Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Four Hundred Thirty-Nine

March 29, 2016
5.85 Miles in 58:44
Mood: Bark bait
Soundtrack: The Gist / Walking Dead 'Cast

Travel and early mornings and time changes and poor sleep all caught up to me on this run. I was so tired, and I knew it pretty early on. I pushed through, because my goal was to go over 100 miles for March on this run, and I managed to do so. The 100 mile month streak is now at 27 consecutive months.

The most memorable moment of this run came at around the 3 mile mark when I ran around a loop that I had never before traversed. There are a limited number of streets in my running range that I have never checked out before, but this one is fairly isolated and you have to truly WANT to see it. You're not going to accidentally stumble upon it. I noticed it on the map in the past, and was in the area on this morning, so I decided to check it out.

This loop includes a sizable hill, and I wasn't really feeling all that glad about deciding to check it out. Then I got to the very south end of it, and encountered this house with a large pig statue just outside the front door. A large pig statue is just the sort of thing that I live to see in front of someone's house, so I was excited.

However, as I approached, I noticed the large dogs in the front window, and more importantly they noticed me. I wasn't afraid that they would attack...they were inside the house for crying out loud, but they were already barking at me, and if I got close enough to take a picture at close range of the pig, I was worried that the occupants of the home would investigate and wonder why I was on their front lawn taking pictures. Rather than getting close enough to get a good picture of the pig, I stopped and took a photo that included both the pig and the barking canines. Someday I hope to be able to sneak up on this home and get a good picture of the pig, but for now, here is a photo of the pig from a distance and two large barking dogs.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Four Hundred Thirty-Eight

March 27, 2016
7.15 Miles in 1:07:33
Mood: Equal parts nervous and inspired
Soundtrack: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

This was a rare and wonderful opportunity to add a new state to the roll call of the Run and Shoot blog. Over the four hundred and thirty-eight posts I have posted about runs in Colorado, Kansas, Washington, South Dakota, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, and now I have bagged Iowa!

There was a air of nervous energy to this run. I woke up at 5:30, didn't get on the mean streets of Des Moines until 6:01, and I had to be back to my wife's Aunt and Uncle's house, fully bathed and clean and ready for breakfast with family by 8:00. Add to that time constraint the fact that my phone didn't charge overnight, so as I started out that morning my phone was only at 44% charged as I was running through a city that I am wholly unfamiliar with. If my phone died while I was out running, I'd be stuck with no means to contact anyone in a place that I did not know well.

I honestly considered for a moment scrapping the run since I was a little worried that I wouldn't have enough time to get a long run in and I was really worried about my phone's battery. I walked outside the house and then went to turn back in with the notion of potentially grabbing my mobile phone battery charger or maybe just abandoning the idea of running altogether, but the door locked behind me and I couldn't get back in to grab it. Rather than sitting on the front porch until someone else woke up, I threw caution to the wind and decided to get my tenth state under my belt.

I found myself considering my route carefully and studying the map well so that just in case my phone did die, I would know how to get back. I also checked my phone more often than I usually do to check on the battery life. It was draining more slowly than I expected, which was a blessing. I also found that due to the low altitude with the accompanying high amounts of oxygen gave my stamina a boost and I was able to just keep on moving without having to stop much at all.

Des Moines was a much more interesting setting for a run than Naperville, so kudos to Iowa. I found varied houses, nice trails and streams, hills, and all manner of trees. Most of the run happened during the early hours of morning, so the light wasn't perfect to take pictures for most of the run. Despite seeing some cool stuff, I wasn't getting any blog worthy photos. Then, about six miles into the run, I saw a Stegosaurus in someone's front yard, and I knew immediately what the blog post would be featuring for a photo. Thank God for Iowans with dinosaurs in their yards!

Four Hundred Thirty-Seven

March 25, 2016
8.19 Miles in 1:17:45
Mood: Considering Naperville while others discuss Jerry Seinfeld.
Soundtrack: The Gist / The After Disaster / Judge John Hodgman

After barely escaping a Colorado blizzard and spending nearly 20 hours driving through Nebraska and Iowa, I was overdue for a run. We were in Naperville, Illinois for my wife's grandfather's 100th birthday celebration, and after sleeping in, I had time Friday morning to pound some Chicagoland cement.

Naperville isn't an ugly place, but it's not terribly interesting to look at either. There is a sameness about it that rendered me looking for anything good to photograph for the blog. Mostly it's lots of nice conservative homes (with far less wacky flair than I so often find in Colorado), and there are a lot of green parks with large retention basins everywhere to keep the neighborhoods from flooding. The amount of standing water is shocking for someone from the Western United States, where water rights are highly contentious and the idea that there would be extra water just sitting around because there is no other place for it to go is just weird.

I took pictures of several retention basins, but they just aren't that attractive. They tend to be small ponds surrounded by gravel in the midst of green fields. Sounds like it would be picturesque, but something about it just isn't. I was worried that I wouldn't find anything worth using as a photo until about five miles in when I found the trail locals call "The Prairie Path". It was by far the most beautiful stretch I found while on this run, even if the trail itself isn't quite as well manicured and suited for running as the Highline Canal is. Some parts, like the area in the picture above, were downright pretty.

The strangest part of this run came from the fact that I listened to three different and unrelated podcasts on this outing and all three of them had rather in depth discussions about Jerry Seinfeld. It's always a little weird when that happens. I remember a few years ago I was listening to two separate and unrelated podcasts where the topic of dogs eating kangaroos came up on both the same day. This wasn't THAT weird, but it was still strange to get so much Seinfeld talk.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Four Hundred Thirty-Six

March 22, 2016
6.21 Miles in 1:00:30
Mood: Tired but happy
Soundtrack: The Walking Dead 'Cast / The Gist / Jordan, Jesse, Go!

After two straight nights of not great sleep, I awoke this morning feeling a little bit lethargic. I was determined to make the best of it, even though I knew I wasn't at my strongest. Less than a mile in, and I knew this was going to be one of those runs with large chunks of walking. I was tired, but I was still happy to be out. It was a beautiful morning, and even if I couldn't run the whole time, it was nice to be out.

One of the clearest signs that I was not feeling strong was fact that I barely took any pictures on this run. Often times if I'm walking a lot, I'll have more time to see things as I move slowly, and I'll take more pictures. Today, I was in a daze and just enjoying the warm and happy morning, so when I got home, I had only snapped three photos. (To give some perspective on this, I took 32 pictures on my Sunday run.) Thankfully one of the pictures was taken very early on in the run when the sun had not yet risen, and the world was this beautiful shade of blue. This made it easy to decide which picture to use. It's nice to have an awesome option when there are only a few options.

Four Hundred Thirty-Five

March 20, 2016
9.03 Miles in 1:23:59
Mood: Taking in the spray painted art.
Soundtrack: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

The remnants of a snowy Friday were everywhere, but it was a beautiful day. When I started out, there were snowmen standing in a field of snow in Cheesman Park, but two hours later when I got back, the snowmen were still there, but all the snow had melted, leaving the snowmen standing on grass. It was a dramatically fast melting of snow, and was quite jarring to see.

I also suffered from expectations of cold. It was a chilly morning when I started out, so I wore a hoodie, but twenty minutes into the run, I was greatly regretting this overkill. I was really sweaty, and the hoodie was not helping.

Larimer is quickly becoming one of my favorite streets to run on. It is home to the 5 Points Art District, and there are so many cool graffiti walls everywhere. The technical brilliance of people with spray paint is unbelievable. The art is really fun to take in, and it changes every few months, so there is always something new to see. I ran all the way up to 37th Avenue and through some North Denver neighborhoods that were a little underwhelming, but just as I was getting ready to head south towards City Park, I saw a bright orange and blue building. This being Denver, I had a feeling that it was Bronco related, because just about everything orange and blue in Denver is. I wasn't disappointed. I found Lucero's Mexican Food. The restaurant was closed, but the outside of the building was the real story for me. There were all manner of Bronco themed spray painted shenanigans going on here. The quality of the art was not remotely as good as what I saw on Larimer, but because it was Bronco themed, I let it slide. I posted my favorite section of the wall for today's picture...four white horses standing near an oddly proportioned goal post with stars surrounding them. Pretty good stuff!

I finished up heading south and running through City Park and then back to Cheesman. It was a very quickly paced nine miles, and I felt amazing throughout. This was a glorious Sunday run!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Four Hundred Thirty-Four

March 17, 2016
7.75 Miles in 1:14:37
Mood: Sleepy and frightening rabbits.
Soundtrack: 99% Invisible / The Mediocre Show / Rise Against "Siren Song of the Counter Culture"

Two runs into daylight savings time, and I'm still not quite used to it. This morning was particularly rough. Dragging myself out of bed practically took an act of Congress, and I groggily stumbled my way through my morning routine. Getting up an hour earlier than I did last week for a tradition that has outlasted it's usefulness is getting my nerves. My clock might say that it's 5:30, but my body clock vehemently disagrees, and my body knows what's up.

I started out at a slow pace, but feeling pretty good, and after I shook the sleepiness, I found myself grateful to be alive and running. Spring is near, and it's like someone alerted the rabbits. I saw SO MANY RABBITS this morning. They were everywhere. The best rabbit moment was as I was running down this residential street and this skittish bunny kept running in the gutter of the curb in the same direction I was going. It was like he was trying to run away from me, but rather than just angling away from me towards someone's yard, he kept running twenty feet further down the street, and then kept getting annoyed that he had to keep running away from me. We did this little dance for three quarters of a block to my great amusement. Of course, the bunny was probably close to a heart attack because bunnies are high strung. Hopefully he's resting now.

I ended my run listening to Rise Against, and every time I listen to this album in particular, it makes me smile a little. This was their mainstream breakthrough album, although the song that really hit it big was the gentle ballad "Swing Life Away." This makes me laugh, because the rest of this album is some rather angry punk rock music, and I am amused to think of the many people who probably bought the album expecting to hear more songs like "Swing Life Away" and instead got that song and eleven other screamy punk songs.

Four Hundred Thirty-Three

March 15, 2015
7.23 Miles in 1:10:25
Mood: Commute-y
Soundtrack: The Gist / Jordan, Jesse, Go!

This was one of those runs with a purpose. My car was in the shop, and I had to be at work, so rather than make Jen get up early and take me, I just made myself a run commuter. I took a mildly circuitous route, as running straight there isn't quite long enough of a run for me and would have also forced me to spend large amounts of time on large roads that are unfun to run upon. The majority of this run felt like I was pushing myself through neighborhoods uphill. Lots of hills in this direction, but also lots of interesting little rabbit trails to divert myself down and see where they go.

I was able to do a fair bit of discovery, including this front yard lighthouse. If I hadn't already discovered this lightouse, I might have been impressed with this American Flag themed job. As far as weird things in a front yard go, this is pretty good, but it pales in comparison with the other lighthouse several miles west which might be an actual working lighthouse.

This is the first run I made since the time change, and I could definitely feel that I was running earlier. I had less energy, and felt a bit spent. It wasn't a terrible run, I felt okay for most of it, but I definitely was tired and slightly slower than I have been recently. I'm blaming that on losing an hour's sleep and feeling like a dead man waking each time my alarm goes off thus far this week. This run was memorable, if for no other reason than it is only the third time I've ever run-commuted, and I enjoy doing that...even if the shower at work has the water pressure more fit for an elephant than a human, and the shower head is so low that I'm assuming it was installed by a 4'11 man. Oh well, at least it got me clean.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Four Hundred Thirty-Two

March 13, 2016
8.09 Miles in 1:13:25
Mood: Spring is springing and I'm loving it.
Soundtrack: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

This was a weird day. It was warm, although it looked like it should be freezing. The temps were in the 60's, and it was definitely shorts weather, but the sky looked like it might start snowing at any moment. It never did actually get cold, and although a little bit of sunshine would have been nice, I can't honestly complain about anything weather related on this run. It was a beautiful day, and any opportunity to run in shorts in early March is a okay by me.

I saw my first pink tree on this run. It wasn't overly pink, and the photo didn't turn out great, so we haven't officially hit pink tree season for the blog just yet, but it's coming! God bless spring.

This is the first time I have ever started a run at Wash Park, and made my way all the way up to City Park and back again. It's a bit of a run, but nothing impossible. I made my way through a bunch of cool Capitol Hill neighborhoods, and enjoyed a lovely afternoon of running. Today's photo comes from City Park, and I thought the boathouse looked pretty cool with those dramatic clouds behind it and those silly geese in front of it. I'm not a fan of geese, but they photograph well.

Four Hundred Thirty-One

March 11, 2016
6.60 Miles in 1:00:57
Mood: Wondering why we have to change the clocks.
Soundtrack: The Bill Simmons Podcast / 99% Invisible / The Memory Palace / Twenty-One Pilots "Blurryface"

I will miss the light. In a month or so, it'll be back, but with the coming weekend bringing the change back to daylight savings, I knew this would be the last time that the sun would grace me with it's presence for the entirety of my run for awhile. The fact that it was bright and beautiful almost from the instant I started running made me excited, and I know that the summer is coming and with it even more light and warmth, and I'll even be able to wear shorts. It's just this momentary setback due to a weird thing we do twice a year by intentionally screwing with our internal clocks for no real good reason is a tiny bit of a bummer.

Today's picture comes from about ten minutes into my run. The sun was out, and the path looked pretty, and I stopped just to take a picture of it.

I also ran around Ketring Lake on this morning, and there was a giant wall in a field nearby with what looked like oil drilling occurring right next to the lake. I have no clue what was going on, but it was ugly. I didn't like it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Four Hundred Thirty

March 9, 2016
7.19 Miles in 1:08:17
Mood: Admiring attempts to draw logos and laughing at human guitar riffs.
Soundtrack: LCS Hockey Show / 99% Invisible / The Allusionist / The Mediocre Show

Drawing the Denver Broncos logo is difficult. It doesn't look that complicated, but the angular geometric nature of the thing makes most hand-drawn efforts look weirdly lopsided. It's hard to balance it perfectly. While this is far from a perfect rendering, It's really not that terrible. I love when places show their support with non-official hand drawn efforts. This particular store window was on some little shop on Broadway, and I liked the charming non-official nature of it's Bronco pride.

The greatest moment of this run came as I was listening to a podcast, and a long time listener to the show called in a voicemail to the hosts asking if they could identify a song that had been used as intro music years ago. That caller then proceeded to sing the guitar riffs of the lyric-less song with great gusto. The music was practically indecipherable, but the humor of a man singing a guitar riff in the hopes that someone would recognize what he was doing was comedy gold. I had to pause my running app for a minute until I could compose my laughter. It was really funny.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Four Hundred Twenty-Nine

March 7, 2016
8.14 Miles in 1:16:45
Mood: Getting snowed on feels better when it's a day off
Soundtrack: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

My weather app betrayed me in the worst possible way on this run. It told me that the weather should be cloudy with temps in the 50's. So imagine my displeasure, as four miles into this run, it started snowing on me. The snow was intermittent and not terribly heavy, but it was cold and at times mixed with rain and by the time I was finished, I was both cold and wet. Despite this recipe for a cold, damp and miserable runner, I was actually in a pretty good mood when I was finished, because I was enjoying a day off on a random Monday when most of the world was at work. Even if you're cold and wet, getting to enjoy a run while the world works holds a certain level of pleasure.

I began running at City Park, and made my way through some neighborhoods that I've never seen in my life before. This trailer with the crazy paintings of women in the bathroom was parked across the street from Manuel High School, a place I had heard of, but had never before seen with my own eyes. The neighborhood felt a little sketchy, but I was glad I went through it, because there are all sorts of awesome pieces of art in the medium of spray paint in that area, and I'm glad I saw them.

From this neighborhood, I connected to the north end of the art district in Five Points. I discovered that cool wall with a girl on it I posted on 365 also has a similar forced perspective picture that you can see from the other side that features a boy done in just the same style on the other side of the corrugated wall. I'm sure that boy will get posted at some point in the future, because it's pretty excellent, but for now, enjoy this cool trailer and know that I had a great run on my day off, even if I got snowed on as I ran.

Four Hundred Twenty-Eight

March 6, 2016
7.71 Miles in 1:08:41
Mood: Hoping to see odd things
Soundtrack: Ben Folds "Rockin' the Suburbs" and "Way to Normal"

Running through Capitol Hill is a trip. It's a neighborhood where it is completely unsurprising to see an old timey bicycle as a yard decoration. In fact, the only surprising thing about encountering an old timey bike here is that there isn't someone with an ironic mustache riding it. I like this section of town quite a bit, and especially enjoy how free people feel to let their freak flag fly. I didn't see too much that was extremely unusual, but I like that there is always an air of expectancy that I COULD see something weird.

Apart from this old bicycle with a huge wheel, my other favorite thing I saw was an American flag that had been altered to be orange and blue, and featured a Bronco logo in the field of stars. That is a flag I am happy to salute! Broncomania is beginning to mellow out just a little, but this town is still definitely on a Super Bowl high a month later.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Four Hundred Twenty-Seven

March 4, 2016
4.28 Miles in 42:26
Mood: Wiped
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / Judge John Hodgman

After taking my daughter to the Avalanche hockey game the night before, and then having a rather poor night of sleep, I awoke this morning with serious doubts as to whether or not I should have tried going out running today. Part of me thought it'd just be better to get an extra hour of sleep and forego a run. After a few weeks of feeling pretty strong on runs, today's run was definitely weak. The combo of lack of sleep and today being a back to back meant I had nothing today.

I didn't feel disappointed with how little energy I had today, as there were plenty of reasons that would be the case and I have been doing quite well of late. It was weird just how bad I felt, though. I could feel the tiredness on virtually every step. I didn't stress about it too much, and just enjoyed the walk. It was a lovely morning, so just being a little active was fine...even if I ended up with just over four miles...truly a slacker.

Today's photo is a metal chicken from a home that had three of these lined up in their front yard. I don't know why you'd want metallic chickens in your yard, but there ya go...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Four Hundred Twenty-Six

March 3, 2016
7.48 Miles in 1:10:11
Mood: Enjoying some tunes and hitting the trails.
Soundtrack: 99% Invisible / Miley Cyrus "Wrecking Ball" / Counting Crows "Somewhere Under Wonderland"

At one point in this run, I listened to the Miley Cyrus song "Wrecking Ball" three times in a row. Miley Cyrus isn't an artist I'd normally allow my ears to associate, but darn it if I just can't help myself with this song. That is a good song. It's hard to get past her elfish look, but when you're just listening to the music, that song is just so good. Yes, I listened to it three consecutive times, and I'm not ashamed!

I also find myself enjoying the newest Counting Crows album. It's two years old, but I just learned that it existed, so it's new to me. I was reading about the head man of the Crows, Adam Duritz, and he apparently has a psychological disorder called Disassociative Disorder which makes it difficult for him to make and maintain human relationships, and suddenly his entire catalog of songs makes so much sense. I've always like Counting Crows, as there is something so heartfelt about the music in a, "I'm always looking, but can never seem to hold on to anything" kind of way. Now that I know about this disorder from the man who wrote the songs, they make even more sense. Not sure what is says about me that they speak to me so much, but I sure dig em, and this new album has a lot to enjoy.

The weather remains lovely, and the paths of the Highline Canal are thawed, and I'm loving the ability to run on them while I can during the winter. We are only one snow away from them being unpassable for weeks, but I'll enjoy the access while I can have it.

The photo for today's run came from a street that I rarely run down. I saw this awesome home painted birdhouse, and the amateurishness of it added to it's charm. I was really pleased with how the photo came out, too. The light was really nice for pictures today.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Four Hundred Twenty-Five

February 29, 2016
4.57 Miles in 34:34
Mood: Competitive
Soundtrack: The Bill Simmons Podcast

My brother Bruce has ramped up his running over the past few months, and by virtue of us both using the Nike running app, we are able to compare our total miles each month. I opened the app on Monday afternoon, and noticed that after he had synced all of his runs for February, he had 114 miles total, and I was sitting at 112 for February.

I'd love to tell you the reason that I went out for this run wasn't exclusively the basis of sibling rivalry, but I would be lying. After Bruce had edged me out in December and January, I wanted to beat him. This is silly, but the fact remains that as February ended last night, the numbers on the app were as follows:

Now, I did have a few other reasons to go out BESIDES just wanting to get the best of my brother for once. Those reasons included the very real fact that I only get a chance every four years to run on Leap Day, and I didn't really want to let that opportunity pass. (This is true.) Also, I had a meeting at my kids school Tuesday morning, so I wasn't going to be able to go running on Tuesday morning, so if I wanted to get in an early week run, Monday night was my chance.

Still, it was really all about beating Bruce.

As for the photo...I wanted to find something that would photograph well in the dark and was within a few miles distance of home so that I could get the necessary distance and a decent photograph, but not be out until Midnight by running a whole lot further than I needed. Then I remembered the goofy LDS temple, and how it is lit up like the noon day sun with so many lights that I am fairly certain it's visible from space during the nighttime. Turns out, it was the perfect subject, and just far enough away to allow me to get there and back and collect the necessary mileage. It was perfect, in just the right kind of creepy Mormon way.