I came for the picture; I stayed for the run.
Today I went On Location at Kansas State University, home of the Wildcats! Founded in 1863 when Kansas was only two years old, K-State is the oldest public university in the state. Just like the neighboring Historic Fort Riley, many of the buildings are original and built out of limestone which is prevalent throughout the Flint Hills. Which is exactly the reason I wanted to run here; all the buildings are architecturally interesting.
One of the last things I did before leaving for my run was go out to the barn and check on our kittens. The sun felt warm on my face and there wasn’t a breath of wind. It was only in the 20s, but it felt warm – more like a Colorado day than Kansas day. So, when I got dressed for the run, I selected my lined running tights, two long sleeve shirts, and my light jacket. It felt so nice outside – surely I didn’t need wool socks or another pair of pants. I should have known better. I was freezing when I left the house, but I comforted myself with the thought that once I started running I’d be warm in no time.
I’m always a little nervous at the beginning of my picture runs because there is so much pressure. So on my way to campus, I must have been distracted because I got turned around and ended up having to use my GPS to get there. But as I pulled in, my heart quickened as I gazed at the academic buildings in their regal limestone. Yes. This is why I came. When I got out of my car, I was cold, frazzled and in a hurry to get moving. I didn’t even configure my camera before setting off. Note to self: Research winter running pants.
The East Stadium has castle-like limestone walls and sits directly across from the parking garage where I parked my car. As soon as I saw it, I thought Oh I wish I could get to the top and take a picture. Despite the cold, my legs felt strong. I wanted to sprint. I did not want to try to figure out stadium access. Only a few strides in I had to stop and readjust. I like to have my phone where I can get it in case I have an emergency and I like to see my mileage. What stopped me was the biting cold – I decided since this was a new running place, it was too cold to get lost. I was rearranged. I took off in long strides. Why was it so much colder here than at the house? Then I realized: I was in the shade. All those beautiful buildings I came to photograph were the source of my discomfort.
The only thing I could do was keep running. I stopped for a few pictures. Took my gloves off and fumbled with the camera. I decided to pretend I wasn’t cold. Focus on the task. Note to self: Need to buy proper gloves. At this point, I can barely bend my fingers they are so stiff. I put my camera away and keep running. I complete this process again at another spot. This is ridiculous.
I completed my first loop back to the East Stadium and noticed this time there was a group playing a pick up soccer game. That means there is a way in! Sure enough, the fence was open and I sprinted up the limestone steps. I was in the sun now and when I reached the top I was warm and sweaty. And now that I wasn’t overcoming the elements, I could actually take a decent picture. I even played with settings – Aperture f10, f15, f22, just for comparison later on. (I selected f22 for this post.) I paused, how far had I run? 1.75 miles. I was right across from the parking garage. Should I call it a day? No. I didn’t come all this way and battle frigid shade for a measly 1.75 miles. I decided to take off on another loop. It doesn’t really count unless you run at least 3 miles.
The campus was practically empty. It’s still Christmas Break so there were only a handful of people – most likely all professors or doctoral students. I got some strange glances. Maybe students don’t usually run in this section? Or maybe they all thought I was crazy? Or maybe they were just wondering why I had a pack or why I was stopping to take pictures? I trudged through my second loop and finished warm. I got my picture. I got my run. My work was complete. Note to self: Next time, run mid-day.