Sunday, July 19, 2009

Running like Jamal


Kip and I found a new and possibly dangerous way to amuse ourselves.

Saturday afternoon, with the children happily engaged at a special church event for kids, we decided to go for our scheduled 8 mile marathon training run. This would be the second longest run Kip had ever attempted, and I was anxious to see how he would do.

I was “planning” to drop the kids off at the church in the morning and go for the run from there, but nothing ever works as planned in our household if it involves getting up and going somewhere. So it was afternoon by the time Kip and I headed out the door for our run. And it was hot!

Kip really wanted to run along the beach, so I mapped out a run starting from the marina. We planned to run 8 miles, jump in the ocean and then walk/run the last mile back to the car. But it was hot and crowded, very crowded.

July + Saturday + Venice Beach = nasty crowds.

The first mile was start and stop, wait to cross the street, run, stop, wait.

I missed April mornings and 7 a.m. runs.

When we finally got to the stretch of beach front sidewalks, it was as crowded as I have ever seen Venice Beach. At one point I wondered out loud if we were seeing more people than populate the little town in West Virginia where we met in high school. (BTW -- I Googled it and apparently VB sees as many as 150,000 visitors a day on a summer weekend – indeed bigger than our little town of 10,000.)

After a few minutes we were walking more than running, so Kip chose to run on the parallel bike path. I would have joined him but I was being idealistic, it says no pedestrians! Besides, I always hate the runners who block the bike path, particularly when my kids almost run into them.

So I picked my way through the crowd, trying to run politely through, watching Kip run the bike path.

And then the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack started in my MP3 player.

I was in Mumbai! I had a new game! If you have never tried to walk through Venice Beach on a summer Saturday or listened to Slumdog Millionaire, you might not understand this, but if you have done both, particularly at the same time, you know. It's fun.

I ran through the crowd, dancing through spaces between clusters of tourists, skateboarders, people with dogs, people with kids, Rastafarians selling CDs, freaks seeking a crowd, “doctors” selling pot, the regulars who arrived in 1969 and never found their way home, the gawkers who just flew in.

Walk, run, sprint, dash, stop.

I felt silly and eventually ended up on the bike path with Kip, but the crowd running had inspired me.

When we looped under the Santa Monica pier, I convinced Kip to listen to the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack on his MP3 player and race me a couple miles through the thick Venice crowd.

That was even more fun, not just picking through the crowd, but picking the fastest way through the crowd. It was exhilarating. And I won.

By the time we got to our 8 mile end, neither of us really wanted to jump in the ocean. Kip was too tired and I was too thirsty. We ran/walked back to the car which felt alot further than a mile away.

I don’t think that I want to run in the middle of the day anymore, but it felt great to be doing long runs again. I’m looking forward to doing 9 miles next weekend, and I’m pretty sure Kip is going to hang in there for at least a few more weeks.


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