8:30 — I’m going to do my final load of laundry. Lucy is still getting ready — she has a Dr’s appt, so didn’t go into work this morning. She’s sitting on the floor with her laptop open, frantically searching for American Idol news, because she couldn’t watch it last night since her TV is now in Boise. She yells — Lakisha may be cut tonight. Good…I never liked her anyway. I wish Haley or Antonella were still in — who cares if they couldn’t sing. Oh wait — am I supposed to know who these people are?
9:15 — Lucy left, and I decide to load the rest of my stuff in my car after I head out for my last run through the neighborhood. I lace up my shoes, lock the door, and head east on Sierra Madre. The sun is warm. There’s Mt Wilson to the left — wait, no, that’s Mt Harvard…very distinct three-pronged antenna sits on top there. I push play on my iPod, which masks the usual hum of the morning leaf blowers.
Where will I run today? I never have a plan — just run where/when and however far I feel like for the day. This morning is different though, since it’s my last day here. I want it to be special. I have a few favorite streets. Hmmm…which one shall I do today? I know — all of them! I’m going to run through all my favorite sections. I start with a slow jog to warmup. Why do my legs feel tired? Oh yeah…it’s only been a few days since Leona.
First stop sign — turn left on Sunnyside. I can see all the way to the base of the mountains, where the Catholic retreat is. Long gradual uphill. My cadence is smooth now. I hear a bird sing — what a musical voice it has. I wonder what it is. I see a pair of wild parrots fly across. It can’t be them — they don’t sound like that. They’re so annoying. Maybe I heard something else.
I reach the gate. Turn right onto a dirt footpath that runs parallel to the backyard of homes on the adjacent street. Nice pool — wish I lived there. Hop a log, and squeeze around the gate, then along the chain link fence that surrounds Bailey Cyn Park, where I had a little fun run 2 years ago. This was one of my favorite trails, and only a handful of people know about it. Very few are ever on it, but I’ve seen Hiker Bob there several times during my runs. It’s only 5 minutes from my place — at least it was.
I continue east on Carter. A short steep climb, then a nice downhill to Baldwin. The road cambers to the right — stay left. More leaf blowers. I cross the intersection, and continue downhill to Mira Monte. A sharp left, and one block to the Mt Wilson trailhead. There are a couple hikers in front of Lizzie’s — they’re sweaty. I run by, and notice the construction still happening at the park — I wonder when they’ll be done.
Left on Sturtevant. Sound familiar? The AC100 skirts around a campground of the same name as the course veers south down the canyon. The road sharply turns left. Hop on the sidewalk — just in time as a car screams around the corner. Surprised? No — it’s happened enough times before.
At the 4-way intersection, I turn right, then left across a bridge. I notice there’s still water flowing — soon, it’ll be bone dry. Down a hill, and right at the bottom — there’s Gary and Pam’s place. They hosted the SoCal Ultra Series party a couple months ago. I continue to the end of the street, then turn left on Grandview. More downhill, then it starts going up. Just before the road crests, I turn left. There’s the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue headquarters, I continue bearing to the right. Wow I don’t remember it being this steep, but it’s been a while since I’d been through there. Should I walk? Yeah…no one’s watching. Oh wait, here comes a lady walking her dog — looks like Sean’s lab Sam who I’ve introduced to the trails up here. I remember him pulling me up Bailey Canyon one time. That was fun. Gillian came up too, and I remember there was a lot of snow up at the top. They couldn’t believe I lived so close to such wonderful trails — I couldn’t either.
Ok, the lady saw me, so better start running. Good morning. I run by. I look around — it’s clear, so I walk again. It’s a short hill, so I already reached the top. Turn right, down to the bottom. There’s the yellow gate to head up to Chantry Flat. Anyone who’s done AC or heard about it know that it’s the 75 mile mark where the race really begins. It’s 3 miles to the parking lot, which is now drivable — just before last year’s AC, they finally fixed the road a third of the way up that was completely washed out from the storms a couple years ago.
30 minutes now into the run, I turn right and head down Santa Anita, then a quick left onto Elkins. This is now Arcadia. Lots of big expensive homes. Big trees too — the kind where you can hang a tire and swing from, the same kind Turbo drags on trails. I think she needs to read the manual again.
I go as far east as I can — the road ends at the LADPW gate into the Wilderness Park. I’ve explored that a bit, but there wasn’t much. It’s pretty hidden, so hardly anyone goes there, but they have nice facilities for a picnic/bbq.
I head south now on Highland Oaks to Doshier — time to start heading back. A left then a right puts me back on Sierra Madre — 1 mile to downtown, where I’m going to stop for a Starbucks. I look down the street to see if there’s a radar trap today. Nope. On the right is Sierra Vista Park — time for a pit stop. Baseball diamond, tennis courts, swimming pool, rec center. In the rear, is where the Sierra Madre Rose Parade float is built and housed. Adjacent to the park is the town cemetery — I bet it’s been around for a while. Yup. I see that person passed away in 1933, there’s one that says 1941.
The sun feels warmer now. No, the temperature’s the same — it’s just me. I see Mt Wilson to my right this time. The road to the stop sign is an ever so gradual uphill — barely detectable when fresh, but feels like a wall after several miles. It reminds me of The Boulevard at Leadville. I pretend I’m running there. I remember it very well from 2005. I was struggling. Racing the clock. Veteran ultrarunner Bob Boeder was next to me, but no one behind — I was the last person on the course. Today, I was in no hurry — no clock to beat this time.
I reach the intersection — downtown Sierra Madre. There’s not much, only things that matter the most — Starbucks, ColdStone, Curves, Dominos…but no signal. There are none. Locals call it Sierra Mayberry. I walk into Starbucks, but I don’t place an order, because they already know what I get — grande caramel macchiato and an LA Times. I sit at a table outside, enjoying the gorgeous day, trying not to think about having to give this up. I never would’ve thought that I’d ever fall in love with this city. How can you resist? It’s almost perfect.
There’s Jim and his dog Squirrel — I met them at the Buccaneer (or the Buc as the locals call it). Calendar. Sports. Business. California. Whatever happened to the Metro section anyway? What about the Herald Examiner. You’re probably too young, or not from LA. Nothing left to read other than the classifieds. No more coffee either. I check the time — it’s 11. I better return to finish packing. It’s just a short 1 mile back home. I start jogging. No, I’m going to walk today. I don’t want this run to end too soon.
There’s Memorial Park with the City Hall, police station, and the volunteer fire department side by side. I keep walking. I hear music, but my iPod isn’t on. It can’t be the leaf blower. What’s that smell? Must be those purple flowers. They weren’t there before. I think I would’ve noticed if they were.
Across the street, there’s the new coffee shop that’s supposed to open soon. It’s called Steamers. I was looking forward to it. There’s the BofA — where I do my banking. I’m only 2 blocks away now. I pass by the women’s club. My driveway is now in view. I turn in. Unit 29, 28…17, 16, 15.
I see my next door neighbor. She lives alone — well, not really, if you count her dogs. She likes to chat — almost too much. I say hello, and quickly walk inside and close the door to avoid getting into a long conversation. I started taking off my shoes, then stopped. I went back outside. Hey Carol — just wanted to say that I’m going to miss having you as my neighbor.