During our time in Los Angeles last January, I had grand plans to get up every morning before work -- which starts at 5:30am, by the way -- and getting a good run in on the Venice boardwalk. I envisioned myself running along before the rest of the world was up, listening to music, and getting in shape. For obvious reasons, this plan never really took shape and the only time I spent on the boardwalk was well after 10am and was mostly spent reading and eating funnel cakes.
This year has been different; Although it's never happened before 5:30, I've been going on regular runs along the Pacific Ocean and taking advantage of the nice weather and beautiful atmosphere.
The last time we spoke about running, I had just run my first 5 mile race. That was two months ago, and while I've kept up running on a fairly regular schedule, I haven't done a whole lot to increase my distance. My pace has improved -- I'm averaging around 12.5 minutes per mile -- but I'm still running somewhere between 2.5 and 3 miles at a time. This past Saturday, I decided it was time to start pushing this a little further, so I set out to run my first 10k.
I came to this decision on Thursday. There was no official 10k scheduled, and I didn't even realize it was going to be 10k that I planned to run. The street we are living on is almost exactly halfway between the Santa Monica pier and the Venice pier, and most of my runs have been from our street down to one of the two piers. On my last run to the Venice pier, I ran all the way to the end of the pier and I had the bright idea to run from our street to the Santa Monica pier, all the way to the end, then run down to the Venice pier, all the way to the end, and back home. As it turns out, this is almost exactly 10 kilometers. Here are a few highlights from the run.
You see a lot of weird stuff on the boardwalk, and this is one of the least weird things I've seen: an aerobics hula-hooping class. This class was being taught just north of where the boardwalk ends and where my ran start so I was feeling pretty good at this point, just running along and enjoying RJD2's "Deadringer" album.
This is the famous Santa Monica pier as I approached the 2 kilometer mark. At night, the ferris wheel lights up and you can hear people enjoying their evening all the way down the beach. During my 10k run, however, I was just using it as a nice visual marker so I would know when I was about a quarter of the way through my run. The running path took me right up to the base of the pier where I turned around and headed back south toward Venice.
Here's a shot of the less glamorous Venice pier. No ferris wheel, no roller coaster, no cotton candy. Just an amazing view and lots of fishermen. The run back from the Santa Monica pier was kind of uneventful and I didn't take any pictures at all. Most of my runs have been on this norther half of the path, and so I was very familiar with the scenery. I was happy to see the Venice pier coming up, which would mark the 7k point in my race.
Seriously. I was as close to this guy as it looks like I was. Midway down the Venice pier is a big stainless steel sink that the fishermen use to clean their fish. This guy hangs out hoping to make off with an unclaimed fish head or two. The pier is full of fishermen and tourists just lazing the day away, so I felt a little out of place huffing and puffing my way down to the end.
Once I reached the end of the pier, I was rewarded with a fantastic view of all the boats out from Marina del Rey, as well as the view of Venice from about half a kilometer out. I was definitely finding myself getting fatigued, so I decided to mix things up and switch my iPod to The Magnetic Fields' new album "Realism," which I highly recommend.
As I made my way down the homestretch, past skateboarders, rollerbladers, the sleeping homeless, and street venders, I saw January roll by on her bike to congratulate me at the finish line. As great as The Magnetic Fields are, they weren't quite giving me the energy I needed so I switched to the good old rock and roll of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Baby 81."
It was amazing that I was able to hold the camera up at all, but I was excited not only to be able to finish the whole 10k, but to finish it at right around 12 minutes 43 seconds per mile. I did walk a few hundred meters here and there, but in all I was pretty proud of my performance. If that's not enough detail for you, here's the RunKeeper infographic.
I'm really glad I decided to run this longer distance, and I think it's something I'm going to start doing more often. I'd really like to be able to run the Columbus Half Marathon in the fall, so I'm really going to have to start getting my distance up. Next big race: The St. Patrick's Day 8k in Washington, D.C. It's obviously shorter than this 10k was, but it will be my first time running that distance in an official race since last year's Turkey Trot. Stay tuned for updates or, if you're in the area, come run with me!