Dueling races

Last July registration for the 2016 Seal Beach 5K/10K opened for previous participants. Since I was sure I’d want to run my hometown race this year I signed up for the 10K to take advantage of the low price for early registrants. Fast forward six months to December when I discovered the Hollywood Half Marathon. Knowing that I wanted to run as many half marathons as possible in the spring I signed up for it without checking for conflicts on my race calendar (which I maintain on a wall calendar at work and in an Excel spreadsheet at home). Big mistake. Luckily the Seal Beach 10K registration fee was really low so I wasn’t that concerned about it. I forgot about my dueling races until about a week before they were both set to take place. To keep the registration from going to waste I offered my spot to a co-worker and he took it. He even went to the packet pickup himself to get the bib and shirt (which he was even able to exchange for his size). No effort required on my part! It was great. To augment my laziness, I also avoided having to drive up to Hollywood before the half marathon. Races that don’t have race day packet pickup are very annoying, especially if they require a significant drive to get there. I thought I’d have to make the miserable drive from Orange County to Hollywood, at least an hour each way, on either Thursday or Friday afternoon to get my bib and shirt for the Saturday morning race. Not a fun prospect. But then another co-worker offered to pick up my things on Friday since she was staying at hotel in the area overnight. How did I get so lucky? Two races and I didn’t have to lift a finger for either one before race morning!

On the morning of April 9th I drove up to Hollywood before 4 AM. (Not quite the way I prefer to start my weekends, but runners make sacrifices. Mostly sleep.) At that hour of the morning traffic was mercifully light so I got to the parking structure at Hollywood and Highland in record time. The bit of rain I encountered on the way made me nervous for the weather during the race. Running 13.1 miles in a downpour would be intolerable. I brought a poncho with me to prevent getting drenched beforehand, but I’d have to ditch it when the race started to avoid overheating. It seems that the prayers of all of the runners were answered because the skies granted us a reprieve…at least for a while. (And in the meantime the clouds kept the sun away.) I met up with my fantastic co-worker at the start line and got my bib that she’d picked up for me the day before, and we all started running around 6:30 AM. The rain held off until I was at about mile 10. It wasn’t ideal, but fortunately the rain was light enough to not cause serious problems (i.e., squishy shoes/socks or heavy, chafing clothes). My final time was slow, but respectable for me in my current circumstances. I’m still not in the greatest shape since getting injured so I was just happy to finish at all. It was my practice run for the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge the next weekend at Disney World. More on that later!