Nike+ 10K Human Race

I got a little behind in my blogging and didn’t get around to writing about the Oregon State game. It’s a little late to post a blog about OSU but I ran in the Nike+ 10K Human Race that day and want to blog about that. I was sponsored to run in the race by Nike because I’m a runner and I blog about college football. I didn’t promise anyone I’d write a blog, nor was I asked to, but it was such a good experience and Nike was very generous to me so I thought I’d share the experience.

I had heard about this race which raises money for Pete Carroll’s charity A Better LA but had no plans to participate because the race started at midnight on Saturday, just six hours before my group starts tailgating for USC football. No way was I going to run a six mile race then start tailgating a few hours later without any sleep. But a couple of days before the race I got an offer I couldn’t refuse – I was contacted by a Nike representative who offered to sponsor me for the race. The offer not only included free race registration it also included a free pair of Nike running shoes and several hundred dollars worth of Nike running gear.

The offer was way too good to pass up so I agreed to run. But this was shaping up to be a grueling day: 10K at midnight, home at 2am to shower up, back out at 5:30 for tailgate setup, then eleven hours of tailgating and finally 5pm kickoff. I wouldn’t be back home until about 10pm. Talk about a test of endurance…

I got to the race shortly before 11pm on Friday to park, pick up my race packet and get warmed up. Coincidentally the race’s start/finish line was at the Coliseum so my marathon day would end 23 hours later in the same place it started.

I don’t know if it was a result of the way Nike promoted this event but this was the most curious collection of runners I’ve ever seen at a race. For starters I’ve never seen so many women wearing makeup at a race. And I’ve never seen so many people lined up at a race with digital cameras, cell phones, etc. I realize that some people have trouble going an hour without broadcasting their life to the world but this was ridiculous. Nike attracted a much different crowd from anything I’d seen before.

Before the race Nike had a booth where you could get your running gait analyzed with some high tech equipment. It’s been a long time since I’ve had my gait analyzed so I wanted to do this but the sign up process wasn’t clear and there wasn’t anyone from Nike to assist so I didn’t get to do it. That was my only disappointment.

Everyone had a good laugh at the beginning of the race because of a SNAFU by the organizers. The announcer got all the runners pumped up and gave us the signal to start but the runners weren’t allowed to go anywhere. It turns out they didn’t have the course clear of cars so we had to wait a few more minutes. That was pretty funny but you probably had to be there to appreciate it.

I do a lot of cardio cross training but don’t do 6 miles in my normal routine unless I’m training for an event and since I didn’t plan to run this race it had been some time since I ran 10K distance. So I set a very moderate goal of finishing in 54:00 and if I ran a good race 50:00. But a funny thing happened along the way to 10K. About half way through the race this girl effortlessly bounced past me. I mean she was literally bouncing. Effortlessly! I don’t know why but something about this girl passing me made me feel like I had to keep pace with her. I think the ease with which she seemed to glide by annoyed me.

So I ran faster. I know she had no idea I was using her to pace myself but I swear the faster I ran the faster she ran. Or at least that’s what it felt like trying to keep up with her. I probably kept pace with her for about a mile and kept her within ten yards for another mile and then I just totally lost her. But by now I was in a much higher gear and my endurance felt good so I kept pushing hard until the end of the race.

At two or three points along the race route Nike had live musicians which was a nice element. One of the groups was an a cappella group which I’m guessing was the SoCal Vocals, if they’re still around. There was also a light smattering of people along the course cheering runners on.

I don’t recall the exact route but it was something like this: Start from the peristyle end of the Coliseum heading east, then north on Grand, west on Jefferson and north on Figueroa. The longest stretch of the race was on Figueroa, it went all the way up to the LA Convention Center where we did a U-turn and headed back south on Figueroa. Then at 28th Street we headed west on fraternity/sorority row for a couple of blocks then back to Figueroa, Jefferson, Grand and back to the Coliseum. I’m pretty sure I’m leaving a leg of the course out but that’s what I remember.

As I crossed the finish line I looked at my watch and was shocked to see I finished in 48:22. And I lost at least 30 seconds at the beginning of the race trying to break clear of the starting line congestion so my actual adjusted time is under 48:00. Considering I hadn’t trained for this distance I would not have thought that time was possible. That could be a 10K PR for me and I owe it all to the bouncing girl. So whoever you are thank you!

After the race I didn’t get home until about 2am. I took a shower, changed, got my stuff together for the game and headed back out to USC for tailgating at 5:30.

As for the football game so much time has passed and so much has happened since then that there’s not much to talk about. USC beat Oregon State in another nail biter that shouldn’t have been. We escaped with another victory on the very windy road through the 2009 season which grows more dramatic every week.

By the time I got back home after the game it was around 10pm and I was about as tired as I could be. It was a very loooong day and one unlike any other.

Fight On!

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