Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Seven Hundred Sixty-Three

January 30, 2018
7.51 Miles in 1:15:50
Mood: Slow, even though it didn't feel that way.
Soundtrack: The Oh Hellos "Dear Wormwood"

I didn't feel slow on this run, but I couldn't even clock in at averaging under 10 minutes per mile. Perhaps I'm just getting old and slowing down, or maybe I'm eating too much cheese lately. Whatever the reason, I had a fun run that felt solid and clocked in at a snails pace. I woke up a bit earlier than normal, and decided to just get up and start my day 20 minutes early rather than stare at the ceiling in my bed, so I was up and out a bit earlier than normal. That led to getting to see a pretty swanky sunrise. I mean, I usually get to see the sun rise in January when I'm on a run, but I guess I just got to see more of it and from a slightly different vantage point than usual (as I was further down the trail than I usually am when it pops up over the horizon.)

Despite the fact that it has now been 9 days since the snow fell, and many of those days have been unseasonably warm, there are still large stretches of icy trail along the Highline Canal. It's not nearly as bad as when I was risking life and limb by running on them last Friday, but there is still much more snow leavings on the road than I feel is reasonable this long after it fell. And we may get even more white stuff falling before the next time I run, so the problem may get even worse. The good news is that I have made it through January (my next run won't be until February), so I inch ever closer to spring and all the glory that spring entails. Winter cannot last forever!

Seven Hundred Sixty-Two

January 28, 2018
7.53 Miles in 1:11:55
Mood: Historical
Soundtrack: The Barenaked Ladies "Rock Spectacle" / The Milk Carton Kids "Prologue" / Bebo Norman "Ten Thousand Days"

I love it when a run sends me on a history lesson. It happened as I ran through a small park just north of Wash Park called Hungarian Freedom Park. This one is a little sad, but I'm glad I now know about it. Apparently in the fall of 1956, a small group of Hungarian students launched a rebellion against the USSR. As an eastern bloc country, they were under Soviet control, and for a few weeks they fought for freedom against their oppressors, only to be violently put down. It started on October 23, and briefly it looked like it might actually lead to real freedom. On October 31st, the Kremlin actually sounded like it might listen and respond to the rebels demands, but secretly they were just biding time to allow for a military force to arrive and quash dissent. On November 10th, that military response hit with a vengeance, and by the time all was said and done, over 2500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were dead and the Soviets were back in control.

In Hungary, basically any mention of this brief uprising was harshly punished, but a group of Hungarians in the 1960's came together in Denver to create a park as a memorial. Arlington Park was renamed to Hungarian Freedom Park in 1966 and then after funds were raised to create it, this monument was raised in 1971 to commemorate those who died. Apparently the art is to represent a Hungarian man crashing through the iron curtain, although to me it seems more like he dented the iron curtain and died as a result, which may have been more appropriate and perhaps even the intent of the artist Zoltan Popovits. It's kind of a strange piece of art, but it led me to discover this bit of international history that otherwise I would have known nothing about, and for that, I am thankful.

As one last bit of the story, in 1989 when Communism fell, October 23rd was made a national holiday in Hungary to remember this uprising.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Seven Hundred Sixty-One

January 26, 2018
7.03 Miles in 1:11:09
Mood: I laugh at danger.
Soundtrack: Arctic Monkeys "AM" / Lupe Fiasco "Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor"

I really wanted to run on the Highline Canal Trail. So much so, that despite the fact that it was STILL over 50% covered in ice, I decided to give it a shot. It turns out that it probably wasn't quite ready for me, and it also turns out that the amount of concentration required to make sure every single foot fall happens in a non-slick area when you're running on solid ice is exhausting. Usually when I run the Highline I go round trip, but that was NOT happening as by the time I made it to my usual ending spot, I was spiritually unprepared to turn around and negotiate all that frozen water for a second time, so I ran back on the streets on a less fulfilling, but ultimately safer route.

I regret nothing about taking the risk to run on ice, as I was able to see this sunrise, which was even more spectacular in person than it is in this pretty dang strong iPhone photo. Sunrises are the best, you guys.

Seven Hundred Sixty

January 25, 2018
7.02 Miles in 1:09:59
Mood: Praying for snow to melt.
Soundtrack: Neutral Milk Hotel "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" / The Oh Hellos "Dear Wormwood"

I had hoped that since it was now Thursday, that Sunday's snowfall would have melted enough to allow me to run on the Highline Canal. Unfortunately, when I arrived at my usual port of entry to the Highline, I found it to be caked in ice and snow piles that would be extremely treacherous to try and run upon, so with a heavy heart, I trudged back to Panama Street and continued running west on a much less scenic and fun path. (Although, it does include the two brick pillars shown above with frog statues sitting upon them, so not all was lost.)

I was able to make it all the way to the southern tip of Sterne Park and back, and halfway through, I figured I was going to easily hit the 8 mile mark on my run if not more because of how far I had gone and at a decent pace, however, on the return trip home, I was hit with a fairly significant low blood sugar. It wasn't one that felt dangerous, but I ate my emergency pack of peanut butter and hoped that I'd recover enough to finish strong, but it pretty much wiped me out for the rest of the morning and I barely made it to 7 miles. Still, not a terrible outing, and I learned that I adore The Oh Hellos song "Dear Wormwood" and the album by the same name is pretty solid too.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Seven Hundred Fifty-Nine

January 23, 2018
7.60 Miles in 1:17:43
Mood: Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? A little too ironic, yeah I really do think.
Soundtrack: Counting Crows "Films About Ghosts: The Best of Counting Crows" / The Beef and Dairy Network Podcast

After a pretty solid winter storm dropped so much snow that running on Sunday was impossible (or maybe just more impractical), I was very much hoping that a warm Monday did enough melting that the streets and paths I frequent would be usable. I tried to hit up the Highline Canal trail, but it had so much snow and ice on it that I couldn't get any good footing, making it pretty much useless for running. Then I tried to just run on Panama Street, but there is still so much ice and snow that haven't been cleared from the roads, that there are just vast swaths of slippery ground where normally I would run on a street. I was sad that I wouldn't be able to go very far from home thanks to the dangerous roads, but at least I had the Streets at Southglenn and their safe and snow removed sidewalks, perfectly dry and free from danger.

After two miles of icy roads, I arrived at the outdoor mall which doubles as my outdoor track on days where I either need Pokemon Go supplies or the rest of the world is just too icy, and as I made my VERY FIRST TURN, I tripped and fell. The irony of surviving treacherous streets only to fall down on a perfectly dry sidewalk made me laugh to myself. Fortunately, the fall was pretty smooth, and I didn't hurt myself in the least. My phone had slipped out of my pocket when I hit the deck, so I picked it up, and decided to take a photo from my vantage point on my back...you can see that photo above. Buildings look a little taller when you have the perspective of an ant.

I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and put in another five miles after taking the spill. It wasn't a terribly exciting run, but I am right on track for my 100 mile month, and I needed to get a good run in today to stay on track, so I was thankful for the miles. Hopefully by Thursday the snow will have melted to the point where I can venture out into the world a little further than I was able to do today.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Seven Hundred Fifty-Eight

January 19, 2018
7.27 Miles in 1:12:13
Mood: Warm feelings from warm temperatures and friendly folks on the trail.
Soundtrack: Fleet Foxes "Helplessness Blues"

On Tuesday, I began a run with temps at 3 degrees and three days later, it was 45 degrees warmer. It was so nice, I didn't even need a sweatshirt, and non-sweatshirt runs in January are pretty rare. I feel like I'm being spoiled, but I notice the forecast for Sunday is for snow with highs in the low 20's, so I'll pay for it later.

It has been over a week since I ran my familiar section of the Highline Canal, so I decided to revisit my very well worth path once again. One of my favorite parts of running this particular stretch is that probably 90% of the time that I run north through DeKoevend Park and on through the canal trail, I run into this older couple walking south. They are always super friendly and wave at me with smiles. I don't even know their names, but they feel like friends as we have our early morning ritual of crossing paths almost every time I run north on the canal trail. I saw them again this morning, we waved at each other yet again, and I felt just that little much better about the world as a result. So a salute to my unknown friends and a note of thankfulness that they are in my life in this tiny tiny way. I really like them.

Finally, the sky was super purple this morning. You only vaguely get a sense of it from this photo, but it was a purplicious sunrise. 

Seven Hundred Fifty-Seven

January 18, 2018
7.32 Miles in 1:13:45
Mood: Heading in a different direction than normal, just because.
Soundtrack: 99% Invisible / What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law / The Memory Palace / The Avett Brothers "A Carolina Jubilee"

As the sky was rising behind the architecture at the Streets at Southglenn, I was struck by how much it looked like a Van Gogh painting. Pretty sweet sunrise, to be sure! It was nice to be treated to such a view as I circled the outdoor mall and farmed Pokemon supplies for the first third of this run.

After I was done getting stocked up on a silly mobile phone game, I decided to head south for a change and run through some parks and neighborhoods I haven't visited in quite some time. It was a nice morning, and I felt like a change of pace. I didn't really hit up anything new, but it was nice to go places I haven't seen on a run in months.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Seven Hundred Fifty-Six

January 16, 2018
8.81 Miles in 1:35:10
Mood: Getting up early and exploring new icy worlds.
Soundtrack: Twenty One Pilots "Blurryface"

My mother-in-law had been in town for Ellie's birthday weekend, and her flight was uncomfortably early in the morning. This created a situation where my running plan became intertwined with an airport trip. I awoke at 3:30 in the morning to take her to DIA, and then drove somewhat near my work with a backpack full of clothes to change into and bathroom supplies so that I could go immediately to work and shower and change there before beginning my working day.

This meant that I was running in areas I was less familiar with, and doing so much earlier in the morning. Thanks to a January snowstorm that had fallen the day before and a bitter cold snap that night, it meant that this run was going to be slippery and freezing.

Thankfully, I had bundled up significantly, so I was dressed warm enough for the chill. However, the slipperiness of the even are what led to my ridiculously slow pace. For very large stretches of this run, I had to go slow and run like a ninny so that I didn't fall and kill myself on black ice. It didn't help that it was dark for most of the run, so my vision of the unfamiliar paths I was treading were difficult to perceive. It was a tough run.

I started at Wallace Park, and the first ten minutes were brutally cold. I debated if this whole endeavor was a fool's errand, but then I warmed up enough to get into it. I headed North, and my plan was to make it back to Bible Park for the second straight run and then come back. I had figured in my head that the trip would be about a seven mile run, and I would have been correct if Bible Park wasn't a bit of a trap. If you look at the map, there are three bridges which provide  exits to the park on the East, South and West sides. I knew from my Sunday run that the bridge on the South side was under construction, but I figured I could still use the West bridge to escape the Park and get headed back to Wallace Park. However, as I ran, I discovered that the City of Denver is simultaneously rebuilding all three bridges, so the only exit possible from the park at this time is on the North side of the park. This meant that after I had run along the east side of the park to the very North end then all the way to the South End of the Park, I had to run all the way back to the North End to get out. This added a good mile and a half to my run, and extended my stay in the freezing cold. I'd be annoyed about this, but by this time, I was kind of enjoying discovering new routes that I've never before tread, so I wasn't that bummed out by being forced to spend more time in Bible Park.

When I finally got back to the car, I rushed to work where I took a very long warm shower which felt QUITE amazing, and by the time I started working at 8:30 in the morning, I had already been awake for over five hours, which is sorta insane. I started this run so early in the morning that the photo above was taken about halfway through my run, and the light is only barely starting to break on the park. It was a cold and dark run, and I pretty much enjoyed almost all of it. (Apart from that horrifically chilly first 10 minutes.)

Seven Hundred Fifty-Five

January 14, 2018
7.58 Miles in 1:12:34
Mood: Exploring new trails and looking forward to birthday celebrations.
Soundtrack: Twenty One Pilots "Vessel"

My original plan was to circle Bible Park several time, as it is home to a Wailmer nest, and that is a Pokemon I enjoy, and I've been around Bible Park enough times to know it's a solid running locale. However, after my first loop around the park, I discovered that it connects to the Highline Canal Trail, and suddenly the plan became to connect to the Canal trail and see portions of it that I've never run on before, as I was significantly North and East of my usual section of the trail.

This portion is inferior to my normal section, as it is almost all paved. In fact, I think I may have found the least beautiful portion of the entire 70 mile trail, as most of the time as I was running I was on a paved trail that was in the midst of uninspiring apartment complexes and only augmented by a few uninspiring trees. However, at the very end of my exploration of this section of the Highline, I found a section where it intersects with the Cherry Creek Trail, and there were some beautiful views and nice areas right along the creek which redeemed the run.

It was nice getting to see new sections (even if they aren't the best sections) of my favorite trail, and in general, this was a pretty great feeling run. It was made even better by the fact that it was a Sunday morning, and I knew I didn't have to go to work the next day because of Martin Luther King Day. Plus, there was Ellie's Birthday Party to look forward to, as well as a stay at Great Wolf Lodge later that day which was also to celebrate my daughter turning 13, so I was in a great mood that morning.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Seven Hundred Fifty-Four

January 12, 2018
7.36 Miles in 1:11:45
Mood: They're buildin' stuff!
Soundtrack: Tired Pony "The Place We Ran From"

I did a very normal route on the Highline Canal trail, and I found some big news regarding a spot I like on the trail. Apparently this spring they will be building an overlook in this very pretty area that has a view of a giant field, a farm, and the mountains. Not sure when it'll be done, but it's supposed to be getting under way this month, so I'll keep stopping by to check on the progress.

As for this run, it felt pretty solid, for a change. Lately I've not felt super great, but this run was a refreshing return to moving well and getting miles that felt somewhat easy.

The photo for this run was taken just as the sun was getting ready to rise. The morning had a very bluish feel to it. There was a little bit of orange as the sun came up, but blue dominated the skies. It was a pretty blue, though.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Seven Hundred Fifty-Three

January 10, 2018
7.85 Miles in 1:18:00
Mood: The sun and I were both in a hurry today.
Soundtrack: Passenger "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"

The sun rose in a bright burst this morning. It felt even quicker than normal, as for about two minutes, the skies were bright orange, and then it was over and everything was gray and overcast. Felt pretty unique in the moment, as the transition from pretty to muted so rarely happens THAT quickly.

I was also in a bit of a hurry this morning, as I wanted to finish up a little earlier than normal, since I had decided to run on a Wednesday and I had to get in a full day at work and still get off in time to run basketball practice for my fourth grade boys team. That meant that I was resting less and trying to keep pushing to get in my miles. I did a pretty decent job of keeping moving, which I guess led to somewhat less than great speeds, but it was still a pretty sweet run.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Seven Hundred Fifty-Two

January 7, 2018
7.82 Miles in 1:14:19
Mood: Sweet tree carving, man!
Soundtrack: Passenger "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" and "All the Little Lights"

I have been running around Wash Park for quite awhile, but I never until this run ran just a little north and west of the park which would allow me to see this super cool tree carving. Thankfully, due to a little bit of prodding from a desirable Pokemon in Pokemon Go, I found this amazing work of art on my run. It's the bottom ten feet of an actual tree that was cut down and then carved into, so it's hard to get a good angle for a photo. However, it's a really cool thing to see in person.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Seven Hundred Fifty-One

January 5, 2018
7.28 Miles in 1:11:32
Mood: Happy and pink.
Soundtrack: Cold War Kids "LA DIVINE"

The beauty of the sunrise this morning was pretty spectacular. The prerequisite is amazing clouds, and as you can see, there were amazing clouds this morning. Then God got the pinkness levels just right and it was a pretty glorious morning to look up. Also, the run was on point. Great morning, fun run, and it was pretty warm (for a January morning). Yay running!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Seven Hundred Fifty

January 3, 2018
7.23 Miles in 1:12:26
Mood: Somebody stole the moon.
Soundtrack: The After Disaster / 99% Invisible / The Bill Simmons Podcast

It is insane how the morning moon disappears in iPhone photos. The picture taken above has the moon in it, only I can't tell where because it refuses to show up in pictures. If you were at this spot on the Highline Canal on Wednesday morning, the moon was huge and bright and magnificent, yet when you try to take a picture of it, it completely disappears. It's kind of a bummer too, because when you're looking at the morning moon and it's this bright, it's quite beautiful. I guess it's another of those "You had to be there" kind of things. I'm sad you can't see the moon I saw, though.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Seven Hundred Forty-Nine

January 1, 2018
7.15 Miles in 1:07:12
Mood: A change of venue is sometimes required.
Soundtrack: Hamilton Original Cast Recording

My original plan for the first run of 2018 was to circle Huston Lake Park, because it was a nest for a very rare Pokemon called Carvahna. As you can see by the split maps below, this plan did not last long. The first reason that I bailed on the plan was that the park was not as large as I had hoped it would be. The second, and more pressing reason, was that as I began my second lap around Huston Lake, my body began to rebel against me in a most unpleasant way. It made me stop running and immediately focused my attention from getting exercise to getting to a toilet as fast as humanly possible.

I wish I could tell you that I was able to hold it together and didn't have to poop in the middle of a public park in Denver. I would, unfortunately, be lying if I told you this. Thankfully, the park was super empty, as it was early in the morning on New Years Day, so pretty much NO ONE was out. I found a secluded a place as I could find, hidden behind a giant tree, and quickly took care of the issue at hand that was quite clearly not going to wait one minute longer. After that, I beelined it to my car and then headed to a nearby Safeway to clean both my body and my spirit.

About 20 minutes later, I had relocated to Wash Park, and put in another six miles without incident. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to show my face again in Huston Lake Park. Not that anyone but me knows what happened there (apart from whoever might find their way to this blog, of course), but I will know what happened and that might be enough to keep me away from there forever. Of course, I am doing a bang up job if my New Years Resolution happened to be "Get back to nature".