Thursday, July 19, 2012

Exit Los Angeles

On Sunday morning I stumbled from bed after spending the previous night stumbling around a wedding and the subsequent after party. I knuckled my eyes, slurped down a yogurt and pounded a coffee before finding my way down to Huntington Beach. I headed right, or north, and proceeded to run the boardwalk that seems to go on and on…for all of eternity. Negotiating my way around all the Sunday morning bike path traffic was laborious at times, but it was fun to run along the beach sans any hills. The beach and path were teaming with people doing practically everything one does at a beach. I felt as if I were running through a “Where’s Waldo?” illustration. To my left, old bronze-faced beach bums clutched surfboards and crazy hippies wandered aimlessly in the sand wondering how they had got here and where they were going. To my right, a train of overweight women on bikes donning glitter pedaled the boardwalk for a some good cause. About a couple miles in, I spied a huge pier and decided to run to the end. Fishermen lined every inch of the dock casting their lines into the surf below. At the end of the pier a group of people started silently at a lifeless shark lying in a bloody heap. On the way back to the boardwalk I stopped to catch my breath and eyed the hundred or so surfers below. They all stared out to sea – each and everyone looking for that next great wave. In the time I spent watching, it never came. My legs were a little heavy from back-to-back days of hills. Still, I felt fresh from lack of longer miles and found myself grinding along the beach running a tick faster than 6:00 miles. I got in 7.5.

Later that day we ventured out to Joshua Tree National Park. The desert air was sunny and hot, so I opted to forgo running until I returned to civilization the next evening. I got in a couple of good hikes, however.

On Monday night, I essentially did the exact same type of run I did on Sunday morning; only I was running the beaches of Venice this time, 40-50 miles to the north. Venice is a shit show. Freaks and weirdoes line the boardwalk selling everything from hash pipes to tattoos. Some “performers” build sand castles for your amusement (read – tips) while others dance on broken glass. It’s a colorful scene for sure. I always had good music to run to, because every other storefront blasts their own tune, and had the occasional whiff of hashish; strong enough to give this runner pause. On my way home, while running the neighborhoods of Venice, I got somewhat lost, but got directions from a man in a filthy suit. Just as I started to second-guess his internal compass, I found the road I was looking for. I got in 8.5, again, like yesterday, mostly at a quick pace.

Early the next morning, Emily and I met one of her old training groups at a coffee shop in Brentwood. “The Zulus” are a group of South African expats who meet each Tuesday and Thursday at Peets. How they all found themselves, I’m still not quite sure. Most are training for some marathon or another, while some are simply training for the sake of training. I ran fairly easy for the first half of the run before humming home at 6:15 pace. I got in 7.5. We sipped coffee and reminisced about old times - well, they did. I simply listened.

I took Wednesday off and on Thursday morning I boarded a plane for America’s last frontier – Alaska.

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