Adventures in Colorado: Liberation in Shadow Canyon

Today’s run is a tough one to put into words. Ya kinda “had to be there.”

But if I were to sum it up in a few words, it was powerful and liberating.

Powerful, because of the mighty winds that whipped through the canyon on my way up.

Liberating on the way back down, as I let gravity not only solidify my connection with the Earth, but control my descent back down to the trailhead. There’s something about rocky, technical downhills that make me feel as close to a bird as I might ever experience.

Instead of more words, I’ll just leave you with a few pictures that, believe me, don’t do it justice at all. But they’ll at least start to paint the picture…

Adventures in Colorado: Wide Open Space

Wide open space, howling wind and dogs. Lots and lots of dogs.

I got a lot of work done this morning, so it was time for a break. It’s been 3 days since my last run, so I looked up an area close by on Google Maps. It looked like a trail, and I’m more interested in exploring than I am a workout right now, so let’s give it a go.

About 6 blocks from my house, there’s a quaint, suburban neighborhood with beautiful Summit Middle School tucked in the center. At the end of Tantra road, a wide dirt trail continues towards a small parking lot. The entrance clearly had my name on it.

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Adventures in Colorado: Running with Livestock

I’ve spent the first few days in Boulder unpacking, getting to know my roommates, grocery shopping, and picking up a few things that just didn’t quite make the cut for my road trip. Today, it was time to explore.

After driving through, and arriving in, crappy conditions, the weather has been beautiful all weekend. Upper-40s to mid-50s during the day, with the golden Colorado sun shiny all day long.

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Running Shamrock for Cameron Gallagher

Photo credit goes to speakup5k.com & the CKG Foundation

Before I share my story…

I am raising money for the Cameron K. Gallagher Memorial Foundation, whose mission is:

…to fulfill Cameron’s dream and legacy by being a positive force that works to cultivate awareness and understanding of teenage depression and anxiety.

If you feel inspired by her story, or would like to help the cause, you can donate here. I am trying to raise $131 before the race next weekend, which coincidentally falls on my birthday. No cards, presents or Facebook wall posts, please. Just a small donation to a worthwhile cause.

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Today’s Run: Directions, Parkour & Homeless Happy

It’s amazing what I end up running into. Today’s run was pretty unique, and I’d like to share a few of the interesting things that went down. There’s a “lesson of the day,” as well as a bonus lesson 🙂

This run was a 6-ish mile trail run in preparation for next week’s 10k Scramble at Riverrock.

Giving Directions

About 5 minutes in, a man yelled across 4 lanes of traffic to me, asking for directions to Byrd Park. So I stopped, waiting for traffic to clear, and sprinted across the Mayo Bridge to help a brother in need. I have no idea why he was headed to Byrd Park, but on a beautiful day like today, I knew I had to do whatever I could to get him there.

Lesson #1

Even when you’re training or practicing for something in particular, you should still stop to give directions.

It’s our city. It’s beautiful. We love it here. And we should want everyone to enjoy it as much as we do. So let’s help get people where they want to go. Let’s be honest… there’s way too many cool places in this city for us to leave a man wandering.

Parkour with Ronnie

I’m about 1/3 of the way across the dry rocks, crossing the river on my way to Belle Isle. I stop to try and figure out where the actual course will be. This guy from up on a rock yells down, “You wanna race? I’ve never lost one.”

My first thought was:

“Race someone on slippery rocks, and risk biting it the week before a race? Uh, no thanks.”

My second thought was:

“Well, I could be the first guy to beat you.”

I didn’t say either of those out loud. I honestly don’t remember what I said to him, but he jumped off the rock & said, “Let’s go.” So naturally, I followed.

He was super-nice, and incredibly agile. He grew up here, and has ‘run these rocks’ a thousand times. Sure enough, he got me right to the ladder I was looking for on the other side. Without taking any rock to the face.

Homeless & Happy

As I was finishing up my run (the last 1/4 of a mile), I hear some music jammin’ from afar. At the end of the Belle Isle footbridge, there’s a grungy-looking dude with no shirt on, dancing to the beat of Pharrell’s Happy that was playing from his old school boombox. His moves were sub-par, but his energy & smile were right up there on the top of charts, alongside Pharrell’s hit single.

I thanked him & told him that was awesome, but I kept on running.

I don’t know whether or not he was homeless, but it appeared that he didn’t have much in terms of the physical possessions that you & I so often take for granted. And he was definitely the happiest one out there today.

Lesson #2

When someone is playing music & dancing in a public space, just to make people happy… JOIN THEM!

I regret not stopping for a quick dance.

Boone, NC Mountain Trip

A beautiful week in the mountains with some of the most awesome people on the planet. This one is more personal, for me, because I know I’ll want to reminisce on it again soon. But if you like the mountains and/or interesting headlines that suck you in… you might enjoy it, too.

My friend Janice, the videographer in Durham who organized the trip, put together a short video recap of the week. It’s also perfectly titled, “Mountain Love,” which both together & separately, are really powerful words.

Suzy Goes Bananas

Janice runs into the store real quick to pick up some notebooks. She’s a teacher, OK, so don’t judge. Well… unless they were wide-ruled. Then you can definitely judge.

While waiting, Dave decides to take a little stroll through the parking lot. You know, just to stretch his legs for the lonnnnng, 10-minute drive.

Little did he know, Suzy needed to “stretch her legs”, too. And evil Suzy had a little something up her sleeve.

After an old-fashioned, western-movie staredown—and some shaky camera work by sister Karen—Suzy took aim.

And I’ll let the video tell you the rest…

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway Sign - Group Shot

Just for the record, we’re all incredible karaoke singers. And we’re even better when Janice has her volume set to “I can’t really hear much else around me.”

And Suzy graduated from bananas and moved on to mix tapes. Girl makes a mean compact disc for a road trip.

Surfing & Searching

We stopped at a scenic overlook on the Parkway. However, seeing as there was no scenery to look over (stupid clouds), Suzy & I decided to make it an action-shot overlook. Suzy did the surfing. I did the searching. And we both did it on top picnic tables.

Hey Karen, can we get those pictures off your phone, please?

Grandfather Mountain Hike

Boone NC Grandfather Mountain Hike

4 friends, 2 dogs & one common Grandfather. We love ya, pops.

OK, so he’s not really our “pops.” But he was the perfect going away present to culminate an awesome trip.

Grandfather Mountain profile trailWe hiked Grandfather Mountain on our last day in Boone. Toby (that innocent-looking, golden-brown chow pictured above) tackled his first true mountain hike… like a champ. Murph dog & I got some quality bonding time in. I even let him sprint his way down the trail for a minute or two. The little guy was itching to let loose the whole hike, so I had to run with him for at least a 1/4 mile or so.

Nothing too out-of-the-ordinary. Just peaceful flowing water, mud beneath our feet, fresh mountain air, beautiful views, lush greenery & light conversation. The simple things in life…

The Grandview Restaurant

The Grandview was the morning breakfast spot. A 5-minute walk from the house, and a “grand view” of Grandfather Mountain. And they accommodated our request for a “plate of hash browns topped with whatever vegetables you have.” Hey, it’s a diner & there were 2 vegans in the house. Sometimes you gotta get creative.

Mountain Grounds Coffee Shop

Mountain Grounds coffee shop in Banner Elk was homebase for getting work done. Peaceful little place with great service. A good energy for being productive. Ha… too bad I played way more Candy Crush than I did work.

The Vegan Threesome

One night we went out to dinner in Boone. Forget the name of the place, but it was a build-your-own-burrito kind of joint. And build one, I did. A mighty tasty one.

All your typical stuff to start with… rice, beans, lettuce, onion, etc. And then I added in the real flavor. Pineapple, corn & guacamole… seriously, it’s an orgy in your mouth.

They should name this thing after me. And I’d like to call it the: Vegan Threesome

I would show you pictures, but the things I did to this burrito are illegal in all 50 states… and Mexico.

Seven Devils

I’m not sure why they call them devils, or why there are seven of them, but this was the town I did my first run through. Did I say town? I’m sorry, I meant mountain. This is the mountain I did my run up, not through.

I was on the hunt for some mountain trails, but had trouble finding some near the house. I was running along the main road when I saw a giant yellow sign. It said “Warning” in huge letters at the top.

“OK, sign, you have my attention. What’s that all about?” I asked.

“Steep grade & sharp curves ahead.”

Done. Sold. Say no more. This wasn’t a sign, but an invitation. “Welcome to Seven Devils, Dave. Please come in, and come up. You won’t regret it.”

The next 2.5 miles consisted of the most elevation I’ve ever climbed in a 2 mile stretch. Up, up & up, as the road kept winding back-and-forth in each direction. And although I know I would be gassed if I ran the whole thing… I kept running. I was determined to meet the devils… all seven of ’em.

Seven Devils, NC Mountain Run

1,100 ft. of climbing & 2 miles later, I reached the [Rocky] Top. I had a brief spiritual moment when I looked down into the valley on the other side of the mountain. There’s something so powerful, yet so humble, about ascending mountains on your own two feet.

The run back down wasn’t quite as fun, but I was more than happy to pay that price for my experience at the top.

Price Lake

While driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stop at Price Lake. The girls walked the dogs & took pictures. We bumped into a family walking the other direction on the trail, and asked them how long the trail was. 2.3 miles. I asked the girls if they would mind if I ran around it real quick, and met them back at the car. They were fine with it, as long as I made it back in 20 minutes.

What a FUN twenty minutes!

Slippin’ & slidin’ on mud, ducking under tree branches, splashing in mud puddles, leaping over water barriers, flashing across wooden bridges… halfway point I stopped for a beautiful view and some O2… continued through a campground, past an amphitheater, back onto the Parkway for a brief stretch, and let the trail take me back home. 21 minutes of muddy, awesome, trail running. Ahhh 🙂

Dave at Price Lake Sign, Blue Ridge Parkway

Soooo… when are we going back?

Today’s Run: Storms, Frogs & Girls

In an effort to document my thoughts while I’m out running (because that’s always the big question when someone learns that you run distance), here’s how it went down today.

I began the run excited to get rained on. It’s been a while since I ran in a nice downpour, and I was looking forward to it.

Early on, I got passed by a group of about a dozen mountain bikers. I thought it was awesome they were out there, too. I’m not the only crazy one who loves the rain.

I started to notice little frogs jumping out of the way, off the trail into the brush. I’ve seen a frog or two out there before, but never this many. Maybe a dozen in my 7-mile trek. Unusual. Is it just the time of year they like to come out & play? Is it something about the weather patterns? Did they just stop using protection?

After that last thought, I realized I didn’t care enough to spend any more brain power on the topic.

I’m wondering how my feet are holding up. It sounds awfully squishy down there, and my socks are not the greatest. I don’t want to get blisters with a big hill workout tomorrow.

Then I passed two dudes walking from the parking lot of North Bank Trail, heading back into their cars. I thought about the bill that was being discussed in the Supreme Court today about same-sex marriage. I wonder if they’re gay? If they are… good for them. If they’re not… good for them.

I saw some late teen-early twenty kids walking through the parking lot. They were probably hanging out at Texas Beach… possibly up to no good, but perhaps just having a good time, like teenagers do. Who knows? And who am I to judge?

Ooooh, my favorite section of North Bank Trail. Let’s see how fast I can run it…

Dangit. Cramp. B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Relax. Get yourself together. … OK, now turn back on the jets…

I got onto Belle Isle and passed that same group of mountain bikers I saw earlier. And now that it was downpouring, I connected eyes with several of them, and we just smiled at each other, as if to silently say, “Doesn’t get any better than this!” 🙂

While at the top of Belle Isle, I reminisced about a conversation I had about myself, in regards to a previous relationship I was in. Also got me thinking about my current girl situation. No big revelations here, just a few minutes of simple contemplation.

I should probably head home. Don’t want to push it too much today. I’ve got a massage, hot yoga & a hill workout tomorrow.

Some of the water splashed down from the Lee Bridge as I ran along the pedestrian bridge. It was really warm. Wonder where exactly it traveled before reaching my face. Kinda nasty… but the heavy drops of water felt great.

A girl came down from Oregon Hill, and started running in front of me. I passed her on the flat. We exchanged pleasantries. I thought I was running past her at a pretty good pace, but sure enough, a few minutes later, she was right on my tail.

I kept my eye over my shoulder. If she was getting too close, I’d either move off to the side to let her pass… or just run faster. That kept my attention almost the entire way back.

Once returning to the parking lot, I let out a few claps & whooo’s, and a “That was awesome!”

THE END

Nike Women’s Half Marathon, Costumes & Friendships

This weekend was filled with great moments & memories. Let’s start with the Nike Women’s Half Marathon (#werundc).

Cheering Section

Typically, I’m the one running the race. But for this one, I was on the other side of things. And let me say, I honestly think spectating might be more exhausting than actually running.

  • Perfectionists making signs = lots of pressure. We spent over 2 hours brainstorming, googling, outlining, erasing, outlining again, taping, gluing & coloring signs the night before the race… some of which weren’t even seen until after the race.
  • Walking + Standing Still + Signs Overhead > Running? Not to take anything away from the amazing women that ran 13.1 miles (Amy, Bmass, E$$, Joan, Sally et al.), but spectating is exhausting. Please let it be known, that while exhausting, it’s worth every second.

Queen of Hearts

The costume of all costumes.

I love dressing up, looking silly, etc. at races — both while running & just cheering. But this weekend I took it to a whole ‘nother level. Amy was the (slutty?) Queen of Hearts for Halloween one year… but this year it was my turn. I knew I’d get a few laughs, but for a minute there, I forgot I was in our nation’s capital… AND that there were 15,000 people running.

Some highlights from the reactions I received:

  • 1 block from the house, before we even reached the Metro, a woman said, “I like your tutu.” That was only the beginning.
  • A guy helping with setup said to me, before the first runners came by, “Nice skirt. Are you wearing any underwear?” — That’s your question?! Of all the comments you could’ve made, you went with that? Oh, and when you’re wearing an outfit like that, it’s not underwear, dude. They’re panties. And yes, I was wearing them.
  • One of the 500 or so guys that were running, said, in his best Petey the blind kid voice, “Pretty girl.”
  • I was blown at least 2 kisses (that I’m aware of)
  • The cat calls were loud & consistent
  • One young lady put her handmade phone up to her ear and muttered, “Call me.” I think she might’ve been serious. She was hot, too.
  • Shortly after that, a man with a bright yellow vest & a whistle walked by, and T’d me up. Technical Foul. That was definitely a first.
  • One woman told me to work on filling it out (aka: get a boob job). Then some guy I just met 5 minutes earlier replied, “She’s working on it.”
  • I had more pictures taken than there are monuments in DC.
  • Another guy at the finish told me he saw me on the course, and laughed so hard he almost face-planted. No worries. He finished without a scrape on him.
  • Last but certainly not least, a woman at the finish just had to get a picture with me. She proceded to ask what I was wearing “under there.” I told her my typical boxer briefs. She then helped herself to lift up my skirt & take a peak. #cougartown

Making A Difference

One of the most important realizations I took away from the weekend was from the costume I wore, and the impact it had. I’m sharing it with you not to brag, nor looking for attention. I’m sharing it with you because it’s powerful. And you should all know that you can have the same impact on people (costume not necessary).

I expected a few laughs, a few more smiles, and perhaps a random high-five or two. But the reactions by thousands of women were overwhelming. Literally thousands of people smiled, laughed, cheered, fist-pumped, clapped, high-fived & even hugged… partly because of the costume I had on.

I knew none of these people. And I won’t ever see them again (except for maybe that girl who said to call her… if you’re reading this, hit me up in the comments, haha). But for those few short seconds — if only in a small way — I helped add something positive to their experience today. Whether you believe it or not, I’m telling you, that energy is contagious. I guarantee you more people did uplifting things today because of the positive energy that was created & shared.

It could’ve been any number of different costumes. A funny sign. The use of a stranger’s first name. A random high-five. Or just a smile that you share with a fellow runner.

These things matter. And when people drive home after a race, and their family & friends ask them “how was it?!”, they will undoubtedly say something positive, and say it with a smile. Thus, spreading more positive energy beyond the running community.

Which brings me to…

Friendship

I’ve said this before, and it’s worth repeating (because reminders are helpful). I haven’t done the greatest job of 1) keeping in touch with old friends, and 2) seizing the moment & hanging out with the friends I have right now. But I’m realizing more & more how important/awesome/necessary it is to do both.

I have some of the most awesome friends on the planet. Some of them I see regularly. Others, once or twice a year. And some we go years without seeing each other. But this world is filled with awesome people, and I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of really cool ones.

Remind your friends how awesome they are. When they ask you to hang out, drop what you’re doing and go chill for an hour… or a weekend. 99% of the time, it’s way more important than whatever else you were doing.

Awesome weekend, friends. Thanks for making it one to remember 🙂