) I was rather pleased with how cheeky this picture turned out, since I felt pretty silly taking it. Silly, but pleased with myself at the same time.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Three Hundred Seven

June 10, 2015
7.35 Miles in 1:10:37
Mood: Clear headed and non-photo taking
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / Ben Folds "Rockin' the Suburbs"

My mind was as clear as the sky this morning. Finally the haze and clouds lifted, and for once this week, not a cloud in the sky as I headed out. I have recently found myself taking fewer pictures, but today was ridiculous. I only took three, and I might have only taken one if I didn't take a couple near the end of my run when I saw a guy on the Highline Canal trail also taking a picture. I'm not entirely sure what he saw that was worth taking, as the two pictures I took were okay but nothing special...I ended up using my earlier picture of the mountains and clear skies.

Not much else exciting happened on this outing...the biggest moment of excitement was when a guy on a bike stopped me. I thought he was going to ask for some money, so I was non-plussed, but it turned out that he just wanted to know what time it was...which was easy enough info to provide.

Three Hundred Six

June 9, 2015
7.49 Miles in 1:12:36
Mood: Just lookin' at flowers.
Soundtrack: The Film Vault

It's a little ironic to find such wonderful sunflowers on a cloudy and hazy day such as this, but I managed to do so. They were easily the most scenic thing I found to photograph on this run, although I did manage to find several nice patches of flowers.

Oddly, I also discovered two little libraries on this run that I had never seen before. I am amazed at how many of these are scattered around Littleton, even with as many different streets as I run, I still find new ones on occastion. These "libraries" are small little enclosed bookcases where folks are encouraged to take or leave a book. My favorite thing to do when I see these look for the first book title of which I take notice. The first one I spotted had a relatively dull sounding "Zone-Perfect Meals in Minutes" It's a little confusing, as I have no idea what a zone perfect meal is, but when you boil it down, it's a cookbook...something that seems like it should no longer exist in the age of the internet and the ubiquitous recipes that come with it. The second library had a more interesting title that I first noticed in, "Hell Hath No Fury". I don't know what the book is about, but it's bound to be more interesting that a cookbook, right?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Three Hundred Five

July 7, 2015
7.28 Miles in 1:10:55
Mood: Pondering automation while enjoying wooden birds.
Soundtrack: 99% Invisible / Florence + The Machine "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful"

There is a weird fog hanging over Denver this week. It moved in on Monday morning, and it's been here ever since. It's apparently smoke from a fire that is raging in Canada, which seems insane to me, but that's what people are saying. It made for a very odd looking world in which to run. July 7th usually is warmer and sunnier, but it was downright chilly when I started and only warmed up a slight bit by the end.

I felt pretty good as I ran, but my pace was fairly slow. I was listening to podcasts about automation and how it can both make life easier, but cause skills to erode. The particular case being discussed was that of an airline crash caused by pilot error when autopilot failed. The pilots had become so accustomed to flying automatically that they were unable to figure out that they were stalling out, causing the plane to crash. Generally automation makes life easier, but it also can degrade people's ability to know how to do things. The second podcast on automation dealt with the approaching potential of self-driving cars, and the possibility that in 50 years (or less) we may think of driving ourselves in cars the way that people today consider driving a horse and carriage...quaint and antiquated.

The podcasts kept my brain engaged, but my speeds remained low until I swapped over to Florence + The Machine, at which point running to music increased my speeds by about 40 seconds per mile. I'm always amazed at how music can make such a difference in motivation and endurance. It's powerful stuff.

The picture for today came just before I switched over to music, there is an awesome tree with all these wooden birds attached by some anonymous artist who made the world just a tiny fraction better by putting some random art out into the world.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Three Hundred Four

July 5, 2015
7.82 Miles in 1:18:10
Mood: Getting back in the groove
Soundtrack: Walk the Moon "Talking is Hard" / Ed Sheeran "X"

My original plan for this Sunday morning was to head up to Wash Park and run towards Cherry Creek to scout out the Cherry Creek Arts Festival, but after driving about 15 minutes north from home, I realized that I had forgotten my phone. I didn't want to run without my running tracker or tunes, so I turned around and headed back home to retrieve it.

My wife was planning on heading to work at 10:00, so I had a deadline. After wasting half an hour driving, I didn't have time to get in a full run near Cherry Creek, so I decided to drive to another park that has proven to be a pretty solid starting place for runs...Ketring Park. I headed to the West and then the South, and ended up jogging along the South Platte.

I had been back in Denver from camp for a day, but my mind was still largely in camp mode. It takes a bit of time to get yourself snapped back into a normal rhythm after a week at camp. Running certainly helped, as I got in a seven mile first run in a week. It was amazing to see my family again, and it was nice to be back running, but there was definitely a part of me missing the fun and challenge of camp.

I found several new places I had never run before, and it was fun to be out an exploring. My favorite find of the day was this frog statue on the side of the South Platte. I think I'm glad I ended up missing out on the Wash Park scene for this run, as there was something serene and necessary about this run that would have been missing in the more urban setting a bit further north.

Three Hundred Three

June 28, 2015
7.07 Miles in 1:02:21
Mood: Anticipatory
Soundtrack: Twenty One Pilots "Vessel"

I was mere hours away from departing for Royal Family Kids Camp. I didn't need any more mileage to reach my June goal, and camp can be a draining affair. I had considered abandoning my Sunday run, but I knew that I wouldn't get another chance to go for a full week. So I headed towards Wash Park to get in a few laps. Although I usually avoid just circling the park, but my mind was focused on camp and I didn't feel like getting creative. There was something soothing about just running the park path. The gorgeous day and solid run put my mind in the right place for a week of camp.