My Walk...no, my RUN of Fame

It was my first trip to Hollywood and I was up at the crack of dawn on Saturday, April 7, 2012.  No, I wasn’t returning from a club or a late-night party.  I was getting ready to run the inaugural Hollywood Half Marathon!  This race was a class act, as you can see from the sparkly, bling-y medal.
Love the inaugural Hollywood Half medal!
I decided months ago to run this race even though it meant traveling cross-country and searching for airfare on a holiday (Easter) weekend.  Yes, I was drawn by the medal, the glitz, the opportunity to run through a town I'd never visited.  But even more, I could tell early on that this event was special.  Race director Ken Nwadike Jr. and his wife Sabrina and their team planned every detail, added many special touches, and maintained great communication with the runners in the months, weeks, days, even hours leading up to the race.  And the race benefitted Covenant House California, a charity near and dear to their hearts.
 
Elizabeth and Sandy with race director Ken Nwadike Jr.
I flew from DC to LAX, but spent my first night in SoCal with my friend Elizabeth in picturesque Lake Elsinore.  Elizabeth's place is right on the lake, and while I was missing my own cats, I got some lovin' from Duke and Nash (black labs) and Skits (one unique cat).
Skits McKay at Lake Elsinore
On Friday we drove through John Wayne airport to pick up Michelle from Denver, then we were on the way to Hollywood.  After breezing through the race expo, meeting up with several other running buddies here and there, and eating a late lunch, it was already dinner time. 

Elizabeth and I met up with Dianne and Chris at Tortilla Republic in West Hollywood.  The restaurant is run by Mayuret, the sister of my good friend Christine!  Mayuret and her staff took great care of us!  If you're a foodie and you find yourself in West Hollywood, you must try Tortilla Republic.  This hip, upscale Mexican restaurant boasts a unique decor and equally unique dishes.  I had a jalapeño margarita and hibuscus flower enchiladas.  We shared churros and a flourless chocolate cake (yummy and cinnamon-y) for dessert.  And then we were stuffed and ready to turn in for the night. 
Sandy and Mayuret by the tequila case at Tortilla Republic
Race morning came early, but as always, it was exciting.  It was Elizabeth's 50th half marathon!  We started out at the Universal City Walk and ran a couple miles downhill to Hollywood Boulevard.  Much of the race was on the boulevard.  At one point I slowed down to take a few pictures of stars on the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood sign.  There were several interesting characters on the course, and I also ran into several folks I knew either before, during or after the race: Jennifer, Ray, Hendrix, Kathleen and more.
Elizabeth models her 50th Half Marathon hoodie, a gift from Michelle 

A portion of the Walk of Fame along the race course

This guy ran the race balancing a watermelon on his head! 

The Hollywood sign as viewed from the race course
Boston has a "Heartbreak Hill" that I've never run, but somehow I don't think it can top the hill during the last two miles of the Hollywood Half!  I've been trying to improve my job on hills, but, like most of the other runners at my pace, I had to walk this one.  We had 1.5 miles of a fairly steep incline.  Luckily, the last half mile of the race was all downhill.  I might have PR'd if not for the hill, but it was still a good finish.  The star medal was a great reward, and the ride up the final hill to the City Walk in tricked-out limo shuttles was a blessing.
Midway up the hill near the Hollywood Bowl...MANY people walked it!

Half Fanatics Ray and Michelle hiding from the paparazzi

Sandy with medal after the Hollywood Half 
As if running 13.1 miles in Hollywood was not enough action for the day, Elizabeth, Michelle and I headed to Anaheim to watch the Angels, sadly, lose to Kansas City 6-3.  We had a good time anyway, drinking well-earned beer.  Not to mention - it was fleece blanket giveaway day at the ballpark!
Michelle, Elizabeth and Sandy at Angels Stadium
The rest of Saturday was a quiet one spent back in Lake Elsinore.  Then on Sunday, Easter morning, we slept in.  Eventually, we headed to the coast and spent time in Newport Beach and Huntington Beach before Elizabeth dropped me off at LAX for my return to DC on the Sunday night red-eye.
Sandy at Newport Beach
For those who ran the Hollywood Half, or those who have heard some stories, it is true: there were some hiccups.  There were a few mix-ups made by the volunteers at the expo (but I've seen worse) and they did run out of water cups on the course (but not water...so you could fill up your own bottles, or tip your head back).  Nothing tragic though, especially for an inaugural race, and Ken and Sabrina have done everything they can to make things right.  Never have I seen a more involved, caring race director.  And that is why I have already registered for the December 2nd Hollywood Half in Hollywood, Florida!  Two Hollywoods, two coasts, one year...and many memories in the making!

(Feel free to join my informal Hollywood Half Facebook group.  We focus on both the California and Florida Hollywood races and other running topics.)

Comments

  1. Awesome! Sounds like a great trip. Great summary!! I really wanted to do the Hollywood Half but I was just there for Tinkerbell in January! Maybe next year :)

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  2. Congrats!! I was there and loved it .. even that hill, I will go back next year !!

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  3. I loved it! I came down from Seattle for the sunshine (and bling) and already registered for next year due to the awesome people who ran the race (Ken and Sabrina) and who ran the racce, hill and all (all us runners :) )

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  4. Impressive and then some. Looks like a good time was had by all...once that hill was crested.

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  5. I would run this race every year if I lived on the West Coast.

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