Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Danger zone.

This is one of those evenings where it's chilly outside, I took an exhausting bike ride earlier, and proceeded to eat like a pig after said bike ride.  I am on my couch, in my pajamas, with hot tea and a subscription to Hulu Plus.  I've turned the heat on and it's warming up nicely in my apartment.  That being said, I have entered the "danger zone", where I am in "danger" of being passed out on the couch with the lights on and in a matter of minutes, likely only to wake up to piss out the tea.  That's all I got today, sweet dreams to me.   

Weathering the weather.

It's cold today.  Like the coldest I have felt in years.  Cold by even the standards of those that tolerate cold weather.  I actually felt alright about it and even took a walk this morning to the bank and survived.  Being okay with it getting in to the 20's and 30's is, I suppose, some coping mechanism that I have unconsciously come up with in order to deal with having my first winter in seven years.  (insert long sigh)  

I have spent the past ten years of my life living and traveling around the world.  The number one reason I have done this is to get away from all wintry and cold weather.  Sure I love traveling, but winter is what has forced me to do it.  For the past seven years I have avoided winter completely.  After the last winter I spent in Denver(2006-2007)I swore up and down I would never spend another winter in Denver ever again.  That winter set a record for the longest consecutive number of days with snow on the ground.  It was blizzard after blizzard after blizzard and the snow was piled up around town.  I lived too far from work to walk, and riding my bike was out of the question making me subject to waiting at the bus stop every single day in those awful conditions.  Every miserable, freezin' ass day I spent waiting at the bus stop, all I could dream about was the following winter when I would not be there, no matter the consequences.  I have kept that promise to myself, until now.

I have decided to stay in Denver for at least this winter.  I decided that during some 90°+ June day, but it was decided and here I am.  I had returned to Denver from Buenos Aires in June and was planning to stay for only the summer and then carry on traveling, or perhaps move back to California.  Life has its ways and I found myself head over heels in love with Denver all over again that I decided winter had greater appeal than leaving/traveling/moving did at the time.  After so much leaving/traveling/moving the past decade of my life, I found myself longing to just stay put and not be consumed with where I was going to go next.  I am happy with my decision to stay even as the weather has cooled, but it's only October for frick sake, and time will tell.

I half joke with my friends about increasing my winter survivability factor by engaging in various cold weather training(the other half of me is entirely serious about this training).  An example would be riding my bike on a brisk 60° day with no jacket, only a t-shirt.  Sound weak?  Well it is, because I am.  I have also removed my jacket in temps that are hovering around the low 50's, and keep in mind the jacket I am removing is a puffy down coat likely coupled with a scarf.  Yes, I wear my puffy down coat and scarf when it's in the 50's.  I know, I know it seems totally ridiculous, but keep in mind my traveler lifestyle has spoiled me with temperatures that average in the 70's and often times warmer than that.  Anything below 60°F feels like the arctic tundra.  In my defense, I rode my bike a couple mornings these past few weeks when it was in the 30's and I'm still alive.  Take that winter!  Something tells me I shouldn't taunt winter. . . 

I will admit, and this may come as a surprise, that living in Los  Angeles actually helped me adjust to cooler temps.  The west side of LA, near the coast, is not the warmest.  The temperatures there were often in the 60's and only a few weeks of the year did it get above 80°.  Being a more humid air than Colorado, the air often felt cooler than it was, therefore helping my body adjust to what I am facing here in the autumn of Denver.  I have also increased my winter survivability factor by moving two blocks away from work, making me able to walk to work even on the coldest and snowiest of days(I will never wait at the bus!).  I am also walking distance from Whole Foods where I shop and three blocks from Turin for when I need a dose of testosterone from my friends there.  The heat in my apartment works really well and I am using my oven as much as possible.  I sleep under an enormous down comforter and I am embarrassed to say that sometimes I sleep with my robe over my two layers of pajamas.  I like being not just warm, but hot.  

I have a sneaking suspicion that this winter will be very snowy.  It rained a lot this summer in Denver and the mountains and if that precipitation continues into winter, it's gonna be deep.  (insert second long sigh)  One dumb ass question that I sort of can't believe people ask when I tell them I hate winter is, "Well, don't you ski?".  Listen you ape, nobody skis in the city.  Skiing is in the mountains and being a skier would not make winter in the city any more tolerable.  It's still messy, freaking cold and basically sucks the life force out of me when it goes on too long.  So the question remains of whether or not I can weather the cold weather that is creeping in slowly more and more every day.  If I suddenly drop off from writing on barbers without borders, rest assured I conceded to the cold that I am dead and plenty warm in hell.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crunchy or creamy?

I've always loved and eaten a lot of peanut butter.  A fair chunk of my life has been fueled solely by peanut butter and bananas.  I've enjoyed peanut butter in many other combinations as well, including but not limited to, vanilla ice cream and peanut butter, apples and peanut butter, on pancakes with chocolate syrup, crackers with peanut butter, and of course peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  Yum.  Most of my friends and family are aware of my delight with peanut butter and one time a co-worker made me an enormous banana cake with the most ridiculously awesome peanut butter frosting.  That is truly the best cake I've ever had.  The cake stars aligned for that cake and I will not forget as long as I live.

In most of my life, peanut butter likely tops the list as the number one nut butter I've consumed in my life.  However, when I lived in LA and my dietary tendencies changed significantly, I began to explore different nut butters, mostly almond butter.  Oh, sweet, raw, organic almond butter!  Is there any better butter than that of the almond?  I squandered away a small fortune  on almond butter during my days in Los Angeles.  I was addicted and ate it daily on fresh organic medjool dates.  Almond butter and dates are responsible for quenching my sweet tooth on a daily basis during certain times in my life. 

But being a pricy nut butter I found myself not wanting to have a $60/month almond butter habit, so I tried sunflower seed butter as an alternative.  Often called sun butter, this was a cheaper and very tasty version of nut butter.  Sun butter resembles peanut butter much more than almond butter, and is as unique in its own right.  I eat sun butter in any other way I would almond and peanut butter.  Sun butter with dates, fruit, chocolate, all of it.

There was this one time I delighted in pecan butter with fresh barhi dates and some fresh whipped cream.  This combination is nothing short of oral ecstasy.  The super sweet creamy and nutty pecan butter, topping a bed of caramel smooth barhi dates, then topped with the realest of the real Amish whipped cream.  Oooooo wee!  I nearly weep as I recall the deliciousness.  Perhaps I've tried cashew butter a time or two, I can't remember.  I don't think I've ever had macadamia butter, but I'd be the first in line if it even exists.

There is another side to this nut butter lifestyle.  Being a barber without borders, I have suffered many times overseas, because nut butters of all forms are a very American thing.  Hard to believe that the world is not obsessed with this most perfect form by which to consume nuts.  They are nearly impossible to find in any high quality in other countries.  My first discovery of this was of course during my first long period of time overseas, in Egypt.  The peanut butter I found there was waxy and half flavorless compared to the natural peanut butter I was used to at home.  This absence of peanut butter in Egypt was eye opening to me as a new world traveler, and it was something I am still adjusting to every time I go away from USA. 

Not even the British understand, and of course the Aussies are obsessed with Veggiemite.  Latinos think we're nuts, no pun intended. Perhaps Canadians are the only ones who get it, but of all the nut butter lovers I've ever known, we are all American born and raised.  When I was living in Buenos Aires earlier this year, I made close friends with an American vegan chef(I love you Kara), who has a local delivery service company for her food.  Argentina has some access to decent peanut butters and in Buenos Aires I would make the trek across town to an area aptly named "China Town" where there is a market that has quite a good selection of peanut butters.  There is even a small expat-owned company that delivers the real deal peanut butter to one's home.  Likely this has to do with the size and population of Buenos Aires compared to other places I've traveled and lived, but I was thrilled at the various choices.   Kara, on the other hand, offered almond butter as one of her menu items and that was all I needed to know I would do anything to keep this woman in my life.  I won't give away the recipe, but this almond butter was like nothing else. Though radically different than anything I had imagined, it was almond butter and it was unbelievable to have found it at the end of the earth.  Kara was more than just a fantastic friend, she was also the angel and savior of my dietary  and cultural needs.

Every time I return to the States from a long time away, my first trip to the store requires a purchase of any and all forms of nut butter.  I love the stuff, it's got to be one of my top five favorite foods of all time, forever and ever.  Nice that it's a food I will still be able to eat even when I'm a toothless old lady.  I shall take a jar to the grave with me.  Good and good for you, nut butter significantly increases the quality of one's life!  And since I'm sure you have asked yourself by now during my love letter to nut butter, I prefer crunchy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mishap at the movies.

Tonight I did something I normally don't do.  Well actually I did two things I normally don't do.  I went to the movies, for one.  The movie was pretty good, no need to go in to detail there, nothing special really.  However, when I returned from the theater and was lounging on the couch, I felt something hard on my jeans, sort of near my crotch, on the inner thigh of my right leg.  No, it's not what I would like it to have been. . . It was a Milk Dud.  I sat on a Milk Dud at the movies and it had welded itself very near to the ass of my pants.  Nothing quite like something identical to a turd getting completely and totally stuck to my pants basically right by my ass.  Fortunately I was able to heat it up just enough to peel it off of my jeans, but they definitely will need to soak just a bit to get the residual caramel off that is now practically part of the fabric.  A recap on the things I did tonight that I don't normally do: went to the movies, sat on candy.  But I suppose that if there is any one place where it is appropriate to sit on candy, a movie theater has got to top that list.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Back to the future.

Wanna know something that totally blows my mind?  Video phone.  The fact that we actually have and use video phone regularly, in all its various forms, makes me giddy.  I remember growing up and seeing video phone on the Saturday morning cartoon "The Jetsons" about a space family in the future.  And now with technological advancements having brought us what they have, we Skype and facetime with consistency.  Video phone allows us to see our loved ones as we chat from any two places around the planet.  Even though we've had video phone for a number of years now, it still blows my mind that we have it.  It's a trip living in the future that was on movies and TV shows when I was just a kiddo.   

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Special talents.

Some people have real talents, but my brother Brady and I have a special knack for spotting celebrities whenever we are together.  Brady visited me for four of five days when I lived in Los Angeles and he was determined to see a famous person every day. Lo and behold we sighted a celebrity every day.  I won't bore with the details, but the famous people we saw were nothing to balk at; the real deal famous folks of the greater Los Angeles area.  

Tonight was also no exception as Brady and I saw one of the girls from my guilty pleasure "America's Next Top Model".  I know, I know, it's ridiculous to admit I watch that show, but now it's public knowledge, get over it.  Anyways, our own born and bred Denver girl, Jiana made her way in front of Tyra to compete for the elite title of America's Next Top Model.  Tonight she also happened to be at an art show we went to to support a friend and her local clothing company.  Brady and I haven't lost our celebrity spotting magic even though we aren't in Los Angeles anymore.  Hollywood just follows us around now.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Killer ignorance.

When I was a young girl, from the ages of probably around ten, to fifteen or sixteen or so, I was absolutely obsessed with whales and dolphins.  I wrote school papers about them, I hoarded pictures of them and hung them on my walls, I watched every possible piece of informational video footage of them.  I felt very passionate about the environmental state of the oceans and the conversation of these fantastic creatures.  I was beyond obsessed.

Being from the completely landlocked state of Colorado, I dreamed of one day becoming a marine biologist and and then using that education to become a trainer for orcas and dolphins at Sea World.  I thought it would be a real dream come true to swim and perform with the animals I loved so dearly, though I had never seen one, or even the ocean itself.  When I was twelve or so, one of my dreams came true as my family visited the Sea World that was in Ohio.  Sea World in Ohio?  Believe it.  I was thrilled that I was going to get to see a real live whale!!!  I don't remember many details of the day to be honest, but I definitely remember seeing an orca in a tank for the first time.  The shows and the entire experience wowed me and I bought enough postcards and memorabilia with dolphin and orca pictures to fill all the walls of my childhood bedroom.

Years passed and growing up happened.  Somehow my obsession with whales and dolphins waned and I found myself caring more about punk rock and running away.  My life took a different path than one that would make me a marine biologist, and for that I am grateful.  

Growing up also made me realize that keeping these fantastic creatures in captivity is beyond wrong, something my parents had never suggested to me.  Call it society's conditioning, but we are just brainwashed into thinking this is normal.  Not to mention that we keep them in captivity for our entertainment and profit, regardless of their physical and emotional health, and fully ignoring the social structure in which they thrive in the wild.  We wheel and deal them like they are tomatoes from a farm.

Having just watched the documentary "Blackfish" about orcas in captivity, I find myself infuriated at the degree to which we exploit these animals.  From their capture, to their breeding in captivity, to separating young from mothers(something I just learned does not happen in the wild and brought tears to my eyes), to starvation techniques sometimes used in order to train them, I am fucking pissed off.  It is wrong that we celebrate these animals in captivity.  It is wrong that we go in droves with our children to these parks to stare at these enormous animals basically living in a prison, working for their food.  It is wrong that trainers are injured and have been killed in attacks by these animals with seemingly pure intention in some desperate attempt to release frustration that has no other outlet.  

What the fuck are we doing as humans to cage so many majestic creatures who are fully capable of taking care of themselves in the wild?  Oh, and then using them as entertainment in exchange for profit as though it is some step up in quality of life from their natural habitat?

I do not feel foolish for my childhood dreams and obsessions with wanting to become a trainer.  To me, that was something perfectly normal that just happened at these magical theme parks which seemed a world away to a poor Colorado girl.  However becoming a conscious adult has given me the awareness of the unacceptable reality regarding the situation of whales and dolphins in captivity.  I do not agree with it, anyone with any inkling of consciousness towards animals should not agree with it.  Even the former Sea World trainers interviewed in the documentary are all against it, knowing full well the quality of life the captive animals are living vs that of the wild.  May this humanity continue to awaken to what we are doing to the planet, all the blessings and gifts of nature we take for granted, and have the courage to change it.          

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Good Karma.

When I first started working for Floyd's over eight years ago, I had a client that told me about a little Asian restaurant that was his favorite in Denver.  Intrigued, I asked which one and he replied, "It's called Wokano, by the Wild Oats(currently Whole Foods)".  I had lived on Capital Hill for years at this time, had visited Wild Oats countless times, and had seen the restaurant sign many times in the tiny strip mall in which it resided.  I considered the advice especially since I was living in an apartment a mere three and a half blocks away, and love Asian food. 

One hungry evening soon thereafter, I strolled over to the restaurant.  As per the advice a former Asian boyfriend once gave me, I ordered the hot and sour soup. Apparently the quality of the this particular soup is supposed to be a sort of telltale of the quality and flavors of the other cuisine offered in and Asian restaurant.  I also ordered an entree of spicy basil tofu.  
Oh, boy, that soup was the bomb!  So hot, so sour, so everything I could ever dream of hot and sour soup to be.  I knew I was hooked.  And my entree was equally as flavorful, very fresh and just the perfect quantity to fill up but not be stuffed.  After only one meal, I knew I had found a gem.  I knew that I was going to make this place my second home.

In the next months, I ate at Wokano up to six times a week.  It was quite nearly out of control.  Sometimes I would dine in, sometimes I would order delivery.  Every time I called and said I wanted to make an order for delivery, they immediately recognized my voice and knew practically what I wanted to order.  Whether ordering in house or delivery, I tried nearly everything on the diverse menu that true Asian fusion has to offer, never to be disappointed.  I tried all of the appetizers, nearly all the entrees, and was totally hooked on the sesame balls for dessert; so much so that I quickly began getting them for free with my meal.  I also invited anyone and everyone to eat their with me, promising up and down that it would be some of the best food ever.  Friends, family, clients, love interests and the occasional random all dined at Wokano with me.  

As is in my character, I was planning a big trip/move to Egypt at the same time in my life and as my departure neared I told the sparse staff whom I had come to know so well, that I was going to leave the country and didn't know when I'd be back.  I literally ate my last meal in US before getting on the plane, at Wokano and said my goodbyes to my favorite food.  A few short months later when I returned to the States, Wokano was my first meal back in US as I drove back to Littleton with my mother from the airport.  I loved that place.

Fast forward a year or two and through living in different neighborhoods in Denver combined with traveling so much, years passed without me going to Wokano.  I went in one day and something was different.  In fact everything was just a little different.  The menu and quaint decor were still the same, but the staff was different and the food wasn't quite the same.  That was the last time I went there because I knew it wasn't the same place, that the owners I knew, had sold.  (insert teary eyes)

Fast forward a few more years and I find myself back in Denver for a few months, working, chilling, riding bikes, etc.  My best friend Lesley tells me one day that she found the Wokano guys and that they had a restaurant down on South Broadway called Karma.  I was like, "Are you freaking kidding!  The real deal?!"  She confirmed that it was in fact my beloved people and the delicious food.  I went as soon as life afforded the opportunity I went to Karma and got me some!  She wasn't lying, it was Peter and Ashley(American names for people who's real names are unpronounceable Chinese names).  I was back home!

This time round in my frequent visits to Karma, I finally got my dad to come with me, whom I am sure I had pestered for years at this point to go with me.  It was love at first taste for my dad, a lover of all things with flavor.  He has been hooked for years and told me that at times him and his wife would drive downtown from Highlands Ranch to eat there sometimes up to three times a week.  Guess it runs backwards in the family as he inherited it from me.  I really loved my dad and LuAnn's love for Karma for other reasons too.  They too became close with Ashley and Peter and would update them on my global whereabouts at any given moment.  The four of them, Dad, Luann, Peter and Ashley had their own comradery.  Of course I would join them any time I was in Denver for a trip down memory lane, oh and some crazy good food. 

Over the years I have seen Peter and Ashley grow from tiny, nearly hidden spot on Capital Hill, to a bustling location on South Broadway.  The quality of their food is as consistent as ever.  The atmosphere is beautiful and quaint, with some classic Asian kitsch.  The service is always fantastic.  And they are still serving water in metal camping mugs.  

I went to Karma tonight and loved it as much as ever.  I had fantastic company, as usual with that magical place, and we got free Thai iced tea on the house. This gave me inspiration and a great excuse to write my story of my still feverish love affair with the restaurant my Chinese friends run on South Broadway.  I'v got some good ass karma.          

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I'm falling, twice.

 Fall time is upon us.  The brisk air, the shorter days, the changing and falling leaves.  But not everywhere in the world is experiencing autumn.  In fact, this is my second fall this year.  I have been lucky enough to enjoy my favorite season twice in 2013.  Being in the Southern Hemisphere for four months this year, I caught the second half of summer and the entirety of autumn in Argentina.  For eight days of that, I enjoyed the breathtaking beauty of Patagonia's autumn in April.  There is no more beautiful place to me than Patagonia, and to see it during fall time was a special experience I will never forget.  As I sat at the above pictured view, I exclaimed aloud to myself, "This is the most beautiful place I have ever been!"  
 I'm sure most of you are mildly surprised to learn that summer is not my favorite season(though it is a very, very close second).  As much as I love the sweltering heat and fun times of summer, there is a quality to autumn that strikes me to my core.  I crave the outdoors more during fall, probably because I know that I need to get while the getting's good, before winter hits(eeeek!).  I often take long bike rides in the afternoon after a lazy morning, allowing the temps to warm enough, and I go to places where the colors and the serenity will be pristine.  The transitory nature of autumn drives me to soak up every possible second of this magical time of year. 
 The shorter days come with another benefit of autumn time, the angle of the sunlight.  I love the angle of the sunlight in fall.  It seems to cast a sentimental glow about everything, warm and cool all at the same time, accenting the already intense tones of the trees.  It becomes obvious each day that the sun is creeping further and further south in the Northern Hemisphere and further and further north in the Southern Hemisphere; as the leaves change, the sunlight seems to make them even more red, yellow and orange.
 Taking walks or hiking in autumn has a special "crunch" to it as the dried and fallen leaves litter every possible nook.  I crunched lots of leaves in Buenos Aires, many along the trails like this one in Patagonia, and as I've been making my way through Capital Hill in Denver where I'm delighting in my second autumn.  I love the sound of rustling leaves on the ground, and the fragrance they give off is unequaled, a mix of fresh and fallen.  As I see the leaves on the ground, I look up to the trees to see just how much time is left in this fleeting season, hoping against hope that autumn lingers as long as possible in order to savor the unique elegance of trees taking a bow to cooler temperatures.    
All in all, I've had two summers, two autumns and a half a winter this year.  Call me crazy, but I can do entirely without spring. All I've ever known of spring time is inconsistent temperatures mixed with the occasional sloppy blizzard.  Leaves budding on trees isn't nearly as stunning as when they decide it's too cold and show their final burst of life before weakening and falling.  I have a special gratitude for my life this second autumn of 2013 as I realize that I'm living a life that brings me two autumns in the same year, one in Patagonian Andes, one in the majestic Colorado Rockies.  And though I last experienced autumn only a few months ago, I am no less charmed by this one I'm currently in.  Someday, when it's entirely up to me, and money is no object, my years will have two summers and two autumns.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A run of inspiration.

Well it's been a while since I've written here on Barbers Without Borders.  In the past five months since last writing about yerba mate, I returned to the States from the stinky, noisy, chaotic confines of Buenos Aires.  Planning only to stay for the summer time in Denver, I found myself so enamored with Colorado all over again that I decided to stay and make a life for myself in my hometown, winter and all.  Who knows how long it will last, but I'm grateful to be somewhere so beautiful, peaceful, and welcoming to me.

I've been thinking about writing, a lot, knowing that it needs to be a part of my life on a very regular basis.  Just because I'm not traveling, does not mean that I don't have like fifty topics for blog posts swimming around in my brain.  I actually have a list of them started and will get around to all of them, especially since the weather is cooling and I must remain indoors in order to survive.  Yesterday morning was the perfect event to inspire me to sit down and begin writing again.

I woke up at about 11:45am(barely the morning, I know), after staying up too late watching my guilty pleasure on Hulu with my brother and finishing a pint of Ben and Jerry's.  I had wanted to get up earlier, but there was no chance of that.  I was wanting to get up so that I could walk a mere two blocks away and watch for a friend running the marathon that was happening on this chilly autumn morning.  The route passed very close to my apartment and the finish line wasn't much further either.  So when I finally did get up, I immediately put on shoes and a jacket over my pajamas, used the loo, and headed out the door in hopes of still being able to catch some of the race.  Little did I know I was in for a very emotional experience.

As I reached the intersection of 10th and Logan, I saw plenty of people running by, an officer directing traffic in the gaps between runners and one woman standing on the corner cheering and cheering and cheering.  I stood opposite of her and watched the runners go by.  "You can do it!  You're almost there!  Seven blocks to go!  It's downhill!", she repeated over and over while clapping to encourage and support the weary runners as they neared the end.  This intersection is less than a mile from where the finish was and I soon found myself overwhelmed at the energy and emotion from the entire scene as I imagined what each and every runner must be feeling so close to completing, in my opinion, an enormous task of running 26.2 miles.

"Holy crap", I thought to myself, "These people have had this huge goal for who knows how many months.  They have trained and suffered and pushed themselves in order to be able to do this, and now here I am, watching the culmination of all that hard work and I'm in my pajamas."  Admittedly, I was choked up as I became inspired and touched at the will and abilities of the human body, mind and spirit to push and push.  I saw many women which I thought was fantastic; people of all ages, sizes, some running full force, some limping, some walking, but each and every one having the same experience of endurance.

I decided I wanted to go to the finish line so I could see what was going on there and feel the special energy of the completion.  I made my way along the route, just a few blocks to the finish.  There was small groups of people gathered more and more frequently each block closer that I got.  Many people had signs, patiently waiting to see their loved one pass by.  I continued to feel very emotional, that lump-in-my-throat feeling was with me the entire time, and I was loving every minute of this special event.  At one point, very near the 26 mile marker, I passed two men sitting on a small hillside adjacent to an apartment building.  I jokingly said to them, "Sort of makes you feel like a lazy bum, huh?" to which they replied, "Oh, we just ran the half marathon."  Oops, my bad.  We had a chuckle over it and I looked at their medals as I mentioned that clearly I was the only lazy one out on this gray morning.

I made my way to the finish line at Civic Center Park and it was a full on party.  Bands playing, people gathering and cheering, music on loud speakers, but most importantly, runners crossing the finish line.  If I thought the emotion of the interior of the race was powerful, I was not prepared for the finish line!  There were runners sprinting towards the finish, no small feat after running for five hours.  I saw lots of couples cross the finish line together, holding hands and cheering.  I saw a few runners limp across the line only to be immediately attended to by medics and wheeled away in wheel chairs.  And I saw more than one runner burst into uncontrollable sobbing as they completed the race, and achieve a tremendous goal.  Families waited to hug and congratulate, and plenty of kisses were had. There was a small group of volunteers waiting just past the finish line rewarding the runners with their medals of completion, criers, couples and gimps alike.

I stayed at the park and enjoyed the energy for about thirty minutes.  I happened to see my friend cross the finish line and I hugged and congratulated him then went about my way.  I left the park and followed the race route back to my house.  A few blocks in, I saw what was the most inspiring moment of the entire experience for me.  At about the 26 mile marker, I saw an older gentleman running and simultaneously pushing a large stroller with an older disabled child in it.  The tears flowed as my heart was touched by the incredible amount of love involved in such a feat.  Running more than twenty-six miles pushing a child who may not have been able to walk, but no doubt was able to feel the energy and love of the entire event, and unknowingly contributing greatly to it.  I could not stop smiling the entire way home.

My heart was so touched and I am so inspired by everything I saw and felt during the race.  I had no idea it would be such an emotional experience to watch people run.  However, it was much more than running I witnessed yesterday.  I was watching dedication and commitment, support from strangers and loved ones, determination and endurance through pain, traffic waiting patiently, achievement of goals, the light of the human spirit and a deep love of life.  All of it on a cold, cloudy day in the brisk autumn of Denver.