My trip to California to join the team running the 43rd annual Lake Tahoe Relay that Bex put together started at 4:30 in the morning a week ago Wednesday, June 6th. I'd gotten home at 10 pm the night before, so tired from wrapping things up at work that I went to sleep without packing yet for my 7 am flight. When I woke up in the wee hours the next morning with thirty minutes to spare before having to drive to Dulles, you can imagine my packing job. Two of everything went flying into two suitcases to make sure that I had one of anything that I might need. What woke me up, actually, was the beeping arrival of a text e-mail on my cellphone that Bex had sent to all team members saying it was v. cold in Tahoe and to bring warm pants. I had never received a text message on my new cellphone before. It was v. exciting.
I made my flight and landed in Long Beach at 10 am. That's an astonishingly small airport, right there next to LAX. We departed the plane directly onto the tarmac and walked across it to enter the terminal. Just like in the sixties. After a very short walk through the "terminal" we went out a door and were at the curb where our bags were waiting.
I picked up my rental car and drove to the Anaheim Angels ballpark for a 12:35 pm game. When I ran the inaugural Disneyland Half-Marathon in September, the race ran through the stadium at the ten-mile mark. I mean through the stadium. We entered through a portal along the right field foul line, ran around the warning track past home plate and departed via an entrance by the left field foul line.
For two minutes I was a big-leaguer surveying a new stadium. As I ran past the left-field foul pole, just before running out the passageway, I veered left, reached up, "caught" a line drive just as it was leaving the park, crashed into the padded wall, staggered and then righted myself as I squeezed the ball in my imaginary mitt. I had just robbed a big-leaguer of a home run. (At the crack of the bat, I turned my back to the plate and ran to the wall.)
After that fantasy catch, I just had to come back and see an actual game at Angels stadium. And a nice stadium it is, too. Originally one of those multi-use donut shaped stadiums they used to build for baseball teams in the sixties (most have since been torn down like in St. Louis, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh), they sawed off some outfield walls, installed luxury boxes, restaurant areas and standing ledges, and made it into a real stadium you can actually see out of. I liked the stadium a lot.
Oh, the Angels lost to the Twins. After the game, I drove north on Interstate Five up the giant San Joaquin Vally, the breadbox for the world apparently, so I could get to Sacramento early the next afternoon to pick up two other team members who were flying into there. It's 400 miles from LA to SF, near where Sacramento is. I catnapped that night locked in my car in a rest area.
Running update: The tendinitis in my left leg is back with a vengeance. On Wednesday after I flew back to DC, I ran a hilly 7 miles (9:22) at noon in the heat. Thursday and Friday, inspired by the huge hills the relay team encountered at Lake Tahoe, I ran my hill in Falls Church, four miles each morning at a nine-minute pace. As if running up a half-mile hill would help you get ready the next year for a three-mile hill. Yesterday I did my long run, eleven miles on the Capital Crescent Trail at a nine-minute pace. I also hiked a difficult 3-mile trail along the Potomac known as the Billy Goat Trail. This greatly aggravated my injury, which already was sore from the mileage I had done earlier. This morning I started out on a run but quit after a mile because the pain in my left leg told me to stop.