Wow. That was a long sleep. I was kinda hungry so I ate, I needed to go, so I went...and after that I don't really know what happened. I just remember yawning...and the next thing I knew...it was 2017 and I was in Liverpool. It must have been a wild night after reaching the ocean! Anyway, I was kinda enjoying all that running...and I had some new shoes so I guessed there was only one thing for it. Olivia (you may remember her from the Fort Stockton era of Texas) had been waiting for me to get running for a long time and she was waiting for us at LAX and took us to our overnight staging post, the Courtyard Marriott in Pasadena, where our room was full of balloons and a “Welcome Back” banner that she'd drawn with her own fair hand! A lovely surprise and I just wished we'd got to the hotel earlier to enjoy the indoor pool, but queues at US Immigration had put paid to that. My amazing sense of planning also meant an early night as I had company for the first part of my run. Blue Benadum, one of Nike's best running coaches and crack marathoner and his Jedi Apprentice, Raul Arcos were to be waiting for us at Santa Monica Pier for a 7am start. I like the fact that I hardly ever got out running on the first leg before half seven and now we had to travel an hour to get to the start – oh well – motivation to get up has always helped me as I don't tend to function well before 10. A jetlagged but well-insulated me got out of the hire car and saw two smiling faces beaming down from the pier. We set off after a bit of filming for KTLA and my legs that had not really been accustomed to speed in the last few months were a source of worry, but they seemed happy enough. After I'd sped away from the guys (OK. They had to go…) I found myself in an area where there seemed to be a bit of money sloshing about - I've seen smaller walls for some prisons! There seemed to be a general tone of UP on the roads as I headed up Mandeville Canyon Road and as I planned to be solo for most of the day, this was a bit of a concern for my possibly over-rested legs. I'd assumed that because we were still in LA, I'd be able to pick snacks and drinks up en-route. Think again, sonny Jim, I was almost instantly in an area that seemed to have lots of houses, but not much else. As I was swigging the last of my water, I ran past a chap attending to his car, that had two very nice road bikes in the back. He'll understand, I thought. He did. Larry Carter, was his name and he headed in to grab some water and came back out with a cereal protein bar for me. He offered to fill up my second water bottle, but I as a little embarrassed to say I'd found it on the floor (It was a Camelbak one! They're amazing! It just needed a wash…). His wife Nancy came out to hear about the adventure as well, though she unfortunately didn't bring out her Aussie terrier, that I found out about later, when she followed the page! Weirdly, I then ran past a house with a huge Australian flag and Aussie plates on the car. My navigation isn't that bad, honest. Nancy's directions were a godsend as there was no internet reception round here and she also forewarned me about the 14% gradient I was going to head up. After I gasped my way to the top of a huge hill, I saw a fleet footed chap accelerating away and like an idiot I decided to catch him. Nick was a former college runner and he was still bloody fast. I paid for that later, but I was glad I got to say hello, as he was a nice guy as well as quick. Not long after crossing the famed Mulholland Drive I stopped at a gas station to grab a drink and something to eat and I met my final character of the day! The lady behind the counter, Magdalena was an 8-time LA Marathon veteran and was so taken with my run, she gave me a copy of her CD – a blues/jazz fusion which on listening has a good bit of Bjork about it too! I nearly declined as my hands were full already, I'm glad I didn't, but the situation got worse when I found a California licence plate on the road and this meant I had 10 miles of carrying my three bits of acquired booty down Balboa Drive and on to Santa Clarita, where I would be reunited with Jenny. Nads and Olivia had been on a mission to take the hire car back to LAX, then traipse across the metropolis on public transport after they'd bust Jenny out of storage earlier, in Santa Clarita. As I said. A mission. Such a mission, I got to the end before them and set out disobeying the “No Loitering” sign in McDonalds till they got there.
Day 1 done. Nearly 33 miles. It felt good. My mind's been a bit of a roller coaster the last few weeks. Loving the run, wanting to go back, but balancing the mission with the feeling that I sort of should be getting on with that “life” thing. Worries about funding, trying to get sponsors, planning routes to beat the winter weather and waiting on visas. All of this has vanished (for now at least). Bring the madness. Run or bust. Run till bust? We'll see. Full steam ahead, let's reach another ocean and think about that sort of stuff when we get there.
Start: Santa Monica Pier. Finish: Jct of Via Princessa and Sierra Highway. 32.91 miles. Day 74 Tune of the Day: Blitzkrieg Bop – The Ramones: Hey ho! Let's go!