You guys, I’m TOTALLY NERDING OUT RIGHT NOW. I’m in nerd heaven. I’ve come up with a new fitness challenge that has me so freakin’ excited, because it plays to all my nerd strengths. It involves statistics. It involves maps. It involves research. And, most importantly, it involves exercise. It’s a nerd dream come true!
I’m calling my new challenge CARDIO TO VEGAS, and here’s how it works (with a little background thrown in, too): I’ve been working hard to get in shape after being sidelined from my surgery, and that hard work has resulted in me doing a lot of cardio. Since I’m not in training for a charity race (like my recent skyscraper climb), I wanted to find something that would help keep me going. So I’m going to run and bike and climb my way to Vegas!
Let me clear, right at the start – I’m not going to literally run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. What I’m going to do keep track of every mile I complete, whether it’s on a run, on an exercise bike, on an elliptical, even in a pool. I’m going to add those miles up, and I’m going to track them on a map. The goal is to log enough miles to get me all the way to Las Vegas, which is 274 miles away.
I’m going to use Google Maps to track my progress. For a starting point, I picked an intersection at Valley Plaza Park, which is near my house. I picked it because A) I often go running there for real and B) I’m not sharing my actual address on the interwebs, are you crazy?
I thought long and hard about an ending point in Las Vegas, and I decided to go with the hotel I stayed at during my most recent trip there. That hotel is called Gold Coast, and it’s an off-strip establishment that hosted “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” auditions two summers ago, which is exactly why I went (read about my “Millionaire” audition here).
Valley Plaza Park, North Hollywood, CA to Gold Coast Hotel, Las Vegas, NV = 274 miles.
I’ve been tracking all my cardio efforts since I was able to start exercising again, and here’s a log of what I’ve done so far:
- 6/13/13: 3.5 miles (walk/run)
- 6/14/13: 4.1 miles (walk/run)
- 6/15/13: 8.1 miles (bike ride in St. Joe, Michigan)
- 6/16/13: 12.78 miles (bike ride in Chicago) – These first four workouts are chronicled in this post.
- 6/17/13: 5 miles (walking in Chicago)
- 6/20/13: 2.8 miles (walk/run)
- 6/21/13: 3.75 miles (elliptical)
- 6/22/13: 8.3 miles (stationary bike)
- 6/23/13: 3.82 miles (walk around downtown LA)
- 6/24/13: 5.7 miles (seated elliptical)
GRAND TOTAL: 57.85 miles!
I’ve decided that I can only count workouts where I can precisely measure distance. Therefore, even though I walked a few miles, at least, around Six Flags Great America last week, I can’t count it because I don’t have the exact number.
I’m already 57.85 miles to Vegas! That puts me right at the Beech Avenue exit of I-15 in Fontana, California.
Now I get to totally nerd out, because I’m going to learn about all the places that I reach along the way!
I’ve only driven through Fontana, a city of about 200,000 that boomed as a steel town in the ’40s, when the first steel mill west of the Mississippi was built there. The mill closed in the ’80s, and the abandoned plant was where the climax of “Terminator 2” was filmed (parts of “RoboCop” were filmed there, too). In the ’50 and ’60s Fontana become known for sanctioned drag racing, and the most notable house in town is one that was allegedly built by gangster Al Capone. The house, at 8775 Tamarind Avenue, has a big “C” on the chimney, which can be seen in this Google satellite image I just found:
It’s never been proven that Capone ever even set foot in the house. He’s only thought to have made it from Chicago to California a few times in his life, but that hasn’t stopped locals from spinning tales. The house allegedly has secret passages and doorways, and perhaps even escape tunnels under the yard.
Fontana is part of the Inland Empire, a term that isn’t heard much outside of southern California. It refers to the enormous metropolitan area east of Los Angeles that’s comprised of dozens of suburbs and anchored by the cities of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ontario. Sidebar: Years and years ago, my sister Laura visited me, and she was surprised to see a highway sign that mentioned San Bernardino. “I didn’t think it was real!” she exclaimed. “I thought they made it up for that Bugs Bunny cartoon when Bugs gets lost!” San Bernardino is in fact real, and home to 213,000 residents, and it does get name-dropped in the hilarious 1953 Looney Tunes short “Bully For Bugs,” which is a classic that my family watched all the time during my formative years (watch it here).
The Inland Empire is dwarfed by neighboring Los Angeles, but it is gigantic. It’s home to 4.35 million people, which makes it the 12th-largest metropolitan area in the country, bigger than Phoenix (4.32 million), Detroit (4.29) and Seattle (3.5).
I love looking up this stuff!
With 57.85 miles under my belt, it means I’ve made it out of Los Angeles County and into San Bernardino County, which is in the record books for being the largest county in the entire United States. It stretches from where I am on my challenge all the way to the Nevada and Arizona borders, measuring over 20,000 square miles. Want some perspective? San Bernardino County is larger than nine U.S. States, including Maryland and Massachusetts. It’s larger than Rhode Island, Delaware, New Jersey, and Connecticut combined. It’s larger than 71 foreign countries, including Switzerland and Denmark. It’s enormous… and most of it is desert. 90% of it, to be exact. And my route to Vegas takes me through that desert. I can’t wait to keep digging to see what else I learn along this challenge!
One more random fun fact about San Bernardino County: According to the San Bernardino County Crop & Livestock Report, “oriental vegetables” were the 7th biggest agricultural product of 1998. I’ve never heard that phrase before, have you?
Here’s the 57.85 miles I’ve completed thus far:
And here’s that same map, but zoomed out to include Vegas in the upper-right corner:
I’ve got a long ways to go… but I’m already 1/5 of the way to Vegas! I’ll keep you posted on my progress in future posts.
KEEP IT UP, DAVID!