More pictures, more love after the bump...
(it's a long one folks)
In 5th grade I was on the track & field team, and it wasn't pretty. It happened to be the year of the LA Riots, so our track meet was cancelled and I never had to compete. I was more successful in my other pursuits: ballet, tap, jazz, basketball, volleyball, equestrian, tennis... but never ever running.
Then late in my college career I took up yoga and it changed EVERYTHING. I could breathe. I waited 20 years to really breathe. Let's fast forward 8 years or so. Last year I was pushed into doing the UNICEF run in HK. I had to be pushed. I was still skeptical about running... in front of people... for 10 k. Take the breathing issue, add the majorly flat footed issue, and a serious ankle injury the year before and that equals fear. But if you know me, I generally jump to do the things that scare me.
So a few months back I was planning a work/vacation trip home and I took a peek at the goings on in LA. Music, games, and... races? I stumbled upon info for the very first Rock N Roll half marathon in LA (rock n roll as in a course lined with bands and a big concert at the end) and what 100% sold me on it was the course. It was my old hood and I wanted to soak in all 13.1 miles that they offered me. Start line at Griffith Park to Los Feliz to Atwater Village to SILVER LAKE to Echo Park to Downtown LA. This may mean nothing to you if you don't know LA, and even lifelong Angelinos don't know these neighborhoods so well, but it's where I lived as an adult Angelino and it still remains my favorite place on the planet.
I didn't even have my vacation approved yet, but I gave a few friends a heads up that this might be something fun for us. I have been known to produce magic, and even with a super typhoon staring me in the face, everything came together. Serious training started about 2 months prior, and it could have gone better but it could have gone worse. Work, life, dodgeball, climbing, traveling, illness happens, and sometimes training doesn't. I made it a priority though, and had to put a lot of Friday night drinking on the backburner. This is really really hard in Hongkie town.
After roughly 20 hours of travel I made it to LA Friday night. Got to the expo on Saturday and spent the night with my family in DTLA. My parents were skeptical of my athletic pursuits, but at the same time were completely excited and supportive. They would never dream of attempting such a feat, but they were pretty excited about getting some event t-shirts!
My parents rock too.
We landed a GREAT hotel pretty much at the finish line. Luxe City Center Hotel is brand new at an unbelievable location. It's right across the street from Staples Center, Nokia Theater, LA Live, all that. Not a huge hotel, which is nice, and it still smelled of new carpet.
After a very delicious carbo loading feast at Wolfgang Puck's (mac n cheese, omg!), we walked off our fullness and found a Macy's where my mother took advantage of the one day sale and bought some dishes. Back in the hotel I fell asleep to a Wildcat win and woke up 2 hours early! Maybe I don't suffer from jet lag, but my stomach woke me up for dinner in HK!
RACE DAY. FINALLY.
I spent those extra two hours trying to fall asleep and listening to NPR. When all 3 alarms went off, I made myself a beautiful cup of coffee and hopped in the shower. Slapped on some makeup, threw on my gear, and headed out to the shuttles to meet E at 5:30 AM.
E and I hopped on the shuttle and had an alarmingly long ride to the start line. We really have to run all the way back??? We quickly caught up and E offered his sage marathon advice and stories of drinking beer and eating donuts on the racecourse.
I had planned to meet Frosty and Armie at their training tent. The night before I found out that they amazingly were in my corral and were at my expected finishing time. This was a huge surprise to me because I put them two in a different category of athlete from me. They completed the LA Marathon a few years back, and before that did the AIDS Ride biking all the way down the great state of California!
Since it was dinner time in HK, I was STARVING. I had one Nature Valley bar (actually 2 in the pack) and had intended to stop there, but I was so hungry I feared I would lose steam up front. Fortunately our morning was not rushed. I had another bar (total 4), then another (total 6!). I probably could have kept going but I felt alright and didn't want to push it. I had plenty of Gu and prayed it would get me through. It really worried me at the start, but things turned out fine. And I drank a lot of water.
AND WE'RE OFF!
Hello Hyperion Bridge and mile 6!
"Is that last one Mulan?" - Frosty
VICTORY IS MINE!
Honestly, it went by so fast. Having Frosty and Armie at my side made a huge difference. We were laughing the whole time and I was still able to breathe and keep up! I didn't even need my ipod, which is 100% necessary when I run on my own. I had a few freak out moments but they passed immediately. I was comfortable at the pace of the team and they really kept me going. The hills were a challenge even though on any other day you wouldn't even notice there was a hill!
Even though I needed to go to the bathroom early on it subsided, and I'm glad I never had to leave the team at any point. I probably sweated everything out. I also had A LOT of caffeine and it pumped me up big time. I think I had 4 Gus which is a lot... one without caffeine, 2 normal, and one double! That double caffeine Roctane really picked me up for the last few miles. Amazingly no cramps. I spent the week keeping myself hydrated even on the flights over and it made a difference. My poor flat feet and rolled over arches suffered the most, but it didn't slow me down.
E and our Life Parter were on the other side of the finish line waiting for us. E had a fabulous finish time and we all celebrated with our complementary MGD 64. It was the most mileage I'd ever put in (previous training had me at 11-12 ish miles) and I wasn't dead! I was feeling great. I was so happy to be with my friends that I completely forgot about the concert. Neon Trees was headlining.
This may have started out as a tribute to my ol hood, but it would not have been the same without my amazing friends. I am now spoiled because I don't wanna run another race without them!
It always comes down to this: it's not what we do, but who we do it with.