Despite a somewhat rough start, my sister and I finished the race without a hitch! Best part: We did it wearing Obama shirts! Woo hoo!
As first time participants in the MB 10K, Hui and I did not realize that we needed to allot extra time for catching the shuttle to get to the actual race. When we arrived at the off-site parking lot approximately half an hour before the 7:30 a.m. start time, there appeared to be only 2 (yes, count ’em – 2!) small school buses shuttling people every 15 minutes. I don’t know whose idea it was, but this was the epitome of bad logistics planning since there were at least eighty people shuffling around anxiously. We ended up arriving at the starting point long after the race had already begun. Worse, the bus had to drop us off several blocks away due to road closures – which means that we had to first run in reverse back towards the starting line to activate the special tags attached to our shoes (part of the electronic timing system) – enduring taunts of “hey, you’re running in the wrong direction!” along the way – then retrace our steps to run in the right direction. Ugh.
Our running strategies differed – Hui was a believer in the alternating method (run 1 mile, walk 1 mile) as to maximize energy conservation, while I was in favor of the push-yourself-for-as-far-as-you-can approach. We came to our first juncture after Mile 1 when she wanted to take a break and I wanted to continue. Hui graciously urged me to continue without her. After running for another 2-3 blocks, however, I decided that I much preferred to stick together. I turned around to look for her, but she was nowhere to be found! I stood at the same street corner for at least 10-15 minutes, but still no signs of Hui. I couldn’t understand why she was not coming up – I was at most only a couple of minutes ahead of her (turns out she had taken a wrong turn because the course was not clearly marked). It was also increasingly more difficult to spot one individual in the ever-growing swarm of runners. As waves of people pushed past me, I panicked and wondered if we would be able to find each other at all. I had no money, phone or ID on me. Heck, I barely knew where I was. I guess my best bet was to keep running and hope to find her at the finish line.
Now running alone, I tried to push aside my misgivings and focus on the run. I have never really run a race before (except for Bay to Breakers, but that’s more of a SF-style parade of outlandish costumes) and had never realized how much the encouragement of strangers cheering along the way could be so incredibly energizing. With adrenaline pumping, somehow I managed to push myself to continue to run without stopping, except for a brief break at the gentle slope of the “sand dune.” At Mile 6, I turned the corner and caught my first full view of the ocean – it was breathtakingly beautiful. All I could hear was the lapping of the waves and the loud cheers of supporters standing along The Strand (a nice piece of boardwalk along Manhattan Beach), yelling “You’re almost there!” and “Doing great with your morning jog!” As I crossed the finish line (at 1 hour and 5 seconds – not bad considering our late start and waiting to find Hui at the beginning), I felt exhilarated. In fact, I think I may have become addicted to race running!
Of course Hui and I eventually found each other and ate lunch at the ensuing Hometown Fair with AK. I am so glad to have run this race and happier even for having done so with my sister! It’s not every day that we get to do these types of activities together (side note: our “time together” was further prolonged by a fateful decision to walk back to the parking lot several miles away and then getting lost. . . but I digress, haha).
P.S. Lots of people commented on our Obama shirts, so I guess we did our job in getting the word out!