A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

A strong appetite, average palate, and weak writing, mixed with outdoor adventure.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Yard Happenings

Gardening is easy, when you have access to lots of running water. I recognize that Denver’s climate, if not supplemented, would provide enough rain to cover the land in tough, brown grasses. Compliments of Denver Water and high water bill, we have a bevy of vegetables.

Members of the squash family have taken over the front yard. Vines snake across the yard and front porch, and will likely circumnavigate the fence line before the growing season is done.


Unknown squash. It looks like an acorn squash, but we did not plant them.


A green pumpkin, with its orange hue beginning to show.

Tomatoes and Thai basil are the success stories in the backyard. These two are shading out beets, carrot, and onions, but given our love of tomatoes and basil, this slow motion shadow induced suffocation is welcome.


And occasionally, a surprise, beyond the usual weeds, leaps forth. In this case, a stinkhorn mushroom. Phallic and malodorous, they are delicate and fade quickly beneath the summer sun.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thundering Herd of Testicles

In a stunning display of self-propelled motivation, Alan, Brandon, the Texan, Stam, Brody, and me ran the Wild West Relay. A 198-mile run across high plains and mountain passes, from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs, via Wyoming. It was the first relay for any of us.

Our team, the Thundering Herd of Testicles, was but a drop in the bucket of sexually charged names. The roster read like the mutterings of a 15-year old boy: Tits in the Wind, Whiskey Dicks, and Rammin’ it up the Pass, being amongst those lacking in subtlety.

The Texan and I thought it prudent to carb-load the night before, which was achieved with the assistance of Tecate. So with 1/3 of the team suffering a lack of sleep, dehydration, and a touch of nausea, sometimes referred to as a hangover, Stam toed the start line at 6 AM and we were off.


We were an “ultra” team, meaning no more than six runners, with each of us running legs ranging from 29-37 miles. A typical leg looks like this:

  • Runner departs
  • Drive past in the van 20 minutes later playing this
  • Wait at exchange area for runner
  • Runner arrives
  • Baton exchanged
  • Runner departs, and repeat until Steamboat Springs

An inordinate amount of time is spent in the vehicle, a 12-passenger van, rented, with maximum insurance coverage given what we knew would be a tired state. Within minutes it was awash in water bottles, running shoes, snacks, and odor, as though a river of locker room detritus had been deposited amidst the bench seats.


Energy was high in the morning amongst all teams. Lots of music, people throwing footballs at the exchanges, and a casual camaraderie at the exchanges. Like the arc of daylight, this intensity peaked mid-afternoon and then slowly receded.

Running through the night, over mountains (thanks to Stam and Alan) and across high plains beneath a full moon, was a surreal experience. The slow pace and lack of distraction quieted the mind, especially when coupled with fatigue. Sleeping in the van was a challenge, in fact, I am not sure Alan even slept. Mid-night exchanges were hushed affairs and the sun an eventual welcome sight with which to sync our body clocks.

The finish seemed inconsequential compared to what we did. Over 30 hours of running that ceased with the crossing of the line. The team crossed together, laughing and cheering as we once again, in a stadium announcer voice, we heard our team name called: and coming in now is the “Thuuuunderingggg Herd of Testicles”.




Brody reacts to a botched exchange. On a 30 hour run this 4 second delay proves inconsequential.


Alan fading from view on a leg that featured 1,800 feet of climbing.


Brandon running a downhill at such speed that we almost did not catch him before the exchange. Look close, he does not touch the ground when he runs.


That is me tying my shoe. I suffered a foot injury weeks before and was nervous about how I would hold up. Swapping out insoles made a huge difference. 


Brody heading out on his 3rd leg. With the sunset to his left and an empty road he cruised the centerline amidst the towering silence of southern of Wyoming.


The Texan and I handing off. This was my 5th leg and I was dragging through the first half. On the second half the sunrise was accompanied by a song that I listened to a lot while running off the misery of divorce and it struck a chord. The realization of all that I have, including the health to spend 2 days with friends in pursuit of the asinine, replete with laughter and support, had me in tears. Rather than being heavy, I was lightened, and although I cannot claim to have suddenly been running 7 minute miles, I could not stop smiling as I loped through the high plains.


Stam and Brody reading up on the next leg


Stam cheering on a fellow runner


Alan, the team captain, running the numbers.


Things get intimate


Alan and Brandon exchanging atop a brutal climb. We watched a rubber-legged runner suffering from heat exhaustion nearly collapse into her teammates’ arms here.


A hummingbird at the Red Feather Lakes Village General Store.


Stam, a hill climbing machine, cruising Forest Service land


Foot numbing mountain stream soak


Stam grabbing a rest in the long shadows of the afternoon


The Texan tiptoes across a cattle guard at the Colorado and Wyoming border.


The “Turtles” and their irreverent hood ornament


It looks like a pending proposal as the Texan and Brody exchange.


The Texan and I grabbed showers and soup at a local high school. Runners were sleeping in the halls and the gym, it looked like an athletic refugee camp.


The final exchange, Brody is 5 miles of circuitous and sun soaked glory from the finish line.


Foot maintenance.


The Texan and Alan doing some post-race wallerin’ in the Yampa River.