but of course, i'm wussing out and not running the stupid marathon after all. i still waffle a little about it in my head, but i know it just isn't going to happen for me. and so i was kind of bitter about the idea of running another half just a week after finishing star wars...until the race organizers apparently used some ESP and sent out an email that was the answer to my dilemma. "want to switch your race distance?" it asked. "just fill out this form," it said. ummm...YES, and OKAY! looking at the race map, i realized that dropping down to the 10K wouldn't eliminate the part that went through paramount studios (which was part of what made this race so enticing in the first place). and so i felt much better about the whole thing and set my alarm for a less-ungodly hour than i'd had to for that star wars half.
now, you would think that being out on the road at 5:30 in the morning would have been totally sufficient, right? the start and finish lines were at the grove, with a start time of 7:00. it usually takes me maybe 40-ish minutes to get there from our house, so i figured i was totally fine. and i was...until i got within about a mile of the grove and found myself in bumper-to-bumper traffic along with hundreds of other runners. it was still only 6:30 by then though, and i thought for sure it would be just fine.
yeah, not so much. the minutes ticked by, the traffic moved at a glacial pace, and i was panicking a little. at 6:54, i finally got to a back entrance to a parking lot at the farmers market. and while i'd hoped to get to the parking structure at the grove, where the parking was a flat $5 for the event vs. timed parking at the market, i just didn't care anymore and swung right in. surprisingly, there were tons of spots available and i hopped right out and power walked it towards the start. i somehow managed to catch a glimpse of the helicopters that hovered overhead briefly just before the first wave was released out onto the course. and then i made my way to the 11:00-minute corral and slid right in.
i had just enough time to get my headphones in and get myself together before we started heading up to the start, where i noticed my friend mark doing his dj thing right next to...mario lopez. i'd forgotten that a.c. slater himself was "hosting" this event. if you look really closely, you can see him in the lower right corner of this picture.
and then we were off. we ran up the grove drive to beverly boulevard, where i caught a glimpse of one of our favorite dessert-y spots:
then we made another turn and headed up la brea avenue.
i don't remember if we were still on la brea or if we'd turned onto melrose, but here's the first mile marker:
and how sad is it that i'd done just a little more than that one mile before the pace car came up on my right, just in front of the super speedy first runner on his way back to the finish?
sheesh. but hey - here's mile 2!
i would like to eat here someday.
i hadn't ever been to paramount studios before, so i was kind of excited to run through their backlot.
there's the famous water tower!
and just inside those gates, we were greeted by a lineup of police officers who clapped and cheered as we ran past.
we ran around and past several soundstages.
and then we reached the memorial wall area - photos and names of those who died while doing their jobs.
the city sets were just like the ones i've seen at universal and warner bros. studios. i still think these are fun to see, though.
and then i was excited to see my friend ken, our "boss man" at team superhero, doing his free hugs thing. he pops up at events on a regular basis, cheering on the runners and giving free hugs to everyone who wants them. it'd been awhile since i'd seen him, so it was great to say hello and snag a selfie as i ran past.
a few minutes later, i heard a group of male voices just behind me, and they were coming up fast. hello, boys.
just around the corner, i caught a glimpse of a familiar sight - one i'll get to see for the 5th time in a couple of months. that's crazy.
here's a blurry shot of the red carpet:
and then we were outta there.
one last look at the gate before heading back towards the grove.
the first half of the course had been on somewhat of an incline, so it was nice to kind of coast through the downhill on the way back. before i knew it, i was almost there!
this right here is the site of where i had my luke perry encounter. ah, memories.
around the corner from here, the finish was finally in sight.
my team superhero buddy wil was there to give high fives to everyone.
yay! one more medal to add to the collection.
as i chugged the bottle of water a volunteer handed me, i walked around and looked at all of the displays. there were people posing and smiling in front of the memorial walls, which always seems a little odd to me, but hey - to each his own, right?
this police dog was nice enough to pose for pictures with people. there was a line for him though, so i skipped it.
on my way back to the farmers market, i figured i'd stop in and see if i could pick up a surprise for the old lady. too bad sprinkles wasn't open yet.
chinese new year display in the middle of the grove.
and one last bling shot.
as i walked through the mostly-closed farmers market, i remembered that there was a starbucks at the very end. and i thought, maybe they'll validate my parking ticket. after all, the sign at the entrance said that the first 2 hours of parking was free with validation, and i was in dire need of some coffee. while the barista wasn't particularly friendly and was more interested in flirting with the girl in line behind me, i managed to score that parking stamp AND got my caffeine fix. so instead of paying $5 at the grove, which would have been a further walk both ways, i paid nothing and started my race on time.