Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chinatown Firecracker 10K Race Report

As races go, this one would score a big thumbs down. Not because it was difficult. Not because of the hills. Not because of pot holes, debris across the trails or the other things that the race organizers can't control. But for two reasons. First off, no mile markers. Other than the Start/Finish line there weren't any on the course. No halfway marker. No one mile to go. Nothing. Top it off with water stations without cups. This race will not go on the top of my list.

If I do this one again, maybe I'll just show up for the opening and the exhibits and pass on the actual run. Opening ceremonies were second to *NONE*. I don't care what you think, but a 1,000 running Elvi can't hold a flame to a hundred thousand firecrackers and a lion dance to bring in Year 4707, the Year of the Ox.

The after race exposition was also good with plenty of water, fruit and bagels. There were also vendors galore giving away everything from cans of Coca Cola Zero, various recovery and sports drinks, Starbucks, etc., etc. And the scenery. From Elysian Park the views to Downtown L.A. and Hollywood were to die for!

Oh - and the last bad thing - my performance. Yech. 1:01:55. It's been over a year since I last took more than an hour to run a 10K. But a number of things conspired against me this weekend (yeah right - not my fault!). I got to the start line, fired up the Garmin and got the dreaded "Batteries are low" warning. I think the warning should have read "Ha ha! Your batteries are dead!" I've never really practiced racing by feel, so I wasn't sure whether I could have pushed harder at the beginning or not. Then came the hills. Two and a half miles and a 700 foot elevation gain kind of hills. Nonstop up and up. I didn't want to blow up in a 10K, so I slowed my pace as I headed up. How slow I had no idea. Sure would have been nice to have the Garmin.

With all the recent rains, the scenery was spectacular. The race took off up Broadway to Elysian Park Drive, where we really started climbing. But, the hills were green, the air crisp and clean, and the skies were blue. A great day for running! We continued climbing to Elysian Point. From there the views of Downtown were great!

At this point, our 3 and a half mile downhill began. We headed on down (at points very gingerly dodging potholes, running water, puddles, and sand washed across the road) and back into Chinatown for the finish. I had to actually pull up a couple of times because the hills were so steep (downhill) that my back started screaming in pain as I pounded the pavement. I was disappointed seeing the clock, but knew that I had given it all I had on this day.

Once the race was done, I was on my next hunt. Breakfast! My back was hurting so I wasn't in the mood to walk down from Chinatown to Olvera Street, so I climbed in the car and drove to El Tepeyac in Boyle Heights (East L.A.). This restaurant has been around for about 50 years now. If you didn't know about it, you would not think to stop here for food. The outside is not spectacular, and the insides are about 1000 square feet of old kitchen tables and a counter. But it is an institution in Los Angeles. Their specialty are burritos, with the flagship being Manuel's Special, so large that it takes two 12 inch flour tortillas to create it. In fact, El Tepeyac is going to be featured on the Travel Channel's Man v. Food program. The episode is supposed to be aired on February 18th.

But, I was on a search for menudo. El Tepeyac's is not the best I've ever had, but it is still pretty darn good!

If you are interested, more photos and video are at my Flickr site here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glennsphotos2007/sets/72157613546209236/


  1. Bummer on the run, but great pics and breakfast!

  2. Great pictures and delish food, but bummer on the bum run! I find that annoying as well! :0

  3. It is too bad they don't put a little more effort into the race organization. It looks like it could be a cool event. Oh well, it is still early in the racing season, so I am sure your next race will be a step up!

    I seem to remember watching Anthony Bourdain eating menudo on one of his travel shows. It looks very tasty!

  4. this looks and sounds like it could be a really cool race. hopefully they get it together and actually put the race-details together next time. no cups! how crazy!

  5. Glenn, I was driving north on the Harbor Freeway and saw all of you guys running~~ I wish I had been there but I was headed to herd sheep instead!

    No cups for water? That is pretty bogus!!! They'd better fix that!!

  6. great race report...hopefully the organizers will get their act together for next year....isn't menudo made with cow intestines? i've never had it, but my dad loves it...

  7. Loved the post! Great pictures too. I haven't been to El Tepeyac in years and this brings back memories, especially the Manuel's burrito.
    Sorry to hear the race wasn't the greatest, insane about the lack of cups!

  8. Ouch! No mile markers and the Garmin was out of batteries. Oh well, at least you got your Mexican (after spending the morning in Chinatown)..LOL

  9. no mile markers at all? wow that sucks. i would have been like you, especially if the garmin is dead. i so depend on that thing now - it tells me when i can speed up or slow down, it's awesome!

    and that does sound pretty cool with the firecrackers.

    oh, and I'm glad you are still able to run and that you were able to see a doctor who would so obviously understand your wanting to keep on running!

  10. This year's 2010 Firecracker 10K/5K run did have mile markers, people who shouted out your split-second time, and cups of water being foisted upon the runners/walkers. Try it again, and I think you'll be in for a good surprise!

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  12. Body Dreams - check out my review of *this year's* race here . Night and day difference. I will *definitely* be back next year!