Thursday, April 28, 2016

Four Hundred Fifty-Three

April 28, 2016
8.18 Miles in 1:17:06
Mood: Creating theories about ram statues.
Soundtrack: The Memory Palace / The Gist / Counting Crows "Somewhere Under Wonderland"

I was running down a trail that is very close to home this morning, less than half a mile into my run, when I came across something new in a backyard. This backyard ram statue was NOT in this backyard as recently as last week. This backyard is extremely visible, and thanks to a Colorado themed sign on it's fence, it's a memorable place, and in the hundreds of times that I've run past it, there has never been until this morning a ram standing in the backyard. That all changed today, as it is pretty obvious that there now is most definitely a ram statue there.

This was literally the ONLY photo that I took this morning. I have been obsessed a bit thinking about this ram, because I have developed over the course of this day a theory that the person who lives in this house is a veterinarian who works on Broadway and has THIS in front of their office. The style of ram statue seems similar (though clearly not identical), and the fact that the Colorado themed sign has to do with animal advocacy seals it in my mind. The next step is to try and utilize Google to see if I can confirm this theory. I now have a quest, and I love having a quest. I also love that within a three mile zone I have now found multiple bronze colored statues of rams.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Four Hundred Fifty-Two

April 26, 2016
7.71 Miles in 1:14:29
Mood: Dragging, then not
Soundtrack: The Gist / Blues Traveler "Four" / Counting Crows "Somewhere Under Wonderland"

The first two or so miles of this endeavor were atrocious. Slow, plodding, painful and I could not get into any type of groove whatsoever. It felt like one of those mornings where I only get three or four miles in total and end up walking more than running. I was discouraged and annoyed at how slow the whole morning felt.

Then suddenly, I found my stride. I wasn't going fast, but I was at least moving at a respectable pace finally. I had been feeling a little bit under the weather the day before, and I think the first few miles were needed to kick that ick out of my system. Once I did that, the rest of the run was a breeze.

As for today's photo...I am a fan of weather vanes. They usually have a rooster atop them, but sometimes a different animal gets the honor. I have never before seen a whale, though. That was a first.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Four Hundred Fifty-One

April 24, 2016
7.27 Miles in 1:09:18
Mood: Discovering eccentric neighborhoods with glee.
Soundtrack: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

The number of interesting places that can be reached by starting a run from Wash Park is seemingly limitless. I began this run at my favorite park in all of Denver, and then headed due West, as I noticed a new park on the map that I had never before seen. This park has a lake in the middle of it (Huston Lake), and the west end of the park is called Huston Lake Park and the east side of the park was called Athmar Park. When I arrived, it appeared that these are in fact one park with two separate names, and I even saw a sign on the east end that said "Huston Lake Park", so I'm not sure why there are two names for what is basically the same place.

It seemed like a nice enough place. A well cared for park with a nice lake and some decent paths. The surrounding neighborhoods are not quite as picturesque as Wash Park, but then few neighborhoods are. I was most surprised at some of the decorating decisions of this neighborhood. There are several gaudy lawn decorations, but by far the most disturbing and interesting was this gargoyle headquarters of Denver. This person's lawn was covered with dozens of Gargoyles and rather than having a grass lawn, it was landscaped entirely in pink rock. As you can see from the picture, it makes for a rather unusual site for a home facing a major park. Yes, this haunting landscape directly overlooks the park and the lake on Ohio St. I can't even begin to fathom why someone would want to xeriscape their yard and then overlay that xeriscaping with gargoyles, but the fact that such a person exists is the bedrock of some of my favorite posts on this blog. God bless these people, they are doing the Lord's work.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Four Hundred Fifty

April 22, 2016
7.36 Miles in 1:11:15
Mood: Happy, a little silly, and ready to take photos of the sky.
Soundtrack: The Bill Simmons Podcast / The Lumineers "Cleopatra (Deluxe)" / The Avett Brothers "The Gleam" and "The Second Gleam"

There was a moment this morning, a dorky moment to be sure, but a moment nonetheless where I considered just taking a picture of the sky for use on the blog today. The sky was SO BLUE YOU GUYS!!! Not a cloud, nothing but sun and blueness and I loved it. It was so much warmer today than it has been over the past week, and spring has fully returned from it's brief exile brought on by last weekend's non-stop snow.

As you might know, I'm a huge fan of pink trees. They are bar none my favorite thing about spring, but another wonderful thing that I noticed in a big way is the smell! All the flowering trees (both pink and otherwise) are emitting such wonderful emanations, my nose is truly enjoying it. The air in certain parts of town is positively perfumed by it, not in that hostile to the nose dude-brah wearing too much cologne way, but in a lovely natural happy to be alive kind of way. The sky was so blue and the world smelled so nice, and I was in a terrific mood today as I ran.

Today's pic does include the sky, but it also includes a cool robin just chilling out on a powerline. I like that bird. That bird is going places...well, not at this particular moment...right at the moment I took the picture he was in fact NOT going places, but you know what I mean. This bird has potential.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-Nine

April 21, 2016
8.09 Miles in 1:17:25
Mood: Vanishing snowmen and ancient farm tools.
Soundtrack: The Gist / The Allusionist / 99% Invisible / Lupe Fiasco "Lasers"

On Tuesday's run I ran past a snowy field with a snowman in it. The stone which was the snowman's left eye had fallen out of his head, and I picked it up and put it back into his head. Today I passed by that same field, and the snow covering the field had entirely melted, someone had taken the hat that had been on the snowman's head and his carrot nose was missing, the sticks which formed his arms had fallen to the ground, and there was only a small foot high pile of snow still remaining of the snowman. April is tough on a snowman, I tell ya.

Today's photo comes from a large backyard area that is so secluded it almost feels rural, even though it's in the middle of Littleton. There is a path that cuts through this grassy expanse, which is the only way I was able to see this cool dilapidated tractor just sitting there getting ancient. I doubt it gets much use these days, but darn it if it doesn't look cool just sitting there in the grass, especially with the sunrise peaking through behind it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-Eight

April 19, 2016
7.57 Miles in 1:14:41
Mood: Sad for my trees, happy from a man bun thumb.
Soundtrack: The Lumineers "Cleopatra (Deluxe)" / Father John Misty "I Love You, Honeybear" / Barenaked Ladies "Grinning Streak"

I had to skip my Sunday run thanks to the never ending weekend snow storm that swallowed up all of Saturday and most of Sunday and left the world buried under a pile of heavy wet spring snow. After skipping my favorite run of the week, I was excited to get back out there again on Tuesday morning. I figured the nasty weather had passed, as Monday had been dry and warm enough to enable a lot of melting. I prepped this morning without looking outside, and burst outside ready to get running only to be confronted by heavy falling snow.

I was truly bummed out for a few seconds. I even gave a few seconds of serious thought to abandoning my plans for a morning run, but then I decided, "Screw it, so you get a little wet." At 35 degrees outside, it wasn't really cold and the streets were dry, and I needed a run. I just started running west without thinking. My glasses were bombarded with flakes, so for the majority this run I was looking at the world through water spots.

The heavy snow over the weekend wreaked havoc with the trees, which as you have likely seen over the past few posts on this blog, have already started flowering. The new leaves and flowers took on spring snow like a magnet, and the weight of that moisture caused a ton of branches to break off on trees everywhere. I passed piles of broken tree limbs everywhere I went. One such pile looked like a pink tree had been murdered. There were pink flowers staining the snow and branches piled up in the streets. It made me sad to see such devastation, even though the trees are probably fine. My beautiful pink trees getting clobbered by spring snow stinks.

At one point, I ran past a field that had a snowman in it, however it only had one eye. I approached it, and saw the stone that had fallen out of it's eye socket, so I picked it up and made the snowman whole again. I don't know if repairing a snowman counts as a good deed (It almost certainly doesn't), but if by some miracle it does, I did my good deed for the day. It made me happy to see the snowman with two eyes as I walked away.

However, the absolute greatest moment of this run happened near the end, as I was jogging through a Trader Joes parking lot. This heavily bearded guy with a man bun who looked like he might teach yoga to children looked at me as I jogged through the parking lot, smiled, and then gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up. That might sound corny, but let me assure you that it was awesome. It's hard to get much more motivated than have the fitness man bun guy give you a thumbs up. I felt amazing all the rest of the way home. That guy has powerful thumbs, man.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-Seven

April 15, 2016
8.57 Miles in 1:21:13
Mood: Worrying the approaching cold front would destroy my lovely spring.
Soundtrack: The Gist / Mumford and Sons "Wilder Mind"

It was another beautiful spring morning surrounded by the flowering smells of spring and pink trees everywhere, which made it melancholy, because the forecast calls for a weekend of non-stop snow and cold. This weekend seems like it could be pretty nasty, so everywhere I ran this morning, I worried that the impending winter's last stand would ruin everything that was bursting through. Now that the flowers and pink trees have burst upon the scene, if this weekend's weather kills them all, I will hate the snow even more than usual. 

Still, this morning was lovely, and I enjoyed it for what it was. These two ducks were just chilling on the side of Ketring Lake, and they looked so lovely that I was hoping I could get a picture, but as soon as the camera came out, they freaked out and flew into the water. Still made for a nice picture, but I wish that ducks weren't so afraid of cameras.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-Six

April 13, 2016
8.16 Miles in 1:18:17
Soundtrack: The Lumineers "Cleopatra" / Frightened Rabbit "Painting of a Panic Attack"

This spring has sprung slowly. The true herald of spring to me is the arrival of pink trees. They usually start popping up early in April, and the pink tree crop has been prodigious for the past two years. However, this year it has been somewhat slow arriving, to the point that I have been frequenting areas that I know are replete with pink trees just in the hopes that they would be blooming finally. I was beginning to worry that a late frost or El NiƱo or global warming or some other weird weather phenomenon had killed the possibility of pink trees this year. That would make me sad.

Then came Wednesday! This run was the first time that the pink trees have truly been out in force this spring. They are not quite as robust as they have been the past two years, but they are certainly blooming and they are a pretty as ever. I didn't realize how much I missed them until I started seeing them in force on this run. There is something about them that signals the end of winter (even as a big storm is predicted for this weekend), and reignites spring in my soul. I love pink trees!

With the good must also come the occasional disappointment. I listened through the new Lumineers album for the first time on this run, and then I immediately listened to it again. It's decent, but I must say I was expecting significantly more. Their debut album popped immediately and was legitimately GREAT. This one is perfectly cromulent, but doesn't have that hoped for sizzle. I'll give a few more listens before rendering a final judgment, but my initial reaction is definitely disappointment.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-Five

April 10, 2016
7.77 Miles in 1:12:54
Mood: Uncertainly enjoying a Sunday stroll through Denver
Soundtrack: Lord Huron "Lonesome Dreams" / The Gist / The Memory Palace / The Bill Simmons Podcast / Lupe Fiasco "Lasers"

There was a lot of uncertainty on how to dress for this run. When I woke up, I got dressed in a long sleeved running shirt and running pants, but then I noticed that the temps were already in the 60's, so without going outside, I changed to a short sleeved shirt and shorts. Then, as I was heading out the door, I was greeted with some remarkably gray skies and the chilliest 60 degree temps I have ever felt. I grabbed my long sleeved running shirt and decided I'd hold off on making a decision until I arrived at Cheesman Park.

After driving 20 minutes north, it really looked like it was going to rain on me. I thought I'd probably feel warmer in long sleeves if I was wet, so I decided to switch up the shirt and rock the rare shorts and long sleeved shirt running combo. Thankfully, it didn't rain on me, but I think I made the right decision on the long sleeved shirt as the sun never really broke through. I would have been okay in short sleeves, but I'm glad I went in the direction I did.

I decided to run through Five Points, because I love all the graffiti murals on Larimer, and felt like visiting them. On the way there, I passed by this dilapidated market with the very cool, but very confusing artwork on it's front.  There is a disembodied blue hand reaching through a wooden maze for a key. Not sure what is going on here, but it sure beats a Shell or a 7-Eleven sign out front. Something tells me that the Curtis Park Market isn't quite ready to franchise itself, though.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-Four

April 8, 2016
3.18 Miles in 31:38
Mood: Exhausted but breathing in the beauty of a nice morning.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / The Gist

I woke up this morning, and almost decided to just stay in bed. I had to drag myself from between the sheets and I never felt like I really fully woke up. There was a layer of exhaustion just covering me, and as I tried to run today, I just struggled. It felt like I was coming down with something, and I didn't have the strength to actually run for large stretches.

That said, it was a BEAUTIFUL morning. I am finally beginning to see pink trees, the sunrise (as seen above) was exquisite, and I even passed some people riding horses on the trail which felt rather majestic. So despite the fact that running was a struggle, the long stretches of walking were very nice, and I managed to drag myself through three miles of actual running, so I did at least accomplish a little something towards my monthly goal, even if it wasn't much.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-Three

April 7, 2016
7.83 Miles in 1:13:50
Mood: Encountering the media and then lugging home milk.
Soundtrack: The Gist / Judge John Hodgman / 99% Invisible / Lupe Fiasco "Lasers"

For the second straight run, I bumped into the media. This time, I had no idea that I would be doing so. Apparently a home for the elderly had a fire, and several hundred folks were forced to evacuate their homes, so an American Red Cross shelter was set up at the Littleton United Methodist Church. There were a few cameras set up pointing at the church. I had no clue why the church was getting media attention (I learned about the fire after my run), but I was intrigued that television was congregating at the spot. I was a little worried, in case something tragic had happened and I was just waltzing over taking pictures, but it turned out to just be a fire. Not great, but also nothing calamitous and completely life altering.

About two-thirds of the way through my run, I received a text from the home front informing me that we needed milk. Seeing as how I had finished off the last tiny dregs of it with my cereal that morning, I was aware. But, I also felt pretty responsible to replace it. I ended up taking a bit of a detour and purchasing a gallon and then ran the final half mile while lugging a gallon of milk. I do not recommend running with a gallon of milk. Not fun. I felt like my arm might fall off by the time that I was done. Not good times.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-Two

April 5, 2016
7.22 Miles in 1:10:28
Mood: Surreally investigating a shooting site the day after.
Soundtrack: Walking Dead 'Cast / The Gist

There was a shooting yesterday in our fair town of Centennial, and that's weird. Centennial is a sleepy little suburb where people don't tend to fire guns at each other much, I like that about my home town. Yesterday, however, a man shot three people, killing one of them and injuring two other, one of whom was his own wife. News stories coming out in the local press make it sound like he's a kook, as he was speaking with a judge and acting imbalanced, yelling at his own assigned public defender, and announcing he wants press attention and that he has hired John Elway's lawyer. He sound more than a bit off, which clearly he must be if he is killing people.

I heard about this story late last night, and realized that it was only a few miles away from my house, so I decided to run by this morning to see what was going on. As I arrived this morning, there were several police vehicles and three or four local news trucks lining the streets. As I ran past, I saw three separate reporters speaking into microphones. I can only assume that they producing stories for the news. There were a few police officers milling about, and yellow caution tape surrounding the house which I assume is where the shootings took place. It was more than a bit surreal, as this street looks like hundreds of others that I run on every week. I don't know that I my trip there answered any real questions, but it was interesting to see such a normal place look so unusual. It was disquieting.

The only other thing of note from this run happened less than a mile in as I heard a very loud owl hooting, and looked up to see him chilling in a tree. The sun was still not all the way up, so the sky was dark blue and I couldn't see the owl perfectly, but I did get several photos of it silhouetted in the tree. It was a pretty cool moment of nature, and one of those pictures would probably have made the blog on a normal non-murderer kind of a day.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Four Hundred Forty-One

April 3, 2016
7.78 Miles in 1:13:46
Mood: Irritated at defective technology, but enjoying a nice day.
Soundtrack: The Bill Simmons Podcast / The Allusionist

Less than two miles into this run, my earbuds broke. This is a chronic problem, and one to which there appears to be no solution, as earbuds seem to be universally fragile. I get a new pair every month or two, as they die on me that quickly. I bought the two-year replacement insurance on them one time, and have basically gotten sixteen or seventeen pairs for free since. I have tried all manner of earbuds, both cheap and expensive, and regardless of what brand I get, they all die within two months. It's annoying, but as long as Best Buy continues to allow me to freely swap out broken pairs for unbroken pairs, at least it doesn't cost me anything in terms of money.

The one bad side to this particular earbud breakage is that for the next five miles, I was listening to podcasts with my right ear exclusively as the left earbud was dead. You don't realize how prevalent stereo sound is until you try to use only one earbud. I was able to listen to my podcasts, but the experience was significantly diminished. Out of frustration, I ran the final half mile with absolutely nothing in my ears, which feels a bit strange to me, since I'm usually always running with some type of sound ringing in my ears, be it music or podcast.

Apart from the eternal struggle of defective earbuds, it was actually a lovely day to be out and running. The sun was shining brightly (so brightly that even cow statues were wearing sunglasses, as seen above), and the weather could not have been more perfect, with temps in the upper sixties. The runner types at Wash Park were largely wearing shorts for the first time in recent memory, and this bright spring day was like a vision of warmer days to come.

I mentioned it earlier, but can I just say that I love this cow statue. Having a cement cow on your front porch is pretty great to begin with, but then to have it adorned with a bevy of necklaces and some fashionable shades is that extra something special to take it to the next level. God bless Denver!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Four Hundred Forty

April 1, 2016
7.49 Miles in 1:13:01
Mood: Bewitched by a frosty nymph
Soundtrack: The Gist / The Mediocre Show

The world was cold and snowy this morning, and I didn't even care. Usually, cold and snowy is my least favorite thing, but there was something different about this snow. I don't know what to attribute it to, but for some reason it has stuck to trees and bushes making them beautiful without sticking to roads and trails making them slick. All of the vegetation I saw this morning looked like it had been blessed by a good, but frozen, fairy. They were magical looking and everywhere I went the magic could be seen without slipping.

The spell did not last too long after the sun went up, as it immediately began to warm up and the cool frosted look began to melt making the world look like it's normal early spring self, but for an hour or so of running time today the world was enchanted.

Today's photo comes from Ketring Park where the early morning sun was shining through the trees and some of the magical frost. The picture is pretty, but seeing it in real life was otherworldly. This spot was a mythical vision this morning. You know it's amazing if it has to do with snow and even I am singing it's charms.