Monday, November 25, 2013

Griffith Park Trail Half Marathon & 10K

This is one exciting weekend! I have actually been looking forward to this awesome weekend of trail running madness for a few weeks! Then it just crept up on me. This past weekend, the always wonderful and amazing trail race director to the stars Keira Henninger hosted her Griffith Park trail half marathon and 10K! Keira is also the lovely RD that hosted the Paramount Ranch Haunted Trails of the Night 10K a few weeks back! So anytime I get to hang out with Miss Keira and 400 or so fellow runners on some great trails, I'm a happy camper. So, let's dive right into this recap tastiness shall we?

Saturday, I got up and headed to Griffith Park. Before we go any further, let me explain what Griffith Park is. Griffith Park is a Los Angeles (and Southern California for that matter) iconic location. It is home to the hills where the Hollywood sign are, the Griffith Observatory which is an amazing building and place to go, as well as the Los Angeles Zoo. It is one of the largest urban parks in North America. It is a large mountain range essentially in the middle of Los Angeles. HUGE! Not your average every day soccer park...we are talking a mini mountain rage here people. Ok, back to the story. So, I parked my car, near the historic Greek Theatre (also located in Griffith Park), and headed to the start area which was at the base of one of the trails. Keira always feeds her runners, so I immediately noticed three full tables of pastries, coffee, juice, and igloos full of water. She also had the awesome folks from A Runner's Circle (one of Los Angeles' premiere running stores) there to help with the coordination of efforts. Check in was a breeze, and Keira gave some pretty kick ass tech shirts from Patagonia (whom she happens to belong to the ultra running team), a really great steel water bottle in a cool teal color, and some other neat goodies! She goes all out with her swag. Also important to note that her races aren't outrageously expensive...she covers a lot of costs to ensure we as runners have an amazing event. She's really a classy RD!

@KeiraHenninger and I at the start area
I checked my bag, chatted with some awesome runners like Sheila from Before I knew it, we are staged at the gateway to the race and Keira was counting us down. We got to zero and bolted out into the sunrise. This trail race took place on 5 Griffith Park trails with more than 1500 feet of elevation gain. So naturally I got a nice workout.

Within the first mile, I looked to my left and saw something we don't often get to experience due to haze or smog. With the recent rains, it cleared out the air, so we were fortunate enough to get breathtaking panoramic views of the beautiful city of Los Angeles. I could see as far as the Port of Long Beach. I could see Catalina Island, I could see Santa Monica. The ocean never looks so beautiful from atop the mountain. This view itself was all I needed to be inspired to enjoy this run! Nature and the beauty of the earth, the sky, and ocean are such blessings and should be appreciated. If you looked on the other side of the mountain, you looked into the San Fernando Valley. You can see Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers Studios.

Breathtaking views from the trail run. Notice the runners continuing the climb on the right
The first milestone of this run was reaching the world famous Hollywood sign. Living in the Los Angeles area my whole life the closest I have ever gotten to the sign was driving past it on the freeway, or forgetting it was nearby during my visits to the observatory, but when I tell you that nearly standing under it and seeing it unclose...there is nothing like it. Another incredible highlight! Great wide trails, amazing weather, spectacular views, and the Hollywood sign. We won!

WOO I'm In Hollywood! See, I told you I'd do it!
After that we swung back around and headed down into Brush Canyon where we made it to the half way point. This is the Camp Hollywood Land area where the infamous caves know Adam West's Batcave!!!!! Just to awesome! At the various aid stations they were all fully stocked with energy gels, mini PB&J sandwiches, salty snacks, and plenty of water and electrolyte beverages. I hung out at this aid station for awhile, really just taking in this awesome canyon, the colors, the textures of the rocks and sand, the energy of this magical place. In case you couldn't tell yet, I was in heaven.

The Hollywood Dragon has landed in Brush Canyon
Then we had to make our way back UP and out of the canyon. This was rude. LOL. A nice steady walk up the hill. Along my hike up the trail, I ran into fellow local runner Tracy who was taking on the trails! Way to go, Tracy!

Go Tracy!

The next stop after climbing out of the canyon was to swing around to the iconic Griffith Observatory. One of my favorite places in Los Angeles. The observatory was mile 10 on the run, so sadly this awesome run was coming to an end. There were lots of cars and people heading up for a fun day of star-gazing and science filled fun...I think they were confused why we were all running back and forth haha.

At the Griffith Observatory
Heading back toward the start/finish area was a fun decent back to reality. Some of the way down was very steep (much like the climb), so I had to make double sure I didn't break an ankle or my face. I came across the finish line around 2:42. I was VERY happy with this time considering the climb and the challenges of this course. This course was beautiful, but let me be honest, it will kick your ass. Something happened when I made it to the top of the hills. I felt this surge of triumph and energy! I felt like I could take on the world. I even spread my arms and took in the air and energy of the sky as I ran around one of the turns. This race was incredible. It is easily one of my absolute favorites.

Day 1 Done!
Now because one day of awesome trails wasn't enough, of course I had to go back for seconds. I woke up on Sunday and headed back to Griffith Park for Keira's 10K race. This race took place on the other side of the park, near the old location of the LA Zoo and the famous Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. Again, another easy day of check-in/registration and lovely morning snacks and beverages. While I was waiting to begin the next 6.2 leg of my trail run journey, I ran into fellow INKnBURN Ambassador Chantal! She looked amazing in her Steampunk tech tee. Speaking of INKnBURN, there was a HUGE INB presence out there! So many awesome looks out there!

Chantal and I getting ready to rock!
We were underway! This race was not as aggressive as the half marathon, which was a relief considering my legs were a little tight from playing mountain-man the day before. Again, waking up and seeing the sunrise and the colors splashing over the valley, what a great feeling that was! Inspiration started early again.

Kicking off our run with a great view
This run was an out-and-back route, again fairly mild trail, but enough of a challenge to keep me alert and challenged. The landscape was absolutely stunning. I honestly had no idea that places like this in Los Angeles even existed. Who knew that it was so close? Well played, Keira :)

Rocking the trail
I really enjoyed this shorter trail run. I think I found a new place to come out and just get away! I finished the 10K around 1:10 minutes (maybe faster) but I had a blast!

What a lovely rock!
All in all, I highly recommend these races to anyone who appreciates nature, fresh air, and time to clear your mind and free your spirit! The answer is yes! This was an amazing experience and I had a blast! Now, it's Monday evening and my legs feel like jell-o. Thanks for that, Keira. :)


No comments:

Post a Comment