I've been to find decent running routes without a ton of stop lights, and of course, a track. Decent running routes are more or less taken care of since I'm a pretty short run or drive from the Venice beach path. In fact, this Saturday I ran for three hours while getting a contact high and seeing a man dressed in a Nun's costume. The best part is that he was looking at me like I was crazy.
A few days back, on a lark, I tweeted asking about open tracks in West LA in hopes of getting some good information.
And someone wonderful (I can't find the tweet anymore!) said that Venice High School has dirt track I can check out.
"Dirt Track in West LA???" Way to spend money on schools, California.
But...I figured that a dirt track sounded better than no track!
Of course, finding a track and finding a track that is open, non-sketchy, and otherwise decent are two different things. I needed to do pre-workout reconnaissance.
I ran to Venice High School early yesterday morning to scope it out. The scene looked promising. There were students milling around waiting for school to start, but it looked like the track was accessible and the gate was open. I eyed the fence gating the perimeter of the track, and figured it was climbable if the gate happened to be locked tomorrow. I figured I'd need to get there earlier tomorrow - before students arrived for school - if I wanted to avoid looking like a creeper.
The next day (this morning!), I woke up bright and early and all excited for my track adventure! I ran down to the high school but the fence was locked. Crossing my fingers, I barely was able to slip through the fence as my ipod went on and off blaring songs as it pressed against the metal bars.
No one was inside on the track except a few seagulls. "Sweet", I thought as I drew a line in the dirt to mark the start and end of each lap.
I had no workout plan beyond 'Do speedwork", so I figured I'd just see how my body was feeling since I've really fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to speedwork lately.
I took off, and my first 200 meter split was a 52. Yikes. Guess this is a long interval day. I figured I do the first repeat mile 7 minute pace and then drop it from there. Unfortunately my legs felt like lead and most miles were right around 7 minute pace. It's weird because 7 minute pace usually feels more like a cruise type pace, not a speed pace, if it's only for a mile or two.
I'm still unsure if I am really out of speed shape or if running on a dirt track is really slow. Honestly it's probably both. Good, humbling experience.
6:56. 6:54, 6:58 repeat times. I kept the recovery short to a 200 meter jog. I comforted myself , thinking that it's normal to not be able to run the times I want after skipping any consistent training.
By 7:15 AM, high school kids started showing up and I figured it was just a matter of time before some gym teacher showed up to yell at me. I wasn't ready to drop and give anyone 50 pushups, so I called the workout done and slipped back out of the fence as quietly as possible.
As I ran through the high school grounds, I thought how removed I feel from high school. Or even from kids in general for that matter. Who are these random almost-adults and their skinny pants? Did any of them think their track sucked too?
Bottom line, I'm happy I found a place I can run - at least temporarily. While this venue has a little too much dirt and sneaking around for my taste, it'll do for now. I'm just happy to be back on the workout bandwagon, and that's making LA feel a little more like home.