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LA New Year’s 9.3 Challenge

The first Sunday evening in January is the night for the Los Angeles New Years Races. This is my 3rd participation in the event. My first one was in 2014. Back in those days the event started near Staple’s Center. There was a 5k, 10k, and a Half Marathon. I did the half which went all the way up to Dodger Stadium and back. I enjoyed it. In recent years though they replaced the half with a 5k + 10k challenge. You run the 5k and 1 1/2 hours after the start of the 5k, you run the 10k.

Last year, you may recall Jesse Williams and I went down for the race. I was fighting an injury so I took the 5k easy. I did not get to try the 10k, as this was the race where Jesse had his heart attack – I spoke with him the other day and he is still progressing nicely – a year later.

So yesterday I headed down to Los Angeles. Driving down I felt a little like I didn’t really want to do it. No one I knew was going to be there. But, I was already registered and knew I would enjoy myself once I got there. The Sunday afternoon traffic wasn’t bad… so I made my way to LA. I checked in, I checked a gear bag and made my way to the start line.

Last year, planning to run easy, I started back in the crowd and was amazed by the congestion. I couldn’t run faster than 10 minute miles if I wanted to. So this year I got up within 5 meters of the start line, nice and early and let the crowd form behind me. I got to talking with a nice young man named Matthew before the race began.

As the 5k started I held back just a little. Knowing that there would also be a 10k I did not want to push it quite at 100 percent. The first mile was about 7:20. The course heads west from downtown and it is mostly uphill on the way out. So, when we turned back we had a nice gradual downhill most of the way back. The back half was more like 6:40 pace so I averaged 7:01! I looked up my results right away and found that I finished in 21:48 – 71st out of 2292 runners and 2nd out of 45 in my age group!

The wait between races was pretty long! But eventually more than half of the 5k runners made their way back to the start line. Matthew found me in the starting corral once again and we chatted some more. Someone commented on how nice the weather was for the race, and I commented on doing the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot in Lancaster in the Snow. Matthew said he had heard about that from a friend of his name Rachel. Since I know a lot of runners, I asked Rachel who? He said Rachel Thompson. I told him that Rachel was a friend of mine. I showed him the selfie we took after the Jingle Jog 5k!

Turns out that Matthew has been training with Rachel as Rachel is training for the Los Angeles Marathon. Matthew and I took a selfie and I sent it to Rachel!

Matthew was one of several nice conversations I had before and after the race. I cannot recall having such nice conversations with strangers. (Several have already found me on Strava…..)

Anyway, about the 10k…. The first half of the 10k was the 5k = an out and back heading west. After it returned to the start area it headed north toward China town out and back again. I started off at just about the same speed as the 5k for the first mile. I tried not to speed up as much for the downhill part of the first half. I noted that at half way I was 22:20. Heading north into Chinatown seemed mostly flat, but more down than up. It seemed that I was holding pace pretty well, but I did get passed by a few runners… and I caught a few. The last 1/4th of the race returning from China town seemed uphill. The final push to finish was uphill as well. Still I stayed pretty consistent finishing the race in 45:23. This was good for 33rd place out of 1364 runners and another 2nd place in my age group.

It is interesting to note that the guy who beat me in the 5k must have focused more on it – he was 3rd in the 10k and the guy who beat me in the 10k did the opposite jumping up from 3rd in the 5k to first in the 10k.

After the race I hung out for quite a while before heading home. The park across from the Music Center where the race was held is beautiful.


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January 2020


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