So half way through the race and I was feeling pretty good. I was keeping a good pace and I felt that I could keep going for a while. This particular course was very interesting because you know you always want to stay near the Rose Bowl and it is a very distinguishing landmark. At mile 6 you are right next to where you want to go, its a tuff mind game.
As we are running I hear that we are gonna be running by the JET PROPULSION LABORATORY. Okay, let me start this off by saying one thing, I am a nerd. I have always wanted to visit JPL and see some of the cool things they have going on. I try to stay up to date on their recent projects and I know when all the NASA/JPL launches are. A lot of people think the USA only launches from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral but the US also does a lot of satellite and private space launches from California and both sites get a lot of cooperation from JPL. Nonetheless, I was super excited to see JPL up close for the first time. So that made running away from the finish line a little easier.
As I ran past the Bowl we ran by the adjacent golf course with a lot of older golfers. I see that they are all walking, very few were in a cart. Then I start to notice a ton of non racers who were walking or biking or running. The area around the Rose Bowl is for very active folks. So I tried to look like I fit in and have good runners form.
By mile 7 we are heading onto the trails again. A few step hills and we round a corner with no where to go but up and up in a hurry. I saw a whole line of people line of people struggling to walk up what I thought was a cliff and I joined in right behind them. I struggled up it but the fact that I want to go slow because of everyone else sure was nice.
Just as I started to reach the top the race leader was coming down the very same hill and he was flying. So I continue on in anticipation of finally seeing JPL. The course took us by a natural wetlands area with a frisbee golf course meandering through it. We started to get very close to some buildings and I started to see signs that actually said JPL and “Do not enter” and “Trespassers will be shot” all the stuff that let me know I was getting close. Running up to the security guarded gate I am giddy with excitement and right as I get to the gate one of the very friendly race volunteers kindly tells me to make sharp left and avoid JPL all together.
I didn’t get my first JPL visit but the good news was that we were heading back toward the Rose Bowl. This was mile 8 and my legs were starting to feel it. My goal was to make it past 9 miles without walking. So making mile 9 and one step would have been a success. But mile 9 came and went and I felt like I had enough to make it to mile 10. Then if i made it to double digits why not make it the whole dang thing.
I made it past a small clearing and sweet relief, I could see the Rose Bowl again. My stride had shortened dramatically and it was much slower but I was still running at mile 12. I made the final turn thanked some volunteers and a spectator told me “one minute left,” and I was still running.
I have seen a few races in my days and I always think the guy that sprints in the end when everyone else is exhausted is kind of jerk. But when I knew there was only one minute left I picked up the pace considerably and I was that jerk. I ran down the ramp and entered the Rose Bowl like tons of great athletes. In a near olympic sprint I ran by the cheering masses ( all the other already finished runners) and raised my arms in celebration.
A clock to the side of the finish line read 2:20 something, but to be honest I couldn’t read it I was running so fast it was only a blur. My dad was at the finish line with the camera ready and shortly after my mom and brother joined me. I was tired and the volunteers needed to collect my timing chip.
A great race in 2 hour and 20 minutes but the whole experience was gonna last a few days if not weeks, I was gonna be really sore, I already knew that. Stay tuned to hear bad it was.