Thursday, June 30, 2016

Four Hundred Eighty-One

June 29, 2016
7.47 Miles in 1:10:50
Mood: Facing troubles on on sides, but enjoying every minute of it.
Soundtrack: The Avett Brothers "True Sadness"

I had taken a volunteer day from work, because I was going to head down to Royal Family Kids Camp and spend the day helping out, but it also meant that I had a little more morning than usual to play with, so I decided to drive a bit west and start my run over at Broadway and Mineral so that I could go a little further south on the Highline Canal than I ever have before.

I was able to get quite a bit further south than I have ever been on the Highline, and what I found horrified me. Highlands Ranch has this nasty habit of paving their trails, and in a move that can only be described as sacrilege, they paved over their section on the Highline Canal Trail. It actually wasn't terrible, but the naturalness of the Highline Canal is part of what makes it so special and wonderful to run, and as soon as you reach Highlands Ranch, they kill it.

I have a longstanding dislike of Highlands Ranch, and this did nothing to improve it's standing in my eyes. Then, on top of this horrific discovery, my earbuds broke. This is nothing new, as it seems to happen every six weeks, and I've probably exchanged at least 20 pairs of earbuds at Best Buy in the past five years, but it was still annoying as it happened about halfway into the run, and I was forced to run without accompaniment.

Even more exasperation, when a route I thought would take me directly where I wanted to go turned out to be much more difficult than I expected, as travelling the way I had hoped would have required me to jump down a cliff that was about four stories high. I declined on allowing gravity to assist my speed on this run THAT much, and decided instead to find another way which involved me traipsing through a field, crossing a major railway line, and then running north on the incredibly busy Santa Fe Drive with an unfortunate lack of sidewalk. (Though thankfully, it had a very large shoulder.)

I've described nothing but troubles, and yet this was quite a pleasurable run. I ran the first three miles in under a nine minute per mile pace, and then slowed significantly, but the weather was gorgeous, I knew I had a fun day ahead of me, and it was fun to run in a place I was unfamiliar with. So although I was plagued with trouble, my heart was glad. And I'm really starting to dig the new Avett Brothers release. I heard most of it before my earbuds died.

And most importantly, I hit the 100 mile mark for June on this run, making it 30 straight months! Fanfare!!!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Four Hundred Eighty

June 26, 2016
7.51 Miles in 1:11:17
Mood: Positive
Soundtrack: The Avett Brothers "True Sadness"

Friends from my church are getting ready to head to camp, and although I won't be there all week, I do get to go up as a volunteer on Wednesday, and I also had the opportunity to help by letting them use the Olympic rings that Jen made for the Kids Who Care club Olympic event last month. The problem was, they needed those rings, and I wasn't sure how to get them to the team. Then I remembered that every year they leave around noon from our church on the Sunday that camp begins. So, I headed up to the church building to drop off the Olympic rings and I began my run from there.

I headed north from there, and quickly found myself headed in the direction of Wash Park. Rather than fight that inclination, I just listened to the newest release from the Avett Brothers and got caught in the gravitational pull of my favorite park. I passed by the huge blades of fake grass on Broadway, and decided to take this picture of them, and kept on heading up that way, then did one loop around the park and then headed back...all the while listening for the first few times to "True Sadness", an album that has some solid moments, but that I haven't fully embraced just yet. It often takes a few spins before I really get into an Avett Brothers album, and this one feels weird as it has much more instrumentation than I'm used to from this group. Still, the Avetts are one of my favorites of all time, and this is a solid bit of work from them, so I'm going to keep mulling it over until I decide exactly where it fits.

As for this run, I was able to get the Olympic rings to a place where they should be able to be used, and I inched ever closer to my June 100 miles...I need less than six miles to get there this month.

Four Hundred Seventy-Nine

June 24, 2016
7.09 Miles in 1:08:22
Mood: Dreamlike
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / Augustana "Augustana"

This run felt like it was taken in a dreamlike state. I woke up early, but never fully got my brain out of neutral. I had the sensation like I was practically sleep running, if that's even a thing. I was fully awake, but it was a strange outing. I remember bits and pieces like passing and getting passed by the same duo of runners a few different times, listening to the Mediocre Show, and finding this tiki mailbox, so I know I was there, but it only felt sorta like I was.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Four Hundred Seventy-Eight

June 23, 2016
6.88 Miles in 1:06:35
Mood: Spotting zebra stripes.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / The Avett Brothers "The Carpenter"

My first run back in Colorado after three in Florida, and I almost immediately noticed the lack of oxygen. It is startling how much harder it is to run here than it is to run at sea level. I pushed and clawed my way back to nearly seven miles. It wasn't terribly pretty, but I was just putting in work because I am determined to get myself to 100 miles for June, and I needed the miles today. I am not quite fully recovered from vacation. We got in at 3AM on Wednesday morning, so I'm still catching up on sleep, and my feet are still blistered and my legs are still sore from all the walking and running I put in, but I am starting to get back to normal.

My photo for today was something my wife found on a walk we took together a few weeks ago. While on that walk, she noticed this house with a zebra pelt displayed in the front window. I'm not sure what kind of person puts a zebra pelt in their window, but more proof that we have a variety of people types in Littleton...weird as many of them are, I'm happy to call this place home.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Four Hundred Seventy-Seven

June 21, 2016
7.58 Miles in 1:13:24
Mood: Ready to run around Sea World.
Soundtrack: Lupe Fiasco "Lasers" / The Black Keys "El Camino" / The Dan Lebatard Show

After not running for four days in Florida, I decided to go two days straight by running on the final day I was in Orlando. The night before, I realized that I was also within running distance of Sea World, so for the second straight day I had a theme park destination in mind as I started out on my run. I began by going a quarter mile to the north, because it was so early that it was still dark, and the Orlando Eye was still lit up, and I thought it would be cool to get some photos of the lit up Ferris Wheel.

I got some great pictures of the Eye, and then headed due south, through the Convention Center district once more, and then went even further to the South in the direction of Sea World. I first looped around Aquatica, a small water park run by Sea World. Then I realized where Sea World proper was, so I decided to circle the entire park. I ran right past the entrance. They were still two and a half hours away from opening, so I expected to see no one, but the park entrance was alive with gardeners taking care of the vegetation and parking lot workers cleaning up the massive parking lots with blowers. There were probably 15 workers out taking care of the grounds, and several of them gave me some weird looks as I jogged around the entrance to a theme park I never even attended this trip. Then, as I ran around the south edge of Sea World, I found it's sign. The sprinklers were misting, which gave the sign an otherworldly quality with the sun creating a foggy atmosphere around the sign. I took a photo and immediately knew that my pictures of the lit up Orlando Eye would NOT be the photo for this day's run...the sign for Sea World was just too cool.

After looping Sea World, I found a different Wawa from the one that had become a home base of sorts for me, and I bought a beverage to replenish all the fluids I was sweating out. As I was leaving the Wawa parking lot, I saw a car with Miami Heat license plates, so naturally, I took a picture. On the way home, I saw an ibis just hanging out in a nearby pond, and had to take pictures of that too, as I don't see too many ibises in Colorado. When I got back to the hotel, I was ready to shower and get ready to say goodbye to Florida, but I was really happy that I took one final run.

Four Hundred Seventy-Six

June 20, 2016
8.74 Miles in 1:23:46
Mood: A weird runner in a world of walkers
Soundtrack: Ben Folds Five "The Sound of the Life of the Mind" / Ben Folds "Rockin' the Suburbs"

I was a tired puppy as I woke up this morning. I had just finished a theme park marathon of five theme parks in five days (Animal Kingdom, The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure), and I was pretty tired. Still, I wanted to get more Floridian miles in, and I hadn't run in four days, so I forced myself out of bed and on to the streets.

I began by running South for a bit and I ran past the Orlando area Convention Center, which was quite stunning, really. Large beautiful buildings and interesting architecture made for some interesting running, and I really enjoyed the artistic bus stop displays, but then I had an epiphany...I could run to Universal Studios. By the time I had reached back to where I started, I was almost three miles in, but I had this notion to make it to Universal, and I was not going to back out now. I knew I needed miles, and now I had a destination in mind.

The crowds were starting to arrive as I got close to Universal. On a few occasions, I had to severely slow down because there were a lot of people walking, and only a narrow walkway on which to traverse, so I got stuck in a bit of a bottleneck, but I kept pressing on. I didn't even let a security checkpoint stop me, and I had a first in my running career...a run interrupted by a security check through a metal detector. It felt a little weird when I was running on the moving walkway too, but all this weirdness was the cool kind of weird...a situation I knew was special because of it's weirdness. I'm sure everyone headed to the park that day thought I was exceptionally weird, a single runner in a sea of walkers.

I walked to the front of both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, and took a picture of the entry to both before turning around and enjoying the brief boost provided by running on the moving walkway. An experience that makes you feel superhuman until you reach the end of the moving walkway and suddenly your progress feels like it grinds to a halt.

All in all, this was a scenic and unusual run that felt quite gratifying. I was super glad that I had pressed on all the way to Universal once I was finished.

Four Hundred Seventy-Five

June 16, 2016
7.05 Miles in 1:06:39
Mood: Exploring the weird and wonderful nature of the tourist trap part of town AND my glorious introduction to Wawa.
Soundtrack: U2 "Songs of Innocence" / Bad Veins "The Mess We've Made" / Jack White "Blunderbuss"

Firstly, this run brings my Run and Shoot state total up to 11 different states! I already had Colorado, Kansas, Washington, South Dakota, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Missisippi, and Iowa. Now I can add Florida to that tally.

We had been up fairly late the previous night at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and on this day we were planning on hitting up the Magic Kingdom, but despite that, I needed to get some miles in, so I awoke early to attack the Florida heat despite having a somewhat wobbly ankle and knowing that I this was day 2 of five straight days at Florida theme parks.

Florida, while hot and humid, still didn't usurp Mississippi as the muggiest place I've ever run. Orlando was hot, but I couldn't wring our my shirt and have it drip like I could when I went running in Pass Christian. Still, the humidity had me sweating up quite a storm as I explored the resort parts of Orlando surrounding our hotel. The first half mile was a bit of a struggle, as I had tweaked my ankle just before leaving Denver, and it was sore, but after a mile or so, I had worked out the kinks, and was running pretty strongly with the added benefit of having Sea Level air, which made it feel like I was invincible because there was just so much Oxygen.

We were staying on International Drive, which is an odd stretch of touristy road that is home to more restaurants per square mile that almost any place I have ever seen along with having more cheap looking gift shops with Disney themes that are almost certainly fronts for illegal activities. It is also home to various roadside attractions which include mini-golf palaces, a fun house which looks like an upside down state building, the above pictured Orlando eye (a giant Ferris Wheel that I never actually saw operating), a few go kart tracks, a Wet and Wild water park, and no fewer than three different zombie themed businesses to go along with a giant statue of a Brazilian soccer player. It's a weird amalgam of things, but it was fun to run through because you never knew what you might find.

The final important note from this run is that it was on this run that I discovered my very first Wawa. For those not in the know, Wawa is a glorious convenience store that puts all other convenience stores to shame. It is a favorite of Eric Tomorrow of the Mediocre Show, and when I saw it for the first time with all the past times I have heard Eric mention it on his show, I entered it like a giddy schoolgirl. The thing that makes Wawa great is that it has excellent customer service, and more importantly, it has some very solid food options and touch screens upon which to order said food. Then they make it all right as you wait, and it's pretty dang tasty. I only purchased bottled water on this trip, but for the rest of this vacation, Wawa became a staple of the breakfast meal, and I was pleased with it everytime.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Four Hundred Seventy-Four

June 13, 2016
8.09 Miles in 1:21:09
Mood: Spooked out and trying not to hurt myself (but sorta failing).
Soundtrack: Jordan, Jesse, Go! / Blind Pilot "We Are The Tide" and "Three Rounds and a Sound" / Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything

It was a spooky night. The day that was had been hot, and the streets had soaked up the warmth so that when the heavy rains fell this evening, the water on the ground quickly evaporated making the world moist and foggy. It wasn't muggy, but it was damp and the fog rising from the ground made way in the imagination for ghosts and goblins far too easily. The night felt eerie, and as my glasses kept fogging up, it made it harder to see. I kept taking off my glasses to wipe them clear, but while I was doing that, the world seemed even more foreboding as a mixture of fog and blurriness REALLY made the world feel creepy. I started thinking about how terrifying it would be if I were to lose my glasses and be forced to find my way home in this dark and foreboding world. I was really giving myself the willies on this run.

The only reason I had waited until the dark of night to run is so that I could watch Game 5 of the NBA Finals in which I had hoped the Warriors would finish off the Cavaliers and win the title, but Cleveland had other ideas, so I began my run in a sour mood, as I am strongly rooting for Golden State to repeat. The first mile was a struggle, as I had struggled with a low blood sugar just a few minutes before it was time to leave on my run, so I had eaten several homemade cookies that my wife had created earlier today. They were delicious, but they weighed on my stomach like a ton of bricks that first mile. Finally, I got into a groove, and felt better, but I was hating life for the first 15 minutes or so of this run. This was a run that was taken almost entirely because I'm worried about reaching my target this month, and with vacation starting tomorrow morning, I'm not sure how many miles I'll be able to rack up in the next week, so I went out at 10:00 at night even though it probably would have been smarter to just skip out on running and go to bed.

I had a premonition that I was going to hurt myself while running tonight, and with about half a mile to home, I did manage to slightly tweak my ankle, which honestly made me laugh at myself as if I had willed it to happen. Thankfully, it appears to be nothing serious, and I managed to run the rest of the way home without too much pain.

Tonight's photo looks more like patriotic clip art, but I assure you that this flag is actually a photo taken of a light up flag that someone on Panama Street has lighting up their back yard. It's bright and obnoxious and overly patriotic, and yet I kinda love it. I especially love the way that it turned out in this picture, which nothing else can be seen except for the light. It's kind of amazing. I may have to take a photo of it during the day just to provide context for what it looks like in a back yard instead of just in a field of pitch black. That will have to wait for awhile, as I'm hoping my next post will come from Florida.

Four Hundred Seventy-Three

June 12, 2016
7.42 Miles in 1:11:36
Mood: Thankful for resiliant feet and family history
Soundtrack: Hamilton Original Cast Recording

My company is a few weeks into our second year of "the Global Corporate Challenge". It is a program that hands out pedometers and has everyone keep track of their activity to try and encourage us to be more active and healthy. I have this tendency to overdo things like this, and on the day before this run, I went for a little walk...from my house to Coors Field and a good portion of the way back. All in all, I estimate that I walked about 23 miles that day, so when I woke up on this morning, I was hurting.

The biggest issue was my feet, which are not used to walking 23 miles, and they had blistered a bit. I was considering not going at all, but I'm determined to get to 100 miles for June, and with vacation on the horizon, I really needed to get some miles in on this glorious Sunday if I want to make 30 months in a row. So I put the running shoes on and hoped that I'd find a groove.

It worked out better than I could have possibly hoped. My feet didn't bug me a bit, and even with a stupid long walk the day before, my legs felt impossibly fresh. It was warm and humid (by Colorado standards), so I sweat a lot, but I didn't hurt at all and felt pretty strong most of the time.

My mom was in town last week, and she mentioned the address of her grandmother's house, a grandmother that she dearly loved and with whom she spent a lot of time with while she was little, so I decided I had to go and see this place which was the one time that I really veered off of the path at Wash Park. It was cool to see a bit of my family history...even if it predated me. I have no idea what the house looked like when my mom was a kid, but the photo above is what it looks like today.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Four Hundred Seventy-Two

June 10, 2016
4.28 Miles in 43:18
Mood: Wiped Out but enjoying clouds and woodpeckers.
Soundtrack: Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything / The Mediocre Show / The Gist

After running yesterday, I also then walked with my wife for another 5 or so miles in the evening, so my body was pretty spent after putting in a 40,000 step day on Thursday. June 2016 will be my 30th consecutive 100 mile month if I can manage it, but I'm starting to get worried that it'll be close. I was hoping to get a full run in today, but my body would not allow it. I tried pushing through, but I was wiped. Still, it was a beautiful morning, I had interesting podcasts on my phone to listen to, and the clouds were spectacular, so I enjoyed my morning walk/run even if the running portion was a bit sketchy. At least I managed to pack in another four miles to my June goal. I really want to get to 30 straight months.

My favorite moment of the outing came as I was walking past a large electric pole, and I heard a woodpecker going to town on the wood. I lingered for a minute or two just watching him pound holes into the infrastructure and thought how interesting it was to watch something designed to purposely pound it's own head into something hard and unforgiving.

Four Hundred Seventy-One

June 9, 2016
7.87 Miles in 1:17:40
Mood: Sweaty and Slow, but happy to be out running again after several days off
Soundtrack: Bear's Den "Islands" / The Head and The Heart "The Head and The Heart" / Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything

I've passed by this grasshopper on countless occasions, and every time I think to myself that it'd make good fodder for a Run and Shoot post, but I've always managed to find something better instead. This was a hot run on a day where I was not feeling terribly inspired to shoot pictures, and the grasshopper's day has finally come. After not running since Sunday, I thought the rest might have made me a little faster on this Thursday morning, but I continue the recent streak of slowness.

I'm also considering using sweatbands on my wrists, because I'm starting to hit the portion of the summer where temps rise to the point where I'm sweating profusely, and the most annoying part of the sweat is when it runs down my arms. Perhaps sweatbands would help? If not, at least I'd look undeniably cool, right?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Four Hundred Seventy

June 5, 2016
6.47 Miles in 1:04:33
Mood: Hot and sweaty, but all things are made better by crazy mailboxes.
Soundtrack: First Aid Kit "The Lions Roar" and "Stay Gold"

With family in town, I decided to stay a little closer to home on my Sunday run, so I revisited the area of the Denver Tech Center that I hit up on the first of May. On that particular day, it was snowing and very wet, however this particular Sunday was the first really hot feeling day of the summer. It wasn't actually all that MAYBE reached the 80's, but I was sweating and struggling the whole way.

I remembered this area being beautiful, and that did not change with the weather improving. It was gorgeous everywhere I went. The highlight of the run happened when I just barely noticed this equestrian mailbox nestled in a quiet little cul de sac. I almost missed it, but I just did see it out of the corner of my eye, and I was so excited that I stopped in mid run and turned about face to go check it out. It's truly spectacular, and as a connoisseur of ridiculous mailboxes, I would know. This is one of the top three mailboxes I've ever encountered. My run was at least 70% better as a result of finding this particular treasure. That's math!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Four Hundred Sixty-Nine

June 3, 2016
7.26 Miles in 1:11:23
Mood: Tired, Slow, and incredibly happy.
Soundtrack: The After Disaster / First Aid Kit "The Lions Roar"

There was a lot going on this day. It was my sixteenth wedding anniversary, I had the day off from work to volunteer with some youth in Denver, my mother was coming in to town and I had to pick her up from the airport, and my sister in law and her three kiddos were also staying with us. Yet with all the noise surrounding this very busy day, I still really wanted to get in some miles for June.

I woke up at 5:30 after an uneven night's sleep, hastily went through my morning routine, and was out the door and hitting the trail just after six. I was tired and slow and after my first mile, I genuinely wondered if I could get in a decent number of miles with as run down as I was feeling and with so much yet to do. I had to be back sooner than a normal morning run, as I needed to pick my Mom up at the airport that morning, so if I was going to get miles in, I needed to not lollygag. I pushed as hard as I could, but I never really was in a full swing on this outing, but I gutted out a decent seven miles despite clearly not feeling my best. It was a lovely morning, and I was listening to good music and reflecting on how lucky I was to have married the woman that I married.

Today's picture wasn't anything remarkable, just a lovely stretch of Highline Canal that I decided to stop and shoot because of how green it was. I wasn't feeling super inspired or super strong this day, but with all so many positive things happening in my life, I was feeling pretty happy and positive, even if I was doing so at a glacial pace running-wise.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Four Hundred Sixty-Eight

June 1, 2016
7.87 Miles in 1:18:58
Mood: Denver feels like Seattle sometimes, this is one of those times.
Soundtrack: The Allusionist / 99% Invisible / The Gist / The Dan Lebatard Show / Jordan, Jesse, Go!

Technically, this totem pole is in somebody's back yard, but their yard has no fence, so I snuck onto their property to take this picture because TOTEM POLE IN A BACK YARD!!!

It was a beautiful, if gray morning, and it looked like it might rain but it never actually did on me. The grayness, combined with the lush greenness which is at it's height for Denver in early June, combined with a totem pole spotting made this run feel very Pacific Northwestish.

I also ran an incredibly slow average of 10:02 per mile today. Not sure why I've been so slow of late, but I felt pretty good, even if not terribly fast today, and it was a really terrific run morning. So even though I was at a turtle's pace, I was enjoying myself.

Four Hundred Sixty-Seven

May 29, 2016
7.02 Miles in 1:09:44
Mood: In a Bronco state of mind.
Soundtrack: The Gist / Of Monsters And Men "Beneath the Skin"

Seeing as how Sports Authority is closing all of it's stores, I figured that I was running out of time to run past the Broncos stadium and have it still be called "Sports Authority Field at Mile High". Seeing as how I still think of it as Invesco Field most of the time, this isn't a huge tragedy that the name is going away. It's a mouthful and it's overly wordy and it's kind of stupid. I'm not among the crowd that feels that it must be called "Mile High Stadium" because that is a different place from a different time. I would like for it to have a non-stupid name, though. The name won't officially be kaput until August or after, as Sports Authority is paid up through August 1st, but I have a hard time seeing a company that is closing up spending 3.1 million dollars to keep it's name on a stadium when it isn't even bothering keeping it's stores open.

On this lovely day in late May, however, the Sports Authority banners were still flying high, next to banners bragging about being Super Bowl 50 Champions and thanking all of Broncos country for their support. It's still a little hard to believe my team is the champs, and even harder still to see them repeating next year, but for now, it's kinda nice being on top of the heap, even if such glory is both reflected (as in, I did nothing to contribute to winning anything) and quick to fade.

Today's picture shows the stadium from a bridge that I will forever remember from my childhood. Walking to Broncos games when I was younger, this bridge marks the first place that I would be the able to see both the current stadium and it's forbearer, the aforementioned "Mile High Stadium" as I walked to the game. We'd walk out from under a bridge, turn the corner, and walk across this bridge. This meant that I was getting close to watching my team play football, and to this day this bridge holds a fond place in my heart. It's become a little more congested in recent years, as the city started partitioning off a section of it to allow for bike rickshaws to use a lane. I hate these things and the American laziness they epitomize, so I tend to walk in the rickshaw lanes to slow them down as a way to protest the usurpation of my bridge because I'm obnoxious sometimes.