Hollywood, Road Tripping and Payton Jordan: California Dreamin’ Week 3

Payton Jordan Invitation – Palo Alto/Stanford, California
IMG_1658I had no idea what I what I was getting myself into when I asked to run the 5000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Mt. SAC to me had always seemed like ‘the races of all races.’ Was I ever wrong. Payton Jordan is where the stars really come out to shine. For some it’s the first big race of the year, for others it is a stage along the California Circuit, for me it was my first 5000m.

Not really knowing what I was getting myself into worked in my favour (I think). I think if I’d known just how big a deal this race was I may have played head games with myself. Not knowing let me focus on my workouts, my race plan and not get wrapped up in any drama.

I was really fortunate to have been introduced to the Benkard family. They took such great care of me while I was getting ready to race. Their house was perched on the hillside of a small town outside of Palo Alto; my room overlooked the mountains. It was breathtaking to wake up to that every morning. Plus, it made for the perfect race prep. I could stick to my routine just like at home; coffee, shakeout run, hangout with kids!

My 5000m did not go exactly as I had visualized it; I don’t think most people visualize getting a side stitch. I had positioned myself really well and stayed calm and relaxed through the laps. I focused in on the backside of my competitors jerseys and let the laps tick on by. I have yet to watch my race on FloTrack but somewhere around 3000m I developed quite an uncomfortable side stitch, which only worsened as the race went on.

I persevered and finished the race. My last lap was just atrocious, somewhere around 90 seconds but I felt like I had a knife in my chest. I don’t believe in giving up, the worst that was going to happen was I would run slow. I finished with a 16:02. And while I had wanted to run in the 15:30’s I know that is within my reach. With some more practice I know I am in the shape to run that fast, if not faster. Huge thanks to Dave Korell; he was the first person I spoke to after the race and had some very insightful words of encouragement.

Side story: While doing my shakeout run and warm up the day before I had anIMG_6158 ‘accident’ with a stop sign on a bike path. Some how I managed to not see it coming around on the inside of the corner. Because I was running with people I basically had to duck under it to try and avoid it. I didn’t quite make it! Ouch.

Los Angeles, Hollywood and Training at UCLA
Before driving up to the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford, Celia and I spent a few days in Los Angeles, specifically South Hollywood. My cousin and his fiancé were kind enough to loan us their cottagy-bungalo just across from the Paramount Studios (It is actually For Sale if anyone is looking for an awesome LA home).

IMG_6121The Larchmont Village was home to some great restaurants, yummy coffee and ice cream, and some kitschy clothing stores. Plus it was only a short drive to the UCLA campus, which is open for training until 1pm every day. Between the Santa Monica Pier and UCLA we had a very awesome training environment.

IMG_6107Of course we also did the ‘touristy’ thing and drove up to the Hollywood sign at sunset. It was a very last-minute decision and it was really fun to explore the Hollywood Hills Neighbourhood.

Road trip to Atascadero/Paso Robles
IMG_6148Celia and I decided that with the long drive from LA to Palo Alto that we would divide it up and stop along the way. What better place to stop than wine country. Paso Robles is a family favourite for wine selections. We booked into a hotel chain in the Paso Robles area, in Atascadero.

As we exited LA we drove up this really steep mountain section and upon descending the other side we found the Californian farms. Strawberries, cherries, almonds, lettuce, and grapes … oh my. It was an amazing sea of green with mountain ranges on either side. While we did not indulge in any wine tastings I really appreciated the chance to drive the vineyards.

2015-05-03 09.14.43_DxOWoodside is where I met the incredible Benkard family. It was also where I went on one of the best rides of my life. I do sincerely apologize for being so slow, but after running a 5000m the night before you can imagine I had a little bit of lactic to work out of my legs. I am very thankful for my very patient escort who showed me to and from the Ocean.

If you’ve never ridden the North Shore of California it is a must. The views of the2015-05-03 10.10.57_DxO sea cliffs are outstanding. And the riding is like no other. You’re draped in this rain forest of California Redwoods, you pop out for a second to see the Ocean and then you descend again in them. Too bad my legs were so tired it took me the better part of the first climb to warm up. It was a great recovery ride and really capped off an awesome portion of the trip.

Next up is some training in Santa Barbara and the Pre-Oxy meet, where I plan on running another 800m. Highway 1 here I come!