weSPARK Universal Studios Backlot 10K RECAP!

My legs are still sore, ladies and gentleman, from the 10K race I ran on Sunday. That means I really pushed myself. And I’m really proud of how things turned out. But I’m jumping ahead of myself… I should start at the beginning.

Sunday was a beautiful day for a race: sunny and clear, although it was hot. It ended up being 90 degrees that day, and even though the race was held early in the morning, it was obvious that the day was going to be a scorcher. I got to Universal Studios a little before 8am, and met up with a bunch of friends that were also participating in either the 10K or the 5K run/walk. My buddy Mikael took this picture of me near the starting line…

…and I took this picture of all the 10K runners, with Mikael right there in the front:

The event was sold out. There were 3,000 people competing in either the 10K or the 5K, which meant there were 6,000 eyeballs watching the starter’s platform. You may recall how I was invited to officially start this race, before having that invitation revoked so a celebrity could do it instead, and it wasn’t long before I saw that celebrity, Max Greenfield from “New Girl”, getting into position. That’s him in the hat and sunglasses:

As I’ve mentioned a few weeks ago, I have no ill will towards Max, although I must say that once I saw him up there, I felt a few pangs of jealousy. There wasn’t much time to focus on it, though, because there was a race to run!

This is the second time I’ve run the weSPARK Universal Studios Backlot 10K, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of running this course. It winds through all sorts of movie sets, including Wisteria Lane from “Desperate Housewives,” Jaws Lake, the Bates Motel, the town square from “Back to the Future,” and many more (you can see pictures of some of these in last year’s recap). The course is a 5K loop that the 10K runners complete twice, and it features a giant hill that you run down at the beginning of each loop, and then run up at the end. It’s tough, and I was less prepared for the hill than I was last year. All I could think about during that first loop was how the giant hill was coming up, and how I was going to have to run up it twice. I needed a distraction to get my mind off that hill. And I think I came up with a good one!

Another fun element of this particular race is that the organizers pepper the course with costumed characters, since we’re racing through movie sets and all. And I had the idea, partway through that first loop, of seeing how many of those characters I could high-five. I became a high-fiving machine. Frankenstein and Dracula gave me high-fives, as did the prohibition-era cop and mobsters. Norman Bates had the best reaction: he was an ominous presence lurking in the Bates Motel parking lot, carrying a big knife, and when I ran up to him and said, “High five, Norman!” he responded, without breaking character, with three spooky yet encouraging words: “You got this.”

I didn’t get to high-five every character – the Grinch was busy posing for photographs, and Zorro was involved in a swordfight – but I high-fived a lot of them, which I marked on this route map. Most of the characters were placed in the part of the backlot that corresponded to the movies they’re in, except for the Phantom of the Opera, who was mysteriously positioned in the middle of Wisteria Lane:

My high-five distraction was fun, but it didn’t make that hill any easier. I also had to bribe myself as a way to get up it. “Just make it to the top, and you can walk for 20 seconds,” I told myself, although when I made it to the top, I never stopped running. In fact, I never stopped running during the entire 10K, which was the only goal I set for myself. Here I am a few seconds after crossing the finish line, with my finisher’s medal:

I wasn’t expecting to beat my personal best, and sure enough, I didn’t. I crossed the line in 1 hour, 3 minutes and 27 seconds, which is 4 minutes and 21 seconds slower than my time last year. That works out to roughly 40 seconds slower per mile, and I am just fine with that. My official results:

After I finished the race, I went and found Nancy, the lovely woman in charge of the whole shebang. She was the one who invited me to start the race, and when she had to retract that invitation, she invited me to participate during the medals ceremony. Before the ceremony started, she told me that Max Greenfield had been looking for me; he had wanted to say hello. Well, isn’t that sweet! Perhaps he had seen my blog post from two weeks ago (it would’ve been easy for him to find; I tweeted him the link). I didn’t end up meeting Max – he had to take off before I made it back to the expo area – but it confirm my hunch that he’s a good dude. Maybe our paths will cross another day. Maybe he’ll leave a comment or respond to the tweet that I’ll send him alerting him of this post.

There were a couple other celebrities there, too. I was one of three people handing out medals during the ceremony, and the others were Maggie Elizabeth Jones, the 8 or 9-year-old star of “Ben and Kate” and “We Bought a Zoo,” and Mark L. Wahlberg, who hosts “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS:

Edd Hall, the former announcer for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” was announcing the winners and calling them up to the stage. I’ve actually met Edd before, because 10 years ago I worked at “The Tonight Show” when I was an NBC Page. That’s him on the left:

Passing out the medals and trophies was pretty fun, and Nancy gave me a wonderful introduction and I got a nice round of applause. It was an honor to be asked to participate in that way, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.

I’m also thankful to my wonderful donors, who helped me raise $330 for weSPARK, a cancer support center here in Los Angeles. It means to much to have people back up my fitness-related endeavors by opening their wallets, and I appreciate it!

And the soreness I mentioned at the beginning of this post? It’s mainly in my calves, and it feels good. It feels like… success.

KEEP IT UP, DAVID!

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5 Responses to weSPARK Universal Studios Backlot 10K RECAP!

  1. Mom says:

    Great Blog, David. I think helping to hand out the medals was probably more fun than starting the race!!! Job well done, son.

  2. You did amazing on Sunday! You and I had pretty much the same time, but since I only did the 5K, you were technically twice as fast as me!

    And I feel very special that I got a high five from you on Wisteria Lane.

  3. Nina Fitzgerald says:

    What a wonderful time you had! I enjoyed reading about it!

  4. I was checking out the official photos, and I found this cool one of you giving out medals: http://davidpalmerimages.zenfolio.com/p1053473201/h4a388566#h4a388566

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