Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rain, Perspective, small races (Sean May Memorial Run), and THX-1138

It rained a lot in Denver this week - the flow in Cherry Creek (aka the Cherry Creek Memorial Denver Storm Drain) jumped by 70 times overnight. I took a few photos on the Friday morning commute.

Here's the confluence really moving:



Here's the creek up over the bike path:



Here it is thinking about coming up over a little bridge:



And here of course is the death-defying plasticized pedestrian bridge that gets infinitely slick with the most minimal moisture:



I've been trying to crash on this thing for years, but haven't managed to do it yet.

Of course none of this compares even in the slightest to the flooding going on in the south currently - which puts our wet Denver in perspective. By today, the rain had stopped, baseball was back on (even though you could get pretty much any seat in the house for $5 on a cold, humid Sunday), and Cherry Creek was back to its normal demure self.

So Cherry Creek crested at 700 cfs. How much could the walled channel along the bike path hold? I think it's huge, like 30,000 cfs. Someone else (more rational) said maybe 7-10,000.

Aside: During the ride a few other intrepid commuters took time out of their day to warn me that: "DON'T GO ANY FURTHER THERE'S FLOODING AHEAD!!!" It's wonderful universal human trait - we have the inborn desire to warn each other about the obvious. I remember once backpacking along in the glorious summer sun and encountering a trail sign festooned with notes of all sizes warning that the trail was CLOSED from TOO MUCH SNOW!!! Sure, but then August eventually comes.


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I've written here about some of the races I've run. I left out a lot of small races I've entered over the years, and a lot of these were the most meaningful and fun - and certainly I've had some of my greatest "glories" (in perspective, of course). Like a random 8k (?) I ran at City Park years ago, where I suffered through a poor breakfast decision (a big baguette with lots of butter) to third place. There were maybe six of us in the last 3/4 mile, and suddenly this older guy came blasting up with the craziest running style I'd ever seen. He was practically falling forward, with his legs kicking out diagonally. It looked like he was trying to swim - but he was going incredibly fast. It completely threw us for a loop - a few guys laughed and fell off the pace, he sped past, and another guy followed me and we got in behind him to finish. No one took our pictures, we got a little medal, I threw up, and we went home to enjoy the day.

Or the little-known but longstanding Carbondale Mt. Sopris Runoff - 16 miles from Basalt to Carbondale up over the shoulder of Mt. Sopris (on a dirt road). This one is something like $10, and I think of all people Matt Carpenter has the record. I showed up to "race" my friend from Carbondale, who proceeded to absolutely destroy me. However, the paper ran my picture with his name under it. Then the next year they ran my picture again with the same error. There were some random comments that helped us both keep our perspective - I think someone say that he looked good with a full head of hair. Someone told me that he looked like he had gained weight in the photo. Such is life.

So this weekend, I ran the Sean May Memorial Run. Sean May was a Denver deputy district attorney who tragically and senselessly died far before his time. Access to Justice and others run a 5k and a 9 mile in his honor and as a fundraiser at Barr Lake.

I did the 9 mile, and of course I did what I've done at races since I was 10 - go out too fast, go into the hurt locker, and suffer until the finish. Which raises the question of why do I keep doing races. There were four of us at the front (with my coworker sensibly marking us). Two guys were obviously strong. One guy blew up, the strong two took off, and I suffered along by myself around Barr Lake keeping a little over a six-minute pace. Soon enough, I ran into the remnants of the 5k race, which hid the fact my steady coworker was coming up. He ran out of trail, though, and I got third. Third seems to be a pattern for me.

It was fun, and of course while I ran along I thought about how all our time here is limited/borrowed, and how might I best spend some of that said time.

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Suitably inspired (?), we finally watched THX-1138, a movie about living life to the fullest. I was expecting dour/ponderous, like Logan's Run or Planet of the Apes, but it was really fun. There's a lot of (dark) humor there, that very much reminds me of the scientifically organized buffoonery of the Communist era. Some of that reminded me of "Lives of Others" - another movie about living under constant surveillance. The ending is supposed to be open-ended, but birds (accidentally?) fly across the setting sun, which for me made the result obvious. In any case, it was good.

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