Hollywood Sign Trail Run Hike 12K

A very long line for “day of” packet pickup prompted the organizers to delay the start by 20 minutes.

I’m angry and annoyed as I endured a 3 hour pickup yesterday and now feel like my time has been doubly wasted, my value deemed worth far less than others. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too old for this. Or too burned out. My patience has run out for such things.

It’s chilly this morning, cold enough that I can see my breath at the Old Zoo/Merry-Go-Round parking lot in Griffith Park. I bumped into a guy I met at Huntington Beach last week. Chatted with him and a few other runners as we stomped out feet trying to keep the blood circulating as the stated start time receded into the rearview mirror of reality.

As 7:20 approached, the race director thanked us for our patience and especially wanted to thank people for picking up their bibs yesterday to alleviate some of the congestion this morning. I guess it helped. Didn’t feel like it did.

A clump of folks, clearly erring on the side of hiking as opposed to running the 12K were gathered in front of me. As other runners threaded around and through them to avoid problems after the starting horn sounded, I opted to join them in scooching forward. I heard some angry complaints from the clumped runners but I didn’t respond. I’m not sure how to explain that it was a safety hazard to be at the front and not be moving close to the starting runners pace. It’s not dismissive or derogatory — I think it’s great that people were out in force and wanted to do this together. But there’s also courtesy and safety to be considered. It’s a chip timed event so it doesn’t really matter when you start… but if you have to duck and weave and try and avoid stumbling or tripping yourself or others in the opening moments of the race, if you have to jockey for pace in the opening moments after crossing the starting mat, it can be unnecessarily stressful and painful and dangerous. Nobody wants to be tripped or to cause others to be tripped but a clump of folks at the start can lead to those problems. Heck, I’ve been in races where people are roughly the same pace and it’s a dangerous give-and-take virtual shoving match just trying to find one’s footing. In a trail environment it’s even more trying.

And while the majority of this run was on wide roads and running/horse tracks, there were enough sinkholes, potholes and horse pucky that one had to be one’s toes. Further, the climb uphill was definitely hard on me. I’m out of shape entirely and woefully out of practice on trails and hills so it was a real struggle to try and run up that hillside to the sign.

And unlike the previous (and free) summertime series of Runs to the Sign sponsored by A Runner’s Circle, this paid event didn’t actually take you up to the Hollywood Sign. Instead we ran to a lookout point that had the sign kind of at an angle that was, well, a major disappointed to me. Having achieved the ascent, the turnaround at the lookout point was underwhelmingly anticlimactic, especially when I know had we turned right instead of left back a piece, and admittedly had we run a lot more than a 12K, we could’ve gone to the sign proper.

It was what it was. I just wasn’t enthused or in the mood. The downhill was nice, albeit sometimes that can take a toll on legs… and on the head as I kept worrying I might trip and stumble and fall. It’s a paranoia thing that usually results in a self-fulfilling prophesy. At least this time I avoided a faceplant. But I did find myself gingerly slowing here and there. I was jealous of the three or four guys who shot past me, seemingly carefree and confident, a controlled careen down the slope.

As I trotted over the finish line, I felt neither proud nor relieved. I felt a little empty, as if I had somewhat wasted my time and energy. I generally aim to run 10 miles a day or so and average a marathon a weekend. I’m well under that mileage for this week, a week I stepped back onto a bathroom scale and saw the needle spin wildly to 30 pounds over my goal. I’m despondent and depressed and the endorphins of running aren’t helping like they used to. I suppose a 12K… or 7.45645 mile run… isn’t remotely sufficient for resolving the mistakes exemplified by a box of Girl Scout Cookies I inhaled ashamedly the night before. And it doesn’t help even when I tell myself that I was really helping the next generation (or at my age I think it’s three generations below me).

I tried to put on an antic disposition, a smiling facade to obscure my feelings.  So when or if I ever look back on this I’ll hope that time and memory smooths the harsh corners of the experience.

This run was filled with regrets.

This run was a series of broken dreams.

In that regard, perhaps it’s only fitting that it was a run to the Hollywood Sign, or rather a run *toward* the Hollywood Sign without ever really getting there.