Someone who is not familiar with the history of Southern California might think I am talking about Chicago. After all, William Wrigley Jr. did own the Chicago Cubs and built the stadium that most remember him for - Wrigley Field. But, William Wrigley played an important part in the history of Southern California too. Wrigley purchased Santa Catalina Island in 1919 (the Wrigley family still owns most of the island). Some of you may have heard about Avalon on Catalina Island - these days a tourist destination. Avalon was built by Wrigley. And, baseball got its start in Los Angeles thanks to Wrigley. The Los Angeles Angels (back before they joined the American League in 1961) was started (1925) and owned by Wrigley, and played here in L.A. in Wrigley Field (long since gone). There are several areas that carry the Wrigley name here. Today's race was in one of those areas - Wrigley Village in West Long Beach.
The excitment started early. I had heard from a couple of virtual friends of mine that they were going to be there. As soon as I got out of my car I saw person #1 - Penny from Planet Yennp Running! Penny is as nice and delightful as she comes across in her blog. And no Penny - you are *not* an Amazon! You need to talk to those folks at Camelback about their sizing! Even though we live within 30 miles of each other, this is the first time that we've met.
And just to show how the evil network of runners work - Penny introduced me to two of her blogging fields - Mary (Lilhlfpint) and Erica (Cupcakecarnival). It was a pleasure meeting the two of you!
As for the race - the morning was actually *perfect* for a run. Overcast skies. Rain (yes - real rain - not just a heavy drizzle). Temperatures in the upper 50's. All systems were go. Except for me. Despite taking Friday off, I was still sore and tired from Thursday's run. My legs were sore from shoes that need replacing. I was definitely not at my peak for this race.
I enjoyed my normal pre-race ritual. Porta potty - check. Coffee - check. Donut - check. I was as ready as I was going to be. By this time, the 5K'ers had started. I warmed up by jogging about half a mile up the course. By this time some of the faster 5K runners were making their way back on this out and back course. I stopped and cheered them on. Then - up in the distance - I eyeed Penny making her way back to the finish. I latched on and ran with her back to the finish to wrap up my warm up. Penny - you made me break a sweat!
A few minutes later it was time for the 10K to start. It is *really* nice to be in a race with only a couple hundred runners instead of thousands. No jockeying for position. No pushing slower runners out of the way. We took off in a light sprinkle.
This course was *flat*. Not quite like a pancake (there were a couple of inclines and one underpass) but there were no hills of any type of this course. I settled in to run my race. My goal was to break 55 minutes. Miles one and two had me on track. But, then, fatigue set in. My legs were starting to hurt. Heart rate and breathng said it shouldn't be lactic acid buildiup - but nonetheless - they were hurting. I still had four miles left, so I dialed the pace back in and tried to conserve what I had left for a finishing push.
Then at mile 5 - there she was - my savior! My buddy Ingrid (travelmama from the Runner's World forums). She had 'threatened' to show up and find me out on the course! What a sight for sore eyes - there at the water station at mile 5 with cups in hand. I gave her a great big sweaty hug and grabbed the nectar from her hands. Ingrid and I first met at the Southern California Half back in January. Since then I've seen her at two other runs, and if I wasn't such a marathon wimp, would have seen her at two others. Ingrid is another one of my certified running nut buddies - she has run 12 marathons in the last 12 months. All with an injured leg (ITBS and tendonitis). She keeps threateneing to take time off. I guess her idea of taking time off is to show up at a race to help! We should all be as charitable to our fellow runners! (And to let you know what kind of person Ingrid is, she was on her bike on her way to the local mission to donate clothing - race t-shirts that she was no longer going to wear).
Well - back to the race. There was still a little over a mile left. I was pretty sure my pace had been inconsistent since mile 2. I tried to push a little harder. Next thing I knew, we were rounding the corner and the finish line was in sight a quarter mile up the street. I gave my final push and hit the tape. Final time? 55:00. Argh!!!! One second and I would have broken my 55 minute goal! Instead, I was happy with a 32 second PR. I'm still making progress!
Overall, this was a pleasant race. Everything was well organized. The course was well marked, and there were plenty of volunteers out on the course to keep us going the right direction. Water stations were well stocked and well placed. And the post race food (bagles, oranges, bananas, pizza) and drink hit the spot! If you are looking to PR - this is a course to do it on.
I wrapped up a neat little race in a neat little community by spending some more time with my neat friend Ingrid, enjoying food, drink, and company. Want to know why I run....?
P.S. - Here's the pace chart from my race. It's pretty obvious where I lost this one....