Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Five Hundred Eighty-Three

January 29, 2017
5.03 Miles in 50:02
Mood: Shaking out the creaks and chasing away the birds.
Soundtrack: The Gist / Waterdeep "To Chase Away The Birds"

I attempted to go without ibuprofen the night before, so my bruised/cracked ribs were a little more sore than they have been for awhile. Still, I was determined to get in at least five miles so that I could reach month 37 in a row of at least 100 miles. Things were a little ginger the first mile or so, but I eventually began to shake loose and feel pretty good. By the end, I had managed to speed up my pace so that it was faster than ten minutes per mile and I was feeling practically no pain. I reached the five mile mark at the north end of Wash Park, but decided to call it a day right there and walk back to the south end of the park. I had achieved my goal, and since I had done that, my new goal was to rest until Thursday so that hopefully I'd feel even better as I start out on my February mission.

Today's photo comes from an interesting statue on the east side of Wash Park. These two stone children are sitting in a stone canoe for some reason. I've considered taking a photo of this many times for the blog, but never ended up using it because although I like the statue, the background features powerlines a little too prominently. On this particular run, however, I only took a handful of photos, and I liked the way this one turned out with the sunlight in the background, so despite the powerlines, this is the photo I decided to use for today's run. Now to rest up for February...

Friday, January 27, 2017

Five Hundred Eighty-Two

January 27, 2016
5.29 Miles in 58:25
Mood: Just cold. So very, very cold.
Soundtrack: Twenty One Pilots "Blurryface"

The thermometer read only 13 degrees, but with the wind chill, the "feels like" temperature showed on my weather app as 3 degrees. Foolishly, I figured that I would run a shorter distance today than I did yesterday, so bundling up like I did yesterday was unnecessary. I still wore warm clothes, just far fewer than the 6 pounds of clothing that I donned on Thursday morning. That was a poor choice.

I was REALLY cold today. Especially during the first three miles, the chill in the air combined with the driving wind (as seen waving the flags above) pierced through me in a most uncomfortable way. The fingers on my left hand got the worst of it, for some reason. By the time I got home, I was in a moderate amount of pain. I had been planning to not go so far today, just get a few miles to make it so that I could get to 100 miles for January on my Sunday run. If I had pushed myself out further and had another twenty minutes in the chill, I would have greatly regretted it. I was never so happy to get home and take a warm shower. I spent like 20 minutes in the shower just thawing. This cold snap can leave town at any moment. (Thankfully, the forecasts make it look like it will. We are expecting very nice temps in the mid 50's this weekend, and I cannot WAIT!)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Five Hundred Eighty-One

January 26, 2017
6.01 Miles in 1:04:21
Mood: Frozen, sorta blind and treacherous icy conditions making for tough road to hoe.
Soundtrack: First Aid Kit "The Lion's Roar" / Grouplove "Never Trust A Happy Song" / Family and Friends "XOXO"

The thermometer in my kitchen read 7 degrees as I left my house this morning. I bundled up to protect against the weather, and the cold didn't ever really chill me, although the balaclava that I was wearing did make it impossible to run without my glasses fogging over and then freezing. I alternated between running without glasses in a chilly blurry adventure and running while trying my best to see through the fog. My vision was limited greatly today, which was a bummer, as the sunrise was bright and intense.

I went a little further along the Highline Canal Trail than I have in awhile, and unfortunately large swaths of it were covered in perilous ice. This caused me to have to stop and walk for large segments, and made it so that I wasn't able to cover any more than six miles while I was out. Still, the bright sun shining through ice covered tree limbs made for some spectacular views when I took the time to clean my glasses so I could see them better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Five Hundred Eighty

January 24, 2017
7.98 Miles in 1:22:47
Mood: Encouraged
Soundtrack: Sam Roberts Band "TerraForm" / Sara Watkins "Young In All The Wrong Ways" / The Long Winters "Putting The Days To Bed"

While 10:22 miles are not fast, this was the most encouraging run I've had in awhile. I was able to keep a good pace, run on some of my favorite trails, and most importantly...my ribcage wasn't screaming in pain. I managed nearly eight miles and felt good the whole way through, and it seems as if my 100 mile month streak (currently at 36 months and hopefully soon to be at 37) still has hope to continue.

In addition to feeling good physically on this run, I was listening to some pretty great music and was treated to a lovely sunrise, and also some pretty views including this photo a little after sunrise in which the morning sun powered through trees and the windmill at Ketring Park. The sun was very bright, and I lowered the light levels to let very little else through besides the sun peeking through, which is why this photo seems so dark despite it being a pretty bright morning. I thought the effect looked pretty great, and was happy with how the pictured turned out.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Five Hundred Seventy-Nine

January 22, 2017
5.34 Miles in 58:40
Mood: Blessed by sun and blue skies and slowly getting back to being myself.
Soundtrack: The Gist / The Bill Simmons Podcast / The Dan Lebatard Show

I still have issues sleeping on my side with my bruised ribs, but at least I'm starting to get back to normal when it comes to running. It's still slowing me down a bit, but I was able to average under 11 minute miles on this run, and I barely felt any pain at all as I ran, so I'm definitely improving. I still needed to take more breaks than usual, but I put in almost a respectable run.

I didn't have too long to run before I needed to be home for church, but I still wanted to go a little ways from home for this run, so I drove to Ketring Park to begin this outing. There are some good Pokemon nests at Ketring, Cornerstone and Belleview Parks, so I ran from Ketring to Belleview and back. I would have probably run another mile or two, but I ran out of time. Still, after wondering if my 100 mile month streak would end this January, I have hope that I can keep it going. I'm not there yet, but it's definitely within reach. Thankfully I was ahead of schedule when I hurt myself a week ago.

The photo for this day is a beautiful blue sky with a bit of Cornerstone Park art in front of it. I like how the photo turned out, even though there is nothing in the photo to give perspective of the size or context of the art. I think I like the blue sky even more than the art itself. It was a gorgeous sunny morning, and I needed a gorgeous sunny morning in my life on this particular Sunday.

Five Hundred Seventy-Eight

January 20, 2017
4.06 Miles in 47:02
Mood: Let's just say I was emotional.
Soundtrack: The Shins "Port of Morrow" and "Chutes too Narrow"

My fourteen year old dog Skeemo had been fighting a liver tumor for months. Poor guy had been going slowly downhill, but in the past few days it was clear that he had reached the end. He was just lying around and not moving, barely eating or drinking, just sitting there being old and completely non-energetic. We made the appointment in the morning to put him down at 3:45 that day, and I went through the entire day knowing that my dog's life would end that afternoon. January 20th was a rough day.

We had to pick up my kids early from school. We hadn't told them of our plans before school so they wouldn't have be dreading the end of the day. They both had tears in their eyes as they left the school with my wife and walked to the van where I was waiting with our dog in my lap.

My wife drove the family to the vet's office as I held Skeemo. I kept petting him and trying to say comforting and loving things to him without losing all composure. This was difficult as it was all I could do to keep from bawling. We did our best to explain to the kids what was happening. My oldest asked some good questions about why we had to end his life, and we did our best to give good answers. We let them know that his life was ending either way and we didn't want him to suffer. They understood, but that doesn't make it less sad.

I carried my dog into the veterinarian's office for the last time. We were able to gather around him and give him love and attention together as a family for the last time. One of the workers at the vet's office gave him a mini-snickers bar. You're not supposed to give dogs chocolate, right? It's bad for them, but somehow Skeemo didn't seem to mind.

The vet took him into another room to prep him for the injection and then brought him back and left us alone to say our final goodbyes. I usually love taking photos, but I couldn't bring myself to pull out my phone. Thankfully, my wife had the strength to take a few final snapshots of the kids with their dog. I was standing next to him, petting him, and trying not to sob. Saying any more than a word or two to anyone was difficult for me. If I had to speak a whole sentence at this moment, I probably would have curled up in a ball on the floor in a pile of tears. I loved this dog, and our time together was rapidly coming to an end.

I knocked on the door to let the vet know we were ready for her. She informed us that he would feel no pain, he'd just go to sleep and then his heart would stop. That would be it. She reassured us that it would be okay, and she was very comforting. We petted him, told him we loved him, and she put in the injection that ended his life. About 20 seconds later she told us, "He's gone."

I was so happy that my wife drove home without even asking if I wanted to. I almost always drive when it's the whole family, but she did so and I needed her to do that. I missed my dog already.

When we got home, I needed to run. I hadn't gone that morning because my ribs had been bothering me, and I wanted to get a little more sleep, but now it was four thirty in the afternoon, and I needed a release. My ribs were tender, but they felt better than they had at any point since I hurt them as I ran. I was super slow, but at least I was moving and getting out some of the emotion that had built up inside of me. I was sad, but this was a great coping mechanism.

I took the above photo of a beautiful sunset. It made me happy that as the sun set on the final day that my dog lived that the sunset was gorgeous. It seemed a fitting tribute, somehow. I kept running without giving much thought as to where I'd end up. I was listening to The Shins, because that music just felt right. I had posted an Instagram photo of Skeemo's collar right before I left with the caption, "You were a good boy." For some reason I stopped to look to see if there were any comments right as a very melancholy song named "Pink Bullets" began playing. My best friend had left crying emoji's as a comment on the picture of Skeemo's collar, and that combined with the song's lyrics finally broke me. I began crying. Not subtle tears. The sadness exploded from me. I was ugly crying on a dark street with no one around, and I did not care how hard it flowed out of me. It was time to get it out, and I couldn't stop.

After the song ended, I replayed it. Eventually I regained my composure, although I'm not sure I'll ever hear that song again without thinking of my little Westie dog. He truly was a good boy.

Pink Bullets:
I was just bony hands as cold as a winter pole
You held a warm stone out new flowing blood to hold
Oh what a contrast you were
To the brutes in the halls
My timid young fingers held a decent animal.
Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have been short but the days were long.
Cool of a temperate breeze from dark skies to wet grass
We fell in a field it seems now a thousand summers passed
When our kite lines first crossed
We tied them into knots
And to finally fly apart
We had to cut them off.
Since then it's been a book you read in reverse
So you understand less as the pages turn
Or a movie so crass
And awkwardly cast
That even I could be the star.
I don't look back as much as a rule
And all this way before murder was cool
But your memory is here and I'd like it to stay
Warm light on a winter's day.
Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have seemed short but the days go slowly by
Two loose kites falling from the sky
Drawn to the ground and an end to flight.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Five Hundred Seventy-Seven

January 19, 2017
5.01 Miles in 57:18
Mood: Discouraged
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / Judge John Hodgman

I pushed myself hard on my first run with injured ribs. I tried to do so again this morning, but I just didn't have it in me. I was tired, my side hurt, I was worried about slipping on snow, and I was monumentally slow. I was trying to push myself at the start, and still couldn't finish a mile at less than an 11 minute pace. That is embarrassingly slow, and I was actually trying to do well. I was just hurting and slow and tired. I ended up walking for huge chunks of the return trip from Ketring Park, and when I tried to push myself to start running again, I just struggled. I'm hoping that as I continue to heal and rest that I will improve, but this run was honestly discouraging. I didn't feel good doing it, and I only got in 5 miles of actual running if my glacial pace can actually be called running. I'll try again tomorrow, hopefully with better results. At least the sunrise was pretty.

Five Hundred Seventy-Six

January 16, 2017
7.92 Miles in 1:20:35
Mood: Pushing through the pain
Soundtrack: The Gist / Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness "Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness"

On Friday night the 13th, I attended a party at my work, and when I got home I fell asleep on the couch. I awoke at around 2 in the morning, and decided to get off the couch and head towards my bed and not spend the whole night sleeping on the sofa. I made a pit stop in the bathroom, and started getting dizzy. The next thing I remember I am sitting on the bathroom floor with the shower curtain pulled down on top of me and am in pain. While I'm still not entirely sure how or why I passed out, I do know the biggest result of this incident. I have either bruised or fractured my ribs on my right side, and they hurt. A lot.

I put off this run until Monday, as it was Martin Luther King day, and I ended up heading to the Goodson Rec Center because there was a ton of snow everywhere. This allowed me to wear shorts and be moderately more comfortable as I ran. Still, running with ribs that are injured is difficult and possibly stupid. It hurt, but not bad enough to make me want to stop. I pushed through so that I could tally up some miles to get me to my 37th consecutive 100 mile month. I don't want this streak to end, and I powered through the pain to get closer to achieving it for January. I was sore for the rest of the evening, but I got in nearly 8 miles and pushed myself really hard to finish. I was quite proud that I made this happen, and felt good about this track run.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five Hundred Seventy-Five

January 13, 2017
7.57 Miles in 1:17:17
Mood: Gray but not gloomy.
Soundtrack: Hamilton Original Cast Recording / The Avett Brothers "The Second Gleam" / Blind Pilot "And Then Like Lions" / Robert DeLong "In the Cards"

After a glorious sunrise yesterday, today's was completely lackluster. There were so many clouds that it basically went from dark to light without ever actually seeing the sun. It just went from black to gray. Add to that fact that we had a dusting of snow overnight, and you'd think it was a depressing morning, but really it was fairly nice. I had a good array of fantastic music, it wasn't TOO cold (given the circumstances), and I felt pretty good for a second day on a back to back run situation. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I appear to be much slower than I was even just a year or two ago...I hope I can pick up the pace again at some point, but either way, I'm still enjoying myself. Plus, I saw this cool figure standing in a yard that I'm assuming belongs to a gardener who is looking forward to the end of winter just as much as I am.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Five Hundred Seventy-Four

January 12, 2017
7.17 Miles in 1:13:49
Mood: A sunrise to restore the soul.
Soundtrack: Hamilton Original Cast Recording

This morning was entirely about the sunrise. Yes, I ran around DeKoevend Park and The Streets at Southglenn, but the only thing really worth remembering about this morning's run was just how spectacular the sunrise was. We had just the right amount of clouds to bring out the pinks and oranges in the sky, but those clouds didn't extend into the blue parts of the sky to give this amazing contrast and some excellent vibrancy. Truly spectacular, and I went a little overboard with taking pictures, but I couldn't help myself, it really was that good.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Five Hundred Seventy-Three

January 10, 2017
7.56 Miles in 1:16:20
Mood: Unable to discern the difference between a dog and a bear.
Soundtrack: The Wood Brothers "Paradise" / Freelance Whales "Weathervanes"

Enough melting had occurred that I was able to hit up the Highline Canal trail this morning. Typically in the depths of winter once snow falls, it becomes very difficult to run the Highline because a baseline of ice and snow makes it extremely treacherous. Thankfully we had temps in the 60's yesterday, which took care of 90% of the ice and made the trail mostly passable except in a few snowpacked shady areas where I had to proceed very gently and slowly. Still, it felt great to run my favorite stretch of trail for the first time in a little while.

On my return trip heading back towards home, I saw a giant dog. I don't know the breed, but it was large and brown, and for about six seconds I thought it might be a small bear. I didn't see the owner who was obscured behind a playground structure and out of my sight, which added to the illusion that it might in fact be a bear. I have to admit in that short period of time that I thought I might be having a bear encounter my emotions were mixed between thinking, "This is awesome!" and "I might get eaten." This mixture of elation and fear left me just staring at the dog-bear like a slack jawed yokel. I'm really glad it was a dog, because my inaction and dumbfoundedness probably would have been the end of me.

Today's photo also comes from my return trek home, as I passed a place where the rising sun poked through the trees and reflected in the small stream along the trail. It was really pretty...much more so that can be expressed in photo form.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Five Hundred Seventy-Two

January 8, 2017
8.46 Miles in 1:28:43
Mood: Drinking in the pink.
Soundtrack: Judah & the Lion "Folk Hop N' Roll" / The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" / Pearl Jam "Vs."

After a week of frigid temps, the warm weather was just starting to move in. Granted, it was still only 24 degrees when I got started, but you could tell that the tide was turning towards the warm. Unfortunately, the effects of the cold and snow were all around me. Wash Park was buried under a substantial amount of snow and ice, which made the footing a bit treacherous and made my pace pretty stinking slow.

I decided to head north and make my way towards the Cherry Creek Mall area, as I figured that there might be clearer sidewalks there, and I also had heard rumors of a possible Oddish nest at Pulaski Park. The sidewalks for the most part WERE clear, and the Oddish rumors were true enough for me to obtain the final Vileplume I'd been seeking for the past few weeks. It wasn't a terrific run either for running purposes or for Pokemon purposes, but it was decent on the whole.

The best moments of the run came very early on, as the sun was just peeking over the horizon when I started at Wash Park, and it was a stunning pink sunrise...one of those kinds that make the entire sky become rosy and wonderful for about 10 minutes. I took about 20 photos in that brief period, and barely even bothered to take any other photos, as I knew that something pink would be making the blog for this run. Those moments of intense beauty happen only every so often, and it's the joy in those moments that I try to really soak up, as it makes life better.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Five Hundred Seventy-One

January 6, 2017
7.03 Miles in 1:11:14
Mood: Stuck indoors.
Soundtrack: The Mediocre Show / Robert DeLong "Just Movement"

If my Nike+ Running app is to believed it was 0 degrees outside when I began running. This is why the photo you see is from the Goodson Rec Center track. With a ton of snow on the ground and icy temps, I had no interest in running outside this morning. Too darn cold. So instead, I ponied up $5.25 to run in tenth of a mile circles. Track running remains not that much fun, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I listened to the Mediocre Show and tried to make the best of it. At least I was able to use the steam room afterwords, which almost makes running on the track worthwhile. It's so relaxing to spend 10 minutes in the steam room.

Today's photo is of the stationary bikes sitting in one of the rooms adjacent to the track. I liked the way the red wheels looked all lined up, and then I got thinking...why do they need to put fake wheels on a stationary bike? Wheels of any sort seem completely unnecessary.

The funniest moment of the morning happened as I paused to walk on the track while I tried to select what music I was going to listen to as I finished up my run. As I was looking at my phone, an older and very slow runner bumped into me. He was hugging the outside wall all morning, and that is where I was walking...he had the entire track at is disposal, but rather than go around me, he smacked into my back. He didn't do it violently, but it did seem like he was sending a message, "This is my turf, kid." He was super slow, and for the rest of the morning, I took particular pleasure in quickly passing him every time I did.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Five Hundred Seventy

January 3, 2016
8.38 Miles in 1:23:33
Mood: Getting in the miles while mostly looking forward to multiple events later in the day.
Soundtrack: Robert DeLong "In The Cards" / Jack Garratt "Phase"

This was an odd run for a day off. I got a much later start due to family being in town and schedules being wonky. I had intended to run early in the morning, but ended up not leaving until around 11AM, and had to stay close due to the fact that I was going to be heading downtown almost immediately after I got back so that I could go ice skating, then go to a contemporary art museum, and then attend an NBA game. All of that stuff was actually quite fun, but since I was looking forward to doing that more than running, this run ended up being more perfunctory than it was an escape. (Also, if you run eight miles and then go ice skating, prepare for some tired legs.)

I didn't get many photos taken, so I ended up using this random photo of a front lawn with a few Christmas decorations since it was the best of a subpar round of pictures. I wasn't feeling particularly artistic with the camera, and just needed SOMETHING. Again...it was a run performed to make my monthly goal more than one of pure running bliss. Still, it wasn't so shabby, even if it lacked imagination.

Five Hundred Sixty-Nine

January 1, 2017
7.67 Miles in 1:19:17
Mood: Alone, but not lonely.
Soundtrack: The After Disaster / The Avett Brothers "Four Thieves Gone"

It has been a number of years since I stayed up until midnight on New Years Eve to ring in the New Year. 2017 was no different, and as a result, I was able to get up early in the morning for a run prior to starting the day without feeling exhausted. Let me just say that early morning traffic on New Years Day...not heavy. There was a little bit of the same vibe you get from early on in a zombie movie when the protagonist is walking through a totally deserted city before the zombies show up and start trying to eat his brains.

I took advantage of this cool but mostly deserted world to get in my first run of 2017. It was chilly, but not overly so, and I was comfortable the whole time. I ran across this weird robot statue in the front lawn of a unique home in Denver. I am giving you the close up on one of the robots, but there are actually two posed in an American Gothic style. It was actually pretty sweet, although hard to photograph, which is why you only get the close up of one of the robots wearing a Santa hat.