At some point in the last 8 months, the monthly streak got hold of me and now it is my mission to keep it going. Finding races had not been an issue – until November. I’m traveling for work and we’re traveling for the holidays … and the races just weren’t lining up. So I decided to start looking for potential events at the places we were traveling to.
This weekend we’re in Southern California for a wedding – and when I started looking at the itinerary I realized that I had an almost completely free Saturday morning while everybody was getting ready for an evening wedding. A quick search for a 25 mile radius around the wedding venue and the next thing I know I’m registered for the G.I. Joe Bootcamp Pier-to-Pier Run/Walk.
The idea here is that we started at the Hermosa Beach pier and did an out-and-back up to the Manhattan Beach pier. The length was roughly a 5K, but it was rough enough that they didn’t call it that. And this all seemed great – Southern California weather, flat course, exciting because it feels exotic to me, etc.
I missed the part where we were running it in the sand. When I realized this, my enthusiasm waned.
Anyway – registration was a disorganized mess. G.I. Joe Bootcamp is a local fitness program run by Joe Charles, an ex-MMA fighter turned personal fitness guru in Manhattan Beach. It is a personality driven outfit – and that works, as long as it works. In this case, it only kinda worked. They said get there early – I got there at 6am for a 7am start and had to wait a full 20 minutes for the check-in tables to be ready. Mass confusion about how the shirts were handed out, and the timing was “whenever my National Anthem girl gets here.” However – we got it registered, so that’s what counts.
So the way the course worked is that we started out on the pavement, immediately hit what I will call the heavy sand, and headed toward the water. Maybe 200 yards later we made a right-hand turn and headed down the beach. Now, the heavy sand was awful – nearly impossible to run in. The stuff down by the water, though, was nice. It was solid yet soft, and the biggest problem was the fact that the beach is banked headed down toward the water. So we ran down to the other pier, touched it, and turned around and headed back. No course marshals or anything like that – we were told to touch the Manhattan Beach pier and come back. And it worked. The final 200 yards back across the heavy sand was horrible, but we got it done.
The run felt really good for me. Once I was able to hit a groove down near the water, I started ticking off a really good pace – nothing near 5K PR pace, but that was out the instant I realized the sand was in play. I almost exclusively passed people on this one, and for the last mile or so I was trying to reel in the guy in front of me and just couldn’t do it. But that pushed me to a happy pace.
(EDIT: The official results were posted, and if we’re calling this a “race” then I am way happy with my finish – I finished 32nd out of 106 overall, but finished 3rd out of 9 in my division (M:30-39). I left before the finish ceremony, though it looks like they only called people up for 1st and 2nd place. But I’ll take it!)
– Just a beautiful run – surfers and stand-up paddleboarders and fishermen and seagulls and … and … and. I made the last minute decision to leave my iPod in the car, and I’m glad I did. The crashing waves made a great soundtrack, and there was certainly plenty to see.
– One of the things I’m learning about this coastal thing is that distances are very deceiving. Islands that look close are many, many miles away. And piers that appear to be just right down the beach turn out to be nearly two miles away. It was strange to be able to see my mark so clearly from that far away
– I grew up fishing … but fishing in the surf like that seems crazy. I wonder how much they actually catch.
– SWAG – nice cotton shirt (olive drab color, understated logos – nice relative to a lot you get) and a big bag full of stuff. I guess it is because a bootcamp outfit was doing this, but most of the stuff was either medicine samples (anti-fungal, Tiger Balm, that sort of thing) or food (protein shake, Vitamin C mix, etc.) And lots of opportunity to sign up for an upcoming bootcamp.
– Did I mention that running in heavy sand is nearly impossible?
– That’s November’s race, which puts me at 9 months.
– Next race: Ted Corbitt Classic 15K in Central Park, December 14th