Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two Races Before Lunch? Sure why Not

Two weeks ago I ran into the dilemma of running 2 races in one day.  This week I decided to make things more interesting.

Grand View Gator 5k

The race has been going for 16 years yet I had never run in it.  I guess It makes sense, I had never ran a 5k until till 2 years ago.  My mother taught at Grand View for over thirty years and it's also where I went  to Elementry school.

My first and only race as a student at Grand View the 1985 Kinderthon

About six months ago my elementry P.E. teacher Mr. Wade passed away and then two months ago my former principle Mr. Rugg also left this world.  Mr. Rugg was a pillar of the community and truly cared about his former students up until the day he died.  

  Two day's after winning the most important race of my life last year. I received this congratulations letter from him which absolutely meant the world to me!

When I heard that the Grand View 5k was coming up this year I thought about Mr.Rugg and how cool it would be to run the race in his honor. Myself and my good buddy Justin  started a small fund to purchased a memorial plaque and tree to be placed at Grand View elementary to remembrance of this great man.

When I looked at my schedule and it turned out once again I was already signed up for another 5k that same morning. (doh)  Hmm what to do?  (Hold on) . It seems that the other race I was signed up didn't start till 9 a.m. and the race at Grand View roughly 8 miles away started at 8 a.m.  If I ran fast and didn't stop at the finishline Ijust might be able to make them both.

It seemed in the realm of possibilities so I signed up for both. Ten days before race day I had one of my best runs of the year on the beach. (sweet) unfortunately for me I strained my lower left calf and would not run until race day.(GDI)  To make things more interesting I had just got a fresh pair of Luna Sandals in mail.  For the last year I had been running in the same pair but it was now time for them to be retired.  Luna Sandal's mold to your feet and get better over time.  Ideally I would have liked to get at least 8 to 10 hours of running in the new pair before racing in them but I would not get that chance.

The day before the race I was able to pick up my bib and goodie  bag at my former school

Interesting Shwag (I wonder what they winner will get)

Vanilla toothpaste with Xylitol, water bottle, free pizza, Licorice coverd white chocolate, and fancy old lady make up.

My mother (Mrs. Sweeney) was a teacher at Grand View for over 30 years and only lives about a mile from the school..  I thought It would be pretty cool if she would be there to root me on.  Plus if I was fortunate enough to win she would be able to accept any congratulations on my behalf. 
 (She likes that kind of stuff, and happily agreed to be there for her son on race day.)

Race Day

Grand View  is located about 1/4 mile from the beach and had no parking available on race day.  I got up bright and early made myself a smoothie and headed out to find a spot by 6:30 a.m. I knew it would be close whether or not I would make it to the second race in time and every inch I parked closer to the finish line would help.

Lucky for me I found a spot about 3 blocks away.  I laced up my fresh pair Luna Sandals took a picture straight up my nose (You could probably see my brain if I didn't have so much nose hair) and put on my my Tarahumara bracelet for good luck. In my morning haste however I forgot my GPS. (oh well)

When I walked up to the school the first person I saw was my mother wandering around her old stomping grounds.  There was a good vibe in the air and tons of kids everywhere excited that it was finally race day.
We had some time to kill so I meandered into campus to see if  my old art work was on the wall.  My mother remembered exactly where it was and sure enough I found it.  In 6th grade 1991 my class did a mosaic of Greek Gods and there sat my interpretation of Poseidon at the bottom left corner.
  (I would have proffered Dionysis, Hermes or Pan but I guess Poseidon's pretty cool)

Time was ticking by pretty fast time to line up at the starting line.  I always like to line up in front and although it was my intention to win  I let a bunch of kids start in front of me (it meant more to them than to me).  While lining up I ran into my Ragnar Captain Denise Winner.  I introduced her to my mom and she spewed out a bunch of lies about how wonderful I am.  My mom was stoked to hear something good for a change. It was better than the usual questioning from Police "Is this your kid?"

After running about 100 feet the course descends down a steep hill which we will have to ascend at the finish

Game plan take the lead as soon as possible and hold on to it

Time to Run

Out of the starting gate I had to be careful.  Tons of little legs were sinning wildly in front of me. I was able to jive my way to the front before I was 1/3 of the way down the hill.  On the descent I lengthened my stride trying to put some quick distance between myself and the other runners.

In front of me they had a 60's muscle car convertible as the pace vehicle.  In the back seat sat a pretty good looking blond lady who was the official queen of the race.

The car was probably getting about 5 miles a gallon and I was sucking it's fumes big time, as I ran directly behind it's tail pipe.  
(If I ever host a race I'm totally getting a Tesla as the pace vehicle.)

I can read that ladies mind  "Huh!"

After about a 1/2 mile the course turned back on itself and I got to see how far behind the rest of the field was.  I had about 100 yard lead and felt pretty comfortable.  It was fun seeing all the kid's racing especially  their expressions when they noticed the guy in first wearing sandal's. :)

I got a lot of positive encouragement from the sidelines, my body felt descent and I was having a good time.  At the 1/2 way point I even got a PA cheer from an old elementary school friend (from Grand View) who was now a Manhattan Beach cop.

By the 1/2 way point I had about a 30 second lead.  I put my stride into cruise control and back towards the finish.  

With about  a 1/2 mile to go second place was nowhere to be seen and as long as I didn't trip up the final climb the race was mine.

The course was a little tougher than I thought and it definitely was no record breaking performance but I managed to cross the finish line in first place in 17:18
To bad Mr. Rugg wasn't there to witness it. :(

For the second time this year I won a race in Luna's  and my award had already foreshadowed the outcome of the race.
(Very Cool)
A few days later I found out I won some prizes. I always wanted one of those ankle I.D.'s  and a gift card to a Veggie Restaurant.(how did they know?) and a gift basket (what could be inside it?)

$634 Value.  Yikes?
Perhaps I'll go visit the spa in a few weeks after the Hermosa24

By the way this little race Raised over $50,000 for the school.

No time to celebrate. I took off my timing chip hugged my mom and sailed out there at a a sub 7 minute pace.

Even though the race started a few minutes late I got to my car parked on Marine St. a block up from Highland  by 8:24.  I had to drive roughly 8.5 miles to Loyola University for the next race and I did so with a hint of reckless abandon. while I finished the end of my morning smoothie and caught my breathe.

Every Child Matter's 5k to benefit the Children of the Carribean
I arrived by 8:40 found a parking spot and hurried to check in.  Lucky for me they were running late and I no longer had to rush things.  I switched my bibs,put my goodie bag in the car and was once again ready to race.

 sneaking down the sideline.
No timing chip's no pace car, no arrows. 

Off and running I jumped into the lead for the first 1/2 mile. (why not?) The dude in the blue shirt however was pretty much matching me stride for stride and some other guy was right on our ass.

My legs really didn't feel that great and I was going faster than I should.  I pulled back a bit and let the 2 other runners battle it out 40 feet in front of me.  While the rest of the pack held back about 100 feet behind us.

We had no clue where we were supposed to be going. There were no map's, direction's or arrow's to be found.  However there were some orange cones on the ground which we began to follow.

After coming around a turn  I a saw an orange cone on the sidewalk right before a tiny path between some buildings.  It seemed like it may be the right way to go until I noticed more cones on the street in front of us.

The two guys in front of me kept going straight, as did I and every other runner in the race (we were all wrong).  Then another cone appeared on the sidewalk, right before the street we were running on descended down a huge hill.  This time I wanted to turn but the guys in front kept going straight. I followed them down the hill for about 150' before looking over my shoulder and noticing the pack make the turn behind me (doh).

I turned back while the leader's screamed down the hill off the course and out of the race.  By the time I got back on track I was now in about 11th place. 
 (Time to pick them off the best I can)

It turns out we were supposed to make the turn at the first cone, not the second.  Because we all ran the loop backwards it brought us back onto the course into cross traffic with other runners.  Not a big problem we just had to be a little careful.

 The course ended up being 2 laps of the same route.  Quickly I progressed my way back into contention I was running hard but didn't really find a groove till the race was nearly over.  I pulled back into 3rd place but ran out of real estate to catch the leaders and that is where I finished. (If only I had another mile to pass them)
When I looked at the clock I had finished with a new P.R. The course was definitely about 1/4 mile short.

  As the masses crossed the finish line I over heard many people stoked about setting new records only to be let down later when they found out the true distance of the race.The whole race was pretty much a fiasco, but who cares? The race was for charity and a bunch of poor children in the Caribbean will benefit from it so I have no reason to be upset.

In hindsight if the course was properly marked the guys who got lost may have beat me and I may have held off the other two guys who actually placed first in second but who knows.

S???sha and I
They had a few celebrities and musical guests at the race.  Before the race I heard this lady playing Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" accompanied by a guy playing his homemade steal drum.  I saw her standing around after the race I found out her name from one of the organizer's (can't spell it) and thanked her for singing to us.

I had some time to kill before they passed out awards so I perused my way over to the sponsors booths.

Free chia seed's Stupid shoe's and the book Born to Run

One of the sponsors of the race was "Be Real Barefoot Shoes" with the motto "Go Barefoot.  Be Real!"

If I was going to go barefoot why the hell would I buy a shoe.  I think "Don't be Real." would be more accurate
Basically it's an imitation Vibram Fivefinger except your toes are bunched together.  The inventor was the guy working the booth and said this was a big benefit over vibrams.  He  claimed your toes naturally want to touch each other. (ahh the beauties or marketing) I'm all for new innovative designs and personally I have no problem with these shoe's.  They are exactly how I would envision Target will enter the minimalist shoe market when they come out with a $20 Product.  Sadly this dude was asking $100 a pair (lol).  Honestly I think they were on par with a $5 pair of aqua socks.

It was taking forever for the awards ceremony to begin.  I needed to be home and ready to go to San Diego by 11:30  to head down to San Diego for my Sister's first Marathon.

While I waited I thumbed through some Caribbean travel brochures.

Quiz question
What is the most eastward Island in the Caribbean?
I found this Barefoot dude in one.


Eventually I scored me a little Running man.
and got out of there at about 10:45.

No time to relax I hurried home packed my bag and was on the road to San Diego before I knew it. 

Along the way My sister and I stopped in San Clemente at Sonny's Pizza a  joint our late Father use to take us to as kids.  We had no idea where exactly it was, we got off at some random exit and our car took us right to it without even taking out the GPS.

San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

We had to be in San Diego to the Race Expo by 5 p.m. We thought we had plenty of time, but the Expo was held across the street from Petco Park and the Padres were just about to start a home game.  The last 5 miles took over an hour.  My sister was a bit panicked and at 4:45 she jumped out of the drivers seat and jogged the final 1/4 mile while I parked the car. 

Although the Expo was closing down I'm guessing there were still hundreds of people waiting to get check in. My sister had no problems check in but by the time I entered the Expo they were already asking me to leave.

Earlier in the week I had made plans with Tiffany (the chick who helped me out at the ROC race) to pick up my award at the Vavi booth.  It felt like there was a fire at the expo as everyone who was paid by the hour hurried to dismantle their booths and evacuate the building as fast as they could.

I got to the Vavi booth in the nick of time and there I met Tiffany. It turns out she was even cuter than she was nice.  I wanted to stay and chat but I had to find sister and get out of their before the imaginary fire got me.

We went straight to the hotel right next to a Gentlemen's club, below the airports landing path, and near a train station to get some rest.

Race morning

We were less than a mile from the starting line.  I tried to drive my sister closer but failed miserably and ended up dropping her off even farther away than where we started from (sorry sis).  I wasn't worried, she had plenty of time to get there and I thought walking might be less frustrating than sitting in a car that was not moving.
My sister had paid for text message updates during the race so I could track her status. My first update confirmed she made it to the starting line and was off and racing.

Her plan was to run a pace at about 11 or 12 minute a mile pace but when I got the next text message less than one hour after she started she had already passed the 10km mark.  (she was running fast)

I hopped on the trolley and tried to catch her at the 12 mile mark, but the crowds were big and somehow I missed her. After 2:13 minutes I got another text, she had passed the 1/2 marathon mark in a time 15 minutes faster than she had ever raced.

At this point I decided to make my way to the finish line

I had plenty of time to kill so I took my shirt off and found a spot next to one of the bands with some warm dirt to lay in.
I relaxed at a bend where runners could first set their eyes on the finish line about .4 miles away.  I figured If I sat here I could easily see my sister and would be able to jog along the sidelines and snap a few pics as she got to the finish line
Nice Stride
I bet he wasn't heel striking during the first 5 miles?

I had never watched the end of a marathon before.  Endless droves of people kept coming for hours and hours.  It was a huge mix of emotions.  Some people found another gear when they saw the finish line while other's stumbled and could bearably walk.
 I witnessed one kid maybe 25 years old, he had nothing left and looked like he had just taken an uppercut from Mike Tyson.  His legs fell out from under him.  He stood back up and immediately fell again.  Aid, including myself rushed to his side.  He did not want to stop and tried to crawl back onto the course.  He was less than .45 miles from finishing a marathon after all.  We got some fluids in him and another runner sacrificed his own  finishing time taking the woozy kid's arm over his shoulder and together they hobbled off down the home stretch.
(i get a little teary eyed thinking about it)

I hadn't gotten a text in awhile and began to get a bit worried about my sister.  She had run the first half a little and din't know how this may effect her. After about an hour and 45 mins after the last text she reached the 20 mile mark.  I knew she would not quit but this meant something had gone wrong.

Way to go sis! Congratulations you are now an official marathon finisher.

She smiled for the camera as I ran down the sidelines but I could tell she was in agony. Her IT-Band had tightened causing grueling pain in her knee as she tried to run.   Nobody ever said running a marathon was easy but some how my sister persevered and achieved her goal.

I was very proud of my sister!
You know what, even she didn't finish the race I would have been just as proud.  She's a great person, mother and friend.  She is always there for me and it was nice to have to opportunity to be there for her for once.

Thank you to all the volunteers that made each race possible. 


  1. Hey thats one of our guys from SDR! (the barefoot guy RNR picture) Sweet.

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