Friday, December 30, 2016

Five Hundred Sixty-Eight

December 30, 2016
8.11 Miles in 1:22:37
Mood: Finishing 2016 strong, also buying a banana on credit.
Soundtrack: The Avett Brothers "I and Love and You"

I hadn't ventured east in awhile, and I hadn't gone on a run that didn't mainly involve circling a Pokemon nest in awhile, so I decided to go on a good old fashioned long meandering run to the east. I felt great almost the entire way up until the final mile where I felt slightly low-blood sugary, so I stopped at Trader Joes and used my credit card to pay for a 19 cent banana, which felt wonderful and ridiculous at the same time. I love using my credit card for tiny purchases...seems so pointless. Finished my final run of 2016 to go over 110 miles for December. I've now gone three straight years going at least 100 miles every month...a streak I am intensely proud of, and which I work harder for every month, because I do NOT want it snapped.

Today's photo comes from about six minutes into the run when it was still far from sunrise, and these deer provided light for the street I was running on, and I thought they looked pretty.

Five Hundred Sixty-Seven

December 28th, 2016
7.86 Miles in 1:19:41
Mood: Deja Vu all over again.
Soundtrack: The After Disaster / Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything / My Brother, My Brother, and Me / Jordan, Jesse, Go!

This run felt remarkably like my previous run. Once again, I would be opening presents on this day. (Family that couldn't be here on Christmas showed up and we made plans to do an exchange later that morning.) Once again, I stayed almost exclusively in DeKoevend Park collecting Squirtles as I ran, and once again it was a beautiful day. The only substantive difference is that it lacked that Christmas feel, as only Christmas Day is Christmas, and I was listening to podcasts instead of Rich Mullins. Still, I got this beautiful photo of the sunrise in DeKoevend, so even if it felt similar, it wasn't EXACTLY the same.

Five Hundred Sixty-Six

December 25, 2016
8.77 Miles in 1:28:04
Mood: You gotta get running, it's Christmas morning!
Soundtrack: Rich Mullins "A Liturgy, A Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band"

It was a gloomy Christmas day, but I felt good. The sun refused to poke out from behind the clouds, and I even briefly had snow fall on me...not enough to truly qualify as a "White Christmas", but it definitely fell for about 10 minutes. I went out a bit later than usual, as we opened gifts that morning prior to my leaving, so I was in the post gift-giving glow, which had me in a pretty good mood. Since it was Christmas, I was listening to my favorite Rich Mullins album, which has several references to Christmas and is about as close to Christmas music as I get. I listened through it a couple of times in celebration of the holiday. I spent most of my time in DeKoevend Park collecting Squirtles, as I knew a migration was coming, so I had to gather my Squirtles while I could. DeKoevend is a gorgeous Park, so if you're going to do laps around a place, you could do worse. I didn't really find a good photo until I was on the final approach to home, and I saw these lawn deer with crystals in their antlers, which seemed appropriately Christmasy to me.

Five Hundred Sixty-Five

December 23, 2016
8.80 Miles in 1:34:27
Mood: Frightened by Wolves, motivated by Bulbasaurs.
Soundtrack: Passenger "Young as the Morning Old as the Sea" / Ben Folds "Supersunnyspeedgraphic, the LP"

It was two days before Christmas, and a gorgeous sunny day. I decided to run near the Cherry Creek Reservoir for one specific reason: Bulbasaurs. The park next to the reservoir was a Bulbasaur nest, and I was trying to collect a few to create my third Venusaur. If that means little to you, that's okay, just know that I was Pokemonning hard in a beautiful park as I ran. I didn't even realize I could get this close to the dam, I was in between the dam and I-225 for a good portion of this run, and there are some lovely trails through here.

I have recently been spending my lunch times at work in a Greenwood Village park that has a wooden cutout of a German Shepherd sitting in the middle of the park. Apparently, Greenwood Village puts these cutouts in all of their parks...I'm assuming to chase away geese and vermin. Not sure how well it works for those purposes, but on this particular morning, for about 2 seconds, I was convinced that I was going to be eaten by a wolf. The cutout pictured above was in the shadows and appeared to be a very large, very real wolf that looked aggressive and potentially hungry. After that initial jolt of adrenaline, I quite quickly came to the realization that I was safe and the wooden cutout was not going to hurt me, but there was definitely a moment of fear. Then I laughed at myself and took a few photos.

I did manage to hunt down a few Bulbasaurs as well as interact with a few fellow Pokemon enthusiasts. The two that I enjoyed the most were a couple of teenage stoners who were impressed that I was playing Pokemon, and also very impressed that I had a Dragonite. I got high five from both of them when I showed them my Dragonite, and they seemed overly impressed that I had one. I felt like I was about to be proclaimed their king for a moment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Five Hundred Sixty-Four

December 21, 2016
7.68 Miles in 1:22:59
Mood: Enjoying the heat wave
Soundtrack: The Memory Palace / The Beef and Dairy Network / 99% Invisible / The Gist / The Hamilton Mix Tape

After the past week of what felt like an Arctic winter, I stepped out into a 34 degree morning and it felt downright balmy. This is the shortest day of the year, and it felt like it, as there was significant darkness for much of the run. Still, with the warm temperatures (relative to recent experience), I felt great as I spent a little time hunting Squirtles in DeKoevend Park before pushing my way down the Highline Canal Trail for a bit. It wasn't a super memorable run, but it felt good and I was able to see horses near the end, so yay!

Five Hundred Sixty-Three

December 18, 2016
5.71 Miles in 1:09:01
Mood: Running through a winter wonderland, replete with Seels.
Soundtrack: The Hamilton Mix Tape

It was 2 degrees outside when I began, there were 8 inches of snow on the ground, and 75% of Cheesman Park was not shoveled. Yet I ran. I did so for two reasons: One, I needed the miles, regardless of how slow they would come. Two, Cheesman Park was a Seel nest, and I needed Seels in Pokemon Go.

I bundled up so extremely that despite the frigid temps, I felt hot for a good portion of the run. Running through snow piles makes one really slow, which is a large part of the reason that my mile times exceed 12 minutes, which is RIDICULOUS on a normal run. Still, I was proud of myself just for getting out there. I ended up running almost the entire time without my glasses, because for the first ten minutes I tried to use my glasses and they would immediately fog up, and then because of the cold, the fog would form ice crystals and my lenses looked like snowflakes and were completely impossible to see out of. So, I just put them in my pocket and ran blurry. It was kind of running through a really cold Monet painting. I also caught enough Seels to evolve two Dewgongs, which was a major coup to my Pokemon collection.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Five Hundred Sixty-Two

December 16, 2016
8.12 Miles in 1:27:27
Mood: Tricked by warm early morning temps.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / Ben Folds "Songs for Silverman" and "supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp"

I feel like the weather pulled a bait and switch on me this morning. It was 47 degrees outside as I left my house, and I was wearing minimal winter clothing, just a long sleeved running shirt, jogging pants and no gloves, as it was pretty comfortably warm. It felt great for about 45 minutes, but sometime in the 7 O'Clock hour a cold front blew in and suddenly the temperature dropped by 25 degrees and the wind picked up and the second half of my run was frigid.

I took the photo above as I was literally watching the cold front move in. You could SEE it before you felt it. Then I felt it, and I powered through to get additional miles and Squirtles, as I was camped out at DeKoevend Park since it's such a good place to mine Squirtles right now. While braving the cold I caught 26 of them, and got in a decent run to boot. Now if I could just keep those cold fronts from moving in on me.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Five Hundred Sixty-One

December 15, 2016
8.31 Miles in 1:27:07
Mood: A Squirtle State of Mind
Soundtrack: A Tribe Called Quest "Beats, Rhymes & Life" / Ben Folds "Songs for Silverman"

This run had a lot of Pokemon intrigue. The first three miles were spent mainly at the Streets at Southglenn loading up on supplies and the multitudes of Pokestops available there. However, the real fun came when I ran over to DeKoevend Park. I was planning to just run through and hit a trail, but then I realized that one of the closest parks to my house was a Squirtle nest, which means that a very rare Pokemon was suddenly in abundant supply and I could load up. I spend the next hour running around the park and managed to catch 13 son's favorite Pokemon. Prior to this morning, I had only ever caught 26 of them in total...and that is playing since July. It was a pretty excellent morning.

Today's sunrise was spectacular, the sky went from black, to purple to pink and blue in a matter of about 15 minutes, and it was amazing to watch. Two years ago as I was preparing to have to begin running in the morning, I didn't think I'd ever reach the point where I prefer running in the bitter morning cold, but we may have reached that point. It's just better to run in the morning, and I love it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Five Hundred Sixty

December 13, 2016
9.61 Miles in 1:41:22
Mood: Ambitious
Soundtrack: Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything / The Bill Simmons Podcast / The Walking Dead 'Cast

I felt really good this morning, and although I wasn't fast, I wanted to get in a lot of miles. The result was that I ran for nearly 10 miles which felt great even as it made me a bit late getting home to get ready for work. I was only about 10 minutes late to work owing to getting ready in a super fast hurry.

My slow pace is partially owed to the fact that I was playing Pokemon as I ran...something I hadn't really done for a few weeks. It was a solid outing for Pokemoning, and it didn't slow me TOO much.

As for today's photo, I like this person's decorating style. It has a homemade quality to it, even though I'm not certain that it's actually homemade. It beats Snoopy inflatables any day!

Five Hundred Fifty-Nine

December 11, 2016
8.29 Miles in 1:19:24
Mood: Proud of my status as the Master of Timing.
Soundtrack: U2 "Songs of Innocence"

I felt a bit torn, as my wife wanted me to help out with passing out water to runners in the Jingle Bell 5K Run and I wanted to get in a good long run on this Sunday morning. A group she and my kiddos volunteer with had signed up to help out at the water station for that charity run in Wash Park. My solution was to get to the park early, run as hard as I could until I had gotten in a significant number of miles, and then help out. I timed in perfectly (completely by accident), as I finished up my eight miles and arrived at the water station about 30 seconds before the first runners started arriving. It was truly a serendipitous bit of timing, which I took credit for as if I had planned it the whole time.

Passing out water to runners in a race is actually a lot of fun, although it's a bit weird to do so 30 seconds after finishing a run that is more than twice as long as the race they are running. Plus, I was super sweaty, and as you can tell from photo above, it was I started getting a bit chilly. Still, I had fun both during my run and during theirs.

It was a cold morning, but the photos I took make it look MUCH chillier than it actually was. As long as the sun was shining, it was downright pleasant...although perhaps much of that is owed to becoming acclimated to the sub zero temps from earlier in the week which made a 30 degree day feel balmy.

One last thing, I listened to the most recent U2 album (from a few years ago) through twice on this run. The general music snob opinion is that the music game has passed Bono and company on by, but I think this is a really outstanding collection of songs. I think people are just used to the old classic U2 and don't want to invest in their newer works, which I guess is their loss.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Five Hundred Fifty-Eight

December 9, 2016
4.31 Miles in 45:25
Mood: Not great, Bob.
Soundtrack: The Film Vault / The After Disaster

It's weird to think that at 11 degrees this morning was MUCH warmer than yesterday. Problem was that I was running outside this time, so it was much colder for me personally. Also, I pushed it pretty hard yesterday, and my legs did not bounce back as quickly as I might have hoped. I was cold and tired on this run, and couldn't really push through to get into a groove. This was one of those defeated runs where I walked half the time and just felt defeated...add to that the fact that it was too cold to be walking, and I was shivering as I walked defeated. Not a great morning for anything other than being slow and cold...still, the sunrise was pretty!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Five Hundred Fifty-Seven

December 8, 2016
8.03 Miles in 1:11:37
Mood: Okay with running inside.
Soundtrack: Judge John Hodgman / Hamilton Original Cast Recording / Lupe Fiasco "Lasers"

If you look at today's map below, you'll notice a few things. First, my path looks a bit like the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Second, the temperature listed in the top right corner is not a misprint. It was negative three degrees when I started running this morning. I have been accused of being crazy about running, but my insanity only goes so far. If the temperature has a minus sign before the number, I'm not running outside. Therefore this arctic cold front chased me indoors to the Goodson Rec Center track.

Running around in tenth of a mile circles is not my favorite thing, but every once in awhile, it's not so bad. I actually enjoyed being indoors, as it allowed me to run in short sleeves and shorts...something I haven't been able to do for awhile. I'm not entirely sure I actually got eight miles in, as you can tell from the map there were a few times my GPS went a little nuts, but in general, I don't think it padded my stats TOO badly. Plus, I had about a half mile stretch on my Tuesday run where I forgot to restart my running app, so I figure it all evens out in the end.

The best part about running indoors is the ability to retreat to a locker room equipped with a steam room. Ten minutes relaxing in there will restore your faith in all that is good. I felt amazing as I walked out freshly showered into the icy temperatures of the morning. I don't plan to run at the Rec Center that often, but it's sure nice to have in case of emergency.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Five Hundred Fifty-Six

December 6, 2016
7.06 Miles in 1:10:23
Mood: Frozen solid while the world gets weird around me.
Soundtrack: The After Disaster / The Dan Lebatard Show

It was eleven degrees outside when I left the house this morning. That is miserably cold. Thankfully, I have a balaclava mask that I was given as a Christmas gift last year which made it bearable. The funny thing is that I originally thought that the balaclava was something I'd never use, but I've pulled it out two or three times now on exceptionally cold days, and it's saved my bacon. On days when it gets this cold, it's actually motivating to keep pressing on running, even if I'm really tired. Reason being that after I've run for a couple miles, I get really sweaty, and if I stop, the sweat does an all too effective job of cooling me down when coupled with the bitter cold. I have to keep moving in order to keep warm. I did stop at one point because I needed a rest, and I quickly got super cold.

A few interesting things I came across during this run...I found this inflatable which combines Christmas with the Dark Side in a marriage that makes it obvious to me that you can sell anything with a Star Wars license. Also, I passed by a guy who appeared to be in his mid thirties who was just walking down the street in shorts and a t-shirt. I was legitimately worried that this guy would die. Hopefully he staved off hypothermia. I still can't believe I saw that.

The final weird thing I encountered this morning was what appeared to be a movie production in action. There was a big truck and a camera crew, and two actors. One woman who walked quickly away from a building to a car and dramatically tried to open the car door and then appeared to get angry and throw things and start crying. Then a man came from behind her and hugged her to comfort her. The acting was melodramatic and silly, which made me think I may have stumbled upon the filming of a Hallmark Channel production. Also, the car was parked in a handicapped spot, which I found distasteful. It was all I could do to keep myself from wandering into the background to ruin the shot for no other reason than to be obnoxious. I JUST managed to avoid doing so while watching the whole silly affair. What a weird thing to witness.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Five Hundred Fifty-Five

December 2, 2016
4.98 Miles in 52:22
Mood: Not totally feeling it, but putting in the miles.
Soundtrack: The Film Vault

I traipsed out into the freezing cold out of duty more than desire today. I wasn't feeling it, but I won't be able to run on Sunday, and I need the miles. I drug my feet getting out the door, and didn't actually start running until around 6:30, and I felt like taking it easy, so I pulled out my Pokemon app, circled Southglenn several times, and coasted to a very lame five miles. It wasn't fast, it wasn't inspired, but I managed to finish anyway. For the second day in a row the morning was as cold as the 76ers playoff chances, but I put in my time so that by the end of December, hopefully I finish my 36th consecutive 100 mile month...that was literally the only thing getting me out there this morning.

At least I got a good photo of the Southglenn fountain lit up for Christmas in the morning light, which looked pretty cool. I probably won't run again until Tuesday morning, so hopefully I'll be more in the mood by then.

Five Hundred Fifty-Four

December 1, 2016
7.23 Miles in ????
Mood: Cold, focused, and angry at Canadian Geese
Soundtrack: Blind Pilot "And Then Like Lions" / TV on the Radio "Seeds" / Robert DeLong "Just Movement"

December started with a solid run. This one's a little weird, because I'm not sure exactly how much time I spent running because my phone's battery died before I got home, and by the time I had plugged it in and gotten ready for the day, my phone said that my run lasted over 2 hours and I averaged over 17 minutes per mile...neither of those numbers are accurate, as I was averaging under 9:30 per mile almost all of this run and got hosed by not bringing a backup battery with me like I usually do.

Despite the stats being way off, I realized that if I don't play Pokemon while running, I can actually radically improve my stats. I mostly just buckled down and ran this morning, with a few breaks to catch my breath. It felt pretty good to focus, but as December begins, the real cold weather is finally starting to settle into Colorado. The first 30 minutes of this run were wicked cold, thankfully the sun rose and made me think I was warmer, even if the temps didn't significantly rise.

How about this photo? So many geese! Ketring Lake was filthy with them...literally. The path around the lake was littered with more green turds than I can ever remember. Geese are THE WORST. There are signs all around the lake saying "Do not feed the geese, it's bad for them." I may toss them a bag of bread specifically because it might make their survival less likely. I hate this gross birds...even if they are occasionally pretty, they still gross up the place pretty badly.