Wednesday, March 01, 2006

No, I'm Not Dead

Miss me?! That's what I thought.

Sorry I've been persona non grata for the past few weeks, but I have been up to my ears in deadlines and travel and training for the National Marathon next month, and oh, did I happen to mention that I'm volunteer-coaching a 15-member strong and growing (!) group of beginning-intermediate runners for a local 10K in May? It's for my local running club. We meet every Saturday at 8 am and I yell encouragement and veiled threats at them up as they struggle up and down hilly trails. Lots of fun.

Okay, I don't yell. I gently goose them now and again, though.

I ran 20.5 miles on Sunday. Jeanne wants me to update ya'll on that run, but that will have to wait as another deadline (actually two) looms. So herewith, is an account I emailed my running buddy, P., of my 15-miler in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago:

I logged 15 miles instead of my planned 20 miles as I ran out of time (I started late, around 9:30 am), energy, and Gatorade. Plus, I ran too the first 9 miles too fast, at an 8:48/mile pace.
With the sun high in the sky and the temperature a scorching 85 degrees, I started at the southern end of Venice Beach. Waves crashed on my left, and the wide expanse of sand glittered.

Lots of characters there. Bodybuilders, jugglers and street gymnasts with dreadlocks. The air stunk of patchouli from the many incense vendors crowding the boardwalk. Fortune tellers and folks selling bad beach art, t-shirts, and gauzy hippie clothes had also set up shop.

Heading past Venice, I ran through Santa Monica Beach and past the ferris wheel there, through Will Rogers State Beach and up to Malibu, almost to the new Getty Museum villas.
I stopped at mile 6.2 to drink watered-down Gatorade and eat Gu. I felt pretty good for the first hour, though I was sweating buckets.

Then the boardwalk ended. I turned around and ran south. Back in Venice Beach, huge crowds (and dogs) blocked the path, and I had to weave through them, slowing me down and tiring me further.

By the basketball courts, a crowd desultorily looked at a man sprawled unconscious on the boardwalk, his mouth open and left cheek resting on the sandy asphalt. Small piles of vomit lay around him. It looked like pink Slushie. I ran past a policeman in shorts, who looked bemused at the situation. He casually sipped a 64-oz. Diet Coke.

I also ran past several people with videocams and skateboards. Looked like they were filming some sort of movie. A 20-something guy in a black t-shirt filmed several takes of a skateboarder running into a pig-tailed woman wearing retro '70's skates, a miniskirt, and a pink t-shirt with an ice-cream cone silk-screened on it. Everybody ignored them.

At mile 12, I was bleary-eyed with dehydration. Salt caked my face and shoulders. I stopped at one of the small pizza vendors on Venice Beach and asked for water, which was given to me very grudgingly by a line cook. After guzzling that down and running two more miles (slowly), I stopped by a Starbucks and drank a peach bottled seltzer/juice drink and poured ice down my back.
Soon, I ran out of boardwalk. I turned inland and ran through alleyways until I hit the northern end of the Marina Del Ray causeway, and I finally had to stop. It was either that, or swim through the causeway, in between motor boats, until I got to the other side. I turned around again and ran back to Venice Beach and met E., who picked me up.

One last thing: At one point, a man walking ahead turned around, saw me, and started running. "Vamanos!" he said, to no one in particular. When I go to within a few feet of him, he sensed me and picked up the pace. I resisted speeding up. It was a training run, after all. And I knew I would catch him eventually.
After less than half a mile, and constantly peeking over his shoulder at me, he stopped and walked, his chest heaving with effort. Well, that was easy. I glanced at him as I ran past. He wouldn't meet my eye. I wanted to say, "Stopping so soon?!" But I am trying to be a nicer person. I kept my mouth shut. E. said later that I should have said, "Vamanos!" back at him.


  1. There's California Dreamin' and there's California Runnin'. I like them both.

  2. Of course we missed you. But we are proud of all your volunteer efforts, even if you are kicking some asses in the process:)

  3. Venice, Santa Monica, crashing waves, vomit, and weird running man!! Sounds eventful...! Great job. And hell yes, I'm waiting for that update. Along with the rest of your fan club.

  4. 20.5 Wow. Looks like you're ready!

    For Mr. Vamanos, I would've liked to see you pass him, turn around, and start running backwards ... I'm sure you could've still taken him!

  5. That was an entertaining run. I love the hot temps running on the boardwalk concept.