Labor Day LA to San Diego--Coyotes and Crackheads
Oh man. Am I really doing this again? I asked myself that as I looked out the window on the train flying by sites that I would pass over the next day and a half or so while currently traveling about 80 miles an hour. I told myself I would have to cover this distance one step at a time. I would make it a point to enjoy the experience and how I was so fortunate to be able to do this. I had some free
entertainment of a crackhead fighting with her homeless boyfriend who ate all her lemon cream cookies which stirred her up into a frenzy. She lunged at him scaring an innocent young girl. So a bystander defended another guy who yelled at him for getting involved in it all. I thought fists were gonna fly.
I safely arrived at Santa Monica Pier at around 10:30. I wanted to leave as early as possible so I would finish as early as possible. This being Labor Day, all the beach communities were packed with people enjoying the day off. I took my ceremonial first picture. And then I started my stopwatch and took the first of what would probably be about a million steps towards my destination: my driveway in La Jolla about 120 miles away. About a mile into the run, I felt a rush of positivity as I realized how much I enjoyed this journey. I felt so fortunate to be in a position to do this yet again. Soon I had to head inland around Marina del Rey. Normally this area confuses me with all the Venice canals and dead end streets. But now as an experienced traveler, I knew my way around easily. The loop around Marina del Rey was rather uneventful. Along here, I noticed a surprisingly large number of bicyclists out for a nice holiday ride. Passing all the LA Beach communities of Playa del Rey and Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach, I noticed tons and tons of people out enjoying their day off. I stopped for a minute to take in a music festival in Hermosa.
Despite starting off the Run feeling kind of fat, (I weighed 147.6 when I left in the morning), I had become extremely hungry by the time I arrived at my usual first stop in Redondo Beach. I really like a certain Subway on Pacific Coast Highway at the south end of Redondo. I got my usual six inch veggie sub on honey oat bread with two orders of avocado and extra tomatoes. I got two chocolate chip cookies and three Gatorades. Interestingly, the cashier asked me if I needed to use the restroom. I asked him “Do I look at like I need to freshen up?” I must have looked kind of haggard. I started devouring the food as I finished filling my bottles and stuffing my pack. I finished off my sub walking down the sidewalk at a pretty decent clip. After a few minutes of walking to let the food settle, I settled into my “forever pace” again. This is the pace that I feel like I can run forever. It’s probably around 12 minutes per mile. I made my way through Torrance along PCH. The traffic through here was pretty heavy. I followed PCH until I reached Anaheim Boulevard which is about a 13 Mile East/West straight stretch through the Wilmington District of Long Beach. In all my past runs, the section is packed with big semi tractor trailers transporting shipping containers from The Long Beach Terminal. This being Labor Day, all the union workers had the day off.
I would need to stop again in a fairly ghetto section of Long Beach to reload my water bottles. I always enjoy seeing the response of the non English-speaking clerks at these carry-outs when they see this goofy looking white dude come in.
I hit the corner of Anaheim Boulevard and PCH which to me is always a significant milestone. This is about the 1/3 mark of the run. I plowed down PCH, heading due south now. I passed through Seal Beach then Sunset Beach. I would stop at another of my favorite carry-outs to gets some more grub and drink. I had been peeking at the clock and noticed that I was ahead of schedule. I wanted to set a personal record on this run so I tried to keep my feet on the gas.
Leaving PCH there’s a certain rock that I always need to stand on in order to scale a big fence taking me off of PCH and over to the boardwalk leading into Huntington Beach. That stupid rock is kind of like an old friend of mine. I always say hello to it when I get there. There’s never anybody around so I enjoy acting kind of silly. Today I said “Hey old friend. How you doing buddy?!” I was feeling really good here so I made sure to have fun with this. I usually hit Huntington Beach Pier at exactly 9 p.m. This is the time that I always call Diane and the girls. I so much look forward to talking to them. It’s a huge pick-me-up. At 8 p.m. however I went under the Pier. I told myself I would push on towards Newport Beach and call them around 8:45. When I did, it went to voicemail. I was mad and disappointed that something I looked forward to didn’t happen. I love being alone for all these hours but I still would have enjoyed talking to some human beings other than myself.
The traffic on PCH way off to my left had died way down. Heading to Newport then down towards the Corona del Mar was rather uneventful except for having to pull out my pocket knife and cut open a blister that had formed on the side of my big toe. I couldn't believe how big it had gotten. I’ve learned over the years the importance of taking care of these bad boys as early as possible before it became a really big problem.
In Laguna Beach, which had now become a ghost town, I splurged on some high-calorie, high-fat foods in that I had become seriously hungry yet again. I put down a thousand calories in about five minutes. Man did that taste good.
In the north part of Dana Point, outside the gates of Pelican Point Resort, I saw a gorgeous, decent-sized coyote. I asked him, “Hey buddy. What are you doing out here?” He was probably wondering the same. I moved closer to try to get a picture for my kids but he scurried off into the bush. Bummer. Heading down the road, I realized I still had about 50 miles to go. Of course I was enjoying this experience greatly but it still is a hell of a lot of work. My spirits remained high. In many of my previous goes at this endeavor, I would get really bored, frustrated and down about how hard this workout was. This time I noticed that I really hadn’t become cranky. I reminded myself that I promised to enjoy the journey and not focus on the destination which I’m so often guilty of doing. Just like in life. Enjoy the journey and don’t worry about the stupid destination.
I powered on in the wee hours of the night back on PCH. Soon I hit, Dana Point then pushed through a boring, dark section leading into San Clemente. I jammed my pack with more food for the boring push through Camp Pendleton.
After eight more miles past the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, I hit Las Pulgas Road where I have to get a ride through the rest of Camp Pendleton. My phone showed that there were no Uber or Lyft rides in the area so once again I had to hitchhike like in the good old days. After about ten people an Diegignored me, I became more bold. I started waving my arms and stepping almost in front of drivers entering the I-5 on ramp. Finally, a delivery driver of a big truck, pulled over. After telling him my plight, he let me in. The young guy was pretty cool. He even asked me for some advice in that he runs around his local track a few days a week.
He let me off at the first gas station in Oceanside where I would immediately start running again. I had to attend to the stupid blister again as I headed into Carlsbad. At a 7-11, I developed a “gastro-intestinal emergency” but they had no public restroom. So, I carefully waddled into a nearby coffee shop and begged them to use theirs. Thank God they said yes because I had no other options in this wide open area. Phew!!
My stamina remained solid along the coastal towns of North County San Diego but my mental energy was waning. As I hit each city limit sign of Leucadia, Encinitas, Cardiff, Solana Beach then Del Mar, my spirits rose, knowing I was nearing the end of this 120 Miler.
I blended in with others doing their noontime walk up the steep Torrey Pines hill. If only they knew, I had 110 miles on me and I was keeping up with them…
I pressed on past Torrey Pines Golf Course, Scripps Hospital, UCSD then Allen Field where my daughters play soccer. Finally, I crossed busy Torrey Pines Blvd and began the last slog up Via Capri which is a killer three mile push up to Mt. Soledad. I jammed hard, fueled by some crazy EDM music blasting in my ears.
Soon, I would pass my girls’ school which had let out ten minutes earlier. I coasted down the hill to my house, made the turn onto my street then ran up my driveway to the “finish line” where I had begun this adventure yesterday morning. I collapsed on to the garage floor. I thought that maybe what I do is not what I call “extreme” after all and perhaps is “crazy” like everyone else says. Nah!!!