This past weekend I traveled to LA, where my dad's high school cross-country team was competing at the Mt. SAC Invitational. I didn't actually make it out to the race -- I spent my weekend in Disneyland with my mom and brother instead! For those of you who have run the course at Mt. SAC, you surely remember the hills -- correction: mountains -- that you must climb throughout the 3 mile course. Having raced there (rather unsuccessfully) in high school, I had no real desire to return... and besides, Space Mountain and Indiana Jones are waaaaay more fun than running "Poop Out Hill"!
I got to spend some quality time with my little brother this weekend as we went on ride after ride and I searched for Disney Princesses throughout the Magical Kingdom. Unfortunately, the city streets surrounding it are not quite so magical, and I had to do my runs through the concrete jungle that is Anaheim. I ran up overpasses that criss-crossed I-5, inhaled car exhaust while I waited at stop lights, and tried to avoid reckless SoCal drivers. All things considered, one would think that my runs would have been pretty crappy. However, I had surprisingly good training days in LA! Despite all the smog, concrete, and traffic, I had two really solid runs. During one run, I was so anxious to get my miles in and be done with the run that I ran really hard, to finish the run as fast as possible. Somewhat pointless, since I was going to run 8 miles no matter how fast I ran... I ended saving myself a whopping 2 minutes of running through the Anaheim streets, running 54 minutes instead of 56. It's kind of like driving 85 MPH instead of the speed limit -- it really only saves you a few minutes in the end, but somehow you feel more accomplished by driving or running faster and getting to your destination sooner. In the case of this run, though, I not only got off the LA streets 2 minutes earlier, but I got in a solid aerobic effort -- win-win! :)
I still think that running in SoCal is pretty crummy... I'd much rather run through Golden Gate Park, along Ocean Beach, or along Crissy Field. But what I learned this weekend was that location isn't everything -- I don't have to be running along a scenic dirt trail to have a quality training day. Don't get me wrong, I think that training in a good location is really important -- running on measured miles, at altitude, in hills, and on dirt trails can all contribute to your running success. But more important than your training location is the attitude you have. Sometimes I've gotten frustrated about my training location, and let it negatively affect my run -- for example, I've been known to be grumpy for miles after having to dodge tourists taking up the whole sidewalk in Washington DC, or after being chased by a dog on a rural road near my grandma's house. This weekend, I could have been a complete grouch about having to run through suburbia. But I tried to have a good attitude about it, and hey, what do you know, I had some great runs! It's so simple -- attitude is everything! A wise man has been telling me this for years, and maybe I'm finally learning to take it to heart...
Hope your runs are joyful, no matter where you're running!
Golden Gate Bridge at California Adventure in Disneyland -- I much prefer the real one!