Wednesday, September 26, 2012


It's my first week in the new place and in running-speak that means "OMG WHERE CAN I RUN THAT DOESN'T SUCK???".

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.

Very LA. 

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.


  1. I have several friends who use the track at Santa Monica College (SMC) and seem to like it. Not sure if its too far out of the way for you. Welcome to LA! (if you ever are looking for a hilly long run- head up to Ocean and San Vicente - there are some good hills in the area)

  2. Oh how I despise the track. I'm so glad you found you one and I'm sure the jumping the fence took all your energy. Those are great splits! 200 recovery isn't even long enough to breathe. Nice work out there!

  3. I've heard of West LA running clubs that do track work at Santa Monica HS (I think). There's also UCLA which isn't as close to Venice and can be a hassle when it comes to parking. I've never seen them check to see if you're a student or staff to use the track.

    Have you run along San Vicente yet? From Brentwood/Veteran's Center it's about 3 miles to the beach. It's going downhill to the beach and then slight uphill back. There's a nice grassy median with water fountains and there's a dirt path available for about half a mile.

    In Century City/Rancho Park I'd suggest running around Cheviot Hills park. It's 2 hilly miles, no stops for traffic. And it's a park so easy access to parking, water fountains and bathrooms. There's dirt paths along two sides of the park.

  4. I was so expecting some juicy story of you getting shamed by children or PE teachers. I've been shamed by a PE teacher in my hood, only once though. The sight of tweens usually creeps me out enough to leave on my own volition by 7:45.

    Venice isn't super close, but the UCLA track is awesome and has somewhat predictable hours. You can even spot some hotties like Jake Gyllenhaal or Ryan Phillipe. Or Ozzy Osbourne. I used to run there in the evenings, no problems. Great stairs to run up too!

  5. I'll bet those kids were wondering "Why is that OLD LADY running through our school?" Hahhahah! just kidding ;-)

    I bet it will feel good to jam on some track work, even if the track is sucky. And you can always pretend like you're a super secret super spy or some such sneaking-around kind of person :)

  6. I'm so glad that you found somewhere to run! LA seems like a super busy place, hopefully you can find some other nice running paths!

  7. I feel very cut off from high school students, too, except that I'm noticing that I can't tell the difference between high school kids and college kids any more. They all look like my five year olds to me.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who sneaks into tracks. I hope you find a better option soon, though.

  8. I'm coming back from a heel injury and it's just frustrating looking at my speed/pace now.

  9. I run with TCLA at Santa Monica College track. Check you email ! I saw you running on the bike path yesterday and got so excited and waved at you like you knew me hahahaha.

  10. Definitely check out the Santa Monica College track! They have great hours, and lights! I work out at night, and I feel completely safe there under the bright lights. It's pretty swanky, as tracks go.

  11. A bit far from where you are in Mar Vista, but in Redondo (off Aviation, near I think it's the Redondo Civic Center or something or performing arts center) there is a dirt track. Completely open to the public. I've run there a few times.

  12. I recommend the UCLA track! Allegedly it is only for students/staff but I have never seen anyone ask for ID. Just make sure that you don't try to go when they have track practice or other events.